Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Challenge to 'Out of Africa' Theory

110,000-year-old Chinese Fossil Poses Challenge to 'Out of Africa' Theory

Dating back to 110,000 years ago, a human fossil found in China could provide evidence disputing the theory that all modern day humans originally came from Africa.
Last week, China’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropologyannounced the discovery. Comprising of a human jawbone fragment, the fossil was found a year ago in southern China’s Guangxi pronvince.
Jin Changzhu, a researcher with the institute, said the find was especially important since very few human fossils from this evolutionary period have been found in China. He added that the jawbone is that of an early modern human, but it also bears the traits of our more primitive ancestors.
 “The chin protrudes out like a Homo sapiens would, but the jaw also slopes in way like that of a Homo erectus,” he said.

Not Out of Africa Theory

Wu Xinzhi, a professor with the institute, said he believes the discovery presents evidence to challenge the “Out of Africa” hypothesis.
This theory, which is more commonly held among scientists, argues that modern day humans directly descended from ancestors on the African continent. They then started to migrate across the globe around 60,000 years ago and replaced the more primitive humans. 
“If this is true, then in China, we should not be able to find a mandible (jaw) of a fossil with modern features older than 60,000 years,” Wu said. “But this Guangxi mandible is 110,000 years old. This means that this ‘Out of Africa’ theory is not true, at least not for China.”
Instead, Wu said the fossil find lends support to another theory called the multiregional hypothesis. Under this scenario, humanity’s ancestors from Africa spread themselves across other continents by interbreeding with other primitive humans and evolving regionally. The blend of modern human and Homo erectuscharacteristics of the fossil found in China provides evidence for this Wu said.
But some other scientists from across the world are more skeptical about the discovery and its conclusions.

Opponents to the Theory

Chris Stringer, a professor at the Natural History Museum in London, is a leading proponent of the Out of Africa theory. He welcomed the find, but said the fossil was unfortunately too incomplete to accurately determine whether it was truly a Homo sapiens. He added that from what had been discovered, the fossil could also belong to that of a Neanderthal or other primitive human. 
“If more complete material of this age is eventually found to match the (Homo) sapiens anatomical pattern this would at minimum suggest a more complex Out of Africa scenario,” Stringer said.
Tim White, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley who also studies human evolution, said he was doubtful of the claims being made about the fossil find. He added that the scientific paper published about the fossil find has so far been inadequate in convincing him.
"The evidence is extremely limited at this time, and the claims are extraordinary," White said. "Extraordinary claims deserve extraordinary evidence."
Wu said he has read the different rebuttals to the recent find, and does not expect his conclusions to convince everyone.
In the meantime China’s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology is hoping to find more discoveries in Guangxi's Mulan Mountain, where the fossil was originally found. The excavated jawbone is currently in Beijing, where more study is being done on it.
“We welcome all scholars to come and see the fossil,” Wu said. “And we’d like to get their input on it.”

