Saints, Episode 28: Until the Coming of the Son of Man

Ben Godfrey, Shalyn Back, and Jeff Anderson

Ben Godfrey and Shalyn Back interview Jeff Anderson, who works on the Global Acquisition team in the Church History Department, caring for found and donated historical documents. Together they discuss the spread of the gospel to Hawaii and Europe, the early translations of the Book of Mormon, the early church academies, and the first temples built in Utah Territory during Wilford Woodruff's lifetime.



Ben Godfrey, Shalyn Back, and Jeff Anderson


Back and Godfrey:   Welcome to the Saints podcast. I'm Shalyn Back and I'm Ben Godfrey, and in today's episode we will be talking about chapter 28, “ Until the Coming of the Son of Man.”  We are so excited today to be talking with Jeff Anderson. Jeff, thank you so much for being with us today. Will you just tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

Anderson:  I work in the Global and Acquisitions team, and we deal with records that people bring in to donate to the Church. This is with the Church History department.   We are also responsible for the Utah areas, so we go out and do interviews or get leads on records in various areas and gather those records.

Godfrey:   One of the cool things that your team gets to do, as you mentioned, is going out into the various areas of the Church, training area Church History advisors, acquiring items for the Church History Library collection and helping them collect in areas. Jeff's team has a really cool job and is able to meet with lots of pioneering members all over the world.

Anderson:  Yes, I really enjoy my job. 

Back:  So Jeff, there's a lot going on in this chapter. Let's start with George Reynolds. Remind our listeners who George Reynolds is.  Why is he involved in a legal case?

Anderson:   You know, I don't have all the details on that, but I think that George Reynolds actually was kind of a test case to see where the Church stood with plural marriage.  The government is attempting to really almost bring down the Church because of the issue of plural marriage. And so they're going to test this and see how it stands in the courts.

Godfrey:   So George is supposed to go to jail and then run the test case.   From the chapter I think we learned that there was an agreement that he would be the only one until the courts had a chance to work through the issue, but they still arrested other people anyway.  So  George Q. Cannon, who is a counselor in the first presidency, ends up in jail. Brigham has other legal troubles. Tell us about Ann Eliza Young. 

Anderson:  Ann Eliza Young writes a book about being married to Brigham, and it's quite a scandalous book.  It creates quite a stir.   

Back:  She's estranged at this point, and she sues Brigham Young for divorce. 

Anderson:  So Brigham Young is traveling among the Saints and he is organizing things. He's putting the priesthood in order. He's also inviting the Saints in Sanpete area to build a temple. 

Godfrey:  Where does he tell them to build a temple?

Anderson:  And he tells them to build it on the hill. If you've ever been there, of course, it's a beautiful building and you can see it for miles. 

Godfrey:  And this is in what is today Manti, Utah. We have, as you mentioned, a beautiful temple built on the spur of the mountain.   So an important part of the Church, being a global church, and beginning its outreach, is translating materials into various languages. I believe our listeners will remember the Book of Mormon was first translated into Danish and then George Q. Cannon and Johnathan Napela translated it to Hawaiian.

Back:   And is that all up to this point?

Anderson:   No, actually there are some other languages that were done.  The Church has done French, Danish, German, Italian and Welsh. And the Welsh one is kind of intriguing because, you know,  how many things have you seen written in Welsh?   But I've done little presentations with youth that'll come in and I say, now raise your hand if you're descended from someone from Wales, and at least here in the Valley and along the Wasatch front there are a lot of people who are descended from people who joined the Church in Wales in those early years.   I'm descended from people who joined the Church in Wales.  It's just very common. So the Church had a lot of success in Wales and Dan Jones was one of the key players in Wales. He goes there, preaches the gospel, and there are a number of tracks that are translated into Welsh that were being used by the missionaries because they had great success there.

Back:   I was surprised that Spanish is so low on that list.  I thought it would be one of the very first to be translated, but then of course we're following Hawaiian and things like that. This is a really neat story. Tell us about this man who leads in that translation. 

