V. PERSONAL SKETCHES
These sketches are not obituaries or biographies, though somewhat of both. They are sketches in which honorable mention is made of a few of the most earnest laborers in this part of the Zion of God. Doubtless others deserve notice, but a lack of data prevents it, though an effort has been made to do justice to all. Of some, a more extended notice could have been given; but (1) The limits of the present work forbid it; and (2) Many, especially of the ministers are noticed in connection with the church or Associational work, etc. The sketches are mostly confined to Oregon; those here but a short time, and removing, are only noticed with their special work. All are committed to the brethren in the following fitting tributes to the early pioneers; the first, by Hon. George L. Curry, in an address before the Oregon Pioneer Society in 1873.
"No doubt high regard will be cherished for them when they shall have passed away, to live again in the grateful stories of the thrilling incidents of frontier and wilderness life. The Oregon pioneers were a class of men possessing the superior virtues which make superior manhood. Already they have been distinguished by the highest honors. in the church, on the bench, at the bar, as Governors, as Congressmen, as Senators. They did their work unostentatiously, but they did it well; in leaving a broad and substantial foundation at least, for the more complete and perfect work of those who were to come after them."
And in an address to the pioneers, Hon. William Galloway says:
"Integrity in public and private affairs distinguished our early pioneers. Lawsuits were not common, and seldom involved questions of veracity. Public office was deemed a public trust, and was not used as a means of inordinate private gain. I do not believe that any State was founded by a grander class of men or women. Here was found the faith and religious fervor of the early Puritans without their intolerance. Here was found the courage and manly pride of the Cavaliers without their arrogance. Plain, honest, tolerant. courageous, intelligent, they laid broad and deep the foundations of a State whose magnificent growth and development is their grandest eulogy . Grand old men and women! In the very nature of things, your ranks must thin and thin, until within a short period, at best, the last of you must pass away. Even among your children there are many like him who now addresses you, around whose temples appears the frost which never melts; but be assured that we, your children, appreciate the dangers that you passed through, the toils you endured, the institutions which you founded, and rise up and call you blessed. And in the future, which your toil and foresight have made magnificent, we will claim no prouder descent than that of being the sons and daughters of the Oregon pioneers."
NOTE: The date after the name is the year the individual came to the Pacific coast, and in this order the names are arranged. If two dates follow the name, the first is that of coming, and the second, that of ordination, or of active labor, recognized by the denomination.
1. DEACON DAVID T. LENOX. 1843
Deacon David T. Lenox may justly be regarded as the pioneer, and pre-eminently, as the most active, earnest, and zealous worker for the Baptist cause on the Pacific coast, in that early day when Baptists were exceedingly few and scattering. He was born in Catskill, New York, December 8, 1802. The members of his family were Scotch Methodists; he being the only Baptist. His educational advantages were confined to the district schools of that day. When quite young, he moved to Illinois, married, and in 1832, with his wife, professed religion and were baptized into the Rushville Baptist church. He at once showed an earnest of his future activity, organizing and superintending two Sunday Schools. In 1840 he moved to Missouri, and was the clerk of the Todd's Creek church, and of the Association until 1843, when he came to Oregon, starting from Missouri April 9, 1843. Was the captain of his company, and traveled with ox teams in the lead, conscientiously observing the Lord's day by resting and reading God's word and prayer in his tent. His son Edward drove the first team with a wagon over the Blue mountains. He settled on the East Tualatin plain, about 15 miles from Portland; but Portland was an unbroken forest then. He gave out the first notice of a Baptist prayer meeting on the Pacific coast; which meeting was held in his own house. In 1844, he found a few other Baptists, who, with himself and wife, organized the first Baptist church west of the Rocky mountains. For almost a year, with the help of Brother Henry Sewell, then a young man, zealous and wide awake, he kept the church active and flourishing, until Elder Vincent Snelling came to them in 1845, and soon after baptized two of Brother Lenox's daughters.1 Brother Lenox was chosen deacon and was a leading, influential man among the brethren being studiously inclined, he had improved himself until few could surpass him in general intelligence, whilst his sound judgment, keen insight, and thorough appreciation of the fitness of things were such that he seldom made mistakes. His neighbors so realized this, and had such confidence in his integrity, that for several years he filled the office of Justice of the Peace, and also that of Probate Judge of his County,
He had ten children; all of whom that lived to suitable age became Baptists; and all except one daughter are residing on the Pacific coast. His discipline was firm but kind. His generosity and benevolence were bounded only by his ability. None were turned off; he divided to the last with those needing help. Indeed, it is doubtful if his generosity did not sometimes transcend his justice to himself and family. As an instance, in the winter of 1845-46, with eight persons in his own family, whilst living in a log cabin, 18x22 feet, with a small bedroom off at one end, he took in a widow with three children, and Rev. Ezra Fisher and family of six; and they all managed to winter together! They had a small sheet-iron stove, but otherwise, had to cook over a stick fireplace filling one half the end of the room. Their standard "bill of fare" was turnips, potatoes, dried peas, and boiled wheat, with pea coffee, and occasionally a little molasses. Flour was seldom seen. They had meat whenever they could kill a deer or other wild game. They had neither milk nor butter. Bread was unknown, if represented by x, the best algebraist in the land would have given it up as "uncertain," "variable," or "indeterminate," and the result found would have been zero, or boiled wheat or peas, perhaps without salt or seasoning.
Their beds were spread on the puncheon floor at night and rolled up by day. In the evening, they sat on blocks of wood, or rude benches, about the huge fireplace, and by the light of the blazing pitch, pronounced spelling lessons to little boys and girls whose names are now known and honored through out the State. Such was pioneer life, and these were by no means its greatest inconveniences and privations.
In 1848 Brother Lenox issued the call for the first Baptist Association on the coast, and was the clerk of that body. He enjoyed the fullest confidence of the brethren, and his experience was regarded as especially valuable. He was willing to work, and that most cordially, whether as leader, or among the rank and file. Though his modesty did not allow him to seek position, and though he regarded his abilities as ordinary, the brethren crowded him into the front ranks. Although generous towards the faith of others, he was decided in his own views, being a Baptist from principle, and from a careful study of their faith and practice. In the Sunday School he was the main help, and in building the meeting house at West Union, he is said to have borne nearly all or quite two-thirds of the expense. At home or abroad, he was always ready for any good work. At first he followed farming; afterwards engaged in merchandising. About 1858-59 he was troubled with granulated sore eyes, so that he had to give up business almost altogether. About 1861-62 is a period in which he is not identified with the denomination, but afterwards all were rejoiced to hear that he had returned to his first love. He afterwards took an unobtrusive part in public proceedings, and could not be induced to be as active in denominational work as before, though his interest had not abated. He died in Christian hope, at the residence of his son- in-law, Hon. John S. White, in Umatilla county, October 18, 1874; and no Baptist on the Pacific coast who knew him, but honors him for the noble and lasting work he did in helping to establish our faith in "these ends of the earth."
2. REV. HENRY SEWELL. 1843
Brother Sewell, like Brother Lenox, came overland to Oregon when the trip was no child's play. A six months journey between settlements with ox teams, (it was then supposed that horses could not stand the trip) exposed to wind and storm, hauling their provisions and sleeping in their wagons or on the ground, mostly without tents or covering other than their blankets, was not only difficult and fatiguing but also dangerous. Dangerous on account of the hostile Indians along the road and dangerous because of the liability of the teams giving out, and provisions falling short. The difference between Brother Lenox and Sewell was that Brother Lenox had a large family, and Brother Sewell was by himself, and on such a journey as that, this difference was no trifle. After the trip was accomplished the privations and hardships were appalling to any but resolute hearts. If a person realized the magnitude of the undertaking, it required courage to come to Oregon in those days.
Henry Sewell was born at Maplestead Hall, Essex County, England, March 22, 1819. His education was limited, and at the age of 18 years he came to America. Here he was alone among strangers, excepting one man who accompanied him from England. A brother had preceded him two years, who died in Missouri in 1837, before Henry reached him. He experienced religion and was baptized into one of the St. Louis Baptist churches in August 1835 and at once became an earnest advocate of Christianity among his associates. In 1843 he came to Oregon and located a homestead on Tualatin plains, where he resided until his death. He brought his religion with him, bright and glowing, and was ready to enter with Brother Lenox into the organization of a Baptist church in 1844, making a most efficient laborer in keeping the church prosperous. He was clerk of the church for several years, and it is to his careful, methodical habits that much of the first proceedings are preserved. He married in 1845. He was unpretending and uncomplaining, and endured the hardships and privations of a frontier life without a murmur. No matter what betided, he was always working earnestly for the cause of Christ. Family worship was to him a joyous privilege, and he kept it up, morning and evening, until his death.
Feeling called of God to preach, in July 1857 he was licensed and on February 13, 1859 he was ordained, and called to the pastorate of the West Union church. He labored for it zealously and faithfully. He also preached acceptably for the churches at Forest Grove, McMinnville and Clackamas. He gave the most of his time to preaching, laboring incessantly that the cause of Christ might be advanced, looking to his precious Savior for his reward. West Union church bought him a small library, and some aid was doubtless contributed by some of his friends, but he preached mostly "at his own charge". He was always cheerful and it is not known that he had an enemy in the world. He served as magistrate and also as county school superintendent for several years, and was very popular in performing the marriage ceremony. He was a kind husband and a beloved parent, raising a lovely family of five children, four of whom are now living, and all are professors of religion.
In March 1866, his beloved wife "passed over the river", and his deep grief and possibly some other matters proved too much of a shock for him, and his mind became unsettled. He lost none of his zeal for the work of Christ, but it was clearly seen that his intellect had not its former steady balance. This grew and increased on him till in November 1869 he terminated his own life by a pistol shot, dying without a groan and passed over to join his beloved wife who had "gone before". This sad event cast a gloom over the West Union church, of which he was pastor; and brethren all felt grieved over his lamentable death. The cause of Christ also suffered much, for he was a most earnest and promising worker. His preaching was generally extempore, with few notes. He talked as if he fully realized what he said. His words were convincing and found a ready response in every heart. His topics were mostly practical and he dwelt much on heart work in religion, and it was no uncommon thing to hear his sermons spoken of on account of their deep spirituality. This same trait he also carried into his private conversation, and it was a delight to hear him talk of the work of grace in the heart. His heart appeared to be brim full of the love of God, and it was almost his constant theme. His manner was free and easy, familiar. without being bold or forward, and his influence for good was felt wherever he was known.
3. REV. VINCENT SNELLING. 1844
Rev. Vincent Snelling, as far as known, was the first Baptist minister on the Pacific coast. Brother Sewell was not yet licensed. Brother Snelling came as an immigrant, but he brought his religion with him, and his influence here, and the good he accomplished, will be known only in the great day of accounts. He was born of Baptist parentage, March 15, 1797, in what was then Christian, afterwards, Caldwell county, Kentucky. He professed religion in 1810 amidst much ridicule from former associates; but his consistent Christian life afterwards was the means of bringing several of them to Christ. His educational advantages were limited, but he studied, and was well posted. He was twice married, and reared a large family, some of whom are now dead, and the others widely scattered. He died at his son's residence, in Yreka, California, November 8, 1855. His wife died September 1, 1865. He came to Oregon in 1844, and soon after commenced his ministerial labor with the West Union church. The next year he took a homestead about two miles below where McMinnville now stands. He soon after organized the Lacreole and Yamhill churches, and still later, the churches at Shiloh and Willamette Forks, (afterwards Eugene), and assisted in organizing the church at Oregon City; perhaps others. He also assisted in the organization of the Willamette Association in 1 848, and was a prominent member of it until his death. He was the missionary of the Association in 1848, at a salary of $200; December 1, 1848, and also August 1, 1850, the A. B. H. M. Society gave him a commission for one year, but local causes prevented his working under either. He was occasionally appointed to preach the "Introductory Sermon" at the Association, but his retiring modesty caused him to prefer others before himself, and he would usually force it upon his "alternate".
