By Anna Schmidt
As the Saints arrived out West, they no longer were wholly in one centralized location. Many stayed in the Utah Valley, but others were called or chose to settle in the surrounding country. I can only imagine what it would be like to get the call to settle in Mosquito Bend, now known as Rexburg, Idaho. If the name was not daunting enough, earlier mountain men had said it would be impossible to cultivate.
Though faced with poverty and formidable weather conditions, many Saints sacrificed to further their education and knowledge. One such settler came on recommendation from Karl G. Maser, and was asked to be the first principal of the Bannock Stake Academy; his name was Jacob Spori.
Spori was a highly educated convert from Switzerland. Perhaps the church leaders thought he could handle the “god forsaken snow prison” of Idaho, he having seen and experienced snow before. Teaching the rough and rugged settlers and dealing with looming debts, however, may have been even more intimidating. Regardless, Spori took upon this calling with great passion and effort, insisting the school was divinely inspired. When debts could not be paid, Spori went without pay so that other teachers could receive their wages. Spori even served as a janitor around the school to help relieve expenses. He said, “Sometimes I feel as though I cannot bear it; but the gospel is worth all.”
His words offer timeless advice and comfort. What ever it is we are faced with, be it with work, school, family, or circumstances beyond our control, our sacrifices to build the kingdom of God will all be rewarded in the end. Being a native of Rexburg, Idaho myself, I wonder at the bravery of early saints like Jacob Spori. I cannot fully understand what they went through, but I am able to observe the fruits of their diligence. Though still cold, Rexburg is a beautiful, thriving community that houses Bannock Stake Academy’s progeny, BYU-Idaho, that has been able to serve, educate, prepare, and touch the lives of thousands of students who have lived and studied there. Jacob Spori gave everything he had for education, prompting introspection of how I value my education. Do I see it as something worth sacrificing for? I hope that when the homework load seems unbearable, I too can remember that all my righteous efforts to learn and grow will be worth it in the end.
“Unpromising Beginnings” Education in Zion Gallery
“Early Principals” Education in Zion Gallery
2.Life Sketch of Jacob Spori: