Blessing Babies in the Provo 4th Ward, 1910
Contributor: Carol23 Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
It was the afternoon before Independence Day, July the 3rd, 1910, and members of the Provo 4th Ward had assembled in their meetinghouse in Provo to worship in fast and testimony services. Attendance must have been running late on this day. The meeting commenced at 1:30 instead of the usual 1:00.
Bishop Alfred L. Booth, a Provo attorney, presided on the stand. William Ashworth, six months in to his stint as ward clerk, recorded the proceedings of the day in spare hand-written minutes.
Ashworth noted that the opening hymn, “How Firm a Foundation,” was sung by the ward choir, with the congregation joining in at some point. The choir must have been sounding better than it had in some time. A few months earlier choir director Hebert S. Pyne had complained to Bishop Booth that ward members, and particularly the men, were “indifferent” to choir. Thereafter, the bishopric began to issue personal invitations for ward members to sing in the choir, asking them to “receive the call as a mission.”
George Meldrum then stood to offer the opening prayer, speaking loudly for all to hear. Microphones and hearing aids had not yet been invented, and anyone with a speaking role had to talk louder than usual, so as to allow all to hear.
After Meldrum sat down, the choir sang another number, “As the Dew from Heaven Gently Falling.”
The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was then blessed and passed by Elders William S. Rawlings and Frank L. Copening. The tradition of older teenage boys—priests—blessing the sacrament had not yet been established in the church; Rawlings and Copening were men in their 40s.
During this period in Mormon history, members of the congregation did not sit in silence as they do today while the bread and water (and, in rarer cases, wine) are passed to the congregation. On this day, Ashworth noted in the minutes that while bread was being passed the choir sang “Prayer is the Souls Sincere Desire”; while the water was being passed, Brother Pyne, the choir director, stood and read the 4th chapter of Luke. Pyne must have commanded respect. He was then county physician and director of the Utah County Medical Society and in all likelihood was a careful and effective reader.
The water would have been passed around in a large jug—a common cup. Two years later, the Utah Board of Health would pass an ordinance outlawing drinking from common cups, and thereafter wards began using individual sacrament cups, either paper or glass. The bread used for the sacrament would have been locally and probably freshly baked. In 1907, the ward had asked a local baker to leave a loaf of bread with the ward janitor every week. By 1910 the ward was operating its own cooperative bakery, with members of the ward supplying their own baked goods and members of the co-op sharing in the profits. The bread used at the July 3 meeting likely came from that co-op.
The sacrament portion of the service now complete, it was time for the blessing of babies, which was traditionally done on the first Sunday of every month. Four babies were blessed that day, an indicator of the youthful demographic of the ward. The 4th ward surrounded the city block where Brigham Young University was located (the present Provo City Library block). It quite naturally contained a mixture of young families and old timers.
George McKellar Elliott, the infant son of Edwin Hezekiah Elliott and Ruby McKellar Elliott, was the first baby to be blessed that day. Edwin and Ruby were not members of the ward. They were in their early 20s, had been married 13 months, and were then living in Eureka, a small mining town near the Tintic Mountains southwest of Provo. George was their first child. Edwin grew up in Provo, and his parents lived in the ward. The couple likely came to Provo to bless their baby so that the babe’s aged grandparents could be present.
Ida Markman came next. She was the last of the five children born to James Markman and Sarah A. Stubbs, who lived on 4th North and 276 in Provo. James was born in Denmark and emigrated to Utah with his family while still a child. He worked in Provo as a plasterer.
Alma Ray Jones was the third of the babies blessed that day. Baby Alma was the son of Charles Alma (“Alma”) Jones and Julie (“Julia”) Hortence Sackett. Alma, 19, Julie, 18, had married the previous January; Alma Ray was born four months later. Alma had been born and raised in Provo, and Julia grew up in Brigham City. After their marriage they settled in the Provo 4th Ward, where Alma found work as a laborer at the local woolen mills. They went on to have five more children before divorcing. Alma Ray was the only one of the six children who did not survive to adulthood. He died eight months after he was blessed.
Alden Davis Miner was the last of the four blessed this day. Alden was the third child (all sons) born to Austin C. Miner, 29, and Zella Davis Miner, 27. Alden worked construction in Provo. Zella’s final child, another son, would be born four years after Alden, on a cold December evening in Yellowstone, Montana. Zella died due to complications the day after giving birth. Her infant son lived just two days, dying the day after his mother. Austin had to have help with his young sons and soon remarried Sarah Banks Creer, a Spanish Fork widow with two children. Austin and Sarah raised their blended family in Provo. They had three children of their own, for a total of eight between the three families.
