Category Archives: Women

Aunt Libby’s Dog Cemetery

Published / by Shannon Gebbia / Leave a Comment

write-up by Shannon Gebbia

Placed by: Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Associations, No 95

GPS Coordinates: N 40° 07.123, W 112° 34.660

Historical Marker Text:

BURIAL PLOT

Enclosing graves (west side) of two men and a child emigrants of the early eighteen sixties.

Original wall erected in 1888, By Mrs. Horace (Aunt Libby) Rockwell to shelter graves of her beloved dogs. 1. Jenny Lind, 2. Josephine Bonaparte, 3. Bishop, 4. Toby Tyler, Companions in her lonely, childless vigils here about 1866 to 1890.

Erected by enrollees U.S. grazing division C.C.C camp g-154, company 2517.

Utah pioneer trails and landmarks association Tooele tourism tax grant

Sons of Utah pioneers

-settlement canyon chapter

SUP No. 239     Rededicated 2017

Extended Research:

Sometime between 1860 and 1870, Horace Rockwell and his wife Elizabeth “Libby” Rockwell moved to Skull Valley, a 40-mile long valley in what is now Tooele County, Utah. They operated the Pony Express station known as Point Lookout then continued living on the property in a log cabin built by stage workers after the station had closed.[1] They became horse and cattle ranchers and garnered a reputation as “rough frontiers folk” and “two strange characters.”[2], [3] Over time, the pair came to be known affectionately as Uncle Horace and Aunt Libby.

Uncle Horace and Aunt Libby owned one of the only sources of water along their stretch of the Overland Trail and charged travelers a fee to access it. Many riders and locals remembered Aunt Libby for smoking a pipe and treating her dogs better than her hired men.[4] Her “colony of dogs” were described as black and tan, short-haired, possibly of the “Fiste” breed (perhaps a misspelling of Feist, a small hunting terrier).[5] Aunt Libby liked to name some of her dogs after popular characters of the time, both fictional and real. Her variety of name choices reveals a wide range of interests in music, history, and popular literature: Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale” of the mid- to late-19th century opera scene; Josephine Bonaparte, the first Empress of France; and Toby Tyler, the 10-year-old protagonist of the children’s novel, Toby Tyler; or, Ten Weeks with a Circus.[6]

Photo of the site in August, 1941, prior to restoration by the UPTLA.

 As testament to her devotion for her dogs, Dr. W. M. Stookey, a member of the Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks association, recalls an instance when Aunt Libby called upon Tooele’s Dr. William Bovee Dods to tend to one of her dogs, which had fallen ill. When Dr. Dods refused, Libby forced one of her workers, Elijah Perkins, to play sick, thus tricking Dods into paying a visit to the cabin. Once there, he reluctantly tended to the dog, and she paid him $100. Aunt Libby’s trick only worked once—the next time a dog got sick, the Rockwells had to travel roughly 70 miles to Salt Lake City.[7]

Photo of the site in August, 1941, prior to restoration by the UPTLA.

When one dog died en route for treatment in Salt Lake City, Aunt Libby brought him back to Point Lookout and buried him near a collection of three graves belonging to immigrants who had died while passing through Skull Valley.[8] She then hired a stone worker, Gustave E. Johnson, to build a wall around the small graveyard.[9] As her beloved dogs passed on over the years, Aunt Libby buried each one in her cemetery.

The Rockwells moved to California sometime after May 25, 1890 and lived there for the remainder of their lives.[10] Aunt Libby’s Dog Cemetery is the only structure still standing on the property known as Point Lookout.

View from Hwy 36 Pony Express Road

The historical significance of this cemetery seems to be centered around its location among the Pony Express stations along Utah’s section of the Overland Trail. Unlike Horace’s brother, Orrin Porter Rockwell, Horace and Libby Rockwell were not major figures in Utah or Mormon history—monuments haven’t been built in their name, we don’t learn about them in history lessons. But one story about a rough, pipe-smoking woman who tricked a Tooele doctor into treating her sick dog has survived the test of time and given historical value to this cemetery. Dr. Stookey explains that the reason for including the cemetery as an “extra in the line, both in design and significance,” was due to a “growing increase in its unique history,” and perhaps because it is one of the only remaining structures along this section of the Overland Trail.[11] Regardless of the reasoning, by including the cemetery among Utah’s historical markers, the UPTLA created an avenue for Aunt Libby’s stories to be retold forever. Within the chasm between the details of each recollection, we find the personality of that “strange character” Aunt Libby. According to most of the people who described her over the years, she was a rough, childless, pipe-smoking woman, unafraid of outlaw Porter.[12] But by way of the legacy of pet cemetery and the stories about her dogs, we see a giving, loving, motherly woman whose cultural knowledge reached far beyond the secluded scope of the Wild West.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources

“Fatally Burned.”  Los Angeles Times. March 26, 1901. Accessed February 24, 2020. https://www.newspapers.com/image/380059910/?terms=Mrs%2BRockwell.

