Saturday, August 1, 2009

Conference at Cane Creek - 1881

[What follows is based primarily on the Autobiography of Hyrum Belnap, President of the Tennessee Conference of the Southern State Mission. The conference lasted from Saturday Aug 6th to Sunday Aug 7th, 1881, and was held in a grove somewhere along Cane Creek. I added some detail to the names, in at least the first instance it is used.]

August 4. Elder Joseph Thatcher and I [Hyrum Belnap] left Mr. Wince Turner and continued to Cane Creek. Took dinner with Isaac Thomas Garrett. They were greatly pleased with our visit as they had received reports of my being waylaid and killed. It was reported that I had been found by the wayside with fourteen bullet holes in me. We continued down the Creek to Elisha Talley’s, our headquarters. I received three letters from home and one from Robert S. Spence informing me that he and Elder Joshua Taylor did not agree and they wished to be separated. [I have not located any journals belonging to the two that might indicate the nature of their disagreement.]

August 5. Weather cloudy with prospects of rain. This had been the longest dry spell for many seasons. They did no irritating here, hence the ground dried up very rapidly after a rain. When the corn began to wilt down the people thot (sic) starvation was coming. There was one small patch of corn I persuaded them to irrigate, which grew nicely. We walked around the plantation, spied some watermelons and had our fill. Then went down to John M. Lancaster’s and observed the place which they had prepared for meeting in a nice little grove. We then returned to Elisha Talley’s where we met Elders John N. Price and Lorenzo Hunsaker who had come down from I. T. Garrett’s. They went on down to J. M. Lancaster’s. Elder Thatcher did some writing and I did some reading, having found a discourse of Brigham Young’s on the resurrection. This lead me back to our creation and the wisdom of the all wise Creator in placing us on earth. Especially am I thankful that I was permitted to be born under the covenant and reared among the Latter Day Saints, where I could be taught the truth. Went up the Creek to I. T. Garrett’s with Elder Bateman.

August 6. We held meeting at the grove. There was a large crowd. There were present on the stand Elders Hyrum Belnap of the Tennessee Conference, Joshua Taylor, R. C. Camp, Robert S. Spence, James W. Eardley, Lorenzo Hunsaker, Joseph W. Thatcher, William Oxley Beesly, Thomas Hazen Merrill, John N. Price and Daniel R. Bateman, traveling elders, John M. Lancaster and James H. Depriest, local elders [John and James' wives were both sisters of Elisha Talley]. The speakers were John N. Price, Daniel R. Bateman and James W. Eardley. Meeting was then adjourned until 4:00 P.M. We scattered among friends for dinner. At 4 p.m. we assembled again. The speakers were Joseph W. Thatcher, William O. Beesly, Joshua Taylor, R. C. Camp. Conference then adjourned until 10:30 A.M. Sunday morning. That night Elder William O. Beesly and I stayed with Pleasant Depriest.

Sunday, August 7. We opened our conference at 10:30 A.M. A large crowd had gathered. Elder Robert S. Spence occupied most of the time. President Hyrum Belnap then bore a faithful testimony that this was the work of the Lord. Conference adjourned and reconvened again at 4:00 P.M. Elder Lorenzo Hunsaker spoke to the subject, “The Church of God is always guided by Revelation.” Hyrum Belnap spoke on the subject, “Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.” Conference adjourned. Sine die.

We went and administered to Rachel Lancaster [John Lancaster's sister. She had tuberculosis]. Pres. Belnap called in a council of Elders Hunsaker, Camp and Bateman over the quarrel between Joshua Taylor and Robert S. Spence at Shady Grove. At the conclusion of our deliberations we decided to send J. W. Eardley and T. H. Merrill to Shady Grove, D. R. Bateman and R. C. Spence to Perry County, W. O. Beesly and Joshua Taylor on here on Cane Creek. Hunsaker and Belnap remained with James Depriest over night.

August 8. Held priesthood meeting at Elisha Talley’s. Elders Spence and Taylor repented and said they would do better. The elders all returned to their fields of labor except those assigned yesterday. Hyrum Belnap went up to I. T. Garrett’s, wrote a letter to Elder Joseph Ford and James T. Hammond and made appointment to be up in East Tennessee the second Sunday in September. Spent the night with William Sealy.

[Hyrum Belnap wrote his Autobiography years later, probably by comparing journal entries and adding notes as he recalls them. Though he repeats himself a couple of times and some of his dates (like certain baptismal dates) don't match the official record, his detail is refreshingly detailed. When understood that this is not a period document, just written to look like one, the errors are minor.]


Ardis Parshall said...

There are some names in there that have become very familiar through reading your posts on the church members and their neighbors in this area. It's becoming more and more like a place I know, like news from old friends I haven't seen for a while, because these people and their world is becoming more real the more you tell us about them.

I suppose I should be sorry the two elders were having a hard time, but I'm not. That means they are just the like missionaries I knew (and was), and it's a realism that is always omitted from reports where everything has to be shown in its best light.

Another winner of a find, Bruce.

BruceCrow said...


I liked the realism of the elders' problems too. They were real people.