The St. George Utah Temple holds a special place in Church history because it was here on 11 January 1877 that the first endowments for the dead were performed. Prior to this time, endowments for the living had been performed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, but President Young had explained that work for the dead required a temple. Therefore, in his advanced age and failing health he was most anxious for the Saints to complete the St. George Utah Temple.
Brigham Young personally directed the work for his own kindred dead and the development of a “perfect form of the endowments,” which was taught to the temple workers. By the end of March 1877, 3,208 endowments for the dead had been given.
In a dramatic address given in the temple, President Young exclaimed, “What do you suppose the fathers would say if they could speak from the dead? Would they not say, ‘We have lain here thousands of years, here in this prison house, waiting for this dispensation to come? Here we are, bound and fettered, in the association of those who are filthy?’ What would they whisper in our ears? Why, if they had the power the very thunders of heaven would be in our ears.” 18 In Journal of Discourses, 18:304.