MormonUSA, 1933

This sampler of Mormon activities from every part of the USA is drawn from the pages of the 1933 Liahona: The Elders’ Journal.


A conference which was spiritually uplifting was held in Montgomery, Ala., Saturday, March 25. The Alabama missionaries and a goodly number of saints and investigators were in attendance. The afternoon meeting was held in the Chamber of Commerce building. After the conference a baptism was performed. A local sister expressed her willingness to go on a mission. Prest. Callis and the elders delivered doctrinal discourses that were a source of instruction and blessing to all present. A priesthood meeting was held at which district matters were discussed.


Northwestern States mission president William R. Sloan, speaking at October General Conference: “ As I stand before this microphone I am reminded that every time I have returned home from conference so many people have said: ‘President Sloan, we heard your voice over the radio.’ In our mission today thousands and thousands of people are listening to the services of this great conference, and as I have pleaded with my people in the years that have passed, so I plead today with you, following the President of this Church. … to those who may be in Alaska who know my voice, … keep your eyes on the President of this Church and you will never go astray. God bless this work.”


The missionaries of the Arizona district attended the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the St. Joseph stake, which was held February 23-26. Thursday evening the priesthood of the stake gave a banquet at which approximately 1,000 people were present. The main feature on Friday morning was a parade depicting events in the history of the organization. Old time sports were enjoyed in the afternoon and modern and old-time dances in the evening. On Saturday and Sunday conference meetings were held with President Heber J. Grant, and Elder Melvin J. Ballard, of the Council of the Twelve, as visiting guests from Salt Lake City. Large crowds were in attendance. A beautiful historical pageant was presented Saturday evening. More than 2,000 pieces of birthday cake were passed out to those present, and the celebration was brought to a climax with a splendid musical festival.


On January 22, Miss Virginia Flaherty went into the waters of baptism. We commend her on the step she has taken and pray the Lord’s blessings to attend her.


On Thursday evening, January 13, the beautiful L.D.S. chapel at San Luis Obispo was dedicated by Elder George F. Richards. The dedicatory services were conducted by Franklin Shafer, president of the branch. Many members of the Church and their friends were in attendance. Other speakers at the services included Prest. Hinckley, Prest. Clifford and Elder Trevor S. Clarke. The ground for the structure was broken May 3, 1928, and the cornerstone laid July 15, 1928, and through the united efforts of the members of the Church the building was completed on October 1, 1928, at a total cost of $16,843.00.


A number of people were brought into the church last month in this district. Sixteen baptism were performed, which strengthens the faith of the missionaries and affords evidence that their labors have not been in vain.


Prest. Robinson and Elder Solomon conducted the funeral services of Sister Augusta Brooks of New Haven. Sister Brooks was a faithful member of the Church and was a great help to the New Haven branch. She was converted to “Mormonism” more than twenty years ago and held fast to her testimony during the intervening years. While we realize she has merely taken a step that we must all do sooner or later, nevertheless we feel keenly the loss of her association at present.


Our radio programs over WDEL are in the capital hands of Sister Venese Waldram, assisted by Sister Hubble and Elders Webb and Milton.


Sister Ada May Rooks of the Sink Creek branch, Florida, filled a mission recently. She writes about the work she is doing now as follows: “Our Primary is doing fine. I have been able to work in some more teachers and they seem to like it almost as well as I do. One lady who is teaching the boys is a non-member, but she certainly loves the work with all her heart. She has about twenty boys in her class. It is just wonderful to walk into the church on Saturday afternoon and see the many beautiful faces that are waiting to greet us. The saints of this branch are proud of them and they all take active parts in the programs. Our Sunday school is doing well also and so is the Relief Society.”


Elders Whicker and Taylor write: “Last Sunday we visited the Empire branch. The attendance at their Sunday school and meeting was large. A number of those present were non-members. The sisters of that branch expressed the desire to have a Relief society organized. At a cottage meeting we held Monday night, Elder Taylor spoke on the Book of Mormon. After meeting we sold one to an influential business man and another man asked for a copy of the sacred record. Thursday evening we held another meeting and at its close a young married couple applied for baptism. Elder Taylor performed the ordinance the next morning.”


Prest. Castle H. Murphy: “About a month ago, she [Sister Tsune Nachie] came to see us and said she felt as though she would enjoy living with a Japanese Hawaiian sister in Honolulu. Arrangements were made in accord with her expressed desire and at the present time she appears to be very happy because of her new opportunity to meet the Japanese people and to preach the word of the Lord to them. … [Sister] Nachie desires that I convey to those of her missionary sons who still remain and remember her, a tender greeting of good will and best wishes.”