Anderson:  So Meliton Trejo hears about the gospel. He's down in the Philippines. He comes and shows up here In Salt Lake in full dress military uniform.   In this chapter it mentions that he made quite a splash because he's a Spanish military officer. He looks quite dashing in his military attire. And so he ultimately translates Book of Mormon.  Why they didn't begin to translate in Spanish I really don't fully comprehend. I know that it is Parley P. Pratt who goes down and really doesn't have a lot of success there in South America. There are some incursions in the Church partially because of plural marriage going down into Mexico. And so they begin to kind of rub shoulders with the culture a little bit and Trejo, certainly, who is Spanish has that capacity. In fact, I think in the chapter, he really had a struggle communicating early in the Valley because they couldn't find anybody who spoke Spanish. I mean, you can find people today all over the place who speak Spanish, but at that time that was really a struggle for him, but he became the key player in getting the Book of Mormon translated into Spanish.

Back:  He wasn't even a member of the Church.

Anderson:  I think he joined the Church and ultimately by the time he translates the Book of Mormon, he is. That's an interesting struggle though. I think when you begin to introduce the gospel into an area, I can see where you have people who know the language, but don't know the gospel, and you have people know the gospel who don't know the language.  And so to make sure that you get it translated right I can see that would be a struggle to pull that off well.   

Back:   I only speak English, but when I've read the Book of Mormon in English, there are words that are sometimes difficult to understand. And so I thought it was neat about the process that missionaries that were preparing to go to Mexico were learning Spanish. They were working with Trejo to kind of get the language and having all the gospel principles correct. Anyway, I think it's an incredible process.

Godfrey:   Another really amazing part about this is that they decided to print excerpts of this new translation of the Book of Mormon and in a future episode we're going to find out what happens to those excerpts.  This becomes very important in the beginnings of the Church spreading the gospel. There's a wonderful story that we're going to talk about again later about a sister who has a dream, and then her son finds these excerpts that were initially translated by Meliton Trejo.

Godfrey:   We also have another visitor in the Valley. I'm sure it was causing a bit of a stir. This is the first US President, Ulysses S. Grant who decides to come out and see for himself what's going on with these Saints in the Valley. Tell us a little bit about his trip. 

Anderson:  Well, he shows up and famously, in fact, when I was reading it I thought, gee, is this really an urban myth or did it really happen?  I assume that they've done good research on this, but the account of him going through and he turns to Governor Emory  and he sees all these children and he says, “Who are these children?”  And Governor Emory says,  “These are Mormon children.”  And Grant says “I've been deceived.”   If you look at the newspapers and the press that are being published in the East, I think there's a lot of real anger that's being fomented there in the East and Grant listens to a lot of this I'm sure and has bought into it. And so he comes here convinced that the Latter- day Saints are something that they really are not. And so when he sees these sweet little innocent children walking in the streets and meets the other people, he realizes that they are different people than what he's been led to believe.

Back:   Another part of that story I like  about the President's visit is his wife, Julia.  She and Brigham Young get to talking and she asks Brigham Young, “I don't really know what to call you.”   He gives her some options. He says, “Sometimes I'm Governor, sometimes President and sometimes General Young.”  And that's what she decides to call him because that's what she's comfortable with. But I really like insight into her personality because she just comes right out with her objection to polygamy and plural marriage. She really struggles with that. And so I really like the conversation that they have. I think it's open.  I think it's fun, and just to picture it between the Prophet of the Church at the time, Brigham Young, and the First Lady, I thought it was just kind of a neat encounter.

Godfrey:   There's something else I was impressed with in this chapter, and that is when we met a man by the name of Samuel Chambers. Samuel was baptized as an enslaved person. He saved for five years to come to join with the Saints in the Valley. When he did come, he came out with his wife and his child.  I was fascinated to learn that he served as what they called an unordained assistant to the Deacons Quorum. And we learned that he was faithful in his tithes and offerings. He attended all of his meetings, and I wanted to just give a little quote here to acknowledge what his experience was among the early Saints.

Back:  “If I don't bear my testimony,” he said, “how do you know how I feel or how you feel? But if I rise and speak, I know I have a friend. And if I hear you speak as I speak, I know we are one.”

Godfrey:   I just appreciated being able to hear his story. I hadn't often thought about people of African descent, people of color being here with the early Saints, but in this volume we've learned about several of them, and I thought it was cool to learn a little bit about Samuel.

