(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Whittles, Thomas Davis, 1873- Frank Higgins, trail blazer"

Google 



This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on Hbrary shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/| 



,iM- 



/• 



THE NEW YORK 

PUBLIC LIBRARY 



A8T«R, LK?fOX AND 
TlLhm ruUNOATLtlNI 
S L 



\ 



( 



J 



\ 



\ 






r 



\ 



'■ \ • 



\^V\\\\f^s 



FRANK HIGGINS 

■: EAST HE MIGHT, PERHAPS, 



FRANK HIGGINS 



TRAIL BLAZER 



BY 

THOMAS D. WHITTLES £ 

AX7TH0B OF 
"THE PABI8H OV THE PDOBB" 




DJTERCHURCH PRESS 
NEW YORK 



TBS NKW yij.'lK 

JlLhil>' I : .»L/ATiONS 
S 1U41 L 



OOFYBIGHT, 1920. BY 

INTEBCHUBCH WORLD MOYBMENT 

OF NORTH AMERICA 



To Leonard and the Teen Aqe Youth, 

LOVEBS OF HEROES, DREAMERS OF ACTION, 

WITH A HOPE THAT IN **UnCLE FrANK" 

THEY MAY ENOW A MAN SENT FROM QOD. 



H 



CD 





CONTENTS 




OHAPTBB 


TASU 


FOREWOBD 


ix 


I 


A Fishing Trip and What Oamk of It 


1 


n 


As THE Twig Was Bent 


13 


III 


Thf! Cat.t. to the Camps 


29 


iv 


Tjrarntng to Pt.at the Game 


41 


V 


The Ax at the Boot op the Big Tbees 


55 


VI 


Stbuggles Against Indipfbbbnob and 






Opposition 


65 


vn 


White Wbathbe and Winter Woods 


77 


VIII 


Preaching in the Pineries 


89 


IX 


Fighting for God and Bight 


103 


X 


Helping the Down-and-outs . 


117 


Xi 


And Men Saw that It Was Good 


131 


xn 


The Mares of the Master . 


145 



ILLUSTEATIONS 



Frank Higgins Frontispiece 

PAGB 

Logs ik the Winter and in the Spring . 6 



Two Methods op Transporting Logs 
The Lumberjacks' Dining-room . 
Interior of an Old-time Bunk House 
Transforming the Forest 
A Modern Camp in the West . 
Interior of a Modern Camp • 



'• 



22 
38 
70 
86 
118 
134 



PUBLISHEE'S NOTE 

Many of the interesting incidents and conversar 
tions in this volnme have already appeared from 
the pen of the anthor in **The Parish of the 
Pines, The Story of Frank Higgins, the Lnmber- 
jack's Pilof , published by the Fleming H. Eevell 
Company, by whose permission the same are used 
in this book. 



m 
%] 

lii 

ta 
i 



i 



FOREWOED 

For many years Frank Higgins and I were close 
companions. To my home he came often^ to rest 
from the demanding labors of the camps. To- 
gether we traveled the trails to the lumber dis- 
tricts and in the evenings preached in the crowded 
bunk honses. In the green-circled lakes of the 
northland we fished, forgetful of care; in the moxm- 
tain camps we lent each other the warmth of onr 
bodies when the nights were bitter and the cover- 
ing all too inadequate; under summer skies we 
slept side by side with the gossamer air for a shel- 
tering tent; and in many cities we unitedly pre- 
sented the needs of the camp mission. In work 
and play, in camp and city, in palace and shack, 
Higgins was always the same— natural, interest- 
ing, zealous for his **boys,*' a man among men, 
were they hoboes or millionaires. 

Many of the incidents narrated in the f o11ot«&- 
ing pages came under my personal observation. 
With all parts of his field of labor I am intimately 
acquainted through personal visits and investiga- 
tion. The material presented in this book was 

ix 



X FOREWORD 

gathered first-hand and is not a borrowed collec- 
tion of data. It is the testimony of an eye-witness. 

This is a brief introduction to the man I knew 
and loved; and with it goes the hope that all of 
my readers may derive inspiration from Frank 
Higgins' labors and feel a new interest in the 
lonely campmen to whom he gladly gave his un- 
grudging service. 

Thomas D. Whittles. 

Forest Farm, 
Ihduth, Minn. 



A FISHING TRIP AND WHAT CAME OF IT 

FRANK HIGQINS went fishing in Kettle 
River and was hooked by a big idea. 
Northern Minnesota, where the Kettle 
flows, abounds in evergreen forests, crystal lakes, 
rolling hUls, and clean streams. All the north 
oonntry is charming, bat when variety is added, 
as here it is, then ima^nation breathes deep and 
a new vision of beauty is bom. 

At Kettle River Frank Higgins found himself 
and found his future task — a task which made him 
known to the Christian church and to a great host 
of men who, by ax and saw, contribute to the 
world's comfort and wealth. And because Hig- 
gins found himself, thousands of lumberjacks 
found God. 

The glory of Kettle River has departed. It 



2 PEANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

passed with the fall of its ancient pines^ with 
the opening of its shores to the once forbidden 
sunbeams, with the retreat of the red men, and 
with the coming of the wide, nnshaded fields, now 
rich with grain. Not many years ago Northern 
Minnesota was a primitive paradise, undisturbed 
by noise of mill, unmarred by soot of foundry, 
while under the heaven-saluting trees the timid 
deer found a retreat and in the Kettle's waters 
refreshed themselves. 

There was vast wealth on the Kettle's banks; 
man needed the tall trees, and Kettle Eiver fur- 
nished a pathway from the solitudes to civiliza- 
tion, where lumber could be exchanged for dollars. 
So with ax and saw men entered the forest. Eude 
camps were erected near the waters, the crash 
of falling trees awoke the echoes, roads pushed 
broad brown lines among the evergreens — aU 
roads leading to the Kettle, whose quiet had been 
^ invaded by a host of shouting, swearing lumber- 
ja^sL^ 

"'^''t^onvenient to the river and to forest roads, 
tar-paper villages sprang into being, with stores, 
saloons, warehouses, shops, and every agent that 
caters to the endless demands of men. Good peo- 
ple supplied the honest needs of decent folk, and 
unscrupulous people preyed on the weaknesses of 
humanity. The best and worst were therOi and 



4 






WHAT CAME OP A FISHING TRIP 3 

often the worst were in the majority^ because law 
was weak in the new villages. 

Bammuy Minnesota, was new — ^very new. Large 
lumber camps grew up near its doors and Kettle 
Biver was not far away. In Bamum the restless 
lumberjacks spent their money and, while spend- 
ing it, created a wild havoc bom of whisky and 
evil. Here the camps bought outfits for man and 
beast; here the honest man found companionship 
and the vicious found here a place to ply his 
win. 

Among this motley humanity the Presbytery of 
Duluth established a churdi. Several missionaries 
labored here for a brief time, then passed on to 
more promising fields; for Bamum in its lusty 
youth gave little encouragement to ministers. So 
the litile church, balancing between life and death, 
was often without a preacher and often raised the 
Macedonian cry, **Come and help us.'* And 
Frank Higgins heard its plea* 

Higgins had met with many ups and downs. He 
was sure he was called to the ministry, but he had 
not succeeded in convincing others that the call 
was of God. However, he was willing to tackle 
anything, and the Presbytery of Duluth asked him 
to undertake this forlorn hope. The Presbytery 
hardly expected him to succeed ; there was little in 
him tiiat promised success and there was less in 



4 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

Bamnm on which to build successfully. Still, the 
church could hardly hurt Higgins and Higgins 
could hardly hurt the church, so the chances of 
loss were small. And then, he might be the man 
for the place I 

He was. The unpromising man in the unprom- 
ising village had been divinely selected to blaze 
a new trail. 

f — men the church people in Bamum first saw 

I Frank Higgins, they were frankly disappointed. 

f He did not look like a minister. His hands were 
big and rough, his face ruddy with outdoor life, 
there was a woodsman *s slouch in his walk, and the 

j lines of his face, kindly and laughing, bore little 

1 of conventional solemnity. An additional doubt 

! arose from his evident need of education, his 
faulty grammar, and his carelessly chosen words ; 

i while his thought lacked nicety, and there was the 

1^ elegifint of the street in his speech. 

/ The men of the village and the wandering lum- 
berjacks hailed him gladly, finding in him a choice 
spirit who did not shun them because of their 
weaknesses. His hand was open to the prodigal 

i loafer and to the careless vagabond. His rough 
I kindnesses touched even the vampire tribe that 
j live on the vices of men, and while he opposed 
1 them with all his power, they still gave him re- 
I spect. There was no doubt about it; Frank Hig- 



WHAT CAME OP A PISHING TEIP 5 

gins was ''diflferenf from any minister that 
Bammn had seen. 

Higgins never followed the usual routine; he 
was always doing the unexpected; and therefore 
he became a fruitful topic for discussion at the 
sewing circle, the back-fence f orum, in the saloons, 
and in the far-oflf camps. Everybody agreed that 
he was unusual. They also agreed that he feared 
neither man nor devil, and when he preached, his 
remarks had the force of a sledge-hammer. „ 

His religion consisted more of service than of I 
expounding theology ; his hand was more eloquent 
than his voice, and his heart gave greater help 
than his mind. Whatever else men said or thought 
of Higgins, they agreed that he was striving to \ 
make religion an every-day affair, and his love for I 
men was the motive power. r'"'^ 

In the spring of 1895, Martin Cain, who operated 
a camp of woodsmen on Kettle Biver, invited\ 
Higgins to his camp where the men were driving \ 
logs. \ 

*'YouTl find it worth while to watch the * river 
pigs' at work," said Cain, using the name by | 
which the rivermen are commonly called. 

*'It will all be new to me,'' replied Higgins. / 
**I have never been on the drive. I was raised in [ 
a timber country, but know nothing about the river ; 
side of logging." 



6 FRANK HIQOINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

^^And the fishing is not to be sneezed at," 

I smiled Cain, who had heard of the preacher's lav^e 

! for the rod and reel. 

' * * That settles it I I *11 go with yon the next time 
yon come in." Higgins was already antieipatizig^ 
the pleasure. 
A few days later Mr. Higgins accompanied tlie 

\ logger. He went, expecting fine fishing. He was 

\ led, nnoonscionsly, to his life work. 
'"TTte ride led through rough, cut-over lands, it 
bordered the lakes, and wound between the stumps. 
Settlers were few and far apart in that new coun- 
try, a coimtry rich with a wide variety of hill and 
dale, lake and woodland. But the river soon came 
in sight, and with it came the noise of grinding, 
grumbling logs as they caught in the shallows or 
bumped their way through the narrow channel. 

In midstream the rivermen were *' sacking** 
logs; that is, helping them over the shallows or 
directing them with pikepole into the deeper 
waters. The skilful workers leaped like squirrels 
from floating log to floating log, keeping their posi- 
tions on the charging, plunging timbers speeding 
through the white water. With such sure-footed- 
ness they performed this difficult task that it 
seemed easy, but only a master can ride the rush- 
ing, free-flung stream^ 
In a sheltered bend lay the wannigan, or float- 



I 



^ 



md' 



i FRF*; " ^jage 52.) 






PUi>i.iC UV l.\.,\ 



ASTOB, LKNffX \\n 

TILDBN F0[ NIU'n..NS 

S L 



WHAT CAME OP A FISHING TRIP 7 

ing storehouse, containing the necessary equip- 
ment of clothing, tools, kitchen utensils, food, and 
bedding; and near it, on the grassy, shelving 
shore, were the tents and the camp fire. 

Here, warmed by the blazing logs, the dripping 
rivermen ate their supper, while the ruddy glow 
of evening added comfort to the scene. In that 
sunset hour, as the lingering light threw a rosy 
glow over the drowsy forest and the never-sleepy 
river, Mr, Higgins received a strange request. 

The men asked him to preach. They were 
a profane, godless lot, whose careless blasphemy 
and coarse speech made the preacher feel that they 
cared nothing for religion or goodness. If they 
had asked him to join them in a poker game, it 
would have seemed consistent; but to have them 
ask for a sermon was, for the moment, unbeliev- 
able. 

* * It was the last crowd on the face of the earth 
from which to expect such a demand," said Mr. 
Higgins when speaking of the experience later. 
**I thought it was a joke. But they meant it, so 
I swallowed my surprise and delivered the goods." 

There, in the temple of pines, canopied with liv- 
ing green, columned with aisles of trees, Higgins 
preached his first sermon to the men of the north- 
em forests. The evening lent its * ' dim, religious 
light" and the quiet of the hour was on tree and 



8 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

water. Nature was worshiping, and sinful men 
would join in the Creator's praise. 

Mounting a log, Higgins opened the service 
without the aid of Bible or hymn-book^ and 

*' Nearer, my God, to Thee, 
Nearer to TheeP' 

rolled through the lacing evergreens like the 
waves of a mighty sea, as the men lustily lifted 
the song in the fading sunset. They were pleased 
with their own efforts and asked for more. They 
chose the hymns they knew best, — ^the songs of 
childhood, learned in the days before sin had 
marred their hands and hearts. They selected 

** Jesus, Lover of my soul. 
Let me to Thy bosom fly. 
While the nearer waters roll. 
While the tempest still is highP' 

It played upon the heart-strings as the men sang 
it in the far-off forest, their toil-hardened faces 
softened under the touch of memories. The run- 
ning stream and the quivering tree-tops faded 
from sight. They were boys again in the glad 
days of childhood. Over the darkening river the 
music of lonely hearts wandered into the dying 
distance, and the stately pines echoed back the 
earnest prayer, 

**0, receive my soul at last.** 



WHAT CAME OP A PISHING TRIP 9 

The song suggested the sermon, and Higgins 
spoke of Jesus, the Lover of Wanderers — Oman's 
great Lover, whose love is like a mother's, but 
deeper, truer, more lasting, and more rare. In 
Higgins' voice there was always a sympathy like 
a woman's, and his hearers were carried back to 
the days of mother and home and the springs of 
youth. While Higgins presented the tender story 
of sacrificial love, the night shadows gathered 
nearer and the flickering firelight played on ear- 
nest faces. Wishes became prayers, and longings 
were bom that became conversions. One of the 
** river pigs" who listened by the dying fire after- 
ward entered the Christian ministry. 

A second surprise came as Higgins was leaving 
camp. The rivermen asked him to come and 
preach again I ^^ '^ 

**We're off here in the timber and the church 
don't often come our way, but it's welcome," said 
one of them. 

*'If some preacher would drop in occasionally, 
he could give us a lift. The Lord knows we need 
it," laughed one of the rivermen to hide his em- 
barrasment. 

*' What's the matter with you doing the turn?" 
they asked. Did this incident bring to Higgins' 
mind a thought of Peter and Andrew leaving their 
fishing-nets to become '^ fishers of men!" 



10 PRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

f. Alter this invitation, the preacher often visited 

; the rivermen. Their work was strange to him, 

' but he joined in it. His unsuccessful attempts to 

[ ride the floating logs aroused their merriment. 

\When the preacher mounted a *' south-bound 

\stick,*' they joyfully awaited the moment when 

^*his reverence'^ would frantically beat the air 

$nd then disappear beneath the waiting waters. 

A dripping preacher was an unusual sight and 

fiiggins was often unusual. But laughter did not 

fetop him. He knew that men who labor with their 

pands give better attention to the man who is mas- 

iter of their art. He wanted their admiration so 

/they would admire his message the more. Many 

I sudden, chilly baths and bruising tumbles were his 

I before the rivermen spoke of the preacher as a 

I man of their own sort, but the coveted words 

\ came at last. 

' — -The ** river pigs'* often spent Sunday in Bar- 
num and Higgins wished to see them in his church. 
**When you visit the village I want you fellows 
to remember me,'* he said. *'My home and my 
church are open to you and you are as welcome 
as the people in town." 

Shortly afterward, three big rivermen, dressed 
in their working togs, strode into the little church 
and took seats in the rear. In those days the 
river pigs were more picturesque than now. 



WHAT CAME OP A PISHING TRIP 11 

Their garments were highly colored and the broad 
belts and high-laced boots added to the striking 
effect. Naturally, they created a sensation among 
the worshipers, and the woodsmen enjoyed the 
sensation. Bamum had seen thousands of lum- 
berjacks in its streets ; this was the first time it 
had seen them in its church. 

Higgins gave the visitors a whole-souled wel- 
come and his hospitality bore fruit in later days. 
The three men brought others, and presently 
Bamum began to look upon their visits to the 
church as a commonplace occurrence. The com- 
ing of the woodsmen proved to Higgins that a 
minister who wants a larger field must first take 
down the fence that encloses his present one; so 
Higgins got busy removing the barbed-wire en- 
tanglements that interfered with the desired in- 
vasion. 

The following autumn a delegation of lumber- 
jacks came to the preacher's home and asked him 
to conduct regular services in their camp. 

**We need you as much as that crew of drivers 
you preached to in the spring,'' said the speaker. 

As Higgins looked into their lonely, sin-marked 
faces, his big heart went out to them, for they 
were as sheep without a shepherd, and his promise 
to preach was gladly given. 

All the camps near Bamum were soon asking 



12 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

for Higgins. At that time, lumber camps by the 
hundred were operating in the state, and none 
save the nine to which he ministered were receiv- 
ing the gospel message. Higgins was finding him- 
self and the men were finding God. 



AS THE TWIG WAS BENT 

THIS chapter deals with the green and callow 
years of Frank Higgins' boyhood and car- 
ries the Lnmbergai^' Sky Pilot from birth 
to Bamnm, Minnesota. 

Frank Higgins, bright, sympathetic, and com- 
panionable, was a prince of good fellows, yet this 
prince was not bom in a palace. His first weak 
little cry was uttered in a hotel and it may 
have even penetrated to the "saloon end" of the 
building, which, as far as business was concerned, 
was the principal part of the establishment. To 
quote from Hig^ns, "I got a good start in my 
hatred for the liquor business and saw its results 
in early childhood." 

Back in the "60'8" of the last century, Samuel 
and Atiti Higgins ran the old Walker House of 



14 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

Toronto, Ontario. Both were of Irish blood. The 
wife came from Ulster, Ireland, when a child of 
four years. The husband, however, was bom in 
the Dominion of Canada. The nineteenth day of 
August, 1865, was a great day at the old Walker 
House. The proprietor celebrated the birth of a 
son and named the lusty youngster Francis Ed- 
mund Higgins. Francis Edmund was the sev- 
enth child of the family, the others dying in early 
childhood. 

Then came the death of Higgins' father, and 
during her two years of widowhood, the mother 
continued the hotel business, but it proved a losing 
venture. Finally she married John Castle, who 
moved the family into the wilds of Ontario, where 
they settled on land which had fallen to the boy 
Frank by inheritance. They took up life in an 
untouched wilderness with few white settlers and 
fewer adviantages. The land was covered with 
a forest of cedar, hemlock, maple, and birch. 
With laborious efforts, the growth of ages was 
squared into timbers for cabins and sheds, and the 
fields were cleared and made ready for the needed 
grai] 

The country was new and white settlers were 
distant, but the Indians were near, several camps 
*of them being on the Higgins homestead. The 
llndian children naturally became the boyhood 



AS THE TWIG WAS BENT 15 

friends of young Higgins. From them he learned 
the secrets of the bow, the arts of the wood, the 
ways of wild things, and the cunning craft of the 
forest breed. Once he secretly took a loaf of 
bread from his home and traded it with an Indian 
youth for a much-coveted bow and arrows. The 
theft being discovered, punishment followed 
which fixed all parts of the incident in memory. 
For three years the Indians lived near the home- 
stead. To them Frank was indebted for his fear- 
lessness, his love for forest and stream, and his 
largej^nship with the great out-of-doors. 

[dhiool privileges were rare. When he should 
have been at his studies, there was no school to 
attend; when the school came, only brief periods 
of instruction were allowed him. But this did not 
trouble Frank Higgins. He was not *^hankerin' 
for book lamin' ^^ in those days, and never burned 
pine knots that he might read the few books of the 
household, as so many great men are said to have 
done. He was more interested in nature than in 
printed paper, and the portals of the forest were 
more inviting than the doors of the schoolroom. 
He was wild and free, ignorant of the power of 
books, an unawakened child who needed a teacher 
to show him the world's great treasure-house of 
knowledge. 
At twelve years of age he took his place at his 



16 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

stepfather's side and assisted in the support of 

le family. The ground had to be cleared of trees 
and underbrush; there were rails to split, fields 
to fence, stock to tend, sowing and harvesting to 
be done — and every hand counted for much in 
taming the wilderness. The lad was strong and 
wilfingly lent himself to the demands. 

