Thursday, May 12, 2011

Presentation Preparation

So on May 21st I am giving a presentation of the Cane Creek Massacre to a group of temple missionaries with some time off because the temple has shut down for two weeks. My bishop and I have come up with a plan. We’ll start at Shady Grove, where B. H. Roberts put on his now famous “hobo disguise.” The house is long gone, but the family cemetery is still there.

If there were any place where the Church took root first in Tennessee, it would be here. Sure there were other places where the gospel was preached and converts were baptized. Places like Paris, and Eagle Creek. Most of those converts eventually went to Far West or Nauvoo, leaving nothing behind. But here the Church send down roots that can be seen still today. There use to be a home here; a home belonging to Abraham Church. ....

We’ll start with some background on the missionary work in middle Tennessee, including some short anecdotes about David Patten (1835), Abraham Smoot, George Teasdale (1875) Haden Wells Church (1875), Edward Stevenson (1878), Joseph Argyle (1879), and Parley P Pratt Jr.

Then we’ll assume Roberts’ point of view. How he served a mission here and knew the people well. How he was called as the acting mission president. How he sent J. Golden Kimball to Shady grove to recover from a bout of malaria, and sent John H. Gibbs and William H. Jones on a special mission to tour west Tennessee. We’ll also give his impressions of a new missionary William S. Berry.

From there we’ll describe how Roberts learned of their death while in Chattanooga and his decision to come to Shady Grove and eventually to go to Cane Creek to retrieve the bodies.

After leaving Shady Grove we’ll stop briefly at Sam Hoover’s homestead where Roberts had the steel caskets delivered. Then we’ll follow the probable route Roberts took to Cane Creek, south along the Natchez Trace, then west to Hohenwald. We’ll stop briefly to see where the historical sign was before it was vandalized, then we’ll go up to the cemetery.

At the cemetery we’ll tell about the Conders and their life before the missionaries came, and how they converted to the Church. We’ll relate the specifics of the massacre itself. Finally we’ll talk about the aftermath, not just how Roberts retrieved the bodies, but also how the Conder family dealt (or didn’t deal) with the tragedy.

While we show them the grave marker, we’ll talk about how that marker came about and how the Church struggled in Lewis county, about the return of dedicated full time missionaries in 1947 and about the baptism of Bud Talley in 1949.

I love telling the side stories that flesh out the rest of the narrative and make it personal. I have collected a few I will add. If you were tell the Cane Creek story, what sticks out in your mind that you think others would like to hear?

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