Temple Ordinances in 1889

Endowment house

The LDS temple ordinances were first written down in 1877. Prior to this the ceremonies were always changed according to the individuals involved. However even after that point the wording of various things was left up to the officiator. We know though even up until 1922 large portions of the ceremony were still not officially written down. Since 1877 we have certainly seen numerous changes introduced with the reasons for the change not always clear. In 1889 a newspaper of the time, the Elmira Telegram, received information about the ceremonies currently being performed in the LDS Endowment House. Interestingly, shortly before this account went to print the LDS Endowment House itself was ordered to be destroyed by President Woodruff. The newspaper itself though is admittedly not pro-Mormon, however the contemporary nature of this account makes it a very fascinating study. The following account is taken from the newspaper.

1889 Endowment Account

For many years the Endowment ceremonies were weekly and almost daily performed in the two-story adobe building hard by the uncompleted temple here in Salt Lake City. During the last ten years the influx of Gentiles and the passage and enforcement of stringent laws against polygamy have induced the Mormons to discontinue the observance of the Endowment ceremonies in this city, but they are still continued in the Mormon temples at Logan, Manti and St. George. There ceremonies are performed with the greatest secrecy, but there is an abundance of evidence to show that numerous dupes, male and female, are being constantly bound to unquestioning obedience to the priesthood to bitter hostility to all outside of the Mormon church and to the support and practice of polygamy.

Elmira John Taylor

Endowment House

In the temple at Logan, which place I visited a day or two ago, and of which I shall have more to say hereafter, there are apartments luxuriously furnished, without regard to cost, where the leaders of the church find refuge and comfort when pursued by the officers of the law. John Taylor, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith abode there while living underground, supported by the tithings of the faithful. So extensive is the work performed at the Logan temple that some thirty young women are constantly employed there. They undergo baptism for the dead for fifteen cents a soul and take the endowments as proxies for fifty cents. All the brethren have to pay handsomely for the privilege of going through the several temples merely as visitors. The price of admission varies from $2 to $5, and before going through the temple one must doff his ordinary foot gear and put on a pair of white linen slippers, which the attendants obligingly furnish for $2.50 a pair.

All good Mormons must sooner or later go through the Endowment house, and all marriages to be rendered binding for all eternity must be performed there. Parents also go there to be sealed to their children. For the description of the Endowment ceremonies which I am about to give, I am indebted to William Harman, of this city. This venerable man long since left the Mormon church, filled with loathing and disgust at the crimes and abominations which he was compelled to witness and sanction. No one who knows him-and by those among whom he has living for many years, he is held in the highest respect-questions his honesty, his veracity or his sincerity.

Entrance Requirements

The candidate for the Endowments first received a certificate from the bishop of his ward and armed with this document presents himself at a time appointed at the temple nearest his home. Mormons living in northern Utah go to the temple at Logan, those in central Utah to the temple at Manti, and those in southern Utah to the temple at St. George. The Endowments are as a rule received by parties of from ten to fifty. The rites and ceremonies occupy about nine hours and commence at 7 o’clock in the morning, lasting all day. Each male candidate on entering the temple takes with him a lunch basket, one or more bottles of olive oil and a little bundle of clothes. The luncheon is intended for the temple attendants. The oil is used in the anointing, and a man must have a bottle for each wife which he intends to have sealed to him.

Elmira Woodruff

In the bundle of clothes are a pair of white linen slippers, a pair of white socks, a clean white shirt, a linen sash and turban, a long robe of oriental pattern, and Endowment gown and a fig leaf apron. The fig leaf apron is a square of green silk, on which are embossed nine brown fig leaves. In the bundle of clothes which the female candidate takes with her are garters, a pair of linen slippers, a pair of white stockings, a chemise, a night dress, a cap with a huge veil, a sash, a flowing robe, an Endowment or wedding garment and a fig leaf apron. All of these garments, save the fig leaf apron, which is like that of the male, are of the purest white linen. The Endowment garment of both male and female, consists of undershirt and drawers in one, fastened with strings instead of buttons. It is considered especially sacred and once put on is seldom if ever taken off by the faithful Mormons. Clad with it the wearer, the priests teach, cannot die by fire or water or by violence. The Prophet Smith’s death was alone rendered possible by the fact that when he went to his fate in Carthage jail, he thoughtlessly neglected to put on his Endowment garments before setting out.

