"That revelation should be renewed again in the latter days: God willing, is devoutly to be desired by all rational and intelligent beings." Harry Edgar Baker



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A Mysterious Preacher


H. Belnap


One calm sunny day in the month of May 1878, a supposed clap of thunder directly over the city of Lexington, Henderson County, Tennessee, rebounding from the hills and cliffs nearby, greatly excited the curiosity of the peoples of that region. The farmer stopped his plow, gazed around for an approaching storm, but seeing no cloud in the clear sky threw his plow again in to the furrow and plodded on, as though nothing had happened. The workman in his shop laid down his tools, walked to the door, to see from whence the storm was coming. The merchant and the tailor did the same, but seeing no sign of a storm returned in wonderment to their labor, and consoled themselves with the thought that the noise was only one of the phenomena of the nineteenth century.

One strange feature, however, of this occurrence was that every person who lived within eight miles of Lexington stated that the sound proceeded either from a bluff located near the city or else sounded directly overhead. Reports soon came that this peculiar sound was heard for thirty miles around.

In the afternoon of the same day a strange man appeared near Lexington, the county seat. He was rather spare built, of medium height, had fair skin, and dark brown hair which was rather thin and inclined to curl; his beard was of a reddish cast and not very heavy. Judging from his appearance his age was between twenty-seven and thirty years.

The object of this stranger was to announce a meeting which was to be held in the neighborhood that evening. Being rather poorly clad, and because of his seeming intimate acquaintance with the shortest roads in the fields and woods, he excited the curiosity of a great many people, and as a consequence the meeting house, that evening, was crowded to its utmost capacity.

At the hour appointed the stranger took his position on the stand. After looking around the assembly for a few moments arose, and in a very clear, sharp tone, called the audience to order. He then sang a hymn that was most pleasing both in sentiment and melody.

On arising to speak he astonished his congregation by not using that whining tone which is usually characteristic of modern divines, but spoke in a clear, decisive tone. He was very calm in his introductory remarks, but grew more eloquent as he entered deeper into his subject.

At the close of the services he appointed, at the solicitation of those present, several meetings to be held in the surrounding country.

He gave his name as Robert Edge, and said he belonged to the Church of God, but concerning the place from which he came, the inquirer received no satisfaction.

The news that a strange but eloquent preacher had come into the country, spread far and near. In his first circuit through different parts of the county this person pursued a very peculiar but effective course. Seemingly his object was to get all classes of people out to hear him.

By way of illustration, when he first entered a neighborhood whose dominant sect was of the Baptist persuasion, he would speak upon some gospel principle of which this class of people were particularly fond, and display its good features in a very pleasing and beautiful manner. It is needless to say that after thus speaking the Baptists would gather around him and express their appreciation of his remarks. When he entered a Methodist, Presbyterian or Campbellite neighborhood he pursued the same course with regard to the good features of their respective religions. Occasionally he would intermingle his ideas upon other principles, such as free thought, independence of character, etc. By this means he gathered around him the Methodist, Presbyterian, Campbellite and the so-called sinner. His fame as an eloquent speaker grew so rapidly that people of all classes gathered to hear him from localities twenty and thirty miles distant.

By this time a great many began questioning among themselves why it was that no one had ever seen Mr. Edge either come or go any great distance from the meeting house. When he would come to meeting no one remembered seeing him until after he had arrived in the crowd, or was in the pulpit. They at once appointed persons to watch him, but they, as well as the people, were sure to lose track of him before he had proceeded very far, unless he had, perchance, accepted an invitation to accompany some of his hearers home.

Mr. Edge being a supposed stranger in that locality, the people wondered why he did not ask his way when desiring to go from one place to another. One evening a gentleman who had never before seen the mysterious preacher came to his meeting, and was very much pleased with his discourse. At the close of the meeting the stranger arose to his feet and asked Mr. Edge if he would be kind enough to come and speak at his house the following Wednesday. Mr. Edge dropped his head a moment as though thinking whether he could fill the appointment or not, then looked up and replied, ‘‘Yes, sir, I will be there at seven o’clock.’’

