Plenary 201 (8:30 a.m., Friday, September 13)

Title: The Truth Shall Make You Free by Marlin K. Jensen

Abstract: The Mountain Meadows is a highland desert valley in Southern Utah where approximately 120 men, women, and children, mainly Arkansas emigrants bound for California, were massacred in September 1857. The full story of this tragedy, including the culpability and motives of the principal perpetrators, local leaders and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was slow to emerge. The result was historical confusion and ill feeling between Church members and descendants of the victims that persisted for nearly 150 years.

In the early 2000’s senior leaders of the LDS Church authorized and gave full editorial control to professional historians in its history department to comprehensively study the massacre and to write a book fully detailing their findings. The resulting book, Massacre at Mountain Meadows, is an unflinching account of the tragic event that concludes that the perpetrators of the massacre were indeed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aided by Indians. The emergence and admission of the truth about the massacre by the LDS Church and a cooperatively staged sesquicentennial commemoration of the massacre in 2007 were catalysts in changing minds and hearts on all sides of this contentious issue.

Recent years have seen a remarkable reconciliation occur between the Church and descendants of the victims. Lasting friendships have been formed, memorial gatherings have been held, cooperative efforts have been made to preserve and protect the massacre site as a hallowed burial ground, and vital lessons of the past and present are being preserved and shared in an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding.  

Biographical Sketch: Marlin K. Jensen served as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1989 until 2012. During that time, he served as Executive Director of the Church Historical Department from 1996 to 1998, as Executive Director of the Family and Church History Department from 2004 until 2008, and as Executive Director of the Church History Department from 2008 until 2012. In April 2005, he also became the first Church Historian and Recorder to serve since 1997. In these roles, he oversaw efforts to research and share the truth about tragic events surrounding the Mountain Meadows Massacre. He was given emeritus status in October 2012. Since then, he has returned to his real passion of ranching as a partner in Jensens’ Middle Fork Ranch.


Session 211: (10:00 a.m., Friday September 13)

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Session 212 (10:00 a.m., Friday, September 13)

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Session 213 (10:00 a.m., Friday, September 13)

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Session 214 (10:00 a.m., Friday, September 13)

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Session 221 (11:45 a.m., Friday, September 12)

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Session 222 (11:45 a.m., Friday, September 13)

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Biographical Sketch: Dr. Reid L. Neilson joined the BYU faculty in August 2022, when he began leading as the assistant academic vice president for religious scholarly publications, a newly created position at the university. He oversees three organizations on campus: the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, the Religious Studies Center, and BYU Studies. Prior to rejoining the faculty at BYU, Dr. Neilson and his wife, Shelly, served as the leaders of the Washington DC North Mission. Before his mission presidency, Neilson was appointed Assistant Church Historian and Recorder of the Church in 2015. He also worked as the managing director of the Church History Department from 2010 to 2019. In 2006, Dr. Neilson began his academic career as an assistant professor of Church history and doctrine in Religious Education at BYU, where he received the university’s Young Scholar Award. He is the author and award-winning editor of more than thirty books, including “Restless Pilgrim: Andrew Jenson’s Quest for Latter-day Saint History” (with Scott D. Marianno in 2022). A native of Orange County, California, Neilson received a bachelor’s degree (international relations) and two master’s degrees (business management and American history) from BYU and holds a doctorate in religious studies (American religions) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He later completed the Harvard Business School’s General Management Program.


Session 223 (11:45 a.m., Friday, September 13)

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Session 224 (11:45 a.m., Friday, September 13)

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Session 241 (2:45 p.m., Friday, September 13)

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Session 242 (2:45 p.m., Friday, September 13)

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Session 243 (2:45 p.m., Friday, September 13)

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Session 244 (2:45 p.m., Friday, September 13)

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Session 301 (8:00 a.m., Saturday, September 14)

 

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Session 302 (8:00 a.m., Saturday, September 14)

 

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Session 303 (8:00 a.m., Saturday, September 14)

 

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Session 304 (8:00 a.m., Saturday, September 14)

 

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Biographical Sketch: Mark Goodmansen resides in South Jordan, Utah. He graduated cum laude at the University of Utah in accounting, became a certified public accountant, and served as a business and marketing executive for various companies until retiring. Author of: Conspiracy at Carthage- The Plot to Murder Joseph Smith published by Cedar Fort Publishing in 2016; Previously Presented: “Francis Scott Key’s Visit to Nauvoo in 1841 and Its Impact On the Saints in the Region” at the 2017 JWHA Conference, “The Independence Missouri Merchants Versus The Saints of the New

Jerusalem” at the 2018 JWHA Convention, and “The Clay and Ray County Mormon Removal

Committees, and the 1835 Clay County, Missouri Memorial to Congress, Calling for a Military.

