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Mormons who Begin Journeys II: 40 Rooms with Staff and Servants

Let me introduce you to Harry McCune who may fill in some blanks on our Elam Luddington’s three year South Asian journey.  Harry, a young British lad of 17 lived in a bungalow of 40 rooms with a staff of servants in the heat and congestion of Calcutta in the late 1850s.

Their comments and the pamphlets they left would change the course of Harry McCune’s life

He survived his sister who died soon after birth and another brother who died from a mad dog bite.  He also survived the Asiatic cholera which killed hundreds of English including his two brothers.  Harry, however, would live to age 84 and die in Salt Lake City, Utah.

His father Matthew, an officer in the British Royal Army, arrived in India with his new wife by sail boat in the mid 1830s before there were steam ships.  They threw merry parties in their lovely home hosting young British soldiers and talking late into the nights on a range of topics.

It was at one of these parties where the conversation turned to religion in their small circle they called the Plymouth Brethren associated with the Baptist Church of India.  A couple of eighteen year old adventure sailors, Benjamin Riches and George Barber, stopping at the Calcutta port on their way back from Singapore heading to London were in the circle that night.

Their comments and the pamphlets they left would change the course of Matthew McCune’s life and his son Harry’s life and the rest of the family and some of their friends.  George and Benjamin had just become Mormon in London before they shipped out.  They were about to begin a journey they thought would be just another seafaring voyage and so it was.  But they also inadvertently became missionaries, too.  They were likely surprised at converting others as much as they were surprised to be converted themselves.  In George’s words,

“Through my acquaintance with Miss M A Wingfield who had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of [Latter-day] Saints the Gospel by her was introduced to us and strange and marvellous [as] it now appears both Benjamin and myself was [impressed] with the Truth of the same and about 3 weeks after was bapized in London on the 3 day of IS by Elder H. Savage.”

(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections and Archives, Joel E. RicksCache Valley History Collection, COLL MSS 46, Folder 14, Page 4)

Matthew and Harry McCune would now cross paths with Elam Luddington on his sea voyage.  Elam’s purpose was missionary work but it may have been more seafaring adventure less missionary work than George Barber’s.
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