“Give Me Any Situation Suitable”

The Consecrated Life of the Multitalented Paul A. Schettler



In October 1860, this letter arrived in Brigham Young’s office (fig. 1):

             Great Salt Lake City
October 23rd 1860
President Brigham Young,

Dear Sir,

Having found no suitable occupation yet, and being desirous of making myself useful, I take this opportunity, to recommend myself to your memory for the case, that any vacancy might have to be filled, and also in order to give you an idea of my handwriting.

I am a native of Prussia, 33 years of age, and am perfectly acquainted with practical bookkeeping by double entry, and I am conversant with the english, low dutch1 and french language, the latter however I had no occasion to practise in the last years.

I should be very glad, if you could give me any situation suitable to my abilities, and remain in that expectation

     Dear Sir,
respectfully Yours
Paul A. Schettler2

Brigham Young, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, quickly found a “situation suitable” to occupy this enthusiastic Prussian convert who had recently immigrated to Utah. During the April 1861 general conference, Paul A. Schettler was called to open the Netherlands for preaching the restored gospel (fig. 2).3 Schettler’s response to this call was one of many examples of his lifelong dedication to the Latter-day Saints as he put his abilities to use in helping to establish Zion at home and abroad.

The story of Schettler’s conversion and experiences as a Latter-day Saint is an intriguing example of one who consecrated his time and talents to the kingdom of God upon the earth. While his faith and commitment to his religion are no different from those of the thousands of converted Latter-day Saint immigrants who were a part of the nineteenth-century fabric of Mormon society, Schettler is unique in several ways. He opened the Netherlands for the preaching of the gospel and traveled to Palestine with Church leaders to rededicate the Holy Land for the return of the Jews. His proficiency in linguistics and his appreciation for foreign cultures significantly contributed to the growth of the Church internationally. In addition, through his singular contributions, Schettler became a prominent and trusted figure in both the religious and the economic communities in Utah. Such contributions include promoting Utah’s silk industry, serving as treasurer of Salt Lake City for twenty years, and being called as a secretary in the 1873 Order of Enoch.

Schettler’s name is frequently mentioned in primary sources related to these activities; however, despite his significant contributions, he has not received recognition in the form of a biography. Unfortunately, thorough research of archival and family genealogical resources has failed to turn up personal source materials, such as a journal—if Schettler kept one—or correspondence.4 Nevertheless, this sketch attempts to flesh out Schettler’s life and character through family genealogical records, manuscript collections, newspapers, and his few published correspondences.5

Paul August Schettler was born August 13, 1827, in Neuwied, a community established by Moravians on the Rhine River in Prussia.6 He was the first surviving son of Frederick Schettler and Charlotte Friedericke Menzel. Sadly, only six days after Paul’s birth, his mother died.7 Shortly after Charlotte’s death, Frederick married Caroline Louise Zipperlen, and they had six children.8 Of the children born in that marriage, Bernhard Herman Schettler was closest to Paul. The Schettlers’ was a home abundant in love and care generated by parents who were devoted to the welfare and education of their children.9 They provided a financially secure environment, extending every advantage for the children’s education and medical care. This financial security was most likely due to the father’s position as manager of the Brotherhood Inn and Brewery in Neuwied.10

The Schettler children seem to have excelled in their life’s pursuits, thanks in part to education and to parental influence. According to one source, the children had the opportunity to attend “one of the best institutions” for education in Germany.11 Located in the town of Neuwied were a number of institutions for learning established by the Moravian Church for the education of its young members. Paul and his half brothers probably attended the celebrated boarding school for boys that accommodated the French-speaking Swiss from the diaspora of Moravians in the mid-eighteenth century.12 Bernhard described the curriculum, including “Grammar in German, French and English, Geography, History, Arithmetic, Latin, writing, reading, Geometry and Theology.”13 Paul’s proficiency in several languages, which would serve him so well after his conversion to Mormonism, can be attributed to his learning the language of his family’s homeland (German), those languages taught as part of his education (English, French, and Latin), and the language spoken by his relatives in Zeist (Dutch or Low Dutch).

In addition to secular education, the children were instructed in the theological doctrines of the Moravian faith, also known as the Unitas Fratrum, the dominant religion of the Neuwied community. This Christian denomination descended from the Hussite reforms of the fifteenth century and the German Pietist movement of the eighteenth century.14 Organized into tight-knit communities, the faith followed no dogmatic creeds but relied wholly on the Bible for guidance, particularly the New Testament.15 Paul’s family and ancestry were deeply rooted in the religious culture of the Moravians.16

At the age of fifteen, following his education in Neuwied, Schettler entered an apprenticeship to learn the mercantile trade. Bernhard’s description of Paul’s departure illustrates the close relationship of these two young brothers, though they were over five years apart in age:

In April, 1842 my brother Paul A. left for Gnadan17 (a 2 days journey by steamboat and rail), father accompanied him half the distance, and I well remember when Paul left at 3 a.m. I was awake in bed feeling sorrowful at his leaving, and just before he left the room, he came to my bedside, kissed me and said “[Bernhard] Herman, you can have my kite,” which of course pleased me very much. Paul was gone for 5 years (1847 seemed to me a very long time to look forward to) to learn the mercantile business.18

Paul matured so much during his five-year absence that his family felt they hardly knew him. During his apprenticeship, he acquired excellent skills in the mercantile trade, finance, and handwriting. These skills, combined with his knowledge of at least five languages, made his immigration to America and obtaining employment much easier than they might otherwise have been. After his conversion to Mormonism, these skills also made him a valuable asset in any position he was called to fill.

