Thursday, October 8, 2009

John Morgan Journal, missionaries jailed, 1885; May 14-22.

Red Butte Garden trail, Salt Lake City, Utah, September, 2009

[Editor’s note: Motivated by these two very interesting posts at Amateur Mormon Historian and The Ancestor Files, I decided to add the following information from John Morgan’s Journal.

In an earlier post John Morgan and his wife, Annie Smith Morgan (married 1884) and their baby Annie Ray (born 14 Dec 1884), are making a second attempt (April 13, 1885) to travel East to the Southern States Mission.]

May 14
[Chattanooga, Tennessee] Went out with Annie trading this a.m. During the day received a telegram from Elder C. F. Christensen stating that he had been arrested in Carter Co., Tenn. for preaching polygamy. Wired him in reply and wrote him and Gen. Jno. T. Wilder in regard to the matter. Mailed a circular letter to the Elders in the mission.

May 15Called on Maj. McGuffey and showed him Elder Christensen’s letter and had a talk with him on the subject.

May 16
Received a letter from Elder Christensen stating that they had been sent to jail at Elizabethtown, Carter Co. … I have now done all I can for the brethren here and leave tonight on the 7:10 p.m. train to go to them, trusting in the God of Isreal [sic, probably typo] to protect us.

From May 14-21, John Morgan details his course in his journal. He approaches one official to obtain a letter of introduction to the next, ultimately acquiring the needed introductions, letters and signatures to proceed. Satisfying each demand, President Morgan traveled from Chattanooga to Johnsons City, to Elizabethton. He returns to Chattanooga, then to Knoxville, and back to Johnsons City, and on to Elizabethton on May 21, accompanied by the needed authorities, signatures and papers to free his missionaries. In the following journal sample President Morgan describes meeting his jailed missionaries. (Click on the following image to enlarge. Hopefully you will be able to read this poor copy.)

May 18 Bought the boys some lemon and sugar to make a drink.

May 21 [arrived Elizabethton] … at 7:55 a.m. I went directly to the jail and met the brethren. Both of them were quite well and feeling well and after a short interview, I went to the Hotel and met Mr. Collins on the way. Together we went to the Synder House and had quite a talk on the subject. Col. T. [Col. Jacob Thomburg, of Mess. Thomburg and Andrews of Knoxville] had gone out into town to make an impression and look around. About 11 he returned and the bond was shown to him and in a few moments it was presented to the jailor with Col. T. as security. It was accepted and the brethren were immediately released. All of us met at the Snyder House for dinner. Feeling splendid at the result of our labors which, through the blessing of the Lord, had results in their release. After dinner, we walked out to the spring above town and called on the jailer and wife and thanked them for courtesies extended. At 3:20 the Col. And myself took train for Johnsons leaving the Elders to return to their fields of labor tomorrow. Arrived at Johnsons at 4 p.m. and wrote a few letters. Afterwards went to bed to rest until the 1:55 a.m. train arrived.

May 22
Took train at Johnson at 1:55 and came to Chattanooga parting with Col. Thomburg at Knoxville. Found Annie and baby well. …

[Note: This section of my John Morgan Journal copy ends June 17, 1885. When the additional pages I’ve ordered from the Marriott Library, Special Collections, are available I will look for an entry that might answer the Amateur Mormon Historian’s query, “I wonder when President Morgan went back to eastern Tennessee and noticed the court records.”]


  1. Wow. Thanks for posting this. It's interesting to see the same event covered by several different sources.

  2. This is cool. I wait for the next instalment with baited breath.