Brother Snelling received but very little compensation for his preaching. The brethren improved their farms and grew rich; he neglected his to "preach the unsearchable riches of Christ," and grew poorer and poorer, and left his family in very limited circumstances. This was too often the case with those devoted pastors. Usually they were not much "cumbered with this world's goods." As a worldly man once said, "I have noticed that your preachers, especially the enthusiastic, fanatical ones, are not good financiers." The reply was: "They ought not to be. God does not design it so; He gives them more important work." But it is downright dishonesty--robbing God--for brethren or churches not to give their pastors a comfortable support.
In preaching, Brother Snelling was earnest and practical, with considerable doctrinal tendencies. He had no excitement. His success, to a great extent lay in his great abundance of Scripture proof and his positive manner, from which there could be no appeal. A Methodist once said, "I like to hear Brother Snelling preach because he has so much Scripture;" Why, said he, waxing enthusiastic, "he is just chuck full of Scripture." The Willamette Association, in 1856, in its notice of his death, said; "He was a pioneer in the Baptist cause in Oregon; a strong pillar, and an active co-laborer for the cause of Christ." He traveled extensively on the coast, both in Oregon and California. His death was the first of any ordained Baptist minister in Oregon, and probably no minister since him has done more important and thorough work. All the churches he organized are alive today, and still contending for "the glorious Gospel of Christ," which he so delighted to preach. Truly we can say of him that he "died in the Lord and his works do follow him." Amongst all the old pioneer Baptists of Oregon and the Northwest coast, there is not one who does not delight to honor his memory .
4. REV. HEZEKIAH JOHNSON. 1845
Rev. Hezekiah Johnson was born of Baptist parents, in Maryland, March 6, 1799. His father was a minister and moved to Ohio about 1816, where Hezekiah professed religion and was baptized in 1825, and licensed in the August following. In December, 1826, he married Miss Eliza S. Harris; with whom he lived happily until his death; nearly 40 years. He was ordained in April, 1827. He preached in Highland and Ross counties, a part of the time traveling under the Ohio State Board, but finally settled as pastor at Old town, or old Chillcothe, which position he held for about seven years. He went to Iowa in 1838, and traveled for some time under the A. B. H. M. Society of New York. He was the first missionary of the first Association in Iowa, in 1839; and the first to preach before the Iowa Convention in 1842. In 1845 the A. B. H. M. Society sent Revs. H. Johnson and Ezra Fisher to Oregon; furnishing $400 for an outfit and paying each $200 a year as missionaries. In December 1845 he settled near Oregon City, and soon commenced preaching at private houses in outlying neighborhoods. But the church at Oregon City was not organized until July 4, 1847. None of the constituent members are living; Sister Johnson being the last to depart. She died December 30, 1878, being over 70 years of age.
Soon after the church organization Brother Johnson secured two lots in the northern part of the City, on which to build a meeting house. He cleared off the trees, erected a building 20x30 feet seated it with rough boards and with a little help did the work; thus was completed the first Baptist meetinghouse west of the Rocky mountains. The brethren worshipped in this house for nearly 27 years, when their present large and commodious house was erected. In the fall of 1848 Brother Johnson started a school in his meetinghouse, in charge of his niece; afterwards Rev. Ezra Fisher taught the school; and it ultimately culminated in the Oregon City University; this has been superseded by McMinnville College. Sometimes Brother Johnson traveled as a missionary evangelist; sometimes he served as a pastor. That is, he preached once or twice a month to two or more churches. His travels were quite extensive, and often laborious; sometimes on foot; sometimes astride of his "Cayuse." He said this was his best study and that his "happiest efforts" were wrought out on horse back. The demands of his family forbade much time for intellectual research. As matters were then, it was not necessary. His thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, backed by sound reason and a giant mind, made him a foe to be dreaded, even if he lacked classical culture or metaphysical training. He died August 28, 1866, of typhoid pneumonia. His health had been feeble for some time, and he could do but little for the cause he loved. He was subject to violent attacks of sick headache, and one of his lungs troubled him, and his strength began to fail in 1856. Of his death, the Willamette Association thus speaks:
"Resolved: That in the removal of our greatly beloved Elder Hezekiah Johnson, as Christians, we have lost a brother, faithful and true; the Bible an expounder earnest and able; the pulpit a preacher forcible and instructive; truth a defender bold and untiring; and the church a laborer, who in seeking its welfare, conferred not with flesh and blood, but toiled on amidst discouragements and hardships, never doubting her ultimate and glorious triumph."
Of his large family some died young. Hon. W. Cary Johnson, LL. D. is one of the prominent lawyers of the State; and also one of the most useful and active members of the Oregon City church. Rev. Franklin Johnson, D. D. is well known to the denomination. Miss Julia, afterwards Mrs. H. L. McNary, graduated in the Medical department of the Willamette University in 1878. She died January 2, 1890; till the last, a live, active, zealous Christian; earnest and exemplary; and noted for her works of love and benevolence.
There was nothing about Brother Johnson to attract special attention unless it was the unusual development of his causative organs. Religious charlatanism and titles were his abomination. In one of his published works he said: "I believe it to be contrary to the simplicity of the Christian religion to call any follower of Christ. D. D., Rev., etc. I believe such titles never would have been known if Popery and nothing like it never had been known. The schools can coin no better titles for ministers than those which the Scriptures give them." At an Association. he said: "I used to think a great deal of Brother Chandler till he got to be a D. D.; now I don't think near as much of him as I did." "I did not accept of the title," said Brother Chandler. "I take it all back! I take it all back!" said Brother Johnson. He published several papers and pamphlets in the furtherance of religion and reform, completing the last on his death bed. In several of these the slavery question entered largely. With both Brother Johnson and Brother Fisher, this was the question. Yet when Brother Fisher drew off from the denomination on this account in 1858, Brother Johnson refused to go with him, although fully as decided in his views. When asked "Why?" He answered: "If the devil gets into my house, I had rather fight him in doors than from the outside." His preaching was mostly extempore. In early life, it was practical; later, it was more doctrinal and denominational. In Iowa, he had some public debates; but none in Oregon. He would sometimes "be around" when some great man was to "use up the Baptists," and if of enough importance, he would soon after review the discourse in one of his own that would leave "our folks" in pretty good humor, and his adversaries but little to boast of. He was seldom attacked, as he was generally regarded as "a pretty tough case to handle." In advocating his views, or in opposing others, he was not always choice in his language, and sometimes cut close enough to hurt. In other words, he could be understood without consulting a dictionary. He could be rough and blunt. He never swerved nor flinched in the advance of principle. He would stand for what he believed to be God's truth, if he stood alone; he would fight what he considered to be error, if he had to fight single handed. Yet he did not go rashly into battle. He looked to results and was cautious in taking decided action on important matters, until he could perceive that the result promised to be for the advancement of the cause of Christ. Hence, though radical in some of his views he was seldom an extremist in action, unless everything was ripe for conquest. The management of Brother Johnson's domestic affairs was left mostly in the hands of his wife, and could not have been better managed. The wives of most of the pioneer preachers had to rear the family if their husbands gave much time to preaching. The absence of the husband much of the time, made it exceedingly hard for them. They lacked not only comforts, but necessities. Sister Johnson says they were often without tea, coffee, or sugar, to save a trifle for missions. Once for quite awhile they had only calico dresses, and every dress patched. One who knows, said that Brother Johnson often gave his time to the call of his brethren to preach Christ whilst his family went chilled and hungry! Nor was it his family only that endured such privations, that Christ might be preached.
Sister Johnson labored earnestly and continuously, in getting the sisters out to the female prayer meetings, and in other work in which her heart was interested. She was a worthy co-laborer; just the wife for a pioneer missionary. Her labors continued until the infirmities of age compelled her to desist. Her heart still clung to the work of the Master; for in a conversation just before her death, she showed that her zeal had not abated; neither had her love for the Savior diminished. The following, slightly abridged is taken from a sketch of her life by her son. (W. C. J.)
"For seven long weary months she patiently plodded her way cross mountains and plains, reaching Oregon City, December 7, 1845. Here she was the missionary, and the missionary's wife. With hands, head, and heart she labored, that her husband might preach the pure Gospel in the valleys and settlements of Oregon, until she died. In her humble way, she was the adviser and helper of sinners under conviction, the guide and instructor of the young convert; the companion and the associate of the experienced Christian; the help of the sick, and the comfort of the distressed and needy. In every way possible, her great desire was to do good and make the world better. Especially did she love to entertain the true ministers of the Gospel, and learn of them the progress of Christ's Kingdom on their fields. For several years she was laid aside for active labor, but she often said that she could pray to God for blessings on his cause, and for the conversion of her children, and this made her rejoice that she could live to pray. She had a vigorous mind, and was a good business woman, and labored hard to help her children and friends; but over it all towered her desire for Christ, and to honor God in her life and in her death. Almost her last inquiry the evening before she passed away, was about the sermon preached that day at church, and to know what success attended the labors of the State Missionary."
Her pastor, Rev. J. T. Huff, says of her:
"My acquaintance with Sister Johnson has been very pleasant. It was my privilege to serve as her pastor for over three years, all of which time she gave me great encouragement in my work. She had been confined to her room the most of the time for ten or fifteen years, and as she neared the close of life, she seemed to have lost sight of the world and never cared to talk of anything but the cause of Christ, especially that of foreign and domestic missions. These interests lay near her heart. Her death was a peaceful one. The text at her funeral was Psalms CXVI, 15."
This lengthy sketch of Sister Johnson is given, because the worthy wives of the pioneer workers, the whole-souled sisters who toiled, prayed, and endured hardships and privations, and who made sacrifices, perhaps exceeding those of their husbands, deserve to be thus noticed, remembered, and honored. Their willingness to give up their husbands for this work, their toils, and anxious cares in looking after the family affairs, to say nothing of self-denials, and heroic exertions for the cause of Christ, should certainly excite admiration. One of these devoted ministers once said: "I have many times left my home to go and preach for a month, with tears in my eyes, because I did not know what my family would have to live on till I got back. But somehow, God kept them." Does the reader say that he did wrong in this? That surely this was not required of him? God knows; not we. And if all these sisters are not noticed alike in this work, by giving them an extended sketch, it is because of the lack of available material. But the Savior will proclaim their quiet, unobtrusive labor for Him in that great day of rewards. Brother and Sister Johnson have gone, but "their works do follow them," and the blessed results of their self-sacrificing labors in Oregon are growing more and more visible; their full development will be manifest when the Master shall proclaim and say: "Well done, good and faithful servants."
And another son, Rev. Franklin Johnson, D. D., pays the following tribute to those first pioneers:
5. REV. EZRA FISHER. 1845
Rev. Ezra Fisher was born of Baptist parents at Kendall, Franklin County, Massachusets, January 6, 1800. Though a Baptist, his father was compelled to contribute to the support of the established church. His boyhood was spent on the farm, and he had common school advantages. He was converted at 18, and feeling his call to preach, decided to fit himself thoroughly for the work. Sickness and his straitened circumstances hindered him, but by a hard struggle, he graduated at Amherst College, January 19, 1830. He first preached at Cambridge, Vermont, then at Springfield in the same State. In less than two years he baptized eighty persons. He was married in 1830. For 13 years he was for the most of the time a missionary of A. B. H. M. Society, being first commissioned in 1832, and laboring at Indianapolis, Indiana, Quincy, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa. In Davenport he built the first Baptist church. He was president of the Iowa convention in 1844; he was at Quincy when Lovejoy was killed at Alton; but never wavered in his denunciation of Slavery. At Rock Island he baptized his oldest daughter. Early in 1845 he was commissioned by the Society for Astoria, Oregon, at a salary of $200 a year, and $400 provided for his outfit. He and Rev. H. Johnson started from St. Joseph, Missouri, May 20, 1846. At the very beginning of their journey their faith was tested. They refused to travel on Sunday unless it was necessary because of lack of grass, fuel, or water. All their companions left them, but others overtook them. Preaching services were held on Sunday whenever possible. And whilst all did not agree with them, they were much respected for their consistency. Of Brother Fisher, one of the company said, "He manifested more of the true spirit of Christ than any other man with whom I was acquainted." In their letters to the society they speak of the growing prospects of the country, their needs, and their zeal to labor in various ways as may be necessary. The Catholics were making strong efforts to obtain footholds. They also speak of difficulties and discouragement; enough to make ordinary men despond, but these had been anticipated, and were endured without murmuring or discontent, and in a spirit of rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to endure them for Christ's sake. Brother Fisher says, "It would have been too much for us to expect that we should have been thrown into the bosom of affectionate churches, who sympathize with a faithful ministry, and study to make his labors pleasant, as at the East; but we find that men do rejoice at the sound of the Gospel even here; and we feel strongly assured that the time is not far distant, when all the discouragement peculiar to a new country, and extremely fluctuating population will give place to the order and efficiency which the doctrine of Christ so forcibly inculcates. We are by no means discouraged, but on the whole have a growing conviction that we never were in a more responsible station; and we are often strengthened and encouraged by the reflection that we have the prayers and sympathies of many, very many Christian friends, especially when they bow together around the throne of our exalted Redeemer."
Brother Fisher spent the summer of 1846 on the Tualatin Plains, exploring the surrounding country, preaching every Sunday, and when at home, teaching a Sunday School of twenty-five pupils and five teachers. He had the satisfaction of the conversion of ten or twelve persons. He helped to organize the Yamhill church. In his letters he, affectingly alludes to the pioneer character and influence of a large portion of the settlers; of the heathen, in the midst of whose tribes they had migrated; the proximity to heathen islands in the Pacific Ocean and the opposite coast of Asia, and of the prospective benefits to result from increased immigration, and the classes of men desired, as reasons why the missions should be well sustained and strengthened.
In the fall of 1846, Elder Fisher moved to Astoria, and in 1847 to Clatsop Plains, as that place appeared more desirable as a base of operations.
In pressing his claims for aid, he said: "Imagine yourself and family in a new and isolated republic, surrounded by heathen and daily exposed to the influence and inconvenience of their examples, and at the same time Romanism uniting its influence with theirs to bring into disrepute the simplicity of the Gospel, while your coadjutors are few and weak. Under such circumstances would you not plead with unusual earnestness for help from those who, if they would, might afford it? "Yet" he adds, ''as sore as our privations, and numerous as our trials are here, we know of no field of Christian labor for which we have any desire to abandon Oregon. This is the field we have chosen; the field we will occupy while God may spare our unprofitable lives." Instead of being discouraged, they were impelled to greater exertions, with much to cheer them. A Sunday School had been formed, and wished for more missionaries to be sent to Oregon. The work on the Clatsop Plains was attended with a fair degree of success. The religious sentiment was good, unusual attention was manifest at the public worship, and a desire to maintain these things generally observable. There were some conversions of a very striking character, a church was organized, Brother James Bond was licensed and Brother Fisher commenced building a log house, to be used as a school house and a meeting house, finishing it in 1848-9. In writing about it he says:
"Perhaps this may appear to the Board an event too unimportant to be mentioned, but could they realize all the disadvantages we have hitherto experienced without the house, and, from their personal observation of things on the field, and understand the actual influence, they would view it as I do, a monument of the progress of civilization and religion within the sound of the deafening roar of the Pacific's mighty surges. May God graciously be pleased to make it a nursery of Science, a fountain of morals, and a birthplace of souls."
But the mission work was much disturbed by the Cayuse Indian war, as also by the sudden death of Brother Bond. Several members, with Brother Fisher, went to the California mines. Brother Fisher returned in about six months with $1200, and soon after moved to Oregon City. The church died. Meanwhile, Elder Johnson built his meeting house at Oregon City, and when Brother Fisher returned he took charge of Brother Johnson's school and taught it for two years. He and others also bought the ground for the Oregon City University.
The cause of temperance also received earnest attention, and quite early a public meeting was held at which every settler, except two or three, was present, and they signed a pledge to hold their persons and property in readiness to prevent the unlawful introduction of intoxicating drinks. They said that little was drunk except by the Indians and a few white men who were as regardless of principle as the savages. In 1847 the hearts of the brethren were cheered by the arrival of four new Baptist ministers, and they began to talk of organizing an Association. Bible classes and Sunday Schools were in successful operation. Bibles and tracts sent out the year before had been judiciously distributed, and such books and periodicals as they could command were circulated with obvious benefit. Prospects were brightening. Their health was good, and their hopes were buoyant. But the churches all suffered no small discouragement from the absence of many of their members rushing to the California gold mines; the work, however, made gradual progress, although there was no Association in 1849. Until late in the summer of 1852 Elder Fisher traveled mostly on foot; he bought a pony--"Dolly." After this he rode. Once Dolly threw him, and a rib was broken. His daughter says that "some months after, an Eastern paper printed this item of news: Rev. Ezra Fisher, of Oregon, while on his way to one of his appointments, was thrown from his carriage and one of his ribs was broken. All old pioneers know that there were very few carriages in Oregon at that time and those were not for the poor Baptist ministers who were supporting families of six or more on salaries of $200 or at the most $300 a year."
In 1851, Revs. G. C. Chandler and Jas. S. Read, under appointment of the A. B. H. M. Society , arrived to take charge of the school at Oregon City and in June, 1852, Elder Fisher was appointed exploring Agent for Oregon, by the Society, at $200 a year, which was afterwards increased to $400. He extended his visits to the Umpqua and Rogue river section every where laboring zealously for the cause of Christ. His wife died January 20, 1854, and the next summer he married Mrs. Amelia Millard, a most estimable lady of Oregon City. In 1855 he settled in Linn county. Whilst there he became dissatisfied with the denomination in Oregon on the Slavery question, and in 1858, he with a few others organized another church, which he called "The Church of God;" the peculiarities of which were, "Non-fellowship with slave traders, slave owners, slave advocates, or slave apologists." During his continuance with the denomination, he was the Moderator of the first Association, the first Convention, the first Ministerial Conference, and the first Council ever held by Baptists in Oregon. He was also Moderator of the Willamette Association in 1851, 52, 53, 54, and also in 1864; having returned to the denomination in 1863. He was also Moderator of the Corvallis Association, at its organization in 1856. In 1861 he bought a place and removed to The Dalles, but the hard winter of 1861-2 killed nearly all his cattle, in which the most of his means was invested. Although over sixty years of age, yet he worked hard on his place sixteen hours of the day, six days of the week, and then walked four miles on Sunday to The Dalles to preach. At length, he gathered a little church of sixteen members. In 1872 his flock had increased to 23, and then, on account of ill health, he sold his place and moved to California, stopping near San Diego. He was then over seventy years of age. When he left for California, Rev. Sterling Hill accepted the pastorate of The Dalles church. He stayed only a year. The church then urged Brother Fisher to return; which he did in May, 1873, and gave his entire time to the work. In the winter of 1873-74 he held a series of meetings, his special prayer being for another ingathering of souls before he was called to depart. There were sixteen additions; among them were C. M. Hill, now a pastor of a Baptist church in Oakland, California; and Rev. G. W. Hill, now a Baptist Missionary in Japan. He made strenuous efforts to build a meetinghouse, and he and Father Harmon purchased a lot for that purpose; but the church was too poor, and they failed to see their wish accomplished. He was elected County School Superintendent, which added to his duties and responsibilities; but he was full of energy, and always heeded the injunction that "Whatsoever his hands found to do, to do it with all his might." October 18, 1874, he preached his last sermon. During the week following, whilst away visiting schools, he was taken ill of inflammation of the lungs and typhoid pneumonia, and died November 1, 1874. His hopes were bright, and his faith unwavering until the last. By his will he left $200 for building the meetinghouse at The Dalles, and $300 to McMinnville college on the death of his widow.
In appearance and manner, Brother Fisher was quite different from Brother Johnson. The latter was of medium size and apparently robust. The former, tall and slender, and rather delicate in appearance, but there was a muscular toughness about him that enabled him to endure hardships fully equal to Brother Johnson. Possibly he may have paid more attention to the laws of health; Brother Johnson was not very careful in this respect. In preaching, Brother Fisher used a skeleton, and his sermons were largely practical. His delivery was easy, his language simple, and his manner pleasing. Both in preaching as well as in social intercourse, he was gifted with much suavity and winning ways; Brother Johnson was more rough and blunt. But if principle was at issue, Brother Fisher was as firm and unyielding as Brother Johnson; only he had a pleasanter way of expressing his views. Brother Fisher rather excelled in evangelistic work; Brother Johnson in the pastorate; yet both were good at either. Brother Fisher was especially good at adapting himself to circumstances. Like Paul, he could "be all things to all men, that he might by all means save some." If a sound, scholarly, evangelistic discourse was wanted, Brother Fisher was the man; if an adversary was to be met, or if a preacher was wanted who could strike a telling blow, Brother Johnson was always the first choice. Yet when the adoption of the Oregon State Constitution was under consideration Brother Fisher made a magnificent fight against the introduction of slavery as a part of it, and rejoiced in seeing Oregon proclaimed a "free" State.
Brother Fisher's first wife was a pleasant lady, whose ways and manners at once inspired confidence and respect. She entered heartily into the work of her husband, and was truly a helpmeet to him in all his labor. His last wife was not a whit behind the other. Both were truly beloved mothers in Israel, and both endured great cares, trials, sacrifices. and hard work for the advancement of the Redeemer's cause in Oregon. The last wife was born in Morrisville, N. Y., July 18, 1802, and was nearly one hundred years old at the time of her death. For eighty-four years she had been a faithful member of the church. She crossed the Plains in 1861, and followed teaching until her marriage to Brother Fisher. After his death, she lived with her son-in-law, Mr. James Elkins, near Albany, Oregon. She died November 29, 1899. She was beloved by all for her many kind and noble ways. She was very industrious, very intelligent, and a strong advocate of the principles of the W. C. T. U. Her noble life was spent in usefulness, both to herself and neighbors, and her good works will live as a testimonial of her goodness. She was constant in her attendance at worship until within the last few months of her life. Feeble in body, yet bright in mind, and full of love for the Savior she had served so long and faithfully, she departed.
6. DEACON TOLBERT CARTER. 1846
Deacon Tolbert Carter was born in Morgan County, Illinois, March 6,1825; lived there until 1841, when he came to Holt County, Missouri, his parents dying the following year. He and his brother remained on the farm until he was twenty-one, when, in 1846, he and his youngest brother came to Oregon by the Southern route. "'Some of his stories about that journey, were most thrilling, and it is doubtful if any company, suffered more hardships and privations than this one in exploring this new route; unless it was the Donner party to California, the same year. On the trip, a cousin of his died on the Humbolt, leaving a wife and two children, which Tolbert brought through into the valley. He settled in the northern part of Benton County, where he lived until his death from dysentery, October 3, 1899. He was a representative in the State Legislature in 1872, and in 1878; and joint senator in 1893, and always had the full confidence of his constituents.
He and his wife were both baptized into the Corvallis church soon after its organization, by Rev. Dr. Hill, in 1851. Both were zealous, active, working members. She was the daughter of a Methodist preacher, and both were young, and full of energy and life. In 1853, Brother Carter was licensed, but his labors in that line were mostly confined to his own locality. In 1856, when the Corvallis church divided, he went with the North Palestine brethren, and was soon after made a deacon. The North Palestine church had several good, active, working members, but they needed a leader, a director; and Brother Carter was the man. By his wise management, and judicious watch care, he kept the church alive through several severe crises which threatened its distruction. (sic) He was the chief energetic worker and contributor for the substantial meeting-house of his church. He was always busy; always for the best interests of Zion; not only at home, but the denominational work of the Baptists of Oregon. He nearly always kept up a flourishing Sunday School of from 50 to 100 pupils. He was a liberal and hearty supporter of McMinnville college; in fact, had something to do with every good work that came in his way. As a man in his family, as a neighbor and a citizen, as a friend, as a church member, as a Christian brother, in a public or in a private capacity, a superior man to Brother Carter would be very hard to find; and his family, his neighbors, his friends, his church, his denomination, Christians, and all the general community who knew him, unite in doing honor to his memory.
