From BoAP Archives: Who is Iscah?

This originally appeared a few years ago at BCC. Since it’s Old Testament times in Sunday School, I thought this curiosity might be fun for you.

Abraham’s family life is the stuff of Jew, Gentile, and Mormon legend. But, I’m not going to break into that territory much. It’s too complex and I don’t have the mental space for it now. But, who is Iscah? The name appears once in the Hebrew Bible, just after the genealogy of Abram:
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LaJean Carruth Reveals the “Lost Sermons”

LaJean Carruth is an expert in nineteenth-century shorthand systems that played a role in Mormon note-keeping, particularly in the Utah period. (LaJean has also given us the heretofore unexpanded notes of the August 1844 succession meetings as well.) Given my own interest in Mormon sermon-making, I find her work absolutely fascinating. Moreover, it is not restricted to library rats like me: The Church History Library has done a wonderful service in providing us access to LaJean’s work. Here is an example http://eadview.lds.org/findingaid/viewer?pid=IE1772001&pds_handle=

The Errorists

When the Mormons embarked on the business of publishing God’s new revelation to the world, the Book of Mormon, they joined an already teeming effort by American Protestants of various stripes to convert the New World to Christian belief (and practice). The largest efforts involved the American Bible Society (ABS) and the related but different American Tract Society (ATS). By the time the Mormons came on the scene, their combined efforts resulted in billions of pages each year. Read more of this post

Succession Angst Circa 1849

The idea that leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would stay in the Joseph Smith Jr family was embedded in the minds of long time American Mormons. After all, they had lived this idea, from the Smith brothers involvement in all levels of leadership, to revelations that hinted at various sorts of primogeniture, ancient and modern. Royalty might have been a dirty word in early national America, but it’s a natural impulse attested in so many ways. Some early critics of the Nauvoo apostles tell a story of real confusion, worry, and wonder at how the royal family of Mormonism was to continue.
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Books and Printing and Mormons. Part 7.

Paper, was a product of Chinese invention. The process was driven by human labor of course and didn’t become machine powered until water mills came on line in Medieval times. Making paper requires a material base consisting of suitable fibers. Water provides the ability to defuse the material through mechanical action like pounding it with wooden or metal tools. The resulting slurry can be spread over a draining screen and when dry, paper results.
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Books and Printing and Mormons. Part 6.

Up until about a century ago, type was set (composed) by hand. This was an art. The type had to be set as the mirror image of the desired document for obvious geometrical reasons.
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Nauvoo Food Budget ~1844

So, feeding a family of five in Nauvoo, 1844. How much would it cost you? Here is a very rough approximation, assuming you could buy this stuff at market prices, and assuming these were fairly uniform (both false economies).

Butcher: 2lbs per day at 10 cents per pound: $1.40
Barrel of flour, $5.00, lasts about 8 weeks: 0.63
Butter, 2lbs, 31.5 cents per pound: 0.63
Potatoes, .5 bushel: 0.50
Sugar, 4 lbs at 8 cents a pound: 0.32
Coffee and Tea (yes they did use it): 0.25
Milk, 2 cents per day: 0.14
Salt, pepper, vinegar, starch, soap, soda
yeast, cheese, eggs 0.40
Total for the week: abt. $4.27.

Most in Nauvoo had gardens and these would supplement vegetable intake, though mainly the poor ate vegetables. Many had milk cows so milk and butter came at the price of effort and feed stock.

In a city, other living expenses (clothes, housing and other similar expenses) might total about $6.00. So for the week, cost of living was roughly $10.00.

Let’s say you’re a day laborer. What percentage of wages went to retail food in a week: about 80%. By 1860 this was about 75%. By 1900, about 45%. By 1930, 15%. Food got cheaper.

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