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Burial Services at Scofield

In the succession of dreadful days that have passed since Scofield and Winter Quarters were engulfed in tragedy, there has been no sadder one than this: The final parting's of the bereft from their dead and quickened the minds of the afflicted from the stupor of grief to keep, sharp realization of what it all meant to them. The shrieks and moans had died away and given place to a settled and less demonstrative grief. Eight more bodies were interred in the little cemetery on the hillside, making: the total number buried here 114, The first general funeral service took place this afternoon, as there was no meeting house here, the Apostles accepted the tender of the Odd Fellows' hall one of the largest in Scofield. While the meeting was held by the Latter-day Saints and presided over by the Apostles, its scope was broadened to take in all who mourned, and at one o'clock the hall was crowded with people of all denominations and no denomination at all.

A draped flag was hung back of the platform and the hall was draped. Prof. Giles officiated at the organ and a large choir rendered exquisite music. The attendance was large, numbering over three hundred, of whom two hundred and fifty were residents, their number no larger than the dead for whom they mourned. Apostle Teasdale offered the opening prayer in which he gave thanks for the sympathy which had come to those people from all over the world. He asked God's blessing upon those who extended it, especially upon the President of the United States and his associates, and upon those who had worked so hard amid the closing scenes of the awful tragedy; upon the Superintendency of the mine and his associates, who had done so much to make possible a Christian burial for the dead. He asked the Almighty to comfort the widows and orphans, and returned thanks to God that the hearts had been opened and subscriptions made to aid the stricken ones. He felt grateful that the holy Gospel had been restored to the earth, bringing with it truth and light and the hope of a glorious resurrection. He asked that grace might be given all to overcome and endure until the end. The choir sang the hymn, "Hark, From Afar, a Funeral Knell." Apostle Heber J. Grant followed, and said he desired that the words he might utter would comfort the hearts of all who mourned and strengthen the faith of the Saints. "On occasions of this kind, we realize that words fail and that we have not the power to express the full sentiments of our hearts and the sympathy we have for those who mourn. There is no desire on our parts except to comfort them. Truly it is better to visit the house of mourning than the house of feasting, for it is then that our hearts are drawn out to God. In the hour of revelry and feasting we forget our Father in heaven and the responsibilities resting upon us. While there is sorrow upon occasions of this kind, yet our hearts are drawn together in love and sympathy. I have had some experience in the battle of life, and can say that there is no joy equal to that which comes when we are laboring for the souls of men. We, as Latter-day Saints, do not mourn as do people who have no hope; that hope robs death of its frightful horror. From my own experience I know that God can comfort us in such an hour as this. I have experienced it. If we keep the commandments of God we know we shall have our loved ones who have gone before through all the countless ages of eternity." Apostle Grant bore a powerful testimony to the divinity of Christ, the divine mission of Joseph Smith and to the truth of the Gospel. Continuing, he told how his faith in God had strengthened him in the hour of affliction. When his wife and son died, he was supported by the absolute knowledge he had and did not shed a tear. When his wife was dying, his daughter called upon him to restore her mother. He had her leave the room and then bowed in prayer to God asking Him to give to his daughter a witness, and it was done. When she returned to her dead mother she had received a testimony. Elder Seymour B. Young said that this occasion was one calling for the deepest sympathy. He could not express how he felt for the grief stricken people here. If he was without faith, or they had none in the Gospel of the Lord, and His power to heal and control, the speaker would feel grief stricken indeed. On the anniversary of the great day when our navy, under Admiral Dewey, was victorious, came this calamity, and the sun, instead of setting here, went down in gloom and sorrow. The blow had been felt throughout this great nation. The sad tidings swept across the ocean and other nations extended their sympathy to us.

