Frederick Kesler papers, 1837-1899  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Kesler, Frederick, 1816-1899
Title
Frederick Kesler papers
Dates
1837-1899 (inclusive)
Quantity
7.5 linear feet
Collection Number
Ms0049
Summary
The Frederick Kesler papers (1829-1985) consist of record books, daybooks, diaries, newspaper clippings, printed materials, photographs, books, and personal artifacts. Kesler was a mill-wright and bishop of Salt Lake 16th ward.
Repository
University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections.
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT
84112-0860
Telephone: 801-581-8863
special@library.utah.edu
Access Restrictions

The artifacts belonging to Mr. Kesler, kept in the record chest he built, include two beautiful canes, a Nauvoo Legion sword and scabbard, gold writing pens, and a tintype of Kesler in his Legion uniform, and a daguerreotype of Kesler in civilian dress. In order to view these items, please schedule an appointment with the Manuscripts Curator, Elizabeth Rogers, by calling 801-585-3076.

Twenty-four hour advanced notice encouraged. Materials must be used on-site. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Languages
English


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Frederick Kesler (1816-1899) was born 20 January 1816, to Frederick and Mary Sarah Linsey Kesler, in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. He was of German and English descent. Mr. Kesler, Sr., was a trapper of fur bearing animals, and the family lived in small cabins located on streams and lakes and surrounded by dense forests. There were three boys and three girls in the family--Peter, Jacob, Frederick, Mary (?), Sally, and Polly. Mrs. Kesler died when her sixth child was born.

After the death of his wife, Mr. Kesler put his children in homes nearby and "went West" and was not heard from again. Frederick Kesler says "thus we were left orphans at tender years of age. We very seldom seen each other. One of my sisters I have not seen but once since we were thus seperated. We grew up amongst strangers and to a very great extent became strangers to each other and as we grew up scattering over the country and thus becoming lost to each other."

Frederick Kesler lived with the Edward Campbell family until he was nearly fifteen years of age, at which time he apprenticed himself to a millwright. At age nineteen he first contracted to build mills. In 1835 he built sawmills and a grist mill--the first flour mill in Iowa.

Frederick Kesler Married Emeline Parker in 1836. Shortly after their marriage both became very ill of an unknown fever. When they were somewhat recovered he took Emeline to stay with her mother in eastern Ohio, and he went south by boat, leaving on 4 December 1837, and returning 5 May 1838. During this trip he built a large double sawmill and put into operation a corn mill, cotton gin, and cotton press in the vicinity of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

In 1839 Frederick Kesler first heard of the Mormons. He visited Nauvoo and met Joseph Smith. Frederick and Emeline Kesler were Baptized in June of 1840 and they lived in the Augusta Branch in Iowa. On October 2, 1841, Frederick saw Joseph Smith put the Book of Mormon manuscript in the southeast cornerstone of the Nauvoo House.

Frederick Kesler left Augusta on 2 September 1842, to "go East" to do missionary work. When he returned he brought Emeline's mother, step-father, and three small children with him. In 1845 Frederick moved to Nauvoo to work on the temple.

After the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, the Kesler family left Nauvoo on 16 April 1846. They arrived at Council Bluffs on 11 June 1846, where Frederick Kesler built a ferryboat which ran day and night. Kesler worked six hours on and six hours off day and night while "hundreds of waggons and thousands of people crossed the river." In 1847 he built a mill to grind corn in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri.

Because he needed money for the trip west, in 1848 Frederick Kesler went to Texas to raise funds for this purpose. In 1849 he built a mill for the Pottawattomi Indians one hundred miles west of Kansas City.

In the spring of 1851, the Kesler family started toward Salt Lake City in the Orson Pratt Company. They arrived in Salt Lake on 1 October 1851.

Frederick Kesler planned to build a mill at Box Elder for himself, but President Brigham Young wanted him to build mills for the church, and he began immediately. He continued in this work until 1865 when an accident left him with a broken leg and hip which never healed. he continuted in an advisory capacity.

In 1854 and again in 1858 Frederick Kesler made extensive trips east to purchase machinery and other manufacturing supplies for the church. During these trips he visited mills, factories, shops, and supply places in St. Louis, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, and New York. He observed and studied many operations and purchased large consignments of materials.

