The Church Historian's Press

July 1898

June–July 1898 • Summary of events

I shall be under the necessity of summarizing now several weeks’ journal, as I have been very sick, and have for some time laid all business aside; but for two or three weeks past I have come to the office and done some business, though I have felt disinclined to devote myself to any steady work.

I left Washington on Friday, (June 3rd) after seeing the President, and came by the Pennsylvania R.R. to Chicago, and by the Chicago & Northwestern and the Union Pacific home.

I visited the office immediately, and found Presidents Woodruff and Smith well.

The next morning I went to Provo and attended a meeting of the Grand Central Mining Co.

I have mentioned what Dr. Crook has said about having the diabetes. I have had my urine analyzed a number of times since my return, and not a trace of sugar can be found. Those who have analyzed it have assured me that there was not the slightest trace of diabetes – of which I was very certain myself. I dieted several weeks, and it became very tiresome and inconvenient, and I returned to my regular diet.

I have spent a great deal of my time at Saltair. I made arrangements to stay there at night whenever I wished, and most of my nights have been spent there. I took a bath every morning before breakfast; and when I had to come to town I arranged to have a special train take me in about 9 o’clock.

My family have felt deep sympathy for me and have done everything in their power to make me comfortable. I am thankful for so kind and loving a family. Each wife vied with the other in willingness to do anything for me, and my sons and daughters were all as kind as they could be. My wife Carlie stayed with me at Saltair and devoted herself to my comfort, though she had to neglect her other duties to do so.

On the 29th of June I went to the Temple (the first time I had been out to perform any public duty) and married my daughter Rosannah to Alonzo Blair Irvine, and we had a family dinner, at which all our immediate family were present and all his immediate family. There were some 80 persons sat down to the first table, and I do not know how many afterwards, as all the children and friends around ate dinner. We had a most excellent meal and a very enjoyable time. I felt much gratified at this wedding, as from all I hear of Alonzo he is in every way worthy of my daughter.

On Wednesday, July 20th, I had a grandson born. My son William’s wife Adah was safely delivered of a very fine boy. We were all delighted at her safe deliverance, and I telegraphed the news to William.

On the eighth day I blessed the baby, and he was given the name of William Tenney Cannon.

For some years now I have been greatly exercised over my connection with Cannon, Grant & Co. I have been continually urging upon the brethren who are interested in that the necessity of a settlement. It is a partnership organization, and if there should be any trouble, each partner is held for the whole. I have subscribed the most towards this partnership, and have paid the most, and indifference of many of the members of this organization has frightened me. A number of them have not paid one dollar towards their subscription, and the losses that we have had have fallen and are likely to fall upon the others. Before my son Abraham died I urged him very earnestly to try and see if he could not arrange some plan for a settlement and a dissolution of the partnership. He worked at it, and I thought there was a fair prospect of getting a settlement before he died; but his death put an end to that. However, at one of our meetings, when the subject of our debts came up, Abraham proposed that he and I should take $100,000 of the notes of the Company, with the collateral there was on the notes. This proposition startled me, and I enquired of him how he expected to do it. He said that if I would give him my credit he could do it. There was one note for $65,000 held by the New York Security & Trust Co., which we are being pressed for, and Abraham[’]s proposition was to take up that note and the remaining $35,000 in other notes, borrow the money, and have us two carry the amount. I was willing that this should be done in view of the pressure that was being brought to bear upon us by the New York Security & Trust Co. and their refusal to extend the note. The collateral that was on all these notes amounted (at the valuation which Cannon, Grant & Co. placed upon it) to nearly $137,000 – the exact figures, $136.320. In order to make this transaction satisfactory to Cannon, Grant & Co., we had to raise $36,320 in cash and pay the Company that amount, that being the amount in excess of the face of the notes. In other words, it might be said that we bought these $100,000 of notes and the collateral and gave $136,320 for them. We paid Cannon, Grant & Co. the $36,320, and assumed the notes, thus relieving Cannon, Grant & Co. of that amount, and it was a very great relief at the time. The collateral we took consisted of shares in Zion’s Co-operative Mercantile Institution at $100 per share, shares in Zion’s Savings Bank & Trust Co. at $140 per share, and shares in the Home Fire Insurance Co. at $80 per share. I may say at this point that the shares in Z.C.M.I. increased in value, so that now they are about $112 or $113 a share; but the shares in Zion’s Savings Bank depreciated, and you cannot sell that stock now for more than $120 a share. There was a loss, therefore, of over $20 on the Zion’s Savings Bank stock, and a gain of $12 or $13 on each share of Z.C.M.I. After Abraham’s death, when I came to look into the business, I found that he had not succeeded in securing the loan of $100,000 at a low rate of interest with which to pay these notes, but had borrowed as he could, paying 10% in the most of instances. This I knew would be ruinous to us, because the stocks themselves did not yield that in dividends. Providentially, it seemed to me, I was in New York after this, and was able to secure a loan of $100,000 at 5% from the National Park Bank. The Lord gave me favor in their eyes, and they expressed a willingness, having confidence in me, to take my securities at whatever valuation I placed upon them. I am staggering under that load at the present time.

