'Great pioneer' — Anson Call memorialized

When uttering his prophecy that the Latter-day Saints would become a mighty people in the Rocky Mountains, the Prophet Joseph Smith reportedly singled out Anson Call.

"There are some of those standing here that will perform a great work in that land," the Prophet said, according to Brother Call's record of the incident. "There is Anson. He shall go and shall assist in building cities from one end of the country to the other, and you shall perform as great a work as has ever been done by man so that the nations of the earth shall be astonished and many of them will be gathered in that land, assisting in building cities and temples, and Israel shall be made to rejoice."

Today, at This Is The Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City, a new monument commemorates Brother Call's role in the fulfillment of that prophecy.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve, whose late wife, June, is a great-granddaughter of Anson Call, dedicated the monument at a Sept. 22 unveiling. Hundreds of Call descendants and relatives gathered for the event at the bowery inside the park's Heritage Village, a short distance from the new monument, which is situated outside the village and thus can be viewed free of charge.

In addition to Elder Oaks, Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Presidency of the Seventy spoke at the service. Elder Tingey is a great-great-great-grandson of Anson Call.

"When Alma, the great high priest, went out to deliver the word of the Lord to a people who were weakening in the faith, he began by asking them if they had 'sufficiently retained in remembrance' the sacrifices and faithfulness of their predecessors and the 'mercy and long-suffering' of God toward them (Alma 5:6)," Elder Oaks remarked. "The importance of retaining these things in remembrance is what brings us together to honor a great pioneer with music, with the spoken word, and with the monument we dedicate today."

Descendants of Anson Call gather in bowery Sept. 21 at dedication of nearby monument.
Descendants of Anson Call gather in bowery Sept. 21 at dedication of nearby monument. | Photo by John Hart

Noting that Elder Tingey spoke earlier of Brother Call's accomplishments with the Church in the Midwest, Elder Oaks said he would speak briefly of Brother Call's life after he reached "these valleys of the mountains."

"As a colonizer, Anson Call did more leading than settling," Elder Oaks said. "He knew how to get there and get things started."

Brother Call pioneered the city of Bountiful, where he was bishop of the North Canyon Ward, Elder Oaks said. Other accomplishments Elder Oaks mentioned were assisting Elder George A. Smith in settling Parowan, where he organized Iron County and became a justice of the peace. He also mentioned that Brother Call helped colonize Fillmore, and represented Millard County in the territorial legislature; established Call's Fort about six miles north of Brigham City in northern Utah; supervised building of the territorial statehouse in Fillmore; led the colonization of Carson Valley in Nevada; and led 13 teams to rescue the stranded Martin Handcart Company in Wyoming.

Elder Tingey said Brother Call was always loyal to the Prophet Joseph Smith, adding that one year after being baptized in Kirtland, Ohio, 27-year-old Anson pledged his 50-acre farm to rescue the Prophet from imprisonment.

"In 1843, a year before Joseph was martyred, the apostate John C. Bennett slandered Joseph and the Church so badly that Anson, at the request of the Church, along with 379 other men left their families and traveled throughout Ohio, in the winter, as missionaries, to set forth the truth and preach the gospel," Elder Tingey said. "Anson's party baptized 40 people."

Elder Tingey said Anson knew physical and spiritual sacrifice. While crossing the plains to Utah with five children under the age of 12, Anson and his wife, Mary, awoke one morning and found their infant son Hyrum dead. "They dug a small grave beside an oak tree on a bluff and laid the lifeless body on the shallow grave," said Elder Tingey, his voice tinged with emotion. "There was no time to carve a memorial in the storm. They simply wrote his name on the tree."

Anson knew persecution, Elder Tingey said, recalling that in Missouri, his ancestor was taunted by a mob for 2 1/2 hours, that mobbers struck him in the face at least 50 times with the handle of a knife they threatened to plunge into his body. "Anson escaped, miraculously and cleverly, just before the mob planned to hang him. He returned to his family Christmas morning."

The monument consists of a bronze bust of Brother Call atop a stone marker. A bronze plaque gives the text of Brother Call's record of Joseph Smith's Rocky Mountain Prophecy, uttered on July 14, 1842, in Montrose, Iowa, across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo, Ill. A plaque on the other side of the monument contains a map of the State of Deseret in 1849-51, showing cities that Anson assisted in building: Call's Fort, Bountiful, Fillmore, Parowan, Callville and Carson Valley. The plaque notes that Brother Call, who lived from 1810 to 1890, is buried in the Bountiful City cemetery.

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