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. Dr. Steele.
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 condition.
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 definite form.
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 Lawrence University.
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 in Wisconsin.
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 they sang,
"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 general reader.
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 acquaintance.
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 fifty conversions.
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 entire week.
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 the Minutes.
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 forty members.
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 thrilling exercises.
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 the District.
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 independent charges.
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 noble life.
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 River Conference.
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 cutting down.
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 excite mirth.
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 camel's back.
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 concerned.
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 obliging family.
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 attention.
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 Community.
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 Seventh street.
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 long delayed.
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. Nelson Cornice.
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 first members.
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 the Church.
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 operations.
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 the place.
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 in the spring of 1843, consisting of nine or ten members, with John Wynn as Leader.
Rev. Lyman Catlin, who came in 1844, was the first resident Pastor. He was formerly a Professor in Mt. Morris Seminary. During the winter his wife, who was a lady of fine culture, taught a select school in the village. Brother Catlin preached in Janesville on the morning of each Sabbath, and in the afternoon alternated between Union and Johnstown.
The following year, Rev. T.W. Perkins was appointed to the charge, but in consequence of ill health, he was soon obliged to resign. His place was supplied by Rev. Stephen Adams, of Beloit. In 1846 Rev. John Luccock was the Pastor, and was followed the next year by Rev. Wesley Lattin, who remained two years. Brother Lattin was very popular with all classes, and his labors were blessed with an extensive revival. During his Pastorate the Society erected a small frame church, 35 by 25 feet in size. It was opened for worship in the fall of 1848. The location was on the opposite side of Centre Street, and a little west of the present edifice. A Parsonage was also erected the same year. Both of them, however, were sold when the grounds were purchased for the new Church. It was during the Pastorate of Brother Lattin that the first donation party ever held in Janesville, was given. The company assembled at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. John Wynn, where Brother Lattin boarded. The ladies furnished the table with all the luxuries the village afforded, and the affair was considered a grand success.
Brother Lattin was followed successively by Revs. J.M. Snow, O.F. Comfort, and Daniel Stansbury. During the winter of 1852 Brother Stansbury held a series of meetings, assisted by Rev. C.C. Mason, which resulted in a considerable addition to the membership of the Church.
Finding that the little Church was now becoming too small to accommodate them, the Society decided to build a more commodious house of worship. It was commenced in the spring following, and was located on the corner of Jackson and Centre Streets. This is the edifice now occupied by the first charge, is built of brick, and is 75 by 45 feet in size. The building was not fully completed until during the Pastorate of Rev. Henry Requa, in 1855, but it was so far advanced that it was dedicated in July, 1853, by the pioneer veteran, Rev. John Clark, of the Rock River Conference.
The severe labors of Brother Stansbury overtaxed his strength, and he was compelled to seek rest. Brother Mason was employed to fill out the balance of the year. Brother Mason was a Local Preacher from England, had lost one limb, and though somewhat eccentric, he held a high rank as a pulpit orator. He was often not a little surprised with the queer ways of this country. I remember to have met him at the Janesville Conference several years later. He was put up to preach, as usual on all great occasions, and delivered a grand sermon. The following evening the Missionary Anniversary came, and at the close of the speeches, the meeting proceeded to constitute Life Memberships. This was a new role to the old gentleman, but, soon comprehending the movement, he launched into it with all his soul. The good Bishop was made a Life Member, then his wife, then the Missionary Secretary, and so on in a spirited manner. As each proposition was made, the good brother planked his dollar, little dreaming of the length of the road upon which he had entered. But as the memberships were multiplied, his purse fell under the law of subtraction, until it contained but one dollar more. Just at this moment some zealous brother proposed to be one of ten to make the Presiding Elder of the Janesville District a Life Member of the Conference Missionary Society. It was no time for parley about that remaining dollar, for the Janesville District must not be outdone by the other Districts in gallantry, so down went the last dollar. But it had hardly reached the table before the giver was hunting for his crutches. Such was the generous nature of the man, however, that he would have stood his ground to the coming of the morning if he had been advised in advance of the character of the Anniversary exercises.
In 1853 Rev. J.W. Wood was stationed at Janesville, and Rev. Henry Requa in 1854 and 1855. Brother Requa was very popular, drew large audiences, and realized an accession of fifty members. At the Conference of 1855 a new charge was formed on the east side of the river, and Rev. C.C. Mason, who had been received on trial, was appointed as its first Pastor.
In 1856, Rev. A. Hamilton was appointed to Janesville, and Rev. D.O. Jones to East Janesville. Brother Hamilton came to the Conference this year by transfer from the Oneida Conference, where he had done effective work for several years. At the close of the year in Janesville he was made Presiding Elder of Watertown District, where he remained two years. In 1859, by a reconstruction of the Districts, he was assigned to Beaver Dam District, where he remained the other two years of his term. For a number of years thereafter he served on circuits and stations. His health now failed and he took a superannuated relation. Brother Hamilton was a good and true man, of a metaphysical turn of thought, well versed in theology, and an instructive Preacher.
