ELDER CHIEF SAMUEL BLUE
GENERAL CONFERENCE Sunday, April 9 Third Day
Brethren and sisters, we are told that the Lord moves in mysterious ways, and I bear testimony this is true. It is wonderful to me that I have this privilege to enter this building and attend this conference.
I have been a member of the Church, as you have been told, for sixty-odd years. I am one of the poor Indians down there on the reservation, and as we were told a while ago, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” I surely bear testimony to this.
I was raised up as a poor boy, as I said before, and worked at 25 cents a day I fed my mother, brothers and sisters, and when I was fifteen years old, the missionaries came to my home and I have fed the Elders off my wages. I slept out in the woods to give my bed to the Elders. I have wondered to myself, how would I get through this world, but nevertheless, I seek to do the will of God. I fasted and prayed unto him for a blessing, and we have been told if we seek God, other things will be added unto us, and this is one of the “adds” that have been given to me. I am thankful for those blessings.
I have lived at home with two missionaries in my house. They were boarding in Rock Hill. Their room was costing them fifteen dollars a week. I said: “Elders, come to my home. I have a cabin with a room in it you can use, with two beds in it”; so they have taken the room, they eat at my table, sleep under my roof. They want to pay me wages for staying there. I say: “No. The Lord has provided for me and he is providing for you. I want no pay.”
So when I left home the other day, Elder Price, he had a hundred dollars in his pocketbook. He offered me part of it. I said: “No, I don’t want it.” “Well,” he said, “you made it for me.” I said: “How did I make it?” “You did not charge me for my bedroom or for food, and by so doing I have been able to accumulate this much which my parents have sent to me.” I said: “If I have done you that much good by the will of God, keep it and use it in your mission.”
I know that this gospel is true. I have tasted the blessing and joy of God. I have seen the dead raised; I have seen the sick whom the doctors have given up, through the administration of the Elders they have been restored to life.
My brothers and sisters, beyond a shadow of a doubt I know that this gospel is true. My wife is with me and she is not very well, and I have not been feeling well either. She told me last night, we
had better go home. I said: “Why? I have come here for a good purpose, and if I die here I would just as leave die here as in the world till I have filled the obligation that I am sent here to do. Now may God bless you, Amen.
President David O. McKay:
You have just had the unusual experience of hearing from one of our Indian members from the Catawba Tribe, Elder Chief Blue. President George Albert Smith will now make a few comments upon that and such other comments as he will wish to make.
PRESIDENT GEORGE ALBERT SMITH
When I was twenty-one years of age, I was sent on a mission to the southern states. I became secretary of the mission, and while there was called to Columbia, South Carolina, because some of our elders had become seriously ill. It was difficult to get word back and forth, so I got on a train and went down there. I found that they were improved and getting along all right.
When I bade them good-bye, I boarded the train and started home, and we passed a little Indian settlement at the side of the track. I saw evidence that there were quite a number of Indians here, so I reached over and touched the man who was sitting in the seat in front of me, and I said, “Do you know what Indians these are?”
He said, “They are the Catawbas.” That is the tribe that Chief Blue represents, who has just spoken to us. I asked, “Do you know where they come from?” He said, “Do you mean the Catawbas?” I replied, “Any Indians.”
He said, “Nobody knows where the Indians came from.”
“Oh,” I said, “yes they do.” I was talking then to a man about forty-five or fifty years old, and I was twenty-one.
He questioned, “Well, where did they come from?”
I answered, “They came from Jerusalem six hundred years
before the birth of Christ.”
“Where did you get that information?” he asked.
I told him, “From the history of the Indians.”
“Why,” he said, “I didn’t know there was any history of the Indians.”
I said, “Yes, there is a history of the Indians. It tells all about them.” Then he looked at me as much as to say: My, you are trying to put one over on me.
But he said, “Where is this history?”
“Would you like to see one?” I asked. And he said that he certainly would. I reached down under the seat in my little log- cabin grip and took out a Book of Mormon and handed it to him.
He exclaimed, “My goodness, what is this?”
I replied, “That is the history of the ancestry of the American Indian.”
He said, “I never heard of it before. May I see it?”
