Monday, October 22, 2012

Book Review: In a Goodly Land

Stake Presidency with Vern Wardle on the right

Book Review: In a Goodly Land: Latter-Day Saints of the Stanislaus, John D. Nash and Mary M. Nash, Linrose Publishing Company, Fresno, CA 1997.  This book, on the title page says: A Hisotyr of Four Stakes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint (the Mormons) in the Great Central Valley of California: Modesto California Stake, Modesto California North Stake, Manteca Stake, Turlock Stake.
This book I found in the used book store, and was very excited about it.  In reading it I found the best description of New Hope I have read.  It includes a mad.  It clarified for me that the Saints did not all leave after the flood, but held on, and actually harvested their winter wheat.  They had plans for irrigation ditches for the farm, and had started working on these.  In the end Sam Brannan advertised for sale the property and the equipment, including the mill.  It would appear more dissension that lead to the doom of the community that the flood.  Also Brigham Young had selected the Great Basin as the home for the Saints rather than California.  However he initially asked the Saints to build where they were, and thus the title “In a Goodly Land.”  However a couple years late he called for the Saints to come to Utah.  Most of them did, and for a period there were not Mormons in the area.
The book describes the early missionary efforts in this area.  However most of the growth came from transplanted Saints from other areas.  However there was always some growth through missionary efforts.  The book also deals extensively with building funds and construction of new buildings.  I was interested in the Manteca area where we now live.  Manteca started as a Sunday School of the Stockton Ward.  They initially met in rented rooms, but eventually grew to an independent branch.  The first chapel was known as the Pine Street Chapel.  When the Modesto Stake was organized in 1964, Manteca became a part of this stake, while Tracy remained with Stockton Stake.  The Manteca area became part of the Modesto North Stake in 1975.  However when the Manteca Stake was created in 1981, Tracy and Manteca were reunited in a stake.  At that time there were five units, two in Tracy and three in Manteca.  As the Manteca chapel was more crowded, Tracy was used as the stake center.  The Union building was finished in 1984 and became the stake center.  However the stake continued to grow for some time. 
D. Leon Ward was the first stake president.  (His son is in our ward.)  The first stake patriarch was Charles Eitelgeorge.  He is still serving and has been the patriarch continuously since the stake was formed.  At one time there were two patriarchs as D. Leon Ward had been a patriarch before being called as the stake president, and returned to this call when released where he served until he moved from the stake.  Other stake presidents have been L. Dee Wallace and Rex A. Brown [President Crockett our current president was sustained after the book was published.
This book has a picture of our friend and distant cousin Vern Wardle, who served in the stake presidency.  It is fun to look at the appendices, as it lists all the bishops of the wards.  It is amazing how many of the members of our high priest group are former bishops.  It also lists the stake high councilmen.  I would by fun to have an updated book.
A couple other points of interest:  It describes the development of the welfare projects which were under ward or stake leadership.  It describes the establishment of the young women’s camp; Sister Dorothy Eitelgeorge played an important role in developing the spiritual “golden hours program”.  Richard Hammerstrom, whose son is in our high priest group, played important roles in the community with the Boys and Girls Club.  The dedication of the Oakland Temple in 1964 had a great effect on the Saints in the area, as temple blessings were within almost an hour.  There was at one time a youth chorus in Manteca, conducted by Kathy Harvey.

1 comment:

  1. James Patrick Bodin Didn't early day LDS (was it Smith?) establish a town on the north bank of the Stanislaus just east of the confluence?

    Billy Wardle that was Sam Brannan, who then tried to convince Brigham Young to have the Mormons come to California, but Brigham Young would have none of it.