Monday, November 17, 2014

Emigration from Southwest Tennessee

Most of us know about the the Mormon Pioneers. Over 70,000 people who followed the call to gather in the west because of their belief in the restoration. There is even an official list: Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel Database. But because someone decided it must have a cut off (I'm not complaining, just making an observation) people who made the same journey after 1869 are not included. Granted, after that date most people went by train for nearly all of the journey. Before that date the train was not an option for much of the way.

From 1869 to 1900, there were still Mormons heading west. My guess is after 1890 and before 1900 the push to gather in Zion was slowly dropped.  Exactly when they stopped is not the point of this post. What is the point of this post is that there were companies organized too late for inclusion on the official list.

In the last couple of years I have been collecting information on who and when. Nothing formal, just making notes when I find something. I have noted it before on this blog and I do so again today. This list comes from the records of the Southwest Tennessee Conference. Operating from 1884-1888, its records cover a little earlier than that since there was some cleaning up of the membership records.

sometime in 1882
Casteel, Florida
Casteel, [illegible]

19 Jul 1882
Detrich, Francis M.

14/15 Nov 1882
Denton, Sam E.
Denton, Geo T.

Sometime in 1883
Nunneley, Miranda
Nunneley, Wm

15 Mar 1883
Denton, Jesse M.
Denton, Mary A.

26 Mar 1883
Stanfield, Eliza J.

28 Jul 1883
Miller, Nicholas Wm

November 1883 (based on other sources)
Braly, Octavia E.
Braley, Gaston La[Fayette] (See here.)
Braley, Nancy M. S.
Braley, Byron E.

15 Nov 1883
Denton, Elijah C.
Woods, Martha F L M
Balcomb, Jones S.
Miller, Sarah B
Miller, Mary B
Miller, John F

22 Mar 1884
Inmon, Samuel
Rainbolt, David A
Rainbolt, Betsy A
Clark, Merry S G
Miller, Phillip
Detrich, Argant
Denton, John W.
Denton, Rebecca J.
Rainbolt, Sarah E.
Miller, Virginia
Miller, Elizabeth F.

May 1885
Brown, Walter F[illegible]

18 Nov 1885
Cummings, Gordon Harvey

sometime in 1886
Brown, Sam'l David
Brown, Margaret
Brown, David Hugh

25 Aug 1886
Gilbert, Mary Catharine
Chambers, David Samuel
Chambers, Julihe Isabel
Barnett, Martha Ann
Gilbert, Leander Jackson

11 Nov 1886
Downing, [Sister]

1 Mar 1887
Acklin, Francis
McMurtrey, Frances Adaline
Gilbert, Thomas
Butler, Virginia Caroline
Gilbert, Martha Jane
Aaron, Elizabeth Ann
Gilbert, Ada M.
Aaron, Carolone E.
Aaron, Geo J. M.
Aaron, James M. E. M.

22 Nov 1887
Helton, Nancy Francis

Monday, November 10, 2014

Jacob F Miller - I find these people regard pleasure as a much worse evil than sin.

[A continuation of my GGGrandfather's missionary journal in Tennessee. For all his entries posted so far look here -bcrow]

Laurel Hill, Saturday June 2, 1883 Stopped last night with Prettyman Jones. He is much interested at present in a volume of sermons by one Benjamin Franklin, a Campbellite preacher. Visited Jefferson Lee today.

