Category Archives: Wayne

First Wayne Stake Tithing Office

Photo Credit: Bill Kirchner, Sept. 29, 2018

GPS Coordinates:

38º 24.114’ N     111º 38.681’ W

Marker is in Loa, Wayne County, Utah.

Photo Credit: Andrea Maxfield, January 20, 2020.
Photo Credit: Andrea Maxfield, January 20m 2020.
National Register of Historic Places Marker

Built in 1897, the Loa Tithing Office is historically significant as one of 43 well preserved tithing buildings in Utah that were part of the successful “in kind” tithing system of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) between the 1850s and about 1910. Tithing lots, which usually included an office and several auxiliary structures, were facilities for collecting, storing, and distributing the farm products that were donated as tithing by church members in the cash-poor agricultural communities throughout the state. Tithing offices were a vital part of almost every Mormon community, serving as local centers of trade, welfare assistance, and economic activity. This building is also architecturally significant as one of ten existing examples of Utah’s tithing offices which were designed in the Greek Revival style. Peter Christensen, who constructed the building, also fired the brick in a kiln located between the nearby town of Lyman and Horse Valley Ranch. The woodwork on the building was carved by Benjamin E. Brown, a local craftsman. In 1972 the building was sold to the local chapter of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers.

–National Historic Places Registry, Date Unknown

DUP Marker No. 396

First Wayne Stake Tithing Office built in 1897 at a cost of $1,000 by Peter Christensen who fired the brick in a kiln between Lyman and Horsevalley Ranch. Benjamin F. Brown carved the wood decorations. Used only for tithing office as long as offerings were paid in produce. It then became the Wayne Stake Presidential Office. Now owned by Daughters of Utah Pioneers, where pioneer relics are displayed and meetings held.

–Mauna Loa Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1976

Extended Research:

Photo Courtesy: LDS Church History Library and Archives, Wayne Stake Office/Old Tithing Building, PH 211.

Tithing offices were found in every settlement of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the Mountain West during the nineteenth century. These houses played a major role in the economic life of their communities. Historically, they were an extension of the communal storehouse which was established by Latter-day Saints in Missouri in the early 1830s. Leaders of the newly organized “Church of Christ,” as it was then called, established a system under the law of consecration, which asked all members to donate their surplus income and wealth to the church. The funds were used to buy land, construct temples, and provide for the needs of the poor. The law of consecration was replaced in 1838 by a “lesser law” of tithing, which required members to pay one-tenth of their annual increase or net income.[1]

Once the Latter-day Saints were established throughout Utah Territory, the receipt and disbursement of tithes necessitated the construction of a tithing office, a storehouse, and often a stockyard in every settlement. The tithing office, storehouse, and stockyard were under the management of the local clergy called stake presidents and bishops.[2]

As the membership of the Church increased in Utah, Latter-day Saint congregations were divided into geographic units called stakes usually named after the county or region they occupied and overseen by a three-man stake presidency. Stakes were subdivided into smaller units called wards, a term borrowed from voting districts in the early United States. Wards in the LDS Church were overseen by a bishop and two counselors, who reported to stake leadership. Members of the wards or stakes paid tithes to the Church in various forms, ranging from cash, labor, or grain, to livestock and produce, depending on an individual’s financial circumstances. Tithes paid were disbursed by the bishop or stake president for assistance to the poor and needy within their jurisdiction.

First Wayne Stake Presidency: Joseph Eckersley, Gerson Bastian, John Riley Stewart
Photo Credit: Andrea H. Maxfield, September 2019.

First Wayne Stake Presidency: Joseph Eckersley, Gerson Bastian, John Riley Stewart

Photo Credit: Andrea Maxfield, September 2019

Though Latter-day saints began settling in Rabbit Valley as early as 1865, Wayne County wasn’t officially organized until May 2, 1892. The elevation of the communities in the county vary from 7,300 feet at Loa to 4,200 feet at Hanksville.[3] The broad spectrum of elevation, and proximity to the mountains and Fremont River created difficulties for settlements in adapting to unpredictable weather patterns. Freezing temperatures, heavy storms, and flooding often interfered with farming and settlers were dependent upon the assistance of stake tithes to survive.

