Skip to main content

Full text of "A history of Nebraska Methodism, first half-century, 1854-1904"

See other formats

Gc !• ' ^-'^ 






■ III Hill 

3 1833 

065 1104 

. >. .-J v.r. .1 K *» ;. ■,■ ■■■> 



Nebraska Methodism 






The Western Methodist Book Concern Press 


Copyright, 1904, by 


PREFACE, ^o^^r-. 


Thirty-four years ago, Dr. W. B. Slaughter was se- 
lected as Conference Historian. He fully intended to 
write a history and sent out circular letters calling for 
the requisite information, but so few responded that he 
became discouraged and abandoned the undertaking. 
Some fifteen years ago Dr. Maxfield sent out circular 
letters with the same object in view, but failed to get 
^ enough data to justify him in going on with the work. 

■^ It is a matter of very great regret indeed that one or the 

other of these men should not have completed this impor- 
tant task. Besides being far better qualified for the 
M'ork than the author, they were then in possession of 
many sources of information that have since passed be- 
"^ yond our reach. 

^ These facts show that Nebraska Methodism has long 

j~^ felt the need of such a history. This desire found fur- 

i ther expression in the organization of Conference His- 

\ torical Societies, and more recently in the organization, 

^ by the concurrent action of all the Conferences, of the 

Methodist Historical Society of Nebraska, and the ap- 
- pointment of a man to collect and care for material. It 

■^ took still more definite form when at a meeting of the 


2 Preface. 

State Methodist Historical Society, in 1902, the author 
was requested to prepare such a history. As correspond- 
ing secretary of the society I had already spent more than 
a year collecting material and had made a study of this 
material for a sketch of our history for the J. Sterling 
Morton History of Nebraska, now being published. 

I accepted the task with fear and trembling, having 
even then some conception of its magnitude and a keen 
sense of inadequacy, but with a conviction that some one 
ought at once to perform that service. I have found the 
undertaking much larger and the difficulties greater than 
I anticipated. I can only say that for three years, with 
much pleasure and profit, I have wrought diligently at 
the task. That the result is satisfactory to myself, or 
will be above just criticism by others, I do not claim. 
But such as it is, I send it forth on its mission, praying 
that God may use it for good notwithstanding its defects. 

Several plans presented themselves, either of which 1 
might have pursued. I might have taken each charge in 
order and written a history of that charge for the entire 
time of its existence, and printed these four hundred sep- 
arate histories in a single volume ; or I might have given 
a biographical sketch of each oi the more than eight hun- 
dred preachers who have at some time wrought in the 
field, together with hundreds of worthy laymen. But 
neither of these plans seemed best nor practicable. My 
plan has been to give a picture of the movement as a 
whole, by which Nebraska Methodism has become what 

Preface;. 3 

it is and done what it has. treating in greater fullness of 
detail the earlier periods when the Church was in the mak- 
ing. I have used such details in biography and events as 
seemed best suited to this purpose. I may not have done 
justice to every one and I may have overestimated some 
and even overlooked men and events that should have 
been mentioned. But I have not intentionally done so. 

It was originally my plan to devote about two hundred 
pages to the history and one hundred pages to biograph- 
ical sketches. But I found the history and the biography 
so inextricably mingled, the history being in large meas- 
ure but the biography of the workers, and the biography 
constituting so much of the history, that I have not tried 
to separate them. In a few typical cases, like Adriance, 
\\'ells, and Charles. I have used some of their biography 
as part of the history, they telling their own story and 
illustrating some phase of the work. 

Concerning portraits, I have declined to have any one 
pay for their cuts, bearing this expense myself. ^ly pur- 
pose has been to make this feature help to tell the story 
and be itself a part of the history rather than for the sake 
of the parties whose portraits appear, or their admiring 
friends. The following principles have determined the 
selection : I have assumed that the reader would like to 
look into the face of each one connected with the work 
during the fifties and sixties. Of such as came in later 
I have selected those upon whom the Church herself has 
placed her stamp of approval by selecting them as pre- 

4 PRErACii:, 

siding elders or electing them delegates to the General 
Conference, the latter class including the laymen so hon- 
ored. Besides these there are some who have been called 
to special work along missionary, educational, or char- 
itable lines. I have not been able to secure quite all the 
earlier ones and a very few of the later have neglected 
or declined to send photographs, though twice solicited to 
do so. It is not intended that any portrait shall appear 
twice, each one being assigned to the group representing 
the most important work to which the person has been 

I have drawn on many sources for the facts related, 
but am especially under obligation to Hiram Burch, Jacob 
Adriance, John Gallagher, and Dr. P. C. Johnson. Also 
to Dr. Goode's "Outposts of Zion," Dr. Davis's "Solitary 
Places Made Glad," Rev. James Haynes's "History of 
Omaha Methodism," and Rev. C. W. Wells's book, 
"Frontier Life." I am also indebted to Mr. Barrett and 
other officials of the State Historical Society for many 

I had expected to compress the printed matter into 
300 pages, but in order to do justice to the subject I 
have been compelled to add 100 or more pages. 

The Author. 




First Possessors of Nebraska: Indians, French, Spaniards, then 
Napoleon — His scheme of colonization — The L,ouisiana 
Purchase — God's purpose — the Chief Factors in its Accomp- 
lishment — Ivcckey on National Greatness — Bancroft's Esti- 
mate of Methodism — President Roosevelt on the Pioneers 
and Pioneer Methodist Preachers. The Problem : The 
Settlers found Nothing they needed and must make 
everything 13-23 

Chapter I.— First Events. 

Appointment of Dr. W. H. Goode — Illustrates Elements of Power 
in Methodism — Best Men to the Front — Dr. Goode's 
Leadership in Indiana Conference — His Journey to Kansas 
— From Kansas to Nebraska — Nemaha— Old Fort Kearney 
— First Lots donated for Church — First Visit to Omaha — 
His First Sermon in Nebraska — Returns to Indiana — Re- 
ports, and is appointed Superintendent of Missions 25-35 

Chapter II.— P^irst Period. (1854-1861.) 

Dr. Goode, Superintendent of Missions — Second Visit to Ne- 
braska—Responses to call for Help— Collins— Hart— Burch 
— W. D. Gage, First Pastor appointed — Coincidence— First 
Class formed— First Church built— First Class at Nebraska 
City. Omaha: Arrival of First Pastor— Methodism the 
First on the Field with Pastor— Organization— Church- 
Isaac Collins— First Class— Probable Members- Building 
of the First Church— J. M. Chivington, J. W. Taylor, W. M. 
Smith— Collins's Successors 36-62 

Chapter III.— First Period. (1854-1861.) 

Development of Work in South Platte Country— Nemaha Mission 
—David Hart— Incident— First Class in Pawnee County— 
In Richardson County— Circuit changes Form and Name- 
Falls City— Table Rock— Founding of Beatrice— Incident— 


6 Contents. 

Brownville — London — Tecumseh — Nebraska City — The 
Chivingtons — ^Jacob SoUenburger — Z. B. Turman — Platts- 
mouth— First Class— David Hart— Mt. Pleasant—" Uncle " 
Stephen Hobson— Martin Pritchard— J. T. Cannon, Sketch 
of his lyife 63-83 

Chapter IV.— First Period. (1854-1861.) 

Development of Work in North Platte Country — Founding of 
Fremont — Forming Class — The Two Rogers — ^Jerome Spill 
man's Preaching — Florence — Calhoun — De Soto— Death of 
Dr. Goode's Wife— Jacob Adriance— Dead Dog Incident at 
De Soto — First Class and Sunday-school— Cuming City — 
Tekamah— L. F. Stringfield — Decatur — T. B. Lemon— 
Omadi or Dakota City visited by Dr. Goode in 1858 — Platte 
Valley Circuit — Adriance goes to Colorado — Experiences 
there — Marriage 84-1 10 

Chapter V.— First Period. (1854-1861.) 

Camp-meetings : First one held at Carroll's Grove in 1856 — Sec- 
ond one, same Year, near Nebraska City — Third, in Rich- 
ardson County — Another one at Carroll's Grove. Confer- 
ences : Iowa and Missouri — Kansas-Nebraska Conference 
— First Session at Lawrence, Kansas, October — Held in a 
Tent —Preachers Armed — Statistics for Nebraska Portion — 
Conference Minutes — Time of Meeting changed to spring, 
the Next Conference year, six months — Second Session at 
Nebraska City— Bishop Ames did not arrive till Sabbath— 
Dr. Goode presided— Thrilling Adventure — Third Session 
at Topeka — Trip of the Nebraska Contingent — Fourth Ses- 
sion at Omaha— " Pike's Peak and Cherry Valley" (Col.) 
on the List of Appointments — Fifth and Last Session of 
Kansas-Nebraska Conference — Resolutions on Slavery ... .111-122 

Chapter VI.— First Period. (1854-1861.) Conclusion. 

Progress Under Difficulties, but Progress— Dr. Goode's Part of 
the Work— His Generous Tribute to the Workers — His Ret- 
rospect—Tributes to Dr. Goode's Worth 123-129 

Chapter VII.— Second Period. (1861-1870.) 

First Nebraska Conference : Great Events Pending— Relation of 
Nebraska to these— Personnel of the Conference— Outlook 
Unpromising. Three Great Leaders : Davis, Lemon, and 
Maxfield— Dr. Buckley's Estimate of Maxfield — Other 
Strong Men join the Ranks— Statistics — Average Salaries. 130-144 


Chapter Vlir.— Second Period. (1861-1870.) page 

During- War Time : Little Progress — Missouri Refugees — Great 
Difficulties— Excitement— Bitter Feelings — S. R. Trickett 
shut out of Plattsniouth Church— Indian Troubles— Num- 
ber of Charges decrease — F'alls City — Table Rock — Brown- 
ville — Pawnee City — First Parsonage — How Built— Gra- 
cious Revivals — Beatrice — Maxfield — Rulo — P. B. Ruch — 
Burch at Brownville — Tecumseh — L,. F. Britt — Helena — 
SoUenburger— Saltillo— Rock Bluffs— Plattsmouth— J. G. 
Miller — Peru^esse L,. Fort 145-166 

Chapter IX.— Second Period. (1861-1870.) 

New Tendency toward Large Cities — Sunday-school Work — 
Nebraska City — T. B. Lemon — Great Revival — Nebraska 
City District— H. T. Davis— Follows T. B. Lemon as Pastor 
at Nebraska City— Is followed by G. S. Alexander — Sketch 
of his Life and Characteristics— Omaha — Obstacles to the 
Work — David Hart — Is succeeded by T. B. Lemon — His 
Popularity and Success — Growth of Church — W. M. Smith 
— W. B. Slaughter — Haynes's Sketch of Life and Character 
— Special Transfer — H. C. Westwood's Pastorate — Gilbert 
De La Matyr — Omaha District served by W. M. Smith, 
Isaac Burns, T. B. Lemon, and A. G. White 167-187 

Chapter X. 

Omaha District : Bellevue — Elkhorn — Platte Valley — Fort Kear- 
ney — Calhoun — Parsonage built by A. G. White — De Soto 
— Tekamah — Decatur — Dakota — Few Churches or Parson- 
ages — War closes and Nebraska soon after becomes a Free 
State— Summary of Results— C. W. Giddings, Sketch of 
his Life 188-197 

Chapter XL— After the War. (1865-1870. ) 

Increase in Immigration— Causes— More Helpful Agencies — 
Church Extension Society — Re-enforcements — Growth of 
Church at Nebraska City— Omaha— Peru— Pawnee City- 
Beatrice— Plattsmouth— Fremont— The Rogers and Van 
Andas — New Charges— Among these, Fremont, Schuyler, 
Grand Island, Blue Springs, Ashland, and Lincoln, soon 
attain Importance 198-209 

Chapter XII.— Third Period. (1870-1880.) 

General Features : Expansion— Great Influx of People and Great 
Revivals— Rapid Growth of Cities— Revival Incidents- 
Conversion of "General" Dane and the Fiddler— Era of 
R. R. Building— Missionary Appropriations, ours compared 
with the other Churches— Methodism keeps Men in the 
Field when others can not— Father Janney's Explanation- 
District Work— Difficulties— Strong Men at the Front- 
Methodism's Reserve Force— Local Preachers 210-227 

8 Contents. 

Chapter XIII. — Third Period. (1870-1880.) page 

Conference of 1870 — Statistics — Great Responsibilities — Spon- 
taneous Movements — Local Preachers hold Revivals, or- 
ganize Classes and Circuits — David Fetz and Moses Mapes 
in Webster County — ^James Query in Polk County — Organ- 
izes First Class — George Worley in Butler, Saunders, and 
Seward — C. G. Rouse in Antelope County— The Worley 
Family — William — Thomas— James. Regular Movements : 
C. W. Wells in Republican Valley— G. W. Gue in Fillmore 
— Newman Brass in Clay — W. E. Morgan — First Class in 
York County— Father and Mother Baker— H. T. Davis 
crosses Swollen Stream in Sorghum Pan — York — ^J. S. 
Blackburn— G. A. Smith— W. G. Miller— J. W. Stewart.. . .228-254 

Chapter XIV. — Third Period. (1870-1880.) 

Development in North Nebraska : Logan Valley — Class formed 
at Lyons — Dakota City — Covington District formed with 
S. P. Van Doozer, P. E. — Sketch of his Work — Succeeded by 
J. B. Maxfield— The Work on the Elkhorn— Madison— Nor- 
folk — Oakdale — George H. Wehn — Camp-meeting — ^Jabez 
Charles — Madison and Boone Counties — Albion — St. Ed- 
wards — Church built at Madison — Camp-meeting — C. G. 
Rouse. Omaha : Second Church — South Tenth Street — 
First Church— G. W. Gue— New Factor— Phenomenal S. S. 
with Samuel Burns, Superintendent — Clark Wright — Mag- 
gie Van Cott— Great Revival— But Church Divided— L. F. 
Britt — Church turned over to Creditors — H. D. Fisher — 
Church on Davenport Street — ^J. B. Maxfield — Eighteenth 
Street Church — Lemon, Pardee, Johnson, Beans, Shenk, 
and Leedom as Pastors — South Tenth Street^. M. Adair, 
John P. Roe, P. C. Johnson, D. Marquette, Pastors 255-275 

Chapter XV. — Third Period. (1870-1880.) 

Lincoln : First Preachers — Z. B. Turman and R. S. Hawkes — 
Capital located in 1867— H. T. Davis, First Pastor— Little 
Church on Tenth and Q— Church built on M Street— J. J. 
Roberts— Close of his Career— Mrs. M. E. Roberts — Tribute 
by one of "her Boys" — George S. Alexander — W. B. 
Slaughter — S. H. Henderson — A. L. Folden — Beginnings 
of Trinity — Sharon — A. C. Williams 276-293 

Chapter XVI.— General Survey. (1870-1880.) 

Some Old Appointments dropping out — Others becoming Strong 
— Camp-meeting at Mt. Pleasant — In these Methodism a 
Power — Extension of the Work — Nebraska Circuits — Bea- 
trice District— Beatrice— Sterling and Crab Orchard— T. A. 
Hull — Camp-meeting — Fairbury— Parsonage built — E. Wil- 
kinson—Fairmont—Crete — Dr. Maxfield— His Report o'" 
District — Succeeded by George W. Elwood — Progress of 
Work on Beatrice District — Great Revivals — Reports — D. F. 
Rodabaugh succeeds Elwood — Sketch of his Life 294-304 

Contents. 9 

Chapter XVII. — Kearney District. (1870-1880.) Page 

A. G. White, P. E.— First Report— New Circuits— Hamilton 
County— C. L. Smith— Claj- County— E. J.Willis— St. Paul- 
Richard Pearson — Kearney Circuit — D. A. Crowell— Grand 
Island — Wood River — ^Jepthah Marsh — Red Cloud — Charles 
Reilly — Clarksville — Pastor "Expected Little and was not 
disappointed" — First Year's Work — Grasshopper Scourge 
— Four Years' Progress 305-323 

Chapter XVIII. — Kearney District. (Continued.) 

B. Lemon, P. E. — Progress Slow First Year — Rapid After- 
wards — First Report— Beginnings of Kearney District — 
C. A. Hale — First Preacher in Custer County — Kearney — 
John Armstrong — North Platte — Edward Thompson — Has- 
tings — A. C. Crosthwaite — C. L. Brockway — Leslie Stevens, 
P. E. — Missionary— E. G. Fowler— Ord— William Esplin— 
C. A. Mastin — David Fetz— J. M. Dressier— P. C. Johnson- 
Sketch of Career — Some of the Laity, Tribute to— Growth 
of District 324-344 

Chapter XIX.— Fourth Period. (1880-1904.) 

Development and Organization of the Conferences— North Ne- 
braska — The Annual Conference — Functions of — Duty of 
Preachers to attend— West Nebraska Mission — North Ne- 
braska Conference — Names of First Members — Maxfield, 
Adriance, Worley, Van Doozer, Charles and D. S. Davis 
have already received some Mention— Others mentioned 
Briefly— J. B. Leedom— A. Hodgetts— Appointed P.E., Elk- 
horn Vallev District with 19 Appointments, 17 to be sup- 
plied—The' Men secured— Difficulties of Presiding Elders 
— Neligh— J. W. Phelps— Oakdale—D. C. Winship— C. M. 
Griffith— Thomas Thompson — District Camp-meeting— 
Albion District— S. P. Van Doozer— Sudden Close of his 
Career— W. H. Carter— J. R. Gearhart-J. Q. A. Fleharty— • 
C. F. Hey wood— J. W. Shenk— J. W. Stewart— Father Jan- 
ney— J. L. St. Clair— E. L. Fox— J. B. Priest— John P. Roe 
—J. R. Gortner 345-374 

Chapter XX.— Fourth Period. (1880-1904.) 

Organization of Conferences Continued.— Dr. Lemon's Report. 

West Nebraska Conference : Progress from 1880 to 1885— Statis- 
tics— Leaders of the Hosts— T. B. Lemon— P. C. John- 
son—George W. Martin— West Nebraska Conference or- 
ganized— Members— Asburj- Collins and his Wife, Louisa 
Collins— First Members of Church at Kearnej— W. A. 
Amsbary— James Lisle— T. W. Owen— James Leonard— 
O. R. Beebe— Joseph Buckley— Dr. Lemon retires— Trib- 
ute paid him— Close of his Career 375-391 

lo Contents. 

Chapter XXI. Page 

Northwest Conference : Development began in the Early Eighties 
— Visit of Dr. Lemon — Changes in Boundary Lines. Suc- 
cessive Presiding Elders: Lemon, Johnson, and Martin — 
The Men on the Picket Line — Owens, Friggens, Scama- 
horn, and Jos. Grey — Indiana's Contribution to Nebraska 
Methodism— T. C. Webster and A. R.Julian lead the Hosts 
— Conference holds First Session, 1893 — Members — Further 
Mention of some — Chas. H. Burleigh — Stephen A. Beck — 
D. J. Clark— W. O. Glassner— Two Districts formed, and 
P. H. Eighmy and J. A. Scamahorn succeed A. R. Julian — 
Adverse Conditions 392-404 

Chapter XXII. — Fourth Period. (1880-1904.) 

Development of Strong Churches. 

Progress in East and West part of the State — Growth of Work in 
Cities — Omaha — Rapid Growth in Population — Expansion 
— Soiitli Tenth Street — Seward — New Work — Hanscom 
Park— H. H. Millard— South Omaha the "Magic City "— 
First Church planted there— Trinity— Walnut Hill—" LefiF- 
ler Memorial " — Southwest Church — " Hirst Memorial" — 
Benson — McCabe — The old First Church continues to pros- 
per — Total Membership of Omaha Churches — Lincoln — 
Rapid Progress — Statistics for 1880 — Trinity — Stokely D. 
Roberts — Close of his Career — Origin of Grace Church — 
University Place — Marvelous Growth and Unique Church — 
Emmanuel — Epworth— Asbury — Bethel — St. Paul— Growth 
of Lincoln Methodism — P. W. Howe and Charity— Growth 
of large Churches elsewhere in the Conferences — The Cir- 
cuit and Rural Work diminishing — Causes — Possible Bene- 
fits of new Conditions 405-435 

Chapter XXIII. — German and Scandinavian Work. 

German Work : First Sermon — First Pastor — General Conditions 
— First Class formed — Size of Districts and Circuits — Ex- 
tension of Work First Nine Years — Statistics — Work keeps 
Pace with Population-Lauenstein's Great Circuit-Statistics 
for 1890 — Last Ten Years under adverse Conditions — But 
still growing— Statistics for 1903. Scandinavian or Swed- 
ish Work ; First Movement in 187 1 — Real Beginning at 
Oakland in 1877 — Excellent Work since — Statistics for 
1902. Norwegian: Began in 1880 — Present Number 65 436-446 

Chapter XXIV.— Fourth Period. (1880-1904.) 

Expansion in the Direction of Wider Activities. 

Nebraska Methodism needed Help at first — Must henceforth be 
a Helper — Better Provision for her own Young People — 
Helpful Agencies — Church Extension — Freedmen's Aid — 
W. H. M. S. — World Movements — Parent and Woman's 

Contents. h 

Foreign Missionary Societies— Last Twenty- five Years con- 
trasted with the First— W. F. M. S.— Bishop Warne's Trib- 
ute— W. H. M. S.— Valuable Aid during- Drouth— Increas- 
ing Range of their Work — Church Extension Help — 
Pressing Need for Churches — Era of Church-building — 
McCabe Frontier Fund— Number of Churches and Parson- 
ages built 447-464 

Chapter XXV. — Nebrask.\ Methodism and Christian 


Simpson University — Oreapolis Seminary — Peru Offer — Private 
Enterpri-es — Subject considered at every Conference — No 
Action till 1879 — York Seminary opened in 1880 — Edward 
Thomson President — Seminary established at Central City 
in 1884-5 — Mallalieu School— First Movement toward Uni- 
fication — Concurrent Action of Conferences — Commission 
of 28 appointed — Names of Commission — Meet in Lincoln 
in December, 18S6 — Unification Plan adopted — Nebraska 
Wesleyan established, University Place laid out — Dr. 
Creighton elected Chancellor — Building Started — Haish 
Manual-training School — Destroyed by Fire — Financial 
Difficulties — Causes — First Twelve Years — Final Triumph 
— Ellenwood Affair — Debt paid — Creighton, Crook, and 
Huntington — Present Condition — Prospects — University 
Place— Strong Church — Wholesome Moral Surroundings — 
Preparatory Schools — Douglas — Orleans — Some of those 
who have helped — Governor Mickey — C. C. White — A. L. 
Johnson— J. M. Stewart — Attitude of Methodism toward 
Education in General — Approves Public-school System — 
Supplements State Institutions — Peru and Lincoln Meth- 
odism, and the State Normal, and State University — 
J. M. McKenzie's Work 465-507 

Chapter XXVI. — Some Subordinate Agencies and 

Hospital at Omaha — Inception — Agitation — Consummation — 
Haynes' Account — Property purchased — Progress — New 
Building^Number cared for — Deaconess Work — Mothers' 
Jewels Home — Beginnings — Location at York — Dr. Arm- 
strong — -Burwell and Isabella Spurlock — Letters showing 
Nature of Work done — Epworth League — Epworth As- 
sembly— (9wa/^a Christian Advocate — Origin — ^First Years 
of Struggle— George S. Davis, D. D., J. W. Shenk, D. D.— 
Recognized by General Conference — Subsidy appropriated 
• — Commission appointed — Success — Finally combined with 
Rocky Mountain ■AXiA. Central Christian Advocates — Evan- 
gelists — Rapid Development of Movement — Recognized by 
Church ^ Success — Temperance Reform — Admission of 
Women to General Conference 50^533 

12 Contents. 

Chapter XXVII. Page 

Some of the older Workers who have passed away, and some who 
still remain — White — Van Doozer — Lemon — Maxfield— 
Last Illness— Memorial Service— Tribute of Friends — Trib- 
ute of North Nebraska Conference— H. T. Davis— Passes 
away during last Session of his Conference— Memorial 
Services — Expressions of Appreciation by Friends and 
Conference— Some who are still living— Hiram Burch— 
Jacob Adriance— John Gallagher— F. M. Esterbrook— J. H. 
Presson— Some helpful Local Preachers— Robert Laing— 
John Dale 534-548 

Chapter XXVIII.— Conclusion. 

Bishops who have presided— Influence— Number of Appoint- 
ments made— Great Sermons — Other Services- Resident 
Bishops— Newman — McCabe — Bishop F'owler the Father of 
Wesleyan University — Nebraska Methodism compared 
with other Churches— General Review of the Half-cent- 
ury's Work — Some Interesting P'igures covering the whole 
Time — Total Amount of Missionary Money appropriated 
to aid the Work — Amount promised to Preachers in 
Salaries and House Rent— Amount paid— Amount still 
back — Amount contributed to Conference Claimants' Fund 
— To Missions — To Church Extension and other Benevo- 
lent Claims, including W. F. M. S. and W. H. M. S.— 
Total for all Benevolences— Number and Value of Churches 
and Parsonages built — Members of Conference — Members 
on Trial — Membership — Sermons preached — Lessons 
taught in S. S. — Means of Grace maintained — These are 
the Visible Results — The Invisible Results — Agencies 
achieving these Results often obscure— Dean Farrar's Trib- 
ute to these 549-561 


It is well known that for ages this territory was in- 
habited by savage tribes of Indians. It is not so gen- 
erally known that the territory now embraced in the State 
of Nebraska was foreign territory up to 1803, a little 
over fifty years before Methodism began its work in the 
territory. In 1681 LaSalle, a French explorer, having 
traversed the lake regions, came to the Mississippi River, 
down which he floated in his boats to its mouth, taking 
possession of the great Mississippi Valley in the name 
of his sovereign, Louis XIV, and naming the region 
Louisiana in his honor. Thus nearly 200 years before 
Methodism entered upon its work in Nebraska, or even 
before Methodism was born, the Roman Catholic Church 
had taken possession of all this fair territory. For a 
time (1763-1801) even Spain, the most Catholic of all 
Catholic nations, unless it be Italy, had possession. Even 
as early as 1540 a Spanish adventurer, Coronado, had 
visited Nebraska. But afterwards it reverted to France, 
and at the beginning of the nineteenth century Nebraska 
had for its ruler the Great Napoleon, and for its religion 
the Roman Catholic. 

It is now well known that Napoleon's object in secur- 
ing the retrocession of Louisiana from Spain to France, 
2 ^3 

14 Introduction. 

was to work out a great scheme of colonization in Louis- 
iana. How successful this strong man was in accom- 
plishing his schemes, Europe had already come to know, 
to her sorrow, and trembled at the deadly certainty of his 
undertakings. He seemed to be a man of destiny that 
could not be defeated. But a higher destiny, the destiny 
of the great Republic, and the Protestant religion, was in 
this case in conflict with his personal destiny, and he 
was doomed to defeat. Yet it is startling to think how 
near this puissant man, now at the zenith of his power, 
able at this very moment to seize without question the 
reins of government in his own France, and soon to march 
in triumph with his conquering legions to Austerlitz, Jena, 
and Wagram, and dictate his own terms to Russia, Prus- 
sia, and Austria, came to the accomplishment of the plans 
of colonization in Louisiana, on which he had set his 
heart. Had he succeeded, the history would have been 
very different from the one I am writing. 

How did we escape the clutches of this mighty man? 
How did he come to be turned from his long cherished 
. purpose, a thing that so rarely occurred in his life? 

When in 1801, Robert R. Livingston arrived in Paris 
with $2,000,000 and authority from Jeft'erson to purchase 
a small strip of ground which would secure to us the 
mouth of the IVlississippi, and also the right to the navi- 
gation of the river. Napoleon was nearly ready to con- 
summate his great scheme of colonization, and as a recent 
writer puts it : "But for the delay imposed upon the 

Introduction. • 15 

First Consul, first by Godoy, who would not yield Loui.-.- 
iana until every condition of its transfer had been ful- 
filled, and secondly by Toussaint and his followers, who 
balked the French in San Domingo, General Voctor at 
this time might have been setting in order a threatening 
foreign host at New Orleans." 

Happily, before they succeeded in this western coun- 
try, circumstances and events were by the Louisiana 
Purchase providentially closing this territory forever to 
the domination of the Catholic religion, and opening it 
to the best type of Protestantism. While the political 
exigencies of the Great Xapoleon, and the wisdom and 
statesmanship of the greater Jefferson, made them the 
immediate human agencies by which this new state of 
affairs was brought about, subsequent events have made 
it plain that it had always been the purpose of God that 
this continent, as a whole, and Nebraska as a part, should 
be dedicated to a purer and more spiritual type of relig- 
ion, with a moral and spiritual efificiency capable of build- 
ing out of a heterogenous multitude that should come 
from all parts of the world, and from all the races of men, 
a homogeneous race of Americans. 

And it was no accident or mere coincidence that while 
political events w^ere so shaping as to give ample terri- 
torial scope, the prime factors that were to mold these 
elements into the most free, intelligent, moral, and force- 
ful nation on the earth, were at the same time being 
brought into existence and raised to an efficiency equal to 

i6 • Introduction. 

the needs of the new country and the new nation. It 
hardly needs to be stated that the two factors that were to 
make the largest contribution to this result were that sys- 
tem of public schools that was to provide free education 
to the masses, and that Church, that by its spirit, organi- 
zation, and method, was to proclaim a free gospel to the 

Of national greatness Leckey, the historian, says :* 
"Its foundation is laid in pure domestic life, in commer- 
cial integrity, in a high standard of moral worth and 
public spirit, in simple habits, in courage, uprightness and 
soundness and moderation of judgment." Bancroft, our 
great American historian, says : "The Methodists were 
the pioneers of religion. The breath of liberty has wafted 
their message to the masses of the people ; encouraged 
them to collect white and black in church and green- 
sward for council in divine love and full assurance of 
faith, and carried their consolations and songs and prayers 
to the farthest cabins of the wilderness. "f 

This recognition on the part of Leckey of those moral 
ideals for which Methodism has consistently stood as the 
true elements that constitute national greatness, and the 
recognition by Bancroft of Methodism as the pre-emi- 
nently pioneer Church, promoting these qualities in the 
masses of sturdy emigrants out of which these great 
States were to be built, is but the expression of that 

* Quoted by Kidd, Social Ev., p. 326. 

t Quoted by Moore, Debt of Republic to Methodism. 

Introduction. 17 

consensus of opinion held by those most qualified to judge 
that the vigorous evangelism of the Methodist itinerants 
did more to conserve the best moral qualities the people 
brought with them into the great West, and to stimulate 
into healthy development those finer, stronger traits of 
character that constituted the vigorous and all conquer- 
ing manhood of the West. 

If then we inquire what were the influences that de- 
termined the character of the men and women that were 
to transform the 76,000 square miles of raw prairie that 
constitutes, territorially, the State of Nebraska into a 
State characterized by the highest civilization, and as low 
a percentage of ignorance as any State in the world, we 
must go back to that beginning of the peaceful conquest 
of the continent that began immediately after the brave 
colonists had effected their independence and set out on 
their national career. 

Perhaps no one has set forth more forcefully and 
clearly the great movement of the population from east 
to west, which set in immediately after the war of the 
Revolution, than did President Roosevelt in his address 
at the Bi-Centennial celebration of the birth of John Wes- 
ley, in New York, February 26, 1903. The following 
extract will show his estimate of the movement and the 
great service which the Methodist pioneer preacher ren- 
dered during the period : 

"For a century after the declaration of independence 
the greatest work of our people, with the exception only 

1 8 Introduction. 

of the work of self-preservation under Lincoln, was the 
work of the pioneers as they took possession of this conti- 
nent. During that century we pushed westward from 
the Alleghanies to the Pacific, southward to the gulf and 
the Rio Grande, and also took possession of Alaska. The 
work of advancing our boundary, of pushing the frontier 
across forest and desert and mountain chain, was the 
great typical work of our nation ; and the men who did 
it — the frontiersmen, plainsmen, mountain men — formed 
a class by themselves. It was an iron task, which none 
but men of iron soul and iron body could do. The men 
who carried it to a successful conclusion had characters 
strong alike for good and for evil. If left to himself, 
without moral teacliing and moral guidance, without any 
of the -influences that tend towards the uplifting of man 
and the subduing of the brute within him, sad would have 
been his, and therefore, our fate. From this fate we have 
been largely rescued by the fact that together with the 
rest of the pioneers went the pioneer preachers ; and all 
honor be given to the Methodists for the great proportion 
of these pioneer preachers whom they furnished. 

"These preachers were of the stamp of old Peter Cart- 
wright — men who sufifered and overcame every hardship 
in common with their flock, and who in addition tamed 
the wild and fierce spirits of their fellow pioneers. It 
was not a task that could have been accomplished by 
men desirous to live in the soft places of the earth and to 
walk easily on life's journey. They had to possess the 

Introduction. 19 

spirit of the martyrs, but not of martyrs who could op- 
pose only passive endurance to wrong. The pioneer 
preachers warred against the forces of spiritual evil with 
the same fiery zeal and energy that they and their fellows 
showed in the conquest of the rugged continent. They 
had in them the heroic spirit that scorns ease if it must 
be purchased by a failure to do duty, the spirit that courts 
risk and a life of hard endeavor if the goal to be reached 
is really worth attaining. Great is our debt to these men 
and scant the patience we need show toward their critics. 

"It is easy for those who stay at home in comfort, 
who never have to see humanity in the raw, or to strive 
against the dreadful naked forces which appear clothed, 
hidden, and subdued in civilized life — it is easy for such 
to criticise the men who, in rough fashion, and amid 
grim surroundings, make ready the way for the higher 
life that is to come afterwards; but let us all remember 
that the untempted, and the effortless should be cautious 
in passing too heavy judgment upon their brethren who 
may show hardness, who may be guilty of shortcomings, 
but who nevertheless do the great deeds by which man- 
kind advances. 

"These pioneers of Methodism had the strong, mili- 
tant virtues which go to the accomplishment of such 
deeds. Now and then they betrayed the shortcomings 
natural to men of their type, but their shortcomings seem 
small indeed when we place them beside the magnitude 
of the work they achieved." 

20 Introduction. 


While Nebraska had been inhabited by no less than 
10,000 human beings prior to the settlement which began 
in 1854, these aboriginal inhabitants may be said to have 
built up absolutely nothing that was of value to the new 
comers. The reason for this is found in the fact that 
these aboriginals belonged to one of those undeveloped 
and unchristianized races that depend almost entirely on 
the resources of unaided nature to supply their simple 
wants. For them lo change their location, or to remain 
in the same place for a century or more made scarcely 
any change in the general aspects of the country. When 
they came they brought nothing into the country ; while 
they staid they did nothing to develop the natural re- 
sources of the country ; if they went away there was little 
or nothing they could take with them that would affect 
the country in one way or another. In the Christian sense 
of the word, they can hardly be said to have known what 
a home was, or how to make one. Their wants were so 
few and simple that scarcely anything that characterizes 
the Nebraska of to-day was in existence then. It could 
not be said that they had developed any form of industry 
or commerce. Hence they had no farms, strictly speak- 
ing, but only a few stray patches of broken soil where 
the squaws raised a little maize or vegetables. There 
were no industries, unless we would call such establish- 
ments as that of the "ancient arrow-maker in the land 

Introduction. 21 

of the Dakotahs," institutions of industry. There were 
no schools or churches, except such as had been brought 
in by the white missionaries, and there was only one of 
these, at Rellevue. Indeed, it may be affirmed that the 
Indians turned Nebraska over to the Christianized white 
race in a state of raw, crude nature, not one whit im- 
proved, or its wealth and resources developed in all the 
years and centuries of their possession, and with not a 
single element of modern Christian civilization in exist- 
ence. Everything had to be built up from the founda- 
tion. It is marvelous how quickly these settlers sur- 
rounded themselves with all these elements of the highest 
Christian civilization. And the church edifice was felt 
to be as much of a necessity as the school-house, and 
would come in due time. And though the money to build 
school-houses was raised by taxation, while that to build 
churches must be raised by voluntary contributions, the 
church was none the less certain to be built. And though 
the teacher's salary was raised by taxation and he was 
given legal recourse to collect it at law, while the preach- 
er's support must come from voluntary offerings, and in 
the case of our Methodist preacher, he had no legal right 
to fix the amount of his own salary and no recourse by 
civil law to collect it, yet the people were just as sure to 
have a preacher as they were to have teachers for their 
children, and his work was just as faithfully and effi- 
ciently done as that of the teacher. 

22 Introduction. 


With the exception of Kansas, the development of 
which was simuhaneous and under hke conditions, the 
development and history of Nebraska Methodism are 
unique in the character and distinctness of the periods 
into which it naturally divides itself. The two main 
periods are the first quarter of a century, during which 
the pioneer phase of the work predominates, and the sec- 
ond quarter of a century in which while there was some 
pioneer work yet to be done, the building of churches 
and parsonages, the more complete organization of the 
forces, the founding and development of her educational 
and benevolent institutions, and the development and 
strengthening of the older charges, were her chief tasks. 

The first quarter of a century may be subdivided into 
three periods. The first of these extends from 1854 to 
1861, and is marked by the first events connected with 
the beginning of our work, the organization of the Kan- 
sas-Nebraska Conference, the external conditions under 
which the work proceeded being characterized by an al- 
most unprecedented financial disturbance and depression, 
and an entirely unprecedented political struggle between 
freedom and slavery in the political arena, causing great 
excitement and intensity of feehng between the opposing 
forces ; the second of these periods opens with the or- 
ganization of the Nebraska Conference in 1861, and ex- 

Introduction, 23 

tending- to 1870, the external circumstances attending the 
work being the unprecedented Civil War, and the recon- 
struction period following, and also the inflated currency 
and consequent high cost of living, without any corre- 
sponding inflation of the salaries ; the third period, which 
opened in 1870 and closed in 1880, was characterized by 
great growth in numbers and rapid extension of our fron- 
tier line toward the western part of the State, the external 
conditions being that of a vast tide of immigration which 
set in in the early part of the period, adding 329,549 to the 
122,993 in 1870, bringing great growth and prosperity 
to the country and Church, to be followed by the unpre- 
cedented grasshopper scourge, which began in 1874 and 
continued for several years, not only checking immigra- 
tion, but causing not a few discouraged settlers to leave 
the country. The early seventies was also a time of great 
revivals and spiritual ingatherings. 

The last twenty-four years, beginning with 1880, may 
properly be called the fourth period. This will be char- 
acterized by the growth and better organization of the 
individual Churches, the organization of the Conferences, 
the building of churches, and bringing into the field many 
subsidiary and helpful agencies. 

Rev. W. H. Goode. 

The fiirst man appointed to an official position in 
relation to Nebraska Methodism. 



w^ j^ 

FIRST PERIOD. (1854-1861.) 


Rev. W. H. Goode, D. D.. of the Indiana Conference. 
Avas the first to be placed by the authority of the Meth- 
odist Church in ofiicial relation to the 
work in Nebraska, being appointed 
June 3, 1854. There had been occa- 
sional sermons preached at earlier 
dates by Methodist preachers. Rev. 
Harrison Presson, who is still living, 
and is an honored superannuated 
member of the Nebraska Conference, 
informs me that on April 21, 1850, 
he, in company with a large colony 
on their way to the Pacific Coast, 
camped over the Sabbath on what is 
now the site of Omaha, and that he 
preached a sermon that day from the 
text, Isa. XXXV, i. This was doubtless the first Aletli- 
odist sermon ever preached in Nebraska. 

Rev. H. T. Davis, D. D., in his book of personal 
reminiscences, entitled "Solitary Places Made Glad," 


Rev. Harrison 

Who preached the first 

Methodist sermon in 

Nebraska, April 

21, 1850. 

26 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

states that in 185 1 a Rev. William Simpson, who had at 
the Iowa Conference been appointed to the Coimcil Bluffs' 
Mission, learning that there were a few settlers across the 
river, went over and preached to them. 

In a letter from J. W. Barns, he states that his wife, 
a daughter of Rev. W. D. Gage, had a very distinct recol- 
lection that in January or February, 1853, her father 
preached to a few settlers at old Ft. Kearney (now Ne- 
braska City). 

While it is to the credit of these men of God that 
they seized these first opportunities to preach the Gospel 
within the bounds of what is now the State of Nebraska, 
the congregations to which they preached were merely, 
passing emigrants, or transient settlers, and therefore 
these sermons can hardly be regarded as the beginnings 
of Methodism in Nebraska, or to sustain any practical 
relation to the permanent work in the State. 

The real beginning of Nebraska Methodism is found 
in the following communication, which on the third of 
June, 1854, Bishop E. R. Ames addressed to the Rev. 
W. H-. Goode, D. D. : 

"Rev. W. H. Goode : 

"Dear Brother, — It is understood that emigration is 
tending largely to Nebraska (a name then embracing 
both territories, Kansas and Nebraska). It seems prob- 
able that the Church ought soon to send some devoted 
missionaries to that country. But there is not such a 
knowledge of details respecting the topography and popu- 
lation of these regions as to enable the Church authorities 
to act understandingly in the premises. You are there- 
fore appointed to visit and explore the country as thor- 

History of Xecraska Methodism. 27 

oughly as practicable, for the purpose of collecting in- 
formation on these points. In performing this work you 
will be governed by your own judgment, and make full 
reports, in writing, of your labor and its results, so that 
it may be known how many ministers, if any, should be 
sent, and at what particular points they should be located. 
Yours truly, E. R. A^IES, 

"Bishop ^Methodist Episcopal Church," 

This communication from the bishop summoning Dr. 
Goode from a pleasant and prosperous and honorable 
career in Indiana, where Methodism had already become 
strong and respected, to a career of hardship on the 
frontier, illustrates the three principal features of the 
Methodist economy, which perhaps more than anything 
else, gave her not only her pre-eminent place as a pioneer 
Church, but also gave her the unparalleled success as 
revealed in the history of Christianity in this country. 
The first of these features is the general superintendency, 
by which her bishops in the regular course of their work- 
visit personally all parts of the field and come in close 
touch with all her working forces, and soon become cog- 
nizant of the needs of each field, and also come to know 
each of the preachers and their peculiarities, and which 
of them are equipped for any special service. In the 
quasi-military power with which the Church has clothed 
them, by which they can command the service of any 
man, anywhere, for any work, whatever its character and 
wherever it may be, may be found tlie second feature giv- 
ing efficiency to the Church. While technically this 
power is absolute, and might be wielded arbitrarily, this is 
rarely the case. Dr. Goode himself, than whom few have 

28 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

been summoned to harder fields by this same episcopal 
authority, bears witness to the spirit in which this vast 
power is wielded, in these words, used in connection with 
his appointment in 1843 to the superintendency of an 
Indian school in Arkansas : "I was consulted ; for au- 
thoritatively as our bishops are empowered to speak and 
implicitly as our ministry are wont to obey, for the Gos- 
pel's sake, I have yet to learn the first instance in which 
an arbitrary or unreasonable requirement has been made, 
by which any brother has been transferred to a distant 
field, irrespective of private considerations and wishes. 
No man ever takes a foreign field or even a remote 
field except as a volunteer; a policy at once wise and 

The third feature consists in what the military gen- 
eral would call the esprit dc corps, or what in its spiritual 
aspect would be termed a spirit of devotion to the cause 
that makes men willing to go anywhere for Christ's sake. 
It is this last feature which is moral and spiritual in its 
nature that gives efficiency to the other two which re- 
late to the polity of the Church. With this spirit all ex- 
ercise of arbitrary power on the part of the bishops is 
rendered unnecessary. They only need to convince a 
man that the Master needs him in a certain field, and he 
responds, "Here am I, send me." Without this spirit, 
all exercise of arbitrary authority would be in vain, for 
success in moral and spiritual fields is impossible unless 
the workman's heart is in the work. 

Happy for Methodism and the cause of Christ and 
the interests of our country, whenever our general super- 
intendents have faced some emergency requiring some 
strong, wise man to meet it, they nearly always knew 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 29 

where to find the man, and they usually found the man 
ready for and equal to the emergency. 

The selection of Dr. Goode emphasizes another fact of 
immense importance in the development of the work in 
the Western States, and that was the selection of the very 
best men for leadership on the frontier. In nothing has 
the far-seeing wisdom of our bishops been more mani- 
fest than in this feature of their policy. As such men as 
Paul had been chosen as the foundation builders at the 
beginning of the Christian movement, so in that great 
movement of population from east to west that has within 
a little over a century spread over an entire continent, 
and built up a strong, free republic, Methodism has al- 
ways picked some of its strongest men and sent them and 
kept them at the front. It is greatly to the credit of these 
strong men that they have been willing to go. And the 
bishops have found them all the more ready to go be- 
cause they themselves have always been ready to make 
the greatest sacrifices for Christ's sake. 

It is difficult to conceive how they could have made a 
better selection than Dr. Goode. He was a recognized 
leader in Indiana Tvlethodism at a time when such men 
as E. R. Ames, Matthew Simpson, and Thomas Bowman 
were at the forefront of the Church in that State. That 
he ranked along with these is evident from the fact that 
it is said that when Ames was elected bishop, Dr. Goode 
himself had a vote large enough to give promise of ulti- 
mate success had he remained in the field, being only one 
less than that received by Ames; but desiring, above 
every thing the election of a Western man, which seemed 
very important at that time, he magnanimously withdrew 
in favor of Ames, and secured his election. At the time 

30 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

he was appointed to his mission to Nebraska and Kansas, 
he was serving as presiding elder of the South Bend Dis- 
trict, comfortably situated, and greatly honored among 
his brethren, many of whom earnestly advised him to re- 
main, both for his own sake and theirs. The work he 
was doing was congenial, and having already spent sev- 
eral years on the frontier as superintendent of our Indian 
school at Ft. Coffee, in the southwestern portion of Ar- 
kansas, he well knew the hardships involved in such a 
mission. At first he was tempted to refuse the appoint- 
ment, and went so far as to prepare a letter to that affect, 
informing the bishops that he could not see that it was his 
duty to go. But retaining the letter some time, and pray- 
ing over it, it began to assume another aspect, that of 
duty. Perhaps, after all, the bishops knew what was re- 
quired, and his fitness for the work to be done, better 
than he himself did. To Dr. Goode duty was imperative, 
and in every case took precedence over all considerations 
of ease and comfort. If they with their superior opportu- 
nity of knowing what was needed to advance the inter- 
ests of the Redeemer's kingdom, deemed him to be the 
man best equipped for that work, then it was plainly 
his duty to go. He tore up the first letter, and ad- 
dressed another to the bishops, placing himself at their 

His first commission, it will be seen, was that of a 
''scout," and was preliminary to the main movement. It 
was in anticipation of what was yet to be, rather than 
providing for what was. For this service his previous 
experience on the frontier among the Indians fitted him, 
and doubtless this fact, together with his good judgment, 
in which they reposed implicit confidence, influenced the 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 31 

bishops in making choice of him for this difficnlt and 
important service. 

• Thus, four days after the Kansas-Nebraska bill, pro- 
viding for the organization of these territories, became a 
law, and twenty-three days prior to the proclamation of 
the President declaring the Indian title extinguished and 
the country open for settlement, and four months before 
the organization of the Territorial government, the ]\Ieth- 
odist Church had made provision for the religious needs 
of the people yet to come, by the appointment of one of 
her best equipped men to go in person to the field and as- 
certain by actual observation what was needed. 

It is difficult for us in these days of through railroad 
lines and palace Pullman cars, that would have brought 
him to Nebraska in twenty-four hours, with scarcely any 
discomfort or fatigue, to conceive what it meant for Dr. 
Goode, at the age of fifty or more, when most men are 
thinking how they can make life more comfortable, to 
make the journey of 600 miles to Kansas, and then 200 
more to Nebraska by private conveyance or stage. On 
the 8th day of June, five days after receiving his commis- 
sion, he started from Richmond, Ind., where he had pur- 
chased the necessary outfit of team and wagon, and after 
a long and tedious journey, requiring four weeks, reached 
his destination in Kansas, which, having more settlers, 
was to be his first headquarters. It was not till late in 
July that he reached Nebraska. 

The details of that journey possess thrilling interest, 
and may best be told by extracts from his own account, 
as given in his "Outposts of Zion." 

His work in Kansas had already brought on severe 
illness, but he felt that he must also visit the Nebraska 

32 History oi^ Nebraska Methodism. 

portion of the field, and it is to his trip to this field the 
following extracts refer: 

"Still feeble, suffering, and apprehensive of results, 
I urged on my course, and about three in the afternoon 
reached the house of Rev. Thomas B. Markham, then 
residing upon the bank of the Missouri, nearly opposite 
to where the town of Kickapoo, in Kansas, now stands. 
Here I found a brother in Christ and a kind Christian 
family, who, though then afflicted themselves, received me 
cordially, sympathized in my condition, and ministered 
to my necessities. 

"According to expectation, the ensuing day brought 
on another paroxysm, by which I was completely pros- 
trated, and for a period of about nine days I was confined 
by illness. For a time, uncertain as to the result, it was 
natural that my thoughts should turn, as they had more 
than once done before under similar circumstances, to 
the idea of dying from home, far from family and friends. 
The trial was severe; but, through the grace of God, I 
think I have, at such times, always felt resignation to the 
Divine will. Once I well remember having my pocket- 
book and pencil brought, and feebly tracing what I sup- 
posed might by a last brief line to the companion of my 
life, who has since preceded me to glory. But God had 
other designs for me. 

"By the 22d I began to feel as though I should sum- 
mon up my little strength and again address myself to 
the journey. Finding myself unable to manage my team 
I determined to dispose of them and commit myself to 
the stage-route up through northwestern Missouri, stop- 
ping at different points, and making excursions into the 
Territories as health and circumstances allowed. I ac- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 33 

cordingly sold, at low rates, my carriage and horses, with 
such part of my equipage as I could, gave away the re- 
mainder, and prepared for another mode of travel. 

"Returning to St. Joseph, I took my passage in the 
stage for Council Bluffs on the 28th, with the privilege 
of stopping at such points as I might think proper. 
Feeble as I was, I found that I must start in the evening 
and travel all night. Detained at one time on the bank 
of the Nodaway, waiting for the ferryman, and worn 
down by fatigue and debility, I lay down upon the ground 
and slept an hour ; awoke and found myself chilled ; was 
alarmed for the probable results, but traveled on and ex- 
perienced no bad effects. I stopped a little after daylight 
at Oregon, the county seat of Holt County, some ten 
miles back from the river. Here I left the stage, and ob- 
taining a horse, for twenty miles I followed the stage 
road along the bluffs, and then leaving them turned in 
the direction of the river, arriving in the afternoon at 
the cabin of Colonel Archer, where I found a kind home 
among Tennessee Methodists, recently settled in Mis- 
souri Bottom. On the day following my kind host vol- 
unteered his services to take me across the river in a 
canoe, ran up the great Nehama a little way, and landed 
for the first time upon the soil of Nebraska Territory. 
(July 29, 1854.) Finding no settlers here, I spent some 
time in meditating, prospecting, writing, etc. ; recrossed 
the river and returned to the cabin of my pioneer friend." 

Again taking the stage, he went to a point opposite 
to Old Fort Kearney, there 1'=^ft the stage and again 
crossed the Missouri. Resuming his narrative, he says : 
"Old Fort Kearney was an evacuated military post, the 
name and the troops having been transferred to a new 

34 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

post about two hundred miles up the Platte River. A 
substantial block-house, one old log dwelling, and the 
remains of a set of rude, temporary barracks, were all 
that was there to be seen of the old fort. Squatters had 
taken possession of the lands, and the two rivals, Ne- 
braska City and Kearney City, had been laid off, the one 
above and the other below the mouth of South Table 
Creek. The site of the old fort, now of Nebraska City, 
is bold and fine. I found a single frame shanty erected, 
in which were a few goods, and a single settler in the old 
fort cabin in the person of Major Downs. I found him 
to be a frank, generous-hearted soldier, possessing some 
noble traits of character, with some unfortunate remains 
of army habits. He took me to his house, treated me 
kindly and generously, exhibited quite an interest in my 
mission, took down his city plat. and. in my presence, 
marked off certain lots, since risen to a value equal to five 
times the outlay and expenses of my whole trip, which 
he then and there donated to the Methodist Episcopal 

"Having taken all the steps practicable toward the 
introduction of our work here, I took leave of the Major 
and his kind family, recrossed the Missouri, returned to 
Sidney, and about one hour after midnight again took 
the stage." 

The next day Dr. Goode reached Council Bluffs, and 
after a brief rest of a day he at once crossed the Missouri 
to the village of Omaha, which at that time was being 
laid out. After surveying the field at that point he went 
on down the river and spent the Sabbath, August 6th, 
with Rev. Wm. Hamilton, of the Presbyterian Church, 
at his mission at Bellevue, preaching his first sermon in 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 35 

Nebraska on that occasion. The next week he returned 
to Council Bluffs and from thence started on his return 
trip to his home, going- by stage across the State of Iowa 
to Rock Island, thence by railroad to his home in Indiana. 
Thus ended this memorable journey that as subsequent 
events reveal, meant so much to the future of both Kan- 

sas and Nebraska 12515,40 ^. 

ihis record of his journey of over 800 miles from his 
home to Omaha, by private conveyance, or by stage, con- 
suming two months of time, exposed to the dreaded 
Asiatic cholera then prevalent along portions of the Mis- 
souri traversed, and under conditions of physical disa- 
bilities which at times became so serious as to threaten 
his life, and threatened by the excited pro-slavery people 
of Kansas and Missouri with tar and feathers, or even 
worse, is one rarely paralleled in the history of the 
Church. Little wonder that after this veritable hero, 
who so courageously and efficiently performed this pre- 
liminary survey of the great field and reported its needs 
to the authorities, should immediately be re-commissioned 
to the same field to take charge of its development as 
superintendent of missions in Kansas and Nebraska. 
That he cheerfully did so reveals the true greatness and 
nobility of his nature and the completeness of his conse- 
cration to the Master's service more fully than any words 
can do. This will become even more apparent as the story 
of those early days is told. 


FIRST PERIOD. (1854-1861.) 

Kansas Territory having the greatest number of 
settlers, properly commanded his first attention, but after 
a month of travel in that territory we find him, early in 
December, turning his face toward the Nebraska portion 
of the Territory, though there were as yet few permanent 
settlers even at the more prominent points, such as Ne- 
braska City and Omaha. 

The eagle eye of Dr. Goode was on the lookout and 
we find him in December, 1854, making his way up to 
the Nebraska end of his immense field, on horseback, 
his customary mode of travel in winter. It so often hap- 
pened that there was difficulty in finding something to 
eat for man or horse, that the good Doctor carried corn 
and provision along with him for emergencies. He 
speaks of that trip being "rough and fatiguing ; my horse 
became lame, and on the second or third day, failed." 
Procuring another he proceeded on his toilsome way. 
But on the first day the new steed became sick and seemed 
about to die. While not dying, this second horse had 
to be abandoned and a third one procured, with which he 
made his way to a point opposite Nebraska City, his in- 
tended point for the Sabbath. The ice was already run- 
ning to such an extent that the regular ferry had been 
abandoned and the trip across the river had to be made 
in a skiff, at no small risk of life. But Dr. Goode always 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 37 

felt that he must get to his appointments at all hazards. 
Here he found the hotel of his old friend, Major 
Downes, so crowded that he concluded to hunt up the 
cabin of the pastor, W. D. Gage. This was over in the 
brush some distance from the hotel, and night having 
come on, he, with great difficulty, found his way to the 
cabin parsonage and was royally entertained by the pas- 
tor's family. 

The next day being the Sabbath he held service in 
one of the rooms of the hotel, amidst much confusion on 
the part of some of the guests who were not interested. 
No class had as yet been organized, the pastor, for some 
reason, was absent, and he somewhat sadly says : "This 
was all there was of the first quarterly-meeting at Old 
Fort Kearney," and it may be added, the first in the Ter- 
ritory. But before leaving Nebraska City he had some 
consultation "as to the means of prosecuting the work 
in this growing field, and especially the erection of a 
house of worship on the lots already donated." 

He had intended going on as far as Omaha, there 
having as yet been no pastor secured for that point, but 
his horses having failed him, he deemed it expedient to 
abandon that part of his trip for the present and return 

While as yet there were few actual settlers, there were 
many who had been on the ground, selected and staked off 
their claims, returned to their Eastern homes and were 
expecting to come back in the spring, bringing their fam- 
ilies with them, so there was little that could be done until 
that time. 

In anticipation of this influx of permanent settlers in 
the spring of 1855, Dr. Goode had published a call in the 

38 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Advocates for men to supply the field, only one man so 
far having been appointed. W. D. Gage, who has been 
noted elsewhere, was assigned to Nebraska City in 1854. 
A quotation from his book will show the care with which 
Dr. Goode selected these men and the spirit in which he 
expected them to come to the field, and prosecute the 
work, and the difficulties he experienced in procuring 
the right kind of men : 

"Early in the winter responses began to be received 
to the public calls for ministerial aid, which we had 
made through the Church papers. These calls were gen- 
eral. No man was individually requested or advised to 
come into our new and exposed work. All were left to 
follow the call of duty or of inclination. Our tables were 
loaded with letters of inquiry, expressing good wishes, 
and making contingent and indefinite proposals for the 
future. But these did not fill the immediate and urgent 
demands of our work. Occasionally, however, one was 
found whose first proposition was, 'Here am I ; send me.' 
With such our work in the Territories has been supplied. 
None have been pressed into service. 

"In a very large majority of instances our supplies 
were men of the right stamp, volunteers, men of energy, 
willing to 'endure hardness as good soldiers.' There 
were a few instances to the contrary. Attempts were 
made to foist upon us, from the older Conferences, men 
who were too indolent or incompetent to labor acceptably 
where they were ; but who, in the judgment of good 
brethren, 'would do for the frontier.' Such efforts 
were generally detected before consummation ; or, if not, 
soon afterward, in which case they were disposed of in 
the most summary way practicable. The speculating 





I. Jerome Spillman. 2. J. W. Taylor. 3. Lorenzo W. Smith. 4. Jacob 

Adriance. 5. David Hart. 6. Z. B. Turman. 7. Jesse L. Fort. 


40 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

mania, that has sometimes seized Western recruits, or 
perhaps even prompted their transfer, has been but little 
known among the traveling preachers of these Terri- 
tories. They have been, for the most part. Homines 
unius operis. 

"Rev. A. L. Downey was the first volunteer that came 
to our aid. He was appointed to Leavenworth mission. 
The second in order of time who appeared among us, 
was Rev. Isaac F, Collins, a transfer from the Arkansas 
Conference, and a man of considerable experience in the 
work of Indian missions, who was assigned to the Omaha 
City Mission. 

"Some new fields, also, were laid off and supplied. 
Meeting, providentially, with Rev. Hiram Burch, a young 
man from Illinois, who had, in feeble health, been labor- 
ing as a supply in Northern Texas, I employed him to 
take charge of a new field in the northern extreme of 
Kansas, known as Wolf River Mission. His health im- 
proved ; he was received into the Iowa Conference the en- 
suing session, appointed to Nebraska City, and has ever 
proved a faithful and efficient minister. Upon a steam- 
boat in Missouri River, I met with a young Englishman 
with credentials and apparent qualifications for the work, 
and employed him to travel between the Nemahas, and 
organize the Nemaha Mission. This was Rev. David 

"Thus, in the course of the year, our entire work was 
manned. The order of time has been anticipated in this 
statement, for the purpose of presenting all the names at 
one view. My Wyandott home became a place of resort, 
and an outfitting point for preachers coming into the 
Territories; a circumstance which probably had much to 

History of "Nebraska Methodism. 41 

do in fixing" the jealousy and inveterate hate of pro-slav- 
ery sentinels, secular and ecclesiastical, posted along the 

Thus we see that this alert superintendent had pas- 
tors in the field at all the strategical points before there 
were organized flocks to shepherd. W. D. Gage was 
sent to Nebraska City nine months before a class was 
formed, Isaac Collins was in Omaha six months before 
an organization could be effected, and David Hart was 
sent early in the spring of 1855 to the Nemaha Mission 
where he must wait and toil till the following fall before 
effecting an organization. 

It is a very suggestive coincidence that in the same 
year that the territory which afterward constituted Ne- 
braska passed from the possession of Catholic France to 
that of Protestant America by the Louisiana Purchase in 
1803, there was born in Pennsylvania the one who should, 
half a century afterward, be the first to be assigned to a 
pastorate in the territory, and as the chaplain of the first 
legislature, should typify the character of the State to 
be built up in the Territory. Though W. D. Gage was 
a humble, unpretentious, rugged pioneer preacher, he 
was the representative of the most aggressive form of 
Protestant Christianity then in the field, the Church which 
has wrought most potently in making the great State of 
Nebraska what it is. 

It would be interesting to speculate about what might 
have been if the Louisiana Purchase had not been made, 
and the territory remained in the possession of a Catholic 
country, and Catholic colonies spread over these prairies, 
and Catholic priests instead of Methodist preachers like 
W. D. Gage and other Protestant pioneers had been the 


History ot" Nebraska Methodism. 

first to propogate Christianity on this territory. The 
results in other exclusively Roman Catholic countries 
supply an answer, and the answer thus supplied makes 
us very thankful that matters have turned out as they 
have. An allwise providence has seen to it that such 
should be the case, and the more pleasing and profitable 
task is ours to trace the work of the Gages, Burches, 

Davises, Taylors, Harts, and others 
of the historic band that in the fifties 
lifted and held aloft the banner of 
Prince Immanuel on the prairies of 

W. D. Gage was converted at the 
age of twenty-one and entered the 
New York Conference at the age of 
twenty-five. . After spending twenty- 
six years of faithful ministry in the 
New York, Genesee, Illinois, Arkan- 
sas, and Missouri Conferences, he 
was, in October, 1854, appointed, 
at the age of fifty-one, to the Nebraska City Mis- 
sion. Being just prior to this a member of the Mis- 
souri Conference, which was just across the river from 
the lower portions of Nebraska, Father Gage had, pre- 
vious to this time, crossed over to the Nebraska side, 
visiting and preaching, as elsewhere noted, at Old Fort 
Kearney (Nebraska City,) as early as January, 1853, 
and was known to be familiar with the field. After serv- 
ing as pastor at Nebraska City, and chaplain of the first 
Nebraska Legislature, he asked and received a location. 
This step was afterward regarded by himself and friends 
as a great mistake which he very much regretted. How- 

Rev. W. D. Gage, 

The first pastor ap- 
pointed in Nebraska, 
October, 1854. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 43 

ever, at the time of his location he was already past fifty, 
with a family about him, and doubtless his motive was 
to secure a home for these loved ones, which continuance 
in the work at that time w^ould make difficult, if not im- 
possible. Some years afterward he w^as re-admitted to 
the Conference and did many years of faithful service on 
the frontier. 

He was married to Miss Sarah Schoonmaker, Janu- 
ary I, 1833, who died in 1862, leaving three daughters. 
Four others preceded her to the heavenly world. 

Father Gage passed to his reward, November 20, 
1885, and his brethren in the Conference place in their 
Minutes this tribute to their fallen brother : "He was a 
minister of good preaching ability, and very successful 
in every department of Church work. He now rests in 
peace, and his works do follow him." 

The charge to which W. D. Gage was assigned Oc- 
tober, 1854, was Nebraska City Mission, making that the 
first place to be recognized in the list of appointments. 
It included at the first all the settlements extending north 
along the river as far as Rock Blufi's. It was doubtless 
on this charge, in what was known as the Morris neigh- 
borhood, that the first Methodist class in Nebraska was 
formed, as early as March, 1855, and the first Sunday- 
school organized a month or two later. 

This settlement is worthy of special mention as be- 
ing probably the first distinctively Methodist settlement 
coming into the Territory. As early as 1853 there came 
into the section a few miles southwest of Rock Blufl:'s, W. 
H. Davis, together with Milton Morris, Abram Towner, ■ 
Mr, Acketyer, Thomas Ashley, and six other heads of 
families, all members of the Methodist Church, except 

44 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Mr. Ashley (and he was converted at the second camp- 
meeting held in Nebraska, and in this same neighborhood, 
in August, 1857). This visit was made prior to the 
treaty by which the government obtained control of the 
land, which was not made until the following March, and 
did not take effect till June 24, 1854. But these enter- 
prising Methodists did not wait for the government., but 
made a private treaty with the Otoe Indians, by which 
in consideration of the payment of ten dollars each to the 
Indians, and a promise to defend them in case the Otoes 
were attacked by their dreaded and powerful enemies, 
the Sioux, they were permitted to stake out their claims, 
which they at once proceeded to do. This arrangement 
was so highly satisfactory to the Indians that they made 
a great feast in honor of these pale-faced friends that for 
the sake of a few acres of their land agreed to pay them 
some money, but especially to help them in their contest 
with their foes. They even examined the white man's 
teeth to see that everything was right. 

After completing these preliminary arrangements, Mr. 
Davis and his party returned to their homes to spend the 
winter, and came back to Nebraska the following year 
with their families, and formed a permanent settlement 
some two or three miles southwest of old Rock Bluffs. 

These were all men of intelligence and Christian char- 
acter, with families of like character. Indeed some of 
them were of superior intelligence, and all characterized 
by an earnest type of piety. Father Davis was a man of 
culture and manly Christian character; Milton Morris, 
the religious leader, and his wife, were of superior in- 
telligence and force of character. Previous to coming 
to Nebraska they had served as missionaries to the Sac 

W. H. Davis. 

Mrs. W. H. Davis. 

Rev. Elza Martin. 





46 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

and Fox tribes of Indians, and he was at the time of his 
coming to Nebraska an ordained local elder. Abram 
Towner was also a local preacher, and the first sermon 
ever preached in Cass County was delivered by him at 
the house of Thos. B. Ashley, in October, 1854. 

Just when this company of earnest Methodists began 
to hold religious services, and organize themselves into 
a religious body, is not certainly known, but we may be 
sure that it was not long after they arrived on the ground, 
which was in the spring of 1854. With a positive spirit- 
ual experience such as they evidently possessed, they 
would not long "neglect the assembling of themselves" 
in religious worship, and Mrs. Spurlock, daughter of W. 
H. Davis, informs me that they at once began to hold 
prayer and class meeting, and an occasional preaching 
service in the cabins of the settlers, before even a school- 
house could be erected. The exact date of their organ- 
ization into a class can not be ascertained. Rev. Elza 
Martin, an ordained local preacher still living In the 
neighborhood of Falls City, informs me in a letter that 
when he moved into the settlement in April, 1855, he 
found the class already organized, and thinks the organ- 
ization was effected at the quarterly-meeting held by Dr. 
Goode at the cabin of Father Morris, the preceding March, 
and referred to in his "Outposts of Zion." This would 
make it the first class organized in the Territory. But it 
seems more likely that Dr. Goode would have mentioned 
the fact had he at that time organized the class. Indeed, 
when we remember that those first settlers in the Morris 
neighborhood were nearly all members of the Methodist 
Church when they came there in 1854, making in all not 
less than twenty, it is highly improbable that with two 

. iluyihcA. 

48 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

such zealous and experienced local preachers as Father 
Morris and Abram Towner, that they would remain long 
without an organization. Besides W. D. Gage was ap- 
pointed as we have seen, as early as October, 1854, to Ne- 
braska City Mission, which included all the settlements 
as far north as Rock Bluffs, and as they thus early had a 
zealous pastor, it is well-nigh certain that this first class 
was organized some time in 1854. At all events, there 
can be no doubt that this Morris class was the first one 
formed in the territory. 

If the class in the Morris settlement was organized 
as early as in 1854, which is prpbable, the class at Ne- 
braska City, though the head of the mission, was not or- 
ganized until in April, 1855, and was probably the second 
organization effected in the territory. 

Happily we are not without authentic information in 
regard to this date. John Hamlin* was the first class- 
leader, steward, trustee, and Sunday-school superintend- 
ent, and had the contract for building the first church 
building in Nebraska. His daughter, now Mrs. Melvina 
Brown, of Omaha, was a member of this first class, and 
to her I am chiefly indebted for these facts. The other 
members of this first class were Isabella Hamlin, the wife 
of John Hamlin ; Rev. W. D. Gage and wife. Rev. J. T. 
Cannon and wife, and Rowina Craig. The organization 
took place in a little frame shanty, twelve by twelve feet 
in dimension, opposite where the Grand Central Hotel 
now stands. Rev. J. W. Taylor, who a few months after 
this succeeded Brother Gage as pastor, informs me that 
he organized the first Methodist Episcopal Sunday-school 
in Nebraska City. 

* Since deceased. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 49 

In the fall of 1855 Hiram Burch was appointed to 
Brownville, but }. W. Taylor, who had been appointed 
to Nebraska City, proposed to the presiding elder that he 
and Brother Burch exchange places, which was effected, 
and Brother Burch became Brother Gage's successor. 

The society was yet quite feeble in numbers, not to 
exceed sixteen, and none of these with much financial 
strength. But they had already begun to plan for a 
church building. As was often the case in those early 
days, the initial steps had been taken some time before by 
an outsider. Major Downs, who at the time of Dr. 
Goode's first visit to the Nebraska City in July, 1854, had 
donated two lots in the town site he had laid out on the 
abandoned ground where old Fort Kearney had been, 
for a Methodist church. This doubtless ranks as the first 
donation of any kind toward the erection of a church in 
Nebraska, except perhaps for mission churches for the 
Indians. While subsequent development in the building 
of the town made these lots less eligible in location for a 
church, they were quite valuable, and were readily ex- 
changed for those on which the church was then erected, 
and on which the present edifice stands. 

If the first contribution for the first Methodist church 
erected in Nebraska was made by a non-church member, 
the subsequent success of the enterprise depended largely 
on the generosity of another outsider, S. F. Nuckells, a 
banker, who generously gave one-fourth of the entire cost 
while the building was in progress, amounting to $1,125, 
and at the dedication gave $200 more. 

These two cases are thus mentioned as typical of what 
took place very often in those early days, and even before 
the days of Church Extension help, made it possible for 

50 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

little, struggling societies to secure places of worship. 
It indicates the fact that these worldly wise business men 
had come to place a high value on the Church as a great 
power for good in determining the character of the civil- 
ization that should prevail in the State. Thus it often 
happened that a large percentage of the means needed 
for the erection of the first churches came from these 
enterprising non-Christian business men, and in not a few 
cases, more than half the sum needed came from that 
source. Even in a place like O'Neil, Nebraska, where a 
large percentage of the population is Roman Catholic, 
Rev. B. Blain, who built our church at that place, says 
there was more money contributed by the Catholics for 
the building of the first Methodist church at that place 
than the Methodists themselves were able to give, there 
being but a handful of them, and they very poor. The 
mention of these facts is not intended to discredit the 
giving of the members themselves, which was doubtless in 
many of these cases, if not in all, far more in proportion 
to their ability than that of the non-Church members, and 
from higher motives, and at greater sacrifice. 

While Brother Gage had already secured a subscrip- 
tion of $2,400, and had let the contract to John Hamlin 
for a brick church, forty by sixty feet, before leaving 
the charge, and probably immediately after the organiza- 
tion of the Church, the successful prosecution of the work- 
was chiefly due to his successor. Rev. H. Burch. who 
reached Nebraska City, November 29. 1855. He at once 
addressed himself to the task of completing the projected 
church building. The walls had been completed to the 
square, half the subscription had been collected and paid 
to the contractor, and no more subscriptions were due 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 


until the church was completed. The winter season had 
set in, and nothing more could be done till spring. Mean- 
while a heavy wind had blown down the side walls. This 
caused consternation among the little band of sixteen 
members, and seemed like utter defeat to the enterprise. 
I will let Brother Burch tell the story of how this crisis 
was met: 

"We had a meeting of the Board of Trustees, and 
after giving the subject a good deal 
of consideration, it was decided that 
the only thing to do was to go ahead 
and complete a church on the foun- 
dation already laid. To do this, it 
was necessary to borrow $800, as that 
amount under the contract was due 
the contractor, and because of the de- 
fault of the payment of that sum the 
building, or rather the walls, were left 
uncovered and unsupported at the 
mercy of the wind. A note of $800 
signed by the members of the board 
and the pastor, was placed in the 
bank, the money drawn and paid to 
the contractor, and the work of rebuilding begun. But be- 
fore the building could be completed we had to borrow 
$400 more. In these days that would seem a small mat- 
ter, but not so at that time, when the number was so 
small and so poverty stricken that none of our members 
were able to procure more than the necessaries of life." 

Thus by the wise and energetic work of the pastor, 
Hiram Burch, the self-sacrificing devotion of the little 
band of Methodists, and the generous contributions of the 

John Hamlin. 

Member of first class in 
Nebraska City, was 
first Sunday-school 
superintendent. Had 
contract for and built 
first church in Ne- 

52 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

friends outside of the Church, was this first Methodist 
church (and probably the first church of any kind except 
mission churches for the Indians) in the Territory car- 
ried forward to completion at a cost of $4'5oo» and in 
November, 1856, dedicated to the worship of God by Dr. 

This historic church does not depend wholly on the 
fact that it happened to be first for the significance that 
makes it worthy of this detailed account of its construc- 
tion, but from the first has justified the heroic sacrifices 
involved at the beginning. It at once became the scene 
of great revivals and has always housed a vigorous Meth- 
odist society. 


The next place to receive attention and the appoint- 
ment of a regular pastor was the ambitious and growing 
village of Omaha. There was something about this loca- 
tion that attracted from the first settlement in 1854 some 
of the shrewdest and most far-seeing business men that 
came to the territory in those early years. From the 
first they seemed confident that Omaha was to be the 
metropolis of the West, and proceeded at once by all 
legitimate business methods, and some perhaps less scru- 
pulous than they ought to have been, to realize their ex- 
pectation. True, every town on the river from Rulo to 
Dakota City, entertained the same hopes. Some of them 
at the start possessed equal advantages, and one at least, 
Bellevue, superior natural advantages. Besides being a 
more eligible site in point of beauty, it was the point that 
nature seems to have determined as the proper place for 
the projected Pacific Railroad line to cross the Missouri, 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 53 

furnishing a natural and easy route up the Papio and out 
on to the Platte bottom, which could have been con- 
structed at far less expense than the line from Omaha. 
But from the first Bellevue and all the other competing 
points were outgeneraled by the business men of Omaha, 
who by first securing the removal of the territorial capi- 
tal from Bellevue where Governor Burt first located it, 
to Omaha, and at immense expense secured the building 
of the bridge for the Union Pacific Railroad at Omaha, 
forever settled the metropolis question in their favor. 

It was not likely that so wise a leader as Dr. Goode 
would fail to see and appreciate the strategical value of 
such a place and provide for it. Hence early in 1855, long 
before there was enough Methodists to form a class, he 
appointed Isaac F. Collins to the mission. This was 
probably in January, and he reached his field and en- 
tered upon his work about the 20th of the following 

Thus it occurred at Omaha, as at many other places 
in Nebraska, that the first events of a religious character 
were Methodistic. The first sermon preached, the first 
official appointed to look after her spiritual interests, the 
first pastor assigned and present on the field, the first 
church organization effected, and the first Protestant 
church building erected, were all Methodist. 

Of Isaac Collins little can be ascertained. During his 
pastorate at Omaha, he married a daughter of Brother 
Amsbary, the father of Rev. W. A. Amsbary. Another 
brother, Webster Amsbary, is still living, and furnishes 
me the following brief facts concerning this cultured and 
devoted man who laid the foundations of Omaha Method- 
ism. He says the first time he saw Isaac Collins was 

54 History of Nebraska Methodism, 

when, in 1855, he rode up to his father's log cabin on a 
pony, and announced himself as having been sent to 
Omaha Circuit. This extended north and west indefi- 
nitely. He also says that Collins was born in Michigan, 
and was educated at Ann Arbor. While a brother, Jud- 
son, went to China as a missionary, Isaac went to Ar- 
kansas, and there, after preaching some time, became 
principal of a seminary at Tellequia, in the Indian Ter- 
ritory. It was from .this field that he came in response 
to Dr. Goode's call for workers in Kansas and Nebraska, 
and was assigned to Omaha. In 1858 he left the Ne- 
braska portion and served some pastorates in Kansas. 

Isaac Collins was without a church to preach in or 
a house to live in. He soon found a place in which to 
live, being unmarried, and through the courtesy of the 
Territorial officials he was permitted to occupy the United 
States Government building in which to hold meetings. 
While it was not possible to effect an organization until 
six months after his arrival, he was not without a con- 
gregation, and some supporters, as nearly all the early 
settlers were anxious to have religious services main- 
tained in the village, however they might feel towards 
the Methodist Church or its pastor. 

We would be glad to know who constituted that his- 
toric class wdiich Isaac Collins finally succeeded in or- 
ganizing in the month of September, 1855. The begin- 
ning of a local Church organization, representing an ag- 
gressive type of Christianity, is a matter of great moral 
significance in any community. The mere presence of 
such an organization, with its church building, and its 
recurring religious services announced regularly to the 
community by the ringing of the bell in their hearing, is 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 55 

a constant reminder of higher interests to be cared for. 
and must tend to check and curb the more sordid and 
selfish tendencies of our nature ; but when you add to this 
mere existence the potent moral energies and inspiring 
influences of the messages of divine truth delivered every 
holy Sabbath by some faithful man of God, the instruction 
imparted in the Sunday-school, the prayers and testimo- 
nies and example of the faithful members, you have a 
center of moral and religious power which radiates a 
constant influence for good to the community ; and when 
in addition to all these regular and stated services you 
have at frequent intervals gracious and sometimes power- 
ful revivals, you have an agency for good that no commu- 
nity can afford to be without, being, as such a Church is, 
the chief conservator of public morals, and the promoter 
of those high ideals of life that tend to produce the best 
result in life and character. But all this is especially true 
when the place where this Church begins its humble ca- 
reer is destined to become a great city, with its intense 
activities begetting a forgetfulness of divine things, and 
its powerful agencies of positive evil demoralizing many 
of the people. 

Rev. James Haynes, in his history of Omaha Meth- 
odism, says there were six enrolled in this first class, in 
September, 1855, but does not give the names. Nor is 
there any record preserved that affords information on 
this point. The only clue to this desirable information is 
found in the names of those who one year afterwards par- 
took of the sacrament at the first quarterly-meeting ever 
held in Omaha. These were Mr. and Mrs. Amsbary, ^Ir. 
and Mrs. Collins, Mrs. Crowell. Mrs. McCoy, and ^Irs. 
Harris, and some, if not all of these were probably mem- 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 

bers of the original class, and have the distinction of 
starting Omaha Methodism on its career. Of Mr. and 
Mrs. Amsbary, little is known, except that besides giv- 
ing their daughter to be the wife of Isaac Collins, they 
gave a son, W. A. Amsbary, to the Methodist ministry in 
Nebraska, who as the subsequent records will show, be- 
came a very efficient preacher of the Gospel. Of the 

others, Mrs. McCoy organized the 
first Sunday-school in Omaha, and 
was herself the first superintendent, 
and was permitted in many ways and 
through many years to serve the 
Church she loved in the city of 
Omaha. She died in the triumphs of 
the faith in the fall of 1902. 

Brother Collins remained till the 
Conference of 1856, which met in 
October 23d. During his pastorate, 
besides organizing the class, he in- 
augurated and carried to completion, 
the first church erected in Omaha, 
though it was not dedicated till December, 1856. 

This brief statement concerning the building of this 
first church in Omaha does not convey to our minds all 
that it meant for that brave pastor and his little flock of 
perhaps six, all of whom could not probably contribute 
one- fourth of the $4,500 necessary. Material was very 
expensive then, pine lumber being worth $100 per thou- 
sand. But with the larger conception of the Church as 
a public necessity in any community, and having raised 
part of the amount needed by the sale of a portion of 
their lots, he appealed to the public generally, first as- 

Mrs. Geo. A. McCoy. 

Member of first class in 
Omaha, organized the 
first Sunday-school, 
and was first superin- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 57 

certaining what each was able to give, and then boldly 
demanding that amount. The event proved this demand 
was honored to such an extent that the church was car- 
ried forward to completion and dedicated in December, 
1856. It was located in what has since become the heart 
of the city, on lots donated by the town-site company at 
the corner of Douglas and Thirteenth Streets, on the 
ground now occupied by the Omaha National Bank. 

We would gladly mention the laymen associated with 
Isaac Collins in this historic enterprise which meant so 
much of faith and sacrifice to them, but the loss of the 
early records make this impossible. We do not even 
know who the first trustees were, or who were on the 
building committee. We only know that of that memo- 
rable list that partook of the first communion in Septem- 
ber, 1856, there was only one male member. Brother 
Amsbarv, and he resided near Florence. 

The subsequent history of Omaha up to the end of this 
first period brings into view some strong men, one of 
whom, John AI. Chivington, who afterwards attained to 
national notoriety, if not national fame, in what is known 
as the Sand Creek massacre, when he was in command 
of troops in Colorado. He succeeded Isaac Collins as 
pastor one year, and at the Conference in April, 1857, 
was made presiding elder of the Omaha District, and the 
next year was transferred to the Nebraska City District. 
He continued on this district until i860, when he went to 
Colorado. John M. Chivington was one of those strong, 
forceful characters who find it difficult to either control 
themselves or to subject themselves to the requirements 
of a Church, or to the rules of war, but are a law unto 
themselves. But for these defects he would have been a 

58 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

power for good, as he was a strong preacher and pos- 
sessed many of the elements which constitute successful 

J. W. Taylor followed J. M. Chivington as pastor at 
Omaha. This devoted pioneer preacher came of South- 
ern stock, having been born in Fayette County, Virginia, 
December 6, 1815. He was converted and tmited with 
the Church at the age of fourteen. His natural gifts of 
speech and song soon led to his being licensed to exhort 
and then to preach. He went from Virginia to Michi- 
gan, where he was married to Barbara Eiken, who was 
his constant and loyal companion for sixty-five years, and 
then passed to her reward. His first charge was White 
Oak Grove, in Platte County, Missouri, to which State he 
had removed, and where he spent eighteen years of faith- 
ful service in the western part, a section which became, 
in the fifties, the very hot-bed of border ruffianism. 
Platte County, the scene of his first and some of his sub- 
sequent labor, was the storm center of the pro-slavery 
opposition to Northern Methodist preachers. It was 
here that the infamous Platte County resolutions were 
passed, threatening a coat of tar and feathers for the first 
offense, and death for the second, to any Northern Meth- 
odist preacher who should proclaim the Gospel in that 
county. Though the fact that he was a Virginian re- 
lieved the situation in his case somewhat, the fact that 
he was a minister of the Northern Methodist Episcopal 
Church made it extremely perilous for him, and during 
the last few years in Missouri he discharged his duty at 
the peril of his life. One of his fellow workers on an ad- 
joining charge, Rev. Sellers, was tarred and feathered, 
while another, Father Holland, was shot dead, and 

History of Nebraska Methodise:. 59 

Brother Taylor, himself, was notified to leave the coun- 
try or a similar fate would overtake him. The feeling of 
bitterness having taken possession of the masses in Mis- 
souri, and growing worse every day, rendered further 
effort useless, and the new field opening up in Nebraska 
presenting an opportunity for usefulness free from those 
obstacles, he deemed it right and wise to cross the river 
and enter the work in Nebraska, which he did in 1855. 
His ministry in Missouri till thus interrupted, had been 
very successful, and has been in Nebraska, but his home- 
spun manners and style of preaching did not altogether 
suit the taste of the more fastidious people of Omaha, and 
his pastorate there can hardly be said to have been very 
successful. But the old hero has, by his cheerful, happy 
spirit; his inspiring songs, his plain, faithful preaching, 
contributed largely to the planting of Methodism in Ne- 
braska. There are few, if any, of whom it is more fre- 
quently recorded that he was the first to preach the Gos- 
pel and organize the Church in the frontier settlements. 
He has since passed to his reward. 

In 1858 W. M. Smith followed Brother Taylor. Of 
him Haynes says : "Mr. Smith was a man of good gifts 
for the pulpit, and an able manager of the affairs of the 
Church ; but his sentiments on the question then vexing 
the Church and nation were im-Wesleyan and provoking 
to a majority of the people comprising the communicants 
under his administration. The membership was small, 
numbering hardly half a hundred, and any subject on 
which they could not harmonize, and especially the grave 
one at that time agitating the commonwealth, was next 
to a disaster, as its direct tendency was to hinder the 
most successful carrving on of evangelical work. The 

6o History of Nebraska Methodism. 

bitterness and asperity indulged in mere conversation 
were adverse to spiritual growth, and engendered ani- 
mosity which has not yet been outgrown. Mr. Smith's, 
success was not what it should have been, and, most 
likely would have been, if his views had tallied with a 
controlling number of his people. Methodism failed for 
this and other reasons to get a prevailing hold on the 
citizens and hence suffered for want of adequate sup- 
port, either financial or moral." 

A man now appears on the scene, a devoted man, 
whose ministry was a great blessing to Omaha. H. T. 
Davis, D. D., entered the ministry in the Northwest In- 
diana Conference on trial, in October, 1855. After three 
years of successful work in that Conference, which was 
attended with gracious revivals, he felt called to the 
Western field, and in 1858 wrote W. M, Smith, who was 
then pastor at Omaha, to that effect, and he at once in- 
formed the presiding elder of Brother Davis's wishes. 
He was offered Bellevue, then vacant. He, as soon as it 
was possible to make such a move, reported for duty, 
and entered upon a career that has meant much for the 
cause of Christ, and especially for Methodism. His 
experiences in first entering upon his work in Nebraska, 
will be related more in detail in another part of this vol- 
ume. His entrance into Omaha, which had already be- 
gun to take on city airs, is characteristic both of the man 
and of the times. Being unable to secure anything bet- 
ter, he secured a lumber wagon drawn by a pair of oxen, 
to haul his goods to Omaha, and he and Mrs. Davis on 
the load, drove up Farnam Street to the parsonage. 

Dr. Davis was a man of great faith and was con- 
stantly expecting great things of the Lord, and soon in- 

y^, cA ^O-tL-i^-z^ 

62 History of Nebraska Methodism, 

spired his little flock with a like spirit, and they rallied 
around him, forgetting their political differences, which 
had become so acute under the administration of his pred- 

Besides, H. T. Davis was always seen to be a man so 
pre-eminently of one work, and that work the salvation of 
souls, that few ever thought to inquire after his political 
predilection, though his private convictions were well de- 
fined. Such a pastor was much needed in Omaha just 
at this juncture, when political excitement had reached 
a high pitch. Brother Davis found a debt of five hun- 
dred dollars on the church, and the whole community 
so prostrated financially by the crash of 1857-58 as to 
make it impossible to raise the money to pay this debt in 
Omaha. His people gladly gave him permission and he 
went back among his- Indiana friends and soon raised 
the whole amount. 

There is no record of any special revival interest dur- 
ing the first year, and he himself makes no mention in his 
book of special religious interest during the year, as he 
most certainly would if there had been. But the follow- 
ing year witnessed a very gracious revival. 

H. T. Davis's pastorate being full legal term of two 
years, carries us to the close of the first period, so further 
mention of Omaha will be deferred till we come to treat 
the second period. 


FIRST PERIOD. (1854-1861.) 

From tracing the history of the beginnings in the 
^centers, we pass to a general survey of the whole. While 
there is little difference in the date of the first settlements 
during this first period along the eastern tier of counties, 
probably with the exception of the Morris settlement 
noted, we find, as might naturally be expected, that the 
rich valleys of the Nemahas lying contiguous to the Ter- 
ritory of Kansas, were among the first to be settled. In- 
deed, as early as April or May, 1854, Christian Bobst and 
family came with some others from Ohio and settled on 
the South Fork of the Great Nemaha in the southeastern 
corner of Pawnee County, near where Dubois now is. 
These were joined in the following August by the Meth- 
odist families of Henry and Jerome Shellhorn. During 
the summer another settlement was made where Pawnee 
City now is. When in the early spring of 1855, that 
sturdy Englishman, David Hart, was appointed to the 
unorganized region between the Nemahas, he found no 
class-leader to tell him of spiritual aft"airs, no committee 
to estimate or Quarterly Conference to fix his salary, or 
steward to collect it, but he soon found a warm-hearted 
welcome to this Methodist neighborhood at South Fork, 
that had been waiting nearly a year for the coming of 
the itinerant. Here in the cabin of Henry Shellhorn he 
preached the first sermon in Pawnee County, and in the 


64 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

fall of that year he organized the first class in that county, 
in the cabin of Christian, or Judge, Bobst. 