Sharp Manuscript: Stories published by James P. Sharp. Compiled by Shirley Sharp Pitchford and Susan Sharp Hutchinson. Utah State Division of History Archives.

Sharp, James P. “The Pony Express Stations.” Improvement Era (February 1945): 76–77.

https://archive.org/details/improvementera4802unse/page/n21/mode/2up

Stookey, W. M. “They Died But Lived Again! Aunt Libby Rockwell’s Doggone Dogs and Their Lonely Cemetery Beside the Historic Overland.” Salt Lake Tribune. August 31, 1941. Accessed February 24, 2020. https://www.newspapers.com/image/598747615/?terms=libby%2Brockwell

Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association marker records, ca. 1930–1990s. MSS B 1457, box 1. Utah State Division of History Archives.

Secondary Sources:

Bluth, John F. “The South Central Overland Trail in Western Utah, 1850- 1900.” U. S. Bureau of Land Management. https://ecos.fws.gov/ServCat/DownloadFile/101963?Reference=61466

Bluth, John F. “Supplementary Report on Pony Express Overland Stage Sites in Western Utah.” https://ecos.fws.gov/ServCat/DownloadFile/101965?Reference=61468.

Fike, Richard E. and John W. Headley. “The Pony Express Stations of Utah in Historical Perspective.” Cultural Resources Series Monograph 2. Bureau of Land Management of Utah, 1979.

https://archive.org/details/ponyexpressstati00fike/mode/2up

Jessop, J. D. “The Ghost of Aunt Libby May Be Nearby.” Tooele Transcript Bulletin, October 2, 2014. http://tooeleonline.com/the-ghost-of-aunt-libby-may-be-nearby/.


[1]Bluth, John F. “The South Central Overland Trail in Western Utah, 1850-1900” (U. S. Bureau of Land Management), p. 4. (accessed February 10, 2020) https://ecos.fws.gov/ServCat/DownloadFile/101963?Reference=61466; Jessop, J. D. “The Ghost of Aunt Libby May Be Nearby.” Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah, October 2, 2014. (accessed January 29, 2020) http://tooeleonline.com/the-ghost-of-aunt-libby-may-be-nearby/; Stookey, W. M. “They Died But Lived Again! Aunt Libby Rockwell’s Doggone Dogs and Their Lonely Cemetery Beside the Historic Overland.” The Salt Lake Tribune, August 31, 1941. (accessed February 24, 2020). The exact date is unknown as several accounts differ, but they all agree the Rockwells lived at this location until sometime in 1890.

[2] Stookey.

[3] Sharp, James P., “The Pony Express Stations ,” Improvement Era, (February, 1945), 76-77. (accessed Feburay 10, 2020) https://archive.org/details/improvementera4802unse/page/n21/mode/2up

[4] Stookey.

[5] Sharp.

[6] Jessop, Stookey.

[7] Stookey, Jessop. Several newspaper stories reported this story, but the accounts differ as to which dog was ill, who called for Dods, and the amount he charged.

[8] Stookey, Bluth. Three unknown emigrating travelers died and were buried here.

[9] Stookey.

[10] Jessop; Stookey; Los Angeles Times, “Fatally Burned.” March 26, 1901. (accessed February 24, 2020) https://www.newspapers.com/image/380059910/?terms=Mrs%2BRockwell. Again, much is contested about the date, but one fact stands out: Aunt Libby burned in her house after falling asleep smoking her pipe.

[11] Stookey’s article explains the UPTLA’s haste in using the nearby CCC camps to help place markers and monuments along the difficult terrain, and that most Pony Express stations had “little or nothing remaining of the originals.” The survival of this cemetery and its story provide a picture of life along the trail.

[12]Lloyd, Erin. “Colors of Life Paint Rich Past in Rush Valley.” Tooele Transcript-Bulletin, 9 Dec. 1998, pp. 25–27. The article states Porter Rockwell owed $500 to his brother Horace, and Libby vowed to cut off Porter’s hair if the debt remained. LDS history states Porter’s hair long hair held significance to his faith. https://www.newspapers.com/image/545721374/?terms=libby%2Brockwell

The Bountiful Centennial Monument

Published / by Audrey Knudson / Leave a Comment

Write-up by Audrey Knudson

View of the Monument from the west side, near the corner of Center and Main. The Bountiful Tabernacle can be seen in the background.

