Young Ladies Relief Society of Nauvoo
TIMES AND SEASONS “TRUTH WILL PREVAIL”
Vol. IV. No. 10.] CITY OF NAUVOO, ILL. APRIL 1, 1843 [Whole No. 70.] page 153)
Excerpt from http://www.centerplace.org/history/ts/v4n10.htm
A SHORT SKETCH OF THE RISE OF THE YOUNG GENTLEMEN AND LADIES RELIEF SOCIETY OF NAUVOO.
One evening in the latter part of January last, a few young people having assembled at the house of elder H. C. Kimball; the follies of youth, and the temptations to which they are exposed generally, but more especially in our city, became the topic of conversation. The company were lamenting the loose style of their morals-the frivolous manner in which they spent their time-and their too frequent attendance at balls, parties, &c. &c., when elder Kimball proposed that an appointment should be given out expressly for the young ladies and gentlemen, and he would give them such instruction and advice as the spirit of the Lord might suggest to him; which, if followed, would doubtless lead to a reformation in the conduct of his young friends. This proposition was received with delight, and acted upon with alacrity. An appointment having been given out, a number of the young people assembled at the house of elder Billings, when elder Kimball addressed them for some time upon the duties of children to their parents, to society, and to their God; exhorting them to lay aside their vanity, lightmindedness, pride, and frivolity; and endeavor to show themselves worthy of the religion which they had embraced; advising them to shun evil company, (for by an individual’s company is his character estimated,) and to be obedient to their parents, for this was the first commandment with promise.
This address was so well received by the assembled congregation, that it was voted, almost by acclamation, that a similar meeting should be held on the ensuing week. An appointment was accordingly circulated for the next Wednesday evening at Br. Farr’s schoolroom, as elder Billings’ house was too small to contain the assemblage.
On the appointed evening, the room was filled to overflowing. Elder Kimball addressed the crowded, but silent and attentive congregation, for the space of an hour; in that plain, simple, and affectionate manner, which goes directly to the heart, and which is so natural to the speaker. He first explained the duty which the youth owed to themselves, and the manner in which they might obtain honor and respect, viz: by applying their minds with determined perseverance to all the studies commonly deemed necessary to fit them for active life, and polish them for society; and not to be these, but also the study of the Scriptures, by the book of Mormon, the book of Doctrine and Covenants, and the theological work of their most talented elders. By pursuing this course, said he, “you will be enabled to give a reason for the hope and the joy which exists within you-you will always be prepared to explain the doctrine in which you believe-you will ever be ready to prove and defend your religion-you will be well received in company, and will be esteemed by all wise and good men. We who have borne the heat and burden of the day, will soon go the way of all the earth, and give place to you, my young brethren. You will soon come upon the stage of action, and be called upon to carry the glad tidings of the new and everlasting covenant to the remotest parts of the earth, and proclaim the news of gospel grace to a lost and ruined world. Strive, therefore, to show yourselves worthy of your calling: be dutiful, be humble, be faithful, be obedient, and quit yourelves [yourselves] like men, and men of God.” He concluded his interesting discourse with a general exhortation to keep all of the commandments of God, to associate with none but the wise and virtuous, and lastly to keep themselves pure and unspotted from the world. This discourse like the preceding one, was received with delight by all the hearers. Brother Farr then made a few short but pertinent remarks, when a vote was taken whether the meetings should be continued, which was carried unanimously in the affirmative. This room being also too small, the next appointment was made for the meeting to be held at the house of President Smith. (page 154)
Notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather the house was completely filled at an early hour, and numbers were obliged to depart for want of room. The assembly were as usual addressed by elder Kimball, who, in a solemn and impressive manner, warned the young people against the evils to which they were exposed, and the temptations to which they were peculiarly subject; not only from their youth and inexperience, but also from their sanguine and excitable temperament. He exhorted them to be guided by the voice of reason and judgment, and pay strict attention to the advice and command of their parents, who being of maturer years, and a longer experience, are much better calculated to guide the pathway of youth, than they themselves. He warned them against giving heed to their passions, which he said would lead them into many snares, and difficulties. He advised them never to be too forward in company, for “a wise head keeps a silent tongue;” to be condescending to their inferiors, kind and conciliating to their equals, and deferential but not slavish to their superiors. He warned them against frequenting balls and such places, which, he said, would generally lead to many evil practices, and would draw away the mind from more innocent amusements, and from their duty to their parents. He said “he had not now, nor never had any objections to to having young people meet together in social parties, or indulging in any rational amusement: but, he strongly opposed carrying it to extremes, as it generally was.” He concluded this address by exhorting them to give heed to his advice, for it was according to the Holy Scriptures, and “to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The house being still too small, the next meeting was appointed at the lodge-room over President Smith’s store. At the appointed time this large room was filled to overflowing, and the great number which assembled, testified to the increasing interest, in which these meetings were held by the youth of the city. Again elder Kimball addressed them and gave them such advice as would be useful to them at the present time and also in their futures lives.
