Wednesday, December 17, 2008

James Houston DePriest & Margaret Easibel Talley

One of the untold stories of the tragedy at Cane Creek Tennessee, is the number of people whose lives were forever altered by it. In the spirit of this I have begun looking at the names that appear in the various records I have run across to determine what happened to them afterwards.

James Houston DePriest (called Jim) was born on Dec 25th 1853 in Hickman County, Tennessee, to William Andrew and Nancy Jane Harder DePriest. Margaret Easibel Talley was born in Hickman County, Tennessee on Jun 23rd 1858 to Allen and Pheriba Henby Talley. They were married on 12 April 1877. James owned a small store in in Tennessee which along with farming, made a reasonable living for them. When they met the missionaries, they were living on Cane Creek, along with relatives on both sides of the family. After carefully consideration, they were baptized by Elder Martin Garn on January 28, 1880.

Their home, just down the creek from Margaret's brother, Elisha Talley, was frequently the location for meetings (singing practice, as well as the blessing of nine children, are mentioned by Hyrum Belnap), where the missionaries would eat dinner, and sometimes spend the night. According to Hyrum Belnap on September 18th 1881, after Brother Buswell Blandon (also called Dr. Blandon) left for Colorado, James was set apart as the Presiding Elder over the Cane Creek Branch. According to family records it was on March 7th 1880 (by Franklin Spencer and B. H. Roberts).

On March 26th, 1883 he was released as he and his family went west to Colorado with John Morgan. But his extended family was still in Tennessee at the Massacre. Later, while living in Manasa, Colorado, he wrote a letter to The Liahona: The Elders’ Journal saying

"Tennessee, being my native state, and finding THE ELDERS' JOURNAL an interesting paper to read, I thought I would say this much through its columns: I was born on Cane Creek, Hickman Co., where I first heard the Gospel preached in 1880. After listening to a number of the Elders, and thoroughly investigating the Gospel for myself, I complied with the ordinance of baptism, and gathered with the Saints in 1883, to Manassa, [Colorado], under the leadership of President John Morgan. My testimony to my friends in Tennessee and North Carolina is that the Gospel which the Elders are advocating is true, and I would exhort them to lay aside all prejudice, like I did, and ask God to show them the truth, which He will do."
Published on Dec 15 1905.

Margaret also had extended family living at Cane Creek at the time of the massacre. After the massacre, a few of both James' and Margaret's family joined them in Colorado. Some of them would return to Tennessee, renouncing the Church. According to a local historian W. L. Pinkerton, James & Margaret returned to Tennessee to visit relatives at least once, though they never renounced their membership in the LDS church. They appear in the 1920 Census still living in Colorado.

Jim and his wife lived a full life with many ups and downs. They lost everything in the depression because he extended credit (at his store) to those in greater need that him. But he also served as a city councilman and acted as mayor for one term.

James Houston DePriest died 2 Jul 1932 at Manassa, Conejos, Colorado. Margaret Easibel Talley died Aug 24th 1937 at Manassa, Conejos, Colorado. They are buried in the Old Manassa Cemetery located about 5 blocks south of Manassa's Main Street on Fifth Street.

Some records indicate he married Susan Horner in 31 October 1875, but she is mentioned only once. If this information is correct she most likely died before he married Margaret in 1877, though the marriage could have been disolved

Cane Creek changed counties more than once. Originally in Hickman County, it became part of Lewis county in 1843. Then before the civil war the county charter was dissolved (date uncertain) and it was administered from Hickman County again. After the war the charter was renewed and once more was part of Lewis County.

See the Heber Houston DePriest Family History at,56956


Susan W H said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog for several weeks now. My grandfather was a missionary in the southern states 1897-99. In February of '99 he wrote to his parents that he had a feeling of awe as he shook the hand of his new new companion, Jess A. Berry, the son of William Berry. I was intrigued by this and did some research to find out more.

W. Berry had worked with my great-grandfather in the British mission and because they were friends, was asked to speak at the memorial services in Salt Lake City on August 26.

I came across this book by William H. Hatch, Mormons in the Southern States: A century of Religious Bigotry, Murder and Civil Mayhem, 1831-1923. Are you familiar with it?

Bruce Crow said...

Thanks for commenting. I'm glad to know you have enjoyed what you have read. Your reference to your grandfather's writings (and your great grandfather's memorial) intrigues me. Would you be willing to share more?

I have two other William W. Hatch works already in my list of books I need to read:
There is No Law. A History of Mormon Civil Relations in the Southern States, 1865-1905 (1968) and
When Push Came to Shove: Mormon Martyrs in an Unrelenting Bible Belt, 1831-1923 (2005)
I'll add this one my list.

Susan W H said...

Perhaps Hatch revised an earlier book. The one I mentioned was published in 2003.

If you are interested, you can read the transcribed letters online at my family history website under "Ed Penrose Historical Letters." In 1884 Edwin's father, Charles, was editor of the Deseret News. The Salt Lake papers had a lot of coverage on the murders. John Nicholson, assistant editor under Penrose, gave a speech in late September 1884 in which he accused the Salt Lake Tribune of publishing an article that led to the Tennessee murders.

If you want to discuss it more email me at