Book Review: “Cowboy Apostle:The Diaries of Anthony W. Ivins, 1875-1932”


A Young Anthony W Ivins

In December 2013 Signature Books released the latest volume in their important “Significant Mormon Diaries” series.  The title is “Cowboy Apostle:The Diaries of Anthony W. Ivins, 1875-1932”.  Ivins, who is almost unknown now, played a very important role in the LDS Church from the time that he was called to lead the LDS colonies in Mexico in the late 1890’s, through his call into the Quorum of the 12, through his time in the First Presidency.  A cousin to Heber J Grant and a son-in-law of Eurastas Snow, Ivins was “well connected” in the Mormon leadership circles for much of his life. A prominent Democrat, Ivins was considered the man most likely to become Utah’s first governor upon statehood, but, before that could occur the Church called him to move to Mexico.  Ivins did not hesitate for a moment, he answered what to him was a call from God, left everything behind, and spent the next decade in the Mormon Mexican colonies.  Ivins led a fascinating life and his diaries open a rich window to what is almost almost time in Mormon History.


Title: Cowboy Apostle: The Diaries of Anthony W. Ivins, 1875-1932
Editor: Elizabeth O Anderson
Number of Pages: 687
Binding: Cloth/Fine
ISBN13: 978-1-56085-226-1
Price: Cloth/Fine $125.00 Kindle $20.00


1992 Visitors Guide from my mission visit

1992 Visitors Guide from my mission visit

I served my proselyting mission for the LDS Church in the Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission in the early 1990s. The very first area of the mission that I served in had within its boundaries one of Oklahoma City’s major tourist attractions – The National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center (now called the “National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum”). In the Cowboy Hall of Fame there is a room called the “Hall of Great Westerners.” In this room are plaques with the names of all the inductees who lived through the Frontier Era and contributed to the building of the West. It was something of a tradition in the Oklahoma City Mission when I served for the missionaries to visit the “Hall of Great Westerners” and have their picture taken next to the plaque with Brigham Young’s name on it (I still have mine all these years later). What none of us knew at the time was that in that same room there was a plaque for another former member of the LDS First Presidency – Anthony W. Ivins, Apostle and First Counselor to Heber J Grant. After having gotten to know and spend time with Ivins through the fifty-seven years’ worth of diary entries in “Cowboy Apostle: The Diaries of Anthony W. Ivins, 1875-1932,” I wish that I had known about him in 1992 so that I could have had my picture with his plaque too. (By way of information, J. Reuben Clark of the First Presidency, Jacob Hamblin, and Jessie Knight are also in the “Hall of Great Westerners.”)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has grown, evolved, and changed quite a bit over the years. As I write this review (early 2014) the LDS Church currently claims 15 million members in 29,014 congregations around the globe (see accessed March 2014). The Church is directed by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve who are based at a large, ultra-modern campus in Salt Lake City. Along with the Salt Lake Temple and Tabernacle this campus includes a 28-story office building, a high security “Administration building,” multiple “visitors centers,” a 21,000 seat arena-style “Conference center,” several Church-operated restaurants, museums, libraries, and a multi-billion dollar shopping mall that includes high scale housing. The current apostles who run the modern Church function much more like business executives administering a worldwide corporation than did their frontier counterparts from the days of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Those early apostles were largely farmers, laborers, ranchers and the like. They spent most of their time doing missionary work, starting and managing settlements, and working personally among their fellow saints. Today’s apostles have advanced educational degrees and before their ordination were doctors, lawyers, college presidents, scientists and business owners and executives. These modern Church administrators manage the Church and its businesses from their Salt Lake offices and communicate largely through satellite and internet broadcasts as well as emails and other electronic means. Their contact with average Church members is limited to brief, “once in a lifetime” visits, if it happens at all.

In a way both the early and the modern groups of Church leaders are at least somewhat well known. Stories and books about early Church leaders and their pioneering heroism abound. It is not that hard to find a wealth of stories about leaders starting with the time of Joseph Smith and the events of the 1830s up to stories covering the lives and times of Lorenzo Snow and Joseph F. Smith at the beginning of the 20th century. Likewise, while fewer people know the modern Church leaders first-hand, thanks to the internet and modern Church communication efforts, basic information on the lives and travels of modern Church leaders is not that hard to find. Indeed, one need only go to,, or the “Church News”/”Mormon Times” section of to find recent and even continuous updates on the travels, doings, and sayings of the current top 15 leaders of the LDS Church. But in between these two times are leaders and stories that are almost unknown to most Church members today. In “Cowboy Apostle,” Elizabeth Anderson has opened Anthony Ivins’ personal window to modern readers on this much less well known in-between time, a time that at least one author has called “Mormonism in Transition.”

Cover, 3rd Ed. Mormonism in Transition

Cover, 3rd Ed. Mormonism in Transition

Anthony Ivins truly was a “Cowboy Apostle.” He was born at a time when Mormon pioneers were still leading oxcarts and handcarts to the Utah territory and he traveled to the Utah territory himself in one of these trains as a child. Before becoming an apostle, he spent most of his life in the frontier settlement of Saint George and the Mormon colonies of Mexico. In his diary he wrote about ranches, cattle, branding, horses, hunting, fishing, farm life, Indian raids, “Desperados” and the like. Often in Mexico he was called upon to purchase land or animals or both and arrange for their care. Most of his life was “on the frontier” in what we moderns would consider very primitive conditions. But by the time he was called into the First Presidency in 1921, Mormonism was well on its way into its “transition” into the “business model” of operation that it is in now. Ivins and many of his contemporary apostles and First Presidency members started their lives on the frontier and concluded their lives managing a growing church in business offices, trying to reconcile their “cowboy” ways and pasts with the needs of managing a Church that was turning (in many respects) into a “business.” The diary of Anthony Ivins shows us that these “Mormons in transition” leaders have a fascinating story to tell.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. I loved it. It is destined to be a classic book in what has become a classic series. Just about every Mormon book collecting nerd or historian (amateur or professional) who desires to have a complete collection of important works on early Mormonism, has or wants to have, books form the Significant Diaries Series by Signature Books. “Cowboy Apostle” is a worthy addition to the series. It is a beautiful, finely produced, solid book that will be a splendid addition to any bookshelf. If nothing else it will be beautiful just to set on a shelf and look at. But you will want to do far more than that, for in its pages is a wealth of anthropological information wrapped up in a very interesting life. This book presents a world just waiting to be discovered.

“Cowboy Apostle” starts with an editor’s introduction. This 25-page document provides much background information on Anthony Ivins, his family, and the times in which they lived. It also sets up and explains his diaries and journals, what he recorded in them, his writing style, and how Anderson incorporated the journals and diaries into this book. This is followed by a section of genealogical information on the Ivins and Snow families, and a section of photographs and maps. The diaries themselves are divided up into five sections and twelve chapters. Section One, “Mission to Mexico,” includes the chapters “Exploration, 1875-1876,” “Winter Expedition, 1878,” and “Mexico City, 1882-1884.” Section Two, “Rancher and Politician,” has one chapter, “St. George, 1884-1895.” Section Three, “Mission President,” is divided into “Colonia Juarez, 1895-1897,” “The Sierra Madre, 1898-1900,” “Revisiting the Mission, 1901-1903,” and “Small Pox, 1904-1907.” The final two sections are Section Four, “LDS Apostle” with the chapters “Speaking to the Saints, 1907-1909,” “Revolution, 1910-1913,” and “Counting the Minutes, 1914-192” and Section Five, “First Presidency” which has one chapter, “Counselor, 1921-1932.” The book concludes with three appendixes, which are by themselves almost worth the price of admission. They are A) “A. W. Ivins Record Book of Marriages,” B) “Polygamy in Mexico as Practiced by the Mormon Church, 1895-1905,” an essay written in 1970 by Ivins’ son H. Grant Ivins, and C) “Remarks of Hon. Clarence E. Allen of Utah in the House of Representatives,” which is an excerpt from the transcripts of the Smoot congressional hearings.

