Friday, February 5, 2010

1887, December 23rd, Irish Creek, Virginia, Shooting!

I received a note from a disappointed John Morgan descendant. She couldn’t find her Great Grandfather, John William Tate, in front of the Carr Cabin with President Morgan, posted here. John W. Tate began serving a mission to the Southern States Mission, October 31, 1887, arriving there after the conference.

Several sources record John William Tate serving with Elder Milo A. Hendricks, who may be pictured at the Carr cabin near Irish Creek. On December 23, 1887, they were making their way towards that cabin.

1887, December
Some threatening indulged in many parts of the Mission, but nothing of a serious nature occurred until the 23rd inst. When Elders Milo Hendricks and Jno. W. Tate, of the Virginia Conference were shot near Irish Creek, Rockbridge County, each, in his right leg. They were making their way from Stony River to some of the Saint’s homes, and, in passing along a road running past Jack Ramsey’s house, they were rudely accosted by himself and two young men and prevented from proceeding further. They turned and went another road and in the meantime, Ramsey and the young men had taken a short path and intercepted them on their way. After more threatening and the brethren had turned to take still another road, Ramsey fired both barrels of his gun, the first only taking effect. Sixteen (16) shots were found in Elder Tate’s leg and six (6) in Elder Hendrick’s. The Elders had a hard task in reaching the home of friends, where their wounds could be dressed. There was no further trouble to the end of the month.from John Morgan History of the Southern States Mission, in the Marriott Collection, and from Latter Day Saints Southern Star – Google Books, Vol 1, Pgs. 289-290. Milo A. Hendricks’ wrote a letter to Josiah Burrows, 23 December 1887, about this event, later published in the Deseret Evening News, 10 February 1888 (I could not locate it).

In 1909 Elder John William Tate’s daughter, Ethyl Sophia Tate Morgan, married President John Hamilton Morgan’s son, Nicholas Groesbeck Morgan. Their granddaughter sent me a copy of Elder Tate’s journal account of the shooting, and his entries for the month following. And permission to use it here. Thank you, Karen!

From Elder John William Tate’s journal.
Friday, December 23, 1888. Left Bro. LeRoy Campbells at 9 a.m. for Bro. John Carrs, calling on the way on Mrs. Campbell. After we had got almost to within a quarter of a mile from Bro. Carrs on nearing the place of one Jack Ramsey, one of his sons (Charley) called out to one of his chums by name James Lotts to come on & have some fun. By this we knew that something was up. Mr. Ramsey ordered the boys back to the house, we continued on our way up the narrow passageway that led us to our destination, but on nearing Mr. Ramseys house we found him standing in the road with a double barrelled[sic] shot gun, on something to within four or five yards of him he commanded us to stop, saying at the same time that he didn’t want any [expletives] crossing through his land.

We told him that if we had trespassed on him in passing over the regular traveled thoroughfare that we would pay him for such damage or he could take us before the courts make us pay it or suffer the penalty. We did not think we were infringing as we supposed it to be a public road. He said he did not intend to take us before the Courts, but would give us the contents of this (meaning the gun) & we could take him before the Courts.

I told him that I was not aware that I had been trespassing in going this way. He said he did not really blame or mean me, but said Mr. Hendricks knew of it. Bro. Hendricks said he had never been forbidden to go this way, by this he moved away a little & said you go up the way if you want to but if you do you take the consequences. We again told him we did not wish to intrude & would go around, at this he said in a threatening manner & with most foul & profane & abusive language “To Get” during this conversation his son & Mr. Lotts came out threateningly but he ordered them back saying he would attend to this business himself.

After trying to reason with him that we did not come here to work against the people but do them good if we could, we turned around & retraced our steps a short way when taking the road went around about a half a mile when turning up another road which after traveling about two hundred yards on looking up who should I see but Mr. Ramsey sitting on a log with the gun pointing toward us. I called Bro. Hendricks’ attention, but not before we had to within four or five yards from him. By this time Mr. Ramsey had jumped up with a string of oath that the devil would be ashamed off [sic] & said we had run into it now & would get it this time.