Placed By: The 1992 Bountiful Area Centennial Committee.

GPS Coordinates: 40.889204, -111.880969.

Historical Marker Text:

  1. West Side Base: BOUNTIFUL CENTENNIAL MONUMENT – Sponsored by the 1992 Bountiful Area Centennial Committee. Artists – Goff Dowding, Rose Ann Peterson. Artistic Coordinator – Colleen L Parker. Monument erected by Bountiful Memorial Art Co. 1995.
  2. North Side Base: CONTRIBUTORS – Bountiful Lions Club, The Bott’s Bountiful Memorial Art Co., Carr Printing Co. Est. 1890, Eastman & Co., Willey Ford-Willey Honda, Marion Don & Duff Willey, Ken Garff Bountiful Motors, Jack M. & Connie T. Bangerter, Have J. Barlow Family, Leo J. & Harriet W. Barlow, Lurae & Ronald Barlow, Milton A. & Gloria Barlow, Lee & Joyce Benard, Dallas & Margie Bradford, Lee W. Brown, Lloyd B. & Sandra J. M. Carr, Esra T. Clark, Mayor John Riley & Marco Mabey Cushing, Robert T. & Ida Lue Gardner Dewey, Delbert R. & Geneviere Duerden, Claudette & Dan R. Eastman, Dora D. & Legrand Flack, Albert S. Eddins, Keith Haight & Jassamine Smedley Ford, Don J. & La Ree Gine Family, David & Barbara Holt Family, David R. & Linda Hatch Irvine, Hatch & June Howard, Allen & Carlyn Jensen, Daniel T. & Rae Donna Jones, Jerry & Beth Lawrence, Richard & Evelyn Call Lemon, Mayor Bob & Lois Linnell, Rendell N. & Rachel Wilson Mabey, Harold D. & Lucile S. Muir, Laree & Kevin G. Olson, The “Swede” Olson Family, Don T. & Colleen L. Parker, Jerry Lorin & Evelyn Andersen Parkin, Jack W. & Lois T. Pickett, Richard S. & Geraldine T. Prows Family, John & Mary Stringham Rampton, Janet T. Schoenhals, Alvin Sessions Family, Orson Sessions Family, Roden G. & Naomi M. Shumway, Fred & Jeanene Stringham, Gregory & Jenny Skedros & Family, Dr. Juel E. & Dora V. Trowbridge, William V. & Kay F. Trowbridge, W. Brent & Ann Wilcox Family, Jerry L. & Lucile T. Vander Meyden.
  3. South Side Base: ANCESTORS HONORED BY DESCENDANTS’ CONTRIBUTIONS – Israel Barlow, Thomas & Ann Kirkham Briggs, Heber Irvin & Marianna Zesiger Burningham, Anson Call & Wives: Mary Flint, Ann M. Bowen, Margaretta U. Clark, Emma Summers, Henrietta C. Williams, Ann Clark. David & Eliza Dittmore Call, Israel & Medora White Call, Alma & Kate Hardy, Thomas Arold & Sarah Wright Harrison, Clyde A. & Myrtle B. Hatch, Jospeph E. Hepworth, Joseph Holbrook, Mark C. & Sarah Ann Rampton Holbrook, Thomas & Mary Lowe Howard, Gov. Charles Rendell & Afton Rampton Mabey,  Joseph Tomas & Sarah Lucretia Tolman Mabey, Russel Vincent Ord, Hyrum O. & Sylvia M. Pack, John & Elizabeth Wright Brown Parkin, Ivy Baker Priest, Henry Rampton, Patty Sessions, Perrigrine Sessions & Wives: Julia Ann Kilgore, Lucina Call, Mary Call, Fanny Emmorette Loveland, Sarah Crossley, Elizabeth Birdenow, Sarah Ann Bryson & Esther Mabey,  Angus & Margaretta Waddoups Smedley, James Samuel & Alice Chase Smedley, Richard & Elizabeth Stringham, Amos Pease & Minerva Jones Stone, Newton & Emily Stone Tuttle, Judson Tolman, Jeremiah Willey, David & Martha Garrett Wiseman, Judson Tolman, Jeremiah Willey, David & Martha Garrett Wiseman, Gottlieb & Elizabeth Zesiger, Calvin Sessions Family, Richard & Sharon Ford.
  4. East Side Base: Blank.
  5. East Side Spire (facing Main Street): BOUNTIFUL CITY, INCORPORATED DECEMBER 14, 1892- Perrigrine Sessions drove his wagon north to this area in September of 1847. Here Sessions’ settlement had its beginning. The Second settlement in the territory of Utah. In 1855, thirty-seven years prior to incorporation as a city, the name was changed to Bountiful.
  6. North Side Spire: EDUCATION – Education in this community was always important. As early as 1848 local pioneer children were taught by Hannah Holbrook in her wickiup school.
  7. West Side Spire: BOUNTIFUL HARVESTS – Orchards and gardens were planted in abundance, supplying produce to local pioneer families. Bountiful harvests brought the development of the growers market, allowing widespread distribution of produce.
  8. South Side Spire: PIONEER LIFE – Dances and drama, quilts and choirs, parades and brass bands, sleigh rides and horse races were all part of the culture and entertainment, so vital to pioneer life.

Extended Research:

Perrigrine Sessions, Founder of Bountiful

East side of the monument.

Perrigrine Sessions was born in Maine on June 15, 1814. In 1847, he led one of the first LDS pioneer companies to Salt Lake City, and was in charge of herding the party’s 400 cattle.[1] After arriving in Salt Lake in July of 1847, Brigham Young instructed Sessions to form a party that would take cattle outside of the city where they could not harm the newly planted crops. Sessions acted as captain of a herding company that drove cattle north from July to August of 1847.

On August 12, 1847, Sessions dismissed the herding company to explore the land on their own.[2] After searching for suitable grazing land for his own stock, in September, Sessions chose a campsite near what is today 300 North and 200 West in Bountiful.[3]  Sessions spent that winter at his camp with his cattle. For his living quarters, Sessions built a dugout by digging into an embankment and attaching his wagon to it.[4] Sessions’ initial campsite laid the groundwork for Sessions Settlement.

In the spring of 1848, Sessions gave up cattle herding for farming. He established the first farm in the settlement and built one of the settlement’s first permanent homes.[5] Sessions hosted religious gatherings in his house until the city could build larger venues, like the Bountiful Tabernacle in 1863.

Name of Settlement Changed to Bountiful

The early pioneers referred to the settlement strictly as Sessions Settlement for about a year. In 1849, the LDS Church divided it into tithing wards. The North Mill Creek Canyon Ward covered the settlement area, so many residents began referring to it by its ward name. In 1854, the Bishop of the ward was John Stoker, and after the residents named the settlement’s post office after him, they used the name Stoker for the settlement. In 1855, Bishop Stoker proposed the name Bountiful, after a city found in the Book of Mormon, an LDS book of scripture. From then on, the people called the settlement Bountiful, and later the town council incorporated it as a city under that name on December 28, 1892.[6]

Hannah Holbrook, Bountiful’s First School Teacher

North side of the monument.

Hannah Holbrook, maiden name Hannah Flint, was born on July 18, 1806, in Stanton, Vermont. In 1831, she moved from Vermont to Ohio with her parents, Rufus Flint and Hannah Hawes. It was there that she and her family converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1838, when the Church called for members to immigrate to Missouri, she took the trip with her sister Mary Flint and brother-in-law Anson Call. She again immigrated with them and the Church to Nauvoo Illinois, where she earned a living by teaching.[7]

Hannah Holbrook married Joseph Holbrook in Nauvoo in 1843, and the two of them trekked to Utah in 1848. In October, Holbrook’s husband travelled through Tooele and Davis counties to find suitable farmland for his family. He chose a 126 acre section of land on the outskirts of Sessions Settlement. There, he constructed a log home that he did not complete until 1850.[8]

Holbrook did not wait for her husband’s improvements to the land before she began teaching. As early as 1848 she taught the children of Sessions Settlement out of a “school made of bulrushes.”[9] She persevered through winter storms, isolated conditions on the edge of town, and a cramped schoolhouse to provide an education to settlers’ children.

In 1854, Sessions Settlement formed a committee which assessed a school tax and constructed a large adobe schoolhouse located at about 400 North and 200 West.[10] Holbrook was the first teacher to utilize the schoolhouse and “by the end of 1855 she had 50 students.”[11] Joseph Holbrook praised his wife in his journal, saying, “she is one of the most capable teachers and the most experienced in the country and keeps a good school.”[12] Today, Davis County has an elementary school named after her.

Bountiful Agriculture

West side of the monument.