The following named persons constituted this historic 
class : Judge Bobst, Sarah Bobst, his wife ; Mariah 
Shellhorn, Jerome Shellhorn and his wife, Mary E. Shell- 
horn. Judge Bobst was class-leader and steward, x\ 
characteristic incident which occurred during the sum- 
mer is related by Brother H. Burch, who was traveling 
a circuit in Kansas, just across the line, and was at the 
time visiting Brother Hart's work, having been invited 
to preach on the Sabbath at the Bobst appointment. The 
afternoon was rainy and no one was present but the fam- 
ily. They had no sermon, but the opportunity for doing 
something for the Master was not allowed to pass. Some 
time was spent in religious conversation, reading the 
Scriptures, singing and prayer. The pastor had called 
for their Church letters, but in their moving from Ohio 
these had somehow got mislaid. During this informal 
religious exercise good Sister Bobst was wonderfully 
blessed. The memories of the past and the experience of 
the present filled her heart so full of joy that it shone out 
of her countenance. The pastor, quick to perceive these 
religious expressions, remarked that he guessed Sister 
Bobst has found lier Church letter. "This,'" writes 
Brother Burch, "was like the spark to the powder, and 
there was an explosion of religious joy and acclamations 
of praise that continued long after we had retired." Thus 
the fires of spiritual life were burning on the altars of 
many hearts, ere organization could be accomplished. 

A general "history of Nebraska" credits David Hart 
with organizing the first Methodist Church in Richard- 
son County, at Archer, some time in 1855, which after- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 65 

ward became the Church at Falls City, Archer, itself be- 
ing moved to that place. 

There is no reason to believe that Brother Hart was 
able to effect any organizations other than these two, but 
doubtless had other preaching places, and was able to re- 
port at the Conference of 1856, forty- four full members 
and six probationers. 

These items given by Rev. C. W. Giddings in a His- 
tory of Nebraska, published in 1882. are of interest. 
"The Church at Table Rock was organized in 1857, by 
Rev. C. V. Arnold, a member of the Wyoming Confer- 
ence, Pennsylvania, and consisted of forty members. The 
meetings were held for four years at the house of Rev. 
C. W. Giddings, who had himself just come to Nebraska. 
But many who came at the first settlement got discour- 
aged by the hard times and in 1858 left, so that out of 
one hundred and fifty families who had come, during the 
eighteen months preceding, to make their homes in Table 
Rock and vicinity, but fifteen families remained." 

In 1856 Nemaha ^Mission is left to be supplied and 
Brother Burch thinks it was served by a local preacher 
named King. At the Conference of 1857 there are re- 
ported sixty members, an increase over the preceding 
year. In 1857 Nemaha does not appear, but probably 
Table Rock takes its place, and is again left to be sup- 
plied. Again there is no information in the ^linutes as 
to who supplied, but it was probably C. \'. Arnold, who, 
as before referred to by C. W. Giddings. organized Table 
Rock Church in 1857. In 1858 Falls City becomes the 
name of the circuit, with the old hero, J. W. Taylor, as 
circuit preacher. Thus we see that what was originally 
Nemaha j\Iission changed its name twice in three years. 

66 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

These changes in the names and forms of circuits, occur- 
ring frequently in those days, make it difficult and often 
impossible to trace the growth of any one charge. 
Brother Taylor reports at the Conference in 1859 forty 
members. At this Conference there are two circuits 
formed out of the original Nemaha Mission ; Falls City 
and Table Rock, the former receiving as pastor, Jesse L. 
Fort, and the latter, J. W. Taylor. It is not unlikely 
that Beatrice, on the Big Blue, that for the first time ap- 
pears in the Minutes, included also some of the work in 
Pawnee County. For Falls City there are reported in 
i860, seventy-four members and probationers ; and for 
Table Rock, seventy-two. In i860 Falls City is left to 
be supplied, and Table Rock has L. W. Smith, under 
whose labors there was a great revival. 

In the spring of 1857 a steamer was making its toil- 
some way up the Missouri River, often detained by 
grounding on sandbars, delaying its journey. Some of 
those on board, who at the beginning of the trip were 
entire strangers, soon found that many were headed for 
Nebraska, and during the trip formed a colony to be lo- 
cated somewhere in the Territory, the exact location to 
be determined after investigation. After landing at Ne- 
braska City, two committees were sent out to find a suita- 
ble place, and their report, was submitted to a full meet- 
ing of the colony in Omaha. The committee recom- 
mended a point on the Big Blue and decided to name the 
place Beatrice, after one of Judge Kinney's daughters. 
Among those who were in this colony and were the first 
settlers of Beatrice, were Judge John F. Kinney, J. B. 
Weston, and Albert, or "Pap" Towle, as he was knowr 
familiarly, and his family. The same boat that brought 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 67 

this colony to Nebraska brought Bishop Ames to preside 
at the Kansas-Nebraska Conference at Nebraska City, 
and Adam Poe to represent the "Book Concern," of 
which he was one of the agents. Dr. Poe related the 
following incident, which occurred on the way up the 
river : 

"There was a young man on board who was very 
officious and curt. He was exceedingly anxious to have 
a dance. The cabin was cleared, a fiddler employed, and 
everything was made ready for the hop, when the young 
man stepped up to a young lady who sat at my side, and 
after a very polite bow, said : 'Will you dance with me ?' 
'No, sir ; I was better raised,' was the prompt reply. 
'And w^here were you raised ?' said the young man, some- 
what abashed. 'In the Sunday-school and at the family 
altar,' calmly replied the young lady. Involuntarily I 
clapped my hand on her shoulder and said, 'Good!' (Dr. 
Poe was a tall man, standing six feet in his stockings, 
and proportionately large in body.) The young man 
squared himself up, thinking he saw something in my 
proportions that would do to fight, and then said, 'Well, 
if we can't have a dance, perhaps we can have a sermon.' 
'Yes, sir;' said I. Knowing the bishop could preach 
much better than I, we put him up, and Bishop Ames 
gave us one of his best." 

The young lady referred to in the above incident is 
said to have been the daughter of "Pap" Towle, of 

D. H. May preached the first sermon in Beatrice in 
1858, in Towle's cabin. J. W. Foster was assigned to 
Beatrice in 1859, being the first pastor ever sent to that 
place. His circuit included Blue Springs and perhaps 

68 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

some other points on the Big- Blue. He reports at the 
Conference in i860 fourteen members. 

Brownville was among the first in time on the list of 
appointments, appearing in 1856, but there was no or- 
ganization till 1858, the first class being formed by Philo 
Gorton, in February, 1858. During that winter there 
was a gracious revival in which some forty or fifty were 
converted. Dr. Goode and J. T. Cannon assisted the pas- 
tor. At London, as early as 1856, a society was formed 
by J. T. Cannon, consisting of six members, and the fol- 
lowing year a log church was built, which was also used 
for school purposes. J. W. Taylor preached the first ser- 
mon at a point where Peru now is, probably some time 
in 1856, but the first class was formed by Rev. J. T. Can- 
non, at the house of Geo. K. Pettit, early in 1857. Peru 
at that time was a part of the Brownville Circuit, and the 
next year Philo Gorton was pastor, a name "which appears 
for the first time in 1858 and continues well at the front 
for a few years and then disappears. He did faithful 
work while he remained. 

Tecumseh, in Johnson County, appears in the Minutes 
for the first time as early as 1857, with H. A. Copeland, 
who was received on trial that year, as circuit preacher. 
He reports forty-seven members at the next Conference, 
At that time Tecumseh itself was little more than a post- 
ofiice, the number of people never exceeding one hundred 
until after the war, when a number of old soldiers and 
others coming in, the town was incorporated in 1865. 
There were probably a number of appointments on the 
circuit in 1857, all together making the forty-seven mem- 
bers above referred to. Following Copeland was J. R. 
Minard, in 1858, who was received on trial that year and 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 69 

discontinued at his own request in 1859. The fact that 
the statistics for 1859 are the same as for 1858, being 
forty-seven members, indicates that Brother Minard 
made no report, and the figures for 1858 are repeated in 
1859. In 1859 Tecumseh Circuit was left to be suppHed, 
and there was reported at the next Conference thirty-nine 
members, a sHght loss, which is probably accounted for 
by some change in the circuit, or by the rush to the newly 
discovered gold fields in Colorado, which attracted many 
from Nebraska, and temporarily depleted our population. 
Hiram Burch was succeeded in Nebraska City by D. 
H. May, who continued two years. Brother Burch re- 
ported seventy members and four probationers at the 
Conference of 1857, and Brother May reports one hun- 
dred and forty-eight members and fifty-eight probation- 
ers ; a very substantial growth in two years, and indicat- 
ing faithfulness and efficiency on his part. The two 
Chivingtons now appear in Nebraska City; J. M. as pre- 
siding elder of the district, and Isaac as preacher in 
charge. The membership drops to ninety, with three 
probationers, a falling off of over half in a single year. 
In i860 J. M. Chivington goes- to Colorado, and Isaac 
Chivington becomes presiding elder, with L. D. Price as 
pastor. There is a note in the Minutes of 1861 stating 
that "there was no regular preacher last year, hence no 
report," from which it seems that L. D, Price did not go 
or did not remain, and this, then the strongest charge, 
was without a pastor. In Otoe County, besides the work 
of W. D. Gage, Hiram Burch, and their successors at 
Nebraska City, we find traces of that hardy pioneer, Z. 
B. Turman, as early at 1857. as far west as Walnut 
Creek, near where Syracuse now stands. Jacob SoUen- 

70 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

burg-er had taken his family and settled on Walnut Creek 
as early as 1858, and the McKee family came soon after 
and a small class was formed by Brother Turman about 
that time. The permanence and final success of this little 
struggling- society was probably due more to this faith- 
ful layman, Jacob Sollenburger, than to any other one 
person. He was as true as steel and a faithful pastor 
would always find him a faithful friend and one of the 
most efficient stewards the Church has had in Nebraska, 
as the writer learned by experience a few years later. He 
was one of those stewards who said "something initst 
be done." He will appear at a later stage of this history, 
but always the same earnest, consistent Christian and effi- 
cient official in whatever place he was called to fill. 

Wyoming, about nine miles north of Nebraska City, 
was laid out as early as 1855, and was a part of the first 
Nebraska City Mission, but never developed into any- 
thing for Methodism. 

A few settlements were scattered along Salt Creek 
from a point fifteen miles south, and up to the present 
site of Lincoln, as early as 1857, and these appear in the 
appointments as Salt Creek Circuit, which is left to be 
supplied. The following year Z. B. Turman was ap- 
pointed circuit preacher. Of this devoted pioneer Dr. 
Davis speaks as follows : 

"There were many thrilling events connected with 
the early history of Brother Turman's work in Nebraska 
which can but be of very great interest and profit to the 
reader. At the second session of the Kansas and Ne- 
braska Conference, in 1857, the Salt Creek Mission was 
formed and Zenus B. Turman was appointed preacher in 
charge. The first sermon ever preached in Lancaster 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 71 

Count}' was by Brother Turman. This was in 1857, and 
in the private house of James Eatherton, some twelve 
miles south of where the city of Lincoln now stands. 
The same year he preached the first sermon ever preached 
on the present site of Lincoln. Salt Creek Mission em- 
braced seven counties, and Brother Turman established 
sixteen preaching places. The settlements were sparse 
and confined to the streams and the distance from one to 
the other was often very great. Over these prairies, un- 
der the burning rays of the summer sun, and the fierce 
winds, blinding storms, and terrible winter blizzards, 
Brother Turman rode from settlement to settlement, and 
calling the people together in their rude dwellings, pro- 
claimed to them the Word of Life. All over this part of 
the State we see to-day the grand results of the sacrifices 
and toils of this noble man of God. The Church planted 
by him has arisen in beauty, grandeur, and glory, and we 
now enjoy its sacred privileges. I have been intimately ac- 
quainted with Brother Turman for thirty years, and I have 
often heard him tell of his work in the State in an early 
day ; but never have I heard a murmur escape from his 
lips. He has always been a genial, uncomplaining, happy, 
sunny-hearted minister of the Gospel. The winter of 
1858 witnessed one of the most powerful revivals of re- 
ligion under his labors, near where Louisville now stands, 
that was ever known in that region of the country. The 
singing, praying, and rejoicing could be heard for miles 
away. The people said, 'The only reason why there were 
not more converted was because there were no more peo- 
ple to convert.' The revival swept the entire community 
into the Church — men, women, and children."* 

^Solitary Places Made Glad. 

72 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Salt Creek becomes Saline Circuit and appears as 
"supplied" in 1859, and only twelve members reported at 
Conference in i860. That year W. H. Kendall, who had 
just been admitted on trial, was appointed to travel it. 
He reports at the Conference of 1861, only ten members. 

Burwell Spurlock, who came to Plattsmouth in 1855, 
informs me that the first class, of which he was a mem- 
ber, was one that had been formed at Broad Cole's cabin, 
on what has since been known as the "Perry Walker" 
farm, two miles southwest of Plattsmouth, there not be- 
ing enough Methodists in Plattsmouth to form a class. 
The first pastor was W. D. Gage, whom we have seen 
was the first pastor ever appointed to a pastoral charge 
in Nebraska, he having been assigned to Nebraska City 
Mission in October, 1854. This class at Cole's was very 
probably a part of this first Nebraska City Mission at 
that time, but the next year became a part of Rock Bluffs 
Circuit, organized in 1856, which included Rock Creek, 
Plattsmouth, Eight Mile Grove, and Mt. Pleasant, with 
J. T. Cannon as the second pastor. 

At the Conference of April, 1857, held at Nebraska 
City (and the first one held in the Territory), Hiram 
Burch was appointed to Plattsmouth, which appears for 
the first time in the minutes. Early in the year he organ- 
izes the class at Plattsmouth, of thirty members. The 
following are some of the names of the first members : 
Wesley Spurlock and wife, Burwell Spurlock, Stephen 
Spurlock, Charlotte Spurlock, John Spurlock and wife, 
Mr. McCarthy and wife, John W.. Marshall and wife, 
and Father Throckmorton and wife. Among these ap- 
pears the honored name of Burwell Spurlock, who came 
to Plattsmouth as early as 1855, and has ever since been 

History of Nebraska AIethodism. 73 

an influential and useful member of the Church, for many 
years at Plattsmouth, and for the last thirteen years he 
has, along with his wife Isabella, had charge of the 
Mothers' Jewels Home, at York. His wife was Betty 
Davis, the daughter of Wade Davis, who was a member 
of the ]\Iorris class, before referred to as the first formed 
in the Territory, and which was now a part of Platts- 
mouth Charge. There were three other appointments, 
one at Rock Bluffs, another at A\'ade H. Davis's, and a 
fourth at Eight Mile Grove. For three months Burch 
also served the J\It. Pleasant Circuit, until supplied bv M. 

Following Hiram Burch at Plattsmouth, was David 
Hart, whom we first met in the Nemaha country, preach- 
ing where opportunity offered and visiting the people and 
talking religion in their homes and organizing classes. 

David Hart was born in England, November 21, 1821. 
He was early left an orphan and was apprenticed to a 
machinist. He was converted at the age of sixteen, and 
at twenty-one entered the ministry. After spending 
some years in that thorough training school, the Wes- 
leyan local ministry, he, in 1852, emigrated to America, 
locating at Jacksonville, Illinois, where his first wife died. 
In 1854 he came to the Kansas and Nebraska Indian Alis- 
sions, and, as elsewhere noted, was, in the spring of 1855 
assigned to the Nemaha Mission, ^^'hile at the Indian 
Mission he became acquainted with one of the teachers, 
Miss Martha Higley, to whom he was married after com- 
pleting his work on the Nemahas. He then resided two 
years in Holt County, JMissouri, and did missionary work 
and assisted in establishing Methodist Churches in Holt, 
Nodaway, and Andrews Counties. The following trib- 

74 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

ute to his work and worth is put on record in the Minutes 
by his brethren in the Conference, who esteemed him very 
highly : 

"Closing his pastorate at Beatrice he was appointed a 
third time to Plattsmouth. Here his labors in connection 
with Conference commenced, and here, with failing 
health, prostrated by his pulpit efforts, his labors closed. 
Often with his countenance all aglow with heavenly 
transport, he would exclaim, 'I am ready now, this mo- 
ment, to depart, if it be the Lord's will.' 

"He preached his last sermon from 2 Tim. iv, 6, 7, 8. 
The text and sermon were a fitting close to his minis- 
terial life. He attended Conference at Omaha last Oc- 
tober, took a superannuated relation, and in company 
with his wife, went to Utah, hoping that a change of 
climate might so restore health as to enable him to resume 
labor in that dark, difficult field. He had no desire to 
live only to be useful, and his zeal in the cause of God 
could only be quenched by the waters of death. While 
at Salt Lake City he took part in the services of the 
Church as far as he was able, greatly to the edification of 
its members. Leaving there he went to American Fork 
to spend the winter with his brother-in-law, where, on the 
14th of January, 1878, he passed away from earth in holy 
triumph, exclaiming, 'Glory,' and saying, 'They are wait- 
ing. I see them — a great company. Let us go.' 

"Brother Hart was a man of strong faith and full of 
the Holy Ghost, and his preaching was in demonstration 
of the Spirit and of power. He possessed great energy 
of character and was unswerving in his adherence to 
the right. He was ardent in his affections and faithful 
in all the relations of life, Abundant in labors, he gath- 

History of Nebraska ]\Iethodism. 75 

ered many sheaves into the garner of the Lord and will 
doubtless have many stars in the crown of his rejoicing." 

David Hart was followed at Plattsmouth bv Philo 
Gorton, but of his pastorate there we have no record ex- 
cept that he remained the full term of two years and 
turned the charge over to his successor in good condition. 

Jesse L. Fort is appointed in i860, and is able to re- 
port in iS6i, sixty-eight members. 

When Brother Burch went to Plattsmouth it was the 
head of a circuit of four appointments with the strong 
class in the Davis settlement as one of these. In 1859 
this becomes the head of the circut, which reports one 
hundred and forty-eight at the close of the year. To 
make this circuit probably the outside appointments were 
taken off from Plattsmouth, leaving that with Eight Mile 
Grove and Oreapolis as a charge. Probably Plattsmouth 
society was having a substantial growth during the years 
it was seeming to be losing, or barely holding its own, 
or actually reporting a heavy loss. 

]\It. Pleasant was one of the earliest circuits formed 
and for many years one of the strongest and most desira- 
ble circuits. It appears as the head of a circuit for the 
first time in 1857, and was left to be supplied. Pending 
the securing of a man for the place. Hiram Burch served 
it temporarily in addition to his four appointments on the 
Plattsmouth Charge. 

Among the first settlers was W. D. Gage, who had 
located and taken a claim there as early as 1856, and was 
living there with his family. In 1856 a stanch Methodist 
layman, Stephen B. Hobson, long known as "Uncle 
Stephen," moved into that settlement, and from his 
daughter, Mrs. J. H. Bates, now residing in California, 

76 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

and Rev. George Hobson, his son, and other sources, and 
my own knowledge, I am able to glean a few facts con- 
cerning the beginning of the work at Mt. Pleasant and 
vicinity, and the part their honored father bore in the 
planting of the afterward flourishing vine. 

That same summer that Stephen Hobson settled at 
]\It. Pleasant (then called Cassville). a Sabbath-school 
was held in the shade of a large oak-tree near the house 
of Rewel Davis, conducted by Matthew Hughes, Milton 
Case, J. F. Buck, and a few others. Mrs. Bates says the 
first sermon she heard was by W. D. Gage, in an un- 
finished frame building that afterward belonged to Bran- 
non. That old veteran, Joseph T. Cannon, was the first 
circuit preacher, having been assigned to Rock Bluff Cir- 
cuit in 1856, which then included Mt. Pleasant, and in- 
deed all of Cass County and part of Otoe. He preached 
in the house of Matthew Hughes. In the summer of 
1857, Sabbath-school was held in Uncle Stephen Hob- 
son's house, as was also the preaching ; and several quar- 
terly-meetings were held there. By much effort a log 
school-house was built that vear, which also served as a 
place of worship. Though no mention is made of the 
fact by Mrs. Bates, it is very probable that during J. T. 
Cannon's pastorate, the first organization of a class was 
effected, with the Gage and Hobson and other families 
as members. 

It was a characteristic fact that in the home of Stephen 
Hobson, the infant society was first nursed into strength 
and begun that career of growth and power and influence, 
which, for nearly forty years, was equaled by few and 
excelled by none of the other stations or circuits of Ne- 
braska Methodism. And through all that magnificent 

History or- Nebraska Methodism. 


history. Uncle Stephen Hobson was the mainstay of the 
Church. He was recording steward for thirty-five years, 
missing but two quarterly-meetings in the first ten years 
of the history of the charge, and one of these was on ac- 
count of sickness, and the other was once when serving 
on a jury. He always made it a point to be on hand in 
time to pass the bread and water. Xot only was he faith- 
ful in these official relations, but also in his attendance on 
the means of grace. The pastor not only expected to see 


him at the preaching service, but was just as sure to find 
Uncle Stephen in his place at prayer and class meeting. 
He would never go to town (Plattsmouth, their nearest 
trading point, twelve miles distant) on Thursday, lest he 
might not get back in time for prayer-meeting. 

It may be truthfully said that all the pastors who have 
ever served Mt. Pleasant Circuit have reason to thank 
God for faithful, punctual, sympathetic, helpful Stephen 
"B. Hobson, and his not less devoted wife, "Aunt Mary." 
The writer looks back to the fact that he was one of those 
fortunate pastors and Uncle Stephen and Aunt Mary 

78 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

hold a warm place in his affections and he and his wife 
will never forget them. 

I offer no apology for giving this much space to this 
layman. He stands as a representative of a class of faith- 
ful men and women who helped plant and develop the 
Church in all parts of Nebraska, and who have been 
among the Aarons and Hurs who, during the battle, have 
held up the hands of the leader. I would give equal 
space to many other men and women of the laity, ec|ually 
deserving, but can not. For while their deeds of faithful 
self-sacrifice are on record on high, they are not on earth, 
and to-day only God knows how much the faithful men 
and women of the laity have done in the last fifty years 
for Nebraska Methodism. 

In after years Stephen Hobson found by his side such 
faithful friends and helpers as Bird and family. Brother 
and Sister John Frew and Flora Frew, Wm. Schleisti- 
meir. Brother and Sister Winslow, and others of like 
precious memory. 

Stephen Hobson raised a family of children who all, 
early in life, became stanch Methodists, and one son, 
George A. Hobson, was given to the ministry, and has 
spent many years in the ranks of the itinerancy. His clear 
thought and sound preaching have been a blessing to 
many ; and though now on the superannuated list in the 
Nebraska Conference, because of partial deafness, is still 
busy along literary lines, and is highly respected by his 

When, as before noted, ]\It. Pleasant was made the 
head of a circuit. Dr. Goode, as he frequently did during 
his administration, drew on Indiana Methodism for the 
man to supply the place, and at the end of the first quar- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 79 

ter, that stalwart Alethodist preacher, ]\Iartin Pritchard, 
entered upon his pastorate at Alt. Pleasant, a circuit with 
six appointments, and began an honorable career of great 
usefulness, which was to continue twenty years. It closed 
in triumph at Peru, March 24, 1877. At the next Con- 
ference his brethren pay the following tribute of his work 
and worth : 

"Rev. Martin Pritchard was born in the State of 
Ohio, April 23, 1827. When seventeen years of age he 
was converted and united with the Alethodist Episcopal 
Church. About the same time he left home, and without 
any pecuniary aid from others he secured a good 
education. He then engaged in teaching, and continued 
in that employment until he entered the traveling connec- 
tion. He was licensed as an exhorter when twenty-three 
years of age, and as a local preacher about two years 

"In the spring of 1857 he was united in marriage to 
Miss Mary Howard, and a month or two after came to 
Nebraska, and was employed as a supply on Mt. Pleasant 
Mission, by Rev. W. H. Goode, presiding elder of Ne- 
braska District. He at once entered upon his duties as 
an itinerant with that energy and devotion to his work 
which so signally characterized his whole career as a min- 
ister, and the fruits of his labor gave abundant proof 
that he was indeed called to the work of the Gospel min- 
istry. At the close of the year he was recommended to 
the traveling connection, and was received on trial in 
the Kansas and Nebraska Conference at its session in 
Topeka, April, 1858. As a preacher he was sound in 
doctrine, his sermons solid rather than brilliant. His 
piety was of that cheerful type that caused him to look on 

8o History oi? Nebraska Methodism. 

the bright side of life, and rendered him hopeful and 
happy. During the last two years of his life he was at 
times a great sufferer. For months together paroxysms 
of pain were frequent and very severe, but amidst it all 
he maintained that same cheerful spirit, and was never 
heard to utter a word of complaint. During his last ill- 
ness, which continued ten days, his mind and heart was 
still upon his work ; and as late as Thursday, he still 
thought he would be able to attend his quarterly-meeting 
on Saturday and Sunday, but when Saturday morning 
came, the messenger of death came also, and found him 
ready alike for labor and for rest. When the congestive 
chill, of which he died, was upon him, stupefying both 
body and mind, so that he thought and spoke of little 
that related to earth, he was twice asked if he felt Jesus 
to be precious, and twice answered with emphasis, 'Yes, 
O yes,' and soon, with apparently little or no pain, he 
passed from earth to heaven to join the happy spirit of 
his cherub child, which only a few hours had preceded 
him to glory, leaving his family thus doubly bereaved to 
mourn the loss of a kind and loving husband and father, 
and this Conference one of the ablest and most efficient 
members. But while we mourn, we also rejoice — rejoice 
that he being dead yet speaketh. Though our lamented 
brother is no more among us, he lives in his labors and in 
his influence, and his memory is enshrined in our hearts." 
Besides what his brethren have noted above of the 
facts of Martin Pritchard's life and work, there are a 
few others which in justice ought to be mentioned. It 
was he who built the first Methodist parsonage in Ne- 
braska, this being erected during his pastorate at Peru in 
i860. He also built the first church in Pawnee City. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 8i 

At the election for the delegates to the General Con- 
ference of 1876, Martin Pritchard came within one vote 
of being elected delegate, W. B. Slaughter and H. T. 
Davis being the successful competitors. He was twice 
elected reserve delegate and served four years as a mem- 
ber of the Book Committee, one of the most responsible 
positions of the Church. 

These facts tell of the high esteem in which Martin 
Pritchard was held by the Nebraska Conference and the 
Church at large. His wife, and now his widow, is a most 
noble specimen of beautiful, sanctified, Christian woman- 
hood, and bore well her part as an itinerant's wife. 

After Martin Pritchard's tw^o years expired. Rock 
Blufifs becomes the head of the circuit, and as the name 
does not appear separately, Mt. Pleasant doubtless re- 
mains a part of the Rock Bluffs Circuit till 1862, when it 
again becomes the head of a circuit. J. T. Cannon is 
Martin Pritchard's successor, remaining the legal limit 
of two years. The first year he had (as we have seen) 
Jacob Adriance as junior preacher, but he was soon sent 
out to Colorado. The second year Philo Gorton was 
junior preacher. This being the only circuit that had two 
men assigned to it, indicates, as do the statistics, that it 
is the largest and strongest in the Territory. This is in 
marked and sad contrast with the Rock Bluffs of to-day, 
where town and Church are extinct. 

This will, perhaps, be a suitable place to make fur- 
ther mention of J. T. Cannon, who was Jacob Adriance's 
senior preacher on the Rock Bluffs Circuit when the lat- 
ter was taken away for the Colorado work. 

Joseph T. Cannon came to Nebraska among the first, 
and from 1855 he becomes a member of the little band 

82 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

that during the fifties were laying the foundations of 
Nebraska Methodism. Mt. Pleasant Circuit and other 
charges mentioned elsewhere were helped by his faithful 
labors. After his death his brethren give this brief ac- 
count of his life and death : 

"Rev. Joseph T. Cannon was born in Shelby County, 
Ohio, September i8, 1814, and died of dropsy in Cass 
County, Nebraska, July 24, 1883, in the seventieth year 
of his age. 

"His grandfather was a native of Tennessee, and a 
schoolmate of General A. Jackson. Joseph T. Cannon 
was converted to God at the age of seventeen. Was mar- 
ried November 7, 1835, to Miss Phoebe Jordon. In 1839 
he was licensed to preach, and for fourteen years labored 
on various circuits in the JMissouri Conference as local 
preacher. In 1851 he joined the Missouri Conference 
and was ordained deacon by Bishop Waugh, at Hannibal, 
Missouri. In 1855 he moved to Otoe County, Nebraska, 
within the bounds of Kansas and Nebraska Conference, 
and continued in the itinerancy three years. I i860 he 
was appointed to pioneer work, and stationed at Central 
City, Colorado. While there, he, with Rev. Brother Wat- 
son (brother to Richard Watson of Methodist fame), 
erected the first Methodist church in that country. They 
built it mostly with their own hands, hewing the logs on 
the mountain side, and carrying them on their shoulders 
to the site of the church. His labors there told seriously 
on his health, and he returned to Nebraska, and settled 
on his farm in Cass County, near the Union Methodist 
Episcopal Church. In 1870 he was elected to the eighth 
Legislature of Nebraska, and did his work well. In 1871 
his wife died, in the blissful hope of heaven, leaving a 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 83 

husband and three children to mourn their loss. In 1874 
he married Miss Mary S. Daley. 

"As a preacher, Brother Cannon was moderate in 
speech, concise and practical. In the Conference he en- 
joyed the respect of all, and was highly esteemed by 
those who knew him best. As a Christian he was quiet, 
thoughtful, patient, and persevering. He suffered much 
by disease, which sometimes brought clouds and disap- 
pointments to his mind, but never did he lose confidence in 
his God. His end was peaceful and grandly triumphant. 
He even exulted in the approaching hour, and passed 
gently away to his reward, leaving a wife and little son, 
Wallace, and three adult married children. Thus Brother 
Cannon lived long, labored much, and died triumphantly." 


FIRST PERIOD. (1854-1861.) 

As EARLY as 1856-57 town site companies and other 
speculative organizations, confidently expecting that a 
railroad would soon be constructed along the Platte \^al- 
ley, induced people to form settlements and start towns 
as far west as Hall County. Beginning with Dodge and 
Platte Counties, we have the towns of North Bend, Fre- 
mont, and Columbus, started in the order named. In 
1857 a large German colony had also settled in Hall 
County, at the mouth of Wood River, farther west than 
any other settlement, being about 150 miles west of the 
Missouri River. 

These settlers must have the Gospel, and as early as 
1857 North Bend which probably included Columbus and 
intermediate points, was among the appointments named 
in the Minutes, but was left to be supplied. About this 
time another town was platted, east of North Bend, which 
was destined to become the most important citv in the 
State west of Omaha, and the Methodist Church at that 
place has ever been and is now, one of the most influen- 
tial in the State. Of the founding of this town and 
Church I shall let Mrs. Ida Moe tell the story : 

"In the sultry month of August, 1856, there set out 
from the rough territorial capital called Omaha, a group 
of young men filled with a very definite purpose. 

"Following the grass-walled road which in the past 


History of Nebraska AIethodism. 85 

had been the trail of the Indian, the explorer, the Mor- 
mon, and was destined to become in the immediate future 
the natural highway of the freighter, the emigrant, and 
the engineer, they halted about forty miles to the west, 
and with chain, chart, and tripod ran out the lines and 
set the stakes that outlined the site of a new town. A 
sea of prairie grasses billowing in the wind, the level 
valley of the Platte stretched away, four miles to the 
bluffs on the north, one to the river in the south, to the 
horizon on the east and the west. 

"In June, John C. Fremont had been made the nomi- 
nee of the Republican party. Being ardent partisans and 
most of them of that political faith, the founders of the 
infant burg bestowed upon it the name of the picturesque 
and popular presidential candidate. 

''Among the half-dozen families who were the first 
settlers was that of a Congregational minister. Rev. Isaac 
E. Heaton. A good man and a scholar, he was held in 
deep esteem by his fellow-citizens and his subsequent 
long and godly life was felt to be a benediction to the 
community. But those who had been adherents of other 
forms of faith were early desirous of establishing their 
own Church organization and soon began to break away 
from the common fold. 

"Two brothers, Eliphus H. and Lucius Henry Rogers, 
had been reared in a Methodist parsonage and were eager 
to enjoy the service of God in accordance with their own 
mode of worship. This desire led to the formation in 
1857 of a class consisting of five members : E. H. Rogers, 
his wife, Lucy J. Rogers, L. H. Rogers, Mrs. Mary A. 
Flor, a young woman who had come with her husband 
from Wisconsin, Mrs. \\'ealthy Beebe, a widow who with 

86 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

her four sons had settled upon a claim three miles west 
of the village. 

"E. H. Rogers was the first leader, and except when 
absent for brief intervals, continued to sustain that rela- 
tion until his death. The first pastor was Rev. Jerome 
Spillman, who had been assigned to Fontanelle Mission, 
of which Fremont constituted one appointment." 

This is the first appearance- of this flaming evangelist 
in Nebraska. He was born and converted and educated 
in Indiana. Indiana Methodism at that time, as it had 
ever been, was of the most aggressive type, and was led 
by men who were giants in intellectual stature and full 
of the Holy Ghost, mighty in word and deed. Among 
these Jerome Spillman received his first inspiration, and 
imbibed his ideals of Methodism "as Christianity in ear- 
nest." He was pursuing the course of study at old "As- 
bury," under the great Dr. Cyrus Nutt, who was then 
president. After a few years of college life, and before 
graduation, he heard the call for men to plant Methodism 
in Nebraska, and reported to J. M. Chivington for work. 
The following letter will explain how Jerome Spillman 
was initiated into the work, and will illustrate how pre- 
siding elders supplied these fields as the needs demanded : 

"Omaha, June 22, 1857. 

"E. H. Rogers, Esq., — Dear Brother: This will intro- 
duce to you Rev. Jerome Spillman. I have employed him 
on the Fontenelle and North Bend Missions. He is a 
young man, as you will see ; still he is full of fire, and 
will do you good service. He is just now from Indiana 
Asbury University (of the junior class), is a good scholar 
and will prosecute his studies until he graduates. Board 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 87 

him if you can. I will be out on the eleventh of July. 
Kind regards to yourself and family. Yours truly, 

"J. M. Chivington.'' 

As stated in Mrs. Moe's account, Brother Spillman 
soon had a class organized. Meetings were held at the 
home of E. H. Rogers. Under these humble conditions, 
with a membership of five, began the history of one of 
the most prosperous Churches in the State. This Church 
from the first was blessed with the membership of strong, 
zealous, and influential laymen. The two Rogers. E. H. 
and L. H., were from the first marked men in the com- 
munity, and leaders in every legitimate enterprise that 
promised to promote the interests of the place and Church. 
From the first and as long as they lived, they were a tower 
of strength in the struggling Church. They were the 
sons of Rev. L. C. Rogers, an honored member of the 
old Oneida Conference in New York. E. H. Rogers was 
born in Litchfield, New York, January 12, 1830, and 
Lucius H. Rogers was born March 20, 1834. These two 
men will often appear in the story of our Church in Ne- 
braska, and always in some honorable relation, or some 
important work. 

Fontenelle, on the Elkhorn, some twelve miles north 
of Fremont, was one of the oldest towns in the State, 
though now almost entirely defunct. But during those 
early years it was a place of some importance, with a 
population of two hundred, and much promise, and un- 
limited expectations. It appears among the appoint- 
ments in the Minutes of 1856, and was left to be supplied. 
J. A. Wilson was employed as a supply, but failed to ap- 
pear, and the charge was served that Conference year by 

88 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

M. M. Haun, who reported fifteen members. Then, as 
we have seen, Jerome SpiHman was sent to supply Fon- 
tenelle, which it seems, from Chivington's letter, included 
both Fremont and North Bend. At Fontenelle he had a 
gracious revival, the first of a series which attended his 
ministry in Nebraska. There seems not to have been any 
revival at Fremont or North Bend, probably for lack of 
suitable places to hold special meetings. Brother Spill- 
man reported forty-five full members and twenty-eight 
probationers, where the year before there had been but 
fifteen. The name of North Bend appears in the Minutes 
in 1857 as being left "to be supplied," but as seen by Pre- 
siding Elder Chivington's letter, it was included in 
Jerome Spillman's field. It was little more than one of 
the numerous paper towns, though $60,000 worth of lots 
had been sold, mostly to Eastern purchasers. When 
Jacob Adriance was appointed to Platte Valley Circuit 
in 1858, it extended from Fremont to Columbus, and in- 
cluded North Bend and Buchanan. 

The work in Sarpy County began with Bellevue Cir- 
cuik, which included Fairview and all the points in the 
county, and appears for first time in 1857, to be supplied, 
and was also left to be supplied in 1858, and, as already 
noted, H. T. Davis was placed in charge at that time. In 
1859," Jerome Spillman, that flaming evangelist, whose 
labors were everywhere attended with great revivals, 
fresh from his victories at Fontenelle, was assigned to 
Bellevue. There was a great revival and the member- 
ship which had been reported at the Conference of 1858 
as ten, and in 1859 as nine, was reported at the end of 
Jerome Spillman's first year to be sixty-two, with eighty- 
two probationers. It Vv^as at this meeting that T. B. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 89 

Lemon, who, after some years of efficient labor in the 
Baltimore Conference, had come West and gone into the 
practice of law, was recalled to his duty as a minister of 
the Gospel. In i860. Jerome Spillman is returned to 
Bellevue, with J. H. Ailing as junior preacher, and re- 
ports in 1 86 1 one hundred and eleven members and sixty- 
four probationers, showing that the revival of the pre- 
vious year left permanent results. 

Of Spillman's preaching, Judge A. N. Ferguson, of 
Omaha, son of Judge Fenner Ferguson, the lirst chief 
justice of the Territory, has this to say : "I was but a 
boy of sixteen at that time, but I often heard Spillman 
during that great revival and at other times, and no 
preacher that I have heard in Nebraska has impressed me 
more profoundly than did Jerome Spillman." His pow- 
erful preaching and great revivals were still matters often 
referred to wdien the writer came to Nebraska in 1865. 
He went into the service of his country early in the Civil 
War, as chaplain, Plattsmouth and Oreapolis being his 
last charge in Nebraska, to which he was appointed in 
1 86 1. After the war he remained in the South. 

When in 1856 Isaac Collins was changed from Omaha 
to Florence, after having served the full term of two 
ecclesiastical years at Omaha, though not two full cal- 
endar years, the town was flourishing and still hopeful. 
There had been a church built at Omaha : there must be 
one built at Florence. This Collins undertook during 
the inflated times pending just then. But before it could 
be completed the financial crash of 1857-58 came, and 
money became scarce. But they felt the building must 
now be completed, and five hundred dollars were bor- 
rowed at five per cent a month, the pastor going on the 

90 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

note with some others. This rate of interest may seem 
incredible now, but was common then, as were even 
higher rates. By the time of the next Conference, 1858, 
when Hiram Burch was appointed to succeed ColUns, 
the case had become hopeless, the principal and interest 
on the note already amounting to more than the cost of 
the building, and the people having lost heavily, there 
was nothing left but to do that which a Methodist 
preacher hates to do, acknowledge defeat. 'They ac- 
cepted an ofifer of the creditors to take the building and 
cancel the note. These afterward sold the building to 
the school district, and it was still used for religious 

After a year of discouraging work in a town that was 
constantly losing ground, Brother Burch was returned; 
Calhoun, DeSoto, and Cuming City being added to Flor- 
ence, and the name of the circuit changed to DeSoto. 
Fort Calhoun, DeSoto, and Cuming City were very simi- 
lar in their fortunes and history to that of Florence. 
They flourished for a few years, and then declined. 
Isaac Collins, while at Omaha, preached at Calhoun once 
in four weeks, and even went occasionally as far as De- 
Soto, twenty miles from Omaha. These places had, dur- 
ing their brief history, the services of some of the ablest 
and most efficient preachers, such as Isaac Collins, H. 
Burch, Jerome Spillman, Jacob" Adriance, T. B. Lemon, 
and in the early sixties, J. B. Maxfield and A. G. White. 
But manifest destiny was stronger than even these strong 
men, and these places became defunct in a few years. 
But during the fifties they kept their places in the list of 
appointments. During Burch's second year there were 
some gracious revivals and the Church made gratifying 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 91 

progress. Brother Burch continued to preach at Flor- 
ence, though the Baptists and Presbyterians had aban- 
doned the field. The town continued to run down, and 
the faithful work of Collins and Burch came to naught, 
as was often the case in those times of shifting fortunes. 
While Brother Burch was in a revival-meeting at Cal- 
houn, the following sad incident occurred, as related by 
Dr. Goode, who had stopped on his way home to assist : 

"\Ye now approach a scene of deep and painful inter- 
est ; one which, in its results, was greatly to affect my 
future life and labors. Hitherto, in all my wanderings 
and toils, I had always had a devoted and willing par- 
ticipant. Home had been cheered and made a resting- 
place, with a society and companionship all that I desired. 
Absence had been relieved by the reflection that the family 
altar w-as kept up, the morning and evening sacrifice of- 
fered, the interests and comfort of dependent ones pro- 
vided for, and all the details of secular business and do- 
mestic care guided by a competent and faithful hand. A 
counselor, too, and friend, had been near me in every 
hour of impetuosity or of discouragement ; diffident, un- 
obtrusive, but judicious, constant, gentle, faithful. 

"The opinion had seemed to be mutually, though 
rather silently, entertained that I, though possessing more 
firmness of physical constitution, should first be called 
away; and all the arrangements of later years had con- 
templated this event. For this I had endeavored to have 
my "house in order." But how vain are all our plans 
founded upon mere presentiment. 'God's ways are not 
our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts.' A cup was 
prepared for me of which I had never expected to drink. 

"Upon the morning of the third of February, 1859, 

92 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

I started upon the northern portion of my fourth round 
of quarterly-meetings. The trip would take me to the 
extreme of the district and occupy several weeks. All 
at home were Well and cheerful. My meeting at De- 
Soto was attended. On the morning of Thursday, the 
9th, my last day in Tekama, the family scene at home 
had been as usual. My wife, according to her uniform 
custom in my absence, had assembled the household at an 
early hour, read the Holy Scriptures, the portion for that 
morning being Psalm cxlvi, bowed with her children, and 
commended them to God in prayer. A few hours passed 
in household avocations, when, while seated at her needle 
she was suddenly attacked with violent illness. Medical 
aid was immediately called, but in vain. The disease 
baffled medicine, and almost from the first precluded hope. 
On the morning of the 14th, God released her sanctified 
spirit and took her to Himself. 

"My supposed great distance, and the want of knowl- 
edge of my route, prevented my being sent for, though 
in reality I had passed most of the time of her illness 
within one day's ride of home. Reaching Omaha in the 
afternoon, where I had expected to pass the night, I 
heard of her illness, and in ten minutes after of her death. 
A solitary, but hasty, night ride of twenty-five miles 
brought me to my home at a late hour. Unknowingly, I 
passed into a room where my eyes rested upon the pre- 
cious remains, before I had seen a living being about the 

"Reason remained unimpaired to the last. Under the 
most racking torture, perfect patience and resignation 
were exercised. Not a murmur escaped. Eight children 
were at her bedside. During the illness she had all ob- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 93 

jects removed out of sight which reminded her of un- 
finished plans and contemplated domestic arrangements, 
saying-, 'I shall work no more,' calmly gave directions 
about her household affairs, even the most minute, in- 
quired kindly after the health of some that were indis- 
posed, thanked attending friends for their good offices, 
and expressed a fear that she should be troublesome or 
grow impatient, gave instructions for preparations for 
her funeral, addressed personally each of her children 
present, sent her last words to the absent one, and charged 
all to meet her in heaven, enjoined them to be 'kind to 
their father,' left a most tender and consoling message for 
myself, referring to my expectation that she would sur- 
vive me, 'Tell him not to grieve — we shall meet soon,' ex- 
claiming near the last. 'O that I could see Mr. G. once 
more !' From the first her confidence was firm and re- 
peatedly expressed. Almost the last words uttered were 
two lines of a hymn often sung in our family worship : 

" 'Rock. of Ages, cleft lor me, 
Ltt nie hide myself in Thee !' " 

It was in the spring of 1857 that there appeared on 
the field a young man who was destined to play a large 
part in the planting of Methodism in Nebraska and Den- 
ver, Colorado. 

Jacob Adriance was born in Cayuga County, New 
York, October 22, 1835. His parents were members of 
the Dutch Reformed Church, but afterward joined the 
Methodist Episcopal Church. A\'hen Jacob was ten years 
of age his parents moved to Niagara County, New York, 
where he grew up to manhood. He attended the district 
school and three terms at the Wilson Collegiate Institute. 

94 History of Nebraska Method rsM. 

He was religiously inclined from childhood, but 
thought he must wait until grown up before acknowledg- 
ing it openly, hence did not become a Christian until he 
was sixteen, when he was converted. Two years later he 
felt called to preach the gospel, but the call included the 
additional idea that it should be a long way from home. 
Though he says he was as conscious of the call as if some 
person had spoken, he, like Jeremiah, and probably every 
truly called prophet of God, hesitated from a sense of in- 
adequacy, saying, "I can't do that, I have no qualifica- 
tions as to gift of speech, or education for so great a 
task." After thus resisting the call for more than a year, 
conscientious Jacob Adriance surrendered and said, "Yes, 
Lord, I'll go." Having had a license to preach pressed 
upon him, and armed with a government land warrant for 
i6o acres of land, the gift of his father, on the seventh 
of April, 1857, at the age of twenty-two, he turned his 
face toward the mighty West, that country afar ofif where 
it seemed stipulated in his call to the ministry that he 
should in after years "make full proof of his ministry." 

He reached Nebraska City April 26th, a day after 
the Conference had adjourned. He then walked to Glen- 
wood to see Dr. Goode, and thence to Omaha to see the 
presiding elder of the Omaha District. It was charac- 
teristic of this modest man that his highest ambition up 
to that time was to assist some pastor, and when offered 
sole charge of 'DeSoto Mission, he shrank from the re- 
sponsibility, and only after considerable pressure did he 
consent to go, and entered upon his work. Instead of 
entering a quarter section of land with his land warrant, 
he sold it for $163 that he might have the means to pro- 
cure a horse and other outfit necessary for an itinerant 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 95 

circuit rider in Nebraska. A good brother gave him a 
pair of saddle-bags. He had less than twenty dollars 
left after these purchases, and this was soon spent for 
Sunday-school libraries, as we shall see. The presiding 
elder had taken a map and showed him nine appoint- 
ments which were to constitute his circuit, including, be- 
sides DeSoto, Cuming City, Tekamah, and Decatur, some 
other towns. He says of the other towns the good elder 
had shown him on the map, they had either gone into the 
river or were mere paper towns. Methodism had not as 
yet a single class organized on this field, much less 
churches and parsonages, nor was any other Church or- 
ganized. Nothing had been raised the year before but a 
little sod corn, but most of the settlers had come too late 
for even that. There were not to exceed one hundred 
people in any one of these four towns, though each were 
hopeful of a great future. Decatur was then confidently 
expecting a railroad and is still in a receptive mood after 
nearly fifty years of waiting. Brother Adriance was 
the first regular pastor of these places, and his first serv- 
ice was on May third, at DeSoto. in the home of Jacob 
Carter, a Baptist. He found but two Methodists. T. W. 
Carter and P.. S. Sprague. But he organized a Sunday- 
school on the I2th of July, 1857, purchasing a library for 
the same of Rev. ]\Ioses F. Shinn. of Omaha, who was 
then Sunday-school agent of the Iowa Conference. T. W. 
Carter had organized a Sunday-school as early as 1856, 
the first in Washington County, but it had gone down. 
The following winter he held extra services, and there 
were three conversions. While Isaac Collins was as- 
sisting in holding these meetings, a rather ludicrous in- 
cident occurred, which well illustrates the spirit of the 

96 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

times. Perhaps the form of amusement the Methodist 
preachers most frequently came in conflict with in all 
those earlier days, was the dance, usually so prevalent in 
newly settled countries. The meetings were producing a 
profound impression on the community and threatened 
to break up the dancing business entirely. Some of the 
leaders in that amusement determined to take vengeance 
on the preachers, and if possible, break up the meeting. 
Finding a small, dead dog, these hoodlums slipped up to 
the house, and while Brother Collins was preaching, 
hurled the dead carcass through an open window, strik- 
ing him in the back. The dead canine was removed, and 
except a ripple of excitement, the meeting went on as 
usual, the sermon was finished, and victory was on Is- 
rael's side. 

With the two Methodists which Jacob Adriance found 
at DeSoto and those converted at the meeting, and some 
others who came in later, he, by the close of the Con- 
ference year, organized a class of twenty-two with a 
Brother Harney as leader. This was the first class or- 
ganized at this place. 

On the same Sabbath that Jacob Adriance opened his 
mission in Nebraska at DeSoto, on the morning of the 
3d of May, 1857. he preached at Cuming City in the 
evening, in a log cabin without any door. A local 
preacher from Iowa, by the name of L. F. Stringfield, 
had been over in the fall of 1856 and preached a few 
times, but no organization had been effected. Finding 
seven Methodists, Adriance organized a class, appoint- 
ing H. Benner class-leader. This is the first class he ever 
organized, but it was not the last. On the 17th of May 
he organized a Sunday-school and again purchased a li- 

History of Nebraska ]\Iethodism. 97 

brary of M. F. Shinn, packing the same on his pony 
from Omaha to Cuming City, a distance of over thirty 

At Tekamah, in Burt County, he found that that zeal- 
ous local preacher, L. F. Stringfield, had preceded him, 
preaching a few times in the fall of 1856. A general 
history of Nebraska states that in 1854 the first sermon 
ever preached in Tekamah was by a Methodist preacher, 
but gives no name.* In 1855, Rev. Wm. Bates, a local 
preacher who lived near Tekamah, preached a few times. 
His brother, Rufus Bates, was an enthusiastic and effi- 
cient choir leader, and for many years rendered valuable 
service along that line. This same history states that 
Springfield organized the Methodist Church in 1856, but 
Adriance found no trace of the organization. He says 
that he found eleven members, and organized the first 
class ever formed there. This is probably correct, or if 
there was a class formed in 1856, it had been allowed to 
lapse, as was sometimes the case. W'm. Bates, a local 
elder, was appointed class-leader. Brother Adriance's 
first service was at the house of Benjamin Folsom, whose 
wife was a stanch Methodist and deeply pious Christian. 
The other members of this historic class, the only one of 
those formed by this faithful pastor on this circuit that 
has remained permanent till this day, was Michael Oh- 
linger and wife, Adam Ohlinger, and John Oaks, after- 
ward the founder of Oakland. Here he also organized a 
Sunday-school May 24th, purchasing a library and pack- 
ing it up from Omaha on his pony. The class doubled in 
numbers during the year. At Decatur Brother Adriance 
found a population of about fifty, but at that time no 
Alethodists, and though he preached there regularly, could 

* This was probably 'W'. D. Gafire. 

98 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

effect no organization. His first service was on a week 
night, May 7, 1857, at the hotel, with ten persons present. 

In reviewing the year's work, he says : "I held no 
extra services, except at DeSoto, for want of a place ; 
there were no public rooms available, and dwellings were 
small and full. The year with me was one of many 
severe trials, both of body and soul, but of many expe- 
riences that were helpful to me in after years. I found 
twenty-two members ; I left forty-six." He found not a 
single organization of Church or Sunday-school. He 
left a fairly well organized circuit, out of which has since 
grown several strong charges, among them Blair and 
Tekamah. Like Paul, he laid the foundations which 
others have built upon. His last Quarterly Conference 
renewed his license, and recommended him for admission 
on trial into the traveling connection, which was done at 
the Conference in 1858 at Topeka. 

Jacob Adriance is one of those unassuming men that 
rarely pass for all they are worth. But all soon came to 
respect and believe in him as a pure-minded, sincere 
Christian man. His preaching had little of the arts of 
oratory or embellishments of fine rhetoric, but possessed 
that element of genuineness and sincerity that all orators 
must have if they would be permanently successful. 
His messages of truth came straight from a warm, sym- 
pathetic heart, and his hearers felt that he was seeking 
them, not theirs. His preaching was effective chiefly in 
building up believers in the faith, but his ministry was 
also attended with many precious revivals and he will 
have many stars in his crown. Besides,- he was gifted 
with a wonderful power of song, that added greatly to 
his usefulness. He was in demand at camp-meetings, 

History of Nebraska Methodism, 99 

where his singing was deeply impressive. Brother 
Btirch tells of his being at the camp-meeting at Carrolls 
Grove, in Cass County, in 1857, where among other songs 
which he rendered in a most impressive manner was one 
entitled, "The Prodigal Son," during which the congre- 
gation was a good deal stirred. Thus Jacob Adriance has 
been permitted to sing the gospel as well as preach it, and 
only eternity will reveal the number that have been saved 
or helped through his twofold ministry. 

Adriance was followed on the DeSoto IMission by 
Jerome Spillman. The drcuit presumably included the 
same points as the year before, though we have no means 
of knowing certainly about this, circuits being subject to 
change in their boundaries at any time, as the exigencies 
of the work demanded. Knowing what we do of Jerome 
Spillman we can hardly conceive of his spending a year 
on a circuit without a revival at one or more of his ap- 
pointments, yet the JMinutes show no gain on DeSoto Cir- 
cuit during that year. The following year, as we have 
seen, DeSoto was served by Hiram Burch, and Tekamah, 
which probably included Decatur and other points, ap- 
pears in the list as a separate circuit "to be supplied." 
There is no means of knowing who, if any one, was found 
to supply it, and the statistics for that year show no 
growth in membership. 

The following year, i860, Z. B. Turman, whom we 
have already found at the front in other places doing 
valiant service, is sent to Tekamah, and as might be ex- 
pected, the membership is more than doubled. The next 
year after Brother Burch's pastorate, on the DeSoto Cir- 
cuit, the name of the circuit is again changed, and it ap- 
pears in the Minutes of i860 as "Calhoun, to be supplied." 

loo History of Nebraska Methodism. 

The man found to supply this hard field was no less a per- 
sonage than T. B. Lemon, who now appears for the first 
time in the work in Nebraska and is destined to fill a large 
place in the next twenty-five years. During this, his first 
pastorate, a great revival takes place at old DeSoto, trans- 
forming the whole neighborhood. 

John E. West, now a resident of Crawford, Nebraska, 
was then living at DeSoto. He sometimes accompanied 
Brother Lemon, and told the writer the following charac- 
teristic incident that occurred when visiting one of the 
appointments of the circuit at a school-house a little south 
of Fort Calhoun. The weather was cold, there was no 
stove up and they had to go two miles to find pipe with 
which to put one up. Only two besides themselves came 
to the service, but Brother Lemon preached with all the 
unction and power that characterized his preaching when 
large audiences listened to him. 

Omadi, or what is now Dakotah City, at that time be- 
ing off by itself to the north of the Omaha Indian Reser- 
vation, appears on the list from 1856 to 1867, when it 
drops out till 1869. The first two years it is left to be 
supplied. As there is no report of any kind at the Con- 
ference of 1857, it was probably not supplied in 1856, bul 
at the Conference in 1858, nine members and three pro- 
bationers are reported, and $382 out of a claim of $800 is 
reported paid, by William M. Smith. But the place 
being isolated, there are no other points within reach to 
combine with it and make a circuit. This would make it 
difficult to supply it. The first regular pastor sent from 
the Conference was A. J. Dorsey, who had just been ad- 
mitted on trial in the Conference. Of his work we know 
little, except that he found twelve members and proba- 

I02 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

tioners and reported twenty-eight ; was promised $ioo 
and reports all paid. He is discontinued at his own re- 
quest at the next Conference. A. J. Dorsey is followed 
by T. M. Munhall, who reports in i860 seventeen mem- 
bers and probationers, and $213 received out of the $300 
promised. There appears on this field, now Dakotah 
City, one who has just been received on trial, W. A. 
Amsbary, this being probably his first charge. He re- 
ports fourteen members and sixteen probationers, which 
indicate some revivals, and it would be strange if there 
were none with W. A. Amsbary pastor. 

The first quarterly-meeting was held on this distant 
field by J. M. Chivington in 1857, and during the summer 
of 1858 W. H. Goode made the trip and in his book gives 
an account of it, which is well worth quoting. It will be 
seen what it meant to be a presiding elder in those days, 
and especially what a trip to Dakotah City meant. He 
says : 

"My first trip to this upper region occupied a portion 
of May and June. Most of the bridges had already gone ; 
the direct road had to be abandoned and a way sought 
over the blufTs. About one hundred miles up, among the 
Black Bird Hills, is the Omaha Reserve, fronting some 
thirty miles up the river, through which we must pass to 
the upper settlements. In the forks of the Black Bird 
Creek is the Omaha village, heretofore described. The 
two bridges were gone, and both streams were swollen 
steep-banked, miry, and dangerous to pass. Arrived at 
the first I found a group of lazy, lounging Indians sun- 
ning themselves on the opposite shore, and awaiting the 
approach of some luckless traveler. By signs and words 
I inquired where I should cross. The wily savages 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 103 

pointed me to a place into which they tried to induce me 
to drive ; expecting probably, to see some sport and to 
realize a fee for helping me out of my difficulty. Being a 
little suspicious, I waited for a time. At length an honest- 
looking fellow came along, and pointed me the way to a 
place of less difficulty, thereby depriving them of the 
sport and profit, and saving me from difficulty and dan- 
ger. It being late in the afternoon when I got over these 
streams, I sought a lodging at the Government Farm and 
agency, but was denied. In vain did I present my voca- 
tion and object; I could not obtain the privilege even of 
sleeping upon the floor, and finding my own provisions, 
but was directed to an Indian tavern some miles off. Not 
relishing this, I drove off, planning for a night in the 
woods by my own campfire. Soon I found that my trail 
entered a vast tract covered with water of unknown depth, 
perhaps for miles. I endeavored to pass around, but was 
hemmed in and had to 'take water.' In I drove, com- 
mitting myself to the floods. It proved of fordable depth, 
though of long and tedious continuance. Emerging from 
the floods, I espied through the forest, the stately stone 
mansion of the Presbyterian Station. Approaching and 
giving my name and position, I was kindly met by the 
superintendent, Rev. Dr. Sturgiss, and his excellent lady, 
recognized as a missionary and a brother, formed an in- 
teresting acquaintance, and ever after had a welcome and 
pleasant home among them. Thanks to the churl that 
turned me off an hour before."* 

Jacob Adriance attended his first Conference at To- 
peka, making a journey of over one hundred and fifty 
miles to reach the seat of Conference. He was received 
on trial and appointed to Platte Valley Mission. Of how 

^Outposts of Zion. 

104. History of Nebraska Methodism. 

he gets from Tekamah to his new circuit and his expe- 
riences and description of the work he does, except that 
of Fremont, which is described elsewhere, I wih let 
Brother Adriance himself tell the story : 

"I was appointed at the Conference of 1858 to the 
Platte Valley Mission, embracing Fremont and the set- 
tlements west, including Monroe on the Loup Fork, fifty- 
eight miles distant from Fremont. Fremont had a popu- 
lation of one hundred. My first service, May 2, 1858. 
The following week I moved my two trunks from Teka- 
mah, with my pony and a one-horse wagon. At Bell 
Creek ford, as the water would come into my w^agon-bed, 
I made a bridge with it and a tree, and packed my trunks 
over. One day, as I had no bucket, I carried water to 
my pony in my hat. 

"North Bend had six families in the vicinity ; it was 
a paper town, from which, it was said, $60,000 worth of 
lots had been sold. The town site was afterward turned 
into a farm, and later the present town laid out. ]\Iy 
first service here was June 6, 1858. George Turton and 
Harriet, his wife, were the only Methodists here. 

"Buchanan was also a paper town located on the old 
military road at Shell Creek ; six families in this vicinity, 
mostly strong Universalists. My first service was on 
June 6th. They were intelligent, kind people, but ob- 
jected to me having family prayer, yet wished me to 
have public services in their houses. 

"Skinners was a settlement of five families. Mr. 
Skinner and wife were Methodists, living ten miles east 
of Columbus. My first service here was on June 20th, 
at 7 P. M., and as one family did not arrive until serv- 
ices closed, they having come four miles with their ox- 

History of Nebraska IMethodism. 105 

team, I held another service, making four sermons and 
twenty-two miles ride in the hot sun for the day. 

"Columbus had a population of about one hundred, 
mostly Germans, no Methodists ; first service May i6th, 
with twenty-four persons present. 

"Monroe. Here there were two families and ten or 
twelve single men keeping 'bach.' First service May 
1 6th, with fifteen persons present. At one service here, 
all were away but two men. I stopped with them for the 
night and preached to them in the morning as best I 
could, having come fifty-eight miles to do it. I think 
these were the first religious exercises held at the five 
places named. I kept up the appointments regularly 
during the year and organized the North Bend class, with 
George Turton leader ; six members, including a Sister 
Stephens living three miles above Columbus. Thus the 
class was thirty-six miles long. 

"Jalapa, on Maple Creek, eight miles north of Fre- 
mont, was my sixth appointment, and a settlement of four 
families. O. A. Himebaugh was the proprietor of the 
townsite, a Methodist, and later the first settler in Hooper, 
where he was active in building up Methodism. He died 
September, 1902. 

"The Fontenelle work was left to be supplied ; June 
29th Brother Goode put me in charge of it, in addition to 
present work. A church had been built the preceding 
winter, 1858, with native material, except the flooring and 
siding, which was hauled by wagon from St. Joe, Mis- 
souri, costing $100 per thousand. In later years it was 
taken down and rebuilt at Arlington. The leading Meth- 
odist families were those of S. Terances, Keeys, Han- 
cock, and Van Horn. 

io6 History of N£;braska Methodism. 

"As early as possible the settlements on the Elkhorn 
were visited. (From my diary.) October 19th, preached 
at Mr. Todds, at Logan Ford ; seven persons present ; en- 
tire settlement. October 20th, at DeWitt, thirty-eight 
miles from Fontenelle ; nine present, of whom Amzi 
Babitt was a Methodist. There were two Wesleyans, one 
Presbyterian, and one Baptist ; entire settlement out ; 
failed to organize. The 21st, at West Point; one family 
and six men in the settlement ; five present. Twenty- 
second at Hunters, Cuming Creek ford, five present, the 
entire settlement. No services at fords since I left. At 
West Point Methodism has never succeeded, and last 
Conference ordered our property there to be sold. On 
December 6, 1858, I found a settlement of three families, 
eight grown persons and two children, all in one cabin, 
twenty-five miles from Fontenelle on Logan Creek, where 
Oakland is now located. February 21, 1859, fo^i* oi them 
joined on probation, and March 21st, one more, so a 
class of five was organized, with the mother of the four 
daughters class-leader. Sister Arlington had been a Pres- 
byterian in Philadelphia, but made a good leader and 
kept up their Sabbath prayer-meetings for over two years. 
No settlers coming in and being so isolated from society, 
they finally abandoned their claims with the improve- 
ments, and re-located in Burt County, six miles south of 
Decatur, where Sister Arlington died a few months ago, 
upwards of ninety years old. I did not attempt to hold 
special meetings, but kept up the appointments, thirteen 
in number, and at different times traveling over three 
hundred miles in one rovmd in four weeks ; often without 
a trail ; by the sun and by my watch ; at times in storms 
keeping the pony's neck straight and sighting between his 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 107 

ears to objects a little in advance. Dangerous risks were 
avoided, yet at one time Logan ford was crossed by sit- 
ting on my feet on the .top of the saddle, with saddle- 
bags over my shoulders, and the water running over the 
pony's back. It was to cross or go back ten miles." 

At the Conference of 1859 he is appointed junior pas- 
tor on Rock Bluff Circuit, with the old veteran, J. T. 
Cannon, as senior preacher. This was the strongest 
charge numerically in the territory, having a membership 
of 143, being the only one that had over one hundred 
members. Doubtless the arrangement of being the junior 
preacher was much to the liking of this modest young- 
man, but it was not to last long. He was soon summoned, 
along with Dr. Goode, to a far distant, and as subsequent 
events proved, a far harder and more important field, re- 
ferred to elsewhere. Of the work of Jacob Adriance in 
Denver, it being in another field, little can be said in a 
volume treating of Nebraska Methodism, still I can not 
forbear a few. quotations from that excellent history of 
our Church in Colorado, by Isaac H. Beardsley, D. D., 
entitled "Mountain and Plain," as showing the nature 
of the work, the character of the man, and the high re- 
gard in which he is deservedly held by Denver and Colo- 
rado Methodists. Of their arrival at Denver and the first 
service. Dr. Beardsley says : 

"Brother Goode drove his four-mule team into Den- 
ver at half-past two P. M., on Tuesday, June 28, 1859; 
Brother Adriance following on his pony. They had six 
months' provisions for two. Their trip had been one of 
great fatigue and exposure during the twenty-eight days 
en route. After putting up notices for preaching on the 

io8 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

following Sabbath, they drove four miles up the Platte- 
to get feed for their animals. 

"Allen Wiley's motto was theirs, 'Methodist preachers 
are in a pushing world, and they must push also.' Expe- 
rience soon taught them that the best way to get a crowd 
was to sing it up. Their first service was held July 3, 
1859, in Pollock's Hotel. This was a frame building, one 
of the three or four only in the two towns of x^uraria, 
now West Denver, and Denver City. This house stood 
on the east side of Eleventh Street, between Wazee and 
Market Streets. Brother Goode preached at eleven A. M., 
and Brother Adriance at three P. M. The congregations 
were small, the people not caring for these things." 

And of his marriage we find this : Again I quote from 
Brother Adriance's letter to the writer and others : "How 
glad I was to meet the brethren, and have some minis- 
terial society. It was like an oasis in the desert. I was 
nearly overcome with joy. After Conference I went back 
to New York to visit my parents and friends. There I 
found a girl willing to become a missionary's wife." 
(There is a slight touch of romance and heroism about 
this match. She was Ivliss Fanny A., daughter of L. C. 
Rogers, of the Central New York Conference. Just sev- 
enteen days after their first meeting they were married 
and started for the "Pike's Peak" country.) "On our re- 
turn we crossed the plains at the rate of twenty-eight to 
thirty miles a day, reaching Golden about the first of July, 
and began housekeeping in a little cabin, twelve by four- 
teen feet, with no floor, one door, half a window on each 
side, slab roof, eaves about five feet high, three stools, 
and a little sheet-iron stove. Kept house three months 
without a chair." 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 109 

"When Presiding Elder Chivington came to stop oyer, 
night he had a much better bed than I had a number of 
times, the year before, in the same place, for I had pre- 
viously, with a pick and sledge-hammer, broken off, 
pounded down, or dug up some of the stones, among 
which I had wriggled myself down so that I could rest 
a little and sleep. Further, I had covered the ground 
w^ith sawdust, then with hay, upon which we had put a 
carpet of gunny-sacks, tacked down with wooden pegs 
driven into the ground. So, with a few blankets, a pair 
of nice, white cotton or linen sheets, and a big feather- 
bed, we made him quite comfortable. But wife had to 
wait in the morning until he got up before breakfast could 
be started. A wedding party of four came to stop over 
night. We bunked on the ground wath a part of them, 
giving the newly-married pair the bedstead with one leg, 
of my own make. 

"When wife and I visited on the circuit, she rode the 
pony and I took it afoot. I carried my revolver and 
knife in my belt. On the whole, we had a good year; 
some souls converted." 

And this concerning his w^ork on Central City Circuit 
in 1861 : "I traveled this work on foot, as it was too ex- 
pensive to keep a pony, with corn at twelve cents per 
pound and hay at six cents; Wlien potatoes and squashes 
came dozvn to four and five cents per pound we thought 
we could afford the luxury. Here wife had to foot it as 
I did, when she went with me. Sometimes she would 
walk as much as six miles in half a day over the moun- 

John M. Chivington, who has also gone to Colorado 

no History of Nebraska Methodism. 

and is again Jacob Adriance's presiding elder, is quoted 
by Dr. Beardsley as expressing this high approbation : 

"Gladly and with willing hearts did he and his noble 
wife go forward on their mission of love, foregoing a 
thousand and more comforts that they might have en- 
joyed. He was a good singer, powerful in prayer, thor- 
oughly Methodistic in all his ways, and strong in faith, 
giving glory to God. He was pre-eminently 'a man of 
one work.' The writer of these lines recollects the day 
this faithful servant of God and the Church came to 
his 'hired house' at Omaha, in April, 1857, seeking a 
place to work for the Master. Have known him ever 
since and can not now remember an act, or indiscretion 
that could be censured, except this, his leaving Colorado. 
I have purposely said miore about Mr. Adriance than 
others, because he may fairly be said to be the founder 
of Methodism in Colorado. Dr. Goode simply came on 
a reconnoitering expedition, and that accomplished, his 
work here ended ; v/hile Mr. Adriance remained, formed 
a mission circuit, organized societies, appointed class- 
leaders, held Quarterly Conferences, and started the first 
Sunday-school ever organized in Colorado. He is, in- 
deed, the father of Methodism in Colorado." 


FIRST PERIOD. (1854-1861.) 


At the close of this period there were only four church 
buildings reported, and as yet there were few school- 
houses. We find many of the pastors, like Brother Adri- 
ance on the DeSoto Circuit, saying they were not able 
to hold extra revival services at many places because 
there were no public buildings suitable for such pur- 
poses, and the private dwellings utilized, perforce, for 
the regular, but occasional. Sabbath or week-night serv- 
ice every two to four weeks, were unavailable for revival 
meetings. As might be expected under these circum- 
stances, they began earl}- to avail themselves of ''God's 
first Temples," the native groves, and hold old-fashioned 
]\Iethodist camp-meetings. 

The first of these to be held in the territory was very 
appropriately at John Carroll's grove in the Morris set- 
tlement in Cass County, where the first society was or- 
ganized. It occurred in August, 1856. While Dr. Goode 
had charge of the camp-meeting, he barely mentions it in 
his book except to say it was "largely attended and re- 
sulted in much good." Hiram Burch, then pastor at Ne- 
braska City, also attended, and writes more fully, say- 
ing: "During the summer I attended my first camp- 
meeting. It was held in John Carroll's grove, three miles 
southwest of Rock Bluffs. It was in charge of the pre- 
siding elder, Dr. W. H. Goode, and was of great inter- 


112 History of Nebraska IMethodism. 

est and power. Eighteen preachers were present some 
time during' the meeting, and there were just eighteen 
professed conversion/' 

Both Dr. Goode and Brotlier Burch speak of attend- 
ing another camp-meeting, held near Nebraska City, the 
same summer, ''of considerable interest, but not so largely 

In the summer of 1857 there were two camp-meetings. 
Dr. Goode says of these : "The first was in the rear of 
the Half-breed Reservation, near where Falls City is 
now located. The rain fell copiously and continuously. 
The tents had no sufficient covers. I was thoroughly 
drenched in my bed, having no alternative. I bore it pa- 
tiently. But there were showers of grace, too. On the 
Sabbath the sun shone forth ; the Word was preached ; 
the power of the Lord attended, and before the close of 
the meeting a large number, old and young, were brought 
into the fold of Christ. The second was held as the year 
previous, near Rock Bluffs. This is one of the most 
populous and best improved sections of the territory. 
The attendance was large and the meeting pi-ofitable." 

Of this second camp-meeting that year, Hiram Burch, 
then pastor at Plattsmouth, speaks more in detail, say- 
ing: "In August of that year (1857) we had a camp- 
meeting jointly for the two charges (Plattsmouth and 
Mount Pleasant). The meeting was one of great power, 
resulting in the conversion of many souls. Among others 
I remember Charlotte Spurlock, now Mrs. Sherfy, of 
Nebraska City, who was joyously converted, and her 
father. Brother Wesley Spurlock, of precious memory, 
seemed equally happy, and expressed his joy in shouts 
of praise. During the fore part of the meeting he spoke of 

History of Nebraska jMethodism. 113 

striking tent and going home because of the excessive rain. 
In the height of his rejoicing over the conversion of his 
daughter, he was asked, "Do you feel Uke going home?" 
and his prompt reply was, "Yes, to my heavenly home." 


At the beginning of the work in these two territories, 
Dr. Goode, when appointed general superintendent of 
missions in both Territories, was transferred to the Mis- 
souri Conference, with the intention of having both Ter- 
ritories attached to that Conference for administrative 
purposes. By some misunderstanding, however, the Iowa 
Conference supposed Nebraska, being contiguous to that 
on the west, would naturally come under its jurisdiction, 
and as early as October, 1854, laid out a Council Bluffs 
District, including Omaha and Nebraska City, and JMoses 
F. Shinn was appointed presiding elder. But there is no 
record showing that Shinn ever exercised the function of 
this office on the Nebraska soil, the arrangement being 
superseded by the prior appointment of Dr. Goode as 
general superintendent. 

The appointment, however, is significant of the fact 
that Iowa ]\Iethodism was on the lookout for these op- 
portunities of extending its work, and ready to provide 
for the religious needs of the settlers in Nebraska, unless 
otherwise provided for. 

In 1855, Dr. Goode attended both Iowa and the Mis- 
souri Conferences, and by courtesy the former was al- 
lowed to care for the Nebraska portion, and Hiram Burch 
was received on trial in the Iowa Conference, and ap- 
pointed to Brownville, Nebraska, but afterwards, as noted 
elsewhere, was changed to Nebraska City. But the Gen- 

114 History of Nebraska AIethodism. 

eral Conference of 1856 intervening, and passing an en- 
abling act, both these Conferences were reheved of all 
responsibility in the matter by the organization of the 
Kansas and Nebraska Conference, which occurred in a 
tent at Lawrence, Kansas, on the 23d of October, 1856, 
Bishop Baker presiding. Of Lawrence, where the Con- 
ference was held, Dr. Goode has this to say : 

"Lawrence still presented the aspect of war. Demol- 
ished buildings, fortifications, the United States troops on 
the one hand, and the Territorial militia on the other, 
were the surroundings of the scene. The Conference 
sessions were to be held in a large cloth tent, which had 
been occupied for the purpose of religious worship. 
Bishop Baker was to preside, and due time arrived, hav- 
ing been conducted by land across the State of Missouri 
by a competent escort. The preachers, too, were on hand 
in proper season, but when, before, did a Methodist Con- 
ference assemble bearing arms ! I can not say to what 
extent. But that some were armed I do know." 

Of this historic Conference, Dr. Goode says : 

"The number of members of Conference was found to 
be increased by transfers to fifteen. Bishop Baker pre- 
sided with his usual self-possession. The session was 
barmonious and pleasant. Brethren felt themselves ce- 
mented together by common sufferings and common 
perils, and rejoiced after the year of unparalleled con- 
flicts to meet again. The religious exercises were at- 
tended with divine unction and weeping and rejoicings 
were mingled together." 

Nebraska District was formed and five preachers were 
sent to this field. The time of meeting was changed to 
spring, which made the next Conference year a short one 
of six months. Nebraska City was fixed as the place 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 115 

for holding the next Conference. There were reported 
at this Conference (1856) from the Nebraska portion, 
two hundred and fifty-five members and forty-two proba- 

We can not help but w4sh we could have more knowl- 
edge of these Conferences during this period than can 
be gleaned from the ]\linutes. These ^linutes are very 
brief indeed. In the ]\Iinutes of 1856 we have the Dis- 
ciplinary questions and answers with which the Journals 
of present Conferences are supplemented and a list of 
committees and their reports, but only a few lines are 
given to the proceedings of the Conference proper. There 
is no mention of any roll call, or names of those present. 
The record of these Conferences in these pages must 
therefore be brief. Two of these Conferences were held 
in Nebraska, and at both the presiding bishop was de- 
layed till after the opening of the Conference by reason 
of floods in the ^Missouri. At the Conference which met 
at Nebraska City. April 16, 1857, Bishop Ames did not 
reach the seat of Conference till Sabbath afternoon, after 
the Conference business had been transacted and appoint- 
ments made. Dr. Goode, who presided, conducted the 
business with such ability that many said he was as good 
a bishop as any of them. But the flood that prevented 
Bishop Ames from reaching Conference till it was nearly 
over, came well-nigh being fatal to the man who acted 
in his place. In the trip from his home in Glenwood, 
Iowa, to Nebraska City, he encountered this flood, and his 
experience in crossing is well worth relating, and may 
best be told in his own language :* 

"Two hacks set out from Glenwood filled with pas- 
sengers eager to cross. So soon as we reached the blufif 

* Outposts of Zioa. 

ii6 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

and saw the vast expanse of water spread out before us, 
the old hackman said, 'It is useless to go further.' We 
urged him on down to the water's brink, but when there, 
all saw that further progress was impracticable. It was 
proposed to construct a raft of logs and endeavor to make 
our way down the cvirrent of a bayou which put in near 
the ferry. Of the ten anxious passengers all declined the 
hazard save three, two stalwart six-footers and myself. 
Dismissing our hackman and comrades, we took a wagon 
through the water to a cabin occupying an elevated spot 
on the brink of the bayou. Here we purchased two logs 
and sufficient plank, pinned the logs together at a dis- 
tance of some four feet, nailed on a deck of plank, and 
launched our craft ; took dinner, placed ourselves and 
baggage on board, and deliberately committed all to the 
current. It was a distance of about three miles to our 
desired landing, and all the way a world of water. The 
two juniors undertook to manage our float, while I was 
honored with the post of baggage-master. 'Don't drown 
the old pioneer,' shouted a voice to the boys as we passed. 
"The first half of our voyage was through open 
prairie. Here we were able to keep our course tolera- 
bly Well, but on entering the timber we soon encountered 
logs and heaps of drift-wood. Attempting to pass a huge 
drift that presented itself broadside in tlie current, the 
treacherous craft careened, slid under the mass of logs 
and disappeared, leaving us afloat and 'no bottom.' The 
boys sprang upon the drift, I remained in the water till 
the last article of baggage was handed out, and then they 
drew me up. 

. "But now what was to be done? To retreat was im- 
possible, and half the distance was yet before us. So on 

History of Nebraska Methodism, it/ 

we went, bearing' our baggage, now wading, swimming, 
plunging in the cold water, the ice girdling the trees, 
through fallen timber or long entangled grass ; then, for 
a time, on a dry elevated spot, where the keen wind 
pierced through our saturated clothing and chilled us 
even more than when in the water. Thus passed about 
two hours, sometimes consulting about trying to return, 
and then again urging onward. By this time I began to 
find it difificult to speak from a cramp approaching, I sup- 
pose, to lockjaw. Mentioning it to one of the young men, 
I found him affected in the same way. At length, 
when almost exhausted, we espied through the forest, 
the buildings at the ferry. ]\Iy young companions now 
left me, and urging their way, sent a man to my assist- 
ance, who met me just as I emerged for the last time 
from the water, so enfeebled that in ascending a gentle 
slope of some ten feet, I fell twice to the ground. 

"O. how marvelous is the loving kindness of the Al- 
mighty ! 'His tender mercies are over all His works.' 
Often I look back upon the perils of the past and wonder 
that I still live. Deeply have I felt in my own case the 
force of the remark of Mr. Wesley, 'A special Providence 
has been over my life, or I should not have been alive to 
this day.' We were taken to the cabin, supplied with dry 
clothing, warm drinks, and a good fire, and kindly cared 
for in all respects. Our clothing, books, papers, bank- 
bills, etc.. were dried. The night passed comfortably. 
In the morning I felt refreshed, crossed the river, hired 
a conveyance, rode down to Nebraska City, and preached 
that nieht. my quarterly-meeting being in progress, and 
never felt any inconvenience. Word went back that I 
was drowned, but when it was ascertained that I was 

ii8 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

actually alive and on the other shore, the statement was 
changed, and it was currently reported that I had 'waded 
Missouri River.' " 

Of this Conference the Minutes are very meager in- 
deed. The entire list of Disciplinary questions and an- 
swers is not given, and only four are entered in the Jour- 
nal as being acted on. Of these, only the minute in rela- 
tion to question three has special interest to Nebraska 
Methodists, recording as it does, the fact that Hiram 
Burch was admitted into full connection. Two districts 
are formed, the Nebraska City District, with seven ap- 
pointments and Dr. Goode as presiding elder, and the 
Omaha District, with eight appointments and J. M. Chiv- 
ington presiding elder. Seven of these fifteen appoint- 
ments receive pastors at Conference, and eight are left 
to be supplied. Though the Conference year was only six 
months, and the winter the severest in the history of the 
State, making the holding of meetings often impossible, 
it will be seen that the number of districts was doubled, 
the number of appointments nearly doubled, and the 
membership, including probationers, increased from two 
hundred and ninety-seven to three hundred and seventy- 

The Conference of 1858 is held at Topeka, Kansas, 
April 15th to 19th, Bishop Janes presiding. The Ne- 
braska contingent, consisting of about fifteen, all on 
horseback (except Colonel Chivington), with Dr. Goode 
in the lead, all went together. These had from one hun- 
dred to one hundred and seventy-five miles to travel, re- 
quiring those who went from the north of the Platte one 
week each way. Adriance says, it rained or snowed each 
day on the way down. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 119 

That we may know how the preachers went to Con- 
ference in those days, I will transcribe the account of this 
trip which Dr. Goode gives in his book : 

"Early in April we were on our way to the session of 
our Annual Conference at Topeka, Kansas. The distance 
from my residence was about one hundred and sixty 
miles. Our company from Nebraska, numbering- about 
fifteen, concentrated on Saturday, the loth, at Falls City, 
near the Kansas line, where I was holding a quarterly- 
meeting. The two days of religious service passed with 
much interest. The weather was stormy, and the Great 
Nemaha was swollen beyond crossing. We had intended 
to take the 'Lane Route' directly through, but were forced 
into another course. Fearing a confusion of councils, it 
was proposed, at our Sabbath afternoon meeting to ap- 
point competent conductors, who should make all arrange- 
ments, select a route, give directions, and pilot the com- 
pany through. Two seniors, acquainted with the coun- 
try, were selected. Orders were immediately given to all 
to appear early on Monday morning at a designated point, 
furnished, each, with one day's provisions. 

"The morning came, cold, snowy, and forbidding, 
but all were on hand. 'Sly buggy was left behind, and 
my faithful steed again converted into a saddle-horse, in 
common with my brethren. Passing down the Nemaha 
near its mouth, we crossed at Roy's Ferry. Thence ang- 
ling across the country we, on the second day, entered 
the Lane Road. 

"The appearance of such a company of 'mounted 
rangers,' in this land of excitements, often led to the 
question, 'What's up?' To all we were able to return 
'an answer of peace.' Rain, high waters, and rough fare 

I20 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

.did not depress the spirits nor lessen the appetite. At 
nightfall we distributed ourselves over sufficient space to 
find edibles, and in the morning reassembled. The after- 
noon of the 14th found us on the bank of the Kansas 
River opposite Topeka. But the river was from bank to 
bank, the ferry-boat gone, and the bridge was not finished. 
Putting our horses temporarily in the care of some In- 
dians, by the help of a skifif, and the part-way bridge, we 
reached the other shore, and delivered our company safely 
into the hands of the committee of reception." 

An item in the details of that memorable trip not men- 
tioned in Dr. Goode's account, is supplied by Hiram 
Burch, who was one of the party : 

"Our hero (Dr. Goode), when in discharge of his 
duty, disregarded the warning of men and of the ele- 
ments. In the month of April a band of Nebraska 
preachers, while on their way to Topeka, Kansas, en- 
countered a swollen stream, and the bridge was gone. 
Not knowing the depth of the muddy water, there was 
a momentary pause. But our hero soon solved the prob- 
lem by dashing into the current on his faithful steed, and 
the rest of the company followed." 

In the transactions of this Conference we are specially 
interested in the answer to the question, "Who are ad- 
mitted on trial ?" for we find among the fifteen admitted 
the names of Jacob Adriance, Jerome Spillman, Martin 
Pritchard, David Hart, Zenus B. Turman, and Philo 
Gorton, all men who were destined to play an important 
part in the development of Nebraska Methodism. The 
answer to the fourth question, "Who are the deacons?" 
has interest from the fact that Hiram Burch and D. H. 
■May are elected and ordained deacons. 

History of Nebraska ^Methodism. 121 

The Conference of 1859 was held at Omaha, April 
14th to i8th. Again Bishop Scott was delayed until the 
second day and Dr. Goode is elected to preside. We find 
several items of business which meant much to Nebraska 
and Colorado. H. T. Davis is admitted by transfer, Jesse 
L. Fort by readmission on certificate of location, and J. 
T. Cannon changed from superannuate to eft'ective rela- 
tion. In the list of appointments was "Pike's Peak and 
Cherrv \'alley. to be supplied." This meant that the 
grand old man who had organized the Church in the two 
Territories of Kansas and Nebraska should move on five 
hundred miles farther west and organize the work in 
Colorado, and that he would choose as the man who 
should go with him and be the supply at Cherry Creek, 
that faithful brother, Jacob Adriance. These two, with 
a mule team, should make the long trip across the plains 
to Denver, Dr. Goode remaining long enough to get the 
work well Parted, and Adriance remaining long enough 
to lay good and strong the foundations of Denver j\Ieth- 
odism. Of his great work there, we speak in another 

For the last time Kansas and Nebraska preachers meet 
together in a single Conference at Leavenworth, Kansas, 
March 15, i860. There has been rapid growth along all 
lines, as shown by the Minutes. Indeed, the Minutes 
themselves have been growing. The Minutes of 185G 
having but nine pages, while those of i860 have forty 
pages. The districts have increased from three to eight ; 
the circuits and stations from twenty-one to seventy-six 
within the two Territories. The members of Conference 
from fifteen to thirty-eight, and members and probation- 
ers from 1,207 to 5,405. The Conference of 1859 having 

122 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

memoralized the coming General Conference to divide 
the work into two Conferences on territorial lines, the 
absence of any action on this subject at this Conference 
was equivalent to reaffirming it, and it was deemed cer- 
tain that the General Conference in May following would 
so divide the Conference, and as a matter of fact such 
action was taken. 

The Rocky Mountain District appears with six ap- 
pointments, and only two men in all the vast field, and 
both of these were from Nebraska, J. M. Chivington, pre- 
siding elder, and Jacob Adriance at Golden City and 
Boulder. W. H. Goode and L. B. Dennis are delegates 
to the General Conference. 

It may be of interest to know that this Conference, 
in session in a city that had been the hot-bed of the pro- 
slavery sentiment, six months after the John Brown raid 
at Harper's Ferry, and less than a year before the seces- 
sion movement began, passed the following resolutions 
on the subject of slavery : 

"Resolved, That whereas, God has made of one blood 
all nations of men, we recognize in every human being 
the offspring of the same common Father, and admit the 
universal brotherhood of man. 

"Resolved, That no enactment made by any number 
of human beings can give one person the right of posses- 
sion in another person as an article of property." 


FIRST PERIOD. (Concluded.) 

With great difficulty, costing years of effort, we have 
been able to gather up these few scattered facts relating 
to this important period of the beginnings of our work 
in Nebraska ; and combine them as best we could into a 
statement that would convey to the reader a just concep- 
tion of the work and the workers. I have felt justified in 
tracing in detail, to some extent, the history of each 
charge, a method that will be impracticable when we 
come to deal with later periods, when the charges have 
multiplied into scores and hundreds in each Conference. 

We have also tried to follow each of these first build- 
ers working at the task of laying the foundations of our 
Methodism during this period, a method which can not 
be pursued later, when the workers begin to multiply in 
numbers. But it has been assumed that the reader would 
be especially anxious to know all about these men who 
laid the foundation, and how they did the work, and the 
spirit in which they did it. 

We have seen that in the short space of two years 
after Dr. Goode was appointed superintendent of Mis- 
sions in Kansas and Nebraska, in September, 1854, and 
there had been appointed at the Missouri Conference in 
October of that year one lone missionary to Nebraska, 
the work has sufficiently developed to justify the organ- 
ization of the Kansas and Nebraska Conference in Oc- 


124 History of Nebraska Methodism, 

tober, 1856. In less than four years more the General 
Conference of Ivlay, i860, authorized the division of this 
Conference into two, along territorial lines, and in 1861 
they each set out in their independent careers, the Ne- 
braska Conference being organized by Bishop Morris in 
April, 1861. 

This will constitute the close of the first period and 
the beginning of the second. 

As we have watched the progress of the work in these 
years we have seen much of the stress of hard work and 
sacrifice and uncertainty. During the fifties there were 
very few of the earlier settlers who thought there was 
much of Nebraska fit for agricultural purposes. They 
were unable to disabuse themselves of the false impres- 
sions made by the maps in the geographies they had 
studied, which included nearly all of Nebraska in the 
"Great American Desert." The writer was about that 
time taking his first lessons in geography and remembers 
how distinct the impression was and how it made him 
think Nebraska was something like the great desert of 
Sahara. Few thought that settlements would ever extend 
more than thirty or fifty miles west of the Missouri, ex- 
cept perhaps along the southern portion. Then probably 
the severest winter Nebraska has ever experienced since 
it was settled was in 1856-57, and this was followed by 
one almost as severe the next year. In 1856-57 the snow 
was three to four feet on the level, and some perished and 
all suffered. It was next to impossible to get to where 
provisions could be obtained. This, with the one or two 
unfavorable seasons for crops, and a financial crash that 
in many cases rendered worthless what little money they 
had, completely discouraged many of the settlers, and 

History of Nebraska jNIethodism. 125 

they either returned East, or were swept along- by the 
current that about that time set in toward Pike's Peak 
and the Colorado gold mines. There is no doubt that the 
population of many sections, if not of the entire territory, 
decreased during 1858 and 1859. 

But by 1 86 1 the tide had turned and Nebraska was 
no longer an experiment. The soil was found to be fer- 
tile ; the climate favorable for crops and healthy for man. 
The severe winters of 1857-58 had been followed by one 
or two exceptionally mild ones. The thousands that 
rushed to the Colorado mining camps must be fed and 
clothed. These supplies could be brought up the Mis- 
souri River to different points in Nebraska, but they were 
still five hundred miles or more from the camps and must 
be hauled over the plains by ox or mule teams. This 
gave rise to the freighting business, which, in the later 
fifties and earlier sixties, furnished remunerative em- 
ployment to many, and built up a flourishing trade in 
outfitting supplies in Nebraska City, Omaha, and other 
points on the river, bringing much money into the im- 
poverished country. 

Of this period, and the men who did the work, no 
one is more competent to speak than that grand old hero 
who had led the hosts during these beginnings, had 
shared their toils and perils, had asked none to go where 
he, himself, would not go, nor endure more hardship than 
he, himself, would cheerfully endure. If Paul fought 
with wild beasts at Ephesus, so did W. H. Goode fight 
with the wild beasts of border rufifians in Missouri and 
Kansas. In doing this he could sav as Paul said, "In 
journeyings often, in perils of waters and in perils of 
robbers, in perils by my own countrymen, in perils by 

126 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilder- 
ness." 2 Cor. xi, 22. In closing- his book, "Outposts of 
Zion," Dr. Goode makes this retrospect of the work dur- 
ing this period : 

"And, now, a closing word with the reader. Near 
ten years of itinerant life, embracing- a portion of my best 
days, has been spent in the work of frontier missions, a 
work unsought, undesired by me. till the providence of 
God, through the constituted authorities of the Church, 
indicated a path. 

"The fields of labor embraced in my successive ap- 
pointments, and, to a great extent, actually traveled over 
and occupied, have covered a large area, including all 
the region between Texas on the south and the extreme 
territorial settlement in Nebraska on the north, and reach- 
ing from the State lines on the east to the Rocky Moun- 
tains on the west. 

"The country up Red River has been traversed to 
a point seven hundred miles from its mouth. The re- 
gion upon the Arkansas has been explored eight hundred 
miles up; that upon the Missouri one thousand, while the 
tributaries, Kansas and Great Platte, have been followed, 
the one to the junction where its takes its name, and the 
other to its mountain sources. 

"Nearly every military post has been visited, and al- 
most all of the mission stations of every denomination. 
The lands of every tribe of Indians on the Western fron- 
tier, and many of the tribes beyond, have borne the im- 
press of my feet, and more or less intercourse has been 
had with them all. The white settlements have been ex- 
plored in their infancy and watched in their progress; 
and an acquaintance has been formed with all the phases 
and circumstances of frontier life. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 127 

"In the course of these labors, the valley of the Mis- 
sissippi, from the States east, near or remote, to the Ter- 
ritories west, has been crossed twenty-three times, by 
different routes and modes of travel, besides the amount- 
of traveling in the Territories themselves. The number 
of miles traveled over in the time is probably not less than 
sixty thousand, in about five thousand of which my family 
have participated in their necessary removals. 

"The Gospel, meanwhile, has been proclaimed to de- 
vout worshipers in the churches ; to delegates in Terri- 
torial conventions ; to promiscuous crowds in court- 
rooms and hotels ; to soldiers in barracks, and to camps 
of armed men ; to the thoughtless and dissipated in sa- 
loons ; to emigrants in corrals, and to miners upon the 
mountain sides ; to savages around the council-fires, and 
to slaves upon the cotton plantations of the South. 

"Great and unanticipated changes have taken place 
within this period. New communities have been organ- 
ized, and lands which, when first I passed over them, 
would not, I supposed, for half a century, if ever, be the 
abodes of white men, are now teeming with population. 
The border has been transferred a thousand miles west- 
ward. An empire has sprung up and more than a hun- 
dred thousand white inhabitants are found where, less 
than a score of years ago, I preached to Indians only, save 
the few whites officialh* tolerated among them. 

"Three entire Conferences west of the State lines have 
sprung up, and contingent provision is made for a fourth, 
in the formation of each of which it has been my privi- 
lege to bear a part. 

"I have witnessed much of the outbreakings of sin, 
and have seen some violence and bloodshed. Many of 

128 History of" Nebraska Methodism. 

the contacts of life have been rugged. The scene has 
often been stormy and the skies sometimes deeply over- 

"I have seen and marked the workings of Christianity 
in its personal effects upon the great and small, the states- 
man, the military officer, the common soldier, the white 
settler and his family, the miner, the Indian, the African 
slave, and the prisoner awaiting his doom under the law. 
I have seen its power exhibited in living and dying ex- 

"Shall I forbear to add — I have, I humbly trust, real- 
ized its supporting power under all life's changes, and 
often experienced that 

" God is ever present, ever felt, 
In the void waste, as in the city full, 
And where He vital breathes there must be joy." 

Nor have its Divine consolations been wanting, when, to 
human appearance, it has seemed that there might be but 
but a 'step between me and death.' . 

"Neither personal feelings nor sense of duty will allow 
me to close without a brief tribute to the moral and relig- 
iotis worth of the three }Oung men who successively have, 
by appointment of the bishops, accompanied me upon my 
dift'erent fields of labor — Revs. Henry C. Benson, James 
S. Griffing, and Jacob Adriance. More fortunate selec- 
tions could not have been made. In the very intimate 
relations necessarily sustained by us, our intercourse has 
been confidential and our co-operation cordial. We have 
consulted, labored, prayed, wept, and rejoiced together. 
Cheerfully have they borne their part, and have often 
lightened by participation, my own burdens. Never have 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 129 

I witnessed in any of them the shghtest deviation from 
strict moral integrity or entire devotion." 

Of Dr. Goode, himself, it should be further said : As 
early as .1837 his standing among his brethren is indi- 
cated by the fact that he was elected principal of New 
Albany Seminary. "The first literary institution of learn- 
ing under the care of the Indiana Conference, and \Yni. 
H. Goode was our pioneer educator," says Dr. Holliday. 
in his "History of Indiana Methodism." Had he continucl 
in the career of an educator, he would doubtless have 
achieved success and attained distinction along that line. 
But he soon resigned, regarding the pastorate as the field 
to which he was called. After finishing his great work in 
Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado, he spent many years in 
the work in Indiana. Dr. Holliday, in summing up his 
career, says : "Few men have made a more valuable or 
a more enduring impression upon the interests of the 
Church than Dr. Goode." 


SECOND PERIOD. (1861-1870.) 

The Nebraska Conference came to its birth in a time 
of momentous events, its own organization being itself an 
event of great significance. On April 4, 1861, at Ne- 
braska City, Bishop Morris gathered the fourteen Meth- 
odist preachers who were members of the Kansas-Ne- 
braska Conference at work in Nebraska, and with these 
and two others received into full connection during the 
session, constituted the first Nebraska Conference. At 
the close of that Conference he found ready to receive 
marching orders twenty-one men, including those on 
trial. This band he sent forth against the hosts of sin 
who were in rebellion against the government of Jehovah. 
Of these, two were presiding elders, who, among other 
duties, were to serve as recruiting officers to enlist more 
workmen as the exigencies of the work demanded. 

Eight days after this, on the 12th of April, Beauregard 
fired the fateful shot that opened the slave-holders' re- 
bellion, and which proved the death-knell of slavery. On 
the fifteenth of the month Lincoln summoned seventy- 
five thousand men to the army, and sent them out to sub- 
due this rebellion. 

These events are not wholly unrelated, as may seem 
to the casual reader, nor is the relation one of mere coin- 
cidence in time. Both these great leaders are fronted 
with a rebellion, but with this difference; the one against 


I. J. J. Roberts. 2. A. L. Folden. 3. W. S. Blackisurn. 4. Joel A. Van 
Anda. 5. F M. ESTERBROOK. 6. W. A. Presson. 7. Geo. S. Alex- 
ander. 8. Lewis Janney. 9. D. H. May. ic. Thos. Worley. 

132 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

which Bishop Morris organized his forces and sent out 
his bands was more fundamental, being against the gov- 
ernment of God. This rebellion having depraved the 
human heart and placed selfishness on the throne instead 
of love, was the cause of the rebellion which Lincoln set 
out to subdue. The rebellion of the South was but an in- 
cident in the age-long and world-wide rebellion against 

But we may trace even a still closer relation. There 
can be no doubt that the defeat of the slave party in their 
effort to capture Kansas first and then Nebraska, and 
make them slave States, greatly exasperated the Southern 
leaders. So it is but the simple truth of history to say 
that the first battle was fought during the late fifties, 
when the conflict raged between the hordes of border ruf- 
fians, and the hosts of free men from the north, who had 
rushed to these Territories, many to Kansas as the point 
in greatest danger just then, but also many like H. T. 
Clark, Andrew Cook, and others, came to Nebraska, for 
the express purpose of saving these to freedom. We know 
the result. Kansas was saved to freedom, and that meant 
that Nebraska should remain free as God had made it. 
We are proud to record that Methodism, under the lead 
of Wm. H. Goode, was one of the prime factors in bring- 
ing about the victory won in this first battle. When the 
Conference met in Lawrence in 1856, many of the preach- 
ers, recognizing the situation, went armed, and all con- 
tinued their work at the peril of their lives. But they staid 
and fought it out, and triumphed. 

It was this exasperating defeat in their scheme con- 
cerning Kansas and Nebraska, together with the subse- 
quent election of Abraham Lincoln, that led to the cul- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 133 

mination of the "irrepressible conflict" in the fierce Civil 
\\'ar and the final doom of slavery. 

While it may be true that those at work in Nebraska 
were not as much exposed to these perils as if they had 
been in Kansas, they belonged to the same Conference 
and were subject to marching orders that would place 
them there if the work demanded it. Hiram Burch re- 
ceived his first charge in Kansas, and while there crossed 
the river into Platte County, ]\Iissouri, and bearded the 
lion in his den by preaching the Gospel in a county whose 
citizens had declared such action on the part of a North- 
ern ^Methodist should be punished by tar and feathers for 
the first offense, and death for the second. David Hart, 
after planting ^Methodism in Richardson and Pawnee 
Counties, spent two years in Missouri preaching the Gos- 
pel in the face of these threats. Isaac Collins, after serv- 
ing two pastorates in Nebraska, in 1858 received appoint- 
ment on the Kansas side of the line, and at first Dr. Goode 
spent most of his time in Kansas. Thus, so far as their 
Church relations and duties were concerned, they were 
integral parts of the same body of men who fought this 
preliminary battle. - 

But let us approach with becoming respect still more 
closely to this historic body of consecrated men. A few 
names with which we have become familiar during the 
struggles and toils of the fifties, are missing. The name 
of W. H. Goode does not appear, and will not appear 
again. But he has accomplished his mission and having 
just returned from his arduous work of organizing Colo- 
rado ■Methodism, he is spending a few quiet days in his 
home at Glenwood, preparing for the press that wonderful 
story of frontier work in his book "Outposts of Zion." 

134 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Isaac Collins, the cultured pioneer, who was among 
the first who hastened to the front and began to lay the 
foundation of Omaha Methodism, has cast in his lot with 
the Kansas Conference, his last two pastorates being 
Atchison and Baldwin City, the latter the seat of Baker 
University, already established. He was soon after this 
transferred to the ranks above, departing this life in 1863. 

Jacob Adriance is temporarily absent laying the foun- 
dations of Colorado IMethodism, but will soon reappear 
upon the scene. J. M. Chivington is presiding elder of 
the Denver District, and will be heard from in his cele- 
brated military role. D. H. May is in the Kansas Con- 
ference, but will soon return and be heard from in Ne- 

A few others who appeared for a brief time have lo- 
cated and dropped out of the work. But most of those 
who have wrought in this field during the fifties are on 
hand to organize the new Conference and are ready to 
push the battle still further. 

Of these, Wm. M. Smith is there but soon passes on 
west. J. H. Ailing remains a little while, then goes back 
to Garrett Biblical school, takes the course and remains 
in the Rock River Conference. Theodore Hoagland con- 
tinues until 1863 and then disappears from the list. 
Jerome Spillman goes into the army as chaplain, and at 
the Conference of 1863 is granted a location, at his own 
request, as is also L. W. Smith. . Concerning Jerome 
Spillman it should further be said that after serving two 
years as chaplain of Fifth Iowa Cavalry, he went to his 
old home in Indiana, raised a company, was elected cap- 
tain of this Company "G," Ninety-third Regiment of In- 
diana Volunteers, and went to the front and was wounded 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 135 

at the battle of Jackson. After the war he entered the 
ministry in the South, and besides other charges, served 
one term as presiding elder of the Atlanta District. He 
died November 30, i8gg. 

But there are a number of strong, faithful men who 
for many years, and some during their entire life, remain 
in the ranks. Among these are ^^lartin Pritchard, David 
Hart, W. A. Amsbary, Z. B. Turman, J. T. Cannon, Isaac 
Burns, Jesse L. Fort, and H. Burch. It is the privilege of 
Hiram Burch to still tarry among his brethren and go in 
and out among the people, highly esteemed and revered 
by all Nebraska Methodism. Few have done more than 
this quiet, unassuming man of God, in making the history, 
and none have been so able and willing to render inval- 
uable assistance to the writer in rescuing from oblivion 
many of the facts of the history of those early times. He 
has cheerfully rendered every assistance in his power. 

While we miss the great leader, W. H. Goode, his 
work as leader is bequeathed to three great leaders, one, 
H. T. Davis, coming to the Conference by transfer from 
Indiana in 1859, and the other two, T. B. Lemon and John 
B. Maxfield, being received on trial at this Conference, 
Dr. Goode's mantle has fallen on worthy shoulders. In- 
deed, it is manifestly providential that with the retirement 
of Dr. Goode, and just at the time when Methodism was 
entering upon its new era of separate work, and during 
its formative period, much of it through the stress and 
storm of adverse conditions, that the leadership should 
have fallen to these three stalwart men and capable and 
wise leaders, and that they were spared long enough to 
lead Nebraska Methodism into the full maturity of its 
organized career. 

. 136 History oi^ Nebraska Methodism. 

True, Dr. Lemon was not allowed to give as many 
years to the work in Nebraska as either of the other two. 
But he entered the work at a more mature period of Ufe 
and with a larger experience and thorough training ac- 
quired in the old Baltimore Conference, that mother Con- 
ference of organized J\Iethodism, and hence in the twenty- 
five years he was permitted to give to the work in this 
State, his achievements rank with the best. For sixteen 
years he gave the eastern portion of the work the benefit 
of his great powers, contributing mightily to the building 
up of such centers as Omaha and Nebraska City, besides 
effective leadership as presiding elder. Then in 1877 be- 
gan the great work of his life, the development and or- 
ganization of the work in the western part of the State. 

It was the privilege of H. T. Davis to begin his work 
in Nebraska two or three years earlier than the other two, 
and continue in the effective ranks two or three years 
longer than either of them, beginning his work as a sup- 
ply on the Bellevue Circuit in 1858, and ending it on the 
Lincoln District in 1901, forty- four years of continuous 

While the territorial range of H. T. Davis's work was 
more restricted than either of the other two, beine con- 
fined to what is now embraced in the Nebraska Confer- 
ence, with the exception of a few years of pastoral and 
district work in Omaha, yet within these bounds no name 
is so well known and no workman has left so deep an im- 
press upon the Church and the cause of Christ in gen- 
eral, as H. T. Davis. His very presence in a home was a 
benediction. In the presence of this saintly man sin stood 
rebuked and righteousness strengthened. 

But these with others that joined the ranks later on 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 137 

will be more fully appreciated as the story of their grand 
achievements is unfolded in the succeeding pages. 

Of the other member of this ecclesiastical triumvirate, 
John B. Maxfield, it may be said that for the range of 
territory over which his work extended in the course of 
his career, in the peculiar talents which he brought to the 
work, in the strength of his great personality and in the 
results achieved, he stands second to no one in Nebraska. 
He was by nature richly endowed with a strong mind that 
could readily grasp the great truths of the Gospel, and 
possessed a command of language that never failed to 
give clear, forceful, and often most attractive expression 
to these truths. This was true in the very beginning of 
his career. Such men as J. B. Weston, of Beatrice, who 
heard him when on his first circuit (the Beatrice, 1861), 
rated his sermons then as far above the average. With 
a wonderful mental capacity for quickly and clearly 
grasping the meaning of an author ; with a most tenacious 
memory by which he retained the contents of a book, and 
being a diligent student, he made rapid progress. With 
what would be called a good education to begin with, 
though not a graduate, he soon reached a commanding 
position among his brethren and a high rank as a preacher 
of the Gospel, which was at once recognized by all classes 
who heard him, as the following pages will amply demon- 
strate. Indeed as a preacher, it may be questioned if he 
has had a superior in the history of the pulpit in Ne- 
braska, in our own or any other denomination. 

W^e would be glad to peer into the early life of this 
strong personality and trace the influences which wrought 
to make him what he was, but we are only in possession 
of a few simple facts. He was born in Syracuse, New 

138 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

York, February 24, 1833. He was converted at a meet- 
ing held by the Wesleyan Methodists at Waddell Meeting-- 
house, in Knox County, Ohio, in February, 1856, and 
united with the Methodist Episcopal Church at Wayman- 
ville, Indiana, in the following April, He soon felt the 
call to preach the Gospel, but, as in the case of many 
others, this was not to be without a struggle extending 
over several years. He was then twenty-three years old 
and may already have had other plans of life. The next 
year, 1857, he fell in with the currents that set in toward 
Kansas and Nebraska at that time, and soon plunged into 
the rough life on the frontier, first in Kansas and then in 
1858 coming up into Nebraska. But all who knew him 
say he bravely met some of the severest hardships inci- 
dent to life in a new country. He came to know what 
poverty meant. At one time he must part with his gun 
to pay his board-bill. And he knew what sorrow meant. 
It was here in the vicinity of Blue Springs, Nebraska, 
that he lost his first wife, the daughter of Dr. Summers, 
and soon he, himself, passed through a long siege of sick- 
ness, often hovering very near the verge of eternity. Good 
Mrs. Knight, who is still living, and who nursed him 
through this spell of sickness, says that the call to rhe 
ministry that had come to him in Indiana soon after con- 
version, came again, and he yielded. But though he had, 
up to this time, not yielded to the call to the ministry, 
Mrs. Knight and Mother Shaw and all who knew him, 
agree in saying that he had all this while maintained his 
Christian integrity. After his recovery from his illness, 
and receiving license, he preached occasionally during the 
winter of 1860-61. 

They tell the story that at the first service he con- 

140 History of Nebraska T\Iethodism. 

ducted he was so embarrassed that forgetting- himself, 
he turned his back on his congregation when he knelt to 
pra\-. We can hardly believe this of the self-poised Max- 
field that most of us knew in later years, but as a side 
light, served to explain in part, at least, his long hesitancy 
about entering the ministry. His sense of the great re- 
sponsibility in preaching the Gospel and a feeling of in- 
adequacy to the task made him hesitate, and overwhelmed 
him with embarrassment at the first attempt, as it has so 
many other strong men. 

He was recommended for admission on trial and re- 
ceived at the Conference of 1861. Perhaps of all the little 
band of twenty-one whom Bishop Morris sent out from 
the first Nebraska Conference to their several fields, none 
went to a harder or more discouraging post than did John 
B. Maxfield when he went as junior preacher to the Beat- 
rice Circuit, which was on the extreme frontier, there be- 
ing nothing further west. His senior, Joel Mason, had 
been on the circuit the year before and had received only 
$150 of the $300 promised. Now there were two of them 
to divide the $150, if they received so much, which, as it 
turned out, they did not, and the amount that J. B. Max- 
field received for his first year's preaching, from the people 
he served, did not exceed thirty dollars, the whole amount 
for both being sixty dollars. His share of the missionary 
money would be $112.50, assuming that the junior 
preacher received half of the allowance of $225. But this 
strong man, to whom the world was beckoning with much 
more enticing offers in a worldly way, "chose rather to 
suffer affliction with the people of God," rode forth on 
his little white pony and began at the bottom that great 
career as a Methodist minister, asking no favors except 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 141 

a fair chance to win his way and by the blessing of the 
great Head of the Church do his work "and make full 
proof of his ministry." As might be expected of so well 
equipped and forceful a personality, he soon finds, and 
easily maintains his place among the leaders for over 
forty years, as pastor, presiding elder, college president, 
member of General ^lissionary Committee, or as dele- 
gate to the General Conference, and is listened to with 
respect and interest. 

Of the standing wdiich he won in the General Con- 
ference, and with the Church at large, we have an intima- 
tion in the following editorial by Dr. Buckley : "The 
Rev. David Marquette has contributed to this paper a 
memorial on the career of the late Dr. John B. jMaxfield. 
With Dr. Maxfield we had as intimate acquaintance as 
was possible to be maintained by men separated by half 
the continent. In the General INIissionary Committee, and 
in the five General Conferences of wdiich he was a mem- 
ber, we met him frequently. As an extemporaneous ora- 
tor he was far above the average. In the Committee on 
Episcopacy, in 1892, in a debate that sprang up unexpect- 
edly, and for which he could have made no preparation, 
he delivered an address which was, from one end to the 
other, a rolling current of true eloquence. It was upon 
the fixing of official residences in Europe, and a part of 
it was as lofty in thought and diction as any passage from 
the recorded debates of the great ecclesiastical bodies of 
England in the days when great men spoke without limi- 
tation of time. Dr. Maxfield always had the rhetorical 
manner, whether he said more or less important sentences 
or was more or less solemn. 

In the course of his life he had two severe attacks of 


142 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

paralysis, and so great was his general strength that not 
until the third, which occurred in the summer of 1899 
(as Dr. Marquette observes in another paper), was he 
robbed of that power of speech that had meant so much 
to himself and his friends and the Church. His efficiency 
in every sphere was fully equal to his power as a public 
speaker, pastor, and presiding elder. Until paralysis had 
destroyed the mobility of one side of his face, he was a 
magnificent looking man, stalwart, well proportioned, and 
had his voice exactly adapted to his style of thought and 

But while the number of preachers did not increase 
during the first eight or nine years, these three leaders 
were soon joined by others who took the place of those 
who left. Among them were such men as A. G. White, 
W. B. Slaughter, J. J. Roberts, and J. G. Miller; equal, 
and perhaps in some respects superior, to some of the pre- 
eminent three above referred to. These were all strone 
intellectually, men of culture, who will compare favorably 
with those of any other denomination. If they did not 
attain to the same pre-eminence, it was because they were 
not permitted to give as much time to Nebraska Method- 
ism, or lacked the opportunities. 

The Conference was organized by Bishop Morris at 
Nebraska City, April 4th to 8th, with H. T. Davis as sec- 
retary, Martin Pritchard assistant, and Hiram Burch sta- 
tistical secretary. The bishop conducted the opening 
services, consisting of the reading of the loth chapter of 
Romans, singing the 137th hymn, and prayer. 

In the Minutes of this session the Disciplinary ques- 
tions and answers took the place of the usual Conference 
Journal, and from the statistical reports we find Nebraska 

History op" Nebraska Methodism. 143 

^Methodism started out in its separate career with 948 
members and 396 probationers, and twenty local preach- 
ers. There were thirty-one Sunday-schools, 214 officers 
and teachers, and 978 scholars. There were four churches 
valued at $7,700, and one parsonage valued at $600. 

Of the benevolences, only the Missionary and Bible 
cause received contributions, the former $36.22, and the 
latter $20. The claims, receipts, and deficits for pastoral 
support the preceding year, as reported at this Confer- 
ence, did not present a very inviting- prospect for these 
men, from a financial standpoint. ' On the Omaha Dis- 
trict the total claims were $3,956 ; receipts, $2,364 ; deficits, 
$1,811. On the Nebraska City district the deficits were 
$426 in excess of receipts ; only forty-five per cent of 
claims having been paid. The average per pastor and pre- 
siding elder on the Omaha District was $338, while on 
the Nebraska City District the average was $160. This 
does not include jMissionary money, which was about $125 
for each charge. 

This is the outlook for support which confronts these 
men. Will they go to such fields for such pay ? A promi- 
nent pastor in a sister denomination, who was in Omaha 
in those early days, states that his salary was only $600, 
not half enough, he affirms, to support a family. If $600 
was not half enough to support a family, how far short 
must the $300, the average of our men, including mis- 
sionary money, have been? 

As the war had not vet broken out this Conference 
did not feel called upon to express itself on the pendino; 
struggle, but at the first Conference after the strife began, 
in 1862, it hastened to put itself on record in these em- 
phatic words : "Resolved, That we hold in the deepest 

144 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

abhorrence the wicked and treasonable efiforts of the 
rebels of the Southern States, who are laboring to rend 
to pieces the best Government the world has even known. 

"Resolved, That it is the duty of every citizen of 
these United States to uphold and aid the Government 
in suppressing the present rebellion. 

"Resolved, That we highly approve the policy the 
Federal Government is pursuing, in the present agitated 
state of the country, and the vigorous and successful ef- 
forts she is making to restore her to her former quiet and 

"Resolved, That the* Government of the United States 
has our warmest sympathies, cordial support, and most 
ardent prayers, in this her fearful struggle." 

For the first four years, or during the war, the growth 
was slow. Indeed, in one respect they were at first not 
able to hold their own. Starting out in 1861 with nine- 
teen pastoral charges, they dropped down to seventeen 
in 1863, and to eighteen in 1864. These losses are ac- 
counted for by the disturbed conditions incident to the 
war, and the check to immigration resulting therefrom. 


SECOND PERIOD. (1861-1870.) 

All but two of the preachers will go to circuits,, Ne- 
braska City and Omaha being the only appointments that 
have reached the dignity of stations. And this will con- 
tinue to be the case through nearly all of this first part of 
this period. But while Nebraska City station leads in 
number, there are several circuits with a larger member- 
ship than Omaha. Nor will those who go to the stations 
find the work much easier than on the circuits, except 
perhaps in the matter of travel and exposure. All will 
find confronting them peculiar difficulties growing out 
of the war that is soon to break in fury upon the country, 
and some will meet what seem almost insurmountable 
obstacles to the successful prosecution of the Lord's work. 

It may be said that many will do well if they "hold 
the fort" during these trying times. There will be no 
accessions through immigration, for this will cease, al- 
most entirely, with the exception that there will be many 
Missouri refugees. But neither the Church nor the coun- 
try will derive any benefit from this class. That State 
was fought over by both parties, and these refugees were 
largely sympathizers with the rebellion, without the cour- 
age and manliness to fight for their principles. They did 
little but breed dissension in the local commvmities and 
Churches along the river. It had come about in Nebraska 
as in all the North, that after the leaders of the Southern 


146 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

rebellion had become traitors, the loyal portion of the 
people were not quite satisfied with a non-committal atti- 
tude, but insisted on outspoken and unmistakable loy- 
alty to the Government and approval of the Government 
in its effort to suppress rebellion and save the Union. 
Failure to do so sometimes brought on bitter conflicts in 
the locality and even in the Church. We have already 
seen how one otherwise pious and strong preacher, Wm. 
M. Smith, was shorn of his power to do good by refus- 
ing to come out decidedly as a Union man. If the fail- 
ure to come out decisively for the Union cause made 
trouble, it fared still worse for any who were indiscreet 
enough to express disloyal sentiments. S. R. Tricket, 
who came from Missouri in 1862, well recommended, and 
was employed by the presiding elder, H. T. Davis, to fill 
out the unexpired term of Jerome Spillman at Platts- 
mouth, learned this to his sorrow. He managed to keep 
his real sentiments concealed for a little while, but, being 
something of an orator, he was invited to deliver the ora- 
tion on the Fourth of July, and declined with the remark 
that "the Fourth of July was played out." The indig- 
nant Church officials, being all loyal, locked the door 
against him, and instead of the Fourth of July being 
"played out," Mr. Tricket found himself shut out of his 
pulpit, and was soon run out of the town by an incensed 

On the other hand there were Southern sympathizers, 
especially among those refugees who became so numer- 
ous in some places as to feel that they could assert them- 
selves, and these resented any statements in the pulpit 
by any of our preachers, adverse to the "institution" of 
slavery. P. B. Ruch tells of some of these at Rulo, who 

History of Nebraska INIethodism. i47 

became offended at some remarks made in the pulpit on 
a quarterly-meeting occasion, by Presiding Elder C. W. 
Giddings, against slavery, and they indignantly demanded 
of him why he, as pastor, should allow such a man as 
Giddings in his pulpit. 

These are but a few examples of what took place in 
nearly every community during the w^ar, and greatly re- 
tarded the progress of the Church. 

Another cause that affected the growth of the 
Churches was that, while immigration ceased almost en- 
tirely, up to 1865, many who were here w^ent into the 
service of their country. It is probable that not less than 
2,500 went from Nebraska, including those in Curtis's 
Cavalry, of Iowa. This was about nine per cent of the 
total population, wdiich was, according to United States 
census of i860, 28,000. 

Besides the distractions incident to the Civil War, 
there were frequent Indian troubles on the frontier, and 
even more frequent Indian "scares." Besides the men 
sent to the front to fight rebels, militia companies were 
formed to repel the bloodthirsty Sioux, who were then 
on the warpath, attacking freighting trains on the plains, 
and sometimes swooping down on defenseless settlers on 
the frontier. 

William Mudge, still living with his family in Beat- 
rice, and all worthy members of our Church from the 
first, was an early settler in Gage County, locating a claim 
on Cicely Creek. He informs me that about this time 
they lived in daily peril from the Indians, and the Chey- 
ennes did drive away all his stock. They were then on 
the warpath in the southern portion of the Territory, the 
range of their operations extending from Cottonwood on 

148 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

the Platte, to Little Blue and Big Sandy, in Gage County. 
He soon after, with other settlers, joins the militia that at 
that time made a campaign against the Indians. Of one 
incident in this campaign he tells me this story : 

At Pawnee Ranch on the Little Blue, on August 13 
to 15, 1864, 1,000 Sioux surrounded a little band of one 
hundred white settlers with but few arms. But they had 
for their commander that indomitable leader, Rey. A. G. 
White (afterward a presiding elder), who had led a com- 
pany from Pawnee County, and under his leadership this 
little handful of braye, determined frontiersmen put up 
such a yigorous defense, shooting with such terrible ef- 
fect, that even these mighty Sioux gaye up the contest 
and retired on the third day. 

Andrew Cook, in his reminiscences of these times, 
tells of the panic-stricken settlers who occasionally rushed 
in to the older frontiersmen for protection and supplies 
to take the place of their all, which had been taken or 
destroyed by those bands of Indians. In the general 
history of Nebraska, published about 1880, is a letter from 
General O. P. Hurford, then of Oakdale, giving an ac- 
count of these Indian troubles north of the Platte. 

The following brief extract will tell of these troubles, 
and explain the immediate causes of these outbreaks of 
savage cruelty : 

"During the rebellion, the animus of the Indians on 
the plains seemed to change as the fortunes of the Union 
forces varied, and when it became necessary for the Gov- 
ernment to pay them their annuities in greenbacks instead 
of gold and silver, they became restless and impudent. 
Frequent depredations were committed by them upon 
freighters and the graders and tie-cutters of the Union 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 149 

Pacific Railroad. This state of things was a constant 
source of anxiety to the sfttlers along" the Elkhorn and 
Platte Rivers. In addition to this. Governor Saunders 
was frequently in receipt of anonymous letters from Kan- 
sas and Missouri, warning him that the rebel Ouantrell 
was planning a raid on Omaha, to sack the town and rob 
the banks. These letters were brought to my attention 
by the governor, with instructions to adopt such means 
as I had at my command to meet the danger, should it 
arrive. While the public mind was thus agitated, we 
awoke one morning in July, 1864, to find some of the 
streets of Omaha full of refugees from the Elkhorn, who 
brought with them the dire report that the Indians were 
down upon them in force. Whole settlements packed up 
what movables they could in a hurry, and rushed into 
Omaha for protection. The thing looked serious. Word 
was sent to Bellevue, in Sarpy County, where the good 
people rallied and hastened to the scene of the reported 
danger. /\t Omaha, we rushed to arms ; horses enough 
for two companies of cavalry were pressed into service, 
mounted by willing volunteers, and sent to the front. I 
remember well the high character of some of the volun- 
teers. Side by side in the ranks appeared Hons. P. W. 
Hitchcock and A. S. Paddock, both of whom served af- 
terward with distinction in the Senate of the United 
States, and Mr. Hitchcock also as delegate in Congress 
from the Territory of Nebraska." 

Here we have a combination of causes, any one of 
which would supply obstruction to the growth, both of 
the Church and Territory. But combined as they were, 
and operating at the same time and on the same area, did 
actually result not only in hindering the growth of the 

150 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Territory, but without doubt diminished the population, 
and would have prevented any growth and perhaps de- 
pleted the membership of the Church, but for the faith- 
fulness and efficiency of pastors and laymen, and the gra- 
cious revivals with which they were blessed, whereby 
there was some growth during every year of this dark 

Only the pastor who goes to Peru in 1861, will find 
a parsonage, and only three outside of Omaha and Ne- 
braska City will find churches to preach in, these being 
at Bellevue, Elkhorn, and Brown ville. 

They start out with two dfstricts and this will remain 
the number till 1865. These are manned by H. T. Davis 
on the Nebraska City District, and Wm. M. Smith on the 
Omaha District till 1863, when Isaac Burns fills the place 
for two years. 

There are besides the districts only nineteen appoint- 
ments, and in 1863 and 1864 even this small number will 
be reduced to seventeen. Let us, as far as possible, fol- 
low the several members of this devoted band as they 
bravely battle with these difficulties during these exciting 
and eventful years. 

If we start in on the southern tier of counties where 
the settlements have already extended as far as Beatrice 
on the Big Blue, we will find J. W. Taylor, he who was 
among the first to report for duty as early as 1855, at 
Falls City, and the old hero, Isaac Burns, at Table Rock, 
both in Richardson County. These are busy through the 
year building on the foundations laid by David Hart in 
1855. The following year J. W. Taylor asks and re- 
ceives a local relation along with Philo Gorton, and Isaac 
Burns is sent to Mt. Pleasant, and the next year is pro- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 151 

moted to the responsible place of presiding elder of the 
Omaha District, where he remains two years. 

In 1862 we find T. U. Munhall and L. W. Smith on 
the Falls City Circuit. They found one hundred and six 
members, including" six probationers, and report at the 
next Conference 242, including sixty-four probationers. 
This was a gain of 136. This increase may be in part 
accounted for by change of boundaries, but was doubtless 
mostly the result of revival effort, the increase in proba- 
tioners being fifty-eight. 

On account of ill-health, L. W. Smith asks and re- 
ceives a location at the next Conference. T. M. Munhall 
goes the next year, 1863, to St. Stephen Circuit, which 
appears for the first time at this Conference, and was 
probably before a part of Falls City Charge, the phenome- 
nal increase of the year before making a division neces- 
sary. The next year Brother Munhall is located at his 
own request, but reappears in 1865. There is nothing in 
the Minutes to show that he was re-admitted except the 
fact that he appears on the examining committee and re- 
ceives appointment at that Conference and at several suc- 
ceeding Conferences. 

The Minutes during all this period up to 1867, are de- 
fective in that there is no mention of those coming into 
the Conference by transfer or by re-admission on certifi- 
cate of location. The Journal of the proceedings not be- 
ing printed, it was deemed sufficient to print the usual 
Disciplinary questions and answers, but these did not in- 
clude a number of items of this kind. 

W. King, a local preacher, becomes pastor of the Falls 
City Circuit in 1863. The number he reports drops down 
to 115, including probationers, but this is owing, in part 

152 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

at least, to division of the circuit. During Brother King's 
pastorate a small parsonage is built at a cost of three hun- 
dred dollars. 

R. C. Johnson follows King at Falls City and con- 
tinues two years, reporting in 1865, eighty members, in- 
cluding twenty probationers. 

Hiram Burch goes from Brownville to Table Rock in 
1862, but resides in Pawnee City, one of the appointments 
on the circuit, the other of the three organized points be- 
ing South Fork. 

They can secure nothing better than a log cabin, with 
one room and a garret in which to live. But he soon had 
a subscription of $500 in cash and labor, and by doing 
much of the hard work himself, quarrying stone, making 
shingles, mixing mortar and doing carpenter work, they, 
in due time, had a parsonage of four rooms, a cellar and 
pantry, into which they moved in December and had a 
comfortable house the balance of the pastorate of two 
years. This is the way parsonages were built in those ■ 

Hiram Burch is followed on the Table Rock Circuit in 
1864 by A. G. White, but like Brother Burch, he lived in 
the new parsonage built at so large a cost of personal toil 
by his predecessor. Here also his labors are rewarded by 
a small increase. This pastorate was distinguished by 
the raising of a militia company, which, as previously 
noted, he commanded in the memorable and victorious 
contest with the Sioux at Pawnee Ranch on the Little 
Blue. At the close of his single year on this circuit he 
reports a slight gain, both in members and probationers. 

In 1865 Martin Pritchard becomes pastor of Table 
Rock Circuit, and is able to report a substantial gain of 
sixty-nine members and probationers. 

History of Nebraska ^Iethodism. 153 

To Beatrice Circuit, the one farthest \Yest on the fron- 
tier, and the one with as few attractions as anv charge in 
the Conference, John B. ^laxfield is sent. He will find 
no parsonage, no church, and only forty-seven members, 
and these scattered over a wide range of territory. But 
nothing daunted, this stalwart young Methodist preacher 
will be seen on his little white pony, riding up and down 
the Blue, from Blue Springs on the south to points near 
where Lincoln now stands, on the north. 

After a year of hard work on the Beatrice Circuit. 
Alaxfield goes to DeSoto Circuit, then to Decatur, but 
the Government calls him to take charge of the Industrial 
School for the Pawnee Indians, located at Genoa, where 
he remains three years. Of his brief stay at Decatur, ]\Irs. 
Robert Ashley, one of our most intelligent and faithful 
members at Decatur, has this to say in an interesting- 
sketch of the history of Decatur : 

"In 1863. Rev. J. B. ^laxfield was sent to be our pas- 
tor. He made his home with us. After staying less than 
three months, he was transferred to Pawnee Reservation, 
and we were left without a pastor. Brother ^laxfield was 
appreciated in Decatur ; he was a powerful preacher. We 
held services in a small school-house and every one at- 
tended. There was a warm feeling for him in the entire 
community, and his removal caused great consternation." 

Rulo, while one of the oldest towns in the State, did 
not seem at first to present conditions favorable for the 
planting of a Methodist Church. This was finally ac- 
complished by Rev. P. B. Ruch, in the spring of 1865. 
He had given a number of years of faithful and efficient 
work in the old Baltimore Conference, until failing health 
compelled him to give up the work, and he sought a home 

154 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

in Nebraska, coming to the Territory in 1864, and locating 
at Rulo. He found only three Methodists when he came 
to Rulo, but soon began to preach as opportunity of- 
fered. He taught the first public school in that place, 
which was attended by both white children and those of 
the half-breed Indians living on the half-breed tract, on 
which Rulo was located, near the mouth of the Great 

The first members of this class which P. B. Ruch was 
finally able to organize, were D. W. Searles and Jacob 
Shafif and their wives ; Mrs. Scott, the mother of W. D. 
Scott and of Mrs. Shaff; Mrs. W. D. Scott, Mrs. Mav, 
Mrs. Parsons, and Rev. P. B. Ruch and wife. D. W. 
Searles was the first class-leader. A little later. Rev. C. 
W. Giddings appointed Brother Ruch preacher in charge. 

Brother Ruch says he thinks he was the first Tvleth- 
odist to preach the Gospel in Rulo, at least no one there 
seemed to have any knowledge of any sermon at an ear- 
lier date. This is accounted for by the mixed character 
of the population up to that time, consisting, as he in- 
forms me, of half-breed Indians, Frenchmen, political 
refugees from Missouri, and some white people, mostly 
from Ohio. But there were not enough of these last and 
the other classes were poor material for a Methodist 
Church. It was not until the latter came in sufficient 
numbers that a class could be formed. 

At the Conference of 1861, H. Burch was returned to 
the Brownville Circuit the second year. A small church 
was built at a country appointment and one purchased at 
Brownville. It seems that T. W. Tipton, afterwards 
chaplain in the army, and one of the first United States 
Senators from Nebraska, had been a Methodist preacher 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 155 

in Ohio, but came to Brownvillc as a Congregationalist 
and organized a society and built a church. The society 
soon run down and the church was sold to our people for 
$700. A part of this Brother Burch raised in Brownville, 
but the balance was raised in 1861-62 among some 
Churches in Illinois, where he was acquainted. This 
sending pastors back to the East to solicit help was some- 
times a necessity in those days, before the great Church 
Extension Society became the medium by which the 
benevolent contributions of the East reached the needy 
Churches of the West, and as we shall see, greatly facili- 
tated church-building. 

Brother Burch succeeded, though during his absence 
one of his children died. The child was sick only two or 
three days. Of this sad incident, he says : 

"It was two weeks before tidings could reach me by 
letter, and even then I felt I could not return home until 
money enough was raised to save the Church, and so 
wired my wife to know if the rest were well, and con- 
tinued my work." 

The circuit had four appointments : Brownville, Ne- 
maha City, London, and Fairview. His pastorate is 
blessed with two gracious revivals at Brownville, and one 
at each of the other appointments, besides two successful 
camp-meetings near by. But he says with some degree of 
sadness, referring to the times succeeding the organiza- 
tion of the Nebraska Conference : "We were few in 
numbers, and during the troublous war times our growth 
was comparatively slow." 

In 1863 A. G. White is appointed to Brownville. As 
this strong, cultured man will be met with in responsible 
places as one of the most successful leaders in Nebraska, 

156 History of Nebraska Me;thodism. 

it will be well to take some note of him before passing. 
He rame to Nebraska in 1862, and was principal of the 
Oreapolis Seminary until the Conference of 1863, when 
he was received on trial. He is one of the most aggress- 
ive and thorough men, looking after all the details and 
ready to make any sacrifice for the cause so dear to him. 
He seems not to have known what fear meant, if we are 
to judge from the heroic defense which he made with 
one hundred men under his command, against 1,000 howl- 
ing Sioux savages, as previously noted. We will meet 
him again in most trying situations, but always the daunt- 
less A. G. White. 

His pastorate in Brownville occurred in the darkest 
portion of this dark period of the war time, yet he was 
able to report a substantial increase, both of members and 

In 1864 Brownville is supplied by Isaac Chivington. 
The next year Brownville becomes a station and is served 
by David Hart. The fact that it has become a station is 
proof that the work in Brownville itself has been well 
looked after by these successive pastors, and that sub- 
stantial progress has been made. • 

Tecumseh Circuit starts out with eighteen members 
and forty-six probationers, and in 1865 reports thirty-nine 
members and fifty probationers. The Minutes record that 
W. H. Kendall was pastor in 1861, that it was left to be 
supplied in 1862, with no information as to who was se- 
cured. J. T. Cannon was appointed in 1863 and it was 
again left to be supplied in 1864 by F. B. Pitzer, who is re- 
ceived on trial in the Conference and returned in 1865. 
He is able to report large gain in membership. He is a 
plain, simple-hearted preacher of the Gospel, whom Gotl 

History of Nebraska ^Methodism. 157 

honored with gracious revivals, and who often succeeded 
in building up the Church where others failed. He lo- 
cated at the Conference of 1868. In 1867 Tccumseh re- 
ceived as pastor L. F. Britt. of whom Andrew Cook has 
this to say : 

"L. F. Britt is a Tennesseean by birth, enlisted in 
the Union army when of age and went through the war 
without visible injury; he came to Tecumseh in 1867, 
under Presiding Elder C. W. Giddings. Over a quarter 
of a century ago this young ^Methodist Episcopal preacher 
rode over this country, holding meetings among the 
sparsely settled neighborhoods, preaching in rude school- 
houses, dugouts, and private dwellings, to a poor but 
anxious people. He rode a white horse, which, I have 
thought at times, was proud of his master, and of his call- 
ing. He was rather an aristocratic horse, carrying his 
head high in the air. and with much dignity. There were 
several causes for this ; the horse heard his master's ser- 
mons before the congregations did, even, when the ser- 
mon w'as in embryo, he heard it, also the hymns were 
sung long before they reached the meeting-house. It 
was Brother Britt's custom to preach three times on Sab- 
bath and many times through the week. His circuit seemed 
to have neither metes or bounds, and the young man was 
in constant demand oyer a large area of country. It is 
well that he was put up as he was, for what was crushing 
troubles to many of us, was just food for amusement to 
him ; he not onlv carried his own troubles, but the troubles 
of others. It was only a young, vigorous mind and body 
that could stand the constant drain upon his cheery, happy 
nature. To how man}- weak and discouraged ones has 
he been their talisman, more especially in the early days 


158 History or" Nebraska Methodism. 

of our Church history ; he had wept with those who weep 
and rejoiced with those who rejoice. Dr. Britt has filled 
some of the best appointments in the State and was never 
known as a "yearling," or one year man. He filled his 
appointments and staid his full time. He is now filling 
his third term as presiding elder. The Doctor's forte is 
his native ability. God endowed him with a good, prac- 
tical mind ; his perception is good, his executive ability 
also. He has a good knowledge of men and things, and 
his long years in the ministry has given him wisdom and 
experience which is of great value to him as a presiding 
elder. He owes nothing to books or college. It were 
better that he did, for these advantages would certainly 
add much to his general usefulness." 

Of the extent, results, and present outcome of his work 
on that circuit he further says: "New church buildings 
have been erected at Talmage, Brock, Elk Creek, Mt. 
Zion, Sterling, Douglas, Burr, Mt. Hope, Cook, Spring 
Creek, Vesta, Smartville, Maple Grove, Crab Orchard, 
Lewiston, Tecumseh, Plum Grove, Adams, and Glendale. 
These churches have all been on the territory included in 
his early circuit. Here he sowed the seed of the king- 
dom, and laid the foundations for others to build upon." 

He was elected a delegate to the General Conference 
in 1864. Dr. Britt received his honorary degree of D. D. 
from York College. After over twenty-five years of serv- 
ice he asked for a certificate of location at the Conference 
in 1895, and took up his residence in Omaha, where he 

In 1866 a circuit called Helena appears in the Minutes 
for the first time. This has special interest to the writer 
as being his first charge to which he went in fear and 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 159 

trembling, and a year on which convinced him that he 
needed a far better preparation than he had, for whicli 
reason, at the Conference of 1867, he asked to be dis- 
continued to attend schooL I may be pardoned, however, 
if in passing", in the interest of historical completeness, 
some note be made of the year's experiences. Two of the 
five appointments, Syracuse and Palmyra, were in Otoe 
County, and three, Rockford, Helena, and the Illinois set- 
tlement, were in Johnson and Nemeha Counties. 

We lived in an old cottonwood shanty that had been 
a ranch, and besides this house with but one finished 
room, was an old hay-covered stable, which had been left, 
with a vast armv of rats, and thev were verv hungrv. 
Happily the house stood near to that royal family, 
Jacob SoUenberger's. Brother Sollenberger had rented 
that claim that year, in order that the preacher might 
have a home. In addition to that and many neighborly 
and Christian acts of kindness, he paid over eighty dol- 
lars on the salary that year, and said he never paid his 
portion of the salary more easily. Yet he was a poor 
man and he, with other Nebraska farmers, had the first 
touch of grasshoppers that year. However, they came so 
late that they only partially destroyed the corn crops. 

The following incident was of serious import. We 
started one evening about sundown from a friend's, where 
we had been visiting, to visit a family living in a dug- 
out about two miles distant. There was six inches of 
snow, and the country rough, and our sleigh broke down, 
one runner bending inward and letting the sled tip at an 
angle of thirty-five degrees. It held top-ether. however, 
so my wife could ride and hold our wraps on, while I 
walked and led the horse. By the time we got to the 

i6o History of Nebraska Methodism. 

stream on which the dug-out was located, it was darl<, 
and we missed the crossing. After an hour or two of 
vain search for a place to cross. I became so tired that I 
must rest. Unhitching our horse, we tied him to a tree 
and went down into the bed of the creek out of the wind 
to rest. After a little breathing spell we went back to get 
the horse and resume our journey, but he was gone. It 
was now nine o'clock at night, and already we began to 
fear we would have to stay out all night, which, with the 
thermometer at six below zero, was an unpleasant and 
even perilous prospect. I had little concern for myself, 
but feared that my wife, whose health was frail, would 
not be able to take exercise enough to keep from freezing. 
But committing ourselves to the care of the Heavenly 
Father, we took our shawl and buffalo robe, and started 
out to find some house, if we could, or to make a brave 
struggle for life through the long, bitter cold night, if 
we must. We failed to find any house, and remained out 
all night, walking till tired out, and then, wrapping our- 
selves up as well as we could, would rest till we began 
to get cold, then up and on again. It was New Year's 
eve, and the moon was bright enough to see my watch and 
note the time. By the side of an old oak we watched the 
old year out and the new year in, and again committing 
ourselves to the Lord, we determined, if possible, to keep 
alive till morning. About four in the morning it became 
very dark, and my wife was so exhausted she felt she must 
rest, and even sleep. But we both knew this would be 
fatal and resisted the almost irresistible impulse to give 
up. Just at that darkest moment we were within a few 
rods of the dug-out we were looking for, but unconscious- 
of the fact that deliverance was so near. After resting a 

History of Nebraska Methodism. i6i 

while, we nerved ourselves for a final effort, being en- 
couraged thereto by the first faint streaks of the dawn. 
Seeing a dark object across the creek, we went over and 
found it to be a haystack with some cattle near by. Find- 
ing a path through the snow, we pursued it a little way 
and soon found ourselves standing in front of the long- 
sought dug-out. The people were up and had a fire, and 
promptly answered our rap, and were surprised to re- 
ceive a New Year's call from their pastor and wife so 
early in the morning. Explanations followed, a warm 
breakfast was served, and we were, we trust, duly thank- 
ful to God that we had come through that bitter cold night 
without freezing any part of our person. This personal 
reference may be pardoned as furnishing an illustra- 
tion of the perils to which the itinerant was exposed. 

Saltillo drops out of the list in 1861, and does not ap- 
pear again till 1864, and is then left to be supplied, but 
as there is no report of salary, there was probably no one 
secured. In 1865, H. H. Skaggs, who had the year before 
been received on trial, is appointed to this charge. He. 
finds ten members and reports nineteen, with thirt3'-six 
probationers, which indicates some gracious revivals. 
Though small, this charge has special interest as being 
partly on the ground now occupied by Lincoln. 

Philo Gorton is placed in charge of the still strong cir- 
cuit of Rock Bluffs, as it is called this year. He finds 
138 members and thirty probationers, and leaves 107 mem- 
bers and sixty-five probationers, which seems to indicate 
that while the members decrease by removals, the proba- 
tioners have increased by revivals, leaving the strength 
of the charge unimpaired. Philo Gorton asks for a loca- 
tion at the end of this year and disappears from our ranks. 

i62 History of Nebraska Methodism. . 

He has given four years to the work in Nebraska, was 
the first to preach and organize societies in a number of 
places, and did faithful service. 

Plattsmouth and Oreapolis Circuit is favored with 
the appointment of Jerome Spillman in i86i, and doubt- 
less had he remained he would have stirred things there 
by the blessing of the Lord, as he had done elsewhere dur- 
ing his successful ministry. But early in the year he 
accepted what seemed to be the call of duty in another 
direction, and entered the service of his country as chap- 
lain of the Curtis Iowa Cavalry, as mentioned elsewhere. 
In 1862 this charge is left to be supplied, and H. R. 
Tricket is employed by the presiding elder, with the re- 
sult of a speedy rupture on account of the expression of 
disloyal sentiments, as recorded on another page. The 
remainder of the year is filled out by J. G. Miller, who 
had come to Nebraska from the old Genesee Conference, 
New York. He had become interested in the Oreapolis 
Seminary, and put in his first few years in Nebraska in a 
vain effort to save that institution, being appointed agent 
in 1862, and in 1863 both principal and agent. 

J. G. Miller was one of our most forceful personalities, 
a good preacher, with good executive ability, and was a 
shrewd business manager. He might have been one of 
our most useful men, had he not got involved in various 
business enterprises and landed investments which re- 
quired so much of his attention that as a rule his minis- 
terial function became merely a co-ordinate branch of his 
life's activity, and after a few years as pastor at Platts- 
mouth and Oreapolis, and as presiding elder of Nebraska 
City District, to which he was appointed in 1865, he took 
a supernumerary relation in 1868. He always took great 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 163 

interest in the local Church where he lived, was a liberal 
supporter, and remained to the last an influential mem- 
ber of the Conference. His brethren honored him with 
an election to the General Conference in 1864. Perhaps 
his greatest usefulness was in his aggressive advocacy of 
temperance and his relentless warfare on the '"rummies," 
as he called the saloon-keepers and their supporters. He 
was several times the temperance candidate for governor, 
and other offices, and the vigor of his campaign speeches 
drew large audiences. He spent the later years of his 
life in California, where he passed to his reward. 

In 1864 David Hart comes to Plattsmouth. The mem- 
bership has dropped from 102, including probationers, in 
1861, to forty, but David Hart's labors are blessed to 
such an extent that he is able to report seventy-eight mem- 
bers and twenty-three probationers. 

The next year, 1865, Plattsmouth received as its pas- 
tor, W. A. Amsbary, and under his energetic ministry is 
destined to make a large advance. Here, as elsewhere, 
his ministry was to be attended by great revivals, both at 
Plattsmouth and the country appointment. Eight Mile 
Grove, and the membership increased the first year to one 
hundred and forty-four, with seventy-four probationers. 

Peru Circuit had already become one of the strongest 
circuits when, in 1861, Jesse L. Fort was appointed pas- 
tor. He remains two years, and the charge about holds its 
own. He is followed by R. C. Johnson, who remains one 
year and reports a substantial increase in membership. He 
is followed in 1864 by that old veteran, Hiram Burch, 
who is able, at the next Conference, to report still fur- 
ther gains in membership. He is returned the second 
year, and inaugurates a movement looking toward the es- 

164 History of Nebraska Methodism, 

tablishment of a Methodist College at that point. The 
details of this movement are treated under another head, 
and it need only be said that owing to the arduous work 
involved in the enterprise during his third year (the 
time limit having been extended), his health became so 
impaired that he was compelled to ask to be relieved of 
his pastoral duties, and at the Conference of 1867 he 
was under the necessity of askmg and receiving a super- 
annuated relation. After this he was able occasionally 
to resume the effective relation and serve the Church in 
Nebraska. Of the above named pastors, Jesse L. Fort 
tarried with us until 1902. 

The following account of his life, written soon after 
his death, will perhaps do partial justice to the worth of 
this saint and faithful ambassador of Christ : 

"Jesse Lofton Fort, the youngest son of Frederick and 
Lucy Fort, was born in Warren County, Kentucky, May 
I, 1816. He was converted at the age of fourteen years, 
and his parents being Baptists, he united with that 
Church. At the age of seventeen, while learning the tan- 
ner's trade, he made his home with a stanch Methodist, 
and becoming better acquainted with the doctrines and 
spirit of the Methodist Episcopal Church, he transferred 
his membership to this Church. About 1836 he emi- 
grated to Illinois, and settled near Monmouth. Here he 
was made a class-leader. In 1837 he was licensed to ex- 
hort. In 1847 l^e was licensed as a local preacher. This 
license was renewed for four successive years by the fa- 
mous Peter Cartwright, who, with Richard Haney and 
others of like spirit, gave Jesse L. Fort his first lessons in 
the Gospel ministry. In 1851 he was received into the 
Missouri Conference. Missouri and Kansas were at this 

History of Nebraska Methodism, 165 

time the storm center of that fierce conflict between free- 
dom and slavery, which was to determine whether Kansas 
was to be a free or slave State, and which culminated a 
few years later in the g'reat Civil War in which slavery 
was overthrown. In the midst of this storm of hate and 
bitter persecution, Jesse L. Fort stood firm, though at 
times he and his brother preachers did so at the peril of 
their lives. In 1859 he came to Nebraska and was sent 
to Falls City. Being unable to obtain a house for his 
family, he went to Nebraska City, and supplied that 
charge part of the year. In i860 he was sent to Platts- 
mouth. It was his privilege to be one of that historic 
group that constituted the first Nebraska Conference 
which was organized at Nebraska City, April 4, 1861, by 
Bishop ^Morris. At this Conference he was sent to Peru, 
where he remained the full legal term. In 1863 his health 
failed and he was compelled to take a superannuated rela- 
tion. In 1864-66 he served the American Bible Society, 
being superintendent for Nebraska and Colorado. In 
1867 he was honored with the chaplaincy of the Nebraska 
Senate. In 1869 he again served as agent of the Amer- 
ican Bible Society, this time in Pottawattamie County, 
Iowa. In 1 87 1 he was made effective and stationed at 
Palmyra, and 1872, on the Upper Nemaha. In 1873 he 
was made a supernumerary on account of failing health 
and went to ^Missouri, where he served different charges 
as a supply until 1885. On his return to Nebraska, he 
took a superannuated relation, which he retained up to 
the time of his death. He was thrice married. On Au- 
gust 20, 1840, to Miss Martha McChesney ; on May 19, 
1859, to Miss Mary A. Gates ; and to Miss Mary H. Free- 
man, May 15, 1872, who has walked by his side for thirty 

i66 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

years, caring for him through his long illness, and who 
survives him. Though, as this brief and imperfect 
sketch discloses, he has been for most of his life handi- 
capped by poor health, he has been permitted to give 
nearly three-quarters of a century to the Christian life, 
and over half a century to the Christian ministry. Brother 
Fort's last illness was long, and at tinies very painful, but 
patiently borne. He passed to his eternal reward at three 
o'clock, Thursday morning, May 2,2, 1902, aged eighty- 
six years and twenty-two days." 


SECOND PERIOD. (1861-1870.) 

The period covered by this history coincides with the 
beginning of that modern movement marked by the tend- 
ency of people toward the great centers, building up 
these relatively much more rapidly than the rural dis- 
tricts. Historic proportion will require us to give special 
attention to the development of the Church in these cen- 
ters, by reason of the relative measure of influence these 
must exert on the general situation and their consequent 
greater relative importance. Yet, while Methodism, as 
is her wont, will adjust her administration so as to meet 
the new conditions and give special attention to these cen- 
ters, she will not do so at the expense of the smaller vil- 
lages and rural districts ; a feature of the evangelistic 
work to which she has always given due care and which 
the peculiarities of her system, and the spirit of her min- 
istry, have fitted her to do, and in which she has been 
pre-eminently successful. The justice of this claim will 
be amply shown in the pages of this history. 

It may be said in a general way that no department 
of our Church work in these first periods was more care- 
fully looked after and utilized than the Sunday-school. 
We have seen John Hamlin at the head of one in Ne- 
braska City, and good Sister McCoy effecting an organi- 
zation of a Sunday-school among the first things in 
Omaha. We have seen that one of the first things Jacob 
Adriance thought of was to organize Sunday-schools, 


i68 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

supplying libraries. In many places the first movement 
of a public religious character was to organize a Sunday- 
school. This sometimes took the form of a Union Sun- 
day-school before there were enough of any one denomi- 
nation to carry it on. Though these Union schools some- 
times persisted in holding the ground long after the Meth- 
odists became strong enough to have one of their own 
and made us some trouble when the effort to do so was 
finally made, our preachers rightly held that, the Sunday- 
school being an integral part of the Church, as soon as 
possible it was better for each Church to have one of its 
own, and would proceed to organize a Methodist Sunday- 

It should be explained in passing, that I have felt jus- 
tified in assuming that the Sunday-school department has 
been well cared for, and to economize space I have omitted 
the Sunday-school statistics, except in a few exceptional 
cases. The reason for this is that I have found that as a 
rule, the number of officers, teachers, and scholars usually 
about equal the number of Church members. Thus the 
total membership in the Church, as given by the last 
Year-book, was 3,029,500, and the officers, teachers, and 
scholars in the Sunday-schools were 3,123,297. This rule 
holds in Nebraska, with occasional exceptions both ways, 
some of which will be noted as we pass. 

The two centers that still claim our attention and 
which it will be our duty to trace through this second 
period, are Nebraska City and Omaha. 

Nebraska City received as its pastor in 1861, T. B. 
Lemon. It is very strange, but there is no report from 
this important charge in 1861. L. D. Price had been ap- 
pointed in i860, but had evidently not gone to his charge, 

History of Nebraska ^Methodism. 169 

and thoug'h one of the most important charges, it seems 
at the close of the Conference year not to have had a pas- 
tor and no report is made. But the year before the mem- 
bership had been reported ninety, inckiding probationers. 
Assuming that the number in 1861 was the same, this is 
the number that greeted T. B. Lemon when he entered 
upon this unportant pastorate. He found the member- 
ship discouraged. The Church was in debt and was about 
lo be sold. One of the members told him he did not see 
how he could live there with four children. But the Lord 
most wonderfully blessed his labors with a great revival, 
and he came to Conference in 1862 rejoicing over a great 
increase in membership, being able to report 235, a net 
increase of 137. The Church debt was also paid. 

Dr. Lemon, during this first year, had won the affec- 
tions of the Church and of the community, and was very 
popular with all classes and was returned for the second 

At the end of this year he reported 225 full members 
and sixty-four probationers, another gain of over fifty, 
showing the permanency of the work the year before, and 
the success of the second year. 

The legal limit still being two years. Dr. Lemon, 
though he had won the hearts of all, must needs go to 
another field, and is sent to Omaha, while Wm. M. Smith 
is stationed at Nebraska City. He remains two years, 
and at the end of this term reports 191 members and two 
probationers. This is a loss of about sixty, as compared 
with Dr. Lemon's last report, though it still leaves Ne- 
braska City by far the strongest charge in the Conference. 

This strong man seems to have been unable to either 
hold what he found, or build up the Church anywhere, 

lyo History of Nebraska Methodism. 

owing to his want of tact in the expression of his political 
views. However, this loss may be accounted for in part 
by the reaction that often follows times of great revival, 
such as attended Dr. Lemon's pastorate, or by the general 
adverse conditions that prevailed during the Civil War. 
As noted elsewhere, the entire Conference did little more 
than hold its own during the first three or four years of 
this period. 

At the Conference of 1861, Bishop Morris appointed 
H. T. Davis, who, we have seen, had just closed a very 
successful pastorate at Omaha, presiding elder of the 
Nebraska City District. Though thrust into this high 
office at the early age of twenty-seven, his administration 
of the district was very acceptable and we may be sure 
that the residence of himself and wife contributed in no 
small measure to the success of the work in Nebraska 

At the Conference of 1865, his time being out on the 
district, he is appointed pastor at Nebraska City, again 
following Wm. M. Smith, as he had done in Omaha in 
1859. The time limit having been extended to three 
years, H. T. Davis, as was always the case with him, 
staid the full time. 

The first time the writer ever heard Dr. Davis preach 
was during this pastorate. I was on my way to my first 
charge, Helena, in 1866. Two appointments on this cir- 
cuit lay directly west, the nearest, Syracuse, near where 
we lived, being sixteen miles from Nebraska City. I 
reached Nebraska City late in the day and remained over 
night. Brother Davis was engaged in revival meetings 
that had been continuing for several weeks. I expected 
to hear a powerful revival sermon, but heard only a short 

History of Nebraska ^Methodism. 171 

talk of not to exceed twenty minutes, when the invita- 
tion for penitents was given. Will any one respond to 
so tame an affair as that? I said to myself. But to my 
astonishment quite a number responded. Of course many 
were already under conviction and had been at the altar 
before. But the incident convinced me that much of the 
power of H. T. Davis's preaching was the result of the 
man back of the sermon. 

Brother Davis's pastorate at Nebraska City was a suc- 
cess throughout and at its close he was set to the task, 
of laying, at the new capital at Lincoln, the foundations 
of another great center, which was in after years to be- 
come the strongest in the State. 

Nebraska City, in 1868, is left to be supplied, and 
George S. Alexander appears for the first time in Ne- 
braska Methodism, being transferred from the Providence 
Conference, and filling out the year, is returned in 1869 
and again in 1870 to the pastorate at Nebraska City. 

With the exception of five years spent in Illinois, dur- 
ing which he filled important places, he was connected 
with the work in Nebraska twenty-six years, when death 
closed his career in 1894. His brethren place on record 
the following as a tender memorial of his life and work : 

"George Sherman Alexander was born in Cumber- 
land County. Rhode Island, July 10. 1832. He was kept 
in school until he was fourteen years of age. During 
this time he laid the foundation of his future life w'ork. 
Leaving school he worked in a cotton mill, then in a 
woollen mill, where he became a weaver. While work- 
ing in the mill he was also broadening his education by 
careful study. At the age of twenty-one he abandoned 
his loom and followed teaching for a short period. In 

172 History of Nebraska jMethodism. 

1854, under deep conviction that he was called to preach 
the blessed Gospel, he entered the ]\Iethodist ministry, 
preaching- his first sermon April 30, 1854. For several 
years he served prominent charges in Massachusetts and 
Connecticut. March 11, 1856, he was united in marriage 
to Miss Abby G. Smith, at Eastham, Mass. In October, 
1867, he moved to Iowa, and from thence, in April, 1868, 
he was transferred to the Nebraska Conference and served 
Nebraska City, Peru, and Lincoln. He was then ap- 
pointed chaplain of the State penitentiary. During this 
time his wife was called to the Father's house above, leav- 
ing six children. These were separated until September 
20, 1877, when he was married to Miss Susan M. God- 
ding at Philo, Illinois. For the next five years he served 
Homer and Monticello as pastor, and then, from failing 
health, returned to Syracuse, Nebraska, taking charge of 
the Syracuse Journal and preaching for the Church in this 
place for one year. He could not cease preaching, and 
while editing his paper he became pastor of the Church at 
Turlington, which he served until a few months before 
his death. He patiently waited for the summons to call 
him from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant, 
tmtil ]\Iay 2, 1894, when he was called from pain and suf- 
fering to his glorious and eternal rest." 

The coming of George S. Alexander brought into our 
Western work an infusion of New England blood. In 
the best sense of the word he may be said to have been a 
live Yankee translated "into the vim and push of the great 
West. He seemed at home from the first. His physique 
was slight, his weight rarely exceeding one hundred 
pounds, and sometimes it was not as much. The story is 
told that meeting a friend in a grocery store his friend 

History of Nebraska Methodism, 173 

proposed to weigh him over against a sack of flour, and 
if the saclc weighed more than his pastor his pastor was 
to have it. His pastor got it. 

But though his body was always sHght and for many 
years he was the victim of a cancer, that body was the 
dwelHng place of a restless, determined spirit, always tax- 
ing the body with plans and schemes of life beyond its 
frail powers. 

It will be seen that Nebraska City during this entire 
period has had a succession of able men for pastors, and 
closes the period with 237 members and sixty-three pro- 
bationers, about the same as reported at the close of Dr. 
Lemon's two years of phenomenal success. There have 
been some fluctuations, but it is greatly to her credit and 
to the credit of these able, faithful men, that through this 
most difficult period there has been no permanent loss, 
and she retains -her place as numerically and perhaps 
otherwise the strongest charge in the Conference. 

If we now turn to Omaha we find that it starts out in 
this period with only fifty members and thirty-one pro- 
bationers. It is left to be suppUed and at the end of three 
months David Hart, who has been sent to Calhoun, is 
transferred to Omaha. He remains the second year and 
reports fifty-five members and sixteen probationers, which 
indicates that he had some revival, yet he is not able to 
increase the membership. There were at that time many 
removals and the city itself was losing population. Cer- 
tainly the situation was discouraging in the extreme. 
These were the times that try men's souls, and to zealous, 
ambitious preachers like David Hart, supply the severest 
test of loyalty. It is much easier to work in a place where 
everything is prospering and things move forward, than 


174 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

in a place that is at a standstill, with people discouraged 
and distracted and facing an uncertain future. Brother 
Hart is to be honored for holding the forces well in hand 
and preventing a complete collapse, so that when the tide 
turned, as it soon did, he could turn over to his successor 
a well organized Church, with such members as J. W. 
Tousley, Col. Richie, Samuel Burns, Brother Isaacs, and 
Mrs. McCoy and others of like zeal and capacity. And 
Omaha Methodism had the right man in the person of 
T. B. Lemon to make the most of the opportunity when 
the tide turned. Fresh from his wonderful success in 
Nebraska City, Dr. Lemon entered upon his work after 
the Conference of 1863, flushed with victory and ready 
to lead the Church forward to larger things. 

T. B. Lemon became popular with all classes, not by 
seeking it for its own sake, but by the inherent qualities 
of his mind and spirit. There were the strength of intel- 
lect, and the culture and refinement of the well-bred gen- 
tleman, which seemed perfectly natural to him and 
strongly attracted the most influential men, like A. J. Pop- 
pleton, G. L. Miller, Samuel Burns, and others of like 
standing. So he was in demand for special services on 
great occasions. When in December, 1863. Omaha cele- 
brated the fixing of that point as the terminus of the 
Pacific Railroad, and the ceremony of breaking ground 
for this great enterprise which was to be of national and 
even international importance occurred, it was T. B. 
Lemon who was called on to open the exercises with 
prayer. When the legislature met it was T. B. Lemon 
who should be chaplain of one of the houses. In speak- 
ing of Dr. Lemon's pastorate at that time, Haynes says y'" 

"The national conflict was rife, but Mr. Lemon re- 

* History of Omaha Methodism. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 175 

fused to commit himself to either side, and with eaeer 
desire for success in his charge preached, prayed, and 
sang as if undisturbed by the rigor of fratricidal strife. 
]\Ir. Lemon was occasionally criticised for his not unre- 
servedly avowing Union sentiments. A story is told that 
during a session of the legislature at Omaha, after he was 
elected chaplain, in a prayer one morning he uttered a 
petition in behalf of the Chief Executive of the nation. 
Some members of the Assembly found fault by saying he 
did not pray for the country. A lawyer of prominence 
and a friend of the chaplain, told some of them that they 
v/ere too illiterate to comprehend the meaning of a gifted 
man's language." 

He made friends outside of the Church who volun- 
tarily assisted in the maintenance of the pastor and his 
projects. The two years of his sojourn in Omaha were 
almost uninterruptedly pleasant to him and his family, 
and to the day of his death he had many admirers in the 
city. Coming to the metropolis at that time, and pursu- 
ing the lines of conduct thought by himself the best, he 
well-nigh broke down the partition that separated between 
the ardent friends of the Government and those who pre- 
ferred the success of the Confederacy. 

At his coming he found nearly a hundred communi- 
cants,* and received seven hundred dollars for his first 
year's allowance. An increase in the number of the mem- 
bership not worth mentioning is noted at the close of the 
year, but his acceptability is signified by his having re- 
ceived on salary, as reported in the Minutes of the Con- 
ference, $1,000, and $500 as a donation. 

But while thus popular with the rich and influential, 

'•'This is au error, the number being fifty-seven. 

176 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

he was equally popular with poorer classes. His warm, 
sympathetic nature made him a real friend to everybody, 
and everybody felt that the friendship was genuine. The 
presence of T. B. Lemon in Omaha, unquestionably gave 
Omaha Methodism a standing in the community it had 
not had before. 

But amid all this popularity. Dr. Lemon held himself 
steadily to his high ideals of a Gospel minister. He did 
not depend on what accessions might drift into the Church 
as the result of the new prosperity and growth of the 
city, but preached with power the old-fashioned gospel, 
and held revival services which were very successful and 
at the end of two years, when he took the district, the 
membership had increased to one hundred, including 
twenty probationers, and the Church was strengthened in 
every way. 

It can not but be regretted that at this critical juncture 
a man like William M. Smith should have been appointed 
to follow T. B. Lemon, in April, 1865. Flushed with 
the victories being won by Grant, and a few days later 
maddened by indignation at the assassination of the be- 
loved Lincoln, the people were more intolerant of any 
want of sympathy with the Union cause than ever, yet 
this man stubbornly and offensively held on his way, as 
will be seen by the following related by Haynes : 

"He reaches the city in time to preach on the Sabbath 
following the assassination of President Lincoln. The 
church was draped, and loyal men and women were in 
mourning as if one of their own household had been taken 
away. They were in expectation that a memorial service 
would be held. Mr. Smith entered the pulpit at the ap- 
pointed hour, and to many present was not a stranger. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 177 

He chose as a text, i Cor. xi, 2 : 'For I determined not to 
know anything among- you, save Jesus Christ, and Him 
crucified,' and proceeded to preach. In the discourse he 
made no alhision either to the preparation of the room 
for the occasion nor to the taking off of the now dead 
chieftain, totally ignoring the sad and disappointed people 
who had met to honor his name and to do a most willing 
part in perpetuating a remembrance of his noble manhood 
and distinguished patriotism. 

Mr. Smith was not willing to concede that he had 
made a mistake in paying no respect to the feelings or 
preferences of a large share of the people present ; but the 
loyal and patriotic at once decided not to sustain a man, 
though appointed as a pastor, who would so brazenly 
offer an affront ! A few weeks later the Quarterly Con- 
ference met, and after proceeding with the business 
till the question was reached, 'What has been 
raised for the support of the ministry this quarter?' An- 
swer: 'Nothing!' The presiding elder, who was present 
and in the chair, was informed that if he would remove 
the offending pastor, he would receive pay for the time he 
had served ; otherwise he would get no salary. He was 
removed, and for a time the charge was left pastorless. 
Mr. Smith's name appears not again in the Minutes as 
pastor, but as having superannuated. He removed to 
Colorado, and it is intimated became connected with the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, South ; and now owns and 
lives upon a ranch a few miles south of Pueblo, in that 

There appears now the right man for the place in the 
person of W. B. Slaughter, who fills out Wm. Smith's 
year, and completes the full term of the pastorate in 

lyS History o'^ Nebraska Methodism. 

Omaha. He finds ninety-three members and seventy-five 
probationers, the latter being the fruit of T. B. Lemon's 
revivals. He finds Omaha entering upon an era of pros- 
perity, with Methodism well at the front among the 
Churches of the city, thanks largely to the influence of T. 
B. Lemon. Haynes says : "The Methodist Church was 
now the place of entertainment on the Sabbath, and as a 
consequence the congregation was much the largest in 
the city." (Of course by "entertainment" he means that 
the preaching was the most attractive.) 

W. B. Slaughter was one of the most scholarly men 
we have had in Nebraska, He was born in Peim Yan, 
New York, July 15, 1823, and received his education in 
part at the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary. For a while he 
engaged in teaching, being principal of an academy at 
Coudersport, Pennsylvania, and later of the Genesee 
Model School, in Lima, New York. He then joined the 
Genesee Conference, serving several pastorates, among 
them Old Niagara Street Church, Buffalo. 

Coming West he served Wabash Avenue, Chicago, for 
the full term, then Joliet. Of this cultured, consecrated 
man, Haynes gives some facts which show the spirit of 
the man, and of his devoted wife as well : 

"Early during the late rebellion he raised a company 
of volunteers for the Thirty-ninth Illinois Infantry, ex- 
pecting to be appointed chaplain of the regiment. But 
the men whom he recruited insisted upon his being their 
captain, to whose preference he yielded. However, he 
actually served as chaplain, organizing class and prayer 
meetings, and seeking the conversions of soldiers. Serv- 
ing twenty-one months, toiling with heroic zeal, he was 
disabled and returned to his family. Recovering as nearly 

i8o History of Nebraska Methodism. 

as to permit him to perform pastoral work, he was ap- 
pointed to Rockford, Illinois. In the midst of his labors 
at Rockford, in the spring of 1864, Bishop Ames sought 
him as the man he wanted for Denver District, Colorado. 
The matter was urged, and he finally consented. The 
people wdiom he served remonstrated, and telegraphed the 
bishop asking that he might not be removed. But the 
reply was 'He must go.' " He left at once and hurriedly, 
only delaying long enough to provide a private convey- 
ance that his family might follow. He reached the seat 
of the Colorado Conference just in time to hear the ap- 
pointments read at the close of the session, and was 
startled to hear his own name announced for Colorado 
District, instead of Denver. 

The last-named district, at that date, included all of 
the southern part of the territory and was made up of a 
few preaching places a great distance apart, the largest 
of which was Colorado City, once the capital, having 
less than ten members. The sacrifice he must make was 
unexpected, but there was no loyal way out of it. Hero- 
ically he accepted the work and sent for his wife and two 
sons, leaving his daughter that she might attend school. 
There was no railway reaching further west than Mar- 
shalltown, Iowa. Mrs. Slaughter sent her eldest, a boy 
of seventeen, with the conveyance for crossing the plains 
in advance, and, taking the rail, overtook him at the west- 
ern terminus. They together hence began the long and 
hazardous journey, expecting to meet bands of Indians 
after crossing the Missouri River. 

Arriving at Omaha they were kindly received by Rey. 
T. B. Lemon, pastor, and his family, who persuaded them 
to rest a few days. Mrs. S. says: "I started from 

History of Nebraska Methodism. i8i 

Omaha with my two boys, the older serving- as driver, 
and the other two years old, feeling there was safety only 
in the protection of the divine arm." Often their vehicle 
was surrounded b}' the red men, who, at that time, were 
committing- frequent depredations, but they were not mo- 
lested. Four weeks of wearisome travel had passed, and 
an axle of their carriage broke when several miles from 
any habitation, and they were helplessly alone. Fortu- 
nately a covered wagon came in sight. They were t-ikcn 
on beard and their conveyance was drawn behind ; and 
in this manner were driven into Denver, where they were 
met by Mr. Slaughter. Tarrying long enough to get the 
carriage repaired, the trip toward Pike's Peak v»?as re- 
sumed, Colorado City being their destination. Their ar- 
rival v/as in the evening, onl}' to find that there wa^- bui 
one place where they could get lodging for the night ; 
and but one frame house in the village ; the others were 
of logs. They could make no arrangement for house- 
keeping, and could find no place where they could all 
occupy the same house — they had to be separated for 
sleeping. As their money was nearly gone, Mrs. S. 
began teaching, while her husband made a round on the 
district, taking about a month. 

Mr. Slaughter attempted to make better provision for 
his family's comfort. In his travels he found some min- 
eral springs (now Manitou), and as he had never used 
his right to government land, he concluded to claim them 
as a homestead. Upon this claim he and his son put up a 
log house, and while yet unfinished the family occupied 
it. Retiring the first night while the stars could be seen 
through the undaubed apertures and the air balmv and 
quiet, an unlooked for change in the temperature occurred 

i82 History oi^ Nebraska Methodism. 

before morning'. The wind blew cold and biting and 
snow began flying; and daylight found Mr. S. with a 
severe cold that soon developed in pneumonia. He 
summoned a doctor who invited him to his cabin, one 
room of which he occupied for two months. By the 
watchful care of the physician he was brought through 
the crisis. But the doctor advised that he would con- 
valesce more surely in the altitude of Denver. 

Mrs. S. says : "Our finances were meager, and liv- 
ing very costly. When we broke our last dollar it indeed 
looked very dark ahead. But I felt surely the Lord will 
provide. And he did ; for the next mail brought a check 
for fifty dollars from Governor Evans, who had heard of 
Mr. Slaughter's illness. This enabled us to outfit for 

Though relating to other fields, these extracts are jus- 
tified because they reveal so vividly the spirjt of .self- 
sacrifice that characterized this cultured man and wife 
through their entire career in Nebraska. While, as we 
see, his abilities were soon recognized and he was soon 
summoned to responsible places in educational and pas- 
toral lines, both in the East and West, lie also heard the 
call of duty when summoned to that hard far-away field 
in Colorado. There are few men who have n'ade as 
great sacrifices in the ordinary way as VV. B. vSlaiighter. 
But there was a special feature in his case which made 
the trial doubly hard. He was well qualified and strongly 
inclined to serve the cause of Christ along literary lines, 
as shown by his book referred to by Haynes, "Modern 
Genesis," pronounced by competent judges one of the 
strongest arguments against the "Nebular H3pothesis" 
ever written. To go West meant to give up the cherished 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 183 

and cono-enial plans of his life work, as it then seemed, 
and doubtless did rob the Church of much excellent work 
on that line. After coming to Nebraska, though as a lule 
serving the best charges, it was not always so. He cheer- 
fully took some hard circuits. The writer well remem- 
bers that in 1871, when Dr. Slaughter was in charge of 
Bellevue Circuit, actually receiving not to exceed $700, 
I visited him at his home in West Omaha. Dr. Slaughter 
took me with him in his old buggy, down through the 
woods near where Hanscom Park Church now stands, to 
yisit his son Bradner, who was superintendent of a soap 
factory, and laughingly mentioned the fact that while he 
was getting the promise of $700 for preaching the Gos- 
pel, his boy was getting $1,300 for making soap. 

This visit was an illustration of one side of Dr. 
Slaughter's character, which was prominent. He had 
become a father to all the boy preachers, and they often 
found their way to his home for counsel in their work, but 
especially in their studies. No one could make a young 
preacher feel more at ease in his presence. He treated 
them as though they were his equals, and inspired in them 
self-respect, self-confidence, and made them feel that if 
they tried they could make something of themselves. 

Eternity alone will reveal how many young preachers 
Dr. Slaughter has helped at some crisis, and put at their 
best, and his service along this line is unique, and its 
value to the work in subsequent years may never be com- 
puted, but will be none the less real. 

It can hardly be said that Slaughter was an orator, or 
a revivalist, but he was pre-eminently a teacher of the 
Gospel. He was a diligent student to the last, and con- 
stantly digging about the foundation to lind the reason 

i84 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

of things, and wonid, in skillful wavs, indoctrinate the 
people in the foundation truths of Christianity. It was 
his chief function to build up into intelligent, strong Chris- 
tian character the raw material furnished by the revivalist. 

This was the strong, cultured pastor that Omaha 
Methodism needed and received at the crisis in 1865, 
when the flock had been left without a shepherd by the 
violent rupture with Wm. M. Smith. 

Though the membership is only one hundred, includ- 
ing twenty probationers, they are in high spirits and face 
a much more hopeful future than had as yet presented it- 
self. The need of a new church was keenly felt, but the 
way to realize it did not present itself during Dr. Slaugh- 
ter's pastorate of three years, though he and his brethren 
among the laity sought it diligently. But along all other 
lines the Church grew and prospered, and at the end of 
three years, when Dr. Slaughter gave way to his suc- 
cessor, he handed over a well-organized, enthusiastic 
Church. As to the exact number of members we have no 
means of knowing, as the Minutes that year unaccounta- 
bly omit the statistics relating to membership, something 
that had not happened before, nor has it since. But the 
number must have been much larger than at the begin- 
ning of his pastorate. The Church had been growing and 
was beginning to feel its own importance. This is inci- 
dentally shown in the fact that they now felt they must 
have a "special transfer" from the East, and Dr. H. C. 
Westwood was secui^ed from Baltimore Conference. He 
was distinguished as being the only Methodist preacher 
who up to that time had received the degree of Doctor 
of Divinity from Presbyterian Princeton College. 

Of the man, his work, and the results of his pastorate. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 185 

Haynes has this to say : "Henry C. Westwood. trans- 
ferred from the Baltimore Conference, was next in the 
succession of pastors. He arrived in May, 1867, more 
than a month after the closing of Mr. Slaughter's term. 
The agitation the year before of the project of more in- 
viting quarters as a place of worship resulted in the quit- 
ting of the old church and making extensive alterations 
in the structure that it might be rented as a source of 
revenue. The congregation had already hired and had 
begun using the German Methodist Church as a place of 
meeting. J\Ir. Westwood's cultivated notions of propriety 
were almost shocked at the coarse looking apartments of 
this cheap building ; and as a concession to his wishes the 
trustees hired the privilege of using the Academy of 
Music as a preaching place onlv once a week — on the 

Mr. Westvv'ood reports having large congregations, 
and that the official board and himself were in complete 
harmon}'. The estimating committee suggested $2,000 
as his salary, and the Quarterly Conference confirmed 
their judgment. A new and comfortable parsonage 
housed him and his family, and the prospect was flatter- 
ing. The thoughts of the official members were much 
engrossed in devising a method by which money might be 
secured to provide a new chapel. Mr. Westwood inter- 
ested himself in giving assistance, to the partial neglect 
of more directly religious work. The congregation was 
not held to the maximum ; no revival occurred, though 
the preacher failed not to be in the pulpit on Sunday. 
But before the winter was ended, and while the new 
chapel's walls were being raised, there were intimations 
of discontent. 

i86 History op" Nebraska Methodism. 

The pastor did not enjoy Western etiquette nor the 
bland manner of some of his parishioners. Much of his 
former life had been spent among better polished people, 
and he hardly would tolerate those who could not appear 
well at their homes or in society ; and he almost refused to 
visit the humble poor of his charge. Nothing better 
might be expected than that fault-finders would use such 
an opportunity to complain of the pastor. There st'cnied 
to be but little room left for mutual good feeling bi^tween 
the servant and the served, and before the ending of the 
first year the chances for the accomplishing of goo.l were 

Mr. Westwood was, in appearance, an accomplished 
gentleman, and an interesting sermonizer. His elTorts in 
the pulpit were not criticised unfavorably ; and if he had 
not persisted in his exhibitions of an haughty spirit, ac- 
cepting the situation in right good fellowship, he might 
have been very certainly a useful man in Omaha. As it 
was, he went to Conference under a cloud, pursued by a 
delegate from his charge instructed to ask for his removal. 
But he was reappointed only to meet such opposition as 
forced his presiding elder, A. G. White, to consent to his 
removal in three months. He was transferred to the 
Conference which he left to come West. His death oc- 
curred at Fredonia, New York, August, 1890. 

Moses F. Shinn, in those days a handy man to use in 
filling a gap, and having reformed, was employed to take 
charge till some one might be secured permanently to 
stand in his stead as pastor. Mr. Shinn was a man of 
much experience in the ministry, and, at times, of great 
value to the Church. He was a cheerful companion, and 
a speaker of no mean qualities, sound in doctrine and a 
thoroughlv orthodox Methodist." 

History of Nebraska ]\Iethodism. 187 

After an interval of six weeks, during which diligent 
efforts had been made by presiding elder, bishop, and the 
leading lay members to find the right man to meet this 
crisis in affairs, he was finally found in the person of 
Gilbert De La IMatyr, D. D., who entered upon the pas- 
torate in 1869. Dr. De La Matyr was doubtless the equal 
in pulpit ability of any of his predecessors or successors. 
With his great abilities as a preacher was a large stock of 
common sense, together with a kindly sympathetic nature 
that gave him social access in helpful ways to all classes. 
He seized the situation with a firm grip, and soon be- 
came its master, and the Church starts out on a new era 
of prosperity. The first year of Dr. De La Matyr's pas- 
torate coincides with the close of the second period, and 
we will resume later the storv of this strong man's work. 

Before passing, however, it is proper to note that dur- 
ing this period Omaha had residing in the city the fol- 
lowing presiding elders: The first two years, Wm. i\L 
Smith, who succeeded better as presiding elder than as 
pastor, being a wise administrator, and not coming in such 
constant contact with the people as to make his political 
views ofifensive. He was succeeded by Isaac Burns, who 
at the end of two years asked to be released that he might 
resume the pastorate, which to him was more congenial. 
It was providential that after three successful, helpful 
years in the pastorate in Omaha, Dr. Lemon was placed 
on the district and remained four years in Omaha as pre- 
siding elder. Doubtless his influence was of great value 
in steadying things during the pastorate of Dr. H. C. 
Westwood. He was followed by that natural born pre- 
siding elder, A. G. White, whose sound judgment was 
much needed in those critical times. 


OMAHA DISTRICT. (1861-1865.) 

If we pass now to the Omaha District, we will find 
the same adverse conditions, with even more discourag- 
ing reports of the progress of the work, during the excit- 
ing war period. 

Beginning with Bellevue, we find this circuit well 
manned by that sterling Methodist preacher, Martin 
Pritchard. He follows Jerome Spillman, whose two 
years' work was on the high pressure order, which, while 
it was of great value in permanent results, as we have 
seen, is likely to be followed by some reaction and loss, 
and Martin Pritchard did splendid service by keeping the 
high figure of ninety-six with nineteen probationers, 
though this shows a loss, as compared with the number 
Spillman left. 

