Monday, April 30, 2012

History of the Church in Rutherford County before the Civil War

In 1834, James and Lucinda Pace moved from Cripple Creek (which empties into the East Fork of Stone River) in Rutherford County, Tennessee to Shelby County, Illinois. James left behind much of his family, but Lucinda brought along her father, Judge Warren Gibson Strickland of Murfreesboro. There in 1839, they met Dominicus Carter (see note 1), who had recently been driven from Missouri. On 14 April 1839, James and his wife accepted baptism into the LDS Church. In September of that same year Almon Babbitt organized a branch of the Church in the area. On 15 April 1840 James was ordained a Deacon, and in June 1840, the Pace family left for Nauvoo. All along they were thinking of their relatives back in Tennessee.

In 1841 while Elder J. D. Lee (see note 2) was preaching in Overton and Jackson Counties, in Tennessee, he received a received a letter from James Pace who was a neighbor of Lee's in Nauvoo. In his letter, James asked Lee pay a visit to his brother William on Stone River. Lee agreed and with a letter of introduction, Lee and his companion traveled to Rutherford County to meet with William Pace.

On that same visit Lee and his companion Elder Dwight Webster, publicly debated with some Campbellite ministers.The debates went well for Lee and he baptized some influential people: Sheriff (see note 3) John Thompson and his wife, William Pace and his wife , Major D. M. Jarratt and his wife, Mrs. Caroline Ghiliam, Major Miles Anderson, and others. After a month, Elder Webster returned to Jackson County, while Lee spent the next six month preaching in and around Stone River. He ordained William Pace to the Aaronic Priesthood, probably to the office of Priest, and set him to preside over the branch. Elder Lee then returned to Nauvoo, stopping in Jackson and Overton Counties along the way.

In the winter of 1842-3, members of the "Branch of the Church on Stone River, Tennessee and Cripple Creek, Rutherford County Tennessee" sent a letter to the Church in Nauvoo, asking for them to send Elder Lee to continue the preaching efforts. It appears that most of the converts in the Stone River area had emigrated to Nauvoo. Captain John H. Redd was one of the few left and was behind the invitation to Lee to return. Redd explained to Lee that after those who favored the church had left, the mood toward Mormons in the area had soured. One missionary, Randolph Alexander, had even been run out of town.

Lee preached for months withstanding every attempt to silence him. He had run-ins with opponents of the Church from Missouri ad debates with ministers. Before he was done he claimed to have organized two branches and had made sixty converts. The second branch in Rutherford County was west of Murfreesboro. Lee "called it the Friendship Branch of Rutherford. [He]Set apart and ordained the following officers — Brother John Holt, an Elder; Wm. Holt, lesser Priest; Brother John H. Redd, Teacher and Clerk." (see note 4)

In 1843, a man professing to be a Mormon Elder conned the members in Rutherford County out of a horse and related gear worth a hundred dollars. He claimed to have been wounded in the Missouri troubles and was unable to walk long distances. Convincing the congregation that his horse was stolen they raised donations to secure him a new one. Once he had the horse, he left with the explanation that he was visiting a nearby branch. He was never seen again.

In 1844, a special conference was scheduled  in support of Joseph Smith bid for the U. S. Presidency on the 20 and 21st of July. It was part of a series of conferences held in several locations. Since Joseph was killed before the conference was held, the political aspects of the conference were dropped.

After 1844, few missionaries were sent to Tennessee, and just two made it briefly to Rutherford County. In 1857, Elder Blackwell and Murphy passed though Rutherford County briefly warning the saints that it was time to gather to Zion. Even with that warning, one couple William and Mary Ann Hickman, refused to go west to Utah. Sister Hickman recalled years later that the missionaries warned them that there would come a day when they would wish they had gone to Zion barefooted.

One by one branches dissolved due to emigration, attrition or death. The remnants of the branches set up before the war had faded beyond recognition when missionaries finally returned in the 1870's. But that is a subject for another post.

Note 1: Dominicus Carter (1806-1884) must have been a fast traveler. Dominicus married his first plural wife, Sylvia Ameret Meacham near Quincy in Adams County, Illinois on 28 March 1839. To make the journey, he would have to travel 160 miles in less than 17 Days. The Carter family does not record his serving a mission until 1844. New family search indicates an alternative baptism date for the Paces of 14 Apr 1837, though Pace family historians stand by the 1839 date. There was an unidentified Elder Carter preaching in Shelby County, Illinois in 1837. 

Note 2: John Doyle Lee wrote his memoirs many years later shortly before his execution for his part in the tragic events at Mountain Meadows. His memory of the details may be suspect.

Note 3: The Sheriff of Rutherford County in 1841 was Wilson L Watkins, though that does not preclude Thompson from being a deputy sheriff.

Note 4: This was found in a family history written by Laura Redd, as though it was quoting Elder Lee's journal. I have not been able to confirm the source yet.

Known converts:
John Thompson and his wife
William Franklin Pace (1806-1876) and his wife Margaret Elizabeth Nichols (1808-1887), 
Major David Mitchel Jarratt (1798-1867) and his wife Clemetine Charlotte Sanders (1824-1858), 
Mrs. Caroline Ghiliam, 
Major Miles Anderson (1798-1876) on the 4 Feb 1841 
and his wife Nancy Pace (1801-1875) on the 7 Feb 1841
Captain John Hardison Redd (1799-1858) baptized June 17, 1843 (Aug 1843 in LDS records)
and his wife Elizabeth Hancock (1798-1853) baptized June 17, 1843 (1 Jan 1842 in LDS records)
Venice (a slave of the Redd's) baptized June 17, 1843
Chenia (a slave of the Redd's) baptized June 17, 1843
William R. Hickman (-1869) and his wife Mary Ann Hickman (1812-)
William Holt (1820-1888) baptized June 1, 1842
Parson John Holt (1792-1872) baptized June 6, 1843.
Mary Redd Holt (1792-1875) baptized June 6, 1843
William D. Pace  baptized June 14, 1843
Harvey A. Pace  baptized June 14, 1843


Amy T said...

I was going to make a comment about the Redd family being in my early Utah slaveholders project, but I scrolled up to look at something and noticed that you have the post about Marinda Redd Bankhead in your sidebar, so I guess there's no need to say anything. : )

BruceAllen said...

Yes, but now people will see your comment and take the time to read (and follow) the sidebar link.

Lori said...

I am a descendant of William Franklin Pace and also John Hardison Redd. I was wondering if you had a baptism date for William F.and Margaret Nichols Pace when they were taught by John D.Lee and Dwight Webster? Thanks so much for your posting. Please contact me at

BruceAllen said...

Sadly, John D. Lee did not record the date in any greater detail that sometime in 1841.