Monday, July 28, 2014

A Conference in Memphis 1915

Top Row from Left to Right:—Charles J. Housley. John H. Stevenson, Francis S.
Lundell. Henry Child. Harvey Dalton, Wm. S. Hamblin. Bottom Row:—Samuel S.
Whitehead, Conway Wilkes, John L. Cleave, Conference President, Ira Gardner, Mission
President- Charles A. Callis, Thomas Wilson, Clarence H. Yates.

The conference at Memphis, Sept. 25th and 26th, was a splendid success. Pres. Callis was with us, stopping over a couple of days before leaving for the West to attend the general conference. He delivered powerful discourses on the principles of the Gospel. The traveling elders spoke well and with convincing power. The priesthood meetings were spirited and all enjoyed the counsel and advice received. Elder Henry Child, of the Virginia Conference, was present at our conference. He has been assigned to labor with us and we welcome him as our companion.

[Although the caption on the photo doesn't say so, this is the Middle Tennessee Conference, held in Memphis Sept 25 & 26, 1915 and published on October 26, 1915.  - B.Crow]

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Conder Family and Land Deeds.

What can the buying and selling of land tell us about the movements of people? In the case of my family, my parents bought a home when they planned on living there, and sold it when it was time to move. They moved frequently, by almost anyone's standards. But is it appropriate to apply those standards to a family in the late 19th century?

The family in question is one I have researched for some time. I have letters, newspaper accounts, obituaries, and now land deeds. In particular I have two land deeds. One describes the Jim and Malinda Conder selling 160 acres to Thomas Talley in 1898. The deed describes the land only in relation to land owned by Brantley Hudson: Malinda's father-in-law through her first husband. I know the Hudson's owned land on Cane Creek, so I had assumed the Conders were selling  their home on Cane Creek where the massacre occurred. It was smaller than the 300 acres other witnesses said they owned, but I guessed that perhaps they sold it in two separate sales. The fact that it took them 14 years to sell it could also be explained by the fact that no one wanted to buy the land because of its violent history.

Now, however, I have more evidence that casts my assumptions into doubt. The Deed book index for Lewis county indicated that in 1889 Malinda bought some land from James L. Sloan. Last week I was able to get back to the archives to look at the deed itself. Surprise! it was the same 160 acres she sold in 1898. Not surprisingly, this alters how I understand the Conder family's relocation after the shooting.

Sometime after 1884, the family moved. Every version says they would not live in that home after the shooting. But when did they move and to where?

 +In Apr 1889 Malinda (only her name is on the deed) bought 160 acres near Brantley Hudson, with the understanding that Banister Talley could remain on the land for the remainder of 1889.
 +In March 1895 residents in Lewis County say to W. W. Bean that no more Mormons live at Cane Creek.
 +In Nov 1895 Jim & Malinda's daughter, Vicie, married Will Haley and moved to Trace Creek.
 +In 1897 missionaries visited Jim & Malinda Conder in Perry County, 18 miles down river from their old home.
 +In Aug 1898 Jim & Malinda sold their 160 acres near Brantley Hudson to Thomas Talley, while allowing Ruben Mathis to continue removing timber until the end of the year.
 +In 1900 they were living next door to Will & Vicie Haley.
 +In 1911 and 1916 the family was still at Trace Creek when Jim, and then Malinda died. Their daughter Rachel moved in with Will & Vicie Haley.

There are several possible interpretations of these events. Up until now I assumed the two had moved to Perry county and tried to sell their land on Cane Creek because they were not willing to live there. Now I have to question that interpretation. Did they buy the 160 acres for the purpose of living there? Did they rent it out (to Banister Talley and Ruben Mathis) while staying in Perry County? Does owning land mean you lived there? It did for my parents, but it doesn't have to.

What happened to the land where their farm was? I can find no other deed transfers in either Jim or Malinda Conder's name. Did the land not belong to them as previous historians have assumed? I am left with more questions, than answers. But perhaps that is why I am addicted to historical research.

Monday, July 14, 2014

An Unexpected Trip to Dabbs Cemetery

Yesterday, I was on my way to drop off my oldest son at scout camp, and realized I would be passing right by the grave of Jim & Malinda Conder. It had been a while since I had been by there. On my first visit I found that his grave stone was broken in two. Both pieces were there, but the top portion was leaning up against the part still mounted on the ground. A few weeks ago I had seen a photo on his grave site where the two had been fixed, and I wanted to see first hand how well the job had been done.

I took the chance to take more careful notes about the way to Dabbs Cemetery where he is buried. Starting at the Hwy 48 & Hwy 20 junction, follow Hwy 48 south for 3.1 miles, turn left onto the unmarked road - it is called Fire Tower Road, but you won't find a sign saying it. You should see a big white sign for the Lewis State Forest. Drive south 3.8 miles to Kro Hollow Road and turn right. Stay on the paved road for about 0.6 miles. The cemetery in on the right, clearly visible from the road. If you don't see it, you haven't gone far enough. The first time I drove on the road I thought was venturing on someone's driveway near the end.

After parking I walked to the fence, battled the cobwebs on the gate, ducked under the ratchet strap holding the fence posts upright, and walked straight back to the graves. The wooden shed I used as a landmark last time was hidden behind some fallen branches, but I found my way anyhow. Below are Jim and Malinda Conder's headstone and foot stones; Jim on the left, Malinda on the right.

I was surprised at first that there was no indication that the grave marker had indeed been repaired. In fact, it didn't even look like the broken off portion had moved in the nearly two and a half years since my previous visit. Upon further inspection, the top had merely been placed on the bottom for the photo, not actually repaired.

Since I was there I decided it was time to decipher the writing on his headstone. Photos from my last visit had not turned out to have been clear enough to do this. So this time I was going to piece it out on site. The inscription reads...

JULY 11 1832
MCH 28 1911
Tread lightly upon 
this soil for beneath
this sod sleeps a
loving father

The markings on Malinda's stone have long since eroded away, leaving only a faintly discernible...

Malinda Conder

As I stood there, I pondered on the sacrifices these two made for the gospel truth and marveled at the humble nature of their graves. It is in keeping with what I have learned of their character in the years I have tried to study their lives. Though they could have asked for more from the Church, and were offered more on at least two occasions, they accepted very little.