Monday, December 20, 2010

Missionary Letters "...but when they are friends they are solid ones."

Elder George J. Woodbury writing from Venus, Lawrence Co., Tennessee, April 19, 1884. The Venus post office opened in August 28, 1882 and closed down in May 31, 1906. I couldn't locate the exact site of the old post office, but one guide suggested that it was the unoffical name for Pea Ridge. The town of Pea Ridge was very close to the Knob Creek Branch, only a couple of miles away as the crow flies. Knob Creek was closely associated with Elders Fuller and Ross who were both named in Elder Woodbury's letter, and is about 20 miles from Sugar Creek (now Leoma), Tennessee, as Elder Woodbury describes. Today, all of these areas are part of the Lawrenceburg Ward.
"Since my arrival here I here labored in connection with Elder Fuller, most of the time in this county; but as he has been appointed to preside over this Conference, I will no doubt lose his company soon. However, I should not feel bad, for he deserves the office he is called to fill. He has done a great deal of good for the spread of truth in this land.

"Since I came here, Nov. 1, 1883, we have held fifty-nine meetings and baptized twenty five persons, quite a number of whom will probably emigrate in the fall. The work is progressing, and I believe that there will be two or three in this field who will come in at the gate soon, and not seek to climb up some other way. I think we are gaining friends all the time, although the feeling against us is very bitter in some parts of this county. Last Sunday Elder J. A. Ross and I went and held meeting on Sugar Creek, distant some twenty miles. We had a very good attendance at the meeting, and as it was my first trip there, Elder Ross wished me to speak. Of course I was glad to have the privilege, and spoke for about an hour. As soon as our meeting was through, one of the Campbellite Brethren (of whom there are a good many in that section of country,) assailed us. We gave him to understand that if we talked to him he must stick to the law and the testimony, to which he agreed. The crowd stayed, and we had another meeting as long as the first, but he soon got through with the Bible, and, as is common with them, began repeating newspaper stories and fiction about the 'Mormons,' and abusing them with his tongue. He wound up by telling me that I was a nice-looking young man, and a smart fellow, but that I had the 'Mormon' yoke on so tight that he thought I was lost. We were informed that we were likely to be mobbed that night, but we were not troubled. We will hold meeting there again on the last Sunday in this month. We expect to have President Roberts to hold Conference with us at Venus on the 3rd and 4th of May, when we hope to have a time of rejoicing, as there will be quite a number of Elders there from the different fields in the Conference.

"A lady died here lately with the measles, and we were invited by her father-in-law to sit up with the family night before last, and sing and talk to them. So after holding meeting on Sunday, we walked some five miles to the place, and found quite a houseful of people present. Among the rest was the County Judge. Things went off very nicely till near midnight, when the judge said he wanted to know something about Mormon polygamy, and wished us to tell him the straight of it. So we talked on that and kindred points till nearly morning, and I trust that good will result from it, as we were very kindly invited back. I think that the judge will always be a good friend to us, or, at least, he will never use his influence against the Elders.

"I had a letter recently from cousin David H. Cannon, jun. He is now in Texas, and has some good friends and some not so good. He was feeling splendidly, and I think he has enough of the family grit to stick to the rack, hay or no hay. He told me he tried eleven places one day, from half a mile to a mile apart, before he could get to stay over night, with the rain pouring down. That is more than ever I have had to do before getting a place to stay. On one occasion we had to try seven times, and that in the night one neighbor would send us to the next, and so on, until we began to think they had 'put up a job' on us, to run us from the country. Well, we know better how to appreciate friends after getting into a few snaps like that, and we need a little such experience once in a while, that we may learn to rely upon God.

"Well, I can say that I never felt as well repaid for six months' work in my life as I do for my missionary experience. I thank God that I was counted worthy to come and labor for a season in spreading the truth and helping to warn this wayward generation, and calling them to repent and turn unto the Lord.

"The people here are mostly very poor, but when they are friends they are solid ones."

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