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Kenneth Mays
Seminary building donated by Edward Hunter.

In the 1830s, Edward Hunter was a Quaker gentleman residing in Chester County, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. His large house is still extant. He donated land and constructed a building known as the Wallace or West Nantmeal Seminary, insisting that it be open to all faiths who might wish to use it. In 1839, two Latter-day Saint missionaries asked to use the building for preaching. The locals refused until Edward threatened to repossess the building.

Kenneth Mays
Historical marker identifying a boundary of what was once the Edward Hunter farm.

People began joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Brandywine Branch was organized. The Prophet Joseph came through the area in 1840. He preached in the seminary and had a positive affect on Edward Hunter. By the end of 1840, some 200 people in the Brandywine Valley had been converted to the church, including Edward and his wife, Ann. They were baptized by Elder Orson Hyde who was on his way to the Holy Land.

The Hunter family moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1842. They donated thousands of dollars in cash and goods to the church. Edward served as a bishop in Nauvoo, Winter Quarters and Salt Lake City.

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In 1851, he was called to be the third presiding bishop of the church, serving in that capacity for more than three decades. He was ever faithful to the prophets and “regarded as ‘fatherly’ and ‘kindhearted.’” He laid/dedicated one of the cornerstones of the Salt Lake Temple. During his tenure, the number of Saints in the Rocky Mountains grew from 11,000 to 120,000. Many, many of those were afflicted by poverty. (See "Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons," by William G. Hartley, edited by Donald Q. Cannon, pages 276-277, 299.)

Note: Appreciation is expressed to historian Charles A. Muldowney for much of the information above.