Monday, August 15, 2016

The Philadelphia Inquirer Reviews Mormon History

Thanks to Brenda in the Friends of the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple Facebook group for sharing an article just published in the local newspaper:

That's a positive and accurate review of some of the early history of the Church in Pennsylvania.

The display on Mormon documents should be opening today at the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the display at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania continues.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Wilford Woodruff and the Founding Fathers

Picture of the Founding Fathers in the waiting room of the Philadelphia Temple.
Photograph courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

With the beautiful new temple opening in Philadelphia, there has been a surge of interest in the story about Wilford Woodruff's vision of the Founding Fathers. (Here it is in a lesson manual (link)). An accurate account was shared today in the Philadelphia Stake Conference, and interest will undoubtedly remain high about the story.

Please be aware that incorrect versions of the story have been shared widely over the years. If you learned the story of Wilford Woodruff and the Founding Fathers many years ago in seminary or at your mother's knee, or if you are familiar with the works of art, or if you have read certain books on the topic, it would be a good idea to catch up with the current scholarship before you find yourself sharing erroneous information.

It was not until recently that independent historians and authors including Jennifer MackleyBlaine YorgasonBrian Stuy, and myself, looked carefully at the story and realized that the shared versions were not always true to Wilford Woodruff's experience. Some errors traced back to an unreliable account written by a descendant of a man named James G. Bleak. (If you like gritty historical detail, you can read a short history of the erroneous Bleak account here (link). The woman who wrote the linked comment probably knows more about Wilford Woodruff than any other living person.)

Here are eight important points about the vision:

• The vision was one in a series of notable events to happen in the first year of operation of the St. George Temple, the first temple built in Utah Territory. The events of 1877, including the vision of the Founding Fathers, helped Wilford Woodruff and the men and women working with him to figure out how to move large numbers of people through the temple, and for the first time in this dispensation, administer all the temple ordinances for both the living and the dead. 

• Wilford Woodruff's vision and experiences helped raise interest among Church members about the doctrines associated with temple work, and they also taught him and the Church about the universal reach of the gospel. He wrote after a similar experience earlier that year:
By this labor in redeeming our dead by Proxey much Can be accomplished. Our dead Can be redeemed. This principle has given me great Joy unspeakable at the thought that I Can live on the Earth to behold my Numerous friends redeemed who are in the spirit World. This principle says to us in loud language that the Lord is Good and Gracious, and his Mercies Endureth forever.
• The vision of the Founding Fathers may have occurred in a room in the St. George Temple, but it also may have occurred in an upstairs room in the home of Thomas and Caroline Cottam. Wilford Woodruff was alone during the vision, which happened on two successive nights. He was familiar with the workings of the gifts of the spirit, and his visions had changing meanings for him over his lifetime.

• Wilford Woodruff said that the spirits of the signers of the Declaration of Independence gathered around him. He subsequently collected the temple workers in the temple and did baptisms and endowments for the Founding Fathers and for George Washington. He would have known that many of them already had proxy baptisms done in Nauvoo or in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, but it does not seem to have been a concern for him: many people were baptized multiple times in those days, including when they joined the Church, when they arrived in Utah, when they joined a United Order, when they needed a blessing of health, etc.

• In addition to the work for the Founding Fathers, President Woodruff and Lucy Bigelow Young and the men and women of the community did proxy work for many of the presidents of the United States and fifty eminent men and seventy eminent women. President Woodruff got the names of the eminent men and women from a two-volume work by Evert A. Duyckinck, Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women of Europe and America. He took the names almost sequentially from the volumes, and included a few errors specific to the books. (He managed to do the proxy work for a few people who were mentioned in the books but were still living!) Some of the names he chose: Washington Irving, Jane Austen, Stonewall Jackson, Lord Nelson, Lady Nelson, Michael Faraday, Christopher Columbus, and Edward "it was a dark and stormy night" Bulwer-Lytton.

• Wilford Woodruff's vision was a vital step — one of many — in the development of modern temple work. If you're using the story mainly to make political or historical conclusions about the Founding Fathers, you're missing a more important story about the power and beauty of the gospel.

• As you learn about his life, you will learn that it was no coincidence that President Woodruff, after his joyful participation in early adoptions and sealings, was the one to end plural marriage and adoptive sealings in the 1890s.

• Although Wilford Woodruff's vision was an important step in the development of temple work, the First Presidency directs us to do temple work for our own families, and not for famous or unrelated people. If you need help finding opportunities for temple work in your family, contact your ward family history consultants or start using the many learning resources available through the FamilySearch Learning Center (link), the BYU Family History Library (link), and many other organizations ready and willing to help you learn how to provide saving ordinances to your family.

