set in stoneSet in Stone, Fixed in Glass
The Mormons, the West, and Their Photographers
by Nelson B. Wadsworth

on the cover:
Nineteenth-century Mormons believed the Rocky Mountains were the biblical “mountain of the Lord’s house” where, upon completion of the city of God, Jesus Christ would descend to claim his kingdom and begin a thousand-year reign of peace. Wadsworth’s historical photographs document the progress and moods of the frontier city and its people as a temple slowly rose from the valley floor and millennial expectations grew. In the accompanying text, emphasis is given to the passionate, diverse lives of the photographers who, in a sense, represented the larger culture in microcosm and in their own way were path-breaking pioneers, working with light rather  than soil.

“It was an extremely interesting, though turbulent time to be alive. And for the photographers who visually recorded the images with their awkward view cameras, it was a fascinating, panoramic period of history. There were no ‘candid cameras’ in those days because of the very nature of the technology at the photographers’ disposal, yet the pictures they left behind capture the times in a spectacular way.”—the Author

about the author: Nelson B. Wadsworth is a professor of journalism, Utah State University. He is the author of Through Camera Eyes and co-author of The History of the Mormons in Photographs and Text: 1830 to the Present. He lives with his wife Gayle in Logan, Utah.

title page:
Set in Stone, Fixed in Glass
The Mormons, the West, and Their Photographers
Nelson B. Wadsworth
Signature Books
Salt Lake City

copyright page:

Jacket design by Randall Smith Associates
Interior design by Connie Disney

Composed and printed in the United States of America.
Printed on acid free paper.
Cloth bound printings © 1996
By Signature Books, Inc. All rights reserved.

This book was first published in 1992 under the title
Set in Stone, Fixed in Glass: The Great Mormon Temple and Its Photographers.

Signature Books is a registered trademark of Signature Books, Inc.

2000  99  98  97  96     6  5  4  3  2  1

Wadsworth, Nelson B.
Set in stone, fixed in glass : the Mormons, the West, and their photographers / Nelson B. Wadsworth.
p.   cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 1-56085-024-8, cloth
ISBN 1-56085-106-6, paper
1. Salt Lake Temple—Pictorial works. 2. Salt Lake City (Utah)—Buildings, structures, etc.—Pictorial works. I. Title.
NA5235.S23W32  1996
726’.5’09792258—dc20     96-7281


Here’s to you, photographic pioneers,
Who with wood, glass, and chemical impactions
… And God’s gift of light,
Froze decisive moments of history,
Opened our eyes through misty windows of time,
Helped us see through glass more clearly.


[p.viii]Acknowledgements [see below]
Introduction [see below]



[p.ix]The photographs in this book represent thirty years of accumulation, beginning with the rediscovery of the C. W. Carter collection of glass negatives in the early 1960s and culminating in thorough searchers through the collections of the Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Daughters of the Pioneers Museum. These were only a small part of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of public and private photographic collections from which I either made prints using the photographers’ original negatives or facsimile copy negatives and projection prints.

My interest in collecting photographic images of Mormons and Utah began around 1960 when I was working for an advertising agency in Salt Lake City and was assigned to write an illustrated booklet on the Beehive House, home of Brigham Young, which was then in the process of being restored as a tourist attraction. After examining a collection of wet-plate negatives made by pioneer photographer C. W. Carter which had been stored in a dust-covered wooden box, I was astonished at the quality of his images and their ability to survive without fading after such a long period of time. As a photographer myself, I was intrigued not only by the photographs but by the photographer himself and how he had been able to pursue a technically difficult career in the Spartan lifestyle of pioneer Mormon Utah. The end result of this continuous interest has been [p.x]the acquisition of an extensive copy negative and print collection of some 100,000 images, covering the beginning of photography among the Mormons through the Utah photographers of the 1930s and 1940s.

I have decided not to index the photographs appearing in Set in Stone, Fixed in Glass. In the early years of collecting I did not always record the source of the photograph I was copying and consequently cannot say definitely where many of them came from. But I would like to acknowledge individuals who were particularly helpful to me over the last thirty years, not just in the finding and preserving photographs but in fleshing out the colorful details of the photographers’ lives.

The biggest frustration I faced in researching, writing, and editing this work was knowing that the economics of publishing did not permit me to use everything I discovered and that some photographers I came to know and respect had to be left out. I would like to acknowledge the families of these photographers—such as Albert Wilkes, George Beard, and Heber Thomas—and promise them that eventually their ancestors will receive their due credit for the contributions they made to Utah photography.

I also had to confine discussion of Elfie Huntington and Joseph Bagley to the chapter on George Edward Anderson, their mentor. I acknowledge the assistance of Cary Stevens Jones, who provided much of the research on Huntington and Bagley and encourage her in her continuing work on Utah’s only female photographer at the turn of the century.

