Saints without Halos
Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton


[p.154]In an attempt to explain Mormonism to his English audience, G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “A number of dull, earnest, ignorant, black-coated men with chimney-pot hats, chin beards or mutton-chop whiskers, managed to reproduce in their own souls the richness and the peril of an ancient Oriental experience.”

We appreciate Chesterton’s backhanded acknowledgement of Mormonism as a genuine religious movement, but his caricature commits several common errors. First is the mistake, more common in the nineteenth century than in the twentieth, of depicting Mormons as dull and ignorant. While it is true that the advantages of formal education were not available to many early Saints in America and Europe, as well as many modern Saints in today’s developing countries, there were and are exceptionally literate and educated men and women who have left us thoughtful diaries and oral interviews reflecting a keen awareness of the world around them and a deep sensitivity to their own experiences.

Next, apparently because he identifies the Church with its ecclesiastical leadership, Chesterton ignores the importance of women in Mormonism—a common oversight that is becoming increasingly recognized.

A third common mistake is to treat Mormonism as a thing of the past. Despite the phenomenal growth of the Church worldwide in this century, even Sydney E. Ahlstrom’s recent A Religious History of the American People concludes its discussion of Mormonism in the mid-nineteenth century.

In these brief biographical sketches we have tried to give dimension to the vast range of Mormon experience—from the beginnings to modern times, from the uneducated to the professional teacher, from enthusiastic converts to discouraged colonists, from loyal critics to a headstrong rebel. We have seen women as homemakers, pioneers, and innovative leaders. We would like to have included more women, more experiences [p.155]beyond the Wasatch Front, and more individuals in the largely untapped second century of Mormonism. But there are limits to what can be accomplished in such a short work.

In the hundred-and-fifty-year history of Mormonism, developments within the Church have maintained its relevance in the modern world. Some of those developments can be seen in the lives we have described. But there is also a strong sense of continuity with the past—an abiding commitment to the original religious impulses of Mormonism’s first generation. Revelation, priesthood authority, and the implementation of religious ideals in day-to-day living remain the hallmarks of Mormonism. It is certainly much more than “an ancient Oriental experience.”

It may be that one of the ultimate values of Mormonism lies in the meaning it gives to the lives of its “ordinary” members—enlarging their vision and enriching their opportunities. We have found that the story of Mormonism is, as the personalities examined in the book demonstrate, the story of extraordinary deeds accomplished by ordinary people.

Bibliographical Notes

[p.156]Except where indicated, all unpublished manuscripts are located in the Historical Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Chapter 1. In addition to Joseph Knight, Jr., “Incidents of History from 1827 to 1844,” we have drawn information from the following published works: “Joseph Knight’s Recollections of Early Mormon History,” edited by Dean C. Jessee, Brigham Young University Studies 17 (Autumn 1976): 29-39; “Newel Knight’s Journal,” Scraps of Biography (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1883); Larry C. Porter, “The Colesville Branch and the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies 10 (Spring 1970): 365-85; and History of Broome County, edited by H. P. Smith (Syracuse, N.Y., 1885).

Chapter 2. Of special value was the Jonathan H. Hale Journal, 2 vols., and the Aroet Hale Journal, 2 vols. Also helpful was the diary of Wilford Woodruff. See one published portion in “The Kirtland Diary of Wilford Woodruff,” edited by Dean C. Jessee, BYU Studies 12 (Summer 1972): 365-99. A published biography is Heber Q. Hale, Bishop Jonathan H. Hale of Nauvoo: His Life and Ministry (Salt Lake City: privately published, 1938).

Chapter 3. The main sources for the essay on Lyman Wight are: History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, edited by B. H. Roberts, 7 vols., 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1964); Lyman Wight, An Address by Way of an Abridged Account and Journal of My Life from February 1844 up to April 1848 (Austin, Texas, 1848); Marvin J. Hunter, The Lyman Wight Colony in Texas (Bandera, Texas, n.d.); Davis Bitton, “Mormons in Texas: The Ill-Fated Lyman Wight Colony, 1844-1858,” Arizona and the West 11 (1969): 5-26; Philip C. Wightman, “The Life and Contributions of Lyman Wight,” (M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1971); and The Reminiscences and Civil War Letters of Levi Lamoni Wight, edited by Davis Bitton (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1970).

Chapter 4. Information for this chapter was gained from the letters exchanged between Thomas L. Kane and Brigham Young. We have also drawn information from the following published works: Norman R. Bowen and Albert L. Zobell, Jr., “General Thomas L. Kane: The Soldier,” Ensign 1 (June 1971): 23-27; “General Thomas L. Kane: The Pioneer,” Ensign 1 (October 1971): 2-5; Albert L. Zobell, Sentinel in the East: A Biography of Thomas L. Kane (Salt [p.157]Lake City: Nicholas G. Morgan, 1965); The Private Papers and Diary of Thomas Leiper Kane: A Friend of the Mormons, edited by Oscar O. Winther (San Francisco: Gelber-Lilienthal, 1937); Elizabeth Wood Kane, Twelve Mormon Homes Visited in Succession on a Journey through Utah and Arizona, edited by Everett L. Cooley (Salt Lake City: Tanner Trust Fund, 1974); and Leonard J. Arrington, “In Honorable Remembrance: Thomas L. Kane’s Service to the Mormons,” BYU Studies 21 (Summer 1981): 150-170.