Additional reading:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mormonism in the Greater Philadelphia Area: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has a long connection to the LDS Church. In 1850, the Society hosted a lecture by Thomas L. Kane defending the Mormon religion and its people. I've included part of his lecture on this blog and will continue to excerpt it as I have time.

With the Philadelphia LDS Temple opening in September, the Historical Society will host a display on Mormonism in the Greater Philadelphia Area. Here is a description of the event, which will run from August 9 through September 16 at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia.

If you are downtown, you will not want to miss the display. The Historical Society is located at 1300 Locust Street.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Thanks to Tod R. for sending a link to a great local resource:

The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

It's a visually striking website with well-written content.

He also reminded me of this resource:

Free Library Digital Maps of Philadelphia

The maps are rectified (warped) to match a Google Maps image. It allows a historical exploration of places in the city.

Monday, December 7, 2015

John M. Horner of Monmouth County, New Jersey

Yes, the posts on this blog stopped in June/July, coinciding with my signing of a book contract with an academic press. The research and writing on the topic of the African American slaves in Utah Territory has been and will continue to be time intensive: I am attempting forty or more hours a week of research and writing since the deadline is approaching quickly.

From time to time I see something applicable to the history of the area, and I will include links here. Here is a story from Keepapitchinin: The Mormon History Blog about a convert from Monmouth County, New Jersey.

From the introduction:
John M. Horner (1821-1907) built – then lost – one of the first great Mormon fortunes. Despite his living only briefly in Mormon communities, then spending decades living geographically far from the Church, he always considered himself a Latter-day Saint, and his personal story is entwined with some of the greatest events of 19th century Mormondom.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

On vacation

Just a quick note that I have been out of town and am trying to deal with a backlog of research and correspondence and the minutiae of negotiating a book contract, but will return with the Philadelphia Genealogy and Thomas Kane series and local history as soon as I am able.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Thomas L. Kane: The Last of the Mormons That Left the City

Thomas L. Kane continues his description of the refugee camp...

Southern Iowa, Tanner's New General Atlas, 1846.

The party encountered by me at the river shore were the last of the Mormons that left the city. They had all of them engaged the year before, that they would vacate their homes, and seek some other place of refuge. It had been the condition of a truce between them and their assailants; and as an earnest of their good faith, the chief elders and some others of obnoxious standing, with their families, were to set out for the West in the Spring of 1846. It had been stipulated in return, that the rest of the Mormons might remain behind in the peaceful enjoyment of their Illinois abode, until their leaders, with their exploring party, could with all diligence select for them a new place of settlement beyond the Rocky Mountains, in California, or elsewhere, and until they had opportunity to dispose to the best advantage of the property which they were then to leave. 

Some renewed symptoms of hostile feeling had, however, determined the pioneer party to begin their work before the Spring. It was, of course, anticipated that this would be a perilous service; but it was regarded as a matter of self-denying duty. The ardor and emulation of many, particularly the devout and the young, were stimulated by the difficulties it involved; and the ranks of the party were therefore filled up with volunteers from among the most effective and responsible members of the sect. They began their march in mid-winter; and by the beginning of February, nearly all of them were on the road, many of their wagons having crossed the Mississippi on the ice. 

Under the most favoring circumstances, an expedition of this sort, undertaken at such a season of the year, could scarcely fail to be disastrous.* But the pioneer company had to set out in haste, and were very imperfectly supplied with necessaries. The cold was intense. They moved in the teeth of keen-edged north- west winds, such as sweep down the Iowa peninsula from the ice-bound regions of the timber-shaded Slave Lake and Lake of the Woods: on the Bald Prairie there, nothing above the dead grass breaks their free course over the hard rolled hills. Even along the scattered water courses, where they broke the thick ice to give their cattle drink, the annual autumn fires had left little wood of value. The party, therefore, often wanted for good camp fires, the first luxury of all travellers; but to men insufficiently furnished with tents and other appliances of shelter, almost an essential to life. After days of fatigue, their nights were often passed in restless efforts to save themselves from freezing. Their stock of food also proved inadequate; and as their systems became impoverished, their suffering from cold increased. 

