Thirty Years in the Itinerancy
Wesson Gage Miller
Part 3 out of 5
secured a horse and buggy, I was ready to enter upon my work.
The First Quarterly Meeting was held at Fond du Lac. The Church edifice
was unfinished, and the celebrated school house having been burned, as
stated in a former chapter, the Meeting was held in the Court House. At
that time the building, though now so dingy, was new, and aspired to be
the most respectable edifice in the village. To prepare the Court House
especially for the Quarterly Meeting, the floors were newly carpeted
with sawdust, even then a famous product of the village, and the seats
well broomed. The place was crowded with people, and the occasion one of
rare interest. The Gospel was dispensed from the "Seat of Justice," the
Sacrament was administered within the "Bar," now vacated by the lawyers,
and the people knelt outside to receive the sacred emblems. Several of
the Members present had attended the Quarterly Meeting in the school
house six years before, and among them were a few who had known me from
my boyhood. It afforded me great pleasure to meet them and receive
their friendly greetings.
Rev. J.S. Prescott, the Pastor at Fond du Lac, had been bred to the
legal profession in the State of Ohio. He came to Wisconsin as a Local
Preacher, and joined the Conference in 1846. He had been stationed at
Sheboygan, Waupun, and Green Bay. He was a man of sharp, decisive
movements, sometimes angular in his opinions and measures, but full of
energy and not afraid of hard work. He kept no horse, even when on the
largest circuits, as he could not afford to wait for so laggard a
conveyance. In this particular he became notorious, and marvelous
stories are related of his pedestrian abilities. It is affirmed that, on
one occasion, in going to the Conference, he walked from Waupun to
Platteville, and reached his destination in advance of the long line of
ministerial buggies that were headed in that direction. Carrying the
same energy into every Department of his work, he always left his
"footprint" behind him. But his most devoted friends would sometimes
question the wisdom of his measures. Even in the small village of Fond
du Lac, he had now two churches in process of erection. But such was his
skill in raising funds at home and abroad that one of them was dedicated
by Bishop Ames at the close of the year and the other by the writer in
the year following.
Subsequently he served for several years as Agent of Lawrence
University, and then entered upon the project of founding an Institution
of learning at Point Bluff. The selection of a location, however, was
unfortunate, and his expectations were only partially realized. After
this disaster he addressed himself to business pursuits.
The Fond du Lac charge had now gained an influential position in the
Conference. Among her membership she had several leading business men.
And in addition, this place had now become the home of Rev. H.R. Colman
and Rev. M.L. Noble, the last two Pastors of the charge.
My next Meeting was held on Greenbush Circuit. This charge was midway
between Fond du Lac and Sheboygan, and had been established only two
years. Its Eastern portion had been opened from Sheboygan, and its
Western from Fond du Lac. It had neither Church nor Parsonage, and the
Minister lived in a shanty.
The Quarterly Meeting was held in Mr. Tunis Burhite's barn, about nine
miles east of Fond du Lac. I found the Pastor, Rev. David Lewis, at his
post. As was his wont, he had made every needed preparation, and had
brought out nearly the entire strength of his charge. The barn was
filled with people, and the neighborhood taxed to its utmost to
entertain the visitors. Nor was it surprising that, with such a
preparation, the Meeting was an occasion of rare interest. For months
and even years after, it was referred to with great satisfaction. At the
time the opinions of people were found to differ. One good sister said
in my hearing, "I think it is better to have old men like Elder Wilcox
for Presiding Elders, rather than such young men, because they can keep
a meeting steady and not let the people get so excited." But at the
close of the services a veteran Local Preacher said, "The old Elder gave
us a straight talk this morning." Both remarks were suggestive, and I
resolved to bear myself with becoming dignity.
Brother Lewis entered the Rock River Conference August 24th, 1842, and
was sent as Junior Preacher to Indian Creek, Ill., a four weeks'
circuit, the labor of which greatly taxed his strength. His next
appointment was Manitowoc, the charge extending from Port Washington to
Two Rivers, and requiring one hundred and fifty miles of travel to each
round of appointments. Through these dense forests, as I have had
occasion to remark in a former chapter, the roads were almost
impassable, with long distances intervening between residences, and
involving great fatigue and exposure. Like the good Brother Frink, who
preceded him in this field, he was compelled to swim rivers, suffer
hunger and endure fatigue, that would appall a man of less nerve. During
the winter his horse became disabled and he made the entire round on
foot, carrying his provisions in a knapsack. Such were the trials and
exposures of the pioneers who planted the standard of the Cross in the
"Sheboygan Woods," as this region was called. They were indeed
There were a few scattered sheep in the wilderness, and these were
gathered into the fold. At Manitowoc, Brother Lewis formed a class.
In 1844 Brother Lewis was sent to Pewaukee, where he had eleven
appointments. Though at the beginning of the year there was no class on
the charge, at its close Brother Lewis, was able to report sixty-five
members. It was during this year that our sturdy pioneer took to himself
a worthy helpmeet, in the person of Miss Adelia Morley, who, as an
inmate of the Presiding Elder's family, spread the table for the
writer's first meal as an Itinerant. Brother Lewis was next appointed
successively to Root River, Kankakee, and Brothertown, in which charges
he enjoyed his usual share of hard work and spiritual prosperity.
In 1849 he was appointed to Sheboygan Falls. The circuit was very large,
taking the entire tract of country between the Lake and Fond du Lac,
but the year was one of marked success. Finding the Parsonage under a
mortgage that imperiled the safety of the property, Brother Lewis
stepped forward and offered his horse, saddle, and a dollar and a half,
all the money he had, in liquidation of the indebtedness. They were
accepted, and as a result, the dear brother traveled his circuits on
foot for two years before he was able to procure another horse. Such is
the sterling material out of which the early Itinerants were made. With
such men in the field, it is not a matter of surprise that, under the
Divine blessing, the "Wilderness and solitary place" were made
At the close of his labors on this circuit, Brother Lewis was again sent
to Manitowoc for one year, when, the Greenbush charge having been
created, principally out of the west part of his former work, he was
appointed to it, as before stated. After leaving Greenbush he was
stationed at West Bend, Columbus and Fall River, Oneida Indian Mission,
New London, Markesan, Caldwell's Prairie, and New Berlin. At the
Janesville Conference in 1870, Brother Lewis, having served the church
nearly thirty years with great devotion, took a superannuated relation.
At this writing he is residing in Fond du Lac, maintains a happy frame
of mind, and is still doing what he can for the cause. He certainly
deserves well of his Conference.
Sheboygan Mission, the next point visited, appears on the Minutes, as
stated in a former chapter, in 1837, with Rev. H.W. Frink as Pastor.
During this year Brother Frink formed a class at Sheboygan, consisting
of the following members: Mr. and Mrs. Morris Farmin, Uriel Farmin,
Benjamin Farmin, Mr. and Mrs. Elder Farmin, and Mr. and Mrs. McCreedy.
At the close of this year Sheboygan disappears from the list of
appointments, but in 1843 the Manitowoc mission appears with Rev. D.
Lewis as Pastor, and Sheboygan, it will be recollected, is named as one
of the appointments. In 1845, however, the name re-appears, and Rev.
Joseph T. Lewis was sent to the charge. From this time until 1849 the
strength of the circuit consisted largely in the outlying appointments.
But at this date Sheboygan Falls was erected into a separate charge,
taking from Sheboygan its several interior appointments.
Rev. Daniel Stansbury, the Pastor, had commenced his labors in 1849, and
was now on his second year. The Membership numbered only thirty-three,
but Brother Stansbury had achieved a great work in the erection of a
large and convenient Church edifice. I had visited the village the
preceding year, as before stated, to dedicate the German Church, and had
formed a very agreeable acquaintance with this truly noble man and his
most estimable family.
Brother Stansbury was from Baltimore, and brought with him to Wisconsin
a goodly portion of the warm and cheerful type of Baltimore Methodism.
He was received on trial by the Wisconsin Conference in 1849, and hence
Sheboygan was his first appointment. His subsequent appointments were
Janesville, Union, Portage City, Beaver Dam, Berlin and Janesville
District. In July of his second year on the District, and while
preaching at his Quarterly Meeting on Cambridge circuit, he was stricken
down by paralysis. He was taken to his home in Janesville, where he
lingered in extreme feebleness until Oct. 28, when he died in
Brother Stansbury was a man of warm impulses, practical mind, and
abundant labors. In the protracted meeting, his rare gifts of prayer
and exhortation, made his labors a grand success, and, in the bright
world beyond, it will be found that his comparatively short ministry
gathered a large harvest of souls.
I next visited Sheboygan Falls. The charge first appears on the Minutes
in 1849, it having been created out of the interior portions of the
Sheboygan circuit. Its first Pastor, as we have seen, was Rev. David
Lewis. In 1850, the following year, Rev. Matthias Himebaugh was
appointed to the work. At this time the field embraced fifteen
appointments, and required the travel of two hundred miles each month.
Like his predecessors, Revs. J.S. Prescott and D. Lewis, Brother
Himebaugh traveled this circuit on foot. The Society in the village
consisted of thirteen members, and included the names of Mr. and Mrs. L.
Cheeseman, Mr. and Mrs. Parrish, Mr. and Mrs. Goodell, Mr. and Mrs.
Sully, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, Mr. and Mrs. Waite, and others.
The public meetings were held in a school house outside of the village,
and the prayer meetings in private houses. A lot had been purchased for
a Church and Parsonage, and the latter had been partly built. On the
arrival of Brother Himebaugh a hall was obtained in the village for the
meetings, and soon after he commenced a subscription for a Church.
A revival occurred during the winter, and there were a goodly number of
accessions, but they did not bring very much financial strength. The
Society, though small and in moderate circumstances, were very
enterprising and generous in their effort to erect a Church, subscribing
towards the building one-fifth of their entire property. Having secured
pledges, amounting to twelve hundred dollars, the Pastor now led a
strong force of volunteer laborers in the manual labor of the
undertaking. Felling the first tree for the timber in the woods with his
own hands, Brother Himebaugh gave the keynote to the movement. Nor did
he stay his hand until he had expended sixty days of labor.
After accomplishing what he could at home, he visited Milwaukee,
Chicago, and several towns and cities in the Erie, Pittsburgh and
Genesee Conferences, to obtain aid to complete the enterprise. The
edifice, forty by sixty, with a basement, was so far completed that the
lecture-room was ready for dedication in December, 1851. With this good
work accomplished, our Quarterly Meeting at Sheboygan Falls was an
occasion of great rejoicing.
Brother Himebaugh entered the Erie Conference in 1839, then twenty years
of age. His first circuit was Red Bank, on the Alleghany Mountains. At
the end of eleven years he was transferred to the Wisconsin Conference,
and Sheboygan Falls was his first charge. After leaving this work, he
was stationed in the North Ward charge in Fond du Lac. Here he also did
a good work towards completing the Church edifice, which had been begun
by Brother Prescott. He also had a good revival during the year.
In 1853, Brother Himebaugh was stationed at Oshkosh, where he performed
prodigies of labor, preaching during a portion of the first year, on
every other Sabbath, four sermons, and walking fourteen miles. He also
gathered large accessions, which rendered the charge self-sustaining
His subsequent appointments have been: Madison, Madison District,
Appleton, Appleton District, Agent of Lawrence University, and Assistant
Superintendent of the Western Seaman's Friend Society. At the present
writing, he still holds the last named position, and represents the
Bethel interests in this city. He is yet strong physically and
intellectually, and bids fair to give to the good cause many
Oshkosh was the next place visited. Instead of finding, as in 1845, a
few small cabins, I now found a respectable village and a
The first Methodist sermon delivered in Oshkosh was preached by the
veteran pioneer, Rev. Jesse Halstead, at the residence of Mr. Webster
Stanley, in 1841. The place was now taken into the list of his
appointments, and was supplied by Brother Halstead with considerable
At a subsequent visit he was accompanied by his Presiding Elder, Rev.
James R. Goodrich. The services were again held in the residence of Mr.
Stanley, and at this meeting, which was held in the fall of 1841, the
first class was formed. The members were: Ira Aikin, Mrs. Aikin, his
mother, Rachel Aikin, his sister, Mrs. Chester Ford, Miss Ann Brooks,
and Mrs. Electa Wright. Brother Aikin was the first Leader, but soon
after Brother William W. Wright and his wife becoming members, the
Leadership passed over to Brother Wright. Before other provision was
made, the meetings were held at the residences of Mr. Stanley, Mrs.
Electa Wright and William W. Wright, but subsequently they passed to the
school house and ultimately to the Court House.
In 1842, Rev. John P. Gallup was appointed to the Winnebago Lake
Mission. His plan of labor gave to Oshkosh every fourth Sabbath, and the
intervening time was filled by Rev. Clark Dickinson, a highly esteemed
Local Preacher, and others. A revival occurred this year that brought
into the Church the larger portion of the people living in Oshkosh
Rev. Harvey S. Bronson was the Pastor in 1843, and was succeeded the
following year by Rev. Joseph H. Hurlbut. The first Church edifice was
erected under the Pastorate of Rev. Robert Everdell in 1851. Being the
Presiding Elder of the District at that time, the writer performed the
dedicatory service. The building was enlarged in 1856 and again in 1861.
Under the Pastorate of Rev. Wm. P. Stowe there were large accessions,
and he found it necessary to enlarge again, when in 1870 the writer was
called to preach the re-opening sermon.
The mother charge at this writing ranks among the leading stations of
the Conference, and rejoices in the companionship of two promising
daughters. The first is located on the South Side, where a lot was
purchased and the contract for a building let, under the Pastorate of
Rev. J.M. Walker, in 1868. The charge was organized the following year,
and under the successive Pastorates of Revs. C.W. Brewer and Joseph
Anderson, the Church was completed and the station assigned an honorable
place in the Conference. The other, located in the Western part of the
city, was erected into a separate charge at the last Conference session,
a Chapel having been previously built.
Fond du Lac District Continued.--Green Bay.--First Settlement.--Rev.
John Clark.--First Sermon.--First Class.--Col. Ryan.--First
Methodist.--First Church Enterprise.--Good Society.--Heretical
Bonnet.--Various Changes.--Rev. R.P. Lawton--Church
Disaster--Purifying the Temple--Rev. S.W. Ford.--Oneida Indian
Jake."--Interpreter.--Rev. Henry Requa.--His Dying Message.
Green Bay, the next point visited, is the oldest town within the bounds
of the Wisconsin Conference. Its site was explored by Jean Nicollet in
1639, but its settlement did not begin for more than a century
thereafter. In 1785 it contained seven families, and in 1816 there were
one hundred and fifty inhabitants located in the village and its
vicinity. The population now began to increase more rapidly, and in 1819
there were sixty dwellings and five hundred inhabitants.
Green Bay was made a United States trading port in 1815, with Col. John
Bowyer as Indian Agent. And on the 16th of July of the following year,
Col. John Miller commenced the erection of Fort Howard. The first frame
house built, and perhaps the first in the State, was erected in 1825, by
Col. E. Childs.
Col. Samuel Ryan came to Green Bay in 1826 and was the first Methodist,
as far as I have been able to ascertain, who settled within the bounds
of the Wisconsin Conference, and was probably the first in the State.
From the time of his arrival until 1833, the religious Meetings were
held in the Garrison school house and in an old Commissary store.
Thereafter, and until a Church was erected, the services were held in a
new yellow school house, or in the Garrison building at Fort Howard.
At the General Conference, which was held in Philadelphia in 1832,
action was taken looking to the extension of the Missionary work of the
Church in the Northwest. In furtherance of this object, Rev. John Clark,
then of the New York Conference, was sent out as Superintendent of the
work. This eminent Minister and able administrator, whose special record
I need not enter in these pages, as his Life has been published, arrived
at Green Bay July 21st, 1832. Immediately after his arrival he began his
labors, preaching the first Methodist sermon within the limits of the
present boundaries of the Wisconsin Conference. The sermon was delivered
in the Fort, to both soldiers and citizens.
The first class was formed by Brother Clark immediately after, the
services being held also in the Fort. This class consisted of four
members, as follows: Col. Samuel Ryan, Sen., Mrs. Sherman, Mrs. Gen.
Brooke, and a young man whose name cannot be given. Mrs. Brooke was the
wife of the Commandant of the Fort, and Col. Ryan was the Leader.
Col. Ryan was born in Ireland, May 22d, 1789, and in early youth entered
upon the military profession. He was in the engagement between the
Shannon and Chesapeake off Boston Harbor, fought June 1st, 1813, and
during the conflict was severely wounded. He was converted at Sackett's
Harbor, N.Y., under the ministry of Rev. Mr. Irwin, in 1821. In 1822 and
'23, he resided at Sault St. Marie, and while there was Leader of a
class. During the year there was no Minister at the Sault, but Brother
Ryan held religious services regularly among the soldiers, and as the
fruit of his labors, seventy souls were converted. On coming to Green
Bay, as above stated, in 1826, he resumed his labors, and continued to
devote himself to the good work in that locality for twenty-six years.
The Land Office, in which he held the first place, being now, 1852,
removed to Menasha, he also took up his residence in that village.
Brother Ryan was a man of ardent temperament, full of vivacity, and not
a little eccentric, but a true soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ. As in
his youth his dauntless spirit never cowered in the presence of an
earthly foe, so, in maturer years, he was a fearless champion for the
spiritual reign of the Master. Honored by all, the Patriarch is now,
"leaning upon the top of his staff," with his dimned eye looking across
the river, ready to move on at any moment.
One of the early laborers at Green Bay was Rev. George White, who came
from Oneida Conference, N.Y. He was stationed at Green Bay in 1835,
Brother Clark having been assigned to the Presiding Eldership. Under the
labors of the new Pastor, the work continued to prosper. On the 2d day
of February, 1835, Brother Clark reported to the Christian Advocate and
Journal as follows: "Brother White is in the spirit of his work, and the
Lord is blessing his labors in the conversion of souls, both in the Fort
and among the citizens."
The first Church enterprise was entered upon in 1836, when a lot was
donated to the Society for the purpose of erecting a Church edifice. The
Deed was given on the 6th day of September, 1836, by John Jacob Astor,
Ramsey Crooks, Emily Crooks, Robert Stewart and Eliza Stewart, and was
executed by James Duane Doty, their attorney. The Trustees of the
Society, to whom the Deed was made, were Philip W. Nicholas, Francis
McCarty, George White, Thomas P. Green, William White, Edwin Hart, and
John P. Gallup. The edifice was completed during the year, but in the
effort the Society became seriously involved, and were compelled to
mortgage the property. The indebtedness hung as an incubus on the
Society for ten years, and finally, through some strange mismanagement,
the property was sold at a great sacrifice to the Roman Catholics.
At the session of the Illinois Conference, held Sept. 27, 1837, Rev.
Philip W. Nicholas was sent to Green Bay, and Rev. Salmon Stebbins was
assigned to the District. The congregations had now become highly
respectable both in numbers and position. Hon. M.L. Martin had settled
at Green Bay, and his good lady, who was a Methodist, had become a
member of the Society. Sister Martin had been raised in affluent
circumstances, and was a lady of fine culture and rare judgment. Her
husband, a member of the legal profession, and subsequently a Delegate
to Congress and Member of the Constitutional Convention of the State,
was a man of good attainments and superior abilities. His family not
only formed the nucleus of cultivated society, but also furnished a
pleasant home for the Itinerant.
Besides this excellent and cultured family, the congregation embraced
Col. Ryan and family, as before stated, Mrs. Gen. Brooke, and Mrs. Capt.
Kirby Smith, whose husband was killed in the Mexican War, she being now
the wife of Gen. Eaton, Quartermaster General of the U.S.A. In addition,
Gov. and Mrs. Doty were constant attendants upon the Chapel, as were
also Gen. and Mrs. Marcy, whose daughter, Mrs. George B. McClellan, was
born here, and the most excellent of all the officers, Capt. Merrill and
his young wife.
Referring to the class of society that constituted at first the class
and congregation at Green Bay, reminds me of a case of Church discipline
which occurred there about the days of which I am now writing. It
happened on this wise:
One of the young members of the class, and perhaps the youngest, for she
had but recently come West as the bride of a distinguished citizen whose
name has already been mentioned, had become the owner of a new bonnet.
The lady herself had never, though fashionably raised, shown a fondness
for gaudy apparel, but, being obliged to send to Detroit for all
millinery accommodations, she sometimes felt constrained to wear
articles that were not selected in harmony with her tastes. The new
bonnet fell somewhat into this category. If I were gifted in that line,
I would attempt a description of the new comer, but, as I am not, I will
simply say it was made in the height of the then fashion, with a small
crown and a very high, flaring front, with ornaments atop. On the
Sabbath following its arrival, the good sister put on her bonnet as
innocently as in childhood she had ever said "Our Father" at her
mother's knee, and went to Church. She walked modestly to her seat,
bowed her head as usual, and the services proceeded. She certainly felt
devout, and she had not the remotest idea that there was anything in the
Church that could disturb the devotion of others. But alas! for poor
human nature. A horrible nightmare was that moment lurking under the
wings of the beautiful dream of our innocent sister. In that highly
respectable congregation, there were evil eyes that could not look at
the Minister or close in prayer. They were fixed upon the gaudy bonnet.
At the close of the services comment was rife. Some of the good plain
people christened the newly arrived, "The Methodist Flower-Pot," while
others looked exceedingly unhappy. But there was one resolute brother
who could not permit matters to go on in this way, and hence the case
was brought before the Church. The zealous brother stated the case and
declared that if Mr. Wesley's rule in regard to "high heads and enormous
bonnets" meant anything, this was "the time to put it to the test and
prove its efficacy." He further stated that it was "better to begin at
the top round of the ladder and work down, rather than take up some
offending sister from a lower round as an example." Of course all things
were now ready for a decapitation, but judge of the surprise of the
brother, when the good sister showed herself not to be very
"high-headed," though big-bonneted, by offering the offensive article to
her accuser, to manipulate into orthodox form, if he were pleased to do
so, otherwise it would have to remain, like Mordecai at the King's gate,
steadfast and immovable.
The bonnet was not manipulated, and the good sister continued to wear
what neither her accuser nor any other person in Green Bay could put
into another form.
Before the expiration of his second year, Brother Nicholas gave up the
Pastorate of the charge, and his place was supplied by Rev. Stephen P.
Keyes. In 1839, Rev. F.A. Chenoweth was appointed to the charge, and
Rev. Julius Field was assigned to the District. In 1840 Green Bay was
left to be supplied, and Rev. Boyd Phelps was employed as the supply,
and the charge was assigned to Platteville District, with Rev. H.W. Reed
as Presiding Elder. The following year, 1841, the Green Bay District was
formed, with Rev. James R. Goodrich as the Presiding Elder, and his name
appears also as Pastor of the charge, but it is probable that Brother
Phelps also assisted him in the Pastorate as a supply. In 1842 the
appointments remained the same, but in 1843 Rev. G.L.S. Stuff was
appointed to the station. Brother Stuff and Brother Keyes are remembered
with great pleasure at Green Bay, as men of sterling qualities and
marked ability, but as their labors have mostly fallen within the Rock
River Conference, their record will doubtless be made in connection with
that field. In 1844, Rev. Wm. H. Sampson was appointed to the District,
as stated elsewhere, and Rev. C.N. Wager to the station. He was followed
in 1845 by Rev. T.P. Bingham, and the year following by Rev.
Brother Lawton entered the Rock River Conference this year, and in this,
his first appointment, acquitted himself creditably. As this good
brother, who may be set down as one of the pioneers of the Conference,
began his labors, so he has continued to the present hour. His
appointments after leaving Green Bay, have been Dixon, Ill., Delavan,
Mineral Point, Waukesha, Reed Street, Milwaukee, Palmyra, Grafton, Root
River, Elkhorn, Delavan, East Troy, Evansville, Rosendale, Wautoma,
Plover, New London, Hart Prairie, Utter's Corners, Footville, and
Jefferson, where he is located at this writing. Brother Lawton is a good
preacher, has a genial spirit, and is devoted to his work. He has passed
over the greater portion of the Conference, and has a host of friends
wherever he has been stationed.
Rev. A.B. Randall was sent to Green Bay in 1847, and it was during this
year that the Church edifice was sold. This Church was dedicated,
doubtless, by Rev. John Clark, and had been used for ten years for
religious purposes, yet it is surprising to find how much of time and
labor it required to purify it after it fell into the hands of the
Catholics. I am told that they spent days of labor and nights of vigil,
exhausted miniature rivulets of holy water, and pounds of precious
"gems, frankincense, and myrrh," exorcising the devils and scattering
the Methodist imps of darkness from the holy place.
