Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fate of the Cane Creek Mobocrats

[The following was published in the Deseret News on October 1st, 1886. Although there would be a certain satisfaction if these were true, I would not wish ill of them in this life. At best, however, this article indicates the rumors that were being spread around in Tennessee. None of these details have beeb substantiated by a second source.]

From Elder Geo. J. Woodbury who has just returned from Tennessee, and who recently had a talk with brother Condor, of Cane Creek, in that State, the scene of the massacre in which his son and stepson, as well as Elder Berry and Gibbs fell victims, we learn that seven of eight of the fourteen persons who were enraged in that awful tragedy have died during the past year and a half.

The deputy sheriff of Hickman County, who was one of them, died last year, and had become so despised before his death that his funeral was only attended by negroes, not a single white man going near him.

Another of the mob died last year from a mysterious disease which the doctors said they had never seen anything like. He turned black all over, his eyes burst out of their sockets, his mouth turned inside out, and he suffered untold agonies before death came to his relief.

Still another got into a drunken brawl and was stabbed by one of his fellows who had also taken part in the massacre, from which he suffered long and severely and after recovering became deranged. While in this condition he talked continually about the Cane Creek tragedy, often telling where the horses were hidden and how the deed was committed. His companions in crime finally became so alarmed at his blabbing that some of them remained constantly at his bedside and prevented others from coming near to listen to him until death stilled his tongue.

Solomon Hinson, the chief instigator of the massacre, who rode about for two days previous to its occurrence inciting the people to hatred of the “Mormons” and gathering men for the contemplated raid upon Cane Creek, and who is uncle to David Hinson, the leader of the mar[       ] who was killed in the fray, has been gradually wasting away ever since that time until he has become a mere skeleton, and his death from consumption at an early day is expected.

Still another of the mobocrats has gone crazy and his wife boldly asserts that his condition is the result of his having taken part in the murder and the memory of the deed preying upon his mind. In deed, many non-"mormons" in that region freely express the belief that the fate of all these mentioned is nothing short of retribution for the crime of killing the "Mormons."

John Vandiver, one of the mob, who was a rather noted Baptist preacher in that region and did all he could previous to the massacre to stir up a murderous feeling, by going about the country reading the villainous "Red Hot Address" published in the Salt Lake Tribune to his congregations, was last year excommunicated from his church for rape, but was afterwards reinstated on declaring publically to his congregation that the victim of his outrage was as much to blame as he was. Since then He has been preaching away as hard as ever, with undiminished popularity.


Ardis E. Parshall said...

Apparently we believe that good people have to wait until the next life for their reward, while bad people are punished instantly -- no matter how much that pattern doesn't fit our direct experience!

Very interesting report; your study of Cane Creek would hardly be complete without it, no matter how little truth there is to it. Folklorists must have studied this pattern. It would be interesting to know what they say about this tendency to invent tales of horrible deaths for the people who have wronged us.

BruceCrow said...

Thanks Ardis,
An eternal perspective makes the earthly fate of both the good and the bad irrelevant. I expect to have peace in my heart when I follow the counsels of God, so I expect no more punishment of the wicked than a lack of peace in their hearts.

But we tell stories like this, both in folklore and in literature. Even the pride cycle reinforces the idea, though the scriptures don't indicate it applies to individuals, just societies. I too wonder what the folklorists would say.

Anonymous said...

Bruce, this report sounds very similar to accounts published in a now forgotten and fully discredited book called, "The Fate of the Persecutos of the Prophet Joseph Smith". Having been a recent convert and full of what Nibley would call 'zeal without knowledge', I bought in to all of those lurid recitations of the gory
ends of the Prophet's enemies. Years later with more spiritual experiences under my belt, (and a modicum of knowledge), my testitomy wasn't rattled in the least when I found out that virtually all of these accounts were totally spurious. Velikiye Kniaz

BruceCrow said...

I thought of the same book when I first read this article. I didn't read the other, but had since heard it was based on weak, unsubstantiated rumors.

I have heard these kind of stories about the Cane Creek vigilantes vaguely repeated many times from several sources. But none of them have risen above the level of rumor.