INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE
JOSEPH HYRUM PARRY
Written by Himself
Father- John Parry 1789 - 1868
Mother- Harriet Parry 1822 - 1901
Louisa- 1857 - 1935
Edwin- 1860 - 1935
Henry- 1862 -
My father, John Parry (57), born February 10, 1789 at Newmarket, Flintshire
North Wales, was an expert stone mason by trade. The churches, public
buildings, castles, great halls, and dwellings in North Wales are constructed
of stone, almost exclusively. He was a poet and scholar and loved literature.
He was a singer and musician of some note in his native land, playing the harp,
piano, and flute. After coming to Utah in 1849 he was in great demand as a
singer, and became the first leader of the since famous Salt Lake Tabernacle
choir, holding this position several years. Issac Nash, later of Malad, Idaho,
being his assistant.
Father was an active churchman in his native land, became a lay-preacher in the
Episcopal (English state) Church, but being of an enquiring mind, ever seeking
for the truth, he thought the Baptist Church was nearer the truth, and forsook
the faith of his fathers and became a Baptist preacher. Later, when the
Campbellite or "Apostolic" church came along, with a church organization
conforming more closely to the primitive church, he joined hands with them.
On first hearing of Mormonism he was prejudiced against the restored Gospel,
and warned his sons to beware of it. But after careful investigation, and
weeks of prayerful deliberation and moral conflict, in view of his past
religious experiences, he became convinced of the truth of Mormonism and was
baptized on September 12, 1846 by Elder Thomas Wilson, and he became a strong
supporter of the restored Gospel to the close of his life. He and his daughter
Sarah (149), who died the same year, sang and preached their way into the
hearts of the people in all that part of North Wales.
When I was on my second mission to Great Britain I traveled and preached
through North Wales in the summer of 1878. At Carvwys, about seven miles from
Denbigh, Elder George R. Emery and I had the privilege of preaching at the same
spot in the open air on the village common where my father had preached some
thirty years before. Some of our hearers remembered him and related the
following incident: "When your father testified to the restoration of the
Gospel and of the different gifts and operations of the Holy Spirit, some
malicious person sent out to him a glass of poisoned water, which of course he
did not drink, but went on preaching with the glass in his hand."
With his wife, Mary Williams, (daughter of William and Mary Williams, of Mold,
Flintshire, North Wales,) and his sons William and Caleb, my father sailed from
Liverpool, England, February 25, 1849, on the ship "Beuna Vista", with a
company of two hundred forty-nine emigrating Welsh Saints, under the direction
of Captain Dan Jones. They arrived in New Orleans April 19, thence by
steamboat up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to St. Louis and Council
Bluffs, Iowa. On the river boat his wife died of cholera and was buried at
Council Bluffs. The remaining members of the family came to the valley in
George A. Smith's company, arriving in Salt Lake City, October 28, 1849- over
eight months on the way.
My half sister Mary and her husband, John Williams, who came to Utah some years
later, made their home in mill Creek, about five miles south of the city, where
they reared a large family of fine girls, losing a son in death. My half
brother John emigrated in 1856, later moved to Logan, Utah, and was the master
mason on the Temple building.
My half brothers William and Caleb, both fine singers, located the first at
Ogden and the second at Marriott's, a suburb of Ogden. They walked down to
Salt Lake City frequently to visit their father, and on of my earliest happy
remembrances was that of hearing the three sing together. Lacking the gift of
melody or "something," my father despaired of making me a singer, as music
seemed to be left out of my makeup. My brother Edwin, however, inherited
richly the talent of music and poetry, being a god composer and performer.
Wales is a land of mountains, of little alpine heights, ranged on the western
coast of Great Britain, set between plain and sea, full of hill fastnesses.
In planning for the accommodation of the emigrating Saints, President Brigham
Young thought to reserve the north-east section of the city; the foothills of
the Wasatch Mountains- for the Saints from Wales, on account of its hilly
aspects, so like their native land. But apparently they wanted no more hill
climbing, so on their arrival in the Valley, the Welsh chose to make their home
on the west side, a level plane some five to eight blocks west of the Temple
square, in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Wards. My father located in the
Sixteenth Ward, on the northwest corner of Fifth West and South Temple Streets,
where he acquired a city lot of one and one-fourth acres, and built a modest
home of adobe. He followed his trade for a few years until his health failed.
He was present at the laying of the corner stones of the Temple in 1853, and
helped build the wall which encloses the Temple Block of ten acres.
In the early fifties my father married Mrs. Patty Sessions, a Pioneer widow who
came with the Saints from Nauvoo, Illinois in 1848. There were no children.
She outlived father many years.
My mother, Harriet Parry, of St. Asaph, Flintshire, North Wales, was born
October 18, 1822, arrived in Salt Lake City in Joseph W. Young's ox-team
company October 10, 1853, walking the plains from Council Bluffs, Iowa. Some
of my mother's fellow travelers from Wales rather disdained the offer to cross
the plains with an ox-team, so they stayed behind at Council Bluffs to wait for
a horse or mule caravan. Later in the season, however, they were glad to join
a hand-cart company and "pull and push" their way over the dreary wastes for a
My mother was married to father April 2, 1854, in the old Council House. There
were five children born of this union: Joseph Hyrum, born Wednesday, August 8,
1855, Bernard Llewellyn, born Friday, August 10, 1855, Louisa Ellen, born
Tuesday, September 22, 1857, Edwin Francis, born June 11, 1860, and Henry
Edward, born Tuesday, February 11, 1862. My twin brother died in infancy.
Father died January 14, 1868, in Salt Lake City, when I was a few months over
twelve years of age. He has not been able to work at his trade for ten or more
years before leaving us, but from the products of the city lot, which included
a small orchard nursery, the family subsisted. He was a lover of flowers and
trees- a born gardener. He planted a small orchard and produced fine fruit.
He harvested one hundred twenty dollars worth of apples from one tree in the
year when the soldiers from California came here on their way to the South to
join the Union Armies. We grew strawberries and pieplant... (rhubarb)... for
which we obtained very good prices, fifty and sixty cents a quart for the
berries. I have been reliably informed that father was the first to grow
alfalfa in Utah, from seed brought here in 1852 by his cousin Mary Parry,
sister of Edward L. Parry. We kept one or two cows and the fine butter which
mother made was always in demand at good prices. We produced an abundance of
peaches and plums in the little orchard and dried them in quantity, exchanging
some for groceries at the store.
For sweetening our daily corn meal "mush" or cereal, and to spread on our bread
in lieu of butter, we used sorghum syrup, made from the "cane" we grew on our
little town lot.
