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New Harmony: Learning from the spirit of Lorenzo Snow

Published: Wednesday, May 30 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

A historical marker and obelisk mark the area where President Lorenzo Snow is buried in the Brigham City Cemetery.   (Photo by Christine Rappleye, Deseret News) (Christine Rappleye, Deseret News) A historical marker and obelisk mark the area where President Lorenzo Snow is buried in the Brigham City Cemetery. (Photo by Christine Rappleye, Deseret News) (Christine Rappleye, Deseret News)

For Memorial Day this year, I gave a young friend a cook's tour of the Brigham City cemetery. I think young people need to get close and personal with a graveyard. It sobers them up a little.

I showed him the massive John Bott monument (Brother Bott made grave markers for a living).

I showed him where my wife and I planned to be "planted" (an old grave-digger's term I learned when I worked there).

And, of course, I took him by the mini-monolith of Lorenzo Snow, the fifth president of the LDS Church.

Only three prophets are buried outside of Salt Lake City. President Snow is one of them.

And Brigham City claims him as its own.

His tenacity and tireless energy were legendary in Brigham.

A close-up of an inscription on one side of the obelisk marking the burial site of President Lorenzo Snow in the Brigham City Cemetery.  (Photo by Christine Rappleye, Deseret News) (Christine Rappleye, Deseret News) A close-up of an inscription on one side of the obelisk marking the burial site of President Lorenzo Snow in the Brigham City Cemetery. (Photo by Christine Rappleye, Deseret News) (Christine Rappleye, Deseret News)

Sometimes I think they are the engine that still drives the town.

Lorenzo Snow was a miracle maker.

He built a community co-op — United Order style — just three miles from Corinne, where dance hall girls can-canned every night and divorces could be purchased from a vending machine.

And he made it stick.

He built a respectable theater and fostered fine art when most Brigham City settlers were still combing their hair with juniper bark.

He named nearby Mantua after his hometown in Ohio and named the city after the man he revered more than any other, Brigham Young.

But what I like most is he looked like a prophet, with a long white beard and eyes like sapphire seer stones.

A painting of President Lorenzo Snow, who was the fifth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Dnews) A painting of President Lorenzo Snow, who was the fifth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Dnews)

I like to sit at his feet in the cemetery and think things through.

His grave marker looks like a small Washington Monument.

I've taken photos of it in winter when the snow on the ground rose as high as the name on the stone — "Snow."

Once, in a cheeky mood years ago, I put an "I Voted" sticker on the marker, but quickly took it back. My life is already haunted by enough ghosts, thank you.

While with my young friend, I pointed out the marker and told a tale or two.

Now, with our Brigham City Temple dedication coming up and a cultural program in the works, I'm sure President Snow will be back at center stage once again.

It's where he tends to end up in our town.

In his biography, written by his sister Eliza R. Snow, the last few pages are President Snow's final address to his family. The advice he gives ends book. I'll use a swath of it to end this column:

Be upright, just and merciful, exercising a spirit of nobility and godliness in all your intentions and resolutions — in all your acts and dealings, cultivate a spirit of charity, be ready to do for others more than you would expect from them …

That, to my heart and mind, sounds like classic Lorenzo Snow.

Jerry Johnston is a former Deseret News staff writer. "New Harmony" appears every other week in Mormon Times. Email: jerjohn@desnews.com

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