Monday, August 29, 2011

Minutes of The South Fork of (Old) Roaring River Baptist Church, Wilkes Co., N.C

Going Home for History, Wilkes County, North Carolina

Minutes of The South Fork of (Old) Roaring River Baptist Church, Wilkes Co., N.C

Minutes of The South Fork of (Old) Roaring River Baptist Church, Wilkes Co., N.C. copied from original records by Mr. & Mrs. Stratton O. Hammon, Louisville, Ky. (All spelling is copied as it was. (Brackets) are our own addition.(First pages are missing).
Satterday ye 13th. day of August (1785). The Church meeting in order Bro. John Adams and Sister Ann Adams joined the church by experience and Baptism. Also David Clark was excummunicated. Also Sister Turner joind by experience.
Satterday the 9th. of September. The church seting in order Brother James Bradberry joind the church by experience and baptism. Also Bro. Charles Cates infor(me)d of his management concerning his son and wife parting. Also the church ordered the clark to write to Bro. Gibson Maner to come & satisfie the church of his behavour concerning his Daughter and her husband parting, and other alegations. The church deligated Bro. Wm. Hamon (Wm.Hammon Minister), Bro. Andrue Canaway and Bro. Thomas Laurence to go to the Association the second Satterday in October, at Prices meeting House on black water. Also Bro. Robert King & Bro. Wm. Cornelus was deligated to go to see Bro. Tollaver & to site him to appear before the church to answer Allegations that was against him.
October ye 8th. 1785. The church seting in order Bro. Andrew Baker inquired of the church whether he was a blessing to the church or whether he hindered a blessing, answered he did not hinder a blessing. Also the church deligated Bro. Wm. Clark, Bro. Andrew Canady, Bro. Amb. (Ambrose Hammon, son of William) and Bro. Thos. Johnson to go to the conference at Bro. Martains church the 21th of this instant. Also the clark was ordered to write a latter for the church.
Saterday ye I (torn) of January 1786. The church seting in order Sister Self joind the church by experience. Also Sister Mary Gambil joind by experience. Also there was a despute between Bro. Wm. Clark & Bro. Thos. Johnson & Sir Elley Johnson. Bro. Clark laid over til next meeting. Also the church deligated Bro. Rose & Bro. Cornelus to site Bro. Charles Cates to appear at our next church metting to answer some complaints.
Saterday the 11th of February. The church seting in order thought it prudent to deny John Tolaver felloship for evil zepors such as drunkness & etc.
Friday the 17th. The church seting in order recieve Bro. Wm. Clark into fellowship.
Satterday the 17th March. The Church seting in order. Part of the church calls for a constitution on one side of the church & the church concluded send for Bro. John Cleveland (See battle of Kings Mt.), Bro. George McNeal & Bro. Wm. Pettey as a presbetary to look into the matter.
Satterday the 18th March. The Church seting in order. Bro. Self joind by experience, also Bro. Joel Stamper, also Sister Lewes, also Sister Alexander, also silence Bro. Wm. Cark from preaching, also Sister Whitley joind.
Satterday the 8th of april. The members that had joind by experience was Baptized. Also Bro. John Medley joind by letter, also Bro. John Turner joind by letter, also the Church gave up for a costitution in Gambils Hollow if on examination they ware found ripe for constitution.
Sunday ye 10th. The church in Gambils Hollow was constituted.
Satterday ye 12th. The Church seting in order. Bro. Andrew Baker promises the church to serve it as a Transiant Minister and the church receivd him as such. Also Bro. Andrew Canaday applyd for admission & was granted. Also Sister Sary hamon (Sarah Hammon wife of Wm. Hammon) applyd for a dismision and it was granted. Admitted last meeting, the prisbetery refused to work till they sot Bro. Clark a side.
Satterday ye 10th of June. The church seting in order fell to work about more elders, sot apart Bro. Wm. Cornelus, Bro. Thomas Johnson, Bro. John Turner & Bro. John Hamon (son of Ambrose) to walk before the church till next church meeting as also if a member should fail coming to a church meting and doth not send a lawful excuse nor come to the next church meting nor sends, is to be reproved.
Satterday the 8th of July. The church seting in order undertook to reprove Bro. King for selling corn at 20 pr. barrell for which he agreed he not do the like again, he also agread to pay the man 5 lbs. of his back; as also information was made to the church concerning Bro. Rose being guilty of a transgression and he was laid over till next church meeting.
Satterday the 12th of August. The church seting in order. Bro. Rose was laid over longer for Bro. Ambrose Hamon to talk with him in private, as also Bro. Wm. Clark was recieved into fellowship with his gift as far as exortation.
Satterday the 10th of September. The church seting in order, deligated Bro. Robert King, Bro. Thomas Larence, Bro. Ambrose Hamon and Bro. Thomas Johnson to attend the Association at Bro. Petteys Meeting House.
Satterday the (torn) of November. The church seting in order, infirmation being made to the church concerning Bro. John Turner bying of a bull that he knew to be stolen. Laid over till next day, met the next day church well sattisfid. As also Bro. John Han & his wife put themselves under watch care of the church.
The second Satterday in Janewary, 1787. The church seting in order thought proper to deny Mary Hamon (daughter of Ambrose) fellowship after refusing to hear the church. Bro. Rose had been of a long time under suespension not appearing his wif informd the church that he was sick was laid over till next meting. Bro. John Lucus with his wife applyd to the church for dismission, but being chargd with a transgression the church refused to give him the letter he pleading not guilty requested of the church to appoint diligates to meet him the Wensday next to try him by witnesses. The church appointed Bro. Cornelus, Bro. Adams, Bro. Larrance & Bro. Ambrose Hamon who met and upon examination found them guilty at which time Bro. Self and his wife applyd for dimission Bro. Self being under transgression was denyd. Sister Self obtaind a letter.
The second Satterday of February. The church seting in order thought proper to deny Emanuel Rose fellowship, as also Bro. John Hamon made acknowledgement to the church concerning going to law without the concent of the church - the church gave him the right hand of fellowship.
Satterday the 10th of March. The church seing in order Bro. John Han & John Turner acknowledged to the church that they ware both under trangression. Bro. Turner for going to a shooting match and Bro. Han for going to a weding, and the church receavd them both into felloship, as also Thomas Colyar, late a member of our church was accused & found guilty of frequenting or following disorderly company & telling willful lye before the church so the great shame of his professing the stumbling of them without & the troubling of heart (/) we therefore in vindication of the cause of God in obedience to his Holy word in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ declare him to be out of our fellowship till he shall be restored by the true & evengilical repentance. As also Bro. Thomas Alin applyd for dismission and it was granted by the church.
Sunday the 25th. Part of the church seting in order Bro. John Holbrook & Thomas Colyar made an acknowledgement to the church, Bro. Holbrook for suffering dancing in his house & Thomas Coylar telling a lye (in) the church received their recantation but laid them over till meeting in course.
Satterday the 17th (?) of April. The church seting in order concluded to set apart the second Satterday in May for fastin & pryer to look into the afare of an elder & decon & to ordain them if found in order, as also deligated Bro. Thomas Larrence, Bro. Robert King & Bro. Thomas Johnson to attend the Assosiation in May at Bro. Bennits Meeting house. Also Bro. John and Sister Rebecca his wif joined the church by letter. Also Sister Mary Hamon made an acknowledgement before the church of her transgressions & the church received her into fellowship. Also Sister Henneritter Adams joind by experience and babtism.
Satterday the 12th. The church seting in order fell to work concerning an elder & decon. Bro. Johnson was mentioned in the way of an elder and Bro. Cornelus as decond. The church did not look at Bro. Johnson as an elder and some part looked at Bro. Cornelus as a decond and some as an elder, & so it was laid over.
Satterday the 9th of June. The church seting in order. Bro. John Tolefarer came and made a recantation and the church received him into fellowship with his gift, also the Hallow church sent a protition for help to ordain, and church gave Bro. Tollefarer to attend as a help.
Satterday ye 12th of July. The church seting in order Bro. Thomas Morgan & Sister Morgan joind by letter also Bro. James Caudill joind by experience.
Satterday ye 11th of August. The church seting in order Bro. Samuel Stansel came in and made a recantation to the church and the church received into their fellowship and under their watchcare as he was before. Also the church delt with Bro. James Caudill for saying he red three chapters by head and that he thought he could read the Testament through without the Book, and that he retaind that notion for near a twelve months, the church could not disprove, & so concluded to lay it over and look to the Lord and try to get better satisfid.
Satterday the 8th of September. The church seting in order chose deligates go to the sosiation at Bro. Martins church the first Friday in November, to wit, Bro. Thomas Larrence, Bro. Ambrose Hamon, Bro. John Turner. As also the church recevd Bro. James Caudle into fellowship and he was baptised.
Satterday the 12th of December. The church seting in order Bro. Thomas Johnson inquired of the church whether he was in their fellowship answered he was, also Sister Huldey Wyatt joind the church by experience.
Satterday ye 12th of January, 1788. The church seting in order took it into consideration concerning our former sister Medley but laid it over till next meting.
Sateerday ye 12th of April. The church setting in order thought proper to deny Chas. Cate fellowship for the sin of drunkenness, as also Bro. Samuel Stansel is under sensure for his bahavior concerning his sons going away. As also Sister Huldrah Wyatt was babtized as also Bro. Thomas Larrance and Bro. Ambrose Hamon was deligated to go to see Bro. Tolafare concerning some reports that we hear of him.
Satterday the 10th of May. The church seting in order. Bro. Larrance informd the church that neither of them went to Bro. Tolaferee but wrote to him to come to meeting but he disappeared so the church concluded to wait another oppertunity. The church thought proper to deny Samuel Stansel fellowship. The church deligated Bro. Thomas Johnson and Bro. John Turner to go to the assosiation in June, the church deligated the same two brethren to go see Bro. Morgan concerning drinking too much and fighting.
Friday the 23th May. The church setting in order. Bro. Morgan (OWEN Co. Ky.) came in with humble acknowledgement and the church received him into fellowship.
Thursday 13th of June. The church seting in order. Received a letter from Bro. Talefarrer to meet him at Mitchels River meeting house on the fourth Satterday of June--Bro. King, Bro. Larrance, Bro. Bradberry & Bro. Harn was appointed to write a letter to the association.
Satterday ye 12th June. The church seting in order. Received Sister Medley into fellowship and gave the clark orders to write her a dismission. The church thought it proper for sister Hulda Wyatt to go the Hollow Church to settle an affair with Bro. Rise.
Satterday the 13th of July. The church setting in order examined Sister Huldah Wyatt concerning the dispute between she & Bro. Rise and the church thought her clear. Also Sister Mary Caudill joind by experience & Baptism. NB The deligates met at Mitchells River according to appointment and they gave Bro. Talefarrer to that church as a transgressing member.
Satterday 9th (?) of December the church setting in order. Took it into consideration concerning Bro. Taleferrer & the church thought that he still belong'd to this church - he was not mentioned in the constitution at Mitchels River -- as also Bro. Joseph Hamon applied for a dismission for himself and his wife, and it was granted.
Satterday the 12th of January 1789. The church seting in order. m Bro. Talefarrer came with a recantation and the church received him. Also Sister Peggey Amburga & Bro. John Sparks joind by experience and baptism.
The second Satterday in February. The church seting in order. Bro. Ambrose appld for a dismission for him self and his wife and it was granted.
The second Satterday in April. The church seting in order took it into consideration concerning an elder and they sot forward Bro. John Prophet, Bro. Thomas Johnson, and Bro. John Turner to act as Elders and recommended to each other look to the Lord for his teachings concerning the matter.
Second Satterday in May. The church setting in order. Bro. Thomas Morgan came with a recantation and the church received him.
Second Satterday in June. The church met and fell to work about an Eider but was divided and so put it off till another oppertunity.
Satterday ye 11th of July. The church setting in order under took to talk about Elders & the church seemd to be of woneness for Bro. Prophet, Bro. Johnson & Bro. Turner to be elders. Also Bro. Taliafarro applid for dismission & it was granted. Also Bro. John Cate & Sister Susanna Harriss joind by experience and Baptism.
A cald meeting Satterday the 1st of August. Charles Cate accuse Bro. Thomas Johnson with telling a lye but it was proved otherwise. Bro. Larrance, Bro. Turner, Bro. Johnson and Bro. Hand was deligated to go & talk with Sister King.
Satterday ye 13th of March 1790. The church setting in order Bro. John Prophet applyd for a dismission for him self & his wife & it was granted. Also the church took under their consideration concerning officers in the church and sot apart Bro. Thomas Johnson & Bro. John Hamon to walk before church. Also a report came to the church that Bro. John Talifarro had lately been gilty of the sin of drunkness -- the church deligated Bro. Thomas Larrance and Bro. John Hamon to go see into it.
Satterday the 8th (?) of May. The church met and seemd to be in love & had some talk about a Deacon but laid it over till next meeting.
Satterday the 10th of July. The church setting in order had some tolk of a decond but laid it over till next meeting to get the church more together. The church deligated three members to go to the Association at Eatons meeting house on Dutchman Creek the last Satterday in August to wit Bro. Thomas Larrance, Bro. John Sparks and John Hamon. The church protitiond Bro. Wm. Hamon (Wh. grandfather of John above) to attend our monthly meetings as a transant minister and he consented if his church would give him up & the church deligated Bro. Thomas Larrance & Bro. Thomas Johnson to go to the Hollow Meeting to protition the church for Bro. Hamon to attend our meetings. Our next meeting is to be a Sacrement meeting.
Satterday the 12th of August the church setting in order Bro. Larrance & Bro. Johnson acquainted the church that the Hollow Church gave up Bro. Hamon to attend our munthly meetings. So the church fell to work about a Deacon sot Bro. Sparks forward to do the work of a Deacon. Bro. Christerpher Maner Joind the church by letter. The church thought proper to deny James & Mary Caudill fellowship for telling of big storys such as the church could not credit and then refusing to hear the church. Also Sister Rachel Tomson applyd to the church for dismission & it was granted. Also Bro. Gipson Maner & Sister Sarah his wif joind the church by letter.
Satterday ye 11th of September. The church met and seemd to be in love and Bro. John Han (d) made application for a dismission him self & his wife and it was granted. Bro. Gipson Maner reported that Bro. Christorfer Maner had transgressd in striping (stopping) to fight - the church laid it over until Bro. Gipson to labour with him and to site him to the next meeting.
Sunday ye 12th. The church got together and indevoured to take into consideration why or what could be the cause of reason that there is no more growth in the church. Some thought the fault was in the constitution & others couldnt be satisfid about it, so the church was divided and concluded to lay it over til next meeting & look to the Lord for his teachings. Also the church thought proper to deny Huldrah Wyatt fellowship for going away out of order & continueing in the same.
Satterday (?) of November. The church setting in order. Bro. Christerfer Maner came in with a repentance & the church receivd him. Also the church Receivd Bro. Evins as a transiand minister.
Satterday 11th of December. The church setting in order. Bro. James Maner & Sister Sarah Pruit joind by experience.
Satterday ye 8th (?) of January 1791. The church seting in order chose Bro. Larrance for a moderater.
Satterday ye 11th of February. The church met & seemd to be in love & Sister Agnes Holbrook (Owen Co. Ky. Holbrooks) joind by experence & the next day was baptisd & sister Sarah Preuit and Bro. James Maner also.
March ye 11th. The church met & seemd to be in love.
Satterday ye 9th of April. The church setting in order chose deligates to attend the assosiation at Brier Creek meeting house to wit Bro. Thomas Larrance, Bro. John Sparks & Bro. John Turner.
Satterday ye 12th of May. The church seting in order Bro. Ambrose Hamon and Sister Ann Hamon his wife joind by letter. Also had some tolk about a Decond but was some what divided & so concluded to lay it over till next meeting and look to the Lord for his teachings.
Satterday ye 11th of June. The church setting in order - a disput arose between Bro. Thomas Johnson, Sister Ennritter (Henrietta) Adams (Adams settled near Whitesburg, Ky.) & the church chose three of the brethren to take them aside & labour with them, who seemd to bring them together. Also some disscarse about Bro. John Talifaro the church holds him a transgressor. Question wheather Bro. Ambrose Hamon 'Should be receivd in his former stand which was an Elder -- answer yes. Also the church chose Bro. John Sparks as a Deacon who was ordained. Sister Rachel Tomson brought back her letter & gave it to the church. Also Bro. John Talifaros letter brought at the request of the church. Also Sister Sarah Sparks Baptisd. Also the church told Bro. (?)irns to do the work of a minister.
Satterday ye 9th July. The church setting in order. Bro. Ambrose Hamon report to the church that the dispute that was between Bro. Thomas Johnson and Sister Ennritter Adams last meeting was brook out again, and he went and got Bro. Thomas Larrance to go with him to labor with them & after going several times got them together and they gave each other the right hand of fellowship. Bro. Thomas Larrance informd the church that in the time of labouring with Bro. Johnson he chargd the church with receiving Sister Adams over his head & the ministers and Deacons heads.