On entering the temple the candidate presents his bishop’s certificate to the officiating priest. The certificate bears testimony to the fact that the candidate is a member in good standing of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has paid the tithing in full to date and is fit to receive his or her Endowments. If the candidate is a male, who proposes contracting marriages with two or more wives, the certificate commends him as deserving of such a blessing and recommends that is be allowed him. After the names of the several candidates have been entered in a register kept for the purpose, along with the names, ages, places of birth and other biographical details, the males are ordered into one bath room and the females into another and told to disrobe and receive the bath which shall cleanse them of their sins.

Elmira Womens Veil

Washing and Anointing

In the men’s department the candidates one after another enter the bathtub and are thoroughly cleansed by the officiating high priest. Washing the candidate’s head, the priest says: “By this process I now wash away all the unholy thoughts that have heretofore occupied your mind”. Washing the eyes, the priest continues: “I now wash away all that you have ever beheld of iniquity”. Passing on to the mouth the priest says, “I now cleanse you from all the evil you have ever said”. After all the human organs have thus received attention, the candidate is pronounced “clean every whit” and passed on to the priest who performs the act of anointing. The priest receives the candidate’s bottle of olive oil, and, first emptying it into a horn called, “the holy horn of anointing” pours it upon the candidate then vigorously rubbing the candidate from head to foot the priest repeats: “Now I anoint your head so that for the future nothing, but holy thoughts may enter it. Your eyes that you may turn them away from the beholding of vanity and evil, and your mouth that you may always speak the words of truth and righteousness”. The anointing ended, the candidate is told to don his Endowment garment, and then the priest whispers into his ear, “the new and celestial name which no man shall know saving he that receiveth it”. This new name is always taken from the Bible and can be divulged only to Saint Peter.

Meanwhile the female candidates, having been bathed and anointed by attendants of their own sex, have put on their Endowment garments, and have also had new names whispered into their ears, names like those of the men, taken from scripture. The only difference between the new name of the man and the woman is that while the former reveals his only to St. Peter, the latter must reveal hers to her husband. This, for some occult reason, is supposed to render the woman’s salvation doubly sure.

Elmira Garment


All having been bathed, anointed and renamed, the several candidates are ushered into a darkened room and told to squat upon the floor. The candidates thus squatting upon the floor are supposed to represent the sons of God who sang together at the creation. After a few moments of silence, a voice is heard to say: “Michael, go down and gather the elements together and prepare to make a world”. This command is supposed to come from Elohim or God and is addressed to the archangel Michael. Brigham Young used always to take the part of Elohim in the Endowment services here in Salt Lake City, and it is said that his successor, Wilford Woodruff, now does the same in the temple at Logan. To the command of Elohim, Michael replies: “Behold it shall be done according to thy word”. Steps are heard retreating and a moment later returning; then Michael speak again: “Behold, Elohim, all things are done as thou hast commanded”. Michael having discharged several other errands entrusted to him by Elohim, the latter finally gives the order: “Let there be light”. The room is suddenly lighted, and the candidates find themselves in the presence of Elohim, Jehovah, Christ and a group of ministering angels, impersonated by counselors, apostles and bishops.

The world having now been completely organized and made ready for the habitation of man, Elohim, Jehovah and Christ say: “Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness, and let him have dominion over all these our works”. In response to this command Adam springs instantly into existence, clothed only in his nakedness, as was the primeval man. The gods behold their work and are pleased with it, but noting Adam’s forlorn condition observe that it is not good for man to be alone and conclude to make a helpmeet for him. Adam falls asleep and the candidates are told to imitate his example. While they are stretched upon the floor Eve is created, and when they open their eyes again, they see standing before them the first mother in all her virginal beauty and freshness.

Garden of Eden

After the creation of the first pair the candidates are conducted into another room, called the “Garden of Eden”. Here Adam and Eve are married, and the gods having charged them to the fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, and having shown them the consequence of disobedience, leave the garden. Then Eve being left alone by Adam for a short time, the devil, who has all along been hiding in the garden, appears to tempt her. The devil on this occasion is a most amusing one, dressed in a suit of black velvet and on his head a black skull cap with enormous flaps for ears. On his breast he wears an apron of white silk on which is worked two pillars, representing the pillars of Solomon’s temple, and a group of serpents. In the Endowment house here the role of the devil used to be taken by Judge Phelps, a slight, weazened old man, a lawyer by profession, and one of Brigham Young’s most devoted lackeys. Eve was always acted by Eliza Snow, one of the plural wives of the Prophet Joseph Smith; and after his death sealed to Brigham Young. She was until late in life a woman of great beauty, and it is said that in the temples of Mormondom the part of Eve is never assumed except by exceedingly pretty women.