All of us children helped in the home work and thus we got along happily and
above want; how mother managed so well has ever been a marvel to me. I don't
recall a single occasion when we children went to bed hungry. To us she was a
model leader and disciplinarian, kind to a fault, but firm as adamant for right
and proper conduct.
We attended the little district school in the winter, and our mother encouraged
us in acquiring the taste for good reading, which we never lost.
While my sister, Louisa, kept the home fires burning, my mother and I spent the
autumn of several years in gleaning wheat after the harvesters were through on
farms bordering the city. We threshed the wheat at home and carried it to a
local mill. Thus we got the flour for our winter's bread.
Some incidents connected with our gleaning experiences will linger long in
memory. We very tired before we reached home with our sheaves of grain, but
mother never once mentioned it. Harvesters often left "fat fields" for the
gleaners, while some fields were not worth viniting. Some owners, like Bonz of
old, were kind to the gleaners, but others grudgingly tolerated them, and some
drove them from their fields. A field just west of the city and near the
Jordan River, about a mile from our home, owned by one Isaac Hunter, was one
day swarming with gleaners, following close after the harvesters. The owner,
thinking perhaps that we had too easy picking, harshly drove everybody from the
field, creating disappointment and no little resentment. The sequal was rather
tragic, as that proved to be the last crop of grain that Brother Hunter got
from that fields due to floods, spring freshets, and over flows of the Jordan
River and City Creek, which made a slough of the farm site.
Coming home from the farming country one day in August, 1868 - the sixteenth -
tired, though happy, for we had had a good day, I met a neighbor boy, Emmett D.
Mousley, who asked me, after casual greetings, if I wouldn't like a job at the
Deseret News printing office in preference to gleaning in the wheat fields? If
so, I was urged to apply at seven-thirty next morning. He told me to bring my
dinner with me and assured me of a job to succeed him as "printer's devil," so
that he might leave the press room and go into the typesetting department,
where he was long past due as an apprentice.
That was the last gleaning day for both mother and me. I was promptness itself
the next morning at the office door, where I found the business manager, Angus
M. Cannon, and asked for a job. He looked at me keenly and thought that I was
in dead earnest and confident of getting what I asked for, as was evidenced by
the accompanying dinner bucket in hand. He told me afterwards that my
appearance with dinner pail forbade him turning me down, so he sent me to the
foreman of the press room, Richard Matthews, with instruction to put me to
work. Thus I began my career as a printer, at one dollar a day. The pay for
many years consisted of farm and garden produce, and orders on the little
stores of the city. Money was a rarity. The produce from out little orchard,
augmented by my little wage, enabled mother's little family to live more
To help solve the clothing problem of the family, mother cleaned and carded
wool, spun it into yarn and had it woven into cloth for our clothing, genuine,
"homespun," warm and durable.
For three months, January, February, and March, 1870 - I obtained leave of
absence from the printing office to attend John Moran's commercial college.
This and a few months' night school at the same institution, for which I
purchased a life scholarship, constituted my only formal schooling since my
thirteenth year. I early acquired the reading habit, however, which largely
compensated for the lack of schooling. But without direction as to what to
read and how to study, I did not get out of reading a tithe of what I might
have done had I known how to read with a purpose, and had the right books. But
books were scarce and expensive.
At Brother George Q. Cannon's suggestion, I studied Pinneo's Grammar. It was
at first a hard, dry subject, but due to my mother's discreet prodding, I
fairly mastered it. I thus got started on the study of English which I
followed as a hobby through life. The study was of incalculable help to me in
my later publishing business as editor of several minor publications, and as a
proof reader and department editor on the "News," and also on the Salt Lake
"Herald" and "Tribune."
George Q. Cannon, of the quorum of the Twelve, was the head of the Deseret News
establishment- situated on the north east corner East and South Temple Streets.
He was also editor-in-chief. In 1870 - March 31- I was formally apprenticed to
him for four years, to learn the printing craft, and was well treated
throughout my apprenticeship, and acquired a good mastery of the art. Brother
Cannon was always kind and considerate, and I esteemed him as a father. He had
in his bearing something in his poise and character, which won confidence and
respect. In my estimation he towered in moral grandeur above his fellows like
a mountain peak above the foothills.
The Sunday Schools were few and far between in my youth, but my interest in
them was kindled by my mother's narrative of her experiences in her native
land. Practically all the schooling mother ever had was in the Sunday School.
When I was about ten years old, one of the sectarian churches sent emissaries
to Utah to regenerate and convert the Mormons. One of their first moves was to
establish Sunday School to reach the youth. On hearing of the project, being
"zeea" to get all the schooling obtainable, I pleaded long and earnestly to get
my parent's permission to attend. They very reluctantly assented. Before the
day came for joining this sectarian school, however, I learned that one of our
own L.D.S. Sunday Schools was being organized in the Fourteenth Ward, and I
identified myself with it. I joined a New Testament class of boys. Alexander
Ledingham was one of my first teachers. Brother Peirce, as I remember, was the
first superintendent, afterwards Thomas Taylor, George J. Taylor, and Henry P.
Richards. I formed during my connection with this Sunday School many life-long
Within two or three years a Sunday School was started in my own ward, the
Sixteenth, which I later joined and became in succession teacher, librarian,
and its first secretary. William J. Newman and Daniel Wolstenholn were the
first superintendents, acting on alternate Sundays. Many of the classes were
also taught alternately by two teachers. Later, Henry Emery, became
superintendent and during his incumbency I was his assistant as well as the
secretary. Later James W. Phippen was superintendent for many years.
When I went to Manassa, Colorado, in the Spring of 1880, I was appointed
superintendent of the Sunday School and also choir leader. On my return to
Salt Lake in December of the same year I became secretary of the Salt Lake
Stake Sunday School Union. President George Q. Cannon was general
superintendent. The Salt Lake Stake then, and for many years after, comprised
the whole of the county of Salt Lake. For nearly forty years I was identified
with the growth and development of this grand institution, watching it grow
from its humble beginning to its present unapproachable magnificence, - the
pride of the Church and the best in the world.
In my youth I was very jealous of the honor of those I loved, and especially of
the Church leaders, and when I met one who treacherously traduced the good name
of Joseph F. Smith, of the quorum of the Twelve, I was active in an open effort
to bring him to book. This occurred in the winter of 1873-4, when the Salt
Lake "Tribune" was heaping bitter abuse upon our leaders and people. In
consequence of my activities in exposing an ineidious traducer of my friend
Apostle Joseph F. Smith, I was charged with "libelously defaming the good name"
of James McKnight, and cited to appear before a special council of High Priests
of the sixteenth Ward. Brother Smith attended the hearing and spoke in my
defense. I came off vindicated, and McKnight soon thereafter dropped out of
view. Brother Smith was a warm personal friend from that time until the day of
Soon after this occurrence, Joseph F. went to England to preside over the
European Mission, and in the summer of 1874 he wrote to President Brigham Young
requesting that I should be sent to him in England to fill a mission.
