Thursday, January 31, 2013

Grahamstown - 150 Years Age

A History of the South African Mission – Period 1, 1852-1903 by Evan P. Wright, notes from page 177 through 221.

“Article from Cape Argus dated January 7, 1862:”

“Four preachers have just arrive in this colony from Utah with a view to promulgating Mormon doctrines and winning over converts to the Mormon faith.  Two of the preachers are natives of Grahamstown who have been dwellers in Utah, and who have returned to convert the colonial-born.  Their names are, “John Talbot and Henry Dikson.”

Dixon and Talbot were both born in Grahamstown and had many acquaintances there.  They had anticipated their labors with keen interest, but they found that their old friends and acquanitances wished to shun their company and were perfectly satisfied with their own view. They received little hospitality and very few people were prepared to listen to their message.  The elders posted notices announcing that they would preach in the Market Square on consecutive Sunday.  They had a small congregation each time but made very little headway.  Elder Talbot recorded in his journal, “A hardened set, the Grahamites.”

President Fortheringham, in commenting about Grahamstown, said that several elders had attempted to effect an opening there but had always failed.  In April he told them that if they saw fit, they should leave Grahamstown and wash their feet as a testimony against that city.  He told them that Brother Wiggill had stated there were many candidates for baptism up-country waiting for elders to arrive and he would like them to continue to new areas.

John Talbot visited Elans Post, Kat River, Kaffraria, Queenstown, Adelaide, and Burgersdrop.  He had to do most of his travelling by foot and often went hungry because of lack of hospitality.  He reported that throughout his travels he found the people very hardened and that they didn’t seem to care at all about the Gospel.

Dixon travelled extensively through Adelaide, Oliphants Hoek, Elands Post, Fort Jackson Fort White, King Williams Town, Berlin, etc.  In his journal he mentioned “Kaffir Country” as well as passing through numerous native stations.

It was during the time that President Fortheringham and the other missionaries were laboring in South Africa that the name of the mission was changed from the Cape of Good Hope Mission to the South African Mission.

There was an awful drought in South Africa in 1862, followed by serious depression.  The elders had a difficult time because people were indifferent to their message because they were so concerned with the severe economic conditions.  The elders reported that the work was steadily, though slowly progressing, but that most of the members of the Church were anxious to take their departure from this ”Hottentot country” at as early a date as possible.

 It was reported that the Kaffirs could not raise anything because of the drought conditions and were stealing from the farmers for a living.  A native chief of one of the tribes told his people that if they would kill all their cattle and bury them their gods would raise up ten for each one killed.  This resulted in further aggravation of the famine conditions.  . .

South African Mission
Port Elizabeth, Cape of Good Hope
Dec. 15, 1862

President Cannon, Dear Brother. . .

Since I last wrote to you, I have been over 300 miles in the interior.  I visited a few scattered Saints on my journey, who are feeling well and anxious to depart from this Hottentot country as early  as possible.  It is a hard matter to travel in the interior of this colony at present.  The country is so dry and parched in most places that travelling is rendered almost impossible. . .  All business here appears to be at a standstill; provisions are at famine prices, and confidence in one another is very weak.  The flocks and herds are perishing and more or less, the fruits of the earth are being blasted, by the refreshing showers which are so much needed being with-held. …

I have just received a letter from Elder Talbot, who is in the interior.  He states that he has baptized five in the Winterberg district since I left.  He speaks of the shocking state of the country.  The drought still continues unbroken. . .  William Fortheringham.

In October of 1862 President Fotheringham left Port Elizabeth to visit the Saints in Winterberg, Kat River, Alexandria, Elands Post, Adelaide and Oliphants Hoek. . .Fotheringham made frequent visits to the other missionaries in their fields of labor and also visited the scattered Saints.

In 1863 the missionaries had to do considerable travelling since the town were from seventy to one hundred miles apart.  Most of the travelling was done by horseback.  The elders reported that often they and their animals had to go great distances without forage or water.  However, they said that “the Lord has blessed us in our travels so far, and we feel thankful for having the privilege of labouring for the benefit of fallen man.”

No official reasons were given by Church authorities in Salt Lake City or in England for closing the South African Mission in 1865.  Perhaps the chief reasons were because of the indifference of the local people, difficulties encountered by the missionaires, and because most of the faithful members of the Church had immigrated to Zion.  . . L.D.S. missionaries were to return to South Africa  in 1903 and thereby fulfill the prophesy made by Jesse Haven on May 23, 1853.

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