Frederick Kesler was active in church organizations--he served as bishop of the Sixteenth Ward from April 7, 1856, until his death on 12 June 1899. He was director of the penitentiary sixteen years and also served for a time as warden. He was a justice of the peace for eight years and district school trustee for many years.

Frederick Kesler had three wives--Emeline Parker, whom he married in 1836, Jane Elizabeth Pratt in 1853, and Abigail Snow in 1858. He fathered thirty children--fifteen sons and fifteen daughters. Seven girls died when less than two years of age; three children, two boys and one girl died as teenagers. Emeline and Abigail divorced Frederick in 1872. Jane Elizabeth survived him. He died in Salt Lake City on 12 June 1899, at age eighty-three.

(Biographical information was obtained from Frederick Kesler's Autobiography and Andrew Jenson, Latter-Day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia 4 vols., Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1901-1936.)

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Frederick Kesler papers (1829-1985) consist of record books, daybooks, diaries, newspaper clippings, printed materials, photographs, books, and personal artifacts. Kesler's early years were spent in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas. He was part of the first half-centry of Utah history and his lifetime spanned nearly a century of pioneer life. He has recorded day-to-day events during most of this period and has ammassed a valuable Mormon and Utah history collection.

Kesler began building mills in 1835 and upon his arrival in Utah was immediately set to work by Brigham Young to construct mills for the territory. His talents in building mills and the machinery to operatte them are attested to by the variety and number he built in the first ten years of his residence in Utah Terriroty. A nail factory, button machine, flouring mills, sawmills, sugar works, irom works, carding machine, smut machine (for cleaning wheat), oil mills, and numerous others were built upon request. His role as a mill builder made him a man of great economic importance. He mentions many of the mills in his diaries, but no detailed records or diagrams have been located.

Among the more unusual and valuable items in the collection is a half-page of the original Book of Mormon manuscript (14th Chapter of the First Book of Nephi) which was presented to Mr. Kesler by Joseph Summerhays in 1884. It was removed from the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House in 1882. General Joseph Smith's Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States, 1844; two different invitations to a "Pic-Nic Party" in Big Cottonwood Canyon, 24 July 1857; an address by Brigham Young titled "A Series of Instructions and Remarks," given at a Special Coucil in the Tabernacle 21 March 1858; revelations of Orson Hyde and John Taylor; and correspondence that includes letters from Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are among the valuable items.

A chest, constructed by Frederick Kesler, contained these records and is part of the gift to the University. A beautifully bound book housed in a specially built compartment in the record chest, contains Frederick Kesler's autobiography and his family genealogical records.

There are daybooks, partriarchal blessings, and an address book of Kesler family heads (thirteen books), dating from 1837 to 1899 and twelve diaries written between 1857 and 1899.

The correspondence contains personal letters from relatives and friends over a period of sixty years as well as letters from LDS church leaders.

In the file of Frederick Kesler's personal papers there are biographical materials, tributes, records of his church appointments and ordinations, geneological records, his will, and an account of his record chest and its contents.

An additional file contains invitations, theater programs, certificates, contracts, receipts, tax notices, land agreements, recipes, and tithing and temple records.

Artifacts belonging to Mr. Kesler and kept in the record chest include two beautiful canes, a Nauvoo Legion sword and scabbard, gold writing pens, and a tintype of Kesler in his Legion uniform, and a daguerreotype of Kesler in civilian dress. In order to view these items, please schedule an appointment with the Manuscripts Curator by calling 801-585-3076.

A microfilm of Frederick Kesler papers owned by Huntington Library has been secured for inclusion in this collection. The Huntington Library collection contains correspondence from several people, but is mainly concerned with the divorce suits Kesler's wives, Emeline and Abigail, filed against him. Some of the letters are from Brigham Young who sanctioned the divorces and set the amount of financial settlement.

In the account and daybooks in this collection are found more than in the diaries, the full extent of Frederick Kesler's genius. These daybooks were kept during the period of his greatest productivity, before the accident that permanently crippled him, and list in more detail the mills and machinery he built and for whom.

