If today’s Latter-day Saint expects that Aaronic Priesthood work a century ago was basically the same as it is today, he will be surprised and confused when he examines records of the lesser priesthood in the Church’s first decades in Utah.
Those fading documents, often rich in detail, produce as many hard questions about priesthood operations as they do ready answers. In the records, for example, are references to deacons with temple endowments, and teachers quorums composed of adults, not boys. We read of bishops preventing priests from the local stake priests quorum from working in their wards, and of a set of deacons, teachers, and priests presidencies sustained at general conferences as “General Authorities.” Teachers quorums served as courts to try recalcitrant individuals for their Church memberships. There are also frequent statements that the lesser priesthood quorums have more importance in gathered Zion than do the Melchizedek quorums.