The gentleman lived several miles from where that meeting was held, and therefore wondered why he was not asked the road leading to his residence, but no questions were asked. The people where he was then stopping said they watched Mr. Edge very closely but learned to their Satisfaction that he did not make any inquiries concerning the gentleman’s name or his place of residence; still, when the time for the meeting came he was in his place.

As we have now given a brief outline of the course pursued by Mr. Edge when he first came into their midst, as well as some of his peculiarities, we will turn to the doctrines taught by him.

Although he had been speaking quite freely upon the principles advocated by the various sects, seemingly to draw around him the different classes of people, he gave them to understand that he believed first in a tangible God – in a God that could walk, talk, understand and be understood; in a God that had passions to love and hate right and wrong principles. Second, in a repentance that consisted in turning from sin, and learning to do well.

Third, in a baptism after the likeness of the death, burial, and resurrection of our risen Redeemed, in a baptism that would cleanse one from his sins, and enable him to walk in a newness of life, as did our Savior when He passed from mortality to immortality.

At this time he only referred to the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, as being a principle taught by Jesus Christ and His Apostles, and left the query on the minds of the people, how such and such doctrines could be taught in His Church now, and yet He be an unchangeable being.

Mr. Edge dwelt very elaborately upon prophecy contained in the Old and New Testaments. First he referred to prophecies that have received their literal fulfillment, in order to give them a correct understanding of the term. Then very ably referred to many prophecies that are being fulfilled, or that have not yet received their fulfillment. Such as those referring to the second coming of Christ, to the gathering of Israel; to the rebuilding of Jerusalem by the Jews; to the mountains of ice flowing down and highways being cast up for the people to travel upon who should come from the north countries whither they have been scattered; to the restoration of God’s kingdom upon this continent, before that reign of peace for one thousand years, with Christ and His people.

About this time Mr. Edge held a meeting at the city of Lexington that will long be remembered by the multitude that gathered to hear him from the surrounding country. Their attention was first called to his peculiar prayer, wherein he asked the Lord to grant unto all people everywhere the desires of their hearts; should they seek knowledge, to cause that they might be filled; should they ask for wisdom, to give it unto them; if notoriety or fame be their object, to permit them to obtain it; if it be gold they are seeking, to fill their laps; should the reverend divines seek to bring souls unto Christ, to aid them in so doing; should they preach for hire and divine for money, to hinder them not from receiving it; should the loaves and the fishes be their desire, to fill their plates. More especially did he appeal to God that all those who were then assembled might depart filled with that for which they came; if gospel truths be what they are seeking, to fill them to overflowing; if curiosity is what they came for, to cause that they might return feeling more curious.

Those who have listened to the many long appeals for the wandering sinner by the reverend divines can better imagine the amazement of this assembly than we can describe it.

When Mr. Edge arose to speak every eye was fixed upon him, wondering what next. That afternoon he took for his text, ‘‘Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth," referred to in the seventeenth chapter of Revelation.

At first he explained in a short but clear manner how beautifully God’s Church was organized in the apostles’ days; how nicely every principle was linked together from faith, repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, to the resurrection of the dead, after which he brought down in a vivid and forcible manner the history of God’s people until the last one that had the testimony of Jesus was driven to an untimely grave.

With this he connected Catholicism and the dark ages, when man could circumnavigate this globe in search of one divinely authorized servant of God who had the spirit of prophecy, and not find him.

After Mr. Edge had proven from the scriptures and profane history that God’s people had been destroyed and every vestige of His Church taken from the earth he very frankly told them that every sect and creed over this broad land was wrong, and that all had departed from the faith once given to the saints. He then bore a powerful testimony that the gospel in all its primitive beauty had been restored to the earth, and that, too, with apostles and prophets and inspired men at its head. He then called upon all to repent of their sins and come out of Babylon and follow Christ, for the hour of God’s judgment was at hand.

After this most wonderful discourse Satan himself seemed to turn loose. The people were divided among themselves and began contending with each other. The preachers flew into a perfect frenzy and began plotting and planning how to get rid of this fellow. And, by the by, our new preacher seemed to have turned loose also, for he went through the country like a man inspired of God, warning the people to repent and serve their Maker, or some of the most fearful calamities that ever befell man would come upon them and this nation.

Many of the honest-in-heart gathered around him and began to inquire from whence he came and where could this kingdom of God be found that he had so beautifully described.