Sickened with catarrhal affections, manacled by the fetters of dreadfully acute rheumatisms, some contrived for a-while to get over the shortening day’s march, and drag along some others. But the sign of an impaired circulation soon began to show itself in the liability of all to be dreadfully frost-bitten. The hardiest and strongest became helplessly crippled. About the same time, the strength of their beasts of draught began to fail. The small supply of provender they could carry with them had given out. The winter-bleached prairie straw proved devoid of nourishment; and they could only keep them from starving by seeking for the browse, as it is called, or green bark and tender buds and branches, of the cotton-wood and other stinted growths of the hollows. 

To return to Nauvoo was apparently the only escape; but this would have been to give occasion for fresh mistrust, and so to bring new trouble to those they had left there behind them. They resolved at least to hold their ground, and to advance as they might, were it only by limping through the deep snows a few slow miles a day. They found a sort of comfort in comparing themselves to the Exiles of Siberia,* and sought cheerfulness in earnest prayings for the Spring,—longed for as morning by the tossing sick. 

* Nine children were born the first night the women camped out. “Sugar Creek,” Feb. 5.
* One of the company having a copy of Mme. Cottin’s Elizabeth, it was so sought after that some read it from the wagons by moonlight. They were materially sustained, too, by the practice of psalmody, “keeping up the Songs of Zion, and passing along Doxologies from front to rear, when the breath froze on their eyelashes.”

To be continued...

(Thomas L. Kane Defends the Mormons: links to all excerpts.)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Thomas L. Kane: Dreadful, Indeed, Was the Suffering

Thomas L. Kane leaves Nauvoo to visit the refugee camps on the other side of the Mississippi River. He describes heart-rending scenes of suffering among a remnant of the Mormons, and thus finishes the introduction to his lecture: The Mormons, A Discourse Delivered Before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania: March 26, 1850.

Lee County, Iowa, Tanner's New General Atlas, 1846.

It was after nightfall, when I was ready to cross the river on my return. The wind had freshened since the sunset; and the water beating roughly into my little boat, I headed higher up the stream than the point I had left in the morning, and landed where a faint glimmering light invited me to steer.

Passing these on my way to the light, I found it came from a tallow candle in a paper funnel-shade, such as is used by street venders of apples and pea-nuts, and which flaring and guttering away in the bleak air off the water, shone flickeringly on the emaciated features of a man in the last stage of a bilious remittent fever. They had done their best for him. Over his head was something like a tent, made of a sheet or two, and he rested on a but partially ripped open old straw mattress, with a hair sofa cushion under his head for a pillow. His gaping jaw and glazing eye told how short a time he would monopolize these luxuries; though a seemingly bewildered and excited person, who might have been his wife, seemed to find hope in occasionally forcing him to swallow awkwardly measured sips of the tepid river water from a burned and battered bitter smelling tin coffee-pot. Those who knew better had furnished the apothecary he needed—a toothless old bald-head, whose manner had the repulsive dullness of a familiar with death scenes. He, so long as I remained, mumbled in his patient’s ear a monotonous and melancholy prayer, between the pauses of which I heard the hiccup and sobbing of two little girls, who were sitting up on a piece of drift wood outside.

Dreadful, indeed, was the suffering of these forsaken beings. Cowed and cramped by cold and sunburn, alternating as each weary day and night dragged on, they were, almost all of them, the crippled victims of disease. They were there because they had no homes, nor hospital nor poor-house nor friends to offer them any. They could not satisfy the feeble cravings of their sick: they had not bread to quiet the fractious hunger cries of their children. Mothers and babes, daughters and grandparents, all of them alike, were bivouacked in tatters, wanting even covering to com- fort those whom the sick shiver of fever was searching to the marrow.

These were Mormons, famishing, in Lee county, Iowa, in the fourth week of the month of September, in the year of our Lord 1846. The city,—it was Nauvoo, Illinois. The Mormons were the owners of that city, and the smiling country round. And those who had stopped their ploughs, who had silenced their hammers, their axes, their shuttles and their workshop wheels; those who had put out their fires, who had eaten their food, spoiled their orchards, and trampled under foot their thousands of acres of unharvested bread; these,—were the keepers of their dwellings, the carousers in their Temple,—whose drunken riot insulted the ears of their dying.

I think it was as I turned from the wretched night-watch of which I have spoken, that I first listened to the sounds of revel of a party of the guard within the city. Above the distant hum of the voices of many, occasionally rose distinct the loud oath-tainted exclamation, and the falsely intonated scrap of vulgar song;—but lest this requiem should go unheeded, every now and then, when their boisterous orgies strove to attain a sort of ecstatic climax, a cruel spirit of insulting frolic carried some of them up into the high belfry of the Temple steeple, and there, with the wicked childishness of inebriates, they whooped, and shrieked, and beat the drum that I had seen, and rang in charivaric unison their loud-tongued steam-boat bell.

