Monday, July 20, 2009

Isaac Thomas Garrett - Later life

[I have since discovered that his correct first name was Isaiah not Isaac. He used the name Tom. -bcrow]

Tom Garrett was the first to invite the missionaries to Cane Creek. After hearing the first Mormon sermon preached in the area he said "It won't do." When asked to explain himself he went on. "It won't do for us because it is the truth. We can't stand that. If this doctrine is preached here in about a year we will be killing these men for preaching it." He was wrong. It actually took over five years. Though he was never baptized, his wife and daughter both joined the Church.

Tom was also instrumental in saving the life of Elder Thompson, sneaking him out of Lewis County in his buggy after the Massacre with a pistol under his seat. He helped bury the dead on Monday, the day after the Massacre, and help Elder Roberts dig up the Elders again on Wednesday. Ultimately he and his family left Lewis County, Tennessee for Bond County, Illinois, about 50 miles north east of St Louis, Missouri. Tom’s maternal grandfather moved there years earlier so it is likely he had cousins living there at the time.

After arriving in Illinois, Tom wrote a letter to Hyrum Belnap. In appeared in the Ogden standard Examiner on 23 January 1885. In it he explains why he left Tennessee and a bit of his financial condition. He was able to sell only a part of his farm, rent another part and the rest was still unresolved. His wife, daughter and son-in-law moved with him. B. H. Roberts notes that the Church was able to send him some financial assistance. His wife died in 1887. His son-in-law-died a few years later.

Recently a helpful source sent me a another letter which he wrote on 11 March 1908, this time to the Deseret Evening News. At the end of his letter, which is only quoted in part, he sounds sad that his life had parted ways from association with the Mormons.

I have never heard the gospel preached since I heard the elders on Cane Creek before the massacre. They gave me a little book called ‘The Voice of Warning,’ and I keep it precious. What I did for the elders then I would do again, even if it did compel me to move out. I would like to shake hands with them. It would be a great pleasure for me to hear from any of the Elders who labored in Tennessee and on Cane Creek, and if any are still in the land of the living, I wish they would write to me.
I know of no responses to this request, though I imagine there were some. We don't know when Isaac Thomas Garrett died, but I don't see him in the 1910 Census so he probably died shortly after writing this letter.

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