Memorial / Obituary / Personal History
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Benjamin Bruse Wallace (!854-1905)
Benjamin Bruce Wallace, the fifth child and son of George Washington and Ruth Clark Wallace, was born November 4, 1854, at Cloverdale Adair County, Kentucky. He was raised and grew up on a farm. As a boy he attended such schools as were available and they had in small communities at that time which consisted mostly of the three R's and presided over by one instructor for all classes. These schools lasted for a five month period each year, usually from August to December inclusive.
When he reached the age of twenty years, he married Nancy Jane Perry, Daughter of George J. and Susan Slinker Perry, of Rockland Mill, Barren County, Kentucky. (11 September 1851 - 18 December `1942).
To this union were born six sons and three daughters: Ora Lee, b. 10 Oct. 1875, married John A. Shirley: Sylvester Bingley, b. 7 March 1877, d. 25 Oct. 1892, a lifetime invalid; Cadmus, b. 9 Nov. 1878, married Marie Nielson; Solon Chase, b. 14 Oct. 1880, married Josiah George Packer; George Ogglesby, b. 24 May 1883 married (1st) Agnes Rosa Swainston, (2nd) Lillie D.; Benjamin Butler, b 3 Feb. 1885, married Olive Rosa Owen; Streeter, b. 21 May 1889, married Hilda May Molen; Lucilus Paisley, b. 20 Jan. 1891, married Alma Marie St. Martin; Bernice, b. 17 September 1892, Married (1st) Samuel H. Southwick, (2nd) Henry Ray McArthur.
As previously stated, Mr. Wallace was raised on a farm and was a farmer, but he pursued other activities as well. Many of the houses in the local community were built of logs, so he began to learn the art of building in his early years. He was claimed to be an expert in dapping logs to weave and build a neat and straight corner and walls. From this start, he as well as some of his brothers, learned the carpentry trade and built many houses, barns and other buildings for people which helped them with much needed ready cash in the raising of their families.
There were no newspapers readily available in those days, but this did not deter them from reading to try to improve their minds. They all seemed spiritual minded, and there was always the familiar Bible handy to read; and thus they became very well read insofar as the scriptures were concerned.
In the fall of 1894, he became a tobacco buyer for the American Tobacco Company, which position he held for two seasons. This job generally lasted from about the beginning or a little before harvest time until the marketing season was over which was generally about February 1st of the following year. For this work he received the princely sum of $100 per month. He was the highest salaried man in Metcalfe County, Kentucky.
Up to and including this time no religious inclinations had ever been revealed in any of the Wallace clan. (However, Aunt Betty Wallace, then in her 86th year, spent Christmas holidays of 1941 with this writer and his wife and told us that insofar as she ever knew of, Napoleon Wallace, a cousin, was one of the mainstays of the Trammels Creek Baptist Church, and another cousin, Henry Wallace, proclaimed himself a preacher, but she didn't know what he preached, as he usually went away some place where he wasn't so well known and held protracted meetings, as they were called, usually of two to four weeks continuous duration, taking up collections at each service. Then he would move on to another locality and repeat the performance. Sometimes he would be gone three or four months at a time. Through his collections he would accumulate quite a few dollars, and then he would come back home and generally played around until he had drunk it all up. Then he would be off on another preaching tour. She said she never knew him to do any honest manual labor.)
Thus, up to this time, the fall and winter of 1895 and 1896 ends the earlier part in the life story of Mr. Wallace.
in the late fall of 1895 on a cold and rainy day, about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, two young men knocked on the door of Mr. Wallace's brother, Melford Acel(my father). They introduced themselves as missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, commonly called mormons. As was the hospitable custom of the country they were invited into the house. Each had an umbrella over him, their feet were wet and comfortably in front of the fireplace to try and get dried out, they explained more fully who they were and what their mission was. My father, who was also very well read in the scriptures, very quickly found that these young men had a very much different approach to the Bible and its teachings than anything he had ever heard preached before.
By the time they had gotten dry and it was still raining, they were asked to stay over night with them. This invitation was readily accepted, as they told how they were traveling without purse or script and were fully dependent on the Lord for his guidance and the hospitality of the people for their sustenance.
The rain had ceased the next morning and the sun was shining. Before they departed they fave my father some little tracts which more fully outlined their religious beliefs, also a little red book entitled "The Voice of Warning", all of which we read so much that winter that some of them he memorized.
After Leaving us, these boys went on south from our place and stayed that night at the home of Bruce Wallace (our subject). Here again they ran into another man who was very well scripturally posted; and with an unbiased ear he listened to them as they were so much different in their ways than anything he had ever come in contact with before. when they departed the next morning they gave him the usual little tracts they gave out and then went on their way.