They still received no satisfaction as to where he came from, but the kingdom of God, said he, "is located within these United States.’’

To give you a better idea how Mr. Edge was questioned, and how peculiar his answers were, we will relate an instance.

While walking the road one day the boys began remarking among themselves, how hard it was to find out who this Mr. Edge was, and where he had come from. At this, one Jones, a Baptist deacon, spoke up in a very determined manner saying, "Why, I’ll dig him up this evening.’’

Mr. Edge had an appointment for a meeting in a private house that evening nearby. As it happened, he stayed with the family where he held meeting that night. At supper, Mr Edge had eaten but very little, when he pushed back from the table and began pacing the floor, as though somewhat uneasy. However, in a few moments he turned to the family and remarked, "I am going to be tempted by the devil this evening through a man."

Soon the young people began gathering in from all directions anticipating some fun between Jones, the deacon, and our strange preacher.

Just as the last rays of the sparkling sun sank behind the horizon, Mr. Edge discovered a man climbing the fence, a few hundred yards off, as though coming to meeting . Turning to the family he remarked, "Here comes the gentleman now!’’ On his arrival it proved to be Jones, the deacon.

By this time a goodly number had gathered in, and Mr. Edge had taken his seat in the far end of the room, beside a small table containing his Bible and hymn hook. When Mr. Jones came in he deliberately walked across the room and sat down beside Mr. Edge. After a few moments Silence, Mr. Jones inquired, "My friend, where are you from?"

Mr. Edge looked up from his Bible as though somewhat astonished, and replied, ‘‘From about six miles," meaning the next neighborhood where he had just left.

Mr. J. — "What church do you belong to?"

Mr. E.—"The Church of God, sir,"

Mr. J. — "Where is it?"

Mr. E.— "In the United States."

Mr. J. —"You have been speaking about one being ordained before he had the right to preach. By whom were you ordained?"

Mr. E.— "By Jesus Christ, sir."

Mr. J. – "Where?"

Mr. E.— "In eternity."

Mr. J. — "How long have you been preaching?"

Mr. E.— "About eighteen hundred years."

At this point Mr. Jones sprang to his feet and walked away in disgust.

On another occasion, Mr. Edge pronounced the secret societies as being man-made institutions through which the devil operated. In referring to Masonry, he said, "Although this institution dates its origin many centuries back, it is only a perverted priesthood stolen from the temples of the Most High." After giving several Masonic signs he testified that Jesus Christ Himself was the chief and master Mason.

In order to give a better understanding how he explained the prophetic visions of ancient men of God, we will refer to a favorite text of his when contrasting the powers of God and the world; and the length of time Satan should bear rule. Rev II:1-3.

"And there was given me a reed like unto a rod; and the angel stood, saying, rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.

"But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles; and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months."

The inner courts he explained as the courts of God filled with the brightness of the Lord’s glory. The outer courts as the kingdoms of this world that had been placed in the hands of the Gentiles. In like manner he explained the wheel within a wheel. The time the Gentiles should possess the outer kingdoms he positively declared would expire in this generation, after which Jesus Christ would rule.

By this time many of the professed followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, together with the pious Free Masons began seeking his life. One reverend divine went so far as to hire a gang of lawless men to hunt him down and shed his blood before sleep should overtake them. This movement compelled Mr. Edge to confine his labors more particularly among those who were his friends. However, many who were friendly at first began dropping off as popular feeling against him became more intense.

The course pursued by Mr. Edge in the beginning enabled him to reach all classes of people. Hence today many who severed their connections with the churches are looked upon as infidels because they believe not the dogmas of today noting the difference between them and the doctrines of Christ, as laid down in the divine Scriptures.

Those who were indeed his friends by this time gathered around him and desired baptism. He answered them in these words, "I would not baptize a man for my right arm."

One then said, "You have not the right to baptize, then?"

Mr. Edge replied, "If I have not, others have," and he promised that all who so desired he would organize into a church of brotherly love after the apostolic order.

This proposal met their approval and some sixty persons assembled together when he laid his hands upon their heads and blessed them, as they supposed for the reception of the Holy Ghost. He then selected one from among them to take charge of their prayer meetings.