A meeting of Cannon, Grant & Co. was held at Saltair, I being too ill at the time to go into town. I had urged Geo. M. & John M. Cannon to place this matter before President Joseph F. Smith, so that he would see the peril we were in and bring it home to him. Neither he nor the other members seemed to be conscious of the peril we were in; but this was presented to him and to others in such a way that they could see that something should be done about it. Therefore we held a meeting at Saltair. I appointed as a committee, President Joseph F. Smith, Heber J. Grant, F. M. Lyman, T. G. Webber and T. R. Cutler, with Geo. M. Cannon to act with them, especially when Brother Cutler should be away. After some discussion they came to a conclusion as to how the matter should be settled, and reported accordingly. President Smith had differed somewhat with the committee, (although he joined in making the report a unanimous one) in that he thought the Sugar Company, which had been helped by us at the time when they greatly needed help, and which was one of the reasons why we organized Cannon, Grant & Co., should help us bear some of these losses; but the other brethren did not see how it could be done legally. Brother Grant’s plan was for each to give his note for what he was deficient, and the others endorse those notes. This was objected to, because it would not be a settlement, but would only entail upon us (perhaps for years) the indebtedness. The report that was made and unanimously adopted is as follows:

“Resolved that we ask Zion’s Savings Bank and Trust Company to purchase absolutely our real estate at prices on our books, and that we ask the Church to assume the remainder of our indebtedness, taking therefor all of our assets, and the notes of those members of the firm who are at present unable to pay their proportion of the amount due the firm; and that then we ask the Bank to loan the Church for a long time and at a low rate of interest on its note, secured by above named security and assets, the amount necessary to wind up our affairs. The parties who have paid more than their proportion to take the individual notes of members of the firm for amounts due them, same to be payable after the Church has been paid in full.”

The following petition was then arranged and prepared to be submitted to President Woodruff:

“To Prest. Wilford Woodruff,

Trustee in Trust of Church of Jesus Christ of

Latter-day Saints.

Dear Brother:-

A number of years ago, just after the organization of the Utah Sugar Company, a meeting of prominent financial members of the Church was held in the office of Z.C.M.I. for the purpose of organizing a Corporation to help various Companies which had been organized by or under the direction of the First Presidency. The Utah Sugar Company was the one most directly in peril. The meeting referred to resulted in a decision by those present to not incorporate. At that time the Church had borrowed $100,000 from Wells, Fargo & Co., of San Francisco, on a Church note endorsed by twenty-five of our brethren and had advanced same to the Utah Sugar Company. Contracts had been entered into requiring very large additional payments, which, if not made, would result in absolute loss of money advanced to say nothing of loss of prestige to our community in case of failure. Efforts had been made to raise this needed money in other ways and had failed. Under these circumstances another meeting was called which was held at the President’s Office and attended by most of the men who afterwards became members of the firm of Cannon, Grant & Co. At that meeting it was agreed to form a partnership with unlimited liability. The entire credit of all the men forming the partnership, viz: George Q. Cannon, Thomas R. Cutler, William H. Rowe, Leonard G. Hardy, Joseph F. Smith, George M. Cannon, John Henry Smith, Heber M. Wells, Heber J. Grant, Elias A. Smith, Abraham H. Cannon, Henry A. Woolley, Francis M. Lyman, Elias Morris, Jesse W. Fox, Jr. and T. G. Webber, was pledged to obtain money needed by the Sugar Company and the money was raised. Other firms and companies were also aided. It was felt that the men so associating themselves together were strong enough financially to make the business a thorough success as evidenced by the fact that Dun and Bradstreet[’]s commercial Agencies did not hesitate to give the firm a rating superior to any other in Utah. We felt this same confidence in ourselves, for our aggregate income the year before the formation of the firm amounted (as evidenced by the records of the tithing office in tithing paid by the members) to $182,000.00[.]

