27 Salt Lake 1852-1853

                                                          William Warner Major


Jill C. Major, Author

Great Salt Lake Engraving by W. W. Major - 1852



Prayer Circle 1852

Another activity that William Warner Major enjoyed was being part of a prayer circle. On May 18, 1852 Elder William I. Appleby reported to Brigham Young the names of all the members of the Monday night prayer circle. There were 26 members and it appears that this was a priesthood activity. They dressed in their temple robes, and participated in this circle in the same way we do today in the temple, except that a temple was not yet available to them. During Brigham Young's first journey to Salt Lake he became upset because of the "low, mean, dirty, trifling, covetous, wicked spirit" that he felt among the brethren. He called them to repentance and the next day, a Sunday, he gathered the leaders together, dressed in their temple robes and held a prayer circle out on the bluffs. William Clayton said they "offered up prayer to God for ourselves, this camp and all pertaining to it, the brethren in the army, our families and all the Saints."13 What great faith they had in prayer to protect, guide, and correct them!

Public Hands - July 1852

A priesthood duty performed by William Warner Major was to be part of the leadership which directed the men called the "Public Hands" or the "Public Works." Daniel H. Wells was in charge of this department. These men donated their time and talents to the work of building throughout the city. In the first years they built "a wall around the temple block, a tithing house, the Council House (used for public and political meetings), a small adobe Church office building, a public bathhouse at the warm springs just north of the city, an armory, and a bowery on Temple Square to be used for a central meeting place. A tannery and leather manufacturing establishment, gristmills, sawmills, and a foundry were built with a combination of public and private effort."14 Much of the time spent in Public Works was considered part of "tithing." In conference on September 8, 1850 Brigham Young explained the law of tithing as, "one tenth of all we possess; that is what is required of this people...when we see him ten days toiling and working, he owes the one tenth of his time and team; when he has worked nine days for himself, then let him take his team and work a day for public works."15

The public hands held their meetings in the "Old Tabernacle" which was once standing where the Assembly Hall in Temple square is now. "This building was 126 feet long by 64 feet wide, the ceiling was arched without a pillar, and capable of seating 2,200 persons..."16 So on Friday, July 30, 1852 we find Wm W. Major at yet another meeting: (Meetings, meetings meetings...that is one thing that hasn't changed from Pioneer Days!) "The public hands met in the Tabernacle G.S.L. City according to adjournment at 2 o'clock and were addressed by Heber C. Kimball, Edward Hunter, Geo. D. Watt, Edwin D. Wooley, Wm. W. Major, Orson Pratt, Brigham Young, Daniel Spencer, Truman O. Angell, Seth Taft, Wm D. Staines, Lorenzo D. Young and others. Another meeting was held in the evening at which Pres. Brigham Young gave some timely and practical instructions. He enjoined upon the brethren to pay an honest tithing and also to be honest and considerate in their labors for the church and work in unison to upbuild the community."17 Just as a matter of interest, Hosea Stout records the temperature of this day as "weather hot, 114 degrees."18 More than twelve men spoke at that meeting in that unairconditioned tabernacle. It makes one wonder how long the meeting went on and how many people enjoyed it with their eyes closed and heads nodding.

Plural marriage Officially announced - Aug 1852

It was August 29th, 1852 a Sunday. That morning Orson Pratt preached on the subject of plural wives. Hosea Stout wrote, "In the afternoon the Revelation on the subject given to Joseph on the 12th of July 1843 was publicly read for the first time to the great joy of the Saints who have looked forward so long and so anxiously for the time to come when we publicly declare the true and greatest principles of our holy religion and the great thing which God has for his people to do in this dispensation."19 It is very likely that William and Sarah were at that conference with Elizabeth Langford Trimmer Major, William Warner Jr., Joseph, and two year old Enoch. The announcement made it possible for Elizabeth to take her husband's last name publicly. The announcement was met with joy and it was certainly greeted with relief for the Major family and others who had endured great embarrassment and persecution while living this law which did not have the sanctity of a public acknowledgement by the Church.

Death of Enoch - January 1853

Death once more visited the Major family when little three year old Enoch died of "Canker" during the bitter winter, January 3, 1853. Canker caused a great deal of pain. In the autobiography of Emily Young she described her battle with this sickness: "When I was recovering from measles, I took the canker, and could not eat for a long time. I well remember the day I could eat a little custard. Oh! how good it was.20" Other accounts speak of little children crying inconsolably, leaving frantic, frightened mothers and fathers trying to comfort them. He was buried in the frozen ground of Salt Lake Cemetery.21 Sarah bore eight children, six of them didn't survive childhood. One wonders how parents could live through so much tragedy; yet, they didn't curse God, but continued on in their quiet way, working and serving the Lord.

Brother and Sister Immigrate - February 1853

Brigham Young urged all the Saints to emigrate to the Utah Territory. For example in 1852 the first presidency wrote to the Saints that remained in Iowa, "What are you waiting for? Have you any good excuse for not coming? No! you have all of you, unitedly, a far better chance than we had when we started as Pioneers to find this place: you have better teams and more of them. You have as good food and more of it; you have as much natural strength...Therefore we wish you to evacuate Pottawatamie, and the States, and next fall be with us all ye Saints of the Most high."22 As demonstrated earlier in this history, William Warner Major was a fluent letter writer. It can be assumed that he kept in contact with his brother Richard and sister Elizabeth who had remained in England. He surely implored them to follow the prophet's counsel to come to America and gather with the Saints in Utah. On 28 February 1853 John Robert Terry, and his wife, Elizabeth, (William's sister) boarded the sailing ship, "International" in Liverpool, England. John Terry was an upholsterer. Their children were Angelina, age 9, Robert, age 7, Charles, age 3, Elizabeth Frances (named for William and Elizabeth's mother Frances Constantia) age two, and John, age 6 months. Robert Terry and his wife had been "cut off" from the Church previously, but their rights must have been restored. Elder Hyde had blessed their son Charles on 20 March 1850 and later their son John also received a baby blessing on 15 August 1852. Before William's sister arrived in New Orleans, however, another event occurred.

Temple Dedication - April 1853

From the very first days the pioneers entered the valley in 1847, a temple site was designated. The destruction of the beloved temple in Nauvoo was a cause of great sorrow to the saints. They yearned for a place to do their washings, receive their endowments, be sealed to their families and perform the same work for their ancestors. Salt Lake City was laid out with the temple as the central point and everything else "perfectly square going north and south, east and west."23 Wednesday, April 6, 1853 was heralded with great rejoicing from the Saints. On that day ceremonies were held for the laying of the foundation stones of the Salt Lake Temple. Included in the celebration were three bands, a choir, and a procession of general authorities through two lines of relief guards. The high council which William Warner Major was still a member of, followed the Prophet, his counselors, the patriarch, the twelve apostles, and other leading members of the church in the procession which marched "through the line of guards to the southeast corner of the temple ground..." Then the singers took their positions in the center, the Nauvoo brass band stood on the west bank, and the martial band gathered on the mound on the southwest corner. "President Young, Kimball and Richards, with Patriarch John Smith, proceeded to lay the southeast corner stone, and ascended the top thereof" after which the choir sang and President Brigham Young addressed the crowd.24 This was the climax to the years that William Warner Major served in the High Council, because two days later, he was released.