Monday, March 30, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 7: The Cowley-Barnett Mission

Feb. 24, 1898 [sic], Elders Henry W. Barnett of Payson City, Utah, and Mathias F. Cowley, of Salt Lake City, left the latter place as missionaries to the Southern States. They went direct, by instructions of President John Morgan, to Farmington, Graves county, Kentucky.

The inducement to visit that section was an invitation by Benjamin R. Turnlow, of the Campbellite church, who had relatives in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and who was desirous of seeing and hearing the Elders. The above named Elders were kindly received and well treated by Mr. Turnlow, and others in that vicinity. They spent one month in Graves county, entirely in Farmington and close proximity. They preached several times in a Campbellite church called Antioch, several times in the Farmington seminary, and once in the Josephite chapel. They found one member of the Josephite faith, Jefferson Turlow, who claimed to have been baptized in the early history of the church by President Wilford Woodruff. When he held Elders Barnett and Cowley he remarked that the preaching had the same good “ring” to it that first impressed him with the truth of the gospel. So far as known at that time these Elders were the first to visit and preach the true gospel in Graves county, Kentucky.

No great interest being manifest in their mission in that place, and an immediate necessity existing for Elders in Franklin county, Virginia, Elder Morgan had previously instructed them that in the event of little interest in Kentucky they could proceed to Virginia. They acted upon this suggestion, and left Kentucky by steamboat up the Ohio river, from Paducah, to Smithland and thence up the Cumberland rivers to Nashville, Tenn. They arrived in Virginia about the 20th of May. Elder Barnett preceding his companion one week. They went direct to the home of Col. Robert M. Harper, near Taylor’s store, Franklin county, Virginia, and in that neighborhood began missionary labor. They preached in a Union church in that vicinity and visited several families, but performed no baptisims [sic] in that immediate vicinity. From this point they went south about seventeen miles to Sontag, where they found a few members of the church and a number of others favorable and who afterwards embraced the gospel, during the ministrations of these Elders. From this point they returned by way of Rocky Mount, county seat of Franklin county, and Taylor’s store and went to the north east part of the county, and held meetings in a church called Ninever, visiting with Patrick Simmons, Wigton Richardson and other friends. From this point they crossed the Stanton river into Bedford county, where they found about five members of the church and a goodly number of friends. In these fields Elders Henry G. Boyle, Howard K. Coray, Thomas E. Daniels, Samuel Wosencroft, John D.H. McAllister, George Teasdale, John R. Winder, Jr., Moroni Reese and probably other Elders had labored and accomplished much good by sowing the seed, and reaping some fruit. Elders Barnett and Cowley labored as companions in Franklin and Bedford counties one year, held many public meetings in the woods, in private houses, in churches, and in school houses. They made new friends, strengthened the faith of the saints and baptised [sic] quite a number. About this time, May 1879, Elders Seth A. Langton and Frank A. Benson arrive from Utah. Elder Barnett took Brother Langton as a companion and continued in the same fields of labor one more year with encouraging success, bringing some into the church and extending the circle of friends.

In the mean time Elders Cowley and Benson went direct to Burk’s Garden, Tazewell county, Virginia, where they found a number of saints and hosts of friends. Burk’s Garden is quite historic in the southern mission, as having contributed many converts to the Church of Christ. Elder Jedediah M. Grant introduced the gospel into that place in 1839 or 1840 and performed a most wonderful work. His sermons and even the texts from which he preached were remembered by many people during the remainder of their lives from twenty to twenty-five years with great clearness, so deep and lasting was the impression of truth made upon their minds. One aged man, Col. Peter Lits, told Elders Benson and Cowley that he well remembered that Elder Grant read to them in manuscript the prophecy of Joseph Smith respecting the war of the rebellion which took place over twenty years after Elder Grant read the revelation to the people of Tazewell county, Virginia. They derided the prophecy, but lived to see its verification written in letters of blood and tears. This aged veteran, Peter Litz, [I’m typing straight from the Southern Star; I realize his name was just spelled differently] also testified that he received the evidence of the truth of the Book of Mormon by the appearance of a Heavenly messenger who commanded him to “Doubt No More.” Elders Benson and Cowley labored in Tazewell, Bland and Smythe counties, in each of which they held many meetings in public places and private houses: made many friends and baptized a goodly number of people, most of whom were the children or grandchildren of those who heard the gospel preached first by Elder J.M. Grant. In this field also Elders Boyle (this was his native county and he filled a mission in Virginia in the days of Nauvoo) Teasdale, David M. Stuart, Judge Dusenberry, T.B. Lewis and many other Elders had labored, Early in 1880 President Morgan visited Virginia and North Carolina and held conferences with the saints, Elders and people. Elder Cowley accompanied him to Surry county, N.C., wher [sic] they met Elders Beck, Spence, James H. Moyle and one other Elder and held a conference. During the winter and spring of 1879-80 Elders I.P. Helm and William W. Fife came to Virginia and assisted Elders Benson and Cowley in their field of labor. Elders G.R. Hill and R.A. Ballantyne, of Ogden, also spent a short time in Virginia. In March, 1880, Elder H.G. Boyle again returned to the south and succeeded Elder Barnett as President of the Virginia conference. Elder Benson went to West Virginia with Elder Aaron Thatcher. Elder Thomas Farr joined Elder Langton in his field of labor, and Elders Barnett and Cowley were released to come home. The last named Elders were in Virginia a few days less than two years. For the first year they were the only Elders in the state, the next year there were four Elders and for a few month [sic] in the second year, six Elders. The number of baptisms performed were 114, with about fifty souls emigrated. Many children were blessed, and the circle of friends to the cause of truth, greatly extended.

