LIFE HISTORY OF HARRIS SHANNON STEPHENSON
by one of his children
Harris Shannon Stephenson, son of Isaac Henderson Stephenson and Mary Pugh was born
Eight children were born to them at
The family owned a large band of sheep, also cattle and horses. It was very interesting when the roundup came in the fall, when all the cattle and sheep were brought in for the winter. Harris Shannon had a son, also named Harris Shannon, and this son always remembered an animal once he saw it. His service with the cattlemen was indispensable.
It was now, when Harris' trade was valuable to him, that he did much carpentry work. He did a lot of work for missionaries' wives while they were away, and would say that nothing was due when they wanted to pay him. As there were no undertakers in those days, he made all of the caskets, coffins as they were called, for all of
In the year 1888 or 89, Harris was called on a mission to the Southern States. His companion was James Anderson. It was just after the martyrdom of Elders Gibbs and Barry. The mob spirit at that time was terrible in those states. The worst enemies were the ministers, who were working for money. The missionaries were in danger of their lives all the time. Their mail was withheld and read. For a while, his enemies opened his mail. In one letter from Isabella, she told of our bountiful harvest, and how we all missed and loved him. She said, if those people could understand the sacrifice the Elders were making to bring the gospel to them, they would at least be kind to them. In this letter, she told him how little Clara prayed for him and she enclosed the following poem she had learned:
In her white gown kneeling there, here she is, poor little Clair.
Little Clair, her father's pet, is she likely to forget?
No, each night she seems to miss, more and more, his living kiss.
And each night, she kneels to pray, please, God, bring him back some day.
When Harris came for his mail, the postman told him his letters had been opened by mistake, and that he was sorry. It never happened again, and he was always treated with respect after that. Many nights, they were in the woods in a rainstorm, because the mobs were hunting them. On one occasion, at the home where the Elders were staying, the mobs surrounded the house, and after praying for protection, the lady let them out the back way, leading into the woods. It seemed but a few minutes until the mob burst open the door and demanded the old people turn the Elders over to them. They searched the house, and ran bayonets through the bed where the Elders had slept. After two and one half years, the missionaries were honorably released to come home. He returned home in March, 1890. His health was badly impaired from exposure lying out in the woods in storms, and going without proper nourishment. He was never well again, and on
Some of his character traits were being honest to a fault, truthful and dependable, sound judgment, never letting his left hand knowwhat his right hand did for the widows and orphans. One lady told of when they were children gleaning wheat after the thresher, and Harris took them to dinner, then loaded three sacks of good grain into their wagon, and told them to feed that which they had gleaned to their chickens. The children's father was on a mission, and their mother could not speak English.
Some of his favorite poems were:
Know this, that every man is free, to choose his life, and what he'll be.
For this eternal truth is given, God will force no man to heaven.
He'll call, persuade, direct aright, fill him with wisdom, love and light
In numerous ways, is good and kind, but never force the human mind.
Our trials, though they seem severe, are oft in mercy sent.
Vice is a monster of so frightful mein, as to be hated, needs but to be seen.
Yet, seen too often, familiar with its face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.