A Book of Mormons
by Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker
1859. March 12: Born Abraham Hoagland Cannon in Salt Lake City to George Q. Cannon and Elizabeth Hoagland. He worked as an errand boy for the Deseret News, apprenticed as a carpenter and architect on the Salt Lake Temple, and graduated from the University of Deseret.
Having married Sarah A. Jenkins in 1878, Abraham married his first cousin Wilhelmina M. Cannon in 1879, and his step-sister Mary E. Croxall in 1887. Although both plural wives expressed dissatisfaction with polygamy, “Mina” threatening divorce repeatedly, Abraham remained committed to “the principle.”
1882. Returning from a three-year mission to Europe, he was ordained and set apart to the First Council of Seventy: “In the Council of the Twelve… the remark had been made that we did not fully tend to our duties. The proposition was also made to pay us a salary… so that we might devote less time to business and more to our ministry. I told Father I would prefer to receive no salary, and as for neglect of duty I had tried to do my best. It would, however, please me very much if I could be honorably released.”
Called to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1889, at age thirty.
1882. After his European mission, Cannon became the business manager of the Juvenile Instructor and developed a small printing office into a major publishing house, Cannon & Sons. In 1892 he became editor and publisher of the Contributor, the same year he and his brother John assumed control of the Deseret News.
He was the author of many books, including A Handbook of Reference to the History, Chronology Religion and Country of the Latter-day Saints, Including Revelation on Celestial Marriage, for the Use of Saints and Strangers; [p.42]and Questions and Answers on the Book of Mormon, Designed and Prepared Especially for the Use of the Sunday Schools in Zion.
In addition to promoting the Salt Lake-Pacific and the Utah-California Railways, he was a director of Bullion-Beck Mining Company, State Bank of Utah, Utah Loan and Trust Company, and Co-op Furniture Company. He was also vice-president of George Q. Cannon & Sons Company and the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce, and owned a large book and stationery store in Ogden.
Prisoner for Conscience Sake
1886. When asked if Sarah and Wilhelmina were his wives, he replied, “They are, thank God,” and he was immediately convicted of “unlawful cohabitation.”
Fined $300 and sentenced to six months in prison, Cannon served his time in the Utah “Pen” at Sugarhouse. “For some few days the men have been complaining about the poor coffee sent in to them,” he wrote, “and on it being mentioned to the Warden, he said that a bottle of carbolic acid had accidentally been dropped into the coffee, and the kettle in which the drink was made had not been cleaned out for some time. But this had now been remedied. The bread for two days has been so sour that we could scarcely eat it. Radishes that were sent in last night were so tough that they could scarcely be eaten, and lettuce sent in the night previously was nearly covered with worms. It is something new for us to receive anything green to eat from the Penitentiary ranch, but it would be better to have it in an eatable condition.”
1896. Despite the Wilford Woodruff Manifesto (1890), Cannon married Lillian Hamblin: “Father [President George Q. Cannon] also spoke to me about taking some good girl [p.43]and raising up seed by her for my brother David …. He told me to think the matter over, and speak to him later about it. Such a ceremony as this could be performed in Mexico, so Pres. Woodruff has said.”
With the assistance of Joseph F. Smith, Abraham married Lillian off the coast of California, and sired one child on behalf of his deceased brother. The child, named “Marba” (“Abram” spelled backwards), was born in 1897, eight months after Cannon’s death.
1896. July 19: Died of meningitis at the age of thirty-seven after contracting a post-surgical inflammation subsequent to a chronic mastoid infection. He was buried in Salt Lake City Cemetery.
At his funeral Church authorities discouraged the custom of viewing the body: “It is needless to say to intelligent Latter-day Saints that all this is repugnant to that spirit and decorum which ought to characterize the laying away of the earthly tabernacles of those whom we have loved or respected; and the general authorities of the Church have felt called upon to exert an influence to check this evil, and have advised the Saints not to expose their dead to public view.”
Cannon, Frank J., and Higgins, Harvey J. Under the Prophet in Utah. Boston: C. M. Clark Publishing Co., 1911.
Deseret News, 20 July 1896.
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia. 4 vols Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson Historical Company, 1901-1936.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Abraham H. Cannon Journal.
1859. January 25: Born Franklin Jenne Cannon in Salt Lake City to George Q. Cannon and Jane Jenne. He married Martha Brown in 1878; they had four children. After Martha’s death in 1908, Frank married her sister May.
A Wayward Cannon
1882. Spared excommunication for fathering an illegitimate child only through a reluctant public confession. For years afterward, Cannon continued his drunken sprees at Kate Flint’s brothel in Salt Lake City.
1886. In an attempt to obtain evidence against George Q. Cannon, District Attorney Dickson ruthlessly grilled plural wife Martha Telle Cannon. Frank J., his brother Hugh, and cousin Angus M. assaulted the prosecutor as he was leaving the Continental Hotel in downtown Salt Lake. Frank served a brief prison sentence before his brother Abraham arranged bond.
1886. A gifted writer, Cannon apparently wrote most of the Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet shortly after his release from prison. Because of his unsavory reputation, the biography was published under his father’s name.
1890. Sent to Washington by his father, Cannon worked to prevent passage of the Cullom-Strubble Bill, which would have disfranchised all Mormons. He argued, “It is a poor reward that this bill proposes to bestow—to inflict the same political deprivations on the men who are obeying the law as have been imposed upon offenders.”
Cannon later claimed that assurances given to national leaders by him and his father regarding the abandonment of plural marriage were decisive in Wilford Woodruffs decision to issue the Manifesto.
[p.46]Utah’s First United States Senator
1891. Cannon was prominent in the organization of the Republican Party in Utah. He was a delegate to the national convention in 1892 and 1896, and served as Utah’s territorial delegate to Congress from 1895 to 1896.
