Monday, March 4, 2013

Albert L. Cullimore in Bedford County (part 2)

This is part 2 of the missionary recollections of Albert L. Cullimore. He had just arrived in the mission and was assigned to work in Bedford County.

We were told to travel without purse or script as the missionaries of old had done.  We were in Chattanooga at the time.  I must confess my weakness, when I started out I took a five dollar gold piece with me.  As we would tell people we were traveling without purse and script, the gold piece got bigger and bigger, until I sent it back to the office.

One of the first thrills of my mission was when Elder Erastus Larsen, my companion from Cache County, took me to call on a convert to the Church, a Brother Collins.  Brother Collins [Francis U. Collins] had been baptized in the fall or winter [5 May 1895].  Elder Larsen said, "I promised Brother Collins that if he would faithfully pay his tithing and live the teachings of the gospel as he had been taught, he would prosper.  I told him if he paid his tithing and was a faithful member he would not lose a thing."  As we approached the home of Brother Collins, I noticed his crops of corn seemed to be double that of his neighbor's.  The soil was apparently the same quality, all other conditions seemed the same so far as material was concerned.  This was faith-promoting to me.

On December 15, I received word that my son, Lloyd, had been born December 10th.  This was indeed a wonderful message.

Elder Larsen and I were assigned to labor in Bedford County.  We started at once to tract.  We left a tract at one home, the lady was out raking the lawn.  She picked up the rake and told us to get out of the yard or she would hit us over the head with the rake.  The next place they turned their dogs on us, and the next place we were told to get off the place.  It was very discouraging and disheartening.   It was about time to stop for the day, finally we went to a home where the man of the house told us he would give us a bite to eat and a place to sleep. When we went to bed the man locked us in the room.  The next morning he awakened us at 3:00 a.m., we ate breakfast and he told us that he was going to work.  We told him not to let us detain him.  In a few minutes he repeated that he was going to work.  We again told him not to let us hinder him.  Then he said, "Before I go, you must leave this house."  It was 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. in October.  We were not familiar with the surroundings, but had to wander around in the cold and dark until daybreak.

We were very concerned about the unfriendly treatment that we were getting in this part of the county, so we worked to find the reason for the people reacting as they did.  Then we were told this story:  "A short distance away a Mormon missionary had stolen a Mrs. Shelton and taken her to Utah, so all the neighborhood had declared vengeance on the Mormons." My companion and I checked the story.  We went to talk with Mr. Shelton.  We found that his wife had joined the Church and gone to Colorado with his consent.  He said that she had left at the same time Elder Ezra Walker was released from his mission [in 1887].  She had gone with Elder Walker, not by force, but because she was going to Colorado to make her home and wanted company.  Elder Walker was innocent of any accusations.  Mrs. Shelton had gone to Colorado, and Elder Walker had gone to his home in Utah.  We were happy to get the story straight and refute the accusations.

[Elder Walker married twice: Laura Jane Brown in 1881, (she passed away in 1882, six days after their only child was born) and Annie Swensen in 1889. He certainly didn't marry Mrs Shelton. However, I have not been able to find Mrs.Shelton in Colorado, or locate her on the Tennessee baptism record. Plus there are lots of Shelton's in Bedford County in the 1880 census.]

Everything wasn't as easy as we had expected, however, very few believed us when we told them of Mr. Shelton's statement.  One person, after we told him of Mr. Shelton's statement, said it was not true.  He picked up two rocks and said, "D___ you, don't you call me a liar or I will kill both of you."  He ordered us off his place, calling us every vile name he could think of.  His neighbor lady treated us nearly as bad.  She said if she had known who we were we wouldn't have gotten through her gate.  She ordered us out, calling us thieves and robbers, and told us never to come back.

In the same neighborhood another man would not believe our statement about Mrs. Shelton, and came at us like a mad dog--threatened to shoot us and would not allow us to speak back, under threat of our lives.  He said if we ever came along that road again he'd kill us.

We had many similar experiences in this section of the County.

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