Edward Payson Hart.

Reminiscences of early Free Methodism online

. (page 1 of 15)
Online LibraryEdward Payson HartReminiscences of early Free Methodism → online text (page 1 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Bequest of

Frederic Bancroft







Senior General Superintendent
Of the Free Methodist Church of North America






Free Methodist Publishing House

14 North May Street


\ t


To the Memory of Rev. Benjamin
Titus Roberts, which is as oint-
ment poured forth, this book is
affection a teljr dedica ted.

The Author.


At the earnest request of the editor of the Free
Methodist much of the matter contained in the follow-
ing pages was originally prepared for publication in
that paper. The writer had no thought that the
articles would ever appear in book form. But as
many of the readers of the sketches, as they appeared
in the Free Methodist, have expressed a desire to have
them in a more convenient and durable form I have
by advice of our publishing agents consented to their
publication, and have revised the matter as it origi-
nally appeared, adding several entirely new chapters.
As to literary merit these pages are not open to
criticism since no claim in that direction is made.

Another volume giving a more general account
of the work East and West is contemplated.
Alameda, Cat. E. P. Hart.



Chapter I.: Origin of Free Methodist Church— B. T.
Roberts, L. Stiles, J. McCreery and Others Ex-
pelled from Genesee Conference of Methodist
Episcopal Church— Roberts' Appeal Denied by-
General Conference— Preaching of J. W. Redfield
Important Factor in Formation of Church— Doctor
Redfield Labors at Saint Charles, Illinois— The
Way Opened for the Doctor's Work at Marengo,
Illinois, by a Dream— Some at Marengo Who
Knew God— A Mother's Protracted Meeting-
Joseph G. Terrill Converted— Doctor Redfield
Labors at Elgin, Illinois— J. G. Terrill Receives
Increased Light— Tribute to Joseph G. Terrill—
C. E. Harroun Saved, Becomes a Strong Preacher. 1-9

Chapter II.: Doctor Redfield Begins Meeting at
Marengo — Young Lawyer Invited to the First Ser-
vice—Fear that the Doctor May Fail Through
Embarrassment— Fear Dispelled and a Young Con-
vert Dazzled by Light— Doctor's Manner, Preaching
and Prayers— Odd Character Startles Congregation
—Many Rush to the Altar— Young Methodist Girl
Gels Fully Saved— Alone with the Doctor— Rather
Searching Questions— Young Converts Discouraged
— Tide Soon Turns— Sweeping Revival— Need of a
Fog-Splitter— Village Drayman Saved— Lawyer's
Wife Gets Salvation 10-18

Chapter III.: Doctor Redfield Preaches at Wood-
stock—Brings the Pastor to the Point— I. H. Fair-


childs — Work Opposed at Saint Charles — Transi-
tion of Methodist Episcopal Church — Pastor How-
ard, of Methodist Episcopal Church, Reads Out
Members Without Trial — Doctor Redfield Denied
Methodist Episcopal Pulpit — Universalist Church is
Secured — Rally of Holiness People — Benjamin
Hackney — Great Sermon— Persecuted Saints Rent
Hall and Send for Joseph Terrill — Meeting afClin-
tonville — Work at Vermont Street, etc., Increases
in Power — Work at Franklinville Church — Pre-
siding Elder Warns the People — Preacher in Charge
Changes Front — People Petition for Change of
Preachers — Both Senior and Junior Preachers
Returned — Father Bishop Opens His House for
Holiness Meeting — Preacher in Charge Tries to Get
Control of Meeting — The Best Family — Meetings
Opened in Brick Schoolhouse — Large Methodist
Episcopal Class Formed — Father Bishop's Family
Attend — They are Cited for Trial — Unjustly Con-
demned—Expelled — Preacher in Close Place —
Form Earnest Christian Band — Forty Days' Fast. . 19-27
Chapter IV.: Writer Feels His Need of Salvation —
Infidel Lawyer Settles the Question — An Earnest
Seeker— Makes Preparations to Attend School of
the Prophets — Plans Thwarted — One of God's
Doctors of Divinity — Seeking the Experience of
Entire Sanctification — Trying Tests — Way Opens
to Preach — Secretary of Lodge— Intellectual Cul-
ture Desirable — Licensed to Preach — Receives
Works of Edward Payson — The Converted Black-
smith — No Lack of Confidence — He is Killed in
Battle Before Richmond — Hooper Crews — Appoint-
ment as Junior Preacher on Lynnville Circuit —
Brother Campbell Preacher in Charge— Meetings in
Kendrick Schoolhouse— Aunt Polly Kendrick —
Demonstrations Annoy Preacher in Charge— Grove
Meeting at Lynnville— Send for Seymour Coleman


