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Today in Elders Quorum, we studied lesson 14 in the Teachings of Wilford Woodruff manual, titled “Remembering Our Spiritual Heritage”.
During the course of the lesson, the brother teaching shared an experience that one of his ancestors had had. He said that his ancestor was the first one to be baptized in Europe, by Heber C. Kimball. Knowing a bit of the story, I raised my hand, and asked him if it was the baptism at River Ribble in England. He confirmed that it was, and I then told him that my ancestor was the second one baptized. The brother sitting next to me then raised his hand, and said “Well my ancestor baptized both of your ancestors!”, his ancestor being Heber C. Kimball.
The story is as follows, as related by Heber C. Kimball in his journal:
“I had the pleasure, about 9 a.m., of baptizing nine individuals and hailing them brethren and sisters in the kingdom of God. These were the first persons baptized into the Church in a foreign land, and only the eighth day after our arrival in Preston.
“A circumstance took place which I cannot refrain from mentioning, for it will show the eagerness and anxiety of some in that land to obey the Gospel. Two of the male candidates, when they had changed their clothes at a distance of several rods from the place where I was standing in the water, were so anxious to obey the Gospel that they ran with all their might to the water, each wishing to be baptized first. The younger, George D. Watt, being quicker of foot than the elder, outran him, and came first into the water.”
—Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Kimball Family, 1888), 135.
The event in question took place on July 30, 1837, where nine individuals were baptized in the River Ribble in the presence of approximately eight-thousand onlookers.
So, a pretty cool Pioneer Day experience… To have the descendants of the first two European church members, and the descendant of the Elder who baptized them, all in the same classroom. Small world.