The Church Historian's Press

January 1886

Events in George Q. Cannon’s journal for 1886

1 January

Thoughts on being in hiding

16 January

Conversation with President John Taylor about securing “a place in Mexico to which our people could go who were persecuted”

17 January ff.

Changing hiding places

8 February

Newspaper articles on searches for Presidents John Taylor and Cannon

11 February

Newspaper article on Cannon as “an object of hatred to those who want to force the ‘Mormon’ people to forsake their religion”

15 February ff.

Newspaper articles on the capture of Cannon

23 February

Newspaper article about District Attorney Dickson being assaulted by son Hugh Cannon

27 February

Efforts to escape to Mexico

28 February

President Taylor’s plan to call on mining shares to cover anticipated costs to Cannon

3 March ff.

Newspaper articles about District Attorney Dickson’s raids

8 March

Apparent conspiracy by Utah governor Eli H. Murray and others “to destroy the liberties of the people of the teritory”

11 March

Met by his family, who expressed “sympathy and manifestations of grief”

17 March

“The day which had been fixed for my appearance in Court under penalty of a forfeiture of $4500000/ bonds”

18 March ff.

Newspaper articles about “President George Q. Cannon’s non-appearance in court and the rage of those who had planned for his destruction”

3 April

An epistle of the First Presidency to be read on 6 April 1886

12 April

Responses to the “outrageous bonds” required of Cannon

19 April

“Dictated the following petition to be signed by our citizens”

24 April

Payment “to prevent action on the Edmunds bill”

30 April ff.

Response to changes by Truman O. Angell in the plans for the Salt Lake temple

3 May

Another response to Angell’s changes in the plans

11 May

View in article in the Salt Lake Tribune that Cannon is “a sort of a monster”

4 June ff.

Life in the “underground”

15 June

“It seems as though all hell is combined to destroy us. . . . But we leave this, as we do so many other things, to the Lord.”

2 July ff.

“President Taylor and myself had conversation respecting the Bullion, Beck and Champion Mining Comp. affairs. . . . To me the whole affair is very vexatious.”

14 July

“President Taylor felt uneasy in our present quarters. . . . He has concluded to move this evening.”

19 July

“Synopsis of a discourse said to have been delivered by Elder Moses Thatcher at Lewiston, Cache Valley

3 August

“A deed was signed to day for an acre of land on the Laie plantation on the Sandwish Islands.”

8 August

Response at Cannon home to son John Q. Cannon noticing “a carriage with four men in it, coming down the back lane”

9 August ff.

“The affairs of the Bullion, Beck and Champion Mining Comp. are in an almost desperate condition.”

19 August

Counsel given to two stake presidents to go into British Columbia and form a settlement there

5 September ff.

Large rewards offered for leading to the capture of Cannon

22 September

Reflections on his strength in the Lord while in Congress

23 September

Escape from capture; management of farm property

13 October

“It is worse than folly to have recourse to a tangled web of deceit or falsehood.

23 October

Counsel regarding a proposal to withdraw from the church in order to vote

31 October

“It has been a very strong wish with me that I might live and be useful in helping to bring to pass the reign of truth and righteousness.”

3 November

Moved to avoid being caught in a raid

9 November ff.

More conflicts regarding the Bullion, Beck and Champion Mining Company

20 November

Response to sons John Q. and Hugh’s dreams of his being captured

22 November

Went to “new stopping place—the house of Bro. T. F. Roueche”

9 December

“We had a scare in the middle of the day, which furnished some amusement after it was over.”

10 December

More conflict with John Beck

15 December

“The sad news reached us to day of the shooting of Bro. E. M. Dalton of Parowan by U. S. Deputy Marshal Wm Thompson, jur, of Beaver, an apostate.”

1 January 1886 • Friday

Friday, January 1st, 1886.

