Monday, August 16, 2010

Brave Elders openly visit Cane Creek

Cane Creek, Tennessee was the site of the greatest bloodshed in the conflict between Mormons and those opposed to them in the US South. One of the effects of this was that missionary work stopped in the area. Of course immediately after the Massacre, B. H. Roberts came to the area, albeit in disguise and with a single minded purpose of retrieving the bodies of John H. Gibbs and William S. Berry.

Next was Willard Washington Bean. He came in 1895, on his way home from his mission in Tennessee. He also visited in disguise.

In 1897, two missionaries making a tour of the conference, Elder Nels P Nelson and Elder Bench, found themselves having to chose between walking through Cane Creek or adding twenty to thirty miles to their trip. Feeling they had quite enough opportunities to walk, they chose the short path. What follows is an excerpt from a letter Elder Nelson wrote about the experience.

Coming up Cane Creek we were busily engaged in conversing upon present conference duties, but as we came near the place of this sad occurance (sic), our thoughts flew from the present to the reviewing of events some fourteen years ago, when two of god’s servants sealed their testimony with their blood. We ate dinner near the Condor farm, where the shooting took place – passed the houses of Widow Hinson and son, saw the grave of Mr. Hinson, the leader of the mob and the man killed by one of the Condor boys. We stopped at a number of houses and talked with the people. They seemed greatly surprised seeing the Mormon Elders in that neighborhood again. People were not inclined to talk of the past, but by questioning them, we learned their side of the story. We were impressed with the uneasiness manifest while talking upon the subject, proving a guilty conscience and aching heart. All seemed to regret the actions of the mob, and one man said “it was a big mistake.”

I would just love to know more about what he was told and who he spoke with. Perhaps he wrote more in his journal.


Ardis E. Parshall said...

Somehow this seems more likely than the accounts you sometimes hear of there being a curse on the neighborhood, with no crops able to grow, and devilish glee that they had driven the Mormons away, and all the other hocus-pocus. It just seems more realistic that neighbors would be saddened and embarrassed once the heat had passed, also that missionaries could talk to them and ask their stories without fear of their lives. I hope you're able to find more from these two.

BruceCrow said...

Yes, the truth is that most residents, even former vigilantes, that were interviewed, in 1895, 1897, and later, felt that it was all a big mistake.

The "curse" was the embarassment and fear they felt that a handful of violent men could do what they wanted with impunity, and might do it again. And that that kept the missionaries away.

All it takes for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing.