Mrs. Roberts Florence.

Fifteen Years with the Outcast online

. (page 1 of 22)
Online LibraryMrs. Roberts FlorenceFifteen Years with the Outcast → online text (page 1 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

E-text prepared by Joel Erickson, Tonya Allen, and Project Gutenberg
Distributed Proofers







A missionary, upon returning from his field of labor in India, was
making an effort to stir up the sympathies of the people in behalf of
the heathen. By telling his countrymen of the influence of the gospel
upon the Indians and of the hundreds, even thousands, of them who had
become Christians, he succeeded in creating an interest among many of
his friends. He told many stirring experiences of the difficulties
encountered in the missionary work, and gave affecting accounts of the
persecution of the native Christians because of their turning from
their idolatry and former beliefs.

A noted English hunter had just returned from a hunting tour in Bengal.
These two men were invited to speak at a certain assembly. The large
audience listened attentively to thrilling experiences of the hunter as
he related the hairbreadth escapes in the jungles and told of the many
Bengal tigers seen and killed. After he had finished his account of his
hunting tour, he was asked to give a report of the missionary work as
he had found it in India. He stated that in all his travels in Bengal
he had not seen a native Christian and, further, that he did not
believe there were any, but that there were plenty of tigers. He said
that he had not seen a missionary on the field and that the
missionaries were deceiving the people by their reports.

The missionary was stung to the heart. He knew that the people were
almost ready to cast him down in derision because of the powerful
influence this noted hunter had exerted over the audience. When he
arose, trusting the Lord for wisdom that he might be able to convince
his hearers of the real situation of missionary work in India, he
kindly referred to the statements of the eminent hunter and said: "He
has related his exciting experiences in tiger-hunting and has told you
that tigers abound in that country. Why should I believe his word?
Though I spent several years in Bengal, yet I never saw a tiger outside
of a cage nor any one hunting tigers. He says he did not see a native
Christian or a missionary on the field. I have seen hundreds of them,
have lived among them, have taught them, and I am able to verify my
statements. Shall I discredit the statements of the hunter because I
saw no tigers? I was not looking for tigers; therefore I did not go to
the jungles to find them. He was not looking for Christians and
missionaries, and for that reason he did not go to the plains where
they were to be found." The words of the missionary had the desired
effect, and the cause that he represented was sustained.

It has often been said that the world is growing better and that the
places of vice are few; but if the veil is drawn aside only enough to
give a glimpse of the pitfalls of darkness and sin, one is made to
stand aghast and lift the hands in horror. How little is known of the
next-door neighbor! In our cities many people do not even know the
names or the occupations of those living in the next room or in some
other apartment of the same house. Oft-times dens of vice are almost at
our door, and we know nothing of their existence until we are awakened
by some sad occurrence that might have been avoided "had we known."

Many parents fear to inform their children of the evils of the world
and of the dives and pitfalls of vice. This false modesty, or failure
to impart knowledge, places children face to face with danger without
their suspecting any harm.

There are gambling-dens, houses of ill-fame, and various other places
of vice, where young and old are led astray. The "white slave
traders" - those who decoy and sell girls and young women for such
places - are ever on the alert.

The author of this book has spent years in trying to rescue girls from
such a life, and "Fifteen Years with the Outcast" will undoubtedly do
much to counteract the influence of these places of vice and infamy.

Fathers and mothers should place this volume in the hands of their
children and should encourage them to become sufficiently informed
concerning such things not only to protect themselves but also to warn

With a desire that the influence of this book may reach the highest
anticipations of the author I am