7. REV. WILLIAM PORTER. 1847
Rev. William Porter was a quiet, unassuming man, one of those who do a great deal of good without much ado. As a good brother once expressed it, "He didn't toot his own horn, but let the brethren toot it for him!" The result was, that whilst he did not always "draw a crowd," he always had a good congregation, because he was universally respected and beloved, and every one would go to hear "Nobody but Daddy Porter" preach.
He was born in Erie County, Pa., May 3, 1803. His ancestry were all Pedobaptists, with several ministers, lawyers, and farmers among them. He had good common school advantages, was a close student at home, and in his early days taught considerably. He experienced religion and united with the Mill Creek Baptist church in Delaware county, Ohio, in 1837; was licensed, and in 1838, ordained to preach by this church, He preached for that church and the adjoining country until 1847, when he came to Oregon and settled on the West Tualatin Plain. In Oregon he preached mostly for the West Union and the West Tualatin (Forest Grove) churches. He did not believe in a fixed salary, and the brethren sometimes paid him as much as $100 a year. He rarely went far from home, his field being within the radius of 20 or 30 miles. He seldom took notes or papers into the pulpit, as he held that "the Spirit furnished the matter;" but he was a close reader, with an excellent memory, hence, his discourses were able. He took two or three of the best Baptist Periodicals, among them the Quarterly Review; preserved them carefully, and marked many places for reference. He had a small, but choice library of the best Authors, and kept himself well posted as to the results of the latest religious research. Without being controversial or dogmatic, he was firm in his views, and in the chimney corner would argue, but he had a moderate estimate of his own abilities. When at an Association, or other meeting, he always took a back seat, and seemed to delight in seeing others honored. In preaching, his style was easy, and his language correct and pertinent. With a line of thought plainly perceptible, and always such as appealed to the reason as well as to the emotions. He preferred the pastorate, and loved to work face to face with men. He was no modern wonder-worker, catching the crowd with sensational sermons, yet his earnest words carried conviction, because he talked as if he had to account for every utterance. His converts were numerous. He was conservative, and always deprecated extremes unless as a last resort. In love he would contend for the faith, but was emphatically a peace-maker, and never met abuse with retort. He was regarded as a wise counselor, and his unpretending advice often had more weight than vehement and energetic words. Striving to imitate the Great Teacher in 'going about and doing good,' he was a careful steady worker, always laboring, and often showing surprising results. His memory is held in affectionate remembrance by the church which he nurtured and fed for so many years, and it is doubtful if any later man who has served it has produced better, or more permanent work for the Lord Jesus. He died at his farm, November 28, 1872. The Willamette Association showed their appreciation of his work by earnest and expressive testimonials.
8. REV. RICHARD MILLER. 1847
Probably no man of the early Baptists of Oregon was more highly esteemed than Father Miller. He was by birth a Virginian; born in Greenbrier county but taken to Missouri when a boy. Being one of a large family, the country new, and his father poor, his school advantages were inferior; but he improved every opportunity to inform himself. His people were all Methodists. In early life he was an Atheist, and commenced preparing a book on the contradictions of the Bible; but concluded to revise it and scratch out what seemed to be wrong, He scratched so much that he reexamined the whole subject, and this led to his conversion about 1830, when he united with a Freewill Baptist church in Cole county, and was by them licensed. But he afterwards united with the Bee Creek Baptist church in Platte county, and in 1838 was ordained. He traveled and preached in various parts of Missouri until 1847, when he came to Oregon and settled not far from where the Yamhill meeting-house now stands. Here he tilled his farm and traveled and preached as circumstances permitted. His wife died in 1863; in 1878 he followed her "across the River."
Brother Miller was an itinerant preacher; sought his own field; usually outside of any church; and there proclaimed the story of the Cross. His sermons were altogether extempore; doctrinal and practical, with earnest appeals to the unconverted. His feeble health interfered much with his preaching. for nearly half his life. He was seldom entirely free from pain. Yet he occupied his time in studying God's word, and in conversing on religious subjects, and according to his strength improved his opportunity. His great desire was to see God's cause prosper. He continued to preach after he was too feeble to stand, and sat in a chair as he told the story of the Cross. He was the sheriff of Cole county, Mo., and also filled some minor offices. He helped organize the Willamette Association in 1848. In his early ministry he was much opposed to paying preachers, and would boast that he had preached for little or no compensation; he was also strongly anti-missionary. But later in life he changed his views; and urged that churches should support their pastors, and that the work of missions is the work of God. He would contend earnestly for his faith, but if he found that he was wrong, he was equally as ready and frank in acknowledging the wrong, and in contending for what he had previously opposed. According to his opportunities, few men were better able to defend their faith than he. All his children now living are Baptists, following joyfully in the footsteps of their beloved father, and striving for the same incorruptible inheritance.
9. DEACON JAMES M. FULKERSON. 1847
Although preaching is unquestionably the direct agency of our Lord Jesus Christ in the spreading of His gospel, yet, if the church be kept alive and efficient, a great deal of arduous labor devolves on the membership, and a few usually guide and direct the body. Especially was this the case in Oregon when preachers were few and churches weak and widely scattered. And these leaders; these able workers, these co-laborers with the ministry in planting the banners of the cross on this coast certainly deserve a passing notice for the trials, labors, and sacrifices they cheerfully made for the cause of Christ.
Prominent among these stands Deacon James M. Fulkerson and his wife "Aunt Katy." Like Brother David T. Lenox, he was a natural leader. With very poor educational advantages, his inherent energy, and careful study, supplied the deficiency, until he was a man of unusual intelligence, which, with his keen perceptions, good sense, and clear foresight, set him forward as one whom it was safe to trust. Hence, both in Missouri and in Oregon he was a county judge, and a member of the Legislature. He was also a member of the Constitutional Convention of Missouri in 1845-6, and filled several minor offices in Oregon; in all commanding the respect and confidence of the community .He was born of Baptist parentage in Lee County, Virginia, August 28, 1803. His father moved to Missouri in 1817; he experienced religion in 1823, and was baptized in 1830 by Rev. David Alley into the Sardis Baptist church in Cole County, and soon after made a deacon. He came to Oregon in 1847, and settled in Polk County where he made his home during his life. His long and tedious journey across the Plains was made sad by the death of his beloved wife, who was buried near Green River, July 14, 1847. He had a large family, but married again in 1848. His last wife, "Aunt Katy," crossed the Plains in 1846 by the "Southern Route." On the road she buried her oldest son and his wife, leaving a young babe on her hands to care for; afterwards, two grown daughters died; and her husband also before she reached the settlements. From one of her daughters, Leland Creek (now called Graves' Creek) was named, she being buried there. Aunt Katy did not arrive until late December, and her next son died the next spring. She was very kind and in every way useful in sickness, and a great help to Brother Fulkerson.
On his arrival Brother Fulkerson identified himself with the Lacreole church, where his influence was soon felt, and in 1852, it gave him a license. His preaching was mostly as a supply in various parts of the Willamette valley, and very acceptable to the brethren and the community. His home was always a "Free Baptist Hotel," and he and "Aunt Katy" never appeared better pleased than when enjoying the visits of passing brethren. Such were more than welcome. He was one of the constituent members of the Willamette Association in 1848, and considered an Associational "stand-by" at nearly every session afterwards. He was one of the incorporators of McMinnville college, and for years a member of the Board of Trustees He never neglected the duties of his positions. He was without pride or ostentation, and always introduced religion into his conversation; this was his most delightful theme. He never had an unkind word about anyone; his mild, gentle, godly manner won the love of all. His counsel was often sought, and his advice had great influence. He acted consistently; popularity had very little weight with him. Was it right? Did it accord with God's Word? These were the questions. And every member had to be hewn to these lines and be gauged to this plummet. Having decided, he would not waver. He was true and steadfast in his attachments and friendships. If satisfied that his confidence was not misplaced, calumny and detraction only made him the more firm and adhering. In this he was tested, and he encouraged and sustained some in sore trials and great afflictions, when a kind word was exceedingly precious, and one could indeed realize and appreciate what a true friend means. More than one had cause to remember his sympathizing words when their souls were in deep water. He and a few others like him will have a beloved place in many recollections; He was the stay, the support, the strong pillar of the Lacreole church, as well as a decided help to other churches. The brethren were glad for him to visit them, as his presence was a tower of strength. With Revs. Snelling, Fisher, Johnson, R. C. Hill, and afterwards with Revs. C. C. Riley, Hubbard, and others, he was their "right hand man;" an efficient aid in their work. His aid, sympathy, and prayers were sure in whatever his heart approved. In June, 1882, he was stricken with paralysis, but lingered with much suffering until May 31, 1884. He bore his sufferings patiently, his faith remaining firm to the last. He died victorious; both the church and the community felt that they had sustained a loss hard to fill. Aunt Katy followed a few short months afterwards, declaring that she saw the shining ones and her beloved husband awaiting her "across the River." They lie side by side in the cemetery near the church that they adorned with their presence and encouraged and cheered with their words of love and strength. May the Lacreole church long stand as a monument of their zeal and love.
10. DEACON JAMES S. HOLMAN. 1847
Deacon James Sanders Holman, of the Baptist church at Dallas, was another pioneer Baptist, whose delight was to do the work of the Lord. He was one of the Aarons to sustain, or hold up the hands of the ministry, or to watch over the flock when no minister could be had. In matters of dispute, he always strove to present the things "that make for peace." He was known as a peacemaker. Like Brother J. M. Fulkerson, he was a self-made man, not having early opportunities for improvement. But by application he overcame much of this difficulty. He served three terms and a half as sheriff of his county, and two terms in the Legislature. In all, he won public confidence.
He was of Baptist descent; born in Tennessee in 1813; moved to Missouri in 1827; married in 1832. He came to Oregon in 1847, and settled in Polk county, where he lived until he died January 14, 1880. His wife has since followed him. He professed religion in 1829, and was baptized in Missouri. He was a deacon, both in Missouri and in Oregon. He was one of the constituent members of the Willamette Association in 1848; one of the incorporators of McMinnville college; for years a member of its Board of Trustees; in 1851 was chairman of the first Baptist Educational Society on the Pacific coast, and was one of the strong friends of educational effort. Whilst his health allowed, he was almost always a messenger to the Association, and was ever ready to give his sympathies, his prayers, and his money for its support. His soundness in doctrine, his earnest appeals, and his common sense, gave strength to his church, and confidence and assurance to those who labored for it. Plain and unpretending in his manner, conservative in his views, wise and prudent in his counsels, loving in his disposition, consistent in his walk, consecrated in his worship, honorable and upright in all his intercourse, a delight in his family, a noble example in his community, a shining light in his church, and a pattern in his denomination, it is no wonder that he lived beloved and honored, and died regretted. His last end was triumphantly glorious, for his refuge did not fail him. To use his own expression, he was "going home. Jesus was with him all the time." Of his children, one has served his county as sheriff; another, Rev. Preston Holman was a most acceptable Baptist minister. All are honored and respected, for they are following in the footsteps of their worthy parents, who taught them that their first duty was to fear God and obey the injunctions of the Savior.
11. DEACON JOSEPH HUNSAKER, 1847
The year 1847 appears to have been prolific in the arrival of strong, energetic, uncompromising Baptists. Not the eloquent preacher, nor the keen logical debater, but the firm, trusting, unyielding one, who would persistently hold fast, and contend for "the faith once delivered to the Saints."