As mentioned previously, the record chest constructed by Frederick Kesler in 1889 was part of the gift to the University. This is a utilitarian piece, designed to securely contain records, books, and other objects. Despite its not being designed as a piece of furniture, its proportions are excellent and give a sense of strength and security without massiveness.

Several features of construction mark this as the work of a skilled craftsman, but not a cabinetmaker. The chest reflects well the background and purpose of its maker. Refinishing and restoring the chest were done in Western Americana in 1972 by Dr. W. W. Newby, professor of biology, emeritus, Univesity of Utah. It now houses some of the Kesler papers and memorabilia.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The library does not claim to control copyright for all materials in the collection. An individual depicted in a reproduction has privacy rights as outlined in Title 45 CFR, part 46 (Protection of Human Subjects). For further information, please review the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Use Agreement and Reproduction Request forms.

Preferred Citation

Initial Citation: Frederick Kesler papers, MS 0049, Box [ ]. Special Collections and Archives. University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Following Citations: MS 0049.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Diaries (Originals in Reserve. Patrons to use copies in Box 7) and Daybooks, 1857-1858Return to Top

The diaries contain numerous references to Frederick Kesler's activities as a mill builder, as a family man, and as an associate of Brigham Young and other LDS leaders.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box item
1 1 November 1859 - June 1874
1 2 June 1874 - November 1877
1 3 November 1877 - July 1881
1 4 July 1881 - January 1885
1 5 January 1885 - May 1888
1 6 May 1888 - November 1890
1 7 December 1890 - June 1893
1 8 June 1893 - January 1896
1 9 January 1896 - August 1898
1 10 August 1898 - June 1899
2a
Daybooks 1-13
1837-1899
2b
Daybooks 14-17
1854-1896

Subjects - Autobiographies to Mining Stock, 1829-1985Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
3 1
Autobiographies - Frederick Kesler
1890; 1974
3 2
Biographical Sketch by E. D. Roundy - Frederick Kesler
1892
3 3
Birthday Tributes - Frederick Kesler
1885-1898
3 4
Book of Mormon - Page from Original Manuscript
1829-1884
3 5
Buchanan, President James - A Proclamation
1858
3 6
Cemetery Lot Certification - Frederick Kesler Family
1985
3 7
Chest Dedication - Kesler Family Gathering and Program
1890
3 8
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Kesler Family Memberships, Ordinations, Baptisms, Etc.
1840-1869
3 9
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Official Communications
1872-1890
3 10
Contents of Kesler Record Chest - List of All Items
3 11
City Creek Canyon
1853
3 12
Court Summons - Kesler and Others, Iowa Territory
1844
3 13
Deed of Land
1875
3 14
Fourth of July - Program
1857
3 15
Funeral - Frederick Kesler
1899
3 16
Genealogical Materials - Kesler Family
1840s-1975
3 17
Hyde, Orson - Revelation, Nauvoo
1846
3 18
Hyde, Orson - A Voice from Jerusalem: or a Sketch of the Travels & Ministry of Elder Orson Hyde
1842
3 19
Indenture - Frederick Kesler to Abram Clark
1835
3 20
Invitations
1854; 1857
3 21
Jesus Christ Letter - A Letter Purported to have been Written by Jesus Christ
3 22
Manti Temple Dedication - Program
1888
3 23
Mills - Liberty Park - Statement and Publication
1852
3 24
Mills - Potawatomie Indian Reservation
1850
3 25
Mills - Smut Machine
1843-1852
3 26
Mills - The Trans Mississippian
1897
3 27
Mills - Frederick Kesler Business Accounts with Brigham Young
1867
3 28
Mills - Sawmill, Augusta, Iowa
1839
3 29
Mining Stock - Gold and Silver Mining Company Certificates
1864

