Monday, December 1, 2014

My Visit to the Modern Lebanon Ward

Last week I stepped outside my comfort zone. I am an introvert. In general I avoid crowds of people I don't know. I'm not, however, shy. It's not the same thing. Meeting and talking with strangers is a chore, one that I can do but which comes at a cost. For me it is exhausting. I can get up on stage or stand at a podium and, well, put myself out there, but I have to have a reason. Being a historian, even an amateur one, gives me that.

So last week I harnessed that reason and took myself on a trip 75 miles away. My stake was having Stake Conference and my ordinary responsibilities at church were not required. For a few months I have been working on a history of the Baird's Mill Branch in Wilson County Tennessee, and I thought "why not go visit the modern local ward in the Wilson county seat of Lebanon?"


Yes, I know. It was a gloomy day; overcast and drizzling rain, and I was running late. Lebanon is further away than I remembered. I arrived during the rest hymn, and sat in the foyer. I didn't ask but I would have guessed there were a little over 100 people in attendance. As the service ended I got up and walked into the chapel and found a seat. I correctly surmised that Gospel Doctrine Class (the Sunday School class for adult members) would be in the chapel next. As I watched people visit, talk and socialize (all extrovert activities) I was approached a few times and asked to introduce myself. Good thing too. There was no way I was going to approach anyone myself. 

"Yes, I'm a member" "No, I'm not moving into the area" "My great great grandfather served in Wilson County from 1883-1885." "His name was Jacob F Miller", "No, he was not one of B. H. Roberts' companions" Usually by then people lose interest in history and the conversation goes on to other things. 

One person persisted. He was the first president when the branch was formed in 2002. It is now a Ward, with a new building that is just 5 years old. I was also able to get the name of one person (who attends another ward) whose family were members in Lebanon years ago. Maybe that will turn into something. It wasn't long before my introverted self had had enough. The members of the Lebanon treated me well. "Its not you. Its me."as the saying goes. 

As I pulled out of the parking lot I decided to drive by Baird's Mill and take a quick photo. Little exists of the original community. No post office, no furniture factory and no saw mill. The lake which was fed by ground water and helped grow Baird's Mill over 100 years ago is long gone. I'm not sure I could conclusively pinpoint where it was, but I have some theories.  Names, however, are oddly persistent. This modern sign marks a housing development less than half a mile from the original. After taking the photo, I turn my car around and head home.



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2 comments:

Ardis said...

Some of us understand why you do this ... and as long as you keep writing, we won't make you make small talk. *shudder*

BruceCrow said...

And for that I am thankful....