The balance of the money, after paying the indebtedness, was applied to
the purchase of the Second Church, which was still in use at the time
of my visit.
On coming to Green Bay I found Rev. Seth W. Ford as Pastor, who was
commencing his second year on the charge. He was in the midst of a
revival, and the charge appeared to be in a prosperous condition. The
Quarterly Meeting passed off very pleasantly, and gave me the
opportunity to share the hospitality of Hon. M.L. Martin and his
excellent family. I also visited the Fort, and had the pleasure to enjoy
the companionship of Col. Ryan and his family.
Brother Ford entered the Conference in 1845, as a classmate of the
writer, and passed with him through the course of graduation. I have
referred in a former chapter to the seven sessions through which we
passed between the upper and nether millstones. Whether the result was
flour or bran in the estimation of the Committee would have been forever
hidden from us, doubtless, had not the good brethren, after our election
to Elder's orders, moved that Brother Ford and myself be a Committee to
examine those of the class who had not been before the Committee. With
our own experience fresh in our minds, I have no doubt the balance of
the class had an easy passage.
Brother Ford's fields of labor had been Hamilton Grove, Macomb, and
Oneida Indian Mission. In each he had made a good record, and was now
rapidly rising in his Conference. Since he left Green Bay he has
continued to hold good appointments, and has served his Conference six
times as its Secretary. Though slender in form, and apparently not
vigorous in health, he has nevertheless taken his full share of work
and is highly respected by his brethren.
The Oneida Indian Mission, lying twelve miles to the northwest of Green
Bay, next claimed my attention. Seated in my buggy, I was soon at the
Parsonage, where I found Rev. Henry Requa, the Missionary, and his
The Oneidas came from the State of New York. A few of them came as early
as 1821, but through some hitch in the negotiations with the Menomonees
for the lands constituting the Reservation, the removal did not become
general until 1832. Meantime, a Mission had sprung up among the western
branch of the nation. In 1829 a young Mohawk, who had been converted in
Canada, began the good work and established meetings. Among the early
Missionaries the names of Rev. Mr. Poe and Rev. John Clark are
especially fragrant, but I have been unable to find satisfactory data
until 1840, when Rev. Henry R. Colman was appointed to the Mission.
Brother Colman remained until 1845, when he was succeeded by Rev. C.G.
Lathrop. Brother Ford followed next, and remained until 1850, when he
was succeeded by Brother Requa. Meantime, the old log church had given
place to a respectable frame edifice. There was also a good frame
Parsonage, occupied by the Missionary, and a school house, in which a
school was kept either by the Missionary or some one employed by him.
The membership at this time numbered one hundred and twenty-five.
The Quarterly Meeting was held on Saturday and Sabbath, as on the other
charges. On Saturday the Quarterly Conference was held, composed of the
official members, but it was somewhat unique in its method of
transacting its business. The Conference was opened with singing and
prayer. The next thing in order was an address from the Elder, or "Big
Missionary," as he is called. The address simply expressed the
gratification of the Elder with his visit, and the encouraging things he
has heard of the good work of God among them, and then suggested such
items of business as would require their attention. This done, I took my
seat, for what more could I do. The business must now be done in a
strange language, and in the method of the red man. After sitting in
absolute silence for some minutes, the head Chief of the Nation, "Big
Jake," as he is called, being one of the Stewards, turned to a brother
on his right and spoke a few words, and received a reply. Then turning
to another, he did the same, and thus continued to address each
personally, until all had been consulted. At intervals there were long
pauses, indicative, as I judged, of the gravity of the matter to be
considered. At the end of an hour the Council had completed its work.
The Chief then arose in a very dignified manner, but without
ostentation, and, calling to his aid an interpreter, proceeded to reply
to the opening address. He began his speech by expressing thanks, on
behalf of himself and people, that the "Big Missionary" had come once
more to see them. He next referred to the good work that had been
performed by the Missionary, and the special blessing of God upon his
people. And in conclusion, he reported the items of business they had
considered, and the action taken in each case. If anything further was
desired at any time, it was always presented in a most respectful
manner. In this case it was represented that they needed some repairs on
the Church, and a bell, and they desired that the Missionary might be
permitted to go abroad and raise the necessary funds. Permission was
granted, and the Missionary, taking several fine singers of the Nation
with him, went to New York, Boston, and other places, and secured the
At the close of the public services came the hand shaking. The
Missionary understood the matter and detained me in the Altar for a
moment, Commencing with the ladies and ending with the children, every
person in the Church came forward and shook hands with the Elder.
I was greatly pleased with "Chief Jake." He was a man of stalwart frame,
standing with head and shoulders above the people around him. That giant
frame supported a large head, adorned by an expressive face. His
movement was dignified simply because he was a born nobleman, and did
not know how to appear other than like a prince. He was benevolent and
tender to all who were trying to do right, but he was a terror to
evil-doers. Standing for his people or the rights of the oppressed, he
was absolutely invincible.
Brother Requa entered the Conference in 1847, after having been employed
one year as second preacher at Waupun. He was appointed to Brothertown
in 1847, to Lowell in 1848, and Fond du Lac in 1849, Here his health
partially failed, and, in consequence, he was sent to Oneida. From the
first, Brother Requa attracted attention as a Preacher. The first time I
heard him was at the Camp-Meeting at Sun Prairie, in the summer of 1846.
He had only recently been converted, and was now called out to exhort at
the close of a sermon. He had been known in the community as an Infidel,
which greatly increased the interest felt by all when he arose to speak.
But the first utterance of his eloquent tongue, so full of feeling and
so decided in its tone, disarmed all criticism. As he advanced, he threw
off restraint, until he was master of himself and the congregation.
Once free, he seemed to lose sight of all but the condition of a
perishing world. With lost men he reasoned, expostulated, entreated,
until it seemed that the whole audience was moving towards the Altar.
While at Oneida, as before stated, he went East to raise funds for the
Mission. Wherever he went, he was recognized as a man of rare eloquence.
Throngs followed him from Church to Church, and, as might be expected,
his mission was a great success. On his return with the bell, the people
were overjoyed. For the first week after it was hung in the steeple, it
was kept going, almost night and day. The friends came from every part
of the reservation, and no one was satisfied until his own hand pulled
the rope. And so high did the enthusiasm run that one man said, "As soon
as we get able, we will put one on every house in Oneida." After Brother
Requa left Oneida, he served one year as Agent of Lawrence University,
and was specially engaged in raising an Indian Scholarship Fund. His
appointments subsequently were: Janesville, Fond du Lac District,
Oshkosh, Sheboygan Falls, Sheboygan, Brandon and Ripon. In March, 1865,
his second year at Ripon, he went as a Delegate of the Christian
Commission to the army. His field of labor was Little Rock, Ark. While
here he was taken ill with the chronic diarrhoea, and on the 19th of May
departed to his home above. During his illness, he was attended by his
old friend, Brother A. B. Randall. Just before he died, he requested his
attendant to bear this message to his brethren of the Wisconsin
Conference: "Tell them that Henry Requa died at his post." He then
added, "Take my ashes back to be interred among my brethren. I have
labored with them for twenty years past, trying to preach Jesus. My
present acceptance with God is a great comfort to me now. I am very
unworthy, but I believe there are some in glory who call me father. In
looking over my whole life I cannot see an act upon which I would risk
the salvation of my soul; the best of them need washing in the blood of
Jesus. I know I have a home in glory. How precious Jesus is. Jesus, I
love thee for what thou hast done for me. I will praise thee forever."
Brother Requa was a man of ardent temperament, and at times impulsive,
but he was a true man and a faithful minister. His attachments were
strong and abiding. He loved the work in which he was engaged, and was
very generally popular among the people. A born Radical, he was liable
to push matters beyond what more conservative minds deemed wise, and it
is possible that in some instances his extreme methods defeated his
purpose, but even then, no one questioned the rectitude of his heart. In
the death of Brother Requa the Conference sustained a severe loss. His
remains were interred in College Hill Cemetery, at Ripon.
Fond du Lac District Continued.--Appleton.--Early History.--Rev. C.G.
Lathrop--Lawrence University.--Incipient Stages.--Charter.--Trustees.
Agent.--First Board of Instruction.--Buildings.--Faculty.--Rev. Dr.
Cooke.--Rev. Dr. Cobleigh.--Rev. Dr. Mason.--Rev. Dr. Knox.--Rev.
Leaving Oneida, I next visited Appleton, where I was kindly received by
Rev. C.G. Lathrop, the Pastor, and his good wife. Though three years had
scarcely passed since the echoes of the woodman's axe first rang through
the forests of this locality, yet I found Appleton to be a village of
considerable pretensions. The location of Lawrence University at this
point, and the great promise of business, given by its almost
unparalleled water-power, had already drawn together an enterprising
community. Good buildings had been erected, and the village was putting
on an air of thrift.
The first sermon preached in Appleton, and probably in Outagamie County,
was delivered by Rev. Wm. H. Sampson, Oct. 8, 1848, in a shanty occupied
by Brother John F. Johnson and family. The first class was formed by
Rev. A. B. Randall, the Pastor of Oshkosh circuit, whose charge included
Appleton, in February, 1849. The first members were Robert R. Bateman,
Leader, Robert S. Bateman, Mary Bateman, Amelia Bateman, Electa Norton,
Theresa Randall, L. L. Randall, J.F. Johnson and D.W. Briggs. Brother
Randall organized the first Sunday School in March, 1849, with Robert R.
Bateman as Superintendent.
The meetings were held in private houses until the Chapel of the
Institute was ready for use. They were held in the Chapel thereafter
until the first Church was erected. In June, 1854, the corner-stone of
the Church was laid by Edwin Atkinson, Dr. Edward Cooke officiating. The
lecture-room was occupied during the following winter, and the Church
was dedicated by Dr. N.E. Cobleigh in June, 1855.
The Quarterly Meeting, the first held in Appleton, was convened in the
Institute Chapel, Sept 27, 1851. The members of the Quarterly Conference
present were C.G. Lathrop, R.O. Kellogg, Jabez Brooks, D.L. Atwell,
George E. Havens, Charles Levings, John Day, H.L. Blood, A.C. Darling,
L.L. Randall, D.C. Weston, William Rork, and J.F. Johnson. The meeting
was well attended, and the services indicated a healthy spiritual
Rev. Curtis G. Lathrop entered the Rock River Conference in 1842, and
his first appointment was Aztalan. Before coming to Appleton he had been
stationed at Lancaster, Oneida Indian Mission, Green Lake and Fall
River. After leaving Appleton his fields of labor have been Green Bay,
Oneida, Indian Mission, Presiding Elder of Watertown District, Menasha,
Neenah, Waupaca, Dartford, Fox Lake, Vinland and Randolph. He took a
superannuated relation in 1868, but during 1870 and 1871 he was able to
serve as Chaplain of the Western Seaman's Friend Society, at Washington
Island. Having removed to Nebraska, he was made effective in 1874 and
transferred to the Nebraska Conference.
Brother Lathrop is a man of vigorous mental endowments. He is an able
Preacher, has a reliable judgment, and possesses a kind spirit. He hates
shams and thoroughly detests the superficial. He never hangs out a flag
to catch the popular breeze, and does not turn the prow of his craft
down the stream. His convictions are strong, but Curtis G. Lathrop is
the soul of integrity, and is most highly appreciated where best known.
The Lawrence University, located at Appleton, deserves special notice,
it being the first, and, at the present writing, the only school of the
Church within the bounds of the Conference.
In the Spring of 1846, Rev. Wm. H. Sampson received a letter from H.
Eugene Eastman, Esq., of Green Bay, informing him that a gentleman in
Boston, Mass., proposed to donate ten thousand dollars to found a school
in the West. And as the gentleman entertained an exalted opinion of the
adaptations of the Methodist Church to the work contemplated, he was
authorized to give the proposition that direction. The conditions on
which the trust must be accepted were, that the School should be located
on the Fox River between Neenah and Green Bay, and that an additional
ten thousand dollars should be contributed by other parties.