The first in the Schettler family to immigrate to the United States was Friedrich Rudolph Schettler, one of Paul’s half brothers, who left in August 1849 to pursue his fortune in New York City.19 Less than a year later, on January 27, 1850, misfortune struck when Friedrich August Schettler, Paul’s father, died. At the time, Paul was in Zeist, Holland, probably working in the mercantile trade near his extended family.20 After the death of Friedrich, the family looked to America for their future. Having received encouraging letters from Friedrich Rudolph, Paul’s stepmother encouraged Bernhard to try his hand in New York City as well. Her support was particularly influenced by “some fortune teller having told her that there was much luck going to come to her from across some big water.”21 Bernhard left for America in November 1852. Between 1848 and 1858, Paul likely worked in the mercantile business at Gnadenfeld in Silesia. During these years, Bernhard wrote encouraging letters to Paul inviting him to New York City.22 Finally, in spring 1858, Paul accompanied his stepmother to America.23

Arriving in New York, Paul quickly procured employment with Lord and Taylor’s Dry Goods Store and later as a bookkeeper for Kauffman and Sohn, a wholesale clothing house.24 Before Paul’s arrival, Bernhard rented living quarters large enough for himself, Paul, his mother, and his sister Emily [Emilie], who had also immigrated to New York. When Emily contracted an illness, Dr. Borghaus, an acquaintance of the family, began treating her. It was through Dr. Borghaus, who was investigating the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that Paul was introduced to Mormonism and informed of the Saints’ meeting place in Williamsburgh.

By fellowshipping with the Saints, attending their meetings, and studying the doctrines of the gospel, Paul gained a testimony of the truthfulness of Mormonism. On February 9, 1860, Paul was baptized in the East River by Elder George Q. Cannon, who at that time was attending to the duties of president of the Eastern States Mission and acting as an agent for recently immigrated Mormons from Europe.25 When Paul announced his espousal to Mormonism, his family reacted with mixed emotions. Bernhard had confidence in his elder bother’s judgment:

It was on the evening of the 22nd day of February 1860, as we were finishing supper the conversation having turned on the subject of religion and the Mormons that Paul told us that he had been baptized and joined the Latter-day Saints. This almost caused mother to faint. She threw herself on her bed and appeared frantic with grief whilst Emily was trying to quiet her. . . . I was astonished, but having no prejudices, and knowing Paul to be a moral and exemplary man, I at last broke the silence by saying, “Well, there is no use to get excited over this. If Paul has embraced that religion, it is worthy of our consideration, and I propose that we all investigate it prayerfully and without prejudice.”26

The horrified reaction of Paul’s stepmother was not unusual, considering her lifelong devotion to the Moravian faith. After a family investigation into the doctrines of the Church, Bernhard himself desired to join the group; Paul’s stepmother and sister Emily declined, expressing opposition to Bernhard’s choice.

Paul’s confidence and dedication to his newfound testimony must have been earnest. In spring 1860, on announcing his decision to emigrate to Utah, he handed over his bookkeeping position to Bernhard. Missing his brother’s baptism by a few days, Paul departed in early May and left with the third Mormon company of 1860, led by Captain Jesse Murphy. Paul was called to serve as company clerk. He fulfilled this calling, keeping minutes of the company’s trek until their arrival in the Salt Lake Valley on August 30, 1860.27

Little is known of Schettler’s activities after his arrival in the Valley. The October 23, 1860, letter he sent to Brigham Young suggests he actively sought employment in addition to serving as a clerk to Bishop William G. Young in Grantsville, Utah.28 During this period, he was a member of the Seventeenth Ward of the Salt Lake Stake and was rebaptized on October 28, 1860, by Nathan Davis, then first counselor in the bishopric.29 Such rebaptisms of mid-nineteenth-century immigrant converts were viewed as symbols of their renewed commitment to build the kingdom of God now that they had reached the valley of the Great Salt Lake.

On April 21, 1861, less than eight months after Schettler arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, Elder John Taylor of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles set him apart to preach the gospel in Holland. Schettler and his companion, Elder Anne Wiegers van der Woude, a native of the Netherlands, started east for New York on April 26, crossing the plains with Church teams.30 In Florence, Nebraska, a location used to outfit Mormon wagon trains, Schettler met his beloved brother Bernhard, who was immigrating to the Salt Lake Valley. During their brief reunion, the Schettler brothers together confirmed a woman who had recently been baptized.31 Taking leave of his brother, Schettler continued his journey with van der Woude, and after reaching New York, the two young men crossed the Atlantic on the SS Etna, arriving in Rotterdam, Holland, on August 5, 1861.32 Until their arrival, Apostle Orson Hyde was the only Mormon known to have visited this land, having passed through the country in June 1841 en route to Jerusalem to dedicate Palestine for the return of the Jews.33

After arriving in Rotterdam, the elders soon separated. Van der Woude went to Amsterdam, and Schettler to Zeist, a Moravian settlement where he hoped to find success among his relatives.34 Although Schettler’s family received him gladly, they were not inclined to receive the gospel. Describing the reaction to his message, Schettler wrote:

After I had preached to them a little of our doctrines . . . it was very difficult to prevail upon them to listen to sound reasoning from that very hour, because their minds had been prejudiced against us to a great extent, through the reading of the most vile and slanderous reports in Dutch and German newspapers.35

Elder Schettler also had several discussions with local preachers and “learned men,” to no avail. Of these interactions, Schettler wrote, “They said they were convinced of the integrity of my intentions, but that I was deluded and a fanatic.”36 Leaving some missionary tracts and books translated into German,37 Schettler transferred to Amsterdam to aid van der Woude.