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 7. Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, January 14, 1899.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 6: Standing Trial

August opened up with considerable gloom, owing to the tragic death of Elder Standing. The Elders in their various fields of labor continued to proclaim the Gospel to the people, notwithstanding the ugly nature of the opposition met with; a number of baptisms were reported from the different Conferences.

Sept. 14 a meeting was held at Shady Grove, in Hickman county, Tennessee, and during the week a number were held in different portions of the county, closing the week, with a forenoon and afternoon meeting at which a baptism was reported.

Elder Joseph H. Parry was released to return home with a colony of emigrants, twenty in number, all of whom arrived safely at their destination.

The latter part of September favorable reports came in, showing results of the Elders’ labors throughout the mission.

The first Monday in the month of October, 1879, the Whitfield county court met and the indictment against the assassins of Elder Standing was taken up. Jasper W. Nations, Hugh Blair and Andrew Bradley having been apprehended in the state of Tennessee. They secured bonds of $5,000 each and were given their liberty. On the 16th inst the court began the task of empanneling [sic] a jury, but 148 were passed before a panel could be secured. Thursday, Friday and Saturday were taken to enact the rather farcical proceedings, the defense finding no difficulty in securing perjured witnesses, while great pressure from the outside religious elements to bring about their discharge. Judge McCutchen, who had the affair in hand, delivered the following rather peculiar charge to the jury: “If two or more persons combine to commit an unlawful act, not having as its object the taking of human life, one of those engaged in the act goes beyond the purposes and intention and commits a homicide, he alone is guilty of the offense and the others in the party are not guilty of homicide in any of its degrees, either as principal or as accessories.”

The prosecution not being able to prove who fired the fatal shot, left the rest of the mob “guiltless,” so Jasper N. Nations, the one plaintiff, was discharged. Hugh Blair was next arraigned on a charge of riot and false imprisonment; this also resulted in a failure to convict. Andrew Bradley was also placed on trial for breaking the peace. He also was discharged a free man.

Soon after this Elder Rudger Clawson, the principal witness against the murderers and companion of the late martyr, returned home.

November—During the early part of this month the branches of the church in Georgia were visited by President Morgan; also the city of Atlanta was visited and a lecture delivered on the subject of Utah and the Religious Belief of Her Citizens.

On the 20th of November a large company of Saints were gathered from Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia to the depot at Chattanooga, where they took train for the west with Colorado as their objective point. At Nashville the company was augmented by some more Saints from Tennessee. At Columbus, Ky., they were joined by some from Mississippi, so a company of 110 proceeded to Alamoosa, Colo., where they were met by Saints and old friends, who had located at Manassa, with teams and wagons and welcomed into their new home. President Morgan accompanied them to their destination.

December—Reports were received from Elders M.F. Cowley, James H. Moyle, George R. Hill, Richard Ballantyne, Moroni Pickett and Benjamin Harker, of baptisms, new openings and arduous trips all punctuated with opposition from the preachers, pulpits and press, closing the year, on the whole, however, very encouragingly.

(To be Continued.)

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 6, Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, January 7, 1899.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Seventies in the Eighties

William G. Hartley, "The Seventies in the 1880s: Revelations and Reorganizing," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Volume 16, Number 1, Spring 1983, pp 62-88.

The decade of the 1880s was a time of transition for the institution of the Seventies.

Quorums existed in local wards and stakes and seven Presidents of the Seventies presided over all the quorums. In the beginning of the 1880s, the presidents were aged, and the duties of the local seventies were in some confusion, understanding their scriptural injunction to share the gospel, but with questions as to how this should be done, but as the 1880s progressed, the older presidents passed on and were replaced by younger men. Some of the major efforts of the time included revitalizing the seventies quorums for the purpose of spreading the gospel by training and providing missionaries and supporting the families of those on missions, and encouraging adherence to the Word of Wisdom, which was seen as an optional church program back then by some members (kind of like food storage or getting out of debt is now). The article records a revelation given to John Taylor dealing with the reorganization.

It was at this time (October 7, 1884) that John Morgan was called as one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy. He was assigned the responsibility for overseeing the First District, a group of twenty-six quorums of seventies.

