Adapted from the LDS Biographical Encyclopedia.
Francis Marion Lyman became a member of the Council
of Twelve Apostles in 1880. He was the eldest son of Amasa
M. Lyman and Louisa Maria Tanner, and was born Jan. 12, 1840, in the
town of Goodhope, McDonough county, Illinois. In the spring, following,
the family removed into Iowa; thence to Nauvoo, Ill., in the spring of
1841, and later, in 1843, to Alquina, Fayette county, Indiana, returning
to Nauvoo after the martyrdom of the Prophet and Patriarch, in 1844.
His father had gone west with the first companies
of exiles from Nauvoo, and it was not until June, 1846, that he, with his
mother and three other children, all in care of his grandfather, John Tanner,
left for the rendezvous of the Saints at Winter Quarters on the Missouri
river. On the first day of July, 1848, he was baptized in the Elkhorn river
by his father, who also confirmed him. He was only a lad of eight years,
but on the journey to the mountains that summer, he drove a yoke of cattle
and a wagon, arriving in Great Salt Lake Valley Oct. 19, 1848.
Here he spent the next three years in such vocations
and sports as were the lot of the children of the pioneers. He was given
what opportunities there were for education during this time, which added
slightly to the store of meager information already obtained in Winter
Quarters. His father, with Elder Charles
C. Rich, purchased a ranch in San Bernardino, Cal., which was intended
as a temporary home as well as an outfitting point for the gathering Saints;
and so, in 1851, with the family, he migrated there, doing a man's duty
in driving loose stock the whole distance from Utah. From this time on,
for several years, he was employed principally in handling animals and
in freighting between Utah and California making during these years sixteen
trips over the deserts between the two places. He attended school in San
Bernardino during the winter months, and also found time to work some eighteen
months at the joiner's trade with Thomas W. Whitaker.
He witnessed the laying of the corner stone of the
Salt Lake Temple, in April, 1853. It was decided in the spring of 1857
that he should go on a mission to Great Britain, but the Buchanan war prevented this endeavor.
He reached Salt Lake on his way, but was then delegated to return to the
coast and move his father's family to the Valley, all the missionaries
as well as the colony in California being called to Utah. The mission,
however, was filled three years later, at which date, 1860, his active
public life may be said to have had its beginning, although previous to
this time he had been ordained an Elder by his father in California (1856);
had accompanied his father's exploring party to Colorado (1858); had been
ordained a Seventy by John S. Gleason (Jan. 7, 1860), in Farmington, where
he removed to till his father's farm in 1859; and was president of the
Young Men's Literary Association of Farmington, in the first winter months
Previous to his departure for England, he built a
log room in Beaver, whither he removed his wife, Rhoda Ann Taylor, to whom
he was married November 18, 1857, and his one child. On his way east he
visited Kirtland, Ohio, and was shown through the Temple by Martin Harris.
He left New York on the steamer "Edinburgh" and landed in Liverpool July
27, 1860. His record up to that time was truly astonishing. He was frontiersman
at birth and baby-hood; pioneer, teamster, and bull-whacker at eight; herdsman
and cowboy at eleven; learning a trade at thirteen; plowing the trackless
deserts as a leader and captain at sixteen; married at seventeen; exploring
the wilds of Colorado at eighteen; a Seventy and a missionary at twenty;
with farming, attending school, presiding over improvement associations,
building the log cabin of the pioneer, as incidents thrown here and there
His missionary labors in Europe were prosecuted with
vigor. In the course of a couple of years he was released, and, with a
company of more than eight hundred emigrants, he sailed for America in
the ship "Wm. Tapscott," arriving in New York June 25, 1862, after forty-two
tedious days on the ocean. He was appointed second counselor in the presidency
of the company, but two weeks out, he was compelled to take entire charge.
He was put in charge of the company in New York, and took them safely to
Florence, where they arrived early in July. Two months were spent there
and on the road, and it was not until the middle of October that he arrived
at his humble log cabin in Beaver, after an absence of about two years
and a half.
