Donald R. Curtis, a Kentucky native, has a passion for early Church history, particularly in Kentucky and the South. Curtis’s work has been featured in publications such as The Kentucky Encyclopedia and the Kentucky Explorer. In this book, Curtis presents the account of the lesser-known massacre in Mormon history at Cane Creek, Tennessee. The Cane Creek Mormon Massacre gives a detailed account from multiple points of view of how a Sunday worship service turned into a violent incident that left five dead and one wounded.
Curtis is able to put the massacre in the context of the greater Mormon movement, beginning the book with a succinct history of Mormonism and missionary work in the South. This history gives the reader background into the area and lends understanding to the developing anti-Mormon atmosphere that escalated into the violence at Cane Creek.
After giving multiple detailed accounts of the incident, Curtis focuses a large portion of the book on the immediate aftermath of the massacre. He shows the reaction of the local missionaries and Church members involved and even the national and global reaction, which gives a comprehensive understanding of the tragedy. Curtis then goes on to discuss the lasting impact and hostility that followed the Cane Creek Massacre. The final chapter discusses the years following the incident and what became of those involved and the actual site of the massacre.
While the limitations of a small publisher are evident at times, this volume is extensively researched and filled with letters, journal entries, newspaper articles, and pictures that contribute to giving the reader a thorough understanding of this history and the event in its entirety. The Cane Creek Mormon Massacre will provide Latter-day Saints and scholars alike with a new vista in Church and Southern history. Scholars and enthusiasts of Church history and missionary work will be interested not only because Cane Creek is the first book written exclusively on this subject, but because of the clear picture Curtis gives of both the incident and the conditions surrounding it.