With these thoughts rushing upon me, it is not a matter of surprise that I was quite overwhelmed with feeling, and found utterance almost impossible. How I passed through the prayer and the ceremony that followed, has never been quite clear to me, but I was told that nothing was omitted that could be deemed essential to the occasion. The wedding party was soon after dismissed with our blessing, and we at once began the preparations for our own trip to the cars, to occur in the afternoon of the same day.
We reached Fond du Lac at nightfall, and were kindly entertained by Rev. J.T. Woodhead and his family. The following day we were invited to the pleasant home of our old friend, C.O. Hurd, who, with his most excellent family, gave us a kindly greeting and cared for us until the arrival of our goods.
My predecessor on the District was Rev. Theron O. Hollister, a man "full of faith and the Holy Ghost." Brother Hollister was received into the Conference at its session in Baraboo in 1853, and his first charge was Summit. His subsequent fields of labor were Fort Atkinson, Lake Mills, Greenbush, Sheboygan Falls, and Fond du Lac, where he succeeded to the District. At the close of his term on the District he was appointed to Oconomowoc, next to Waukesha, and the year following to Hart Prairie. Here his health utterly broke down, and at the following session of the Conference in 1868, he was compelled to take a superannuated relation. He now removed to Salem, in Kenosha County, where he died March 13, 1869, aged forty-seven.
Brother Hollister was a man of robust frame, and, generally, good health. He was an earnest man, and whatever he did was done with all his strength, of both mind and body. With limited early opportunities, and too intensely occupied in after years with the practical labor of the Ministry, to retrieve the loss he had sustained, he did not aspire to a knowledge of books. But in all the active labor of leading souls to Christ, he was a workman who needed not to be ashamed.
He swept over the District like a storm, "instant in season and out of season," laying his strong hand on every part of the work, and pushing it forward. And no doubt it was the work that he did on the District that laid the foundation of the disease which terminated his useful life. An overtaxed brain fell a prey to mental disability, and our good brother went to his reward.
Fond du Lac was under the pastoral care of Rev. J.T. Woodhead. This excellent brother entered the Conference in 1858, and before coming to Fond du Lac, had been stationed at Greenbush, Berlin and Ripon. He was now on his third year in his present field.
Brother Woodhead's early opportunities were limited, but with great devotion to his calling, he had carefully improved his time after entering the Ministry. He was accepted by his people as a man of rare excellences, happily blending in beautiful harmony both Faith and Works. In the pulpit, his manner is not always graceful, but it is never disagreeable. His discourses abound with Evangelical truth, set off usually in fine delineations of Scriptural scenes and characters. He has extraordinary dramatic talent, and only needs the culture of the schools, in addition to his present gifts and graces, to place him in the front rank as a speaker. Brother Woodhead is one of the best Pastors I have ever known.
The Fond du Lac District at this time numbered twenty charges. To visit each quarterly on the Sabbath was impossible, unless I chose to hold two on adjacent charges, the same day. And this plan I did not deem advisable, believing that it tends to break down Quarterly Meetings altogether, by dividing the interest. I chose rather to visit each charge regularly semi-annually, and the feebler ones more frequently, if possible. The intervening Quarterly Meetings were held by the Pastors, except they chose to procure supplies.
My first Quarterly Meeting, held at Fond du Lac, was an occasion of rare interest. Having been granted license to preach, and sent into the Itinerancy by these brethren, they were disposed to assert a special interest in the Presiding Elder. Besides, the Society, under the ministrations of Brother Woodhead, was in a happy spiritual condition, a satisfactory pledge of a good meeting.
As it is my purpose to write up more particularly, as far as space will permit, the charges and Ministers of the Conference, than my own labors, I shall not undertake to follow in order my visits to the several charges. During the present year, as well as the three following, I shall simply refer to such items as will further this object, well knowing that the adoption of any other plan would involve the issue of several volumes instead of one.
Waupun came early on the list. Many changes had occurred at Waupun during the twenty years which had intervened since my Pastorate in 1845. I found a small frame Church and one of the best Parsonages in the Conference. The Society had become strong both financially and in numbers. I was happy indeed to meet old friends with whom I had labored in other years, and especially the converts of the early times, now grown to be pillars in the Church. But with our rejoicing there also came the shadows of sadness. Many had gone over the river. And since my visit, others still have gone, and among them, Brother and Sister William McElroy. But they were ready.
Rev. D.W. Couch was the Pastor at Waupun. He entered the Conference in 1857, and before coming to Waupun had been stationed at Bristol, Pleasant Prairie, Geneva, and had also served as Agent of the Northwestern Seaman's Friend Society. After leaving Waupun his appointments have been Janesville in the Wisconsin Conference, and Mineral Point in the West Wisconsin. At the last Conference he was appointed Presiding Elder of the Madison District, where he is rendering effective service.
Brother Couch is a very useful man, having unusual ability to adjust himself to such work as requires special adaptations. He has a great fund of anecdote, and is able to make a draft on this reserve whenever needed. He has special control of the purses of the people, and hence is in great requisition wherever there is a call for funds, and especially at Church dedications. He is a pronounced success.
At Lamartine my Quarterly Meeting also revived old recollections. The charge now embraced Rock River, where I formed a class in 1845, and also the Society that held their services, at an early day, in Brother Stowe's Chapel. A Church had now been built at Lamartine, the centre of the charge, and also a Parsonage. The charge was now in a flame of revival. With the praying band at Rock River at one end of the Circuit, and Brother Humiston and his devoted laborers at the other, an almost continuous revival was but the normal condition. But in addition, I now found the circuit under the charge of Rev. I.S. Eldridge, one of my old co-laborers at Janesville.
Brother Eldridge entered the Conference in April, 1859, and before coming to Lamartine had been stationed at Utter's Corners, Palmyra, Wauwatosa, and Byron. He was now on his second year, the charge having enjoyed during the former one great prosperity. After leaving Lamartine, Brother Eldridge's appointments have been Horicon and Juneau, Fox Lake, Brandon, Sheboygan Falls, Burnett, and Eagle.
Brother Eldridge is yet in the vigor of his strength, and gives promise of many years of usefulness. While his great forte is revival work, he has mental and spiritual force enough to amply sustain every other department of a Minister's obligation. During the earlier portion of his work, his incessant labor in protracted meetings greatly abridged his opportunities for study, but I presume in later years he has endeavored to retrieve the loss sustained. At this writing he is again at Eagle, where his accessions are already climbing the second hundred.
At Horicon I found Rev. Walter McFarlane, Pastor of the Horicon and Juneau charge. This dear brother and his most estimable lady gave me a hearty welcome, and made me feel at home in a few moments. I found the charge in a prosperous condition, and the Pastor in high esteem among the people.
Brother McFarlane is a Scotchman by birth. He entered the Conference in 1856, and was stationed at Cascade. His following appointments were Oconto, Vinland, Two Rivers, and Empire. He was now on his second year in his present charge. After leaving Horicon, he was stationed at Byron. While on this charge he and his good lady took great interest in fitting up the Camp-Meeting grounds of the Fond du Lac District. A fine Preacher's stand was erected, comfortable seats were provided, and many permanent tents were built. The meetings during this period became far-famed and highly profitable. The great burden of looking after all local matters was sustained by this good Brother, as the Pastor of the charge, and the administration was always highly acceptable. After leaving Byron, his appointments were Winneconne, Bristol, Sylvania, and Granville. In this last named charge, he is at this writing doing effective work.