They were, all told, not more than six hundred and forty persons who were thus lying on the river flats. But the Mormons in Nauvoo and its dependencies had been numbered the year before at over twenty thousand. Where were they? They had last been seen, carrying in mournful trains their sick and wounded, halt and blind, to disappear behind the western horizon, pursuing the phantom of another home. Hardly anything else was known of them: and people asked with curiosity, What had been their fate—what their fortunes?

I purpose making these questions the subject of my Lecture. Since the expulsion of the Mormons, to the present date, I have been intimately conversant with the details of their history. But I shall invite your attention most particularly to an account of what happened to them during their first year in the Wilderness; because at this time more than any other, being lost to public view, they were the subjects of fable and misconception. Happily, it was during this period I myself moved with them; and earned, at dear price, as some among you are aware, my right to speak with authority of them and their character, their trials, achievements and intentions.

To be continued...

(Thomas L. Kane Defends the Mormons: links to all excerpts.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Philadelphia Genealogy: Online Trees

The next step in the research process is to see if anyone has done any work on your line, so you will need to do a survey of online family trees.

Online family trees are notoriously unreliable. They must be used with great caution.

Rules of Thumb
1. The more sources a family tree has, the more likely it is to be accurate.

2. When you're constructing your own family trees, shoot for at least three sources for every person you add.

3. What sources do you add for each person? All of them. I will cover some basic rules of evidence later on about how to decide if a source matches the person, and what sources mean.

Doing the Survey
Choose a deceased ancestor in the line you will be researching. Preferably it should be someone who was alive during the 1920-1940 US Censuses. Search for this person (and if he or she doesn't show up, look for a parent or grandparent if you know their names) in the following databases:

Ancestry (LDS members have free access; others can subscribe or use an institutional copy at Family History Centers or public libraries)

Case Study: The Lintons

I will start with Samuel Linton (1827-1916). It looks like his Philadelphia family is well represented in FamilySearch Family Tree; they have between 2 and 24 sources each, so it's worth looking through each entry and double-checking the vital records and sourcing those who are only partly represented.

In Ancestry, there are dozens if not hundreds of family trees, with between 1 and 17 sources, so there will be a good database of information to sort through.

In MyHeritage, I set up my LDS account and began a family tree. It was a fairly seamless process, but I'm not sure I want to maintain multiple family trees. However, I see eight matches for Samuel Linton with complete family information and dozens with partial information. A spot check suggests other people are using the tree in a similar manner and I might not find extensive new information through these trees, but it's worth a try. MyHeritage has the largest membership of any of the genealogy sites, so along with Ancestry it's the most likely place I'll find Linton cousins if any of them still live in Philadelphia.

RootsWeb WorldConnect is a free online family tree service maintained by Ancestry. Much of the information is dated, but about a decade ago it was one of the default places to store family trees, so it's worth a look. There seem to be two family trees available. One has sources, so I will look at that. 

It seems to have the same information as all the other sites do, including many misspelled place names, so I won't bother using it, but it WorldConnect occasionally contains valuable compiled databases by expert genealogists, so it's worth checking.

In Conclusion...

Check these sites for your own family line. Do you see cousins working on your ancestors, or are you doing original research?

And do remember that online family trees are only as good as the work that went into them, so check how thoroughly sourced they are and if the information looks at all credible before copying any of it over. It may be worth contacting the owners of the family trees if you don't know who they are and what connection they have to your family.

Philadelphia Genealogy: index to all articles in this series

Monday, June 1, 2015

Thomas Kane: The Import of This Mysterious Solitude

Thomas L. Kane continues his tour of Nauvoo, Illinois, just vacated by the Mormons. He meets some of the mobbers and tours the empty temple.

Hancock County, Illinois, from Morse's North American Atlas., 1845

Only two portions of the city seemed to suggest the import of this mysterious solitude. On the southern suburb, the houses looking out upon the country showed, by their splintered woodwork and walls battered to the foundation, that they had lately been the mark of a destructive cannonade. And in and around the splendid Temple, which had been the chief object of my admiration, armed men were barracked, surrounded by their stacks of musketry and pieces of heavy ordnance. These challenged me to render an account of myself, and why I had had the temerity to cross the water without a written permit from a leader of their band.

