Hannah was not baptized in a vacuum on 4 July 1834. Putting her baptism into historical context will help to explain the events that transpired after that date and their effect on the Carter family.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded on 6 Apr 1830. Mormon… “missionaries first arrived in Maine in 1832, and in that year they baptized Timothy Smith in Saco, after which a branch of the church was formed. Missionaries Wilford Woodruff and Jonathan Hale converted approximately one hundred persons from the Fox Islands—now Vinalhaven and North Haven—in 1837-1838. Forty-six converted in Bethel/Newry, Maine, between 1833 and 1870 (mostly during the 1830s)…” (Carole York, “WESTERN MAINE SAINTS [Part 4]- The York and Carter Families: Conversion to Mormonism and Western Migration, in The Courier, Volume 31, No. 4 (2007))
The arrival of missionaries and their success in converting people in the local communities was accompanied with much controversy and outright adversity to the new Church. A chapter in the town history of Saco, ‘The Mormon Invasion,’ describes the reaction to the missionaries by many townspeople: “The Mormon elders were unwearied in their efforts to enlarge the circle of their influence and to drum up recruits for their semi-religious community. Like flaming heralds, they traveled from town to town, and their evident sincerity and unbounded enthusiasm drew thousands to them. But there was determined opposition. The ministers of the gospel stood outside and openly warned their people to keep clear of these missionaries of a strange faith. The culminating effect proved that the spirit of the Mormons was identical to Cochranism [one of the new sects that grew out of the Second Great Awakening]. Both systems produced the same ruinous upheaval in the domestic circle, and the wreckage of blasted homes was scattered all along the coast where the devastating storm held sway.” (Ibid.)
In June of 1832 two Mormon missionaries arrived in Letter B (the present Upton, Maine about 20 miles northeast of Newry on the road to Errol, New Hampshire.) These men, Horace Cowan and Hazen Aldrich, obtained lodging in the home of Daniel Bean, Sr. Both Daniel Bean, Sr., and his son and namesake had, since coming to Letter B in the 1820s, welcomed clergymen representing various denominations—Baptist, Congregational, Methodist, Unitarian—and offered them a meeting room where they could preach. In that remote pioneer settlement, visitors “from away” were usually welcomed for the news they brought from the “civilized” world, and for many the preaching provided a change from the daily round of farm work and homemaking chores. The next day Hazen Aldrich arrived and the two Latter-day Saints (Mormons) began telling their story to anyone who had the time or interest to listen. One of Daniel Bean’s sons later reported that the preaching of Hazen Aldrich and Horace Cowan was so well received that the Mormons soon organized a church of a large number of members, entirely breaking up the Free Will Baptists and the Congregationalists. As Peter Smith Bean later recalled, “They took whole families . . . Half the settlers left and were believers in the Mormon doctrine.” (Mary E Valentine, WESTERN MAINE SAINTS, [Part 1] - Mormon Missionaries in the 1830s, in The Courier, Volume 29, No. 1 (2005))
|John F. Boynton|
Daniel Bean, Jr., was baptized 23 March 1833 into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He became active as an Elder, missionary and leader of the LDS branch in the western Maine mountains. It was this same Daniel Bean, Jr., who with John F. Boynton (a member of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church) arrived at the door of the Carter home on 4 July 1834. They had been busy converting several of the community previously. Dominicus Carter apparently had been baptized a few days earlier and just two days earlier they had baptized Patty Bartlett Sessions in the Andover West Surplus (now North Newry.) (Ibid.) It was mentioned earlier that Hannah’s miraculous healing and baptism led to the growth of the Church in Newry but it appears the group had already begun to grow prior to her baptism.
The joy that Hannah experienced surely led her to want her other children to partake of spirit of this new faith of hers. Along with Dominicus, who appears to already be a member, Hannah was joined in baptism by her children John H (age 18) and Eliza Ann (age 16). The exact baptism date of another unmarried child, Richard Harrison (age 14), appears to have been about 31 Oct 1834. Two other married children William F (baptized 17 Nov 1834) and Hannah (who appears to have waited until 1844 to be baptized) shows the effect of the married children having a harder time to convert. Her oldest daughter Almira, who was already married in 1834 never did join the church. Her then 21 year old son, Philip Libby, soon left home for Massachusetts and didn’t join the church either, though he and Almira and their families joined the family in Tioga, Illinois years later. Lastly, the youngest daughter Mary Jane, just 11 in 1834, never joined the church but lived with John and Hannah until her marriage in Missouri in 1840.
There are no particulars known about how the Church functioned in Newry. Surely this growth of the LDS Church did cause some commotion within the community. The Mormon leadership didn’t leave these new members entirely to their own devices. Daniel Bean, Jr. and an Apostle, William McLellin, were in this area from Newry to Errol, New Hampshire in August of 1835. (Ibid.)
On 15 August 1835, Brigham Young and Lyman Johnson visited Newry. They held a conference at the home of David and Patty Sessions, and Brigham Young crossed the Androscoggin River to preach at the Middle Intervale Meetinghouse, in Bethel, which at the time was without a settled pastor. At the meeting in the Sessions home, Young spoke of “establishing Zion” somewhere in the west, a place where Saints could live together and practice their religious beliefs without fear of persecution. He encouraged the local Saints to sell their farms and travel to Missouri to join others in this endeavor. On August 21 of the same year, the Sessions were visited by another Mormon elder and missionary, William McLellin, who recorded in his journal that he had preached about two hours at a “bro Cessions… Brigham Young and other members of the Twelve Apostles visited Newry again in August 1836, and once more preached in at Middle Intervale. He again urged the members of the Newry branch to sell their farms in Maine and travel to Missouri where the Saints were gathering.” (Mary E. Valentine, WESTERN MAINE SAINTS, [Part 2] - A Newry Family Who Joined the Latter-Day Saints in Seeking a Home in the West, The Courier, Volume 29, No. 2 (2005))
|Middle Intervale Church, Bethel, Maine|
So as Hannah became familiar with her faith the leaders of the Church were already imploring the members to leave Maine and head out west where the Church was gathering. Hannah had to be conflicted in this – especially with a husband that didn’t believe in her new faith. Her married sons Dominicus and William did heed this call and left for Kirtland, Ohio in 1836 (probably in the spring.) At this point Hannah faced a difficult dilemma. She had two single children, John approaching 20 and Eliza 18, who if they stayed in Newry would find it difficult to find someone of the faith to marry. Surely it was their mother, Hannah, who was behind the fact that these two unmarried children left with their married siblings that spring and traveled to Ohio. Hannah would be vindicated for this move as both John and Eliza found mates and married within the Mormon faith during the short time they were in Kirtland.
This left Hannah and her younger son, Richard Harrison as the only Carter family members of the Church left in Newry by the end of the year 1836. John apparently saw no reason to be leaving Newry and Hannah, having to make a choice, chose to stay with her husband. She and John surely loved one another as though the family was being pulled apart, they stayed together.
There is evidence to support the assertion that John and Hannah remained in Newry. His wife and some children did affect his standing in the community as he held no office in Newry from 1833 until March of 1836. At that time, he was elected a Fence Viewer (inspector). Later in March 1838 he was chosen as a Highwayman (overseer) on the same day he was elected Constable and Tax Collector. So any assertion that John and Hannah were in Kirtland during this time simply can’t be true.
(Coming up – The Carters finally leave Maine for Missouri.)