Monday, May 11, 2009

Looking Up a Couple of Southern States Missionaries

Recently, someone googled the Southern States Mission and the name of the missionary who converted his ancestors and ended up at this blog wanting to know more about the missionaries.

The names of the missionaries were "W. J. Packer" and "Walter Scoot" and the question was about their service in Floyd County, Georgia. An elder W.J. Packer was mentioned in one of the installments of the Southern States Mission history as found in the Southern Star.

I first took another look at the Southern Star, both volumes, but did not find any mention of either missionary. I assumed that the name of the second missionary was Walter Scott, probably named by his parents after the Scottish novelist and poet. But I searched for both "Scott" and "Scoot."

There were no more references to Elders Packer or Scott in either Volume 1 or Volume 2 of the Southern Star.

The next stop was at the Millennial Star, the publication of the British Mission. Bound editions were published each year and are available in their entirety at Google Books. Contents include conference reports, sermons, obituaries, snippets of local church history, and what we are interested in: mission calls for the entire church.

The Millennial Star from 1880 reports that Wm. J. Packer of Brigham City, Utah, was called to the Southern States Mission. It also reports that Walter Scott of Provo, Utah, was called to serve in the Southern States Mission. (The church called thirty other missionaries at the same time as Elder Packer, including Matthias F. Cowley. Other missionaries called at the same time as Elder Scott include Albert Thurber, George Bean, William Bean, Joseph Keeler, Henry Boyle, George Pitkin, Peter Nebeker, William Clark, and Nicholas H. Groesbeck.)

A quick look at Rootsweb shows that William Jefferson Packer was born in 1848 in Salt Lake City and died in 1905 in Safford, Arizona. He was a great-uncle of President Boyd K. Packer.

Rootsweb shows that Walter Scott was born in 1853 in Provo, Utah, and died in 1914 in Provo. He had just married a second wife when he was called to the Southern States Mission.

I haven't been able to find a biography of either of these two missionaries online. In fact, googling their names brings me back to this blog. But they are just a representative sample of the hundreds of missionaries that served during John Morgan's tenure. Statistical information and a general description of their service is available in the Seferovich thesis on the Southern States Mission. Neither Packer nor Scott have diaries available at BYU's collection of Mormon Missionary Diaries, but several other missionaries of that era do. (See tomorrow's post.)

It is curious that Packer died at age 56 and Scott at 60. Did their service in the Southern States shorten their lifespan as it seemed to do for John Morgan, who died at the age of 52?

Photo of Floyd County Marker from Floyd County is the location of Rome, Georgia, John Morgan's early mission headquarters.

1 comment:

  1. Nice stuff. There is an index of all the missionaries called to serve from the LDS Church until 1971 (Missionary Record Index 1830-1971). In includes a small amount of personal info such as where they were from, plus where and when they served. Unfortunately it is not online. It is on 24 roles of microfilm at the Family History Library. My local library does not have a copy but it can be ordered. The other problem is that it is not indexed. It is alphabetized, so if you know the name you can find who you want.