Monday, April 20, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 13: More Work and Weather and an Innovation

In previous articles The Star readers have been informed that Elders M.F. Cowley and George C. Parkinson were assigned to labor in St. Louis, Missouri.

On account of the success which compensated their sedulous energies expended in the cause of truth, it was decided that the Mission Conference of 1881 should be held in that city. It convened on December 3d, with four Elders in attendance. Many Saints, friends and strangers came out to hear the words of truth as they fell from the lips of those inspired and duly commissioned servants of the Lamb of God.

After conference the Elders were given their respective fields of labor, which they immediately entered, and pursued their usual course of disseminating Gospel truths.

The year, which was now pending on the threshold of the present and in the act of identifying itself with the past, was characterized with signal success. The harvest was a prolific one, although the field had been made barren in many places by the odious misrepresentations circulated by the feigned Christian proselyters [sic] of Utah.

But little was accomplished during the first month of 1882, on account of the humidity of the weather and the fiendish spirit of mobocracy which prevailed in many of the states, especially Georgia. Even the Atlanta Constitution, which previously had befriended the Elders, now resorted to all kinds of opprobrious epithets in order to minimize the influence of the ambassadors of the Gospel of the Son of Man.

So ardently burned the fire of persecution in Georgia during the month of February that it was thought prudent to release a portion of the laboring corps of that state. President Walter Scott was one of the three fortunates honored with the “Thou hast magnified thy calling and God has called thee home.” Elder John Houston was chosen to fill the vacancy created by President Scott’s return to the vales of the Rockies.

Elders John Carter and Joseph B. Keeler were favored with a startling episode this month. While laboring near Head’s Ferry they were assaulted by a vindictive crowd, who fired upon them and drove them from their field. This rabble was led by two ministers and a dealer in equity. Their names are: Rev. Bryant, Rev. Forrester and Judge Sulton.

The Elders working in Perry county, Tennessee, were disturbed by some law breakers, who were immediately apprehended and brought to justice. Judge Bateman rendered an unbiased decision, and the culprits were forced to pay a fine of $25. The prosecuting attorney, Mr. Meeks, most honorably performed his duty and should be remembered as a defender and sustainer of the laws of his country. This was truly an innovation in the history of the Southern States Mission.

With March came the heavy spring rains, and it is said that they were so terrific that the whole country was flooded to such an extent as to render traveling almost impossible. Despite the unpropitious conditions, the Elders succeeded in converting and initiating several honest souls into the fold of Christ.

On the 22d of this month a company of one hundred and twenty-four gathered at Chattanooga and intermediate points, and started for Zion. They were accompanied to the San Louis [sic] valley, Colorado, by President Morgan and Elder Cowley.

West Tennessee was opened by several Elders under the leadership of Elder R.C. Camp, and from all reports it proved a fruitful field. In April conference was held in this section of the state, which proved to be very successful. Many Saints and friends were present and received with eagerness the spiritual food served them by the true servants of Christ.

At this conference President B.H. Roberts was released and Elder R.C. Camp chosen to fill the vacancy.

(In the same week’s paper is a lovely little story about the importance of keeping appointments. See the second and third columns of page 122.)

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 16, Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, March 18, 1899, p 121.

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