The actual diaries start with Ivins’ call to go on the first mission to Mexico in 1875. Many LDS readers might be familiar with the Church’s first Mexican mission from having read or heard stories about it as recorded by Daniel W. Jones in his famous autobiography/adventure story, “Forty Years Among the Indians.” This mission experience was not without its troubles, and the missionaries sometimes had difficulty getting along. Jones, with his frontier experience, was appointed by Brigham Young to act as the leader of the group of missionaries. Jones describes many of the difficulties that the missionaries faced and his solutions to them. He describes all of his actions as being justified and necessary to get the young missionaries into shape and to get the Church into a new country and culture. However, the other missionaries, including the young Ivins, felt that he could be unreasonable and dictatorial at times. Jones and Ivins obviously had a different interpretation of events and facts. It is interesting to read Ivins’ account of the mission after having been familiar with Jones’ account. Ivins’ personality and humor really become evident at this stage of the diaries and it was fun to read of his experiences and observations and compare them to the experiences of missionaries today. Some of my favorite quotes and stories from this section include:

“[October 30, 1882, Monday] I lost one of my sleeve buttons this morning, supposed it was while at the post office but while the servant who cleans up our room was sweeping she found it and left it on the table, thus proving that the popular idea that all Mexican servants are thieves is incorrect, no one could have known the button was in her possession” (p. 55. which just goes to show how old and unchanging some racist prejudices are and what a long way we have to go to overcome them).

On several occasions Ivins’ challenges with fleas and bedbugs come up:

“[January 8, 1883, Monday]…The house in which we were was made of reed canes stuck in the ground and plastered on the inside with mud. My bed consisted of a mat on the ground floor and the blankets I had carried with me in my hand. Flies were annoying me during the night. 69 (p. 62)

(Footnote 69, same page) …Ivins frequently wrote to his wife about the bugs and fleas he had to contend with. One comical excerpt described his frustration, ‘An unrelenting war has been going on between us ever since my arrival and it is yet quite uncertain who will be victorious. I am making splendid head way against the bugs but the lively flea holds his own pretty well.’ He explained that he would sleep in his long, ‘knit drawers which fit very tight, draw my stockings over them and tie a string tightly around my ankles,’ with socks over his hands and a handkerchief around his neck.

[December 7, 1883, Friday]…Our bed consisted of a petate spread on the dirt floor… 114 (p. 82)

(note 114, same page) Ivins journal adds that they had, ‘flees innumerable for bed fellows” (see also entry for September 1, 1898, p. 194).

A Petate like the one Ivins might have slept on

A Petate like the one Ivins might have slept on

In entries covering August 4, 1883 to August 18, 1883, Ivins details the story of a couple of missionaries who were arrested and accused of breaking Mexican law. In a telling footnote Anderson provides an excerpt of a letter that Ivins wrote to his wife where he describes how one of the missionaries was too much of an “enthusiast” who demonstrated a “lack of wisdom and discretion” (see pp. 72-74). This entry was a nice reminder that not all problems that Mormon pioneers and missionaries ran into were caused by “persecution” and non-Mormons being “wicked.” Some of those challenges were caused by the Mormons’ and missionaries’ own bad judgment and poor decisions. Ivins’ concern for fairness and justice comes out somewhat subtly in an entry for August 24th, 1883. He states that the land of a particular village was all owned by one man and that the “Indians” were being “required” to pay “taxes or rather contributions…for the privilege of living on the lands which have for ages belonged to their fathers” (p. 75). There is one more entry in this missionary section of which I wish to make particular note. It is the recording of a story which is likely to be the most important entry in this section for many historians. Starting on page 98 is an entry titled “Reminiscence, September 1895.” This entry goes on for 17 pages and concludes the first section of “Cowboy Apostle.” In it Ivins catches his diary up on a number of important happenings in his life that he had not already recorded in his diary. One of these stories, taking up the entirety of page 104 and the top of page 105, is Ivins’ description of his attendance at the execution of John D Lee. He states that, when the shots that ended Lee’s life were fired, he was close enough to Lee to “distinguish his features and hear his voice but not to understand what he said.”

Close up of John D Lee sitting on his casket waiting to be executed

Close up of John D Lee sitting on his casket waiting to be executed

The next section, “Mission President,” covers Ivins’ time as leader of the Mormon colonies in Mexico. It is the longest (almost 300 pages) section in the diaries and is the section that will likely be of most interest to most historians. Ivins’ call to preside over the Mormon colonies in Mexico, according to his daughter Anna, included “a mandate to continue polygamous ceremonies in the colonies” (Introduction, p. xxv). Anderson states it was this daughter’s opinion “that the very purpose of the Mormon colonies in Mexico was to provide ‘a refuge for polygamist families who desired to escape the persecution (in the) United States’” (p. xxv, this is no big secret or startling revelation). Anderson then states that if Ivins thought that polygamy was dead after the manifesto of 1890 then his “1895 call to be a mission president” was engineered “to specifically enable the church to keep sub rosa what was still considered to be an essential, eternal principle” (p. xxv). During this time Ivins performed or was involved in over 60 covert “post manifesto” plural marriages (I say “involved in” because sometimes he was in attendance when apostles such as John W. Taylor, Matthias Cowley, or Owen Woodruff performed the sealing). All of these marriages that are known are listed in Appendix A, “A.W. Ivins’ Record Book of Marriages”. Now, lest anyone buy the book and then be disappointed, Ivins *never* comes right out and says, “Today I performed some polygamous marriages”, and he never even gives his personal feelings on polygamy (the Introduction, Appendix B materials, and some of the footnotes indicate that he felt that it was wrong and dishonest of the Church and its leaders/members to look for loopholes to the Woodruff Manifesto, but being obedient, he did his duty and performed the ceremonies). There are some indirect references to these marriages, however, and this is where the footnotes by Anderson become invaluable. For instance, on June 22, 1897, Ivins recorded, “…I returned & at 11 A.M. met Bros. [Bryant] Stringham, [Walter] Steed & [Daniel] Snarr. 160.” Footnote 160 says, “This is an abbreviated reference to three plural marriages Ivins was the officiator for…” Anderson then lists the names of all involved and cites the record in Appendix A and Carmon Hardy’s book, “Solemn Covenant: Mormon Polygamous Passage” (p. 173). One of the most interesting polygamy-related issues that I found in this section is about Matthias Cowley of the Quorum of the Twelve. On October 28, 1905 he and John W. Taylor gave letters of resignation to the Twelve/First Presidency, resigning their membership in the Twelve to help protect the Church over issues of Post-Manifesto plural marriage. These resignations, however, were not announced to the Church until the following General Conference in April of 1906. In Ivins’ diary he records a visit of Elder Cowley along with Apostle George Teasdale that took place from March 9th, 1906 to March 11th, 1896. Ivins still refers to Cowley as an Apostle and Cowley was “sustained” in and spoke at the meetings. These important entries give much support to the idea that the resignations of Cowley and Taylor were just for show to appease the US government and that up until the last possible minute, the Presidency and Twelve were not even decided on whether or not they would enforce the resignations.

To me what was even more interesting than the hints at polygamy in this section was that Ivins really gave a great taste of how differently things were done in the LDS Church during his time in Mexico. This is especially evident in how leaders were chosen and sustained. In the diaries there are quite a few stories about people criticizing their bishops/bishoprics, or wanting them released, etc. There are also stories about bishops or other leaders “resigning,” about higher leaders asking wards/congregations to “nominate” someone for bishop, and other procedures that would seem quite alien to Mormons today who are used to having all of these kinds of things dictated to them from the top down with their only being asked to give a “sustaining” vote for the actions that happen. (See for example entries for November 8, 1897 on pages 180-181; February 12th and 13th 1899 on pages 200-202; December 3 and 8, 1899, pp 216-218; May 31, 1902 and June 2 1902, pp. 302-304; November 14, 1903, pp. 334-335; and December 11, 1904, p. 350.)

