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Full text of "The experiences of Uncle Jack : being a biography of Rev. Andrew Jackson Newgent"

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PRINCETON • NEW JERSEY 
PRESENTED BY 

Rufus H. LeFevre 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2009 with funding from 

Princeton Theological Seminary Library 



http://www.archive.org/details/experiencesofuOOsnyd 




REV. ANDREW JACKSON NEWGENT 
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THE EXPERIENCES OF 
UNCLE JACK 

Being a Biography of 

REV. ANDREW JACKSON NEWGENT 



BY S 

REV. W. ED. SNYDER 

a Minister in the United Brethren Church 



3* 



Nineteen Hundred and Eleven 

United Brethren Publishing House 

W. R. Funk, Agent 

Dayton, Oltio 



Printed by 

United Brethren Publishing House 

W. R. Funk, Agent 

Dayton, Ohio 



PREFACE 



THAT which requires an apology should be left 
undone. Hence, the author of this humble work 
offers no apology in sending it forth. If it finds 
favor in the sight of those into whose hands it may 
fall, he will appreciate it. If not, it is confidently 
assumed that the world will pursue its wonted course, and 
no one will be the worse, if not the wiser. 

No special litei'ary excellence is claimed for it. It is 
a feeble, though honest, attempt to preserve from the cold, 
merciless realm of oblivion a life story that is well worth 
preserving — the life story of one for whom I have come 
to have the profoundest reverence and affection. My 
only regret is that it has not been done better. 

Its chief value consists in the fact that it reveals the 
fundamental elements of true character and true success. 
The life of "Uncle Jack" Newgent is a conspicuous illus- 
tration of the fact that each individual is the architect of 
his own fate or fortune, that the conditions of success are 
internal and not external. This has been his life phil- 
osophy and has been abundantly vindicated by his life 
record. His right to a proper regard among his fellows 
rests upon his sterling qualities of manhood, devotion to a 
great purpose, and personal achievements that have added 
to the sum total of the world's weal and worth. He 
belongs to a worthy line of foundation builders whose 
work underlies the great superstructures of both church 
and state of the present day. 

Hence, two purposes have been kept in view in the 
writing of this sketch — to acknowledge, if not to pay, a 
debt of honor and gratitude the Church owes to a worthy 
man ; and by giving special attention to those personal 
qualities that make for success always and everywhere, 
and which were so strikingly exemplified in his character, 
to preserve the lessons of his life to the present and 
future generations in the hope that they may thus con- 
tribute to the further progress of righteousness. If in 
this unpretentious little volume these purposes are in any 
degree fulfilled, I shall be abundantly satisfied. 

W. E. Snyder. 



INTRODUCTION 



THE pleasing task of writing an introduction to the 
life of my noble friend, Rev. A. J. Newgent, has 
fallen upon me. The intimate association which I 
have had with him for many years gives me a 
peculiar pleasure in seeing the record of his splendid life 
placed before the Church. 

Biography is one of the most important departments 
of literature, and Mr. Newgent is eminently worthy of the 
permanent place in history which this volume accords 
him. I feel that fitting tributes in historic sketches 
should not only be paid the men of God who have planted 
the Church in this nation, but posterity should come and 
say over their graves, as Pericles did over the bodies of 
his fallen fellow soldiers : "You are like the divinities 
above us : you are known only by the benefits you have 
conferred." It is of such a man, though still living 
among us, that Dr. W. E. Snyder gives the accurately 
drawn portraiture in the chapters of this well-written 
biography. The work has been prepared with good judg- 
ment and much skill. The incidents of his life are given 
in sufficient detail, and make the volume exceedingly inter- 
esting and instructive. Such a publication is of great 
value, not only to those who enter the ministry, but to the 
whole Church, and especially to the young. To study the 
career of one, who, by fortitude and zeal, has carved his 
way from humble surroundings to a high place of honor 
among his fellow-men — passing through varied and strik- 
ing vicissitudes in the struggle — can but inspire and 
ennoble other lives. 

Entering the ministry before our pioneer style of life 
had passed away in the west, Mr. Newgent adapted him- 
self to the humblest conditions of society. The fields of 
labor which he occupied in those early years of his pastor- 
ate were sufficient to remind him of the privation and 
hardships of those who had preceded him ; but no condi- 
tion was humble enough or severe enough to deter him 
from the work to which his young life had been conse- 
crated. He could lodge in the loft of the lowliest cabin 
and subsist upon the cheapest fare. In quest of souls he 
thought little of anything else. Living among the people, 
a very small salary would suffice for him. He knew what 
it was to live on a moiety of one hundred dollars and less. 
There have been no dangers or hardships, no toils or 



privations, no suffering or sorrow sufficient to daunt his 
heroic spirit. Fortunately, Mr. Newgent is so constructed 
as to see the bright side of every difficulty, and his inimi- 
table humor has made his family and friends laugh in the 
darkest hours of his ministerial life. 

Unflinching loyalty to the Church has ever marked 
the career of Mr. Newgent. Though he has been pecu- 
liarly free from sectarian prejudices or bitterness, his 
attachment to his own people has been conscientious and 
unwavering. All his energies have been devoted to the 
advancement of the Church of his choice. He has stood 
for the defense of its doctrines and polity, and those who 
have drawn him into debate over any feature of our sys- 
tem have not challenged him a second time. In the 
earlier days of his ministry he was many times called in 
debate with the strongest men of other denominations, 
and has proved himself equal to any antagonist who has 
met him in discussion. Many have gone down before his 
unanswerable arguments, and not a few have been driven 
from the contest because they could not stand before the 
torrent of his eloquence and the indescribable power of 
his wit. In all his ministerial work these qualities have 
often been of great advantage to him. Few men could 
possess such wit and eccentricities as Mr. Newgent com- 
mands, and use them to advantage without some objection 
by the people. But like all his other gifts, these peculiar 
qualities have been consecrated to the service of doing 
good, and in their use he has maintained his ministerial 
consecration and influence with never a breath of sus- 
picion cast upon his good name. 

It is gratifying to his many friends that Mr. Newgent, 
though retired from the active work of the ministry, is 
still in possession of all his mental powers, and no doubt 
will live to read his own biography. Few men have been 
so fortunate. To have spent his long and useful life in 
the most interesting period of the history of the Church, 
and then remain to read the part he has played in the 
making of that history, is a privilege that most of Christ's 
embassadors have never enjoyed. Back when the Pub- 
lishing House was struggling for existence, he loyally 
supported the little plant, and never failed to circulate 
our books and push our periodicals in every charge he has 
filled. When our institutions of learning were in their 
infancy, and much opposition was brought against educa- 
tion, lie was a friend of the schools, and again and again 
has gone into the field to raise money for their support. 
He has seen the great benevolent boards of the Church 
and nearly all our connectional institutions come up from 
the smallest beginnings, and has never failed to espouse 
the cause of these important agencies for the promotion 
of Christ's kingdom. Even the conference in which he 
began his ministry has grown in his day from a handful 



to a host, and no man has watched its growth with deeper 
pride or more anxious concern than himself. 

I could write much more in the line of these thoughts, 
but the chapters of this volume will give in clear light the 
characteristics which can only be hinted at in the limits 
of an introduction. The skilled pen of the biographer 
will bring out in forceful and charming manner the noble 
traits of the gifted brother whose career he has studied 
with great care and painstaking interest. Let the book 
have a wide circulation, let the youth read its inspiring 
sentiments, and the horizon of their thoughts will be 
enlarged and the desire to be loyal to God and to every 
good work will be stimulated and strengthened. 

T. C. Carter. 
November 27, 1911. 



CONTENTS 

PAGH 

Preface 3 

Introduction • • 4 

CHAPTER ONE. 
Ancestry — Picture of pioneer life — Imprisonment and 
release of Pompey Smash — Little Jack's short-cut 
in the study of astronomy — The fate of his first 
pair of breeches 9 

CHAPTER TWO 

The tragic death of the father — Removal to Parke 
County — School Days — Conversion — Change of 
church relationship — A remarkable providence.... 23 

CHAPTER THREE 
Call to the ministry — First sermon — The boy preacher 
— Answering a fool after his folly — Turning a 
camp-meeting tide — Quieting a skirmish — Takes a 
wife 39 

CHAPTER FOUR 

Conference membership — Brulitz Creek ministry — The 
modern knight and his steed — Abrupt closing of 
family devotions by a dog-on-the-preacher — An orig- 
inal marriage ceremony — A case of mistaken iden- 
tity — A banner missionary collection — Shawnee 
Prairie pastorate — A cold day in April — The re- 
demption of Hell's Half Acre — Baiting for a pervese 
fish — An experience in the whisky business 51 

CHAPTER FIVE 
Six months at Rainsville — A hot-bed of Southern sym- 
pathizers — A mix-up with saloon men — A sermon 
on slavery — Fire and brimstone — An antagonist out- 
witted — A sermon from the book of Newgent — Can 
any good thing come out of Rainsville? 70 

CHAPTER SIX 

The war spirit in Indiana — Breaking up a traitorous 
plot — Narrow escape from enemies — Assists in se- 
curing recruits — Becomes chaplain of his regiment 
— Exchange of courtesies with a Presbyterian min- 
ister — An embarrassing predicament — Saves his 
regiment from capture — Organizes military church 
— Chased by Johnnies — An exciting homeward 

journey 80 

CHAPTER SEVEN 

Plants the United Brethren banner in Terre Haute — 
Prairieton pastorate — Difficulty with the sons of 
Anak — A prayer without an "Amen" — Another com- 
munity redeemed — Going to the wrong doctor — A 
perverse colt — An unintentional immersion — One 
sermon that was not dry 98 



PAGE 

CHAPTER EIGHT 
The New Goshen pastorate — An old grudge healed — Dry 
bones revived — Memorable year at "Dogtown" — 
"Death in the pot" — The Hittites captured — The 
"Jerks" — Other remarkable demonstrations — A 
rooster in the missionary collection — First debate — 
Unpleasant sequel to a horse trade Ill 

CHAPTER NINE 

Labors at Mattoon, Illinois — A persistent campaign and 
a great victory — Second New Goshen pastorate — A 
coincidence — Success at Pralrieton — Laboring in the 
shadow — The death of Mrs. Newgent — A bishop's 
tribute to her character 131 

CHAPTER TEN 

First great debate — The debate as an institution — The 
challenge — Opponents get weak-kneed — Prolonging 
maneuvers — A hungry multitude unfed — Battle be- 
gins — Questions discussed — An improvised creed for 
his opponent — A premature baptism — An opponents 
tribute to his genius — Crowning the victor 138 

CHAPTER ELEVEN 
Subsequent debates — The Owen contest — He got his 
"Treat" — Opponent's confession — Dressing "Stone" 
— A scared Baptist — Invades the Lutheran ranks — 
Measures steel with Doctor Ingram — Dissertation 
on infant baptism — Opponent's early flight — Con- 
cludes the debate alone — The Haw debate 155 

CHAPTER TWELVE 
Perrysville and Centerpoint — Industry rewarded from an 
unsuspected source — A "slick wedding" — Fruitful 
labors at Centerpoint — A one-sided union meeting — 
The doctrine of the resurrection again demonstrated 171 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN 
Becomes a missionary superintendent — Second marriage 
— An unexpected welcome — Forms a Quaker friend- 
ship — The Spirit moves in a Quaker meeting — A 
Quaker's prayer answered — Builds a college — 
Shows what to do for a dead church — Another tilt 
on the doctrine of baptism — Conversion of a Dunk- 
ard preacher — Turns a great movement in the right 
direction 180 

CHAPTER FOURTEEN 
Autumn — The fading leaf — Fruit in old age — His later 

labors — Present home 196 

CHAPTER FIFTEEN 
A Character Sketch 202 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN 
"Lights out," a dirge of the war 219 



Chapter One. 

Ancestry — Picture of Pioneer Life — Imprisonment 
and Release of Pompey Smash — Little Jack's 
Short Cut in the Study of Astronomy — The Fate 
of his First Pair of Breeches. 

Once upon a time, so long ago that the 
chronology of it has become hidden in the 
mists of historical uncertainties, a man with 
his family emigrated from the hill section 
of northern Ireland to the vicinity of Dub- 
lin. What his real name was also belongs 
to the realm of the unknown, but among the 
unsophisticated rural inhabitants with 
whom he had cast his lot he was character- 
ized simply as the "new gentleman." In 
course of time, the somewhat cumbersome 
title became abbreviated to "new gent," the 
original appellation finally passing from 
common usage entirely. That this new 
gentleman was a person of some force of 
character may be inferred from the distinc- 
tion he seems to have achieved among his 
new neighbors and the fact that the name 
has been honored by men of rank and emi- 
nence among his descendants, a conspicuous 
example being Lord Robert Newgent (or 
Nugent), the celebrated Irish scholar and 
statesman. 

9 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

Among the later descendants were three 
brothers who decided to cast their fortunes 
with the land of dreams and fancies across 
the Atlantic. Their names were Edward, 
William, and Thomas Newgent. On reach- 
ing America Edward directed his course to- 
ward the sunny South, William remained 
somewhere in the East, while Thomas struck 
out toward the vast region of unbroken for- 
ests on the western slopes of the Alleghe- 
nies. His pilgrimage terminated somewhere 
in the bounds of Kentucky. He secured a 
tract of land near Cincinnati, and in pro- 
cess of time met, wooed, and won a wealthy 
daughter of Virginia. He was contempo- 
rary with the Boones in reclaiming this 
great region of possibilities for civilization ; 
helped to survey the State ; taught school on 
both sides of the Ohio Eiver, winning for 
himself the title of "Irish Schoolmaster," 
which, in this case, carried with it no small 
degree of distinction. He was a soldier in 
three wars, that of the Kevolution, of 1812, 
and the Blackhawk War, for which serv- 
ices he received a pension from the Govern- 
ment. He professed religion at the ripe age 
of eighty, and was spared to redeem in part 
his long neglected opportunities by spend- 
ing almost a quarter of a century in active 
Christian service, his long and eventful life 

10 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

closing, according to an uncertain tradition, 
in the 103d rear of his age. He was the 
father of Charles Newgent, who was the 
father of Andrew Jackson Newgent, the 
hero of this simple narrative. 

In Charles Newgent the elements of char- 
acter peculiar to his race were exceptionally 
strong. A most marked propensity was his 
fondness for a joke. He would take more 
interest in concocting some new trick to be 
played on a neighbor or in devising a scheme 
for merrymaking than in a critical study of 
the Sermon on the Mount, or in solving an 
intricate theological problem. But while 
the religious facultv remained somewhat 
dormant, he was warm-hearted and gener- 
ous, a good neighbor and citizen, according 
to the simple requirements of the times. 
In educational attainments he was far 
above the average. He was a prominent 
figure in local political circles, being a Jef- 
fersonian Democrat of a rather emphatic 
type. His ever ready wit and fluency of 
speech made him a master on the stump 
and a formidable antagonist in political de- 
bates. The ability to give a humorous turn 
to any remark or incident served him well 
upon such occasions. His peculiar tempera- 
ment gave him special aptitude as an auc- 
tioneer, in which capacity he had no su- 

ll 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

perior. People would attend his sales as 
much to be entertained by his witticisms 
as for the bargains he might have to offer, 
and those who came to laugh often remained 
to settle a bill for something thev had no 
thought of purchasing. 

At the age of nineteen, in the year 1825, 
he was married to Mary Pugh, of Shelby 
County, Kentucky, his native county. Her 
parents had come from Scotland and were 
substantial citizens. 

Soon after their marriage thev moved to 
Parke County, Indiana, and settled on a 
tract of land which the wife had received 
as a dower from her father. 

Pioneer life in Indiana need not here be 
enlarged upon. A solitary dwelling in the 
interminable and trackless forest; the build- 
ing consisting of a single room built of un- 
hewn logs, roofed with hand-split clap- 
boards ; the chimney covering one entire end 
of the building; the rough doors swung on 
wooden hinges; the small windows with 
greased paper or the tanned skins of ani- 
mals through which a bit of daylight finds 
its way with difficulty; the huge fireplace 
used for both cooking and heating purposes ; 
the few pieces of hand-made furniture — 
these were some of the outward aspects of 
domestic life out on the ragged edge of civil- 

12 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

ization. The cabin of the Newgents was typ- 
ical of those of their neighbors, the nearest 
of whom lived some fifteen miles distant. 
The larger wild animals were frequent vis- 
itors and the war whoop of the Indian had 
scarcely died away. 

After a brief residence at this place they 
moved to Sullivan County. Here, on Sat- 
urday, September 15, 1838, the subject of 
this sketch was born. He was the youngest 
of seven sons. Subsequently the family cir- 
cle was enlarged by the addition of two 
daughters. The father's political bias was 
again asserted in the name, Andrew Jack- 
son, assigned to this youngest son, after the 
great hero of early Democracy. The name 
often has given occasion for humorous 
touches by the owner, especially in referring 
to his early life. By the neighbors and 
older members of the family, he says, he 
was dubbed General Andrew Jackson. 
Later the military title was dropped and he 
became plain Andrew Jackson, and by suc- 
cessive stages the name was further abbrevi- 
ated until the boy was doomed to answer to 
the simple cognomen of "Jack." Whether 
this was a process of evolution or of degen- 
eration, he was destined to win for himself 
a title that would stand for real worth and 
attainment; that would represent the love 

13 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

of little children, as well as the esteem of 
men and women, when the affectionate ap- 
pellation of "Uncle Jack" would become a 
household term in multitudes of homes. 

Perhaps it is to the Scotch blood of his 
mother that he owes the more solid elements 
of his character. The Scotch character 
stands for thrift, energy, and integrity, so 
that wherever the hardy Scotchman goes he 
carries with him the best elements of cit- 
izenship. These combined with the quick 
wit and genial temperament of the sons of 
Erin produced in our subject a personality 
rich in depth and resourcefulness. 

The emigration instinct, always strong in 
the pioneer, again became active, and the 
familv set out for a new destination. This 
time it was Paw Paw Bend in Knox County, 
Indiana, so named because of its location in 
a bend of White River, and the prolific 
growth of paw paw trees for which the fer- 
tile lands were especially adapted. Our sub- 
ject was then about eighteen months old. 
Here he spent the years of early childhood. 
Some incidents numbered among his earliest 
recollections and which serve to illustrate 
the home life and social conditions in which 
these years were passed, will not be out of 
place in this connection. 

14 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

During this period religious services were 
practically unknown in Paw Paw Bend. 
The chief diversions were such social func- 
tions as shooting matches, wood choppings, 
log rollings, husking bees, and dances. The 
spelling bee was still of too intellectual a 
character to win popularity. At all such 
gatherings the familiar demijohn of corn 
whiskey was considered an indispensable 
adjunct. 

Hence, the announcement of a preaching 
service to be held at the Newgent home on 
a following Sunday morning was hailed 
throughout the settlement as a new thing 
under the sun. Of course everybody would 
go. The preacher was to be Rev. Nathan 
Hinkle, a Methodist itinerant. It was out 
of no particular religious scruples that the 
host, Charles Newgent, volunteered to enter- 
tain the assemblage on this occasion, 3-et he 
had no aversion to preachers or churches, 
and in common with his neighbors, he was 
always ready to encourage anything that 
would break the monotony and afford social 
diversion. 

It so happened that on Saturday evening 
before this memorable day, Pompey Smash, 
a negro fiddler, was passing through the 
neighborhood and asked to stay over night 
at Mr. Newgent's. He was informed by the 

15 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

head of the house that he would be furnished 
lodging on condition that he dispense music 
for a family dance. The terms were ac- 
cepted and there was a sound of revelry by 
night as the little company beat time on the 
puncheon floor to the droll tunes of their 
musical guest. 

Early next morning the congregation be- 
gan to assemble for worship. The presence 
of the fiddler led to the suggestion that the 
time spent in waiting for the arrival of the 
preacher be used to the best possible advan- 
tage. Accordingly the Ethiopian turned his 
fiddle — for it was before the violin was in- 
vented; the familiar demijohn was set in a 
conspicuous place, and the gentlemen chose 
their partners. Lest the preacher's sudden 
arrival in the midst of such hilarious scenes 
be the occasion of a shock or an offense to 
his ecclesiastical dignity, a member of the 
party was dispatched to do picket service. 
The watchman, having imbibed too freely of 
the contents of the jug, fell asleep at his 
post. The dance had gone on merrily for 
some time in its rapturous excitement; the 
preacher and church service were utterly 
forgotten. When, lo! the alarm was 
sounded. The faithless watchman had al- 
lowed the company to be taken by surprise. 
The approach of the reverend was discov- 

16 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

ered in the nick of time ; the dance came to 
an abrupt stop. To prevent the minister 
from "smelling - a rat," a puncheon was re- 
moved hastily from the floor, and the fiddler, 
the fiddle, and the whiskey jug were thrust 
unceremoniously through the opening into 
the cellar excavation below. And the peo- 
ple put on their Sunday faces for church. 

After the services a part of the congre- 
gation, including the shepherd of the flock, 
remained for dinner. This necessarily pro- 
longed the imprisonment of the negro, but 
when it is recalled that the whiskey jug 
was a prison companion, we may surmise 
that the hours were not so "tedious and 
tasteless" as otherwise they might have 
been. The solemnities of the day came to 
an end with the departure of the minister; 
the prison was then opened and the prisoner 
released. An "after service" followed, 
which, it may be conjectured, was more in 
harmonv with the tastes of the congrega- 
tion. 

While unlimited resources lav at the verv 
doors of these pioneer cabins, the back- 
woodsmen lacked the facilites for develop- 
ing them. Their tastes were not so exact- 
ing as in later days, and beyond the sheer 
necessities and comforts of the household, 
ambition did not spur them on. While ordi- 

17 



The Experiences of Uncie Jack 

narity the family dined on homely fare, the 
industrious housewife often became so* pro- 
ficient in the culinary art as to be able to 
concoct most tempting dishes with the raw 
products that nature placed in easy reach. 
The sap of the maple tree, wild grapes, paw 
paws, and persimmons, as well as the prod- 
ucts of garden, orchard, and field were util- 
ized in providing for their physical wants. 
Persimmons ripened with the early frosts, 
and when put up in maple syrup, became a 
staple and most delicious article of diet. 
By the addition of the proper quantity of 
whiskey, the standard remedy for most of 
the ills the flesh is heir to, the mixture af- 
forded in addition to its other virtues, a 
sure cure for ague, commonly called "ager." 
This led to an episode in which little Jack 
and three older brothers were the leading 
figures, and which he facetiously labeled 
"a short cut in the study of astronomy." 

The children were left alone one after- 
noon. The oldest of the quartet was famil- 
iar with the process of preparing the com- 
mon ague antidote. The necessary ingredi- 
ents were, as usual, within easy reach. So 
he proceeded to administer the remedy to 
his younger brothers on the principle that 
"if a little did good, more would do better." 
The bearing of this procedure upon the 

18 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

science of astronomy becomes apparent 
when we remember that among* the un- 
schooled of that day it was a, mooted ques- 
tion as to whether or not the world is round 
and revolves upon its axis, as the geogra- 
phies teach. Jack declared that after tak- 
ing a few doses it was painfully evident to 
him that the world did turn round and 
turned at such a rapid rate that he found it 
difficult to keep from falling off. When the 
mother returned she found the three 
younger boys lying on the floor unconscious, 
and the author of the mischief sitting 
astride a joist overhead the unceiled room 
in a hilarious condition. By the free use 
of sweet milk the younger boys were re- 
stored to consciousness, but a special treat- 
ment was reserved for the one who led 
them into temptation. However, Jack 
found this short course in astronomy suf- 
ficient for all practical purposes, and he has 
never had the occasion or inclination to 
extend it. 

His early years were as happy and free 
from care amid these primitive surround- 
ings, as childhood life could well be, even 
in what might be considered more favorable 
circumstances. Life was simple in the ex- 
treme, even crude, but it was the best he 
knew. There was nothing in the lives of 

19 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

his associates calculated to excite envy or 
cause discontent with his own lot. But in 
this connection one incident stands out in 
bold relief to mar the picture of boyish con- 
tentment. 

A single garment of homespun, or "tow 
linen," was all that was considered neces- 
saiw in the way of clothing under ordinary 
circumstances for a boy of that age. It 
marked a new era in his life when the loose 
garment which covered the anatomy down 
to the knees was supplemented by a pair of 
breeches of the same material. Upon one 
occasion as Jack stood watching his mother 
as she was measuring the material for the 
older boys' winter suits, he heard her re- 
mark that there would probably be enough 
scraps left over to make him a pair of 
breeches. With emotions alternating be- 
tween hope and fear, he waited impatiently 
for the outcome. His joy was unbounded 
when he found that his hopes were to be 
realized. His mother laid him on the 
floor and thus marked the pattern. It 
was seen that the closest economy had 
to be used to make the goods hold out; 
so instead of the regulation number of 
two suspenders which were one piece with 
the breeches, the material would only war- 
rant the making of one. By extending it 

20 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

from one side on the back diagonally across 
the shoulder, making connection on the op- 
posite side in front, the new habiliment 
maintained its balance and no special incon- 
venience was suffered. 

But alas! his rejoicing was soon to be 
turned into mourning. A few days later, 
clad in his new outfit, he Avent with his 
brothers to the woods to gather pecans. It 
was a warm autumn afternoon, and in 
climbing and clubbing the trees and picking 
up the nuts, the boys found it convenient to 
cast of unnecessary articles of clothing. 
As Jack had scarcely become accustomed to 
more than one garment, he could easily dis- 
pense with the breeches for the time. Ac- 
cordingly they were removed and hung on 
a bush near by, and for a time forgotten in 
the fascination of nut hunting. When the 
party was ready to start home with the 
fruits of their toil, he was alarmed to find 
that his cherished breeches had disappeared. 
The boys searched diligently but found 
them not. When about ready to give up 
in despair, they chanced to observe, a short 
distance away, a mellow-eyed, crinkly- 
horned, br indie cow making a meal off the 
lad's wearing apparel, or perhaps using it 
for dessert, as though it were a dainty mor- 
sel. And the last Jack saw of his first pair 

21 



The Experiences of Uncle JacK 

of breeches was the lone suspender dangling 
from the innocent old brindle's mouth, the 
major part of them having been engulfed in 
her capacious maw. And to the sorrow of 
his heart, his wardrobe for another year 
was limited to the single piece of homespun. 



22 



Chapter Two. 

The Tragic Death of the Father — Removal to Parke 
County — School Bays — Conversion — Change of 
Church Relationship — A Remarkable Providence. 

Thus far our narrative lias covered the 
childhood of our subject up to the ninth 
year of his age. At this juncture occurred 
an event that cast the first real shadow over 
his youthful pathway. It was the death of 
his father, the tragic nature of which and 
the subsequent effect it was to have upon 
his career, made the shadow all the deeper 
and more significant. Charles Newgent 
went with a company consisting of sixty 
adventurous spirits, upon an expedition to 
the West, the real object of which seems to 
be somewhat indefinite. The restless and 
venturesome spirit of the pioneer, a curious 
desire to penetrate the mysteries of the 
great western world, the dream of untold 
treasures that nature had in store for those 
who dared to conquer the dragons that 
guarded them — all may have figured in 
this ill-fated enterprise. However that mav 
have been, while crossing the western plains 
the company was attacked and massacred 
by a band of hostile Indians. As in the 
calamities that befell Job's household, one 

23 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

of the number was left to tell the story. 
This one was supposed by the savages to 
have shared the fate of all the rest, being 
left on the field for dead; but it so hap- 
pened that in his case the weapon of death 
did not do complete work. He was picked 
up the next day by a party of hunters to 
whom he was able to give a vague account 
of the preceding day's terrible tragedy. 

After the father's death, the mother with 
her nine children moved back to their 
former home in Parke County. Life then 
took on a sterner aspect for the boy. His 
tender hands must perform their part in 
the maintainance of the family. Accord- 
ingly he hired out to Mr. Jesse Maddox, a 
neighboring farmer. His wages the first 
year were to be a pair of shoes, ten bushels 
of corn, and the privilege of attending the 
district school. The market price of corn 
was ten cents per bushel. Even at this mod- 
est stipend he admits that he made money, 
"though not very much." While in after 
years of fruitful labors in the ministry he 
often remarked that the question that most 
perplexed him was how to earn what he re- 
ceived, it is not probable that the question 
at this time had assumed very serious pro- 
portions. 

24 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

The most important stipulation in the 
contract was the privilege of attending 
school. But even this is subject to shrink- 
age when we recall that the school system 
of Indiana was then in its first stage of 
development. It afforded no royal path 
to learning, and the common thoroughfare 
was neither smooth nor flowery. We would 
scarcely expect to find in the schoolroom 
comforts that the home itself was a stranger 
to. Strikingly suggestive of the interior as- 
pect of those primitive seats of learning are 
the lines from Whittier's "In School Days" : 

"Within, the master's desk is seen, 
Deep scarred by raps official; 
The battered seats, the warping floor, 
The jack knife's carved initial. 

"The charcoal frescoes on the wall, 
The door's worn sill betraving 
The feet that creeping late to school, 
Went storming out to playing." 

To fit the particular building in which 
our subject first tasted the fruit of the tree 
of knowledge, the picture needs but slight 
modification. If anything, it should be 
made even more simple and primitive. The 
"battered" seats were made of puncheon. 
Since this word is passing from comniOB 

25 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

usage, it may be well to explain that pun- 
cheon is made by splitting a small log in 
two equal parts. The split edges are then 
trimmed down, and the pieces thus treated 
served as a rough substitute for sawed lum- 
ber. To make them into seats, two holes 
were bored near each end in the unhewn 
side. These being at proper angles, wooden 
pins were inserted into them for legs. The 
rude seat was then ready for service. It is 
not to be taken for granted that these seats 
were always made perfectly smooth. What 
was lacking to smooth them down by the 
workmen was expected to be completed by 
the pupils. They finished the task, but often 
it was a long and painful process, with 
many a protest from a new gown of home- 
spun or a pair of "tow-linen," home-grown 
breeches. Thus, with no rest for the arms 
or the back, with one side scorched by the 
heat from the great fireplace and the other 
chilled by the winter winds creeping through 
cracks in floor and walls and roof, the 
children wore away the dreary hours. The 
floor, being composed of this same puncheon, 
did not easily warp. The recess recreation 
consisted mainly in carrying fuel from the 
surrounding forest to feed the every-hungry 
fireplace. 

26 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

Whatever dignity the schoolmaster may 
have possessed in the eyes of his pupils, cer- 
tain it is he was not the original of Gold- 
smith's creation in the "Deserted Village," 
of whom the wonder was "that one small 
head could carry all he knew." Beyond the 
traditional essentials of scholarship, con- 
sisting of reading, writing, and ciphering, 
with a specially intimate acquaintance with 
the spelling book, he did not pretend to 
lead. His chief business was to govern the 
school. He proved his divine right to his 
throne in the schoolroom by his ability to 
handle the most obstreperous cases the dis- 
trict could produce. The scholars were on 
hand as a challenge to his generalship. The 
hero of the school was the one who held out 
longest against his despotic authority. To 
lick the teacher was the height of his ambi- 
tion. This realized, his place in the local 
hall of fame was secure. According to the 
philosophy of the times "lickin' and larn- 
in' " went hand in hand, lickin' being es- 
sential, while larnin' was incidental. 

