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.

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