Upon arriving in Amsterdam, Schettler discovered that van der Woude had met with similar trials. Schettler explained that “the national character of the Dutch is to stick to the traditions of their fathers more than other nations, and this spirit is manifested in all their customs and fashions.”38 These traditions, mixed with opposition by both the clergy and the government, hindered the proselyting efforts of the elders.39 Shortly after Schettler’s arrival in Amsterdam, van der Woude left to preach to his relatives. He achieved some success in the small town of Broek, where he baptized the first three people to accept Mormonism in the Netherlands.40 Schettler baptized nine additional converts by February 1862, and the first Dutch branch of the Church was organized in Amsterdam on May 10, 1862.41 Schettler has occassionally been referred to as the first president of the Netherlands Mission.42

Schettler’s language skills proved beneficial in the preaching of the gospel in the Netherlands. After translating several Church missionary tracts and books, including “Authenticity of the Book of Mormon,” Schettler undertook the task of translating the Book of Mormon into the Dutch language for the first time. Portions of this translation were read at branch meetings, making sections of the Book of Mormon available to Dutch-speaking members. Although Schettler was praised for finishing the translation and it was helpful in missionary work, his translation was never published.43 In addition, it is significant to note that Schettler made all the translations of the various tracts and pamphlets used in the mission. This undertaking illustrates his enterprising and possibly ambitious character, given that his companion was a native of the Netherlands.44

During fall 1862, Apostle George Q. Cannon, who presided over the European Mission, began touring the missions and branches of France, Scandinavia, Holland, and Switzerland. 45 On September 24, Schettler and van der Woude met President Cannon, and the three began visiting the Dutch Saints.46 At some point during this visit, it was decided that Schettler’s language skills in German and French would be put to better use aiding John L. Smith, president of the Swiss and Italian Mission.47 However, it is also possible that Schettler’s transfer to the Swiss and Italian Mission may have been partially due to personality conflicts with van der Woude.48

Van der Woude was left to oversee the Netherlands while Schettler continued on the tour with President Cannon. On September 28, President Cannon and company arrived in Basel, Switzerland. They were met by President Smith and began visiting the many branches in that area. Schettler acted primarily as a translator at these meetings, but he also spoke and bore testimony when called upon. President Cannon, impressed with Schettler’s abilities, commented, “Brother Schettler . . . interpreted . . . with much facility and correctness.”49

Schettler, who acted primarily as an administrative assistant to President Smith, found diverse responsibilities in his new position. Soon after the departure of President Cannon, Smith appointed Schettler president of the south and west districts of the Swiss and Italian Mission. In November 1862, Schettler served as acting president while Smith visited branches in the mission.50 During 1863, President Smith and Schettler took turns visiting the fourteen branches and 577 members under their jurisdiction.51 In early June 1863, Schettler visited the Netherlands and baptized eleven converts. Among these converts was Timothy Mets, who later presided over and greatly expanded missionary work in the Netherlands Mission.52 To become more effective in his role as assistant, Schettler began to restudy the French language he had learned in his youth.53

At the end of 1863, President John L. Smith finished his missionary labors and went to England, leaving Schettler once again as temporary president of the mission, then designated the Swiss, Italian, and German Mission.54 By February 1864, Schettler learned that he had also been released; William W. Riter had been appointed in his stead as president. A description of Schettler’s farewell address in Geneva, left in the Swiss, Italian, and German Mission manuscript history, illustrates his spirit and closeness with the people:

He spoke with great earnestness and power until a large portion of the congregation was in tears. During his speech he prophesied of the judgements of God which would come upon the inhabitants of Switzerland because of their persecutions of the saints.55

The cholera epidemic of 1867–68 that raged through the canton of Zurich was seen by Church officials as the fulfillment of this and other prophecies.56

The impact of Paul Schettler’s missionary service in both the Netherlands Mission and the Swiss, Italian, and German Mission cannot be overstated. After his release, his companions lamented the loss of his language abilities and praised his dedication to the Saints.57 President Riter, who accompanied Schettler to the train at the time of his departure, wrote this tribute in a letter to President Cannon, who had baptized Schettler just four years earlier:

Brother Schettler left here yesterday, en route for Zion. I do not like the vain eulogies of the world; still, I cannot help paying a tribute to brother Schettler. He is one of God’s true and faithful servants, and his name will not be soon forgotten by the Saints in Switzerland.58

Schettler left Liverpool for New York on March 23, 1864, on the steamship City of London, ahead of the main body of emigrating Saints and returning missionaries, in order to transport “the books, containing the business of the Emigration” to the Latter-day Saint emigration agents in New York.59 He joined incoming Mormon immigrants and his former mission president, John L. Smith, in New York. Together they traveled west to the frontier outfitting post in Wyoming, Nebraska. They then joined the William Hyde Company, arriving in the Salt Lake Valley on October 30, 1864.60

After his return to Salt Lake City, Schettler distinguished himself in a wide variety of professional and religious endeavors. In October 1864, Mayor Abraham O. Smoot employed him as Salt Lake City treasurer, a position he would hold for twenty years.61 Sometime during 1865, Schettler married Bavarian native Maria Joseph “Josephine” Gierich [Gierisch]. Paul and Josephine were married for sixteen years and had no children.

Schettler became an “ardent supporter of the silk industry” established by Brigham Young in the Utah Territory.62 In 1867, Paul purchased five acres of land—currently the site of the Yalecrest Chapel—on which he planted mulberry trees.63 He also built two cocooneries in the area, one of which he managed. In 1872, Schettler and fellow sericulturist T. B. H. Stenhouse went to California to learn more about raising silk worms in the United States.64 During this trip, Schettler visited many cocooneries, compared Utah silk samples with those he came in contact with, and imported a new French reel machine for the production of silk in Utah.65

In addition to Schettler’s work as the treasurer of Salt Lake City and his duties with the silk industry, he dabbled in politics and the mining business. On February 10, 1870, Schettler took part in the Peoples Party’s sneaky coup d’etat of the newly organized Liberal Party. The Liberal Party had invited all the “people” of the territory to take part in their party officer elections. As it happened, all members of the Peoples Party turned out and outvoted the Liberals. Schettler was voted in as treasurer for the party.66 Just a few months later, in June 1870, Schettler tried his hand in mining. A group of men led by John Beck, “the crazy Dutchman,” laid claim to a bullion mine in the Tintic Mining District in Utah’s Eureka Gulch. Included among the nine claimers was a Paul Shetler.67 According to a Deseret News article published eighteen years after his death, Schettler “was once secretary of the Eureka Hill Mining company and owned a large amount of its stock.”68 Although mining was a controversial practice criticized by Brigham Young and others,69 Schettler’s involvement did not seem to affect his relationship with leading Church authorities.

In November 1872, Paul Schettler was called to accompany a group of prominent Mormons on the second apostolic mission to Palestine. Leaving his duties as Salt Lake City treasurer in the hands of his brother Bernhard,70 Paul joined President George A. Smith of the First Presidency, Elders Lorenzo Snow and Albert Carrington of the Council of the Twelve, Feramorz Little, Thomas W. Jennings, Eliza R. Snow, and Clara A. Little. The objective of the group was twofold: first, to rededicate the “land of Palestine” for the return of the Jews, and second, to visit with foreign dignitaries and observe conditions that would allow for a continuation in the spread of missionary work in new lands.71 Schettler’s abilities were key to the success of this mission. Throughout the trip, he served as a translator to foreign heads of state, Church members, travel agents, guides, and money changers. In addition, he organized the group’s travel plans and finances, including currency exchange and record keeping. While in Europe, the travelers visited numerous silk factories where Schettler compared silk produced in Utah with that produced in Europe.72

The Saints in Utah participated in the journey to the Holy Land via correspondences printed in several news publications. Eliza R. Snow wrote to the Woman’s Exponent, Elder Lorenzo Snow to the Deseret News, and Paul A. Schettler to the Salt Lake Herald. A perusal of Schettler’s letters and those of his companions reveals his unique aptitude for detailed planning, finance, and language. In addition, his letters illustrate his interest in foreign cultures, their histories, and ancient ruins, which he described meticulously.

Some of the experiences of the group bring life to Schettler’s personality. While in Egypt, after Schettler purchased “Turkish caps” for several members in the group, Eliza R. Snow wrote:

The most comically amusing practice, and one of constant exhibition, is a person, either Turk or Christian, on a donkey, with a man or boy in gown or turban, running in the rear, and with a stick punching or striking the animal to quicken its speed. Our highly respected cashier and interpreter, Brother P. A. Schettler, adopted this fashionable style, but much to the regret of Miss Little and myself, he disappointed us of the gratification we anticipated in witnessing the interesting and undignified exhibition, by performing it clandestinely.73

Later, after climbing one of the Great Pyramids of Giza, Schettler wrote:

With the assistance of four strong Arabs, two of whom took me by the hands, and two of them pushing and lifting me from behind, where the steps were four feet high, and after resting several times, I reached the top in seventeen minutes, when my Arabs gave me three cheers and a tiger in regular Yankee style, and tolerably good Arab English, asking me of course for the unavoidable “backsheesh,” or fee, which you hear from early morning till late in the evening sounded in your ears for real or imaginary services rendered.74

George A. Smith described one interesting scene in which he needed to communicate with a rabbi who spoke Hebrew: “I talked to Brother Schettler, he to a German Jew, and the Jew to the Rabbi, as the latter could only speak in Hebrew.”75 From this and other experiences during the trip, George A. Smith would later brag that Schettler knew six languages.76

The correspondence of those who traveled with Schettler indicates they recognized Schettler’s superior language and finance skills as essential to the success of the trip. Eliza R. Snow wrote:

Br. Schettler does not so well understand [Italian] as [he does] French and German, but he manages admirably with R.R. officers &c. wherever we are—he acts as interpreter and business agent &c. &c. Whatever language he may not so well understand, he has a happy faculty of guessing, and we have had no difficulty.77