At the next meeting President Smith was present and addressed the young gentlemen and ladies for some time. He expressed his gratitude to elder Kimball in the strongest terms, for having commenced and carried on in so masterly a manner the good and glorious work he had undertaken. He said it would be the means of doing a great deal of good, and of benefitting [benefiting] his young friends more than they were aware of: that the gratitude of all good men, and of the young people whom he had so much benefitted [benefited], would follow him through life; and “when gray hairs should his temples adorn,” he could look back with pleasure upon the winter of 1843, when he was engaged in promoting the cause of benevolence, and prepairing [preparing[ his young friends for the glorious career which awaited them.
He said that he stood before them with more embarrassment, than he would before kings, nobles, and great men of the earth, for he knew the crimes of which they were guilty, and knew precisely how to address them; but his young friends before whom he now stood were guilty of none of these crimes, and he hardly knew what to say. He said he had never in his life seen such a large company of young people assembled together, pay such strict attention, listen with such profound silence, and keep such good order, as the assembly now before him. He praised their good conduct, and taught them how to behave in all places, explained to them their duty, and advised them to organize themselves into a society for the relief of the poor. As a commencement to their benevolent efforts, he offered a petitition [petition] from an English brother by the name of Modesley, who was lame, and who wished them to build him a house, that he might have a home among the saints: he had gathered together a few materials for this purpose, but was unable to use them; and, now, relying upon the active benevolence of the young people of Nauvoo, he sends in the petition that you may act upon it as you deem proper. He advised them to choose a committee to collect funds for this purpose, and perform this charitable work as soon as the weather became suitable.-He gave them much good advice, to guide their conduct through life and prepare them for a glorious eternity. He said he was very much pleased with the course elder Kimball had taken, and hoped he would continue his meetings and that the young people would follow his teachings.
A meeting was appointed for the young men to take these things into consideration: but owing to the appointment not being generally circulated, many of the young gentlemen were not present. The meeting was however called to order; Wm. Cutler was chosen president, and Marcellus L. Bates clerk: Andrew Cahoon, C. V. Spencer and Stephen Perry were appointed as a committee to draft a constitution for the government of the society. After hearing several speeches the meeting adjourned till the evening of the 28th of March.
At the next public meeting we were addressed by elders Kimball and Roundy, and as usual, received much good instruction. Elder Kimball advised us to choose our wisest young men, as officers of the society, and appoint a commttee to wait upon the young ladies, as well as (page 155)
gentlemen, and obtain their subscription; for, said he, ‘they are as full of benevolence, and as ready to assist in relieving the poor, as are the young gentlemen.‘ He also advised that no one be excluded from the society, of whatever sect or denomination he might be; but give every one an opportunity of doing all the good in their power. On this evening the storm was raging tremenduously [tremendously], and the cold north wind was blowing in a most searching manner; yet, contrary to the expectations of every one, the house was almost filled, not only with young men and boys, but with the tender, lovely and beautiful females of our city. They seemed determined to brave every extremity of the weather, rather than be absent from the place where they received such good instructions.-This showed the good effects which had already been produced by these meetings, and cheered on the spirits of him who had first commenced them, and had since been their chief promoter. Instead of the young people spending their evenings at parties, balls, &c., they would now leave all, and attend to their meeting. Instead of hearing about this party and that party, this dance and that dance, in different parts of the city; their name was scarcely mentioned, and the Young People’s Meetings became the chief topic of conversation.