He is followed by that- faithful and efficient pastor, 
David Hart, but he, too, is compelled to report a small 
loss, the number dropping down to eighty-two, with ten 

Wm. A. Amsbary, a revivalist after the Spillman or- 
der, succeeds Hart, in 1864, and is able to report a gain 
of fifty during his year's pastorate. 

T. M. Munhall follows Amsbary in 1865, and reports 
a loss of some twenty-five. Passing to the westward and 
tracing the progress of the work along the Platte Valley, 
we find Elkhorn Circuit, which appears for the first time, 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 189 

and probably takes some of both Bellevue and Platte Val- 
ley ; J. H. Ailing is pastor. Of course it is impossible 
to say whether the sixty-four members and probationers 
he reports represents gain or loss. He is followed by T. 
Hoagland in 1862. He reports fifty-one, a loss of thirteen. 

We now come to Platte Valley, that large, indefinite 
charge which is supposed to extend as far west as Co- 
lumbus, at least. Theodore Hoagland, the pastor, will 
only find thirty-six members, and will be compelled to 
report only nineteen. This is Brother Hoagland's first 
appointment, he having been received on trial along with 
T. B. Lemon and J. B. Maxfield, but in sad contrast to 
these, he only continues for two years and drops out of 
the work ; why, we have no means of knowing. * 

Joseph H. Ailing, who entered the w'ork in i860, en- 
ters upon his last year in Nebraska as Theodore Hoag- 
land's successor on the Platte Valley work and reports a 
gain of three members. 

]\Iartin Pritchard gave a year to this mission, yet 
strong and efficient as he is known to have been, he was 
only able to report an increase of five or six. 

He is followed in 1865 by that faithful pastor, Jacob 
Adriance, who also reports only a small gain. All this 
while Fremont has been a part of this mission, but could 
not have grown much, for the whole mission had only 
twenty-four members and five probationers in 1865. 

Kt. Kearney appears for the first time in 1861, with 
T. M, ]\Iunhall as circuit preacher. He remained but 
three months, being changed to Calhoun, a more product- 
ive field. As no one is sent to that far off field to fik 
out the year, and Ft. Kearney Circuit is dropped the next 
year, it is probable the presiding elder was justified in 

IQO History of Nebraska ^Methodism. 

abandoning the field and changing ]\Iunhall to Calhoun. 
It did not appear again till 1864, and was then, as also in 
1865, left to be supplied, with no record as to who, if 
any one, found their way to that hard, distant field. But 
the Union Pacific is rapidly pushing its way up the 
Platte, and there will soon be enough people to justify 
the presence of a pastor, and, there will in a few years 
be a strong, vigorous Church. 

In 1861 Calhoun received David Hart as pastor, but 
as noted elsewhere, at the end of three months he was 
changed to Omaha, and T. M. Munhall was changed 
from Ft. Kearney to fill ovit the year at Calhoun. This 
circuit had T. B. Lemon the year before, which accounts 
for the fact that there are thirty-one probationers with 
only thirty full members. The revivals then, as now, oc- 
curring in the winter, and Conference coming in the 
spring, probationers could not be received into full con- 
nection until the following Conference year, so the num- 
ber of probationers left was a fair index to the extent of 
the revival the preceding year. It will be noted that T. B. 
Lemon usually left some probationers, for he almost in- 
variably had a revival. According to this standard there 
must have been revivals that year under Munhall's min- 
istry, also, for sixty probationers are left to the care of 
his successor. 

That successor was J. B. Maxfield, the name of the 
circuit being again changed to De Soto. As noted else- 
where, Maxfield passes on to Decatur the next year, and 
is followed by the old rough-and-ready pioneer, Isaac 
Burns, who puts in a year of faithful work. E. T. Mc- 
Laughlin is received on trial in the Conference of 1864 
and succeeds Burns on De Soto Circuit. The Minutes of 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 191 

1865 record his appointment as a missionary to Montana, 
but it seems that he did not go but suppHed the Decatur 
work that year and continued two years and dropped out. 
ile leaves twenty-four probationers, which indicates that 
lie had some revivals. There now appears as pastor of 
this circuit. A. G. White, a name that will become a house- 
hold word in many parts of Nebraska. Rev. W. A. Wil- 
son writes me that there are still standing and growing, 
at old Ft. Calhoun, in front of what was then the parson- 
age which he built while on the circuit, some large trees, 
which White had planted, typical of the permanence and 
healthy growth of much of the results of this strong, thor- 
ough man's work in after life. He will be heard from 
again, wisely and triumphantly leading the hosts of King 
Immanuel. We have already heard of his brave leader- 
ship in defense of Pawnee Ranch against 1,000 yelling 
savage Sioux. We will always find him ready for emer- 
gencies and master of the situation, however difficult. 
During his first year at De Soto the membership, includ- 
ing forty-three probationers, is nearly doubled. 

W. A. Amsbary goes to Tekamah in 1861. The cir- 
cuit included Decatur and the next year the name of the 
circuit is changed to Decatur and Amsbary returns for 
the second year. But even this aggressive revivalist, 
whose success elsewhere in building up the Church 
through revivals has been phenomenal, reports at the end 
of his full legal term a loss of ten. He is followed, as be- 
fore noted in a personal reference, by Dr. Maxfield, who 
after a short time is called to the Government Training 
School at Genoa. As good Sister Ashley says, there was 
"consternation" at the loss of such a man, whose min- 
istry had already taken strong hold of the entire com- 

192 History of Nebraska Methodism, 

munity, and promised a year of great success. The cir- 
cuit was supplied the balance of the year by Joel Mason^ 
but hardly rallied that year from the discouragement oc- 
casioned by the departure of Maxfield. 

In 1864 Jacob Adriance is sent to Decatur mission and 
finds a disheartened people almost ready to give up. But 
by a year of faithful work, such as he always did, he left 
the charge in good condition for an advance when the 
change in the tide of affairs, which was soon to come, 
arrived. He is followed by A. J. Swartz in 1865. 

Dakota Mission has for pastor for two years, begin- 
ning with 1861, Z. B. Turman, whose presence is a guar- 
antee of two years of hard, aggressive worlc, but by some 
mistake Dakota does not appear in the statistics and we 
know nothing of the results of his labor. 

He is followed by W. A. Amsbary in 1863. The 
omission of the statistics of the charge the year before 
makes a comparative statement impossible, but that the 
field was a discouraging one is evident from the fact that 
after three years' faithful service by two such men as 
Turman and Amsbary, there were only eighteen members. 
"For the next two years Dakota is left to be supplied and 
we have no means of knowing who, if any one, was se- 
cured for this purpose, and as there is no report of sta- 
tistics, we can not know whether there was gain or loss. 

This ends the detailed statement of each charge dur- 
ing the war period so far as such details can be obtained 
from meager records, and other inadequate sources of in- 
formation. Only two churches have been built during the 
stress and excitement of the war period. One of these 
was, as noted, bought of the Congregationalists at Brown- 
ville, and the other was erected at a country appointment 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 193 

on the charge, during the pastorate of Hiram Burch, who 
had already made a reputation as church builder, by the 
erection of the first ]\Iethodist church ever built in Ne- 
braska, at Nebraska City. In 1863, during- the pastorate 
of J. G. ]\Iiller at Plattsmouth, a small building that had 
been used for a saloon was purchased, and made to ser\^e 
as a place of worship for several years. 

According to the ^linutes there were reported in sta- 
tistics for 1 86 1 four churches, including the one at Brown- 
ville, and one at Bellevue, but which is not reported in 
any succeeding copies of ]\Iinutes, and must, like the 
Florence Church, have been. sold to pay debt. In the sta- 
tistics for 1 86 1 even Nebraska City church building is 
omitted, because there was no report from that charge, 
but it ought to be counted. Including all these Nebraska 
iMethodism started out in the war period with five church 
buildings, and up to 1865, loses one and gains two, mak- 
ing a net gain of one church for the period. 

They do better on parsonages, however. Starting out 
in 1861 with only one. in 1863 there are two'built, one at 
Pawnee City on Table Rock Charge, by Brother Burch, 
and one at Falls City by Brother King. In 1864 Brother 
Lemon reports one at Omaha, and W'm. ]\I. Smith one at 
Nebraska City. But according to the statistics in the 
Minutes of 1865 both that at Omaha and the one at Ne- 
braska City drop out. but that of Nebraska City is re- 
ported each year afterward. This leaves the net gain for 
the period of the war, four, including the one purchased 
at Plattsmouth that year, during the pastorate of W. A. 

Aside from what has been done by those faithful 
workmen in the direct interest of the Church, g^reat thines 

194 History oi^ Nebraska Methodism. 

have occurred on the wider arena of the national Hfe. 
The Union has been saved and slavery abolished. Be- 
fore the war Nebraska and Kansas had been thrown open 
for the admission of slavery, on equal terms with free- 
dom. Now Nebraska is forever dedicated to freedom, 
greatly to the gratification of such men as H. T. Clarke 
and Andrew Cook and hundreds of others who had come 
in the "fifties" to make Nebraska free, and to the joy of 
all lovers of their kind. 


There has not been much growth in any direction dur- 
ing these stormy times. Omaha District gains sixty in 
the four years, and Nebraska District gains, on the face 
of the statistics, 261. But the important station of Ne- 
braska City was not reported in 186 1. If we add the 
ninety that were reported for Nebraska City in i860 to 
the total reported in 1861, the net gain for the period will 
be only 171, or a total for the Conference of 231, being 
an average of fifty-six per year for the entire Conference. 

But under the circumstances that was a great achieve- 
ment. The Church more than held its own, while the 
population of the territory' has at times decreased. It is 
well organized and full of holy enthusiasm as it faces 
the new and more hopeful future. 

That future is bright with promise for Nebraska 
Methodism. Several causes will operate to bring a large 
population in the next five years. Among those is the 
free homestead law which went into operation in 1862, 
but up to 1865 had not attracted many to Nebraska. But 
now the tide sets in strongly. The war being over, many 
of the old soldiers hasten to Nebraska to find a home. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 195 

Tecumseh and many other places are started largely by 
the old veterans. 

The spaces on the open prairie left vacant in the older 
counties rapidly fill up. The first settlers had taken 
claims along the streams where there was some timber, 
many doubting whether people could live at all out on 
the prairies away from timber. Even as late as 1865, 
when Rev. P. B. Ruch ventured out some twenty miles 
on the wild prairie of Richardson County, his friends 
deemed him reckless. But he and many others had al- 
ready demonstrated the richness of these prairie farms 
and increasing confidence served to fill up the vacant por- 
tions of the older counties, so that up to 1870, while the 
population increased from 28.841 in i860, to 122,993 in 
1870 (nearly all this increase occurring after 1865), the 
increase found homes in the older counties and the west- 
ern line of the frontier remained substantially the same as 
in 1861. 

In anticipation of this increase, a new district is 
formed in 1865, called Brownville District, with that rug- 
ged old leader, C. W. Giddings as presiding elder, while 
J. G. Miller succeeds Davis on the Nebraska City Dis- 
trict. This arrangement, however, only continues till 
1867, when the number of districts is again reduced to 
two, with T. B. Lemon on the Omaha District and C. W. 
Giddings on the Nebraska City District. The number of 
districts remains the same till 1869, when the number of 
circuits and stations have increased to thirty-nine, mak- 
ing another district necessary. A. G. White is made 
presiding elder of the Omaha District, T. B. Lemon of 
the Nebraska City District, and C. W. Giddings of the 
Lincoln District. 

196 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

We pause a moment to note some facts relating to 
that forceful personality and efficient preacher, C. W. 

C. W. Giddings had given twenty-five years to the 
ministry before coming to Nebraska in 1858, having 
joined the old Oneida Conference, New York, in 1833. 
After many years of toil in the East, his health broke 
down and he came to Nebraska to recuperate if possible. 
In a few years he was so far restored that having been 
transferred to the Nebraska Conference, he re-entered 
the work as presiding elder of the Brownville District. 
He afterward served two years on the Lincoln District, 
but the old infirmities, together with advancing years, 
made it necessary for him to take the superannuated rela- 
tion in 1871. He retired to his farm at Table Rock, and 
there, with his devoted wife, he lived in peace, looking 
back over a long life well spent, and forward to the life 
that never ends. 

While not able to give many years to the Nebraska 
work, they were years of great influence for good. The 
preachers soon came to recognize him as a superior man, 
and by their votes sent him as delegate to the General 
Conference of 1868. His death occurred December 23, 
1879. His brethren place on record, in 1880, the fol- 
lowing estimate of their fallen comrade : Brother Gid- 
dings was a man of more than ordinary ability, and like 
the most of men of such rank, he had his peculiar char- 
acteristics. He was possessed of great will power, and 
hence of great decision and firmness. He also had great 
endurance and persistent activity. He was a thorough 
and devout Arminian Methodist of the old style ; jealous 
for the purity and power and zealous for the success of 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 197 

the Gospel — elements that made him a true and able min- 
ister of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

"His sermons evinced deep thought and a comprehen- 
sive understanding. He was a workman at his calling. 
Sin and error suffered mortal thrusts by the scathing 
shafts of his incisive gospel logic. Finally his devotion 
to the cause in retirement was evinced by his fidelity to 
every religious and reformatory interest of society. As 
Sunday-school superintendent he will be missed and long 
remembered. And, as might be expected, he died as the 
good man dies, quoting to his pastor the significant lines : 

" ' Not a cloud doth arise to darken the skies, 
Or hide for a moment my Lord from my eyes.' 

"Blessing upon the family, honor to the record, and 
peace to the memory of one of life's true heroes, Charles 
W. Giddings." 



The task of tracing the history of the next five 3'ears 
will be a more pleasant one. The struggle for existence, 
both for Territory and Church, is over, and it will be our 
pleasant duty henceforth to note the rapid march of prog- 
ress in all directions, which, though at times will be re- 
tarded, will not cease. 

The era of free homesteads and rapid movement of 
population westward, enhanced by the large foreign im- 
migration that is coming from Europe, and stimulated 
by the building of the Union Pacific and other lines of 
railroads, has set in. 

The era of helpful subordinate institutions in the 
Church has also set in. The Missionary Society, which 
had begun its work in 1819, had, up to this time, been 
the only helpful agency in the field. It was seen what 
an immense advantage it had been in maintaining a work- 
ing force in the field, being often the chief reliance of 
the scantily paid itinerant in his efifort to keep the wolf 
from the door. It was manifest that if this helpful agency 
was re-enforced by another that would enable the faithful 
pastor who was rapidly forming classes out of the ]\leth- 
odist settlers who were coming to the West by the thou- 
sands and through his revival efforts adding to them 
young converts by the scores and hundreds, to build 
churches and thus to house and care for them more effi- 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 199 

ciently, the results would be larger and more permanent. 
As usual, when this great need was pressing, God raised 
up the needed help in the organization of the Church Ex- 
tension Society in 1865. 

This need became acute when the problem of evangel- 
izing the Western prairie country confronted the Church. 
When the hardy pioneers planted the Church in Ohio and 
Indiana, they found an abundance of native material, 
which only needed a small amount of money to enable 
willing hands to hew it and place it in shape and construct 
a church that served their purpose very well. But this was 
not possible in Iowa and Nebraska and other prairie coun- 
tries. True, rather than go without any shelter, they con- 
structed the rude sod church, which would temporarilv 
serve the purpose, but could not be permanent. Hence 
it was an event of immense import to Nebraska Meth- 
odism when the Church Extension Society was born. 
However, it was several years before it got its work so 
well in hand that it could be of much assistance, but it 
was a beginning full of promise that should be realized in 
full measure later on. 

During the five years, from 1865 to 1870, a number of 
preachers who had rendered efficient service for a number 
of years, either passed on to other fields, as did the ag- 
gressive Amsbary, who in 1867 went to Colorado, or 
through failing health were compelled to take a non-effect- 
ive relation, as did J. T. Cannon, Jesse L. Fort, Hiram 
Burch, David Hart, J. G. Miller, Isaac Burns, and M. F. 
Shinn. Besides these, H. H. Skaggs, F. B. Pitzer, A. 
Williams, located in 1868; and in 1867 A. G. White was 
appointed chaplain in the army. But others rapidly took 
their places. During these five years there came in on 

200 History of Nijbraska Methodism. 

trial, in 1866, David Marquette, A. Williams, and A. J. 
Folden ; in 1867, Benjamin C. Golliday, L. F. Britt, Joel 
Warner, Joseph H. Presson, William A. Presson, H. P. 
Mann; in 1868, Joel A. Van Anda, T. R. Sweet, R. S. 
Hawks; in 1869, David Marquette, Francis M. Ester- 
brook, J. W. Martin. 

Concerning myself it will be noted that I was twice 
received on trial, which may need explanation concerning 
my own and other like cases during these earlier times. 

At the close of my first year I felt the need of a better 
education and determined to go to Garrett Biblical School. 
There was no provision then, as now, by which those tak- 
ing such a step, which may be as much involved in the 
call to the ministry as preaching, could continue their re- 
lation and be left without appointment to attend school, 
but they must be discontinued, and then when they re- 
sumed active work, be received on trial again. 

Among these recruits are men who have risen to high 
distinction for usefulness. It will not be regarded as ex- 
travagant praise by those who know the facts to say that 
A, L. Folden, who, though not entering the Conference 
till near forty years of age, has made a record in the way 
of solid achievements that will compare favorably with 
any of his co-laborers ; then there is L. F. Britt, the Pres- 
sons, Joel A Van Anda, F. M. Esterbrook, and others, 
who, on various fields, have rendered splendid service. 

Besides these raw recruits, there were some who trans- 
ferred into this Conference, bringing well-trained minds 
and consecrated hearts, and most of them devoted 
themselves to the work in Nebraska the remainder 
of their lives. Of these we mention a few. Just 
at the close of the war period we saw C. W. 

History of Nebraska ]\Iethodism. 201 

Giddings step into the arena ; in 1866, J. J. Rob- 
erts, than whom- Nebraska has had no abler ex- 
pounder of the truth, joined our ranks, bringing- with him 
a wife who has also been a power for good as all who 
know Airs. j\I. E. Roberts will readily testify. And wdio 
does not know her, whose "name is in all the Churches ;" 
then there were W. S. Blackburn, J. M. Adair, H. C. 
Westwood, George S. Alexander, Gilbert De La Matyr, 
S. P. Van Doozer, and George W. Elwood, all of whom 
wrought faithfully, and some powerfully, for the cause of 
the blaster. Then J. E. Alaxfield, who took charge of 
the Indian Training School in 1863, resumes his place in 
the pastorate in 1867, greatly strengthening the forces. 

These gains to the working forces so outnumber the 
losses, that in 1869 we have thirty-five receiving appoint- 
ment at the hands of Bishop Janes, as compared with 
eighteen, who were assigned to work by Bishop Scott in 

With such accessions to the working forces we may 
expect corresponding growth in the work, and will not be 
disappointed. The work is already assuming the twofold 
form of developing into strength and more perfect or- 
ganization the older charges, and pushing the work along 
the frontier, though the frontier features of the work 
will predominate for some time to come. 

Under svich pastors as the saintly Davis and the stir- 
ring Alexander, Nebraska City maintains its place in the 
lead in membership, and is abreast with any in all that 
makes a strong, aggressive Methodist Church, 

Omaha makes rapid progress toward permanent con- 
ditions under Slaughter, Westwood, and De La Matyr. 
If there was some trouble, it was doubtless because the 

202 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Church was crowded forward too rapidly under the ag- 
gressive Westwood, whose Eastern ideas did not fit into 
Western conditions. But there was a decided gain in 
membership and all other elements of local strength and 

Before passing we should glance at some of the more 
important places, and note, as far as possible, their prog- 
ress toward their present commanding positions. Peru 
has assumed special importance as the seat of the State 
Normal, which was established there after the refusal of 
the Conference to accept their offer. The JMethodist 
Church has supplied the positive religious and moral in- 
fluence needed in an educational center, through a succes- 
sion of faithful pastors and great revivals. J. J. Roberts, 
R. C. Johnson, J. W. Taylor, and A. J. Swartz succes- 
sively served this charge during this period. At Brown- 
ville, David Hart, B. C. Golliday, and D. H. May served 
as pastors. Falls City was mightily stirred and strength- 
ened by revivals and faithful pastoral work under W. A. 
Presson, followed by Martin Pritchard. Table Rock re- 
ceived the Gospel at the hands of M. Pritchard and L. W. 
Smith in these years. 

Pawnee stands out by itself as an appointment for the 
first time in 1868, with W. A. Presson as pastor for two 
years, during which it is strengthened by a good revival. 

Beatrice is served by H. P. Mann, R. C. Johnson, and 
George W. Elwood. Tecumseh makes great progress 
under the labors of A. L. Folden and L. F. Britt, as might 
well be expected. Over 100 conversions result from the 
labors of Brother Folden, assisted by Joseph H. Presson. 

Plattsmouth had the misfortvme to lose W. A. Ams- 
bary about this time, but rallied under the able ministry 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 


and wise administration of J. J. Roberts. During his 
three years a substantial church was built. 

After tw^o years' pastorate by faithful Adriance, Fre- 
mont had the service of Joel A. Van Anda for three 
years, during which their first church was built, antl 
the charge moved rapidly forward along all lines 
of growth, and began to take rank as one of the 
best charges. 

These are the principal points, which, with a single 
exception, Methodism has developed into strength and 
influence in the community. 

















■L- ^ 






Father Van Anda. 

John A. Van Anda. 

Probabl}- to no two families has Fremont Methodism 
been more indebted for its growth and influence than to 
the two Rogers families who were members from the 
first. These were joined in 1867 by the Van Anda fami- 
lies, father and mother and two sons, Joel A. and John A. 
While J. F. Hansen. N. V. Biles, R. B. Schneider, O. F. 
Glidden, and many other excellent families came still later, 
it seems appropriate that the Rogers and Van Andas re- 
ceive something more than mere mention, they having 
stood in special relation to the early history of the Church. 

204 History op* Nebraska Methodism. 

The two brothers, E. H. and L. H. Rogers, who were 
members of the first class formed in Fremont, in 1857, 
and during their whole lives were pillars in that Church, 
are worthy of further mention. 

E. H. Rogers, the more aggressive of the two, after 
twenty-five years of great usefulness in all the relations 
of responsibility to which a layman may be called, such 
was his high standing as a stanch and influential Meth- 
odist, that the ministry, after his death in 1881, in the 
prime of life, do him the honor of giving him the rare 
distinction of prominent mention among their honored 
dead, usually reserved for members of the Conference. 
In the Minutes of 1881 they place on record this brief 
account of his life, and appreciation of his worth, which 
I transcribe and make my own : "Eliphaz Hibbard Rog- 
ers was born in Litchfield, New York, January 12, 1830, 
and died in Vera Cruz, Mexico, August, 1881. He ob- 
tained a good academic education, and at the age of six- 
teen engaged in school teaching, and a few years later 
in the practice of law, in both of which professions he 
was successful. Twenty-five years ago he came to Ne- 
braska and located in the valley of the Platte, where now 
is the city of Fremont. In 1858 he was elected to the 
legislature. From 1863 to 1867 he was county clerk ; and 
while yet in the office he was elected to the last Terri- 
torial Council, and afterward to the first State Senate of 
Nebraska ; and in both bodies he was chosen president, 
and served with marked ability. At the time of his death 
he was United States Consul at Vera Cruz, Mexico. In 
early life he became a Christian and a member of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church. His experience was clear, 
constant, and satisfactory. He never compromised prin- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 205 

ciple for worldly gain. He brought all his secular inter- 
ests to the bar of an enlightened judgment, and then 
acted according to its dictates. His piety found intelli- 
gent expression in a system of good works. From the 
first he devoted one-tenth of his income to religious uses. 
For awhile after coming to Nebraska that tenth was very 
small, and there were urgent demands for it in his family 
and business ; but to his mind and conscience it would 
have been robbery of God to use it, and he never did. In 
all his Christian experience he proved the truthfulness 
of Paul's teaching, that godliness is profitable to the life 
that now is. His life was a practical refutation of the 
popular slander that the children of clergymen are more 
reckless and more indifferent to sacred things than other 
children. He was the son of Rev. L. C. Rogers, who 
spent all the years of his manhood in the Methodist min- 
istry in the State of New York ; and our lamented brother 
grew to man's estate in the home of an itinerant, sharing 
all of its privations and self-denial. The Church loved 
him and trusted him, and he was twice lay delegate to 
the General Conference, serving with marked ability upon 
one of its most important committees. He was an accom- 
plished orator, a model class-leader, a faithful friend, a 
devoted husband and father. In short, he was a Christian 
in the best meaning of the term, and "the end of that man 
was peace." 

While, as said before, Lucius Fl. Rogers was less ag- 
gressive, he was permitted to give nearly half a century to 
the Church he loved, filling faithfully the many posts of 
duty to which the Church called him. He was on the 
Commission that founded Nebraska Wesleyan, and was 
for many years an honored member of the Board of Trus- 


2o6 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

tees. His pastor, Rev. F. H. Sanderson, D. D., speaks 
thus tenderly of this departed saint : 

"Lucius Henry Rogers was born in Fayetteville, New 
York, March 20, 1834, and died in Fremont, Nebraska. 
September 11, 1903. He was the son of the late Rev. 
Lucius Cary Rogers, who labored a lifetime in the Oneida 
Conference. Brother Rogers imbibed the truths of re- 
ligion at his mother's knee, from his father's lips, in the 
modest parsonage of the long ago. He was cradled in 
the lap of piety. In the dawn of manhood he received 
the truth, and the emancipating power of that knowledge 
made him free. Himself and his brother, the late Eliphaz 
H, Rogers, and three more devout Methodists, organized 
the first Methodist Episcopal Church of Fremont, Ne- 
braska, forty-six years ago. As a charter member of this 
noble Church, and an official of the same for forty years, 
he demonstrated his faith in God and love to the Church. 
By a well ordered and consistent life and conversation, 
and by his large and constant contributions to its welfare, 
he ever said: 'I love Thy Church, O God!' In 1888 he 
was elected a delegate to the General Conference in New 
York. His spiritual experience was a living reality. His 
faith in God and his blessed experience of the power of 
Christ to save and keep, preserved him from all skeptical 
doubts touching the authority and inspiration of the Bible 
and the immortality of the soul. His spare moments were 
not given to folly or to the acquiring of political renown, 
or even to the achievement of commercial fame. Unos- 
tentatious, modest, always 'esteeming others better than 
himself,' his leisure was devoted to substantial reading 
and the sublime work of doing good. The Church, the 
poor, the great ameliorating agencies of our times, were 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 207 

all objects of his ceaseless regard. His personal assist- 
ance, his prayers and sympathies, his purse, were ever at 
the command of religion, philanthropy, and charity. All 
the older bishops and many of the senior ministers knew 
and loved him. His hospitable home was always open 
to the Methodist itinerant. He was universally beloved 
and esteemed. Until ill-health prevented, he was ever at 
his post in the house of God. 'He was a good man, and 
full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.' " 

The two Rogers families were soon joined by another 
family, the Van Anda's, mother, father, and two sons, 
Joel A. and John A. Joel A. Van Anda was pastor of 
the Church at Fremont when the first church was built 
and Fremont Methodism took a fresh start in its steady 
march towards its present strength and influence. The 
year the church was completed, in 1870, the Conference 
held the first of a long series of sessions in Fremont, at 
every one of which the hospitality has been most cordial. 

Joel A. remained as pastor the full term, but did not 
stay long in Nebraska, being summoned to the pastorate 
of some of the most important Churches in other States. 
His whole career has been eminently successful. 

Father and Mother Van Anda remained many years as 
bright and shining lights, and John A. Van Anda re- 
mained in active business in Fremont and in faithful serv- 
ice in official relations to the Church until last summer, 
when after long and intense suffering from rheumatism, 
he passed to the heavenly country. His devoted wife still 
tarries among the working forces of the Church. Fre- 
mont Methodism owes much to the Van Anda family. 

We find many new charges are formed, yet mostly 
within the area already partially occupied. In the Omaha 

2o8 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

District we find Wood River and De Witt Charges in 
1866; Fremont in 1867; City Mission, West Point, and 
Nortli Platte in 1868, and Schuyler in 1869. In some 
cases, like Fremont, these had been parts of circuits, but 
had become heads of circuits or stations. 

In Nebraska City District we have Blue River and 
Helena in 1866, and Lancaster in 1867; Cub Creek, 
Upper Nemaha, and Lincoln in 1868; and London, Salem, 
and Blue Springs in 1869. 

Then we have the new Lincoln District, with the new 
circuits, Ashland, Oak Creek, and Northwest Blue, in 

Some of these new charges that have their birth dur- 
ing these five years, will become important centers in due 
time. Among these destined to realize this larger future 
are Fremont, Schuyler, Wood River, which should have 
been named Grand Island; Blue Springs, Ashland, and 
last, but not least, Lincoln. Methodism in this place, the 
capital of the State, will, under the leadership of H. T. 
Davis, its first pastor, and his successors, soon forge to 
the front and ever after maintain its place in the lead. 
There was one of these new charges. West Point, that 
has defied the best efforts of faithful men, and has be- 
come defunct. 

In 1865 the Minutes report six churches and six 
parsonages, while in 1869 we have thirteen churches and 
twelve parsonages. The membership has also nearly 
doubled, being 2,973, including probationers, in 1869, as 
compared with 1,564 in 1865. 

It would be most interesting and profitable to trace 
the history of each of these stations and circuits, and 
to watch the work of the pastors who achieved these 

History of Nebraska Methodism, 209 

splendid results, but this has become impossible for want 
of space. We only know that such results could only 
come of the work of consecrated men blessed of God in 
the salvation of souls, and the building up of the Church 
along all lines. As we view these splendid achievements, 
we must say, with the Master, "Well done," and hasten 
on to survey the labors and struggles and triumphs of the 
period from 1870 to 1880. 


THIRD PERIOD. (1870-1880.) 

This period is one of thrilling- interest. It is charac- 
terized by a great influx of people into the State and great 
revivals in the Church. While up to 1870 the population 
had grown to 122,993, i" the next five years it increased 
to 247,280, more people coming into the State in five 
years than had come the preceding fifteen years. By 1880 
there were 452,542, a total increase during the decade of 
323,549, while the increase during the preceding decade 
had been less than 95,000. 

The frontier had, up to this time, extended but little, 
if any, over one hundred miles west of the IMissouri River, 
except up along the line of the Union Pacific Railroad, 
and there but few except railroad employees had settled. 
But now this tide of immigration rapidly extended over 
the table-lands of Butler, Seward, Polk, York, Fillmore, 
Saline, Gage, and Jefferson Counties, pushing out up the 
Republican River in the south part of the State, up the 
Platte and Loup in the central part, and up the Elkhoni 
in the north. 

If I were to seek for a single word to express the sit- 
uation during this period, especially the first four years, 
that word would be expansion. This expansion was two- 
fold. The growth of the older charges through accre- 
tions, conversions, revivals, and more thorough organiza- 
tion. Then the territorial expansion towards the west line 
ot the State corresponding with the extension of the set- 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 211 

tlements through the vast immigration of that period. 
Then the growth of the population within the area al- 
ready partially settled, and the corresponding growth of 
the Church, by the multiplication of appointments on the 
circuits and resultant increase in number of stations, cir- 
cuits and districts. In 1863, D. S. Davis is appointed to 
Wahoo Circuit. He starts in with five appointments and 
closes up with fourteen, and out of that one circuit there 
has grown four stations and circuits. 

Often where there was no circuit in the beginning of 
the year, some presiding elder would send a man to make 
one, or possibly, as often happened, some zealous local 
preacher, or superannuated veteran, would launch out 
and make one. Nor were these new circuits wholly the 
result of the coming of Methodist settlers who only needed 
to be hunted up. ]\Iany of the preachers possessing the 
missionary spirit, would go into neighborhoods where 
there were perhaps no members, or not enough to organ- 
ize a class, hold revival-meetings, get a number converted, 
and thus extend the work. Then the head of a circuit 
would grow to the extent of being able to support a 
preacher, and there w'ould be a station made of one, and 
a circuit made of the rest. 

Rapid as was the growth of population and the exten- 
sion of the area of settled country, the Church kept pace 
with the rapid advance, and few. if any, Methodists had 
time to backslide before the helpful itinerant visited in 
their homes, bringing their Gospel and the means of 
grace. In many cases the growth of the Church was in 
excess of 'the population, great revivals bringing many 
into the kingdom. 

L. W. Smith tells of some camp-meetings and reviv- 

212 History oi? Nebraska Methodism. 

als in the southeastern part of the Territory : "In 1862, 
Brother Munhah and myself had a large circuit, Falls 
City, Rulo, Salem, and four other points, country school- 
houses, of which I have forgotten the names. In 1861 we 
had one of the most successful camp-meetings ever held 
in that part of the country not far from Falls City. 
Brother King was on the charge at that time. I went 
down from Table Rock to assist him. A week had passed 
with no special results. The preachers had all left ex- 
cept Brother King and myself. On Tuesday night I 
preached with unusual liberty and at the close of the ser- 
mon I invited them to stand up and sing. But we did not 
get to sing, as the people, when they stood up, began to 
fall all over the camp-ground, till about fifty were down 
and we had to take care of them. The meeting continued 
then about eight days longer. 

"We sent ovit and obtained more ministerial help and 
the result was glorious, very many conversions. So in 
1862 we continued the revival influence and gathered 
much from the past and had many conversions at differ- 
ent points that year. In 1861 L held a glorious camp- 
meeting on Table Rock Circuit, on the South Fork of 
Nemaha, at which there were many conversions." 

At the beginning of this period, A. L. Folden and J. 
H. Presson were on the Tecumseh Circuit, and report 
300 conversions, and in 1871 this same A. L. Folden is 
blessed with a great revival at Mt. Pleasant, with eighty- 
five accessions, and at Eight Mile Grove with sixty-five. 
The following year, on the same charge, with John Gal- 
lagher as junior preacher, there were one hundred con- 
versions at Weeping Water. To A. L. Folden 's work on 
this charge, his presiding elder pays this tribute : "Mt. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. - 213 

Pleasant Circuit embraces the central part of Cass County. 
This is one of the oldest, wealthiest, and most Method- 
istic circuits in the country. Having- a live man as pastor, 
live men as leaders and stewards, live women at the head 
of the Sabbath-school, and a live membership, ^It. Pleas- 
ant is emphatically a live place. Brother Folden, having 
no children of his own, is nevertheless very deeply inter- 
ested in the welfare of the children of others, and spares 
no pains in their religious instruction ; and he has had the 
privilege of seeing all the regular attendants of the Sab- 
bath-school at Mt. Pleasant and Eight Mile Grove happily 
converted to God. Had we but one advice to give to 
ministers and laymen, that advice would be, 'Take care 
of the lambs.' This is the most important work of all the 
departments of the Church ; and this work Brother Fol- 
den most faithfully performed. Under his efficient min- 
istry, Mt. Pleasant, Eight Mile Grove, and Weeping 
Water have been visited with great revivals of religion, 
and multitudes, old and young, have been made the re- 
cipients of saving grace. Over 150 have been converted 
to God. At Weeping Water, a church of the best lime- 
stone, thirty-two by sixty feet, is being erected. The 
walls are partly up, and the material is on the ground for 
its completion, and it will be finished early the coming 
summer. When done, it will be one of the most beautiful 
and substantial church edifices in the bounds of the Con- 
ference. There has been an increase in every department 
of the Church on this circuit the past year." 

Jf we follow A. L. Folden from one charge to another, 
we find him building churches and holding revival meet- 
ings wherever he goes. At Seward, he completes a 
church and holds a revival at a country appointment in 

214 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

1874. At Ashland in 1875, he was met, when he drove 
up with his goods, by a prominent official member, and 
told it was not wise to unload his goods ; that they could 
not support him, and he would starve. He staid. He 
was blessed with a wonderful revival resulting in two 
hundred conversions and one hundred and fifty uniting 
with the Church. It is said that he made this entry in 
the official record : "They tried to starve me, but I 
would n't starve worth a cent." As might be expected, 
he is returned in 1876, and has a great revival at Coffman 
school-house, five miles north of Ashland. Among the 
conversions were two prize fighters, one horse racer, and 
a fiddler. 

On the South Bend Circuit we find two new churches 
to his credit, and in 1878 we find him on Lincoln Cir- 
cuit, organizing in South Lincoln what has since become 
Trinity Church, the first year ; and the second, holding a 
revival-meeting at which over one hundred were saved. 
We see this consecrated man of God, full of faith and of 
the Holy Ghost, beginning, as he says, each day by sing- 
ing "Nearer, my God, to Thee," attended with a flame of 
revival power throughout this period, and there are over 
1,000 conversions in ten years. 

But others are having revivals. Isaac Burns has 
sixty-five conversions on the Nebraska City Circuit in 
1871. Presiding elders bring in cheering reports of re- 
vivals from all over the field. J. J. Roberts is at Blair, 
but extends his work in the country, holding revivals in 
the cabins of the people, with many conversions, among 
them William Peck, a well-educated Prussian, who af- 
terward became one of our ablest preachers. J. M. Adair, 
assisted by F. B. Pitzer, has eighty-four conversions on 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 215 

the Arizona Circuit, and the membership of old Dakota 
Circuit is increased by five hundred per cent under the 
labors of S. P. \'an Doozer; and J. \V. Perkins reports 
ninetv-three accessions on the Logan Valley Mission. 

Of W. A. Presson's work at Beatrice in 1871, Presid- 
ing Elder Lemon has this to say : "The past year has 
been a most successful year at Beatrice. At the begin- 
ning of the Conference year there was a very small so- 
ciety worshiping in a small school-house. Brother W. 
A. Presson was appointed to this charge, and on his way 
from Fremont, the seat of the Conference, to Pawnee 
City, his former charge, he went through Beatrice, find- 
ing stone walls standing in a very desirable part of town, 
having been built for a Union Church and left uninclosed. 
He bought the property and raised a subscription and 
began a church and finished it during the year at a cost 
of about $5,000, and raised all the money about Beatrice 
except $500 borrowed from the Church Extension So- 
ciety, the w^hole being provided for by subscription. After 
the dedication of this church God poured out His Spirit 
and over eighty, many of the principal families of the 
town, were converted and joined the Church." 

Dr. ]\Iaxfield reports that Brother Presson had a gra- 
cious revival the next year. The presiding elder reports 
that L. Oliver was blessed in 1871 wnth gracious revivals 
in some neighborhoods on the West Blue Mission, and in 
some cases all in the neighborhood were converted. 

Presiding Elder A. G. White reports for the Omaha 
District in 1872. gracious revivals at Omaha, Fremont, 
and Schuyler. Of the Eldred Circuit the presiding elder 
tells the story of victory in these words : 

"Eldred Mission was left to be supplied, and Richard 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Pearson reappointed pastor. Brother Pearson came from 
England about two years ago, and on his arrival he was 
received into our Church and appointed to the north half 
of Saunders County, in which we had no Church organ- 
ization. He w^as recommended for admission into the 
traveling connection one year ago, but affliction in his 
family prevented his attending Conference. He has la- 
bored the past year with great success. He is a sort of 
spiritual fire-brand, bearing light and heat and power all 
over the circuit. 

"Church interests developed on 
his hands, demanding more help, and 
Daniel S. Davis was licensed to 
preach and appointed assistant some 
months ago. These brothers have 
given the people a rare example of 
Christian love for each other and for 
the cause of Christ. Every week has 
witnessed an advance. 

"The secret of their success is they 
have taken counsel of God and al- 
lowed Him to lead them ; and when He leads them they 
go 'conquering and to conquer.' These brothers re- 
port over two hundred members and probationers, and 
they are both recommended by the District Conference for 
admission into the traveling connection." 

During the time these devoted men worked they had 
about 200 conversions. 

Brother Davis is returned to Wahoo Circuit the next 
year after being received on trial, in 1873, ^^^^1 as noted, 
began with five and ended with fourteen appointments. 
The way things grew in those days is well illustrated in 

Daniel S. Davis. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 217 

this incident. He sometimes traveled sixt3'-five miles on 
Sabbath and preached four times, often not having" time 
to eat his meals. At what was called Cottonwood, he 
went for the first time to preach at 2.30 on the Sabbath. 
While preaching, a woman jumped up from her seat and 
cried out, addressing her husband, "Jake, you married 
me when I was seventeen years old, and I was a Christian 
then, but have been afraid to tell of it, though it has been 
forty years." He broke down, saying, "Why, I did n't 
know it." She came to the altar to rejoice that she had 
found courage to confess Christ before men, especially 
before her husband, and he came, seeking and finding the 
Savior. Brother Davis continued the meetings five days 
and the results were sixty-five conversions and a new 

Another incident occurred during this meeting:, show- 
ing how God's Spirit can get hold of the worst cases. 
Davis had visited an eccentric and noted character called 
"General" Dane, and been welcomed to stay if he would 
take care of his own horse. This Brother Davis pre- 
ferred to do, and staid. About davbreak one mornini'' 
Dane said to him, "I want to speak to you." He led the 
way to a large elm-tree, and pointing to a limb, he said : 
"Several years ago I caught a horse thief with the stolen 
horse, and knowing him to be guilty, I hung him to that 
limb. Now, is there salvation for me?" The pastor 
answered, "That depends on your motive." Dane ex- 
plained that before that all the horse thieves who had 
been caught and brought to trial had been acquitted, and 
he was tired of that and decided to execute one, anyhow. 
Davis then said : "The sin was a crimson one, but the 
promise is that 'though your sins be as scarlet, they shall 

2i8 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

be white as snow ; though they be red Hke crimson, they 
shall be as wool.' " He took courage, sought the Lord, 
and was happily converted. 

Another case was that of a fiddler by the name of G. 
W. Damon. During a meeting held by Brother Davis, 
Damon's wife came to the altar. On the way home he 
told her that thing must be stopped. The next night she 
got ready to go to the service and he said, "If you go, I 
will leave you." She answered, "I have always been a 
true, obedient wife to you, but when it is a question of sav- 
ing my soul, I must obey God rather than man." She 
started to the service and he, taking his fiddle under his 
arm, started off in the other direction. By the time he 
went half a mile he said to himself aloud, "What a fool I 
am to leave the best woman on earth because she does 
not want to go to h — 1." He turned at once and hastened 
back home, leaving his fiddle, and hurried on to the place 
where the service was held. She had gone in and he fol- 
lowed. When the invitation was given, Damon rose and 
said to his followers in sin : "You have been keeping 
step to my music, now follow me and I will play you a 
tune that will end in heaven." And with that he went 
to the altar, and altar and aisles were soon filled with 
penitent seekers. But Damon was not converted at the 
altar, and about two o'clock that night, he cried out to his 
wife, "Carrie, you must get up and pray for me or I will 
be in hell before daylight." He was gloriously converted. 
He was soon after licensed to preach and served the 
Church in after years as a supply, doing some excellent 
work in that capacity. 

But this rapid expansion, especially during the first 
three years of this period, is seen in the increase of dis- 

History of Nebraska ^Methodism. 219 

tricts. Up to 1869 there were not enough charges to 
make more than two districts. True, in 1865 they tried 
three districts, but in two years abandoned one of them 
and went back to two. 

But in four years from 1869 there were six districts. 
But in nothing is this expansion seen more than in the 
increase in membership, from 1870 to 1874. This in- 
crease is over 3,000. That is, there were as many acces- 
sions to the Church in these four years as there had been 
in the entire fifteen preceding years. While from 1874 
the advance is not so rapid, yet another 3,000 is added in 
six years, making a total of over 6,000 additions in the 
ten years, ever twice as many as had been added in 
the preceding fifteen years. 

It was during this third period that an era of railroad 
building began which determined the drift of population, 
built up innumerable towns that became centers of trade 
for the rural population, and must be seized and held by 
the Church. As we have seen the Union Pacific had al- 
ready been extended through the entire length of the 
center of the State in 1867, the connecting link complet- 
ing the great transcontinental line to the Pacific Coast 
having been formed at Ogden in May. 1869. Though 
the portion embraced within the State of Nebraska had 
been completed several years, for some reason there had 
not been attracted along its line a sufficient population, 
or people of such a character that even the Methodist 
Church could get hold of and organize into Methodist 
societies. Only three appointments west of Kearney, a 
distance of nearly 300 miles, appeared on the list as late 
as 1880, and only one of these, North Platte, had devel- 
oped any strength, and that only had a membership of 

220 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

sixty-nine and five probationers. But we had already 
gone as far as Sidney, and were on the ground eagerly 
watching developments, and ready to seize any point and 
effect an organization at the first opportunity. 

It was during this period that the great B. & M. Rail- 
road built its line out from Plattsmouth through the rich 
and populated counties of Cass, Saunders, and Lancas- 
ter, and the unsettled or sparsely settled counties of Sa- 
line, Fillmore, Clay, Adams, and Kearney. Then extend- 
ing south to the Republican River, pushed its line west- 
ward along the valley of that river through the entire 
length of the State, to its destination at Denver. 

In the meanwhile the St. Joseph and Denver line was 
constructed along the Little Blue through the counties of 
Jefferson, Thayer, Clay, Adams, and Hall, to its destina- 
tion at Grand Island. In the north part of the State the 
Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Paul was extended from 
Omaha to Sioux City, and a branch of the same system 
was extended from Emerson thirty miles west of Sioux 
City to Norfolk, and the F. E. & M. V. pushed its line 
far to the Northwest along the valley of the Elkhorn. At 
the same time the Midland was built west from Nebraska 
City through Lincoln and Seward westward, and the 
Atchison line was built from the southeast corner of the 
State to Lincoln. 

These railroads no longer waited for settlements to 
be formed and then built to them, but inaugurated the 
new idea of sending out their experts and engineers and 
ascertained where settlements might be made, and built 
their lines into those sections of the State that best suited 
their purpose and took possession of the territory that 
naturally belonged to their system, and proceeded to de- 
velop it by attracting settlers. 

History of Nebraska IMethodism. 221 

These railroads are of interest as bearing on the re- 
Ugious development of the country. First, they have 
vastly increased the amount of work which presiding 
elders as well as bishops can do. and have frequently 
aided the work on the frontier by giving free transpor- 
tation to presiding elders, reduced rates on material for 
churches, in addition to the usual half-fare rates extended 
to all clergymen. In the next place they change and de- 
termine the centers of population, collecting many of the 
inhabitants into villages. It often happens that what 
were once prosperous and strong rural circuits, with 
churches and parsonages, are hampered or obliterated by 
the construction of a railroad and building of a town 
near by, and the building up of a church in the town. 
This was the case with old Alt. Pleasant, one of the 
strongest rural circuits, when the ^Missouri Pacific was 
extended up the Weeping Water and Nehawka estab- 
lished. In this way our rural work has been very much 

These facts have been set forth in detail because the 
operation of these combined causes brought about in these 
few years the extension of the frontier almost or quite to 
the west line of the State. A line west of Jefferson 
County, in the south part of the State, and extending to 
the west of Cedar County in the north, with still much 
unsettled country east of that line, and being an average 
distance of about sixty miles west of the Missouri River, 
marked, with sufficient accuracy the extent of the settle- 
ments at the beginning of 1870, except along the Union 
Pacific Railroad, being less than one-sixth of the entire 
area of the State. To this narrow strip, averaging sixty 
miles in width, which it had required fifteen years to set- 

222 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

tie, much of it being still frontier work, there were sud- 
denly added 200 miles along the southern tier of counties, 
and 100 to 150 miles along the center and northern por- 
tions, being a scope of country nearly three times as great 
as was settled during the first fifteen years. East of the 
line referred to there were 117,000 people settled in 1870, 
while to the west there was not to exceed 5,000, and these 
principally along the line of the U. P. R. R., and they 
were mostly employees of the railroad. 

Another fact of great significance must be noted in 
passing if we would understand what it meant to take 
and hold Nebraska for Alethodism during this trying 
period. While the number of missions requiring help 
increased from thirty-one in 1870. to eighty-seven in 1879, 
and while at the same time the capacity of the people to 
support their pastors had diminished by reason of the 
grasshopper scourge, the Missionary Society had not 
been able to respond to this vast increase in the demand 
with any increase in the appropriations, these being $5,050 
for 1870 and $5,000 for 1879. So the average for each 
mission receiving help in 1870, aside from what was ap- 
propriated to the district for the presiding elder, was 
$125, while in 1879 it had dropped down to $43. 

About the same time, 1878, Dr. Maxfield, in his re- 
port, makes the following significant comparison : "The 
district (North Nebraska) has at work this year fifteen 
preachers, exclusive of the presiding elder. Of these, 
eight were appointed by the bishop and seven are sup- 
plies. To aid in their support the Missionary Society 
appropriated $1,170. Another Church having eight men 
in the same field appropriates for their support over 
$3,000. That is. our appropriation, divided equally among 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 223 

sixteen men, gives about $73 to each, while theirs, divided 
in the same way among eight men, gives about $400 each. 
When we consider that the great difficuhy to meet and 
overcome in this frontier work is the support of the 
preachers, we can understand the great disadvantage 
under which we labor when we are compelled, as we are, 
to work side by side with these competing Churches, 
backed by so much larger outlay of money than our own." 

But to understand the full significance of this com- 
parison we must remember that all the $3,000 or more 
appropriated by our sister Church went to the eight pas- 
tors, while $400 of our $1,170 went to the presiding elder. 
Deducting this we have left $770 to, be divided among 
fifteen pastors, reducing the average to a little over fifty 
dollars, a few dollars above the general average for 1879. 

It is greatly to the credit of ouj" sister denomination 
that she made such bountiful provision for the comfort 
of her missionaries in the home field. But is it not even 
more to the credit of Methodism that with one-eighth of 
the amount of missionary money for each pastor she 
could still find devoted and self-sacrificing preachers 
enough to man her work, and that they and their suc- 
cessors have done their work so well that the membership 
of the Methodist Church is nearly four times as 'great as 
that of this same sister denomination ? 

This feature of Methodism by which she is able to 
keep up the supply of workers under all circumstances 
has been alluded- to before in a general way. To some of 
those who have been prominent as leaders in some of 
these sister denominations, who put special emphasis on 
the comfort of the home missionary, the fact has been 
inexplicable. One said to the writer: "I can't under- 

224 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

stand how you can keep men in the field on such small 
salaries ; we can't get our men to do it." Another asked 
me how many presiding elders we had in Nebraska, and 
when I told him fourteen, he asked if they all hustled 
round like I did. I told him I hoped they were all doing 
better work than I was. He then said : "That is where 
you beat us, in providing this thorough supervision of 
the work." While the first could think of no explanation, 
the second was only partially correct, though doubtless the 
presiding eldership has been of great value in mustering 
and inspiring and directing the forces. Any complete 
explanation will place first of all the genius and ideals 
of Methodism and the spirit of self-renunciation and en- 
tire devotement to Christ and his cause, and conviction 
of duty, with which every one who enters her ministry 
must be possessed. Without designing, any invidious 
comparison, I venture to give quaint old Father Janney's 
putting of the case : "While some of the other Churches 
when they enter a field, put the emphasis on ministerial 
support, and say a preacher must have sl fair salary, and 
after this is secured, the people may have the Gospel, 
Methodism approaches the same field, putting the em- 
phasis on the needs of the people, saying the people must 
have the Gospel, whether the preacher has a comfortable 
support or not." While this putting of the case may not 
be quite just to some of the other denominations, some 
of which worked side by side with us, their ministers 
making many sacrifices, it certainly puts well the case of 
the Methodistic view of Church work and ministerial 
duty. These preachers must have had a passion for souls, 
and a profound, overmastering conviction of duty. 

All this is referred to as showing the tremendous re- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 225 

sponsibility of the Church to conserve whatever there was 
of the rehgious Hfe among this vast multitude of settlers, 
by hunting them up in the dugouts, organizing them into 
classes, circuits, districts, and Conferences, and supply- 
ing them with pastors. Some of the frontier districts 
when formed included ^ast regions of unorganized work, 
and sometimes less than half of the charges assigned were 
supplied with pastors from the Conference, leaving the 
work of finding men for the balance, and for the settle- 
ments not mentioned, or yet to be made, in the charges 
assigned him, to the presiding elder. Only men of the 
highest executive and organizing ability, with a spirit of 
self-sacrifice and devotion to the work, who would shrink 
from no hardship which the interests of Zion required, 
would meet the demand. They must somehow find the 
men to man this vast field, with little or nothing to ofifer 
in the way of an inducement, unless an opportunity for 
hard work on small pay in laying the foundations of the 
Church would be considered inducements. C. W. Wells, 
who entered the work as we have seen in 1871, and who 
was one of the most faithful and efficient pioneer preach- 
ers we have had, received from the people for the first 
seven years of his work less than an average of $175 a 
year. His experience could be matched by scores of 
others. Can these presiding elders find enough men to 
do this hard work on these hard terms. 

This will be no easy task. When the Beatrice and 
Covington Districts were formed in 1871, and the Kearney 
District in 1873, more than half the charges on each of 
these districts were left to be supplied, and this was true 
of the Kearney District each year throughout A. G. 
White's administration. Where can they find the men? 

226 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Certainly they can not depend on the theological schools 
to turn out enough to supply this demand. Nor will they 
be able to secure the transfer of enough experienced men 
from other Conferences. In nothing has the Meth- 
odist Church showed its hard, sanctified, common sense 
in the administration of its work more than in the policy 
of getting the best material possible, and seizing on the 
best available talent to be had at the time, and by any 
and every means keep" the work going, look after the 
scattered flocks, and get these organized into classes, and 
then get sinners converted. Or, reversing this order, 
have some itinerant or some local or superannuated 
preacher go into neighborhoods where there were no 
members, or not enough to effect an organization, hold a 
revival meeting, and in that way get enough to organize 
a class ; and perhaps extend this process to a number of 
neighborhoods and soon have classes enough to form a 

Methodism's readiness for this great emergency lay 
largely in the fact that in addition to her army of regu- 
lars, which consisted of the efifective members of Con- 
ference, she had provided a great reserve force, consist- 
ing of her local preachers, supplemented in these times 
by the supernumerary and superannuated preachers. 
These may, as compared with the regulars, be called the 
militia, to be called into action on occasions when the 
regulars were not present in sufficient numbers, or not 
available. And the Church hesitated not to call out the 
militia when the battle was on, and the question at issue 
was whether Christ or Satan should have Nebraska. 
True, there were some in this militia that were not so 
well equipped by learning as might be wished, but they 

History of Nebraska ]\1ethodism. 227 

had the root of the matter in them. Though destitute of 
the training of the schools, they showed that they had 
"been with Jesus and had learned of him," and under- 
stood by experience the great plan of salvation. And 
as American independence had been won principally by 
men who were ill clothed, fed, or equipped, according 
to the prevailing military standards of the day, but being 
true patriots and understanding the value of liberty, and 
being led by such men as Washington, achieved success 
in the establishment of the cause of freedom for which 
they contended, so these untrained and poorly equipped 
local preachers, who yet like Stephen, the deacon, being 
"full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles 
among the people," and being skillfully led by such men 
as Davis, Maxfield, Lemon, White, Pritchard, Giddings, 
and Van Doozer, contributed greatly toward the winning 
of that great battle and saving Nebraska for Christ. 


THIRD PERIOD. (1870-1880.) 

In the beginning of this period at the Conference 
held at Fremont, March 31, 1870, only twelve preachers 
answered to roll call, and as there was no note made of 
members coming in later, and no roll of the Conference 
members, it is somewhat difficult to ascertain the exact 
number, but there were probably about twenty-five. This 
number included such men as T. B. Lemon, W. B. 
Slaughter, C. W, Giddings, J. B. Maxfield, David Hart, 
A. L. Folden, Jacob Adriance, J. J. Roberts, Gilbert 
De La Matyr, G. S. Alexander, Martin Pritchard, H. T. 
Davis, A. G. White, Jesse L. Fort, and J. M. Adair, 
many of them intellectual giants, and capable and 
willing to do efficient service. Thirty-four received their 
appointments from Bishop Clark, and eight places were 
left to be supplied. There were 2,670 persons in full 
membership and 876 probationers. There were twenty- 
one churches, valued at $117,000, and fourteen parson- 
ages valued at $15,000. 

Will Methodism be equal to this great emergency, 
and with this little band of thirty-four members of Con- 
ference be able to keep pace with this rapidly advancing 
frontier? Surely it will be tested severely, but as events 
prove, it is equal to the occasion. 

Providentially there were at the beginning of this 
vast movement of population four of the best presiding 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 229 

elders Nebraska IMethodism has ever had, whose four 
districts covered the ground of this advance. The Beat- 
rice District was placed in charge of J. B. Maxfield in 
1 87 1, and included Gage, Jefferson, Saline, York, Thayer, 
Nuckolls, Franklin, and Harlan Counties, and the 
sparsely inhabited but unorganized territory extending to 
the west line of the State. The same year Bishop Ames 
placed H. T. Davis, who was on the Lincoln District, 
in charge of the new settlements along the Burlington 
and ^Missouri River Railroad, which was extending its 
line west from Lincoln to Kearney. A. G. White was 
already on the Omaha District and had jurisdiction over 
the entire length of the Union Pacific Railroad and up 
the Loup River, The Covington District was formed in 
1871 and placed in charge of that natural-born pioneer 
preacher, S. P. Van Doozer. It extended along the north 
tiers of counties in the State, from the Missouri on the 
east, to the limits of settlement in the west, embracing 
about 10,000 square miles. As might be expected, these 
leaders of the past were equal to the demands of the sit- 

Those were trying times for presiding elders, and for 
circuit riders who already had large circuits. Some 
Methodist settler, anxious that he and his few Methodist 
neighbors should be organized into a class and be sup- 
plied with preaching, would beseech the presiding elder 
to send them a preacher, or would visit the nearest cir- 
cuit rider they could hear of and urge him to "come over 
and help." The presiding elder moved by this clamor, 
would sometimes exercise less care than he would other- 
wise have done, and under the pressure of an urgent de- 
mand be tempted to send them the first man he could 

230 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

find, and who would sometimes turn out to be an eccle- 
siastical dead beat, and great harm would follow. Or the 
already overburdened circuit preacher would yield to the 
urgent appeal and launch out into unorganized settle- 
ments and add appointment after appointment to his 
charge, rendering it more difficult to do justice to the 
original appointments. When in the spring of 1871, the 
writer was assigned to Schuyler Circuit, it embraced all 
of Colfax and Butler Counties. He had to cross the 
Platte on a flatboat every alternate week to fill his three 
appointments already existing along the Platte Valley. 
But during that spring and summer all that table-land 
from the Platte Valley to the Blue, and west into Polk 
County and east into Saunders, was settled. The fol- 
lowing incidents will show how the work expanded in 
those days : On one trip during the summer, while 
crossing the river, an elderly man, an entire stranger, ap- 
proached me and asked if I was the preacher on that 
circuit. An affirmative answer brought an urgent re- 
quest that I go over to a new settlement some twelve 
miles southwest, on the table-lands and look after the re- 
ligious interests of some of his sons, with others, who, 
with their families, were located there. There was noth- 
ing to do but to promise, and in a few weeks what is now 
Rising Church was organized, the man making the re- 
quest being old Father Rising, after whom the town was 
named. About the same time, at the close of one of my 
services at the Rosenbaum appointment in the Platte 
Valley, in Butler County, a fine, intelligent looking man 
approached me, introducing himself as a new settler, and 
asked me to make an appointment at his house. The re- 
sult of this interview was that in a short time the David 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 231 

City Church was organized in the unfinished home of 
Captain A. F. Coon, the man who had hunted up the 
itinerant preacher and made the request. 

The problem of gathering up these scattered ]\Ieth- 
odist settlers and organizing them into classes and cir- 
cuits proceeded along two lines, the spontaneous and the 
regular. There had come along with these very settlers 
many local preachers and some superannuated preachers, 
and some of the more zealous of these, seeing the need 
of immediate action, waited not for the coming of the 
presiding elder, but launched out into any unorganized 
territory and began work. 

The regular line of work consisted on the part of 
the presiding elder largely in pushing out himself and 
holding meetings in new settlements and then finding 
some one to supply the work, perhaps some local or super- 
annuated preacher. The first of these movements, in 
order to distinguish it from the usual method, is called 
spontaneous, rather than irregular. In one sense it is 
the regular duty of the local preacher thus to supplement 
the regular. 

It will be interesting and instructive to trace some of 
these spontaneous movements that antedated the com- 
ing and exercise of authority on the part of even these 
vigilant presiding elders. 

A typical case of this kind of work is related by Rev. 
David Fetz, a local preacher at that time, who had set- 
tled in the northern part of Webster County in July, 
1873 ■ "Brother Moses Mapes, a local preacher, and I 
commenced work in the north part of Webster and the 
south part of Adams Counties, extending our work into 
Franklin and Kearney Counties. Wherever we could 

232 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

obtain a place to preach we soon had a class and Sunday- 
school organized. The Lord was with us in great power 
and numbers were converted and added to the Church. 
At Cloverton, in the north part of Webster County, a 
class was organized that year of over fifty members, tak- 
ing in nearly all the inhabitants for eight or ten miles 
around. Also at Daily's ranch, on the Little Blue an- 
other was organized of equal numbers, where infidels 
and skeptics, and all classes, had been swept into the 
kingdom of our Christ. One infidel was converted as he 
lay on his bed at the midnight hour reading his Bible. 
Immediately he arose, went out into the darkness, and 
going from house to house and calling the people out 
to tell them what the Lord had done for his soul. At 
other points equal victories were obtained. No presiding 
elder had reached that part of the country as yet, and 
the Conference knew nothing of our work until the fol- 
lowing year." 

As early as 1869 that consecrated apostle. Rev. James 
Query, a local preacher, had preached the first sermon in 
Polk County, in (now) Governor J. H. Mickey's house, 
and organized the first class in Polk County, consisting 
of James Query and wife, J. H. Mickey and wife, Mrs. 
A. Roberts, Mrs. Jane Clark, and V. P. Davis and wife. 
The class was attached to the Seward County Circuit. 
This same James Query performed the first marriage 
ceremony ever solemnized in Polk County. In his report 
to the Conference of 1872, H. T. Davis, presiding elder, 
says of this zealous local preacher: "Brother James 
Query, a local preacher, organized this year a work on 
the Upper Blue, in Polk County, and reported to me 130 
members, including probationers, two Sabbath-schools 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 233 

with sixty scholars. Assisted by George and Joshua 
Worley (also local preachers) a most gracious revival of 
religion took place and some sever;ty-five souls were con- 
verted to God, including some of the most influential citi- 
zens 01 Polk County. They desire the Conference to send 
them a preacher." This is the cry that came up from 
many settlements at that time. 

The mention of the Worleys brings to view two local 
preachers that wrought diligently and efficiently in lay- 
ing the foundations of our Zion in the country contigu- 
ous to their homesteads, including portions of Lancaster, 
Saunders, Seward, Butler, and Polk Counties. The two 
older Worleys, George and Joshua, were constantly on 
the lookout for openings, and were constantly finding 
them, where they might hold a meeting and organize a 
class. Sometimes they were temporarily employed by 
the presiding elder, as supplies, but more frequently as- 
serted their right to pre-empt any unclaimed territory 
not occupied by the regularly appointed itinerant, and 
there raise the standard of King Immanucl, and take pos- 
session for Christ and the Church. 

At Norfolk, W. G. Beels and John Allberry, local 
preachers, held the fort in Madison County till the regu- 
larly appointed minister came, or like Charles G. Rouse, 
assumed the aggressive and pushed out into new settle- 
ments, held revival-meetings, and organized and laid the 
foundation ready for the itinerant when he came. Or 
A. C. Butler in Cedar and Dixon Counties, in the ex- 
treme north, who organized the first Sunday-school in 
the Morton neighborhood, near where Hartington now 
stands, and afterwards going along with W. H. Carter 
into some neglected neighborhoods west of Hartington, 

'234 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

held revival-meetings, resulting in the organization of 
the Oliver appointment on the Wausa Charge, with sev- 
enty members and a church. 

Thus these zealous local preachers and devoted super- 
annuates, who were willing, and capable of doing the 
work needed at that time, were gladly utilized by these 
wise presiding elders, and they actually did much of the 
work of organizing the Church, work that could not pos- 
sibly have been done when it needed to be done, but for 
their help. 

This will be a suitable place to speak more fully of 
the Worley family, a family that has played an impor- 
tant part in the history of Nebraska Methodism. 

Besides these years of faithful and efficient service 
by these two brothers, George and Joshua Worley, both 
local preachers, it was the privilege of George Worley 
to give three sons to the Methodist ministry, who in both 
the home and foreign fields have wrought efficiently for 
many years. William McKendree Worley, the oldest of 
these, was born in Vermilion County, Illinois, Decem- 
ber 23, 1839, father and grandfather being stanch Meth- 
odists. He was converted at the age of fourteen, anrl 
soon became class-leader and Sunday-school superin- 
tendent in his home Church. 

On the i8th of April, 1861. he enlisted in Company 
C, Twelfth Illinois Infantry, for a term of three months ; 
was mustered into the United States service May 2d, at 
Camp Yates, Springfield, Illinois, by Captain U. S. Grant. 
He afterwards re-enlisted in the 135th Illinois Infantry, 
and was finally mustered out of the service September 
28, 1864. 

Brother Worley removed to Nebraska in May, 1867. 

History of Nebraska ^Methodism. 235 

He was licensed to preach by Rev. C. W. Giddings, pre- 
siding elder of Lincoln District. He served one year as 
supply and junior preacher on the North and West Blue 
Circuit, which embraced all of Butler. Polk, Hamil- 
ton, York, and Seward Counties, and part of Saline 
County. There were twenty-two appointments on the 

He was the first ]\Iethodist to preach in York Countv. 
The service was held at the home of Mr. Anderson, a few 
miles west of Beaver Crossing. Besides sixty-two dol- 
lars which he received from the missionary appropria- 
tion to that circuit, he received eleven dollars in money, 
five of which was paid by J. H. Mickey. In addition to 
this he received one pair of socks. There was but one 
school-house on the entire circuit, so of course the serv- 
ices had to be held in the private homes of the people at 
a time when these homes consisted of dugouts and sod 
houses, and rarely had more than one room. 

What he regarded as the greatest misfortune that 
came to him during that year was the loss of his saddle- 
bags and their contents while swimming Plum Creek, 
fifteen miles north of Seward. The contents consisted of 
a pair of socks, a Bible, Discipline, Wesley's "Plain Ac- 
count of Christian Perfection," and Fletcher's Appeal. 
This is doubtless a fair sample of an itinerant's library, 
and the swimming of the stream, not an uncommon ex- 
perience in those days of bridgeless streams. 

Brother Worley was received on trial in 1873, and has 
had success on all the many charges he has served dur- 
ing his long career. New churches have been organized 
at Roca and Bancroft, and at Covington, Schuyler, 
Seward Street, Omaha, and other points, old debts have 

236 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

been paid and churches built at Alder Grove, Bancroft, 
Richland, and a new parsonage at Lyons. 

There was some revival interest on every charge he 
served, and on some there were gracious revivals. At 
Albion a great revival occurred during Brother Worley's 
pastorate that brought into the Church such men as Dr. 
Lewis. C. G. Barns, and others, who proved to be a 
progressive element that has ever since carried the 
Church forward on lines of steady and healthy progress. 

Brother Worley represented the North Nebraska 
Conference in the General Conference of 1888. In 1895 
he was transferred to the Nebraska Conference and has 
been tmiformly successful in the successive pastorates 
assigned him, and he is yet hale, hearty, and cheerful, 
after a third of a century in the Christian ministry. He 
was married to Miss Frances T. Worrell in 1874, and 
she has proved a faithful Methodist itinerant's wife 
through all these years, 

Thomas, another one of the Rev. George Worley's 
"boys," was born in Vermilion County, Illinois, October 
II, 1852, and converted in 1865. He was educated at 
the State University, and after two years at Garrett Bibli- 
cal School, was received on trial in 1876. After several 
years of efficient service in Nebraska, he was sent as a 
missionary to Central China, where he remained a few 
years and returned to the work in Nebraska. 

Thomas Worley has done excellent work on many of 
the successive important charges he has served, and is 
now pastor at Weeping Water, where the old stone 
church built by Andrew L. Folden thirty years before 
was enlarged and remodeled at a cost of some $7,000. 

Jas. H. Worley, the third son given by George Wor- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 237 

ley to the ministry, was born May 17, 1854, and was also 
educated in the State University. At about the tinie 
James Worley was taking his course, there occurred the 
effort elsewhere referred to, to turn the institution over 
to infidel influence, and had so far succeeded that it be- 
came a hand to hand contest between St. Paul's Church 
and the infidel professors, who should have the boys and 
girls. Mrs. Roberts, Mrs. Hyde, Mrs. Peckham, and 
other elect ladies of the Church, found in James Worley 
one of the most efficient helpers, being their missionary 
to the students, carrying their invitations to attend so- 
cials at their homes and to come into their classes in the 

He was received on trial in the Nebraska Conference 
in 1880, and was sent as a missionary to China in 1882, 
to which field he has given twenty-two years. He was 
for seven years principal of the Theological Seminary at 
Foochow, and has been the rest of the time in evangelis- 
tic work. He was the delegate from Foochow Confer- 
ence to the General Conference in 1900. He is now pre- 
siding elder of a district, and in a letter to the writer, 
joins with all the other missionaries in noting a mar- 
velous change taking place in old China, presaging great 
events in the near future, which will accrue to the more 
rapid advance of missionary work. 

It has been given to but few men to do more for the 
cause of Christ by their own personal work in the local 
ranks, and to give to the Church three ministers whose 
influence has been as great on both sides of the globe. 

While these spontaneous activities of faithful local 
preachers were valued, and always recognized and in- 
corporated in the system, they were the exception, and in 


238 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

their nature temporary. These enterprising' presiding 
elders were on the constant lookout for these new settle- 
ments and were kept posted in various ways as to tlie 
needs and possibilities of the work, and were not long in 
finding some one to supply the field. 

Thus word came to Dr. Maxfield, who in 1871 had 
been placed in charge of Beatrice District, then a frontier 
district, that a man was needed on the Republican, and 
C. W. Wells was sent. 

The appointment and work of Brother C. W. Wells 
on the frontier being a typical one, is well worthy of a 
somewhat detailed statement, which will best be told in 
his own language, as recorded in his very valuable and 
intensely interesting book, "Frontier Life," prefacijig his 
own statement of the case by a few preliminary and ex- 
planatory facts. In 1 871 Rev. C. W. Comstock had been 
appointed to the Republican Valley Circuit, but after a 
brief visit to the country he became discouraged and re- 
turned as far as Fairbury, to which Brother Wells had 
been appointed, saying in explanation that he did not like 
to stay in a country where he had to carry a revolver, 
accompanying the remark by an exhibition of such a 
weapon. But people were beginning to crowd into the 
Republican Valley and must be cared for. Dr. Maxfield 
wrote Brother Wells that there were Methodists at Red 
Cloud, and asked if he would go out and look after 
them, adding, "There is no use sending C, I want some 
one who has sand in his craw." Recognizing this essen- 
tial quality in Brother Wells he asked him, and Brother 
Wells possessing the quality in rare degree, went, though 
at great sacrifice. It may be remarked in passing that 
while Brother Wells has put in many years of valuable 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 239 

work, and is now an lionored superannuated member of 
the Nebraska Conference, Comstock, after a few years of 
inefficient work, dropped out entirely and has long since 
been forgotten. The frontier service tended to sift the 
ranks of the itinerancy and usually all but those who had 
the requisite "sand in their craw" dropped out. Refer- 
ring to this willingness of Brother Wells to go to this 
hard field, Dr. Maxfield says in his next report to Con- 
ference, "God's blessing rests upon men who shake hands 
with ease and comfort, bidding them farewell and taking 
their lives in their hands, thus go forth bearing the pre- 
cious seed." 

But we must let Brother Wells tell his own story of 
his experiences during his pastorate there, as recorded on 
pages 190 to 193 : 

"Now came the tug of war with real frontier work in 
the ministry. For the first months my time was princi- 
pally spent in looking over the country for Christian peo- 
ple and for houses to preach in. Soon after reaching Red 
Cloud an appointment was made at Brother Penny's, 
about four miles southwest of town, and at Brother 
Knight's, some five miles from Red Cloud up the valley, 
and another one about eight miles southeast of town. 

"At the Penny appointment preaching was in Brother 
Penny's house, which was a log building with a roof of 
'shakes' split from the native oak-trees on his own place. 
Here I had a good preaching point during my entire 
pastorate on the charge. At Red Cloud I procured a 
vacant log building, which 1 occupied for a short time, 
then preached in Mr. Garber's store-room for a while; 
after this I moved into a dug-out in the south part of 
town, which shall be noticed further on. At the Knight 

240 History of Nebraska AIethgdism. 

appointment I preached in Brother Knight's house, and, 
if I remember correctly, it was covered with poles and 
dirt, and had a floor of native soil. Here, as previously, 
we sang, prayed, preached, ate, and slept all in the same 
room, and had a glorious, good time. At the appoint- 
ment southeast of Red Cloud we had preaching and Sun- 
day-school in a dug-out in the bank of a creek, where we 
worshiped the Lord in the winter season, and in the sum- 
mer we worshiped under the branches of two large oaK- 
trees. Under these native trees I preached, held Sunday- 
school, and we made the woods and hills ring with our 
songs of praise and plain Gospel sermons. I often won- 
der if the echo of my voice is not still heard in that new 
country. The many happy hours I spent among those 
warm-hearted early settlers in dug-outs and sod houses 
will never be forgotten. They will be held in sweet re- 
membrance as long as I live. 

The house where I boarded was about as good as the 
country afforded at that time, and yet it was a very un- 
comfortable place in cold, stormy weather. Alany times 
I have sat poring over my books while the snow sifted 
through the roof upon them, and I was compelled to 
throw something over my shoulders and sit in a stoop- 
ing posture in order to keep my books from being soiled. 
Though the house was open to the cold, we could keep 
comfortably warm, for we were blessed with plenty of 
wood and a large fireplace. I say plenty of wood ; there 
was plenty close by, but much of the time I carried it 
from the grove on my own shoulders. In cold weather, 
Brother Penny was usually on the road teaming, and left 
me to replenish the woodpile without a team. 

"Another burden was imposed upon me. A good 

HisTOR.Y OF Nebraska Methodism. 241 

brother who lived a mile from my boarding place was 
compelled to leave home and find work, that he mig-ht 
provide bread for his family. While he was away there 
came a heavy fall of snow. The weather grew exceed- 
ingly cold and the fuel he had provided for his family 
w^as entirely consumed. As there was no other man near, 
it fell to my lot to replenish this brother's wood-pile also, 
and keep his family from freezing. He had drawn up a 
lot of ash poles for fencing, which I converted into stove- 
wood, and, on his return he found his fencing had been 
burned to ashes. There is a vast difference between act- 
ing the part of a city pastor and preaching on a large 
circuit in the frontier work. While the city pastor is sit- 
ting in his cozy study at home, the frontier preacher is 
perusing his books in a cold room, with the family of 
children about him, or traveling through deep snow to 
meet his appointments, or to relieve the sick and desti- 
tute. Yet there is a glory in laying the foundation of our 
beloved Zion in a new country that many of our East- 
ern preachers know nothing of. I have no disposition to 
envy the comparatively easy lot of our Eastern brethreji ; 
but I do sympathize with them in their loss of the glory 
there is in laying the foundation Church in the new fields, 
upon which others may build. 

"In all my travels on that large circuit at Red Cloud, 
through the snow and cold, piercing winds of winter^ I 
neither had an under-garment nor an overcoat. Being 
born a backwoodsman, I did not mind such things as one 
who had been used to the comforts of life. On this charge 
I had some difficulty in finding houses to preach in ; for 
when first going to the place there were no school-houses 
in all the country; so I preached in private houses, hop- 

242 History of Nebraska Me;thodism. 

ing for the time when my congregation could have even 
a sod school-house to worship in. Even in the town of 
Red Cloud I was compelled to resort to a little dug-out 
on the outskirts of the village, where we held a series of 
meetings which resulted in great good for the Master's 
cause. Let the pastors of the present-day beautiful 
churches in Red Cloud rejoice that they are so comforta- 
bly situated, and remember that the first pastor and his 
little flock in that now flourishing town, preached, sang, 
and prayed in a small dug-out in the ground. 

"On first coming to this country, I found Indians, 
buffaloes, deer, antelopes, turkeys, thousands of prairie- 
dogs, and a few white men with their families. What a 
change has taken place in that country in so short a tim.-? ! 
Then it was new, wild, and desolate ; now it is well set- 
tled, rich, and a fertile country, with school-houses and 
churches ; and fine residences have taken the place of the 
dug-out, the sod-house, and the log-cabin. The first win- 
ter I spent there I killed twelve wild turkeys, two of 
which were shot from the window of my room. Besides 
these, Brother Penny killed some seven or eight. So you 
see the wild turkey took the place of yellow-legged 
chicken. Then, occasionally, some chanced to kill a deer 
or buffalo, which went far toward supplying the table 
with meat the entire year. 

"During the winter we held a revival-meeting in our 
dug-out church, eight miles southeast of Red Cloud. 
Though worshiping under ground, there were many souls 
saved and made happy in the Lord, and there was a 
glorious awakening among the people of God. Truly 
the Lord is not confined to the large assemblies, the city- 
full, or the fine churches, but meets and blesses his peo- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 243 

pie in the dug-out, the sod house, and the log-cabin. O 
what a wonderful God is our God, who heareth the 
prayers of His people at all times and in all places ! 

"In the spring of 1872 I finished my first year's work 
in the Conference, and on the Red Cloud Circuit, and 
went to Conference to report my charge. Traveling from 
Red Cloud to the seat of Conference, a distance of a hun- 
dred and fifty miles or more, through mud, rain, and cold, 
I reported as follows : Full members, twenty-three ; pro- 
bationers, six ; received on salary from the circuit, thirty- 
two dollars; from the Missionary Society, $150 — making 
$182 for the year. The bishop returned me to the Red 
Cloud Circuit, where I spent another year of toil and hard- 
ship, worrying through the year about as I did the pre- 
vious one. During the warm season I had a good and 
enjoyable time in traveling up and down the valley and 
across the prairie with my horse and buggy ; but in the 
snow and severe winds of winter, being poorly clad, 1 
suffered intensely from the cold. During this year a 
class was formed at Guide Rock, which was made a reg- 
ular preaching point, though there were but few Meth- 
odists at the place or within reach of it. I now had five 
preaching points on the charge, which gave me abun- 
dance of work. 

"In the summer of 1872 we held a camp-meeting 
southwest of Red Cloud, on what was called Penny 
Creek. Here we had a successful meeting, and received 
some fifteen into the Church on probation, and the pre- 
siding elder, J. B. Maxfield, baptized a number of con- 
verts in the Republican River — the first Methodists bap- 
tized in that river in Nebraska. 

"During the week of our camp-meeting a heavy rain- 

244 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

storm visited the camp, saturating the ground to such a 
degree that it was unfit for use ; so the presiding elder 
and I, with a few of the brethren, went on a buffalo hunt. 
We hunted all day without seeing any game, and came 
home tired and hungry, as hunters usually do. But the 
elder and the brethren went out the second time with bet- 
ter results. /Vfter hunting a few hours in the morning, 
they came upon their game, wounded a large male buffalo 
and chased him for several miles. He ran until he could 
or would go no farther, and then seemed determined to 
defend himself. Halting not far from where two young 
men were in camp, he unmistakably showed signs of 
fight. On seeing that he would go no farther, one of the 
young men, taking his gun, walked out toward him. As 
he was approaching the beast one of our men called to 
him not to go too close or he might be hurt. Paying 
no attention to the warning, he went on, swearing that 
he would kill the animal. When within a few .rods of 
the enraged beast, he presented his gun for firing; but 
the buffalo made a lunge for him, caught and crushed 
him to the ground, and threw him five or six feet into 
the air. As he came to the ground the buffalo prepared 
for another attack, when one of our men shot the beast 
through the heart, killing him instantly. The young man 
was taken to his camp and died there. Our men dressed 
the buffalo and returned to the camp-ground with enough 
beef to supply every person there for more than a week. 
Our camp-meeting closed with the good results already 
mentioned, and every one went home greatly benefited by 
having attended. The presiding elder, J. B. Maxfield, 
and a family by the name of Hurlburt came to this camp- 
meeting from Fairbury, nearly eighty miles distant, in a 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 245 

covered wagon. Thus the reader can see something uf 
the presiding elder's work and what he passed through in 
the early days of Methodism in this new country. Brother 
Maxfield's district extended from somewhere east of 
Beatrice as far west as the Nebraska line, a distance of 
more than three hundred miles, though he was not re- 
quired to go so far west ; for as yet much of the country 
was unsettled." 

What Brother Wells and George W. Hummel were 
doing in the Republican Valley, others of like spirit were 
doing all along the line. About this time the tide of im- 
migration was pouring into all the country west of the 
Big Blue, and in 1871 Bishop Ames placed the terri- 
tory contiguous to the B. & M. R. R., which was being 
built from Lincoln to Kearney, in the care of H. T. Davis, 
then presiding elder of the Lincoln District. He pro- 
cured the services of Rev. G. W. Gue, a transfer from 
Central Illinois Conference, to organize the work in Fill- 
more County. Brother Gue was a man of fine culture 
and high, scholarly attainments. He went to work with 
a will, visiting the people in their sod houses, and or- 
ganizing them into classes, and soon formed a circuit. 
Perhaps no part of Nebraska has been settled with people 
of a higher grade of intelligence than those that speedily 
occupied the table-lands extending west of the Big Blue 
to Adams and Hamilton Counties. They were ambitious 
and enterprising and in nine months after the first settle- 
ment of Fairmont, Brother Gue had a church well under 
way. The next year Brother Gue was appointed to First 
Church, Omaha, and seemed equally at home in either 

In Clay County, Newman Brass was doing the same 

246 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

kind of work, hunting up tlie Methodists that were conn- 
ing in and organizing them. Others were doing the Sam's- 
in York, Butler, and Polk Counties. 


If we are to judge of the value of the work accom- 
plished in those early days by the subsequent growth of 
the Church, no more important work was done in 1871, 
than when the York Church was organized. Of the or- 
ganization of this important charge, H. T. Davis gives 
this interesting account : "The first Methodist class was 
organized at the house of David Baker in the spring of 
1871, and was composed of the following persons: Da- 
vid Baker, Elvira Baker, J. H. Bell, Thomas Bassett, L. 
D. Brakeman, Ella Brakeman, Sarah N. Moore, Thomas 
Myres, John Murphy, Mary Murphy, S. W. Pettis, and 
Mrs. Shackelford. Brother Baker was the leader. At 
Brother Baker's house the class was regularly held ; and 
here the traveling preacher always found a royal wel- 
come. The home of Brother and Sister Baker was al- 
ways open to newcomers, and Father and Mother Baker 
were household names in every settler's cabin in York 
County for many years. In 1872 the writer had the 
privilege of sharing their hospitality, and after remaining 
over night with the kind family, in the morning Brother 
Baker ferried me over Beaver Creek in a sorghum-pan. 
The stream was high and could not be forded, and there 
was no bridge, so the only way of crossing was in thl:: 
unique boat." 

But before the organization referred to by Dr. Davis 
W. E. Morgan, a graduate of Garrett Biblical Institute, 
had preached in Father Baker's sod house on the 14th r • 

History oj? Nebraska Methodism. 247 

May. He afterwards served as pastor for several years. 
Doubtless the location of our Conference school at 
York in 1879 tended to strengthen our Church, attract- 
ing as it did many Methodist families. During the ex- 
istence of the school, under the pastorates of W. S. Black- 
burn, George A. Smith. H. T. Davis, Duke Slavens, and 
W. K. Beans, the membership increased from 140 to 568. 

W. S. Blackburn was pastor at York at the time the 
school was located there, and it was largely through his 
influence that this action was taken. Of course, before 
this action, York had the reputation of being one of the 
most moral communities in the State. Up to that time, 
and ever since, they had kept the saloon out, and this 
had much weight in determining the Conference to locate 
at York. Though soon after the location of Wesleyan 
at Lincoln, the York College ceased to be, the Methodist 
Church had already acquired such strength that this fact 
did not check its growth, but it kept on growing under 
the successive pastorates of Hilton, Crosthwaite, and 
Stewart, until the present pastor, in his sixth year of a 
successful pastorate, finds himself the pastor of the third 
largest Alethodist Episcopal Church in Nebraska, with 
nearly 800 members. The two which excel it numeric- 
ally are St. Paul's Church, Lincoln, and University Place. 

It would be interesting if space permitted to give the 
life history of each of the men who have wrought in the 
building up of so strong and influential a Church as that 
at York. But this is impossible, and we must be content 
with the mere mention of the names, except in a few 
cases of long service to the Church in Nebraska. Of 
Davis and Crosthwaite mention has been made on other 

248 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

W. S. Blackburn was born in Westmoreland County, 
Pennsylvania, September 11, 1830. He first became con- 
scious of the love of God in his heart when eight years 
of age, but childhood conversion received less recognition 
then, and he was not encouraged in his religious life and 
fell into spiritual darkness. This continued until he was 
fifteen years of age, when he was clearly converted, and 
has since that day to this, "witnessed a good confession." 

After spending some time at Allegheny College -he 
was, at the age of nineteen, without solicitation on his 
part, licensed to exhort by his Quarterly Conference, and 
was at once assigned work in a destitute neighborhood 
and soon had, as seals to his ministry, twenty souls con- 
verted. He was soon licensed to preach, and on the i8th 
of June, 1 85 1, he was admitted on trial in the Pittsburg 
Conference, and began a successful ministerial career of 
over half a century. 

In June, 1854, Eliza Jane Wakefield, the granddaugh- 
ter of a pioneer Methodist minister, became his life com- 
panion, and from that day to this she has devoted her life 
to the work required of a minister's wife, with an en- 
thusiasm and efficiency which has largely contributed to 
the successes which mark her husband's ministerial ca- 

Pronounced unfit for service in the Union army in 
1 86 1 as a common soldier, he later waived an appoint- 
nient as chaplain in favor of his junior colleague. Soon 
thereafter he took work with the Christian Commission 
and spent a term in that important auxiliary service, min- 
istering to the physical wants of the sick and dying sol- 
diers, pointing them to the Savior and seeing many a 
brave boy die with the love of the Redeemer quickening 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 249 

his departing soul and banishing the sting of death and 
the terror of the grave. 

For sixteen years Mr. Blackburn was a member of 
the Pittsburg Conference, and on every charge his pas- 
sion for soul saving was rewarded with conversions. In 
the fall of 1867 a transfer was taken to the Nebraska 
Conference, and for the next twenty-seven years this pio- 
neer pastor colabored with those grand old evangelists, 
Lemon, Pritchard, Slaughter, Giddings, Burch, Davis, 
Maxfield. and others, serving the Church in pastorates at 
Brownville, Rulo, Salem, Athens, London, Auburn. 
Plattsmouth, and York, in the original Nebraska Con- 
ference, and in West Nebraska Conference, at Axtell, 
Benkleman, Culbertson, Gering, and Republican. 

Always frail in body, he believed a change of climate 
and rest would benefit him. He went to California and 
spent a couple of years, during which time he served San 
Miguel. Finding himself renewed in strength he re- 
turned to Nebraska, and at Republican City, in West Ne- 
braska, in the State to which he had given over twenty- 
five of his best years in a faithful, efficient service, he 
fittingly rounds out his half century in the Christian min- 
istry by a pastorate attended by old-time revival power 
and the conversion of souls. He returned to California, 
and he and his saintly wife are spending a happy, peace- 
ful old age, serenely waiting the summons that shall call 
them up higher. In closing a letter to his son, T. W. 
Blackburn, a prominent lawyer of Omaha, he says : 

"With a heart glowing with gratitude to the Infinite 
Father, that He has given me so long a life of service in 
the ministry and that He has crowned my more than 
threescore and ten years with His loving kindness, strong 

250 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

in the faith that came to me in childhood, happy in the 
njemories of half a century in the itinerancy, and confi- 
dent that God will welcome me home in His own good 
time, I here expect to spend the remnant of my days and 
from this city at His call to remove to the city not made 
with hands, whose builder and maker is God." 

Another strong man who wrought in the rearing of 
the goodly structure of York Methodism, was J. W. 
Stewart, during whose pastorate the Church passed 
through a severe crisis in the loss by fire of the beautiful 
structure that had been erected during the pastorate of 
H. T. Davis. Of this great calamity the local historian, 
Mrs. Sarah N. Moore, gives this pathetic description : 
"One calm, beautiful night in October, the i6th, 1895, 
while prayer-meeting was in session in the lecture-room, 
fire was steadily making its way through the roof of the 
building, and by the time it was discovered it was too 
late to save the building, and while members and friends 
stood by and watched with tears running down their 
cheeks and exclamations of sorrow and regret coming 
from their lips, our beautiful church home was burned 
to the ground. We were bereft indeed, for was it not the 
second year of the drouth, and how could we ever re- 
build? It'was deemed an impossibility. 