Brother McFarlane is well versed in Theology and Biblical criticism. He has a large fund of information on all subjects of general interest, and is able to make himself an interesting companion among the people. He has an intense dislike to the superficial, and is never satisfied with the examination of any subject until he can feel the firm foundation beneath him. In his sermons he seeks to give reliable information on specific subjects rather than spin glittering generalities. Firm as the Highlands of his native home, and balmy as her valleys, he is none other than a highly esteemed brother.
Conference of 1866.—Centenary Year.—Lay Delegation.—Reconstruction.—Returned to Fond du Lac District.—Seven Sermons a Week—Rev. O.J. Cowles.—Beaver Dam.—A Good Record.—Fall River.—Early History.—Columbus.—Rev. Henry Sewell.—Conference of 1867.—Election of Delegates.—Cotton Street.—Rev. R.S. Hayward.—Rev. A.A. Reed.—General Conference.—Conference of 1868.—Rev. T.C. Wilson.—Rev. H.C. Tilton. Rev. John Hill.—Rev. Isaac Searles.—Rev. J.B. Cooper.—An Incident.—Close of the Term.—Progress Made.
The Conference of 1866 was held at Ripon, Bishop Clark presiding. The Secretaries were the same as the preceding year.
The Centenary of American Methodism occurred this year, and the month of October had been set apart for the purposes of a celebration. The writer had been designated to preach a Centenary sermon during the session of the Conference, but as I was called to Waupun to attend the funeral of my brothers's wife, on the day the services were to have been held, the good Bishop kindly consented to occupy the pulpit for me.
The collections during the Centenary year were mostly given to Educational purposes, the Lawrence University, the Garrett Biblical Institute, and the Evansville Seminary being the beneficiaries. The first named received perhaps fifteen thousand dollars.
The subject of Lay Delegation again engaged the attention of the body. While fully sympathizing with the general movement, the Conference anticipated the contemplated change by inviting the several District Steward's meetings to elect three Delegates from each District to visit the ensuing session of the Annual Conference, and co-operate with that body in its deliberations, as far as the polity of the Church would permit. The invitation was accepted, and at the next session the Delegates were cordially received.
At this time the question of the Ecclesiastical Reconstruction of the South was beginning to agitate the Church. The Conference, always radical on all the great questions of the day, took advanced ground, and consistently adhered to its positions throughout the discussion. The subsequent history of the Southern work has fully justified the action taken.
With this session of the Conference began the Cabinet work of my third term as Presiding Elder. Adhering to my former convictions, I favored only such changes in the appointments as were dictated by the law of the Church and stern necessity. In connection with the appointments, an effort was made to secure my assignment to the station in Fond du Lac, but when it was known that a Committee from the Official Board was in attendance upon the Conference, the Ministers and Laymen of the District entered a vigorous remonstrance.
The Bishop kindly enquired whether I had any suggestions to make. I answered, "I have never interfered in making my own appointments; and it is too late to begin now. As you and the Cabinet understand the case, having had a full representation from both sides, I will step aside and let you decide the matter." After an absence of an hour, I returned, and found my name still at the head of the District.
At the close of the session I returned to Fond du Lac and entered upon another year of taxing labor. The work was growing rapidly, and it was necessary to reconstruct and enlarge several of the Churches, and build others. In several localities we succeeded in a consolidation of the work, thereby making it possible to erect several Churches. Instead of maintaining feeble appointments at contiguous school houses, we found it better to combine two or more of them, and build a Church in a central locality. In this way the Mulleton, Hingham, Leroy, Markesan, Lake Maria, and several other Churches found an existence.
During the winter season of this year, I was largely engaged with the several Pastors in protracted meetings. And during the first half of the year, I preached on an average seven sermons a week. The Pastors were a band of devoted and earnest workers, and the year was one of remarkable success.
At Fond du Lac a charge of Pastors occurred, as the term of the former Pastor had expired. His successor was Rev. O.J. Cowles. a young man of excellent promise. He was a graduate of Cornell College in 1860, and of the Garrett Biblical Institute in 1863. He entered the Conference the same year, and had been stationed at Kenosha, Berlin, and Appleton. After his two years of service in Fond du Lac, he was stationed three years each at Racine and Oshkosh.
Brother Cowles is a man of superior talent and excellent spirit. He is one of the rising men of the Conference, and bids fair to take a front rank. At this writing he is stationed at Whitewater, where he is in the midst of a gracious revival.
Beaver Dam Station was added this year to the District. Beaver Dam was settled by members of the Presbyterian Church, and hence its earliest religious services were held by the Ministers of that denomination. The first Methodist appointment was established by Rev. A.P. Allen in 1846, being then Pastor of Waupun Circuit as my successor. Rev. Henry Requa, as before stated, was employed by the Elder as his assistant. During the year these earnest laborers held a protracted meeting, which resulted in several conversions. The first class was formed by Brother Allen, and consisted of L.H. Marvin, Leader, Mr. and Mrs. Peters, Bennett Gordon, and Mrs. Reuben Dexter. Brother Marvin still resides at Beaver Dam.
The meetings were held in L.H. Marvin's cabinet shop, until other provision could be made. The first Church, a frame building twenty-six by forty feet in size, was commenced by Brother Allen in the winter of 1846 and '47, and completed the following year by Brother Requa. The building was enlarged under the Pastorate of Rev. I.M. Leihy in 1859. Under the Pastorate of Rev. A.A. Reed in 1870 and 1871, a large brick Church was erected, the writer being invited to lay the corner-stone the first year, and preach the dedicatory sermon the second. During Brother Reed's Pastorate a great revival also occurred, under the labors of Mrs. Maggie N. Van Cott, which added greatly to the strength of the Church. At the present writing, the Pastor is Rev. Isaac Wiltse, of whom mention will be made in a subsequent chapter.
Fall River and Columbus were assigned to the District this year from the Janesville District. At the organization of the work they constituted one Circuit, but had now grown to be independent charges.
Fall River Society was organized in the log house of Clark Smith, on Fountain Prairie, by Rev. Stephen Jones in 1844, the locality being at the time connected with the old Aztalan Circuit. The members were Rev. E.J. Smith, of whom mention is made elsewhere, his wife, Martha Smith, Clark Smith, Sarah Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Aaron E. Houghton. Brother E.J. Smith was appointed Leader.
A log school house, the first built in the county, was erected soon after, and the meetings were transferred to it. The population grew rapidly, being attracted by the beautiful location, and in due time there was a strong society. Under the energetic and effective labors of the Leader and his talented lady, this society was instrumental in the conversion of many souls.
In process of time a mill was built on the stream at Fall River. A fine school house was soon after erected, and the meetings removed to it, as the locality had become more central than the one on the Prairie. At the present writing, Fall River holds a most respectable rank as a charge, has a good Church, and a convenient Parsonage.
Columbus was visited by Rev. Stephen Jones in 1844, he having been appointed to Aztalan Circuit the preceding autumn. He preached the first sermon in the log dwelling house of Brigham Campbell, but I am unable to fix the date. Nor am I able to give the organization of the first class, but it is probable that during the early years the members in this locality were connected with the Society on Fountain Prairie.