Pursuant to adjournment, the young men convened together on the 21st of March. The minutes of the last meeting were read and approved, aud [and] the same officers appointed to preside as on the former evening. The report of the committee was then called for, which was as follows:
Whereas, The young gentlemen and ladies, citizens of the city of Nauvoo, are desirous of aiding and ameliorating the condition of the poor and of carrying out the principles of charity and benevolence, as taught in the holy scriptures, therefore, be it
Resolved, That we form ourselves into a society to be styled the “Young Gentlemen and Ladies Relief Society of Nauvoo,” and that we be governed by the following articles, to wit:
1st. There shall annually be elected by the society, on the last Tuesday in March, a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.
2d. It shall be the duty of the president to preside over all meetings of the society.
3d. It shall be the duty of the vice president to preside over all meetings in the absense [absence] of the president.
It shall be the duty of the treasurer to receive all funds of the society, and to keep a correct record of all the receipts and disbursements, also from whom received, and to whose benefit appropriated, and make a report of the same, as often as required by the society.
It shall furthermore be the duty be [by] the said treasurer, before entering into office, to give bonds to the amount of one thousand dollars to the society, for the faithful discharge of all duties incumbent upon him, which shall be lodged in the hands of the Trustee in Trust.
5th. It shall be the duty of the secretary to keep a record of all the proceedings of the society.
6th. There shall annually be chosen a committee of vigilance, consisting of five persons, whose duties it shall be to search out the poor of our city, and make known to the society the wants of those whom they, in their judgment, shall consider most deserving of our assistance.
7th. The society shall meet on the last Tuesday in each month, at 6 o’clock, P. M.
8th. A special meeting of the society can be called by a petition of twelve of the members, to the secretary, whose duty it shall be to give notice of the same, by posting up a written notice in at least, three of the most public places in the city, at least, three days previous to said meeting.
9th. This constitution shall be lodged in the hands of the secretary, whose duty it shall be to present it at each meeting of the society, and receive the names of all persons wishing to become members, under thirty years of age, who can sustain a good moral character, and who are willing to support this constitution.
10th. Any person being a member if this society, and being found guilty of any disorderly conduct, or refusing to comply with the rules of the society, can be expelled at any regular meeting of the same, by a vote of the majority of the members present.
11th. In the event of a removal, by death, or prolonged absence of either of the officers, it shall be the prerogative of the society to appoint another in his stead.
12th. This constitution shall be subject to an amendment at any regular meeting of the society, by the voice of two-thirds of the members present.
This report was unanimously adopted, and the meeting then proceeded to choose their officers. William Walker was chosen president, William Cutler, vice president; Lorin Walker, treasurer, and James M. Monroe, secretary.-Stephen Perry, Marcellus L. Bates, R. A. Alread, Wm. H. Kimball, and Garrett Ivans, were appointed as a committee of vigilance.-After some discussion the meeting adjourned until the next Tuesday evening.
At the next public meeting, the large and crowded assembly were addressed at considerable length, by elders Jedediah Grant, Brigham Young, and Heber C. Kimball. The addresses
(page 156) were very interesting and highly instructive, as the breathless silence and deep attention of the audience attested.
This is in short, a history of the rise of this society, which bids fair to be one of the most useful and benevolent societies in the Union.-Throughout all of the meetings, the most profound silence and the best of order was kept continually. If the youth throughout our land would follow this good example and form themselves into such societies, there would be much less sin, iniquity, misery, and degradation among the young people than there is at the present day; there would not be as many suffering poor, neither would there be as much immorality among the people. But on the contrary, peace, good order, happiness, cheerfulness and plenty, would reign in the land, the Lord would look down from his holy habitation and smile upon us, and bless us all.
J. M. Monroe, Secretary.