The latest issue of the Journal of Mormon History hit my mailbox last week. As always, it’s chocked full of valuable archival-based research and helpful book reviews. Here’s a quick overview of its contents.
E. Gary Smith’s article “Blood, Bullets, Pistols, and Mobbers: A New Look at Solving a Carthage Jail Mystery” takes readers through evidence surrounding Hyrum Smith’s death. Through an examination of the Mormon patriarch’s clothing, he contends that Joseph Smith’s brother was shot several times after being mortally wounded. His use of evidence is fascinating; fans of CSI will be sure to enjoy the article.
Next, in “Apostle Moses Thatcher and Mormon Colonization in Mexico, 1879-1901,” historian LaMond Tullis reveals how the Latter-day Saint leader “was both a failure and a success with respect to colonization” (39). After reading the article, I agree with Tullis’s assessment that Thatcher ought to be remembered for more than his run-ins with fellow apostles. I look forward to future scholarship examining the relationship of Latter-day Saints, Mexico, and transnational colonialism.
The third article in the October 2019 issue is “Faith of Our Fathers’: How a Death Valley Days Western Radio Episode Helped Recover the Memory of Peter Neilson and the St. George Tabernacle Glass,” by Reid L. Neilson. He recounts how Ruth C. Woodman presented the history of the St. George Tabernacle to American through her radio program, Death Valley Days. He also shows how Peter Neilson, Sr. donated $600 to purchase materials that could not be obtained from the Washington County landscape, uncovering that the original donor was listed as “Israel” rather than Peter. It’s a story close to Neilson’s heart; his love for the characters (his ancestors) is evident throughout the article’s entirety.
I love seeing work on non-Latter-day Saint history in the Journal of Mormon History. D. Dmitri Hurlbut’s “Gobert Edet and the Entry of the RLDS Church into Southeastern Nigeria, 1962-1966” analyzes how and why Africans flocked to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He first demonstrates that Africans desired resources that could be accessed through their relationship to the RLDS and also shows how the RLDS were moving towards liberal Protestantism in this period.
William P. Connors’ essay is my favorite in the entire issue (which is saying something—this is a strong issue!). In “Missionaries to theMormons: NOW’s ERA Missionary Project,” he lays out how the National Organization for Women sent missionaries to Utah to try and convince Latter-day Saint women to vote for the Equal Rights Amendment. He highlights several areas of historical interest, particularly how Mormons responded to missionaries arriving on their doorstep, the reaction of outsiders to Latter-day Saint opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, and shows a fuller picture of Mormon anti-ERA efforts than had previously been shown. This is a must-read.
Each book review is helpful and guided my decision whether or
not to add books to my “Interlibrary Loan List.”
 Now the Community of Christ.