Round Dancing

Jesse N. Smith (Cousin of the Prophet Joseph Smith)

The following are journal entries from the journal of Jesse N. Smith, the first cousin to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Nov 27. (Sun.) 1881 – At Snowflake I gave an account of my recent journey, also of the public teachings of Pres. Taylor and party that I heard in Parowan. Spoke upon the evils of dancing. Some did not realize that it was not a part of our religion, while rest and recreation are necessary; believed that as a Church we had lost more than we had gained by dancing, especially has the round dance been termed “the dance of death.” Notwithstanding the partial permit of Pres. Taylor I felt to use my influence against round dancing in this stake of Zion.

Dec. 14. 1881 – We held meeting there in the evening. I counseled the brethren to fully satisfy the Indians for their land claims when they returned in the spring and also to help them cultivate their patches, and treat them kindly and deal honestly with them. Referred to the 49th chapter of Genesis. Asked the people to use their influence against round dancing and against excessive dancing. Also warned them against covetousness.

Dec. 18 (Sun.) 1881 – At a meeting in Snowflake I spoke on the subject of dancing. Reprehended the practice of swinging around in a wanton manner and more times than the figure or the music required. Musicious in the Church who played for round dancing were accessory thereto. Recommended parties to attend dancing schools and learn how to deport themselves properly.

Mar. 8. (Sat.) 1884 – I said it seems a strange thing to our Mexican friends, traditionated as they are in the Roman Catholic religion, when they see us dance in the same building in which we partake of the sacrament. This has been permitted in our poverty, but I feel that it is improper. They would not thus profane their sacred places, and I feel that in some things we can be taught by this degraded people.

Jan. 1 1888 (Sun.) – Attended meeting. Dined at Bro. Arnold’s; supped at Bro. Stradlings. Called on Judge Morrison and Recorder Nelson. Attended meeting of the High Council. The subject of round dances was discussed. John Henry Smith expressed himself as unqualifiedly opposed to them, styling them the motive power of lust.

Dec. 25 (Thurs) 1890 – Attended a celebration of the day in the Stake House. The young people desired to dance in the Stake House and Bishop Hunt of Snowflake favored it. With Bro. Hatch I wrote to the First Presidency on the subject. They reply came by due course of mail from PResidents Woodruff and Joseph F. Smith that they were now and always had been opposed to dancing in houses of worship.

Nov. 27 1891 – A petition to the High Council favoring the round dance was circulated. This was met by a counter petition remonstrating against the round dance, so the High council made no change.



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