All four of the infants who were blessed in the Provo 4th Ward on July 3, 1910, were born in the month of May. They ranged between 4 and 7 weeks in age. In the nineteenth century, Mormon babies were often blessed three to six months or more after birth, reflecting the concern many parents had about the spread of infectious diseases. That concern had begun to dissipate by the early decades of the twentieth century. It helped that the babies blessed on this day were all born late in the spring, after the weather had warmed. Parents were less inclined to worry about the child catching sick.
None of the four babies was blessed by their fathers. Until the mid-twentieth century, it was rare for a Mormon child to be blessed by his birth father. It was more common for the family to ask a person who commanded great respect to bless the child. The blessing was not a “father’s blessing” so much as a blessing that prophesied the future. Prophecy should be put in hands of people who were thought to have the gift—a Church leader, perhaps, or someone the family admired.
The Elliott baby was blessed by his great uncle, Ralph Elliott, a member of the 4th ward who served as city recorder. The other two babies were blessed by patriarchs: the Markman baby was blessed by John D. Jones, a member of the 4th ward and a Welch native who was nearly ninety years old. The Miner baby was blessed by Andrew Watson, also a long-time 4th warder. Watson and Jones were much respected and admired in the ward, so much so that the ward purchased special rocking chairs for the chapel where these two venerable patriarchs sat during congregation meetings.
After the baby blessings, it was time to read the names of new members the ward. At this time in Mormon history, membership records were not sent from one ward to another pro forma. Church members who were moving to a new ward or town were expected to obtain short letter of reference from their former bishop that was to be presented to the new bishop upon entering the new ward. This letter “recommended” the member to the new bishop. It indicated that the person was a member of good standing in the church; if the person was not in good standing, the person could attend meetings but could not be recommended to the congregation until the matter was resolved with church authorities. The reading of a member’s name to the congregation indicated that the church member had been recommended, which in turn allowed congregation to “receive” the member, that is, to accept the person in full fellowship.
Bertha Christensen Wilson was the first name read. William Ashworth, the ward clerk, wrote that her prior ward was Emery Ward, Emery Stake, in central Utah. Two day before, Bertha delivered had her first child, a baby girl she named Bernice. Bertha, 19, may have moved to Provo to receive good medical care during the extended period of confinement that was then the norm for women giving birth for the first time. The name of her husband, Wilford, also 19, was not read at this time, perhaps indicating that he had not obtained a recommendation.
The name of Charles Alma Jones, the father of one of the babies blessed that day, was read. He had moved from Provo 3rd ward. The name of his wife was not read.
The name of Joseph H. Sandstrum, a deacon who had moved from the 18th Ward, Ensign Stake, in Salt Lake City was read.
The business of the meeting was now completed. It was now time for testimony bearing in which members of the audience stood and walked to the podium and spoke as they felt so inspired (or, in cases of infirmity, standing in the pew were they were sitting and speaking to the audience). “The meeting was then placed in the hands of Saints,” the clerk wrote, “to bear testimonies or in any way they felt lead [sic].”
William S. Rawlings, who had administered the sacrament, stood first. He “bore his testimony of the work of the Lord. He had no cause to doubt the truth of the Gospel.”
The came Edith Young, the 22-year-old school teacher and daughter of Oscar and Anna Young, who lived in the ward. Oscar, who died in 1903, was the son of Brigham Young, the Mormon prophet. Edith “said she was glad she was a member of the church and had an assurance of the truth of the Gospel.” Little did anyone know it in 1910, but five years later Edith Young would become the wife of Bishop Alfred Booth, two years following the death of Booth’s first wife, Maria Ashworth (the daughter of ward clerk William Ashworth).
“Patriarch Andrew Watson,” who had blessed the Miner baby earlier in the meeting, stood and bore testimony next. A Scottish emigrant, Watson was often the first member of the ward to stand and bear testimony on fast Sunday, perhaps because his priesthood office gave him a seat of honor on the stand, giving him not far to walk. On this occasion, Watson “rejoiced in the work of the Lord and bore a strong testimony of how the Lord had blessed him.”
Mary Ann Anderson, 36, stood next. A widow of three years, she had her hands full in raising five young children alone. But she seemed to hold no grudge against God for her lot. She “spoke of the Goodness of the Lord unto her during the past Month.”
Sister Kirsten Peterson, a married mother of four, ages 14 to 4, stood and addressed the problem of gossip. She “wondered why we should feel so well during the time we are in meeting and during the week we could talk about our neighbors and all such actions.” The problem was partly a function of living in a small town where one religion dominated and everyone knew everyone else—and thus nothing could be kept secret. The 1910 U.S. census put the population of Provo at just 8,700.
Frank Copening stood next. He “narrated what good affect good singing had on the minds of the Saints, even those who are down cast and forlorn.” Copening, a real estate agent, may have been making a pitch for the newly revitalized ward choir.
The ward clerk wrote the name “Sister Joseph Beck” next. He may not known that her first name was Bernetta (“Nettie”). Nettie and Joseph were in their early 40s and were the parents of one son. (Nettie had borne two addition children who each died after just a few days.) At this particular fast and testimony meeting, she wanted to say she “was glad to be present and enjoy the good Spirit she felt present.”
Louisa Harris, 69, stood next. She was a pioneer woman through and through. Born in Illinois in 1839, she crossed the plains to Utah with her family the same year Utah territory was organized, in 1850. She married Charles Harris in 1855 when she was not yet sixteen years of age. She had her first baby at seventeen, and eventually had eleven children altogether. She and Charles and their brood lived in log cabins in Toquerville, Parowan, Richfield, and Junction before moving to Provo in the late 1880s. Soon after, Charles married another wife, which forced him to go on the underground to elude arrest. Louisa’s marriage to Charles was never the same after that. One her sons remembered when Charles finally returned, he lived out his days with the second wife.
Louisa, meanwhile, occupied her own home in the Provo 4th Ward and earned a living by keeping BYU student boarders until her death in 1923. (Charles had died in 1916.) She had had a hard life, but was aided by a naturally cheerful disposition. “I cannot recall ever seeing my mother blue or discouraged,” her son Silas remembered.
In her testimony to the Provo 4th Ward, Louisa was thinking about her children, who had grown into responsible adults and must have helped her immensely over the years in Charles' absence. Six of them had become schoolteachers. She “was thankful the Lord had blessed her with a family and that all were members in the church.” She must have known many others whose children had not turned out as they had hoped.
David John Blake, 37, followed Louisa Harris at the pulpit. Blake and his wife Laura Thuesen Blake were the parents of four children under the age 10 (the youngest was 10 weeks old). David, who co-owned a Provo furniture store, himself came from a large family, the oldest of twelve children. Community seemed to be important to him. “These [testimony] meetings,” he told his fellow ward members, “were more like the home circle. We could reach each other and come nearer together it seemed to him than at any other meeting.”
Mark E. Kartchner Sr., 56, seems to have been prompted to stand after listening to Louisa Harris say she was thankful all her children were in the church. Kartchner “believed all his fathers family were in the church and was thankful for the testimony he had.”
The Kartchners had played an important colonizing role in the church. After enduring the Missouri persecutions of the 1830s, Mark’s parents came across the plains to Utah in 1847, then moved on to California to help colonize San Bernardino, where Mark was born in 1853. When the colony broke up during the Utah War, the Kartchners came back to Utah and moved in quick succession to Beaver, the Muddy River settlement in southern Nevada, and then to Panguitch. Mark came from a family of eleven children; seven of them were still alive in 1910—these were the children who were, he believed, “all…in the church.”
In Panguitch, Mark met Phebe Palmer, and they were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on May 11, 1874. The two families had particular affinity for one another. On that same day, two Kartchner brothers married two Palmer brothers, and one Kartchner sister married one Palmer brother.
Mark and Phebe made their home in Panguitch—the Palmers and the Kartchners couldn’t stand to be apart from each other, after all—until called by their bishop to help colonize Snowflake, Arizona. They remained eighteen years in Arizona, raising their children there, until 1895, when they moved to the Provo bench, where Mark carried mail, farmed, and opened a small store. In 1907 they moved to the Provo 4th Ward. Mark and Phebe remained there until 1919, when they retired to Salt Lake and spent the remainder of their days doing temple work for their dead.