Our missionary force [in Kentucky] has been strengthened by the arrival of Elder Lovene D. Crockett, who comes to us from Idaho Falls, Idaho. Prest. Lee, who had been laboring alone for some five weeks, feels to rejoice in having a companion, and he finds Elder Crockett a willing worker and a ready speaker.


Elders James M. Inman and Clarence D. Simmons were asked to attend a recitation of an eighth grade history class about the “Mormons.” They both attended and were pleased with the recitation. Opportunity was given them to ask the pupils any questions they wished. The teacher, a non-Mormon, invited the elders to come to his home whenever in town again.


Sisters Myrtle Hamblen and Carolyn Willard, local missionaries in Terre Haute branch, hold five Primaries each week in addition to tracting. Brother and Sister James Clayton of Linton, Indiana; William E. Schwartz and Lawrence Leavitt, and Sisters Amott and Pierson of Indianapolis assist the missionaries in presenting a half-hour program of religious music and sermon over station WBOW in Terre Haute each Sunday evening.


Through the instrumentality of the Temple Square Mission and the missionaries of the Iowa district, Sister Magdalene Francis Dillavou of Jefferson, Iowa, has become a member of the Church. She says: “For two years I have tried to live as near a perfect life as I could, and during this time I have studied and prayed that I might have the true religion revealed unto me. In answer to my prayers I have been guided into the acceptance of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – I know it is true.”


Sister Robinson of Topeka, who was baptized last December, while in conversation recently with Prest. Merrill, bore a wonderful testimony of the healing power of the Lord. She said that prior to her baptism for ten years she had never washed or done any of the heavier housework, but since her baptism she has been able to do a little more all the time until at the present time she does all of her housework, and the other day she did her washing. Sister Robinson’s illness was caused by rheumatism.


Sister Daisy Ashby died of high blood pressure on April 20. Her life was one of devotion to Church and home. During her life she gave birth to fifteen children. She was a model wife, a loving mother and an inspiration to all who knew her. Her husband and eleven children are left to mourn her loss. Prest. W.B. Ray of Madisonville branch, assisted by Brother Guy Galloway, superintendent of Madisonville branch Sunday school, conducted the funeral service. Excellent sermons appropriate to the occasion were delivered by the brethren.


We regret very much to report the death of Brother Nephi J. Beach, son of Mr. and Mrs. Albert S. Beach of Holley Ridge. Brother Beach passed away on June 7. The elders were called for, but as all of the Louisiana missionaries were in the extreme southern part of the state, they were not able to get there before his death. Brother Beach was baptized July 18, 1926, by Elder Cloyd B. Berry, had has been a faithful member of the Church since that time. Many of the missionaries who have labored in Louisiana and also in Franklin county, Mississippi, will remember him and mourn his passing. We extend our sincere sympathy to the parents and friends.


Success is still being had with the basket ball team composed of the missionaries and a friend. Although a few games have been lost, still a greater number have been won and the friends gained have indeed compensated for the effort put forth by the team.


The elders are laboring in Baltimore and have been successful in holding two or three cottage meetings weekly. With the coming of spring we hope to be able to resume our regular street meetings. The saints in the branch are doing good missionary work and are helping with the branch activities in a very commendable manner, for which we are very grateful.


During the past month Elder Robinson enjoyed an interesting experience in being invited to speak before the Young People’s Society of the Congregational Church of South Hadley Falls, and also that of the Congregational Church of Springfield. As the subject on both occasions pertained to our Church, the invitations afforded a splendid opportunity to explain some of the doctrines of the restored gospel. We believe that much good can be done through this type of contact as the people come ready and willing to listen to what is said. After both meetings literature on the gospel was distributed.


The members of the Pontiac branch have been very active in carrying on local missionary work. One member, a young lady who has housekeeping duties six days a week, is happy to spend her one day of leisure time in assisting the lady missionaries. At one of our recent cottage meetings a woman, 89 years old, expressed her joy at being present and hearing and asking about the restored Gospel. She told the group, most of whom were non-members, that she had lived many years “blinded” to the truth of Mormonism and that from then on she would never crawl under the bed as she used to do when a girl – just because a Mormon missionary was in town, but that she would invite him into her home.


