Saturday, September 19, 2009

Was Parson John Vandiver in the Mob?

Was Parson Vandiver in the mob that killed four Mormons in 1884 in an event now called the Cane Creek Massacre?

Parson John Hunter Vandiver (Vandever?) is identified in Belnap’s journal, though not as one of the vigilantes. He met with the Elders on March 9th 1880 and preached against them then. He is also in John H Gibbs’ journal. Gibbs and Vandiver got into a verbal argument. He appears in the Hickman Pioneer, under the name J. H. Vandeveer as preaching at Indian Creek the Sunday before June 13th 1884. He appears in John Nicholson’s discourse as John Clayton Vandiver as the primary mover of the Red Hot Address. He also appears in a list of Lewis county marriages as solemnizing more than one marriage under the name John H Vandiver. Plus he shows up as the first postmaster at Hohenwald (with Ruben Mathis as the first mail carrier).

It has been speculated that Vandiver was one of the vigilantes. George J. Woodbury made this claim in an interview with Deseret News. Mormons in other areas who experienced persecution often found ministers leading the way. In addition, Vandiver was at the front of anti-Mormon verbal attacks. But all this falls short of an actual accusation. In the same article we find this note.
John Vandiver, one of the mob, who was a rather noted Baptist preacher in that region and did all he could previous to the massacre to stir up a murderous feeling, by going around the country reading the villainous "Red Hot Address" published in the salt Lake Tribune to his congregations, was last year excommunicated from his church for rape, but was afterwards reinstated on declaring publicly to his congregation that the victim of his outrage was as much to blame as he was. Since then he has been preaching away as hard as ever, with undiminished popularity.

Another article describes the "news" from a lady who had lately arrived from the area of the Massacre.
The sister gave me some interesting details concerning the mobocrats. It appears that Parson Vandever, the person referred to in Elder Nicholson's lecture, the leader of the mob, and the person who catechised Elder Jones upon religious questions, has gone crazy and is a complete mental wreck.

John Vandiver was actually from Lawrence county, just south of Lewis County, where he was also a Baptist minister. He was married to Martha Roberts and they had two children, William and Martha. By 1880 his children have grown up he has moved to Hohenwald where in 1883 he marries a widow by the name of Mary Ann Hinson. I haven't figured out how she is related to the rest of the Hinsons in Lewis County. That would explain his association with the Hinsons.

According to Vandiver family records he died in 1931 at the age of 105. If for no other reason than his age, I would love to see that documentation. I'm not saying I doubt the family, but it is rather incredible.


Jim B said...

There is a John H. Vandiver listed in FamilySearch. It Lists his birth 1826 in Lawrence county, Tenn. His Wife is listed as Martha Roberts with a son William Allen and a daughter Martha E. His death is listed as after 1850. The personal Identifier for FamilySearch is KL63-WBG If you are really interested in him there are contributors there that have email addresses listed

BruceCrow said...

Sounds like the man I'm looking for. I'll check it out. I've previoously tried contacting fellow researchers using the email addresses in their Family Search submission. So far none have responded so I stopped trying. I figured the email addresses were so old they weren't valid anymore. *grin* It certainly was not that they had no interest in sharing research notes.*/grin*

bcnelson12 said...

John's wife Mary Ann Harper Hinson Vandiver was listed as a widow in the 1900 Lewis County, Tennessee census suggesting John died between the 1880 and 1900 censuses. She had previously married William W. Hinson on May 4, 1863 in Lewis County. Her death certificate is dated August 23, 1920 and lists her father's surname as Harper. I descend from Riley Jasper Roberts, the older brother of Martha Roberts Vandiver. Brian Nelson