Most of the settlers were of English blood. 
They could not afford amusements, but they were 
willing to sacrifice for the church, and one was 
organized near the Castle home. John and Ann 
Castle gave it their united support and rejoiced in 
its coming. 

Frank's stepfather was a simple farmer with a 
large soul. He loved the farm and the neighbors, 
and thought it no sacrifice to spend himself for 
others. When there was no one else to speak in 
the schoolhouse, John Castle took the vacant place 
and willingly did his best to instruct in righteous- 
ness. Of education he had little, but his delight- 
ful desire to be of service impressed the whole 
community and inspired many a soul to love the 
truth. In his comer he let his candle shine, glad- 
dening many by its light. 

'* Under God, no man did more for me than John 
Castle,'' said Frank in later days. **It was he 
who led mother and me to the Savior, and what- 
ever of good is in me, is due largely to him.*' 



AS THE TWIG WAS BENT 17 

Do not, for a moment, think that John Castle's 
life was one of roses and sweet happenings, for 
Frank Higgins was every inch a boy — and then 
some I He was bubbling over with life, and in that 
life was all the mischief common to wide-awake 
boyhood. He loved his stepfather devotedly, but 
that did not save the head of the house from 
Frank's mischievous activities. 

Among the joys that came into the boy's life 
was the gift of a young ram. Frank immediately 
saw certain possibilities, and, with a devotion 
worthy of a better cause, he gave himself to the 
ram's education. He was more willing that it 
should acquire knowledge than he was to improve 
himself. The ram proved an apt pupil, learning 
with ease and forgetting little, and the boy was 
immensely proud of its attainments and not a 
little vain over his own ability as a teacher. But 
the neighbors never entered the Castle dooryard 
without first making sure that the way of retreat 
was open and a place of refuge near at hand. 
And there were times when a refuge was needed. 

One evening when nature smiled peacefully on a 
tired world, Frank, near the bam, was playing 
with the ram ; not far away John Castle, wrapped 
in meditation, milked the cow. The eyes of the 
boy fell on the poetic picture of the quiet cow, the 
thoughtful milker, and the rapidly filling pail. It 



18 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

suggested an idea — an idea that would not down. 
Frank was tempted; and Frank was more prone 
to yield to temptation that promised fun than he 
was to resist it. 

He saw a chance for a practical joke and he took 
it. The ram seemed to catch the idea, and — ^with 
a quick rush — ^it scattered stool and pail and milk 
and man. 

When John Castle emerged from the confusion 
and took his bearings, the real cause of the dis- 
turbance was hugging himself behind the barn, 
and the sheep was innocently grazing in the near- 
by garden. In later years, when one of his own 
sheep treated Higgins to the same surprise, he 
remembered the boyhood incident and remarked, 
as he readjusted himself, * * It was a long time com- 
ing, but that ought to square John Castle's ac- 
count against me.'* 

Long before his conversion, Frank Higgins 
cherished a secret and unsuspected ambition. He 
wanted to preach ; he wished it with all the power 
of his soul. There was nothing in his every-day 
life that suggested his desire, for he was harum- 
scarum, prankish, and cared nothing for books; 
nevertheless, the desire was fixed. The ministers 
who passed through the settlement stopped at 
Frank's home, and to their visits may probably 
be traced the origin of his wish. It could hardly 



AS THE TWIG WAS BENT 19 

be due to their talks with him, for he avoided the 
house when they were present, fearing the probe 
they too often inserted into his life. Yet he ad- 
mired these self-sacrificing messengers who came 
to cheer and help the scattered settlers and in his 
heart he wished to be like them. Some of the 
neighbors predicted that the boy would become a 
politician ; others who had suffered from his many 
pranks were positive that he would some day be 
hanged; but even the most indulgent of his friends 
never dreamed of the ministry as the outlet of 
his energies. The ministry is a life of service for 
others, and thus far Frank had not shown the 
spirit of a ministering angel. 

He wished to preach and preach he did; not 
to men, but to the stock on the farm and to the 
trees of the wilderness. Whenever he heard a 
message that pleased him, he tried to give it to 
his silent audiences, always making sure that no 
human hearers were near who could interrupt or 
gossip about it afterward. The patient cattle 
received his stirring words and watched his fran- 
tic gestures without protest, and the trees, being 
accustomed to the powerful winds of heaven, gave 
little heed to the shouting youth. 

Once, when working in a distant clearing, he 
felt that there was a fine place to preach a sermon. 
The stumps suggested a waiting congregation 



20 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

and he began to address them. It was a still day, 
and, as the enthusiasm of the speaker increased, 
his voice traveled over the field to the barn where 
John Castle and the hired man were working. 
Peeping through the cracks in the bam, they dis- 
covered Frank preaching as if his life depended 
on it. The watchers were amused by his actions, 
but wishing to hear his words, they crept through 
the imderbrush and hid themselves behind some 
stumps. The preacher, *' carried away by his own 
eloquence, ' ^ chided the stumps for their inactivity 
and useless lives. He bade them reform and bring 
forth fruits meet for repentance. Before them 
was the Land of Promise waiting to be possessed. 
** Arise !^' he cried. ^*Be men; step out and take 
possession.*^ 

The hidden listeners accepted the invitation, 
thrust their heads above the stumps, and looked 
solemnly at the speaker. 

Frank's arms stopped in midair. He was sur- 
prised into sudden silence. Then confusion seized 
him ; and he who a moment before was willing to 
lead an army of stumps into Canaan, fled to the 
shelter of the forest, pursued by the laughter of 
his listeners. 

When Frank Higgins was eighteen years old, a 
wave of religion swept through the sparsely- 
settled county of Dufferin and he was one of 



AS THE TWIG WAS BENT 21 

the first to surrender himself to Christ. With his 
conversion a new spirit was bom. Life was filled 
with a new meaning. He had been introduced to 
a needy world — a. world that needed more than all 
«lse his new-found Man of Galilee. 

Having found a treasure, he desired to share his 
wealth, and his labors with his companions re- 
sulted in the conversion of many. These young 
men organized a semi-weekly prayer-meeting in 
the schoolhouse, and Higgins took charge of the 
first gathering, speaking on the verse, *^To you 
that believe He is precious. ' * Loving companion- 
ship with God was his theme. Knowing the man 
that Higgins became, it seems typical that his first 
personal message after meeting his Master should 
have dealt with love, for love was the keynote of 
Higgins' whole ministry. 

Those schoolhouse meetings in that obscure 
community were destined to be of wide influence. 
Higgins became fixed in his purpose to preach, 
and others developed a similar ambition. Out of 
those little gatherings came nine ministers who 
carried the gospel into parts of Canada, the 
United States, and even beyond seas. With a few 
such prayer-meetings to-day, there would be no 
scarcity of candidates for the ministry. But per- 
haps it would be necessary to have present in each 
of them a lad with the spirit of Frank Higgins. 



22 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

With Higgins' conversion came a desire for an 
education. Books, for which he had heretofore 
cared little, became of interest. Two years 
passed, and when he entered the public schools 
of Toronto, he was twenty years old — a man 
among Children of the sixth grade. The lessons 
which the children mastered with ease were diffi- 
cult for him. All his life had been spent in the 
open. His hands were accustomed to the plow ; he 
was ill at ease with the pen. His poor progress 
shamed him, but gritting his teeth, he pluckily kept 
at his task. After five years spent in the Toronto 
schools, he returned home, a young man of twenty- 
five, no longer able to resist an overmastering 
desire to preach. 

A man was needed to serve the Rosemount Cir- 
cuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church. No one 
else was willing to shepherd the needy group, and 
Higgins hailed the opportunity as a real opening. 
He gave his best, but his best did not satisfy. He 
lacked too much. His deficiencies were too ap- 
parent. He tried hard, very hard, and failed. 
Higgins wanted to serve and no one wanted his 
services. **The powers that be'' refused to renew 
his license to preach and gave three reasons for 
their action : * * He was too ignorant, he was too old 
to study for the ministry, and he had no reli^on.'^ 
A dispiriting trio of reasons I 



THE NFW VOi:K 
PU&ilC LlKHAiiy ' 



ASTOR, LENOX aND 
TU.DBN KOlNDArXnNS? 

L 



AS THE TWIG WAS BENT 23 

This ought to have discouraged Frank Higgins 
and proved the folly of his wish. It would have 
crushed an ordinary man, but it did not stop him 
— ^it did not even slow him down. He knew he was 
too ignorant, but was trying to remedy that lack. 
As to being too old to study for the ministry, he 
remembered that Moses was eighty when he was 
ordained, and Frank was sure he could succeed 
before reaching that age I When they said he had 
no religion, he smilingly disagreed with them and 
said, with his quaint, penetrating humor, **I was 
there when I got it, and what I got then I have 
now. ' ^ He admitted, however, he was not * * overly 
pious, '* and that his ways were rough, like the 
woods he was raised in. **What I needed was 
education. They couldn't see my religion for my 
rough spots,'' he declared. 

Frank Higgins faced a discouraging condition, 
yet undismayed he looked for a way out, knowing 
there always is a way. News came from Minne- 
sota that preachers were needed in the new settle- 
ments, and Higgins saw his ray of hope. Since 
he could not write a convincing letter, he asked a 
friend to assist him ; and the letter they wrote re- 
sulted in his going to the Annandale Methodist 
Church as a lay preacher. 

When he left the Canadian home, his pastor 
said: **You are making a mistake, Frank. You 



24 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

will make a good layman. You are not cut out for 
the ministry. You will soon be home again.*' 
Frank squared his shoulders and determined to 
make his friends false prophets and to prove him- 
self a preacher. 

At Annandale he labored for two years, handi- 
capped by his lack of training but doing good 
work in spite of it. Finally, at the age of twenty- 
seven, he entered the preparatory department of 
Hamline University where, to use his own descrip- 
tion, he became a ** second year prep with two 
back studies.'' During these two years at Ham- 
line, he supported himself by preaching in the 
near-by villages. 

A story still current among the ^*old grads'' 
of Hamline has to do with Frank Higgins* first 
day in that school. Somewhere Higgins got the 
idea that clothes were of paramount importance, 
and by careful economy he had secured a **top 
haf and a Prince Albert coat. Clothed as he 
thought a preacher ought to be, he strolled about 
the campus, proud of his dearly-bought finery. 
The upper-classmen saw the new student, and the 
top hat was soon reduced to fragments. But this 
was not the end of a perfect day. Higgins caught 
the ringleader, joyously fell upon him as Samson 
upon the Philistines, and avenged the fate of the 
hat 



AS THE TWIO WAS BENT 25 

President Bridgeman heard of the fight and 
Bunimoned Higgins to his office. Late in the day, 
after his last class, Frank appeared before the 
president. 

**I sent for you this morning,*' said Dr. Bridge- 
man, emphasizing the word ** morning.^* 

**I came as soon as I got through my classes,*' 
replied the student innocently, taking a seat and 
making himself comfortable. 

**You have been fighting.** 

*'Yes. A fellow smashed my hat,** came the 
matter-of-fact answer. 

A twinkle of merriment passed over the face of 
Dr. Bridgeman, but he suppressed it and began 
severely, **We cannot tolerate fighting on the 
campus ** 

* * But he smashed my hat 1 * * 

**It is against the rules and we caimot condone 
any acts of rowdyism. You must control your 
tendencies. Do you hear me! You must control 
yourself.** 

*'But the fellow smashed my hat. Doctor. He f 
smashed my hat I * * ' '^ ' 

Dr. Bridgeman took refuge in his handkerchief ; 
the innocence of the new student was delightfully 
refreshing. But the dignity of the school had to 
be maintained, so he began again, hoping to make 
a better impressioUi **We shall have to discipline 



26 FRANK HIQQINS: TRAIL BLAZER 



you for fighting on the campus ; it is forbidden, 
and you must bear in mind '* 

**But my hat, Doctor I He smashed my hat!'* 
Higgins was describing the destruction of his hat 
in gestures. 

**Mr. Higgins,'' said the president, and his tone 
carried a seriousness he was far from feeling, 
**the hat has nothing to do with the case. The 
rules say *no fighting' and you have broken 
them." 

**But the fellow smashed my hat. What's a 
fellow going to do when a fellow smashes his 
hat!" 

** Fighting is the point, Mr. Higgins. Stick to 
the point." 

Higgins did ; he repeated it. * * He smashed my 
hat — a high silk hatl" His voice was tragic with 
grief. Dr. Bridgeman exploded; the defensive 
handkerchief could not cover his mirth. 

**You may go. But remember — ^no fighting on 
the campus. ' ' 

^'Tell them not to smash my hat," said Higgins 
as he closed the door. 

It was unnecessary for Dr. Bridgeman to pro- 
tect Higgins ' hat by proclamation. 

Higgins had been brought up in the Presby- 
terian Church. He reentered its service when he 
left Hamline University and went to Barnum, 



AS THE TWIG WAS BENT 27 

Minnesota. There, as an unordained man, he min- 
istered to the Presbyterian mission. Duluth Pres- 
bytery assigned him special studies as a candidate 
for the ministry, and the long grind for ordina- 
tion began. 



THE CALL TO THE CAMPS 

IN the building of Imnber towns, custom had de- 
creed that art and morals be ignored. ' ' Catch- 
as-cateh-ean" and "go-as-you-please" were 
the undefined rules of action. At a later day, there 
is much that posterity would prefer to forget, and 
posterity seldom presents the "illustrious first 
citizens" as proper examples for aspiring youth. 
Now Bamum, while not as bad as it might have 
been, was not so good as it should have been; it 
was better than some in the same environment, 
but Bamnm began as a lumber town and that is 
sufScient description. 

The life there gave Higgins a chance he could 
not disregard. It was a notable place in whic^ to 
6ght for righteousness. Higgins was of Ijish 
blood; and it is said, perhaps with some element 



30 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

of truth, that *4f there is anything an Irishman 
loves more than a fight, it is two fights. ' ' Higgins 
entered the fray and gained in weight while fight- 
ing. He was not fighting for himself; that was 
not Higgins ' way ; he championed the fellows who 

knew not how to defend themselves. 

« 

Picking up the down-and-outs, bracing them up 
and encouraging them, was a part of his every- 
day work. They needed **brothering'' and Hig- 
gins liked the job./^ot long ago, an old friend of 
his, who knew him during these early Barnum 
days, related this stoTjj^n old settler had been 
/ kickeil ouf 'of a saloon where he had become rum- 
/ soaked, filthy, and penniless. He needed a bath 
j and Higgins generously applied it. He needed a 
/ friend and Higgins volunteered. The preacher 
sobered him, clothed him, and, among other neces- 
sities, gave him a pair of socks that his mother 
had knitted. The socks did the business; they 
warmed the settler's feet, and his heart too, and 
stirred his will to a new resolve. *'God helping 
me,'' he said, **I'll never take those socks into a 
saloon." And he kept his vow. Whenever he 
went to town, he took the protecting socks from 
their sanctum, shod himself against temptation, 
and went into the presence of the grog-shops 
unafraid. _ 
'Tii all that north country, no welcome came to 



\ 



THE CALL TO THE CAMPS 31 

the lumberjacks from clean men. The saloons 
were open to them, wide open ; the gambling dens 
received them gladly and vice was cordial with 
smiles. But organized religion had nothing to 
offer, — no message, no greeting. The church had 
an evangel for the towns, but nothing for the 
woods. Men lived there by the thousands, but 
they were inaccessible ; the task of reaching them 
was a toilsome and thankless one, and the devil 
was left in full swing. 

Down in Higgins ' heart a great restless longing 
was at work. It would not down. He hoped 
for a new day for the neglected men. He labored 
and prayed for a change wherein the church, with 
the help of the Man of Galilee, would show itself 
a brother to the woodsmen. 

The government had thrown open large tracts 
of land to settlement, and, in visiting the camps, 
Higgins passed the cabins of the homesteaders. 
They were far from town and far from neighbors. 
They waged a constant fight against poverty, lone- 
liness, and the forces of nature. Oftentimes they 
came to a bunk house service, that being their only 
opportunity to hear the gospel. Higgins visited 
their cabins, leaving a magazine, a prayer, and a 
word of cheer. He was their link to the outside 
world, their only representative of the church of 
Christ. rOn one occasion, being overtaken by a 



32 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

blizzard, he found shelter in a homesteader's 
shack. The place was poor and clean. Poverty- 
showed its empty hand. The family consisted of 
the father and two sons, the mother having died a 
few weeks before. Distance and an empty purse 
had forbidden the calling of a physician, and her 
casket was a rnde box made by loving hands. 

**If we conld only have given her a Christian 
burial,'* said the husband, *'we would feel better. 
She was a good woman, and a Christian, and we 
could not do even that for her.'* Higgins led 
them out to the white-mantled mound in the clear- 
ing and, standing by the snow-covered cross, he 
held the longed-for service. The tears that 
coursed the mourners' cheeks spoke of hope and 
immortality, for the pains of parting had been 
soothed with healing balm. 

In the town and in the byways of the forest, 
Bamum's unordained preacher was a busy man. 
Higgins became enthusiastic in the new work and 
was often gone a week, speaking to a different 
group each night. Once, in his desire to reach 
other camps, he forgot that Sunday was near, and 
when the village congregation assembled, there 
was no minister. 

** Didn't you have service!" asked Higgins 
when he returned. 

'* There was no one to lead us," they explained. 



THE CALL TO THE CAMPS 33 

"Can't professing Christians praise God tinless 
they have a poor chap like me to direct them! 
There's evidently not much danger of the world 
_^^^fiiByE.evangelized from this point. ' ' 

All his experiences were leading him into his 
life work. He did not know it, but the choice 
was being made by movements with which God 
worked his miracles and his will. **I could not 
understand,'' said he, years afterward, **why I 
should go to Bamum. Had I been permitted, I 
should have chosen a farming community rather 
than a logging village. There seemed no chance 
to advance ; and I had an eye on big churches in 
those days. I appeared to be going on blindly 
and aimlessly. Now I look back and see a kindly 
Providence leading." 

Incidents and affections were calling him to a 
new ministry. The ties of the woods ' life were be- 
ing woven around his heart. At the funeral of an 
unknown lumberjack who had met his death by 
a falling limb, the preacher was overcome by emo- 
tion. Out in the lonely forest, strangers were 
burying some ** mother's boy," and no word of 
his passing was likely to reach her. These men 
had little in life, and the future held no joyful 
hope. **God helping me," he prayed standing 
there by the solitary grave, **I will do something 
to brighten their days and put hope into their to- 



34 FRANK HIQGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

morrow. If you can use Frank Higgins more, 
Lord, just show him how. ' ' 

While at Barnum, Mr. Higgins married Miss 
Eva L. Lucas, of Rockford, Minnesota, and en- 
couragement and effectiveness were added to the 
work in village and camps. The bride often ac- 
companied him to the lumber camps where she 
presided at the little portable organ. 
— Trfiese were demanding days. The salary was 
small and the work was great — a condition too 
common in the mission fields. Higgins was trying 
to master the studies assigned him by the Presby- 
tery; there were always new sermons to prepare, 
calls to make, and unexpected appeals to satisfy. 
But his physical strength was unlimited ; he loved 
action and responded to the opportunities with a 
smile. 

One night two campmen came to the manse with 
an urgent request. 

**We want you quick,'' they said. **WeVe 
brought Will Lee from the camp to his homestead. 
He's asking for you. He's a mighty sick man. 
Can you come at once f ' ' 

Mr. Higgins hastened through the forest, ac- 
companied by the messengers. The doctor met 
them at the door. 

**If we could get Lee to St. Luke's Hospital in 
Duluth," said he, ** there might be a chance for 



THE CALL TO THE CAMPS 35 

him. There is no chance for him in this shack. 
What shall we do!'' 

**I'll get him through,'' replied Higgins, always 
ready in emergencies. They bundled the patient 
snugly into a sleigh and took him to the night 
train, the preacher accompanying him to the hos- 
pital. 

