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Richard Roswell Lyman papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 1079

Scope and Contents

Collection documents Lyman's achievements, with the bulk of the material related to his religious ideals and service. Includes biographical materials and memorabilia, journals, and writings, including typescripts of published biographies of his grandfather, Amasa M. Lyman and his father, Francis M. Lyman. The latter two were authored by Albert R. Lyman.


  • 1890-1963


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 Papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Richard Roswell Lyman, a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was born November 23, 1870, at Fillmore, Millard County, Utah, the son of Francis M. Lyman and Clara Caroline Callister. His father was president of the Council of the Twelve for thirteen years and a member of that Council for thirty-six years. Amasa M. Lyman, the grandfather of Richard R. Lyman, was a member of the Council of the Twelve of the LDS Church for twenty-eight years. On his mother's side, Richard R. Lyman belongs to the fifth generation of members of the Church. His great grandfather, John Smith, the Prophet's uncle, was one of the presiding Patriarchs of the Church. The mother of this Patriarch also belonged to the Church. Richard R. Lyman's grandmother, on his mother's side, was Caroline Smith Callister, the only sister of the late George A. Smith, who was a counselor to President Brigham Young. Of Richard R. Lyman it is said that during his childhood he never smiled and that while as a little fellow he would jump with delight, he was a strapping boy before he was induced to laugh.

In April, 1878, at the age of seven years, he moved with his father's family to Tooele, Tooele County, Utah, where his father had been called to preside over the Tooele Stake of Zion in the Church. In a school house at Fillmore (where he began his education), with his face turned toward the south, Richard R. began to study geography. During his twenty-five or thirty years' experience as a teacher, and in his association with school teachers, he endeavored to impress the importance of having students who are beginning the study of geography and the use of maps do so facing the north. When he went to the school taught by William Foster, in the little adobe school house in Tooele, slabs with the round side up were used for the recitation benches; and when home-made wooden benches with backs were brought into the school room for recitation benches, the school children looked upon them as a great luxury.

Richard R. Lyman was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on July 29, 1879, and soon afterwards ordained a Deacon. For many years after that, he did duty as a Deacon in the Tooele Ward. At the age of eight (in the summer of 1879), Richard R. was placed in charge of his father's fine driving team and Concord buggy. While he was not big enough to hitch the team to the buggy, the team being unusually full of life, he took pride, under his father's direction and encouragement, in keeping the horses, harness, buggy and barn in clean and first class condition. In 1881-1882 he drove team for both his father and Heber J. Grant, President of the Church, who had succeeded his father as president of the Tooele Stake. It always afforded the boy great joy to meet President Grant at the Tooele station or at Lake Point with his fine team. He said he will never forget with what relish he ate candy and raisins with President Grant as they rode together from the station or went about Tooele county on Stake business. While President Grant was in Salt Lake City attending to his personal business Richard R. Lyman, then about eleven years old, used to stay at the home of Pres. Grant's wife, Lucy Stringham Grant, to render what protection he could to her and her two baby daughters, Rachel and Lucy. The family prayers of that good woman as she knelt with her two little girls and the boy (Richard R. Lyman) made a wonderful impression upon the boy's mind. With a mother so saint-like and prayerful he says it is no surprise that the two little girls have developed into such model mothers and influential leaders among the young women of the Church.

In the fall of 1882, at the age of twelve, Richard R. was sent to Provo, Utah to attend school in the Brigham Young Academy. He was a student in that institution when the fire occurred which made it necessary to move the educational institution into another part of the city. Richard R. spent two summers working at the "Mill" located near E T City, on the shore of Great Salt Lake. Here he milked many cows, assisted in hauling logs for lumber out of the mountains, etc. This was also the place where he learned to swim and ride horses. While thus riding and herding in Tooele county Richard R. nearly always carried with him the New Testament, which was given to him by his mother, with instructions to read it frequently. In accordance with this instruction he read and reread of the life and works of the Great Master. The policy of President Francis M. Lyman was to put his boys to work while they were young, being much more anxious about the kind of training the boys received than the amount of money they were paid. For two years Richard R. worked at the ranch of Hyrum E. Booth, near Grantsville, and he regards the training given him and hard work he was required to do by Hyrum E. Booth and his industrious wife and family as one of the most valuable training that came into his life.

An expert gardener from England pruned the trees, planted and cared for the garden and did the irrigating on the two homes belonging to Francis M. Lyman in Tooele. When this work was turned over later to Richard R. as a boy, he followed the example set for him by the English gardener. The weeds were hoed with regularity, and the gravel walks about the home were carefully raked and crowned. He also cared for the trees, the vines, the flowers, the chickens and the cows. Following the example and teachings of his father, Richard R., during most of his boyhood, kept a daily journal, and perhaps the most striking feature contained in this record is the regularity with which the boy attended Priesthood meetings, Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association (YMMIA) meetings, Sunday schools and other meetings at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In August, 1888, with his sister Mary, he went to the Brigham Young Academy at Provo to study. At that time this educational institution was under the able leadership of Karl G. Maeser. Richard R. was ordained a Teacher by Bishop Thomas Atkin Jr. Sept. 16, 1888. While attending school in Provo, Richard R. began a courtship with Miss Amy Brown, which would continue for a period of eight years. To this girl, whom he married September 9, 1896 (President Joseph F. Smith performing the ceremony), Richard R. always regards himself as greatly indebted for whatever degree of success has come to him in the business world, in the educational field or in Church work.