After our firm was organized we freely admit that we became enthused with the idea that we would be able to aid our brethren and at the same time make a fair profit ourselves. Later, however, the panic of 1893 spread financial ruin throughout our entire country, and we suffered with the rest of the business world. People who had agreed to our plans for creating a credit balance in Eastern financial centres went back on us, and we lost so heavily that we have never been able to recover. Notwithstanding the fact that our members have paid into the firm Cash and Stocks at cash valuations to amount of $149,195.00 this has all been swept away by our losses and we estimate that we owe about $115,000 in excess of cashable assets (made up of notes, real estate and stocks) against which we shall have notes of the members of the firm aggregating this amount, some secured and others unsecured. Of these we estimate that $42,991.00 will be surely paid, leaving $62,243 unsecured.

We feel that it is imperatively necessary that affairs of our firm should be wound up. Already death has carried off three members of the firm, Henry A. Woolley, Abraham H. Cannon and Elias Morris, thus entailing upon survivors and [an] aggregate loss of about $35,000, or fully one-half of our deficiency. We have attempted to find a way to close up our business, but so far have been unable to do so, and as the only way that appears possible to accomplish this result that we see, we ask that the Trustee in Trust assume our remaining obligations after we have reduced the same to about the sum above named, taking for the amount so assumed the individual notes of the members who are liable and who are unable at this time to pay amounts by them owing on subscription to the firm.

Trusting that this appeal will meet with your favorable consideration, and that the motives which prompt it will be understood, we are

Your Brethren,

Geo. Q. Cannon, Jos. F. Smith, Heber J. Grant,

Thomas R. Cutler, Geo. M. Cannon, Elias A. Smith,

Wm. H. Rowe, John Henry Smith, Jesse W. Fox Jr.

L. G. Hardy, Heber M. Wells, Francis M. Lyman,

Thomas G. Webber.”

I felt it to be a very serious question. It was surrounded with difficulties. Ruin stared us in the face unless something was done. Yet I had great reluctance to lay anything on the Trustee-in-Trust. I felt, however, that it was of very great importance that we should come to some conclusion, and therefore this letter was addressed to President Woodruff and a meeting was held with him to consider it. President Joseph F. Smith made some explanations, and George M. Cannon followed with a fuller statement. It was plain that President Woodruff was not favorably impressed. I arose and gave some details as to what had been done. I expressed the pain it gave me to come to President Woodruff and put him in this position. It looked as though his counselors were going to put him in a corner. I said it was the most painful thing I ever tried to lay before him, and it was with great reluctance that I did anything at all in the matter; but it seemed absolutely necessary that something should be done to put an end to the condition we were in. I described the peril we were in, should anything happen; that our credit as men of business and holding high positions in the Church was at stake. I then went on and described what we had done, and what each of us had put in, and what we had lost. Now he was asked, as the Trustee-in-Trust, to take the notes of brethren who had not paid anything – mostly young men, including Governor Wells, Heber J. Grant ( for his deficiency ), Geo. M. Cannon, Elias A. Smith, Jesse W. Fox, Jr., Thomas R. Cutler, William H. Rowe and Leonard G. Hardy – take these notes for the amount we are owing they were owing, and it would require of him between $65,000 and $70,000. I said he would have these notes to show for what had been expended; but in my case I had spent, or would if I paid what was claimed I ought to pay, about $81,000 without anything to show for it. I also explained to him what I had done, at Abraham’s instance, in taking up Cannon, Grant & Co. paper, and the load that rested upon me in consequence of it. After I had got through, he said, “You can make out your papers; I will see what I can do about it.” We were all exceedingly pleased to hear that, as it simplified matters very much and made it appear possible that we could have a settlement. I cannot express how gladly I heard him say this and to know that we were so near an adjustment of this affair, which has been hanging upon me like a millstone. It has contributed probably as much as any one thing, if not more than anything else, to my present sickness.