1886 dawns upon us finding us in peculiar circumstances. Two of the First Presidency are compelled to hide from the gaze of the public and to observe the utmost secrecy about their movements and their dwelling places, because of the vigilance of their enemies and their determination to get them into their power. The other member of the Council — Prest. Joseph F. Smith — is on the islands of the Pacific Ocean, laboring in the ministry. Though compelled to conceal his identity from white people generally, he doubtless enjoys his labors, and especially the freedom of action which is denied to us here. Nevertheless, it is a great deprivation for him to be so far from his brethren with whom he is so intimately associated and from his family. The wisdom of our course in thus keeping out of the way of our enemies, I think, is clearly demonstrated. If they had us in their power, they would deprive us of all opportunity of using any influence with the people, or of magnifying the offices which God has caused us to fill. From the beginning of this persecution it seemed very clear to me that it was the duty of myself and brethren to keep out of the way hands of these wicked people. I still have that spirit and am clear in my mind that the Lord does not require us to yield ourselves into their hands. I regret exceedingly when I hear, therefore, of any of the brethren being captured; for I think it only tends to intensify the hatred which already exists against us. Some who are not strong in the faith have said that they thought the leading men ought to come out and endure all the penalties of the law; but they know not the spirit of those who are executing the law when they make such remarks, or they would not indulge in them, unless, indeed, they wished to see the leaders destroyed and the work of God checked. The spirit that our persecutors have is very similar to that which the persecutors of the Saints had in Missouri and Illinois. It is the same spirit which caused the blood of the prophet and patriarch of God to flow, and which drenched the ground with the blood of President Taylor. Though in some respects unpleasant, yet our confinement has not been irksome to me. I have enjoyed myself exceedingly during this period. The Spirit of God has rested down upon me in power, and I have never felt to draw nearer to Him and to exercise more faith in Him than I have during this period. For this I am exceedingly thankful. I have exceeding great joy, also, in my family. The visits that I have made to them have been peculiarly interesting to all of us. There has been a tenderness of feeling in my heart towards my wives and children greater than I ever knew before. I believe that they have felt the same towards me — at least, they have shown it in their demeanor and in the spirit they have manifested. Our meetings have been exceedingly profitable and the Spirit of God has been manifested in power. I have had opportunities of instructing my family such as I have never had before in my life. My public duties have always been of so absorbing a character that I have found but little time to meet with and instruct my own household. But since our withdrawal from the sight of the public I have been deprived of the opportunity of meeting with the Saints in public, and consequently I have had more time, when I thought it safe, to meet with and instruct my own household. This duty has been deeply impressed upon me and I felt great happiness in attending to it. I trust the fruits of my labors will reward us all in the future correct conduct of my family and in their devotion to the principles of the Gospel.

We spent this day very quietly. We felt that it was a good day to enjoy as a holiday. President Taylor and myself spent the morning in conversation. In the afternoon I was engaged in reading.

2 January 1886 • Saturday

Saturday, Jan. 2/86. Prest. Taylor and myself listened to the reading of the correspondence by Bro. Nuttall; after which I dictated answers to him. In the evening Bro. D. R. Bateman took me to my residence on the Jordan.

3 January 1886 • Sunday

Sunday, Jan. 3/86. I spent the day very agreeably with my family. Held Sunday School and meeting with them, as I usually do. Bro. Bateman called for me in the evening and took me to our quarters. My brother Angus joined us in the evening. The weather is quite cold.

4 January 1886 • Monday

Monday, Jan. 4/85. Attended to our usual duties and I dictated correspondence as usual. In the evening Prest. Woodruff and Bro. M. Thatcher were brought to our residence by Bro. Samuel Bateman, we having made an appointment with them for the purpose of conversing upon correspondence which had been had between us upon the subject of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Associations. As this conversation was a lengthy and important one, I will not attempt to give it here. I dictated a report of it to Bro. John Nuttall, who has recorded it in the Office journal, and, if necessary reference can be made to it there. It resulted, I may say, however, in a better understanding than would have been possible by written correspondence alone. The brethren had misunderstood our views and we felt that it was necessary that they should have a correct view. As Bro. Thatcher was about to leave with Bro. Preston for south, they returned <to the City> this evening.

5 January 1886 • Tuesday

Tuesday, Jan. 5/86. President Taylor and myself this morning, conversed about the propriety of Bro. M. Thatcher going to Washington to assist Bro. Caine and to use what influence he could with prominent men. We decided to send for him to come out this evening. After this we attended to correspondence and the usual business; after which we conversed upon the organization of the Legislature. The time for its meeting is next Monday and we felt that something should be done towards designating the presiding officers. After going through the names we both felt that Bro. Elias A. Smith would be a proper man to preside over the Council and Bro. W. W. Riter over the house. Bro. Abraham Abram Hatch in the House was the oldest member, but we did not feel that he was a safe man to be elected as Speaker. There is too much of a disposition to yield to the outside world, to be pliant in regard to its demands, and not have that stern, unflinching integrity and determination respecting important issues in which principle is involved that is required in a man holding that position. He had exhibited a lamentable lack of these qualities at the last Legislature. James Sharp, also, who was the last Speaker of the House, and now a member of the Council, was very similar in this respect, and we felt that he would be unsuitable to preside over the Council. President Taylor desired me to converse with these brethren — Bros. Smith and Riter — respecting these positions, and it was decided that I should go into the City this evening and stay tomorrow for that purpose; also see Bro. F. S. Richards respecting legal matters. Bro. Preston accompanied Bro. Thatcher to visit us this evening and Prest. Taylor and myself conversed with him about Church business, and also with Bro. Thatcher about going to Washington. When they returned to the City I accompanied them.

6 January 1886 • Wednesday

Wednesday, Jan. 6/86. I attended to considerable business in town today and was detained so late that I did not reach our quarters till ½ past 1 in the morning, and then returned in a snowstorm.

7 January 1886 • Thursday

Thursday, Jan. 7/85. This being Fast day we held our usual meeting. All the brethren spoke but myself. I felt very much impressed to pray, and did so. President Taylor and myself conversed over the situation of affairs and it was thought better for me to go in town again tonight and stay tomorrow to complete arrangements respecting Legislative matters and other matters.

8 January 1886 • Friday

Friday, Jan. 8/86. I was very busily engaged all day and in the evening returned, accompanied by Bro. B. Young.

9 January 1886 • Saturday

Saturday, Jan. 9/86. After breakfast this morning I was attacked with bilious colic and was very sick today, also the next day.

10 January 1886 • Sunday

Sunday, Jan. 10/86. Bro. Nuttall gave me an emetic. I took some medicine also to purge my bowels. I attended to dictating correspondence, but it was in considerable pain. A letter was written to Bro. Moses Thatcher giving him the privilege of returning home. This was in consequence of representations made by Bro. F. S. Richards of the danger that Bro. Thatcher would be in if he were to go there <to Washington>; he would almost sure to be arrested, &c. There were reasons today for believing that some persons had suspicions that we were here. A man who had been seen yesterday around, watching, and who had perceived some of the brethren, came around again today, accompanied by his father-in-law, an apostate. It was decided it would be wise to change quarters this evening. As tomorrow is my birthday and I had promised my family to spend the day with them if it were possible, I decided, though I was very sick, that instead of going to the new quarters, I would go to my residence. Bro. Bateman took me there. We traveled on the other side of the river to avoid observation and called at my son John Q’s to learn from him whether he thought it safe.

11 January 1886 • Monday

Monday, Jan. 11/86. I had but poor health all day. All my children but one (H. Clawson) were present. I spent a very quiet day during the fore part, and in the evening, after the folks got together, I had a very happy time. We had a most excellent dinner. The only one not of our family who was present was Bro. Bateman, who was my guard; and in the evening the children sang and they performed an operetta, all of which I enjoyed very much. Abraham made me a present of a dressing case. <Rose Annie> brought me a present of a writing tablet<s> that could easily be changed when they were filled; and William made me a present, and several others.

In the evening I returned to our <new> quarters at Bro. John Carlisle’s.

12 January 1886 • Tuesday

Tuesday, Jan. 12/86. My health was better this morning, and as correspondence had accumulated, I was kept busy nearly the whole of the day, dictating answers to Bro. John Nuttall.

13 January 1886 • Wednesday

Wednesday, Jan. 13/86. Busy as usual today. Prest. Taylor and myself conversed over the situation of affairs, and in view of the Edmunds law having passed the Senate, we thought it advisable that every precaution should be taken to secure our property against the spoliation contemplated in that atrocious measure. He desired me to go to town and attend to that, and also to arrange for a meeting in caucus with the members of the Legislature to give them some instructions respecting their position and the duties they owed to the community, &c. I met with Bros. F. S. Richards, Erastus Snow, F. D. Richards and H. J. Grant and conversed fully over all the matters that Prest. Taylor and myself had talked about, and arranged for a caucus to be held next Monday evening of the members of the Legislature. It was nearly one o’clock when we got through and about two when we reached our quarters.

14 January 1886 • Thursday

Thursday, Jan. 14/86. President Taylor and myself again conversed about the business that is pressing upon us in connection with securing our property against attack. I described to him the tenor of our conversation last night and the suggestions that had been made, and he desired that I should submit these questions to the Twelve, who were assistant <counselors>, and a majority of whom were now in the city; and also to get their views as to the distribution of property and their action as to the winding up of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Co. I met with nine of the brethren of the Twelve at the house of Prest. Jos. F. Smith. There were present: Prest. W. Woodruff, Erastus Snow, F. D. Richards, Brigham Young, Moses Thatcher, F. M. Lyman, John H. Smith, Heber J. Grant and John W. Taylor. I laid before them the business, which was discussed very fully. They thought the plan that we had adopted was a wise one and voted for it accordingly; also took votes as to the settling up of the P. E. Fund business, and made suggestions as to the distribution of the personalty for the establishing of denominational schools in various parts of the Territory. Though I crowded the business as much as possible it was nearly 12 o’clock when we got through and about one when we reached our place.

15 January 1886 • Friday

Friday, Jan. 15/86. I felt badly all day today, though much better than I expected in view of my exposure so much of late at night and the little sleep I had had yesterday morning. Prest. Taylor administered to me and I felt greatly benefited all day by it. Last evening I was administered to by the Twelve before we separated. I reported to Prest. Taylor the result of our Council last night. In the evening Prest. Taylor drove to Bro. John R. Winder’s, accompanied by the other brethren, to meet his daughter Leonora. I thought it not advisable to go, as I was not well.

16 January 1886 • Saturday

Saturday, Jan. 16/86. I felt much better this morning and attended to correspondence and other business. Had considerable conversation with Prest. Taylor respecting our affairs. I have been lately impressed with the idea that if we could secure a place in Mexico to which our people could go who were persecuted, it would be an event that would be of advantage to us. It seems to me that our remaining as we are, every victim that is secured only adds fuel to the flame of persecution that is already burning so fiercely. The country seems to care nothing about the methods that are being used here in this Territory, so long as they result in what they think to be the destruction of our hated institution, polygamy. Even our friends, who consider that all these measures are wrong, still do not feel to say much, so long as polygamy is being stricken down. They think if that can be extirpated we will be a very good people, and that our enemies cannot object to us. They look upon this treatment as what may be called heroic treatment, and are opposed to it in <their> feelings; but in view of the ends to be accomplished they do not feel to protest much about the means that are being used. I have felt that if our people could get out of the way — that is, those of them who are liable to attack — there would be no victims for the persecution to feed upon. The government would soon see that we were not in a corner without any possibility of escape, and it has seemed to me that it would produce relief. Our friends could say — especially those who have an anxiety for Utah becoming a State — that polygamy was driven out of Utah and Utah should be admitted as a State. I talked this very fully with President Taylor today, as I have done before, and he seemed disposed to take the same view, and thought that means might be expended advantageously in Mexico in purchasing a place of refuge. He thought I had better go to the City this evening, meet with the Twelve again, and lay before them the condition of affairs, and also have them furnished <with> a list of the property and let them work at distributing it according to their views. Of course, we as the First Presidency, could revise itwhat they did, or disapprove of it, as we might see fit. We talked over the matter very fully and we agreed that the subject should be presented to the Twelve in plainness, that they might see the effects that would follow this division of the property. I met with them at the Co-operative Institution this evening, and we had a very lengthy conversation and much of the Spirit of the Lord was with us, and I think that they got a better idea of the views of the First Presidency upon this subject than they had had.

I also attended a meeting of the Directors of Z. C. M. I., being the first Board meeting I had attended within a year. My presence was necessary in order to secure a quorum. Bro. William Jennings died yesterday. He is Vice-President of the Institution. Upon my motion Horace S. Eldredge was elected Vice President, and Wm W. Riter elected as Director to fill the vacancy in the board.

It was after 2 o’clock when I reached my residence, to which I was driven by Bro. Phil. Carlisle, accompanied by Bro. Samuel Bateman.