"Our sister congregations offered to share their church 
homes with us, but our membership was large, and it 
was thought best to secure a room, though it might be 
small and inconvenient, where we might hold regular 
services without interfering with the rights of others. 
As in the early days, there was no room suitable for a 
place of worship. But the Sunday after the fire found 
the congregation assembled in an empty store room on the 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 251 

south side of the square, fitted up with a pulpit, a few 
pews, and the organ, which had been saved from the fire, 
and chairs sufficient for the seating capacity. We had 
a stirring sermon from the pastor. Brother Stewart, and 
at the close an appeal for money to rebuild the church, 
and in an incredible short time $6,000 had been sub- 
scribed, and it was settled that the Methodist Episcopal 
Church of York would not be homeless for a very long 

Thus John W. Stewart successfully led the Church 
of York through this fiery trial at a time when the finan- 
cial conditions throughout the entire country were de- 
pressed, and a severe drouth in Nebraska had intensified 
these unfavorable conditions to such an extent as to make 
the building of such a church as York needed to seem 
to the people an impossibility. But this incident is char- 
acteristic of the man and of his entire career. 

He entered the ministry forty-six years ago, in 1858, 
in the Central Blinois Conference, but wdien the war 
broke out he enlisted in the service of his country, hold- 
ing the rank of major. After discharging his duty to his 
country, he resumed his place in the ministry, and in 
1874 was transferred to the Nebraska Conference. 

George A. Smith became a member of the Wisconsin 
Conference in 1858, and gave over twenty years to the 
ministry in that Conference before coming to Nebraska 
in 1880. He stood high in a Conference of svich men as 
W. G. Miller, Coleman, George C. Haddock, the martyr, 
and others. Since coming to Nebraska he has served the 
prosperous and important charges of York and Fair- 
mont. But recognizing his superior ability as a preacher, 
and his sound judgment, the Church soon called him to 

252 History op' Nebraska Methodism. 

the presiding eldership of the Lincohi District, and then 
to the Nebraska City District. 

A sad misunderstanding of the situation in relation to 
our University matters that were at that time very com- 
plicated, led Bishop Warren to remove him from the 
latter district before his six years expired. The bishop 
was manly enough to afterward acknowledge his mistake 
and the wrong he had done to one of God's purest min- 
isters. In 1892 he asked and received a superannuated 
relation, and has since lived in University Place. But he 
has not been idle during these years of his retirement, 
but often supplies the pulpit for his pastor, and always 
to the delight and profit of his hearers. Though past 
seventy, his sermons are still delivered with much force, 
and contain many passages of rare beauty and originality, 
reminding us of the days when he was a great power in 
the pulpit and the counsels of the Church. 

He has also spent much of this quiet evening of his 
life in literary work, and has written and published a vol- 
ume of poems, "Evening Bells," in which the sweetness 
of his own inner life finds tender expression, and other 
lives are being enriched. Though afflicted with partial 
deafness, he is happily spending his declining years along 
with his devoted wife and accomplished daughter, 
Mamie, a teacher in the music department of Nebraska 

About the same time that George A. Smith came to 
Nebraska, another of Wisconsin's strong men came, in 
the person of Dr. W. G. Miller, being transferred to the 
Nebraska Conference in 1879. Beginning his ministry 
in 1844, it w^as his privilege to give a half century in 
this blessed work, fifteen of which were given to Ne- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 253 

braska. Death closed his long and useful career in 1893, 
and his brethren place on record the following brief sum- 
mary of his life and work, and also these fitting words 
of appreciation of his worth : 

"Wesson Gage ^^liller was born in Otsego County, 
New York, February 8, 1822, and died in University 
Place, Nebraska, December 20, 1893. His youth was 
spent in New York and in the summer of 1844 he settled 
in \\'aupun, \\'isconsin, and went into business. He soon 
dropped secular pursuits and entered the ministry. His 
first circuit, Waupun, had twenty-two appointments re- 
quiring two services daily to reach all the points in two 
weeks. His next appointment was Watertow'n, where 
he performed the double duty of pastor and teacher. His 
third appointment was Waukesha, 'and his fourth Grand 
Avenue, Milwaukee. At the age of twenty-eight he was 
appointed presiding elder of Fond du Lac District and 
served for four years. He then served a pastorate of 
two years each at Racine and Janesville, after which he 
served Milwaukee District four years and pastor in Mil- 
waukee three years. He was again appointed to Fond 
du Lac and Ripon and again, in 1872, to Milwaukee. 
April 26, 1874, during the delivery of a sermon, he was 
taken violently ill with a serious nervous prostration 
which caused him to retire for two and one-half years. On 
his recovery he was again appointed to ^lilwaukee, and in 
1879 Bishop Harris transferred him to the Nebraska Con- 
ference and appointed him presiding elder of Omaha Dis- 
trict, which he served two years, when the Conference 
was divided and he was appointed to York District for 
four years, and finally to the Lincoln District for six 
years, when he retired from the active work of tbe min- 


254 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

istry, but continued to render what service he could to 
the University of whose Board of Trustees he was the 
president. All through his busy life he rendered much 
valuable service to the Church besides that assigned him 
by the Conference, especially in connection with the work 
of Christian education and the dedication of churches. 
Dr. Miller was an able preacher, a faithful pastor, a 
wise administrator and a warm friend to whom none 
need ever come in vain. He attended the Conference last 
September at Beatrice and made a touching address 
which all felt were farewell words. His last weeks he 
patiently waited for the summons to call him home. His 
work abides to bless the world. His memory is precious ; 
may his mantle fall upon us who remain." 

THIRD PERIOD. (1870-1880.) 

If we turn our eyes to the north part of the State we 
find the same process going on, though the number of 
immigrants is not so great. As early as 1868 the rich 
Logan Valley began to be settled as far north as the 
Omaha Indian Reservation. The first Methodist preacher 
to go as far as Lyons was Jesse W. Perkins, then a local 
preacher, who organized the Church at that point in No- 
vember, 1870. The first members were : Joel S. Yeaton, 
Susan Yeaton, John Armstrong, Roseanne Armstrong, 
Adam Hetzler, Adelia Hetzler, Charles Shaw, Theresa 
Shaw, Albert and Hattie Thomas. Brother Perkins also 
organized the class at Alder Grove in southeast part of 
Burt County. 

North of the Omaha Indian Reservation, at what at 
first was called Omadi, and afterwards Dakota City, an 
appointment had been maintained from 1856 up to 1867 
and then drops out, to reappear in 1870, with that man 
of consecrated push, courage, and tact, S. P. Van Doozer, 
as pastor, whose fiery missionary zeal reaches up the Mis- 
souri River twenty miles and takes in Ponca, besides 
other points in the surrounding country, and according to 
the report of his presiding elder, A. G. White, was re- 
warded with an increase of 500 per cent in the member- 
ship, and according to the list of appointments the suc- 
ceeding year, was himself justly rewarded by being 


256 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

placed in charge of the Covington District. As might be 
expected the event proved the selection to be wise, his 
tireless energy, resourceful tact, and warm-hearted sym- 
pathy for preachers and people made him the man for 
the time and peculiar needs of the situation. There be- 
ing no railroads, all his quarterly-meetings must be 
reached by private conveyance, involving sometimes 
travel of hundreds of miles and weeks of absence from 
home. He is verily another of those heroic spirits to 
whom will fitly apply the words by which as we have 
seen. Dr. IMaxfield described C. W. Wells, being one of 
the men who "shake hands with ease and comfort, bid- 
ding them farewell, and taking their lives in their hands, 
go forth bearing the precious seed." 

These high qualities were destined to be frequently 
called into action and subjected to the severest tests dur- 
ing his term of service. He will find but one organized 
charge as far west as Cedar County. Old St. James 
Class had been formed by an elderly preacher named 
Brown, as early as 1868, and had as one of the charter 
members Mrs. O. D. Smith, of precious memory. But 
about this time settlers began pouring into the southern 
parts of Dixon and Cedar Counties, penetrating as far as 
Wayne, Knox, Pierce, Madison, Boone, and Antelope 
Counties, all embraced in the Covington District. All 
these must be cared for and organized and it will tax 
even S. P. Van Doozer to keep up with the rapidly ad- 
vancing tide. 

Of some of S. P. Van Doozer's experiences on this 
district, his devoted wife writes me as follows : 

''For four years and a half Mr. Van Doozer seemed 
like a stranger to his family, being gone nearly all of 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 257 

the time, often being absent seven weeks on one trip. 
So much of a stranger was he that his first baby boy re- 
fused to notice him, and we always had trouble in the 
family when the papa came home. 

"I am sure only God and Mr. Van Doozer knew the 
hardships of that new unorganized district during those 
years. Quarterly-meetings were held in sod school- 
houses, dug-outs, on the prairies in tents, or under a 
clump of Cottonwood trees. He could always find a place 
to hold quarterly-meeting, 'Nothing daunting or making 
afraid.' On one of these long trips in the cool fall, he 
swam the Elkhorn River seven times to get his team and 
buggy with its contents over. The quarterly-meeting was 
held as per appointment and a grand spiritual feast was 
enjoyed. After giving me the details, he said, 'I brought 
home the quarterly collection to you.' 'How kind of you !' 
Drawing it from his pocket he handed me two copper 
pennies. 'Poor pay, do n't you think,' said I. 'No,' he 
replied, 'I held the quarterly-meeting in a poorly kept 
dug-out, all for Jesus' sake. He was with us in fullness 
of power. I was well paid.' " 

The work on the district progressed, as each Confer- 
ence report gave proof. I question if any Methodist 
Episcopal minister had as great a variety of experience. 
He was obliged to cross the Indian Reservation going 
over his district. A good story is remembered by those 
people of a horse trade he made with an Indian, in which 
the Indian got the best of the preacher. 

After four years of aggressive leadership, S. P. Van 
Doozer retires from the North Nebraska District, and in 
his report for 1875 makes this summary of results: 
"When the district was formed, four years ago last 

258 History of Nebraska Methodism, 

spring, there were nine charges, now there are seventeen, 
including one consolidation. Then there were two 
churches, one at Covington, valued at $2,000, and one at 
Decatur, valued at $1,500 ($3,500), which is too high 
by $1,000; now there are eight churches, whose proba- 
ble value is $12,000. Then there was one parsonage val- 
ued at $600 ; now there are eight parsonages, whose prob- 
able value is not less than $3,000, making an increase of 
six churches and six parsonages, with an aggregate value 
of some $15,000, or an increase of about $12,000, and an 
increase of membership of at least 200 per cent. And 
while we feel thankful for the prosperity that has at- 
tended the district in its first four years of struggle, I am 
sorry that more has not been done. But I feel safe in 
saying that had it not been for providential calamities, 
much more would have been accomplished. In quitting 
this field of labor, I can not dismiss from my mind all 
feelings of solicitude and anxiety for its future welfare, 
and yet I cheerfully step aside and give place to some 
more worthy and efficient person as successor, praying 
the Divine blessing to rest upon him and crown his la- 
bors with abundant success, for Jesus' sake." 

J. B. Maxfield is assigned to the North Nebraska Dis- 
trict in 1875, having completed his full four years on the 
Beatrice District. It is still a frontier field, though some 
of the appointments are among the oldest in the Con- 
ference. The population is rapidly finding its way up the 
Logan, Elkhorn, and Niobrara Valleys, and on the fer- 
tile table-lands, the settlements extending as far west as 
Holt County. Of this district, the work of the year, and 
prospects. Dr. Maxfield gives this description in his first 
report: "The year now closing is my first on the North 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 259 

Nebraska District. My predecessor, in his various re- 
ports, has conveyed to this Conference and to the public 
sufficient intelligence of its geographical contour, and nat- 
ural resources. It comprises much the largest scope of 
actually inhabited territory of any district in the Con- 
ference. Its circuits are in consequence very large, each 
comprising many appointments ; many of them remote 
from each other. This necessarily involves a great 
amount of travel in working each circuit, demanding 
large industry and faithfulness of every preacher in 
charge. Early in the year an unusual spirit of religious 
concern was observable almost everywhere upon the dis- 
trict. From very small beginnings, widespread revivals 
were the results. These continued during the entire 
winter, and in some places far into the spring and sum- 
mer. A solid and considerable increase has thus ensued, 
both of numbers and, I am convinced, of personal piety. 
"Looking upon the history of this centennial year, 
there are abundant reasons to be discovered for gratitude 
to Almighty God for the gracious mercies He has be- 
stowed upon us. Our financial concerns have suffered in 
common with the business depression prevalent every- 
where. Prices have been very small and money hard to 
obtain. Added to this general condition of monetary 
stringency, is the harm wrought by those periodical visit- 
ants, the grasshoppers, which have scourged this area of 
territory, comprised in the district I represent, once more. 
In the western and northern parts thereof, the harm done 
was much more severe than in the eastern portion. Yet 
there is not in my knowledge a single acre anywhere that 
entirely escaped, and in many instances the corn was en- 
tirely destroyed. The crops of small grains were meager. 

26o History of Nebraska Methodism. 

and the farmers' hopes were builded upon an abundant 
corn crop ; hopes that never were to be reahzed. An in- 
evitable consequence is the poverty of our preachers, and 
a large deficiency arising from unpaid salaries. I do not 
recall more than one instance in which the entire salary 
has been paid. When we remember how small the sal- 
aries are, and then deduct therefrom at least one-third 
for deficiencies, we may then understand how many are 
the privations to be endured by the Methodist itinerants 
in the frontiers of Nebraska.'' 

It is to be greatly regretted from the standpoint of 
the historian, that for some reason the secretaries did not 
print the reports of the presiding elders for several years. 
This involves the final reports on both the Beatrice and 
North Nebraska Districts, which have special value, as 
usually containing a resume of the four years' work on 
their districts. 

While we are deprived of this valuable source of in- 
formation, we know in other ways that Dr. Maxfield suc- 
cessfully led the forces during the following four years, 
and the district, while not expanding territorially, con- 
tinues to develop along all lines of Church work. 

In 1871, George H. Wehn was admitted on trial and 
appointed to Madison Charge, which was, with the ex- 
ception of a small class at Union .Creek, an unorganized 
work, extending to the west as far as an enthusiastic 
young circuit rider, such as Brother Wehn was, would 
sfo in search of the scattered members of the Methodist 
fold. In a letter from Mrs. C. D. Trask, formerly of 
Oakdale, and one of the oldest settlers, she speaks thus 
of the beginning of religious work at that place: "Prior 
to any organization, Rev. George H. Wehn traveled as 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 261 

far west as Frenchtown (near where Clearwater now is), 
preaching at some points along his line of travel, visiting 
from house to house and doing much good among the set- 
tlers. He organized the Oakdale class in the spring of 
1872 at the residence of J- H. Snyder, the first members 
being A. M. Salnave, Hester A. Salnave, Wm. P. Clark, 
Mary E. Clark, Laura E. Snyder, Jacob Holbrook, Jesse 
T. Bennett, and Helen L. Bennett." In speaking of 
Brother Wehn, Mrs. Trask further says that "he pos- 
sessed a good education, was a fair preacher, and diligent 
in labor." 

Of Brother Wehn's circuit, and the work he did dur- 
ing that year, his presiding elder, S. P. Van Doozer, says : 
"Madison is a new work, and lies in the extreme west- 
ern part of the district, embracing all of Madison and 
Antelope Counties, and a part of Boone County. One 
year ago Rev. George H. Wehn was appointed to this 
newly organized mission. When he entered upon his 
work he found a class of four or five members formed on 
Union Creek. From this small beginning he has gone 
on heroically, ascending the Elkhorn River and its tribu- 
taries, doing the work of an evangelist, and now reports 
five classes, and a membership, including probationers, 
of more than one hundred souls." During the year a 
camp-meeting was held, at which there were forty acces- 
sions to the Church. He significantly adds that the mis- 
sion had assumed such proportions "that necessity will 
dictate a division for the ensuing year." 

There appeared upon the scene in 1872 a sturdy Eng- 
lishman, Jabez Charles. He was born in England, Sep- 
tember 6, 1836, converted at the age of fifteen, and li- 
censed to preach in the Primitive IMethodist Church in 

262 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

1864. In March, 1857, he was married to Miss Eliza- 
beth Powles. and in June, 1868 they came to America, 
and he became a local preacher on the Charters Circuit, 
Pittsburg Conference, of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church. In March, 1872, he was recommended to the 
Pittsburg Annual Conference for admission on trial. 
But thinking he ought to avail himself of the opportuni- 
ties offered in the great West to secure a homestead, he 
did not join the Pittsburg Conference, but came to 
Omaha, Nebraska, not intending to preach, but to make 
a home for himself and family. However, he preached 
once in a grove of scrub oaks just south of the Union 
Pacific depot, sometime during that summer, and soon a 
letter passed to that alert presiding elder, S. P. Van 
Doozer, who was on the lookout for good men to supply 
some unoccupied fields, informing him that in Omaha 
there was an English local preacher who would probably 
fill the bill. It was not long before Brother Charles re- 
ceived a letter from Van Doozer requesting him to meet 
him, which he did. The result of this meeting meant 
much for Nebraska Methodism, for he was at once re- 
quested to take charge of the work in Madison County. 
After informing him fully of the character and condition 
of the people, living in their sod houses ; their poverty, 
intensified at that time by the grasshoppers ; that there 
were no churches, and in many cases no school-houses 
even ; no railroads through the country and no bridges 
over the streams, the presiding elder asked him how he 
liked it? Brother Charles answered, "I have learned to 
adapt myself to circumstances." The presiding elder said, 
"You will do," and at once employed him as a supply. On 
the 13th of September, 1872, Jabez Charles reached his 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 263 

large and hard field of labor and began that self-sacrific- 
ing career of faithful and efficient toil and great useful- 
ness, which continued without a break until the Confer- 
ence of 1902, when at the age of sixty-six, worn out by 
thirty years of incessant toil on large circuits with small 
salaries, he requested, and was granted, a superannuated 

The history of the North Nebraska Conference would 
be very incomplete if what Jabez Charles has done for the 
Alaster were left out. Of that portion of it relating to 
the development of our work in Madison, Boone, and 
Antelope Counties, it was he, doubtless, above all 
others, who laid the foundations of our Zion during the 
first five years of his ministry in Nebraska, during which 
time he remained in the local ranks and was contented 
to serve as a supply under the presiding elder. The 
slor}' of his work and experiences during these five years 
is so well told in a communication from him to the writer, 
that I can do no better than to quote his own words : 

"On the 13th of September, wdth a letter of authority, 
I found myself in Madison County, Nebraska, as preacher 
in charge of the Madison Circuit. I found six preaching 
places ; namely, Madison, with no class and no church ; 
Union Creek, wnth J. T. Trine as leader and local 
preacher ; Battle Creek, three miles up the creek from 
the present town of Battle Creek, with no class at this 
place; Fairview (Clarion Post-ofitice), Brother Reigle, a 
local preacher and a good Methodist, and a class led by 
Brother E. Heath. At Buffalo Creek was the best appoint- 
ment in every sense of the word. There we had a strong 
class, with good Father George Rouse as leader ; we had 
two local preachers, Brothers J. T. Morris and R. J. 

264 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Harvey, and after a while two exhorters, Brother Shafer 
and Charles Rouse. (Ever since that time Brother Rouse 
has held a local preacher's license.) At Buffalo Creek 
we worshiped in a sod school-house, earth floor and sod 
roof, and yet what glorious times we enjoyed ! After 
preaching in that old dug-out I heard sixty persons tell 
their experiences. I have known the men to put their 
spring seats around the door on the outside when there 
was snow on the ground because they could not get in- 
side. This place is now known as Meadow Grove, Ma- 
rietta was a preaching place, with a class, J. Alberry 
leader and local preacher. There were a number of other 
places at which we preached. The Best appointment was 
five miles west of Norfolk ; Solters, twelve miles west of 
Norfolk ; Deer Creek, Dry Creek, and St. Clair Creek. 
At this place we held a very good revival-meeting in 
1873 and 1874. Brother C. Rouse was leader. This 
place was five and one-half miles southeast of Oakdale. 
I forded the Elkhorn River at different points all the 
way from Westpoint to Oakdale. Once I crossed in a 
molasses pan. I have taken off all my clothing and 
waded the stream, in order to get from one preaching 
place to the other. Those were the grasshopper times, 
when frozen squash was a luxury. Dry Creek Circuit 
was formed in 1873, taking in the northwest part of the 
county. In the fall of 1874 I left ninety-three full mem- 
bers on the circuit. In the fall of 1874 I was sent to the 
Albion Circuit, including the entire county of Boone. I 
found four preaching places. At Albion we had no town 
and no church. True there was one store, a school- 
house, and a court-house, and John Ayers's shanty, but no 
dwelling-house. Rev. S. P. Bollman, a local preacher, 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 265 

lived in his homestead and preached all he could while 
holding various county offices. W. T. Xelson was our 
class-leader. At Boone we worshiped in a sod school- 
house, R. W. King was leader. At St. Edwards we had 
not even a school-house, but worshiped in Joel Berrey's 
sod dwelling-house. J. Berrey was our class-leader and 
W. J. Thompson was postmaster and the most prominent 
member at this place. We held a revival-meeting in a 
blizzard, with thirteen conversions. 

"Twenty miles from Albion was Dayton, on the Cedar 
River. Brother James Robinson kept the post-office. 
Brother Broadbent was leader. This place is now called 
Cedar Rapids. At School-house No. 15 we held 
revival meetings, early in 1875, and formed a class of 
thirteen members, of which W. Deupoe, H. Guiles, and 
J. Moore were members. This place is now called Fin- 
ical Hill. At the first quarterly-meeting, when the ques- 
tion was asked, 'How much will you raise for the sup- 
port of the minister this year?' Brother R. W. King said, 
'We can not promise anything. If the grasshoppers 
take our crops, we can not pay anything.' But for 1875 
I received $203.45 ; for 1876 I received $229.59. There 
was an increase of sixty-two full members and seven 
probationers. At our Conference held at Lincoln in 
1875 I was ordained a local deacon by Bishop Haven. 
In the fall of 1876 I was sent back to the Aladison Cir- 
cuit a second time. On this work I found six appoint- 
ments ; namely, Madison, Union Creek, Fairview, Kala- 
mazoo, Newmans Grove, and Tracy Creek. There was 
no church on this circuit. But in the summer of 1877 
we commenced our Church enterprise at jMadison. The 
first load of lumber for the new church came from Co- 

266 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

lumbus, thirty-five miles away. The night before we 
started to Conference, which was held in Eighteenth 
Street, Omaha, October ii, 1877, Bishop Bowman pre- 
siding. At this Conference I was admitted on trial in the 
Nebraska Annual Conference, and was sent back to Mad- 
ison for the second year. We continued work on our 
church all through the winter and in the summer we held 
a ministerial Conference in the new church, closing with 
a camp-meeting in Severens's grove, at which were pres- 
ent Rev. J. B. Maxfield, D. Marquette, J. B. Leedom, A. 
Hodgetts, and others. A good, time was enjoyed. 

"I received $175, and had an increase in membership 
of twenty-three. For the year 1878 I received $210.42. 
and had an increase in membership of four. Of this 
amount Madison paid $80 and I gave them on subscrip- 
tion $80 to the church. There went into the building of 
that church two yoke of oxen, one cow, and four pigs. 
]\Iy boy worked for the oxen and cow." 

Another stalwart worker in the local ranks entered 
the field in Antelope and Madison Counties in the later 
seventies in the person of Charles G. Rouse, who was 
born in Dupage County Illinois, September 17, 1836; 
came to Nebraska in 1870, and received license to preach 
under Jabez Charles's pastorate in 1873, and has since, 
though remaining in the local ranks, assisted pastors and 
preached, as a supply, for twenty-five years, as regularly 
and efficiently as if he had been a member of the Con- 
ference. He would doubtless have been admitted into 
the Conference had he entered the work earlier in life. 
At the time his name was presented he was past forty 
and had a large family, and objection being made on 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 267 

that score alone, he was not admitted, whereby a great 
mistake was made and injustice wrought, as his subse- 
quent career of great usefuhiess makes clear. His record 
compares favorably with that of the average member of 
Conference. Brother Rouse is a man of fine physique, 
excellent voice, a good singer and a good preacher, and 
withal is "full of faith and the Holy Ghost." Great re- 
vivals have attended his ministry from the first. A 
goodly number of churches and parsonages have been 
built under his guidance and inspiration. Indeed, it 
would be difficult to find a charge which he has served 
that has not been strengthened in some way by this faith- 
ful man of God. He has served some important charges 
on the Neligh and other districts, among them may be 
mentioned Plainview, Osmond, Pierce, Creighton, 
Meadow Grove and Tilden, and Newman Grove and 

He began his work on the latter charge which was 
in the neighborhood of his homestead at St. Clair Valley, 
God blessing his ministry with a wonderful revival. 

Brother Rouse has been twice married, first to Miss 
Lydia Motter, September 10, 1857, who after thirty 
years, during which she was a faithful wife and devoted 
mother of her children, she passed to her reward Sep- 
tember, 1887. He was married the second time to Mrs. 
Amanda Grantham, February 11, 1897, who has since 
been a true companion in his toils and victories. 

His patriotism was evidenced by three years' service 
in the army. He enlisted in Company B, Thirty-third 
Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry, August 14, 1862, and 
was honorably discharged August 9, 1865, at Vicksburg. 

268 History of Nebraska Methodism. 


In tracing the history of Omaha through the last 
period, we left it in the hands of Gilbert De La Matyr, 
who was leading the Church to large and more prosper- 
ous conditions. Samuel Burns, that genius in Sunda)- 
school work, was at the head of that department and had 
already brought it up to 540, as compared with 240 
Church members. Everything seems to promise well for 
the future, and in 1872 the presiding elder, A. G. White, 
puts the situation as follows : 

"Dr. De La Matyr has fully sustained the prestige of 
the pulpit, and closed up his third year greatly beloved 
by the friends of the Church, and respected by the whole 
community. The Sabbath-school seems each session to 
be in the very zenith of its excellence. The officers and 
teachers present a rare example of promptness and adapt- 
ability and faithfulness in their work. Whatever mone}' 
can purchase — judicious management and faithful labor 
can accomplish, are here applied to make Sabbath-school 
instruction attractive and successful." 

G. W. Gue, whom we have seen cheerfully doing pio- 
neer service among the new settlers in Fillmore County 
the year before, succeeds Dr. De La Matyr, and puts in a 
year of efficient service, when he is compelled to tempo- 
rarily quit the active ministry and accept a lucrative secu- 
lar position to make"up a heavy financial loss caused by 
becoming surety for a friend. 

The new factor of progress above referred to had 
been introduced into the Sunday-school work by the elec- 
tion of Samuel Burns as superintendent in 1869. That 
he was a rare genius in this kind of work is manifest 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 269 

from the fact that the school, according to reports made 
to the Quarterly Conference, increased from 319 in 1870, 
including thirty-seven teachers, with no conversions re- 
ported, to 702 in 1872, including thirty-five teachers, with 
thirty conversions reported. The full significance of this 
phenomenal growth, will be better appreciated when we 
consider that the entire membership of the Church had 
not materially increased during that period, being 225. 
Indeed, the Minutes for 1873 show only 150 members, 
but this is probably an error. But when we recall the 
fact that the number in Sunday-school rarely exceeds 
the number of the Church membership, it will appear that 
this growth is almost unprecedented in the history of the 
Church. And that good was being done is evident from 
the thirty conversions reported in 1872. 

With such a splendid record as this we can almost* 
pardon a man if he becomes a little vain and even arro- 
gant, and insists on running that department himself, as- 
suming that results had proved him thoroughly compe- 
tent to do so, and it would be sound policy for the Church 
to be patient with a man who could bring this important 
department up to such a high state of efficiency, and 
make it such a great power for good in the community 
as it certainly was. For the sake of the cause they could 
well afford to let him think the Sunday-school was the 
biggest thing about the Church, as it literally was, numer- 
ically, at least, and they could bear with him if he thought 
it the most important department. Perhaps this exag- 
gerated view of the relative importance of the Sunday- 
school was one element of his success. 

But when in 1863 Clark Wright was transferred from 
one of the Eastern Conferences and became pastor, he 


270 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

seemed not to be able to take in the unique situation of 
a Church with one of its subordinate departments more 
than twice as large as itself, or comprehend that geomet- 
rical contradiction, that in this case the part was greater 
than the whole. Nor did he understand Samuel Burns, 
and having himself no small store of ministerial dignity 
to maintain, it was difficult for him to brook what seemed 
tmdue arrogance on the part of Burns. 

That both these men were honest in their convictions, 
and that both loved the Church and were, in their differ- 
ent ways equally loyal, and willing to toil and sacrifice in 
order to build it up, did not relieve the situation, but as 
it often happens, the very intensity of their honest con- 
victions increased the tension, and made it more difficult 
for either to understand the other. 

But probably these men might have gotten along to- 
gether and perpetuated the situation that was so full of 
present power and future promise, If the pastor in his 
zeal for the spiritual interests of the Church had not in- 
troduced an element into the situation in the person of 
Mrs. Maggie Van Cott, which, as events proved, greatly 
increased the difficulty of a satisfactory adjustment of 
conflicting convictions. 

Assuming, as we may properly do, that it was right 
for the pastor and Burns and the entire Church, to con- 
serve and perpetuate the Sunday-school in the high state 
of efficiency to which it had been brought, and that Burns 
was the only man who could do it, and his judgment as 
to what would best serve this purpose, was entitled to 
more than ordinary respect. And further assuming that 
the pastor was right in desiring a revival of religion, and 
in good faith sought to promote it by what he deemed 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 271 

the most efficient means, by the employment of Mrs. Van 
Cott, who had already a great reputation as a successful 
evangelist ; the problem now presented to the pastor and 
the whole Church was how to perpetuate the now pow- 
erful agency for good, the Sunday-school, and also make 
it possible for ]\Irs. Van Cott to accomplish all she could 
in her line of work. 

She comes, as every evangelist should come, with a 
conviction that there is no work so important as the sal- 
vation of souls. And in this she shared what has been 
the universal sentiment of Methodism. She felt that for 
the time being all else should be subordinated to the re- 
vival, and as the leader in the special movement she also 
felt that all others should willingly submit to her will, 
and obey her commands, including pastor and Sunday- 
school superintendent. This had doubtless been conceded 
to her wherever she had been, and she knew nothing in 
the conditions at Omaha that would make that an excep- 
tion. It did not occur to her that by careful and skillful 
methods, in which the weekly teachers' meeting was a 
most potent factor, Samuel Burns and his co-workers 
had built up one of the best schools in Methodism, and 
that therefore the situation in Omaha presented some 
features which were peculiar and probably different from 
any she had ever met, and called for special consideration, 
and special treatment. 

There can be no doubt that Mrs. Van Cott was a con- 
secrated woman, whom the Lord was using in the salva- 
tion of many souls. But it is to be feared that she was 
so constituted that her success had, perhaps uncon- 
sciously to herself, exaggerated her conception of her 
own importance, and narrowed her views as to Church 

272 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

work, and greatly strengthened a naturally imperious 
will. This we know sometimes happens in the case o£ 
otherwise excellent evangelists. There was probably 
somewhat in the manner and spirit of her demands that 
would make it difficult for a man like Samuel Burns to 
accede to them, even if reasonable. And in view of the 
peculiar importance of maintaining his large Sunday- 
school and the teachers' meeting as an essential feature, 
he could not but regard her demand for unconditional 
surrender, and entire suspension of the teachers' meeting, 
even after he had offered to hold it an hour later, so all 
could attend both services, as unreasonable, and refuse 
to surrender. Hence the disastrous rupture, that has 
many times overbalanced all the good that Mrs. Van Cott 
did in her revival, which would have been great and last- 
ing but for this. And what was equally and more per- 
manently harmful to Omaha Methodism, it destroyed the 
best Sunday-school she has ever had in her history. And 
still further, the withdrawal of Burns and his influential 
followers, was probably the chief cause of subsequent 
financial embarrassment by which they became bankrupt 
and lost their property. And we must still add as an- 
other item to the dark account of loss, the years of futile 
effort to build up a rival Church, which cost such men 
as Lemon, P. C. Johnson, Pardee, Shenk, Beans, and 
Leedom years of valuable ministry. 

Some may doubt the propriety of dwelling so long on 
this unhappy affair. But the historian has not the option 
to choose only the pleasant features of the history, but is 
in duty bound to note what has obstructed the progress 
of the Church. It is my conviction that no event in the 
fifty years of Nebraska Methodism has been so far-reach- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 273 

ing in its pemiciovts influences, not only in Omaha, but 
to some extent, beyond the Hmits of that city, as this un- 
happy affair. It is here recorded as a monumental 
blunder, not to use a harsher name, that should stand 
out as a warning to good people not to sacrifice the in- 
terests of Christ's kingdom for the sake of having one's 
own way. 

Clark Wright was an attractive man and might have 
succeeded well but for these troubles, and the financial 
embarrassment. As it was he reports considerable gain 
in members during his pastorate, but the Sundav School 
of 700 which he found, dropped down to 400, and this 
number was not maintained. 

He is followed by L. F. Britt, who remains a year 
and has to his credit a gracious revival resulting in the 
conversion of some seventy-five. But success along spir- 
itual lines, could not avert the doom of bankruptcy im- 
pending, and the bondholders accepted in settlement all 
their property, both on Seventeenth and Thirteenth 
Streets, leaving the Church homeless.* 

At this juncture, that old veteran, H. D. Fisher, was 
induced to come to the rescue, though he would receive 
$800 less salary by doing so. He found a homeless 
Church, but temporary arrangements were made for serv- 
ices in a rented hall. A lot was purchased on Davenport 
Street, between Seventeenth and Eighteenth, and the 
third church enterprise w^as inaugurated, and in due time 
a plain frame structure, with parsonage at the rear, was 
completed and dedicated by Mrs. Van Cott. In speak- 
ing of this achievement, Dr. Fisher quotes Bishop Haven, 
who, when he preached in the church remarked to the 
congregation: (See Gun and Gospel, by Fisher, p. 257.) 

274 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

"It is marvelous indeed !" and to me, "where did you 
get all this? We have known of the state of things in 
Omaha for years before you came. Some said Methodism 
was dead there and ought to be buried. But when I 
learned you had gone to Omaha I told my friends 'that 
means resurrection,' and so it did. The bishop preached 
for us, and told the congregation that the bishops had 
regarded the case as practically hopeless, and it was the 
man from Kansas who, in the economy of grace, had 
brought them resurrection." 

The growth of the city and of the Church seems to 
call for expansion, and the Second Church has been or- 
ganized just north of Cumings Street, meeting a grow- 
ing need of that part of the city. This expansion takes 
place in the south part of the city, in 1872, and its be- 
ginnings are thus reported by the presiding elder : 

"Omaha Mission — J. M. Adair, pastor. This is a 
new work, embracing the scattered settlements not in- 
cluded in any other pastoral charge in Douglas County. 
A church has been purchased in South Omaha, near the 
Union Pacific depot, and Brother Adair has labored to 
pay for it. He has displayed commendable zeal in city 
and country, but has received for his services barely suf- 
ficient to pay his house rent." 

In 1879, ^t the close of Dr. Fisher's pastorate, there 
appears as pastor, J. B. Maxfield, D. D., one who has al- 
ready become familiar by his work on pastorates and dis- 
tricts. Of his work here Haynes says : 

"He never failed to enlighten his hearers on the sub- 
ject in hand nor to edify his people. With him in the 
pulpit the assurance that the services would be interest- 
ing was not doubtful ; and he was able to hold this good 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 275 

opinion and respectful hearing to the end of his labors 
in the charge. Closing the second year as pastor, he was 
removed to take charge of the Omaha District." 

The expansion noted before, consisting of a second 
charge on Izard Street, enjoyed some prosperity under 
the successive pastorates of C. A. King, Charles McKel- 
vey, and J. H. Presson, and gave promise of steady 
growth, being in a growing portion of the city where it 
was much needed. But in 1874 the party who followed 
Burns out of the First Church, purchased the building 
and moved it up onto Eighteenth Street. After some 
eight or nine years, during which such men as Lemon, 
Pardee, P. C. Johnson, Beans, Shenk, and Leedom had 
given their best service, the effort to establish a Church 
there was given up as hopeless, and it was sold and 
Seward Street Church established. 

South Tenth Street was served during this period by 
J. M. Adair, T. H. Tibbies, John P. Roe, P. C. Johnson, 
and David Marquette. Under Father Roe's ministry the 
Church, during the first year, received his services free 
of charge on condition that they pay all their debts, 
amounting then to $500. This was done. The second 
year he agreed to put the entire salary, $500, into a build- 
ing fund, to be available when they came to build. It 
was this and other generous actions of this man of God 
that made it possible for the writer to carry forward to 
success the building of both church and parsonage, dur- 
ing his three years' pastorate, beginning in 1879. 


THIRD PERIOD. (1870-1880.) 


As EARLY as 1857 Salt Creek appeared in the Min- 
utes, and was left to be supplied. As to whether any one 
was secured for the circuit is not known, nor do we know 
just what territory was comprised in the circuit that year, 
and for several subsequent years. But the following year 
we find, as noted elsewhere, that Zenas B. Turman was 
assigned to Salt Creek. The first settlement on the site 
where Lincoln now stands, of which we have any au- 
thentic account, was established by Elder Young, and 
several others who were Methodist Protestants, and had 
in contemplation the establishment of a colony of their 
co-religionists, and started a seminary. But the project 
failed. The next effort was made by parties attracted by 
the supposed possibility of profitably developing the salt 
works, and the little village of Lancaster was the result. 
The superior richness of the salt deposits in Kansas soon 
made the Nebraska enterprise unprofitable and it was 
abandoned. But in 1867 Nebraska became a State and 
must needs have a capital, and Lincoln was selected. The 
plan was to sell lots enough to put up the State-house, an.l 
this being realized, Lancaster became Lincoln, the flour- 
ishing capital of the State. 

Prior to this, however, probably in 1867, R. H. 
Hawkes preached on the site where Lincoln now stands. 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 277 

Father Edward Warnes, who speaks of himself as the 
oldest settler in Lincoln, having built his cabin near what 
would now be 719 A Street, in 1862, in an interview in 
the Lincoln Ne-ii's, for October 28, 1903, speaks of Brother 
Haw kes's ministry as follows : 

"Rev. Hawkes was the first preacher. He was a very 
devout man. ]\Ioney was scarce then, and the preacher 
was paid mainly in produce. It appeared that the good 
preacher and his family had not been remembered by the 
congregation for some time, and they had come to the 
point of starvation. A lot of us, hearing of the extreme^ 
poverty in which our pastor and his loved ones were 
placed, met and formed a donation party. We were 
loaded down with provender — Hour, meat, coffee, sugar, 
and other substantial eatables too numerous to mention. 
As some of us reached the door we heard a voice engaged 
in prayer. Through a crack in it we saw the good man 
on his knees pleading with his Maker to help him in his 
hour of trouble and asking that a way be found to ena- 
ble his family and himself to be relieved from the pangs 
of hunger. I tell you it brought the tears to the eyes of 
his listeners. 

"The produce was quietly and swiftly piled against 
the door, while the man within continued his prayer for 
relief. Then when the job was done a loud knock was 
given on the door and the entire party retired to a safe 
distance and waited developments. When he opened the 
door, the stuff piled up fell into the room, and it was 
laughable and pathetic to see the astonished and grateful 
look on the face of the recipient." 

The following year, 1868, however, marks the real 
beginning of Lincoln Methodism. Happily, just at this 

278 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

juncture, when the capital had been located, and was 
starting out with every prospect of success, H. T. Davia 
is just closing his three years' pastorate at Nebraska City, 
and is available for the work of laying the foundation of 
the Church in Lincoln, being appointed at the Confer- 
ence that year. Of the beginnings of Lincoln Methodism 
no one is more competent to speak than H. T. Davis, him- 
self, and in his "Solitary Places Made Glad," he tells 
the story : 

"In the spring of 1868, Lincoln first appeared upon 
the Minutes of the Nebraska Annual Conference, and the 
writer was appointed pastor. The town contained a pop- 
ulation of some two hundred souls. There was no par- 
sonage, beautifully and richly furnished ; no large so- 
ciety to greet the pastor and his family, and give them a 
royal welcome to a grand reception. The pastor built his 
own house and furnished it as best he could. While our 
house was being finished, Mrs. Davis did her cooking in 
the largest kitchen we ever had, the ceiling was high, the 
floor beautifully carpeted with living green, the ventila- 
tion perfect and our appetites of the very best. Here we 
lived a number of days in the most roomy apartment we 
ever had, 

"We found sixteen members of the Church, including 
men, women, and children and a small church on Tenth 
Street inclosed only. We found another thing we did not 
like so well. On this shell of a house we found what the 
little girl called the latest improvement — a $400 mort- 
gage. We went to work, finishing the building, and con- 
secrating it to the worship of Almighty God, Dr. W. B. 
Slaughter preaching the dedicatory sermon. At the end 
of one vear the building became too small for the congre- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 279 

gations. The trustees authorized the pastor to dispose 
of the church, and the next week I sold it to the School 
Board of the city for a school-house. On the lots given 
by the State to the Church, we then built a frame build- 
ing. This building was afterwards enlarged."' 

At the close of Dr. Davis's pastorate, Lincoln is 
favored with the appointment of J. J. Roberts. He is now 
at the zenith of his great intellectual powers and enters 
upon his work among a people capable of appreciating his 
worth, both as a preacher and as a man. He preached 
at the session of Conference which was held in Lincoln, 
and well does the writer remember how profoundly that 
sermon impressed the Conference. He, with his devoted 
wife, entered upon what promised to be the most fruitful 
pastorate they had had in Nebraska, but was destined to 
be cut short by the failing health of Brother Roberts. 
At the close of the first year he had become a hopeless in- 
valid, rheumatism having fastened its relentless hold upon 
his physical frame. His presiding elder, Dr. Davis, re- 
ports the year's work as follows : 

"Lincoln is in a healthy condition. A neat and sub- 
stantial parsonage, with eight good rooms, two large 
halls, a good cellar and cistern, has been built during the 
year at a cost of seventeen hundred dollars, and the whole 
amount paid, leaving no encumbrance whatever on the 
property. There is in connection with the Church a large 
and flourishing Sabbath-school. Brother Roberts's 
health during the past year has been poor, suffering in- 
tensely with rheumatism most of the time ; nevertheless 
he has done an amount of labor that but few under the 
same circumstances would have performed. A mind of 
the Pauline type, he is one of the strong men of the 

28o History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Church, and his trumpet never gives an uncertain sound. 
He is most emphatically what Paul exhorted Timothy to 
be, 'A workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly 
dividing the word, giving to saint and sinner his portion 
in due season.' " 

After nearly a year of intense sufifering, J. J. 
Roberts closed his earthly career on the 17th of jNIarch, 


J. J. Roberts was without doubt one of the ablest 
preachers Nebraska has ever had. And the strongest 
features of his preaching did not consist in the arts of 
the rhetorician or the orator. He rather eschewed these 
as being unnecessary, depending almost wholly on the 
capacity of the truth itself to make its way, if it onlv had 
a fair chance, by being clearly perceived by the speaker 
and plainly presented to the people. J. J. Roberts ex- 
celled in that marvelous capacity to see a great truth 
clearly and all truths in their true logical relations, as 
constituting a system, and grasp the system itself as a 
whole. This same power enabled him to detect fallacies 
and expose them most mercilessly. Brother Burch tells 
of an instance of this kind while Roberts was at Peru. 
A Christian (Campbellite) preacher was holding a series 
of meetings at Peru, and according to their usual method 
at that time, his preaching was of the controversial order, 
more attention being given to an effort to show that other 
Churches, especially the Methodist, were wrong, than in 
convincing sinners of their need of salvation. Roberts 
attended and after their meetings were over, devoted a 
little time to the matter in his next prayer-meeting, but in 
that short time completely swept away the fallacies of 
two weeks of preaching. 

History of Nebraska ]\Ii5Thodism. 281 

This same keen logical power enabled him to detect 
shams. These he most heartily despised and took great 
delight in exposing them. 

So complete was his work along these lines that when 
he got after a fallacy or a sham it took him but a few 
moments to create the impression on the minds of his 
hearers that there was nothing left of either sham or 

His standing among the people of Lincoln is indicated 
in these extracts from the Daily State Journal of March 
18, 1873: "The death of J. J. Roberts, though not unex- 
pected, threw a gloom over the city. No man in Lincoln 
was more generally regarded with respect and veneration 
than he. His life for months past has been a struggle 
with terrible pain and suffering, and his indomitable for- 
titude and cheerfulness, his sterling piety, and his un- 
complaining resignation won for him a warm niche in 
the hearts of all who knew him. His disease was rheu- 
matic gout, that racked his frail body with merciless 
cruelty for days and weeks together and stretched him 
helpless on a couch of pain. Mr. Roberts came to Lincoln 
two years ago as pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal 
Church, but after a year's faithful service, was obliged 
to take the superannuated relation. As a preacher he 
showed a wonderful depth of thought and originality 
that would have made him a famous orator had his 
physique possessed the health and energy of his mental 

These sentiments of high esteem were shared by all 
the preachers of the Conference and the members of the 
charges he had served. 

The same year in which J. J. Roberts died witnessed 

282 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

the departure of that old, battle-scarred veteran, Isaac 
Burns. His name has often appeared in the earlier 
pages of this history and always in connection with some 
valuable service rendered to the cause he loved dearer 
than his own life. There have been more brilliant men, 
but none more faithful than Isaac Burns. He was well 
along in life when he came to Nebraska and was there- 
fore not permitted to give many years to the service. Bur 
they were years well filled with toil and sacrifice. He 
has passed in triumph to his well-earned heavenly reward. 

There will be no better place than in connection with 
this mention of her husband's last days to make some 
note of the life and character and work of Mrs. M. E. 
Roberts, who was his devoted wife, a wise mother, and 
withal, one of the most useful of the "women who have 

A determined effort was made during the seventies 
to turn the State University over to the control of the 
"Broad Gaugers," as they were called. This, as a mat- 
ter of fact, had succeeded to the extent of placing a num- 
ber of free-thinkers of decided infidel proclivities in the 
Faculty. These lost no opportunity to sneer at the Bibk; 
and raise doubts in the minds of the students concerning 
the doctrines of Christianity. As yet, Methodism had no 
school of her own and many of our young people were in 
the State University, as well as the young people of other 
denominations. Indeed, even now, with nearly every de- 
nomination maintaining an institution of its own, it is 
well known that a majority of the students of the State 
institutions come from the Christian homes. Of course 
the percentage was much larger then. Under these cir- 
cumstances we may be sure that this movement raised a 

History op Nebraska Methodism. 283 

storm of indignation throughout the State. In 1879 the 
Nebraska Conference entered this vigorous protest : 

"Resolved, That we, as a Christian denomination, en- 
ter our earnest protest against the prostitution of the 
State University to the propagation of modern infideUty, 
known as "Broad Gauge" or "Liberal" religion, and we 
do not and can not feel free to send our children there 
while it is under the influence of teachers who are known 
to discard the Bible and sneer at Christianity, and who 
pour contempt upon prayer and the religious services in 
the chapel by refusing to attend. And we hereby peti- 
tion the Honorable Board of Regents of the University 
of Nebraska to make such changes in the Faculty as will 
protect our children from being perverted by influence 
and example from the Christian faith which is so dear 
to us. 

Pressure was brought to bear in political circles by 
which the nefarious scheme was defeated by changing 
the complexion of the Board of Regents. But it required 
years to complete the process of elimination. 

In the meanwhile the problem for the Christian 
Churches in Lincoln was, how, for the time being, can 
we counteract this infidel influence? St. Paul's Church, 
as might be expected, took the lead in this movement, and 
of the members of the St. Paul Church, Mrs. M. E. Rob- 
erts stood out as the pre-eminent leader, supported by 
such women as Mrs. Hyde, Mrs. H. T. and A. M. Davis, 
and Mrs. Peckham, in every effort to save the young men 
and women exposed to the adverse influences. It was a 
hand to hand battle, but the Church won, and it is no dis- 
credit to the pastors at that time to say that to Mrs. Rob- 
erts and her band of godly women was this victory chiefly 

284 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

due. Many of the Christian fathers and mothers through- 
out the State will never know the many plans and devices 
faithfully worked to save their boys and girls. Their 
homes were made the homes of the young students. Al- 
most before they had had time to become homesick they 
would be invited by some chum who had been commis- 
sioned for that purpose, to attend a sociable at Mrs. Rob- 
erts's, or perhaps at the home of some other good sister, 
and to their surprise would find these consecrated women 
almost or quite as kind and motherly as their own 
mothers. Then they would be invited to Church and 
Sunday-school. Such was the influence of St. Paul's 
Church through these means, that a son of a Lutheran 
minister who was converted there while a student at the 
State University, told the writer that it was hardly possi- 
ble for a student to remain four years and not be con- 

Of Mrs. Roberts's work and influence during these 
years, one who himself was the object of her efforts, and 
the subject of her purifying and uplifting influence, and 
who, like many other young men, were proud to do, calls 
himself "one of her boys," shall tell tli€ story : 

"Rev. James J. Roberts was appointed pastor of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, fifteen 
years ago, where he continued until his death, two years 
later. He was a zealous and earnest worker, and his 
grand life and services have unquestionably much to do 
with the great Church work now being accomplished in 
that city. Mrs. M. E. Roberts, the widow, gathering 
about her her four fatherless children, looked as bravely 
as possible to the future. She found, after careful ex- 
amination of her temporal resources, that she had means 

History of Nebraska Methodism, 285 

of siibsistance for herself and family for scarcely three 
years. The brave lady, however, was not discouraged. 
She placed herself in the hands of Him who had promised 
to be a Father to the fatherless and a Husband to the 
widow. For eleven years ]\'Irs. Roberts taught in the 
public schools in Lincoln, having from fifty to ninety 
pupils. Meantime, though she had the care of her family, 
and of her own business affairs, she found time to do 
much Christian and charitable work. 

"Two years after the death of her husband, Mrs. Rob- 
erts made a specific surrender of herself to the Lord, 
promising to do any work He should place in her hands. 
First came 'the crusade,' into which she went with other 
brave women, and since then she has been identified with 
the Women's Christian Temperance Union. Four years 
after the crusade, Mrs. Roberts commenced Sunday- 
school work, her class being composed entirely of young 
men, and her success in this has been something phenome- 
nal. With great fear and trepidation she began this duty. 
The class, which began with five or six, has steadily in- 
creased, until at present there are over eighty enrolled, 
and the prospects are bright for one hundred before the 
year ends. (It did reach one hundred.) 

"Mrs. Roberts's methods to obtain members for her 
class are unique and original. Every stranger is warmly 
welcomed, introduced, and made to feel at home. He 
soon begins to feel a personal interest in the class, and 
invites his friends to attend. Airs. Roberts visits all busi- 
ness houses and searches for new faces, and when one is 
found, ascertains at once whether or not the young man is 
identified with any Church or Sunday-school worlc. If 
not, he receives a cordial invitation to attend her class 

286 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

'next Sunday.' Should he fail to appear, she p^oes 'again 
and again, until finally the young man surrenders to the 
inevitable and soon finds himself as much interested in 
the work as if he had been a member of the class for a 
year. Like Caesar, the lady knows the name of each of 
her soldiers, and has always a smile and a hearty welcome 
for all. Mrs. Roberts carries her class in her heart at 
all times, and a daily prayer is on her lips for their w'el- 
fare. She speaks good words to their employers, and in- 
vites them to her home. Every week some members of 
the class are at her home for dinner or tea. For years, 
in June, the class has a party, to which the young men are 
accompanied by lady friends. 

"The work accomplished by Mrs. Roberts is simply 
prodigious, and the result of her untiring efforts had 
placed many a young man in Christian work. A number 
have entered the ministry, several have gone out as mis- 
sionaries to foreign countries, and a large majority are 
earnest Christian workers. This busy woman has no 
other thought now but to work for the Lord. She has 
calls from all over the State, and is to be found wherever 
there is work to do, in prisons, hospitals, and in revivals. 
Her very face shines with the love of Christ, a wonderful 
energy, and an insatiable desire for the welfare of souls." 

Many of the pastors, the writer among the number, 
have availed themselves of Mrs. Roberts's wonderful 
power over young people, by securing her help in revival 
work. The Woman's Home Missionary Society have 
availed themselves of her winning ways and organizing 
ability to extend the usefulness of that beneficent society, 
she having served in many States as their national or- 
ganizer. When they laid the corner-stone of the domii- 

History of Nebraska Methodism, 287 

tory of their great institution at York, the "Mothers' 
Jewels Home," as reported at the time, Mrs. M. E. Roh- 
erts was introduced as an indefatigable worker in this 
behalf, and filled with the spirit of prophecy and the in- 
spiration of the hour, thrilled the audience with her burn- 
ing words of hope and portend of the future of the Home, 
And at its recent session the Nebraska Conference hon- 
ored her, and at the same time honored itself even more, 
by electing her by a large majority on the first ballot, a 
lay delegate to the General Conference. 

But neither this nor many other places of trust in 
which she has been placed will constitute the chief title 
of Mrs. M, E, Roberts to distinction in this world or 
the world to come. This will rather be found in the 
thousands of young men she has helped in time of dis- 
couragement and temptation and led to Christ. 

It may be well to note in passing, the great service 
Methodism has rendered both at Peru and Lincoln in 
supplying the positive religious and moral conditions in 
which these State institutions can do their work, but 
which in the nature of things they can not supply them- 
selves. And the Methodism of the State is entitled to no 
small part of the credit. 

Resuming the history of Lincoln Methodism we find 
that J. J. Roberts was followed by George S. Alexander, 
who remained three years. He finds 277 members, in- 
cluding thirty-eight probationers, and leaves 299 mem- 
bers, including twenty-six probationers. His pastorate 
coincides with the years of the grasshopper visitation, and 
Lincoln, as all other places, has been checked in growth, 
which explains the meager increase for these years. At 
the close of his term in Lincoln Brother Alexander is ap- 

288 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

pointed chaplain at the penitentiary, and is succeeded as 
pastor by Dr. W. B. Slaughter. The Church enjoys a 
steady growth under the scholarly ministry of this true 
man of God, the membership increasing to 350, and the 
Sunday-school to 500. 

Dr. Slaughter has been in his element in ministering 
to this cultured spiritual Church. 

St. Paul's Church has now reached a point in its de- 
velopment when the demand for a special transfer has 
set in, and is gratified with the transfer of S. H. Hender- 
son, from the Upper Iowa Conference. The demand for 
this transfer came from the more spiritual element. 
Brother Henderson being an exponent of the special holi- 
ness movement somewhat prominent in the Church at 
that time. He had been one of the evangelists at the 
State Holiness Camp-meeting at Bennett, and had im- 
pressed many of the members as being the ideal man for 
the place. 

He entered upon his pastorate with much zeal, and 
gave special attention in his preaching and social meet- 
ings to the necessity of a second blessing. He was a 
faithful pastor, and withal possessed of a missionary 
spirit, going out to destitute neighborhoods in the after- 
noon. There was quite a number of Cumberland Presby- 
terians settled on Steven's Creek, some six miles east of 
Lincoln, who had naturally first endeavored to get a 
preacher of their own denomination to come and organize 
a Church, applying to Rev. J. B. Green, pastor of that 
Church in Nebraska City. But that Church could not 
send a man west of Nebraska City, so they turned to the 
Methodists, sending a request to Brother Henderson to 
come and organize a Church. Though burdened with the 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 289 

care of a large Church, he gladly took up this work, and 
in May, 1878, he organized what is now known as the 
Sharon Church. Among the charter members were the 
following: Mr. and Mrs. Fred Hinkley, Mrs. Martin Bab- 
cock, Mrs. Elizabeth Beach, Mrs. George V. Hall, Mrs. 
Morgan, Miss Eliza Morgan, Mr. and Mrs. D. P. Doubt, 
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Doubt, Sr., and Mr. and Mrs. J. 
Michael Doubt. 

The first class-leader was Mr. Fred Hinkley, and the 
first trustees were O. M. Shore, C. C. Beach, Wm. Hotal- 
ing, J. M. Doubt, and J. C. Doubt. 

During the remainder of the Conference year Brother 
Henderson faithfully served them, preaching there every 
alternate Sabbath afternoon. After his pastorate at St. 
Paul's, S. H. Henderson served several important 
charges, among them Falls City and Hastings. He was 
for several years secretary of the Conference. In 1892 
Brother Henderson transferred to the West Nebraska 
Conference, but was soon compelled to take a superan- 
nuated relation because of failing health. 

S. H. Henderson was born in Tennessee, March 4, 
1829, and died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Cone, 
in Lincoln, Nebraska, April 25, 1899. The brethren of 
the West Nebraska Conference place on record the fol- 
lowing estimate of his work and character: "Brother 
Henderson was a remarkable man, a many-sided man. 
Rarely ever do men do many things equally well, but here 
is found the exception. Whether as civil engineer, school 
teacher, lawyer, soldier, judge, minister, presiding elder, 
chaplain of senate, secretary of Conferences and National 
Holiness Associations, he showed great adaptability and 
served with great credit to himself and profit to all in- 

290 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

terested. Twelve years he was presiding elder and fifteen 
years in the pastorate. He was a strong Biblical scholar, 
and wore out his commentaries and his Bibles, turning 
their truths into great sermons and helpful addresses and 
well remembered exegeses, to the great profit of all who 
fortunately came under his ministry. He was a manly 
man, a true friend, a loving and loyal son of the Church. 
Few men have occupied so high and honorable positions 
and lifelong associations, and remained so brotherly and 
fraternal. Any young minister was at home in his pres- 
ence. He honored his positions and opportunities, but 
was not unduly exalted thereby. He grew old beauti- 
fully. He made no complaints, had no enemies, but pa- 
tiently bore the increasing infirmities with resignation." 

Sharon was attached to the South Lincoln Circuit the 
following year, with A. L. Folden as pastor. This meant 
either a church or a revival, and perhaps both. In this 
case it soon meant a church building. Brother Folden and 
some of the laymen doing most of the carpenter work. 
It was dedicated by Brother Folden himself, November 
28, 1880. Sharon has remained to this day a flourishing 
rural Church, and is now served by W. J. Nichols. 

This brings into view two significant facts that may 
be noted here. This Steven's Creek settlement at first 
preferred another Church, but were compelled to turn 
to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and did not apply in 
vain. Few, if any, of the settlements that had members 
enough for a class sought in vain for a Methodist 
preacher to organize them, and then find some place in 
the system by which they could be served. 

The other fact was the venture to make another ap- 
pointment in Lincoln. The Lincoln Circuit was organ- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 291 

ized in 1878, and A, L. Folden made pastor. This move- 
ment seemed called for by the rapid extension of the city 
to the southward, and while Brother Henderson remained 
pastor of St, Paul's, seemed to be acquiesced in, if not 
heartily approved. But just when the growth of a city 
makes it impossible for the mother Church to properly 
care for all the people of that city, is a question not easily 
answered, and the first movement in the direction of a 
second Church is often looked on with little favor, and 
is sometimes met with determined opposition. A, C. Wil- 
liams, a transfer from the St. Louis Conference, succeeds 
Henderson at St. Paul's in 1879. He was a strong 
preacher, soon had large congregations, and seemed pre- 
possessed with the notion that one strong Central Church 
would best serve the religious interests of the city, and 
that a diversion of strength by the organization of a sec- 
ond Church would be a blunder. Probably he had no 
difficulty in bringing his Official Board to a like convic- 
tion, in which he and they were perfectly honest, and 
Brother Folden was regarded as encroaching on their 
territory. This view seemed confirmed when Folden, be- 
ing imable to get a suitable place south of J Street, rented 
the Universalist Church on that street, and proceeded to 
hold services. This was within five or six squares of St. 
Paul's, and as a matter of fact was too close for a per- 
manent Church. But clearly this arrangement on the part 
of Folden was temporar}^, forced upon him by a hard 
necessity. He could find no other suitable place in which 
to do a needed work in South Lincoln. But he was soon 
waited on by a committee from St. Paul's, who demanded 
of him by v^'hat authority he was preaching in Lincoln. 
Folden stood his ground and answered that he was there 

292 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

by the highest authority — Bishop Harris. Matters 
seemed to have rested at that, and Andrew Folden held 
an old-fashioned Methodist revival in this Universalist 
Church, and over one hundred souls were converted, and 
perhaps many from within the sphere naturally occupied 
by St. Paul, joined the Second Church. Thus this plucky, 
determined man finally won his case, and as events have 
proved, was right in his contention, originating as he did. 
Tnnity Church, which has become one of the most potent 
centers of religious influence, while St. Paul remains un- 
harmed, being easily the leading Church in Lincoln. 

It is not intended by these details to reflect on any 
one, but to show the very great difficulties which our 
rapid growth involved. This is a typical case, and is but 
a repetition of what took place in Omaha, especially under 
the administration of T. M. House, and has taken place 
in many other growing cities. In this case, the initiative 
came from St. Paul's Quarterly Conference, which, at its 
first session after the Conference in 1878, while S. H. 
Henderson was pastor, invited A. L. Folden to take up 
an appointment in South Lincoln, and a committee, con- 
sisting of J. C. Johnson and Mr. Lawson, was appointed 
to aid him in securing a place. But A. C. Williams had 
entirely different views and was as honest, doubtless, in 
holding and vigorously maintaining them as Brother 
Folden himself. But he took too narrow a view, for the 
time had doubtless come for an advance movement. 

A. C. Williams was a preacher who conscientiously 
viewed religion as an intellectual matter, and this view 
gave tone and character to his preaching which should be 
described as intellectual rather than spiritual. It is not 
meant that he was anti-spiritual, but was inclined to con- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 293 

stantly emphasize the intellectual as the true basis of 
whatever was permanent and of ultimate value in the 
spiritual. He was a strong personality, and had a large 
and influential following in the Church. He remained 
three years, and though there were no revivals there was 
steady growth. 


THIRD PERIOD. (1870-1880.) 


As WE look over the field and note the general situa- 
tion in the older districts, we see that while all have suf- 
fered a serious check, and could not be said to have re- 
covered from the disastrous conditions prevailing through 
a large portion of the period, until 1879, no field has been 
abandoned, and some advance made every year. Occa- 
sionally two circuits or stations have been temporarily 
combined. This was the case when the writer was ap- 
pointed to Mt. Pleasant, in 1875, Rock Bluffs Circuit 
being connected with the Mt. Pleasant for that year. But 
the first year there were two very precious revivals, one 
at, or near, Old Wyoming, in the Gregg neighborhood, 
where there had never been one before, and one at Mt. 
Pleasant. Out of the number converted there, one John 
W. Miller, a grandson of Father Gage, entered the min- 
istry. The following year the work was divided again, 
and T. A. Hull put on the Rock Bluffs portion. During 
the summer we had a camp-meeting in Brother Schleiste- 
meir's grove, at Mt. Pleasant. Brother Burch and D. F. 
Rodabaugh were present, and rendered valuable service. 
The latter preached a sermon of wonderful power on the 
Sabbath, and at other times during the meeting. It was 
-.t this camp-meeting that the death of Mother Davis, 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 295 

Mrs. Isabella Spurlock's mother, referred to elsewhere 
by Brother Burch in his account of the camp-meetings,, 
occurred. Out of about ninety conversions, one of these, 
Earnest B. Crippen, entered the ministry and is now a 
member of the West Nebraska Conference. 

Thus, while for the sake of making the support of the 
pastor possible, there were a few cases of combination, 
none that I know of really worked any detriment to the 

As we note the development of the work during those 
ten years, we find in some of these older districts a num- 
ber of the river towns that had derived their life and im- 
portance from the river traffic, steadily running down 
after the railroads began to extend their lines through the 
State, and some old, familiar names drop out of the Min- 
utes. Among these are London, Nemaha City, Salem, 
Rock Bluffs, Bellevue, Florence, Calhoun, and De Soto. 
But others are growing, and by 1879, we are already 
aware that they have taken their places permanently 
among the strong Churches of the State. Among these 
may be mentioned Falls City, Table Rock, Humboldt, 
Tecumseh, Pawnee City, Nebraska City, Peru, Platts- 
mouth. Weeping Water, Lincoln, Seward, Ashland, 
Omaha, Fremont, Schuyler, Osceola, David City, and 
Rising. Nearly all of these have become stations, and 
have a membership of from 100 to 300. They are be- 
coming better organized, and the machinery of the 
Church is in more skillful hands in some cases. The 
finances are conducted on more business-like principles 
and the salaries are growing larger and deficits are grow- 
ing less. The spiritual interests are cared for more effi- 
ciently through more regular means of grace, while the 

296 History of Ne;braska Methodism. 

old-time revivals still prevail. In these, and many others 
like Beatrice, York, Hastings, Grand Island, Kearney, 
Central City, that have, or might have been mentioned in 
connection with our account of the newer districts, Meth- 
odism has already ceased to be an experiment, the prob- 
lem of existence having been finally solved. Henceforth 
they are to become more and more centers of moral and 
spiritual power in their respective communities. 


Up to the formation of the Kearney District, Dr. 
Maxfield has charge of the field as far west as any set- 
tlements can be found. Still beyond Red Cloud, where we 
have seen Wells at work, we find Harlan and Franklin 
being cared for by C. R. Townsend, formerly of the Eng- 
lish Connection, but the presiding elder notes the fact that 
"from the large extent of the territory some points need- 
ing the Gospel have not been reached." Republican City 
and surrounding country constitute an urgent demand 
for another man. Up the Little Blue, F. E. Penny, a 
local preacher, has formed societies, made appointments, 
and laid the foundations of a compact and prosperous cir- 
cuit. The old veteran, W. D, Gage, who probably organ- 
ized the first class in Nebraska, is still in the field, and 
has organized Dorchester Circuit. 

While these new charges are being formed, the older 
charges on the Beatrice District are being cared for by 
successive pastors during the four years of Dr. Maxfield's 
incumbency, and for the most part making progress. This 
district has also felt the blight of the grasshopper scourge, 
though perhaps not to the same extent as the Kearney 
District, the settlements being older and further advanced. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 297 

Among others, David Hart has served the Beatrice 
Station, which though suffering loss through removals, 
has made some progress, completing its church, building 
a parsonage, and increasing its membership. 

Sterling, which includes Crab Orchard, has for pas- 
tor during the most of this period, T. A. Hull, the man 
to whom the elder wrote not to come, but who neverthe- 
less, did come, and was such an unqualified success that 
no one was more pleased that his request was ignored 
than the elder himself, who thus speaks of this man of 
God in his report for 1874: "He has purchased a commo- 
dious parsonage, and his labors at various points have 
been blessed by good revivals. He is pre-eminently a 
man of one work. The work has grown, and is still 
growing." Besides these revivals, a great camp-meeting 
was held during the summer of 1873. At a prayer-meet- 
ing in the big tent from Beatrice there came an old-time 
manifestation of Divine power, during which some fell 
and remained in an unconscious, or semi-conscious state, 
for hours. One, a cultured lady from Beatrice, who fell 
into this state, relates that it seemed a heavenly experi- 
ence during which she could hear what was being said 
about her. She, on her part, wanted to speak, and re- 
quest that she be not disturbed, but was utterly unable 
to do so. In due time she came out from the strange 
spell, happy in the Lord, and none the worse for her re- 
markable experience. 

Many were deeply convicted of sin and most of these 
happily converted to God. One poor sinner had resisted 
to the last, however, and just as Dr. Maxfield raised his 
hands to pronounce the final benediction, the poor fellow 
rushed up to him and on his knees clasped him about the 

298 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

feet, and begged piteously that the camp-meeting be not 
closed till he was saved. The benediction gave place for 
the time to earnest prayer, during which he was soon 
soundly converted. The benediction was then pronounced 
and the great camp-meeting closed. 

The writer was appointed to Fairbury in 1872-73, and 
as was so often the case in those early days, was under 
the necessity of erecting a small parsonage, in order to 
have a place in which to live. There were some revivals, 
and we trust, some growth. 

Fairbury made steady progress under the pastor- 
ate of Rev. E. Wilkinson, a transfer from Michigan Con- 
ference. He was not a revivalist, but, being a sound doc- 
trinal preacher, his mission seemed to be to build up char- 
acter through the truth. He gave twenty years to the 
work in Nebraska, and after his death, his brethren put 
in the Minutes this appreciation of his work and 
worth : 

"Edward Wilkinson was born in Northumberland 
County, England, January 6, 1822. His early life was 
spent under deep religious influences. In his boyhood he 
became an enthusiastic Christian. At the age of nine- 
teen he became a local preacher in the Wesleyan Meth- 
odist Church. For several years he continued in this 
work. In April, 1859, at the advice of Bishop Simpson, 
he came to America, settling for a short time in Pennsyl- 
vania. In i860 he moved to Michigan, where he resided 
until 1873, and labored there in the ministry. He then 
came to Nebraska, where he continued his successful min- 
isterial career till about three years before his death, 
which occurred at the home of his son, at Weeping Water, 
April 23, 1900. During his residence in Nebraska, he 

History of Nebraska ]\Iethodism. 299 

filled the following appointments: Fairbury, Weeping 
Water, \"alparaiso, Wahoo, Harvard, x\shland, Steele 
City, and South Bend. He was a man of superior worth. 
It is the lot of few men to secure so large a measure of 
esteem and afifection from their brethren in the ministry 
and their people in the pastorate." 

Fairmont has become a part of the Beatrice District, 
and under the two years' pastorate of J. W. Stewart, 
who succeeded G. W. Gue, made fine progress. 

Crete, in 1865, is still having the same struggle for 
existence that it had had from the beginning, having 
been overshadowed at first by the Congregational Church, 
which had the advantage, owing to the presence of Doane 
Congregational College. A small church had been built 
and a few determined laymen, like D. J. F. Reed and his 
devoted wife, and others, continued to maintain their 
ground, and were finally rewarded by the Church attain- 
ing a commanding and perhaps leading position. 

Of the progress of the work on his district during the 
four years, Dr. IMaxfield speaks as follows in his final 
report : 

"The last four years have furnished a history of great 
interest, demonstrating in many things a remarkable 
growth. At the beginning of this term there was not a 
single mile of railway in this district ; since then three 
lines have been completed, running in various directions 
through the country. Then there was but one Methodist 
church in the entire district ; now there are seven very 
commodious houses of w^orship. Then there was not a 
single parsonage ; now the Church possesses six. 

"The growth in population has been large, and the 
increase of our Church membership has kept proportional 

300 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

pace with this rapid growth. Our Sunday-schools have 
been largely developed, and still exhibit marked pros- 

"The preachers, without exception, have obeyed the 
appointing power at the several Conferences held during 
this quadrennium, and not a single refusal to go to the 
allotted work has occurred ; neither has an appointment 
refused to accept the preacher sent. A system producing 
such fine results with so little friction and no rebellion, 
must be something more than accidental in its origin, 
and not seriously defective in its operations. 

"Our district of country suffered much in the early 
part of the season by the ravages of the brood of locusts 
hatched from the eggs deposited last autumn. The crops 
of small grain in some localities were entirely destroyed. 
During the summer, unusual rains flooded the valleys re- 
peatedly ; freshets of such magnitude have not been 
known in the traditions of 'the oldest inhabitant,' for 'the 
memory of man runneth not to the contrary.' These 
floods, in some valleys, swept away all the crops which 
'the locusts had not devoured.' " 

BEATRICE DISTRICT. (1875-1879.) 

In 1875, George W. Elwood succeeds Dr. Maxfield on 
the Beatrice District, and continues four years. Two 
causes make it more difficult to trace the progress of the 
work during these years. The first is that there are no 
presiding elder reports printed after 1878 till 1882. The 
next cause is the form in which Brother Elwood makes 
his reports, and their exceeding brevity. However, from 
his first report we glean the fact that little was done on 
material lines. One church is inclosed, and a subscrip- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 301 

tion of $800 raised for another. Great efforts have been 
made to remove heavy debts from churches at Crete, 
Fairmont, Beatrice, and York, with entire success. Old 
Father Gage succeeds in erecting at Steele City the only 
parsonage built on the district that year. But according 
to the following extract from his report they are doing 
splendidly on spiritual lines. 

"The tide of spiritual life rose rapidly during the 
first three-quarters of the year on nearly all the charges. 
The present spiritual state of the district, as a whole, is 
very encouraging. With gratitude to God, we record the 
year as one of great revival movement. There was the 
sound of abundance of rain during the first quarter ; the 
second quarter witnessed the great outpouring. The 
quarterly-meeting were all revival-meetings. All the 
pastors held protracted services. ]\Iost of the local 
preachers engaged in the work with their might. The 
membership very generally engaged in the work. In 
some communities the people seemed to be moved en 
masse. The revival was the prevailing theme of conver- 
sation in all circles. One broad sheet of revival flame 
swept over York, Fairmont, Geneva, Western, Steele 
City, and Adams Circuits, West Blue, Crete, and Pleas- 
ant Hill; Wilber and De Witt and Plum Creek Circuit 
shared largely in the glorious work. Laborious and per- 
severing efforts were put forth at Beatrice and Blue 
Springs with good results. The pastors reported about 
seven hundred conversions, and a goodly number sancti- 
fied. A very large proportion of the converts continued 
faithful. In all this great work of God, the pastors proved 
themselves worthy leaders. Language is too weak to 
describe their self-sacrificing labors of love. Their record 

302 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

is on high, and their reward is sure. All glory to God 
forever. Amen," 

In Elwood's second report we learn of steps being 
taken toward building churches at several points, but 
none are actually erected. Two parsonages are built, one 
by J. S. Orr at Fairmont, and another by E. J. Willis, at 

Of the men on his district he has this word of com- 
mendation : 

"The toils, trials, and triumphs of these men of God 
can not be described with words. The pen of the record- 
ing angel has given them a fitting and enduring record on 
high and the ages of eternity alone can suffice to reveal 
the results thereof." 

In his third report, in 1878, the dominant note is one 
of progress in debt-paying and church-building : "It 
will be seen by the statement in the 'Review of the 
Churches' that great activity prevails in the line of church- 
building. Two churches have been dedicated to the wor- 
ship of God. Three churches have been repaired and old 
debts have been lifted from four. Eight are now in 
process of completion, and the Lord helping, all will be in 
use this winter. The smallest of these churches is twenty- 
four by thirty-six feet. One parsonage has been erected. 
The lots and lands acquired are too numerous to be de- 
scribed in this report." 

In comparing the statistics of 1875 with 1879 there 
has been a gain of 472 members on the district. The 
growth in the principal charges appears in the fact that 
in 1875 there were only four with a membership of over 
one hundred, while in 1878 there are eight. 

The number of churches has more than doubled, the 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 303 

increase being confined largely to the last two years, the 
people having begun to recover from the depressions 
caused by the grasshoppers. 

G. W. Elwood retires from the Beatrice District after 
four years' faithful service, and is succeeded in 1879 by 
D. F, Rodabaugh. 

In 1873, D. F. Rodabaugh came into the Nebraska 
Conference by transfer. He united with the Rock River 
Conference in 1859 and came to Nebraska in the prime 
of his life., with nearly fifteen years' experience in the 
work. Few men have come to us with greater pulpit 
ability than D. F. Rodabaugh. He was a hard student, 
and thoroughly thought out his sermons, which were al- 
ways interesting and instructive. He never preached any 
poor sermons, but on special occasions he was a power- 
ful preacher. The first time the writer ever met Brother 
Rodabaugh was at a camp-meeting held at Mt. Pleasant 
in 1876, during my pastorate there. Brother Rodabaugh 
and Hiram Burch had been sent to represent the presid- 
ing elder and hold the Mt. Pleasant and Rock Bluffs, 
quarterly-meetings, the latter charge, with T. A. Hull, 
pastor, joining with us in the camp-meeting. Brother 
Rodabaugh impressed me as a preacher of extraordinary 
power, and while all his sermons were impressive, his 
Sunday morning sermon was overwhelming. It was a 
great camp-meeting. There were about ninety conver- 
sions. This camp-meeting was held within a few miles 
of where the first camp-meeting in Nebraska was held. 
It so happened that Mother Davis, who had attended the 
first, was present. Brother Burch had also attended the 
first camp-meeting. Mother Davis was taken ill during 
the meeting, and felt from the first that she would die, 

304 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

and seemed greatly rejoiced at the prospect of going to 
heaven from a camp-ground. And the illness did prove 
fatal, and her funeral took place on the ground, and 
Brother Burch fittingly preached the funeral sermon. 
Sister Davis was the mother of Mrs. Spurlock, of the 
Mothers' Jewels Home, at York. 

D. F. Rodabaugh's first charge in Nebraska was Falls 
City, where he remained three years. Brownville and 
Nebraska City were his next pastorates, and in all these 
charges he was a success. 

In 1879 he was appointed presiding elder of the Bea- 
trice District, where he remained the full term, and was 
popular with preachers and people. Soon after leaving 
the district he transfers to the West Nebraska Confer- 
ence, where for fifteen years he serves successive charges, 
rendering valuable service in developing that new Con- 
ference to its present strength. But his growing infirmity 
necessitates his asking for a superannuated relation in 
1900, which was granted. He is now residing at Peru. 


THIRD PERIOD. (1870-1880.) 


It was providential that just on the eve of a great 
calamity, A. G. White was placed in charge of Kearney 
District. He had already had four years' experience on 
the Omaha District, which had included that portion of 
the new district which extended along the Union Pacific 
Railroad and up the Loup Valleys. Of this district, as 
constituted by Bishop Andrews in 1873, White gives this 
description in his first report : 

"One year ago Kearney District was instituted, hav- 
ing no churches or parsonages, and but two or three 
charges fully organized. Names of a respectable num- 
ber of circuits were given, and authority to penetrate the 
incognita of the plains, discover the territory, gather up 
the people, organize into societies, and supply them with 

"Armed with this roving commission, we entered 
upon the work with such frontier experience and energy 
as we could command, willing to fight with wild beasts, 
if necessary, and often glad to subsist upon them, that 
we might find and gather up the scattered elements of our 

"This district, as it has been canvassed, only partially 
developed, for want of men and means, contains more 


306 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

territory than the States of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, 
and Connecticut, and it embraces the interior and western 
part of the State. The Platte River and Union Pacific 
Railway extend through the district from west to east, 
dividing it into two parts nearly equal in size. In the 
northern section, the Loup River and the most of its 
tributaries ; in the southern part, the whole of the Repub- 
lican River in Nebraska, are within the bounds of this 
district. The climate is salubrious ; the soil unsurpassed 
in fertility ; the people are intelligent and enterprising, 
but generally poor. Here are the elements of great phys- 
ical and spiritual prosperity to be realized in the near 
future. Now, there is less pride, less infidelity, and less 
corruption here than in older settlements, and Christian 
labor will accomplish much more here than there. The 
moral elements are plastic now,- and easily molded and 
controlled. And the Church that visits the people in their 
poverty and loneliness, and brings them the sympathy and 
instruction of the Gospel, will gain their confidence and 
affection and retain them for all time. 

"At last Conference a presiding elder and five pastors 
were assigned to this new district, but one of the pastors 
declined to go to his work, one has since withdrawn from 
the Church, and one has been partially disabled with im- 
paired health. This was a small working force for so 
vast a region, and it has been increased from time to time 
by the addition of such ministerial help as could be made 
available. Several preachers — supernumerary, superan- 
nuated and local — are living within the district on home- 
steads, and as they had a mind to work in the ministry, 
they were employed. But as the Church could not in 
any case give more than half salary, it could not reason- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 307 

ablv claim all their time and eners^ies. It was necessary 
then to so arrange their work that they could cultivate 
their claims, and thus make the principal part of their 
support, and cultivate Immanuel's land as they had oppor- 
tunity. Some of these preachers have labored with great 
success, and gathered scores into the Church by conver- 
sion, and yet their worldly compensation has been scarcely 
sufficient to defray their traveling expenses." 

According to this first report in 1874 there seems to 
be as yet no organized charge west of Kearney along the 
Union Pacific Railroad. North Platte indeed is men- 
tioned as having been left to be supplied, and as having 
remained unsupplied through the year. These towns on 
the Union Pacific seem slow in developing Alethodistic- 
ally. Some of them were flourishing in 1867 when the 
Republican Valley was a hunting ground for the Indians, 
while at this time (1874) there are several flourishing 
circuits on the Republican, but none west of Kearney. 

Four new circuits are formed with an aggregate mem- 
bership of 200. 

We can not but wish to know something of the men 
that A. G. White led out on this picket line, who, in the 
name of King Immanuel, proceeded to set up their ban- 
ners and take possession. 

A few names appear that are already familiar in Ne- 
braska jMethodism as having done efficient service. 
Charles L. Smith is assigned the task of organizing the 
forces in Hamilton County, and gives a year of faithful, 
effective service, reporting more than 100 members. 

E. J. Willis, frail in body, cultured in mind, brave 
and devoted in spirit, does the same service in Clay 

3o8 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

These two, Smith and Willis, are the only effective 
elders reporting from this district at the following Con- 

We find in the Loup Valley, at St. Paul, Richard 
Pearson, who has just been received on trial in the Con- 
ference. But he has been serving in Saunders County 
as a supply for two years, and has been spoken of by his 
presiding elder as a "sort of spiritual fire-brand, leaving 
light and heat and power all over the circuit, every week 
witnessing an advance." Evidently his work at St. Paul 
is in the same spirit, and with substantially the same re- 
sults. A church is built and over loo added to the mem- 
bership. Before the year is out he will find cause to be 
thankful that he brought a good supply of clothing from 
England, for he will not be able to buy any for some 
years to come. 

Of the supplies, he found and put to work, D. A. 
Crowel, a supernumerary, who is sent to Kearney Cir- 
cuit. A church built and nearly one hundred added to 
the membership, are facts mentioned by the presiding 
elder, as showing him to be a "workman that needed not 
to be ashamed." He is soon after transferred to this 
Conference, but continued ill health limits his career of 
usefulness in Nebraska to a few years. 

A superannuated brother, J. S. Donaldson, of North- 
west Indiana Conference, though sixty-six years old, does 
effective work as a supply on the Grand Island Circuit, 
building a church at Grand Island. The presiding elder 
reports that notwithstanding this efficient service he is 
obliged to labor with his hands a portion of the time to 
secure the necessaries of life. 

Among the supplies that came to the assistance of 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 309 

Elder White at this trying time was Jepthah Marsh. He 
was born in Pennsylvania, February 6, 1825, was con- 
verted and joined the Church at the age of nineteen, and 
married to Miss Jerusha Campbell in 1850. He was 
licensed to preach in 1853 and received on trial in the 
Erie Conference in 1854. As supply and member of Con- 
ference he gave eight or nine years to the work of the 
ministry in that. Conference during which his labors were 
uniformly successful, his earnest, faithful preaching be- 
ing always attended with some revival power, and some- 
times he was blessed with great revivals. At one place a 
number of Indians were converted, one of whom becanie 
a preacher of the Gospel. 

His health failing, he took a supernumerary relation 
and came to Nebraska, March, 1873, intending to rest, 
and refrain from preaching at least a year. But such 
was the urgent need for men he was induced by Elder 
White to supply Wood River Circuit, beginning this pas- 
torate in May. Thus began the ministerial career of 
Jepthah Marsh in Nebraska. He is still on fire with a 
burning zeal and nearly everywhere he has gone, has 
kindled a flame of revival power, besides building up the 
Church in other ways. When he prays he seems to get 
close up to the throne of Divine power. He was trans- 
ferred to Nebraska Conference in 1874, 

Few have been more useful than has this saintly man 
during the year of his active ministry, both in Pennsyl- 
vania and Nebraska, and few crowns will have more stars 
than will the one our Lord will place on the brow of this 
humble servant, when he finally says to him, "Well done." 
He resides at University Place, and together with his 
faithful companion, is a benediction to all who come 

3IO History of Nebraska Methodism. 

within the range of their influence. He is an honored 
superannuate of the Nebraska Conference. May God 
raise up many more men Hke Jepthah Marsh. 

Perhaps the presiding elder deemed it a misfortune 
that the man he depended on did not go to Red Cloud, 
but it turned out otherwise when Charles Reilly, a local 
preacher, was found and sent in his stead. There had 
already been good work done in laying the foundations 
by that skillful and devoted workman, C. W. Wells, and 
that free lance, George Hummel, a local preacher, who 
had been holding revival-meetings in all that section, add- 
ing many to the Church. "Never," reports the presiding 
elder, "was appointment more fortunate. He found the 
Methodist elements scattered, but soon gathered them 
up and engaged in special services with a view to saving 
sinners. He worked each week as though it was his 
last. He svicceeded marvelously, and for months many 
souls were saved every week. He has sixteen appoint- 
ments and has had revivals at nearly all of them." The 
membership was increased from fifty-six to one hundred 
and fifty-five. He was admitted on trial at the Confer- 
ence of 1874, and continued in the work for some years, 
but was compelled to relinquish his work in 1879 and take 
a supernumerary relation, and is now a superannuated 
member of Nebraska Conference. He resides in Kearney, 
and as police judge is administering the law with the 
same fidelity that he preached the Gospel. 

Of M. A. Fairchild, who supplied Clarksville, the 
presiding elder significantly says, that "he expected but 
little from the people in the way of salary and was not 
disappointed." His service, "rendered in fatigue from 
the physical labors of the work during the week (made 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 311 

necessary by the scanty pay); and without previous study, 
could not be as edifying- as the Church needs, or as he 
could have performed under more favorable circum- 
stances. And this applies to nearly all the preachers of 
the district." 

Of the marvelous results of this year's work on the 
Kearney District the presiding elder informs us in this 
extract from his first report : 

"At the beginning of the year the membership of the 
district amomited to four hundred and ninety-two; now, 
we number fifteen hundred and fifty. As we report six- 
teen charges, the increase of ten hundred and fifty-eighr 
in the membership may not seem remarkable. But it 
should be remembered that some of these circuits have 
recently been organized and most of the pastors have 
given at least half their time to business to eke out a sup- 
port which the circuits could not give them, and sortie of 
them could give no more than two-sevenths of their time 
to the ministry. 

"But the Lord has been with us, and this explains our 

"There was no Church property reported to last Con- 
ference from the territory included in this district ; now 
we have property to the value of $10,000. 

"This was considered missionary ground, and during 
llie year we have received funds to aid in the w^ork as 
follo\\ s : 

From the Board of Missions, $2,512 50 

From the Board of Church Extension (by dona- 
tion), 300 00 

Total, ' f2,8i2 50 

312 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

"And in return for this investment the Church has ac- 
quired ten hundred and fifty members and property to 
the value of $10,000. And larger appropriations of mis- 
sionary and Church Extension funds would have been 
proportionally profitable to the Church. And the 
amount received is regarded as a Gospel loan to be repaid 
with interest in yearly installments ; and we have already 
commenced the liquidation of this debt. 

"We have explored the country, discovered some of 
its necessities and possibilities ; we have extended our 
skirmish line one hundred miles into the interior, and 
taken up some positions of strength and strategical im- 
portance. But how little, comparatively, has been accom- 
plished towards making the desert glad with the light and 
civilization of the Gospel ! The outposts are to be held 
and strengthened, and made batteries of Christian power. 

"The great battles are yet to be fought, the great ob- 
stacles to be overcome, and the great armies are yet to 
be supported in the field. And for this work we need 
men of mighty faith to lead the forlorn hopes of Chris- 
tian enterprise, — men of practical wisdom, mighty in 
word as well as in deed, to inspire confidence, infuse 
zeal, and organize the forces of the Church. 

"There is a little band of laborers engaged in this 
work who feel that God wills they should remain. The 
Church can do but little for them and the world will do 
less. The grasshopper plague has visited every part oi 
the district, and not a field escaped ; the corn crop, which ' 
was the main dependence of the frontier settlers, is 
ruined, and gaunt poverty frowns upon preachers and 
people, but 'in some way or other the Lord will provide,' 
or, if not, still we will remain and share in the fortunes 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 313 

of the people if the authorities of the Church shall so 

It will be noted that in his jubilation over the grand 
achievements he almost forgets the grasshopper scourge, 
which began in the summer of 1874, merely mention- 
ing it. 

The next three years on this district embraces the 
period of the grasshopper devastation, and their histor}- 
is a pathetic story of suffering on the part of the people 
in the district, and of heroic self-sacrihce on the part of 
the presiding elder and preachers. But it is also an in- 
spiring" story of splendid generosity on the part of the 
people in the older parts of Nebraska, and throughout 
the Church further east, by which these sufferings were 
greatly alleviated. 

It certainly presents a great and unlooked-for emer- 
gency. Will Methodism be ready for this emergency, 
and the man in charge be master of the situation ? 

Perhaps what has been said is sufficient as a por- 
trayal of how Methodism met the great emergency caused 
by the sudden inflow of vast numbers of people, and kept 
pace with the rapidly advancing tide as it swept over the 
prairies toward the western line of the State. A Church 
that could successfully meet and cope with such an emer- 
gency, may be confidently expected to be ready for any 
emergency. Surely, though, a severer test remains, when 
she is confronted with the conditions brought by the 
grasshopper plague. There had been much of hardship, 
it is true, connected with the rapidly developing work of 
the early seventies, but there was progress in both Church 
and State, and therefore much to inspire and encourage, 
and all were in good heart. The settler had built his 

314 History of Nebraska Methodism. . 

cabin or sod house, the latter becoming the prevailing 
type when the table-lands between the streams were oc- 
cupied. He had broken out enough prairie to furnish him 
a good crop the second year. Even the first year there 
was enough sod corn raised to carry his stock through 
the winter. This was one of the advantages the early 
settler of the prairie States had over the early settlers of 
Ohio and Indiana. There the timber had to be removed, 
stumps uprooted, and work that required many years of 
toil had to be done, before much of a farm could be 
opened. But here a most excellent and productive farm 
could be made in a year or two, and the advance toward 
comfort and a competence was much more rapid. 

The people were confidently looking forward to what 
seemed a bright and prosperous future, when they should 
move out of the "soddy" into the more comfortable home, 
and build school-houses and churches, and surround them- 
selves with all the elements of highest Christian civiliza- 
tion. Indeed, it would be difficult to conceive of a 
brighter prospect than that which invited the people of 
Nebraska to honest toil, and incited them to hopeful in- 
dustry, from 1870 to 1874. But suddenly, without a mo- 
ment's warning, an enemy appeared that changed the 
whole situation from one of brightest hopefulness to one 
of darkest despair; from rapidly increasing comfort to 
abject misery. 

Somewhere on the unoccupied plains of the great 
Northwest, there had been hatched countless millions of 
locusts, commonly called grasshoppers. Food supplies 
being soon exhausted in their native habitat, they followed 
their unerring instinct which led them with deadly pre- 
cision to the productive farms of the settlers in the West. 

History of Nebi^\ska Methodism. 315 

y\nd men who, in the morning looked out on thrifty crops 
and were already estimating there gain, were compelled 
in the evening to look on a scene of utter devastation. 
In the meanwhile, puissant man stood helpless in the 
])resence of this tiny insect whose combined energy thus 
far exceeded his own. But the picture of utter ruin 
wrought by these pests, and the constant scenes of suf- 
fering inflicted on tiiese settlers, especially in the large 
sections which had been so recently settled that people 
had not been able to accumulate anything as a reserve, 
can best be drawn by some who were in the midst of 
the scenes of desolation. Dr. Maxfield, whose district 
suffered much, thus paints the picture : 

"There have been certain reminders visiting us upon 
this district this year, keeping us keenly alive to the fact 
that we are still upon earth and not in heaven. I refer 
to the scourge of hot winds and grasshoppers, which I 
hitherto forbore to mention, because it rested heavily 
alike upon all parts of the district, without exception. 
The harvest of small crops — wheat, oats, and barley — 
had been gathered when the grasshoppers fell like snow-- 
flakes from the skies. Myriads in multitude, they settled 
everywhere, and devoured the vegetables in the garden 
and the growing corn in the fields. All consumed in an 
incredibly short space of time. Relentlessly the work of 
ruin proceeded until nothing but the ruin of the farmers' 
prospects remained. 

To those who have not visited the wasted districts, no 
adequate idea can be conveyed of the extent and complete- 
ness of the disaster visited upon us. P'amilies dependent 
upon corn alone are in a condition of absolute destitu- 
tion. Individual instances of suffering are not given, 

3i6 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

for, where the suffering is so general, to do so would 
seem an invidious distinction against a multitude equally 
worthy of mention. But very few families have left this 
district on account of this calamity. With a fortitude and 
courage praiseworthy in the highest degree, they have 
nearly all of them elected to remain. They have not 
asked to have the field curtailed, but that more preachers 
be given. A people so brave demand the best ministry 
in the world. 

"Of the preachers, but little can be said in blame or 
reproof. Volumes might be justly filled with their praise. 
I am unable to justly write the records of their noble 
lives and heroic sacrifices, but they are written in the 
book of God's remembrance, they shall be read at the last 
day in the hearing of all nations." 

While the whole State suffered and all the presiding 
elders make pathetic allusion to the scourge, Kearney 
District is the storm center of this awful visitation. Here 
the settlements were all new and scarcely any one had 
more than enough for a b?.rc ^subsistence, even if their 
crops had matured. Hence there is no one more com- 
petent to tell the sad story than A. G. White, the heroic, 
resourceful, and self-sacrificing presiding elder. He says : 

"One year ago Kearney District was financially pros- 
trate. 'The destruction that wasteth at noon-day' had 
come upon the whole land in the shape of prairie locusts ; 
the crops were consumed and the people left destitute and 
helpless. They could not carry forward their Church en- 
terprises nor support preachers, or even obtain for them- 
selves the necessaries of life, and yet they needed the Gos- 
pel none the less for their misfortune ; and the Church 
could not with honor, or with any Christian propriety, 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 317 

withdraw from the field merely because the people had 
been unfortunate. The missionary appropriation was 
barely sufficient to pay the house rent for the preacher, 
and this was about all the visible means of support they 
had. A forlorn hope without ammunition, and depending 
wholly upon the bayonet, has, in a desperate emergency, 
saved the honor of an army. And so these preachers went 
forth as representatives of a Gospel faith and of sacrifice 
and found the Divine assurance still in practical force, 
*Lo, I am with you.' Some of them have traveled their 
extensive circuits the whole year on foot, giving full proof 
of their ministry, and not neglecting the people in their 
underground cabins, who, in many cases, were kept at 
home for the want of clothing. And through the benevo- 
lence of Eastern friends these preachers have distributed 
relief to the amount of thousands of dollars among our 
needy people. Their congregations have been increased 
by distributing clothing to the poor who could otherwise 
not appear in public, and some were converted in the gar- 
ments furnished them and thus enabled to attend public 
worship. This has been a year of faith and trial. The 
preachers were led by the spirit into the wilderness, not 
knowing how they were to subsist, but 'bread has been 
given and their water has been sure.' Not one who went 
to his work was compelled by poverty to leave ; two were 
faint-hearted and declined their appointments. The past 
winter was unfavorable to special services, being intensely 
cold, and the people so straitened in their circumstances 
that they could not in every place obtain fuel and light for 
a place of worship, and many of them abandoned the 
country on account of the scourge. 

"At the time the appointments were made last Con- 


3i8 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

ference, it was apparent that the work could not be done 
unless extraordinary means should be used to procure 
subsistence for the preachers. Bishop Bowman had been 
in the district and knew the destitution of our people, 
and that many of them were not able to provide for them- 
selves, and must receive charitable assistance or perish ; 
he therefore advised me to go East for assistance, and 
gave me letters of commendation to our more fortunate 
brethren in the distance. Governor Furnas also highly 
approved of this charitable mission. 

After hastily arranging the district work and supply- 
ing a few charges with pastors, I went East to procure 
subsistance for the needy. My mission was regarded 
with great favor, and the people responded with a lib- 
erality far beyond my expectation. After an absence of 
two months, and organizing relief agencies as far as prac- 
ticable in that time, I returned to take the oversight of 
the distribution of supplies, and perform district work as 
I had opportunity. An extensive correspondence was 
opened up and supplies collected by this means from twen- 
ty-two States and Territories. 

Amount collected in cash, $2,850 00 

Amount collected in other supplies 10,46000 

Total, $13-310 00 

"Whole expense for collecting and distributing, in- 
cluding freight, expressage, stationery, postage, etc., 
$409.50, or a little more than three per cent. 

"I have taken vouchers for the cash distributed, but 
not for the other supplies, as they were sent in bulk, for 
the most part, to preachers and others who were well 
known, who would charge themselves with the work of 

History of Nebraska Methodisai. 319 

distributing them. A s.tatement of this business, and 
vouchers for the cash, are prepared for the information 
of Conference, and a committee is desired to inspect them. 
We have received timely assistance from the Boards of 
Missions and Churcli Extension, and from our Sunday- 
school Union, and thus we have been enabled, not only 
to maintain our position, but to strengthen it in spite of 
the plague of last year. We have not done much in re- 
turn, but have formed a higher appreciation of these great 
connectional interests, and propose to express it in a more 
practical manner in the future. Many of the people con- 
tracted debts the past year, but they have been favored 
with a good crop, and are again on the road to prosperity. 
The storm of adversity has winnowed out the chaff of 
our population, but the men of weight, of intelligence, of 
firmness and faith, remain to work out the fortunes of 
the Church and State ; and these people, many of them 
from the great cities, and from educational centers, are 
to be provided with the Gospel, and for this work tlie 
best talent of the Church is needed ; not the frothy and 
fanciful that floats upon the popular wave, but practical, 
consecrated workers to meet and mold the elements of 
society, and to cut the channels for fortune to run in. 

"For this work we do not desire one thousand-dollar 
men, nor two thousand-dollar men, nor three thousand- 
dollar men, but men who are not in the market — men 
who are above all price, who feel the force of the blas- 
ter's prayer and abide by it. 'As thou. Father, hast sent 
me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the 
world/ " 

The story of these marvelous four years on the Kear- 
ney District will find a fitting conclusion in the following 

320 History op" Nebraska Methodism. 

summary of results contained in A. G. White's last re- 
port, made at the Conference of 1877 : 

"Four years ago Kearney District had neither church 
nor parsonage ; now it has eight churches and three par- 
sonages, worth at least $16,000 over all indebtedness. 
And in addition to the above, six lots have been procured 
in Red Cloud and three in Fairfield for church purposes, 
and $2,000 pi'ovided for churches thereon. Then that 
entire region contained but 492 members, and 309 of those 
were taken into the Church under my supervision in con- 
nection with Omaha District. Now we have a member- 
ship of 2,200. Then there was not a Sunday-school in 
that vast territory, excepting on Clarksville Circuit — a 
new charge which had been organized and supplied by 
myself. Now we have fifty-four schools, 352 officers and 
teachers, 1,606 scholars, and 1,500 volumes in libraries. 
During every year of this district's existence a majority 
of the charges were left without pastors, and on those 
charges supplied by the elder has been more than half 
the increase in members and church property. All the 
members of Conference in Kearney District were brought 
into Conference through my agency ; so we have not 
drawn heavily upon the working force of the Conference. 

"During the last four years I have collected outside 
of the State, and distributed in it, in furtherance of our 
Church work, more money and its equivalent than the 
Church has ever paid me as fees and salary ; so I have 
not been a financial burden. 

"During these four years I have appointed fifty pas- 
tors. The most of these were noble men, and true to the 
great interests of the Church ; but in a few instances, 
yielding to the clamor of the people for preachers and 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 321 

depending mainly upon the commendations of strangers, 
I appointed men who were unsuitable for the work; but 
when this became known they were speedily dismissed. 

"We have aimed at better things, and with the means 
employed, would have wrought out better results in ordi- 
nary times ; but we are thankful to a kind Providence 
that it is no worse, and thankful to the brethren in the 
ministry for their efficient co-operation. And if in view 
of the peculiar conditions of the district, greater success 
has been realized than is customary in like circumstances, 
it may not be improper to indicate here the policy which 
has contributed to this result. 

"I have never supposed that my appointment to this 
position was a personal favor, or made for my good ; and 
it has never occurred to me that I had any right to use 
the influence of my office to accommodate ■ personal 
friends. I have acted conscientiously upon the belief that 
the preachers were the servants of the Church, and not 
the masters. And in appointing or recommending them 
for particular positions. I have sought first the greatest 
good of the Church, and always held that the interests of 
the preachers were of secondary importance. 

"And while I never made an appointment for the 
purpose of gaining a friend, or retaining one. I have for- 
tunately been associated with men of such broad Chris- 
tian principles, that they have thought none the less of 
me for holding their interests in abeyance. These 
preachers are impressed with the idea that 'the kingdom 
of God is not in word, but in power.' Hence, while they 
modestly profess their kinship to Christ, with vigor and 
persistence they demonstrate the fact by their works. 
And they cultivate a type of piety which is not boisterous 

322 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

or showy, but fruitful. And they have exhibited a supe- 
rior abiUty to cause things to come to pass. If they had 
no opportunity for usefulness, they quickly made an op- 
portunity and improved it. If circumstances were un- 
favorable, they proceeded to convert the circumstances 
and then use them. And as the coral insect, with no 
other resources, finds in its own body the substance for 
the foundation of a continent, so these brethren, 'with a 
heart for any fate,' with but little human support, either 
financial or moral, and thrown out across the track of the 
destroyer, have drawn from their personal resources the 
material for a monument of ministerial efficiency, which 
proclaims them to be in the true succession from the Head 
of the Church through the founder of Methodism." 

Of A. G. White's personal service and sacrifices, he 
says little or nothing, but the spirit in which he did it, 
and the character of the man will be better understood by 
a few facts that others relate. Many a hard-pressed pas- 
tor was surprised when he had taken the collection for 
the presiding elder's claim, to have it quietly handed back 
with the remark, "You need it more than I do." 

He would allow nothing but insurmountable obsta- 
cles to keep him from his appointments. At one time he 
was due at Gibbon to hold a quarterly-meeting some time 
in the month of March, and coming up from the south, 
found no way of crossing the Platte, but to wade it, which 
he promptly proceeded to do, reaching his quarterly- 
meeting in time, with zeal for God's cause undiminished. 
The ministers came to the nearest railroad for him and 
brought him back wherever practicable. Brother Hale 
took him sixty-five miles on one occasion. But ii was 
not always possible for the pastors to do this, especially 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 323 

in such cases, of which there were not a few, where the 
pastors themselves had no horse, and were compelled to 
travel their large circuits on foot. But if A. G. White 
could get to his quarterly-meeting no other way, he would 
not hesitate to go on foot, often walking long distances 
rather than miss his appointment. 


THIRD PERIOD. (1870- 1880.) 


If it was providential that A. G. White should be 
placed in charge of Kearney District in 1873, on the eve 
of a great calamity, it was equally fortunate that T. B. 
Lemon should be assigned to the district, just as it was 
rallying from the effects of that calamity and girding it- 
self for a marvelous advance along all lines. 

It is no secret that T. B. Lemon felt aggrieved that 
he should be sent to that hard field, nor is it surprising 
that he should feel so. He is already well advanced in 
life, being fifty-eight years old, and not being very vigor- 
ous in body, he naturally feared that he would be phys- 
ically unable to stand the strain. Indeed, it really seemed 
perilous, and many of his friends earnestly protested 
against the appointment. In all this there is absolutely 
no taint of disloyalty on the part of Dr. Lemon, and it is 
not to his discredit in the least that he should hesitate in 
the matter. 

But this is one of those cases where the wisest do not 
always know what is best for them, and an over-ruling 
Providence seems strangely directing our course. 

Dr. Lemon entered heartily into the work on the dis- 
trict, and soon found his health improving, and coming 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 325 

to like the work, was permitted to do his greatest work 
on this district. 

It is remarkable that while the grasshopper scourge 
temporarily checked immigration, it did not stop it. The 
increase in population in the State from 1870 to 1875 was 
124,000, while it was 205,000 from 1875 to 1880. The 
smaller increase for the first half of the decade as com- 
pared with the last half, is doubtless owing to the larger' 
number leaving the State at that time. 

Up to the close of Dr. Lemon's first year on this dis- 
trict, the country barely had time to rally from the dis- 
asters of the preceding three years, and in his first report 
the tone is not so hopeful and jubilant as in subsequent 
reports. There had been much to confirm his conviction 
that the appointment was a mistake. He had had a long 
and severe spell of sickness early in the year. The doubts 
regarding the future of the country were still prevalent 
and seemed well grounded. The force at his command, 
both of men and means, seemed inadequate. But recov- 
ering from that illness he takes up his great task, visits 
his vast field, musters such forces as are at his command, 
and by the following year things begin to move at a rapid 
rate under the inspiring leadership of this strong man. 

The strength of his Christian character is revealed in 
no other way so clearly as in resistance of the temptation 
to give up so sadly expressed in these words contained in 
his first report : 

"The Church has not received much addition from 
the immigration of the past year, but the people are com- 
ing and the valleys and divides are filling up and the 
Gospel preached by earnest, consecrated men can bring 
them to Christ. Within this vast territory there were 

326 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

twenty-one appointments and only eight men appointed 
by the bishop from the Conference, leaving thirteen ap- 
pointments to be supplied, with only $1,400 to aid the 
men to work this field, and every charge purely mission- 
ary. With so few men, such limited means, and our own 
health impaired by overtaxing our energies during the 
past year, and the extent of the field before us, we felt 
more like giving up than ever before, but after prayer 
and reflection, we resolved to be obedient to the powers 
that be and enter upon and do the best we could, with 
very little expectation of standing it for the year, or ap- 
pearing before this Conference with a report from Kear- 
ney District, but God has been good, and in mercy has 
preserved us. During the first quarter we did but little 
in consequence of an illness which prostrated us for a part 
of the winter, but the few men sent to the district did 
double work to aid us, and they ably served the charges 
they were sent to, so that no loss was sustained by our 

None but the strongest character, grounded in mighty 
faith in God, could have met this moral crisis, and con- 
quered, as did T. B. Lemon. We honor him all the more 
because he stands the severest test to which a Methodist 
preacher can be sometimes subjected, to honestly ques- 
tion the wisdom and justice of the appointing power. 

But not only does he remain firm and go to his task 
in the spirit of loyal submission to constituted authority, 
but we find even in his first report some fore-gleams of 
that fierv enthusiasm which soon comes to characterize 
the spirit in which he did his work in that portion of the 
State. And what is perhaps of even more importance, 
he was able to communicate this enthusiasm to the band 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 327 

of workers he soon gathered about him. Hereafter his 
reports to Conference were an inspiration to all of us. 

Perhaps no portion of the story of the first twenty- 
five years of Nebraska Methodism is more pathetic in the 
tale of suffering to be recorded, or more inspiring in the 
recital of the heroic self-sacrifice of the preachers, and 
the marvelous growth of the district in the face of these 

When the district was organized in 1873, few in the 
Conference had much faith in the enterprise except A. G. 
White. When the report of the Committee on Appropria- 
tions of missionary money to the different missions was 
presented, one brother moved to strike out some of the 
missions in the proposed Kearney District, and had his 
map and other proofs ready to show that that part of the 
country could not be settled, and that to appropriate mis- 
sionary money to such a field was to squander it. But 
the men of faith prevailed and Kearney District set out 
on its eventful career. 

Small indeed were its beginnings, as has already been 
mentioned. Had all the conditions remained favorable, 
the actual achievements of seven years could hardly have 
seemed possible. But when we remember that through 
nearly or quite half of this seven years the conditions 
were about as bad as they possibly could be, many leav- 
ing the country, and those that remained being so im- 
poverished as to be unable to build any churches or par- 
sonages, or even pay their pastors enough to keep them 
from suffering, the growth has been simply marvelous. 

In his first report, after stating that his district con- 
tained thirty-one counties, lying principally in the Re- 
publican, Platte, and Loup Valleys, and containing an 

328 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

area of 20,000 square miles, Dr. Lemon speaks this of 
the year's work and of its difficulties : 

"We think the statistics will show that our frontier 
district has not been neglected, but the duties enjoined by 
our Discipline have been attended to. We have in per- 
son visited all the counties in the district and made per- 
sonal examination of the country and its wants and what 
we say of the demands are from personal observation. 
We need for that vast district of country men and means. 
Our sister Churches are putting up their best young men 
at the important centers and places of promise along the 
thoroughfares of travel, and liberally supporting them 
from their mission and Church Extension funds, and say- 
ing, 'Occupy and build churches, and we will help you 
until your people can sustain themselves.' Alongside of 
these agencies we are compelled to employ the local 
preacher, who has to toil day by day to support his fam- 
ily, as the people are not able to support him, and our 
missionary appropriation to these charges very small — 
amounting only to some fifty dollars — while in the same 
places our sister Churches give from four hundred to 
seven hundred dollars to their preachers. Yet with all 
these disadvantages, our employed local aid and the few 
men sent from Conference, have nobly met and overcome 
the discouragements, and the results of their labors have 
been glorious, but how much greater would have been 
the results if we had had the men and means to meet 
the increasing demands of that growing country ! Give 
us .these and you will hear good tidings from the West.'* 

The reader will doubtless want to know something 
more about these men who rallied around Dr. Lemon, 
and under his leadership brought about such results. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 329 

Besides the men that T. B. Lemon found on the dis- 
trict of whom mention has been made, there is one, Rev. 
C. A. Hale, whom we find at St. Paul. He has already 
done much pioneer work, penetrating as early as 1875 
into the unorganized territory now comprised in Custer 
County, preaching the first sermon and organizing the 
iirst Sunday-school in all that section of country, in a 
dug-out on the Middle Loup River, at what is now Corn- 
stock. Twenty miles further up the Loup was Lillian 
settlement, and here in the summer of 1875, Brother Hale 
and another minister of a sister Church, preached the 
first sermons in that part of tlie country. We have no 
means of knowing which was first, but if the usual cus- 
tom was adhered to it was that of the Methodist preacher. 
Brother Lemon finds Brother Hale at St. Paul in 1877, 
with a large family, just at the close of three successive 
years of grasshopper devastation. He feels it due to his 
family to suspend preaching for a time. Of this enforced 
retirement Dr. Lemon says in his report : "We regret 
to lose Brother Hale from the ministry ; he is a good 
preacher, a pure, upright man." But he is back in the 
ranks again in a few years and T. B. Lemon had no more 
loyal supporter, and West Nebraska Methodism received 
a large contribution from his faithful and efficient labors 
on small stations, large circuits and districts through 
many succeeding years. His brethren express their ap- 
preciation of the worth of the man and his work by elect- 
ing him as a delegate to the General Conference in 1896. 

Brother Hale was transferred to the Nebraska Con- 
ference in 1900, and has most of the time since resided in 
University Place, serving such charges as are contiguous, 
and still doing good work for the Master. 

330 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Others come into the district this first year. Amoni? 
these is the brilliant orator and erratic man, John Arni- 
strong, who serves Kearney, and who, after attaining to 
the position of a special transfer, was in demand by 
some of the best Churches, and actually filled some of the 
best pulpits in Methodism. Finally, when pastor of one 
of the best Churches in Kansas City, he drops out of the 
ministry because of an unwillingness to pay his honest 
debts, a trait that had characterized to some extent his 
whole career, but had grown worse, as usual, and be- 
came intolerable. 

Edward Thomson, son of Bishop Thomson, is at 
Hastings, but is soon changed to North Platte, which is 
seen by the keen perception of this wise presiding elder 
to have reached a point, where the right man, given a 
fair chance, will bring the charge into conditions of per- 
manent strength. This is what Edward Thomson did 
for North Platte. He is soon to be called to the educa- 
tional work of the Church, and as related elsewhere, is 
the first principal of our first Conference Seminary at 
York. He is afterward called to the head of the Malla- 
lieu University in 1886. 

Thomson's place at Hastings is filled by A. C. 
Crosthwaite, a transfer from the Pennsylvania Confer- 
ence. He remains three years and his presiding elder 
says, "has proved himself to be the right man in the right 
place." He, too, comes to Hastings at a critical time, 
when the right man can start a charge on a career of per- 
manent growth and power. This is what Crosthwaite 
did for Hastings, building a fine church and strengthen- 
ing the work there along all lines, and it has ever since 
taken rank as one of our most important stations. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 331 

The writer first met A. C. Crosthwaite at a meeting 
of the Conference Church Extension Board, being a mem- 
ber at the time. He well remembers with what thor- 
oughness Brother Crosthwaite, who was there with an ap- 
plication for aid for the Hastings Church, presented his 
case and won it. I have been impressed since as 1 have 
watched his career, as he has filled the successive impor- 
tant places to which he has been appointed, that the secret 
of his pronounced success may be found in that one trait, 
tlioroughness, more than in any other one thing. Besides 
Hastings he has served many of our most important pas- 
orates, including York, and a full term as presiding elder 
of the York District. He was for many years secretary 
of the Conference, and in 1888 was one of the delegates 
to the General Conference, and was chosen one of the as- 
sistant secretaries of that body. He is still in the effect- 
ive ranks, serving his second year at Edgar, and gives 
promise of many more useful years of work. 

Another name appears on the Kearney District in 
1878 that presents some remarkable features. Charles L. 
Brockway was received on trial in 1876, and in 1880, at 
the same Conference that he was ordained elder, he was 
appointed presiding elder of the Hastings District. This 
rapid advance to a place of such responsibility has oc- 
curred but few times, if ever, in the history of Meth- 
odism, and certainly never before or since in the history 
of Nebraska Methodism. The nearest approach to it was 
the case of Leslie Stevens, who was ordained elder in 
1885, and appointed presiding elder in 1886. This was 
also under Dr. Lemon's administration, and was one of 
the best things he ever did. 

Brockway had joined the Conference on trial under 

33-2 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Dr. Lemon, while the latter was yet presiding elder of 
the Nebraska City District, and joined the ranks of his 
devoted followers in the Kearney District in 1878. They 
were mutually attracted to each other. Dr. Lemon so 
strongly impressing himself on the younger man that he 
either consciously or unconsciously imitated the Doctor's 
peculiar style of oratory so closely as to be a matter of 
common remark. But this was the case with Amsbary 
and many other young preachers who came under the 
spell of his oratory. But there was also something about 
Brockway that strongly impressed Dr. Lemon with his 
superior talent and capability. Brockway had been a law- 
yer before entering the ministry, and was a well-matured 
man when he entered our work. Besides, his self-con- 
sciousness relieved him of any of those difficulties aris- 
ing from diffidence which sometimes hinders young men 
at the beginning of their career. This natural tendency 
to undue self-confidence might have remained within 
proper bounds had he not been unduly pushed forward. 
If Dr. Lemon failed anywhere it was at this point, where 
his affection for one of his boys tended to blind him to 
any possible danger of this kind and he recommended 
Brockway for presiding elder when the Hastings District 
was formed. This proved a calamity for the Church, 
and a misfortune to Brockway himself. His vanity was 
inflamed, and he became reckless in his conduct and fell. 
Perhaps of all the young men who rallied round T. 
B. Lemon, none were superior, and few equal, to Leslie 
Stevens, who joined the ranks in 1878, and was received 
on trial in 1880. Of the character and career of this 
choice young man, a writer who worked by his side and 
knew him well, shall speak. I quote from an article pub- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 333 

lished in a newspaper on the eve of his departure for 
China to become superintendent of Central China Mis- 
sion : 

"Rev. Leslie Stevens, presiding elder of Kearney Dis- 
trict, and under appointment as superintendent of the 
Central China Mission, was born in Michigan, April 25, 
1858, and is therefore thirty-two years of age. As a boy 
he attended the public schools and obtained a fair com- 
mon school education to which he has since added a large 
store of special and general knowledge by intelligent ef- 
fort and intense application to books and professional 
duties, as a pastor and presiding elder on the frontier of 

"He early in life embraced religion and joined the 
Methodist Episcopal Church. A short time in the work 
of the Church convinced him that he was called of God 
to be a messenger of His truth. Licensed to preach 
he served as a supply for about a year and a half, and 
in 1880 was admitted on trial in the Nebraska Confer- 
ence. For five years after his admission into the Con- 
ference, he did splendid work all over Western Nebraska. 
So great was his success in administering the affairs of 
the Church, that at the Annual Conference, held 
at Sidney in the fall of 1886, he was appointed pre- 
siding elder of Sidney District. This appointment was 
made through the efforts of that great and good man, 
who very recently has gone to his reward, Rev. Dr. 
Lemon, who having the greatest confidence in the young 
man's judgment, honesty, and capacity, gave him such 
strong indorsements that the presiding bishop could not 
do otherwise than appoint him to the honorable position. 
The action of the bishop in appointing such a young man 

334 History of* Nebraska Meth.odism. 

to such a position was severely criticised at the time, but 
time has proven the wisdom of his choice. One year in 
the presiding eldership was sufficient for the people ever)^- 
where in the district to recognize that he had by his en- 
ergetic efforts, indomitable pluck, devotion to the Church, 
and executive ability, deserved the honor. He entered 
upon his duties of the second year in the same position, 
fully conversant with the Churches and people in his dis- 
trict. He displayed the same activity, sympathy, and zeal 
in serving the humblest Church that he did for the most 
influential. In the fall of 1887, Brother Stevens was 
taken from the Sidney District and placed in charge of 
the Kearney District, the strongest and most important 
district in the West Nebraska Conference. From that time 
to the present he has labored assiduously for the Church 
and district, over which he presides with so much grace. 

"The Kearney District has made wonderful growth 
during his incumbency. When he was pastor at St. Paul, 
Nebraska, he wooed and won Miss Minnie Phillips, of 
that city. We would feel that this sketch would be in- 
complete, if we failed to say anything of Brother Ste- 
vens's wife. 

"Mrs. Stevens is a noble woman of queenly bearing. 
Her sunny spirit has hardly its peer for sustained cheer- 
fulness. Her home is the shrine of natural beauty, good 
sense, and good taste, the very incarnation of comfort. 
When asked about going to China, she replied, 'I am per- 
fectly satisfied.' 

"Bishop Newman gave his opinion of Brother Ste- 
vens's appointment to China in the following words : 'It 
is a good appointment. Brother Stevens is an able young 
man, earnest in his labors in the ministry, and in every 

History oi^ Nebraska Methodism. 335 

way qualified for the important duties which will devolve 
upon him in his new field. I know him well, and I think 
him one of the coming lights in the Methodist work.' 

"The position to which Brother Stevens is appointed 
is not that exactly of missionary, but as superintendent of 
the 'Central China Mission/ with headquarters at Wan- 
king, the abiding place of the famous porcelain tower. 
There has been a mission at that point since 1868. and in 
the confines of the mission are about fifteen missionaries, 
and a number of ladies who work in the schools and hos- 
pitals under the auspices of the Woman's Foreign Mis- 
sionary Society. The position of superintendent of this 
important mission is one requiring great executive and 
administrative ability, and those who are acquainted with 
Brother Stevens know full well his peculiar fitness." 

By -the year 1879 others joined the ranks in the Kear- 
ney District. E. G. Fowler, frail of body but strong of 
purpose, with an ambition far transcending his physical 
endurance, joins the ranks. He was something of a poet 
as well as preacher, and in his preaching his polished 
thoughts were clothed in poetic expression. The writer 
remembers reading a most excellent poem written by him 
on the occasion of the printing of the entire New Testa- 
ment in the Chicago Times, at the time the new version 
was first published. He spent several years in the State, 
filling South Tenth Street, Omaha, Stanton, and other 
important places, when he transferred to a Western Con- 

William Esplin appears for the first time as a supply 
on the Ord Circuit in 1879, ^"d is received on trial in 
1880. None have been more faithful and efficient through 
a quarter of a century than this hearty, cheerful, conse- 

336 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

crated man of God. He remains in the West Nebraska 
Mission Conference till 1885, when he was transferred 
to the North Nebraska Conference. His career in this 
Conference has been creditable in the highest degree, fill- 
ing some of the most important charges, like Randolph, 
Hooper, and his present charge. Hirst Memorial Church, 
Omaha. His pastorates have been uniformly successful, 
and his good, strong, common sense, his sound preach- 
ing and cheerful, pleasant, genuinely sympathetic pas- 
toral work has made him deservedly popular, and he has 
usually served the full term. 

C. A. Mastin is admitted on trial in 1879, being one 
of a large class of nineteen admitted that year. He is 
appointed to Minden, and begins a career of great useful- 
ness, which seems yet to promise many years of efficient 
service. He has been uniformly popular as a pastor, al- 
most invariably serving the full legal term. He was ap- 
pointed presiding elder of the Indianola District in 1889, 
and was successful and well liked by all, and might have 
remained the legal term of six years, but finding the pas- 
torate much more suited to his taste he asked to be re- 
lieved of district work, and resumed the pastoral work, 
being assigned to Lexington. His next charge is First 
Church, Kearney. He served for several years as chap- 
lain of State Reform School at Kearney, and is now again 
pastor of First Church. He has been twice honored by 
his brethren by an election to the General Conference, 
each time on the first ballot; the last time he was in the 
pastorate when elected. 

He has already given a quarter of a century to the 
work in West Nebraska. He has long occupied the most 
important fields, and none have contributed more valua- 

History of Nebraska Methodism, 337 

ble service in building up that Conference to its present 

David Fetz is referred to elsewhere as the zealous 
local preacher who waited not for the presiding- elder, 
but with another local preacher, Moses Mapes, as early 
as 1873-74, carried the Gospel to the settlers in Webster 
and Adams Counties, and was blessed. with great revivals. 
This was not out of any disrespect for the presiding elder, 
but the need was so pressing that he felt that he must 
not wait. But he does not have to wait long for the com- 
ing of the presiding elder, and we soon find David Fetz 
taking his place in the regular way, first as a supply in 
1878, and then in 1880 he is received on trial along with 
a class of twelve. Since then his career has been one of 
constant usefulness, often on humbler circuits, but every 
year counting for good. 

J. M. Dressier appears as a supply on the Plum Creek 
Circuit in 1878, and has seemed to prefer to remain in 
the local ranks. He has greatly honored that class of 
workers, which have seemed of late to be in danger of 
dropping into a condition of "innocuous desuetude." Few 
men in the regular work as members of Conference have 
put in more years of continuous service, or have done 
better work for the Master, than J. M. Dressier, local 
preacher. In later years his work has been within the 
bounds of the North Nebraska Conference, and princi- 
pally in the Grand Island District. 

And last, but by no means least, appears the name of 
P. C. Johnson, in 1879, as pastor at North Platte. With- 
out doubt he stands next to Dr. Lemon as an influential 
factor in developing West Nebraska Mission into West 
Nebraska Conference in 1885. 

338 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

P. C. Johnson was born in New York, July 14, 1836, 
and was educated in private and public schools in that 
city. On the death of his mother, in 1846, he was sent 
to Perrinesville, New Jersey, where he spent several 
years on a farm, getting some training from the country 
schools. He was converted in 1858, and joined the Meth- 
odist Church; taught school till the war. Then his pa- 
triotism finds expression in a prompt enlistment in the 
Third Regiment of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, was 
soon at the front, and participated in seven days' fight be- 
fore Richmond, and was wounded in the head at the bat- 
tle of White Oak Swamps, and taken to the West Phila- 
delphia Hospital, where he remained over two months and 
was then honorably discharged from the army in Sep- 
tember, 1862, after fourteen months in the service of his 

He was licensed to preach in 1866, and after serving 
one year as a supply, was admitted on trial in the New 
Jersey Conference. After serving several charges in that 
Conference he was, in March, 1876, transferred to the 
Nebraska Conference, and stationed at Tecumseh. Of 
his pastorate here, and of some of the laymen in that 
Church, he speaks thus pleasantly in a paper read before 
the Methodist Historical Society, on "A preacher's esti- 
mate of some of the laymen I have known :" "There was 
a class of men at Tecumseh that impressed me very fa- 
vorably. They were plain men, without any society frip- 
pery whatever. They made no pretension — they simply 
did whatever there was to do. I may mention their 
names, partly by way of honoring them, and partly that 
you may, if you care to, know them. Andrew Cook, 
Joseph Pilmore, John Graff, Robert Robb, and Dr. C. K. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 339 

Chubbuck. Others there may be that deserve mention, 
but I can not recall them now." 

Of these laymen he further says : "Andrew Cook was 
an Englishman by birth, but an American by adoption. 
Just when he joined the Methodist Church I do not 
know. His piety was a practical kind and he was not 
strictly orthodox, that is, to let some estimate his theol- 
ogy. But he was a good man, honest, generous, prompt, 
liberal in sentiment and sincere in his faith and life. 
He lived and died a trustful follower of the Master. 
For a number of years he was a steady supporter, re- 
liable member, and firm adherent of the Church in 

"Joseph Pilmore was also an Englishman. He was 
a strict constructionist in matters of doctrine, and a rigid 
disciplinarian. Brother Cook and he were not made in 
the same mold and they would good naturedly clash abotit 
many things ; the first suave and courteous, the second, 
short and pointed, but both good men and honest. 

"John Graff was the silent man. He kept his own 
counsel, did his own thinking, said it in few words — 
but he always paid his share without a murmur. 

"Robert Robb was the old-fashioned Methodist of the 
lot — an emotional man, ready to cry as occasion de- 
manded, not insincerely, however, for Brother Robb was 
all heart. 

"Dr. C. K. Chubbuck was the manager of the party. 
His sense, skill, financial and other ability, were often 
depended on by the others ; while they would co-operate 
with him almost in every plan he might propose. 

"Of course there were some others who aided these 
leaders in their plans and work and made them a success. 

340 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

It was never in my ministry, mine to see five men who 
could work together more pleasantly, and harmoniously, 
and successfully than could these." 

After a successful pastorate at Tecumseh, he was sta- 
tioned at the important Eighteenth Street Church in 
Omaha, and then after a year at South Tenth Street in 
Omaha, he goes to North Platte. Here he begins his 
career of great usefulness in connection with the work in 
West Nebraska. Of his pastorate here he has this to say 
in the paper above referred to : "When I went to North 
Platte, 300 miles west of Omaha, I found a small Church 
membership almost entirely composed of women. The 
society had been organized but a little time before. My 
immediate predecessor was Dr. Edward Thomson. 
There was no church building — we used the house of the 
Baptist brethren. There was, however, a small parson- 
age on the north side of the railroad track. 

"Among these women were Mrs. Charles McDonald, 
Mrs. Joe McConnell, Mrs. Alice Robinson, Mrs. Russell 
Watts, Mrs. Spoor, and others. I recall the name of but 
one man, and the mention of it would add no interest to 
the record, for so far as I can /emember, he was noted 
only for his good-natured uselessness. 

"These women were 'the fathers of Methodism' in 
North Platte, and incidentally of all that region. They 
did the work, paid the bills, aided the pastor, ran the en- 
terprises of the Church, taught in the Sunday-school, 
filled the prayer-meetings, and had about all the religion 
there was in the place. 

"The pastor would not have been in it at all had it not 
been for the women of the Church, for he would have 
had to move out and seek for work elsewhere. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 341 

"A word or two about each of these. Mrs. McDonald 
was a woman of very fine tastes, deeply pious, and yet 
withal, she possessed sound, practical sense, and to the 
extent her health pemiitted, worked and did her share. 
She has since died. 

"Mrs. McConnell was the leader in almost every de- 
partment of Church work. She was of petite figure, in- 
tensely active, always in earnest, lively and sprightly, 
possessing a mind and will of her own, never asking any- 
body's permission either to think or act. She was an in- 
tense Methodist, yet not of the shouting kind. She was 
always in motion and could be relied on for anything 
within the length of her cable tow. She now lives in 

"Mrs. Robinson was a woman of very practical sense. 
She was pre-eminently the worker. She collected the 
pastor's salary, and it was collected, too. She could 
shame scores of men into shadowy silence, with their 
miserable cry of 'Can't do it.' She was a woman of kind 
heart, and generous impulses, yet, if she took a notion to, 
she would wound her best friends. We soon came to 
know her, appreciate her excellencies, and love her for 
her real, solid worth. She was a whole-hearted Meth- 
odist and Christian. The story of her husband's conver- 
sion is one of the most thrilling I ever knew. 

"Mrs. Watts was one of the purest, kindest, truest 
women God ever made. She was not so pronounced in 
her manners as some. Not at all demonstrative, but very 
true, and certain all the same. These were a type of 
laymen found 'away out West' from twenty-five to thirty 
years ago. Of all the places I ever served in my ministry, 
East or West, in the past thirty-nine years, I liked none 

342 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

better than North Platte. And could I have my way, I 
would ask for no better set of laymen than were the good 
sisters of North Platte." 

Dr. Johnson was next sent to Grand Island, where he 
found another Church which had for more than ten years 
been struggling for existence, but was just ready to 
emerge out of these conditions of weakness into strength, 
and power, and influence, that has characterized it since, 
and he again proves the right man for the place, and 
does much during his pastorate to secure this much- 
wished but long-waited-for consummation. He was then 
placed in charge of the Grand Island District in 1889. In 
his first report he gives the following description of this 
district and his year's work : 

"Grand Island District occupies the northeastern and 
northern half of the West Nebraska Mission. Bounded 
on the south by the U. P. R. R., east by North Nebraska 
Conference, north by Dakota, and separated from the 
Kearney District by the Middle Loup River. 

"Its territory is large enough for more than forty-five 
counties of the average size of Nebraska counties, viz : 
twenty-four miles square, or 16,000,000 acres, and is 
traversed by the U. P., the Grand Island and North Loup, 
and the Sioux City and Pacific Railroads. (This terri- 
tory is larger than three States the size of New 

"It contains a population of about from 25,000 to 30,- 
00c persons, and possesses a number of rapidly growing 
towns, destined to be in the near future towns of consid- 
erable importance, a business center of a fine agriculture 
and stock raising community." 

When the General Conference of 1884 established the 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 343 

line between the North and the West Nebraska Confer- 
ences, so that it ran along the west line of Hall County, 
taking that and Merrick from the West Nebraska Con- 
ference, it of course took the main portion of Johnson's 
district, and he was appointed to the Republican Valley 

In 1888 Dr. Johnson transferred to the Nebraska Con- 
ference, where he has since labored efifectively in differ- 
ent pastoral charges, and is now field agent for the Semi- 
centennial Superannuate Fund, 

Dr. Johnson was on the commission that instituted 
the "Plan of Unification" for our educational work, and 
has tv/ice been a delegate to the General Conference, from 
the West Nebraska Conference in 1888, and from the 
Nebraska Conference in igoo. 

These places of high trust and great responsibility to 
which his brethren have called him are a fair index to 
the high esteem in which Dr. Johnson is justly held by 
those who know him best. 

It is a matter worthy of special remark that Dr. Lemon 
not only attracted men in large numbers, but also many 
of high qualities, of cultured mind and character, as the 
foregoing sketches make manifest. 

As to the number, many were needed, and this saga- 
cious leader found ways of securing them. It will be 
noticed in the Minutes of 1877 the number admitted on 
trial was five, and in 1878,* four. But at the end of Dr. 
Lemon's second year, in 1879, the number ran up to nine- 
teen, and in 1880 it was twelve, or thirty-one recruits in 
two years. A further scrutiny of the Minutes explains 
the mystery of the sudden increase. Twelve of them are 
the young men who have rallied around this great leader. 

344 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Of the twelve coming up for admission in 1880, five are 
from this district. 

In 1880, the close of the period we are treating, we 
find that the little band that A. G. White led out into the 
wilderness had grown under his leadership and that of 
T. B. Lemon, to a sufficient number of men and charges 
to lead the General Conference, at its session in May, 
1880, to organize the West Nebraska Mission, with twen- 
ty-two members, and there were still enough left to con- 
stitute the Hastings District with nineteen appointments. 

Thus closes the brief story of this marvelous Third 
Period of our History. How much of all that is highest 
in human character, greatest in human achievement, have 
been crowded into these ten years ! Almost an entire 
State has been wrested from the dominion of Nature, 
populated, and put to the uses of Christian civilization. 
In all this Methodism has been true to her mission. 

FOURTH PERIOD. (1880-1904.) 


If the retrospect of the achievements of the Third 
Period tend to make Nebraska Methodists grateful to 
the Great Plead of the Church, these very achievements 
will keep us busy during the Fourth and last Period. 
This conquest of a State will make possible, and even 
necessary, further expansion along many lines, as we shall 

The first of these will be the speedy organization of 
two new Conferences. The verv large growth of the 
past has made this a necessity. In the carrying out of 
that feature of our polity, known as the itinerancy, the 
Annual Conference becomes the unit of administration. In 
it are centered the interests, both of the local Churches 
and of the pastor. Though this is not strictly a function 
of the Conference proper, but of the appointing power, it 
is there the Bishop and his cabinet determines the mo- 
mentous question for each charge as to who is to be their 
pastor, and for each preacher, what is to be his field of 
labor to which he and his family are expected to go. 
It is here the pastor makes his report for the year past 
and receives his marching orders for the year to follow. 
It is here that the Annual Conference examines every one 
of its members, and the bishop asks in open Conference 
whether there is anything against him. Till this is an- 
swered in the negative, the Conference will not pass his 


346 History of Nb;braska Methodism. 

character. Any preacher, or the humblest lay member 
of the Church may be there, and if they know any reason 
why his character should not be approved, they may, in 
due form, say so, and the challenge will be respected and 
they will be heard. It is there the undergraduates are 
examined in their studies, and to them the Annual Con- 
ference is a theological school, with its four years' course 
of study, and the usual requirement is that they attain to 
a grading of seventy out of a possible rating of one hun- 
dred. They must pass their examination before com- 
mittees appointed for that purpose. 

Besides these and other legal aspects of the annual 
gathering, which makes it the imperative duty of each 
preacher to be there, if possible, it is a most happy reunion 
of the soldiers in the field, and their wives. Then there 
is very sure to be the bishop, and a bishop is a very large 
personage in the eyes of the young preacher. Besides the 
bishop, some of the strongest men of the Church will be 
there to represent some of the connectional interests. 

For these reasons, every preacher ought to be, and 
wants to be, and usually is, at the Conference session. 
But the work having extended over so large an area, to 
attend Conference will mean for some hundreds of miles 
of travel and an expenditure of money out of all propor- 
tion to the amount received. Hence new Conferences 
have become a necessity, and will follow in due course. 

The first move in this direction is the organization of 
the West Nebraska Mission, embracing substantially the 
same territory as that comprised in the West and North- 
west Conferences, except that the line came a little fur- 
ther east, taking in Hall and Merrick Counties along the 
Platte, and Holt County along the Elkhorn. 



r. J. L. St. Clair. 2. J. R. Gearhart. 3. J. Q. A. Flehartv. 4. C. F. 

Heywood. 5. C. W. Wells. 6. W. H. Carter. 7. Jabez Charles. 

8. John P. Roe. 9. J. M. Adair. 


348 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

At the session of the Nebraska Conference at York, 
in 1 88 1, it was decided by vote to make two Conferences 
of the territory lying east of the West Nebraska Mission, 
making the Platte River the dividing line running east 
and west, and the next year the North Nebraska Confer- 
ence met for the first time on September 14, 1882, at 
Fremont, and its organization was completed by Bishop 

We will want to know something more about some of 
these than their mere names, especially those who have 
become prominent, and those who have rendered long 
years of service. There are some with whom we have 
already become familiar; they have already been men- 
tioned ; and some have been characterized. 

There is J. B. Maxfield, who has been in the forefront 
of the battle for the past twenty years, and is destined to 
be the recognized leader for the next twenty years ; then 
there is Jacob Adriance, whom we have seen laying the 
foundations of our Zion in two Territories ; there is Wil- 
liam Worley, whom we have met on the frontier plant- 
ing Methodism in York County, still hearty and strong 
for another twenty years ; there is S. P. Van Doozer, who 
led the hosts to victory on the North Nebraska District 
twenty years before, and is ready for any service to which 
the Church may call him ; there is Daniel S. Davis, whom 
we saw ten years before unfurl the banner of the cross 
and set up the standard in Saunders County ; there is 
Jabez Charles, who ten years before laid the foundations 
of our Zion in Madison and Boone Counties ; there is 
John P. Roe. who, though a supernumerary, by his faith- 
ful and efficient labors and generous giving, did more 
than any other one man to make the present South Tenth 

History 'of Nebraska Methodism. 349 

Street Church, Omaha, a possibility ; there is E. G. Fow- 
ler, with his still frail body, but still eager soul. 

Besides these, of whom we have already made more 
or less mention, there are others who deserve much more 
than it will be possible to give. But there are some of 
these who have given so many years, and have occupied 
places of trust and responsibility, filling them creditably, 
that they must receive something more than a passing- 
notice. Nor will the fact that some of them are still liv- 
ing and will read with some surprise what is said of them, 
deter us from more extensive mention of their work. If 
they be words of censure, may they profit by the same and 
be thankful for the "wounds of a friend." If they be 
words of commendation, there will be no impropriety in 
saying them before they die. 

J. B. Leedom is a name known and honored through- 
out the North Nebraska Conference, where for twenty- 
eight years he has lived a holy life of entire devotion to 
the Master, and usefulness to the Church, on circuit, 
station, and district. He was born in Middlesex, Arm- 
strong County, Pennsylvania, June i, 1840, and was 
reared on a farm in a godly home, presided over by a 
Baptist father and a Methodist mother. He was edu- 
cated in "the common schools, which continued three 
months in the year. The balance of the time young Lee- 
dom worked on the farm till twenty-one. Patriotism led 
him to enlist in the army, in Company G, Eighty-third 
Pennsylvania Regiment Volunteer Infantry, and as a 
part of the army of the Potomac, he helped fight the fol- 
lowing battles: Hanover Court-house, Gaines Mill, Mai- 
vern Hill, Second Bull Run, and Rappahannock Station. 
Then in Grant's campaign, from May ist to September, 

350 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

1864, in the Wilderness, Petersburg, Virginia, and South 
Side Road. When the term of enlistment expired, the 
fag end of the regiment returned to Harrisburg, Pennsyl- 
vania, where the enlistment roll was made out, and he 
was returned to civil life. 

Surely the above record is an expression of patriotism 
and heroism that any one might be proud of. 

At Pittsburg, in April, 1866, he was luiited in mar- 
riage with Miss Evaline Reynolds, who has been at his 
side in all his subsequent career as a Methodist itinerant, 
sharing with him the varying experience of joy and sor- 
row. Besides being a loyal, helpful wife and wise, de- 
voted mother, Sister Leedom has been a prominent leader 
along different lines of Church work, but especially in the 
Woman's Home Missionary Society. 

It was two years after their marriage on the 14th of 
February, 1868, that they gave themselves in covenant 
relation to God and the Methodist Church. 

Brother Leedom was licensed to preach November, 
1868, and was received on trial in the Erie Conference in 
September, 1870. A few years are given to the ministry 
in that Conference, when, as a result of some correspond- 
ence with S. P. Van Doozer, he was transferred to this 
Conference and began on the St. James Circuit a career 
of great usefulness, which continues to this day. 

They reached their charge in due time and moved 
their family of six into the small, but neat parsonage, 
twelve by twenty feet. But if the parsonage was small, 
he found a large circuit to give him plenty of hard work, 
something which Jacob B. Leedom always seemed to en- 
joy, and on which he seemed to thrive. In such laymen 
as the German Henry Ferber, and the English Henry 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 351 

Morton and his father ; Adam Snyder and his wife, and 
saintly W. H. Carter, who will himself soon be in the 
ranks, and that irrepressible local preacher, A. C. Butler, 
he found a large-hearted welcome and hearty co-opera- 
tion. Souls were saved during the first year, and his 
work so acceptable that he is returned. This was a year 
of great spiritual prosperity, with revivals and conver- 
sions, but also of great hardship, on account of the grass- 

Brother L,eedom's next pastorate was West Point Cir- 
cuit, where three years' patient, efficient toil results in 
strengthening the charge along all lines, and he is re- 
warded at the Conference of 1879 by his being appointed 
as the successor of J. B. Maxfield as presiding elder of 
the North Nebraska District. This appointment was a 
complete surprise to himself, but later proved a benedic- 
tion to manv others. He served the full term, and dur- 
ing his administration churches were built at a number of 
places, and the number of charges on his district had so 
increased that a large portion of the New Albion Dis- 
trict was taken from the western end, and still there was 
left for the writer, who succeeded him, seventeen charges 
on the Norfolk District, the district having been given 
that name. 

He has since, with a few intervals as supernumerary, 
on account of broken health, served diiTerent important 
pastorates, among them Eighteenth Street, Omaha, and 
Central City. He is now the successful pastor at Silver 

Alfred Hodgetts is another name well known in North 
Nebraska Conference, and indeed throughout Nebraska 
Methodism and in the Church at large, having filled some 

352 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

of the most important places. He was a native of Brook- 
lyn, New York, and received his first lessons in religious 
work in that city, in Talmage's school for lay workers. 
But he soon found his way to Nebraska with his family 
in 1878, his first charge being Blair, which he supplied 
under Dr. Maxfield, then presiding elder. 

He is received on trial at the next Conference and ap- 
pointed to Wisner Circuit, which extended up the Elk- 
horn, and included Stanton, where he organized the first 
class. This class did not continue, however. We next 
find him on the Decatur Circuit, which then included 
Lyons, where Brother Hodgetts resided, and where he 
built a comfortable parsonage. Here he remained two 
years, and was then appointed to Papillion Circuit. Vv^e 
have now reached a turning point in the ministerial ca- 
reer of this young man. 

In the Conference at Blair, in 1884. Bishop Mallalieu, 
recognizing the need of two new districts to take the 
place of the Albion District, which we have seen was 
served for a while by the lamented Van Doozer, one to 
lie along the Platte Valley and be called the Grand Island 
District, and one to lie along the valley of the Elkhorn 
and be called the Elkhorn Valley District, and include 
the contiguous counties on either side of the river and 
west of Norfolk as far as the eastern half of Holt County. 
For this new district he selected Alfred Hodgetts. 

If ever a presiding elder was sent to a district well 
nigh empty-handed, it was Alfred Hodgetts. Maxfield 
had been sent to the new Beatrice District in 1871, with 
but five men appointed by the bishop. S. P. Van Doozer 
took with him four when he went on the Covington Dis- 
trict in 1 871. A. G. White had five given him when he 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 353 

took the Kearney District in 1873, though only two mem- 
bers of the Conference and one probationer stay with 
him through the year. Cut this young man goes to his 
district of nineteen appointments, and finds that the 
bishop has appointed but two, one, D. C. Winship, who 
has just been received into full connection, and J. R. 
Gortner, who still remains on trial in the Conference. 
Happily, both these are excellent workers. But this 
leaves this inexperienced presiding elder seventeen 
charges for which he must find supplies. True, there 
are five most excellent men ready to his hand, and ap- 
pear in the iMinutes as if they had been appointed by the 
bishop. There is that stanch old Methodist preacher, 
Bartley Blain, who is a supernumerary member of the 
Minnesota Conference. He has already done some work 
in Holt County. He is now superintendent of public 
schools in that county, but will supply Star Circuit. 
There is Oscar Eggleston, who has just received license 
to preach, and is ready to enter on his long career as a 
useful, faithful itinerant, and he will serve Clear Water. 
Then there is that zealous local preacher, W. H. Burt, 
who has already done excellent work up in that country, 
on the Plainview and other circuits, and who will return 
to Plainview, w'here he has already done one year of ex- 
cellent service. Then there is the irrepressible R. Kinne, 
who has just carried forward to completion a church at 
Neligh. He will supply the Willowdale Circuit, but will 
remain but a few months. That faithful, reliable local 
preacher, Charles G. Rouse, will supply Emerick. Then 
he will find at Knoxville another local preacher, J. W. 
Bell, but will soon wish he had not found him and must 
get rid of him. John Wright will supply Neligh. 

354 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

But Alfred Hodgetts will still find ten charges for 
which there are no men visible to serve as supplies. Any 
presiding elder, however experienced, that takes a dis- 
trict with ten places to be supplied, will be taxed to the 
utmost to find ten men suitable for this work. True, the 
appointments are published in all the Advocates, and ad- 
vertise the fact that he needs ten men. This will be some- 
what to his advantage, but will also be a source of great 
peril to his reputation for wisdom, and to the interests of 
the Lord's work. Many will at once apply for the places, 
and among them will be many excellent men. But he 
will find that almost every ecclesiastical dead-beat in the 
country is watching for this very opportunity, and will 
write him. How shall he separate this chaff from the 
wheat? It will not do to depend entirely on the recom- 
mendations sent him. He will find later that there are 
some of his brother presiding elders in the East and else- 
yvhere, the strength of whose recommendations is in pro- 
portion to the worthlessness of the man, and is the meas- 
ure of said presiding elder's desire to get rid of him. He 
may, when writing it, have quieted his conscience by 
the vain imagination that "any one will do for the fron- 
tier." Under these circumstances the presiding elder 
will find himself the subject of opposite sentiments, over 
against his caution will be his desire to get these vacant 
places supplied as soon as possible. He will be urged 
to prompt and perhaps hasty and inconsiderate action by 
the clamor of the people for a pastor, and will doubtless 
in some cases be imposed on. 

If he is to get good men for these ten vacant charges, 
it will not be because of the salaries he can promise them. 
The highest salary reported the year before was $368, 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 355 

but only one got that much and one reports but $176. 
Nor will he get much help from the missionary funds, 
the average per pastor being sixty-two dollars. How- 
ever great the difficulties, Alfred Hodgetts will soon have 
nearly all these charges supplied with most excellent men. 
Some of these he will find among the local and superan- 
nuated preachers and others will come from outside. 

Though in the nature of the case Dr. Hodgetts must 
depend largely on supplies during his entire administra- 
tion, the district made progress under his leadership. At 
the close of the full term of six years he is appointed to 
South Tenth Street, Omaha, where he remains three 
years and has a successful pastorate. In 1893 Bishop 
Walden appointed him to the Norfolk District, where he 
served the full term. He is elected to the General Con- 
ference of 1896 and is there selected as the representa- 
tive of the Tenth District on the General Missionary Com- 
mittee, on which he serves during four years. There are 
few more responsible positions than this. Besides these 
positions of trust to which he was called, he was also a 
member of the Commission that adopted the "Unification 
Plan," and started Nebraska Wesleyan University out 
on its career of usefulness and power. He continued a 
member of the Board of Trustees continuously till his 
removal from the State, which occurred in 1900, at which 
time, at the close of a successful pastorate at Trinity 
Church, Grand Island, he was transferred to the New 
York East Conference, of which he is now a member. 
These various places of responsibility to which the Church 
called Dr. Hodgetts are a sufficient index of his stand- 
ing, and render unnecessary any further words of com- 

35^ History of Nebraska Methodism. 

It will be seen that much of the space given to Dr. 
Hodgetts is devoted to incidental allusions to his work 
on his district, and the men who wrought with him. Elk- 
horn Valley District presented the same phases and had 
much in common with the frontier districts of the earlier 
period. But it also presented some peculiar conditions 
that required some notice. The historian soon finds how 
difficult it is to treat men in the abstract separated from 
their siuTOundings of fellow-workers and events. In- 
deed, it is impossible. And these subordinate laborers 
that have received this brief notice are all worthy of much 
fuller treatment, and one of the unpleasant features of 
the remaining portion of this history will be the self- 
denial which the limited space of a single volume will 
impose on the historian in the treatment of the rapidly 
increasing number of workers ; many of those who come 
later will not be more than mentioned, if even so much 
as that is accorded to them. They must wait the prepara- 
tion of a far more elaborate history of Nebraska Meth- 
odism, which the writer sincerely hopes some more com- 
petent hand will write in the future. 

There is something so unique about this Elkhorn Val- 
ley District in the first years of its history, that it seems 
to demand that we tarry a moment before passing, and 
note its development and make brief mention of some of 
the men whom Hodgetts found and who wrought on this 
hard field the first two years of his administration. 

Father C. W. Sackett, a retired preacher of saintly 
character, will supply Chambers, though he will only re- 
ceive $7.95 for his work. D. T. Olcott, still known as 
one of our most consecrated and holy men among our 
superannuates, whom everybody respects and loves, will 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 357 

successfully serve Creighton Charge, and will leave a 
memorial for himself in Olcott Chapel, built at one of the 
country appointments, and also in the church erected in 

He will find in Holt County, living on a claim, 
George P. Bennett, who has for years held high rank in 
the Des I\Ioines Conference, serving one term as presiding 
elder. He is glad to do some preaching, and will supply 
Inman Circuit. He would gladly have relinquished his 
claim if he could have disposed of it, but jokingly re- 
marked that he was in the same fix as the traditional man 
who had hold of the bear's tail, and was anxiously wait- 
ing for some one to help him let go. Some years after- 
ward he did return to his old Conference. 

E. S. Bargelt, a superannuated member of the Upper 
Iowa Conference, deeply spiritual and still full of faith 
and old-time Methodist zeal, served Pierce. For Neligh, 
Hodgetts secured N. H. Gale for the first part of the 
year. He had come to us from the Presbyterian Church, 
and was a pure man and an excellent, scholarly preacher. 
But the infirmity of deafness increased to such an extent 
that he was compelled to retire from the pastorate and 
was employed as financial agent of the new Nebraska 
Central College. His place at Neligh was soon filled by 
J. W. Phelps, a transfer from the Rock River Confer- 
ence. J. W. Phelps was a mixture of strange contradic- 
tions. He was possessed of a personal magnetism which 
gave him remarkable power in the pulpit. Few men could 
swav an audience more powerfully than could he. Vast 
crowds attended his ministry, and in a few months Ne- 
ligh Charge was marvelously advanced. This same mag- 
netic power gave him a strange influence over many in 

358 History of Ne;braska Methodism. 

his personal intercourse. Such was his phenomenal suc- 
cess at Neligh, that when at the next Conference at 
Ponca, in 1885, a man was needed to succeed Dr. Max- 
field on the Omaha District, no one seemed so well fitted 
for the place as J. W. Phelps, and Bishop Andrews ap- 
pointed him. For two years he seemed to be carrying 
everything by storm. Never had such quarterly-meet- 
ings been known in that part of the State, and the district 
was soon ablaze with enthusiasm. But alas ! as is some- 
times the case with these strong men, a vein of weakness 
existed on the moral side of his nature. He was tempted 
to place his great personal influence, resulting from the 
prestige of his office, and also from his great personal 
magnetism, at the disposal of a mining stock corporation, 
and become agent for their fraudulent, worthless stock, 
inducing many preachers to invest. In two years his bril- 
liant career on the Omaha District closed in shame and 
disgrace, and he resigned and went to California. 

The two men appointed by Bishop Mallalieu to cir- 
cuits on Dr. Hodgetts's District are well worthy of fur- 
ther notice. 

Dugald C. Winship had chosen the honored and 
highly useful profession of a physician, and was succeed- 
ing" admirably, having become skillful in his chosen life 
work. He had located in Bennett, and built up a prac- 
tice worth at least $i,000, or more, a year, with excel- 
lent prospects of even larger success and larger income 
in the future. He afterward resided a year in Oakdale^ 
Nebraska, where he practiced his profession. But the 
call to preach had become so clear that it had reached the 
point where, with Paul, he was constrained to say "woe 
is me if I preach not the Gospel." But this could hardly 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 359 

be without a struggle. He already had a little family 
around him that looked to him for support. Could he 
afford to relinquish his income of $1,000 or more, as a 
physician, to accept less than $500 as a Methodist itiner- 
ant? Not a few of our most successful pastors have been 
confronted with just such a problem. John P. Yost, at 
North Bend, Nebraska, was serving as postmaster on a 
salary of $1,200 a year, and resigned and entered the min- 
istry, accepting a charge that paid $300. D. W. Crane, 
presiding elder of the Kearney District, was train dis- 
patcher on the Union Pacific Railroad, and was one of 
the best in their employ, receiving $1,700 with an almost 
certain prospect of speedy promotion with much larger 
pay. But when the conviction of duty became clear, he 
turned his back on these brilliant worldly prospects and 
cheerfully went to a charge that did not promise to pay 
more than $400. 

I speak of these cases, not because they are excep- 
tional, or more worthy of note than many others, but as 
illustrations of the fact that as a rule Alethodist preachers 
have not been attracted to the ministry from mercenary 
motives, but almost invariably have entered it from a 
sense of duty, attracted, not by large salaries, but by large 
opportunities of usefulness and impelled by the convic- 
tion that God had called them, and that it therefore be- 
came their imperative duty. 

This was certainly the case with D. C. Winship. He 
was admitted on trial in 1882, and was sent to Wayne, 
which included Wakefield, rival towns just springing up 
on the new railroad running from Sioux City to Norfolk. 
The year before, 1881, W. H. Carter had organized a 
small class at Wayne, and Josiah Fowler had formed an- 

360 History os' Ne;braska Methodism. 

other at Wakefield. These were the first classes formed 
at these places. Winship took his family of five to 
Wayne, but finding no place to live, and little encourage- 
ment, he accepted the ofifer of Wakefield to reside there, 
they agreeing to build a parsonage. This they proceeded 
to do as far as possible, but only one room could be made 
fit to live in, and from January until spring that small 
room must serve their family of five for kitchen, bed- 
room, dining-hall, parlor, reception-room, and study. Be- 
sides the parsonage, a good church building was erected 
during Brother Winship's pastorate, and Methodism well 
established at Wakefield. To support himself and wife 
and three children he received less than $500. 

Brother Winship's next charge was Wisner, a circuit 
of four appointments, and his pastorate here was attended 
with some revival interest. 

When, at the next Conference, D. C. Winship's name 
was read out for Niobrara, Brother Leedom came to the 
writer, who had become Brother Winship's presiding 
elder, and demanded, with no little indignation, why I 
had sent Winship there, saying it was an outrage. But 
there had come a great change in Niobrara, by the com- 
ing of a wealthy and devoted family, Brother C. D. Chip- 
man and wife, and I felt sure the time had come to send 
them a strong man, and felt sure they would take care 
of him as they had promised. The event proved that I 
was not mistaken. Though he only found twelve mem- 
bers, he was blessed with a great revival, breaking up 
vicious amusements, and resulting a large number of ac- 
cessions, among them M. W. Barnum and wife, the latter 
the daughter of Brother and Sister Chipman. As an ex- 
pression of gratitude for this last result, Sister Chipman 

History of Nebraska ^^iIethodism. 361 

came to Brother W'inship saying she had promised the 
Lord if He would save her son-in-law, and bring his fam- 
ily into the Church, she would build a parsonage. The 
parsonage ^vas built and good Sister Chipman drew her 
check for $650 to pay the bill. As for support, Brother 
Winship was promised $500, and received $556, fifty-six 
dollars more than was promised, and more than he had 
yet received. Though Brother and Sister Chipman were 
soon removed by death, M. W. Barnum and his devoted 
wife remained for many years the mainstay of the Church, 
which even after Dr. Winship's pastorate remained a 
fairly comfortable charge, served by some of our best 

Brother Winship next went to O'Neil, where he suc- 
ceeded in saving the Church, which was having a life-and- 
death struggle against the predominating Catholic in- 
lluence there, which has always made it difficult to main- 
tain our position. After this hard year, during which the 
wing of the church building was fitted up for a parson- 
age, he and his family had a pleasant pastorate of two 
years at Oakdale, where he had received license to preach 
a few years before. Then to Stanton, where, during a 
pastorate of three years, he had gracious revivals and 
cleared the property of debt. Then a year at Old Dakota 
City, and then to First Church, South Omaha, where 
more than one hundred souls were converted, and a float- 
ing debt of $1,200 paid off. 

But Brother Winship's outspoken opposition to the 
vices of the city brought on him the wrath of the saloon 
power. He did not realize his personal danger until he 
was waited on in the parsonage by a big ruffian, who 
talked so abusively that Dr. Winship made a move to put 

362 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

him out, when lie was confronted wdth a big knife. It is 
a great wonder that he came out of the affray ahve. The 
would-be assassin was immediately arrested, and ad- 
mitted that the saloon men had sent him to "do up the 
preacher." But he was made to pay so dearly for his 
amusement that it is not likely that he has ever been in- 
duced to attempt to "do up" a preacher again. 

Brother Winship was secretary of the Conference for 
many years, was elected delegate to the Ecumenical Con- 
ference at Washington, and was once elected reserve dele- 
gate to the General Conference. 

He went to Colorado, where he spent several years in 
and around Denver, in the meanwhile educating his chil- 
dren at Denver University, returning to Nebraska in 
1890, since when he has served Trinity Charge, Grand 
Island, and is now pastor at Central City. 

During Dr. Hodgetts's administration he inaugurated 
the district camp-meeting at Oakdale, which continued to 
be for fifteen years the scene of many great gatherings, 
and resulted in many great spiritual victories ; as high as 
one hundred souls were converted at some of them. Be- 
sides the interest of successive presiding elders and the 
pastors of the district, this success was due in no small 
measure to some choice laymen, among them A. J. Leach 
and others, of Oakdale, and J. H. Barns and Monroe 
Whitmore, of Cedar Creek. 

We must pause a moment to note the pathetic close of 
the career of S. P. Van Doozer. It was fitting that he 
who played so large a part in making the North Nebraska 
Conference, as pastor, but especially as presiding elder of 
the Covington, or rather. North Nebraska District, 
should be among those who should help to organize the 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 363 

North Nebraska Conference. After a year on the Papil- 
Hon Circuit, where he built a church. largely by his own 
labor, he is again summoned by the authorities of the 
Church to district work on the frontier, and is assigned 
by Bishop Wiley to the new Albion District, lying west 
of the Norfolk District. The writer was at the same time 
assigned to the NorfolJ^ District, and we both found it 
convenient to reside at Norfolk. 

Brother Van Doozer seemed yet the very picture of 
robust health, and as between us, gave much fairer prom- 
ise of long life than I did. But he threw himself into 
the work, as was his wont, with his whole soul, not spar- 
ing himself. This is something S. P. \*an Doozer never 
seemed to think of doing. But he was greatly enjoying 
his work, and was in the midst of plans evolved during 
the first quarter, when with startling suddenness the news 
came that he was stricken down with disease while on his 
way to his quarterly-meeting, and in a few days the sad 
intelligence came that at Fullerton, at the home of Brad 
Slaughter, to which his devoted Vvdfe had been hastily 
summoned, S. P. Van Doozer "ceased at once to work 
and to live." 

I have had occasion to refer to the work of this rug- 
ged, stirring, consecrated man of God, because no history 
of Nebraska Methodism would be complete without not- 
ing the great contribution he made in various ways to 
the making of that history. 

His brethren of the Conference put on record the fol- 
lowing memoir, prepared by his comrade in the Lord's 
work, J. B. Maxfield: 

"Rev. S. P. Van Doozer, presiding elder of Albion 
District, North Nebraska Conference, and reserve dele- 

364 History of Nebraska Mi5Thodism. 

gate-elect to the last General Conference, died at Fuller- 
ton, Nebraska, January 16, 1884. Concerning the exact 
date of his birth we have no certain information. He 
was a native of New York, and about fifty-eight years of 
age. He graduated at the Michigan State University, 
and attended the Garrett Biblical Institute. Soon after 
he removed to Missouri and was engaged in our educa- 
tional work for a time. Brother Van Doozer married in 
1871, Miss Sarah E. Malloy, who, with two interesting 
sons, survives him. As a preacher. Brother Van Doozer 
was sound in his theology, Scriptural in presenting sal- 
vation on the terms of the Gospel, 'Repentance toward 
God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,' That school of 
the prophets, Garrett Biblical Institute, had taught him 
that our theology is a complete system, compact, har- 
monious, strong, and all-sufficient. He was clear and 
forcible in setting forth the momentous themes relating to 
man's moral estate and eternal happiness. His flock was 
fed upon solid truth rather than vapid sentimentalisin. 
He built many churches, often with his own hands, when 
help was lacking, which frequently was the case. He 
was a wise builder of living stones into Christ's spiritual 
temple. To many throughout these borders his memory 
'is as ointment poured forth.' He was the intimate 
friend and co-worker with the gifted and sainted White, 
of our Nebraska Conference, to whose sudden death his 
own decease presented such a striking and painful 
parallel. He was a Christian hero. He was a wise coun- 
selor. He was a devoted husband and a kind, affection- 
ate father. The world has been made richer because he 
lived, the Church poorer because he died." 

J. M. Adair spent many years in the work in Ne- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 365 

braska, and was one of our most faithful men. Besides 
serving some important charges, among them Platts- 
mouth, it was he who laid the foundations of our Church 
at South Tenth Street, Omaha, as early as 1872. He 
bought a small church of the United Presbyterians, and 
"displayed commendable zeal, both in the city and coun- 
try, but received for his services scarcely enough to pay 
house rent." says his presiding elder. 

Josiah Fowler transferred to this Conference from 
Michigan in 1876, when he was advanced in life and 
somewhat broken in health, and while a most excellent 
preacher, and faithful pastor, was never appreciated at 
his full value by the people. He served some of our best 
charges, among them Dakotah City and Fremont, and 
was highly respected by all who knew him. But his re- 
tiring disposition was not well fitted to the rush and push 
of the Western life. He was permitted to give a third 
of a century to the gospel ministr}-, eight of which were 
spent in Nebraska. He died at his home in Dixon 
County, in 1889. Three of his sons have entered the 
ministry, and are now members of the North Nebraska 

Other names connected with this first Conference are 
worthy of mention. Among the most saintly of men is 
A\'. H. Carter. We have already met him on the St. 
James work, where he was converted at a camp-meeting 
at Lime Creek, tmder S. P. Van Doozer's administration, 
and at once becomes an active supporter of the pastor. 
In 1878 he is received on trial, and gives many years to 
the work in Nebraska. He is the first to organize the 
work in many portions of Antelope and Knox Counties 
in 1879. He is said to have been "a typical pioneer 


366 History of" Nebraska Methodism. 

preacher, spending most of his time in the homes of the 
people, and travehng from place to place carrying the 
message of divine truth." It was he who first organized 
Methodism in Wayne, and many other places. He is 
still a highly respected superannuated member of the 
Conference, but some years ago, his health failing, he 
removed to the coast, and is now residing in Wash- 

Then there is steady-going, faithful J. R. Gearhart, 
who has given many years to the ministry in Nebraska. 
He was received on trial in 1880, and appointed to Madi- 
son, and afterward served in succession St. James, Wake- 
field, Humphrey, Coleridge, and other charges. He is 
now an honored superannuated member of the North Ne- 
braska Conference and resides with his family at Uni- 
versity Place. 

J. Q. A. Fleharty entered the work in Nebraska In 
1874, being received on trial and appointed to Iron Bluffs 
that year. The next year he has all Polk County, and with 
his Bible, hymn-book, and a few clothes stowed away in a 
pair of saddle-bags, he spends most of the time in the 
saddle. He builds the first church at Wesley Chapel ap- 
pointment, and has a revival at Osceola, at which over 
one hundred are converted. Among those converted 
were the county judge, sherifif, and constable ; and J. PI. 
Mickey, now the honored governor of Nebraska, was 
among the most active workers during the nieeting. 
North Bend, Columbus. Harvard, Madison, where he 
builds a parsonage, and Oakdale, are among the charges 
he has served, on many of which God blessed his labors 
with gracious revivals, and he has received over 500 pro- 
bationers while in the ministry. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 367 

While at Aladison, 1881, he was married to the now 
sainted Ella A. Woodman, "whose desire was to die in 
the work." After twenty years as a faithful wife and in- 
telligent worker in the Church, she goes to her reward on 
the i8th of October, 1901. 

Brother Fleharty is now a superannuated member of 
the Xorth Nebraska Conference, and resides in Omaha. 

Charles F. Heywood saw not a little of life before en- 
tering the Alethodist ministry, having practiced law, 
served a term in the Nebraska Legislature, and was for 
some time a minister in the United Brethren Church. He 
comes into our work with a good equipment of natural 
ability and a large experience with men and affairs. 

He is received on trial in 1880, and goes to Niobrara, 
and the next year is appointed to Norfolk. Here he pur- 
chases two lots for a church, and that he wisely selected 
the location is the verdict of all subsequent pastors and 
presiding elders. With a little handful of members he 
proceeded to erect a church, and by doing much of the 
work himself, he succeeded in inclosing it so it could be 
used. C. F. Heywood may be said to be the first to give 
Norfolk Methodism a permanent place in the community. 
His next pastorate is Madison, where he remains two 
years, doing excellent work. Then at the Conference in 
Ponca, in 1885, just after that great calamity in which 
the new church they had erected had blown down, C. F. 
Heywood was selected to meet the emergency. His abil- 
ity as a preacher soon commanded a large congregation, 
and his careful management of the difficult problems 
brought the Church through the crisis in good shape. He 
has given twenty years of efficient service in the effective 
ranks, but was compelled to take a superannuated rela- 

368 History oi^ Nebraska Mkthodism. 

tion in 1901, and now resides at Central City, greatly 
respected by all who know him. 

Another name that has become well known in Ne- 
braska is that of J. W. Shenk, D. D. Born at Cobles- 
ville, New York, January 20, 1842, and converted at the 
age of fourteen, he began preaching at the age of six- 
teen. After graduating at Garrett Biblical School, he 
joined the Central Blinois Conference and was sent as a 
missionary to Buenos Ayers, South America. But fail- 
ing health soon compelled him to relinquish that work 
and he returned in 1867. He was transferred to the Ne- 
braska Conference in 1878. He served in succession the 
important stations of Seward, Fremont, Eighteenth 
Street, Omaha, and was six years on the Grand Island 
District. While he had a good measure of success in all 
of these responsible positions, his chief distinction grows 
out of his relation as editor of the Omaha Christian Ad- 
vocate throughout its eventful history. As that enter- 
prise will be treated in another portion of this history, it 
only needs at this time to mention the fact that Dr. 
Shenk was once elected delegate to the General Confer- 
ence and twice elected reserve delegate. He was also a 
member of the Commission that located Nebraska Wes- 
leyan University at Lincoln. 

J. W. Stewart's name appears among the first mem- 
bers of the North Nebraska Conference, but inasmuch 
as he only served two pastorates, First Church and Tenth 
Street Church, Omaha, in this Conference, nearly all his 
ministerial work in Nebraska being in connection with 
the Nebraska Conference, it might be more proper to 
mention his work in the portion of this history relating 
to that Conference. But after all, every Methodist 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 369 

preacher, in some large and important sense, belongs to 
the whole Church, and is equally at home everywhere. 

Then there is quaint old Father Janney. He had been 
preaching for half a century before the North Nebraska 
Conference had its birth, and began his ministry before 
most of its members were born. He preached his first 
sermon in that historic Foundry Church, in Washington, 
D. C, and was ordained deacon by Bishop Soule, in 1832. 
He was of Quaker parentage, but was converted at a 
Methodist camp-meeting near Washington, D. C, and 
joined the Methodist Church, but retained through Ufe 
some of the Quaker traits. 

He was nearly sixty years of age when he began his 
work in Nebraska, but he shrunk not from some of the 
hardest service. After serving De Soto and Fontenelle, 
he was sent to the Wood River Circuit, 150 miles west, 
the point farthest west of any circuit in the State. He 
is already on the superannuated list, but we are glad to 
reckon him among the charter members of the North Ne- 
braska Conference. 

After a life of over seventy-five years and a ministry 
of over fifty years, he passes on to his well-earned re- 
ward, departing this life April 11, 1887. 

J. L. St. Clair is well worthy of mention among those 
who helped to organize the North Nebraska Conference 
and has done much to develop it into its present strength. 
He came to us from the United Brethren, among whom 
he had been a leader for years, and was one of their best 
preachers, as he was afterward one of our best preachers. 
He would command large audiences wherever he went, 
and always left his mark on the charges he served, in 
the way of accessions, or some substantial advance in 

37° History of Nebraska Methodism. 

the way of a church building-, or parsonage, or both, for 
Brother St. Clair had a penchant for economizing means 
and space by partitioning off the rear end of the church 
for a parsonage. This was the case at West Point and 
Albion, at each of which places he built a church. At 
Columbus he gave our Church its first permanent foothold 
by the erection of a fine church. His career has been one 
of uniform success. He tarries with us, but is doubly 
afflicted with defective eyesight and hearing. 

Of the probationers in Conference at its organization, 
besides those already mentioned, are two well worthy of 
mention. E. L. Fox was one of these resourceful young 
men that will make their way anywhere, and that people 
can not help but like. His few years in Nebraska were 
very successful, and he is just the man for the difficult 
mission he is carrying on in New York City, 

Another probationer whose subsequent career justifies 
further notice is J. B. Priest. Brother Priest is a native 
of Iowa, but came to Nebraska in the later seventies, and 
settled in the neighborhood of St. James, where he taught 
school for some years, and where he was married to Miss 
Carr, who has proved a helpmeet indeed. 

Brother Priest is another one sent down to Confer- 
ence from the old St. James Charge, and was admitted on 
trial at the first Conference in 1882. J. B. Priest has been 
a popular pastor from the first, being a good preacher, 
an industrious, sympathetic pastor and skillful, resource- 
ful manager of the affairs of a local Church. His first 
circuit is Ponca, where all these qualities will be in ur- 
gent demand throughout his entire pastorate, which con- 
tinued the full legal term. This first pastorate is typical 
of all his subsequent ones, in that it brought into action 

History of Nebraska ^Methodism. 371 

those qualities that have made him a pronounced success 
wherever he has been sent in the last twenty-three years. 
He found Ponca in a very low state, spiritually and every 
way, but a great revival, in which he was assisted by a 
Brother \^'endell, an evangelist from Iowa, gave the so- 
ciety a fresh start along spiritual lines. The revival, 
however, has so increased the number in Church and con- 
gregation, that a new church building becomes a neces- 
sity, and under the wise and stimulating leadership of this 
young probationer, speedily becomes a possibility, and a 
little later, through the self-sacrificing efforts of pastor 
and people becomes a reality, in the erection of one of the 
best churches in North Nebraska Conference. The future 
seemed bright with hope for the Ponca Church and plans 
for aggressive work along all lines in the new church 
were being laid, when suddenly, early in June, a terrific 
wind storm tore their new temple to pieces, blighted their 
hopes, and defeated their plans, or seemed to. To make 
matters worse, the Conference had accepted their invita- 
tion to hold its next session at Ponca in the new church. 
A few days after, when the writer, who was then presid- 
ing elder of the district, suggested to Brother Priest that 
we might have to change the place of holding the Con- 
ference, the indomitable pastor said, "No; we need the 
Conference more than ever.'* That was one of many 
cases where the pastor was wiser than the presiding elder, 
for the Conference met in Ponca and the ]\Iethodist 
preachers came to the rescue of the stricken Church by 
pledging $500 to aid in rebuilding. With this help the 
brave society rebuilt under the wise leadership of C. F. 

It will suffice to say that in all the important charges 

372 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

he has served, such as Norfolk, Lyons, South Tenth 
Street, Omaha ; Central City, Albion, Randolph, and Blair, 
this faithful preacher and tireless worker has been suc- 
cessful. He has for years been secretary of the Confer- 
ence, and is yet in the prime of life. 

John P. Roe is one of the ablest preachers we have 
ever had in Nebraska. He came to us originally from the 
Episcopal Church. He was born in England and reared 
in the Church of England, and coming to America, he 
naturally became a member of the Episcopal Church and 
remained such till converted in a Methodist revival, when 
he seemed instinctively to find his way into the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, of which he has ever since been a 
stanch defender. He was licensed to preach, and served 
as chaplain during the war. He returned from the war 
and served several pastorates in the Wisconsin Confer- 
ence. But probably the greatest service he rendered the 
Church in Wisconsin was as financial agent of Lawrence 
University, our Methodist school at Appleton. He suc- 
ceeded in relieving it of a burdensome debt, and greatly 
strengthened it financially. 

He took a supernumerary relation in the Wisconsin 
Conference, and came to Nebraska in 1875, ' residing in 
Omaha. Here he soon after lost his wife, a most ac- 
complished lady, characterized by a deep and intelligent 
piety. Brother Roe served South Tenth Street two 
years, as noted elsewhere, and also Seward and Crete, 
and at each of these places his ministry was attended by 
large congregations, and his strong, faithful sermons 
made a deep impression on the community. 

But perhaps his greatest service in Nebraska was 
when, as elsewhere related, during his pastorate at the 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 373 

little mission church on South Tenth Street, Omaha. It 
is not too much to say that during the first year he saved 
the struggling society from bankruptcy by giving his 
entire salary to pay their debt, and the next year made 
it possible for them to build their present church by do- 
nating his salary to the building fund. 

John P. Roe is a man with somewhat peculiar traits 
not often understood by the casual acquaintance and only 
a few know him sufficiently well to appreciate his true 
nobility of character. He is still residing in Omaha. In 
1881 he was married to Miss Cattell, an English lady 
with whom he became acquainted during his pastorate at 
Seward. Sister Roe is a true Christian lady, of great 
force of character, and is devoting her energies to the 
task of ministering to her husband, who is rapidly failing 
in strength. Brother Roe is among the honored superan- 
nuated members of the North Nebraska Conference. 

There is one more name that well deserves mention. 
J. R. Gortner came to Nebraska in 1882 and settled on 
a homestead in Holt County. He was at once employed 
as a supply by Dr. T. B. Lemon, though he had come to 
Nebraska to rest and recuperate, his health having be- 
come impaired in Illinois. In 1883 he was admitted on 
trial in the Nebraska Conference, but w^as transferred in 
1884 to the North Nebraska Conference, and was one of 
the two men appointed by Bishop Mallalieu to places on 
the new Elkhorn Valley District, being sent to Inman. 

While serving faithfully and efficiently on the frontier 
for several years, J. R. Gortner's chief distinction lies 
in the fact that he felt himself distinctly called of God to 
the mission work in Africa, under that Pauline leader, 
Bishop ^^^illiam Taylor, So, with his devoted wife and 

374 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

two boys, John Narver and Ross, he was sent to the 
chosen field in the fall of 1887, There are few more pa- 
thetic stories in the annals of missions than this brief ac- 
count furnished by his son. Rev. J. Narver Gortner, who 
for years has been a successful minister of the Gospel in 
the North Nebraska Conference. He says : 

"My father was stationed by Bishop Taylor at Garra- 
way. Later he was made presiding elder of the Cape 
Palmas District. He died the following- March. I was 
alone with him when he died, my mother being uncon- 
scious at the time. The next day I assisted certain col- 
ored men in tearing down a partition in the mission house 
and making two coffins, one to bury the remains of my 
father in, and the other to bury the remains of Mrs. 
Meeker, a missionary lady who had died the day before. 
A few months later my mother and I, accompanied by 
my younger brother, Ross, returned to America." 

Though like Melville B. Cox, the first missionary to 
Africa, J. R. Gortner in a few months fell a victim to 
the dread African fever, this makes him none the less 
worthy of all honor for the spirit of self-sacrifice that 
made him willing to give his life, if not his service, to 
redeem Africa. And the spiritual redemption of Africa 
should ever be an object of special interest to Nebraska 
Methodism, seeing one of our number lies buried there. 

There are a few other names, but they are those who 
remained only a few years among us and went to other 


FOURTH PERIOD. (1880-1904.) 

The five years from the formation of the West Ne- 
braska Mission, in 1880, have witnessed such marvelous 
growth as to justify the organization of the \\'est Ne- 
braska Conference, in 1885, the General Conference hav- 
ing passed an enabling act to that effect. Dr. Lemon, 
in his last report as superintendent of missions, gives 
this glowing account of the general situation in that part 
of the State : 

"Towns have sprung up, centers of trade formed, and 
the once desert plains are becoming the most fruitful and 
promising parts of our State. We have within our mis- 
sion lines about thirty counties organized, and much val- 
uable unorganized territory, while Cheyenne, Sioux, 
Keith, Cherry, and Custer Counties are large enough to 
make at least ten other counties." That the Church has 
kept pace with the increase in population is seen in the 
fact that the districts have increased from one to three, 
the appointments fromi twenty-two to sixty-one, and 
preachers, including probationers, from twenty-three to 
forty-seven. The membership, including probationers, 
has increased even more, advancing from 1,329 in 1880, 
to 3,895 in 1885, or nearly threefold. These figures arc 
based on the face of the statistics as they appear in the 
Minutes. But the net gain will be seen to be even greater, 
if we note the fact that thirteen of the best charges that 


376 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

were a part of the Mission Conference, have become a 
part of the North Nebraska Conference. This is only 
partially offset by a few that came from the Hastings 
District to the mission in the readjustment of lines by the 
General Conference of 1884. Had the boundary lines re- 
mained the same as in 1880, the additional increase would 
have been four hundred, or more. 

They have also been building churches. Dr. Lemon 
speaks, in his reports, of having dedicated seven churches 
in a single year. In 1880 there were seven, and though 
by the change in boundary lines they have lost five, they 
still were able to report sixteen, making a net gain of 

Thus this army of conquest has been pursuing its 
triumphant march to the western line of the State, with 
Presiding Elder Johnson in command of the southern 
wing along the Republican, and the old commander, T. B. 
Lemon, leading the center column along the Platte, and 
the northern portion under the leadership of George W. 
Martin, has extended along the Elkhorn and to the 
northwest as far as Chadron. They have about com- 
pleted the conquest of all this vast territory, comprising 
over 40,000 square miles, or about two-thirds of the 

Plaving attained in every way to the proportions of 
an Annual Conference, there is little wonder that many 
should feel that the time had come to avail themselves 
of the enabling act of the last General Conference, and 
erect themselves into Annual Conference. On this they 
voted, and without a single negative. West Nebraska 
Conference became a fact, the bishop concurring in the 
action, and starts out on its career of power and useful- 



1. Joseph Buckley. 2. J. A. Badcom. 3. T. W. Owen. 4. Bartley 
Blaix. 5. Jepthah Marsh. 6. W. H. Wheeler. 7. Charles 
Reilly. 8. Wesley Wilson. 



History oi^ Nebraska Methodism. 

ness. The reader will want to know the names of those 
who constituted this body of brave men : 

Amsbary, W. A. 
Bos well, G. M. 
Buckley, J. 
Campbell, C. E. 
Carr, J. S. 
Collins, A. 
Cooper, C. S. 
Eddleblute, L. H. 
Ellsworth, D. M. 
Glassner, W. O. 

Greenlaw, A. L. 
Hale, C. A. 
Johnson, P. C. 
Lemon, T. B. 
Mann, J. M. 
Martin, G. W. 
Mastin, C. A. 
Owen, T. W. 
Pierce, M. R. 
Pitchford, W. J. 

Randolf, R. 
Scamahorn, J. A. 
Smith, E. 
Smith, M. W. 
Stevens, L. 
Taylor, W. M. 
Thurber, T. H. 
Vessels, W. G. 
Webster, T. C. 
Wilson, W. C. 

Badcon, J. A. 
Calder, F. H. 
Castle, M. A. 
Chapin, A. B. 
Cox, C. 
Crandall, C. C. 


Durham, J. P, 
Ferguson, G. O. 
Fulmer, C. E. 
Friggens, R. H. 
Gray, J. 
Helm, J. Q. 

Howell, E. W. 
Kleeberger, J. A. 
Mount, E. 
Robinson, R. L. 
Thomas, F. F. 
Wheeler, W. S. 

It will be seen that the number on trial continues to 
be relatively large. This has been the case since the sec- 
ond year of Dr. Lemon's administration on the Kearney 
District. In the meanwhile the transfers are also growing 
in number. Dr. Lemon seemed to have a genius for find- 
ing good men and attracting them to this hard field and 
keeping them here. 

But we should know something more about some of 
these than their names. While many of those who were 
present when the Mission was formed were mentioned in 

History oi^ Nebraska Methodism. 


that oonnection, there are some new names well worthy 
of further mention. 

As early as May, 1871, Asbury Collins took a claim 
and he and his family made their home in Kearney. He 
and his family are of those to whom religion is a neces- 
sity, and Church fellowship essential to the religious life 
of the individual, and the best moral order of the commu- 
nity. So they were hardly settled in their new home be- 
fore he wrote to the presiding elder, 
A. G. White, that "there are some 
stray sheep out here that need look- 
ing after." But A. G. White, whose 
district extended from Omaha toward 
the west as far as there were any 
settlements along the Union Pacific, 
was unable to come till the next Oc- 
tober. Sister Collins, in speaking of 
this visit says, "Our hearts leaped 
for joy at the first sight of our pre- 
siding elder, who was truly a man of God, enduring 
great hardship for Christ's sake." 

The result of that visit of the elder was the organiz- 
ing of a Methodist Church, the first of any denomination 
in Kearney, and is thus related by Sister Collins : "The 
evening after the elder arrived our little band assembled 
to listen to an able sermon by him. Then assisted by my 
husband, the first society was organized. Charter mem.- 
bers : Rev. Asbury Collins, Louisa E. Collins, H. E. A. 
Sydenham, Alfred Gay, Hannah Jay. Mr. Collins was 
then appointed pastor of the little flock at Kearney, with 
instructions to look after newly-forming settlements." 

Thus, in the home of Asbury Collins, Kearney Meth- 

Rev. Asbury Col- 

380 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

odism took organized form and has steadily grown in 
power and influence under successive pastors who have 
served her, until now there ate two flourishing societies, 
First Church, with 330 members, and C. A. Alastin, pas- 
tor, and Trinity with 109, of which J. G. Hurlburt is pas- 
tor. The little class of five has multiplied till the total 
number of Methodists in Kearney is 439. 

This same Asbury Collins, a few months after the 
class was formed, organized the first Sunday-school, and 
in 1900 helped lay the foundation of Trinity Church. 

Brother Collins had spent many years in the itiner- 
ancy in Iowa before coming to Nebraska, and having 
been trained in that school of aggressive Methodism, was 
no novice in the work. He united with the Iowa Con- 
ference as early as 1846, and continued in the work till 
compelled to desist on account of hemorrhage of the 
lungs. He asked for a location and came to Nebraska, 
hoping to find relief. At first he only consented to ac- 
cept a pastoral charge temporarily, fearing his health 
w^ould not hold out. But he did much work in and around 
Kearney, organizing classes and circuits, and turning 
them over to others as soon as some one could be found. 

He was permitted to give nearly twenty years to the 
work in West Nebraska, filling some important place^, 
taking about 1,000 people into the Church, and building- 
eight churches. He dedicated the first church in Custer 
County, which was of the then prevailing type of the first 
churches, being constructed of sod. However, the doors, 
windows, and necessary lumber were drawn by wagon 
from Grand Island and Kearney, a distance of fifty miles 
or more. 

An incident which well illustrates the character of 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 381 

Brother and Sister Collins, and the difficulties of church- 
building, occurred while the Church at North Loup was 
being- built during Brother Collins's pastorate at that 
place. At one time during its erection a point was reached 
where forty dollars were needed, and without which the 
work could not go on. But all had given to the utmost of 
their ability, and so far as any human resource was con- 
cerned, it seemed to be unattainable. Brother Collins 
said to his wife, "Let us take this matter to the Lord," 
and on their knees they pleaded with God for the forty 
dollars needed. Brother Collins went out in town as 
usual, and soon found a man who gave him the forty dol- 
lars, and he came home with a radiant face to report to 
his wife the wonderful answer to prayer. 

Brother Collins was received into the Nebraska Con- 
ference on his certificate of location from the Iowa Con- 
ference, and was one of the charter members of the West 
Nebraska Conference. He served a number of pastor- 
ates, among them Chadron, 300 miles from Kearney, his 
home. The journey to this far-away circuit must be 
made by private conveyance across a vast stretch of bleak 
prairie. Yet at the advanced age of sixty-one, or more, 
these two made this long journey. The Lord seemed to 
have prepared the way for them, for at one place which 
they reached late in the evening, very weary with a long 
day's ride, they found the housewife already at work mak- 
ing down a bed on the dirt floor of her single-room dug- 
out, having been moved to thus prepare for her guests 
in advance by a strong impression that some weary trav- 
eler would certainly come that night seeking shelter. 

Brother Collins was for all these years a friend, com- 
panion, and counselor of such men as A. G. White and 

382 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

T. B. Lemon. He closed his career March 9, 1890. His 
brethren placed upon their record the following appre- 
ciation of his life and character : 

"Rev. Asbury Collins was born in Ohio on October 
25, 1823, and died in Kearney, Nebraska, on March 9, 
1890. Brother Collins was converted on February 19, 
1841, and at once united with the Methodist Episcopal 
Church. He was soon after licensed to preach, and in 
1846 he was admitted on trial into the Iowa Conference. 
Iowa was then the extreme frontier; and as a pioneer 
preacher, through almost incredible toil and privation, ho 
helped to lay the foundations of Methodism in that State. 
After many years of itinerating, his health failed, and for 
a long time he was laid aside because of hemorrhage of 
the lungs. In 1872 he located on a claim and became the 
first settler on the site of the city of Kearney. In his 
home the first religious service was held, also the first 
sermon preached, the first Sunday-school, Church Society, 
and class-meeting organized. Brotiier Collins was the 
first class-leader and pastor in Kearney. In 1852 he mar- 
ried Louisa Fletcher, at Iowa City, Iowa, who survives 
him. They were called upon to pass through bitter trials. 
In 1875 their oldest son, Milton, was shot by drunken 
cowboys, and fell dead in his wife's arms at his own 
door; and in 1882 the only remaining son, Finley, was 
killed by the accidental discharge of a gun in the hands 
of a friend. 

"In 1881, at the request of Dr. Lemon, Brother Col- 
lins began to do outlying mission work, and in 1885 was 
readmitted to the West Nebraska Conference on his cer- 
tificate of location, and died in the active work. Brother 
Collins was of mixed English and German extraction. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 383 

and possessed in a large degree the impulsiveness of the 
latter race. This characteristic was at once his strength 
and his weakness. It led him to throw his whole soul 
into whatever he undertook. In his business and social 
relations it carried him to the front. In his Christian and 
ministrial life it made him peculiarly useful and 
successful. It made him a soul-winner and church-builder. 
Over a thousand accessions to the Church were the result 
of his nine years' labors in the West Nebraska Confer- 
ence, and seven churches built under his leadership stand 
as monuments to his energy. In his disposition Brother 
Collins was kind and sympathetic, and in social inter- 
course very pleasant. He was a warm friend, true as 
steel, and loyal as a man could be. His religious expe- 
rience was keen and bright, his trust was full and com- 
plete, and his life well rounded out." 

Mrs. Louisa Collins, the devoted wife of Asbury Col- 
lins, still tarries among us, and the preachers of the West 
Nebraska Conference affectionatel}' call her "Mother." 
And well they may. For nearly forty years she was at 
the side of her husband, in all his years of toil, not only as 
a companion, but as one of "those women that helped in 
the gospel." Besides the ordinary duties of a pastor's 
wife, she would, on occasion, fill tlie pulpit in his ab- 
sence, and such occasions were not unfrequent in those 
days. Since her husband's death she has devoted herself 
to the interests of the Woman's Home Missionary So- 
ciety. For some years she was corresponding secretary' 
for that Conference, but extended her labors to portions; 
of the older Conferences, organizing many auxiliary so- 

In 1888 she was elected president of the West Ne- 

384 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

braska Woman's Home Missionary Society. Though 
feeble now her heart is still warm and she loves the clear 
old Methodist Church, but is waiting for the time of her 
transfer to the Church triumphant. 

W. A. Amsbary reappears in the work in Nebraska 
after an absence of nearly twenty years. His is a familiar 
name in the early days of Nebraska Methodism, when he 
was a power for good. His subsequent career is detailed 
in the following just tribute which his brethren of the 
West Nebraska Conference put on record after his useful 
career had closed by his sad death : "Rev. W. A. Ams- 
bary was born of Methodist parents in Oshua, Canada 
West, December 14, 1834; came to Ohio at the age of 
six years, and settled with his parents in Lorain County. 
Moved to Berea, Ohio, in 1847, and was a student in 
Baldwin Seminary from 1849 until the spring of 1855, 
at which time he moved to Nebraska and lived with his 
parents on a farm north of Omaha. In 1857 he was mar- 
ried to Miss Hattie Diffin. He was licensed to preach 
in i860 by the Quarterly Conference of Florence Circuit, 
Rev. Hiram Burch in charge. He was admitted to travel 
the same year, and served Tekamah, Bellevue, and Platts- 
mouth Charges with marked success. In 1867 he was 
transferred to Colorado and served Central City and 
Georgetown. The blessing of God richly attended his 
labors upon these charges. Brother Amsbary located in 
1868 and for several years did not have charge of a work. 
At the request of Dr. Lemon, of blessed memory. Brother 
Amsbary returned to Nebraska in 1884 and enjoyed a 
good year at Ord. The next year he was stationed at 
Gibbon, then at North Platte. These were years of suc- 
cess both for the Church and pastor. The following year, 

• History of Nebraska Methodism. 385 

1887, Brother Amsbary was appointed presiding elder of 
Sidney District." Of this period Brother Amsbary writes : 
"This year was one of clouds and sunshine. Traveled 
nearly 11,000 miles, preached over 300 times, beside other 
labors. This year little four-year-old Frank died, to the 
memory of whom (with his sister Villa) is dedicated one 
of the rooms in Nebraska Wesleyan University, Hon. 
Frank Grabb paying $100 and the district paying the 

Brother Amsbary served the district faithfully until 
his death. He was just closing up his sixth year in this 
capacity, and was on his way to Big Springs in the dis- 
charge of his duties on the morning of the nth of the 
present month, when the fatal accident occurred which 
terminated the useful life of our beloved brother, and 
brought great sorrow to the hearts of all the members of 
this Conference. 

James Lisle is one of the most scholarly men the West 
Nebraska Conference has had in its ranks. But without 
a vigorous body he has been content with the more mod- 
est appointments, on which he has always done efficient 
work. But he has devoted much time to scientific re- 
search, and is a frequent and interesting contributor to 
our Church periodicals. After many years in the work 
in Iowa, he came to Nebraska, settling on a homestead 
near Long Pine' in 1885, his name appearing that year as 
pastor at Stewart. He becomes a member of the West 
Nebraska Conference in 1887 by transfer from the Des 
Moines Conference, and has since been in the active work 
as far as his health will permit. He is now Conference 
secretary for the semi-centennial celebration of Nebraska. 
Methodism, and the Jubilee Conference Claimants' Fund. 

386 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

T. W. Owen was among the first to respond to Dr. 
Lemon's call for men after he came to the Kearney 
District, and in 1878 is appointed to Indianola Circuit. 
This was two years before the Burlington and Missouri 
Railroad was built up the valley of the Republican, and 
everything was new.. Brother Owen built the first frame 
house south of the river, and west of Arapahoe, which 
was included in his circuit, all the other settlers living in 
the primitive sod houses. The river was not yet bridged, 
and had to be forded. There were no church buildings 
and the pastor must preach in sod houses or in the public 
halls, court-houses, or any place available. 

Only a few years before this the Republican Valley 
was the hunting ground of the Indians, where great herds 
of Buffalo ranged, and the Indians were still troublesome. 
About this time a band of warriors passed through that 
country, killing some of the settlers to the south of there, 
and stealing horses and destroying property.. Brother 
Owen went to one of his appointments, but instead of 
Sunday-school and service he found in the neighborhood 
a crowd of terrified settlers, with arms, and their camp 
surrounded with wagons to protect women and children 
from an attack by the savages, which was momentarily 
expected, but happily did not occur. 

After seven years' faithful work on circuits along the 
Republican, which included such places as Arapahoe, In- 
dianola, Cambridge, Wilsonville, Beaver City, Bartley, 
Republican City and Alma, where he laid the foundations' 
of our Zion, he passed to the north side of the State, 
where we find him at Ainsworth, Johnstown, and other 
places, building churches, holding revivals and in all other 
ways extending the borders of our Zion. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 387 

Brother Owen, like all the preachers on the frontier, 
found the people poor and unable to give him much of a 
support, yet he found in some of the sod houses people 
with diplomas from our educational institutions, and 
musical instruments, and other tokens of superior culture 
and refinement. He is still in the work, stationed at Riv- 
erton in the Republican Valley, near the scenes of his 
first experiences in the Nebraska work. 

Rev. James Leonard came into the Mission Confer- 
ence just as it was changing into an Annual Conference, 
but the character of the work he has wrought since calls 
for this brief reference : He was born in Ohio, January 
18, 1842. He was admitted on trial in the North Indiana 
Conference. He is transferred from that Conference to 
the West Nebraska Conference in 1885. His first charge 
was Indianola, and the second one was Beaver City. 
Then Curtis, Wallace. Ord, and Gibbon are served in 
succession, when in 1893 he is appointed presiding elder 
of the North Platte District. 

In this important field he soon becomes very popular. 
His sympathetic and genuine interest in his preachers 
soon won their hearts, and his care in all the details of 
the circuits and stations won the confidence of the people. 
We are not surprised that his brethren in the Conference 
should express their appreciation by electing him reserve 
delegate to the General Conference of 1896, and a dele- 
gate to that of 1900. Brother Leonard was on the Com- 
mission that established our Nebraska Wesleyan Univer- 
sity, and has . been a member of the Board of Trustees 
almost continuously since. Of later years he has been a 
successful Conference evangelist, but is now serving Lan- 
der, Wyoming, as pastor. 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 

O. R. Beebe is another of the strong men who, 
though not coming into the Conference till 1887, ren- 
dered long and efficient service in building up the work 
in West Nebraska Conference. He has since 1887 given 
his entire time to a number of the most important pas- 
torates in that Conference, and has been recognized as a 

leader among his brethren. He has 
for many years served as a member 
of the Board of Trustees of Wes- 
leyan University, and was twice 
a delegate to the General Confer- 
ence. A stroke of paralysis neces- 
sitated his taking the superannuated 
relation in 1903, and he is now resid- 
ing in University Place. 

Joseph Buckley was among those 
who wrought in this field through- 
out almost the entire history of the 
Mission, his name appearing for the 
first time as supply on the Clarksville Circuit, as early as 
1882, and has continued through many years of effective 
service on many a hard field. He is one of those choice 
spirits who, at the time of enduring the greatest hard- 
ships, making the greatest sacrifices, and even exhibiting 
a high degree of real heroism, are unconscious of doing 
anything but plain. simple duty for Christ's sake. 

He remains to years at Clarksville, where he improves 
the church property, and then goes to Alma and Repub- 
lican Circuit, where he remains two years, and then to Ax- 
tell and other circuits in succession, till compelled to relin- 
quish his work and enter the ranks of the superannuated, 
in 1902, which relation he yet sustains, honored by his 

Rev. O. R. Beebe. 

History oi^ Nebraska ^Methodism. 389 

brethren as one of the fathers of the West Nebraska Con- 
ference. He was born in England in 1840, and was well 
along in life before entering the work in Nebraska, but 
by faithful work he has done much in laying the founda- 
tions in this new world. 

As a result of this change to an Annual Conference, 
Dr. T. B. Lemon's official relation as superintendent of 
missions ceases and the old commander, after a year as 
presiding elder of the Kearney District, lays down his 
commission and retires from all active participation in the 
affairs of West Nebraska Methodism. But his work is 
done, and well down. For eight years he has been per- 
mitted to lead the hosts from victory to victory, rapidly 
extending the borders of our Zion, He has seen the 
"little one become a thousand." He may already say, 
with Paul, at least with reference to his mission in West 
Nebraska, "I have finished my course." He has been 
marvelously preserved for this very work, which has been 
the crowning work of a long ministerial career, marked 
by great success at every period. The event has proved 
that Bishop Bowman made no mistake when, in 1877, he 
sent this old hero to this important field, though it might 
have seemed otherwise to him and his friends at the time. 

His friends, whose "name is legion," will not allow 
their beloved leader to retire from this scene of battle and 
victory, without placing on record some words of appre- 
ciation, as seen in the following resolutions : 

"Whereas, The Rev. T. B. Lemon, D. D., for a con- 
siderable time presiding elder and superintendent in what 
is now the West Nebraska Conference, is at this time 
broken in health and suffering bodily pain. 

"Resolved, That this Conference desires to assure Dr. 

390 History of' Nebraska Methodism. 

Lemon of its continued love and earnest sympathy with 
him in his distress and its prayers for his speedy recovery. 
The Conference desires further to assure Dr. Lemon that 
it does not for one moment forget his eminent services, 
his great and long- continued labors in behalf of the 
Church he has done so much to plant on firm foundations 
in Western Nebraska, and his fatherly care for those 
whom the Church has placed under his direction. 

"Resolved, That while God calls our beloved brother 
who has so long served Him in earnest activity, now to a 
service of patient sufifering, he is affectionately assured 
that our hearts will follow wherever he may be called 
to go." 

As noted elsewhere, Dr. Lemon was permitted to take 
an influential part in the great work of organizing our 
present educational system, being a member of the Com- 
mission, and as financial agent of Nebraska Wesleyan 
University during the first years of its existence rendered 
good service in rallying the forces to its support. But 
increasing infirmity was bringing his long and useful life 
to a close. The end came February 19, 1896, at the home 
of his daughter, Mrs. C. F. Maynard. His brethren of 
the North Nebraska Conference, to which he had been 
transferred, place on record the following brief resume 
of his life work, and appreciation of his worth, written 
by his comrade, J. B. Maxficld : 

After referring to matters already mentioned in other 
pages of this book, Dr. Maxfield j:ontinues : "In 18S8 
the North Nebraska Conference requested the bishop to 
transfer Dr. Lemon to that body, which was done. He 
was a member of the General Church Extension and Mis- 
sionarv Committees for several terms. He was a mem- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 391 

ber of the General Conference in 1872 and 1880. These, 
and all other positions of responsibility and honor en- 
trusted to him by the Church, he filled with credit to 
himself and fidelity to the cause whose interests he served. 
The first meeting of Dr. Lemon with myself was at Ne- 
braska City in 1 86 1. Here began a friendship wdiich con- 
tinually increased until the time of his death — nearly one- 
third of a century later. Before time had bowed his 
commanding presence and shorn him of his strength. Dr. 
Lemon was a fine specimen of symmetrical manhood ; the 
expression of his countenance was very attractive and he 
possessed a voice of great flexibility and wonderful com- 
pass. His speech was chaste and fluent, and his words 
chosen with rare good taste. In his prime, his sermons 
were rare specimens of pulpit oratory, of w^hich any 
preacher of the Church need not be ashamed. He was 
a sound reasoner, a correct thinker, who brought rare 
native endowments with gifts of rich culture to the serv- 
ice of the ]\Iaster whom he loved and served. He came 
to his grave like a shock in its season, in the midst of 
nearly his entire family, composed of his companion in 
the kingdom of patience of Jesus and his fellow-pilgrim 
to the skies, his four children — two daughters and two 
sons — and their children ; three generations about the 
bedside of the mighty man of God, departing from their 
midst to the home in the skies to await their coming. 
Surely the 'chamber where the good man meets his fate 
is privileged above the common walks of life.' Dr. 
Lemon's life was grand and useful, his death tranquil and 
sweet as the falling to sleep of a babe on its mother's 
breast, without pain, in the full possession of his facul- 
ties. 'He was not, for God took him.' " 


FOURTH PERIOD. (1880-1904.) 

But we are not yet done with that form of expansion 
expressed in the organization of new Conferences. De- 
velopments in the West continue, especially in the north- 
west portion. It began as early as 1882 under the ad- 
ministration of T. B. Lemon, when the Mission Con- 
ference included all of Holt County. Two appointments. 
Middle Branch and Inman, appear in the Minutes for 
1 88 1, and these and two others, Keya Paha and Long 
Pine, in 1882. These are circuits, and embrace more than 
the places named. Inman includes Atkinson ; Long Pine 
includes Johnstown. Of the general situation in that 
part of the State, the prospects, and the difficulties en- 
countered, are thus set forth in Dr. Lemon's report for 
1882 : "These roads are opening up the country and 
bringing large settlements along the different lines, and 
the valleys and divides bordering on them. Towns are 
being built at the different stations and divisions ; and 
new charges are needed to be formed and men secured to 
fill them and do the great work Providence is opening up 
before us along the frontier. The different branches of 
the Church are putting men and large means, from their 
Missionary treasury, all along these lines of road and 
pushing out into the rural districts and organizing 
Churches with an earnest zeal and liberality of means, 
which shows their faith in the future of this country." 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 393 

Dr. Lemon is still in charge of the whole field, with 
thirty-three charges scattered over nearly the entire west- 
ern two-thirds of the State. To visit his farthest appoint- 
ment, Long Pine, requires 300 miles of travel. Yet Dr. 
Lemon visited that portion of his district in person, and 
years after, when the writer was presiding elder, and had 
the eastern portion of Holt County in his district, there 
were still many with distinct and pleasant memory of 
those visits. 

But in 1883 the whole number of appointments had 
increased to forty-five, and twenty-three of the eastern 
and northeastern appointments are set oflf and the Grand 
Island District is formed, with P. C. Johnson as presid- 
ing elder. The number of circuits up along the Elkhorn 
Railroad have increased to ten. 

Prior to the meeting of the Mission in 1884, a ses- 
sion of the General Conference had intervened and had 
done two things of great interest to the Mission. It had 
so changed the boundary lines of the older Conferences 
as to run on the west line of Webster, Adams, Hall, and 
through" the center of Holt County on to the north. By 
this change the ^Mission gained five appointments from the 
Hastings District and lost thirteen from the central and 
northern portion, these going to the North Nebraska 
Conference. The other action of interest was the pas- 
sage by the General Conference of an enabling act, au- 
thorizing the Mission to resolve itself into an Annual 

Notwithstanding the loss of thirteen charges, as stated 
in Dr. Lemon's report, there were still enough left to 
form three districts, the Republican Valley, with P. C. 
Johnson presiding elder; Platte Valley, in charge of T. 

394 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

B. Lemon ; and the Niobrara Valley, with George W. 
Martin presiding elder. 

By 1886 Dr. INlartin has enough charges up along the 
Elkhorn to constitute the Long Pine District, which now 
embraced settlements as far west as Chadron, there being 
fourteen charges in the district. The Elkhorn Valley 
Railroad is now completed as far west as Chadron and 
towns are springing up all along the line. 

George W. Martin, who, since 1884, has as presiding 
elder led the hosts during this rapid development along 
the northwest portion of the State, came to the Mission 
in 1882 and was employed by Dr. Lemon to fill out the 
unexpired term of A. H. Summers, at Kearney, the lat- 
ter having gone to California. Of Dr. Martin's pastorate 
at Kearney, Dr. Lemon speaks these words of commenda- 
tion : "We were fortunate in obtaining the services of 
Rev. George W. Martin, of the Central Illinois Confer- 
ence, who brought a most valuable ministerial experience 
to Kearney and to our Mission, and his labors at Kear- 
ney prove him to have been the right man in the right 
place. Brother Martin has collected and paid off an old 
debt of $545, clearing the charge of all indebtedness, and 
they have contracted for the building of a parsonage at 
a cost of $1,500." 

Dr. Martin was returned to Kearney in 1883, and in 
1884 Bishop Mallalieu appointed him to the Niobrara 
Valley District. 

He found in the north part of the State one church 
building and a few towns scattered along the line of the 
railroad, beginning with Atkinson, with that holy man of 
God, D. T. Olcott, as pastor, building up the Church, and 
extending as far as Gordon, where the old veteran from 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 395 

Indiana, J. A. Scamahorn had already lifted up the stand- 
ard. There is an indefinite circuit called White River, 
which was doubtless intended to include the settlements 
in the region w^here Chadron now is. That was left to 
be supplied, and Joseph Gray, a recruit from Pennsyl- 
vania, is sent to that farthest outpost. 

This may be said to be the Northwest Nebraska Con- 
ference in embryo. But it is to be fortunate, like so many 
other portions of our frontier work, in having' some of 
our strongest, wisest men to superintend the laying of 
the foundations, and it will rapidly advance in its march 
towards the goal of a full-fledged Annual Conference, 
which it will reach in a few years. 

But perhaps no period of its growth w^as more rapid 
than during the incumbency of George W. Martin, and 
at no time was more careful oversight required than dur- 
ing these years when the completion of the Elkhorn Val- 
lay Railroad to the Black Hills attracted an immense im- 
migration to the country contiguous to the line. Classes 
must be formed, circuits organized, churches and parson- 
ages built, and men must be found willing and capable of 
bringing these things to pass. This required no little 
executive ability and alertness on the part of the presid- 
ing elder, but George W. ]\lartin seemed equal to the oc- 
casion, and our work made fine progress under his admin- 
istration. He starts out with nine appointments on the 
north part of his district, and turns over to his successor 
fifteen organized charges. Instead of one there are nine 
churches and one parsonage. 

After leaving the district Dr. Martin is appointed to 
the important station. North Platte, and afterward was 
for some years chaplain of the Reform School at Kear- 

396 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

ney. He was on the Commission that located Nebraska 
Wesleyan at Lincohi, and has since been transferred to 
the Nebraska Conference, where, besides several pas- 
torates, he has served as chaplain of the penitentiary. He 
now resides in Lincoln, and is prominently connected with 
the Prison Reform Association 

Indiana Methodism is to furnish the two men, T. C. 
Webster and A. R. Julian, who are to wisely and vig'- 
orously carry forward the work in the northwest part 
of the State, so well begun and efficiently executed by T. 
B. Lemon, P. C. Johnson, and George W. Martin, and 
the faithful Blains, Gortners, Olcotts, Owens, and others 
equally true, who wrought under the leadership of these 

We pause to note the large part that Indiana Meth- 
odism has played in the history of Nebraska Methodism. 
While nearly every Northern, and some Southern States 
have made their contribution of noble ministers and men 
and women in the laity, it can not but have been noticed 
that Indiana has done in some ways what no other State 
has done. It was Indiana Methodism, which had com- 
manded the services of a Simpson and Bowman, in her 
educational work and then gave them, along with her 
stalwart Ames to the Episcopacy, that also gave their 
equal in many respects, W. H. Goode, in 1854, to lay the 
foundation stones of Nebraska Methodism. And a few 
years later, in 1858, gave us H. T. Davis to continue the 
work on the foundation and give forty-four years effect- 
ive, labor on the superstructure. W^ho may compute the 
value of the labors of these two men alone? But these 
are not all. It was in Indiana that J. B. Maxfield united 
with the Methodist Church, and received his commission 

History of Nebraska jNIethodism. 


from on high to preach the Gospel, though it was not 
till after he came to Nebraska that the Divine call was 
formally recognized by the Church which licensed him to 
preach and admitted him into the traveling connection in 
1861, and for over forty years furnished him suitable 
fields for the employment of his great powers. Then 
later we have Leonard and Beebe and Vessels pushing 
the battle in West Nebraska. Others might be men- 
tioned, but these few choice spirits, along with Webster 
and Julian, will be sufficient to bear 
us out in the statement that the con- 
tribution of Indiana to Nebraska 
Methodism has been unique in the 
character of the workers and the 
value and extent of the influence ex- 

T. C. Webster came to us from 
the Northwest Indiana Conference, 
being transferred to the West Ne- 
braska Conference in 1885, and after 
filling some important pastorates he, in 1887, succeeded 
Dr. Martin on the Northwest District, w^hich had changed 
its name every year up to that time, and is now called 
the Chadron District. This has become an immense dis- 
trict, extending from the west line of the North Ne- 
braska Conference, which runs through the center of Holt 
County, to the west line of the State, and is about 300 
miles long, and of varying width, from 100 miles on the 
eastern portion to the towns along the railroad in the 
western portion. Everything is still new, and there is 
much work to be done in organizing new charges and 
building churches and parsonages. Of these the churches 

T. C. Webster. 

398 History oi? Nebraska Methodism. 

increase in number from nine to twenty, and parsonages 
from one to ten during Webster's administration; the 
number of appointments from fifteen to twenty. In the 
western portion the district has broadened so as to take 
in AIHance, Box Butte, and Hemingsford, and Marsland 
along the B. & M. Black Hills and Billings Line. The 
membership, including probationers, has about doubled, 
increasing from 888 to i,6i8 in the same time. 

During the Conference year of 1890-91, T. C. Web- 
ster finds the work on the district too hard for his frail 
body, and that he is breaking down, and must relinquish 
the district work. The magnificent results show that he 
has not spared himself, but has successfully led the hosts 
of workers during his incumbency, and turns the district 
over to his successor well organized and well manned. 

He then joins the ranks in the North Nebraska Con- 
ference and successfully serves Walnut Hill and South 
Tenth Street, in Omaha, and Lyons, Trinity Church, 
Grand Island, Central City, and Schuyler, where he is 
now in his second year. He is the secretary of the Semi- 
centennial Celebration and Conference Claimants' Fund 
for the North Nebraska Conference. 

A. R. Julian, who has been pastor at Deadwbod, 
in the Black Hills, succeeds T. C. Webster on the Chad- 
ron District, and so successfully carries on the work that 
by 1892 the number of appointments have increased to 

Territorially, the district is isolated to such an extent 
that it has become a great hardship for nearly all the 
preachers to reach the seat of Conference, involving as it 
does 150 to 300 miles travel by private conveyance, and 
there being no line of railroad running north and south, 

History oi' Nebraska Methodism. 399 

except at Crawford on the west, and Norfolk on the east, 
the distance for most of them is even greater by railroad, 
being- from 200 to 450 miles to any point along the Union 
Pacific Railroad. Of men whose average receipts are 
about $350, and none much above $600, this sacrifice 
should not be required any longer than necessary. And 
the growth under these successful leaders, and the effi- 
cient work of the pastors had gone on, until all the con- 
ditions seemed to imperatively demand that the privilege 
accorded by the enabling act of the General Conference 
be accepted. This was done at Kearney, Nebraska, in 
1892, when the following resolution, introduced by C. H. 
Burleigh, was adopted by a vote of fifty-nine to two : 

"Whereas, An enabling act was granted by the last 
General Conference to the West Nebraska Conference to 
divide itself into two Annual Conferences, the presiding 
bishop concurring in this action, and 

"Whereas, We believe the most favorable time for 
such action has come, in order to facilitate the work of 
the Church within this large territory, therefore, 

"Resolved, That we divide our territory and organize 
a new Conference, the boundary line of division to be as 
follows : Commencing on the east line of the Conference 
where the said line crosses the south line of Holt County, 
and thence west along the south line of Holt, Rock, 
Brown, Cherry, Sheridan, Box Butte, and Sioux Coun- 
ties to the west line of the State of Nebraska. That por- 
tion of this Conference lying north of this line to be 
known as the 'Northwest Nebraska Conference.' The 
interest of the new Conference, as to missionary appro- 
priations and otherwise, to be preserved. Signed, 

"Charles H. Burleigh, 
''James Lisle.'' 

'400 History of Nebraska Methodism, 

Thus the fourth and last of the Annual Conferences 
came to its birth, as the result of ten years of develop- 
ment, brought about by the wise leadership of Lemon, 
Johnson, Martin, Webster, and Julian, and the faithful 
work of many efficient men who wrought on this hard 
field, some of them throughout the entire period. These 
names are worthy to be put on record, and are as follo\\'s, 
as they appear in the Minutes at the first session of the 
new Conference at Alliance, in September, 1893 : 

Austin, H. H. Elkins, T. J. Moore, O. T. 

Balch, T. C. Foutch, M. S. Ramsey, O. L. 

Baker, O. S. Gammon, R. H. Rorick, E, E. E. 

Beck, S. A. Gettys, J. R. Scamahorn, J. A. 

Burleigh, C. H. Glassner, W. O. Smith, C. F. 

Davenport, R. J. Julian, A. R, Snedaker, G. P. 


McCuUough, John W. Connell, Charles E.' 

Kendall, John W. Clark, Darwin J. 

Pucket, William T. 

Many of these are worthy of fuller treatment than 
the mere mention of their names, but the writer's efforts to 
secure the requisite data have failed, and only a few can 
receive any further notice than this record of names, and 
that very briefly. 

A. R. Julian, who is the son of a Methodist preacher, 
has been the recognized leader of this band since 1891, 
and has served six years as presiding elder. Without 
doubt, his district, 300 miles long and extending eighty 
miles southeast from Crawford along the B. & M. R. R,, 
involved as much travel in the course of the year as any 


w * 


I. C. E. CONNELL. 2. A. B. Chapin. 3. C. F. Smith. 4. W. O. Glass- 

NER. 5. O. ly. Ramsey. 6. T. C. Balch. 


402 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

district we have ever had in Nebraska, and probably 
more. To make the work still harder, the single passen- 
ger train that ran each way on the Elkhorn Road ran m 
the night in that portion of the route, so that much of 
the travel must be done at night, except the few trips that 
might be made on freight trains in the daytime. 

About the time the Northwest Nebraska Conference 
was born, and A. R. Julian began his hard six years of 
work, the conditions began to change for the worse, mak- 
ing progress more difficult, if not impossible, in many 
parts of that territory. The preceding "seven years of 
plenty" were to be followed by "seven years of lean- 
ness." A succession of dry seasons brought partial and 
sometimes complete failure of crops. Notwithstand- 
ing these adverse conditions the report made 
at the end of his term by the presiding elder shows 
during this six years "we had 2,800 conversions 
and additions. During this period our population has de- 
creased at least one-third. With decreasing population 
we have doubled our membership, and we have sent out 
of the district more than a thousand members to other 
societies. We have built fifteen churches and eleven par- 
sonages. We have raised and expended on old debts and 
for building and improving churches and parsonages $32,- 
700." At the close of his term it was deemed best to make 
two districts, the Long Pine and Chadron, manned by 
those two old veterans, both in their country's service, 
and in the Lord's army, P. H. Eighmy and J. A. Scama- 
horn, both of whom have just closed their full term. 
Brother Eighmy was elected a delegate to the General 
Conference at the last session of their Conference. 

After retiring from the district in 1887, Brother 
Julian served a term as superintendent of public instruc- 

History of Nebraska ^Methodism. 403 

tion of Dawes County, and after serving two pastorates 
he has again been summoned to district work, succeed- 
ing P. H. Eighmy on the Long Pine District. D. J. 
Clark succeeds Brother Scamahorn on the Chadron 

Brother Julian has twdce been elected delegate to the 
General Conference, the second time while he was a super- 
numerary, something that so rarely occurs that it shows 
in special manner the high esteem in which he is held 
by his brethren. He has been for many years an influen- 
tial member of the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska 
Wesleyan University. He is still in the prime of life and 
gives promise of many years of usefulness. 

Charles H. Burleigh was transferred from the South- 
west Kansas Conference to the West Nebraska Confer- 
ence in 1888. He has given five years to the West Ne- 
braska Conference before the division, and is a charter 
member of the Northwest Nebraska Conference, in which 
he has been in the pastorate from its beginning. He has 
served some of the most important charges, built churches 
and parsonages wherever needed and it was possible, been 
blessed with many very gracious revivals, and by his 
thorough business-like method, has contributed as much 
to the success of the work in that part of the State as 
any other pastor. He seems to be a born secretary. He 
had not been long in the West Nebraska Conference till 
he was elected secretary and continued at that post till 
the organization of the Northwest Conference, and that 
Conference has had but one man for secretary, and that 
man is Charles H. Burleigh. 

Stephen A. Beck, after a few years of successful work 
on pastoral charges, was sent as a missionary to Korea, 

404 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

and is in charge of our publishing estabUshment at Seoul, 
tlie capital of the kingdom. 

D. J. Clark began his ministerial career the same year 
ti.e Conference was organized, and has grown with its 
growth, filling the pulpit at Chadron and other important 
f.elds, and is now presiding elder of the Chadron District. 

W. O. Glassner was born in 1833, and entered the 
ministry in 1858, and after many years in the active serv- 
ice in the western part of the State, is now a superan- 
nuated member of the Northwest Conference, greatly be- 
loved and honored by his brethren. 

The conditions referred to in connection with A. R. 
Julian's six years on the district have continued in full 
force nearly ever since, precluding any material progress. 
For the last five or six years they have held their own. 
the membership being slightly in excess of what it was 
when Julian closed his first term on the district. For 
the last year, however, there has been many indications 
that better conditions are in store for both State and 
Church in that part of the country. The people are com- 
ing to understand the soil and the climate better, and 
there are plenty of opportunities for successful farming 
and stock raising, which couibined, becomes quite profita- 
ble. People are again settling in that part of the State, 
and Methodism in the Northwest Conference is on the 
field, organized and enthusiastic, and ready for the nev/ 
era of progress. 

This completion of the organization of the four Con- 
ferences marks the limits of expansion in that direction, 
as there will probably never be more needed in the State. 


FOURTH PERIOD. (1880-1904.) 

Thus we have traced the expansion of the Church 
until it has covered the entire area of the State. We 
have found that organization has kept pace with the ex- 
pansion. The Httle class in the Morris settlement in Cass 
County was the first to be organized. But others quickly 
followed, necessitating the forming of circuits, stations, 
and districts ; and. finally, as the population extended, and 
the area occupied became greater, the evolution of the 
four Conferences has been the natural result of the 
growth of a live evangelistic Church. 

These Conferences will henceforth have charge of the 
territory assigned them, and supervise the further devel- 
opment and organization of the Church within their 
bounds. Their work will have much in common and 
their progress will be under the same general laws of spir- 
itual growth, requiring the Divine power of the Holy 
Spirit to guide and make effective the consecrated human 

But while much will be in common, each Conference 
will, in subordinate ways, have its own problems to solve, 
its own peculiar conditions, which will favor or retard 
the progress of the work, and though the workers in each 
may be characterized by the same zeal, consecration, and 
capacity, the progress in some will perhaps be greater 
than in others, as conditions may be more or less favor- 
able. So, if in the farther tracing of the history in the 


4o6 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

diiTerent sections of this State we find that some of these 
Conferences have made greater progress than others, it 
will be attributed to these varying conditions, and not be 
deemed to indicate any less fidelity in the workers in any 
one of the Conferences. Our Lord Himself found the 
conditions such at Nazareth that "He could there do no 
mighty work." 

As a matter of fact it will be found from now on 
that the natural conditions in the eastern portion of the 
State, occupied by the older Conferences, will be much 
more favorable than in the western portion. The expe- 
rience of the years has made it plain that while much of 
the western portion is rich in soil, it belongs to the semi- 
arid belt, where the rain fall from year to year is not suffi- 
cient for reliable farming, and the material growth of that 
section has not kept pace with the eastern. However, 
during this last period, the West Nebraska Conference 
has made commendable progress and even the Northwest 
Conference, where the conditions have been least favor- 
able, has made some progress. 

This last period will witness the rapid growth of the 
large 'cities, and the establishment of new churches in 
eligible locations. Omaha has grown from 30,000 in 
1880, to a little over 100,000 in 1900. The census of 
1890 gives the population as 139,000, but what many sus- 
pected at the time was clearly shown to be the fact by 
the census of 1900, that the census of 1890 was padded 
to the extent of at least 50,000. This is now acknowl- 
edged by all and is regarded by some of the best men in 
Omaha as having been a criminal blunder, which has re- 
acted disastrously. They are now convinced that hon- 
esty is the best policy, even in census matters. 

H. Hirst Millard. 2. Stokely D. Roberts. 3. R. H. Adams. 4. Wm. R. 
Jones. 5. Richard Pearson. 6. D. F. Rodabaugh. 7. W. A. Amsbary. 
8. J. G. Miller. 9. A,sa C. Sleeth. 10. J. "" ^ •" ^ "" "' 

Elwood. 12. W. K. Beans. 


R. Gettys. II. George W. 

4o8 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

But the increase from 30,000 in 1880 to 100,000 in 
1900 is a substantial gain, and has necessitated a corre- 
sponding expansion of our Church. We have seen 
Seward Street Church taking the place of the old Eight- 
eenth Street Church, and South Tenth strengthening its 
position by building a church in 1880, and a parsonage 
in 188 1. Seward Street has had a healthy growth under 
a succession of energetic and able pastors, numbering 
such men as Wm. Worley. C. W. Savidge, D. K. Tindal, 
A. C. Welch, C. N. Dawson, and Wm. Gorst. It now 
numbers 444, as compared with 142 reported for Eight- 
eenth Street Church in 1880. 

South' Tenth Street began the period with seventy- 
two and now has one hundred and thirty-one. Thus this 
Church has made some progress, but not equal to what 
we anticipated. It has been well and faithfully served 
by such men as J. W. Stewart, E. G. Fowler, T. C. Clen- 
denning, C. N. Dawson, Alfred Hodgetts, J. B. Priest, 
T. C. VVebster. G. A. Luce, and the present pastor, A. L. 
Mickel. These have all been efficient pastors, and some 
most excellent lay workers, such as Luther A. Harmon 
and his father, IMrs. N. J. Smith, David Cole, and others, 
who were in the Church at the first and were joined by 
others who came in later. 

In 1886 H. H. Millard, D. D., organized Hansconi 
Park Church. This Church occupies one of the very best 
portions of the city, and has the field to itself, being far 
enough away from any other Methodist Church to pre- 
vent any conflict of interest. It has also been favored by 
a number of aggressive laymen, prominent among them 
being John Dale, a local preacher and business man. 

Brother Millard was very successful, and at the end of 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 409 

the year reported, a church worth $8,000. and a member- 
ship of ninety-four. It now has a fine church worth $33,- 
500, a paisonage. worth $2,500, and a membership of 352. 

The appointment of H. H. Millard to Hanscom Park 
Church (which was to be) by Bishop Fowler, in 1886, 
is a good illustration of the embarrassment to which a 
presiding elder is sometimes subjected. The writer was 
at tliat time presiding elder of the Norfolk District, and 
had secured Brother Millard from Drew Theological 
School, and he having done two years of excellent work 
at Wisner, I wished very much to keep him. Bishop 
Fowler, seeing a splendid opportunity at Hanscom Park, 
was looking over the Conference for the best man for 
the place. Millard had been suggested, and the bishop 
proceeded to question me in regard to the young man. 
To tell the truth about him was to lose the man I needed, 
but being a little proud of him, I told the whole truth, 
after which the bishop quietly said, "We will put Mil- 
lard down for Hanscom Park." 

Brother Millard's successors were George M, Brown, 
v/ho remained five years ; W. P. Murray, who staid five 
years; F, M. Sisson, who after two years was appointed 
presiding elder of the Norfolk District, and Clyde C. 
Cissel, who is now on his fifth year. It is a credit to this 
Church that they have so uniformly kept their pastors a 
long term, and these pastors have evidently been doing 
good work rearing this goodly superstructure on the 
foundations so well laid by H. H. Millard. 

In 1883, the country where South Omaha now stands 
was open farm land, but about that time was purchased 
by packing-house interests in Chicago, and in a very brief 
time there was the beginning of the now thriving city of 

4IO History of Nebraska AIethodism. 

South Omaha, with a population of 25,000 or more. Of 
course, Alethodism will seize this important point, and in 
1886, T. B. Hilton, who had previously served Fremoni 
and York, was assigned to "Omaha Circuit." At the 
end of the first year the statistics show thirty-eight mem- 
bers, and one church worth $32,000, and a parsonage 
worth $1,800. But this is manifestly an error, as the 
amount reported the next year was $3,800 for the church 
and $600 for the parsonage, which is correct. 

L. H. Eddleblute succeeded Hilton, and during the 
two years of his successful pastorate began and inclosed 
a more commodious church building. The writer fol- 
lowed Eddleblute and found that, his work had been well 
done. During my pastorate the Church begun under my 
predecessor's administration, was carried forward to com- 
pletion, and dedicated by Bishop Newman. I found some 
splendid laymen, who co-operated heartily in the work. 
Among these were Young, Mead, Eastman, and Rich- 
ardson. Chief among these was the last named, who as 
president of the Board of Trustees, Sunday-school super- 
intendent, class-leader, and steward, proved himself a 
valuable helper and true friend to the pastor. There 
were others who were helpful, but whose names are not 
recalled. At the close of the first year I was appointed 
presiding elder of the Elkhorn Valley District, and C. N. 
Dawson followed. His pastorate continued five years, 
and was very successful. During his term the church 
burned down, and he successfully led the people through 
the difficult task of erecting on the same site a much bet- 
ter one at a cost of $15,000. Under Dawson and his suc- 
cessors, J. A. Johnson, H. H. Millard, and M. A. Head, 
all strong men, the Church has made steady progress, 





%^ ^ 


^j jy —v 



I. Thomas Bithel. 2. Isaac Burns. 3. A. G. White. 4. C. W. Giddings. 

5. J. S. W. Dean. 6. J. F. Kemper. 7. D. J. Clark. 8. Martin 

Pritchard. 9. S. P. V.\N Doozer. 


412 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

and the thirty-eight reported by Hilton have increased to 
four hundred. 

Omaha extended rapidly toward the north during 
the eighties, and presented an inviting field to Methodism, 
which was promptly entered, and in 1887, Trinity Church 
bes:an its eventful career. The church is located in the 
addition known as Koontz Place, in which no lot was sold 
to any one that did not agree to build a house worth 

T. B. Hilton was the first man to preach in that vicin- 
ity with a view to establishing a Church, but remained 
but a short time, when J. E. Ensign, who had something 
of a reputation as a financier, was employed to solicit 
subscriptions. But a failure to secure a guarantee of 
$1,200 salary caused him soon to retire, not being the 
kind of man needed. A. H. Henry was transferred from 
Castellar appointment in the south part of the city, where 
there was little promise, to this much more promising 
field. Trinity thus had the somewhat novel experience 
of having three pastors before there was any Church or- 

But Henry was an energetic, bright young man and 
soon found the following persons who were on the 13th 
of November, 1887, organized into a class and took the 
name of Trinity Church : M. M. Hamlin and wife and 
three children, Ed. A. Parmelee and wife, Mrs. Norah H. 
Lemon, C. W. Cain and wife, and Stella Cain ; J. J. Mc- 
Lain and wife, J. J. Toms and wife, L. A. Harmon and 
wife, O. T. Smith and wife, H. H. Miller, Mrs. E. B. 
Brayton, J. H. Cornes, C. D. Simms and wife, Elizabeth 
Hamilton, Edward Bell, wife, and family; Mrs. Willett, 
Mary Willett ; Kittie Snow and Kate Elsas. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 413 

Encouraged by a generous subscription of $500 from 
Rev. John P. Roe, the amount deemed needed to make 
it safe to do so, was secured, and a good substantial 
church was built at a cost of $17,000, and dedicated by 
Bishop Newman. 

Succeeding A. II. Henry was J. W. Robinson, and he 
and his successor, W. K. Beans, added to the Church 
till the membership had increased to 269. F. H. Sander- 
son follows W. K. Beans, and remains five years, report- 
ing at Conference in 1898, 228 members. Thus in its 
first ten years it grew into a strong Church numerically, 
but when Jesse W. Jennings, who had been appointed to 
Trinity, reached his field, he found a discouraged people 
almost ready to give up the struggle and acknowledge 
that they were bankrupt. Trinity was one of those enter- 
prises that had the misfortune to start out at the wrong 
end of the boom, and before they could get their finances 
in good shape, the boom burst and made it difficult to 
collect old subscriptions, or secure new ones. But 
Brother Jennings is something of a genius in church 
finances, and after a year of determined effort, he, with 
the heroic co-operation of the membership and friends, 
succeeded in raising the debt and saving the property. 
After two years he was placed in charge of the Omaha 
District, and is followed at Trinity by H. H. ]\Iillard, who 
after a year became presiding elder of the Grand Island 
District, and D. K, Tindal goes to Trinity, and was fol- 
lowed by J. R. Smith, who is now pastor. The Church 
has progressed under these faithful, strong men till now 
the membership is 385. 

Walnut Hill Church first appeared in the Minutes in 
1891, as "Wesley Chapel," and is left to be supplied. The 

414 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Church was organized January 4, 1891. The first mem- 
bers were Mr. and Mrs. F. L. Cotton, Miss Mattie Ma- 
son, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Johnson, Miss Eunice Stanardt, 
Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Stonecyphcr. The charge was tem- 
porarily served by John P. Roe, John Dale, and others, 
and D. F. Rodabaugh held a revival meting of two 
weeks. Fortunately, just at this juncture, T. C. Webster, 
who had, as before mentioned, been compelled to relin- 
quish his work on the Chadron District on account of ill 
health, was available, and was appointed to this infant 
Church in June, 1891. 

Happily at this time the Hanscom Park Church, hav- 
ing outgrown their first building, and were under the 
necessity of erecting a larger one, generously donated 
their old church to the struggling society, and it was 
moved and served a second time as a place in which to 
shelter and nurse an infant Church into maturity of power 
and influence. 

T. C. Webster was reappointed at the next Confer- 
ence and remained two years. He found seventeen mem- 
bers and left one hundred and ten. He found not a penny 
worth of property, and left a property valued at $6,000. 
T. C. Clendenning and J. E. Moore followed in succes- 
sion, serving one year each, and the membership increased 
to 159. C. N. Dawson is next in succession, and re- 
mained five years, and the membership increased to 305. 
G. A. Luce and George H. Main, who is the present pas- 
tor, round out the list of pastors who have made Walnut 
Hill Church, as it is now called, one of the most influen- 
tial in the city. A fine parsonage has been added to its 
property, and it is rapidly becoming one of the most de- 
sirable charges in the city and has a fine field for future 


I. D. W. Crane. 2. J. E. Moore. 4. A. C. Calkins. 5. George A. Smith 

6. J. B. Lbedom. 8. W. G. Miller. 9. S. H. Henderson. 


4i6 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

While some of the efforts have been abortive, as was 
the case with Castellar Street and Newman Church on 
St. Mary's Avenue, others have amply justified their ex- 
istence by supplying the religious needs of growing 
suburbs. Among these are Leffler Memorial, in South 
Omaha, with W. D. Stambaugh, pastor ; Southwest 
Church, with R. M. Henderson pastor; West Omaha 
(now McCabe), T. S. Watson, pastor; Monmouth Paik 
is now Hirst Memorial', named in honor of Rev. A. C. 
Hirst, former pastor of First Church. William Esplin is 
pushing the work here. Benson is served by the faithful, 
efficient Englishman, John Crews. The last three named 
are full of promise. Hirst Memorial has a new church, 
and Benson a new parsonage, and both are facing a more 
hopeful future. 

Thus the number of churches have multiplied with 
the growth of the city. By some law of human nature 
the needs of the individual and of society are best served 
by dividing them into groups. When our Lord would 
feed the five thousand he had them divided into compa- 
nies, "by hundreds and fifties." (Mark vi, 40.) So it has 
been found that the average Church in a city can not 
reach effectively more than about ten thousand of the 
population, or extend its influence much beyond the 
radius of one-half mile from the Church. This would 
require in Omaha ten Methodist churches to supply effi- 
ciently the religious needs of the city. Methodism has 
nine, not counting those in South Omaha. This seems 
about the right number, and they are all so located as not 
to be crowding each other. 

The old mother church has sometimes looked on these 
new enterprises at the beginning with some misgivings. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 417 

fearing it would merely weaken her without strengthen- 
ing the general cause of Methodism in the city. The out- 
come, however, has proved that her fears were ground- 
less, and that she is buttressed on all sides by strong, 
vigorous Churches, and much more is being done for 
Christ and His kingdom in the city of Omaha than could 
have been done by a single Church. There are now three 
other Churches with a larger membership and better 
property than she had in 1880, and one other with as 
many members. In the meanwhile she herself has in- 
creased her membership from 240 in 1880, to 670 in 
1903, and the value of her property from $12,000 to 

This progress has been achieved by a succession of 
aggressive and able pastors, beginning with J. B. Max- 
field in 1880, who Avas placed on the Omaha District in 
1881. Following ]\Iaxfield were J. W. Stewart, Charles 
W. Savidge, R. N. McKaig, T. M. House, P. S. Merrill, 
Frank Crane, John AlcOuoid, A. C. Hirst, and the pres- 
ent pastor, E. Combie Smith. 

During this period there has been no time until re- 
cently that nearly all these Churches have not been bur- 
dened with heavy debts, some to the verge of bankruptcy. 
Now, under the co-operation of presiding elders, pastors, 
and laymen, they are all free from debt, or the debts are 
amply provided for. It may be truthfully said that at no 
time in the last fifty years has Omaha Methodism stood 
so high or been so fully equipped and ready to assume an 
aggressive attitude as now. 

With a total membership, including South Omaha, of 
2,789 (Minutes of 1903), she faces a more hopeful fu- 
ture than ever before, and will doubtless achieve larger 

4i8 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

results along spiritual lines, being unhampered by the 
burden of debt. 

Lincoln Methodism has made even greater progress 
than Omaha. The Minutes for 1880 gives one church, 
valued at $3,500, and parsonage, $2,500, and a member- 
ship of 411. But Trinity Church was even then in its 
incipiency, in the form of an appointment in South Lin- 
coln as a part of the Lincoln Circuit. The city was rap- 
idly extending southward, and when that energetic and 
persistent man, A. L. Folden, was appointed to Lincoln 
Circuit in 1878, the first Quarterly Conference of St. 
Paul's Church held that year, voted to request Brother 
Folden to take up an appointment in South Lincoln, and 
appointed a committee to assist him in finding a suitable 
place in which to hold services. The details of his sub- 
sequent struggles are given elsewhere, and it will suffice 
to say that an organization was effected and in 1880-81 
a small frame building was erected at Twelfth and A 
Streets, at a cost of $1,200. This marks the beginning 
of Trinity Church. The little society continued a part of 
Lincoln Circuit until 1883, when it became a separate 
charge with fifty-three members. Following Brother 
Folden were P. S Mather, two years ; J Marsh, three 
years ; and C. H. Gilmore, one year. Under these faith- 
ful men the society increased to ninety-four members in 
1887. Then H. T. Davis became pastor and continued 
three years. At the commencement of his pastorate the 
little church building was donated to what was known 
as Bethel, a mile west on B Street. We see the law men- 
tioned in connection with Omaha, asserts itself in the de- 
velopment of our work in Lincoln, and Trinity is located 
about a mile from St. Paul's, and finds, plenty of room 



I. Geo. p. Trites. 2. O. W. Fifer. 3. Chas. H. Burleigh. 4, J. B. Priest. 

5. D. C. WiNSHip. 6. W. G. Vessells. 7. Z. S. Rhone. 


420 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

and leaves plenty of room. Bethel is located a mile west 
of Trinity, and as we shall see, Grace Church will find 
an ample field about a mile and a half east of St. Paul. 

At the close of Dr. Davis's pastorate the membership 
had increased to 258, and a commodious frame chapel 
had been erected at the corner of Sixteenth and A. 

Stokely D. Roberts, one of our ablest preachers and 
successful pastors and presiding elders, came to the pas- 
torate at Trinity at a time when his -once strong mind 
was becoming unbalanced, and his health breaking down, 
and when he was very near the end of a useful career. 
He was born in Indiana, August 16, 1844, and was con- 
verted at the age of sixteen. He enlisted in the armv 
in 1862, and remained to the end of the war. He began 
his ministry in 1873, and had successfully served some 
of the most important charges, including Peru, Tecumseh, 
Fairbury, David City, and Beatrice, and a full term on 
the Beatrice District. While at Tecumseh he was mar- 
ried to Miss Ella I. Gehr. 

Had Stokely D. Roberts come to Trinity in the full 
vigor of his mental and physical powers, he would have 
made a large contribution to its progress. But the sad 
end of his influential career is at hand, and on the i6th 
of August, 1893, in a fit of temporary insanity, he took 
his own life. His brethren put on record this true esti- 
mate of their departed brother : "Brother Roberts was a 
close student, a deep thinker, and a good preacher." 

In the fall of 1891, Dr. D. W. C. Huntington, of 
Genesee Conference, after a long and honorable career in 
that Conference, was transferred, at the invitation of the 
Official Board, unanimously tendered, and became their 
pastor. The five years' pastorate of this strong man, as 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 421 

might be expected, was marked by great progress along 
all lines. The frame tabernacle gave place to a beautiful 
and commodious structure costing $17,000, which is to be 
the chapel of a much larger church when completed. The 
membership has increased to 447. While pastor of Trin- 
ity, Dr. Huntington was chosen as the agent for the 
entire ^Methodism of the State, to receive and distribute 
supplies during the years of drouth, in 1894-95, which 
difficult, delicate, and laborious service he rendered to 
the satisfaction of all. 

The two pastors that have succeeded him are R. S. 
Chipperfield, who served three years, and N. A. Martin, 
the present pastor, who is now in the fifth year of a very 
successful pastorate. Both these are able and consecrated 
men and have carried forward the work ^ so well begun 
by Dr. Huntington and his predecessors, and the result 
has been a still further increase in membership, which now 
numbers 484, and a magnificent church property, well 
located, and valued at $20,000. 

By 1886 East Lincoln had grown to such an extent 
that St. Paul's Church herself recognized the necessity 
of another church in that part of the city, and not only 
consented, but promoted the new enterprise in a most 
substantial manner, so that Grace Church is spared the 
years of struggle for existence, and starts out with a 
$10,000 church and 107 members at the end of the first 
year. It was the year of the great revival at St. Paul's, 
during Dr. Creighton's pastorate. The pastor was as- 
sisted by J. S. Bitler, a successful evangelist. The pre- 
siding elder says in his report that year, "By the revival 
(at St. Paul's) the membership was carried up to 1,100, 
and the church became so packed with people that we 

422 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

have been compelled to plan for additional room. Lots 
were secured in East Lincoln, one and one-half miles 
from St. Paul's, and Grace Church, a $10,000 edifice, is 
being erected thereon." This is healthy expansion, and 
is a case where the hive became so full that the only relief 
was in "swarming," with gain both to the original hive 
and to the swarm that departs. 

The next report from the presiding elder, in speaking 
of Grace Charge, and of the dedication of the completed 
building by Bishop Warren, says : ''Her membership has 
continued to increase from the first by accessions from St. 
Paul's and by conversions, until she holds a fair rank in 
membership." The same report says of St. Paul's, not- 
withstanding she has given of her members and money 
to start Grace Church: "St. Paul's Church is still press- 
ing her work forward aggressively. She is a tower of 
strength to the cause of God in this city. We no longer 
attempt to count the converts. Each week, with rarest 
exceptions, brings its list of new recruits. Both the con- 
gregation and the Sunday-school tax the utmost capacity 
of the church. She responds generously to every call for 
either work or benevolence. In short, she is an inspira- 
tion to this city and State in every good work." "There 
is that scattereth and yet increaseth ; and there is that 
withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty," 
is a bit of inspired philosophy tliat applies to Church af- 
fairs as well as to individuals. 

St. Paul soon came to look upon Trinity and Grace, 
not as rivals, but as helpers in the proper care of the re- 
ligious interests of the city, and such indeed they have 
been as they have grown from year to year, in numbers, 
power and influence, and the whole structure of Lincoln 
Methodism has become a unit. 


I. J. A. Larkin. 2. JAS. Query. 3. P. B. Ruch. 4. J. M. Dressler. 5. A. G. 
Blackwell. 6. A. C. Butler. 7. P. W. Howe. 8. Geo. W. Hum- 
mel. 9. C. G. Rouse. 10. Geo. Worley. ii. L. H. String- 
field. 12. Robert Laing. 


4-24 History oi' Nebraska Methodism. 

Grace Church has been a success and power from the 
beginning. True, they have had some trouble the first 
year or two with their first pastor, T. Minehart, who, 
though a deeply pious and intellectual man, became fanat- 
ical, and so ill-balanced and perverse as to require the 
administration of discipline. He was tried at a prelim- 
inary hearing and suspended, and then at the Annual 
Conference, and expelled. 

Minehart's successors were J. H. Creighton, who sup- 
plied till Conference, after Minehart's suspension ; J. S. 
W. Dean, George W. Isham, C. M. Shepherd, L. T. 
Guild, R. N. Orrill, and P. P. Carroll, the present in- 
cumbent. The Church has made progress till the one 
hundred with which she started in 1886-87, has grown 
to 582. 

University Place, except in the matter of municipal 
government, which is wisely kept distinct in order to ex- 
clude saloons and other vicious institutions, is to all in- 
tents and purposes a part of Lincoln. The selection of 
that piece of raw prairie and farm land, in 1886, on 
which to locate the Nebraska Wesleyan University, has, 
besides the founding of a great educational institution, 
resulted in attracting enough people to University Place 
to make a town of nearly or quite 2,000 population, 
and the building up of a Church of over 800 members. 
Probably the growth, both of the town and of the Church, 
is without parallel in the State. The percentage of Chris- 
tian people is larger and the proportion of those that are 
Methodists is greater than in any other place in the State, 
and in these respects it has few, if any, equals in the na- 
tion. Evanston, Illinois, comes nearer to it than any 
other, but that soon attracted many from Chicago who 

History ot^ Nebraska Methodism. 425 

came to secure a suburban home, and there were soon 
many of other denominations. The Church has grown 
with the growth of the town, and is constantly fed by a 
revival spirit that pervades the Church at all times. 

D. L. Thomas, Asa Sleeth, W. B. Alexander, G. W. 
Abbott, J. J. Mailley, B. W. Marsh, and L. C. Lemon 
have served as pastors, and faithfully ministered to the 
spiritual needs of the people and the student body. L. 
C. Lemon is now on his fourth year. 

University Place appears in the Minutes for the first 
time in 1888, and is left to be supplied. It is then in- 
cluded among the Lincoln Churches and continued to be 
for some years. D. L. Thomas becomes the first pastor, 
serving till Conference as a supply, and was then returned. 
It starts out with one hundred and seven members and 
ten local preachers, a proportion of preachers which will 
be maintained throughout its history. In 1896 a $2,000 
parsonage was built, but the society, though steadily and 
at times rapidly increasing in numbers, has been content 
to use the College Chapel until two years ago. They 
have contributed largely to the payment of the debt on the 
Wesleyan, giving $5,000 for that purpose. But they have 
constructed the foundations for a fine large structure, 
roofed it over, and are using what will be the basement 
of a fine large church, and are resting financially. But 
they will doubtless soon construct the superstructure. 

The writer and his family have resided in University 
Place for nearly four years, and finds the Church the 
most spiritual he has ever known. Ordinary prayer and 
testimony meetings present at every service all the fea- 
tures of spiritual power seen in times of great revival in- 
terest. Two to four are on their feet at once, claiming 

426 ' History of Nebraska Methodism. 

the privilege of speaking for the Master. Revivals break 
out spontaneously at the ordinary services. It is doubt- 
ful if there is another coninumity and Church that sup- 
plies better moral and religious influences by which to 
constitute a wholesome environment for the students who 
attend than does University Place, and its Methodist 
Church of over 800 members. 

Besides St. Paul's, the mother church, and these three 
strong Churches of which mention has been made, there 
are others, some of which give fine promise of future 
strength. Emmanuel appears in the Minutes for the first 
time in 1888, and reports at the next Conference, sixty- 
nine members, and now has one hundred and forty-eight, 
with a church worth $2,000 and parsonage valued at $1,- 
000. Epworth Church first appears in the list of appoint- 
ments in 1890, and starts out with thirty-three members 
and now has seventy-four, with a church valued at $2,- 
000. It has one hundred and thiity-five teachers and 
scholars in the Sunday-school, which shows it has a field 
for work that has some promise, though the progress up 
to this time has not been all that was expected. 

Bethel was started in the southwest part of the town 
on the bottoms as early as 1887, and the old A Street 
Church moved over and fitted up for their use. The pre- 
siding elder reports for the year 1887-88 a great revival 
and the membership is reported as ninety-three, includ- 
ing forty-one probationers, but now there are only twelve. 
Asbury, another suburban venture, about the same time, 
starts with forty-one in 1889, and reported at the last 
Conference fourteen. 

The trouble with some of these suburban Churches is 
that they were started when the boom was at its zenith, 

History oi" Nebraska Methodism. 427 

and while the city as a whole, has held its own, or grown, 
these particular suburbs were boomed beyond all reason, 
and have felt the reaction more keenly, and have been 
losing ground. None have made the gain that was ex- 
pected, and several, after ten or twelve years of struggle, 
have a snialler membership than at the beginning. They 
are maintained as missionary posts in localities that would 
otherwise be destitute of the Gospel. 

Though St. Paul's has seen these other strong 
Churches grow up around her, she continues herself to 
grow and easily maintains her leadership. In 1880 her 
membership was 411, and the church was valued at $3,500 
and the parsonage at $2,500, Now she has 1,057, ^^^ 
about the figures attained at the time of the great revival 
under Bitler, the evangelist. In this period she has 
erected two fine church buildings, the first St. Paul's, 
erected at a cost of about $50,000, during ]\IcKaig's pas- 
torate, and which burned down in September, 1899, and 
under Dr. \\'harton"s administration, the second, and 
much larger one. This is without doubt the best ar- 
ranged building for church purposes in the West, and 
cost over $80,000. These results have been attained by a 
live, progressive membership, led by a succession of able 
pastors. It will be sufiicient to merely name them as they 
have come and gone during the last twenty-five years : 
A. C. Williams, R. N. McKaig, C. F. Creighton, A. Ma- 
rine, F. S. Stein, C. C. Lasby, W. R. Halstead, and the 
present pastor, F. L. \\'harton. These have all been 
special transfers, which means that the Church has as- 
serted its right to draw on the whole Church for the right 
man for pastor, and the appointing power has recognized 
that the Church is of such importance, with such a com- 

428 History of Nebraska MiiXiioDis:.^. 

manding position at the capital of the State, that the best 
man the entire Church can afford must be had if possible. 
St. Paul's has certainly had a succession of very able pas- 
tors, and some very spiritual, and all have achieved more 
or less success. 

Besides these efficient pastors, St. Paul's has been 
blessed from the first by an able corps of lay workers, 
men and women, chief among whom are Dr. B. L. Paine 
and Mrs. M. E. Roberts. Both these consecrated per- 
sons have a genius for religion and religious work. Dr. 
Paine seems equally at home conducting his own private 
business, which is extensive, or in the Quarterly Con- 
ferences and business meetings of the Church, or prayer- 
meeting, Sunday-school, Epworth League room or on oc- 
casion, can break away from his practice as a physician 
and hold successful revival-meetings, preaching as well 
as "practicing." He seems to have no trouble blending 
the secular and religious, his business being conducted on 
religious principles, and his religious life proceeding on 
business principles. He has been prominent in the Ep- 
worth League work, being at one time on the Board of 
Control, and has been twice elected lay delegate to the 
General Conference. 

Many other influential and faithful laymen have 
worked side by side with Dr. Paine, among them J. M. 
Burks. It may be said in passing, that from the first, 
nearly all the Churches of Lincoln have had a corps of lay 
workers that were both capable and willing to aid their 
pastors. Trinity Church has also had from the first a 
body of strong laymen who have co-operated with the 
pastors in many helpful ways. Among these are R. R. 
Randle, C. S. Sanderson, and many others. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 429 

Perhaps Grace Church may be said to have been spe- 
cially favored with such men as h. O. Jones, J. M. Stew- 
art. A. G. Greenlee, and Brother Furgeson. 

L. O. Jones is the presiding genius who, as president 
of the Nebraska Conference Epworth League Assembly, 
has organized one of the most successful assemblies in the 
Church, as will appear from statements made elsewhere. 

J. AI. Stewart, who has been for years the honored 
secretary of the Board of Trustees of Nebraska Wesleyan 
University, and an influential member of the Board. 

University Place is said to have the cream of the laity 
from many of the other Churches of the State, so that 
when she raises over $1,300 for missions, $700 for edu- 
cation, and enough more for the other connectional benev- 
olences to swell the whole amount to $3,000, or nearly 
twice as much for benevolence as for current expenses, 
other Churches say it is hardly fair that that Church's 
benevolence should be the standard for the others, which 
have been weakened, that she may be strong. The real 
strength of this Church can hardly be said to result from 
the pre-eminence of the few strong leaders, but from a 
high general average of unselfish devotion to the cause of 

If we survey Lincoln Methodism as a whole, we will 
find the progress has been marvelous during these last 
twenty-four years. Beginning it in 1880, with one society 
of 411 members, one church valued at $3,500, and one 
parsonage worth $2,500, it has increased till there are now 
ten, including University Place, with a total membership 
of 3'i73» and a total property valuation of $148,800, in- 
cluding two parsonages, valued at $3,000. 

Among the most useful local preachers we have had 


430 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

in Nebraska was P. W. Howe, for many years city mis- 
sionary in Lincoln, and chaplain of the penitentiary. Ho 
came to Lincoln about 1880, and soon exhibited qualities 
which in special manner equipped him for his career of 
great usefulness, caring for the unfortunate poor in the 
city and dealing with the criminals at the State prison. 
So pre-eminently was he fitted for both lines of work that 
by common consent of donors and beneficiaries, Father 
Howe was the man to receive their benefactions on the 
one hand, and the one the worthy poor could always count 
on for tactful help bestowed in a way that did not hurt. 

He semed to have a rare faculty for finding out who 
the really needy were, and was always on the lookout lor 
them. His shrewd knowledge of human nature made it 
difficult for any to impose on him. The business men 
came to prefer having Brother Howe distribute their 
charity than to do it themselves, assured that he would 
bestow wisely what they gave him. Thus he came to 
keep two lists (principally in his mind), those who needed 
something and the one who would supply that particular 
need. He rarely failed to be able to keep the supply 
equal to the need, even in times of most adverse condi- 
tions. Such was the confidence of many business and 
professional men that they virtually said to him, "Draw 
on us for whatever you need for your work." They were 
sure he would not abuse their confidence or fail to make 
the wisest use of their gifts. They would give him flour 
by the ton, and only P. W. Howe and the Lord and the 
person helped knew who got it. They did not want to 
know. It was enough to know that Father Howe was 
distributing it. 

He was not less adapted to the difiicult work of the 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 431 

chaplaincy of the penitentiary. This fitness became so 
well recognized that through all the changing political 
complexions of State administration, P. W. Howe was 
retained in that work. Only one governor ever seemed 
to have a moment's questioning about the matter, and 
that was J. E. Boyd, whose sympathies were Roman 
Catholic. He attempted to displace Howe wdth a Cath- 
olic priest, but there w'as such a storm of protest against 
it that lie reinstated him. 

Brother Howe could tell when he saw a convict com- 
ing in whether he was a confirmed crinTinal or had been 
led into crime on the impulse. While not neglecting the 
hardened criminal, he w^ould give special attention to the 
more promising cases. 

The writer had one of those cases come under his ob- 
servation. A mere boy, whose name I will omit, the son 
of respectable parents, got into a company of rough boys 
who robbed a store. Though my young friend would not 
share the spoil he was in bad company and all were sent 
to the State prison for a year. I went to see him, and 
when he came into the waiting-room of the penitentiary 
he said, "Mr. Marquette, you could hardly expect to find 
me in such a place as this. But it is all right. Father 
and mother had often warned me not to go with those 
boys, and I ought to have known better. I have no com- 
plaints against the State. The sentence was just. Be- 
sides, I am a better boy than I was before coming here. 
Chaplain Howe came to me at once and was so kind and 
persuasive that he has led me to the Savior and I w'ill go 
"forth a Christian." He was soon after pardoned by Gov- 
ernor Crounse, at the earnest request of his mother, 
backed by the recommendation of the trial judge, and is 

432 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

now leading an honorable, useful life. This is a fair 
sample of what Chaplain Howe was doing during the 
many years of his incumbency. 

He died recently at his home in Lincoln, and among 
the chief mourners were the rich whose benefactions he 
had so wisely distributed, and the poor whom he had so 
often befriended. 

The growth of the local Churches into more complete- 
ness of organization, larger equipment in the way of 
church buildings, and enlarged membership, has been go- 
ing on at a rapid rate throughout all the Conferences. 

In 1880 there were only two charges, Omaha and 
Lincoln, that had as many as two hundred members, 
and neither of these had five hundred. Now there are in 
the Nebraska Conference thirty-five that have over two 
hundred, and six that have over five hundred, and one 
with over a thousand. In the North Nebraska Confer- 
ence there are eighteen with over two hundred, and two 
with over five hundred. In the West Nebraska Confer- 
ence there are nine with over two hundred members, and 
in the Northwest Conference there are two. In the whole 
of Nebraska we now have one with one thousand, eight 
with over five hundred, and sixty-four with over two 
hundred, where we only had two in 1880. Assuming that 
a charge with two hundred members, or over, of average 
quality, is a strong Church, able easily to maintain itself, 
pay comfortable salaries, and make itself felt for good, 
the foregoing facts show that we have vastly multiplied 
our power in the last twenty-five years, throughout the 
entire State, by multiplying the number of strong, in- 
fluential Churches. 

It might seem well to mention all the Churches that 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 433 

have attained to strength according to this standard, but 
numbers are not always a correct measure of strength, 
and many of those with less membership are doing more 
for the Master than some of the larger Churches. Nor 
are numbers a test of merit, for the strength of the Church 
numerically at least, must depend somewhat on the size 
of the town and character of the population. It is easier 
to build up a strong Church of over eight hundred in a 
small place like University Place, with the character of 
the people they have there, than to build up a Church of 
similar size in a big city like Omaha, with its mixed popu- 
lation. But as the purpose of this comparison is to show 
a certain line of growth during the period, we will refer 
the reader to the Published Minutes for the names of 
the "strong Churches," and call on him to rejoice 
and be thankful for the fact that we are developing 
so many centers of great moral influence and spiritual 

An examination of the INIinutes will show that of 
these sixty-four strong Churches, numerically considered, 
only one or two are circuits. What does this mean? Is 
the Church discarding the circuit system, and thereby 
neglecting the rural districts, from which she and the 
State have heretofore drawn so much of their strength? 
Perhaps, but not necessarily. It may, and probably does 
mean that from several causes the Church finds it more 
and more difficult to maintain the circuit system in its 
old-time power and efficiency. 

First. The existing tendency of the population 
towards cities, towns, and villages, by which a much 
smaller percentage remains in the rural districts, leaves 
the Church no choice but to follow this population, and 

434 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

give relatively more attention to those places where the 
people are. 

Second, The need and demand for a resident pastor 
to oversee the various departments of the Church creates 
the tendency toward small stations, rather than large 

Third. The railroads have built so many lines 
through the State, and built up so many villages and 
towns that there are not very many people left who can 
not attend service m one of these towns, and many prefer 
the more frequent and regular services in the town, to 
the less frequent meeting in the country. 

Fourth. Hence some of the strong circuits that flour- 
ished during the first periods, like Mt. Pleasant and Belle- 
vue, have disappeared entirely from this cause. Before 
the time of railroads, Mt. Pleasant, at first under the 
name of Rock Bluffs, maintained her place for many 
years at the head of the column, with the largest mem- 
bership of any charge in the Conference. But the changed 
conditions have made this impossible. 

In this last period the Church found herself con- 
fronted with a condition, and whatever her theory might 
have been, she has but one duty, and that is to carry the 
Gospel to the people, wherever they are, in city, town, 
village, or on the farms. It is not her function to compel 
them to stay on the farms so she may keep up rural work 
and still maintain large circuits. 

But she still resorts to the circuit system, wherever 
needed, both in the country, and in uniting two or more 
villages or towns in circuits. But this has always been 
temporary, each town being ambitious to reach the point 
where it could be a station, and have the pastor live among 
them and give his entire time to that society. 

History oi^ Nebraska Methodism. 435 

And after all, may not this have some advantages over 
the old circuit system? The writer is of the opinion, 
formed after nearly forty years' experience as pastor on 
circuits and stations, and as presiding elder, that this is 
true. It gives the pastor a better chance to give pas- 
toral care and work the more complicated machinery up 
to its full capacity. 


FOURTH PERIOD. (1880-1904.) 


It would be wholly improper to close a history of Ne- 
braska Methodism without reference to these lines of 
work which are as much a part of ^Methodism as our 
English-speaking work. The only difference is that of 
language. It has been found best to carry on our won< 
among each of these peoples yet speaking a foreign lan- 
guage, by those speaking their own tongue, with separate 
charges, districts, and Conferences. 

Though over a year ago I requested competent repre- 
sentatives of these classes to furnish me a sketch of their 
history, with a single exception I have been unable to 
get any one to supply the necessary data to enable me to 
give much of the details of these different lines of work 
in our Church in Nebraska. That exception is Rev. 
Charles Harms, pastor of our German Church in Lincoln, 
who has kindly given me a brief account of our German 
work in Nebraska. 

It is greatly to the credit of our German brethren that 
their work began about the same time as the English- 
speaking work, the first sermon being preached by \\'il- 
liam Fiegenbaum, presiding elder of the Alissouri Dis- 
trict, under some trees in the southeast part of the State, 
as early as 1855. In 1856 C. F. Langer was appointed to 


History oi' Nebraska Methodism. 437 

Kansas and Nebraska Mission, embracing all their work 
in the two territories. John Hausam, Sr., becomes presid- 
ing elder of Missouri District and has the oversight of 
Kansas and Nebraska. 

From now on their work will proceed under condi- 
tions similar to the English work, with the same frontier 
hardships and privations we encountered, with these dif-. 
ferences : Their circuits are much larger than ours, em- 
bracing whole Territories, while we were content with a 
few counties. Th.eir districts sometimes included one 
State and two Territories and their Conferences were cor- 
respondingly comprehensive in the area included in their 
bounds. If our circuit-riders had long journeys to make 
between appointments, theirs had longer. If ours had 
sometimes to wait a long while before effecting an or- 
ganization, they waited stili longer. If our preachers 
found the soil hard and the people prejudiced agaipst us, 
their soil was perhaps still worse and the prejudices more 
intense, and the difficulties still greater. 

Brother Langer preaches his first sermon in a cabin 
near where Humboldt now stands. 

But Brother Harms tells the story so well I quote 
from his paper. Speaking of this first year and subse- 
quent work, he says : 

"But little seems to have been accomplished during 
1856 and 1857. One quarterly-meeting was held during 
this time, and that was in the Kansas territory. It seems 
that Rev. Langer had devoted most of his time and labor 
in the vicinity of Nebraska City, but did not succeed in 
organizing a society. A small class had been organized In 
the southeast corner of the State where the first sermon 
had been preached. 

438 History of" Nebraska Methodism. 

"In 1857 Nebraska City Mission was formed, with 
Rev. Jacob Feisel, presiding elder of Missouri District, 
and George Schatz, missionary of Nebraska Territory. 
Rev. Schatz made his headquarters at Nebraska City, but 
traveled over that part of the territory now known as 
Humboldt, Kramer, and Plattsmouth. One family from 
Missouri and two families from Ohio, who were mem- 
bers moved at this time to a point near Humboldt, where 
they settled and were then successful in organizing a class 

"In 1858 the Omaha Mission was organized and J. P. 
Miller appointed missionary. In i860 August Mecke 
was appointed his successor and a class was organized in 
the vicinity of Papillion. H. IMuehlenbrock was appointed 
to Nebraska City in i860 and remained until 1862, when 
H. C. Dreyer was appointed and labored faithfully up to 
1863, when Henry Meyer was made his successor and 
did all he could to advance the cause of Christ, remain- 
ing till the fall of 1864. 

"In i860 Table Rock, Salem, Humboldt, and Muddy 
were separated from Nebraska City and Justus Langer 
was appointed missionary. In 1862 H. Meyer succeeded 
him, and in 1863- 1865 C. Pothast followed, all of whom 
traveled over the then unsettled country of Clatonia 
Creek, Swan Creek, Meridian, Fairbury, and Turkey 
Creek, without success, leaving their families for weeks 
and months, before they could return home. In 1864 
German Conferences were organized and the first report 
was made to the Conference. Nebraska City Mission re- 
ported thirty-three full members and ten probationers. 
Of course this included all the little classes in the sur- 
rounding country. Omaha and its territory reported 

History of Nebraska ■Methodism. 439 

seventeen members and three probationers. Salem, in- 
cluding Table Rock, Humboldt, and the surrounding 
country, twenty-two members and twenty-six probation- 
ers. Total members, seventy-two; probationers, thirty- 
nine. Salem reported one parsonage, valued at $200 ; 
one Sunday-school with five teachers and seventeen 
scholars. Total collections for benevolent causes : For 
missions, $58.60; necessitous cases, $17.15; tracts, $4.20; 
Bible Cause, $7.50; Sunday-school Union, $2.35. These 
were the results of the first nine years of German ]\Ielh- 
odism in the State. The privations, burdens, and suffer- 
ings of preachers and members were great, but the 
achievements noble. At that Conference Bishop E. S. 
Janes presiding, Charles Heidel was appointed presiding 
elder of the newly formed St. Joseph District, comprising 
the entire Territories of Kansas and Nebraska. 

"During the period from i860 to 1868 there was but 
slow progress, mostly due to the lack of means and men. 
However, some advancement was made. Fields of labor 
were more conveniently adjusted and divided and some 
new appointments taken up. Henry jMeyer, who made 
his headquarters at Salem, Nebraska, 1864-65, began to 
preach at or near Swan Creek, about ten miles west of 
Svv'anton. C. Pothast continued to labor on this field, 
ji\ing at or near the place now called Humboldt, taking 
m Swan Creek, ^Meridian, and Fairbury, operating west- 
ward. In 1866, C. Steinmeyer was appointed, who lived 
at Muddy Creek, traveling over all the ground of four 
or five counties. In 1867 H. Muehlenbrock was appointed 
his successor up to 1870. In 1867 F. ]\Iiller was ap- 
pointed to Nebraska City Mission, including Hamburg, 
Iowa, and westward to Meridian, Nebraska, including 

440 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

some new appointments, such as Centerville and Clatonia. 
At Pekin, Illinois, in 1868, Bishop E. S. Janes made the 
following appointments : F. W. Meyer, presiding elder 
of St. Joseph District, comprising the Kansas and Ne- 
braska Territories, with the following missionaries : Ne- 
braska City and Linden, J. Hausam, Jr. ; Omaha City, P. 
J. May ; Lincoln City, F. H. Meyer ; Salem, H. Meuhlen- 
brock. Bear in mind that the above were names for sta- 
tions without organized societies, and the missionaries 
were to look after the Germans over the entire inhabited 
part of the territory. In 1868 the above four missions 
reported 142 members in all. In 1869, 204 members, an 
increase of sixty-two. 

'*At the seventh session of the Southwest German Con- 
ference at St. Charles, Missouri, in 1870, Bishop Simp- 
son presiding, H. Fiegenbaum was appointed presiding 
elder of St. Joseph District. This district had nineteen 
appointments, including the entire States of Kansas and 
Nebraska, with the following charges on the Nebraska 
part of the district: Nebraska City, Tecumseh, Lincoln, 
Omaha, and Meridian. Besides these it included Den- 
ver, Colorado. This was surely a notable extension for 
a district. 

"In 1872 the Conference met in Quincy, Illnois, Bishop 
Gilbert Haven presiding. Jacob Tanner was made pre- 
siding elder, his district embracing the entire State of 
Nebraska. York Center was taken in as an appointment. 
In 1873, Platte Valley, now Osceola, was taken up and 
C. W. Lauenstein appointed missionary, who labored 
. faithfully, pressed the work forward, and extended it, 
taking in Merrick and Howard Counties, now known as 
St. Paul and Eoelus. This was made an appointment in 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 441 

1875 with C. W. Lauenstein as the missionary. At thio 
time Lincohi and Centerville was made a charge and H. 
R. Riemer appointed as the missionary. In 1876 Elk- 
horn, now West Point, and Pebble Creek were taken up 
and C. W. Lauenstein appointed to take care of these 
points and extend the work. 

"In 1878 the West German Conference was organized 
at St. Joseph, Missouri, Bishop Harris presiding. At 
this time German Methodism had eleven charges with as 
many missionaries in Nebraska. 

"H. Fiegenbaum was appointed presiding elder. The 
district then numbered 604 members and 105 probation- 
ers ; thirteen churches, six parsonages, twenty-four Sun- 
day-schools, one hundred and eighty officers and teachers 
and 734 scholars. This was the result of twenty-two 
years of privations, hardships, and labor. 

"In 1879 C. Harms was appointed presiding elder of 
Nebraska District. At this time Papillion and Bell Creek 
were made a charge, and C. Lauenstein appointed their 
pastor. In 1880 Lincoln City was made a mission and 
J. G. Kost appointed to this charge. At the same time 
Oxford, in Furnas County, with adjoining counties, were 
formed into a mission, and W. C. Kellner appointed mis- 
sionary. In 1881 at the third annual session of the West 
German Conference, held at Oregon, Missouri, Bishop 
R. S. Foster presiding, C. W. Lauenstein was appointed 
missionary to the northwestern part of Nebraska, giving 
him an unlimited territory to work, looking after the 
Germans and fixing stations and appointments, to preach 
and organize societies wherever he found it practicable. 
He made his home for his family at Norfolk, for he him- 
self could onlv come home once in a while on a visit. 

44-2 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Neligh, St. James, St. Peters, Weigand, Hainesville, Nio- 
brara, O'Neill, Ray, Stuart, Plum Valley, Bow Valley. 
Ballentins, Halifax, Albion, Oakdale, along the Ray Val- 
ley, and westward as far as Arabia, Woodlake, and Ains- 
worth, all of this territory was canvassed. In spite of 
all the privations, hardships, and hard labor this proved 
to be the most satisfactory and blessed work during his 
entire ministry. 

"In 1882 McCook and Beaver Creek were made a mis- 
sion with W. C. Kellner as the missionary. Custer, Val- 
ley, Holt, and Knox Counties were given considerable 
attention, but owing to the lack of mien and means were 
not regularly cared for. 

"In 1883 a mission was formed at Stuart, with the ad- 
joining counties, and Charles Werner was appointed 
there, and H. C. Ihne was put in charge of the newly 
formed circuit now called Sterling. Valentine was made 
a mission during this time. 

"In 1884 F. H. Wippermann was stationed at Custer 
and Broken Bow. In 1885 the work was taken up at 
Courtland and Beatrice by Gustav Becker-, Custer, Fron- 
tier, and Ash Creek, Gordon, and Rushville, Greeley and 
Wheeler, Niobrara, Scottsville were supplied. In 1886. 
at the eighth annual session of the West German Con- 
ference, held at Kansas City, Kansas, Bishop J. M. Wai- 
den presiding, two districts were. made and Jacob Tan- 
ner was appointed presiding elder of Nebraska District 
and H. Bruns presiding elder of North Nebraska Dis- 
trict, Platte River to be the dividing line. Big Springs, 
Hemmingford, and Hebron were made appointments, 
and in 1887 Colby, with C. Falter, missionary, was added 
to the list. 