Brother Jones entered the Conference in 1851, and had been stationed at Elk Grove, Richland City, Muscoday, and Green Bay. Since he left Janesville, he has taken a respectable class of appointments, filling them creditably to himself and acceptably to the people. He is genial in spirit and warm in his attachments. He is still in the enjoyment of good health, and promises years of efficient service.
This brief record brings us to the date of my appointment. At the recent session of the Conference, the charge on the east side of the river was left to be supplied, and as it had, up to this time, developed but little strength, twenty-six members only, it was deemed best to let it go back to the old charge.
I found the Church edifice in good condition, but without class or prayer-rooms. The external appearance was decidedly respectable, and the accommodations within, both in respect to size and furnishing, equal or superior to any other Church in the village.
The Parsonage, a small and inferior building, had been recently sold to liquidate in part the indebtedness remaining on the Church, and this involved the necessity of renting a house for my family.
After becoming settled in our new home, the first special work was to complete the payment of the Church debt. This was soon arranged, and I was at liberty to direct my attention more particularly to the spiritual interests of the charge. My first labor in this direction, as in all my former charges, was to look well after the people at their homes, and the second, to see that the social means of grace were well arranged and properly sustained. And I soon found in Janesville, as I have always found, that they are the key to successful labor. It is possible by corresponding adjustment of pulpit labor to excite the attention of the community, and thereby secure large congregations, but such a result is not a certain index of true success. In the forum, as on the platform, it may be otherwise, but in the building up of Christ's kingdom, there must be a spiritual basis; for his kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. In these days of special clamor for superior pulpit attractions to draw the crowd, there is a strong temptation to court popular favor by adjusting both the themes and style of address to the pulpit in such a way as to withold from the people the only spiritual food that can give life to a dead soul. Such a Ministry in the eyes of the world may be deemed a great success, but to such as judge not after the outward appearance, it is known to be a dead failure. While it utterly fails to bring souls to Christ, it is also disastrous to the Church itself. The mighty adhesive forces, which bind the hearts of Christians to each other, can only subsist on the marrow of Gospel truth, and if this is wanting, dissension will soon appear, and the Church suffer disintegration. Holding these views, strengthened as they had been by my former experience and observation, I resolved, at whatever cost of reputation, to adhere to them in Janesville.
The result proved their wisdom. With the revival of the prayer and class meetings, and the utterance of plain Evangelical truth from the pulpit, came a speedy manifestation of spiritual interest and growth. And so marked had this indication of the presence of the Spirit become, that I felt justified in opening a protracted meeting with the watch-night services. The meeting grew in interest from night to night, and in a short time the Altar was filled with penitents. Thus opened a meeting that continued four months, resulting gloriously to the charge. Nearly three hundred persons professed to be converted, and near two hundred of them were received on probation.
During the meeting I preached nearly every night, and sometimes in the afternoons. But I was greatly assisted in the meeting by Revs. J.B. Cooper and I.S. Eldridge, of whom mention will be made in another chapter. Rev. A.B. Bishop, now a valuable member of Minnesota Conference, was also, though young, a good laborer in the meeting. Among the laymen who rendered special service was Brother J.L. Kimball, who, with his daughter Emily, had been for years the principal reliance in the singing, both in the choir and social meetings. Referring to this good brother brings up an incident of the meeting. Brother K. had long been recognized as the financial man and the singer of the Church, but could never take a part in the social services with any comfort to himself. In one of the meetings I suggested that in these matters as in others, practice would relieve the case. He concluded to try it, and for two weeks spoke a few words as opportunity offered. But he finally told the congregation that my recipe would not work. Others might be able to talk their way to Heaven, but he was satisfied that, as for himself, he would have to pay his way, if he ever got there. The pleasant remark seemed more in keeping, when it was remembered that he was always a generous contributor to every good cause.
While many of the converts were from among the young people, not a few were persons of mature years, and some of them in affluent circumstances. The large increase of members rendered it necessary to reconstruct the classes, but the want of class rooms retarded this branch of our work. Several of the classes were assigned to meet during the week at private houses, and four of them met in the audience room at the close of the morning service. By placing a class in each corner, with the understanding that when one of them commenced to sing, all the others should join, the plan worked very well. After the singing each class took up the thread where it had been dropped, and proceeded with the service. Usually the Pastor sat in the Altar to give the responses to the exercises of each as they seemed to require them. Sometimes not a little confusion occurred, but it was taken in good feeling by all, and the meetings were profitable.
We also organized meetings outside of the village. School houses and private dwellings were used for this purpose, and these meetings not only accommodated the people of the several neighborhoods adjacent to the village, but gave the needed religious employment to the Local Preachers and other members of the Church. The meetings were held in the afternoons of the Sabbath, and sometimes, to hold the plan in countenance, the Pastor himself would go out and deliver a sermon. At first it was feared by some of the good brethren that these side meetings would detract from the regular services of the Church, but the result proved that, on the contrary, they gave an increase of both interest and attendance. For the people, thus edified and interested, came into the village and thronged the Church.
