Mormon Trail AssociationMormon Trail AssociationKimball - Whitney Cemetery


(First of two private cemeteries left in the city)

Owner: LDS Church
Address: 180 N Main Street, SLC (middle of block north of LDS Church Office Bldg)
Directions: Enter east from Main Street on path between Kimball and Deseret Apartments or west from State Street on Gordon Place (see brick pillars on curb strip).
Burials: 53
Size: Small
Established: 1848; First Burial: 1848

The first plot of ground in Salt Lake Valley formally dedicated as a burial ground was the little cemetery known as the Kimball & Whitney Cemetery. It was on the hill back of the old Kimball homestead which faced Main Street. In 1848, Heber Chase Kimball, and Newel Kimball Whitney dedicated this sacred spot of ground to the Lord as a private cemetery for the two families. Ann Houston Whitney's remains were the first to be buried there in November, 1848. Her husband was the sixth, having died two years later. Heber C. Kimball, also his wives, Vilate, and Ellen Saunders Kimball, one of the first three pioneer women to enter Salt Lake Valley are here. There are about thirty-five Kimballs, fifteen Whitneys and eleven hired help and friends buried here.

In the fall of 1848, Heber and Newell K. Whitney dedicated this sacred spot of ground to the Lord as a private cemetery for the two families. Newell whitney's family occupied land where the Church Relief Society building is located on the northwest corner of Main and North Temple Streets.

Newell's wife, Ann Houston "Mother" Whitney was the first to be buried here, November of 1848. Two years later, Newell, himself, became the 6th person to occupy the cemetery. Heber, Vilate, and Ellen Sanders Kimball, one of the first 3 women to enter the valley, are buried here. There are 56 persons resting in the cemetery: 33 Kimballs, 13 Whitneys, and 10 others, including hired help, friends, and 2 Indians.

When Solomon Kimball returned from Arizona in 1886, he found the cemetery in a neglected condition. There was no fence around it. Nine-tenths of the graves could not be identified. Worse yet, the property was in the hands of 4 different people, each of whom was determined to commercialize it. Soon after, he found that it had been sold for taxes. He took matters in hand and discovered an old territorial law that exempted all burial places from taxation. He did not cease his labors until the titles were in possession of the Kimball family and a right-of-way was obtained to Main Street. A good iron fence was placed around the property. Four of the lots which belonged to Heber C. Kimball's estate were found which had been overlooked by the administrators. Proceeds from the sale of these lots brought $3,000 which was used to beautify and improve the cemetery. Lawn and beautiful evergreen trees were planted and a caretaker, John Drakeford, hired. Mr. Drakeford served in this capacity for many years. Solomon went before the city council who granted the perpetual right to allow the honored dead to remain there on condition that the family improve, beautify, and take care of this piece of property and allow no more internments to be made there.

Solomon F. Kimball was manager and custodian of the Kimball & Whitney Cemetery for 25 years. During that time it was kept up by donations from members of the Kimball and Whitney families. Annual reports were mailed to members of the families listing donations and expenditures and each contained poems, photographs and short sketches of those buried in the cemetery. Alice Kimball and Annie Kimball Knox, daughters of Heber, were the next custodians, followed by Joseph Kimball, then J. Golden Kimball. It was through the efforts of J. Golden that the Latter-day Saints assumed perpetual care of the Kimball & Whitney Cemetery.

Heber Chase Kimball

Heber was one of the orginal pioneers of Utah. He was ordained an Apostle February 14, 1835, under the hands of Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris. After helping to establish the head-quarters of the Church in Great Salt Lake Valley, he returned with Pres. Brigham Young to Winter Quarters, and when the presidency of the Church was reorganized on Dec. 24, 1847, Brother Kimball was selected and set apart as first counselor to Pres. Brigham Young, which position he held until his death (1868). According to the federal census, in 1850 Heber had a household of nine, a real wealth of 12,000 and no personal wealth. In 1860 Heber had a household of 68, and no wealth.

Heber had 45 wives, but children by only seventeen of them. He had forty-five sons (sixteen named Heber) and twenty daughters. He married five sets of sisters. (Some Mormons hoped sororal polygamy would lead to greater domestic harmony.) Fourteen of his wives had been married previously. At the time of marriage, nine of his wives were in their teens, seventeen in their twenties, five in their thirties, nine in their forties, and three in their fifties. Sixteen wives separated from him during his lifetime for various reasons, but none of his widows remarried after his death. Forty-one children and at least twenty-one wives survived him.

Heber was a man of industry, a man of virtue, of denial, who would sooner have thought of severing his right hand from his body, than to have cherished an unchaste sentiment, or sacrificed a principle to sin or selfish ease. He was often heard to declare that the plural order of marriage, with its manifold cares and perplexities, had cost him "bushels of tears." Yet his was an exemplary family--as much so as any in all Israel, polygamous or otherwise. His wives, who referred to him as "Mr. Kimball," loved each other as sisters, and dwelt together in peace and unity; while his children, especially the males, sons of various mothers, clung together with an affection all but clannish in its intensity.

At October Conference, 1849, Heber introduced the subject of the Perpetual Immigration Fund Company, which was forthwith organized. During the famine of 1856 he fed hundreds from his provisions, having to put his own family on short rations to feed those who were destitute. Sent his sons William H. and David P. with wagons of food and bedding in connection with the relief corps to assist the belated handcart companies caught in the early snows along the Platte and Sweetwater rivers.

When his beloved wife, Vilate, passed away, he told her he wouldn't be far behind. He wasn't, dying a few months after she did.

Newell Kimball Whitney and wife, Elizabeth Ann Smith

Newell K. Whitney was born Feb. 5, 1795. Settling at Painesville, Ohio, he fell in with a merchant named Algernon Sidney Gilbert, who, recognizing his business qualifications, took him into his store as clerk and gave him some knowledge of bookkeeping. Several years he was a partner in the mercantile firm of Gilbert & Whitney headquartered at Kirtland.

After joining the Mormon church, Newell provided Joseph and Emma Smith a place to live in his store in Kirtland, Ohio, where a number of revelations were received and the School of the Prophets was held. He became the 2nd presiding bishop in the Church until his death.

On the first day of April, 1832, Bishop Whitney left Kirtland, in company with President Smith, on the latter's second visit to Missouri. They arrived in safety at their destination, and having transacted the business which took them thither, started from Independence on their return, the 6th of May ensuing. Between Vincennes, Indiana, and New Albany, near the falls of the Ohio, the horses of the coach on which they were traveling, took fright and ran away. While going at full speed, Bishop Whitney and the Prophet leaped from the vehicle. The latter cleared the wheels and landed in safety, but his companion, having his coat fast, caught his foot in the wheel and was thrown to the ground with violence, breaking his leg and foot in several places. This accident delayed them four weeks at a public house in Greenville. Dr. Porter, the landlord's brother, who set the broken limb, remarked, little thinking who the travelers were, that it was "a pity they did not have some 'Mormons' there, as they could set broken bones or do anything else." Joseph administered to his friend, and he recovered rapidly.

They had fallen, it seems, into suspicious if not dangerous hands. In walking through the woods adjacent to the tavern, the Prophet's attention had been attracted by several newly-made graves. His suspicion, though not thoroughly aroused, was brooding over this circumstance when an incident occurred to emphasize it. After dinner, one day, he was seized with a violent attack of vomiting, accompanied by profuse hemorrhage. His jaw became dislocated through the violence of his contortions, but he replaced it with his own hands, and making his way to the bedside of Bishop Whitney, was administered to by him, and instantly healed. The effect of the poison, which had been mixed with his food, was so powerful as to loosen much of the hair of his head.

The friendship and intimacy existing between the Prophet and Bishop Whitney was strengthened and intensified by the giving in marriage to the former of the latter's eldest daughter, seventeen-year-old Sarah. She was the first woman, in this dispensation, given in plural marriage by and with the consent of both parents. Her father himself officiated in the ceremony.

From Winter Quarters in the spring of 1847, two of his sons, Horace K. and Orson K., went west with the Pioneers. He remained, having charge in conjunction with Isaac Morley, of emigrational matters on the frontier.

Other Early Burials

Willard Richards Burial Ground

Rhoda Richards Stevenson wrote concerning this burial place. (Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 20, p.138)
"I well remember our Grandfather Willard Richards' private burial ground. Our home was on the lot assigned to Willard Richards when city property was distributed among the pioneers. It was the east half of the block on the west side of Main Street between South Temple and First South streets. When Grandfather died in 1854 he was buried in the plot that had been set apart for that purpose near the middle of this property. Our family home was nearby the burial enclosure which was familiar to us as we children played about there. The fence, the lilac bushes, the brick-bordered walk and the flowering pinks are a definite memory. Three of his wives and several children also had been buried there. In the spring of 1890 when my father, Dr. Heber John Richards, was planning to take his family to Europe and his brothers Joseph and Willard were contemplating the opening of Richards Street, it was decided to remove the graves to the lot in the City Cemetery.

"As a little girl going to school in the Eagle Gate schoolhouse, I remember going home one noon and seeing men taking the remains from the opened graves and placing them in the new box. As a braid of blond hair was placed in the box I was troubled as to how each person would ever get his own remains together again. To my husband's father, Edward Stevenson, was assigned the lot on the corner of First South and First West streets and there in the west end of that lot were buried the remains of four little ones. These remains also were later taken up and reinterred in our own family lot in the City Cemetery."

An interesting story in connection with a burial on a private lot is that of the disposition of the remains of Phoebe Morton Angell, mother of Mary Ann Angell Young. She died in 1854, just six years after her arrival in Utah, and was buried on the property of her son Truman O. Angell, Sr., whose home spot at that time was situated on the northeast corner of 1st South and State streets, extending north near Motor (Social Hall) Avenue. A few years ago, as workmen were excavating at this site, some bones were unearthed. Some said there was a murder mystery to be solved, but Richard W. Young, a grandson of Brigham Young, came forward with the information that his great-grandmother, Phoebe Morton Angell had been buried there. The bones were collected and placed in the Ensign family burial plot in the City Cemetery.

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