Like many missionaries and mission presidents, Ivins found himself having to deal with new and different foods and cultural practices while on his mission and serving as a Stake/Mission President. Some of these stories really help to show his personality and sense of humor. For example, on January 12, 1897, he recorded, “…Bros. [Patrick] Haynie and [Calvin] Anderson…saw several deer and a Javelin[a], killed one of the latter. It is an animal between a hog and a deer, more like the former. The flesh is fairly good, tast[e]s like pork” (at least he did not say that it tastes like chicken!). Ivins did not like pride and austerity and I found some of his description of what he saw as a very haughty Mexican village to be amusing:

“…The people…their ranches, cattle, horses, chickens and dogs are all mongrel but with an air of refinement…(their) little scrawny mongrel roosters strut about proudly as pure bred guineas while the mangey dogs & razor back hogs…are happy in the thought that there is no one in the world better in their kind than they are…” (p. 139).

At an earlier time in his missionary experiences he recorded the following story about being invited to dedicate an oven for a bakery that ends with what seems to be a deadpan “one liner”:

[November 7, 1882, Tuesday] …Bro [Silviano] Artega had built an oven for the purpose of starting a bakery and he requested that we…dedicate the oven…While waiting for the arrival of parties who had been invited the oven suddenly collapsed with a great crash…A moment before I had been standing immediately in front of the oven with my head in the door looking at the inside…The dedication of course did not take place… (pp. 57-58 ).

A Javelina

A Javelina

Other points of interest in this section include Ivins’ thoughts on Catholicism and the start of Mormonism in Mexico (see entry for April 24, 1896, p. 139), much of his “Cowboy” experience (see for example the entries for May 9, 1897 to June 6 1897, pp 170-171 where he records a number of days spent guarding, branding and doing other work with cattle), his objections to vigilantism and violence against natives (see entry for January 1, 1898, on page 186 and November 13, 1900, pp. 254-256), the beginning of Lorenzo Snow’s emphasis on tithing (see entry for July 2, 1899, page 210 and others), the teaching that LDS General Authorities are descendants of Christ and His Apostles (same date, p. 211), sealings performed outside of temples (January 21, 1900, p. 223), discussion of the “second anointing” temple ordinance that is almost unknown today (see April 9, 1900, p. 238-239; April 8, 1901, pp 268-269; October 7, 1902, p. 314; and April 7, 1903, p 323) the controversy with Brigham Young Academy President Benjamin Cluff taking a post manifesto wife and his failed expedition to South America (see March 20, 1900 p 244 and footnote 128; see also July 31, 1900 an August 13 and 14 1900 pp 247-249), and Apostle Abraham Owen Woodruff and his wife Helen’s catching and dying of small pox while traveling in Mexico to avoid testifying in the Smoot hearings (May 27, 1904, p. 343 and others).

In the final sections of the book you get to witness Ivins’ adjustment to being called into and serving in the Twelve and then the First Presidency, discussions about the incorrectness of the “Adam God” doctrine, the ecclesiastical trials of those who continued to marry in polygamy after the “Second Manifesto of 1904,” the rise of “Mormon Fundamentalism,” attempts to manage Church businesses, Ivins’ teachings and ideas on various Church doctrines, and other issues.

