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Jubilee history of Latter-day Saints Sunday schools, 1849-1899 online

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For, behold, I will bless all those who labor in my vineyard with a
tmighty blessing. DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS, xxi: 9.

The fifty years' marvelous growth of the Sunday School organ-
ization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the
Rocky Mountains of America and in other portions of the world is
reason sufficient for the appearance of this record. The period from
the assembling of that little group of Sunday School pupils gathered
in the humble s",hoolhouse in the Fourteenth Ward, Salt Lake City,
December 9, 1849, to the grand and inspiring demonstration in the
Tabernacle in the same city, October 8, 1899 nearly fifty years
later we have in the following pages endeavored to briefly and
faithfully chronicle. To round out that poetic period so as to embrace
a few items of the local Jubilee celebrations, and include the Sunday
School statistics of that year, we have continued this history to the
31st of December, 1899.


General Superintendent George Q. Cannon, and Members of the Deseret Sun-
day School Union Board.

DEAR BRETHREN: With the completion of the JUBILEE HISTORY OF
LATTER-DAY SAINTS SUNDAY SCHOOLS, our duties as your committee on the
Sunday School Jubilee and History close. We therefore desire to make a
report to you of our labors.

The general celebration held in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah,
October 8th, 1899, in commemoration of the establishment of the first Sun-
day School in the Rocky Mountains, has passed into history, and serves as a
monument to mark the half-century of progress of the Sunday Schools of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The program and other
items of interest connected with the celebration, will be found in the
volume just completed.

If the general celebration held in the Tabernacle was successful, the
local celebrations held in the various wards and missions throughout the
Church, on the 10th of December, 1899, were none the less so. So far as
we have been able to learn, the Sunday Schools generally carried out faith-
fully the allotted program, and made the occasion one long to be remem-
bered. In looking over the reports of the local celebrations, we can but
feel that the Lord was very gracious unto all, and blessed each gathering
with a rich outpouring of his Holy Spirit.

The task of completing the history of our Sunday Schools, with such data
relating to their establishment as we could obtain from the respective Sun-
day Schools throughout the Church, has not been an easy one. Since the
general and local celebrations, we have worked almost incessantly to bring
our labors to a successful issue, and it has seemed at times as though this
would never be realized. The completion of our general history was com-
paratively easy, because we could get the desired information, as a rule, by
personal visits to those who had it to give. Not so, however, with the
data we desired from each school. This had to be obtained by correspond-
ence; and hundreds of letters on the subject have been written to the Sun-
day Schools throughout the Church. In many instances our efforts to
obtain the information desired were neutralized by the inattention of the
parties addressed, or their inability to furnish the information needed.


To get the necessary data from the stake Sunday School organizations,,
and the various Sunday Schools, we adopted a uniform system, which was
as follows: We had two blank forms printed, containing questions, which,
if properly answered, would furnish us the requisite matter for the contem-
plated history. |0ne of these forms was for the stake Sunday School organ-
izations to fill out, and the other for the use of the Sunday schools in the
wards and missions. We mailed these blank forms to the proper parties
with a request that they be returned to us correctly filled out as soon as
possible. When the forms were returned, the matter contained therein was
edited, typewritten, and sent back to the Stake or ward organization, for
any necessary correction. With this typewritten matter, we also sent a
letter requesting that the data be carefully examined by the proper parties,
corrections made where needed, and the corrected copy returned to us-
within ten days. Quite a number cheerfully complied with our request,
but very many, we are compelled to state, in justice to ourselves, did not
do so. If any mistakes have therefore occurred through this inattention to
our instructions, we feel that the responsibility is not ours.

The object in getting out the work, as we understood it, was to com-
pile in one volume, our general Sunday School history, including a brief
account of each stake Sunday School organization, the date of the establish-
ment of each Sunday School, together with such other information as would
be appreciated in a work of this kind, and which would serve to preserve in
a brief but complete form our general history, for the use of those who-
shall succeed us in the great Sunday School work. When these reports
came back, however, we found that many of our brethren and sisters had
made all sorts of requests of us; some wanted elaborate histories of their
schools printed, others the names of all the officers and teachers inserted
who had served for years in the past; still others wanted biographical
articles to become part of the work. It can be readily understood that all
this matter could not go into our history for the reason that it would have-
been impracticable, because we could not have gotten the necessary informa-
tion together to make the history of each school complete, and then even
should we have succeeded in this, the matter thus collected would have
filled several volumes, a proposition too costly to be undertaken, and one
that would be foreign to the original intention.

. However, we gave the matter due consideration, and inserted, with the
dates of the establishment of the various Sunday Schools, a list of the
superintendents, assistant superintendents and secretaries, and the time each
one served as far as obtainable ; and have provided, at the end of the book, six-
teen blank pages suitably ruled and headed, in which can be written such Sun-


day School history as the owner may desire to place therein. These additions
have very materially increased the size of the work over the original estimate.