As Utah neared statehood, Cannon hoped to become Utah’s first senator. On January 4, 1896, President Grover Cleveland proclaimed Utah a state, ending Cannon’s service as a territorial delegate. That evening he received a coded telegram from President Woodruff which translated: “It is the will of the Lord that your father shall be elected Senator from Utah. We want you to tell us how to bring it about.” “President Woodruff,” Cannon replied, “you have received the revelation on the wrong point. You do not need a voice from heaven to convince anyone that my father is worthy to go to the Senate, but you will need a revelation to tell how he is to get there.”
President Woodruff pointed out, “The legislators are pledged to you. Will you not release them from their promises and tell them to vote for your father?” “No,” Cannon responded. “And my father would not permit me to do it, even if I could. He knows that I gave my word of honor to my supporters to stand as a candidate, no matter who might enter against me. He knows that he and I have given our pledges at Washington that political dictation in Utah by the heads of the Mormon Church shall cease.” George Q. Cannon, with President Woodruffs approval, withdrew from the race. Frank J. Cannon was elected Utah’s first United States Senator.
1896. During his three years in the Senate, Cannon denounced Spanish rule in Cuba. He was one of the Senate leaders of the first ill-fated movement against the control of the Republican Party by financial interests he viewed as “piratical.”
Cannon was a militant advocate of the remonetization of silver, an issue which gained national attention during the presidential campaign of 1896. Cannon delivered a [p.47] strong speech at the Republican National Convention which nominated William McKinley, but unable to have their way, Cannon and the other “Silver Republicans” left the floor and threw their support behind Democrat William Jennings Bryan.
1898. Cannon’s platform contained fourteen “Reasons for Voting for Cannon”—seven of which pertained to silver. But silver was not the issue in Utah; sugar was. The Church had extensive sugar interests. Cannon’s 1897 vote against the Dingley Tariff was, in the words of his father, “a great mistake… alienating the friends who have done so much for us. … When a man’s head is high, it is easily hit.”
Cannon was the sole Republican voting nay. His vote cost him Church support and the election of 1898. In 1900 he joined the Democratic Party, serving as the Utah State Democratic Chairman in 1902.
The last decade of Cannon’s life was devoted almost exclusively to bimetallism. He served as chairman of the International Silver Commission, and as president of the Bimetallical Association in Denver, Colorado.
1903. As editor of the Democrat Utah State Journal, Cannon tried to gain “restoration of political freedom in Utah and to remonstrate against the new polygamy.” When the Journal failed, Cannon became editor of the Salt Lake Tribune. Believing that the Reed Smoot confirmation hearings provided ample evidence that “the tyranny of the Prophet’s absolutism had been re-established with a fierceness I had never even seen in the days of Brigham Young,” Cannon began a relentless editorial attack on Church leaders—especially Joseph F. Smith.
Requested by friends Ben Rich and J. Golden Kimball to formally withdraw from the Church, Cannon refused. His February, 1905, editorial charged that President Smith “violated the laws [revelations] of his predecessors,” took “the bodies of the daughters of his subjects and bestowed them upon his favorites,” and “impoverished his subjects by a system of elaborate exactions [tithes] in order to enrich ‘the crown.'”
[p.48]1905. President Smith, privately referring to his nemesis as “Furious Judas,” proceeded against him in the Church tribunals. Cannon refused to attend a meeting of his stake’s high council convened to hear his case. He was excommunicated on March 14 for “unchristianlike conduct and apostasy.” He responded in a Tribune editorial: “To be disfellowshipped by littleness is to be parted from dragging things. To be excommunicated by bigotry is to be set free to dwell in grandeur.”
1911. Cannon published Under the Prophet in Utah, a vituperative attack on President Joseph F. Smith:”I undertake, in fact, in this narrative, to expose and to demonstrate what I do believe to be one of the most direful conspiracies of treachery in the history of the United States.” In 1913 he wrote Brigham Young and His Mormon Empire.
1933. July 25: Cannon developed a serious infection following a minor surgical procedure and died in Denver. He was buried in the Ogden, Utah, Cemetery.
Cannon, Frank J., and Higgins, Harvey J. Under the Prophet in Utah. Boston: G. M. Clark Publishing Co., 1911.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Abraham H. Cannon Journal.
_____. George F. Gibbs Papers.
_____. Joseph F. Smith Letters.
Salt Lake Tribune, 7 March 1905, 26 July 1933.
Snow, Reuben Joseph. “The American Party in Utah: A Study of Political Party Struggles During the Early Years of Statehood” Master’s thesis, University of Utah, 1964.
Whitney, Orson F. History of Utah. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon & Sons, 1890-1904.
1827. January 11: Born George Quayle Cannon in Liverpool, England. In 1854 he married Elizabeth Hoagland, and later married plural wives Jane Jenne, Eliza Lamercia Tenny, Martha Telle, and Caroline Young Croxall, daughter of Brigham Young.
His thirty-five children included John Q., counselor to the Presiding Bishop; Abraham H., member of the Quorum of the Twelve; and Frank J., Utah’s first U.S. Senator.
On one occasion he stopped in a cutlery shop in London and ordered three of their finest Sheffield razors for three sons who were turning twenty-one that month. “Triplets?” asked the clerk. “Why no, indeed,” replied Cannon, “they were born several days apart throughout the month.”
1842. George’s family was converted to the Church by his uncle John Taylor. His mother died on the ocean voyage from Liverpool and his father died in Nauvoo. George was taken into the Taylor home and worked for his uncle on the Times and Seasons. He was adopted to John Taylor in the Nauvoo Temple in 1846.
1849. Two years after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Cannon was called on a gold-mining mission to California. “There was no place I would not rather have gone to at that time than California. I heartily despised the work of digging gold.”
1850. Cannon and nine others were called to open missionary work in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). Discouraged when white settlers would not listen, five elders returned to Utah.
“I felt resolved to stay there, master the language and warn the people of those islands, if I had to do it alone.” Through the efforts of the remaining missionaries, four [p.51]thousand native Hawaiians joined the Church in four years.
Printer, Editor, and Publisher
He began translating the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian after hearing the language for only one month. “In the beginning my method was to translate a few pages … and explain to Brother Napela [a Hawaiian judge] the ideas. I would then read the translation to him … and learn from him the impression the language conveyed to his mind. In this way I was able to correct any obscure expression which might be used, and secure the Hawaiian idiom.”
