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 in October 1849, but over two-dozen Latter-day Saints had 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


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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Women declined entrance to Priesthood Session of LDS Church’s General Conference


Women refused entrance to watch the Priesthood Session broadcast on Temple Square. (More photos below.)

“There’s a lot of you guys!” a representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said as the umpteenth woman approached him. He had been standing there for at least an hour by that point. His job? To decline the over one-hundred women asking for entrance to the broadcast of the Priesthood Session of General Conference.

The conference itself was held across the street at the Church’s Conference Center, but women and male supporters associated with the “Ordain Women” movement collected in the stand-by line at the Church’s Tabernacle. Between 5:00 and 5:45 P.M., male members were allowed to walk directly into the building while women were stopped at the door.

Over the past year the Church has made some significant changes regarding General Conference that seemed to be in response to protests from some Mormon women, including publicly streaming the Priesthood Session on TV and the internet and allowing women to give the benedictions and invocations of regular conference sessions. The policy of priesthood-session attendance being exclusively male, however, was clearly not an issue they were willing to budge on.

“I’m sorry, this session is for men only,” the church representative said countless times on Saturday evening, referring women to the Church’s website where the session was being streamed live. “This is a gathering only for men.” “Sorry, this is the standby line for men.” “This session is intended for the priesthood only.” He forwarded any further questions to the many full-time missionaries on Temple Square.

When the Tabernacle doors closed at 5:45, dozens of women still waiting in line were disappointed that they did not get the chance to be politely turned away. The large group then collected near the Tabernacle and sang the hymn “I Am a Child of God” before leaving Temple Square (video below).

Asked why they wanted to attend the Priesthood Session, one woman told us, “Because I am an active, faithful Mormon woman, and I sincerely desire to listen to the prophet, and it was a real blow to have men and boys walking by me as they were permitted to walk in and I was not.”

Meanwhile outside of the Conference Center, a pair of Mormon women opposing the “Ordain Women” movement held up signs saying, “I don’t need the priesthood to be equal to my husband.” Asked what they thought of the women trying to attend the Priesthood Session, one of them said, “I don’t think they understand the doctrine very well.”

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