Mr. Edge was not a man of many words outside the pulpit, and when he did converse with his fellow men, it was mostly upon religion. "For," said he, "my Father’s business is too urgent for me to trifle with political affairs."

When it could so be arranged he held from one to three meetings a day. He did his own singing, preaching and praying without even showing the least sign of hoarseness. He ate, on an average, only one meal per day.

Mr. Edge circulated the news that on a certain evening he would deliver one discourse in behalf of the devil. Although popular feeling at this time was very much against him, hundreds of people, through curiosity, came to hear this particular sermon. When the evening came the house was packed to its utmost capacity.

On arising to speak, the preacher read the following verses for a text (Matt. IV: 8,9)

"Again the devil taketh him up to an exceeding high mountain; and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them.

"And said unto him all these things will I give unto thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me."

He then assumed the attitude of the devil; and gave his audience to understand that every word spoken by him was the same as if Lucifer had said it himself.

After showing from his text that this whole world was under his direct command, he portrayed the many beauties and pleasures that were at his disposal. He then eulogized them very much upon the course they were pursuing. "I am not so particular," said he, "how you obtain money, but the idea is, get it."

He said to his assembly that should one of them have a horse to sell, his advice as the devil, would be to take him into the backyard for a few days and there feed him well on the best of buckskin, then to bring him out onto the road prancing on his hind feet, take him down in town, meet some old gentleman that knew nothing about a horse and obtain two prices for the animal, then the thing to do was to return to one’s comrades and brag how nicely it was done.

He advised the young people not to live such a penurious life, but to dress in the height of fashion; ride behind fine horses; be free with the opposite sex; and if, perchance, one of those fair daughters should be ruined, cast her aside to wallow in disgrace the remainder of her days, while the gentleman who perpetrated the foul deed should be held up as a cunning fellow.

His advice to the reverend divines was to make long prayers, pull straight faces, pretend righteousness, preach sympathetic and grave-yard sermons, deceive every man’s wife they possibly could, and be sure not to forget to steal the virtue of every fair maiden who should come within their grasp. In fact, to go on just as they had been doing, "For in reality," said he, "my kingdom is yours."

And thus he went on keeping the audience in continual titter for about one hour and a half while he portrayed the various crimes in society as being just the thing they ought to do. At the expiration of this time he stepped forward, threw his hands down by his side and explained, "Get behind me, Satan!"

Every countenance was immediately changed and breathless silence reigned. He began rebuking these actions in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and called upon every one to repent and turn unto the true and living God, or damnation would be theirs.

One evening at a meeting composed mostly of his followers, the features of Mr. Edge turned purple. No sooner had all quieted down in their seats than he sprang to his feet and severely reprimanded them for the course they were taking, "For," said he, "you have not only been plotting and planning among yourselves to deceive me, but you have brought with you legions of devils. Why, I can see them all through the house."

On another occasion, after Mr. Edge had returned from holding a meeting in the courthouse at Lexington, three of his young followers were out by the yard, severely criticizing the course pursued by their new preacher. One in particular thought it was the height of folly for a man in these days to pretend to be inspired of God. While they were just in the heat of their vilification, Mr. Edge came out of the house, which was about one hundred and fifty yards away, and very calmly walked down towards the yard. The boys saw him, ceased their abuse and turned towards the house. When they met, Mr. Edge turned to the young man who had so bitterly talked about him,and said:

"Young man, you will not do; my spirit has been listening to your cowardly slanderings!"

The boys, knowing that they were too far from the house to be overheard, grew somewhat astonished when Mr. Edge told the young man every sentence, word for word, that he had uttered.

Mr. Edge came to the residence of a widow lady by the name of Telitha Cumi Reed, one day, about twelve o’clock, took off his hat, set aside his cane and amused himself by reading while the lady prepared refreshments. After they had sat down to the table, Mrs. Reed turned and asked Mr. Edge to return thanks, when she saw a bright light encircling his head, which made a strange feeling pass over her; however, she sat perfectly quiet. After grace, the light passed away.

