Transcript for Andrew Jenson, "Central States Mission," Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Publishing Co., 1941), 129-30
CENTRAL STATES MISSION, (The), contains within its boundaries the states of Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. It is divided into twelve districts or conferences, namely, Arkansas, East Kansas, East Texas, Independence (Mo.), Louisiana, Missouri, North Texas, Oklahoma, South Texas, Southwest Missouri, West Kansas and West Texas.
The history of the Central States Mission is a continuation of the Indian Territory Mission, which dates back to 1855, when, at a general conference of the Church in Salt Lake City, five Elders were called to the Indian Territory to labor among the Cherokee and Creek Indians. They worked diligently and successfully, baptizing a number of people and organizing several small branches of the Church. They also met a number of brethren and sisters, former adherents of Lyman Wight, who had drifted into Oklahoma, and before the end of the year 1855, a company of sixty-five of these emigrated to the West.
In the spring of 1859, all the Elders but one returned to Utah, being expelled from the Indian Territory by Indian agents, on account of the Johnston Army trouble in Utah. From this time until 1883, only a little work was done excepting the labors of two missionaries (Elders Matthew Dalton and John Hubbard) in 1877. In 1883 Apostle George Teasdale and Elder Matthew Dalton arrived in the Indian Territory as missionaries to the Cherokee Nation, "to show them the records of their forefathers and make them acquainted with the promises of the Lord to them in the latter days." While there, Elder Teasdale wrote and published several gospel tracts for circulation among the Indians, being assisted in the work by an Indian interpreter by the name of Eubanks.
Elder Andrew Kimball followed Elder Teasdale in 1885 in the presidency of the mission, and remained in charge twelve years, when he was succeeded by Elder William T. Jack. The mission had by that time developed into one of the largest fields in America, the states of Kansas, Arkansas and Texas having been added to its territory, making an area of 351,000 square miles. Headquarters were established at St. John, Kansas.
On March 29, 1898, the name "Indian Territory Mission" was changed to "Southwestern States Mission." Many new branches were established and several Church buildings were erected. In 1899 a monthly paper, "Truth Reflex", promoted and edited by Pres. Jack, was commenced at St. John, Kansas; it was devoted entirely to religious matters.
In May, 1900, Elder James G. Duffin became president, and in October of the same year the states of Missouri and Louisiana were added to the mission. During his administration, Pres. Duffin established a L. D. S. colony at Kelsey, Upshur Co., Texas, which is still a flourishing settlement and an important branch in the mission. Colonies of saints were also founded near Poyner, Henderson Co., and near Spurger, Tuler Co., Texas. The colonists are mostly engaged in farming, stock-raising, dairying or poultry business. A Church school located at Kelsey has one of the finest gymnasium buildings in the state of Texas.
In 1904 Pres. James G. Duffin purchased for the Church 25 acres of land in Independence, Jackson Co., Missouri. About ten or twelve acres of this property was included in the 63 acres of land purchased for the Church by Bishop Edward Partridge in 1831, and known as the "Church Property" on which a temple in Jackson County will be erected in the due time of the Lord.
In 1904 the name of the mission was changed to the "Central States Mission," and in 1906 Samuel O. Bennion, who (1930) presided over the mission, succeeded Pres. Duffin. Shortly afterwards the mission headquarters were moved to Independence, Missouri, where a substantial chapel and a mission home were erected in 1917. Chapels owned by the saints are also located at St. Louis, Springfield, Webb City, St. Joseph, Winona and Kansas City in Missouri; at El Dorado and Barney in Arkansas; at Corleyville and Pride in Louisiana; at Williamson, Jozye, San Antonio, Kelsey, Enoch, Town Bluff, Dallas, and Fort Worth in Texas, and at Wichita, St. John and Kansas City in Kansas.
In Independence, Mo., is located Zion's Printing and Publishing Company, where the "Liahona the Elders' Journal," the organ of the L. D. S. missions in the United States, is published. Large numbers of books, tracts and other Church literature are published from that Church office in Independence.
There are in the Central States Mission 33 organized branches of the Church, 21 Church edifices, 55 Sunday schools, 30 Relief Societies, and 15 Mutual Improvement Associations. On Dec. 31, 1930, the mission had a Church membership of 10,804, including 5 High Priests, 15 Seventies, 465 Elders, 242 Priests, 114 Teachers, 280 Deacons, 7,842 lay members and 1,841 children. Elder Samuel O. Bennion presided over the mission, assisted by 117 missionaries, including 32 lady missionaries.