—First Meeting with Joseph Travis— Storm Stayed

by Prayer — Hotel Keeper's Wife Angry 28-39

Chapter V.: Rev. Travis Stops at Lynnville — Visits
Methodist Episcopal Camp-Meeting in Wisconsin
— A Runaway — Reach Camp-Ground— Meet Brother
Fox — Introduced to Presiding Elder — Looked Upon
with Some Degree of Suspicion — Preach but Once
— Start for Saint Charles, Illinois, Camp-Meeting —
Stop at Marengo, Illinois — A Tempting Offer
Rejected — Reach Saint Charles Camp-Ground
Early Friday Morning — Introduced Brother Travis
to Doctor Redfield— First Meeting with Rev. B. T.
Roberts — Power of God Present at Meeting — Some
Degree of Wildness — Seymour Coleman Explains
Extravagances — Bishop Girl Sings "Gideon" — Mar-
ried to Bishop Girl — Brother Travis Joins the New
Church — Is Sent to Saint Louis — Take Wife to
Circuit — Good Sister Thinks Bride is Rather
Plainly Attired — Good Service on Sabbath — Visit
Lynnville Appointment — Hotel Keeper's Wife
Pleads for Universalists — Return to Marengo at
Close of Conference Year — Notify Presiding Elder
to Drop Name from Conference — No Appointment
Ready in New Church — Decide to Step into First
Open Door 40-49

Chapter VI.: Political Excitement of Fall of i860 —
Door Unexpectedly Opens to Preach at Belvidere,
Illinois — David Cooper and John Horan — Appoint-
ment in Universalist Church at Belvidere — Lucius
Matlack Yields Pulpit — Doctor Redfield Preaches
Sabbath Evening to Large Congregation — Accom-
pany the Doctor and Wife to Ogle County — Brother
Terrill had Raised up a Work There — J. W. Dake
and Others Enter the Work — Doctor Redfield Goes
on to Aurora, Illinois — Is Stricken Down with Par-
alysis — Secure Congregation-alist Church at Belvi-
dere — Large Congregations — Form Class and Pur-


chase Church Property — Discipline Adopted at
Clintonville — James Mathews Takes the Work at
Belvidere — Go to Marengo — Commence Meetings
in Street — Finally Secure Metropolitan Hall — Judah
Mead Holds Quarterly Meeting — A Loud Time —
Open Doors of Church — Three Join — Village Dray-
man Joins Later — Buy Lot — Move Back Old House
and Make a Church of it — Build Permanent House
of Worship in the Spring — Fearful Tornado — Con-
ference Appoints to Saint Charles, etc 50-57

Chapter VH.: Incidents of Work at Belvidere and
Marengo — Discipline Forbids Secrecy — Convinced
that Oath-Bound Secret Orders are Wrong — Getting
Out of the Lodge . 58-64

Chapter VHL: Pleasant Year at Saint Charles — Meet-
ings in Old Court House at Geneva — German Man
and Wife Saved from Catholicism — Child Sick but
Get Encouragement— Saloon Keeper Convicted —
Set About Building Church — Plans Enlarged— Prop-
erty Sold— Onslaught of Roughs at Saint Charles
Camp-Meeting — Newell Day Injured — Ordained
Deacon at Clintonville Fall of i860— Requested to
go to Michigan — Sent to Marengo with Understand-
ing I am to Visit Michigan — Return to Marengo —
Rev. J. W. Redfield Dies— Brother Roberts Attends
Funeral at Marengo — Impressive Scene at Funeral
— Doctor Redfield's Testimony — Steps Over into
Heaven— Illinois Conference Assumes Respectable
Proportions — CyrusUnderwood— J. W. Dake Raises
up Work in Bureau County — Joseph Travis — N. D.
Fanning— Thomas LaDue— M. V. Clute 65-79

