Salt Lake Temple centennial: Experiences of 1902 Temple Square guide recalled by daughter

The Salt Lake Temple was dedicated 100 years ago on April 6, 1893, and has been the subject of many centennial articles in the Church News. This article is also in commemoration of the centennial anniversary.

The following account is about Jane Pixton Bowers, who was one of the first guides on Temple Square. She was born in 1879 and died in 1969. Her personal history was submitted by her daughter Ruth Bowers Robertson of the Ivins Ward, Salt Lake Wells Stake.June Pixton began her service as one of the first guides on Temple Square shortly after the turn of the century, about eight years after the temple was dedicated.

"My relationship with the Bureau of Information," Sister Bowers wrote in her personal history, "comes by my having been appointed a charter guide by my bishop for the first meeting of the bureau Aug. 4, 1902. The need for such an organization was long overdue as self-appointed vendors were meeting tourists and for a price were telling how the Mormons lived. Nor were hack drivers adverse to giving out misinformation at a price."

A proposal for a bureau of information was presented by a committee appoined by the First Council of the Seventy. The plan was revised and accepted, and included a president with trained missionaries as guides.

These guides, noted Sister Bowers, have subsequently distributed millions of tracts and books setting forth the history, doctrine, purposes and achievements of the Church.

She said that in just the first two weeks of service, 5,000 persons had registered at the new Bureau of Information booth, and in the first year, that total increased to 150,000 people.

"I served daily from Aug. 4 to about Dec. 1, when I was released because of my approaching marriage. This would take me away from Salt Lake City.

"During my service I had many memorable experiences. To name a few samples:

"There was a gentleman from Australia whose interest was our Tabernacle pipe organ, large and musical.

"Then there were the two ranchers from Texas who were charmed with their visit to the Temple Block and to express appreciation, said, `If you'll only visit Texas, we will give you a steer whose horns are too broad to go through that gate,' pointing to the gate in the east wall.

"Then there was on a Sunday afternoon, a minister from Minnesota and his party of four or five doctors and lawyers who met my companion and I near the bureau. He plied us with questions concerning the morality of LDS women and girls. At once we took our defense with the zeal of real warriors. The audacity of the speaker attracted passers-by and soon we had an audience of near a hundred, . . . which included two active guides in the priesthood.

"They tried to rescue us from such an unfair attack. The speaker turned to them and said, `Our conversation is with the lady.' However, my two friends stood by and through their faith rendered me spiritual assistance.

"The inspiration came; I could feel the Spirit. As I had led off in conversation, it was up to me carry on, and managed with the blessing of the Lord to answer his questions. . . .

"This finished, the party left, stopping at the fountain to refresh themselves with our good water. Mary Conelley, our friend, was standing near the fountain and overheard their talk of the incident, which had lasted almost an hour.

"The minister said, `If only I had 80 girls like that girl in my church, I could conquer. . . .'

"They moved away from the fountain and out of the grounds, so we never knew what he could conquer. For me, I was exhausted. Finding a seat inside the bureau I resorted to tears. One of my guides who was anxious about my welfare, turned especial interest away from me by saying, `She'll be all right. . . .' When I regained my composure, I returned home."

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