Monday, July 11, 2011

Book Review: Prelude to the Kingdom.

In terms of my research for Isaac's history, This book provides some important insights.  It has a very good couple of chapters on the handcart experience.  However more important is it explores the lifestyle of the Saints after they arrived in the West.  It talks of communal living, such as making canals as a community to supply water for irrigating.  It also talks of how the water was shared.
I was able to purchase this book for a reasonable price online.  It is in the references of the "Handcarts to Zion" book. It is probably the best book with regards to talking about the Perpetual Emigration Fund.  It has a sample of the form Isaac would have signed.
This book is about the Mormon emigration and economic systems from the beginnings of the church up to the 1940s.  It was published in 1947 by Marshall Jones Company.  It was written by Gustav Larsen.  There are a couple concepts form this book which I find very interesting.
First it talks about the Nauvoo Covenant.  A group of priesthood holder met in the Nauvoo Temple, during that troublesome time after the Prophet Joseph had been murdered, and before the forced exile form Nauvoo.  They made a commitment to make sure the poor Saints would have the means to travel with the body of the church.  This covenant was the back bone of the Perpetual Emigration Fund.
This book is probably the best in talking about the Perpetual Emigration Fund, what it is and what it did.  It assisted over 100,000 people in immigrating to Utah.  It also became the emigrating arm of the church, so it assisted not only those who used the fund, but also all who were emigrating by supplying organization to the immigration in general.  
This book not only talks about the immigration, but also what the Saints did after arriving.  How their communal systems allowed an irrigation agricultural economy to work. It was an economy with limited water and limited arable land.    It told the story of economic missions such as the iron mission and the cotton mission.  It also included establishing in San Bernadino.  It talked about agriculture and the development of the irrigation system, as well as of the sugar beet industry.  One interesting thing it mentioned, which I had never thought about, was that the first alfalfa seed brought to America was done so by a Mormon convert from Australia.  It was first planted in the San Bernadino area.  I have always thought of alfalfa as having always been here.  It never occurred to me that there may have been a time when it wasn’t.  This story is not exactly corroborated by Wikipedia.  “The English name "alfalfa" dates from mid-19th century far-west USA, from the Spanish. Alfalfa seeds were imported to California from Chile in the 1850s. That was the beginning of a rapid and extensive introduction of the crop over the western US States.”  Wikipedia mentions that alfalfa was tried in the Eastern U.S., but never very successfully.  The spread of alfalfa took place in the West. 
The book ends with talking about the church welfare system.  It points out certain characteristics of the Mormon lifestyle, which allowed it to flourish in the desert.

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