Yours in Him,

E. E. Byrum.



Little Rosa - A Warning to Mothers and Guardians


A Visit to Sacramento - The Outcome


My First Autoharp - I Forsake All to Follow Jesus


I am Introduced to the Rescue Home Family - A Glorious Test


A Crushing Situation - Wonderful Vision - Story of Rita


My First Call to the Prison Work




I Bid Farewell to the Sacramento Home


Woodland (Continued) - A Boycott


A Brief Call to Sacramento - I Enter the San Francisco Field


I am Introduced to the Dives of Barbary Coast




Services in County Jail, Branch No 3


Lucy - A Remarkable Experience


We Plan for a Home for Released Prison Girls


Santa Clara Experiences


Callie's Wonderful Story


Callie and I Visit the Jail, the Morphine Den, and the Mission


Still Southward Bound - Santa Cruz - Lucy Returns to Her Home


Joe's Story


I Depart for Pacific Grove - Meet Lucy Again - Her Baptism


Anna - We Leave for San Jose


Northward Bound - The Outcome


The Suicide of L - - . - Its After-effect


Good News from Home - Miss Loraine


Lucy's Letter - The School Teacher


San Quentin - We Secure a Lovely Property


God's Best


Dedication of Beth-Adriel


The Juvenile Court Commission - Henry


The Annual Board Meeting - Dollie's Story


Lost Sheep - The Ex-prisoners' Home - Hospital Scenes


A Wonderful Leading - How Girls Are Lured to the Dance-halls


The Women of B - - up in Arms - The Sisters Taken Home


Santa Cruz - Beba's Letter - The Earthquake


Relief Duty - San Francisco - Miss B - -


The Home Repaired - Mrs. S - - 's Experience


The Annual Board Meeting - Results


A Trip East - I Escape from a Confidence Woman


My Homeward Journey - Land for the Training School and Home


I Call on the Governor and Then Go South


Los Angeles Dance-halls and Other Places


Woman Employed at Dance-hall Tells of Many Pitfalls




The Women Prisoners of San Quentin


Vallejo, Mare Island, and Alcatraz


Irene's Awful Fate - The Wages of Sin


My Return to the Missionary Field


Some Precious Letters from Precious Children




Florence (Mother) Roberts

The Dive-keeper's Daughter


The Redwood City Street Meeting

Scene in a Morphine Den

"99 years, Mother Roberts!" Poor Joe!

View of Yard and Prisoners' Quarters, Represa, near Folsom

Bird's Eye View of San Quentin

"Everybody helped grease the hill I was sliding down. I soon reached
the bottom"

Poor Elsie!

Scene in a Dive Dance-hall

The Chittenden Home

Some Mother's Wandering Girl

San Quentin. Prison Yard

View of Warden's House, etc., Represa


Words and Music by Mother Roberts.

The Messengers (the Doves)

Her Voice

Still Nearer

Was It You?

The Songs My Mother Sang

The Value of a Song

Some Mother's Wandering Girl



"How did it happen that you became so deeply interested in rescue work,
Mrs. Roberts?"

Hundreds of times has this question been asked of me in various parts
of this State (California). In order, whenever time and place
permitted, to answer intelligently, I have replied by relating the
story of my conversion, through a vision, which occurred on the
afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 13, 1896.

For some time prior to this, with my husband, J. H. Roberts, a mining
man, also my son, an only child of fourteen, I had been living about
two and one-half miles from Angels, Calaveras County, California.

For lack of means to carry on the development work of the mine which
Mr. Roberts was at this time superintending, it closed. In order to
increase finances in our hour of need, I gave piano lessons. My health,
never in those days very robust, soon succumbed to the severe nervous
strain to which it was now continually subjected.


On the never-to-be-forgotten date of my spiritual birth, whilst I was
enjoying a much-needed rest and reading a novel, everything in the room
seemed suddenly to be obliterated from my view; I became oblivious of
my surroundings and was apparently floating in an endless vista of
soft, beautiful, restful light.

I was quite conscious of rising to a sitting position, pressing my left
elbow into the pillow, and with the right hand rubbing both eyes in an
endeavor to see once more my natural surroundings. But no! Instead,
suspended in this endless light, appeared a wonderful colossal cross of
indescribable splendor. This wonderful cross can be likened only to a
gigantic opal. Its rays of light seemed to penetrate me through and
through as over my mind flashed the thought, "I must have died, and
this is my soul!"