Emira Devils Apron

After saluting Eve, the devil goes straight to the tree of forbidden fruit, and plucking some tastes it, pronounces it good and offers it to Eve. She declines the proffered fruit at first, but finally accepts and eats it. Then for the first time she sees clearly what must be done in order to obey the command of the gods to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. “After this acquisition of knowledge by Eve”, says Mr. Jarman, “a scene too disgusting for print occurs. I have talked with hundreds who have been through these ceremonies and from what I have learned from them I am convinced that some parts of the performance are varied at times, so that should we attempt to expose them there would be conflicting statements. At one time the devil himself consummates the fall of Eve; at another time the devil only explains matters to Eve and Adam accomplishes her downfall. Sometimes the candidates, male and female, are huddled together entirely nude; at other times partly dressed. Mormon leaders are very tricky, and I have no doubt the ceremonies are varied occasionally. I can only give you the facts as I saw and heard them”. According to Mr. Jarman’s observation the devil having fully instructed Eve concerning the forbidden fruit and espying Adam approaching, hides behind a tree in the garden. Adam enters and being sorely tempted by Eve falls.

The Fall

The fall accomplished, the candidates are supposed to realize for the first time their naked condition and make haste to put on their fig leaf aprons. Jehovah suddenly reappears in the garden and searches for Adam and Even who have hidden in the bushes. “Adam, where art thou?” he demands, and Adam appears coming slowly and shame facedly from his place of concealment, followed by his guilty partner, Eve. “I heard thy voice in the garden,” says Adam, “and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself”. To this Jehovah replies: “Who told thee thou wast naked? Hast thou partaken of the forbidden fruit?” Adam places the blame upon Eve. “The woman thou gavest to be with me” he replies, “she tempted me and I fell”. Jehovah turning to Eve, demands, “What is this thou hast done?” and the woman in turn lays the blame upon her satanic adviser. Then the devil is summoned before Jehovah and cursed by the angry deity. “Upon they belly shalt thou go”, the curse concludes and the devil falling upon the floor crawls about it on his hands and feet. Eve also is cursed, “In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children”, Jehovah thunders. “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and they conception and thy husband he shall rule over thee”. Last of all Adam is told that hereafter he must live by the sweat of his brow, and then the candidates are expelled from the garden of Eden, being conducted into a room made artificially cold to represent the rigor and barrenness of a fallen world and left by the gods and angels for the time being to their own devices.

Elmira Apron

The ceremonies up to this time have occupied about six hours. After a long wait Jehovah finally reappears. He informs the candidates that though because of the sin of Adam and Eve they have been driven from the presence of God, there is still a way of salvation open to them, of which they shall know more later on. He enjoins them to be patient until the plan shall be unfolded to them. They are then ordered to put on their Endowment robes, and while they are doing so, they are enjoined that if they ever reveal what they have seen and heard in the “Garden of Eden”, their memories will be blighted, and they will be everlastingly damned. To make the penalty of apostasy still more dreadful with blood curdling accompaniments certain marks are cut with a huge pair of shears, besides others the Masonic square and compass, upon the right and left breast of the Endowment garments of the candidates. Upon the right knee of each candidate is also cut a gash so that in future he or she may be known of all men as a Mormon. The priests then give the candidates, one after another, the first grip of the Aaronic or lesser priesthood. which consists in placing the thumb on the knuckle of the index finger and clasping the hands around.

Oath of Obedience

Next, all the candidates kneeling are made to swear “to never speak against the Lord’s anointed prophet (the Mormon prophet) but to obey him and laws of the Mormon church and all they enjoin, in preference to the laws of any kingdom or nationality, and more especially those of the United States”. The penalty for refusing to obey or revealing this oath and grip is “that we will have our throats cut from ear to ear and the tongue torn from the mouth”. The sign of this penalty is drawing the hand with a thumb pointing towards the throat sharply across the bringing the arm to the level of the square, and with the hand upraised toward heaven the candidate sears to abide by the same.