Hartley noted that Joseph Smith made a statement that if he lived to be 85, he would see the Savior come. Based on that statement, some Mormons expected the Second Coming in 1890. The Fourth Quorum minutes from September 8, 1890 records the following:
John Morgan said there are likely to be many more quorums of 70s organized (there were now over 100), there are many erroneous notions entertained by the 70s in regard to preaching the Gospel, that their missions would necessarily be short; that the end is very near and the Elders about to be called home &c, but in such things they are mistaken, as the Gospel is to be preached to all nations and will necessarily take a long time; the work has hardly commenced....not half the counties in the United States (Southern States especially) have ever heard the Gospel preached.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 5: The Murder of Joseph Standing

Joseph Standing (seated), Rudger Clawson (standing) as missionaries in Georgia.

In Clay and Cherokee county, of North Carolina, the mob spirit prevailed to such an extent that the Elders were forced to hide themselves in the woods.

Elder Joseph H. Parry, while staying at the home of William Webster, was attacked by a mob and severely beaten with hickory withes.

On the night of July 20 a mob broke into the houses of some of the Saints in the Brasstown branch and severely whipped both men and women, threatening still further violence unless they left the neighborhood immediately. Some of the Saints were seriously injured and all were badly frightened, some leaving their lands, improvements and other property in the hands of their tormenters.

About the middle of the month Elder Joseph Standing and Rudger Clawson started from their field of labor in Union and Fannin counties to attend the state conference to be held in Haywood Valley, Chattooga county, Georgia. On the way they called at Varnells Station to visit the Saints, arriving there on the night of July 19th, 1879. They staid over night and Sunday at the home of Mr. Henry Holsten, where the day was quietly spent singing and conversing on the gospel.

After breakfast Monday morning, July 21st, they walked over to a Mr. Loggins, a distance of about a mile, to look after their clothing; as they were on the way back, while walking along the public roads near the line of Catoosa and Whitfield counties, they were suddenly arrested by an armed mob of twelve persons whose names are as follows: Jasper N. Nations, Hugh Blair, David Nations, Mac McClure, Andrew Bradley, Joseph Nations, James Faucett, Benjamin Clark, David Clark, Jefferson Hunt, William Nations, A.L. Smith.

All these men were citizens of the surrounding territory and the most of them claiming membership in the churches near their homes.

The Elders were turned from the road and with many threats of violence, compelled to accompany the gang through the woods to an isolated place; as they were walking along Benjamin Clark, a Baptist deacon, struck Elder Clawson a heavy blow with a club from behind, nearly felling him to the ground. While passing a spring of water, Elder Standing requested to be permitted to get a drink. A temporary halt was made while he drank, after which a conversation was had, the two men being separated some little distance, when suddenly Elder Standing was shot in the face, by one of the miscreants, the ball striking him near the bridge of the nose, killing him almost instantly, he only groaned heavily, as he reeled and fell to the ground not speaking a word after being shot. The crowd then turned and pointing their guns at Elder Clawson, threatened to kill him. He calmly folded his arms and told them he was “not afraid to die” and to “shoot!” After a momentary hesitation, some one called out “Don’t shoot” and the guns were immediately lowered. Elder Clawson then walked over to the martyred Elder and raising his head placed his folded hat under it for a pillow. Turning to the murderers, he said indignantly: “It is a burning shame to shoot a man down in this way and leave him to die in the woods, either go and get help or let me go.”

After a brief consultation they told him he might go, which he did immediately, proceeding to Mr. Holsten’s, he broke the startling news and securing a horse he repaired to the coroner’s office to advise him of the occurrence. The Holston family on learning of the horrible killing hurried to the spot where they found the gang had fired a number of shots into the dead body of Elder Standing—no doubt to cover the trails of the actual murderer. They erected a bower of leaves and branches over the remains to shield them from the glaring July sun.

Elder Clawson sought the nearest telegraph office and wired President Morgan, who was in Salt Lake City, also Governor Colquitt, at Atlanta, and the county coroner at Dalton, briefly reciting the terrible event.

Late in the evening the coroner arrived and summoned a jury who returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased had come to his death from gunshot wounds inflicted by one or more of the parties who formed the mob, mentioning the names already given in this article.

A casket was secured and the body enclosed in, after which it was taken by a wagon to Dalton and thence to Salt Lake City, accompanied by Elder Clawson. He arrived there on July 31st, and was met by relatives and friends, and interred at Salt Lake City, amid solemn and impressive ceremonies.

On July 25, 26 and 27 the Georgia Conference met in Haywood Valley and selected Elder A.S. Johnson, to succeed Elder Standing. The instruction there given were listened to with deep interest and the Saints, while resting under a solemn pall, as it were, still they returned to their homes strengthened in the faith.

(We expect to go further into all the details of this unfortunate affair, as well as the causes leading up to the same.—Ed.)

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 5, Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, December 31, 1898.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Morgan 4: Heber J. Grant to the Morgan Family

In 1937 a group of friends got together to celebrate B.H. Roberts' eightieth birthday (March 13). Roberts didn't have the privilege of attending the party since he died in 1934.

