Monday, June 3, 2013

Maltreating a Mormon Missionary in a Miserable Manner

Southern Scamps
Maltreating a Mormon Missionary in a Miserable Manner

The following extracts taken by the Territorial Enquirer from a letter (dated Aug 19) received by Mrs. Jesse J. Fuller, of Provo, from her husband who has been laboring as a missionary in Alabama and Tennessee, will be read with interest by many who have felt considerable anxiety on Bro. Fuller’s account since the receipt of the dispatch announcing his maltreatment by a mob in Lawrence County, Tenn:

Since I last wrote to you I have been with the Elders – six of them – holding meetings, which have been well attended and resulted in four being added to the Church besides two whom Albert baptized the day before I came.
Aunt Margaret McMurray, who has been kind to me and has believed the Gospel so long was one of them. She had been waiting for a month for me to come, and after I arrived, we held a meeting at her house, to which she had invited all her relatives and acquaintances to the number of 50 or 60. I preached the first Mormon sermon several of them had ever heard. Then I had the privilege of baptizing her and her son’s wife. There were a number present who never saw a Mormon baptism and came out of curiosity.
I presume you have heard of the horrible murder of Elders Gibbs and Berry at a meeting on Cane Creek. That is where I labored when I first came out and have stayed at Bro. Condor’s, where the men were killed, many times. We heard of the murder in the papers, but hoped the report would turn out to be false. To-day, I got a letter from Elder Roberts, which confirmed the sad affair, and it makes us all feel downcast.
Last Sunday, there were threats of disturbing our meeting and we were looking for some trouble, as our meeting was held about a quarter of a mile from where we held meetings, last September, when we were threatened with tar and feathers, but after the meeting closed, on Sunday last, Brother and Sister Lawson desired to be baptized, and we all went down to the creek where Elder Linton baptized them, and all went on nicely, no one offering a word or look against any of the proceedings. Then we separated, the Elders going home with the saints and friends, feeling thankful that all had ended well. About midnight, however, a couple of the Elders were waked up and ordered to dress by several disguised men. Elder Woodbury, leaving his hat, managed to get out of the window and pass by two or three of the mob without being detected. The other Elder was taken out  a half-mile and treated to a little sprouting, and I happened to be the one who got the treat.. There were seven in the crowd that took me out; four of them had guns. They were all young men, and I believe I would have been allowed to go but for two or three surly chaps; as it was they gave me a little warming about the legs. They left some marks on my right leg and arm, but the one who stood on my left side seemingly did not wish to hurt me, as he struck lightly, although the ring leader said, “Take off his coat and pop it harder.” I returned to the house and found Elder Woodbury all right after having been gone an hour. It was half past one o’clock when I returned and I went to bed again and slept soundly.
Next day I came back here (Lauderdale Co., Ala.,) – 10 miles. All the Saints (about 40 in number) are feeling well, and our friends who do not belong to the Church are more attached to us that ever before.
I am feeling splendid, and thankful that I can endure something for the Gospel’s sake.”


Ardis said...

Whether or not he really felt as cool about his mistreatment as this sounds, I think he did a favor to a lot of Southern States missionary parents at home by sounding as though the elders could handle anything and then go back to sleep.

I tally enjoyed this!

Dale Topham said...

A letter from my grandfather's Uncle Jesse!! This is great! Thank you so much for sharing this. I will have to let my mother know about it. (Jesse was much older than my great grandfather Asahel and largely raised him after their parents died.

Ironic that some years later, Asahel served in the same mission and spent time in the same areas as his older brother.

Do you have an account of the earlier incident referred to in this post?

BruceAllen said...

Ardis, Lots of parents whose children were called to the Southern States were concerned just as you describe. I get the sense that most missionaries tried to downplay the persecution they received, but a small few played it up too.

Dale, I thought you might like this. I'm still looking for information on the earlier incident, but since it was only a threat, I'm not optimistic. Do you know if you grandfather's Uncle Jesse kept a journal?

Dale Topham said...

I don't know. I've never seen a missionary journal by him.

Dale Topham said...

Bruce, Here is a newspaper article from 1910. Check out the 1884 entry in the article.

Dale Topham said...

Another Jesse J. Fuller news article. See the part under the bold heading "Missionary Experience."

Dale Topham said...

Jesse Fuller returns home from his mission. This contains an interesting take on the results of his whipping by a mob. See the bold heading "Returned from the South"

BruceAllen said...

Excellent, Dale!! Teach me to go away for a long weekend. There is some great detail in those articles. But only enough to whet my appetite for more. :)