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

Tobe Felkins, Missionary Journal Excerpt (20 November 1898)

Elder Tobe Felkins, Portrait from January 1900

Nov[ember] 20, [1898.]

We arose this Sabbath morning feeling quite well and the morning quite bright but cool. We did not eat breakfast this morning as it was fast day and today was the day that we had appointed to baptize Miss Martha Jane Kyle. So after the folks got through with their breakfast, and after chores, they got ready for to go to the baptizing.

And the lady that has applied for baptism is a cripple and can’t walk a step and hasn’t for several years, she can’t even so much as stand on her feet. So Mr. Dawson’s son Allen and Mrs. A. J. Dawson took their team and wagon and went to and halled Miss Kyle and several others to the water to where we had selected a place for the baptizing. We Elders walked, and we arrived at the water edge in due time. The hour appointed was eleven o’clock a.m., and the news had been well circulated and there was quite a large crowd of people came out to see the baptism performed. And there has been many rumors gone out about the Elders, and many [false] reports about the ways that the Latter day Saints perform this sacred ordinance, and some say one thing and some another.

We held a meeting at the water edge. I did the preaching, Elder Chipman Fraser offered the opening prayer, and Elder Chipman dedicated the water, and all seemed to give very good attention and we had good order. And as the lady could not walk, Mr. A. J. Dawson took his boat and they helped the lady into the boat, and Mr. William Kyle and Mr. Dawson and Elder Chipman and [Thomas] Bearden all went out in the boat, and I waded out into the water, as I was the one to do the baptizing.

And the ordinance was soon performed and the boat was soon rowed to the shore, and I soon got out of the water, for the water was quite cold. And as soon as we changed our clothes, we confirmed the lady a mem[ber] of the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Elder Chipman was the mouth piece. Then all of us Elders, and several others, went to Mr. A. J. Dawson’s and took dinner and then went to Mr. J. H. Kyle’s and held a meeting at 4 o’clock p.m. and had a nice meeting. Elder Chipman and I did the speaking. We spoke upon the law of tithing, and fasting, and prayer, and other doctrine.

So after meeting we talked for some time, and then Elder Allen and I went over to Mr. A. J. Dawson and spent the evening and night and had a very pleasant time, and [we] felt to rejoice that we had been permitted to baptize one person this day and for the many blessings that our Heavenly Father has been and is a blessing us with day by day, for they are many, and we feel to acknowledge his powerful hand in the same, for God the Eternal Father is the giver of all good gifts and blessings.

We spent the evening quite pleasant, a chatting with Mr. Dawson and family.


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).

Lillie Alice Gates Wall (18??-1949)

Lillie Alice Gates Wall.

Our side [of the D’Arbonne] was called Turkey Bluff. That was the boat landing, but we were back aways from the river, which was mostly cotton fields. All farmers had corn, cane, potatoes, and garden also. Uncle Henry Gates lived on Turkey Bluff in sight of the river and boats. […] I went on the water quite often in a dugout, which is a small narrow boat hewed out of a cypress log. When made by one who knows how to finish it up smooth and straight, it runs very nicely, but rocky. However, I continued having just about the same good time on my side of the river, and rode out to the P.O. often. This P.O. was kept by my great uncle and wife, [Jacob B.] Littleton Caver and Mary. […]


Mosely’s Bluff advertisement in the Farmerville Gazette (14 May 1879)

Mr. [Henry E.] Mosely owned and operated a general store and P.O. at his place about one mile from the boat landing on the river at Mosely’s Bluff, which was about four miles up the river from Rugg’s Bluff where the Walls lived. He had a grown son who, when he returned from school for summer vacation, came down to Henry [Napoleon] Wall’s place one Sunday when I was there—accidentally on purpose, of course. He was a very homely young man, but from a very nice family. Mr. Mosely used to say, “A dollar looked as big as a wagon wheel to him.” He was kind of odd—some kind of ‘furrener,’ but a good business man. […]

I believe it was about the year 1898 when the Mormon Elders first came [to Rugg’s Bluff].  I might relate here that when news of the Elders being in the community was reported, I and my husband [William H. Wall] were not interested—only in one way, and that was hoping they did not come to our place.  That is what Willie said, and I agreed with him. But fate meant it to be different, for one evening a few days later, two Mormon Elders walked down in front of our house. Willie and myself were sitting on the front porch, and he says in a low tone, “I bet that is the Mormon preachers now.”  But somehow he liked to be nice to people and proceeded to bounce up and exclaimed, “Good evening, gentlemen. Come right in!” I took the ‘back track’ into the kitchen until I decided they were going to stay. Willie came in and ordered supper for them, so I went out and met them. I was just a little afraid though. Tobe Felkins and Fraser were the names. They stayed overnight and Willie bought a Book of Mormon from them.

