Nathaniel H Felt
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Nathaniel Felt NHF

Nathaniel H Felt lived an abundant and fruitful life of service to his family, church and community.  Although he is not a "famous" figure in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he is a fine example of someone willing to sacrifice almost everything for the causes he loved most.  Born at Salem, Massachusetts in 1816 he got a liberal start in an environment that groomed him for a prosperous future.  Mr. Felt was one of Brigham Young's closest associates, and was entrusted with Young's daughter Vilate in 1844 (Vilate was sent to Salem for educational opportunities).  From his service as pastor of London, a defender of Nauvoo, as an active emigration agent for his church in the United States and Europe, as Conference President in St. Louis, to his calling as Assistant Presiding Bishop and many other assignments, Nathaniel Felt made his own mark on the Restoration.  Now his many descendants dedicate this website to his memory and legacy.
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Open Letters to the Felt Family

October 22, 2008

Dear Felts and Allied Families:

Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star Vol. 33, No. 32, Page 505, published 8 Aug 1871

“An Honest Testimony”

Salt Lake Tabernacle 1871     It will be remembered, by many of our citizens, that a few months since a clergyman of the Unitarian persuasion, Reverend J. C. Kimball, delivered a discourse in the Tabernacle.  He was from Beverly, Mass., and we have been permitted to peruse an article from his pen, headed “A Winter Trip Across the Continent,” which appeared in one of the papers of that place; and as it was somewhat of a novelty for “one of the cloth” to speak in a kindly way about the “Mormons,” and consequently refreshing, we present an extract from the article.

     It may be well to state that Mr. N. H. Felt is the “original Mormon” alluded to by the reverend gentleman.  Mr. Kimball, in conversation with Mr. F., expressed his gratification at witnessing the many good qualities manifested by the “Mormons” and said he would always speak well of them.  Mr. Felt jocularly told him that he was afraid he would be like a certain minister from Cheyenne, who stated publically here that when he returned from that place he would fire a big gun in defense of “Mormon” Christianity, but from him had never emanated the sound of a small pea gun in that direction.  The following is the extract—

     “Enjoyed especially my visit to Salt Lake City.  Had letters of introduction only to a Gentile there, not of much use for seeing the real curiosities of the place; but was so fortunate as to fall in, the morning of my arrival, with an original Mormon, formerly from Salem, acquainted with scores of people I knew at home and anxious to make inquiries about his old friends, who with great good nature invited me to his house, gave me introductions to the Mormon Elders, and showed me the Tabernacle, Temple, Theatre, Museum, house of Brigham Young, and not a few of the less material wonders of the city.

Nathaniel H. Felt Family House 1867     Accepted an invitation Sunday morning to preach in their Tabernacle, ‘as full-blooded a Unitarian sermon as I pleased’ they said, ‘and the more so the better,’ as they meant to be truly liberal’ and ‘wanted their young folks to hear all sides.’  It was a lovely day, and I had an audience of over three thousand—men, women, children and babies, for nobody seemed to have stayed at home to rock the cradle or get dinner—as intelligent, attentive, good-natured and Christian a congregation as I ever spoke to in my life, joining in some of the same hymns we sing at home with the utmost spirit, and coming to the preacher afterwards with many kind and generous words about the service.

     Attended prayer meetings, Sunday concerts, theatre, day schools; visited the hot and warm springs, was taken out to drive, and introduced to a number of families where there were a plurality of wives.  Found the latter in every case to be intelligent, lady-like, ardently devoted to their faith, and apparently happy, in fact, just about the same as good women everywhere, and laughing heartily at the stories that are told of their misery and degradation.  The subject of polygamy was spoken of freely.  They listened with perfect courtesy to all I could say against it—there being just as much freedom to discuss it in Salt Lake City as in Beverly—and argued for it on the ground of nature, common sense, social happiness, morality and religion. 