Elders Moore and Johnson, while doing first tracting in Staples, were invited to attend a birthday party for Mrs. Davis, who has been an invalid for eighteen years. Elder Moore upon being asked to sing, rendered the song, “O, It Is Wonderful.” The hostess asked them to stay for luncheon and they were grateful for the invitation because of the friendly spirit manifested and the many openings that were made into new homes.


Elders Boggess and Reid write: “We held a well attended cottage meeting at Poplarville. A preacher who was present at the meeting related the following: ‘When I first started in the ministry, at Beaumont, Miss., in my mistaken zeal I attacked the “Mormons” in my sermons, as was customary among preachers at that time. At the close of the meeting I waited in vain for an invitation to go home with someone. One by one the congregation dispersed. At last a man who gave his name as Smith invited me to his home and took care of me. Imagine my surprise and confusion to find that my host was the only member in the community of the church which I had so strongly denounced – he was a “Mormon.”‘”


Sunday, April 2, at Springfield, Mrs. Josephine Rachel McKeal and Mrs. Rosalie M. Taylor were baptized by Prest. Pond. These sisters have been successfully conducting a Primary in this neighborhood. At Webb City Mrs. Helen Johnson and Marjorie Neil were baptized by Elder Giles H. Bolander. We are indeed happy to welcome these new members and wish them much happiness in the step they have taken.


Within the boundaries of our [North Dakota] district we have three Indian reservations. We had the opportunity of motoring to Wolf Point, Montana, last month, where we assisted Elders Knowles and Davis of the Yellowstone district in holding meetings among the Assiniboine Indians of the Fort Peck reservation. At one of our Sunday meetings at Chicken Hill, Montana, an old Indian named Black Hawk asked permission of the interpreter to speak. Then he said, “I know this is true church. I want elders to come here to stay, so they can pray for us, so things will be better for us.” This impressive testimony was delivered in the Assiniboine language.


Prest. Richins and Elder Hatch were called to the home of one of the saints to administer to a little girl who was losing her eyesight. She was sent home from school by the nurse, saying she would be blind in a few days if care wasn’t taken of her eyes. “We gave the child a blessing and with tear-dimmed eyes the mother thanked us for calling. Late that night the child walked out into the furthest room of the house and joyfully exclaimed, ‘I can see you now, mamma.’ Before she couldn’t recognize her parent across the room. Her eyes were examined the following week and they were found to be normal,” writes Prest. Richins.


Sister Thomas L. Carter, wife of the president of the Lovelock branch, passed away and her funeral services were held on January 30 under the supervision of Prest. Robert B. McMillan. The saints of the Lovelock and Sparks branches attended the services which were held in the Methodist church. We extend our sincere sympathy to Brother Carter and family and pray God’s blessings to be with them in their hour of bereavement.

New Hampshire

Sister Amy Stebbins is to be commended for the interest and enthusiasm shown in her endeavors to enlighten others regarding the restored gospel teachings. She has been a great help to the elders in their radio broadcasting.

New Jersey

In Dover, N.J., on February 5, Elders John Riley and LeRoy Wirthlin started hall meetings. This is a fitting climax to a year’s intensive work in this city. Prest. Moyle was also in attendance at this service and he and Elder Clifford Webb, Mission secretary, were the speakers. The meeting proved very successful and, although it was held at night, during one of the worst blizzards this part of the East has seen in some time, about 15 investigators attended in addition to the members and missionaries.

New Mexico

Elder Stanley H. Mattson, assisted by Elder Frank S. Warren and Prest. Robert C. Jordan, have made a tour of the district, giving illustrated lectures on the Book of Mormon. Large crowds were in attendance and all expressed their appreciation of the opportunity afforded. Through the efforts of Elder James W. Huish, permission was given by the Rev. Mr. Blessing, pastor of the First Christian church at Las Vegas, to use the church building. A good crowd was in attendance, most of whom were non-members. We are very thankful for this privilege and for the good spirit manifested toward us. Lectures were also given in Clovis, Roswell, Hatch, Lordsburg, Albuquerque, Bluewater, Santa Fe and Gallup, and we hope that much good will result.

New York

Elder Richard L. Jones and Elder Carr have just completed a trip through the northern part of the state, where they visited with the members and held a successful meeting in a schoolhouse. It reminded us forcibly of the way the early missionaries carried on, as there were no electric lights, and almost every one walked a mile or two to meeting. On the day of the meeting the missionaries hiked over twenty miles telling the people about the services.

