Tuesday, October 13, 2009

History of the Southern States Mission, Part 30: Out of Jail and Catawba Members of the Church

On the 6th of July some of the brethren of the Georgia Conference met at Haywood Valley with the President of the Mission and had an enjoyable time in their council meetings.

The case of the Elders arrested in Carter county was taken up on the 13th by the circuit court for that county. After a number of witnesses had been examined, Judge Newton Hacker delivered a fair and impartial charge to the Grand Jury. In it he said the anti-polygamy law was unconstitutional in part, at least; the rest of it he declared of doubtful propriety. He cautioned the jury to beware how they dealt with the privilege of free speech, which the entire genius of the government was to protect. It was most decidedly a just opinion of such an unconstitutional law, a law that ignored the sacred rights of citizens of a government whose groundwork was designed to protect one person as much as another in free speech.

The attorney for the missionaries, Jacob Montgomery Thornburgh.

An indictment was found against Elder Christensen, but the charge against Elder Garner was ignored. Attorney J.M. Thornburg [sic] prepared a demurrer to the indictment, which was placed on record, but overruled by the judge. The case was continued over till the November term of court. The brethren returned to their fields of labor.

One of the results of this inhuman and unconstitutional prosecution was to make many friends for the Elders and to extend their acquaintance indefinitely. Mr. William Green, a prominent man of East Tennessee, went fifty miles to attend the proceedings and defend the Elders in their distresses. His influence was felt for good among many of the people of the whole country.

President Morgan visited the Elders of East Tennessee in Union county on the 26th. Much good was done there, a branch being organized and the work being more thoroughly grounded. In other parts of Eastern Tennessee the work was reported as progressing very favorably.

About the first of August Elders Christensen and Garner returned home. Soon after this President Morgan visited Elizabethton and had an examination made of the court records; as a result it was found that the clerk of the court had made a mistake in recording the bond the Elders had been released on, and instead of it being $500 it was only $5. This error, of course, only made Elder Christensen liable to the sum of $5 and practically freed him from the clutches of the unjust law.

September passed by with nothing of importance happening. In October, conference was held with the South Carolina Elders. The meetings on this occasion were held in Spartanburg county, near Paris, at the home of a Lamanite brother named Patterson. Two Catawba brethren, Pinckney Head and Alonzo Canty, were called to go to the Cherokees on a mission, the latter living in Clay and Cherokee counties, North Carolina.

[At least one of Alonzo Canty's descendants seemed to be a member of the church, according to a letter to her from Jeff Johnson of the church historical department (1981), as seen in the link for Alonzo Canty. Here is an interesting missionary journal mentioning some of the people in this area. I've wondered about this mission ever since seeing a mention of it from someone in John Morgan's wikipedia entry. See a mention of the missionary efforts in this article about the Catawba tribe and a note in another article that, "In the 1880s, Mormon missionaries visited the nation, and by the 1920s virtually all the Catawba had converted to Mormonism. They remain largely Mormon today."]

The next event of any importance was the conference of the Elders of East Tennessee near Baird's mill. At this meeting much good was done owing to the number of people present. This was in November. The year closed without anything else of note happening. Although not so many baptisms had been performed for that year, still, considering the odds that were against the Elders, a vast amount of good was done. During the year much literature was printed and circulated among the people, a fact worthy of much consideration, as much prejudice was overthrown by it.

Latter Day Saints Southern Star, Vol. 1, No. 34, Chattanooga, Tenn. Saturday, July 22, 1899, p 265-66. Copyright free image of Thornburgh from wikipedia. Image of the Catawba from wikipedia.

1 comment:

  1. I am one of the descendants of the two Catawba missionaries mentioned. John Alonzo Canty was my grandfather, he was called as first Branch President of the Rock Hill or Catawba Branch. The other missionary Pinkney Head was my great uncle. My great grandfather, his father in Law, was James Patterson, who later was called for the same general areas in 1884. They left the area in 1887 bound for Manassa, but settled in Sanford, Colorado,and my family remained in the Church, my paternal uncle William F Canty was the first Lamanite Patriarch called in the Church. I have missionary journals of 2 of the missionaries there. I have written 3 books on Catawba genealogy.