     I must say, without liking the institution, I liked the men and women.  There is no doubt but that they have been awfully lied about.  Their city and all that I saw of them appeared the model of quiet, sobriety and good order.  Of course ministers always see the best side of things, are taken into the parlor and sitting room, not in the back yard, waste closet, and storehouse.  Judging, however, by what I saw, I came to the conclusion that if all the people with one wife would behave as well as these with two or three, it would be a much better world than it is now.”—Deseret News.         

     Now a word from the webmaster:  I think I have found a new working title for my NHF biography…”Nathaniel H. Felt an Original Mormon”  In the 137 years since this story took place, not much has changed in our Utah society; even if you disagree with me asking, “What about polygamy?”  I would point out how normal polygamous life appeared to the good reverend.  Can you picture the Sacrament Meeting of 3,000 souls complete with the restless children and babies?  I like his surprise as he said, “for nobody seemed to have stayed at home to rock the cradle or get dinner.” Mormonism has always seemed exotic to the Gentile world until it actually comes to visit and experience it; then Mormon society seems surprisingly pleasant and normal.  The one regrettable difference for me is the liberal way our ancestors wanted to learn about outside views vs. today with our sanitized correlation of media and a growing orthodoxy of thought; although we largely have the same old freedoms to explore ideas on our own, just not as a community.

     Photo #1 above is of the Tabernacle in 1871; it was in that same year that the Reverend visited Salt Lake.  My gg grandmother Mary L. P. Felt was married to William Silver who resided in the same ward as father Nathaniel.  GG grandmother moved her children to the neighboring 19th ward about one quarter mile north into the new houses of the Marmalade district.

Salt Lake Temple Baptistry     Photo #2 above is of the Felt House at about the time my GG Grandmother Mary L. P. Felt (Polly) left the house for good.  I wonder what she did to provide for her 3 children between that time (about 1868) and 1871 when she married Brother Silver.  Please note the addition of the ell on the back of the house in about the year 1867 or 1868; I wonder now if it was added to accommodate her needs better.  We are wise to remember that she returned from the East with her doctor’s certificate about the same time and she probably felt quite independent.  In 1868 Polly was 33 years old while father Nathaniel was 52.  William J. Silver was only 3 years her senior in age.  Polly told her daughter that she married Silver to give her sons a better chance at a vocation…hmmm; neither one of the boys followed Silver’s vocation as a machinist or iron worker and both pursued the type of work NHF did; David Pile Felt took up newspapering, advertising and reporting while NHF Jr. became a merchant, newspaper owner, hotelier, theatre owner and advertiser. 

     Photo #3 above was Nathaniel Henry Felt's most recent Salem, Mass. home.  Please note the similar architectural features of both houses.

     Photo #4  William J. Silver was very busy creating a noteworthy empire after Polly married him and he was the man behind the creation of the 12 oxen under the temple baptistery in Salt Lake.  GG Grandmother never spoke ill of father Nathaniel to her children according to Aunt Dell who lived well past her 100th birthday.  Cousin E. G. Price remembers Aunt Dell fondly to this day.  Silver’s skill was impeccable wasn’t it?  My cousin's mother told me Polly gave birth to two with Silver after her marriage, 1) William P. and 2) a girl named May.  She showed me the sad place where little May drowned in the foundry pool very near to the house and what sorrow Polly expressed at loosing the precious child.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

A year between postings is not exactly robust nor taxing on my part.  I have not thought about things a great deal in the past year except as it relates to my personal longings to be in Salem, Massachusetts again.  David P. Felt, Assoc. President, last year announced a three year get-together cycle making next year an important one to remember.  I will travel up to the grave as per usual this evening to greet anyone other than myself who cares to attend.  I hope all of you are well and I hope to see you again.

Yours Truly One Year Later,

Jonathan C. Felt, Secretary


Monday, June 25, 2007

We attended the meeting at the Cemetery, but (and alas) we have no streaming video for you to view.  In a week or two my brother and I will post the still photos.  The Nathaniel H. Felt Family is alive and well.  Participants on Saturday and Sunday totaled about 25 (if David P. Felt and the rest of us were counted twice) for both days which is about what I expected.  We wanted to down-play this year's event and we accomplished our goal. 

