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George Q. Cannon family correspondence

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSS 7426

Scope and Contents

This collection includes correspondence between George Q. Cannon, Martha Telle Cannon, and other various authors between 1868 and 1902. The bulk of the letters, however, are from George Q. Cannon to Martha Telle Cannon during his time as Utah Territory Delegate to the United States House of Representatives. The letters include information regarding home and family affairs, Martha Telle Cannon's family history, matters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reports of missionary work, and political issues in Washington, D.C. Letters are written from Washington, D.C., and various cities in Utah and the eastern United States. Within the correspondence, there are seven letters that are incomplete. One letter written by George Q. Cannon is a duplicate; the other copy was sent to Sarah A. Telle King, Martha Telle Cannon's half-sister. Also included is a letter to Martha's adoptive parents and aunt and uncle from George Q. Cannon asking for Martha's hand in marriage.


  • 1868-1902


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from George Q. Cannon family correspondence must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

George Q. Cannon (1827-1901) worked as the Utah Territory Delegate to the United States House of Representative for several years. He also served as a missionary, mission president, and apostle for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

George Q. Cannon was born in Liverpool, England, on January 11, 1827. He was the oldest child of George and Ann Quayle Cannon. The Cannon family sailed to the United States in 1842 after being converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and baptized by John Taylor, the husband of George's aunt, Leonora Cannon. Shortly after arriving in Nauvoo, Illinois, George Cannon lost both of his parents. He was raised in John and Leonora Taylor's home and worked as a printer's apprentice.

George Cannon moved west to Utah with the Taylor family, arriving in 1847. Soon after their arrival, George served a mission first in California, and then to the Sandwich Islands, where he mastered the Hawaiian language. He later served as mission president over the California/Oregon, Eastern States, and European missions. He was also commissioned by the church to do work on several different newspapers. In addition, George Cannon was ordained an apostle for the Church in 1859.

In 1862, George Cannon was elected to represent the Utah Territory in the United States Congress. He only served one term in this capacity but in 1872 returned to Washington, D.C., as the Utah Delegate to Congress. He remained a prominent figure in Utah's plea for statehood and as a representative for the church to the federal government for ten years. He left his seat in Congress following the Edmunds Act, which limited the rights of Utah's polygamists. George Cannon was forced into seclusion until 1888 when he surrendered himself and consequently served nearly six months imprisonment in the Utah State Penitentiary for cohabitation.

George Cannon's first (and only legal) marriage was to Elizabeth Hoagland Cannon just following his first mission for the church. She bore him eleven children, six of whom reached adulthood. In 1858, George Cannon took his second wife, Sarah Jane Jenne Cannon, who raised seven children, one of which was adopted. His third wife, Eliza L. Tenney Cannon, had three sons. George Cannon married Martha Telle Cannon in 1868, and eventually nine children came of their union. George Cannon's fifth wife, Emily Hoagland Little Cannon, was sister to Elizabeth Hoagland Cannon. Emily was a widow, and Elizabeth encouraged the match due to concern over her sister's welfare. George Cannon and Emily Hoagland had no children together. Caroline Young Croxall Cannon became George Cannon's sixth and last wife nearly three years after Elizabeth's death. She was a daughter of Brigham Young, and George Cannon's only legal wife during the time they were married. George Cannon adopted her five children from a previous marriage, and together they raised four more children. In all, George Cannon reared thirty-five children (seven of which were adopted), but forty-three are sealed to him eternally.

In 1880, George Cannon became the first counselor in the first presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints under John Taylor. He also served as first counselor under the presidencies of Wilford Woodruff and Lorenzo Snow before his death in 1901, at age seventy-four.

Biographical History

Martha Telle Cannon (1846-1928) was a school teacher in Utah and the fourth wife of Mormon apostle George Q. Cannon.

Martha Telle Cannon was born May 28, 1846, to Amelia Ann Rogers and Josiah Lewis Telle in Saint Louis, Missouri. Following the death of her parents, Martha was adopted by George and Hester A. Beebe, the latter being the sister of Amelia Ann Rogers. She lived with her adoptive parents in Polk City, Iowa, and moved west to Utah with them in 1960. The Beebe family returned to Iowa a short while later. In 1866, after graduating from the University of Iowa, Martha Cannon came back to Utah as a school teacher.

Martha Telle was married to George Q. Cannon in 1868. She was his fourth wife. The couple raised nine children: Hester and Amelia (twins), Lewis, Brigham, Willard, Grace, Radcliffe, Espey, and Collins. Martha passed away on February 5, 1928.


1 box (0.5 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Collection is comprised of letters, most of them written by George Q. Cannon during his time of service as a Utah Territory delegate to the United States House of Representatives. The remainder of the letters were written by a variety of family members and friends to Martha Telle Cannon. The bulk of the letters were written between 1872 and 1882.


Arranged in three series: 1. George Q. and Martha Telle Cannon correspondence, 1872-1891. 2. Martha Telle Cannon correspondence, 1880-1902. 3. George Q. Cannon correspondence, 1880.

Other Finding Aids

A more detailed finding aid is available in the repository upon request.

Custodial History

Donated by Ida Mae Cannon Smith.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Ida Mae Cannon Smith; 2009.


Gives an understanding of George Q. Cannon's experience in Washington, D.C., as a Utah Territory Delegate and the immense amount of pressure he was under as a father, husband, Apostle for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and politician.

Utah and the American West and LDS cultural, social, and religious history (19th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy 5.VII, August 2007).

Processing Information

Processed; Audrey Ann Spainhower; 2009.

Register of the George Q. Cannon family correspondence
Audrey Ann Spainhower, student manuscript processor, and John M. Murphy, curator
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States