Parmley, Harriet Green Hemingway
On January 17, 1894, an interview with Elder J.H. Schvanavledt, a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, appeared in the Anderson, South Carolina newspaper, The Intelligencer. Schvanavledt described the backgrounds of the people who had converted to the LDS Church over the past decade and noted that “of the three hundred converts in South Carolina, only three are negroes.” While Century of Black Mormons has not identified the first three Black converts, we know that three months after the Intelligencer story appeared, Harriet Green and her sister Mary G. Cox, became the fourth and fifth Black South Carolinians to convert to the faith.
Harriet Green was the eighth of fourteen children born to Joseph Green and Harriet Bellamy Green. Census, baptismal, and death records provide conflicting birth years for Harriet but she was likely born in the summer of 1878 or 1879, simply because the 1880 census listed her as a one year old that year with a younger sibling who was four months old.
Harriet spent her entire life in Horry County, South Carolina, situated along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean on South Carolina’s shared border with North Carolina. The county comprises a region called the Low Country which is known for its rich and distinctive Gullah Geechee cultural heritage. The Gullah people are the descendants of enslaved Africans who worked in relative isolation away from white overseers and slave owners, and were able to retain African influences in their language, religious practices, crafts, and food. It is not clear if Harriet and her family were Gullah, however, it is very likely that their day-to-day life was steeped in Gullah culture.
Both of Harriet’s parents were born enslaved. Her father was identified by name for the first time in the 1870 census as Joseph Vaught, an indication that he likely worked on the Vaught Plantation in Horry County. Harriet’s mother was born Harriet Bellamy, which meant that she was likely enslaved on John Bellamy’s Cherry Grove Plantation, also located in Horry County. The couple married in 1865, the first year that formerly enslaved people were legally allowed to marry in South Carolina. Joseph and Harriet changed their last name from Vaught to Green sometime between 1870 and 1880, undoubtedly in an expression of independence from the family who claimed Joseph as property.
After emancipation, Harriet and Joseph worked as sharecroppers. The 1880 agricultural census reveals that the Green family rented seven acres of land, raised fifteen swine, five chickens, grew 200 pounds of rice, and 100 bushels of corn. By 1900 Joseph and Harriet Green owned their farm outright and continued to work as farmers for the rest of their lives.
Harriet and her older sister Mary converted to the LDS Church on March 27, 1894. Don Carlo Loveland from Albion, Idaho, baptized Harriet, and William George Patrick from Salt Lake City, Utah confirmed her the same day. Missionaries who created her baptismal record listed her birth year as 1874, a clear mistake that would have meant she was nineteen rather than fifteen or sixteen at the time of her baptism and may indicate that either Harriet or the missionaries attempted to demonstrate that she was old enough to be baptized without parental consent. Harriet and Mary are the only two known members of their families to join the LDS Church.
It is impossible to know what attracted the sisters to embrace a primarily white church or how long they may have remained Latter-day Saints. Neither Harriet nor Mary were listed in LDS Church census records between 1914 and 1960, not a definitive indication that they transitioned to a different faith simply because church census records were not universally collected, especially in areas with few Latter-day Saints such as rural Horry County, South Carolina. In Harriet’s case at least, she likely did make a faith transition at some point after her LDS baptism simply because her headstone included the symbol of a cross, an icon rarely used among Latter-day Saints by the mid-twentiteh century.
Harriet married Joseph Hemingway in 1897 and the couple had eight children, four of whom survived past childhood— George Gilbert, Carrie V., Jim, and Jeff. The family lived in Dogwood Neck Township, near present day Atlantic Beach. Joseph, Harriet, and their young children worked on a rented farm. Harriet could not read or write, but according to the 1910 census, she had attended school at some point in the preceding year. Joseph Hemingway died of influenza in 1918 and Harriet married a man with the last name Parmley, and was widowed again by 1930. No record of her second husband has yet been found.
Aside from her 1962 death certificate, Harriet disappeared from the public record after 1930. Harriet was 83 years old when she died on November 27, 1962. She is buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, in Horry County, South Carolina.
By Julia Huddleston
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Record of Members Collection. Southern States Mission. CR 375 8, box 6516, folder 1, image 111. Church History Library. Salt Lake City, Utah.
“South Carolina Mormons.” The Intelligencer (Anderson, South Carolina). 17 January 1894, 4.
South Carolina. State Board of Health. Bureau of Vital Statistics. Certificates of Death. File No. 21351, Registered No. 54, Joseph Hemingway. Office of Vital Records, Columbia, South Carolina.
South Carolina. State Board of Health. Bureau of Vital Statistics. Certificates of Death. File No. 62 016766, Registered No. 158. Harriet Parmley. Office of Vital Records, Columbia, South Carolina.
United States. 1870 Census. South Carolina, Horry County.
United States. 1880 Census. South Carolina, Horry County.
United States. 1900 Census. South Carolina, Horry County.
United States. 1910 Census. South Carolina, Horry County.
United States. 1930 Census. South Carolina, Horry County.
Horry County, SC Plantations. South-Carolina-plantations.com.
Parmley, Harriet Hemingway. Findagrave.com.
Reed, Michael G. Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo. Independence, Missouri: John Whitmer Books, 2012.
 “South Carolina Mormons,” The Intelligencer (Anderson, South Carolina), 17 January 1894, 4.
 United States, 1880 Census, South Carolina, Horry County.
 United States, 1870 Census, South Carolina, Horry County; “Horry County, SC Plantations,” South-Carolina-plantations.com, https://south-carolina-plantations.com/horry/horry-county.html.
 United States, 1880 Census, South Carolina, Horry County; United States, 1900 Census, South Carolina, Horry County.
 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection, Southern States Mission, CR 375 8, box 6516, folder 1, image 111, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 Harriet Hemingway Parmley, FindAGrave.com. For the use of the cross among Latter-day Saints see Michael G. Reed, Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo (Independence, Missouri: John Whitmer Books, 2012).
 United States, 1900 Census, South Carolina, Horry County.
 United States, 1910 Census, South Carolina, Horry County.
 South Carolina, State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Certificates of Death, File No. 21351, Registered No. 54, Joseph Hemingway, Office of Vital Records, Columbia, South Carolina; United States, 1930 Census, South Carolina, Horry County.
 South Carolina, State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Certificates of Death. File No. 62 016766, Registered No. 158, Harriet Parmley, Office of Vital Records, Columbia, South Carolina; Harriet Hemingway Parmley, Findagrave.com.
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