After a brief trip to Salt Lake City to be married, he returned to San Francisco, where he and Parley P. Pratt published the Hawaiian Book of Mormon. He also published and edited the Church’s Western Standard in San Francisco.
1858. With the approach of the Utah Expeditionary Force, the Deseret News press was moved to Fillmore and Cannon was appointed editor. Later in his life he edited and published in the Millennial Star and Juvenile Instructor, and with his sons established the George Q. Cannon & Sons Publishing Company.
1858. On one day’s notice Cannon was sent to preside over the Eastern States Mission, with the special charge to influence Eastern editors against the rising “anti-Mormon feeling.” At the time, Cannon’s “family had no place to live in … I had not time to do anything in relation to a house and they were left to shift for themselves.”
1860. Returning from the East in August, Cannon was ordained an apostle by Brigham Young. He later testified, “I know that God lives. I know that Jesus lives, for I have seen him.” Six weeks after his return from the East, Cannon started for England with Charles C. Rich and Amasa M. Lyman to preside over the European Mission.
[p.52]1862. Called home to serve as a “senator” to petition for statehood, Cannon had no legal standing with Congress, but represented the “state of Deseret” with W. H. Hooper. When the petition was denied and the first federal anti-polygamy legislation was enacted, Cannon returned to England.
By 1871 a tradeoff was being considered in which Utah would become a state in exchange for Church abandonment of plural marriage. Brigham Young sent Cannon east again to convince editors and Congressmen that the Church would not compromise “the principle.”
Served as a member of the general superintendency of the Deseret Sunday School Union from 1867 to his death in 1901.
Beginning with a call as special counselor in the First Presidency, he served as counselor to Presidents Brigham Young (1873-77), John Taylor (1880-87), Wilford Woodruff (1889-98), and Lorenzo Snow (1898-1901).
Brigham Young Estate Executor
1864. As Brigham Young’s personal secretary, Cannon was appointed chief executor of the will.
Settlement of the estate was complicated by a suit filed by several Young heirs, resulting in three weeks imprisonment for Cannon and his co-executors Brigham Young, Jr., and Albert Carrington. In prison Cannon entertained many visitors and frequently granted inmate requests to “preach to the spirits in prison.”
Council of Fifty Member
1885. February 4: At an informal Council of Fifty meeting attended by seven apostles and two secretaries, George Q. Cannon anointed John Taylor “King, Priest, and Ruler over Israel on Earth.” The ordination was in response to a revelation President Taylor had received and written, but never published.
A member of the council since 1867, Cannon served as recorder and for many years had the only key to the safe which contained council minutes since 1844.
1872. Elected Utah’s territorial delegate with “voice but no vote.” In Congress he came forward with the rest of the delegates to be sworn in, when, according to an Ohio Representative, “a fool from the other side jumped up and objected, and afterward offered a resolution. Mr. Cannon walked out cooly to one side and stood there, and I was struck with admiration at the manner in which he went through the scene; he showed such pluck and betrayed so little agitation. He looked as though he didn’t care a damn whether they swore him in or not.”
After nine years in the House of Representatives, Cannon was expelled as a polygamist in violation of the 1882 Edmunds Act.
1878. “I have been desirous to … restore to the Church all I had ever drawn from it for services, so my labors might be gratuitous. I have paid tolerably heavy tithing and I felt if I could square up these credits I should be grateful,” Cannon said. For twenty years of Church service and the funds he had drawn to build his “Big House,” Cannon’s “debt” totaled $39,914. He offered the $75,000 house to cancel the amount, but his fellow apostles declined the offer. Finally he deeded the house to the Church, his account was cancelled, and he received a credit of $20,000.
On the Underground
1886. Due to his commanding presence, President Taylor’s advanced age, and Joseph F. Smith’s “exile” in Hawaii, George Q. Cannon was considered “the power behind the throne.” Non-Mormons referred to him as “the Mormon Richelieu,” and a bounty was offered for information leading to his arrest on “unlawful cohabitation” charges.
At one point Cannon proposed to President Taylor [p.54]that every man living in plural marriage should surrender himself to the court, pleading: “I entered into this covenant of celestial marriage with a personal conviction that it was an order revealed by our Father in Heaven for the salvation of mankind. I have kept my covenant in purity. I believed that no constitutional law of the country could forbid this practice of a religious faith. As the laws of Congress conflict with my sense of submission to the will of the Lord, I now offer myself, here, for whatever judgment the courts of my country may impose.”
[p.55 photo][George Q. Cannon (center, front row) at territorial penitentary.]
[p.54]President Taylor, concerned for his counselor’s safety, sent him to Mexico to negotiate a land contract. En route, he was apprehended by federal marshals near Humbolt Wells, Nevada. The returning party occupied a stateroom in the rear of one of the railroad cars. During a night-time bathroom trip, Cannon stepped outside the rear of the car to assess the possibilities of escape. The train lurched; he was thrown from the car and later recaptured in a dazed condition, bleeding profusely from a badly broken nose.
Boasts were made that Cannon would be imprisoned for life and that he would be sent to a distant prison where his condition would be “unbearable.” On the advice of President Taylor and with the approval of his bondsmen, Cannon returned to the underground and forfeited a $45,000 bond.
1888. Frank J. Cannon persuaded President Grover Cleveland to replace punitive federal judges in Utah with more lenient judges. As part of the agreement, George Q. Cannon voluntarily appeared before Judge Elliott Sandford, pleaded guilty to two charges of “unlawful co-habitation,” and was fined $450 and sentenced to 175 days in the Utah Territorial Prison.
In his own words, entering prison proved that “the leading men are willing to suffer but not to concede.” His presence among other Mormon prisoners created a feeling that the Church was making no concessions on plural marriage. While imprisoned, he wasted no time. He collaborated on a biography of Joseph Smith with his sons, wrote magazine articles, organized a Sunday School and taught a Bible class, acquired an organ for the prison, and entertained hundreds of visitors.
