Thursday, April 9, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 10: Mobs, Emigration, More about Mr. Edge

June, 1880, Sister Sarah Church, of Utah, visited the south, and while thus engaged made a number of appointments to preach, bearing her testimony to the Gospel as revealed through Joseph Smith. She traveled through portions of Tennessee and Mississippi. [I'd like to find out more about this woman.] [Ed.—Many thanks to Bruce at Amateur Mormon Historian who tracked down Sarah Ann Arterbury Church.]

Elder James Milliard, laboring in Autauga county, Alabama, reported considerable opposition to the work in his county, but a corresponding interest on the part of the honest seeker after righteousness and many friends made.

During the month of July in 1880 a branch of the church was organized near Felton, in Haralson county, Georgia, with a membership of twelve persons, by Elder Solomon C. Stephens. The baptism of five persons in White county, Georgia, under the administration of Elder T.H. Howard and Elder H.G. Boyle, reported a well attended conference at Tans Creek, Maury county, Tennessee, 500 people being present, with ten local Elders, at which a liberal shower of the spirit prevailed. A Priesthood meeting was held on the top of Pilot mountain, with the Elders, which was much enjoyed by those in attendance.

The month of August passed off without special incident other than reports of baptisms from Bedford county, Virginia, also in Polk county, Georgia, and Lawrence county, Kentucky, and the usual quota of opposition from the clergy in various portions.

September also was devoid of any special incidents except the organization of a branch at Lodi, in Montgomery county, Mississippi, and frequent reports of baptisms, much traveling and preaching.

October opens up with a report from Elder Joseph B. Keeler, of Provo, visiting White county, in Georgia, where he had opened up a new territory, preaching, tracting, and a very encouraging outlook thereabouts; in addition to this, Elder S.C. Stephenson reported the baptism of five persons in Haralson county, Georgia. An accession of new Elders from Salt Lake City was reported. During the latter part of October a mob of ruffians gathered in Laurence county, Georgia, and took Elders Gordon S. Bills and Daniel Densley from their beds and forcibly carried them across the country into a dense growth of trees, where preparations had been made to hang them, ropes and suitable trees having been selected for their nefarious purposes, but on their arrival some question arose as to some of the dastardly details, over which there was considerable wrangling, during which a man and woman, friends of the Elders, made their appearance on the scene, thus frightening the gang so greatly that they fled from their presence, leaving the Elders in safety and convincing them that the Lord had miraculously interposed in their behalf against a mob of wicked men.

Nov. 2, 1880, Elders M.F. Cowley and Jacob G. Bigler, Jr., left Salt Lake City to labor as missionaries in the Southern states. They journeyed together as far as Nashville, Tenn., where Elder Bigler, by counsel of President John Morgan, went to Kentucky as his field of labor. Elder Cowley went south to Chattanooga, where, according to instructions from President Morgan, he awaited the arrival of emigrating Saints from Georgia, Alabama and Virginia. Elder Cowley had been appointed to accompany this body of Saints to San Luis Valley, the location selected for the Southern Saints to colonize. Elder Cowley arrived in Chattanooga Nov. 9 and remained there just nine days while the Saints were collecting from Georgia and other points. In arranging transportation, looking after the baggage of the Saints and their general welfare, Elder Cowley was constantly and generously assisted by Ed F. Sisson, traveling passenger agent for the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Road. He also accompanied them to St. Louis, interesting himself to the utmost for the comfort and well being of the Saints. He was an old-time friend of President John Morgan and his unlimited and unchanging kindness to the Saints entitle him to honorable remembrance and let his name be recorded and emblazoned forever on the face of The Southern Star. At 10:45 a.m., Nov. 18, 1880, they left Chattanooga for Colorado over the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis road direct to Nashville, thence west to Columbus, Ky. At Huntington, Tenn., they were joined by about fifty-seven men, women and children from Henderson county, Tennessee. They were conducted to Huntington by Elder Franklin Spencer. This body of Saints had first been converted to the principles of the Gospel, faith, repentance, baptism, laying on of hands, gathering millennium, healing the sick, etc., by a mysterious preacher, giving his name as Robt. Edge. As Mr. Edge would not baptize them, and yet taught the necessity thereof, and told them if he had not authority to do so there were men on the earth who had, they learned by accusation of enemies, that Mr. Edge’s teaching was nothing more or less than Mormonism; they set out to find some Elders. They learned of Elders George Carver and Hyrum Belknap in Tennessee, and sent for them. These Elders baptized all of Mr. Edge’s converts who were old enough, with one or two exceptions. Mr. Edge went by inspiration. He never inquired the way to any point. He always knew what to do, asking no counsel from any man. Many sick were healed through his administration, some who had been invalids for years.

To be continued...

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 14, Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, March 4, 1899, p 105.

Photo of Autauga County from

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to know more about Sarah Church too. Mmmm.