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Question

 

Dear Gramps,

Is what I have heard so many times true that in the last days Salt Lake City will become a great and abominable city, and that blood will flow down the gutters? If so where is this found?

GS

 

Answer

 

Dear GS,

Salt Lake City was spoken of as a wicked city as early at 1865. Heber C. Kimball, in the Journal of Discourses, Vol.11, p.82 – p.83, had this to say on the subject-

I do not say but that you are just as good men and women in this place as in any other place in the mountains; yea, I admit that the people are better in the country towns than in Great Salt Lake City, for the froth and scum of hell seem to concentrate there, and those who live in the City have to come in contact with it; and with persons who mingle with robbers, and liars, and thieves, and with whores and whore-masters, etc. Such wicked men will also introduce themselves into Davis County, and among all the settlements throughout these mountains; but where the people are truly righteous and just, wicked men can do them no harm; were the people all righteous who profess to be Latter-day Saints, they would constantly be on their watch against the encroachment of a wicked power. The wicked and corrupt who have settled in our community are taking a course to lead away those who are willing to be led away from the truth–those who have turned away from God; and it will be for our good, as a community, if such persons will leave and never again return to our Territory, unless they can do so with a determination to serve God and keep his commandments. I love those who love God; they are more precious to me than gold, and silver, or possessions.

This excerpt by Joseph F. Smith in 1870,

Instead of raising themselves to the standard of the Gospel, they are content to descend to the level of the wicked and corrupt. Many of the Elders of Israel who have responsibilities resting upon them, with which they will find they cannot trifle with impunity, are taking this course all the time. What wonder, then, that the Spirit of the Lord is grieved? What wonder that the Latter-day Saints need to be preached to continually? It is no wonder to me when I contemplate the condition of the people of these valleys, and especially Salt Lake City, Ogden, and our cities contiguous to the railways (Journal of Discourses, Vol.13, p.339 – p.340).

Here are the words of J. Golden Kimball, in a conference address in 1930,quoting the words of his father spoken in 1868,

I claim not to be a prophet, but I am a son of a prophet, and I expect to give you evidence-whether you question the truth of it or not-that shall be left with you-that Heber C. Kimball was a prophet of God. President Brigham Young on more than one occasion said: ‘Heber is my prophet, and I love to hear him prophesy.’ In May, 1868-that is sixty-two years ago–he said: ‘After a while the gentiles will gather in Salt Lake City by the thousands, and this will be among the wicked cities of the world.”

The account of blood flowing down the gutters of Salt Lake is rather apocryphal, and is probably a good example of how statements of the bizarre get quickly blown out of shape. The following account of this topic, by William A. Wilson, is found in BYU Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1, p.44.

Another example of the shifting shape of folklore lies closer to home. Most of us will remember the turbulent period in late 1969 and early 1970 when BYU athletic teams and the marching Cougarettes met violent demonstrations in neighboring schools, when a spate of stories was circulating about bus loads of Black Panthers making their way to the state to blow up Mountain Dell Reservoir and to invade Temple Square, and when some people feared to travel beyond the state’s boundaries because they had heard gory stories of people with Utah license plates being stopped and beaten up by blacks. Emotions were intensified by the revival and rapid circulation of the apocryphal Horse Shoe Prophecy attributed to John Taylor. (This prophecy was first written down in 1951 by Edward Lunt, who said that in 1903 or 1904 he had learned it from his mother, who said that she had received it from President Taylor in 1885). In Lunt’s account, President Taylor supposedly saw a day of great trouble and warfare striking the Saints, with ‘blood running down the gutters of Salt Lake City as though it were water.’ As versions of the Prophecy began to multiply during the violence of 1969 and 1970, a new motif was added to it-the notion that the blood would run in the gutters because of racial warfare. For example, an employee of Seminaries and Institutes stated that it was common knowledge among teachers in the Church educational system that a confrontation with Black Panthers was going to take place in the streets of Salt Lake City and that this would be a fulfillment of the prophecy that Blacks would wreak havoc in the streets of Zion. He said that this prophecy was given to President Taylor. It was common knowledge from reliable sources [he said] that Blacks and hippies were arming themselves in the canyons east of the city and that the FBI had uncovered plans by revolutionaries to hit Salt Lake City with a violence campaign.

Gramps

 

 

 

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