Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Returnees: A Project to Identify Why Some Converts Wanted to Return Home

Sometimes when a convert moves west to join the saints, something changes their mind and they return home. In some cases we might get to know the thought process behind their decisions. In most cases, however, We are left with few clues to understand their decisions.

I have seen other families return for financial reasons. Finding work and starting over turned out to be too much. For a lucky few who decided to return home, they had not successfully sold their old home yet, making the decision to return a little easier.

Others left because of administrative and doctrinal disagreements with church leaders. Not everyone who found themselves at odds with the church decided the best course of action was to return to their previous home. I read about more than one family that decided to move on to Missouri. Only a few found themselves heading back to Tennessee.

Many of the immigrants complained about the differences in climate. Colorado, Utah, and Idaho were very different from Tennessee. Many who stayed complained about the inhospitable weather, and the short growing season. So it is easy to imagine a few returning after a few too many late or early frosts.

From the Middle Tennessee Baptismal Record I have identified seven families who did exactly that; returned to Tennessee. There are likely more; many more. But using the MTBR I can start with an isolated sample. Of the 1411 individuals identified on the the record these were the 17 who returned home and remained on church records. My question is why did they return to Tennessee.

Katherine Alexander & three children

John & Rebecca Denton

Ezekiel & Bernithia Denton

Orvel & Susan Fuller

William & Minnie Featherston & one child

Mary Neeley & two children

Elmer & Linnie Rhodes & one child

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