In 1859 Columbus was made a station, and Rev. Henry Colman was appointed Pastor. The Society built their first Church, a frame structure, in an unfortunate location, but have now displaced it by a fine brick edifice, which they have placed in the central portion of the village. It is one of the best Churches in the interior of the State.
The present Pastor is Rev. Henry Sewell, who entered the Conference in 1858. His appointments have been Porter, Edgerton and Stoughton, Orfordville, Utter's Corners, Emerald Grove and Maxonville, Sun Prairie, Lake Mills, Oconomowoc, and Columbus. Brother Sewell is one of the most efficient men of the Conference. At Sun Prairie, he built a ten thousand dollar Church, and has succeeded in completing the enterprise at Columbus. In revival work Brother Sewell has met with rare success, usually increasing the membership of his charges at least one hundred per cent.
The Conference of 1867 was held Oct. 2d at Beaver Dam, Bishop Simpson presiding, and the same Secretaries were re-elected.
The action of the Conference on the subject of Lay Delegation will appear in the following resolutions:
"Resolved, That we are in favor of the representation of the Laity in Annual and General Conference."
"Resolved, That our Delegates to the next General Conference be instructed to use their influence in favor of such representation."
Having thus laid down the platform, the Conference next proceeded to elect the Delegates to the General Conference, resulting in the choice of G.M. Steele, W.G. Miller, Samuel Fallows, Henry Bannister, and C.D. Pillsbury.
Two other subjects specially engaged the attention of the Conference at this session. I refer to the "Sabbath Question," and "Ministerial Education." Appropriate resolutions were adopted, and measures taken to give efficiency to the timely expression of sentiment.
My work on the District opened at Cotton Street, Fond du Lac. This charge, under the name of Arndt Street, or North Fond du Lac, had been merged in the Division Street Station, and was now re-organized with Rev. M.D. Warner as Pastor. A new Church had been commenced during the preceding year, and it was now completed. The dedicatory services were conducted by the lamented Dr. T.M. Eddy.
Brandon was the next charge visited, the Pastor being my old friend Rev. R.S. Hayward, whose acquaintance, it will be remembered, I made as an Exhorter at Brothertown.
Brother Hayward entered the Conference in 1850, and had been stationed at Waupaca, Dartford, Metomon, Berlin, Wausau, and Sheboygan. He then served as Presiding Elder on the Waupaca District a full term, and was subsequently stationed at Vinland and Omro. In all these fields he had acquitted himself creditably, and was now doing a good work at Brandon. After leaving Brandon, he has served North Oshkosh, Clemensville, Menasha, Utica and Zion. At the last named he is now hard at work for the Master.
Rev. A.A. Reed, who had just completed a three years' term at Brandon, was now at Sheboygan Falls. This charge was continuing to hold a fair rank in the Conference, and during Brother Reed's Pastorate received many accessions, and also improved the Church property.
Brother Reed entered the Conference in 1859. His appointments had been Empire, Lamartine, Byron, Greenbush, and Brandon. At the close of a three years' term at Sheboygan Falls, he was sent to Beaver Dam, where he succeeded, as before stated, in erecting a fine Church, and greatly multiplying the membership. His present field, the Agency of the Lawrence University, is one of great labor. But in this work, as well as in whatever may be assigned him, Brother Reed is a grand success, and will accomplish his task.
The General Conference met in the month of May of this year in Chicago. During the session I was entertained by an old Milwaukee friend, Capt. J.C. Henderson, long known on the Lakes as the Sabbath keeping Captain. The two great questions that came before the body were Lay Delegation, and the admission of the Delegates from the newly formed Conferences in the South. Both measures received the approval of the General Conference, but as they were brought to the attention of the reader through the periodicals of the Church, I need not burden these pages with a further reference to them.
The Conference of 1868 was held Oct. 1st at Racine, Bishop Ames presiding. The term of Rev. Joseph Anderson on the Waupaca District having expired, one of the young, men of the Conference was appointed as his successor. I refer to Rev. T.C. Wilson.
This promising brother graduated from the Lawrence University in 1859, and was admitted to the Conference in 1862. Before being appointed to the District he had been stationed at East Troy, Clinton, and Neenah. His labors on the District were highly appreciated, and, at the close of his term in 1872, he was appointed Presiding Elder of the Appleton District, where he is, at this writing, still employed in the good work. He is recognized as a man of thorough scholarship, a good Preacher, and a successful laborer in the vineyard.
At the close of the Conference, the writer was returned to the Fond du Lac District for a fourth year. On the District there were but few changes, but among them was the bringing of two new men to Fond du Lac.
Rev. H.C. Tilton, appointed to Division Street, entered the Maine Conference July 21st, 1841. His appointments in that Conference were Mount Desert, Deer Island, Steuben, North Penobscot and North Bucksport. At the division of the Conference he fell into East Maine, and, before coming West, was stationed at Frankfort, Hampden, Bangor, Rockland and Damariscotta.
Brother Tilton came to the Wisconsin Conference by transfer in 1857. His appointments have been Summerfield, Janesville, Janesville District, Racine District, Asbury, Division Street. Court Street, Janesville, and Appleton.
Brother Tilton is a veteran in the work, having been in the Itinerancy nearly thirty-four years. Having possessed a vigorous constitution and firm health, he has taken his full share of privation and hard work. His services have always been in special demand, and he has not spared himself. He is a man of vigorous intellect and a ready delivery, his pulpit efforts always commanding the attention of the people. At this writing he is building in Appleton one of the best Churches in the Conference.
Rev. John Hill entered the North Indiana Conference in 1855. His appointments were Elkhart, La Grange, La Grove, Indianapolis, Anderson, Greenfield and Fort Wayne. He came to the Wisconsin Conference by transfer this year, and Cotton Street was his first charge. His next appointment was Summerfield, Milwaukee, and the last was Bay View. Here he was thrown from a wagon by the sudden starting of the horse, and, falling upon his head, received a severe injury, from which he died in twenty-four hours.
Brother Hill was a man of small frame, but a large brain and a generous heart. His style of speech was clear, distinct and rapid. He could reason a question with great force, and could fringe the most commonplace subjects with wit and humor. He was a true man, a good Preacher, and a faithful Pastor.
Rev. Isaac Searles was this year stationed at Brandon. He entered the Rock River Conference in 1841, and was appointed to Indian Creek Circuit. His subsequent appointments in that Conference were Sycamore, Cedar Rapids, Rock Island, Union Grove, and Hazel Green. In 1848, at the division, he fell into the Wisconsin Conference. In Wisconsin his appointments were Dodgeville, Lindon, Platteville, Madison District, Fox Lake, Fall River, Dartford, Beaver Dam District, Watertown, Waukesha, East Troy, and now Brandon. At this place his health failed, and, after lingering; until December 8th, 1870, he was called to the Father's house: above. His death was triumphant. His last words were, "Jesus is mine, Jesus is mine." "He saves me to the uttermost." "I am standing on the Rock." Thus passed away a. noble man, a true friend, and a veteran Minister.
Rev. J.B. Cooper was this year employed to supply Byron charge. This excellent brother entered the traveling connection in the State of New York, where he filled several appointments, but, his health failing, he took a superannuated relation in 1854, and came to Janesville. In 1857 he rendered special service, as before stated, in the great revival of that year, and in 1860 re-entered the regular work in the Wisconsin Conference. His charges have been Evansville, Delavan, Hart Prairie, Byron, Randolph and Rosendale, where he is stationed at the present writing.
