A Provo Accident Hastened the Death of President Heber C. Kimball.
Provo was blessed with some of the best natural resources in the Utah Territory, yet her economic development progressed at a disappointingly slow pace. Many of the city’s early residents seemed relatively unmotivated and lazy. Overall, the town and its people appeared slightly shabby and not very prosperous.
In 1867, Brigham Young decided the time was right to give Provo a mighty push down the path of progress. The Mormon leader saw that new leadership was necessary in order to carry out this expansion. Young called former Salt Lake City mayor, Abraham O. Smoot, to serve as Provo’s new mayor as well as the city’s presiding bishop and stake president. Several Mormon Apostles and other “tried and true” men from Salt Lake City became members of the Provo City Council and the Utah County Court.
Brigham Young felt very strongly about pushing Provo forward. He announced that he, along with President Heber C. Kimball, planned to spend more time in Provo and directly supervise the city’s progress. Young and Kimball both bought houses in Provo and began improving them to set an example to the other residents.
Kimball instructed some of his sons to deepen the irrigation ditch around his Provo residence while he was absent in Salt Lake City. He either forgot about his order or did not expect the work to be completed as quickly as it was done. When Kimball returned to Provo late one spring night, he turned his buggy from the street into his property and drove into the deepened ditch. The sudden stop hurled Kimball from the vehicle to the ground. He landed on his side and hit his head.
Mayor Smoot took the injured man back to Salt Lake City. No bones were broken in the accident, but Kimball never fully recovered from its effects. Paralysis incapacitated the Mormon leader several weeks later and he died on June 16, 1868.