Most of our histories about Mormons in Missouri speak of dramatic events in the 1830s in the western region of the state. Congratulations to Fred Woods and Thomas Farmer for writing a history of the Latter-day Saints in St. Louis. Woods, a professor of Church History and Doctrine at BYU, and Farmer, a lifetime St. Louis resident, wrote of the LDS presence in St. Louis beginning with early missionaries in 1831 and ending with the St. Louis Stake jubilee in 2008. This book is essential reading for scholars of Mormonism seeking to understand the experience of the Latter-day Saints in St. Louis.
By using a chronological, encyclopedic approach, the authors tell of St. Louis being more than a trailhead for Latter-day Saints. They explain that the town was a refuge for Saints fleeing from Governor Boggs’s extermination order. They tell of fundraising meetings held by St. Louis citizens to aid Mormon exiles seeking relief from persecution. They describe the experience of LDS British converts in St. Louis on their twelve-day trip from New Orleans to Nauvoo. The authors include information about three to four thousand Latter-day Saints who made St. Louis their home by 1849 and of the first St. Louis Stake organized with Elder Erastus Snow presiding in 1854. They write of Snow and his successors publishing the St. Louis Luminary (November 22, 1854, to December 18, 1855) in an effort to keep the Saints informed of local news and emigration plans.
Woods and Farmer relate many instances of a Church presence in the city throughout the remaining nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The authors tell of Brigham Young sending missionaries in 1866 to reestablish the St. Louis District and reorganize a St. Louis Branch. They write of the St. Louis World’s Fair and of LDS officials featuring Utah in their displays. They describe in detail the creation of the St. Louis Stake in 1958 and the St. Louis Temple dedication in 1997. Another valuable contribution of this work is an alphabetical index of early Latter-day Saints in St. Louis.