Tag Archives | Mormon

“No Purse or Scrip: Analysis of Three Accommodations in Asia for a Working Class Mormon Missionary in the 1850s”

For the Mormon History Association conference, I will be on the “Mormons in the Pacific and Asia” panel on Saturday from 2:00-3:30pm.

Here is my paper title and abstract:

“No Purse or Scrip: Analysis of Three Accommodations in Asia for a Working Class Mormon Missionary in the 1850s”

This presentation will compare working class and middle to upper class missionaries and how they fared with “no purse or scrip” in Asia. We’ll analyze their living conditions and the money they earned from different sources. I’ll be looking at how language patterns, socio-economic status, expectations, etc impacted these experiences.


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11 Things I’ve learned from Luddington

Here are 11 things I’ve learned while writing this book about Elam Luddington’s mission to Siam:

1  Nephi has been to Southeast Asia.


2  Nauvoo is land that Luddington’s relatives sold to Joseph Smith.


3  Another man turned down the mission call to Siam before Luddington was called.


4  New Haven is a dangerous city.


5  Queen Victoria started the trend in the English speaking world to have Christmas trees in the early 1800s.


6  Burmese also practiced polygamy.


7  Thailand/Siam didn’t allow foreigners to enter it’s borders for over 100 years before Luddington arrived.


8  The emperor in China during the Opium Wars was a foreigner himself.


9  Mormon pioneers enjoyed Sweet Pickle and Pinto Bean pies.


10  Reefing the Sails is a death wish for mariners in the 1800s.


11  In 160 years Barren Island only erupted once in recorded history and the Mormon missionaries witnessed it in 1853.

Here is a video from the Neal A Maxwell Institute. In minute 1:15 (towards the end) is the discussion of Nephi (and Lehi and the family) in Southeast Asia. JoAnn Seely (in the video) is my aunt.  (http://youtu.be/i_M_Faw_s3s)

Here is an image of the Christmas tree of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The German Prince Albert and other Germans brought the Christmas tree to England but it was Queen Victoria who adopted it and started the trend in the English speaking world for Christmas trees.

Prince Albert-Christmas Tree

Here is a drawing of seamen reefing the sails.

Reefing the Sails


[Update 1/21: Barren Island may well have erupted other times but was not recorded.  The next interesting research question is why it was not recorded.]

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MHA 2014 Paper Proposal

I submitted a proposal for the 2014 Mormon History Association conference in San Antonio next June 2014.  I decided to head in late in the game so I don’t have a panel set up but I hope they will accept the proposal.

No Purse or Scrip: Analysis of 3 Accommodations in Asia for a Working Class Mormon Missionary in the 1850s.

I’m planning to compare and contrast Elam Luddington’s experiences with ‘no purse or scrip’ in different countries and conditions in Asia. I will also compare his experiences to a upper middle class ‘no purse or scrip’ missionary in China, Hosea Stout.

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Some did Not Return: 10 Missionaries P3

Some didn’t return home from their missions.  Check these ten missionaries out.


Thomas Jeremy.  Mission: Wales.  DOB: 1815.  Age in 1852: 37.  From: Wales.  DOD: 1891.  Fellow missionary Dan Jones baptized his family.


Dan Daniels.  Mission: Wales.  DOB: 1807.  Age in 1852: 45.  From: Wales.  DOD: 1879.  Fellow missionary Dan Jones helped him emigrate to Utah.


Andrew Lamoreaux.  Mission: France.  DOB: 1813.  Age in 1852: 39.  From: Canada.  DOD: 1855.  Died on his return from his mission in St. Louis.


George Mayer.  Mission: Germany.  DOB: 1805.  Age in 1852: 47.  From: ??.  DOD: 1896.  Imprisoned and expelled for preaching in Germany.


Jacob Secrist.  Mission: Germany.  DOB: ??.  Age in 1852: ??.  From: Illinois??.  DOD: 1855.  Wife was pregnant when called to a mission.  Also imprisoned and expelled for preaching in Germany.  Died while leading a pioneer group to Utah on the way home from Germany.


George C Riser.  Mission: Germany.  DOB: 1818.  Age in 1852: 34.  From: Germany.  DOD: 1892.  President of German mission.  Arrested and imprisoned for preaching the gospel.