for which the church allowd Bro. Johnson to be a transgressor. Also Bro. Christopher Maner came in with a recantation for thretning to kill a man but seemd to have the same ambition & say that he should do it if it was to doe again for which the church allows him to be in transgression.
The second Satterday in August. The church setting in order Bro. Thomas ~on came in with a recantation & the church received him. Also Bro. John Sparks & Bro. Gibson Maner made an adknowledgement of a tramsgression they were guilty of by gameing & the church receivd them. Also Bro. John Turner protitioned the church for liberty to exercise his gift where he thinks the Lord calls him & it was granted.
Satterday ye 11th of September. The church setting in order Bro. Christerpher Maner came in with a repentance & the church receivd him, and Bro. John Lucas & his wife Sister Mary Lucas joind by a recantation & a recommendation and Bro. James Bradberry applyd for a dismission & it was granted. Also Bro. Samuel Stansell applyd for a dismission & it was granted -- and Bro. Cate made a recantation to the church and requested a recommendation to his church and it was granted. Also the church deligated Bro. John Sparks, Bro. Thomas Johnson & Gibson Maner to attend the association at Bro. Coffey meeting house on the lower creek of Cotauba (Catawba) on the fourth Friday October.
Ye second Satter the church setting a guary wheather the church should invite Bro. Morgan to preach to us, ansered yes.
Satterday ye 12th of November. The church setting in order. Sister Levised Turner applyd for a dismission & it was granted. Also Bro. John Holbrook joind by letter the church sot him forward to doe the work of a Dacon. Quary wheater it be lawfull for a member of the church to follow trading for a lively hood & would not work the lazy man condemd - the trading man unsettled.
The fourth Sunday in November - at a cald meeting the church deligated Bro. Thos. Larrance & Bro. Thomas Johnson to attend the association at Eatons meeting house. Also recald the former proceedance concerning Charles Cate. Also a quary put to the church wheather it was the mind to administer the Ordanances answerd yes, and it seemd to be the mind of the church that Bro. John Turner should be the man to doe that work.
Satterday ye 10th (of November, added later). The church setting in order tolk about Bro. Turner being put in order for administering the Ordanances but laid over till the fourth Sunday in this month and look to the Lord for his teachings and that day is sot apart for fasting & praying on the Occasion.
Sunday ye 25th of December the church setting in order met according to appointment & all seemd to be in love but concluded to lay the work over till February meeting and be looking to the Lord for his teachings. Also John Lucas applyd for a dismission for him self & his wife & it was granted.
Satterday ye 14th of January 1792, The church setting in order Bro. John Adams made acknowledgement that he had transgrest in getting drunk and the church receivd his recantation. Also Bro Spencer Adams & his wife Sister Ann Adams joind by letter.
Satterday ye 11th of February. The church setting in order had some tolk about a Dacond but laid it over till next meeting and be looking to the Lord for his teachings.
Satterday ye 10th of March. The church setting in order Bro. Christepher Maner came in with a recantation concerning drinking more that he aught & the church receivd his recantation, Also the church deligated Bro. Timothy Butterey and Bro. John Holbrook Jur. to go to see Bro. Evins to know the reason why he dose not come to see us. Also Bro. Frances Runnels to labour with Bro. Christerpher Maner for renting out a place that belongd to Bro. Runnels & then stressing for the rent & refusing to pay up Bro. Runnels the money that he recievd for the rent and he gould not (g)ain him and he got help but could not gain him still and then agreed to choose two brethern out of each church and let them settle it and Bro. Maner chose Bro. Sparks & Bro. Spencer Adams.
Satterday ye 12th of April. The church setting in order had some (talk) about a minister and concluded to lay it over till next meeting & look to the Lord for his teachings & hold a fast to the Lord on the second Satterday in May.
May ye 13th. The church setting in order, Sister (blot) Adams was receivd by experrience & was Baptized. Also Sister Anney Roy was Baptized.
Satterday ye 9th of June. The church sitting in order had some tolk about Christopher Maner & Bro. Runnels wheather he should pay back the money he receivd of Sebolt for rent. The church was some what divided and concluded to drop it at present and bare with each other. As also Bro. Semeon Williams Sister Mary his wife joind by letter.
Satterday ye 12th of July. The church setting in order had some tolk about Bro. Turner being ordaind by Elder but concluded to lay it over till next meeting. Also chose deligated three members to attend the the association the fourth Satterday in August at the deed foard meeting house.
December ye 8th 1792. The church setting in order Bro. John Holbrook came in with a recantation concerning getting drunk and the church lookd upon it to be best to lay it over till next meeting. Also the church concluded if any of the male members fail attending the monthly meetings without sending an excuse, to appoint deligates to goe to know the reason.
January ye 12th 1793. The church setting in order Bro, John Holbrook got fellowship Bro. Gibson Mainer made a recantation for getting angry and fighting lai'd over till next meeting.
Sunday ye 13th. The church got together and had some tolk concerning Bro. Turner taking the pastral care of the church and concluded to send for helps, and deligated Bro. Thos. Johnson & Bro. Timothy Buttery to invite Bro. Baker.
Sattterday ye 9th of February. Bro. Abraham Mitchel joind by letter. Also Bro. Gibson Maner was receivd into fellowship. Also deligated Bro. Thos. Johnson & John Hamon to invite Bro. Wm. Hamon as a held the second Satterday in March.
SatterdaY ye 9th of March. The Prisbattery met according to appointment & after prayer and supplication entered on the work and finding it not all together ripe for ordanation concluded to lay it over and exorted the church to weight on the Lord and be looking to him for his teachings. Also Sister Sary Cate joind by letter. Also Bro. Thomas Johnson applyd for a dismission for himself and his wife and it was granted.
Satterday ye 13th of April. The church setting in order offerd a reproof Bro. Gibson Manard for shooting at a shooting match.
Satterday ye 19th of May. The church setting in order concluded to send for a prisbatary to come to ordain Bro. Turner a paster for the church if found ripe.
Friday ye 7th June. Sister Rachel Turner joind the church by experience and Baptism.
Satterday ye 8th. The church setting in order. Bro. Larrance informed the church that being unwell and bad weather he did not obay the church in going to invite Bro. Baker, and the church deligated him again to go Bro. Bakers meeting to invite him to come as a prisbattery on the last Satterday in this istant as Bro. Wm. Hamon has provised to attend them.
The Third Saterday in July. The prisbatery met and after examination (found) things in order and so ordained Bro. John Turner as a paster for the church.
Sunday the 11th of August. The church setting in order receivd Sister Michel by experience and Baptism.
The second Saterday in October. The church seting in order. Sister Susana joind by experience.
November the 9th. The church seting in order. Report was made to the church that Sister King had transgresd by drinking two much and the church deligated Bro. Ambrose Hamon, Bro. Thos. Larrance to go labour with her.
The second Saterday in December. The church setting in order had some tolk about Sister King & agreed to bare with her till next meeting.
January meeting (1794). The church seting in order. Report was made to the church that Sister King was not able to come to the meeting.
February 8th. The church setting in order. Sister King came in and made an acknowledgement and profest to have repentance for her sis and the church receivd her. Also some tolk concerning deconds & elders and sot a part Bro. Buttery & Bro. Mitchel.
March 8th. The church setting in order, Sister Jean Holbrook joind by experience & Baptism. Also tride to get the minds of the church concerning officers the church in a janaral (?) lookd at Bro. Buttery as a Dacond & Bro. Mitchel as a Elder & the church exorted to look to the Lord and try to get his mond on the matter.
Saterda the 12th of April. The church seting in order a report was made concerning Bro. Sparks geting drunk and he denyd the charge and it was laid over. Also some talk about Bro. Gibson Mainors bantering the company to swap horses and he allowd it was not a transpression and thought it was a transgression.
The Second Saterday in May the church setting in order. Bro. Sparks & Bro Mainor gave the church satisfaction.
The second Saterday in June the church setting in order. There was some tolk about a Dacond & Elder and the church sot forward Bro. Abraham Mitchel & Bro. Timothy Buttery to walk before the church.
July 10th. The church setting in order. Enquired concerning a Deacon & Elder and church profest to see Bro. Buttery a Deacon and concluded to send for a presbattery.
August 9th. The church setting in order. Report was made that Bro. Spencer Adams & his wife was both in transgression, he for charging a man to fight & she for threatning to kill a woman, for which the church thought proper to deny them both fellowship.
Saterday the 13th of September. The church met and seemd to be in love.
Saterday the 11th of October the church setting in order Bro. Simon Williams and wife and Bro. John Cate applyd for dissmissions and it was granted.
The Second Satterday in November. The church setting in order with the prisbattery inquired into the stand concerning a deacond and there was some division & concluded to weight longer & get the mind of the Lord. Also Sister Winneford Adams applyd for a dismission & it was granted.
The Second Satterday in December the church met & seemd to be in love.
The Second Satterday in January 1795. The church setting in order Bro. Turner applyd for a dismission and it was granted (notice the dismissions this period: a general drift to Kentucky was taking place).
The Second Satterday in February the church met & seemd to be in love.
March 7th. The church met & all in love.
11th April the church setting in order, had some talk about a decon but could not see all alike and so agreed to lay it over till next meeting.
9th May. The church setting in order the church deligated Bro. Laurance & Bro. John Cate to site Bro. Gibson Mainor to appear at the next meeting to make it know why he would pass by the meeting house on church meeting day and not attend meeting. Also Bro. John Cate & John Hamon (John's grandfather William had died and left a will in Wilkes Co. in 1793 and his father Ambrose in 1794. There is a lot of evidence that John was in Ky. very early and later was in Bryants Station when attacked by Indians. Like the Bryants themselves he made several trips back and forth before settling permanently in Ky. near Georgetown just after he last appears in these minutes in Feb. 1796. He became a member of the Mountain Island Baptist church and in 1817 after moving on Hammons creek a branch of Eagle Creek in the eastern part of Owen Co. Ky. He is mentioned as a charter member of the Mussel Shoals Bapts. Church which is still holding service in that location. The minutes of this church may be seen at either the Filson Club or the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisville. Many of these charter members were of the families mentioned in the Roaring River church and their descendants are numerous in Owen Co. to this day. Indeed they have spread out all over Ky. and the West) was appointed to site Bro. John Sparks to appear at next meeting to make knoon the reason why he neglected attending meeting from time to time.
The third Satterday in June. The church met & Bro. Gibson Mainor & Bro. John Sparks both left the place before the church got together.
11th July. The church setting in order under took to talk some with Bro. Gibson Mainor but was not satisfide & agread to bare with him till next meeting. Bro. Sparks did not appear and report was made to the church that said he had as leave be out of the church as in it & so the church denid him fellowship. Also the church deligated Bro. Turner, Bro. Laurance & Bro. Mitchel to attend the next association at Bro. Pettys meeting house.
Satterday 12th of September. The church met together and Sister Sarah came forward and profect to be dissattisfid with the church on the account of her husborn being shut out and the church labord with her to convince her that the church was in duty but to no purpose but concluded bare with hir untill next meeting. Also some talk about Bro. Christopher Mainor neglectin to attend meeting of a long time but concluded to bare him a while longer
Satterday 10th of October 1795. The church setting in order Sister Mainor appeared before the church and profsd that she did not fellowship the (blot)edence of the church in cuting off heir husburn. Also Sister Sarah Cate applyd for dismission and it was granted also Bro. James Mainor.
Satterday 12th of November the church setting in order Sister Sarah Mainor disappeared and the church saw cause to deny her fellowship. Also Sister Ann Harris applyd for dismission and it was granted. Also Sister Susannah Harris applyd for a dismission and it was granted. Also Bro. John Holbrook applyd for a dismission and it was granted.
Satterday the 12th December the church met together and seemd to be in love and it seemd to be the mind of the church to look at Bro. Timothy Buttery as a Deacond and Bro. Abraham Mitchel as an Elder and exorted each other look to look to the Lord for his teachings.
Satterday the 9th of January 1796. The church setting in order deligated Abraham Mitchel to go see Bro. Christopher Mainor & site him once more to the church.
Satterday 6th of February. The church seting in order saw cause to deny Christopher Mainor fellowship for refusing to hear the church after transgresing. Also Sister Ale Shipperd, John Hamon and wife Mary Hamon applyd for dismission & it was granted. (This is last mention of John Hammon in these minutes, evidently he was about to leave for Ky. Note that his wife is Mary here. She died before he appeared in the Mussell Shoals Church minutes in 1817; his wife then was Mildred Ann Morgan. It is probable that he had three wives as we know that he had 22 children and lived to be 108).
Satterday ye 8th February - 1796 a complaint was laid in to the church against Sister Mary Turner for reporting that Bro. Butry was an extortioner and not dealing with him agreable to the gospel & Sister Billing & Sister Sary Pruit is to sight her to next meeting. Bro. Mitchell & wife requested a dismission and it was granted.
Saterday the 10th of September 1796. Our Sister Charity Turner requested a letter and it was granted.
December the 28th 1795 (Evidently a mistake; 1796 is meant) Sister Lucy Laurance joind the church by experience & Baptism.
July the Second Saterday 1797. Brother Thomas Laurance joind by experience & Bapt.
November the Second Saterday 1797. Brother Thomes Laurance chosen by the to be clark & the church agreed to wait with Sister King till next meeting & Brother Timothy Buttery was appointed to go to see Sister Heney Adams on the account of a dispute between her and Sister Jonston.
Saturday the 9th of September. The church met and set together and saw cause to deny our former Sister Mary King fellowship for afferming that she saw our Lord Jesus on the cross with her natural eyes and for getting dunk. Also our former Bro. Thimothy Butry informd the church that our former Sister Henne Addams denied that Sister Rachel Johnson sited her to meeting and the church saw cause to deny her fellowship. The church by agreement concluded to call for Bro. Mitchell.
Saterday the 10th March 1797. Bro. Thomas Collyer & Sister Agathy Holbrook joind the church by letter. The church considers Sister Rachel May to be out of her duty agrees to send Bro. Timithy Buttry & Bro. Thomas Laurance to cite her to a meeting. Sunday the 11th March. The church sot to gather and recieved Bro. Jesse Maynord by experience and he was Baptised.
(The last page of the first booklet is badly torn and stained and seems to with a lot of association business and questions of policy. The best we can be sure of from it is as follow.) The association met acco---Matrumony Meeting House---After prayer & other solem---proceeded to business. Samuel---Randolph Hall Clark, a letter---ordered to be read the refferen---Queary 3rd. Wheather a minister might have the pastrol care of more than one church at the same time. Answer, he has. (End of first book)
----------------------------------------- COMMENTS BY HAL MAYNARD (Transcriber, May 1998)
I computer-scanned and retyped significant portions of the above document to make it available to a wider audience of genealogists interested in Wilkes County's pioneer residents prior to 1800. I did not have access to the original church record or to a microfilm copy of that document. I did, however, have two older typed versions to draw upon. The copy that was most scanable by computer was found on the shelves of the DAR Library in Washington, DC. However, the copy that was obtained from current members (Vance Johnson and his son Quincy Johnson) of the Old Roaring River Baptist Church in Traphill, NC, is better in all other respects. It contains considerable supplementary information provided by Ida Holbrook Jones in 1952 and it also has the advantage of some indexing.
Roaring River Baptist Church in the 1790s was designed as a mission church on the frontier; at least 13 other small churches were spinoffs of this church. The church first existed as a log cabin, and then as a frame building on a hill, with an adjacent cemetery. The church is now a brick building located at the bottom of the hillside cemetery, on the south side of Long Bottom Road. The cemetery is still active, but it has no tombstones dating from the 1700s.
Roaring River Baptist Church records from founding in 1779 until mid-1785 appear to have been permanently lost. The above record covers the period of 1785-1797. Records for 1798-1827 have also been lost. There is a good church record from 1828 through 1950, which I have in hard copy form.
I am by blood and temperament descended from Gibson Maynard and his wife Sarah. I'd be gratefully receive any information about their origins or about any of the other Maynards mentioned in this document--Christopher, James, and Jesse--and their families. Additionally, I am searching for the origins and relationships of George, William, and Jacob Maynard. These men were also present in Wilkes County during the late 1770s. They were even recorded on the 1771 colonial tax list in the predecessor County (Surry) prior to the Revolution and the formation of Wilkes County in 1777-1778.
I may be contacted via e-mail ( or via snail mail (PO Box 101: APO AP 96558). Cheers from Johnston Atoll (825 miles WSW of Honolulu). Hal

Going Home for History, Wilkes County, North Carolina

King Arthur's Round Table found by archaeologists in Scotland

London, Aug 27(ANI): Archeologists searching for King Arthur's Round Table believe they have found a "circular feature" beneath the historic King's Knot in Stirling, Scotland.
Researchers and historians from Glasgow University conducted the first non-invasive survey of The King's Knot, a geometrical earthwork in the former royal gardens in May and June.
The site, which has been described as looking like a cup and saucer, has been cloaked in mystery for years.
Their findings show there was indeed a round feature on the site that pre-dates the visible earthworks.
"Archaeologists using remote-sensing geophysics, have located remains of a circular ditch and other earth works beneath the King's Knot," the Telegraph quoted John Harrison, chair of the Stirling Local History Society (SLHS), who initiated the project, as saying.
"The finds show that the present mound was created on an older site and throws new light on a tradition that King Arthur's Round Table was located in this vicinity," he added.
The Round Table is King Arthur's famed table in the Arthurian legend, around which he and his Knights congregate.
As its name suggests, it has no head, implying that everyone who sits there has equal status.
The table was first described in 1155 by Wace, who relied on previous depictions of Arthur's fabulous retinue.
The symbolism of the Round Table developed over time; by the close of the 12th century it had come to represent the chivalric order associated with Arthur's court, the Knights of the Round Table. (ANI)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Virginia Race Records, Mormon Priesthood, and Indian Identity

Ruth Knight Bailey

                     Indians in Virginia’s Racial Records, 1670-1963

In the year 1670 , the English colony of
Virginia decided to classify American Indians as free people of color.
1. Later, in 1705, a colonial law stated that descendants of any Indian "should be deemed, accounted, held and taken to be mulatto." 2 By 1793, Virginia required all free colored people to register with the state or else be sold into slavery or jailed. The remoteness of the Blue Ridge Mountains, however, made it possible for some people to be unaware of the registration requirements or to avoid visits from the sheriff. 3 Nonetheless, in the 1830s, some Indians in Amherst County voluntarily registered as "free issue negroes" to avoid removal westward into Indian Territory.4. Because of growing concerns about runaway slaves and a law that required local sheriffs to list all free colored people, involuntary registrations increased in the 1850s. Nevertheless, by the end of the War Between the States in 1865, only a third of Amherst County residents whowere required to register actually had done so.5. Most Anglos in the eastern United States had long preferred that Indians live somewhere else. Thus it is not surprising that Amherst Indians tended to keep their ancestry private by blending into the mountain cultures where they lived, whether or not
they ever registered as free issues. 6. Although Northern abolitionists
harshly criticized Southern slavery before slaves were freed in the years 1863-65, most Northern free states had also passed comprehensive segregation laws well before 1860.7 In contrast, Southern slave owners had Incendiary pamplet denouncing
the "racially mixed" marriage of Atha Sorrels, of Rockbridge County.
(special collections, university of Virginia library)
Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 203
The office then encouraged and assisted local governments in locating
communities in which "defectives" might be "breeding." 13
The 1880 Virginia census listed all Amherst County Indians who had
registered as "free issues" before 1865 as "M," mulattoes, or "B," black,14. but in the 1900 Census, all of the Amherst "M" notations inexplicably
turned into "B." 15 By the turn of the twentieth century, most Virginiansthought Indians no longer existed in the Commonwealth.1 6
In 1912, Dr. Walter Plecker became
Virginia’s registrar of vital statistics.
With his assistance and the advice of some prestigious eugenicists,17
prominent Virginians 18 successfully lobbied the Virginia General Assemblyto pass the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which required all Virginians
to register according to race: "Caucasian, Negro, Mongolian, American
Indian, Asiatic Indian, Malay, or any mixture thereof, or any other non-
Caucasian strain." 19 It strictly prohibited whites from marrying people ofany blood other than Caucasian.
Influential so-called First Families of
Virginia, FFVs, some of which
claimed Princess Pocahontas as a distant ancestor, successfully lobbied to
include the exception 20 for those who were less than one-sixteenth American Indian. 21 Plecker determined that any Virginian with Indian bloodwas really a "mixed-blood Negro" unless a Pocahontas exception could
be proved — proof that was practically impossible for anybody other than
FFVs. Furthermore, Plecker deemed any "mixture of blood" as the genetic
cause of "defective children." In fact, light-skinned people with a
few drops of "colored" blood ranked at the very bottom of Plecker’s caste
f i g u r e 3
Bulletin from Dr. Plecker’s office with suspect family names. Amherst and Rockbridge
counties were key targets. Many of the
Amherst names are from the Bear Mountain
Episcopal mission. Many of the Rockbridge names originated in
Amherst but had become
Latter-day Saints in Rockbridge by the time this list was published.
courtesy of the monaca n indian nation
202 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII
consistently used frequent contact and association to maintain control of
their slaves. It was only after slavery and post-war Reconstruction ended
that Southern states followed the Northern example and enacted mandatory
separation of white and colored races in order to maintain white control.
8 For a few decades before 1860, free people of color — blacks andIndians — had formed their own communities without much intrusion
from government. With the onset of Southern segregation, however, governments
suddenly placed all free people of color into the same category
as former slaves.9
In 1883, Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of the British naturalist Charles
Darwin, introduced a new science he called "eugenics." 10 Eugenicists appliedDarwinism, based upon
Darwin’s theory of human evolution, to
explain that suppression of "defectives"
and "inferior races" was part
of "natural selection" and the will
of God.11 Well-respected scientistsstressed the need for increased reproduction
among persons of superior
human stock and the need
for decreased reproduction, or
even sterilization, among "inferior
strains of humanity." 12
The Eugenics Record Office,
founded in 1910 in Cold Springs
Harbor, New York, solicited massive
family-history records from physicians,
individuals, and local eugenics
societies throughout the nation.
f i g u r e 2
Letter from Dr.
Walter A. Plecker,
Virginia registrar
of vital statistics,
addressed to
"Local Registrars,
Health Officers,
Nurses, School
and Clerks of the
Court," January
courtesy of the monaca n indian nation
Ruth Knight Bailey, J.D., teaches adjunct
law classes at
East Tennessee
State University
. She thanks the many
people who offered information and
encouragement, particularly those
who shared their personal histories
and family photographs. Special acknowledgement
also goes to Gene
Bailey, Sheila Coleman, Karen Voke,
Emily Lawhorne Wagner, and Sarah
Ms. Bailey presented this paper to
the Society at its meeting of
27, 2005
, in the Main Hall of Southern
Virginia University. An earlier version
appeared in CrossRoads: A Southern Culture Annual (
Mercer University Press,Macon, Georgia, 2004). This version,
used with permission, contains updated
text and new illustrations.
204 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 205
Insisting on the support of white health workers, school administrators,
and county officials, Plecker and the bureaucrats reporting to him
actually changed notations on existing birth, marriage, and death certificates
from "white," "Indian," and "mulatto" to "black." 30 Plecker evenwrote intimidating letters to mothers of newborns and ordered bodies
exhumed from white cemeteries. He threatened local officials with the
penitentiary if they issued "white" certificates against his wishes, and a few
local officials went to prison over it.31
In 1943, after some intense genealogical work, Plecker distributed
widely a list of surnames to be subsequently classified as "Negroes by all
registrars in the state of
Virginia." He warned courthouse officials, health
workers, and school administrators throughout Virginia to watch for
"mongrels" who had changed their surnames or moved from Amherst to
Rockbridge or other Virginia counties.32
Modern-Day Indians in Amherst
In the early 1980s, Peter W. Houck, a medical doctor in Lynchburg, noticed
that some of his patients had "copper skin, high cheek bones, and
straight backs." These patients came from
Bear Mountain in Amherst
. Dr. Houck’s scholarly research, and his conversations with the
people themselves, revealed a tight-knit community whose Native American
identity had been completely lost to the dominant culture around
it. Older individuals from
Bear Mountain told Dr. Houck about their
grandparents’ speaking "fluent Indian." Many others maintained detailed
knowledge of native medicines and other elements of their ancestry.
These aboriginal people remembered their heritage, but had stayed
quiet about it in public. Houck wrote a book about them.33 In 1989, Virginiarecognized the
Bear Mountain people as remnants of the ancient
Monacan Indian nation.34
Now some obscure Mormon-missionary diaries, church documents,
and oral histories indicate that another tight-knit community with a similar
history survives in nearby
Rockbridge County.
Mormon Missionaries in the Blue Ridge, 1883-98
In its early days, from 1830 to 1846, the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday
Saints was unique in that it was somewhat color-blind. (Church members
generally called themselves "Latter-day Saints" or "Saints," according
to the Bible. Almost everybody else called them Mormons. 35) The writingsof Joseph Smith, the first president, did indicate that lineage mattered to
God, with Israelites receiving covenant promises first and the descendants
of Cain receiving them last.36 The early church nevertheless welcomed all converts, "black and white, bond and free." 37 All people sat together insystem, because their existence
seemed to flaunt a violation of the
anti-miscegenation laws.22
Previous anti-miscegenation
statutes in Virginia had more flexibly
defined "colored" as more
than one-fourth Negro blood, and
"Indian" as non-colored with more
than one-fourth Indian blood.23
The Racial Integrity Act raised the
bar considerably by declaring that a
person with any "discernable trace"
of any color other than white would
be considered a "colored" person
who posed a danger to the purity of the white race. Furthermore, the act
required non-whites to register with local governments and pay a fee, 20
percent of which went into Dr. Plecker’s coffers in
Richmond. 24 There,government workers used state and colonial vital statistics, such as the
antebellum registers of free colored people, to pinpoint locations in the
commonwealth where descendants might be passing for white.2 5 Because two-thirds of the Amherst Indians 26had never registered as free issuesin the first place, the act segregated descendants from each other because
the Department of Vital Statistics labeled some as white and some
as black.27
Then the county clerk in nearby Rockbridge County denied Atha
Sorrells a white marriage license. Sorrels sued him and won by proving
that "colored" did not necessarily mean "Negro." She produced evidence
to show that she had a distant Indian ancestor but no black ones, thereby
falling within the legal exception for one-sixteenth Indian blood.28
Plecker chose not to appeal the ruling, perhaps fearing that an appellate
court could hold the Racial Integrity Act to be overly vague in
its definition of "Caucasian." Instead, Plecker increased the intensity of
his hunt for Virginians who might have a few drops of colored blood.
He widely distributed John Powell’s brochure, The Breach in the Dike: AnAnalysis of the Sorrels Case Showing the Danger to Racial Integrity From the Intermarriage
of Whites with So-Called Indians. 29
Richmond bureaucrats underhis direction used the antebellum Amherst registers to trace individuals
named in it down through descendants who had dutifully obtained birth,
marriage, and death certificates.
f i g u r e 4
Dr. Walter Ashby Plecker, January 1935.
courtesy of the richmond times-dispatch
206 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 207
The elders discovered the craggy landscape dotted with tiny log
houses, many belonging to members of the Mason family. One day, John
Mason took Kimball and Welch up to the cabin of his parents, Peter Mason
and Diannah Sorrells Mason. Fifteen family members gathered to
meet them.51 That night, Elder Kimball wrote in his journal: 52
[A] stranger sight I never saw. He [Peter Mason] was seventy years
old. [He] was born and raised at this same place (top of the
Mts). He was of Indian descent, his skin being almost as dark as
an Indians. His hair was long and black. Mrs. Mason — his wife — was
very old. She said what she thought and was somewhat of a doctress.
They had seventeen children — twelve boys and five girls. Children
and grandchildren about forty-two. Indian blood was discernable in
most of their faces. Look which way you might — poverty was everywhere
to be seen. They were but little ahead of the Indian people in
education. None of them had ever belonged to a church of any kind.
If the elders had seen any indication that a group of Native Americans
lived along Pedlar Creek at the top of the Blue Ridge, they would
have sought them out as "chosen people," just as other elders had sought
out the Catawba Indians in South Carolina 53 and the Cherokee Indiansin North Carolina.54 In the Book of Mormon, the Israelite prophet Lehi
f i g u r e 5
Location of Indians in West-Central Virginia
Rugged uplands
Rivers and
Norfolk & Western
Present-day county
Tobacco Row
Buena Vista n
J a m e s R i v e r
n o r t h ( m a u r y )
R i v e r
s o u t h R i v e r
i r i s h c r e e k
p e d l a r c r e e k ( p e d l a r r i v e r )
N e l s o n
C o u n t y
r o c k b r i d g e
C o u n t y
amh e r s t
C o u n t y
nancy fischman
c o l l i e r s
c r e e k
meetings, including the few free-black members. All faithful men held the
lay priesthood, including at least two blacks.38
Then, in 1852, Utah governor and prophet Brigham Young asked
the territorial legislature to pass "An Act in Relation to Service," legalizing
slavery in the territory, though very few blacks lived there. In a statement
to the legislature, Young also denied priesthood ordination to Negro Latter-
day Saints.39
As Reconstruction ended and government-sponsored segregation
began in the South,4 0 former abolitionists in the Northeast turned theirfull attention toward Mormons. Political cartoons in Republican newspapers
began showing polygamous Mormons allying themselves with other
dangerous minorities by marrying them and giving birth to mixed breeds
of every ethnic origin. 41 Federal government officials accused Mormonsof stirring up western Indians by promising them a restoration of ancient
greatness. 42 Mainstream Protestant ministers accused Mormons of barbarismand immorality.43
In that context, it must have been a relief for the elders to journey into
Blue Ridge Mountains and find a different set of challenges. On December
30, 1883, Elders4 4 J. Golden Kimball and Charles Welch stepped off theShenandoah Railway car at Riverside Station, three miles north of Buena
Vista in Rockbridge County. 45 On
January 11, 1884, in a hard rain, the tworepeatedly waded the icy Pedlar Creek46 as it wound along the remote tops of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Amherst County.
* Eventually, they foundthe home of a referral named Mr. Mason. Glad to have arrived safely, Kimball
wrote, "I could not stand erect in the house. They had two beds and
nine of us to stow away. It was accomplished but how I cannot tell."47
A few days later, the elders made their way to a nearby schoolhouse
where they intended to preach. A "Dunkard exhorter" finished his prayer
meeting and served them with a notice from the school commissioner
forbidding them to use the facility. So they stood outside in the snow, singing
hymns. Mason insisted that they spend another night with his family
and urged them to visit "any time . . . night or day."48
January 20, 1884, twenty people, "who did not belong to any
church," showed up to hear the elders preach. Appalachian uplanders often
worshiped with obvious emotion. 49 Yet now they stood "without spirit"in the winter cold. After the elders had preached for more than an hour,
not one person said a word about the sermon. Kimball was discouraged.
Then, surprisingly, most of the people quietly asked the missionaries to
call on them at home.50
* Although the waterway is now generally known as Pedlar River, the residents in
the community at the top of the Blue Ridge, and the missionaries whose diaries
recorded visits with them, spoke almost exclusively of Pedlar Creek.
208 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 209
up the delicate subject. Hannah and John said they could prove they had
been married for seventeen years.6 8 Then Peggy Sorrells told the missionariesthat Marvel Mason had been living with her daughter without marrying
Although many in the neighborhood avoided recorded documents,
others willingly procured the proper marriage licenses and baptismal
certificates. 70 It appeared to the missionaries that the white uplanderson Pedlar Creek assimilated with the Indians, rather than the other way
around. Or perhaps they had had Indian ancestry all along. In any event,
the "Mason neighborhood" on Pedlar Creek served as the hub of the
community, and it also became a Mormon mission headquarters for the
Virginia Conference of the Southern States
Mission. 71 At the same time,the missionaries, directed by the centralized priesthood hierarchy, continually
urged the Pedlar people to move to the American
Zion in Utah and
nearby territories. Households, including those of two Mason daughters
and their families,72 began to emigrate westward. 73
As the months passed, a constant arrival of western elders moved
from family to family along Pedlar Creek. One end of the Pedlar community
came close to the Irish Creek community, in
Rockbridge County,
where the elders found more uplanders who opened their homes and
their hearts to Mormonism. 74 On
February 15, 1888, Elder John W. Tatewrote his wife, telling her that several members from Irish Creek prepared
to immigrate in the spring, provided they could raise the money.
He added, "It is in the mountains we are called to labor, among the timber,
hills, holes, and rocks. It is only the poor that will receive the gospel.
There are no Saints in the valleys, people are better off down there and
will not listen."7 5
The Pedlar community in Amherst County and the Irish Creek community
in Rockbridge touched a lofty tip of a third county, Nelson, where
a group of "Campbellites" 76 asked for rebaptism as Latter-day Saints. MiltonFitzgerald, their minister of sixteen years, led them west to Zion.77
Historic overlaps between some restorationist beliefs of these particular
Christians and the Latter-day Saints may also explain why Mormon elders
of the 1880s generally received a warmer welcome from religious people
in the mountains of Appalachia than they received from mainstream Protestants
in the valleys below.78
Industrial Boom and Administrative Change, 1890-1918
None of the Mormon elders of the 1880s predicted the dramatic political
changes of the 1890s that would take them out of the mountains and into
the towns down in the valleys. Change came for the missionaries when the
Mormon priesthood ended its dominion over
Utah politics, its support of
brought his family from
Jerusalem to the Americas during Old Testament
times. To Latter-day Saints, this made modern Indians a precious remnant
of one of the ancient tribes of
Israel, who would gather in an American
Zion to welcome the second coming of the Messiah.55
Yet no Indian reservation existed in
Amherst County, Virginia. 56 Thearea looked like a fairly typical Appalachian mountain community, except
that the missionaries, who were familiar with western Indians, 57 clearlyrecognized these particular uplanders as Lamanites, 58 one of the four main groups described in the
Book of Mormon and a word Latter-day Saints often used to describe American Indians. 59 Another visiting missionary,Elder Newell Kimball, even described Peter Mason as a "full-blooded Lamanite."
The Masons and their upland neighbors confused the missionaries
by saying that they had never been baptized into any religion, but that
they loved the Bible. In fact, Kimball said that Peter Mason "was deeply
imbued with the doctrine of the Old Primitive Baptists." The old man
asked the missionaries to come again and again, said he would like to be
in their company all the time, and repeatedly "God blessed" them. Tears
rose in Peter Mason’s eyes when they read the Bible with him. But he felt
no call to baptism. In the old upland way, he had to wait until God told
him it was time, and not the other way around.61
"Mother Mason" healed the sick with herbal medicines. 62 The eldershelped her by anointing ailing people with consecrated oil and by laying
hands upon them.63
"Father Mason" warned the elders not to visit Old Man Vest and his
family because the Vests were "dangerous." All Latter-day Saint missionaries
feared the mob violence that sometimes formed against them. Although
the Ku Klux Klan and other mobs mainly targeted Negroes, they
also terrorized people they considered "social deviants," including Mormons.
64 Yet in spite of Mason’s warning, the missionaries climbed
StightCove Mountain, at the head of the Pedlar near Oronoco, in the snow.
Old Levi Vest "declared himself to be a great reasoner, reader of the Bible
and a Lover of the Word of God." Kimball wrote that Vest was an "Old
Iron Side Baptist, Hard Shell." Kimball hadn’t had much luck baptizing
"Primitive Baptists" in the past, but he didn’t think Old Levi Vest or any of
the Vest sons would hurt him, and they did not.65
One day, Hannah Mason announced that she was getting baptized
"on Monday at
eleven o’clock." This was disquieting news to the elders.
First, they were not entirely sure that she had studied long enough to understand
the doctrine. 66 Second, it was dubious that most of the Masons could prove they were married; 67 Latter-day Saint rules forbade the baptizingof people living in sin. Elders Kimball and Welch finally brought
210 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 211
On December 22, 1895, Elder Thomas Romney and his companion
visited the mayor of nearby Lexington at his "beautiful brick mansion"
and had "a long friendly talk" with him. The mayor loved hearing Romney’s
stories about Mexico, and promised Romney that Mormons could
preach on the streets any time they wanted and that the laws of the city
would always protect them.85
Later that same day, Elder Romney wrote, "We find in the east end
of the city two or three families of Saints by the name of Mason who were
baptized in Amherst County. . . . They are reported to be part niggar."
Yet despite the "reports," Romney spent that night with one of the Mason
families." 86
A couple of years later, Elder David Call’s diary added that "some of
the members" in
Rockbridge County "are part nigar" and that "some of
the leaders years ago baptized them through a mistake." Call wrote, "They
said they was Indian but I don’t." Call stayed overnight with Mormons
near Collierstown, rather than with the Masons.87
No previous missionary to Pedlar or Irish Creek had mentioned anything
about black people. Neither did any of the copious records that had
been sent to
Salt Lake. The people did not look African American. Yet the
rumors persisted.88
In 1895 and 1896, President Elias Kimball, of the Southern States
directed all Southern states missionaries to shift their emphasis from
rural service to city service. He also told missionaries that members "should
f i g u r e 7
Buena Vista Hotel, shown in a postcard postmarked in 1909.
special collections, leyburn library, washi ngton and lee university
plural marriage, and its intense efforts to gather the tribes of
Israel physically.
The federal government recognized Utah as the forty-fifth state in
1896, and Latter-day Saints began to assimilate into a more middle-class
mode of American life.79 At the same time, both industrialization 80 and segregation 81 dramatically altered the lives of the Appalachian uplanderswho had so kindly cared for the elders over the years.
For the people on Pedlar and Irish Creeks, the first indication of
change came in the form of a new boomtown named
Buena Vista, in
Rockbridge County, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Elder Edward
J. Eardley, writing home on
April 30, 1890, described developers
grading streets and laying water pipes in what had been a "fertile plain
devoted to agriculture." Two railroads brought guests to four spacious
new hotels. The "splendid" Buena Vista Hotel sat high on a hill with a
"charming view of the new town and the
North River." The railway companies
loaded their freight cars with goods from the newly built iron works
and paper manufacturers along the river, as well as from the new tannery,
saddle company, wagon firm, and fence supplier.82
While valley people welcomed the booming job market, they expressed
concern about the "influx" of laborers "from Amherst on the
other side of the Blue Ridge." Townspeople described the new workers as
"a rough, disorderly element, partly white and partly colored." 83
Beginning in 1895, Latter-day Saint elders shifted most of their missionary
efforts from the
Amherst County mountains into Buena Vista below.
84 Jobs brought some of the younger Masons down into town, wherethey continued to open their doors to the elders.
f i g u r e 6
Buena Vista, 1891.
special collections, leyburn library, washi ngton and lee university
212 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 213
Recognizing Legally
Non-Existent People: 1932 . . .
Seventy-four years later, Will Southers
told what happened. He said, "I
remember the old men that started
the church at Pedlar Creek and
Cornwall. . . . They were mostly
Masons and Colemans. . . . My dad
and mother were baptized in 1912.
Elder Turley baptized me in 1913
when I was fifteen years old. It felt
real good. When the elders came,
they preached about every night on
top of the
Blue Ridge Mountains."
Will added, "What schooling I got
was when we moved everything out
of a room and had to pay a teacher
to come." After trying for more
than a year to get a schoolhouse
through regular channels, Will and
his father, Robert Southers, finally
built a school themselves on family land for Will’s younger siblings. They
used streetcar ties and logs they cut in their own sawmill. "Seventy dollars
built it," said Southers, "and we had church there sometimes. . . . Jacob
Mason was one of the head members. He worked at a factory in
. He preached to us when there were no elders. He knew the Bible
pretty good."98
Years went by. And a remarkable thing happened, considering the
highly centralized nature of the larger Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints. Although the existence of Latter-day Saint meetings in and near
Buena Vista totally disappeared from official records before 1921, and local
members say that infrequent visits by elders ended before 1923,99 anAppalachian mode of Mormonism continued — completely on its own.100
Myrtle Wilhelm Coleman, a great-granddaughter of Peter and
Mason, said that in 1932, when she was nine years old, her family
had "always belonged" to the church, but "at the time we didn’t know
anything about elders or anything." 101
Members met at each other’s homes, or out under the trees, with Jacob
Mason and others preaching. They read the Bible and the Book of Mormon
with and to each other. They did not gather together every Sunday,
but met often enough that they held together as a distinct religious community
— even though families no longer lived along the same mountain
be restrained as much as possible from emigrating." He counseled missionaries
to organize locally led "branches and Sunday schools" * wherever therewere enough members to gather into a small group. He wrote, "Select good
men and ordain them priests to preside over the branches, and efficient
instructors to take charge of the Sunday schools." 89 Elders implementedthis counsel throughout the uplands of
Appalachia, usually ordaining local
men whose families had faithfully harbored the elders for years.90
The mission president’s major shift of focus freed missionaries to
spend the bulk of their time in more populated areas where prejudice
against Mormons had lessened. Official church records show priesthood
ordinations taking place for local men in various rural areas of
during this time, complying with the mission president’s instructions.9 1
Yet no ordinations took place in
Amherst or Rockbridge Counties.
The church records for Amherst and Rockbridge Counties from
1897 to 1918 show a distinct pattern of growth that clearly took them into
the "branch" or "ward" range:
Between 1897 and 1912, elders established locally led Sundayschools in Collierstown (Colliers Creek), Oronoco (Pedlar
Creek), Buena Vista, and Cornwall (Irish Creek).92
June 15, 1918: Five hundred people attended the Latter-daySaints meeting in Buena Vista. Missionaries wrote, "It completely
blocked the street; much literature was disposed of and
several invitations to homes were received by elders."9 3
July 13, 1918: "The Saints in Buena Vista are anxious to have achurch built of their own," a missionary wrote. "They have subscribed
over four hundred dollars for that purpose. The site chosen
is in the Long Hollow near Brother Coleman’s residence." 94