Though these men were generally more or less under the influence of ardent spirits; after I had explained myself as a passing stranger, they seemed anxious to gain my good opinion. They told me the story of the Dead City: that it had been a notable manufacturing and commercial mart, sheltering over 20,000 persons; that they had waged war with its inhabitants for several years, and had been finally successful only a few days before my visit, in an action fought in front of the ruined suburb; after which, they had driven them forth at the point of the sword. The defence, they said, had been obstinate, but gave way on the third day’s bombardment. They boasted greatly of their prowess, especially in this Battle, as they called it; but I discovered they were not of one mind as to certain of the exploits that had distinguished it; one of which, as I remember, was, that they had slain a father and his son, a boy of fifteen, not long residents of the fated city, whom they admitted to have borne a character without reproach. 

They also conducted me inside the massive sculptured walls of the curious Temple, in which they said the banished inhabitants were accustomed to celebrate the mystic rites of an unhallowed worship. They particularly pointed out to me certain features of the building, which, having been the peculiar objects of a former superstitious regard, they had as matter of duty sedulously defiled and defaced. The reputed sites of certain shrines they had thus particularly noticed, and various sheltered chambers, in one of which was a deep well, constructed they believed with a dreadful design. Beside these, they led me to see a large and deep chiselled marble vase or basin, supported upon twelve oxen, also of marble, and of the size of life, of which they told some romantic stories. They said, the deluded persons, most of whom were immigrants from a great distance, believed their Deity countenanced their reception here of a baptism of regeneration, as proxies for whomsoever they held in warm affection in the countries from which they had come: That here parents “went into the water” for their lost children, children for their parents, widows for their spouses, and young persons for 8 their lovers: That thus the Great Vase came to be for them associated with all dear and distant memories, and was therefore the object, of all others in the building, to which they attached the greatest degree of idolatrous affection. On this account, the victors had so diligently desecrated it, as to render the apartment in which it was contained too noisome to abide in. 

They permitted me also to ascend into the steeple, to see where it had been lightning-struck on the Sabbath before; and to look out, East and South, on wasted farms like those I had seen near the City, extending till they were lost in the distance. Here, in the face of the pure day, close to the scar of the Divine wrath left by the thunderbolt, were fragments of food, cruises of liquor and broken drinking vessels, with a bass drum and a steam-boat signal bell, of which I afterwards learned the use with pain.

To be continued...

(Thomas L. Kane Defends the Mormons: links to all excerpts.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Philadelphia Genealogy: Family Records

In Philadelphia Genealogy: Getting Started, the assignment was to start with yourself. Make sure you have a place to store your information, whether a program (FamilySearch compatible programs) or website (such as FamilySearch Family Tree or If you use online trees make sure you keep your own personal copy of the information on your hard drive and back it up to another hard drive or "the cloud."


The next step: survey your family. Do you have any family members who are genealogists? Have they done work on the lines you're researching? Does anyone have family pictures and documents? 

Start asking around. Talk to parents and grandparents, if they're still living, as well as more distant relatives. 

Copy Photos and Documents

Make arrangements to copy information. Often you will find that people who save family information tend to be very possessive, so it can take some delicate negotiation to get copies. There are a number of tools available now so you can copy documents and pictures on location, including cameras and tripods or laptops and scanners. Even a smart phone can take pictures of important documents, if that's the only way you are allowed to make copies. If you do have some latitude as to how you can copy family pictures and documents, photos or high resolution scans are the best, but try to get at least 300 dpi images.

If pictures are not labeled, talk to family members for identification. If you are on social media, Facebook, for example, a family network could help with this process.

Case Study: The Lintons

My grandmother's grandmother, Mary Linton Morgan, was the genealogist in the family. She spent many years doing genealogical research. After her death her documents ended up with her granddaughter Helen. Helen's family didn't know what to do with the boxes, but fortunately instead of throwing them out, they gave them to my father. He digitized the entire collection and since it contains a number of valuable historical documents, he donated it to a university library. A digital copy is available for use at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

So, how would you know how to find similar collections for your family, if they exist? This series will cover the answers in subsequent installments.

Back to the Lintons. There is limited Linton/Philadelphia material in the Mary Linton Morgan collection, although it does contain the autobiography of Samuel Linton previously excerpted on this blog. Mary mostly worked on her mother's and husband's lines.