While upon this subject I will relate a few of the many cases of healing that were effected by the imposition of hands during Mr. Edges stay among them. This same lady, Mrs. Reed, had been bowed down with rheumatics for several years. On learning this strange preacher taught the laying on of hands for the healing of the sick, she believed he was a servant of God, and sent for him. Without detailing how marvelously this lady recovered we will say that two years later her walk was as free and easy as though rheumatics had never racked her frame.

The wife of James Reed, who was then said to be in the last stages of consumption, was almost instantly healed through the imposition of Mr. Edge’s hands in the name of Jesus Christ.

There were several beautiful sketches drawn by Mr. Edge while in this locality. The one that more particularly attracted my attention was a beautiful arch drawn upon the front leaf of a large Bible, owned by Mr. Sirenous Reed. Directly up the center of this arch were very neatly placed seven steps, on the foot of which was written, beginning at the bottom, the following words: "Virtue, Knowledge, Temperance, Patience, Godliness, Brotherly Kindness and Charity."

Just beneath the bow of the arch was placed the figure of a young man who had just climbed this narrow stairway, kneeling upon the top step, receiving a magnificent crown from the hands of an angel.

In the early part of July, Mr. Edge kindly informed his followers that he would soon depart on his Father’s business. Before leaving, however, he desired all those whom he had blessed to go with him through a fast of three days. In calling his brethren and sisters together he told them the fast he desired them to pass through was similar to that observed in ancient days by the Apostle Paul.

He gave as his reasons for this task the cleansing and purifying of the system, the preparatory step to a greater labor, to test their worthiness to enter God’s kingdom; and lastly, if they would honestly and faithfully go through this fast, it would enable them to taste of that spirit that would hereafter, through obedience, bring them forth in the first resurrection.

As the greater part of his followers lived on the banks of Beech River, near the mouth of Finley’s Creek, this place was selected for the purpose of fasting. These three days were spent in Singing, and praying, and rejoicing in the Lord. Once a day they were allowed to bathe in the waters of Beech River.

Some were only able to fight the pangs of hunger one day, while others held out until the evening of the second day; but only twenty one out of the sixty-odd who began the fast, were able to say on the evening of the third day, "I have truthfully kept the fast."

It may seem strange, nevertheless a fact, that everyone of those who kept not the fast turned to be his bitterest enemies.

It is not necessary for me to explain to him who has battled against popular sentiment that, although the acts of this little band were as pure as the falling drops of rain, many of the most glaring falsehoods were circulated about them.

In those who had followed him through these ordeals, Mr. Edge seemed to have implicit confidence. Hence, he began teaching the more advanced principles of eternal life, such as building places of worship, erecting temples to the Most High, and to prepare for the grand millennium day of rest, when Christ will reign a thousand years on earth. In this connection, he told his followers that this continent, the land of the free, the home of the brave and the asylum of the oppressed, is the place designated by Him who reigns on high for the building of that beautiful city, the New Jerusalem; aye, and more: that the day would come when these United States would be dotted with temples, one of which would be built in Henderson County, Tennessee.

Soon after their fast he called them together and pronounced upon each couple a ceremony of marriage, and gave them to understand that if another opportunity was not afforded them, this would hold throughout time and all eternity. He also gave them some few tokens that they might know when they entered a temple controlled by the servants of God.

At another time, when admonishing them, he quoted Rev. ii, 17:

"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name is written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it."

The story, ere this, had been circulated that Mr. Edge was a "Mormon" preacher, in this country for the purpose of leading silly women astray. The name of a "Mormon" had a peculiar jingle in the ears of his followers, hence, they flew to their preacher, Edge, at once for the truthfulness of this story. He neither affirmed nor denied their queries; but regarding polygamy he said:

"If God shall give a man one wife she will be his; and if it so please Him to give the same man two, three, or even more, they also will be his."

Dear reader, to save wearying you, we will only relate one instance where Mr Edge was miraculously delivered from the hands of a ruthless mob, among the many similar cases that occurred while he was in this country. The last time the pleasant countenance of Robert Edge was seen by his beloved followers he stayed at the residence of E. R. Reed, some seven miles northeast of Haley’s Creek.

At supper he gave Mr. Reed and family to understand his intentions were to remain among them some three weeks longer in order to more thouroughly organize and instruct them in the Gospel truths.

