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
Has drawn me to this place.
I even met a convert here
Who looked upon your face.
I yearn to know the people and
The places on your way;
Your journal which is lost to me
Would comfort me today.
Until I know your story, Dad,
And find the missing part,
There’ll always be an emptiness
Within my human heart
So, I’ll find your missing stories, and
I’ll trace where you have trod,
And keep your light within my heart
Until we meet our God.

The above was written for her husband, Douglas F. Bennett, during his search for information about his father’s missionary journey to North Carolina. His father, Dilbert Riley Bennett of Hooper, Utah, served in North Carolina from 1913 to 1915. During his stay he visited Harkers Island several times. After finding evidence of those visits, Douglas and Joyce Bennett permanently relocated to Harkers Island.

For Letha
by Joel Hancock

I wonder how she might have felt
As she peered beyond his eyes
Staring deep into her lover’s soul
While he posed under summer skies
Both had sped at a fevered pace
Knowing well what each must do
But neither would have dared foreseen
That the other would be there too
He had come with a madding crowd
Made drunk by lies and hate
But she had run with a frightened band
That served as a human gate
As three men swam out towards a skiff
That waited in the tide
To whisk them from the hot pursuit
That the saints had just defied
So now his mob made a fresh attack
On those whose hearts were broken
To vent once more their vile scorn
And leave no threats unspoken
“You’ve heard from your last Mormon!”
The preacher boasted to the crowd
“And if you honor Joseph Smith,
You won’t dare say it aloud!”
Her breast was filled with all the grief
A young girl’s heart can feel
And when he hid his face from her
She sensed his shame was real
So as her soul began to swell
Her fears began to fade
With faith renewed and face revealed
She stepped forth from the shade
Her words rang out in sweet refrain
And she rose above the throng
Now gazing squarely in his eyes
She sang a courageous song
“Kill this body if you will”
She intoned in bold defiance
“But my soul will shine on Zion’s Hill!”
With firm divine reliance
A quiet began at last to spread
And he shrank back in wonder
But on that day and at that place
Their hearts were cast asunder
Now they could no more be the same
He would never have her hand
For at Rush Point that summer day
A line made in the sand
He had let himself be led
By a mob, with some complaint
But she made clear that her heart lay
Forever with the saints
Long days and years have since gone by
Many times he claimed his anguish
While She went on to be revered
For a faith no mob could vanquish!

For Bertha
by Joel Hancock

They came to see new preachers preach
Who seemed different from the others
For these had neither purse nor scrip
And they called each other “Elders”
Elder Telford came from Bountiful
He was confident and secure
Elder Hansen came from Logan,
Somewhat younger and much less sure
As they said “Amen” that afternoon
Before starting on their way
There came a girl they’d met before
She had something special to say
“Will you come and heal my friend?” she asked
As she met them at the door
“Her house is just beyond the hill,
and down along the shore”
“My friend is sick and she can’t walk,”
She assumed she had to tell
“Or she gladly would have come to you,
She believes you can make her well!”
So through the sand the Elders trudged
Along a trail they had not known
And ‘ere too long and not too far
They reached the Willis home
The mother thanked them for the trip
Yet seemed to still be guessing
While the Elders got on with their work
And gave the girl a blessing
With things to do and places to go
The visitors could not wait
So very soon they said goodbye
And departed through the gate
Things now returned to normal
Or so it might have seemed
But from her bed when she woke up
Bertha shouted out a scream
“Mama, Mama, quick come look!”
She repeated with persistence
“I can move my fingers very well,
And I can walk without assistance”
She cooked the family’s meal that night
And from that time pursued
The faith of those whose hands were used
To show her eyes the truth
For on that day she made a vow
That she would long endeavor
To tell the story of a “prayer of faith”
That changed her life forever
Two Elders had followed Letha Brooks
Through the marshes and the sand
And from their act of perfect faith
An even greater story began
For countless lives were changed that day
A more sure way was paved
A teenage girl was healed by them
But a whole family’s soul was saved

Go to Mormons of Harkers Island, Appendix 5.

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