Director of the Bullion-Beck and Champion Mining Company (from which most of his wealth was derived), Union Pacific Railroad, Co-op Wagon and Machine Company, and Grant Central Mining Company; vice-president of ZCMI and Zion’s Savings Bank and Trust Company; and president of George Q. Cannon Publishing Company, Utah Sugar Company, Brigham Young Trust Company, and Utah Light and Power Company.
Cannon’s writings include My First Mission, The Life of Nephi, The Latter-day Prophet: Young People’s History of Joseph Smith, and Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet (written primarily by his son Frank J.), three hundred discourses, and thousands of editorials.
1901. April 12: Died of “la grippe” (influenza) in Monterey, California, at the age of seventy-four. Buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
A family publication honored him as a “Dedicated Apostle—Grimy Gold-Miner! Distinguished Statesman—Energetic Emigration Agent! Spell-Binding Missionary—Intransigent Federal Prisoner! Brilliant Writer and Orator—Thirteen-year-old ‘school dropout.'” They remembered him, too, as a faddish dieter and health food enthusiast, a lover of ice baths, a man prone to seasickness and abnormally afraid of mice.
[p.421]Cannon, Frank J., and Higgins, Harvey J. Under the Prophet in Utah. Boston: G. M. Clark Publishing Co., 1911.
Cannon, Mark W. “The Mormon Issue in Congress, 1872-1882: Drawing on the Experience of Territorial Delegate George Q. Cannon.” Ph.D. thesis, Harvard University, 1960.
[p.422]Cannon, M. Hamlin. “Prison Diary of a Mormon Apostle.” Pacific Historical Review 16 (November 1947):395-409.
Evans, Beatrice Cannon, and Cannon, Janath Russell, eds. Cannon Family Historical Treasury. Salt Lake City: G. Q. Cannon Family Association, 1967.
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson Historical Company, 1901-1936.
Journal of Discourses, 12:290-291, 297.
Quinn, D. Michael. “The Council of Fifty and Its Members: 1844-1945.” Brigham Young University Studies 20 (Winter 1980):163-197.
Roberts, B. H. Comprehensive History, 6:381-382.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Abraham H. Cannon Journal.
1857. July 1: Born Martha Hughes. Her family joined the Church in Wales and emigrated to America a few months after her birth. Her father’s ill health prevented their continuing to Utah until 1860. He died just two days after their arrival in Salt Lake City.
As a child, Martha dreamed of being a doctor. When she was fifteen, Church leaders called her to set type for the Deseret News and the Woman’s Exponent. She attended the University of Deseret and saved her typesetting wages to go to medical school.
1878. Set apart for medical training by President John Taylor, she entered the University of Michigan Medical School, where she received an M.D. on her birthday in 1880. Two years later she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and the National School of Elocution and Oratory with bachelor of science degrees. She was the only woman in her graduating class.
1882. Dr. Cannon opened a private medical practice in Salt Lake City, but was soon called to serve as a resident physician at Deseret Hospital. Attempts to continue her medical practice were interrupted throughout her life by the birth of her three children, exile in the face of polygamy persecution, and political activities.
1884. Secretly married Salt Lake Stake President Angus Cannon in the Endowment House. He was twenty-three years her senior; she was his third plural wife. Each time she became pregnant, she was forced to leave the city to prevent her husband’s arrest; she visited Europe to avoid detection in 1886-87. Cannon described her marriage as “a few stolen interviews thoroughly tinctured with the dread of [p.59]discovery. … Oh for a home! A husband of my own because he is my own. A father for my children whom they know by association. And all the little auxiliaries that make life worth living. Will they ever be enjoyed by this storm-tossed exile. Or must life thus drift on and one more victim swell the ranks of the great unsatisfied!”
If she had not believed that plural marriage, rightly lived, would enable her to associate with the elect in eternity, she said, she would “undoubtedly have given plural marriage a wide berth except perhaps as first wife.”
But she also noted the advantage of a plural wife: “If her husband has four wives, she has three weeks of freedom every month.”
Women’s Rights Advocate
1893. As a suffragette, Cannon addressed the Columbia Exposition and, in 1898, lobbied in Washington, D.C., for women’s right to vote.
“You give me a woman who thinks about something besides cook stoves and wash tubs and baby flannels,” she declared, “and I’ll show you, in nine times out of ten, a successful mother.”
First Female State Senator
1896. Running against her Republican husband, Democrat Martha Hughes Cannon won one of five Utah State Senate seats, becoming the first woman in the United States to be elected a state senator.
1896. As a member of Utah’s first senate, Cannon championed public health, sponsoring “An Act to Protect the Health of Women and Girl Employees,” “An Act Providing for the Compulsory Education of Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Children,” and “An Act Creating a State Board of Health and Defining its Duties.”
In 1897 Dr. Cannon ignored her husband’s political views and supported Moses Thatcher for the U.S. Senate. Thatcher had been dropped from the Quorum of the Twelve for refusing to sign a “political manifesto.” [p.60]According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Cannon’s endorsement speech was so eloquent that “despite parliamentary decorum and the rigid rules against demonstrations she was cheered and cheered again at its conclusion.”
She refused to support her husband’s nephew Frank J. Cannon for the Senate in 1899 because, she said, she had been elected a Democrat and intended to support the Democratic candidate, Joseph L. Rawlins.
1932. July 10: Died at the age of seventy-five following surgery in Los Angeles. She had lived during the last years of her life near her children in California, where she worked in the orthopedic department of General Hospital and at the Graves Clinic. She was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
[p.422]Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Angus M. Cannon Papers.
Salt Lake City, Utah. Utah State Historical Society. Elizabeth Cannon McCrimmon, “Martha Hughes Cannon.”
San Francisco Examiner, 8 November 1896.
White, Jean Bickmore, “Martha H. Cannon.” Sister Saints. Edited by Vicky Burgess-Olson. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1978.
1866. April 13: Born Robert LeRoy Parker in Beaver, Utah, the eldest of thirteen children. He was baptized at the age of eight. Temple work was performed in his behalf by his brother-in-law in 1945.