I said, “Yes” and after he had looked at it a few minutes, he turned around to me and asked, “Won’t you sell me this book? I don’t want to lose the privilege of reading it through.”
“Well,” I said, “I will be on the train for three hours. You can read it for that long, and it won’t cost you anything.” I had found that he was getting off farther on, but I had to get off in three hours.
In a little while he turned around again and said, “I don’t want to give up this book. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
I could see that he apparently was a refined and well-educated man. I didn’t tell him I really wanted him to read the book, but I said, “Well, I can’t sell it to you. It is the only one I have.” (I didn’t tell him I could get as many more as I wanted.)
He said, “I think you ought to sell it to me.”
I replied, “No, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. You keep it for three weeks, and at the end of that time you send it to me at Chattanooga,” and I gave him my card with my address on, secretary of the mission.
So we bade one another good-bye, and in about two weeks he wrote me a letter saying, “I don’t want to give this book up. I am sure you can get another, and I will pay you any price you want for it.”
Then I had my opportunity. I wrote back, “If you really enjoy the book and have an idea it is truly worth while, accept it with my compliments.” I received a letter of thanks back from him.
I speak of that because that was the first time I had ever heard of the Catawba Indians, and there were only a few of them. I understand now from Chief Blue that ninety-seven percent of them
are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Meeting 15 Years Later
Coming back to this book again — Brother B. H. Roberts and I were sent some fifteen years later down into the southern states to visit the mission. When we arrived at the hotel at Columbia, we registered and went into our room, and soon after a knock came at the door and a colored man said, “There’s a man downstairs that wants to see George A. Smith.” That was the way I used to write my name, and I wrote it that way before I was married.
I said to Brother Roberts, “What will we do?” and he replied, “Send him up,” so the man went back, and pretty soon up came a man and knocked on the door, and we opened it.
He reached out his hand and said, “My, I am glad to see you.”
I said, “I am glad if you’re glad to see me; I am happy to see you, but who are you?” and he gave me his name.
I asked, “What can I do for you?”
He said, “Don’t you remember me?”
I told him, “Remember you? I don’t believe I ever saw you before.”
He said, “Isn’t your name George A. Smith?” and I said, “Yes.”
“Well, he replied, “I am sure you’re the man. I met George A. Smith years ago as he was doing missionary work here.”
I answered, “Oh, that is easily explained, there was another George A. Smith here doing missionary work, too.”
“Oh,” he said, “it wasn’t any other George A. Smith. It was you. Nobody that ever saw that face would forget it.”
“Well,” I said, “I guess I must be the man.”
Then he related this story. He said, “You were on a train, and we passed the Catawba Indian Reservation.”
I interrupted, “I remember all about it now.” It all came back in an instant.
He said, “I want to tell you something. I read that book, and I was so impressed with it that I made up my mind I would like to take a trip down into Central America and South America, and I took that book with me in my bag when I went down there. As a result of reading it, I knew more about those people than they knew about themselves.
“I lost your address; I didn’t know how to find you, and all these years I wanted to see you, and today after you registered downstairs I happened to be looking at the hotel register and I saw your name. That is how I found you.
“I am a representative of the Associated Press for this part of the United States. I understand you are here in the interest of your people.” – –
And I answered, “Yes, Mr. Roberts and I both are here for that purpose,”
And he said, “If there is anything I can do for you while you are here, if you want anything put in the press, give it to me and it won’t cost you a cent. But,” he continued, “I want to tell you one other thing, I have kept your missionaries out of jail; I have got them free from mobs; I have helped them every way I could; but I have never been able to get your address until now.”
Chief Blue and Catawba Indians
So you may be interested, brethren and sisters, in knowing that I am delighted in seeing Chief Blue here today, representing that tribe of fine Indians. I have seen some of them since. I have met one very fine young woman who is a schoolteacher, and others I have met of that race; in fact, I have some trinkets in my office that were sent to me by members of that tribe.