There are several final points of interest that I wish to make specific mention of. Modern Church sealings can *only* take place in a temple and *must* be witnesses by *two Priesthood holders.* Appendix A is the list of the marriages that Ivins participated in. It includes the names of those being sealed, the dates of the sealing, and the names of the witnesses. These entries show that one some occasions there was only *one witness* and on others there was one male and one female witness, and even time where *both* witnesses were women. Usually these women were Ivins’ wife Elizabeth and or his daughter Florence, but other women acted as witnesses too. Appendix B, the essay on Polygamy in Mexico by Ivins’ son H. Grant Ivins, is an amazing document. It really demonstrates the challenges and hardships endured by those who went into or helped with post-Manifesto plural marriage either by permission or instruction of the First Presidency between 1890 and 1904. While Presidents Woodruff, Smith, or Cannon gave them permission to enter these polygamous unions, these families were then later told by the Church and subsequent leaders that what they had done was wrong. They even had to listen to repeated denials by these brethren both to the Church in general and the rest of the world that these marriages never took place or were without permission. Grant Ivins also mentions the idea directly that Church leaders at this time had no problem lying about plural marriage and felt justified in doing so. According to Grant Ivins:

“one of the Presidents of the Church made (this) statement in a meeting of high Church leaders, ‘I would lie anytime to save one of my brothers.”… Loyalty to family, country or church has often been placed above simple honesty. The long struggle, amounting to a state of war at times, between the Church members and their neighbors, often even their government, made deception and subterfuge a virtue in their eyes” (p. 625).

Grant Ivins also records that when another brother first tried to deliver the record of the sealings that their father performed to the First Presidency, Heber J. Grant said, “Take it away, take it away, we want nothing to do with it.” The next day J. Reuben Clark sent for the record which Grant Ivins assumed was then buried deep in the historian’s office (p. 626). He then goes on to list a number of the times that the leaders of the Church in the 1930s and 40s denied that post manifesto marriages took place and even times where they called those who said that they or their parents had permission for their marriages liars. After these quotes he cites a personal letter that he got from the First Presidency in the 1940s which said in part, “We have your letter regarding our statement on the subject of plural marriages after the 1890 Manifesto. All the world knows the stand of the Church on the polygamy question. If you have any further information on this subject, we shall be glad to receive it” (see pages 646-647). He also states that these repeated denials and statements by “the Brethren” put “those children born of parents married in polygamy…during the years 1890-1904…in a most embarrassing position” (p. 651). I can scarcely imagine the mental, emotional, and spiritual gymnastics that Grant Ivins and all of these children of post Manifesto polygamy had to do in order to stay faithful to the Church and its leaders who were calling them liars in public and in private (and essentially telling the children that they were “bastards”), when these children of previously approved secret polygamy well knew that most of those leaders knew and could spread the truth if they wanted to. It is truly amazing to me that they managed to do it. It is also interesting to compare these repeated denials about post-Manifesto polygamy to the recent Church statement that now admits to post-Manifesto polygamy that can be found in the “Gospel Topics” section of the official Church website,

Again, I really loved this book. Anderson did an excellent job as an editor and is to be commended for her gift to the LDS Church. Before I wrap up this review I do want to note that I did find several problems and what I thought were interesting decisions in Anderson’s footnotes. These issues are of several kinds: there were a few that to me seemed to be mistaken or unclear in their information, there were a few places where I would have liked footnotes when there were not any, and there was a place or two where I found the choice of citation in the footnotes to be interesting. On page 46, note 7 states, “Matthias F. Cowley (188-1940) became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve in 1897 but was forced to resign fourteen years later for performing unauthorized plural marriages.” It then notes that in 1911 Cowley lost the right to use the priesthood for continuing to be involved with teachings related to polygamy. Cowley resigned from the Quorum of the Twelve along with John W Taylor October 28th 1905 and it was announced to the Church the following April. This is *eight years* after his call to the Twelve. The “fourteen years later” reflects the time from his call to when he was suspended from using the priesthood in 1911.

