Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
Francis Marion Lyman Francis Marion Lyman

1840 - 1916

  • Born 1840 Goodhope, Illinois
  • Baptized 1848
  • Ordained Elder 1856
  • Married to Rhoda Ann Taylor 1857; Later practiced Plural Marriage
  • Ordained Seventy 1860
  • Mission to Britain 1860
  • Ordained Apostle 1880
  • President of the Twelve 1903
  • Died 1916 Salt Lake City, Utah

    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 of 1860.

    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 in between.

    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 be spurned.

    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'."

    Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p.136
    Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.4, Appendix 1
    Lawrence R. Flake, Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation, p.337
    2005 Church Almanac, p.64

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