Daniel Peter (“D. P.”) Thuesen, 68, was the last to the stand that day. Thueson was the father of Laura, the wife of David John Blake, who bore his testimony earlier in the meeting. D.P. and his wife Hermine were long-time Provo residents; each of their eight children had been born in Provo, though just five had lived to adulthood. Thuesen worked as a shoemaker by day. On this Sunday, he “rejoiced in the work of the lord and always felt well in attending fast meetings.”
The time was now far spent. The meeting closed by the choir and congregation singing “Lord we ask ere we part” from page 49 of “Songs of Zion.”
The minutes ended:“Wm Ashworth, Ward Clerk”
Source: Minutes, Feb. 13, 1907; Nov. 7, 1909; March 27, July 3, 1910, Provo 4th Ward, General Minutes, 1909-12, LR 7224 11, v. 17, 19, Church History Library, Salt Lake City; Silas A. Harris, “A Brief Life Sketch of Louisa Hall Harris,” 16, Family Search.
Fast and Testimony Meeting: Provo, Nov. 1909
Contributor: Carol23 Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
It was a typical fast and testimony Sunday in the Provo 4th Ward.
November 7, 1909.
Ward clerk James O. Oliver captured the gist of each testimony in one or two sentences that he jotted down and later typed onto legal-sized paper.
Patriarch Andrew Watson, now beginning his seventy-eighth year, was the first to the stand that day. He was often the first to stand at fast and testimony meeting. (He may have had the advantage of sitting on the stand, closer to the podium.) A Scottish emigrant, he had pulled handcarts across the plains in the ill-fated Willie Company, a half century earlier. Watson saw much death along that journey and in the years since. Yet, as he grew older and felt the power of God flow through him, he marveled more at what the Lord preserved than at what He took. Watson “rejoiced that the Lord had given to his priesthood the power to heal the sick.”
The reference to healing triggered thoughts in other members of the congregation. After Watson sat down, another old-timer named William O. (“Oscar”) Sperry stood up. A native of Connecticut, Oscar and his wife Eliza Ann Cloward joined the Mormons way back in 1849. They came across the plains and settled in Provo when it was just a tiny fort populated with a few dozen families who engaged in occasional skirmishes with Ute Indians. Like Andrew Watson, Oscar Sperry had seen a lot of sickness and death in his seventy-seven years. On this day, he “bore testimony that he had witnessed the healing under the hands of the priesthood.”
Mary M. Boyden, treasurer of the ward Relief Society and a member of the ward's Old Folks Committee, stood up next. She “had seen the sick healed,” the minutes recorded.
The concern for healing in the testimonies reflects a tension within the Mormon mind at the time. The advent of germ theory in the 1880s had changed the way western medicine was done. Scientific medicine was having more success than ever before and was thus gaining in repute. To the extent that this medicine healed their loved ones, Latter-day Saints welcomed these advances. But they also found scientific medicine threatening because it tended to encroach on the realm of faith. Many Latter-day Saints felt the need to preserve a realm where only priesthood healing blessings could go, where the knowledge of doctors fell short. By testifying of spiritual healing practices, Mormons like Boyden, Sperry, and Watson affirmed Mormonism’s superiority over other systems of knowledge then in ascendance.
Elmer E. Hinckley (the future uncle of Mormon president Gordon B. Hinckley) stood next. He may have felt uncomfortable with the direction of the testimonies and stood to provide a gentle corrective. Hinckley had a medical degree from St. Louis University and by 1910 was working as chief medical examiner at BYU. The talk of healing reminded him more of his missionary labors in Alabama in the mid-1890s than his present work at BYU. He too had witnessed remarkable healings. Just as important, he “had learned by experience that if we bear our testimony the Lord will open our mouths and give us words to say. The power of the Lord had been witnessed in the mission field and he knew that doctors could do more in their labors among the sick if the aid of the Lord was sought.” Doctors, in other words, were useful. Some Mormons still felt like doctors should be shunned and priesthood blessings were all that was needed to heal the sick; Hinckley believed a combination of approaches—science and religion—worked best.
Mary A. Hillman, whom the minutes described as a “visitor” to the ward, “felt to bear testimony for where she had been living it was harder to live her religion than here in Provo.” The 1910 census listed her as living in Lehi. At the time she bore her testimony, Hillman was 41 and on her third marriage.
During this period of Mormon history, an intermediate hymn often broke up fast and testimony meetings into two halves. Such meetings tended to go longer than the hour and ten minutes they are allotted today. They could go more than two hours, making a rest hymn useful.
The congregation and choir now sang a rest hymn, “Oh My Father,” after which Kirsten Hansine Petersen stood. Peterson was a second-generation Mormon who was born in northern Utah, in Cache Valley, to Danish converts to the church. Her father’s surname was “Pederson”; she married a Danish-Mormon by the name of “Peterson.” She and Wilhelm had five children, ages 14 to 4. He had difficult work stoking the fires for the Denver & Rio Grand Railroad. Though the couple started out married life giving their children thoroughly Scandinavian names like Neils and Olaf, they gave younger children more Mormon-sounding names like Willard and Eliza, perhaps indicating their deepening commitment and enculturation in the faith.
Kirsten “bore testimony of how the Lord had answered her prayer and given her a testimony of the Spirit World.” Pedersen, 34, would have had access to family names through her parents, who were the link to the old country. She may have performed vicarious ordinance work for the dead in Mormon temples and sensed that her efforts had been accepted in the world where people went after death.
Ellen (“Nell”) Harris then stood to speak. Born in Northumberland, England, Harris emigrated to Utah as a child. She was now 42, a widow, and a mother of three sons and a daughter who lived with her. To put food on the table, she took in boarders, though occasionally the ward pitched in by giving her fast offering funds. She told the congregation that “her heart was full of thankfulness to her Heavenly Father for the many blessings that he has lately given her.”
The next speaker clerk James O. Oliver listed in the minutes was a “Sister Rupp”—Oliver may not have known her first name. The 1910 U.S. census listed no Rupps living in Provo that year. Sister Rupp may have been a visitor. In any case, she “felt that the Lord will strengthen us for the duties we have to perform.”
William Buckley, an English emigrant in his early 70s, followed Sister Rupp. The year was coming to a close, and only one testimony meeting remained in the year 1909. Buckley sensed the window closing. He said he “desired that his name should go on the records as one that had borne his testimony this year.”
At this point in the meeting, Bishop Alfred Booth stood to say a few words. What he had heard in the meeting doubtless impressed him, but it was not sufficient. Nine people had born their testimonies, five women and four men. Only one in the group was a priesthood holder under seventy years of age. Where were the younger men? Booth said he “felt that some of the brethren holding the priesthood should occupy some of the time and called up on the Ward Clerk for the names of persons that had born their testimony.”
James A. Oliver then read the names of those of those who had spoken.
Oliver, 48, remained to bear his testimony. No other younger men were forthcoming. After Oliver sat down, John G. Jones, a convert from Wales, stood and concluded the testimony bearing for that day. Jones, a patriarch, was in his eightieth year—the oldest speaker of the day.
Source: Minutes, Nov. 7, 1909, Provo 4th Ward, General Minutes, 1909-1912, LR 7224 11, v. 19, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.
A Day in the Life of Provo 4th Ward, 1910
Contributor: Carol23 Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
It was the Sabbath, May 1, 1910.
Members of the Provo 4th Ward had come to their ward house in Provo to worship in the regular monthly fast and testimony meeting.
At 1:00 that afternoon, Bishop Alfred L. Booth called the meeting to order.
It was only the third fast and testimony meeting that William Ashworth had ever recorded. He had been sustained as ward clerk the previous February, replacing James A. Oliver, who had served in the position for over a decade.
Ashworth, 65, was still trying to find his own style. Oliver had jotted down notes and then typed them out after the meeting was over on loose pages of lined legal-sized paper. Ashworth never typed out his minutes. He was, nevertheless, a sturdy speller and a man of administrative talent. Born in industrial Lancashire, Ashworth emigrated to Utah while he was still a child. His family settled in Beaver. He later returned to England as a missionary, and after returning to Utah, made a living superintending the Beaver Woolen Factory. In those days, the largest wool factory in Utah was in Provo. It made sense that Ashworth would want to move up. In the early 1890s he moved up the road to Provo, where he became manager of the Provo Milling and Manufacturing Company, over which a young Reed Smoot, the future apostle, was president.
Ashworth wrote his minutes in ink in a flowing cursive hand. He wrote on the same paper Oliver used and adjoined his pages with Oliver’s typed pages. Together, these loose pages were later bound together as part of a running record of the ward’s activities.
Ashworth’s method seemed fine with Bishop Booth, a Provo attorney. Booth, 45, was married to Ashworth’s daughter, May. The two men understood one another; Booth could see no reason why Ashworth could not imprint his own style onto the minutes.