Nothing more was seen or heard of them that winter, but they were not forgotten, for when those two brothers next got together, they began to talk about these two young missionaries and their strange religious beliefs, but they agreed that it didn't seem to be a strange religion at all, that the religions that they always had heard preached were so variously different and did not come anywhere near the teachings of the Bible.
Though, as stated earlier, they were scripturally very well read and of a spiritual nature, the Wallace clan was not a religious people and took no part of it.
In the latter part of April 1896 there came back into Metcalfe County, two more Mormon missionaries by the names of William King and A. W. Platt. (Elder Platt was one of the elders who had passed through the county the fall before.) They began a series of preaching and holding cottage meetings. They had come into the county from the south, and so that was where their first meetings were held. They met with such phenomenal success. Their message was readily accepted, and on May 6, 1896, Elder King baptized nine and on the 26 of may, Elder King baptized Benjamin Bruce Wallace. Thus he was the tenth person in the community to join the church, though there were three Wallaces baptized in the May 6th baptizing.
The work piled up on the elders so fast that three more elders came in to help them out--Elders Steven A. Smith (conference president), Thomas Martin and Ezra J. Merrill. Elders King and Martin working together and Elder Merrill and Platt together. Elder Platt was transferred about the 20 of June to another district, as we have no record of him after the 16 of June that year.
The work progressed so fast that by the 19 of July, with already fifteen of the Wallaces having accepted the gospel, President Smith decided they should organize a branch of the church there.
I quote as follows from "Historical Data of the Junction Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Metcalfe County, Kentucky, 1896-1901." Book A#6765. In Historians Office, Salt Lake City, Utah, Southern States Mission Record of members. "Capital Junction Branch, Sulphur Well, Metcalfe County, Kentucky, Organized July 19, 1896 by Elders Steven A. Smith, Thomas Martin, Ezra J. Merrill and William King. B. B. (Benjamin Bruce) Wallace as "Presiding Elder". With thirty-five members, and two more being baptized that day."
On his acceptance of the Gospel, Mr. Wallace gave up his job with the Tobacco company. Having accepted the gospel and its teachings of the Word of Wisdom, he did not want anything to do with tobacco, and he also dropped tobacco raising in his farm crops, though that was his major source of cash income on his farm. (This writer of his own personal knowledge never knew of Mr. Wallace using tobacco in any form.)
On the 12 of December 1897, he was called on a local mission but was released January 26, 1898 to return to his home to resume his duties as branch president.
On the organization of the branch, they began to devise ways and means to provide themselves with a place wherein they could hold regular meetings, as there had been such a phenomenal growth of the church. School trustees and people thereabout began to object to so much use of school buildings for them to hold their meetings in. Individual houses were too small in inclement weather and only in good weather could they all get together in some grove of trees to hold a meetings where all could attend.
Deed Book 12-293 Metcalfe County, Kentucky. Court records August 15, 1896. "Ulysses B. Wallace and Mary A. Wallace, his wife, of Sulphur Well, To U. B. Wallace, in trust for the members of the branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints residing and who may hereafter reside in the Junction branch of said church in the county of Metcalfe and the State of Kentucky, parties of the second part witnessed that, whereas said parties of the second part have been elected by the members of the church of the Latter-day Saints residing in said branch. Trustees to hold the title to the real estate belonging to the member of said church residing in said branch, a certain parcel of land lying in Metcalfe County on the South Fork of the Little Barren River, containing 3 roads, 9porches." Witnesses--G. W. C. Clark and Daniel Froggett. Signed--Ulysses B. Wallace, Mary A. Wallace.
(The copy of this deed was taken from the records as indicated and referred to, by Mrs. Ruth F. Burdette, of Columbie, Kentucky in the fall of 1951 for A. P. Wallace, and I have inserted it in here for the purpose immediately following shows.)
Thus with ground on which to build themselves a meeting house, Mr. Wallace acting as their supervisor, and two of his brothers, Melford Acel and Wister Green, as carpenters and other member of the branch to help them, began the construction of the first Latter-day Saints chapel in the Southern States Mission.
The building was built of red oak for all framing material, with yellow poplar clapboard siding and beaded ceiling for all inside walls and ceiling and oak floors. Outside was painted white and the inside finished natural.
While his brothers an dotters were busy on the building, Mr. Wallace busied himself with the making of the benches to sit on. These were made of white oak.
Comment......The writer of this article wants his readers to note, in those days there was no such thing as planing mills only in far away big industrial centers, and all lumber usually came from local saw mills mostly powered by water and much of it had to be hand sizing and all material used in any finishing of exposed work all had to be dressed with hand planes.
Thus when their building was completed in the early spring of 1897, it was ready for dedication.
