Monday, February 9, 2009

Gratitude for Missionary Service in North Carolina

Early North Carolina Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint records tell us that Josiah and Sarah Tuttle were both baptized by Elder W. W. Clark; Josiah was confirmed by Elder Clark and Sarah was confirmed a member of the Church by Elder Peter M. Folkman on 2 April 1891. The Little Yadkin River in Stokes County, North Carolina was used for this purpose.

We owe much to these two Elders who served missions for the Chur
ch in North Carolina. They left their families, homes and livelihoods to share the Gospel and little is recorded of the trials they faced on this mission.

Wilford Woodruff Clark was born in Farmington, Davis County, Utah on
2 February of 1863. He spent much of his life in Idaho, particularly Montpelier, Georgetown and the Bear Lake area. He served as a bishop in Montpelier, Idaho before being called to fill a mission to North Carolina in the Southern States Mission from 24 May 1889 to 25 June 1891. He later served as a stake patriarch and also was a member of the Idaho State Legislature in 1895-96; and a member of the Senate 1903-04 and several positions of a commercial nature.

Elder Peter Marcus Folkman was born in Plain City, Weber County, Utah on 15 February 1866. In winter months, he owned and operated an ice house with over 20 men employed with him. During the warmer months, he put the ice to good use by driving a meat wagon with a bell. He went up and down the streets of Plain City; when he arrived at a home, he rang the bell and the lady of the house would come out and purchase meat. He later owned a meat market which was next to his home. Peter died 15 May 1938 in Plain City, Utah.

The story in the Barr/Tuttle family we probably rarely think about is that Robert F. Barr and his wife Susan were the first of the family, that we know of, to join the Church. During the early 1880s Robert F. Barr and his young family moved a lot. The early Church records note that Robert F. and Susan Barr were baptized into the Church on 1 June 1884 by Elder C. Christensen; Susan was also confirmed by C. Christensen and Robert was confirmed by Elder W. F. Garner.

Robert F. and Susan Barr and Family

Elder William F. Garner was from North Ogden, Weber, Utah, born 1 December 1848. He was married with a family and much older than Elder Christensen when he began his mission on 4 September 1883. Elder Garner's father was a former native of North Carolina.

Elder Christian Franklin Christensen was from Kanosh, Utah. He was born 26 August 1864 in Utah Territory. He married in 1887, two years after his return from the Southern States Mission. He resided in Salt Lake City in his old age and died there 26 September 1940.

Elder Garner and Christensen had each served in other counties of North C
arolina but had not had much success until they joined as companions.

Newspaper articles
and letters printed in the Deseret News have given us a glimpse of the trials these Elders faced.

In a letter to the editor of the Deseret News, Elder C. F. Christensen wrote on 1 July 1884 that he had been on his mission since May 1883. He says that he and his fellow missionaries including his companion Elder Garner arrived in Aaron, Mitchell County, North Carolina on 1 April 1884 and began to open up a new field, Elder Christensen said, "We have held from four to eight meetings per month. On the first of June, I had the pleasure of baptizing a school teacher and his wife and blessing his four children. [This was Robert F., Susan Barr and their children.] Since then persecution has began to rage. We have had several threats, but none of them carried into effect as yet." Most of their persecution came from other preachers in the area who threatened physical violence. One day a sign was posted on a tree demanding that they leave the area or be lynched.

These Elders performed miracles while serving in Mitchell County, North Carolina. They blessed a woman unable to leave her home or bed for over two years because of illness. She told the missionaries, "I had never joined any church in my life, I was waiting to see one that had been set up by an angel of the Lord coming and delivering his message, as is shown in Rev.16:6." The missionaries blessed her and the next day they sa
w that she was completely healed.

When calling on investigator, John Smith and family they found his little girl gravely ill. They asked to spend the night as the parents were worn out with the care of the child. During the night the family were all called together to say good-bye to the little girl. In the middle of the night the girl died. Mrs. Smith exclaimed, "My Lord, little Mary will never speak to us again." Mr. Smith said to Elder Christensen, "I have heard that you men can do miracles and heal the sick." He told Mr. Smith that it was no power of themselves but of the Lord. Mr. Smith said "I wish I had thought of it and had you pray for her, but it is too late now." Elder Christensen told him that it was not if he had faith. They knelt down by her bed, placed their hands on her head which was perfectly cold. Before they removed their hands the blood began to circulate and she opened her eyes.

Prior to their service in Mitchell County, North Carolina, the pair served in Carter County, Tennessee. Mormon missionaries had been killed while serving in Tennessee during these times. Elder Christensen and Garner were arrested in Carter County, Tennessee for allegedly preaching polygamy and asking followers to move out of the county. The Elders were thrown into a vile cage with murders etc. for six days. Many friends came to their aid, but state senator, John W. Simmerley, whose father was a follower, caused them to be held without a bondsman. Finally, a wealthy lawyer, Col. Thornburg was accepted as security for their appearance in court and they were released. There was little doubt that the prosecutions against them were instigated by religious ministers in the region of Roan Mountain whose jealousy and hatred were aroused by the success of the Elders.

After the trial, Senator Simmerley lost most of his constituency who were
not willing to return him to the legislature. The prosecution actually added more members to the Church and made many friends for the Elders. Most of the baptisms from the vicinity took place after the imprisonment of the Elders and gave them a wonderful prospect for good work.

All four missionaries, Wilford Woodruff Clark, Peter Marcus Folkman, Chri
stian Franklin Christensen and William F. Garner returned home from their missionary service healthy and happy. Each of them served in the Church faithfully until their deaths.

Sarah Catherine Barr Tuttle's brother Isaac D. Barr was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 22 June 1930 in North Carolina by L. W. Burnham and confirmed the same day by Geo. Y. Crossley. Isaac's baptism came almost 40 years after Sarah and Josiah's. He attended his church meetings in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

Isaac Dalton Barr

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