I recently spent some time in Utah. As I am wont, I spent a couple days at the various archives (LDS, UU & BYU). I cast my net and received a bounty. One First Presidency letter I stumbled upon in Lester Bush’s papers at the UU reminded me of some of the comments in a previous thread on Brigham Young’s natural gifts:
Answering your letter of the 12th.
I know of no instance where the Lord has appeared to an individual since His appearance to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Sincerely your brother,
[signed] Heber J. Grant (1)
This is a remarkable letter on many fronts. First, in a day when the only attention letters to the prophet get are in General Conference and then only when they outline the horrors of a particular vice, it is delightful to see a simple answer to a question. The First Presidency letterpress is chock full of this fun stuff well into the McKay era.
Second, it defies certain auras of special-witnessness regularly found in popular Mormon culture.
I tried to think if there were any well attested accounts to the contrary of President Grant’s statement. Without doing any actual digging, I thought of two potentials:
1. On August 1, 1890, Charles Ora Card recorded in his diary that Apostle John W. Taylor had testified that “he had beheld the Savior.” (2)
2. Lorenzo Snow’s son published an account of his father seeing the Lord in the Temple after hearing that Wilford Woodruff had died. It was published in the Church Magazine in 1933 (seven years after the letter above) and claimed that Heber J. Grant knew of the story at its happening.
- Heber J. Grant, letter to Mrs. Claud Peery, April 13, 1926, typescript in Lester Bush papers, University of Utah Archives.
- Donald G. Godfrey and Brigham Y. Card, The Diaries of Charles Ora Card: The Canadian Years, 1886-1903 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1993), 97.