Biography and family record of Lorenzo Snow/Chapter XLVII
George F. Gibbs. His parents receive the Gospel. His early youth. Employed in a printing establishment. How he stood with his asso- ciates. Had to fight his way to maintain his integrity. Honored the Word of Wisdom. Drew a prize. Was highly honored. Chosen for out-door preaching. Compliments his mother. Leaves home for Liverpool. Clerk and book-keeper in Liverpool Office. Emigrates to America. In President B. Young's Office. Goes to Liverpool Office. Works there three years. Home again. Anecdote. Masters Phon- ography. Has been and now is Church Reporter.
WAS born in the town of Haverford-West, Pembroke County, South Wales, November 23d, 1840. My parents' names are George Duggan and Ellen Phillips Gibbs. On my mother's side I am Welsh, and on my father's of English descent. My great-grandfather, John Gibbs, with one of his brothers, on leaving his home on the Isle of Wight, was shipwrecked on the south coast of Pembrokeshire, South \Vales, where they afterwards married and settled.
In 1850 Daniel Williams, a "Mormon" missionary Elder, came to my native town, became acquainted with my parents, and made his home with them before they joined the Church. During this time my brother, Charles Warren, was taken dangerously ill. Elder Williams administered to him, and he was instantly healed. This fact created an interest in the new religion, as it was called, and my parents were among the first to receive it.
When seven years old, I well remember wishing I was eight, that I might be baptized; and on the night I was eight. my father baptized me according to the rites of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At an early age I was ordained a Deacon, and assisted the senior Deacon of the branch in sweeping, dusting, and carrying water for him to
wash the floor of the meeting house. While yet young, I was ordained Teacher, then Priest and Elder, and officiated as clerk and treasurer of the branch, also clerk of the conference.
I attended a common school until sixteen years old, when I left, of my own accord, to accept a situation as junior clerk in a printing establishment. After having officiated there eleven months, a communication from Presidents Wells and Young, of the European mission, informed my father of a vacancy in the Liverpool office, tendering me the situation, which I gladly accepted.
During the nine years from my baptism, until I left my home for the Liverpool office, I acquired an experience which has ever been delightful to contemplate. I learned early to call upon the Lord and to place implicit confidence in Him, and have ever since regarded it as one of the dearest privileges accorded to a human being. From my earliest recollection, I attended meeting, and during these years I never missed one; and I cannot remember when I did not know the truth and divinity of "Mormonism." It seems to me I have always known it.
The character of the richer portion of the people of my native town was strictly aristocratic, to whom the Gospel of the meek and lowly Nazarene, as taught by the Latter-day Saints, was beneath even a casual notice; and the spirit of the poorer class, was, as a general thing, not only opposed, but ofttimes led many of them to ill treat those w T ho adhered to it. As our little branch never numbered more ^han twenty or thirty at a time, with its members widely scattered, as "Mor- mons," it may readily be perceived how we stood in relation to the people of the town generally. From my youth I was known among my fellows as a "Mormon," and during my boyhood had to fight my way in order to maintain my ground as a boy among boys. Had I taken to myself the counsel the Savior gave to His disciples to govern them in their ministry, namely, to "turn the other cheek," my spirit would have been
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crushed in my youth through imposition and abuse. I learned to defend and fight for my religion from the word go, and it has always seemed the sweeter to me, perhaps, on that account. Having had to cope with opposition to the truth from early boyhood, I very naturally imbibed the spirit to stand by my friends, the friends brought to me through the everlasting Gospel, and this element of brotherhood I now regard as being essential in the character of a true Latter-day Saint.
For out-of-door games I always had a particular fondness. I do not think there lived a boy that loved play better than I ; consequently the temptation to play at night as well as in the day was strong and great. But a spirit early impressed me not to join my playmates after dark. I believed then it was the Spirit of the Lord that prompted me, and therefore I resolved in my own mind to govern myself accordingly. I have since regarded this step taken in early boyhood as that which placed me beyond the temptations that most of my fellows became victims to. And it is the fact, in connection with my early connection with the Church of God, that my boyhood days were days of purity that makes the reminis- cences of youth so sweet and delightful to contemplate. Although brought up among boys of the world, many of whom were under no restraint and, therefore, could indulge in unbecoming language and pernicious practices with impunity, through having early been taught the AVord of Wisdom and to regard as most sacred the name of the Lord, and having so soon been brought into the harness of the Gospel, I was enabled to set an example before my school- mates that won me their confidence and respect. In this connection I am reminded of an incident at school which I may be excused for mentioning: At one of our annual examinations, which were always public, the mayor of the town announced during his address that, to the boy who should excel in deportment and punctuality the ensuing twelve months, he would present the sum of two guineas.
This was, of course, hailed with delight by the boys, and met with general favor by the parents. The children attending the school (numbering from one hundred and fifty to two hundred) were the offspring of the Nonconformist element of the town the people w T ho had manfully stood out against the rites of the Church of England being foisted upon them. As boys, therefore, we represented all the dissenting religious denomina- tions, I being, however, the only "Mormon" boy. At the begin- ning of the school year a book was provided, afterwards known as the Black Book, in which the names of boys were to be recorded for misbehavior or bad conduct. The year rolled by and examination time came. At the close of the mayor's address he reminded the scholars of his last year's promise; and amid the utmost stillness he announced the name of George F. Gibbs as being the only boy that had not been tardy or absent during the year, and the only boy whose name was not recorded in the Black Book. By request of the mayor I presented myself before him to receive the reward, and was the recipient of a high compliment from his lips. In com- peting for this reward, besides its monetary value I had another object in view, namely, to show our highly religious and high-minded townsfolk, in a small way, to be sure, that "Mornionism" produced fruits, and that its fruits, produced by boys as well as men, were good.
At one of the monthy council meetings of the Priesthood of the conference, steps were taken to pair off with a view to out-of-door preaching, certain men being allowed to choose each his own companion. To the amusement of the council Elder Win. Bowen chose me, a young, inexperienced boy. I assisted him in this labor some two years, until I left home to go to Liverpool, and was greatly benefited in my associa- tions with him, he being a man of great faith and understand- ing, and a most agreeable companion.
Our's was always an open house to the Elders ; it was, as many now living know, a free and welcome home to all. It
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was what is called the "Conference house." If my dear mother possessed one trait more conspicuous than another, it was that which led her, during eighteen years of her lifetime, to receive and care for the Elders. When I was big enough it fell to 1113- lot to relieve mother of a job which she had been doing for years before I commenced, namely, to black the shoes of the brethren. This labor became part of my day's doings, lasting some six or seven years, and I never thought it irksome. -
Leaving home to go to Liverpool was, up to that time, the , event of my life. I was young and green. I had pictured
heads of the European mission and their immediate associates to be without fault or human infirmity so natural was it for me to respect, think well off and look up to the Elders from Zion. Tour years lacking a few weeks I labored in the Liver- pool office, first as junior clerk, then as book-keeper. As a member of the Liverpool branch I acted in the office of clerk, of Teacher and that of president. As clerk in the office I labored under Presidents Wells and Young, Jan., under Presi- dent Young, Jun., and under President F. D. Richards. I believe I can say truly that while there I merited the good will and blessing of those with whom I was more directly associated, as well as that of the many Elders whose acquaintance I made; and that I labored faithfully and honestly in the service of God and the brethren.
In the year 1868 I emigrated, after haying been detained, until some time after the close of the emigration season, to settle up emigration matters and leave in good shape the accounts of the office. In New York also I was detained two weeks, waiting for that portion of the unfortunate Emerald Isle company that had been put under quarantine and which had survived the hospital treatment of Manhattan Island. By this time they were able to be moved, and I traveled with them. F. C. Anderson had charge of the com- pany ; I was entrusted with the medicine chest which had been specially prepared for the sick.
After arriving in Salt Lake City I called on President Young and was employed by him as a clerk in his office, and invited by him to board with part of his family.
At the expiration of three years I was called to return to the Liverpool office. The circumstance was this: On the Sunday afternoon previous to leaving, the President called me into his private office and said, George, don't you want to go back to Liverpool? I answered, No, sir. But, said he, we (the quorum of the Twelve then present) have just voted that you leave here for Liverpool on Tuesday morning at five o'clock. I replied, All right, sir, I'll be ready. The following day I received my appointment, and was set apart to this mission and ordained to the office of Seventy under the hands of Presidents B. Young and George A. Smith. At the time stated (in company with Brother Geojge W. Thatcher, who had been called previously) I left, and was gone three years, laboring in connection with President A. Carrington and President Joseph F. Smith, presidents of the mission.
I returned in 1874 and worked nine months in the office of Z. C. M. I. This position I resigned to accept the clerk- ship of the Logan Tithing Office. While in Logan, on a certain occasion, I accompanied Brothers M. H. Hardy and B. Morris Young to Brigham and Bear River cities in the interest of mutual improvement societies. At Brigham I stayed with Morris at his mother-in-law T 's, Sister Harriet Snow, and spent the evening with part of Brother Snow's family. Here I first met my wife. ' During my visit (some three days), I was reminded of a circumstance that I had entirely for- gotten, which proved a source of encouragement to me in approaching my wife on the subject of marriage. I had met Brother Snow in Liverpool while he was en roide to Palestine with the George A. party; and on waiting upon him in the Great Western Hotel he, in his jocular way, told me that he had some unmarried daughters, and invited me to make their acquaintance with a view to becoming one of his many sons-
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in-law. I thanked him, not thinking for a moment, however, that there would be anything more to it.
On Sunday, the 21st of May, 1876, with his consent, I married his daughter Ida, whose mother is Eleanor Houtz Snow. After our marriage we lived about three months in Logan, Cache County, where I was employed, when I received a communication from President Young inviting me to return to Salt Lake City to act as reporter for the Church. In explana- tion I should state that during my three years' residence in Salt Lake I took up with the study of phonography (a study that I had early paid some attention to), practising it nights and mornings. -The President, noticing me diligently working late and early, inquired one day what I was doing. On my telling him he seemed much pleased, and told me to stick to it until I mastered it, He afterwards got Brother David W. Evans, the Church stenographer, to organize a class, which I joined. At first the class numbered forty-three; when I left to go on my mission it numbered five, including myself. I have acted ever since in the capacity of Church reporter.
From the foregoing brief sketch it will be seen that from my youth it has fallen to my lot to associate more or less with the Priesthood of our Church a privilege I have ever highly appreciated. And the more intimate my relations have been with our leading men, one and one only thought has come uppermost to mind, namely, that of heartfelt thanks and gratitude to God the Eternal Father for gathering me from an obscure corner of the ' earth, and delivering me from the midst of bigotry and superstitious ignorance of the everlasting plan of salvation, and for guiding my footsteps in the way of virtue and rectitude, thus fitting me to be His and their servant. And I will have realized my most sanguine hope if, in the hereafter, I shall be found worthy to continue my relations with them, as their fellow servant, in the great work of human redemption and salvation.