Chapter IX.: C. E. Harroun's Reason for not Going
to Church to Preach — Great Storm— Arrange to
Visit Michigan — Failed in Getting Rates from Chi-
cago, but Got an Incident — Picture of Imagination
not Realized — Gloomy Outlook — Wife Keeps up
Courage— Find House of Father Jones— A Hearty


Welcome— Attend Methodist Episcopal Conformist
Church— How the Way was Opened for Free Meth-
odism in Michigan — Meeting at Milan well Attended
—Favorable Impression of Free Methodist Church
— Sister Lewis Lays Aside Bonnet Trimmed with
Artificials, Puts on Veil and Comes to the Com-
munion—Hold Meetings in Father Jones' Neigh-
borhood—Happy Jimmy 80-90

Chapter X.: Visit Otter Creek— Cold Reception— Stop
at Rum Tavern — Visit from House to House— Find
People Nearly all Lutherans or Catholics— Have
Family Prayers with Landlord and Wife— Wife an
Old Once-in-grace-always-in-grace Backslider —
Return to Ida Station— "If Man Living Here Should
Get Saved it would Stir this whole Country"— Get-
ting Homesick— Determined to Make or Break —
Commence in Plues Schoolhouse— Decide to Hold
Afternoon Meetings in Private Houses — House of
John Plues Open— Away to Attend Funeral— Sister
Hart Leads Meeting at House of Plues— Encounters
Sneering Scoffer— Scoffer Cornered and Begins to
Break — John Plues— Mrs. Plues Gets Blessed—
Forbid to Read Bible and Pray — "Samantha,
do You Think Those Preachers would Come and
Pray for Me?" — Sister Plues Calls at Timothy G.'s
for Preachers — "Timothy, John wants you to come,
too"— Choker for Timothy— Preacher Caught up —
"Am I in the Straight Way?"— Praying for Neigh-
bors—Start Out to Pray with Neighbors— Nearly
all the Neighbors Break and Get Saved— Plues
Opens His House to Entertain Preachers — Laborers
Raised up— Elsworth Leonardson— Confessing a
Call to Preach— Soon at it— Meeting Classes— Plan
to go Home— "You have Got Us into this Boat and
You must see Us Through" — "By the Grace of God
We will"— Return to Illinois— Meet with Opposition
in Going Back to Michigan— Brother Roberts Sane-


tions Our Return— C. S. Gitchell Takes Work at
Marengo 91-106

Chapter XL: Stop at Mishawaka, Indiana — Go on to
Osseo — Disappointed in Appointment — Baby Sick
— A Dilemma — Lord Opens the Way — Methodist
Pastor Greets Us— An Old Friend— Baby Better —
A Fruitful Valentine— Little Heathen Shown— Mrs.
Frink Breaks Down and Gets Saved — Grove-Meet-
ing in Plues Neighborhood — Party from Hillsdale
County — Brother Roberts Does not Arrive — Put up
a Man to Preach — People Take Him for Our Bishop
— Are Disappointed — Go to Plues' Ball-room to Get
Ready to Preach — "Glory to God, Brother Hart,
Roberts Has Come!" — Hasten to Grove — Brother
Roberts Refuses to Preach— But Exhorts— Hills-
dale Party Anxious to Join — Go to Saint Charles
Camp-meeting — On Return Stop at Hillsdale —
Refuse to Organize Class — Return to Plues Neigh-
borhood — Urged to Visit Hillsdale — Cannot, for
Want of Means — Money Provided — Decide to Go —
Sister Coon Meets Us at Hillsdale — Meeting at
Steamburg — John Ellison and Wife Get Light 107-121

Chapter XH.: Brother Ellison Attends Sabbath After-
noon Appointment — He Attends Grove-Meeting at
Ida — Gets Fully Saved — Attend Illinois Conference
at Saint Charles — Memorial Services for J. W. Red-
field and Ira G. Gould — Report of Committee on
State of the Work—Return to Ida— W. D. Bishop
and Wife go to Michigan— "Lord Jesus, Drive Back
Powers of Hell!" — Revival Breaks Out — Hold on
for Four Weeks — Signs and Wonders 122-132