I would like to thank other people who were particularly helpful. Evelyn Crockwell of Alameda, California, became just as I did in finding the autobiography of James H. Crockwell. Although it took her nearly a year, she was able to find it and get in into my hands just in time for the chapter on Crockwell. Jennifer Lund and Patricia Baker kindly supplied details on the life of C. W. Carter. Scott Christensen and Ronald O. barney at LDS archives spent long hours with me in digging up photographs taken by many of the photographers who documented construction of the Salt Lake temple. Edith Menna and [p.xi]other volunteers at the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum graciously helped to find many of the rare images from their holdings used in this work. Dennis Rowley and Billie Plunkett, at the archives of Brigham Young University, and A. J. Simmonds, Brad Cole, Ann Buttars, and Peter Schmid, at the archives of Utah State University, offered helpful suggestions in locating images. The late Eva Noyes, Edda Brandley, and Lowry Anderson, children of George Edward Anderson, provided details of their father’s life. Mr. Avard Fairbanks opened the door to the life of her uncle, Charles Ellis Johnson. Reed Johnson preserved nearly 2,000 glass negatives of his uncle and donated them to BYU archives. Robert Shipler shared the photographs and life story of his father and grandfather, J. W. and Harry Shipler. Robert Davis at the LDS Museum of History and Art offered technical advice. The late Elizabeth Winters, daughter of John F. Bennett, allowed me to photocopy her father’s scrapbook which included many of Ralph Savage’s interior vies of the Salt Lake temple. The late Mary Ann Clark Sharp provided C. R. Savage’s photo albums and scrapbook. Drucilla Powell Smith preserved George Edward Anderson’s negative collection. Mrs. Phillip Rogdon allowed me to photocopy James Crokwell’s Park City album of photographs. Katheryn Totten, at the University of Nevada-Reno Special Collections, and Eric Moody, at the Nevada Historical Society, located Crockwell’s views of Virginia City. Finally, my wife, Gayle, cheerfully allowed me to turn the basement of our house into a veritable archive of Mormon photographica.

Set in Stone, Fixed in Glass begins with one of the most important events in frontier Utah, the dedication of the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City in 1892 after forty years of construction. From there it retraces the lives and contributions of some of the West’s most significant early photographers, men (and one woman) whose craft and artistry continue to inform, delight, and inspire.

[p.xii] 1. Between 30,000 and 50,000 people gather on the Temple Block in 1892 to "Shout Hosanna!" and participate in laying the capstone on the "House of the Lord," which took forty years to build. This photograph was taken by Charles Ellis Johnson, one of many photographers on hand for the celebration.


[p.1]Crowds began gathering on Temple Square in Temple Square in Salt Lake City early on Wednesday morning, 6 April 1892. This was the fourth day of the 62nd annual general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and would mark the laying of the capstone for the granite temple whose cornerstone had been laid exactly thirty-nine years earlier.

Tabernacle filled early as did the grounds of the temple and soon the surrounding streets. A platform decorated in red, white, and blue stood at the southwestern corner of the temple, and two huge American flags were suspended from wires stretched from the ground to a window on the third floor of the temple. In the background the towers of the temple were shrouded by intricate frameworks of scaffolding. Extra timbering surrounded the tallest spire on the east side of the temple, whose granite peak was topped by the beams of an A-frame-shaped derrick.

A few adventuresome spectators climbed the telephone poles which lined Main Street. Others swarmed over the rooftops of the buildings adjoining the ten-acre block. A dozen or so were sitting on the old Deseret News/Tithing Building at the corner of Main and South Temple.2. Statue of the angel Moroni 3. Spectators view the capstone-laying ceremonies atop the Deseret Tithing Office Building at the corner of East Temple and South Temple Streets. The photographer is C. L. Joy.“Before the services,” wrote James H. Anderson in The Contributor, “the streets leading to the Temple Block were lined with people, and at the commencing hour, 40,000 persons were [p.3]gathered within the enclosure, while fully 10,000 more, unable to gain admission, occupied the tops of adjoining houses and other places from which a view could be obtained. The assemblage was the largest that ever has congregated in Utah, and for impressiveness and enthusiasm the proceedings never had been excelled in the history of the Saints.”1

[p.3] 4. Wilford Woodruff, fourth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

[p.3] 5. Photograph taken by Charles Ellis Johnson or his partner, Hyrum Sainsbury, supposedly "made the instant the stone settled into position."Those who had managed to secure seats inside the Tabernacle listened to President of the Council of the Twelve Apostles Lorenzo Snow instruct the audience in giving “the Hosanna Shout,” which was to be rendered outside when the capstone was laid. Of church authorities present that day, only Snow, Franklin D. Richards, and Wilford Woodruff, president of the LDS church, had been present at the cornerstone ceremony thirty-nine years before.2

[p.4] 6. Names of LDS leaders at both the cornerstone-laying and capstone-laying are engraved on this copper plate deposited in the capstone in 1892. The picture was taken before J. Golden Kimball was appointed, and his name was later added.