I am happy to have this good man here who represents one of the tribes that descended from Father Lehi as well as some of the others that are in our audience today. One good man that I am looking at here came to the temple during the week and was sealed to his wife. They are coming into the Church all around, and I am so grateful this morning to be here and hear this man who for sixty years has been a faithful leader among his people and now comes to this general conference and bears testimony to us.
It is a great work that we are identified with. Not the least of our responsibilities is to see that this message is carried to the descendants of Lehi, wherever they are, and give them an opportunity to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How glorious it is to know that we have that information, and we have the knowledge that there were others resurrected, as recorded in the New Testament. And then we have the information in the Book of Mormon of the coming of the Savior to this western hemisphere, and we have the appearance of John the Baptist, and Peter, James, and John, and the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith in these latter days. No other people have what we have. I don’t know of any people who ought to be so anxious and willing and grateful to be able to celebrate this day that is recognized in the world as the anniversary of the resurrection of the Redeemer of mankind, and that meant the opening of the grave for all humanity.
I pray the Lord to bless us that we may be worthy because of our lives to keep this testimony, that not only we, but all we can reach may receive that witness and carry it to our brothers and sisters of all races and creeds, and particularly to the descendants of Lehi, until we have done our duty by them. I am sure that when the time comes for the resurrection, that all who are in their tombs and worthy shall be raised from their graves, and this earth shall become the celestial kingdom, and Jesus Christ, our Lord, will be our King and our Lawgiver — that we will rejoice that we have availed ourselves of the truth and applied it in our lives. That is what the gospel teaches us. That is what the gospel offers to us if we will accept it, and I pray that we may be worthy of it in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
The first LDS member in South Carolina is believed to be Emmanual Masters Murphy, who was baptized in Tennessee in 1836. When Elder Lysander M. Davis arrived in South Carolina in 1839 (nine years after the Church was organized in New York), he found the Murphys had people prepared for baptism. Seven of these were baptized.
Opposition arose and Davis was briefly jailed. Murphy had reportedly spoken with Church President Joseph Smith in the late 1830s, and was told to warn South Carolinians of the destruction soon to hit their state, “the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls … the Southern states will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain…” This warning saw reality in 1861, when the Confederates attacked Fort Sumter, and the Civil War commenced.
A Catawba Potter
Main article: Catawba (tribe) § Catawba religion and culture
The South Carolina Conference was organized on March 31, 1882, with its first president as Elder Willard C. Burton of the Southern States Mission. (Southern States Mission History 1832-1880) The Kings Mountain Baptist Church had several families convert on March 12, 1882. Some of the earliest branches were established at King’s Mountains beginning March 3, 1882, and among the Catawba Indian community beginning July 31, 1885. Conference headquarters were established at the plantation of John Shaw Black, a man who remained unbaptized in order to provide refuge for the Church, and a veteran of the Palmetto Sharpshooters. Many converts, including Indians, moved onto his plantation to escape persecution. The Catawbas also shielded missionaries from persecutions. Two families were noted in Missionary journals as being home base, James and Elizabeth W Patterson’s home shielded them on the occasions of the mobs hunting them. Evan and Lucy Marsh Watts were the host family when Elder C E Robinson died, and they were again helping when the two Elders were injured, Elder W C Cragun and F A Franughton. Most of the Catawbas joined the Church and remained faithful in South Carolina.
One of the more known LDS members of the Catawba tribe was Samuel Taylor Blue (Chief Blue). Blue was baptized in 1897. A few years later he served as branch president of the branch of the LDS Church on the Catawba Reservation. In the early 20th century he would often help missionaries escape mobs. In 1950 Blue traveled to Salt Lake City and gave a talk at General Conference on April 9.
Another Catawba, the first Lamanite Patriarch, William F Canty came from 5 families who moved west with the Migration in 1887. His father John Alonzo Canty was the first Branch President of the Gaffney area, and James Patterson, his grandfather was the first Branch President of the Catawba Branch. William (Buck) Canty spoke at the BYU Indian school graduation many times in the 1970s and toured with the Lamanite Generation in 1978.
Genealogy of the Western Catawba, Missionary Journals of Joseph P Willey and Pinkney Head, and My Father’s people, all written by Judy Canty Martin. News articles from the Church news in 1978 and other sources of family.
