Monday, April 13, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 11: “The People Had Rendered the Verdict”

Friday, Nov. 19, they were joined at Columbus, Kentucky, by nineteen souls from Mississippi. Elder John W. Gibson, of North Ogden, came with them to Columbus. This addition gave us a company of 117 souls, men, women and children. A pleasant journey was had throughout, going by the way of St. Louis, Kansas City and Pueblo.

The company arrived in Manassa, Colo., Monday morning, Nov. 22, 1880, and were kindly received by the Saints of that place. This company was among the early settlers of Manassa, only a few companies having preceded them to that place.

After a few days’ visit, Elder Cowley returned to the south, and at St. Louis joined Elder John W. Taylor, these two Elders having been assigned as traveling companions. They were appointed by President Morgan to labor in Terrell county, Georgia, and as far as can be learned, were the first Elders to introduce the Gospel into that section of Southwest Georgia. They arrived in Dawson Dec. 14, 1880, and were kindly received at the home of Mrs. Sarah Reynolds, who had relatives in the church in North Georgia. From this point the Elders extended their labors into various parts of the county and into Randolph. The climate was sickly, abounding in malarial swamps, so that in early spring President Morgan counseled the Elders to go north to Clayton county. During their stay they made many friends, and baptized two ladies, Mrs. Nannie Coxwell and her daughter, Mrs. Nancy McLendon. The latter now resides in Logan, Utah, the former being aged, died in the state of Georgia.

Agreeable to counsel of President Morgan, these Elders went to Clayton county April 14, 1881, where they found three members of the church, Brother L.T.D. McKinney, his wife and mother. They labored in Clayton, Henry and Campbell counties a few months, making many friends and baptizing one soul, a Miss McKinney. From this point they were invited to attend conference in Haralson county, Georgia, where they met President Morgan and most of the Elders of the Georgia and Alabama Conferences. In Clayton county Elders W.J. Packer and Samuel Bills also labored for a short time. After conference the Elders were assigned new companions, Elders Taylor and Packer laboring in Polk, Elders Cowley, Houston, Parkinson and Bean in Floyd. Early in September, 1881, Elders Cowley and Parkinson were sent to labor in the city of St. Louis, where a small branch of the church had been in existence for some time, presided over by Andrew Burman.

(Note—St. Louis was part of the Southern States Mission at this time, hence we note the labors of the Elders there. In later years it eliminated from the Southern States Mission proper.—Ed.)

The Saints rented a hall, 1310 Broadway, where they held Sunday school and meetings each Sabbath. The attendance was very light. During the week-days they labored in private, visiting friends from house to house and making some new friends. They labored ten months in St. Louis; Elder Cowley the entire time, Elders Parkinson, Howe and Glazier portions of the time; the latter named having been called to England early in 1882. During the spring of 1882 President Morgan and Elder Cowley accompanied another body of Saints to Manassa, Colo. About the time that Elders Cowley and Parkinson came to St. Louis Elder John W. Taylor was removed from the Georgia to the Kentucky Conference, where he, with other Elders, performed a most excellent work in Butler, Muhlenburg and other counties until the spring of 1882, when Elder Taylor was released to return home.

During the labors of the Elders in St. Louis their meetings were advertised regularly in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and the Missouri Republican. The columns of the former were liberally thrown open for the communications of the Elders. During the winter of ’81-82 the anti-polygamy furore [sic] was at its height throughout the nation; agitated chiefly by sectarian priests. A large meeting was held in St. Louis in the First Congregational church for the purpose of petitioning congress to pass more stringent anti-Mormon laws. The meeting was presided over and addressed by preachers and one or two lawyers. The addresses were bitter. It had been previously announced that all denominations might be represented but the Mormons. Mrs. Virginia L. Miner, a non-Mormon, asked the privilege to speak, presumably in defense of the rights of the Mormon people, but was denied. The chairman of the meeting announced that the question was not to be discussed pro and con, upon its merits. The people had rendered the verdict, and they were simply there to remonstrate against the practices of the Mormon people and petition congress to act against them. Resolutions were framed and when the vote for adoption was called a great many of the congregation did not respond in the affirmative and the negative vote was not called for.

A reply to the false assertions of these ministers and lawyers was written by Elder Cowley and co-laborers and was published in full in the columns of the Globe-Democrat with no unfavorable comment.

During the ten months’s labor of the Elders in St. Louis sixteen persons were added to the church, four of whom had previously been in the church, but had fallen away and joined themselves to the Reorganized church. Early in July, 1882, Elder Cowley was released to return home, and the St. Louis field was left in charge of Elder George E. Howe.

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 14, Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, March 4, 1899, p 106.


  1. In the Southern States Mission, Part 11 it talks of Elder W. J. Packer. This was of a lot of interst to me. In my 2nt Great grandmothers records it lists that she was batized by Elder W. J. Packer And Comfirmed by Elder Walter Scoot on the 5 Aug 1881 in Rome Floyd, Georgia. In your information it said Elder Packer was in Polk Co in 1881. Polk Co was next to Floyd Co. Is there a chance that you may have more informaation on Elder Packer or Elder Scoot.

    The story about elder John Morgans Missionary experance in the Heywood valley was not to far from where my grandmother lived. It was several years later that she was Baptized. I have several pictures of the valley. It is a wonderfull place.

    I served my mission in Georgia and served in Rome and loved it there. I also had the experance of going to Dalton Ga and cleaning Elder Joseph Standings Monument. I think I have a picture of the Monument if I can find it.

    Jim Lovell

  2. Thanks for commenting! How exciting to hear from a descendant of one of the converts from the mission. And you also served as a missionary in the area. What a wonderful experience. I always love to see pictures of the mission, if you have any you would like to send. Does your family lore include anything about the preacher Robert Edge?

    I do not find any more references to Elders Packer or Scott in either volume of the Southern Star.

    The Millennial Star from 1880 reports that Wm. J. Packer of Brigham City, Utah, had been called to the Southern States Mission. It also reports that Walter Scott of Provo, Utah, was called to serve in the Southern States.

    A quick look at rootsweb shows that William Jefferson Packer was born in 1848 in Salt Lake City and died in 1905 in Safford, Arizona. He was a great-uncle of President Boyd K. Packer.

    Walter Scott was born in 1853 in Provo, Utah, and died in 1914 in Provo. He had just married a second wife when he was called to the Southern States Mission.

    If you are interested in the condition of the mission at the time, you might be interested in reading the theses I have listed in the posts.

  3. Just a note of interest, I am not related to the people on this website, but am married to a Tanner that is descended from John Tanner. What I wanted to mention is that my family lore has a lot of Robert Edge in it. Both of my great great grandfather's were taught the gospel by him.

  4. Wonderful to hear about the connections that show up in the families of the church! I would be happy to see anything about the early history of the Southern States, as would Bruce at Amateur Mormon Historian. He is particularly interested in the early church in Tennessee.