Second Period Lights and Shadows. From 1856 to 1866 Ten Years I. CHURCHES
IN 1856 to 1857, the Willamette Association was divided into three; (1) The Willamette, with ten churches, 202 members, five ministers, and one licentiate; (2) The Corvallis, with seven churches, 188 members, nine ministers, and one licentiate; (3) The Central, with ten churches, 429 members, seven ministers, and three licentiates. Each Association had organized one new church. As a convenience, the division was a benefit, for the old Association covered too much territory. Otherwise, it was a wise movement and a positive necessity, because the slavery question and the Civil war issues were assuming very threatening aspects, and extremists sometimes caused alarm by signs portending a terrible conflict between our Baptist brotherhood which would certainly sunder the Baptist denomination in Oregon for years at least, unless something could be done to avoid the calamity. In this movement, the wisdom of which no one questioned, the Willamette Association took the most of the anti-slavery element, and by Reports or Resolutions gave full expression to their sentiments. The others, claiming to be more conservative, said nothing by public expression. In 1858, Rev. Ezra Fisher withdrew from the denomination and organized a church on an anti-slavery basis, calling it "The Church of God." He took some valuable members, but no church. Also, in 1863, the Umpqua Association was organized on an openly avowed anti-slavery platform, but it was too feeble to exert much influence during this period. At the same time, the divisions and secessions were a blessing to the other churches, by removing dangerous elements, and thus leaving the other churches more free for their legitimate work. Ultimately, these later dissentients all came back to the denomination, and the Umpqua Association terminated. Yet all over the State there was much excitement, and it was extremely difficult for some of the churches to maintain their autonomy. Some churches, and some Associations severed their correspondence, and some churches would not allow certain preachers to occupy their pulpits, and this was indeed a troublous period. But it is not necessary to go further into details. Time and Christian love have long since healed the breaches and brought the Christians together.
Still some minor matters occasionally disturbed the current of Christian activity for a little time in some localities. Feet-washing ruffled the surface in a few churches of the Corvallis and the Central Associations. The Secret Society question caused some sensation in two or three churches of the Willamette Association. The reception of an "alien immersion" would sometimes raise a slight breeze in a church; and a discussion of some phase of the "Landmark Question" was one of the best inventions ever devised to wake up sleepy brethren in an Association. But any or all of these incidental matters, beyond a chance individual or two, caused no breach of fellowship; further than a little flurry at the time, brethren were generally indifferent; not considering them of enough importance to be called disturbances. But with the dark clouds we had also encouragement. We had the lights as well as the shadows. The most of the preachers of the first period, both ordained and licensed, remained, and four of the latter were ordained. Then thirteen new ministers came from "The States;" live, wide awake, active, zealous, earnest workers; just the men we needed and wanted. Several were young, only two past the prime of life, and these two made up in zeal and experience what they lacked in physical strength. And we licensed twenty-seven more, and five of these were ordained during the period. Among those who became active and prominent in later life were Franklin Johnson, of Oregon City, and E. K. Chandler, of Yamhill. During the period the churches had built nine meeting houses, worth $29,200, seating 2275; so that now we had fifteen meeting houses, worth $35,400, seating 3675; and with no aid except as we aided each other.
To come to the individual churches. Full items of all would be largely repetition; a few general facts, with mention of special matters worthy of notice is sufficient. Although the most of the churches were from ten to twenty miles apart, and many of them farther, it was no uncommon thing for them to visit each other, sometimes in a body, and sometimes individually, and right welcome they always were. About once a year, each church tried to have a protracted meeting, at which two or three ministers, and perhaps a dozen other active brethren were expected to be present, and often glorious revivals resulted; from ten or twelve, to twenty, thirty, fifty, or more converts. With nearly all the churches, missionary work at and near home was made very prominent; urgings for activity along these lines were frequent in the letters to the Associations. The Yamhill church made a strong effort to release Brother Chandler for this work for his entire time, pledging $400, those subscribing agreeing to make up any deficiency in the payments. This effort was partially successful. The Oregon City church had a mission station a few miles out where Brother Chandler received members for the church.
Alluding to those early days, Rev. Cyrenius H. Walker thus speaks of the fearless manner of Johnson and Fisher in preaching:
"Truly it can be said of these men, and others of the early missionaries, 'They were giants in those days, veritable Pauls, who feared not to proclaim the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ."
The Shiloh church during this period was mostly kept up by Rev. W. S. Wilmot and Dr. Hill. Of Brother Wilmot it was said that he "determined to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified." The church said its "desire was to be a co-laborer with others for a wider diffusion of primitive Christianity, and the elevation of practical piety among us; that the Redeemer's Kingdom may be built up, and that we may be as lights to the world." It said that it had done little for home or foreign missions, because it felt that means that could be raised for supplying the destitution should be expended at home, at least "until we are better supplied with a pure ministry." It had a mission station at Jefferson, about six miles distant where Rev. Joab Powell held meetings with good results. In July, 1864, it met a severe loss in the death of Sister Elizabeth G. Hunsaker, truly, "A Mother in Israel." Her consistent Christian walk, and exceeding amiability of character, had endeared her to the entire community and she was also one of the mainstays to the little church. Probably the death of no other person would have been so deeply lamented. But the Savior called, and she went rejoicing. The church had such a hard time to live that some were discussing the advisability of disbanding, but wiser counsels prevailed. The prospects brightened, and in its letter to the Association the church said:
"Pardon us if we allude to a subject that lies near our hearts; that of sustaining at least two efficient ministers in domestic missionary work, whose exclusive business shall be, not school teaching, not following the plow, nor peddling pills, not writing or delivering political addresses, but to preach the word, to talk to dying man of his lost condition, and to tell him of the fountain that is opened for sin and uncleanness; to go forth determined to know nothing before the people but Christ and Him crucified. We can sustain at least two such men, and why not do it? For we have expressly declared the object of this Association to be the promotion of the Redeemer's Kingdom, especially in Oregon."
The Providence church had three ordained ministers, and three or four licentiates among its membership, and with one as pastor, tried to keep the others employed within its bounds, at some mission station or Sunday School.
It strove to occupy the entire forks of the Santiam river; a vast area. In addition, in 1859 it bought a house and gave it to Rev. C. C. Riley, and employed him as a missionary for this field, and kept him up for two or three years. The church grew and prospered until it was the largest Baptist church, numerically, in the Territory; numbering 400 or more. It would allow other denominations to preach in its house, but would not allow them to organize their churches there. It kept up, fostered, and encouraged Bible classes, Sunday Schools, and social prayer meetings, with Rev. J. G. Berkley as leader. These auxiliaries to the churches were kept up by nearly all the churches during the summer, but in the stormy winters brethren were too much scattered, outside of the towns, to have them regularly. Rev. Joab Powell or Rev. J. D. South were kept out as general itinerants, one or the other, the most of the time.
The Pilgrims Home and the Palestine churches were also particularly active in missionary work, especially in circulating and collecting subscriptions. The most of this work was done by lay members, the deacons usually directing. Such was the custom in the most of the churches. The fields were so large and the ministers so few, that this was necessarily so, and all the members possible were crowded into the work. And interest being excited the most of them worked willingly, and growth followed. We had a noble host of consecrated brethren and sisters who loved the work and pushed it forward with zeal and determination as if realizing its importance, and their responsibilities.
But there were some drawbacks; some serious interruptions. The death of Deacon L. A. Rice was a severe loss to the Table Rock church. He was one of the constituent members of that church; able, willing, active, always ready for any good work; a main stand-by, a strong pillar of the church, a help every way. He was County Judge for two years, and died July 4, 1863. Deacon J. H. Pruett, one of the most spiritual, devoted, consecrated men of the denomination at that time, was a most serious loss to the French Prairie church. He died in 1886. Rev. Hezekiah Johnson, one of the first missionaries of the A.B.H.M. Society for Oregon, died the same year, and was a severe loss, not only to the Oregon City church, but also to the entire denomination of the State. The record thus speaks of him:
"Resolved: That specially 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 her welfare, conferred not with flesh and blood, but toiled on amid discouragements and hardships, never doubting her ultimate and glorious triumph."
The terrible backsliding of one of their most prominent deacons was a most crushing blow to the West Union church, though the ordination of Brother Sewell in1859 gave much encouragement, and the church was greatly strengthened by Rev. G. C. Chandler, and a gracious revival under Rev. S. Cornelius. And in 1864, Rev. J. D. P. Hungate was appointed by the A.B.H.M. Society for West Union and Forest Grove, and served the two churches for two years and ten months.
The membership of the church at Corvallis was so widely scattered that in 1856 it was thought best to divide the church, organizing those north of a certain line into another church. But the church had a house and lot in Corvallis, and some disagreement arose in dividing the church property. Whilst this question was pending, in February, 1863, a heavy snow smashed in the roof of the meeting house, and no settlement was ever made. The debris was sold for $50 and given for missionary purposes. But the Corvallis church never entirely recovered from the disaster. Its meetings were kept up, but it dwindled. Revs. R. D. Gray, R. C. Hill and J. J. Clark were the pastors, their salaries being apportioned according to the ability of the members to pay. But it was very gloomy for the church at Corvallis. Their house of worship destroyed, many of their membership removed, those left widely scattered, poor and compelled to meet at private residences, the outlook was dismal. Their preaching was mostly from passing ministers. Yet they held on and struggled for life. In the fall of 1864 the church gave $10 for Associational missionary work. But the members were living so far apart that they adjourned their meetings until spring. The next summer they gave $15 for missions, which was $ 1.50 per member. In the fall, the meetings again adjourned until spring. To add to their difficulties, in October, 1864, Rev. Stephen Riley, a Baptist minister from California, organized a rival church in Corvallis with eight members. The two churches went into different Associations, so there was no open clash, but the ultimate result was the death of both. A few other churches also died, but to offset these, fifteen new churches were organized, some of which became quite prominent. Every's Butte church nearly all left for Washington, and Sublimity (formerly Lebanon) disbanded to help organize the Stayton Baptist church, about two and a half miles distant. Also some names and localities were changed.
Absentees required much attention. Some having united with the church, were faithful for awhile, became careless or moved away, neglecting to report for a long time, perhaps for years. Various excuses were made, and expedients tried to correct the evil but with very slight satisfactory results. It required time for new immigrants to become settled, and harsh measures were frowned upon; the delinquents "might turn up all right." In a few instances some members were "dropped," but unless for other special causes, this was not general. Sometimes some petty trifle would bring strange results. One instance will suffice. A licentiate wished his church at each business meeting to "formally inquire if the church was in peace." An old deacon of the same church thought it unnecessary, as if not in peace it would be made known. Not agreeing, the licentiate went off some ten or twelve miles and organized another church, which adopted his favorite "Rule," had him ordained to preach for them, and it became an active, growing, working church. No trouble resulted. Several churches were watchful for future prospects. Dr. Wilson, of Salem, having proposed to donate two lots for a Baptist church at that place, when no Baptist church had yet been organized there, the French Prairie and Lebanon churches each appointed two members as trustees to hold the property in trust till needed, and thus the First Baptist church of Salem secured its lots. And in one or two other instances such property was secured in like manner.
Salaries were small. Brethren had their land, but this required time and much labor to make it profitable. They would divide provisions, but money was difficult to get except by very few. The preachers knew the situation and adapted themselves to it. Rev. G. C. Chandler, who could have commanded our best pulpits, preached for years to our country churches for $600 or less, per year. Outside of Portland or Oregon City, this was the maximum. Yet if an emergency arose the brethren would rally and meet it, even if they had to involve themselves to do it. Such a requirement occurred in the founding of McMinnville college. In 1857 the Central Association had assumed the care and building up of that Institution, in 1860, a debt of over $4000 paying two per cent a month interest, loomed up before their vision.
After earnest and careful consideration, the brethren shouldered the debt, apportioned it according to their taxable property, and paid it. Although the Association at that time numbered only 416 members, all told, yet, so far as known, not a man, church, nor Association, asked for a dollar outside of themselves, and it has never been told how long it took them to remove the burden. With the most of them it was hard work to obtain more than a bare support for them and their families. The churches paying the debt, with the amounts of each were as follows: Yamhill church, $1,342.92; Lacreole church, $1,022.98; North Palestine church, $384.00; Providence church, $668.18; Shiloh church, $105.24; Sublimity church, $67.46; Union church, $231.75; Dallas church, $366.50; Good Hope church, $113.88. Total $4,309.81. Nor was this the only time that our early brethren were called upon to help the college, or some other benevolent work, and lifted until "they could see stars." According to numbers and ability, the brethren of today are doing no nobler nor grander work. And festivals, suppers, and the numerous other contrivances for raising money for church purposes, so often met with today, were then unknown.