The school house was three miles from 
the Maddox home. The school was main- 
tained on the basis that "whosoever will 
may come." There was no penalty for 
tardiness or absence, but as young Newgent 
possessed a real thirst for knowledge and 

27 



The Experiences of Uncle JacK 

was in the habit of making the most of 
whatever he undertook, his attendance was 
more regular than the average. However, 
the sum total of his schooling was limited to 
three terms of about three months each, an 
aggregate of nine months. Meager as were 
his school advantages, they were well im- 
proved and furnished a foundation for self- 
culture upon which he built as only a genius 
can. He learned to read in less than four 
weeks, and his progress was correspondingly 
rapid throughout. His real school was not 
bounded bv the walls of the log school 
house ; it was rather the great school of life 
with its harsh discipline and inexhaustible 
curriculum; and in this he grew to be the 
peer of the ripest products of educational 
institutions. "Opportunities," he says, in 
his characteristic way, "the woods has al- 
ways been full of opportunities. I had 
splendid opportunities when I was a boy, 
and so did my companions; but many of 
them, like some young folks now, failed to 
see them." He saw what manv fail to see, 
that opportunities are not so much in our 
environment as in ourselves, and that suc- 
cess is not determined by outward circum- 
stances, but by one's own will and energy. 

A habit early formed was that of turning 
everything to account in the pursuit of 

28 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

knowledge. Mrs. Newgent, anxious to en- 
courage her children's propensities for 
study, furnished the home with such read- 
ing matter as her means would permit. 
Though the family were separated most of 
the time, they came together at frequent in- 
tervals. On these occasions the time was 
well spent in reading and in discussing cur- 
rent topics. Whatever was read became the 
subject of conversation. These conversa- 
tions often took the form of argument, in 
which the various sides of a subject were 
presented and zealously defended. Thus, 
he early displayed and developed an apti- 
tude for argumentative discussion, which 
made him a master in debate, and is a 
strong element in all his public discourses. 

His conversion occurred when he was 
about ten years old, while still in the serv- 
ice of Mr. Maddox, abenef it wh i ch was not con- 
sidered in the contract with his employer. 
This took place during a gracious revival 
at the Canaan Methodist church, of which 
his employer was a member and was serving 
at the time as class leader and janitor. The 
meeting had been in progress for a number 
of days; many had found the Savior, and 
the community was deeply stirred. He had 
been sent to open the church and build the 
fire for the evening service. While going 

29 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

quietly about his duties, all alone, the im- 
pression came to him quite vividly that he 
ought to be a Christian, and he resolved to 
go to the "mourner's bench" 1 that night. He 
was never long in making up his mind, 
and when a decision was once made, it was 
as a law of the Medes and Persians. So he 
went to the altar that night and each suc- 
ceeding night for more than a week. One 
evening as he was listening to the sermon, 
conviction became so intense that in his ex- 
tremitv he left the house. Though it was a 
cold night and the ground was covered with 
snow, he stole out in the woods. Kneeling 
in the snow, this vouthful Jacob wrestled 
with God in prayer. How long he tarried, 
he could not tell, but faith triumphed, and 
the next he knew the woods were resound- 
ing with his shouts of victory. Rushing 
into the church while the preacher was yet 
talking, he put an end to the sermon by his 
shouting and praising God. The congrega- 
tion was electrified. Soon the demonstra- 
tion became general, and for a time pande- 
monium held sway; but it was of a sort in 
which there were both method and meaning, 
for its source was from above. 

Like God's servant of old, he could say, 
"My heart is fixed." He joined the church 
and from that time never missed an oppor- 

30 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

trinity to pray and testify in public or pri- 
vate." At that time children did not receive 
much attention from the church. Churches 
were strong on saving souls from dam- 
nation, but the idea of saving the entire 
life for service had not taken deep root. 
As a result of the revival there was a large 
class of "probationers." When the period 
of probation had expired, according to the 
church law, and they were to be admitted 
into full membership, his name was not on 
the list. He was not considered a member ; 
at least that was his version of it, and the 
only logical conclusion the case would war- 
rant. It wa,s a sore disappointment, but of 
too delicate a nature to mention to his 
elders. So he kept his feelings to himself. 

Thus matters stood for little more than a 
year, when he learned that there was to be 
a quarterly meeting at the Otterbein United 
Brethren Church a few miles away. This 
church belonged to the Rockville Circuit of 
the Wabash Conference. Rev. William 
Sherrill was the pastor. The presiding 
elder, who was to hold the quarterly con- 
ference, was Rev. Samuel Znck. Both were 
strong and good men. Jack had never at- 
tended a United Brethren service. What 
knowledge he had of the Church was gained 
through conversations overheard in the 

31 



The Experiences of Uncle JacK 

Macldox home. Ministers being frequently 
entertained there, conversation at such 
times naturally took to religious channels. 
As this was an age when churches did not 
entertain the most fraternal feelings toward 
one another, these conversations were not 
calculated, as a rule, to produce a favorable 
opinion of a rival denomination. His inter- 
est in churches and religion was genuine, 
born of a desire to know the truth. Hence, 
is was not mere curiosity that led him to 
obtain his employer's permission to spend 
Saturday and Sunday with a neighbor in 
the Otterbein community so that he might 
attend the services of the quarterly meeting. 
The Church proved to be his affinity. 
Whatever misgivings he had, vanished one 
by one. The general atmosphere of the 
first service harmonized with his tempera- 
ment. There was spirit in the singing. His 
heart burned within him as he listened to 
the eloquent sermon by the presiding elder; 
and when the pastor followed, as the custom 
was, with a warm exhortation, he was en- 
raptured. He resolved to join the Church. 
As usual, the decision was made without 
much preliminary. He knew where he 
stood, and stood there with both feet. When 
he returned, his employer, as well as his 
own folks, was thunderstruck to learn that 

32 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

he had become a full-fledged United Breth- 
ren. Having put his hand to the plow, he 
never turned back. "I have been so busy," 
is a common saying with him, "that I have 
never had time to backslide." 

It should be said in justice to the church 
where he first joined, that his name had 
been entered upon the book, but by mistake 
it was placed in the list with the full mem- 
bers. This accounts for his not being re- 
ceived with the probationers, to which class 
he belonged, and led to the conclusion that 
he was not considered a member. Thus an 
apparently insignificant thing may prove to 
be a matter of vital importance. 

As a boy he possessed pronounced convic- 
tions and a keen sense of religious oblisra- 
tion. This is demonstrated by an incident 
which occurred while he was in the employ 
of Mr. Jerry Rush, a short time after leav- 
ing the service of Mr. Maddox. Mr. Rush 
was a well-to-do farmer and stock dealer. 
Neither he nor his wife made any profes- 
sion of religion, though their lives were re- 
garded as exemplary and above question in 
other respects. Some of the men who 
worked on the farm, however, were of the 
baser sort. It seemed strange to young 
Newgent that a man of Mr. Rush's habits 
would surround himself with men who were 

33 



The Experiences of Uncle JacK 

utterly destitute of moral scruples or of the 
commonest decencies. To him their vulgar- 
ity and profanity were a source of constant 
annoyance. At one time as their coarse 
jests were grating on his sensitive ears, he 
was impressed with the idea that this un- 
couth crowd afforded him a field for mis- 
sionary work. The impression was not long 
in taking definite shape. It came with the 
force of a challenge, a bugle call to duty, 
a call that he never failed to heed. His 
mind was made up that he would offer 
prayer with these men before they retired 
that evening if Mr. Eush would grant him 
the privilege. 

It was a bold resolve, an ordeal from 
which a braver heart might well have 
shrunk. Let eloquent tongues proclaim the 
praise of those who face death at the can- 
non's mouth, or the inspired pen immortal- 
ize the hero, who, amid the applause of 
admiring multitudes, imperils his own life 
to save another; but who would not count 
it a worthy act to place a laurel wreath 
upon the brow of a fourteen-year-old lad 
who dared to face, not one Goliath, but a 
company of Goliaths, with the simple 
weapon of faith, and demand that they bow 
before their God while he offered a petition 
in behalf of their needy souls? Yet this 

34 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

resolute purpose was to undergo a severe 
test. The fiercest battles are fought in our 
own hearts. As the time drew near, he felt 
his courage slipping away. He stole out to 
the barn for a time of secret prayer, that he 
might be equal to the emergency. Feeling 
comforted and strengthened, he started to 
the house to execute his plan. On reaching 
the yard gate his courage seemed to take 
flight, and he could go no farther. He went 
back to the place of prayer. On the second 
venture he got as far as the door, when his 
strength again vanished. Not to be beaten, 
he went back to the barn to fight the battle 
to a finish. The third effort won the day. 
He hastened to the house, determined not to 
give the enemy a chance. The men were sit- 
ting about the fire. Without a word by 
way of preliminary, he stepped up to Mr. 
Eush and asked permission to kneel with 
them in prayer. The permission was 
granted, and a solemn hush came over the 
startled company as they listened while 
the boy, with trembling voice and stammer- 
ing accents, poured out his soul to God. He 
then sought his bed with the consciousness 
that he had done his duty. A sweet peace 
filled his soul and he lay for hours in 
ecstacy of joy. 

35 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

The next evening the family devotions 
were repeated. But on the third evening 
the prayer was forestalled by a preconcerted 
plan on the part of the men. As the time 
for prayer approached , one after another, they 
arose and stalked out of the room, and the 
victor in two hard-fought battles was left 
alone — defeated and dejected. His spirits 
dropped down to zero. The fiery dart had 
pierced him through and through. In agony 
of soul he sought his bed, but not to rest. 
Out of the depth of his troubled heart he 
called upon God for comfort. But the fury 
of the storm seemed only to increase. In 
his desperation he felt that something must 
be done. So, about the hour of midnight, 
he arose, dressed himself, and left the house 
to go — he knew not where. Through the 
remaining hours of the night he wandered, 
directing his course toward the West. Day- 
light came, the sun rose above the horizon 
and pursued its course toward the zenith, 
but his pilgrimage continued. At noon he 
found himself in the city of Terre Haute, 
then a mere village. Here he tarried for a 
time to seek employment. Failing in this, 
he resumed his westward journey. He asked 
for work at the various farm houses which 
he passed. While he found kind hearts who, 
touched by pity for the youthful pilgrim, 

36 



The Experiences of Uncle JacK 

gave him food and temporary shelter, he 
found no man to hire him until he reached 
Mattoon, Illinois, nearly a hundred miles 
from whence he started. Work at that sea- 
son of the year was scarce, and his term 
of service at Mattoon was brief. At the end 
of three days his employer gave him his 
wages with the intelligence that his services 
were no longer needed. 

He now decided to go back to Indiana, 
With his three days' wages in his pocket, 
with which he expected to pay for his trans- 
portation at least part of the way, he set 
out upon the return journey. Within the 
vicinity of Terre Haute he succeeded in find- 
ing steady employment and a congenial 
home. 

There were two sides to this story, and 
some months after Jack was settled in his 
new home he learned the other side. It was 
glorious news to him. The sequel was that 
Mr. Rush was converted, joined the Bap- 
tist Church, and became a zealous leader in 
religious work. It came about in this way : 
When Mr. Rush found that Jack had disap- 
peared and diligent effort failed to solve the 
mystery of his disappearance, a feeling of 
remorse over his unchristian conduct so 
possessed him that for days he was almost 
in a state of frenzy. Remorse took the form 

37 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

of spiritual conviction and genuine repent- 
ance which led to a glorious conversion. 

On learning of the whereabouts of his 
young benefactor, Mr. Rush at once went 
to see him, and told him his side of the storv. 
He confessed to Jack that he was a guilty 
party to the scheme the men had used to 
defeat him. The boy's awkward prayer to- 
gether with their own antipathy for such 
pious exercises was a source of embarrass- 
ment to the men, and they agreed among 
themselves to use the method described to 
rid themselves of further annoyance. Lit- 
tle did Mr. Rush realize that those awkward 
prayers were to be the means of his salva- 
tion. 

"God moves in a mysterious way, 
His wonders to perform, 
He plants his footsteps on the sea, 
He rides upon the storm. 

"Judge not the Lord with feeble sense, 
But trust him for his grace, 
Behind a frowning providence 
He hides a smiling face." 



38 



Chapter Three. 

Call to the Ministry — First Sermon — The Boy 
Preacher — Answering a Fool After Ms Folly 
— Turning a Camp Meeting Tide — Quieting a 
Skirmish — Takes a Wife. 

Providence seemed to ordain that there 
should be one preacher in the Newgent fam- 
ily and that that one should be Jack. As 
has been observed, his religious zeal from 
the time of his conversion at the age of ten, 
was exceptional. Just when the first im- 
pression looking toward the ministry came 
to him he could scarcely tell, such impres- 
sions having been associated more or less 
with his religious experience from the be- 
ginning. By the time he was thirteen the 
conviction that he had a "divine call" to 
preach the gospel became clear and definite. 
And the conviction deepened with the pass- 
ing of time. Of course, no one dreamed of 
the emotions that were stirring the boy's 
breast, and to him the ministry was so high 
and sacred a calling as to seem infinitely 
beyond his possibilities. Hence, he dared 
not express his feelings to even his most 
intimate friends, and so received no sympa- 
thy or encouragement from any human 
source. He went about his Father's busi- 

39 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

ness in his own way, rendering such serv- 
ice to the cause of his Master as a boy of his 
years was capable of. His zeal knew no 
abatement, and such diligence is sure to lead 
to recognition and reward. 

The minister who first took a special in- 
terest in him was Rev. Ira Mater, an able 
preacher and a sympathetic discerner of the 
thoughts and intents of the heart. Be- 
tween the man and the lad there sprang up 
a beautiful friendship, suggestive of that be- 
tween Paul and Timothy. Rev. Mr. Mater 
frequently invited his young friend to ac- 
company him to his appointments, and by 
way of stirring up the gift that was in this 
prospective Timothy, sometimes called upon 
him to open the service, to exhort after 
the sermon, or perform such other pub- 
lic ministrations as were convenient. Rev. 
Mr. Newgent has always gratefully ac- 
knowledged his indebtedness to this spirit- 
ual father. 

This association with Rev. Mr. Mater was 
during his sixteenth and seventeenth years. 
He was small and rather delicate for one of 
his age. His entire youth was a continual 
conflict with disease, the entire category of 
which seemed to try their hand upon his 
slender frame. But while his body was 
frail, his mind was strong and alert. That 

40 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

his positive temperament and seeming dis- 
position to never give up had somewhat to 
do in staving off the grim monster, death, is 
not at all unlikely. 

His first regular discourse was preached 
at the Stedd School House near Fontanet, 
in Clay County, Indiana, The school house 
was used as a preaching point and weekly 
prayer meetings were maintained. He was 
a frequent attendant at these services, and 
one evening, on entering the house, he was 
met by the leader who said, "Jack, the peo- 
ple are expecting 3^ou to preach to-night." 
That he was to preach was simply a sur- 
mise, his association with Rev. Mr. Mater 
being the probable foundation of it. But 
some one surmised out loud and the rumor 
gained currency. Observing his surprise at 
this intelligence, the leader continued, "You 
had just as well begin here and now," in a 
manner that indicated that it was a fore- 
gone conclusion that preaching was to be 
his life business. And Jack preached. At 
any rate, if the effort could not be classed as 
preaching, it was a splendid substitute for 
it. He announced as a text, "If the right- 
eous scarcely be saved, where shall the un- 
godly and the sinner appear?" The congre- 
gation was visibly affected by his fervor 
and earnestness, some of the more demon- 

41 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

strative ones giving vent to their feelings 
in shouts of praise. He was urged to preach 
the next night, and the meetings were con- 
tinued for more than a week, being held at 
various private homes, Newgent preaching 
at each service. The divine seal was thus 
placed upon his ministry, and the meeting 
marked the beginning of a new epoch in his 
career. 

A few weeks later the Rockville quarterly 
conference granted him a license to preach. 
The action was taken in his absence. J. P. 
White was the preacher in charge and 
Thomas M. Hamilton was the presiding 
elder. The action of the quarterly confer- 
ence was almost a superfluous formality, 
as he was now so greatly in demand that 
he could not well avoid preaching. 

The boy preacher was a popular charac- 
ter. To see a man on the ante meridian of 
life in the pulpit was at that time quite 
unusual. The popular prejudice was in 
favor of men who had spent the major part 
of their lives on the farm or in business, thus 
acquiring a competence that would en- 
able them to proclaim that salvation is free 
without being embarrassed or embarrassing 
their congregations on the money question. 
Hence, a diminutive lad of seventeen, weigh- 
ing only about eighty pounds, exercising the 

42 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

ministerial function was in itself sufficient 
to attract the multitudes. Wherever he 
preached he was greeted by immense audi- 
ences. By many he was regarded as a 
prodigy, though he could not be classed as 
such, prodigies seldom accomplishing more 
than to afford amusement for curious spec- 
tators. It is true, however, that he dis- 
played qualities unusual for one of his 
years, though it must be admitted that the 
greater part of his power lay in his intense 
religious zeal and earnestness. 

Some characteristic incidents in this 
part of his ministry will not only be of in- 
terest in themselves, but will at the same 
time serve to illustrate his unique individ- 
uality. He went on one occasion to fill an 
appointment at what was known as the 
Rough and Ready School House. The name 
was justified by the prevailing social con- 
ditions. Like Paul on Mars Hill, he found 
that at least some of the people were very 
religious, though their religious energy was 
not always directed to the best advantage. 
Not infrequently does it transpire that men 
will fight for their religion even when they 
are utterly averse to the practice of it, a 
fact which had a forcible illustration in this 
particular service. He preached with his 
usual energy. The house was crowded and 

43 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

the sermon seemed to be well received. There 
happened to be present a minister of what 
was designated as the Campbellite persua- 
sion. Evidently the sermon did not coin- 
cide with his theological bias. He asked 
permission to say a few words as the 
speaker took his seat. The permission 
granted, he sallied forth with a tirade of 
abuse and denunciation of the young 
preacher and his theology in which his pas- 
sion played a larger part than either his 
judgment or his conscience. When he 
finally ran down, Newgent arose in a calm 
manner and said, "Brother, with your way 
of applying Scripture, I can prove that Eve 
was the mother of a turkey buzzard." 
"Prove it, then," shouted back the irascible 
theologue. "Well, the Bible says that Eve 
was the mother of all living, and that in- 
cludes turkey buzzards. Let us be dis- 
missed," and calling the audience to their 
feet, he pronounced the benediction before 
his assailant had time to reply. 

At another time, with his brother, John 
Newgent, he happened to drop in at a Meth- 
odist campmeeting in Sullivan County. 
They arrived just in time for the morning 
service. A number of ministers were seated 
on the platform, among them being Rev. 
Hayden Hayes, the presiding elder. Rev. 

44 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

Mr. Hayes had met Newgent on a former 
occasion, and as soon as he saw him enter 
the camp, rushed back and taking him by 
the arm, led him to the platform. Hayes 
was a strong, portly man, and the delicate 
lad was helpless in his grasp; thus he was 
led as a lamb to the slaughter, and was in- 
formed that he must preach. Though he 
vainly sought to be excused, yet he was 
equal to the emergency. He had proceeded 
about ten minutes with his discourse, when 
a man sitting a few feet in front of the 
platform was converted and began to shout. 
He continued, and four others in the con- 
gregation broke loose in like manner, all of 
them having been converted through the ef- 
fect of the sermon, and the discourse disap- 
peared in a whirlwind of praise that com- 
pletely drowned the speaker's voice. Up to 
that time there had been no move in the 
meeting. 

John Newgent was imbued with the old- 
school Baptist doctrine and had not sympa- 
thized with his brother's preaching propen- 
sities. After resuming their journey they 
rode for a time in silence. Finally the older 
brother said, "Jack, you know I have al- 
ways opposed your preaching. But I want 
to say that I have no further objection to 
it; but," he added with quivering lips, "I 

45 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

want you to pray for me." The sermon had 
touched his heart. 

Though urgent demands were made upon 
the boy preacher to stay and assist in the 
meeting, he was unable to do so, and heard 
nothing further from it until after he had 
returned from the war, when by chance he 
again passed through the vicinity. He 
stopped at the home of a Mrs. Mayfield, on 
whose farm the camp was located, to get 
his dinner and his horse fed. As he was 
taking his leave, having paid his bill, he 
chanced to observe the camp ground a short 
distance away. Up to that time he was not 
aware that he was in the immediate vicinity 
of it. He inquired of his hostess concerning 
the camp meetings. She told him that but 
one such meeting had been held, though the 
intention was to make it a permanent in- 
stitution. The unsettled condition of times 
during the Rebellion prevented the plan 
from being carried out. 

"How was that meeting?" Newgent asked, 
as one who had a peculiar interest in it. 

"Oh, it was a grand success. There was 
a little Baptist preacher from near Lafay- 
ette happened in and preached one morning, 
and just set things on fire. From that time 
on the meetings were powerful." 

46 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

"What was the fellow's name?" he asked, 
but she could not recall it. 

"Was it Newgent?" She said that sounded 
like it. 

"Well," he said, "I know him. He isn't 
considered much of a preacher up there 
where he lives, but," he added, "you are 
mistaken about his being a Baptist. He is 
a United Brethren." 

She looked at him curiously for an instant 
and said, "I believe you are the fellow." 
And his smile told that she had guessed 
aright. 

His money was returned at once, and she 
insisted that he stay and preach at the 
Methodist church near the camp ground 
that night, assuring him that he would have 
a good hearing as there had been much 
talk about the little preacher who had "set 
the camp meeting afire." This he was un- 
able to do, but promised to return at a later 
date. 

A short while after the camp meeting, he 
filled an appointment for his pastor, Kev. 
J. F. Moore, at the Leatherwood church, 
which was a part of the Rockville charge. 
The pulpit arrangement of this church was 
in strict harmony with the fashion of the 
times. It consisted of a sort of wall which 
shut the preacher in almost completely from 

47 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

the congregation, suggesting a military for- 
tification. Newgent, being small of stature, 
could with difficulty peer over the top of the 
ramparts. He was led to believe, however, 
that the fortification was a. necessary pre- 
caution, for his artillery had been turned 
loose but a short time when it was evident 
that there was a hearty response. Bang! 
Some sort of a missile struck the rampart 
just in front of him with a loud report. It 
was followed immediately by another, and 
the bombardment continued until six dis- 
charges were fired. The preacher withdrew 
within the breastworks that small fraction 
of his anatomy that was exposed, and waited 
for hostilities to cease. The congregation 
was at once thrown into a state of confusion 
and excitement. When the preacher finally 
surveyed the situation after the heavy bat- 
teries were silenced, he saw that a hand-to- 
hand skirmish was on between two men in 
the rear of the room. One was making a 
desperate effort to get the other to the door 
and out of the house. With the help of the 
congregation, he succeeded in putting down 
the rebellion, and going back to his forti- 
fications he finished the discourse and the 
service was concluded in fairly good order. 
The difficulty was only a side issue, the 
culmination of a grudge between a couple 

48 




REV. ANDREW JACKSON NEWGENT 
When he traveled his first circuit. 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

of natives. The missiles were not aimed at 
the preacher, but were fired from ambush 
through the open door; the man for whom 
they were intended happened to be sitting 
in range with the pulpit. 

Rev. Mr. Moore resigned the Kockville 
charge during the year and Newgent was 
appointed to serve the unexpired term. 
This was his first experience in the pastor- 
ate. His brief term of service here was 
characterized by a revival of extraordinary 
results at Otterbein, his home church. Con- 
verts were numbered by the scores and the 
community was shaken by such a spiritual 
upheaval as it had never known. 

Another adventure should be chronicled 
here. It has been said that there are but 
three real important events in a man's life, 
namely, his birth, his marriage, and his 
death. The second of this great trio in the 
life of our subject occurred during the 
period embraced in this chapter. It is a 
common saying with him that he does not 
believe in early marriages, hence, he de- 
ferred this important step until he was 
eighteen years old. And on the seventh of 
January, 1857, he took to himself a wife in 
the person of Miss Katharine Copeland. 
She proved to be a worthy and sympathetic 
companion, heroically assuming her part of 

49 



The Experiences of Uncle JacK 

the burdens and responsibilities that belong 
to the family of an itinerant preacher. That 
her lot was not an easy one may be readily 
assumed when we consider what the minis- 
terial calling involved in that early day. 
Its peculiar hardships fell most heavily 
upon the wife, yet these she endured with- 
out protest. Brave in heart, gentle in tem- 
per, and in heartiest accord with her hus- 
band's interests, she proved to him a real 
helpmeet, and an inspiration to his loftiest 
endeavors. 



50 



Chapter Four. 

Conference Membership — Brulitz Creek Ministry — 
The Modern Knight and his Steed — Abrupt Clos- 
ing of Family Devotions by a Dog on the 
Preacher — An Original Marriage Ceremony — A 
Case of Mistaken Identity — A Banner Missionary 
Collection — Shawnee Prairie Pastorate — A Cold 
Day in April — The Redemption of Hell's Half 
Acre — Baiting for a Perverse Fish — An Experi- 
ence in the Whiskey Business. 

Rev. Mr. Newgent was received into the 
Upper Wabash Conference at Milford, Indi- 
ana,, in the spring of 1859. Bishop David 
Edwards presided. The Conference had 
been formed the preceding year by a divi- 
sion of the Wabash Conference territory. 
As a matter of coincidence he was ordained 
four years later at the Conference in ses- 
sion at the same place with the same Bishop 
presiding. He was now in his twenty-first 
year, having been quite prominent in minis- 
terial labors for about four years, and had 
a record for zeal, earnestness, and success 
in revival work that commended him favor- 
ably to the Conference. 

He was appointed by this Conference to 
the Brulitz Creek Circuit, which gave him 
an unlimited field for the exercise of his 
zeal and talents. The circuit consisted of 
eighteen appointments, only two of which 

51 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

were at church-houses; the others were at 
school houses and in private homes. With lit- 
tle or no competition, the circuit-rider was 
monarch of all he surveyed, though in most 
cases when he received his appointment he 
found enough already surveyed to tax his 
time and energy to the limit. Preaching 
services were not confined to the Sabbath, 
but would fall upon any day of the week, 
and even then the intervals between ap- 
pointments, except during the periodic "big 
meeting," were usually not less than five or 
six weeks. 

The standard mode of travel was by horse- 
back, and the circuit-rider, in addition to 
his other qualifications, needed to be efficient 
in horsemanship. This was scarcely nec- 
essary in Newgent's case, however. Not 
being able to own a horse at this time, he 
secured the loan of one from an accommo- 
dating neighbor. The horse was as accom- 
modating as its owner. It was quite well 
"broke," having endured the rigors of some 
nineteen winters, and was experienced in 
the various departments of farm work. It 
had sowed and reaped — and eaten — its wild 
oats, and was absolutely reliable, at least 
to the limit of its physical endurance. At 
any rate the horse had many acknowledged 
good points, as a faithful portrait would 

52 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

have demonstrated. While it may not have 
been in its real element on dress parade, it 
served the more practical purpose of loco- 
motion — to a somewhat limited extent. 

As the rider weighed scarcely a hundred 
pounds, the horse had no cause to complain 
at his burden. And when it came to matters 
of appearance, the odds were not so un- 
evenly balanced as might be supposed. The 
spare-built, smooth-faced youth, clad in his 
suit of home-spun, which was made with a 
reckless disregard of the lines and propor- 
tions of his anatomy, might well have re- 
called the lines of Shakespeare: 

"Would that he were fatter, but I fear him 
not; 
Yet if my name were liable to fear, 
I know of no one whom I would so much 
avoid." 

Thus, mounted upon his trusty steed, 
armed with all the weapons of spiritual war- 
fare, this modern knight errant of the sad- 
dle-bags rode forth valiantly to the scenes 
of the year's conflicts and triumphs. En- 
route to his first appointment, he found an 
opportunity to do some pastoral work which 
led to an episode, without mention of which 
these chronicles would be incomplete. Pass- 
ing by the home of one of his prominent 

53 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

members, he stopped for a brief call. The 
house stood on the side of a hill, some dis- 
tance from the road. A flight of steps led 
up to the front door. Ascending the steps, 
he rapped at the door and was kindly admit- 
ted by the good housewife. All went merry 
as a marriage bell and the time of his de- 
parture was at hand all too soon. He asked 
the privilege of bowing with the family in 
prayer before going, which was freely 
granted. The weather was warm and it 
was not thought necessary to close the door, 
though had it been done in this case, it 
would have prevented a bit of embarrass- 
ment and incidentally spoiled a good story. 
As all was so congenial within, the pastor 
anticipated no molestation from without, 
and so injudiciously knelt with his back to 
the open door. 

As he warmed up to his devotions, he 
aroused from his slumbers a large New- 
foundland dog, that had evidently not no- 
ticed the approach of the stranger, and up 
to that time was unaware of his presence. 
The aroused canine at once began an investi- 
gation, and when he saw what was going 
on, seemed much offended that he had not 
been consulted about the matter. He 
bounded up the steps into the room, and, 
seizing the preacher by the luxuriant 

54 




Family Devotions Interrupted. 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

growth of black hair that covered his dome 
of thought, affording an excellent hold for 
his teeth, he zealously set about the task of 
removing the supposed intruder from the 
premises. The preacher was taken una- 
wares. Before he could assume a defensive 
attitude, he and the dog were rolling pell- 
mell, higgledy-piggledy over each other, 
down the steps, and landed in a confused 
heap on the ground. Devotions thus came 
to an abrupt close; the family came to the 
preacher's rescue. All formalities were dis- 
pensed with for the time. By the united 
efforts of the family, the dog and preacher 
were finally separated without either of 
them being seriously damaged, and the new 
pastor of Brulitz Creek Circuit went on his 
way to face new adversaries and new ex- 
periences. 

He reached the home of Mr. Jacob Wim- 
sett, in Vermilion County, on Saturdav 
evening as the sun was dropping below the 
horizon, and there put up for the night. 
This was in the vicinity of his Sunday 
morning appointment. It was an old-fash- 
ioned home even for that day ; the home at- 
mosphere was more hospitable than conven- 
tional. As the preacher himself was quite 
democratic in his temperament, no formal- 
ities were required. He noticed among the 

55 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

various members of the household a young 
man and a young woman who seemed as un- 
obtrusive and as awkward as himself. No 
introductions being given, he took it for 
granted that they both were members of the 
family and so gave them no particular 
thought until he was ready to start to 
church the next morning. As he was about 
to take his leave, the y oung man approached 
him rather diffidently and requested him to 
wait a few minutes. 