I learned this evening that Bro. Lorenzo Snow had been sentenced today to 18 months imprisonment and $90000/ fine and the costs of Court, but as he had appealed his case to the Supreme Court, he was allowed bail of $500000/ for each indictment, making a total of $15,00000/. I was much gratified to learn that bail had been granted to him pending the appeal. Bro. Snow read written remarks to the Court before he was sentenced.

17 January 1886 • Sunday

Sunday, Jan. 17/86. The exciting conversations of last night left me with little desire to sleep, and though it was ½ past 2 when I retired, I had but little sleep.

Bro. Arthur Winter came down to my residence and I dictated “Editorial Thoughts”, “Topics of the Times”, and my journal to him.

Through sickness and other causes I have not kept a daily record of events for several weeks and therefore write in narrative form the principal events that have occurred during the period.

After my visit home on the 17th I returned to the place where we were stopping, my health being in a very poor condition.

On Wednesday, 20th, we got word that gave us considerable uneasiness and caused us to conclude that we were could not longer stay where we were with any safety. The information which reached us was that the Marshal and his deputies had obtained a clue to our stopping place. The day was a windy, stormy one, and the evening was still more unpleasant. My brother Angus had visited us and was with us at the time we debated upon the propriety of moving and the place to which we should move. There is a place at Draper, which is 18 miles distant, that it was thought we might reach and be accommodated. My feelings were averse to going in this direction, though I did not express them. A violent south wind was blowing, the roads were in a wretched condition, and none of us knew exactly which was the best road, and the people were entirely unprepared for our reception. These considerations, with my condition of health, — which was very wretched, for I could scarcely hold my head up — caused me to lean towards going to the city. Finally, President Taylor concluded that we would go there, and my brother Angus went ahead to see Bro Frank Armstrong, and learn from him whether we could be accommodated at his residence. We followed him and reached the place and received a warm welcome. I was glad to get into comfortable quarters again, for I had ridden with considerable pain and could scarcely hold my head up. That night my brother Angus and myself slept together and I passed a very miserable time. The next night Bros. Nuttall and Wilcken exchanged rooms with me, the room which they occupied being more convenient for me than the one I had.

Until the next Friday but one (Jan. 29th) I was in a miserable condition for me. My pain was constant, and I did not sleep well, and I grew weaker every day. I attended to the dictation of correspondence as well as I could, though there was business which ought to have been attended to that was postponed in consequence of my illness. I sent word to my family that I desired them to have a day of fasting and prayer, and Friday, the 29th, was selected for that purpose. I found myself improve under the administration of the elders at that time, and I continued to get better. Our last host was exceedingly kind. He had an electric battery with the operation of which he was very familiar, and he gave me, once a day, this electric treatment, which he had found to be of great benefit to himself in a serious illness that he had. I believe it did me a great deal of good. I had the Elders adminiister to me frequently, also, and derived benefit every time from their administrations; but about the time that my family fasted and prayed I noticed a marked change for the better when administered to. Our residence at this house was very well managed; but there was one girl (a stranger, whose mother had requested our host to take care of her while she made a visit,) <who> was exceedingly prying and curious and had succeeded in discovering something in relation to us, and she had become angry at some reproofs which our hostess had given her and had gone off to her brother-in-law’s house — an apostate. We consulted on this matter and became satisfied that a longer stay here was unsafe. Much to the regret of our host and hostess, as well as to our own regret — for we were very comfortably situated — we determined to change our quarters. This we did on the evening of Monday, the 8th of February. The night was a very dark one and we drove in silence through the unfrequented streets of the city to our new place, which Bro. Wilcken had secured for us during the evening. We met a warm reception from Brother Alfred Solomon, and his family, who made us welcome and as comfortable as we could expect. About this time the following placard was issued:

[Poster glued to page of journal]

[Photo of George Q. Cannon]

$500.00 R E W A R D !

I will pay the above reward to any person for information leading to the arrest of


against whom an indictment is pending in the Third District Court of Utah.

All information, and the names of those furnishing the same, will be held in the strictest confidence.

E. A. IRELAND, U. S. Marshal


About 55 years old; about 5 feet 8 inches in height; hair very gray; full chin whiskers, gray; no mustache; full round face; heavy build; walks very straight. The Photograph attached is a very good likeness.

[Handwritten on bottom:]

Salt Lake City U. T.


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January 1886, The Journal of George Q. Cannon, accessed June 13, 2024