The church at Portland had become practically extinct, but on June 29, 1860, Rev. Samuel Cornelius, Jr., formerly of Winona, Minnesota, arrived, and being aided by the A.B.H.M. Society, commenced regular meetings in August. A Sunday School was started, and matters were hopeful. At the organization, or rather, the re-organization of the church, Rev. G. C. Chandler, speaking of the previous effort, said that the church had dwindled until but three members were left; Brother Josiah Failing, wife, and daughter, and all present and by their request and desire he offered a resolution which they thought indicated the best course to pursue:
"Resolved: That the First Baptist church of the city of Portland be dissolved, and that the funds held by the treasurer of that church be paid over to the new church as soon as it shall be organized, on condition that said funds shall be held and appropriated for the uses and purposes for which they were originally intended."
The resolution was unanimously adopted and the church re-organized August 31, 1860, with 15 members. The church agreed to take a collection every month for the A.B.H.M. Society. In 1850 Rev. H. Johnson had secured from Stephen Coffin a donation of a north half block, corner of Fourth and Alder streets for the use of a regular Baptist church; so in October, 1860, trustees were chosen and went to work, and on May 20, 1861, the corner stone of the Baptist meeting house was laid with appropriate ceremonies. In June, the church came into the Willamette Association. On January 5, 1862, the basement of the new building was occupied, and the baptistery was used August 31. In May, 1863, a day was set apart for fasting and prayer. In May, 1864, it was agreed to take a collection three Sundays in each month for the Sanitary Commission. In 1864 the church report was somewhat discouraging. In September, Brother Cornelius resigned. Then being without a pastor or regular preaching, the church closed its doors, and except its Sunday School no regular services were held till after the close of this period. But the interest was kept up in the Sunday School, and Deacon Failing, with his keen foresight and practical eye for business, and Deacon Mitchell, with his fervent piety and intense reformatory ideas, and by Deacon D. W. Williams with his broad sympathy, and active, earnest, practical piety, sustained the work. And in nearly all our churches, all over the State, we had these self-sacrificing laymen, working alone, or with their devoted pastors, if they had them, with little scholastic attainments, but rich in faith, and wise in energetic action, carrying their churches through crises, sometimes fearful, and often with trembling, until victory was inscribed on their banners. A score of such could be named, who, often alone, were the "burden-bearers" of their churches. And it was thus that many of our early churches were long kept alive. The A.B.H.M. Society aided two or three churches but the most of them struggled along as best they could.
Attention was early directed to Salem, the Capital of the State, as a very important position to occupy, but nothing definite was accomplished until December 29, 1859, when, assisted by Deacon George P. Newell, of Oregon City, who was passing, they organized themselves into a church of eight members. Other brethren had been invited to be present, but failed to attend, though Brother Chandler came the next day. Then they were disappointed in securing a pastor, but in the midst of their trouble Rev. C. L. Fisher, a Baptist minister from Minnesota, arrived in Salem, and was secured for the position. A Sunday School was started, and the church said that its motto was "Forward and upward, trusting in the Great God of Heaven for help." An unsuccessful application was made to the H.M. Society for help. The church went into the Central Association. With the lots secured of which mention has been made, the church commenced building in 1861. Brother Fisher was very active. He says: "I put all the shingles on the roof, and the most of the siding on the rear and south side. I helped Brother Stephens to lay the floor, and did a large part of the framing. I made the seats, and purchased the pulpit furniture, lamp, organ, and bell, the sisters providing the money for this; so that when I resigned my pastorate in 1864, the church was clear of debt." One lot had been sold to help. Brother Fisher does not say that this work was a part of his pastoral work; but possibly it was expected because of his salary--$200 a year for all his time. And he had a large family to support, and no property to fall back on. Possibly he did some work at his trade, (carpenter) outside. During his pastorate of four years he did a vast amount of work for the church, and he also did much irregular preaching for it after he resigned. He said: "Brother and Sister Myers, and Brother Adam Stephens, with a few sisters were the pillars of the church, and aided in every way possible for the extension of the cause. I always found them ready to help me in my pastoral work." He was always the Superintendent of the Sunday School; sometimes under very adverse circumstances. His wife and two daughters were also very active, and when he surrendered the superintendency, the school numbered 156, and all was bright and encouraging. The meeting house was dedicated in 1865. After his resignation, the church was for awhile without a pastor, when Rev. S. Cornelius accepted the charge for a year. In 1865 the Civil war issues troubled the church for awhile, and it left the Central Association and went into the Willamette Association. But these difficulties were afterwards all happily settled, and peace and harmony restored. Brother Fisher still lived in Salem for awhile, and worked as actively and heartily for the church as ever.
During this period of ten years, fifteen new churches had been organized, but eleven had become extinct, and some of the others were nearly dead. The net gain was four. There were three reasons for many extinct churches.
1. There was considerable immigration during this time, and a few Baptists stopping in a locality and desiring church privileges organized a church, expecting future immigrations to build it up, but were disappointed.
2. The shifting population owing to the unsettled condition of the country.
3. There were some ministers with more zeal than discretion, who finding a few scattered Baptists, did not carefully consider future possibilities, and organized churches, preached for them awhile, and left them to die from neglect, if not from the introduction of error. There was however a reported aggregate of nearly 1200 members, with nearly 1000 baptisms, and about 150 baptisms into the extinct churches whilst they lived, with many scattered Baptists, not organized into churches, or churches not Associated. We had three new Associations, and also a general Association, organized in 1857, but this came to an end in 1859, and has not been revived.
II. ASSOCIATIONAL WORK
1. GENERAL MATTERS
During this period three new Associations were organized as follows:
- Name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Date . . . . . . . . . . . . . Moderator . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Clerk
- Corvallis . . . . . . . . . September 12, 1856 . . . . Rev. Ezra Fisher . . . . . . . Rev. C. H. Mattoon
- Central . . . . . . . . . . September 4, 1857 . . . . . Rev. R. C. Hill . . . . . . . . Rev. C. H. Mattoon
- Umpqua . . . . . . . . . October 10, 1863 . . . . . . Rev. G. W. Bond . . . . . . Rev. M. N. Stearns
Thus the Willamette Association lost ten churches and 410 members in 1857, and six churches and 246 members in 1858; and the Corvallis Association lost two churches and 53 members in 1863, besides the shifting in 1858.