"Me an' the girl," he explained, pointing 
to the blushing lass on the opposite side of 
the room, "are a goin' to git married, an' 
we want you to say the words for us before 
you go." 

"All right," said Newgent, in a manner 
that left the impression that he understood 
the situation all the while, "give me your 
license." 

The document was produced and the 
twain took their place in front of the 
preacher, while the rest of the company 
looked on. Up to this time he had never 
served in that capacity and had not the 
slightest idea of a marriage ceremony. Ex- 
amining the document in a seemingly crit- 
ical manner for an instant as if to make 
sure that it conformed to all require- 
ments, he looked gravely at the trembling 

56 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

young couple. "If you are agreed to live 
together," he said so rapidly as to render his 
words scarcely intelligible, "according to 
the marriage covenant, join your right 
hands." Scarcely had the}' time to heed the 
injunction when he continued, "In the name 
of God I pronounce you man and wife." 
And the twain were made one. 

He then hastened to his morning appoint- 
ment, reaching the church before the people 
began to gather. This was one of the two 
church-houses on the circuit, and was called 
Nicholls' Chapel. "Father" Nicholls, one of 
the wheel-horses of the church, and in whose 
honor it was named, was sweeping the floor 
and putting the house in order. His task 
completed, he went home to get ready for 
the morning service, without making the 
acquaintance of the young stranger. Ere 
long the people began to arrive. By the 
time Sunday school commenced the house 
was quite well filled. Newgent took his seat 
in the rear of the house and received no par- 
ticular attention. He was not even invited 
to a place in a Sunday-school class. How- 
ever, his presence incognito gave him a good 
opportunity for taking notes. He over- 
heard frequent remarks concerning the new 
preacher. The people had heard nothing 
of him and were expressing doubts about 

57 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

his being in the neighborhood. And when 
Sunday school closed without his presence 
being made known, their doubts seemed to 
be confirmed. 

Rev. William Jones, a retired preacher 
and a member of the local class, came in 
just as Sunday school was closing and at 
once made inquiry concerning the pastor. 

"We haven't seen or heard anything of 
him," was the information he received from 
Father Nicholls. 

"Why, there he is now," and Rev. Mr. 
Jones pointed to the diminutive lad near 
the door. 

"That fellow?" Father Nicholls was dum- 
founded. "That fellow has been here all 
morning. I supposed he was some hired 
hand in the neighborhood that had just hap- 
pened in." 

Explanations and apologies were freely 
indulged in, the supposed hired hand enter- 
ing heartily into the joke. He was intro- 
duced to the astonished congregation, and 
the service proceeded to their entire satisfac- 
tion and delight. Father Nicholls treated 
him kindly ; he piloted him to the afternoon 
appointment, introducing him to all whom 
they chanced to meet, invariably accom- 
panying the introduction with the story of 
the forenoon experience. 

58 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

"If I had been out hunting for preachers," 
he would say, in telling the story, "I would 
not have snapped a cap at him." 

The year's work on this field was a most 
fruitful one. The membership was doubled, 
and though the charge was not above the 
average in financial strength, he received 
the largest salary of any member of the 
conference. 

Little attention was given, at this time, 
to the cause of missions. Money was not 
generally recognized as a vital factor in 
Christian service. Salaries were meager 
and often consisted in provisions rather 
than cash. In many places a strong senti- 
ment prevailed against a paid ministry. 
Poverty and ignorance were considered nec- 
essary prerequisites to ministerial piety. 
The General Missionary Board was only 
about nine years old, and missionary senti- 
ment had not taken deep root. But New- 
gent sowed missionary seed with a lavish 
hand, and had the pleasure of reaping at 
least part of the harvest. His ability to 
lead men to loosen their purse strings even 
then began to be asserted in a marked de- 
gree. More than half of the missionary con- 
tributions of the entire conference that year 
was reported from Brulitz Creek Circuit. 

59 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

His report attracted attention and won 
him considerable distinction at the annual 
conference. According to custom each pas- 
tor reported in person in the open confer- 
ence relative to- the different interests of his 
charge. When asked about his missionary 
offering, Newgent replied, "Here it is," and 
taking a woolen bag, commonly called a 
sock, from his pocket he emptied its con- 
tents on the table. The contents consisted 
of coins of various denominations just 
as he had gathered them to the amount 
of $33.40, the small change giving it the ap- 
pearance of a larger sum than he actually 
had. However, this was considered remark- 
able. Most of the pastors reported nothing. 
Dr. D. K. Flickinger, the first missionary 
secretary of the Church, was occupying a 
seat on the platform near the Bishop, and 
joined heartily with him in applause at the 
splendid report and the unique manner of 
presenting it. 

The year's work placed the "boy preacher" 
in a most favorable light, and led to his ap- 
pointment to the Shawnee Prairie Circuit, 
the strongest charge in the Conference. The 
charge had had the pastoral service of Rev. 
Thomas H. Hamilton, a mighty man who 
stood high in the counsels of the denomina- 
tion. It was characterized by more than the 

60 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

usual amount of wealth and culture, and 
withal an air of aristocracy that led to 
demands upon a pastor that were most ex- 
acting. Eev. Mr. Hamilton was a favorite 
on the circuit, and the people had no 
thought of losing him. His election to the 
office of presiding elder, however, necessi- 
tated the change, and when the awkward, 
and, as they thought, inexperienced lad 
came among them, they felt that their aris- 
tocratic tastes were outraged. It was a wet, 
chilly day in April when he arrived, and 
the crestfallen spirits of the people made it 
still more chilly for him. And when he 
learned that the matter of rejecting him was 
being seriously considered, the situation was 
anything but cheerful. 

He told the people he would remain until 
the first quarterly meeting, when the presid- 
ing elder, Eev. Mr. Hamilton, would be pres- 
ent, and that he would willingly abide by 
their decision at that time. This was a 
judicious step, as it gave him an opportun- 
ity to prove himself. So he went to work 
with his usual zeal and by the time of the 
quarterly meeting he had sixty conversions 
with about an equal number of additions to 
the church. All thought of rejecting the 
pastor had completely vanished. In fact 
they would not have swapped him off for 

61 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

the "biggest gun they had ever heard fired." 
Such success as the charge had never known 
crowned the labors of that year — great re- 
vivals at all the appointments, the circuit 
more than doubled in strength, and en- 
thusiasm at high tide. Thus their mourn- 
ing was turned into laughing. A unan- 
imous demand was made for his return for 
another year, but his restless spirit sought 
new worlds to conquer. His motto has al- 
ways been that it is better to go to a needy 
field and build it up than to go where 
further advancement is impossible. On this 
ground he asked to be sent to a new field. 

One experience on Shawnee Prairie Cir- 
cuit is worthy of special mention. Contig- 
uous to the circuit, near Attica in Foun- 
tain County, was a section of country known 
as Hell's Half Acre. Its leading spirit was 
an infidel doctor. His influence and teach- 
ings had so dominated the community that 
it was found impossible to maintain reli- 
gious services there. Ministers were consid- 
ered proud, indolent, and altogether an un- 
desirable lot. Newgent determined to do 
some missionarv work in that benighted 
place, though repeated efforts to that end 
had been made in vain. 

In order to make a favorable impression 
and avoid the imprecation of being proud, 

62 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

he dressed in his every-day clothes and vis- 
ited the district school, which was the geo- 
graphical and social center, and the only 
place where meetings could be held. He 
announced that there would be services at 
the school house that evening, to be contin- 
ued indefinitely, and urged the children to 
spread the news. 

The announcement, however, did not pro- 
duce satisfactory results. The attendance 
the first three or four evenings did not ex- 
ceed a half-dozen. The atmosphere was 
rather chilly and the spiritual barometer 
did not indicate an early change. It soon 
became apparent that the old doctor was the 
key to the situation. If the people were to 
be reached, it must be done mainly through 
him. How to capture this Goliath was now 
the problem, and this problem Newgent set 
about to solve. 

The Sunday services having been no bet- 
ter attended than the preceding ones, he 
decided upon a bold move. On Monday 
afternoon he called at the doctor's home. 
The doctor answered his knock at the door 
in person. The old fellow's rough demeanor 
and uncouth appearance, his ancient cob 
pipe that had long been entitled to a super- 
annuated relation, the musty, dingy room 
which the half-open door disclosed — all 

63 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

seemed in striking harmony with his atti- 
tude toward religion. The preacher intro- 
duced himself and explained that he was 
holding a revival over at the school house. 
The grizzled old sinner looked him over 
from head to foot, but said nothing, though 
the expression on his sin-hardened face 
seemed to say more plainly than words, 
"Well, you little rascal, you had better be 
at home with your mother." 

"I understand," persisted the preacher, 
ignoring the old gentleman's contemptuous 
frown, "that you are a good singer and a 
prominent citizen, and I would like to con- 
sult you about the work and get you to help 
me." 

"Help in a revival? Why, don't you know 
that I don't believe in the Bible or churches, 
or religion of any sort?" 

"Well, that needn't stand in the way. 
The evenings are long and the young people 
want somewhere to go. You can do the sing- 
ing and I'll do the preaching." 

That put a different complexion on 
things. Here w r as a chance for some fun, 
and incidentally an outlet for his musical 
propensities, for he was well versed in 
music. The idea seemed to take hold. The 
grim features began to relax. The boys 
were called and told to "put up the preach- 

64 




The Boy Preacher Visiting the Infidel. 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

er's horse," and the preacher was invited 
into the house. The invitation was heartily 
accepted. Newgent understood fishing; he 
had fished before. The hook was baited and 
he now perceived that he had got a nibble. 
The afternoon was spent to a good advan- 
tage. Conversation flowed in various chan- 
nels, but fought shy of religion — no time 
for that yet. He waited for his fish to take 
the cork under before pulling in. The doc- 
tor had a large family of children, and their 
appearance bore testimony to the fact that 
they were strangers to church and Sunday 
school. The boys spread the startling news 
that "dad was goin' to help the boy preacher 
in the big meetin.' " And such news traveled 
as it were with seven-leagued boots. 

That was all the advertisement the meet- 
ing needed. The infidel accompanied the 
preacher to the meeting, taking his place up 
front, and led the singing after the droll 
manner then in vogue. An earthquake or a 
man from the dead would not have created 
more excitement or comment. From that 
time the little school house did not accom- 
modate the crowds. 

The sermon that evening was not calcu- 
lated to create a very profound impression. 
It was more saturated with Irish humor 
than with real gospel truth. The time for 

65 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

seriousness had not yet arrived. But the 
axe was laid at the root of the tree, and the 
kingdom was nearer at hand than any of 
them supposed. As a fisher of men, the 
preacher was still baiting for the fish. 

The next night he took for his theme the 
Judgment. This was the occasion for sol- 
emn and serious facts. He turned loose all 
the artillery at his command in storming 
the batteries of infidelity and sin, and felt 
the presence of the Spirit in directing the 
message. As he neared the close of his dis- 
course, he turned to the doctor. The wind 
had been taken out of the old man's sails; 
his face was in his hands and he was weep- 
ing bitterly. 

"What's the matter, doctor?' 1 he shouted, 
in a strong, firm voice, striving to make his 
words as impressive as possible. 

The doctor did not answer. 

"Get down on your knees," he commanded 
as one who spoke with authority. 

And the great exponent of infidelity went 
down, and his example was followed by a 
number of others. He wrestled in agony 
and prayer until near midnight, when the 
light broke in upon his long benighted soul 
— and the fish was caught. Such demon- 
strations had never been seen in Hell's Half 
Acre as took place in the rude school house 

66 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

that night. The tide had surely turned and 
the redemption was at hand. 

As he dismissed the service, Newgent an- 
nounced that he was ready to go home with 
the first man who invited him. A tall, 
threadbare, weather-beaten fellow accepted 
the challenge. But when the preacher 
started to go, he explained that he didn't 
mean it. "I can't take care of you ; I haven't 
any room," he protested. 

"Go ahead," said the preacher, "I can 
sleep on dry coon skins and eat roasted 
potatoes." And he went in spite of the pro- 
tests of his host. 

The man was surely honest in his protest. 
He dwelt in a hut built of round poles. In 
one corner was a badly cracked stove that 
had long done service for both cooking and 
heating purposes. Two large box-like ar- 
rangements partly filled with leaves gath- 
ered from the forest, together with some 
ragged covering, served as feeble apologies 
for beds, and between these beds was a bar- 
rel of whisky. Though it was past mid- 
night, the wife was sitting up. She was 
scantily clad, yet her face, though care- 
worn, revealed a high degree of intelligence, 
bearing evidence that she had seen better 
days. Two little girls whose appearance 
harmonized only too well with their 

67 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

wretched surroundings, completed the fam- 
ily circle. As Newgent entered this hovel 
his eyes rested upon such a picture of desti- 
tution as he had never seen. The whisky 
barrel, however, told the whole story. 

Newgent soon had the entire family feel- 
ing perfectly at ease. He played with the 
children and proved himself a most con- 
genial guest. But he was there for their 
spiritual good. That night the wretched 
home, for the first time, became a house of 
prayer. Before the light of a new day 
dawned the light from heaven broke in upon 
the sad heart of that wife and mother, and 
a new day dawned in her life. The next 
morning the husband likewise found the 
Savior, and the whisky barrel, the cause of 
so much misery and poverty, vacated its 
place in the home, for old things had passed 
away and all things had become new. An- 
other stronghold was lost to the enemy. A 
glorious night's work it was, and a mighty 
step toward the final conquest of this spirit- 
ual Canaan. 

The man asked Newgent to roll the barrel 
of whisky into the river. But he said, "No; 
let us sell it to the druggist. We can use 
the money to a good advantage." So he bor- 
rowed a team and wagon, and hauled the 
whisky to the nearest drug store, and re- 

68 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

ceived eighteen dollars for it. With the 
money he bought some much needed cloth- 
ing for the wife and children. It was his 
first and only experience in the whisky busi- 
ness. 

The entire community was swept by the 
revival. Multitudes were converted, a 
church was organized, and a church-house 
built. The whisky man and the ex-infidel 
became pillars in the church, one serving 
as class leader and the other as steward. 
Never was a work of grace more complete, 
or the power of God more wonderfully or 
graciously displayed in the transformation 
of a community than in the case of Hell's 
Half Acre. 



69 



Chapter Five. 

Six Months at Rainsville — A Hotbed of Southern Sym- 
pathizers — A Mix-up with Saloon Men — A Ser- 
mon on Slavery — Fire and Brimstone — An An- 
tagonist Outwitted — A Sermon from the Book of 
Newgent — Can Any Good Thing Come Out of 
Rainsville? 

In 1861, the time of holding the Upper 
Wabash Conference was changed from 
spring to fall. Hence, two sessions were 
held that year with an interim of but six 
months between them. This period was 
spent by Rev. Mr. Newgent on the Williams- 
port Circuit in Warren County, Indiana. 
He moved with his family to Rainsville, a 
village of about one hundred and fifty in- 
habitants, located on Vermilion River. The 
town was still in the rough, its chief activ- 
ities centering about two rival saloons. As 
it had no church and not a single inhab- 
itant who professed religion, the saloons 
had things pretty much their own way. 
The Newgents occupied part of a building 
that formerly did service as the village inn ; 
the rest of it was occupied by one of the 
saloon keepers. The two families, however, 
did not have undisputed possession of the 
place, as it seemed to have been preempted 
by bed bugs and fleas, which were no incon- 

70 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

spicuous feature of life in Rainsville. While 
the saloon keeper and the preacher main- 
tained peaceable relations with each other, 
these aboriginal neighbors maintained an 
attitude of hostility with a persistence that 
was worthy of a better cause than they rep- 
resented. 

Another thing that made life in Rains- 
ville interesting during this period was the 
war which was then in its first year of 
progress. The sympathies of the inhabi- 
tants were decidedly with the South. But 
one man could be found who claimed to be 
loyal to the Union, and as might be ex- 
pected under such circumstances, he was 
not very enthusiastic about it. They could 
safely be counted on the off side of any 
question or movement that involved a moral 
element. With the war agitation to stir 
their blood, the well patronized saloons do- 
ing business seven days and nights in the 
week, and the absence of any religious in- 
stitution or influence, Rainsville might well 
have served as a basis for the doctrine of 
total depravity. 

The Williamsport Circuit, like most of 
the country parishes of its day, afforded a 
man plenty of room to grow in. If a pastor 
rusted out it was his own fault. But New- 
gent, with his active temperament and fond- 

71 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

ness for adventure, was not the man to rust 
out. Not only the Sabbath, but most of the 
evenings between Sabbaths were taken up 
with preaching services. Each alternate 
Sabbath during the Williamsport pastorate 
he preached four times, which entailed forty- 
two miles of travel by horseback. The day's 
program was as follows : Leaving home at 
daybreak, he rode twenty miles to a ten 
o'clock appointment. After the service he 
would get a "hand out" for dinner and reach 
the next appointment at two o'clock, then to 
a 4 : 30 service, and on home for meeting at 
night. Life was both simple and strenuous 
in the extreme. 

The first Sunday in this village was a 
memorable one. Leaving his plucky young- 
wife to hold the fort, the new pastor made 
his forty-two-mile round, reaching home 
about sundown. No provision had been 
made for preaching in town, but Newgent 
resolved to give the inhabitants of this in- 
ferno a chance to hear the gospel. A rowdy 
mob was collected about each saloon. An 
air of general lawlessness, recklessness, and 
cussedness prevailed. Games and sports of 
various sorts were maintained on the 
streets. Horseback riders were galloping 
here and there, firing pistols and perform- 
ing various stunts in imitation of life among 

72 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

the untamed cowboys and Indians. Their 
boisterous talking and hollowing, with here 
and there a man staggering under his load 
of Rainsville's chief product, all combined, 
might well have led to the conclusion that 
the demons of the lower regions had been 
liberated and were holding high carnival in 
celebration of the event. 

When Newgent told his wife that he had 
decided to preach at the school house that 
night, she tried to dissuade him, fearing for 
his safety. And well she might after what 
she had seen of life in Rainsville that day. 
But he gloried in heroic tasks and heeded 
not her wise counsel. He at once set about 
to publish the appointment. In order to 
find the people he went to one of the sa- 
loons. The saloon was full of men, and the 
men were full of the saloon. Stepping up to 
the bar-tender he told him that he was going 
to hold a religious service at the school 
house at 7 : 30. "As there are no church 
services in town," he said, "I am sure you 
will be willing to encourage such a move- 
ment by closing your place of business and 
attending." 

"You can preach all you d please; 

I haven't been to church for twenty years," 
answered the booze dispenser with a look 

73 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

that seemed to add, "and I don't propose to 
commence now." 

"But I am a stranger here, and you don't 
know but I am the smartest man in the 
country, or may be the biggest fool. You 
had better come and find out for yourself." 

The idea of a church service struck the 
saloon patrons as a desirable innovation, 
and as they were in favor of anything that 
promised a diversion, they began to take 
sides with the preacher. Their enthusiasm 
waxed intense, due mainly to the reflex in- 
fluence of tarrying long at the grog shop. 
They were unanimous and emphatic in de- 
manding that the saloon be closed and that 
all go to church. 

The proprietor finally said that he would 
consent on condition that his competitor 
would do likewise. 

"All right, I'll see him," and Newgent 
broke for the other saloon where a similar 
situation prevailed. Several of the men vol- 
unteered to accompany him and assist in 
enforcing the demand, so that an ambas- 
sage that carried with it no small authority 
presented itself before the high priest of 
Gambrinus of the rival saloon. A delega- 
tion from one saloon to another, headed by 
a preacher, was an uncommon sight, espe- 
cially in Eainsville, but it had the desired 

74 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

effect. For once the saloons were closed 
and the center of interest transferred to the 
school house. News of the meeting spread 
in short order. The new preacher made 
himself an object of curiosity and comment 
by his establishing diplomatic relations 
with the governing bodies of the village, 
and everybody was anxious to see more of 
him. So all Rainsville turned out to church 
— men, women, boys, girls, and dogs — all en- 
tering heartily into the novelty of a reli- 
gious service with a. real, "sure enough" 
preacher at the head of it. 

Newgent prudently made the service 
brief. The sermon was not as spiritual as 
it might have been under different condi- 
tions, as the congregation was quite sympa- 
thetic and responsive, and he considered it 
injudicious to encourage their emotions at 
that time. He was more especially con- 
cerned about laying plans for the future. 
How to get them back was the question, 
which he sought to solve by a bit of strategy. 
So, in addition to giving them a. few mor- 
sels of wholesome advice, well sugarcoated 
with his native good humor, he made the 
startling announcement that at the next 
meeting he would preach on the subject of 
slavery. If anything were calculated to 
bring them back, surely that was. 

75 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

It was taken for granted, of course, that 
he was an Abolitionist and would denounce 
the South. The blood of those southern 
sympathizers at once began to boil. Every- 
body anticipated a lively time, and interest 
became intense. All felt that the foolhardy 
voung fellow did not realize the danger to 
which he was exposing himself. An old 
gentleman, the village blacksmith, whose 
father had been a United Brethren preacher, 
felt it his duty to warn the reverend gentle- 
man and have him to call off the entire 
proceedings. As usual, Newgent was firm. 
He told the gentleman, however, that he 
wanted to be fair to both sides, so if those 
who disagreed with him desired, they might 
get a man to follow him and present the 
other side of the question. 

This they were only too anxious to do. 
When the time came, they had their man. 
By the time Newgent and his wife arrived 
at the little school house that evening it was 
completely packed and an immense crowd 
was gathered on the outside. It was with 
the greatest difficulty that they forced them- 
selves through the anxious throng and made 
their way to the front of the building. The 
opponent was on hand, ready to take his 
measure and smash all of his arguments. 
As might be surmised, sympathy was plainly 

76 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

and emphatically with the southern advo- 
cate. If he could not demolish the frail Ab- 
olitionist, there were enough present who 
were ready to lend all the assistance he 
needed. The smell of brimstone was in the 
air, indicating the presence of that commod- 
ity in unlimited quantities. All that was 
lacking for a real conflagration was some- 
thing to touch it off. And that something- 
was momentarily expected. 

After a brief preliminary exercise, the 
preacher opened the discussion. Like the 
great apostle on Mars Hill, he compli- 
mented his hearers on their seeming inter- 
est in the subject at hand. "As the subject 
of slavery," he said, "is stirring our country 
from one end to the other, and as it is a 
subject of such vital importance, I take 
pleasure at this time in presenting one 
phase of it. 

"I wish to observe in my remarks, First, 
the slave; Second, his master; Third, the 
law by which he is held in bondage; Fourth, 
how he is to be liberated ; Fifth, where he is 
to be colonized." Thus far, well and good. 
These were familiar topics, and had been 
discussed pro and con even by the school 
children. Hence, his opening remarks were 
according to expectations, and breathlessly 
they awaited what was to follow. 

77 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

Their consternation and chagrin can only 
be imagined when he proceeded to state that 
the slave is the sinner; his master is the 
devil ; the law by which he is held in bond- 
age is sinful lusts and habits; he is to be 
liberated through the blood of Christ; and 
heaven is the place of his colonization. 
Around these propositions he built his dis- 
course without any reference to slavery as 
a civil institution. It was strictly a gospel 
sermon, and his antagonist had no dispo- 
sition to reply. 

"Well, we are beat," said the old black- 
smith after the service was dismissed, "but 
the boy is the sharpest fellow that ever 
struck this town." And he was not alone 
in his conclusion. 

With a view to holding the audience for 
the next appointment, he announced that 
he would preach at that time from the Book 
of Newgent, the twenty-eighth chapter and 
thirty-third verse, "Can any good thing 
come out of Rainsville?" 

A few davs after this announcement, he 
received a call from an old gentleman. The 
unsuspecting brother had been having 
trouble over the Book of Newgent. He 
stated that he and the old woman had been 
searching the Bible all week and were un- 
able to find it. He was kindly urged to be 

78 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

present at the preaching service and assured 
that his troubles would all be cleared up. 
Presumably the matter was explained to his 
satisfaction, as he was not heard from 
again. 

The Rainsville pastorate, though brief, 
was full of thrilling interest, and was not 
without substantial results for good. He 
won the respect and confidence of this un- 
couth people, and had the satisfaction of 
seeing many of the grosser evils disappear 
under his ministry. Before he left, the signs 
of a brighter day were plainly discernible. 
His influence with them was turned to good 
account, as will be seen in the next chap- 
ter. 



79 



Chapter Six. 

The War Spirit in Indiana — Breaking up a Traitor- 
ous Plot — Narrow Escape from Enemies — Assists 
in Securing Recruits — Becomes Chaplain of his 
Regiment — Exchange of Courtesies with a Pres- 
byterian Minister — An Embarrassing Predica- 
ment — Saves Regiment from Capture — Organizes 
a Military Church — Chased by Johnnies — An Ex- 
citing Homeward Journey. 

Indiana was a storm center during the 
Civil War. her position was a strategic one. 
She was regarded as the keystone of the 
North. With Oliver P. Morton, "Indiana's 
great War Governor/' at the head of affairs, 
she was held firmly to her moorings, and 
furnished a larger number of soldiers for 
the Union Army in proportion to popula- 
tion than any other State. Yet the State 
was constantly harrassed by citizens who 
were unfriendly to the Union cause, and 
who secretly or openly sympathized with 
the South. Secret organizations for the 
purpose of aiding the Confederacy were 
common. Conspicuous among these was the 
Knights of the Golden Circle. Yet many 
not identified with these traitorous organ- 
izations were utterly disloyal. Hence, much 
bitterness and not infrequently bloodshed 
prevailed. It was not unusual for men in 

80 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

official position to use their influence 
against the Government, or even to join the 
army with traitorous intent. 

Rev. Mr. Newgent was serving as pastor 
for the second year on the Clark's Hill 
charge, when in the fall of 1863, he was 
"persuaded," as he said, "to go into the 
army for safety." With his wife he was pay- 
ing a visit to his father-in-law in Parke 
County. In the neighborhood lived a man 
who was captain of Home Guards, but 
whose loyalty was strongly suspected. A 
small brother of Mrs. Newgent sometimes 
visited with his children, and on returning 
from one such visit, incidentally mentioned 
having seen some pretty guns in the barn 
where they had been playing. Newgent un- 
derstood the meaning of these guns secreted 
on the premises of this traitorous man, and 
telegraphed the news to Governor Morton. 
A squad of soldiers was dispatched to the 
place and some three hundred guns were 
found. Thev were confiscated and a trait- 
orous scheme was thus frustrated. 

Newgent at once became the object of a 
great deal of attention. That he was re- 
sponsible for the exposure, was generally 
surmised. A plan was formed to do away 
with him. On Sunday evening following 
the episode he was to preach at the Oak 

81 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

Ridge United Brethren Church in the com- 
munity. In the midst of the service, by a 
preconcerted plan, the lights were suddenly 
extinguished, and his adversaries were 
about to execute their design. He succeeded 
in making his escape in the darkness by the 
assistance of an uncle. The outlook seemed 
rather stormv, aud he was convinced that it 
was safer in the army than out of it. Leav- 
ing his wife in the care of her father, he 
hastened to Lafayette where a regiment, 
the 116th Indiana Infantry, was being 
formed by Colonel William C. Kise. 

At that period recruits were hard to get 
and the work proceeded slowly. Newgent 
asked the colonel what the chance would be 
for him to get the appointment of chaplain. 

"What church do you belong to?" the col- 
onel asked. 

"I am a United Brethren," was the an- 
swer. 

"I am sorry," said the colonel, "I like the 
United Brethren Church and would like to 
give you the appointment ; but this is to be 
a Methodist regiment; all the officers are to 
be Methodists, and it is understood that the 
chaplainship is to be given to a Methodist 
preacher up in the city." 

"Will you take me, then, as a private?" 
lie asked. 

82 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

"Certainly," was the eager reply, "we 
shall be glad to take you, for recruits are 
coming in awfully slowlv." There were 
then only seven companies started. None of 
them were complete. Newgent offered to 
assist in raising recruits. 

"If you will give me transportation pa- 
pers," he said, "I think I can get some men 
over in Warren County." 

"Warren County!" exclaimed the colonel 
in disgust. "It's of no use to go there for 
recruits. I have had a couple of good men 
over there for three weeks aud they have got 
only four men." But Newgent insisted that 
he be allowed to try. He understood those 
people and felt that he knew how to ap- 
proach them. The papers were finally given 
him, and he set out for Rainsville in this 
doubtful territory. 

Rainsville, it will be remembered, was a 
headquarters for southern sympathizers, 
where little more than a year before but 
one Union man could be found. The task 
was a challenge to Newgent, the kind of a 
task he delighted in. Taking a boy with a 
drum and flag, he went to the village and 
nearby points, and soon had the inhabitants 
inoculated with the war microbe. The pros- 
pects of a draft about this time proved an 
effective argument in favor of enlistment, 

83 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

which was used for all it was worth. After 
an absence of six days he returned to camp 
with 104 men, which was the first full 
company in the regiment, this, too, from 
territory that was as completely southern 
in sentiment as though it had been in the 
very heart of the Confederacy. 

The march to camp was a triumphal pro- 
cession. The company of volunteers was 
accompanied by several hundred men and 
boys who fell in on the way. As they came 
into camp about twelve o'clock on Satur- 
day night with colors flying and giving vent 
to their enthusiasm by singing and hollow- 
ing, it had the effect of a small army, not 
unlike that of Gideon's band, when they 
multiplied the effect of numbers by noise 
and enthusiasm and scared the Midianites 
out of their wits. The colonel met them 
with a drum corps and the company was 
welcomed amid the most extravagant ex- 
pressions of delight. The fact that recruits 
were coining in so slowly gave increased 
cause for demonstration. When the general 
hub-bub had somewhat abated, the crowd 
demanded a speech from Newgent, and the 
demand was imperative. Though worn by 
physical exertion and hoarse from much 
haranguing, he gave a brief talk, at the 
close of which, amid great applause, some 

84 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

one moved that "Rev. Mr. Newgent be made 
chaplain of the regiment." It was heartily 
seconded, and shouts of approval burst 
from every section of the camp. So, by sren- 
eral consent the rule to make it a Methodist 
regiment was waived, .insofar as it related 
to the chaplainship, much to the satisfac- 
tion of Colonel Rise, and Newgent became 
their spiritual adviser. 

The Methodist brother, who, it was under- 
stood, was to receive the appointment, came 
out the next afternoon (Sunday) to preach 
to the bovs and get acquainted ; but on be- 
ino- apprised of what had taken place the 
night before, he quietly withdrew, leaving 
Newgent in undisputed possession of the 
honors which his tact and energy had won. 

The regiment was finally completed and 
mustered in for a term of six months, 
thouarh it served considerably over time. Its 
first service was rendered in snardine: the 
U. S. Armory at Detroit, Michigan. The 
armory was threatened by General Vallan- 
digham, who had been banished from the 
United States because of treasonable expres- 
sions, and had placed himself at the head 
of a force in Canada with the purpose of 
threatening the Union from the north. The 
regiment was later sent to reenforce Gen- 
eral Burnsides in east Tennessee. 

