CHAPTER XXI. Camp Rowdies
In the fall of 1831, our Conference was holden in Indianapolis, Indiana, October 4th; Bishop Roberts presided. At this Conference, we elected our delegates to the General Conference, which was to sit in Philadelphia, May 1st. This was the fifth delegated General Conference to which I was elected, and, perhaps, it is the proper place to say, this was the only General Conference that I ever missed attending, from 1816 to this date. My family were in great affliction, which prevented my attendance. Brothers Andrew and Emory were elected, and ordained bishops in the Methodist Episcopal Church; and the Indiana Conference was formed, so that there were now twelve annual Conference's East and South, and ten, West and South; all the latter formed out of the old Western Conference. Our numbers in the West had risen to 217,659. Our traveling preachers numbered 765. The others, Eastern and Southern, had, in members, 382,060; traveling preachers, 1,454. Total, in round numbers, 600,000. Of traveling preachers, 2,219.
The reader will see our increase in the old conferences in members, in four years, was 111,850; and in the West, was 66,775; total, 177,625. We had increased in traveling preachers, in the same length of time, 716; this was a greater increase than all the branches of the Protestant Christian Churches in the Union could number and surely, all the factories in the Union that make preachers, did not, in the same length of time, graduate as many preachers; and in point of learning and real ability, our increase of preachers will compare favorably with any of them.
As 1832 closed my three years on the Sangamon District, I will relate an incident or two which occurred in Fulton County. We held a camp-meeting, at which good preparations were made; many attended, and our prospects for an interesting meeting were fair, and there was an increasing interest. But some low and unprincipled fellows, in the adjoining village of Canton, fitted out a man, who was perfectly bankrupt, and sent him down to set up a huckster's shop, with tobacco, segars, cakes, candies, pies, and almost all kinds of ardent spirits. I went to him, and told him he should not disturb us in vending those articles, and that he must desist; he swore he would not, and hurled defiance at me; I got a writ and an officer, and took him; he employed a young lawyer to defend him; I prosecuted the suit, and the jury fined him ten dollars and costs. On saying that he had nothing, and was not worth a cent in the world, the court told him, he had to pay his fine or go to jail; he said he must go to jail then, for he could not pay his fine. There was a black-legged gang, that were his chief customers, who swore, if we attempted to put him in jail, which was about ten miles off, that they would rescue him, and give those who attempted to convey him there, a sound drubbing. The officer was scared, and hesitated; in the meantime, I ordered out an execution, and levied on his whole grocery. He declared that these articles were not his, but belonged to other men. I said, I did not care a fig who they belonged to, and ordered the officer to levy on them, and I would indemnify him. When we had secured the grocery, and put it under guard, our officer still hesitated to take the criminal to jail. I told him to summon me, and four other stout men that I named, and I would insure the criminal a safe lodgment in jail, or risk the consequences. This was done, and we hoisted our prisoner on a horse, mounted our own horses, well armed with bludgeons, and started on a merry jog. When we got about half way, I told the prisoner that he had better pay his fine, and not disgrace himself by lying in jail. No, he swore he would not; so on we went. The rowdies that were to waylay us and release the prisoner, never appeared. When we got in sight of the town, in which the jail was, the prisoner asked me very seriously, if we really intended to put him in jail. I told him yes, certainly we did. "Well," said he, "I can't go into jail;" and then pulled out the money and paid his fine and costs.
