Monday, August 3, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 21: The Missionaries Arrive in Cane Creek

Such inhuman acts as were committed against the brethren in Mississippi were but the forerunners for greater barbarism to be displayed by brutish men in the succeeding month. Up to the 10th of August nothing of importance happened. Elder [B.H.] Roberts, however, felt quite uneasy for the welfare of the Elders. This feeling he expressed from time to time in letters to President Morgan, though no cases for such were apparent.

This anxiety, nevertheless, was but the warning of the Lord that some great catastrophe was about to transpire. It was but the whisperings of the spirit to have the safety of the brethren at heart and to be fortified against the enemies of righteousness. The gloomy clouds were beginning already to gather themselves together to shed tears over two of the noblest martyrs that ever fell before the ax of religious bigotry. These fearful forebodings were none too true, as subsequent history proves.

This spirit did not exist long before it was turned to one of actual horror and deepest regret over one of the bloodiest scenes ever witnessed by any nation, barbarous or civilized. [Ed.—I don't want to minimize, in any way, the crimes that occurred at Cane Creek, but what a preposterous statement.]


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For some time Elders W.S. Gibbs [sic; John Henry Gibbs] and Wm. H. Jones had been traveling through the different States delivering lectures for the purpose of enlightening the people concerning the real motives of the Latter-Day Saints. In their rounds they came to Cane Creek, Lewis county, Tenn., and there met, unexpectedly, Elders W.S. Berry [William Shanks Berry] and Henry Thompson. Here the Elders had met with great success, previously having baptized several into the Church. One of these members was James Condor, at whose house the Elders gathered. On Sunday morning, the 10th of August, there having been a meeting appointed for 11 o'clock, Elders Gibbs and Thompson left the home of Brother Thomas Garrett, where they had stayed the previous night, and went to Brother Condor's where they met Elder Berry, and where they expected to hold the meeting.

Elder Jones had remained at Brother Garrett's to read a sermon and expected to go down to the appointed place of meeting later on. Having finished this, however, he started out to meet his brethren. To reach them he had to go about a mile down the creek. He had not proceeded more than half a mile when he was rushed upon by some twelve or fourteen men who were disguised completely by masks and old clothing. They came from the surrounding fields and woods and appeared to be much incited, both by their actions and looks, to deeds of deviltry. He was ordered to throw up his hands, which he did, shotguns and other weapons being presented at his body. This done they forced him to climb a fence, cross the field it enclosed, and to enter some woods lying at the further side. Having searched him they began to question him regarding the whereabouts of the Elders, especially of Elder Gibbs; but Elder Jones was not inclined to answer the men in full. Chagrined at this they determined to find out for themselves, so leaving a guard of four over Elder Jones the rest proceeded in the direction of Brother Condor's house. They had not gone far, though, before they returned, asked more questions, and soon left again in the direction of Brother Condor's. This time they left but one to guard Elder Jones, and told him to shoot to kill as soon as signs showed that the Elder was desirous of escaping.

Being thus alone with his guard Elder Jones immediately fell into conversation with him. The probable result of this exhibition of friendliness was the saving of his life. The guard informed him that he might escape without being hurt, and then ordered him to start through the woods in the direction of the road. They had not gone far before they heard a shot from in the direction of the house to which the mobbers had gone. This was followed, after a short pause, by several other shots, and then shortly after some eight or ten more.

"My God," cried the guard, "they are shooting among the women and children."

This exclamation on the part of the guard showed that the mob had gone to the house for the purpose of taking the Elder's lives. The guard then ordered the Elder to run for his life; this he did, the guard following behind, pistol in hand. Reaching the road, the Elder was informed by his now friend how to reach Shady Grove, where he could find safety. Here he arrived Monday morning.

(To be continued.)

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 25, Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, May 20, 1899, p 193.


Picture of the barn in Tennessee from www.flickr.com/photos/8272102@N04/497186679/. Picture of the trees in Tennessee from www.flickr.com/photos/rickbradley/1244624450/.

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