Monday, August 2, 2010

Colonel Tucker's Wife - First Convert in Marshall County

I recently moved to Marshall county, Tennessee and began to look around for the history of the LDS church here. To be honest I didn’t find much. The Allred family lived for 17 years in what would become Marshall County, but then moved to Missouri in around 1829 where they joined the Church in 1832.

The oldest reference to converts in Marshall County comes from the writings of Elder J. D. Lee. I’m no fan of Elder Lee. There are plenty of places to complain about his later crimes, and the veracity of what he wrote about those crimes. This blog is not one of them. For my purposes I accept his accounts of his mission in Tennessee at face value, until I have specific reason to do otherwise.

According to Elder Lee, in 1842 he was “sent for” by Colonel Tucker of Duck Creek, in Marshall County. Colonel Tucker, a wealthy man originally from Virginia, wanted him to come and preach to his family. His wife’s family were Presbyterians, she having two brother who were ministers. According to Lee, the distance to the Tucker home was about 30 miles from Murfreesboro. By “Duck Creek” he must have meant Duck River, which runs through Marshall county from east to west. The main road cross the Duck River almost exactly 30 miles from Murfreesboro.

[ I haven’t been able to prove it, but this might be Allen C. Tucker and his wife Elizabeth Jane Bugg. They lived in the right area and were wealthy land owners as described by Elder Lee. But Mrs. Tucker would have a little young in 1842 (only 23 years old). And Allen has no military record I can find. So for now it is only a guess.]

Lee preached three sermons at the Tucker home, and made appointments to return the following Saturday and Sunday. He also left some LDS books with Mrs. Tucker, though he did not indicate which ones. Thereafter Lee returned to Murfreesboro. It was on his way back to the Tucker home that Lee was intercepted by a “New Light” preacher with whom he had earlier made friends. The preacher informed him that while he was gone Mr. and Mrs. Tucker had disagreed on the question of baptism. Mrs. Tucker wished to be baptized, but Mr. Tucker was set against it. Mrs. Tucker was insistent and send a message to Elder Lee that he should come and baptize her. Not wanting to start trouble Lee decided to simply not return to the Tucker home, But Mrs. Tucker sought him out, and demanded baptism. Although it was against Church rules, he allowed himself to be persuaded. In the presence of her servants he baptized her later that evening without the foreknowledge of her husband.

Mrs. Tucker returned home with her servants and the wife of Elder Lee’s friend took Mrs. Tucker’s wet clothing home. But they ran into Mr. Tucker along the way brandishing his shotgun. He demanded to know if his wife had just been baptized. At gun point they confessed that she had indeed been baptized. This enraged Mr. Tucker who swore he would kill Elder Lee. Hearing this from a distance, Lee hid in the cornfield, waiting for Mr. Tucker to calm down and return home. After all seemed clear he snuck into his friends home. While Elder Lee was changing his wet clothing, Mr. Tucker surprised him, gun in hand. He pulled the trigger, but the gun only “flashed” and did not fire. The two struggled, but Lee was able to gain the upper hand and extracted a promise from Mr. Tucker that he would leave him alone. Reluctantly Mr. Tucker left.

At about 1:00 AM Mrs. Tucker and some of her friends roused Elder Lee telling him that Mr. Tucker had rounded up some friends and were planning to waylay him as he tried to leave. Lee sent her away saying it was in God’s hands and that she should not try to visit him again as it would only angry her husband more.

At 4:00 AM Elder Lee arose and made preparations to leave, but as he did, Mr. Tucker and ten of his friends showed up and held Lee at gun point while they sent for the local Justice of the Peace, Esquire Walls. The Justice arrived shortly after sunrise with fifty or so witnesses.

After learning about the situation, Esquire Walls took Elder Lee aside and privately advised him to leave the county. He said he believed there was no law broken but that Colonel Tucker may resort to violence unless the Justice agreed to fill out a warrant for Lee’s arrest. Esquire Walls said he would delay completing the warrant by sending for his law books, giving Lee enough time to leave the county.

As planned the Justice sent his nephew to retrieve his books, and Colonel Tucker promised to restrain from violence. After the boy left, Elder Lee announced he was leaving, calmly saddled his horse and rode away with Colonel Tucker cursing and threatening to shoot Elder Lee with every step he took. But Colonel Tucker was bound by his promise which was enforced by the over fifty witnesses. Elder Lee never went back to Marshall County.

2 comments:

Ardis E. Parshall said...

Part of the tragedy of MMM is that it was perpetrated by men who had previously given such genuine and remarkable service, as your account of this incident from JDL's service indicates.

You really have a knack for clear narrative, as well as the instinct you have for tracking down the identities of people in your stories, rather than merely quoting the original sources. I never know what to expect when I come here, except that it will be good!

BruceCrow said...

Thanks Ardis, that is high praise coming from you.

I tried not to use the key words that would attract the attention of those who merely wish to be heard when the subject of the MMM comes up. Thanks for picking up on that and following my lead.