Friday, March 26, 2010

Charles A. Hickenlooper

Writing about recent history, which all of Mormon history is, has a risk other types of historical writing do not: running into people with a personal connection to your subject. In this case, it was a great-granddaughter. Jean contacted me shortly after finding my post on Sawdust. But this risk comes with great potential reward too. This time the reward was spectacular. Jean sent me two things: Photos and biography. Charles is seated in the center in the photo below with three other missionaries who were serving in Tennessee at the time. The biography includes quotes about Charles A Hickenlooper from family records. The first is from Charles' autobiography.

In the summer of 1895, I received a call from President Wilford Woodruff to go on a mission to the Southern States. I left my wife and family of five little children September 24, 1895 and our sixth child, Merl, was born February 14, 1896. It was very hard for me to leave them, especially so because of some dreams I had about the time I received my call in which it seemed that I was given a chance to deny my faith or be killed. Many of the elders really were mobbed, and a few had been killed, so these dreams did not add to my peace of mind. But the Lord watched over us all. I had all I needed to eat -- although sometimes I would get pretty hungry between meals – and a bed to sleep in every night.

I had many and varied experiences, many cases of healing, for which I am thankful indeed. My companion and I were assigned to open up a district in Cane Creek, Lewis County, where missionaries had not been since Elders Gibbs and Berry were killed by a mob. A number of the Saints had remained true to the faith for the eleven years since this mobbing and we were received with open arms by them. Among the four we baptized at Shady Grove was “Grandma” Church who had been a mother to the missionaries for forty years, doing anything she could for them. Her husband was president of the Branch and although she had heard John Morgan, B.H. Roberts, Golden Kimball, and many others preach and explain the gospel, she had never embraced it until now when we had the privilege of baptizing her. It was at Shady Grove that B.H. Roberts disguised himself and got the bodies of the martyred elders Berry and Gibbs. Much of the time we traveled without money, commonly spoken of as 'without purse or scrip'. The Lord blessed me and also my family, but I feel that my wife really had the hard part of the mission and I received the honor and glory.

The four they baptized in Maury County were Mary Ann Miller Church, Mary Bell Church Thomas, Margarett N. Church, and Minnie Lucretia Love Greenfield. Later Elder Hickenlooper was transfered to Overton County, Tennessee where he also baptized Lee Lester Phillips and Emma Morgan Phillips after he obtained a release but before leaving to go home.

In 1961, Charles' daughter Florence H Jensen, wrote a bit about her father's mission as well.

In 1895, Father was called on a mission to the Southern States, to labor in Tennessee. It was a hard thing for Mother to consent for him to go, leaving her with five children and Merl was born four one-half months after Father left. But both of them believed that members of the Church should do whatever was asked of them by the authorities, and he went and filled an honorable mission. Our brother Will was ten years old and he milked the cows. Mother made butter, sometimes getting as little as ten cents a pound for it. She raised pigs and chickens, sold eggs, picked berries, dried fruit and kept us well. It was surely a happy reunion when Father returned home. He always said that Mother had the hard part of the mission and he received the glory.

Jean went on to add her own information about her great-grandfather.

As you can see from both accounts, he gave credit to his wife and family for supporting him. While he was still on his mission in May 1897, Grandpa Hickenlooper was called to be counselor to Bishop Edward W. Wade of the Pleasant View Ward (Weber County) and so was released early. During his mission, he always carried a photograph (attached) of his children and showed it freely so that those not of the Church would realize that he was a husband and father with the same concerns they had and that he had come to share the gospel at some sacrifice. He died in 1938 before I was born.

(Thank you, Jean, for your permission to use these.)

8 comments:

Bessie said...

The reward was spectacular! Thank you for sharing it here.

BruceCrow said...

Yes it was spectacular. I wish I had so much information on all the missionaries that served in Tennessee.

Ardis said...

I think I may know Jean -- last initial O? What a generous sharing of family history that is of interest to a wider audience!

Amy said...

Wonderful photos! How kind of a descendant to share this information.

BruceCrow said...

Right your are Ardis. There's no keeping a secret from you.

Yes, Amy. She was vary kind.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bruce and Jean. I am the Great Great Grandson of Mary Bell Church Thomas and the 4Th Great Grandson of Grandma Church. There are literally hundreds of members of the church here in the Middle Tennessee who are still being blessed by Elder Hickenlooper's service. The Bishop of the Columbia Ward, which I believe includes Shady Grove, is the Great Grandson of Mary Bell Church Thomas. There are several other members of the Church family here who are local and Stake church leaders. Some include another Bishop, a Stake Young Men's President, a Young Men's president, a Primary President, a High Councilman, a First Assistant to the Bishop, a First Counselor to a Bishop and the list goes on and on. His service has blessed all of our lives.

Thanks,
Ron Pennington

BruceCrow said...

Thank you, Ron. You remind us, just as Jean has, that the people we read about are not just names in a book somewhere. Both the missionaries who came to Tennessee and the people who joined the Church in Tennessee were real people with families. What they did and the choices they made are having an effect even today in a real and tangible way.

Anonymous said...

What a good presentation Bruce has made of the materials I sent him. When there are multiple Zions, each one requires a foundation of local history. Providing that sense of the past, as Bruce is doing, is a “good cause.”

And to Ron, what missionary could ask for more than to see the fruits of his work evident more than a century later! As I told Bruce, my cousin, Elder Hickenlooper’s great-granddaughter (currently serving a mission in Chile with her husband) and her family have lived in Kingsport for many years.

I just sent out a post to my family, from my children to my second cousins, inviting them to see your blog. I hope they will stop by.

Jean O