PUBLIS! lED BY AtJTHORITY Of TY\E FAMILY.
Silt l^tr ""ily, Utah.
Brigham Young University
=^'i lh70jd r- 191626
.^ • # • .
' 4 <
Biography of Myron Tanner,
PUBUSHED BY AUTHORITY OF THE FAMILY.
191 '^;*^ i*
THE DESERET NEWS. , "^
Salt Uke Gty. Utah. C?
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
The subject matter from which this sketch was taken was
much of it given by Myron Tanner to his children, Sunday, June 14,
1896, at Provo City, Utah, where the family had gathered to cele-
brate the seventieth anniversary of his birth. The gathering, how-
ever, had been postponed a week in view of the enforced absence
of some of the family.
"I was born," he said, "on the 7th day of June, 1826, in the
town of Bolton, Warren County, State of New York, where I lived
until I was eight years old." This little town is located on a beau-
tiful spot of earth near Lake George, It was here that John
Tanner, the father of Myron Tanner, received the gospel. The
father was a prosperous man in those days, and one of the leading
farmers of the community in which he lived.
Wishing to join the body of the Saints, with whose destiny he
now became identified, he left Bolton, December 25, 1834, and
arrived at Kirtland in March, 1835. The family remained in Kirt-
land for three years, where they were largely engaged in the erec-
tion of the Temple. The names of John Tanner and his older son
Sidney Tanner, being honorably mentioned among those entitled
to recognition for their devoted services in the erection of the house
of God. John Tanner was himself an energetic and intelligent
farmer, and his love for and cultivation of t^e soil characterized
his labors at each stopping place in every exodus of the Saints. His
old farm at Kirtland is still in the ownership and possession of one
of his descendants.
Here at Kirtland, not only the eirliest recollections, but the
stirring events of the times were deeply impressed upon the mind
4 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
of the subject of this sketch as he witnessed the work on the
Temple progress and anticipated its completion. He was a witness
to some of the glorious manifestations of those days, even though
at the dedication of the temple his extreme youth prevented him
from entering the sacred structure.
Speaking of his education he says: "My first schooling, to
amount to anything, was in the little red school house between our
home and the Temple. I now remember only a few of the children
who attended that school. Among these were a Le Barren, a
daughter of President Young, the Huntington children, and Aunt
The family remained in Kirtland for three years, where
much of the time of the father and sons and nearly all the means
brought with them, were expended in the erection of the Temple
and the assistance of the Church. "We came to Kirtland," said
Myron "with just six teams and wagons, with merchandise and
cash, altogether amounting to about $10,000, — a very prosperous
condition for those days. I do not remember much of what
transpired there, only that when we left we were reduced to one
horse and a cart, the rest of our outfit, a wagon and three horses,
were borrowed from our neigbors. We had $20 in money and a
keg of powder to pay our way to Missouri, which was a thousand
miles distant; and it took a good deal of rustling, and the chil-
dren had to go hungry, before father could make the turns neces-
sary to get us something to eat."
It does not appear from any information contained in the
family history that the father took any part in the wild specula-
tions that seemed to take hold of so many during the troublous
days of the Kirtland bank failure, except that he signed notes'
with the Prophet and assisted in removing the mortgage on the
The troubles and persecutions in Kirtland about the year 1838
began to bear heavily upon the Saints there, and the persecutors
were aided by the apostates who were clamoring for the control
of Church matters at Kirtland. This circumstance, and the fur-
ther fact that it was the policy of the Church to strengthen itself
in Far West, Missouri, where the enemies were determined to
drive the people from that state, induced John Tanner to leave
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON 2ANNER. 5
his home and farm in Kirtland and unite his interests with those
of the people in Missouri.
"We arrived,'' says Myron, "in Missouri somewhere about the
latter part of June, 1838. Soon after our arrival, I, with some of
my brothers, was sent up into Clay County for the purpose of get-
ting a little wheat for the family. We were successful in obtain-
ing a small supply for the family and for seed. We sowed all
that we could possibly spare that fall, thus making calculation to
stay in Far West. Bat the troubles came on, the mob pressed in
upon U3, anl we were cat off from outside supplies and had to
depend altogether upon what little corn we could get from our
neighbors and brethren who were there before us. We were some
distance from the mills — the nearest. I think, was five miles;
and there was another twelve miles from where we lived. For a
long time after the trouble, we lived on hulled corn, all the time
the trouble becoming more serious."
IN FAR WEST.
During the late summer and fall of 1838, the state militia had
been gathering about the city of Far West, demanding capit-
ulation of her people and their exodus from the state. In the
event of their refusal to go, they were, in the order of Governor
Boggs, to be exterminated. Writers of Church history refer to
the militia of the state as a mob militia. The militia, however^
was regularly organized and under the comma.d of the sworn
officers of the state; and while it committed the outrages and
excesses of a mob, it acted under color of law and was properly
entitled to the designation of a mobbing militia — not mob militia.
Some of the leaders of this organization evidently preferred that
tbe Saints leave the state, while others were brutal enough to
undertake the work of extermination. They had engaged in a
brutal massacre at Haun's mill, had broken in upon the inhabitants
at Far West, and committed many of the barbarous practices of
the dark ages. Men were insulted in the streets, their wives out-
raged in their homes, and a reign of terror so prevailed in Far
West that the Saints, who at first were determined to protect
themselves, were glad enough to escape the horrors of those 3vil
days by removing to any state or country in which they might
6 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
enjoy some freedom and be protected. The country round about
Far West was guarded by militia with a view of shutting off re-
treat and of preventing any concerted action on the part of the
Mormcns, who already numbered several thousands in the different
counties of Missouri.
The grist mills were without the pale of this military cordon.
However, hunger compelled some men to take some risk in securing
food for their families. It was during the venture of a journey to
one of these mills, a distance of twelve miles, on which Myron
accompanied his father. "On our return," Myron says, "we saw
the state militia coming." The violence which they had committed
on the Saints wherever they had found them was a warning to the
father, who knew that trouble was awaiting him and his son. The
father, however, sought to spare his boy, and warned him to leave
the wagon, conceal himself and get back home the best he could,
and give informaticn to the family.
"I ran for the brush, which here and there had been stacked
up by the Saints who were clearing the land and burning the brush.
These great brush piles furnished a means of escape for more than
one, and into one of them I crawled and remained there until the
militia was gone. I found my way to the home of the Miner's,
where I remained over night, and wandered about the next day,
concealing myself as best I could, and reached home about eight
o'clock in the evening. My father was struck over the head with
a gun and was taken prisoner, but the blood streaming from the
wound gave him such a horrifying appearance that his captors
evidently had no relish for his company, and turned him loose to
make his way home the best he could. His condition, not so
unlike that of many others, did not create the same horrifying im-
pression that it would have done had it been an isolated case. On
reaching home, thankful that his life was spared him, his family
cared for his wounds and nursed him until he had completely re-
DAYS OF NAUVOO.
"My recollection, " says Myron, "is that we left Far West,
and that on account of our poor equipments and the inclemency of
the weather, it took us until March, 1839, to reach Illinois; and
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 7
that when we camped on the Mississippi bottom, I was barefooted,
and that during the journey 1 had suffered much through lack of
food and clothing. About eighteen miles from Quincy we rented
a little farm, and remained there until the spring of 1840. From
there we moved up into Iowa that spring and began breaking
ground for a new home on the Half Breed tract, about four miles
south of Montrose and about eight miles from Keokuk, Iowa.
