Monday, February 1, 2010

You can't make this stuff up

The following was printed in the Clinton Gazette, of Clinton Tennessee on March 10th 1900.

Whereas, Our friend, Brother Eaton, came in contact with a Mormon Elder and gave him a genteel thrashing; Resolved, that we, as a Sunday School, tender him our thanks for his righteous deed:
Second, that if he got his clothes soiled in the combat, we will gladly pay for having them washed:
Third that a copy of these resolutions be sent to Brother Eaton, and one to the county paper for publication.

This rather surprising endorsement of Mr. Eaton’s violent behavior is only the beginning. According to same newspaper, Mr. Eaton was a minister of the Zion Baptist Church at Wolf Valley, Tennessee. At the time of the publication of the resolution Mr. Eaton was languishing in a prison cell awaiting trial for the rape of a Mrs. Rouse. The Rouse family had been his host for the previous four months since his arrival in Wolf Valley from North Carolina.

Mr. Eaton’s defense was that the relationship had been consensual making him guilty of adultery instead of rape. He insisted that her accusation was merely to defend her honor. But even more interesting was that Mr. Eaton threatened to reveal the identity of the arsonist responsible for burning down the local Mormon Church in March or April of 1899, unless she recanted her accusation. You can’t make this stuff up.

Much of this comes from the The Wolf Among Lambs in the Latter Day Saint Southern Star Volume 2 Page 140. I have not been able to find a reference to the burning down of the church in the “History of the Southern States Mission” except perhaps a vague reference in March 1899 to “one or two disturbances” in that part of Tennessee. Nor have I been able to identify the Elder that Mr. Eaton was supposed to have given a “genteel thrashing.”

4 comments:

Last Lemming said...

What about the outcome of Eaton's rape trial?

Ardis Parshall said...

Great story, and an interesting view of the social hierarchy of human behavior in that time and place. Man, oh, man.

Bookslinger said...

This story makes one more accepting of the harsh descriptions that early LDS prophets made of the professional preachers of other religions.

We tend to want to give preachers of various Christian faiths the benefit of the doubt and ascribe to them at least a modicum of sincerity.

And, maybe over the years, the percentage who are sincere has increased.

BruceCrow said...

LL,
I haven't found the outcome of the trial yet. I will keep looking, however.

Ardis,
That is part of what I love about history. In this case it is window into another world.

Bookslinger,
The professional preachers who were willing to ignore Christian values to rail against (aasault?) the LDS missionaries seem to be willing to ignore Christian values in other aspects of their lives.