Saturday, March 12, 2011

Who Do I Think I am? Wow! part 3

Samuel Riley and Rebecca Hunter had 12 children. The oldest was Rev John Henry Lance. John was practically decapitated for preaching against moonshine

John Henry Lance moved with his family to Union County, Georgia, when he was six years old.

John grew to adulthood in Union County, and was always ready participant in the rough and tumble games of the mountain boys. He earned a reputation of being one of the toughest individuals in Choestoe and seldom lost a fight. The tenacity of his fighting spirit would accept defeat and in the end he prevailed. He was fearless and it is reputed that he would "look a wild cat in the eye and then spit in its face". John readily took to drinking mountain 'shine but it only drove him into committing more boisterous acts, which further added to his reputation.

Rev John Henry Lance

But something good happened to John when he married Caroline Turner, the daughter of Jarrett Turner in 1857. He settled down, laid the old ways aside and started rearing a family.

He farmed and they lived in a small cabin alongside Lance Creek at the foot of Lance Mountain. John taught himself to read, write, and sometimes later became a Methodist minister. John remembered how he acted when he was drinking, so regardless of his text he always got around to condemning the practice and he always spiced his sermons with a multitude of "amen, amen, amen."

Rev. John was preaching at Hoods Chapel, a church some five miles from his house. On the trail leading from his house to the church, Tom Swain and Fred Cannup had set up a "wildcat still" in plain view of all who traveled the trail. They were openly flaunting the law and corrupting the good name of Choestoe, so Rev. John called on them at their illicit place of business and demanded that they cease their operation.

Threats were tossed about as to what would happen if anyone or anything interfered in their business.

A short time later on February 17th 1889, Rev. John Lance preached at Hoods Chapel. He chose as a text, Matthew 25, verses' 1-13, the parable about the virgins. It has been passed down that he preached with a fury like he might have some sort of premonition about the death and he was afraid that he might have much more time to speak out on this evil. He closed with "watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man cometh".

On the way home, he passed the home of Tom Swain where a crowd had gathered and were having a drinking party. The crowd started taunting Rev. Lance by saying mockingly "amen, amen, amen". Rev. Lance wasn't intimidated by this drunken crowd and he kept on walking. They became so enraged that some of them took a near cut, went straight over the ridge and hid behind a big fir tree that was adjacent to Wolf Creek. When Rev. Lance came by they brutally assaulted him. His neck was cut almost entirely around and was held on by only small strip of flesh. The wind pipe was completely severed and the rest of his body was covered with a multitude of deep cuts and stabs. He was so mutilated that T.J. Butt, a member of the coroner's jury remarked that he "had never seen such a fiendish attack."
- Charles Hill, Blairsville, Ga. (in THE HERITAGE OF UNION COUNTY, GEORGIA, 1832-1994).



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