North Carolina

Much interest is reported in Mooresville and Mt. Airy, due to the faithful and diligent labors of Sister Donna Olpin and Esther Ohman. At Mt. Airy they were privileged to speak at a funeral that was being held in a Methodist church. This was the first time that a woman had ever expounded the comforting truths of Mormonism in that building. Many friends were made as a result of the service.

North Dakota

Prest. Holt and Elder Olsen report as follows: “We were returning from our usual Sunday meeting. It was late at night and we were about sixteen miles from home, when the car stopped. After trying unsuccessfully to remedy the trouble, we were chilled through, as there was a strong wind blowing and the thermometer registered about fifteen degrees below zero; we offered prayer and went to the nearest farm house. We told them our trouble and, without any questions, they invited us in. We talked while we were warming up and afterward we were given the best bed they had and breakfast the following morning. They also went and brought us our car. For their kindness they would accept nothing but a few tracts and a Book of Mormon, giving us an invitation to return next time we came that way.”


Through the cooperation of the Saints in Cincinnati and with the help of the church, a new basement and heating system has been added to the chapel there. We are very happy over this, as it will afford more comfort and room this winter.


District conference was held in Tulsa, May 14. We were fortunate in having Prest. Samuel O. Bennion and Apostle George Albert Smith with us. Even though the weather was extremely threatening and we had experienced a tornado two days previously, the attendance averaged 144. Every member of the De Noya branch was present after traveling a distance of ninety miles to be here. Instructive and impressive sermons were delivered by Elder Smith, Prest. Bennion and the missionaries.


The meetings held in this district by Elder Richard R. Lyman and Prest. Sloan were very successful. In Medford over sixty per cent of those in attendance were non-members. They also held a meeting with the missionaries, giving us many helpful instructions. The only fault we have to find with such meetings is that they are not long enough, and yet this one lasted for nearly four hours.


A wonderful example of the influence which the gospel of Jesus Christ can have upon the life of a young man is evidenced in the life of Brother Francis Place, whose parents are converts of several years ago. Francis is not yet twenty years of age, yet he has a strong testimony of the gospel. Recently the county organization of the W.C.T.U. sponsored three public speaking contests, the subject being “The Value of Prohibition.” Using the teachings of our Church on the subject as his material and the word of Wisdom as his theme, he won first place in each contest. A total of 1225 contestants took part in the three contests.

Rhode Island

Elders Richins and Romney plan to move the headquarters of this [Massachusetts] district from Beverly, Mass., to Newport, Rhode Island.

South Carolina

A largely attended and impressive funeral service for Sister Sarah Ervin of Camden, S.C., was conducted by Elders M.B. Barrett and A.R. Hoggan on February 87. Sister Ervin had reached the ripe age of ninety-four years. She was the mother of nine children. She had forty-two grandchildren and thirty-nine great grandchildren. She has been a faithful member of the Church for twenty-eight years. She was well educated and taught the gospel to her children and friends, many of whom have joined the Church.

South Dakota

Some of the contacts made through the recent missionary basketball project conducted in this district last winter are proving profitable. We have found this type of project of great value in bringing the example of the Church before the public.


When a woman 72 years old forsakes that which has guided her life for sixty years to accept a faith so unpopular as is Mormonism, the world would do well to thoroughly investigate that which has caused her to do so. Sister Ida Radcliff of Knoxville has investigated Mormonism for twenty years. Elders Kindred and Hamblin report her baptism on April 13 in the waters of the Tennessee river. She now bears a fervent testimony of the truth of the restored gospel. Her own words are: “I am now experiencing the happiest days of my life.”


A farewell party for the first missionary from the Dallas branch was held in the Dallas amusement hall on January 13, in honor of Elder Robert O. Davis, who is now laboring in the South Texas district.


In the course of his address at the opening general session of the M.I.A. conference Friday morning, June 9, President Heber J. Grant said … I have been a citizen who has loved Utah and worked for Utah at home and abroad, and as a citizen of the United States, not as the President of the Church, I am unqualifiedly in favor of the Eighteenth Amendment, and I do not believe and never expect to believe that by throwing the bars down even partly we are going to be benefited. I have no ill will toward any man, woman, or child who favors repealing the Eighteenth Amendment, but whatever happens we shall expect every Latter-day Saint to obey the Word of Wisdom.”


In Burlington the regular Sunday school and evening Sacrament services are being held. Also a Doctrine and Covenants class is being held every Tuesday evening at the home of Brother and Sister LaGrange.


