John D. Lee was a native of Illinois. He joined the Mormon Church in 1837 or 1838 and in 1839 was sent on his first mission to an area that included Tennessee. Off and on for the next five years Elder Lee preached and baptized in Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee.
After the exodus, Lee settled in southern Utah. There he became the center of a tragic event called the Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1857. Though the level of his participation has been hotly debated, before he was executed for the killings, Lee left a book describing his side of the tragedy. This book, Mormonism Unveiled; Or The Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop John D. Lee, published in 1877, claims the Mormon Church was using him as a scapegoat.
A few of the members and missionaries in Tennessee prior to the Massacre ran into opposition from people who had read it. Though it was not described frequently as a source of the problems in Tennessee, it did come up. I have found two examples.
In her journal, Mary Jane Miller wrote that a local man tried to get her family to not listen to the Missionaries by telling them about the horrible things the Mormons did at Mountain Meadows. He claimed to know all about it because he had read John D. Lee's book.
After the Massacre, while transporting the bodies of Gibbs and Berry back to Utah, Elder Robison was confronted on the train by someone who claimed to be related to both David Hinson and someone who died at Mountain Meadows. I have not been able to make an identification of who this person might be, but if David Hinson were related to someone killed at Mountain Meadows, it would go a long way to explaining his motives.
Posted by BruceCrow at 7:00 AM 2 comments Links to this post
Labels: TN Missionaries
In The Doghouse said...
As family legend has it, my 4th great grandfather ran the missionaries from his farm with a shot gun because they "killed his baby sister." This is in reference to the MMM. It is said that the missionaries "shook the dust from their feet" at him. After much research on my part, I believe that she indeed was killed there, one of the young girls who went as a "nannie", but unnamed. I have always been interested in the MMM, but have not really known too much about the one in Tennessee. I love your posts, and have read them all! Keep up the great work!
Friday, May 8, 2009
John Douglas Westbrook
About three months before the Massacre, a young man, John Douglas Westbrook, left for Utah. He was fortunate enough to be a recipient of one of Elder Gibbs final letters. He also gave an interview with the Utah journal in which he told what he knew of those involved in the Massacre. This interview is one of the few sources claiming the leader of the mob, David Hinson, was a Methodist minister. The paper says...
"David Hinson, one of the mobbers who was killed, was a local preacher of the Methodist persuasion, Brother Westbrook thinks, and it may hence be inferred that he was a leader of the mob."
But who was John Douglas Westbrook. Pat Miller helped me with a summary of his life and some very important details.
John Douglas Westbrook was the son of Amos C. Westbrook and Susan Lucetta Nance. John was born on 14 Sep 1860 in Lewis County, Tennessee. His father died of illness, contracted in a northern Civil War prison, when John was only two years old. His mother remarried Azariah Anderson Conder in 1863. Azariah was a brother to William James Conder at whose home the Massacre happened.
It is likely John heard about the LDS Church through mother who joined the LDS church in January 1880. John was baptized by Thomas Merrill on 12 December 1881 at Cane Creek, Tennessee, confirmed on 12 December 1881 by Brigham H. Roberts, and ordained a Priest by John H. Gibbs on 13 September 1883.
Three months prior to the Massacre, John left Cane Creek in May 1884 and moved to Utah. He initially stayed with Elder Gibbs brother-in-law in Utah. It is apparent that Elder Gibbs had made that arrangement. In a letter Elder Gibbs gave John advice to save his money and to beware of those who would try to get him involved in risky business ventures. He also said he would look up John's mother when he was passing through “Obron.”
John lived in Utah for only a short time before he was called to help in the San Luis, Colorado Stake, arriving in La Jara, Colorado on 14 February 1885.
There he was ordained an Elder by S. C. Berthelson on 2 April 1888. He also met Leander Elizabeth Kelley and they were married on 29 April 1892. A Family Group Sheet in the possession of Mrs. Edith W. Hunnicutt has a note about John Douglas Westbrook and Leander Elizabeth Kelly;
Our parents were married for time and eternity by Apostle John Henry Smith, 29 Apr 1892 in Manassa, Conejos Co., Colo. In a letter from Pres. George Albert Smith, he said the marriage and sealing was valid.
John continued strong in the gospel. He was ordained a Seventy by Apostle John Henry Smith on 1 July 1894. He received his Patriarchal Blessing in September 1896 under the hand of Elihu K. Ball.
John kept in contact with the Conders. He sent them photos of the family on at least two occasions. These photos are labeled “James” D Westbrook Family, though this is most likely a mistake since every other record uses “John.” On the left is one of them.
John and his wife eventually had at least 11 children. Their names were:
James Robert (1893), John Douglas (1894), Joseph Albert (1897), Bernice Evelyn (1899), Edith Elizabeth (1901), Jesse Ephriam (1904), Joel Howard(1907), Mary Wanda (1909), Ella Grace (1913), Ernest Ray (1915), and Susan Louise (1918). James Robert died before his first birthday, though the other children all appear to have lived to adulthood.
Another photo was found in the Conder family collection in Lewis County, Tennessee. A better copy of it was given to me by Pat Miller. Based on the number of children in the photo it was probably taken in around 1905. [Both of these photos are published in the Pictoral History of Lewis County.]
John was ordained a High Priest by Erastus Christensen on 7 January 1911.