Orson Spencer.  Mission: Capital of Prussia.  DOB: 1802.  Age in 1852: 50.  From: Massachusetts.  DOD: 1855.  Daniel Spencer is his brother.  Former Baptist preacher.  Head of the University of Nauvoo.  1843 mission to New Haven, CT.  President of the British mission 1847-1848.  Editor of the Millennial Star.  Assistant editor of the Deseret News.  Chancellor of the University of Deseret 1850.  After a week in Berlin police forced him to leave.  Died on a mission to Cherokee Nation from malaria.


Jacob Houtz.  Mission: Capital of Prussia.  DOB: 1814.  Age in 1852: 38.  From: Pennsylvania.  DOD: 1896.  Farmer.


Moses Clough.  Mission: Capital of Prussia.  DOB: 1828.  Age in 1852: 24.  From: New Hampshire.  DOD: 1903.  


Eric G M Hogan.  Mission: Norway.  DOB: 1802.  Age in 1852: 50.  From: Norway.  DOD: 1876.  Originally emigrated to Illinois to improve his financial situation then became a Mormon later.  

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Death, Births, & The War of 1812: 10 Missionaries P2

Death, Births, & The War of 1812.  Here are ten more missionaries called to serve in 1852 and their back stories.  Please feel free to comment and correct information.  I will continue to update.


Benjamin Brown.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1794.  Age in 1852: 58.  From: New York.  DOD: 1878.  Father belonged to Society of the Friends of Quakers.


Perregrine Sessions.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1814.  Age in 1852: 38.  From: Maine.  DOD: 1893.  Mother was a midwife at 3,977 births.  Future founder of the Utah city of Bountiful.


James Pace.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1811.  Age in 1852: 41.  From: Tennessee.  DOD: 1888.  Father served with General Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812.


Levi Nickerson.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1814.  Age in 1852: 38.  From: Pennsylvania.  DOD: 1853.  Died in Council Bluffs, Iowa on his way to serve his mission.


William Woodward.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1833.  Age in 1852: 19.  From: England.  DOD: 1908.  Arrived from England in 1850.  Was part of the Willie Handcart Company.  


James G Willie.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1814.  Age in 1852: 38.  From: England.  DOD: 1895.  Led the Willie Handcart company.


Daniel D McArthur.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1820.  Age in 1852: 32.  From: New York.  DOD: 1908.  Daughter born the day he was called on a mission.  Led the company just ahead of the Willie and Martin handcart companies.


William Empy.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1808.  Age in 1852: 44.  From: ??.  DOD: ??.  Emigration agent??.


Elias Gardner.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1807.  Age in 1852: 45.  From: New York.  DOD: 1891.  One of his wives was pregnant when he received the call.


Dan Jones.  Mission: Wales.  DOB: 1810.  Age in 1852: 42.  From: Wales.  DOD: 1862.  Jones was with Joseph Smith at Carthage jail.  He missed the martyrdom when he left on June 27 to deliver a letter.  Before he died, Joseph Smith told Dan Jones that he would return to Wales to serve a mission.  He had great success and baptized thousands.  1852 was his second mission to Wales. 

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Ten 1852 Missionaries: P1

Ten 1852 Missionaries and their Backgrounds

The clerk called 107 names to serve serve missions at the August 28, 1852 special conference in Salt Lake City.  I created a database with their names, where they were called, date of birth, where they were born, date of death, and facts that caught my eye.

As I get confirmations for these elders, I will add it to the post.  Please feel free to add information and primary documentation as you have it.

Daniel Spencer.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1794.  Age in 1852: 58.  From: Massachusetts.  DOD: 1868.  Last mayor of Nauvoo.

Charles A Harper .  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1817.  Age in 1852: 35. From: Pennsylvania.  DOD: 1900.  Grew up Quaker.

John Van Cott.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1814.  Age in 1852: 38. From: New York?? (need to verify).  DOD: 1903.  Cousin of Parley P Pratt.

David Grant.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1816.  Age in 1852: 36.  From: Scotland.  DOD: 1868.  Wife died trying to reach Utah.

Edward Martin.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1818.  Age in 1852: 34.  From: England.  DOD: 1882.  Led the Martin Handcart Company.

John S Fulmer.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1807.  Age in 1852: 45.  From: Pennsylvania.  DOD: 1883.  Inclined as a Baptist in his youth, with the Prophet Joseph Smith in Carthage Jail.

John Oakley.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1819.  Age in 1852: 33.  From: New York.  DOD: ??.  Wife would divorce him upon his return.

William Clayton. Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1814.  Age in 1852: 38.  From: England.  DOD: 1879.  Penned the words to “Come Come Ye Saints” (popular Mormon pioneer song).

