|Tunnel Hill. As Elder Joseph Standing criss-crossed Whitfield County in the months before his murder, he may have walked through the old railroad tunnel in Chetoogetta Mountain. In this picture, you can see through the newer 1928 tunnel. The 1850 tunnel is to the right of the newer one, and is partly covered by brush. You can still walk through the 1850 tunnel. Picture used under a Creative Commons license from SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent).|
This is the continuation of an occasional series with some Morgan-family related content from the history of the Southern States Mission. Previous content is listed in the Index to the History of the Southern States Mission, the list of Presidents of the Southern States Mission, and the index tag "Southern States Mission." [March 19 — Don't miss the follow-up post from Bessie on Ancestral Ties, "Joseph Standing. He Being Dead Yet Speaketh!"]
He Being Dead Yet Speaketh.
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN BY ELDER JOSEPH STANDING A SHORT TIME BEFORE HIS MARTYRDOM.
Elder Joseph Standing, prior to his death, often made his home with Brother B. J. Faucett and his wife Victoria, at Cassandra, Walker county, Ga. Brother and Sister Faueett are still living at the same old place, having been faithful members of the Church from before the martyrdom, having been baptized in November, 1877, by President John Morgan, who was then presiding over the mission. They received many letters from Elder Standing, three of which they have carefully preserved all these twenty-eight years, and which through the kindness of our worthy Saints before mentioned, we now have in our possession. The body of all three communications contains matter of a personal character; however there are a few appropriate sentiments of merit in each letter which show the nobility of character, the purity of soul, the integrity of heart, and the strength of testimony possessed by our martyred missionary companion. These extracts we have selected and herewith present them for the perusal of our readers, considering them worthy of preservation in The Journal. We have eliminated the salutation of each letter, inasmuch as the names of the addressees are given above, but we have quoted the dates and place of writing because Varnell Station was the depot where, a little to the west of which, the tragedy occurred. Recently we visited this place. We dipped water from the spring from which Elder Standing drank his last while in the hands of the mob, and stood upon the very spot where his lifeless body lay pierced by several bullets fired by members of the treacherous gang. There is a man now living a few rods from the scene of the murder, who saw the body immediately after the fatal shot was fired, and from him we secured the above details. The extracts are copied below just as they were written by Elder Standing over his own signature.—Editors.
Varnell Station, Whitfield County, Ga., Jan. 15th, 1878.
"On New Year's day I baptized three women, ordained one Elder, and organized a branch of six members, Brother Henry Huffaker presiding.
"I don't know now when I will be able to pay you a visit. Am pleased to know that all are holding on to the rod of iron that leads to the tree of life in the presence of God.
"As I become more familiar with the habits of the people, and the many evils into which they have fallen, I see how necessary it is for the Saints to humble themselves and seek for that spirit which can alone comfort and cheer. How strenuous should be the effort to gather out from this babel of confusion and discord, misery, and strife, to a place where we can more fully learn the ways of the Lord and walk in His paths."
"Varnell Station, Whitfield County, Ga., Oct. 22, 1878.
"When the Lord sees that His children are humble and prayerful, desirous of doing good. He will bless them, will fill their minds with wisdom and knowledge, and will unloose their tongues. It is too often the case that the hearers do not try to exercise faith in behalf of the speakers, asking God to fill his mouth with words of wisdom. When such is the case, it is not to be expected that instruction can be imparted. There is no better way of learning the Gospel than in trying to teach it."
He closes this letter with the invocation:
"May the Lord bless you as a branch, that the spirit of peace and union may be in your midst—that you may feel to rejoice in your tribulations, and be enabled to praise God in your sorrows. The Lord is God, all-powerful and He will succor His people."
"Varnell Station Whitfield County Ga., Dec. 1st, 1878.
"I am writing this at Brother Huffaker's. It is now p. m. I have an appointment for 3 o'clock, but it is raining so hard that I guess there will be no meeting. There are several persons who are 'on the fence,' undecided which side to take, but some will take the side of right.
Oh! if the Gospel path of salvation were but strewn with roses! Oh! that we could be wafted through the pearly gates of heaven on a popular breeze! Forever and forever would our voices be raised in praise to Thy holy name. But inasmuch as it is written that he who lives Godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution, how few there are who have the courage to stem the tide of a popular current. Each day that I live I feel that I have more cause to rejoice in the work of the Lord."
This letter closes with the wish: "If I could I would like to spend Christmas with you, and if I can conveniently do so I will."
Southern States Mission. "He Being Dead, Yet Speaketh." In Elder's Journal. Vol. 4, No. 7, January 1, 1907, 151-153.