Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tennessee Hollow ......in Iowa

As the saints left Nauvoo, Illinois in 1846, the migration was staggered by many forces. Winter conditions, varying degrees of preparation and poverty, sickness and even church assignments guaranteed that the exodus would stretch out for months. By the time Brigham Young made it to the Great Basin, most of the faithful were spread around the Iowa/Nebraska border. Some would find themselves unable to go any further, and the poorer saints would run out of resources far shorter from Kanesville than they hoped. It was for these saints that Brigham Young initially set up the Perpetual Emigration Fund. It worked so well, in fact, it would be expanded for saints from further afield.

Thousands of saints did make it close to the main body of the Church. They set up communities all over western Iowa and eastern Nebraska. One of the communities these saints set up was named Tennessee Hollow. This settlement was about 20 miles north of Kanesville, Iowa. There the residents built a log Tabernacle in which to hold services. The story goes that the early residents were all from Tennessee, and so gave it the distinctive name.

One brochure passed out to visitors notes that the "Federal census of 1 June 1850 listed 254 of 7,828 Pottawattamie residents as born in Tennessee." That may be true, but Pottawattamie was a large area. It would be pretty hard to know exactly where in Pottawattamie the people on the list were from. In 1891 a Harrison County history was published with the following note about Tennessee Hollow.

Up to 1848 not a single white man had invaded what is now known as St. John's Township [Iowa], but it was during that year that John REYNOLDS and family, William SMITH,Sr, Charles SMITH,Jr, Adam STEVENS, George LAWRENCE and the MONGRUM families all made settlement in "Tennessee Hollow," on the south line of the township, most of them coming in 1848 and 1849. They all came from Tennessee, and hence the name "Tennessee Hollow." - 1891 Harrison County History

So were these people indeed from Tennessee? Checking the Census I find most of the names in the article above. John Runnels and his wife were from North and South Carolina respectively, though their children were born in Tennessee. So they had probably settled in Tennessee. William Smith's birthplace was listed a "Unknown" and his wife's as Kentucky. His children were listed as a mixture of Kentucky and Alabama. So probably not in from Tennessee in this case. Charles Smith was born in Alabama, but his two sons were born in Tennessee. His wife was not on the census. Adam Steaphens and his family were a mixture of Tennessee and Alabama. The Mangrum families were all born in Alabama. I didn't find George Lawrence. But all the others were right next to each other in the Census. The census takers walked around taking names as they came to houses. So people living next to each other were often next to each other in the census.

Looks like some were from Tennessee, but certainly not all of them. Of course my list is not a comprehensive list of who lived in Tennessee Hollow. Any suggestions on a better source of such a list?


Ardis Parshall said...

I know of a project in the works right now that will eventually be your very best source for the people in every Iowa branch of the 1840s and '50s and their families and origins and activities. I don't think it's my right to announce it, though. There is a session at MHA in May about it -- that session should definitely be in your plans.

BruceCrow said...

Thanks for the heads up. I'll look for the session.

I know BYU had a project they were working on to create such a list. Some of their list is online. There is even a link set up for a list of residents of Tennessee Hollow. But the link goes nowhere.