Jerry Earl Johnston: 2013 has some interesting milestones, including Porter Rockwell's 200th birthday
We Mormons love a milestone.
When the church chalks up a fresh million members, when a new temple goes up, we members know the numbers.
We like a good centennial, love a sesquicentennial and would walk from Nauvoo to Utah to celebrate a bicentennial.
So for 2013, here's what we have coming up.
On May 21 next year, the Boy Scouts of America and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrate 100 years of togetherness. Get ready to cue the flag ceremonies and a chorus of Revelry on the bugle.
For those who like their centennials a little more under the radar, next year marks a century since the death of Mary E. Rollins Lightner — one of the young girls who scooped up the unbound pages of the Book of Commandments when a mob set fire to the printing shop.
Ebenezer Bryce — of Bryce Canyon fame — died 100 years ago as of next year.
And Amasa M. Lyman, a counselor to Joseph Smith in the First Presidency and a major player in LDS history, will have his bicentennial in 2013.
And so will a man who was born on June 28, 1813.
He was such a sweet little baby that his mama gave him a sweet name. She called him Orrin (no, not Hatch).
Next year is the bicentennial of Orrin Porter Rockwell, the Mormon maverick who probably appears in more early Mormon lore and legend than any other soul.
Half of the saucy quotes attributed to Porter were likely said by someone else, but they seemed to fit so well in the man's mouth that Rockwell gets credit for them. (Do you think he really said, "I never killed a man who didn't need killing," for example?)
It will be interesting to see if many people outside of Porter's Place in Lehi take up the Rockwell bicentennial cause.
Most folks, I suspect, aren't sure how to deal with him.
They didn't know 150 years ago.
One such soul was Fitz Hugh Ludlow, who in 1870, summed the man up this way:
"Porter Rockwell was the most terrible instrument that can be handled by fanaticism; a powerful physical nature welded to a mind of very narrow perceptions, intense convictions and changeless tenacity. In his build he was a gladiator; in his humor a Yankee lumberman; in his memory a Bourbon … . A strange mixture, only to be found on the American continent."
So happy 200th birthday next year, Porter.
And remember, when they ask you to "blow out the candles," don't use your six-guns.
Jerry Johnston is a former Deseret News staff writer. "New Harmony" appears every other week in Mormon Times.
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