Friday, May 27, 2011

At the Cane Creek Cemetery

[This is part three on a presentation I gave about Cane Creek and local Mormon History. You can read the other two parts about the Church Family Cemetery and the places we stopped along the way.]

At Charles Talley Road the asphalt gave way to chert, a local rock used for gravel roads. We drove on the twisted path, keeping off the private driveways of the several homes now on what was once the Conder farm. Each of the homes were built for one of the descendents of the Talley family, who were Mormon over three generations back.

A sign led us to the right as we crossed a tiny brook. We drove up the road another 50 yards and found the well manicured cemetery on the right side. I don't know who keeps it so good looking, but I'll ask Charles when I meet him later this summer.

The group gathered around the stone marker for Riley and Martin.The two were buried together in a single grave. The marker itself was place by the Church in 1934 at the instigation of Miles L Jones, who was then the local mission president. When the stone arrived it was dedicated by Charles A. Callis, who was the newest member of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Here we began the story of the shooting itself, about where the missionaries spent the night and how Elder Jones found himself alone and late for the meeting. I described his capture and interogation by the mob. Then we followed the vigilantes as they went to the Conder farm, how they over-powered Jim Conder at the gate and forced their way into the house. We talked about the bravery of the two sons of Sister Malinda "Sues" Conder, who tried to fend off a well-armed mob of about 15 with two muzzle loading shot guns. I described how each of the missionaries died and how Elder Henry B. Thompson was able to escape.

We ended with questions about the people who lived here, and about the Conder home itself, and I told how it had been burned down in 1895 leaving only a chimney, and that by the mid-20th century there was nothing left to see but an empty field.

After the people thanked us for our time, and we took photographs, they left one by one. I took the time to photograph the other stones in the graveyard. I noted that even though it is called the Conder Cemetery, the only Conder buried there is Martin. Buried next to Martin and Riley was Riley's own father John R. Hudson. A little ways away was his paternal grandfather. A few members of the branch were buried here to: Mary Sealy and her parents Eli and Barby Talley, the first two to get baptized at Cane Creek. Then I turned to leave as well. After a brief stop at the site of the log chapel, now an open lot cleared down to the dirt, I turned back home.


Ardis said...

What a moving tour. Thanks for taking us along with you.

Your local saints and temple workers have a particularly dramatic piece of local history, which you have made to feel real by your placing it in the whole local context of geography and people. I think that removes the sensationalism that usually accompanies dramatic but ill-understood events, and makes it more poignant and significant precisely because the events fit naturally into the fabric of history and because the historic people you described to them were real people and not cartoon characters who lived only during the moments of the massacre. I'm sure your tour members felt that even though they likely wouldn't recognize exactly why your presentation worked so well. They're lucky to have had you for a guide.

BruceAllen said...

Wow! I love your way with words. And, Thank you.