Anderson:  If I can just comment a little bit about the issue of plural marriage and the issue of those of African descent and the Priesthood. I very often feel with plural marriage, that being male, I'm not in a position to really fairly approach that, and so when I hear some of our sisters say things, I don't know if I can, as a male, wrap my head around the way that they feel about that.  And the same with the faith of those folks who joined the Church and yet can't have the Priesthood. Also the faith of some of the sisters who really are having a hard time chewing the issue of plural marriage, and yet they do.   It is really astounding for me. It's just an incredible faith that they had to have had when all these things were kind of not played in their favor.

Back:   Well, and what I love about Samuel's testimony is he's saying, if I don't share with you what I've come to know, and you're not going to know how I feel, and then I'm not going to know how you feel.  I love that everybody has such different experiences, especially in the past, such difficult experiences, but there’s that common testimony that we can share.  That's how we can really relate to one another and start to try to understand what people are going through.

Godfrey:   Jeff, there's another amazing part of this story. There's a man by the name of Karl Maeser.  We've met Karl before in previous chapters. He's a relatively new member of the Church. He's immigrated here and there is this incredible explosion that ruins or damages this school where Karl is teaching. Can you tell us what exploded and what was Karl's reaction to it?

Anderson:   So there's this munitions magazine or whatever, upon Arsenal Hills, what they called it. And I think there were some young boys, if I remember right, who were messing around with guns or something. And I don't know if they really knew, but this set off a spark in this ammunition's magazine that exploded and caused damage to the school house. Maeser walks down to inform Brigham Young that this has occurred and Brigham sends him south ultimately. Yes. I love that. He goes in and he says the building's damaged and what are you going to do about this?  Brigham's response is, “We’ll take care of that. In the meantime, we need you to go to Provo.”  And so he does.  You could probably call Karl G. Maeser the Father of Education in the Church system. He's the man who really winds it up and gets it going. They do have something going on down there, but it's really struggling. Maeser goes down and really gets this program going. And one of the things that's mentioned in the chapter is that Brigham tells him to go down and to not teach anything, even the ABCs, without having the gospel infused. And let's listen to a quote here from the book because that is one of my favorite pieces of advice that he's given.

Back:  “Brother Maeser,” said Brigham, “I want you to remember that you ought not to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication table without the spirit of God.” 

Godfrey:  So this seems to be an interesting instruction. This is a secular school in some respect, he's going to teach them reading, writing, and arithmetic, but he's going to do it with a spirit.

Anderson:  Yes, and if you look at the first students who are there, there are some very influential individuals.  There's this fellow by the name of James E. Talmage who's there, some of Brigham Young's children are there. George Sutherland, who becomes a Supreme Court Justice is also there who is not a member of the church.  I think George never joins the church and is truly influenced by Maeser and others. So it becomes this very significant event.

Godfrey:  Let's diverge just for a minute from this chapter. Tell us a little bit more about these academies. There'll be here and there in the book. But while we have you here today, how many church academies were there? What were they like? How did you get in? Give us some background.

Anderson:   I don't know how many there were, but I think that it's significant because Brigham Young recognizes that education is truly important. I recall talking with a fellow over in CES who was promoting the literacy program. It was his theory that many young men in particular, but also young women, didn't serve missions because they couldn't read because they weren't literate. So he said, you imagine that you're sitting there in a living room, and your companion cites scripture or whatever, and says, my companion will read this and hands it to you but you can't read it. And so literacy is at its core important because you really struggled to understand the gospel without it.  If you can't read, you can go to church and you can listen to people do that, but you can't get yourself into the records and into that information, unless you can read. So I think it's at its basic level. That's important for members of the Church to be able to have that literacy.  I think it was in 1890, James E. Talmage and Maeser one summer go south.  They go down and they begin to, if you will, preach the gospel of the Academy system, and they encourage each stake to establish an Academy so that the children can have the opportunity to learn.  At this time, there's not really a government sponsored education system. So there are two public schools at this point, no public schools. So they're trying to supplement that absence of public schools by developing these academies. And there is a little bit of a struggle. There are those within the communities who come down and say, my boy is pretty good at hauling hay.  What more is he going to need to know and his life?  And they can't see that there are these opportunities beyond education. And so Talmage, and Maeser try to preach that.  Then each of these stakes began to establish Academies.   So when you say, how many Academies were there?  There were a lot.  In the twenties, the Church began to divest itself of the Academies because the government opportunities were expanding.  And so if you look at Weber State University, for example, that was an Academy.   Snow College was an Academy. Dixie State was an Academy. BYU. was Brigham Young Academy.