Feramorz Little later praised Schettler’s “singular ability in managing the affairs of [the] party and the . . . implicit trust and confidence reposed in him.”78

While Schettler and the group were in Palestine, Brigham Young began to reemphasize an organization known as the Order of Enoch, a social order based on a revelation of Joseph Smith to create a community where people lived with all things in common. As a result of the economic panic of 1873 and in order to produce economic stability, President Young felt it necessary to reestablish a plan for communal living, known also as the United Order. Nearly 150 community orders were established, the central order being in Salt Lake City. This central administration regulated all other orders, including those organized on a ward level in the city.79 On May 9, 1874, after Schettler’s return, Brigham Young was elected as president and the Quorum of the Twelve as vice presidents of the order. Paul A. Schettler was elected as one of the six secretaries.80

Soon after his return from the Palestine tour, Schettler resumed his duties as treasurer of Salt Lake City. In addition, he was made cashier of the newly organized Zion’s Savings Bank and Trust Company.81 But tragedy struck Schettler on July 8, 1874, when he suffered a stroke of paralysis that debilitated the right side of his body.82 Days after the stroke, the Salt Lake Herald reported that Schettler was “under the care of an electrician, who says he is confident of restoring him.”83 Despite this optimism, Schettler struggled with recovery and relapse throughout the next ten years of his life. However, he continued in the office of treasurer.

In June 1875, the Deseret Silk Association was officially formed, and Schettler was elected treasurer. The main objective of the group was to distribute “information on the subject” of sericulture and “encourage the raising of cocoons and looming silk.”84 At the meetings of this group, Schettler expressed his expertise in the particulars of raising mulberry trees and silk worms. He also offered to teach anyone who was interested in pursuing sericulture.85 To Schettler, sericulture was more than a side occupation; he “felt that in the Manufacture of Silk we [were] helping build up the Kingdom of God.”86 After the Deseret Silk Association failed because of legal and financial instability, the Utah Silk Association was formed and incorporated on January 17, 1880.87 The objectives of the association were similar to those of the preceding organization. Again, Schettler was appointed to act as treasurer (fig. 3).88

In addition to deteriorating health, including several more strokes, Schettler suffered major heartache during the last decade of his life. On June 19, 1881, his wife Josephine died after a swimming accident in the Great Salt Lake.89 She was lauded as an “excellent wife” and was “highly respected by all.”90 Less than six months after Josephine’s death, Paul married Anna Margrete “Annie” Ballmer.91 Although little is known of their life together, they did have one son, August Frederick, born November 24, 1882. August died from marasmus in September 1883.92

Annie apparently made good use of the silk her husband produced. A Deseret News column praised her fine workmanship: “Mrs. Annie Schettler . . . has shown us an elegant silk parasol made by her own hands out of home-made silk, and a bonnet and dress of the same material. It is grey in color and flowered beautifully.”93 Annie’s sewing appears to have given her much needed relief from the daily attention and patience her invalid husband required.

In May 1884, Martha Hughes Cannon moved into the Schettler home to help take care of Paul in the final six months of his life. Martha, a plural wife of Angus M. Cannon, was an acclaimed physician and politician. It appears that Martha attended not only to Paul’s stricken condition but also to Annie’s emotional state. In a letter to her husband, Martha reflected on Annie’s trying times. Among other things, she mentioned that Paul had become “irritable & whimsical,” which had caused Annie to be short with him. However, Martha also noted that “no woman (as everyone knows who are acquainted with the matter) could do more than she did.”94

Paul August Schettler died on November 5, 1884, at the age of fifty-seven in Salt Lake City.95 The funeral service took place in the Salt Lake Twelfth Ward meetinghouse on November 11. Newspapers had been following Schettler’s health the last ten years of his life. His death was reported and a narration of his funeral services was printed by both the Salt Lake City Herald and the Deseret News, his funeral service making the front page of the Deseret News. Elder T. B. Lewis reportedly “testified to the reputation for honesty and integrity enjoyed by the deceased during the twenty years he had served the public in the capacity of City Treasurer.”96 Feramorz Little, who accompanied Schettler on the Palestine tour, praised “the deceased’s nobility of character, [his] honesty. . . [and] his good nature.” He had “never heard a remark from the deceased in any way calculated to wound the feelings of his fellows.”97

These fitting comments on the life and deeds of Paul August Schettler describe a man of great gifts with a willingness to assist others. Many held him and his abilities in the highest regard. Although seemingly only one of many obscure figures of early Utah history, Schettler stands apart because of his significant contributions as a Church, community, and business leader.

About the author(s)

Jacob W. Olmstead earned a B.A. in history from Brigham Young University. He will begin his graduate studies in American history in fall 2002 at Brigham Young University.

Fred E. Woods has been Associate Professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University since 1998. He received a B.A. in psychology in 1981, an M.A. in international relations with an emphasis in Near Eastern studies in 1985 from Brigham Young University, and a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern studies in 1991 from the University of Utah. In 1999, Professor Woods was the research fellow for the Mariner’s Museum, Newport News, Virginia. He was a research fellow at the University of Missouri–St. Louis in 2000–2001. He has authored several books and articles dealing with the Latter-day Saint gathering.