The initial settlers in Bountiful found rich soil and mountain streams that facilitated profitable farming. In Bountiful, the average farms spanned 60 to 120 acres.[13] Farmers who could avoid the menacing cricket invasions enjoyed successful growing seasons in Bountiful’s relatively mild climate. With large farms in an ideal location, settlers produced impressive crop yields, which “averaged out per household at eighty-eight bushels of wheat, forty-six bushels of potatoes, sixteen bushels of oats, and fourteen bushels of corn. Farms also produced about 6 tons of hay ‘per harvester.’”[14] By 1852, Heber C. Kimball, one of the 12 apostles of the LDS Church, opened Bountiful’s first gristmill to serve the demand for local grain processing.[15]

Farmers grew more than staple crops. Anson Call brought sugar cane to the settlement. One farmer, Newton Tuttle, produced 152 gallons of molasses from his plot of sugar cane. Newton Tuttle also led the fruit drying industry. He established a small nursery that provided for Bountiful’s many orchards. Families who grew fruit dried it and took it to market to barter for everyday supplies like clothing.[16] In addition to sweets, many women kept kitchen gardens, which, aside from the traditional cooking vegetables, grew medicinal herbs that they used to administer healthcare services throughout the community.[17] Indeed, Bountiful’s settlers enjoyed a wide variety of tasty and healthful produce.

In addition to excellent produce, farmers kept livestock. To keep cattle out of unfenced fields, the community came together to establish common grazing grounds. With common grounds, the settlement needed fewer herdsmen to keep cattle in place. In addition to cattle, many of the original settlers experimented with sheep farming, and most families kept their own dairy cow, chickens, and sometimes pigs. Perrigrine Sessions built a livestock pound to keep escaped animals. If livestock escaped the farm, volunteer pound keepers captured the animals and placed them in the community pound.[18] Livestock keeping methods show the cooperative spirit of pioneers.

Early Bountiful Culture

South side of the monument.

Pioneer entertainment relied on community participation. Before the School House or Rock Hall were built, Perrigrine Session’s house was the largest structure available. He hosted dances for the town. Couples attending the dances paid a small admission fee in cash or in kind in order to cover the cost of the musicians.[19] As the city grew, youth began to participate in their own dances, supervised by local clergy.[20] Joseph Holbrook, Hannah Holbrook’s husband, built the Rock Hall, which frequently hosted LDS choirs, one of the most common forms of entertainment, and also served as a venue for social gatherings. Social gatherings regularly centered on adult education, such as intellectual debates and political, academic, or religious talks.[21]

The town commemorated summer holidays with raucous celebrations that often included fireworks, gun salutes, cannons, boisterous brass bands, and sporting events like baseball games and footraces.[22] James Weight founded Bountiful’s own brass band in 1863 using contributions from townsfolk to buy instruments.[23] This band played for events like Pioneer Day on the 24th of July, which was Bountiful’s largest holiday. Pioneer day always included a parade, and as tribute to Bountiful’s abundant produce, participants often decorated their wagon floats with ripe fruit.[24]

Bountiful residents celebrated winter holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, with horse races. The horses raced down an unofficial track, often the main road that stretched across the north of the town, breathlessly trampling the tracks left by winter sleighs.[25]

Further Reading:

Primary Sources:

Perrigrine Sessions Emigrating Company Journal, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints., Call Number: MS 256.

Joseph Holbrook Autobiography and Journal, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints., Call Number: MS 21793.

Secondary Sources:

Foy, Leslie. The City of Bountiful: Utah’s Second Settlement from Pioneers to Present. Bountiful: Horizon Publishers, 1975.

Leonard, Glen. A History of Davis County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1999. Mabey, Joseph Thomas. Our Father’s House. Salt Lake City: Beverly Craftsmen, 1947


[1] Leslie Foy, The City of Bountiful, (Bountiful: Horizon Publishers, 1975), 9.

[2] Perrigrine Sessions Emigrating Company, Perrigrine Sessions Emigrating Company Journal, 1857 July-August.  

[3] Glen Leonard, A History of Davis County, (Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1999), 17.

[4] Foy, Bountiful, 46.

[5] Id., 48.

[6] Leonard, Davis County, 181.

[7] Joseph Holbrook, Autobiography and Journal, 30.

[8] Id., 65.

[9] Joseph Mabey, Our Father’s House, (Salt Lake City: Beverly Craftsmen, 1947), 101.

[10] Leonard, Davis County, 48.

[11] Foy, Bountiful, 80.

[12] Holbrook, Autobiography and Journal, 65.

[13] Leonard, Davis County, 100, and Foy, Bountiful, 94.

[14] Id., 102.

[15] Id., 104.

[16] Foy, Bountiful, 90.

[17] Leonard, Davis County, 107.

[18] Foy, Bountiful, 73.

[19] Id., 97.

[20] Mabey, Our Father’s House, 107.

[21] Foy, Bountiful, 100.