At the gathering, Heber J. Grant "made some remarks and spoke of Brother Morgan, who was a very intimate associate of Elder Roberts in the Southern States Mission, and afterwards became the president of the Southern States Mission. These remarks were sent to me to be read and corrected, and I have concluded, instead of correcting these remarks, to dictate, for the benefit of Brother Morgan’s family, not only what I said at this meeting, but some other items that I feel would be of interest to the family of my dearly beloved brother, the late John Morgan."

I have decided not to put the entire text online. It includes memories of Morgan's school, an extensive description of a run-in Morgan had with the Godbeites, anecdotes from experiences in the Southern States Mission, and an account of the Three Nephites story that is told in Sunday School manuals from time to time (which I will treat in a separate post). If you would like a copy of the letter, please contact me. Here is a tidbit from the letter:
Bishop Woolley notified the speakers that they did not like long meetings in the Thirteenth Ward [where Grant lived as a boy], an hour’s talking was all they wanted, and he would notify them at the end of the hour—if there were two home missionaries—that he would pull their coat-tails when the time was up. I used to sit in the northeast corner of the meeting house when I was a boy in my teens, and I had a habit of closing my watch very hard in the hope that the Bishop would hear it snap and pull some of the people’s coat tails when they would run over a little. Upon one occasion when Brother John Morgan was there the Bishop allowed him to talk for one hour and a half, and I can truthfully say that I was never more anxious in my life for anything than that the Bishop should not pull his coat-tail. It was one of the most remarkable sermons I ever listened to. When Brother Morgan finished his sermon, the Bishop jumped up and said: “We have had a spiritual feast, come often, Brother Morgan, and talk as long as you want.” And I decided that the Bishop knew whose coat-tails to pull.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sources on John Morgan

Information about John Morgan

Besides all the information I'm putting on the blog, there are also the following:

The John Hamilton Morgan Papers at the University of Utah Library

This collection takes up three feet of shelf space and includes a journal (1875-1892), letters, books and pamphlets he wrote, missionary and San Luis Valley records, and various materials that I assume were collected and used in the production of The Life and Ministry of John Morgan.

The John Hamilton Morgan Photograph Collection at the University of Utah Library

Richardson, Arthur M., and Nicholas G. Morgan. The Life and Ministry of John Morgan: For a Wise and Glorious Purpose. [S.l.]: N.G. Morgan, 1965.

I do not particularly like this biography. I've had a discussion with my dad if it's slightly better than having no biography (my position) or actually worse than having no biography (his position). He objects mainly to the erroneous genealogical data. I object to the lack of documentation (no footnotes; no sources listed), the lack of anything personal in the book, the almost total absence of Morgan's wives and children from the book, its general meandering nature, the editing of Morgan's early letters from his original spelling, wording, and punctuation, and the poor index.

On the other hand, it has a lot of lovely photographs of people and reproductions of letters and death threats. (Post on that subject to come.) It is more information in one place about John Morgan than there would be otherwise.

I bought a copy for $50 and see one listed for $70. Both prices seem fair, since it is not widely available.

Entry in the New Georgia Encyclopedia

Wow. This is a very good article. I'm impressed. It was written by the author of the dissertation "Praying with One Eye Open" (see below).

Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages

This biography disagrees on a couple of major points with The Life and Ministry. It only mentions one wife and says Morgan worked as an instructor at the university before opening Morgan Commercial College, whereas The Life and Ministry claims that he opened the Commercial College just weeks after arriving in Salt Lake City. This article seems to be mostly based on Andrew Jenson's LDS Biographical Encyclopedia.

Wikipedia article

What is to be said about wikipedia? I don't know who put most of this information up, but it seems to be pretty accurate except for a couple of broken links.

The Political Graveyard

Scan down the page for the short entry.

The Southern States Mission

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Latter Day Saints Southern Star. Chattanooga, Tenn.: Southern States Mission, 1898.

Mob Violence in the Southern States Mission

The fourth installment of the mission history mentioned the increasing violence against the missionaries in the Southern States Mission during the 1870s and 1880s. For an overview of the subject, download and read chapters three and four of :

Mason, Patrick Q. "Sinners in the hands of an angry mob: Violence against religious outsiders in the U.S. South, 1865-1910." Thesis (Ph.) University of Notre Dame, 2005.

[Ed. March 24, 2011 — Do not miss Mason's new book which treats the subject of violence against Mormons: Patrick Mason, The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South, Oxford University Press, 2011.]

Additionally, there is the recent dissertation:

Engel, Mary Ella. "Praying with One Eye Open: Mormons and Murder in Late-Nineteenth-Century Appalachian Georgia." Thesis, (Ph.D), University of Georgia, 2008.

This is not a link to the dissertation since I cannot find it online. It is a link to the Georgia article about Joseph Standing, which like the Morgan article, references this dissertation and is written by its author.

Fischer, David Hackett. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

For general information about the culture of the South and the roots of the violence against the missionaries.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 4

History of the Southern States Mission

The month of January, 1879, President Morgan spent in visiting the various branches of the church in Floyd, Chattooga, Walker and Coosa counties, inspiring the Saints and Elders to renewed faith and energies in their labors. During the latter part of the month President Morgan traveled into North Carolina, holding meetings and making many friends.

