Presidents of the Eastern States Mission and New York City Immigration Agents

November 27th, 2012, by Kent Larsen

In his Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Andrew Jenson gives a list of the mission presidents of the Eastern States Mission, which generally had its headquarters in New York City, as the following:

  • John P. Greene, 1839-1843
  • Lyman Wight, 1843-1844
  • William Smith, 1844
  • Parley P. Pratt, Dec. 1844-July 1845
  • Orson Pratt, Aug. 1845-Nov. 1845
  • Sam Brannan, Nov. 1845-Feb. 1846
  • Jesse C. Little, 1846-1847
  • William I. Appleby (pro tem), Mar. 1847-Nov. 1847
  • Wilford Woodruff, 1848-1850
  • (vacant) 1850-1854
  • John Taylor 1854-1857
  • William I. Appleby (2nd term), 1857-1858
  • (vacant) 1858-1865
  • Wm. H. Miles, 1865-1869
  • (vacant) 1869-1892
  • Job Pingree, Jan. 1893-Jan. 1895
  • Samuel W. Richards, Jan. 1895-Mar. 1897
  • Alonzo P. Kesler, Mar. 1897-Mar. 1899
  • Wm. H. Smart, Mar. 1899-Aug. 1900
  • Edward H. Snow, Aug 1900-Feb. 1901
  • John G. McQuarrie, Feb. 1901-July 1908
  • Ben E. Rich, July 1908-Sep. 1913 (Died in office)
  • Walter P. Monson, Oct. 1913-Apr. 1919
  • George W. McCune, Apr. 1919-June 1922
  • Brigham H. Roberts, June 1922-May 1927
  • Henry H. Rolapp, May 1927-Nov 1928
  • James H. Moyle, Nov. 1928-1930+

While I think this is a great start, I don’t think it gives a complete picture. For example, I have some sources that indicate that George Q. Cannon was in New York City from 1858 to 1860, and that he was considered the leading church authority at that time, although I can’t say that he was the mission president. In addition, during almost all of the largest vacancy, 1869 to 1892, and at least parts of the others, the Church had immigration agents in New York City to assist incoming immigrants. From what I understand, the following were immigration agents in New York City:

  • John Taylor, 1855-1857
  • William I. Appleby (2nd term), 1857-1858
  • George Q. Cannon, 1858-1860
  • (vacant?) 1860-1865
  • Wm. H. Miles, 1865-1869
  • Wm. C. Staines, 1869-1881
  • James H. Hart, 1881-1888?

Still, this list is likely incomplete, if nothing else because some 14,000 LDS immigrants arrived in New York City between 1860 and 1865, and their diaries and letters indicate that LDS representatives met them when the arrived. Included among those who met the immigrants were Erastus Snow (1861) and George Q. Cannon (1862), and likely several others.

There is quite a bit of work to be done to see exactly who was in charge when the mission was supposedly “closed.” But regardless, there was clearly a lot of LDS activity still going on in New York City.

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3 Responses to “Presidents of the Eastern States Mission and New York City Immigration Agents”

  1. Darryl G. May Says:

    My mission was served between 1967-1969 (ESM). Why isn’t there more history down to the present day? Bewildered!?

    Please soon reply. Sincerely, Darryl

  2. Darryl G. May Says:

    My mission was served between 1967-1969 (ESM). Why isn’t there more history down to the present day? Bewildered!?

    Please soon reply. Sincerely, Darryl

    Didn’t check the boxes below….

  3. Kevin Baugh Says:

    This comment provided as some confirmation to the list of mission presidents posted by Kent Larsen… A 2nd great uncle of mine, William Argent Clayson, died in West Virginia in 1901 while serving in the Eastern States Mission. His mission journal, available at the Church History Library (William Argent Clayson Papers, Church History Library, Call Number MS 504) describes his visit to the mission office as he arrived in the mission.

    He wrote, “Jan 9 [1900], Brooklyn. Reported at presidents office 50 Concord St where we met Pres Wm H. Smart Cons Edward H Snow and John M. Whitaker, bros, Farr, Stewart and others.”

    Pages 106-111 of his journal include the content of two letters William received from Brooklyn. The first from Edw H. Snow, George Whitehead, and John E Baird and the 2nd from E. H. Snow. These letters appointed William as the President of the Northwest Virginia Conference of the mission and provided instructions regarding that responsibility.

    President Snow is also mentioned at other occasions in the journal.

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