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contest raged for years, until the South, growing strong on her
ill-gotten gains, and arrogant from her success with the supple-kneed
politicians of the North, put the Church in the North upon the defensive
by demanding toleration, if not actual adoption. The issue was made in
trying to foist upon the whole Church a slave holding Episcopacy. This
last act was the feather, if such it might be called, that broke the
camel's back.

The effort was thwarted by the North only through the timely aid of a
few of the Central Conferences. At this the South took offence, as is
well known, and seceded, carrying with them more than half a million of
members and a portion of the Church property. To secure the latter, it
is true, long and bitter litigations followed the separation. And it is
generally accepted in the North that the decision which gave it to the
South took its shape from the political complexion at the time of the
Supreme Court of the United States.

It was now thought that the question of slavery was put to rest. But
alas! for human foresight. It still remained that the General Rules,
which permitted members to hold slaves, provided they did not "buy or
sell," had not been changed. And it was soon found that the awakened
conscience of the North could not rest until the last vestige of the
nefarious institution was swept from the Church. Agitations, therefore,
followed, and each succeeding General Conference found this question to
be still the troubler of Israel. Nor was the question left alone to the
care of the General Conference. Each annual Conference was also
agitated by it.

But it was evident to all that a serious embarrassment must be overcome
to secure a change of the General Rules. The Constitution of the Church
has a provision which, to effect a change, requires a two-thirds vote in
the General Conference, and a three-fourths vote in all the Annual
Conferences. To obtain the requisite vote with these provisions, it will
be seen, can only be realized on such questions as can command great
unanimity of sentiment. If the entire South had gone off in the
separation, the trouble would have been at an end, but, as we have seen,
the border Conferences remained with their brethren of the North, and
aided them in fighting the first battle with the slave power.

But now, when the question of a change of rule was brought forward, they
took the other side, and in doing so were able to furnish enough votes
to defeat the proposed measure. And the question, which was now
agitating the Annual Conference, was the framing of such a rule as would
meet the approval of the great body of the Church, and pass it along the
line of the Conferences to secure their favorable consideration before
taking it to the General Conference.

At the preceding session of the Wisconsin Conference such a rule had
been framed and sent on its way to the several Conferences to obtain
their approval. This was called the "Wisconsin Conference Rule," and
read as follows: "The buying, selling, or holding of a human being as a
slave." This rule received very general favor among the Northern
Conferences, but was rejected of course by those lying along the border.

At the Conference now in session in Racine, as before stated, a report
was submitted touching this matter. And it was intended to so set forth
the sentiment of the Conference as to make it a test of eligibility in
the election. I subjoin an extract from the resolutions adopted:

"Resolved, That we contemplate with feelings of deep humility and
sorrow before God, that the M. E. Church has any connection with the
system of American Slavery, and that we will not cease our efforts for
extirpation until the last ligament is severed."

"Resolved, That we record with gratitude, the favor with which the
'New Rule,' proposed by our Conference at its last session, has met in
so many of the Conferences in which it has been acted upon, and we
believe that the principle involved in it is the standard at which the
Church should and will soon arrive."

"Resolved, That whether or not the next General Conference adopt it as
a substitute for our present General Rule on Slavery, we earnestly
request that body to so modify the Chapter on Slavery as to prevent the
admission of any slaveholder into the M. E. Church, and secure the
exclusion of all who are now members, if they will not, after due labor,
emancipate their slaves."

This report was adopted with remarkable unanimity, but when the vote was
taken for delegates, it so happened that at least two of the men who had
been most clamorous in its support, failed to secure an election. This
result, however, did not come from a real difference in sentiment on
the main question, but from a desire to send to the General Conference a
delegation that would not defeat the desired end by a manifestation of
zeal without prudence. The Chairman of the Committee, however, was
elected to lead the delegation. The Delegates were P. S. Bennett, I. M.
Leihy, Edward Cooke, Elmore Yocum and Chauncey Hobart.

During the session of the Conference, a meeting of the principal members
of the Church and congregation at Racine was held, to take into
consideration the condition and wants of the charge. The deliberation
had resulted in laying before the Presiding Bishop a request for the
appointment of the writer. The appointment was accordingly made. But a
removal to the charge was attended with no little difficulty.

During the latter part of the spring term of the Lawrence University,
the typhoid fever appeared among the students, and in several instances
proved fatal. To prevent the like result in other cases, the inhabitants
opened their doors to receive sick students who could not be suitably
cared for in the dormitories of the College. Four of these were taken by
Mrs. Miller, and, in every case, it was believed that their lives were
only saved through her kind intervention and care. This kindness to
others, however, proved disastrous to her and the family. Before her
charge was well off her hands, she was herself attacked by the same
malignant disease. Then followed weeks of suffering on her part, and not
a little interruption of my work as Presiding Elder, especially
unfortunate in the closing part of the year. She passed down to the
borders of the grave, and on two occasions the beating of the pulse
seemed to cease, but in the good providence of God she was spared. Her
return to health, however, was slow, and meantime her sister, now Mrs.
Gov. C. K. Davis, of Minnesota, who resided with us at the time, was
taken with the same disease. This latter case was also a severe one, and
for several weeks delayed our removal to the new charge. But as soon as
it would do to attempt the journey, we were on our way. Unable to walk,
I was obliged to carry the invalid from the house to the carriage, and
from the carriage at Menasha to the steamboat. We reached Fond du Lac in
the evening and tarried for the night. The following morning we took the
stage for Sheboygan. The roads were excellent and the coach comfortable,
but it was necessary to carry the invalid literally in my arms the
entire distance. On arriving at the shore end of the pier at Sheboygan,
the steamboat, at the other end, gave a signal for her departure.
Hastily leaving the coach and sending the family forward with all
possible dispatch, I chartered a common dray, the only conveyance at
hand, placed a trunk upon it, took the invalid in my arms, seated myself
on the trunk, and bade the driver to put his horse on his best speed.
The race was a most creditable one, and before the boat had time to get
under way, we were nicely on board, to the great merriment of all

But out of one trouble, we were soon into another. We had hardly reached
the open lake before the boat encountered a heavy sea, which brought
sea-sickness to all of the company for the balance of the journey. But
in this misfortune we were not alone. Rev. E. S. Grumley, the newly
appointed Presiding Elder of the Racine District, and his family, had
also come on board at Sheboygan, and were now our companions in travel,
as also in misery. Tossing amid the waves, the progress of the steamboat
was slow, and we did not reach Racine until after midnight. We were
happy to gain a landing, but we found ourselves without a conveyance to
the hotel. Not even the common dray was at hand. But, nothing daunted,
we groped amid the darkness until we came upon the buggy of the
Presiding Elder, which fortunately had been landed from the same boat.
The invalid was soon placed in it, and, adopting a style of travel that
might have seemed unusual by daylight, in due time we were at the hotel.

The following morning we were sought out by the good people and kindly
cared for, being assigned to quarters with my late host and his
obliging family.


Racine. - Its Early History. - Subsequent Growth. - Racine District. - Rev.
Dr. Hobart. - Kenosha. - Rev. Salmon Stebbins. - Sylvania. - The
Kelloggs. - Walworth Circuit. - Burlington and Rochester. - Lyons. Troy
Circuit. - First Class at Troy. - Eagle. - Round Prairie. - Hart
Prairie. - Delavan. - Elkhorn. - Pastorate at Racine. - Revival. - Church
Enlargement. - Second Year. - Precious Memories.

The great centers from which the Church in Wisconsin has radiated were
few in number and were fixed upon at an early period in the development
of the work. These centers were Green Bay, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac,
Aztalan, Racine, and Janesville. Of the first five a record has been
made, and, following the line of my labors, Racine should next engage my

At this place the first settlement was made in November, 1834, by
Captain Gilbert Knapp, who came on horseback from Chicago. On the second
day of January following, Stephen Campbell, Paul Kingston, and Messrs.
Newton and Fay arrived, and, as far as I am able to ascertain, were the
first Methodists who settled at Racine. At the same time William See and
Edmund Weed came to the vicinity, the former settling at the Rapids,
where he built a mill, and the latter making a claim on the lands which
have since become the homestead of Senator Fratt. Alanson Filer came in
November, 1835, and A.G. Knight in April, 1836. In his journey to
Wisconsin, Brother Knight traveled on horseback from Wayne County, N.Y.,
to Chicago, and on foot the balance of the way. Jonathan M. Snow and
Nathan Joy came soon after, the latter coming around the lakes in the
first three-master that visited Lake Michigan. Rev. Daniel Slauson and
William Bull came in September, 1837, traveling in their own conveyance
from Detroit. The list of names thus given does not make a full record
of the early arrivals, but furnishes, as far as I am informed, such as
constituted, with the exception of the first named, the first Methodist

