The collection consists of diaries, memoirs, notes, and correspondence compiled by East Carolina University alumnus Joel Hancock, a bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, for use in the writing of
Strengthened by the Storm. The majority of documents are journals set in Eastern North Carolina. These writings describe the efforts of Mormon Elders, assigned to the church's Southern States Mission, to take their religious message to non-Mormons and convert them. Specific details include information about meetings and services; playing music and singing; canvassing an area house-to-house; administering to the sick, baptisms and confirmations; lodging and food; fasting; and traveling by foot, train, cart, buggy, and boat. Infrequently mentioned in the diaries are the specifics of Mormon theology, while the reactions of people to their message, unfamiliar customs and lifestyles, and new places are described at length.
The collection begins with a Mormon conference history of Harkers Island; an article focusing on Hancock; excerpts from the published
Elder's Journal (February-March 1906, May 1909); reminiscences of Mormons in North Carolina pertaining to the histories of Harkers Island and Shackleford Banks; a copy of
History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in North Carolina; and biographical information pertaining to elders who served in the Southern States Mission.
The bulk of the collection consists of the diaries of Mormon missionaries sent to North Carolina for the Southern States Mission and includes the journals of William A. Adams (1900-1902), James Godfrey (1899-1901), William M. Hansen (1897-1898),William R. Hobbs (1901-1903), Lewis Johnson (1903-1905), William A. Petty (1905-1906), and James Taylor (1900-1902). Journal entries focus primarily on activities and events in Beaufort, Carteret, and Craven counties, NC. Entries mention Bath (Taylor, March 1902, p. 125), Goldsboro, Harkers Island, Havelock, Kinston, Marshallsburg, Morehead City, Plymouth, Washington, Wilmington, and many other North Carolina towns and sites.
Throughout the journals, a subject greatly stressed is the importance of music in the missionaries' lives. Further described are the missionaries' duties, especially holding meetings and distributing religious tracts and dodgers. Further entries note the elders' obligations of performing baptisms (Hansen, March 1897, p. 25; Petty, July 1906, p. 156); reporting on the activities of the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association (Johnson, October 1903, pp. 4-5); gathering materials and constructing a Mormon church on Harkers Island (Johnson, December 1903-February 1904, pp. 8-17); and preparations for Christmas on Harkers Island and in Marshallsburg (Johnson, December 1904, pp. 65-66). Another responsibility of the elders was to medically treat church members and each other. Mentioned are "chickers" (chiggers), a poisonous spider bite, "mad itch," and a terrible case of rheumatism that was "cured" (Hansen, August-September 1897, pp. 26-27, 29-30, November 1898, pp. 110-111); caring for an ill Mormon family (Hansen, June-July 1898, pp. 91-93); and a woman with "fits" who was "cured" by an elder (Petty, January 1906, pp. 105-107). Other entries mention a smallpox outbreak in Clinton and a likely quarantine (Taylor, January 1902, p. 113) and malarial fever (Adams, Vol. 2, November 1901, p. 102).
In addition to teaching others about Mormonism and gaining new church members, elders attended the services of different religious denominations. Detailed are Catholic and Methodist funerals (Adams, Vol. 2, April 1901, p. 40; Johnson, November 1903, p. 5); Primitive Baptist convictions against dancing and fiddling and a Baptist tent revival in Raleigh (Hobbs, Vol. 1, March and September 1902, pp. 64-65, 129); and a very detailed description of a Catholic church in Wilmington (Johnson, March 1905, pp. 74-76). Journal entries take special note of the religious activities and daily lives of the Negro population, and throughout the diaries, Negroes are mentioned in a variety of contexts. Particularly interesting entries include references to a Negro "Holy Roller" Pentecostal revival in Beaufort (Hansen, December 1897, pp. 57-58); Negro funerals in Franklin County and near Seven Springs (Hansen, July 1898, p. 94; Adams, Vol. 2, January 1902, p. 146); dinner with a black family, a Negro minister, fashionable blacks, and courting (Adams, Vol. 1, May-July 1900, pp. 15-17, 26, 44, 64-66); a "colored" insane asylum (Taylor, October 1901, p. 104); a "colored" camp meeting in Raleigh and the boisterous religious responses of Negroes at a street meeting in Onslow County (Hobbs, Vol. 1, August 1902, p. 119, Vol. 2, May 1903, pp. 51-52); and Negroes singing outside of Wilmington (Johnson, October 1904, pp. 56-57).
Throughout every diary, entries describe the antagonism and persecution faced by the missionaries in different North Carolina towns. Some very threatening incidents described are the arrest of elders in Kinston for disturbing the peace, being greatly harassed and pelted with eggs in Dunn, and being nearly hanged (Hansen, September-November 1897, pp. 35-36, 40, 45). Other entries detail anti-Mormon feelings and mob violence in Cabarrus County (Adams, Vol. 1, June-July 1900, pp. 33-38, 68-70); the antagonism of people in Plymouth (Taylor, January 1901, p. 30); verbal abuse by a man with a gun and being called the "very trash of humanity" (Hobbs, Vol. 1, May and August 1902, pp. 80, 115); the arrival of police at a street meeting with Negroes in Winston (Hobbs, Vol. 2, July 1903, pp. 96-97); the very negative investigation of Senator Smoot and Mormonism as reported in the Raleigh
News and Observer (Johnson, March 1904, pp. 22-24); and the burning of the Mormon church and school on Harkers Island, including the sheriff's warning to stay away from the island (Petty, January-February 1906, pp. 113-114, 116-117, 128). Throughout the journals, notes are made frequently concerning negative feelings and statements made toward the elders and about Mormonism.