Doubtless God sent them here. Some believe that God specially directs the movements of His children. "For the hairs of your head are all numbered." And God, seeing the need of strong men, sent them. Their special work they did well, for God helped them. When Brother Hunsaker came to Oregon there were but five Baptist ministers on this entire northern coast, counting the two who came that year; and only one more until the fall of 1851. Three or four little churches, numbering half a dozen new members or so, each, struggling for existence, and a few Baptists scattered over the Territory. Whilst the ministers were going to and fro to gather up these scattered sheep, the churches endured hard work; they needed strong men to hold and lead them till they could have an under-shepherd. And here is where such men as Hunsaker, Holman, Fulkerson, Harlow, Cyrus, Leever, Rice, H. N. Hill, Claiborne Hill, Driskill, Lloyd, Myers, Warren, the Smiths, Pruetts, the Millers, Latourette, Failing, Williams, Lenox, Matlock, and many others found their work; these heroes of the cross, none of whom were ordained ministers, but all were able; who, with their noble wives, (for the sisters often did as much as their husbands), nobly and valiantly battled for the Master's cause.
Deacon Joseph Hunsaker was of Scotch descent, born in Kentucky in 1799, but came to Oregon from Missouri, and was a thorough, out-spoken Baptist. For years, he and Deacon Absalom Cornelius, with their wives, were the support of the Shiloh Baptist church. They labored to organize the little body, and bravely tried to keep it alive. Their faith was tried to the utmost. To say nothing of minor troubles, in 1854, their pastor proved recreant; a wolf in sheep's clothing. Then, when this matter was disposed of, and the church began to recuperate, a veteran deacon, who had stood shoulder to shoulder with Brother Hunsaker, lapsed into spiritualism. This was the hardest blow of all. It almost seemed as if the Lord permitted Satan to pour out his fiercest vials of wrath on the devoted little band in order to test their faith. The church dwindled, and many expected it to become extinct. But Father Hunsaker and his wife and the little band held the fort. Firmly and persistently with all the despairing energy and earnestness of a death struggle, they toiled, and prayed, and called on the Lord of Sabaoth for help, and their cries were heard and answered; The little church was saved. But just as the first glimmerings of light began to dawn, the Savior whom they had trusted and " loved so long, said to them, "Your labor is done; Enter into your rest." First she, who was indeed a mother in Israel, with half a county for mourners, such was her worth. And a little after, Brother Hunsaker followed to rejoice with her in the presence of their beloved Lord, but as they went, their mantle fell on their son, who has built up that church anew; and labored all over the coast as a successful missionary, whose "praise is in all the churches," for he has been instrumental during the last 40 years, as much as any man among us, in bringing souls to Christ. That little church has since had its vicissitudes; its trials and its triumphs; but it has never passed a darker period, nor one which more severely tried its faith and patience. A biography is unnecessary to show that Brother Hunsaker was truly a man of God, and that he did good work in planting the Cross on these distant shores. Yet a peculiarity or two may not be amiss. Amiability, or that kindness of disposition which is attractive, is a characteristic of the family. To love one another is their delight. Many a young man, a stranger in a strange land, was made to feel that this family was like his own; that Sister Hunsaker was nearly like a mother to him; a counselor, a friend, They were ever ready to help those in need; they never turned a deaf ear to distress. Nay, they anticipated, and the relief came before the cry. Many incidents of this, as well as incidents showing their anxiety for the prosperity and growth of the church could be given, but space forbids. The entire community had the utmost confidence in Brother Hunsaker. Once quite an improbable story was being told. A red-hot infidel, one who "neither feared God, nor regarded man," stoutly denied it. "But Mr. So-and-So says it is true"--"I don't believe a word of it!"--"But Mr. Hunsaker says it is so." --"Uncle Joe?"--"Yes,"--"W ell, it is no use to talk then. If Uncle Joe Hunsaker says it's so, it's so, and no mistake." His religion was a living religion; and so was that of his wife. It showed itself in their every day walk; in all that they said or did; not in loud professions, but in quiet, loving action. Their godly walk, their desire to honor their Savior in every thing was plainly manifest. T o them, more than to any other, does Shiloh church owe its strength and prosperity in later years.
12. DEACON J. H. PRUETT. 1847
Deacon J. H. Pruett was born in Kentucky, February 2, 1820. When quite young his father moved to Ray, County, Missouri, settling near Richmond. He professed religion at the age of 23, and with his wife was baptized into the Baptist church at Richmond by Rev. A. P. Williams, about the last of December, 1843. In 1847 he crossed the Plains to Oregon, and settled about three miles from where Gervais now is, where he resided until his death, except a short time at McMinnville while educating his children. He and his wife were constituent members of the French Prairie church; he was chosen a deacon. He was a Baptist of the primitive stamp, and his aim was to be a consistent, faithful, active Christian. His wife was truly a deacon's companion in every sense of the word, and was ever ready for any Christian work within her power. The family altar was erected early, and never neglected, and the Bible was a daily study. His home was always a place of welcome to the pioneer ministers and others. His son says: "Father never let a stranger pass if he needed rest or food, and he always interrogated him in regard to his soul's salvation. If he found him to be a follower of Jesus, a Christian interview was the result; If a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel, he was earnestly exhorted to flee from the wrath to come." Sister Pruett was called home March 5, 1865. Her death was calm, quiet, hopeful. Sixteen and a half months later, the husband and father was also summoned to the mansions on high. He died in the triumphs of a living faith. Of his children, Rev. W. H. Pruett is one of the most efficient Baptist missionaries of Eastern Oregon. Dr. J. H. Pruett, of Pendleton, and Dr. J. A. Pruett, of West Fall Brook, California, are active, wide awake Christians, filling honored positions in society. The two daughters are also live Christian workers. Considering the careful Christian training of the children, these results are no more than might have been expected.
13. HON. ROBERT CROUCH KINNEY. 1847
Hon. R. C. Kinney, noted as one of the patrons of McMinnville College, was born of Baptist ancestry, in Illinois, in 1813. He moved to Muscatine, Iowa, in 1838, and to Oregon in 1847. He had only common school advantages, but he had a natural business talent, and was very successful, engaging in large enterprises, by which he became wealthy. He was kind to the poor, just in his dealings, liberal to all. For a time, financially, he nearly carried the church at Salem, and gave it the parsonage adjoining its other property. He stood a firm friend to McMinnville College, and helped the institution through many trying times by generous gifts. He professed religion in Illinois, in 1833. He was a member of the Iowa Constitutional Convention; of the Oregon Territorial Legislature; and of the Constitutional Convention of Oregon. He married in ear1y life, and had an unusually pleasant family, all of whom are Baptists. He died at Salem, March 2, 1875. All business was suspended; the court-house was in mourning; and state officials wept at his funeral As a sample of his generosity when death was near, his son, Dr. Kinney, was summoned at midnight to a distant town; the night was dark and stormy, and the son was reluctant to leave his father. But the father said. "He may be some poor man who cannot pay you, but you must not let him suffer." He once proposed that if the Central Association would put a missionary in the field to preach in the destitute portions of the field, he would put another missionary in the field and keep him there as long as the Association would keep their man in the field. His heart was in this work, and without any show or parade he delighted in God's work, being always ready at every call that was for the advancement of the Redeemer's Kingdom.
14. REV. REUBEN DICKENS. 1848
If the good that men accomplish were measured by their intellectual ability the results would often fall short of the actual truth. Especially would this be the case with some of the preaching in the early days of Oregon. It has been said that a sermon without a fault never accomplished much good. Often the illiterate man, full of faith and love for souls will move his congregation as no other can. His zeal, his spirituality , and his earnestness will accomplish a work that is wonderful, though his grammar be murdered, and rules violated in the delivery.
One of these common, uncultivated men is the subject of this sketch. Rev. Reuben Dickens was born of Baptist parents in Virginia, in 1799, and grew up with no school or educational advantages; acquiring what little he possessed after he was grown. He professed religion in 1830, in Missouri, and there being no Baptist church near, he united with the Methodists, but insisted on being immersed. He afterwards united with a Baptist church and was baptized. He came to Oregon in 1848, and seeing the scarcity of Baptist ministers, the vastness of the fields, and the many calls for the words of Eternal Life, with none to offer them, his soul burned within him. and weak, and feeble, and ignorant as he felt himself to be, he at once began to tell from his own experience the story of Redeeming love. In 1860 he was ordained by the Pleasant Valley Baptist church, in Linn county. He was the pastor of that church for seven years, and of the French Prairie church for four years. Excepting these, he traveled at his own expense, preaching in destitute places. He always had a companion; usually Rev. Joab Powell, believing the Scriptural plan was to "go two and two". He delighted in this kind of work, and gave himself almost wholly to it until the infirmities of age compelled him to desist. He died September 3, 1878, and his wife died in May, 1879, both stricken in years. His children are all Baptists, and living in Oregon and Washington. As has been said, Brother Dickens was a man of little education, but his zeal, and earnest desire to win souls for Christ, to labor patiently in His service, won for him respect and confidence; while possibly, others, more highly endowed than he, would have failed to accomplish the good that crowned his efforts. He literally gave himself to the cause he loved.
15. DEACON L. D. C. LATOURETTE. 1848
One of the main supporters, a steady help, a strong man, ready and earnest for any good work undertaken by the Oregon City church, or by the denomination at large, Deacon L. D. C. Latourette stands prominent and conspicuous. In 1851 he was a pleasant, agreeable young man of principle and solid worth; one safe to trust. And from that time until his death in 1886, this opinion of his character or excellency had not changed, unless it was to increased confidence and trust. Brother Latourette was born of Baptist parents at Lodi, N. Y., in 1825. He had a fair education. He professed religion in 1839, and came to Oregon in 1848, taught a term of school at Forest Grove, made a successful trip to the California gold mines then returned to Oregon City. For a short time he engaged in the mercantile business, but in 1851, bought and settled on his farm near the town, and lived there until his death. He was twice married. His first wife died in 1864. His second wife is still living. Of his children, Rev. W. H. Latourette is the traveling agent of McMinnville college; Deacon D. C. Latourette stands high as a business man in Oregon City, a strong man in the church, and superintendent in the Sunday School. Deacon Latourette was one of the reliable helps of the Baptist cause, especially at Oregon City, when labor and sacrifice were in great demand. God had blessed him with a judicious foresight, so that his business was usually successful, and he acquired wealth. All he regarded as consecrated to the Savior's cause. He was only a steward to account to God for his talent for his money making. He was prudent and careful, and watchful, yet the cry of the poor, the distress of the widow, the just demands of the laborer; all these found a ready listener, and a cheerful response from him. At the time of his death he was the oldest living member of the Oregon City church. It was chiefly through his liberality that their large and commodious house was built (the 2nd house) costing about $5000. He and Brother W. C. Johnson, and one or two others, for a long time nearly supported the pastor. He was an active Sunday School worker. All the denominational enterprises received his hearty and cordial support. He was a live, energetic Christian everywhere. He was a worker, and always desired to have a part wherever good was to be accomplished. His home was a house of prayer and praise, and whatever might be said of others, no one doubted the religion of Brother Latourette. He was thrown from a wagon by a runaway team, and his foot nearly torn off at the ankle joint. Gangrene set in and he died in a few days. But he was not unprepared. His death was peaceful, and his hope triumphant.
16. REV. RICHMOND CHEADLE. 1849
Rev. Richmond Cheadle was born in Morgan county, Ohio, in 1801. His father was a ruling Elder in the Presbyterian church. He had fair educational advantages; experienced religion about 1829; joined the Methodists, and was by them licensed; moved to Michigan in 1836; became a Baptist and united with a Baptist church at Monroe City, Ohio, in 1837; and was ordained in 1839. He preached in various places in Ohio and Michigan until 1843, when he moved to Iowa, and preached in different places, and traveled awhile as a Colporteur for the A. B. P. Society. He was also a Colporteur of the Society in Oregon.