There we remained for four years where we went through a
severe struggle to supply ourselves with the necessities of life.
I very distinctly remember that during those years our diet con-
sisted almost exclusively of corn bread and milk, and not unfre-
quently the corn meal gave out and our meals were 'still further
reduced. When the green corn season came around and we grew
potatoes, we were able to add another article to our diet.
"Under such circumstances," said Myron, "in those four
years, we had fenced six hundred acres of land, two hundred of
which was plowed up, fifty of it put into meadow, and the bal-
ance used for pasture. In the meantime, we began to get
improvements around us, and to get some stock. In the midst
of these difficultiea we were harassed by the demands made
upon my father for the payment of a note of $30,000 which he
had endorsed for the Prophet Joseph. It took everything we
could spare, except what we needed for the barest necessities of
life, to relieve ourselves from the obligations of this note which
was paid in the year 1845" What portion of this note was paid
by John Tanner does not appear, but from the circumstances of
the fact that he_aiui_hii_boys -were enterprising and. successful
those four years, the amount must have been considerable.
"My father," said Myron, "was intensely devoted to the
Prophet. Compared with the necessities of the Church and the
financial relief of the Prophet in the hours of his distress, money
to him was mere dross." By his liberality to Joseph in Kirtland
and his efficient help, the Prophet iiT his gratitude to John Tanner
blest him and declared that neither he, his children nor his chil-
dren's children should ever want for bread. It was a benediction
as well as a spiritual comfort that buoyed up John Tanner and his
children in many a distressing ordeal through which they were
required to pass.
8 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
During those strenuous days of farm life, the missionary
requirements of the Church entered the home of John Tanner and
he and his son Henry in 1844, were called on a mission to the
East. Albert, another brother also older than Myron, struck out
in life for himself. This left Myron in cha-ge of affairs at home.
Speaking of his efforts, he says: "The season was an unusually
wet one, and the weeds grew more thrifty than ever before. The
excessive rains made the harvest period late, and the usual success
that had attended the farm work when father and all the sons
were there did not come to me. I felt the dissatisfaction of my
father who seemed to blame me, thinking that I had not worked
as hard aa I should. My further labors and devotion to his inter-
ests however in time overcame all feelings of blame; and as time
went on, he began to realize that I had done as well as others,
and from the further fact that two of the boys were taken from
me in order that they might work most of the season breaking
prairie in order to pay off our obligations on the note mentioned
in a preceding paragraph, he realized that ^an uncommon task
had been placed upon me."
For something like four years there was a lull in the perse-
cutions of the Saints, and a little time given to provide for their
material and intellectual welfare. Myron, speaking of his school
days said: "I was permitted to attend school in Kirtlandfora short
time. In 1844 I went to school seven weeks in Nauvoo, and in
1845, ten weeks. That completed my school-boy days. "
Myron was in the midst of the troublous times experienced
. by the Saints before their final enforced departure for the west.
He took an active part in the movement which carried the Saints
from Nauvoo over the Mississippi into Iowa. To him was intrusted
the moving of famililies whose heads were either absent or unable
to render assistance. The splendid financial reputation and busi-
ness integrity of John Tanner had always been a matter of pride
to his son who frequently related incidents supporting the busi-
ness honor in which his father was held.
"In the days of the exodus from Nauvoo, " Myron said, "I
was charged with the responsibility of moving over the stock
and household effects of a number of families from Nauvoo.
I went to the ferryman to make arrangements for his services,
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 9
and he bluntly informed me that he would not tnist the people
whose stock and effects I was moving. He wanted to know
whose boy I was, I was then not quite twenty, and when I told
him he said, 'If you will be responsible you can take the stock
over, provided you bring me the money as soon as you get home, '
His bill amounted to something like $12 and was promptly
IN THE MORMON BATTALION.
After the break-up at Nauvoo, Myron Tanner, with other
members of the family, made the journey across Iowa to Council
Bluffs. He makes no mention of any particular events on that
journey, and it may be inferred that his experience was that
common to the others who suffered usual inconveniences and
hardships. In 1846, while the vanguard of the Saints was en-
camped at Council Bluffs, war broke out between the United
States and Mexico. "1 was then twenty years of age and was
mustered into the service of the United States in the Mormon
Battalion, as near as I can recollect on the 16th day of July.
We were immediately or.dered to Ft. Leavenworth, the starting
point of the troops which were ordered to California. We were
allowed,'' he says, "in our military organization to select the non-
commissioned officers, and therefore selected men whom we knew
and whose command would be most agreeable to us. " From this
Fort a number of Missourians had left for the West a short time
before. It was noticed that among them two out of every three
were compelled to sign their names by means of a cross. In
striking contrast with this educational condition of the Missour-
ians was the fact that every ihan of the Mormon Battalion was
able to write.
Recounting the circumstances of this march westward Myron
Tanner in his narration says: "My health was very good till we
reached Hurricane Point, that was just before we struck the
plains. After that I took down with chills and fever; and at night
after being sick a week or so, I would have to crawl on my hands
and knees to the tent, but in the mornings I could walk. I be-
came somewhat improved before we reached the plains where we
took off from the Arkansas River below Ft. Bent. 1 had been able to
10 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
walk for a day or two before we started on the Simeron cut off.
Thi3 route led to Sante Fe. We began our .iourney across the
Simeron desert in the morning, and, after I had walked about ten
miles carrying my knap sfck, my gun,bayonet,and all my accoutre-
ments, I gave out, and during the next five or six miles traveled,
I unloaded part of my things at a time into the wagon. I was
permitted to do this only when it became apparent tc the officers
that my condition was such that I could not go any further.
About fifteen miles from the Arkansas River, going over this cut
off of about sixty miles in the desert, I gave out entirely and rode
from there into the Simeron."
"When we struck the Simeron, we had to dig wells for water
for stock and for domestic use. At that time I took down with
the mumps, which became very painful, and gathered under my
right ear. That is the reason, as you will observe that my beard is
heavier on one side than on the other. In this condition I suffered
extremely, and for ten days and nights I never moved my jaw.
The only nourishment I could receive was liquid food, such as milk
or soup. During the day time, however, I now and then dozed a
little from the jar of the wagon. From the Simeron we went on
to Santa Fe, crossing a mountain where it was necessary to put
one hundred men on in head of the ox teams to pull, and then pry
the wheels of the wagons to get them over the large rocks.
"Owing to my condition, however, after our arrival at Santa
Fe, I was permitted, with others of the sick, to go back to the Ar-
, kansas for the winter, and we located somewhere near the present
site of Pueblo. There we had our winter quarters, in '46 and '47.
^ In consequence of the hardships of the journey and the want of
proper food, many took down with scurvy. I was among them;
Blanchard, and one or two others, died there; I do not remember
their names. My legs were so drawn up that I was compelled to
walk on my toes, which were turned back.
"There prevailed among many of the Battalion a determination
not to take any calomel whatever. However, my condition became
so bad that I determined to consult the doctor after Blanchard's
death, and he promised me a cure if I would take calomel, assur-
ing me that he would administer in such a manner that it would
not remain in my system. At the same time my legs were blis-
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 11
tered. The treatment proved effectual, and within two months
after I was very greatly improved." Speaking of the condition
of his feet and legs, he said: "I was very greatly surprised to find
that I was unable to jump or lift at the same time both of my feet
from the ground, and in this condition I remained for something
like four months.
