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Salt Lake City Thirteenth Ward Relief Society, Minutes, April 18, 1868

Salt Lake City Thirteenth Ward Relief Society, Minutes, Apr. 18, 1868; Thirteenth Ward, Ensign Stake, Relief Society Minutes and Records, 1868–1906, vol. 1, 1868–1898, pp. 1–3, CHL (LR 6133 14).

See images of the original document at dcms.lds.org.


Rachel Ridgeway Ivins Grant, a forty-seven-year-old widow, was set apart as president of the Salt Lake City Thirteenth Ward Female Relief Society on Saturday, April 18, 1868, only ten days after Brigham Young’s conference address emphasizing the importance of organizing Relief Societies.1 These handwritten minutes from the organizational meeting of the Thirteenth Ward Relief Society provide an example of a bishop appointing a Relief Society presidency in response to Young’s request.

Grant served in her position for thirty-five years, joining with a core contingent of ward presidents who worked closely with Eliza R. Snow in forwarding the Relief Society movement. As president, Grant canvassed the Thirteenth Ward for cash and other donations with which to help the needy, while in her sermons she espoused virtues such as obedience and toil. She also traveled throughout the territory to speak and advise other women. “Aunt Rachel,” as she was often called, became recognized as a leading woman in the church and an embodiment of Victorian ideals and morals.2

When Grant was appointed Relief Society president, the women of the Thirteenth Ward had gathered at their bishop’s home to be organized under his direction. Edwin D. Woolley had served as bishop since 1854 and had visited some of the ward’s 1855–1857 weekly Relief Society meetings, “mostly devoted to sewing, such as making Quilts, sewing Carpet-Rags, towards making a Carpet for the Old Tabernacle, Braiding Straw for Bonnets &c.”3 Described by one historian as a “kindly but blunt and contrary-minded merchant,” Woolley enthusiastically supported the April 1867 organization of a substantial ward Sunday school in which twenty-one women served as teachers.4 By his own admission, however, he moved more cautiously in organizing a ward Relief Society.

Salt Lake City Thirteenth Ward Relief Society presidency

Salt Lake City Thirteenth Ward Relief Society presidency. Circa 1872. Top row, left to right: Emmeline B. Wells, assistant secretary; Elizabeth H. Goddard, secretary; Mary W. Musser, treasurer. Bottom row: Margaret T. Mitchell, second counselor; Rachel Ivins Grant, president; Bathsheba W. Smith, first counselor. Photograph by Charles R. Savage studio. (Church History Library, Salt Lake City.)

The Thirteenth Ward occupied nine blocks in the heart of Salt Lake City adjacent to Brigham Young’s office and family residence. This congregation, the largest in Salt Lake City, included many prominent church and civic leaders, including Eliza R. Snow. Though Snow delivered only brief remarks at this meeting, she was a member of the ward Relief Society and often attended meetings and spoke at length.5


Record of the Organization

of the

Female Relief Society of the 13th Ward, Salt Lake City

Bishop Wooley’s Residence

April 18th 1868.

Present Bishop Edwin D. Wooley and his Councillors W. [William] S. Godbe and F. [Frederick] A. Mitchell.

Meeting opened by prayer by the Bishop after which the Bishop took the Chair and Br W.S. Godbe was appointed Secretary pro tem.

The Bishop made some very interesting remarks, relative to the organization about to be formed.—— Said he had been slow with regard to the Society—that he had not felt the spirit of it until he had heard the remarks of President Young expressed at the last Conference—that it was not his habit to be in a hurry in his movements—did 〈not〉 wish the Sisters to rush in their movements, but 〈be〉 cool and deliberate. He said in the organization he wished to select such Sisters for Officers, as would listen to his counsel, and carry out such 〈measures〉 as he should suggest from time to time.

The Bishop continued by saying that if the Sisters needed assistance the Brethren would be on hand to help—that he did not wish [p. 1] them to perform heavy and laborious duties, such as would tax their strength &c—he wished them to go to work—to make their own clothing and establish such fashions for dress as would be becoming for the Saints and not subject themselves to imitate fashions which are invented and worn by dishonorable women of the world &c &c

The Bishop then suggested that the meeting proceed to organise the Society, and moved that Mrs Rachael R. Grant be chosen Presidentess which was seconded and carried unanimously.

He then moved that Mrs Grant proceed to choose her Councillors.

Mrs Grant then made choice of Mrs Annie Godbe for her first Councillor, and Mrs Margaret Mitchell for her second Councillor, which was carried unanimously.

The Bishop and his Councillors laid their hands upon the head of Mrs Grant, and blessed, and ordained, her and set her apart to be a Presidentess over the Female Relief Society of the 13,th Ward &c the Bishop officiating as spokesman.

They then proceeded to ordain Mrs Godbe and set her apart to act as first Councillor to the Presidentess—Bro Godbe officiating in in the same manner[.] they ordained Mrs Mitchell to act as second Councillor to Mrs Grant, and with Mrs Godbe to assist her in all the various duties of her office &c—Br Mitchell officiating as spokesman. [p. 2]

It was then moved that Mrs Elizabeth H. Goddard be chosen to act as Secretary, and Mrs Ann L. Musser as Treasurer, seconded and carried unanimously.

The following persons were then appointed to act as Teachers in the Ward, to wit.

Mrs.

Clarissa Schofield [Scofield]

Mrs.

Mary Musser

Rosina Godbe

Catharine Horricks [Catherine Horrocks]

Abbie [Abigail] Rumell

Martha Stringam

Martha Wells

Bathsheba Smith

Emily P. Young

Phebe Maiben

Louisa Spencer

Elizabeth Maiben

Agnes Parks [Park]

Isabelle Anderson

The Bishop then invited Miss E R Snow to make remarks, when she arose and addressed the Sisters present, by saying that this Society has much for its encouragement in the kind remarks of the Bishop and also in combining a great amount of ability—that inasmuch as the Sisters keep humble, and united, there is nothing to prevent their doing much good, and becoming truly a model Society, as suggested by the Bishop &c.

Very appropriate and instructive remarks were then made by Elders Godbe and Mitchell.

The meeting was then adjourned to April 30, at Mrs. Mary Godbe’s residence—at 2 P.M.

William S. Godbe, Secretary, pro tem. [p. 3]

Footnotes

  1. [1]See Document 3.4.

  2. [2]Ronald W. Walker, “Rachel R. Grant: The Continuing Legacy of the Feminine Ideal,” in Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons, ed. Donald Q. Cannon and David J. Whittaker (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1985), 18, 31–36.

  3. [3]Ronald W. Walker, “‘Going to Meeting’ in Salt Lake City’s Thirteenth Ward, 1849–1881: A Microanalysis,” in New Views of Mormon History: A Collection of Essays in Honor of Leonard J. Arrington, ed. Davis Bitton and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987), 139; Thirteenth Ward, Ensign Stake, Thirteenth Ward Relief Society Minutes and Records, 1868–1906, CHL, “Historical Sketch of the 13th Ward Relief Society,” vol. 1, pp. 646–649.

  4. [4]See Walker, “‘Going to Meeting,’” 139, 149–150.

  5. [5]See Walker, “‘Going to Meeting,’” 139; see also Thirteenth Ward Relief Society Minutes and Records, vol. 1, Apr. 30 and Aug. 7, 1868.