The last photo I have of the Westbrook family, also from Pat Miller, has an inscription on the back. It says
Albert, Bernice, Jesse, Edith, Howard, Wanda - Frank, Douglas, Grace & Ray are not on this picture.
It was the "Frank" that had me puzzled. The label makes sense if you agree that only the children are named. The four names at the end are those not present. Grace and Ray might not be in the photo because they are not yet born. Douglas would have been the oldest and was absent without explanation.
But Frank was a mystery. He did not appear on the Westbrook family groupsheet. So I looked in the Census and found an "Amos Franklin Westbrook" in the 1900 & 1910 Census living with John and listed as a son, but with an implied birth year of 1887. The fact that he appears in each of the two census records and is named on the back of a photo led me to believe it is not a mistake. Leander Kelley could not have been his mother. Not only had she not yet married John, but she was also only 11 years old in 1887.
The answer was that John Westbrook had prior wife. Knowing their son's name I was able to find her: Juda Elizabeth Samples. John married her in 1886. The Manifesto was in place in 1890, so it is likely they were divorced or she had died prior to his 29 April 1892 marriage to Leander Kelley. The small number of post-Manifesto marriages performed were mostly in Mexico. And although John Henry Smith did direct other apostles to perform these marriages, there is no evidence he did any of them himself. It would be cool if I found one, but I don't think so.
I can find two death dates for Juda Elizabeth Samples. One is a note saying she died before 1909. The other says she died 20th April 1872; a ridiculous date considering her marriage was in 1886. Maybe it was supposed to be 20th April 1892. So what was it? Did she die before John married his second wife? Did she divorce John? or was this a post -Manifesto plural marriage? Anyone out there want to help me clear this up? My guess is an early death. There was only one child, and if this marriage had gone on until 1909, I would expect there to have been more. But I want to lock this up and I don't know where to turn next.
John Douglas Westbrook's death, however, I know about. He died 23 October 1948 in Sanford, Colorado and was buried two days later.
Posted by BruceCrow at 7:00 AM 6 comments Links to this post
Labels: TN Members
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The Missing Newspaper Article that Started it all
While some historians have claimed the Red Hot Address was largely responsible for the anti Mormon feeling in Lewis County in 1884, I believe more credit should be given to a Newspaper article that has since been lost. There are significant differences between the lost article and the Red Hot Address. I have previously reprinted the text of the Red Hot Address . Since I do not have the missing newspaper article I will quote what I do know.
Jack Wells, who confessed to having been in the mob, said “the whole thing was a big mistake.” He went on…
I believe that damn newspaper started the whole thing. Some fellers from the village rode up the creek here letting all read it as could read. And them that couldn't read, they read for them, and got us all excited.
Another man known only as Bill, who was working for his cousin on the field near where Elder Jones was captured, said this about the newspaper article.
But the worst was a nasty newspaper article that was circulated among the people. I reckon you could find copies of that paper around yit (sic). It stirred up the people something terrible, and most of ‘em believed it, but some of us believed it was mostly lies. I never here'd of no women bothered by the Mormons.
W. W. Bean wrote about a conversion in 1895 with Mr. Simpson who lived in Lewis County. He told Bean that…
The fact is much of the prejudice against the Mormons is the result of a vicious newspaper article that was extensively circulated throughout the country. I don't recall where the article was originally printed, but our little country paper at Lawrenceburg copied it and it spread like a forest fire all over the country.
After being asked to tell some of the details included in the article Mr. Simpson went on.
Among other things the article said: ‘The Mormons are after your women, and when they are converted to Mormonism, and an Elder has a woman in the water ready for baptism he stoops over and whispers to her, saying, after you are baptized and become sanctified, you become as much my wife as you are now your husband's, and what-so-ever thou doest ye sinneth not.' I didn't believe the article. And I think it was published with evil design. I had many conversations with the Mormon Missionaries while they were in our county and we even entertained them at our home, and we learned to know the as perfect Christian gentlemen. That contemptible newspaper article was circulated from one family to another, until the whole county seemed agitated over the Mormons. That article was largely responsible for the mobbing of the Mormons. It was sensational and a majority believed it, and the few of us who did not believe it were helpless. We played safe by not expressing our views.
Others used words similar enough to Mr. Simpson to imply they probably had the same source. A storekeep in Mannie Station said…
The Mormons are the best bible preachers we've had around here, and if they'd leave that damn secret sanctification stuff out, and quit telling the women that it don't matter what they do after they are sanctified they can't sin.
Mr. Simpson's description of the newspaper article's content are different from the contents of the Red Hot Address, and so could not be the same document; though the two could have been printed together. I suppose the article may even have been intended as commentary on the Red Hot Address. But even if they were printed together, it was not the contents of the Red Hot Address that appears to have inflamed the local resident, but the text that had been added before it made it to Lewis County, Tennessee.
Regardless, while the newspaper article appears to have made no specific accusations about the Elders working at Cane Creek, the possibility enraged a large number of the local non-Mormons; enough for it to erupt into the violence now known as the Cane Creek Massacre .
[The above quotes come from an account written by W.W. Bean in 1895 about his visit to Lewis County and quotes from those he interviewed there. You can find a copy at the Salt Lake City Church History Library and Archives. Manuscript MS624.]