Owing to the sickness of those who wintered at Pueblo, it
was determined that they should not accompany the Battalion on
its way to California. Learning that the pioneers were something
to the north of them, they took up their march in the direction of
Laramie, but too late to overtake the pioneers. Learning that
part of the Battalion was on its way to meet the pioneers, the
latter sent Amasa Lyman to meet this remnant of the Battalion,
which he found abcut where Denver is now. They followed on
after the pioneers, and reached Salt Lake valley on the 27th of
"At the mouth of Emigration Canyon," said Myron Tanner,
"we unfurled the flag and went in with drums beating, where Salt
Lake City now stands on City Creek. When we arrived we found
a bowery built, and about five acres of ground broken up about the
place where Feramorz Little's house now stands."
RETURN TO WINTER QUARTERS.
His stay in Salt Lake valley was of short duration, for in the
following month of August he set out upon his nturn to the Mis-
souri river. "There were ten of us," he said, "in my mess ia my
wagon. Upon reaching the Platte, I purchased one hundred
pounds of flour, half of which I turned over to Amasa Lyman.
That left me sixty pounds, while the other nine had ninety. The
government furnished us ten pounds apiece for our journey of a
thousand miles. When we reached the junction of the Sweetwater
and the Platte, our flour gave out entirely, but we had the good
fortune to kill a large elk, and for eight days we lived on that,
eating two meals a day, each of which consisted of a piece of dried
elk about as large as two of my fingers.
"At the end of eight days we reached the buffalo country.
When we drove up to the top of one of those big sand hills going
12 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
down the Platte, as far as the eye could see there was one con-
tinuous herd of buffaloes. About ten o'clock in the morning we
struck camp and began killing these animals, until we had secured
nineteen. The excitement was so great that we did not stop to
eat that day until eleven o'clock at night. We ate the meat as one
would bread and milk, and I think it was the best meal I ever had
in my life.
"From this place on to Winter Quarters we had sufficient
meat for the journey, though the continuous diet of meat became
somewhat unsatisfactory. However, when we reached the Pawnee
village, about one hundred miles west of the Missouri, we ex-
changed some of our meat for corn. We were so hungry for a
change of diet that by the time the corn was suitably cooked we
had already finished our meal.
"It was in the fall of 1847 that we reached Winter Quarters,
where we passed the winter. The relaxation from the constant
travel in the deserts and the hardships of hunger and sickness was
greatly enjoyed in the social pastimes that were indulged in at
Winter Quarters." "There I learned to dance," said Myron, "a
pastime that was a diversion to me in after years in the struggles
of a pioneer life."
When the spring of '48 opened, his father's family came on
west and he went over to Kanesville, where he helped George A.
Smith plow and put in his spring crops. As soon as this work
was over, he went down the Missouri river to St. Joseph, where
he obtained service among the farmers in order to purchase for
himself some needed clothing. From there he went down the
river by boat to St. Louis, where he secured work as a deck hand,
and daring the summer earned enough money to get an outfit with
which to make the journey west again.
Late in the fall of 1848, however, he went up into Iowa and
spent the winter of '48 and '49 with Stephen Mott, who allowed
him his board for his work. He was now in the region of the old
home, from which his father's family had been driven in the
spring of '46. Early in the spring of '49 he secured service on
the river boats in order to obtain a little more means for clothing,
and kept at work until it was time for him to return to Win-
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 13
ter Quarters in order to join the companies going west that
RETURN TO UTAH.
"Brother George A. Smith on my arrival at Kanesville in-
formed me that he was in need of my services, and put me in
charge of his 'ten.' Ezra T. Benson had fifteen wagons under
his supervision and we had twelve. There was considerable delay
in crossing the Missouri, and George A. Smith becoming impatient
put the management of the teams and outfit in my charge, in order
to facilitate and hasten the work. My work was so satisfactory,
that Brother George A. subsequently gave over to me much of the
responsibility of conducting the teams across the plains, as I was
familiar with horses and cattle, with which I had worked all my
"As an illustration of the difficulties we had, I may say here
that some of these brethren whose lives had been given largely to
the ministry were hardly familiar with team work and many of
those who were driving had little experience. Apostle Benson at
the outset took the lead. He would permit his men to drive into
muddy places where they became fastened and after struggling for
some time in the mud — all the time the wheels becoming mure dif-
ficult to extricate — he would finally put on an extra team in order
to pull out the wagon. Finally, I prevailed upon him and George
A. Smith to give me a free hand in the management of the teams.
After that, whenever we reached a place where I thought we were
likely to be 'stuck' in the mud, I would double my teams and put
the wagons through, one at a time. Such a method was so much
more expeditious than waiting until the wagon became fastened
in the mud and then trying to pull it out. The latter method was
such an easy means of making balky horses, and besides it entailed
a useless lot of pulling to no purpose. Soon those in the rear fol-
lowed my example and we afterwards got along without so much
delay and with less difficulty.
While traveling up the Platte, Apostle Benson became very
sick. It looked very much as though he must die, and the anxiety
among the brethren and sisters became so great that God's aid
was implored in the most solemn manner. The brethren who had
14 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
been through the temple dressed in their robes. I was sent as
guard to the top of a hill overlooking the country, especially of
the little valley where the camp was made. To the top of an op-
posite hill another young man was sent to act also as guard. From
the position I occupied, I could look down upon the fifteen men
dressed in their temple robes, devoted in prayer and supplication
to God for the recovery of one of their leaders. To me the sight
was a most impressive one and had a lasting influence upon my
"About the time we left the North Platte our teams began
to give out, but in the meantime Brother George A., as he was
affectionately called all his life, had sent ahead to Salt Lake for
help which met us at the South Pass in Wyoming, just over the
main chain of the Rocky Mountains at the head of the Sweet
Water. At Willow Springs a heavy snow storm overtook us and
we were delayed for some time. "
"As may easily be imagined," he says in continuing his narra-
tion of the journey, "there are some men in such a company whose
selfishness manifests itself to the displeasure of their companions.
About this time a little circumstance occurred that gave me some
insight into the character of Brother George A. and into his man-
ner of dealing with men. There was one man in the company*
who, besides moving his family and provisions v;as also hauling
freight for Livingston. His need of help exceeded that of other
members of the party and although some thought that he was
using their help to his personal profit in freighting, Brother George
A. was nevertheless charitably disposed to favoi' the man. When
help was sent for, Brother George A. asked the use of a new
saddle which he had, but the man refused, and George A. was
compelled to send the last saddle he had to Salt Lake in order to
get new teams. The saddle, however, was very much needed in
the camp where those whose business it was at different times to
gather in the stock were obliged to ridp bare-back.
"When help reached us it was equitably distributed, and the
man with his new saddle and his freight was really given more
than his share. However, the freight pulled heavy and the man
really needed more help than he had secured in order to move it
into Salt Lake, but the teams of others were also equally heavily
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 15
taxed in crossing the mountains. His frequent murmurings to
Brother George A. finally aroused the latter's impatience. George
A. then, in a calm and brotherly manner, recited the selfishness
of the man who was bent on keeping his saddle new until he entered
the valleys, whatever hardship it entailed on others.
"This statement aroused the man's anger. He became excited
and furious when he now saw himself confronted with the results
of his own selfishness. He ran to his wagon, got the new saddle,
ran back to where Brother George A. was, threw it on the ground
and exclaimed, 'I hope to God I never see it again.' George A.
pointed to the saddle and said, 'Of what benefit is such action now?
You compelled us to get along the best way we could and put us
to great inconvenience in order to keep your saddle new until you
reached the valleys, and now having more than your just propor-
tion of the aid sent us, you grow angry, throw your saddle down,
which shows your folly and exposes you to the ridicule of the en-
tire camp.' If some of the others had had their way, a rebuke
to the man for his selfishness would have taken place long before
this. Brother George A. had the happy faculty of waiting till the
right time to say the right thing. As a boy, I frequently had the
opportunity to observe both the wisdom of his words and the value
of his example.
"We reached Salt Lake, as I now recollect, in October, 1849.
During that fall and early winter I worked for George A. hauling
wood to make his family comfortable. Our diet consisted of bread
and coffee. We had brought through a sack of coffee with us
which lasted most of the winter. In the forepart of that winter,
my father was taken sick with rheumatism from which he suffered
very greatly as it was in an acute form. We were obliged to turn
him on a sheet and his suffering was so intense that we sometimes
occupied half an hour in changing him from one position to
another. For six months, with but two exceptions, I remained with
him every night until four in the morning. My recollection now
is that he died about the last of March or the first of April in the
spring of '50.
EXPERIENCES IN CALIFORNIA.
"Not long after my father's death, I made preparations to go
16 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER,
to California. My high regard for Brother George A., and the
fact that he devoted so much of his time to the interest of the
Church, were my reasons for rendering him gratuitously my services
in crossing the plains and for hauling him wood with which to
make his family comfortable during the winter. However, when
I left him, he trusted me to a yoke of oxen and a wagon, the latter
would now probably be worth $40. For this team and wagon, I
sent him after my arrival in California $400 in gold.
"On my arrival in California, I began work in the mines at Mc-
Dowell's hill about four miles above Mormon island. By applied
industry and economy I was able in two and a half years to lay by
$1,250. In the fall of '52 I went to San Bernardiuo. My broth-
ers, Seth, Freeman, and Joseph had also been at work and with
what we had saved we began farming, stockraising, and trading.
In '56, however, my brother Seth drew out and began coal mining
in San Diego.
"The year before, however, in '55, 1 came through to Salt Lake
where I becane acquainted with Jane Mount who was living at the
time with Henry Lawrence. Most of my boyhood days my life was
separate and apart from girls in whose society I was both bashful
and awkward. She was rather delicate, a very refined and intel-
ligent woman of literary tastes and poetic instincts. Her make-up
seemed just the opposite to my own rugged, untempered and un-
cultivated nature. However surprised others appeared by reason
of her attention to me, we nevertheless became engaged."
In those days, the Saints who wandered off to, and remained
in California were somewhat under the Church ban; and President
Young, whose great anxiety it was to keep the Latter-day Saints
within the Rocky Mountains where they might co-operatively build
up exemplary communities, was often severe towards those who
disregarded the counsels of the Church in that matter. Recount-
ing his experienci^s my father says that he called on President
Young and spoke to him about his engagement to Miss Mount
whom he desired to marry according to the rules of the Church.
"President Young," he said, "became very angry and raked me
over the coals in a lively manner and explained t.> me the unfortun-
ate consequences of marrying a girl and taking her off to Cali-
fornia to live. This rebuff was too much for me and I saw that
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 17
President Young was not at all likely to yield, or be in the least
"My first thought was to turn to George A., for I never had
a truer friend than he was. His intercession in my behalf not only
brought about the desired result, but brought me good counsel
through which I made up my mind to leave California as soon as
I could close out my interests there. Miss Mount promised to
await my return to Salt Lake, and on my return in 1856 we were
married on the 26th day of May."
HOME IN PAYSON.
After his marriage, he remained in Salt Lake City about one
month and then moved to Payson. The contrast between the
new home which his wife was to enter and the one she had left
created some little feeling of embarrassment on the part of the
husband who describes the log house which was to be her home in
the following language: "I don't think in all my life I ever saw
as crooked logs and as poor workmanship as were in that house
with its dirt roof . " The following year other members of the
family came through from California to locate in Payscn, and
Myron went down to Cedar City to help his mother and the boys
reach Payson on their journey from San Bernardino.
The next year, in the spring of 1858, just before the army
came in, he was engaged in what was popularly known at that time
as the "move," and rendered the services of himself and team in
assisting the people from the point of the mountain to Payson.
After the army entered some time in the month of June, he
left with his younger brother Dan for California, whose more ex-
tended opportunities for making money he was familiar with,:.and
then he began the work of freighting between Los Angeles and
Utah, a work that he carried on for a number of years. It was
in those days that he began to feel more painfully during the hot
summer months the prickly heat that troubled his face in mid sum-
mer all his subsequent life. His early experiences on the deserts
during the days when he served in the Mormon Battalion and the
hardships of freighting over the desert told somewhat on the rug-
ged nature which he possessed. Mixed with the work of freight-
18 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
ing was that of buying and selling goods which proved more re-
munerating than hauling goods for others.
Myron Tanner was always proud of the excellent credit which
he enjoyed whenever he was in need of money pr goods, and fre-
quently related with manifestations of pleasure the words of confi-
dence in him spoken by others. On his first experience in mer-
chandising he relates the following circumstance: "Tlie first lot of
goods I bought was from a man named Felix Bachman. I told
him I wanted a load of goods and would give him security on prop-
erty I owned in San Bernardino worth several thousand dollars.
He replied that he did not want any security, the family name
was good enough for him." He then brought through with him
from California one load of goods for others and the one which he
had bought on credit. The venture proved so fortunate that he
was able soon to pay for the goods, and immediately set out again
to repeat the experiment in merchandising; but the second time
he took with him enough money to defray traveling exoenses and
buy two loads of goods. It was on this second trip that Myron,
his oldest son an infant, died.
LIFE IN PROVO,
Up to 1860 he made four round trips between Utah and Los
Angeles, and had done so well that he concluded to buy a grist
mill, though himself was not a practical miller and had never had
any experience in the management of a mill. He bought the old
Kelton mill and the Kelton home in the northwest part of Provo
and moved his family there from the old herd ground about three
miles northwest of Payson where he and his family had lived during
most of the time he was engaged in business between California
This new business venture proved to be a very successful one,
especially in view of the fact that not long thereafter when the
mining excitement broke out in Montana, the demand for flour
brought that commodity up to $25 a sack. "During the days of
the Montana boom I did better financially than any similar period
in my life." He soon made himself familiar with the milling busi-
ness, bought two new farms, and kept teams moving almost con-
stantly for years hauling fiour from Provo to Salt Lake City. He
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 19
lived continuously thereafter in Provo until the time of his
Myron had been in Provo onlv two years when he entered
upon an official career both civil and ecclesiastical, that engaged
much of his time and energy the larger part of his life. He was
firsc elected to the city council, in which he served at different
times more than twenty years. Shortly after this he was called
to the Bishopric of the ward. Speaking of this event he says:
"I was in Salt Lake City at the time and knew nothing of it.
Brother George A. met with the ward and asked if they would
sustain me, and the vote was unanimous. On my return home,
the news was broken by a neighbor, a Jew by the name of Ben
Bachman. Learning that I was coming home, he came out about
four blocks to meet me and greet me with my new title of "Bishop."