Elder Frederick H. Critchfield baptized Lillie Wall in the D'Arbonne at Rugg's Bluff

Elder Critchfield baptized Lillie Wall on July 28, 1901.

They departed for that time, but two others came along soon, and we drove up to the school house about 4 miles to hear them preach. By this time Willie was ‘drawing’ the Book of Mormon on all the folks that came to our place—he told us a history of the American Indians—and he kept still about Joseph Smith. But getting back to the meeting at the Henry School House, we both sat up and took notice. On the way home I said “Well, I have heard tonight just what I have been listening for all my life,” and Willie says “I can’t understand about the gospel being taken from the earth when we have had the Bible all the time.” So of course, there were discussions and investigations from then on, and the Elders were frequent visitors, which we were pleased to welcome.

Willie was baptized May 21, 1901. I was baptized July 28, 1901. […]

I want to tell you about our relations near us in Louisiana—mostly Willie’s folks. They were not very attentive to us before we were baptized. They did not seem to think anything about our salvation or ever mention religion to us, but after we united with the ‘Mormon’ church, they became very interested in our salvation. Those relations and friends were mostly members of the Baptist church, so they shouted in meetings and cried about us no little bit. One never having attended the revival meetings that the Baptists hold in the summer, cannot imagine the excitement among them sometimes. […] However some of our best and most hospitable friends belong to different churches and really do a lot of good—sympathetic and helpful in case of sickness, always willing to help without charge. […]

I lived in the state of Louisiana about 15 years and some of the best people I ever knew live there. Although they differ with me in religion, they are good as gold at heart. We had always lived in the country at Rugg’s Bluff (P.O. Moseley’s Bluff), La. School was three or four miles away, and so we became dissatisfied. We sold out our possessions at Rugg’s Bluff and emigrated to Utah in 1905, arriving at Price [Utah] in April. Willie bought a home there and we remained there for two years. At this time, we had four children and the oldest son Freddie passed away in July of that year at age twelve. The following year we visited Salt Lake City, and were admitted into the temple for which I am grateful.

William H. Wall, Lillie Alice Gates Wall, and children; taken c. 1903 in Louisiana.

William Henry and Lillie Gates Wall with children Freddie, Viola, and Esther (photo c. 1904).

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.

October 30, 1903 – Saturday

Mosely’s or Wall’s Bluff, Union P[arish], L[ouisiana].

I arrived at Monroe, La. this morning at 5:35 and was met at the station by Elder Warren Burraston. After a short rest we came by buggy to the above place and stayed to night with Bro. Frank Pardue. Conference to come tomorrow. On arriving here I learned that yesterday as Elders Frank Peterson and George F. Jackson were coming along the road they were assaulted by two gang men and were savagely struck with a two inch scantling. Elder Peterson was partially knocked down and Elder Jackson received injuries on the arm.

November 01, 1903 – Sunday

Mosely’s Bluff, La.

Yesterday and today we have held conference. Four priesthood and four public meetings were held. An excellent spirit prevailed among the Elders and the saints. The Elders are making very good progress in their work and in reforming themselves by study on the principles of the gospel. All were in good health except Elder Jensen, who has been having the chills and fever, but is some better now. Saturday at a priesthood meeting, Elder Warren A. Burraston was appointed and sustained as President of the Louisiana Conference, and Elder David F. Stevens as his counselor and Conference Supt. of S. Schools. Elder Stevens is from Alberta, Canada, Elder Burraston from Goshen, Utah. I stayed with Brother W[illiam] Wall Sat. and Sunday nights.

November 02, 1903 – Monday

Monroe, La.

This morning Brother Levi Powell brought me by team to Monroe, where I took train at 7:25 p.m. for Shreveport.

The 'road' up from the D'Arbonne Bottom below the Rugg's Bluff Cemetery. Pres. Duffin & the other Elders walked up this road, past the cemetery, and towards Francis Creek where the Rugg's Bluff Mormons met.

The ‘road’ below the Rugg’s Bluff Cemetery leading up from the D’Arbonne Bayou. At the beginning of the 20th century, President Duffin and the Mormon Elders would walk up this road and past the cemetery to the Mormon Meeting House about a mile away.

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.

April 26, 1898

A lovely cool day. We ate a hearty breakfast and started out for the Homesville settlement. We first visited Mr. Wilson, the postmaster, and he proved to be friendly, and he gave us the names of the trustees of the Homesville School House. […]

Tobe Felkins (January 1900) [contrasted]

Elder Tobe Felkins spent most of the year 1898 proselyting in Union Parish, Louisiana.