We returned to the encampment, and the rowdies were in a mighty rage because they could get no drink, for we had the groggery under guard. They swore if we did not release it, they would break up the camp-meeting. I told them to ride on, that we would not release the grocery, and we could whip the whole regiment. At candle lighting we had preaching; they were still and quiet till most of the tentholders had gone to bed. Then they began their dirty deeds. I had ordered out a strong watch, and directed the lights to be kept burning all night. They began at a distance to bark like dogs, to howl like wolves, to hoot like owls; they drew near and crowed like chickens; they tried to put out our lights, and threw chunks at the tent; but the guard beat them back, and kept them off nearly all night. Toward day, they drew nearer and nearer still, and would slap their hands, and crow like chickens. One ringleader among them came right before the preachers' tent, slapped his hands, and crowed and passed on. I stepped to a fire close by, and gathered a chunk of fire, and threw it, striking him right between the shoulders, and the fire flew all over him. He sprung, and bounded like a buck. I cried out, "Take him; take him;" but I assure you it would have taken a very fleet man to have taken him, for he ran as though the very devil was in him and after him. When I returned to the tent, one of the guard came and told me that they were taking wheels off the wagons and carriages; and looking through an opening in the tent, I saw one of them busy in loosening my carriage behind the tent, where I had tied it to a sapling for fear they would run it off. I slipped round, gathered a stick in my way, and came up close behind him, and struck at him, not with much intent to hurt, but to scare him. However, the stroke set his hat on one side of his head; he dashed off in a mighty fright, and his hat not being adjusted right, it blinded him, and fleeing with all speed, he struck his head against a tree, knocked himself down, bruised his face very much, and lay senseless for several minutes; but when he came to himself, he was as tame as a lamb, and his dispensation of mischief was over. This put an end to the trouble of the rowdies, and afterward all was peace and quiet.
We had a very singular and remarkable man among us, a traveling preacher in the Illinois Conference; his name was Wilson Pitner. He was at this camp-meeting. He was uneducated, and it seemed impossible for him to learn; but, notwithstanding his want of learning, and in common he was an ordinary preacher, yet at times, as we say in the backwoods, when he swung clear, there were very few that could excel him in the pulpit; and perhaps he was one of the most eloquent and powerful exhorters that was in the land.
On Monday he came to me, and desired me to let him preach at eleven o'clock, saying,
"I have faith to believe that God will this day convert many of these rowdies and persecutors."
I consented; and he preached with liberty and power. Nearly the whole congregation were powerfully moved, as he closed by calling for every rowdy and persecutor to meet him in the altar; for, said he,
"I have faith to believe that God will convert everyone of you that will come and kneel at the place of prayer."
There was a general rush for the altar, and many of our persecutors, and those who had interrupted and disturbed us in the forepart of the meeting, came and fell on their knees, and cried aloud for mercy; and it is certainly beyond my power to describe the scene; but more than fifty souls were converted to God that day and night. Our meeting continued for several days, and about ninety professed to obtain the pardon of their sins, most of whom joined the Church, and great good was accomplished, although we waded through tribulation to accomplish it.
Such success often attended the Gospel labors of this brother. He is now in California laboring for the good of souls.
When, in 1832, the Illinois Conference was divided, and Indiana set off, the former was confined to the State of Illinois, and consisted of the following presiding-elder districts, namely: Wabash, Kaskaskia, Sangamon, and Mission District. Our first Illinois Conference in its separate form from Indiana, sat in the town of Jacksonville with the four above-named districts; it was held September 25th, 1832. The Indiana preachers met with us this fall; Bishop Soule presided. Our increase of members in the Conference this year was near three thousand. When the bishop and council met, it was found that the country was so rapidly filling up, and the work enlarging so constantly, that it was necessary to make two more presiding-elder districts. The Mission District was called Chicago, and the Quincy District was formed. When the Illinois Conference met in Jacksonville, and was organized, there were thirty-five traveling preachers of us, and our membership was about ten thousand. I had traveled now about twenty-eight years, and although blessed with a strong constitution, I began to feel the worse for wear, and that I needed a little rest. I therefore asked and obtained a superannuated relation for one year; but when the Quincy District was formed, there was not a man in the eldership willing to go to it, such was its new and wilderness state. The bishop said if he could not get a presiding elder for it, it must be merged into the other district. I told him it ought not to be merged.
"Well," said he, "what are we to do? there is no one of these elders willing to go to it."
Said I, "Let me remedy the evil."
Said Bishop Soule, "I wish you would."
