The Cardston temple stands strong and resolute. Its design betrays the time in which it was built; the turn of the century gave us few such structures. It is an edifice to how things were while yet remaining a gateway to contemporary communion. The records left by the early saints in Cardston build a similar monument to our past. The way things used to be.
L. John Nuttall was the secretary to both Presidents Taylor and Woodruff and was later involved with the Sunday School. With Karl Maeser in 1899, he visited Cardston in that capacity. On August 6th Nuttall spoke to the Relief Society “for an hour & quarter with good freedom.” The following day he noted in his journal:
Sister Woolf & councilors Hamman & June E Bates sisters Rhoda Hamman and Several other Sisters called & we conversed on Relief Society matters. I explained many things to them & they were Much pleased Afterwhich Sister Elizabeth Hamman said she felt the Same spirit which was upon her at the meeting last night when she wanted to bless me — She arose & placed her hands on Bro Masers head & blessed him. Then on my head & and blessed me then on Sister Woolf & blessed her also blessed 3 other of the sisters & sister Zina Card this was done in Tongues — Sister Zina Y Card arose And laying her hands on our heads interpreted these bless[ings] a good feeling was present (1)
Elizabeth was married to Josiah Hammer, bishop at the time and had been, herself, a councilor in the Relief Society. Such charisma was not rare among the pioneer sisters of the North. Learning from their parents, this second generation of Mormons wielded their gifts and authority. Several years earlier, Elizabeth held a prayer circle meeting at her home to administer to one sick among them:
Our Sister who we had come to bless lead in prayer her humble petition called down from heaven the Holy influence that ran from heart to heart, and She was followed by Zina Y. Card, [and others]. Singing Come, come Ye Saints, after which the ordinance of washing and anointing [for healing] was done by Sisters Sarah B. Daines and Rhoda Hinman sen. the Sisters 27 in number gathered around placing their hands upon Sister Steed. sister Zina Young Card sealed the anointing promising her life and health and strength and that She would be an example for her Sisters and that her children should rise up and call her blessed. the Spirit of God rested upon us insomuch that every one present rose and bore their testimony and all felt that She would recover. (2)
The Cardston temple is a testament to the pioneers who laid its foundation. Its look is peculiar. Perhaps the difference between it and its modern counterparts will remind us of the peculiarity of those who built it.
- L. John Nuttle Journal. 7/9 August 1899. Typescript, BYU Special Collections Archive. Some of the names are not correctly recorded. Notably, Elizabeth Hammer and Rhoda Hinman are given the last names of Hamman.
- Cardston Ward Relief Society Historical Record Book A, 1890-1898. 14 February 1895. LDS Church Archives.