Monthly Archives: October 2015

Utah War fiction by Susa Young Gates: “John Stevens’ Courtship”

Recently released on PG, John Stevens’ Courtship: A Story of the Echo Canyon War was published in 1909 and written by Susa Young Gates. Gates was the daughter of Brigham Young, wrote nine books, and was an advocate for women’s rights. Her novel is set in Salt Lake City during the years 1857-1858 and follows several young Mormon characters as they deal with the excitement and hardships surrounding the Echo Canyon War—more commonly known today as the Utah War. Although there were no major battles and very few casualties, the war disrupted life in Salt Lake City considerably, particularly in the transfer of governorship from Brigham Young to the non-Mormon Alfred Cumming, the evacuation of the Saints from Salt Lake City and the entrance of the U.S. Army into the Utah territory.

In the preface, Gates states her goal in writing John Stevens’ Courtship: “An avowed purpose of this book is to show that there is plenty of romance and color in every-day life—if the eye be not life-colorblind. . . . The pioneer days were days of beauty and rich emotions. That their memory should be perpetuated is the author’s chief justification for the writing of this book.”

John Stevens’ Courtship offers an interesting glimpse at pioneer life in Salt Lake City during the late 1850s and recounts an important episode in Mormon history from a unique perspective.

Thanks to McKayla Hansen, one of our past MTP interns, for proofing and producing John Stevens’ Courtship and contributing to this blog post. Renah Holmes, one of our volunteers, also deserves thanks for doing the first round of proofreading.

More B. H. Roberts–“The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo” Released

Much of Latter-day Saint History is unintentionally overlooked by the members of the church, often including the Mormon golden era that existed in Nauvoo. B. H. Roberts goes into deep detail about the establishment, flourishing, and fall of Nauvoo in his book The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo, now available on Project Gutenberg. He touches on events that are rarely addressed within the LDS church; describes the political situation at the time, showing why Joseph Smith decided to run for President of the United States; and goes into detail about new doctrines that were revealed in Nauvoo, which are found both within and outside of the Doctrine and Covenants. This book will help anyone more fully understand the splendor of Nauvoo, as well as help put LDS doctrines into perspective.

As this is a religious work, it bears testimony of Joseph Smith’s calling as prophet, seer, revelator, and restorer of Jesus Christ’s true church on the earth. It also bears witness of Christ’s gospel and how it has blessed the lives of thousands in the midst of great trials and sacrifice. Even a casual reading of this book will help strengthen the reader’s testimony of these things and bolster their faith to live up to the high standard laid before them by their religious predecessors.

Thanks to Steven Fluckiger, one of our 2015 interns, for proofreading and producing The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo, as well as contributing to this blog post.

New Release: B. H. Roberts’ “The Missouri Persecutions”

Once upon a time, books had prefaces where the author just said what the book was about and why they wrote it. In that simpler age, B. H. Roberts explained The Missouri Persecutions (now free on PG) as follows:

My chief purpose in publishing this book, and the one which will immediately follow—”The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo”—is to place in the hands of the youth of the Latter-day Saints a full statement of the persecutions endured by the early members of The Church in this last dispensation, in the States of Missouri and Illinois, that they may be made acquainted with the sacrifices which their fathers have made for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. And I indulge the hope that by becoming acquainted with the story of the suffering of the early saints, the faith of the Gospel will become all the more dear to the hearts of their immediate posterity and all the youth of Zion for many generations to come.

I think without depreciating at all any other narrative of these events in our Church literature, I may claim that the story of the Missouri Persecutions in these pages is told more thoroughly than in any other of our present publications. This arises from the fact that this book deals with but a brief period in the history of The Church—from 1830 to 1838—and therefore admits of such a consideration of details as could not possibly be given to that period in any general history of The Church. This detailed treatment of the subject, in the opinion of the author, is justified because of the very important events which the treatise covers, and also for the reason that it is a period of our history which has been very much misrepresented, upon which misrepresentations false accusations are made against The Church and its leaders to this day. Those who have thought themselves called upon to oppose, if not to persecute, The Church in later years, frequently attempt to justify their present opposition by insinuating that The Church was driven from Missouri and Illinois for other reasons than adherence to an unpopular religion. The impression is sought to be created that it was for some overt acts against the State or National government, or for some offense against the spirit of American institutions, or because The Church leaders “were determined to be a law unto themselves,” in disregard of the rights of others.

It is, in part, to correct these false statements, and guard our youth against the influence of such calumnious insinuations, that I tell this story of the Missouri Persecutions; not that the history in these pages is written for the purpose of glozing over the defects in the character of the early members of The Church, or to claim for them absolute freedom from errors in judgment, or actual sinfulness in conduct. I have not written what may be called “argumentative history,” only so far as a statement of the truth may be considered an argument. After these pages are read I feel sure that no one will be able to accuse me of failing to point out the errors of the early members of The Church; indeed, I have been careful to call attention to the complaints which the Lord made against their conduct; the reproofs of his inspired servants; and the repeated warnings sent to them by the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the results of their conduct if there was not a speedy repentance.