September second was the day President Young called me to his office. I gladly
accepted the call and began immediate preparation to leave in a week. I had no
money for my fare, but the "News" was owing me one hundred sixty-four dollars
in "cash back pay," but couldn't pay it, so I went out among my friends and
rustled advanced payments on subscriptions and collected all of it in four
On Wednesday, September ninth at six A.M., in company with Elders Jacob Sundel
of Willard City, Henry Eyring, Bishop of St. George, William Greenwood of
American Fork, John Woodhouse of Lehi, Dirk Bockholt of Salt Lake, and Vernee
L. Halliday of Provo, and Sister Harriet Cook Young, wife of President Young,
(who was going to the States on a visit), I left by rail for England on my
first mission. At New York we boarded the steamship "State of Virginia,"
traveling in second cabin. Our fare each from Salt Lake to Glasgow, Scotland
was one hundred twelve dollars and fifty cents, plus four shillings from
Glasgow to Liverpool (one hundred eight miles) where we arrived Monday, at
six-thirty P.M. September 28. We were warmly welcomed by President Joseph F.
Smith and the office force at Forty-two Islington, the mission headquarters.
I was assigned to labor with Elder John Woodhouse in the Leeds conference,
which had been President Smith's first English mission field. The conference
reached form Hall to Halifax in Yorkshire. I spent about eight months here,
traveling alone for the most part- when I was transferred to the Liverpool
conference, with Elder William B. Barton of the Eighteenth Ward, Salt Lake
City, as president. I did little traveling but assisted Brother Barton in
getting the emigrating Saints on shipboard. I had charge of the Liverpool
branch part of the time. Most of my time I spent in the printing office
assisting to getting out the "Millennial Star" and "Journal of Discourses."
Every evening for a whole year, when weather permitted, I took a chair from the
office and went on the great St. George's Square - about one fourth mile
distance - and held open air meeting. An old gentleman, Brother White - a
convert from India - often accompanied me and held my hat, frequently being
only auditor for ten or fifteen minutes. Occasionally I had a visiting Elder
come out and help me. President Smith rescued me from a threatening mob on a
few occasions, though I seldom had trouble, as I was not radical in speech or
In the summer of 1876, I spent some weeks in Flintshire, North Wales, with my
kindred, who treated me very cordially, but cared little to hear talks on the
Gospel restored. I gathered much genealogical data from the church parish
records of Newmarket and St. Asaph, where my father and mother came from; also
from the neighboring parishes of Tremershion, Henllan, Whitford, Llanasa, and
Dyserth. I copied everything recorded of the Parry family, with the object of
doing all possible for the redemption of departed kindred in the Temples, -
which was my mother's life work, begun years previous, aided by her children.
Except for my time, the cost was very trifling. Most of the ministers, who had
charge of the parish records, were very courteous and gentlemanly, kindly
aiding me, and usually listened very courteously to my story of Mormonism in
reply to their questions. They sometimes provided a light lunch when my
researches were lengthy. Only in one parish, that of Henllan, did I encounter
any rebuff. Here the old minister abruptly dismissed me before I finished my
research. The record from 1762 (or '52) remains to be obtained. I also spent
nearly a month on the beautiful Isle of Man, in the Irish Sea, assisting Bishop
Thomas Callister, of Fillmore, Utah, in getting from the parish records,
genealogical data of his progenitors, with satisfactory results.
Wednesday, June 28, 1876, was another red letter day in my career. After
filling a happy and successful mission, I was honorably released to return
home. Having done the best I knew how, from day to day, I felt that my labors
were acceptable, though many times not so well done as I could wish. My want
of education and other limitations were not easy to overcome. But by
observation, study, and patient striving for betterment, and above all by the
help of the Lord, I filled a good mission and gained a rich experience. The
people's indifference to the Gospel message, which I met with everywhere, was
my greatest trial and regret throughout my mission. Without hesitancy I can
say that the past two years have been the happiest and most profitable of my
At three P.M. I left Liverpool for home, on the Guin Line steamship "Wyoming,"
in company with six hundred nineteen emigrating Saints: three hundred
ninety-nine from Scandinavia, one hundred nine from the Swiss and German
Mission, and one hundred eleven from the British Isles, with twenty returning
Elders and three returning Utah visitors. At a meeting in the evening, the
following organization was effected to make our traveling orderly, safe, and
pleasant: Nels C. Flygare president, with Bishop George L. Farrell, John U.
Stucki and Bishop William H. Maughan assistants, Varnee L. Halliday captain of
the guard, and Joseph H. Parry assistant. The company was divided into eleven
wards with a president over each ward; five chaplains were also selected to
have prayers with their charges daily at seven A.M. and nine P.M. Bed time,
ten P.M. Part of the sea trip was very rough.
The returning missionaries had first cabin accommodations, while the Saints
were made as comfortable as possible in the steerage. They were assidulously
looked after by the Elders from the time of sailing until the journey's end,
and all came through without trouble or mishap. We arrived in Salt Lake,
Tuesday, July 18, at 9:35 P.M. and were heartily welcomed by a great concourse
of friends. It was but a short journey of three weeks, as compared with nearly
eight months when my father made the same journey, with sailship, riverboats
and oxteam, twenty-seven years before.
Not finding work at my trade I was employed in President Young's offices,
transcribing genealogical and Baptismal records, as I wrote a pretty good hand.
My old friend, George Reynolds, the President's secretary, found the position
for me. Meantime, on September 4, 1876, I married my mission sweetheart, Miss
Parthenia Kesler, daughter of Bishop Frederick Kesler, of the Sixteenth Ward,
and we started housekeeping.
During the winter of 1876 - 77, I was appointed with others to go out over the
territory and hold meetings to promote the Y.M.M.I. Associations. My first
assignment was to visit and hold meetings in the wards of Summit and Morgan
Stakes. After this, in company with Elder J. Reuben Clark, Jr., of
Grantsville, I visited most of the wards in Davis, Weber and Boxelder Stakes.
Everywhere the movement was enthusiastically received.
My situation in the Church offices brought me in frequent contact with
President Young and leading men in the church, and I enjoyed through life the
acquaintances and the confidence these associations afforded. I learned
particularly to love very dearly our president, and to appreciate his grand and
Apostle Joseph F. Smith was again presiding over the European Mission, and in
July 1877, sent a request for missionaries to labor in Wales. President Young
delegated me to go out and seek some Welsh youths to answer the call, and
suggested that I go with them, but, on account of my recent return from my
first mission, was not insistent, but his son and counselor, John W., insisted,
and set me apart for my second mission, to leave in less than eighteen hours'
notice. The others had but two days' notice. The ones I selected, and
approved by President Young were boyhood chums and neighbors, all splendid,
most excellent and spiritually minded young men - Wm. W. Williams, Walter J.