"I was never more surprised in my life and was, perhaps,
never more severely tried. For three days I did not venture down
in town. Of all positions,! considered that of Bishop in the Church
the most undesirable. There were so many difficulties and troubles
connected with it. Beside.-i, I could not speak in public. I had
tried twice and made a miserable failure; and after coming to the
conclusion that I positively could not talk, fully m ide up my mind
never to make the effort again. There was a rough element in
that ward which made it a most difficult position under the most
favorable circumstances. Many of my neighbors ridiculed rel'gion
and made the Bishop often the butt of their ridicule, and ridicule
is perhaps one of the worst enemies which we have to meet."
It may here be said that Myron Tanner developed a talent for
public speaking. He was a reader of current events, possessed
good judgment, and was altogether a forcnful man. It was often
a source of satisfaction to him to be able to say at the close
of the year that he had paid one-half of the entire donations
of the w£ rd. The writer has frequently heard him say in meet-
ings convened for the purpose of raising money that he would
pay half if the ward would pay the other half. In the call to
work on the St. George Temple, he met practically all the ex-
penses of the ward, and when each ward was called for a team to
assist in the emigration from the Missouri river, it was always his
team that was sent and mostly at his expense. Shortly after his
20 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
call to the Bishopric in 1866 he married his second wife Annie
At this point in the narration of the events of his life, he
stopped to impress upon his children the importance and value of
business integrity which have so much to do with a man's standing
in the Church as well as in the business world. He warned them
against speculating with other people's money, and admonished
them to be prudent and economical in their habits of life. Myron
Tanner had a world of pleasure from the expressions of confidence
which others made to him and he related this, another little cir-
cumstance, of a visit he made in 1870 to Salt Lake City in order
to get money to enlarge his business.
"it was soon after the First National Bank was organized and
I called upon Horace Eldredge, one of the bank directors. I told
him I wanted to borrow about $500 for six months, and he then
asked me if I had anybody in town that would endorse for me. I
said. No, sir, I would not ask anybody to do that. I don't want
the money bad enough for that. He replied that it was entirely
contrary to the rules of the bank, but I should have the money.*
Continuing, he said, "I never had a paper go to protest in my life,
and my father, although he signed notes of large amounts for
others, died without a judgment hanging over him and owed no
man a dollar."
* It was in the early 70's that a change came to my business
activities. The people began to organize their business institu-
tions throughout the state into corporations and for awhile all
private enterprises were more or less submerged in the new busi-
ness movements. At this time Abraham 0. Smoot became presi-
dent of the Utah Stake of Zion. He called upon me and expressed
the desire that I put my property, and especially my mill into the
new organizations." "The factory," he said, "needed the mill." "It
already had one and it was his intention to make Myron Tanner
superintendent both of his own mill, should it be put into the fac-
tyry, and the one owned by the factory. The proposition was not
very acceptable. In the first place, Myron Tanner had business
ideas that were somewhat peculiar and altogether his own. He
much preferred to keep his mill which was bringing him in a large
income for those days and he was, perhaps, as well to do as any
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 21
busineaa man in the town. The desirability, however, of the new
movement was urged upon hira and had become in those days so
strongly associated with the religious spirit of the time that it
seemed almost like religious indifference to the Church to with-
stand the very general counsel to act in an organized manner
through the medium of business corporations.
The result of the express wish of President Smoot was finally
a compromise brought about by submitting the matter, and leav-
ing it to President Brigham Young, who decided that if Myron
Tanner would exchange one half of his mill for stock in the Provo
Woolen Mills that would be satisfactory and that he should further
have the privilege of managing his own mill. This proved in a
measure, a financial disaster. The factory stock was subject to
assessments, and throughout the entire existence of the woolen
mills little has been earned by that corporation; indeed the earnings
have not equaled the assessments. What, however, was perhaps
as great, if not a greater misfortune than the probable loss of one-
half of the mill was the unwillingness of the new corporation to
permit improvements ihat the progress of the milling industry
absoultely demanded. Such conditions were very discouraging and
after many years of such dissatisfaction he finally sold out his share
of the grist mill. During those years the mill had earned thous-
ands of dollars for the factory, but the factory brought compara-
tively nothing to Myron Tanner. Today, 1907, the factory stock
is practically worthless.
The next co-operative movement was the mercantile establish-
ment at Provo, known as the East Co-op. In that Myron Tanner
was also asked to become a large stockholder. The requirements
made upon him for this purpose removed from his use a large part
of his working capital. After these two institutions had been set
in motion, there was a call for a co-operative cattle herd. The
subject of this sketch had always been more or less interested in
the cattle industry and had gathered quite a little herd at Payson
which he manipulated tc good advantage. All of these cattle were
then put into the new co-operative herd which proved a failure.
These co-operative movements were not only in a large measure a
financial disaster to Myron Tanner, but they were a source of great
22 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
annoyance by reason, in his judgment, of the reckless and often
unbusiness-like manner in which they were conducted.
Myron Tanner was by nature a business man, and had he pos-
sessed a commercial training, made necessary by modern methods
of commerce, he would no doubt have been successful in, perhaps
standing at the head, for a number of years, of some of the busi-
ness institutions of the town. He was always, however, manager
of the mill, half of which he sold to the factory, and the mill be-
longing to the factory, and for both of these mills he made a large
amount of money. He was for one year superintendent of the
Myron Tanner also had a predilection for land and bought
three most excellent farms and at the time of his death left one
of the best farms in Utah County. The business of farming,
hawever, was not as a rule remunerative to him. Speaking of his
past career he said in 1896:
"For the last eight years I have not tried to make money.
My desire has been to aid my children in obtaining an education,
the want of which I always felt in my business career. That they
might enjoy advanced education I sold some of my most valuable
land and aided them to the extent of my ability. Whether I have
done my part in encouraging them to acquire advanced knowledge
and to fit themselves for the higher work and duties of life, they
must be the judges.
"I cannot at this point refrain from alluding to influences
that have done much to shape my religious convictions," said
Myron Tanner. "I have always felt that I had been saved from
death in my boyhood days through an overruling Providence which
was to shape my career in life. On one occasion I was caught by
the neck in a gate, when I was a boy, and chocked until I became
unconscious and for upwards of three-quarters of an hour showed
no signs of life. Once in Kirtland I asked the privilege of going
down to the bottoms below the Temple to fish. One of the neigh-
bors had had a dream about me the night before. The dream
troubled him. It was a warning to him that I w^as likely to lose
my life. His name was Hales. In the afternoon he looked, he
said, towards our house and did not see any of the children around.
He immediately went over the street and called to my mother and
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 23
apked where I was, to which she replied that I had gone fishing.
Without stopping a moment to say one word to her, he ran a mile
and a quarter and reached the dam where I was in a dangerous
position likely to drown."
' 'Subsequently as I grew older I came down with measles. My
condition became very serious; I became unconscious; the folks de-
spaired of my life. I feel that I was healed through the gifts and
power of God. This and some similar circumstances in my early
days created in my heart both a love and fear of Gid. They were
circumstances to me of God's manifestations and however they
may appear to the minds of others, to me they had all the influence
of a divine will actuating me more or less throughout life."
When speaking of the Prophet Joseph, Myron Tanner became
enthusiastic. In his boyhood and young manhood days he had
known the Prophet; he had seen him in the trying ordeals of Kirt-
land and Nauvoo but what he saw of the Prophet created within
the heart and mind of the boy, a profound reverence for the man
whom he admired and whose calling he had always looked upon as
sacred. '"He was a man among men" he said. ' *I express a feel-
ing of intense pride in the fact that my father and Joseph Smith
bore a resemblance to each other."