Brother Cooper is a good specimen of the Itinerant Preacher. His manner is affable, his spirit genial, and his hand diligent. In all his charges he is deservedly popular.
At one of the Quarterly Meetings of this charge, I was approached, at the close of the morning services, by a gentleman who enquired whether I came from the State of New York. On learning that I did, he further enquired whether I attended, when a boy, Prof. McLaren's Academy at Gallupville. I informed him that I was there several years. "Well," said he, "are you the one who measured the shote?" I replied, "Tell me about it, and we will see." He then related the following incident: "At the time to which I refer there was a boy about thirteen years old who was very proficient in figures, and the Professor took great pleasure in giving him difficult problems to solve during the dinner hour. On one of these occasions, as the Professor was going across the green for his dinner, the boy met him and asked for a problem. Looking up, he saw a half grown hog near by, and quickly replied, 'Give me the cubic inches of that shote.' And, supposing he had got a good joke on the boy, he passed on. But as soon as he was fairly out of sight, the boy called together several other boys, and stated the case to them, adding, 'Now, boys, if you will help me to catch that shote, we will show the Professor a thing that they have never done in Edinburgh.' The boys consented, and his hogship was soon made a prisoner. Under a vigorous vocal protest, he was then dragged to the back end of the Academy building, and plunged into a half hogshead of water. After his release, of course, the vacant space in the hogshead, caused by the displacing of the water, represented the actual size of the shote. In five minutes more, the cubic inches were obtained, and on the return of the Professor the answer was ready for him." The story was well told, and I was obliged to confess to the impeachment.
During this, the last year of my second term on the Fond du Lac District, my strength was taxed to its utmost. Besides the regular Quarterly Meetings, I had made it my earnest concern to aid all the Preachers on the District in their work as far as possible. During the winter this service was largely rendered in protracted meetings, and during the summer in Church enterprises. In fact, the latter branch of labor had been made a specialty during the entire term. And as a result, two Churches had been dedicated in Fond du Lac, three on the Chilton charge, three on the Hingham work, one on the Byron, two on the Markesan, one on the Brandon, one on the Rosendale, one on the Fox Lake, one on the Empire, and one on the Horicon and Juneau, besides quite a number that were remodeled and largely improved. Including both classes, we had had on the District during the term twenty-two Church enterprises. Extensive revivals had occurred, and we were now able to report an increase of eight hundred and seventy-seven members.
Conference of 1869.—Stationed at Ripon.—First Visit.—Rev. E.J. Smith.—Rev. Byron Kingsbury.—Sabbath School.—Early Record of the Station.—Church Enterprises.—Rev. William Morse.—Rev. Joseph Anderson.—Revival.—Church Enlargement.—Berlin.—Early History.—Rev. Isaac Wiltse.—Conference of 1870.—Returned to Ripon.—Marriage of our Second Daughter.—A Happy Year.—Close of our Labors.
The Conference of 1869 was held September 23d at Appleton, Bishop Scott presiding. My term on the District had now expired, and a new appointment must follow. Several of the strongest charges opened their doors, but for reasons that were quite satisfactory both to myself and the good people, I was stationed at Ripon.
The following week I started for my new field of labor. As before stated, I had visited this locality in 1845, it then being known as Ceresco. But, besides a casual visit and a week's stay during the session of the Conference, I had enjoyed limited opportunities to maintain an acquaintance with the people or the charge. I reached the city Saturday afternoon, and immediately, satchel in hand, started down Main Street to find some one who might invite me to lodgings. I had not gone far when I saw a gentleman hastily crossing the street to intercept me. On approaching I found it to be Rev. E.J. Smith, a Local Preacher, to whom reference has been made in former chapters in connection with Fall River. I had learned of his removal to Ripon, but was hardly prepared to meet my old friend so suddenly, and receive such a hearty greeting. An invitation to lodgings immediately followed, and I joyfully accepted, remembering the kind hospitality this noble family had given me in other days.
After chatting over the past, and taking some refreshments, my old friend took me out to a multitude of introductions among the brethren. I found them all cordial, and began to feel quite at home among them. Passing down Main Street, we visited the Church, a building of respectable size and comparatively new, and passing down still further into the borders of what was formerly known as Ceresco proper, we found the Parsonage. This little walk of Saturday gave me an outline of the lay of things, and helped me to poise my head and arrange my thoughts for the Sabbath.
The Sabbath gave me a fair congregation, and at the close of the service we enjoyed a good Class Meeting, Led by my old friend, E.J. Smith. And as one of the living members of the class, I found also an old acquaintance of my boyhood and later years, Albert Cook. There were also a few friends of other days still residing in Ripon, and several who had come from other places to reside in the city, to join in the cordial greeting that was given me. The Sunday School, under the charge of Rev. Byron Kingsbury, so well known throughout the State in the Sunday School work, met also at the close of the morning service. It was in a flourishing condition, as it could not well be otherwise with such a Superintendent. The Superintendent introduced the new Pastor to the school, and playfully asked them if they thought the new Pastor was as good-looking as the old. Quite to my surprise, they answered in the affirmative. In the few remarks that followed I accounted for the good looks of both the former Pastor and the present on the score that I was the Father and the former Pastor was one of my boys, as I had introduced him to the Conference some years before. This little sally reconciled the children to the new state of things, and secured me a kindly greeting from all of them.
Since my Pastorate in 1845, a variety of changes had passed over the place and the Church. I found Ripon no longer a small settlement, nestled in the little valley between the bluffs, but a veritable city, now largely perched on the brow of the prairie, with its numerous business houses, its Churches, and its College. The Church, instead of being a small class with its meetings first in the dining hall and afterwards in the small school house, was now a large Society, and comfortably quartered in a respectable Church edifice.
But all these changes had not come in a day. The Circuit of twenty-four appointments, of which Ripon was only one, had been divided and subdivided until they had become nearly a score of charges. To trace these changes in detail would weary the reader, and hence I have only referred to them incidentally, as they have fallen into the line of my subsequent labors. In this connection, I must confine myself to Ripon and its immediate vicinity.
The first Quarterly Meeting of which I can find a record was held in Ceresco by Rev. J.M. Walker, Oct. 15th, 1855, Rev. William Stevens was then the Preacher in charge. The official members were: George Limbert, Local Preacher, Z. Pedrick, Recording Steward, Thos. P. Smith, Steward, and David S. Shepherd, Class Leader. There were at this time four classes connected with the charge, and these were located at Ripon, Ceresco. Rush Lake, and Utica. At the fourth Quarterly Meeting of this year there were two Sunday Schools reported. One at Ceresco, with thirty-three scholars, and one at Ripon, with twenty-one.
The following year, 1856, Rev. R. Moffat was sent to the charge. Utica was now put into another charge, and Democrat Prairie attached to Ceresco. During this year, a small frame Church was built in Ceresco, on the east side of the street, and about forty rods south of the Ceresco mill. The pioneer Church was used until 1860, when it was sold to Mr. W.H. Demming, who removed it to its present location for a cooper-shop. From 1856 to 1860, while the services in Ceresco were thus held in the small Church, the meetings in Ripon were held in the City Hall, which was rented for the purpose. When the new Church was built, the congregations were united.