He came to Oregon in 1849 and settled in Linn county, where he lived until he died, October 30, 1875. He helped organize the Santiam church and was its pastor for some time. He also organized some other churches and was active in helping the young churches to struggle along; preaching for them about once a month; mostly at his own charges. In his services he was methodical, sedate, dignified, especially in the pulpit, but in the chimney corner he forgot his august style and was genial and sociable. His carefully studied, and sometimes written sermons were mostly doctrinal, and well calculated to instruct; to build up and establish more than to excite enthusiasm. Hence by some he was not so highly appreciated as were other preachers with more "fire;" or, as one brother expressed it, "who had more religion and less doctrine!" forgetting that all true doctrine is religion, and that a church needs to be well instructed, or ground in the faith if it would have stability. But Brother Cheadle was a patient man, and plodded-along, not weary in well doing, even if the results were not visible at once, and he was well liked, and was highly respected, if not quite so popular as some others.
About 1856, he became dissatisfied with the Baptists of Oregon, anal asked for a letter of dismission to unite with the Congregationalists. The church referred the matter to the Willamette Association for advice, and the conclusion was that it "was inconsistent, and not in accordance with Baptist policy to give a letter to another denomination." Brother Cheadle, fearing to wound feelings by speaking bluntly, did not clearly define his trouble, but Rev. G. C. Chandler probably hit it very closely, by saying: "Brethren, my opinion is, that Brother Cheadle's trouble is, that Oregon is not New England." In other words, Brother Cheadle, with his strong Presbyterian rearing, particularly in regard to Sabbath observance, and the restraint of children, could not endure the careless ways of many of our early Baptists in this respect. These evils are probably incidental to all new countries, and great looseness is often painfully apparent to such as have been accustomed to a different training. And Brother Cheadle not being able to bring the brethren to his way of doing, nor of going to theirs, a collision was inevitable, until time and faithful teaching could correct the evil and harmonize the discord. But Brother Cheadle thought this impracticable, and went to the Congregationalists. Yet the old pioneer Baptists love to look back to the days when he labored faithfully among them, and love to respect his memory.
17. REV. W. S. WILMOT, M. D. 1850
Rev. W. S. Wilmot, M. D., was born in Kentucky in 1808. In his boyhood he embraced Christ and united with the M. E. Church, where he remained, until, after a careful study of the subject of baptism and church polity, he was convinced of the correctness of Baptist views on these subjects, and publicly confessed them in 1829, being baptized by Rev. J. M, Pendleton. In 1841, with his widowed mother and family he moved to Missouri, and practiced medicine until he moved to Oregon in 1850. He settled in Marion County and was connected with the Shiloh church for about twenty years. In 1859 he was ordained to the ministry. In 1870 he moved to Washington Territory. He spent some twelve years there and in Idaho, preaching as much as he was able, but much time was spent in writing a book entitled, "The Chromos; Five Books in One;" a kind of church history; but lack of means prevented its publication. In 1882, his afflictions forced him to seek a quiet home, and he moved to his brother's at Beaverton, Oregon. During the last months of his life he suffered greatly from some disease of the stomach, yet bore his sufferings day and night with patient resignation. F or seven months the only rest he had was on his knees with his body across a lounge, in which position he fell asleep in Jesus. During these weeks of wearisome days and nights he did not fail to impress every one who visited him, that he knew in whom he believed. To this sketch, abridged from one written for The Baptist Beacon, by Rev. A. J. Hunsaker, a few words are added:
"Dr. Wilmot was an active, earnest, devoted Christian. Although not ordained until 1859, he had been licensed some years previously, and had consecrated himself to the service of Christ. Nothing appeared to delight him more than to be at work for the Master. He was at all times one of the mainstays of the Shiloh church until his removal. During its deep trials and struggles, he, with a few others, stood side by side with Father Hunsaker, to keep up and sustain the apparently sinking cause. He could always be counted as one of the faithful ones. In early life, he was said to have been a very successful physician, but practiced little in Oregon, beyond a chance prescription for some special friend, and these were without charge. He was well read, and understood his business, but "didn't want to be bothered with it." His whole heart was with his Savior and with His people, and there he wished to labor. As a pulpit speaker he was not a success. He was sound, thorough, and sometimes deep, but his delivery was poor. He could write ably, but another could read his product better than he could himself. All respected him, and he usually had fair audiences, because he always gave food for thought and suggested ideas that would bear study and investigation."
He never married. It was said that an early trouble had effected (sic) his brain, but none ever knew. He had some queer idiosyncrasies; some liked him; everyone respected him; everyone laughed at him; and at times, every one was more or less annoyed by him. But he was always welcomed, and if anyone was ailing, or the children "out of sorts," he usually soon set things to rights; and all recognized him as one who, in his quiet way, helped to do a great deal of good to our feeble Baptist churches in Oregon.
18. DEACON GEORGE P. NEWELL. 1850
Among the early Baptists of Oregon, George P. Newell was the "Sweet Singer in Israel". True, there were many most excellent singers with us, but "Professor Newell" taught music. He made that his chief business the most of his life, at least after he came to Oregon; and he made it his special business wherever he went, to have good music in the church. Whether in vocal or instrumental music, he was "at home." But he was equally as zealous in other church matters. He was a live, wide-awake Christian, and "so far as within him lay," was always ready for any good work. For fifteen years he was one of the efficient deacons of the Oregon City church. At every place where he lived in Oregon he made an influence felt for good. He was one of those men who could claim no land as his birthplace, being born at sea in 1810. His mother was a Baptist; his father an Episcopalian. He was converted at Bradford. England, and united with the Baptist church at that place. He had a Grammar School Education, including Latin and French. He afterwards came to America, and was ordained a deacon by the Baptist church at Kalamazoo, Michigan. He was one of the first trustees of Kalamazoo college. He came to Oregon in 1850, and for three years was the Government surveyor and Inspector of Customs at Pacific City. Otherwise than that, he taught music, and labored to help build up the feeble churches. At church, his seat was never vacant except from sickness. At the prayer and conference meetings, his voice gave no uncertain sound. At the Associations, his speech was ever for Gospel truths and the rights of humanity. He was generous to a fault, and whilst lenient towards the errors of brethren, he would not deviate a particle from his own standard of Christian faith or Christian obligation. He ever tried to have influence for God, and all his words and action to tend in that direction. He died, rejoicing in Christ, November 13, 1886.
19. REV. GEORGE C. CHANDLER. D. D. 1851
Among the thoroughly educated men, men highly qualified to occupy any position, and rapidly rise to distinction, but who "forsook all," and left refined and cultured homes to "patiently travel" across a continent, to plant the standard of the Cross in an "unformed wilderness" none perhaps on the NorthPacific coast stand higher than George C. Chandler. Rev. Ezra Fisher may stand by his side, as well as Revs. Snelling and Johnson, who, though not so well educated, nor so thoroughly trained, nor highly gifted, yet, "In labors abundant, in journeying often, in weariness, in watching often in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, and in care of the churches," may well stand as his peers, with some later ones; all together forming a noble band of sacrificing, laboring brethren, who reflect honor on any age or country.
Rev. George C. Chandler was born of Baptist parents at Chester, Vermont, March 19, 1807. He was a farmers boy, and his early education, the common schools, and the academy of his native town. In that humble school house, he "first resolved to give his whole life work to Christ." He experienced religion in 1825, and was baptized into the Springfield Baptist church by Rev. R. M. Ely, and on May 31, 1829, that church gave him a license, signed by Rev. Ezra Fisher, then its pastor, and afterwards a fellow laborer with him in Oregon. He was ordained by the same church, September 5, 1838; and his old pastor, Rev. R. M. Ely, immediately after the ordination, performed the marriage ceremony between the new preacher and Miss Persis W. Heald, of Chester; thus doubly blessing him, as his wife proved to be indeed a true helpmeet to him in arduous labors of an active life. She is now living at Forest Grove, Oregon; her face furrowed by the hand of time, yet radiant with the memories of earth, and the light of heaven sheds brightness and peace all about her. Among the fellow members with Brother Chandler in this same Springfield church in 1831, were Rev. Z. C. Graves, LL. D., President of Mary Sharpe College, at Winchester, Tennessee, and Rev. Philander Taylor , of Freedom, Ill., who has baptized nearly 1000 converts; and in 1834, Rev. J. R. Graves, LL. D., Editor of the Tennessee Baptist. Indeed, that church appears to have been prolific of young converts, many of whom afterwards rose to great prominence in the denomination. Brother Chandler attended the school at Hamilton, N. Y., and although in the class of 1835, he did not graduate, as he left it some time before the Commencement to attend the Newton Theological Institute, where he graduated in 1838. He received his degree of A. M. from Columbia College, N. Y., in 1844; and his degree of D. D. from Franklin College, Indiana, in 1853. Soon after graduation he was ordained, married and moved to Indiana, where his preaching really commenced. Mrs. Chandler tells how, and why, they went to the "Far West."
"Mr. Chandler did not come out to Indiana under appointment of any society, but we came, (means being furnished by our parents,) by the invitation of two brethren belonging to the small church at Terre Haute. The invitation was sent to the Principal of the Newton Theological Institution, just before Mr . Chandler graduated, and the only offer or promise made by them or anyone else was, that any young minister from that institution, who would come out and preach for them should have his board for one year. With no more for earthly encouragement, we started out at our own expense, and arrived at Terre Haute in 1838, with two or three dollars left in our pockets."
But the Brethren also boarded Mrs. Chandler, she teaching a school. Here was faith, trust, and a willingness to give up all for Christ. Coming to Indiana in 1838, with only the canal boat and the stage coach, and the probable lack of comforts and conveniences after arrival was a vastly more serious matter than coming to Oregon is today; but now we rejoice to know that owing to the transcontinental lines of railroads, and also to the great improvement in the circumstances of brethren, our missionaries can come in comfort, and if worthy men, by the aid of the A. B. H. M. Society with a reasonably good prospect of a fair salary until their churches become self-supporting. These times of danger, rough usage and privations, are as a rule, things of the past. In 1839 Brother Chandler accepted the pastorate of the First Baptist Church, of Indianapolis, where he remained for four years, at a salary of from $300 to $400 a year. He was then chosen president of Franklin College, Indiana, where he remained until 1850. Among his students was Rev. J. S. Reed who came with him to Oregon, and Rev. C. W. Reese, A. M., who afterward labored long and well for the Baptist cause in Oregon and Washington. Rev. D. J. Pierce. D. D., describes an incident in Brother Chandler's labors in Indianapolis:
"Henry Ward Beecher, then the youthful pastor of the Presbyterian church, was his intimate friend, and in a somewhat humorous but highly commendatory letter dated January 12, 1876, thus remembers an incident of their pastoral relations. Brother Chandler and I were good friends, and when, as the fruits of a general revival, there were a number of persons of the Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist churches to be immersed, it was agreed that the service should be a joint one. Rev. Mr. Goode, (Methodist), Chandler, (Baptist), and myself (Presbyterian), repaired to the bank of White River, on south border of Indianapolis where 3000 people were assembled. The day was fine. The western sun threw the shadow of the trees upon the river. It was good-naturedly agreed among us, that as immersion was distinctively a Baptist method of the ordinance, Brother Chandler should take charge of the general service, and go down with his candidates first. Accordingly he selected and gave out the hymn, (it was the wettest kind of a Baptist hymn). Brother Goode and I waded through the hymn as best we could, and as one of the deepest stanzas was given out, I saw Chandler look smilingly out of one corner of his eye at me to see how I relished it. But I sang every word and so did Goode. Brother Chandler was much esteemed by Christians of all churches. Commend me to him with affectionate remembrance. Truly yours, "HENRY WARD BEECHER."
Mrs. Chandler says that Mr. Beecher's memory was at fault. Mr. Chandler declined, and the others baptized their candidates first.
In response to the urgings of Rev. Ezra Fisher, Brother Chandler came to Oregon in 1851, his expenses being partly paid by the A. B. H. M. Society, and in part by Rev. J, S. Read, one of his pupils at Franklin, just graduated and who came with him. He expected to take charge of the college at Oregon City, but the effort there was premature, and although a large building had been erected and partially completed, and a liberal donation of land secured near the city, yet after a short struggle, it was abandoned, and Brother Chandler settled on a "claim" about twelve miles distant, making a living from his farm, and preaching for the feeble churches in the destitute places of Oregon. For several years, his circuit reached some sixty miles from home. He had regular appointments at Oregon City, French Prairie, Santiam, and Shiloh churches, besides occasional appointments at Molalla Prairie, and other destitute points; sometimes he walked as much as fifteen miles to an appointment; sometimes in peril from unbridged, swoolen (sic) streams, but always meeting the scattered few who met in log school houses to hear the Word of God. He assisted in the building of respectable meetinghouses at Oregon City, Portland, Salem, Amity and Eugene. He met first with the Willamette Association in 1852, and the impressions he made on that body were lasting. In April, 1858, he was called to take charge of McMinnville college and was its first President. He also preached at Amity and at other places in the vicinity, whilst in charge of the school. He taught at Oregon City, McMinnville and Portland about seven years; and for a time a private school at his own place. The balance of his time until he was stricken with paralysis in 1874, was devoted to the churches and to the cause of Christ generally; preaching constantly as the providence of God seemed to direct, much of the time with little compensation. He was pastor at Amity for fourteen years. At that place, and at Oregon City were his longest pastorates in Oregon, but he urged all his churches to support their pastors so that they could devote themselves wholly to the work. After his first year in Oregon he was not aided by the A. B. H. M. Society until 1872, when he was appointed to work in Washington county with Forest Grove as head quarters. He never would fix his own salary for preaching; the church had to do that; but when, after careful consideration, the church had fixed the price, he wanted it; but did not always realize his expectations He never refused a church because his salary was small if in his power to serve it. He once said, "If twenty-five cents is all the church can pay, I'll preach for it all I can, but I want my twenty-five cents." He contended for the principle of paying pastors, and not for the money.
Among his pupils during the three years and a half at McMinnville, and who have made their mark are Revs. C. P. Bailey, J. B. Foster, Preston Holman, E. K. Chandler, D. D., Franklin Johnson, D. D., Hon. W. Lair Hill, A. W. Kinney and his brothers, Hon. T. H. Brents. Brethren Chandler and Johnson went East; the others, so far as known have lived on this coast. On the Plains, he was the same earnest, consistent Christian he was ever after. Every old Oregonian knows that the genuineness of every man's religion was tested there. The most of his company were Baptists. They stopped every Sunday, and Revs. Chandler or Read preached, until they reached Green river, when some of the company becoming impatient, pulled away; but all got through in good time.
On his field in Washington county he found the remnants of three Baptist churches without pastor or leader; also other points demanding attention; more than one man could give, and his burden was heavy. About the close of his second year on this field, Rev. Ezra Fisher, at The Dalles, was called to his reward, and on being asked to fill his place, Brother Chandler said "Yes, I have followed Brother Fisher all my life, and I shall soon follow him over the river." He preached his first sermon, and his last, November 22, 1874, from the text, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." His divisions were, ( 1) The Christian's ability; (2) The Source of his Ability. One who heard him, says, "It was grand; it seemed almost as if he brought the strength of heaven to us." After the sermon he talked a little to the Sunday School, and sat down to wait for the closing exercises. Whilst they were singing, "We are watching on the shore," he dropped his book. No special importance was attached to it, supposing he dozed. But he was paralyzed, and speechless. He never spoke again, though he lived afterward a little over six years, cared for by loving hands. He could communicate only by signs. He was patient, enjoying the visits of friends, and especially that of young friends who would come and sing for him. He died January 19, 1881. At his funeral, the pastors of the different churches in the place were present, and his pastor, Rev. E. Russ, preached the sermon, from John XVII, 21.
To speak in a general way; in the language of another: "He did not make friends as rapidly as some, but when he made a friend he seldom lost one." As a preacher, he was far above the average in ability. His points were always well taken, his arguments clear and conclusive. He never failed to interest his congregations; he seldom took manuscript in the pulpit. His voice was clear, and often mingled emotional with the doctrinal. He was a minute man, that is he began and closed on time. He once said, "I will begin the services on time if I have none but the Lord to talk to; and will close the services when I am through, if one-half the congregation is just coming in." Yet he sometimes had a written sermon, and usually had rather a full skeleton; he combined the doctrinal, the practical, and the earnest appeal; often, all in the same discourse. In managing difficulties, some of his peculiarities were very prominent. First; if necessary to speak against anyone he always strictly confined himself to the point at issue. No side issues were allowed . Secondly; if forced to speak against another, he would always manage to say something complimentary about the offender. He would tell as little of the evil, and as much of the good as possible. Not that he would condone a serious offense, but the good must be told and have its weight. And thirdly; in his own troubles, when a matter was settled, it was never even hinted at by way of reproach; further he was ever ready to do a kindness to one who had offended him. He said he once found it hard to love an enemy, but by the Grace of God, he had learned the lesson. For years he was moderator of the Willamette Association, and often chairman of leading committees, and Rev. D. J. Pierce, D. D., says of him, "He never sought prominence, but followed a free policy of bringing other workers into the more prominent fields, while he pushed into the wilderness for new conquests." And the Willamette Association in 1881 , says:
"In every position in life which he was called to fill, he showed himself a man of God; strong in his convictions of truth; devoted to every interest of his cause; ardent in his zeal for the Master's service; tender, and faithful, and true, in all Christian sympathy and love. His large natural ability and liberal culture every where commanded recognition and respect, and bore fruit in the large efficiency of his service, both as an educator and preacher. Since God has taken him to his rest, his memory lingers among us as a benediction and an inspiration."
And his pastor, Rev. E. Russ, thus speaks of him:
"His love for the cause and the service of God was strong and abiding. No labor was too arduous, no sacrifice too great for him to attempt. He gladly counted all but loss for Christ. His confidence in the truth and promise of God never wavered. His manner of presenting truth was clear, forcible, and often original. The Gospel, to him, was a glorious reality; hence his preaching was no uncertain sound. He loved the lineage of Christ wherever he saw it. Missions, both home and foreign, had a large place in his affections and plans. After paralysis had silenced his tongue and caused him to lose interest in many things, his interest in the cause he loved so well did not falter. His aid to missions was continued. His favorite songs, among which was 'Beyond the smiling and weeping I shall be soon,' sung by loving friends, continued to shed a balm on his stricken heart, and send forth tears of joy from its ever flowing fountain. Though qualified for the highest stations in life, his great sympathy for the poor, and his deep humility led him to the lowly and neglected. Though he is now in glory, yet he lived and long will live in the memory and affections of loving hearts that have been strengthened by his presence and guided by his counsel. Thus a noble life has left its radiance on the cause of truth, while another attraction is added to our eternal home. Though we mourn our loss, yet we do rejoice in his eternal gain. At his funeral a large congregation attested their great respect for him, and their sympathy for the broken circle, whilst prayers ascended from many hearts that the circle might be restored in a better world."
An incident or two showing his devotion and energy will close this sketch. At one time, one of his ankles was covered with boils and he could not bear his foot to the floor, such was the pain. He had an appointment 26 miles distant and the only way for him to go was on horseback. He took an old, gentle horse, slow and sure footed, mounted him, got his sore foot on the horn of the saddle and in this way rode to his church; had to be helped off his horse and into the house; and sat with his foot on the desk before him and preached to his congregation! And this against the protest of his family, and to a church paying him less than $100 a year for once a month preaching.
Many other loving traits of Brother Chandler could be given as the results of several years of intimate acquaintance, but the limits of this work forbid. But it would not be just to close this sketch without a few words relative to the sharer of his cares, anxieties, labors, and sacrifices, along life's journey; to wit, Sister Chandler. From the day when, just married, she made her "bridal tour" to the wilds of the "Far West," to assist her devoted husband in spreading the tidings of the Cross; down to the present, sister Persis W. Chandler has been same, (sic) patient, kind, sympathetic, earnest worker for the glory of Him whom she served. Wherever duty called Brother Chandler, uncomplaining, and with glad footsteps, she went, though the way was thorny, and the path rough. Wherever hardships, or sacrifices, or privations were required for the Master's cause, these, she was willing, nay anxious to share. She cheered, encouraged, and assisted her husband in his labors as only a woman can whose soul is in her husband's work. Her soothing tenderness did all that could be done to smooth his speechless pathway during the long years of that terrible affliction which closed his life. And of her it can be truly said that her husband blessed her and children honored her. She was one of the best nurses that ever sat by a sick bed. She always seemed to know just what to do, and how to do it. Many have witnessed her ministrations in their families when there was much darkness. Wherever there was distress, or sickness, or suffering within her reach, she was there. She lived for others. This was finely illustrated on the Plains, where usually selfishness predominated. A man in the company lost his wife, leaving him three or four small children; among them a young babe. Mrs. Chandler, although having enough of her own to care for, took the motherless one and cared for it, until, in a few weeks, the poor suffering waif, followed its mother. And all her acts of kindness are done so gently, and so unostentatiously that she makes one feel almost that she is hurt if the aid is not accepted. And this she does for Jesus' sake. She loves to do for Him and His cause. She is quiet, unassuming, retiring, and not seeking public notoriety; an earnest, consistent Christian worker. And wherever God indicates a field, there she is willing to labor with all her might. Not physically stout, but small and rather delicate, yet, by her system and winning ways, she has accomplished a vast amount of good. She appears to regard it as her work to do all the good she can, to relieve all the distress possible, to win all the souls to Christ that opportunity permits, and to show in her daily life the preciousness of Christ to one who trusts and relies wholly on Him. Rev. H. L. Boardman, in 1899 thus speaks of her on the eighty-fifth anniversary of her birth.
"She carries the burden of years with remarkable ease and grace. She retains the use of her faculties in an unusual degree of efficiency. Her mind seems as keen and clear as when, fifty years ago, she came a pioneer to this western wilderness. Her face, furrowed by the hand of time, yet radiant with the memories of earth and the light of heaven, sheds brightness and peace all about her. She is rich in reminiscences of the early days of trial and sacrifice as she stood by the side of her sainted husband, battling for the Lord on the advance skirmish line of His army in the West. An hour of conversation with this sweet old saint, so young in spirit and heart, is an inspiration and blessing to any young disciple endeavoring to do for Christ in these later days of lessening difficulties and large accomplishments. May the Lord gently lead this saintly soul down the decline of this earthly life and grant her a sunset time all bright with the glory of the life heavenly ."
20. REV. REUBEN COLEMAN HILL, M. D. 1851
Rev. Reuben Coleman Hill, M. D., was born of Baptist parents in Cumberland, now Russell county, Kentucky, March 27, 1808. In advanced age, his father was licensed. He obtained a fair education, both common and medical, mostly by his own exertions. He was married in 1833 to Margaret C. Lair, a woman who proved to be a blessing to him, and well suited for his diversified labors. He professed religion in 1833, being baptized by his uncle, Rev. Elijah Hanks, into the Knob creek church, in Maury county, Tennessee. He was ordained a deacon in 1836, and in 1844 was licensed but for a time, preached little, though he thought his efforts were blessed with some conversions. But some good revival meetings, and the voice of his church crowded him forward, and he was ordained in 1846. The same year he moved near Keetsville, Barry county, Missouri, where his labors were very successful; his journal stating that he organized a church of eight members which in two years grew to about one hundred. The doctor says, "The church at Keetsville received several Campbellites, and Methodists, and Presbyterians, all of whom I baptized, irrespective of their previous baptism." He also preached at Springfield, Mo., and Lafayette, Arkansas, where he witnessed some rich revivals.
