The Diaries of Anthony Ivins

By: Mormon Heretic
February 10, 2014
Anthony Ivins

Anthony Ivins

Anthony Ivins was an LDS apostle from 1907-1934.  He was the cousin of Heber J. Grant, and served in the First Presidency with Grant from 1921-1934.  Signature Books has recently come out with Cowboy Apostle:  The Diaries of Anthony Ivins 1875-1932 (the Kindle version is only $20.)  Ivins is notable for a few reasons:  (1) a monogamist, he performed many plural marriages AFTER the 1890 Manifesto in Mexico, (2) following the Second Manifesto in 1904, he became an ardent supporter of excommunication for those who entered plural marriage, (3) he was a prominent democrat in largely republican Utah.

The book contains 8 of Ivins diaries.  The first dealt with his mission to Mexico, and contained a lot of mundane information about his travels.

{December 26, 1875; Sunday}  Bro. [Helaman] Pratt and myself went on ahead of the party to low rand of mountains to see if we could kill a deer.  That night he killed an antelope and I a fine buck.  We were till about Ten Oclock getting to where we had left our animals.  The next day the brethren came up and we moved on to Rolston [Ralston] a distance of 32 miles.  Rolston was once quite a flourishing mining [town] but now it is almost deserted.  The mines here are said to be very rich but on account of the scarcity of water and timber they have been deserted for the present.

Since I blog at Wheat and Tares, I thought this reference was a bit interesting.

{May 2, 1897; Sunday}  It is fast day.  I have spent the day arranging to go to Kaibab and gather the cattle sold to [Abram] Fotheringham and [John M.] Murdock.  They have mad[e] an advance payment of 10,000.00 and are to pay the balance as the cattle are delivered.

Fast meeting.  Testimony borne by a German, a Scotchman, a Dane, or Norweigan, an Englishman, and American.  Jesus in the exact image of his father.  Personality of God.  Saints commanded to meet in worship often.  Wheat & Tares grow together.  Keep His Commandments & teach others so to do particularly children.

There was an interesting entry concerning the change of bishopric, and it was interesting to peek inside these confidential conversations.

{Feb 9, 1899; Thursday}  …

We reached Oaxaca on the 11th stayed with Bro. Jno. [John] C. Naegle who always makes us welcome at his house.  In the evening Bishop [Frank] Scott came in and we talked with him in regards to conditions in the ward.

There is a strong feeling against Bishop Scott and his counselors, Bros. N[athan] H. Terry and J[ames] H. Langford and looks to us as though the ward will have to be reorganized.

{Feb 12, 1899; Sunday}  …

In the evening a priesthood meeting was held at which the brethren present were asked to express themselves regarding the bishoprick.  P[atrick] C. Haynie first spoke.  He thought there should either be a change of policy or a change in the Bishoprick.

D. C. Naegle thought a change in the bishoprick would be beneficial but would sustain the existing administration if retained.  Bro Clemens would sustain the bishoprick but thought there should be a change in policy.

F[ranklin] D. Haymore could not sustain under the circumstances. James Mortensen could not sustain the bishoprick.

E[missiah] S[age] Nichols could sustain the bishoprick.  Was satisfied with them.

…[he documents many other comments]

The next day’s entry seems to document what the issues were.

{February 13, 1899; Monday}  Bro. [Helaman] Pratt and I met the bishoprick at Bishop [Frank] Scott’s.  The following questions were propounded and answered.

Where public roads go through private lands should the owner of the land be reimbursed.  Answer.  Private parties should not refuse to permit necessary public roads through their lands, but where damage is done the owner of the land should be reimbursed.

Is it the right of the Bishoprick to call boy[s] together and counsel them to observe the rules of good order which govern in the colonies.  Yes.  Not only the right, but is their duty.

Should ward teachers visit families who have no recommends and have not been received as members of the ward.  Yes.

Should dancing parties be permitted in private houses.  Dancing in private homes should be discouraged, but if people insist in having parties in their houses it cannot be prevented.