Concluding the statements made to his children as they as-
sembled at the old home at Provo, he said: "I am the father of
seventeen children, ten living and seven dead. Of my grandchil-
dren there are now twenty- one li\ing and eight dead. There were
six sons and three daughters born to my first wife and to my
second wife five sous and three ddUghters. Of the first family
three are dead, two sons and one daughter; of the second family
two sons and two daughters are dead. The names of my children
are as follows:
My first wife's children in the order of their birth: Myron,
Joseph Marion, John, Gertrude, Bertrand, Mary Elizabeth, Grace,
Lewis and Arthur.
Children born to my second wife in the order of their birth
are: Sarah Ellen, Caleb, Maria, Abbie, Sidney, William, Freeman
At the time of his death Myron Tanner had served fifteen
24 BIOGRAPHY OP MYRON TANNER.
years as selectman for Utah County, twenty-seven years as Bishop.
He had been a member of the Brigham Young Academy Board
since its organization down to about the year 1896 and at the time
of his death was the only director among the original incorpora-
tors of the Pro/O Woolen Mills, he having served as a director of
the mills from the date of their organization to the time of his
death. He was also a member of the board of the Co-op, store of
Piovo and for more than twenty years he served in the City
Perhaps no service rendered by Myron Tanner in his life time
had a farther reaching influence than that associated with his life
as a Bishop in the Third Ward of Provo. In those early days, it
will be remembered by those acquainted with the conditions of
that place, Provo was in a large measure a rendezvous for old
Calif ornians who often came there to pass the winter and to amuse
themselves in those pastimes peculiar to the life of the miner and
the rancher. There were also in the ward over which he presided
a number of families whose reckless conduct was often shocking
beyond description. Within a radius of a quarter of a mile of his
home there could perhaps be heard more profanity in a day than
was uttered throughout the whole d'lurch.
The quality of a neighborhood is also determined in a large
measure by the habit of intoxicating drinks. From his home about
one eighth of a mile north was a distillery of spirituous liquors.
There was another about one-eighth of a mile to the west of him;
two saloons half a mile to the south of him and about a mile north,
a brewery. These undesirable institutions in the community were
too largely patronized. There was not in those days the same re-
pugnance to strong drink that there is now, and the practice of
drinking was more universal. It seemed to the writer that every-
body drank more or less whiskey and very little was said in those
days against its moderate use, and men hardly came under the
social ban even when intoxicated, provided their conduct was not
so obnoxious as to become unbearable. True that men who became
intoxicated, broke up the dances, engaged in street brawls, and
were generally a terror to the community were under the social
There was a frontier element in Provo that gave to the place
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 26
an unenviable reputation and in the midst of it all Myron Tanner
had to act as Bisho^/. He was thrown in his labors, very often
among the profane and the drinking classes; he met the scoffer
and the unbeliever. He had to deal with men who had no respect
for God and often little respect for their felloiv men. Perhaps no
Bishop in the Church ever had a more difficult task, more circum-
stances that wf^re extremely difficult and trying than fell to his
lot. He battled manfully often against odds; he labored assidu-
ously to redeem men from obnoxious and vicious habits. He con-
tended with ridicule and scorn. It was a primitive community;
men would unite in the business and social affairs of life. It was
difficult to make distinctions. What, therefore, Myron Tanner
accomplished in the many years he had to battle against pernicious
influences and vicious habits can perhaps never be known this side
the grave. His task was certainly a great one. It is certain also
that his influence was very great over all classes. Tde willful and
profane boy was in time made respectful and decent in the presence
of his Bishop and the general moral tone of the ward was greatly
improved during his administration; and if he never did anything
else in life than to create the improved conditions of his ward, he
certainly was entitled to the respect and honor of his fellow man.
He was in his nature, perhaps, suited to deal with that ele-
ment; a reckless element, an element when under the influence of
liquor was so disposed to trample upon the rights of others. The
bully, and the swaggerer often met their Bishop in the street face
to face and sometimes sought to overawe him and frighten him by
their menaces, but Myron Tanner was a courageous man and it has
often been said of bim that he never feared the face of a living man.
He stood firm in the presence of threats. When he took a stand
in favor of a given policy it was not easy to move him. In time
the rough and reckless element that gathered in Provo from min-
ing camps and from California began to decrease. Their influence
was overcome; a higher tone of respectability became more uni-
versal throughout the ward and no man contributed more to the
improved condition than he did. One would never imagine today
from the happy, peaceful and moral influence of the ward over
which he once presided, that it could ever have been in the con
dition thct it was.
26 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
As a man of firmness, of an unyielding will in the presence
of a solemn duty or obligation, Myron Tanner had few superiors.
When once his purpose was set it was not easy to turn him aside.
A circumstance in the life of Myron Tanner, well known to the
writer, illustrates perhaps better than anything else the character
of the man for firmness. In the early days of the Church when
men were shifted about; when they were enduring the hardships
of pioneer life; when they were occupied in the mines and upon
the ranches, there was not the same high regard for the Word of
Wisdom that is common among the Saints today. In his boyhood
days Myron Tanner hfd learned the use of tobacco, a habit that
was quite universal in his young days. In the midst of distilleries,
he had also acquired the habits of a moderate drinker, though he
had never in his life become intoxicated.
It was his custom every morning before breakfast and every
noon before dinner, to take a bowl of what was commonly called
sling, that was drunk perhaps as freely as tea and coffee are drunk
today. He not only drank this sling, or toddy, himself, but he gave
it to his family if they cared to use it. There was always a
barrel of liquor of some kind in the cellar. Somehow or other it
was considered a beverage quite necessary in those times. The
writer himself had learned to enjoy the liquor that was taken be-
fore meals. In those early days President George A. Smith made
a visit to Provo and in a very spirited address in the old Cluff Hall,
preached the Word of Wisdom. Most of the people of the town
needed the warning which he freely gave, and Myron Tanner
among them. The writer was old enough to remember his own
personal inconveniences when told that there was to be no more
liquor, no more tea or coffee served in that home.
To Myron Tanner George A. Smith was the ideal type of man-
hood. The beautiful and rugged simplicity of President Smith's
life always appealed to him and so devoted was the young man to
President George A. Smith that it is hardly too much to say
that he would have laid down his life for him. The words of ad-
monition, therefore, of the great leader, were observed with most
scrupulous care by a devoted follower. For years Myron Tanner
had become addicted in a moderate way to the use of liquor, to-
bacco, tea and coffee. All these he immediately threw aside; to-
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 27
bacco and liquor were wholly removed from the home. To fight
against a life-long habit, however, especially one so fixed as such
a habit was upon him was not an easy task to set for one's sell.
His stomach craved the liquor and apparently would not be satis-
fied without it. It was perhaps three months before Myron Tan-
ner was able to keep a breakfast upon his stomach or be free from
hours of nausea in consequence of the poisoned condition of the
system, and especially of the stomach, but he held on to his pur-
pose; he would not yield. He was asked to quit by degrees, to
quit one item at a time, but he never could understand the logic
of ten'porizing, or compromising with things. If things must be
done, they must be done in the most effective manner. In conse-
quence, so he was told by physicians, of the radical change in his
hattits, he became almost totally blind, and for weeks remained in
a darkened room unable to stand the painful effects of sunshine.
As an antidote for his blindness the doctor prescribed snuff,
the use of which he kept up while he lived, although on two dif-
ferent occasions he made an effort to throw it aside, only to learn
that as a consequence his eyes each time became bad. He died at
the home of his son, Joseph M. Tanner, in Forest Dale, January
11, 1903, in his seventy-sixth year.
