Abraham Marshall Berry
ABRAHAM MARSHALL BERRY was the father of
Irene Roland ("Molly") Berry, who had married
John Alexander Bray. He and his wife, Elizabeth,
and other members of their family had joined the LDS church.
After some family members and other local converts had gone to Utah,
Molly's father Abraham Marshall Berry (born 1825 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama;
son of Abram Berry and Martha Mills of Georgia) was shot by an anti-Mormon
mob in Chickasaw County, Mississippi, in the spring of 1889.
A missionary was staying at his home, and Father Berry
refused to turn him over to the mob to be mistreated, beaten, or killed. Just
a short time previous to this, an elder had been killed near Meridian,
Mississippi. Also an elder was killed by a mob in Georgia in 1879, and on
August 10, 1884, two missionaries and two members were killed at a member's
home in Tennessee, in what is known as the "Cane Creek Massacre." All of these
killings caused a big stir in Utah, and the murdered missionaries were honored
as martyrs of the Church.
Previous to the mob incident at the Berry family
home in Mississippi, the mob had run the elders out of Chickasaw County and
told them never to return. The missionaries had come back in under cover of
darkness, to check on the members and investigators in the area. Somehow the
mob got word of their presence, and came to the Berry home around midnight.
Two of the elders had gone elsewhere, but one was staying in the home. At the
mob's shouts, Father Berry (who was 64 years old at the time) came out on the
porch in his long white nightshirt and cap, carrying his rifle, and told them
he wouldn't turn the elder over, and he asked them to leave. A few of the mob
then fired at him with their shotguns, and he returned their fire. He was
wounded, but he got back inside the house and lay down on the couch. The mob
was riding around the house shooting into it, so the elder took the rifle and
held them off by firing out the window. While Father Berry's wife Elizabeth
tended to his wounds, it is said that the mob kept riding around the house
shooting, and didn't leave until daybreak.
It was estimated that Abraham
Marshall Berry had over 100 pieces of buckshot throughout his body; his thin
nightshirt had given him little protection. His wife tried removing some of
the buckshot with her knitting needles, and later, when they could get him to
a doctor he removed some more. His wounds were not immediately fatal, but many
pieces of buckshot were deep inside and couldn't be removed.
Elizabeth Berry and other family members who were still in Mississippi left for
Utah on the train as soon as they could sell everything. They got very little
for what they sold because of the anti-Mormon feeling. They joined the rest of
their family in Provo, but Father Berry died about a year later, 12 Sept 1890,
from blood poisoning as a result of the lead buckshot. His wife Elizabeth Owen
(born 1826 in Alabama; daughter of William Owen and Sophia Mills of Georgia)
died 8 Jan 1891 in Provo. They are both buried in the Provo City Cemetery.
by Karen Bray Keeley
by Sandra Shuler Bray