Monday, March 9, 2009

Morgan 4: John Morgan on the Southern States Mission

Guided By Providence
By John Morgan

ELDER LISONBEE'S MISSION—URGED BY THE SPIRIT TO TRAVEL ON—FINDS A LISTENER—INVITED TO PREACH—A PROTEST AGAINST IT—SUCCESS—HIS GREAT WORK—HIS DEATH.

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?

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