In March of the following year, he was asked by Pres.
Brigham Young to settle in Fillmore, Millard
county, which was once intended to be the capital of the Territory. He
removed thither, and from that time on for more than fourteen years, until
June, 1877, he became a leader in political, church, business and manufacturing
enterprises of that county. Only a few of the more important of these can
be named: he was assistant assessor of United States internal revenue;
lieutenant-colonel of the first regiment of militia in the Pauvan District
at the age of twenty-five years; member of the House of the General Assembly
of the State of Deseret; a member of the 17th, 18th, 22nd and 23rd sessions
of the Territorial legislature; county clerk and recorder; superintendent
of schools and prosecuting attorney.
When the Stake was organized, March 9, 1869, he was
ordained a High Priest and was later set apart as a High Councilor; with
his father, he built, owned, and operated the O. K. Flouring Mills, engaging
in the flour and grain trade and other enterprises, being also secretary
and treasurer of the county co-operative companies; doing also the most
of the business in connection with the land entries, pre-emptions, homesteads
and townsites in that county.
It was while residing here that he received to wife,
October 4, 1869, Clara Caroline Callister. His second mission to England
was also taken while his home was in Millard county. He left Salt Lake
City Oct. 20, 1873, and arrived in Liverpool on the 12th day of November.
While on this mission, in addition to his labors in England, he made tours
of Wales, Scotland, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and France. With a company
of three hundred Saints he returned, arriving in New York Sept. 26th, and
at his home in Fillmore Oct. 11, 1875. In 1877, after having attended to
the dedication of the St. George Temple, in April, he was called to preside
over the Tooele Stake, which was organized June 24, 1877.
From this time on for three years, his name stands
at the head of the affairs of that Stake and county, religiously and politically.
In August of the year following he was elected county recorder, and also
representative to the legislature from Tooele county. The Liberal party
had held control in that county since 1874, but in 1878, the legislature
passed an act providing for the registration of voters, which was a death
blow to the so-called "Tooele Republic," and to the methods which had enabled
the Liberals to retain control so long. By corrupt means, a small minority
had conspired to control the county, and in doing so had spent in four
years the revenue of five, a balance of $5,000, and left the county in
debt $16,000 in addition. In the August election, all the People's party
candidates were elected, but the Liberal officers refused to count the
votes at first, and then by a system of technicalities at length declared
the People's party candidates not elected, although their majority averaged
over three hundred votes.
It was then that the fighting qualities of the new
legislator, Hon. Francis M. Lyman, manifested themselves: a notice of contest
was promptly given, and proceedings were taken before the district court
to compel an honest count. It was not until the 29th of March of the year
following, on peremptory order of the court, the case then having been
to the supreme court, that the officers in charge declared the correct
result of the election, which gave the offices to the People's candidates,
who filed their bonds and entered upon their duties. As he has always been,
so in this instance, he became a terror to the wrong-doer.
In August, 1880, Elder Lyman with a company made
a tour of southern Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, and while away on this
mission he was chosen one of the Twelve Apostles, at the general conference,
Oct. 10, 1880. He was ordained on the 27th day of that month by President
John Taylor. From that time on he was completely
devoted to Church work. His travels embraced nearly every city, town and
village in the West, where there was a Church organization. He was a familiar
figure in the conferences of the Saints. He kept a minute daily record
of his travels, and his journals, which embraced the whole history of his
life, were frequently consulted for important data relating to individuals
and the Church.
By common consent he was the keeper of the genealogical
records of his father's family, and as such carefully entered every important
item relating to marriages, births and deaths therein, having a prepared
blank for the needed information. In this respect, he was an example which
some one person in all other families, large or small, would do well to
emulate. His extensive and continuous labors stamped him as one of the
energetic men of the Church, a minute man in very deed. In the early part
of 1883 Apostle Lyman filled an Indian mission to which he had been called
by Pres. John Taylor Nov. 17th, the year previous. On May 5th and 6th,
he attended the Wasatch Stake conference in Heber City, where he made the
necessary preparations for the journey eastward to the Utes in Uintah.