We think it would be a good plan for each Sunday School to obtain
one or more copies of this History and write in the blank pages a full
list of all those faithful workers whose labors have been such a help in
making the Sunday School a success; names of assistant secretaries, treas-
urers, librarians, choristers, organists, teachers, and others should be
enrolled, and also a more detailed history of the school might be recorded ;
and when this is done the book should be preserved for future reference.
Also the army of faithful Sunday School workers should each possess them-
selves of one of these books, and enter their own individual Sunday School
history in it, and cause it to be handed down to their children, that they
may emulate the example presented in the lives and labors of these faith-
ful men and women.

We cannot mention the names of all to whom we are indebted for
assistance in our labors, it would take several pages to do so. We do
desire, however, to thank one and all who have in any way assisted us in
the task we have just completed. We can assure the brethren and sisters
who have so kindly aided us, that they have our heartfelt thanks. Elder
Edwin F. Parry has been our editor. Much of the work of bringing the
information obtained from the different sources into readable shape devolved
upon him, and to him we also tender our most hearty thanks. We are also
much indebted to Brother Charles R. Savage, and the members of his estab-
lishment, for the care displayed by them in grouping and producing the
photographs for the plates our book contains.

Now brethren, we hope our labors Will meet with the approval of your-
selves and the Deseret Sunday School Union over which you preside, and
that the result will fill the requirements intended, namely: that those who
come after us and labor in the Sunday School cause, may have historical
data to build upon, and thus our early history in regard to the great Sun-
day School movement among the Latter-day Saints be preserved for future
generations. Should such prove to be the case we shall be more than
repaid for our labors.

Your brethren,


HORACE S. ENSIGN, Committee.






First Sunday School in the Rocky Mountains 9

Other Early Sunday Schools... 12

Establishment of a Sunday School Union 13

Growth of the Union 17

Attainments of the Union 19

First Public Celebration 19

Uniformity in School Government 24

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper in the Sunday School 26

Encouragement of Musical Talent 27

Missionary Work 28

Inauguration of "Nickel Day" 30

Sunday School Children at the Salt Lake Temple 31

Stake Sunday School Conferences 32

Humane Day 33

Special Sunday Schools Established by the Union 33

Sunday School Convention 35

Publications of the Union 40

Sunday School Statistics 43

First Statistical Report of the Deseret Sunday School

Union, for the Quarter Ending September 15, 1872.. 44
AnnualStatistical and Financial Report of Latter-day Saints

Sunday Schools for the Year ending December 31,1899 46
Table Showing Number of Sunday Schools, Officers, Teach-
ers and Pupils Embraced Within the Deseret Sunday

School Union asReported Each Year from 1872 to 1899 48

Finances 48

Officers of the Deseret Sunday School Union 49


How Constituted and Conducted 58

Alberta Stake 59


Bear Lake


Box Elder

















Fremont Stake 171

Juab " 187

Juarez " 195

Kanab " 200

Malad " 208

Maricopa " 215

Millard " 219

Morgan " 228

Oneida " 235

Panguitch " 247

Parowan " 256

Pocatello " 262

Salt Lake " 270

San Juan " 323

San Luis 327

Sanpete " 333

Sevier " . 348

St. George
St. Joseph
St. Johns
Star Valley



Summit 409

Tooele " 417

Uintah " 423

Utah " 431

Wasatch " 465

Wayne " 473

Weber " 482

Woodruff " 504



The General Jubilee Celebration 520

Local Jubilee Celebrations 534



Deseret Sunday School Union Board and Aids Frontispiece.

House where the first Sunday School was held... opposite page 11

Members of the First Sunday School " 56

Stake Sunday School Superintendents " " 152,248

Daughters of Members of the First Sunday School [< 312, 392

Representatives of Nations and Peoples " "504,520

For names of those whose portraits appear see pages 538-540






/ TX) Elder Richard Ballantyne is due the credit for establishing the
4- first Latter-day Saints Sunday School in Utah, which in fact was
the first organization of the kind in the Rocky Mountain region.
Brother Ballantyne came to Salt Lake valley in the fall of 1848 the
year after its first settlement by the Latter-day Saints and located
in the "Old Fort" which was erected on what is now know as "Pioneer
Square," in the south-western quarter of Salt Lake City.

