Sunday, October 11, 2009

Edwin Q. Cannon

My grandfather, Edwin Quayle Cannon (Ed), was the son of George Q. Cannon and his third wife, Eliza L. Tenney Cannon. He was born on the Cannon farm near the Jordan River in Salt Lake City on September 7, 1886, the 29th out of George Q. Cannon’s 33 natural children. At the time of his birth, federal agents were subpoenaing the wives of polygamists into court to testify against their husbands and on several occasions, to avoid the agents, Eliza took Ed into her arms and hid in the willows along the banks of the Jordan River.

Ed had five half-brothers who were close to his age. One of them, Clawson, told of the boys rafting and boating on the pond, playing on an old abandoned water wheel in the Jordan River, and the swimming hole where their father often swam with them. They had parties and dances frequently, a ‘really good’ tennis court, and always enough boys to form two teams for 'Rounders’ (a game similar to softball). Each child had chores to do. Each boy was assigned a number of cows to milk and take care of, according to their age and ability. He had to separate and care for his portion of the milk and the last one done had the job of cleaning out the separator. The boys were also responsible for keeping the barns clean. Ed said that his mother always kept a cow and taught him how to milk it when he was about six years old.

Ed’s mother, Eliza, was very independent. In 1895 or 1896 she took Ed with her on the train to Taylor, Arizona to visit with the family of her older brother, Warren Tenney. In about 1899 she took him back to Philadelphia to see his older brother William graduate from Medical School. George Q. did not want Eddie to go on two such choice trips, foreseeing correctly that the boys his age in the other families would demand similar favors. But Eliza took Eddie anyway and George Q. had to pacify the other boys by taking them on some of his own trips.

George Q. Cannon died on April 12, 1901 when Ed was 14. After attending LDS High School, Ed worked as a telegraph operator for the D&RG Railroad, Union Pacific Railroad and Western Union. This work required him to live in several different locations, including Thistle, Utah, Cokeville, Wyoming and Weiser, Idaho. He returned to Salt Lake to attend the University of Utah and, while there, received his call to the German Mission, where he served from 1907 to 1910, just four years before the beginning of World War I. Eliza, died while he was on his mission, on April 16, 1908. At the conclusion of his mission Ed and his brother, Wilf, and two other missionaries who were released at the same time, made the “Grand Tour,” touring much of Europe, then on to Turkey, Greece, Egypt and Palestine. Ed corresponded with Luella Wareing on his mission and eventually married her on June 21, 1911 in the Salt Lake Temple. Joseph Fielding Smith, a new apostle at the time, performed the ceremony.

Their first home was on South Temple, just east of 5th East. They started building a home at 231 D Street which they moved into when it was completed. On the advice of his older brother, William, and with the help of funds from his father’s estate, Ed bought an interest in the Salt Lake Stamp Company. He became its President and manager and remained so for nearly forty years. His sons Ted and Bill later followed him into the business. Ed was one of the founders of the Business Men’s Alliance, and of the Executives Association of Salt Lake City. He was a charter member of the Salt Lake Kiwanis Club. He was on the Advisory Board for the Salvation Army and was involved with the Boys Clubs.

He was encouraged to run for the Utah Legislature by J. Reuben Clark of the First Presidency of the LDS Church and Albert E. Bowen of the Quorum of the Twelve. He was elected and served three terms.

Ed was later elected as a Salt Lake County Commissioner and served from 1954 to 1964. While a Commissioner, he helped influence the building of the Salt Palace in downtown Salt Lake and the building of Sugarhouse Park on the site of the old State Penitentiary where his father was incarcerated for unlawful cohabitation.

Ed was Bishop of the Ensign 20th Ward from 1938 to 1940. In December 1940, he was released as Bishop and was called to serve as President of the Ensign Stake, where he served until October 1949. He served as President of the West German Mission from November 1950 to November 1953. He later served as a sealer in the Salt Lake Temple for a number of years.

