Friday, January 28, 2011

Haley's Creek Branch

Earlier this week I started looking at a rumor passed to me about a colony of people called Smithites who once lived in Decatur County, Tennessee and their reputed origins among the followers of Robert Edge.

I started by reviewing the documents I already have on Mr. Edge and found a reference in the writings of W. W. Bean to the fate of some of the converts. It read...

In a short time two Mormon Elders came and preached the very same doctrine that he did, and the people recognized them as being the men of whom he had spoken, and at once applied for baptism. The seventeen who had fasted three days connected themselves with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, and the greater part of them went to Colorado and located. Some afterwards became dissatisfied and joined the Josephite Church and some returned to Tennessee again, their former home. One of them being ordained to the office of an Elder in the Reorganized Church has become a preacher of that faith and they now have a small branch about six or seven miles distant from Lexington, but it is in a very weak condition as the presiding Elder is a man who drinks and does not have a very good reputation in the neighborhood. - Bean

I don’t know how to check for historic membership in the Community of Christ (a.k.a. the RLDS or Josephite Church), so I may have come to an end there. It may be that this branch of the Josephite Church “about six or seven miles from Lexington”, describes a community in Decatur County. But more likely it describes what is today the Jacks Creek Community of Christ congregation, which is about 10 miles south west of Lexington. Decatur County is in the other direction. There are only a handful of CoC congregations in Tennessee. Many are in the larger cities. But a few are in such rural locations, including this one, that I have to think there is an historical reason for their existence.

I also found that instead of being in the city of Lexington, which is the Henderson County seat and where Robert Edge frequently preached, most of his converts lived at the confluence of Haley Creek and Beech River, about six miles east of Lexington.

As the greater part of his followers lived on the banks of Beech River, near the south of Haley’s Creek this place was selected for the purpose of fasting. These three days were spent in singing and praying and rejoicing in the Lord. Once a day they were allowed to bathe in the waters of Beech River. - Belnap

Later in June 1880 when a branch of the LDS church was formed there, it was called the Haley's Creek Branch.

Late in the fall of the same year [1880] Hailey’s Creek Branch, save one soul, emigrated to San Jose, Colorado. - Belnap

Interestingly enough, the area called Utah, Tennessee is also on the Beech River albeit about 15 miles further downstream. I did take a trip to the State Archives, but didn’t find anything about the tiny Utah locality outside side Perryville. Maybe I have to make a trip to Utah in person.

[Next: The Followers of Robert Edge]


Ardis E. Parshall said...

The RLDS have shared their historical membership records with the Family History Library. The records are in two forms -- books kept by various congregations, and an alphabetical index card system where you can look up the membership of anyone by name. (Unlike our records from the period you're talking about, you don't have to know where somebody lived in order to find their record. In theory, anyway. There's always the possibility of individual books never having been turned in, or having been destroyed, or whatever.)

BruceCrow said...

Interesting. I'll have to check that out. I have a few names I'll be posting about next week showing my attempts to work around not knowing about that index.

Ardis E. Parshall said...

If the horribly long URL works, the link to the catalog record for those files is here.

And it doesn't surprise me at all that you've thought of a work around.

BruceCrow said...

Yes, the link works nicely. Thank you.