But the year was now drawing to a close. By request of the preceding Conference, the Conference session had been changed to spring. The year had been one of severe labor, but its compensations were abundant. I was able to report a membership, including probationers, of three hundred and six. Two events in my own family clothed the year with special interest. The one, the conversion of our eldest daughter, then nine years old, and her reception into the church, the other, the birth of our son. They were both occasions of devout thanksgiving to God.
During this year I made a visit to Evansville, a charge that seems to hold a central position in the Conference west of Janesville. The first settlement was made in this vicinity in the fall of 1839, when six families came into what was then called the town of Union. These early settlers were Rev. Boyd Phelps, Rev. Stephen Jones, Erastus Quivey, Samuel Lewis, Charles McMillin, and John Rhineheart. During the winter and spring religious meetings were established in private houses, Rev. Boyd Phelps preaching the first sermon. In the following spring and summer, the settlement was enlarged by the arrival of Ira Jones, Jacob West, John T. Baker, Rev. John Griffith, Hiram Griffith, David Johnson, John Sale and their families. The heads of all these families being members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, they applied to Rev. Samuel Pillsbury, in charge of the Monroe circuit, for recognition. He visited them, established an appointment and formed them into a class in August, 1840. The class was organized at the residence of Hiram Griffith, located about one mile northwest of the present site of Evansville. At the first organization the members were: Jacob West, Leader, Margaret West, Boyd Phelps, Local Preacher, Clarissa Phelps, Stephen Jones, Local Preacher, Isabel Jones, John Griffith, Local Preacher, Belinda Griffith, John T. Baker, Jemima Baker, Ira Jones, Sarah J. Jones, John Rhineheart, Deborah Rhineheart, Alma Jones, Samuel Lewis, Sarah Lewis, Charles McMillan, Miriam McMillan, Jane Brown, Erastus Quivey, Sally Quivey, Hiram Griffith, Sally Griffith, David Johnson and Kizziah Johnson. Soon after John Sale and Jane Sale also became members.
Of this number, at least two became Itinerant Preachers. The first, Rev. Boyd Phelps, filled several appointments in the Conference, and was Presiding Elder of Beaver Dam District. He then removed to Minnesota, where he has also rendered effective service. The second, Rev. Stephen Jones, was my predecessor at Watertown, but only continued a few years, when he entered secular pursuits. At one time he was a member of the State Legislature.
Rev. James Ash was sent to the Monroe Circuit in 1840, and his work embraced Union. He remained two years, and was very successful in his work. The first Quarterly Meeting was held in the house of Brother Jacob West, by Rev. H.W. Reed, in the fall of 1840. In 1842 Union was attached to the Madison circuit, and the Pastor was Rev. S.P. Keyes. During this year a log school house was erected on the present site of Evansville, for the double purpose of school and religious meetings. This building was used for public worship until the summer of 1847. From 1843 to 1845 Union was connected with the Janesville circuit. In 1845 the Union circuit was formed, with Rev. Asa Wood as Pastor. It was assigned to the Platteville District, with Rev. Henry Summers as Presiding Elder.
Brother Summers was a veteran representative of the Methodist Preacher of the olden time. He entered the work when Illinois was yet in her maidenhood, and from the first was a recognized power in the land. Genial in spirit, full of anecdote, abundant in labors, an able Preacher, a faithful administrator, and a devoted servant of the Master, he enjoyed the esteem of all. But I need not enlarge, as doubtless a record will be made of his labors in Illinois, where his fields of labor were principally located.
Under the labors of Brother Wood, a frame church, 45 by 30 feet in size, was erected, the location being in the block now occupied by J. R. Finch as a store in the village of Evansville. The building was dedicated by Brother Summers in June, 1847. But it will be necessary to omit further details of these early years.
Old Union, the mother of charges west of Janesville, has been well represented in the Itinerant ranks. In addition to Brothers Phelps and Jones, to whom reference has been made, she has sent into the field Revs. James Lawson, J.H. Hazeltine, George Fellows, and A.A. Hoskins.
In 1855, Evansville Station was created, with Rev. E.P. Beecher as Pastor. The Janesville District was also established this year, with Rev. J.W. Wood as Presiding Elder.
Under the Pastorate of Rev. George W. De Lamatyr, which begin in 1864, the new Church was erected, costing some six thousand dollars. It was dedicated by Rev. Dr. Fallows in the fall of 1867. At the present writing Evansville is recognized as a charge of excellent standing.
The Conference of 1858 was held May 12th at Beloit, Bishop Morris presiding. At this Conference the writer was elected Secretary, and Revs. S. W. Ford and George Fellows Assistants. The session was brief and harmonious.
Beloit is located on the line between the States of Illinois and Wisconsin, and was at first connected with Roscoe Circuit, a charge lying on the Illinois side. The class was probably informally organized by Brother Thomas McElhenny, the first Leader, in 1839. The following year Rev. Milton Bourne, Pastor of Roscoe Circuit, established an appointment and recognized the infant Society. The members, besides Brother McElhenny, were Tyler Blodgett, Mrs. M.M. Moore and Sister Lusena Cheney. The Pastors of Roscoe Circuit, during its supervision of Beloit, in addition to Brother Bourne, were Revs. James McKean, O.W. Munger, John Hodges, Alpha Warren, and Zadoc Hall.