"Well," said I, "to-morrow morning let some brother move a reconsideration of the vote by which I was granted a superannuated relation, and make me effective; and if you, sir, see proper to appoint me to that district, I am ready and willing to go."
This proposition was agreed to all round; and next morning, the motion to reconsider was made, put, and carried, and I was appointed to the Quincy District; so you see I have sustained in more than fifty years, a superannuated relation about ten hours. The Quincy District was composed of the following appointments, namely: Galena Mission, Fort Edwards Mission, Henderson River Mission, Blue River Mission, Quincy, Rushville, and Canton, commencing at the mouth of the Illinois River, and running up the Mississippi River to Galena, the northwest corner of the state, and up the Illinois River on its west side to near Peoria; thence due north to the northern line of the state, and even into what is now Wisconsin State. We had in this district about fourteen hundred members. Much of our district was new settlements, formed and forming; hard, long rides, cabin parlors, straw beds and bedsteads, made out of barked saplings, and puncheon bedcords. But the people were kind and clever, proverbially so; showing the real pioneer or frontier hospitality. The men were a hardy, industrious, enterprising, game catching, and Indian driving set of men. The women were also hardy; they would think no hardship of turning out and helping their husbands raise their cabins, if need be; they would mount a horse and trot ten or fifteen miles to meeting, or to see the sick and minister to them, and home again the same day. How different from those ladies who live in older circles, and have grown up in wealth, luxury, and fashionable life, who would faint if they had to walk a hundred yards in the sun without a parasol or umbrella; who are braced and stayed at such an intemperate rate, that they cannot step over six or eight inches at a step, and should they by any accident happen to loose their moorings, and fall, are imprisoned with so many unmentionables, that they could not get up again; and should a thunder-storm suddenly overtake them out doors, would scream as if the world were coming to an end.
I was frequently four or five weeks from home at a time. On one of those trips, in the northern end of this district, the following incident occurred. I started from home in order to attend some four or five quarterly meetings up north. I had traveled some eighty miles, when a most tremendous rain fell; it continued two nights and a day; during which time I was comfortably housed at a friend's. When the rain ceased I started for the Henderson River Mission. The whole face of the earth, where it was I level, was a sheet of water, and the ravines and little rivulets were swollen into large creeks. I had about thirty-six miles to travel to reach my meeting. The brother at whose house I stopped, tried to dissuade me from any attempt at performing my journey, saying there was no road or path for twenty miles, and no house or cabin until I should reach the Twenty Mile Point of Timber; and that I would have to steer for that point as my only guide; that in low places, and in the valleys of prairies, I would be for miles together out of sight of this point; and should any accident befall and detain me, night would overtake me, and I would lose sight of the landmark, and have to layout all night, and perhaps might be lost in this large prairie for days; and, besides, if I should be fortunate enough to reach the point of timber, there was the large creek, and no doubt it was swimming for twenty yards. There were no bridges, no canoes, and I could not find any fallen tree that could possibly reach across, so that I would have to swim, and all alone. If any accident should happen to me, I would certainly be drowned.
The prospect looked gloomy, and I felt some misgivings come over me; and the reasons and arguments of my friend were not without considerable effect on my mind. I paused for a few moments, reasoning on the subject. Just then my oId Methodist preacher motto occurred to my mind, that is, "Never retreat till you certainly know you can advance no further." And as my motto occurred to my mind, my purpose was unalterably fixed to go ahead.
"Brother," said I, "as there is no road, get on your horse and ride a little distance with me, till I can clearly see the point of timber that is to guide me."
He readily consented, and did so. We rode two miles, and the point of timber was plain in view. As he turned back he said, "I should not be surprised if I never saw you again."
"Well," said I, "if I fall, and you never see me again, tell my friends that I fell at my post, trying to do my duty. Farewell."
