Friday, June 05, 2009

Wilford C. Wood honored for preserving church history artifacts and sites

Excerpts of President Monson honors Wood for preserving LDS Church history by Michael De Groote, Deseret News

Wilford C. Wood had a magificent obsession for historical sites and artifacts.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Thomas S. Monson joined the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation and the LDS Church History Department Thursday in honoring Wood and his family for their role in preserving church history sites and artifacts.

Wood, who died in 1968, was a pioneer in researching and purchasing important Mormon historical sites, such as the Nauvoo Temple block, Joseph Smith Jr. home in Harmony, Pa., and Liberty Jail in Missouri. He also acquired priceless artifacts, such as a full set of uncut and unbound sheets from the 1830 Book of Mormon and the original clay casts of the death masks of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

"I first became acquainted with Wilford C. Wood when I was the assistant general manager of what was then called the Deseret News Press," President Monson said. He worked with Wood, starting in the late 1950s, on volumes one and two of "Joseph Smith Begins His Work." The books contained reprints of the first edition of the Book of Mormon and other early LDS documents.

Wood had to push harder to make the first purchase of property that had been part of the Nauvoo Temple block. In 1937, the LDS Church had authorized Wood to pay $1,000 for the property — but the bank selling the property was hoping for more.

President Monson said Wood received an impression to say, "Are you going to make us pay an exorbitant price for the blood of a martyred prophet when you know that this property rightfully belongs to the Mormon people?"

The property was purchased for $900.

Over the years, Wood acquired many church sites, some on behalf of the church, some with his own money. Many of the properties eventually were sold to the church at or below his costs.

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