Elder Thos. Higham was transferred from the Tennessee Conference to the Georgia, with Varnell Station as his headquarters, and the surrounding territory as his field of labor.

The month of January closed with a good report in tracting and strenuous efforts having been made to create a spirit of investigation.

February, 1879, Elder John R. Holt reported the conversion and baptism of a prominent Wesleyan minister: a number of baptisms also reported from Mississippi and Georgia.

During President Morgan’s visit to North Carolina great efforts were made to open up new fields of labor, in which he was successful.

About Feb 20 to 26, at a meeting a number of members were ex-communicated in the McClemore’s Cove branch on account of apostacy, a detailed record of which was kept in the branch books.

March, 1879, a branch of the church was organized by President Morgan in the North Carolina Conference, after the conversion and baptism of thirteen souls.

Elders Parley P. Pratt and Daniel Stuart reported having traveled through the mountainous portions of Tennessee, a distance of about four hundred miles, holding many meetings, making friends and converts.

March 23, 1879, President Morgan left the south with a company of sixty-five emigrants for Colorado, who arrived at Alamoosa, Col., in fine spirits, and who were met by a party of Saints from Mamassa [sic; he means Manassa] with teams and wagons and taken to that place, while President Morgan continued on to Salt Lake City for Conference.

In the latter part of March Elder C.W. Hardy reported the baptism of four persons at Varnell’s Station and Elder Ralph Smith, while visiting Red Apple, Ala., baptized four converts.

On the 25th of March Elders J.H. Parry, Thos. Higham and Edlef Edlefsen were changed from the Georgia Conference to Cherokee county, North Carolina, arriving there on the 31st, having walked the entire distance, overland.

Elders J.H. Vannatta and James Patterson reported the baptism of eight members in Mississippi and a very kindly feeling for them, with prospects for additional baptisms.

April, 1879, Elders Parry, Higham and Edlefsen were visited by a party of nine armed men led by a Methodist preacher named Henry Green, who ordered them to leave the state, under severe penalties if they failed. They did not leave, and on April 3 a mass meeting was held and a committee appointed to inquire if they (the elders) intended to leave. They replied very emphatically, “No! positively no; not until the Lord says so.”

After the committee returned and made their report a brief consultation was held and the crowd dispersed, leaving them to return home without any molestation.

At the annual Conference in Salt Lake City, April 6, a company of fifteen Elders were called and set apart for the Southern states, which greatly pleased the President and struggling Elders in the field.

April 15 Elder John R. Holt reported the baptism of seventy-one converts in the Kentucky Conference.

May, 1879, Elder Rudger Clawson reported for duty and was appointed to travel with Elder Joseph Standing in the Georgia Conference. About this time Elder Andrew L. Johnson visited the branches of the Church in Walker, Chattooga and Floyd counties and organized a branch at Polk county, consisting of ten members, Elder John N. Robinson being appointed to provide.

During the month of June, 1879, thirteen Elders were called from Utah (Weber Stake), young men who had been actively engaged in M.I.A. work. They were accompanied by Elder David H. Perry, President of the Weber Stake, with his family. The Elders were assigned to different fields and President Perry and family visited Virginia and Kentucky and done much to allay prejudice and assist the Elders to proclaim the Gospel.

The latter part of June active work was done in the various fields, many new localities opened up, causing considerable agitation and opposition from the press and pulpit and causing some apprehension in certain localities.

The month of July, 1879, was noticeable in the history of the Mission for the number and violence of the mobs that were turned loose upon the Elders and Saints.

In the Kentucky Conference Elders Frank McDonald, Gordon S. Bills and Samuel Butterfield were beset by a mob while attending to the ordinance of baptism at George’s Creek, in Lawrence county, but by care and the blessings of God they passed through it without any trouble and succeeded in organizing a branch of the church.

(To be Continued.)

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 4, Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, December 24, 1898.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 3

During the month of January, 1878, Elder Henry G. Boyle was released to return home and Elder John Morgan was appointed to act as President of the Mission (a position he held continuously for thirteen years). It was during this month that Elders Mathias F. Cowley, David Williams, Andrew Johnson and Henry W. Barnett first appeared on the scene. In February, a debate was held at Cave Springs, Kentucky, creating very wide-spread interest.

President Morgan, with Elder Asa W. Sabine, visited Rome, Ga., and held a series of meetings, visited the various branches in the surrounding localities and established headquarters at Rome, Ga. It was decided during the month of April to publish three thousand tracts, and the order for same given.

Elder Joseph Standing reported for duty about this time and was assigned to labor in the State of Georgia, in the Georgia Conference.

Encouraging reports were received at headquarters from the Elders laboring in the Virginia Conference; but reports from Marshall county, Alabama, indicated a mobocratic spirit, the Elders being forced to leave.

Elders David Williams and Andrew Johnson opened up a new field of labor in Polk and Harolson counties, Georgia, finding a great many friends and some believers.