The writer has been unable to ascertain where and by whom the first
class was formed, or who constituted the first members. But it is
probable that the place was included in Milwaukee Mission as early as
1835, and that the class was formed by Rev. Mark Robinson during that
year, or by his successor, Rev. Wm. S. Crissey, the year following. And
it is also probable that the gentlemen above named, who were there at
the time, and their families, constituted the first members, with
Brother Paul Kingston as Leader. The meetings were held in the log
residence of the last named, located near the lake, at the foot of
Seventh street.

Racine Mission was formed in 1837 and Rev. Otis F. Curtis was the first
Pastor. The Mission, reaching from the Illinois State Line to Milwaukee,
included appointments at Racine, Southport, Pleasant Prairie, Kellogg's
Corners, Ives Grove, Caledonia and Root River.

In 1839 the charge took the name of Racine and Southport Mission, the
Pastor being Rev. Salmon Stebbins. In 1840 Southport was made a separate
charge, and the Pastor at Racine was Rev. L.F. Moulthrop. In 1841 the
Root River portion was set off and made a separate charge, and Racine
was left to be supplied. The following year the Sylvania circuit was
formed, and Southport and Racine were again put together, with Rev.
James Mitchell as Pastor. In 1843 they were again separated, and the
Pastor at Racine was Rev. Milton Bourne. In 1844 the Pastor was Rev. G.
L. S. Stuff, and in 1845, Rev. Julius Field.

As before stated, the meetings were at first held in a private house,
but as the congregations increased, a public building was rented near
the foot of Main Street. After the school house was built, the meetings
were removed to it, and it was at this latter place the writer attended
a service during his first Sabbath in the State. Soon after the first
Church was built, to which we shall have occasion to refer hereafter.

Racine District was created in 1847, and Rev. Chauncey Hobart was
appointed the first Presiding Elder. Dr. Hobart entered the Illinois
Conference in 1836, the Conference then including Illinois, Wisconsin,
Iowa and Minnesota. His appointments before coming to the District had
been: Rockingham, Iowa, Monmouth, Macomb, Quincy, Rushville, Peoria,
Jacksonville, Springfield, and Clark Street, Chicago. After leaving the
District, in 1849, he was appointed Presiding Elder of Minnesota
District. At the end of his term he was stationed at Spring Street,
Milwaukee, and next served one year as Presiding Elder on the Milwaukee
District, when, on account of the infirm health of his wife, he returned
to Minnesota. Since his return, he has continued to labor on both
stations and districts with great acceptability up to the present time.

Dr. Hobart is a man of superior abilities, and his labors have been in
special demand. He has been elected five times to the General
Conference, and has been seven times appointed to Districts. As a
Preacher he is always acceptable, but at times he delivers extraordinary
sermons. It requires a great occasion to take the full measure of the
man. At such times he has been known to move audiences with overwhelming
power. Especially was this the case under the sermon he delivered at a
Camp-Meeting held two miles west of Big Foot Prairie, in 1849. On this
occasion the tide of feeling rose to such a height that great numbers of
the congregation unconsciously left their seats and stood entranced,
while the saints shouted for joy, and sinners cried out in the anguish
of their souls for mercy.

Having thus spoken of the Presiding Elder of the Racine District, it is
fitting that we should now glance briefly at a few of the early charges.

Kenosha, as we have seen, was included in the Racine Mission in 1837,
and shared the labors of Brother Curtis. The first class was formed
during this term probably by either the Pastor or Rev. John Clark, the
Presiding Elder, and consisted of Rev. Reuben H. Deming, Austin Kellogg,
Hon. and Mrs. Charles Durkee, Mrs. Harvey Durkee, John W. Dana Martha E.
Dana, and Susan Dana. The Presiding Elder, Rev. Salmon Stebbins, held a
Quarterly Meeting in Kenosha, then called Southport, November 24th,
1837. The meeting was held in a small log school house standing near the
present site of the Simmons Block.