But all their efforts were vain. After a careful 
examination the physician could give no hope. 
Lee was beyond the help of man, and Higgins 
gently told him of the coming end. 

The lumberjack, untroubled, looked into the 
flooded eyes of the minister and with a smile said : 
** Thank God you came to the camp — that night. 
I heard you preach of the Savior. I wanted to 
know him. It was the first time in twenty years I 
had heard the gospel. ... I was raised in a 
good home and that night the Christian teaching 
came back to me. . . . When the lanterns were 
put out and the bunk house was still, I got on my 
knees and prayed God to forgive me the past 
. . . and make me a better man. . . . Jesus 
Christ brought his strong salvation to me. I was 
forgiven. ' ' 

He paused. Eternity was dawning. 
Mr. Higgins, go back to the camps . . . and 
tell the boys the story of Jesus Christ. ... Go 
^ack and tell them the old story. . . . They need 



36 PRANK HIQGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

it worse than the towns do. . . . Tell them that 
Jesns can make them live. . • • Go back to the 
camps. ' ' 

Will Lee ceased to speak, his breath fluttered, 
and the spirit returned to the Giver. 

The plea of the dying lumberjack rang in the 
preacher's ears; the desire was in his heart. But 
what of his long-cherished dreams of big churches 
and the comforts of home! To **go back to the 
camps ' ' was to leave all this behind, to live a life 
of sacrifice in the forest. That night all Higgins ' 
plans changed as he walked the hospital corridors. 
Bough men became his future hearers, the long, 
rambling camps his church, his parish was in the 
ways of the wilderness — for that night Frank 
Higgins consecrated himself to the service of God 
in the logging camps. The field of his future work 
was plainly indicated. 

But Higgins knew that he was not yet ready 
to devote all his time to camp work. He viewed 
it, however, from a new angle. It was no longer 
an incident in his life, but the field for all his 
future action. With growing interest he studied 
the lumber industry and found it to be far more 
extensive than he had imagined. He was sur- 
prised to learn that it covered vast areas in many 
states. The needs of the men were everywhere 
the same; the church neglected them and the 



THE CALL TO THE CAMPS 37 

vicious preyed on their weaknesses and fattened 
on their labor. 

It was hopeless, this field of the woods; and 
what was one preacher among the hundreds of 
thousands who made the camps their home 1 But 
Higgins had given himself to it, and he would do 
his best. So he bent himself to the studies that 
the Presbytery had assigned him and prayed for 
the opening of the way. 

Where could he get the money to finance the 
new work if he undertook it! He had nothing 
save the pittance he received for serving the Bar- 
num church, and if he devoted all his time to the 
camps, the pittance would be cut off. The Mission 
Boards were not doing anything of this nature, 
and many of the ministers to whom he imparted 
his new ambition only smiled and said, ** Stick to 
the regular work. No organization will ever put 
money into the changing camps where nothing 
permanent can be established.*' As if souls were 
of value only as they numerically strengthened 
the church I 

But there was a way in, although Higgins had 
not suspected it. The dawn is messenger of day, 
and its first ray appeared during the following 
spring. He was surprised one day, on returning 
from the woods, to find his home crowded with 
lumberjacks. It was a motley, shamefaced, jest- 



38 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

ing crowd, hiding its worthy intentions under the 
guise of mockery. But the spokesman finally ] 
began : 

**Mr. Higgins, weVe dropped in to tell you 
weVe enjoyed your p^eachin^ The boys have 
elected me to make a spiel, but the saw is more in 
my line. YouVe treated us white; youVe given 
us more advice than we've followed, and youVe 
never asked to see the color of our money. This 
is no one-sided affair. We're no cheap skates. 
We don't want somethin' for nothin'. So the 
boys have chipped in and here's your stake for 
services rendered." 

Visibly embarrassed, he handed the preacher a 
check. 

During the speech there had been a dead silence, 
for every man wanted to hear the remarks. Then, 
breaking into riotous cheers like bashful boys, 
they rushed out of the house to the safety of the 
street and the near-by saloons. Higgins was left 
with a check for fifty-one dollars in his hands and 
a new light was breaking on his mind— it was the 
light of the way in. 

He had never asked assistance of the men. 
At first the campmen thought he was after **the 
dough." **It's another graft," they said. But 
service after service passed with no collection, and 
slowly the realization dawned that he was work- 



IS 



THE NEW YORK 

PURLIC LIBliARY 



ASTOR. LENOX AND 

TILDWI FOCNDATiONS 

L 



THE CALL TO THE CAMPS 39 

ing for their good and for that alone. The gift 
showed their appreciation and proved that they 
would assist the enterprise. 

Looking at the check, Higgins saw not the fig- 
ures but the opening portals of the parish of the 
pines. 



rv 

LEAENING TO PLAY THE GAME 

BEFORE Prank Higgins could devote his life 
to the camps, he needed a larger experi- 
ence- He did not go to the theological semi- 
naries to acquire this finishing touch; he moved 
to Bemidji, early in 1899, where he was taught by 
saloonmen, gamblers, grafters, and the rag-tag 
and bobtaU of humanity. It was a school of ex- 
perience — none other like it in the north; one such 
school was enough and too much. Higgins knew 
something of human depravity, but he was not 
versed in the merciless arts with which the 
money-mad spoilers fleeced their victims. Here 
that knowledge came in abundance; it could not 
be avoided or even dodged. 

The Bemidji church was three years old and 
showed no sign of intelligence, health, or activity. 



42 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

All it possessed was history, and it was too weak 
to tell its story. It existed in name only. There 
were bnt two members to help in the contest 
against evil, bnt they tanght Higgins many les- 
sons and aided his whole future. The evil forces 
of the village had driven out the former pastor 
because, they said, he had foolishly tried to intro- 
duce righteousness into the village. They also 
announced their intention to reproduce that stir- 
ring event in case another minister came to fill the 
vacancy. They were running the town ; the pres- 
ence of a preacher was embarrassing and they did 
not care to be embarrassed. A preacher had no 
)lac e in their plans. 

Frank Higgins arrived. The news of his ad- 
vent went abroad and the underworld heard of it. 
A short time afterward, he was standing on the 
corner of the main street, when he was rudely ac- 
costed by a loudly dressed gambler. 

^* Who 're youf demanded the intruder, who 
apparently Imew without asking. 

*'I'm Higgins, the new minister of the Presby- 
terian Church. '' 

**Well, you won't last long,'' retorted the gam- 
bler with an insulting oath. ''We drove out the 
other chap. You'll have to go pretty double- 
quick, too." 

' ' Well, I guess it 's my play, ' ' quietly announced 



LEABNINO TO PLAY THE GAME 43 

HigginSy ^^and here is where I give notice that I 
stay and call your bluff/' 

Higgins' closed fist followed his words. It 
landed very nngeotly on the diamond-studded 
shirt-bosom of the gambler, who responded to the 
impact by leaving the sidewalk and reclining on 
his back in the gutter, ip^here he waved his feet in 
the air and frantically called for help. It was a 
gala day for the temperamental lumberjacks. 
This was * * some preacher 1 ' ' They congratulated 
him on his punch and laughed encouragement to 
the man in the mud. 

The town marshal hurried into the crowd. 

** What's the matter with youf he demanded 
of the preacher. 

** Nothing the matter with me,'' replied the un- 
disturbed Higgins. * * There seems to be some- 
thing the matter with that fellow down there. I 'm 
all right." 

The lumberjacks sanctioned what the preacher 
had done, so the marshal quickly decided that dis- 
cretion was the better part of valor, and helped 
the gambler home, leaving Higgins to his ad- 
mirers who were already enlarging on the punch 
of the preacher and stimulating the growth of a 
story that would lose nothing by repetition. 

When the lawless element thought the matter 
over, they came to the conclusion that they had 



r 



44 FEANK; HIGQINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

made a mistake in driving out Higgins' prede- 
cessor. ''flTe was only a preacher, but this fellow 
is a preacher with a mighty heavy fist — and the 
Lord only knows what he has up his sleeve!" 
Yes, they had made a mistake ; there was no doubt 
about it. 

Nature had done her best for Bemidji ; man had 
done his worst. Lakes of crystal clearness 
bounded the little town, and the Father of Waters 
linked the lakes together and received the over- 
flow. Green-crowned pines guarded and beauti- 
fied the margins, and the blessing of clean air and 
'golden sunshine contributed. The place was one 

** Where every prospect pleases, 
And only man is vile.*' 

At that time Minnesota's logging interests cen- 
tered in Bemidji. Thousands of lumberjacks 
worked in the neighboring camps. It was an ideal 
situation for the low, degraded tribe that had in- 
vaded the place with their saloons, gambling dens, 
and resorts. Law had not arrived ; order was no- 
where in sight. The greatest men there were 
those who best served themselves. Success in 
money-making, regardless of methods, secured 
the highest commendation. Moral ideas were 
topsy-turvy. To outsiders, Bemidji was badly in 
need of the church, but Bemidji was not conscious 



LEARNING TO PLAY THE GAME 45 

of the need, Bemidji was sure of itself, and 
sufficient to the day was the evil thereof. Being 
young and lusty, boisterous and absolutely reck- 
less, thejglace was not craving moral improve- 
ment. [You could buy anything in the town but 
goodness"or a blush._^hat day is past and gone 
forever. Bemidji now keeps step with moral 
progress and contributes to humanity's well- 
being. 

Frank Higgins was sent there because such a 
man was badly needed. He had made good at 
Bamum where conditions were bad ; it was hoped 
he would make good at Bemidji where conditions 
were far worse. 

Prior to his coming, a church building had been 
erected and only partly finished. Bemidji at that 
time was enthusiastic about building anything but 
churches. Saloons were appreciated more. It 
patronized more than forty of them and left un- 
finished its only church. 

Because he could not find a suitable home, Hig- 
^s moved his family into the unfinished church. 
Most of the houses at that time were tar-paper 
shacks and gave inadequate protection from the 
intense cold of winter. 

The new minister was a citizen as well as a 
preacher. He got into the life of the whole town. 
There was need of a change of government and 



46 PRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

he intended to hasten the day of its coming. In 
the pulpit and in the street he fought vice all the 
year. He was defeated time and again but never 
beaten. He fought with his back to the wall but 
never showed his back to the enemy. Everybody 
knew where Higgins was, how he stood, and what 
he was doing. And he enjoyed the fight, for was 
he not Irish) When he lost, he lost like a real 
sport, and the manner of his losing made him 
more friends than his arguments. He worked on 
cheerfully, in spite of seeming defeat. 

^^He never sours, he fights clean and open, and 
he smiles whether he wins or loses,'' said one of 
the opposition. **That makes him friends on 
every hand. He's the only reformer that I ever 
feel sorry to see beaten. It takes the fun out of 
our victory.'' 

Bemidji's cardinal belief w^s, 

** There is a tide in the affairs of men 
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune," 

and on that tide of booze the dvic ship of state 
floated, with its cargo of kegs, bottles, roulette 
wheels, dice boxes, and red paint. The town 
dreaded a drought and therefore made a gala day 
whenever a new saloon was opened. To these 
grand openings, invitations were issued, and the 
new minister was not omitted. Bemidji, to say 



\ 



LEARNING TO PLAT THE GAME 47 

the least, was entirely democratic ! The town of- 
ficials were the chief guests, speeches on Ameri- 
canism mingled with free German beer, and the 
key to the new saloon was flung into the street, 
to symbolize contempt for state law, while the 
health of the new benefactor was freely guzzled. 
Those were great daysl The brewers and the 
undertakers did a rushing business, and the 
homy-handed lumberjacks furnished the money 
that made the mare go. 

Thousands of lumberjacks had to pass through 
Bemidji to enter or leave the camps, and the hard- 
working, hard-drinking woodsmen were the source 
of the town's prosperity. What they earned 
went into the tills of the saloons. If a jack was 
slow in ** loosening up,*' the ** knock-out drops'' 
soon put him in a condition where he might be 
** rolled for his stake." ^ "Snake-rooms" were 
provided in the rear of the saloons where the help- 
less jacks could sober up. If a man died from 
the results of his spree, or the drops, it was easy 
to forget, and many were forgotten. Death is the 
lot of all men, and sooner or later it gets us all, 
anyway; this was their convenient philosophy. 
Many met death in the saloons, more were short- 
changed out of their earnings, and others were 

1 To be " rolled " was to be robbed whUe in a stupefied oondir 
tion. A man's " stake " was bis pay. 



48 PRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

shamefully robbed, then kicked into the streets 
and told to earn more. 

Men with appetites for liquor feared Bemidji 
in those days; nevertheless, they visited it and 
met the cleaning-out process they knew was in 
store for them. Temptation was strong, and well- 
intentioned fellows went down to Jericho and fell 
among thieves. 

The good Samaritan, Higgins, was a busy man. 
The Jericho gentlemen worked on the job day and 
night to furnish bruised and penniless victims. 
The priest and the Levite continued their prome- 
nade on the other side. But great-hearted Hig- 
gins, poor of purse, with scarcely any salary, 
bound up the broken-hearted men, carried them on 
his back to the lodging-houses, and occasionally 
trundled them in a wheelbarrow to a place of 
safety. There he bathed them, put them to bed, 
and guaranteed the price. This was the Theologi- 
cal Seminary in which he prepared for the min- 
istry. Here he studied humanity in the raw. He 
was unconsciously writing Church History, and 
for Hebrew and Greek he substituted the polyglot 
tongues of his parish, — a, unique seminary course 
which led to the degree of **The Lumberjacks' 
Sky Pilot.'' 

A man can't do that sort of thing and keep it 
secret. It **just naturally runs over the edges" 



\ 



LBAENING TO PLAT THE GAME 49 

and makes itself known. Men came to Higgins 
for protection against their weaknesses. They 
brought their money and placed it in his keeping. 
They asked him to accompany them past the 
places of temptation and see them safely on the 
train. He became a barrier against which 
the strong waves of temptation beat in vain. 
Many a mother thanked God for that unknown 
preacher, when her son returned sober and un- 
spent after a winter in the woods. 

During Frank Higgins' first year in Bemidji,the 
church building was completed. The next year 
a manse was. erected and the family entered into 
its comfort. The out-station at Farley came into 
the building program during the third year and 
completed its church. Meanwhile, the Bemidji 
congregation had grown and needed larger equip- 
ment, so a new church came into being during the 
fourth year. This was an unusual record for an 
unordained man who was struggling alone with his 
books, hoping to obtain the coveted gift of ordi- 
nation! How he found time to visit the lumber 
camps is more than we know, but three days 
every week were spent in the camps, and nine 
bunk house congregations received regular ser- 
vices. It was evident that the Sky Pilot had the 
gift of action and did not use brakes. 
nSCarguerite Higgins was born during the early 



50 FBANE HIOGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

residence in Bemidji. She learned the ways of the 
home quickly. She could hardly walk when she 
began her first search for her father among the 
lumberjacks in the comer saloons. Although a 
sharp watch was kept on her, she one day stole 
away to find her father and was not immediately 
missed. After a while they found her in a saloon, 
singing her baby hymns to an admiring audience 
of closely grouped lumberjacks. Her little tight- 
closed fists were full of silver that her adorers 
had presented; but the best, the golden tribute, 
was the silence of those hard men who stood un- 
covered in the presence of innocent childhood. Iti 

may have awakened memories of the pasl ^ 

/'"'Smong the many lumberjacks whom Frank 
jHiggins had met in his camp visits was Will 
I McDonald, a Highland Scotchman. The seed of 
/ truth had fallen into McDonald's heart, but there 
I was no evidence of its sprouting. One morning, 
I in response to a call, Higgins hastened to the hos- 
! pital. There he found Will McDonald, bruised 
1 and broken, the victim of a fatal accident, his end 
^ear,.. The wild, rough life, with its many tempta- 
tions, its far-flung wanderings from home and 
God, was nearing its end, and thoughts and as- 
pirations, neglected until now, were demanding 
attention. 
Higgins tried to cheer the passing moments, but 



LEARNING TO PLAT THE GAME 51 

the woodsman, knowing that no earthly power 
could snflSce to save his life, said : 
^*T[?s no use, Frank, the jig is up, I'm nearing 
the landing with a heavy load. The road is steep. 
Do you think I'll make the grade f 

McDonald was a four-horse teamster, but on 
the steep ascent of this last journey he was help- 
less. He unconsciously used the terms of his 
calling. 

**Yes, Will, you can make the grade, but you'll 
have Ip look for help." 

**You mean I'll have to call for a team of 
leaders?" 

**That is it," said ffiggins, **but thank God, 
McDonald, you have the greatest leader to give 
you a lift — ^the Lord Jesus Christ." 

Tffien the preacher read the story of the prodi- 
gal son, the promises to those who ask help, and 
that text of texts, **God so loved the world, that 
he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever be- 
lieveth on him should not perish, but have ever- 
lasting life." And in prayer he placed McDonald 
in the hands of God, with a plea for pardon and 
companionship. 

A few hours later, Higgins was again at Mc- 
Donald's side. The screen was around the bed. 
When 1Sie minister took the teamster's hand, a 
smile came upon the face of the dying. 






52 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

**You're right, Frank/' lie whispered feebly. 
"Jesus Christ is a great leader. ... I couldn't 
have made the grade without him. I needed him 
badly. But I'm goin' up easily. . . . We're 
goin' to make it, sure." 

McDonald was sinking rapidly and Higgins 
bent closer to catch the feeble words. 

"Tell the boys I've made the grade," he whis- 
pered, and, with a smile he reached the Hilltop. 

The days when Frank Higgins was to devote all 
his time to the campmen were not far away. The 
Presbytery had finally consented to ordain him. 
The Evangelistic Committee of the General As- 
sembly had offered support, and the campmen 
were demanding more of his ministry. 
r BSggins then decided on a "post-graduate 
I course" in the form of a "hobo trip" to the west. 
He knew the winter phases of Minnesota lumber- 
ing; he had seen countless great logs held fast 
by the ice, and he had seen them on their way 
down the river when spring had set them free; 
he was familiar with the winter work of the lum- 
berjacks, but he had not experienced their summer 
program. So Higgins, dressed as a working-man, 
mounted a freight train and moved westward. 
He labored in the wheat-fields of North Dakota, 
worked as a scraperman on a new railway in Mon- 
tana, the State of Washington entertained him in 



\ 



LEARNING TO PLAT THE GAME 63 

a freight-yard where he unloaded lumber, and 
Oregon loaned him a pick and shovel and watched 
the dirt fly. Then, as a deck-hand, he traveled 
down the Columbia Eiver to Portland where his 
trip ended. Li all parts of the west he met repre- 
sentatives of the Minnesota camps. He lived with 
them in work and idleness, in rebuffs and bounty, 
in travel and lodging-house, by freight train and 
boat, highway and coach. Their life was his in 
all save willing wrong. 

When, after two months, he returned to 
Bemidji, he brought with him a knowledge born of 
a varied experience. Now he was ready for the 
camps. For seven years he had carried on the 
work alone; now his denomination had promised 
support. He closed his Bemidji pastorate by an- 
nouncing: "I belong to the lumberjacks. The 
ight of the men is mine. May God give me and 
le boys his help.'' 



77' 



N 



THE AX AT THE BOOT OP THE BIG TREES 

NATURE matea the forest and man trans- 
f orma it to his own uses ; and the uses are 
as varied as man's imagination. .. 

Of necessity, logging was the first task of the 
pioneer. When the cavaliers landed at James- 
town, they at once began their labors by wielding 
the ax. Food they had brought with them, but 
shelter they most have. The PDgrim Fathers 
spent their days in felling trees and their eve- 
nings in sharpening their axes. The Dutch of 
New York, the Swedes of Delaware and the 
Quakers of Pennsylvania, all were axmen first and 
fanners afterward. To-day, the trails of the 
woo(femen have become the highways between 
cities. 
For many years, little attention was given to 
N 






^ 



y 



/ 



56 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

workers in the lumber industry, carried on in the 
heart of distant regions. It was a case of **out 
of sight, out of mind/' The toiler, in the far- 
away pineries, seemed of little importance. 