1. The Low Dutch mentioned by Schettler possibly refers to a dialect of Dutch spoken in the lowlands of Holland. In this list of languages, he omits the language of his native tongue, which was German.

2. Letter from Paul A. Schettler to Brigham Young, October 23, 1860, Brigham Young Collection, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City. All sources cited are in English unless indicated otherwise.

3. “A Visit to the Missions on the Continent Continued,” Millennial Star 24 (November 22, 1862): 744.

4. While traveling to Palestine in 1872 and 1873, Schettler mentioned that the group he was with took time to keep journals. See Eliza R. Snow, ed., Correspondence of Palestine Tourists; Comprising a Series of Letters by George A. Smith, Lorenzo Snow, Paul A. Schettler, and Eliza R. Snow, of Utah (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Steam Printing Establishment, 1875), 29, 146. However, Sandra Pitts, the family genealogist, who possesses all the known Schettler family records, was unaware of the existence of any journals kept by Paul A. Schettler. In addition, research at various libraries and archives in Utah was unprofitable in locating his journals.

5. These records were found after thorough research in L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; Special Collections, J. Willard Marriot Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City; Special Collections, Merrill Library, Utah State University, Logan, Utah; Church Archives; Family History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City; and the Utah State Archives, Salt Lake City. The sources used by the authors were obtained courtesy of Sandra Pitts.

6. Bernhard Herman Schettler, “History of the Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” typescript, 1, in authors’ possession, courtesy of Sandra Pitts. For further information on the establishment of Neuwied, see J. Taylor Hamilton and Kenneth G. Hamilton, History of the Moravian Church: The Renewed Unitas Fratrum, 1722–1957 (Winston-Salem, N.C.: Interprovincial Board of Christian Education, 1967), 105–6. In German, see Raymond S. Wright, Meyers: Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs, 2 vols. (1912; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2000), 2:305–6.

7. Paul Schettler was a twin to a stillborn brother. Schettler family genealogical data under “Paul August Schettler,” compiled by Sandra Pitts, in authors’ possession.

8. Bernhard Schettler, “Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” 1.

9. Bernhard’s autobiography, the only known source of information on Paul’s childhood, lacks Paul’s perspective on growing up without his natural mother. Bernhard H. Schettler wrote his autobiography while he was in the Utah State Penitentiary for three months in 1888, having been sentenced by Judge Zane for breaking the Edmunds Act. Bernhard Schettler, “Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” 56.

10. Schettler family genealogical data, under “Friedrich August Schettler,” compiled by Sandra Pitts, in authors’ possession.

11. Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah, 4 vols. (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon and Sons, 1904), 4:309.

12. For more information on the schools in Neuwied, see Hamilton and Hamilton, History of the Moravian Church, 114, 181, 190, 359.

13. Bernhard Schettler, “Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” 6.

14. Mircea Eliade, ed. The Encyclopedia of Religion, 16 vols. (New York: Macmillian, 1987), 10:106.

15. Hamilton and Hamilton, History of the Moravian Church, 119.

16. Bernhard Schettler, “Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” 30.

17. Gnadan, or Gnadau, in Silesia, was settled by the Moravians in 1765. At the time of Schettler’s apprenticeship, it was part of Prussia. See Hamilton and Hamilton, History of the Moravian Church, 190; and Wright, Meyers, 1:582.

18. Bernhard Schettler, “Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” 9. Bernhard fulfilled his apprenticeship in Neuwied. Bernhard Schettler, “Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” 16.

19. Bernhard Schettler, “Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” 16.

20. Bernhard Schettler, “Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” 16.

21. Bernhard Schettler, “Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” 17–18.

22. Like Gnadan, Gnadenfeld was settled by the Moravians in the late eighteenth century. At the time of Schettler’s employment, it was part of Prussia. Both towns had Moravian seminaries, schools, and missionary programs that Schettler may have been involved in. This may be why he was sent to these towns.

23. Bernhard Schettler, “Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” 32. The exodus of the Schettler family to the United States was part of a larger emigration of Moravians from Europe in the mid-nineteenth century. Eliade, Encyclopedia of Religion, 10:107.

24. Bernhard Schettler, “Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” 33.

25. Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4 vols. (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History, 1901–36), 4:357; Davis Bitton, George Q. Cannon: A Biography (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1999), 93–101.

26. Bernhard Schettler, “Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” 34.

27. Bernhard Schettler, “Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” 35; Journal History of the Church, August 28, 1860, citing Deseret News of September 5, 1860, Church Archives, microfilm copy in the Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

28. Manuscript History of the Netherlands Mission, 1861, Church Archives, hereafter referred to as Netherlands Manuscript.

29. Seventeenth Ward Record of Members Collection, 1836–1970, Church Archives, page 15, line 557. “Record of members index,” Church Archives, compiled by Minnie Margetts, points out that the N. Davis who performed these ordinances was Nathan Davis. Jenson, Biographical Encyclopedia, 1:647–48 notes that Davis served as first counselor from 1856–61, until he was called to replace Thomas Callister as bishop of the Seventeenth Ward on December 15, 1861. Bernhard was also at this time a member of the Seventeenth Ward, having been rebaptized and confirmed by Nathan Davis on October 19, 1861. See Seventeenth Ward Record of Members, page 17, line 619, and “Record of members index,” as noted above.

