OGDEN, Utah President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, spotlighted pioneers of the Weber County, Utah, area as the keynote speaker at the Ogden Pioneer Days Celebration Devotional.
"Weber County has a remarkable history," President Faust told a congregation of about 10,000 in Weber State University's Dee Events Center on Sunday evening, July 16. "It has produced so many prominent men and women that, in some cases, have had a worldwide impact that cannot begin to be covered in the few minutes that I have to speak."
Also speaking during the devotional, at the invitation of President Faust, was Weber State President F. Ann Millner. Music was provided by the Ogden LDS Institute Chorale.
Among the early pioneers spoken of by President Faust, were Peter Skene Ogden, a trapper who shares his surname with the county's largest city; John Henry Weber, another fur trapper and the namesake for the county and one of its primary rivers; and John C. Fremont who explored the area of the Great Salt Lake. "His writings were probably studied by the Mormons at Nauvoo before the great exodus," President Faust said.
"Ogden is actually the oldest continuously settled community in Utah," President Faust noted. Miles Goodyear, another fur trapper, established Fort Buenaventura in what is now Ogden in 1845-46.
President Faust explained that Captain James Brown visited the fort in August 1847 while leading, on assignment from Brigham Young, a group of Mormon Battalion men to California to get the money owed the battalion for its service.
"The Church's high council in Salt Lake City voted to allow Brown to use the money he had brought back from California to purchase Goodyear's land and improvements for the use of the Latter-day Saints in this area," President Faust said.
Later in his remarks, he spoke of the strength the Ogden Utah Temple brought to Ogden and noted that in its shadow "is a tiny log cabin the oldest home in the mountain west. It was the home of Miles Goodyear."
Continuing, President Faust said, "To assure the success and growth of the settlements in Weber County, in 1850 Brigham Young selected Lorin Farr to take charge of affairs here."
In early 1851, the colony received its charter from the territory of Deseret, officially becoming Ogden City.
"Weber Stake, the second stake to be formed in the territory, was organized Jan. 26, 1851, with Lorin Farr as president," President Faust said, noting that the settler also served as mayor of Ogden for 22 years, established Weber County's first saw mill, grist mill and woolen mill, and served in the Utah Territorial Legislature for 33 years.
The arrival of the transcontinental railroad, with Ogden as a rail center, enhanced Weber County's importance in what would become the state of Utah, President Faust said, also mentioning that his great-grandfather, H.J. Faust, "subcontracted labor on the railroad under Brigham Young" and became the first bishop of Corrine, then a "wild town" just north of Weber County and near where the transcontinental railroad was completed.
Continuing the list of prominent Church members in the Weber County area, he named John Moses Browning of the gun-manufacturing family whose business still prospers in Ogden, and David Eccles who became one of the richest men in Utah through his business ventures.
President Faust spoke extensively of President David O. McKay and his family, which had roots in Huntsville in the valley at the top of Ogden Canyon. Before becoming a General Authority and eventually president of the Church, President McKay, who was "very intelligent and a natural leader," was very involved in the development of what is now Weber State University, President Faust said, echoing comments made by the school's President Millner in her address.
He recalled that Emma Rae McKay Ashton, President McKay's daughter, was his speech teacher at Granite High School in Salt Lake City, and emphasized to the delight of the congregation, "I never blamed her for my deficiencies."
Also included in his list of General Authorities with roots in the Ogden area were President McKay's brother Elder Thomas E. McKay, one of the original Assistants to the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder William J. Critchlow, also an Assistant to the Twelve; Elder S. Dilworth Young of the First Council of the Seventy; Elder Keith Wilcox who, as an architect, helped design the Washington D.C. Temple and served in the Second Quorum of the Seventy; Elder Marlin K. Jensen, currently a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Church Historian; and Elder Ronald T. Halverson who is serving in the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
He included Sister Grassli, who "served ably as General President of the Primary Association from 1980-1988," as one of the outstanding women of Weber County.
President Faust concluded, "In this devotional today we honor those of the past who have contributed so much to this city and county. We owe them so much. I believe there are ways we can give them a little payback. One is to remember them and express gratitude for the legacy they left us of faith and industry. Another is to keep sending out missionaries. Missionary work is what brought those early saints to Weber County."
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