The new Church, under the Pastorate of Rev. William Morse, was commenced in May, 1860, and the lecture-room was ready for use in March, 1861. The audience room was not completed until the Pastorate of Rev. J.T. Woodhead in 1862. Brother Woodhead was succeeded by Rev. Joseph Anderson.
Brother Morse had entered the traveling connection in the State of New York, had located, and had come West, seeking health for his wife. The death of Brother Maxson, of which mention is made in a former chapter, had left Ripon without a Pastor, and Brother Morse was employed to fill the vacancy.
Besides filling out the unexpired year, he remained two years on the charge, and during his Pastorate there were many accessions. He filled several other appointments subsequently in the Conference with great acceptability, but on account of family affliction, he was finally compelled to retire from active labor. At this writing he is in Western Iowa, where he does what he can to help on the good cause. He is a man of sweet spirit, and is highly esteemed by all his brethren.
Brother Anderson entered the Wisconsin Conference in 1852, and was stationed at South Grove, in Racine District. His subsequent appointments had been Milton, Geneva, Sheboygan Falls, Fond du Lac District, and Appleton. On the stations, and during his four years on the District, he had done efficient work, and was now brought to Ripon as the successor of Brother Woodhead, where he was well received. After leaving Ripon, his appointments have been, Presiding Elder on the Waupaca District four years, Waupaca Station, Second Church, Oshkosh, and Omro, his present field.
Brother Anderson is a man of large frame, and gives evidence of unusual physical strength. He has a strong head, a kind heart, and is inclined to the humorous. He can tell a good story in a social circle, and can relate a good anecdote in the pulpit. In the latter he is gifted in the line of similes, which often in his hands make the sermon interesting and profitable. He gives promise of many more years of usefulness.
At Ripon, the Sabbath having passed, steps were taken to place the Parsonage in readiness to receive the Pastor's family. Those noble women, Mrs. Kingsbury, Mrs. Smith, and others, not only aided in the necessary provision, but actually gave their personal superintendence to the arrangement of the furniture. A new carpet was put down in the parlor; a new stove in the sitting room, and such other measures taken as were deemed necessary to render the coming and stay of the Pastor's family agreeable to them. And when the family came on Thursday, they found the rooms warm, the table spread, and the house filled with happy faces, warm hearts and ready hands, to give them a cordial greeting. Such a reception, given by such a people, robs the Itinerancy of half its burdens, and gives to the relations of Pastor and people an exquisite setting.
The preliminaries settled, I took up my work in the order I had been accustomed to follow whenever assigned to station work. Knowing the importance of the pastoral as well as the pulpit labor, I had always been accustomed to adhere strictly to a division of labor, giving the forenoons to my study, and the afternoons to pastoral visits. By this arrangement I found I could give to the study all the time necessary to fully employ a healthy brain, and yet find time to pass over in consecutive order the entire list of families in regular attendance upon the Church, three or four times a year. The prosecution of this plan in Ripon soon filled the house with people, and also added greatly to the spiritual prosperity of the membership.
During the winter considerable revival interest pervaded the congregation, which had now come to fill the Church to suffocation, and not less than seventy-five persons professed conversion. The students from the College came to the Church in great numbers, and several of them were found among the converts.
During the winter, a lecture course was instituted, under the auspices of the Literary Society connected with the College, and I was requested to give the first lecture. The flattering manner in which the effort was spoken of by the press brought other invitations, and I yielded to several of them, though my time was too much occupied with my regular work to indulge myself far in this direction. At this time I was also employed to do considerable work in connection with the press. Besides becoming one of the corresponding editors of the Index and the N.W. Advance, two papers published in Milwaukee, I accepted the position of a Local Editor on the Fond du Lac Commonwealth, and in this capacity represented Ripon and its vicinity in its columns.
During the winter, I was called to Onion River to dedicate the new brick Church that had been built on the Hingham charge, and in the following summer I was called to Oshkosh to re-open the First Church, which had been enlarged and greatly improved by the Rev. Wm. P. Stowe. Frequent calls were also made upon me for addresses on Temperance and other subjects. I yielded as far as consistent with my other obligations, but made in these cases, as ever in the course of my labors, all such calls yield to the pressing demands of my regular Ministerial work.
But at this stage of our work, another enterprise lay immediately before the good people of Ripon. The Church could no longer accommodate the crowds of people that thronged it, and an extension became necessary. A united and generous effort, however, soon rendered this necessary improvement a fixed fact. By an extension of the length and reconstruction of the basement, and suitable refitting, the Ripon Church became not only commodious, but, in size, the second Church in the northern portion of the Conference.
On one of the beautiful days of June, I concluded to make a visit to Berlin. Taking my family in a carriage, we passed over a delightful country and along pleasant roads, wondering at the change that had come over that region since I made my wild excursion in this direction in 1845, to find Strong's Landing. I now found Berlin a pleasant city and the home of many valued friends, whom I had known elsewhere.
Berlin, though now aspiring to be a charge of respectable standing, had its beginning, like all others, in "the day of small things." The first Methodist sermon was preached by Rev. Mr. Bassinger in September, 1850. The services were held in the office of a warehouse. Berlin was now connected with Dartford, and became a regular appointment. Brother Bassinger formed a class in connection with the first service in the warehouse. The members were Reuben Tompkins, his wife, and two daughters, Mrs. Kellogg and Mrs. McElroy.
Until a Church was built the meetings were held, after leaving the warehouse, first over Mr. Bartlett's store, and afterwards over Mr. Alexander's clothing store. The first Church was built under the Pastorate of Rev. J. Pearsall in 1851. It did good service for several years, and was then sold. It is now used as a blacksmith shop. The second church, the present respectable edifice, was built in 1858 by Rev. D. Stansbury, and was dedicated by the late Dr. T.M. Eddy. The Parsonage was built by Rev. D.O. Jones in 1862.
Rev. Isaac Wiltse, the Pastor at Berlin at this time entered the Wisconsin Conference at its April session in 1859. His charges before coming to Berlin were Wautoma, Kingston, Door Creek, Lowell, Liberty Prairie, and Dartford. Since leaving Berlin, his appointment has been Beaver Dam, where he is now doing a good work for the Master.
Brother Wiltse is one of those men who usually remain on a charge as long as the law of the Church will permit. He is a young man of a clear understanding and genuine piety. As a Preacher he holds an excellent position in the Conference, and he is not less esteemed as a Pastor. Avoiding all effort to make a show in the world, he furnishes a large stock of Gospel truth in his sermons, and puts into his administration an equal share of common sense.
The next session of the Conference was held Oct. 12, in Janesville. We were returned to Ripon, as expected by all. But the year opened with another of those occasions which strangely unite both joy and sorrow. On the third day of November, a happy group were met at the Parsonage, to celebrate the marriage of our second daughter, Laura Eunice, and Mr. Jesse Smith, of Fond du Lac. This event took to Fond du Lac our second and only remaining daughter, leaving us alone with our son, now twelve years of age, as the only representative of young life in the household. Those only who have thus felt the shadows one after another creeping around the home hearth, can realize the desolation of feeling that broods over the parental heart on such occasions. But there is no time in this life to estimate its losses. The duties of the day are ever upon us, and we must away at their call.
The Church enlargement had been completed, and every indication gave promise of a successful year. Our associations were exceedingly pleasant, and the Church, at peace in all her borders, was in a healthy spiritual condition. During the winter a revival again blessed the labors of Pastor and people. The following summer was one of great comfort. The two years spent at Ripon were among the most happy of all our Itinerant life. Not a jar had disturbed the fair fabric of our dreams, not a ripple had disturbed the happy flow of feeling. And, strongly entrenched in the confidence and good feeling of all the people, we closed the year in full expectation of a return and another successful term.
Conference of 1871.—Election of Delegates.—Laymen's Electoral Convention.—Temperance.—The Sabbath.—Rev. Thomas Hughes.—Appointed to Spring Street.—Third Term.—Wide Field.—Rev. C.D. Pillsbury.—Rev. W.W. Case.—The Norwegian Work.—Rev. A. Haagenson.—The Silver Wedding.—Results of the Year.
The Conference of 1871 was held in the Summerfield Church, Milwaukee, Oct. 11, and was presided over by Bishop Simpson. At this session the election of Delegates to the General Conference again occurred. The Conference was entitled to five clerical Delegates, and the Laymen to two. The Conference elected G.M. Steele, C.D. Pillsbury, Henry Bannister, P.R. Pease, and W.G. Miller. The Laymen's Convention elected Hon. Wm. P. Lyon, of the Supreme Court of the State, and R.P. Elmore, Esq., of Milwaukee. Judge Lyon being unable to attend, his place was filled by Prof. H.A. Jones, of Lawrence University.
At this session provision was made to hold a Methodist State Convention at Madison during the following summer. Able reports were also adopted on the subject of Temperance and the observance of the Christian Sabbath, showing that the members of the body kept abreast with the demands of the times.
This year the Conference was called to make a record of the death of two of its members, Rev. Isaac Searles, and Rev. Thomas Hughes. As reference has been made to the first named in a former chapter, it need not be repeated in this connection.
Brother Hughes was a native of Wales, and had been connected with our Welsh work. Alter serving two years in the Welsh Mission in Oneida Conference he came to Wisconsin in 1857. He settled in Fond du Lac county, and for several years supplied the Welsh Mission in Nekimi, preaching also at times to the English population in that neighborhood. His death occurred in Utica, N.Y. He was a man of strong mind, amiable spirit, and thoroughly versed in the doctrines of the Bible and the standards of the Church.
Besides this depletion of the Itinerant ranks, three of our brethren had been called during the year to go down into the deep shadows of domestic affliction, in the loss of their companions, Revs. William Teal, Warren Woodruff and H.H. Jones. The obituaries of these devoted co-laborers were inserted in the Conference Minutes.
During the session of the Conference, Mrs. Miller and myself were entertained by the Misses Curry, whose generous hospitality made our stay with them exceedingly pleasant. We also visited many of our old friends in the city as opportunity permitted, little dreaming of the surprise that was awaiting us.
The Conference closed in the usual manner by the reading of the appointments. But judge of our surprise to find ourselves assigned for a third time to the Pastorate of Spring Street Station, Milwaukee. To say we were surprised indeed would be but to state the truth, and yet to say we were pained we could not, for who that has ever known the good people of Old Spring Street, could ever deem it an affliction to be stationed among them. However, when we looked upon the weeping eyes of several of our dear Ripon friends in the congregation, and thought of the many others at home, we would have been other than human if our eyes had not also filled with tears. Nor is it too much to say, that we did not know how much we were attached to the good people of Ripon and our work there, until we found ourselves so suddenly separated from them. But on the other hand, what could we say? We came first to Milwaukee when in our youth. We came again to the Milwaukee District in 1859, and to the station in 1862, giving to the first four years of severe labor, and to the last three of the most successful years of our Itinerant life. We had known this people as it seldom falls to the lot of Itinerants to know a people. With not a few we had knelt at the Altar of God, when they passed into the spiritual kingdom. The names of very many of them had been entered by the writer's hand on the records of the Church. With many we had bowed our heads in recognition of their deep sorrow, and with many had clasped hands in the day of their rejoicing. And now, to be sent back to a third Pastorate within a period of twenty years, could not be deemed less than a great privilege.
But to our work. Following my life-long custom, the first Sabbath of the new Conference year found me at my post of labor. I was happy to find the charge in a good spiritual condition, and hence I was able to take up the work in its ordinary line of service. My first care was to arrange a complete system of pastoral labor, still entertaining the conviction that upon the faithful prosecution of this branch of the Ministerial work depended, in a good degree, the success of the pastoral function. And in this branch of service Spring Street Station imposes a vast amount of labor. As the mother Church of the city, her membership is widely scattered, and her congregations large. Yet the Pastor, with a careful husbanding of time, and an earnest effort, can pass over the field as often as the exigencies of the work require. He may not always visit each family as often as they desire, for there are many in every Church who have a very limited idea of the amount of labor, care and thought the pastoral office imposes, but he will be able to meet all reasonable demands.
The new Church had been completed during the preceding year, and had been dedicated by Rev. Drs. Eddy and Ives on the Sabbath before Conference, Oct. 8th, 1871. The building is a fine brick structure, one hundred feet in length by eighty in width at the transepts. Besides the auditorium, it has a large lecture-room, three parlors, a Pastor's study, a library room, and a convenient kitchen. The entire cost of buildings and grounds, including the Parsonage, was sixty thousand dollars. At the dedication subscriptions were obtained to meet the indebtedness of twenty thousand dollars with a satisfactory margin.
The new year opened with all the Church appliances in vigorous operation. The class and prayer meetings were well attended, and the intervening evenings were occupied by the meetings of the Ladies' Aid, the Literary and other Church societies. The Sunday School, under the superintendence of Rev. Edwin Hyde, was in a flourishing condition, ranking, doubtless, as one of the most numerous and successful schools of the city.
The Milwaukee District was now in charge of Rev. C.D. Pillsbury, who entered the Maine Conference in 1843. He filled the following appointments in that Conference: Dover, Atkinson, Sagerville, and Exeter. At the division in 1848, he fell into the East Maine Conference, where his appointments were Machias, Summer Street, Bangor, Agent of East Maine Seminary, and Presiding Elder of Bangor District. He was transferred to the Wisconsin Conference in 1857, and stationed at Racine as the writer's successor. His subsequent appointments have been Racine District, Chaplain of the Twenty-Second Regiment, Beloit, Agent of the Freedmen's Aid Commission, Janesville District, and Milwaukee District.
After leaving the District Brother Pillsbury has been stationed at Bay View and Menasha, but, his health failing, he took a supernumerary relation at the last Conference, and at this writing is residing at Minneapolis. He has done considerable literary work, in connection with his Ministerial labors. Brother Pillsbury has a well balanced mind, and is thoroughly versed in the great questions of the day. He is sound in theology and faithful in administration; a good, strong Preacher, and is universally respected, both as a man and a Minister.
Asbury Church was greatly delighted with the return of Rev. W.W. Case to its pastorate. He entered the Erie Conference in 1859, and in that Conference he had been stationed at Ellington, Cattaraugus, and Little Valley. He was transferred to the Wisconsin Conference in 1864, and had now been stationed three years each at Edgerton and Beloit. During his year at Asbury, he had gathered a fine congregation, and was now in great esteem among the people. He remained three years at Asbury, and was then stationed at Division Street, Fond du Lac, where he is at the present writing, serving the second year.
