Travels in Tennessee
Varied Experiences of a Missionary In that State
Editor Journal – It was a beautiful morning in April when we bid the good bye and started on our second tour through West Tennessee. Three of the Elders came with us far out into the woods to take a “last look,” as we would watch a ship laden with friends and kindred whom we loved as it bore them from us far out upon the great ocean. Under a large oak we [took] the offered hands and turned away, chanting mournfully. “Blessed be the ties that bind us together.”
On the morning of the 30th, with our Bibles and a few tracts in our pockets, we turned our faces westward. The birds were singing sweetly in every tree and all nature seemed to partake of that spirit of gladness that proclaim the return of spring.
Nothing of Importance
happened until we reached the Tennessee river on the [ground] of [Mars]. The river was very high on account of the recent rains and it was with difficulty – climbing around on rail fences, etc. – that we succeeded in reaching the ferry. For a small sum we employed a “son of Canaan” to set us over the river. We landed at Perryville and commenced our tour by walking several miles. In the evening we stopped at a farm house and inquired for the man of the house, and being informed he was in the field, we [busted] in our umbrellas and saddle pockets – which by the way are necessary articles to missionaries in the south – and repaired to the field, where we found our man and introduced ourselves as “Mormon” preachers and said we had [called] to that with him a few minutes. He remarked in a kind of “move-on” tone that he must finish plowing to-night and started on. We stood around a few minutes considering what would be best when our friend [relieved] us by saying “I reckon you’d better go to the house and I’ll be there after [while]. We were only
Too Glad To Go
And notwithstanding the cloud looked threatening on the old lady’s countenance we had a pleasant time until after breakfast next morning when we took our departure.
At noon we stopped at a home by the wayside to get a drink. We had a very pleasant chat for about an hour, when I suggested a small lunch would enliven us up considerably. It was forthcoming, and feeling thankful and happy we went in search of a Mr. Smith who we learned would perhaps allow us to preach in his house. We found him in the field but he had no use for us, “But,” said he, “Seth Thomas lives over there, about two miles: he’s powerful for furriners!” We asked if he knew of any earnest seeker after truth in his neighborhood when he replied, “No, I don’t know as I do.”
We sought out the minister and asked permission to preach in the church and was referred to the members, and not thinking it was worth while to hunt them all up, we journeyed on. The light was fading in the west and the whip-poor-will had commenced its mighty song before we found a place to rest.
Was a pleasant old gentleman, and would have liked to have heard us preach if there had been a house suitable in the neighborhood. He cited us two or three good homes “just ahead” and from there they were still “ahead.”
One evening we met two men on the road. Both were desirous of hearing us preach, but could not help us get a house. We told them if we could get a place to stay all night we would look out for a home to preach in ourselves. “Well, Clark.” Says one “you take them home with you; you can make them more comfortable than I can.” “I would, George, but it’s three miles and they don’t want to walk that far.” We told him we could stand it. “And then,” said he, “my wife is sick, too, George you take them.” “ You know I can’t accommodate both of them, Clark, and they wouldn’t like to separate. Besides, my wife is sick, too.”
This Kind of Talk
Lasted half an hour and put us in mind of a gentleman where we asked for dinner one day. His wife was sick and unable to get us any. But a glance through the window and the [unreadable] from the kitchen told me differently. We decided we had no use for such men and left them.
We Remained In West Tennessee
about five days and tired twenty times to get to preach and every time was answered, “there’s a good place just ahead.” On the 7th of May we took train and crossed back into Middle Tennessee and walked sixteen miles to the Cumberland river, eight miles above Fort Donalson, where we hoped to find some of my relatives but were disappointed; and hearing of a “Mormon” nine miles further north we crossed the river and walked three miles to a place called Indian Mound, where we succeeded in obtaining a house and left an appointment for the evening of the ninth, then continued on to Oak Wood, a distance of six miles , where we found a Bro. Williams who has been a member of the Church forty years, and has not seen an elder in that time. He received us kindly and we preached in his home that night.
On the ninth we returned to Indian Mound and preached to a good congregation. After meeting we were just preparing to make the soft side of a bench our bed for the night and that, too, without supper, when a young man came in and offered us his bed. We accepted and felt confirmed in the belief that God takes care of His servants.
We had several meetings and raised up many friends in that vicinity and feel confident our labors will be productive of good. On the 14th we commenced our return journey to attend our annual conference in Wayne county, a distance of 120 miles.
Johnsonville, Tenn., May 16, 1883
To be continued next week here.