Elmira Robe

After this treasonable oath is taken by the candidates at a small altar at the side of the room in which it is given, appears three men representing the apostles, Peter, James and John. They take their stations behind the altar with Peter in the center. Peter carries in his hand two large keys, representing the keys of heaven and hell. Before the three apostles now come men representing the various creeds of Christendom, and successively present the dogmas of their churches. Each address is a lewd and indecent satire, full of the grossest obscenities, upon the church referred to.

False Preachers

After all have spoken, the apostle, Peter, preaches the truth, the Mormon gospel. when Mr. Jarman took his Endowments, Peter was impersonated by Heber C. Kimball, a great man in the Mormon church in former days. among other things Kimball said: “here are these miserable one wife scoundrels among the Baptists, Methodists and that various sects trying to get into heaven with but one wife on their arm. No man can get into celestial glory that way. I hold the keys and no man can pass in unless evenly balanced with a wife on each arm, and he should have a score or two more hanging on to his coat tails: otherwise his glory in heaven will be no great shakes. All the sects are wrong. Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing: and I will receive you and be a father to you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty. The world was in darkness and had been for 1800 years until the prophet, Joseph Smith, appeared. The only light in the world at the present time is in the Mormon church. the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only true church of God upon the earth. All will be damned who reject the gospel as proclaimed by the Latter Day church”. Thus, as Peter, Heber C. Kimball, harangue, and it is only fair to presume that other Peters are cut from the same stripe and preach the same atrocious doctrines.

Elmira Mens Cap

Peter having concluded his address, the devil appears and tempts him. He successfully resists the temptation and drives the devil from him. Them he gives the candidates the second grip of the Aaronic or lesser priesthood. To give this grip the thumb is placed between the knuckles of the index and second fingers, and the hand clasped around them. The penalty for this is to be sawn asunder, and the members cast into the sea. The sign of the penalty is given by drawing the hand sharply across the middle of the body. Next the oath of chastity is taken by both male and female candidates. The woman swears to be true to her husband and to willingly submit to a plurality of wives, and the man to be true to his wives, his spiritual wives and his proxy wives, his wives for time and his wives for eternity.

Oath of Vengeance

This ceremony ended it is proclaimed that the holy angel has appeared to Joseph Smith, given him the keys of the Kingdom, and restored the blessings of the ancient gospel. Next the candidates are given the first grip of the Melchizedek or higher priesthood. This grip, the priests teach, was the same hold by Christ. The grip is given by placing the thumb on the knuckle of the index finger, placing the index finger straight along the palm of the hand, and clasping the lower part of the hand with the remaining fingers. The grip given, an oath is administered, the candidates vowing “to avenge the death of the prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, on the American nation, and teach our children and our children’s children unto the fourth-generation eternal enmity to the government of the United States”. The penalty for divulging this grip and oath is disembowelment while living and everlasting damnation.


The candidates are now ranged in order before a curtained recess and the Apostle Peter delivers a lecture in substance as follows:

Peter – Brethren and sisters, light has now come into the world and the way is open unto men. The holy priesthood is once more established upon the earth in the person of Joseph Smith and his successors. To this priesthood, as unto Christ, all respect is due, obedience implicit and yielded without a murmur. He who gave life has the right to take it. His representatives the same. You are then to obey all orders of the priesthood, spiritual and temporal in matters of life or death. Submit yourself to the higher orders as a tallowed rag in the hands of God’s priesthood. You are now ready to enter the kingdom of God. Look forth upon the void and tell me what you see (Curtain is raised).

Adam and Eve – A human skeleton.

Archangel Michael – Here all hearts are laid open, all desires reveled, and all traitors made known. In council of the gods, it has been decreed that here the faithless must die. Some enter here with evil intent, but none with evil intent go beyond this veil or return alive, if there they practice deceit. If one among you knows aught of treachery in his heart, we charge him now to speak while, yet he may and live. Brethren, an ordeal awaits you. Let the pure have no fear, the false-hearted quake. Each shall pass under the searching hand, and the spirit of the Lord decide for his own.

