History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tuscaloosa Alabama
We had a dining room but it like the rest of the house
except for the kitchen and the living room was freezing cold. So although
our kitchen was small, we ate in there. So we all gathered around the table,
and had the blessing on the food, and the kitchen was wanl1 from Mama's big
wood-burning stove. And the smell of hot biscuits and whatever we could get
for bacon, meat being rationed on account of the war and it was a pleasant
family peace we had.
During the days the elders were with us they were truly
part of the family, sharing our hardships and joys. As we ate we planned
what we would do, weather permitting. Elder McArthur said, "After breakfast
AI an Elder Harris will fill up the tub". Mama liked to tease them so she
asked, "What is elder McArthur going to do?" He said that he was going to
wash up the dishes. Mall1a thought he was joking so she said that she was
sure he would.
After breakfast mama and Helen began to clear off the table
and Elder McArthur told mama to go up front and sit by the fire. When she
protested, he said, "you are going to have a hard day ahead of you and you
need some help." And he told Helen to go also. And he herded the ladies out.
In the living room we could hear Al and Elder Harris
carting in the water, and Elder McArthur doing the dishes. They sounded like
they were having the time of their lives. But the fire in the grate was not
much more than smoldering ashes. The bad weather lasted so long that the
coal companies sold out of coal, and all we could get was steam coal and it
ran through the grate and landed with the ashes on the hearth.
So about nine o'clock the elders got away, encountering
whatever the roads had to offer.
When the elders told us about the sacrament, they explained
how it was to be fixed, the table and napkins and so on. And we'd have
sacrament next time. It was the first time the Holloways had the sacrament
in their new church. So Helen prepared the table.
The day came, and the elder knelt before the table and when
he lifted the napkin, the bread was broken up. There was silence for a few
seconds, then the elder blessed the bread and we had the sacrament. Later
the elder took Helen aside and gently told her that the elders are supposed
to break the bread. That is the only time that Helen fixed the sacrament.
As the war worsened the missionaries were called home to
answer the draft or to join whatever outfit they could. For several years
there were no missionaries around. One day Helen came home from work, she
heard someone playing her organ. She had an old time peddle organ, you had
to pump it, and she and her family and friends had lots of fun singing
around the thing. She found that it was a lady missionary playing the organ.
We didn't know there were lady missionaries. They were real nice and
friendly and we had a good visit, and they gave us a Mormon "country song" I
guess you'd cal1 it. At least it is not in any of our hymn books. It was
cal1ed "The Gospel in a Nutshell" and it really does describe the gospel.
I’ll put a copy at the end of this piece. I've never heard it anywhere else.
We only saw the ladies that one visit.
We never knew how word got around at the University of
Alabama that we were Mormons and had meetings at our house if anyone was
around to meet with us. But one day a man called and said that he heard that
we had meetings, and could he and his wife come on our next meeting. He was
assured that they would be welcome so Sunday they came and we had a nice
meeting getting acquainted and we learned that they were a middle-age couple
whose children were all grown and out. He was with the bureau of mines at
the U of A. Helen doesn't remember their name, but they were very good for
us since we were so few in the Church. He was an elder. We had the
The People who came were mostly students or taught at the
U. of A. but we had one couple who was a patient at Northington General
Hospital, which was a military hospital. His name was Jud Shields, He was
wounded in the war. Helen doesn't remember his wife's name, but they were
newly married. He told us that he met her at church on mother's day. She
made a talk that was as beautiful as she was. So they were married soon.
Jud's injury was to his nose, and he was very concerned
that he couldn't get it fixed back where it was supposed to be, because of
his beautiful wife. He spoke of his "beautiful wife" so often that she got
embarrassed and said, "Oh, Jud".
During the time people were meeting with us someone left us
a hymn book. The name of the book is written by hand: Sylacauga, The Church
of Jesus Christ of "Latter Day Saints" 5/1/42
We never had a crowd at our house, usually just a man and
wife, and now and then a family with several children. Everybody wanted to
meet at our house because they all had apartments and we had more room.
When Helen began writing this piece, she wanted to look up
a few people and see what they had been doing since we first started this
church in this area. She located Elder McArthur who had baptized her. She
knew that Elder McArthur had married his sweetheart before he went on his
mission, and that their son was born while he was still on his mission.
When he was released from his mission, he went home to his
family in Saint George, Utah. The war was still on, but there was no defense
work there and work was scarce. He took a job in his uncle's bakery working
six days a week, 16 hours a day for forty dollars a month. But he prepared
for better times ahead by attending welding classes two nights a week for
four hours a night. After he had two hundred hours of schooling, he began
his own business as a welder. Fortunately for hi s business there was no
other welder there for competition.
Soon he was drafted and while he waited for his call to
leave, he sold real estate in Salt Lake City. During that time he and his
wife, Denise lived with her parents there.
Elder McArthur's military service was in Texas at Camp
Walters, an infantry replacement command outfit. While he was there, he was
Branch President of a church group at Mineral Wells Branch, of the Texas
kept him as a Cadre to teach other service men. So he never saw any over
seas duty. After his discharge he returned to Saint George and kept his
welding shop and also did some plastering work. Plastering was a family
tradition and his grand father had plastered on the St. George temple and
His next calling was to be Stake President, and he was the
last one to serve without counselors in the St. George Stake.
Elder McArthur has always been active in the church. When
he was fifteen years old he taught Sunday school and Priesthood classes. He
served as counselor in the bishopric for five years. He and his wife, Denise
are now ordinance workers in the St. George temple.
In 1966 he was asked to join the Rotary Club, the oldest
and largest service club in the world. He has been club president there and
District governor of Utah - when there were only 430 in the world. The
Rotary is all over the world now. While he was District Governor, his outfit
collected 219 million dollars to help stamp out polio. That figure is now
The LDS church was the only church to donate to that fund
and he has a copy of a check for a quarter of a million dollars in his
files. Elder McArthur's welding shop is now doing well and he has ten
employees. He and his wife have eight children, four boys and four girls.
All the boys have been on missions and all the girls are married to returned
missionaries. His grand children are going in missions as they become old
meeting place we had after the war was at Northington chapel. The hospital
had been closed and the patients transferred to other military hospitals.
The University of Alabama was then in possession of the place. The way the
deed was worded, there was to be a chapel on those grounds. University Mall
is situated there now, and there is no church there, hut they eventually put
an American flag there. Recently they have added some war machinery, a tank,
a cannon, and so on. That is to satisfy the deed for a chapel.
Helen knew that
a young man, 22 years old named Mack Smyly was the one who arranged to get
the chapel for us to meet in. He was a student at the University of Alabama
and as such could be eligible to get the chapel for a meeting place. So
Helen got up with Mack to get the story of the chapel.
Mack and his wife, Joyce moved to Tuscaloosa in April 1957.
Mack is Harold M. Smyly and his wife is Joyce Bowman Smyly. Joyce worked at
Bryce Hospital where she met Jane Kimball. Joyce leaned that Jane and her
husband, John, were interested in the church but were not members. The
Kimballs had met a member of the church from McCalla and they would come
down and have Sunday school at the Kimball’s home. Jane and John had three
children, Charles, Ross and Jan. The reason the Kimballs had not joined the
church is John's mother lived with them and she was violently opposed to the
church. John would not go against her wishes. In later years she relented
and the family joined the church.
Mack tells that it was on a Tuesday night in May 1957 and
he and Joyce were with the Kimballs. Pres. Densmore and his counselor were
there, discussing organizing a dependent Sunday school. During the talk
Pres. Densmore suggested that Mack be Sunday school superintendent.
Mack was reluctant to take the job because of his young
age, also he was a full time student at the U of A, and worked thirty hours
a week. But Pres. Densmore said that if Mack didn't accept the call, someone
would have to come from McCalla to preside.
So after he accepted the call they began to meet at the
Mack and Joyce Smyley home at 1318 sixth Ave. in Tuscaloosa. Mack conducted
and took care of the sacrament and Joyce taught the children and led the
singing. Sometimes there would only be three of four people at the meetings.
At other times a car full of young folks from McCalla would come down
usually on a testimony meeting. That was a great help to the people.
President Densmore recognized the need for a more central
place to meet. So they began to discuss the possibility that Mack might get
the chapel at Northington. When Mack approached the man about it, Mack was
surprised that he was welcomed with the idea. And he could get the chapel
for$35.00 a month. There two meetings a day, Sacrament and Sunday