Monday, January 24, 2011

The Smithites of Decatur County

Part of historical research is being willing to listen when people tell you stories. What follows is hearsay. I heard it from a friend, who heard it from a friend who was told this story. But this week I am going to start digging into this to see what I can find.

There was a member of our local ward (Chester) who has since passed away, who joined the church later in life. He liked to fish on the Tennessee River in the area of Decatur County, and had been doing so for many years. Long before he joined the LDS Church, he saw a collection of abandoned cabins near the bank of the river. Chester had become frieds with many of the people who lived nearby. They explained that the community was settled many years earlier by a religious community that called themselves Smithites.

Somewhere along the line the story became connected with that of Robert Edge. It seems that a number of the people from that area who joined the LDS Church because they had first been taught by Robert Edge, later emmigrated to Colorado. After living there a short time, they becamed disillutioned with the LDS Church over the practice of Plural Marriage, and returned to Tennessee. And here is hwee the stories merge. Somehow, someone got the idea that these Smithites were those people who had returned from Colorado.

There is indeed a small locality in that area called Utah and running through it is a Utah Road. It is actually about two miles up a tributary of the Tennessee River called Beech River.  But I can only learn so much from a map. It is time to see what the archives say.


Ardis E. Parshall said...

Cool. I look forward to the results of your looking into this. So many threads of your previous research seemingly run into this story that if any part of it turns out to be true the story is going to be amazing to read.

BruceCrow said...

Thanks Ardis. I'll be working this from two angles. I want to see what is known about the community at Utah, Decatur County, Tennessee. Plus I can start tracing the 18 converts who joined the church following Robert Edge's visit. If these stories are connected then my two paths might meet somewhere in the middle.