1884. When the family moved to Circleville, Utah, near Bryce Canyon, young Parker was influenced by a local outlaw, Mike Cassidy. After his initial horse-stealing venture, Parker escaped to Telluride, Colorado.
When he was not robbing banks or trains, Parker worked as an ore packer in the Telluride mines, as a ranch hand, cowboy, and even as a butcher in Otto Schnauber’s Meat Market in Rock Springs, Wyoming. This latter job, coupled with his outlaw mentor Mike Cassidy’s last name, is apparently the source of his best-known alias—”Butch Cassidy.”
An excellent handler of horses, he won many horse-races in Telluride and later in Brown’s Park on the Utah-Colorado border.
As a ranch hand with the Eugene Amaretti outfit in Wind River, Wyoming, he was described as a “crack shot, and the best there was with a rope. … He could ride around a tree full speed and empty a six-gun into the tree, putting every shot within a three-inch circle.”
1892. July 15: Arrested with Al Hainer on a horse-theft complaint. The arresting officer, Bob Calverly, reported: “I told him I had a warrant for him and he said: ‘Well get to shooting,’ and with that we pulled our guns. I put the barrel of my revolver almost to his stomach, but it missed three times, but owing to the fact that there was another man between [p.63]us, he failed to hit me. The fourth time I snapped the gun it went off and the bullet hit him in the upper part of the forehead and felled him. I then had him and he made no further resistance.” Cassidy was acquitted.
1893. While still in custody, Cassidy was tried and convicted on a second charge of horse-stealing and on July 15, 1894, was sentenced to two years of hard larbor in the Wyoming penitentiary—the only jail sentence he ever served.
Prison description: “Height, 5’9″; Complexion, Light; Hair, Dark Flaxen; Eyes, Blue; Wife, No; Parents, Not Known; Children, No; Religion, None; Habits of Life, Intemperate; Education, Com. School; Relations Address, Not Known; Weight 165#; Marks, Scars; Features regular, small deep set eyes, 2 cut scars on back of head, small red scar under left eye, red mark on left side of back, small mole on calf of left leg, good build.”
1896. Wyoming Governor W.A. Richards pardoned Cassidy on the promise that he would stop robbing Wyoming banks and rustling Wyoming cattle. As a “gentleman outlaw,” Cassidy was a man of his word. He turned to robbing Wyoming trains and non-Wyoming banks.
“King of the Wild Bunch”
In the five years after his pardon, Cassidy masterminded bank and train robberies in Montpelier, Idaho; Castle Gate, Utah; Folsom, New Mexico; Winnemucca, Nevada; and Wagner, Montana—robberies that netted over $270,000. His “Wild Bunch,” perhaps the largest group of outlaws in the West, operated out of the Brown’s Hole and Robbers Roost areas of Colorado and Utah.
After the Winnemucca job, members of the gang escaped to Fort Worth, Texas, where they posed for a formal photograph which they sent to the Winnemucca Bank, “thanking them for their contribution.”
Butch told his family, “There were a lot of good friends, but Elzy Lay was the best, always dependable and [p.64]level-headed. Sundance and I got along fine, but he liked his liquor too much and was too quick on the trigger.”
When his father asked if he had ever killed a man, Butch claimed, “No, thank God. But some of my boys had itchy trigger fingers. I tried to control ’em. I feel real bad about some posse men who got shot.
[p.64 photo][Wild Bunch at Ft. Worth, Texas. Standing, L-R: Bill Carver, Harvey Logan. Sitting, L-R: Harry Longabough, Ben Kilpatrick, Butch Cassidy.]
South American Rancher-Robber
1902. After a five-year crime spree, Cassidy, Harry Longbaugh (the Sundance Kid), and the Kid’s girlfriend, Etta Place (described in Pinkerton Detective files as “a refined type”), embarked for Argentina. They bought “four square leagues” of land in Cholilo, Chubert Province, and established a large ranch with thirteen hundred head of sheep, five hundred head of cattle, and thirty-five horses.
1905. The three robbed the Bank of Loudres and Tarapaco at Rio Gallegos, Argentina, of 20,000 pesos and an undetermined amount of gold. They also successfully robbed the bank of Via Mercedes in San Luis in 1906.
[p.65]Report of His Death Greatly Exaggerated
1909. Mistakenly reported killed in a gun battle with Bolivian police and soldiers in San Vicente. The false reports were based on Arthur Chapman’s poem, “Out Where the West Begins,” which colorfully recounts that Cassidy and Sundance had robbed the payroll of the Aramayo Mines near Quechisla, Bolivia.
Surrounded by police and Bolivian cavalry, Chapman claimed, the two decided to shoot their way out rather than be captured. Sundance was seriously wounded. After dragging him to cover, the “King of the Wild Bunch” fired a bullet into the Kid’s head and a second into his own. According to this account, the outlaws killed twenty Bolivians and wounded forty more.
1908. After a year of working in the Concordia Tin Mines near Tres Cruces, Bolivia, Cassidy returned to the U.S. and settled in Michigan. As “William Thadeus Phillips,” he married Gertrude Livesay in Morenci, Michigan. In 1919 they adopted a son, William Richard Phillips.
1912. Cassidy unsuccessfully hunted for gold in Alaska and eventually established the Phillips Manufacturing Company in Spokane, Washington. He developed an adding machine and invented parts for farm equipment, an automatic garage-door opener, and an automobile gas mileage indicator.
1930. He lost his business in the Depression and tried in vain to locate buried caches of money hidden during his outlaw days.
According to his younger sister, Lula Betenson, Cassidy visited his father in Circleville, Utah, in 1925 and told him that he had tried to leave his life of crime on several early occasions, but “when a man gets down, they won’t let him up. He never quits paying his price.”
[p.66]1934. Butch wrote The Bandit Invincible, the Story of Butch Cassidy, but failed to find a publisher for his life’s story. This unpublished manuscript, along with an inscribed ring, Cassidy’s marked guns, and other compelling evidence, welds the link between Butch Cassidy and William Phillips in Larry Pointer’s book In Search of Butch Cassidy.
