Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Random Research Find

Having just written that I am fortunate to live in Nashville because I have access to some materials about the Tennessee Mormon Massacre at Cane Creek not available elsewhere. On Tuesday I was waiting to use a computer at the Public Library and decided to browse the Tennessee Reference collection. I had earlier located an article in a Lewis County book that shed light about the fate of the Condor sisters. So I wanted to see what else there was. But instead of picking up another book on Lewis County I picked up a book on Hickman County which is just north of Lewis county. Flipping through the table of contents I saw "The Mormon Massacre". I thought perhaps this would quote the oft quoted WPA account used by most local history books. But, boy, was I wrong.

What I found was an account written in 1974 by Lesley Talley which compared the WPA account against the oral tradition passed down in her family. The oral tradition was gathered from a resident of Hickman County, Court Talley, who claimed his grandfather, Rube Mathis, was the member of the mob which let Elder Jones escape. He further claimed that his uncle, Poole Talley was a member the Cane Creek branch and witnessed the massacre from outside the Condor home. Court Talley's version of the massacre combines the oral traditions of these two men. Miss Talley then compares the motivations attributed to the mob by the author of the WPA to the motivations asserted by Mormon authors. She then claims the true motivations were the ones related to her by Court Talley, which were that "the tragedy was caused by jealousy and that the members of the mob were nothing more than roughnecks."

As you might guess, new material in such a polarized subject would need some kind of verification. Any suggestions on what I could try?

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