Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Mormon Preacher in Kingsport TN

In the March 15, 1843 issue of The Jonesborough Whig I found this early reference to missionary work in Eastern Tennessee.

A Mormon Preacher

One of these renegades, a certain William A. Litz, has recently been holding forth in Kingsport, and advocating that singular Imposition and Delusion taught at Nauvoo. With that imputence which characterizes the teachers of this subversion of revealed truth, this masked imposter, rose up in a Methodist congregation in that village, a few Sabbaths ago, and cried out at the top of his voice, “I will preach at Z. W. Simpson’s
this evening at such an hour!”

Some person present, who understood him to be endowed with the gift of the Holy Ghost, called upon him to work a miracle but the fellow declined the honor – on the ground, we presume, that he could do nothing because of the unbelief of the people!

Of course I had to see if I could find anything else on they people named in the article.

Z. W. Simpson is in the 1840 Census, but that has few details. He was born between 1800 and 1810, and he was married. His wife was also between 30 and 40 , and they had two girls aged 5 or less. Additional notes indicate he owned two slaves (a detail that makes me uncomfortable to even write down) and that he made his living through "commerce." I have no evidence that Mr. Simpson was ever baptized.

Elder William A Litz was born on 6 October 1818 in Washington County, Vermont. He joined the Church on 26 May 1841. He served a mission in eastern Tennessee. Perhaps he was in the area because his parents were from Virginia, and he still had relatives nearby. He appears to have written an autobiography which is on file at the LDS Archives (closed until June 22nd 2009). He was ordained a Seventy, received his endowment in the Nauvoo Temple, but did not follow Brigham Young to Utah. At some point joined the Reorganized LDS Church.


Ardis Parshall said...

I love the way that first, you find this material that nobody else has uncovered, and second, that you try to verify the facts or at least situate the story in a bigger context.

Ardis Parshall said...

Plus, descriptions like "singularImposition and Delusion" and "subversion of revealed truth" are plum wonderful!

BruceCrow said...

Thanks. For me its all about the context. And yes, newspapers aren't written that way any more. It is a shame. This does give a feel for how strongly the writers felt about Mormonism.

Sean B. Halliday said...

First off, we love the Tri Cities (Johnson City, Kingsport & Bristol).

So much so, that my wife and created an online guide to the Tri Cities.

It is your local guide to shopping, dining, events, things to do, visitors guide
to the Tri Cities. We also have a section "Living in the Tri" for information
for locals to find out what is around them.

The guide can be found at:

Let us know what you think of it,

Sean & Patricia Halliday