Shady Grove, Hickman Co., Tenn.
July 21, 1879

Editors Deseret News:

As Brother Daniel Stuart and myself have been released to return home we thought to give you a very brief and condensed account of our labors since May 15, which was the date of our last letter to the News. During the last eight weeks, we have labored principally in Maury and Giles Co’s, in the middle and southern part of this Conference, in new districts, where the gospel in its purity and fullness has never before been preached. The above counties are two of the poorest in the State, but the people are hospitable to strangers and with but few exceptions, they threw their doors open to us, and attended our meetings, being anxious to hear. On Minnie Creek and vicinity we held some thirteen meetings and made a good many warm friends, and several families are believing our doctrines. Doors are still opened and we feel assured that with prayerful, faithful, earnest and persistent labor, a good flourishing branch could soon be raised up.

While in Pulaske, the County seat of Giles, we applied on Sunday the 5th of June to different church dignitaries for a hearing but were refused. As we had no appointment out for the forenoon, at 11 a.m. by invitation, we attended a Methodist meeting, which was crowded, to hear a college commencement address, by the Rev. J.D. Barber, one of the most noted divines of the South. The meeting being opened, The Reverend Gentleman rose to speak prefacing his discourse with the most abusive and slanderous attack upon our people that we ever heard fall from the lips of mortal man. The spirit he had was so vile, that his whole address, which was not without merit was tinctured with it. In concluding his remarks he referred again to the subject, and Herod like, he said the “Strong arm of the government should be employed to wipe out from the face of civilization every Latter-day Saint in Utah, men, women, and children.

A murderer at heart, and yet he calls himself a follower of the meek and lowly Jesus.

Church doors being closed against us, we consented to speak in the Court House, where, at 3 p.m., we had the pleasure of addressing a large and respectable audience on the subject of the Gospel. The Lord gave us, on the occasion, a rich outpouring of his Holy Spirit, and we gained a good victory for the cause of truth. In the neighborhood of Miner Hill, Squire Noblet and others received us with real southern hospitality, and opened their Church doors to us, when we held five excellent meetings, all of which were well attended. Much prejudice was removed. Some are reading and believing. The prospects are very good to raise up a branch of the Church.

Finding ourselves near the State line we crossed the Tennessee river into the State of Alabama, where we held two meetings and testified to the people of the truth of the great Latter-day work. We also, on June 13, visited J.J. Barclay, ex-United States minister to Turkey. His wife is the youngest daughter of the late noted Rev. Alexander Campbell. She is a generous and fine spirited woman. She sang and played for us several pieces of music, and in return we showed them a copy of the Book of Mormon, and left them some strong testimonies of its divine origin. They seemed to be deeply and favorably impressed. During the few days of our sojourn in Alabama we found a few persons of faith; we also on two or three different occasions came in contact with wicked murderous men, who threatened us with violence and drove us from their doors.

At the little town of Pettus, which a few years ago was almost entirely destroyed by a hurricane, we called upon a doctor, director of the Methodist Church, for a hearing, were kindly received by certain members of the family to whom we taught the truth. The doctor becoming jealous of our influence flew into a violent rage and ordered us to leave the house. We tried to reason with him, but to no avail, the more we tried to reason with him the more threatening and violent he became. When sprinting from his chair, with murderous intent he ran into a back room his gun or revolver. Considering discretion the better part of valor, we quietly withdrew from the premises.

In our travels we frequently find sign seekers who request us, as a proof of our ministry, to drink deadly poison, to carry serpents in our bosoms, to walk on the water and fly through the air. Christ said it was an “evil and adulterous generation” who sought after sins.

Since our last letter we have baptized four persons, ordained a Brother L.F. Hamblen to the office of an Elder, and organized a small branch of the Church at Culboke, consisting of six members. Two families of 13 souls, the fruits of our recent labors, are preparing to emigrate to Colorado this fall. Brothers Argyle and Garn have also baptized three persons, and the prospects for the future are good. Recently Brother G. Carver and H. Belnap joined us and will labor for the present in this conference.

Yesterday we held a good meeting here; several of the brethren spoke, Brother Stuart and myself also left our parting testimonies of the truth with the people. Brother Joseph Argyle was voted in as successor to Brother Pratt as president of the Tennessee Conference. The Saints of Tennessee are a faithful and warm-hearted people and in taking our farewell of them we feel very grateful to them for the many marks of kindness we have received at their hands. All being well we shall leave here today on our return.

Your brethren in the Gospel of peace,
P.P. Pratt
D. Stuart

[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, July 21, 1879, 4-6]
[Deseret News, Aug. 4, 1879]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, May 2006]


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