Laurel Hill, Monday June 4th 1883 Stopped Saturday night H. with Squire Felix Smith. Attended the meeting at the Baptist The Church yesterday. Preacher first read the 19th Chapter of First Corinthians then offered prayer. The reading however had been preceded by singing and was followed by singing. The preacher then took for his text the 13th verse of the chapter he had read and labored very hard to show first that repentance always, in and of necessity, and as taught by the Scriptures precedes Faith, and Second that as soon as one believes by the act of belief he obtains remission of sins and is saved. The minister then called upon the Methodist, Mr. Clark who had objected to us the preceding Sunday to pray after which he sang a hymn, prayed and then arranged for a meeting Saturday June 30th for the people to decide whether they wished him for a pastor or not. As the meeting was dismissed, I announced that by permission, the people generally known amongst them as Mormons would hold meeting there the next Sunday, and also that we would hold meeting at the Garner schoolhouse that afternoon. The Minister at once spoke up that he had forgotten to give out an appointment for a meeting in the afternoon, which he was going to hold. After we had got out of the house, Marion Pullham, a deacon of the Baptist Church called the attention of the congregation and announced that the appointment given out for next Sunday was objected to by the Church. I replied that it would then be withdrawn. I understand that warm words occurred about the affair after we left the house. We took dinner at Squire Smiths and came on up to our appointment at the Garner schoolhouse where we are writing today but which is in Putnam Co. and must therefore belong to some other district aside from Laurel Hill. We had a good audience. Stopped with the Clemmens Brothers last night and until after dinner today.

Laurel Hill, June 6, 1883 Stopped night before last at John Jones' in Buffalo Valley. Yesterday Sophronia Welch a neighbor of Mr. Jones sent for us to come and pray for her. We had no oil but held prayer in the house and then prayed for her, placing our hands on her head as in administration. I asked her if she was in much pain. She replied "not now." I asked her if she felt better to which she replied that she did. I then  explained to her our method of administering to the sick, told her that we had so far been unable to procure any oil, but would endeavor to do so, and enquired as to whether she wished us to return if we got the oil. She replied that she did. We went to the drugstore kept by Mr. Gilliam the Baptist Pastor of the Sunday before. He had sent for Olive oil and received sweet oil instead. He was very polite and told us of a neighbor, Captain Mr. Gee who was wishing to see us. We stopped last night at S. H. Smith's. He told us that Mr. Bartlett had gone to a lawyer for advice about disposing of the Church and had been advised to complete it and then sell it if the Church did not pay him what he had advanced above his donation. Mr. Smith added that the Church would never pay him, they were not able to do so. Squire Smith had told us that Bartlett was talking of selling the Church and he hoped that he would do it. We came here to Dr. Sybert's today to write our mail. He informs me that Bartlett is intending to sell the Church and added if he does we are going to buy it for a schoolhouse and hold it free for all denominations to preach in. The weather is very warm with frequent showers. We stay at Dr. Sybert tonight.

Laurel Hill June 8, 1883 Fasted yesterday until supper. Visited Mrs. Welch. She was sitting up and is better. Both Mr. and Mrs. Welch urged us to call on them when we were passing and Mrs. Welch wished us to hold meeting as she was unable to attend at the Garner schoolhouse. We stopped last night at Capt. McGee's, a neighbor of his, Mr. Wallace spending the evening with us. McGee is a Christian without a Church. We meet a number of these men who unwilling to accept the Doctrine taught by any of the denominations, have established a code for themselves, and my experience has been that such men are more inclined to bend the truth to serve their opinions than men who have with their opinions the belief of the community and the tradition of their fathers. Perhaps this is from the egotism of human nature displaying itself in supporting out all hazards opinions so peculiarly their own both in origin and faith. The Captain received us very kindly and urged us to call again. Stopped last night at W. E. Bartlett's. Learn of a Methodist meeting this evening, which we are expecting to attend. 

Garner Schoolhouse, Monday June 11, 1883 Attended Methodist meeting last Saturday night. The circuit rider gave a discourse, taking for his text First Thessalonians Fifth Chapter Twenty-third verse. [I'll quote it here so you don't have to look it up: And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.]  I find these people regard pleasure as a much worse evil than sin. Saturday night we stopped with Mayberry Smith, a son-in- law of W. E. Bartlett's. Sunday we came here expecting to hear Mr. Chaffin, but it rained severely during the forenoon and no one but ourselves reached the schoolhouse. The rain ceasing, we went to George Jones' for  dinner and returning found a large congregation for the building. Elder Holbrook spoke less than ten minutes, I  followed speaking an hour, but being tired from our rapid climbing up the hill I found the effort at speaking very tiresome. We stopped over night with James Jones, an uncle of George Jones. Talking of war times, he relates an anecdote of a man with whom he was acquainted who fled to Kentucky, afterward attempted to visit his family here and was captured by some of his neighbors who first cut off his arms at the elbows, afterwards at the shoulders, then cut out his tongue and finally shot him. I gave out an appointment for meeting here on Sunday July 1st at 3 P.M. I think the Campbellites here were convinced yesterday that we were not teaching Campbellite doctrines. That has been talked considerably by them and by other parties but I think the remarks yesterday would give them some idea of a vast difference between us.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Saved by Divine Guidance 1943 (or 1913ish)