Brother Sampson submitted the proposition to the Conference, which met
in August, and was instructed by that body to continue the
correspondence, and, if possible, reduce the negotiations to a
In December following, Rev. Reeder Smith, who had been employed as Agent
of the School at Albion, Mich., came to Fond du Lac, bearing the
proposition directly from Hon. Amos A. Lawrence, the gentleman referred
to. Not finding Brother Sampson at home, he went down to Brothertown and
secured the co-operation of Rev. H.R. Colman in making an exploration of
the Fox River. They went to Green Bay, thence to Kaukauna, and,
accompanied by George W. Law, Esq., thence to Grand Chute, the present
site of Appleton. After looking over the grounds now constituting the
campus of the University, they passed on to Oshkosh, and thence to
Fond du Lac.
Brother Sampson had now returned, and it was decided to hold a meeting
in Milwaukee for consultation. The meeting was convened December 2 8th,
1846, and was composed of the following members of the Conference: Wm.
H. Sampson, Henry R. Colman, Washington Wilcox, and Wm. M.D. Ryan. To
these were added Reeder Smith, Geo. E.H. Day, and doubtless several
others whose names I have not been able to learn. At this meeting a
Charter was drafted for the Lawrence Institute, and Rev. Reeder Smith
was sent to Madison to lay it before the Legislature. The Charter
received the signature of Gov. Dodge, Jan. 17, 1847, and the following
gentlemen were constituted the first Board of Trustees: Henry Dodge,
Loyal H. Jones, Jacob L. Bean, Wm. H. Sampson, N.P. Talmadge, Henry R.
Colman, H.S. Baird, Wm. Dutcher, M. C. Darling, M.L. Martin, Geo. E.H.
Day, D.C. Vosburg, and Reeder Smith.
The first meeting of the Board was to have been held in Fond du Lac,
June 30, 1847, but as there was not a quorum present, the meeting was
adjourned to Sept. 3d. At this meeting the Board was duly organized by
the election of the following officers: Hon. M.C. Darling, President;
Hon. N.P. Talmadge, First Vice President; H.S. Baird, Esq., Second Vice
President; Rev. Wm. H. Sampson, Secretary, and Hon. Morgan L. Martin,
Treasurer. Rev. Reeder Smith was appointed Agent.
Geo. W. Law, Esq., and Hon. John F. Mead now offered a donation of
thirty-one acres of land each, on condition that the Institute should be
located at Grand Chute. The offer was accepted, and the location was
made, the name of the place being soon after changed to Appleton. In due
time the Law Tract was conveyed to the Trustees, but, by some strange
mismanagement, to say the least, on the part of the Agent, the Mead land
was conveyed to another party, and it was lost to the Institute.
At the Conference of 1848, Brother Sampson was appointed Principal, and
was expected to serve as Agent until the building to be erected was
ready for occupancy. In pursuance of this arrangement he left Fond du
Lac, Sept. 7th, to enter upon his new field of operations. He took the
steamer to Neenah, and then obtained an Indian "Dug-out" for the balance
of the journey. As the craft carried no sail, he was compelled to put
her before the "white ash breeze" across Lake Butte des Morts, and down
the river to the point of destination, his craft being nearly swamped by
a gale on the Lake.
On the 8th of September he began to cut a road to the grounds and clear
the brush from the campus, thereby making the beginning of both the
Institute and the city of Appleton. The lumber for the building of the
Preparatory Department was purchased of Hon. M.L. Martin, and was
delivered at Duck Creek. The timber was furnished by Col. H.L. Blood.
Through the indomitable energy of Col. Blood and the co-operation of the
agents, the building, seventy by thirty feet in size, and three stories
high, was ready to receive students on the 12th day of November, 1849.
The Faculty with which the school opened were Rev. Wm. H. Sampson,
Principal, Rev. R.O. Kellogg, Professor of Ancient Languages, Mr. James
M. Phinney, Professor of Mathematics, and Miss Emeline M. Crooker,
Preceptress. The first catalogue, published in the fall of 1850, showed
a list of one hundred and five students, which was certainly a very
creditable beginning. The name of the Institute was now changed to
A record of the early years of struggle and sacrifice necessary to found
the University would fill a volume, and cannot be given at length in
these pages. Having been a member of the Board for nearly a quarter of a
century, I could say much of the noble men who performed double service
on half pay, but such a recital cannot here be given.
Rev. Dr. Edward Cooke was installed President of the University June 29,
1853. At the same time the corner stone of the College building was laid
by Hon. M.C. Darling, Rev. Alfred Bronson, D.D., delivering the address.
The edifice, a substantial stone structure, one hundred and twenty by
sixty feet, and five stories high, was pushed forward to an early
completion by the untiring energy of the agents, Rev. J.S. Prescott and
Col. H.L. Blood. For college purposes the building ranked among the
first in the West.
In both Students and Faculty Lawrence University has been fortunate from
the beginning. As to the former, she has sent out not a few
representative men to the several occupations of life, several of whom
will find mention in these pages. As to the latter, she has enjoyed the
labors of a class of instructors whose names have found an honorable
place in both the clerical and literary circles of the Commonwealth.
Of Rev. Wm. H. Sampson, the first head of the Faculty, a record has been
made in a former chapter, and it would afford me pleasure to refer at
length to the several members of the first Faculty, as also to all the
Professors who have followed, but I find it will be impossible to do so
in these brief pages.
Rev. Edward Cooke, D.D., the first President, entered the New Jersey
Conference in 1843. He was a graduate of the Wesleyan University,
Middletown, Conn. His first appointment was Principal of the Pennington
Male Seminary, N.J. In 1847 he was transferred to the New England
Conference, and stationed at Saugus. His subsequent appointments were
Union Church Charlestown, D. Street, Centenary, and Hanover, of Boston,
Mass. He was transferred to the Wisconsin Conference in 1853, having
been elected President of the University. As a President he was very
popular, and during his administration of six years had the satisfaction
to see the Institution rise from a feeble preparatory school to a
full-fledged University. In addition to the ordinary duties of his
position, he was largely concerned with the financial matters of the
enterprise, but in every portion of the work Dr. Cooke showed great
wisdom, tact and devotion. And during his term he laid the friends of
education in the State under lasting obligations.
After leaving the University, he was stationed at Summerfield Church,
Milwaukee, but, returning to Boston at the close of his term, he was
elected Principal of the Wesleyan Academy, Wilbraham, Mass., where he
has enjoyed great success in his administration. Dr. Cooke is a man of
fine presence, and a good Preacher. Genial in spirit, full of anecdote
and well read, he is very companionable. He has a multitude of friends
Rev. Nelson E. Cobleigh, D.D., was elected Professor in 1854. He was
also a graduate of the Wesleyan University. On coming West, he was first
elected Professor in the McKendree College, Ill., from which position he
came to Appleton. His first visit to these "northern wilds," as
Appleton was then called, was a memorable one. It was a Commencement
occasion, and in connection with the other exercises, the annual
Missionary Meeting was held. Under the leadership of Dr. Cooke, Brother
Cobleigh was appointed to deliver one of the addresses. There were three
speakers appointed as usual, and the second place was assigned to Dr.
Cobleigh and the last to Dr. Cooke. The first speech, brief and to the
point, was made, and as Chairman I introduced Dr. Cobleigh. The speech
opened in a quiet, clear, and common-sense way, none expecting more than
a good, average effort. But before the speaker had proceeded far, his
sentences began to grow intense, and the blood began to shoot upward in
deep, livid lines along the neck and face, and wreathe his forehead. All
eyes were turned upon him, and each hearer began to feel the kindlings
of a strange inspiration. But the speaker was lost to everything except
his theme. He dashed on from one burning thought to another, carrying
his audience with him, in such storms of eloquence as had never before
enchanted the walls of the University Chapel.
At the expiration of a full hour, the great orator came to himself and
resumed his seat, amid the shouts of the people. As soon as quiet
intervened, I introduced Dr. Cooke. The Doctor came forward and stated
that as the speakers had been limited to thirty minutes each, and as his
good friend, Dr. Cobleigh, had used an hour, without any fault of his
own, however, as he could not help it, he would not attempt to make a
speech himself, but would adopt the last half of the last speech, which
was infinitely better than he could do if he were to speak. The fine
turn of the Doctor was taken with a good zest.
After serving the University several years, Dr. Cobleigh went back to
McKendree College as President. He next served as Editor of Zion's
Herald, in Boston, then was President of our College in Tennessee, and
at the last General Conference he was elected editor of the Advocate at
Atlanta, Ga. But his work was soon finished, and he passed on to join
the great and good who have entered the Heavenly gates.
Dr. R.Z. Mason came to the University as a Professor in 1855, and
continued to hold this position until the resignation of Dr. Cooke, when
he succeeded to the Presidency. He remained at this post until the
election of Dr. Steele, when he entered upon business pursuits in
Appleton. The Presidency of Dr. Mason was distinguished by great anxiety
and severe labor. Like the Presidents who went before, and those who
have followed, he was greatly burdened with the financial management.
The several schemes which had been adopted to secure an Endowment Fund
for the University, had not fully met expectations, and in consequence,
an indebtedness had been incurred. To lift this incumbrance became the
special concern of President Mason. He traveled over the State, visiting
the charges in person, and taking subscriptions wherever they could be
obtained. And I am happy to say that through his great ability in this
direction, and his unbounded persistence, the work was carried forward
to a grand success.
Rev. Loren L. Knox, D.D., was another member of the Faculty. Brother
Knox had also given the greater portion of his life to educational work.
His successful administration of the interests of leading institutions
of learning in the East had fully prepared the Board to expect in him a
valuable accession to the Faculty, and they were not disappointed. He
was found to be a thorough scholar, a wise and careful instructor, and
a Christian gentleman of the highest and purest style. After leaving the
University, Dr. Knox did good service in the pulpit for several years,
but, finally, his health so far failed that he was compelled to take a
superannuated relation. At the present writing he is residing at
Evanston, where he is giving such attention to literary work as he finds
himself able to perform.
Rev. Geo. M. Steele, D.D., the President of the University at this
present time, is a man of fine literary attainments, an able
administrator, a superior preacher, and a writer of pronounced
reputation. He is also a graduate of Middletown, and has had
considerable experience as an instructor. He was elected President of
the University in 1865, and has more than met the highest expectations
of the Board. In addition to his duties at the head of the Faculty, he
has given his personal attention largely to the financial interests of
the Institution. In this particular he has achieved a grand work, both
in managing the current expenditures, and in increasing the Endowment
Fund. The Doctor is a great acquisition to the University, and is highly
esteemed by his brethren. The Conference have delighted to honor him in
all appropriate ways, and especially in sending him to both General
Conferences which have occurred since he became a member of the body.
Having thus paid our respects to Appleton and the University, we are
prepared to pass on to other fields. To complete the round there were
two charges yet to visit, but as these will claim our attention
hereafter I need not refer to them now, except to give an incident that
transpired at the Quarterly Meeting held on one of them.
The meeting was held in a school house. The new schoolteacher, a nice
youngster, concluded to lead the singing. Gathering a few young people
around him, and displaying a tuning-fork, he was ready for the services
to begin. I gave the hymn commencing,
"Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove."
When I had finished the reading, the chorister arose with superlative
dignity, and gave the key. Unfortunately, the choir dropped a tone or
two too low, and the first verse was sung at that disadvantage.
Discovering the blunder, the key was again given, but the singers were
now getting nervous, and instead of rising, they went still lower, as
"Look how we grovel here below."
Certainly the chariot wheels of Pharaoh did not roll more heavily than
the numbers from that orchestra. I remembered old Balerma, and felt
deeply for them. But our young knight of the tuning-fork was not to be
vanquished. With a dash he brought the fork down upon the desk, and gave
the key again. But alas! for all human expectations! The choir dropped
down to a dead monotone, as they went on with the next verse:
"In vain we tune our formal songs,
In vain we strive to rise;
Hosannas languish on our tongues,
And our devotion dies."
Both the choir and congregation felt a relief when the Minister said,
"Let us pray."
Having completed the first round of the District, I returned to Fond du
Lac to begin the second. But it is not my purpose to give the details of
each round or year, as the labors of a Presiding Elder are too
monotonous to furnish a record that would be entertaining to the
Fond du Lac District Continued.--Baraboo Conference.--Lodi Camp
Meeting.--Fall River.--Revival at Appleton.--Rev. Elmore Yocum.--Revival
at Sheboygan Falls.--Revival at Fond du Lac.--Rev. E.S.
