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From the pulpit in October 1907 General Conference

S.L. overflows with visitors; talks address faith and families

October General Conference in 1907 for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hit a Salt Lake milestone — a significant shortage of accommodations for conferencegoers. "Saints asked to open homes to visitors. Committee issues a call to residents to take care of those who are unable to obtain accommodations — Many walked the streets last night for want of a bed" was a Friday, Oct. 4, 1907, headline in the Deseret News.

The accompanying story stated: "For the first time in the history of Salt Lake, conference visitors walked the streets last night. Formerly the neighborhood spirit was so strong that such visitors had no hesitancy about asking for accommodations at the homes of fellow members of the church.

"Now it is necessary, with the larger Salt Lake, and the mixed character of the incoming throngs, to provide a central information bureau, where conference visitors may be informed of the location of homes where accommodations can be had.

"The hotels are hopelessly overfilled; the rooming houses have allowed their accommodations to be bid up to exorbitant figures."

A new information bureau opened just outside the south gate of Temple Square to organize accommodations. An estimated 5,000 conference visitors arrived in town just on Oct. 4.

"Attendance increases. Twelve Thousand people gather in large Tabernacle for second day of conference," was the main headline in the Deseret News on Saturday, Oct. 5, 1907.

One of the themes of Saturday's sessions was the welfare of children. Elder Rudger Clawson of the Quorum of the Twelve said there were 86,740 children in the church under 8 years of age — "a veritable army."

Elder George A. Smith said there was a lack of children in France and the (French) government was considering offering incentives for mothers with more than three children.

"No one understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ would refuse to bring into the world sons and daughters of God, in his image, and whose spirits are his offspring," Elder Smith said.

He said God is not pleased with the misuse of the creative ability, "and it will rebound to the sorrow and chagrin of those adopting such methods."

Elder Reed Smoot warned church members regarding "fakes and fakers."

"No faker in the world ever gave the people something for nothing," he said. "I say, brothers and sisters, if you haven't faith enough in the principles of the gospel to be healed by faith, send for your local doctor, whom you know, and who has a reputation to maintain."

He spoke against travelers who peddle tonics and syrups, some which sooth "thousands of babies into the grave."

It was also announced that the church entered into a new contract to print another 100,000 copies of the Book of Mormon. Full-time missionaries in the field were also reported to be "doing very well traveling without purse or scrip."

The church also was said to be increasing more rapidly in number than any other church in America.

Rain on Saturday night and Sunday morning during general conference did not seem to lessen the crowds, the Deseret News reported.

At the close of October 1907 General Conference, Anthony W. Ivins, 55, president of the Juarez Stake in Mexico, was chosen to fill a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve. That vacancy came when Elder George Teasdale died on June 9, 1907, at age 75.

"That the selection came as a surprise to the recipient of the honor, as well as the general public, was apparent," the Deseret News reported on the new apostle.

The Deseret News also reported that "the capacity of the Tabernacle was taxed to its utmost Sunday afternoon."

Overflow meetings were held in Assembly and Barrett halls. Because of a lack of electronics in 1907, those overflow meetings had separate speakers. For example, the Deseret News stated the speakers in the Assembly Hall were chosen "from among the presidents of stakes in the more remote portions of the state, from the presidents of missions and other posts of similar nature."

Veterans of the handcart companies also held a special pre-conference reunion on the Thursday prior to General Conference at the 14th Ward meetinghouse.


E-mail: lynn@desnews.com