In June 1844 Elder Thomas Grover was on a mission in Michigan when he was warned in a dream to return at once to Nauvoo. While on the way back, he met the same group that were transporting the dead bodies of Joseph and Hyrum back to Nauvoo. Brother Grover was asked to prepare the prophets body for burial. What did Emma give to Thomas Grover for helping?
a. The prophet’s horse
b. The prophets sword
c. Some of the prophets clothes
d. A lock of the prophets hair
A fascinating development during this incipient stage—one that has been documented in other contexts as well—is the appearance of pseudo-Mormon groups or individuals who adopted the name and selected teachings of the LDS Church without authorization. According to the account of Leavitt Christensen (president of the Italian District), in April 1965 he accompanied President Russon and Paul Kelly (a U.S. Air Force officer stationed at Aviano airbase near Pordenone and serving as a counselor in the Italian District presidency) to meet with a “professor” who was making unauthorized use of the LDS Church’s name. They traveled by car to Grisolia (near Cosenza), a remote hilltop village at the end of a long drive in the dark along winding mountain roads. The three Church leaders found a doorway with the name of the Church inscribed in large, bold, red lettering. A man came to the door and invited the guests into his small apartment.
For the next ninety minutes, President Russon conducted a detailed interview about the group’s origins and activities. The “professor” had heard about the Church from an uncle in Boston and had received letters, pamphlets, manuals, pictures of Church presidents, teaching aids, and roll books from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City. Though unbaptized himself, he had baptized 300 “converts” to Mormonism in a nearby river and counted several thousand other followers in surrounding towns. The professor, it appeared, was collecting tithing from the group to support himself and a clandestine political agenda. He expressed interest in having the Mormon missionaries come teach his congregation; but when Russon explained that membership would involve giving up wine, coffee tobacco, and tea, he retorted: “I don’t think the members would go for that. These things are needed in Italy.” The visitors then noticed a picture of Adolph Hitler on the wall and asked the professor about it. He arose and tore the picture down, stating that he had no affiliation with the Nazis.
At that point, Russon ended the interview and the visitors bade their host goodnight. Russon and his two companions recommended in their report that the LDS Church should exercise more caution when receiving such request and investigate “similar movements prior to furnishing lesson materials and supplies and prior to giving evidence of support in the form of official letters. It is believed such letters if confiscated by the authorities in Rome might prove embarrassing and possibly detrimental to the Church in its efforts to gain official status in Italy.” It is not clear what became of this group, as mission records contain no further references to its activities.
James A. Toronto, The “Wild West” of Missionary Work” Reopening the Italian Mission, 1965-71, Journal of Mormon History, Fall 2014, 21-22.