Road to Clay County, “at the 2019 JWHA Conference. Also, I presented “Massive anticipated.

economic rewards expected by the federal appointees led to the Utah War and substantially affected the Promontory Point 1869 event.” at the 2019 Mormon History Association Conference. I will be presenting at the 2024 Mormon History Association Conference.

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Biographical Sketch: Kent Larsen has longstanding research interests in Mormon Literature and Culture, the history of the LDS Church in New York City and in Global Mormonism. A resident of New

York City for more than 30 years, Kent is currently a graduate student at CUNY’s Hunter

College.

Session 311 (9:45 a.m., Saturday, September 14)

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Session 312 (9:45 a.m., Saturday, September 14)

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Session 313 (9:45 a.m., Saturday, September 14)

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Session 314 (9:45 a.m., Saturday, September 14)

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Biographical Sketch: David R. Taylor is a manager of product managers in the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As an amateur historian, his research interests include the Latter Day Saint experience during the Nauvoo era and early Latter-day Saint settlements in Utah and Arizona. He is the author of “John A. Taylor (1812-1896): One Man’s Journey Across Three Branches of the Restoration,” which will be published in the forthcoming Spring/Summer 2024 issue of the JWHA Journal.

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Session 321 (11:00 a.m., Saturday, September 14)

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Session 322 (11:00 a.m., Saturday, September 14)

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Biographical Sketch: Melvin Clarno Johnson is an independent historian and retired college professor, writer, and speaker who pursues subjects dealing with the Texas Hill country before and in the Civil War, and the intersection of Western America and Mormonism. His work won the Smith-Pettit Best Book Award (2007) for Polygamy on the Pedernales: Lyman Wight’s Mormon Village in Antebellum Texas; the Greg Kofford Best Theological Article (2017); for “John Hawley: His LDS Mission to Iowa and Eventual RLDS Conversion,” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal; and the Greg Kofford Alma Blair Best Biography for the Life and Times of John Pierce Hawley: A Mormon Ulysses of the American West (2019). Mel and Halli, his wife, live in Mesquite, Nevada.

Session 323 (11:00 a.m., Saturday, September 14)

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Session 324 (11:00 a.m., Saturday, September 14)

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Session 331 Presidential Banquet & Address (6:30 p.m., Saturday, September 23)

 

Title: The First Family of the Restoration, 1844-1900 by Kyle Walker

Abstract: In a matter of just four years, from 1840-1844, the family of the Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith was reduced to half, culminating with the deaths of Joseph, Hyrum and Samuel during that fateful summer of 1844. Those losses had a marked impact on the surviving Smith family. This presentation will explore the psychological impact of those losses, surviving family member’s attitude toward succession, and their decision to remain in the Midwest. It will also highlight interactions that occurred in the Midwest between the Smith family and their relatives and Saints who had gone West during the second half of the nineteenth century. Finally, it will examine the Smith family’s affiliation with the RLDS Church, and the continuing challenges of being in Smith in Illinois

Biographical Sketch: Kyle R. Walker was raised in Ashland, Oregon and Logandale, Nevada. He received his PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy from Brigham Young University (2001) and works as an administrator in the Counseling Center at BYU-Idaho. His research has primarily focused on relationships in restoration history. His doctoral dissertation focused on the family dynamics of the restoration’s first family. He is the editor of United by Faith: The Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family, and the award-winning biography William B. Smith: In the Shadow of the Prophet. Just this summer he published his latest book, Sister to the Prophet: The Life of Katharine Smith Salisbury. He is married to Daylene Wilson, and they are the parents of four sons and one daughter.

Hymn Fest (9:00 a.m., Sunday, September 24)

Title: Hymn Fest by Brian C. Hales

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