Farmington Rock Chapel, Davis County, Utah
The Primary, an organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was formally established on August 11, 1878 in this stone chapel located in Farmington, Utah. The concept of the Primary organization originated with Aurelia Spencer Rogers, a Farmington resident and mother of twelve children. Sister Rogers saw a need to train and nurture younger children in the gospel. She had noticed inappropriate behaviors manifested by many of the children of parents who had been driven from various states, suffered much while crossing the Plains, and who were then struggling to make a living.
The need for improvement seemed to be greater in the boys more than in the girls. “The girls were more likely to be “modestly memorizing scriptures” while the boys were “playing cards and attending parties ‘with their hair uncombed, wearing their dirty overalls, without coats, and their breath smelling horribly of whiskey and tobacco.’” Moreover, Aurelia felt that some of the boys were “deserving of the designation ‘hoodlum.’ Additionally, some children were guilty of ‘carelessness in the extreme, not only in regard to religion, but also morality.” She wondered, “What will our girls do for good husbands, if this state of things continues?”
Such concerns of Aurelia Spencer Rogers were shared with Eliza R. Snow and other women leaders. Aurelia asked, “Could there not be an organization for little boys, have them trained to make better men?” Formal organization for such a program required priesthood authorization which was soon extended by President John Taylor. At that time, he presided over the Church as President of the Quorum of the Twelve. The first Primary meeting was held in the Farmington Rock Chapel on Sunday, August 11 (some sources say August 25), 1878, with 224 children attending. That meetinghouse was constructed during the period of 1862-63 and was dedicated in January 1864 by Elder Wilford Woodruff.
So, beginning in 1878, Aurelia presided over the first ward Primary organization in the Church. She served in that capacity for seven years. Along the way she encountered frustrations and discouragement, even wondering at times if she had failed. Among other challenges, she felt that there could have been more support from the parents who wanted their sons working at home rather than in a meeting. Aurelia later served in stake Primary organizations as well as other assignments with Sister Louie B. Felt at the general level. Sister Felt, the first general president of the Primary, served in that calling for more than 40 years. Now, more than 130 years later, this organization for children has spread all over the Church with approximately one million attending.
A large mural (above) painted by Lynn Fausett commemorating the 63rd anniversary of the Primary was added to the back wall of the original chapel in 1941. That meeting space was converted to a multi-purpose room sometime after a new chapel was added to the original building in 1980.
Map and Directions
The Farmington Rock Chapel is a functioning meeting place of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It houses three wards (local ecclesiastical units) and is open to the public when in use on Sundays and at other times during the week.
Articles & Resources
RoseAnn Benson, in Richard E. Turley Jr. and Brittany A. Chapman, eds., Women of Faith, Volume Two, 1821-1845, 305-314.
Claudia L. Bushman, in Ronald W. Walker and Doris R. Dant, eds., Nearly Everything Imaginable: The Everyday Life of Utah’s Mormon Pioneers, 308-309.
Gordon B. Hinckley, Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley, Vol. 2, 469-470.
Kenneth R. Mays, in https://www.thechurchnews.com/history-revisited/2021-05-09/women-9-church-history-challenges-photos-amanda-barnes-smith-ellis-shipp-eliza-carter-snow-212444