August 24, 1918: The branch conference held in Buena Vistawas so big that it filled the Star Theater twice.95
Then, suddenly, in spite of the large numbers of people interested in
Mormonism there, entries for
Buena Vista, Cornwall (Irish Creek), and
Oronoco (Pedlar Creek) disappeared from all official Latter-day Saint
records. 96 Regular entries abruptly ended in the Sunday school missionhistory. According to church records, church activity ended in and near
Buena Vista, Virginia, in 1918. No entry appeared for any of the three
locations in a 1921 list of all the Latter-day Saint branches and Sunday
schools in Virginia.97
The missionaries left. But where did the members go?
Actually, the members did not go anywhere.
* Congregations. Tiny Sunday schools could be conducted without priesthood, but
where enough members existed to form a "branch" or "ward," local priesthood
became a necessity.
f i g u r e 8
Will Southers
Courtesy of Roy and June Southers
214 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 215
Brigham D. Madsen, another elder in the East Central States Mission,
knew Alvin Pocock during his second mission. Madsen later wrote108
that Pocock
began to proselyte in an African-American community and eventually
converted and baptized an entire congregation of about 150. . . . This
was at the same time, of course, when African-American males were
not allowed to hold the Mormon priesthood, a practice which was
reversed in June 1978. . . . I never learned what the church officials in
Salt Lake City in 1935 did about their new members or Pocock.
Indeed, church leaders in
Salt Lake City faced an administrative
challenge. After Latter-day Saints demonstrated obvious patriotism during
World War I, they enjoyed increasing acceptance from the federal
government and the Protestant mainstream. Many church members became
rather Republican and middle class.109
But without a revelation from God through the current prophet, the
ban on priesthood for blacks could not be lifted.
It appears that boom-time townspeople in
Buena Vista had tipped
off the missionaries as to what they might find if they read the vital statistics
in the courthouse: namely, that some of their members had been officially
classified as black. Without local lay priesthood leadership, the cen fi g u r e 1 0
Latter-day Saints in front of the Long Hollow church house near
Buena Vista, about 1944.
ewing studio,
lexington — courtesy of leroy wheeler
creeks. Sometimes
they visited other
churches, but seldom
joined them.102
One day in 1932,
nine-year-old Myrtle
Wilhelm watched as
her Aunt Eva Southers
made biscuits
with "a rolling pin
full of moonshine."
An automobile with
two young men in it
stopped at the bottom
of the hill.10 3 WillSouthers said that the
men made their way
up through the field
to the house he was
building for his family.
Southers stopped
work on the floorboards.
the pair as Mormon missionaries, 104 Southers wondered where they hadbeen for the last many years.
Elder Alvin Pocock asked Southers, "How about us helping? And
then maybe we can have a meeting on your new floor?"
Southers nodded assent.
Pocock added, "Do you think we can get a crowd?"
In retelling the story nearly sixty years later, Will Southers laughed
out loud as he tried to describe the elders’ faces when people kept arriving.
People sat all over the house, porch, and hillside. Cars stopped to
listen. Excited people wanted to hear more, so the elders preached from
home to home and even up at the "school house on Pedlar Creek way up
in the mountains." 105
Pocock baptized scores of people in the
South River near Cornwall106
and just about anyplace else where he could do a full-body immersion. Will
Southers said, "Elder Pocock baptized my wife, Lizzie, in the ‘blue hole’
from where they took the iron ore. They both like to drowned. I had told
him not to step back. At first he didn’t. He said what he had to say. Then he
put his left foot back to baptize her. And they both went straight down out
o’ sight. I jumped in and grabbed her by one hand and him by the other."10 7
courtesy of steven
alvin pocock
f i g u r e 9
Mission program covers, 1930 and 1934. It was
unusual for an elder to serve two consecutive
in the same place. Though his call could have taken
him anywhere in the East Central States, Alvin Poccock
worked in
Buena Vista both times.
216 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 217
Will Southers. though unordained,
served faithfully as his counselor.
Cash served thirteen years as the
only priesthood-bearer in the
whole congregation.1 14
Meanwhile, in 1934, William
Eugene Larsen moved his young
family to
Waynesboro, Virginia,
where, with his new Ph.D. from
Purdue University, he worked for
E. I. DuPont DeNemours and Company
as a research chemist. After
being officially called through the
centralized priesthood hierarchy,
Larsen led a Latter-day Saint Sunday
school in his home and took
services to members who lived in
remote locations in the
Blue Ridge
. The Larsen-led Sunday
school included blessing and administering
the sacrament, 115 whichrequired priesthood ordination.116
In the 1940s, two Irish Creek families named
Clark moved into
Waynesboro. They held Sunday school, too, but without sacrament. The
Clarks knew about the Larsens, but the Larsens did not know about the
Clarks. After some traveling elders stumbled upon the Clarks and reported
their existence, Eugene Larsen rented the American Legion Hall so
that everyone could meet together. The congregation grew large enough
to form a "branch," with Larsen as its president.117
Jim and Elijah Clark’s father and mother had been baptized in 1911,
and other Irish Creek relatives had been baptized before the turn of the
century. Many
Clarks had participated in home Sunday schools, though
members partook of the sacrament only when priesthood-bearing elders
visited from the Latter-day Saint communities elsewhere.
Now members of the new branch, the
Clarks saw local priesthood
bearers administering the sacrament every Sunday, and they saw local
men laying healing hands on people. Soon Jim and Elijah Clark respectfully
asked Eugene Larsen to ordain the worthy males in their family. Jim
Clark was particularly concerned because his son Claude was nearly twelve
years old, the age of first ordination.118
Eugene Larsen, having heard the rumors about "colored blood" in
the Buena Vista congregation, asked the mission president what to do to
f i g u r e 1 2
Esau, Jacob, and George Mason
in the mid-1940s.
courtesy of peggy cash goodsell
tral church in
Salt Lake City could not authorize formation of a branch of
that church in
Buena Vista.
Early missionaries and local church members had considered the
black priesthood ban irrelevant in this community, given that these were
chosen people, descended from the Tribe of Joseph. 110 But before eldersordained these remnants of the house of Israel, the mission president had
sent the elders out of the mountains, down into a society that classified
the Pedlar and Irish Creek people differently. Apparently, the courthouse
classifications swayed the elders. Although local people stayed with the
church in the Appalachian tradition, they remained loyal to the Mormon
model of lay priesthood authority, and waited for priesthood holders to
come and perform baptisms.
Then, in the midst of the Great Depression, along came Elder Alvin
Pocock and a tidal wave of baptisms and religious enthusiasm. 111 Some ofthe older members argued against building a church house because of
the cost and because they had gotten along without one for years. Robert
Southers, however, went ahead and donated the land for a church building
in Long Hollow, next to the Coleman home. Families sacrificed to
donate money to the construction fund. Richard Clark, who owned a sawmill,
sold lumber at a discount.
Salt Lake City sent two elders to help. Will
Southers said that Elder
Burton knew what he was doing and worked hard,
but the "other elder was off reading out in the shade." All the members
worked on the new building. They lighted it with oil lamps and heated it
with a coal stove. In the end, the building cost between $400 and $500.112
May 30, 1937, Elder Reid Tippitts wrote that the members in Buena
"have succeeded in building a chapel." Some 130 people showed
up at Sacrament meeting that evening and sixty people attended Sunday
school. Tippitts added, "They were
very attentive, too. I quite enjoyed
the day. But these people do present
quite a problem. They claim
they are not Negro, but. . . ."113
In 1937, Latter-day Saint elders
ordained nineteen-year-old
Hansford Cash as branch president
for the Long Hollow congregation.
Although Cash’s sister married
into the Mason line, Cash had a
white pedigree at the courthouse.
f i g u r e 1 1
Oella Wheeler Cash and
Hansford Cash in 1941.
courtesy of peggy cash goodsell
218 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 219
"No you’re not," he said.
"What do you mean I’m not?"
"They don’t give the priesthood to niggars."
"What’s that got to do with me?"
And he wouldn’t say any more. I guess he figured he’d said too much
already. I found out later they refused him the priesthood. He was
a couple years older. They refused him the priesthood! And sure
enough, I didn’t receive the priesthood when I was twelve.
Revealing Appalachian religious attitude, Claude added, "This is
where I really criticize the [priesthood] officials in the
Buena Vista area.
. . . We have a way to find out anything we need to find out. [It is] a simple
matter for a branch president [to go] in prayer to Heavenly Father.
‘Should this person be allowed to hold the priesthood or not?’ Where
were their minds, their hearts, their spirits?" 120
In that summer of 1950, when Claude turned twelve, Eugene Larsen
was the
Waynesboro branch president. He also served as district president
over several other congregations in the mission, including the Long
Hollow church in
Buena Vista. In addition, he was the father of a boy
who was a little younger than Claude. When Wayne Larsen was twelve, his
father delayed
Wayne’s ordination because he did not want to embarrass
Wayne’s friend. Eventually, however, Eugene Larsen and other
priesthood bearers called
Wayne to the front of the congregation and
laid their hands on his head. Claude Clark stood up, strode out the door,
and did not look back. Claude’s uncle, Elijah Clark, the congregation’s
clerk, wrote the newest ordination
in the record book and remained
in his seat.121
In 1950, Joseph Anderson
Clark, Claude’s grandfather, still
lived near Irish Creek at the edge of
the National Forest land where his
ancestors had lived. He knew about
his Native American lineage. In
fact, he became a Mormon in 1911
because he believed that people
with the blood of Israel had special
responsibilities to prepare for the
second coming of the Messiah.122
f i g u r e 1 4 William Eugene Larsen andhis wife,
Tursell, in the 1950s.
courtesy of g.
douglas larsen
"clear the
Clark family." The mission president assigned a missionary to
Clark genealogy. The missionary responded:119
May 1, 1951
Dear Brother Larsen,
I made a trip to
Amherst and in the court house there I was shown the
marriage record of Joseph Anderson Clark and Mary Susan Clark,
the parents of Jim and Elijah Clark, and they were married in 1906 as
colored. May the Lord bless you in your efforts to solve the problems
in your branch. I know they are discouraging.
Elder Wm. S. Tanner
In 1992, Claude Edward Clark, by then an experienced attorney,
reminisced about being twelve years old and Mormon in
Virginia in 1950:
[It was] the week of my twelfth birthday. I was all excited. When you
are twelve you receive the priesthood. I told my cousin [in
] I was going to be ordained a deacon.
f i g u r e 1 3
Latter-day Saints in
Waynesboro, 1951. Many of the people in the photo were Clarks,
originally from Irish Creek in
Rockbridge County (and named in Plecker’s list of target
families, Figure 3). Wayne Larsen and Claude Clark are the twelve-year-olds with
large white collars at the far right. G. Douglas Larsen is the boy in the billed cap.
courtesy of g.
douglas larsen
220 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 221
Clark — on the tree. He also used
Atha’s evidence to show that Julia’s
parents were classified as white and
that Joe’s parents were colored--
Indian and white. He then proved
that his own father was Joe Clark
Jr.’s brother and his mother was
Julia Sorrels
Clark’s sister, making
them double first cousins with
the exact same ancestors. 124 JosephAnderson Clark had produced legal
precedent indicating that "colored"
was not limited to "Negro"
in his family. President Larsen read
the documents carefully. Then he
looked Joseph Anderson
Clark in
the eye and said, "Brother, I believe
you’re right.125
Claude’s "cousin’s husband,"
ordained in 1951, was immediately called to the
Buena Vista Branch presidency.
126 Alvin Coleman and Garvis Wheeler, both direct descendantsof Peter and Diannah Mason, were also ordained that same day. So was
Hansford Vest, the great-grandson of old iron-sided Levi Vest.127
Hansford Vest credited his "Lamonite [sic] brothers" with "comprisingmost of the membership of the Church in Rockbridge County as late as
1940," and he listed "a few of them" as Masons, Colemans, Southerses, and
Clarks. 128 Both Alvin Coleman and Garvis Wheeler later served as branch presidents, and Coleman as a bishop.129 In 1957, Elder Claude Edward Clarkserved as the first full-time missionary from the
Waynesboro Branch.130
From then on, the church record keepers in
Salt Lake City kept detailed
records of the
Buena Vista congregation.
In 1996, Latter-day Saint businessmen from outside
Buena Vista acquired
the entire campus of
Southern Virginia College, including the
building that was once the "splendid," boom-time
Buena Vista Hotel.131
At about the same time, Garvis and Juanita Wheeler, both from
, participated in an unpaid Latter-day Saints mission, as retired
couples often do. A distinguished member of their mission presidency
told them that when he was nineteen years old, he had served a proselytizing
mission in
Buena Vista, Virginia. Excited to meet people from Buena
, this prominent priesthood leader asked Garvis Wheeler, the greatgrandson
of Peter H. Mason, "Are there any white people in the
ward now? It used to be an all-black congregation." 132
f i g u r e 1 6
Mary Susan Clark and Joseph Anderson
Clark in the 1950s.
courtesy of joyce howdyshell floyd
A couple of genealogical missionaries from
Utah visited the Long
Hollow church shortly after his twelve-year-old grandsons were denied
the priesthood. Brother Clark took them to the
Rockbridge County Court
House. Although
Clark had never attended school, by the time he was an
adult he could read sufficiently to search through the dusty document
boxes. Together the missionaries and Brother Clark found court documents
pertaining to the 1925 Atha Sorrells case.12 3 They photographedthe pages, creating a roll of microfilm that Clark took to President Eugene
Larsen in Waynesboro.
Clark showed him a court exhibit containing
Atha Sorrell’s family tree. He carefully identified Atha, her mother,
and her maternal great-grandparents — Joe Clark Jr. and Julia Sorrels
f i g u r e 1 5
Courtroom exhibit, Sorrells v. Shields , Circuit Court of Rockbridge County, January 9 and10, 1925. Atha Sorrells (here spelled Sorrels) used this family-history chart successfully to
show that her supposedly "colored" ancestors were, in fact, Indian and white. In 1951,
Joseph Anderson
Clark used the chart for the same purpose. Key elements read as follows:
courtesy of g.
douglas larsen
1 2 3
JOE CLARK, SR, born 1797 . . . . JOE
CLARK owned slaves and bought Peter
Curry the father of Daniel Curry who was
sold at auction. (INDIAN and WHITE)
2. POLLY CLARK (NÉ CLARK) . . . was
mother of JAMES CLARK [who bought
a writ of] Mandamus for white marriage
license – white license granted County
Court order Book 1876 pages 137, 174
3. [Left box) John Whiteside / Always
white NO question"
[Right box] BETT IE SORRELS / Always
white NO Question
4. [Left] PATERNAL /
222 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 223
University Press,
Oxford, 1974), pp. 18-19. See also the Emancipation Proclamation
and the Constitution of the
United States, Amendment XIII.
8 Woodward, pp. 18-25, 65-83, and 140. In 1896, the
United States Supreme Court
upheld a state statute segregating white and colored races in railway carriages,
clearly setting a precedent for all states in the nation ( Plessy v.
Ferguson , 163 U.S.537). Virginia enacted its own "separate but equal" statutes in 1902. These provisions
added to the statutes that had been in place since 1691 to banish or imprison
whites who intermarried with "negroes, mulattoes, or Indians." Code of Virginia ,Chapter 4, §28 (1902); "Offences Against Chastity, Morality and Decency,"
in the Code of
Virginia , (1847-48); Chapter 17.1 (1866); Title 54 (1873); ChapterCLXXXV, §§3786, 3788, and 3789; McLeRoy and McLeRoy, p. 4; and Karenne
Wood and Diane Shields, The Monacan Indians: Our Story (Monacan Indian Nation,Madison Heights, Virginia, circa 1997), p. 27.
9 Cook, p. 65.
10 Mary V. Rorty, Mormons and Genetics (paper presented at the
San Francisco SunstoneSymposium, 2003), citing Francis Galton, Inquirie s into Human Faculty
(MacMillan, London, 1883), pp. 24-25. See also Paulo Popenoe and Roswell Hill
Johnson, Applied Eugenics (MacMillan, New York:, 1933) 217-227.11 J. David Smith, The Eugenic Assault on America: Studies in Red, White, and Black
(George Mason University Press, Fairfax, 1993), p. 2; Charles Benedict Davenport,
Heredity in Relation to Eugenics (Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1913), pp. iv-vi; and Edward M. East,Heredity and Human Affairs (Charles Scribner’sSons, New York, 1927), p. 235.
12 See, for instance, Edwin Grant Conklin, Heredity and Environment in the Developmentof Men, fifth edition (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1922); East ;
Samuel J. Holmes, The Trend of the Race: A Study of Present Tendencies in the BiologicalDevelopment of Civilized Mankind (Harcourt Brace & Company, New York, 1921); Popenoe and Johnson; and Lothrop Stoddard,
The Rising Tide of Color Against White Supremacy (Scribner, New York, 1920).13 Davenport, pp. iv-vi. In the initial years of the eugenics movement, "defectives"
included people deemed to be actual or potential criminals, "imbeciles," "insane,"
"feeble-minded," or paupers. Soon the eugenicists included "inferior
races." See, for instance, East, pp. 157-204 and 235, and Popenoe and Johnson,
pp. 281-97. The National Eugenics Record Office hired a eugenicist from Carnegie
Institute and a professor from Sweet Briar College in Amherst County to
study the Bear Mountain people. The resulting book, Mongrel Virginians, unfairlycharacterized the people as mentally defective and backward because of tri-racial
mixed blood. Cook, p. 94; Peter Houck and Mintcy D. Maxham,
Indian Island inAmherst County (Warwick House Publishing, Lynchburg, 1993), pp. 84-89; and J. David Smith,
Eugenic Assault, pp. 83-88. See also Arthur H. Estabrook and Ivan E. McDougle, Mongrel Virginians: The Win Tribe (Williams and Wilkins Company,Baltimore, 1926).
14 Cook, p. 68.
15 Ibid., pp. 59, 68, and 85.16
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and western novels had popularized stereotypical
Indian images, which looked nothing like
Virginia Indians. Most Americans
thought Indians lived only on reservations. See Cook, pp. 57-68; J. David Smith,
Eugenic Assault; Hix; and Houck and Maxham. 17 Madison Grant wrote The Passing of the Great Race (Arno Press, New York, 1916)and The Conquest of a Continent (Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1933). Harry
For more than three hundred years,
Virginia government officials chose
the race and intrinsic value of certain named individuals and their descendants
— thinking that these people, particularly those who might
pass for white, posed a threat to the Caucasian populace.
