By William Albert Adams. This poem was written to highlight experiences he lived while serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Southern States Mission 1900-1901.
I was born in a place called Utah,
A state you all know well,
Brought up by Mormon parents,
So the truth to you I’ll tell.
I loved to join my village friends
In causing society to thrive
‘Til I was called as a Minister
At the age of Twenty-five.
The Bishop thought it would be wise
To send me on a trip
To preach the precious Gospel
With neither purse nor script.
Accordingly he took my name
And sent it to the Seer,
A man who we all recognize
As our worthy Prophet dear.
President Snow then took my name
And went in Secret Prayer
And asked to be directed
In which mission to declare.
Next day there came a letter,
And it was marked “Box B”,
And when I read, to my surprise,
I was called to Tennessee.
I left my home, my friends, my all,
And took the East bound Train
The parting, it was very sad—
The mem’ries still remain.
And every station I’d pass by
I’d hear the people say,
“There goes another Mormon,
I’d like to get his pay!
His mission, it is one from hell!
We know it for a fact.”
They read it in some History,
And it was yellow backed.
The office, it was reached in time.
The Elders, they all met,
Their instructions to receive
And appointments for to get.
The meeting, it was well enjoyed
By Elders, small and great.
And at the close my lot was cast
To labor in the Tar Heel (N.C.) state.
I left the office and my chums
And took the train once more.
The parting it was very sad
The same as time before.
I traveled over wooded lands
At a very rapid rate,
And landed in a factory town
In the old North Carolina State.
And then I met one of my faith
A Minister of God
Who beckoned me to go with him
The dusty roads to trod.
He led me to a Shady Grove
Where the Elders often go
To give their thanks to God above
For the blessings they bestow.
He showed me where he slept that night.
The grass was leveled down.
At first I could not understand
For ‘twas near a Christian town.
But after I had tried the same
I understood it all
‘Twas only to test the servants of God.
It was witnessed by Peter and Paul.
He led me to his nearest friend
Which was over ten miles away.
My empty stomach and empty grip
Caused us to lag in the sun all day.
At last we reeled up to the house.
I staggered in the door.
So tired, feet sore, hungry and weak
I felt my days were o’er.
Our supper it was soon prepared.
I couldn’t control my appetite.
They found that I was head to head
Putting victuals out of sight.
The diet it was very strange.
This is what we had to eat—
Corn bread, molasses, collards,
Field peas and also meat.
We would travel through the country
From early morn ‘til night
Distributing our literature
To friend and foe alike.
The preachers they would scoff at us
Call us Knaves, Imposters and Scamps.
“We’ve got the Gospel in on the shelf
So away with you Mormon Tramps.”
My companion tried to break me in.
He called on me to preach.
I hadn’t stood there very long
Before I took my seat.
I hadn’t scarcely struck the chair
‘Til my heart began to throb
When armed masked men rush in the door.
I could see it was a mob.
The leader he rushed through the house.
We scuffled to the door
Where he was aided by his imps.
There were just a half a score.
They dragged me from the house at once
From companion and friends yet new.
When they waved their guns about my head
I wondered what they’d do.
The crack of guns and cries from friends
Rang through the Midnight air.
And overpowered as I was, I could but lisp
A silent prayer.
They struck me till my breath had fled.
Then to complete their sin
They took me to the River Bridge
Where they had planned to plunge me in.
But as the Bridge was far away
And our wooded route was dim
My prayer had been fully answered
Before we reached the brim.
At first they would not let me speak.
But I started after a while.
‘Twas my longest sermon while in the South
For its length was near 4 miles!
Their hearts were touched by the power of God
As He had prompted me.
So instead of being thrown over board
They decided to set me free.
I could tell you how from mobs I’ve fled
To save my threatened life,
Which they’d have severed from me
By a Ball or Bowing Knive.
With heart in mouth and grip in hand,
My long legs almost flew
Until I reached a boat and crossed
The river from their view.
But since that time, how scenes have changed.
It’s been all peace and joy.
I’ve met with friends on every hand
Where mobs do not annoy.
I’ve added many to Christ’s fold
That have sought the narrow way.
My forgiving prayer to Mobbers is
That they’ll obey God’s will some day.