Monday, September 19, 2011

History Tales at a Father and Son Outing

Last Friday night I had the opportunity to speak at a Father and Son outing. There were estimates of over 90 people there, but it sure seemed like a lot more than that. I would have guessed twice that. There were 12 from my ward that I know of (we are a small ward) and many many more from several other wards.

I was asked to speak about the history of the LDS Church in the area and specifically to include the events of the Cane Creek Massacre. Our campground was on theland of a local Bishop and was within a mile, as the crow flies, from Shady Grove. That town served as a headquarters for the missionaries in the Tennessee Conference for many years. Shady Grove was really more of a plantation of sorts. The home of Abraham Church, later owned by his son "Uncle Robbins" Church, was at the center and hosted missionaries whose names most members know even today; B. H. Roberts, J. Golden Kimball and John H. Gibbs There were others as well that only history geeks know but who were equally famous in their day: David W. Patten, Abraham O. Smoot, John W. Taylor, and many more.

Not everyone was keenly interested, and it didn't bother me. I try to keep my history fascination to myself most of the time. I know not everyone wants to hear what I have to say. But most people were at least polite enough to pretend to be interested. There were a couple of kids who wanted to know when we were going to eat (it started at 8:00 pm). So maybe if give a presentation to a captive audience, I'll suggest we have popcorn or let then roast marshmallows on the bonfire. Who knows.

The next day, we offered a driving tour of a couple of important spots. About a dozen opted to join us. About a dozen more said they wanted to come but that they had promised their sons they would take the fishing. Fishing is big here. My two sons - age 13 and 9 - fished with friends for 7 hours, and I was only gone for 3 hours of that. When I finally dragged them away for dinner, they still wanted to stay.

We stopped at the Church family Cemetery in Shady Grove, and by chance ran into the owner of the land around it. He was able to confirm for us where the original home stood.We also followed the same route we had used before, stopping at a couple fewer spots. We made sure to stop at the railroad trestle and ended up at the Coder Cemetery at Cane Creek. Having already told the story the night before we had the chance to discuss some of the side stories I picked pver the last couple of years, including what happened to the Conder sisters and the other members of the Early LDS Church buried in both cemeteries.

The most interest we got was from members of the Church who were new to the area. They really wanted to understand the history of the Church in Tennessee. It gave them the chance to connect to the members who had been here all their lives. This may not be where they were born, but it is their adopted home. I don't see why other areas could not do the same.


Ardis said...

Sounds wonderful. For this to work in other areas, there would have to be a Chicago Bruce, a Florida Bruce, a West Texas Bruce ... Only you know how much preparation it has taken for the Tennessee Bruce to be ready to do what you did for your neighbors. You're the model -- let's hope they didn't break the mold!

BruceAllen said...

You are very kind Ardis. I have been contacted by people in Mississippi, New York City, Texas, and Indiana who were interested in collecting their local LDS history and putting it on the web. I am sure there have been others who have thought of it. But you are right. It is a bit of work. AND so much fun too.