Monday, May 25, 2015

Mormon(ish) Religious Enthusiasm in Ante Bellum Tennessee. Part 2

[This is a continuation of previous post, which you can find here.]

When we last left off, Elder was placing the blame for the apostasy on the shoulders of  William (aka Billy) and Alfred Young. So I tried to dig a little further into their history with the church. Their first encounter with the came while the two were visiting relatives in Gibson county, Tennessee. [Excerpt 1]. It was a spiritual experience for the two young men. Both describe a personal vision of the savior, which convinced them of the divine origin of the church. They were subsequently ordained to the priesthood. On their own initiative, the two visited many of their relatives in various parts of Tennessee where they baptized not just family members but others as well. They also told of casting out evil spirits and other miracles. [Excerpt 2].

I could not find a description of their version of what went on in Putnam county, but I was presented with this story from shortly after they left Gibson county and were on their way to Nauvoo. One of the families traveling with them had a teenage son who was "afflicted with an evil spirit." Alfred cast out the spirit which then moved into his own son. Then with William's help they cast the spirit out again. [Excerpt 3]

When Lee's letter (from the last post) was published in the Times and Seasons, it upset them very much. More on that in part 3, ...

[Excerpt 1]
"While they were all there together, the family listened to the missionary teachings of their relative John McIntosh and his companion Timmons, and were converted & baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons). Alfred recorded that during his conversion process, he had a personal vision of Christ, and his brother William afterward saw the same vision. They were so excited about their new religion that they traveled back to middle Tennessee to find their natural father Jacob Young and his family, with the intention of converting them also. In connection with others, they were involved in preaching the gospel of the Mormon church to relatives, friends and other people in Tennessee until about 60 had joined. During this time, they were impressed with the power of the new priesthood they possessed, and became more convinced than ever that the principles of the church were true." (see Life and Times of William (Billy) Young, p1)
[Excerpt 2]
The Young brothers (William and Alfred) were very enthusiastic about their new religion.
Without any calling from church leaders in Nauvoo, they traveled through parts of Tennessee
spreading the gospel among their relatives, friends and anyone else who would listen, baptizing
about 80 people and creating branches of the church. Alfred’s journal records experiences with
visions, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, casting out evil spirits and even raising a
person from the dead.” (see My Pioneer Ancestors, p29)

[Excerpt 2]
“Sometime in April my brother and myself arranged our affairs to gather to Nauvoo. In the midst of much persecution and annoyance which entailed on us some loss of property, we got started on our journey. On the way, we fell in company with a brother by the name of West with a family who were journeying to Nauvoo. He had a son 18 or 19 years of age who was afflicted with an evil spirit. He was continually making a noise and was very unpleasant company. The weather being showery we camped one day near a school house to dry our wet clothes. While I was in the house by myself someone made known to me that the mother of the lad wished me to lay hands on him for his recovery. When we attempted to do so, being strong, he contended with us and I simply rebuked the evil spirit. He came out of the lad and the latter lay at our feet a natural pleasant looking boy. But when the evil spirit went out of the boy, he entered into my oldest son, John William, who was standing near. He was at once seized with terrible contortions of body. This caused considerable excitement in camp. I took him up in my arms and started into the school house followed by my brother William. We laid him down and prayed, asking the Lord to give us power to cast out the evil spirit. We then laid hands on him, rebuked the evil spirit in the name of the Lord Jesus and bid it depart, and trouble us no more. It departed and left us in peace. Nothing of importance occurred during the remainder of the journey to Nauvoo, where we arrived on the 9th of June 1842.” (see Life and Times of William (Billy) Young, p32)


Monday, May 18, 2015

Mormon(ish) Religious Enthusiasm in Ante Bellum Tennessee. Part 1.

The date was 18 May 1842, the place Putnam county, Tennessee. Elder J. D. Lee wrote a letter to the editor of the Times and Seasons in Nauvoo, Illinois. He had arrived in Tennessee in March of 1842, and was quickly approached by a local missionary: Dr. Alfonzo Young. Lee was told of what was going on in a branch recently organized in Putnam county. Religious enthusiasm had apparently run amok (I love that word).

If Elder Lee is to be believed, local member Daniel Hunt presented himself as the fulfillment of a prophesy that someone would come to bind the dragon in the book of Revelation. They also faked raising the dead, using one of their own as the recipient of the miracle. They staged battles with unseen demons, and encouraged their followers to acts of frenzy during worship.

Based on the arrival of Elder Frost I would place the events described by Lee in April 1842. Elsewhere Lee placed the blame for this deplorable apostasy on the shoulders of William and Alfred Young, who had baptized the first converts, and organized the branch. More on them in part 2. ......