During the following year a revival occurred, which resulted in the
conversion of nearly the entire community. The meetings were held in a
public building on the North Side, but the erection of a Church
immediately followed. As before stated, Brother Stebbins became the
Pastor in 1839, and remained also the following year. The succeeding
Pastors up to 1845 were Rev. F.T. Mitchell, Rev. James Mitchell, Rev.
Wm. H. Sampson, Rev. C.D. Cahoon and Rev. Warner Oliver. At this
writing, Kenosha ranks among the leading stations of the Conference.

Brother Stebbins entered the New York Conference in 1822. When the
Conference was divided he fell into the northern portion, which took the
name of Troy. In this field he labored fourteen years, his charges
covering the territory from Albany to the Canada line. At the
solicitation of Rev. John Clark, he was transferred to the Illinois
Conference in 1837, and appointed Presiding Elder, the District
extending from the Illinois State Line to Green Bay. In 1839 he was
appointed to the Racine and Southport Mission, as before stated, and
remained on the Southport part the following year. After leaving
Southport charge he was stationed at Platteville, Lake, Madison and St.
Charles. Subsequently taking a location, he became a resident of
Kenosha, in the vicinity of which place he still resides.

Brother Stebbins is a man of superior ability, and in his prime enjoyed
considerable reputation as a Preacher. He is spending the evening of his
life in quiet, trustingly awaiting the change that now cannot be
long delayed.

Sylvania was settled by three Kellogg brothers and their families in the
spring of 1837, the place being first known as Kellogg's Corners. Soon
after their arrival the ladies, one of whom, Mrs. Seth H. Kellogg, was
the daughter of Rev. Ebenezer Washburn, of New York Conference,
organized a Sunday School. The neighborhood was connected with the
Racine Mission, and a class was formed at an early period, with Seth H.
Kellogg as Leader, but I cannot fix the exact date. Nor am I able to
state at what time the first Church was completed. It was claimed,
however, to have taken precedence in the State.

In the erection of the Church, which was built by Chauncey Kellogg, the
young society was assisted by a donation of two hundred dollars from
Sunday Schools in New York City. Rev. Julius Field, whose wife was a
sister of the Kelloggs, secured the aid, he having been stationed in
that city. The Church edifice cost six hundred dollars, and was the
building in which I preached the funeral sermon of Mother Washburn some
sixteen years later. The veteran, Father Washburn, was also buried at
this place. Sylvania was made a separate charge in 1842, with Rev.
Milton Bourne as Pastor.

Passing westward, the old Walworth circuit should next claim our
attention. It will be remembered that this charge was formed in 1839,
taking the south half of the old Aztalan circuit. The first Pastor was
Rev. James McKean, who was an earnest and devoted laborer in the
vineyard. But as his fields fell on the south side of the State Line at
the end of his term, a record will doubtless be made of him elsewhere.

In 1840 the circuit was divided. The southeastern portion was called
Burlington and Rochester, with Rev. David Worthington as Pastor, of whom
a record has been made in a former chapter, and the name of the old
charge was changed to Troy, on which Brother McKean remained as Pastor.

On the new charge there were two classes formed by Brother Worthington
during this year. The first was formed in Puffer's school house on
Spring Prairie in the summer of 1840, and included in its membership,
Mr. and Mrs. John M. Cowham, Lansing Lewis, and Mrs. Lewis, his mother.
Brother Cowham was the Leader.

The other class was organized in Lyonsdale, with Mr. and Mrs. Thomas
Lyon, Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher Lyon, Mr. and Mrs. Ansel Waite, Mr. and Mrs.
Marshall, and Mrs. Jones. Hon. Wm. P. Lyon, of the Supreme Court,
subsequently became identified with the Society. Lyons, as the village
is called, is at the present writing a charge of respectable standing,
having a good Church and Parsonage. The writer had the pleasure to
dedicate the Church during his Pastorate in Racine.

At Troy, a class had been organized by Brother McKean during the latter
part of the former year. At this time the members were Daniel Griffin,
Sen., Daniel Griffin, Jr., Dr. and Mrs. Brooks Bowman, Mrs. McCracken,
Mr. and Mrs. John Spoor, and a Brother Jennings. Brother Spoor was a
Local Preacher, the Leader and the S.S. Superintendent.