Grumley.--Revival at Sheboygan.--Rev. N.J. Aplin.--Camp-Meeting at
Greenbush.--Rev. A.M. Hulce.--Results of the Year.--Janesville
Conference.--Omro. Rev. Dr. Golden.--The Cowhams.--Quarterly
Meeting.--My Father's Death.--Close of the Term.
The Conference of 1852 was held at Fond du Lac, Sept. 1st, and was
presided over by Bishop Ames. This was the first Conference held by the
good Bishop after his election to his high office. The visit was also
the first the good people of Northern Wisconsin had enjoyed from a
Bishop of the Church. Both parties appeared delighted with the
On the Sabbath preceding the session of the Conference, the new Church
in the upper town was dedicated by the Bishop, the preachers of the
Conference generally being in attendance.
At this Conference I performed my first labor in the Cabinet. I felt the
responsibility to be one of great gravity, but sought to bear it in the
fear of God. In fact, the adjustment of the appointments had been the
subject of careful thought and earnest prayer during the last three
months of the year. From the first I felt that the adjustment of the
Ministers and their work required the nicest discrimination and the most
absolute self-abnegation. Resolving to discharge my duty fearlessly, and
yet fully in the spirit of the Golden Rule, I entered upon the
responsibility. Whether I succeeded or not, is a matter I have referred
to the day when "The Books" shall be opened.
There were but few changes made in the appointments in the District, as
I then cherished, as I have since, the conviction that changes, other
than by limitation, should only be made for grave reasons.
Fond du Lac was divided into two charges, Rev. M. Himebaugh, of whom a
record has been made, being sent to the North Ward, and Rev. Ezra Tucker
to the South Ward. The year in both charges was generally prosperous.
Brother Tucker was a new man in the work, and entered upon his labors
with great zeal. Having the new Church, and the inspiration usually
experienced in such cases, he was encouraged with an extraordinary
promise of success, but before the expiration of the year he fell sick,
and was compelled to suspend his labors. After resting two years he was
again able to resume work. He filled several appointments thereafter in
the Wisconsin Conference, and then removed to Minnesota, where, on both
stations and Districts, he has rendered effective service.
Rev. Jabez Brooks was appointed to Oshkosh, but as he was still needed
in the Professorship he had formerly held in the Lawrence University, I
changed his appointment. Brother Brooks subsequently filled out the
balance of Brother Tucker's year at Fond du Lac, and was then stationed
at Jackson Street, Milwaukee. He was subsequently made President of the
Hamline University, and at the present writing is Professor in the State
University of Minnesota. Dr. Brooks, for such is his present title, is a
prime man in every respect. Scholarly, logical, clear-headed,
kind-hearted and diligent, he is a general favorite, wherever known.
During this year a Camp-Meeting was held on the District. The ground
selected was Father Bower's Grove, on the east shore of Lake Butte des
Morts, six miles above Oshkosh. The meeting was held June 8th, 1853. The
attendance was good, there being ten tents on the ground, and there were
The year closed pleasantly, and on my way to the Conference, to be held
at Baraboo, Aug. 31st, I attended a Camp-Meeting at Lodi. The meeting
had been appointed with a view to intercept the Bishop and the Preachers
on their way to the Conference. The attendance was large and the meeting
spirited. Bishop Scott came early in the week, and before Friday night
there were not less than sixty-five Preachers in attendance. After
preaching twice, the Bishop left on Saturday, as he was to dedicate the
new Church in Baraboo on the Sabbath. As it was desirable also for the
Presiding Elder to go forward with the Bishop, I was requested to remain
and take charge of the Camp-Meeting until Monday. I consented on
condition that the Bishop would take the clergy with him to the
dedication. I selected a few men from the Fond du Lac District, and a
few others from the vicinity of the meeting to remain with me, and the
balance mostly went with the Bishop.
The change in the state of affairs, as I anticipated, was felt
immediately. The Laity, who must always form the basis of a successful
meeting, now came forward and took hold of the work. On Saturday night
the Spirit fell on the people in great power. Before the conclusion of
the sermon it was manifest that there would be, to change the reference,
an abundance of rain. In the Prayer Meeting which followed, not less
than thirty souls were converted. On Sabbath the meeting went forward
with great spirit. But the climax was not reached until Sabbath evening,
when, at the close of a sermon by Brother Himebaugh, the whole audience
seemed to respond to the invitations of the Gospel. The Altar was
thronged and the adjacent seats were filled far back into the
congregation. It was impossible to tell how many were forward as
seekers, or how many were converted, but those immediately engaged in
the work, expressed the belief that not less than one hundred persons
passed into the Kingdom of Grace.
The meeting had now received such momentum that it was impossible to
close it on Monday. It was put in charge of brethren who were not
immediately needed at the Conference, and was continued nearly the
On this trip to the Conference, I was permitted to enjoy the
companionship of Rev. N.J. Aplin, who rendered signal service in the
meeting on the Sabbath.
The Conference at Baraboo was one of unusual interest. The greetings of
the Preachers were cordial, as they always are where persons make
sacrifices and put forth labor in a common cause. It was the first visit
of Bishop Scott to the Conference, and his urbanity and self-sacrificing
labors endeared him to all. The business of the Conference was done in
the spirit of the Master, but an unhappy trial made the session a very
protracted one. This being the second year of my Presiding Eldership,
the Disciplinary limit required several removals, but I need not give
them in detail, as they can be ascertained, if desirable, by consulting
On our return from the Conference we reached Fall River on Saturday
evening, and remained there over the Sabbath. On arriving at the forks
of the roads on the crown of the prairie, the several Preachers who were
in company halted for a proper distribution among the good people. Rev.
A.P. Allen, the inimitable joker, who had served as Pastor on the
charge, installed himself master of ceremonies, and proceeded to divide
up the company. After assigning the balance to their respective
quarters, he said, "Now, I guess the young Presiding Elder and the old
Pastor had better go to Aunt Martha's, as that is the place where they
do up the chicken-fixings scientifically." We were delightfully
entertained by Rev. E.J. Smith and family, with whom, it will be
remembered, I became acquainted in 1845. On Sabbath morning, accompanied
by Brother and Sister Smith and their daughters, now Mrs. Pedrick and
Mrs. Coe, of Ripon, we attended religious services at the school house
in Fall River, where the serving fell to the lot of the writer.
At the beginning of the new year, special attention was given to the
finances in the several charges. And during the first round the work was
planned for the winter campaign. Fixing on the localities where I could
render special assistance to the Pastors, it was arranged to commence
the services with the Quarterly Meetings, and if the work should require
more than the following week, I could return after the succeeding
Quarterly Meeting had been held.
The first meeting was held at Appleton, Rev. Elmore Yocum being the
Pastor. This noble man, one of the excellent of the earth, came to the
Conference in 1849 by transfer from the North Ohio Conference, and was
appointed Presiding Elder of the Platteville District. At the close of
his term, he was stationed at Appleton, where his family could enjoy
special educational advantages. At the end of two years he was made
Presiding Elder of the Appleton District, and at the close of his term
went to the West Wisconsin Conference, as he had become identified with
the Educational Institution at Point Bluff. Both as Pastor and Presiding
Elder Brother Yocum was deservedly popular.
The meeting at Appleton awakened intense interest. The good work grew
upon our hands from day to day, until the business of the village was
largely suspended during the hours of religious service. All classes
fell under the good influence, and both students and citizens shared in
the result. One hundred and thirty souls were converted.
The next meeting was held at Sheboygan Falls. As I drove into the
village, the severest storm of the winter was raging, and by Sabbath
morning the snow was two feet in depth. During the following night the
winds piled it into drifts that made the roads nearly impassable. What
was to be done? The prospect certainly looked dubious. But it occurred
to me that a little preparation for the meeting would be of service, and
this could now be done before the crowd should rush in upon us. We
decided to go on. Illustrating the saying, "Where there's a will there's
a way," the good people opened the streets in the village, and a small
congregation was brought together. The Spirit of God came down in sweet,
melting influences, and, under the Divine inspiration, the faith of the
Church grew strong. Before the end of the week the place was filled, and
souls were being converted.
The Pastor was Rev. R.W. Barnes. And as soon as the meeting was well
established, the Pastors of the other Churches, Rev. Mr. Marsh, of the
Congregational, and Rev. Mr. Lull, of the Baptist, came in with their
people. They were received cordially, and set at work as opportunity
offered. Besides these, several of our own Laymen gave themselves almost
wholly to the work. Among these, Rev. L. Cheeseman, a Local Preacher,
and E.T. Bond, Esq., a merchant, deserve special mention. Too much
cannot be said in praise of these lay workers and the Church generally.
With their Pastor, they were instant in season and out of season. After
the regular labor of the evening was concluded, it was no uncommon thing
for them to organize a second meeting for such of the seekers as had not
obtained a satisfactory evidence of conversion. Here, in prayer and
Christian Conference, they would labor until midnight, and in some
instances until the dawn of day. The shout of victory usually signalled
the close of the meeting. A more thorough work than this I never
witnessed. I left the meeting twice before its close to attend to my
work elsewhere, and was brought back by a messenger. During the meeting
one hundred and fifty souls professed conversion, and among them were
both men and women, who have since shown themselves to be valiant
soldiers for Prince Immanuel.
The next meeting was held in the South Ward charge, Fond du Lac. The
Pastor, Rev. E.S. Grumley, who had been appointed to the charge at the
recent Conference, entered the North Ohio Conference in 1842. He had
been stationed at Lower Sandusky, Bucyrus, Ashland, Shanesville, Ohio
City, Tiffin, Sandusky City and Norwalk. Since his transfer to the
Conference in 1851, he had been two years at Council Hill. After filling
his term in Fond du Lac he was, for a full term, Presiding Elder on
Racine District. After leaving the District he continued to hold
respectable appointments until 1871, when his health failed and he was
compelled to take a superannuated relation.
Brother Grumley was a man of small frame and apparently of feeble
health, yet he was able to do effective work to the last. He had a
sound head, and a heart equally sound. He was a good Preacher, and a
superior Pastor. Revivals usually attended his labors, and he was always
highly esteemed by the people.
The meeting at Fond du Lac immediately followed the one at Sheboygan
Falls. With my family I left the latter place in time to reach Fond du
Lac at noon on Saturday. But through detention I was just driving into
the city as the bell was ringing for the service. Hastily caring for my
horse, I went immediately to the Church. Before the services were
concluded, I saw evident assurances that the Pastor had been making
careful preparation for the work before us. The opening sermon was
addressed to the Church, and found a ready and hearty response. Before
the Quarterly Meeting had passed, it was manifest that a glorious
revival was impending. Seekers of religion came to the Altar and found a
prepared Church to lead them to Christ. The meeting went on from night
to night, and before the end of the week, each night brought scores of
seekers. The good Pastor was now at home. In prayer, in exhortation, and
in labor at the side of the seeker, he was a tower of strength. Among
the laity there were also several excellent laborers, who rendered
valuable services in the meeting. The revival reached all classes, from
youth to old age, and gave to the Church many reliable accessions.
At the beginning, sister Churches joined largely in the meeting, but as
the work extended among their people, they opened meetings at their own
places of worship. The change, however, did not check the revival. It
swept on through the community, and all the Churches shared in the
harvest of souls.
During this year Sheboygan was also favored with a revival. Rev. N.J.
Aplin, the Pastor, came to Wisconsin during the previous year. He came
from Western New York, where he had been engaged in business, bringing a
note of introduction from Rev. Moses Miller, my uncle, who had been for
several years his neighbor. I employed him at once, for the balance of
the year, at Charlestown, a new charge that I had just formed. He was
admitted on trial at the ensuing Conference, and appointed to Sheboygan.
After leaving Sheboygan, Brother Aplin's appointments have been:
Manitowoc, Waukesha, Brookfield, Watertown, Beaver Dam, Oconomowoc,
Berlin, Geneva, Sun Prairie, Sharon, and Clemensville. At the last named
place, he is still rendering the cause effective service. Brother Aplin
has been a successful man, and has seen, at various times, extensive
revivals under his labors. He is a man who "seeks not his own but the
things of Christ."
At Sheboygan he was assisted in his meeting by Fay H. Purdy, Esq., of
Palmyra, N.Y., with whom he had enjoyed an acquaintance in the East.