[Excerpt]
... They profess to be empowered with ten supernatural gifts, nine of them are contained in the 12th chapter of 1st Corinthians-raising the dead they claim as the 10th. Mr. Daniel Hunt, one of their coadjutors, in addition to the gifts above mentioned, claims to be the personage spoken of in the 20th chapter of Revelations who is to bind the dragon on a thousand years; he also professes to have the power to seal up unto eternal life. They have made six proselytes near the town of Alexandria, De Kalb county. The authenticity of the Book of Mormon was by them held in obscurity, and when interrogated on the subject they would reply, that the time would come when they should arrive at its contents; that the book was not designed to be taught to the Gentiles at present, and that it was only to be taught to the Jews in order to effect their restoration. They pretended to raise the dead while in Smith county, twenty miles distant from this place on two different occasions; one of these miraculous displays of the spirit, was exhibited in raising one of the above named ministers who died while on his mission to this place, and in performing this operation as well as many [other strange maneuvers], they would act as the spirit dictated, and when satan would approach them they would [bind up his hands]-this they did to prevent his influence over them-by a motion of the hands and accompanied with words uttered in a harsh heavy tone, this was the second revolution performed. They have some tremendous combats with the devil in order to prepare for the contest, they would take off their coats and hats and roll up their sleeves, as though they had a [Goliath] to encounter, and after an engagement of several hours, they would finally succeed in divesting the room of these demons; but frequently after the doors were closed great exertion was made to prevent their returning again. These were some of the effects of that spirit which animated the bosom of these counterfeit Mormons. They taught their converts to contend for the same spirit which they possessed, and when they obtained it and were impelled by it, it produced a change of countenance depicted with horror; a trembling, twitching, falling down and wallowing in the mud; others would snort like wild beasts, bark as dogs, run through the creek, pretending to sing and speak in tongues, crying prophecy, prophecy; others would lie in a swoon for several hours, and springing to their feet again, state that the spirit had commanded them to chastise certain characters who were present, and would then fall upon them with all their strength as though they were to be exterminated in reality; one of these young ladies fell on her knees before me, and said, although I was a stranger yet she loved me because I was a preacher, and attempted to put her arms around my neck; I put forth my hand and rebuked the evil spirit by which she was actuated, and she immediately fell to the earth and wept with shame. Those gentlemen I have not seen who introduced these principles into this neighborhood, they left here some time in the month of March, and directed their course for the western district of Tennessee. But this was the deplorable situation of these miserable and unfortunate proselytes when Dr. [Alfonzo] Young and myself came to their relief. This course of conduct, you are well aware, produced great opposition to the faith of the Latter Day Saints, particularly by those who were watching for iniquity, in so much that we were threatened with mobs if we did not leave the neighborhood immediately, stating that Mormonism had already destroyed the peace of some of their citizens; however, we did not regard threats, and knowing most [assuredly] if we should shrink from our duty and not proclaim against such proceedings, and discard all such conduct and folly as was exhibited in this place by these impostors, that we would not stand acquitted before that God to whom we must, as well as all men, render an impartial account of our stewardship.-Under these considerations I determined to try to remove the veil of obscurity, that sin should be reproved, and truth vindicated; so I frankly told them that the spirit by which they were actuated, [emanated] from Lucifer, the prince of darkness, and that its delusive influence would ultimately prove destructive to all the souls that were influenced by it if they did not resist it immediately. Elder Samuel Frost came to my assistance a few days after I arrived here, and has been laboring diligently with me ever since to remove the prejudice and erroneous notions that were imbibed by many in consequence of false teachings; and truly the Lord has blessed us, and confirmed the word by signs following; for the sick have been restored immediately by the prayer of faith through the atoning blood of the covenant, in the name of Jesus. Unclean spirits, also, have been subject to the priesthood through our administration in a number of instances, the most of those that were possessed of the evil spirit have been restored to their proper mind, indeed I never realized so sensibly the worth of the power of the priesthood since I have been called to the [ministry], as I did on this occasion.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Visit to Zion Cemetery. Woburn, Illinois

Last week work took me to a sales demo for some software my company sells. The trip took me withing striking distance of the Zion Cemetery in Bond County Illinois. I was driving and the addition of a side trip to the cemetery would only add about an hour to my drive.


Zion Church Cemetery is the final resting place of one of the surviving members of the Cane Creek Massacre (1884): Lizzie Garrett Baker.

It was Lizzie's father Isaiah Thomas Garrett, who helped two of the missionaries escape after the shooting. He also helped B. H. Roberts exhume the bodies to the two slain missionaries and send them back to Utah. All the while Tom was not a member of the LDS Church. For his neighborly kindness he was rewarded with death threats by the vigilantes. It only took a couple of months to rattle this otherwise fearless Civil War veteran and local constable. He sold what he could and abandoned what he could not sell before the end of 1884. He left in such haste that his wife Martha stayed behind with their daughter, Lizzie. He went north to his brother's home in Illinois. A couple months later his daughter Lizzie and her husband George Baker helped move Martha to Illinois as well. The four of them settled in Woburn, Bond County, Illinois, about 50 miles south of Tom's brother's farm.

George was a physician and immediately started a new practice. Tom and Martha, having left much of their wealth behind in Tennessee were forced to rely upon the kindness of family and strangers. Tom even wrote the Church asking for help from the many missionaries he sheltered during his years in Tennessee.

Martha died in 1887, just two years after arriving in their new home. My only source for Martha's birth and death dates were from a Find-a-Grave profile. It only recorded the year for each. While visiting the cemetery I could just make out the month and day for each as well. Sometimes it pays to go yourself. I also have a new mystery. Martha Garrett was born Martha Jane Lankford. But this stone reads Marth J. Brant Garrett, with Brant being in a place that hints at it being a last name, from perhaps a first husband. Mmmmmm.

Lizzie and George Baker had six children, two of which died young. Their children didn't stay in the area, moving to nearby Chicago, or far away Arizona. George died in 1903 & Lizzie died in 1935.


After the death of his wife, Tom moved in with his daughter, Lizzie. He moved between there and the home of his grandchildren until he died in 1910.  Sometime after his death, several of the Civil War veterans in Zion Cemetery had their gravestone replaced to commemorate their service, though I have not yet been able to pinpoint when or by whom. Sadly they misspelled his first name.