{entry continues}

We returned to Oaxaca and in the evening held meeting with a large attendance.  Before meeting I met Pres Jones and Adrian Haymore and advised them to attend this meeting and make acknowledgment of their wrong doing and ask the forgiveness of the people for it.  This they did and were freely forgiven by the people.

I then announced that Bishop Scott had tendered his resignation.  I referred  to his long and faithful service as bishop.  His resignation was accepted.

Bro. Pratt talked to the people after which slips of paper were distributed among the brethren and each was requested to write the name of the man he prefered for bishop.  The ballots were collected and I looked them over.

The results was a follows. [Ivins lists results.  George C. Naegle earns 16 of 35 votes.  Three other men received 3 votes.]

It being evident that George C. Naegle was the choice of the better element of the ward I asked all who would sustain him as bishop to manifest it.  The vote was una[ni]mous.

Bro Naegle not being present Peter C. Dillman was appointed to take charge of the ward until an organization could be effected.

It was quite interesting to me to see a vote on the new bishop.  Is that how new bishops are called now?

There are some other interesting stories, and it is interesting to hear me Ivins discuss meeting with other apostles.  One of the biggest treasure troves of information was the appendixes.  As I mentioned earlier, Anthony Ivins was a well-respected monogamist, and following the 1890 Manifesto, he thought polygamy was gone.  However, when called to be a mission president in Mexico, he was asked to perform plural marriages.  Appendix A details these marriages.  Among those for plural marriages were Mitt Romney’s ancestors.  Miles Archibald Romney was sealed to Francis Turley on September 25, 1898.  Less than a month later, he was sealed to Lilly Burrell on October 23, 1898.  Both ceremonies were performed in Colonia Juarez.  Sixty sealings were documented, the last between Heber Erastus Farr and Rosemilda Ranguelda Bleuth married on March 29, 1904.

Appendix B contains an essay by H. Grant Ivins the discusses “Polygamy in Mexico as Practiced by the Mormon Church 1895-1905.”  Grant Ivins was the son of Anthony, and it was written in 1970.  This is the type of book that will probably be attractive to scholars more than the general public, but if you’re into that sort of thing, this will be an interesting addition to your book collection.

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15 Responses to The Diaries of Anthony Ivins

  1. Hedgehog on February 10, 2014 at 3:45 AM

    I read an interesting acount somewhere – one of those detailing the early organisational history of the priesthood – where an EQ took a vote to skip the boring part of the meeting next time, which was passed (I got the impression it was a lesson element they wanted to skip).

    “Bro. Pratt talked to the people after which slips of paper were distributed among the brethren and each was requested to write the name of the man he prefered for bishop.”
    It sounds as though there were only men present at the meeting to vote for Bishop, or at least only the men got to vote. Somewhat amusing that the winning candidate wasn’t even present. Also, interesting that the previous Bishop is described as having resigned.

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  2. Mormon Heretic on February 10, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    I agree Hedgehog. With this secret ballot, it is a much more interesting form of “common consent” than we have now, which is just a rubber stamp of whomever is picked as bishop.

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  3. Bitherwack on February 10, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    What a fascinating find! My great grandparents were married polygamously by Pres. Ivins in Juarez in 1902. Their home was where the Juarez temple is now.

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  4. John Willis on February 10, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    My gg grandfather was John Conrad Neagle . This is the man that Ivins stayed with. Daniel Conrad Neagle was his son and my great gradfather. George Conrad Neagle who ended up as the Bishop was J.C. Neagle’s son by a diferent wife than Daniel Conrad Neage.

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  5. hawkgrrrl on February 10, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    Very interesting. I have no Mormon ancestors, so not going to name drop, but I found the process on the bishop to be interesting: no stigma (in fact seemingly the norm) for a bishop to “resign” when he was ready, and then the process to select a new one.

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  6. New Iconoclast on February 10, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    no stigma (in fact seemingly the norm) for a bishop to “resign” when he was ready, and then the process to select a new one.