Brother Purdy had already become distinguished as the "Lawyer
Evangelist." Under the united labors of these devoted and earnest men,
there was a great quickening in the Church, and though the population of
the town was largely German, there was an accession to the Church of
It was during this Conference year the celebrated Greenbush Camp Meeting
was held. The meeting was held in June, 1854. The people came in great
numbers, and many of them were fresh from their revivals at home. On
invitation, Brother Purdy came to the meeting and brought with him, from
Western New York, Rev. Amos Hard, Seth H. Woodruff, Esq., and several
others. The meeting was one of great power. Large numbers of professing
Christians entered into a new consecration to God, and many souls
professed conversion. Throughout the week, the meetings continued to
increase in spiritual interest, but culminated in the services of Sunday
night. After the close of the sermon, seekers were invited to the Altar.
Then followed prayers, singing, and Christian testimony without
intermission, until the morning light broke upon the encampment. The
prayers of the penitent and the shouts of the saved greeted every hour
of the night. The voices of prayer and song did not cease until the
meeting was closed on Monday.
Nor did the formal closing of the services in the grove close the
meeting. It was now adjourned to the school house in the village, where
the services were continued with unflagging interest. But there now came
an interchange of labor. Whenever it was necessary to look after
domestic affairs, the meeting was left in the hands of others, and on
returning its duties were again resumed. Thus by these changes there was
no cessation of the meeting throughout Monday, Monday night, and a
portion of the following day. This meeting is still referred to with
great interest by those who were permitted to participate in its
The Pastor of Greenbush at this time was Rev. A.M. Hulce. He was a young
man in the work, having been received into the Conference at its last
session. Both himself and good lady were fully engaged in the work, and
greatly assisted in perfecting the arrangements for the meeting. Brother
Hulce was a well-read man, a good thinker, and earnestly devoted to his
work, but his health was not equal to the toil and exposures of the
Itinerancy. After laboring a few years he was compelled to retire to the
local ranks, in which position he still holds an honorable place.
Other charges than those mentioned also shared in the revivals of the
year, giving a net result for the District of nearly one thousand
conversions. My labors throughout the year were severe, making an
average of nearly seven sermons per week.
The Conference for 1854 was held at Janesville, and I was returned to
the District for a fourth year. Several changes of Ministers were made,
several new fields were opened, and six new men were brought into
Omro was one of the charges to claim my attention at the beginning of
this year. It had now assumed considerable importance, it being the home
of the Brother Cowhams. James M., the elder, was the Recording Steward,
ranking among the most efficient I have ever known, and John M., the
younger, was a leading spirit in all Church work, becoming subsequently
a Local Preacher of most excellent standing.
The Pastor of the charge was Rev. T.C. Golden, who entered the
Conference in 1850, and had been stationed at Cascade and Sheboygan
Falls. He was a man of mark. Of a vigorous mental development and
logical cast, he early became an able Preacher and commanded a leading
place in the Conference. After leaving Omro, he was stationed in Fond du
Lac. He was then transferred to the West Wisconsin Conference, and
stationed at La Crosse, after which he served several years as Presiding
Elder with great acceptability. At the present writing he is a Presiding
Elder in the Upper Iowa Conference. Dr. Golden, for such is his present
title, has made a most gratifying record.
A Quarterly Meeting held at Brother John M. Cowham's during this year,
is remembered with great pleasure. This dear Brother had built both a
house and a barn of large dimensions, and the meeting, to be held in
the latter, awakened general interest throughout the circuit, bringing
together a multitude of people. Every house in the neighborhood was
filled with guests, and the balance, not less than fifty in number, were
entertained at what was called the Cowham Mansion. But great as was the
outpouring of the people, the manifestations of the Spirit were still
more extraordinary. Under the preaching of the Word, the Holy Ghost fell
on the people. The shout of redeemed souls and the cry of penitents,
"What shall I do to be saved?" commingled strangely together. And yet,
out of the apparent discord, there came the sweetest harmony. The minor
strains were lost in the rapturous paeans of the major movement, as each
seeking soul received "the new song." The days of the Fathers seemed to
have returned to the Church, when, under the Pentecostal baptism,
believers fell to the floor, and multitudes were saved in a day.
It was during this year that I was called to experience a severe trial
in the death of my dear father, which occurred on the 30th day of May,
1855. After remaining at Waupun six years, he removed, in 1850, to
Waupaca, where he purchased the lands comprising the site of the present
village, laid out the town and erected a lumber mill. Soon after his
arrival he opened religious services, preaching the first sermon and
organizing the first class. In due time, others came to his assistance,
and a small Church was built. Waupaca having been taken into the regular
work, my father now visited the adjacent neighborhoods and established
religious meetings, preaching usually two or three times on the Sabbath.
Not a few of these early appointments ultimately became the nucleus of
My father's illness was brief. In the latter part of the winter he met
me at my Quarterly Meeting at Oshkosh, but, to the regret of the people,
he was unable to preach. He felt that his work was nearly done, and in
referring to the matter, said: "I have no occasion to feel anxious about
it, since, through Divine help, I have been permitted to preach, on an
average, about two sermons a week for thirty years." I visited him two
weeks before his death, and found his mind tranquil and his Faith
unwavering. When I enquired as to his state of mind, he said, "It is
like a sunbeam of glory." He continued in the same satisfactory frame,
until he passed over the river to join the white-robed throng in the
Heavenly realm. The multitudes who gathered with tearful eyes around his
grave, gave but a fitting expression of their high appreciation of a
The labors of my first term as Presiding Elder were now drawing to a
close. Though my labors had been arduous, yet such had been the kindness
and co-operation of both Preachers and people, I felt an interest in
them. During the four years the District had nearly doubled its
strength, and was now ready for a division.
Feeling that it was due to myself, being so young a man, and due to the
Church also, that I should now go back to station work, I favored at the
Conference a resolution asking the Bishop to appoint no man to a
District for a second term until there had been an intervening service
of two years on circuits or stations. The action of the Conference
doubtless, sent me to a station instead of a District.
Conference of 1855.--The New Departure.--Mission Committee.--The Slavery
Controversy.--Triumph of Freedom.--Wisconsin Conference Rule. Conference
Report.--Election of Delegates.--Appointed to Racine.--Detention.--The
Removal to the New Charge.--Stage, Dray, and Steamboat.--New Bus Line.
The Conference for 1855 was held at Racine on the 29th day of August,
and was presided over by Bishop Janes. During the session I was
quartered with Rev. Moses Adams, a superannuated member of the Black
The business of the Conference was transacted with the usual dispatch,
and there were only two items which engrossed unusual attention. These
were the distribution of the missionary appropriations and the election
of delegates to the General Conference.
As to the first, a new departure was made in the organization of the
Committee on Missions. The Presiding Elders of the Conference had been
hitherto appointed on this Committee. But now a few restless spirits,
who fancied that, as seen from their limited opportunities to judge
correctly, the appropriations had not been judiciously made during the
past few years, determined to appoint this Committee from among the
Pastors. The Elders, well knowing that the farcical proceeding would in
time come to naught, concluded to offer no opposition to the movement.
The Committee was accordingly appointed and proceeded to the discharge
of its duties. At the first meeting, however, it was found that the
Committee was unable to proceed for want of information. At the next
meeting, to remedy this difficulty, the brethren who had occupied
Mission fields the previous year were invited to be present. This
measure was found to afford only a partial relief, as these brethren
knew nothing of the border territory that ought now to be organized into
new fields. The next move was to ask all the Pastors to meet the
Committee at the next session. To afford room to accommodate the
Committee and its invited guests, the audience room of the Church was
appropriated for an entire afternoon. Here the great work of the
Committee was entered upon in right good earnest, with the special
champions of the movement as managers of the exhibition.
But now, alas! for the success of the meeting, there was too much light.
At once a large number of fields that had been supposed to be
self-supporting was brought forward, and their respective
representatives were so successful in setting forth their feeble and
helpless condition, that many of them were entered upon the list by the
Committee as Missions. The question as to the number of Missions having
been settled, the next thing in order was the amount of money that
should be given to each.
From the information already received, the amounts were jotted down
briskly until the entire list had been gone over. The footings were now
made, and to the Committee the result was appalling. They had
appropriated three times the amount of money at their disposal. Then
came the rub, which had been so often experienced by the Presiding
Elders. The Missions must be cut down in two ways. First, all that could
possibly manage to get through the year without aid must be struck off
the list, and then such as remain will need to be cut down to the
lowest possible figure. But still brave, our Committee would not see
their impending defeat, and proceeded at once to the labor of
One of the champions had been a surgeon in his time, and had cut human
flesh with becoming recklessness, but now he, as well as the entire
Committee, struck a new experience. To strike Missions off the list, and
cut down the appropriations to others, is comparatively an easy task in
the quiet and secluded confines of a committee room, but to do either in
the presence of the very men who expected to occupy those fields the
coming year, and who knew the poverty of the people, was quite another
thing. The flood-gates of speech-making had been opened by the
Committee, and it was now impossible to close them. The balance of the
afternoon was given to stormy debate, and into what disorder the meeting
might have drifted, if the coming evening had not made its appearance,
it is impossible to conjecture.
The next day the Committee took another new departure, and invited the
Presiding Elders, who had studied these matters and looked the ground
carefully over for a whole year, before them. The Committee were now
able to complete their labors and make such a report as had usually been
presented to the Conference. But the Conference became fully satisfied
that this experiment needed no duplicate, and, for years after, the
mention of the "Committee of the Whole on Missions," did not fail to
Early in the session, the election of delegates to the General
Conference occurred. As I was too young to be thought of in that
connection, I was permitted to sit quietly and take notes. The only
issue of any great importance in the election was the slavery question.
And as this institution had already been put in issue in the general
elections of the country, it could not well be left out on this
occasion. So it was made the chief subject of discussion. To be a
thorough-going anti-slavery man was the stubborn test of qualifications
for a delegate. And that there might be no mistake on this point, it was
deemed advisable to have an able committee present to the body as a
platform a report that should make the absolute prohibition of slavery
its chief plank. But before I make further reference to the report it
will not be amiss to refer briefly to the subject of slavery in its
relations to the Church.
At the organization of the Church in this country, and for years
thereafter, the testimony she gave against American Slavery was distinct
and unequivocal. Both the Ministers and people were agreed that the
Institution was, as Mr. Wesley was pleased to call it, "The sum of all
villanies." Agreeing in this, they further believed that, as a relic of
barbarism, it would soon pass away. Under this conviction they hardly
deemed it necessary to enter up any very stringent enactments against
it, save that it might be well as a temporary arrangement to provide
that there should be no traffic in slaves. Under such a regulation
matters passed on for a term of years. But in due time it was found that
the tendency of events was not altogether satisfactory.
At the outset, the Church had been planted in the central portion of the
Atlantic States, and had then grown rapidly southward, giving the
balance of power to the Conferences where slavery existed. At this
juncture, also, by a remarkable change in the commercial affairs of the
country, the cotton crop of the South began to find an increasing demand
and appreciate in value, thereby giving an increased value to slave
labor. With this change came at once the multiplication of slaves and
large returns. To own slaves and cultivate cotton now became the ruling
inspiration of the people.
At the first the Church stoutly opposed the insetting tide, but as the
waves of commercial life grew strong and swept around her, the power of
resistance grew more feeble from year to year, until finally some of her
own people began to plead extenuation and even tolerance. The conflict
was now open, and the result seemed questionable. With the conscience of
the Southern portion of the Church asleep or dormant, the anti-slavery
side of the issue came finally to depend upon the Church in the North
for statement and defence.
At this stage of the conflict the controversy became sectional, the
South upholding and the North seeking to remove the evil. Thus the
contest raged for years, until the South, growing strong on her
ill-gotten gains, and arrogant from her success with the supple-kneed
politicians of the North, put the Church in the North upon the defensive
by demanding toleration, if not actual adoption. The issue was made in
trying to foist upon the whole Church a slave holding Episcopacy. This
last act was the feather, if such it might be called, that broke the
The effort was thwarted by the North only through the timely aid of a
few of the Central Conferences. At this the South took offence, as is
well known, and seceded, carrying with them more than half a million of
members and a portion of the Church property. To secure the latter, it
is true, long and bitter litigations followed the separation. And it is
generally accepted in the North that the decision which gave it to the
South took its shape from the political complexion at the time of the
Supreme Court of the United States.
