Grandpa Welcome


Based on a history written by the author’s grandmother
Prepare every needful thing; and establish … a house of God (D&C 88:119).

Mother couldn’t help noticing the serious, thoughtful look on Eric’s face as they drove home from church. “How was Primary today, Eric?”

“Fine.”

“What did you learn today?” Mother asked.

“We talked about choosing the right in our class, and Sharing Time was about temples.”

“I can’t think of anything more special to talk about than temples,” Mother cheerfully replied. But she noticed that the faraway look was still in Eric’s eyes as they pulled into the driveway. “After you change your clothes, would you please help me set the table for dinner?” she asked.

As they were setting the table, Eric asked, “You and Dad were married in the temple, weren’t you?”

“Yes.”

“So that means I’m sealed to you for eternity?”

“Right again,” Mother replied.

“I won’t get to go inside the temple until I’m grown up, will I?”

Mother reminded Eric that his brother, Nathan, who was twelve and a deacon, had gone to the temple the month before and had been baptized for the dead, and how he, Eric, could do that, too, when he was twelve and held the Aaronic Priesthood. She also told him that when he was nineteen and ordained an elder, he could go through the temple for his own endowments before leaving on his mission.

Eric smiled at Mother, “I’m really looking forward to doing both of those things, but it’s not the same as what Joey did. When Sister Jones asked today in Sharing Time if anyone had a special experience to tell about the temple, Joey told about the missionaries teaching his family and about their baptism. He said that a year after they were baptized, they went to the temple as a family and were sealed together. He told about how beautiful the temple is inside and about how special it was to be dressed all in white and kneel down by the altar with his mom and dad and brothers and sisters.

“Mom, that sounds so exciting! I wish I had a story about the temple that I could share.”

Mother’s eyes sparkled. “You do, Eric. I’ll tell you all about it after dinner.”

Mother always fixed someone’s favorite dinner on Sunday, and of course the best part was dessert. Today, though, Eric was anxious for a different kind of after-dinner treat. It made his day when his older sister, Angie, and Dad volunteered to clean up the dishes so that Mother could tell him the special temple story right away.

They went to the family room, and Mother pulled her book of remembrance from a shelf and turned to a picture of a man with white hair and a white beard. She told Eric, “Welcome Chapman was my grandmother’s grandfather. While still a young man, Welcome heard rumors of a Joseph Smith, who was living in western New York, and who claimed to have a golden book that was given to him by an angel, and to have had visions and revelations. He also claimed that he had seen Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. He said that They had instructed him to organize a new church.

“After thinking a lot about it, Welcome decided to find out for himself whether what he’d heard was true. Against the wishes of his parents, he saddled his horse and rode two hundred miles to New York.

“When he found the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Mother continued, “he discovered that they were about the same age. Welcome heard a complete account of all that had happened to Joseph, including how he obtained and translated the records on the golden plates, and was very much impressed with the Prophet and his wonderful experiences.

“He stayed two weeks at the home of the Prophet, learning all he could of the gospel. Convinced that this was the true religion, Welcome was baptized. Because of his activities in the Church and the esteem Joseph Smith had for him, he was made one of the Prophet’s bodyguards.”

“Wow!” Eric exclaimed. “He had an important job, didn’t he?”

“Yes,” Mother said, “but sometimes it was dangerous, not only for him but for his family. One time while he was away on guard duty, a mob went to their home and told his wife that if there was anything in the house that she wanted, to get it out before they burned the house down. Sick at heart, she got everything out while the mob looked on. The cupboard was so heavy that she couldn’t move it alone, so one of the men helped her get it out. Then, while she and the children watched, the mobbers burned the house to the ground.

“Welcome and his family passed through many of the trials, persecutions, and other hardships that fell upon the Church and its members at that time.”

Eric had heard stories about the pioneers before, but he had never imagined that his very own grandparents had been some of them. It was exciting to picture Grandpa Welcome with the Prophet Joseph Smith. He also felt bad for their losing their home and having been treated cruelly. But he wondered what Mother told him had to do with the temple.

“You see,” she continued, “Welcome was a stonecutter, so when he was living in Kirtland, he was called to cut stone for the Kirtland Temple. Later, when the Saints were building the Nauvoo Temple, he cut stone for it. And it was in the Nauvoo Temple that many Saints, including Welcome, received their endowments.

“The Saints were driven out of Nauvoo in the early spring of 1846, and they began their long trek westward. Welcome and his family spent the first winter at Winter Quarters. That next spring, Welcome was appointed captain over the fourth company, which arrived at the Salt Lake Valley in the late summer of 1847.

“In 1849, Chief Walker, the Ute Indian chief, met in council with President Brigham Young. He requested the Mormon leader to send colonists to settle on their land. Welcome and his family went to help settle the town of Manti in the Sanpete Valley.

“On July 27, 1854, Welcome was sustained as the Manti Stake president. That afternoon, as they were baptizing some settlers who had been converted, a large crowd gathered. Among them was Chief Walker and many of his people. Welcome asked the chief if any of his people would like to be baptized. The chief replied that he did not know but would ask them. That day many Indians were baptized there.

“After serving as Manti Stake president for eight years, Welcome was called by President Young on a mission to cut stone for the Salt Lake Temple, which he did until he was seventy-five years old.”

Eric looked up at the picture on the wall of the Salt Lake Temple with a new feeling of reverence. He felt proud that one of his ancestors had cut stone for the beautiful temple. He also felt proud as he thought of the good and faithful life Welcome had lived.

Eric gave Mother a big hug and kiss and thanked her for telling him about Grandpa Welcome. “You know, Mom, not only do I have a temple story to share, but I also have a neat Grandpa that I didn’t know about before. I want to live my life like Grandpa Welcome did and do what Jesus wants me to do so I can go to the temple someday too.”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Paul Mann