I had a fine, large, faithful horse under me, and a Divine Providence above me, and in a few minutes after my friend and myself separated, I felt that I had nothing to fear. On I moved; sometimes in and sometimes out of sight of my landmark; sometimes nearly swimming in the little branches, but every step I left the prairie in the distance, and neared my point of timber. There was so much water, and the ground was so soft, I could make but slow progress; but every time I rose on the high ground, from the low valleys in the prairie, my point of timber seemed nearer and nearer still. At length, about three o'clock, I reached the timber in, safety; rode up and hailed the cabin, but there was no person at home. I saw in the distance, about fourteen miles off, my next point of timber, and contiguous to the place of holding my quarterly meeting. I concluded to make a hard push and go through that afternoon; but here was the large creek to cross, only two hundred yards ahead of me. I concluded to go above the timber and cross it; but when I came to it I found it had swollen and spread out at least two hundred yards on the level ground. I could not tell how far I would have to swim on my horse. I rode in about one third the apparent distance across. My horse was nearly swimming. I concluded it would be too far for me to risk a swim on horseback. It occurred to me that "prudence was the better part of valor," so I retreated. I then pursued the creek down the timber, in search of a drift or tree across the stream, where I could carry my things over, and then return and swim my horse, without wetting all my traveling apparatus. At length I found a tree that had been felled across a narrow part of the creek, that I thought answered my purpose admirably, but by this time it was nearly night, and if I got safe over the creek I could not make the distance to the next point of timber, and should have to layout without food for myself or my horse. I came to a halt, and thinking that the occupant of the cabin I had just passed would be in at night, I concluded to retrace my steps and get quarters for the night. So back I came to the cabin, but still there was no one at home. I concluded, at home or not at home, I should lodge there that night. So down I got, opened the door of the cabin, and ushered myself in, I found they had covered up some fire in the ashes, to keep in their absence which made me still hope they would come home some time that night. I went out and stripped my horse, and put him up and fed him, and then my next care was for something to eat myself. By this time I had a good appetite. I went and made up a little fire, and in a small corner cupboard, made of clapboards, backwoods fashion, to my great joy I found a pan of corn bread, nicely baked, and, though cold, it relished well. In one corner of the wooden chimney there hung some excellent dried venison. I pulled out some coals and broiled my venison, and had a hearty meal of it. And now, thought I, if I only had a good cup of coffee, I should have the crowning point gained of a good and pleasant meal. In looking about in the cupboard, I found a tin bucket full of excellent honey, in the comb. I took it out, got some water in a tin cup that was on the shelf, sweetened the water with the honey, and found in it an excellent substitute for coffee. There was a nice clean bed, in which I slept unusually sound. Next morning I rose early, fed my horse, prepared my breakfast, much after the fashion of my supper, saddled my horse, and started on my journey.
When I came to the creek it had fallen considerably, but was still swimming. I carried all my traveling fixtures over perfectly dry; stripped myself, went back, mounted my horse, went over safe, dressed myself, knelt down and offered my sincere thanks to God for his providential care over me, and the mercy he had showed me, and went on my way shouting and happy.
I arrived at the place of the quarterly meeting, and found the few scattered members, six in all, and about eight who were not members, and these comprised the whole settlement, save one family who lived close by, the head of which was a great persecutor of the Methodists. He said he had moved there, in that new and out-of-the-way place, especially to get rid of those wretched people called Methodists, but he had scarcely got into his rude cabin before there was the Methodist preacher, preaching hell fire and damnation, as they always did.
On Monday morning I went over to see him. He was a high-strung Predestinarian in his views; believed, or professed to believe, that God had decreed everything that comes to pass. After introducing myself to him, he presently bristled up for an argument. I told him I had not come to debate, but to invite him to the Saviour. He said he could not receive anything from me, for he cordially despised the Methodists. I told him if God had decreed all things, he had decreed that there should be Methodists, and that they should believe precisely as they did, and that they were raised up by the decree of God to torment him before his time, and that he must be a great simpleton to suppose that the Methodists could do or believe anything but what they did; and now, my dear sir, you must be a vile wretch to want to break the decrees of God, and wish to exterminate the Methodists; that if his doctrine was true, the Methodists were as certainly fulfilling the glorious decrees of God, which were founded in truth and righteousness, as the angels around the burning throne; and several admonitions I gave him, and, by the by, he had some feeling on the subject. I talked kindly and prayed with him, and left.
