40 years ago today - Jan 17, 1977

Gary Mark Gilmore is executed by a Utah firing squad ending an almost ten-year moratorium on capital punishment in the United States. The choices available to Gilmore were hanging or firing squad. The option of death by firing squad is a remnant of the days when the doctrine of "blood atonement" taught that to atone for certain sins a person's blood must be "spilt upon the ground."

130 years ago today - Monday, Jan 17, 1887

[John Henry Smith]
In the evening F. D. Richards, W. B. Preston, J. W. Taylor, H. J. Grant and myself met in Council and wrote a letter to President J. Taylor advising the sale of all property liable to be gobled by the government.

[Source: Jean Bickmore White (editor), Church, State, and Politics: The Diaries of John Henry Smith, Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, Salt Lake City, 1990, http://bit.ly/johnhenrysmith]

140 years ago today - Jan 17, 1877

[Brigham Young Jr.]
Spent the evening reading to father [Brigham Young] what we * Bro[ther] [Wilford] Woodruff, [L. John] Nuttall & myself have written in relation to endowment. He made a number of corrections.

[Source: Brigham Young Jr. diary, Jan. 17, 1877, in Anderson, Devery; The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History, http://amzn.to/TempleWorship]

140 years ago today - Jan 17, 1877

David Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith's youngest son, is committed to the Illinois Hospital for the Insane.

155 years ago today - Jan 17, 1862

Porter Rockwell and guard arived in this City this morning delivered two live prisioners & one dead one to the poliece & while taking John Smith & Moroni Clawson to the Court House prision they Both tried to get away and were both shot dead and all three dead Bodies were brought to the Court House and Clawson & Smith lay in a waggon out doors till afternoon & were visited by Hundreds of People. Lot Huntington's Body laid in the suller.

[Source: Wilford Woodruff's Journal: 1833-1898 Typescript, Volumes 1-9, Edited by Scott G. Kenney, Signature Books 1993, http://amzn.to/newmormonstudies]

170 years ago today - Jan 17, 1847

17 [Poem by first wife Vilate Kimball] Winter Quarters Jan 17th 1847

No being round the spacious Earth

Beneath the vaulted arch of heaven

Divides my love, or draws it thence

from him to whom my heart is given

Like the frail ivy to the oak

Draun closer by the temptest [d]riven

Through sorrows flood he'll bear me up

And light with smiles my way to heaven

The gift was on the alter laid

The Plighted vow, on earth was given

The seal eternal has ben made

And by his Side, I'll reign in heaven

Lines writen by Vilate Kimball

to her companion Heber C. Kimball

[Source: Kimball, Stanley B. ed, On the Potter's Wheel: The Diaries of Heber C. Kimball]

175 years ago today - Jan 17, 1842

Joseph Smith takes eight-months-pregnant Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner as a plural wife. Mary Elizabeth, age 24, has been legally married to non-Mormon Adam Lightner for over six years at the time. She continues to live with Adam Lightner afterward as instructed by Joseph Smith. She claimed that Smith had a private conversation with her in 1831 when she was twelve years old [age 12], "Smith told me about his great vision concerning me." "Joseph Said I was his, before I came here. He said all the Devils in Hell should never get me from him." She also said, "I am the first being that the revelation was given to him for ... I went forward and was sealed to him. Brigham young performed the sealing, and Heber C. Kimball the blessing. I know Joseph Smith had six wives and I have known some of them from childhood up. I knew he had three children [by his plural wives]. They told me. I think two are living today, but they are not known as his children as they go by other names."

[Source: Mary Lightner, 1905 Address, typescript, BYU, Pg. 2-3)]

175 years ago today - Jan 17, 1842

Special conference assembled, at the Presidents office... voted unanimously that Amos Fuller take a mission to the city of Chicago.'& that Henry Jacobs [Husband of Zina Jacobs who married to Joseph Smith nine months earlier] accompany Bro Fuller. ...

