The Annals of the Southern Mission: A Record of the History of the Settlement of Southern Utah


by James Godson Bleak, Historian for the Southern Mission

Edited by Aaron McArthur and Reid L. Neilson

Foreword by Elder Steven E. Snow

Introduction by Brandon J. Metcalf

“Bleak’s annals are a lasting tribute to the early settlers of Southern Utah and will yet influence many thousand more in our day. The wonderful work in this volume makes that possible.” —Elder Steven E. Snow, LDS Church Historian and Recorder
Professional historians and lay readers will be inspired by this vivid account of the pioneer experiences. —Douglas Alder, Professor Emeritus and Former President of Dixie College

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Book Description:

James G. Bleak’s Annals of the Southern Mission (1900-1907) number 2,266 loose and lined pages and represent the finest early history of Southern Utah stretching from its initial Mormon settlement in 1849 into the early years of the twentieth century.

Bleak submitted the first portion of the history, numbering over 500 pages, to the Church Historian’s Office in April 1903. He submitted additional increments of the manuscript when he visited Salt Lake City, usually for general conferences. He delivered the final installment of his Annals to the Historian’s Office in October 1907. The complete holograph manuscript has been in the continuous custody of the Church History Department (formerly the Church Historian’s Office) ever since.

Carefully transcribed and annotated by Aaron McArthur and Reid L. Neilson, this important work provides a detailed historical, ecclesiastical, agricultural, governmental, and cultural record of Southern Utah in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Q&A with the editors

Praise for The Annals of the Southern Mission:

“These 850 pages cover the period of 1861 to 1900 of pioneer life in Southern Utah. James G. Bleak came from England and crossed the U. S. Great Plains in the troubled Willie Handcart Company to the Salt Lake Valley. In 1861 he and his family were called to be in the first St George colonizing company of 309 families. He was appointed by Brigham Young to be the clerk and historian of this development of the Mohave Desert and nearby lands in Nevada and Arizona. He labored at the task until 1906 while serving in a dozen other positions, both church and civic. It was very difficult for him but he produced a masterpiece. Unfortunately the manuscript has only been available in archives of the LDS Church and Dixie State University until now. Aaron McArthur and Reid Nielson have now produced an 850 page edition of this major record. Professional historians and lay readers will be inspired by this vivid account of the pioneer experiences mostly before statehood or modernization. Developing water systems, establishing schools, creating courts and laws, constructing civic and commercial building and homes, raising food and animals promoting the arts, and generating faith and community harmony in some forty villages in Southern Utah and nearby Nevada and Arizona are all captured by James G.. Bleak. We will all be indebted to Brandon Metcalf for the fine Introduction and to Aaron McArthur and Reid Nielson for their brilliant editing of this important and extensive document.” —Douglas Alder, Professor Emeritus and Former President of Dixie College

About the Authors:

Aaron McArthur is an Associate Professor of History and the Public History Program Director at Arkansas Tech University. He holds a PhD in the History of the US West from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he mainly focused on LDS history in the last half of the nineteenth century. His first book, St. Thomas, Nevada: A History Uncovered, told the story of that town from its founding under the direction of Brigham Young to its inundation by Lake Mead. Aaron recently became a blue belt in Jiu Jitsu and coaches wrestling at his local MMA gym. He lives in Arkansas with his wife Xela and their children.

Reid L. Neilson was appointed Assistant Church Historian and Recorder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2015. He has also served as the Managing Director of the Church History Department since 2010. He is the author and award-winning editor of thirty books, including Exhibiting Mormonism, Early Mormon Missionary Activities in Japan, and Tales from the World Tour. He serves on the editorial boards of the Joseph Smith Papers and the Deseret Book Company. A world traveler, he has toured over ninety countries. He and his wife, Shelly, have five children and live in Bountiful, Utah.

More Information:

874 pages
ISBN 978-1-58958-652-9 (hardcover)



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