About eleven o’clock that night Mr. Reed was aroused from his slumbers by Robert Edge gathering up his small bundle, Bible and cane. Mr Reed inquired what was wrong. Mr Edge replied:

"There will be a mob here shortly, and I must depart."

"At this Mr. Reed sprang from his bed, saddled his animals, and he and Mr. Edge mounted them and departed down through the woods in the direction of Alabama.

Although Mr. Reed was familiar with the roads for miles away, Mr. Edge led their course through the woodlands in the darkening hours of the night.

Soon Mr. Edge dismounted from his horse and told Mr Reed he had gone far enough. Then taking his bundle, Bible and cane, he bid Mr Reed farewell.

We will return to Mrs. Reed, who was left with the little ones, anticipating a mob every moment.

About twelve o’clock there suddenly rushed around the house a gang of maddened brutes, called men, who demanded the preacher Edge. The lady kindly informed them that he was not there. Not being satisfied with her answer, they rushed into the house and searched it from the loft to the cellar. Not finding the object of their search they cursed and swore like so many demons. After about one hour and a half they departed, promising the lady they would get him yet.

This little band of Mr. Edge’s followers, according to his instructions, met together often, talked to each other and sang praises to God. They frequently referred to the sayings of Mr. Edge, where he told them that if they remained faithful, and followed the dictations of the good Spirit, that other preachers would visit them and lead their footsteps to the main body of the Church.

During the winter of 1880 there appeared in the New York Sun, an interview with President John Taylor by O. J. Hollister, in which the officers of the Church were named and many of its doctrines spoken of.

This was the first thing to attract the attention of the followers of Mr. Edge towards the Latter-day Saints, and being desirous to learn more about this peculiar people they addressed a letter of inquiry to the county clerk of Salt Lake County. D. Bockholt, being clerk at that time, at once sent them the "Voice of Warning," and several copies of the Deseret News, with advice to address Pres. John Morgan at Rome, Georgia.

After reading the "Voice of Warning," and being favorably impressed with the doctrines contained therein, they addressed a letter to Pres. Morgan, informing him that one of our preachers visited them a few years previous and laid his hands upon their heads for the reception of the Holy Ghost, but did not baptize them. Hence, they were very desirous to have an Elder sent there to perform this ordinance.

Pres. Morgan at once forwarded the letter to Pres. Franklin Spencer at Shady Grove, Hickman Co., Tenn., who was then presiding over the Tennessee Conference, at the same time writing to these people in Henderson County, informing them that there was a branch of the Church on Cane Creek, Lewis Co., Tennessee.

On receiving this intelligence four of them mounted their horses and rode about sixty miles before they reached Cane Creek; but finding no Elders there they returned.

At this time this epistle came from Pres. Morgan there were laboring in the conference, Pres. Franklin Spencer, George H. Carver, Lorenzo Hunsaker and myself. Brother Carver and I were selected to visit West Tennessee. This left President Spencer and brother Hunsaker each to travel alone. However, before starting Pres. Spencer and I visited Cane Creek, at the same time sending a letter to West Tennessee.

On arriving at Cane Creek we found this little branch somewhat exercised over the visit of these four gentlemen.

About the time our West Tennessee friends arrived home they received Pres. Spencer’s letter, bringing the news that we would be at Cane Creek at a certain date. James H. Scott and Sirenious Reed wheeled their horses and came back.

They arrived at Cane Creek late in the afternoon. That evening and the following day were spent in conversing with these two gentlemen upon the principles of the Gospel, who Mr. Edge was, how he taught the falling away and restoration of the Gospel, the necessity of building temples, the name that one would receive who should remain faithful afer passing through the temples, etc.

Late in the after part of the same day these gentlemen, after having conversed together a short time, said:

"What hindereth us from putting on the whole armor of God that we might withstand the fiery darts of the adversary?"

Hence they were baptized and returned home rejoicing.

On the 13th day of May, 1880, Brother George H. Carver and myself started on our trip to Henderson County, Tenn.

Not until we arrived within about thirty miles of Lexington did we hear much about this peculiar preacher.