Chapter XIIL: Open Work on Huron River— Hunter
Convicted — Uncle Horace Ash — Jim's Team on the
Altar — Uncle Johnny Clark Saved — One of His
Later Testimonies — John Ellison Preaches Holiness
— Becomes Unpopular — Dismissed from Pastorate
— Some of His Members Stand by Him— Called to


Organize Class Where Brother Ellison Preaches—
"Go Ahead, Brother Hart, I'll go the Whole Hog"—
Good Advice Received — Work Spreads into Branch
County — Sylvester Forbes — Selling Soul for Pail of
Sap— Thou Art the Man— Scruples About Baptism
Removed— Powerful Camp-Meetings— On the "Old
Line" 133-142

Chapter XIV.: Attend Bergen, New York, Camp-
Meeting — Loren Stiles — Fay Purdy — Blind Henry —
Joseph McCreery — Try to Preach — Introduced to
McCreery — Was that You "Hollerin' so Out There?"
— Joseph and Benjamin — "A Living Christ" — Meet-
ing at White Church — Spirit of Dead Indian —
Preach on Spiritualism — Great Break — Sister Hart
Dreams of Serpent — Medium's Daughter Saved —
Return to Illinois — Help in Meeting at Aurora —
"Girl, All Doing Well"— Fail to Catch the Train-
Short of Funds — Lack made up — Attend Illinois
Conference at Marengo— Go to Morenci, Michigan,
to Open Work — Brothers Osgood and Goss — Get
Appointment in Campbellite Swamp — Come Out
Ahead — Conclude to Remove to Monroe County —
Snow-Bound 143-1 59

Chapter XV.: Michigan Conference Organized —
Lively Camp-Meeting — County Papers have a con-
troversy — Work Advertised — Short Conference
Year — First Free Methodist Church in Michigan
Built — Joseph Travis Presides at Session of Confer-
ence — Dedicates Church — Preacher's Necessities
Met — Gray Family — Elected with John Plues to
General Conference — Police Come in — C. H, Love-
joy Admitted on His Picture — J. McCreery Admit-
ted on His Face — J. McCreery Delegate to General
Conference — Log Rolling — Last Characteristic
Speech of Joseph McCreery 160-167

Chapter XVI. : Work at Windsor, Ohio— Quite a Scene
at Christmas Eve Service — Going Through with


Flying Colors — Family Separated — ''Lord Only
Knows Whether We'll All get Together Again" —
Hold Meeting at Coldwater, Michigan — Spiritualists
and Mormons Try to Ring in — Seeing Devils — Start
for Marengo, Illinois — Train too Slow — Edson A.
Kimball — Cyrus Underwood Holds Meeting at
Elgin, Illinois — Change Work with Brother Under-
wood — Stumbling Stone Johnson — Attend Michigan
Conference at Coldwater — Illinois Conference Held
at Elgin — President of Wheaton College Visits Con-
ference 168-178

Chapter XVII.: Work Spreads in Illinois Conference
— D. P. Reed — Brother and Sister Dudman — Lewis
Bailey — Third Session Michigan Conference —
"W. D. Bishop and One to be Supplied" — Confer-
ence Session af White Church — B. R. Jones Joins
on Trial — Is Ordained — Elected Chairman — Editor
— General Superintendent — Work Opens at Cooper-
ville, Michigan — W. R. Cusick — Hold Meeting in
Congregational Church — Revival Breaks Out —
Leading Ladies in Town Earnestly Seeking — Uncle
Tom and Aunt Rhoda Watson — Lord Breaks Down
Opposition to Work — Work Prospers at Coopers-
ville — New Church Built — Spreads East — Hold
Quarterly Meeting in Log Schoolhouse, Fifteen
Minutes Intermission Between the Logs 179-187

Chapter XVIII. : Grove-Meeting at Berlin, Michigan
—North Woods Full of Them— In Fall 1870 Confer-
ence Held at Holland, Ohio— Appointed to Toledo
District — John Ellison Appointed to Grand Rapids
District — Meeting Near Concord, Michigan — Meet-
ings at Eckford— A. V. Leonardson Appointed to
Concord and Eckford — Attention Called to Old
School Property at Spring Arbor — Session of Con-
ference Appointed to Concord Work but Held at
Spring Arbor — Fears About Entertainment — Con-
ference Well Cared for— Brother Roberts Meets


Old College Chum— Committee Appointed to Locate
School — Conference at Delta, Ohio — Work There —
Dedicate Church at Delta — Meetings in Toledo,
Ohio — Work Opens in Madison, Michigan — Lafay-
ette Reed 188-198

Chapter XIX.: Conference at Delta, Ohio — Spring
Arbor School — Laid by for a Rest — Providentially
Cared for — Life Despaired of — Lord Undertakes —
Striking Vision — Location of School Decided on —
Teachers Secured — Tramp Rescued — Becomes
Tutor to Our Future Principal — The First Faculty —
California Boys Helped — Our Schools a Blessing. ..199-212

Chapter XX.: Start Out on District Work— Meeting
at Jackson, Michigan — A Prophecy Fulfilled —
Conference Session at Coopersville — Remarkable
Sermon — General Conferences — J. Mackey Takes
Free Methodist — General Conference at Albion,
New York — Elected General Superintendent 213-221

Chapter XXL: Attend Meetings in Pennsylvania —
Clifford Barrett — Franklin, Pennsylvania, Camp-
Meeting — J.B.Corey — Boys in the Pit — Way Opens
to Summerfield, Ohio — Visit Attica, Lawrenceburg,
Indiana, etc. — Cincinnati, Ohio — Turning the Hose
on Them — Go on to Summerfield — Receive Hearty
Welcome — Church Already Built — J. M. Rounds —
Dr. Taylor 222-230

Chapter XXII. : The New Preacher and Wife— Large
Congregations — Truth Takes Hold — Sorry Hart
Came — Decide to Bring Matters to a Focus —
Brought to a Decision — Earnest Seekers — Inappro-
priate Singing — Meetings from 11 a. m. to 11 p. m.
— Slain of the Lord are Many— Footprints of J. B.
Finley — Billy Barnes — Jennie H. — Demonstrations
Nothing New — Blacksmith Converted — He Gets
Light on Entire Holiness — Open Church Doors —
Meetings at Freedom, East Union, etc. — Frail
Woman Makes a Stir— Old Local Preacher—


Classes Organized in Noble County— W. H. James
Given Charge — Preaches at Perryopolis — J. W.
Headly and Wife— Church Door Locked— "Let
Them Go"— Sister Headly Joins— Brother Headly
Joins on Probation — Licensed — Becomes District
Elder 231-242

Chapter XXHL: First Experience in Presiding at
Eastern Conferences — Asa Abell — "Don't Sing
That"— Responsibility Felt— John Reddy— At the
Centennial Exposition — Camp-meeting at Sala-
manca, N. Y.— R. W. Hawkins— Standing for the
Old Landmarks — Spirit Poured Out at Reading of
Hymn— West Randolph, N. Y.— Meetings in Bap-
tist Church— Stir Among Infidels and Baptists-
Miss Ella Hapgood— Young Convert Wins a Uni-
versalist Family 243-249

Chapter XXIV.: At Oberlin, O.— Crowded Hall— Col-
lege Chapel and Finney's Church— Finney's The-
ology—Devoted and Meek Saints— Burlington, Iowa
— M. L. Vorhies comes on — A Tramp Preacher —
Brother Vorheis' Railroad Song — German Catholic
Old Lady— John Burg— Church Built on North Hill
—General Conference of 1882 Held here— San Jose
California— Vacant Store Rented— Street Meetings
With Ross Taylor — Interested Englishman — He
Wishes to Join — "Nothing will Trouble me but the
Smoke"— Brother Brown's Will — Growth of the
Church Remarkable— Many Men and Women of
Noble Character 250-259


At different periods in the history of the church
crises have arisen at which it became necessary for
God to thrust out extraordinary men, ''endued with
power from on high," to change existing moral con-
ditions. These men, sent of God, have gone forth as
the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ''Prepare
ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."