85 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

This was during the terrible winter of '63 
and '61, when Burnsides was besieged by 
Confederate General Longstreet and was 
shut up in Knoxville. The hardships suf- 
fered by the Union soldiers during that 
memorable siege are matters of history and 
need not be recounted in detail here. 
Among the foremost of the sufferers was 
Newgent's regiment, the 1.16th Indiana. All 
supplies having been cut off, the boys for 
many weeks had a hard struggle to keep 
from succumbing to hunger and cold. For 
a time they each had but one ear of corn a 
day; no tents, and not sufficient clothing 
for protection even under favorable circum- 
stances. In the midst of the severest win- 
ter weather, over three hundred of the men 
were barefooted. Newgent was the best 
dressed man in his regiment, and it was 
with difficulty that he got his dress coat to 
hang together at the collar; and he suffered 
no little uneasiness lest his trousers would 
dissolve partnership with him. 

A few characteristic army experiences 
will suffice in this connection and occupy 
the remainder of this chapter. 

On reaching Tennessee, the regiment was 
stationed temporarily at Greenville. The 
care-free boys attended services the first 
Sunday morning at the Presbyterian church 
in the city. The pastor, Rev. Samuel Mc- 

86 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

Corkle, treated them kindly. They were de- 
lighted with the reception accorded them, 
and on the following Sabbath a large part 
of the regiment, including the chaplain, 
turned out to worship at Rev. Mr. Mc- 
Corkle's church. When Newgent appeared 
in his chaplain's uniform, McCorkle at once 
led him up to the pulpit and insisted that 
he preach. The chaplain was never averse 
to preaching whenever there was occasion 
for it, and so consented, under slight pres- 
sure. He observed the pastor's manuscript 
neatly tied up with red ribbon, which told 
him he had barely escaped listening to a 
manuscript sermon. Newgent had little 
sympathy for a written discourse and took 
advantage of the situation to indulge in 
some pleasantries at the learned parson's 
expense. He told the congregation, the 
greater part of whom were soldiers, that he 
had no set discourse, and that he never tried 
to palm off a written sermon upon a help- 
less congregation, as such a procedure was 
"like a doctor writing a prescription before 
examining the patient." Rev. Mr. McCor- 
kle accepted the criticism good-naturedly 
and invited Newgent to take dinner with 
him after the service. After several weeks 
of army rations, the dinner at Rev. Mr. Mc- 
Corkle's home was a most delightful change. 

87 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

He returned the courtesy that had been 
accorded him by inviting his host to preach 
to his "boys" in the afternoon. The invita- 
tion was accepted. McCorkle did not deem 
it judicious to use his manuscript after the 
episode of the forenoon, and was visibly 
handicapped and embarrassed in his at- 
tempt at extemporaneous delivery. He 
talked but a few minutes and turned the 
service over to the chaplain. 

After the service the two men had a heart- 
to-heart talk. McCorkle confessed his cha- 
grin at not being able to preach without his 
manuscript, and expressed a determination 
to cultivate the habit of extemporaneous de- 
livery. That the determination was carried 
out was seen in the fact that he became a 
leader in this method of preaching. And 
the two preachers continued fast friends. 

An incident more pleasing to relate than 
to undergo occurred at Tazewell, Tennessee, 
where Newgent's regiment had been dis- 
patched with twenty-four others to check a 
Confederate force that was approaching 
from that quarter. They went into camp, 
building temporary fortifications with the 
grave stones of a nearby cemetery. About 
midnight the army was surprised by the sud- 
den arrival of a force of Confederate cav- 
alry that captured some of the outposts. 

88 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

Newgent, with some of his regiment, was 
garrisoned in an old building that had been 
used for a granary. As the fire was opened 
he caught up his clothes in his arms, and, 
mounting his horse, started down the hill 
for a more healthful location. The horse 
stumbled over some rocks, throwing the 
rider to the ground and scattering his pre- 
cious wearing apparel to the four winds. 
There was no time for trifles, and the clothes 
were abandoned for the time. They were 
recovered about nine o'clock the next morn- 
ing, much to the relief of the reverend, 
whose situation in the meantime was as em- 
barrassing as it was uncomfortable. 

On one occasion his coolness and ingenu- 
ity Avere the means of saving his entire reg- 
iment from capture. The regiment had been 
ordered across the Clinch Eiver in east Ten- 
nessee to guard a narrow passage in the 
mountains at what was called Bean's Sta- 
tion. They had gotten across and were camp- 
ing in a bend of the river when news came 
that the rebels had superseded them, and 
three brigades were between them and the 
gap. They might easily have retreated, but 
the river became swollen from heavy rains, 
and to cross a swift, mountain stream under 
such circumstances was practically out of 
the question. 

89 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

Newgent was sick at the time, being cared 
for at the colonel's headquarters. During 
the early part of the night the colonel came 
to him, trembling with fear, and said, 
"Chaplain, what on earth is to be done? 
There is a strong rebel force on one side of 
us, and an unfordable stream on the other. 
If we are not out of here by morning every 
one of us will be captured." 

The rebels were confident that they could 
not get away and so waited until morning to 
bag their game. 

"Bring six or seven of the boys here," said 
Newgent. The boys were brought. He told 
them to go down to the river where they 
would find an old canoe partly filled with 
water. "Build a fire on the bank so that its 
light will shine across the stream, bail 
the water out of the canoe, put it in as good 
shape as possible, and then report." 

They followed his instructions, after 
which they came back to headquarters, and 
the sick chaplain got out of his bed and 
went back with them to the river. Though 
it was a perilous undertaking, the men got 
in the water-soaked canoe, and by the un- 
certain light of the fire, made their way to 
the other side of the angry stream. They 
went to General Curtain's headquarters, re- 
lated the situation, and procured a supply 

90 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

of cannon rope. With the rope they made 
a cable across the river. They thus devised 
a rude ferry by means of an abandoned and 
partly submerged barge which they raised 
and repaired for the purpose. The barge 
would carry about twelve men or one horse 
at a trip. It was propelled by the men hold- 
ing to the cable and thus laboriously work- 
ing their way from one side of the stream to 
the other. Through the dark, stormy night 
they toiled, and before daybreak the entire 
regiment with all appurtenances was out of 
reach of the enemy. When the rebels 
reached forth their hand next morning to 
bag their game, lo ! it wasn't there ! 

It was a terrible night's work, however. 
The sick chaplain stayed with the barge un- 
til the last man was saved. He was twice 
thrown into the water, and ran a, fearful 
risk in thus exposing himself at so critical 
a time. After the excitement of the night, 
by which alone his physical strength was 
sustained, he suffered a serious relapse. He 
was confined to his bed at General Curtain's 
headquarters for about two weeks, when he 
again reported for duty. The men regarded 
him as their deliverer, and the satisfaction 
of having saved his comrades from the hor- 
rors of a southern prison compensated for 
all he suffered. For this heroic deed he was 

91 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

complimented on dress parade by a special 
order from the general. 

The following* reference to this incident 
is found in the "Official Records of the 
Army," Series I., Vol. XXXI. : 

Tazewell, Tenn., December 14, 1863. 
Major-General Foster, Knoxville: 

General: I have the honor of reporting that I 
arrived here this evening at about dark, having 
left Rutledge at 9:00 a. m., and Bean's Station at 
1:30 p. m. . . At the crossing of the Clinch 

River (Evan's Ford) I found a sufficient guard, 
under the command of Colonel Kise. The river 
was rising quite rapidly, but the guard had raised 
and repaired the ferry-boat, which was crossing suc- 
cessfully, being pulled back and forth by hand upon 
a cable stretched from one shore to another. 1 
think that it would be well, as a matter of security, 
to have another boat built there, and will so notify 
Colonel Babcock. 

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient 
servant, O. M. POE, 

Captain and Chief Engineer, Army of the Ohio. 

As a means for the spiritual welfare of 
the "boys," he conceived and carried out the 
idea of organizing a military church. 
Though there were various religious organ- 
izations among the soldiers, and some doubt- 
less on similar lines, yet this was an entirely 
original conception with him. His church 
took no denominational name, but was made 
up of all who were willing to become mem- 
bers. It was completely officered, and main- 
tained prayer meetings and church services 
at stated intervals. Two special revival 

92 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

meetings were held in which about 250 of 
the "boys" were converted. 

His spiritual ministrations were not lim- 
ited to the soldiers. Whenever an oppor- 
tunity presented itself he would hold serv- 
ices at nearby churches and school houses. 
On one such occasion he incidentally, to use 
his own expression, "chased seven Johnnies 
for three and a half miles." It was a merry 
race; like Jehu the entire party rode furi- 
ously. But as the chaplain had more at 
stake than his companions in the chase, he 
managed to maintain his position well in 
advance of the seven, and was quite willing 
to abandon the chase bv the time he reached 
camp. 

Not least among the interesting army "ex- 
periences" was the homeward journey. As 
previously stated, the regiment served over 
the time for which they enlisted. The men 
were impatient and homesick. Their desti- 
tute condition rendered many of them al- 
most desperate. Almost half of them were 
barefooted and all were weakened by hunger 
and exposure. The morning on which they 
were to start home the colonel announced 
that they would proceed to Barbersville, 
Kentuckv, and that there thev would find a 
supply of much-needed clothing and provi- 
sions. This was a two-days' march, which, 

93 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

in itself, was no pleasing prospect under the 
circumstances. The promise of food and 
clothing, however, nerved them for the or- 
deal. It was midnight when Barbersville 
was reached, and to their utter consterna- 
tion the promised supplies were not there. 

Things were looking blue. The colonel 
said to Newgent, "You have the best horse 
in the regiment. Take a couple of the boys 
and get out and find something to feed those 
men before morning." He started, not to 
forage, but to beg. At the first house he 
came to he was met by a woman to whom 
he stated his mission. She showed him a 
blood spot on the floor where her husband 
had been killed by the rebels, and said that 
all she had was a half-bushel of meal, but 
she was willing to divide. It was all he se- 
cured, though he continued the search until 
daylight. Returning to camp, he threw the 
bit of meal at the colonel's feet, and fell 
down exhausted, dropping at once into a 
deep sleep. 

What happened during the time he slept, 
when the real situation dawned upon the 
men, he could only surmise. The next he 
knew, the colonel had him aroused and was 
ordering him to ride ahead of the regiment 
to a little water-mill about twelve miles dis- 
tant to see what could be found there, and 

94 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

to arrange if possible to feed the men when 
they arrived. He found a few bushels of 
grain, most of it in a bad condition. When 
ground into meal it made just one pint each 
for the men. After they had eaten their 
morsel, the colonel made them a little speech 
in which he told them that the next objec- 
tive point would be Camp Dick Robinson, 
and for every man to look out for himself 
until they reached the camp. This they 
were quite glad to do. And when in a few 
days they met at the camp, they were in bet- 
ter spirits, and were pretty well supplied 
for the rest of the journey. 

The next way station was Camp Nelson. 
Here they were met by the Provost Mar- 
shal who declared the regiment under ar- 
rest for pillaging, and ordered them to stack 
arms. While the authorities were arrang- 
ing the details for taking care of them, the 
colonel took advantage of the delay. "At- 
tention, Battalions," he shouted, "Shoul- 
der arms — forward march — double quick!" 
The order was eagerly obeyed. A "double- 
quick" march was made to Nicholasville. 
This was a railroad town. Here they or- 
dered a train for Cincinnati. The train 
steamed out of the station with its load of 
animated freight just as the Marshal with 
his guard galloped in sight. 

95 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

The authorities at Cincinnati were noti- 
fied by wire to arrest the regiment on its 
arrival there, but this was anticipated. So 
they got off the train at Covington, crossing 
the Ohio River bv ferry to Cincinnati. 
There they got a train for Indianapolis 
without being detected. The train was 
pressed into service to convey them on to 
Lafayette, the home of the regiment. They 
reached the city on Sunday evening, as the 
church bells were ringing for the evening 
services. Newgent, as his custom was, went 
to church. Possibly he felt the need of it 
after what he had gone through. He went 
to the First Methodist Episcopal Church, 
and at the urgent request of the pastor, de- 
livered the evening discourse to the delight 
of the splendid audience. 

It should be said in justice to Rev. Mr. 
Newgent that he was not a party to any of 
the irregularities that almost brought his 
regiment into disrepute after it had acquit- 
ted itself so well on the field. He remon- 
strated with the men and exhorted them to 
better conduct, but when the pressure of 
army discipline was removed, the pent-up 
energies of these raw backwoodsmen were 
turned loose along various channels and 
could neither be suppressed nor regulated. 
The officers of the regiment, with the ex- 

96 



The Experiences of Uncfe Jack 

ception of Newgent, were summoned before 
the proper military tribunal at Indianap- 
olis, to answer for their depredations. They 
were acquitted, however, being ably de- 
fended by Lieutenant-Colonel G. O. Beam. 
Whether or not the verdict was a just one, 
is of no special concern to us here. Suffice 
it to say that our subject, though a, young 
man, so ordered his life as not only to keep 
himself unspotted from the world, but at the 
same time to win for himself the confidence 
of even the most hardened sinners. He was 
exonerated from all blame in advance, and 
his name was not brought before the court. 



y; 



Chapter Seven. 

Plants the United Brethren Banner in Terre Haute — 
Prairieton Pastorate — Difficulty with the Sons of 
Anak — A Prayer Without an "Amen" — Another 
Community Redeemed — Going to the Wrong Doc- 
tor — A Perverse Colt — An Unintentional Immer- 
sion — One Sermon That was not Dry. 

It was in April, 1864, when Rev. Mr. New- 
gent returned from the war. His own con- 
ference did not meet until fall, but the 
Lower Wabash Conference met in its an- 
nual session in Vermilion, Illinois, about 
the time of his return. With the view to 
getting- back on the firing line at once, he 
attended the latter conference, and was ap- 
pointed to Terre Haute (Indiana) Mission. 
This was strictly prospective work, as the 
mission was projected at this session. The 
conference at the same session, following 
the example of the Upper Wabash Confer- 
ence, decided to change the time of its an- 
nual meetings from spring to fall, hence the 
appointment was made for a period of only 
six months. During this time Rev. Mr. 
Xewgent devoted himself with characteris- 
tic zeal to laying broad and deep the founda- 
tions of his church in this new Macedonia. 
That his labors were fruitful is seen in the 
fact that he reported to the fall conference 

98 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

an organized church on Second Street, with 
splended prospects of a prosperous future — 
prospects which subsequent history has 
abundantly fulfilled. To him belongs the 
credit of first planting the United Brethren 
banner in this thriving city, where the 
Church has since steadily grown to a place 
of prestige and influence. 

The Terre Haute pastorate was followed 
by a year at Prairieton, in Vigo County, 
Indiana, Some experiences on this field are 
worthy of note. A revival meeting was held 
in an unevangelized community at what was 
known as the Battle Row School House, 
near the Wabash River. The school house 
was a primitive log building with plenty of 
ventilation. The wide cracks between the 
logs in the walls not only admitted a suf- 
ficiency of fresh air, but were a source of 
temptation to the untamed sons of the na- 
tives who were wont at critical times to 
inject missiles of various sorts through them 
into the midst of the congregation, causing 
more or less uneasiness and often confusion 
to the worshipers. It was not a place 
where one could worship under his own vine 
and fig tree with no one to molest or make 
afraid. During the early stage of the meet- 
ing reapers were scarce, and to all appear- 
ances, were wholly inadequate to the de- 

99 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

mands of the great, over-ripe harvest. The 
sons of Anak seemed to have a perpetual 
title to the place, and showed no intention 
of evacuating it. At one time, as Newgent 
was making an earnest plea for penitents to 
come to the altar, he observed a company of 
ruffians in the rear of the room in a rather 
impenitent condition, bantering one another 
to go forward to the mourner's bench. The 
quick wit of the preacher frustrated their 
evil designs. Constant vigilance had to be 
exercised to prevent outbreaks and demon- 
strations of a similar character. As the 
meeting proceeded converts multiplied and 
the odds became more and more to the ad- 
vantage of the faithful. 

There was one wheel-horse who was the 
pastor's right hand man in the great con- 
flict with primitive elements. A splendid 
man he was, though his droll manner was a 
subject of sport for the lewd fellows of the 
baser propensities. A characteristic atti- 
tude when he offered public prayer was to 
kneel facing the wall, with his back toward 
the congregation. Then with his eyes closed 
and oblivious to all his surroundings, he 
would soar to a high altitude in his elo- 
quence aud fervency of spirit. In such sur- 
roundings, however, it would have been bet- 
ter had Father Scott, as he was affection- 

100 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

ately called, not forgotten his relation to 
this mundane sphere, for the situation 
surely demanded watching as well as pray- 
ing. Especially would it have prevented an 
awkward hitch in the services one evening 
when the interest and enthusiasm were at 
their greatest height. Intense conviction 
was capturing and humbling proud and de- 
fiant hearts, and victory was perching upon 
the banners of the loyal band. 

But, as in the days of Job, when the sons 
of God went to worship, Satan went also. 
Battle Row School House furnished a good 
demonstration of the fact that, 
"Wherever God erects a house of prayer, 
The devil's sure to build a chapel there; 
And 'twill be found upon investigation, 
The latter has by far the larger congrega- 
tion." 
While the worshipers were in the midst 
of great rejoicing, Satan's hosts were hold- 
ing high carnival on the outside. Father 
Scott was called upon, as he frequently was, 
at the most critical stage in the meeting, to 
lead in prayer. As his custom was, he knelt 
with his face to the wall, and by chance his 
mouth was dangerously near a huge crack. 
While sailing away in the ether world, and 
the people were hanging breathlessly upon 
his earnest and eloquent words, all unex- 

101 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

pectedly, for some strange reason, the ma- 
chinery stopped. It was unusual for a 
prayer to be terminated so abruptly without 
the conventional "amen." All eyes were 
fixed upon Father Scott. What could have 
happened? It was painfully apparent that 
he was in distress. He was making a des- 
perate effort to clear some obstruction from 
his throat, get his breath, and regain his 
equilibrium. 

The proximity of Father Scott's mouth 
to the opening in the wall was too great a 
provocation for the unregenerates on the 
outside of the house to forego. One of them 
had prepared a ball of mud, and with accu- 
rate aim, threw it through the crack into the 
brother's mouth, putting him temporarily 
out of commission. There was, of course, 
confusion in the midst of Zion, but Father 
Scott, whose battery had been silenced by 
this unexpected maneuver, was soon able to 
resume operations, and the battle was 
pressed with increased vigor. 

There was another neglected community 
adjacent to this charge. It was entirely 
without church services or religious influ- 
ences of any kind. In the community lived 
a well-to-do gentleman of the name of Owen, 
whose wife was an invalid. Being of a reli- 
gious turn of mind, and deprived of church 

102 




A Prayer Without An Amen 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

privileges, she desired to have a meeting 
held at her home mainly for her benefit. 
Rev. Mr. Newgent was invited to conduct 
the service. His Sundays being taken up by 
his regular work, the meeting was held in a 
forenoon during the week. A goodly com- 
pany of neighbors gathered out of respect 
to the dear sister, and she enjoyed the occa- 
sion so much that she invited them all back 
for a service in the evening. The evening 
meeting proved still more interesting, and it 
was decided to continue the services indef- 
initely. It developed into a grand revival 
which resulted in many conversions, the or- 
ganization of a church, and the building of 
a church-house. Among the first to come 
to the mourner's bench was Mr. Owen, the 
generous host. He "came through" shout- 
ing and became a strong, staunch, and 
stormy defender of the faith. 

Among attendants at the revival were two 
brothers, "Dave" and "Joe" Walker, not- 
able characters in a local way. Both were 
proficient in the use of the violin, or, in the 
vernacular of the day, thev were great fid- 
dlers. Even if there was nothing else to 
place them under the ban of pious sentiment, 
this in itself would have been sufficient, for 
the fiddle had been so exclusively associated 
with bad company that it was supposed to 

103 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

have .absorbed something of the evil spirits 
of its companions, and in the superstitious 
imaginations of many it possessed invisible 
hoofs and horns, and a. strange, infernal 
power that was to be zealously avoided. 
Hence, Dave and Joe were regarded as typ- 
ical "hard nuts," and it cannot be denied 
that they made an honest effort to live up 
to their reputations. They were more fa- 
miliar with the conventionalities of the 
country "hoe-down" than with the atmos- 
phere of a "big nieetin'." Until the revival 
at the Owen home attracted their attention, 
the} 7 had not been present at a church serv- 
ice since they were boys. They became 
fairly regular attendants at the meeting, 
and in consequence, both got sick. Their ill- 
ness seemed to be of a peculiar character, as 
neither of them could explain his symptoms 
or give any clue as to the seat of the trouble. 
Joe became much worse one evening and 
by midnight he began to think he was being 
beckoned across the border. Dave, whose 
condition was not so critical, was dispatched 
to Prairieton for medical aid. While he 
was gone, Joe got religion. This proved to 
be all the treatment he needed. All un- 
favorable symptoms disappeared, and he set 
out post haste to meet his brother. Just be- 
fore he reached the village, he met Dave on 

104 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

his way home, when the following colloquy 
took place: 

"Oh, Dave, I've got all the medicine I 
need. It ain't pills we need, but religion." 

"Bless the Lord, I've took the medicine, 
too," said Dave. He had also been con- 
verted on his return from the doctor's office. 
It thus became apparent that their malady 
was spiritual rather than physical, but be- 
ing unfamiliar with symptoms of that char- 
acter, they were unable to diagnose the case 
until the remedy had been applied. The two 
brothers were made every whit whole, soul 
and body. They hung up "the fiddle and the 
bow," and their talents and energies were 
turned loose along more legitimate chan- 
nels. 

Vermilion Circuit, in Illinois, was the 
scene of the next pastorate. Here a memor- 
able experience took place as he was making 
his second "round" on the charge. New- 
gent, like other strong men, has always had 
some hobbies, legitimate hobbies in his case, 
however, that were elements of strength in 
his ministry. One of these is punctuality. 
He has always been scrupulously punctual 
in meeting his engagements. He never 
misses a train from the fact that he is far 
more likely to be at the station three-quar- 
ters of an hour ahead of time than three- 

105 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

quarters of a minute late. He is a strict 
believer in the maxim of the muse, 
"Better be an hour early and stand and 
wait, 
Than to be a moment behind the time." 

In filling appointments he observes the 
same rule. He finds it helpful to be on 
hand sufficiently early to meet and shake 
hands with the advance guards of the con- 
gregation. It affords a tonic for his wits 
and puts him in a mood to be at his best. 

On his new charge was a church known 
as Prairie Chapel. As usual, in his intro- 
ductory services he exhorted his people to 
be punctual in their attendance, stating that 
he made it a point to be on time, and that 
if he at any time was not strictly "on the 
dot," they might know that something was 
wrong. It so happened that at the very next 
service the scrupulously punctual preacher 
was behind time, and it also happened that 
something was desperately wrong. 

As a sort of background to the scene to be 
here presented, it would be well to state 
that he was clad in a new suit, as preachers 
usually were at the beginning of the year. 
The new suit consisted of a complete outfit 
from boots to hat and gloves, including also 
that luxury which not every circuit rider 
could afford, a fine shawl. It should further 

106 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

be explained that he was riding a colt, not 
the nineteen-year-old variety with which he 
traveled his first circuit, but a genuine 
three-year-old, with all the fire and perverse- 
ness of its kind. It might also be in order 
to add, by way of parenthesis, that the Illi- 
nois roads after the rains and frosts of Sep- 
tember began their maneuvers, were no re- 
specters of new clothes. 

Just before reaching Prairie Chapel, the 
road crossed a slough some three hundred 
feet wide. At this point the road was cov- 
ered by about three feet of water, or per- 
haps, as it was difficult to tell just where 
the water left off and the mud began, it 
would be more exact to say that it was three 
feet from the top of the water to the bot- 
tom of the mud. It was covered with a thin 
coating of ice. Newgent, being the first to 
pass that way on that Sunday morning, had 
to break the ice as he went. The colt did not 
like the task to begin with, but as this was 
the only road to the church and was fenced 
on either side with a picket fence, a straight- 
forward course was the only alternative. 

The colt proceeded reluctantly until it 
reached the middle of the slough. There it 
became possessed with the spirit of Balam's 
beast and refused to go farther. Its pur- 
pose seemed to be fixed as all the entreaties 

107 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

of the rider were unavailing. The church 
was in plain view, and, like the wedding- 
guest of Coleridge's immortal "Rime,'' the 
preacher could see and hear the people as 
they were assembling, while he was trans- 
fixed to the spot. Finally giving up hope 
of going forward, he tried to turn the colt's 
head in the opposite direction, when, lo, he 
found that it was as averse to turning back 
as it was to going forward. Just what the 
beast's plan for the future was, could not 
well be divined, for, to be in the middle of 
a lake with no purpose of going either for- 
ward or backward was, to say the least, a 
position difficult to explain or defend. The 
final bell rang for the morning service, and 
the preacher began to realize that his repu- 
tation for punctuality was in danger of be- 
ing water-soaked. A final desperate effort 
was made to induce locomotion, but to no 
avail. 

It was a real Slough of Despond. The 
reverend's heart sank to the bottom of his 
new boots when he found that his onlv 
chance was to dismount. This he proceeded 
to do, supposing that he could at least lead 
the beast out of the water. The water was 
by no means comfortable, the mud filled his 
boots, and apprehensive thoughts concern- 
ing the unpresentable appearance he would 

108 



~\ 




The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

make at church, and the damage being done 
to his new suit, and at the same time the 
humiliation of being beaten out by a per- 
verse colt, all together did not tend to a 
devotional frame of mind. 

Taking the rein, he waded forward, ex- 
pecting the colt to follow, but it had no dis- 
position to be led ; he gave the rein a sharp 
pull, but the animal also had scruples 
against being pulled. He then gave the rein 
a jerk, putting all of his physical strength, 
and possibly a bit of his temper into the 
jerk, when, lo! the rein broke, and the 
preacher, not thinking of such a contin- 
gency, went splash into the water, being 
completely submerged. Things were rapidly 
going from bad to worse. It was of no use 
under the circumstances, to try to maintain 
ministerial dignity. Gathering himself to- 
gether, he made his way to the fence, and, 
loosing a picket, he got behind the animal, 
and with a few strokes where they would do 
the most good, and unministerial maneu- 
vers, he got it started, and by an aggressive 
follow-up campaign, they reached the shore 
without further ceremony or delay. 

He hastened on to the church. The peo- 
ple were waiting for the belated pastor, and 
when he arrived, they saw at once there 
had been a valid excuse for his tardiness. 

109 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

There were four other ministers present, 
and Newgent tried to get one of them to 
preach in his stead, but all declined. So he 
went on with the regular program, aud 
preached with his usual zeal while the water 
was still dripping from his new suit. It 
was one time at least when the congrega- 
tion was not bored with a dry preacher. 

After service he went home with one of 
his members, borrowed some dry clothes, 
and proceeded to fill his other appointments 
for the day. 



10 



Chapter Eight. 

The New Goshen Pastorate— An Old Grudge Healed 
— Dry Bones Revived — Memorable Year at "Dog- 
town" — "Death in the Pot" — The Hittites Cap- 
tured — The "Jerks" — Other Remarkable Demon- 
strations — A Rooster in the Missionary Collec- 
tion — First Debate — Unpleasant Sequel to a Horse 
Trade. 

Following the Vermilion pastorate, two 
years were spent on the New Goshen Cir- 
cuit in Vigo County, Indiana, This circuit 
had ranked among the best in the confer- 
ence, but unfortunately had become weak- 
ened and despoiled through internal dis- 
sension. A chronic grudge between two of 
the most prominent members had leavened 
the whole lump with its unsavory effects. It 
was one of those situations that afford a 
pastor a splendid opportunity of losing his 
ecclesiastical scalp, the very thing that hap- 
pened to a number of former pastors who 
undertook to heal the sore. It was not New- 
gent's policy to take a hand in neighborhood 
broils, or to break to the woods in the face 
of such contingencies, but rather to "stand 
still and see the salvation of the Lord." 

His presiding elder told him that his first 
duty on going to the circuit would be to get 
the difficulty adjusted. It was suggested 

ill 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

that as he was a stranger to both parties, 
he would be the proper one to do it. He re- 
plied that God had not called him to fix up 
old grudges between church members, but 
to save sinners. 

"But unless you get this done," he was 
told, "you had as well not go, for you can 
never accomplish anything until the diffi- 
culty is removed. He said he would not 
bother the old grudge directly, and that if 
there were sinners who wanted salvation, he 
was sure God could save them in spite of 
old, grouchy church members. He pro- 
ceeded at once to plan a revival campaign. 
It is part of his philosophy that if a pastor's 
first revival effort is a success it begets con- 
fidence on the part of the people and paves 
the way for other victories. It is, therefore, 
the part of wisdom to choose the easiest 
place to begin with. Accordingly, he began 
a meeting in the latter part of September 
at the Rose Hill class, where he thought 
there were the fewest hindrances. But the 
people were still busy with their farm work, 
and with the old trouble still visible around 
the edges, producing a melancholy Indian 
summer effect, he had very little encourage- 
ment. Two weeks passed and only four per- 
sons could be mustered for day services. He 
preached to this quartet of faithful souls, 

112 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

held prayer and class meetings with them, 
and encouraged them in every possible way. 

"Tell the people to come," he said to his 
little band one day, as if seized with a sud- 
den revelation, "for we are going to have 
the biggest revival they have ever seen. If 
you can't tell it on your own faith, tell them 
the preacher said so." They perhaps half- 
way believed what he said. At least they 
did as they were urged, and the crowd was 
slightly increased the next day. And with 
that service the revival really did begin. 
The prophecy was fulfilled. It was by far 
the greatest revival the community had 
ever known, abundantly demonstrating the 
preacher's philosophy that when folks want 
salvation, a few backslidden church mem- 
bers, even with their bristles up, cannot pre- 
vent them from getting it. 

New Goshen Class was the head and heart 
of the circuit, likewise the seat of the 
trouble that had been its thorn in the flesh. 
Newgent proceeded to carry out his policy 
of capturing the outposts before storming 
this stronghold of opposition. The plan 
worked admirably. Three meetings were 
held, each of which resulted in a sweeping 
revival. He was now ready for the Hercu- 
lean task, the final charge, New Goshen it- 
self! 