May, 1878, reports came in from all sides calling for more Elders, there being plenty of people desirous of hearing the Gospel. New districts were penetrated, where many had never heard the Gospel as taught by the Elders, converts and baptisms being reported frequently.

June, of 1878, is the first we hear of Elder Parley P. Pratt, who reported for duty and was assigned to labor in the Tennessee Conference in conjunction with Elder Edward Stevenson.

July reports indicated a very favorable progress in the decemination [sic] of truth and distribution of tracts.

August 6, 7 and 8 a conference was held at Haywood Valley, Ga., at which all the Elders laboring nearby were present, besides a great many Saints and friends. A Female Relief Society was organized to assist in the great work, and a request was formulated urging the Church Authorities to furnish more help. A total membership of 272 souls, with ten traveling Elders was also reported.

September, 1878, President Morgan, accompanied by Elder Joseph Standing, visited the Saints in McLemore’s Cove and opened up a new field of labor in Murray and Whitfield counties, in the Georgia Conference.

Elders W.H. Barnett and M.F. Cowley reported the conversion and baptism of seventeen souls in their field of labor and the organization of a branch of the Church in the state of Virginia.

Elder Russell Rogers walked through from Georgia to Bankston, Choctaw county, Miss., enduring many hardships, but arrived in safety.

On account of an epidemic of yellow fever prevailing, it was decided to not organize a company of emigrants for the season of 1878.

At the General Conference, held in Salt Lake, a company of twenty-one Elders were assigned to labor in the Southern States, all but three of whom reported duly for assignment. Reports generally indicated everything moving smoothly and pleasantly except in Walker county, where, by the blessing of the Lord and the devotion of the Saints, serious trouble was frustrated.

During the month of October, a Mr. Connelly rendered some very efficient service in securing suitable places to preach in and introducing them into new localities. Elders Morgan and Standing baptized six new converts and organized a church in Coosa county, Georgia.

November reports very encouraging throughout the Mission; the new Elders from Salt lake reporting up and assigned.

December President Morgan visited the Alabama Conference and appointed Elder Ralph Smith to preside over the Georgia Conference, vice Elder David Williams, released.

Elders Jonas W. Beck and Alexander Spencer reported that the Saints in North Carolina were much disorganized and steps were taken looking to remedy the trouble.

Elders Parley P. Pratt and Daniel Stuart were sent into East Tennessee to secure new openings to preach the Gospel. The year closed with no special incident to mark its departure other than already noted.

(To be Continued.)

Note: We were unable at this writing to secure a picture of President Morgan to present with this issue. It will be forthcoming as soon as secured.—Ed.

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 3, Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, December 17, 1898.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Morgan 4: John Morgan on the Southern States Mission

Guided By Providence
By John Morgan


Among the Elders selected to go upon missions in the fall of 1875, was James T. Lisonbee. He was assigned to the Southern States, and went to the State of Mississippi. There he met a few relatives, whom he visited, and sought an opportunity to preach the gospel to the people, but found no opening.

After a brief visit, he packed his books and clothing into a valise and started afoot across the country northward, intending to go to Tennessee and join Brother D. P. Rainey, whom he found, after a long and weary journey, almost bedfast with chills and fever.

After spending only a day and night with him, Elder Lisonbee started for the mountains of Northern Alabama, seemingly urged on by a spirit that would not let him rest.

He had no idea where he was going, or what he would find. Day by day he walked on, footsore and weary, without money and in a land of strangers. He often had to travel till a late hour in the night, before obtaining a place to sleep or a little supper.

He met rebuffs and then kindness; was sometimes well-cared for, and again hungry; and was often refused food and shelter.

He did not feel to stop by the wayside to preach, but pushed steadily ahead. He crossed the Tennessee River, climbed Sand Mountain, and one night found shelter with a man who sat up and talked till a late hour with him on the principles of the gospel.

When morning came Elder Lisonbee was putting his books back into his valise, preparatory to another start, when his host suggested that he stop and preach to them, which was readily assented to, on condition that a place could be obtained and anyone would provide for him during his stay.

Both of these things the man said he would attend to, and for the first time in several weeks he lay by for a rest.

A log church was secured, the people notified, and on Sunday a goodly crowd gathered to hear the new, strange doctrine that was to be preached.

Close attention was paid, and after the meeting, when he was again packing his books, preparatory to continuing his journey, one of his audience asked him to dinner, and suggested that some of the people might want to talk with him on the Bible.

Accompanying his newly-found friend home, which, by the way, took him in the direction he wanted to go, he found quite a few gathered together to hear something new. A lengthy and interesting fireside talk was held during the afternoon, and he was urged to hold another meeting.

An appointment was made for Tuesday night, at a private residence, where the room was filled, and still another appointment was made. A general desire began to be evinced to learn what the Latter-day Saints taught.