It sounds like our NHFFA president will take us to a new 3 year cycle of meetings where we take two years off between the big events.   That would mean our next get-together will occur in the year 2009.  What is your vote for what we do and where we meet?  I think we still want to meet in the Cemetery and go to the temple on the off years (2008, 2010 and 2011).  Do you agree?  Send me your thoughts by clicking on the envelope to start an email.

Yours Truly,

Jonathan C. Felt, Secretary


Monday, May 21, 2007

The 4th Sunday in June approaches quickly again this year.  What to do for the annual Felt Memorial Day has been more difficult a decision than we expected.  Not everyone agrees there should be a gathering each and every year.  On the other hand, father Nathaniel asked us to be there (at the grave) every year.  As a board we will carry out his request for as long as we are able, but it is wise to lower the bar of expectation for a season or two in regards to programming.

The president of our board, David P. Felt, wishes to invite you to attend a short prayer meeting and devotional at the gravesite.  It will start promptly at 6:00 PM on Sunday the 24th day of June.  A webcast of the event will be made available from this website within 24 hours in order that all may experience it first-hand.  We look forward to your webside attendance.

Also of importance to us will be to formally ratify the bylaws of the Nathaniel H. Felt Family Association in accordance to United States and Utah law.  It is the intention of D. P. Felt to file for official 501c3 status before the end of June 2007.  He will conduct a meeting for that purpose in the Relief Society Room of the 27th Ward Chapel starting at 7:45 PM on Saturday, June 23rd.

Mr. Felt would also like to invite interested Nathaniel H. Felt descendants to participate in a special temple session also on Saturday, June 23, 2007 at 4:00 PM.  Please be dressed by 3:30 PM.  Family File names of our kindred will be provided up until the session starts.  Please obtain a current temple recommend to participate.  We will meet for dinner in the temple cafeteria immediately following the endowment session.

Attend what you can.

Sunday, June 24, 2007 6:00 PM A short devotional at the Nathaniel H. Felt gravesite
Monday, June 25, 2007 6:00 PM A webcast of the 2007 events will stream from this website
Saturday, June 23, 2007 7:45 PM A brief meeting to ratify the official bylaws of the Nathaniel H. Felt Family Association will be conducted by David P. Felt from the Relief Society Room of the 27th Ward Chapel, 185 P Street, Salt Lake City, UT
Saturday, June 23, 2007 3:30 PM For those who desire, be dressed and in the Salt Lake Temple for an endowment session.  Family names will be provided.  We will eat dinner in the temple cafeteria.

Donations Accepted
c/o David P. Felt, COL (ret)
1652 Pages Place Drive
Bountiful, UT 84010
(888) 207-1872

Yours faithfully,

Jonathan C. Felt, Secretary



Friday, January 5, 2007 by Jonathan C. Felt

As I was leaving Salem, Massachusetts in the first week of June 2005, I assumed then I would return.  Unfortunately that has not yet occurred, but I remain hopeful.  It was in that same week when I felt inspired to start CousinIT LLC, the company I am now endeavoring to grow.  CousinIT LLC should provide the necessary funding for me to do what I most want to do. 

As a family association, we went forward on our annual gathering (also in June 2005) with a speech from Steve Valentine who represented the Genealogical Society of Utah.  One year later we were amazed to experience the skill and generosity of Clive Romney's famous hymn band, Enoch Train; it also helped for us to have a cousin (Daron Bradford) in the band.  Enoch Train's performance was magical for us, and I want to deal more with that subject in future writings.  Even before I left Salem in '05 we did the most important meeting of all back in October 2004 honoring Nathaniel Henry Felt's home with a plaque ceremony, and I am sorry to report the plaque ceremony has yet to be properly chronicled.  For more information go to the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation's link to the house.

The next thing clearly is form a proper 5013c organization and solicit donations for the Felt Papers project.  Hopefully our little pilot project will be a good start for the Phillips Library to do even more with digitization in the near future.  I still believe in John R. Grimes' original vision, and I will strive diligently to bring it to pass.