One thing remained constant between the two clerks. Oliver often wrote a line or two summarizing what each of the testimony bearers said every month. Ashworth carried on the tradition. The lines weren’t so much a summary of the content as an expression of the heart or spirit of the person. It said a lot about a person simply to note that they stood and bore testimony of the Gospel.
May Ashworth Booth, the bishop’s wife and the clerk’s daughter, was the first to stand that day. Ashworth’s spare minutes read: she “bore her testimony, was thankful for the blessings of hearth enjoyed [by] herself and family.” That was the entire summary. (He wrote "hearth" but may have meant "health.") He lavished no more attention on preserving his daughter’s words than he did anyone else’s in the ward.
Mary Ann Anderson, 35, stood next. A widow of two years, she had her hands full in raising five young children alone. She must have been grateful for all the church was doing to help raise these children. She “was also glad to be present,” Ashworth wrote, “and wondered if we appreciate the privileges and blessings we enjoy. We should be more sympathetic toward each other—and encourage each other more.” One wonders if there was any regret in these words. Did Anderson wish she had said more encouraging words to husband before he died suddenly at the age of 48?
William Buckley, 71, an old-time British emigrant who lived on 9th north and Academy (later University) Ave, wanted to “corroborate” the testimony of Sister Anderson. “We should always do good,” he said, “and show acts of kindess to our fellow man.” The congregation knew Buckley as a man who loved to sing the hymns. On another occasion, he told the ward that he took “great pleasure” both in reading the “songs of Zion” and in singing them. He thought the Psalms, in particular, were “the most beautiful sentiments.”
Then it was the turn of the aged sister from Wales. Ashworth may not have known her first name; he simply called her “Sister Monk.” She was, in any case, “thankful for the knowledge she had of the Gospel.”
James A. Oliver, the former clerk, stood next. By day he worked as the superintendent of the Utah County Infirmary. Oliver “desired that he might enjoy the spirit of the Lord. He rejoiced in the Gospel and encouraged all to be faithful and live worthily of the blessings of the Lord.”
During this period of Mormon history, it was not customary for children and youth to stand in fast and testimony meeting, as they do today. Only adults bore testimony on this day. Hugh Holdaway, 23, was the youngest speaker. A newlywed of 8 months, he was also a student at BYU, which was then located exclusively on the Academy (now Provo City Library) block of Provo but was soon to expand to its present location on the crest of what locals called "Temple Hill." Holdaway spoke as a young man whose faith was growing and whose life was just beginning to take off. He “bore his testimony and hoped to continue faithful.”
By this point, Ashworth had caught the spirit of the meeting and felt moved to stand up and say a few words. There may have been a lag in the testimonies, prompting Ashworth to step in the fill the space. “Bro. Wm Ashworth,” he wrote of himself after he sat down, “felt desirous of appreciating the blessings of health enjoyed.”
By 1910, temperance reform was a topic on the lips of many people. Many U.S. states had already gone dry, and some people in Utah—most vociferously Apostle Heber J. Grant—argued that it was an embarrassment that the Beehive State had not done the same. The state legislature had just finished months of heated debate on this issue, with the local option position—that communities should make their own prohibition laws—winning out. It would be another half dozen years before Utah would pass statewide prohibition as a run-up to nation-wide prohibition.
William Ashworth’s testimony reflected these debates. He clearly favored temperance reform, though whether the local option or statewide prohibition is not clear from the minutes. (Latter-day Saints were divided on this issue.) He “said how much better the world of mankind would be providing they were all as good as the Latterday Saints [at] present are (with all our weaknesses and they are many). There would be no saloons, no houses of ill fame and other faults practiced by the people of the world.”
After Ashworth sat down, Sarah Baker, 55, came to the front. She, like Ashworth, was an English convert and an emigrant. She was also a widowed mother of ten. She appears to have held nothing against God for her lot. Ashworth said she spoke “of the goodness of the Lord unto her.”
Elias Gee, 41, spoke next. Ashworth had Gee saying that he “rejoiced in the work of the Lord." Gee and his wife Frances were both second-generation Mormons who had been born and raised in Provo. They had known tragedy, but like many Mormons their age, they had known less of it than their parents' generation had. Gee had steady work as a clerk at the church's mercantile outfit (ZCMI). He “did not think there was another [people] in the world that were more comfortably situated as a whole than were the Latter-day Saints,” he said on another occasion.
