Archive for the ‘Historical Notes’ Category

Mourning in New York City – 1844

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

When news of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith reached New York City and was published in the major New York newspapers on July 8th, Church members in the city were initially cautious about the news. Reports of Joseph Smith’s death or some other tragedy had appeared before and turned out to be incorrect.

The Latter Day Saint newspaper in New York, The Prophet, had already cautioned members on June 29th (probably because of the scandalous news reports similar to what was published in the Nauvoo Expositor, which were then reaching New York City) “not to credit the many tales afloat respecting our people, we have had no intelligence of trouble, and doubt very much the truth of these statements.”

But church members received confirmation of the martyrdom by July 20th, which  left them wondering how to mourn for the fallen prophet.


Fundraising for the Saints — 1839

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Two weeks ago I wrote about the fundraising attempt in New York City that was meant to help the Mormons who had been driven from Nauvoo. In fact, that was the second time that Mormons solicited funds in New York City for the relief of those driven from a state. The first time came in 1839, after Mormons had been driven from Missouri. Of the two attempts, the first was more successful.


Assisting the Saints: was non-Mormon Gibson just doing his job?

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

In the winter of 1887-1888, the Church made a significant change to how it handled immigration through New York City. Before this time Mormon immigrants to teh United States were met by an immigration agent in New York City, one of a network of agents at each transition point whose responsibilities were to help the immigrants on their way. But starting with immigration companies in 1888, there was no longer a Church immigration agent.


The NYC Mayor Who Tried to Help the Mormons

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

While LDS Church members are usually very familiar with the travails of those who took part in the pioneer trek, starting in 1846, few are familiar with the attempts to get non-Mormon help to alleviate the suffering of those on the trek. Seeing the need, many LDS leaders and missionaries spread across the U.S. seeking donations to help the destitute cross the plains starting in the winter of 1846-47. But their efforts found significant success only when they found an important and influential friend: Thomas L. Kane. And it is clearly through Kane’s efforts that then New York City Mayor William V. Brady.


Sent Back

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

In the latter half of the 19th century, the principle role that New York City filled for Mormonism was as a transit point—more than 75,000 Mormon converts entered the United States through New York City during those years while several thousand missionaries sailed for Europe from New York’s port. But beginning with the Page Act in 1875 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the U.S. began restricting immigration, beginning with Chinese and also including convicts, lunatics, and “others unable to care for themselves.” And in the late 1880s, attention on polygamy prosecution in Utah led to a provision of the Geary Act of 1892 which prohibited entry by polygamists. If you were restricted from immigrating, you were sent back.


Nauvoo Temple Model on display in NYC–in 1846!

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
"The Nauvoo Temple" by C.C.A. Christ...

"The Nauvoo Temple"
by C.C.A. Christensen
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Christmas Day, 1845, the New York Tribune encouraged its readers to visit a “Model of New Haven,” which opened that day in the Granite Building, on the corner of Broadway and Chambers street. The exhibition, which cost 25 cents to see, also included models of a number of public buildings and “the Mormon Temple at Nauvoo.”


Perhaps they had the courage of their ‘convictions’?

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

When I worked on a student newspaper at BYU, we were embarrassed one issue when the headline of our leading article read: “America’s Facination with Fame.” You’d be surprised how easy it is to make that kind of mistake.

Of course, the journalists of the 1840s made mistakes too, and one, in the New York Gazette in early November 1845 was at the expense of Mormon immigrants:

There were a large number of convicts to Mormonism on board the steamboat Rochester, at Albany, recently, on the way for Nauvoo, most of whom were from Lowell, Mass.

Horace Greeley, editor of the competing, New York Tribune, caught the error, and on the 5th of November, responded:

Rather a curious mistake, Mr. Gazette! Or did you mean it?

Of course, LDS Church members have been told to show the courage of their convictions, but somehow I don’t think that’s what the Gazette had in mind.