Saturday, July 23, 2016

Adams Branch Conference in 1916

The mission news report described a branch conference July 23 attended by three missionaries. One was President Henry Child of the Middle Tennessee Conference. He traveled alone for the most part, visiting missionary pairs, providing training and direction.
"Elder Barrus, Rudd and Child met with the Saints of the Adams station in branch conference Sunday July 23rd. Two public meetings were held on this date. Both were well attended by members and investigators and a feast of both spiritual and temporal things enjoyed."
Indeed Adams in Robertson county did have a small branch with baptisms from 1907 to 1919. It appears that in about 1902 a Tennessee convert moved his large family to a the small community of Glenraven, about 2 miles south of Adams. Morris Samuel Robinson had joined the church in 1897 along with his wife. His two oldest sons were old enough to have been baptized themselves in Smith county just before the move and they had many Robinson relatives who had also joined the LDS Church in their old community. But once the Robinson family were in their new home they were the only members there. One historian named the Robinson family as one of two blacksmiths in Adams, though the census describes Morris as a "general farmer."

It is likely it took some time before the missionaries found their way to Adams. But it was 1907 before I can find any evidence of a visit. That year the Robinson's next oldest child turned 8 and was baptized as well. That he was baptized so close to his 8th birthday hints that the Robinson family had reconnected with the Church before that.

But the baptisms weren't limited to the Robinson family. In 1908 three more people joined the Church. They apparently were not related to the Robinsons, but they also moved to the Adams area from Smith county, so ....

There were more baptisms every couple years. Another family joined in 1914; Jady & Minnie Kirby and their children. They were from Kentucky and were not obviously related to any of the existing members. By 1916 there were perhaps 10 members and several children of record. The report above doesn't give a clue about attendance at the conference, but I can imagine a mixture of adults and children and guests of all ages. We can be reasonably confident that there was food.

Eventually the branch stopped growing. People moved away, and Adams had little to attract new members. The Robinson family moved to Colorado after 1912 but before 1920. I have not been able to narrow it down any further. The Kirby family were there. Jady & Minnie stayed in Adams for the rest of their lives. But the children moved away to Nashville in search of work. Like many small communities in Tennessee, Adams had little to entice the next generation to stay.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Missionary Letter - Silas W Ward

Chattanooga, Tenn, July 20 1916

Editor Times,
     Dear sir, I certainly appreciate your kindness in sending me the Parowan Times. No one knows the real value of a home paper until he gets in a far country. Though I have been away from Parowan but a few weeks, the paper is a most welcome visitor, and no time is lost until I have read every line in it. I read other papers containing news of the war and of events that take place in other parts of the world, but there is none as interesting  to me as are the events that take place at home.
     The short time that I have been away from home have proven to me to be interesting and instructive. No one can sense the value of mission until they have had the practical experience.
     I find a great contrast between the people and their environment of Tennessee, to the of the people of Utah and their environment. The soil here is very shallow and the plant food is limited. It takes a great amount of work to mature a crop. The principle crops are corn, wheat, cotton, and peanuts. The people are a hard working class working from daylight until dark and receive but little pay.
     The past month has been a stormy one for the Southern States and the storms have destroyed the crops in cash value amounting to ten millions of dollars. This loss will make times hard for the poorer class of people.
     We latter day Saints should be the happiest people on the earth (which I think we are) for being privileged to live in such a wonderful land as Utah, where soil is rich and deep and plenty of it. Another thing that makes Utah so much more pleasanter to live in is because the majority of the people are of one faith. Where there is unity there is strength. There are many conflicting religions here, (and I presume it is that same all over the world) claiming to be right and divine, A rational mind unwarped by sect or creed is likely to become bewildered and disgusted in its efforts to reach and embrace truth.
     We as Latter day Saints should take advantage of the opportunities that are placed before us and prepare ourselves for that great and dreadful day which is not far off.
     Wishing to thank you again for the paper.
I remain your truly.
Elder Silas W Ward

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Turner Sisters' Grave

This last weekend I attended the 2016 Mormon History Association annual conference. Because it was being held in Utah this year, I took the opportunity to visit a few places with connections to Tennessee.

I started my first day with a visit to the Salt Lake City Cemetery. I wanted to visit the graves of Josephine Turner and her sister Ada Rex. For those of you who may not remember, it is my theory that it was the baptism of Josephine Turner in May of 1884 by John H. Gibbs that led to a violent opposition to Mormon preaching in Lewis county, Tennessee. Josie and Ada left for Utah later that month to attend school. The missionaries continued along with their travels and didn't return for a couple months. By the time missionaries returned the opposition fervor turned violent and led to the death of Gibbs and another missionary William S. Berry on August 10, 1884. This has since become known as the Cane Creek Massacre.

Back in the west the sisters finished school and lived their lives. Josie's life took her for a while to Chicago, while Ada went to Idaho. Ada married, had a son, and divorced. Josie never married. Eventually the two moved in to a home in Salt Lake City, where they raised Ada's son together. It was there that the two lived the rest of their life, and died; Ada in 1940 and Josie in 1956. Not being flush with cash, Ada's son had them buried in the same plot. You can read more about them here.

The location of the plot was easy to find online. (W-6-7-1-E). But there was no photograph of the gravestone. This I intended to remedy on my visit. Armed with plot numbers and a cemetery map I drove to City Cemetery. I quickly found section W-6. Admittedly I had little understanding of the number scheme but I guessed I could wander section W-6 until I found what I was looking for. After 20 minutes in the section, and an encounter with a curious fox, I was unsuccessful. 

This cemetery, unlike many in Tennessee I have haunted, had an office with a very helpful staff. In 5 minutes I had a more detailed map than the one I found online marking the location of the plot along with neighboring graves for reference. This time it would be easy. I parked close to right section and walked straight to right place and found nothing. To be more specific I found grass but no marker. 

The neighboring graves told me I was in the right place but probably due to the families lack of resources, no stone marker was ever placed on their grave. I knew from my research that the family had struggled with money. I can only guess that in the midst of that struggle, money for a stone marker was not forthcoming. 

I can't help thinking they deserve one. But for now I will have to be satisfied with writing about them; the one kind of memorialization I can do best.