The LDS Church in Nineteenth Century Brigham City
From Brigham City History Project
Early Church Organization
Lorin Farr was serving as the President of the Weber Stake when the new settlements at Box Elder Creek (Brigham), and Willow Creek (Willard) were initially established. On April 30, 1852, he visited the Saints in Box Elder and ordained William Davis as bishop of Box Elder Ward. On this same visit, President Farr also organized the North Willow Creek Ward, with Charles W. Hubbard as bishop, Jonathan Wells as lst counselor and Dwight Harding as 2nd counselor. Bishop Davis served without counselors for about a year and a half. The September 27, 1853, church minutes indicated that David R. Evans and Simeon A. Dunn were serving as counselors with Henry Evans, Clerk.
As the community grew and settlers arrived from various locations throughout the United States and Europe, language barriers were a real problem and ofttimes misunderstandings occurred. In February, 1855, President Farr and his counselor, Abram Palmer, were in Box Elder to hear complaints lodged towards Bishop Davis. Allegations were made that many of the people were not in good fellowship with the bishop and that he had refused to allow the Welsh saints the use of the church key so that they could hold meetings in their own tongue. He was also accused of not holding sacrament meetings on a regular basis. President Farr felt it wise to hear the various complaints and get the feelings out into the open. A meeting was held and the differences were discussed. The stake president felt that the difficulties could be resolved and encouraged the members to be forgiving, work together, and support each other. A vote was taken and the majority of the saints voted to sustain the bishop. Testimony from the Welsh brethren was most damaging to the bishop, as it revealed a deep-seated grudge which had developed. The matter later came to the attention of the brethren in Salt Lake City, and at the April 7, 1855, General Conference, bishop William Davis was released and Eli Harvey Peirce was called to serve as bishop with Jonathan C. Wright and William S. Phillips as his counselors.
Some few years later, many of the early Welsh settlers living in Willard and Brigham City left their homes and established the Welsh settlement in Malad, Idaho. Was this move a result of some of the above-mentioned difficulties?
In the early colonization of the West, Brigham Young selected apostles and other leaders to live in the various settlements and serve as the community and church leaders. At the October 4, 1853, General Conference, Elder Lorenzo Snow was instructed to select fifty families to go to Box Elder (Brigham) and strengthen its settlement. The Bishop’s Reports read at this general conference indicated that the Willow Creek Ward (Willard) had a membership of 163, and the Box Elder Ward (Brigham), had 204 members. Several Welsh settlers had settled in Willard and Brigham and just days prior to the general conference, a large group of Scandinavian converts had arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Although it is difficult to identify the fifty families selected by Lorenzo Snow, from early census figures it is evident that several of these families came from Denmark and other Scandinavian countries.
Although it is difficult to identify the fifty families selected by Lorenzo Snow, his son, LeRoi C. Snow, had this to say about his father’s selection, he “ . . . exercised great wisdom and spent much time. Many of them were faithful converts whom he had baptized in Europe. Heads of all these families were skilled craftsmen and mechanics – men of 'faith and works, devotion and ability.'”
- Nielsen, Vaughn J. 1977. The history of Box Elder Stake: written in commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of Brigham Young's setting in order a stake for Box Elder County. Brigham City, Utah: Pat's Print Shop.2.
- Nielsen, Vaughn J. 1977. The history of Box Elder Stake. Brigham City, Utah: Pat's Print Shop. 6.
- Ibid., 7.
- At the time of the 1870 Census, only two individuals listed for Box Elder/Brigham had been born in Wales.
- Nielsen, Vaughn J. 1977. The history of Box Elder Stake. Brigham City, Utah: Pat's Print Shop. 3.
- 1860 Census
- One source indicates that the fifty families were not called to Box Elder until sometime in the 1860s. See http://www.cleggsan.com/Link/Hans%20Christofferson1818.pdf . It is also possible that this source is mistaken, and Hans Christopherssen was not among those selected.
- LeRoi C. Snow, “President Snow and the United Order” in National Society, Sons of Utah Pioneers. 1951. Box Elder lore of the nineteenth century. Brigham City, Utah: The Chapter. 128