If we could feel thus deeply for our fellowmen, how sure might we feel that God looked down in great compassion upon the afflicted ones. Many scenes of sorrow had followed the Latter-day Saints, and in 1844, he remembered seeing the Saints stricken through the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum. The saints had come to look upon then as above the shafts of death, but in an hour they were taken, and the Saints learned that there was nothing beyond death's shaft upon the earth. In 1836, in achieving the independence of Texas, a little band of Texans were hemmed in at Alamo under Col. Crockett. All of them were slain on March 6th of that year, and their bodies were burned by the cruel Mexicans, jet out of the ashes blossomed the roses of liberty. So in all the dispensations of God, He found that He would work out ultimate good to us all." In closing, Elder Young read a beautiful poem. The choir sang, "Rest for the Weary Soul." Apostle Reed Smoot next addressed the audience and said that after witnessing the scenes of the past few days, he was more than ever convinced that this life was not a life in reality, but that the true life would be found beyond the veil, where so many of the friends and relatives of the audience had gone. There may be those that believe that death has a sting, a grave a victory, but the speaker urged his hearers to the belief that in the loss of mortality we gain immortality. Religion is no good unless one receives some benefit by it. Religion means that we should do good to each other. "I ask the widows to stop and consider that though their loved ones are dead, they have simply gone back to mother earth, and all that was Godlike in them, all that made you love them lives and will live forever." The speaker related an experience of his own, when his mother was on her death bed. She asked each of her children to express themselves before she passed away as to whether she had done all she should have done for them. In all his weakness at the time, his last request was if she could come back, she would come and tell him that he was doing the will of the Father, and whether the Gospel was true or not. "And I want to testify," he continued, "that that mother of mine appeared to me, not when I was asleep, not when I was dreaming, but as I am standing here, she told me I was walking in a way that was pleasing in His sight." There was nothing to be compared with a testimony that Jesus was the Christ, but they could not have that testimony unless they did the will of the Father. It could be had only by exertion, by effort. His hope and desire was that every young man born under the covenant of the everlasting Gospel should live such a life that he might do whatever was wanted at any time. If religion does not make you a better citizen in all respects then religion is doing you no especial good. You who have it should extend a helping hand. The next month will be a very trying time for those who have lost their dear ones. In the excitement of the present, you have been held up, but in the days that are coming, go to your God. Let those left behind say no rash words, do no rash act. Take no especial steps towards demanding what you may think is right from the Company, don't let men come among you to harrow up your souls; take counsel of each other, so that whatever is done may not be for one but for all. There is a bishopric here that loves you and we hope the conditions of each family may be learned. If we do not get excited, we will be better off than if we go about it haphazard, I give you this advice with all the love I would give to a dear brother or father. "I hope that in this great bereavement everyone will extend a helping hand in the spirit of brotherly love."

Apostle George Teasdale was the last speaker. He said that he and his associates were present at the request of President Lorenzo Snow. The word of the disaster had come to them while they were in counsel, and they had came as quickly as possible to offer what help and consolation they could. He referred to the faithful labors of the men who had come to aid and had gone down to the bowels of the earth to rescue the bodies. "My heart is out to those men," he said, "I want to meet them all and take by the hand those who have shown by their labors their nobility and their manhood, and I am pleased to be associated with them, whatever their religion is." Those who died in the pits had worked out their salvation. The men who went into the bowels of the earth, worked, came home, slept and returned to work, scarcely seeing the glory of the sun and the skies. These men did not have the opportunities of temples. "But," he asked. "When they died and were behind the veil, do you think there is no salvation for them? You cannot make me believe that. That is why we are here to get their names and this information about them. Who was it that put up our temples and performed other great works? It was not the millionaires, overflowing with money, but working men, upon whom, after all, we all have to depend." According to the prophecies calamities might be expected, and they were growing more and more frequent. We are all equally the children of God, the gates are wide open for those who loved the Lord and kept his commandments. When our spirits return to God who gave them, we shall receive our reward in accordance with our works. That is justice. It is not those who cry "Lord, Lord," and go about doing lip service but those who work. The wives who had lost husbands could be sealed to them for eternity. He prayed that the tens of thousands being raised for the afflicted ones, might not be wasted, but that it would go to the widow and the orphan. These men and women don't want charity. They have said: 'Give us something to do, that we may be independent in our manhood.' That is the nobility of labor. Give these people a homestead with a pig sty and a place for a cow and some chickens. These widows want a home and a shelter. "I pray God that He will sanctify this affliction unto us. We mourn with you, our tears mingle with yours. May peace be in all your habitations." The choir sang, "Wanted on the Other Side," and after benediction, the services were concluded.



Source: History of the Scofield Mine Disaster, by J. W. Dilley, The Skelton Pub. Co., Provo, Utah, 1900.

Editors Note: The I.. O. O. F. were very active in raising money for the benefit of the widows and children along with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This information is included for historical value, it does not mean the people of this project support these institutions.


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