[22] Mabey, Our Father’s House, 203.

[23] Foy, Bountiful, 97.

[24] Mabey, Our Father’s House, 204.

[25] Id., 205.

Nauvoo Bell Tower & Relief Society Memorial

Published / by Amy Shaw / Leave a Comment

Write-up by Amy Shaw

Placed by:

The Relief Society – Woman’s Benevolent Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter – Day Saints

            Latitude: 40.76996655

            Longitude: -111.89330947

Historical Marker Text (1) – Sign:

The Nauvoo Bell originally hung in the temple that Church members built in Nauvoo, Illinois, in the 1840’s. The Saints removed the bell in 1846 when they were forced to leave Illinois because of persecution. Following instructions from Brigham Young, the second company of pioneers carried the bell to the Salt Lake Valley. During their journey, they rang the bell to signal daybreak and departure and to warn that night sentries were on duty. The bell is now rung hourly as a symbol of religious freedom and is heard on KSL Radio.

This monument honors the Relief Society, an organization founded on 17 March 1842 for women of the Church. The bell tower was built with donations from Relief Society members to mark the organization’s centennial.

Historical Marker Text (2) – East Side:  RELIEF SOCIETY CENTENNIAL MEMORIAL

Here in the shadow of the temple, on this spot hallowed by the tread of pioneer feet, the Relief Society – woman’s benevolent organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints erects this monument.

It stands as an expression of appreciation for the wondrous opportunities for soul growth that have come to womankind since the time one hundred years ago when in 1842 the Relief Society was organized in Nauvoo, Illinois, by the prophet Joseph Smith, who said :

“I now turn the key in your behalf in the name of the Lord and this society shall rejoice, and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time henceforth… let kindness charity and love crown your works.”

In this tower hangs the famed Nauvoo temple bell whose lifetime spans a century of church history. A sentinel in the sacred temple at Nauvoo, the bell in vibrant tones rang out the changing moods of faithful saints as they experienced first peace and joy, and later the anguish of parting from all that they had toiled to build. Immediately following the original pioneers with Brigham Young at their head, came the second company in the great exodus to the west. Heading this veritable host of Israel, the bell played well its part in the westward trek. It awakened the herdsman at dawn, called the Saints from their wagons to kneel in morning prayer, rang again to start the day’s march, and in the solemn stretches of the night, it quieted the fears of the people as it warned stray Indians that the sentry was at his post.

It is with gratitude that this monument is dedicated to the thousands of unsung Relief Society heroines who over a period of one hundred years have stimulated intellectual development and given compassionate service without thought of honor or reward. These valiant women have nourished the hungry, clothed the needy, nursed the sick, buoyed up the discouraged and disconsolate, and tenderly prepared the dead for burial.

Relief Society General Presidents 

                        1842 – 1942

            Emma Smith                                     Emmeline B. Wells

            Eliza R. Snow                                   Clarissa S. Williams

            Zina D. H. Young                             Louise Y. Robinson

            Bathsheba W. Smith                       Amy Brown Lyman

Historical Marker Text (3) – South Side:

BENEVOLENCE

Through Love Serve One Another

Historical Marker Text (4) – North Side: EDUCATION

The Glory of God is Intelligence

Historical Marker Text (5) – West Side:

PIONEERING

No Toil Nor Labor Fear

Extended Research:

In July of 1845, a letter from Brigham Young was published in the Millennial Star, asking the saints in Britain to donate money that would fund the making of a bell to be placed in the Nauvoo temple. Wilford Woodruff, who was the president of the British Mission was charged with encouraging the Saints to raise the funds and collect the money.1 The British Saints raised 535 pounds.2

There is some confusion as to whether the bell was purchased in England or America. Due to a letter to Woodruff, from Young which states, “I wrote you in my last letter that we intended to purchase the bell in this country and desired you to transmit the money collected for that purpose by the first safe opportunity,” it is believed that the bell must have been bought and constructed in America. However, there are accounts from others recalling “a large bell some of the brethren (missionaries) had sent from England by ship to New Orleans, thence by river steamer up the Mississippi River to Nauvoo, where it was hung, with some difficulty, in the steeple of the Temple.” There are no records of the bell’s purchase to back up either account.3

The Nauvoo Bell. Courtesy of LDS Historical Dept.