113 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

Here it was seen how God moves in mys- 
terious ways, using the weak things to con- 
found the mighty. Some two* miles from 
town lived a family, all of whom were ut- 
terlv irreligious. The father was a drunk- 
ard and a notably rough character. The 
oldest daughter was an invalid, but on 
learning of the meeting, she was taken with 
a keen desire to attend. So she went to 
visit with a family who lived just across 
the street from the church, so that it would 
be convenient for her. In the first service 
she attended, she went to the altar, and was 
not there long until she fell into a trance. 
This was repeated the second and third 
evenings. One of her brothers was present 
the third evening, and when he saw his sis- 
ter so strangely affected, conviction seized 
upon him so intensely that he likewise fell 
over in an unconscious condition. When lie 
"came through" he was a new creature in 
Christ. One after another of this wicked 
family was taken captive by the power of 
God until all were graciously saved. 

By this time the church began to rub its 
eyes and take notice. The dry bones were 
surely beginning to shake and show signs 
of life. One evening as the power of God 
was moving upon the people, the two breth- 
ren who were responsible for the old trouble 

114 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

on the circuit, were seen edging toward each 
other, and when they got together, they 
threw their arms around each other's necks 
and wept like children. The mother of one 
of the men was present and when she saw 
what was taking place, she sent up a shout 
that really did wake the dead — the spirit- 
ually dead of the congregation. Walls of 
opposition suddenly gave way. The fire 
from heaven fell as it fell on Sodom and 
Gomorrah, not to destroy, but to wipe out 
old scores and to make men and women 
alive to God. The fortified city was taken. 
The victory was complete. 

During this pastorate of two years, over 
four hundred persons were added to the 
church. 

One of his most successful and memorable 
pastorates was that on the Charlestown Cir- 
cuit, in Illinois. The circuit had a very un- 
savory reputation at the time. It was com- 
monly known by the undignified and uncom- 
plimentary name of "Dogtown." Newgent 
had asked to be sent to the worst charge the 
conference had, and the reputation of Dog- 
town made this a matter easily determined. 
His predecessor had been egged and other- 
wise badly handled. 

It was a serious question with the con- 
ference as to whether a pastor should be 

115 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

appointed to it, as it had proven itself so 
unworthy. Besides, it was a proposition 
that few men were willing to face, Newgent 
being the only aspirant for the situation. 
The salary the preceding year was $180, and 
there was not a church paper taken on the 
entire charge. 

Dogtown, the place which gave the name 
and largely the reputation to the circuit, 
was a straggling village noted only for its 
general cussedness. Newgent declared that 
it had never been named after a good dog, 
but more likely after the lowest bred cur in 
the country. The name, however, was parti- 
ally a corruption of Diona, by which name 
the town had been christened ; but the appro" 
priateness of the former name was soevident 
that it naturally stuck, and the original 
name was well nigh forgotten. Though the 
place was utterly fallen from righteousness 
— if it ever possesed any — and was inclined 
to evil and evil only, it had the one advan- 
tage of being well churched. It had two 
church-houses, each serving as the home for 
two denominations. Thus, four denomina- 
tions were diligently casting their pearls 
into this swine-wallow only to have them 
trampled under foot. The Methodists and 
Baptists occupied one house, and the Cum- 
berland Presbyterians and United Brethren 

116 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

the other. They suffered no inconvenience 
through lack of room, as the combined mem- 
bership of the four churches numbered only 
fourteen, seven of whom belonged to the 
United Brethren. 

It was one of those melancholy days, a 
Sunday afternoon in September, when the 
new circuit rider arrived to fill his first ap- 
pointment at Dogtown. Of course the seven 
members of his flock were present to take 
his measure. The task was soon done. 
They were crestfallen when they saw as 
their spiritual advisor an unpretentious, 
boyish-looking fellow, somewhat below the 
standard size, and possessing little of the 
air and dignity and gravity of a ripe circuit 
rider, according to their staid notions. The 
faithful seven, like the proverbial birds of 
a feather, occupied a portion of the house 
to themselves; their long faces turned full 
upon the pastor, added to the melancholy of 
that autumn afternoon. Nor did the small 
sprinkling of stray sheep throughout the 
plain old building serve to any considerable 
extent as a counter-irritant. 

Newgent was keeping a "stiff upper lip" 
as he introduced the services. The prelim- 
inary exercises were about finished, and he 
was about to begin the sermon ; the congre- 
gation was droning out a familiar tune 

117 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

when a raw, strapping native came stalking 
in. He presented a unique appearance. He 
was barefooted, his trousers were rolled up 
to his knees, he wore no coat, and his 
checked shirt was unbuttoned at the collar. 
No sooner was he seated than another in ex- 
actly similar manner and costume followed. 
One after another followed until upwards in 
thirty came in, all dressed exactly alike, and 
so timing their movements as to give time 
for each to be seated before another fol- 
lowed, making the procession as long as 
possible — to the amusement of the pastor 
and the stray sheep, and the utter conster- 
nation of the faithful seven. 

It struck the witty Irishman at once that 
they were not trying to install him as the 
Presbyterians do their pastors, but rather 
to forestall him after the manner of Dog- 
town; and he made up his mind not to be 
forestalled. He wavS certain they did not 
want any religion and he had no religion to 
throw away. He had his subject in mind, 
but he thought it best to select a more ap- 
propriate one. According^, he announced 
as his text, "Oh, man of God, there is death 
in the pot," He talked about twenty min- 
utes, putting in the entire time telling his 
funniest stories, and pouring in one broad- 
side after another of his Irish wit and 

118 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

humor. It was a diplomatic move. All 
seemed heartily to enjoy the "sermon," ex- 
cept the seven members of his own congrega- 
tion. The proceeding was most too irreg- 
ular for their conventional tastes. The 
members of his uniformed guard were espe- 
cially delighted. Every witticism was 
greeted with vociferous applause, by the 
stamping of their bare feet, clapping of 
hands, and unrestrained, boisterous laugh- 
ter. 

"I would not black my boots to hear a 
long, dry sermon," said the preacher by 
way of conclusion. "You are a fine looking 
set of fellows. I have been sent by the con- 
ference to preach to you, and I am sure we 
will get along well together. Now, if you 
see me at anv time looking hungry, or if it 
is near night, take me in. I am an Irish- 
man and easily pleased. And if I see any 
of you near my home, I will treat you the 
same. But, gentlemen, I have the most 
beautiful little wife you ever set eyes on. 
Now, I expect to bring her with me the next 
time, and you must be sure to put y our boots 
on and fix up a little." 

When he dismissed he went back among 
this raw element, shaking hands and talk- 
ing freely with each one. Much of his time 
between that and the next appointment was 

119 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

spent studying "mischief" — loading up for 
the next discharge. His second talk was 
even more humorous than the first, having 
been prepared especially for the crowd and 
the occasion. In the meantime his fame had 
been spread broadcast, and an immense 
crowd was present to see and hear the "wild 
Irishman." A number were congregated at 
the door for the purpose of greeting him 
upon his arrival at the church. 

At the third appointment he had an over- 
flow crowd. As he was walking down the 
aisle to the pulpit, a brother whom he recog- 
nized as one of the true and blue seven of 
the first service, plucked him aside and 
whispered : 

"Parson, you've got 'em. You're the 
smartest feller that ever struck this place. 
These fellers say you've got to have order if 
they have to fight for it." 

"That's what I've been fishing for," said 
Newgent. He began a revival at this time. 
Ere long the great, rough fellows who 
laughed so heartily at his jokes were crowd- 
ing to the mourner's bench, shedding tears 
of penitence, crying for mercy, and piercing 
the air with shouts of victory as one after 
another emerged into the light and liberty 
of God's children. A marvelous work was 
wrought in that sin-polluted community. As 

120 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

the lives of these hardy backwoodsmen were 
transformed by the power of Christ, they 
became as potent for righteousness as they 
had been for evil. Just how many were con- 
verted could not be definitelv ascertained. 
One hundred sixty-one members were added 
to the United Brethren Church, besides 
those that joined the other churches of the 
town. 

There was an appointment some few miles 
from Dogtown named Liberty. It was prac- 
tically dead as a church, there being but 
five names on the roll, and they represented 
very little in spiritual assets. He began a 
revival campaign here immediately follow- 
ing the meeting in town, which proved even 
more far-reaching in its results. He has al- 
ways regarded it as the most remarkable 
revival in his entire ministry. The power 
of God in the conviction of sinners was ir- 
resistible. Strong men and women were 
stricken unconscious in almost every serv- 
ice. As many as fifty persons could be 
counted lying in an unconscious condition 
at one time. 

A peculiar feature of this revival was the 
presence of that strange, nervous phenome- 
non among the people, known as the "jerks." 
This strange manifestation prevailed in 
many of the early revivals where unusual 

12! 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

power was displayed. It was especially 
prevalent in what is known as the great 
Cumberland revival which swept over the 
eastern part of Kentucky and Tennessee. 
Whatever the explanation of this phenom- 
enon, it usually accompanied a deep emo- 
tional state, saints and sinners alike being 
subject to it. The mystery of it and the fact 
that it often became quite violent, especially 
on persons who resisted the influence of the 
meetings, gave it much weight in these early 
revivals. Peter Cartwright, in his well- 
known autobiography, describes the physi- 
cal effects of the jerks as follows : 

"No matter whether they were saints or 
sinners, they would be taken under a warm 
song or sermon, and seized with a convul- 
sive jerking all over, which they could not 
by any possibility avoid, aud the more they 
resisted, the more they jerked. If they 
would not strive against it and would pray 
in good earnest, the jerking would usually 
abate. I have seen more than five hundred 
persons jerking at one time in any large 
congregation. Most usually persons taken 
with the jerks, to obtain relief, would rise 
up and dance. Some would run but could 
not get awa}-. Some would resist ; on such 
the jerks were usually very severe," 

12? 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

The meeting was accompanied by a vari- 
ety of spiritual demonstrations, remarkable 
both in their character and extent. It was 
entirely beyond human control. It contin- 
ued four months, day and night. Most of 
the time there was no preaching, for there 
was no opportunity for a sermon, and none 
was needed. The people would gather, sing- 
ing and shouting as they came, and the sing- 
ing, shouting, and praying would continue 
spontaneously. Penitents would go to the 
altar without an invitation, often as soon as 
they arrived. 

The entire community was charged with 
a peculiar spiritual atmosphere, the limit of 
which seemed distinctly drawn. It was 
termed the "dead line." On reaching this 
line the individual, whether a Christian or 
not, would at once be seized with intense 
religious emotion. On passing out of this 
region the change was as distinctly felt as 
on entering it. 

So great was the interest in the surround- 
ing country that six schools were closed. 
One teacher sent to the church for help. 
Some brethren went to see what was the 
matter, and found the entire school practi- 
cally prostrate with conviction. School was 
turned into prayer meeting. A number, in- 

123 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

eluding the teacher, were converted, and 
school was indefinitely suspended. 

The pulpit and platform were smashed 
into kindling wood at one of the services. 
People performed physical feats utterly 
impossible under ordinary circumstances, 
such as walking across the house on the 
backs of the pews with their faces turned 
straight upward. Late one night after the 
service had closed, a family in the neighbor- 
hood heard singing in the direction of the 
church. Not knowing what it meant, they 
investigated. But on approaching the 
church they noticed that the singing was 
overhead as if produced by an invisible 
choir in the upper air. 

Whatever question may enter the mind as 
to the nature of these phenomena, there is 
no question as to the genuineness of the 
work of grace wrought in that section of 
country. It was swept as completely by the 
revival as a prairie is swept by fire. And 
the effects were abiding, even the more ex- 
traordinary forms of spiritual fervor con- 
tinuing indefinitely. 

This was a season of strenuous physical 
activity on the part of Rev. Mr. Newgent. 
This meeting lasted four months, and for 
three months in addition he was in revival 
meetings continuously. 

124 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

From being the worst circuit in the con- 
ference, Dogtown suddenly became the best. 
It reported the largest salary. And that 
year it led the entire denomination in the 
number of church papers taken. Prizes 
were offered by the publisher for the largest 
club in any conference, and also a sweep- 
stakes prize for the largest club in the 
Church. Newgent Avon both the conference 
and the sweepstakes prize, which was the 
more remarkable when Ave recall that there 
was not a paper taken on the charge when 
he was appointed to it. 

Near the close of his memorable meeting 
at Dogtown, he announced that he would 
take a missionarv offering the following 
Sunday, and urged the people to come pre- 
pared. The missionary meeting was full of 
enthusiasm, as all his meetings were when 
a collection was involved. As he was ex- 
horting the congregation to give freely to 
send the gospel to the heathen, the door 
opened and a. boy bearing in his arms a large 
rooster came walking down the aisle. As an 
evidence that the old-time Dogtown spirit 
was not wholly dead, some mischievous fel- 
lows planned to have some fun at the 
preacher's expense by putting a. rooster in 
the missionary collection. The bird was not 
only large, but also quite game, and was 

125 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

almost too much for the lad who was to 
do the presentation act in behalf of the 
gang. As he proceeded toward the pulpit, 
his courage began to fail and he hesitated, 
possibly waiting to see what sort of effect 
he was producing. The preacher took in 
the situation at a glance. 

"Come on," he said to the half-frightened 
lad, "I'm the fellow who likes chicken." 

With this encouragement the boy went 
forward and placed his gift in the hands of 
the preacher, who received it smilingly and 
thanked him for his generous contribution 
to the missionary cause. He asked one of 
the brethren in the "amen corner" to care 
for his charge while he finished the service. 
He kept the rooster until fall and took it 
to the annual conference. In presenting his 
report, he related the incident and asked in 
a jocular vein what should be done with the 
rooster. A dignified, sober-minded brother 
moved that the rooster be sold and the pro- 
ceeds be reported to the missionary fund, 
and that the undignified proceedings be 
closed. The motion carried. 

"All right," said the wiley Irishman, as- 
suming the pose of an auctioneer, "how 
much am I offered for the rooster? How 
much do I hear? How much?" Some one 
ventured a bid. "Sold," said the preacher- 

126 




A Unique Missionary Ottering 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

auctioneer amid a roar of laughter, and the 
conference proceeded to more serious mat- 
ters. 

It was on this charge that he had his first 
debate. His popularity and success in win- 
ning converts led to a challenge from a 
brother in the Christian (Disciples) church, 
who was then serving as pastor at Charles- 
town, Illinois. The question discussed was 
the divinity of Christ. Newgent took the 
positive position, affirming that "Christ is 
the very and eternal God apart from his 
human nature." The debate was held at 
Salisbury, Illinois, creating a great deal of 
interest and attracting a large crowd. That 
the contest resulted in an easy victory for 
our subject was attested by the fact that he 
received an offer from the elders of his op- 
ponent's church of fifteen hundred dollars 
a year to become their pastor, which, at that 
time, was considered an enormous sum. 

"I would not preach your doctrine for 
fifteen hundred dollars a year," he said, "to 
say nothing of losing my time and self- 
respect." 

"We are not asking you to preach the doc- 
trine," they said, "all we ask is that you 
become our pastor; you are at liberty to 
preach your own convictions.'' But he was 
not on the market. 

127 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

Another interesting' experience during 
this pastorate came as the sequel to a horse 
trade. One of his neighbors, a brother in 
the Church, coveted his fine driving horse, 
and bantered him for a trade. "I have the 
very horse you need," he urged, and offered 
what seemed to be a fair bargain. And 
after the usual ceremonies and prelim- 
inaries, the deal was pulled off. 

The next day being Sunday, the pastor 
hitched up his new horse early, and taking 
his wife and babe, started for his appoint- 
ment. The animal soon showed signs of 
treachery, arousing the suspicions of its 
owner, but they went on. They got on quite 
well until they came to a low swale in the 
road over which the water stood several in- 
ches deep. When they were about half- 
way across, the horse stopped and looked 
back to see if they were coming. But they 
had also stopped. Newgent, who had some 
knowledge of "korseology," saw that they 
were in for it. It being a warm, summer 
day, an innumerable multitude of mosqui- 
toes soon collected to express their sympa- 
thy and to divert the attention of the un- 
fortunate family from their troubles. 

"Here's a chance to show that we can 
keep sweet," said the preacher to his wife, 
"even under trying circumstances." 

128 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

The circumstances were indeed trying, 
for he spent a couple of hours trying to 
argue the horse out of his position, but the 
horse was not open to conviction. At the 
same time he was making a desperate effort 
to keep sweet, which, with the mosquitoes 
diligently plying their trade — as it was too 
good a business opportunity for them to let 
pass — and the hour for the morning serv- 
ice passing, was not as easy a task as it 
would have been under less trying circum- 
stances. 

"Well," he finally said to his wife, sweetly, 
"we are going out of here." 

"When?" was her meek reply. 
"Just as soon as possible." And remov- 
ing his boots and some other parts of wear- 
ing apparel that could be temporarily dis- 
pensed with, he got out of the buggy and 
carried the baby to a dry place. He then 
removed his wife to the shore, after which 
he proceeded to unhitch the horse from the 
buggy, or rather to unhitch the buggy from 
the horse, as the buggy was movable and the 
horse was not. A strategic plan was then 
inaugurated by making a, natural appeal to 
the animal's stubbornness. This was done 
by hitching the horse to the rear axle-tree of 
the buggy, which proved a, decided success, 
at least to the extent of getting both the 

129 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

horse and buggy out of the water. Newgont 
then hitched up according to the conven- 
tional style, and with his family started 
homeward in deep meditation. He filled no 
appointment that day. He found it difficult 
to see the point in his neighbor's argument 
that "this was the very horse he needed," 
unless it was to stimulate the grace of pa- 
tience, which is a much-needed quality in a 
preacher. Since then he has stoutly main- 
tained that it is a bad thing for a preacher 
to swap horses — unless he is sure he can 
make a better trade. 



131) 



Chapter Nine. 

Labors at Mattoon, Illinois — A Persistent Campaign 
and a Great Victory — Second Neiv Goshen Pas- 
torate — A Coincidence — Success at Prairieton — 
Laboring in the Shadow — The Death of Mrs. 
Newgent — A Bishop's Tribute to her Character. 

The scene of his next labors was Mattoon, 
Illinois. This was a city of some ten thou- 
sand inhabitants. It had been marked by 
a mushroom growth, having sprung from a 
small village within a, few years. More at- 
tention, however, had been given to its ma- 
terial development than to its moral and re- 
ligious welfare. It had eleven churches, but 
what members thev had, were received 
mostly by letter. Like the city itself, the 
churches were made up of a conglomeration 
of heterogeneous elements. All were lack- 
ing in efficient organization, stability, and 
vital godliness. 

Rev. Mr. Newgent's church, the United 
Brethren, like most of the others, was new 
in the city. It had but twelve members 
when he took charge. He at once conceived 
the idea of enlisting the various churches in 
a great and much-needed revival campaign. 
He met the local pastors and proposed that 
all join in a concerted, evangelistic effort — 

131 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

each to begiu a meeting in his own church 
on the same date and continue until victory 
was achieved. The plan was unanimously 
agreed to, and on New Year's Day the cam- 
paign began. 

It was a stubborn right. The bombard- 
ment was kept up by all the churches 
through the entire month of January with 
no apparent results. One after another of 
the pastors then became discouraged and 
hauled down his colors. By the end of Feb- 
ruary all the batteries had ceased except 
two, one of them being Newgent's. Some of 
his members, convinced of the utter futility 
of the effort, counseled him to quit. But he 
was determined to fight it out on that line 
if it took all summer; and it looked as 
though it might take several summers. The 
largest congregation he had during those 
two months numbered twenty-four. 

With the beginning of the third month 
there were unmistakable evidences of a 
thaw. Interest was awakened, congrega- 
tions increased, and on the fifth day of 
March the ice gave way completely. At the 
morning service the altar was crowded with 
anxious penitents, and twenty-one were gra- 
ciously converted. The news was heralded 
throughout the city. It was as though a 
mighty miracle had been wrought. New- 

132 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

gent's church became the center of intense 
interest, the subject of conversation in the 
stores and shops and on the streets. At 
night it seemed as if all Mattoon was seized 
with a, sudden impulse to go to church. The 
house was filled long before the appointed 
hour for worship, and the sexton reported 
that over five hundred people were turned 
away. The few days following witnessed 
stirring scenes in that church. Multitudes 
were converted ; no definite account could 
be taken of their number. One hundred and 
twenty-eight members were added to the 
United Brethren Church, and other churches 
of the city profited largely from the fruits 
of the meeting. It was the first genuine 
revival Mattoon had ever enjoyed. 

"What I lacked in sense, I made up in 
holding on," was Rev. Mr. Newgent's modest 
comment on the situation. But in this case 
holding on was only in keeping with his 
usual good judgment. It was a case where 
not only prayer and fasting, but also perse- 
verance were required. Perseverance, how- 
ever, is one of his strong points. As a pas- 
tor he made it a rule to continue a meeting 
until success was realized, a rule that sel- 
dom had to be waived. 

His labors at Mattoon Mere followed bv 
a pastorate of two years on the New Goshen 

133 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

charge, making, with a former pastorate of 
the same length, an aggregate of four years 
of pastoral services on this field. During 
these four vears he received over six hun- 
dred members into the Church and built two 
church-houses. His work here was also 
made memorable by what might be termed 
his first great debate, the details of which 
are reserved for the next chapter. 

The vear following was a dark vear in 
his experience, made so by the failure of his 
wife's health, which resulted in her death. 
He was serving the Prairieton charge, a 
charge he had served some years before. 
His labors here were attended by the usual 
success — gracious revivals, increased spir- 
itual life and activity, churches thrilled with 
new zeal and power. A coincidence worth 
noting in this connection is that his two 
terms of service on this field resulted in an 
equal number of accessions to the Church, 
203 in each case. "I do not think," he 
quaintly remarked concerning his second 
pastorate, "that these were the same 203 
that I received when I was there before." 
The sorry experiences of many pastors with 
vacillating church members occasioned and 
justified the remark. 

A great meeting at Prairieton stirred up 
the congregation and led to the rebuilding 

134 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

of their church. It was, however, a great 
struggle. The church was not strong finan- 
cially, and the task almost overtaxed their 
resources. Rev. Mr. Newgent labored un- 
ceasingly to pull the enterprise through to a 
successful consummation, contributing of 
his own scanty means over three hundred 
dollars, which necessitated the selling of 
some of his household goods. 

And now, to add to his already heavy bur- 
dens, came that which for some time had 
been recognized as inevitable, and under 
the deep shadow of which he had been labor- 
ing with a heavy heart — the death of his 
companion. "Kitty" Newgent, as she was 
affectionately called by her husband and in- 
timate friends, was never strong in body, 
and for many months she had lingered near 
the land of shadows. On the day set for 
the dedication of the church, for the success 
of which they both prayed and toiled and 
struggled so heroically, she passed triumph- 
antly to her heavenly home. "Her sun went 
down while it was yet day." 

She died about eight o'clock in the morn- 
ing. Bishop Jonathan Weaver, who had 
been secured to dedicate the church, was on 
the ground for that purpose. When it was 
learned that the pastor's wife had passed 
away, the Bishop and members of the 

135 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

church suggested that the dedicatory serv- 
ices be postponed. But as she had helped 
to plau the day's program, and was so anx- 
ious for the success of the occasion, Rev. 
Mr. Newgent urged that the plans be car- 
ried out. So the program of the day was 
carried out tenderly and lovingly, the 
church set apart to the worship of Almighty 
God, while he and his three motherless lit- 
tle ones remained in their sad home by the 
silent form of the precious wife and mother. 
Bishop Weaver remained to conduct her 
funeral. The following account and worthy 
tribute from his gifted pen was published 
at the time in the Religious Telescope, the 
official organ of the United Brethren 
Church : 

"Some time ago I arranged with Brother 
Newgent of the Prairieton Circuit, Lower 
Wabash Conference, to attend the dedica- 
tion of a church on his field of labor. Ac- 
cordingly I left home on Saturday, June 13, 
and reached Prairieton late in the evening. 
Upon my arrival there I learned that 
Brother Newgent's wife was very ill; yet I 
supposed she might recover. Sunday morn- 
ing the bell tolled and I knew that some one 
had passed away. I immediately started for 
Brother Newgent's home, and on reaching 
it learned that his wife had just died. It 

136 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

was, indeed, a sad sight. For seventeen years 
they had shared the sacrifices and trials in- 
cident, to the life of an itinerant. Now he 
was left with the care of three little children 
to fight the battles of life alone. Brother 
Newgent, as he is wont to do, labored hard 
to get the church in readiness for dedica- 
tion, anticipating a good time. But it was 
a sad day. We attended to the service and 
dedicated the church with feelings of deep 
sympathy for the pastor, who, with his lit- 
tle ones, sat beside the earthly remains of 
a beloved wife. 

"Sister Newgent was a patient, kind- 
hearted Christian woman. She had been in 
delicate health for a number of years, but 
neither murmured nor complained. And 
when the end came, she quietly fell asleep 
in Jesus. On account of her delicate health, 
Brother Newgent, for a number of years, 
seldom remained away from home over 
night. He would fill his appointment and 
ride home after services. But no matter 
how late at night he would return, he would 
always find a light burning, and usually 
she would sit up until he returned. But the 
light is gone out — no, it is burning still. 
'There's a light in the window for thee, 
brother.' " 



137 



Chapter Ten. 

First Great Debate — The Debate as an Institution — 
The Challenge — Opponents get Weak-Kneed, Pro- 
longing Maneuvers — A Hungry Multitude Unfed 
— Battle Begins — Questions Discussed — An Im- 
provised Creed for his Opponent — A Premature 
Baptism — An Opponent's Tribute to his Genius — 
Crowning the Victor. 

In the earlier days of the church great 
stress was laid upon matters of doctrine. 
Mooted theological questions occasioned 
much controversy among the "brethren." 
Preachers gave special attention to the par- 
ticular tenets of their respective churches, 
often decrying with heavy hearts the doc- 
trinal shortcomings of sister denominations. 
While this was a fault of the times which 
a broader Christian spirit is overcoming, yet 
it had its compensating features. In an age 
of controversy it became every man to have 
some knowledge, not only of his own church, 
but also of other churches. It is a fact that 
people generally were better informed on 
doctrinal lines than in these latter days 
when the church is swinging so near the op- 
posite extreme. The doctrinal sermon was 
then the order of the day, while now it is 
the rare exception. 

The public debate was a popular means 
of testing the merits of rival religious sys- 

138 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

terns, though in reality it was more a test 
of the men engaged than of their theology. 
Nor was the debate confined to matters re- 
ligious. Its field was unlimited. In pol- 
itics it was a favorite method of testing 
political issues and leaders, and of spread- 
ing political information. The great Lin- 
coln-Douglas debate is a notable instance. 
Hence, while it has lost prestige somewhat, 
the debate once was an honorable and 
powerful institution. The victor in such 
a contest was regarded much as the ancient 
Greeks regarded the winners in the Olym- 
pian games. And he was greatly in demand 
to defend the doctrines of his church against 
their adversaries. Every pastor needed to 
cultivate the debating faculty to some ex- 
tent, at least, for self -protection, just as it 
was necessary for the early New Englanders 
to carry their guns with them to church. 

It was during Rev. Mr. Newgent's second 
pastorate at New Goshen that he had his 
first great debate, and was thrust by force of 
circumstances into the debating arena. 
Among his numerous converts were a large 
number who held the faith enunciated bv 
the Rev. Alexander Campbell, and com- 
monly designated as "Campbellites." This 
stirred the controversial fires, and in conse- 
quence he received a challenge from mem- 

139 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

hers of that body to debate publicly certain 
questions on which the two churches were, 
perhaps, more content to differ than to 
agree. 

He was quite content to promulgate his 
faith in the ordinary wav, feeling that the 
results of his work were sufficient proof of 
the genuineness of his theology. Hence, he 
sought to avoid being pressed into this sort 
of contest, even proposing to secure a man 
to represent his church. But they regarded 
him as the high priest of his profession, and 
as they had suffered at his hands, they de- 
manded that he represent his side in per- 
son. Seeing there was no honorable way of 
escape, he reluctantly consented, and pre- 
liminaries were arranged. 

His opponent was a Rev. Mr. Price. The 
place selected was a beautiful grove near 
the village of West Liberty, Vigo County, 
Indiana. A vast throng of people were 
present the day the debate was to open. But 
they were doomed to disappointment. Just 
as they were getting ready to begin, repre- 
sentatives from the opposition approached 
Rev. Mr. Newgent and asked if they might 
be permitted to let the Rev. William Holt, 
D.D., champion their side instead of Mr. 
Price. Doctor Holt was a recognized giant 
among the Campbellites, He was a veteran 

140 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

of thirty-two battles in the debating field, 
and was one of the foremost expounders of 
the tenets of his church. 

Whether or not it was the wish of Mr. 
Price to be relieved, it was quite evident 
that there was a lack of confidence some- 
where. At any rate the opposition felt 
more secure with their cause committed to 
the hands of their great captain, armed, as 
he was, with education and eloquence, and 
skilled in the art and science of debate. All 
felt that it was to be a great contest, sig- 
nificant in its results, and that no chances 
should be taken. 

Rev. Mr. Newgent consented to the 
change on condition that the debate be post- 
poned a couple of months to afford time for 
further preparation. The condition was 
accepted, and the multitudes were sent away 
hungry, disappointed, and dejected. The 
responsibilty was thrown upon the Canip- 
bellites, as their unwillingness to let Mr. 
Price champion their side was the cause of 
the postponement. For the Irish circuit 
rider it was a diplomatic stroke, a bloodless 
victory to begin with. 

The two months were well spent by Rev. 
Mr. Newgent in preparation for this greater 
contest. The delay only seemed to increase 
popular interest in the affair; and when 

141 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

they again met, the crowd was even larger 
than before. The discussions consumed 
eleven days. However, the time was divided 
into two sections with an intervening period 
of four or five weeks. It was estimated 
that from eight thousand to ten thousand 
people attended daily throughout, among 
them being a large number of ministers of 
various denominations. Six boarding tents 
did a thriving business. In fact, the debate 
was the great event of the year. A political 
campaign could not have created more in- 
terest and excitement. 

The discussions covered six propositions, 
as follows : 

1. The church of which I, William Holt, 
am a member, is identical in doctrine and 
practice with the Church of Christ, as re- 
vealed in the Scriptures. Holt affirmed. 

2. Jesus Christ is the very and eternal 
God, separate and apart from his human 
nature. Newgent affirmed. 

3. Water baptism is for the remission of 
the past sins of the penitent believer. Holt 
affirmed. 

4. The Holy Spirit bears a direct, imme- 
diate, and personal testimony to the believer 
of his pardon. Newgent affirmed. 

5. Immersion is the only act of Christian 
baptism. Holt affirmed. 

142 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

6. After a person is sufficiently in- 
structed in the written Word, the Holy 
Spirit operates directly upon the heart in 
regeneration. Newgent affirmed. 