The details of lumbering are not lacking in in- 
terest. Into the distant pineries the worker hews 
his way, leaving behind him the broad ** main- 
stem *' of the logging-road. In Minnesota, where 
Higgins did most of his work, this ** main-stem'' 
is sprinkled with water which the zero cold trans- 
forms into a sheet of glistening ice, making a 
smooth road for the logging-sleds. 

Log or frame structures house the workmen, and 
all around the buildings is a rude collection of 
shacks, providing dining-room, kitchen, office, 
storehouses, bams for the horses, and shops for 
the carpenter and blacksmith. In the heart of the 
forest a little village arises. The clearing in- 
creases as the cutting continues, and the logs are 
skidded into convenient piles, there to wait until 
the haul commences, which is after the roads are 
hardened by frost. 

Huge loads are carried from the skidway to the 
landing, by means of four-horse sleds* As high as 
thirty-six thousand board feet, enough to build 
a good-sized house, have been drawn on a single 
load by four horses, but the majority of the loads 
are much smaller. The sled-runners are eight feet 



\ 



THE AX OF THE LUMBERMAN 57 

apart and on these rest the sixteen-foot ** bunks/' * 
The logs are deposited on lake or river, if the 
transportation is to be by water, or at the rail- 
way, if more convenient. 

In the highland logging operations of the far 
west, the hanling is done by powerful donkey- 
engines. A wire cable is attached to the log, and 
steam draws it to the engine. Another cable from 
a neighboring engine continues the operation until 
the log is at last placed upon the cars for its final 
journey to the mills. Owing to the large size of 
the trees, it would be impossible to handle them 
if it were not for the perfection of modem mar 
chines. Eastern logging mainly depends on horse- 
flesh, though the steam-hauler of the * ' caterpillar 
tractor '' type is used in a few camps. The far 
west is now almost exclusively given over to log- 
ging by steam. So rapid has been the change 
that there are old-timers still working in the 
woods who remember the days of the ox team — 
the period before the advent of the horse. 

In the old days, the bunk houses of Miimesota 
were fearful places, with neither comfort nor sani- 
tation, and wholly unfit for the housing of men. 
Eough pole bunks, filled with hay, adorned two or 
three sides of the room. Springs and mattresses 

lA bunk ig a piece of timber placed acrosB a sled to sustain 
a heaTj weight. 






58 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

had not yet arrived ; the blankets seldom, if ever, 
made the acquaintance of soap and water. In 
the center of the room was a huge stove, and 
above it were racks for drying clothes. In the 
evening this rack was decorated by hundreds of 
socks which the men had worn during the day. 
The ventilation was inadequate, a trapdoor in the 
roof being the only provision for it. To the odor 
of drying socks, the smoke of a hundred pipes was 
added, creating a haze perceptible to the eye and 
more than perceptible to the nostrils. 

A change for the better has taken place in re- 
cent years. More light, cleanliness, and ventila- 
tion have been introduced, and fewer men are 
housed under the same roof. There is, however, 
great need for further improvement, for the camps 
of the eastern states and the central west are still 
far behind the western camps, where housing has 
been carefully studied and better principles 
have been applied. 

The cook-shacks deserve a brief description, 
and a word about the food will help to enlighten 
those who still speak of pork and beans as the 
chief delight of the woodsmen. The dining tables 
are a sea of oil-cloth on which floats a squadron 
of enamelware dishes, ranging from small gun- 
boats to overflowing supply-ships anchored in the 
center. A vast variety of foods, condiments, and 



THE AX OF THE LUMBERMAN 59 

drinks provide for the keen appetites of the work- 
men. Everything is of the best, and there is an 
abundance of it. It is a land flowing with con- 
densed milk and manufactured honey. This conti- 
nent does not contain a better-fed class of work- 
men or a group of cooks more competent to appeal 
to the laboring man. The **No Talking'' sign 
proclaims silence, but it is an unnecessary an- 
nouncement; the hungry men, after hours in the 
clean air, are too busy with food to waste time in 
conversation. Only a low clang of table tools dis- 
turbs the quiet of the dining-room. Nevertheless, 
the absence of speech creates an uncanny silence, 
as the men ply the cutlery, with neither praise 
nor blame for the food. 

Part of the office is devoted to the wannigan, 
where clothing, tobacco, patent medicines, and 
common necessities are sold. Here also the bosses, 
the clerk, and a few others make their home. 

In the old days, when nearly all the men were 
American, the camps had a lingo of their own. 
A few of these descriptive words are still com- 
mon to the woods. The superintendent of a log- 
ging company is known as **the walking boss,'* 
while the camp foreman is the **push,'' and his 
assistant is the ** straw push.'' The clerk is an 
**ink splasher" or the ** bloke that makes the 
stroke." Cooks are graciously spoken of as **bis- 



60 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

cuit shooters'^ or ** dough punchers, '* and when 
below par, as * * stomach robbers. ' ^ The cook 's as- 
sistants are **flnnkies'* or **cookees," ** pan- 
wrestlers, '^ or ** hashers/' A carpenter became 
a ** handyman '* or **wood butcher.'' A '* shanty- 
boss" or *^bull cook" is the bunk house janitor, 
and the workman who keeps the ice roads clear of 
refuse is the '* road-monkey. " The top-loader is 
a *'sky hooker" and the visiting missionary be- 
comes a *'sky pilot." 

The lumberjacks are really lovers of the woods 
and lovers of the camps. If you heard them curse 
the isolation and the hard conditions, you would 
not think so, but although other lines of labor 
invite them, they return to the forest, season after 
season, to repeat the tasks they have performed 
for years. From boyhood to old age, it is the only 
life they favor, and the logging camp is their only 
home. Without ties to kindred or location, they 
feel a companionship- in the trees and rejoice in 
the keen edge of the ax. Having cast off relation- 
ships, they Uve purposeless Uves and their wages 
go for selfish, hurtful pleasures. 

The case of old man Bradley is typical. He had 
been forty-nine years in the woods and his age 
was sixty-five. But his frame was straight, his 
eye steady, his muscles elastic. It was difficult to 
keep pace with his long, swinging stride. 



THE AX OF THE LUMBERMAN 61 

**So this is your forty-ninth winter in the 
woods?'' he was asked by one who admired his 
splendid physique. 

**My forty-ninth. I'm sixty-five years old; and 
I know logging from the stump as well as by 
steam-hauler. ' ' 

**What have you to show for all these years of 
hard work?" 

With a smile he thrust his hands into his pockets 
and turned them inside out. * * That 's my pile, ' ' he 
said. 

He held an old jackknif e — ^with a broken blade ! 

** That's all." The smile faded. *^An' I'd have 
traded that for a drink of whisky many a time, 
only " 

He paused. 

**Wall," he presently continued, **my teeth are 
gettin' poor an' I need this knife to cut my to- 
bacco." 

A living, such as it was, and a broken jack- 
knife, for forty-nine years of labor ! 

**Who are the lumberjacks and where do they 
come from?" are questions often asked, as if this 
mass of men differed from the remainder of hu- 
manity. They are the sons of the farms and the 
sons of the cities. Every state in the union has 
contributed, and all the nations of Europe have 
sent their quota. In late years, the foreign ele- 



62 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

ment has become prominent, and the English- 
speaking jacks are found in the far west rather 
than in the east. 

One must not think of the lumberjacks as more 
ignorant than the people of the city. All classes 
and conditions of men are found in the woods, 
just as all types are seen on the city streets. One 
of the camp missionaries, at the close of a bunk 
house service, withdrew into a corner to read his 
Greek Testament. A woodsman seated near him 
watched him carefully, then reached for the book 
with the remark, 

* ' I can read that. ' * 

Loudly and proudly he began to pronounce the 
Greek, then to render the translation. The camp 
heard him and presently three others joined him. 
Each man in turn read and translated the text. 
Around that camp preacher were four college men 
who, in the fight of life, had been worsted and 
had sought the forest to hide their defeat and be 
forgotten. He is no fool who, after years of iso- 
lation, is able to read the easily-forgotten Greek. 
Wandering from camp to camp, working at com- 
mon tasks, is a man who has been reduced to in- 
competency by drink. In his home city, a promi- 
nent firm still retains his name, and the city to 
which he added prestige does not know his where- 
abouts or his reduced condition. The camps are 



THE AX OF THE LUMBERMAN 63 

hiding-places for those who have been overtaken 
by suspicion or who have committed crimes, 
sometimes against themselves, sometimes against 
others. There they remain, nameless and silent, 
working ont their redemption or willing to be for- 
gotten. 

In conversation with a campman, a visitor be- 
came aware of certain familiar references. These 
led him to inquire the name of the woodsman, and 
the answer led to further inquiries. He was talk- 
ing to a man who, a few years before, had been a 
millionaire. A sudden financial crash had reduced 
him almost to poverty, and then his name had 
been dropped from the public prints. He had 
gone to the forest and there had found himself and 
found his God ; and there he lives to-day, a bright 
light in a dark place, happier than in the years 
of plenty when he lived for self alone. 

The conglomerate of the woods is cosmopolitan. 
The best and worst are there — ^the drunk and 
sober, the rogue and upright, the infidel and Chris- 
tian. Upon all of them is the mark of isolation, 
and the great need is the Christ of Calvary to 
give them rest. 

Here is a curious incident of the North Woods. 
Higgins had one time been holding services in the 
Adirondack camps. A Scotchman approached and, 
with a whimsical expression, asked, — . 



64 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

**What are you knocking aronnd the camps for, 
and what is the idea of this preaching?'' 

Higgins explained that he was on a tour of in- 
vestigation and intended to arrange for regular 
services. The Scotchman looked at Higgins in 
astonishment. 

**Man,'' he said, **I have passed all my life in 
the woods and this is the first sermon I have ever 
heard in a camp. Lookl" he cried, at the same 
time pointing to the blackened stumps that marred 
the mountainsides. **In all these years that they 
have been logging, thousands of men have gone 
to hell while they did it, and the church never 
cared. I'm glad it's waking up at last.'' 



VI 

STEXTOaLES AGAINST INDIFFEEENCE 
AND OPPOSITION 

IF Frank Hig^ns had not been a big-fisted, de- 
termined man, insulated against discourage- 
ment, it is very probable that the logging camp 
mission would have died in his day. This vision of 
Higgins was accepted as a mirage of sunshine and 
sand; it was the dream of an impractical, uncul- 
tured fanatic But to-day the camp preachers 
have passed into the list of gospel necessities. 

Higgins' idea of going into the forest by-paths 
was very new, because many had forgotten a very 
old iniunction which reads, "Go ye into the high- 
ways and byways and compel them to come in." 
So when the Presbytery heard that its minister at 
Bemidji devoted much of his time to the inland 
camps, It looked with suspicion on the man and 



66 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 



his venture. Some of the ministers told Higgins 
plainly and bluntly that he was wasting valuable 
time and discrediting himself with the church. 
Others, very sure that they were right and equally 
sure that he was wrong, said that his duty was to 
the little mission church, and that his soap-box 
oratory in the btmk houses would not be tolerated. 
It was a pretty kettle of fish for a minister to 
wander through the woods, when he should have 
been sheep-herding in the village, and the sooner 
he got down to the real business of the Kingdom, 
the better it would be for all concerned! It did 

\ not look good for Higgins or the camps. 

\— ¥otl see, Higgins^ wayside ministry had a freak- 
ish cast. Consequently, it received little encour- 
agement. But of rebuffs he had many and to 
spare. He was advised to stick to the organized 
church and quit gallivanting in the woods. There 
was no promise of permanency, no possibility of 
support, so they said, and if the lumberjacks 
wanted the church, they knew where the churches 
were located. Everybody liked Higgins, though 
many thought him a fool with a will-o'-the-wisp 
for a guide. So they tolerated or ignored him — 
and he continued to smile and to preach in the 
camps. 

The camps were all the time demanding more 
attention, and he desired to give them more. He 



STRUGGLES AGAINST OPPOSITION 67 

alone could not supply the many clamorous calls ; 
others must share the task ; but for a long time no 
hand was extended helpfully, and he continued 
to labor alone. 
Higgins could hardly be called rich ; his only in- 
^^^QBje was his salary. When he first went to Be- 
jmidji, he was promised only three hundred and 
t.JSfty dollars a year. Yet with this scanty back- 
ingTlie borrowed money to pay the salary of the 
Eev. Ebenezer Ferry, who became first assistant in 
the camps. Later, when Higgins told the story to 
the lumberjacks, those big-hearted woodsmen con- 
tributed to the cause, and the borrowed money 
was repaid. Frank Higgins carried heavy bur- 
dens in the early days, burdens of indifference 
from the church and burdens of debt ; but heavier 
than all was the feeling that here was a wide field 
of uncared-for men whose souls were hungry and 
for whom there was no food. At times it looked 
as if he must take the advice of opponents and 
stick to organized channels. But the memory of 
the eager faces in the gloom of the bunk houses 
forced all discouragement aside, and, with fresh 
determination, he faced the task again. 

Churchmen were not the only skeptics as to the 
value of his work, for many of the lumber com- 
panies also looked askance on the new effort. The 
officials, knowing the type of men to whom Higgins 



68 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

preached, knowing their prodigal lives and their 
willing sinfulness, felt that the mission could not 
be successful. They said as much to him and said 
it emphatically, calling him certain names too 
sturdy for printer's ink. If Higgins had not loved 
the lumberjacks, these oft-repeated opinions would 
have discouraged him. 

Here and there a logging company would not 
allow him to preach in their camps because they 
feared labor agitation, believing that public meet- 
ings would be injurious to the whole industry. 
The spirit of unrest has always been noticeable in 
camps where the workers are unattached to family 
or place ; and a little spark might kindle danger- 
ous dissatisfaction among the lumberjacks. To 
such as held this view, it seemed best to keep the 
doors closed, even to the presentation of the 
gospel. 

The employers who forgot humanity or brother- 
hood in the worship of wealth, men whose methods 
would not stand inspection, and whose ways were 
more successful if separate from publicity, did 
not. care to have a preacher of righteousness in 
their camps, for with half an eye he would be able 
to find the ulcer spots that increased human misery 
and their own profits. 

The gambling foremen who spent their evenings 
in fleecing the workmen, by greater skill in the 



STRUGGLES AGAINST OPPOSITION 69 

game and less honesty of play, were among those 
who opposed the entrance of any advocate of the 
Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount 
as a basis of man's dealing with man. They gave 
no reason for their refusals, and to those who knew 
their lives, no reason was necessary. 

There were wheels within wheels. Honest con- 
victions and vicious motives both militated against 
the mission work, but sometimes the unexpected 
happened, and friends came from unexpected 
auajtfiia*/^Armed with a letter of introduction 
ftrom the camp proprietor, who looked with favor 
1 on the work, Frank Higgins once went to a camp 
I near Kelliher, Minnesota. He inquired for the 
Lforeman, in order to present his credentials. 
Meanwhile, the foreman heard of Higgins* pres- 
ence and started out to find the visitor, with the 
intention of speedrug his departure. When the 
two met, the Irish foreman, whom we will call Mr. 
Gjftdy, bristled: 
**Are you Higgins f 

**I am. Is this Mr. '^ 

**Yes, I'm Grady. What the rip-snorting do 
[you wantf 

**I have a letter of introduction from the pro- 
prietor," said the missionary, at the same time 
producing the' letter. 
**I don't give a whoop who you have a letter 



70* PRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

from, * * burst out the foreman with an oath. * * You 
can't preach in this camp. Get your things out of 
here withering quick and warm the trail. I won't 
have any blathering preachers among my men." 

Higgins looked at the profane babbler and 
quietly answered, * * I am in no haste about leaving. 
This camp has an added interest to me ^nce I met 
you." 

**Get out, or 111 throw you to blazes out of 
here 1 ' ' 

*'Not so hasty, Mr. Grady. Is your hospital 
ticket good! You might get hurt, for I'll be pres- 
ent during the disturbance." 

It would have taken a strong man to throw 
Higgins out of the camp, as those who tried it 
found. 

The preacher felt a desire to teach the foreman 
a little lesson in courtesy. But another considera- 
tion came to his mind. If he should administer 
the lesson, the affair would become known and the 
lumber jadis, who were the missionary's friends, 
would refuse to work, so the kindness of the pro- 
prietor would be repaid with loss. 

After Higgins left the camp, Mr. Grady met 
with a quick trial and conviction. The foreman's 
remarks had been overheard ; and when he entered 
the blacksmith shop, the smith suddenly dragged 
him over the anvil and kicked him out of the place. 



loll 



h 

It 



i 
■I 



THE Kh^-''' '''^''^ .^ \ 






« 



STRUGGLES AGAINST OPPOSITION 71 

When Grady picked himself out of the snow, the 
blacksmith added another kick and with it the re- 
mark, 

*^ There's an extra one for the way yon treated 
the Sky Pilot yesterday. I'll teach you to respect 
the clergy I'' 

a number of men left the camp, refusing to 
work for **a push who ain't got no decency." 

lere were tempests in many teapots. En- 
couragements land rejections walked side by side ; 
beckoning hands and clenched fists were always in 
sight. For a long time, opposition was more evi- 
dent than approval. But to Higgins it was the 
expected, a part of the day's work. Of course 
there were thorns, but the roses were fragrant and 
beautiful, and he stuck to the work he had chosen. 

Among the lumberjacks, the mission caused a 
division of minds. Eeligion was considered a 
town institution. The Ten Commandments be- 
longed to civilization, and to have them introduced 
in the woods infringed on personal liberty. The 
jacks had never bothered the church — ^why should 
the church intrude on them! Higgins was remind- 
ing them of sin and duty and God, and Higgins 
was disturbing their peace. As usual, Ahab 
blamed Elijah for the riot of conscience. 

To some of the men, the object of Higgins' 
preaching was plain. Why, they argued, should 



72 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

a man spend his time in preaching to them if no 
increase came to his church through added re- 
cruits! So the more bigoted of his hearers de- 
cided to block the movement by disturbances; 
and, as they planned, they promised themselves a 
merry time and for Higgins an active one. How- 
ever, when they ** started something,*' it was sure 
to be Higgins who finished it. His was a ready 
wit and a strong arm, and he never hesitated to 
use both when wrong needed a setback. In fact, 
he thrived on opposition and did his best work 
under it. 

A top-loader, influenced by liquor and his early 
training, one night so profanely expressed him- 
self that the service became a turmoil. 

**This is our church, boys, the only church we 
have,'* said Higgins to the men, and his voice 
was kindly and sad. 

While the men sang, the preacher tried to 
silence the aggressor but with no success. Evi- 
dently the text, ** Whatsoever thy hand findeth to 
do, do it with thy might,*' could here be applied. 
*' Absent treatment'' had not been effective, so 
Higgins demonstrated. With a rush he was on the 
disturber. Out through the door he projected him, 
and a moment later the man lay half buried in a 
snowdrift. 

The surprised top-loader brushed the snow from 



STRUGGLES AGAINST OPPOSITION 73 

his face and looked with sober astonishment at 
the mnscular preacher, then drawled, 

'*Say, Mr. Higgins, what church do yon belong 
tof' 

^^This church.^' He pointed to the door of the 
bnnk house. *'If you want to worship with us, 
come on in and behave yourself. ' ' 

'oodsman has been, and still is, the victim 
of trickery. He has willingly, but unwittingly, 
contributed to the profits of the sharper; he has 
fattened the purse of the pretended cripple; he 
has relieved the imagined distresses of a myriad 
petitioners. Because he has a big heart, he is an 
easy victim, and visiting strangers usually carry 
loaded dice. So, when Frank Higgins came to 
preach, it was considered another kind of swindle 
by which to fleece the wandering sheep of the 
forest. 

But Higgins asked no collection, suggested no 
gain for himself, told no pitiful story of his own 
distress or the poverty of a cause. He interested 
himself only in his listeners, their needs, their 
sins, their neglect of duty and Christ. And the 
outcome was amazing. It was more than that, it 
was confusing, for it unsettled all their precon- 
ceived ideas. They thought him a sheep-shearer, 
but no clippers appeared. Consequently, in a 
camp where he had not preached before, several 



74 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

of the men followed him after the service and 
slangily invited him to * ' show his hand. ' ' 

**We want you to put us next,*' said the spokes- 
man. 

**Next to what! '* 

*'0h, come across 1 What's the game! You 
ain't preachin' for nothin' an' you didn't ask for a 
hand-out. Let us in on it." 

