Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On the Road to Cane Creek

[This is part two on a presentation I gave about Cane Creek and local Mormon History]

From Shady Grove we piled into our several cars and headed towards the home site of Sam Hoover. There is nothing remaining of the home, and site is overgrown with trees and brush [and poison ivy]. So standing in the shade on the road side we talked about the site.

Sam had married one of Abraham Church’s daughters and so was closely associated with the Church family. Although Mrs. Hoover was a member, Sam was not. Regardless, he was good friend to the missionaries and knew them well.

After B. H. Roberts received J. Golden Kimball’s telegram with the details of the shooting, he borrowed some cash from a local Jewish merchant who had befriended the LDS church in Chattanooga. With this he purchased two steel caskets which he had sent to the home of Sam Hoover.

After donning his “hobo” disguise, B. H. Roberts sent the wagon crew on ahead to the Hoover home, while he walked through the corn fields with the intent of meeting them there. It was a game of deception. He wanted to be sure no one could say they saw him (Roberts) leave with the wagons or the caskets. That way, no one would be expecting him in Lewis County. But too be sure, he mingled around many people he knew at the Hoover home, and not a single person recognized him. Confident that his disguise would work they continued on their way to Cane Creek with the wagon now loaded.

Our next stop was a rail road trestle on the only line between Centerville and Lewis County. At the time the rail line had been abandoned. The railroad had been built to support the iron ore industry in the area, but the foundry had gone bankrupt. There was iron ore to be sure, but not enough to mine profitably. It was this path the Willis E. Robison took to sneak into Cane Creek a few days after the shooting. He needed to know his friends at Cane Creek, both member and missionary we safe. So he left behind his companion and road the train as far as it went. At Centerville he began walking. But just before the trestle he was intercepted by guards placed there to stop any Mormon missionary from coming in. He had the foresight to remove his temple garments and put on the clothes of a cotton picker. They tore open his shirt to check for the garments and offered him chewing tobacco. He passed all the tests, and they began escorting him across the trestle. Elder Robison didn’t know if they really believed him. He even thought they might try to push him from the 40 foot high bridge as they crossed. He was determined that if the did he would take one of them with him. It didn’t come to that, however. He made it to Cane Creek, and after learning there was little he could do to help, he returned by the same route. We don’t know if this is the same trestle, but the height is right and the site is about right.

We also drove by Totty’s Bend, where there was another branch of the Church, but we didn’t get out and talk there. We also briefly pointed out about where Tom Garrett’s home was. Then we drove down Cane Creek Road and then on to Charles Talley Road.

[to be continued]

2 comments:

Ardis said...

Whether it's the identical trestle or not, seeing your picture and getting a feel for the landscape suddenly makes this part of the story so very much more real to me.

BruceCrow said...

I felt the same way when I was shown this trestle for the first time. And that is what I wanted replicate here.