For one brief moment I closed my eyes, then opened them, and now, in
addition to the vision of the cross, came an added one of such a
glorious Being that words are utterly inadequate to describe him. No
writer, be he ever so skilful, could give a satisfactory word-picture,
and no artist, be he ever so spiritual, could possibly depict the
wonderful majesty of our glorious, loving, royal Redeemer.

His left arm slowly raised. Presently his hand rested on the right arm
of the cross. Then the wonderful eyes looked into mine. _That one
compelling look drew me - forever - to him._ But that was not all. With
the right hand he beckoned, reaching downward toward me, and I saw the
sweet smiling lips move. Though no sound emanated from them, yet I knew
they framed the one word "Come!" whilst the hand slowly, gracefully
moved, pointing upward toward the cross. A ray of light revealed a
healed wound extending the entire length of the palm. Soon this
invitation was repeated, and so great became my desire to hide (because
of my unworthiness) beneath the cross that I must at this time have
slipped off the bed, for when once more conscious of my natural
surroundings I discovered myself kneeling on the floor.

Then for the first time in my life I saw myself as I believe God sees.
What a revelation of selfishness and carnality! What a realization of
utter unworthiness! My righteousness was indeed and in truth no better
than "filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6).

_Could God, would God, forgive?_

Mentally I decided that, had I been in his place, lavishing and
bestowing innumerable and untold blessings day after day upon one so
careless, so heedless of his wonderful love, I should find it very,
very difficult, nay, impossible.

Oh, how I _now_ longed, _now_ yearned, to be different, as I caught the
reflection of carnal nature in the spiritual looking-glass! With all my
soul I implored mercy and pardon.

Suddenly thick darkness, indescribably thick, seemed to submerge me. I
felt as though I were smothering. I tried to find my voice. Presently
consciousness returned, and the room appeared as natural as ever. I was
crying aloud, "Save me!" At the same time it seemed that something
weighty was rolling up like a scroll off either side of me. I felt
free, light as air, and from that moment began to experience the New
Life, the True Life. _Oh, I was happy! So happy!_

One, only one, desire now had possession - that I might forever remain
under this benign influence. Did ever the birds chirp so sweetly! Was
ever parched nature or dried-up grass more beautiful! Oh, why did I
have to come back to this world! But how selfish! Now came the longing
to share my joy with others; I was eager to do so. Would my husband's
visitor never go? Finally I heard him making his adieus. Bathing my
face and smoothing my hair, I went forth to impart the glorious news to
Mr. Roberts.

Well, he listened attentively, as with soul filled and thrilled with
divine love, I endeavored to describe my wonderful vision.

"What do you think of it, dear?" I asked.

"I think you were dreaming," he replied.

"Oh, but not so! I heard you talking to Mr. Rouse from the time he
came, though I was paying no attention to your conversation. How could
I?" I inquired.

"Nevertheless, my dear, it was only a dream," he insisted.

Something (an inner voice hitherto unrecognized) suggested that I ask
what he thought of it, even though it might be but a dream. He admitted
that it was wonderful and beautiful. (Afterwards he told me that he
would not have paid so much attention to my recital had it not been for
the unusual light on my countenance. "You can't think how you looked,"
he said. "Your face shone like satin!")


Immediately following this God-given experience came the desire to
"search the Scriptures" (John 5:39). I regret having to tell you that
my Bible lay very near the bottom of a trunk and that the blessed
volume had not been opened for a shamefully long time.

It took me, in my spare time, something like three months to read the
book carefully from cover to cover. Not one word escaped me. I found it
to be so interesting - at first as a matter of history - that I began it
all over again. Thus it has been ever since; for to the Spirit-born
child nothing will, nothing can, take the place of the Bible. It is
always new, always refreshing. It is the voice of the tenderest, most
loving of parents, ever ready to answer our questions, comforting when
sorrowful, healing when sick, warning when in danger, ever directing,
admonishing, and encouraging under any and all circumstances. "Oh!" but
you say, "the chastening! You forget that." No, dear one, I do not. All
wise parents chasten their offspring. Would to God they would lovingly,
wisely administer more corrections than they do. The outcome, I verily
believe, would be a wonderful foretaste of heaven on earth. But I find
I am digressing.

