Thursday, July 22, 2010

A second Benton County History

I found this account of early Mormon history in Benton County in a book by Jonathon Kennon Smith. He cites the LDS Church Historian's office for his facts.

"It was probably 1834 or 1835 that the missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, commonly called Mormons, made their appearance in the county. They were zealous and out-fundamentalized the fundamentalists! Their history and doctrines are most interesting, but it is beyond the scope of this study to develop these, here. Suffice it to say, that so radical a group met instant rebuttal in Benton County."

"Elder's Dvid Patten and Warren Parrish made several converts in the county. In February 1836, the Eagle Creek Mormons claimed 15 members in good standing and the Chalk Level group claimed 21 members. By May following, a group had been established on Cypress Creek, but it never flourished. Michael Fry embraced Mormonism and it was at his house in May 1836 that a "mob" beset the elders."

"On 19 June 1836, the Mormons were having a meeting at Seth Utley's near Eagle Creek, when a large group of citizens appeared about sunset.; the mood was dangerous and Matthew Williams, a Methodist minister, was among them, having been the man who swore out a warrent for the arrest of Elders Patten and Parrish. [Woodruff was on the warrent too, but he was in Kentucky at the time]. A bone of contention was that the Mormons had been preaching that Jesus Christ would appear before their generation had passed away, etc. It appears nonsensical from such a distance in time, but the crowd was riled and grasped at anything to get rid of the elders. By going bond, the later were allowed to appear on the 23 of the month in a magistrate's court."

"Accompanied by their friends, the elders made their appearance at the court. Ephraim Perkins was the state's attorney and he delivered a fierce speech against the Mormons who were presumably not allowed to answer satisfactorily to the charges made against them. Sheriff Jones finally allowed the men to go since they agreed to pay court costs and to leave the county immediately. The elders first rode to Seth Utley's but suspecting that the mob would follow them there, they went on to Albert Petty's, from which they moved toward the Henry County line. Petty's house was indeed searched and after a time the mob dispersed."

"Mormonism did not flourish in the county but there was a considerable congregation on Eagle Creek for several years. A general conference was held there in Jne 1844; at the time, a membership of seventeen was reported. Robert C. Petty [who was one of the sheriff's men in the mob that arrested Patten and Parrish] was ordained and elder; Seth Utley, a priest, and B. B. Barnett, a teacher. In a few years, the Mormon adherents had moved west with the exodus of their fellow believers and there were the inevitable apostates, reducing their ranks."

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