Facing west, Wayne tithing office and Loa tabernacle (Wayne Stake) Photo Credit: Andrea Maxfield, January 20, 2020.

In response to these hardships, in 1897, members of the Wayne Stake followed the counsel of Church headquarters in Salt Lake City and built a white brick building to serve as the Wayne Stake tithing office. There were originally two floors, the main floor, and a cellar used for storing vegetables and potatoes. Behind the building was a large wooden granary where the clerks stored grain paid as tithing. Further east of the granary, church members stacked the hay brought in for credit.

In February 1897, Bishop Levi C. White of Blue Valley (later Giles) said, “The Ward is in Good conditions, owing to the recent storm the people have not been able to do mutch ditch work. Had it not been for the donations made to their ward by the Saints in the upper settlements, they would not have been able to raise crops this year. The people greatly appreciate the Generocity of the saints who have donated to their needs.”[4] Again, in May of the same year, Hans W. Hansen reported the good results that came from “the liberal donations of the people of the western part of the stake to those living in the eastern part.”[5]

Members of the stake willingly paid tithes to help preserve their economy. George S. Bastian of Loa, stated that nothing gave him “more joy than to take of his substance and help the poor and needy.” And Elias W. Blackburn of Bicknell reminded members of his congregation that they had “made a promise in the Nauvoo temple to help the poor and needy,” and now he could say he had spent the past “six months exclusively in making good this promise.”[6]

Labor was also a common donation for tithing. The Wayne Stake tithing office was likely financed through labor donations. The white bricks for the structure were made in a kiln between Lyman and Horse Valley by Peter Christensen, a member of the stake, who then laid the brick. Benjamin Brown another Latter-day Saint member in the stake made the fancy woodwork on the doors and porches.[7]

Photo Credit: Andrea Maxfield, September 2019.

By the early twentieth century as communities became more financially secure, tithing in kind gradually dwindled throughout the stakes. After Latter-day Saints in Wayne Stake discontinued the payment of tithes “in kind,” the granary behind the tithing office was moved to another location in Loa. The white brick building was then used as the stake clerk’s office until the 1950s when the Loa Tabernacle/Stake Center across the street added a cultural hall and stake offices.[8]

The Mauna Loa Daughters of Utah Pioneers purchased the tithing office building and currently use it for DUP meetings and as a museum which houses antiques, photos and other artifacts from early Wayne County.

German Spinning Wheel housed in Wayne Tithing Office. Photo Credit: Andrea Maxfield, September 2019.
Pipe organ from Loa Tabernacle, also on display in the Wayne Tithing Office. Photo Credit: Andrea Maxfield, September 2019.

Notes:

[1] Leonard J. Arrington, “The Mormon Tithing House: A Frontier Business Institution,” The Business History Review, 28:1 (March 1954), 24.

[2] Arrington, “This Mormon Tithing House,” 25.

[3] Anne Snow, Rainbow Views: A History of Wayne County, 4th Ed. (Springville, Utah: Art City Publishing Co, 1985), 1-18.

[4] Loa Stake General Minutes 1893-1981, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Call Number: LR 9963 11, 219-20.

[5] Loa Stake General Minutes,226.

[6] Loa Stake General Minutes, 223.

[7] Snow, Rainbow Views, 422.

[8] Loa Utah Stake Manuscript History and Historical Reports, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Call Number: LR 9963 2.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Loa Stake General Minutes 1893-1981, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Call Number: LR 9963 11

Loa Utah Stake Manuscript History and Historical Reports, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Call Number: LR 9963 2

Secondary Sources:

Leonard J. Arrington, “The Mormon Tithing House: A Frontier Business Institution,” The Business History Review, 28:1 (Cambridge: The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 1954), 24-58.

Anne Snow, Comp., Rainbow Views: A History of Wayne County, 4th Ed.(Springville, UT: Art City Publishing Co., 1985).