Immediately following my conversion came the desire to impart the
knowledge received, to my friends and neighbors. The result was that a
report somewhat like the following was soon circulated: "Poor Mrs.
Roberts! Have you heard the news? Her husband's financial losses have
affected her mind; she is going crazy. Thinks she had a vision!" etc.
Then I began to realize what it means literally to "forsake all to
follow Christ." Heavier troubles followed, but they did not affect me
as heretofore. I had had the vision, and it had come to stay.

Illness presently brought me to the very threshold of eternity. With
animation temporarily suspended, but my soul and brain never more
keenly alive, I mentally implored the dear Lord to spare me for a
little while, because I did not now want to come to him empty-handed.
Oh! the longing to win souls, as I lay there helpless yet realizing
what it might mean to be forever debarred from the things which God had
prepared from the foundation of the world "for him that waiteth for
Him" (Isa. 64:4). How eager I was to tell the news to any one, no
matter to what depths he or she might have fallen! It was the immortal
soul that I was now anxious to reach. Lying there, I made an absolute
consecration, promising my heavenly Father that if he would restore me
to health and strength, I would go to whatever place he thought fit to
send me, and never hesitate to stoop to the lowliest for his sake and


_God takes us at our word_. I wonder how many of us realize this?

Returning health and strength found me located with my family in
Redding, Shasta County. Here my husband and I, in the spring of 1897,
followed our Lord's example in baptism.

In Redding came many delightful opportunities to engage in church and
personal work for the Master. While I was visiting in Sacramento in the
fill of 1897 and attending revival meetings conducted in the First
Baptist church, came my first real knowledge of the unfortunate of my

Previous to this revival the Rev. Mr. Banks, now deceased, anxious for
these special services to be well attended, asked for volunteers from
his flock to distribute in every house in their immediate neighborhoods
a printed invitation. Whoever undertook this work was to pledge
themselves not to pass one house nor miss any opportunity for personal
work. Not two blocks from the place where I was rooming was a district
that I hitherto had never explored - in fact, had purposely avoided. God
now gave me strength to take up this cross, for which may I be forever
humbly grateful. But I shrank at first; for, unable to persuade any of
my acquaintances to accompany me, I had to traverse this neighborhood
alone. Did I say alone? Never did I experience a greater sense of
guardianship, of protection, of being in the best of company, though
these guardians and companions were visible only to the eye of faith
(Psa. 91:10-12).

That day I saw tears fall, and heard experiences of which I had
hitherto had scarcely any conception.

Touched by a loving hand, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.

Soon after this the first little rescue home for girls in Sacramento
was started by some consecrated young people. It was located on Second
Street near O. I did not have the pleasure of attending the opening of
this "shelter," because of a direct call to service about this time
with some traveling evangelists. I assisted them by giving out the
"good news" in song.

While I was traveling northward with these evangelists, there came into
my possession, in answer to prayer, my treasured, God-given little
autoharp, No. 1. My second was at one time the property of a now
pardoned State prisoner - his companion in his lonely hours when locked
in his cell.

"Where were your husband and your son all this time?" you inquire. The
former was away prospecting - his favorite occupation. The latter,
because of his love for the water and his desire to see other
countries, was an employee on an ocean-steamer.


On Sept. 1, 1902, there passed into eternal rest one of the oldest
members of the First Methodist Episcopal church of San Francisco, Mrs.
Salemma Williams.

For more than twenty years this dear sainted friend, though I knew it
not, daily prayed and believed for my conversion. Five years before she
was made aware of the fact, her prayer had been answered. Her joy, when
one day I called upon her to impart the welcome news, knew no bounds,
and until she passed away we spent many happy days in each other's
company. A few hours before she went home, she gave her children and me
her parting blessings. The precious prayer of this dying saint as she
held her aged hands on my head comforts, sustains, and encourages me
now, even as it did then, and I believe that it ever will.


