Monday, April 1, 2013

Nephi Anderson Sites in Brigham City

Nephi Anderson lived in Brigham City from 1890 to 1904. During that time, he worked as a teacher for the Third Ward schools, served a mission to Norway, and published  more than forty works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. In 1900 and 1902 he was elected and reelected county superintendent of schools, and in late 1903 he was called to assist Heber J. Grant in editing the Millennial Star in Great Britain.

Shortly after his call, tragedy struck. On Christmas Day 1903, his wife Asenath began showing signs of sickness. By the end of January 1904 she had not improved, and she died on the 26th. They had been married for just over seventeen years. Together, they had six children--two girls and four boys. Three of the boys died shortly after birth, though, and the surviving son, Gerald, was always sickly.

The grave marker for Nephi and Asenath's three sons who died  in infancy.
NOTE: The marker incorrectly identifies Anderson as Nephi C. Anderson rather than C. Nephi Anderson.
Curious...
Asenath was buried in the Brigham City Cemetery beside the graves of the three infant boys. I visited the graves last month during my trip to Utah for the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities conference. The graveyard is only a few blocks away from the home where I believe Anderson lived when his wife passed away. Nearby is also the grave of the Andersons' oldest daughter, Ronella, and her husband. It is also within sight of the grave of Lorenzo Snow, one of the founders of Brigham City and President of the Church between 1898 and 1901.

Asenath's headstone
What I believe to be Anderson's last home in Brigham City is now a funeral home, Olsen-Meyer Mortuary, across the street from the Box Elder Tabernacle and a block away from the new Brigham City Temple. I visited the home immediately after leaving the graveyard and found two women there who let me in and gave me a tour. Neither knew anything about Anderson or the history of the home--aside from the fact that it was owned by Lorenzo Snow--but they showed me what in the home was original and what had been added on when it was converted into the funeral home. They also let me take pictures.

Olsen-Meyer Mortuary
former residence of Nephi Anderson
205 South 100 East, Brigham City, UT
I believe Anderson lived in the home based on a picture I discovered in the digital collection of Utah State University, which labels it his home. I only hesitate to call it Nephi Anderson's home because I currently lack additional corroborating evidence tying him to the house. Also, on my way out of the cemetery, I saw a headstone for another Nephi Anderson in the city. It seems to have been a popular name. I don't want to jump to conclusions...

Nephi Anderson Home, ca. 1898
205 South 100 East, Brigham City, Utah
My optimistic guess, of course, is that it is his house. The picture is labeled 1898, which would place it around the time Added Upon was published. If this is his house, then it is likely that the woman and two girls on the front porch are Asenath, Ronella (age 11), and Laurine (age 2).

Asenath and Laurine?

Ronella?
The inside of the house is, as one would expect, funereally Victorian. The women who worked there, again, were unsure about what was and was not original to the house, but it had an old-ish decor and I image certain elements--the staircase, the fireplace, the chandelier--could possible date back to Anderson's day.





Perhaps the oddest part of my visit to the Nephi Anderson home was my glimpse into the Anderson bathroom--or what could have been his bathroom--which the funeral home now uses as a storage closet. The woman who showed me around said that they assume the room was the bathroom based on old pipes sticking from the wall. I have no reason to doubt them.


I hope to get better evidence that this was the house of the Nephi Anderson. If it was, then this house has enormous significance to Mormon literary history. Maybe after I make my first million, I will purchase it and turn it into an Anderson museum--especially since Anderson's Salt Lake City home near the 10th Ward Chapel is not a strip mall with a closed Hostess bakery shop.

Site of Anderson's last home
722 East 400 South, Salt Lake City
Now I just need to make my first million. Or try to crowd-fund my way into ownership. 

[Insert cynical laughter here.]

But on a more serious note, I end with a poem Anderson wrote in his Great Britain mission journal on 3 March 1905, what would have been Asenath's thirty-seventh birthday:

Dear Lord, to her who lives with Thee
     My birthday gift confer,
That she today my think of me,
     As I now think of her. 

Asenath Anderson Grave
Brigham City Cemetery
Post Script: Here are a few more picture for good measure...

The Logan Temple
Nephi Anderson and Asenath Tillotson were sealed here on 22 December 1886

Another shot of the house...

The Brigham City Temple
I think Anderson would like today's view from his old front porch step


A side view of the temple


Moroni...

The Box Elder Tabernacle
Across the street from Anderson's house. He would have attended meetings here. 

5 comments:

  1. .

    I had some serious comments to make, but then I saw you posted an upskirt of Moroni. For shame, Scott.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome — I'm familiar with Nephi Anderson and grew up in Brigham City but had no idea that he had lived there, much less (possibly) in the mortuary near the tabernacle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He grew up in the Ogden area and moved to Brigham City early in his married life after he lost his teaching job in Ogden because of political differences with the newly elected school administration. He lived in Brigham City until his wife's death, when he left on a mission to the UK. After his return, he moved to SLC where he stayed the remainder of his life.

      Someday I'll hunt around Ogden for Anderson sites. I think most of his extended family, including his parents, are buried there.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for all this great stuff! I am Nephi's great-grandson and have been trying to keep his memory alive on the web (I wrote the original Wikipedia article and I keep a bibliography and catalog on my blog). I'm sure I'll be visiting your page again! ~Joseph Nephi Anderson, Logan, Utah

    ReplyDelete