And Higgins explained how, long ago, the Mas- 
ter commanded his disciples to go into the high- 
ways and byways with the good news of the 
Kingdom ; and how he, as one of the Master 's fol- 
lowers, was trying to obey. 

It was diflScult to believe. It looked too divine 
for this selfish day, but Higgins had **a way with 
him" — the convincing way of a man who carries 
his heart in his hand. 

In 1902 the Evangelistic Committee of the Pres- 
byterian Church guaranteed Mr. Higgins' salary 
and commissioned him to preach in the camps 
under their direction. This was the first recogni- 
tion that came to him from his church, and the 
heart of the lonely preacher leaped with encour- 
agement. But still there were doubters in the 
ministry, and these doubters were not silent. 
1 The Synod of Minnesota met in the fall of 1905 ; 
i and some of the members, who had been aware of 
/ this modem voice in the wilderness, felt that if 



STRUGGLES AGAINST OPPOSITION 75 

Higgins could be induced to present the story of 
his work to the Synod, it would sweep away the 
last barriers of opposition. When it was sug- 
gested to him, his face brightened with encourage- 
ment, but as he thought of his lack of skill as 
a speaker, a cloud of sadness settled upon it. * ' I 
can talk to lumberjacks, '^ he said, **but I can't 
speak to ministers. My grammar is bad and I 
know it. I Ve had little schooling, and when they 
hear me, they will think less of the work than be- 
fore. Don't ask me, boys, I'm afraid. I would 
do the work harm, and God knows I can't afford 
to do that." 

Those who heard Frank Higgins in his later 
years, when the roughness had been worn away 
and his speech improved, will hardly appreciate 
his hesitation in addressing the Synod, for time 
made Frank Higgins the master of his audiences. 
But at last, after repeated urging, and with a 
trembling foreign to his big, manly frame, he con- 
sented to tell his story. 

It was a story of work accomplished, for he lim- 
ited himself to experiences. Spiced with the 
breath of the big woods came the narrative, de- 
scriptive of his lumberjacks, their virile vices, their 
loneliness, the silent longings, the false delights, 
the simple pleasures of grown men who remained 
boys and retained the wishes of boyhood, pathetic 



76 FRANK HIGGINS: TEAIL BLAZER 

humor mixed with tragic, and the hidden divinity 
showing forth in brute men. As he warmed to his 
theme, simple pictures of strength and weakness 
crowded into the speech— of prodigals returned 
to the Father, of Magdalenes who touched the gar- 
ments of the clean Christ, of lonely hearts that 
leaped into laughter on the tote-road, of leprous 
men who found new hope in life. 

His hearers saw a new day dawn in the far- 
flung pineries. Men who before had been silent 
or lukewarm saw a service, perhaps not according 
to established methods, but effective in winning 
men. Here was a new field for the old, old story ; 
here, also, was a new worker with a real love for 
the lonely and forgotten, and his leader was the 
Christ of Calvary. And then the ministry gave 
him its hand. 



vn 

WHITE WEATHER AND WINTER WOODS 

I T T was the story of Hig^ns and his dog-team 
I that first called the attention of many per- 
sons to the missionary's unique work. Down 
from the north woods had drifted the rumor of 
a minister who used a dog-team in his visits to the 
camps.. 

"T^^orthem Minnesota, twenty-five years ago, 
forest roads were few or absent. Rails were not 
yet laid. The trails followed the wayward out- 
lines of the hills or clung to the borders of wilful 
streams. What more natural than a dog-teamt 
The narrow pathways offered a highway and Hig- 
giuB early adopted the idea, 
■""'^^r three years he had supplied the lumber- 
jacks with old magazines, carrying them by pack- 
sack. But the trails were rough and long and 



78 FRANK HIGOINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

the weight on his back was wearying. Finally, he 
secured a handsome pair of St. Bernard dogs, har- 
nessed them to a sled, and nsed them in the task 
of forest evangelism. 

The idea was practical; the dogs furnished a 
ready means of transportation, with no expense 
for stabling and little for food. If a railroad trip 
were necessary, the dogs could travel in the bag- 
gage-car and be ready for the drive to inland 
camps. At the end of thirty or forty miles over 

; the winding trails, the team appeared none the 

1 worse for the exertion. 

Barriers of prejudice were broken by the dogs 

themselves, whose beauty appealed to the animal- 

ovmg lumberjacks ; for Flash and Spark caught 

and held the affection of the men. On coming to 

a bunk house whose door was secured by a sliding 

1 latch, Higgins would drive right in, and while the 
men crowded around the team, he could explain 
his business and announce the time of his meet- 
ing. The dogs were protectors as well as workers, 
and many jacks who might have opposed the mis- 

\ sionary thought it best to be silent. 
^" jS^U the north is white and cold in winter, and 
to journey through the unmarked forest is not 
easy. No sign-posts point the way; the * traffic 
cop'* can not be consulted when doubt arises; 
travelers are seldom met, and the trails are easily 



^ WHITE WINTER WOODS 79 

blotted out by wind and snow. One time, on a 
trip to International Falls, Higgins lost his way. 
The trail disappeared as if by magic. Night was 
approaching and he had not seen a human habita- 
tion for hours. It was to be a night under the 
stars. With his dogs he had traveled far that day, 
and the last food had been eaten at the early 
breakfast. 

Close to a large pine stump the missionary 
built a fire, gathered wood for the night, and over 
the embers cooked a rabbit he had shot that morn- 
ing. Fragrant pine boughs made a comfortable 
mattress, the robes from the sled kept off the ten- 
below-zero wind, and soon the crowding dogs and 
their master slept under the veiling pines through 
which the cold, far stars peeped at the benighted 
travelers. The fire died down while they slept, 
and the timber wolves, scenting prey, boldly drew 
their circle near. The howling beasts and snarling 
dogs brought Higgins out of his dreams. Beyond 
the dull glow of the wood, the eyes of the wolves 
dotted the curtained night. The missionary 
hastily replenished the d^g fire. As it leaped 
into flame, the wolves lost their boldness and re- 
treated, the dogs ceased their snarling, and soon 
the silence was unbroken, save for the poppingA, 
balsam as it emitted protests in the consumingj 
flame. For the remainder of the night Hig^ms 



80 FRANK HIGOINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

kept watch, having no desire for a return of the 
wolves, and with the first peep of dawn he was 
np and away, A blazed trail, which he fortu- 
nately found, led him to the village of Little Forks, 
where he conducted the first religious services ever 
held in that place. 

In those long trips through the unbroken forest, 
Higgins often took his life in his hands. On sev- 
ieral occasions he was reported to have perished 
fe..the «de sweeps of ^broken snow. Indeed, 
many experienced woodsmen have paid toll to the 
blinding whiteness, and not until spring, if ever, 
have their bodies been found. 

With great gusto Frank Higgins often told this 
story of a lost trail and its sequel. To save time, 
he had taken a short cut from one camp to an- 
other. All went well for a while, when the wind 
increased in power, bringing the snow-clouds with 
it. Soon the whirling fury of a maddened bliz- 
zard was about him. Ail sense of direction faded. 
The dog-team looked to him for guidance, but he 
could give them no help at all. Left to their 
own will, they wandered about until at last their 
progress ended in the deep snow of a muskeg, or 
marsh. Here Higgins made a temporary camp 
and spent most of the day. The storm lessened 
before nightfall, and by rare good fortune he 
found a trail which led to a village. There he put 



WHITE WINTER WOODS 81 

the dogs in the hotel bam and went in to supper. 
When he returned with food, the dogs refused to 
eaty not even smelling at the dainties he had col- 
leetedi They had been hard pressed in the deep 
snow of the swamp, and he feared they had been 
over-driven. He loved these splendid helpers, 
these loving companions of the lonely paths. Per- 
haps the strain had been too much. He re- 
proached himself for carelessness, and there were 
tears in his eyes as he petted their silky coats. 
Again he visited them before retiring and again 
they refused food. They were even indifferent to 
his caresses. With a heavy heart Higgins went 
to bed and his troubled sleep brought him dis- 
quieting dreams that returned again and again 
through the long night. 

He arose early and went to the bam, hoping for 
the best but fearing the worst. On his way thither 
he met the hotel proprietor, his face red with 
anger and his temper aflame. Seeing Higgins, he 
burst into profanity; 

**Are them mangy, measly dogs yours! ^' 

''They are,*' replied Higgins, feeling like a 
sentenced person. He was sure the man's anger 
was due to the death of the over-driven dogs. 

* ' Then pay for the pork the rip-roaring brutes 
chewed up while you were at supper last night. 
Them hungry cannibals stole half a hog and ate 




82 FRANK HIQQINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

it. Now I ain't got nothing but eggs and salt- 
horse to give the boarders to-day.** 

roar of hearty laughter broke out — the joy- 
ous laughter of relief. It was Higgins* ** capacity 
laugh" and his eyes twinkled in their moisture of 
gladness. 

The hotel keeper looked at the preacher in 
amazement. Men usually protested or refused 
when asked to part with money, but here was one 
who enjoyed the demand ! 

**I'll pay gladly, old man, mighty gladly. Half 
a hog, you say! No wonder they didn't eat I 
They simply couldn 't ! What 's the bill, and don 't 
be afraid to charge!'' 

**It was the only time I was ever asked to pay 
their board," commented Higgins later. **The 
dogs were entitled to a feast after their struggle 
in the blizzard, and my relief in finding them safe 
was worth the price. ' ' 

Minnesota has ten thousand lakes, and, under 
the constant cold of winter, each icy surface be- 
comes a splendid highway. ** Three-foot ice" is 
not uncommon ; teams are driven across the lakes ; 
and the long journey around the meandering shore 
is shortened by a direct path. But when the unob- 
structed north wind faces the traveler, it takes its 
toll by the discomfort which increases with each 
moment. Higgins once attempted the short cut 



WHITE WINTER WOODS 83 

across a lake, at each step fighting the fierce wind 
from the north. Had he not been a strong man, 
he wonld never have reached the sawmill on the 
other shore. When he entered the mill, he col- 
lapsed and instantly fell asleep. The engineer 
saw him fall and, realizing his condition, dashed 
a pail of cold water over the sleeping man — 
heroic but necessary treatment. If Higgins had 
been allowed to sleep, it would have been the sleep 
of deg.th. 

In January, 1906, while Higgins was crossing 
Bed Lake, he was overtaken by a storm. A bliz- 
zard in the forest is bad enough, but on the open 
lake its fury is intensified a hundredfold. Down 
the twenty miles of ice swept the snow — a choking, 
freezing mass. Shore lines faded away and he 
was at the mercy of the storm. Night came on, 
adding loneliness to the pitiless snowstorm, but it 
could not increase the victim's helplessness. 

Human assistance was impossible but the help 
of God was near. He prayed for strength and 
strength was given him. Long after nightfall 
Higgins reached the shore. There was no human 
habitation in sight, and helplessly he wandered on 
through the forest until at last, near the hour of 
midnight, a light fell upon his tired eyes, and a 
moment later he was pounding on the door of an 
Indian cabin where he received a warm welcome 



84 FRANK HIQGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

from a Chippewa family. They gave him every 
comfort they possessed, and when they learned 
that he was a minister, the old squaw took a Bible 
down from the shelf, placed it upon his knees, and 
bade him lead the family in worship. Twenty 
years before, an Episcopalian minister, Dr. 
Joseph A. Gilfillan, whose tireless work among 
the Chippewas is well remembered, had given her 
the Bible. 

LjJbcL^nother occasion, in company with a camp 
missionary, he was crossing a frozen lake, when 
he stepped into an air-hole ; and had it not been 
for the ready assistance of his companion, he 
would have lost his life. Because of the cold, his 
dripping garments were soon a mass of ice, and 
with great dijBficulty he reached the shelter of the 
village. Fortunately, there were no ill effects 
from the exposure, and as soon as his clothing 
dried he continued his journey. 

When the camp mission threw off its swaddling 
bands, and Higgins became the director of other 
missionaries, the dog-team no longer fitted into 
the plan. Each new missionary was given a line 
of camps, and superintending the work took Hig- 
gins into all parts of the lumber district. There 
were new lines to explore, dilBBculties to adjust, 
and far separated places to visit. Again the pack- 
sack became a part of his equipment. 



r—-^ WHITE WINTER WOODS 85 

Early one Sunday morning Higgins left the 
camp where he had held service the night before. 
As he passed out of the clearing, a lumberjack 
hailed him. 

** Thought I'd walk along, Pilot, for company's 
sake." 

**Glad to have you, John. How goes itf 

**Fine, mighty fine I Haven't tasted a drop this 
winter. Hand over your pack. I 'm out for exer- 
cise. About fifty pounds, ' ' continued John as he 
adjusted the straps to his shoulders. 

**Just about," replied the minister. ** Hymn- 
books, Testaments, and a few necessities." 

The tote-road glistened with whiteness, the 
crunching snow made music to the swinging 
strides, and in silence they placed the miles be- 
hind them. 

**Let me take the * turkey' ^ a while," said Hig- 
gins. '* You've carried it half-way." 

**See here, Pilot," protested the lumberjack, 
**I'll land this pack in Camp 3. You handed me 
a big lift when I was down-and-out. This is the 
first chance I've had to do a bit for you. God 
knows you did a heap for me." 

Memory recalled a scene of the year before. In 
a ** snake-room" he had foxmd this man nearly dy- 
ing from ** knock-out drops." There the saloon- 

1 The name giyen by lumberjacks to a packsack. 



86 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

men had flung him after robbing him. He was 
filthy, drunk, and friendless. Higgins had * * broth- 
ered'^ him, watched over him in the intervening 
months, and finally had led him to the Savior. 
To-day he was clean, wholesome, companionable, 
and in the spirit of gratitude he carried the mis- 
sionary's pack to Camp 3, twelve miles away. 
What though some days were dark and dreary, 
the winding trails filled with the powdered snow, 
the journeys hard, and the cheerless camps far 
apart! "With such results how could Higgins be 
cast down! Paradise, with its fruit and fra- 
grance, nestled between the snowy hills of north- 
em Minnesota. 

God gave Frank Higgins a strong body and he 
used it for the Giver. To Higgins, it was a stew- 
ardship to be placed in the market for the glory 
of the King. One day the missionary met a man 
named Louis. Both were bound for Camp 5. 
Louis had been enlivening the village with his 
presence and money. His money now reposed, 
well cared for, in the cash-register of the saloon, 
but Louis had been thrown out, as men cast off a 
worn garment. He reeked with liquor and his 
wavering legs prophesied an early collapse. If 
Louis were to make the far-off camp, Higgins 
must help him, and to that end he gave his arm 
in support. Not long did that suffice, for Louis ^ 



"matubk maeeh the fohest and man tbansfobms it to ma 
own uses" (page 55) 



1 



THE NEW YOKK' 

PUBLIC LIBli..:-;v [ 



A8T0B, r.fr-^'- 
Tfl nr/v f . > 



WHITE WINTER WOODS 87 

overburdened legs grew more unstable and finally 
dropped him, crumpled and unconscious, in the 
snow. The village was miles behind, the camp 
miles ahead, the night shadows were deepening, 
and in the frozen forest death awaited the lumber- 
jack if his companion should fail him. So Hig- 
gins bent to the task before him and carried the 
unconscious man to camp, arriving there bone- 
weary, almost at the breaking point. But he had 
saved a life. 

Higgins held a short service that night, for he 
was too tired to speak as usual. In the meantime 
Louis, surly with liquor, ruffled the temper of the 
cook, who promptly reduced the drunken fellow 
to a bruised state of enforced peace. Higgins 
heard of the row, found his charge, ministered to 
his battered body, and spent a large part of the 
night in relieving the man's agony. 

Louis and the minister did not meet again until 
the spring, when the men went *^down river '* at 
the break-up of the camps. There Higgins met 
the man he had saved from freezing. Louis was 
drunk, very drunk; filthy, very filthy; and very 
poor ; for not a cent remained from his long win- 
ter 's labor. He was mired in body, soul, and 
purse. The river flowed near-by, and Higgins 
dragged the wretched man into its cleansing 
waters. He soused him as women rinse clothes, 



88 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

dipping him time and again nntil^ clean and sober, 
Louis emerged a sadder and whiter man. 

While his clothes dried, Louis did some think- 
ing, the nature of his thought being disclosed in 
a remark he made to his benefactor. 

**You're white pine without a knot. You treat 
me like a brother.^' 

** That's our relation, Louis, we are brothers.'* 
**I'm a low-down, dirty bum an' you're white 
to me. Tell me, Mr. Higgins, why you're a friend 
to the likes o' mef " 
**For Christ's sake, Louis, for his sake." 
It was not pious cant that Higgins expressed, 
but the spirit of constraining love which linked 
him to humanity for whom Christ died, a love that 
compelled him to undergo the dangers and labors 
of the white weather and winter woods. 



vin 

PREACHING m THE PINERIES 

FRANK HIGGINS looked the part he played, 
the part of a big brother, bat nothing about 
him suggested his profession. No distin- 
gaisbing garments suggested any difference be- 
tween him and his forest parishioners. On the 
trail be looked like a camp foreman or a company 
official. He mixed with the men, jollied them, 
crossed wits with tbem, sympathized and frater- 
nized. Father, mother, and politician blended in 
his nature. 

Frankness and a twinkle looked out of his blue- 
gray eyes ; even when aroused, the sign of mirth 
lingered. His ruddy face, like a bronzed new 
moon, told its own story of the out-of-door life. 
His two hundred pounds had been rounded into 
muscle by long tramps and heavy packs, giving 



90 PRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

his five feet nine inches a thick-set, sturdy appear- 
ance that satisfied. The jaw was resolute. The 
big hand shook yours in hearty friendship. He 
looked the man he was. Meeting him for the first 
time, you felt that you had known him always — 
you welcomed an old-time friend rather than made 
an acquaintance, a friend with whom you felt no 
reticence. Men who usually avoided strangers 
forgot themselves with Frank Higgins. Gamblers, 
saloonmen, and their kind ordinarily give the 
clergy a wide berth, but, seeing Higgins approach- 
ing, they met him with a ready hand and f amiUarly 
slapped him on the back while they chatted with 
him. Reticent lumberjacks considered him a mem- 
ber of the family from whom they could borrow 
a quarter and with whom they dared be natural. 
For Frank Higgins was as approachable as a 
candidate before election. 

His preaching did not contradict his appear- 
ance. It was simple, without adornment, straight- 
forward and direct. He struck hard; it was his 
nature ; he was bom that way and so he remained 
to the end — a hard-hitting, open fighter in politics 
and pulpit. I mention politics because evil was 
entrenched behind the ballot, and Higgins fought 
it in the pulpit and at the polls. 

Most of the camp services were held after sup- 
per in the bunk houses where the men slept and 



PREACHING IN THE PINERIES 91 

spent their hours of leisure. A barrel or box 
became a pulpit, and the drape of a horse blanket 
gave it dignity. In the uncertain light, double- 
tiered bunks gave the appearance of a ground 
floor and a gallery, and from them scores of legs, 
encased in woolen socks, dangled like Christmas 
stockings from a fireplace. The ** deacons' seat'' 
— around the front of the bunks — ^was filled with 
campmen smoking, laughing, retailing the inci- 
dents of the day. Suspended lanterns created a 
mist of shadows and dim circles of light, while the 
centrally located stove radiated its heat and roar- 
ings. The drying socks on the rack above did not 
add to the attractiveness of the place. 

Not much of a church was this! No stately 
organ, vested choir, fashionable audience, and 
solemn order awaited the speaker who, coatless, 
stood behind the barrel-pulpit and announced, - 

**Tum to No. 31 and hit it up while the going's 1 
good. Are you ready t Everybody sing!" 3 

**Alas! and did my Savior bleed, 
And did my Sovereign die!" 

Such singing ! They sang as men sing in their 
own homes. The lusty voices crashed forth the 
song or rendered it musically, according to indi- 
vidual ability. It was loud and strong, free and 
spirited, and here and there a trained voice freed 



92 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

itself from the medley and revealed the gentler 
breeding of the owner. 
"Ton can do better on the next verse/' enconr- 
;ed Higgins. **Jim didn't sing a note. Wake 
ip, old man!" Jim claimed exemption because 
of a cold and was admonished to whistle the air. 
^ — "Scripture and prayer followed, then another 
hymn, and then the sermon for which all were 
ready and waiting. Higgins never disappointed; 
he always had a message. His material would not 
always stand analysis as to outline and develop- 
ment, but it met the needs of his audiences. Sin 
received no tender touches, no courtesies of speech 
robbed it of its vileness. It was painted black. 
Higgins described the vices of men in plain, col- 
loquial, stinging English that cut to the nerve and 
left the mind quivering with a sense of guilt and 
shame. The illustrations he used were not culled 
from books of sermon anecdotes; he found them in 
the * ^ snake-rooms " of the near-by towns, in the 
experiences of his hearers, in their pockets, their 
hearts, their hands. Higgins was more sure of 
the sins of the present day than of the misdeeds of 
Israel. The transgressions he described were 
those of living men. 

His sermon on the Prodigal Son will long be 
remembered in the camps. It brought that com- 
pelling parable down to date. To his hearers, the 



PREACHING IN THE PINERIES 93 

prodigal was not a Jew, but an American lumber- 
jack, out for a good time with booze and color. 
The far country became the adjacent village with 
its advertised evils. The waste and riot, the hogs 
and husks, were their own experiences; and the 
waiting Father, with, hands extended in forgive- 
ness, was almost visibly present. As one of the 
men remarked, **Higgins gave them the straight 
gospel and made them take it.'^ 

The message of the Sky Pilot had no class dis- 
tinctions. It was against sin everywhere, its 
remedy was applicable to all. One night, while he 
was arranging for a bunk house service, the camp 
proprietor entered and seated himself on the bar- 
rel which Higgins had intended to use for a pul- 
pit. Standing beside the owner, the minister 
opened the meeting. The sermon was pointed, and 
the man on the barrel enjoyed the forceful home 
thrusts. At each telling sentence, he nodded ap- 
proval and shouted words of encouragement : 

**Keep the chips flying. Pilot! Give them an- 
other whirl! YouVe got them where the shoe 
pinches, good and tight ! ' ' 

Here was a plain-speaking, fearless fellow, and 
the proprietor found him refreshing and enter- 
taining — a fellow who knew the lumberjacks and 
their vices, and exposed <-all in true colors. A 
splendid chap ! 



94 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

He who applauds the exposure of another's 
weakness should have no private vices to uncover. 
But unfortunately the camp owner was open to 
criticism, being himself a wasting prodigal. While 
he was one of the best loggers in the state, yet his 
low morals caused much comment, and his son 
was following in the devious footsteps of his 
father. 

After the proprietor had committed himself to 
Higgins' method of dealing with lumberjacks, and 
had given his hearty commendation, Higgins 
turned his full batteries on camp owners, con- 
tractors, and foremen, for the sordid, selfish, and 
immoral examples some of them were setting for 
the men. 

**I do not wonder that you lumberjacks live 
shameless lives, for the leaders of the industry set 
you the worst of examples. Some of them are 
found drinking, gambling, and carousing in the 
villages and towns ; and the men who should lead 
you into better things are only examples of riot 
and immorality. ' ' 

The proprietor was astounded at the sudden 
turn of affairs, and for a moment he was silent. 
But silence was no security. 

*^Why don't you applaud that sentiment alsof 
asked the preacher. ^'It's just as true as the 
others. * ' 



PEEACHING IN THE PINERIES 95 

In the office, after the service, the owner turned 
to Higgins and expressed himself as follows : 

**That was pretty crudely plain, Pilof 

**I always preach so the audience will under- 
stand me/' 

**But you needn't have shouted the thing before 
the whole crowd/' 

**Mr. Bank, I didn't tell them a thing but what 
they already knew. You have been advertising 
your own life. The boys know it and your son is 
following in his father's footsteps. It's time to 
call a halt. You can't be proud of the example." 

When Higgins left the camp, the proprietor 
shook his hand and thanked him for fearlessly 
preaching to lumberjacks and to lumber kings. 

From the beginning, Mr. Higgins always ob- 
tained permission from the company before hold- 
ing services for the men. At first it was given 
reluctantly, but, as the years passed, the doors 
opened more easily. Once, when asking a superin- 
tendent for the privilege, he was met with a broad 
approval, and Higgins, feeling that there was 
something back of the assent, asked its meaning. 

**I want to tell you, Mr. Higgins," said the offi- 
cial, *'that I am superintendent of this company 
because of your work in the woods. Years ago I 
was aimless and wasteful, but I heard a word 
from you that changed it all. I am glad to give 



96 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

the other boys a chance to hear the same thing 
that made a man of me. Preach here and send 
your men here, for we need the encouragement 
of the gospel/' 

After service, when the camp had retired, Mr, 
Higgins often remained in conversation with those 
who longed to know more of the message he had 
brought. In privacy many a life was bared and 
many a soul met God. When the minister was 
asked to share a lumberjack's bunk, he never re- 
fused. He knew that back of the request was a 
longing for company, perhaps a desire to solve 
soul problems, or a confession of sin and a plea 
for pardon. Since the quarters of the men were 
often very unsanitary, acceptance was no small 
cross, but it might mean the salvation of a soul, 
and that was greater than physical comfort. 

** Isn't there some way I can make my life 
count!" asked a young fellow after hearing the 
Pilot. **I'm sledding in the wrong direction. 
Give me a lift. ' ' 

He was first led to the Master, then awakened 
to the benefits of school. That winter he spent his 
evenings in study. The following summer he 
worked in a sawmill where every leisure moment 
was devoted to his books. The proprietor watched 
him with interest and sent him to the sawdust pile 
where he could have more time for his studies. 



PREACHING IN THE PINERIES 97 

He was called *Hlie bookworm in the sawdnsf 
A year later he entered school and finally became 
a successful civil engineer. That camp sermon 
saved a soul from death and lifted a life into 
larger usefulness. 

In February, 1911, on the north shore of Lake 
Superior, Higgins was holding a service in a cer- 
tain camp. The **crew'' consisted of one hundred 
and sixty men — ^a motley collection of Finns, 
Poles, Austrians, Swedes, and a few Americans. 
Two days later the foreman met Higgins again. 

*^I had a big surprise yesterday,'* he said. 
**For the first time since I have been in these 
woods, I found that lumberjacks are interested in 
religion. Out in *the works* I found jacks dis- 
cussing the meeting you held in the bunk house the 
night before ; later, at the lunch-ground, the topic 
was religion ; and down at the skidway they were 
going over the same thing. It was a new view to 
me. I tell you, if your work does nothing more 
than furnish a decent topic for conversation, it 
accomplishes a great deal. I wish you could come 
oftener. It helps. Anything that gives a boost to 
the awful proposition we loggers have on our 
hands is a thing to be encouraged. Why, even the 
scaler, who thinks he is something of an infidel, 
admitted that the work was doing good. Come 
again. You're welcome.'* 



98 PRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

On one occasion it was after eight o^clock and 
a meeting was in full swing when two teamsters 
entered and took seats by the stove, where they 
thawed out while listening to the pilot's talk. 
These men, cold and hungry, with appetites sharp- 
ened by the zero air of pine forests, had just re- 
turned from a distant point, and on learning that 
a service was being held, had forgotten the plea- 
sures of appetite that they might feed their starv- 
ing souls. It was incidents such as this, showing 
the desires of the men, that put a joyous encour- 
agement into Higgins and made him tireless in his 
efforts to reach new camps. 

At the beginning of the mission, the lumber- 
jacks followed their individual fancy during the 
sersice. Hig^s preached, while they smoked, 
^^ mended their clothes, darned their socks, or 
/stalked back and forth to the drinking water, 
i while the hats of the majority remained on their 
\ heads. Gradually, almost without suggestion, a 
• change took place. The pipes were put aside, the 
I hats were removed, and the customs of the town 
1 churches were followed in the camp gatherings. 
j In one camp, all had removed their hats during 
/ the service, except a man who desired to show his 
disapproval. While the others joined in the spirit 
\ of the meeting, he sneeringly vented his contempt. 
iFinaUy an Irish lumberjack walked over, grabbed 

r 
f 

K. 



PREACHING IN THE PINERIES 99 

the * ' skypiece, ' ^ threw it on the floor and stamped 
on it ; then with nnruflBed composnre he kicked the 
offender out of the bunk house. Before taking his 
seat the Irishman quietly said, 

**We're going to have peace in these meetings! 
If you don't think so, just start something and 
I'll finish it for you.'' 

Higgins' work was like seed sown by the way- 
side, among thorns, in stony places, and in good 
ground. The results were in the hands of God, 
and only in his harvest-time will the increase be 
known. The seed fell; it sprang into life; the 
wanderer returned to his distant home, and there, 
separated from his worst temptations, he turned 
his face away from sin, and the paths of the prodi- 
gal knew him no more. But sometimes, as in the 
following incident, the men whose wiUs were 
strengthened stepped into the limelight, there de- 
clared their intentions, and enlisted for Christian 
service. 

Higgins was preaching his challenging message 
and the camp was in his grip. Only the thunder 
of his denunciation and the warmth of his plead- 
ing suspended the silence of the bunk house. In 
the midst of the service a woodsman arose and 
made his way to the side of the preacher. Then 
came his request. 

*^I want you to pray for. me right now," he 



iG()2n(>i5 



100 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

said, with the earnestness of a man who was 
deeply touched. 

Placing his hand on the man's shoulder, Hig- 
gins prayed, and when he had finished, the woods- 
man said, 

**Now I want to pray for myself/' 

Haltingly he uttered his petition for pardon 
and received it. Then turning to the listening 
men he announced, quietly but with decision, 
^ * This is the end of my old life. Li the future I 
live for Jesus Christ. '* 

The following evening the new convert took 
down his violin and played ^* Jesus, Lover of my 
soul. ' ' A new spirit was in the music — a longing 
that knew where rest was to be found. In respect- 
ful silence the men listened. The playing was dif- 
ferent, very different, and they wondered, while 
they felt the touch of the unseen. Finishing the 
hymn, he opened his Bible and read a chapter. 
Then, under the inspiration of his new life, he 
spoke quietly and well, explaining the part he had 
read. The teachings of his Christian home came 
back to him, for the Spirit was bringing to his 
remembrance the message of his Master. All 
through the winter the convert held nightly meet- 
ings, creating an atmosphere of sobriety and 
right. The campmen wrote to Higgins, telling 
with pride of the happenings, adding, ** Others 



PREACHING IN THE PINERIES 101 

have preaching once in a while, but we've got a 
regular preacher." 

Higgins' bunk house services created a diver- 
sion for the lonely men, but the minister's visits 
were far apart, and every day had its long, lonely 
evening, with no amusement but the greasy 
playing-cards and oft-told stories. Higgins be- 
gan to distribute magazines, and the demand for 
them grew like the movement of a prairie fire. 
He appealed to the Minnesota churches for help, 
and their congregations shipped him the accumu- 
lation of their attics. These welcome gifts have 
been continued, so that tons of magazines are sent 
to the camps every year. Higgins remembered 
the inland camps which he was unable to visit and 
sent them boxes of entertainment and informa- 
tion. Lives received an impetus in the new topics, 
aspirations were awakened, and even the foreign- 
bom found comfort in ^* reading the pictures." 

One day in an Adirondack camp a woman cook 
came to Higgins with this plea : * ' I have been here 
for four months and I have had nothing to read 
but my Bible. Since I came I have read it through 
three times." 

Here Higgins' Irish wit asserted itself and he 
interjected, *^I wish some of the rest of us were 
up against the same thing for a while!" 

She continued : * * Sometimes I get so lonely that 



102 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER ^^' 

I go down to the waimigan and read the advertis- 
ing on the tobacco packages. Can't you send me 
something to readf Needless to say that, on 
arriving in town, Higgins' first task was to send 
her a package of news, amusement, instruction, 
and happiness. 



,e| 
n ' 
3 ■ 



IX 
FIGHTING FOB GOD AND EIGHT 

IN those young, boisterons days, when the sa- 
loon held the logging village in the palm of 
its hand, when evils laughed at law, and the 
wink of the political boss had the authority of 
royalty, it was Frank Higgins who refused to 
bend the knee. He rebelled even when victory for 
righteousness seemed impossible. Better govern- 
ment was the need. Public sentiment had to be 
aroused, and to arousing it he gave himself, like 
John the Baptist crying in the wildemeBS. He 
was only a voice but he prepared the way. He 
talked victory to everybody, even after meeting 
defeat. 

Whenever he could get Into a betterment fight, 
Hi^ins was on hand. Little villages that scarcely 
knew him found him fighting with them. He asked 



104 PRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

nothing for himself, he **jnst wanted to get into 
the game/' The corrupt officials found him at 
their heels. To the legislatures he handed protests 
and suggestions, and in the governor's room he 
was welcomed, as were also his stories of adven- 
ture. 

It was up-hill work but Higgins liked it. It 
was a long fight in which he did not weary. Big 
odds were against him, yet he lived to see the day 
when law was respected and evil dared no longer 
be bold. A sense of humor smoothed the rough 
pathway, and smiles were the harbingers of vic- 
tory. 

While he hewed at the root — ^the saloon in poli- 
tics — he did not neglect the victims of the un- 
wholesome growth, the men who found themselves 
helpless through appetite, poor through robbery, 
and physically unfit after their indulgences. 
These victims were everywhere present, marked 
with the wages of sin. 

A lumberjack, speaking of the sky pilot and his 
ever-ready assistance, said, **He is a man who 
never turns a lumberjack down. His job is keep- 
ing us out of hell. ' ' 

It was truly spoken. Higgins believed that to 
prevent evil was as much a Christian duty as to 
lift the fallen, and both ends of the task found 
him present and at work. 



FIGHTING FOR GOD AND RIGHT 105 

This ** helping '* was the joy of his life. Others 
might demand entertainment ; he created his own 
diversions and in them he was blessed and called 
blessed. 

''I get a hundred times more out of this than 
I put into it, ' ' he declared to a friend who accom- 
panied him to a meeting. ** Aren't the boys good 
to mef Did you notice old Bill, the shanty boss, 
whisper to me at breakfast? He said he'd saved 
two hundred dollars and had it in the bank. It 
makes me happy to think that old Bill is two hun- 
dred dollars away from the poorhouse. ' ' 

Old Bill had been carried on Higgins ' heart as a 
babe on its mother's bosom. The preacher's face 
shone as he thought of Bill's two hundred dol- 
lars. They meant scores of temptations resisted, 
cravings rejected, and many, many battles won. 
In old Bill's victory, Frank Higgins found his own 
decoration — ^his Victoria Cross — for he had saved 
him under fire. 

It is easy to feel contempt for those who do not 
think in harmony with us. Many a reformer has 
found himself hating his opponents because of the 
business they represent, and in that attitude has 
lost his power. But Higgins was a friend to pub- 
licans and sinners. He was actually loved by the 
men whose interests he sought to destroy, and this 
was because he was a brother to all. It was Hig- 



106 PRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

gins whom they asked to bury their dead, and 
npon him they called for sympathy in the sorrows 
common to humanity. They respected the fighter 
who dared to do right when to do right and fight 
wrong meant the loss of prestige and probable 
defeat. One day, in a palatial saloon and gam- 
bling den, where the man in charge had been ac- 
quainted with Mr. Higgins for years, he invited 
Higgins to take a drink of seltzer water. 

^*I wouldn't take a drink of water in one of 
your saloons,*' replied Higgins. **You know I'm 
against your whole business." 

**We know it," answered the saloon man, '^but 
while you fight us, you do it fair, and although 
you hurt us, we like you in spite of it. ' ' 

Men naturally appealed to Frank Higgins for 
help. They knew he would respond, not as one 
doing a favor but as the favored one. And this 
attitude was not assumed, it was the result of an 
inner desire. Humanity to him was composed of 
one big family and he recognized his relatives. 
Therefore when Paddy's **bunky" came to him 
for help, the pilot was ready to give him all pos- 
sible assistance. 

'* Pilot," said the stranger, ^*I've got a bunky 
in that booze joint, and the fool is blowing his 
stake as fast as he can throw it. I can't land 
him. Give me a lift." 



FIGHTING FOR GOD AND RIGHT 107 

They entered the saloon together where they 
found Paddy Mlariously drunk, his wits afloat 
with generosity as he treated the saloon loafers. 
He invited all creation to drink with him and 
emptied his pockets on the damp, metal counter. 
The bartender reached toward the roll of bills and 
silver, but a quicker hand covered the paper 
money. It was the hand of Higgins. 

**I11 take this for my treat, Paddy.*' 

"No you don't,*' came the furious reply of the 
bartender as he rushed to give battle. 

* ' Stand back ! ' ' commanded Higgins. 

For a moment the bartender paused, then 
grasping the bung-starter, he advanced with raised 
weapon, followed by several of the loafers. 

*^Cut it out, you fools," roared a big lumber- 
jack who rushed to the side of the preacher. 
* ^ This is the Pilot, and the man who touches him 
takes me on and several others." 

An armistice was immediately declared. 

The bartender became discreet ; he knew that to 
touch Higgins, the helper of lumberjacks, the 
friend of every down-and-out, the comforter of 
robbed and wronged, would be to invite the wrath 
of unnumbered woodsmen. 

** Paddy has had too much booze already," said 
Higgins casually, as if riots were as common as 
beans. "I'll keep this roU, as Paddy's banker. 



108 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

You are a scoundrel to take money from a man who 
is not in his right mind ! ' ' And Higgins led Paddy 
away to put him to bed. 

/ Next morning Paddy was sober and he said to 
I the pilot, ^ ' Somebody went through me last night. 
; They cleaned me out o' every cent an' pinched me 

hat an' coat. What am I going to dof 
'—' '^Robbed you, did theyt It couldn't be done, 
Paddy! When I met you last night you were 
throwing your money away faster than they could 
take it from you. You had already lost your coat, 
and had thrown away your hat." 

Paddy's head bent in shame — this was not his 
first offense. 

*^But you're going home, Paddy. We saved a 
little for you. Here is the remainder of your 
roU." 

Higgins escorted him to the train, and the 
saloons knew him no more. 

And here is another story of the same sort; 
scores of such might be told. It was the end of the 
cutting season, and word came to the preacher that 
a youngster whose appetite was stronger than his 
will was ** blowing his stake." The lad's mother 
needed every cent of his earnings. In a saloon, 
made rich by the profits of robbery, Higgins found 
the young man flushed with drink, free from all 
restraint. 



FIGHTING FOR GOD AND RIGHT 109 

**YouVe had more than enough, Jack. Time 
yon tnmed in,'' said Higgins, placing his hand 
on the fellow 's shonlder. ^ ^ Let 's get ont of here. ' ' 

** What's it to yon!" burst ont the angry bar- 
tender. **Mind yonr own business!" 

'^This is my business," replied Higgins. 
**This fellow is too drunk to know what he is 
doing, so I will take care of him," and suiting his 
words to action, he led the fellow toward the door. 

**I'll see you in blazes before I let you have 
him," angrily cried the drink-mixer, leaping 
over the bar. There was cold steel in the gray of 
Higgins ' eyes as he saw the intention of the man, 
and his closed fist sprang from his side and sent 
the bartender, with a thud, to the sawdust. 

"Here's one of your own to care fori" called 
the missionary to the saloon keeper. **When he 
wakes up, tell him never again to interfere with 
'the doth' and its duties. I have to take care of 
the boys — that^s my busi/ness/' 

**Th-that's your business," echoed the young- 
ster as they passed through the door. 

The boy was placed on a train, his wages were 
sent by mail to his waiting mother, and the next 
day Higgins visited the bartender who became a 
friend. 

Time and again Frank Higgins stood between 
the men and the leeches who fattened on the blood 



UO FRANK HIG6INS: TRAIL BLAZES 

and hard labors of men. When in town he visited 
the saloons to find the helpless. He made the 
rounds of the gambling houses, to place himself 
between the tempted and temptation. The hos- 
pital wards, where the broken and bruised jacks 
waited for healing, were not forgotten — ^there 
his coming was like the dawning of day, for he 
brought hope and words of cheer. 