It was now thought that the question of slavery was put to rest. But
alas! for human foresight. It still remained that the General Rules,
which permitted members to hold slaves, provided they did not "buy or
sell," had not been changed. And it was soon found that the awakened
conscience of the North could not rest until the last vestige of the
nefarious institution was swept from the Church. Agitations, therefore,
followed, and each succeeding General Conference found this question to
be still the troubler of Israel. Nor was the question left alone to the
care of the General Conference. Each annual Conference was also
agitated by it.
But it was evident to all that a serious embarrassment must be overcome
to secure a change of the General Rules. The Constitution of the Church
has a provision which, to effect a change, requires a two-thirds vote in
the General Conference, and a three-fourths vote in all the Annual
Conferences. To obtain the requisite vote with these provisions, it will
be seen, can only be realized on such questions as can command great
unanimity of sentiment. If the entire South had gone off in the
separation, the trouble would have been at an end, but, as we have seen,
the border Conferences remained with their brethren of the North, and
aided them in fighting the first battle with the slave power.
But now, when the question of a change of rule was brought forward, they
took the other side, and in doing so were able to furnish enough votes
to defeat the proposed measure. And the question, which was now
agitating the Annual Conference, was the framing of such a rule as would
meet the approval of the great body of the Church, and pass it along the
line of the Conferences to secure their favorable consideration before
taking it to the General Conference.
At the preceding session of the Wisconsin Conference such a rule had
been framed and sent on its way to the several Conferences to obtain
their approval. This was called the "Wisconsin Conference Rule," and
read as follows: "The buying, selling, or holding of a human being as a
slave." This rule received very general favor among the Northern
Conferences, but was rejected of course by those lying along the border.
At the Conference now in session in Racine, as before stated, a report
was submitted touching this matter. And it was intended to so set forth
the sentiment of the Conference as to make it a test of eligibility in
the election. I subjoin an extract from the resolutions adopted:
"Resolved, That we contemplate with feelings of deep humility and
sorrow before God, that the M. E. Church has any connection with the
system of American Slavery, and that we will not cease our efforts for
extirpation until the last ligament is severed."
"Resolved, That we record with gratitude, the favor with which the
'New Rule,' proposed by our Conference at its last session, has met in
so many of the Conferences in which it has been acted upon, and we
believe that the principle involved in it is the standard at which the
Church should and will soon arrive."
"Resolved, That whether or not the next General Conference adopt it as
a substitute for our present General Rule on Slavery, we earnestly
request that body to so modify the Chapter on Slavery as to prevent the
admission of any slaveholder into the M. E. Church, and secure the
exclusion of all who are now members, if they will not, after due labor,
emancipate their slaves."
This report was adopted with remarkable unanimity, but when the vote was
taken for delegates, it so happened that at least two of the men who had
been most clamorous in its support, failed to secure an election. This
result, however, did not come from a real difference in sentiment on
the main question, but from a desire to send to the General Conference a
delegation that would not defeat the desired end by a manifestation of
zeal without prudence. The Chairman of the Committee, however, was
elected to lead the delegation. The Delegates were P. S. Bennett, I. M.
Leihy, Edward Cooke, Elmore Yocum and Chauncey Hobart.
During the session of the Conference, a meeting of the principal members
of the Church and congregation at Racine was held, to take into
consideration the condition and wants of the charge. The deliberation
had resulted in laying before the Presiding Bishop a request for the
appointment of the writer. The appointment was accordingly made. But a
removal to the charge was attended with no little difficulty.
During the latter part of the spring term of the Lawrence University,
the typhoid fever appeared among the students, and in several instances
proved fatal. To prevent the like result in other cases, the inhabitants
opened their doors to receive sick students who could not be suitably
cared for in the dormitories of the College. Four of these were taken by
Mrs. Miller, and, in every case, it was believed that their lives were
only saved through her kind intervention and care. This kindness to
others, however, proved disastrous to her and the family. Before her
charge was well off her hands, she was herself attacked by the same
malignant disease. Then followed weeks of suffering on her part, and not
a little interruption of my work as Presiding Elder, especially
unfortunate in the closing part of the year. She passed down to the
borders of the grave, and on two occasions the beating of the pulse
seemed to cease, but in the good providence of God she was spared. Her
return to health, however, was slow, and meantime her sister, now Mrs.
Gov. C. K. Davis, of Minnesota, who resided with us at the time, was
taken with the same disease. This latter case was also a severe one, and
for several weeks delayed our removal to the new charge. But as soon as
it would do to attempt the journey, we were on our way. Unable to walk,
I was obliged to carry the invalid from the house to the carriage, and
from the carriage at Menasha to the steamboat. We reached Fond du Lac in
the evening and tarried for the night. The following morning we took the
stage for Sheboygan. The roads were excellent and the coach comfortable,
but it was necessary to carry the invalid literally in my arms the
entire distance. On arriving at the shore end of the pier at Sheboygan,
the steamboat, at the other end, gave a signal for her departure.
Hastily leaving the coach and sending the family forward with all
possible dispatch, I chartered a common dray, the only conveyance at
hand, placed a trunk upon it, took the invalid in my arms, seated myself
on the trunk, and bade the driver to put his horse on his best speed.
The race was a most creditable one, and before the boat had time to get
under way, we were nicely on board, to the great merriment of all
But out of one trouble, we were soon into another. We had hardly reached
the open lake before the boat encountered a heavy sea, which brought
sea-sickness to all of the company for the balance of the journey. But
in this misfortune we were not alone. Rev. E. S. Grumley, the newly
appointed Presiding Elder of the Racine District, and his family, had
also come on board at Sheboygan, and were now our companions in travel,
as also in misery. Tossing amid the waves, the progress of the steamboat
was slow, and we did not reach Racine until after midnight. We were
happy to gain a landing, but we found ourselves without a conveyance to
the hotel. Not even the common dray was at hand. But, nothing daunted,
we groped amid the darkness until we came upon the buggy of the
Presiding Elder, which fortunately had been landed from the same boat.
The invalid was soon placed in it, and, adopting a style of travel that
might have seemed unusual by daylight, in due time we were at the hotel.
The following morning we were sought out by the good people and kindly
cared for, being assigned to quarters with my late host and his
Racine.--Its Early History.--Subsequent Growth.--Racine District.--Rev.
Dr. Hobart.--Kenosha.--Rev. Salmon Stebbins.--Sylvania.--The
Kelloggs.--Walworth Circuit.--Burlington and Rochester.--Lyons. Troy
Circuit.--First Class at Troy.--Eagle.--Round Prairie.--Hart
Prairie.--Delavan.--Elkhorn.--Pastorate at Racine.--Revival.--Church
Enlargement.--Second Year.--Precious Memories.
The great centers from which the Church in Wisconsin has radiated were
few in number and were fixed upon at an early period in the development
of the work. These centers were Green Bay, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac,
Aztalan, Racine, and Janesville. Of the first five a record has been
made, and, following the line of my labors, Racine should next engage my
At this place the first settlement was made in November, 1834, by
Captain Gilbert Knapp, who came on horseback from Chicago. On the second
day of January following, Stephen Campbell, Paul Kingston, and Messrs.
Newton and Fay arrived, and, as far as I am able to ascertain, were the
first Methodists who settled at Racine. At the same time William See and
Edmund Weed came to the vicinity, the former settling at the Rapids,
where he built a mill, and the latter making a claim on the lands which
have since become the homestead of Senator Fratt. Alanson Filer came in
November, 1835, and A.G. Knight in April, 1836. In his journey to
Wisconsin, Brother Knight traveled on horseback from Wayne County, N.Y.,
to Chicago, and on foot the balance of the way. Jonathan M. Snow and
Nathan Joy came soon after, the latter coming around the lakes in the
first three-master that visited Lake Michigan. Rev. Daniel Slauson and
William Bull came in September, 1837, traveling in their own conveyance
from Detroit. The list of names thus given does not make a full record
of the early arrivals, but furnishes, as far as I am informed, such as
constituted, with the exception of the first named, the first Methodist
The writer has been unable to ascertain where and by whom the first
class was formed, or who constituted the first members. But it is
probable that the place was included in Milwaukee Mission as early as
1835, and that the class was formed by Rev. Mark Robinson during that
year, or by his successor, Rev. Wm. S. Crissey, the year following. And
it is also probable that the gentlemen above named, who were there at
the time, and their families, constituted the first members, with
Brother Paul Kingston as Leader. The meetings were held in the log
residence of the last named, located near the lake, at the foot of
Racine Mission was formed in 1837 and Rev. Otis F. Curtis was the first
Pastor. The Mission, reaching from the Illinois State Line to Milwaukee,
included appointments at Racine, Southport, Pleasant Prairie, Kellogg's
Corners, Ives Grove, Caledonia and Root River.
In 1839 the charge took the name of Racine and Southport Mission, the
Pastor being Rev. Salmon Stebbins. In 1840 Southport was made a separate
charge, and the Pastor at Racine was Rev. L.F. Moulthrop. In 1841 the
Root River portion was set off and made a separate charge, and Racine
was left to be supplied. The following year the Sylvania circuit was
formed, and Southport and Racine were again put together, with Rev.
James Mitchell as Pastor. In 1843 they were again separated, and the
Pastor at Racine was Rev. Milton Bourne. In 1844 the Pastor was Rev. G.
L. S. Stuff, and in 1845, Rev. Julius Field.
As before stated, the meetings were at first held in a private house,
but as the congregations increased, a public building was rented near
the foot of Main Street. After the school house was built, the meetings
were removed to it, and it was at this latter place the writer attended
a service during his first Sabbath in the State. Soon after the first
Church was built, to which we shall have occasion to refer hereafter.
Racine District was created in 1847, and Rev. Chauncey Hobart was
appointed the first Presiding Elder. Dr. Hobart entered the Illinois
Conference in 1836, the Conference then including Illinois, Wisconsin,
Iowa and Minnesota. His appointments before coming to the District had
been: Rockingham, Iowa, Monmouth, Macomb, Quincy, Rushville, Peoria,
Jacksonville, Springfield, and Clark Street, Chicago. After leaving the
District, in 1849, he was appointed Presiding Elder of Minnesota
District. At the end of his term he was stationed at Spring Street,
Milwaukee, and next served one year as Presiding Elder on the Milwaukee
District, when, on account of the infirm health of his wife, he returned
to Minnesota. Since his return, he has continued to labor on both
stations and districts with great acceptability up to the present time.
Dr. Hobart is a man of superior abilities, and his labors have been in
special demand. He has been elected five times to the General
Conference, and has been seven times appointed to Districts. As a
Preacher he is always acceptable, but at times he delivers extraordinary
sermons. It requires a great occasion to take the full measure of the
man. At such times he has been known to move audiences with overwhelming
power. Especially was this the case under the sermon he delivered at a
Camp-Meeting held two miles west of Big Foot Prairie, in 1849. On this
occasion the tide of feeling rose to such a height that great numbers of
the congregation unconsciously left their seats and stood entranced,
while the saints shouted for joy, and sinners cried out in the anguish
of their souls for mercy.
Having thus spoken of the Presiding Elder of the Racine District, it is
fitting that we should now glance briefly at a few of the early charges.
Kenosha, as we have seen, was included in the Racine Mission in 1837,
and shared the labors of Brother Curtis. The first class was formed
during this term probably by either the Pastor or Rev. John Clark, the
Presiding Elder, and consisted of Rev. Reuben H. Deming, Austin Kellogg,
Hon. and Mrs. Charles Durkee, Mrs. Harvey Durkee, John W. Dana Martha E.
Dana, and Susan Dana. The Presiding Elder, Rev. Salmon Stebbins, held a
Quarterly Meeting in Kenosha, then called Southport, November 24th,
1837. The meeting was held in a small log school house standing near the
present site of the Simmons Block.
During the following year a revival occurred, which resulted in the
conversion of nearly the entire community. The meetings were held in a
public building on the North Side, but the erection of a Church
immediately followed. As before stated, Brother Stebbins became the
Pastor in 1839, and remained also the following year. The succeeding
Pastors up to 1845 were Rev. F.T. Mitchell, Rev. James Mitchell, Rev.
Wm. H. Sampson, Rev. C.D. Cahoon and Rev. Warner Oliver. At this
writing, Kenosha ranks among the leading stations of the Conference.
Brother Stebbins entered the New York Conference in 1822. When the
Conference was divided he fell into the northern portion, which took the
name of Troy. In this field he labored fourteen years, his charges
covering the territory from Albany to the Canada line. At the
solicitation of Rev. John Clark, he was transferred to the Illinois
Conference in 1837, and appointed Presiding Elder, the District
extending from the Illinois State Line to Green Bay. In 1839 he was
appointed to the Racine and Southport Mission, as before stated, and
remained on the Southport part the following year. After leaving
Southport charge he was stationed at Platteville, Lake, Madison and St.
Charles. Subsequently taking a location, he became a resident of
Kenosha, in the vicinity of which place he still resides.
Brother Stebbins is a man of superior ability, and in his prime enjoyed
considerable reputation as a Preacher. He is spending the evening of his
life in quiet, trustingly awaiting the change that now cannot be
Sylvania was settled by three Kellogg brothers and their families in the
spring of 1837, the place being first known as Kellogg's Corners. Soon
after their arrival the ladies, one of whom, Mrs. Seth H. Kellogg, was
the daughter of Rev. Ebenezer Washburn, of New York Conference,
organized a Sunday School. The neighborhood was connected with the
Racine Mission, and a class was formed at an early period, with Seth H.
Kellogg as Leader, but I cannot fix the exact date. Nor am I able to
state at what time the first Church was completed. It was claimed,
however, to have taken precedence in the State.
In the erection of the Church, which was built by Chauncey Kellogg, the
young society was assisted by a donation of two hundred dollars from
Sunday Schools in New York City. Rev. Julius Field, whose wife was a
sister of the Kelloggs, secured the aid, he having been stationed in
that city. The Church edifice cost six hundred dollars, and was the
building in which I preached the funeral sermon of Mother Washburn some
sixteen years later. The veteran, Father Washburn, was also buried at
this place. Sylvania was made a separate charge in 1842, with Rev.
Milton Bourne as Pastor.
Passing westward, the old Walworth circuit should next claim our
attention. It will be remembered that this charge was formed in 1839,
taking the south half of the old Aztalan circuit. The first Pastor was
Rev. James McKean, who was an earnest and devoted laborer in the
vineyard. But as his fields fell on the south side of the State Line at
the end of his term, a record will doubtless be made of him elsewhere.
In 1840 the circuit was divided. The southeastern portion was called
Burlington and Rochester, with Rev. David Worthington as Pastor, of whom
a record has been made in a former chapter, and the name of the old
charge was changed to Troy, on which Brother McKean remained as Pastor.
On the new charge there were two classes formed by Brother Worthington
during this year. The first was formed in Puffer's school house on
Spring Prairie in the summer of 1840, and included in its membership,
Mr. and Mrs. John M. Cowham, Lansing Lewis, and Mrs. Lewis, his mother.
Brother Cowham was the Leader.
The other class was organized in Lyonsdale, with Mr. and Mrs. Thomas
Lyon, Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher Lyon, Mr. and Mrs. Ansel Waite, Mr. and Mrs.
Marshall, and Mrs. Jones. Hon. Wm. P. Lyon, of the Supreme Court,
subsequently became identified with the Society. Lyons, as the village
is called, is at the present writing a charge of respectable standing,
having a good Church and Parsonage. The writer had the pleasure to
dedicate the Church during his Pastorate in Racine.
At Troy, a class had been organized by Brother McKean during the latter
part of the former year. At this time the members were Daniel Griffin,
Sen., Daniel Griffin, Jr., Dr. and Mrs. Brooks Bowman, Mrs. McCracken,
Mr. and Mrs. John Spoor, and a Brother Jennings. Brother Spoor was a
Local Preacher, the Leader and the S.S. Superintendent.
In 1841, Rev. L.F. Moulthrop was appointed to Troy circuit. He remained
the second year and had as a colleague the excellent Rev. Henry
Whitehead, so long and well known by the Preachers of the Northwest in
connection with the Chicago Book Depository. The circuit at this time
included Troy, Eagle, Hart Prairie, Round Prairie, Turtle Prairie,
Delavan and Elkhorn.
At Eagle a class was formed consisting of Rev. William Cross, Local
Preacher, Mrs. William Cross, and her sister, now Mrs. James Parsons,
Mr. and Mrs. A. Hinkley, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, Mr. and Mrs. Atwater, Mr.
and Mrs. Long.
At Round Prairie a class was also formed. The members as far as
ascertained were Rev. James Flanders, Local Preacher, Mr. and Mrs.
Houghton, Mrs. Norcross, Father Cornice, and Mr. and Mrs.
At Hart Prairie, the services were held in Father Worthington's log
house, where a class was also organized. Father Worthington, his wife,
and two sons, Elijah and Theodore, and Mrs. Lewis, were the
At Delavan the meetings were held alternately in Mr. Bradway's log
house in the village, and at the residence of Mr. Phoenix, on the
prairie. The class at this place was small, and I am unable to insert in
the record more than the names of Mr. and Mrs. Bradway. Delavan has
since grown to the position of an influential charge, with an attractive
Church and enterprising membership.
Elkhorn at this early day had no class, but, as the County Seat, the
village commanded an appointment. For several years the cause moved
slowly, but finally won its way to a position. At the present writing,
the charge holds a respectable rank in the Conference.
Having thus briefly examined the early history of Racine and the other
charges that constituted her immediate surroundings, it is now proper
that we should return to the record of the writer's Pastorate.
Finding that there was no Parsonage, I proceeded to rent a respectable
house in a pleasant part of the city, paying for the same an additional
one hundred dollars out of my salary. Having settled my family, I
adopted my usual method of devoting my mornings to my study, and
afternoons to pastoral visiting. I soon passed over the entire
membership of the station, making it a special point to secure, as far
as possible, a faithful attendance upon the means of grace. The effort
was successful beyond my expectations.
The congregation soon filled the Church. And as the interest continued
to increase, the aisles and doors were thronged, while large numbers
were utterly unable to obtain admission. With this manifestation of
interest, it was deemed advisable to enter upon a protracted meeting
without delay. We did so, and I preached every night for two weeks. But
the result was not satisfactory. We found the spiritual condition was
not on a plane with the demands of the work. The vast throng of people
had brought upon us a tide of worldly influence that we were unable to
withstand. Additional moral force was necessary, and, to secure it, we
deemed it better to go into the lecture-room and rely upon the social
meetings to develop the requisite spiritual power. With this change
there came to the membership the spirit of consecration and a remarkable
baptism of the Holy Ghost. Before the end of two weeks we were compelled
to return to the audience room. The place was again thronged with
people, but the good work went forward. I continued to preach nightly
for four weeks. One hundred persons were converted and added to
With this large increase of members and a corresponding increase of
attendants, it was necessary to enlarge the Church edifice for their
accommodation. Accordingly the work was undertaken. The rear end of the
building was opened, and the edifice was lengthened so as to accommodate
nearly one-third more people. In doing this, it was thought advisable to
still increase the length by adding twelve feet more for an orchestra,
thereby providing for the removal of the organ from the gallery to the
rear of the pulpit.
The enlargement, besides furnishing the necessary accommodations for the
people, laid a broader financial basis to the charge, by bringing into
the congregation a number of families who were able to take the new
seats at a good rental. The year passed very satisfactorily.
The Conference of 1856 was held September 17th, at Appleton, Bishop
Simpson presiding. As expected, we were returned to Racine. We retained
the same house, and found our social relations with the people of
Racine exceedingly pleasant. With not a few families a life-long
friendship was established, and to the present hour the mention of
Racine revives many pleasant recollections. Judge Lyon, who came into
the Church this year, and his good lady, and Messrs. Knight, Yout,
Adams, Langlois, Jones, Lunn, Slauson, Bull, Lees, Conroe, Kidder, Orr,
Jillson, Brewer, Lawrence, with their families, and many others, will
never be forgotten.
The labors of the year would afford many pleasing incidents were they
permitted to appear in these pages, but their recital would unreasonably
swell the volume.
The usual protracted meeting was held, continuing five weeks. The work
was very satisfactory, strengthening the converts of the previous year,
and swelling the list of accessions. The revival was especially fruitful
in the Sunday School, leading many of the young people to Christ. But
the labors of the year, as usual, came to a close when we were in the
midst of our work, and we were compelled to sunder old associations and
form new ones in other fields.
Conference of 1857.--Janesville.--Early History.--First Sermon.--The
Collection.--First Class.--First Church.--First Donation.--Rev. C.C.
Mason.--Missionary Anniversary.--Rev. A. Hamilton.--Rev. D.O.
Jones.--The Writer's Pastorate.--The Great Revival.--The Recipe.--Old
Union Circuit.--First Class.--Evansville.--Rev. Henry Summers.--New
Church. Conference of 1858.--Beloit.--Early Pastorates.--Church
Enterprise.--Second Year at Janesville.
The Conference for 1857 was held June 26th, at Spring Street, Milwaukee,
Bishop Ames presiding. At this Conference I was stationed at Janesville.
Janesville, holding a central position in the southern portion of the
State, was the initial point of settlement at an early period, and in
after years, became the focal as well as the radiation center of Church
On the 15th day of November, 1835, a company consisting of six men
started from Milwaukee with an ox-team and wagon, the latter containing
provisions, tools, etc., for the Rock River Valley. On the 18th they
arrived where Janesville now stands, and immediately proceeded to build
a log cabin opposite of what is called the "Big Rock." This was the
first settlement in Rock River Valley. Two of their number, however, had
explored the southern portion of the Territory in the preceding July. At
that time there were but two white families in Milwaukee, and only one
between that place and Janesville, that of Mr. McMillen, who lived at
what is now called Waukesha.
On the 23d of April, 1837, the first United States Mail entered
Janesville. It contained one letter, and this was for the Postmaster,
Henry F. Janes. The mail was brought by a man on horseback, whose mail
route extended from Mineral Point to Racine. The post-office at
Janesville for several months consisted of a cigar box, which was
fastened to a log in the bar-room. Small as it was, it was found to be
amply sufficient to contain all the letters then received by the
citizens of Rock County.
The first sermon preached in Janesville was delivered by Rev. Jesse
Halstead in September, 1837. Brother Halstead, then on Aztalan circuit,
on coming to this place found a small log house, which enjoyed the
appellation of a tavern. He accepted entertainment in common with other
travelers, but, it being soon known that he was a Minister, he was
invited to preach. He consented, and the services were held in the
bar-room. The liquors were put out of sight, and the Minister made the
bar his pulpit. The audience consisted of a dozen persons.
The next religious services of which I can obtain information, were held
in the summer of 1838. They were held in an oak grove on one of the
bluffs east of the village. I am not able to find any one who can
furnish me the name of the Preacher, but am assured that he was a
Methodist, and that he did not neglect that special feature of a
Methodist service, the collection. This last part of the exercises, I am
assured, made a vivid impression on the mind of the party to whom I am
indebted for this item of history. And it came in this wise: When the
hat was passed he threw in a bill, an act so generous that it could not
fail to call attention to the contributor. The next day he received a
call from the Minister, who desired him to replace the "wild-cat" bill
by one of more respectable currency, as those kind of bills were
beginning to be refused throughout the Territory.
In 1839 Rev. James F. Flanders made an occasional visit to Janesville
and preached to the people. His first sermon was delivered in the
bar-room of the public house, which stood on the present site of the
Myers House. Subsequently he preached in an unoccupied log house
opposite where Lappin's Block now stands. The services were next held in
school houses, some log and others frame, until the erection of the
Court House in 1842. Thereafter the court room was occupied and used
alternately by the different religious denominations.
The Rev. James McKean was the first Minister who preached regularly in
Janesville. The place was taken into the Troy circuit in 1840, and
Brother McKean visited it once in four weeks. This year Rev. Julius
Field held the first Quarterly Meeting in Janesville.
In the spring of 1841, Brother McKean formed a class and appointed J.P.
Wheeler Leader, but during the following winter the members all left
Janesville appears first in the Minutes as the head of a charge in 1841,
with Rev. Alpha Warren as Pastor. At this time it was connected with
Platteville District, and the Presiding Elder was Rev. H.W. Reed.
Brother Warren was succeeded by Rev. Boyd Phelps, who organized a class
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