Lewis and Thomas F. Howells. Each filled a successful and honorable mission.
Apostle Orson Pratt, my wife's grand uncle, was appointed to go to England to
publish the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants in the phonetic or
reformed spelling system, and the Welsh Elders were to get ready to accompany
him on Wednesday, July 18, 1877 - hence the brief time for preparation. The
parting with my bride of but a few months, was a severe trial; she was not well
and feared to be left alone. But I administered to her and blest her, and we
made the best of the trying situation, for we were nearly destitute, trusting
that the kind and merciful Father would protect and preserve her, and supply
her wants until my return. Firm in this faith I left my happy home for my
second mission, resolving to make my labors worthy of and be in keeping with
the sacrifice involved.
At seven A.M. July 18, was our starting hour, and though it was early, many
friends and kindred were there to see us off. President John W. Young and
Apostle George Q. Cannon and others. As we could not afford a Pullman we slept
in the day coaches. Elder Pratt declined a sleeping berth proffered him by the
conductor, as he did not wish to be separated from us boys. We enjoyed his
company very much.
We were hurrying to make a certain boat leaving New York on the next Tuedsay,
missing which we should lose a week in reaching Liverpool. On Sunday noon,
July 22, on approaching Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, our train was stopped and we
had to get out and walk on the tracks into the Grand Union Station, thence to a
hotel, carrying our grips with us. There was a very serious strike on by the
iron workers and the local railway men were striking in sympathy with them. A
few minutes after we passed through the railway station it was fired and
destroyed. Freight cars were broken into and merchandise of every description
was pilfered or destroyed by the throngs of strikers and riff-raff. The strike
affected the Pittsberg terminal of all the roads, and the damage mounted to
Early Monday morning we walked out of town to Lawrenceville, a suburb, and got
there just in time to board a special train on a branch line, and a little
farther along we reached the main line again, where we changed to a fast train
to New York, where we arrived at one A.M. Tuesday. But the steamship we
expected to make postponed its departure for a week - much to our
disappointment and expense. We spent the week at a hotel, sightseeing,
visiting, studying, and writing letters.
We paid $30 a piece for a second cabin passage to Liverpool on the Guion
steamship "Montana," and left Dock 53 at 9:35 A.M., Tuesday, July 31. Our
table fare was very poor and highly unsuited for sea traveling. The boys were
sick most of the way, so when we sighted land on my twenty-second birthday
anniversary, August 8, all were heartily glad the trip was so near ended.
On Thursday, August 9, we reached Queenstown, Ireland, at two A.M. where we
were delayed a couple of hours awaiting the tender to transfer the mail. Then
at the bar of the Mersey River another delay occurred, for the tide to rise.
When opposite New Brighton the regular tender came alongside, and President
Joseph F. Smith and Elder Henry W. Naisbitt came on board and gave us a warm
welcome. We reached "42" Islington, midnight, and enjoyed a fine supper
prepared by Sister Smith. A fine and cheerful letter from my wife awaited my
The boys for Wales stayed here for a few days and we held several outdoor
meetings, on the streets and upon my old stomping grounds - the old St.
George's Hall Square. Elder Pratt's son Lorus, whom we brought with us from
New York, to finish his mission in England, accompanied us on our street
Elders Williams, Lewis, and Howells were appointed direct to Wales, but I was
assigned to the Liverpool conference again, which included North Wales. By
keeping near Liverpool it was designed that I should assist Elder Pratt in the
preparatory work on the phonetic editions of the Book of Mormon and Doctrine
and Covenants, in getting out a type schedule for the type foundry, also
indexing the Doctrine and Covenants. For three weeks I was busy on this work,
and holding open-air meetings in the evenings, whenever weather permitted. I
was assisted in this work by Elders Charles W. Nibley, Lorus Pratt, and others.
On Thursday, August 31, a cablegram came from Salt Lake bearing the sad and
startling news that President Brigham Young passed away two days before at four
P.M., August 29, Salt Lake time, following a very brief illness, (of
appendicitis, which was not at that time known to the medical profession).
On September 3, a cablegram came from the Apostle's quorum in Salt Lake City,
releasing Apostles Pratt and Smith to return home, leaving Elders Charles W.
Nibley and Henry W. Naisbitt in temporary charge of the European Mission.
President Smith was up nearly all night writing letters of instruction,
releasing Elders whose terms were nearly completed, and making appointments.
He appointed me to preside over the Welsh conference, to succeed Elder Samuel
Leigh of Cedar City, who was released to return home, sailing September 19th.
This of course changed the program entirely, and the phonetic publishing plans,
concerning which President Young and Elder Pratt were extremely solicitous,
came to naught. When Elder Pratt came back nearly eighteen months later, it
was decided to print the two books under contemplation in standard English, in
short verses, like the Bible, with ample marginal references and notes.
On Tuesday, September 4, I bade good-by to the friends in Liverpool and took
train at noon for Merthyr Tydvil, South Wales, the conference headquarters,
about one hundred fifty miles. At 6:45 I arrived at Dowlais and from there I
walked two and one half miles down to the conference house in Merthyr and was
made welcome by Brother and Sister Edmund Harman, who kept the "Conference
As soon as the traveling Elders and the retiring President Samuel Leigh came in
we went over the affairs of the conference, which were in fine shape, and
discussed plans for the future.
We laid out the conference into three districts, placing an Elder in each, who
was responsible for its welfare. The Elders, however, for the most part,
traveled alternately in one another's district, while I traveled with the odd
member over the conference. I always deemed it best that the missionaries
should travel in pairs, as the Lord had directed in early days.
I made my initial round of the conference with one of the retiring Elders, John
R. Young of Orderville, Utah - a missionary of long and varied experience and a
member of the United Order in Kane County, southern Utah. I met a warm
reception everywhere and found the people very friendly and hospitable,
earnest, and firm in the faith - many old veterans of forty years standing.
Brother Young was a very genial companion, well equipped in missionary love
from long experience in California, Hawaii, and at home, also as a pioneer and
plainsman. He was but fifteen years old when he was called to his first
Mormonism was an old story in Wales, and the indifference to our advances was
very disheartening, but we planned and carried on a vigorous campaign
throughout the sixteen months following. As the people would not come out to
hear us, we made every conceivable effort to reach out to them. We held
frequent district and general conferences, also gave lectures on "Utah,"
"Mormonism," "Joseph Smith the Prophet", also gave concerts, and held cottage
meetings in out of the way places, etc., all well advertised. As we were thus
kept very busy out in the field all the time, we decided that we could dispense
with the "conference house" or "home," so it was closed. We, however, met once
a month with the conference clerk to get out reports, etc.
