Sunday, March 3, 2019

Conference Drops

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William Rawlings Webb enjoyed taking a grandchild with him to general conference and in his pocket he had what was called conference drops. What are conference drops?
a.                  Mint candies for the grandchild
b.                  Cough drops
c.                   Notes that he took of the talks
d.                  Scriptures on cards that he would memorize between conference sessions
Yesterday’s answer:
D   Limited to the original band of 148 who arrived on July 24, 1847
The Utah Pioneer Jubilee of 1897:   Almost as soon as the formation of the Semi-Centennial Commission was announced to the public, a controversy arose in regard to which individuals should be recognized as pioneers. Until that time, the term “pioneers” had, by general usage, been limited to the original band of 148 who arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. The commission planned to make the surviving pioneers from this company the “grand central idea of the Jubilee; such of them as could be found were to be brought to Salt Lake free of expense to themselves, and in all the festivities arranged for the occasion, the glory of the pioneers and their achievements was to be the controlling  idea.” It was believed that there would be about 30 of them. A gold badge would be presented to each pioneer and also to the families of those who had died.
The commission had barely held its first official meeting when a flood of letters began to pour in, requesting that every person who arrived in 1847 be included among the honorees. The local newspapers were inundated by similar requests, and they published many of them on their editorial, pages. What was the Semi-Centennial Commission to do? Nearly 2,000 pioneers had arrived in Utah in 1847, and it was estimated that about 700 of them were living. The cost of transporting them, housing them, and presenting each with a gold badge seemed to be overwhelming. And the logistics of honoring them during the variety of planned events was daunting.
Commissioner Horace B. Whitney wrote, “A part of the commission favored making the survivors of this body [Brigham Young’s company] the only guests of honor. . . .  The other part of the commission favored including in the term “pioneer” all those who arrived in Utah during the year of 1847, sending invitations to all survivors and extending a badge to each. This meant railroad transportation for some 700 pioneers who were scattered throughout the United States and the expenditure of something like $7,000 for the badges.
“The matter continued to be a subject of frequent and oftentimes heated discussion until the generous action of the railroads in giving free transportation to the pioneers, regardless of their number, cleared the way for the adoption to the plan to include all survivors of 1847 in the invitation, which had been from the first warmly urged by Chairman Clawson.
“The action of the railroad companies cannot be too highly praised; it was, more than anything else, the one event that enabled the commission to pay the pioneers the homage they deserved, and the one event that assured the financial success of the Jubilee. The gift of the railroads, expressed in money, amounted to something like $5,000, and but for their generosity, the commission might at this time be mourning over a deficit instead of deliberating what to do with a surplus.”
On May 11, 1897, the commission placed the following public notice in the Deseret News. “All persons who came into the Valley of the Great Salt Lake in the year 1847 are entitled to be recognized as pioneers. Those who have not already done so will please report before June 1st, in writing or in person, giving full name and address. By order of the Semi-Centennial Commission, Spencer Clawson, Chairman.” A total of 749 pioneers were certified to be honored at the Jubilee. They hailed from 27 different states, the Indian Territory of the United States, and nine foreign countries.
International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Museum Memories (Talon Printing: Salt Lake City, 2011), 3: 108-110.

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