In the late nineteenth century some Latter-day Saint missionaries
visited Pedlar and Irish Creeks, at the top of the
Blue Ridge Mountains.
There they recognized residents as American Indians — precious remnants
of ancient
Israel — and baptized them. The dominant culture, however,
had already rejected all Indian heritage in
Virginia in what some
scholars have called "documentary genocide." 133 When Latter-day Saintuplanders left the isolation of the mountains to take jobs in valley industries
below, government classification of the members apparently influenced
even the missionaries. Yet members and their descendants insisted
upon their Indian identity. In 1951, one even used legal precedent to
prove it.134 Shortly thereafter, Latter-day Saint leadership ordained severalof the old upland members — ordinations that took place at the height
of racial tension in Virginia, sixteen years before the U.S. Supreme Court
deemed the Racial Integrity Act unconstitutional, 135 and twenty-sevenyears before all races of men became eligible to receive the lay priesthood.
Old diaries, church documents, and oral histories document this
Rockbridge story of courage and faithfulness through a crucible created
by race records. 1
1 Sherrie S. McLeroy and William R. McLeroy, Strangers in Their Midst: The Free Black Population of
Amherst County, Virginia (Pointer Ridge Place, Bowie, Maryland,1993), p. 4.
2 Samuel R. Cook, Monacans and Miners: Native American and Coal Mining Communities in
University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 2000), pp. 58-59,quoting William Walter Henning, ed., Statutes at Large: Being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia
(DeSilver, Philadelphia: 1823). See also Louise M. Hix, "Indiansof Oronoco,
Amherst County, Virginia" (St. Paul’s Episcopal Church files, Bear
Mountain, Virginia, 1941).
3 McLeroy and McLeroy, pp. 7, 18.
4 Indian Removal Act,
Ch. 148, 4 Stat. 411 (1830); McLeroy and McLeroy, pp. 41-42.
5 McLeroy and McLeroy , pp. 18-19. 6 Ibid. , pp. 9-10, 41-42.7 These Northern segregation laws excluded Northern blacks from rail cars, omnibuses,
stagecoaches, and steamboats, or sent them to separate compartments.
Northern segregation applied to churches, schools, prisons, hospitals, and cemeteries.
C. Van Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, third edition (
224 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 225
35 Originally, in 1830, the name of the church was "The
Church of Christ." In 1838,
its leader and prophet, Joseph Smith, said he received a revelation changing the
name to "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." The change emphasized
the restoration of the primitive gospel of Jesus Christ and the relationship
of Jesus Christ to members in the Latter-days. It also reflected the Biblical injunction
to avoid being called by the "name of a man." "Saints" was a more Biblically
appropriate nickname than "Mormonite" or "Mormon." Romans 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2;
Eph. 1:1; Eph. 4:12. See also Doctrine and Covenants 115:4; Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi
27:8; and B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Volume 1 (Deseret News Press, Salt Lake City, 1930), pp. 392-93.Latter-day Saints good-naturedly tolerate use of the nickname "Mormon." This
article uses the terms interchangeably.
36 Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Volume II, secondedition (Deseret News Press, Salt Lake City, 1948), pp. 436-40. See Armand
Mauss, All Abraham’s Children: Changing Mormon Conceptions of Race and Lineage
University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 2003), pp. 2-3.
37 Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 26:33. In the 1830s, Missourians drove the Saints outof
Missouri — a slave state — partly because the potential immigration of free
black Saints was perceived as "tampering with slaves." Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Volume I, second edition (Deseret NewsPress, Salt Lake City, 1951), pp. 377-79, and Leonard J. Arrington and David Bitton,
The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints (University of IllinoisPress, Urbana, 1992), pp. 48-49.
38 Both Elijah Abel and Walker Lewis were ordained elders in the time of Joseph
Smith. Abel was also ordained a seventy (the level of ordination higher than elder)
and he served three full-time missions for the church. Newell C. Bringhurst,
Saints, Slaves, and Blacks (Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 1981), pp.35-53 and 90, and Lester Bush Jr., "Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical
Overview," in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Spring 1973), pp. 17 and 33.39 Brigham Young, statement to the
Utah Territorial Legislature, February 5, 1852.
See also Bringhurst, p. 25. Mormon doctrine condemned "human bondage"
( Book of Mormon, Alma 27:9 and Mosiah
2:13; Doctrine and Covenants 98:5; 104:16-18, 83-84). Joseph Smith had once run for president on an anti-slavery platform,
but the Saints deeply distrusted abolitionists. As a result, Latter-day Saints attempted
to remain detached from both sides of the national controversy over
slavery. By 1850, only twenty-four free blacks and sixty or seventy Southern-immigrant
slaves lived in the isolated Latter-day Saint communities. Yet Mormons periodically
bought Indian children out of the irrepressible Indian-Mexican slave
trade so as to free them and nurture them. The Act in Relation to Service clearly
protected the adoption of Indian slave children and it protected the few slave
owners in
Utah. Certainly, Young and his advisers remembered Missouri violence
in the 1830s, directed against Mormon policies that appeared to welcome free
blacks to that slave state. Historians speculate that the Act might have been intended
to maintain Southern sympathy in a
U.S. Congress that was becoming
increasingly hostile to Mormon interests. They also speculate that the Act may
have made
Utah look more attractive to Southern converts. Possibly Governor
Young wanted to defend Utahans against Republican writers from back East who
accused Mormons of miscegenation that produced "an inferior race of people."
Most devout members of the Church avoided speculation because they believed
that Brigham Young spoke for God. In any event, the official ban againt blacks’
priesthood stayed in place until a revelation removed it in 1978. Arrington and
Bitton, pp. 150-51, and Bringhurst, pp. 54-56, 66-68, 99-100, 110, 126-30, and 225.
See also O. Kendall White Jr., "Boundary Maintenance, Blacks, and the Mormon
Priesthood," in The Journal of Religious Thought (Fall-Winter 1980-81). H. Laughlin wrote Eugenical Sterilization in the
United States (Psychopathic Laboratoryof the Municipal Court of Chicago, Chicago, 1922).
18 Two particularly powerful lobbyists were John Powell and Earnest Cox. Powell, a
well-known composer, was president of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of
America. Cox
helped found that organization and wrote the book White
America (White AmericanSociety, Richmond, 1925), pp. 13-57.
19 These categories meant descendants of white Anglo-Europeans, black Africans,
yellow Asians, red Native Americans, brown East Indians, and brown Polynesians.
Derryn E. Moten, "Racial Integrity or ‘Race Suicide’ —
Virginia’s Eugenic Movement,
W. E. B. Du Bois and the Work of Walter A. Plecker," in Negro History Bulletin
(April 1, 1999), p. 6.
20 In the year 1614, British colonizer John Rolfe married Chief Powhatan’s daughter,
Pocohantas, at least partially "for the good of the nation." Cook, p. 57, quoting
Sidney Kaplan, "Historical Efforts to Encourage White-Indian Intermarriage
in the
United States and Canada," in International Science Review (Summer 1990),pp. 126-32.
21 Acts of Assembly, Chapter 371, and Senate Bill 219, approved
March 20, 1924.
22 Cook, pp. 66 and 104, and Wood and Shields, p. 26.
23 Code of Virginia , Chapter 17.1 (1866); Title 5, §49 (1887).24 Acts of Assembly, Chapter 371, Senate Bill 219, approved
March 20, 1924.
25 Cook, pp. 108-111; McLeroy and McLeroy, pp. 17-18; and Moten, p. 2.26 In 1896, Edgar Whitehead described the
Bear Mountain people in Amherst as
Cherokee. Whitehead recorded their family stories of the 1830s, when clergymen
first told the
Bear Mountain Indian people to sit with the slaves in church
or leave — and they left. Their children were not allowed to attend white schools.
In response to Whitehead’s article, a few Methodist and Baptist home missionaries
Bear Mountain for the first time in fifty years, but they never stayed.
Finally, in 1908, the Episcopalians came to
Bear Mountain and built a mission
church, turning the log meeting-house into a mission school that served the
community until 1963. Cook, pp. 85-93; pp. Houck and Maxham, pp. 93-94; and
Wood and Shields, pp. 23-25.
27 Houck and Maxham, p. 81.
28 Sorrells v. Shields,
Circuit Court of Rockbridge County, court documents dated
November 1-15, 1924, and January 9-10, 1925. See also "Irish Creek Wedding
Plans Rattled State
’s Race Law," The Rockbridge Advocate (March 2003), pp. 41-46.29 (Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America, Richmond, circa 1925).
30 Cook, p. 109.
31 Ibid., p. 107, and Wood and Shields, pp. 27-28.32 "Surnames by Counties and Cities of Mixed Negroid Virginia Families Striving to
Pass as ‘Indian’ or White," with the cover letter from W. A. Plecker addressed to
"Local Registrars, Physicians, Health Officers, Nurses, School Superintendents
and Clerks of the Courts," January 1943.
33 Cook, pp. 57-68, and Houck and Maxham. See also Horace R. Rice, The Buffalo Ridge Cherokee: The Colors and Culture of a Virginia Communit y (
BRC Books, MadisonHeights, Virginia, 1991).
34 Houck and Maxham, pp. iv-vii.
226 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 227
47 J. Golden Kimball journal ,
January 11, 1884. 48 Ibid., January 13, 1884.49 For example, Elder Joseph Underwood Eldredge described a woman at a revival
"crying and rocking herself as [he had] seen a female Indian do when grieving
for dead friends." (Joseph Underwood Eldredge journal, August 23, 1885). J.
Golden Kimball described "incoherant prayers which were mixed up with groans
and moans" (J. Golden Kimball journal, January 13 and March 5, 1884). See also
Newell Kimball journal.
50 J. Golden Kimball journal,
January 20, 1884.
51 Ibid.,
January 23, 1884. 52 Ibid., January 23, 1884. In 1992, Alvin Woodrow Coleman and Garvis Wheelermentioned several people who had remembered their great-grandfather, Peter
H. Mason, when he was very old. All described Peter Mason as an "Indian" with
long, straight, "coal black" hair that "hung down to his hips." Alvin Woodrow
Coleman and Garvis Wheeler, interviews by author, December 27, 1992. Family
legends differ as to whether Peter Mason was an adopted Indian baby raised by
Mary Mason or whether he was actually Mary’s son. Donna Huffer, Fare Thee Well, Old Joe Clark: History of the
Clark Family of Rockbridge County (self-published, n.d.), p.330. Jay Hansford C. Vest connects Peter Mason to a Tuscarora/Nottoway Indian
of that surname who lived near the
Fort Christiana reservation in the early 1700s.
Vest points out that Mason had "likely a mixed blood from an Indian mother and
a non-Indian father at some point" in his ancestry, making bloodlines difficult to
trace. Letter to author,
June 19, 2009. See also Jay Hansford C. Vest, "From Nansemond
to Monacan: The Legacy of the Pochick-Nansemond among the Bear
Mountain Monacan," in American Indian Quarterly (Summer and Fall 2003), pp.781-806; Jay Hansford C. Vest, "The Origins of the Johns Surname: A Monacan
Ethonogenesis," in Quarterly Bulletin of the Archeological Society of Virginia (March2005), pp. 1-14; and Jay Hansford C. Vest, The Bobtail Stories: Growing Up Monacan
(State University Press of New York, Albany, forthcoming).
53 Nearly all members of the Cawtawba nation joined Mormonism in the 1880s. See
Charles M. Hudson, The Catawba Nation (University of Georgia Press, Athens,1970); Jerry D. Lee, "A Study of the Influence of the Mormon Church on the
Catawba Indians of South Carolina" (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University,
1976); and Columbia South Carolina Stake Fortieth Anniversary (Columbia, 1987),pp. 11-14 and 199-204.
54 Andrew Jensen, Encyclop edic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(Salt Lake City, 1941), p. 821; and Columbia South Carolina Stake Fortieth Anniversary,
pp. 13-14 and 201, quoting the Deseret News , July 31, 1885. See also E. S.[initials only], "In the Hands of the Lawless: A Missionary’s Experience in North
Carolina," in the Deseret News, April 20, 1887.55 Latter-day Saints believed that people of Israelite lineage had special responsibility
to gather together to welcome the second coming of the Messiah. They
thought the Tribe of
Judah would gather in Jerusalem to welcome the Messiah,
who was of the lineage of
Judah. The Messiah would also appear in the Western
hemisphere, however, as he had done in Book of Mormon times. Native Americans,who had descended from the Tribe of Joseph through Manasseh, had a special
responsibility to welcome the Messiah. White gentiles with "believing blood"
could be "adopted" into
Israel as part of the lineage of Joseph’s son, Ephriam,
and help with the American welcoming. See Genesis 9 ; Galatians 3:7 ; Given s, By the Hand of Mormon, pp. 67-69; and Mauss, pp. 2-4 and 43.56 But see Hix, Houck and Maxham, Rice, and Wood and Shields.
Joseph Smith’s early translations of some Egyptian papyri, canonized in 1880,
were used to explain the priesthood denial.
Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 1:1-
27; Moses 7:8, 12, 22. See Mauss, pp. 238-41. Smith’s translation lined up with a
large body of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European writing that interprets
4:15 to mean that the Lord marked Cain and his descendants withblack skin. By the mid-nineteenth century, these writers interpreted Genesis 9
to mean that Noah’s son, Ham, married one of Cain’s descendants and thereby
perpetuated the black race and its curse. Stephen R. Haynes, Noah’s Curse: The Biblical Justification for Slavery (
Oxford University Press, London, 2003), pp. 15-16and 99, and Mauss, p. 238.
The Book of Mormon told of a curse upon the Lamanites as well. The Book of Mormon
promised that repentance would lift the curse to offer full salvation to all
people, "black and white, bond and free." Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 26:25, 30:6.40 Garth N. Jones, "James Thompson Lisonbee:
San Luis Valley Gathering, 1876-
78," in Journal of Mormon History , (Spring 2002), p. 228. See Woodward, pp. 31-65.41
Davis Bitton, " Troublesome Bedfellows: Mormons and Other Minorities ," in The Mormon Graphic Image: Cartoons, Caricatures, and Illustrations, 1834-1914
(Universityof Utah Press, Salt Lake City, 1983), pp. 75-94. Brigham Young encouraged
Anglos and Indians to intermarry, and emphasized real marriages rather than
concubine arrangements. Mauss, p. 64.
42 Leonard J. Arrington and David Bitton, The Mormon Experience: A History of theLatter-day Saints (University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1992), pp. 156-157; Garold D. Barney,
Mormons, Indians, and the Ghost Dance Religion (University Press ofAmerica, Lanham, Maryland, 1986), pp. 69-228; Lawrence Coates, "The Mormons
and the Ghost Dance," in Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought (Winter 1985), pp. 89-111; Givens, By the Hand of Mormon (Oxford University Press USA,New York, 2002), p. 96; and Gregory E. Smoak, "The Mormons and the Ghost
Dance of 1890," in South Dakota History , (Fall 1986), pp. 269-94. See Book of Mormon,
title page; 2 Nephi
6:13-18; 2 Nephi 9:1-3; 2 Nephi 30:3-6.43 Arrington and Bitton, pp. 177-179. See also Horace Bushnell, Barbaris m: The First Danger: A Discourse for Home Missions
(American Home Mission Society, New York,1847), pp. 5-27; Newell Kimball journal, May 11, 1884 (Archives of the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, hereafter cited as "L.D.S. Archives"),
April 27, 1884; Joseph Bourne Clark, Leavening the Nation: the Story ofAmerican Home Missions (Baker and Taylor Co., New York, 1903), p. 238; and Platt Ward, ed.,
Methodism and the Republic: A View of the Home Field, Present Conditions, Needs and Possibilities (Board of Home Missions and Church Extension of theMethodist Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, 1912), p. 89.
44 Although a missionary might be young in years, the title "elder" indicated priesthood
rank and call to mission work. Arrington and Bitton, pp. 206-07.
45 J. Golden Kimball journal,
December 30, 1883, University of Utah archives, Salt
Lake City
46 They had struggled through the mud to get up and over the ridge of the mountains
to Oronoco (J. Golden Kimball journal, December 30, 1883). A few months
later, Elder Joseph Underwood Eldredge wrote that the missionary "diagram" he
used to get up to Pedlar Creek was "about as comprehensive and useful as a map
of the
Valley of Jehosephat." He described Oronoco as "merely a post office,"
noting that people lived "in a scattered condition in the woods." Michael W.
Eldredge, ed., The Mission Journals of Joseph Underwood Eldredge, Virginia Conference of the Southern States Mission (Mill Creek Press, Salt Lake City, 1992), entries datedNovember 3 and 4, 1884.
228 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 229
68 Ibid.,
February 3, 1884. 69 Ibid., February 18, 1884. From the context of Kimball’s journal, it appears thatMarvel Mason was the "Mr. Mason" who initially assisted Elders Kimball and
Welch on Pedlar Creek.
70 Index to Ward Record of Members and Children of the Virginia Conference of
the Virginia Conference of the Southern States
Mission, 1875-1930, hereafter
"Index of Members" (L.D.S. Archives).
71 J. Golden Kimball journal,
January 17, 1884, and Peter Peterson journal, October
4, 1888
, to September 27, 1889. See also Southern Star, September 28, 1884;" Virginia Conference," Deseret News , October 20, 1884; N. L Nelson, "Conference in Virginia,"
Deseret News , September 13, 1886; "The Outlook in Virginia," DeseretNews, October 13, 1886; and Josiah Burrows, "Conference in Virginia," Deseret News
, October 20, 1887.72 Sarah Mason Whitmore and Susan Mason Knowles, International Genealogical
Index,, and Peter Peterson journal, May 21, 1889.
73 See immigration notes in the margins of the Index of Members. Many families
gathered to
Manassas, Colorado, although some went to Utah, Idaho, and Arizona.
74 Irish Creek residents housed at least nine elders when they met for a conference
October 15-16, 1887. Josiah Borrows, "Conference in Virginia," Deseret Evening News, October 20, 1887.75 John W. Tate, letter to his wife, Lizzie (in possession of descendant Barbara Jo
Lee Baldwin),
February 15, 1888.
76 Disciples of Christ, as well as members of the Churches of Christ and the
(often called "Campbellites" by outsiders), believed in a restoration
of the primitive church of the New Testament. They called themselves
"Disciples" or "Christians," because they did not follow anyone but Christ and
rejected all denominationalism. The non-centralized Churches of Christ and
Christian Churches shared some practices with "Primitive Baptists" and other
independent upland religious people. G. R. Hand, Dr. Ray’s Textbook on Campbellism,Exposed (Christian Publishing Co., Washington, D.C., 1880), p. vi; Terryl L. Givens,
The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy (OxfordUniversity Press, Oxford, 1997), p. 68; McCauley, pp. 65-68; Frank S. Mead
and Samuel S. Hill, Handbook of Denominations in the United States , eleventh edition(Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2001), pp. 103-13.
77 Index of Members (immigrated to
San Pete County, Utah, in November 1890).
See Peter Peterson journal, June-August, 1889.
Sidney Rigdon, a minister and close associate of Alexander Campbell, helped