In the bunk house meeting it was not all plain 
sailing. Often high waves of trouble threatened 
to sink the ship, and only a good seaman could 
weather the storm and arrive at safe anchorage. 
Men differed in their thoughts on religion and in 
their relation to sects, and from these differences 
arose ill feelings. Catholics wanted no Protestant 
message. Some objected to their only home — ^the 
bunk house — ^being turned into a church, and 
vented their feelings in **cat calls. ^^ However, 
since the majority welcomed Higgins^ ministry, 
and the majority is supposedly entitled to rule, 
Higgins did not hesitate to put down the oppo- 
nents. Sometimes a word kindly spoken was suf- 
ficient. Again, a barb in his ready wit gained an 
easy victory. These milder methods, however, 
were not always adequate. Dull minds saw in 
kindness only the spirit of cowardice or folly and 
invited a contest of physical force. From this 
Higgins always shrank — ^not from fear, for fear 



FIGHTING FOR GOD AND RIGHT 111 

was foreign to him. He preferred love. Never- 
theless, he believed that where moral suasion 
failed, physical force became an instrument of vir- 
tue; and without fear, yet reluctantly, he used 
his strong arm for his King. 

Once a campman persisted in grinding an ax 
while Higgins attempted to preach. It was done 
to annoy, for the lumberjack whistled a lively air, 
much to his own enjoyment and the disturbance of 
the camp. Clear thinking was impossible. Hig- 
gins stopped and announced a hymn. While the 
camp sang, he visited the grinder and asked his 
assistance. Again Higgins began his sermon; 
again the man at the grindstone opened the 
counter-attraction. It was a real competition, and 
the camp was immensely entertained. Again the 
preacher went to the disturber, this time placing 
his hand on the man^s shoulder. No sooner did 
the lumberjack feel the touch than he whirled 
around and struck at the preacher. 

**Keep out of this, boys,'* yelled an Irishman, 
swinging aloft a peavy. **Give the Pilot a show. 
1^11 brain the first man who interferes.'' 

Higgins evaded the grinder's blow, bent low, 
and rushed his big opponent. His strong arms 
closed on the man's waist; in a twinkling he had 
him in the air, then up-ended him into a barrel 
of water. It was only a moment's work. There 



112 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

he held him until the Irishman with the peavy 
suggested^ 

** Pilot, if ye don't want a funeral, ye'd better 
pnll him out an' roll him.'' 

With shouts of hilarity, the congregation went 
back to their places, and Higgins took up the 
broken thread of his discourse. It was all a part 
of the day's work I 

When Higgins opened his eyes the following 
morning, the grinder was standing beside him. 
* * So he has come to finish the row, ' ' thought Hig- 
gins. * * Now I 'm going to find out if I 've preached 
my last sermon in this camp," and he leaped out 
of bed, expecting another battle. 

But the grinder's hand was extended in apol- 
ogy, and like big boys, for such they were, they 
shook hands. The fight belonged to yesterday; 
pow they understood each other. 

Humanity is an oddity. It encourages its ene- 
mies and interferes with its friends. It allows 
the impostor a free course and blocks the reform- 
er's path. It wants personal liberty for itself and 
shackles for the other fellow. So it made trouble 
for Higgins, whose only motive was to help it. 

In a certain camp the French Canadians per- 
sistently rejected his overtures, his help, and his 
message. They were impervious to kindness and 
had decided that this was to be Higgins ' last ap- 



FIGHTING FOB GOD AND BIGHT 113 

pearance in that camp. They laughed loudly, guf- 
fawed while he spoke, whistled, and clapped their 
hands. What was the use of trying to help such 
fellows, thought Higgins. But perhaps a personal 
appeal would still the tempest. The personal ap- 
peal, kindly given, counted for naught. Again 
Higgins attempted to speak, but the noise rose in 
volumes. Higgins stopped. He quietly rolled up 
his sleeves with the air of important business. In 
the silence his heels came down with determina- 
tion as he walked over to the group. The fire of 
righteous indignation burned in his erstwhile 
friendly eyes. The kindly mother in him was 
asleep, the stem father was aroused. It was zero 
hour and Higgins was about to go over the top ! 

**You pea-soup eaters will do one of two 
things,'^ he said with force and control. ^*Tou 
will listen to the gospel or take a licking. Speak 
up! Which do you wantT^ 

** Throw them through the roof. Pilot. We^l 
see fair play. One at a time, ' ^ yelled a friend. 

"Give 'em a thrashin' an' the gospel too,'' came 
another's advice. 

*' You've got to puncture the skins of that outfit 
to get decency into them," called a third. ** Crawl 
into the top bunks, boys, where you can see 
better." 

Then came silence, the silence of the dead. 



114 PRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

Higgins' muscles stood out in corded heaps, 
his jaw was defiant. Fearless as right itself he 
stood, and the disturbers saw a champion they 
dared not engage. Their eyes dropped and Hig- 
gins smiled: 

**I^d rather preach, anyway.'* 

The long indifference to the saloon was dying; 
sentiment was gathering against it; **dry" ideas 
were fruiting, and the whisky men read the hand- 
writing on the wall. Up there in the woods men 
were adopting the pilot's message and through it 
were transformed. Down in the towns the evil 
element deplored a loss of business. Higgins 
stood out as a leader; he must be turned aside; 
he could not be silenced; he was above bribery. 
Some other way must be devised. So, when the 
state legislature discussed the opening of a home 
Ifor drunkards, the saloonmen became hopeful. 
JThey saw a way out. Why not make Frank Hig- 
/[ginj3. superintendent! He was a master of men, 
many of the inmates would be lumberjacks, and 
he could not refuse the larger salary. It was just 
file thing to shelve Higgins 1 
i But Higgins turned the offer down — ^turned it 
down so hard that he jarred the politicians in his 
/refusal. **I want to make the men Christians as 
well as sober. There I could only help a handful ; 
out in the woods I am in touch with thousands* I 



r 



FIGHTING FOR GOD AND RIGHT 115 

wotddn^t give up preaching in the camps for the 
governorship.'^ 

To shoot straight you must see only one thing 
— ^the object; divided interest means missing the 
mark. Higgins had many opportunities to be- 
come rich. In his travels through the unmarked 
forests he had learned the woods as few others 
knew them. The government had thrown open to 
settlement thousands of rich homesteads, and tim- 
ber claims were to be had for the taking, yet he 
never filed a claim, although he knew where the 
best homesteads were to be found. It was men, 
not money, he wanted. 

A wealthy logger felt that, if Higgins could be 
secured in a partnership, he could vastly increase 
his fortune, through Higgins' ability to handle the 
workingmen. He proposed to take him into the 
company on very liberal terms, Higgins to invest 
himself against the logger's capital. The terms 
were so generous that few men would have re- 
jected them, but Higgins was not even tempted. 
He said, ** If I am to do my duty, I'll have to 
continue the fight for God and man, not for myself 
and my pocket-book. ' ' 

And so he remained the sky pilot. He had no 
time to make money — ^his job was making men. 




HELPINd THE DOWN-AND-OUTS 

r[E dietioaary defines a slum as "a low quar- 
ter of a city." The slum of the old logging 
village had no such modest dimensions; 
sometimes it was one half, sometimes three quar- 
ters, and occasionally the whole place. There, if 
you wished a meal, you could secure it only in the 
saloon. Over the grog-shops were the gnest rooms 
into which the noise and smell intruded and would 
not be denied. In the barrooms, or convenient to 
them, were the gambling devices, and somewhere 
in the background was the "snake-room," the re- 
treat where the drunken and drugged jacks were 
thrown to sleep off the poison of dope and booze. 
A sliun indeed I Not in a city— this was in the 
heart of the wilderness. 
The "snake-room" deserves more than a pass- 



118 FRANK mOOINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

ing mention. It was an institution, a moving^- 
picture of collected misery, where drunken and 
tormented men lay upon a filthy floor. These 
men had been willing victims, aiding in their own 
stupor (hastened sometimes by doped liquor) and 
their own robbery. When ttiey came down river 
in the spring, the saloons flourished and profi- 
teered by doping, short-chan^g, and deft pick- 
pocketing. The barrooms overflowed into the 
'^snake-rooms" and there men occasionally died, 
smothered under their unconscious comrades. 
One can't describe the scene. A person must see 
it even to imagine it. 

Frank Higgins often went to the snake-rooms, 
searching for men who had been defeated by 
temptation. Preaching was well enough in its 
place, but this called for the ministry of shoulders 
and arms and legs. As a shepherd he sought the 
wandering sheep, and when he found them he laid 
them on his shoulders, rejoicing in his strength 
and in his burden. It was in a snake-room that 
he found Al Moore, whom he bore to his homestead 
near the village. Moore was not an agreeable 
burden for Moore had been on a protracted 
spree. Moore was seeing things and fighting 
them in his ravings — ^horrible, misshapen beings 
which were very real to him. His mind was 
cooked with whisky and bad become a place 



AIT UP-TO-DATE, HOVABLE, SANITABr CAMP IN THE TAB WEST 



THE Nf'.vv ^^iUK 

PU&LIC LIBilAllV i 



ASTOB, LENOX AM) 

TILDBN FOUNDAli', NS * 

R L I 



HELPING THE DOWN-AND-OUTS 119 

for sights and creatures bom in the ferment of 
alcohol* 

Moore had a wife and family. Before drink 
robbed him of property and decency, he had saved 
and prospered. Now he was reduced to poverty. 

For two long days and two longer nights the 
missionary sat by Moore ^s side, quieting and help- 
ing him back to sanity. Higgins knew that Moore 
would demand his accustomed liquor, and on being 
refused would go in search of it. He accordingly 
prepared his defenses by gathering together every 
piece of Moore's clothing and sending it out to a 
neighboring house. 

With returning strength, Moore sought his 
clothing everywhere. It was a vain endeavor. 
He pleaded with Higgins. Higgins was adamant. 
The family had been sent away and Moore was 
alone with the relentless missionary. A sense of 
helplessness settled upon him and finally he came 
to himself. By speaking of things that were then 
mere memories, the minister led him back to the 
pleasant years before whisky entered his life ; he 
brought to mind his prosperous days and his 
happy home. Gradually, by those invisible cords, 
Higgins drew him on until at last they prayed 
together at the feet of One who gives freedom 
and forgiveness. When they arose they were 
brothers in Christ Jesus. 



120 PRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

Moore knew he was free* He also knew his 
weakness and, wishing to cast off the old associa- 
tions, he migrated with his family to Canada. A 
letter from his wife told of his life there. **Both 
my husband and son united with the Presbyterian 
church here, and when they brought my husband 
from a northern camp, bruised and dyings his 
faith held fast to the Savior who took him from 
the pit.^^ 

Money was god in the villages, the golden calf 
was its image; and the shrines were numerous 
where the worshipers offered their wages in sac- 
rifice. It was respectable to do wrong and make 
money by it. Greed was the first commandment 
of the law and the second was like unto it : get all 
you can and get it quickly. Seeing two lumber- 
jacks spending freely in a notorious saloon, Hig- 
gins drew near. A gambler immediately added 
himself to the group to defeat, if possible, the evi- 
dent intention of the minister. 

** Getting too full to handle money, boys,*' said 
Higgins. * ' Better let me be your banker till morn- 
ing.'' 

*' That's a good idea," said the older man, who 
passed over his money and valuables, among 
which was a Confederate medal conferred for 
bravery. Higgins took the Southerner to a hotel 
and put him to bed, then returned to the saloon. 



HELPING THE DOWN-AND-OUTS 121 

The soldier ^s companion was nowhere in sight. 
He had already been drugged, robbed, and 
dragged into the snake-room where Higgins found 
him. In the few minutes ' absence the gambler had 
been diligent in business. 

** Where is this man^s money and watch! '^ asked 
the minister. 

**You don't think I went through him, Mr. Hig- 
gins, '* countered the gambler. 

**You had him in charge. You ought to know.** 

It was a wide-open town with the saloons in 
full power. Justice had no influence, being a non- 
resident. The money and watch were gone be- 
yond recall. There was nothing to do but put the 
lumberjack to bed and pray for the day when the 
saloon and its influence would no longer exist. 

Weak men, knowing they could not fight temp- 
tation, leaned heavily on the pilot. They de- 
pended on him to escort them past the saloons and 
see them safely to the trains. 

**When will you be in town, Pilot r* 

*^ Wednesday.** 

*^I want you to see me through. 1*11 come right 
up to the house.** 

**That*s right, Billy, depend on me.** 

Since they could not trust themselves, they made 
him their banker, and Higgins sent their money 
to their homes. The pilot *s home became a van- 



122 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

tage groundy and day or night the men, not always 
sober, came for help, advice, or to deposit their 
fnnds. Mrs. Higgins was much alone, owing to 
her hnsband's long trips, and to be awakened in 
the dead of night by strange voices demanding 
admission was a common occurrence. One night 
when she was alone a noise awakened her. Some 
one was trying to effect an entrance. The pres- 
ence in the house of considerable money which the 
pilot held in trust for certain lumberjacks added 
to her fears. Mrs. Higgins cautiously investi- 
gated and discovered a man on the woodshed roof. 
He was a drunken lumberjack who, in his blurred 
condition, was searching for the pilot. He knew 
Higgins lived there; he needed him; and, in at- 
tempting to find him, he gave Mrs. Higgins an 
unforgettable experience. 

Another experience was with old man Johnson, 
who had been a prodigal all his life. Now old 
age was approaching, or perhaps wisdom had been 
bom with years. Whatever the cause, he came to 
Higgins for help. 

**Mr. Higgins, IVe come to Robbers' Boost to 
get cleaned out again,*' he said in greeting. 
** Every year it's been the same. I can't keep my 
money. I have two hundred and seventy-five dol- 
lars, but I won't have a cent in the morning. 
They'll go through me for it alL" 



HELPING THE DOWN-AND-OUTS 123 

He wept as he sat by the fire — a tired man, 
weather-beaten, weary, and very old. 

**You will have every cent of it,'* replied the 
positive minister. **I'll run the game this time. 
Hand over your cash — every cent of it. I'm your 
banker. You can't have your money until you're 
ready to place it in something permanent." 

** Glory be!" ejaculated the old man. ** We've 
done it, HigginsI I've made a safe landing — ^the 
first time in years," and he handed over his 
wages. 

While they sat there rejoicing in the dawn of a 
better future, a saloon **tout" ^ came to the house 
in search of old man Johnson. 

**What do you want with him!" inquired the 
minister. 

**A little business," replied the man non- 
committally. 

^^ Johnson has transacted all his business. I 
have every cent of his cash and your whole gang 
can't get it from me. Now, you bloodsucker, hike 
or I'll kick you off the premises I" And the door 
slammed in the fellow's face. 

^^Made a landin'. Pilot, but too close for com- 
fort," said old man Johnson. 

One February day in a lumber town incidents 
crowded one upon another in a way that kept the 

lAn agent for a low resort. 



124 PRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

pilot hastening through all its hours. The de- 
mands began at the breakfast table, when a logger 
told of a workman who was playing the fool at the 
games and at the bar. The logger treated the 
matter indifferently, but Higgins made the round 
of the saloons, found the jack, and took him to a 
lodging-house. Next came a hospital visit, where 
more than a score of the boys were gladdened 
by the fruit Higgins brought and were encouraged 
by his prayers and his presence. While there he 
heard of one of the jacks who had left the hos- 
pital that morning, too weak to work, without 
credit, and generally distrusted because of his 
former dissolute life. Higgins searched until he 
found him, placed him in charge of the hotel 
keeper, and became security for the bill. Later, 
another woodsman who was finding the way of the 
transgressor no easy road to travel, was given 
assistance and advice. The day ended in a gam- 
bling den where a traveling man, who at roulette 
had lost his own and his employer's money, was 
saved from suicide by the prompt action of Hig- 
gins. For Higgins, like his Master, was touched 
with the feeling of men's infirmities; and **he 
went about doing good, ' ' asking no selfish return. 
To his enemies he gave the same treatment that 
he extended to his friends. Men who had lied 
about him, who had disturbed his meetings and 



HELPING THE DOWN-AND-OUTS 125 

made the * * sledding hard, ^ ' were brought into en- 
thusiastic friendship through his generous, open 
hand. Once, when the word went about that Hig- 
gins had found a violent opponent in need and 
had succored him, there were many wha would 
not believe the report so they asked Higgins. 

**Sure,'^ replied the unresenting Higgins. 
"When God gave me a chance to help a man, do 
you think I'd turn it down?'* *— ^ — • 

In the old days, when the dog-team played its\ 
part, in a camp near Tenstrike, Minnesota, worked \ 
Quebec, a powerful French Canadian, a bigot 
by training and intolerant by nature. He hated 
Higgins because he was a Protestant, and as a 
disturber of meetings Quebec had no equals. His 
profanity and Billingsgate distressed the whole 
camp. But he was one of the men with whom the 
pilot did not care to try physical conclusions. 
Quebec was elastic, tough, tempered metal, and a 
physical leader in camp and on the river. It was 
better to be discreet than beaten; so both Quebec 
and Higgins apparently thought, for each avoided 
the contest. Higgins tried in many ways to win 
the man who returned his kindness with sneers \ 
and profanity. - .. ..— ^ 

In Tenstrike, on a bitter Sunday night, Higgins 
went to the hotel bam to care for his dogs be- 
fore retiring. Cakes of ice littered the yard near 



126 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

the ice-house ; and, as he carefully picked his way, 
he stumbled over the body of a man. The body 
was cold and apparently lifeless. Higgins ran to 
the hotel for assistance. Quebec sat on the end 
of the bar, swinging a lighted lantern between his 
legs. He was about to return to camp after an 
evening in the saloon. 

* * Hurry, Quebec, ' ' cried Higgins. * ' Bring your 
lantern. There's a dead or dying man lying 
out yonder on the ice.'' 

Quebec hastened after the preacher. 

**Take hold of his feet," suggested Higgins. 

But Quebec objected. **No. You carry him," 
he said. **I'll light the way." 

The man still lived. Higgins worked over him 
until consciousness returned. While Higgins 
worked, Quebec sat near, holding his lantern and 
studying the preacher. 

**This fellow will need to stay here for a few 
days till he gets over his drunk and the freezing," 
remarked Higgins to the hotel man. ^ ' He has no 
rngjiey. Charge the bill to me. ' ' 

The next time Higgins visited the camp in 
which Quebec worked, Quebec was there and he 
was silent. Higgins momentarily expected an out* 
break but none came. The campmen waited, won- 
dering when the fireworks would begin, but Quebec 
listened to the sermon — ^the most attentive hearer. 



HELPING THE DOWN-AND-OUTS 127 

The meeting was almost disappointing I Even 
Higgins wondered if Quebec were sick. At 
the close of the meeting he motioned to the 
pilot. 

** How's our manr* Quebec asked. 

**0h, he's all right.'' 

** There it is, Pilot," said the Frenchman, 
thrusting out his hand. ** That's yours now. 
Will you shake it? After what I saw in Tenstrike, 
I'm settled. You're willing to do for us poor 
fools what we ain't got sense enough to do for 
ourselves. Anything I can do for you, Pilot, 
I'll do." 

And maybe the camp didn't enjoy the scene 
when the two big fellows shook hands ! 

From that day on, it wasn't safe to interfere 
with Higgins' meetings when Quebec was around. 
That would have been the same as slapping Que- 
bec's face, and no north woodsman was ever in- 
sane enough to do that. In many ways Quebec 
showed his admiration for the missionary. Once 
he saw Higgins coming along a sidewalk thronged 
with lumberjacks. Quebec cast them right and 
left, without gentleness or ceremony, at the same 
time explaining his action: **Open up the road 
for the Pilot. He 's made easy sledding for many 
a one of us, and I '11 road-monkey for him. ' ' Need- 
less to say, the way was cleared. 



128 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

Among the campmeiXy shut off from the mails, 
separated from amusements, far from home, 
friends, and the common things that make life 
pleasant, Higgins found his opportunity to enter 
into the hearts of men. He was fortunate in that 
his interests were always the interests of the man 
with whom he talked. Strangers told him their 
troubles without reserve or reticence; men held 
nothing back. So with all their thoughts before 
him, spurred on also by his own compassion, he 
could easily aid in the solving of problems. His 
was a sympathetic nature lighted with glowing 
optimism. 

