Fun Temple Facts (TM) #1

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) [1].
    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.


  1. 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.


  1. just kidding says:

    A couple months later they were kicked out of Nauvoo, trekking across the frigid plains toward an desolate no mans land and the upper floor of the temple burned down after being struck by lightening.

    Good thing we don’t do that anymore! (anyone know if the Samoans danced in their temple before it burned down?)

  2. I know for a fact that there are regularly dances held in the same building as the Manhattan Temple.

  3. Any scandalized reactions to this revelation in your locale, J.? … or any proposals that the dancing be revived? (I think around here the concern would be not that there was dancing in the temple, but that married men were dancing with women not their wives!)

    Fun idea for magnifying your calling.

  4. There’s a large assembly room in the Washington Temple that I thought would be perfect if they’d installed a hardwood floor and some basketball hoops. Of course, nobody ever asked me for my opinion.

  5. I just have to say that I love the menrichment idea. I’m passing that along to my Elder’s Quorum President.

  6. Didn’t the temple floor collapse some months later under the weight of the dancers?

  7. Ardis, the responses that I got thought it was fun; though, there is always the possibility that some people think I am crazy and just keep quite about it!

    Bro. Jones, I have read accounts where they limited the number of people in the upper floor because there was visible cracking, but I don’t remember seeing anything about it’s collapse.

    Clean Cut: Menrichment. This year was our fifth in a row.

  8. Velikiye Kniaz says:

    RE: Just kidding,
    It is true that the Nauvoo Temple tower was struck by lightning, but that was not what burned the Temple. The temple was purposely set afire by an arsonist, (one of the mob occupying the city), ostensibly because the mobbers feared that the Temple would act as a ‘magnet’ and draw the Mormons back to Nauvoo. I am sure there was a secondary underlying reason that was purely symbolic. The Temple was the most prominent landmark in the region and a symbol of Mormon strength,industry, and if you will, triumph. Even with the Saints in Iowa and then in the west, every riverboat passing up and down the Mississippi would have noticed it immediately. By destroying this potent symbol the mobbers were gloating over their expulsion of the Latter-day Saints and the murder of the Prophet. Even to this day there are a few in the region who are hostile to the return of the Mormons and the reconstruction of the Temple. Come nighfall, the Temple is diligently guarded by electronic surveillance and regular security patrols. Approaching the fence around the Temple after 10:00 p.m. will draw the immediate attention of the security staff.

%d bloggers like this: