Clarissa A. Beesley led young Mormon women for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called the “Mormon Church” by some). Clarissa was an LDS woman leader who was asked by a living prophet of God to lead the young Mormon women during the third presidency of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association (YLMIA) which is presently called the LDS Young Women’s organization (a global organization for female youth) (Caroline H. Benzley, “134 Years Young!”, New Era, November, 2003).
Mormon Women Leading the Young Women’s Organization
Mormon women leaders have equal but complimentary roles within the Church of Jesus Christ. From March 30, 1929, until November 1937, Clarissa served as the YLMIA second counselor. She interacted with various LDS woman leaders such as Ruth May Fox (the young women’s president from 1929-1937), and Lucy Grant Cannon (first counselor) (Timeline of Young Women General Presidents).
During her presidency service from 1929-1937, she blessed the lives of many Mormon youth. Scriptural themes replaced YLMIA slogans, the Lion House became a “social center for girls”, and the first YLMIA dance festival was staged (“Presidents of the Young Women Organization Through the Years,” Ensign, June 2008, 40–45). She wrote the book Gospel Drama , which contains YLMIA lessons for the young women.
Dependability is that quality of sureness which makes folks know that the task assigned will be accomplished, that the promise made will be kept, a golden quality–but to be effective it must be accompanied by at least a moderate amount of something to give and a pleasant manner of giving.
—Clarissa A. Beesley, Young Woman’s Journal, Salt Lake City, Utah, November 1925 (Inspirational and Insightful Quotations #62—Dependability).
Mormon Women: Biography of Clarissa A. Beesley
Clarissa was born on November 13, 1878, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Ebenezer Beesley and Annie F. Buckeridge (Findagrave.com). Her father immigrated in 1859 from England to Salt lake City, Utah, by sea and then in the George Rowley handcart company. Ebenezer married twice and had ten children with his first wife Sarah and six children (including Clarissa) with his wife Annie:
Married Sarah Hancock March 26, 1859… Their children; Ebenezer, m. Emily Jane Cooper; William Henry d. June 18, 1863; Frederick, m. Elizabeth Ellen Solomon; Adelbert, m. Adelaide Pugsley; Ella, m. Ernest E. Ridges; Lorenzo, m. Josephine Hopwood; Alvln Augustus, m. Ruby Pratt; Franklin, m. Mamie Sullivan; Amy Susannah, m. Edwin Lee; Sarah Emily, m. William P. Everett. Family home Salt Lake City.
Married Annie F. Buckeridge April 19, 1869, Salt Lake City (daughter of John Buckeridge and Caroline Brunswick of Theil, Buckinghamshire). She was born Aug. 8, 1845. Their children: Truman John, died; Willard George; Frances Caroline, died; Clarissa Alice; Alma Frewin, died; Wilford Angus, m. Emma Frewin. Family home Salt Lake City (Frank Esshom, Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, , page 746).
Clarissa grew up in a musically talented family. Her brother Alvin founded the Beesley Music Company and her father Ebenezer “was director of the Tabernacle Choir from 1870 to 1885” (Obituaries of Alvin A. Beesley, Jared Pratt Family Association). Her father Ebenezer composed over 100 songs including the music for the LDS hymns:
“High on the Mountain Top,”… “School Thy Feelings, O My Brother,”… “Kind Words Are Sweet Tones of the Heart,”… “Reverently and Meekly Now,”… “Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words to Each Other,” “Welcome, Welcome, Sabbath Morning,” “Sing We Now at Parting,” “Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love,” “God of Our Fathers, We Come Unto Thee,” and “Lord, We Ask Thee Ere We Part.” (Ron Andersen, “Handcart Immigration Participants Buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery”, March 2002).
I have listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir from a young age, because my grandmother sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Music has helped me feel God’s love and the healing peace from Christ’s Atonement. I agree with the modern prophet Joseph Smith who wrote by revelation from God:
…the voice of the Lord your God… For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads (Doctrine and Covenants 25: 1, 12, The Pearl of Great Price).
Clarissa was a Christ-like person who shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. She served on the planning committee for exhibits at the second Chicago World’s Fair which had about 39 million visitors. “The overall Latter-day Saint display was the combination of a series of paintings, sculptures, and texts that told the story of the Church and defined church doctrine at a level non-Mormons could readily understand” (Reid Neilson, Exhibiting Mormonism: The Latter-Day Siants and the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, , 195-196).
Mormon Women Leading Today
I am grateful for the leaders today of the young women organization who taught me about the Lord Jesus Christ. I am also grateful for past LDS women leaders and like Clarissa, I enjoy uplifting music and sharing my faith with others.
Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He currently serves as the First Assistant to the High Priest Group for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward. He is a 30-year honorably retired United States Navy Veteran.