Mormons of Harkers Island

Strengthened by the Storm: The early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock.

Harkers Island is located off the coast of North Carolina.  It has always had a small population, first of Native Americans, then of European settlers.  Devastating hurricanes brought new residents from the Outer Banks at the very end of the 19th century, especially upon the complete destruction of Diamond City.   Active proselytizing by  Mormon missionaries was successful, so successful, that the Mormon population of Harkers Island gets coverage in Wikipedia’s treatment of its history:

A aerial picture of Harkers Island.Elders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) proselyted extensively on Harkers Island after the hurricanes. Many of the refugees from Diamond City, uprooted physically and emotionally by the devastating hurricanes, converted to the Latter-day Saints, and soon outnumbered the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which had been founded on the island in 1875. A national wave of anti-Mormon sentiment was sparked by the Smoot Hearings in 1904, fueling fears that Mormons secretly continued to practice polygamy. The relationship between the Mormons on Harkers Island and their neighbors deteriorated. Residents threw rocks and oyster shells through the windows of the LDS meetinghouse and fired at least one gunshot into the building. In 1906, arsonists burned the meetinghouse to the ground. Organized Mormon religious services did not resume on Harkers Island until 1909. A new LDS meetinghouse was constructed on the island in the 1930s. Despite these difficult beginnings, Harker’s Island has one of the highest percentages of residents as members of the Latter-day Saints of any locality in North Carolina.

The Mormon community  there has been buffeted by the violent storms that nature has brought onshore from time to time throughout the decades.  But Harkers Island Mormons have also been buffeted by these storms of adversity borne of suspicion and misunderstanding on the part of their neighbors on the island, attitudes that persist to this day.  Joel G. Hancock, a descendent of Mormons who lived through these pogroms and a leader in the Mormon community of Harkers Island, has written a detailed and compelling account of Mormon history there.  His book, Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, published by Cedar Fort, Inc., is here included in its entirety, a welcome contribution to this Mormon history website.

A map of Carteret County Map on Harkers Island, 1900

Carteret County Map, Circa 1900

Mormons of Harkers Island – Contents

Mormons of Harkers Island—Contents Strengthened by the Storm: The early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. Mormons of Harkers Island Introduction Foreword (Neal Lambert) Preface Acknowledgment Prologue 1 By the Water’s Edge 2 Fishers of Men 3 Casting the Net 4 “Good, Humble, But Poor People” 5 The Harvest Begins 6 A […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Introduction

Strengthened by the Storm: The early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. Introduction to 20th Anniversary Edition Has it really been twenty years since this book first was published? In more ways than one, it seems like a matter of weeks and months, rather than years and decades. But, the calendar does […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Foreward

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. The history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, in the minds of many Americans, a sweeping narrative of great migrations and national expansion. For most of us, the term, “Mormonism” mainly evokes images of wagon trains […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Earlier Preface

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. And we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know . . . (2 Nephi 25:26)   Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in the Southeastern United States have their own distinctive history. Often, however, it is assumed that the story […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Acknowledgement

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. Acknowledgement, Earlier Edition– I wish to thank all of those who graciously have offered their help in bringing this effort to fruition. Most of the members of the local Latter-day Saint congregation have encouraged me from the beginning. They have […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Prologue

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Chapter 1

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. 1 By the Water’s Edge Behold, and lo, I have much people in this place, … and an effectual door shall be opened in the regions round about in this eastern land. (Doctrine and Covenants 100:3) DISTINCT FROM THE REST […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Chapter 3

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. 3 Casting the Net Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: (Matthew 13:47) THEIR FIRST CONTACTS The records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Chapter 4

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. 4 “Good, Humble, But Poor People” Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6) JANUARY 20, 1898 The densely wooded southern shore of Harkers Island had been clearly visible to John Telford and […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Chapter 5

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. 5 The Harvest Begins Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full … (Joel 3:13) THE NEXT STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT With the departure of both John Telford and William […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Chapter 6

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. 6 A Season in the Sun To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1) ELDER WILLIAM ALBERT ADAMS Elder William Albert Adams of Fountain Green, Utah, served in the North Carolina Conference […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Chapter 7

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. 7 The Gathering Storm … but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them …(Alma 26:6) A TRADITION OF BEING PERSECUTED In Wallace R. Draughon’s study of The Church […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Chapter 8

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. 8 The Eye of the Tempest So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. (Psalms 83:16) JANUARY 16, 1906 The events of Tuesday, January 16, 1906, are an indelible part of the consciousness of almost […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Chapter 9

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. 9 The Rainbow and Beyond As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. (Ezekiel 1:28) THE LOWEST EBB The late summer of 1906 […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Epilogue

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. Epilogue And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (Malachi 4:6) * * * In 1960, Latter-day Saints […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Notes

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. Notes Chapter 1 By the Water’s Edge David Stick, The Outer Banks of North Carolina 1584-1958, p. 188. Ibid., p. 187. Ibid., p. 187-188. ”The Banks Church,” Island Born and Bred, ed. Karen Willis Amspacher, p. 46. Stick, The Outer […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Appendix 1

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. Appendices Baptismal Dates for the Earliest Converts Name. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Date. . . . . […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Appendix 2

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. Early Missionaries to Harkers Island, NC (1897-1915) Elder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Year(s) . . . . . […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Appendix 3

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. President Rich’s Letter To The Governor Chattanooga, Tenn., Feb. 16, 1906. Hon. Robert F. Glenn, Governor Raleigh, N. C. Sir: On the night of January 16, 1906, a church belonging to our organization was destroyed by fire on Harkers Island, […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Appendix 4

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. Some Poems A Letter To My Dad by Joyce S. Bennett May 1987 Just looking at your photographs, My heart sometimes is sad. I realize the fact is this: I hardly knew you, Dad. I feel a bit of destiny […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Appendix 5

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. Prayer of Rededication for the Harkers Island Ward This prayer was offered on the morning of January 20, 1998 at 8:00 in the morning by President Joel G. Hancock, 2nd Counselor in the Kiniston NC Stake Presidency, at Shell Point […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Index

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. A Abernethy Charles 178, 254 Samuel 49, 50, 51, 52, 178 Academy Field 24, 74, 107, 109, 110, 124, 152, 215, 257 Adams Golden V 239, 267 William xx, 123, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, Bibliography

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. Bibliography BOOKS AND ARTICLES Amspacher, Karen Willis. ed. “The Banks Church.” Island Born and Bred. Morehead City, N. C.: Harkers Island United Methodist Women, 1987. “The Island Church.” Island Born and Bred. Morehead City, N. C.: Harkers Island United Methodist […]

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Mormons of Harkers Island, About the Author

Strengthened by the Storm: The Early Mormons of Harkers Island, NC, by Joel G. Hancock. About the Author: Joel G. Hancock (b. 1952) is a life-long resident of Harkers Island and a literal descendant of many of those whose story is told in Strengthened by the Storm. He is the seventh son and tenth child […]

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