All the Associations, every year, or nearly so, either by resolutions or committee reports, or both, recommended both Home and Foreign Missions, the American Baptist Publication Society, Colporteur work, Sunday Schools, Sabbath observance, and Temperance, endorsed the work of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, approving appointments, often appealing for help, and returning thanks for aid already rendered, deplored the needs of their own fields, and appointed committees to devise ways and means for supplying them, or named solicitors in the churches to arouse the members to active and liberal contributions for this purpose. Prayer meeting and special efforts for revivals were encouraged. The General Association was recommended but it only lived two years. Denominational papers also were urged, especially "The Baptist Circular," and "The Evangel," both of San Francisco. "The Expositor" lived six months only.
Some of the Associations had connected with them a Ministers' and Deacons' Conference, where Essays, Skeletons and Exegeses of Sermons, and other matters were presented, discussed, and criticized. Among those calling for some close criticism at the time, were an "Essay on Baptist Polity" before the Willamette Association in 1857, and one on "Communion," before the Central Association in 1858, both by Rev. C. H. Mattoon; Also, "The Final Perseverance of the Saints," and "The Necessity to the Growth, Spirituality, and Success of the Church, of a located Ministry, Supported in, and Entirely devoted to their Work;" two discourses in 1858 and 1862, by Rev. Geo. C. Chandler; Also an Essay by Rev. H. Johnson, in 1866, "The Kingdom of Christ, its Character and Destiny." Informal, verbal reports of their work were made at almost every Association by many of the ministers. Sometimes we had a "Circular Letter," The following idea from such a letter read to the Central Association in 1859 is worth studying:
"But we are dark, and others are not lighted by us; we are cold and they are not warmed by us; we are burdened with church business, and they go away to seek another home. We look to the minister, and not as we ought to the Master."
A day of Fasting and prayer "For the Holy Spirit to be poured out on God's people, sinners awakened, and souls converted," was sometimes urged. Some of the Associations spent much time in hunting after churches that failed to report.
The Umpqua and Rogue River sections had so little ministerial help that to live was difficult. Sometimes a revival would attend an Association; persons were converted and baptized; and a brother or two would remain and protract the meeting; often with good results. Brethren too would help each other in building. Thus the Willamette Association gave the Clackamas church $30 in 1857; and in 1862 the Central Association requested the deacons of each church to try to raise one dollar for each member of their respective churches to help the Salem brethren to build. And the brethren were exhorted to pray for the time to come when the churches would each be supplied with a pastor who should give himself wholly to the ministry of the Word and to prayer.
In 1857, the clerk of the Willamette Association presented a letter from Rev. John W. York, who was appointed by the annual Conference of the M. E. church to bear the Christian salutations of that body to this Association, and requesting the appointment of a delegate from this body to meet with the Conference in August next. After a lengthy discussion, a letter was approved. "Respectfully declining the proposed correspondence, on the ground that we are of the opinion that no good would result therefrom, to themselves, or to us or to any party concerned." Although this is the only official paper of this character on record, yet it is a well known fact that at that day the most of the prominent Baptists of the Northwest coast did not regard unions, official recognition or cooperation in public religious affairs with other denominations with much favor. Differing perhaps some in details a similar case with a similar result occurred a few years later in the Willamette Association at Forest Grove, and also in the Umpqua Association at Eugene, And it was avoided in the other Associations, only by careful management so as to prevent the direct question from coming before the Body. The Association also demanded of their churches strict adherence to Baptist beliefs and practice. So when one of the churches lapsed into "open communion," it was promptly "notified that if it continued the practice the connection would be severed." But as it asked advice, the Association would bear with it for a year, and requested the members and ministers to visit it and "teach it the way of the Lord more perfectly."
In 1858 Rev. C. H. Mattoon was recommended by the Central Association to the brethren in the work of introducing and circulating standard denominational books. (A private enterprise). In 1865 and 1866 all the Associations recommended Brother A. M. Cornelius as a Colporteur of the A.B.P. Society, though his appointment did not reach him till the next year. The Willamette Association also called attention to the publications of the American Bible Union, and exhorted Christians to secure and encourage the most perfect translations of the Scriptures in all languages.
There are several points upon which further information is desirable, but the records are scanty, and much of what is presented had to be gathered from other sources. But they are considered reliable.
2. SLAVERY AND WAR ISSUES
As has been already said, at the close of the First Period, the slavery question was somewhat ominous, though no direct issue was raised in either church or Association until 1856 when the brethren were startled by the resolutions introduced at that session of the Willamette Association. (See part I, Section II, Associational Summary). And whilst these resolutions were ultimately voted down, yet many brethren saw in them the entering wedge of a conflict. As the Willamette Association in June, 1856, took in all Oregon, it is but reasonable to suppose that the primal motive for the organization of the Corvallis Association was local convenience. But as times were then, this motive for the Central Association can only be considered as of minor significance. How far the discussion of 1856 affected the Corvallis Association is unknown, though it is certain that it had some influence; but it was unquestioned by observing men at the time, that every indication showed that it had considerable influence in the Central Association. It was largely composed of Southern people, not necessarily pro-slavery, for, regardless of their private views on the abstract question, probably three-fourths of the Oregon Baptists voted against slavery at the adoption of the State Constitution about this time. Now the leaders of the Willamette Association were outspoken against slavery both in church and elsewhere, the others were conservative and objected to its introduction into the church. Because, (1) it was uncalled for in Oregon, and (2) they regarded it as a political question that should not be brought into the church, Thus, whilst there was no open rupture, to use a diplomatic phrase, the relations between the two parties were "somewhat strained," and the leaders of both sides considered a third Association an actual necessity; in order (1) to allow the churches to go to whichever Association they pleased; and (2) to preserve the peace and unity of the denomination. Hence, neither party could be said to have organized another Association in the sense of a revolt; because, if certain churches did ask for letters of dismission for this purpose, the other churches were equally as cordial in granting these letters. And this also explains why both Associations have from the first had some churches far within the geographical bounds of the other.
But whilst this action prevented a division of the denomination, it by no means reconciled the parties. Rev. Ezra Fisher withdrew from the denomination entirely, and organized another church calling it "The church of God;" but he took only a few individuals, and no church, and beyond the temporary flurry but little attention was paid to him. As has already been said, the mass of Oregon Baptists wished to be conservative, but a few extremists on both sides kept up considerable ferment. A few churches declared non fellowship with each other; some withdrew from their associations; some changed from one Association to another; and one Association "excluded a church because it was guilty of disorderly conduct in refusing to represent itself in this body."
When the Civil War arose, new issues followed, and times were more exciting. The Willamette and Umpqua Associations passed strong resolutions sustaining the government and the war. The Central Association said nothing until 1866, when it published some platitudes which no intelligent Baptist ever disputed, and the Corvallis Association took no official action, but it was understood that it endorsed the action of the Central Association. Official correspondence was "dropped" between the former two and the latter two Associations, and there was very little official recognition between the churches which differed on these questions. In 1863, the Umpqua Association was organized, "Whose characteristic features should be non-fellowship with such churches as continue the advocacy of American Slavery." If any Baptist church in Oregon ever "advocated American Slavery" it certainly never has been heard from, and its locality is unknown. The constitution of the new Association said: "No church shall be received, the controlling influence of which is in favor of American Slavery." As a large share of the population of Oregon came from the Southern states, it is not surprising that all shades of opinion prevailed, but if "the controlling influence" of any or all of these led to any expression "in favor of American Slavery," it was never reported, nor is it found in any record. During the first 40 years of our denominational existence on the North Pacific Coast, this is the first, and only Baptist Association organized on any partisan basis whatever. In 1866, the Willamette Association adopted the following:
"Whereas, Rebellion and slavery, the cause of our past dissensions are now removed, therefore,
"Resolved, That the Willamette Association will open correspondence with the Central Association by letter and messengers, and ask that body to reciprocate."
The results of this action were still pending at the close of this period.
3. MISSION WORK
From the very first, all the Associations undertook to supply their own field; sometimes with a little help from the A.B.H.M. Society; oftener with no help except from God's blessing upon their own labors. Often the most serious and difficult question before the Associations, was "Shall we continue the effort to sustain a missionary within our bounds?" "And for how long?" The Willamette Association begged the Society to "plant a man in Portland," and when Rev. S. Cornelius, Jr., came it was a time of rejoicing, and of regret when he left. The following resolution or its equivalent was adopted by all the Associations:
"Resolved, That in view of the great lack of Baptist ministers in Oregon, the smallness of our numerical strength in many places, and the deplorable absence of those influences of the Holy Spirit, without which sinners are not converted to God nor believers built up in holiness, that we recommend the members of our churches, each one, to observe a season of secret prayer every Lord's Day evening at 9 o'clock, or as near that hour as may be; thus united that all our deficiencies may be supplied, our captivity be turned, our reproach be taken away, and the work of God among us be every where revived."
The "Yearly Meetings" were kept up for awhile, but gradually died out as new ministers came. In the Willamette Association, Rev. Thomas Taylor was employed in 1857 and 1858, with one or two short intervals. He had preached every Sabbath, and a part of the year had appointments during the week. He gave himself wholly to the work. He preached or worked exclusively. He and his wife were old and wanted but little. His field was truly missionary, and his continuance was recommended. In 1857 he received $187.70; in 1888, he was allowed $250. His field was between the Molalla and the Columbia rivers, and between the Willamette river and Cascade mountains. His congregations were good, and he believed there had been a steady increase of sympathy for the cause of Christ. At the Association meeting between $30 and $40 was collected to aid the General Association in missionary work. In 1859 Rev. R. Weston was the missionary, and he gave a minute statement of his labors, trials, joys and sorrows, exhibiting a marked case of faithful, earnest and prayerful sacrifice in the Lord's vineyard. The committee regretted that the Association was unable to keep this faithful brother in the field for truly "The harvest was great and the laborers few." In 1861, $24 was collected, but the money was kept for future use. In 1866 it was recommended "that the churches be trained to the principles and practices of systematic benevolence," and quarterly contributions to the missionary cause was urged.
Rev. D. C. Hackley was the missionary of the Corvallis Association in 1857, and $ 172 secured for his support for one year. Rev. William Sperry died that year. Of the needs of the field, it says:
"A deep state of religious feeling seem to pervade the congregations, and we are informed that this feeling is very general throughout the Umpqua and the Rogue river valleys. We want help. The field is ripe and ready for the harvest. We are trying to help ourselves all we can, but we are very weak, and the field is large, and our wants pressingly great. Cannot our Willamette brethren help us?"
In 1867, $26.25 was paid to Rev. G. W. Bond for mission work. In 1859 the fund was $61.20, of which $60 was paid to Rev. J. J. Clark for one and a half months of labor south of the Calapooia muuntains. This same year a request came by special messenger from Puget Sound for a minister to come and organize a church and ordain another minister, and Rev. R. D. Gray and Deacon John Lloyd were sent. The next year they made a favorable report of their mission. They had organized a church of six members, baptized four more and ordained Brother T. C. Harper to the ministry. They spoke well of Brother Harper, and regarded the field an inviting one for Baptists on account of there being considerable Baptist sentiment there. The Associational report said the cry for help was loud and earnest. At least four efficient ministers were needed in Southern Oregon, and with this help no doubt several churches might be established with fair prospects of being prosperous, and of exerting a benign influence. But the great destitution of ministerial labor precluded the idea of the Association doing anything at present. In 1865 it was recommended that the churches make an effort to raise means to sustain Rev. J. C. Richardson in devoting one week in each month as a missionary in the Umpqua valley, and also to aid some other brother in the same work, if a suitable man could be obtained; and a superintending committee appointed, with a solicitor in each church to urge the matter, and secure funds for this purpose. Brother Richardson traveled to the extent of the means collected, ($74.20) and reported one church organized, the field large, the destitution great, and a people willing and anxious for Gospel privileges.
There is no record of mission work in the Central Association till 1860, when Rev. J. G. Berkley was paid $17.50 for mission work with the same amount on hand. In 1864 some plan for paying ministers who preach regularly a fair compensation was recommended, and a committee appointed, and solicitors in each church to secure aid in employing one or more ministers to travel and preach within the bounds of the Association. There is no record of any mission work in the Umpqua Association during this period except a collection for the A.B.H.M. Society in 1866. It also urged the importance of sending a pure Gospel to the Freedmen, deplored the destitution of its own field, and called for more laborers.