In one of the camps Higgins discovered a young 
fellow, one of whose feet had been amputated. 
The man was in the throes of despondency; he 
felt that all his chances of success were gone, now 
that he was crippled. His days were somber, his 
nights were black, until Higgins spoke, after hear- 
ing his story: 

**Why, man, God has something better in store 
for you than being a lumberjack. You are going 
to go through life by the power of your brain, in- 
stead of being propelled by your legs. Don't you 
see it ? ' ' Higgins awakened him so that he caught 
the vision, applied himself to books, and later be- 
came a successful physician. 

Was there anything in that bleuy crowd of 



HELPING THE DOWN-AND-OUTS 129 

drinkers, leaning for support against the bar, to 
call out affeation? Yet — '*I love these fellows, '' 
said Higgins, and his eyes confirmed his words. 

* * I love to pick men out of the gutter. It 's more 
fun than helping Pharisees. And it pays. You 
can help a man best when he finds himself help- 
less, when he is disgusted with himself. Then 
his pride is gone, the bottom is knocked out of 
his little world, and there is no place for his feet. 
If I can get at him then, it 's easy to land him for 
God. You see, when a man is sure of himself, he 
has no time for religion, but when his cocksure- 
ness is gone, when he is * walking on his uppers,' 
that's the time for Frank Higgins to get in his 
work for Jesus Christ. So I hang around those 
places. I've been criticized for doing it. They 
say it is no place for a minister. But the dirt 
doesn't shock me — ^I'm thinking of clean souls. 
Of course, there is lots of profanity, but it isn't 
the words I hear but the words I use that I have 
to account for. I know affairs are foul and coarse 
and brutal. Sometimes the sordidness of the 
saloon arouses in me a desire to kill, but most of 
the time that side never touches me. I'm too busy 
looking for an opening into a heart. I love these 
fellows. I just can't help it." 

And the love of Higgins begat love in the men. 

* * I would give twenty years of my life if I could 



130 FRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

have the devotion of the men as Higgins has it/' 
one of the camp missionaries exclaimed. ^^The 
Master gave the secret ; it is a wonderful one and 
worth learning; *If any man would be first, he 
shall be last of all, and servant of all/ " 



AND MEN SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD 

SOME things cannot be hidden. Frank 
Higgins' work was staged in the unknown 
camps, far from the daily press, far from th^ 
sonnd of cities ; nevertheless, it came to the light 
of publicity. When transformed men cast off, like 
filthy rags, their lawlessness, others naturally in- 
quired the reasop. Homes in all parts of the land 
were gladdened by a word from, or the return of, 
wandering sons, brothers, and husbands, and the 
home folks learned that Higgins was back of the 
movement. When worthless workers became in- 
dustrious, honest, and reliable, when grouchers 
whistled at their work, and talked on wholesome 
topics, employers could not shut their eyes to the 
mission that changed problems into dividends. 
Emeraon of Concord said something about the 



132 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

world making a path to the door of the man whose 
work was good. In this missionary to the camps, 
Emerson's remark was again verified, for the 
wilderness worker, without advertising and seek- 
ing no honors, became the center of a widespread 
interest. 

At Cass Lake, Minnesota, a friend of the forest 
missionary entered into conversation with Mr. 
Thomas Nary, a man of prominence in the lumber 
industry of the state. He wished to learn the log- 
ger's thought concerning Higgins and his mission, 
and this is what Mr. Nary said: **When Mr. Hig- 
gins first asked to hold services in our camps, I 
told him it was useless. He persisted in his re- 
quest and I reluctantly granted permission. I felt, 
however, that nothing could help the men. I have 
changed my opinion, for Higgins' work has intro- 
duced new possibilities. In such work is the hope 
of the lumberjacks. A few more men like Frank 
Higgins and we would have less of hell in the 
pineries. ' ' 

*^Is the camp mission accomplishing any- 
thing?" a contractor who was the employer of 
many men was asked. 

**Well, rather! Some of the jacks are savin' 
money, takin' occasional baths, an' can pass a 
saloon without battin' an eye. Ain't these 
results ? ' ' 



MEN SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD 133 

Another logger answered the same question; 
**This preaching has braced many a weak back, 
and I know a number of honest men that, in the 
old days, I couldn't trust out of my sighf 

Logging is a dollar-creating proposition, not an 
organization to benefit humanity. It is sordid in 
that it destroys beauty for utility's sake. Beau- 
tiful woodland scenes are viewed as logs, and the 
giants of centuries are shorn of glory, becoming 
the food of saws and finally marketable board 
feet.. Sentiment has no place in lumbering. If 
the camp mission had not helped the workmen, the 
companies would have been the first to know it. 
When, however, they found their men more satis- 
fied, cleaner, better workers, the companies en- 
couraged the visits of the preadiers and passed 
the word to other concerns. The work was help- 
ing morale and morale meant more dollars. The 
corporations were not interested in the spiritual 
side; that was secondary, for ** business is busi- 
ness ' ' ! Because the mission helped the industry, 
the companies encouraged it and contributed to its 
success. 

All through the long years of the past, the log- 
gings companies have been guilty, with here and 
there an exception, of scanty attention to the ques- 
tion of housing. Too many, far too many, men 
were compelled to sleep under the same roof. 



■icr- - - 



i 



134 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

Personal cleanliness was impossible because no 
provision had been made for such an urgent need 
as bathing. In the bunks, men were not the only 
living creatures. The sleeping quarters had little 
merit beyond sheltering the men from wind and 
rain. 

Poorly ventilated, f oul-smelling, infested camps 
were the rule when Higgins began his work. It ! 

is not fair to credit Frank Higgins with all the 
changes that have been wrought; others have 
helped greatly, but to him must be given a meed 
of praise. He, at least, was one of the first, per* 
haps the first, publicly to describe camp condi- 
tions to the outside world. He talked with ab- 
sentee owners, men who had never seen the inside 
of their own camps, and secured their personal in- 
terest and help. He made suggestions to foremen 
and officials, and gradually improvements were 
introduced. 

In the newer camps of the far west (though not 
in all of them) a marvelous movement has begun. 
Sanitation and order have obtained a prominent 
place. The workmen are housed in smaller 
groups and privacy becomes possible. Shower 
baths add to self-respect. The long evenings and 
longer Sundays have become bearable through 
recreation rooms. Steam heat, running water, 
and electric light are parts of the camp equip- 



, AND ADEQUATE 



TDK NFW VohK 

PUBIIC LIBIUHV 



A8T0R. LENOX ASC- 

TILIiKN ForNhAiu.NS 

B L 



^' 



MEN SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD 135 

ment Clean white sheets, washed bla^okets, and 
iron bedsteads with mattresses, have robbed the 
former pests of their time-honored immunity. 
There are camps where no workman is admitted 
imtil he has first taken a shower bath and his 
clothing has been fimiigated. 

The filthy camp has not entirely disappeared. 
There are some owners who are impervious to 
reason, to the gospel of cleanliness, and the march 
of improvement. Such will still continue to rear 
their abominations; but the larger companies, 
with few exceptions, have seen the light and are 
following the gleam. If Frank Higgins had done 
nothing more than hastened the coming of this 
better day, he would have earned the lumberjacks' 
eternal gratitude. 

The idea has grown beyond the mere question 
of housing. Out of it has come a welfare move- 
ment which includes the recreations and education 
of the workers. This phase has been fostered 
largely by the Young Men's Christian Associa- 
tion, and secretaries have been placed in a few 
western camps. 

Appreciation came to ffiggins personally. 
Praise touched him deeply, awakening a spirit of 
self-depreciation. He seemed unaware of having 
done unusual work. It all appeared commonplace 
to him. He claimed no credit even for his big 



136 FRANK HIOGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

endeavors — ^he did not know how to pose as a 
hero. All compliments made him conscious of his 
littleness; they did not puff him up; one might 
almost say they humiliated him. 

Once, near the close of a heart-breaking winter 
that had demanded overmuch of his strength, 
Higgins found himself going to the camp with 
aching muscles, unsteady step, and throbbing 
head. He was wretched, nauseated with sickness, 
and scarcely able to travel against the wind- 
driven snow. No shelter offered itself and there 
would be none until the distant camp was reached. 
How he covered the miles he never knew. A haze 
crowded his recollection, blurring the hours. 
When at last he reached the camp-clearing, he was 
spent; his body could go no farther and he fell 
forward, unconscious. There the lumberjacks 
found him lying in the snow. With rough kind- 
ness they carried him to shelter, put him to bed, 
and wondered how they could minister to his 
necessities. They wanted to do much for the man 
who had done much for them, they had little to 
do with, and the case was urgent. 

In the bunk house the men discussed the pilot's 
condition. 

** Whisky's a good thing for one that's ailinV' 
they hazarded. But every man knew that whisky 
wouldn't keep in that camp. 



MEN SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD 137 

It was the same with all the remedies sug- 
gested ; they were not to be obtained, 

**We ean^t give him medicine, for we haven't 
got it,*' said a Christian sawyer, *^but I'll tell you, 
boys, we can pray for the man who is always pray- 
ing for us.'' 

Then came silence. The idea gripped these men 
unused to prayer. Helpless to do, wishing to do 
much, why could they not pray for the pilot ? And 
because they knew not how to pray, they were 
silent in the presence of their great perplexity. 

< i yf-Q 9yQ never logged much on that land, ' ' said 
a driver. Turning to the sawyer, ** Johnson, you 
start the deal, for you are onto that game. Say it 
out loud and we '11 sort of keep you company. ' ' 

And so, in the voice of one, the whole camp 
united its petition for the health of the man who 
was always praying for them. 

When Higgins heard of the praying lumber- 
jacks he wept, and when he told of the incident 
his eyes dimmed. ** Does n't it make a fellow 
humble to meet with a thing like that ? ' ' 

The lumberjacks are wanderers, fixed to no 
place or position. Minnesota may know them this 
winter and the Pacific coast or Southern camps 
the following summer. They are birds of passage, 
nesting in the forest camps. Many states receive 
their labors and few their citizenship. At first 



138 PRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

Frank Higgins worked in central Minnesota, but 
the restless jacks in other places wanted religious 
services and other missionaries were enlisted to 
meet the increasing demands. A camp preacher 
was placed in the lumber district of Maine ; Mon- 
tana's scattered camps received services; while 
Idaho, Washington, and Oregon also became 
centers for camp preaching. The Synod of New 
York organized the work in the Adirondacks and 
the Synod of Michigan appointed its messengers 
of hope. 

This is the present extent of the effort made to 
reach the woodsmen, and this covers only a small 
part of the great lumber field. Lumbering is an 
important industry in two thirds of our states, 
and only eight of them have the assistance of or- 
ganized effort. A good beginning has been made 
along the lines blazed by Higgins, but only a be- 
ginning. Perhaps, in the wider lines of the Inter- 
church World Movement, the day is not far dis- 
tant when new states will enter on the work and 
the great opportunities of the hour will then be 
seized for Christ and his church. May the day be 
hastened, for the need is vital and very present. 

The work has proved its own worth. It needs 
no justification even in states where it has not yet 
entered. The old-timers everywhere are always 
ready to welcome it. Speaking of his first trip to 



MEN SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD 139 

I 

the State of Washington, Higgins said: **In a 
town where no religious organization was at work, 
I held service in the dance hall. There were sev- 
enty-five present, sixty of whom were woodsmen. 
After the meeting two lumberjacks hailed me. 
* Hello, Pilot 1 We're from Minnesota. Heard 
you preach in the Clearwater Camps back there. 
We're the ones that rustled the crowd for you 
to-night.' On another occasion I was to speak 
in the open air. An old Minnesota campman 
brought a pitcher of lemonade and placed it by 
my side. After the meeting he invited me to his 
home and wanted me to make it mine while I 
labored in that place. ' ' 

Until the spring of 1909, Frank Higgins de- 
voted almost all his time to actual work in the 
camps, allowing himself only occasional visits to 
the near-by churches, where he presented the 
story of the woodsmen. The many invitations to 
**gad about the country" did not appeal to him; 
he preferred the boys and the woods, where he 
was happiest when telling the story of redemption. 
He was too busy to respond to the call of the 
cities. 

The demand, however, became insistent ; and in 
1909 the Board of Home Missions arranged an 
itinerary through the eastern churches, where he 
met a welcome that amazed even his most enthusi- 



140 FRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

astic friends. A secretary of the Board said, **I 
do not know of any other home missionary who 
has so stirred the churches with the story of 
frontier work. It is not possible for him to re- 
spond to the numerous invitations that are flood- 
ing the office. ' ' 

TEis rough man of the forest made a deep and 
lasting impression on the cultured and wealthy 
churches. He was lionized, accepted by rich and 
poor, and was equally at home in the rescue mis- 
sipja and in the mansion. When he rose to speak 
at theSocial Union of Philadelphia in the Belle- 
vue-Stratford, he said: **I'm not used to all this 
fuss and feathers, and I'd be scared to death if 
it weren 't for one thing ; I know more about my 
subject than any of you, and while I stick to that 
I'm safe. I assure you, gentlemen, I'm going to 

Utick to my text. ' ' 

When the news of successes drifted back to 
Minnesota, his friends wondered how this sudden 
popularity would affect him. His life had been a 
constant struggle. Sacrifice had trod on the heels 
of sacrifice. The scant praise that had come to him 
had been the embarrassed words of simple folk, 
of rough men, of publicans and sinners. Would 
he be spoiled, — changed from the simple, free- 
handed, lovable fellow into a vanity-possessed 
manf This was the question of many. A wealthy 



MEN SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD 141 

lumbermaii wrote him with all the tenderness of 
a father : 



**My dbab boy Frank : 

* * I know you are a man, almost as old as myself, 
but to me you will always be a big, lovable boy. 
In these days of triumph, may God keep you and 
send you back to us the same boy that went away. 
The plaudits of men and the praise of new people 
must not lift you off your feet. This is your time 
for prayer so that prosperity shall not change 
you. I am afraid that all this attention may un- 
consciously work in you a feeling of your own 
strength, and we are praying that it will drive 
you, in weakness, to cling closer. You were used 
of God as you were, and if you so remain he will 
use you still more. * ' 

And a lumberjack wrote to him : 

^^Dbab Sky Pilot Higgins: 

^*WeVe heard how you're hitting it high in the 
east and we're interested. We knew you'd make 
good. Any windjammer who can log with us can 
break a safe load anywhere. Don't let the fizz go 
to your head ; keep it below the belt. If your hat 
pinches, bolt for the timber. We 're glad you are 
it, we wanted you to be, and we knew you had the 
right bark mark. Keep cool, hew to the line, and 
don't get punky or you'll be left with the slash- 
ings." 



142 PRANK HIGGINS : TRAIL BLAZER 

All these fears were groundless. His friends 
should have known better than to doubt him. 
Nothing changed him; he was the same big boy, 
a little wiser and broader-minded, but of un- 
changed spirit. 
% While in the east he might, perhaps, have 
passed for an easterner; but even when far from 
the pineries, his thoughts were ever with **his 
boys'* and he rejoiced when the time came to 
shoulder his pack-sack and tramp to the camps. 

On his return he told of his trip, interspersing 
the narration with inimitable comments. Most 
of all he laughed over the ' ' breaks * ' he made. One 
jiOJiem was as follows: A dinner given in his 

r honor was more elaborate than any he had ever 
attended. Near the end of the meal he was con- 
gratulating himself that he had escaped its many 
pitfalls, when a fine, cut-glass finger-bowl, in 
which floated a rose, was proffered to him. Hig- 
gins, unaware of its purpose, looked admiringly 
at the rose, then he took the flower and placed 
it in his buttonhole. On looking around, he saw 
the next guest daintily dipping her finger-tips in 
her bowl. Then he knew why the other guests 
were consciously busy with needless actions. He 
realized that he had made a mistake. 

*'So that's the idea,*' he laughed, *'a bath, ehf 
That's another good one on me. Well, if you want 



MEN SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD 143 

a lumberjack to take a bath, you'll have to pro- 
vide a bigger tub.** 

" Higgins often slipped off a log, but he always 
bobbed up smiling. 

The churches saw more of Higgins after his 
first trip east. They found that he possessed rare 
ability and awakened a genuine interest in frontier 
missions. He was a part of the life he described. 
The tang and spice of pine flavored his speech. 
He was a breeze from the big woods, — ^human, in- 
spired, lovable, and on fire with zeal for his 
*'boys." Others caught his unselfish spirit and 
unselfishly lent him assistance. On a number of 
occasions he addressed the General Assembly, 
speaking with the same telling effect and as force- 
fully as if addressing the men of the bunk houses. 

In behalf of the work, he visited Canada and 
England, where his story met a hearty welcome, 
resulting in a multitude of invitations to address 
churches all over the British Isles. Men saw the 
generous soul, seeking not its own, and knew that 
he deserved the **well done, good and faithful 
servant.*' 



_ THE MARKS OF THE MASTER 

DURING the fall of 1913, the first symptoms 
of the malady which caused Prank Hig- 
gins' death made their appearance. He 
was at that time in Princeton, New Jersey, where 
he had lectured to the Seminary students. As 
he passed out of Miller Chapel, a depression in 
the sidewalk caused him to stumble, and a severe 
pain shot through his left shoulder. Careful 
examination failed to reveal the seat of the 
trouble. Prom that time on he was never free 
from discomfort. The following March, while 
on his way to the western camps, his -train was 
wrecked near Spokane. Higgins received minor 
bruises and was sent to a hospital where the X-ray 
made clear the old trouble in the shoulder. It was 
sarcoma. Later, an operation, which resulted in 



146 PRANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

the removal of a portion of the left clavicle, gave 
temporary relief and hope. In less than three 
weeks he was again on the platform, pleading the 
cause of the woods. But his once powerful frame 
was forced slowly to give up its strength, al- 
though his spirit retained the old-time vigor and 
enthusiasm. As the fall approached, the right 
collar-bone became the seat of distress. A second 
operation revealed the same condition there. 

The hard, body-breaking labor of former days 
was presenting its demands for payment. Those 
heavy loads, carried over many snowy trails to 
give comfort to the wayward foresters, were the 
direct cause of Frank Higgins' death at the age 
of forty-nine. Where the shoulder-straps of the 
packs had pressed, there the disease appeared. 
He was dying, bearing in his body the marks of 
the Master. He had lived for a cause and for that 
cause he died on the fourth of January, 1915. 

He was faithful unto the end. Although suffer- 
ing greatly, he insisted to the last in presenting 
the lumberjacks' cause. At North East, Pennsyl- 
vania, Higgins could scarcely stand while making 
an address, yet never did he speak with such con- 
viction. His bodily vigor was absent and in its 
place a pervading quiet had come. 

Tenderly, lovingly he pleaded, the same earnest 
Higgins but strangely, grandly new. The same, 



THE MASKS OF THE MASTEE 147 

yet different, re-made, spiritually refined. Those 
who heard him knew the pilot's feet were touch- 
ing another shore. His last drive was almost in, 
his contract was cut, and the landing was in sight. 
A few days later, when leaving New York on his 
way to Bryn Mawr for what proved to be his last 
speaking engagement, the beloved sky pilot was 
forced by weakness to call a porter to his assist- 
ance. 

As the colored man took his satchel, Higgins 
said, ** Brother, I'm about all in. I'll have to lean 
on you, ' ' and he put his arm over the supporting 
shoulders of the negro. 

When they came to the train, Higgins offered 
the customary tip, but the porter waved it aside. 
**I couldn't take your money." 

^*Why nott" asked the astonished Higgins. 
^^Isn'titgoodt" 

** Don't you know? You called me hr other; you 
asked about my mother, my wife, my children. I 
just couldn't take your money." 

When Higgins returned to New York, he 
needed assistance far more than when he went to 
Bryn Mawr, but he didn't have to ask for it. The 
same colored brother saw him, ran to his assist- 
ance, and almost carried him to a taxi-cab. Again 
Higgins offered a tip and again the porter waved 
it aside. 



[. 



148 PEANK HIGGINS: TRAIL BLAZER 

**I couldn't take your money; you called me 
^brother.' '' 

Higgins had paid his way, not with corruptible 
things such as silver and gold, but with brother- 
hood — ^a coin of the Kingdom of Heaven. 



^