Wednesday, October 7, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 29: Early 1885

In this month an event occured [sic] in Carter county, Tenn., which will long be remembered by the people of that and the surrounding counties. On the 13th, Elders W.F. Garner and C.F. Christensen, of the North Carolina conference, were arrested on the following warrant:

State of Tenn
Carter Co.
Information having been made to me in writing, on oath, that C.F. Christensen, —— Farmer, —— Garner, —— Gibbs, did on or about the —— day April 1885, and at divers others days in the county and state aforesaid, did wilfully [sic], maliciously, knowingly, and feloniously teach, preach and promulgate the doctrine of polygamy, and that they did induce others, by words and persuasion to adopt or embrace polygamy, and to emigrate to another state or Territory, for the purpose of embracing polygamy. You are therefore commanded in the name of the state to forthwith arrest the said C.F. Christensen, Gibbs, Garner and Farmer and bring them before me or some other justice of said county, to be dealt with as the law directs. Given under my hand this twelfth day of May 1895 [sic; it was a decade earlier].

J.P. for Carter County.

They were taken to Roane Mountain [sic], in Carter county, for examination, having been arrested at night and forced to walk five miles. State Senator John M. Simerley [Simerly], of that county, swore out the warrant and prosecuted in the trial. An effort was made to force the Elders to a trial without counsel, but they were successfully resisted in this imposition, and obtained a postponement until the 18th of the same month. A bail was offered but was refused; the Elders had to suffer imprisonment at Elizabethton in consequence, the bail bond being five hundred dollars each which they were unable to raise.

President Morgan visited the brethren, in company with their attorney on the 17th, and decided to waive the preliminary examination, gave the necessary bail and waited till the July term in court. Messrs. Andrews and Thomburg [Thornburgh], of Knoxville, were engaged as counsel, and went on the bond, releasing the brethren on the 20th from their dismal prison, where they had for associates, thieves, cut-throats and murderers.

The state law by which the Elders were arrested defined, as unlawful, for any person to teach, preach or promulgate to others the doctrines or principles of polygamy; or to induce others to emigrate to another part of the United States for the purpose of practicing it; any one guilty of this should be subject to a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars or to imprisonment and hard labor for not over two years, or the infliction of both penalties.

Upon being released, the brethren once more took up their labors in the counties, and were received kindly by the people.

On the 25th of this month Elders Riley Cragun and F.A. Fraughton were stopping all night near the borders of the Catawba Indian reservation. At night an armed mob came to the house and demanded all the brethren to come out. Elder Cragun made his escape by the back door amid a shower of bullets, one of which struch [sic] him on the forehead, another in his face, neither inflicting a serious wound.

Elder Fraughton did not escape so well. He was caught by the mobocrats and given forty severe lashes. Among those prominent in the mob were John Allen, Fayette Crooks and Robert Cornwall.

The work during the month of June was of little importance. Council meetings were held in Mississippi, one in the southern part of the state and the other in Poutotoc county, where a branch of the church was organized. Elders arrived from Zion and were appointed to the various fields of labor. Baptisms were reported from many parts of the mission.

[Curious that this incident was up next in the history, since it was treated yesterday in Amateur Mormon Historian, including an interesting comment from Bessie, who continues to publish fascinating materials from John Morgan's diary on her blog.]

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 33, Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, July 15, 1899, p 259.

Picture of the Carter County Courthouse from The accompanying text says "Elizabethton, Tennessee Never could really figure out what the little white building is. Poss. the old county jail?" I can't find a date for the courthouse elsewhere.

1 comment:

  1. I have the journals of the missionaries Joseph Willey and Pinkney Head describing this incident more fully. The home they entered was one of my relatives Evans and Lucy Marsh Watts.