Another Utah Pioneer Dead
Bishop Frederick Kesler Passes Away After a Long Sickness.

Had Been Ill for Months
Was Well and Widely Known Throughout Utah and Elsewhere
An Active and Useful Career.

Another Utah Pioneer and octogenarian has answered the final summons and surrendered up his life in the battle for earthly existence. This time the honored veteran is Bishop Frederick Kesler of the Sixteenth ward, who passed away today at this residence, surrounded by his family and immediate friends.

It cannot be said that the angel of death invaded his home without warning, for he has been in a precarious state for days, preceded by a severe illness, which covered a period of several months. The announcement of his demise, though, will be learned with regret by very many persons. His closing of life were full of pain and suffering, caused by troubles of a neuralgiac character. His career has ever been a busy and useful one. His last thirty-six hours on earth were painless and peaceful, his life gradually ebbing away. He breathed his last at 1:10 o’clock this afternoon.


Bishop Frederick Kesler was born at Meadville, Penn., January 20, 1816, and was left an orphan at a very tender age, and the family became widely separated, not to see each other again till some of them met in old age.

He embraced the “Mormon” faith June, 1840, in Nauvoo, Illinois and became an earnest worker, and was a member of the celebrated Nauvoo Legion and one of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s intimates and body guard. Was driven from his home at the expulsion of the Saints from Nauvoo, and went with them to Winter Quarters, on the banks of the Missouri. He built the ferry boat at Council Bluffs in the spring of 1846 and assisted hundreds of the Saints to cross. He himself arrived in Utah October, 1851, and settled in Salt Lake City: the interval being mostly spent in aiding emigration matters on the frontiers.

He was ordained a Bishop and set apart to preside over the Sixteenth ward April 6, 1858, and faithfully performed the arduous duties of his bishopric up to his death.

Bishop Kesler was a master mechanic and mill builder of the old school, and assisted in the building of five Temples, the one at Nauvoo being the first. He built the first flouring mills in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska; had built mills in ten different States. He constructed the old mill known as the Brigham Young mill, in Liberty Park, Salt Lake City.

Besides his other public labors, he filled two business missions for the Church to the States before railroads ran west of the Mississippi river, one of which was for the procuring of the machinery for the nail and sugar factories.


The funeral will be held at the Sixteenth ward meeting house on Thursday, the 15th inst., at 1 p.m.

The remains of Bishop Kesler may be viewed by his friends at his late residence, 558 west North Temple street, on Thursday morning, the 15th, inst., from 10 a.m. till 12 noon.

[Deseret News, June 12, 1899]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Jan. 2006]


The funeral of the late Bishop Kesler will be held from the Sixteenth ward assembly rooms at one o’clock tomorrow afternoon. Friends desiring to view the remains may do so at the family residence, 558 west North Temple street from 10 a.m. to 12 o’clock noon. His children, some of whom are living in Colorado and California, as well as those who are scattered over the State are expected here tomorrow.

[Deseret News, June 14, 1899]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Jan. 2006]


Bishop Kesler Laid to Rest
Impressive Ceremonies Over the Remains of Respected Dead.

Big Funeral Attendance
Members of the Ward Pay Their Last Respects to the Memory of a Man They Loved.

All that was mortal of the late Frederick Kesler, the aged and venerable Bishop of the Sixteenth ward, was laid tenderly away in the family burial plot in the city cemetery this afternoon. The services were held in the ward meeting house beginning at 1 o’clock—the house in which he had presided for so many years—in which he had been an ardent worshipper and win which he had witnessed the rise and progress of the people under his immediate jurisdiction. The capacious assembly room was thronged with those who had learned to love and respect him and who had now come out to show their regard for his work and memory.

The stand was very neatly draped with white crepe while palms, potted pants and cut flowers were so arranged as to remove much of the otherwise gloomy reminders of death. Beautiful floral tributes, the gifts of many friends, consisting of pillows, wreaths, columns and other designs, almost hid the casket, in which reposed the Bishop’s remains from view.

Elder William Langton, counselor to the late Bishop, presided and the services commenced by the choir tenderly singing, “Farewell all earthly honors.”

The opening prayer was offered by Elder George B. Wallace, after which the choir sang that always beautiful and popular hymn, “O, My Father, thou that dwellest.”

The two hymns sung at the beginning of the services were favorites of Bishop Kesler’s, and it was his request that they be sung at his funeral.

President Joseph F. Smith was the first speaker. With feelings of deep friendship, he said, he spoke a few words at the request of the family. Bishop Kesler, he said, had requested that but a few words be said at this funeral. But it was our custom to meet on such occasions as this, and express our sentiments, and feelings, and confidence and love for the dead. “We are born that we may die,” said President Smith, “and we are born and die that we may live; that is the philosophy of life in a nutshell.” A glowing tribute was paid to the good works and strong faith of the Bishop. “I would to God that I myself, that every many, woman, and child within the hearing of my voice, that all the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that all men, women and children throughout the world, might have as strong a testimony of the truth of the work of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as did our Bishop Kesler; and that they might be as true to that faith as was Bishop Kesler.”

President Smith said that he was desirous of saying that Bishop Kesler had often told him that he was one of the few men who had been chosen by the Prophet Joseph Smith to volunteer to go out West and find a resting place away from the insufferable treatment of mob violence. Other men of this company were Samuel W. Richards and Charles Shumway, now living.

Another thing President Smith desired to say that Bishop Kesler was present when the first corner stone of the Nauvoo House was laid. In this corner stone was placed the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, and some other things. Some individuals today claim that they have the original manuscript. But Bishop Kesler had often said that the original manuscript was, according to the declaration of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the one placed in this corner stone, which manuscript is now in the possession of President Joseph F. Smith.

“I thank God,” concluded President Smith, “that Bishop Kesler has earned the respect and love of all the people of this ward, and that, after being a Bishop for forty-three years, he dies practically without an enemy. He has earned a great reward, and has gone to receive a glorious place in the paradise of God.”

President Angus M. Cannon, an old acquaintance and friend of Bishop Kesler, also spoke by request of the family. He praised the faithful and honorable life of the deceased, and declared that in his labors as a Bishop he was unsurpassed.

Elder Joseph E. Taylor then related some of the incidents about the death of Bishop Kesler, in which the Bishop had declared just before his demise: “Brother Joseph, I am through; I am ready to go.”

Elder Robert T. Burton said feelingly that a great man, a good man, a true man had gone from Israel. For thirty years, as regularly as the rising of the sun in the firmament, Bishop Kesler had called at the end of each month and paid his tithing. “What a glorious thought,” said he, “that a man who has lived the life of this man, may lie down in peace and rest, and pass beyond into the realms of our heavenly Father.”

Elder Geo. R. Emery, second counselor to the deceased, said with deep feelings and in a few words that Bishop Kesler had been a father to him; that he was always the same, always good, always faithful, always a man of God.

Elder Langton, the first counselor, testified to the goodness and faithfulness of the deceased. He was thankful that he had been privileged to know so good a man.

After the choir had sung the hymn, “Nearer my God to Thee,” Apostle Teasdel offered the benediction.

[Deseret News, June 15, 1899]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Jan. 2006]


Events of the Month

By Thomas Hull, Secretary of the General Board of Y.M.M.I.A.

June 12th: Frederick Kesler for forty-three years Bishop of the 16th Ward, Salt Lake City, dies at his residence in said ward.

[Improvement Era, June 1899]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, May 2006]


Return to histories of Frederick Kesler