    Maybe I’m conflating two different cases here, but I saw it as him resigning when it was clear that he’d lost the confidence of the congregation. I do find the open comments about members’ opinions and loss of confidence pretty amazing. I can’t imagine anyone having that kind of frank discussion about a bishopric today.

    Of course, it was a small, tight-knit community; most of those men were probably not only neighbors but intimately connected with one another in business and daily affairs to an extent which would be almost unthinkable in any but the smallest of Utah towns today. I know that I certainly don’t know any of the men in my ward well enough to pass judgment on them like that, although there might be a few about whom I have my doubts. ;)

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  7. Marianne Hansen on February 11, 2014 at 12:12 AM

    My grandfather was George C. Naegle, (wife, Jennie Jameson) and my great-grandfather was John C. Naegle. This was an interesting article and mention of Emmesiah Nichols
    caught my eye, as I just finished Jennie’s history. In it she mentions that during the flood of 1906 in Mexico, all the men had gone on a cattle drive and only young boys and old men were left. She refers to Emmesiah Nichols as an old man who helped her get things out of her house and to dry ground, but when she looked back he was gone and she hoped he hadn’t gotten swept away. Quite a story about that flood. She remembered the tithing chest that Bishop George had but she couldn’t go back and get it, then when the waters receded some, she found it high in a tree and nothing was wet. She had put it in a cradle with baby clothes for her infant, and everything was dry.

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  8. Mormon Heretic on February 11, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    There was another entry in his diary about a question of the bishopric, but in the second case, the bishopric was retained. It was interesting to me to hear that people had a voice about the bishopric. It doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, although maybe we have more power than we think.

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  9. New Iconoclast on February 11, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    Good question, MH. Has anyone ever, for good reason (other than sheer bloody-mindedness, that is) raised a hand in opposition to a sustaining? That’s not a rhetorical question; I’m seriously asking if anyone has done it or seen it done and what the results were.

    Certain it is that if a ward as a whole decided to cease following a bishop, that would probably result in his release. There would probably be some kind of investigation to find out the reason for the discontent. A number of years before my time, in my current area, there was a bishop with some strange investment ideas who frankly swindled a number of ward members out of significant amounts of cash. The impression I get from the scanty details I’ve heard is that it seriously upset the function of the ward, and resulted in his release (although not in actual discipline, apparently).

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  10. Jeff Spector on February 11, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    I think that if a group of people, men and/or women, went to the Stake President with a legitimate issue with the bishop, they would be heard and if warranted, action would be taken. I know people have stories where things didn’t happen, but I think a reason good reason would be considered.

    That’s what seemed to have happened here.

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  11. Jeff S. on February 11, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    I’m currently reading D. Michael Quinn’s book “Elder Statesman”. From that, I gather that Utah was largely Democratic in the 1920s-30s. In fact, President Grant was upset that 70% of the state supported FDR’s “New Deal”.

    From what I’ve been able to find, it seems that the Republican party really gained it’s current status in the church and in Utah in the 70s and 80s.

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  12. New Iconoclast on February 11, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    I’m not surprised by that, Jeff, although I hadn’t heard it before. I can think of two things that would reinforce that tendency – first, the Republican party was the main driver behind the anti-polygamy movement, starting all the way back with the “twin relics of barbarism” plank in the first (1856) Republican presidential platform. Second, the unfriendly Civil War-era and post-Civil War-era governments were largely Republican-controlled; during the war, at least some Federal officials continued to see the LDS as possible Confederate sympathizers. Third, a great number of Utahns were rural farmers, and while the bankers and businessmen of Salt Lake City might have been Republicans, farm folk were far more likely to have been in favor of Democratic policies that favored agriculture and opposed tight money and strict banking laws. Folks were voting their wallets, and if you owned a farm in Sanpete in 1934, I’ll bet the “evils of the dole” looked pretty good to you, compared to slow starvation.