Back:   Well, and initially these academies were for children of all ages, teennagers, adults, even. And what were the demographics?

Anderson:   As far as male, female,  I know that there were a lot of women. I don't think that there were any restrictions imposed. There was a focus, particularly at BYA or Brigham Young Academy to have what was called a normal school. It was to teach people to teach, and then these teachers would go out and work in the Academies and teach. They had to have a core of teachers who could actually work there. And some of the Academies did well. And some of them struggled. They were always struggling with money. Money was a real issue to keep a teacher on salary and sometimes they were paid in non-cash, bales of hay or eggs or whatever.

Godfrey:   Are there places where these Academy buildings still exist? Are there any of them that are preserved?

Anderson:   Yes, there are actually.   The United Stake Academy where President Benson attended is in Preston, Idaho. It was moved, I believe in 2003. and preserved. And it's a really, really beautiful cool building up there you can go visit. Snow College still has the remnants of a few of the buildings there. I'm not sure about the University of Utah and I'm not sure about Weber State, what they have up there. 

Godfrey:  Is there a library in Provo? That's in an old Stake Academy building? I can't remember. So that is BYA, Brigham Young Academy.  That was where the Academy was initially located.  Then they purchased some property which they called Temple Hill. There was supposed to be a temple built there. They just built it a little bit farther back and dedicated it in 1972.   That area, which is now where the main campus of BYU is, was called Temple Hill and they built three buildings there just right along the edge of the hill. Then of course the other buildings were built later as it progressed.

Back:   So Jeff, tell us from your perspective, what is the legacy that has been left by these Academies? 

Anderson:  I recall talking with some folks who were involved with the Perpetual Education Fund.  I asked one of the fellows who was involved in that. I said, “Tell me what this does.” There were some pictures on the walls and he said, “ Let's take for example, this such-and-such a brother,  I can't remember what his name was now, but let's take, for example, this man.   He can't even afford to come to church every Sunday. He doesn't have enough money to pay the fare, to get there on Sunday. So you'd take him and you train him  to be a welder or whatever, and now he can afford to buy a car.  And not only can he afford to buy a car, but he can pick people up and drive them to church. And because he can be there every Sunday, he can now be the Branch President. So that's the impact. You change lives forever. So, incrementally you change these lives, where people can do these things.  You empower people.”  I think that our Church, thankfully, has recognized that education is so important for us. It's not necessarily for you to have a PhD.   It's important to have a vocation and be able to contribute, to be able to take care of your family and be able to then have the means that you can at least contribute.  You don't have to work so hard that you can't be an active and involved member in your Church because you're so busy trying to just keep food on the table.

Godfrey:  We see a little bit later in the book that it has that very impact for Susa Young Gates, because she's able to go, and because she's able to learn, it provides opportunities that she's going to need because she ends up needing to be able to take care of her family. So there's a great story in this very book that makes that exact point.

Anderson:   I think the Pathways Program that they've just introduced is going to be incredible. You can go online and for a nominal amount of money, you can get some really incredible education online.  I don't think we really comprehend what that's going to be. 

Godfrey:  Well Jeff, we so much appreciate you being here with us to help us understand more about the Brigham Young Academies, the stake Academies, the legacy really of these early educational programs for the Church. I would just tell our listeners, if you have not read the chapter yet, the funniest moment in the entire volume two is in this chapter. I'm just going to leave it there. It is really funny and it's one of my favorites.  And also we have this incredible scene with Brigham Young when they're dedicating a portion of the St. George Temple, which is of course the first temple finished since Nauvoo. And we'll talk about that more in a future episode. 

Back:  So there's a lot in this chapter that you can even learn more about. We just want to remind you about topics, pages that you can find more information about The United Order, Mexico,  Heber J. Grant. and of course the church academies, which we went over today.  Let us know what you think. You can always email With any questions you have or comments that you want to share with us. And if you visit our, you can access all of the chapters topics and additional videos.

And we just want to thank you so much for joining us. I'm Shalyn Back. And I'm Ben Godfrey. Thank you for listening.