Moved /by the President/ that all those who are in favor of assisting Bro Robinson in printing the Book of Mormon & the other Books, and backing up the concern, manifest it by the usual sign. Not a hand raised, but every hand was raised in the negative.

[Source: Minutes, as quoted in Minutes of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1835-1951, Electronic Edition, 2015]

180 years ago today - Jan 17, 1837

Met at Candle light With the quorums of the Seventies & was favored with a lecture from President David Whitmer. He warned us to humble ourselves before God lest his hand rest upon us in anger for our pride & many sins that we were runing into in our days of prosperity as the ancient Nephites did & it does now appear evident that a scourge awates this stake of Zion even Kirtland if their is not great repentance immediately & almost every Countenance indicates the above expectation esspecially the heads of the Church.

[Source: Wilford Woodruff's Journal: 1833-1898 Typescript, Volumes 1-9, Edited by Scott G. Kenney, Signature Books 1993, http://amzn.to/newmormonstudies]

65 years ago today - Jan 16, 1952

Church News reports that Yotaro Yoshino and Toshio Murakami are the first Japanese missionaries to be called from their homeland. Both are converts whose non-LDS parents have agreed to support them financially while proselytizing. These are the first native-born Asian missionaries of the LDS church, and not until December 1963 are there Chinese missionaries from Hong Kong.

[Source: The Mormon Hierarchy - Extensions of Power by D. Michael Quinn, [New Mormon History database (http://bit.ly/NMHdatabase)]]

100 years ago today - Jan 16, 1917

[First Presidency letter]
Information has come to us from a reliable source to the effect that certain members of the Church residing in the Utah Stake make a practice of holding private meetings for the purpose of receiving supernatural manifestations for the guidance of themselves and others in regard to things spiritual and temporal: That they form themselves into a prayer circle, each member praying vocally in turn, commencing with the oldest, with Mrs. Belle Harris Berry, who is said to be the leading, dominant spirit of the aggregation, as the acknowledged medium to receive answers to their prayers which, when received, are regarded as the word of the Lord to them; that as a result of their operations the mother of Belle Harris has been induced to borrow and for the purpose of land for one of her family, giving a mortgage therefore on her home; that some of the persons said to be thus engaged are Belle Harris Berry, Silas A. Harris, her brother, Louise Harris, aged 79, her mother, R. A. Berry, her husband. If, after a discreet investigation, you find this state of things existing, it will be in order for you to see to it that the responsible parties are dealt with on their fellowship in the Church unless they give satisfactory evidence of repentance.

[Source: First Presidency, Letter to Joseph B. Keeler and Counselors, as quoted in Minutes of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1835-1951, Electronic Edition, 2015]

115 years ago today - Thursday, Jan 16, 1902

Apostle Clawson said he felt that sisters who were called to positions in the church should be carefully questioned as to their views and feelings toward the principles which we espouse, as there is danger in calling some to office who have no faith in plural marriage. The brethren were instructed to do this and also have presidents of stakes adopt the same rule.

[Source: Stan Larson (editor), A Ministry of Meetings: The Apostolic diaries of Rudger Clawson, Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, Salt Lake City, 1993, http://bit.ly/rudgerclawson]

120 years ago today - Jan 16, 1897 (Saturday)

At the close of a conference, Andrew Kimball and other Elders were assaulted and mobbed in Clay Co., Arkansas.

[Source: Jenson, Andrew, Church Chronology]

140 years ago today - Jan 16, 1877

[Brigham Young Jr.]
Busy [in the St. George temple] writing with bro[ther]s [Wilford] W[oodruff] & J[ohn] N[uttall] on ceremonies.