Brother Case is still a young man, and is blessed with a pleasant countenance, agreeable manners, and an affable spirit. In social life he is a great favorite. He is well read, and has an entertaining delivery. In the selection of his pulpit topics, and in the manner of their treatment, he dwells more in the sunshine than in the storm. He has already reached a position among his brethren that gives promise of great usefulness in the Master's work.
It has not been my purpose to embody in these pages a record of the exceedingly interesting and prosperous work among our German brethren, as their branch of Methodistic labor in the State has developed an Annual Conference of its own, and richly deserves a volume for its proper presentation. But as our Norwegian brethren are connected with our own Conference, a brief reference to their work will not be out of place.
It will be recollected that in a former chapter reference was made to the beginning of the work in our State. We will now refer to the opening of the good work in Milwaukee.
In the spring of 1864, the writer was holding a protracted meeting in the Spring Street Methodist Episcopal Church. At one of the meetings there came to the Altar as seekers, two Norwegians. As the meetings progressed, others came with them, until there were some twelve persons on probation and in full membership, who used the Scandinavian language. During the following summer, it was deemed advisable to form them into a class by themselves, and as they resided in the vicinity of the Asbury Church, put them in connection with that charge. Rev. P.K. Rye, then stationed at Racine, came down a few times and furnished them services in their own language.
At the ensuing session of the West Wisconsin Conference, in which the Scandinavian work was then placed, Milwaukee was connected with Racine charge, and placed under the care of Rev. A. Haagenson. The society was duly organized by the new Pastor on the 25th day of March, 1865. Brother Haagenson was greatly blessed in his labors, and before the end of the year purchased the German Baptist Church, located on Walker Street, between Hanover and Greenbush. The cost of the building and lots was eight hundred dollars. Brother Haagenson remained until 1868, when he was succeeded on the Milwaukee and Racine Mission by Rev. N. Christopherson, who remained until the close of 1870.
In 1871, Milwaukee and Ashipun were put together, with Rev. C.O. Trider as Pastor. The erection of a new Church, twenty-eight by forty-five feet in size, was commenced in December, and in May, 1872, the lecture-room was dedicated by Rev. A. Haagenson. At the present writing, Brother Haagenson is the Presiding Elder of the Norwegian District, and has also charge of the Station, having in the latter portion of his work Rev. O. Hanson as an Assistant.
Brother Haagenson is a man of deep piety and earnest purpose. Studious and laborious, he furnishes an excellent type of a Methodist Preacher. His labors are onerous, but his work is in a highly prosperous state, and is making a record of many conversions.
On the fourth of January, 1872, we celebrated our silver wedding. We had made a note of our wedding anniversary with considerable regularity from year to year, but had never until now celebrated any of the epochs which are so often made to divide the years of married life. In this instance we deemed it advisable to depart from our usual custom, since twenty-five years seems to be a point from which both the past and future may be seen ordinarily with considerable distinctness of outline. And further, it was now probable that the whole family could be brought together, an event which could not be looked upon with any great degree of assurance as probable at any future time.
The entertainment was given in the evening in the Parsonage, and was attended by about one hundred persons. Spring Street and the other Churches of the city were well represented. But in addition to these, there were delegations present from all the charges we had served in the Conference, each bringing the hand of greeting from our old friends to cheer us. A record of the occasion, however, would be incomplete if I were not to state that the silver ware of the house was increased by an addition valued at nearly five hundred dollars. But every rose has its thorn. Never before were we obliged to sleep with one eye open to guard our treasures.
The year now drew to a close, and, counting up the results, we found that fifty-one members had been received, the Pastor's salary, amounting to twenty-three hundred dollars, had been paid, the Church debt had been reduced to ten thousand dollars, and that to meet the balance there were subscriptions, including organ fund, of fifteen thousand dollars.
Conference of 1872.—Rev. A.P. Mead.—Rev. A. Callender.—Rev. Win. P. Stowe.—Rev. O.B. Thayer.—Rev. S. Reynolds,—Revival under Mrs. Van Cott.—Conference of 1873.—Rev. Henry Colman.—Rev. A.A. Hoskin.—Rev. Stephen Smith.—Illness.—Conference of 1874.—Rev. Dr. Carhart.—Rev. Geo. A. Smith.—Rev. C.N. Stowers.
The Conference of 1872 was held Oct. 9th, at Division Street Church, Fond du Lac, Bishop Haven presiding. The Woman's Foreign Missionary Society, having been fully recognized by the General Conference, was made the subject of a highly appreciative report, in which the Conference extended to the ladies of the Church a cordial welcome to this new field of effort, and pledged them a helping hand in the good work.
At this session Rev. A.P. Mead was appointed Presiding Elder of Waupaca District. Brother Mead graduated from the Garrett Biblical Institute in 1861, and was the same year admitted into the Conference. His appointments had been Sharon, Elkhorn, Kenosha, Bay View, and Lyons, when he was sent to the District. He remained only two years on the Waupaca District, and was then appointed to the Fond du Lac District. Brother Mead is a man of genial spirit and large practical sense. His sermons are replete with Evangelical truth, and produce an abiding impression. His intercourse with the people and Preachers is instructive, and his administration cannot fail to prove a blessing to the District.
At this session of the Conference, the decease of Rev. Aurora Callender, among others, was announced. Brother Callender entered the Pittsburg Conference in 1828, and was first stationed at Franklin, a circuit located on the slope of the Alleghany Mountains, and in the neighborhood of the Oil Regions. Before coming to Wisconsin, his appointments were Meadville Circuit, Meadville, Springfield, Cuyahoga Falls, Chardon and Middleburgh. Coming to Wisconsin, he was stationed, in 1850, at Sylvania. His subsequent appointments were Geneva and Elkhorn, Union, Hazel Green, Dodgeville, Mineral Point District, Norwegian Mission District, Clinton, and Agent of American Colonization Society, Subsequently he filled several charges as a supply, and departed this life in the midst of his work at Pickneyville, Ill., Oct. 23d, 1871.
Brother Callender was a veteran pioneer. Capable of great physical endurance, possessing a vigorous intellect, well skilled in theology and Methodist law, his labors were abundant and of a substantial character. In his earlier years, especially, his Ministry led many souls to the Cross.
At this Conference I was returned to Spring Street Station, and, Brother Pillsbury's term on the District having expired, Rev. Wm. P. Stowe was appointed Presiding Elder.
Brother Stowe, it will be remembered, was converted in his boyhood in his father's chapel. When grown to man's estate, he took up the trowel and thereby procured funds to secure his education. He graduated from the Lawrence University as a member of the Second Class, in 1858. He entered the Conference the same year, and was stationed at Sheboygan. The following two years he was stationed at Port Washington, but before the close of the second year his health failed, and he retired from the work. In 1862 he accepted the Chaplaincy of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment, but the year following he was re-admitted and stationed at Sharon. His subsequent appointments were Beloit, Racine, Oshkosh, and Summerfield, Milwaukee, in all of which charges he has left the fragrance of a good name and the legacy of substantial fruit. As a Presiding Elder, he is deservedly popular.
Brother Stowe has a large frame, tends to corpulency, and shows great physical vigor. With large perception, he reads men and surroundings aptly. In the pulpit, he puts ideas in logical relations, and aims at an object. His sermons abound in illustrations, strung on a strong cord of Evangelical truth.