Elias and Frances were the parents of seven children, just one of whom had already died (at the age of 2). As scientists found vaccinations for age-old epidemics like small pox and diphtheria, younger families like the Gees were beginning to see fewer childhood deaths. The Gees' other six children were all under eighteen and still lived with their parents. It was must have been a very busy time for the Gees. Elias Gee “was glad,” he said, that “he had received such good counsel he had received [sic] from his parents.”
William Ashworth did not record what that counsel was. Gee's parents, George and Sophina Gee, were longtime Provo residents who would have been known to many in the audience. Moreover, Frances' parents, James and Harriet Bean, were members of the Provo 4th Ward. Elias Gee's reference to "parents" may have encompassed both sets of parents. His reference to the "good counsel" he had been given was a public tribute to the older generation who had shaped the man he had become.
Mormon wards in this period often sang a hymn in the middle of testimony meeting, breaking up the testimonies, which tended to go on longer than the usual hour and ten minutes allotted to the meeting today.
On this day, the rest hymn seems to have come rather late. After the congregation sang “The Spirit of God like a Fire Is Burning,” Emma Westerman Ashworth arose. She was the last testimony of the day.
Emma Ashworth was William’s wife. Like her husband, she was born in England, in Nottingham, converted to the church, and emigrated to Zion.
Emma Ashworth was not, however, the mother of May Ashworth Booth, the wife of Bishop Booth. Emma Ashworth was the second of William’s two wives; May Booth had been born to the first. William and Emma had married in Utah in 1884, after the federal government had stripped Mormon women of the right to vote and made “unlawful cohabitation” (code for Mormon polygamy) a crime punishable by fine and jail sentence. By 1884, Mormon leaders thought of new plural marriages as a sign of loyalty to the church. Five years later, Ashworth would be indicted and convicted of unlawful cohabitation in a Beaver court.
Many polygamists, including high Mormon leaders, continued to cohabit and bear children with their plural wives after the Manifesto of 1890 signaled the beginning of the end of plural marriage. William and Emma followed this course. William’s first wife, Mary Elizabeth Shepherd, bore her last child in 1892. Emma bore children in 1891, 1893, and 1894.
William had made marriage covenants in holy places with these women, and in his mind the sacredness of these vows trumped—and indeed, preceded—what he could only have thought were the unjust laws enacted by prejudiced men. But he would have to suffer the consequences for fidelity to these covenants. In 1894, seven months after Emma had given birth to their child, William was again arrested—this time with Emma—by a deputy marshal in Provo and charged with adultery, a more severe charge than unlawful cohabitation. The outcome of the case is unknown; after 1890, other such cases were often dismissed by friendly judges.
William's reference to the problem of "houses of ill fame" in Utah can be read as a lament that the old Mormon order had disappeared. Many nineteenth-century Mormon sermons argued that polygamy made prostitution unnecessary and that "houses of ill fame" arose because Americans had not adopted the Mormon marriage system. Whether the argument was valid or not, people like William would not have used such terms arbitrarily. William believed he had done right to follow God's law; "houses of ill fame" were Satan's counterfeit.
William Ashworth's two wives lived next door to another on 5th North in Provo. The 1910 census listed William living in the same household (167 West) with his first wife, Mary Elizabeth Shepherd, along with the four children they had still living at home, ages 17 to 24. Emma Ashworth, meanwhile, was listed as the head-of-household (155 West) of four children ages 17 to 23. All told, William’s two wives bore him 13 children.
Emma Ashworth struck others as a strong woman. At the time of this fast and testimony meeting, she was then serving as head of Religion Classes in the ward. Her title was "superintendent." That meant that she was in charge of all the after-school religious instruction for every child in the ward. The Mormon seminary system was still a few years off, and the Religion Classes were precursor to seminary, only for grade school and older children alike. The program was phased out a few decades later when Primary and Seminary were deemed sufficient organizations for after-school instruction.
“The Lord knows our hearts and desires,” Emma Ashworth said as she took the stand, according to the minutes kept by husband William. “If we were judged by our outward appearance she feared we would come short of our expectations.”
It was comforting for Emma to know that the Lord could see into her soul and on this basis judge her fairly, even if members of her ward did not.
Sister Ashworth’s testimony seemed like a good place to end the meeting. Bishop Booth stood and brought the services to a close by asking the choir to sing “If the Way Is Full of Trials.” The benediction was then offered by Oscar Russell.
With that, William Ashworth’s job was done for the day.
“Wm Ashworth clerk,” he signed at the bottom.
Sources: Minutes, May 1, 8, June 12, 1910, Provo 4th Ward, General Minutes, 1909-12, LR 7224 11, v. 19, Church History Library, Salt Lake City; “Personal,” Salt Lake Herald, Jan. 15, 1884; “Beaver Court,” Salt Lake Herald, Sept. 10, 1889; “Milling and Manufacturing Company,” June 7, 1892; “Charged With Adultery,” Jan. 12, 1894, Salt Lake Herald [Utah Digital Newspapers]; “Emma Ashworth Passes Away,” Provo Evening Herald, Feb. 10, 1936 [Newspaper Archive]; Family Search.
Alfred Lewis Booth biography, 1919
Contributor: Carol23 Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
Alfred Lewis Booth
Alfred Lewis Booth, of Provo, is a citizen whose life has been of unusual worth and benefit to the community in which he lives and to his native state. He is now successfully practicing law and he has left the impress of his individuality and ability in marked measure upon the political history of Utah, especially in connection with important legislative interests. He was born in Alpine, Utah, January 17, 1864, a brother of John Edge Booth, one of Utah's prominent citizens whose sketch appears above.
Alfred Lewis Booth is numbered among the alumni of the Brigham Young Academy, having been graduated with the class of 1886. He determined upon the practice of law as a life work and with that end in view became a student in the office of Booth & Wilson and was admitted to the bar in 1892. Through the intervening years he has continuously and successfully practiced and has argued many cases and lost but few. No one better knows the necessity for thorough preparation and no one more industriously prepares his cases than Mr. Booth. His course in the court room is characterized by a calmness and dignity that indicate reserve strength. He is always courteous and deferential toward the court and kind and forbearing toward his adversaries. He examines a witness carefully and thoroughly but treats him with a respect which makes the witness grateful for his kindness and forbearance. His handling of his cases is always full, comprehensive and accurate; his analysis of the facts is clear and exhaustive; he sees without effort the relation and dependence of the facts and so groups them as to enable him to throw their combined force upon the points they tend to prove. He has won many notable cases and is regarded as one of the ablest representatives of the Provo bar.
Mr. Booth was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the 3d of August, 1872, and was confirmed on the 4th of August. Throughout his life he has been an active worker for the church and has served as teacher, as elder, high priest, member of the Seventy and as bishop. He went on a mission to England in 1894 and remained in the Liverpool office there until 1896, acting as editorial writer on the Millennial Star.
With his return to America Mr. Booth took up the active practice of law, and through the intervening period his practice has been extensive and of a representative character.
In May, 1900, Mr. Booth was married to Miss May Ashworth of Beaver, Utah, a daughter of William Ashworth, who became a resident of the state during pioneer times. Two children were born to them, Editha and Leona. May Ashworth Booth died in 1913. In 1915 Mr. Booth wedded Edith Young, of Provo, a daughter of Oscar B. Young, and they have one child, Thornton Young.
In politics Mr. Booth has ever been an earnest republican, giving stalwart allegiance to the party and its principles. In 1911 he was elected to the state senate and served as a member of the upper house for two years. He introduced a bill providing for the regulation and abatement of the liquor traffic and he has ever stood as a stalwart champion of the cause of temperance. Aside from his legislative service he has done active work in many other offices. He was a member of the Provo school board from 1897 until 1900, was city councilman from 1905 until 1908 and served as city attorney of Provo in 1903 and 1904. Prior to this time he had acted as city surveyor from 1899 until 1891 and was county surveyor from 1890 until 1892. A man of well balanced character is one who does not center his interests upon a single line of activity but recognizes his duties in every relation, and such has been the record of Mr. Booth, who is not only and able and forceful lawyer, a statesman and representative citizen, but also one whose efforts in behalf of moral progress have contributed much to the upbuilding of the church. After serving as teacher and as elder and high priest he was ordained a bishop on the 13th of January, 1907. He has been counselor to three bishops and it is worthy of note that his first wife's mother, Mrs. Mary E. Ashworth, was the daughter of a bishop, the daughter-in-law of a bishop, the wife of a bishop and the mother-in-law of two bishops of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
From: Ancestry.com., Utah Since Statehood, Volumes 1-4 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2000. Original data: Noble Warrum, ed.. Utah Since Statehood. Vol. 1-4. Chicago, IL, USA and Salt Lake City, UT, USA: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1919.