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Salt Lake Cemetery Tour

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
September 26, 2021 9:46 pm

Salt Lake Cemetery Tour

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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September 26, 2021 9:46 pm

Bill McKeever is organizing a cemetery tour…would you like to come? What will you see? This episode tells you what you can do to come along for free later in October.


You hear a knock on the door and open it to find two friendly representatives from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon Church.

So what will you say? Will you send them away without a Christian witness, or will you engage them in a meaningful and Christ-honoring conversation? If you desire the latter, may we suggest the book, Answering Mormon's Questions, by Mormonism Research Ministries Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson. Answering Mormon's Questions is available wherever you find quality Christian books. Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. Where in Salt Lake City can you find a wealth of history? Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism.

I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. If you're looking for Mormon history, I would probably suggest the Salt Lake City Cemetery. And we are going to be having another tour of the Salt Lake Cemetery coming up in October, October 23rd, 2021. And if you're interested in attending that tour, I will be leading it as I have in the past. We're going to be visiting the graves of a number of Mormon leaders and other colorful characters that have anything to do with LDS history. The Salt Lake City Cemetery is quite large. It's about 120 acres, so there's no way that we're going to see the entire cemetery, but we are going to follow a route that I have put down that we can see a lot of prominent people having to do with LDS history. If you'd like to sign up for that, what you can do is to write us at contact at, and in the subject line, put the words cemetery tour, cemetery tour.

I'm not looking for a large group. If we do get a large group, we'll probably have to divide it up somehow. If we don't get enough, maybe we'll have to just do this on another day. But October 23rd, 2021 is when we plan on doing our cemetery tour. And Bill, what time is that going to take place? It will be in the morning. I'm not exactly sure what time, but we will be conducting this within about a two hour timeframe. And the reason why we like to keep the participants limited is if you get too many people involved in this, it becomes a long line and trying to get everybody back in their cars and drive to the next area, then jumping out and getting back in their cars.

It becomes very time consuming. One thing I have to say about this tour is that even if you don't like history, but you know a little bit about Mormonism and you've heard of some of the people who are major players, the presidents, in fact, 12 of the 16 deceased LDS presidents are buried here, you have to go on this because Bill will tell stories where he goes, where whenever he gets to a marker, he will tell you a little bit about that person, how that person lived. He'll even talk about some of the men who were polygamists. And there's all kinds of interest when you're talking about polygamy and having the wives buried near this man, the children, it's just a fascinating time. Especially when you take a case like Joseph Fielding Smith, the 10th president of the church, he's buried among a lot of these other women. Now, Joseph Fielding Smith, of course, being the 10th president of the church, he's born after the polygamy era. Yet, a lot of those women that you see buried next to him are going to be married to him if Mormonism is true. They are going to be Joseph Fielding Smith's wives in the hereafter because they were not sealed to another man and were all sealed for time and eternity to Joseph Fielding Smith.

So even though polygamy in the traditional understanding of plural marriage is not practiced today in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is most certainly thought to be a practice that will go on into eternity. Bill, you've been looking at grave sites for many, many years. What got you interested in looking at where people are buried?

I think most people would say, well, maybe you're morbid, and maybe that is. It is a little bit macabre, but I find the history behind all these individuals to be fascinating. And I've, of course, been interested in Mormon history for much of my Christian life, or much of my adult life.

I became a Christian around the age of 18, so my interest in Mormonism goes clear back to that conversion that I had when I put my trust in Jesus as my Savior. I find that there's a lot of people that are buried in the Salt Lake Cemetery that even though they really had no prominence as leaders in the LDS Church, they did play an important role in the history. One of the markers that we're going to be seeing is Orem Porter Rockwell's grave. Orem Porter Rockwell was, of course, the bodyguard of Joseph Smith, as well as the bodyguard of Brigham Young, and I've often kitted around, tongue firmly planted in cheek, that you might also say that Orem Porter Rockwell was Brigham Young's assassin, depending on what side of the fence you are as far as your loyalties to Brigham Young and the LDS Church. But you had mentioned plural wives. A number of Joseph Smith's plural wives are buried in the Salt Lake Cemetery.

After Joseph Smith was killed in 1844 and Brigham Young moved the church out west, a lot of those women were—well, I hate to use the term farmed out, but I don't know of another term that really explains what's going on here, because that's exactly what happened. A lot of Joseph Smith's plural wives were given over to other leaders in the church, such as Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball. Now, Heber C. Kimball is not buried in the Salt Lake Cemetery.

He's buried more downtown in a kind of a hidden, obscured cemetery that's surrounded by a bunch of apartment buildings. But Brigham Young, though he's not buried in the Salt Lake Cemetery, a number of his plural wives are buried there. Brigham Young is buried on First Avenue, just east of the church headquarters building, and Eliza Roxy Snow is buried there, as well as a couple of other of Brigham Young's wives, but there are some of his plural wives that are buried in the Salt Lake Cemetery. You have a number of, as you mentioned, LDS presidents.

A lot of apostles are buried in the Salt Lake Cemetery. One of the apostles' grave markers that I like to take people to see is Orson Pratt. Orson Pratt was a very outspoken leader in the 19th century. He got himself into a little bit of trouble with Brigham Young when he started criticizing some of Brigham Young's heretical teachings, such as Adam-God and such. Orson Pratt has this big, huge marker out there, and some of his plural wives are listed on the back.

Some are not. One of his wives that is not listed on Orson Pratt's marker is Sarah Pratt, his first wife. Now, you might ask yourself, well, why isn't Sarah Pratt listed among some of these other wives if she was the primary wife? Well, it's because Sarah Pratt, when they came out to Utah, she was an anti-polygamy activist, and she had had just about enough of her husband, especially when he went on a mission and ended up marrying a Scottish girl by the name of Margaret Dickman. Margaret Dickman was born in 1852.

She was 41 years younger than Orson Pratt. See, a lot of people, they look at Brigham Young marrying a lot of these younger women, and even Joseph Smith, who married a 14-year-old by the name of Helen Mar Kimball. We will be seeing Helen Mar Kimball's grave.

She's buried next to her husband, Horace Whitney, and also one of Horace Whitney's plural wives is also buried near Helen Mar Kimball as well. The Smith plot, Ida Smith. Can you tell us a little bit about Ida Smith's plot?

She was related to the Smith family. She ended up giving her plot to a man by the name of Christopher Namelka. Christopher Namelka was a security guard in the Salt Lake City temple. He claimed that he is the reincarnated Hiram Smith. Somehow he was able to convince Ida Smith to give him her plot, and there is a marker there for Christopher Namelka, even though he is still alive.

It's one of the more colorful markers in the whole cemetery. Christopher Namelka, believing he is the reincarnated Hiram Smith, has a marker there even though he is not deceased. But in that area you will find a lot of relatives to Joseph and Hiram Smith, and really the only way you can be buried in that particular plot is if you are related. So you can understand that Christopher Namelka having a headstone already there when he's still alive, plus the fact that Namelka is not related to the Smiths at all, that certainly caused a lot of controversy when that transaction took place many years ago.

Now, Ida Smith has since died. As I said, the cemetery is about 120 acres in size, and there's about 125,000 people currently buried there. I think there's room for maybe another 5,000 to be buried there.

But it's a fascinating tour, and unfortunately we don't have the time to go visit everybody of prominence, but we are going to look at some of the bigger names. So people are going to need to do a lot of walking, or is it a lot of just driving to the sites and then being able to just get out and walk a little bit? I would say that it's going to be both, because when we park on the roads and we get out of our cars, we are going to have to walk across a number of various grave sites to get to where we want to go. Many of them are right near the road, but not all of them. But what we will do is when we park, we'll go and hit as many as we can in that particular area to use our time wisely. And that might take a little bit of walking.

So if you have a problem walking, I don't know if this is going to be something that would be good for you, but certainly if you have no problem with walking any amount of distance, then by all means we would love to have you come. The first burial that took place in the Salt Lake Cemetery was in 1848. This is really before it became an official entity, you might say. A man by the name of George Wallace, his nine-month-old daughter Mary passed away in 1848, and so there is a marker there commemorating not only George Wallace but also his children. Bill, a lot of your pictures that you've taken over the years of different Mormon graves and markers can be found on our website. And I encourage anybody who's interested in this kind of hobby that Bill has, go on to slash graves and markers with hyphens between graves and markers. There are literally over a hundred different pictures of different graves, including all of the presidents of the church, many of the apostles of the church, many of them, of course, buried here at the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Again, that's going to be on October 23rd, 2021. It will be in the morning, it's going to be about two hours or so long, and if you want to sign up for that, I encourage you to just merely contact us at mrm, and you can do that at contact at And in the subject line, put cemetery tour. You might want to also include a phone number if I might need to contact you, but I will have your email address if you contact me at contact at, and that's for our cemetery tour that's going to be taking place on October 23rd, 2021. And Bill, is there any cost?

There's no cost whatsoever. I think you're going to find it to be a very fun morning, lots of information, a lot of fascinating history, hopefully. I hope I can keep you interested during that two hour period, but people that have attended it before said that they've really enjoyed it, and it is supposed to be a morning that we can have a bit of fun while looking at the graves of a lot of dead people, October 23rd, 2021.

Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding Mormonism Research Ministry, we encourage you to visit our website at, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another Viewpoint on Mormonism. When sharing your faith with a Latter-day Saint, it helps to know what their church has taught on several basic topics. For this reason, Mormonism Research Ministry has provided its Crash Course Mormonism. Crash Course Mormonism includes concise articles highlighting what LDS leaders and church manuals have taught on issues that will probably come up in a typical conversation. You can find these informative articles at That's
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-19 10:11:26 / 2023-08-19 10:16:58 / 6

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