In the Spring of 1849 he conceived the idea of establishing a
Sunday School, and soon after he began preparations for building a
house in which to hold the school he had in contemplation, and which
would also serve as a residence for himself and family. He had at this
time already moved from the Fort, and was living on his city lot sit-
uated on what is now the corner of First West and Third South Streets,
in the Fourteenth Ward. Here he had built one small room which he
u^ed for a summer kitchen. Having two wagons, he used one for a
sleeping apartment and the other for a store room. As many other
men did in those early days, Brother Ballantyne built his own house,


doing the greater part of the work himself. To obtain material for
the erection of the building he went to Mill Creek Canyon, south-
east of the city, and cut down trees to provide the necessary timber.
The logs thus secured he took to the mill to be sawed on shares, and
then hauled his share down to his home. He procured rock from the
quarry in Red Butte Canyon and "adobes" from the old yard in the
western part of the city, where they were made in those days. Then,
during the time he could spare from other labors necessary to pro-
vide food, he put up the walls of the structure. He did all the
masonry and -all the carpenter work with the exception of making
the window sashes and the doors.

The room to be used for school purposes was built in front of
and adjoining the smaller room which he had put up earlier in the
year. When completed, the new addition formed the principal part of
the building, the room used as a summer kitchen forming a "lean-to"
at the rear. As this house was what might be considered one typical
of those days a more detailed description of it will be of interest.

Its foundation was of roughly dressed red sandstone and the walls
were of "adobes," large, sun-dried bricks. The school room was
twenty feet long and eighteen feet wide (outside measurements), and
was about ten feet from the foundation to the square of the walls, or
as we would now say from floor to ceiling, but this room had no ceil-
ing, although it had a floor of dressed lumber. The rafters were
dressed logs. Across these logs boards were placed and the crevices
between the boards were covered with slabs; the whole roof was
then overlaid with several inches of soil. The house faced the street
on the west. The large room was well lighted, having two windows
in front and a window and a door, the upper part of which was glass,
on the south side. The finished work in the building was painted and
the walls were plastered on the inside. Benches for seating the
pupils were made of wooden slabs. They were simply constructed by
making holes in the slabs and fastening legs in them. The room
was heated from an open fire-place in the south end of the room.

On the west and south sides of the lot on which this building
stood was a plain pole fence. With a view to -beautifying the sur-
roundings of his new home, and to provide a shade in summer,
Brother Ballantyne had, during the Spring when he first located


= 2
- =



there, procured from City Creek Canyon a number of young native
cottonwood trees, which he planted about his place.

The accompanying picture is taken from a sketch of the above-
described building and surroundings, made by the artist John Hafen
from descriptions furnished by Brother Ballantyne. The sketching
was done under the supervision of a committee appointed by the Des-
eret Sunday School Union Board, in the presence of the committee
and Brother Ballantyne, and was approved by the latter as being an
excellent representation of the building as it appeared at the time
(1849.) It may be here stated that the data for this sketch of the first
Sunday School in Utah was given at the same interview to this same
committee by Elder Ballantyne.

When the building was completed, the children of the neighbor-
hood were invited in for the purpose of forming a Sunday School.
Quite a number of children responded to this invitation and at the
first session held the room was pretty well filled. This was on Sun-
day, the 9th day of December, 1849, and at this time Elder Ballantyne
was both superintendent and teacher. His wife and child were there
with the gathered children and in the presence of all assembled on
that memorable day he dedicated by prayer the room for the purpose
for which it was designed. Among the children who attended this
school were members of the families of Apostles John Taylor, Wilford
Woodruff, Parley P. Pratt and Franklin D. Richards, as well as chil-
dren of other prominent families; and it may be here stated that sev-
eral of the pupils of this school have since attained prominence in the

During the first year the school numbered about fifty pupils.
The children's names were not enrolled, nor were minutes of the pro-
ceedings taken. The exercises began with singing and prayer, as is
customary in Sunday Schools now. After the opening exercises a
scripture lesson was presented. The pupils furnished their own
books, such as the Bible, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Cove-
nants. The pupils were mostly small, ranging from eight or nine to
fourteen years of age, and the lessons were chiefly from the New
Testament. The children took a delight in attending the school, and
there was no trouble in getting them there, although it opened at
eight o'clock in the morning. In those days general Sabbath services


were held at ten o'clock, a. m., and the school dismissed in time to
give its members an opportunity to attend them.

Elder Ballantyne at this time was second counselor to John Mur-
dock, the bishop of the ward, who was in full accord with what his
co-worker was doing to educate the youth in the principles of the

In referring to the motive he had in organizing this Sunday
School, Elder Ballantyne remarked that he saw a need for such an
institution. "I felt," said he, "that the Gospel was too precious to
myself to be withheld from the children. They ought to have the
privilege of Gospel teaching, and that was the main purpose to
teach them the Gospel because I felt it was very precious to me, and
I thought it would be precious to them; and it was my duty to do

The school continued in Brother Ballantyne's house for about a
year. During the summer of 1850 a meeting house was built in the
Fourteenth Ward, and as soon as it was completed the school moved
into it. Brother Ballantyne continued as superintendent, but he now
received some assistance. Brothers Joseph Home and Phineas Rich-
ards were assistant superintendents, and several others acted as
teachers, the school being divided into a number of classes.