On page 142, under the date of May 1st, 1896, Ivins records details about the ambush and shooting of John Tobin which had occurred in 1857. Andreson’s footnote number 91 mentions that the Tobin story is told “somewhat differently” than Ivins recorded it “in Edward Leo Lyman, ‘San Bernardino: The Rise and Fall of a California Community’” which, like “Cowboy Apostle,” was published by Signature Books (in 1996). Lyman’s book is important, and I completely understand the desire to give a nod to another book by Signature (which I applaud) but I was surprised that in her footnote Anderson did not mention the article “‘Pursue, Retake & Punish’: The 1857 Santa Clara Ambush” by Ardis E. Parshall. Parshall’s article, which was published in the Utah Historical Quarterly in the Winter 2005, v 73, no. 1 is considered quite important for its research on this attack and contains information not available to Ivins or Lyman that showed that the attack was a case of mistaken identity. According to Parshall, the Tobin party was not the target of the attack; another party with two convicts in it was. Parshall is cited by Anderson in one of her footnotes already (see note 70 on page 499) so it would have made sense to cite her here.

On page 213, under the date of July 22, 1899, Ivins discusses the “Temple Lot” lawsuit that was taking place between the Reorganized Church (whom he calls “Josephites”) and the Hedrickites/Church of Christ Temple Lot. The dispute was over who had the right to own the “Temple Lot” in Independence Missouri that had been purchased in the 1830s by Bishop Partridge and dedicated by Joseph Smith for the building of a temple. In her footnote, number 76, Anderson mentions that the Hedrickites “owned” the “temple lot site” and that they “eventually prevailed” in the lawsuit. This is correct, and I realize that Anderson was trying to be succinct, but it would be more accurate to note that the “Temple Lot” as dedicated by Smith took in some 64 acres. By the 1890s the RLDS Church (now Community of Christ) had come into possession of *most* of that lot (it is now the site of their temple and auditorium). The Hedrickites only owned 2.5 acres, but those 2.5 acres included the spot where Joseph was said to have actually stood when he dedicated the lot. The RLDS felt that they had a right to those especially sacred 2.5 acres and they really wanted them so they sued the Hedrickite church for them. The RLDS Church lost, as Anderson noted, but her footnote makes it sound as if the Hedrickites owned or had the whole lot in their possession, which they did not.

Richard R Lyman Click here for Journal of Mormon History article on his excommunication

Richard R Lyman Click here for Journal of Mormon History article on his excommunication

On page 567, note 105 (which is connected to an entry for January 27, 1918) is about Richard R. Lyman. It notes his call to the “twelve” “like his father and grandfather before him,” and then states, “he would eventually be excommunicated for entering a relationship with a woman he considered to be a spiritual wife. His real wife, Amy Lyman, would *nevertheless become* president of the church-wide Relief Society.” The wording “nevertheless become the president” makes it sound like Amy Brown Lyman became the General Relief Society President *after* he husband’s excommunication. This is incorrect. Amy Brown Lyman was called as General Relief Society president in 1940 after having served as First Counselor since 1929. Richard R Lyman was not excommunicated until 1943, three years after his wife’s call. Amy Lyman then resigned her position in 1945 largely due to the stress related to her husband’s excommunication.

There are two other footnote related points that I wish to mention but these relate more to my personal taste than to any deficiency on the part of the book or editor. *Most* of the sources that Anderson cites are of a historical or scholarly nature so one of her sources took me by surprise. Note 5 on page 46 supplies a brief history of Heber J. Grant and then references “Heber J. Grant: Exemplar to the Saints” by Matthew Haslam, published by Covenant Communications. I am assuming that Anderson chose to cite that book because it was the most recently published book on Grant and may therefore be the most accessible publication on him for most people. Unfortunately the publications on Grant are few, and the only one that approaches being scholarly in nature is “Qualities That Count: Heber J. Grant as Businessman, Missionary, and Apostle” which was a special issue of BYU Studies published in 2004. But I still found it kind of odd that a book filled with scholarly citations would cite an unscholarly book by a company that is mostly known for publishing “faith promoting/feel good books” of an LDS nature.