On the night of the 20th, we stayed with Squire Long, a very intelligent gentleman, who began telling us about that wonderful preacher, Robert Edge, who came into their midst some two years previous. As we knew nothing of Mr. Edge we sat and listened very attentively to his long story. He spoke about Mr. Edge pretending to be inspired of God, about his peculiar manner of going to and from meeting, of his being hunted down by mobs, of their fasting three days, and more particularly about the lumbering noise he heard about the time Mr. Edge came among them.

On the evening of the 21st, we arrived at Sirenious Reed’s. He received us kindly and sent out for a number of his brethren; and, you may be assured, we had a good old-time chat that evening.

On the 15th day of June we obtained the following statement, which was dictated and signed by two of them:

Lexington, Henderson Co., Tenn.,

Historical sketch of how we became acquainted with the doctrine of Christ:

In May of 1878, a man by the name of Robert Edge came in this neighborhood, preaching the gospel after the apostolic order.

He delivered a series of sermons on the principles of the gospel and the apostasy of the primitive church – dwelling lengthily upon the apostolic order with the exception of baptism for the remission of ins, informing us that it was figurative and would be revealed in due time; proving by the Holy Bible, without a doubt, that the Roman Catholic church is the mother of harlots, and that the churches of modern Christianity are daughters and granddaughters of her; and that they are all officiating in a deluded and false priesthood. Also all the secret combinations and institutions of men, and masonry as now practiced by modernists, are all false counterfeits and an abomination in the sight of the Lord.

Then calling on all to come out of Babylon who were willing to forsake man-made institutions and follow Christ, and assist in rolling forth the purposes of God, and prepare for the great millennium, which will soon be ushered in. Then will Christ reign personally upon the earth.

He organized us into a body, or church, after the primitive apostolic order, by the laying on of hands and blessing us. He admonished us to be faithful and pray to God always; and that the Lord would reveal many great and important things that we should understand.

He requested us to fast for three days in succession, after which he administered the Lord’s supper, informing us that we were not the only ones, but that there were many more in the United States. He evaded giving any further information; only if persecution caused us to leave we should go West.

Many remarkable cases of healing occurred under his administration.

The people of the world called him a Mormon priest, which he neither sanctioned nor denied.

Our little band suffered exceedingly from persecutions and the scandal of the world for eighteen months, when we noticed an account of an interview between President John Taylor and a U.S. official on the martyrdom of Joseph Smith.

We then wrote to Bockholt, of Salt Lake City, for information, for information, who answered promptly and sent us the "Voice of Warning" and a list of Church works. Also advised us to correspond with John Morgan, at Rome, Georgia, who afterwards informed us that there was a branch of the Church in Lewis County, and advised us to visit it. We did so and met Franklin Spencer and Hyrum Belnap. Conversing with them for some time we were convinced that they were the servants of the Lord. We were then baptized and returned home rejoicing that we had thus far followed the promptings of the Spirit of God.

On the 21st, Elders Hyrum Belnap and George H. Carver came to this neighborhood and baptized seventeen souls and organized a branch of the Church, consisting of nineteen members.

Let all honor be given to our Father in Heaven, for thus leading us into the right way.




In a conversation with some of them, Mr. Edge stated that he once lived in the land of Texas and had a wife and one child when he began his missionary labor.

He also informed them that he had a partner whom he very frequently traveled with, by the name of Cob, whom he had not seen since leaving the State of Arkansas.

In speaking of himself he said: "I am not worthy of but one of the nail prints in my hands."

Some time after his departure one of this little band was casually turning the leaves of the large Bible owned by S. Reed, and discovered the 31st verse of the 24th chapter of Matthew enclosed in brackets, inside of which was written the name of Robert Edge.

He wrote his people two letters of encouragement,one while in the State of Georgia and the other while in South Carolina. In the last one he spoke some of visiting England.

A few months later I met Pres. Morgan in the city of Nashville, who, while in conversation regarding this preacher, Edge, showed me a letter he had received some time previous with no name signed on it.

As far as I was able to judge between the writings left in Henderson County by Mr. Edge and this letter, they were penciled by the same hand.

Late in the fall of the same year, Hailey’s Creek Branch, save one soul, emigrated to San Jose County, (Manassa) Colorado.

Thus we close our narrative thinking of the prayer of Robert Edge:

"Those who seek curiosity, cause that they might feel more curious."




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