William Pitt.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1814.  Age in 1852: 39.  From: England.  DOD: 1873.  Directed the Nauvoo brass band.

Thomas W Treat.  Mission: Europe-England.  DOB: 1811.  Age in 1852: 41.  From: New York.  DOD: 1860.  Grew up Quaker.

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Top 5 at MHA & Recent Publications

Top 5 at the Mormon History Association Conference (MHA) in Layton, Utah June 6-9, 2013:

<p>1Networking with so many intriguing Mormon history scholars asking questions. Writers and researchers are an inquisitive bunch. You couldn’t stand still without people posing new questions and others striking down myths. Very interesting. <p>2The Mormon/Asian history panels. These people gave me a sense for where Asian-Mormon history is, where it has been in the past, and where it could go in the future. I got new ideas for how to approach the story of Elam Luddington. <p>3Mormon Women’s History Initiative. There were so many interesting women historians who knew details that added depth to all the presentations. During the women’s initiative breakfast they read out our projects. Most of the writers/researchers are writing about women. When they read my name and that I was writing about Elam Luddington, a man, the woman paused looked up and said something like, it would be nice to have more women in our historical record. Or maybe that’s the feeling I got from her comments. I heartily agree that we should write about more women. However, I am interested in writing about a man. I think that women can write about men and bring new insights. <p>4Meeting Lanier Britsch. Lanny is the man who laid the foundation for Mormon history in Asia and the Pacific islands writing From the East: The History of the Latter-day Saints in Asia, 1851-1996 and Nothing More Heroic: The Compelling Story of the First Latter-day Saint Missionaries in India. He knew my grandpa, George Horton and had a similar warm and bright personality. <p>5Getting the inside story on authors’ book projects. I love watching authors work. When they’re in the middle of a book project, they are passionate, inquisitive, and completely enveloped in their subject matter. One of my favorite things to do is hear how they are making decisions; where to focus, how to approach, what details and why.MHA Conference2

Other highlights from the research trip:

Meeting Associate Professor Michael Goodman of Religious Education at Brigham Young University, former mission president in Thailand and former missionary to Thailand. He is the most recently published author on Elam Luddington in the book, Go Ye into All the World: The Growth & Development of Mormon Missionary Work. He’s done a wonderful job of putting together evidence from Luddington’s life and bringing it to a wider audience. I am honored to be able to work with him.

Finding a letter from Elam Luddington’s wife in the Church History Archives. The letter to Brigham Young points to her poverty while Luddington was on his mission.

Sitting for a few minutes near Elam Luddington’s burial plot in the Salt Lake City cemetery. It gave me a chance to reflect on all the information I had gathered up until then and try to get a sense of him.

Publications after the conference:

People I met at the conference gave me the opportunity to publish twice since I returned home from the trip on their websites:

“From Siamese Prison to Mormon Memory”   June 28, 2013

“The Broken History”   July 15, 2013

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Q&A with the Author

I was recently honored with an opportunity to guest post for the Juvenile Instructor.  For the full transcript of the post click here: “From Siamese Prison to Mormon Memory”.

People asked great questions that further developed my thoughts on the book’s trajectory and purpose.  Here are a few of the Q&A from the post.

Q  How long was Captain Trail in jail? Did he ever emigrate to the U.S? Utah?  Comment by Helen — June 28, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

A  Captain Trail was in prison roughly 2 1/2 months or 71 days. Here is the rest of the quote for those who are interested.  Paraphrasing the first part, The King confined bro. T. 71 days in a Siamese prison…”There grones while under the torture drew tears from the eyes of bro Trail he canciled several debts & set them at liberty only 10 soles came out alive, the King never feeds his prisoners if they hav no friends to feed them they starve to death…”

Did Captain Trail emigrate to US/Utah?

This is a great question. Luddington himself doesn’t mention Trail emigrating and may have lost contact with him. I checked both the “Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel” and “Mormon Migration” databases and didn’t find Trail. If someone else knows something about it, please let me know.

What I think is also interesting is that if we only focus on the fact Luddington’s only convert was thrust in a Siamese prison, we might miss the powerful impact that experience might have had on Luddington’s perceptions of the King and Siam as a whole. What does that tell us about the Siamese? What does it say that 40 people died in that prison during those 2 1/2 months? I presume that many if not all 40 of those people were native Siamese. Do we have many stories of Westerners in prison in Siam?

