Monday, June 1, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 16: Labors Continue under B.H. Roberts

[Continued from the previous installment. “June, 1883.—On the 1st inst. Elder J.T. Alexander was attacked by three masked men near Adairsville, Ga. He was taken by them into the woods, brutally kicked several times, and shot at by all three of the party, who then fled, supposing they had killed him, but fortunately he was not injured by their shots. One bullet passed through the crown of his hat, another through his coat, the third narrowly missing him.”]

June, 1883.—The moment the shots were fired Elder Alexander lost all consciousness. On recovering from his stupor, he made his way to the house of Brother Reid, one and a half miles distant. From there he was taken to Haywood Valley by Elder Parrish and Brother Barber, a local Elder, but as he did not seem to recover Elder Parrish brought him to Chattanooga, Tenn. From that point they started for his home, arriving in Salt Lake City on the night of June 11th. The press made light of this matter as did also the people in the vicinity where the outrage was perpetrated. On the 1st, 2d and 3d of June the Mississippi Conference convened at Central Academy, Panola county, Miss., with eleven Elders present. The instructions given to the Elders were interesting, instucting [sic] and caused them to rejoice in the good work. Elder T.H. Merrill, of the West Tennessee Conference, was released to return home, having fulfilled an honorable and faithful mission. Our next Conference was held on the 15th, 16th and 17th, near Springville, in St. Clair county, Ala., with fifteen Elders present. The meetings were sparsely attended, owing to the fact that they were but little advertised, because of violent threats which had been made by enemies. The Elders had been severely mobbed previous to this time, in August, 1881. The Saints and Elders enjoyed the Spirit of the Lord, and valuable instruction was imparted. During this month several baptisms were recorded, and a spirit of enquiry among the people seemed to be increasing.

July, 1883.—On the 1st the Georgia Conference was held in Haywood Valley, Chattoga county, Ga.; seven Elders from Utah were present; much valuable instruction was given and all present enjoyed the blessing of God. The meetings were held without molestation, notwithstanding threats were made, and notices were posted up near the place of meeting warning the Elders to leave that part of the State. The Saints and Elders prepared themselves for defense. A good time was had, and all felt to rejoice. Instructions were given in regard to emigration; also time announced as to when the next company expected to depart.

The only Conference to convene so far this season in the South where threats and violence were not made by enemies was in South Carolina. This was held near King’s Mountain on the 13th, 14th and 15th days of July; seven Elders were present. Elders C.E. Robinson and H. Miller reported an opening in York county among a remnant of the Catawba Indians. The reports from the Elders in this Conference clearly showed the work to be spreading, and that more extensive openings were being made.

The next Conference was held in North Carolina on the 27th, 28th and 29th of July, at Hollow Springs Church, Surry county, thirteen Elders being present. A good spirit prevailed during the whole of the time, and much good instruction was given. Several baptisms were reported during the month.

August, 1883.—The Virginia Conference was held on the 10th, 11th and 12th of this month in the beautiful spot known as Burke’s Garden, Tazewell county, Va.; eighteen Elders were present; several changes were made in the Conference. Elders N.W. Kimball and Joseph Smith were called to go into the northeastern part of the Old Dominion State to labor, while Elders J. Golden Kimball and C.A. Welch were appointed to travel and labor in the eastern part of West Virginia; Elders J.E. Woolley and companion, G.A. Biglow, were assigned to the southeastern part. Instructions were given to these brethren to open up new fileds [sic] of labor. During this month there appeared a number of editorials in The Chattanooga Times manifesting considerable bitterness. A reply was made to them, which was followed by editorials more vicious than the first. Again a reply was made to these, but the editor refused to publish it in his paper.

September, 1883.—On the 9th of September a party of six Elders, accompanied by Sister Haws, arrived from Utah and reported for service. Sister Haws came to join her husband who was laboring in the office at Chattanooga. On September 15th President B.H. Roberts visited East Tennessee and held a two days’ meeting in Union county. A large congregation was present, and much good was accomplished.

September 16th a party of ten Saints left Chattanooga en route for Colorado points. September 20th a statistical report was forwarded to the First Presidency in Salt Lake City, of which the following is a copy: For past six months ending August 31, 1883, 97 traveling Elders in the mission; 10 organized Conferences; 26 branches; 27 local Elders; 20 Priests; 10 teachers; 772 members; total, 779; number of souls baptized, 115; number emigrated, 91; children blessed, 31. The sad intelligence was received of the death of Elder Charles E. Robinson, which occurred at 1:15 o’clock on the morning of the 26th. Elder Robinson’s home was in Montpelier, Bear Lake county, Idaho. He died near Whitaker, York county, S.C.

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 19, Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, April 8, 1899, p 145.

The image of the "S.D. Darrough rail fence. St Clair Co.", Alabama, (1925) is the property of the Auburn University Libraries and is intended for non-commercial use. For information about obtaining high-resolution copies of this and other images in this collection, please contact the Auburn University Libraries Special Collections & Archives Department at or (334) 844-1732.
The image of the upside-down text from the
Southern Star is a little curiosity from the days of hand-set type.


  1. Ah, the joys of cold lead type!

  2. The death of Elder Robinson occured in the home of one of the Catawba Indians, who happened to be my relatives. The account is elaborated upon in the Missionary Journals I am working on.
    Judy Canty Martin