Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Real but not quite true stories

This week I was given two unexpected presents. They were stories, family lore, if you will. Both were about where Elder John H. Gibbs and Elder William S. Berry were just before the Massacre. One was from a reader, whose family stories placed Gibbs and Berry at the home of the Church family three days before they were killed. The second was a newspaper article that placed them in Jack Inman's home the night before they died.

But they are not quite true.

I'm not saying they are false. They are real, which is more interesting than true. These stories start because something really did happen. But I know they are not quite true because Elder Gibbs and Elder Berry were never companions. In fact, I have yet to find a verifiable story of the two even having been alone together. So why the stories?

These names have been placed together because they gave their life doing what they believed in. They died in the same place on at the same time. We speak their names together like two words that belong together.

Elder Gibbs probably arrived at Cane Creek late on the 6th of August. He was coming from the west and would have passed through Linden where brother Inman lived. But he was travelling with Elder Jones. Elder Berry arrived at Cane the night of the 5th and had come from Shady Grove just to the east. He was traveling with Elder Thompson.

So Elder Gibbs was at the Inman house and Elder Berry was at the Church house. And the names of their companions were blurred just a little. So powerful is their narrative, the names of Gibbs and Berry is superimposed on top of these stories.

But they are wonderful gifts nonetheless. They are primal and organic. They are messy and I want to preserve them as they are. Church history is messy. Life is messy. And so in that way they are more real than anything I can write. They are not quite true, but they are still real.


Patsy Rickard said...

After the Cane Creek massacre a "curse' was placed on the county. It was lifted about 15 yrs ago by Elder Gibbs who was a descendant! He was serving in the Tennessee Nashville mission at the time and was given that assignment

BruceCrow said...

This is good. I know what I'm going to ask when I see you next.