FAMINE IN WALES
In the winter of 1877-8 the people of South Wales were in very sore strain,
many in abject want -- dependent upon charity for bread. The iron and steel
mills and the collieries were formerly flourishing industries, employing
hundreds of thousands; the people had work and they lived fairly well, but
never in luxury. But the workers, feeling that they were not getting a due
share of the princely profits of industry, nor accorded a square deal in other
respects, began a long series of strikes for better wages and better working
conditions. Their demands were denied, and the iron and steel works, for which
South Wales was famous, were shut down and left to rust and ruin, without even
a caretaker to keep up appearances.
The Welsh collieries did an equally extensive business in coal in the far and
near markets of the world. Some five hundred collieries were furnishing
employment to many thousands and the people fared well, but lost their heads
and initiated extensive strikes against their employers. These, like the iron
"barons," refused any concessions to the miners, preferring to shut down the
mines, expecting thereby to coerce the workers into unconditional surrender.
At the time referred to there were about twenty collieries running on full
time, a few here and there were working part time. The coal trade was ruined,
while the people were brought to want and real famine through unemployment.
Our people suffered with the others. The more fortunate were making a scant
living, while others were in constant want and destitution, and fed by charity.
Public relief committees were well organized and doing what they could to
succor the destitute whilesoup kitchens were established in the larger towns to
feed the hungry.
On February 5, 1878, my missionary companion Walter J. Lewis, and I visited one
of the large soup kitchens in Merthyr Tyrdvil, where we saw hundreds of ragged
and hungry children given a good meal of excellent soup and bread. The
children were seated around improvised tables - much as the Old Folks are
feasted in Liberty Park each summer. For grace, the little children very
sweetly sand the Doxology, "Praise God from Whom all blessing flow." Many of
the children were barefooted and scantily covered with odds and ends of
clothing, badly worn and tattered.
I wrote letters to the Deseret News and friends graphically describing
conditions in Wales, briefly recounting the plight of our people, and appealing
for help to rescue them from distress. Much interest was awakened among our
people at home, especially among the Welsh, who had friends and relatives in
Wales. Elders Elias Morris (an old-time missionary in Wales- 1865 - 69) and
Samuel L. Evans, of the firm of Morris and Evans, building contractors, Salt
Lake City, undertook on a large scale to raise relief funds. They sponsored
concerts and other entertainments given in nearly all the wards of Salt Lake
City and surrounding towns, during the spring and early summer, to raise funds
for the relief of the Welsh. The nature of the relief decided upon was the
providing of means to get the needy Saints out of Wales and bring them to Zion,
where they would be in a position to help themselves. Enough money was raised
to emigrate nearly all the old time active members of the Church. Unbounded
joy was brought to our people when they learned of the results of the work of
their friends in Utah, and the Elders shared in their happiness. It revived
hope in many a despairing heart. Many had been in the church thirty or forty
years, waiting for deliverance who in all that time had struggled with want and
poverty, unable to save enough to emigrate, but kept the faith and maintained
the Welsh mission as best they could, and now their happy day was at hand!
It then became the pleasure of the Welsh missionaries to get in close touch
with the people, verify their records and present standing, and see that none
of the loyal and worthy was denied the opportunity to go to Zion and escape the
ills of the depression. Nearly one hundred were thus helped.
On Friday, May 24, 1878, I left South Wales to pilot the first company of
migrating Welsh Saints to Liverpool, and got them on board the steamship
"Nevada" which sailed the day following, with a good sized company, in charge
of Elder Thomas Judd, of St. George, Utah, and other returning missionaries.
On the Monday following, the S.S. "Wyoming" arrived in Liverpool from New York
bringing a large company of missionaries, among them were Elders John G. Jones
of Provo, Utah and George R. Emery, a close friend and neighbor from the
Sixteenth Ward, Salt Lake City. These were assigned to labor with me in Wales.
Brother Jones went down to the South to join my three companions downthere, but
George remained with me to spend the summer in North Wales, a labor I had long
contemplated in consonance with the wishes of President Joseph F. Smith,
expressed to me before he went home the September previous.
My co-laborers in the South got the Saints together and put them on the through
train there, and Brother Emery and I met them at the railway station at
Liverpool and put them on board the boat that carried them westward, furnishing
their traveling equipment in the steerage, making them safe and comfortable.
In between sailing dates, Elder Emery and I went over by boat to North Wales,
only fifteen or twenty miles off, and made a vigorous campaign, in town and
village throughout the north, holding well attended meetings on the streets on
nearly every fine day through the summer. I had a strong voice to carry the
air of our favorite hymns, and George put in a fine bass, so we gathered a
crowd pretty promptly when we found a promising location. In Mid - Wales we
met Elders William N. Williams and Walter J. Lewis who had been covering the
south as we had in the north. We had a fine reunion and George and I continued
our way down to the south, and the others went north to go over that ground
again. Wales thus heard more of Mormonism in the summer of 1878 than it had
heard in a generation. George and I read the Book of Mormon through three
times that summer.
When we got through with that season's emigrating activities the Welsh mission
was almost empty, with "very few Saints left." Some months later the Welsh
mission or conference was closed and became a part of the Bristol Conference.
I went to Liverpool to pilot the last company of emigrating Saints for the
season which left Liverpool Saturday, October 19, with eighteen of our Welsh
Saints, making a total of one hundred eighty-six from Wales. Including the
Hirst family from Yorkshire, ninety person had been assisted by the Welsh fund,
a fine showing, and I made a report thereof to Morris and Evans.
ONE YEAR'S WORK IN WALES
Following is a summary of my mission activities for 1878
I walked two thousand six hundred sixty-seven miles; rode by rail or boat one
thousand five hundred twenty-three miles, making a total of four thousand one
hundred ninety miles. I preached at two hundred forty-two public meetings,
including seventy open air meetings, - mostly in North Wales. I wrote one
hundred fifty letters, ninety-four to Utah, besides many local notes,
My mission activities were about on a par with those of my splendid missionary
companions; we made Wales ring from end to end, and let every body know we were
there, and what we were there for. I cannot too highly praise my mission
associates, every one of them, for their constant courtesy, loyalty, zeal, and
MY SOUTHERN STATES MISSION
After a most wonderful experience of nearly seventeen months in the Welsh
Mission, my labors in Wales were ended. We had emigrated a great number of the
older members, but additions by baptisms were gratifying.
