People of Faith: Hyrum's Religious Community

In 1869, the people of Hyrum completed the Rock Meeting House on the northeast corner of the public square. The structure provided a central gathering place to hold meetings and many other cultural and spiritual functions. During the 1860s and 1870s, the community grew rapidly as many immigrants arrived and the Rock Meeting House became inadequate to accommodate everyone. So, community members erected the Bowery in a grove of trees on the public square and used it for outdoor meetings, dances, special events (such as LDS Stake Conference), and entertainment. Then, in 1901, Hyrum was divided into three wards and each one constructed its own meetinghouse and the Bowery was used for special occasions.

Shortly after Hyrum was established the LDS Church began organizing schools for local children. Many of the students in the Utah Territory were Scandinavian, which made it difficult for them to learn concepts with a language barrier. To overcome this, Brigham Young established the Deseret Alphabet in 1854. It never gained wide acceptance, but was an early attempt to teach English to non-native speakers of English.

Throughout Mormon Country, Presbyterian missionaries and educators built schools and staffed them with teachers trained in the latest educational methods. Reverend Philip Bohback oversaw the Presbyterian school in Hyrum. His school was popular, especially among Scandinavian students because he was fluent in Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian. The Reverend Martinus Nelson, a Methodist minister, opened a school in Hyrum in 1875 at 152 West Main Street. Reverend Nelson was influential in teaching Scandinavian children because he was fluent in Danish, a common first language among many in Hyrum. Most religious schools closed down by 1904 because the state oversaw education, rather than religious institutions.

Throughout a person’s life, starting at birth and continuing right up to his or her death, religious ceremonies and rites provide integral components of life events. People of all religions participate in and make record of christenings, blessings, baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals.