One of my responsibilities at church is to encourage regular temple attendance. Last month I decided to start the Fun Temple Facts (TM) email series, in which a few days before ward temple day, I send out a multiple choice question relating to the temple, with a subsequent answer. I thought it would be fun to share more widely.
After working all day in the Nauvoo Temple, the early Saints liked to:
- a) Square dance in the upper rooms of the temple.
b) Have Mississippi River catfish dinner (though all were invited, not just the High Priests and spouses) .
c) Go over to Bishop Miller’s for Refreshments.
d) Pull sticks and wrestle.
The answer is (a), “Square dance in the upper rooms of the temple.” Perhaps my favorite account of one such day was recorded by William Clayton, who kept Heber C. Kimball’s diary for this period. On December 30, 1845, he wrote:
The labors of the day having been brought to a close at so early an hour viz; half past 8, it was thought proper to have a little season of recreation, accordingly, Brother Hans Hanson was invited to produce his violin. He did so, and played several lively airs, among the rest some very good lively dancing tunes. This was too much for the gravity of Brother Joseph Young, who indulged in a hornpipe, and was soon joined by several others, and before the dance was over several French fours were indulged in. The first was opened by President B. Young with Sister Whitney and Elder H. C. Kimball with Sister Lewis. The spirit of dancing increased until the whole floor was covered with dancers. After this had continued about an hour, several excellent songs were sung, in which several of the brethren and sisters joined. The Upper California was sung by Erastus Snow.
This excerpt was edited for inclusion and the “Manuscript History” and then the History of the Church, and the editorial commentary is pure awesome. After the quoted portion there is some description of singing in tongues, but I figured dancing in the temple was enough wildness for one question.
- This was a little jab at the highpriests. Up until quite recently there was a longstanding tradition in our stake to host an annual salmon dinner for the high priests. This was part of the reason we started the annual menrichment bbq rib feast for the elders. I think we got the better end of the stick.