Does this story help us get a more nuanced angle on what was happening in Siam in the mid 1800s? Western reports of Siam during this period were often positive or dismissive. This story shows the power of the King in a very intimate way.

Comment by Audrey Bastian — June 28, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

Another quick note: I think this story also demonstrates the power of the King in Siam in 1854. He was protecting his people from Western intrusion.

Comment by Audrey Bastian — June 28, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

Comment  Your points about paying attention to the “abysmal” baptism records are important. I feel too often we interpret signs of success (such as with high baptism numbers in certain regions) as being a marker of change whereas low or high baptism rates do reveal a lot about interactions between cultures.

I am also interested in learning about Elam Luddington’s missionary experience comparison of to others understandings of the missionary experience in the 19th century.

Comment by NatalieR — June 28, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

Q  When is the book going to be published? Or where is it in process?  Comment by Brig — June 28, 2013 @ 11:33 pm

A  Brig,  As to your question: Where is the book in progress?

The foundational research is mostly done. The first chapter is almost complete and the second chapter is well under way. There is an outline for the entire book already. A professional published narrative non-fiction writer critiqued it twice here in Washington DC. A published fiction writer also critiqued it here as well. I currently receive weekly feedback from another writer. Others are giving me feedback where they have expertise.

A note about narrative non-fiction:

Narrative non-fiction is lots of fun. Not a quote or an adjective can be fiction but it needs to read somewhat like fiction. Using fiction techniques to arrange a non-fiction piece can be tricky. Sometimes it takes me a week or more to write a sentence because not only do I need to know what happened, I need to know what it looked like, smelled like, sounded like, etc.

The process is a bit slow but very interesting. I hope to get lots of feedback as I go along from the experts in their fields related to my project. As you may notice, my website is full of reports on the narrative research that I am doing along with the scholarly. For example I recently wrote a post about how much time it took to go from Elam’s ward to the tabernacle. We actually walked and clocked it so that it would be an accurate narrative account rather a guess.

I appreciate this opportunity to write a piece on this blog.

Comment by Audrey Bastian — June 29, 2013 @ 9:28 am

Q  Very interesting piece. It’s clear that you are looking at the topic from many different angles! I’m curious about your outline — how many chapters are focused on Luddington’s observations as a window into Siam/Asia vs. how many are focused more on Mormonism and how it was being spread to other countries? I look forward to reading more!

Comment by llcall — June 29, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

A  llcall, I appreciate this question and it is a difficult question to answer. If I am reading your question correctly, it seems you are interested in knowing what the overall thesis or direction the book is taking at this point. And really there are two sides of this as you point out. The book could be more focused on Asian history and using Luddington’s story as a window into those dynamics. Or the book could focus more on the Mormon aspect of being in Asia as a missionary.

Although I am Mormon, my life focus and educational background has been in Asian history including speaking the languages, living and working there, or with Asians here in the United States. This is a new angle for me to come back into my own Mormon history and tackle a story that is a mixture of both.

The ultimate goal for me is to tell a powerful story of a man who goes on a quest and then believes he has failed. His people even think he has failed. But I want to use the years of training, language, and living in Asia to squeeze out every detail possible about the people he met and give them life and a voice. Just looking at Elam Luddington’s journal isn’t enough I believe. We have to know the dynamics of what was happening in those countries well enough to understand that his descriptions are only the very first blush of what he actually witnessed.

The interplay between what he thought he saw and what he actually saw is for me, breathtaking.

My goal is to show that interplay well. If people then read lessons into the story, it will be there own. I want to tell the story as honestly as I can.

There are some great pieces, though, that are telling the story of Mormon missionaries’ affect on the countries to which they proselyte. A new piece came out about New Zealand that won an award at the MHA conference. I think those points are also very interesting to take into account.

Comment by Audrey Bastian — June 29, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

To see all comments please refer to the article here: “From Siamese Prison to Mormon Memory”





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The Book of Mormon & Southeast Asia

What do Southeast Asia, the mission to Siam in 1852, and the Book of Mormon all have in common?  

The main family of the Book of Mormon, Lehi, Sariah, and sons traveled east through Southeast Asia after their departure from Jerusalem on ships.  So did Elam Luddington, our Mormon missionary in 1852.  Take a look at this video clip produced by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.

Did they stop on their way [through Southeast Asia]? Surely.