"Lord, I thank thee for answered prayer. Make this, thy child,
wonderful for thee, Lord, wonderful for thee! for Jesus' sake. Amen."
Though she spoke with great difficulty, yet every word was distinctly
audible. About two hours later she sang (with me) the following lines
as she passed into eternal rest:

Oh! if there's only one song - I can sing
When in his beauty I see the great King,
This shall my song in eternity be:
Oh, what a wonder that Jesus loves me!
I am so glad that Jesus loves me!
Jesus loves even me.


Would that it were in my power to relate better, in "Fifteen Years with
the Outcast," the few incidents of the many which have come under my
personal observation. The real names of the principals of the stories
are withheld, but not so the names of personal friends.

Dear readers, I am well aware that this book, judged from a literary
point of view, would be regarded as a failure; but I make no
pretensions as a writer, nor do I entertain any aspirations for
literary fame. My sole object in endeavoring to present faithfully a
few experiences of my brief years of service for the Master is to warn
many who are in danger.

Interspersed between these covers are a few songs, the words of which,
with scarcely an exception, were written in the night, and, for the
most part, were culled from incidents of personal observation and
experience. Much valuable assistance has been rendered by a dear friend
in the transcribing and arranging of the music.

For those of my readers who do not yet know the dear Lord as their
personal Savior and Redeemer, my sincere prayer is, May they while
perusing these pages catch a glimpse of Him. May they, by faith, "wash
and be made clean," determining, God helping, to shun forever all evil
and evil companions. The sinful life never pays.

In order to make this book suitable for young people to read, much
concerning rescue work has been withheld. Parents will readily
understand why and will appreciate the omission. Doubtless they will
have little if any trouble in reading between the lines. God grant them
love and wisdom to interpret to their questioning boys and girls, and
may countless blessings from the Shepherd of our souls attend all into
whose hands this book may chance to come.

Yours, in precious service for Him,

(Mrs.) Florence Roberts.

P. S. Since the above was written, I had the occasion to visit one of
our California State prisons (San Quentin). I went at the urgent
request of a young man whom the officials recommended for parole. I had
a portion of the manuscript of this book with me, which the captain of
the guard, at my request, kindly allowed the young man and his
cell-mates to read. In consequence, we are indebted to one of these
dear boys (God bless him!) for some of the illustrations appearing in
this book. Others have been contributed by a young brother and sister
who are devoting their lives to God's service at the Gospel Trumpet


This book was originally prepared for the press under the title, "The
Autobiography of an Auto-harp." It was then written in verse and
liberally interspersed with foot-notes. Upon more mature consideration
and also upon the advice of one of much experience as a writer, I have
rewritten the work and given it the title, "Fifteen Years with the

Although the change necessitates a continuous repetition of the
personal pronoun "I," a word whose avoidance was the primary object in
writing under the original title, yet the new form is, I believe, much
more interesting. Furthermore, time and experience have occasioned many
needful additions.

For fifteen years "I have fought a good fight," though not so good as I
would have desired, and although I am in the evening of life, I realize
that I have not yet "finished my course." There is still much more for
me to do in this sorrowful, sin-cursed world. God has, among other
blessings, given me a strong physique. By his unmerited power I am
keeping the faith, growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ.

My greatest longing and ambition is some day to see Him whom my soul
loveth, "face to face," especially to have the joy of bringing some
priceless trophies to lay at His blessed feet.

Most sincerely yours,

Florence (Mother) Roberts.
Gospel Trumpet Company,
Anderson, Indiana.
September 27, 1911.




What I am about to relate is my first experience in rescuing a girl and
occurred not long after my conversion.

At this time my husband, my son, and I were living in Redding, Shasta
Co., Cal. In the house that we were occupying lived another family
also, the little four-year-old daughter of which was an especial pet of
mine. While she was acting naughtily one day, thus hindering her mother

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryMrs. Roberts FlorenceFifteen Years with the Outcast → online text (page 1 of 22)