In most respects the two men were well 
matched. Holt was a man of scholarship, 
a deep, logical thinker, aud possessed ora- 
torical ability of a high order, which, with 
the practice afforded by thirty-two debating 
bouts, rendered him an antagonist not to be 
despised. Newgent, then in his prime, pos- 
sessed a splendid physique, a strong, musi- 
cal voice that seemed never to tire, which 
was especially adapted for out-door speak- 
ing. Though not a product of the schools, 
as was his opponent, his mind was strong, 
clear, and alert. He was ever a close stu- 
dent, not only of books, but of human na- 
ture. He could readily analyze a proposi- 
tion as much by intuition as by logic, and 
discern at a glance the weak places in his 
opponent's position. His wit aud humor 
served him well in such matters. When he 
turned the shafts of ridicule upon a weak 
point in the position of an opponent, it was 
as though all the batteries, field pieces, 
grape and canister, and every other instru- 
ment of destructive warfare had been turned 
loose at once. As there were none of the 
scholastic or bookish elements in his style, 

143 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

he invariably had the sympathy of the 
masses. 

Doctor Holt made the opening address, 
affirming that his was the only true church 
— "identical in doctrine and practice with 
the Church of Christ as revealed in the 
Scriptures." He referred to various doc- 
trines held by his church and supported 
them by Scriptural authority. In most 
cases they were doctrines accepted by all 
evangelical churches, affording no ground 
for controversy. The address was eloquent 
and logical. ■ 

When Newgent arose to reply, lie com- 
plimented the brother's address and ex- 
pressed his approval of much that was said. 
"But now, Mr. Moderator," he continued, "I 
would like to know what church my brother 
belongs to when he asserts that they believe 
thus and so. He frequently referred to 'My 
church.' If he belongs to a church, how are 
we to know, in the absence of a written 
creed, what the doctrines of his church are? 
Shall we take his statements? That would 
not be safe, for I find that they differ among 
themselves on various important points. 

"According to Mr. Webster, he has no 
church. Webster savs, 'The Church of 
Christ is the universal body of Christ.' Paul 
speaks of the 'whole family in heaven and 

144 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

earth.' All saints in heaven and on earth 
belong to the Church of Christ. This in- 
eludes the children. When the disciples 
asked Jesus who was greatest in the king- 
dom of heaven, he 'called a little child unto 
him and set him in the midst of them, and 
said, Verily, I say unto you, except ye be 
converted and become as little children, ye 
shall not enter into the kingdom of heav- 
en.' 

"Hence, his church is not THE Church of 
Christ, neither is it A church of Christ, 
Again, according to Webster, 'A church of 
Christ is a body of Christian believers, ob- 
serving the same rites and acknowledging 
the same ecclesiastical authority.' It denies 
all creeds and all ecclesiastical authority. 
Hence, it cannot be A church of Christ." 

He then appealed to the president, urging 
that, in the absence of a written creed, they 
should take the writings of their recognized 
church leaders to ascertain what the doc- 
trines of his opponent's church — granting 
that it was a church — were. The president 
so ruled. It then became the duty of Doctor 
Holt to show that the doctrines indicated 
were the doctrines of his church according 
to the church authorities, and also that they 
were Scripturally sound; and furthermore 
to prove that other doctrines promulgated 

145 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

by the church leaders, which he had not 

mentioned, were in strict harmony with the 
Word. 

This opened up a bigger field than even 
the great high priest of Campbellism was 
prepared to occupy. Newgent was as famil- 
iar with the teachings of his opponent's 
church as Doctor Holt was himself, and had 
foreseen and prepared for this emergency. 

"I knew you would not be prepared for 
this, so I thought I would be good to you," 
he said in a manner suggesting a cat's habit 
of playing with a mouse just before crush- 
ing its bones, "I have, therefore, prepared a 
creed from the writings of Mr. Campbell 
and other leaders of your church, which will 
enable us to ascertain what your church 
teaches." 

He then read the following improvised 
creed, the different, items of which were 
based upon statements cited in the writings 
of recognized authorities of the church Doc- 
tor Holt was so zealously defending: 

I. We profess before all men that we be- 
lieve in water baptism b} r immersion ; that 
it is the great panacea for all spiritual mal- 
adies. 

II. Immersion is the line between the 
saved and the lost. 

146 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

III. Immersion is regeneration, con- 
version, and the new birth. 

IV. Immersion is obeying the gospel; it 
alone is the act of turning to God. 

V. Repentance, pardon, justification, 
sanctification, reconciliation, adoption, sal- 
vation, a good conscience, a pure heart, love 
to God, saving faith, acceptable prayer, the 
reception of the Holy Spirit, and the in- 
tercession of Christ for us, all depend upon 
immersion. 

VI. Immersion is the converting act, and 
is the most important of all the command- 
ments. 

VII. The water is the mother of all 
Christians. 

VIII. We further believe that the Apos- 
tles set up the kingdom of Christ on the Day 
of Pentecost. 

IX. That the gospel was first preached 
by Peter, that the first Christian baptism 
was administered, and that the reign of 
grace began on the Day of Pentecost. 

X. That the kingdom of Christ has apos- 
tatized and become totally corrupt. 

XI. That the meaning of the Christian 
institutions was lost in the Dark Ages, and 
that no one pleaded the true cause of Christ 
from the great apostasy until Mr. Camp- 
bell's day. 

147 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

XII. That the true foundation of the 
millenial church was lost, and that it was 
laid again in the present century. 

XIII. That we have restored the ancient 
gospel. 

XIV. That Mr. Campbell, with others, 
has from nothing reorganized and estab- 
lished the kingdom of Christ on earth. 

XV. That salvation is alone in the soci- 
ety to which Ave belong, and which was es- 
tablished in the present century. 

XVI. We believe in a reformation pro- 
duced without the Holy Spirit, without 
godly sorrow, or mourning, or prayer, or 
any act of devotion whatever. 

XVII. That a mere persuasion that the 
gospel is true is all the faith required. 

XVIII. That even a believer is not par- 
doned, born of God, or in possession of 
spiritual life until after immersion. 

XIX. That no sinner has a right to pray 
before immersion. 

XX. That in regeneration there is no 
change of the moral powers or inward evi- 
dence of the same. 

XXI. That sinners are buried in the wa- 
ter in order to kill them to sin. 

XXII. That salvation is by works. 

XXIII. We deny the divine call to the 
work of the ministry. 

148 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

The foregoing propositions had been care- 
fully selected with proof statements by Rev. 
Mr. Newgent. To square them by the Word 
of God was a task that even a greater than 
Doctor Holt might well have shrunk from. 
And the opening battle which was to decide 
the question as to whether or not the church 
of Doctor Holt's choice was identical in doc- 
trine and practice with the New Testament 
church resulted in a decided advantage in 
favor of the Irishman. 

Among the amusing incidents connected 
with the occasion was an attempt on the 
part of the Holt allies to create a demon- 
stration favorable to their cause. On the 
day when the subject of baptism was up, a 
rumor came to Newgent's ears that a pre- 
tended convert to his opponent's doctrine 
would present himself for admission to the 
Campbellite Church at the evening service. 
A baptismal service would then be held the 
following morning in a nearby creek in the 
presence of the crowd, affording ocular evi- 
dence that the champion of immersion 
was gaining ground. This, attended with 
all the pomp and display necessary to make 
it impressive, it was expected, would prove 
a staggering blow to Newgent, from which 
even his wit and humor would not enable 
him to rally. 

149 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

He did not give much credence to the 
rumor, scarcely believing that any one 
would resort to such tactics, but thought it 
best to keep at least one eye open. The 
evening services were held in the churches, 
both denominations being represented in the 
village. Each church would have preaching 
by a visiting minister of its own faith. Or- 
dinarily those who cared to attend would 
go to their own church, the champions them- 
selves remaining at home to rest and gird 
themselves for the next day. Newgent, how- 
ever, curious to learn whether there was any 
foundation for the rumor, on that partic- 
ular evening attended the service at his op- 
ponent's church. To his surprise, he saw 
Doctor Holt there. He then smelled a rat. 
At the close of the sermon, Doctor Holt 
arose, delivered a brief exhortation and 
opened the doors of the church. And the 
rat smelled stronger. 

All doubts were dispelled when an old, 
rusty-looking gentleman limped forward 
and gave the preacher his hand. This was 
the convert that the eloquence of Doctnr 
Holt had won to the standard of Campbell- 
ism — an old, decrepit man, by no means dis- 
tinguished for learning or intelligence, who 
had been imported from an adjoining county 
for the occasion ! 

150 




REV. ANDREW JACKSON NEWGENT 
At age of forty 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

The doctor was, of course, glad that one 
penitent was making the "good confession," 
and announced that on to-morrow morning 
at eight o'clock, just before the day's exer- 
cises would begin, they would repair to the 
creek and "baptize the brother into Christ." 

At this juncture Rev. Mr. Newgent arose 
and asked if he might say a few words. The 
permission was granted. "Doctor," he said, 
"I have been taking it for granted that you 
were sincere in advocating that the peni- 
tent's sins were pardoned only in the act 
of baptism. Now, here is a dear brother 
desiring to flee the wrath to come. Suppose 
he should die before eight o'clock to-morrow 
morning, and thus be lost. Who would be 
responsible? He is getting old. Aren't you 
running an awful risk in exposing his soul 
to eternal death until to-morrow? Doctor, 
don't you think it would be safer and more 
consistent to take this brother at once to 
the creek and baptize him into Christ?" 

The doctor admitted that he was right, 
and ordered the candidate to be baptized 
immediately. A small bodyguard took him 
to the creek and reluctantly performed the 
task. Thus evaporated the scheme from 
which the opposition had hoped to reap so 
largely. They did reap largely, but not 
what they expected. In his opening re- 

151 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

marks the next morning, Newgent recited 
with dramatic effect the story of the ex- 
ploded plot, taking ample time to do it 
justice. The story was told with many a 
humorous and oratorical flourish, produc- 
ing roar after roar of laughter from the 
great audience. The house thus built upon 
the sand fell upon the heads of the unwise 
builders with most disastrous effect. 

As an illustration of his peculiar power 
over the minds of his hearers, the following 
tribute from a, titled minister of the Camp- 
bell faith will serve well. He was taking 
his usual rest during the noon intermission, 
when the reverend gentleman who wore a 
D.D. and a silk hat, approached him, and 
after introducing himself, said : 

"Rev. Mr. Newgent, they have told me 
that you attended school but three months 
in your life, and also that this is your first 
debate. I am convinced that in this you 
have been misrepresented. I heard Doctor 
Holt deliver his opening address to-day, and 
I thought no man on earth could answer his 
argument. Rut when you got up to speak, 
you had not proceeded five minutes until 
the people had forgotten all he had said. 
The same was true of the second address, 
and I saw at once that our man was 
beaten." 

152 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

Newgent told him that he had had but 
meager school advantages, In a former 
chapter it is stated that he attended school 
three terms of three months each. But as 
school attendance then was very irregular 
at the best, the gentleman's information was 
not far from the truth. He informed his 
friend, however, that he had always been a 
hard student, and thus had atoned in some 
measure for the meagerness of his school 
advantages. 

"Well," said the doctor of divinity, "I 
expected to remain until the close of the de- 
bate; but I see that our man is fighting a 
losing battle, and I do not care to stay and 
see him defeated." And after a few further 
remarks, he bade Rev. Mr. Newgent a. cour- 
teous good by and left the grounds, not de- 
siring to see the end of a contest that boded 
no good thing for his cause. 

The gentleman's unwilling prophecy was 
fulfilled, no doubt, to a larger degree than 
he himself anticipated. Newgent seemed to 
gain power and momentum to the last. 
When the great contest closed, defeat was 
plainly written upon the countenance of 
every Holt sympathizer, while Newgent was 
showered with compliments and congratu- 
lations from his admiring friends. A dele- 
gation of Baptist brethren, headed by the 

153 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

pastor of the First Baptist Church of Terre 
Haute, rushed forward and placed a ten- 
dollar hat on his head in behalf of that 
denomination. Commendations and sub- 
stantial tokens of approval came from rep- 
resentatives of a number of denominations. 
And the occasion ended pleasantly for all, 
except the number whose theological bias 
was plainly and painfully indicated by their 
crestfallen spirits. 



154 



Chapter Eleven. 

Subsequent Debates — The Oiven Contest — He Gets 
his "Treat" — Opponent's Confession — Dressing 
"Stone" — A Scared Baptist — Invades the Lu- 
theran Ranks — Measures Steel with Doctor In- 
gram — Dissertation on Infant Baptism — Oppo- 
nent's Early Flight — Concludes the Debate Alone 
— The Haw Debate. 

As the preceding chapter has shown, our 
subject was not a debater from choice. He 
was thrust into the debating arena by cir- 
cumstances. His memorable victory over 
Doctor Holt placed his name in big letters 
among the leading debaters of the time, 
creating demands for his services in this 
capacity that could not well be resisted. 
Besides being in constant demand to ex- 
pound and defend the doctrines for which 
he stood, by his own, and other denomina- 
tions of a kindred faith, he figured in some 
thirteen debating bouts, a detailed account 
of which would of itself make a good-sized 
volume. Hence, a few passing references 
to some of these contests, with some char- 
acteristic incidents, is all that will be at- 
tempted here. 

Shortly after the debate with Doctor 
Holt, he received an urgent appeal from 
Rev. James Griffiths of the United Brethren 

155 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

Church at Potomac, Illinois, to come over to 
his Macedonia and help him. Controversy 
between the Christian and United Brethren 
churches of that section was at white heat. 
The Christian Church, under the leadership 
of a Rev. Mr. Owen, was pressing the bat- 
tle to the gates and making things unpleas- 
antly interesting for Eev. Mr. Griffiths, 
who was not of a controversial turn of 
mind. He felt, however, that the safety of 
his cause demanded that his adversaries be 
met upon their own ground with their own 
weapons. His presiding elder, Eev. J. W. 
Nye, joined in the request that Rev. Mr. 
Newgent go to the rescue. 

According^, a debate between Owen and 
Newgent, covering the usual mooted ques- 
tions between the two denominations, was 
arranged. Rev. Mr. Owen was scholarly 
and serious, but utterly lacking in the 
humorous element. His dry logic was no 
match for the fiery eloquence and quick wit 
of his Irish antagonist. Like the bride- 
groom at a wedding, he was a rather incon- 
spicuous figure, except that his part was 
necessary to the carrying out of the pro- 
gram. It was an easy victory for the United 
Brethren and their allies, resulting in a 
cessation of hostilities and a reign of peace 
in that section of Zion. 

156 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

A more notable contest was that with 
Dr. W. B. F. Treat, then president of Indi- 
ana State University, at Bloomington. Doc- 
tor Treat, as his position would indicate, 
was a man of fine scholarship. He was a 
minister in the Christian Church, zealous 
in the defense of its doctrines, and had won 
many trophies as a debater. 

The preliminary arrangements for this 
debate were made by a couple of ministers, 
one a representative of the Christian 
Church, and the other a United Brethren. 
Newgent and Treat were secured by the two 
churches as their respective champions. 

As the two champions were introduced 
on the occasion of the debate, the following 
bit of repartee was indulged in by Newgent, 
who had been suffering from some slight 
temporary ailment : "I am sorry you are not 
in good trim," said Doctor Treat, "I had 
hoped to find a man who would be able to 
put up a good fight." 

"Oh," said Newgent, "I think I'll feel bet- 
ter when I get my Treat." 

In his opening remarks, Doctor Treat 
again indulged in some pleasantry at New- 
gent's expense. He referred to his oppo- 
nent as having been born in Green County 
and cradled in a sugar trough. Newgent re- 
plied that he had missed it four miles as to 

157 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

the place of his birth. The sugar trough 
part of it, however, he did not deny; but as 
the trough had served well to cradle the dif- 
ferent members of his mother's small family 
of nine children, he was quite sure the rude 
cradle suffered no violence at his hands. 

The learned doctor further tried to dis- 
count the scholarship of his opponent by 
referring to a postal card received from him 
on which there were two words misspelled. 
To this Newgent also had an answer. 
"Great speakers," said he, "are usually de- 
ficient in other lines. I now understand 
why the doctor is short on debating ; all his 
strength has gone into his spelling." 

The usual questions were discussed, six 
in number, the same as in the great Holt 
debate. The arguments were listened to by 
thousands of interested and enthusiastic 
spectators, among them ministers and dig- 
nitaries of various denominations, and per- 
sons of prominence in educational, political, 
and professional circles. As to the result of 
the contest, Doctor Treat's own confession, 
as brought out in the following incident, 
will suffice: 

A debate between Newgent and a Rev. 
Dr. J. W. Stone, of St. Louis, Missouri, also 
a minister of prominence in the Christian 
Church, was scheduled to take place a few 

158 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

weeks later. In the meantime Doctor 
Stone, anxious to learn all he could con- 
cerning; his opponent, sought an interview 
with Doctor Treat. He met him at a church 
dedication at which Treat was officiating. 
The two men, with others, were entertained 
for dinner at the same home after the morn- 
ing service. At an opportune time, Doctor 
Stone introduced the subject in which he 
was especially interested, and the following 
conversation between the two men took 
place, being overheard and reported to New- 
gent by a gentleman who leaned toward his 
side of the question : 

"Are you acquainted with a United 
Brethren preacher in Indiana of the name 
of Newgent?" Doctor Stone inquired. 

"I am,'' was President Treat's answer. 

"Did you not debate with him some time 
ago?" 

"I did." 

"Is he a scholar?" 

"I do not know." 

"Is he logical?" 

"I cannot tell. He claimed that he went 
to school only a few months." 

"How long did you debate with him?" 

"Six days'." 

"What?" said Doctor Stone in astonish- 
ment, "You debated with him six days, and 

159 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

could not tell whether or not he is edu- 
cated?" 

"Well/' continued the university presi- 
dent, in a meditative mood, "1 will say that 
he is — forceful." 

Doctor Stone looked blank for a moment, 
and then ventured with a smile, "May be 
he whipped you?" 

"I don't know," was the guarded answer, 
"but I am inclined to believe that my peo- 
ple thought he did." Observing that Stone 
was intensely interested, Treat inquired : 

"Are you thinking of debating with 
him?" 

Stone answered in the affirmative. 

"Can't you get out of it in some honorable 
way?" 

Stone replied that he was not wanting 
"out of it." 

"But you may want out of it," was Treat's 
not very assuring reply. 

"Why, is he not fair in debate? Is he not 
a gentleman?" 

"Yes," answered Treat, "so much so that 
all your people who know him love to be 
with him and hear him talk." And the 
conversation drifted into other channels. 
But Doctor Stone, being from Missouri, 
waited to be shown. And the debate was 
held according to schedule. 

160 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

About this time Doctor Stone was enjoy- 
ing no small degree of notoriety. He had 
debated with a Methodist minister in south- 
ern Illinois, and so completely mastered 
him that he acknowledged his defeat in 
sack cloth and ashes, and joined the Chris- 
tian Church. Stone was taking advantage 
of his newly-acquired popularity in waging 
a relentless war against the "sects," as he 
termed them, when some of the Pedo-Bap- 
tists secured Newgent to meet him in de- 
bate. And the challenge was brought to the 
great, self-important Doctor Stone. 

"Newgent!" said this supposed Goliath 
with a contemptuous sneer. "He can't de- 
bate. He's an Irish peddler who used to sell 
table-cloths in my father's neighborhood." 
The committee informed him that they were 
willing to risk their case with the Irish ped- 
dler. However, Stone's visit to Doctor 
Treat to get information concerning the 
Irishman would indicate that his contempt 
was more feigned than real. 

The debate was held in a small town in 
southern Illinois, where the doctor had been 
making havoc of the "sects." The table- 
cloth story became current, and much spec- 
ulation was indulged in concerning the sup- 
posed vender of household commodities. 
His coming to the village was awaited with 

161 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

intense interest. When the train on which 
he was scheduled to arrive pulled in at the 
station, a curious and enthusiastic crowd 
was waiting to get a view of the man who 
dared to dispute the wisdom of Doctor 
Stone. As he stepped from the car, a gen- 
tleman who knew him said, pointing him 
out, "There's the table-cloth peddler." 

A hearty salute was given by the crowd. 
Newgent, having been apprised of the story, 
was equal to the occasion. As soon as the 
hnbhub ceased, he addressed the crowd, 
turning the table-cloth story against his 
opponent in the following speech : 

"Gentlemen, if you have come «here to 
buy table-cloths, you will be disappointed. 
I have changed my occupation. I have been 
informed that there is some fine stone in 
southern Illinois, so I have come down here 
to set up my shop and spend a few days 
dressing Stone." 

The "Stone dressing" joke superseded the 
table-cloth story and became a catch phrase 
throughout the debate. 

It is likely that Stone often called to 
mind the friendly advice of Doctor Treat, 
and regretted that he did not take it. He 
could cope neither with the argument, the 
quick wit, nor the physical endurance of his 
opponent. ITis voice failed completely, and 

162 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

the last two addresses of Newgent were un- 
answered. The Stone-dressing business 
proved eminently successful. 

An amusing incident occurred in connec- 
tion with a debate in Kentucky with a 
Doctor Fairchilds, an eminent Baptist min- 
ister. A story came to the ears of Doctor 
Fairchilds after he came on the ground, to 
the effect that Newgent was a man of extra- 
ordinary scholarship, that he was master 
of some thirteen languages, etc. The doc- 
tor was visibly disconcerted by the story, 
and after hearing Newgent's first address, 
was fully persuaded that it was true, espe- 
cially the part relating to the thirteen lan- 
guages. He was quite nervous, and utterly 
broke down about the middle of the pro- 
gram, leaving the supposed master of thir- 
teen languages easily master of the situ- 
ation. 

While on his official rounds as superin- 
tendent of the Tennessee Mission Confer- 
ence, he once chanced to invade a Lutheran 
community, which set in motion a train of 
influences that terminated in a debate with 
a representative of that body. This was 
about eight miles from Greenville. He was 
visiting a United Brethren family that had 
moved into the community, and in company 
with his host, called at the district school, 

163 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

and made a. talk to the pupils. Through the 
influence of his host, the school house was 
secured for a preaching service that even- 
ing. Other influences then began to be felt, 
and the meeting was continued indefinitely, 
resulting in a sweeping revival, the organ- 
ization of a United Brethren church, and 
the building and dedication of a church- 
house within two months from the close of 
the revival. 

This occasioned great concern among the 
Lutherans who lost quite heavily as a re- 
sult of the United Brethren invasion. To 
regain their lost ground, they challenged 
Rev. Mr. Newgent to debate certain doc- 
trinal questions with a representative of 
their church. Newgent was then in his ele- 
ment, in the debate, and answered that he 
would be ready at any time to accommodate 
them. 

The Lutheran champion was Dr. J. C. 
Miller, president of one of their church 
schools. The much-mooted question as to 
what body constituted the true church was 
the first taken up, Doctor Miller posing as 
the representative of a church whose doc- 
trines and usages are identical with those 
taught and exemplified in the New Testa- 
ment. 

164 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

This placed upon Miller the Herculean 
task of defending the various tenets and 
practices peculiar to his church. Among 
other specimens of Lutheran creed, New- 
gent read the following: "The infant's heart 
is corrupt, and it cannot be saved unless 
baptized by a Lutheran minister with heav- 
enly, gracious water." When asked if his 
church taught that, Doctor Miller admitted 
that it did. 

Newgent showed this bit of dogma up in 
a bad light by the use of an object lesson. 
Borrowing a baby from a mother in the 
audience, beheld it upbefore the crowd, stat- 
ing that the "little rascal's" heart is corrupt 
and its only chance for salvation was by 
being baptized according to the Lutheran 
formula. "Now," he continued, "I want 
this brother to demonstrate to this audi- 
ence how a baby must be saved. I want 
him to change this baby's heart from a state 
of corruption to a state of purity. I want 
to see how a baby is saved, for, according to 
his theology. I have three babies in hell." 

The brother winced under this outburst 
of sarcasm. He refused to baptize the child, 
which, had he done so under the circum- 
stances, would scarcely have made his doc- 
trine appear less obnoxious. Other peculiar 
Lutheran tenets appeared to the same disad- 

165 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

vantage under similar treatment, and the 
church's hope of gaining its lost ground 
completely vanished. The debate popular- 
ized the United Brethren Church, giving it 
a strong hold in the community. Flag 
Branch, a flourishing rural church, stands 
as a monument to Rev. Mr. Newgent's la- 
bors in that section. 

Another contest worthy of special note 
was with a Baptist minister at Blue 
Springs, Tennessee, in 1882. The mode of 
baptism was a live question throughout 
that region. The battle line was drawn by 
the Baptists and Pedo-Baptists. They 
finally agreed to have the question discussed 
in a public debate, each side to furnish its 
champion. Three churches were repre- 
sented on the immersion side, and seven on 
the other. The immersionists secured as 
their representative, Doctor Ingram, a 
prominent Baptist divine of Virginia. New- 
gent was selected by the anti-immersionists. 
The debate was to cover six propositions 
and to continue six days, one subject being 
slated for each day. 

The Baptists were very desirous of includ- 
ing infant baptism in the list of subjects to 
be discussed. This was a question that 
Newgent had never debated, and in which 
he had very little interest. But to acomino- 

166 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

date the Baptists, he consented to defend 
the practice of infant baptism. His oppo- 
nent proposed the question, stating it as 
follows : "Resolved, That infants are fit sub- 
jects for baptism." Newgent consented to 
affirm it. 

It was slated for the second day. In his 
opening remarks, Newgent said : "Mr. Presi- 
dent, this is a peculiar question; but my 
brother wrote it and insisted that I affirm it. 
It is peculiar from the fact that I am not 
to prove that the child needs baptism, or 
that there is any command for infant bap- 
tism, or that there ever was an infant bap- 
tized. I am simply asked to prove that a 
child is a fit subject for baptism." 

At these remarks a storm of protest arose 
from the immersionists. They expected him 
to defend the vast array of teaching that the 
various Pedo-Baptist bodies had put for- 
ward on the subject. 

"Keep cool," he said to the immersionist 
part of the crowd as they were clamoring 
for a hearing and creating no little con- 
fusion. "Doctor Ingram and I signed these 
papers, and we agreed to be governed by the 
board of moderators. This question simply 
deals with the child's fitness for baptism. 
I appeal to the moderators." The moder- 
ators sustained his position. 

167 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

He then asked his opponent whether or 
not the Baptist Church would baptize a sub- 
ject until he was converted and became as 
a little child. His opponent stated that it 
would not. This gave him a splendid foun- 
dation for his address, and, at the same 
time, removed the last foundation stone 
from under his opponent, so far as infant 
baptism was concerned. He made an earn- 
est and eloquent address, showing that the 
child is a type of the heavenly citizen, and 
as such possesses special fitness for all the 
sacraments of God's house. 

While he was talking, his attention was 
called to Doctor Ingram. The doctor, grip 
in hand, was making rapid strides toward 
the railroad station. His moderator and 
some friends were accompanying him, try- 
ing to persuade him to remain. But he 
could endure it no longer. 

The doctor's retreat caused a great sen- 
sation, relished immensely by the Pedo-Bap- 
tists, but a bitter dose to the immersionists. 
There were yet four days of the program 
remaining. Newgent's side demanded, as 
they were paying him for his work, that he 
remain and carry out his part of the pro- 
gram. This he did, but as the debate had 
only one end to it during those four days, 
it spoiled the excitement, though it served 

168 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

well the purpose of those who had employed 
him. 

Among his later debates was one held in 
1898 at itfechanicsville, Indiana, Dr. J. W. 
Haw, of the Christian Church, was his op- 
ponent on this occasion. Doctor Haw had 
been holding revival meetings in that part 
of Indiana, and being dogmatic in style and 
controversially inclined, was unsparing in 
his denunciations of other denominations. 
His aggressions and criticisms were disturb- 
ing the equilibrium of some of the brethren 
whose churches were being used as a target 
by this ecclesiastical Mmrod. They wrote 
to Newgent, then in Tennessee, urging him 
to champion their side against Doctor Haw 
in debate, offering him fifty dollars per day 
and expenses for his time. He consented on 
condition that the propositions were fair 
and that the reverend gentleman in question 
was a representative man in his church. 

He was referred to a two-column article 
in a current number of the Christian Stan- 
dard relating to Doctor Haw. The article 
was extravagant in the use of adjectives de- 
scribing the doctor's ability and achieve- 
ments, stating that he was the leading de- 
bater in the Christian Church, having had 
more such battles than any other man in it 
at that time. This Avas quite satisfactory 

169 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

to Newgent, as at that period he did not 
care to waste any shot or shell on small 
game. 

In this, as in all other such contests, New- 
gent abundantly sustained his position and 
satisfied the expectations of his supporters. 
His experience, self-control, complete mas- 
tery of the subjects in hand, humor, and 
physical endurance made him an antago- 
nist that even the greatest debater in a de- 
bating church could illy cope with. The 
general verdict of even Doctor Haw's own 
sympathizers was that it was decidedly a 
one-sided affair. 



170 



Capter Twelve. 

Perrysville and Centerpoint — Industry Rewarded 
from an Unsuspected Source — A "Slick" Wed- 
ding — Fruitful Labors at Centerpoint — A One- 
sided Union Meeting — The Doctrine of the Res- 
urrection Again Demonstrated. 

A year on the Perrysville charge in the 
Upper Wabash Conference, followed by a 
year at Centerpoint, in his own conference, 
the Lower Wabash, covering 1874 to 1876, 
closed Rev. Mr. Newgent's work in the pas- 
torate for a season. It was from the latter 
charge that he received his appointment 
from the Home, Frontier, and Foreign 
Missionary Society as Superintendent of 
the Tennessee Mission Conference. From 
thenceforth he was destined to serve the 
Church in a larger capacity, though there 
is no work that he regards as more exalted 
or more vital to the progress of the kingdom 
than that of the pastor. And it is but just 
to say that there is no work in which he 
has been happier or more in his element. 
The pastor, he regards, as the pivotal man 
in the church militant, around whose per- 
sonality must revolve all the machinery of 
its organized life. Hence, in whatever po- 
sition he has been placed, he has ever been 
in fullest sympathy with the men on the 

171 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

firing line, and has sought in every way to 
encourage and magnify their work. 

His going to Perrysville was in response 
to an urgent appeal from his intimate 
friend, Dr. J. W. Nye, then a popular pre- 
siding elder in the Upper Wabash Confer- 
ence. His work here was fruitful and con- 
genial, and marked by some rich experi- 
ences, which he carries with him as refresh- 
ing memories. One of these teaches a prac- 
tical moral lesson, namely, that honest in- 
dustry has its reward in more ways than 
one. 

It need not be explained here that indus- 
try is a part of his religion. He believes 
with Paul that it does not injure, or lower 
the dignity of a minister to labor with his 
hands. In this, as in other respects, he 
made himself an example to the flock. Odd 
moments are always occupied in diversions 
of a practical character. The outward ap- 
pearance of the parsonage neyer failed to 
testify to his thrift and good taste. A gar- 
den served as an outlet to his surplus physi- 
cal energies as well as a means of supple- 
menting the usually modest income. Under 
his skillful hand it invariably became a 
thing of beauty and an object of just pride. 

