What were mashed apples used for during pioneer times?
A) Apple sauce
B) Poultices for burning eyes
C) Only good to feed the hogs
D) Used to swell wagon wheels into the rims
Louis Alphonse Bertrand was a brilliant writer, French revolutionary, and advocate of the gospel in a war-torn, unlistening country. He was born 8 January 1808 near Marseilles, France, under the name John Francis Elias Flandin. Originally intended for the ministry, he went into trade at an early age and lived in the United States, South America, China, and India. Upon his return to Paris he became steeped in political affairs and was chosen a member of the Revolutionary Committee of 1848, resulting in three months’ prison time. It was likely during this time that he changed his name to protect his wife and two young boys. After the revolution, Bertrand remained in Paris, where he served for a time as the political editor of Le Populaire—a prominent and influential communist periodical run by the Icarians (a small branch of whom had settled at Nauvoo, Illinois, after the Saints’ exodus). In September 1850 he was contacted by John Taylor then the French Mission president, who baptized him three months later on 1 December.
A skilled writer and editor in both French and English, Bertrand was instrumental in completing the translation of the Book of Mormon into French; he also translated the Doctrine and Covenants and several other Latter-day Saint works and helped establish the Church periodical L’etoile du Deseret. In 1853 Bertrand, as a missionary, taught Victor Hugo and other revolutionary refugees on the Island of Jersey; they “listened with attention at the time, but their heads were too full of revolution to think much about the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
After spending four years in the Salt Lake Valley, where he received numerous awards for his agricultural produce, Bertrand was called back to France as the mission president in 1859. There he worked tirelessly, publishing articles and books on Mormonism, fighting both his own political history and the oppressive political and intellectual currents of the time, and seeking permission to preach in France. He formally petitioned Louis Napoleon III, who read Bertrand’s request, laughed, and tore it to pieces. Bertrand returned to Utah in 1864, leaving behind his family who refused to accept his faith.
A close friend to Brigham Young ever since his first stay in Utah when he lived in the president’s home, Bertrand briefly oversaw the prophet’s cocoonery, bringing it to its peak production of 800,000 silkworms. For the remainder of his life, Bertrand acted as a correspondent for the Deseret News and was often consulted as an expert in both viniculture and sericulture. He died 21 March 1875.
Arnold K. Garr, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard O. Cowan, Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2000), 99-100.