After a summer of hard work at Grantsville, Richard R. and his sister Mary were sent by their father to the Brigham Young College at Logan, Utah, which institution then was under the direction of Dr. Joseph M. Tanner. During this school year (1889-1890), Richard R. began his labors as an assistant teacher in the college. While in Logan he took out special certificates in plane and solid geometry, algebra and physiology. The following year, in Provo, Utah, his studies covered trigonometry, analytic geometry, theory of teaching, psychology, logic, surveying, physics and rhetoric. During the summer of 1890, Richard R. was employed as a bookkeeper in the combined jewelry and furniture store of T. B. Cardon & Co. at Logan, and during the summer of 1891 he was bookkeeper for the Utah Manufacturing & Building Co. at Mill Creek, near Salt Lake City, Utah.

Thus far during his school life Richard R. had been required to furnish his own clothing, his own books and his own spending money, while his father had paid his tuition and board. When Richard R. now asked his father for an opportunity to go East to college, the father offered to lend him the necessary means for a period of four years, an offer which the son promptly accepted. Repaying this money and the interest on it at the rate of 10 percent required a period of seven years, the principal amounting to nearly $2,500. Richard R. was ordained an Elder, August 29, 1891, by Joseph F. Smith and after receiving his endowments in the Logan Temple he went East to study. On his way East, Richard R. spent ten days with his mother at Manassa, Colorado, she and her family being at that time on the "underground." The ten days spent in Manassa are remembered vividly by Richard R. because they were the last ten days he spent with his mother. He separated from the family September 19, 1891, and his mother died September 21, 1892. He remembers with great gratitude how his dear mother prepared underclothing, socks and other necessities to serve him during his four years of college life.

While he attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, primarily for the purpose of studying mathematics with the thought of teaching in the Brigham Young Academy at Provo, and while he registered in the department of civil engineering, he devoted a great deal of time to the study of literature, history and public speaking. During his sophomore year he was elected president of his class and was elected to the same position a second time during his senior year. Richard R. spent all his vacations in hard work; one was devoted to the study of chemistry at the University of Michigan, while two were devoted to traveling through the State selling school supplies for a business firm at Chicago, Illinois, and one was spent as assistant mine and railroad surveyor in the Tintic mining district, Utah.

In the spring of 1895 he received the degree of bachelor of science in civil engineering from the University of Michigan. The school year 1895-1896 was spent in the Brigham Young Academy as principal of the High School in Provo, Utah and head of the department of mathematics and physics. Beginning in the fall of 1896 and continuing until the spring of 1918, Richard R. Lyman, in the University of Utah, passed through all the grades of instructor, assistant professor, associate professor and full professor in charge of the department of civil engineering. He held a full professorship and was head of the department for eighteen years and he held a professorship in the department of civil engineering.

With his family Professor Lyman spent the summer of 1902 doing advanced work in the University of Chicago; thence he went to Cornell University where he was given a residence credit of three years. While there, with the class of 1903, he was graduated with the degree of M.C.E. (Master of Civil Engineering). In the spring of 1904 he was elected by the faculty of Cornell University to membership in the society of The Sigma Xi, a scientific organization into which only those who have achieved marked success and have unusual ability in the line of scientific investigation and research are supposed to be received. With the class of 1905 he was graduated with the degree of Ph.D. In one year he was awarded the only scholarship offered by the college of civil engineering and during another the only fellowship offered by that same department.

Richard R. Lyman began writing for publication while he was a student at the University of Michigan. He wrote a series of articles on "The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor," for the Juvenile Instructor, beginning in May, 1894. In addition to writing a good many articles of a non-technical character, he wrote scientific articles for the Engineering Record, the Engineering News, and for the Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers. For the University of Utah Experiment Station, he prepared one bulletin entitled "The Construction and Maintenance of Earth Roads," and another on "The Measurement of Flowing Streams." For his article entitled "Measurement of the Flow of Streams by Approved Forms of Weirs with New Formulas and Diagrams," which was published in Vol. LXXVII, page 1189 (1914) of the Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, he was awarded the "J. James R. Croe's Gold Medal," for the year 1915. This prize is awarded only for a paper which is "judged worthy of the award of this prize for its merit as a contribution to engineering science." From 1909 to 1918 he served as vice-chairman of the Utah State Road Commission. During this nine years of service the work of the State Road Commission, from a beginning with little funds, so advanced that at the expiration of this time the State Road Commission was expending in the neighborhood of three-fourths of a million dollars annually. The Utah State Road Commission was created in 1909 and Richard R. Lyman was one of its original members and its first vice-chairman, which position he held during the whole nine years.

