Monday, September 7, 2009

Growing Up in the Mission Field

John Washington Bell's log cabin
about the time the family was baptized, 1908.
front row: Elizabeth CURL BELL (1839-1933), Madge REASOR, Elizabeth Jane BELL REASOR (1863-1947), back row: Richard "Bood" REASOR, John Washington BELL (1836-1916), Calvin REASOR, Vollie REASOR, Lillie Belle LYTLE REASOR (1887-1985), Edgar Webster REASOR (1885-1953), Gertrude REASOR HALL BROWN

A Tribute to Elizabeth
Curl Bell written by Lee Reasor in 1977:
Elizabeth Curl the daughter of Richard Curl and Mariah Steproe, was born on Christmas Day in 1839 at Mauckport, Harrison, Indiana. She was the third child in a family of nine children. She married John Washington Bell and lived in Crawford Co, Ind.

Elizabeth Curl Bell was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 30 May 1905 at the age of 65. She apparently took this important step alone. Her husband John and none of her children were baptized with her. However, a cousin of John (William Roberson) was baptized the previous day by the same Elder. In 1905, there were three other families with members of the Church in Crawford County; two Lutz families of Sulphur and Hyrum J. McDonald of Taswell. Brother McDonald was baptized in 1895 and ordained an elder in 1896. Sister McDonald (Sereptia Isabell Brown) is the daughter of Elbern [Elbern is the older brother of Louisiana BROWN LYTLE] and the granddaughter of William (Billy Nineteen) Brown. She and two of her daughters were baptized in 1918.

[Sereptia Isabell Brown McDonald (1863-1931) was a first cousin of Lillie Belle LYTLE REASOR. Hiram Jasper McDonald baptized in 1895 decided to move his family to Salt Lake City, Utah. They went by train to Idaho. They lived there 3 or more years, there he purchased a team of horses and a covered wagon and come on to Salt Lake City, Utah. He couldn't find the kind of work needed to support their family of nine children so we moved back home to Indiana in 0903. (see history written by Flora Pearl McDonald)]

There must have been a change in Elizabeth after her baptism because the following year her daughter, Elizabeth Jane Bell Reasor, known as Jennie E., was baptized with Jennie E's daughter Etta Gertrude. They were baptized on 11 Sept 1906. Jennie too had to stand alone without her husband. Daniel Breckenridge Reasor, the husband of Jennie had died in 1904.

The year 1909 was a better year for the missionaries in southern Indiana. The records show that several persons joined the Church. Among these were several of the grandchildren of Elizabeth Curl Bell and children of Elizabeth Bell Reasor. Four of her sons; Edgar, Vollie, Calvin and Richard (Bood) with Edgar's wife Lillie Belle Lytle all joined on 24 April 1909. The water in the creek must have been very cold that early in the spring. Daughter Madge was only 6 years old so all of the Reasor children were baptised except Craig, the oldest. Madge was baptised at age 8 in 1911 and Craig was baptised in 1957 at age 74.

The influence of one individual now becomes apparent.
One member in 1905
Three in 1906
Eight in 1909
Sixteen in 1926

Edgar and Lillie had all six of their children blessed increasing the
total to 14 by June of 1917. All the children were later baptised, the three
youngest in 1926. Opal the only child of Gertrude was baptised in 1924.

Three of Edgar and Lillie's children elected not to become active in the
Mormon Church and none of their children or grandchildren are now members. A branch of the Church was organized locally and Goldia became active. Her children were all adults by then and are not now members of the church.

Lloyd had four children and five grandchildren. Lee has five children and
10 grandchildren [by 1988 - 21 grandchildren]. Therefore counting the in-laws, there are 31 additional members in these two families. Adding 31 to the 17 in 1926 makes a total of 48 members.

In the meantime, the work has been done for John Washington Bell and partly for Samuel W. Bell, his father. Elizabeth Curl has been sealed to her father and mother. The sealing work has been done for the Reasor line as far back as the revolutionary war (1735). This assures the potential for a completed family for all those who have been baptized in person or by proxy.

It seems to me that as a young man that there was only one other family of Mormons in the county, this was the Fouts family of Sulphur. At the present time there is an active branch with a small chapel in English. The attendance sometimes reaches 60 at meetings. This group is supported by Lillie Belle Lytle Reasor and daughter Goldia Reasor Goldman Miller.

In summary then, if you believe in the Restored Gospel, Elizabeth Curl Bell has truly been a Savior on Mt. Zion. She introduced the gospel to her children and grandchildren who have passed it on down. Those who have followed her have been somewhat diligent in having the work done for her ancestors. I am Lee Reasor, a great grandson and I am getting to know her better and love her more. I can still remember her as being bed fast at Grandma Reasor's. She wanted always to kiss Lloyd and I when we went to visit.

Written this 30 day of August 1977. Sources used include the U.S. census, the church records of the Indiana Southern Conference, and personal knowledge. Elizabeth Jane was married as Jennie E. and listed on the grave marker for her unnamed son as Jennie E.

[Family tradition tells the story of Gerald moving away from Indiana and finding the church. He became active, it was about 20 years later that he found he was active in the Reorganized church. He was happy and stayed there.]

Edgar and Lillie REASOR children. (Lee and Lloyd are twins.)
Garland Lee Reasor:
I am a member of two of the greatest organizations in existence First, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints and will make continual mention of this membership, as it has had a great influence on my activities. Second, I am a member of the United States Air Force and have spent nearly half of my life in the service of my country. Service to my fellow men, to my country and to my God have been very closely interwoven in both my thought and actions.

I became a service man to my country because of the time of my birth and circumstances. However, I became a member of the church by design of my parents. I will be forever grateful to them for that day in June when I was 9 years old. I cam still remember the two mile walk to the creek. We, my twin brother , my older brother, my father and the two Elders, were jolly and talkative until we reached the swimming hole. We three brothers were baptized there in the manner prescribed by God. Our spirits as well as our bib overall were dampened on the walk back home as we meditated on what had happened to us.

Gladys Reasor Linton:
Dad would let us ride the horses on Sundays and sometimes to church, if a revival was going on in the church other than ours. I’ve let a boy walk me home from our church and lead the horse behind.

Goldia Reasor Goldman Miller:
Eckerty was known for its Camp Meeting Grounds with its large barn-like tabernacle. Each summer for about ten days or two weeks they had Camp Meeting. This was a social event as well as religious. Everyone looked forward to it. We, along with people from miles around, would hitch up the team, put some hay in the back of the wagon with a comforter over it for the children to ride on, a few ears of corn for the team, and a large picnic lunch, and load everyone up for a day and maybe an evening service at camp meeting. We weren’t members of this denomination and never did get too involved, but it was a good place to visit with all your friends and hear some shouting gospel preached.

Upon arriving at the grounds you found a good place in the grove of trees to put your wagon. The team was unhitched and tied to a tree so they couldn’t bother the lunch or eat all the hay the children rode on. At noon we came back to the wagon, found a level spot and spread out the table cloth with the lunch on it. Everything tasted good. If anything was left, it was supper I suppose. I remember being at the evening sessions, and we children going to the wagon, climbing in and going to sleep. I guess we walked into bed in our sleep when we got home.

Goldia Reasor Goldman Miller:
Mom and Dad had been baptized and become members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints the firs year they were married, about 1908. After we children started to school at Roberson School and became acquainted, we started going to Sunday School at Union Chapel. This was an undenominational church. Various denominations had church there. We all attended as this was the social life at this time. Dad always thought these people didn’t have the true gospel and not one of us ever joined even though we did attend.

The Mormon elders visited us about once a year in the summer. Dad often remarked that he had us all baptized. We used to get the Liahona paper from the Church and enough Gospel to help us know the Word of Wisdom and some of the Church teachings.

Goldia Reasor Goldman Miller:
We attended Sunday School and church services at the Union Chapel near the Roberson School. Dad and Mom and his folks were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, commonly known as the Mormons. Gladys, Glenn and I were baptized by some missionaries in a creek near what is now Hemlock Cliffs, when I was nine years old. We later had a Chapel, an active branch of the Church at English, when Mom and I attended as long as she was able.

Garland Lee Reasor:
He and Aunt Gerturde were the only ones active in the Mormon Church. He told an interesting story that happened right after his baptism. He had developed the habit of taking the Lord’s name in vain. He, with Mom and Grandma Reasor joined the church the year he was married. Shortly after wards he was plowing hit a rock, and the handle hit Dad’s ribs causing severe pain, and as was his custom, he swore loudly at the horse, the rock, the plow and everything in general. He said the swear words echoed and re-echoed from the surrounding hills for minutes, pounding in his ears, and he never swore again. I never heard Dad take the Lord’s name in vain.

He had great difficulty living the Mormon’s law of health. My earliest recollection is of Dad with a corn cob pipe or a chew of tobacco. After several attempts, he finally kicked the habit. As with other necessities, he grew his own tobacco. The plant was favored also by a worm which grew to the size of the gig finger and was exactly the color of the green tobacco leaves. Especially young boys could search for the pests and pull them off the plant to be destroyed before the plants themselves were destroyed.

Gordon Lloyd Reasor:
We never worked on Sunday. After noon on Saturday we’d go to English. There we visited while Mom and Dad did the trading (shopping). On Sunday we always went to church, doing only the necessary chores, like milking the 5 or 6 cows, gathering the eggs, feeding the horsed and hogs, and in the winter, feeding the cows.

Usually we went to Sunday School and church at Union Chapel, a small community, non-denominational church where anyone could hold service excerpt Catholics or Mormons. We were told that the charter forbade that. This chapel was just one mile from home and we always walked. Most of the meetings were of the Holy Roller type, but sometimes Methodists or Christians or Baptists would preach. One time two women held a revival there for two weeks. They were called “Stand-ups” as all one had to join was to stand up art their sear when invited to do so. LeRoy and Mae Roberson stood up and joined. After the revival was over we never heard from the two women again. Probably the collection plate was too bare for a return to be considerer.