April 27, 1898

A clear cool morn. […] Started on a 3 mile trip to see the 5[th] trustee, and we found him all right, and he very kindly gave us permission to hold some meetings in the school house. So then the next thing for us to do was to walk about 5 miles to get back to the Homesville settlement and notify the people of the meeting. […]

Liliston Leroy Pardue

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

April 28, 1898

[…] This being fast we did not eat breakfast. So after we done our visiting we visited a few families, and one of the few was a very old gentleman, Mr. L[iliston] Pardue, Homesville, Union Parish, La. He met us at the gate and said, “I am glad that you came to see me, I have been looking for you for some time,” and invited us in and introduced us to his family, his wife, 4 daughters and 2 sons, all that he has at home with him. By and by the dinner bell rang and we answer the ring by appearing at the turning table spread with food, and the family proved to be very friendly to us, and the old gentleman was very jolly and made us welcome and told us that we was welcome to come to his house at any time and stay as long as wanted to.

We spent the afternoon with them and his daughters sang and played on the organ, and then we had a long talk upon the gospel and the afternoon passed away very nicely. Just before supper he told us if we had any washing that we wanted done to leave it, and he would have it done for us, and we thanked him and left our dirty clothes. So supper was prepared and we partook hearty of the apple cobbler and other food that had been prepared for us.

Liliston Pardue purchased a copy of the Book of Mormon from Elder Felkins. Latter-day Saints believe the Book of Mormon is sacred scripture alongside the Bible.

Then we started out to Homesville to hold meeting, and the old gentleman kindly invited us to come back and spend the night with them. So when we got to the meeting house we found the house lit and a large crowd came out, much larger than the night before, and the young people sang for us, and we had a nice time. So after meeting we returned to our friends, Mr. L[iliston] Pardue, and spent the night in peace. We sold him a Book of Mormon.

Elder Thomas George Fraser, from Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Elder Thomas G. Fraser.

April 29, 1898

We arose this morning feeling ill, but a very cloudy morning and looking very much like rain. After breakfast we started out to visit a few families that we had missed when passing through the settlement once before.

We walked some distance and it began to rain, but not very hard. By and by we came to a meeting house known as the Nebo Church, so we stayed in as it was not any trouble to gain an entrance as 3 doors and 2 windows was open. We are resting and waiting for it to quit raining. I am writing my journal and Elder Fraser is sitting by my side a reading and everything seems very quiet. […]

Then we called on an old gentleman, Mr. Wilson. […] We stayed for about 2 hours and the old man did not come, and I said to Elder Fraser, “I think that we will go and visit a few more families,” and the old lady asked us to hold prayer with them before we left, and she invited 2 of her neighbors in and we sang a song, and I read the 6[th] chapter of Heb[rews] and prayed for them. […]

Then we went to Holmesville and held a meeting, and there was a large crowd out and we had a very nice time. […]

April 30, 1898

A beautiful morning. […] We called on a family of kind friends, Mr. L[iliston] Pardue, and spent a 2 or 3 hours with them, and they insisted that we should take dinner with them, but we had promised to take dinner with E. J. Calk, a very kind friend. So Brother Pardue’s girls sang a few songs and played the organ. They have treated us very kind. They done our washing very nicely for us. […] So after dinner I done some writing. We was sorry that we could not take dinner with the Pardue family for they had sent one of the boys out to gather some mayhaws to make some pies for dinner, and also some young Irish potatoes. They were preparing a nice dinner for us, so we learned, but our promise was out so we felt it our duty to make good our promise, and we did so. […]

So in the afternoon we went to a different neighborhood. We walked 5 miles to Rugg’s Bluff and spent the night with Mr. W[illiam] H[enry] Wall and was kindly treated.

Source: MSS 16312. Tobe Felkins papers, 1895-1932. Church History Library. Th Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Transcription, T. Antley, 2013.

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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Relationship Advice: Give an Ultimatum


Everyone loves a good ultimatum. It’s your awesome, hardcore way of saying, “Hey, I’m doing something dramatic.” And people dig that.

See, all good relationships are built on ultimatums. Your boyfriend is taking too long to propose? Give him an ultimatum. Random blonde girl isn’t sure if she wants to date you exclusively? Give her an ultimatum. You don’t have to wait around for other people and their lazy apathetic decision making anymore. Today’s the day that you can take back control of your life.

And the best part is when the deadline passes and he/she decided not to do what you wanted, you can just decide that you were bluffing anyway. Win-win.

Stuart Stevens speaks out about Romney and 2012 campaign

Romney’s chief campaign strategist Stuart Stevens, who has kept his head low since his campaign’s loss on November 6, penned an op-ed in the Washington Post today: “Mitt Romney: A good man. The right fight.”