Progress and persecution continued in the 1890s. Mobs often gathered to persecuted missionaries. In 1897, mobs burned one of South Carolina’s first Latter-day Saint meetinghouses in ab area called by locals Centerville near the small town of Ridgeway South Carolina. It was rebuilt and burned again in 1899.
Branches organized included Society Hill, Columbia, Charleston, and Fairfield. However, as converts migrated to the West, branches dwindled, and some were reorganized later with new converts. The South Carolina conference included six branches (four with meetinghouses) and 10 Sunday Schools.
On November 20–21, 2004, President Hinckley spoke to nearly 12,000 Church members in Columbia, S.C., with proceedings carried to 11 meetinghouses in 11 other stakes in South Carolina and Georgia.
BOOK OF MORMON PRO-
MISES TO INDIANS COMING
TRUE, SAYS CHIEF. — One of
the most colourful figures among
the Latter-day Saints is Chief
Samuel “Thunderbird” Blue, 82-
year-old former chief of the
Catawba Indians of South Caro-
His tribe is located on a reser-
vation near Rockhill, South Caro-
lina, and more than 90 per cent,
of them are Latter-day Saints.
They have a new chapel which
was dedicated there two years
ago by President McKay. Chief
Blue, one of the oldest members
of the Church among the Cataw-
bas, spoke at those dedicatory
services. He paid a visit to Salt
Lake City in 1948, having the
privilege of speaking from the
pulpit of the Salt Lake Taber-
He and his wife were the first
of their tribe to go through
a Mormon temple. This they
did when they were in Salt Lake
City. Missionaries first came to
the Catawbas about 70 years ago.
Then there were only about 100
of these Indians. Now there are
Chief Blue said that the “Book
of Mormon promise to the
Indians is coming true and that
the younger generation of In-
dians are now very light.”
CUMORAH’S SOUTHERN MESSENGER June, 1954
EZRA TAFT BENSON
A c. 1724 English copy of a deerskin Catawba map of the tribesbetween Charleston (left) and Virginia (right) following the displacements of a century of disease and enslavement and the 1715–7 Yamasee War. The Catawba themselves are labelled as “Nasaw”.
From the earliest period, the Catawba have also been known as Esaw, or Issa (Catawba iswä, “river”), from their residence on the principal stream of the region. They called both the present-day Catawba and Wateree rivers Iswa. The Iroquois frequently included them under the general term Totiri, or Toderichroone, also known as Tutelo. The Iroquois collectively used this term to apply to all the southern Siouan-speaking tribes.
Albert Gallatin (1836) classified the Catawba as a separate, distinct group among Siouan tribes. When the linguist Albert Samuel Gatschet visited them in 1881 and obtained a large vocabulary showing numerous correspondences with Siouan, linguists classified them with the Siouan-speaking peoples. Further investigations by Horatio Hale, Gatschet, James Mooney, and James Owen Dorsey proved that several tribes of the same region were also of Siouan stock.
In the late nineteenth century, the ethnographer Henry Rowe Schoolcraft recorded the purported Catawba traditions about their history, including that they had lived in Canada until driven out by the Iroquois (supposedly with French help). They migrated to Kentucky and to Botetourt County, Virginia. By 1660 they had migrated south to the Catawba River, contesting it with the Cherokee in the area. The Kentucky River was also known as the Catawba River at times. Catawba Tribe was later a subtribe under Cherokee Chiefs authority at times. Limhi under Lamanites similarity??
But, 20th-century anthropologist James Mooney later dismissed most elements of Schoolcraft’s record as “absurd, the invention and surmise of the would-be historian who records the tradition.” He pointed out that, aside from the French never having been known to help the Iroquois, the Catawba had been recorded by 1567 in the same area of the Catawba River as their later territory. Mooney accepted the tradition that the Catawba and Cherokee had made the Broad River their mutual boundary, following a protracted struggle.