At a general conference held at Pontypridd Sunday, January 5, 1879, attended by
about three hundred members and nonmembers, Bishop William Budge, president of
the European Mission, and Apostle Orson Pratt were the principal speakers. I
was sustained as president of the Welsh Mission "until such time" within the
ensuing three or four weeks - as I should be called to assist Elder Pratt in
the Church publishing office in Liverpool," in getting out the new editions of
the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, these being the first additions
in short verses with marginal references. Elder William N. Williams was
sustained as my successor. Some weeks before, Elder George R. Emery had been
transferred to the Manchester Conference and Elder Thomas F. Howells to London,
while Elder Walter J. Lewis was sent to Bristol, thence later to the Liverpool
office in the printing department.
Elder Williams accompanied me during my farewell visits to the Saints and few
remaining branches, during the following three weeks, then I went to Liverpool
to assist Elder Pratt in the publishing department.
As the Church printing plant in Liverpool had no electrotyping or stereotyping
facilities, and in other respects was unprepared to handle so large an
undertaking, it was decided after long investigations and consideration to have
the work done by a large printing plant in London.
This change in program left me free to take another task, so I intimated to
President Budge that if he had no contrary plans he might have me transferred
for the remaining part of my mission call to the Southern States Mission,
presided over by Elder John Morgan, my old friend and college teacher. In this
field I felt that I should get some real old-time missionary experience - and I
was not disappointed.
President Budge was agreeable, and when I wrote President Joseph F. Smith about
it, he consulted President John Taylor - who had just succeeded President Young
- the plan was approved all around and the transfer made. President Budge was
very kind to me, as were all the others in the office. He gave me a very fine
send-off in my letter of transfer, approving most heartily my labors in Wales,
and wishing me continued success in my new field of labor.
On Saturday, February 1, 1879, I boarded the Guion line S.S. "Wyoming," Captain
Henry Gadd, traveling first cabin. President Budge, Elders Charles W. Nibley,
and my former Welsh missionary companion, Walter J. Lewis accompanied me to the
boat landing. The office paid my fare to my new field of labor.
After the two first days of rough weather, - the only time I ever used or
wanted coffee, - the passage was a very pleasant one. I arrived in New York
February 12, called at the Church emigration office, and also visited one or
two church members, then got a second class ticket for Rome, Georgia, for
$21.30, leaving at five P.M. on the thirteenth.
At Washington I stopped over for a day to pay my respects to our esteemed
Delegate in Congress, George Q. Cannon, my old master printer in the Deseret
News. He was glad to see and entertain me, and show me through the Capital.
President Morgan's stirring letters in the Deseret News were usually dated from
"Rome, Georgia," the Mission headquarters. This was the only address I had. I
arrived Sunday, February 16, and began enquiries for Elder Morgan or any Church
members. For two or three hours I wandered about the pretty town of six
thousand inhabitants, but as all public offices and stores were closed I could
get no clue to the whereabouts of my friends, until I met two men who had heard
Elder Morgan preach two years before. They remembered a certain family named
Manning living some seven miles out in the "woodsey" country, where Elder
Morgan might be found. They gave me the general directions to the Wm. R.
Manning home on Beech Creek, which I found after following the rough, muddy,
and tortuous road as directed, but no President there. He was absent on one of
his frequent jaunts into new territory to pen up new mission fields where
inquires gave indications of interest. This time he was working in the South -
west tip of North Carolina. If successful in creating interest he would assign
two or more Elders to carry on and build up a branch.
Brother Manning and family and other members of the little branch received me
very kindly and I soon felt very much at home. I met Elder Ralph Smith from
Logan, Utah, president of the Georgia conference, but who later finished his
mission in England. He was gratified to have a traveling companion for a few
days while I awaited the return of President Morgan.
I spent a little more than three weeks with President Smith visiting and
holding meetings with Saints and friends in north-west Georgia - in Maclemove's
Cove, Haywood Valley, Dirt Town Valley, Cassandra, Lookout Mountain, Pigeon
Mountain, Troutman's Tannery, Beech Creek, and Harris's Tannery. At the
"Cove," on March 11, I parted with Elder Smith after a very pleasant
association - he to go to Alabama to visit Saints, while I remained in Georgia
to await President Morgan's return. Two days later, at Haywood Valley, I met
my old boyhood chum, Elder Andrew S. Johnson, an old associate in both the
Elders' and Seventy's quorums in Salt Lake City. He had been laboring in Polk,
Haralson and Paulding counties, but came up to recuperate his broken health.
We worked together visiting and preaching for three days, then went back to
Beech Creek, about fourteen miles from Heywood Valley, as we learned President
Morgan had returned.
On Sunday morning March 16, I met President Morgan after four weeks of the
busiest and most varied mission work that I ever experienced. He gave me a
most hearty reception, and assigned me to go to Cherokee County, North
Carolina, to carry on this work that he had just begun at Brasstown and
vicinity. He assigned as my companion Elder Thomas S. Higham of Salt Lake
City, a fine young man of twenty-one, just out on his first mission.
In the few days following I spent much of the time with Brother Morgan and
other Elders, and learned to more fully appreciate the fine spirit and
personality of this wonderful missionary leader, who, in grandeur of character,
poise, intelligence and ready wit, has few peers, yet is humble and
approachable as a child. Little wonder that he made friends everywhere in the
South. As a ready and attractive conversationalist, I have seldom met his
equal. In his association with his missionary corps, and in his counsel and
instruction, he was like a father or a big brother.
The week following I went by train to Varnell's Station, forty-nine miles and
thence walked through the woods to the hospitable home of Captain D.H. Elledge
and family, where I met Elder Joseph Standing of Salt Lake City, who had been
here about a year upon his second mission. He was a splendid and well informed
young man, highly esteemed by all. His father was a member of the Monday
evening prayer circle which I attended in my youth. Later I met Elders Charles
W. Hardy and Thomas S. Higham of Salt Lake City, and Edlef B. Edlefsen of
northern Utah, all splendid boys recently from Zion. President Morgan joined
us here prior to his departure in a few days to take a company of Saints to a
new outpost of Zion - to Manassa, a new settlement in Southern Colorado, which
our southern Saints were founding.
At a council meeting March 21, President Morgan gave us his parting counsel and
assigned Elder Edlefsen, our nineteen year old boy missionary, to accompany
Elder Higham and me to North Carolina.
On March 25 my companions and I started for our field of labor, going from
Varnell's Station to Cleveland Tennessee, twenty miles due north. We made a
mistake in not stopping at Cleveland to hold a meeting, but not having hotel
fare we deemed it best to press on to our destination, so we struck out for
Ducktown, forty miles directly east of Cleveland, in the extreme southeast
corner of Tennessee. After traveling about three miles darkness overtook us
and we stopped for a meager supper at twenty-five cents each, but could find no
lodging, so we trudged on and found a camping place in the open brush, building
a fire of readycut firewood in the vain effort to keep warm. We struck out
early and found breakfast for three for forty cents. We got a lift on a
freight wagon at twenty-five cents apiece. Our route was along the Tocoa River
for twenty-eight miles, through a narrow but picturesque gorge between the
mountains. Our supper, lodging and breakfast took the last cent we had, so we
began the last lap of the way to Ducktown, literally without purse or scrip.