4. THE GENERAL ASSOCIATION 1857
The General Association was organized at French Prairie with Rev. George C. Chandler, moderator; W. C. Johnson, clerk; on September 25, 1857. The object of the Convention was "to co-operate in the labor of Christs church in Oregon." Measures were taken to circulate subscriptions and secure funds for this purpose. The Ministers' Conference appointed Rev. H. Johnson to write an essay for the next meeting on "The Millennium."
The next meeting was with the Pleasant Butte church in 1858. Nothing had been done the previous year. The committee on "The Wants of the Territory," after speaking of places which should be occupied, especially Portland and Salem, said:
"Our ministerial strength is weak, and growing more so by the infirmities of age, and the want of young men to fill the place of the fathers as they pass away. We have not more than four ministers who can be said to be given to the ministry, and these are so limited in their income that they are compelled to devote much of their time to secular labors. Other ministers are preaching, some every Sunday, and others part of the time, as they can leave their families and engage in the work."
Pledges, $441.25, and cash, $28.75 were secured for mission work, and the committee recommended that Rev. R. Weston or some other brother be employed as a general missionary, to occupy that part of the territory south of the Calapooia mountains, and the minutes conclude with this note:
"Our session has been very agreeable, and we trust profitable, We have harmony in all our actions, with a good degree of Christian sympathy. We love these Christian gatherings, but we are not without our sorrows. We had but few from abroad. Some of our most active brethren were absent, among whom was Rev. H. Johnson, one of the first three Baptist ministers who came to the territory. We suppose the cause was the unfavorable weather and the precarious state of his health. Rev. Ezra Fisher met the Ministerial Conference, resigned his office of moderator, and declined co-operation with us in any of our meetings, giving as a reason, that he is acting on the principle of "non-fellowship with slave-traders, slave-owners, slave-advocates or slave-apologists," and that he "is now connected with an organization established upon these principles in addition to the Articles of Faith usually adopted by Baptist churches, but calling themselves 'The Church of God.'"
The meeting in 1859 was so scantily attended that no attempt was made to transact business. The few present adjourned to meet at the call of the executive committee. That call was not made, and the committee is dead. No appointees were present, and there was no preaching. For minutes, see those of the Willamette Association, which met the following day at the same place.
This brings the Associational work down to the close of the second period; the meeting of the several Associations in 1866. The history and the statistical tables show the growth. In addition, the foundations of a college were being laid, and taking the work as a whole, there had been substantial progress. The ministers had been devoted, earnest and zealous, and the membership generally hopeful; whilst neither were disposed to lessen their exertions for the spread of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of the needs and prospects, the words of a later writer, are applicable to this period also:
"The town and country are growing in population and importance every day, and the needs are increasing in proportion. I hope that we may soon see a change and that men may be found for this hard; but necessary service; a service in which I am sure there would be a large reward; a sowing from which would result a glorious harvest."
III. WORK OF EASTERN SOCIETIES
1. FOREIGN MISSIONS
During the second period $48.70 was credited to Oregon by the American Baptist Missionary Union; $26.70 in 1863, and $22 in 1864; calendar years. The first Association offering was in 1862; that of Portland the same year; of McMinnville in 1864. Portland Sunday school sent $20 in 1863. The total contributions prior to 1861 were $23.69. One great drawback was a lack of information on the subject. Probably not more than half a dozen copies of the Missionary Magazine were taken in Oregon. It is doubtful whether one-fourth of our ministers could have given a live-stirring address on foreign missions, outside of a few generalities. At an Association we might hear something, and some of the most helpful, inspiring, spiritual sessions were spent in considering this question. Strong, pungent resolutions and reports met with hearty approval, but were almost forgotten at home. Yet, little by little, the cause was gaining ground, and slowly and surely beginning to claim attention.
2. THE A. B. H. M. SOCIETY
From March 31, 1856, until Rev. Samuel Cornelius, Jr., came to Portland July 1, 1860, nothing was done by the Society in Oregon, and very little during this entire period. An extract from the report of the Society for 1864, will show the situation at that time.
"The Society early entered the field, and for a few years devoted to it considerable attention. They sent to it men, and expended upon it money; but after a very limited period, the work early entered upon was almost entirely abandoned. So far as your committee has learned, for ten years before the last, the Board sent but one man to the Pacific Coast, and during that period it made but very limited appropriations to men already upon the field. During this same decade of years, religious bodies of other names were taking possession of the field, seizing upon the strongholds, and gathering resources peculiarly our own. Your committee cannot resist the conviction that the Pacific Coast has been sadly neglected in years past, in distributing the resources of this Society. There has been a great inequality between the cultivation bestowed upon it, and that bestowed on some of the states and territories of the Northwest. As a direct fruit of this neglect, our cause on the Pacific Coast has languished. In comparison with other religious bodies we are weak. Golden moments have been lost and precious opportunities have been closed against us. Your committee cannot forbear to express to you their conviction that the field demands, and ought early to receive some of your best gifts. It is no trifling nor unimportant work to plant the institutions of new states, and especially, of states isolated and alone, like those on the Pacific Coast has been settled, and the present condition of society there, render it indispensable that you send to the field men of nerve and energy and self-reliance, as well as men of undoubted piety and moral character. If you can send such men, there is little doubt of your achieving success."
These facts being urged, the following resolutions were adopted:
"Resolved, That in the judgment of this Society, the Board should bestow a much larger relative measure of attention upon the cultivation of the Pacific Coast.
"Resolved, That the Board be recommended to seek, at the earliest practicable period, an increase of effective Gospel laborers for the fields, and to make appropriations on a scale that will enable them to enter the most important points of the field."
3. WORK OF THE A. B. P. SOCIETY
After Rev. Richmond Cheadle resigned in 1856, the A. B. P. Society had no laborer in the field until 1866, when Brother A. M. Cornelius, recommended by our churches and Associations, receive an appointment as Colporteur. His report for work in 1866 shows, days of labor, 121; miles traveled 925; books sold, 683; books donated, 48; tracts disposed of, 3000; baptisms, 10; contributions for the missionary work of the Society in Oregon, $74.85. Otherwise than this, so far as is known, no effort was made in this direction.
EDUCATIONAL WORK. McMINNVILLE COLLEGE
The effort to establish a school of high grade at Oregon City and its failure, has been noticed. But our people were not satisfied. They contemplated another effort. True, it would cost money; buildings, libraries, apparatus, and above all, its incessant demand for thoroughly qualified teachers might rest heavy on some of its patrons but for all that, our early Baptists were clamorous. Why? Because of our very isolation, and our need, were compelled to grapple with great denominational issues and enterprises. No matter if we were poor, we must sacrifice. The cause demanded it. Our very life as a Christian force called for it. What if the odds were against us? We were, as we thought, at least on a par with our competitors in Oregon, whether considered numerically, financially or influentially. And we must do something. We were desperate, under the circumstances. Eastern brethren might call us crazy! But no matter, We believed that we had foundation, if not method in our madness. Just think of it! With the entire Baptist force, as reported, less than 200 strong, in 1852, an "Educational Society" was started with our leading men at the head of it! And renewing their effort in 1854! And about the same time, when not 500 strong, we were seriously planning to start a denominational paper! And they did it! And in direct opposition to the old proverb, that "A burnt child dreads the fire," although they had already sunk over $4000 in the Oregon City Enterprise, they were intensely eager to try, try, again! Why? Because the leaders of thought amongst us, felt that it was laid upon us, because of our very isolation, to work out this problem. It was absolutely necessary to our success, Aye, to our very life, that it be done. Their faith upheld them; they were not pessimists. They believed it could be done, and they did it. Some of our later men call them slow, but their work does not show it. At one of our State Conventions, a very prominent speaker declared that an "injurious conservatism" was "stamped upon them" as well as "a lack of enthusiasm." And that "in any phase of Christian work." No man, who had lived in Oregon ten years, "would cheer his brother with a single enthusiastic utterance." "That the ten year man adopts as a part of his creed that never, under any conceivable circumstances will he allow his feelings to so get the mastery of him as to allow an enthusiastic word of sympathy to some brother who is heroically lifting until he sees stars!"
It could be retorted that when the speaker delivered this address, he had been in Oregon ten years; hence, he only describes himself. But the fact is, there was sympathy; there was heroic lifting all along the line, even whilst the great question with many of our early Baptists was how to provide bread for their loved ones and because they would not create debts which they never could have paid, and obligate themselves beyond the possibility of redemption, they are thus disparaged by some who have no conception of the trials and sacrifices endured by those who planted our banners here; nor can they be appreciated by those not personally active in the work. And God, in a most wonderful manner, was opening up the way to solve this educational problem.
Early in 1855, a High school was started in McMinnville, chiefly by the efforts of Rev. John McBride, Rev. S. C. Adams, Hon. W. T. Newby and Hon. William Dawson; all belonging to the Christian church. A building was enclosed, and Mr. Adams taught a term or two of school in it; but the labor being thrown mostly on him, and finding himself unable to make the school what he desired, and with the consent of the others, in 1856, he formally tendered the whole property to the Baptists, if they would establish and carry on a college there. The proposal was courteously received, but other places were urging their claims. Hence, a committee, consisting of Rev. R. C. Hill, Ezra Fisher, Hezekiah Johnson, G. W. Bond and R. Weston and Brethren J. M. Fulkerson and Henry Warren, was appointed to examine the different localities, together with the inducements offered by each. This committee reported at the organization of the Corvallis Association in September, 1856. Hon. W. T. Newby increased a previous offer to ten acres of land, and Brother Samuel Cozine offered twenty acres more, and finally McMinnville was agreed upon, their offers accepted, and a committee appointed to have all the arrangements and agreements carried out. This having been accomplished, a contract was let in the winter of 1856-7 to complete the building for $3600. It was a frame, two stories high, with two fronts, each 80x30 feet. The first floor was recitation rooms; the second, dormitories for students. The first public recognition of the school by the denomination was on September 5, 1867, when the Central Association took a subscription of $353 for it.
"Voted, That this Association extend its fostering care over the institution of learning at McMinnville; that they appoint a Board of at least seven trustees for the same; and that they recommend it to the Baptists of Oregon as worthy their patronage and support."
The trustees appointed were R. C. Hill, H. Warren, E. Ford, J. M. Fulkerson, A. N. Miller, J. S. Holman and Willis Gaines; to whom Richard Miner was afterwards added. These were the incorporaters. The building was completed in the fall of 1867, and the first school in it under Baptist control was taught that winter by Professor J. W. Johnson, afterwards President of the Oregon State University.
It has been extensively published that this was an "opposition school" to Oregon City; the true foundation cause being "The Slavery Question. " A few facts will settle that. (1) Revs. Ezra Fisher, Hezekiah Johnson, and Henry Sewell, all Oregon City men, were on the Committee which unanimously recommended McMinnville. (2) The McMinnville school did not commence until the Oregon City college was practically dead, and had had no school in it for years, except by private teachers who took all risks, and assumed all responsibilities. (3) From 1849 to 1857 the West Union church had tried hard to get an Academy, at least, started there, offering 80 acres of land for a campus, and their sympathies would all have been against McMinnville. The majority of the Committee would have favored Oregon City had there been any reasonable prospect of its success. (4) Had the Committee seen that they had made a mistake in recommending McMinnville, they could have corrected that mistake at the Willamette Association, which met several months before any steps were taken towards accepting the McMinnville proposition. But not even a hint was given of any mistake. (5) Rev. George C. Chandler, the first President of McMinnville college, and John D. Post, were both sent out by the H. M. Society for the Oregon City school. C. H. Mattoon was also taken from his private school at Oregon City, to go to McMinnville. Every member of this first Faculty at McMinnville, was a Northern man, an anti-slavery man, and had direct, prosperous, personal interests at, or near Oregon City to keep him there. Why should they aid in starting an "opposition school" at McMinnville? And why should Southern, pro-slavery men, as many today call them, choose Northern anti-slavery men to teach their children? Would they not prefer, if necessary, even non-professors? The idea is absurd on its face. The fact is, that had not the Oregon City school, as a Baptist Institution, been notoriously dead, the Original promoters of the McMinnville school, who were not Baptists, would never have offered it to us. And finally, when the Oregon City property was sold, Hon. W. Carey Johnson, whose father had started the school at Oregon City, and who, of all men, would have labored to have made it a success there, made the presentation speech in giving the funds to McMinnville. And those who now talk of "Educational Differences" because of slavery at that early date, only betray ignorance of the facts.