What follows contains testimonials respecting the character
and labors of Myron Tanner by those who were familiarly associ-
ated with him during the last forty years of his life. The re-
marks here reported were made at his funeral, held on the 1 4th
day of January, 1903, at which President David John presided.
David John: — "This afternoon we have met to pay our re-
spects to Bishop Tanner who has lived in this town for many years,
and I am pleased to see so many present to show their respect for
a man who has devoted his life to the service of the Lord by do-
ing all the good he could to suffering humanity. I have been his
neighbor since I first came to Provo until the present, which is
over forty-one years. I served as a counselor to him in the
Bishopric from the time he commenced his ministry until the year
1877, when I left the ward. Bishop Tanner resigned his office as
28 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
Bishop on the 2nd day of April, 1891, on account of the desire he
had to move out on to his farm.
"Bishop Tanner spared no money to give his children educa-
tion and refinement and to qualify them to be useful members of
society. He has been a liberal man all his life, perhaps few men
knew him better than I. He could never turn his back upon the
poor or upon those who were in actual need, or who suffered
losses of any kind, by fire or by flood. He would be the first to
assist those who needed assistance^ During those early times
when we used to send ox teams to the frontiers to meet emigrants,
Bishop Tanner did as much as all the Third ward combined for
many years in fitting out the brethren who went back. In fact I
thought he did too much, more than his part. When he was
Bishop in the Third ward, we built a house called a round house.
He paid more on that house than any other man, and perhaps more
than any half dozen men.
"I feel that I am here leturning the good offices in some
measure received at his hands, for he superintended ten funerals
of the children and relatives that died in my home in the Third
ward. He was always on hand, and I feel indebted to him for the
kindness shown to me during those trying times.
"His first wife, who was well known to us, died on January 8,
1890, and was buried on the 10th of that month. Brother Tanner
has therefore lived thirteen years and three days after her. She
was fifty-two years of age when she died. She presided over the
Relief Society of the Third ward for twenty-two years. She was
also president of the Suffrage Association of Utah county for some
years before her death, holding that position when she died. Sister
Tanner published a book called "Fugitive Poems," a book that is
a monument to her cultured mind.
"When Brother Tanner was a boy ten years of age he lived
in Kirtland; was there at the time of the erection of the temple,
and when it was dedicated in the spring of 1836. I do not think
he would take offense if I told here what he has told me scores of
times. We all know that angels appeared in that temple, and that
Joseph and Oliver saw them, and others also saw them. They
came and delivered the keys of their ministry and of this dispen-
sation to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Bishop Tanner told me that
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 29
he saw angjels ascending and descending during those days, and
that he called his mother out to see them, but his mother could
not see them, although he saw them plainly. He said to me also,
that during the time he was in California, making so much money
and doing so well, that he actually thought that the memory of
that visitation of holy beings drew him back and caused him to
remain with the body of the Church.
' 'On the 29th of last month I felt impressed the first thing in
the morning to go down and see Bishop Tanner. He had been
ailing for some time. The last time I had seen him was in the
meetinghouse of the Third ward, at the funeral of Shadrach Hold-
away. I then noticed, from the color of his eyes and his face, that
he was not well. I found him sitting up, but very pale, and he
had commenced to swell in some parts of his body. He said to
me: 'Shadrach Holdaway is dead. He v^ as a Battalion man. Only
two of us now remain — Edwin Peck and myself. Holdaway is gone
and I shall follow him in the very near future.' I said to him:
'You should not feel like that; you have a strong constitution and
may live for many years to come-' 'I don't want to live,' was his
reply. *I am ready to go whenever God wants me. I would just
as soon die now as at any time.'
"Myron Tanner has some fine children, who are today prom-
inent in educational affairs, useful to the Church and to the world,
and honorable in the position they occupy. I ask God's blessing
upon all his family, that they may never leave the truth, never
deny facts, but be true and valiant to the cause of the Almighty."
Apostle John Henry Smith: — "I have' listened with interest to
the words spoken by President John. Myron Tanner was a genuine
soldier of the cross. No man can offer more for any cause in this
world than his life, and he made that offering more times than once
in the interest of the cause of the Latter-day Saints. Among my
earliest remembrances of any mortal is my remembrance of Myron
Tanner. He went with the Battalion, but he returned to the Mis-
souri river, and in the year 1849 drove a team to the valleys for my
father, and their friendship, I believe, was as fixed as mortal friend-
ship could well be. I feel in standing before you on this o?casion
that I am nearly in line with the mourners, and I trust that if I
80 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
ahow evidences of weakness, you will attribute it to the fact
that amonec the early guardians of myself was this man whose re-
mains lie before us; and I remember, too, very distinctly that
many times Bishop Tanner performed numerous kindly acts in the
interest of my father's household.
"Among the jewels that have been gathered in this dispensa-
tion by the spread of the gospel was that grand old man, the sire of
Myron Tanner. He was devoted and true to the work of God, ready
to use his means to aid the Prophet Joseph in the accomplishment of
his work and to bear him up in the fulfillment of the responsibilities
that rested upon him. He laid such a foundation for his numerous
family of stalwart, strong and capable men that his name will
never be obliterated from the Lamb's Book of Life, nor will he
fail to have among his descendants those that shall stand in the
presence of God and administer in the holy priesthood. Among
the descendants of this grand old patriarch are found men devoted
and true, preachers of the Gospel when necessity requires it,
founders of villages, and workers in the development and upbuild-
ing of the commonwealth of this western land; frugal, industrious,
determined men. I do not know how many descendants there
are in our communities that bear the name of Tanner— [in the year
1898 there were more than one thousand descendants of John
Tanner, father of Myron Tanner, ] —but it is a large number, and
they are increasing in number and in po^ver, in influence, in use-
"Myron Tanner was an honest man. He was a man that was
just, and he was a man that was generous in the broadest sense of
that word. He was a thoughtful and prudent man, who guarded
his business interests, and in dealing with his fellows sought to
secure for himself a fair share of the interests of the bargains
upon which he entered. But when the means came into his hands
and it was requisite that it should be used in the interest of any
unfortunate man or woman, it was given as generously and as
freely as men would throw water, if you will pardon the compari-
son, upon the thirsty ground; and while not inclined to look with
any degree of allowance upon wastefulness and the thoughtless
m'suse of means, if it was in the construction of a home in the in-
terest of some unfortunate individual, he was ready to perform his
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 31
part; if it was the building of a meetinghouse, his hand was open
and in harmony with the promise into which the patriarchs, apostles
and prophets of this dispensation entered into when driven from the
State of Illinois and started upon their westward journey. They
entered into a pledge that so long as there should be one of their
brothers or sisters who desired to gather with them to the home of
the Saints, that they would utilize their means in the accomplish-
ment of that purpose. This man, then but a young man, registered
that obligation with his brethren, and the statement of your pres-
ident upon this question in the matter of supplying teams, sending
them to the frontier, and bringing our brothers and sisters from
among the people of the world, and planting them in their moun-
tain home, is witness of the fidelity with which he performed his
"This man said to his mother, 'Mother, I saw the heavenly
messengers descending and ascending, and I know they have paid
their visits to that house of God.* The impress of that thought,
written upon that boy's soul, was there when he breathed his last;
and at no time or place in the history of his life, though in the
midst of tribulation and trial, and in the midst of temptation, sub-
ject sometimes to appetites that may have in some measure
troubled him, this thought, this feeling and this sentiment was never
taken from his mind.