[Source: Brigham Young Jr. diary, Jan. 16, 1877, in Anderson, Devery; The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History, http://amzn.to/TempleWorship]

155 years ago today - Jan 16, 1862

Orrin Porter Rockwell kills "while attempting to escape" Lot Huntington for Dawson beating. on Jan 1, 1862. Church Historian's office notes that Rockwell shoots Huntington eight times in stomach-difficult to do while someone is running away from the shooter. Salt Lake City policemen kill Moroni Clawson and John P. Smith while escorting them to jail on Jan. 17 for the beating. On Jan. 22 bishop's court tries participant Isaac Niebaur who confesses, protests that he "never stole from a Mormon," asks forgiveness, "but if his Blood must atone he is willing to die." Church court forgives Niebaur without blood atonement, but Salt Lake county court on Mar 25 sentences him and two others to varying prison terms for Dawson incident.

170 years ago today - Jan 16, 1847

[Wilford Woodruff]
The question was asked president Young if the quorums of seventies should not be filled up. He said not while there was men enough belonging to the quorum in good Standing alive on the earth their places should not be filled by others.

While treating upon the principle of Adoption He said some men were afraid they would loose some glory if they were sealed to one of the Twelve And did not stand alone And have others sealed to them. President Young said there kingdom consisted of their own posterity And it did not diminish that at all by being sealed to one of the Twelve but ownly bound them by that perfect Chain according to the law of God and order of Heaven that will bind the righteous from Adam to the last Saint And Adam will claim us all as members of his kingdom we deing his Children.

He gave some interesting teaching concerning the rights of men & the dealings of men with there wives and children, the raising of posterity, purity, Holiness &c. That if A wise and proper course was taken in the begeting and raising of children that they would soon become pure & Holy And be administered to by Angels &c. And many other things did the Apostle teach.

[Source: Wilford Woodruff's Journal: 1833-1898 Typescript, Volumes 1-9, Edited by Scott G. Kenney, Signature Books 1993, http://amzn.to/newmormonstudies]

180 years ago today - Jan 16, 1837

[Wilford Woodruff]
Elder Abram O Smoot was again attacked by the destroyer Which brought him upon a bed of Great disstress. We immediately called upon the Elders of the Church, viz. Elders O Hide & H C Kimble of the twelve & B. Nobles, M. Holmes, & myself of the first Seventy. We prayed with & for him & lade hands upon him according to the scriptures & he was immediately healed of his pain & fever <in the name of Christ>.

[Source: Wilford Woodruff's Journal: 1833-1898 Typescript, Volumes 1-9, Edited by Scott G. Kenney, Signature Books 1993, http://amzn.to/newmormonstudies]

40 years ago today - Jan 15, 1977

Church News article about Jack Kong, president of an LDS branch at the leper colony of Molokai for twenty-five years.

[Source: The Mormon Hierarchy - Extensions of Power by D. Michael Quinn, [New Mormon History database (http://bit.ly/NMHdatabase)]]

115 years ago today - Jan 15, 1902

Church publication THE JUVENILE INSTRUCTOR prints instruction by Church President Joseph F. Smith: "Indeed, we believe that every man holding the Priesthood, in good standing in the Church, who owns a home, is supreme in his own household, and when another brother enters it, and he requests the latter to perform any duty consistent with his calling, the latter should accede to his wishes; and if there should be anything wrong, he who makes the request as the head of the house into which the brother has come, is responsible therefore."

115 years ago today - Wednesday, Jan 15, 1902

Pres. Smith stated that the object of the meeting was to take into consideration the question as to whom we would favor as next United States senator from Utah—whether a member of the quorum of apostles, a member of the church, or a gentile. All the brethren of the Twelve expressed themselves, and it seemed to be the feeling of the majority of those present that none of the apostles could be spared from the ministry, but at the same time the next senator should be a member of the church, as the gentiles had already had a full share of representation in congress.

It was moved that so far as this matter concerned the brethren, the nomination be left to the First Presidency. Carried.

[Source: Stan Larson (editor), A Ministry of Meetings: The Apostolic diaries of Rudger Clawson, Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, Salt Lake City, 1993, http://bit.ly/rudgerclawson]