30. Keith C. Warner, “History of the Netherlands Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1861–1966” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1967), 11. Anne Wiegers van der Woude anglicized his surname to Vanderwood sometime after 1863. Jenson, Biographical Encyclopedia, 4:358.

31. Bernhard Schettler, “Life of Bernhard Herman Schettler,” 42.

32. Netherlands Manuscript, 1861.

33. Joseph Smith Jr., The History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2d ed., rev., 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971), 4:495.

34. Zeist was settled by Moravians in the mid-eighteenth century. During 1872, Schettler and George A. Smith visited Schettler’s relatives in Zeist. Smith wrote of Schettler’s family, “Although they came from Germany, they have lived in Holland until they are thoroughly Dutch.” Snow, Correspondence of Palestine Tourists, 51–52. For more on Zeist, see Wright, Meyers, 2:1219.

35. “News From Holland,” Millennial Star 23 (September 21, 1861): 614.

36. “News From Holland,” 614.

37. Schettler’s relatives in the community of Zeist apparently spoke both German and Dutch because of their German heritage and the close proximity of Zeist to German-speaking nations. Interestingly, Schettler translated these early tracts into German, his native language, rather than into Dutch. Perhaps he lacked practice or confidence in his capabilities in the Dutch language or because the families in the area read German better than Dutch. However, a month or two later he apparently began to translate the Book of Mormon and other tracts into Dutch.

38. “News from Holland,” 822.

39. Warner, “History of the Netherlands Mission,” 14. For similar opposition in other parts of Europe, see also Manuscript History of the Swiss, Italian, and German Mission, September 29, 1862, Church Archives; George A. Smith to Brigham Young, May 24 , 1873, Brigham Young Collection, Church Archives.

40. A. W. van der Woude and Paul A. Schettler, “Holland,” Millennial Star 23 (November 23, 1861): 759–60. For an interesting account of the first Mormons baptized in the Netherlands, see T. Edgar Lyon, “Landmarks in the Netherlands Mission,” Improvement Era 39 (September 1936): 546–47, 573.

41. Netherlands Manuscript, 1861; January 29, 1862; February 1, 1862; May 10, 1862.

42. Jenson, Biographical Encyclopedia, 4:357.

43. “He commenced the work of translation on September 24th, 1861, and finished July 19th 1862; This translation has never been published, and the manuscript is understood to be now in Holland.” “History of the Book of Mormon,” Contributor 5 (September 1884): 443. The Netherlands Manuscript, September 24, 1862, explains the apparent controversy concerning why the translation was not used for publication: “The first Dutch edition of this sacred volume appeared in the year 1890, twenty-eight years later [after Schettler’s translation], and then Elder John W. F. Volker’s translation was used, and not Elder Schettler’s. Elder Schettler’s translation if he completed his undertaking apparently got lost in this long interval, or else, perhaps, his work was not considered to have enough merit to allow it to appear in print. As Elder Schettler was not a native Hollander there is much in favor of the latter viewpoint, as it is very doubtful that a foreigner in his first year in Holland could have rendered a meritorious translation of such a ponderous work as the Book of Mormon.”

44. Jenson, Biographical Encyclopedia, 4:358. Van der Woude’s journal, written in Dutch, is housed in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections.

45. Lawrence R. Flake, George Q. Cannon: The Missionary Years (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1998), 176–77.

46. “A Visit to the Missions on the Continent Continued,” Millennial Star 24 (November 22, 1862): 744.

47. Dale Z. Kirby, “History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Switzerland” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1971), 78.

48. There is evidence that Cannon sided with Schettler versus van der Woude. In a letter to Brigham Young dated November 1863, Cannon wrote: “I really wish there was a trustworthy Elder who could speak Holland Dutch here or that Bro. Schettler were beginning his mission instead of being so near the end, as I think great good could be done in that country at present. Enclosed I forward you a letter received from Bro. Schettler last summer. It explains itself, and shows the character of the man who has been laboring in Holland” (George Q. Cannon to Brigham Young, November 6, 1863, Brigham Young Collection, Church Archives).

49. “Visit to the Missions on the Continent Continued,” 747.

50. Swiss, Italian, and German Mission Manuscript, November 19, 1862.

51. Swiss, Italian, and German Mission Manuscript, June 30, 1863, notes that the branches were Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchatel, Zurich, Thun, Landschlacht, Herisau, Toggenburg, Basel, St. Imier, Carlsruhe, Aichelberg, St. Germain, and Amsterdam.

52. Netherlands Manuscript, June 10, 1863; “Holland’s Contribution to Utah,” in Heart Throbs of the West, comp. Kate B. Carter, 12 vols. (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1939–1950), 4:278–79; Swiss, Italian, and German Mission Manuscript, August 24, 1863.

53. Swiss, Italian, and German Mission Manuscript, October 24, 1862.

54. Swiss, Italian, and German Mission Manuscript, December 21, 1863.

55. Swiss, Italian, and German Mission Manuscript, February 28, 1864.

56. Kirby, “Latter-day Saints in Switzerland,” 40.

57. Swiss, Italian, and German Mission Manuscript, October 6, 1863; George Q. Cannon to Brigham Young, November 6, 1863.

58. W. W. Ritter, “Swiss, Italian and German Mission,” Millennial Star 26 (April 2, 1864): 223.

59. “Departures,” Millennial Star 26 (April 7, 1864): 235.