So there you go. That brings the number of B. H. Roberts books on Project Gutenberg to 13, with several more in the pipeline. (It also adds one more to the number of book release announcements where I’ve just used the author’s preface, but hopefully no one’s keeping score on that.)

Thanks to past MTP intern Allie Bowen for proofreading and producing The Missouri Persecutions.


A Closer Look at “Treasures in Heaven” (from the Faith-Promoting Series)

Treasures in Heaven, the fifteenth book in the Faith-Promoting Series, paints the portrait of several Europeans who joined the Mormon faith in the early years of the church’s history. (We originally lumped its release in with the announcement of the completion of the Faith-Promoting Series, but it merits some attention in its own right.)

It starts by recounting the story of Niels P. L. Eskildz of Denmark, a man of humble means who offered a life of service to others. Crippled as a child, Niels faced significant hardship but found peace in the teachings of the “Mormons” when he was fourteen years old, though his family originally subscribed to the Lutheran faith. Like many others of the LDS Church at that time in Scandinavia, Niels hoped to join the other members in Utah and spent years saving the funds for the journey. Though great challenges arose, including continued poor health and opposition from acquaintances in Denmark, his faith proved strong. Niels made his way to America where he found further struggles, but immense joy as well, in sacrificing much to help build the Salt Lake Temple.

This compilation also tells the tale of the Swiss woman Carolina Corradi, who joined the Latter-day Saints upon learning of the church’s doctrine of salvation for the dead. She also emigrated to Utah, with little money, no relatives, few acquaintances, and no familiarity with the language. Nevertheless, she trusted that God would aid her as she exercised her faith. Carolina spent days in the temple in a large labor of love, completing work for her deceased ancestors so that they might have salvation. The stories of several other church members who worked in the temple are included as well, and each provides an uplifting example of true charity.

Treasures in Heaven thus offers a poignant look at various individuals who overcame the odds in their devotion to God, sacrificing considerably to aid those around them. It is a humbling and inspiring glimpse into the strength of their faith in God and the great blessings that accompanied it.

Thanks to Margaret Willden, one of our summer 2015 interns, for proofing and producing Treasures in Heaven and contributing to this blog post. 


New Release: “Outlines of Mormon Philosophy” by Lycurgus Wilson

This short 1905 book, now available free on Project Gutenberg, is perhaps best introduced by the author’s original preface:

Every person, whether consciously or not, gradually builds up, from his observations and reason, a system of philosophy by which he explains, to himself at least, the problems that the new experiences of his life present for solution. It is of great importance, therefore, that, instead of basing one’s system of thought upon the contradictory hypotheses of speculative philosophy, we start right, so that our ideas on the questions of life may square with the truth as it is known to the Lord. And these considerations are the excuse for this work.

This work is designed rather for study than for reading. To the hasty, illusioned reader, it will prove a short, dull book; but the studious reader, who can render a thought into experience, will find it a voluminous work, profusely illustrated with pictures such as no painter ever transferred to canvas; for to him, because of the nature of the subject, it will tell the whole beautiful story of life.

The thanks of the author are due, most of all, to the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the helpful criticism of their committee of this work; and, next, to the scores of friends who have given him the benefit of their suggestions.

L. A. W.

Salt Lake Temple,

            Salt Lake City, Utah, 1905

Thanks to Katie Liston, one of our summer 2015 interns, for proofreading and producing this book.


New Release: “One Year in Scandinavia” by Erastus Snow

In this pamphlet Erastus Snow, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, graciously provides us with a few autobiographical insights into his one-year mission in Denmark and Sweden (1849-1850). Recently released as a free e-book on Project Gutenberg, Snow’s private journal entries, letters to and from companions and First Presidency members, and a few lines of original poetry compose this enriching, apostolic account.

Erastus Snow was born in Vermont in 1818. He would eventually join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a boy during the early 1830s. He and Orson Pratt were the first members of the Church to enter the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. At the age of thirty, he was called to serve as an apostle, embarking on his mission to Denmark and Sweden only a few months later.

Though his literature might not be as familiar as some of his contemporaries’, Snow’s twenty-page publication provides us with a valuable outlook on the daily labors of an apostle in this formative chapter in the history of the Church. Curious members and church history enthusiasts will benefit equally from this detailed, heartening narrative from one of our Lord’s valiant servants.

Tyler Garrett, one of our BYU summer interns for 2015, proofread and produced One Year in Scandinavia and contributed to this post.