Snapshots of John Lowry

John Lowry, my 3G Grandfather, was born in August of 1799 in Tennessee, and died 68 years later in Manti, Utah. An early member of the LDS Church, he was privileged to be with the Church during its forced travels, eventually arriving in Salt Lake City and becoming one of the first Bishops called in that city.

Church historians talk about the Lowry Settlement in Missouri. Named for John Lowry, the settlement was located two miles south of Michael Arthur's brick house, and just east of the present-day “Worlds of Fun” theme park, near the community of Birmingham. We are indebted to professor LaMar Berrett for the following descriptions; we served our senior mission with elder and sister Berrett and strongly recommend his book, Sacred Places, Missouri –a comprehensive guide to early LDS historical sites.

Dr. Berrett explains: John Lowry led a branch of the Church on the Missouri River bottoms, about eight miles southwest of Liberty His appointment to preside apparently came before he moved from his winter camp on the bottoms to higher ground above the bluffs nearby, the Lowry Settlement grew around him. Samuel Gifford, a fellow exile, found the emergency Lowry Camp Nov. 14, 1833. He said the Saints there were organized into a Branch of the Church, “with Lowry as President.”

Parley P. Pratt and Lyman Wight were appointed early in 1834 to go to Kirtland and report on the stark living conditions of the Saints in Clay County, MO. Several weeks earlier, William W. Phelps had written to Kirtland about the poverty of the Saints: “Our clothes are worn out, we want the necessities of life.”

To raise funds for the trip (Dr. Berret continues), Parley asked John Lowry to assist him and Lyman. Parley said of Lowry, “I entered his miserable cottage in the swamp, amid the low, timbered bottoms of the Missouri River, found him sick in bed with a heavy fever.” When another elder arrived, “We laid hands on (the family) and rebuked the disease,” said Parley. A healed and grateful John Lowry gave him the funds he needed.

(Side note: The Saints all lived under desperate conditions of poverty in Clay County at that time. I've always wondered how John Lowry's conditions were sufficiently worse than the norm to be recorded in official Church history as “his miserable cottage?” Just asking...)

Years later, John Lowry was called as one of the first two bishops in the Salt Lake area. The meeting was held in George Benjamin Wallace's house, a log cabin built inside the Old Fort, on Feb 22, 1849. In the same meeting, held by the First Presidency of the Church, four persons were set apart and ordained apostles, They were Charles C. Rich, Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow and Franklin D. Richards. At that meeting, the Valley was divided into two wards, bishops of Salt Lake Valley wards were ordained under the direction of President Young, with President Heber C. Kimball, the Twelve Apostles and others. The next day another meeting was held in this log cabin home and Reynolds Cahoon and George Wallace were set apart as counselors to John W. Young in the High Priests Quorum; and Daniel Spencer was set apart as president of Salt Lake Stake.

--Larry Boulden