More information, including pictures, was available from my Linton cousins. Ten years ago when I moved to the Philadelphia region I got into contact with some of my Linton cousins who were working on the genealogy, and I have been in contact with them ever since. My father and I have shared family information and used some of theirs over the years, including this picture of Samuel Linton, also used previously on this blog. Samuel is sitting in the center between his daughter and the family historian Mary (in the plaid blouse), and his wife Ellen Sutton Linton, showing the ravages of cancer.


Talk to your family. Find out who might own memorabilia. Get in contact and make an appointment to visit and discuss the family heritage. If no seems to do genealogy, check on FamilySearch, Ancestry, and other genealogy databases like MyHeritage to see if someone is working on the family lines. Contact them, if possible, and discuss your common heritage.

Philadelphia Genealogy: index to all articles in this series

Monday, May 25, 2015

Thomas L. Kane: The Town Lay as in a Dream

This is the first of a series of short selections from Thomas L. Kane's discourse to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania about the Mormons, and there's no better place to start than with his introduction.

A few years ago, ascending the Upper Mississippi in the Autumn, when its waters were low, I was compelled to travel by land past the region of the Rapids. My road lay through the Half-Breed Tract, a fine section of Iowa, which the unsettled state of its land-titles had appropriated as a sanctuary for coiners, horse thieves, and other outlaws. I had left my steamer at Keokuk, at the foot of the Lower Fall, to hire a carriage, and to contend for some fragments of a dirty meal with the swarming flies, the only scavengers of the locality. From this place to where the deep water of the river returns, my eye wearied to see everywhere sordid, vagabond and idle settlers; and a country marred, without being improved, by their careless hands. 

I was descending the last hillside upon my journey, when a landscape in delightful contrast broke upon my view. Half encircled by a bend of the river, a beautiful city lay glittering in the fresh morning sun; its bright new dwellings, set in cool green gardens, ranging up around a stately dome-shaped hill, which was crowned by a noble marble edifice, whose high tapering spire was radiant with white and gold. The city appeared to cover several miles; and beyond it, in the back ground, there rolled off a fair country, chequered by the careful lines of fruitful husbandry. The unmistakeable marks of industry, enterprise and educated wealth, everywhere, made the scene one of singular and most striking beauty. 

It was a natural impulse to visit this inviting region. I procured a skiff, and rowing across the river, landed at the chief wharf of the city. No one met me there. I looked, and saw no one. I could hear no one move; though the quiet everywhere was such that I heard the flies buzz, and the water-ripples break against the shallow of the beach. I walked through the solitary streets. The town lay as in a dream, under some deadening spell of loneliness, from which I almost feared to wake it. For plainly it had not slept long. There was no grass growing up in the paved ways. Rains had not entirely washed away the prints of dusty footsteps. 

Yet I went about unchecked. I went into empty workshops, rope walks and smithies. The spinner’s wheel was idle; the carpenter had gone from his work-bench and shavings, his unfinished sash and casing. Fresh bark was in the tanner’s vat, and the fresh-chopped lightwood stood piled against the baker’s oven. The blacksmith’s shop was cold; but his coal heap and ladling pool and crooked water horn were all there, as if he had just gone off for a holiday. No work people anywhere looked to know my errand. If I went into the gardens, clinking the wicket- latch loudly after me, to pull the marygolds, heart’s-ease and lady-slippers, and draw a drink with the water sodden well-bucket and its noisy chain; or, knocking off with my stick the tall heavy-headed dahlias and sunflowers, hunted over the beds for cucumbers and love-apples,—no one called out to me from any opened window, or dog sprang forward to bark an alarm. I could have supposed the people hidden in the houses, but the doors were unfastened; and when at last I timidly entered them, I found dead ashes white upon the hearths, and had to tread a tiptoe, as if walking down the aisle of a country church, to avoid rousing irreverent echoes from the naked floors.

On the outskirts of the town was the city graveyard. But there was no record of Plague there, nor did it in anywise differ much from other Protestant American cemeteries. Some of the mounds were not long sodded; some of the stones were newly set, their dates recent, and their black inscriptions glossy in the mason’s hardly dried lettering ink. Beyond the graveyard, out in the fields, I saw, in one spot hard-by where the fruited boughs of a young orchard had been roughly torn down, the still smouldering embers of a barbecue fire, that had been constructed of rails from the fencing round it. It was the latest sign of life there. Fields upon fields of heavy-headed yellow grain lay rotting ungathered upon the ground. No one was at hand to take in their rich harvest. As far as the eye could reach, they stretched away—they, sleeping too in the hazy air of Autumn.

To be continued...

(Thomas L. Kane Defends the Mormons: links to all excerpts.)