Nobody liked Romney except voters. What began in a small field in New Hampshire grew into a national movement. It wasn’t our campaign, it was Mitt Romney. He bested the competition in debates, and though he was behind almost every candidate in the primary at one time or the other, he won the nomination and came very close to winning the presidency.

In doing so, he raised more money for the Republican Party than the Republican Party did. He trounced Barack Obama in debate. He defended the free-enterprise system and, more than any figure in recent history, drew attention to the moral case for free enterprise and conservative economics.


On Nov. 6, Mitt Romney carried the majority of every economic group except those with less than $50,000 a year in household income. That means he carried the majority of middle-class voters. While John McCain lost white voters under 30 by 10 points, Romney won those voters by seven points, a 17-point shift. Obama received 41/million fewer voters in 2012 than 2008, and Romney got more votes than McCain.

The Obama organization ran a great campaign. In my world, the definition of the better campaign is the one that wins.

But having been involved in three presidential races, two that we won closely and one that we lost fairly closely, I know enough to know that we weren’t brilliant because Florida went our way in 2000 or enough Ohioans stuck with us in 2004. Nor are we idiots because we came a little more than 320,000 votes short of winning the Electoral College in 2012. Losing is just losing. It’s not a mandate to throw out every idea that the candidate championed, and I would hope it’s not seen as an excuse to show disrespect for a good man who fought hard for values we admire.


Yes, the Republican Party has problems, but as we go forward, let’s remember that any party that captures the majority of the middle class must be doing something right. When Mitt Romney stood on stage with Barack Obama, it wasn’t about television ads or whiz- bang turnout technologies, it was about fundamental Republican ideas versus fundamental Democratic ideas. It was about lower taxes or higher taxes, less government or more government, more freedom or less freedom. And Republican ideals — Mitt Romney — carried the day.

On Nov. 6, that wasn’t enough to win. But it was enough to make us proud and to build on for the future.

Stevens was the subject of criticism from politicians, pundits, and occasionally fellow staff members for much of the election, and he was often the center of any rumors of campaign infighting.

Obama Campaign Manager: Jon Huntsman Would Have Been Tougher Candidate

Huntsman family just prior to John Huntsman announcing his presidential bid on June 21, 2011 at Liberty State Park. (Mel Evans/AP)

In an interview with Politico‘s Mike Allen, Jim Messina, the 2012 Obama campaign’s manager, revealed that his team believed that former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who also served as President Obama’s Ambassador to China, would likely have been a tougher general election opponent than Mitt Romney.

“Um, hmm, that’s a good question,” Messina said when Allen asked him which GOP candidate he believed would have had the best chance of beating Obama. “Look, I think we were honest with our concerns about [Jon] Huntsman. I think Huntsman would have been a very tough general election candidate. And as someone who helped manage his confirmation for the Chinese ambassador, I can tell you, you know, he’s a good guy, we look at his profile in a general election and thought he would be difficult.”

When Allen suggested that Obama’s team chose Huntsman as the ambassador to China in order to take him off the “chess board,” Messina responded, “No, I thought he was a committed American who would serve our country well, and he did.”

Abby Huntsman Livingston, Huntsman’s daughter who campaigned for her father before and during the Republican primaries, told the Salt Lake Tribune Tuesday that it was great to hear “confirmation” from the Obama campaign about her father’s appeal.

“My dad is a principled, thoughtful and experienced leader ready to tackle the challenges of the 21st century,” Abby Livingston said. “In fact, many of the ideas he spoke to during the primaries, Republicans now recognize as a message more in line with a majority of Americans.”

In 2009, senior Obama adviser David Plouffe expressed concern over a potential Huntsman candidacy, with reporter Nikki Schwab describing Plouffe as “a wee bit queasy” over the possibility. “I think the one person in that party who might be a potential presidential candidate is Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah,” said Plouffe at the time. “I think he’s really out there and speaking a lot of truth about the direction of the party.”

Huntsman’s brief presidential campaign ended on January 16, 2012, when he dropped out of the race after placing third in the New Hampshire primary behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. After ending his candidacy, Huntsman tepidly endorsed Romney, who eventually became the party’s nominee but was defeated by President Obama in the general election.

Huntsman’s name was briefly rumored as a possible replacement for Hillary Clinton as President Obama’s Secretary of State. Huntsman currently sits on the boards of several private companies, including Ford Motor Company, and has said he has not ruled out the possibility of running again for public office.

Huntsman also served as the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore from 1992-1993 under President George H. W. Bush, at the time the youngest U.S. ambassador the nation had appointed in over a century.