We tried to make lunch of parched corn, given us by a Teamster, so we were very
hungry when we reached the little town at two o'clock. We passed through the
place finding it very inhospitable. Ducktown is an old copper smelting and
mining town, but now nearly abandoned. As we were about leaving the place we
felt impressed to try once more and ask at a certain house for entertainment.
Had our coming been the return of long absent sons we should not have fared
better, or given greater welcome. We were given a very good dinner, and spent
the afternoon talking and singing to them and left them some tracts. They
pressed us to stay all night, and we sat up very late talking Mormonism and
singing our favorite hymns. They kept us talking and singing long after dinner
the next day and urged us to visit them again. 'Squire Wm. Butler Nelson was
the old gentleman's name who was so kind to us. He told us that when he saw us
coming to his door, he "guessed" who we were, though he had never seen a Mormon
Elder before. He and his good wife, daughter, and his son J.M. Nelson and
wife, of Nelson's Mills on Shoal Creek, Cherokee County, North Carolina,
(twelve miles distant), are all intelligent kindly people. They urged us to
come again to Ducktown and their son assured us a welcome to Shoal Creek. We
accepted both invitations during the ensuing summer and always had enjoyable
visits, the old 'Squire was ever as glad to see us as if we were his own sons.
In the late afternoon of our second day with the Nelson's, we started for
Persimmon Creek, over the state line in North Carolina. Getting over the
mountain by nightfall we began to seek a place to lodge. Finally after many
refusals, and traversing about twelve miles from Ducktown, we were received
kindly by John N. Craig and family. A number of neighbors came in next morning
and we had a friendly talk with them. We were the first Mormons they had ever
met. Four or five miles farther we came to Nottla River and met some of
President Morgan's new made friends, George Dickey, Wm. L. Webster and 'Squire
Wm. Albert Gray, who received us very cordially. We carried with us a letter
of introduction from President Morgan, who had made a very good impression on
his recent visit. After a couple of days we moved on for Brasstown, about
fourteen miles from Nottla, and about ninty miles from Varnell's station. We
arrived on the last day of March and were very warmly received by the Saints
and by Leander Teems and family. He was the president of the branch, and we
made our headquarters with him. His home was situated on a little stream or
creek in a very small valley surrounded by hills. Close by he had a mill pond,
where he impounded water to make an occasional run on his little saw and grist
Since arriving in America, wherever I had opportunity to meet people on trains,
on the highway, in private homes or anywhere else, I made it a practice to open
conversation with people and indirectly bring on the subject of Mormonism and
the Gospel Message. By discreetly following this course the Elders can do much
in spreading the truth. A chance word will often go far afield like
thistle-down and find lodgment in some fertile ground. We didn't know it at
the time, but this procedure along the Ducktown road and beyond to our
destination, made our coming into North Carolina as widely known throughout the
whole countryside as though we were accompanied by a brass band, stirring up
both friends and foes, as we were made aware almost immediately.
Some weeks after our arrival in Brasstown we learned that our friends - the
enemy - dogged our footsteps from the hour we first crossed the state line;
they knew every move and call we made, and arranged to give us a "public
reception" upon our arrival.
On our first day - Tuesday, April 1st - two committees waited upon us. On
their return from the postoffice, three miles away, Thomas and Edlef were met
by a committee of three who warned them to leave the State. In the evening
Edlef and I went out in the woods to pray, as was our custom, Thomas had gone
to visit a neighbor family. Before going many rods from the house we were
waited upon by a committee of nine armed men, headed by a Methodist minister
named Henry Green, who handed us the following "Resolution:"
"We, the undersigned have decided that we will not put up with doctrines of a
certain class of men called Latter Day Saints, and it is decided that if they
do not get our within twenty-four hours of this date, we will put them out.
Given under our hands and seals this first day of April, 1879."
He would not let us read the signatures appended to the strange document, but
we got the following nine names from our friends who recognized them: - Henry
Green, John Stephen Bell, Henry Green, Jr., Marion M. Webb, John Ditmore,
Jefferson J. Bell, Harrison Hampton, Zebulon Allaway, Robert Coffey, and twelve
others. They had been in caucus all afternoon, they said, getting up this
Asked for a reason for their course, they said: "Well, you men come in here
preaching strange doctrines, the doctrine of laying on of hands for the Gift of
the Holy Ghost, and belief in prophets, apostles, and revelations; we do not
believe these things, and will not put up with them. You are raising such a
disturbance among the people with your doctrines that we hear nothing else but
Mormons and Mormonism in everybody's mouth. We are Christian people and want
to be left alone in peace, and you must leave in the specified time. We give
you this warning for we don't wish to hurt you if you will leave, for leave you
must. This is our unanimous determination and this committee represents three
With the courage of ignorance we were more clam and serene in listening to
their ultimatum than we were in delivering it, and when they got through with
their "say" we turned loose upon them a more vehement Gospel discourse then
they had ever before heard, and we bore earnest testimony to the Divinity of
our message. Whether they liked it or not; we told them whose servitors they
were and warned them of the consequences of the actions.
The professed minister spoke up saying, - "Didn't I tell you they would quote
scripture to prove their stand? They are so learned and well versed. But
gentlemen, we won't stand for it, and you must go; will you?"
By this time we got warmed up and spoke more plainly, declared our Divine call,
and emphatically answered that our duties were "right here; we cannot and will
not leave. We are here on the Lord's errand; - He sent us here, and we will
remain here - the Lord willing - till He releases us; and we trust him."
The men became furious on hearing our replies, and poured out a volley of
profane abuse and left us.
This was but a preliminary skirmish of their proposed program. The gang
scattered and some if its members spent the night and all the following day in
stirring up blind passion and hate, and calling out the people of the whole
countryside to gather at a mass meeting to devise ways and means to drive us
out of the State. The day following, April 3rd, the clans began to gather
early on the sunny hillside overlooking the Teems' homestead, where the Elders
were gathered with several friendly neighbors. The rabble deliberated for
several hours but could come to no conclusion, for the reason that there were a
few present of the better class of people moved by fair play and sounder
judgment, who advised a let alone policy. A delegation from this better
element rode down to the house and informed us how things stood and desired to
learn our views and feelings. This friendly delegation consisted of five men:
A.J. Lloyd, Wm. F. Platt (a justice of the peace), George McClure, George
Zimmerman, and George Sballcup. We answered them as we had answered the
"committee" on the evening of the first, but of course in a more conciliatory
and deferential manner, as these spoke and acted like gentlemen, and we
listened and replied to them as such. We explained our calling and duties in
coming to North Carolina, simply to preach the Gospel in peace; that we were
not there "to break up their churches" or "disrupt the government." We bore a
strong testimony to them; and assured them of our intention to stay and finish
our mission. They returned to the mass meeting, promising to do all in their
power to ward off violence.