What follows is a story of the kind that missionaries love to tell. I shared such stories on my mission in Hong Kong and I've head such stories from missionaries who have served the world over. Here is one such story from East Tennessee, as recorded in the Church Archives, without commentary or validation. According to the record, it comes from a letter written by Lyle J. Smith to the mission home in the fall of 1943.

"Last summer my companion and I were doing country work in an area seldom visited by the elders. As we approached a small cabin the occupant, a small old man, covered his face as the tears streamed down his cheeks. In asking what was the matter, he stated that he knew we were Mormon elders, though we had not intentionally given him any reason for believing so. He then related the following: 

" 'About thirty years ago, my brother and I operated a water propelled saw mill. On either side of the stream lived a family of Mormons and it was the habit of the elders to pass through the mill on their way to the members.

" 'As there was quite a bit of religious excitement in the community over the elders and as several threats had been made on their lives, we took it upon ourselves to rid the country of them. Knowing that they passed almost daily through the mill we arranged a trap door which, when the elders' weight was upon it, would open and throw them into a water chute which was filled with sixteen feet of water. Then when they had drowned, we would open the chute and empty their bodies into the river and the country would be rid of them.

" 'We did this and the day for the elders came and we went about our usual work. We saw them coming and busied ourselves sawing a log about two hundred feet from the trap. The elders approached the mill and when about ten feet from the trap stopped, looked at each other spoke a few words, turned, and went out of the mill and beat their way through a weed and briar infested path around the mill. That was the only time they had ever done that and I know that God guided those two elders from the path of death.'

" "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."—-23rd Psalms. 

Before you ask, I must tell you that I have looked in vain for Elder Lyle J. Smith. He does not exist. No missionary by that name served in Tennessee, or anywhere else as far as I can tell. But I did find, serving in the East Tennessee District in the summers of 1942 and 1943 an Elder Lyle J. Smart. I know it is more that just a slight difference, though perhaps a poorly hand written letter might have been mistranscribed just enough somewhere along the way. The version I was working with was typed, and certainly several iterations away from the original. Is the answer that simple? I don't know. But if I accept that the story was not made up out of whole cloth (It wouldn't be the first time someone made up an inspiring story) then this would explain why I couldn't find the reported source.

As for Elder Smart; He and his companions were working in an area near Knoxville...

"...among such isolated Saints where they are holding meetings, strengthening and instilling courage in the members' hearts, and performing the responsibilities given them by virtue of the Priesthood and their calling as missionaries."

Sadly, this lone reference was not specific enough to validate the story or isolate it to a specific location, since there were several areas with local members. The summer of 1943 there with 4 pairs of missionaries working in and around Knoxville. That same summer this photo was taken. Elder Smart is in the front row, on the right. Perhaps one of John Lyle Smart's descendants will see this and wonder this story really belongs to them. Or maybe they already know.

Left to Right - Front Row: Harvey A. Field; Don Hansen, District President;
James P Jensen, Mission President; Grant Skinner, Lyle J Smart.
Back Row: John Keller, Donald Foster, Jed Harris, Richard Coulam
And what about the two Elders from 1913ish? Well that is even too far removed with so few clues to go by. It isn't hard to come up with the names of those who served in East Tennessee that year. But even if we accept the story as it was told, there is no way to know if 1913 is even the right year, memories being as they are. There just isn't enough to go on yet.