About Mormon Lawson
HANCOCK COUNTY, TN - Biographical Sketches - Mormon Lawson, b. 18 May 1818
d. 5 July 1905
A Biographical Narrative of Mormon Lawson
Hancock County, Tennessee
Wife: 1st: Elizabeth Williams, probably d/o Charles Williams & Rebecca _?_
2nd: Martha (Mullins) Collins, d/o _?_
Parents: Mormon Lawson & Elvira Collins
Mormon Lawson, son of Mormon Lawson (Sr.) and Elvira (Elva) Collins, was born in Lee County, Virginia 18 May 1818. Mormon married his first wife, Elizabeth "Betsey" Williams in 1844 at Hancock County, Tennessee. They were the first couple married in the county after its formation from Hawkins County. Elizabeth is thought (no proof) to have been the daughter of Charles & Rebecca _?_ Williams. Charles' family is said to have moved from Stokes County, North Carolina to the area of Lee County, Virginia, and Hawkins County, Tennessee about 1820. He purchased in 1832, from Sarah Nicklson widow of Samuel, 40 acres of land on Black Water Creek adjacent to George Collins. This purchase was based on a promissory bond executed by Samuel prior to his death and Sarah was obligated to deed the land to Charles.
No evidence of land owned by Mormon has been found. He appears to have moved from county to county where ever he could find work. In 1850 he was living as Morman Lawson in Hancock County, 1860 as Monroe Lawson in Lee County, Virginia, 1870 Mormon & Elizabeth have not been found, but their children were living in Grainger County, 1880 as Marian Lawson in Claiborne County & 1900 as Momen Lawson in Hancock County. Mormon has been spelled Moreman, Morman, Moorman, Momen, and by one branch of his descendants, Bowman.
Elizabeth probably died sometime between 1880 when she is listed with Mormon in the 1880 census and about 1892 when he married, probably in Hancock County, his 2nd wife Martha (Mullins) Collins, the widow of Currin Collins. Martha's parents have not been determined. She died 1947 at Knoxville, Tennessee.
Little is known about the early life of Mormon & Elizabeth except for the information contained in the census records. These records give the names of all their living children, indicate they were illiterate and always rented the house where they lived. All children listed in the earlier records continue to be listed with the family until they approached adulthood. More is know about Mormon in his later years primary due to the tribute or
eulogy written by his friend, John R. M. Davis, after his death. Mormon died 1905 in Hancock County and is buried in the Polly Miser Cemetery on Panther Creek.
(Tribute) Written by Major J. R. M. Davis and published in the Rogersville Herald, 12 July 1905.
Momen Lawson - John D. Rockefeller
The first named subject of this sketch died July 4th 1905, in Hancock County, on the top of Indian Ridge at the very ripe old age of eighty-seven years, one month and twenty six days, being born in Hawkins County (now Hancock) on the 8th day of May 1818. He fills a pauper's grave as his name was borne on the rolls of the county several years antedating his passing away. He was not a meddler, murderer, rogue, robber, liar or extortioner. He
was illiterate but had an ordinary sense and a remarkable good memory. He was useful to the last of his life. In his early life he wielded the maul, the axe, the mattock, and was a good hand to pull, break and swingle flax. He was gentle and kind in his speech, and he appreciated every gift of which he was the recipient. During the last years of his life he made a yearly journey from house to house for several miles around him carrying a bunch of hickory bark and bottoming chairs for everybody where he could get a job. When the sap went down and the bark would no longer peel, his season was over and he was helpless to make his life's support save now and then when he made sale of a scrub broom. For several years he moulded and burnt clay pipes, but someone stole his molds and he let this industry go down, thus he labored "willingly with his hands" doing what he could do to sustain himself. He was twice married. He was the first man married in this county after its organization. His children by his first consort have grandchildren. He leaves a consort to survive him and three children whose ages range from seven to thirteen years.
That he has never done the world great harm is evident and that the world is bettered by his having lived in it is hardly perceptible. He enjoyed a good meal and a warm fire, and of the man who helped him to these he spoke his praise. No costly monument with chiseled finger pointing toward the city with the gates of pearl will mark his last resting place, only a rough sandstone rock, which bears no inscription, by a round pile of dirt and slate, is the monument of his remains.
Some people are living that ought to be living; some are living that ought to be dead; some are dead that ought to be living; and some are dead that ought to be dead. John D. Rockefeller whose life and accumulations of this world's wealth are as distant from the humble life of Momen Lawson and his poverty as Dives from Lazarus, is still living and posing as a good Christian. Think of the two! John D. with an annual income of twenty-five millions, more than he can spend, at the age of sixty-six years and still chasing a dollar, and Momen's without a penny to bequeathe to his ragged little children. Can one
man wrench from the people such an enormous fortune that his income is twenty-five millions annually and lay up a bank account "where moth and rust doth not corrupt?"
John has raised the price of his oil, and made the light come so hard to the poor that the world will fail to recognize his good works through the glimmer of his burning oil. John's face is said to look old and shriveled like a cracked boot leg, "the reflection" of the shriveled, miserly, grasping soul within him. According to nature he cannot live more than fifteen or twenty years longer, and his frame will become wormfood like Momen's,
and we doubt that Momen with the consciousness of having done all he could has the best of John in this world. The biggest gift he has made was his twelve million donation to the Chicago University, and according to Christ's method of measuring gifts the woman who
gave a penny gave more than a million men like John D.
Is it not Scriptural that while John will be butting like a camel to scrouge through the eye of the needle that the gates of pearl may swing ajar for Momen, and the cherubic hosts of the celestial city escort him to the innumerable company around the throne? May
he not drink where the crystal waters gleam while John can not get water to water his stock, or cool his lips and tongue?
If Divas and Lazarus in the parable mean such men as Momen Lawson and John D. Rockefeller, then there will be an evening upon the other side of Jordan and John will get what's coming to him, and it will be "a hot time in the old town" for the Lord won't owe him anything good, and Momen in the mansion house with "the spirit of just men made perfect."