Friday, July 2, 2010

Accosted and Threatened: George Bentley Teeples

After recently completing the book, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, I wanted to learn more about some of my ancestors who were his contemporaries. I did a quick check in the index of the Joseph Smith Papers, Vol. 1,1832-1839, and found that it mentioned George Bentley Teeples. I also found some interesting details about his life online and thought he deserved some discussion.
George Bentley Teeples

(Me>Mom>Grandma>LaRue McCann Ely>Eunice R. Teeples McCann>William R. Teeples>George Bentley Teeples)

Joseph Smith's journal, dated 9 Sep. 1838 describes the activities of the mobs in and around Far West Missouri.
"The mob continue to take prisoners at their pleasure some they keep and some they let go, they try all in their power to make us commit the first act of violence they frequently send in word that they are torturing the prisoners to death, in the most aggravating manner, but we understand all their ways, and their cunning and wisdom is not past finding out."
A footnote to that entry, sourced from a letter dated June 10, 1838, to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon by Austin A. King (no doubt keeping them apprised of the situation), mentions that
"Missouri vigilantes in and around Daviess County also accosted and threatened Latter-day Saints George Teeples, Asahel Lathrop, John Murdock, and Rufus Allen around this time."

I hadn't realized that I had any ancestors that were part of the Missouri persecutions. George Teeples himself described a little bit more of what happened to him. I found this snippet of an article from Church History in the Fulness of Times, p. 196


Tensions Grow in Daviess County

In spite of Joseph's willingness to be tried and his search for ways to prevent further conflict, the anger of the mobs was not abated. Daviess County settlers wanted to be rid of the Mormons and now increased their efforts. General Parks wrote that there were steady threats from the settlers, and that "Their intention is to drive the Mormons with powder and lead from this county" (General Parks to David Atchison, 25 Sep 1838, Millport, as cited by Anderson, p. 38). George B. Teeples, a Mormon in Daviess County, said that the settlers there "had resolved that there should not one of our people live in that county, and that they would give me four days to leave the county" (as cited by Anderson, pp. 38-39). Tensions were building toward war.
George was also one of the many saints who submitted an affidavit complaint, as requested by church leadership, "relating to Mormon difficulties in Missouri from 1831 to 1839 that were submitted to the House Judiciary Committee seeking redress for damages done in Missouri." BYU has an online index of these affidavits, and George Teeples is listed as follows:

Affidavit re: flight from Clay County and depredations in Daviess county and Battle of Millport.
Warsaw, Hancock, Illinois, January 6, 1840.

So, George was in Daviess County, Missouri, then Hancock County, Illinois. He also shows up later in some records about a little known settlement called Summer Quarters or Brigham's Farm, just 13 miles north of Winter Quarters, Nebraska. Summer Quarters was used as farm land to grow food for the departing Saints, and was under the direction of Brigham Young's adopted son, John D. Lee. The Journal of Mormon History v. 32 had an article about Summer Quarters and its High Council governance that included some interesting details about George Teeples, taken from the High Council minutes. 
"the council also heard George B. Teeples complain that Solomon Wixom had lied, engaged in unchristianlike conduct, and 'stolen' his seventeen-year old daughter, Harriet. [not to be confused with his daughter-in-law Harriet B. Cook] Since Wixom had been sealed to Harriet, presumably by Brigham Young, no wrong had been committed and Teeples withdrew his charge. (From High Council and Stout, Jan. 29, 1848.)"
I wish I knew the rest of that juicy story, but when I looked up his daughter Harriet, it appears that she had a child with this Solomon Wixom and then divorced him. Father knows best! In any case, George was a fearsome father-in-law, like a few others I could mention.
George is the old man with the beard and hat on the left.

I don't think George's response to his daughter's elopement had anything to do with opposition to marriage in and of itself, because George ended up with (probably) six wives (according to the records on 1. Huldah Clarinda Colby who was his first wife and mother to most of his children. He shares his gravestone with her. 2. Joanna Case Worden, who bore him 4 children. 3. Eunice Colby, Huldah's older sister. 4. Lena Sutton 5. Henrietta Ulster 6. Harriet Worchester.
George Bentley Teeples crossed the plains with his family in the same wagon train as the widow Mary Fielding Smith, (mother of Prophet Joseph F. Smith) and was one of the earliest settlers of Provo, Utah. He settled some other areas of Utah as well as fulfilling a settlement mission to the short-lived Fort Supply in Wyoming. Eventually he ended up in Holden. To prove it, here are some photos of his grave.

When I saw that George and Huldah are buried in Holden, Utah, I decided it would be fun to make a little side trip on the way to Fillmore over Memorial Day for my husband's family reunion. Holden is a beautiful little town right off the freeway, full of trees and kind of hilly. We had fun playing treasure hunt in the city cemetery, and after noticing a few other Teeples graves, finally found George and Huldah. They share a headstone, the inscriptions on opposite sides. Their stone has a "Faith in Every Footstep" emblem on it at the bottom of Huldah's inscription placed by (I suppose) the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers , pointing out the pioneers that walked across the plains to Utah.

1 comment:

  1. Wow you must of had fun doing all that research. Cool pictures of the grave Jackie!