After I left, he began to think on the topics of conversation, and the more he thought the more his mind became perplexed about these eternal decrees. When he would sit down to eat, or ride, or walk the road, he would soliloquize on the subject. After cutting off a piece of meat and holding it on his fork, ready to receive it into his mouth, he would say: "God decreed from all eternity that I should eat this meat, but I will break that decree," and down he would dash it to the dogs. As he walked the paths in the settlement and came to a fork, he would say, "God from all eternity decreed that I should take the right-hand path, but I'll break that decree," and he would rush to the left. As he rode through the settlement, in coming to a stump or tree, he would rein up his horse and say, "God has from all eternity decreed that I should go to the right of that stump or tree, but I will break that decree," and would turn his horse to the left.
Thus he went on until his family became alarmed, thinking he was deranged. The little settlement, also, was fearful that he had lost his balance of mind. At length, deep conviction took hold of him; he saw that he was a lost and ruined sinner, without an interest in Jesus Christ. He called the neighbors to come and pray for him, and, after a long and sore conflict with the devil and his decrees, it pleased God to give him religion, and almost all his family were converted and joined the Methodist Church, and walked worthy of their high and holy calling.
At another quarterly meeting in this mission on Sunday, we had twenty-seven for our congregation, and yet the scattered population were all, or nearly all, there for many miles around, and when we administered the sacrament on Sabbath, we had just seven communicants, preachers and all. Brother Barton Randle, now a superannuated member of the Illinois Annual Conference, was the missionary. Though a man of feeble health and strength, yet he was faithful in hunting up the lost sheep in this new and laborious field of labor. He suffered many privations and hardships, but he endured all as seeing Him who is invisible, and I have thought that he was one among the very best missionaries I was ever acquainted with. He did great good in this new and rising country, and laid firmly the foundation of future good, which the increasing and now densely populated country has realized. Long since this mission has formed many large circuits and self-supporting stations, and no doubt many, in the great day of retribution, will rise up and call Brother Randle blessed, and he will hail many of his spiritual children in heaven from this field of labor. Brother Randle was the first missionary that was sent to, and formed this mission, and, at the close of his year, he returned seventy-five members.
The Rock Island mission was formed in 1832, and Philip T. Cordier was appointed missionary. He was a man of feeble talents, unstable, and did but little good. He was finally expelled. I do not know what has become of him. On my first visit to Rock Island Mission, which was chiefly located in what was then called Wells's settlement, a few miles above the mouth of Rock River, the river had been very high, but was fallen considerably. There was an old ferry-boat at the lower ford. The ferryman was a very mean man, charged high, and imposed very much on travelers. Some thought the river might be forded, others thought that it would swim. I was a total stranger, and although I had no money to pay my ferriage, yet I did not wish to swim if I could well avoid it, so I rode up and hailed the ferryman. I asked him if the river was fordable.
"No," said he, "it is swimming from bank to bank nearly, and it is a very dangerous ford in the bargain."
"Well," said I, "what do you do with strangers who have no money? I am out, but shall return this way on Monday. If you will ferry me over you shall then be sure of your pay."
"I won't do it," said he. "You must leave something in pawn till you return, or I will not set you over."
"What shall I leave?"
"Your overcoat," said he.
"No, sir; perhaps I shall need it before that time, and if you will not trust me I am afraid to trust you."
"Well," said he, "you can't get over. I won't trust you."
I felt a little indignant, and turned off, saying, "My horse is a much better ferry-boat than your own, and he'll trust me." So I determined to take a swim. Just as I turned off from the ferryman I saw a man on horseback ride down to the river's edge on the other side. He waded his horse in, and came over without swimming at all. This stranger told me there was no better ford on any river in the world, and that there was not the least danger on earth. I told him what the ferryman said.