The Free Methodist movement was born of a
divine purpose. After the natural conservator of
Methodism had lapsed into formality and worldli-
ness God placed his seal of authority upon a few
holy men and sent them forth to awaken the slum-
bering energies of the church and the world and
exemplify a type of piety at once deep, wholesome
and consistent. Evidently this movement was of
God and its leaders divinely commissioned. Yet its
right to an existence has been repeatedly challenged,
and it has been cast into a furnace of criticism heated
seven times hotter than for any other church of the
last half century, but it has thus far escaped even
the smell of fire on its sacred garments. The result
of these testings has been, and should ever be, to

xviii Introductory Note

keep its adherents humble before God and inspire
them to pursue with even greater intensity the
course outlined at the beginning.

The mission of this book is to call the attention
of its readers to the important lessons taught by the
past history of the church, to note the warnings that
it conveys for the future, and thus safely fortify
against the perils that threaten the life of the church.
History affords examples of churches which have
"triumphed over adversity but could not bear the
test of success."

The encouraging results already attained should
inspire the church with a firmer faith in God and in
the means employed for the promotion of his work,
and with a spirit of self-sacrificing devotion to those
Bible principles so closely related to our denomina-
tional existence.

But the church cannot live on past history. "The
mill will never grind with the water that has passed."
There must be aggression along legitimate lines.
"To maintain the Bible standard of religion," to seek
the salvation of all classes and to spread scriptural
holiness has ever been, and should ever be, the mis-
sion of the Free Methodist church.

To the many in and out of the church who will
read these reminiscences the author needs no intro-
duction. And with many of these a personal ac-

Introductory Note xix

quaintance with him and knowledge of his ministry
of over forty years will insure to the book a hearty

The author of this volume writes from personal
experience and observation in the ministry of the
Free Methodist church. Having been closely re-
lated to the Free Methodist movement from its
beginning, few men living are as competent as he is
to throw light on the practical events connected with
the rise and progress of the church. He has not
attempted to discuss opinions and methods, but sim-
ply to relate facts and narrate events. His extreme
modesty would not admit of his saying much of
himself or of his relation to the revivals he reports.
He has entered no further into the relation of the
events of his own life than seemed necessary to give
an intelligent account of the religious movement
with which he stands so closely related.

In early manhood Mr. Hart made choice of the
law as a profession, to the study of which he applied
himself for a short period. Soon after his conver-
sion he received a divine call to the ministry of the
gospel. He responded to the call, and thus his
gifts and capabilities were preserved for the upbuild-
ing of the Redeemer's kingdom. With the divine
commission written in living letters of light over the
entrance of his lifework, he bade a final adieu to

XX Introductory Note

every worldly ambition and identified himself with a
movement under conditions which enabled him to
assist in building from the foundation up an organ-
ization which was fully committed to the mainte-
nance of the fundamental principle of Methodism.

Of his extraordinary ability to adapt the truth of
God to the necessities of mankind, of his earnestness
and eloquence, I need make no mention. He is
well known throughout the church as an efficient
evangelist and an able minister of the gospel of
Christ. The redemption of mankind and the build-
ing up of the church in righteousness and true holi-
ness has ever been the master passion of his heart.
Ably assisted by his devoted, consecrated wife, he
has led the hosts of the Lord from conquering to
conquest, brought heavenly balm to many a sorrow-
ing heart, and been instrumental in turning many to
righteousness who will one day shine among the
stars in the celestial firmament.

This brief outline, covering a space of about
twenty-two years, bears upon its face the marks of a
thorough knowledge of the origin and mission of the
Free Methodist church. The doctrines preached
and the measures employed could but insure the
purity and permanence of the work wrought. The
author has endeavored to fix the attention of the
reader upon the various influences which have aided

Introductory Note xxi

in moulding our denominational character and pro-
ducing our distinctive features.

The careful study of this book is important to
the proper development of the church. How can
the younger members of the church fully appreciate
what they enjoy unless they know how it came to be?

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryEdward Payson HartReminiscences of early Free Methodism → online text (page 1 of 15)