    Morrill, Poland, Edmunds, Shelby Moore Cullom (my cousin), and other prominent leaders of the anti-polygamy, anti-Mormon movement were generally Republicans (although Tucker was a Virginia Democrat). It bears remembering that the parties have nearly switched places since 1860; the Dems used to be the conservative party and the Republicans the radicals. By 1930, that was nearly the other way around.

    I’d guess that modern Mormonism’s seemingly solid attachment to the republican party is a reaction to the Vietnam era and the association of Democratic politics with the anit-patriotic, anti-war movement. Heaven knows it didn’t have anything to do with the rise of large government, or the GW Bush administration would have driven Mormons out of the Republican party en masse.

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  13. charlie on February 11, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    ” Is that how new bishops are called now?” No, Today stake presidents fill out a form with the name of the man he recommends. The form includes backup choices or others who could be called too. An area presidency or a president of the seventy in the US reviews and signs off on the choice before the first presidency really rubber stamps the choice. In practical terms it is really the area presidency who approve a bishop after reviewing the stake pres recommendation. Same for counselors in the stake presidency if they are changed after a president is called at conference by a general authority.

    Before filling in the form (available on stakes mls system or online in some areas) the stake pres usually asks for a report on the member from church headquarters in the US or the Area elsewhere. That reports lists all past addresses, phones etc and any church disciplinary actions in the past, like a recorded disfellowshipment or excommunication, rebaptism and the reasons. The stake presidency are suppose to use that to review the members background to see if he could serve as bishop. But if for example someone was excommunicated for child related matters or polygamy the Area or HQ will never approve them. Someone disciplined for embezzlement wouldn’t be called either. I suppose there are stake presidents who don’t worry about background reports so I guess that is why the church has these processes in place. But someone who may have been excommunicated as a young person, rejoined and has been faithful for years may be called. But some stake presidents don’t risk that either because it could look bad on them and maybe even ruin their chances of reaching general authority levels so the result is that you see a lot of young men or converts of 5 years or so called as bishops because they haven’t had time to get themselves excommunicated or run afoul of HQ and church security!

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  14. Douglas on February 11, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    #13 – it depends upon the SP. I know of several bishops who at one time “ran afoul” (but methinks it was their own sincere desire to repent that got them disciplinary action, not some over-arching effort on the part of the “Boys in Salt Lake” as you seem to insinuate) and nevertheless not only were rebaptized (or otherwise restored to full membership) and had their blessings restored but in time became bishops, high councilmen, and members of Stake Presidencies.

    AFAIK, the Church does NOT keep a dossier that would reveal the “dirt” on any member’s life, SAVE if he/she had done something grievious of a sexual nature (implying molestation or similar) which would preclude that member working with children or the youth. Even in those cases, AFAIK, details as to the offense are not included, merely a “do not call…”. Methinks, you’re confused about the Church and its procedures. Certainly a SP will thoroughly interview prospective candidates for a bishop’s slot, but the gory details simply aren’t there in the man’s file. Nor does a man having had issues in his past (failed marriage, adultery, or simple voluntary resignation) constitute a “show-stopper” that precludes being called to a high position. It seems to be forgotten that inspiration plays a part, as I’ve found out for myself, and I can sincerely testify that any bishop/SP that I’ve had dealings with, even those that I didn’t like or did not agree with actions, were in fact called of God.

    But you’re right in that SOME SPs will consider even a “youthful” indiscretion as FOREVER “tainted”. Again, it’s their perrogative, though methinks it betrays the concept of repentance by relegating to second-class status (e.g., akin to an 18 y.o. kid found guilty of passing a bad check being forever branded a “dangerous” felon) anyone that screws up. A part of picking our leaders from the male half of the human race.

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  15. Mormon Heretic on February 11, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    Certainly the republican and democratic parties have changed some opposite positions. From reading the intro (I haven’t read the entries yet), Ivins was quite opposed to Senator and fellow Apostle Reed Smoot (a republican.) Smoot espoused taxes and tariffs, which seem more at home with the current Democratic party. Ivins also complained that the Deseret News published republican rhetoric (not much seems to have changed there.)

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