The Catawba were long in a state of warfare with northern tribes, particularly the Iroquois Seneca, and the Algonquian-speaking Lenape, a people who had occupied coastal areas and had become vassals of the Iroquois after migrating out of traditional areas due to European encroachment. The Catawba chased their raiding parties back to the north in the 1720s and 1730s, going across the Potomac River. At one point, a party of Catawba is said to have followed a party of Lenape who attacked them, and to have overtaken them near Leesburg, Virginia. There they fought a pitched battle.
Similar encounters in this longstanding warfare were reported to have occurred at present-day Franklin, West Virginia(1725), Hanging Rocks and the mouth of the Potomac South Branch in West Virginia, and near the mouths of Antietam Creek (1736) and Conococheague Creek in Maryland. Mooney asserted that the name of Catawba Creek in Botetourt came from an encounter in these wars with the northern tribes, not from the Catawba having lived there.
The colonial governments of Virginia and New York held a council at Albany, New York in 1721, attended by delegates from the Six Nations (Haudenosaunee) and the Catawba. The colonists asked for peace between the Confederacy and the Catawba, however the Six Nations reserved the land west of the Blue Ridge mountains for themselves, including the Indian Road or Great Warriors’ Path (later called the Great Wagon Road) through the Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia backcountry. This heavily traveled path, used until 1744 by Seneca war parties, went through the Shenandoah Valley to the South.
In 1738, a smallpox epidemic broke out in South Carolina. It caused many deaths, not only among the Anglo-Americans, but especially among the Catawba and other tribes, such as the Sissipahaw. They had no natural immunity to the disease, which had been endemic in Europe for centuries. In 1759, a smallpox epidemic killed nearly half the tribe. Native Americans suffered high fatalities from such infectious Eurasian diseases.
In 1744 the Treaty of Lancaster, made at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, renewed the Covenant Chain between the Iroquois and the colonists. The governments had not been able to prevent settlers going into Iroquois territory, but the governor of Virginia offered the tribe payment for their land claim. The peace was probably final for the Iroquois, who had established the Ohio Valley as their preferred hunting ground by right of conquest. The more western tribes continued warfare against the Catawba, who were so reduced that they could raise little resistance. In 1762, a small party of Algonquian Shawnee killed the noted Catawba chief, King Hagler, near his own village. From this time, the Catawba ceased to be of importance except in conjunction with the colonists.
In 1763, South Carolina confirmed a reservation for the Catawba of 225 square miles (580 km2; 144,000 acres), on both sides of the Catawba River, within the present York and Lancaster counties. When British troops approached during the American Revolutionary War in 1780, the Catawba withdrew temporarily into Virginia. They returned after the Battle of Guilford Court House, and settled in two villages on the reservation. These were known as Newton, the principal village, and Turkey Head, on opposite sides of Catawba River.
By President George Albert Smith
President of the Church
General Conference – April, 1950
A Missionary Experience and the Consequence
When I was twenty-one years of age, I was sent on a mission to the southern states. I became secretary of the mission, and while there was called to Columbia, South Carolina, because some of our elders had become seriously ill. It was difficult to get word back and forth, so I got on a train and went down there. I found that they were improved and getting along all right. When I bade them good-bye, I boarded the train and started home, and we passed a little Indian settlement at the side of the track. I saw evidence that there were quite a number of Indians there, so I reached over and touched the man who was sitting in the seat in front of me, and I said, “Do you know what Indians these are?” He said, “They are the Catawbas.” That is the tribe that Chief Blue represents, who has just spoken to us. . . I speak of that because that was the first time I had ever heard of the Catawba Indians, and there were only a few of them. I understand now from Chief Blue that ninety-seven percent of them are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. . . So you may be interested, brethren and sisters, in knowing that I am delighted in seeing Chief Blue here today, representing that tribe of fine Indians. I have seen some of them since. I have met one very fine young woman who is a schoolteacher, and others I have met of that race; in fact, I have some trinkets in my office that were sent to me by members of that tribe. I am happy to have this good man here who represents one of the tribes that descended from Father Lehi as well as some of the others that are in our audience today. One good man that I am looking at here came to the temple during the week and was sealed to his wife. They are coming into the Church all around, and I am so grateful this morning to be here and hear this man who for sixty years has been a faithful leader among his people and now comes to this general conference and bears testimony to us. George Albert Smith.