[p.5] 7. A portion of "the multitude" at the capstone-laying ceremony, photographed by Charles Ellis Johnson from a platform on the uppermost tower where the final stone was to be dropped into place.

Snow reminded those assembled that the words of the shout had been introduced by [p.6]the prophet Joseph Smith in 1836 at a solemn assembly at the Kirtland, Ohio, temple “where the power of God was manifested and the vision of the Almighty was opened up to the brethren.”

8. Marsena Cannon“This is no ordinary order,” Snow continued, “but is—and we wish it to be distinctly understood—a sacred shout, and employed only on extraordinary occasions like the one now before us. We wish it also to be understood that we want the brethren and sisters not only to express the words, but that their hearts shall be full of thanksgiving to the God of heaven, who has accomplished through our agency, this mighty and extraordinary labor.” After going over the words of the shout, Snow concluded, “Now when we go before this Temple and this shout goes forth, we want every man and every woman to shout these words to the very extent of their voices, so that every house in this city may tremble, the people in every portion of this city may hear it and it may reach to the eternal worlds.”3

President Woodruff was the final speaker in the Tabernacle. He admonished members to contribute generously toward finishing the interior of the edifice so that it could be dedicated to God the following April. He concluded, “If there is any scene on the face of this earth that will attract the attention of the God of heaven and heavenly host, it is the one before us today—the assembling of this people, the shout of ‘Hosanna’ and the laying of the top stone of this Temple in honor to our God.”

Finally Woodruff with his counselors George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith led a procession of church leaders and officials out of the building and toward the red, white, and blue stand near the corner of the temple. Next to the main stand for church authorities and local officials was a second stand for the Tabernacle Choir and a third for Held’s Band, which played the processional march and provided music for the program. The choir sang “The Temple Anthem” and another hymn, both composed especially for the capstone ceremony. Then President Cannon stood and exhibited to the audience a polished brass plate engraved with the names of church authorities attending the 1853 [p.7]cornerstone ceremony and the current 1892 capstone ceremony.

9. Charles Roscoe Savage10. Charles William CarterThis plate and a number of other artifacts about the church and temple were laid in a box under the capstone. According to the Deseret News, Cannon listed the following contents: the brass plate engraved by David McKenzie, “a Book of Mormon, Book of Doctrine and Covenants, Voice of Warning, Spencer’s Letters, Key to Theology, Hymn Book, Bible, Compendium, Pearl of Great Price, and some other books; also ‘photographs’ of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, and a photograph of the Salt Lake Temple as it now stands, etc.”4

The capstone laying ceremony took place as the clock struck noon. Woodruff stood before the huge crowd and cried: “Attention all ye house of Israel, and all ye nations of the earth. We will now lay the top stone of the Temple of our God, the foundation of which was laid and dedicated by the Prophet, Seer [p.8]and Revelator, Brigham Young.” The capstone had been attached to a chain hoist and rigged with electrical current. When Woodruff pressed a button, the stone lowered a few inches into its final position, sealing the artifacts into their permanent capsule and marking the completion of the granite stone work on the sacred building.

11. Charles William Symons12. George Edward AndersonLorenzo Snow then stepped forward and led 50,000 people in the Hosanna Shout which was repeated three times: “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! To God and the Lamb. Amen. Amen. Amen.”5 Each shout was accompanied by waving white handkerchiefs. “The ground seemed to tremble with the volume of sound which sent forth its echoes to the surrounding hills,” Anderson wrote in The Contributor. “A grander or more imposing spectacle than this ceremony of laying the Temple capstone is not recorded in history.”

[p.9] 13. James H. Crockwell

[p.9] 14. Charles Ellis Johnson








“It is a day long to be remembered,” James Talmage wrote in his diary. “With [p.9]ceremonies deeply impressive, the capstone of that mighty edifice was laid. The act of laying the stone was performed by President Woodruff, through the agency of electricity—the stone being suspended above its place, a catch was released, and the topmost stone of the Temple fell into position … and when the shout ‘Hosanna!’ went forth, its reverberations were deafning.”6

As the sounds of the shout subsided, the crowd began singing “The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning,” a hymn written by William W. Phelps and sung at the dedication of the Kirtland temple nearly sixty years earlier. Finally Woodruff rose and reiterated his wish to see the temple dedicated. “It was the feeling of the brethren that an effort should be made to accomplish that work,” he told the crowd. “Next April it will be just 40 years from the time of the laying of the cornerstones of this Temple, and I have a resolution to offer to assembled Israel today … ” Apostle Francis M. Lyman read the resolution, which asked those present to “pledge themselves collectively and individually, to furnish, as fast as it may be needed, all the money that may be required to complete the [p.10]Temple at the earliest time possible, so that the dedication may take place on April 6, 1893.”7 The apostle called for a vote, thousands of arms were raised, and Lyman declared the voting unanimous.