60. Journal History, October 26, 1864, 3–9, Church Archives, microfilm copy in Harold B. Lee Library. Schettler is mentioned in a number of accounts of this journey. The William Hyde Company, 350 members with 62 wagons, arrived in Salt Lake City October 30, 1864. Craig S. Smith, “Joseph W. Young and the Mormon Emigration of 1864,” BYU Studies 39, no. 1 (2000): 41, 43.

61. “At Rest,” Deseret News, November 5, 1884, 668. Schettler’s obituary notes that he began his duties as the treasurer of Salt Lake City in September 1864. However, the William Hyde Company, in which he served as clerk, did not arrive in Salt Lake City until October 30, 1864.

62. Carter, “Silk Industry in Utah,” in Heart Throbs of the West, 11:55. In 1865, Brigham Young launched the silk industry in Utah, aimed at helping Zion in her desire for financial independence. Members were encouraged to take part in growing silk worms and mulberry trees. As sponsor of the silk program, President Young endorsed a series of lectures on the topic of sericulture at the School of the Prophets, a theological class for Mormon elites. By April 1868, the responsibility had been laid on the Relief Society. See Chris Rigby Arrington, “The Finest of Fabrics: Mormon Women and the Silk Industry in Early Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly 46, no. 4 (1978): 379, 382.

63. Today, a monument placed by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers marks the sight of Schettler’s mulberry farm.

64. Margaret Schow Potter, “The History of Sericulture in Utah” (master’s thesis, Oregon State University, 1949), 24; Deseret Silk Association Minutes, June 1875–October 1878, February 7, 1876, 23, microfilm, Church Archives; Louis A. Bertrand, “Sericulture: A Visit to President Young’s Cocoonery,” Salt Lake Herald, June 25, 1872, 2.

65. “Centennial Events and Territorial Activities,” in Our Pioneer Heritage, comp. Kate B. Carter, 20 vols. (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958–77), 20:5.

66. Whitney, History of Utah, 2:384–85.

67. Wilma B. N. Tilby, “Jakob Brand’s Register of Dutchtown, Utah’s Lost German Mining Colony,” Utah Historical Quarterly 62, no. 1 (1994): 56.

68. “Old Salt Lakers,” Deseret News 52 (September 20, 1902): 11.

69. Donald Q. Cannon, “Angus M. Cannon: Frustrated Mormon Miner,” Utah Historical Quarterly 57, no. 1 (winter 1989): 37–38.

70. Jenson, Biographical Encyclopedia, 4:357; Whitney, History of Utah, 4:309.

71. B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Century One, 6 vols. (Provo, Utah: Corporation of the President, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1965), 5:474, quoting George Albert Smith. A copy of the letter dated October 15, 1872, at Salt Lake City can be found in Eliza R. Snow Smith, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow: One of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1884; reprint, Salt Lake City: Zion’s Book Store, 1975), 496–97.

72. For accounts of the Palestine tourists visiting silk production establishments, see Snow, Correspondence of Palestine Tourists, 88, 90–91, 97, 149.

73. Snow, Correspondence of Palestine Tourists, 168–69, 177.

74. Snow, Correspondence of Palestine Tourists, 182–83.

75. Snow, Correspondence of Palestine Tourists, 224.

76. George A. Smith, in Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1855–86), 16:101, June 22, 1873.

77. Eliza R. Snow to Brigham Young, January 3, 1873, Brigham Young Incoming Correspondence 1839–77, Church Archives.

78. “Last Offices,” Deseret News, November 12, 1884, 673.

79. Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830–1890 (1958; reprint, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1993), 323–33.

80. Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Utah, 1540–1886 (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1964), 359–63.

81. “A New Savings Bank,” Deseret Weekly News, August 27, 1843, 473.

82. “At Rest,” 668.

83. “Struck with Paralysis,” Salt Lake Herald, July 10, 1874, 3. Schettler may have been receiving electric shock treatment for his paralysis.

84. C. Arrington, “The Finest of Fabrics,” 387.

85. Deseret Silk Association Minutes, March 6, 1876, 27.

86. Deseret Silk Association Minutes, August 3, 1876, 57.

87. C. Arrington, “The Finest of Fabrics,” 391.

88. Bancroft, Utah, 726–27.

89. Josephine Schettler died on June 19, 1881. The official cause of death was listed as strangulation. Salt Lake City, Utah, Death Records book index, 1848 to 1884, no. 10161, 255.

90. Sad Event,” Deseret News, June 22, 1881, 329.

91. Schettler family genealogical data, under “Paul August Schettler,” compiled by Sandra Pitts, in authors’ possession.

92. Salt Lake City, Utah, Death Records book index, 1848 to 1884, no. 11614, 291. Occurring especially in young children, marasmus causes emaciation because of malnutrition due chiefly to faulty assimilation of food.

93. “Home Silk Goods,” Deseret News, May 14, 1884, 265.

94. Who Are Coming and Going,” The Salt Lake Daily Herald, May 30, 1884, 8; Constance L. Lieber and Jon Sillito, eds., Letters from Exile: The Correspondence of Martha Hughes Cannon and Angus M. Cannon, 1886–1888 (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), 60.

95. “At Rest,” 668.

96. “Last Offices,” Deseret News, November 12, 1884, 673.

97. “Last Offices,” 673.

Share This Article With Someone