1937. July 20: Died of rectal cancer in Spokane at the age of seventy-one. He was cremated and his ashes scattered over the Little Spokane River.
Betenson, Lula, as told to Dora Flack. Butch Cassidy, My Brother. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1975.
Kelly, Charles. The Outlaw Trail: A History of Butch Cassidy and His Wild Bunch. New York: Bonanza Books, 1959.
Luke, Theron. “Butch Cassidy: Man or Legend?” Provo Daily Herald, 7 September 1969.
Pointer, Larry. In Search of Butch Cassidy. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977.
Wyoming State Tribune, 16 June 1939.
1871. September 1: Born Joshua Reuben Clark, Jr., the eldest of ten children, in Grantsville, Utah. In 1898 he married Luacine Annette Savage, daughter of prominent photographer C.R. Savage; they had four children.
His father, a school teacher, remarked that Reuben “would rather miss his meals than miss a day from school.” After completing the eighth grade, the extent of educational opportunity in Grantsville, he returned to repeat the grade twice more:”I was not quite that dull, but there was nothing to do, so I went to school in the winter time and went over the same ground.”
1890. Enrolled in the Latter-day Saint College in Salt Lake City. Principal James E. Talmage, recognizing Reuben’s potential, as well as his poverty, offered him a job at the new Deseret Museum. When Talmage became president of the University of Utah in 1894, he named Clark as his assistant.
1898. In addition to working for Talmage, Clark edited the University Chronicle, served as student body president, and completed six years of study in four, graduating first in his class. His valedictory address was filled with enthusiasm for the Spanish-American War.
Served as principal of the Heber, Utah, school system for one year. In 1899 he taught at the Salt Lake City Business College for a year, and then served as principal of the University of Utah’s Southern Normal School in Cedar City. Differences of opinion with the board of trustees over granting four-year recognition for the school led to his replacement and return to Salt Lake City.
1902. Clark’s dream of going to law school was fulfilled when [p.69]his Salt Lake Business School mentor Joseph Nelson picked up the tab as a “loan … without interest, terms, or penalties.” When Clark left for Columbia University, Talmage remarked, “He possesses the brightest mind ever to leave Utah.”
1906. Received his L.L.B. from Columbia University, where he was editor of the law review.
State Department Solicitor
1906. Shortly after graduation, Clark was appointed assistant solicitor with the State Department under Secretary of State Elihu Root. Dominating the State Department legal bureau, he was appointed solicitor in 1910 and was responsible for settling the legal difficulties encountered during the Mexican Revolution.
1913. When Democrat Woodrow Wilson swept into power, Clark left the State Department for private law practice, but his international clientele and service on the American-British Pecuniary Claims Commission kept him abreast of American foreign policy.
1917. At the outbreak of World War I, he joined both the office of the United States attorney general and the headquarters of the army provost marshal. For his military service he was awarded three silver chevrons and the Distinguished Service medal.
1921. With Staynor Richards and Albert Bowen, he established a prestigious law firm in Salt Lake City.
Ambassador to Mexico
1927. Having served on the United States-Mexico Mixed Claims Commission, Clark was appointed legal counsel to the ambassador to Mexico by Herbert Hoover. After a [p.70]temporary assignment as undersecretary of state, he was named ambasador to Mexico in 1930.
“I am an American because this nation has no scheme or plan of conquest,” he said, “because it has a respect for the rights of other peoples and of other nations, because it promotes justice and honor in the relationships of nations, because it loves the ways of peace as against war.”
During his government career, he at one time or another opposed virtually every major political figure he worked with, including Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Root, William H. Taft, Henry Cabot Lodge, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Reed Smoot. He described himself as “anti-internationalist, anti-interventionist, anti-meddlesome busybodiness, in our international affairs. In the domestic field, I am anti-socialist, anti-communist, anti-Welfare State.”
Of his fierce opposition to the League of Nations, he declared: “I am a confirmed isolationist, a political isolationist, first I am sure, by political instinct, next from experience, observation, and patriotism, and lastly, because while isolated, we built the most powerful nation in the world, a nation that provided most of prosperity to all its citizens, with the full measure of resulting comfort, most of popular education, most of freedom, most of peace, most of blessing by example to other nations.”
1923. Concerned with her husband’s passivity toward the Church, Luacine Clark commented, “I don’t see why you can’t do a little church work. … Everyone loves to hear you talk, you would be such a big help if you would take hold. You have been nearly twenty years out of it. … I have hired you, I remember, more than once to go to church with me, but now you are of age.”
1925. Appointed to the general board of the YMMIA. The following year he became a member of the advisory editorial committee of the Improvement Era.
1931. At the funeral of Second Counselor Charles W. Nibley, [p.71]President Grant whispered to First Counselor Anthony W. Ivins that he knew who could fill the vacancy in the Presidency: “This man Clark, the ambassador to Mexico.” “You can’t get him, Heber,” Ivins advised, “he is a $100,000-a-year man.” Replied the president, “We can ask him.”
1933. Called as Second Counselor to President Grant. Ordained an apostle and called as first counselor on the death of President Anthony W. Ivins in 1934. He also served in the First Presidency during the administrations of Presidents George Albert Smith and David O. McKay—a total of twenty-eight years.
“We are of the view that the so-called inefficiency of democracies … is evidence of their highest virtue, which is a regulation of the civic, social, and economic life of the nation by the experience of all the people, crystallized into their mass wisdom. We know that this must mean a slow development, but we know also that it means a sure one.”
“On more than one occasion our Church members have gone to other places for special training in particular lines; they have had the training which was supposedly the last word, the most modern view. … Before trying on the newest fangled ideas in any line of thought, education, activity, or what not, experts should just stop and consider that however backward we may actually be in some things, in other things we are far out in the lead, and therefore these new methods may be old, if not worn out, with us.”