Penalty of Death

The candidates one by one are stretched on their backs on the altar, and the priest passes a large knife or razor across their throats. The priests teach that if anyone is false hearted the spirit will now reveal it to their instant death. the long list of murdered apostates and Gentiles, whose bloody taking off at the hands of the saints has crimsoned the pages of Mormon history, reveal the terrible and sinister significance of all these oaths and penalties. They show Mormonism in its true light. To resume: The candidates are next taken to a room known as “The Prayer Cricle Room”, where after taking another oath of blind obedience to the priesthood, they are given the highest grip of the Melchizedek priesthood. The penalty for revealing this oath and grip is to have the heart torn out, cut up in small pieces and given to the fowls of the air. The grip is given by the candidates clasping each other around the hand with the point of the index finger resting on the wrist and the little fingers linked firmly together.

Elmira Oath

The oath and grip given, the men with clasped hands form a circle about the altar, the women, with faces covered, forming another circle, and the officiating priest prays for the destruction of the government and the death of those in authority. Those who know say that Mormon missionaries laboring among the ignorant in order to convince them of the power of their church use as an argument that God granted their prayers for the death of those in authority by permitting the assassination of Lincoln and Garfield. the prayer ended, the candidates are taken into still another room, across which stretches a large screen, called “The Veil” and which to novitiates are informed is in imitation of the veil in Solomon’s temple. Through a rent in the screen the male candidates are conducted in turn into the “holy of holies”.

Approach the Veil

Each candidate is taken to the rent by a priest who knocks. The knock is answered by Saint Peter, who asks, “Who is there”? The priest for the candidate replies: “Adam being faithful desires to enter”. The candidate embraces Peter, whispers his celestial name into the ears of the saint and passes through the rent in the veil into “Heaven”. Here he finds Elohim, Jehovah, Christ and their celestial attendants. In “Heaven” all Mormon marriage ceremonies are consummated. The candidate if he desires to marry, and all marriages contracted outside of the church, as before stated are counted null and void until ratified in the Endowments, is now taken before Jehovah and instructed by the conducting priest, informs him that his is lonely and feels the need of the companionship of a woman or two. Jehovah replies: “It is not good for man to live alone; I will make helpmeets for him”.

The candidate is taken to two small openings in the veil and there meets his intended wife who has been led up by Eve. The couple are told to embrace while the bride repeats after Eve a formula too foul and disgusting for print. Then Eve leads the bride to the opening through which the bridegroom has entered. Peter demands, “Who is there?” Eve replies: “Eve, who having been faithful desires to enter”. She is ushered in and if the groom is to be sealed to other wives, they gain admission in the same way. Nearly all marriages performed in Mormon temples are polygamous, first wives being taught that their husband’s salvation can only be secured by a plurality of wives and being threatened with the fate of the apostate if she refuses to submit to “the divine order of things”.


The groom and his intended brides having all gained entrance into “Heaven” they are taken to a table where are seated Elohim, Jehovah and Christ where the names, birthplaces and ages of the groom and brides are entered in a large register. A copy of the register entrances on a slip of paper is handed the groom and he is told to proceed to the “Sealing Room” and be married to his several wives “for time and eternity by the order of heaven”. Let it be assumed for descriptive purposes that the party to pass through the “Sealing Room” is composed of a man his legal wife and prospective bride. On entering the man presents the register transcript to the priest at the marriage altar who bids the man and his companions be seated. After examining the transcript, the priest orders the trio to rise and face him. The man is first sealed to his legal wife, and then the priest asks the wife: “Are you willing to give this woman to your husband to be his lawful wedded wife for time and for all eternity? If you are you will manifest it by placing her right hand in the right hand of your husband”. The wife does as commanded and the couple are wedded, the bride in her responses to the priest promising to submit to the practice of polygamy by her husband. The priest gives the husband and wives the blessing of the priesthood and the ceremonies are over.


Such, substantially as I have described them are the Endowment ceremonies of the Mormon church. The disclosures of Mr. Jarman I have substantiated and verified by interviews with James McGuffie, Henry Lawrence, C.C. Cobb and other prominent apostates. Some differ as to details, but all agree as to the essential points. These Endowment ceremonies furnish a more powerful indictment against Mormonism then could be framed by its enemies. They throw into bold relief its treacherous treasonable and murderous nature and show what a great work the government has yet to perform in Utah. With the countless crimes of violence and rapine, and the soul breaking, abject slavery of women which have had their origin in the Endowment oaths I shall deal in future letters.

Author: Patrick