He served as city engineer of Provo, Utah, was transitman on a railroad survey from Springville through Hobble Creek Canyon toward the Uintah reservation for Jesse Knight in 1898, and designed and superintended the construction of waterworks systems in nearly all the towns and smaller cities of Utah and many in Idaho and Wyoming. For years he conducted an office as a civil and consulting engineer. At various times he served as chief engineer and consulting engineer for the following companies: Melville Irrigation Company, Delta, Utah; Deseret Irrigation Company, Oasis, Utah; Oasis Land & Irrigation Company, with headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah; Delta Land & Water Company of Salt Lake City, Utah; Utah County Light & Power Company, American Fork, Utah, and Utah Copper Company of Salt Lake City. He was one of the original directors of the Inter-mountain Life Insurance Company and served as vice-president of this company. He was also president of the Giant Racer Company, vice-president of the Ensign Amusement Company, director of the Pleasant Green Water Company, president of the Lyman-Callister Company, and director of Heber J. Grant & Co.

Brother Lyman had experience in the Brigham Young Academy administering the Sacrament and doing other similar service. From the fall of 1895 to the summer of 1896 he acted as a counselor to Bryant S. Hinckley, superintendent of the Mutual Improvement Associations of the Utah Stake, when the Utah Stake embraced all of Utah county. In 1897 (September 12), he was ordained a High Priest by President Angus M. Cannon and set apart as superintendent of the YMMIA of Salt Lake Stake (Utah), which Stake then included the whole of Salt Lake County. He continued to serve in this capacity until the spring of 1902, when he, with his family, went to the University of Chicago. For several years Brother Lyman acted as supervisor of the parent's classes of the Ensign Stake. He was ordained an Apostle and set apart as a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles by President Joseph F. Smith on April 7, 1918, in the Salt Lake Temple, assisted by Presidents Anthon H. Lund and Charles W. Penrose and the members of the Council of the Twelve. He served as President of the British and European Mission, 1936 to 1938. Richard R. Lyman was excommunicated from the Church on November 12, 1943. He was rebaptized into the Church on October 27, 1954 and died in full fellowship December 31, 1963, at the age of 93.

Richard R. Lyman and his wife, Amy B. Lyman, have had two children, namely, Wendell Brown Lyman, born December 18, 1897, in Salt Lake City (Utah), and Margaret Lyman, born September 15, 1903, at Ithaca, New York. Amy B. Lyman was the general secretary of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Wendell B. Lyman was ordained an Elder in the Church by his father June 11, 1920, and served on a mission to the Northwestern States in the 1920s.


2 boxes (1 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Biographical materials, memorabilia, journals, and writings. These items include typescripts of published biographies of Richard R.'s grandfather, Amasa M. Lyman and his father, Francis M. Lyman by Albert R. Lyman. These materials describe the history of the Lyman family in New England, California, and Utah. Richard R. Lyman's journals (1919-1937) record his daily activities and also served as notebooks for ideas. He records his feelings about religion, his family, education, engineering, travels, and his assignment as mission president for the Mormon Church in Europe.


Collection is arranged into two series: Series 1 - Richard Roswell Lyman papers and Series II - Richard Roswell Lyman writings.

Other Finding Aids

File-level inventory available online.


19th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts.

Separated Materials

The items listed below were removed from the collection and dispersed as indicated: 1. "Brigham Young Alumnus", 1961 January-February. Moved to University Archives. 2. "Contributions of Joseph Smith", an Address by Stephen L. Richards, transferred to library.


For information on the rich history of the Lyman family see the following: Loretta L. Hefner, "Amasa Mason Lyman, The Spiritualist", Journal of Mormon History 6 (1979): 75-87; Loretta L. Hefner, "The History of Amasa Mason Lyman" (MH thesis, University of Utah, 1977); Loretta L. Hefner, "From Apostle to Apostate: The Personal Struggle of Amasa M. Lyman", Dialogue 16 (Spring 1983): 90-104; Amasa M. Lyman (1813-1877) papers, Historical Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah; Francis M. Lyman, "My First Mission", The Contributor 17 (1895-96): 325-28, 351-55, 410-17, 478-82, 528-36; Amy Brown Lyman, "In Retrospect: Autobiography of Amy Brown Lyman" (Salt Lake City: General Board of the Relief Society, 1945); Amy Brown Lyman Papers, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah (MSS 316).


Finding aid available in repository.

Processing Information

Processed; Dennis Rowley, Melva Richey, and David Whittaker; April 1991 (Revised June 1998).

Register of Richard Roswell Lyman papers
Megan Furcini
2011 March 18
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