1961. October 6: Died at the age of ninety in Salt Lake City; buried in Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Clark, J. Reuben, Jr. “Address of J. Reuben Clark, Jr.” American Bar Association Journal 26 (1940):901-902.
Clark, J. Reuben, Jr. Stand Fast by Our Constitution. Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1959.
Conference Reports, April 1940.
Congressional Record, 11 June 1940.
Deseret News, 13 August 1938, 6 October 1961.
Flake, Lawrence. Mighty Men of Zion. Salt Lake City: Karl D· Butler, 1974.
Fox, Frank W. J. Reuben Clark: The Public Years. Provo, Utah: BYU Press/Deseret Book Company, 1980.
1806. October 3: Born in Wells, Vermont. In 1832 he married Elizabeth Ann Whitmer, daughter of Peter Whitmer, Sr. Only one of their six children lived to adulthood. Cowdery was brother-in-law to Brigham Young’s brother Phineas and to Book of Mormon Witnesses David Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, and Peter Whitmer, Jr. He was a third cousin to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Book of Mormon Scribe
1829. A rural school teacher, he became aware of the gold plates while boarding in the home of Joseph Smith, Sr. As the Prophet’s scribe, “I wrote with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages), as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as he translated it by the gift and power of God.”
Book of Mormon Witness
1829. As one of the Three Witnesses, Cowdery testified, “We, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record …. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid them before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates.”
Early Church Leader
Cowdery is mentioned in twenty-seven sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, which include references to his ordination by John the Baptist (section 13), his gift of faith and power equalling that of the Prophet (section 17), and his appointment as “first preacher to the Church” (section 21). Cowdery was one of the six original members of the [p.74]Church, the first person baptized, and the first ordained to the priesthood in this dispensation.
1830. According to Joseph Smith’s 1838 journal history, as they neared completion of the Book of Mormon, they became concerned about the restoration of priesthood authority. “We had not long been engaged in solemn and fervent prayer, when the word of the Lord came unto us in the chamber, commanding us; that I should ordain Oliver Cowdery to be an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ; and that he also should ordain me to the same office, and then to ordain others as it should be made known unto us, from time to time: we were however commanded to defer this our ordination untill, such times, as it should be practicable to have our brethren, who had been and who should be baptized, assembled together, when we must have their sanction to our thus proceeding to ordain each other, and have them decide by vote whether they were willing to accept us as spiritual teachers or not.”
April 6: Designated “second elder” at the organization of the Church, Cowdery was called on a mission six months later with Parley P. Pratt, Peter Whitmer, Jr., and Ziba Peterson “into the wilderness among the Lamanites” (D&C 32).
1834. December 5: Ordained “to assist in presiding over the whole church, and, to officiate in the absence of the President,” a position that gave him authority over Joseph Smith’s counselors. Church historian Joseph Fielding Smith coined the term “associate president” to describe Cowdery’s office.
1835. With Martin Harris and David Whitmer, Cowdery selected twelve elders to constitute the first Quorum of the Twelve.
1836. In the Kirtland Temple Cowdery administered endowments and, on April 3, shared with Joseph Smith a vision of Christ, Moses, Elias, and Elijah.
Editor of the Messenger and Advocate and of the edited [p.75]republication of the Evening and Morning Star in Kirtland, Ohio.
1832. According to Brigham Young, “While Joseph And Oliver were translating the Book of Mormon they had a revelation that the order of Patriarchal Marriag and the Sealing was right. Oliver Said unto Joseph, ‘Br Joseph why dont we go into the Order of Polygamy, and practice it as the ancients did? We know it is true, then why delay?’ Joseph’s reply was ‘I know that we know it is true, and from God, but the time has not yet come.’ This did not seem to suit Oliver, who expressed a determination to go into the order of Plural Marriage anyhow, although he was ignorant of the order and pattern and the results. Joseph said, ‘Oliver if you go into this thing it is not with my faith or consent.’ Disregarding the counsel of Joseph, Oliver Cowdery took to wife Miss Annie Lyman cousin to George A. Smith. From that time he went into darkness and lost the spirit. Annie Lyman is still alive, a witness to these things.”
This statement by President Young seems to have been either to discredit Oliver Cowdery or to enhance polygamy. No charges of sexual misconduct were made against Cowdery during his 1838 excommunication trial. However, one of the charges brought against him, was seeking to destroy the prophet’s character by”insinuating that he was guilty of adultery.” Cowdery had openly condemned the Prophet for that “dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger’s.”
1838. Excommunicated in Far West, Missouri, for (1) persecuting the brethren by urging on vexatious lawsuits against them; (2) accusing Joseph Smith of adultery; (3) not attending meetings; (4) not being governed by ecclesiastical authority in temporal matters (charge withdrawn); (5) selling land in Jackson County against the wishes of Joseph Smith (charge withdrawn); (6) sending an insulting letter to Thomas B. Marsh (charge withdrawn); (7) leaving [p.76]his calling to practice law; (8) being in the “bogus business”; (9) dishonestly keeping notes that had been paid.
Left Missouri after he, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, W.W. Phelps, and Lyman E. Johnson received a letter signed by eighty-four Church members ordering the dissenters to leave the country or “face a more fatal calamity.” For Cowdery, there was a special irony in his fleeing Missouri under Church duress. In November, 1836, he had joined with sixty-nine other Church leaders who signed a petition warning a hostile justice of the peace to leave Kirtland.
1840s Practiced law for several years in Ohio and Wisconsin. He described his 1842 practice as “steadily increasing—nothing operates against me, except the fact that I have been formerly connected with, what is now an important church.”
A contemporary described him as “an able lawyer and great advocate. His manners were easy and gentlemanly; he was polite, dignified, yet courteous. He had an open countenance, high forehead, dark brown eyes, Roman nose, clenched lips and prominent lower jaw. He shaved smooth and was neat and clean in his appearance. He was of light stature about five feet, five inches high and had a loose easy walk. With all his kind and friendly disposition there was a certain degree of sadness that seemed to pervade his whole being.”
