Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Anthon H. Lund--Skeletons in the Barn

President Joseph F. Smith with counselors John R. Winder and Anthon H. Lund

Several observers have pointed out that Dieter Uchtdorf is not the first Apostle we have had who was born in a country outside of the U.S. One of the names being mentioned is that of the "Danish Apostle," Anthon H. Lund. This Apostle has always interested me because my maiden name is Lund. (Although my English Lunds are in no way connected to the Denmark Lunds.)

A few years ago a Lund descendant wrote an article about the skeleton in Grandpa Anthon H. Lund's barn. President Lund kept a prolific journal which unearthed more than one corresponding skeleton lurking in our Church history, and even in his own life. It is certainly interesting to look at LDS history as informed by the experiences of Anthon H. Lund.

Lund arrived in Utah at the age of 18 and worked as a teamster, a school teacher, and then a telegraph operator. He served in the Utah Territorial Legislature and is credited for starting USU because he introduced the legislation to start it. At the same time, he worked on the Utah Capitol Grounds Committee. Lund was used extensively by the Church in its foreign missions. He was the President of the Scandinavian Mission, President of the European Mission, and organized the Turkish Mission. He was ordained an apostle in 1889 and served in the First Presidency of the Church from 1901 until his death March 2, 1921.

Anthon H. Lund served as Counselor in the First Presidency under President Joseph F. Smith and under Heber J. Grant. He was always "just a bit different," and not only because of his nationality. At the time of his call the the Twelve, he was the only monogamist among the Apostles. He wasn't afraid to be different.

Lund was the one to give the first Conference Talk in 1899 emphasizing it was no longer Church policy to gather to Zion, but that Saints were to stay in their native lands and build up the Church there. I wonder how much influence he had in that decision.

Another example of Lund's disregard of convention occurred in 1903 when Benjamin Cluff, Jr., president of the Brigham Young Academy proposed to the Board that it change the name of the school to Brigham Young University, which had been his aim all fourteen years of his administration. There followed a vigorous dispute over this proposal. Thinking the school was not qualified to become a university, Anthon H. Lund of the First Presidency vigorously opposed it but was outvoted by his brethren. In his diary for the day President Lund recorded, "I hope their head will grow big enough for their hat."

In his diary Lund said that when President Joseph F. Smith nominated his son Hyrum in their meeting with the Twelve in October 1901 that there was talk of nepotism by some of the Twelve. A couple of the Twelve said Hyrum had not served in any major church calling and his qualifications weren't obvious. President Smith told them he didn't know why but the Lord revealed to him that his son was to be the next apostle but that was who the Lord wanted. Elder Lund spoke out in favor of Hyrum's calling saying if that was who the Prophet and the Lord both wanted then the other brethren should support the calling. A vote was called and the brethren voted to call Hyrum Mack Smith as an apostle.

Later when the Apostle Hyrum became ill, he refused medical treatment. Hyrum maintained that the Lord would protect him and he would be cured. His father the Prophet became worried and asked him to reconsider--that the family's personal physician could operate on him immediately. It took several hours to convince him but finally he did it for his father's sake. Peritonitis had set in. When the surgeon opened him up he died on the table from the infection on 23 January 1918.

Lund goes on to write that many general authorities expressed the opinion that Hyrum was taken early because he was needed in the Spirit World to work among the youth and that they said that mainly to try to soften the loss for President Smith. Lund stood up indignantly and opined that the needless tragedy would not have occurred had Hyrum been wise and gone to a doctor sooner.

Lund's diaries cover his opinions on the tensions between Apostle Moses Thatcher and his colleagues; the rejection by the U.S. House of Representatives of Utah's Congressman, B. H. Roberts; his involvement in post-Manifesto polygamy and the stormy hearings over whether to seat LDS apostle Reed Smoot in the U.S. Senate. He was also a signer of the 1909 First Presidency statement on the origin of man and found himself in the thick of the 1911 evolution controversy at BYU.

Lund was known for not being a strict follower of the Word of Wisdom. Interestingly, it was directly following his death in 1921 that Church President Heber J. Grant made adherence to the proscriptions of the Word of Wisdom an absolute requirement for entering the temple.

Becoming a member of the First Presidency made Anthon H. Lund a part of a great deal of controversial Church history. I wonder what is in store for Dieter Uchtdorf?


Last Lemming said...

Interesting stuff. Thanks for pulling it together and posting it.

Perhaps most interesting, however, is that Joseph F. Smith seems to have nominated his son to the apostleship 9 months after said son's death.

Bored in Vernal said...

oops, wrong date--I'll fix it! Thanks for the catch.

john f. said...

So what are the skeletons?

Kalola said...

I especially found this interesting:

"Lund was known for not being a strict follower of the Word of Wisdom. Interestingly, it was directly following his death in 1921 that Church President Heber J. Grant made adherence to the proscriptions of the Word of Wisdom an absolute requirement for entering the temple."

Jared* said...

Thomas Alexander in Mormonism in Transition (pg. 297) has it as Charles W. Nibley that "pointed out that Smith had refused medical attention and said that if he had not done so, he would still be alive. Joseph F. Smith nodded his agreement to the remarks, but it seems clear that such an explanation might not comfort a bereaved family."

Bored in Vernal said...

Kalola, from what I understand not everyone kept the Word of Wisdom strictly. It may have been like food storage is now--we are supposed to have it, but not everyone does.

Bored in Vernal said...

John F--

Skeletons=post-manifesto polygamy, nepotism among GA's, evolution, etc.

I haven't read Lund's journals myself, but they are in the queue! John Hatch, who prepared the journals for publication says that Lund wrote as if he were talking to a close friend. Some of the other topics covered, Hatch notes, are:

George and Abraham Cannon's visceral reaction to the death of their son and brother (8-9); the stripping of Moses Thatcher's priesthood and apostleship (24); Apostle Franklin D. Richards's evidence for an 1830 rather than 1829 dating of the Melchizedek Priesthood restoration (28); Lorenzo Snow's explanation for the origins of his couplet, "As God was—so man is. As God is so man may be" (931); Lund's loss for words over the Scofield mining disaster (83); the discovery of Joseph Smith's earliest journal (89); the clash between President Joseph F. Smith and Lorenzo Snow's heirs (162-63); foot races between Lund, his brethren, and their wives (242-43); the debate over a second manifesto on plural marriage (271); Lund's vigorous defense of women's suffrage (411-12); Lund's refusal to allow deposed apostle Matthias Cowley to bless his son (413); the embarrassing applause Joseph F. Smith and company received at a wrestling match (454); Governor William Spry's and Bishop Charles W. Nibley's efforts to get LDS leaders to withdraw their support for a prohibition bill (569); LDS leaders' reaction to Joseph F. Smith's vision of the spirit world (710, 713); and Patriarch Hyrum G. Smith's effort to have his office sustained before that of the presidency (723).

Lund was an anomaly in the Quorum of the Twelve as a monogamist, non-native English speaker with no family ties to the GA's. Hatch calls him a "pioneer of Modern Mormonism."

Anonymous said...

An aside: there may well be a family connection. If you weren't already aware most of what is today East Anglia in England was essentially Danish for a couple centuries of viking settlement before being re-absorbed into the English realms. But the family and naming connections to Denmark lingered on. There may well be a way-back-when family link for you there.

Michemily said...

Fascinating, thanks a bunch. I'm living in Germany right now, so it's great to see how everyone is excited for President Uchtdorf.

Anonymous said...

As a Lund family member, I can tell you that we do not know of any family connections to other G.A.'s. In fact, Lund's own genealogy line has been difficult to trace very far.