There were about fifty men in the crowd, mostly armed, prepared for any
contingency that might crop up. About half of them were against making trouble
for us, but the others carried on like frustrated furies, and would have gone
to any length if unrestrained by the better element, who were inspired by an
Toward evening and choring time, the crowd dispersed, and thankful to our
Father for His care, we were left to pursue our labors in peace and a sense of
security, through the strengthening of our faith.
The affair advertized our advent into the State better than any method we could
adopt. If its purpose had been for publicity and advertizing, nothing else
could have been such a signal success. It made us many warm friends and the
church members more loyal and devoted. During the summer we were entertained
and welcomed at the homes of some of the very men who gathered to pass judgment
upon us on this stressful occasion. They had a "change of heart" and
thereafter treated us kindly. But for the jealous, slandering ministers, I
doubt if we would have had any trouble at all, or any publicity either.
The idea seems so preposterous that three Mormon youths entering into the state
in the peaceful pursuit of preaching the restored gospel should create such a
fuss, and be charged with "disturbing the peace of society," and "designing the
breaking up of their churches." But such was the assumed excuse offered by
these maranders for their efforts to expel us from the state, and we felt amply
justified in refusing to desert our posts of duty. We felt to leave the
outcome in the hands of the Lord, in whom we felt to trust as never before.
We spent the ensuing summer months visiting the people throughout that mountain
country, also in South Carolina, and over the line in Georgia and Tennessee.
Early in June our missionary force was increased to five by the arrival of
Elders Charles W. Hulse and Thomas Lloyd, who left Ogden, Utah, May 20. They
were driven out of Varnell's station, Georgia, where we were two months before,
by a furious mob, (and traveled thence to use "as miners seeking work.") They
were past middle age. We had so many calls and invitations that we could have
used much more help, as the interest in Mormonism grew rapidly. We received
some tracts and books from home, also from President Budge in Liverpool, which
aided greatly in getting over the Gospel message. We literally worked day and
night to develop promising openings, making many friends everywhere.
Elders Joseph Standing and Rudger Clawson came up from their mission field in
Fannin County, Georgia, and we visited them in return.
We baptized a few in the Brasstown branch and ordained some to the priesthood,
thus rekindling threats of mob violence.
We seldom let pass an opportunity to make friends and acquaintances, and
apprize them of our mission and calling. While we were constantly on the go we
labored literally "without purse or scrip," and never lacked for food or
shelter. The people of the South are noted for their hospitality and they
certainly lived up to their reputation in the generous treatment we received.
With very few exceptions they gave us very attentive hearing in public and in
private, and were particularly moved by the story of the Book of Mormon. They
would come miles through the woods, day or night to hear us, and then would
remain two or three hours after meeting to listen to us sing the favorite songs
of Zion. And in our visits they frequently had us copy words of the songs and
teach their children to sing them, with marked success. Except for constant
threats from mobs, we were undisturbed throughout the early summer.
TRAGEDY TURNED ASIDE BY PROVIDENCE
When I was sent to Brasstown, North Carolina, in March 1879, it was understood
that I should labor there until about the middle of July, then make my way down
to Haywood Valley, near Rome, northwest Georgia, attend conference there on
July 25, and at its conclusion I should be released to return home. This would
complete the usual two year mission terms.
I arranged matters to this end and began my farewell meetings and visits about
the first of July, intending to visit several branches on the way to
conference. Two new Elders from Zion, Elder Hulse and Lloyd had recently
arrived to help carry on the work in our far flung field and were paired with
my former companions, Elders Thomas S. Higham and Edlef B. Edlefson, so that
there should be no interruption in mission activities. But on the second of
July I received a letter from President John Morgan written from Salt Lake City
June 21, giving a glowing account of the conditions in the Southern States
Mission, which then had forty missionaries. It was a most heartening letter,
except for the last paragraph, which ran as follows:
"As the time draws near for you to leave the Mission, the more I regret your
departure; still, I suppose you have been away from your family so long that it
would be cruel to say anything; but I feel that you could do so much good by a
little longer stay. But do not consider these thoughts into a desire upon my
part to throw ought in the way of your return home."
Here was a predicament wholly unlooked for. What it portended the Lord only
knew - but a crisis nevertheless. When I came to think it over I felt just as
my president did, and sensed the situation as keenly as he did; but I was
practically on my way, and my family looked for my return in four weeks. Had
President Morgan said "stay" I should not have hesitated a moment, but he left
it to me to decide for myself. Torn between the compulsion of duty and the
almost irresistible love of home and family, it was difficult to arrive at a
decision that would be for the best, and in accord with heaven's will.
Why President Morgan was led to write in such an irresistible manner as he did,
and to post the letter so that it reached me just in time to interrupt my
departure within an hour from Brasstown, are incidents which will be hard to
explain, unless one believes in an overruling providence. I prayed over the
matter for many hours before I decided to remain and put in a little more time
in the grand mission field, finish my work, whatever it was, and forget my
temporary disappointment, which proves to be but an intimation of the way of
God. This decision probably saved me from a martyr's fate, as subsequent events
manifested themselves. I learned by vivid experience the beauty and depth of
meaning of President Wilford Woodruff's favorite hymn:
Good moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour,
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain.
The next few weeks were very eventful ones in my experience as a missionary -
more thrilling than ever dreamed of.
First, - was the sad occurrence of the martyrdom of my friend and fellow
missionary, Joseph Standing, who was slain on July 21, by a mob in Georgia,
while in the discharge of his duties.
Then followed the care of the members of the little branch of the Church at
Brasstown, who were cruelly beaten up and driven from their homes by a cruel
mob at midnight, July 20 - 21.
Afterwards, Sunday night, August 3, I had a close personal encounter with a
mob, at Nottla, and had to submit to the pain and indignity of a thrashing with
Later, in October, I had the joy of piloting the Brasstown refugees to Zion -
to the new settlement of Manassa, Conejos County, in southern Colorado. There
I tarried a week and assisted in the construction of the fine log meeting
house, and was the first to preach therein. Thence I returned home, where I
arrived October 30, 1879, after an absence of twenty-seven months and twelve
days, finding all well and happy.