But the school became the pet and the protege of the Central Association, and although their own committee had recommended it, the Willamette Association did very little to encourage it at that time.
On January 30, 1858, the trustees obtained a charter of incorporation, and their first meeting was held March 27, 1858, when Rev. G. C. Chandler was employed to take charge of the school at $1200 a year, and George Russen as an assistant at $50 a month. May 20th., the trustees organized by electing Ephraim Ford, President; Henry Warren, Secretary, and A. N. Miller, Treasurer. May 21st., C. H. Mattoon presented a plan for an endowment, and there being "no particular objection to the plan or specifications," he was sent out as an agent to secure the same. He started in August, and in January, 1859, reported $11,000 secured on scholarships, and $746.50 of general subscription. The Central Association had also subscribed $I75 to assist in the work. Meanwhile, Professor J. D. Post, of Oregon City, had been employed, and in the fall term, both he and Mattoon went into the school; Rev. G. C. Chandler, Pres.; J. D. Post, Professor of Languages; C. H. Mattoon, Professor of Mathematics. The tuition bills were to pay the teachers. That winter, 178 pupils were enrolled, but in the spring the measles broke out in the place, and the school ran down to 60 in a short time. Before the close of the spring term, Professor Post left for Oregon City, and sending a Mr. John Hall to fill his place, never came back. Professor Mattoon also left at the close of the term, for another place. At the Central Association in 1859, the committee on the College reported that "the property now owned by the college, together with the endowment subscription that can probably be secured, amounts in the aggregate to $20,000 or more; but to make this certain, debts amounting to nearly $4000, interest and all must be paid." To raise this debt, a solicitor was appointed in each church. In the spring of 1850, Brother Chandler resigned, whilst Professor Hall stayed a term or two longer, when he also resigned.
In 1860, the Central Association met at McMinnville, and the College debt was the important question before the body that year. Finally, after long and earnest discussion of various plans, it was recommended that each member of the Association bind himself to the trustees to pay his proportion of the debt according to his taxable property. There were 28 names (afterwards increased to 40) to this agreement, and $44.55 in cash was secured. These brethren met at Shiloh August 30, 1860, and individually assumed, or paid the debt, together with interest on deferred payments at two per cent a month from June 9, 1860.
To illustrate. One of the most prominent men now in Oregon, recently, in a public address before one of our Associations, was understood to say that this result was secured by an "iron-clad rule," which imposed an assessment upon the members of the Central Association. Rev. A. J. Hunsaker, who was present at the Central Association in 1860, and also a subscriber, knowing all the facts, promptly corrected the statement, by saying that this subscription was nothing but a voluntary act on the part of those who paid that debt; simply a free-will offering placed upon the altar of Christian education. And the clerk of the Association at that time, who took the subscriptions when the pledges were taken, is now living in Oregon, and verifies the statements made by Brother Hunsaker, saying, that "There is not the least foundation for the statement that the Central Association ever adopted or tried to enforce such a rule as referred to above, since this was an act prompted only by the constraining love of Christ."
The Association also decided in 1860 that the college building should not be opened for any discussion, lecture, speech or essay upon any political question, whether from teachers, students, or persons not connected with the school; and also repeated it in 1866.
In April 1861, C. H. Mattoon returned, and by consent of the Trustees, opened an independent school until further arrangements could be made. At the Central Association in June, the number of trustees was increased to fifteen divided into three classes; one-third to be chosen annually; each class holding for three years. The committee also stated that they had considered a proposition from Brother Mattoon to take the school for five years, and suggested that the Association recommend that the trustees accept Brother Mattoon's proposition, with the understanding that he and they cooperate in their efforts to secure such additional Professor or Professors as might be thought advisable; and until such Professors could be secured, Brother Mattoon was to be the acting President of the Institution; he being unwilling to accept the position longer. Acting on this recommendation, in August, 1862, Rev. G. C. Chandler and C. H. Mattoon leased the school for five years; but as the Executive Board hesitated to assume the responsibility alone, the signing of the papers was postponed until the meeting of the trustees; but the school continued in session. Early in January 1862, serious sickness in the family of Professor Mattoon very much interfered with his duties in the school. It was difficult to secure help, either for his family or for the school room, and he resigned March 14, 1862, and has not since been connected with the school as a teacher. Brother Chandler taught a term or two longer, when he resigned, and this closed his connection with the school as a teacher. A part of the debt was yet unpaid, but there were enough solvent subscriptions to meet it. This year, the Association turned the entire management of the school over to the trustees, but this did not help matters, for in 1863 another debt of $600 loomed up with only $200 of responsible pledges to meet it. The Association went to work, appointed committees, took collections, and even talked of selling the entire property. But it was not sold. Private parties paid $45 rent, per quarter, in improvements during the winter to teach in the building, and at the meeting of the Central Association in 1864, by extra efforts, the debt was again paid, and the following resolution was passed without opposition:
"Resolved: That the trustees be, and are hereby instructed to make McMinnville College a self-sustaining institution."
Meanwhile, Professor J. W. Johnson had returned and again taken the school, and was making it a success, being assisted by John Hall and Mrs. N. E. Morse. In 1864 he had 84 students in the summer and 120 in the winter. It paid the teachers about $1500, and there were no debts to trouble the trustees. March 3, 1863, the property was leased to Professor Johnson for five years, for $1000, to be paid in improvements. That spring the school-room was re-seated at a cost of about $600; all collected and paid. In June 1856, the school reported the attendance of the previous year as ranging from 60 to 116; average 75.
Thus we find McMinnville College at the close of this period, out of debt, and with every indication of success and healthy growth. And amidst all its difficulties and sacrifices, our noble brethren struggled on with strong faith and buoyant hopes, looking to God for their reward, and already were beginning to see glimpses of future results. With only ten years of existence, without any endowment, and backed by only one Association of but 750 members, it had sent forth a class of students whose after course furnished a member of Congress, a Circuit Judge, a college President, a score or more of lawyers, physicians, and clergymen, who became prominent, and a large number of the most energetic and successful business men and women of our State; a company of peers that the promoters and builders of the school could point to with pride, and of whom no other Institution need be ashamed. The only need was an endowment, the securing of which will form a part of the events of the following periods.