It is believed that the bell was completed and arrived in the city of Nauvoo in early June of 1846, where it was hung for a short time in the belfry of the Nauvoo Temple. In the time it was there, the bell was used to sound the alarm for anti-Mormon mob attacks. One such attack was the Battle of Nauvoo which took place in June 1846, when Hancock County settlers drove remaining Mormons from their homes at Nauvoo. The temple was eventually surrendered to the mobs, and the Saints were forced to flee. It is reported that as the mob marched through the temple, they rang the bell as a preacher shouted “Peace, Peace, Peace to all the inhabitants of the earth, now the Mormons are driven.” One man, John R. Young, as he and the other Saints were fleeing, stopped to write:

 “The silvery notes of the temple bell

That we loved so deep and well;

And a pang of grief would swell the heart,

And the scalding tears in anguish start

As we silently gazed on our dear old homes” 4

It is here that the history of the Nauvoo Bell becomes murky. According to  Edith Smith Eliot, the great-granddaughter of Wilford Woodruff, the bell was stolen from the temple and taken to a protestant church, where the Lamoreaux family stole it back for the LDS Church. The tale goes that “one stormy night the men gathered in secret and without horses pulled the wagon to the Church and lowered the Bell, pushed and pulled the wagon by hand to the edge of the Mississippi River and carefully concealed it in the water. Andrew Lamoreaux and his brother, David, were chosen to bring the Bell to Utah with their families, concealing the Bell in their wagon with their provisions.”5 This story, however, is most likely not about the Nauvoo Bell but actually about Hummer’s Bell, a bell made for a Presbyterian church under the direction of Michael Hummer in 1844. Somehow the history of these two bells have gotten mixed up.6

What is actually believed to have happened to the Nauvoo Bell is that in September, when Brigham Young heard that the Saints were forced out of their homes in Nauvoo, he wrote to the trustees of the Church property saying, “Since you will have no further use of the Temple Bell, we wish you to forward it to us by the first possible chance, we have much need of it at this place.” Reports from Joshua Hawkes tell us that he and a Latter-day Saint by the name of James Houton then took the bell across the Mississippi River, where it fell under the charge of Joseph P. Heywood. Heywood then took the bell to Winter Quarters.7

It is believed that the bell arrived in Winter Quarters in Nebraska Territory in December of 1846. Here, the bell was placed in the public square and was used to call members to worship services and other meetings.8

Then, in June of 1847, a wagon company led by Charles C. Rich transported the bell to the Salt Lake Valley.1 During the journey, it was attached to a wagon so that it could be rung to awaken the company each morning, signal morning prayer, to start each day’s march, and to warn the company of any Indian attacks.9

The company arrived in Salt Lake in September of 1847. The bell was then placed in a fort in the city for a short time until it was moved to the bowery on Temple Square. It remained there until the winter of 1849 -1850 when it cracked. This resulted in the bell being melted down and recast.10 The recast bell measures 23 1/2 inches tall, 33 inches wide at its base, and 2 1/2 inches thick.11 It was then placed in Brigham Young’s schoolhouse located just east of the Beehive house, in 1860.12 It remained there until 1902 when it was presented to the Utah State Historical Society, and placed in the LDS Church museum. It remained on display there for many years.13

In 1941, John Taylor announced that the bell would be permanently placed in a tower on the grounds of the Tabernacle before the observance of the centennial of the National Relief Society, in 1942.14 However, due to World War II breaking out, the tower’s erection was postponed to 1966. The tower was designed by Lorenzo S. Young, grandson of Brigham Young.15 It stands 35 feet high and is located between the Assembly Hall and Tabernacle on Temple Square.16 The bronze artwork at the base of the tower was done by renowned sculptor Avard T. Fairbanks.17 The first sculpture is of the monogram RS (for Relief Society) and a picture of the Nauvoo temple. The next two sides depict the twofold work of the Relief society, education, and benevolence. And the last sculpture  commemorates the Church’s pioneering spirit.18

It is believed by some that the Nauvoo Bell Tower is a response to a prophecy made by Brigham Young in which he said: “Right west of the temple … we shall build a tower and put a bell on it. … This plan was shown to me in a vision when I first came onto the ground.”

Today, the Nauvoo Bell serves as an hourly time signal for KSL TV and radio. This began in 1961 with President of the LDS church, David O. McKay presiding at the ceremonies at KSL TV.19 The tolling of the bell marks the top of each hour on KSL by use of a microphone on Temple Square. There is a 7-second delay from the sounding of the bell to the listener’s ear on the radio.20

Footnotes:

[1] Ronald G. Watt, “A Tale of Two Bells: Nauvoo Bell and Hummer’s Bell,” Mormonhistoricsites.org, accessed March 17, 2019, http://mormonhistoricsites.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/NJ11.2_Watt.pdf.