In 1852 Elder Ballantyne went upon a three years' mission to
India, and Brother Joseph Home succeeded him as superintendent
of the school.


Following the example of Elder Ballantyne, many others who
were inspired with a similar interest in the spiritual welfare of the
young turned their efforts toward the establishment of Sunday
Schools in other wards and settlements.

In the year 1852 Sunday Schools were started in the Fourth
Tenth and Twelfth wards, and also one in the Council House,
Salt Lake City, under the auspices of the chancellor of the Deseret
University, Orson Spencer; and in the same year one was established
in American Fork. During the following year one each was opened
in the Seventh and the Sixteenth wards of Salt Lake City, and in
Manti, Sanpete County. Elder Ballantyne having returned from his


mission to India, organized, in 1856, a Sunday School in the Fifteenth
Ward. The same year a Sunday School in the Seventeenth Ward,
Salt Lake City, and one in Tooele, Tooele County were begun; and in
1857 the Sunday School of Draper, Salt Lake County, and that of
Farmington, Davis County, were started.

In the year 1858, when, at the approach of General Johnston's
army, the Saints of Salt Lake City and the settlements north of it
vacated their homes and moved to the south, all Sunday Schools affected
by the "move" were of course discontinued. A number of early schools
established in settlements south of Salt Lake City were compelled to
close even before the approach of the army. The Indian attacks
caused some of the settlements to be broken up and deserted for var-
ious lengths of time. In -the early sixties Sunday Schools commenced
to be re-established in the various settlements, and within a few years
they sprang up in all parts of the country then settled. Owing to the
incompleteness of data respecting their organizations, it is very diffi-
cult to give Sunday School statistics for a number of years after the
organization of the first school. The history of individual schools
(especially of those which began at an early day), which is given in
another part of this volume, will be found to be somewhat lacking in
statistical information.


It must be borne in mind that all the early Sunday Schools in these
valleys were organized and conducted by independent effort of those
interested in the welfare of the young. There was but little unity of
action among the settlements tending to the promotion of a general
Sunday School movement.

Those engaged in the laudable work during the early period met
with many obstacles and difficulties. They were inadequately sup-
plied with such text books as were then, as now, in general use in the
advanced classes Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants;
and there was almost an entire absence of works specially adapted to
the primary classes. Besides this, they were in many instances with-
out suitable meeting places.

Many teachers were entirely without experience in teaching or
even in having before attended such organizations. Much of the work


was therefore experimental; and in some instances far from being
satisfactory. It was then a common thing to find the day school text
books used in the Sunday School, and the class work often consisted
merely of a reading or spelling exercise. Yet there were many faith-
ful teachers full of earnestness and zeal, and although they were with-
out pedagogical training and destitute of printed guides or manuals
of instruction, they were not lacking in the guidance received through
the Holy Spirit, and, having that, their labors were rewarded by the
production of good fruits.

Those who became actively engaged in Sunday School work soon
realized the necessity of better methods and facilities for carrying on
and continuing the good cause then in its infancy, and the importance
of co-operation to attain the desired results became more and more

With the beginning of the year 1866, Elder George Q. Cannon
commenced the publication of a Sunday School periodical which was
called the Juvenile Instructor. While on foreign missions he had
become deeply impressed with the importance of taking steps at home
to instruct the children of the Latter-day Saints in a systematic man.
ner in the principles of the everlasting Gospel. To his mind there
seemed to be a greater field at home for missionary effort among the
rising generation than among any other people or anywhere else in
the world. Realizing the value of the press in inculcating proper
ideas upon this subject, he became convinced that a journal devoted
to the Sunday School interest would be of great value.

The effect of the publication of the Juvenile Instructor was
almost immediately felt throughout Zion. It was a means of strength-
ening the hands of those who had the Sunday School cause at heart,
and it gave shape and direction to the efforts which were being made
in the organization and maintenance of Sunday Schools. Its influence
at that time was thus most beneficial, and was a powerful agency
in bringing about concentration of effort in this direction. It
performed in those early days a most excellent mission, and during
the thirty-four years which have elapsed since then, it has continued
this mission and has done most effective and valuable work.

As early as the Spring of 1866 the organization of a Sunday
School Union was suggested by William H. Shearman, in a letter writ-

Online LibraryDeseret Sunday School UnionJubilee history of Latter-day Saints Sunday schools, 1849-1899 → online text (page 1 of 48)