Chapter 5. The main source for this chapter was the diary of Jean Rio Baker Pearce, typescript.

Chapter 6. Leonard J. Arrington, From Quaker to Latter-day Saint: Bishop Edwin D. Woolley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), and Preston W. Parkinson, The Utah Woolley Family (Salt Lake City: Privately published, 1967) are the principal sources. Also see Minutes of Bishops Meetings, Salt Lake City, 1852-1882; and the minute books of the Thirteenth Ward.

Chapter 7. The Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, 2 vols., edited by Andrew Karl Larson (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1980); and the Veprecula, which contains several Walker compositions and verses, were the main sources for this chapter.

Chapter 8. The material for this chapter comes from Lucy Hannah White Flake, Autobiography and Diary, manuscript; and, Roberta Flake Clayton, Pioneer Women of Arizona (mimeographed, Mesa, 1969). See also Leonard J. Arrington, “Latter-day Saint Women on the Arizona Frontier,” New Era 4 (April 1974): 42-50.

Chapter 9. Published information on Edward Bunker and Bunkerville is included in Leonard J. Arrington, Feramorz Y. Fox, and Dean L. May, Building the City of God: Community and Cooperation Among the Mormons (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976); Juanita Brooks, “The Water’s In,” Harper’s Monthly Magazine, 182 (May 1941); LeRoy R. and Ann W. Hafen, The Joyous Journey: An Autobiography (Glendale, Calif.: Arthur H. Clark, 1973); Elbert B. Edwards, 200 Years in Nevada: A Bicentennial History (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1978); The Bunker Family, edited by Joseph B. Walker (Delta, Utah: Privately published, 1957); and Leonard J. Arrington, The Mormons in Nevada (Las Vegas, Nevada: Sun, 1979). Unpublished sources are Myron A. Abbott Diary, typescript; Edward Bunker Autobiography, typescript; Bunkerville Ward Historical Record, Bunkerville Ward Manuscript History, Santa Clara Ward Manuscript History, Saint George Stake Historical Record, and Juanita Brooks, “The History of Bunkerville,” typescript.

Chapter 10. In addition to the San Juan Stake History, we have used the following published works: Reed W. Farnsworth, “The San [p.158]Juan Mission,” The Power of Adversity (Cedar City, Utah: Privately published, 1979); David E. Miller, Hole-in-the-Rock: An Epic in the Colonization of the Great American West (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1966); Lemuel Hardison Redd, Jr., 1856-1923: Pioneer, Leader, Builder, edited by Amasa Jay Redd (Salt Lake City: Privately published, 1967); and Charles Redd, “Short Cut to the San Juan,” 1949 Brand Book of the Denver Posse of Westerners (Denver, 1950): 1-25.

Chapter 11. The main source for this chapter was the 1895 diary of Chauncey W. West. See also Davis Bitton, “Six Months in the Life of a Mormon Teenager,” New Era 7 (May 1977): 44-49.

Chapter 12. We have used the diaries of George F. Richards, Church Archives, and autobiographical sketches by Joel Richards and LeGrand Richards, typescripts in our possession.

Chapter 13. Sources for this chapter were Me and Mine: The Life Story of Helen Sekaquaptewa, as Told to Louise Udall (Tuscon: University of Arizona Press, 1969); Grace F. Arrington, “Biography of an Indian Latter-day Saint Woman,” Dialogue 6 (Summer 1971): 124-26; and an untranscribed oral history of Helen Sekaquaptewa, interviewed by Lamar Helquist, 1 November 1978, copy in possession of Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Chapter 14. The material on Ephraim and Edna Ericksen comes from E. E. Ericksen, The Psychological and Ethical Aspects of Mormon Group Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1922); E. E. Ericksen, “Bendt Jensen Ericksen,” and “Ephraim Edward Ericksen: His Memories and Reflections,” typescripts in the possession of Edna Ericksen, Salt Lake City. Also valuable were Scott Kenney, “The Religious Life and Thought of E. E. Ericksen: Crusading Heretic,” unpublished paper in possession of the authors; taped interviews with Edna Ericksen, 1973-1981, in possession of Scott Kenney; Scott Kenney, “E. E. Ericksen: Loyal Heretic,” Sunstone 3 (July-August 1978): 16-27; and various publications of the YMMIA and Primary Association.

Chapter 15. The material on Margrit Feh Lohner comes from oral history interviews by Sylvia Bruening (August 1972).

Chapter 16. T. Edgar Lyon, oral history interviews conducted by Davis Bitton, November 1974 to January 1975, provided the major source of information for this chapter. See also T. Edgar Lyon, “Church Historians I Have Known,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 11 (Winter 1978): 14-22.