Food and its procurement are referred to consistently throughout the journals, and the missionaries noted a variety of coastal foods that were unique to them including fish, clams, and oysters. Special occasions were described including a Thanksgiving Day feast (Hansen, November 1898, p. 110). Regularly mentioned are melons, grapes, peaches, cherries, sweet potatoes, dewberries, green beans, apples, peanuts, cake, strawberries, bananas, crackers, and huckleberries. Finding shelter was also a daily concern and in return for meals and a bed, the missionaries often did farm work. Work described includes picking corn (Godfrey, August 1899, pp. 19-20; Taylor, November 1900, pp. 18-19); cutting, curing, and stringing tobacco (Godfrey, September 1900, p. 92); shearing sheep (Adams, Vol. 3, May 1901, pp. 43-44); and picking peas, feeding pigs, milking cows, and cutting wood (Hobbs, Vol. 1, December 1902, p. 147).
The missionaries also enjoyed outings while in Eastern North Carolina and the diaries frequently note sites and events that were new to the Mormons. Described often are Cape Lookout Lighthouse and Lifesaving Station (Adams, Vol. 2, December 1901, pp. 132-133; Hobbs, Vol. 2, June 1903, p. 80; Johnson, December 1903, pp. 11-12, July 1904, p. 38; Petty, December 1905, pp. 99-100); and sailboat races at Shell Point (Hobbs, Vol. 2, June 1903, p. 77; Johnson, July 1904, p. 37). Other activities noted include the killing of a beached whale off Harkers Island (Hansen, February 1898, pp. 70-71), reminiscences about whaling, and net fishing (Godfrey, November 1899, p. 47); a circus in Kinston (Hansen, October 1898, p. 105); a parade and circus in Goldsboro (Adams, Vol. 2, October 1901, p. 96); and beach activities such as collecting shells, roasting oysters and clams, and swimming (Hobbs, Vol 1, February 1903, pp. 170-171, Vol. 2, July 1903, pp. 90-91).
Also recorded in the journals were the different types of boats and ships encountered during the missionaries' travels, either for transportation or as tourist sites. During a visit to the Norfolk, VA, Navy Yard, the monitor USS
ARKANSAS (BM-7), the passenger steamer
ALABAMA, and torpedo boats in the harbor are noted (Hobbs, Vol. 2, August 1903, pp. 112-113). At a wharf in Wilmington, the Revenue Cutter
TUSCARORA is mentioned, and efforts to put out a fire on a ship are detailed (Hobbs, March-April 1903, Vol. 1, p. 175, Vol. 2, pp. 25-27). Especially interesting entries mention the use of sharpies, a flat bottomed and gaffed-rig sailing boat, for travel in the North Carolina sounds and rivers. Detailed are a sharpie that carried thirty-four people to the banks near the Cape Lookout Lifesaving Station (Adams, Vol. 2, December 1901, p. 132); a trip on the "sharpy"
RIPPEL from Harkers Island to New Bern through the Newport and Neuse rivers for supplies, including shingles (Johnson, December 1903, pp. 9-11); and the near wrecking of a "sharpy" that some missionaries luckily did not board (Johnson, July 1904, pp. 38-39. Throughout the diaries, passing mention is made of boats, steamers, sailboats, and skiffs.
Shipwrecks seen on the beach are also detailed in the diaries, including a three-masted sailing vessel loaded with coal and a large tugboat (Johnson, December 1903, p. 12). Reminiscences of people living on Shackleford Banks include details of the wrecking of the ships
CRISSY WRIGHT (January 1886),
SARAH D. J. RAWSON (February 1905), and
ADVENTURE. Other wrecks mentioned include the
OLIVE THURLOW, MARTHA WALLAS, and steamer
THISTLEROY (December 1911).
Miscellaneous topics addressed in the journals include the chewing of snuff by women and the mention of dipping brushes, spit cans, and spitting (Hansen, August 1897, p. 23; Adams, Vol. 1, June 1900, p. 47, Vol. 2, February 1902, pp. 155, 161); a turpentine still, cotton gin, and mowing machines (Godfrey, September 1899, p. 34; Taylor, October 1900, p. 16); Civil War monuments in Chattanooga, TN (Adams, Vol. 1, May 1900, pp. 19-21; Taylor, August 1900, pp. 7-8); descriptions of plantations in Cabarrus County and in Craven County near New Bern that note the number of workers and buildings (Adams, Vol 1, May 1900, p. 25, Vol. 2, June 1901, pp. 65-66); and a chain gang near Tarboro (Hobbs, Vol. 1, May 1902, pp. 85-86). Some missionaries provide statistics of their activities that note the number of baptisms performed, people blessed, and miles walked (Adams, Vol. 1, pp. 156-171, Vol. 2, pp. 171-180; Hansen, pp. 116-117; Taylor, pp. 170-173).
The collection also contains the reminiscences and family histories of John W. Telford and Samuel O. White, Sr., and the correspondence and family history of John Wall. Correspondence between Hancock and the families of the diarists, requesting information for use in
Strengthened by the Storm (September 1986-February 1988), is interspersed with the diaries throughout the collection. Lastly, genealogical information is included for the Davis, Harker, Lewis, Nelson, Salter, Wall, and Willis families of Carteret County, NC; the Ingram family of Beaufort and Pamlico counties, NC; theBerrett, Burbidge, Godfrey, Greenwood, Hacking, Hobbs, Johnson, Petty, Taylor, and Thorne families of Utah; the Shurtliff family of Idaho; the Bischoff and Richins families of Utah and Idaho; the Maxwell family of Utah and Nevada; and the Jensen family of Utah and Wyoming.