The company camped in Strawberry valley, where they were joined by others
from Sanpete who had been compelled to leave their supplies in their wagon
on the top of a mountain in four feet of snow. As a guard, they had left
Indian Nephi by the wagon. Strong efforts were made to get the goods, and
while this work was being done, the company remained on Currant creek.
While thus encamped, Apostle Lyman took his gun one
day, and went to a mountain some two miles distant. When this mission had
been assigned to him, Pres. Taylor had not given any definite instructions
as to how the work was to be accomplished, and the method to be pursued
was not clear to Brother Lyman. He had also asked Pres. Woodruff of the
Council of the Twelve how to proceed, but had not received any detailed
counsel that left his mind free from doubt as to the right course. He had
been told that he was personally entitled to a knowledge of the work and
the spirit of his mission. Should he go right in among the Indians, or
should he ask permission of the agents? In the latter course, he ran the
risk of being refused, thus leaving his work unaccomplished, as was the
case with others who had asked permission to preach to the Indians in other
missions. Arriving at the mountain, these thoughts were employing his mind,
when a sudden impulse caused him to ascend the hill, which towered a thousand
feet above the table land in the vicinity. On arriving at the top, he found
a large, flat stone which he stood upon.
He then took off his hat, his face turned to the
east towards the field of his labors, fell upon his knees, and poured out
his soul in prayer to God. "I went before the Lord," he says, "and told
Him all about my troubles; how everything seemed against us; how little
I knew about the work; how I had learned that the agents at Uintah and
Ouray were bitterly opposed to the Mormons and their doctrines; and then
asked for the successful opening of the mission to the Lamanites in that
region, and that God might guide me aright, and soften the hearts of the
agents with favor towards us and our cause." Just as he kneeled to prayer,
the atmosphere having been perfectly quiet up to that moment, a wind began
blowing, which continued to grow stronger as he continued his prayer, until
at the close of the half hour in which he was engaged, it blew with the
velocity of a tempest, so that he could scarcely remain in his position.
When he finished praying, the wind as suddenly abated as it had begun,
and he retraced his steps to camp. He felt convinced that to go right on
with his mission, visit the agents and the Indians and preach to them was
the right thing to do.
This ability to receive impressions of approbation
in his work, when he was doing right, was strongly developed in Apostle
Lyman. In many of the important steps of his life, he was approved through
dreams and inspirations, and even visits of men of God who have gone before.
It has been thus made perfectly clear to him that his course is approved
and his actions upheld. These visits and inspirations have been a source
of great comfort to him.
On the 11th of May, he engaged with the men in lassoing
some wild horses that had been brought into camp. He was an expert at this
business, and could lay the rope around the front feet of the animals to
perfection, often taking ten in a stretch without a miss. On the morning
of the 12th, the camp was up early, and it appeared that all the difficulties
which had so far surrounded them were at length overcome.
He was sitting on a camp stool just before breakfast
and reached over to pick up some object, when he was suddenly seized with
the most excruciating pain that could be imagined in his left side—it was
a threatened rupture. It was so severe and agonizing that all hopes of
his recovery were given up. Everything that could be done was done to relieve
him, but all to no avail. They had no medicines of any kind: and one of
the brethren proffered to send fifty miles away for a doctor, but Brother
Lyman forbade him, saying that he could not last till the arrival of a
physician. It was suggested that he be taken back, but it was impossible
to move him, the pain was so tormenting. For two hours he remained in such
terrible agony that the cold sweat stood out in great beads upon his face.
During this time he says that every good act of his life passed before
him, and strange to say not an evil thing that he had done came to his
mind—nothing but good. He saw himself carried home dead, and beheld the
consternation of his family at his death, and what had overtaken him.
During all this time, strange to say, neither he
nor his companions, although they had done every other thing to alleviate
his sufferings, had once thought of the ordinance of administration. At
the close of that time, one of the Brethren suggested administering to
him, which was accordingly done. No sooner were the hands of his brethren
lifted from his head than the pain left as suddenly as it had come. He
became perfectly free, and had thus been healed by the power of God by
the laying on of hands by the Elders. He fell into a sweet sleep, and in
a comparatively short time was able to proceed on the journey.
Up to this time, Satan seemed determined that the
mission should not be opened up. But from this time on, the trouble was
over, the way was clear, everything was favorable, and it seemed that every
obstacle was removed without hands. Arriving among the Indians, the missionaries
were received with marked kindness by both the Lamanites and by the agents,
J. J. Critchlow, of Uintah, and J. F. Minness of Ouray. Everybody attended
the meetings. The gospel and the Book of Mormon were freely taught by Elder
Lyman and his brethren, and by Elder Nephi who was surnamed Lehi by Elder
Lyman. Chief Tabby also preached, together with many others of the chief
Utes who were firm Latter-day Saints. They bore powerful and fearless testimonies.
Missionaries were selected, sustained and set apart at a conference held
in Ashley on the 19th and 20th of May, and were called to continue their
labors, which they did with much spirit. They were: Jeremiah Hatch, Israel
Clark, Jeremiah Hatch, jr., Thomas Karren, George Glines, and Thomas Bingham,
Jr. The Indians were largely converted and baptized, and both chiefs and
laymen rejoiced in the word of God.
Temporal good was also accomplished. The missionaries
found an old chief who was more interested in temporal than in spiritual
affairs. He had arranged a canal straight up the banks of the river to
his land, and was waiting for the water to mount into it to irrigate his
possessions. The missionaries remonstrated with him, saying that water
would not run up hill. He insisted, however, in a surly manner, that the
"Mormons" made it run up hill. It was explained to him that it was only
appearances that seemed to him so, and that water ran only down hill. They
told him how it could be done, whereupon he wished them to do the work.
They asked permission from the agent to build a canal to water the possessions
of the old chief, which was gladly granted. The six missionaries set to
work upon their task. They obtained plows, scrapers, and horses, and in
the course of ten days had a canal ready which proved a great success in
watering the possessions of the elated chief. For this useful labor, the
missionaries were afterwards allowed $1,000, which was paid them by Agent
Minness, and which they divided among them, thus receiving both temporal
and spiritual blessings.
Apostle Lyman returned to Provo from his successful
mission May 28, 1883. Francis Marion Lyman was one of the most active workers
in the Church. His position as a member of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles,
as a member of the Sunday School Union Board and the General Board of Young
Men's Mutual Improvement Associations, brought him in direct contact with
the people, young and old, in the organized Stakes of Zion. His nature
permitted no offered opportunity to pass unimproved, to associate and counsel
with the community. He had particular ability in the line of counselor
among the Saints. His bearing and conduct impressed the people favorably,
and they often listened to him when men of less genius in these lines would
He had a remarkable capacity for saying unpleasant
things in a very acceptable way, and, further, he possessed a special gift
of reconciliation. Brother Lyman exemplified perfectly the seventh beatitude:
"Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of
God." He was naturally an adjuster of difficulties, and hence, in very
deed, a child of God. He took his own methods, however, in the accomplishment
of his ends of peace. He did not always use mild words and pleasant persuasion.
He was a fighter, if needs be; but his skirmishes were onduted under the
inspiration of the Spirit of God. No man was more under the influence of
the gentle spirit of peace, breathed forth in the life of the Master; yet,
neither was there a man more imbued with those other qualities of the Savior
which could justly cause Him to exclaim: "Thou hypocrite, first cast out
the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearer to cast
out the mote out of thy brother's eye," or: "Woe unto you, Scribes and
Pharisees, hypocrites! Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye
escape the damnation of hell?" A striking characteristic of Brother Lyman
was his ability to say something to the people, young and old, who met
him. It was a delight to shake hands with him, for he was seemingly loath
to let you go until he has given expression to some pointed word or sentence
that would cause you to think. He always had something good to say, and
usually said it, looking you straight in the eyes. These expressions were
mostly agreeable, but sometimes not so pleasant, in which latter case you
were sure you are off the track he sees ahead.
In 1901 Apostle Francis M. Lyman was called by the First
Presidency to preside over the European Mission. During his presidency
he introduced a number of reforms in the missionary labors in Great Britain,
as well as on the continent of Europe. In the spring of 1902 he visited
Palestine and offered up a solemn prayer on the Mount of Olives. On the
same trip he also visited Italy, Egypt, Asia Minor, Turkey in Europe, etc.
On July 4, 1902, he dedicated a mission house in Copenhagen, Denmark. A
year later (July 24, 1903), he dedicated a new mission house in Christiania,
Norway. In August following he visited Finland and Russia. At the general
conference of the Church, held in Salt Lake City in October, 1903, he succeeded
the late Brigham Young, jun., as president
of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In the beginning of 1904 he returned
to America, being succeeded in the presidency of the European Mission by
Heber J. Grant.
Soon after his return home, he was summoned to Washington,
D. C., as a witness in the Smoot investigation before the Senate Committee
on Privileges and Elections, where he was subjected to severe cross-questioning.
In 1905 he accompanied President Joseph F. Smith and company to the Eastern
States and took part in the dedicatory services of the Joseph Smith Memorial
Monument Dec. 23, 1905. The following years President Lyman was busily
engaged in visiting the different Stakes of Zion, organizing and reorganizing
new Stakes and Wards, dedicating meeting houses, etc.
President Lyman died at his residence in Salt Lake
City, Nov. 18, 1916. "The Deseret Evening News" of that day, commenting
on his demise, said: "Lamenting the sudden death and mourning at the bier
of one whom he had sent away in peace, an ancient king exclaimed unto those
round about him, 'Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen
this day in Israel?' With similar emotions and in similar terms may the
word go forth to latter-day Israel in announcing the death of President
Francis Marion Lyman. Truly he was a mighty man and a chieftain among the
host. To tens of thousands who had not even heard that he was ill, the
news this morning of his demise will come as a terrible and benumbing shock.
So quickly has the 'grim reaper' done his work, that within the space of
three days the splendid physique was changed from vigorous pulsing health
into cold and lifeless clay. A great community is plunged in grief and
a hushed solemnity broods over all, disturbed only by the sobs and sorrow
of the multitude who feel themselves bereaved. Francis Marion Lyman was
of heroic size in every sense. His rugged massiveness of build was fit
embodiment of his granite-like firmness and strength of character, and
his bigness of heart.
Yet he had the gentleness, the humility and the sympathy
of a child. A man of dynamic energy and incessant industry, he was never
too busy to stop and throw his arm around a young man, especially a son
of one with whom he had had previous acquaintance, asking kindly concerning
his welfare and giving a word of advice. Himself a strict disciplinarian
as to his own habits, he was charitable to the weaknesses of others; if
he seemed stern, it was only because he was grieved by any form of backsliding,
and because he could not look upon evil with patience or toleration; at
any rate, he required no code of conduct from others that he was unwilling
to observe himself. He was a true exemplar, unyielding in his convictions,
void of hypocrisy or guile, the soul of loyalty and honor, and open and
candid as the day. These qualities made him the trusted and beloved leader
that he was—a thoughtful father among the people, a wise counselor, a generous
and sincere friend. . . .
President Lyman's belief and testimony was—and it
is shared by hundreds of thousands who knew and loved him—that in passing
death's portal he would merely go from one stage of experience—from one
room, as it were, in the illimitable mansion of eternity—to another. That
which we, who are left behind, mourn as death, is by those who on the other
side await the released spirit, hailed in a sense as birth. Where we may
weep, they will rejoice-our seeming loss is their gain. Into a goodly company
President Lyman has accordingly entered—loved ones and friends who will
welcome him as joyously as loved ones and friends here part from him with
tears But he has left the precious legacy of an honored name, a well-spent
life, and an undying example of righteousness. The simplest phrase is his
best epitaph—he was 'God's noblest work, an honest man'."