Bro. Hendricks laid down the hand satchel & told him that we was not aware that this was his ground & asked him to show us the way to where we wished to go. The answer was with an oath—“You find it.” (just previous to this our last meeting Bro. Hendricks & myself were talking about the first affair & other things in which the names of Mr. Ramsey, his son & Mr. Lotts names were mentioned, which they having heard their names it seemed to put the devil into them to a two fold greater degree, for on Mr. Ramsey saying they had heard us mention their names, when Mr. Lotts pulled his coat in which was a pistol & drawing his knife (razor) said he would cut our
[expletives] hearts out, Mr. Ramsey all the time having his gun drawn upon us both hammers up, swearing & cursing all the time that we “were going to get it this time as we had run into it.”

After finding it was no use talking with them we turned and retraced our steps a second time, but had not gone more than ten or twelve yards before we had the contents of one barrell[sic] in each of our right legs. On this we broke in a run when a second shot was fired, but only received a few shots of it. From the way we felt there were quite a number of the first shot in our legs. I was a little behind Bro. Hendricks & a little to his left, therefore, my right leg shielded his left & we both took it principally [sic] in our right legs although I was hit with some in my left, after this we went away around by the County Road out of Nelson Co. to Rockbridge Co. by way of Rawlins Store, thence to Sister Steels on Irish Creek. I found that one shot had passed through to my glove & most through the little finger of my right hand, which after arriving at Sister Steels I cut out.

We had dinner & rested ourselves some. Br. Hendricks rode to P. O. but got no mail from home, which was somewhat disheartening to me, as it had been some eleven days since hearing from the home, the last news stating they were sick. After resting some, we then started for Bro. Carrs by another road, where we arrived just at dusk, having traveled some 5 or 6 miles to get there & not being more than three or four hundred yards off when were stopped & shot.

Up to this time although our wounds were very painful we had not examined them. Bro. & Sister Carr were not at home when we went in but when they came they were very indignant and enraged against Mr. Ramsey for the mean act he had done, saying that Ramsey & his son and Lotts had passed his house in the morning cursing & swearing against the Mormons etc.

After supper we undertook to examine our wounds & found that Bro. Hendricks had got some twelve shot, six of which was in very deep. The others mostly only going through his clothing. On examination of myself I found I had received some forth shot through my clothing, some fifteen in my right leg, 3 in my left, one in my right arm, one in the back of my left hand & one through the little finger of my right hand, making some twenty-one effectual shot. I cut out some & there were some fifteen shot in my right leg that were in too deep for me to get out & if got out would have to be done by an experienced surgeon, the principal ones that pained me were on the girders of my right leg. After rubbing our wounds with St. Jacobs oil & Camphor, we retired to try to sleep.

In concluding the recording of this days events, Bro. Carr said some time after the shooting which was about twelve o’clock, Mr. Ramsey, his son & Mr. Lotts came around their place & crossed over on an elevated rise so as to see if we came to Bro. Carrs, but as we did not come til about dark, they left about sundown. From this it appears that they were not satisfied but wanted to give us more.

I never saw a more demon-like person than Mr. Ramsey when we met him the second time as he sat upon the log in the bushes & when he got up & came to within ten feet of us, both hammers of the gun up & pointed directly at our bodies, loaded as we afterward found heavily with No. 3 shots. Also Mr. Lotts jerking his coat in which a pistol could be seen & flourishing a razor & saying we would cut our
[expletives] hearts out, during which most foul cursing & swearing was going on.

On the other hand two men, ministers of life & salvation stood unarmed, doing harm to no one, trying to talk reason to them. After which finding no use to talk to them to be shot at like dogs & hit with somewhere near 60 shot in us, & on starting to run, was hooted at “go you
[expletives] Mormon cowards.” Is no pleasant picture to be a witness off [sic], much more a recipient off [sic]. However he that is the rewarded [sic] of all mankind will reward all men for the deeds done in the body. They will get the full penalty of their misdeeds.

And again all rational people will see the folly & evil in such a course & I think the same or the tragedy will make us more friends than enemies in this part of the country & while our reward will be a blessing in eternity & in the Kingdom of God, the commuters[sic] of the act although drunk will have to suffer the penalty eternally.

(To be continued.)
Note: I inserted some paragraph returns in this document. Thank you to descendant Karen M. for sharing her great grandfather's journal and picture.