Friday, July 31, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 20: More Mob Violence

In the last installment of the History of the Southern States Mission, it was June 1884 and the missionaries and members in the Southern States Mission were facing increasing violence and threats in the period before the Cane Creek Massacre of August 10, 1884. John Morgan still held his position as President of the Southern States Mission, but he was living and working in the Western United States, and B.H. Roberts was the on-site Acting President of the Southern States Mission. Once again, here is the history of the Mission as compiled and written by the editors of The Latter Day Saints Southern Star in 1899.

June had passed attended with some persecution in different parts of the mission. July's first three weeks went by with no disturbance of any moment. Reports from different fields bore the same message, "no interest." But at the closing it was to have an awakening.

For some time Elders Joseph Morrell [later President of the Cache Utah Stake] and J.W. Gailey [John William Gailey of Kaysville, Utah] had been visiting in Meshaba county, Mississippi. [There is no Meshaba County. The editors probably meant Neshoba County, which was also the site of the infamous murder of three Civil Rights workers.] Here they had met with encouraging success, holding a number of meetings and arousing thoroughly an interest in the Gospel among the honest in heart. A good field from which abundance seemingly could be reaped, had been tilled earnestly and, strange to say, without much disturbance from their enemies. Some talk of mobbing had been heard, but only as ripples on the surface. Satan, however, was not inactive. On the night of July 21 a mob of several men armed with shotguns and clubs, visited the house where the Elders were stopping, demanded the gentleman of the house to make a light. When this was done the mob ordered the Elders to go with them. This the Elders refused to do, but the mob, determined, leveled their shotguns upon the defenseless men and roughly marched them to the depths of some dense woods.

The Elders had not the remotest idea of what the intentions of the mob were, but presumed that it was to be a demand only for them to leave their fields of labor and go elsewhere. In this opinion they were correct; but when they thought to parley with the miscreants; that the mob was not determined in their actions they found their mistake. They imagined this uprising was but local in preparation, so on the following day they traveled some eight miles distant to fill an appointment. The spirit of opposition was widespread and at their new field they found a similar spirit to that of the other neighborhood; moreover, in this place it was more pronounced, as evidenced from the cruel torture which followed the threats. It was on the morning of the 24th of July that the opposition assumed a determined character. A mob of some twenty-five men visited the house where the Elders were then stopping and dragged them from the place amid shouts of fiendish delight, which ascended from the rascals' murderous hearts. To them it appeared to be glory to have the bravery while armed with every weapon of defense obtainable and supported by each other's ignoble encouragement, stirred up by satan's [sic] desires, to capture two Mormon Elders; despised by all, and as defenseless, as far as weapons were concerned, as new-born babes. They gloated over their honors and forced the brethren to accompany them to a secluded spot about a quarter of a mile into the woods, and there prepared to carry out the designs of the majority of the mob. Some cried, "Hang them!" others "Whip them!" They were divided as to what to do; the more they tried to come to a unity the nearer they approached quarreling, but this was averted by the Elders acting as peacemakers and restoring order. But still the ruffians were not satisfied; they thirsted for blood. At last they decided to whip them, so laid hands upon the Elders and with stout ropes bound them fast to great trees. Doubling a halter strap, members of the mob then unmercifully plied stripe after stripe to the quivering backs of the innocent men until fifteen had been administered to each. Then their fiendish desires seemed to be quenched somewhat; they loosed the brethren and skulked from the scene of their dastardly deeds as wolves from the gnawed bones of their victims.

It was only through the power of the Lord that the Elders stood the trying ordeal, but as is the case with all who suffer unjustly, the wounds were soothed by the Spirit of God and no great bodily harm came upon them.

The people, however, were turned by this action, from friends to enemies, and the Elders were coldly informed that they might seek other fields for prosecuting their labors. It is needless to say they did so.

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 24, Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, May 13, 1899, p 185.

Picture of the old church in Neshoba County, Mississippi from

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