But Dad remained aloof from all these churches. He and Mom, along with most of Grandma Reasor’s family were baptized into the Mormon church the year after they [Edgar and Lillie] were married. However there was no opportunity to attend their services as non were held near by. We went to these meetings though. Dad sat on the benches on the west side with the other men. He was larger than most, 5’8”, 180 pounds. And Mon sat opposite with the women. One time a Christian preacher was preaching. I thing Rob Cole got him to come. At the conclusion of the meeting he surprised everyone by announcing that Bro. Cole would give the prayer. We’d never heard him pray. So as we stood following the closing song. Rob looked across the still building and said to his wife, “Hattie, you say it”. And she did.

The visitors and unmarried sat on the benches towards the rear of the small building. The back rows were where the local rowdies sat as they repeated aloud what the preacher was saying. Dad would condemn such action. But I suspect he was amused at the less disruptive events. One time though, one fo the boys rode a hourse in one door, up the aisle and around the stove in the center of the building and own the other aisle and out the other door.

During one revival, when the feelings ere high, all our friends wre being ‘saved’. They put considerable pressure on us to do the same, go to the ‘mourners bench’ and pray through. Dad knew of this pressure and told us that he’d never tell us not to. But we were not convinced. And shortly we watched our friends back slide.

Garland Lee Reasor:
Another form of diversion was church. We always went to Sunday School and church. The chapel was called a Union Chapel and any denomination except Mormons and Catholics could hold services in it. Usually we walked the mile to the chapel. Occasionally we would go home with someone for dinner or they would come home with us. Dad was a good bible student but he would never teach a class. Maybe he didn’t believe the lessons he was expected to teach. Mom always took part and helped in any way she could. As we grew older the girls in the neighboring communities were more desirable so it was nothing to walk three of four miles to meetings. Lloyd and I were always together. We have learned later that gangs had been formed by boys in these communities to run us home. None ever showed themselves in our presence. We were very mild mannered and had no fights but maybe the reputation of our uncles wes sufficient to protect us. Once or twice I rode horseback and then walked my girl home leading the horse.

At least twice a year a denomination would sponsor a religious revival and this would give the people night social activities for two revival or three weeks. The Reasor family were faithful in attending but none were influenced to the point of going to the alter and being saved.

One evangelist was foolish enough to insult the young people, so some of the boys including at least two Reasors devised a way to show their displeasure. A length of stove wood was about the same height of an axle on a 1930 automobile. Two boys lifted up the car while a length of stove wood was placed under the axle. When the preacher started his car it wouldn’t move. The rear wheel which was clear of the ground would only spin faster and the engine was fed more gas. When he finally got going he never turned back.

Garland Lee Reasor:
Even though there was not a organized unit of his church locally until he had retired, he had all we children baptized. He apparently thought it was the best. Since there was no local organization, the whole family were faithful attendees at the community protestant church. Anyone but Catholics and Mormons were allowed to use the chapel for services. He had definite ideas about Sunday. It was a day to go to church, rest, and visit. I can recall very few times that work was so urgent that it had to be done on Sunday.

Gordon Lloyd Reasor:
Among my early recollection of Dad is that he smoked a pipe and chewed tobacco, too. In fact he raised his own long green. He’d just crumble some in his pipe to smoke. And for chewing , he’d take a bite off the twist of long green, and then a small corner off the plug of bought tobacco he had in his pocket. One summer he read in an LDS paper, Liahona, the Elder’s Journal, published in England. I don’t know how he got them, that tobacco was not good for the body. So he quit! It must have been a struggle, for he seemed always to have a piece of hicory bark in his mouth, that summer. And they stopped drinking coffee, too.

Garland Lee Reasor:
In 1956 we [Lee and Wanda] were living in Sacramento, California, and the LDS Temple in Los Angeles had just been completed. I wrote Mom to invite her to visit, and we would visit the new temple for sealings. Much to my joy and surprise, she came accompanied by Blanch (Linton). [Lillie was sealed to Edgar for eternity.]

Dad had received the Aaronic Priesthood when the church was organized in English, Indiana, but I understand that he felt like he didn’t have enough knowledge to be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood as an elder. In order to be sealed as husband and wife for time and eternity in the Temple, a male must be an elder. Therefore, I had the great honor of being proxy and receiving the priesthood for him and then being sealed as him to Mom as her husband for time and eternity, there by, creating an eternal family. I was also sealed to this family as a child. I can testify to you in all soberness that I felt the influence of Dad very strongly during these proceedings and that influence gave complete approval of what was happening . Since this time both Lloyd and Godia have joined the eternal family being sealed in the Temple.

English, Indiana LDS Chapel in 1976

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