Mormons have a very broad and democratic collection of biographies of their 19th Century predecessors. This is due to two causes. The first is our belief that family bonds have eternal significance which leads us to seek familiarity with our dead and to leave records that will allow our descendants to know us. The second is that the first Latter-day Saints felt they were eyewitnesses of something important and wanted to leave a testimony of it. Thanks to these factors, it is easy to find research on hundreds of second-tier associates of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and tens of thousands of multi-page biographical essays on nobodies written either first-hand by the nobodies themselves or by their children. These are of most interest to direct descendants of these people, so today most of those 19th Century Mormons are each known in detail to a few percent of present-day Mormons, but we like hearing the stories of others’ kin too.
A few of my favorites: (more…)