Some five miles from Perrysville lived 
a. horny-handed son of the soil, a man who 

172 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

made industry not only the chief element 
in his religion, but the sum total of it. He 
was an infidel in his belief — or disbelief — 
and regarded the church as an imposition, 
and preachers as an indolent, worthless lot. 
Passing- through the village one day, he 
noticed Rev. Mr. Newgent's garden. It was 
by far the finest he had seen. His surprise 
can only be imagined when, upon inquiry, 
he learned that the owner of it was one 
of those lazy preachers. 

A few days later he drove up to the par- 
sonage with a barrel of flour, which he un- 
loaded and unceremoniously rolled upon 
the porch. This time the surprise was on 
the preacher, as a reputation for benevo- 
lence Avas a thing of which, up to that time, 
the infidel could not boast, He explained 
that ordinarily he had no use for preach- 
ers, but as he had found one that was not 
lazy, he "wanted to help him." The donation 
was an expression of his regard for the 
minister who showed a willingness, accord- 
ing to the infidel's conception of the term, 
to earn his bread in the sweat of his face. 

Another incident, picked up at random, 
occurred one cold day during the winter of 
his stay at Perry sville. A couple whose 
appearance did not indicate a superabund- 
ance of worldly prosperity, came to the par- 

173 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

sonage to be married. They had come from 
the adjoining county, the boundary between 
the two counties being the Wabash River, 
on the bank of which Perrysville was lo- 
cated. The river was frozen over. The 
couple traveled afoot, having crossed the 
river on the ice. The preacher explained 
that they would have to recross the river 
before the ceremony could be performed, as 
the law required that marriages be solem- 
nized in the county in which the license was 
issued. So he conducted the matrimonial 
candidates to the river. 

When the preacher was satisfied that they 
had proceeded beyond the half-way point on 
the river, he ordered the couple to halt and 
join hands. By this time their presence 
had attracted the attention of the young 
people who were out on the ice in large 
numbers enjoying the fine winter sport of 
skating. As the wedding was a public func- 
tion, no restrictions being placed on attend- 
ance, the ceremony was performed in the 
presence of an enthusiastic multitude. 

The service completed, the groom, who 
was unacquainted with ministerial usages, 
inquired as to the amount of the fee. To 
save him the responsibility and further em- 
barrassment of determining the sum to be 
paid for the service, the preacher suggested 

174 




The Young Man's Financial Rating Was Over-estimated. 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

that a dollar would be sufficient, fearing 
lest he might set the price too high for his 
purse. Even at that it was painfully evi- 
dent that the young man's financial rating 
was overestimated. After nervously fum- 
bling through his pockets he was able to 
produce but fifty cents. In his dilemma he 
found it necessary to call upon his bride 
for financial assistance. Happily she was 
equal to the emergency, and supplied the 
deficit from her own purse. 

"This is the fairest wedding I have ever 
seen," said the preacher. "It has always 
been my opinion that the lady ought to help 
pay the preacher, and she receives as much 
benefit from the ceremony as does the man. 
I hope you will always share each other's 
burdens in this way." And wishing them 
happiness and prosperity, he sent them on 
their way rejoicing. 

The local paper gave a flowery account of 
the wedding that took place on the ice, stat- 
ing that it was the "slickest" wedding that 
had ever occurred in that section. But the 
minister's fee and the manner of paying it 
was not allowed to become public, lest it 
should become a troublesome precedent in 
matrimonial circles. 

The following year, which was spent on 
the Centerpoint charge, was a most fruitful 

175 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

oue. Here, as in so many other places, he 
found a splendid opportunity of demon- 
strating his favorite doctrine of the resur- 
rection — the resurrection of dead churches. 
The spiritual life of the churches at Center- 
point was at ebb tide, and had been for an 
indefinite time. Soon after his arrival the 
Methodist pastor, who was also new in the 
town, called upon him to confer as to their 
plans for revival work. As workers were 
scarce, it was thought best to plan their 
meetings so that they would not conflict. 
Rev. Mr. Newgent, Abraham-like, let his 
brother do the choosing, and the brother, 
perhaps as anxious as Lot to get in on the 
ground floor, decided to commence a revival 
at once. Newgent began a meeting at the 
same time some few miles in the country. 
Newgent' s meeting immediately developed 
into a revival of so great proportions that 
it became the one overshadowing event of 
the whole country, drawing the Methodist 
pastor's congregation from him and render- 
ing it impracticable for him to continue. 
His situation was a rather lonely one. In 
his extremity he sought, another interview 
with his fellow pastor, proposing to close 
his meeting at once if Newgent would join 
him later in a union revival effort. 

176 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

This Newgent consented to do on three 
conditions, as follows: 

1. That the meetings be held in the 
United Brethren church. 

2. That the United Brethren pastor do 
all the preaching. 

3. That the United Brethren pastor do 
the managing. 

Hard as the conditions seemed, the brother 
agreed to them. The conditions, in fact, 
look egotistical and perhaps selfish on the 
surface, but when the United Brethren pas- 
tor explained his reasons for them they were 
seen to be neither. On the contrary they 
were meant for the highest good of both 
churches, and were abundantly vindicated 
by the outcome. He was intensely anxious 
that Centerpoint have a genuine revival of 
religion. To promote such a, revival at any 
cost was his purpose. That this purpose 
might be realized he would not permit mod- 
esty, formality, or any other creature to 
stand in the way. 

The United Brethren Church was the 
more commodious and had the advantage in 
location. This was the reason for the first 
condition. The reason for the second and 
third conditions was that Centerpoint had 
been preached to death. A change of meth- 
ods was imperative if the people were to be 

177 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

reached. He wanted a meeting without 
preaching, without too much human agency, 
but where God himself might control to 
his own glory. Only by having the manage- 
ment left to him could he apply the remedy 
needed according to his diagnosis of the 
case. 

His plan was now to be put to the test — 
a revival without preaching, the laity to do 
the work as they felt divinely moved. The 
meeting began on a Friday evening. But 
with no life there could be no real activity. 
The chariot wheels dragged heavily at the 
first. On Sunday morning he announced 
that at four o'clock p.m., a children's meet- 
ing would be held. Aside from selected 
helpers, only children within a certain age 
limit would be admitted. Such meetings 
even at that date were quite uncommon. 
The announcement, therefore, aroused a 
great deal of curiosity. But that was one 
point in the anouncement. Something must 
be done to stir the people. There must be 
a new avenue of approach to their cold 
hearts. 

The children's service produced the de- 
sired effect. At the appointed hour the 
house was filled to overflowing. There were 
three helpers, all ministers, present, who 
did their part according to Newgent's di- 

178 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

rections. Songs were sung, prayers offered 
by the ministers as they were called upon, a 
brief talk by the leader, some simple propo- 
sitions, and the meeting closed in less than 
a half-hour from the time it began. But 
that half-hour turned the tide in Center- 
point. The children became the vanguard 
in a religious movement that was to shake 
the town from center to circumference. 
Many of them went home weeping to speak 
of the longing of their tender hearts to 
fathers and mothers, who, in turn, were 
awakened to a consciousness of their own 
need. 

At the evening service which followed, 
seventy-five persons came to the altar, most 
of whom professed conversion. The revi- 
val was no longer a problem. It spread 
throughout the town and community like 
fire in dry stubble. The church arose from 
the grave of lethargy and formalism, cast 
off her grave clothes — and the doctrine of 
the resurrection was again abundantly dem- 
onstrated. 



179 



Chapter Thirteen. 

/' comes a Missionary Superintendent — Second Mar- 
riage — An Unexpected Welcome — Forms a Quaker 
Friendship — The Spirit Moves in a Quaker Meet- 
ing — A Quaker's Prayer Answered — Builds a Col- 
lege — Shows What to do for a Dead Church — 
Another Tilt on the Doctrine of Baptism — Con- 
version of a Dunkard Preacher — Turns a Great 
Movement in the Right Direction. 

In the fall of 1S76, Rev. Mr. Newgent en- 
tered upon his duties as Superintendent of 
the Tennessee Mission Conference, under 
appointment of the Home, Frontier, and 
Foreign Missionary Association. In the 
meantime he had married Miss Annie Crow- 
ther, of Terre Haute, Indiana, who, under 
the divine blessing, abides as the companion 
of his joys and sorrows amid the lengthen- 
ing shadows. She is a woman of rare and 
excellent qualities, which especially fitted 
her for her position as the wife of an active 
and ambitious minister. She is in fullest 
accord with her husband's ambitions and 
tastes, and has contributed her part toward 
the success of his career. He freely accords 
to her this credit. With this queenly woman 
ordering its affairs, the Newgent home has 
ever been a haven of real rest, a, retreat for 
Cod's servants especially. It extends a wel- 

180 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

come and hospitality — a true home spirit — 
that at once makes the wayworn pilgrim 
feel at ease in body and mind, and charms 
the hearts of the young as well. 

At the time of their removal to Tennessee, 
the United Brethren Church was new in the 
South. Its attitude of open hostility to 
slavery largely shut it out of regions south 
of Mason and Dixon's line. The Tennessee 
Conference then had less than four hundred 
members, with only six houses of worship. 
So a great field spread out before the new 
Superintendent, taking him back to condi- 
tions in many respects similar to those in 
which he began his ministerial labors. It 
was still a time of reconstruction in church 
affairs as well as in matters political. But 
his was a work of construction rather than 
of reconstruction. 

Aside from the need of laborers and the 
vast opportunities afforded for building up 
the church in this section, one reason he had 
for accepting this appointment was the 
condition of his own and his wife's health. 
Both were threatened with failing health, 
and a change of climate was advised, the 
high altitude of eastern Tennessee being 
recommended as especially adapted to their 
physical needs. 

181 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

They arrived at Limestone, Tennessee, on 
a Friday evening in September. Here was 
illustrated bow bis fame as a genial, good 
humored personality had spread throughout 
the Church, so that the people felt that they 
were acquainted with "Jack" Newgent 
(later Uncle Jack) even though they had 
never met him personally. Arriving at the 
city some time after dark, worn bv the lonff 
journey, the discomforts of which were ag- 
gravated by their poor health, they little 
dreamed of finding in that particular realm 
an acquaintance or anyone who had any con- 
cern for them. 

Great indeed was Newgent's surprise 
when, as he alighted from the train, a gen- 
tleman, a total stranger, with a lantern on 
his arm, stepped up and in a familiar man- 
ner accosted him, "Hello! Is this Jack New- 
gent?" 

He bad been so familiarly known as 
"Jack,'' that he had resolved to be known 
by the more grave and dignified appellation 
of Andrew J. Newgent when he came into 
his new kingdom. But his expectation 
perished, as it would have done even had 
the circumstances been otherwise. A man's 
name, like his clothes, is a part of him, 
and if it does not fit, his friends will per- 
sist in trimming it until it does. The per- 

182 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

sonality and the title cannot be unequally 
yoked together. 

"Well," said the reverend gentleman from 
the Hoosier State, "I suppose if I should 
land in the heart of Africa, some Hottentot 
would come rushing out of the jungle and 
say, ' Hello, Jack Newgent!' Who are you, 
anyway?" The stranger was Mr. W. C. 
Keezel, a prominent layman in the confer- 
ence, who had been advised of their coming 
by Dr. D. K. Flickinger, Secretary of the 
Missionary Society, and was there to take 
them to his hospitable home. It was a pleas- 
ant surprise, and they felt at once that they 
were among friends whose hearts God had 
touched with his spirit of kindness and 
tenderness. Their anxieties were dispelled, 
and they felt as near heaven in Tennessee 
as in Indiana. 

Next dav his host took him on a ten-mile 
ride by horseback over a mountain road to 
a quarterly conference, where he met a num- 
ber of ministers, and began to get ac- 
quainted with his new co-workers. His 
presence filled the little band of faithful 
toilers with new hope and courage. He 
preached the following day (Sunday) at a 
neighboring church to an immense crowd. 
Here he met Rev. Eli Marshall, a minister 
of repute in the Quaker — or Friends — 

1S3 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

church, with whom he was destined to form 
a close friendship, a friendship which re- 
vealed later to both of these servants of God 
how mysteriously God moves in answer to 
the earnest prayers of his faithful children. 

Rev. Mr. Marshall was not only an able 
minister, but was also a successful business 
man, being- the owner of several plantations. 
He took Newgent to his home, and later 
showed him a congenial cottage on one of 
his plantations. "This is at thy disposal," 
he said, "if it suits thee." Newgent replied 
that it was just such a place as he was look- 
ing for, as it was but a short distance from 
town and the railroad station, and inquired 
as to the rental value. 

"Just move in," said Marshall, "we will 
talk about that some other time." 

But when Newgent insisted, he set a 
nominal price, which indicated that he was 
not especially concerned about the financial 
side of the transaction. He furthermore 
insisted on transporting Newgent's house- 
hold goods from the station, but this priv- 
ilege he was compelled to share with Mr. 
Keezel. While they were moving his goods 
from the train, his Quaker neighbors set to 
work and filled the smoke-house with pro- 
visions, and supplied sufficient fuel to last 
him through the winter. Such expressions 

184 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

of kindness and generosity seldom had been 
seen. 

The fourth week in October was the time 
for the Quakers' yearly meeting, to be held 
at Rev. Mr. Marshall's home church. He 
had issued an order to Newgent to have no 
engagement for that time, as his presence 
and help were desired at the meeting. Un- 
der the circumstances there was but one 
thing to do, and that was to respect the 
order. These meetings were matters of no 
small significance in that denomination. 
They usually lasted several days, and were 
great seasons of fellowship. They were 
very largely attended so that the program 
sometimes had to be carried out in several 
sections. Newgent had never had the priv- 
ilege of attending a Quaker meeting, but his 
appreciation of the Quakers by this time 
knew no bounds. 

He first went to the meeting on Saturdav 
morning and was surprised to find more 
than a thousand people on the ground. His 
friend, Rev. Mr. Marshall, met him immedi- 
ately and said, "If the Spirit moves thee 
to preach to-day, we want thee to preach in 
the church this morning." Some one was 
to preach in the school house nearby. The 
Spirit moved, and Newgent preached. 

185 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

In the afternoon lie was "moved'' to 
preach again. He was urged to preach 
again at night. This time the Spirit was 
not consulted, but his preaching had 
touched a responsive chord in the Quaker 
heart, so it was taken for granted that the 
Spirit would be favorable. An out-door 
service and a service in the school house 
besides that in the church were required in 
order to accommodate the crowd. Newgent 
declined to preach at this time, not wishing 
to usurp the honors that belonged to the 
Quaker preachers. But the Quaker "Spirit" 
refused to let him off. He was even urged 
to sing a special song, which was a great 
departure from Quaker usage in those days. 
While preaching with his usual power, it 
was evident to him that great conviction 
prevailed in the congregation. As he had 
been invited to depart from one of the 
Quaker usages, he now felt bold to depart 
from another. Indeed he felt stronglv 
moved by the Spirit to give an invitation for 
seekers to come to the altar. The invitation 
given, the altar was soon crowded with anx- 
ious penitents. He then called upon the 
Quakers to come forward and to sing and 
pray with the seekers. This a considerable 
number did, casting aside all reserve, and 
the meeting became a typical United Breth- 

186 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

ren revival. It was one time when the 
Spirit "moved" beyond question in a 
Quaker meeting. 

He was given right of way in the church 
on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and 
Monday evening. A new element was thus 
diffused into Quakerdom. He held a meet- 
ing in that same community a few weeks 
later, in which the Quakers took a leading 
part, and which resulted in about a hun- 
dred conversions. 

The best part of the whole procedure 
came to light when Newgent called to pay 
his landlord the small pittance that was 
due on rent. Rev. Mr. Marshall refused to 
accept even the nominal amount that had 
been agreed upon. 

"Let me explain," he said, "I have never 
told anybody what I am going to tell thee — 
not even my wife. Some three months ago 
I moved my foreman out of that house, and 
began to pray for the Lord to send us a 
good, live preacher from the North. I had 
got tired of these slow-going Southern f el- 
lows. But I forgot to tell the Lord to send 
a Quaker. So the Lord was free to send 
whomsoever he pleased. And tho first time 
I heard thee preach, I said, 'There is the 
answer to my prayer.' Now, it would not 
do for me to charge rent of the man the 

187 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

Lord sent in answer to my prayer, when he 
is living in the property I vacated for him 
when I besought the Lord to send him. 
That house is for thee as long as thee wants 
it." 

When this noble soul was called to 
heaven some years later, Rev. Mr. Newgent 
was called from a distant State to preach 
his funeral. Truly, he was a man of God. 

When the conference projected a college 
enterprise at Greenville, Rev. Mr. Newgent 
took up his residence at that place so as to 
give personal attention and encouragement 
to the institution. This college was after- 
wards moved to White Pine, Newgent being 
the leading spirit in the matter of reloca- 
tion. He served as financial agent and 
supervised the construction of the building. 
Through his personal efforts the building 
was erected and paid for. 

The evangelistic gift and executive fac- 
ulty, both of which were prominent in our 
subject, peculiarly fitted him for the duties 
of Missionary Superintendent amid such 
conditions as the Tennessee Conference pre- 
sented. Much incipient work had to be 
done. The routine work of his office re- 
quired only a small portion of his time, leav- 
ing him free to do the work of an evangel- 
ist, to encourage weak churches and to sur- 

188 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

vey new territory to conquer. This narra- 
tive has already afforded many examples of 
his constructive work along these lines. 
One more characteristic incident may not 
be out of place. 

Near Limestone, Tennessee, was a church 
which was so unpromising that the quar- 
terly conference seriously considered aban- 
doning it and disposing of the property. It 
was well located, but there were strong 
churches on either side, and the little 
church, overshadowed as it was by these 
older organizations, had never been able to 
gain a proper standing. 

"Let us give it another chance," said New- 
gent, who was presiding at the meeting. "I 
will hold a meeting there at the first oppor- 
tunity, and we will see if it can be saved." 
He held the meeting accordingly and re- 
ceived ninety-seven members into the 
church, and the little, struggling church 
was lifted to such a position of prestige 
and prominence that it overshadowed its 
rivals, becoming a strong center of religious 
influence. 

But it was not enough to merely get peo- 
ple converted and brought into the church. 
They must be taught in the doctrines of the 
church, so as not to get their doctrinal ideas 
from other sources. 

189 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

One of the strong churches of this com- 
munity was of the Dunkard order, and 
mainly through its influence a strong im- 
mersion sentiment prevailed. At the close 
of the revival there were a large number of 
applicants for baptism. According to pre- 
vailing custom, all expected to be immersed. 
It was in order on such occasions for the 
baptismal service to be prefaced by a ser- 
mon on baptism. Rev. Mr. Newgent took 
advantage of the opportunity to make some 
remarks on the mode of baptism, which was 
the one live subject in religious circles. In 
his discourse he said : 

"We often hear people say, 'I want to be 
baptized as Jesus was/ I do not share this 
sentiment. For in one essential respect Je- 
sus' baptism was different from ours. It 
was for a different purpose. He was bap- 
tized to fulfill the law; we, because we are 
sinners, either for the forgiveness of sins 
or because they are forgiven. 

"But we may be baptized in the same 
manner in which he was baptized, and if 
you wish, I will tell you what that was. 
Paul said, 'He was made a priest like unto 
his brethren.' Jesus said, 'I am come, not 
to destroy the law or the prophets, but to 
fulfill.' He fulfilled every jot and tittle of 
the law. The law required a priest to have 

190 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

the water of consecration sprinkled upon 
his head when he was thirty years of age. 
Hence, if Christ was made a priest like his 
brethren, it is easy to see that his baptism 
was the same a,s that of the priests, his 
brethren, and that the water was sprinkled 
upon his head at the age of thirty; other- 
wise he would not have fulfilled every jot 
and tittle of the law." 

A prominent Dunkard preacher present 
made a public statement at the close of the 
discourse to the effect that, while he had al- 
ways believed and taught that Christ was 
baptized by immersion, he was now fully 
convinced that he had been mistaken. When 
they came to the baptismal service, all the 
applicants chose the mode of sprinkling, 
though they had come prepared to be im- 
mersed. 

Under his capable and aggressive leader- 
ship the conference maintained a steady 
growth. At first its territory was confined 
to the eastern part of the State. But in 
the early nineties he, with some other min- 
isters, advanced to the central and western 
parts of the State on a sort of missionary- 
evangelistic campaign. They held a num- 
ber of meetings and were successful in win- 
ning quite a sprinkling of converts. The 
work thus accomplished made possible the 

191 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

organization of what was then known as 
the Tennessee River Conference in 189G. 

One of the most important events in con- 
nection with the Tennessee Conference, and 
which was brought about mainly through 
his influence, occurred in 1895. It is re- 
ferred to as follows in Berber's Historv of 
the United Brethren Church, page 614: 

"About two years ago a movement which 
had been for some time in process of devel- 
opment, began to take definite form, result- 
ing in considerable additions both of min- 
isters and laymen to the United Brethren 
Church. The greater number of these came 
from the Methodist Episcopal Church, some 
from the M. E. Church, South, and a few 
from other denominations. Those coming 
from the Methodist churches were attracted 
chiefly by the milder form of episcopal gov- 
ernment in the United Brethren Church. 
There was for them no possible inducement 
in material or worldly considerations. They 
could not look for larger salaries or easier 
fields of labor or lighter sacrifices, nor was 
the prospect of official promotion better 
than in the churches from which they came. 
Nor could they bring with them any of the 
church-houses or other property which they 
had aided in building. No thought or hope 
of this kind was entertained; much less was 

192 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

any effort made to do so. Influenced by 
principle alone, and in the face of present 
loss, they chose to cast in their lot with us, 
and they have addressed themselves earn- 
estly to the work in their new relations. 
About twenty-five ministers in all, with a 
considerable number of members, have thus 
connected themselves with the United 
Brethren. Among the leading ministers of 
the movement are: Dr. T. C. Carter, Rev. 
W. L. Richardson, J. D. Droke, and others. 
They have been given a cordial welcome by 
the United Brethren Church, not in anv 
spirit of proselytism, for no proselyting was 
done, nor from any desire to reap where 
others have sown, but with an open heart 
and door to receive any persons who love 
our common Lord and desire to cast their 
lot with us." 

It seems a pity, however, that church his- 
tory is so silent in regard to Rev. Mr. New- 
gent's connection with this event, for it was 
he who turned this movement toward the 
United Brethren Church. Those who re- 
fused to tolerate what they considered 
abuses of episcopal supervision in the two 
great Methodist bodies were in the very act 
of forming a new church. In this movement 
Dr. T. C. Carter, now Bishop Carter, occu- 
pied a conspicuous place of leadership, as 

193 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

he did in every great religious movement in 
that part of the country. His name was a 
household word in all that realm, and when 
he spoke, multitudes reverently listened. 
Rev. Mr. Newgent met him, and showed him 
a Discipline of the United Brethren Church, 
believing that it set forth the very prin- 
ciples of church government for which these 
great souls were contending, and thus pre- 
sented the alternative of connecting them- 
selves with a denomination that afforded 
what they wanted, or of adding to the num- 
ber of denominational organizations which 
many believed were already too many. Doc- 
tor Carter suggested that Disciplines and 
other United Brethren literature be sent to 
the leading ministers of the movement. 
This was accordingly done; and as a re- 
sult they decided to connect themselves 
with the United Brethren Church. 

They were formally received in a special 
conference held in Knoxville. A number of 
the Bishops, general officers, and leading 
ministers and laymen throughout the de- 
nomination attended this conference, which 
was presided over by Bishop Weaver. One 
of the leading ministers of the movement, 
in delivering the welcome address on that 
occasion, made use of the following lan- 
guage : 

194 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

"I am certain that one-half the member- 
ship of both churches (the Methodist bod- 
ies) heartily prefer a church government of 
the people, by the people, and for the peo- 
ple, to their own. ... In view of these 
things, I may venture to say that a strong 
church that will fill the valleys and moun- 
tains of this country with a religious paper 
devoted to Arminianism and liberty, and 
will follow up this plan with men and with 
churches may expect a glorious welcome." 



195 



Chapter Fourteen. 

Autumn — The Fading Leaf — Fruit in Old Age — His 
Later Labors — Present Home. 

"We all do fade as a leaf," was the lam- 
entation of an ancient prophet in a melan- 
choly mood. The fading leaf speaks in sad 
but beautiful language of waning vitality. 
It is the harbinger of autumn, telling us that 
nature is getting ready to close her books 
for the season. It brings with it a tinge 
of sadness mingled with sweetness ; for there 
is compensation in even the saddest experi- 
ences. What would the year be without the 
pensive days of autumn? They are the 
golden fringes of the bounteous summer 
season. Sad, indeed, would they be if the 
summer has been ill spent. Then might 
the melancholy wail arise from the forlorn 
heart, "The harvest is past, the summer is 
ended." 

But when autumn looks back upon a 
springtime of bountiful seed-sowing, and a 
summer of bountiful reaping, it becomes the 
year's climax of joy, the beneficiary of all 
its blessings. Enriched by the summer's 
heritage, it is beautiful and peaceful and 
happy. 

196 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

"We all do fade as a leaf." May it be said 
philosophically. The fading of the leaf re- 
veals more perfectly its innate qualities, 
and rounds out its brief existence. The red 
or brown or yellow, in mute language, tells 
its life history and closes the book. 

It is said of the aged, sometimes, "They 
are set in their ways." That is because in 
them character has become a finished prod- 
uct. The incidentals and accidentals have 
become eliminated, and the accumulated 
results of years of striving and hoping, sor- 
row and pain, defeats and victories are 
plainly discernible. Personal traits stand 
out in bold relief so that all may fittingly 
say, "Behold the man." 

Thus, Uncle Jack — for we may now use 
this affectionate designation, having passed 
his three score and ten, is now in the au- 
tumnal glory of a life beautiful and boun- 
tiful in its fruitage. And so the autumn of 
his life is enriched and made fragrant by the 
year's benedictions. Blessed, indeed, is he 
to whom it is given to enjoy a long period 
of service, and who can then gracefully let 
his mantle pass to others whom God has 
called and prepared to receive it. To grow 
old sweetly, to let the sun go down amid 
the splendors of an unclouded evening sky, 
is the crowning glory of old age. 

197 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

Blessed, indeed, then, is Uncle Jack. He 
approaches this period in life, not only in 
the spirit of a true philosopher, but in the 
spirit of a true Christian. He still lives in 
the sunshine, he keeps the windows open to 
the breezes that bring to him the fragrance 
of flowers, the song of birds, and the "music 
of the spheres." The world smiles upon him 
and he returns its smile. 

He has lived in an active, changing age, 
but has always kept up with the procession. 
He performed a vital part in the changing 
order in which he lived and moved and had 
his being; and he who helps to fashion 
events, who has a part in directing the move- 
ments of progress, is not likely to be left 
behind or to be trampled under foot. He 
not only kept pace with the world, but with 
a prophet's vision, he anticipated the course 
of human events. So, as great changes ap- 
proached, he was ready to march out to 
meet them. Like a true prophet, he had a 
message for his own day and generation, 
but the message was more potent because 
he had a vision of things yet to be. 

In him is illustrated the Psalmist's ob- 
servation concerning the children of God, 
"They shall bring forth fruit in old age." 
For him there is no "dead line." The body 
may lose its agility; it may fail to do the 

198 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

bidding of the mind properly, but the mind 
and heart remain abreast of the times. The 
dead line means more than physical infirm- 
ity, and it often occurs that the mind lingers 
near that dread spot while the body is in its 
prime. The dead line belongs to the mind 
and not to the body, and hence, taking that 
view of it, there is no dead line for Uncle 
Jack. 

It is given to but few men to continue in 
the public ministry until they pass their 
three score and ten. Uncle Jack had never 
been out of the active connection in some 
form from the time he entered the ministry 
until his seventy-third year, giving more 
than a half-century of unbroken service to 
the public work of the Church. 

In the interest of accuracy and complete- 
ness, more specific mention should be made 
of his later work. After spending eleven 
years as presiding elder in Tennessee Con- 
ference, he returned North for a time, serv- 
ing as pastor at Veedersburg, Indiana, as 
college pastor at Westfield, Illinois, as pas- 
tor at Olney, Illinois, and three years as 
presiding elder in Upper Wabash Confer- 
ence. His work as pastor at Veedersburg 
included two periods, one of three years', 
and the other of four years' duration. This 

199 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

was one of the wealthiest and most influen- 
tial churches in Upper Wabash Conference. 

Returning to Tennessee — now East Ten- 
nessee — Conference, he was again elected to 
the presiding eldership, serving five years in 
that relation. Altogether he spent twenty- 
one years in the Tennessee Conference, serv- 
ing five years in the pastorate besides six- 
teen 3*ears in the presiding elder's office. 

His last work in the pastorate was at 
Clarinda, Iowa, being called from there to 
the field agency for Indiana Central Uni- 
versity at Indianapolis by the trustees of 
that institution. He has always been in- 
terested in the educational work of the 
Church. In his varied experience in reli- 
gious work he has seen demonstrated in so 
many ways the need of an educated minis- 
try. So he entered upon this latter work 
with a deep conviction of its importance, 
and with the earnestness and zeal which 
characterized his labors all through life; 
but finding his physical strength insufficient 
for its taxing demands, he was compelled 
to relinquish it. 

In the fall of 1910 he again attended the 
East Tennessee Conference session, desiring 
only to enjoy its fellowship. He had no 
thought of assuming again an active rela- 
tion in the conference, but his brethren were 

200 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

loath to let him escape. When the election 
of presiding elder was called, their minds 
once more centered upon him, and he lacked 
but four votes of being the unanimous 
choice of the conference. This, however, 
brought him to face a delicate matter which 
set a task for his tender conscience. Seeing 
that his election meant the crowding of a 
worthy young man out of an appointment, 
he very generously resigned the office with 
instructions to the Bishop that this young 
man be given the place. 

His present home is at Odon, Indiana. 
Here he finds himself among sympathetic 
friends, and is near the scenes of his early 
childhood. He takes pleasure in doing what 
he can in the local church, setting a whole- 
some example to the membership by his 
faithful attendance at all the services and 
by loyal and liberal support of all its inter- 
ests. Here he enjoys the hearty good will 
of old and young alike, and has frequent 
calls for addresses at various functions, 
where he is always greeted with unfeigned 
delight. 

While not employed in a regular way by 
the Church, an appreciative public will con- 
tinue to recognize his worth, and keep ajar 
the door of opportunity for rendering valu- 
able service to his fellow men. 

201 



Chapter Fifteen. 

Character Sketch. 

