Monday, May 19, 2014

The Durham Family of Bedford County Tennessee

Probably the earliest family to join the LDS church in Bedford County were Favius and Sarah Durham. Sarah was the first in the family to get baptized; on May 5th, 1895 by Elder Eratus Snow Larsen. His companion Jonathon H. Hale confirmed. (There was another baptism that same day: Francis Collins. Brother Collins lived in neighboring Marshall county.)

Durham, Sarah Elira (Findley)1 b. May 12 1844

Three days later, Elder Larsen was transferred to Nashville and Elder Hale was joined by Elder W. H. Kennington. We know about the transfer mostly from a letter Elder Hale wrote to a newspaper editor back in Utah. But the transfer was apparently temporary. When two of Sarah's daughters were baptized on August 1st 1895, Elder Larsen was on hand to perform the ordinance. His new companion, Soren Peterson confirmed.

Isabella Durham                   b. 17 May 1878
Mary Ann (Durham) Pratt   b. 2 Jun 1879 

Elder Larsen was also on hand for another round of baptisms on August 29, 1895, including her husband, four of her sons, and one son-in-law.

Durham, Favius b. 28 Sep 1830 Sarah's husband
Durham, Chas Crawford b. 8 Jul 1870
Durham, Everett b. 8 Jan 1879
Durham, Tobias Jr. b. 25 Apr 1885
Durham, Maximus b. 23 Apr 1883
Pratt, J. Franklin b. 30 Apr 1867 Sarah's son-in-law

Sept 18th another member of the Durham family joined the Church; Charles Durham's wife.

Durham, Kesiah Elizabeth2 b. Jan 18, 1861 Sarah's daughter-in-law

By Oct 2, 1895 when Elder Cullimore arrived in Bedford county on his first assignment, his companion was Elder Larsen. He at at least two other missionaries made their way to the Durham home where they had dinner. The exact location of the home is only vaguely described. Certainly in Bedford county, but with little more detail than that. The census does not record any greater detail until about 1920 when the Durham home was listed as being in Bell Buckle, a small community - in 1895 it probably had a population of about 700 people -  in the north east corner of the county.

Today there are no members of the Durham family in the local ward. All of the people with LDS ancestors moved to the area no more than 40 or 50 years ago, and most much less than that. The people with deep roots in the community are the first converts in their family. As for the Durhams, they certainly stayed in the area until the 1930's, and there are Durhams and Pratts living in the area today. But tracking the living is not my strong suit.

1. Findley listed on her membership record was probably a surname name from her previous marriage. Her parents as indicated on her membership record, were James Matison and Mary Ann Harden.
2. Her parents on her her membership record were Wesley Elrod and Martha Blackburn.

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