The “Truth’s Reflex” (1899-1901) Now Digitized

Truth's Reflex Header

The little-known Truth’s Reflex was a short-lived monthly periodical established by Mission President William T. Jack as a mission periodical intended for the Southwestern States Mission (renamed in 1904 to the Central States Mission). It was published out of St. John, Kansas, then the mission’s headquarters. The Truth’s Reflex has now been fully digitized by the Church History Library. It comprised three volumes (although volume 3 had only four issues). The inaugural issue was published January 1899 and the final issue in April 1901.

Andrew Jenson accurately described the dimensions and general content of the Truth’s Reflex in a brief entry included in the Encyclopedic History of the Church:

[The Truth’s Reflex was] as an eight-page magazine (quarto size) with four columns to the page, the reading matter occupying a space 9 by 11 Inches. … Each number contained the Articles of Faith, a list of the standard Church works, articles by prominent Latter-day Saint officials and also excerpts from renowned and inspirational writers throughout the world. [“Truth’s Reflex,” EHC (p. 887)]


William Thomas Jack (1857-1934)

President Jack served as the periodical’s editor at least until his release as the mission president in April 1900 or his departure from the mission field in May 1900 (he remained in the mission for approximately a month after his release to help his successor, James G. Duffin).

President Jack’s creation of the Truth’s Reflex seems to have been inspired by the Southern States Mission’s own short-lived periodical, the Southern Star (1898-1901). After receiving the first issue of the Truth’s Reflex, the editor of the Southern Star even offered its support and commendation:

The Truth’s Reflex, published monthly by the Southwestern States Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, has been received. The salutatory says it will represent the interests of the Latter-Day Saints in mission work, designed more especially for the Southwestern States Mission to aid the little band of faithful, zealous Elders in the promulgation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ among the inhabitants of the several states and territories. The Star welcomes the Reflex among its exchange and wishes it every deserved success. [Southern Star 1, no. 10 (4 February 1899): 77, col. 2]

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Earliest Known Pioneer Day Celebration in Louisiana

Elders Davis and Berrett [Lillie Wall's copy] _jpeg.jpg

Elders Hyrum G. Davis and William S. Berrett

Source: “Pioneer Day in Louisiana,” Deseret Evening News (9 August 1902): 24.

Pioneer Day in Louisiana.

Elders Hyrum G. Davis and Joseph S. Wright, Jr., in a letter from [Sims]boro, Lincoln P[arish], Louisiana, July 26[, 1902], state that Pioneer Day was celebrated in Union [P]arish, La. Elders William S. Berrett, Joseph S. Wright, Peter [E.] Johnson and H. G. Davis were present, besides many others. After the feast was over the Elders of Israel instructed the people concerning the work which the Lord is doing through His servants in these last days, and urged them to keep all the commandments of God that they would be found worthy in time to come.


The 2nd New Orleans–Lafayette Branch (1849–1850)

The 2nd New Orleans–Lafayette Branch (1849–1850)

A Brief Summary of the Second “New Orleans and Lafayette Branch”—The Account of Its Organization from the Branch’s Record—A Transcription of the Branch’s Initial Membership Roll.

A second incarnation of “the New Orleans and Lafayette branch” was organized on Sunday, October 28, 1849, by Elder Thomas McKenzie, according to instructions given to him by Elder Orson Hyde, one of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. McKenzie was subsequently chosen and sustained as the branch president. His branch presidency did not include any counselors, although he seemed to rely on an Elder named Claude Clive whom he called as branch clerk.

The Berlin
The Berlin arrived at New Orleans from Liverpool on September 5, 1849. Over two-dozen Latter-day Saints died en route due to cholera.

The branch was short-lived, however. On Sunday, April 7, 1850, “a conference … was held at New Orleans for the purpose of winding up the affairs of the branch.” The second New Orleans-Lafayette Branch was then dissolved, largely due to an epidemic of cholera. President McKenzie urged the Saints in attendance to relocate up-river, and by mid-May, McKenzie had arranged for himself and many of the Saints to travel up the Mississippi to St. Louis before finally returning to the temporary Church Headquarters at Council Bluffs, Iowa.