"When we sing the praises of President Smoot; when we sing
the praises of Karl G. Maeser, when we sing the praises of other
men who have gone to their rest, who have labored in connection
with the development of this work, we must not forget that one
of the earliest workers, one of the true friends of man, who
labored for the interests of the sons and daughters of Zion and for
every other man and woman, young boy and young girl, whether of
his own faith or not, was this stalwart man who has now gone to
his rest, and whose remains lie before us.
"Side by s'de with Shadrach Holdaway, Myron Tanner marched
over the soil of our country. 0, may that flag which is draped
today in this brother's memory, ever wave, suspended by hands
such as these! Men that know not the fear of man, but who loved
God and their country and avowed that the flag should be main-
tained in dignity and honor, and that beneath its folds every ho-
32 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
man being: should have the right to worship God accordinp: to the
dictates of his own conscience, or if he pleased to worship no God
at all so long as he did not interfere with rights and privileges of
"In gathering the jewels of this world, God gathered one of
them in Myron Tanner. Peace to his ashes. May the heroic spirit
of that great sire of the past, and of the dead father of the pres-
ent be written in the souls of their offspring. I condole with
them in the circumstances which surround them. I recognize that
a pillar of strength has been taken from them temporarily; that
they are thrown more completely upon their own resources than
ever before. I trust that the spirit of truth and generosity that
has moved him will move them, and that as they look back in
time to come, and count up the dead of their household, they will
bow their heads and say: 'No better man, no truer man lived
than my father!'"
Elder L John Nuttall: — "The circumstances related by Presi-
dent John and Apostle John Henry Smith are all familiar t) me.
I lived in the Third ward in those early days and labored with him
in that ward. I have been associated with him as a county com-
missioner and in that capacity knew of his integrity.
"Bishop Myron Tanner was one of the first to assist in the
days of our trials in 1858. He was also one of those who rend-
ered assistance in our troubles in 1865-66 67 in what is known as
the Black Ha^k war. He has always been considered a standby
ever since he came to Provo. He was only eight years my senior,
but I always looked up to him when I was a boy as a leader among
the people and have done so ever since.
"Bishop Tanner was deeply interested in the education of his
children and he wanted them to go to college. How often have
I met him in Salt Lake City when he came to conference, and I
have stood and talked to him on the street about his boys at
school and learned how anxious he was that they should receive a
good education and be honorable men in the community. That
seemed to be on his mind more than anything else."
Joseph B. Keeler. — "I feel to rejoice in the testimony of
Bishop Tanner. I have heard it upon many occasions, and when-
ever he has borne that testimony the spirit with whi^h he bore it
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 33
has carried conviction to my heart; and I believed those testimonies,
some of which have been given you here today, and I beUeve they
are true. I once heard the relation of a circumstance concerning
his father. His father has been alluded to here this afternoon
and his connection with the Prophet Joseph. It is said that
Brother Tanner the elder, was a close friend of the Prophet
Joseph, and helped him out many a time financially; that is to
say, he helped the work of the Lord through the Prophet Joseph
in the printing of the Book of Mormon and other works. It is
also said that he signed notes securing the payment of the debts
of the Church and paid many of those debts and notes to the
amount of thousands of dollars. The Prophet Joseph remarked to
him upon one occasion that he, nor his children nor his children's
children should ever suffer for bread, and that they should never
become beggars upon a community. I just as firmly believe as I
do anything, that such a condition of things will never happen to
a Tanner, the posterity of this good man.
"I feel to bless the memory of Bishop Tanner for the many
good things that he has done, and I feel to bless his memory for
the many good things that he has done for me personally. He
has given me words of encouragement when I needed those words,
and they did me considerable good. I thank him, also, and bless
his memory for the testimony that he has left, and the unselfish
way in which he has worked for the good of this community. I
believe that he did all that he could, all that he was able to, and
that his heart was with this people. He was a big-hearted man,
unselfish, and desired the welfare of his fellow- man. He was
not bigoted, but he was liberal in his views upon all questions,
both upon religion and upon secular matters; and I for one mourn
his loss, and I expect, to the best of my ability, to emulate his
Bishop T. N. Taylor:— "My brethren and sisters, it is hard
for me to talk on occasions of this kind, and especially do I feel
my inability to express my thoughts to you today. For the last
twenty-five years there is no man that I can call to mind who has
taken the interest in me and my welfare as has Bishop Tanner. I
was born and reared in the ward where he presided. He took a
special interest in the Deacons' Quorum of which I was a member.
34 BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER.
"Reference has been made to his liberality. Bishop Tanner
was a man of a peculiar turn of mind. He did not like to be
pushed. He was a man who wanted things started out gradually,
and then he was always ready to come in line. Something like
two years ago the Priesthood of our ward was called together to
decide whether or not we should build a new meetinghouse. The
sentiment of a majority of the brethren was that we should, and
that it should be done as soon as possible. He took th3 liberty of
stating to the brethren that that would mean all the men in the
ward would have to pay all the way from $50.00 to $250.00 each,
and that nothing less than $50,00 could be counted upon, as
smaller amounts would not enable us to erect the house. The
brethren got up one by one and stated what each would give.
They passed Bishop Tanner. He did no*-, arise and say what he
would do. I turned to him and said, 'Bishop, we are waiting for you.'
He replied, '1 don't propose to say what I am going to do now.'
I turned to the brethren and said, 'Don't pay any attention to
what the Bishop has said; he will be the first to pay up his
amount.' He laughed at what I said. Well, the next morning I
met him on the street. He said he was endeavoring to sell a city
lot, *I can't stand it,' says he, 'to have a boy that I have raised
make a prophecy and have it fall to the ground.' And he was the
first that got his receipt for $100.00 on that house. Later on
we got a little weak in our faith in regard to our house, the means
was not coming in so that we could finish it as soon as we antici-
pated. Bishop Tanner was at our meeting. He said: 'You're not
pushing ahead as you ought. You should never turn back when
you have put your hand to the pi nv, and I for one will make
another donation of $50.00 that the work may continue and the
house be finished. '
"Reference has also been made to his interest in education.
When the time came for men to stand at the back of the Brigham
Young Academy, he was one of the first to come up. He had nothing
but what was on the altar for the upbuilding of the Kingdom of
God on the earth. I know that Bishop Tanner took the greatest joy
in seeing his sons and daughters striving to live lives of Latter-day
Saints, and to see them forging ahead in the f eld of education. It
BIOGRAPHY OF MYRON TANNER. 35
was a great consolation to him. I know this because I have heard
him express it time and again.
"It has been nearly twelve years since he was released from
active service as Bishop, but not for one moment has he lost in-
terest in the welfare of the people of the ward. He has ever been
ready to devote his time and means for the advancement of the
work of God. I do not know what more can be said of a man. I
do not know how better a man could be than this brother. He
had his peculiarities, that is true. Some have said that he was
close in driving a bargain; I admit that, but when it was made,
all that he had was ready to be given to the poor and needy if
necessary. Family after family that have come into this com-
munity can testify that when they came here with nothing that he
was the first man to assist them and to start them out, and that,
too, liberally, and he gave them opportunities to pay him back in
labor. I know that the people in the Third ward will ever cherish
his memory. I know that we Icved him down there. May God
bless his memory; may every son and daughter of his revere him
and follow in the line he marked out."
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