Subjects - Miscellany to Brigham Young, 1833-1949Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
4 1
Miscellany
1844-1908
4 2
Missionary Certificates - Frederick Kesler
1890-1891
4 3
Patriarchal Blessings - Kesler Family
1840-1902
4 4
Penitentiary - Report and Certificate
1866; 1890
4 5
Pioneer Jubilee - Program
1897
4 6
Poetry
1833-1898
4 7
Programs - Theater
1875
4 8
Property and Land Agreements - Frederick Kesler Family
1837-1873
4 9
Receipts
1837-1859
4 10
Recipes
1884
4 11
Schools - Establishment of Church Schools
1890
4 12
Sixteenth Ward Chapels - Histories
1934-1949
4 13
Smith, Joseph - General Smith's Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States
1844
4 14
Taylor, John - Funeral Program
1887
4 15
Taylor, John - Revelation
1882
4 16
Tax Notices - Jane E. Pratt Kesler
1891-1912
4 17
Temple Ordinance Record - Performed by Frederick Kesler Family
1876-1893
4 18a
Temple Work - Correspondence
1886-1888
4 18b
Young, Brigham - Letter
1858
4 19
Times and Seasons
1842-1844
4 20
Tithing - Frederick Kesler Family
4 21
Will and Testament of Frederick Kesler and Power of Attorney for Jane E. Pratt Kesler
1879-1899
4 22
Woodruff, Wilford - Vision
1877
4 23
Writings of Frederick Kesler
1874; 1896
4 24
Young, Brigham - A Series of Instructions and Remarks by President Brigham Young at a Special Council
1858

Correspondence, Photographs, Newspaper Clippings, and Archie B. Kesler Materials, 1831-1975Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
5 1-3
Correspondence - Polly Adams to Frederick Kesler
1890-1892
5 4
Correspondence - Mr. and Mrs. D. A. Burnett to Frederick Kesler
1881; 1885; 1889
5 5
Correspondence - Abram Clark to Frederick Kesler
1882-1887
5 6
Correspondence - William McKay Dougan to Frederick Kesler
1881-1884
5 7
Correspondence - Orson Hyde to Frederick Kesler
1850
5 8
Correspondence - Archie B. Kesler to Clara Kesler
1902-1903
5 9
Correspondence - Emeline Parker Kesler to Frederick Kesler
1831
5 10
Correspondence - Frederick Kesler from His Children
1892-1899
5 11
Correspondence - William Weeks to Frederick Kesler
1852
5 12
Correspondence - Alexander Lindsey to Frederick Kesler
1881-1891
5 13
Correspondence - Nieces and Nephews to Frederick Kesler
1881-1891
5 14
Correspondence - Miscellaneous Letters
1875-1897
5 15
Correspondence - Joseph Smith to Frederick Kesler
1840
5 16
Correspondence - John Taylor to Frederick Kesler
1886
5 17
Correspondence - Wilford Woodruff to Frederick Kesler
1888
5 18
Correspondence - Brigham Young to Frederick Kesler
1858
5 19-20
Photocopies of Photographs Which Were Removed to Multimedia Archives
5 21
Miscellaneous
1844
5 22
Newspaper Clippings
1850-1975
5 23
Archie Kesler Materials - Miscellaneous Business Records
1908-1910
5 24
Archie Kesler Materials - Walker Bank and Trust Company
1959
5 25
Archie Kesler Materials - Raymond, Alberta, Canada - Auction Sale
5 26
Archie Kesler Materials - Bill of Sale for Horse
1909
5 27
Archie Kesler Materials - Cove Fort
1961

Newsletters and Beehive Exhibition, 1980Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
6 1
Kesler Family Organization
1980
6 2
Beehive Exhibition
1980
6 3
Article on Frederick Kesler
1897

Diary TranscriptsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box
7
Diary Transcripts
1857-1899
8
Diary Transcript Sheets 1-6 (Restricted - Not for Patron Use)
1857-1885
9
Diary Transcript Sheets 7-12 (Restricted - Not for Patron Use)
1885-1899

Books and General MaterialsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
10 1
The Book of Mormon
1865
10 2
LDS Sacred Hymns and Spiritual Songs
1877
11
Genealogical Records
This is a photocopy of the geneological record in the Kesler Chest.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Divorce--Religious aspects--Mormon Church
  • Flour mills--Utah
  • Milling machinery
  • Mills and mill-work--Utah
  • Polygamy
  • Sawmills--Utah
  • Sugar factories
  • Personal Names :
  • Kesler, Abigail Snow, 1837-1907
  • Kesler, Archie Bowman, 1878-1966
  • Kesler, Emeline Parker, 1818-1896
  • Kesler, Jane Elizabeth, 1835-1912
  • Smith, Joseph, 1805-1844
  • Young, Brigham, 1801-1877