Rev. O.B. Thayer was stationed at Summerfield Church, having become a member of the Conference in 1870. He had been stationed at Court Street Church, Janesville, and at Appleton. In both these charges he had developed a high standard of pulpit talent. He remained at Summerfield two years, and was then appointed to Kenosha, where, at the present writing, he is preaching to fine congregations.
Rev. S. Reynolds, State Agent of the American Bible Society, was also a member of the Ministerial fraternity of Milwaukee. This good brother came to the Conference by transfer from Iowa. He has been engaged for many years in his present work, and has gained a reputation, second to none, in the management of the laborious and manifold responsibilities of his position. In his addresses he deals in stubborn facts, and never fails to interest the audience. He is vigilant in looking after the details of his trust, but he needs a word of caution as to his health. His great labor is evidently overtaxing his strength.
My salary was again fixed at two thousand three hundred dollars. A new system of finance was now adopted, called the "Envelope System." In its principal features, it was similar to the "Card System," introduced during my former term, but contained several additional provisions to render it more effective. The new plan succeeded admirably, giving to the station, at the end of the first quarter of the year, the extraordinary record of having fully paid the Pastor's salary, and every other claim for current expenses, besides liquidating several bills for improvements on the Church and Parsonage. And it is proper to add that the current year closed with several hundred dollars in the Treasury.
The regular work of the station opened this year encouragingly. A general quickening followed, and by mid-winter there had been half a score of conversions. Mrs. Maggie N. Van Cott, who had been engaged for a year to assist us, now came to our help. The meeting continued five weeks, under this most extraordinary laborer, and resulted in the conversion of near four hundred souls, about two hundred of whom united with the Spring Street Church.
The Conference of 1873 was held Oct. 15, at Whitewater, Bishop Merrill presiding. At this session Rev. Henry Colman, who had repeatedly served as Assistant, was elected Secretary of the Conference.
Brother Colman graduated from the Lawrence University as a member of the First Class in 1856. He entered the West Wisconsin Conference in 1858, and filled one appointment in that Conference, when, in 1859, he was transferred to the Wisconsin Conference and stationed at Columbus. In 1860 he was stationed at Green Bay, and the following year at Asbury, Milwaukee. In 1863 he was appointed Principal of the Evansville Seminary, where he remained four years. After leaving the Seminary, he has held a respectable class of appointments, and is now doing effective work at Fort Atkinson. He is a man of clear head and honorable, Christian impulses. Having a thorough knowledge of Biblical criticism, he has for several years rendered the Sunday Schools of the State a good service by furnishing in the Christian Statesman a weekly exposition of the Lesson.
In keeping with the provision of the Discipline, adopted at the recent session of the General Conference, for the Trial of Appeals, the Conference elected her quota as follows: W.G. Miller, O.J. Cowles, Joseph Anderson, J.W. Carhart, P.B. Pease, P.S. Bennett, and W.P. Stowe. But as there were no cases to be tried, the brethren elected were compelled to wear empty honors.
At this Conference, the writer again returned to Spring Street, it being the third year of the third term of my Pastorate among this people, and the thirtieth Conference year of my itinerent labors. Brother Stowe was also returned to the District, and Rev. A.A. Hoskin was appointed to Asbury, and Rev. Stephen Smith to Bay View.
Brother Hoskin entered the Conference in 1867, and before coming to the city had been stationed at Milton, Shopiere, and Menomonee Falls. He is a young man of fine culture, genial spirit, and great industry. His sermons embody the fundamental truths of the Gospel, and their manifold relations to practical life, and are highly appreciated by the people.
Besides being a good Preacher, he is also a poet of considerable reputation.
Brother Smith entered the Conference in 1856, and his first appointment was Sylvania. His subsequent appointments have been Elkhorn, Sharon, Geneva, Manitowoc, Fort Atkinson, Delavan, First Church, Janesville, and Bay View. On all these charges he has left the evidences of earnest and devoted work for the Master. At Bay View, the present year has been one of extraordinary success. The revival that transpired under his labors swept through the entire community, and gave an accession of more than one hundred members, a majority of whom were heads of families.
Brother Smith is a good Preacher, filling his sermons with a clear exposition of Evangelical truth. And his Ministry has ever been a benediction to the people of his respective charges.
The year opened in Spring Street Station with unusual promise. The social meetings were well attended, the congregations were large and attentive, the Sunday School, the largest in the city, prosperous, the several societies were doing effective work, and the finances were in an excellent condition. With this outlook, we were anticipating a glorious year, but how uncertain are all human expectations!
During the delivery of the morning sermon on Sabbath, April 26th, 1874, the writer was taken violently ill. The attack proved to be the prostration of the nervous system, resulting from overworking the brain, a difficulty that had been foreshadowed by several premonitions during the preceding year. My condition at the first was perilous, but after four hours of skillful medical treatment and careful nursing, the crisis passed. Then followed weary weeks of watching and waiting. Meantime, I received the earnest sympathy of my people, and the kind assistance of my brethren in the Ministry, who generously proposed to supply my pulpit.
The Conference of 1874 was held at Oshkosh, Bishop Foster presiding. I was able to attend and answer to my name, but could spend but little time in the Conference room. Whenever present I seemed to myself, as I must have seemed to others, like a dismantled ship, stranded on the beach. I was most kindly treated by all the brethren, being relieved of every burden, and assured of abiding sympathy.
At this Conference Rev. J.W. Carhart, D.D., was stationed, by request of the people, at Oshkosh. Brother Carhart entered the traveling connection in the Troy Conference, and came to the Wisconsin Conference by transfer in 1871, being stationed at Racine. He had just completed a full term, and hence Oshkosh is his second appointment in the Conference. He is a man of superior culture, fine preaching ability, and cannot fail to give character to the pulpit, wherever he may be stationed.
Rev. George A. Smith was stationed at Spring Street as my successor. Brother Smith entered the Conference in April 1859, his first appointment being Principal of the Evansville Seminary. His subsequent appointments were Milton, Emerald Grove, Lyons and Spring Prairie. In his last field his health failed through intense mental application, and he was compelled to retire from the work. After five years of rest he was again able to resume his labors, being stationed first at Pleasant Prairie, and next at Kenosha.
Brother Smith is in the strength of his manhood, has a vigorous mind, is a fine thinker, uses clear-cut and well selected language, has a most amiable spirit, and his Ministry cannot fail to be a grand success anywhere.
Brother Stowers came to the Conference by transfer in 1867, and first served as Professor in the Lawrence University. In 1869, having been elected President of the Upper Iowa University, he was transferred to the Upper Iowa Conference. He returned, however, to the Wisconsin Conference the following year, and was stationed at Janesville. His next charge was Whitewater, where, during his three years' Pastorate, he achieved great success in the erection of a fine brick Church, and in securing large accessions to the membership.
Brother Stowers is a man of great energy and decided talent. He has an excellent voice, a ready utterance, and abundant illustrations, which render his pulpit labors attractive. He is an able and successful Minister.
At the adjournment of the Conference, the Preachers hastened to their new fields of labor, perhaps hardly thinking, in their eagerness to be at their work, of the tearful eyes that were looking after them, and the aching hearts of those brethren who, no longer able to go out with them to the battle, were compelled to languish in hospitals, or linger by the wayside.
As for myself, I returned to Milwaukee, and retired to the quiet home a few personal friends in the city and elsewhere had assisted me to build, and where I now write this, the last line of
THIRTY YEARS IN THE ITINERANCY.