Apostles Frances M. Lyman and Mathias F. Cowley came from Salt Lake City, and President Elias S. Kimball of the Southern States Mission came from Chattanooga, Tennessee for the dedication. On the third of September 1896, Mr. Wallace's mother was baptized; making sixty member in the branch and twenty five of them were Wallaces.
At this point in this writing this writer thinks a brief description of the location of the chapel and its name would fit in very nicely.
The name Junction, in this case is derived from the junction of two rivers, the South Fork and the East Fork of the Little Barren River, a tributary of the Green River. The South Fork enters Metcalfe County from Cumberland County and flows north east to a point of junction with the East Fork, which is the boundary line between two very high hills and to further enhance the beauty of the location, about two hundred yards up stream of the two rivers was a big rock and log dam that backed the water up for over a mile and located almost straight in front of where the chapel was built in a grove of beech, maple and oak trees. This water was for the powering of a grist mill and a home made cotton gin.
It was a pretty view for the chapel, and it was at this junction just up on the East Fork on the Green County side where practically all the baptizing was done. There were no more baptisms in 1896, but there were other baptisms, six in number in June 1897. Of these were the writer's brother, James Newton, and Mr. Wallace's son Benjamin Butler, also his son Cadmus was baptized the 27 November 1897.
There were no more baptisms recorded for 1897, nor any at all for 1898. Milton and Mary Erwin, his wife, were baptized in May 1899. Then on the 12 of August, 1899, this writer, Mr. Wallace's son, Streeter, Emer Lee Wallace, Raymond Wallace, Hortense and Henry Froggett and Emmy Lee Ennis were baptized, and then on the 10 of August 1901, Mr. Wallace's tow youngest children, Lucillus Paisley and Bernie were baptized. At this point, the record closed for the Junction branch, except for some red notes of dates of emigrations to the west for some of the members.
During this period of time 1896-1901, there was called on local missions to travel with other missionary companions five local missionaries, which included Mr. Wallace, as heretofore mentioned. The others were: Ulysses B. Wallace, called Dec 12, 1897, released Jan 26, 1898; Wister G. Wallace (Mr. Wallace's brother), called Dec 12, 1897, released March 19, 1898, Cadmus (Mr. Wallace's Son), called Dec 4, 1898, released Oct 1, 1900; James Newton Wallace (Mr. Wallace's Nephew/the writers brother), called March 12, 1899 and released October 20, 1900, to immigrate to Zion in November 1900 with his parents and other members of his family.
Mr. Wallace retained his position as Presiding Elder of the Junction Branch from the time of its organization till the time of his emigration to the west. He and his family arrived in Whitney, Onida County (now Franklin County), Idaho about February 1, 1903.
As the Junction branch grew in members, it also diminished in members, two by excommunication, others by immigration to Zion. The first two to emigrate were Mr. Wallace's brother, Wister Green and his sister, Miss Betty. They emigrated in May 1898.
Mr. Wallace settled in Whitney, Idaho, where his brother, Wister, had been living since he emigrated. He stayed in Whitney one year. Immediately on their arrival in Idaho, on the fifth day of February, 1903, he and his wife wen through the Logan temple and received their endowments and were sealed for all time and eternity.
In the spring of 1904, Mr. Wallace and his brother WIster and their families left Whitney and went to Sugar City in Fremont County, Idaho, and settled in the Wilford Wardon the Snake River; about two mile north of Sugar City, where an Elder George A. Pincock lived and where they had a chance to purchase land. That fall Mr. Wallace acted as a grain buyer for the Smurthwait Grain and Brokerage Company of Salt Lake City, Utah. This affiliation with this company caused his downfall, and in the spring of 1905 he renounced his church and its authorities. He threw off his temple garments of the holy priesthood an don the 23 of August, 1905, he suffered an accident about noontime. Blood poison set in and he died at 7 p.m., August 24, just one hour before he was to meet the stake presidency and high council to show cause why he shouldn't be excommunicated from the church. He had no intention whatsoever of keeping this appointment.
Thus ended the life of Benjamin Bruce Wallace, taken so suddenly by the one Master of us all, who he recognized as having been a valiant servant in helping to build up his church and kingdom here on earth, who had been misled into by and forbidden paths. He would not permit him to destroy himself beyond all redemption for there was a reward for him.
He died without protection of his garments, and therefore the stake president, Brother Bassett, refused permission for him to be buried in temple clothing. This writer was present at the time of his burial, and I bear solemn witness that i was one of the last to see him before his casket was closed for burial, and he was not buried in temple clothing.
The incidents leading up to and the actual cause of his death is explained in an appendage hereto.
Written by Albert P. Wallace
At Overton, Nevada, February 1958