Filed Under Religion

The Aaronic Order of Eskdale, Utah

Just outside of Great Basin National park in western Utah lies an isolated community full of faithful individuals who fully live the law of consecration and spend their days busily preparing for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Early in his life, Maurice L. Glendenning (1891-1969) began hearing music in his head that soon gave way to songs, poetry, and eventually the spoken words of the prophet Elias. After sharing his revelations with other Latter-day Saints around Provo in the 1920s and 1930s, Glendenning established a church known as the Aaronic Order. Communal living and full consecration soon became fundamental to the faith of the Aaronites. In order to escape the worldly influence of the cities along the Wasatch Front and claim more space for agricultural ventures, the Aaronites left their original settlement in Springville for the West Desert of Utah.

In 1955, Aaronic Order members settled Eskdale using Desert Entry Act land. Unlike with federal land acquired through the Homestead Act, Aaronites were able to pool together the original lots and build community buildings in close proximity to one another. The chapel, school, community kitchen and dining hall were the first buildings constructed on the site. Since the mid-twentieth century, community members have built additional homes, school buildings, and a dairy. Although the bread and butter of Eskdale is still bread and butter, employment has expanded from subsistence agriculture to now include metal manufacturing and remote professional work for the University of Utah, Boeing, and a law firm in Salt Lake City.

The social atmosphere of Eskdale has changed considerably over the past few decades. These social changes can be attributed to the change in leadership from Maurice Glendenning to Robert Conrad and then John Conrad, as none of the social expectations were canonized in Dr. Glendenning's Levitical Writings. Men, women, and children who belonged to the Aaronic Order used to wear homemade uniforms, but as of the late-twentieth century, these are no longer required. Church leaders had warned against "wreck-reation" like dancing, hunting, fishing, sports, and riding motorized vehicles. These activities are now commonplace and, in the case of dancing, actively encouraged within the community. Communal meals are now held only once per day in the community building instead of three times a day. School children used to live in a dormitory within the community instead of with their parents, though this has also changed. In recent decades and in all domains of life, Aaronites have bridged the gap between their community and the world.

Images

Young men singing in the Eskdale schoolhouse ca. 1975
Young men singing in the Eskdale schoolhouse ca. 1975 Source: Photo scanned on-site by author, original courtesy of the Aaronic Order
Author at the entrance to the Eskdale Community
Author at the entrance to the Eskdale Community Source: Photo taken by author
A groundbreaking ceremony at Eskdale ca. 1975
A groundbreaking ceremony at Eskdale ca. 1975 Source: Photo scanned on-site by author, original courtesy of the Aaronic Order

Location

Metadata

Brian Joseph Fitzsimmons, Brigham Young University, “The Aaronic Order of Eskdale, Utah,” Intermountain Histories, accessed February 22, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/649.