Joseph L. Heywood Homesite
The Joseph and Serepta Heywood homesite is located approximately at the midblock area between State and Main streets on the north wall of the Conference Center. Joseph was baptized in the Mississippi River in 1842 after listening to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was called as a bishop in Nauvoo and acted as a trustee of the Church in disposing of its Nauvoo properties after the exodus to the Salt Lake Valley.
A Fork in the Road
President Gordon B. Hinckley’s father, Bryant S. Hinckley, told a story about a young man who had an unusual dream while staying at the Heywoods’.
John Morgan’s first home in Salt Lake City was with the family of Joseph L. Heywood, Bishop of the Seventeenth Ward. Morgan was not, at this time, a member of the L. D. S. Church nor had he given it much consideration. One morning, on coming down to breakfast, he related to Mrs. [Serepta] Heywood an impressive dream he had had during the night in which he dreamed that he was back in North Georgia near the battlefield of Chickamauga where he had fought in the Civil War and he was traveling southward on a road running from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Rome, Georgia. He was perfectly familiar with the road, as it was one the soldiers had used many times.
In this dream, he suddenly came to a fork in the road and for a moment was undecided as to which fork led to Rome. Then he was amazed to see President Brigham Young standing in front of a large tree in the fork. President Young told him the right-hand road led to Rome, but that if he would take the left-hand road, he would have an experience that would give him a strong and abiding testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon. Laughingly, he asked Mrs. Heywood what she thought of it. “I am not interested in the Book of Mormon or its divinity, but I am interested in knowing what you think of my dream.” Mrs. Heywood answered: “Mr. Morgan, I think I can give you some light concerning your dream. It is my conviction that the time is not far distant when you will become a member of our Church and that in due time you will be called to do missionary work in the Southern States. It is my thought that in your missionary work you will one day be following the road and will arrive at the fork you saw in your dream—but President Young will not be there. However, I counsel you to remember his instructions and take the road that will lead to the left.” Mr. Morgan thanked Mrs. Heywood for her interpretation of his dream and soon forgot about it. A year later, John Morgan became a convert to Mormonism and was baptized. Ten years later while traveling as a missionary from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Rome, Georgia, he came to a fork in the road that confused him and caused him to stop. He was undecided as to which of the two roads might lead to Rome. As he was pondering, he suddenly realized that the fork in the road that lay before him was the identical place that he had seen in his dream when he had resided in the Heywood home in Salt Lake City ten years before. The large tree in the fork was there, but as Sister Heywood had predicted, President Young was not there; but he vividly recalled the counsel given in the dream not to take the right-hand road which he said led to Rome, but to follow the left-hand road which would lead him to a remarkable experience from which he would gain a testimony of the divinity of the work in which he was engaged and knowledgeable of the divine teachings of the Book of Mormon. Thrilled with his experience, he took the left-hand road and continued his journey. After an hour’s walk, the road led him to the rim of a beautiful valley in North Georgia. From a passerby, he learned that the name of the place was Heywood Valley, having the same spelling as the Heywood family and that it was settled and farmed by some twenty-three prosperous families.
In high spirits he traveled on and called at the first house he came to where he was received with true southern hospitality. Filled with the spirit of his mission, he spent the entire evening in Gospel Conversation. Three hours were engaged in his effort to explain the first principles of the Gospel to his newly made friends. As the interview closed, the head of the house brought out the family Bible, and, to Elder Morgan’s amazement, he found that many of the passages of scripture which he had used in explaining the principles of the Gospel, were underscored and in asking who had marked the passages, was advised that ten days before, a kindly looking man in very tidy apparel, and seemingly possessed of great intelligence, had come to their home and had, with their permission, marked their Bible, explaining to them that another would come in a few days who would teach them the meaning of the marked passages and explain to them in its completeness the great Plan of Salvation. They knew not who the stranger was—his name, or from whence he came, or where he went. During the following six weeks, Elder Morgan called successively on each of the families in Heywood Valley, and in every home that the stranger had called on and had marked the family Bible and had indicated that another would soon visit them and explain to them the scriptures in their fullness, he was successful in converting and baptizing the inhabitants thereof until all but three families were led into the water of baptism. Among those converted was a Methodist pastor, who was made the Presiding Elder of the Heywood Branch, and the building he had previously used as a Methodist church, now became a Mormon meeting house. John Morgan’s dream had come true.