Ed loved animals. The children always had cats and dogs, and chickens, rabbits and ducks at various times. For a while they had a family of goats that were a gift from Uncle William. Ted also had a monkey and won a parrot from a radio station contest. This love of animals was passed down to the children, especially Ted.

Ed’s family was extremely important to him. He loved having them around. They took their children on many of their trips and included their family in most of their activities. Their home was a gathering place for the extended family. Tradition was important and many traditions were established. For example, on Christmas Eve the family would meet at their home about 5:00 in the evening. Luella’s parents were there and her brothers and sisters and their families who were living in Salt Lake were always included. There was always an abundance of good food to eat. As more grandchildren came along and were growing up, there were often re-enactments of the nativity scene, as well as performances on various musical instruments as different children were taking music lessons. Then presents would be exchanged. While Luella’s parents were living, Christmas Day afternoon was spent at their home. There was always a big Christmas dinner. New Year’s Day meant a big dinner at Luella’s sister’s home.

Ed and Luella took the grandchildren (and their parents) to the Circus when it came to town, to the Days of ’47 Parades and the Zoo and to see the trains down behind the Union Pacific Depot, or simply for a ride in the evening to get an ice cream cone, or to follow a dirt road somewhere to see where it went. While Ed was president of the Ensign Stake, the grandchildren were included in trips to the Stake Farm out along the Jordan River to help pull weeds, pick corn, or thin beets.

Labor Day was another day for a family get-together to celebrate Ed’s birthday which was Sept 7th. After the family acquired the ranch in Oakley, this gathering was always held there. The family also gathered at the ranch on the 4th of July. They would attend the parade in Oakley in the morning. The spot to sit and watch the parade became a tradition which is still followed by some family members. They would then either have a big lunch at the ranch or, on occasion, would go to the Oakley Ward for a speech and lunch. When the grandchildren were young, many of them participated in the Childrens Rodeo, winning chickens or a pig, or getting thrown from a calf. Nearly forty years after Ed’s death, the family still has a reunion at the ranch on or near the 4th of July.

After the Villa Theater opened, Ed would take the whole family, including the grandchildren to the big movies that opened there, including “Around the World in 80 Days,” the Cinerama shows, and The Ten Commandments.

Ed had a love for adventure. He bought a car not too long after he was married and enjoyed driving and getting out in the country. When their family was young they often went camping over the 4th of July. In 1920 when Ted was just two months old they were camping and fishing up in Daniels Canyon for the 4th of July holiday. And in 1921 they were up American Fork Canyon.

He loved to hunt and fish. He went deer, pheasant and duck hunting every year, and rabbit hunting if everything else was out of season. He liked to go down to Utah Lake to Pelican Point and go fishing for catfish, often taking Luella and the children with him, and in later years, taking some of the grandchildren. Early on he started what became a traditional rabbit hunt on Armistice Day (now Veterans Day) and all the men who worked for him at Salt Lake Stamp would go. This tradition lasted for many years. While serving in the State Legislature, he drew out in the annual antelope license lottery. He took Ted and Bill along and they went up into Daggett County where he bagged a 210-pound buck. They made the approximate 500 mile trip in Ted’s small Crosley automobile, bringing the big antelope home with them and meriting a picture in the newspaper. In the caption under the picture, the reporter stated “Rep. Cannon is one of the most ardent fish and game boosters on the current legislative roster.”
He had guns in their home and taught all of his children to shoot. He set up a shooting range in their basement where they could practice. When Mary was in her teens, he bought her a little .25 caliber pistol which he taught her to shoot and wanted her to carry it in her purse, which she refused to do. A number of his grandchildren used to borrow his .22 rifle to go rabbit hunting.

In June, 1921 he piled his family and all the camping gear and food into the car for a trip to the Grand Canyon. He made two long wooden boxes to fit on the running boards of the car to hold all their equipment. They went to Bryce and Zion Canyons and then down to the Grand Canyon. On the way back the car broke down on the Kaibab Plateau. Someone came along and towed them into Kanab where they had to camp for three weeks waiting for the part to fix the car to come from Salt Lake.