[2] Don F. Colvin, “Religious Studies Center,” 11. The Fate of the Temple | Religious Studies Center, 2002, accessed March 17, 2019, https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/nauvoo-temple-story-faith/11-fate-temple.

[3] Colvin, “Religious Studies Center,” 11.

[4] David R. Crockett, “The Nauvoo Temple: “A Monument of the Saints”,” http://mormonhistoricsites.org, accessed March 17, 2019, http://mormonhistoricsites.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/NJ11.2_Crockett.pdf.

[5] “I’ve Heard There Is a Story behind the Bell on Temple Square. Can You Relay It?” Ensign, February 1981, accessed March 30, 2019, https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1981/02/i-have-a-question/what-is-the-story-behind-the-bell-on-temple-square?lang=eng.

[6] Watt, “A Tale of Two Bells.”

[7] Colvin, “Religious Studies Center,” 11.

[8] Watt, “A Tale of Two Bells.”

[9] “I’ve Heard There Is a Story.”

[10] Watt, “A Tale of Two Bells.”

 [11] Colvin, “Religious Studies Center,” 11.

[12] Watt, “A Tale of Two Bells.”

[13] Colvin, “Religious Studies Center,” 11.

[14] “Church Prizes Only Relic, Leader Asserts,” Salt Lake Telegram, 3 October 1941, page 10, Utah Digital Newspapers.

[15] Connie Lamb, “Symbols of the LDS Relief Society,” Mormonhistoricsites.org,  accessed March 17, 2019, http://mormonhistoricsites.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Symbols-of-the-LDS-Relief-Society.pdf.

[16] “Nauvoo Bell’s ‘clang’ Is Back on KSL Radio,” Deseret News, June 23, 2005, accessed March 17, 2019, https://www.deseretnews.com/article/600143553/Nauvoo-Bells-clang-is-back-on-KSL-Radio.html.

[17] Athelia T. Woolley, “Art to Edify: The Work of Avard T. Fairbanks,” accessed March 17, 2019, https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1987/09/art-to-edify-the-work-of-avard-t-fairbanks?lang=eng.

[18] Lamb, “Symbols.”

[19] “I’ve Heard There Is a Story.”

[20] “Nauvoo Bell’s ‘clang’ Is Back.”

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

“Church Prizes Only Relic, Leader Asserts”. Salt Lake Telegram, 3 October 1941. page 10. Utah Digital Newspapers.

Secondary Sources:

“A Visit to Temple Square.” Lds.org. Accessed March 17, 2019. https://www.lds.org/study/liahona/1991/10/a-visit-to-temple-square?lang=eng.

Bennett, Richard E. “Winter Quarters: Church Headquarters, 1846–1848.” Lds.org. Accessed March 17, 2019. https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1997/09/winter-quarters-church-headquarters-1846-1848?lang=eng.

Colvin, Don F. “Religious Studies Center.” 11. The Fate of the Temple | Religious Studies Center. 2002. Accessed March 17, 2019. https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/nauvoo-temple-story-faith/11-fate-temple.

Crockett, David R. “The Nauvoo Temple: “A Monument of the Saints”.” http://mormonhistoricsites.org. Accessed March 17, 2019. http://mormonhistoricsites.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/NJ11.2_Crockett.pdf.

“I’ve Heard There Is a Story behind the Bell on Temple Square. Can You Relay It?” Ensign, February 1981. Accessed March 30, 2019. https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1981/02/i-have-a-question/what-is-the-story-behind-the-bell-on-temple-square?lang=eng.

Lamb, Connie. “Symbols of the LDS Relief Society.” Mormonhistoricsites.org. Accessed March 17, 2019. http://mormonhistoricsites.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Symbols-of-the-LDS-Relief-Society.pdf.

“Nauvoo Bell’s ‘clang’ Is Back on KSL Radio.” Deseret News. June 23, 2005. Accessed March 17, 2019. https://www.deseretnews.com/article/600143553/Nauvoo-Bells-clang-is-back-on-KSL-Radio.html.

Searle Assistant, Don L. “Nauvoo: A Temple Reborn.” Accessed March 17, 2019. https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/2002/07/nauvoo-a-temple-reborn?lang=eng.

Watt, Ronald G. “A Tale of Two Bells: Nauvoo Bell and Hummer’s Bell.” Mormonhistoricsites.org. Accessed March 17, 2019. http://mormonhistoricsites.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/NJ11.2_Watt.pdf.

Woolley, Athelia T. “Art to Edify: The Work of Avard T. Fairbanks.” Accessed March 17, 2019. https://www.lds.org/study/ensign/1987/09/art-to-edify-the-work-of-avard-t-fairbanks?lang=eng.