The last few weeks have been busy and profitable ones for the Virginia missionaries. Several baptisms were reported and many inspirational meetings were held. After checking over the district records, we find the elders have visited members of the church who had not seen any missionaries for three or four years. The reception that the elders received at these places were truly inspiring. Large crowds have attended meetings in places where but few have ever heard of Mormonism and, through the rich outpouring of the Spirit of God, our efforts have been well received.


Elders Fisher and Wilburn, along with some of the willing helpers among the members, are doing much good among the people at Grays Harbor. Radio station KXRO, which has been good enough to give the missionaries a quarter of an hour for a devotional program, has extended their time to a half hour. Thus the elders there have been able to arrange programs that are well worth while and have been appreciated.

Washington, D.C.

Several hundred members of the church and close friends gathered at the new chapel in Washington, D.C., Sunday, November 5, for dedicatory services under the direction of President Heber J. Grant. The beautiful chapel, in the heart of a prominent section of the nation’s capital, was dedicated by President Grant following an address in which he bore witness of the divinity of the mission of Joseph Smith and told of some of the prophecies made by the Prophet, and fulfilled.

West Virginia

Brother F. Joseph Guthrie and Sister Jennie T. Collier, who have recently joined their departed kin, have indeed “fought a good fight, finished their course and kept the faith.” The funeral services for Brother Guthrie were held in the Charleston chapel February 19, when over 300 of his bereaved relatives and friends were in attendance. Funeral services for Sister Collier were held in the Verdunville branch chapel. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to all the relatives and friends of these departed saints.


We were very happy to hold a baptismal service in our new chapel at Milwaukee. We extend a warm hand of fellowship to Erick Braucks, Klara Braucks, Edith Herbing, Roy Boehm, Elfriede Kauke and Dennis Branham. We wish them much joy in the step they have taken.


On Friday, November 10, President Elias S. Woodruff, who had arrived from Denver, met President Joseph J. Daynes, who succeeds him as president of the Western States Mission, to start on a tour of the Mission. … Tuesday, November 21, the brethren were met at Casper by Elders Reece and Granger, and later visited the two lady missionaries, Sisters Geary and Martineau. Luncheon was enjoyed at the home of Branch Prest. McFarland. At 2:30 in the afternoon priesthood meeting was held with the elders and lady missionaries. In the evening an invitation to dinner at the home of Brother and Sister Kingdom was accepted. The evening meeting, held in the chapel, was a very enjoyable one. The audience was a representative one and an excellent spirit prevailed.

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9 thoughts on “MormonUSA, 1933”

  1. I just skimmed a few, and they are fascinating. One that caught my eye was the basketball team in Maine. I would love to see a paper on the history of the church and basketball, specifically as a missionary tool.

  2. Looking on Google, it looks like there is just one ward building in San Luis Obispo.

    If you click “street view,” you can see the building. It looks like classic Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, which was enjoying a great popularity during that decade, so it could be the original building.

  3. And now that I’ve read through the post and not just the comments…simply amazing. My first response, to be honest, was that it is a very long post. But its length is actually one of its strengths. As I read further and further through the diverse accounts of wards and branches and missionary work and funerals, it gave a scope of the breadth and depth and reach of the gospel and some of the simple truths that have driven the growth of the church such as “keep your eyes on the President of this Church and you will never go astray” and the mention of the Saints who “fought a good fight, finished their course and kept the faith.” Thanks, Ardis for some wonderful Sunday inspiration.

  4. Wow, this is great! The church has been a presence here in the Southeast for much longer than I realized. And so funny that preachers of other denominations have been preaching on the evils of the Mormons for all that time. =)

  5. Glad you enjoyed it. I got the idea from the USA Today feature where they print a short news item from each state, and wondered if the same thing could be done for church news. It could! although it was a challenge for some places. Once I got started, I was amazed at the variety of activities, like Norbert and Researcher, and, like Tatiana, at the evidence of such longstanding church presence in some corners of the country.

    Over the next few weeks I’m going to try a MormonCanada, and a MormonBritain, perhaps even a MormonEurope, and I may try another MormonUSA for a much earlier date to see how that goes.

    And, by the way, thanks to Researcher for looking up the GoogleMap shot of the SLO chapel. One of the best traits about the regulars at Keepa is the way you make this truly an interactive site by doing additional research and sharing it here.

  6. Ardis, This was absolutely great! I was born in 1939 and this gives me a feel of what was going on in the church and/or missionary work in the USA at that time. Thanks for a great way of putting ME in context of church activity.

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