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...

W J CONDOR
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.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Jacob F. Miller - April 1883

[This is a continuation of the journal of Jacob Franklin Miller, as he serves a mission in middle Tennessee. - B. Crow]

Bairds Mills, Monday April 2, 1883 Held meeting March 25th at [Jefferson Davis] Simmons, Elder Adams preaching, myself and Elder Jackson bearing testimony. [J. D.] Simmons was ordained Teacher to succeed Elder Dennison in the Presidency of the Branch. Monday evening we held a meeting at George Burke's. Elder Adams speaking; Elder Jackson and Brother Dennison following with brief remarks. Tuesday evening we held a meeting at the same place. I spoke about an hour, was followed by brief remarks from Elder Jackson and Brother Dennison. Wednesday we went to Murfreesboro to see Elder Adams and Brother Dennison and family start. Came to Smyrna to spend the evening at Wm. Gwynn's. Stopped at Gwynn's Wednesday and Thursday nights. Stopped Friday night at James Summor's, Saturday night at Robert Gwynns, a brother of Wm. Gwynn's. Gwynns mother and sister and four gentlemen were in to see us during the evening. We remained in conversation until after 11 o'clock. Sunday morning we went to Brights, stopping there last night and coming on to the Huddleston place this morning. Received letter from my Father today and wrote in reply.

Bairds Mills, Friday April 6th 1883 According to agreement stopped at Mrs. McHenrys Monday evening and at George Burkes Tuesday. Miss Emma Cummings from Nashville arrived here Tuesday and her sister left her home Wednesday. Wrote to Joseph L. Clark at Quincy Monroe Co., Miss. on Tuesday, also to my Uncle Wm. Rawson. Stopped here at Sister Huddleston Wednesday. Fasted Thursday and spent the night at Charles Bottom's.

Bairds Mills, Friday April 13th 1883 Rec'd letter from home last Friday. My little Cousin Amy Foss is dead. Stopped Friday night at Wm. Barretes. Saturday we went to Suddes Creek and held meeting there stopping over night at Wm. Daniels. Sunday we held meeting again and stopped over night at James Robertson's. Monday we came back to the Huddleston place to post letters. Elder Jackson having received a letter of
instruction to which he wished to reply. He is instructed in connection with other Pres. of Conferences to travel alone and Presidents who have traveling companions are requested to report at once so that Elders may be sent out to take their places. Presidents are also requested to report the post office addresses of all Elders laboring in their Conferences. My address is reported at Flynn's Lick, Jackson Co. Stopped Monday
and Tuesday night at Huddleston's. Went to John Daniel's Wednesday. Stopped with him that night and the next night at Thomas Smith's. Came to Brights today. Received letters from my Father, from Wm. V. Carbine and from E. O. Wilcox. Geo. Steed is under arrest for shooting a man who had seduced his wife. Dr. Carrington is reported to have eloped with a daughter of W. O. Mayfield.

Bairds Mills, Sunday April 15, 1883 Stopped Friday night at Brights. Came to Huddleston's Saturday but spent the night at Geo. Burke's. It is storming hard and there seem to be little chance of holding a meeting today.

Laurel Hill, Saturday April 21st 1883 No meeting last Sunday stopped over night at [J. D.] Simmons. Stopped Monday night at B. P. Bright. Tuesday met Elder James A. Eldredge and Brigham A. Holbrook at G. P. Huddleston's. They had reached there from Chattanooga the day before. Were sent for by George Burke to administer to a sick child and stopped over night there. The child, as soon as we had administered, threw up a worm six inches long and rested easier during the night. Were sent for again by Burke Tuesday afternoon and all four went and administered to the child who seemed better. Leaving the others at Burke, Elders Eldredge and myself went to [J. D.] Simmons to pass the night. We met next day at Brights. Elders Holbrook and myself stopped overnight at Huddleston's. Received letters from my Father, E. B. Clark and J. H. Gibbs. Walter Walker of Farmington has been sold out. Wrote to my Father and to Emily Foss Tuesday. Thursday morning Elder Jackson and myself started for this place. It rained very hard during the day. Selecting a house at which we had concluded to stop we were met by a boy who told us that if we were wanting to stop over night we might as well pass on for they did not keep any one there. We sent him for his Father who, starting to make an excuse for turning us off, changed and invited us in. We were charged 25 cts each for supper, breakfast, and a night of lodging. After this, learning that we were Mormon Preachers, regret was expressed that they had not known that in time to have held an evening meeting. We were invited to stop a day or two and hold meeting. We made an appointment there for a meeting on the 29th. Last night we stopped with one Prettyman James. This morning we visited Jefferson Lee and took dinner today at Andrew Carr's, each friends made by the other Elders in their last labors. At the latter place we were handed a letter directed to the Mormon Teachers, which read as follows:

Dear Sirs
Word having reached me that you deny the body which I stand identified being the Church of God, that we have wandered off, that we have a form of Godliness but deny the power there of. Now sirs if either of you will meet me and affirm that the Church of the Ladder Day Saints is the Church of God I will deny or I will affirm that the Church that I stand identified with is the Church of God if you will deny. Or I will affirm that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance toward God and Baptism into the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit will secure the forgiveness of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit if you will deny. Or if you will affirm that miraculous gifts are necessary today and those belonging to the true Church can perform them and confer the Holy Ghost by the Laying of hands, I will deny. Now sirs let us have a friendly discussion of these and others points if you choose, or else it will be taken for granted that you cannot sustain what you teach. This is all through friendship seeking truth and dispelling error. You can give me an answer by some friend or through the mail direct to Buffalo Valley Tenn. And I will answer you as you may direct.
Yours Truly W. R. Chaffin

Flynns Lick, Monday April 23, 1883 Saturday night we stopped with two brothers named Clemmens. Sunday held meeting. A stormy day and but light attendance. Took dinner with a Doctor near by. Visited Mr. Smith. Stopped over night with Mr. Chaffin spending the whole night in conversation in the Scripture. Came on to Samples today.

Flynns Lick, Wednesday April 25, 1883 Stopped at Samples Monday and Tuesday night. Had a "log rolling" here yesterday and a dance last evening. A meeting is announced here for tomorrow evening.

Flynns Lick, Friday April 27, 1883 Stopped Wednesday night with Mr. Hoover at Whites Bend. Visited Mrs. Angus yesterday, and took dinner with Mr. Sherlock. Held meeting here last night.