In 1841, Rev. L.F. Moulthrop was appointed to Troy circuit. He remained
the second year and had as a colleague the excellent Rev. Henry
Whitehead, so long and well known by the Preachers of the Northwest in
connection with the Chicago Book Depository. The circuit at this time
included Troy, Eagle, Hart Prairie, Round Prairie, Turtle Prairie,
Delavan and Elkhorn.

At Eagle a class was formed consisting of Rev. William Cross, Local
Preacher, Mrs. William Cross, and her sister, now Mrs. James Parsons,
Mr. and Mrs. A. Hinkley, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, Mr. and Mrs. Atwater, Mr.
and Mrs. Long.

At Round Prairie a class was also formed. The members as far as
ascertained were Rev. James Flanders, Local Preacher, Mr. and Mrs.
Houghton, Mrs. Norcross, Father Cornice, and Mr. and Mrs.
Nelson Cornice.

At Hart Prairie, the services were held in Father Worthington's log
house, where a class was also organized. Father Worthington, his wife,
and two sons, Elijah and Theodore, and Mrs. Lewis, were the
first members.

At Delavan the meetings were held alternately in Mr. Bradway's log
house in the village, and at the residence of Mr. Phoenix, on the
prairie. The class at this place was small, and I am unable to insert in
the record more than the names of Mr. and Mrs. Bradway. Delavan has
since grown to the position of an influential charge, with an attractive
Church and enterprising membership.

Elkhorn at this early day had no class, but, as the County Seat, the
village commanded an appointment. For several years the cause moved
slowly, but finally won its way to a position. At the present writing,
the charge holds a respectable rank in the Conference.

Having thus briefly examined the early history of Racine and the other
charges that constituted her immediate surroundings, it is now proper
that we should return to the record of the writer's Pastorate.

Finding that there was no Parsonage, I proceeded to rent a respectable
house in a pleasant part of the city, paying for the same an additional
one hundred dollars out of my salary. Having settled my family, I
adopted my usual method of devoting my mornings to my study, and
afternoons to pastoral visiting. I soon passed over the entire
membership of the station, making it a special point to secure, as far
as possible, a faithful attendance upon the means of grace. The effort
was successful beyond my expectations.

The congregation soon filled the Church. And as the interest continued
to increase, the aisles and doors were thronged, while large numbers
were utterly unable to obtain admission. With this manifestation of
interest, it was deemed advisable to enter upon a protracted meeting
without delay. We did so, and I preached every night for two weeks. But
the result was not satisfactory. We found the spiritual condition was
not on a plane with the demands of the work. The vast throng of people
had brought upon us a tide of worldly influence that we were unable to
withstand. Additional moral force was necessary, and, to secure it, we
deemed it better to go into the lecture-room and rely upon the social
meetings to develop the requisite spiritual power. With this change
there came to the membership the spirit of consecration and a remarkable
baptism of the Holy Ghost. Before the end of two weeks we were compelled
to return to the audience room. The place was again thronged with
people, but the good work went forward. I continued to preach nightly
for four weeks. One hundred persons were converted and added to
the Church.

With this large increase of members and a corresponding increase of
attendants, it was necessary to enlarge the Church edifice for their
accommodation. Accordingly the work was undertaken. The rear end of the
building was opened, and the edifice was lengthened so as to accommodate
nearly one-third more people. In doing this, it was thought advisable to
still increase the length by adding twelve feet more for an orchestra,
thereby providing for the removal of the organ from the gallery to the
rear of the pulpit.

The enlargement, besides furnishing the necessary accommodations for the
people, laid a broader financial basis to the charge, by bringing into
the congregation a number of families who were able to take the new
seats at a good rental. The year passed very satisfactorily.

The Conference of 1856 was held September 17th, at Appleton, Bishop
Simpson presiding. As expected, we were returned to Racine. We retained
the same house, and found our social relations with the people of
Racine exceedingly pleasant. With not a few families a life-long
friendship was established, and to the present hour the mention of
Racine revives many pleasant recollections. Judge Lyon, who came into
the Church this year, and his good lady, and Messrs. Knight, Yout,
Adams, Langlois, Jones, Lunn, Slauson, Bull, Lees, Conroe, Kidder, Orr,

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Online LibraryWesson Gage MillerThirty Years in the Itinerancy → online text (page 14 of 22)