In the summer of 1929, Ed and the family took five weeks to drive back to Rhode Island and back. That will be the subject of a later blog.

At least one summer while the children were all still at home, they went to Monticello to vacation with the McConkie family. Mary often told about this trip. While there they went on a camping trip up into the Abajo (or Blue) Mountains. They made up one big long bedroll and all of them (both families) slept in this one bed.

There were a number of other visits to Southern Utah over the years. In 1947 Ted had been invited to run the Colorado River from Moab down to Lees Ferry with the Hatch Brothers. They were going to put into the River at Moab on July (4th or 24th) and Ed and Luella decided to go down and camp with them the night before and see them off. They stopped in to visit Mary and Bob the night before they were going to leave, and invited them to come also. The answer was ‘no’. But apparently after Ed and Luella had left and the Barnes children had been put to bed, Bob and Mary talked it over again and decided to go. They woke the children early the next morning and got everything ready and left. Everybody camped on the old sand dunes just north of the river. The next morning they got the boats in the water and everything loaded, and took off down the river. The Hatch brothers filmed the trip, and the film later won an award at a film festival.

In 1956, Ed and Luella, with Ed’s niece, Marjorie Pingree, her husband Fred, and son, John, drove to Guatamala to pick up the Pingree’s oldest son at the completion of his mission.

During the summer of 1957, Ed and Luella took the entire family to Yellowstone. Each of their children, married and with five children of their own, had a station wagon. Ed & Luella took turns riding with each family. The first night they camped in Logan Canyon. Then on to Grand Teton National Park where they camped at a new campground at Colter Bay. Ed took the whole family on a cruise of the lake. They then went to Yellowstone. Ed would feed the bears out of the car window despite Luella continuing to remind him not to feed the bears.

In 1964, Ed and Luella took a trip to the Holy Land over Easter. Afterwards, Ted and Mary met them in Rome and together they spent a month or two touring Europe in a car Ted and Mary picked up in Germany. They were able to visit Mary’s daughter, Kathryn, serving in the French Mission, then working in Paris. They toured Switzerland, Germany, England and the Isle of Man.

A year or two later, Ed and Luella decided to take a tour of the Pacific Rim. They invited Ted and Janath to go with them. Janath went with them to Hawaii, then returned home, while Ted accompanied them for the entire trip. They spent time in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan.

In the 1930’s when B. H. Roberts’ “History of the Church” was first published, Vida Fox Clawson, who was a widow at the time, was selling the book. She approached Ed and Luella and asked them to arrange a study group to study that history. They invited a group of friends to their home for the first meeting, which was also attended by both B. H. Roberts and Vida. Judge Oscar McConkie and his wife, and Mr. and Mrs. Henry D. Moyle were among the members of the group. They decided to meet monthly at the various homes. The hostess would provide the refreshments and the Host would give the lesson. Then Bryant S. Hinckley joined the group. He enjoyed giving the lesson, and so was invited to be the teacher. The group finally became too large to meet in the homes so they started meeting at the Lion House. It attracted many of the Church leaders. When Spencer W. Kimball was President of the Church, he and his wife were usually in attendance as were both his counselors, Marion G. Romney and N. Eldon Tanner and their wives. When Leonard Arrington joined the group he would give a short historical sketch at the beginning of each lesson up to the time he died.

Ed and Luella lived at 231 D Street for the rest of their lives. All three of their children, Edwin Q. Cannon, Jr. (Ted), William W. Cannon and Mary Barnes were born and raised there and Ed and Luella both died there (Ed on August 3, 1971, when I was 14).

The vast majority of this information was put together by my cousin, Mary Pearson, the daughter of Mary Cannon Barnes, our family historian.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. It's great to know Grandfather Ed Q was such a gun enthusiast. I must have gotten that gene.

  3. The wooden boxes used as running boards on the trip to the Grand Canyon were later used by my dad to grow indoor winter tomatoes along the big windows in our dining room.