The Saint and the Grave Robber

Converted in the Australian goldfields, Frederick William Hurst and John de Baptiste became mining partners and fellow emigrants. But in Utah their paths made a Jekyll-and-Hyde split. The colony of Victoria, Australia, produced one-third of the world’s gold found in the 1850s; as a result, every imaginable type of person converged on the area. This assemblage, coupled with England’s earlier “social amputation” of its worst souls to what was then a place of perpetual exile, transformed the world’s largest island into what Robert Hughes in his classic book, The Fatal Shore, termed a “wicked Noah’s Ark” of small-time criminality. Amid this upheaval, missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ventured into the goldfields in an ambitious attempt to gain a foothold in an area where supposedly “rum and gold was all the God” the people wanted.

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