My son Frank returned from Washington on July [blank] and sought an interview with us to report what he had done. There has been some talk among the Twelve about what we were doing in financial matters, and they have been discussing in their Council these matters, as we judge by inquiries that they have made of the First Presidency concerning our finances. I felt that there was one of two things that ought to be done: we ought to call the Twelve together and submit to them Frank’s report, or we ought to take high ground and do our business without regard to them. I laid this matter before Presidents Woodruff and Smith, and told them my feelings on the subject. I remarked in the hearing of President Smith some time ago that the Twelve seemed to think (some of them) that the First Presidency and Twelve were a board of directors and that the First Presidency were merely the executive committee, judging by their expressions concerning finances. I did not take, nor did President Woodruff or President Smith, any such view of our position. We thought we were an independent council, and that we did not occupy that relationship to the Twelve or to the Church. President Woodruff was very emphatic; said that in the days of Joseph and Brigham such a thing was unknown as the Twelve meddling in financial matters, unless the President of the Church mentioned them to them. Presidents Woodruff and Smith thought we ought to have some of the Twelve together and talk to them, and let them talk to the rest. Accordingly we invited President Snow, Franklin D. Richards and Brigham Young to be present; but Brother Young was absent, and therefore Brother Lyman was asked to be present. Heber J. Grant and M. F. Cowley dropped in, and we invited them to stay. President Smith made a statement to them of our feelings and the position we took, which was a very plain and lucid statement, and President Woodruff and myself endorsed it very heartily. I was weak and did not feel to say much in the beginning; but Brother Smith told them plainly our feelings concerning our station and our authority, and he made the statement about the board of directors; that it was not the Twelve’s place to invite us to meetings; it was the First Presidency’[s] place to invite the Twelve; that we did so as an act of courtesy and good feeling, etc. This brought forth considerable discussion, and there were three things that I think were made plain to the Twelve: first, that the First Presidency was an independent quorum and was responsible for the finances of the Church in conjunction with the Trustee-in-Trust; that it was not the business of the Twelve to dictate concerning those matters; second, that when they met with us they did so because of our invitation to them and as an act of courtesy; and, third, that they should not discuss the affairs of the Church in which the Presidency were concerned, or the acts of the Presidency or their management, when the First Presidency were not present. An inquiry was made of me by Brother Lorenzo Snow as to what I thought were the rights of the Twelve. I did not answer that question. Brother Heber J. Grant made some remarks afterwards, in which he alluded to this, and spoke as though he thought I did not accord to the Twelve their rights. In reply to his remark, I said I did not answer Brother Snow, for the reason that I thought it entirely unnecessary. He and Brother Franklin D. Richards knew what the rights of the Twelve were, if anything, better than I did, as they had been longer connected with the quorum than I had, and therefore for me to attempt to answer such a question as that was entirely unnecessary. I know that at no time during the lives of President Young or President Taylor had the Twelve ever exercised or attempted to exercise such authority as had been done of late, and I was averse to it and was desirous that it should be corrected, for the reason that there were young men in the quorum of the Twelve who might, if something were not said and done on this subject, get wrong ideas of their powers and the extent of their authority.

We held the meeting at 10 o’clock. I had to leave to keep another appointment, and we met again at 12, at which time Frank made his report, which appeared to be very satisfactory.

We afterwards held another meeting, when there were more of the Twelve present. Besides those whom I have mentioned, John W. Taylor and Anthon H. Lund were present, while Brothers Richards and Lyman were absent. At that meeting Brother Joseph F. Smith made a motion, which Brother Lorenzo Snow seconded, to the effect that we approve of what Brother Frank J. Cannon has done, and authorize him to proceed with the negotiations. I was very much gratified at the result of this report, because there have been feelings among the Twelve in regard to the First Presidency appointing Frank as their agent to negotiate a loan in the east. The question of issuing bonds had been discussed by the Twelve, and their preference had been, if bonds were sold, to sell them at home. We talked upon this point, and it was concluded that it would be better to have the people in the east buy them if we could. President Smith was very emphatic on this point, and President Snow said that he was converted.

After we had finished the above mentioned meeting, I invited Presidents Woodruff and Smith and Frank into the back room. I did so with a view of having matters so understood between us that there could be no future misunderstandings on the subject.

I said: Now we have got through with the past, it would be well for us to have an understanding with you, Frank, as to what your expectations are for the future. What commission do you expect for this service?

His reply was that he did not want any commission whatever for what he should do. He did have a plan in view in relation to the commission, not for himself, but for the relief of the First Presidency individually.

We said that that was a matter it was not necessary to debate at the present. We were satisfied with his statement that he would not accept any commission for his services. I then asked him what remuneration he would expect while he was doing the work.

His reply was, after making some remarks as to the expenses he was at, that he would be satisfied with $300 or $400 a month.

We then requested him to withdraw, and the First Presidency talked the matter over. Brother Joseph F. Smith felt that $250 a month would be better, in view of the fact that himself and myself did not expect to draw any more, and we were all retrenching. If it were known that Frank was paid $300, it might create feeling. It was, therefore, agreed that he should have $250 a month, and it could be made up to $300 a month if it was necessary, and Frank was notified accordingly, and expressed satisfaction at the arrangement.

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July 1898, June–July 1898 • Summary of events, The Journal of George Q. Cannon, accessed June 14, 2024