Saturday, January 10, 2009

Elders Gibbs And Berry Travel Again

I found a reference to a Deseret News article about the urban legend around the children/descendants of Elders Gibbs and Berry serving together in the Cane Creek area. The date was 18 September 1943. But none of the online resources include dates that old. So I posted a query at the Salt Lake City Public Library. I fully expected some direction on how I could request specific articles.
Instead, I return home to find a letter from the SLC Public Library with no name to whom I can give the credit and the thanks. Inside was a single page photocopy of the September 18, 1943 article.

Elders Gibbs And Berry Travel Again
Descendants of Famous Missionary Pair in South
by Ada M. Swain
(Phoenix Stake Correspondent)
Elders Gibbs and Berry are again traveling in the South.
They are a pair of young missionaries, each descended from the Elders Gibbs and Berry who gave their lives as martyrs at the Tennessee Massacre of 1884.
A recent picture received by Mr. and Mrs. Oron Berry of Phoenix Ariz. shows their son, Alfred Oron Berry with Elder Eugene Jens Gibbs of Hyrum, Utah. Elder O. D. Flake of Phoenix, recently returned from a short term mission in the South where he met the two Elders.
This is the third combination of Gibbs and Berry who have been companions in the same section of the United States. Elder Flake reports that when he was on his first mission 43 years ago he met a pair, Elder Gibbs and Berry who were travelling together in Tennessee. They were the sons of the two men who were murdered by the mob in that state.

Included is a photo of the most recent Elder's Gibbs and Berry. The article goes on the quote the Essential Church History account of the massacre. It closes the article with this.

These two young men, today touring the same ground as missionaries for the church are a grandson of John H. Gibbs and a grand nephew of William S Berry.

I have to say this falls short of the proof I was looking for. For starters, Elder Flake's story is interesting, but he gives no first names and a memory 43 years old can easily be a little wrong. My initial find of a Gibbs/Berry companionship (described here and here) may be all there is to Elder Flake's recollections. In addition, this Elder Berry is indeed related the William S. Berry, but is not his descendant. So this was close, but still falls short of proving the legend.

On another note though, On my recent trip I found an index of "all" of the missionaries the church has called. I was hoping to get a comprehensive list of the missionaries that served at Cane Creek. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way. In order to use the index, you need to know the missionary's name. But having read this article I think I could probably look up all the Gibbs and Berrys and would probably have a reasonable size list to work through.

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