The other concern hat I had about footnotes was that there were so few in Appendix B, the polygamy essay by Ivin’s son H. Grant Ivins. With the few exceptions notes above, Anderson’s footnotes in the diaries are excellent and invaluable, especially on the polygamy-related issues; the diary would be much less valuable without them. In this essay, there are several times where Ivins gives quotations, some of them lengthy without giving a source. Anderson provides footnote sources for a couple of them (see for example, note 13 on page 642 which refers the reader to the publication “Unpublished Revelations” to find a copy of a revelation attributed to John Taylor) but most of the quotes used have no citation or reference. I guess all of Anderson’s good footnotes in the diaries spoiled me because I wish that she had supplied them for the essay too. What is there is still very good, it just would have been nice to have more sources and context for some of the things that Ivins’ son talked about in the essay.

“Cowboy Apostle” is an excellent book and will indoctrinate the reader into an unfamiliar time in LDS Church history while telling the story of a fascinating man. It stands alone well and does not need any additional support to do what it was meant to do. That said there are a few resources that may benefit the reader, especially if they are interested in post-manifesto polygamy. Anderson herself cites several times the book “Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage” by B. Carmon Hardy and published by the University of Illinois Press. This is an invaluable book for Mormon historians and lay persons alike and goes hand in hand with the information found in “Cowboy Apostle.” Another great companion is the “Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought” classic article “LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890–1904” by D Michael Quinn. Great web resources that will augment the study of “Cowboy Apostle” include the Signature Books online library.  This library contains digital copies of many of Signature’s out of print books including other books from the “Significant Diaries” collection. Some of these online books, such as “A Ministry of Meetings: The Apostolic Diaries of Rudger Clawson” (edited by Stan Larson), “Church, State, and Politics: The Diaries of John Henry Smith” (edited by Jean Bickmore White), and “Letters from Exile: The Correspondence of Martha Hughes Cannon and Angus M. Cannon, 1886-1888” (edited by Constance L. Lieber and John Sillito) cover either the same time period, some of the same meetings, mention the same people, and cover the same or similar issues (especially polygamy-related issues) and will greatly enhance the perspective and information offered in “Cowboy Apostle.” Another great online resource is a video of Elizabeth Anderson discussing “Cowboy Apostle” at Benchmark Books in Salt Lake City that was recorded on January 22nd, 2014.

One of the absolutely coolest things about “Cowboy Apostle” is that it is available as a Kindle download for $20.00. When the Significant Diaries series started in the late 1980s Kindle, e-books and e-readers were still in their pre-mortal lives. Home computers were large, clunky, expensive, and slow. Computer functions/speeds and memory were still measured in kilobytes and megabytes. Only a few nerds, scientists, and professors had heard of the internet and gigabytes. Back then the first book in this series could be purchased for about $65.00 BUT you had to go to a specialty store to buy a copy. Since each book in the series had a limited run of 500 numbered collectible copies they were and are somewhat rare and hard to find (one might say that, much like the early internet, only nerds and Mormon historians knew about them), and they got more expensive as time passed. The last two or three volumes new will set you back about 125 clams, used copies of some early volumes easily sell for over $500. Not many people have that kind of money lying around. If you wanted to buy the next book you were lucky if you could convince your significant other to let you buy one. But *NOW* all that has changed! For $20.00 anyone with any level of interest in Mormon history can (and should) be able to buy a copy, and in an easy to access Kindle format too! If you do not have a Kindle, but you have a computer, tablet or smart phone it is worth downloading the free Kindle app JUST to be able to get this book. I would still highly encourage anyone who can to get a printed copy. The Significant Diaries series of books are among the most elegant and well produced non-leather books that have ever been released in the Mormon book collecting world. *PLUS* when you buy a copy you support two dying breeds, an independent book publisher who is publishing magnificent scholarly works, and you are supporting your local, independent book seller. So, buy a numbered hardback if you can (you will never regret it) but if you cannot, than buy a digital copy (you will be very glad you did).


The Reviewer as a 19 year old missionary at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame

The Reviewer as a 19 year old missionary at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame

Signature Books webpage on “Cowboy Apostle”

My review at the Association For Mormon Letters

Purchase from Bear Hollow Books

Purchase from Benchmark Books

Purchase from Confetti Books


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