The ministers became alarmed, and besought the people not to hear him, and a mass meeting of the law-abiding (?) citizens was called to protest against the Elder being allowed to teach any longer. He continued, however, to hold his meetings. Friends sprang up on every side. He soon found some who desired baptism, and eventually succeeded in baptizing about thirty people, who immediately made preparations to emigrate. They disposed of their property, combined their means together and thereby helped the poor, and the Elder had the privilege of leading out, by the same road he traveled coming up the mountain, a goodly company, numbering some sixty or seventy souls. These people eventually located in San Luis Valley, Colorado, and are becoming good and prosperous Latter-day Saints. They will doubtless recognize, in this little sketch, a history of the manner in which the gospel came to them.

It will also serve to call to mind many incidents connected with the wise, prudent and unselfish labors of Elder Lisonbee, who was called upon to pass beyond the vail while on his return from his mission. While upon that mission he performed a work that will add to his glory while eternities shall endure, and set an example to young Elders every way worthy of imitation.

For further information, see Garth N. Jones. "James Thompson Lisonbee: San Luis Valley Gathering, 1876-78." Journal of Mormon History, Spring 2002 (Vol. 28; No. 1). I haven't read this article. Anybody have access to an old copy of the JMH?

Friday, March 6, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 2

April of 1877, a company of Saints were organized in Arkansas, under the leadership of Elders J.P. Wimmer and N.P. Beebe, to emigrate with wagon and teams across the plains to the settlements of the Saints in Arizona. The company numbered one hundred and forty souls, which was officered with Elder Wimmer as President, and two counsellors [sic], who were assisted by captains of companies of ten men for guards.

On the 3d of April President Boyle and Elder J.S. Page Jr., visited the State of Texas, in Basque county, to open up a new field of labor. While they were absent a conference was had in Chattooga county, North Georgia, in the Haywood church, Elders John Morgan, Thos. E. Murphy, James T. Lisonbee, Charles Brewerton and W.C. Whightman were in attendance, with a large delegation from the several States near by.

April 6th, 1877, President Boyle reported eleven Elders in the field, five organized branches of the Church, with a membership of 216 and a scattering membership of 60, being a total of 276; also the releases of Elders William Calder, Samuel Douglass, J.W. Thomas to return home.

During the summer of 1877, James T. Lisonbee and John Morgan traveled and preached in North Georgia and Alabama, baptizing twenty souls, principally in localities not heretofore visited.

October 6 and 7 a conference was held at the Haywood Valley Church, in Chatooga county, Georgia, at which strenuous efforts were made to organize a company of emigrants for the west, resulting the following month in the organization of a company of twenty souls, under the leadership of President Boyle, who left for Utah, and arrived in safety.

About the same time Elder James Argyle and John C. Sharp organized a small company of Saints from Tennessee.

On November 21 a company of eighty Saints was organized at Scottsboro, Ala., from Georgia and Alabama, who took the train at this station for the west, proceeding only as far as Pueblo, Colo., where they went into winter quarters, Elders Lisonbee, Morgan and Murphy accompanying them to their destination and leaving them. They proceeded home with an honorable release as their reward. This draft made on the working force of the mission was felt somewhat and false teachers began to try to lead the people astray.

During the month of December a new corps of Elders were sent to the field and the year closed with much good work recorded for the past year.

(To be continued.)

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 2, Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, December 10, 1898.

The picture of the Chatooga River from

Thursday, March 5, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 1

History of the Southern States Mission

The early history of this Mission is somewhat obscure from the fact that when the church first sent out missionaries into the various parts of the world, they had no definite idea of locating headquarters. It was during the year of 1875 that Elder Henry G. Boyle, of Pima, Graham county, Arizona, succeeded in establishing a branch at Shady Grove, Hickman county, Tenn., at which the initial move looking to establishing headquarters was begun.

At the October Conference, 1875, Salt Lake City, Utah, Elders George Teasdale, D.P. Bainey, Joseph Standing, John Morgan, John D.H. McCallister, David H. Perry and John Winder were called to labor in the Southern States Mission, all of whom reported to Elder Boyle, and at the first meeting elected him to preside over them.

The Mission record gives Elders Boyle and John D.H. McCallister credit for “a most successful mission in Prairie county, Arkansas, baptizing some eighty souls.”

During the summer of 1876, Elders Boyle, Rainey, Standing, McCallister, Teasdale and Winder returned home.

Elder James T. Lisonbee arrived in Mississippi during the month of June, 1876, and held a series of public meetings, allaying much prejudice.

The first official recognition given the new Mission was at the October Conference of 1876, when Elder Boyle was ordained and set apart to act as the President of the Southern States Mission, he having returned to Salt Lake City in response to a call; he returned, accompanied by Elders William Calder, J.W. Sharp, J.P. Wimmer, J.S. Page, Jr., Samuel Worsencroft, Samuel Douglas, Charles Brewerton, William C. Whightman, Joseph Argyle, J.W. Thomas, John C. Harper, Franklin Haymore.

Six states were then selected to labor in, as follows: Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, to which they traveled, in pairs much, as is done in this day. The year 1876 closed up with many baptisms being recorded in various parts of the Mission, and in North Georgia, Chattooga county, a branch of the church was organized.

January, 1877, opened up with bright prospects, the company being augmented by three Elders from Utah, and a great number of baptisms being reported from the fields of labor.