The analysis of a flower is the work, not 
of the florist, but of the botanist. The flor- 
ist sees in the combination of the various 
parts the beauty of a perfected whole, while 
the botanist sees the parts separated and 
classified but loses sight of the flower itself. 
The florist's viewpoint is preferable to that 
of the botanist. This is no less true in deal- 
ing with human life than in the treatment 
of a flower. However, in the interest of 
thoroughness, some attention should be 
given to a study of the particular elements 
of character which give to our subject his 
peculiar individuality and made possible 
that degree of eminence which he has won 
for himself. The task is not an easy one. 
This is true in the case of all men of su- 
perior strength. The sources of power are 
so embedded in the depths of one's person- 
ality as to make them difficult to trace. In 
the presence of such men we are instinc- 
tively aware of their superiority, but if 
asked to give a reason for our impressions 
we would be unable to do so. The power of 
a personality is to be felt rather than ex- 

202 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

plained or analyzed. It is this invisible, un- 
definable something that lifts the man above 
the level of the commonplace and gives him 
a commanding influence among his fellows. 
The strength of some characters is due to 
one or two exceptionally strong traits, while 
in other particulars they may be correspond- 
ingly weak. The world sees only the moun- 
tain peaks of strength and upon them it 
builds its estimate of the man. To this rule 
Rev. A. J. Newgent is one of the rare ex- 
ceptions. "Like a tree planted by the rivers 
of water," the distinctive feature of his life 
is rather in the full and symmetrical devel- 
opment of the various qualities of mature 
and well-rounded manhood. Hence, he is 
essentially a man of the people — not a man 
of one class, but of all classes, the embodi- 
ment of the true spirit of democrarcy. Like 
Paul, he can be all things to all men with- 
out sacrificing principle or dignity or los- 
ing the respect of any of them. His sympa- 
thies are broad and deep, and go out to all 
alike. There is no assumed or conscious 
superiority to create a barrier between him- 
self and the humblest soul. He observes no 
arbitrary distinctions. Whoever he chances 
to meet is at once a friend and brother. He 
possesses in a large degree the rare faculty 
of making people feel at home in his pres- 

203 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

ence. Fads and snobs and artificiality he 
hates as he hates sin. The glitter and tinsel 
show of life are counted as dross, but the 
pure gold of human character that needs no 
outward adornment is his delight. 

His well-balanced temperament enables 
him to so adjust himself to different condi- 
tions, that he is invariably master of the 
situation in which he may be placed. In the 
home, whether marked by riches or poverty, 
culture or illiteracy, he is always the same 
genial guest, To the children, young peo- 
ple, and old folks alike, the presence of 
"Uncle Jack" is always welcome. In his 
public ministry, whatever the demands of 
the occasion, he is ready to meet them. 
Never is he at the mercv of his surround- 
ings. Not many months ago, while doing 
service as field secretary for Indiana Cen- 
tral University, he was secured by the pas- 
tor of a country church to hold an all-day 
meeting. The morning program was inter- 
fered with by a severe rainstorm, so that be- 
sides himself and the pastor, only three per- 
sons were present. Yet, he preached to his 
small audience with his wonted zeal and 
earnestness, the effort being pronounced by 
those who heard it superior to the one in 
the afternoon, when he had the inspiration 
of a full house. 

204 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

He never follows the beaten paths simply 
because others have walked therein. The 
fact that some one else did a thing in a cer- 
tain way is not sufficient reason why he 
should proceed upon the same plan. He 
imitates no one and it is safe to say no one 
imitates him, for the reason that he is so 
intensely original ; the processes of his mind 
are so completely his own that no one could 
well repeat them. Bishop Edwards once 
said, "There is one man whose sermons no 
one has ever tried to copy ; that man is New- 
gent." This originality has been a valuable 
asset in debate. His opponent might come 
with his mind well furnished with all the 
laws of logic, the tactics known to debaters, 
and the arguments on both sides of the ques- 
tion well in hand, only to find his materials 
practically useless. Rev. Mr. Newgent's 
method being so unique, his approach to the 
subject from such unexpected angles, and 
his presentation of unheard-of arguments in 
defending his position, while transgressing 
no valid law of debate or of logic, made him 
a law unto himself. The opinions of other 
men rather than being accepted as author- 
ity, only serve to quicken his thought and 
incite to investigation. In preaching he is 
purely extemporaneous, often deferring the 
selection of a text or theme until after he 

205 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

enters the pulpit. But his resourceful 
mind, well stocked with information, the re- 
sult of general reading and observation, 
and his aptness at illustration, rendered 
safe for him what to some men would be a 
hazardous undertaking. 

While original in his thinking, he never 
discredits the opinions of others, no mat- 
ter how widely they may differ from his 
own. Honesty and sincerity he regards as 
superior to articles of faith. "If no one 
gets to heaven except those who believe as I 
do," he often says, "the audience there will 
be rather small." David said, in his haste, 
"All men are liars." If Rev. Mr. Newgent 
should err in his judgment of mankind, it 
would more likely be in the opposite direc- 
tion. A source of strength is his faith in 
men, their possibilities and aspirations for 
better things. To be a leader of men, this 
faith is imperative. Beneath the surface 
shale of human differences, selfishness and 
error, may be found a sub-stratum of gen- 
uine manhood. And upon this the true 
builder must build. He must recognize that 
he is dealing with intelligent beings who can 
think and feel, and who are possessed with 
a sense of honor and self-respect. The man 
who would inspire others to higher things 
must not despise or ignore these vital fac- 

206 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

tors of individual consciousness. There are 
sacred precincts in every life which the 
owner has a right to guard as with a flam- 
ing sword, and which should not be ap- 
proached except with unsandaled feet and 
sanctified hands. That there is more real 
incentive to noble effort in a vision of the 
possibilities and beauty of a noble life than 
in the lash, is a prominent article in Rev. 
Mr. Newgent's faith. The spirit of "anti- 
ism" and the methods used by a certain 
type of evangelists of pouring out the vials 
of their sarcastic and vituperative wrath 
upon men and things in general are offen- 
sive to him in the extreme. Hence, the posi- 
tive note is always dominant in his preach- 
ing. 

The secret of getting on with men is in 
knowing what chord to strike to get the de- 
sired response. That he knows well the 
secret, the achievements of his career bear 
ample testimony. An incident in his boy- 
hood may not be out of place here, as it il- 
lustrates the principle by which he has been 
actuated throughout his entire life in his 
relations with men. He was employed at 
a saw-mill. The logs were hauled from the 
forest to the mill with oxen. That an ox 
team is no friend to grace, is the general 
verdict of those who have experimental 

207 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

knowledge of ox-driving. One large, burly 
team in particular that was noted for ob- 
stinacy and general degeneracy, had defied 
all the skill and whips and profanity the 
driver could produce. He repeatedly had 
gone to the woods for his load and returned 
with the empty wagon. At a critical point 
in the road the team would balk and refuse 
to budge until the wagon was unloaded. It 
became a standing challenge to the entire 
crowd, different ones of whom accepted the 
challenge, with the same result. Finally 
Jack, as he was then called, asked permis- 
sion to try. He was only a spindling lad of 
a hundred-weight avoirdupois, and the very 
suggestion was met with jeers. "Have you 
ever driven oxen?" he was asked. "No," 
was the reply, "but I think I have ox sense." 
They finally consented, but no one expected 
anything but another failure. The driver 
offered him the whip. "I don't need the 
whip," he said, and started for his charge. 
He made friends with his dumb servants, 
rubbed their ears, spoke to them coaxingly, 
and soon had them on the wav to the woods. 
He took the precaution to provide himself 
with a small bag of corn. He succeeded in 
getting the log on the wagon and again 
patted the oxen, and as a reward of merit, 
gave them each a nubbin, letting them see 

208 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

that there was more in the bag that would 
be available if they proved worthy. Thus, 
as he said, he "sooked" them along, and to 
the astonishment of the mill hands, arrived 
in an unusually short time with a large log. 
It was not only a lesson to the men, but to 
himself as well, by which he has profited 
throughout his entire life. He has verified 
the fact many times that "sooking" will suc- 
ceed with men as well as oxen when the 
whip will fail. 

There are two kinds of leadership among 
men. One is the arbitrary leadership of the 
boss ; the other is natural, a true leadership, 
which has for its basis personal strength and 
merit, The former is transient, having no 
real place among thinking and liberty-lov- 
ing people. The other is abiding, for the 
true leader is ever in demand. 

This latter type is quaintly set forth in 
Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha": 
"As unto the bow the cord is, 
So is unto man the woman ; 
While she bends him, she obeys him, 
Though she leads him, yet she follows." 
It is the woman's leadership — controlling 
by obedience, leading by following. A para- 
dox, perhaps, but supported by the logic of 
actual achievements in every realm of hu- 
man endeavor. The workman controls the 

209 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

force of a stream by obeying that force. 
Should he plant his turbine on the hilltop 
and command the water to flow up the hill 
and turn the wheel, the stream would only 
laugh at his impudence as it rippled on its 
way. But when he plants his wheel in the 
current, the stream at once becomes his 
servant. It is the principle observed by the 
engineer, the sailor, the electrician, or the 
aviator in harnessing and utilizing the vari- 
ous forces of nature. The same principle 
lies at the basis of all true leadership in soci- 
ety, church, or state. The strict observance 
of it has enabled Rev. Mr. Newgent to touch 
the motive springs of character by means 
of which men are aroused to action. His 
close sympathy with men ever gives him an 
unconscious, commanding influence. And 
this influence is always turned to account 
in their own uplifting and in the advance- 
ment of righteousness. Out of over a half- 
century in the public ministry, about one- 
half of his time has been spent as presiding 
elder. This official relation does not afford 
the opportunity for evangelistic and other 
forms of direct church work as does the pas-' 
torate; so that definite, visible results can- 
not readily be computed. Yet, few men have 
built for themselves greater or more en- 
during monuments in the line of tangible 

210 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

results. More than six thousand members 
have been gathered into the denomination 
through his labors. Thirty church-houses 
stand to his credit as a church builder. He 
has officiated at about one hundred dedica- 
tory exercises, a recognition of his ability as 
a money-getter. On Chautauqua platforms 
and special occasions of both a religious and 
semi-religious character he has been a 
prominent figure. And his advice is always 
at a premium in the counsels of the denom- 
ination. 

It has been well said, "When God made 
wit, he pronounced it good." Rev. Mr. 
Newgent has demonstrated the practical 
utility of sanctified wit and humor. It is 
possible, however, that his humor has led 
to more misconception of his character than 
any other thing that could be mentioned. 
The trait that touches the most popular 
chord is likely to be so magnified as to shut 
from view others of equal or greater signif- 
icance. The fame of an author not infre- 
quently rests upon a single production, and 
that by no means his best. Edward Eggle- 
ston did not regard the "Hoosier School- 
master," as the best of his works, but multi- 
tudes who have been charmed by that sim- 
ple story will never know that he ever wrote 
anything else. 

211 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

That Rev. Mr. Newgent has in some de- 
gree suffered in a similar manner is, there- 
fore, nothing more than might be expected. 
Yet, if his humor, in the minds of some, 
would reduce him to the level of a mere 
jokesmith, to him it has been an invaluable 
asset. It has served to open the way for the 
assertion of the more substantial and prac- 
tical qualities ; it has enabled him to capture 
hostile and even riotous audiences; with it 
he has battered down strongholds of oppo- 
sition; it has been an effective weapon 
against false doctrine, hypocrisy, and deep- 
seated vice in its various forms; it has 
served as the sugar coating for truths that 
were unpleasant because of a perverted 
taste; he has found it a. splendid tonic to 
dispense with more solid food to aid the 
digestion of mental and spiritual dyspeptics. 
His humor is of the spontaneous sort, ready 
to boil over whenever the lid is removed. 
It flows out through his discourses and con- 
versations as naturally as the stream gushes 
from the fountain, and is always mellowed 
by tenderness and a deep human sympathy. 

"Where dwellest thou?" was asked of the 
Son of Man. The question was of greater 
significance than the interrogator supposed, 
and the answer was even more significant. 
The Savior did not say, in Galilee or Pales- 

212 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

tine, or Nazareth, but simply, "Come and 
see." A man's habitation is not a matter of 
geographical boundary. Should the ques- 
tion be addressed to Rev. Mr. Newgent, he 
would say, "I live on the sunny side of the 
street." A critic of Emerson said that be- 
cause of his unorthodoxy he was doomed 
to go to hell. A contemporary who was ac- 
quainted with Emerson's kindly and genial 
disposition remarked that if he did, he 
would change the climate. Rev. Mr. New- 
gent not only lives on the sunny side of 
the street, but he carries sunshine with him. 
He has a knack of distilling sunshine from 
every circumstance of life. He changes the 
climate to suit his own temperament. With 
Solomon, he believes in the medical virtues 
of a smile, that "a merry heart doeth good 
like a medicine." 

He was once called to visit a woman in 
the mountains of east Tennessee, whom he 
had never seen. She was supposed to be 
dying of consumption. It was late at night 
when he arrived and the weather was in- 
clement. The physician was leaving the 
house as he approached. On learning who 
he was, the physician told him he was too 
late; the lady was dying. He went at once 
to her bedside, and found that the death 
sweat had begun to gather and the death 

213 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

rattle was in her throat. He lifted up her 
head gently and spoke to her. Her face 
brightened, and presently she began to talk. 
She told him that she was glad he had come, 
that she must soon die, and feared she would 
have to go without seeing him. 

But in a voice tender but cheerful, he told 
her he was glad to do her any favor, and 
added, "But don't be in a hurry about go- 
ing. I wouldn't go to-night, if I were you. 
The night is dark and stormy, and you 
might get lost in these mountains. You had 
better wait until morning. It will be so 
much better to go in the day time." She 
smiled at the eccentricity of the remarks, 
and seemed to make up her mind to take the 
advice. Morning found her much improved, 
having apparently decided to postpone the 
matter indefinitely. And contrary to the 
predictions of her physician and friends, 
she recovered to thank the preacher rather 
than the physician for prolonging her days. 

To him there are "sermons in stone, and 
books in the running brooks." He finds in 
the commonest things and most common- 
place occurrence of everyday life, lessons of 
practical truth that enrich and adorn his 
discourses. Once while in his company we 
were stopping at a hotel for dinner. While 
we were seated at the table, some one 

214 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

dropped a coin in the slot of an automatic 
music machine, at which it began to grind 
out a familiar tune. Rev. Mr. Newgent on 
observing the operation, quoted the lan- 
sniaoe of Job, "I caused the widow's heart to 
sing for joy," and added, "Don't you sup- 
pose that was Job's way of making people 
sing for joy — with a bit of money?" And 
subsequently the illustration was used with 
fine effect in a discourse on benevolence. 

Underlying all, and harmonizing all the 
elements of his personality is a firm and 
abiding faith in God. It is doubtless easier 
for some persons to be religious than for 
others. In this respect he has been favored. 
The natural bent of his mind from earliest 
childhood was toward religion. Converted 
at the age of ten, his entire life has been 
controlled by a strong and steady devotion 
to religious ideals. His faith is broad and 
well balanced. Religious affectation and 
fads have no part with him. His religious 
character was formed amid the strife and 
controversies of various creeds in a day 
when creed was everything. These contro- 
versies drove him to a critical study of the 
various systems of theology in the light of 
the Bible. He made the Word of God his 
sole authority in all doctrinal matters. 
That which he recognized as supported by 

215 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

the Book, he made his own. That he de- 
fended without apology or compromise. 
While he is dogmatic to a large degree, his 
dogmatism is of a practical sort. He be- 
lieves that there is a vital relation between 
doctrine and Christian character. A true 
life cannot be built upon erroneous or 
crooked theology. He often deplores the 
fact that the church has swung away from 
the strict, doctrinal teaching of the past, be- 
lieving that in consequence it has suffered 
the loss of spiritual vitality and zeal. 

His faith is as simple as it is broad and 
deep. The essentials of religion are few and 
easily comprehended. The simplicity of 
gospel truth when properly presented is one 
of its strongest attractive elements. In 
many instances the simple gospel has been 
complicated and obscured by a mass of theo- 
logical rubbish heaped up by men more in- 
terested in a creed than in the ultimate 
truth. If the rubbish is cleared away, the 
truth will shine forth clear and distinct in 
its beauty, and men will accept it. To re- 
move the rubbish and give a clear setting 
to the simple, vital elements of Christian 
faith seems to have been a large part of his 
appointed task. This is among his chief 
contributions to the cause of pure and unde- 
fined religion. 

216 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

To the simplicity of his faith should be 
added another quality, perhaps best de- 
scribed by the word "practical." With him 
faith is an intensely practical thing-. The 
faith that expresses itself merely in stock 
phrases, articles of a creed or church mem- 
bership is, to say the least, a base counter- 
feit, a useless commodity. Nothing seems 
to him more irreligious than the religion 
that begins and ends in noise. Genuine 
faith has a personal, spiritual, and commer- 
cial value. Its highest expression is in do- 
ing something that ought to be done. It 
crystallizes into character, and contributes 
to human welfare. It places its possessor 
upon the broad highway of the world's need, 
bringing him into sympathetic touch with 
the throbbing heart-life of humanity. Thus 
he maintains the sound Scriptural philos- 
ophy that faith is to be tested by works. 

The church has profited largely from his 
beneficence. A habit which he has followed 
throughout his ministry is, as he says, "to 
live like a poor man and give like a rich 
man" — that is, like a rich man ought to 
give. He never turns down a worthy call 
for help. Even should there be a question 
as to the merit of the call, he usually gives 
it the benefit of the doubt. "His house is 
known to all the vagrant train," and, to 

217 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

borrow another quaint phrase from Gold- 
smith, "even his faults lean to virtue's side.'' 
The tramp that comes to his door gets with 
his dinner a genial smile and wholesome 
words of admonition, even though the din- 
ner, the smile, and the admonition are lost 
upon a worthless subject. 

In dedicating churches he has made it a 
general rule to give his own subscription for 
an amount equal to the largest on the list. 
On a number of occasions, under pressure of 
a great need, he has pledged more than he 
was worth, in the faith that God would 
open the way for meeting the obligation. 
And his faith in every such case has been 
vindicated. His life illustrates the Bible 
doctrine of increasing by scattering. He 
surely has scattered with a lavish hand. He 
has not only observed the Lord's tithe in his 
benevolence, but has gone quite beyond it, 
even to the giving, in some instances, of 
the greater part of his income to the Lord's 
cause. Yet with it all, he has increased in 
temporal possessions. He has honored God 
with his substance, and God has smiled 
graciously upon him, so that with David he 
can well say, "I once was young, but now 
am old, yet have I not seen the righteous 
forsaken, nor his seed begging bread," 



218 



Chapter Sixteen. 

"Lights Out" — A Dirge of the War. 

A marked characteristic of Uncle Jack, 
as these pages have shown, is his peculiar 
ability to establish and maintain strong 
ties of personal friendship. This has been 
evident even from his youth. He has gath- 
ered friends from all walks of life, and their 
name is legion. The list has always been 
characterized bv names that were written 
large in the annals of Church and State. 
Conspicuous among these is the late Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel James T. Johnson, of Roek- 
ville, Indiana, a man distinguished for 
talent and achievement in various fields. 
The twain were boys together, and the 
friendship thus early formed continued un- 
til severed by the death of Johnston in 1904. 
When Newgent was first winning laurels as 
a boy preacher, Johnston often walked five 
miles to attend his services. They were 
young men, mere youths, when the Civil 
War broke out. Both heard and responded 
to their country's call at that dark time 
when not only the country's honor, but her 
very existence was at stake. Both served 
under General Burnsides, and both held of- 

219 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

ficial positions in the army, Newgent as 
chaplain of his regiment, and Johnston as 
lieutenant, later lieutenant-colonel. After 
the war was over, each won honors and 
served well his generation in his chosen pro- 
fession, the one as a minister of the gospel, 
the other as a lawyer and politician. Johns- 
ton found room near the top in the legal 
profession, and at the same time repre- 
sented his district three successive terms in 
Congress. He ranked high as an orator, 
and, like his clerical friend, was much in 
demand at reunions and other gatherings 
of the soldiers, the two men frequently di- 
viding time upon such occasions. Had New- 
gent chosen politics as a career, he would 
doubtless have become a political leader. 
Had Johnston turned his attention to the 
ministry, he would have taken rank in all 
probability among the leading preachers of 
his dav. 

But there was one sad difference between 
them — Johnston was skeptically inclined. 
While the two men maintained the highest 
regard for each other, and frequently were 
associated together in their work, the sub- 
ject of religion was one point on which, to 
the regret, possibly, of both parties, they 
were not in accord. Johnston's skepticism 
however, was not of the positive sort. He rep- 

320 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

resented the honest doubter rather than the 
avowed disbeliever. His wife was a devout 
Presbyterian, and while he could not sub- 
scribe to the tenets of the church, he never 
disparaged the church or its work. Every 
worthy cause found in him a sympathizer 
and liberal supporter. His honor and integ- 
rity were never questioned, and he enjoyed 
the full confidence and esteem of his fellows. 
It is a matter of satisfaction that such a life 
was not permitted to go out iu the dark. 
And Newgent had the joy of finally leading 
him, just as his sun was sinking below the 
horizon, to a simple faith in Christ and a 
blessed assurance of his acceptance with 
God. 

During his last illness, which covered a 
period of six months, the colonel was visited 
frequently by local ministers, but owing to 
his reputed skepticism and his high pro- 
fessional standing, the subject of religion 
was not pressed upon him. There is a tend- 
ency to fear big men in matters of religion 
not easily explained and not easily over- 
come, and it is quite probable that many a 
great life has ended without the consola- 
tions of religion that, were it not for this 
tendency, might have been led into the light 
as readilv as a little child. Oh, how Chris- 
tians fear the logic of the world, and yet, 

221 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

the sword of the Spirit is a greater weapon 
than all the world's artillery ! 

Newgent visited him almost daily during 
this time, and on one occasion determined 
to broach the subject of religion. "Col- 
onel," he said, in his usual tactful manner, 
"while you are shut in here, would it not be 
a fine opportunity for you to read the Bible 
through?" 

"Well," he answered, "Laura and I tried 
it; we took it up by books, but we got 
stalled." It was, of course, the colonel him- 
self who "got stalled." Laura, his wife, was 
a Christian, as has been noted, and her faith 
was not shaken by Scriptural difficulties. 

"What was your trouble?" Newgent ques- 
tioned, with a view to encouraging conver- 
sation along that channel. 

"Well," he said, "we got to the book of 
Job. I could not reconcile the book of Job 
with the idea that God is our Heavenly 
Father, full of love and mercy. If Job was 
God's child and a good man, as the Bible 
says he was, how could a loving father al- 
low a loving, obedient child to be so abused 
and tempted by the devil? I can't see 
through it." 

After he had delivered his speech on the 
difficulties of the book of Job, and unburd- 
ened his mind somewhat, Newgent drew 

222 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

near to him, and speaking very simply but 
earnestly, said: "Colonel, you are a great 
lawyer, but you are only a child in the 
Bible. Your trouble is that you commenced 
at the wrong place. When, as a little child, 
you started to school, your teacher did not 
start you in the advanced studies. She put 
you in the A, B, C class. Now, don't be in 
too big a hurry to get out of your A, B, C's 
in the study of the Bible, for there is where 
you belong. I have been making a study of 
God's Word for many years, and I want you 
to listen to me a while. I think we can get 
over the rough places after a while. Do you 
have any trouble with Jesus Christ? He 
was God's dear son, yet he had to suffer 
more than any man, but his suffering was 
for others. So we learn from Job's suffer- 
ings that he has helped millions to trust 
God in the dark." 

This was the colonel's A, B, C lesson in 
religion. The visits and conversations were 
continued day after day, until a couple of 
days before his death, when the truths of 
the preceding lessons were clinched in the 
following conversation : 

"Colonel," said the preacher, resuming 
their lessons, "you had one of the best moth- 
ers in the world, did you not?" He admit- 
ted that he had. 

223 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

"She taught you to say your little pray- 
ers?" 

"Yes," said the great man, as the tears 
started from his eves. 

"And vou never doubted her word?" 

"No — never." 

"That was simple faith in mother. Now, 
in your mind go back to mother, and though 
she is dead, look up into her face as when 
you were a child, and trust her as you did 
then. That will represent the soul looking 
up to Jesus and trusting him for salvation. 
That is all Christ requires of a sinner." 

As the preacher finished this little homily 
on faith, the colonel was weeping like a 
child. "Jack," he sobbed, "is that all there 
is in coming to Christ to be saved?" 

"That is all there is," and before the 
preacher could continue the discussion 
further, the light broke in upon the humble 
and contrite heart. "I've got it," he inter- 
rupted with much emotion, at the same time 
grasping the preacher's hand with all the 
strength his six-months' illness had left 
him. Thus, the man who all the years of 
his eventful career, bv his own wisdom and 
logic and learning knew not God, was at 
the last critical moment melted and trans- 
formed by the light from Calvary, and a 
great life was snatched as a brand from the 

224 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

eternal burning. The lawyer, the states- 
man, the scholar, the orator received the 
kingdom of heaven on the Savior's easy 
terms, "as a litle child," and two days later 
his soul passed into the presence of Jehovah. 

Rev. Mr. Newgent delivered the funeral 
oration. Men of prominence from various 
parts of the country helped to swell the 
vast throng that was present at the funeral 
service. The story of the colonel's conver- 
sion from skepticism to simple, saving faith 
in Christ was related by the speaker, and 
produced a profound impression. 

The paper with which this chapter is 
concluded refers to the life-long association 
of the two men, Johnston, the "young caval- 
ryman of Indiana," and Newgent, the "boy 
chaplain." It was read before a special 
meeting of the Steele Post G. A. R., and aux- 
iliary orders of Rockville shortly after 
Johnston's death by Mrs. White, the wife of 
Judge A. F. White of that city. Judge 
White was also a soldier and a life-long 
friend of Johnston and Newgent. The doc- 
tor referred to in the paper had served as 
a physician in the Confederate army, but 
afterward took up his residence in Rock- 
ville, where he built up a large practice. 
The three men were present with the wife 
when Colonel Johnston died, and helped to 

225 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

make up the scene in the death chamber so 
dramatically described in the paper. 

"LIGHTS OUT." 

"It is midwinter in east Tennessee in 
1803. The rivers are flooded, the valleys 
desolate, the mountain gaps gorged with 
snow. It is the home of mountain patriots ; 
it must be held at all hazards to the last. 
This is Lincoln's solemn wish ; it is a part 
of Grant's giant plan when Mission Ridge 
is stormed. A young cavalryman of Indi- 
ana is one of the ten thousand who keep 
freedom's vigils along the Clinch, the Hol- 
stein, and the French Broad. He munches 
his meager rations of parched corn; he rides 
the wild mountain roads night and day; he 
obevs to the letter his orders to hold to the 
last man the ford of a remote mountain 
stream. A buckshot buries itself in his 
wrist, making a wound which heals long 
after the war and a scar which he carries 
to his grave. The old flag stays in east Ten- 
nessee. 

"He has a comrade from a neighboring- 
county who shares with him the suffering 
and sacrifice of that desperate campaign, 
ne is the "boy chaplain'' of the brigade. 

"It is the same winter along the Rappa- 
hannock and the Rappidan. The snow, like 

226 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

a measureless shroud, covers the numberless 
dead of the debatable laud between the Po- 
tomac and the James. There is another 
soldier, a mere boy, a young artilleryman 
from the Shenandoah, who is one of the 
thousands who hold Lee's unbroken lines. 
His battery long since won its title to glory. 
It helped to clear the mountain gaps of the 
Blue Ridge; its red guns helped feed the 
fires which lighted up the valley of death 
for Pickett's dauntless charge. Ill fed, 
ragged, but inbred with the chivalry of the 
South, he is in it all. There is victory at 
Chancellorsville, but defeat at Gettysburg; 
but St. Andrew's cross still gleams blood red 
on the breast of the South. The Stare and 
Bars still flash defiance from Marye's Hill. 

"The young artilleryman also has a com- 
rade from the valley, a young trooper who 
rides with Ashby's cavaliers in all their wild 
forays. 

"Two flags, two oaths of allegiance, the 
culminating hates of a hundred years, sep- 
arate these two young soldiers of the North 
and the South. But they are not alien in 
blood, thev are brothers of the same race, 
Anolo-Saxon from the first Americans to the 
last. They speak the same tongue, their 
mothers read the same Bible, prayed to the 
same God ; their forefathers fought for the 

227 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

same country — Nathaniel Greene at York- 
town, Washington on Cambridge Heights. 

"It is midsummer of 1904. The cavalry- 
man of '63 is dying; not in the weary hos- 
pital of pain; not on the perilous edge of 
battle. More than forty years have passed 
since the grim midwinter of east Tennessee. 

"It is the home he has made for his de- 
clining years. The rooms are cool and 
sweet, a broad porch looks down a quiet 
street, familiar books are everywhere; his 
escutcheon over the mantel shows his soldier 
record from '62 to '65 — the old, old storv of 
duty and glory. A blue book on the table 
tells brieflv his struggle from the farm to 
the halls of Congress; the faces of states- 
men, kinsmen, and friends look down from 
their appropriate places on the walls. 

"The good right hand of the veteran lies in 
that of another; grief -stricken she keeps her 
vows, 'till death do us part." 

"A grey-haired man holds the other. It is 
the soldier of the Rappahannock. Lee's 
battery boy of '63 is the trusted physician, 
the medical confidant, and ministrant of the 
Union soldier. With all the knowledge of 
a learned and skillful physician, he has 
fought the common enemy for the life of 
bis dying friend. But the odds are too 
great. Old pains, old ailments, old wounds 

228 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

of '63 outmatch the medical arts of 1904. 
But the doctor has known the grief of de- 
feat before. Once a long time ago he yielded 
to the inevitable in the orchards of Appo- 
matox. He lays his ear close over the fail- 
ing heart to catch, if he can, its last linger- 
ing drum-beats in the battle of life. He 
places his fingers on the pulseless wrist, 
searching for its last faint throb — and they 
rest montionless for a moment on the old 
scar of '63. 'It is over,' he says very softly. 

"A low word of prayer for the widow and 
fatherless falls from the lips of the grey- 
haired minister at the foot of the bed. It is 
the 'boy chaplain 1 of the dead veteran's old 
brigade — youthful to the end. Another 
man beside him, thin-visaged and bent, It 
is Ashby's old trooper, and his eyes are full 
of tears as he walks slowly out of the room. 

" 'Lights out.' 'The bands in the pine 
woods cease. A robin sings close by, as they 
will in summer evenings; the fragrance of 
old-fashioned flowers steals in through the 
white window curtains. The sun sinks be- 
hind the church across the street, the 
shadow of its belfry coming in at the open 
door. And over all, Lincoln's worn face 
looks down from its place among the pic- 
tures on the wall. Even now with the hush 
of death upon us all, we hear his plaintive 

229 



The Experiences of Uncle Jack 

prophecy of long ago : 'We are not enemies 
but friends. We must not be enemies. 
Though passion may have strained, it can- 
not break the bonds of our affection. The 
mystic chord of memory, stretching from 
every patriot grave and battlefield to every 
living heart and hearthstone all over this 
broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the 
Union when touched again, as they surelv 
will be, by the better angels of our nature.' 



230 




BX9878.8.N5S6 

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