William Harrison Folsom, Architect

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William Harrison Folsom, Architect's Geni Profile

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About William Harrison Folsom, Architect

Wikipedia Biographical Summary:

"...William Harrison Folsom (1815–1901) was an architect and contractor. He constructed many of the historic buildings in Utah, particularly in Salt Lake City. Folsom is probably best known as a Latter-day Saint ("Mormon") architect. Many of his most prominent works were commissioned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For a time he was sustained as the Church Architect, a calling in the church at the time just as much as a Seventy..."

"...In New York Folsom met his future wife Zervial Eliza Clark who he married at age 22 on August 12, 1837..."

"...In 1860 he finally set out for Salt Lake with a relatively large outfit of four wagon teams. Soon after his October 3 arrival in Salt Lake City the skilled builder opened shop on Main Street downtown. Brigham Young, leader of the Mormons in Utah, put him to work on church projects almost immediately. He was sustained as church architect in the October 1861 LDS General Conference..."

"...Folsom himself drew the plans or was involved in the construction of many historic Utah buildings including the Old Salt Lake Theater, the Salt Lake Tabernacle, the Salt Lake City Council Hall, the Provo Tabernacle, the Provo Theater, the Moroni Tabernacle, and the original ZCMI building in downtown Salt Lake City..."

"...He served some of his last years as an LDS patriarch before his death on March 20, 1901..."

SOURCE: Wikipedia contributors, 'William Harrison Folsom', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 28 January 2011, 03:06 UTC, <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=William_Harrison_Folsom&oldid=410495739> [accessed 16 February 2011]

William Harrison Folsom was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on

March 25, 1815, the son of William and Hannah Skinner Folsom. In early childhood he showed a decided tendency toward mechanical building. At the age of 16 he had shown such capacity that his father, who was a contractor and builder, placed him in charge of a group of 500 men who were working at the docks on the Shore of Lake Erie.

 On August 21, 1837 he married Zerviah Eliza Clark.  William and Zerviah first heard the Gospel at Buffalo, New York and were immediately convinced of its truth.  On February 17, 1842 they were baptized by John P. Green in the Niagara River.  They cut a hole in the ice about six by eight feet with steps leading down into the water, the ice being 28 inches thick. 

The following spring he visited Nauvoo where he became acquainted with Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. He worked as a carpenter and joiner on the Nauvoo temple. He was set apart as a missionary and returned to Buffalo for his family. During this trip he did some electioneering for the Prophet Joseph Smith when he was a candidate for the President of the United States. During his absence from Nauvoo Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were martyred. On his return to Nauvoo he and his family were in the turmoil, death and destruction that were rampant in that place. When the Saints were expelled from Nauvoo he was asked to remain and as a carpenter help finish the temple.

He finally left Nauvoo with several others who were in the depths of poverty, camping on the Mississippi River about three miles from Nauvoo. Night and morning great flocks of quail came to the camp. The Saints took small clubs and threw them at the quail, and in almost every instance killed enough to last them until the next meal.

William and his family moved to a village called Farmington on the Des Moines River. For a time he made wash boards and clothes pins and his wife horse nets which they sold for food. During this time the people in Farmington were very much opposed to the Mormons and often stormed their homes with rocks. One day as he was going after provisions a number of men who had been drinking saw him and said, "Here comes a Mormon." When he reached them they asked him if he was Mormon, to which he replied he didn't think it was any of their business. One of the crowed shouted "Yes, he's a Mormon. I know him." At this point their put a rope around his neck and put it over an awning, drawing him off his feet. They let him down and asked him again if he was a Mormon. He replied that he was and they pulled him up again. This torture was repeated again, this time leaving him hanging. One of the men who had not been present at the hanging was passing the spot and saw the body dangling, the tongue protruding from the mouth and the eyes set. He immediately lowered the body and took the rope from around his neck, and carried him across the street to the banks of the Des Moines River. In time he regained consciousness and started for home.

After moving to Keokuk, Iowa William H. Folsom was employed to go to California by way of Cape Horn. This journey took over 5 months during which he continually preached the Gospel to the passengers. He carried on a building business for over two years and returned to his family with over $10,000 in gold. He went with his family to Buffalo where he spent a short time with father, brothers and sisters. When he was ready to go back to Keokuk he went to the docks on Lake Erie. As he was about to purchase his tickets a voice said to him, "Don't go on that boat." He continued to count his money, again the voice spoke to him still louder. He returned to his father and told him that he had decided to stay another day. The next morning word was received that boat had run into another boat and sank drowning all but two passengers.

In 1854 he fitted himself out to go to Salt Lake, but arrived in Council Bluffs ten days after the last company left. He remained in Council Bluffs six years. Here he held the position of Branch President of the Church. He again fitted himself with four wagons, three ox teams, and one horse arriving in the valley October 3, 1860.

Arriving in Salt Lake City his ability was sought by the great pioneer Brigham Young. While it was Brigham Young who conceived the idea of the Tabernacle, William Harrison Folsom took his suggestions, drew the plans and laid the foundation. He was architect for the Church during Truman O. Angel's mission to England and France. For most of thirty years he was in the employ of the Church during which time he was architect of the Salt Lake Theatre, Provo Theatre and Tabernacle, and the Manti temple.

Other historical buildings he was responsible for were the Old City Hall, the Wells Fargo Bank, the original ZCMI building, the Deseret National Bank on Main Street, the John T. Caine home on 'B' Street, the Siegle home on east First South and the Feramorz Little Mansion. He also was the architect of Amelia's Palace for his daughter Amelia who was a wife of Brigham Young.

A few years before his death he was ordained a Patriarch. He passed away on March 20, 1901 at the age of 86.

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William Harrison Folsom, Architect's Timeline

March 25, 1815
Portsmouth, Rockingham, New Hampshire, United States
August 23, 1838
Buffalo, Erie, New York, USA
September 1, 1841
Buffalo, Erie, New York
February 17, 1842
Age 26
February 29, 1844
Nauvoo, Hancock, IL, United States
January 8, 1846
Age 30
February 17, 1849
Keokuk, Lee County, Iowa, United States
September 20, 1853
Keokuk, Lee, Iowa
October 9, 1855
Council Bluffs, Pttwtt, Iowa