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Legend of Buried Treasure in Farmerville, Union Parish, Louisiana

BuriedTreasureBelow are two articles from the Farmerville Gazette, both printed during June 1905, reporting the revival of a local legend in Union Parish regarding buried treasure on the property of James Guy Trimble, then-president of the bank in Farmerville. The author of each was likely A. J. Bell, the editor of the Farmerville Gazette at the time (the same newspaper Trimble himself had edited a few years prior and which his father, James E. Trimble, had founded).

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“By Faith”: Elders Hansen and Livingston Heal a Child at Rugg’s Bluff, Union Parish, Louisiana


The following article appeared in the Deseret Evening News (11 April 1903), page 22, column 3. As the article notes, it contains a statement written in March 1903 by William Henry Wall and Lillie Alice Gates Wall, Mormon converts living in the Rugg’s Bluff community of Union Parish, Louisiana, regarding the healing of their son by the Mormon Elders.

[For further context on the Wall family, see the excerpts from the autobiography of Lillie Wall which recount this period.]

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Elder Joseph A. Cornwall to Elders Tobe Felkins & Cyrus B. Halliday (6 Feb 1898)

Elder Joseph A. Cornwall

Elder Joseph A. Cornwall


Single-page letter hand-written on front and back of sheet with Southern States Mission letterhead. Addressed from Elder Joseph A. Cornwall (Vowells Mill, Natchitoches Parish, LA) to Elders Tobe Felkins and Cyrus B. Halliday (Farmerville, Union Parish, LA), letter dated February 6, 1898. Envelope kept along with letter. Only month and year of postmarked dates are legible (February 1898).

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Elder Tobe Felkins, Journal Excerpt: Baptism of Dollie Kyle (Union Parish, Louisiana)

Elder Tobe Felkins, Portrait from January 1900

Elder Tobe Felkins

Tobe Felkins, Missionary Journal Excerpt (20 November 1898)

The following is Elder Tobe Felkins’ account of the baptism of Miss Martha Jane Kyle, nicknamed ‘Dollie.’ Besides being the second person in Union Parish’s history to convert to Mormonism, the baptismal account is especially unique for other reasons as well.

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Excerpts from Lillie Wall, “The Story of My Life” (1946/47)

Lillie Alice Gates Wall in 1946/47

Lillie Alice Gates Wall, later in life while living in Salt Lake City.

The following are taken from the autobiographical sketch written by Lillie Alice Gates Wall (1875-1948) in 1946/47, then living in Salt Lake City, Utah. Lillie lived in Union Parish, Louisiana, from about 1875 to 1905, at Turkey Bluff and Rugg’s Bluff, two small communities on opposite sides of the D’Arbonne Bayou.

Her personal history is length and fascinating, and it was difficult choosing excerpts. These selections are mostly those where she remembers meeting the first Mormon Elders at Rugg’s Bluff and her conversion to the LDS Church in 1901. Lillie and her husband, William Henry Wall, emigrated to Utah in 1905.

Lillie hand-wrote her personal history; the following text was edited and printed in Wall-Gates Family Treasures, an extensive family-history volume published in 2000 by three of Lillie’s grandchildren (Ulah Viola Jones, Marian Andreason Smith, and Rulon Nephi Smithson).

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Pres. James G. Duffin Visits the Rugg’s Bluff Branch – Journal Entries, Oct 29 – Sep 2, 1903

President James G. Duffin

James G. Duffin, President of the Southwestern States Mission.

October 29, 1903 – Friday

Little Rock, Ark[ansas].

[…] I left for Louisiana at 10:10 a.m. [on the] 28th and arrived at Little Rock, via St. Louis, this morning and have had to lay here all day owing to our train being late and not making connection with train for Monroe. Took train for Monroe at 8:38 p.m.

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Elders Tobe Felkins & Thomas G. Fraser at Holmesville & Rugg’s Bluff

Liliston Leroy Pardue

Lilliston Leroy Pardue was a prominent citizen who lived near the Holmesville community of Union Parish.

The following are excerpts from the journal of Elder Tobe Felkins, the first Mormon missionary to proselyte in Union Parish, Louisiana; when visiting Holmesville for the first time, Felkins became friends with Liliston Leroy Pardue (1830-1906). At this time Elder Felkins was traveling with his missionary companion, Elder Thomas G. Fraser.

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