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 Thomas Battersby Child, Jr

Thomas Battersby Child, Jr

Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Death 3 Nov 1963 (aged 75)
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Burial Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Plot WEST-11-BETW-24 3-23&
Memorial ID 13364738 · View Source
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Son of Thomas Battersby Child Sr. and Elizabeth Livingston.

Married Bertha Derrick Rumel on April 12, 1911 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah.

Children - Lucile Rumel Child, Francis Rumel Child, Robert Rumel Child, Joan Rumel Child

History - Thomas Battersby Child Jr. was a master visionary sculptor of Gilgal, a Salt Lake City sculpture garden, which was created in 1945 and partially completed in 1963. It was Joshua, the Old Testament prophet, camping at a place he called Gilgal in the east border of Jericho who inspired Thomas, the eminent mason and stonecutter. The word Gilgal, as used in the Old Testament, stands for a circle of sacred stones. The 12 stones represent the 12 tribes who were allowed to enter the promise land.

Child clearly identified himself with Joshua's statement, "When your child shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know..." (Joshua 4:21,22).

Child said in his journal, "Maybe someday my children will ask, 'What mean these stones?' When they do, I want you to tell them that they stand for the love that their grandfather had for them, and for those who came before--and for my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Child grew up committed to the importance of learning a trade, but he always regretted his failure to get a formal education. He had an insatiable appetite for learning. He had Harvard classics in his library as well as complete sets of George Bernard Shaw, Goethe, Elbert Hubbard, Nathaniel Hawthorne. He was a student of the Apostle Paul, John Ruskins, Henry Adams, William James, Jacques Rousseau, Alfred North Whitehead and Edgar Masters.

By the time Child started on the work that would consume the remainder of his life, he had already established himself as one of the best masons and masonry contractors in the Intermountain West. Among the numerous buildings for which he did the stone and brick work are LDS temples in Idaho Falls and Los Angeles, buildings on the University of Utah and Brigham Young University campuses, Ogden High School and Brigham City's Hospital.

From the American Institute of Architects, he received a prestigious award for excellence. Near the end of his life, he said, "There is hardly a block in Salt Lake City on which we have not built somethings.

Thomas was a Bishop in the LDS Church for 19 years in the 10th Ward in the Park Stake. He used biblical and LDS scripture, iconography, large self portrait relief, portrait of his wife Bertha out of stone, Captain 2, Alpha and Omega, Joseph's Dream, Joseph Smith as Sphinx etc. He was a masonry contractor by trade and used massive stones in his works. Some large stones were left unfinished. He used chisels, jackhammers and acetylene torches to cut out his works along with the help of Utah sculptor Maurice Brooks.

When Child was released as bishop, he decided to use the time formerly used in church work and express himself in stone. Child considered his message to be simple. He intended to express, first, his love for his wife and family, and second, his love for his trade. Third, he wanted to express his love for his church and its scriptural teachings. Fourth, he wanted to show his love of art and the right of self-expression.

Child's first project was the niche in his side yard, containing a cross. As a remembrance of Jesus' crucifixion, it symbolized Paul's admonition that"true rejoicing to be with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the most impressive single monument in the garden is the Egyptian sphinx containing the face of the LDS Prophet Joseph Smith. The rock used for the sphinx weighed 25 tons when it was brought to the garden. Child read the historian, Henry Adams, who asked the question, "Who am I, and what am I doing here?" Bishop Child believed he had the answer for Adams. It was the sphinx that stood for all the eternal questions. He said the Prophet Joseph Smith brought the answers.

It was Child's creativity that most notable impressed those who knew him. Gilgal stands as a fitting monument to Thomas B. Child's unique style of creative energy.

Thomas Battersby Child Jr. died on Nov. 3, 1963 at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah. He was buried on Nov. 6, 1963.

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  • Maintained by: SMSmith
  • Originally Created by: Bruce J. Black
  • Added: 16 Feb 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 13364738
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas Battersby Child, Jr (6 May 1888–3 Nov 1963), Find A Grave Memorial no. 13364738, citing Salt Lake City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by SMSmith (contributor 46491005) .