  John L. Sorenson, Anthropology

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Special Conference IV: A lot of Horses

Special Conference, Great Salt Lake, Utah, USA August 28-29, 1852

Mostly poor mariners, farmers, and tradesmen, Mormons gathered to the territory of the Great Salt Lake, Utah beginning in 1847 as refugees leaving the states of Illinois and Missouri.  Many suddenly became missionaries at this conference.  What did it look like?

About 2,000 elders and a few women attended


A lot of horses?  How many of those elders walked?  Does that mean the 2,000 men parked 2,000 horses and/or carriages outside?  Did they ride together?  Let’s imagine then that 3/4 of the men walked or road with someone else, that would mean approximately 300-500 horses and/or carriages needed a space.  I imagine it like a sporting event.  Horses crowding the tabernacle and horses left at friends’ homes.

Update (6/17/2013): I walked the distance from Elam’s city ward (12th ward Great Salt Lake) to where the tabernacle was located (located where the Assembly Hall is currently standing).  It took me 13:22 minutes.  From that information I believe that more people may have walked than I previously thought although we estimated very conservatively above saying that 3/4 walked and only 1/4 rode horses.   Even if we estimated closer to 300 horses for those coming from out of the immediate area, that would still be quite a lot of horses.

Who scooped up the droppings?


Smelling the Poop

Where do we get the number “2,000 elders and a few women”?  The approximate number 2,000 is from Reid Neilson, LDS Church History Department, in his talk “Errand to the World: 1852 Mormon Missionary Conference”.  “A few women” came from a conversation I had on the phone with some Church History professors at Brigham Young University.  If anyone has an original source for this information, please comment.

[Update: 3/23/13 – I found the original source for the ‘2,000’ figure.  It comes from the Minutes of the Special Conference of Aug 28, 1852 which is already cited below.  Page 1 states the names of all present including, “about two thousand elders.”  A passage on page 2 reads: “[A literal forest of hands was the result of this call, and the spacious hall trembled when a symultaneous aye burst from the mouths of over 2,000 persons.]”]


It is likely a few women did attend.  According to the Deseret News on August 21st an announcement read,

The Ladies department of the Council will meet at the Tabernacle, the 28th inst., 1 p.m., when Ladies of all ages, who desire information relative to restoring and preserving life and health are invited to attend.

Some of the women attending this meeting may have stayed for the next meeting in the Tabernacle at 2pm.  The topic of the August 29th meeting must also have drawn female attention.  The Church officially announced plural marriage as doctrine.


Did the elders all fit in the building?  What did the crowd look like?  According to the minutes and journals 2,500 people attended the previous April conference.  People filled every seat and stood in the aisles.  Some did not make it into the building.  In August with 500 less people in attendance, they may all have fit into the building.  Some of them still may have stood in the aisles, however.


Space for Women?  Remember that women’s skirts generally took up larger floor space than men.  For every woman in attendance, they likely took up the same amount of space as 1.5-2 men.


Children?  Remember that the public notice specifically called for elders to attend.  Therefore we’re not sure how many women attended.  I haven’t found information as to whether children then attended but I am inclined to say they didn’t unless they played outside or were carried in a mother’s arms.  Victorian England still carried a children ‘seen not heard’ philosophy in the English speaking world.


To find out a bit about the building they met in see Special Conference III: Called without Warning.


Source: Grow, Stewart L. “Buildings on the Temple Block Preceding the Tabernacle” in The Tabernacle: “An Old and Wonderful Friend,” ed. Scott C. Esplin (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2007), 107-136. Accessed at: http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/tabernacle-old-and-wonderful-friend/thesis/3-buildings-temple-block-preceding-tabernacle on 6 March 2013.
Source: Jensen, Emily W. “An ‘Errand to the World’: the historic 1852 missionary conference”. Deseret News, July 2, 2012. Accessed at: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865558423/An-Errand-to-the-World-the-historic-1852-missionary-conference.html?pg=all on 3/9/2013
Source: Deseret News. Vol 2. Saturday, August 21, 1852, No. 21 Pg 3 Digitized by Utah Digital Newspapers. Accessed at: http://udn.lib.utah.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/deseretnews1/id/171189/rec/17 on 3/9/2013
Source: Deseret News, –Extra. Great Salt Lake City, U.T., September 14, 1852. pg 10. Digitized by the Internet Archive. “Minutes of conference a special conference of the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, assembled in the…” Accessed at: http://archive.org/stream/minutesofconfere04unse#page/n1/mode/2up on 3/9/2013.
Source: Bushman, Richard Lyman. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. Vintage, 2007.
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