" Ah," said he, "you have made a blessed escape, for if you had left your overcoat, you never would have got it again. He is a great rascal, and makes his living by foul means."
So I passed over in safety, and had the pleasure of keeping my overcoat. When I got to Brother Wells's I found a good little society, all in peace, and we had a very pleasant little quarterly meeting.
Here, on the north side of Rock River, on the rising ground from the Mississippi bottom, stands the site of one of the oldest Indian towns in the north or northwest. It is a beautiful site for a city. There were to be seen lying, bleached and bleaching, the bones of unnumbered thousands of these poor, wild, and roaming races of beings. It was the center of the vast, and powerful, unbroken, warlike tribes of the Northwest. This particular spot was claimed by the notorious Black Hawk and his tribe. If they had been a civilized people, and had known the real arts of war, it would have been utterly impossible for the Americans to have vanquished and subdued them as they have done. When I looked over the fields in cultivation by the whites, where the ground had, for ages, been the country of thousands of Indians, a spirit of sorrow came over me. Had they been an educated and civilized people, there no doubt would now be standing on this preeminent site as splendid a city as New-York. But they are wasted away and gone to their long home. I saw a scattered few that were crowded back by the unconquerable march of the white man.
On another visit to a quarterly meeting on the Rock Island Mission, Brother H. Summers, a traveling presiding elder in the Rock River Conference, accompanied me. We had a pleasant meeting, and it was believed that good was done. I had taken and distributed a good many religious books in the mission, which were eagerly sought for by the community. Brother Summers and myself concluded to cross at the upper ford on Rock River. About midway in the river was a very slippery rock, which could be avoided by keeping up stream considerably, but somehow I missed the safe track, and my horse got on this slippery rock, and all of a sudden he slipped and fell. My saddle turned, off I went, and the first thing I knew I saw my saddle-bags floating down with great rapidity, for the water ran very swift. I left my horse to get up as best he could, and took after my saddle-bags. I had a tight race, but overtook them before they sunk so as to disappear. They were pretty well filled with water. My books and clothes had all turned Campbellites, for there was much water; and I escaped, not by the skin of my teeth, but by the activity of my heels. My horse rose, and, with all the calmness of old Diogenes, waded out, and left me to do the same. Brother Summers could not maintain his usual gravity, but I assure you all his fun was at my expense. I had scarcely a dry thread about me, but on we went, and reached Pope River settlement that night.
The Galena Mission, I think, Was formed in 1827. It was a singular providence, somehow, that, notwithstanding Galena was in my district for several years, yet, by high waters, sickness of my horses, myself, and family, I was never able to reach a single appointment in Galena, and to this day I have never seen her hills, walked her streets, or explored her rich mineral stores or mines, and although I have always borne the name of a punctual attendant on my appointments, it seems strange to me that I never reached that interesting point.
