Friday, December 12, 2008

The Grave Marker

Wednesday, I found a local (Lewis County) newspaper clipping from 1943 briefly describing a dedication of the marker for the two members who died at Cane Creek. According to the paper, the land was purchased by the LDS Church and in June of 1934 a dedication ceremony was held. In attendance were twelve "Bishops" of the Mormon Church and a presiding Bishop by the name of Callius. I can only assume this is referring to Charles Callis, who has a historical relationship with the Southern States Mission.

Elder Callis served as a missionary in the Southern States from 1906-1908. After a Brief release he was recalled to be President of the South Carolina Conference and a few months later as President of the Southern States Mission.

He strongly believed in tracting, urging missionaries to spend 4 to 5 hours daily in this activity (so, he is the one I can blame). But also looked for more creative means. He would set up a tent in cities without members in which to preach. In the evening he would submit a summary of the sermon to the city paper editor. It was usually published. He would send a pair of missionaries to follow up with those who expressed an interest.

He moved the Mission headquarters from Chattanooga to Atlanta, where it is to this day. Ok, sort of. But you get the idea.

His daughter related this story in her biography of her father. "One hot day in Atlanta Papa was preaching in the Church there. All the windows and doors were open. He was delivering one of [his] hell fire and damnation talks, telling of the wicked. As he reached the climax he hit the pulpit and called out in a big voice, ‘Then in that day of judgment, Brothers and Sisters, what will those wicked stand in need of?’ He paused for a second or two to emphasize the point, and at that moment the ice man just passing by shouted ‘Ice!’ Well, it broke up the congregation to say the least, and Papa enjoyed the joke most of all."

In 1933 after 27 years in the south, 24 of them as Mission President, he was released from and was called to the Quorum of the Twelve.

My brief summary of Elder Callis could not possibly do him justice. At BYU I lived in the Charles Callis Hall for one semester (now torn down). I didn't know who he was then, and didn't appreciate who he was until today. But I have grown the appreciate the magnitude of his service with just a little research. So it is with great interest that I look for verification that it was he who dedicated the grave marker for John Riley Hutson, and William Martin Condor.

Kathleen Callis Larsen, A Biography of Charles Albert Callis and Grace Elizabeth Pack (1974), in Charles Callis Collection, BYU

Richard E. Bennett, Elder Charles A. Callis: Twentieth-Century Missionary


Ardis E. Parshall said...

My Alabama ancestors loved Elder Callis, and I guess he loved them -- he spoke at my great-grandmother's funeral in 1946. It's nice that you acknowledge his service this way.

I've got a post coming up soon on the tent services -- I'll link back to this post when I get it up.

Bruce Crow said...

Thanks Ardis. That's a wonderful story about your great grandmother and Elder Callis. Were you lucky enough for someone to have written down what he said?

I'm looking forward to the tent services post.

Any suggestions on locating another account of the dedication? I didn't see it in any of the online biographies of Elder Callis.

Bruce Crow said...

You know, B.H. Roberts was instrumental in getting Charles Callis back to church. Charles was of necessity working in coal mining just as Roberts was. The older Roberts by then a Seventy, saw something in Callis he recognized as potential and gave him the gentle prodding he needed to get his life in order.