Return to the Church
1848. Though he joined the Methodist church in Tiffin, Ohio, he kept in constant communication with his brother-in-law, Phineas Young, who encouraged him to travel to Council Bluffs, Iowa. He was permitted to address the Saints when he arrived, and the next day he was rebaptized by Orson Hyde.
Brigham Young wrote him in 1849, “congratulating him on his return to the Church, admonishing him to [p.77]righteousness and informing him of their [The First Presidency’s] desire that he should accompany Mr. Babbitt [Almon] to Washington and endeavor ‘to obtain the admission of the state of Deseret’ into the union.”
1850. Wishing to visit his in-laws, the Whitmers, Cowdery left Council Bluffs for Richmond, Missouri. He wrote Phineas Young, “I am poor, very poor, and I did hope to have health and means sufficient last spring to go West and get some gold, that I might so situate my family, that I could be engaged in the cause of God; but I did not succeed.”
Neither Cowdery’s financial status nor his health improved. Suffering from consumption (tuberculosis), he complained, “My lungs are very bad, with considerable cough. I have been careful to take exercise in the open air and flatter myself that my cough is less severe and that I raise less also. I have spit no blood during this attack as last winter.”
Died March 3 at the age of forty-three. David Whitmer, who was present, said he died “the happiest man I ever saw.” Buried in the “old” Richmond, Missouri, Cemetery.
[p.422]Anderson, Richard Lloyd. Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981.
Gunn, Stanley R. Oliver Cowdery: Second Elder and Scribe. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1962.
History of the Church, 2:379-383, 3:16.
Lang, W. History of Seneca County from the Close of the Revolutionary War to July 1880. Tiffin, Ohio: Transcript Printing Co., 1880.
Larson, A. Karl, and Katharine Miles Larson. The Diary of Charles Lowell Walker. 2 vols. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1980.
[p.423]Quinn, D. Michael. “Echoes and Foreshadowings: The Distinctiveness of the Mormon Community.” Sunstone 3 (March-April 1978):12-17.
_____. “The Mormon Succession Crisis of 1844.” Brigham Young University Studies 16 (Winter 1976):187-233.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Pottawattamie High Council Minutes, 4-5 November 1848.
[p.79]Child of Promise
1895. July 28: Moses Thatcher dedicated the Cowley home in Preston, “That herein might be born prophets, seers, and revelators to honor God.”
1897. August 2: Born in Preston, Idaho, to future Apostle Matthias F. Cowley and Abbie Hyde. In 1922 he married Elva Eleanor Taylor; they had one child and adopted a Maori son.
1914. At the age of seventeen he began a five-year mission to New Zealand, where he learned Maori in three months by studying eleven hours a day.
Soon after his arrival, Cowley was summoned to the bedside of a Maori man suffering from typhoid fever. “All I could do was pray, and I knelt down beside that suffering native, and I prayed to God, and opened up my heart to him; and I believe the channel was open; and then I placed my hands upon that good brother; and with the authority of the priesthood which I as a young boy held, I blessed him to be restored to health.”
Shortly after his mission, he was called by President George Albert Smith to translate the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price into Maori, and to revise the Maori translation of the Book of Mormon.
1925. Graduated from George Washington Law School. As a student he had worked for Senator Reed Smoot on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.
Following graduation, Cowley began practicing law in Salt Lake City. Five years later he became Salt Lake County Attorney.
“Law is a wonderful profession. I never made much [p.80]money at it …. When you are an honest lawyer and you represent criminals, it isn’t long until you have lost all your clients. They are in jail …. They never did pay me. Many of them offered to pay me at times, but with stolen property.”
“Apostle to the South Pacific”
1939. Began a six-year term as mission president in New Zealand. Maoris called him “Tumnaki,” or “great leader.”
On one occasion Cowley was asked to name a fourteen-month-old child and give it a blessing. Matter-of-factly the father added, “‘While you are giving it its name, give it its sight.’ The child was born blind. …
“Well, I was scared. I never had that faith. The thing came to me suddenly like lightning out of the blue. But I went on and blessed the baby with a name. It was the longest blessing I think I have ever given. I was using all the words I could think of and had ever thought of. I was trying to get enough inspiration—enough nerve, if you want to call it that, to bless that child with its vision. I finally did.
“Eight months later I saw the child, and the child saw me. … Never let this simple faith get away from your life, never let it get away from you. It is the most precious thing you have in your life.”
Of healing by the power of the priesthood, Cowley said, “Miracles are evidence of the efficacy of the priesthood of God, to bring his power and blessing to the children of men. Everywhere you go among the people you see the blessing of the sick, making the blind to see, and the deaf to hear. Let us appreciate the priesthood we hold and magnify it so that God will magnify us. He wants us to do his work for him.”
1945. October 5: Called to the Quorum of the Twelve by President George Albert Smith.
1946. Called to preside over the Pacific Islands Mission, consisting of Hawaii, Tonga, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Australia.
[p.81]1947. Reopened the Japanese Mission.
1949. Introduced missionaries into Hong Kong.
To a friend running for political office: “I would rather see you running for the position of janitor of the St. John’s post office on the Republican ticket than for the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Arizona on the Democratic ticket. Repent, brother, repent, before it is too late, and it becomes too well-known that you have temporarily descended to the lowly ranks of the Democratic Party.”
To his parents-in-law, shortly after his marriage: “I had long flattered myself on being one of the few remaining he-men of the present generation, until Christmas morning, when I received among other things, from you know where, a beautiful rubber gown to be worn by men in the very holy of holies of the woman—the kitchen. … Woe is me, the mantle of femininity has fallen on these masculine shoulders!”
Counselor to Alcoholics
Spent much of his life serving in alcoholic rehabilitation programs, counseling alcoholics and their families, and speaking to Alcoholics Anonymous groups.
1953. December 13: While attending the dedication of the Los Angeles Temple, he suffered a massive heart attack and died at the age of fifty-six. Buried in Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Cowley, Matthew. Matthew Cowley Speaks. Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1954.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Abbie Hyde Cowley Journal, 28 July 1895.
Smith, Henry A. Matthew Cowley: Man of Faith. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968.