In the fall of 1834 and 1835, William D. R. Trotter rode and preached on the Henderson River Mission; he was my son-in-law. On one occasion when I attended one of his quarterly meetings, there was no parsonage, and but few families comfortably situated to board with. During the meeting it rained almost constantly, and then turned cold, and there fell a considerably quantity of snow. I was in my gig or one-horse sulky. As I was to return home from this quarterly meeting, my daughter concluded that she would go with me, and spend a few weeks with her mother. I told her I knew the streams were very high, and it was doubtful whether we could get along. She said she thought if I could get along, she could. So we started in my two-wheeled vehicle. In a few miles we reached Spoon River. At a little village called Ellisville, the river was very full and rapidly rising; no ferry-boat, no comfortable house to stay at. One of the citizens of the village had a canoe; but how was I to take my carriage over a rapid stream on a canoe? The man said he could do it; and, rather than stay for any length of time among a drunken, swearing, rowdy crowd, I concluded to try it. Down we went; I took out my horse, took off the harness, and took the harness and all the traveling appendages into the canoe; took in my daughter; took my harness, bridle, and led my horse in, and swam him over, by the side of the canoe. I landed all safe, and then returned with the manager of the canoe for my carriage; we rolled it into the water, centered it as well as we could; balanced it, and I held on to it while he paddled and managed the canoe; and over we went safe and sound; geared up, hitched, to, and started on through the mud for Lewistown, and got there safe. We put up with Judge Phelp,s, a fine man, and his wife an excellent woman, and very friendly family; and we were not only made welcome, but comfortable. That night it snowed, and covered the ground several inches. Next morning we started early, and crossed the Illinois River just above the mouth of Spoon River, which we had crossed the day before. We met some travelers in the afternoon, who told us that the waters of the Sangamon River were out for five miles, and that we could not reach the ferry-boat without swimming. We then turned our course up Salt Creek, which emptied into the Sangamon River above where we had intended to cross it. Just before sundown we reached Salt Creek, where was a miserable old rotten ferry-boat, and Salt Creek out of its banks a mile. The ferry-man told us he could ferry us over the main channel of the stream, and he had no doubt we could wade out without swimming if we could find the way. It was at least a mile to the bluff; he said, if we kept the road we would swim. We could only tell where the road was by a little space along, clear of weeds and grass. He said if we kept on ground where we could see the tops of the weeds and grass, there was no danger, but if we could not see these, not to venture, for there were many ponds clear of weeds and grass as well as the road. This seemed to me to be a very dangerous undertaking. But my daughter urged me on. I had great confidence in my horse; he was large and strong, and an excellent swimmer; so over we went. There were a few rods of earth uncovered with water; and then we took water for the bluffs. We could see very distinctly the windings of the road by the little space that was clear of weeds and grass; but presently we would come to a large space clear of weeds and grass; these we took to be ponds, and would wind round them and come back to our watery road. In this tedious way we got along slowly, though making all the speed we could without injuring my horse. As we neared the bluffs, darkness was closing in on us very fast; at length we got within about three rods of the bluffs, and we could not see the tops of weeds and grass, neither to the right nor left, nor in front; I turned up stream, and then down stream, but all my pilots had disappeared. I was brought to a stand. Said I to my daughter:
"Let's swim it; Gray will ferry us over safe."
"Agreed," said she.
Said I, "Take a firm hold of the gig, and sink or swim, never let go, and Gray will make land."
So in I drove, when, behold! it was not swimming, and my horse waded out safe. We then had four miles to go, without road or pilot, and very dark. I took my course by the evening star, and soon arrived at a friend's house; was kindly received and comfortably entertained by my old brother, Dr. Ballard, in New-Market, then Sangamon County. He has long since fallen asleep, left earth for heaven, and is reaping his reward among the blessed.
I have thus given a small sketch of some of the perilous scenes through which early Methodist preachers had to pass, to show the Methodist preachers of the present day, the difference between walking on Turkey carpets, and eating yellow-legged chickens, and walking on mud and water, and eating nothing for days at a time.
The Fort Edwards Mission was formed, I believe, in 1832-33. D. B. Carter was the first missionary appointed to this mission; he returned at the next conference fifty-three members. Brother Carter was a man of small literary acquirements. When he professed religion he could not read a hymn intelligibly, but believing God had called him to preach the Gospel, he industriously applied himself to books, and soon learned to read very well. He was not a brilliant or profound theologian; but he was a pious, zealous, useful minister of Jesus Christ; and during his short ministerial career, many were the seals of his ministry. He was much beloved in life, and greatly lamented in death. After a few years of zealous, useful labors, the fell disease, consumption, seized on him; he lingered in a superannuated relation a year or two, and then died a peaceful and happy death. Many in the great day of judgment will rise up and call him blessed.
The Fort Edwards Mission lay up and down the east bank of the Mississippi, from Quincy City to Fort Edwards, which stood where the city of Warsaw now stands; thence up the Mississippi to the celebrated foot of what is called the Lower Rapids, where, in after times, was erected the idolatrous city of Nauvoo, under the supervision of the grand impostor Joseph Smith, who was and is claimed as the Mormon Prophet.