(To be Continued.)

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 1, Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, December 3, 1898.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

More on The Southern Star

The History of the Southern States Mission spans all of the issues of the Southern Star that I've seen so far. It's a fairly interesting read, so I'm going to type up each short section and post them along with biographical information about John Morgan.

As the weekly paper finished its first year of publication, a short history said the following:
For a number of years the need of a Mission paper in the Southern States has been earnestly contemplated. President Elias S. Kimball made a vigorous effort to establish a paper, but because of non-support he was compelled to abandon his hopes.

Ben E. Rich, when appointed to succeed Elias S. Kimball as President of the Southern States Mission, was informed about what had been done, and being enthused with the same spirit that actuated President Kimball, made a thorough investigation of the matter and was assured of the hearty support of the Elders in this Mission, and received the sanction of the authorities of the Church. Elder David P. Felt was called into the office from Georgia, and assisted in establishing the paper and acted as its first editor. Elder Ray Ashworth succeeded him, with Elder A.F. Cardon as his assistant. When these two brethren were released, President L.R. Anderson assumed control until the arrival of Elder Geo. E. Maycock from Utah.

The paper has held its head above water, and at the close of the first volume we have a few dollars to our credit. (Latter Day Saints Southern Star. Vol. 1, No. 52. Chattanooga, Tenn., Saturday, November 25, 1899.)
Other regular features of the Southern Star:
  • news from other mission fields of the church
  • reports of violence toward the members and missionaries of the church and their buildings in the Southern States Mission
  • conference addresses
  • devotional messages by mission leaders
  • ongoing reports on B.H. Roberts' bid for a seat in Congress
  • biographies of church leaders
  • inspirational quotes
  • short stories

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Latter Day Saints Southern Star

The Southern States Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published a weekly periodical, the Southern Star, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Volume 1 includes the years 1898-1899. The first several issues contain a history of the mission during the period that John Morgan served as mission president. Here is a portrait of John Morgan. If you search for his name, you can read various anecdotes and stories about him throughout the Southern Star.

Here is a paragraph from a conference address by Jonathan G. Kimball, one of the missionaries who worked with John Morgan. You would probably recognize him better by the name he went by later, J. Golden Kimball:
I desire to call your attention to an incident that occurred when I was laboring in the Southern states, in 1884. I went there in 1883. The year 1884 was a time of a sad experience in that mission. It was then that some of our Elders lost their lives by mob violence. It seemed we had but few friends. I was at the office in Chattanooga under Elder Roberts at the time. I picked up a Chattanooga Times one morning, and I was very much delighted to see in print these words, speaking of Elder John Morgan. It said: "To shake his hand was to be his friend." I have never forgotten it. When you shook John Morgan's hand and he looked into your face you always knew that you were his friend.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Morgan 4: John Morgan Biography—Salt Lake City

John Morgan found lodgings in the home of Bishop Joseph L. Heywood and with the encouragement of Superintendent of Common Schools Robert L. Campbell, lost no time in opening The Morgan Commercial College early in January 1867.

He started the College in a small downtown building but quickly moved to larger quarters at 257 South Main Street rented from Nicholas Groesbeck.

On November 26, 1867, Robert L. Campbell baptized John Morgan a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Nicholas Groesbeck sent his children to the College in exchange for part of the rent. In January 1868 his oldest daughter, Helen Melvina, began her studies. John asked Mellie to marry him in June 1868. He described the day in his journal.
In the language of Don Brucoult, I have slept on it, and all that I saw or dreamed of was: “Why don’t you propose?” My sleeping thoughts would go wandering through dreamland accompanied by the echo of: “Why don’t you propose?” In dreams me-thought I met an old friend and with ghastly grin he asked: “Why don’t you propose?” and then fled from me with a loud laugh that echoed back: “Why don’t you propose?” Awakening with a start, the watch that lay tick, tick, ticking on the table said as plain as words could say: “Why don’t you propose?” Sleeping, or working, or thinking it was all the same, and it all said: “Why don’t you propose?” The aspen tree—the water in the ditch in front seems to gurgle out: “Why don’t you propose?” There’s a bird that’s singing from branch to branch and singing merrily: “Why don’t you propose?” Turning to the blackboard on the wall, I see written plainer than was the inscription that the prophets of old interpreted: “Why don’t you propose?” The tinkling bell hanging from the neck of old crumply horn as she wends her way to the green pastures across the Jordan, chimes in: “Why don’t you propose?” The murmuring breezes as they float listlessly by seem to say: “Why don’t you propose?” The clock in the Old City Hall chimes out: “Why don’t you propose?”

So I did.
John and Mellie were married in the Endowment House on October 24, 1868. They set up residence in an apartment over the school.
The College continued to grow until it had to move to a larger site at 144 West 1st South Street. It had up to six hundred students enrolled at one time.

John and Mellie’s first child, Helen Melvina Morgan, was born in January 1870. Additional children were born in 1872, 1875, 1878, 1881, 1882, 1884, 1888, 1891, 1892, and 1894. At least three of the children died in early childhood.