In 1850 he came to California, preaching to emigrants on the road every Sunday, and located at Mud Springs, and commenced preaching on the first Sabbath using the shade of a large tree for a tent. When the rainy season set in, a building was secured for the services. There were several professors but Rev. G. W. Warmouth, who was one of them, says their stay was too uncertain to justify an organization. "The town left as soon as the diggings were exhausted," and the professors of religion were also scattered. Dr. Hill came to Corvallis, (then Marysville), in Benton county, Oregon, in 1851, and preached the first Baptist sermon in that place, and also the first Baptist sermon in Albany. He finally located in Albany, Linn county, and taught the first school there. He preached on Sundays the most of the time, either at Albany, or at Corvallis, or in the country. On December 25, 1851, he and Rev. James lsaacs, also lately arrived, organized a Baptist church of three members at Marysville, (or Corvallis). At the same meeting three united by letter, and three by baptisms. During the ensuing year nine were baptized, five received by experience, and several by letter. He also visited the churches at Shiloh and Lacreole, protracting the meetings at the latter place, resulting in six conversions, and a revival of the church. In 1852 he went back for his family, returning in 1853, and settled on a claim in Benton county, about three miles from Albany. He preached for the church in Corvallis until 1856, when the church divided to allow those north of a certain line to organize the North Palestine church, of which he was pastor for several years. In 1867 it reported one hundred sixteen members, but about sixty-five came from the Corvallis church.
In 1854 he organized the Good Hope church, near Albany, but in 1867, he, with other brethren, organized the first Baptist church of Albany. He was pastor of this church for several years, increasing its membership from ten to eighty-three. In 1856 at the Willamette Association, he had a heated discussion on the mission work, of which mention is made in another place. He was Moderator of the Central Association for twelve years. Being a physician, he had comparatively little time to prepare sermons; often being all night with the sick. He said he often went into the pulpit with a prayer to God to give him a message, and he never failed him. Sometimes he had to depend entirely on God; then, having delivered his message, he went from the church to the sick room, not taking time to eat; thus doctoring both soul and body.
His preaching was mostly doctrinal, closing with a practical application which was often emotional. He usually spoke extempore, though on controverted points, he would sometimes use a few notes. He read standard authors closely, but seldom made direct quotations. He was a fluent speaker, held his audience to his subject and generally had good congregations. As a minister he stood very high with those who knew him best. He would often state his points to be proven before making his argument. He was a fair revivalist, a good counselor, always seeking peace, conservative, where many would disagree, but would defend his own principles if conscience was at stake. He was a successful physician. He was familiar with the scriptures and his intellectual ability was considerably above the average. He had a good foresight and could very closely predict results.
He tells of some very interesting baptisms during his ministry. He had had some experiences with sick and deformed persons. Of such he said: "These taken from sick beds and baptized, suffered no inconvenience or relapse, but rejoiced in God, having peace of conscience in the performance of duty." Again he says: "I have baptized six entire households, with not a baby in them." "One sister, 72 years old, who had been a member of the M. E. Church for more than 50 years." After the doctor was 70 years old he baptized a brother 74 years old. In 1867 he baptized his own wife, who had not previously made a profession of religion, and as she came up out of the water, she recited the 23rd Psalm with telling effect. Of his children six are Baptists, three non-professors. He baptized nine who became ministers of the Gospel. He thinks he baptized in all about one thousand persons. He was a man of deep convictions in all things, always loyal to the truth as he understood it, yet charitable towards those who differed from him. As a physician, it is said that he always had a word for the Savior at every professional call. He was a member of the Territorial Legislature for two terms; drew up the charter of McMinnville College, and from the time of its incorporation until his death, was one of the Board of Trustees. In 1870 he was made the financial agent of the college, and in two years raised for an endowment, in cash and pledges, some $24,000, but some of the notes were not solvent. He also was one of the committee to secure the property, and he helped pay the heavy debt of 1860; his share being $384. On his salary as agent he took four scholarships in the institution at $500 each: three of these for the benefit of poor ministers, or of ministers families. He was a life director in the American Bible Union; a life member of the A. B. H. M. Society, and also of the Oregon Baptist State Convention; and a member of various other religious and benevolent societies. He was a frequent and welcome visitor to other associations. His labors for McMinnville college were the last of his active work. "His declining years were characterized by patient and cheerful waiting for the triumphal entrance upon his reward. His strong constitution gradually gave way to advancing years, but his mental energy held out remarkably until his last sickness." He died December 31, 1890. His wife had already "gone before." She died August 28, 1890.
For deep permanent work on this northwest coast, that of Revs. Vincent Snelling, Ezra Fisher, Hezekiah Johnson, George C. Chandler, and R. C. Hill ranks with the first in importance. They all crossed the "Plains" by what was then called "The Ox Express;" Elder Snelling and Dr. Hill "at their own charges;" the others were aided more or less by the A. B. H. M. Society. They were emphatically the Baptist pioneer ministers of the North Pacific coast. Later men did good work, grand work, noble work; possibly they may have organized more churches, or baptized more converts; but these men, with their co-laborers laid the foundations of Baptist strength here, and they were well laid. They appeared to have been specially adapted to this field, and to the circumstances, and God undoubtedly called them for this special work. Their monuments today are the living, prosperous churches which they first organized, or built up with such anxious care, through faith and earnest prayer, with trials, privations, and sacrifices, such as none but a few of the old pioneers who still survive can realize or appreciate. They had faults and peculiarities, as have the best of men, but their memory is precious notwithstanding. Some few of the older Baptists know these things, for they also were in the conflict, and they today delight to go back in memory and rehearse the things that God wrought through them. They delight to honor the faithful old heroes of the Cross, and to hold them up as models for later generations to imitate in faith, and zeal, and trust in God.
21. REV. WILLIAM SPERRY. 1851
Rev. William Sperry was a native of Kentucky, born of Baptist parents in 1811. He always lived on the frontier, and had very few educational advantages, his wife taught him to read after they were married. Yet he became a man of fair qualifications, well read. and a close student. He probably had a library as well selected as that of any of our preachers in Oregon, unless it was that of Rev. G. C. Chandler. And it was for study, and not for show. His father moved to Ohio in 1815. He married in 1829, professed religion in 1835, and was baptized into the Solady Creek Baptist church, in Lawrence county, Ohio. Soon after his conversion he was licensed. He moved to Iowa in 1840, and was ordained by the Bethel church in Van Buren county. Here he preached and planted several churches, and was the means of many conversions. He labored under the A. B. H. M. Society a year in Iowa, and also for nearly a year was the missionary of the Willamette Association in Oregon. He preferred the pastorate.
He came to Oregon in 1851 and settled near Brownsville, where he lived until his death, May 10, 1857. One of his sons, Rev. C. C. Sperry, followed in his father's footsteps, and is an efficient worker. His children are scattered over the Pacific coast; all Baptists. Some of them have filled important civil positions; all with honor and credit. Brother Sperry was an earnest, pleasant speaker, having great power seemingly in prayer, often holding revival meetings, or assisting others in doing so. He had a ready command of language, usually preached extempore, and his sermons partook largely of the spiritual. He was not noisy nor demonstrative, could hold his audience, and though plain spoken, rarely gave offense. He had the full confidence of every one. He was a good pastor and extended his appointments some twenty-five miles distant. He was the pastor of the Pleasant Butte church from its organization until his last sickness; and all loved him. He was one of the pillars of the church and it prospered under his ministrations. He contributed liberally for all its work and left money in his will for its building. In fact, his family, and two or three others almost built its first meeting house and nearly carried the church for several years; His death was peaceful, for he was fully prepared. Both the Willamette and the Corvallis Associations noticed his death by appropriate reports and his loss was severely felt by the entire denomination. His widow, who had always been a true helper for him, earnest, loving, consecrated and active in the Savior's cause; married again. and with her second husband, was as zealous as ever until her death in 1885.
22. DEACON LUCIUS W. PHELPS. 1851
Among the many strong members of the First Baptist church of Corvallis as well as a zealous pioneer worker, none deserves more honorable mention than Deacon L. W. Phelps. He was born of Baptist parents in Hebron. N. H., in 1807. He had a fair education, and when young, taught some; was careful and systematic; and was a man of strong decision of character. He experienced religion in 1830; he and his wife both being baptized at the same time. In 1851 he came to Oregon and settled in Linn county, but in 1887 moved to Newport, on the Yaquina Bay, where he died, January 12, 1887. Soon after coming to Oregon, he united with the Corvallis church, and for several years was its clerk and deacon. He filled several offices of trust in his native town; was a member of the Council in the Territorial Legislature of Oregon; and also filled several minor offices afterwards. He was a strong pillar of the Corvallis church, and could be relied on under all circumstances. Prudent and careful in counsel, exact and methodical in business, the church could trust him without hesitation, and with seldom a demur. He aimed at correctness in all church work, mourned at the carelessness and looseness often displayed, and as far as possible, tried to correct the evils resulting therefrom. He was thoroughly posted in denominational polity and forms, and therefore could be depended on in cases of doubt. His family relations were pleasant; his influence in the community was good; his friendships were many and warm; and his loss was deeply felt wherever he was known.
23. DEACON MAHLON H. HARLOW. 1851
Deacon Mahlon H. Harlow, one of the constituent members and main pillars of the Eugene church, and an active worker in those days when workers were few, was born in Berrian county, Kentucky, January 8, 1811. He experienced religion in Missouri in 1833, but did not make a public confession until 1840, when he united with the Washington Baptist church in Trenton, Missouri. He came to Oregon in 1851, soon hunted up a few Baptists and not long after the Willamette Forks (now Eugene) church was organized in his own house. The next summer, the church ordained him a deacon. He was ever after a sure help, a never-failing advocate and assistant of all true Gospel work, either at Eugene or Springfield, each but a short distance from his home, until the infirmities of age interfered very much with his activities.
He had eight children, all Baptists; some very active workers. One daughter Miss Mima Harlow, for several years was the secretary of the W. B. F. M. society for the Corvallis Association, and has created a great interest for that work all over her field. She is an earnest, active, wide-awake woman, a pleasant speaker, and being very persistent in her labors, she has become one of the most efficient workers of the organization.
Deacon Harlow was one of the early settlers in Lane county, being the first county clerk. But he was also a faithful soldier of Christ, fighting manfully, giving himself heart and soul, to the building up of our Baptist cause in Oregon. Activity was his prominent trait. Whatever he felt to be his duty had to be done; and he had a true and willing helpmeet by his side to aid him in all his trials. The Bible was his guide and when he found a truth he was firm and resolute in its defense, believing it thoroughly. Though slow of speech, he was usually ready to tell of the goodness of God in the conference meeting, or the Covenant meeting. His convictions were deep and hard to change. He was very gentle and kind to his family; loved children and made them feel that he was their friend. He was liberal and benevolent with the poor and needy; had a host of friends and was "given to hospitality," especially to God's people, whom he and his family always tried to make "feel at home." His Christian life counted over four score, during which as he said, he "shined as a light in a dark place." He died in February, 1895, from a stroke of paralysis, and was about 85 years of age.
last. His work on earth is ended. God has taken him to Himself. We hope his example will stimulate each of us to more faithfulness, more searching of heart to find out what Christ would have us do, and to do it with all our might, that it may truthfully be said of each of us, (as it can be said of Brother Failing), "He has done what he could."
1 In regard to the question so often disputed, that D. T. Lenox's daughters Mary and Elizabeth were the first to receive baptism at the hands of a Baptist minister in Oregon, the writer concludes, after a careful examination of the evidence, that Rev. Vincent Snelling did baptize the above named in 1845. They were very fittingly the first baptisms in our denomination on the Pacific Coast. (See Archives of McMinnville College).