bring forth the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement on the Appalachian frontier
in the 1820s. Rigdon believed that Joseph Smith’s latter-day visions provided
miraculous proof of the restoration of primitive Christianity. He and his large
congregation converted to Mormonism in
Ohio in 1831. Rigdon then helped
develop many of the religious practices inherent to Mormonism. Claudia Lauper
Bushman and Richard Lyman Bushman, Building the Kingdom: A History ofMormons in America (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2001), p. 12; Givens, By the Hand of Mormon,
pp. 67 and158-159; and Henry E. Webb, In Search of ChristianUnity: A History of the Restoration Movement (Standard Publishing, Cincinnati, 1990), pp. 142-43. See also J. H. Milburn,
Origin of Campbellism (Regan PrintingHouse, Chicago, 1913), title page and pp. 34-51.
57 See Arrington and Bitton, pp. 145-58, and David J. Whittaker, "Mormons and
Native Americans: A Historical and Bibliographical Introduction," in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought(Winter 1985), pp. 33-64.58 Newell Kimball journal,
May 11, 1884. The fact that several missionaries who visited
Pedlar Creek did not mention skin color with regard to the Masons indicates
that they did not consider them black. The elders mentioned black skin so often
in other communities that they surely would have mentioned it in this one had
they seen it. See, for example, Joseph Underwood Eldredge journal, 1884-85;
Newell Kimball journal, 1882-84; and Peter Peterson journal, 1888-89 (L.D.S.
59 See Givens, By the Hand of Mormon , pp. 99 and 127.60 Newell Kimball journal,
June 4, 1884.
61 J. Golden Kimball journal, January 23-24 and
March 3, 1884. Peter H. Mason was
finally baptized on
May 21, 1888. International Genealogical Index, L.D.S. Ordinance
Records, It was commonplace for Appalachian uplanders
to wait years for baptism or to never opt for it. Deborah Vansau McCauley,
Appalachian Mountain Religion: A History (University of Illinois Press, Urbana andChicago, 1995), pp. 14-17, 21, and 101.
62 J. Golden Kimball journal,
January 24, 1884; Newell Kimball journal, June 2,
63 J. Golden Kimball journal,
January 24, 1884; Peter Peterson journal, December
1 and
March 20, 1889.
64 "Mormon Elders Reported Murdered by Masked Men in
Tennessee," Deseret EveningNews, August 12, 1884, and "What a Man from Evansville Learned in Tennessee,"
Deseret Evening News , September 2, 1884. Heather M. Seferovich, "History ofthe Southern States Mission, 1875-1898" (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1996), pp. 123-37; William Whitridge Hatch,
Mormons in the Southern States: ACentury of Religious Bigotry, Murder, and Civil Mayhem, 1831-1923 (self-publishe d, 2003);
Columbia South Carolina, p. 215, quoting an article from the New York Sun ,July 26, 1887 ("KKK Raid on Mormon Meeting near Augusta, Georgia"); J. T.
Heniger, correspondence, Deseret News , February 7, 1884; Newel Kimball journal,April 27 and May 18, 1884; Henry Charles Eddington journal, February 26, 1887
(L.D.S. Archives); Peter Peterson journal, November 29-30, 1888, and July 28,
1889; and Thomas C. Romney journal, February 24, 1898 (L.D.S. Archives). See
also Milo A. Hendricks’ letter to Josiah Burrows, December 23, 1887 (published
in the Deseret Evening News , February 10, 1888) and John W. Tate, letter to hiswife, Lizzie (December 23, 1887), in possession of descendent Barbara Jo Lee
Baldwin). These letters describe mobsters near Irish Creek in
Rockbridge County
seriously injuring Elders Tate and Hendricks by blasting them with doublebarreled
shotguns. They also threatened to cut the elders’ hearts out with razors.
65 J. Golden Kimball journal,
March 5, 1884. One should not confuse Appalachian
Mountain Baptists with members of mainstream Baptist denominations. Historian
J. H. Spencer wrote in 1885 that the various sects of Baptists in the
had "seceded" from the "real" Baptists even though they hung onto the
name. McCauley, p. 23, citing J. H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists from 1769 to 1885 , revised and corrected by Mrs. Burrilla B. Spencer (J. R. Baumes,Cincinnati, 1885; reprinted by Church History Research and Archives, Gallatin,
Tennessee, 1984).
66 J. Golden Kimball journal, January 24, February 3, and
February 4, 1884.
67 Ibid.,
January 29,1884.
230 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 231
On October 17, 1897, missionaries organized a Sunday school in the mountains
near Oronoco with James W. Stinnette as superintendent and Mary L. Mason as
secretary. "Sunday Schools Organized, "Index of Members, 290.
February 24, 1898, missionaries organized a Sunday school in Buena Vista
with Elmer Crown as superintendent. After the organization of the Sunday
school, an armed mob confronted Elders Thomas Romney and Joseph B. Kendall,
threatening to whip them with hickory switches and shoot them. After keeping
the elders up most of the night, the mobsters put both of them on the train to
Basic City, now part of Waynesboro, in Augusta County, warning that they would
kill them if they ever came back. MH, February 24, 1898; David M. Mayfield, assistant
church librarian archivist, in a letter to Aubrey Coleman,
April 22, 1976
(Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
Buena Vista Stake Family History
Buena Vista; hereafter BV Family History Library).
July 8, 1911, Elder Isaac C. MacFarlane reorganized the Buena Vista Sunday
School with Jacob Mason as superintendent and George Coleman as his assistant.
July 8, 1911.
August 17, 1912, missionaries organized a Sunday school near Cornwall with
R. M. Southers as superintendent. MH,
August 17, 1912.
93 MH,
June 15, 1918; Liahona , Southern States Mission, Chattanooga, Tennessee(1918), 16:895.
94 MH
July 13, 1918; Liahona , 16:942.95 A priesthood holder named R. S. Gilley helped with the conference. Gilley was
not listed in the membership records of Rockbridge or
Amherst counties between
1884 and 1918. Even though this
August 24, 1918, entry includes the word
"branch," no other record of a local branch president exists for that year. Perhaps
a traveling elder served as branch president, or the word "branch" was used in
error. Liahona , 18:1037.96 Missionaries stopped in
Buena Vista in 1920 to preach a funeral for "Brother
Staten," but then the record went blank for seventeen years. Centralized church
leadership continued to support the congregation near Collierstown, however,
where ethnicity never became an issue, and to make routine
Virginia entries in
mission records. See MH,
September 29, 1929.
97 MH,
April 13, 1921. The Virginia District became part of the East Central States
Mission in 1928, but no entries were made for Buena Vista until 1937, when a
new church was dedicated by William Tew, president of the East Central States
Mission. Later, Virginia joined the Central Atlantic States Mission. Buena Vista
had one entry in 1944 and one in 1953. In 1957, continuous entries began once
again. See David M. Mayfield, assistant church librarian archivist, in a letter to
Aubrey Coleman,
April 22, 1976 (BV Family History Library).
98 Will Southers (1898-1994), interview with author,
December 26, 1992. Garvis
Wheeler said that Jacob Mason was "one of the greatest Biblical scholars around
here." Garvis Wheeler, interview with author, December 27, 1992.
99 When the missionaries first left, local members sometimes wrote to the mission
home to ask that elders be sent to lay hands upon family members who were ill
or to baptize them. If missionaries were passing through, they stopped. But even
those visits ended in 1925. See Lizzie Wadsworth Clemmer (granddaughter of
Esau Mason, baptized in 1923), handwritten manuscript, (BV Family History Library,
July 9, 1992); Alvin Woodrow Coleman, interview with G. Douglas Larsen,
October 13, 1997 (BV Family History Library); Thelma Lilley Conner, unpublished
manuscript, (BV Family History Library, circa 1985); and Lizzie South-
79 For a discussion of these changes, see Thomas G. Alexander, Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890-1930 (University of Illinois Press, Urbana,1996).
80 Royster Lyle Jr., "
Buena Vista and its Boom, 1889-1891," Proceedi ngs of the Rockbridge Historic Society
, Volume 8 (1971). See generally David E. Whisnant, All that Is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region (University of NorthCarolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1983).
81 Plessy v.
Ferguson , 163 U.S. 537 (1896), and Code of Virginia , Chapter 4, §28 (1902).For an excellent overview of segregation in the United States, see Woodward.
82 Edward J. Eardley letter,
Deseret Weekly , April 30, 1890. See also Oren F. Morton, A History of Rockbridge County
(The McClure Co., Staunton, 1920), p. 154, and Lyle," Buena Vista and Its Boom, 1889-1891."
83 Morton, 154.
84 In 1895 and 1896, the Southern states mission president counseled all elders
to discourage immigration, organize local congregations, and ordain lay priesthood
leaders for those congregations. Elias Kimball letters to Southern states
May 23, 1895, and March 25, 1896 (L.D.S. archives).
85 Thomas Romney journal,
December 22, 1895. Thomas Romney’s father had
moved his wives and families to
Mexico when the federal government outlawed
polygamy. Romney’s mission journal does not say whether he told the mayor why
his family lived in
Mexico. See Catharine Cottam Romney and Jennifer Moulton
Hansen, eds., Letters of Catharine Cottam Romney, Plural Wife (University of IllinoisPress, Urbana, 1992).
86 Ibid. It may be worth noting here that the N-word, in its earliest use, was "a racialdesignation apparently without rancorous intent"; "the high degree of offensiveness
attached to this term per se . . . has increased markedly over time, perhaps
especially in the twentieth century." J. E. Lighter, ed., Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang,Volume 2 (Random House, New York, 1997), pp.656-57.
87 David Call journal,
September 3, 1897 (L.D.S. Archives).
88 The "
Amherst County Register of Free Blacks, 1822-1864" included the names of
Peter and "Deannah" Mason, together with seven of their children. McLeroy and
McLeroy, p. 177.
89 Elias Kimball letters to Southern States missionaries,
May 23, 1895, and March
25, 1896
(L.D.S. archives).
90 Index of Members, Ordinations, 40. See also F. W. Neve, "Some Mountain Missions
Virginia," in The Spirit of Missions: An Illustrated Monthly Review of Christian Missions (December 1901), pp. 806-07.91 "Ordinations," Index of Members, 40. For a discussion of Latter-day Saint congregational
organization (branches, wards, and stakes), see Arrington and Bitton,
pp. 206-19 and 292-93.
92 On
October 10, 1897, missionaries organized a Sunday school in the mountains
near Collierstown with Joseph Knick as superintendent. The Collierstown Sunday
School was reorganized
May 5, 1917, and local members built a church house
at about the same time. Ethnicity was never an issue in Collierstown. See "Sunday
Schools Organized," Index of Members, 290; Southern States Manuscript History
(hereafter MH) (L.D.S. Archives), August 16, June 4, and
May 5, 1916.
232 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII Proceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII 233
A. Pocock and author, September 4-8, 2003; "Farewell Testimonial[s] Given in
Honor of Elder Alvin Pocock Who Will Leave Shortly for the East Central States
Mission" (25th Ward, Salt Lake City, Utah: 1930, 1934).
109 Alexander, pp. 48-49.
110 The twelve tribes of Israel are Judah, Levi, Dan, Naphtali, Asher, Simeon, Zebulun,
Benjamin, Gad, Joseph, Reuben, and Issachar ( Genesis, 35:22-26).111 Elijah Clark, interview with Wilford Teerlink, December 12, 1990; Alvin Woodrow
Coleman, interview with G. Douglas Larsen, (BV Family History Library, undated);
Lizzie Southers manuscript; Nellie Cash Clark Southers, interview with
author, December 26, 1992; Will Southers (1898-1994), interview with author,
December 26, 1992; and Alvin Pocock manuscript.
112 Lizzie Southers manuscript and Will Southers, interview with author,
26, 1992
113 Reid Tippitts journal,
May 30, 1937 (L.D.S. Archives). See also entries of April 25
May 31, 1937.
114 Peggy Cash Goodsell, interview with author, January 5, 2003, and "A Brief History
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Area of Buena Vista,
Virginia" ( BV Family History Library, 1978).
115 All worthy members could partake of this bread and water to remember Christ’s
broken flesh and the blood he shed to atone for their sins. By participating,
members also promised to take upon themselves the name of Christ, always to
remember him, and to keep his commandments. 1 Corinthians 11: 23-25; Doctrine and Covenants 27: 2.116 Tursell Larsen and Flora Larsen Patterson, interview with author, June 5, 1992;
Program from the Waynesboro Branch Dedicatory Services (May 21, 1978) 6-7.
117 Elijah Clark, interview with Wilford Teerlink,
December 12, 1990.
118 Claude Edward Clark, interview with author,
December 26, 1992.
119 Letter from W. E. Larsen to William S. Tanner,
May 1, 1951, and letter from Elder
Wm. S. Tanner to Brother Larsen,
May 3, 1951 (in possession of descendant
G. Douglas Larsen). The names of many
Clarks appear on the Amherst’s antibellum
register of free blacks. McLeRoy and McLeroy, pp. 53-213.
120 For a discussion of Appalachian Mountain beliefs with regard to going "straight
to the throne" for divine guidance, see McCauley, pp. 14-17, 21, 78, 95, 101, and
121 Claude Edward Clark, interview with author,
December 26, 1992 and Wayne
Larsen, interview with author,
October 15, 1993.
122 Claude Edward Clark, interviews with author,
December 26, 1992, and September
9, 2002
. See Genesis 9.123 Claude Edward Clark, interview with author, December 26, 1992.
124 People in Virginia who considered themselves Indians and were barred from
marriage to neighbors with white vital statistics often chose intermarriage within
their own small communities over searching for African American mates in unknown
communities. Claude Edward Clark, interview with author, December 26,
1992; Garvis Wheeler, interview with author, December 27, 1992; and Wood and
Shields, p. 27. See also Arthur H. Estabrook and Ivan E. McDougle, Mongrel Virginians, and Morton, p. 139.ers, unpublished manuscript edited by G. Douglas Larsen, (BV Family History
Library, 1974).
100 For insight into Appalachian mountain religion and how it differs from mainstream
Protestant denominations, see Loyal Jones, Faith and Meaning in the Southern Uplands (University of Chicago Press, Urbana, 1999); McCauley; andWhisnant.
101 Myrtle Wilhelm Coleman, interview with author,
December 27, 1992.
102 Thelma Lilley Conner manuscript; Will Southers, interview with author, December
26, 1992; and Garvis Wheeler, interview with author, December 27, 1992.
103 Myrtle Wilhelm Coleman, interview with author,
December 26, 1992.
104 Elders
Alvin Pocock and John E. Paget. Alvin Pocock handwritten manuscript,
transcribed and edited by Steven A. Pocock on
September 4, 2003 (L.D.S. archives,
circa 1960).
105 Will Southers (1898-1994), interview with author,
December 26, 1992; Alvin
Pocock manuscript, circa 1960; and Lizzie Southers manuscript. Alvin Pocock
wrote, "I met a fine man there [near
Cornwall] by the name of William Southers.
We baptized his wife into the Church. Will was already a member and a good one
at that!" Pocock also recorded several stories about the multiple meetings he and
Elder Paget held there for audiences as large as 600. On the first Sunday he was
there, he said that a female minister showed up for the meeting, where people
were already sitting on hayracks outside. She brought her whole congregation,
with their Bibles, in the backs of five trucks. Pocock said, "I quoted scripture
faster than the minister could find it, even as I gave her chapter and verse. Of
course, the rest of their congregation was like a lot of Mormons, unlearned in
the letter and word, and could not find the quotations I was giving them by the
Years later Will Southers sent Alvin Pocock a telegram asking him to come to
Cornwall. The minister’s daughter had prophesied that she would die in a month
and wanted Elder Alvin Pocock to preach at her funeral. Pocock preached the
funeral and the minister’s congregation provided the music. Alvin Pocock manuscript,
circa 1960.
106 Elijah Clark, interview with Wilford Teerlink, December 12, 1990, and Nellie
Cash Clark Southers, interview with author, December 26, 1992.
107 Will Southers (1898-1994), interview with author,
December 26, 1992.
108 Brigham D. Madsen, Against the Grain: Memoirs of a Western Historian (SignatureBooks, Salt Lake City, 1998), p. 85.
Alvin Pocock knew that some other elders thought he had baptized African
Americans in and near
Buena Vista in 1932 and again in his second mission
there, from 1934 to 1936. Elder Maurice P. Monson, who held a leadership position
at the mission home in
Louisville, initially applauded the Buena Vista baptisms,
but later insisted that Pocock had baptized blacks. Pocock wrote, "Little did
he know." Then Pocock added, "There was a great deal of prejudice concerning
the color and different class of people there. But who am I to pass judgment on
people? It says in Acts 17:26, ‘God had made all men of one blood.’ So I labored
among them. . . ." He said that the people diligently did their own genealogy and
the research showed that they were "Cherokee Indians." He noted that two early
missionaries, B. H. Roberts and J. Golden Kimball, also believed that they were
Indians. Alvin Pocock manuscripts, circa 1960 (includes a clipping from an unnamed
mission publication, circa 1932); email correspondence between Steven
234 P roceedings of the Rockbridge Historical Society — Volume XIII
125 Claude Edward Clark, interview with author,
December 26, 1992. The author
has in her possession seventy-six pages of the Atha Sorrells court documents that
Claude Edward Clark printed from his grandfather’s microfilm.
126 Ernest Lilley married Fannie Clark in June 1933. Fannie Lilley Conner, unpublished
manuscript, circa 1982; "History of the Latter-day Saints in
Buena Vista,"
1993 (BV Family History Library); and Claude Edward Clark, interview with author,
December 26, 1992.
127 "History of the Latter-day Saints in
Buena Vista," 1993 (BV Family History Library),
and International Genealogical Index,
128 Hansford Vest, "The Gospel and Jacob Lee Hamilton," unpublished manuscript,
circa 1980 (BV Family History Library).
129 "History of the Latter-day Saints in
Buena Vista," (BV Family History Library,
1993). A branch president presides over small congregations, called branches. A
bishop presides over larger congregations, called wards.
130 Claude Edward Clark, interview with author,
December 26, 1992.
131 Brochure for Southern
Virginia University, 2003. Because of the university’s
rapid growth, several large congregations of Latter-day Saints attend church in
Rockbridge County every Sunday.
132 Juanita Wheeler, interview with author,
July 25, 2003.
133 J. David Smith, "Legal Racism and Documentary Genocide: Dr. Plecker’s Assault
on the Monacan Indians," in Lynches Ferry: A Journal of Local History (Spring/Summer 1992) and Houck and Maxham, p. 193.
134 In the twenty-first century, establishing Indian identity in
Virginia remains difficult
in the face of hundreds of years of records that support the contrary. While
genetic testing can be useful in establishing relationships, it is less reliable in
proving or disproving Indian identity. See Eric Beckenhauer, "Redefining Race:
Can Genetic Testing Provide Biological Proof of Indian Ethnicity?" Stanford LawReview, volume 56, number 1 (2003); Christian Sundquist, "The Meaning of Race in the
DNA Era: Science, History and the Law," in
Temple Journal of Science,Technology & Environmental Law (Fall 2008); Kim TallBear, "Can
DNA Determine Who is American Indian?", in
Indian Country Today (December 3, 2003). 135 Loving v. Virginia , 338
U.S. 1 (1967).136 Doctrine and Covenants, Official Declaration 2 (1978).