[p.10] 15. James W. Shipler

[p.10] 16. Harry ShiplerThe benediction was offered by George Q. Cannon, and the crowd began to disperse. Many lingered to watch the gilded figure of the Angel Moroni hoisted to the tallest spire and lowered into its place at the crest of the capstone. The twelve-and-a-half-foot statue had been created by sculptor Cyrus Dallin, built out of hammered copper by W. H. Mullens & Company of Salem, Ohio, and covered with gold leaf. Dallin’s design with the graceful angel in robe and cap, trumpet in hand, was a radical departure from the in-flight, weather-vane angels of the Nauvoo and Kirtland temples and also from Dallin’s earlier designs.

Among those singing with the Tabernacle Cjoir that day was Charles Roscoe Savage, a well-known Salt Lake City photographer. “The Conference which began on the 3rd and closed with the placing of the Capstone on the Temple was one of the best of any that I have attended,” he wrote in his diary. “The [p.11]teachings were forcible and dealt with the vital interests of the Church. The most important was the placing by electricity of the top stone under the Angel Moroni—designed by Mr. Dallin. Electric incandescent lamps surround the finials or golden-pointed terminals to each of the gothic pinnacles. The assembly was greater than any one witnessed before in our city. The estimate was that 30,000 persons were on and around the block. When the great Song the Spirit of God was sung by the united audience a feeling different thrilled through me from any one ever experienced. The Hosanna Shout was something long to be remembered. And one I never expect to hear again during my life.”8

Singing in the choir, Savage had not personally photographed pictures of the ceremonies, but assistants were on hand and probably one of his sons who worked at the Savage Art Bazar and Photographic Gallery on Main Street not far from the temple block. Savage was not the only artist interested in this historic event. Lining the rooftops of the south and east, numerous photographers worked behind wooden tripods and beneath black focusing cloths, squinting into the ground glass backs of their huge view cameras, rattling film holders, pulling slides, operating shutters, and capturing that epochal moment. Some of them would make pictures at one spot and then move, capturing a different vantage of the large crowd.

Others of Utah’s photographers present included Charles Ellis Johnson, Charles William Carter, Charles William Symons, James W. Shipler, his son Harry, and George Edward Anderson. There were also several assistants, including Savage’s son, Ralph, and Anderson’s brothers, J. Stanley and Adam. All of them had financial as well as artistic interest in the event. Each was anticipating brisk sales from the mounted albumen or bromide prints he would make for souvenir-conscious customers.

[p.12] 17. A mantle of snow covers the Salt Lake Mormon Temple in the 1890s. The photo was taken by C. R. Savage not long after the temple was dedicated and after its grounds were landscaped and planted in trees.

One contemporary Utah photographer notable for his absence was James H. Crockwell. He was in Juab County putting together what he hoped would be a profitable album of photographs of the Tintic Mining District. Another absent [p.13]photographer was eighty-year-old Marsena Cannon, who by the 1890s had left the Latter-day Saint church and was living in California with his daughter. Cannon had been one of Utah’s first photographers, documenting many of the beginning events associated with the building of the grand temple in Salt Lake City. Cannon has exerted an indirect influence on many of those who gathered for the capstone ceremony. All of these photographers were artistic pioneers; their contributions and dedication were as monumental as that of their trail-blazing peers. They would collectively expend and transform photography in the West through the turn of the century. This book honors them and their subjects—the Mormons and the West.


1. James H. Anderson, “The Salt Lake Temple, Contributor 14 (Apr. 1893):271.

2. Ibid., 272.

3. Deseret News, 6 Apr. 1892, 4.

4. Ibid., 8. George Q. Cannon told the audience “photographs” of Joseph and Hyrum Smith would be deposited in the box beneath the capstone, but it is doubtful these were actual photographic images. What probably went into the box were gold-toned, albumen or bromide photographic prints of copies of paintings or engravings of Hyrum and Joseph.

5. Deseret News, 6 Apr. 1892, 8. The News gives a detailed description of the entire ceremonies, including the layout of the platforms, verbatim comments of the speakers and participants, and words of the songs.

6. James E. Talmage, Diary, 6 Apr. 1892, Archives and Manuscripts, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

7. Anderson, “The Salt Lake Temple,” 274.

8. C. R. Savage, Diary, 3 Apr. 1892, Archives and Manuscripts, Lee Library. Savage estimated that 30,000 attended, The Contributor estimated 40,000, and Wilford Woodruff thought 50,000 participated.