History of Nebraska Methodism, 443 

"Slow but steady has been the growth of German 
Methodism, so that in 1890 there were twenty-nine ap- 
pointments with but twenty-six regular Conference mem- 
bers (preachers) to take care of them. These twenty-nine 
appointments, consisting of 1,633 members and 206 pro- 
bationers, contributed $1,386, or about eighty-five cents 
per member, to missions. Sunday-schools, fifty-two ; 
officers and teachers, 466; scholars, 2,059. ^11 collec- 
tions were taken and people contributed as they were able. 

"During the last ten years German Methodism has 
been nearly at a standstill, owing to light immigration 
from Europe, and many of our younger people having 
moved westward into Oklahoma, Washington, Idaho, 
Dakota, and also into localities where there are no Ger- 
man Churches, and others on account of the language 
have united with our English Churches. In 1900 Ger- 
man ]\Iethodism numbered fifty-two churches, thirty- 
three parsonages, fifty-three Sunday-schools, 577 officers 
and teachers, 2,178 members, and 175 probationers. 

"During the period of ten years, 1890- 1900, passing 
through drought and failures, German Methodism kept 
up its collections to the usual standard. For instance, 
for mission, $18,055 was given, being an average of over 
eighty-five cents per member. 

"In 1903 the collections for missions was over $1.15 
per member, being a little more than during 1901 and 
1902. On Nebraska soil are twenty-nine charges and as 
many faithful workers employed to press forward on the 
line. Since 1890. H. Bruns, P. C. Schramm, and Ed- 
ward Sallenbach were filling the office of presiding elder 
in the order named, on the North Nebraska District, and 
J. Tanner, Edward Sallenbach, and G. J. Leist were do- 

444 History o:f Nebraska Methodism. 

ing district work on the Nebraska District, officiating in 
this capacity at the following points : Beatrice, Center- 
ville, and Highland, Clatonia, Cortland, Culbertson, 
Humboldt, Jansen and Gilead, Kramer and Hallam, Lin- 
coln, Macon and Oxford, and Sterling. 

"J. G. Leist, presiding elder of North Nebraska Dis- 
trict, has charge of Arlington, Berlin, Boelns, Duncan 
and Columbus, Eustis, Friend, Grand Island and Palmer, 
Hampton, Kalamazoo and Fair View, Omaha, Osceola, 
Papillion and Portal, Rushville, South Omaha and Platts- 
mouth, Waco and Seward, West Point and Scribner, 
Western and Swanton. Humboldt was the first self- ■ 
supporting charge, in 1869. The first German camp- 
meeting was held June, 1868, near Centerville, in Charles 
Krolls's grove. The first district meeting was held at 
Clatonia in June, 1875." 

Our German brethren closed their first half-century 
with a membership of 1,788 and ninety-nine probation- 
ers, forty-two- churches, valued at $74,100, and twenty- 
seven parsonages, valued at $33,100, and contributed for 
missions in 1903 the sum of $2,199, being an average of 
$1.23 per member. 


As early as 1871 an effort was made to establish a 
mission and start the work. The first man appointed 
failed to come, and of the second, A. G. White speaks 
thus in his report to the Conference of 1872 : 

"At the request of Bishop Ames, I applied to Rev. 
S. B. Newman, presiding elder of the Swede Mission 
District, Illinois Conference, for another man, and he 
recommended Peter Lindquist, a local preacher of Chi- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 445 

cago. Brotlier Lindquist reported to me about the first 
of October, 1871, and was assigned to the mission, with 
the agreement that lie should receive but $150 of the mis- 
sion fund for the remainder of the Conference year.* 
Brother Lindquist has labored incessantly among his peo- 
ple, traveling and preaching in four presiding elder's dis- 
tricts, and he has organized societies in all these districts. 
The Scandinavians in the State number 10,000; they are 
generally irreligious, but moral and industrious. They 
are widely scattered, like sheep without a shepherd, but 
eager to receive any one who cares for their souls and 
who can impart religious instruction in their own lan- 
guage. There is a pressing demand upon our Church 
for more men and more money for this work." 

The next year Arthur Smith is appointed to assist 
Peter L.indquist in prosecutmg the work, but the presid- 
ing elder speaks less hopefully in his next report: "They 
have traveled extensively and labored faithfully, but little 
has been accomplished. And m my judgment the results 
of the experiment do not justify a continuance of the 
mission. It appears unwise to perpetuate the language 
and customs of nationalities among us, and I am 
not prepared to ask for an appropriation of mission funds 
for this purpose." 

Nothing more seems to have been done until 1877 
when John Linn began work in Oakland. Since then 
the work has grown until we have prosperous charges In 
Omaha, Lincoln, Oakland, and several other places in 
the State. The latest statistics we have are for 1902, at 
which time there were 1,090 full members and twenty 

*The Conference then met in the spring. 

446 History of Nebraska Methodism, 

We would be glad to trace more fully the history of 
this work, as we doubt not it presents the same features 
that the English and the German work have presented. 
If there has been any difference it has been in the di- 
rection of larger circuits and larger districts than that 
which has been required in our German work. We may 
safely say that the toils anil hardships and difficulties 
have not been any less and the faith and 'devotion and 
heroism of the workers must have been equally great. 


This did not begin until 1880, and there being but 
very few of that people in the State, only two charges 
have been formed, one at Fontenelle and one at Omaha. 
The former has thirty and the latter sixty-live, including 


FOURTH PERIOD. (1880-1904.) 

As WE have watched this great organization of Ne- 
braska Methodism grow, it has seemed more Hke an or- 
ganism with its principle of spiritual life building itself up 
into maturity and completeness, power and influence, very 
much after the law of development of the individual, 
with the periods of infancy and youth, when little is re- 
quired or expected except growth. But growth brings 
ever-increasing power and larger range of action. It 
has been developing its organs, increasing their func- 
tions, and ever-broadening the range of its activity and 
the extent of its relations. 

At the beginning it must receive help rather than give 
help. Hence for a number of years there were but few 
benevolent collections taken, while the amount of mis- 
sionary money received was relatively greater, as we have 
seen, than at subsequent periods when the need was even 
more urgent. 

The only subordinate organizations were the class and 
Sunday-school, and the class-meeting and prayer-meet- 
ing, and the preaching service had regard more for the 
maintenance of the life of the infant Church than for 
any activities looking to helping outside of itself. 

But a religious organism, with as vigorous a type of 
spiritual life as that possessed by Methodism could not 
help but grow into conditions of greater strength and in- 
creasing responsibility, and ever-broadening range of ac- 


448 History of Nebraska Methodism, 

tivity. She will be expected to increase the range of her 
own inner activities, looking to the care of her young 
people, by improved methods in Sunday-school work, 
and the organization of the young people into societies 
specially adapted to their development along the line of 
spiritual life, moral restraint, and more efficient service 
for the Master. 

She will be expected to take a more intelligent view 
of the needs of the great world outside of the narrow 
circle of her own existence, and to come in touch with 
the great movements in our own country, such as the 
Church Extension, Freedmen's Aid, in its efforts to help 
up a race; the Woman's Home Missionary Society, with 
its varied benevolent enterprises, like our Mothers' Jewels 
Home, and the beneficent deaconess movement. Then 
she must keep in touch with the great world movements, 
as represented by our Missionary Society, and the sister 
organization, the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society. 

She will be expected to lend a helping hand in moral 
reforms, and especially see that her great influence be 
unmistakably on the side of temperance and against the 

As we enter upon this fourth and final period we are 
inspired, both by the achievements of the past and the 
prospects of the future. The quarter of a century just 
past, from 1854 to 1880, has been an eventful one. Most 
of it has been characterized by storms in the political 
world and disasters in the industrial world. There has 
been an almost constant struggle against great difficulties 
of various kinds. The periods of peace and prosperity 
and other favorable conditions have been brief and few 
and far between. The strength of the Church is to be 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 449 

measured as much by the obstacles overcome as the 
achievements wrought ; judged by either standard, she 
has stood the test. If there have been battles, there have 
also been victories. If there have been difificulties, they 
have been met and overcome. If there have been hard- 
ships, they have been patiently borne. If the work has 
demanded sacrifices, they have not been withheld. 

Though the obstacles at times have seemed almost 
insurmountable, there has been no period during which 
some progress has not been made, and at some periods 
great progress. 

As we look back from the summit of the year 1880, 
and view the twenty-five years over which the Church 
has passed in her work of planting Christianity in Ne- 
braska, it may be said that, with the exception of "bleed- 
ing Kansas," no section of the Lord's vineyard, and no 
quarter of a century of time, have presented greater difti- 
culties, involved more hardships, or called for more real 
heroism, in all the history of the frontier work of the 
Church, than did Nebraska during this period. 

The fourth period, on which we are entering, will 
present some marked contrasts with the preceding ones. 
The prevailing conditions will be far more favorable, the 
opportunities in some directions greater and the respon- 
sibilities correspondingly increased. Methodism will 
again be tested. She has shown that she can meet ad- 
versity and triumph in spite of it. How will she stand 
prosperity ; will she come to trust in her own acquired 
strength, and cease to keep close to God, and trust only 
in Him? It has often occurred in the history of the 
Church that when the life and power of Christianity has 
built up a great institution, with machinery complete for 

450 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

the further carrying out of the purpose of this living prin- 
ciple, the institution has ceased to be the means through 
which the life and power is to accomplish its purposes in 
saving souls and building them up into high-grade men 
and women, and has itself become the end to the main- 
tenance of which the energies of the Church are directed. 
Will history repeat itself? We shall see. 

The keynote in this period, as in the one just preced- 
ing, is still expansion, but it is largely expansion of an- 
other kind. Before, the expansion has been territorial, 
with some traces of the beginnings of the expansion of 
the range of the Church activities along new lines. As 
early as 1869, the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society 
had been organized and auxiliaries were formed in some 
of the Churches in the sixties. But there was still a lin- 
gering doubt as to the need of this new society, and the 
zealous women found scanty welcome by not a few pas- 
tors. Even some of the officials of the parent Mission- 
ary Society looked askance at the interloper, fearing it 
would cut in on receipts. True, to prevent this, the 
women were prohibited taking any public collection. Not- 
withstanding this handicap, they sometimes reported 
more for the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society than 
the pastor did for the parent society. 

There were not many auxiliaries formed until late in 
the seventies, when the sainted Mary Ninde visited the 
State and organized some societies. Mrs. Angle F. 
Newman was also active during these years in promot- 
ing the interests of this society, and Avas very successful 
in extending the range of its influence and its hold upon 
the people, so that in 1879, when Mrs. M. J. Shelley, of 
Tecumseh, was elected secretary for the Nebraska Con- 

Mrs. M. J. Shel- 


For many years organ- 
izer for Nebraska, 
and Treasurer 
of Topeka 

Miss Rebecca 

Missionary to Japan. 


jm-' vC 

MissUrdell Mont- 

Principal of Baldwin 
High School for 
girls, Banga- 
lore, India. 

Miss Matilda 

Corresponding Secre- 
tary, Topeka 

Miss Louisa Im- 

Missionary to Japan. 



452 History oi^ Nebraska Methodism. 

ference, the young society had demonstrated its vitality 
and vindicated its right to be by effective work in rais- 
ing money and supporting missionaries in the foreign 
field. And it was found that instead of curtailing the re- 
ceipts of the parent society, it was materially aiding it by 
disseminating missionary information and stimulating the 
Church to unselfish giving. 

Mrs. Shelley entered upon her work with enthusiasm 
and prosecuted it with vigor, going not only to the places 
accessible by railroad, but traveling many hundreds of 
miles in her own private conveyance, thus reaching many 
points away from the railroads. In 1883 the society had 
become so well established throughout the Western 
States that the Topeka Branch was organized, and Mrs. 
Shelley was elected to the responsible place of branch 
treasurer, a promotion she had well earned. 

For sixteen years Miss Matilda Watson, of Lincoln, 
Nebraska, the daughter of a Methodist preacher, has 
been the efficient corresponding secretary of the Topeka 
Branch, which includes the States of Nebraska, Kansas, 
Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Mrs. Ida Moe, of Fre- 
mont, Nebraska, the daughter of E. H. Rogers, has been 
for many years the Conference secretary for North Ne- 
braska Conference, rendering valuable service. 

This is the only society in our Church, the work of 
which lies wholly in the foreign field, and may therefore 
be said to be the one whose work represents disinterested 
benevolence more nearly than any other. 

That its great work in the foreign field is coming to 
Se highly appreciated is evident from the words of un- 
stinted praise by Bishop Moore, in China, and all oar 
bishops that have visited China and India. Perhaps 

Rev. E. R. Fulker- 


Principal of the Chingci 

Seminary, Nagasaki, 



Rev. James H. 


Missionary to China. 







Mrs. George S. 

Missionary to China. 



Rev. Stephen A. 

In charge of publishing 

interests at Seoul, 




Rev. George S. 

Missionary to China, 



454 History of Ne;braska Methodism. 

there could be no more competent witness as to the high 
character of their work than Bishop Warne, the greater 
part of whose ministerial life has been spent in India. In 
an interview in the Christian Advocate for March 24. 
1904, in answer to an inquiry concerning the work of 
this society, he pays this well-deserved tribute both to 
the noble women who manage the Woman's Foreign Mis- 
sionary Society at home and their missionaries in the field : 

"Our Woman's Foreign Missionary Society has some 
of the choicest spirits of the nation in India. Not only 
that, but I suppose it is not generally known that the 
women have sent more money to India each year of the 
quadrennium than the parent society has sent. Because 
of this the women are able in some places to educate their 
girls where we are not the boys, until it is difficult to find 
husbands for the girls who are at all their equals. When 
one remembers that women have been illiterate through 
the centuries in India, and now compares that with a 
state of affairs in the Christian Church where the women 
are better educated than the men, it is surely true 'these 
that have turned the world upside down are come hither 
also.' One often wonders whether the women who go to 
the field or the women who remain at home, and without 
salary give time and thought to raising the necessary 
funds to carry on the work, are the most worthy ; and 
when one remembers the restrictions that have been put 
upon the women in raising the money, it seems still more 
wonderful. May we all catch the spirit of the Woman's 
Foreign Missionary Society workers, and may they in- 
crease and grow mightily, is the prayer of all Indian 
workers !" 

It is a happy coincidence that in 1880, when Nebraska 

Rev. Peter Van 

Missionary to Porto 

Mrs. Eva Van 

Missionary to Porto 

Rev. E. E. Wilson, 

Missionary to Porto 

Rev. Leslie 

Superintendent of Mis- 
sions in Central 


Rev. J. R. Gortner, 
Missionary to Africa. 

Mrs. I<ouisa Col- 

Prominent worker in 
W. H. M. S. 



456 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Methodism was girding herself for an advance, the 
Woman's Home Missionary Society had its birth and 
would soon become a potent factor in the larger work of 
the Church, and often make life more comfortable for 
the itinerant and his wife and children. Up to that time, 
except in times of special calamity, the missionary on the 
frontier was never relieved and gladdened by the receipt 
of a barrel or box of supplies to supplement his meager 
salary. But from now on, thanks to this noble society, 
this is to be a common experience. 

And when a time of special need, came, by reason of 
the drouth in 1894, the writer, who was then presiding 
elder of the Neligh District, in the North Nebraska Con- 
ference, the one which suffered most, this blessed society 
only needed to be notified of the situation and they at 
once started the streams of beneficence which were the 
first to reach the scene of destitution, and enabled our 
pastors to relieve the suffering, not only of our own peo- 
ple, but of Congregationalists, Baptists, Catholics, non- 
Church members, and even infidels shared the bounty 
supplied by the Department of Supplies of the Woman's 
Home Missionary Society. Boxes and barrels came from 
New England, North and South Carolina, the States of 
the Middle West, and from the Pacific Coast, and not a 
little cash as well. The elder and his wife gave up half 
of their house as a supply depot, and they, and nearly all 
the pastors were kept busy distributing this beneficence. 

What was done for the Neligh District in 1894 is but 
a type of what this society is doing all the time for all the 
Nebraska and other Western Conferences. In 1888 the 
West Nebraska Conference resolved that "we are grate- 
ful to the Woman's Home Missionary Society for its aid. 

History of Nebraska Methodism, 457 

Many pastors would have been compelled to leave their 
fields of labor, had it not been for this band of noble, 
Christian women." 

Still earlier, in 1884, Dr. Lemon, in his report, says: 
"The Woman's Home Missionary Society has done a 
grand work in helping by sending clothing to the preach- 
ers and their famiUes, and others in our mission field. 
This has long been a felt necessity and is doing good."' 

But the beneficence of this society is not confined to 
sending supplies to the missionaries on the frontier, but 
has taken on a multiplicity of forms, and extends from 
Porto Rico to Alaska. It has established what to Ne- 
braska Methodism is doubtless its most important in- 
stitution, its National Mothers' Jewels Home at York. 
This will be spoken of on another page. 

Doubtless the most prominent among the good women 
who have extended the organization of this society within 
the bounds of Nebraska is Mrs. M. E. Roberts, who has 
for years been national organizer. Others, like Mrs. 
Louisa Collins, in West Nebraska Conference ; Mrs. J. 
B. Maxfield, Mrs. John Crews, Mrs. J. B. Leedom, Airs. 
D. C. Winship, and others of the North Nebraska Con- 
ference, that might be mentioned, have in various ways 
rendered valuable service in this connection. 

But probably the most urgent need of Nebraska Meth- 
odism at the beginning of this fourth period was more 
church buildings in which to house the multitudes tliat 
had come into our fold by immigration and conversions. 
The number of circuits and stations have increased to 
136. But we must remember that we are still in the 
period when the stations are yet few, and the circuit 
system yet prevails to a large extent. It is not uncommon 

458 History of Nebraska Me;thodism. 

for these circuits to have from four to eight appointments, 
and some of the presiding elders report circuits with ten 
and even fifteen appointments. It would be safe to say 
that at about that time the average circuit had not less 
than four separate appointments, and that the general 
average, including stations and circuits could not have 
been less than three appointments for each charge-. But 
lest we overstate the facts in this case we will make the 
general average two. This would give us two hundred 
and seventy-two separate Methodist societies to be 
housed, while the total number of churches in 1880 was 
only seventy-seven. This leaves one hundred and ninety- 
five unhoused societies and congregations. In other 
words, over two-thirds of the societies are entirely with- 
out shelter, except as pensioners on the State for school- 
houses, and on other denominations occasionally for a 

Besides these two hundred societies and congrega- 
tions for which the Church has not as yet been able to 
furnish any shelter, there are many of the older societies 
that. have outgrown the small buildings they first erected 
and must have larger ones. Probably two-thirds of 
those which already have churches will have to build new 
ones in the next ten years. 

Thus in 1880 Nebraska Methodism is far behind in 
her church buildings. Many of her congregations are un- 
housed, or are still in the school-house stage of develop- 
ment. This is better than no place, but can not be per- 

The conditions we have seen have been such since 
this need for churches began to be urgent by reason of 

History of Nebraska ]Methodism. 


the marvelous growth of the last decade, that many pro- 
jected enterprises have had to be abandoned, and few 
churches have been built. Indeed throughout the entire 
State during the whole quarter of a century there has 
been no time that has been favorable to church-building. 
Besides, the Church Extension Society has been in 

First Methodist Church Built in Nebraska, at Nebraska 

City, 1855-6. 

effective operation but a few years, and has not been 
able to do as much as it will in the next quarter of a cen- 
tury. Happily, just as Nebraska Methodism emerges 
from under the disastrous financial conditions that have 
made much church-building an impossibility in the past, 
there emerges upon the scene of action, a Chaplain Mc- 
Cabe, in whose fertile brain and large, warm heart so 

46o History of Nebraska Methodism. 

many forward movements have been born, and about this 
time he starts that prolific source of helpfuhiess for Ne- 
braska and the entire West, known as the Frontier Fund. 
This has wonderfully stimulated church-building. 

An incident in the early history of the Wayne Church 
illustrates the difficulties pastors and presiding elders 
have had of inspiring the discouraged band with enough 
confidence to induce them to try, even after the need of 
a church had become most urgent. The only thing in 
the way of rapid advance and permanent hold at Wayne 
was a church. Strange to say, the Presbyterian, Luth- 
eran, and Baptist had all got ahead of us, and we were 
pensioners on the bounty of the Baptists for a place to 
worship. But the very fact that these three had already 
been built made our people feel that it was impossible 
to build another. 

This was the situation in 1884, when the pastor, H. G. 
Pittenger, sent for the writer, then presiding elder, to 
attend a meeting called for the purpose of considering the 
advisability of erecting a place of worship. The voice of 
nearly all the brethren was against the project, deeming 
it impossible., Things seemed to be going the wrong 
way, and the pastor, whose heart was set on having a 
church, was weeping, when good Sister Wm. Miller rose 
and spoke as follows : "You brethren say we can't buiid 
a church. I say we must." And with the tears stream- 
ing down her cheeks she continued, "You know my 
health is poor and we live a mile from town, and hoped 
we might this year have a more comfortable conveyance 
than a lumber wagon. But I will continue to ride in 
the old lumber wagon, and put that $100 in a church." 
And then when I told them that the Church Extension 

First Church Built in Lincoln, Nebraska, iS68. Size, 25x40. 
Seating Capacity, 2cx). 

Present St. Paul's Church, Lincoln, Nebraska. 
Size, 142x150. Skating Capacity, 2,300. 
10 461 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 

would give them $250 and loan them $250, they took 
courage and soon had a subscription of $1,000, and soon 
after this had a $2,000 church. 

This case at Wayne is mentioned as typical of a great 
many. Perhaps no part of our work has represented 
more of faith and the spirit of self-sacrifice than in the 

Sod Methodist Church Built in Tyrone, Red Willow County, 

IN 1886. A Type of Many of the First Churches 

Erected in Nebraska. 

building of these first churches. How many of these 
have been built, not because from a business standpoint, 
the prudent man of the world could say it was practica- 
ble or even possible, but because some self-sacrificing 
Mrs. Miller has said it must be done. Perhaps in no 
field have so many seeming impossibilities become real- 
ities. There were evidently at work in this phase of our 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 


church Ufe moral and spiritual forces that the cool, cal- 
culating business man wot not of. When we had organ- 
ized at Stanton the second time, in 1883, the need of a 
church seemed miperative. and as presiding elder, I was 
urging them to build, but was met with doubts as to their 
ability. John A. Ehrhardt, who knew every one in the 
community, undertook to show me that $600 was the 
utmost that could be raised. I said to him, "Raise that 
and we will build a church." The point in this, as in 
many such cases, was to get the people to venture. When 
they started with their subscription paper, they soon had 
over $1,000 pledged, and ere long they had an excellent 

These scenes witnessed at Wayne and Stanton, with 
slight variation of detail, but always arising from the 
same cause, love for the Master, and faith in God, are 
transpiring in every section of the State, and Nebraska 
Methodism enters upon a church-building era. 

The Church enters upon this last period with seventy- 
seven churches valued at $147,000, and sixty-one par- 
sonages valued at $41,266. We now have by Confer- 
ences : 

Conferences. Churches. Value. Parsonages. Value. 

Nebraska, 241 $748,250 124 $133,805 

North Nebraska, 167 564,005 104 123,580 

West Nebraska, 134 233,750 68 55,190 

Northwest Nebraska 32 46,950 25 17,950 

Total, 574 $1,592,955 321 1330,525 

Thus ]\Iethodism has built seven times as many 
churches this last twenty-three years as she did during 
the first quarter of a century. Counting those that take 
the place of the old ones, she has built nearly two a 

464 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

month, and has laid upon the altar for that purpose over 
$1,500 a week, or $250 a day. 

Not only have the churches built during the last period 
been much more numerous, but with the help of the 
Church Extension Board she has been able to build bet- 
ter churches. 


FOURTH PERIOD. (1880-1904.) 


It is characteristic of the spirit of Methodism that 
among the first things the Church thought of and planned 
for was a great Christian institution to be called "Simp- 
son University," to be located in the city of Omaha. 
During the first session of the Nebraska Territorial Leg- 
islature, in the winter of 1855, the following charter was 
procured : 


To incorporate Simpson University. 

Section i. Be it enacted by the Council and House 
of Representatives of the Territory of Nebraska, that 
Rev. W. H. Goode, J. H. Hopkins, W. D. Gage, Charles 
Elliott, Moses F. Shinn, Thomas Benton, Jr., O. B. Sel- 
den, John B. Robinson, Mark W. Izzard, Thomas B. 
Cuming, Charles B. Smith, W. N. Byers, and J. P. Buck- 
ingham, with their associates and successors, be, and are 
hereby erected a body politic and corporate, by the name 
and style of Simpson University, at Omaha, Nebraska. 
For the present the aforesaid individuals shall constitute 
a Board of Trustees. 

Sec. 2. The object of said corporation shall be the 
promotion of the general interests of education, and to 
qualify students to engage in the several pursuits and 
30 465 

466 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

employments of society, and to discharge honorably and 
usefully the various duties of life. 

That this action was taken prior to the organization 
of the Church in Omaha or anywhere else in the Terri- 
tory, as is probable, and before a single church or par- 
sonage building had been erected, and when there were 
not to exceed 300 members in the entire Territory of Ne- 
braska, is creditable as indicating the interest the Church 
always took in the work of Christian education. And 
that this enterprise was not merely local, is shown by 
the following report which was adopted at the first ses- 
sion of the Kansas and Nebraska Conference, in October, 


Your Committee to whom was referred the subject of 
education in this Conference, have had the same under 
consideration, and beg leave to present the following as 
their report : 

We are gratified in being able to present to this Con- 
ference the fact that our brethren in Nebraska Territory 
have taken such initiatory steps as to secure the passage 
of an act of incorporation for the "Simpson University," 
located at or near Omaha City, the capital of Nebraska 
Territory, and that the trustees of said institution have 
been presented with the generous donation of fifty acres 
of ground, from Rev. Moses F. Shinn, of the Iowa An- 
nual Conference, now residing in Omaha, and twenty- 
five acres more, from Hon. T. B. Cuming, secretary of 
the Territory of Nebraska, lying adjacent to the town 
plat of Omaha City, now worth not less than one hundred 
dollars per acre, as the permanent site of the university, 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 467 

and for university purposes ; and the title to the same 
will be confirmed to the said Board of Trustees for that 
object; therefore, 

Resolved, First, That each presiding elder be re- 
quested and is hereby instructed and authorized by this 
Conference, to give especial attention to the subject of 
education, and where lands and tenements can be se- 
cured by donation for educational purposes they take 
such measures as may be necessary to secure, in fee sim- 
ple, such lands for sites of seminaries or universities, and 
their building and endowment by legislative action and 

Second. That as a Conference we will co-operate 
with the Board of Trustees of Simpson University as far 
as practicable in their efforts to establish and sustain a 
first-class university at Omaha City, Nebraska Territory, 
by our patronage and otherwise. 

I. F. Collins, Chairman. 

Defective titles and consequent litigation defeated this 
first enterprise. 

Another enterprise was projected in 1857 at Oreapo- 
lis, just south of the Platte, and near its mouth. Besides 
the mdorsement of the Conference, Oreapolis Seminary 
had the backing of some of the wisest and strongest men 
of Methodism outside the Territory, among them Pro- 
fessor George Loomis, a leading educator, and Hon. John 
Evans, who had already borne a conspicuous part in the 
founding of Evanston, Illinois, which was named after 
him, and the establishment of the great Northwestern 
University at that place, and who was afterward Gov- 
ernor of Colorado, and contributed largely to the found- 

468 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

ing of Denver University. Even Dr. John Dempster, first 
president of Garrett Biblical School, proposed to become 
responsible for a theological school as a department if 
ten students could be found. But these men themselves 
soon saw that the enterprise was premature and with- 
drew, and soon after, the Conference withdrawing its 
support, the school was abandoned. 

Though this second effort proved abortive, the Con- 
ference still maintained the receptive mood assumed as 
we have seen at the first session of their Conference, with 
standing instructions to pastors and presiding elders to 
be on the lookout for opportunities to locate an institu- 
tion of learning. And if propositions from ambitious 
towns inviting the Church to locate its educational institu- 
tion in their community could be regarded as opportuni- 
ties, there were many such in the first twenty-five years 
of her history. But in almost every case this very ambi- 
tion defeated the project by insisting that the institution 
should be a university or, at the very least, a college. 

A typical case of this kind was the proposition from 
Peru, under the leadership of Rev. H. Burch, the pastor, 
backed by the Church and the leading citizens of the 
place. A generous offer was made on condition that the 
Church would establish a school of college grade. This 
the Conference refused to do deeming such an under- 
taking premature and unwise, but offered to accept the 
proposition on the basis of an institution of seminary 
grade. But as the subscriptions of the people of Peru 
had been made on the basis of a college, the citizens de- 
clined the Conference proposal and offered their bonus 
to the State for the establishment of a normal school, 
and it was accepted. 

HisTORv OF Nebraska ]\Iethodism. 


There are few places of any importance in the eastern 
portion of the State which did not during the first twen- 
ty-five years make a definite proposition of some kind, 
or were in some way considered in relation to the loca- 
tion of a school. ]Many private enterprises were begun 
by Methodist ministers or laymen, and these were con- 
stantly knocking at the door of the Conference for adop- 
tion as Conference schools, or at 
least some kind of recognition. 
Among these private enterprises may 
be mentioned the Nemaha Collegiate 
Institute, by Professor J. M. Mc- 
Kenzie, who afterward served the 
State as State Superintendent of In- 
struction, and the Church in connec- 
tion with York College; a seminary 
at Nebraska City, by Rev. P. T. Ken- 
ney ; at Factoryville, on the Weep- 
ing Water, by Mrs. Nichols ; at Fre- 
mont, by Rev. IMcndenhall ; at Os- 
ceola, Rev. J. J. Fleharty established 
Nebraska Weslevan University, 
which, on the location of the seminary at York, he re- 
moved to Fullerton. Having failed to secure adoption 
by the Nebraska Conference, he still hoped he might 
find favor with the North Nebraska Conference, but in 
this he also failed, and the Fullerton school was aban- 
doned when the Central City School was established. 

Thus there was scarcely a session of the Conference 
that this matter of the duty of the Church to establish a 
school of some kind was not considered. In 1870, in 
order evidently immediately to affect something along 

Professor J. M. 

First Principal of State 
Normal School, and 
second State Super- 
intendent of Public 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 

this line the following action was taken : "That a com- 
mittee of six members be appointed to receive applica- 
tions for the location of one or two schools, to be under 
the control and patronage of the Conference, but for 
which no financial responsibility shall be assumed, said 
committee to report at the State Convention" (which had 
been provided for). Not being ready to report at the 

convention the committee obtained 
leave to report to the succeeding Con- 
ference at Lincoln, which they did 
as follows : "Propositions have been 
received from Papillion, Bellevue, 
4j C . Jl r Lincoln, Pawnee City, Weeping 

fltei^B^ Water, and Ashland, each of which 

^^H^^^Tv has its advantages." Of these it was 
^^B^^^^t _ decided that the choice lay between 

Ashland and Bellevue. In view of 
existing numerical and financial con- 
ditions it was still deemed inexpe- 
dient to attempt to locate a college, 
but nine trustees were appointed and empowered to ac- 
cept propositions for a seminary. But at the session of 
1872 the trustees reported that no acceptable proposition 
had been received. They were continued and instructed 
to meet at the Methodist church at Lincoln on the first 
Tuesday of the following October, and if practicable 
make final choice of a location. This Board was com- 
pelled to report to the Conference of 1873 that they had 
not been able to fix on any location for a Conference 
seminary, but it was resolved "that we will never cease 
our efforts to build an institution of learning, such as 
the times demand, until crowned with abundant success." 

Rev. J. J. Fleharty, 
A. M., 

Pioneer Educator. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 


But before that success was achieved the dreadful grass- 
hopper scourge of 1874-77 intervened, making the post- 
ponement of the long-cherished object to a later date 

In 1879, however, the Conference established a sem- 
inary at York, Nebraska, with Rev. E. Thomson as prin- 
cipal. Thus, while Nebraska Methodism had from the 
first year of its organized existence watched prayerfully 
and carefully for an opportunity to establish an institu- 
tion of learning and actually made one attempt, and en- 
tertained a large number *of propositions from ambitious 
towns, the Church did not really, in 
an official way, adopt an institution 
till its membership had reached above 
ten thousand and the population of 
the State had reached 450,000. This 
seeming failure during the first 
twenty-five years of her history to 
formally enter the educational field, 
was not the result of indifference, or 
a want of appreciation of its impor- 
tance, but all efforts prior to 1879 
were premature, the population and 
membership being insufficient in 
numbers, and what there were being incapable by reason 
of financial limitations to sustain even a seminary. But 
from now on she has had from one to three in the 

York Seminary continued to prosper, and in 1883 
the grade was raised to that of college. In 1885 
Rev. R. N. McKaig, D. D., succeeded Dr. Thomson as 

Rev. R. N. McKaig, 

President of York Col- 

472 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

In 1884, three years after its organization, the North 
Nebraska Conference appointed J. B. Maxfield, N. H. 
Gale, D. Marquette, J. L. St. Clair, William Worley, J. 
Fowler, J. B. Leedom, a commission with power to act, 
and instructed them to locate and establish a seminary 
within ninety days. The commission met at Fremont, 
and from a number of propositions accepted the one from 
Central City, and established a seminary. A building 
worth $10,000 was erected, and Rev. J. B, Maxfield, 
D. D., was elected president. 

In 1885, by the action of the Conference, it was raised 
to the grade of a college, and named Nebraska Central 

The institution prospered, and the attendance in- 
creased from about thirty the first year to one hundred 
and fifty at one time. In 1887, Dr. J. B. Maxfield re- 
signed the presidency on account of broken health and 
D. Marquette was elected to succeeed him. But the task 
proved too much for his physical strength, and he, too, 
was compelled to resign in 1888, and was succeeded by 
Rev. J. W. Shenk. He soon resigned and was followed 
by Rev. H. A. Crane, and he by F. W. Ware. 

In 1886 Rev. Allen Bartley and others founded the 
town of Bartley in the Republican Valley, and estab- 
lished Mallalieu University, with a view to its ultimate 
adoption by the West Nebraska Conference, and Edward 
Thomson was called to the presidency. While it was 
never formally adopted by the West Nebraska Confer- 
ence, it was so far recognized as to be authorized to send 
representatives to the commission that was to unify the 
educational interests of the State. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 473 


Thus in 1886, there were three colleges, one in each 
Conference, struggUng for existence. The York and 
Central City institutions were within thirty-five miles of 
each other, and each was burdened with debt, and being 
Conference schools were limited to their respective Con- 
ferences for patronage and support. The struggle seemed 
liopeless and the prospect for building up a strong, high- 
grade institution of learning, worthy of the Church of 
John Wesley, seemed to many remote, if ever attainable. 
IMallalieu, while possessing a pretentious title, had not 
even been formally adopted by the Church. 

This was the educational situation when Bishop Fow- 
ler came into the State to preside over the three Con- 
ferences then existing. He found that Nebraska Meth- 
odism was already the victim of a tendency to the undue 
multiplication of institutions, each Conference insisting 
on having its own high-grade school of learning. This 
makes it impossible for either to realize the best results 
in the establishment of a strong institution. 

Bishop Fowler proceeded to lay the matter before the 
three Nebraska Conferences over which he presided. The 
result was the following concurrent action, which orig- 
inated in the North Nebraska Conference, that being 
held first that year, and was adopted by the other two : 

Resolved, That while there is so much reason for re- 
joicing because of zeal for our educational interests, we 
also desire to guard against the disaster sure to come 
from undue multiplication, within narrow territorial 
limits, of institutions of learning of the same grade ; and, 
in order to secure the unification of our educational work 
in the State of Nebraska, therefore we, as a Conference, 

474 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

request our presiding bishop to appoint a committee of 
five, to act with a committee of the same number from 
each of the other Nebraska Conferences together with 
Bishops C. H. Fowler, Thos. Bowman, H. W. Warren, 
and C. D. Foss, as a joint commission, to take such action 
toward this unification as they may deem proper. And 
we also request Bishop Fowler, as chairman of said com- 
mittee, to invite this suggested action on the part of these 
Conferences and the co-operation of these aforemen- 
tioned bishops. 

Resolved, That the Board of Trustees of Nebraska 
Central College be requested to appoint three of their 
number to represent them in the commission to consider 
the unification of our educational work in the State of 

Besides the four bishops named, the following per- 
sons were appointed on the commission : 


Representing the North Nebraska Conference : Rev. 
J. W. Shenk, Rev. J. W. Phelps, Rev. A. Hodgetts, L. 
H. Rogers, A. J. Anderson. 

Representing the West Nebraska Conference: Rev. 
T. B. Lemon, D. D., Rev. h. Stevens, Rev. W. C. Wil- 
son, Rev. G. W. Martin, Rev. P. C. Johnson. 

Representing the Nebraska Conference: Rev. W. G. 
Miller, D. D., Rev. C. F. Creighton, D. D., Rev. H. T. 
Davis, Hon, J. W. Small, Hon. C. C. White. 


Representing the "Nebraska Central College:" Rev. 
J. B. Maxfield, D. D., Rev. David Marquette, Hon. N. 
R. Persinger. 

History of -Nebraska AIethodism. 475 

Representing "]\Iallalieu University" Rev. L. H. 
Eddleblute, Rev. Jas, Leonard, Rev, Allen Bartley. 

Representing the "Alethodist Episcopal College of 
Nebraska:" Rev. R. N. McKaig, F. K. Atkins, F. L. 

The Commission met at the call of Bishop Fowler, at 
Lincoln, Nebraska, December 15th. and continued in ses- 
sion three days. All the members were present, includ- 
ing Bishops Bowman and Warren. Bishops Fowler and 
Foss could not be present. The following telegram ex- 
plains the absence of Bishop Fowler: "Chicago, Illinois, 
December 16, 1886. — Two days lost by two derailings. 
Baggage just in from wreck. Can not reach you. \'ery 

Bishop Bowman was elected chairman of the com- 

After a careful consideration of all the interests in- 
volved, the following plan of unification was adopted: 


First. — That trustees, to be hereafter appointed, se- 
cure a charter for a university to include as contributory 
or allied institutions the schools and colleges at present 
or hereafter coming under the control of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church in Nebraska. 

Second. — That all schools or colleges, which are now 
or may hereafter become the property of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church in Nebraska shall be under the con- 
trol of the University trustees, but all the property, real, 
personal, or m.ixed, shall be held and controlled by their 
own local boards of trustees. 

476 History of Ne;eraska Methodism. 

Third. — The first Board of University Trustees shall 
consist of seven trustees, from within the boundaries of 
each Conference in Nebraska to be appointed by this 
commission, and approved by the several Conferences to 
which they belong, and that hereafter the trustees shall 
consist of seven persons from each and every Confer- 
ence, elected in four annual classes by their respective 
Conferences. The persons thus elected by the several 
Conferences shall constitute the local boards of the sev- 
eral colleges within the bounds of their respective Con- 

These several local boards of trustees to hold and 
control the property of each college as above provided, 
and each local board may nominate so many additional 
members as each separate Conference may determine to 
elect, who, in addition to said local board, shall perform 
the duties of said local trustees. 

Fourth. — Duties of the University and College 

(a) The University Trustees to have and hold all 
property belonging to the University proper, and to 
manage the afifairs of the same. 

(b) To determine the course of study, text books to 
be used, systems of grading, and to do all such other 
work as appertains to the general educational interests 
of the allied colleges. Providing that each college elect 
its own faculty and arrange for its own internal dis- 

All other powers remain with the local boards of 
trustees as defined by their charters and by-laws. 

Fifth. — Any school or college existent, or that may 
come under the charter of the University, shall be en- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 477 

titled to retain its college name, to acquire property to be 
held for the benefit of such college., to teach regular 
preparatory and collegiate studies, as far as the end of 
sophomore year of the university course, and to confer 
academic and normal degrees. The colleges of the uni- 
versity shall have the same courses of study, use the 
same text-books, and students of one college shall be en- 
titled to enter the same grade and rank in any college 
of the university, on certificate of standing, without ex- 

Amendment to Article Fifth. 

The clause in Art. 5 of the above which reads, "as 
far as the end of the sophomore year," etc., shall be un- 
derstood to be so interpreted that any college of this uni- 
versity may be graded in its classical curriculum in every 
detail, so that its classical- senior year of graduation shall 
not be graded higher than the end of the sophomore year 
of the classical course of the university. 

The following addition was adopted : 

The Board of Trustees shall make the grade of the 
university equal to that of any Methodist university in 
the United States. 


Having traced the steps by which, by a process of 
evolution, this institution came into being, the plan under 
which it was founded, the subsequent history of its 
growth and development, contains so much of thrilling 
interest and far-reaching influence, that a somewhat de- 
tailed treatment seem.s justified. 

Broadly speaking, it may be said that the first ten or 
twelve years of her history covered a period of as many 



C. F. Creighton, D. D. 
First Chancelloi-. 


^ 7 

Isaac Crook, D. D. 
Second Chancellor. 

D. W. C. Huntington, D. D. 
Present Chancellor. 


480 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

and as great financial difficulties as any of our schools 
have ever been called to face. We began at the close of 
an unprecedented boom, in which all values were enor- 
mously inflated, and the notions of nearly all men were 
even still more inflated. While the original proposition 
included a $50,000 building to be erected and paid for 
by the people of Lincoln, local pride, and the still pre- 
vailing boom ideas, led to the selection of a plan costing 
$70,000. It was still thought we could realize on some 
real estate enough over and above the bonus ofifered to 
provide for the extra $20,000. But after the contract was 
let, and the building was in process of construction, it 
was found that the boom had spent itself, the reaction 
had set in, the bottom fell out, and everybody wanted to 
sell and no one wanted to bviy. This sudden and unex- 
pected turn in the tide made it more difficult for the Lin- 
coln people to collect or pay their pledges for the build- 
ing fund, or for the trustees to realize on the real estate 
set apart for the extra $20,000. Money for building 
ceased to come in, and local banks refused to advance 
any more. A crisis of such seriousness was reached 
that a meeting of the Board of Trustees was hastily 
called. The greatness of the peril found expression in 
the language of the following telegram from Dr. Creigh- 
ton to Bishop Warren, a member of the board : "We 
are hanging by the eyelids, be sure and come." When 
the trustees met and the situation was considered, the 
emergency, while serious, was not thought to be one 
arising from the lack of ultimate resources, but a tem- 
porary inability to raise the cash needed to finish the 
building. With 800 lots contiguous to the campus, val- 
ued at an average of not less than $300, and several 

President Board of Trustees. 

482 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

thousand dollars worth of lots in Peck's Grove and other 
parts of the city, over and above the Lincoln pledge of 
$50,000, it was thought that the emergency could be met 
by the purchase by the trustees and others of enough of 
these lots, and giving their notes, secured by these, and 
thus furnish paper that could be used as collateral se- 
curity, and on this get the banks to carry them through 
financially. No doubt was entertained that if we had 
time we could realize enough cash out of sales of real 
estate at these boom prices to pay the balance needed 
over and above Lincoln's $50,000. The emergency was 
promptly met in this way by Bishop Warren generously 
offering to secure a loan of $5,000, and also to purchase 
$5,000 worth of real estate, on condition that the other 
members of the board make purchases as they were able. 
This they all did, and the means to finish the building 
was thus secured, but at the financial loss of every in- 
vestor, there never having been a time since, until now, 
that they could have gotten half what was paid by them 
for their lots. Nor could the extra lots be sold. The 
result was that instead of starting out in our career with a 
building paid for, as contemplated, we were about $25,000 
in debt, the one cause of all our subsequent troubles. Like 
thousands of others at that time, it seemed impossible 
for the trustees to divest themselves of the notion that 
the boom prices were to continue forever, and all our 
plans involving the expenditure of money were made on 
that basis. When we could and did appraise our lots at 
an average of $300 per lot, making a total valuation of 
$240,000, there did not seem to be any demand for rigid 
economy, but the face of the facts seemed to justify a 
liberal policy. Hence we at the first fixed the chancellor's 

Secrktar-i . 


484 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

salary at $3,000, and the other members of the Faculty at 
about $1,000 to $1,200. It may be safely said that few 
other Methodist institutions ever started out on such a 
munificent scale. 

But the tide had turned and was moving in an ad- 
verse direction at a rapid rate. It soon became impos- 
sible to transform our real estate into productive endow- 
ment, as was contemplated, and as might readily have 
been done but for the unforeseen bursting of the boom 
and consequent depreciation of our real estate along with 
all other of like nature, until it became unsalable at any 
price. A lingering faith in the outcome induced many 
of the faculty to take our lots in part payment of salaries, 
but in spite of this generous action, there was an increas- 
ing" deficit from year to year, which added to the nine per 
cent interest we were paying on our notes, the debts kept 
growing, and soon passed the limit of $25,000, as fixed 
by the charter. In the meanwhile the financial situation 
throughout the country was growing worse. Banks were 
breaking in every' direction, and many private individuals 
and firms were going under. Cotner University, of the 
Christian denomination, established a year after Wes- 
leyan, and about a mile distant, was compelled to go into 
bankruptcy, and the Episcopal Church deemed it inex- 
pedient to rebuild their school after its loss by fire. The 
remarkable thing about this whole matter is, not that a 
debt was contracted, and allowed to grow to alarming 
proportions, but that under the awful stress of financial 
storm under which her infancy and youth were passed 
during the first ten or twelve years of her history, that 
she weathered the storm, was kept in the field and up to 
a high grade of efficiency, and the debt kept down to a 

Financial Secretary, 1900-1901. 



History of' Nebraska Methodism. 

manageable point, so that at the first opportunity, when 
a changed financial condition made it possible, the debt 
could be and was paid. 

In this connection historical justice requires that the 
chief factors in this glorious consummation should be 

mentioned, being Dr. 
D. W. C. Hunting- 
ton, Chancellor; Gov. 
J. H. Mickey, who 
besides giving $6,000, 
gave much of his 
time in personal can- 
vass of the State, and 
Bishop McCabe. Be- 
sides these, E. E. 
H o s m a n rendered 
valuable service as 
Financial Secretary, 
and Mrs. C. C. 
White, who gave $5,- 
100. Under the in- 
spiration of this lead- 
ership and this giving 
the Methodists of Ne- 
braska were led to lay 
upon the altar enough to pay the last penny of the old 
indebtedness, and under the efficient leadership of Field 
Secretary Dr. G. W. Isham has since paid every dollar 
of its current expenses, besides making many needed im- 
provements and repairs. There have also been erected and 
paid for at a cost of $7,000, a heating plant and gymna- 
sium and botanical conservatory. Then there is now in 

George W. Isham, D. D. 
Field Secretary and Treasurer. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 


process of construction a Conservatory of Alusic to cost, 
when completed, $50,000, one wing of which is now com- 
pleted and paid for at a cost of $16,000, 

The financial history of this great institution would 
not be complete without the mention of the fact that 
through the influence 
of Bishop Warren, 
Jacob Haish, who 
had already given 
$50,000 to build and 
equip a manual train- 
ing school for Denver 
University, was in- 
duced to do likewise 
for Nebraska Wes- 
leyan University. Ac- 
cordingly a fine build- 
ing was erected for 
this purpose on the 
campus. Negotia- 

tions for the insur- 
ance were held with 
dififerent insurance 
companies for the 
proper insurance of 

this building, but the rates demanded seemed so exorbi- 
tant that those responsible for this part of the business 
hesitated to pay the rates. This happened to be a case 
where to hesitate was to be lost. For unhappily, before 
any agreement could be reached and the property in- 
sured, it took fire from some unknown cause and was en- 
tirely destroyed. 

C. C. V^HITE. 

Former President Board of Trustees. 

488 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

There was some talk of rebuilding the "Haish," but 
as Mr. Haish himself naturally declined to furnish the 
money, the pressure of debt and adverse financial condi- 
tions made the project impossible. 

But financial and moral confidence have been seem- 
ingly completely restored, and the future of Nebraska 
Wesleyan is assured, and her expanding needs in the 
way of additional endowments and additional buildings 
will in due time be met by the generous men and women 
who are interested in the cause of Christian education. 

After this somewhat detailed statement of the finan- 
cial and material side of this history, which in the nature 
of things must always be a very important feature in the 
early periods of the existence of such institutions, when 
income is small and expenses are great, often involving 
from a quarter to a half a century of struggle, seems jus- 
tified by the unique conditions through which we have 
reached the final victory. It is due, however, to the 
Board of Trustees to say that at the very first every pre- 
caution possible was taken to start the institution out on 
its career free of debt arising from any expense of build- 
ing, and the creation of productive endowment through 
the sale of lots and pledges from the people such as 
would amply provide for the payment of current ex- 
penses. That these expectations and plans were not 
realized was no fault of the trustees, but was the result 
of changes in conditions that no one but the Omniscient 
could foresee. 

The other phases of Wesleyan 's history may be 
briefly summed up. Dr. Charles F. Creighton seemed to 
many, when the plan was consummated, to be the ideal 
man to serve as chancellor, and put the plan in operation. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 4S9 

Accordingly he was elected the first chancellor, and pro- 
ceeded with vigor and enthusiasm to inaugurate the great 
enterprise. In many respects he was well suited to Lhe 
work. He was certainly a great preacher, with no little 
ability as an organizer. He had a great opportunity, 
and realized it, and seemed determined to make the most 
of it. But just at that juncture there was needed at the 
head of affairs a man, that while vigorously pushing the 
inauguration of the new plan should also in marked de- 
gree possess a spirit and tact calculated to bring into line 
the doubting ones and conciliate the antagonistic. 
Neither of these did Dr. Creighton possess in such meas- 
ure as to enable him to meet this demand under the con- 
ditions then prevailing. After several years of strenuous, 
and in many ways, successful, effort in behalf of the 
school, he in June, 1893, resigned, and the following 
August Dr. Isaac Crook was elected Chancellor. 

Dr. Crook was a dignified, cultured, and scholarly 
man, and as such was pre-eminent'y an educator. He 
was well adapted to manage the internal affairs of an in- 
stitution already established and endowed, and did intro- 
duce a number of improvements in the methods of work. 
He also did much to allay the feeling of bitterness aroused 
during the preceding years. The work that was urgentlv 
needed at that time was not at all to his taste, and Dr. 
Crook gracefully retired after three years of honorable 
and efficient service along the lines for which he was 
adapted, leaving the institution in much better condition 
in many ways than he found it. He was soon called to 
the honorable position of president of the Ohio State 

After an interregnum of two years, during which 

490 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

matters went rapidly from bad to worse, the Ellinwood 
defalcation being detected about that time, we found 
right in our midst the man for the hour, in the person of 
Dr. D. W. C. Huntington, who was elected Chancellor. 
After many years of distinguished service in the old 
Genesee Conference, in New York, which sent him sev- 
eral times as one of her delegates to the General Confer- 
ence, he was transferred to Nebraska Conference in Oc- 
tober, 1 89 1, to take charge of the new and promising 
Trinity Church enterprise in Lincoln. It is a high com- 
pliment to Dr. Huntington that at a great crisis, when 
the school needed a wise man to save it from its financial 
perils, and restore the confidence and respect of the pub- 
lic, lost through the defalcations of its trusted treasurer, 
C. M. Ellinwood, all turned spontaneously to him as the 
one man whose wisdom could guide us safely through the 
financial breakers, and whose high moral character, which 
had become recognized throughout the entire State, could 
reinstate our institution in the confidence of the people, 
which must be done if we were to live at all. At a meet- 
ing of the trustees, called for the purpose of electing a 
chancellor, immediately after convening, and without 
waiting for a nomination by any committee. Dr. Hunt- 
ington was unanimously elected chancellor, notwithstand- 
ing he himself earnestly protested against the action. 

It is not too much to say that this was a turning point 
in the history of the Nebraska Wesleyan University, and 
that ever since the tide has moved steadily in the direc- 
tion of increasing prosperity, confidence has been not 
only entirely regained, but is to-day greater than it has 
even been. 

While it was intended that the other schools should 

History of Nebraska AIethodism. 491 

keep in the field as subordinate departments of the Uni- 
versity, confining themselves chiefly to preparatory work, 
though allowed at their option to carry that work as far 
as the sophomore year of the university course, attention 
and effort were so largely concentrated on the new en- 
terprise as to operate to the immediate disadvantage of 
all the others. Besides, the immediate patronizing territory 
of the York College, the oldest and strongest, coincided 
with that on which the new institution must mainly de- 
pend. Then there was naturally a feeling of disappoint- 
ment that York should not have been made the one uni- 
versity, but instead, her grade was reduced virtually to 
that of a seminary. Added to this wounded pride, and 
discouragement incident to defeat, hard times set in and 
many who had pledged help or had been in the habit of 
doing so, refused to pay old pledges or make new ones, 
on the score that the conditions had changed and there 
was no use trying to keep up the subordinate schools. 
The conditions resulted in tlie closing of both the York 
and Central City schools in a few years. 

Two preparatory schools were afterward adopted by 
the Universit}-. one at Douglas, within thirty miles of 
Lincoln, and one at Orleans. The first soon died be- 
cause it ought never to have been. The one at Orleans 
supplied a real need for all the southwestern part of the 
State and deserved success. It flourished a few years 
under the principalship of Prof. J. L. ^IcBrien, but suc- 
cumbed to the adverse financial conditions caused by gen- 
eral depression, and especially by the drouth. 

This left the entire field to the Nebraska Wesleyan 
University, and nobly has she done the work. Under 
the successive chancellorships of Drs. C. F. Creighton, 

492 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Isaac Crook, and I). W. C. Huntington, a -steady growth 
has been maintained. Beginning with less than one hun- 
dred students, the number has increased to over seven 
hundred at present. 

Alhision has been made to the defalcation of our treas- 
urer, and as this sad fact has been much misunderstood 
historical justice requires a brief statement of the oc- 
currence. Professor Ellinwood was among the first men 
elected to our Faculty, he coming to us from Simpson 
Centenary College, in Iowa, and taking charge of the de- 
partment of natural science. He was a master in his de- 
partment, and would have succeeded had he not gone 
into banking and other business projects, by which he 
became involved financially. He was withal an expert 
accountant, and such was the implicit confidence all had 
in his business and moral integrity, that he was soon made 
deputy treasurer, and afterward treasurer. Doubtless 
this confidence in his honesty and skill as an accovuitant 
made the Board of Trustees less careful in auditing his 
accounts, and his confidence in his own ability as an ac- 
countant tempted him to abuse this sacred confidence of 
his brethren and to begin and carry on a series of frauds 
which he skillfully kept covered up for years, deceiving 
not only the trustees, but also the officials of different 
banks, among which were the First National of Lincoln, 
a leading bank in Burlington, Iowa, and Windom Bank 
of University Place. He was tried and expelled from 
the ministry and membership of the IMethodist Church, 
but escaped criminal prosecution on the part of the au- 
thorities of the State. While the defalcation was at first 
about $34,000, Ellinwood turned over certain properties 
which reduced the loss to $27,000, and by equitable ad- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 493 

justments made by the trustees with the several banks in- 
volved, the net loss to the University was reduced to 
about $7,500, or less than one-fourth of the original 

In the meanwhile, through all these changes and vary- 
ing experiences, the school was doing most excellent 
work, being able to keep in the field an able corps of 
teachers. The attendance has steadily increased almost 
from the first, beginning with niney-six the first year, 
and reaching the present year over seven hundred. There 
has been a total of 179 graduates from the College of 
Liberal Arts. The normal department has for a number 
of years been among the few normal schools that have 
measured up to the demands- of the State, and received 
for its graduates from the State superintendent. State 
certificates on an equality with the State Normal school 
at Peru. 

Indeed all* the departments have been well manned 
from the first, the course of study comparing favorably 
with that of our best institutions. Even in the more ex- 
pensive departments, as in the chemical laboratory, im- 
provements have constantly been made and the latest 
appliances have been procured. 

The tract of ground surrounding the campus which 
fifteen years ago was farm land, has grown to be a thrifty 
village of nearly, or quite, 2,000 inhabitants. While vir- 
tually a suburb of Lincoln, with street car service every 
fifteen minutes, and a five-cent fare to any part of the 
city, they have wisely maintained their own separate 
municipal government, rigidly excluding all places of 
vice, thus protecting the students from the degrading in- 
fluences which prevail in our cities and many of our 


494 History o^ Nebraska Methodism. 

Not only in this negative way have the youth who 
flock to the Nebraska Wesleyan for instruction been pro- 
tected from positive immoral influences, but there has 
grown up a strong Methodist Church with over eight 
hundred members, being the second largest church in 
the State. But not only is it strong numerically, but it 
is one of the most spiritual Churches in the Connection. 
A Church that maintains its spiritual power throughout 
the year, where at every testimony meeting two to five 
are on their feet at once waiting their turn to speak, and 
where revivals are liable to break out spontaneously at 
any time, and seekers after salvation present themselves 
at the altar for prayers. Where vigorous means of grace 
for the intelligent culture and development of Christian 
experience and character exist in a high state of effi- 
ciency, and all the modern departments of a Methodist 
working Church are in operation. 

While it is true that the conversion of a youth in. 
one of our city, village, or rural Churches, may be said 
to double the probability of that youth seeking an educa- 
tion at Wesleyan or elsewhere, so that over fifty per cent 
of the students that enter all our institutions of learning, 
including State schools, and about eighty per cent of 
those coming to Wesleyan are professing Christians when 
entering these schools, it is also true that the twenty per 
cent of unconverted that come to Wesleyan are three 
times more likely to be converted there than they would 
if they had staid at home. If twenty per cent enter Wes- 
leyan unconverted, only two per cent of those graduat- 
ing remain unconverted. 

If Nebraska Methodism was slow about getting at 
its educational work, it has finally solved the problem of 

History of Nebraska ^Iethodism. 495 

Christian education in a most satisfactory way by the 
estabHshment of an ideal school, surrounding it by a 
highly moral communit\ , and supplementing' the power- 
ful influences of the school itself by a strong spiritual 
Church, thus creating well-nigh perfect conditions under 
which our }outh may secure an education. 

Among the laymen mentioned in connection with our 
Wesleyan, and who are worthy of further mention, is 
J. H. Mickey. Even before his elevation to the place of 
Chief Magistrate of the State, he w^as one of the best 
known and highly honored laymen of the State. This is 
because John H. IVIickey always gave evidence of a gen- 
uine piety, everywhere, and under all circumstances, 
"witnessing a good confession," and living a pure life. 
And under all circumstances the Church has found in him 
a true friend, ready to help up to the extent of his ability. 
And though he has been prosperous, both as a farmer 
and banker, and later in politics, this prosperity has never 
diminished his devotion to Christ and His Church. 

After serving his country during the w^ar as a mem- 
ber of an Iowa Regiment of Volunteer Cavalry, he came 
to Nebraska in 1869, settling on a homestead in Polk 
County, and at the organization of the county, soon after, 
he was appointed county treasurer, to which position he 
was afterwards elected a number of terms. 

It is characteristic of this devoted layman, that Father 
Query, the local preacher who planted Methodism in 
Polk County, found a hearty welcome to the home of 
John H. Mickey, where he organized the first class in 
that county, and that Wm. Worley should report that 
out of the eleven dollars received on the West Blue Mis- 
sion in 1869, J. H. Mickey paid five, and that during a 

496 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

great revival held at Osceola, by J. O. A. Fleharty, J. H. 
Mickey was one of the most earnest and efficient lay 
workers, leading his friends and neighbors to Christ. 

It may be truthfully said that every Methodist pastor 
that has served the Church at Osceola has found in 
Brother Mickey a true personal friend, and in some cases 
that friendship has continued to the pastor's family, after 
he has died. The first time the writer met Governor 
Mickey to know him was just after the death of S. P. 
Van Doozer, who had been his pastor at Osceola, and 
he was then busy settling up the estate, endeavoring to 
save as much as possible for the widow and fatherless 

These and other incidents that might be mentioned, 
occurring before he came into prominence in Church and 
State, best show his true character, and explain in part 
why he has come into prominence. 

Perhaps the moral and religious sides of his charac- 
ter are too pronounced and are too rigidly applied to the 
affairs of State to suit the average politician, but his up- 
right principles and downright honesty suit the Meth- 
odists, and indeed, all other decent people who believe in 
an honest administration of the affairs of the State. We 
think all the more of him because he has not allowed 
any one to use him, and has never apologized for being 
a Christian. 

He has twice been elected lay delegate to the Gen- 
eral Conference, and ever since the death of C. C. White, 
he has, from year to year, been the unanimous choice of 
the Trustees of the Nebraska Wesleyan for President of 
the Board. 

The Board of Trustees of the Nebraska Wesleyan 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 497 

University has had no more faithful and influential mem- 
ber than J. AI. Stewart, who has been on the Board for 
many years. Though a leading lawyer of Lincoln, with 
a large practice, he still finds it possible, or makes it pos- 
sible, to give much time to the affairs of the university. 
It was largely due to his legal services that the institu- 
tion was able to save so much out of the loss caused by 
the Ellinwood defalcation. 

It would be safe to say that besides much generous 
giving directly, his legal services, the charge for which, 
if any, has been merely nominal, have saved the institu- 
tion many thousands of dollars. 

C. C. White is another one of those strong laymen 
who not only rendered valuable service to Nebraska Wes- 
leyan at the time of its sorest need, but was a tower of 
strength in the Church, and indeed, in all the walks of 
life. Few men have touched humanity in more varied 
and helpful ways than C. C. White. But I feel that an- 
other pen will be far more able to do justice to this unique 
character, unique, not in the sense of oddity or eccen- 
tricity, but of a rare and well-proportioned combination 
of well-nigh all the virtues. 

But Dr. Isaac Crook, who came to know him in their 
close official relations to Nebraska Wesleyan, shall speak 
for me : "The outward story of his life need not be long 
— true with all of us. He was born in Sylvania, near 
Toledo, Ohio, February 24, 1843, ^^^ attended the com- 
mon schools, also a local academy, till eighteen years of 
age. He intended to become a teacher, but instead en- 
listed in the Ninth Illinois Cavalry, and for three years 
had the stern schooling of war — in camp-life and battle, 
and for seven months in prison at Libby and Belle Isle. 

498 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Exchanged, he returned to his regiment and served out 
the term of his enhstment. In 1864 he settled near Ray- 
mond, Nebraska, and engaged in farming, to support 
his widowed mother and sisters. January 19, 1868, lie 
married a teacher. Miss Olive A. Johnson, of Valparaiso. 
In this marriage he found a helper in every excellence 
and a large part of his life success. 

"His intimate friends, such as saw most of his real 
life, are his greatest admirers. Incidental glimpses, 
when he could not be on guard, showed him at his best. 
The real man grows on one by careful observation. It 
may indicate how deeply and widely rooted was his life, 
when we recall but his official relations. At home he was 
class-leader, president of the Church Board of Trustees, 
leader of the choir, Sunday-school superintendent, presi- 
dent of the Young Men's Christian Association, president 
of the Board of Education ; and he attended to all of 
them. He had been president of the State Millers' As- 
sociation ; was, at the time of his death, president of the 
Veterans of the Ninth Illinois Cavalry, member of th.e 
Board of the Central State Sunday-school Conrention, 
president of the Crete Chautauqua Assembly, and presi- 
dent of the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska Wesleyan 
University. He attended to these several duties cheer- 
fully and systematically, without hurtful neglect of private 
business or domestic life. Surely he must have been 
highly endowed with executive ability and inspired with 
great philanthropy. 

"He was a Methodist theoretically and practically ; but 
many of his sweetest, most sacred fellowships were in 
Churches difitering from his own most radically. His 
love was too large for denominational fences. His cor- 

History oj? Nebraska Methodism. 499 

respondence, and the letters of sympathy written after his 
death, reveal a widespread feeling of esteem, amounting-, 
as one says, 'to a sentiment akin to reverence.' These 
tribute-bearing letters are from clergymen, educators, 
lawyers, physicians, merchants, millers, grain-dealers, 
pastors of congregations in and out of his State, from 
East and West, North and South. But the most signifi- 
cant of all come from the unfortunate. Little wonder, 
when we remember that he once said to his wife : 'How 
can I sleep when there is under our roof a broken heart !' 
It was the heart-break of a hired girl. Or he would say : 
'I must at least go and shake hands wath the people in 
that prairie schooner and speak an encouraging word.' 
Or when a transient hired man would be overcome with 
drink, he would try the man again, saying: 'Were I in 
his place I might have done no better.' One such man 
was under his care when he died ; and a poor Bohemian 
woman, on hearing of his death, sat down in the street, 
crying, as she said: 'I've lost the" best friend I had in 
the world.' One closest to him in his office says, 'There 
was scarcely a day without his giving relief privately.' • 
"His gentleness did not mean weakness. His was 
not the pliability of the willow, but of the palm, which 
bends to the zephyr, yet withstands the simoon. Men 
who undertook to dislodge from a right position by bribes 
or threats, found cause for humiliation and shame. That 
mild, blue eye could flash fire, and that kind face be set 
as a helmet of steel. Though generous in his interpreta- 
tions of men's motives, he read character accurately. 
Like the Master, he condemned and forgave the sins of 
weakness for which men were sorry, but his wrath was 
unsparing towards hypocrisy. 

500 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

"The great honor of being the spiritual guide of Mr. 
White and his wife fell to Rev. H. T. Davis, D. D. First, 
he was their guest at Raymond, and, like sensible people, 
they talked frankly on religion. In a year Davis returned 
as presiding elder. Before he came Mr. White said, 
'Wife, I fear I can't hold out much longer against Elder 
Davis's preaching.' 'I also feel that way,' she said. 
After the sermon on the following Sabbath night, invi- 
tation was given for enquirers to go forward for prayer. 

, His wife said, 'Let us go.' He replied, 'Do you wish to?' 
'Yes.' 'All right.' And to that humble school-house altar 
they went, and again were united in a holier bond than 
ever. Here, as often, the wife was the leader, while he 
was a willing follower and companion. She soon found 
peace that floweth like a river. He held resolutely on, 

' going three nights in succession, when he, too, entered 
into peace, and said, 'Glory, glory, hallelujah!' Now, 
after twenty-three years of service, he is with the in- 
numerable company whose hallelujahs never end. 

"He was elected senator for Saunders County in 1880. 
During the same year he was honored as delegate to the 
General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
held at Cincinnati. He moved to Crete, Nebraska, in 
1888, where, as an enterprising leader in the milling 
business, he prospered and became a blessing to the city 
and State. After a brief illness, he died, September 20, 
1895, just as he had come to the riper years of full ma- 

Mrs. C. C. White, the widow of this true nobleman, 
whom he always regarded as his equal and companion, 
was in hearty sympathy with her husband in what he 
was doing" for Wesleyan, and along other benevolent 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 501 

lines, and finds pleasure in carrying out his wishes as 
well as her own, in the generous contribution of $5,000 
to pay the debt. To her, in pursuit of the same purpose, 
is largely due the stately new structure, the conservatory 
of music, one wing of which is now approaching comple- 
tion, as well as timely assistance in other improvements. 

A. L. Johnson, the business partner of C. C. White in 
the milling business at Crete, is another one of the true- 
hearted laymen who have proved to Wesley an a "friend 
indeed," because a "friend in need," who, besides con- 
tributing largely to the payment of the debt, has gen- 
erously aided the erection and furnishing of the new 
gymnasium, and also of the conservatory. He is an in- 
fluential member of the Board of Trustees, and a mem- 
ber of the Executive Committee, giving much valuable 
time to the interests of the university. 

Regarding the general subject of education, Nebraska 
Methodism, in common with other evangelical denomina- 
tions, with the exception of the Roman Catholic, holds 
uncompromisingly to these views : 

First, that every human being is entitled to the best 
education possible, and that no education is complete that 
ignores the moral and religious elements in human na- 

Second, that the Church and State, having different 
functions, are to be separate. 

The first of these requires that the State, especially in 
the case of a free Republic, provide through a public 
school system, supported by taxation, an opportunity for 
every boy and girl to be educated. But the second re- 
stricts the State from exercising the function of the 
Church in carrying on and directing the religious feature 
of this education. 

502 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

That is, we say to the State, it is your duty to edu- 
cate the people, but in doing so you must leave out the 
most important elements. 

Few, except the Catholics, question the practical 
soundness of these seemingly contradictory positions. 
But they give rise to one of the most difficult problems 
the American people have to solve. 

Hence Nebraska Methodism, in common with all 
evangelical denominations, has recognized the fact that 
her duty in reference to the work of education was two- 
fold : 

First, to help the State in its efforts to furnish the 
best education it could, under the before mentioned re- 
strictions, by supplying as many earnest Christian young 
men and women to be teachers in the public schools as 

Second, surrounding the State institutions with an 
environment of positive moral and religious influences, 
such as the State, under her restrictions, can not supply. 

But, however much the Church may help the State 
in its educational work, the State can never build up a 
system or an institution that will impart a complete edu- 
cation, according to our standard, and must therefore be 
supplemented by denominational schools. 

How much of the work of education can be safely en- 
trusted to the State, and how much must be reserved for 
other agencies? 

How far can the State go in the recognition of the 
Bible in the school, and where must it stop in the process 
of education? 

In regard to these questions, the Methodists of Ne- 
braska hold that, as this is neither a non-Christian nor 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 503 

an infidel nation, but essentially a Christian nation, the 
State may, in a general, non-sectarian way, allow the 
Bible to be read in the schools. But it may not presume 
to exercise the function of propagating any form of relig- 
ion, or interfere in any manner with the religious life. 

While the question of just where the dividing line is 
to be drawn, beyond which the State may not go in the 
direction of developing and directing the religious na- 
ture, is not yet fully determined, two broad principles 
are recognized : 

First, that the State must, as far as it can consistently 
with the second principle, supplement the home, and pri- 
vate and denominational enterprises in the work of edu- 

Second, that this same principle of the separation of 
State and Church makes it impossible for the State to 
furnish a complete education, according to the first prin- 
ciple, and it must in turn be supplemented by the Church 
with her denominational schools. 

We are glad to say that the truth of history requires 
us to record that Nebraska Methodism has done credit- 
able work along both lines. 

I am informed by Professor W. R. Jackson, ex-State 
Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Professor J. 
Iv. McBrien, present deputy, that a large percentage of 
the public school teachers are Christian, and a large per- 
centage of these are Methodist. 

Then in the second line of helpfulness we have ren- 
dered good service, as the history of the State University 
and the State Normal School will show, when fully writ- 
ten. As previously stated, the latter was at first intended 
to be a Methodist school, and Hiram Burch, one of our 

504 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

most faithful Methodist preachers, and Professor Mc- 
Kenzie, gave over two years' hard service to its building 
up, and after failure to induce the Conference to take it, 
because of certain conditions deemed impracticable, con- 
sented to its being turned over to the State as a Normal. 
In the chapter on the development of our Church in 
Lincoln, reference was made to the magnificent services 
rendered by St. Paul's Church, and especially by a band 
of "elect ladies," led by Mrs. Roberts, in counteracting 
the influence of certain infidel professors in the State 
University, and supplying the requisite moral and relig- 
ious environment for the students. Along the same line 
the following extract from Hiram Burch's "Recollec- 
tions," will show the immense influence Methodism has 
exerted in shaping and giving a moral and even religious 
tone to the State Normal, which was located at Peru m- 
stead of a Methodist college, as at first designed : "It 
may seem to the casual observer that the time spent, the 
labor bestowed, and the sacrifice made in founding that 
school was nearly or quite thrown away, at least so far 
as our Church is concerned. But not so. Our .beloved 
brother. Professor J. M. McKenzie, a devout Christian 
and earnest Methodist, who had charge of the school dur- 
ing its formative period, and without whose labors and 
sacrifice it seems hardly possible that any degree of suc- 
cess could have been attained, was still at the head of the 
school after it was given to the State, and gave it that 
religious trend which it has largely maintained during its 
entire history. For instance, a Tuesday night students' 
prayer-meeting was established, which was never inter- 
fered with by other exercises, not even during commence- 
ment week. In fact, the farewell students' prayer-meet- 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 505 

ing, at which students took a religious leave of each other, 
and of their teachers, was an interesting and inspiring 
feature of commencement week, and was kept up as long 
as I was personally acquainted with the school, and is 
still, so far as I know. And not only did they have their 
student's prayer-meeting, but no exercises were held at 
the Normal on the regular Church prayer-meeting 

It was from the position as principal of the State 
Normal that Professor McKenzie was called to be State 
Superintendent, which position he held for six years. 
Thus, indirectly, the founding of the school gave the 
State the services of that godly man and competent and 
successful educator, who, more perhaps than any other 
man, laid the foundations of our public-school system, 
and in so doing, emphasized the importance of the moral 
and spiritual in education. The seat of the State Normal 
school has been the scene of some very gracious revivals, 
mainly in connection with the Methodist Church of that 
place. Among the most successful of these, which ha^'c 
been of almost annual occurrence, may be mentioned one 
during the pastorate of Rev. L. F. Britt, when there were 
about one hundred converts ; and of more recent date, 
under the labors of that successful lay evangelist, Dr. B. 
L. Paine, which occurred, I think, during the pastorate 
of Rev. G. M. Gates, at which nearly or quite three hun- 
dred were converted. These converts have been mostly 
students, and largely from Methodist families. Several 
of these have entered the work of the ministry in our 
own Church and in other Churches. Some have gone as 
missionaries to distant fields, some have become minis- 
ters' wives, and many more have gone forth as Christian 

5o6 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

teachers, working in our public schools and institutions 
of learning." 

J. M. McKenzie was the pioneer Methodist educator 
in Nebraska. We meet him first in the early sixties at 
Pawnee City, endeavoring to plant an educational insti- 
tution in that place, called "Nemaha Valley Seminary and 
Normal Institute." But he was soon called to take charge 
of the institution at Peru, referred to by Brother Burch, 
while it was yet expected that it would be a Methodist 
school, and remained at the head after it became a State 
Normal. While here he was called to the State superin- 
tendency, the second man to serve in that capacity. Prob- 
ably few men who have occupied that position, have had 
as much to do, or have actually done as much toward 
organizing the public-school system of Nebraska, as did 
J. M. McKenzie during the six years which he held that 
important office. His efficiency is evidenced to some ex- 
tent by the fact that his was the rare distinction of serv- 
ing three terms in succession. 

During all these years in which he was serving the 
State, first in organizing its Normal school, and after- 
ward the larger system of public schools, he was a de- 
vout Christian, with a rich religious experience, which 
gave tone and character to all his work on educational 
lines. He afterwards rendered years of splendid serv- 
ice to the Church at York College, and later went to 

Another of the pioneer educators was J. J. Fleharty. 
He seemed to feel that his life work lay along educational 
lines. Coming to Nebraska in the later seventies and 
finding that nothing had been done officially along that 
line, it seemed to him that this situation furnished him 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 507 

the opportunity to supply the long recognized need. 
Looking over the field he selected Osceola as the most 
suitable place and soon had that warm-hearted, stalwart 
layman. John H. ]^lickey, as one of his stanch supporters. 
He was doing faithful work in his line, but ere long he 
was doomed to disappointment, the Conference soon after 
choosing York as the seat of its Conference school. 
Though disappointed, he was not daunted, and as we 
have seen, tried again, selecting Fullerton. in the North 
Nebraska Conference. But here also he was again dis- 
appointed. Central City being chosen, and he was again 
to see his plans miscarry. 

No purer man, or one more unselfishly devoted to 
what he deemed the call of God has ever wrought in the 
Lord's vineyard in Nebraska. This is none the less true 
because of these two defeats, and the consequent bitter 
disappointment that followed, which, together with the 
hard work involved, soon undermined his constitution. 
He was in the meanwhile, engaged in literary pursuits, 
publishing two books, the "Life of Rev. Asahel E. 
Phelps" and "Social Impurity." 

In 186 1 he was married to Miss Anna Brace, and in 
all his subsequent labors she was a true "helpmeet." 

This noble, toilful, sanctified life closed May 2. 1884, 
at Tampa, Florida, whither they had gone in a vain hope 
of prolonging his life. 


FOURTH PERIOD. (1880-1904.) 


It could not be otherwise than that the religion es- 
tablished by our Lord, who Himself was constantly min- 
istering to the whole man, feeding the hungry, healing 
the sick, instructing the mind, and pardoning the guilty, 
and regenerating the soul, should take on all the mani- 
fold forms required by human nature, and continue to 
minister to the whole man. Then the generous impulses 
that are generated in the hearts of his disciples, eliminat- 
ing selfishness, impelling by their gentle pressure, guided 
by an intelligent perception of the need, must soon find 
expression in suitable agencies and institutions for carry- 
ing on these larger features of Christian work, and found 
a hospital for the sick. 

It is among the pleasant recollections of the writer 
that, when pastor of the First Church, South Omaha, in 
1890, at one of our preachers' meetings. Dr. D. A. Foole, 
of Omaha, came before us and presented the matter for 
the first time, and the truth of history requires the state- 
ment that the inception of the movement is due to Dr. 
Foote. A committee was appointed and the agitation 
began and through varying stages of careful, prayerful 
consideration, culminated in a tangible form the follow- 
ing year. 


Old Methodist Hospital at Omaha. 


The New Methodist Hospital at Omaha. 


5IO History of Nebraska Methodism. 

That the matter should be approached captiously, 
step by step, with no little hesitancy, and even some hon- 
est opposition, was to be expected, for Omaha Meth- 
odism was yet under the burden of debt, and ill prepared 
to assume further financial responsibility. 

The progress of this movement toward its blessed con- 
summation is so well told by Brother Haynes,* that I 
again quote him : "The making of a beginning was held 
in reserve for the time being till the matter might be 
further investigated. The most inquisitive were on the 
alert seeking the while information. An opportunity 
came unsought. Mrs. Lucy Rider Meyer, of Chicago, 
who is reputed as the founder of training schools for 
nurses in the Methodist Church, accompanied by her hus- 
band, on their way to Denver, visited Omaha, and pre- 
sented to a meeting held in the basement of the First 
Methodist Church, some of the features of the work 
necessary to the organization of a hospital. This begin- 
ning was the occasion of an effort to commence work 
looking to the establishment of a hospital and Deaconess 
Home in this city. The intelligent and satisfactory pre- 
sentation of the case bv these zealous advocates gave in- 
spiration to not a few, and particularly the women pres- 
ent were aroused so thoroughly as to incite them to 
greater deeds. 

The women — ^Irs. Haynes, Mrs. Claflin, Mrs. Aus- 
tin, and Mrs. Bryant — pressed the matter with such ear- 
nestness and solicitude that the pastors changed their 
purpose as much as to agree that if $1,500 should be 
raised as a guarantee of success, they would make no fur- 
ther opposition. Dr. J. W. Shenk courageously sec- 

■ History of Omaha Methodism. 

512 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

onded the presiding elder and the women in an endeavor 
to make a trial. 

In the meantime Dr. Gifford, who was the owner of 
an infirmary on South Twentieth, near Harney Street, 
learning of the effort being made, offered the building 
which he had erected at his own expense, on the condi- 
tion of an indebtedness of $1,900 being assumed and that 
there be six rooms reserved for his patients — two for men 
and two for women, and two besides, subject, however, 
to the rules of the hospital. The Hospital A-ssociation ac- 
cepted the proposition, and leasing the ground at $400 a 
year, opened the institution on May 28, 1891, for the. re- 
ception of patients. 

On the same day and at the same place, the associa- 
tion met and effected a permanent organization by elect- 
ing Dr. J. W. Shenk president, and J. C. Cowgill secre- 
tary. A constitution was adopted, and a committee ap- 
pointed to secure the legal incorporation of the asso- 
ciation. The name given the institution is the Methodist 
Hospital and Deaconess Home of Omaha. On May 24th, 
the hospital and home were dedicated by Bishop John P. 

"The opening of the hospital," says the Omaha Chris- 
tian Advocate, "is an event of great interest. The asso- 
ciation now owns property worth $10,000, on which there 
is -an indebtedness of $1,900. There has been about 
$1,500 subscribed for current expenses. The building 
has capacity for twenty-eight beds." 

From the date of the opening till the present a con- 
tinuous good work has been done in caring for the sick, 
maimed, and otherwise disabled ones. But the work of 
caring for such as are admitted to the hospital can not 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 513 

be done without expense ; and provision had to be made 
to meet the constantly accumulating outlay. To meet 
this in part, it was deemed wise to make an inducement 
for friends and citizens to contribute a small sum by of- 
fering an equivalent. Hence, any one in health who may 
pay into the treasury ten dollars at one time is entitled 
to a yearly membership ticket, which allows the con- 
tributor, in case of personal sickness, to be taken 
care of without charge, during the year of making 
the payment." 

The growth and history of this blessed work are thus 
briefly, but eloquently, summarized by Mrs. Allie P. Mc- 
Laughlin, who has been superintendent from the first : 
"The Hospital and Deaconess Home Association was or- 
ganized thirteen years ago this March. We opened the 
hospital the 28th day of May, 1891. We began to receive 
our patients without any means on hand, but the Lord 
has so prospered us, we have taken care of more than 
nine thousand people, of whom one-third have been en- 
tirely free. And to-day we have no debt. Our little 
deaconess family of workers numbered three at first, but 
now numbers forty-seven. We have been very much 
cramped all of these years because of our limited quar- 
ters. Thousands have been turned from our doors be- 
cause we could not receive them for lack of room. 

The spiritual part of this work is one of the leading 
features, all of the workers being Christian people. The 
hospital itself is a great mission field. There have been 
a great many conversions as the months and years have 
gone b}'. 

The new building is now begun, the site paid for and 
about half enough for a $110,000 building. Of the first 

514 History of Nebraska Methodism, 

workers who came thirteen years ago, two of ns yet re- 
main, Miss Jennie Cavanaugh and myself." 

While under Methodist auspices, its beneficence is not 
confined to Methodist people, as will be seen by the fol- 
lowing figures of a year's work, as appears from the an 
nual report for 1901-02: No Church, 235; Methodist, 
231 ; all other denominations, including sixty-three Cath- 
olics, 420. 

Besides the nursing in the hospital, involved in the 
care of these patients, these nurses spent 26,872 hours 
in nursing patients outside of the hospital. 

On the lines of spiritual work they have visiting dea- 
conesses, and many of our pastors will bear cheerful wit- 
ness to their helpfulness in revival-meetings, and other 
forms of work. 

Their staff of physicians and surgeons include some 
of the most skillful in the country. Their names are : 
Harold Gififord, A. F. Jonas, J. C. Moore, W. O. Bridges, 
W. S. Gibbs, H. M. McClanahan, J. M. Aikin, R. S. 
Anglin, O. S. Hoffman, W. K. Yeakel, D. A. Foote, S. 
J. Ouimby, and Mrs. Freeda M. Lankton. 

mothers' jewels home. 

Not only was the Church broadening the range of her 
activities and agencies so as to include the hospitals, but 
the same generous impulse led her to take steps to pro- 
vide for homeless children. In this she shared a general 
movement in this direction which set in about this time 
which was not only the result of a charitable impulse, but 
the intelligent perception of an urgent need that such 
children should be cared for and nurtured under favorable 
influences, lest they grow up without any training, or 
what is worse, vicious training. 






5i6 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Moved by this impulse, Dr. W. L. Armstrong, 11. D., 
had already dedicated his one lumdred and sixty acre 
farm in Platte County, Nebraska, to that purpose, and 
had been caring for a few children as best he could. But 
the movement did not become very efficient, or command 
the support necessary to success. But Dr. Armstrong 
had his heart set on this noble project, and the Heavenly 
Father soon opened the way to much larger things. Coin- 
cident with this intense desire on the part of Dr. Arm- 
strong to do something along this line, there was a grow- 
ing conviction among the leaders of the Woman's Home 
Missionary Society that they ought to enter this field, 
and were already casting about for a suitable place to es- 
tablish a national orphanage. Just at this juncture Mrs. 
Spurlock, who had been elected a delegate to the meeting 
of the National Board of Managers, who were to act on 
this matter at their next meeting, proposed to Dr. Arm- 
strong that he join forces with the Woman's Home Mis- 
sionary Society and that they work together for the ob- 
ject that had come to be so dear to both. To this he 
readily consented, and with this leverage, Mrs. Spurlock's 
earnest and eloquent plea won the day, and it was decided 
by the Board of Managers to locate their institution in 
Nebraska, and soon after that York was selected as the 
site. Dr. Armstrong giving his $3,000 farm and the 
York people adding $7,000, a fine farm of 160 acres ad- 
jacent to the city of York, worth then $10,000, was pur- 
chased and the Mothers' Jewels Home began its benefi- 
cent career. 

As seemed most fitting, good Dr. Armstrong was 
placed in charge, but he was already growing old and 
enfeebled by ill-health, and soon found the work too hard, 

History of Nebraska ]\Ietiiodism. 


and retired. His heart was saddened by the fact that by 
reason of unlooked-for financial embarrassment his, as 
he supposed, munificent gift, proved rather a financial 
burden to the society. To help him in his time of ex- 
treme need they paid him $900 besides paying off a mort- 
gage on his farm. But his intentions were good and Dr. 
Armstrong is none the less noble and is to be none the 
less honored because of these troubles. 

It was thus this beneficent institution came into be- 

Mr. Burwell 

Mrs. Isabella 

ing, for which the Woman's Home Missionary Society 
of the Methodist Church becomes sponsor. While 
national in this regard, and in the scope of its operations, 
yet being located in the center of Nebraska's population, 
its beneficent results must accrue more largely to Ne- 
braska than to any other State, and specially concerns 
Nebraska Methodism. Besides, the two to whose care 
it was intrusted, after Dr. Armstrong was compelled to 
retire, have been identified with Nebraska Methodism 
from its very beginning. Burwell Spurlock came to Ne- 

5i8 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

braska in 1855, settling in Plattsmonth, and, as we have 
seen, was among" the members of the first class organ- 
ized 'there. He was one of the first Methodists the writer 
got acquainted with when he landed in Nebraska in 1865, 
and he has known him well ever since. He found him 
busy in Church work, and has never known him to be 
otherwise. His pure life, good business qualifications, 
and kind-hearted instincts, make him an ideal superin- 
tendent. Mrs. Spurlock came to Nebraska still earlier 
than Burwell, coming with her parents in 1854. She 
was among those who formed the class organized in the 
Morris settlement, which we have seen was the first ever 
formed in Nebraska. She, too, has the qualities of re- 
finement, culture, and motherly instincts that fit her for 
the place of assistant superintendent. We may be sure 
that the institution over which these two preside will be 
speedily transformed into a real home to the little folks 
under their care, and it is not surprising that the waifs 
soon trustfully and affectionately call them "Uncle Bur- 
well" and "Auntie Spurlock." 

Mrs. Spurlock, before entering upon her present work 
was identified with the Woman's Christian Temperance 
Union -work in the early seventies, and in 1875 was sec- 
retary of the convention that effected the State organiza- 
tion of that society. She was the first delegate elected to 
the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union Con- 
vention at the time when Miss Willard was the unchal- 
lenged leader of that organization, and was destined to 
become recognized as the chief of womankind through- 
out the world. The following letter in answer to one writ- 
ten by Mrs. Spurlock, shows the high regard in which 
Sister Spurlock was held by this queenly woman : 

History of Nebraska Methodism, 519 

"Dearest Friend, — Your letter is the nicest one we 
have yet, and carries me back to the early days of the 
dear 'Old National,' when you and I worked together. 
I can not tell you how I have regretted that we have not 
done so from that day to this, and yet it was perhaps 
largely a regret of sentiment because of the congeniality 
I felt in you, for so far as accomplishing a blessed work 
in the world, you have certainly done so. Please thank 
your good husband for me that he chose the Signal, and 
may you both be blessed in your own precious work as 
you have helped ours by generous gift and glowing 
words. Believe me, always your sister in heart, 

"Frances E. Wielard."" 

While the Mothers' Jewels Home is thus closely iden- 
tified with Nebraska Methodism, it is yet national and 
cosmopolitan in the range of its beneficence, admitting 
homeless children of all races and nationalities. Some 
have come from many of the States, and two from far- 
off Alaska, while there have been two from India, and 
two Arabian children. 

The work is carried along two lines : The finding of 
Christian homes for as many as possible, and the mak- 
ing of a home for such as can not be provided for in 
that way. 

Those seeking children are particular that they come 
of good stock, are strong and healthy, and the girls must 
be handsome. Brother and Sister Spurlock are also very 
particular about the homes they put their "children" in. 
It is not every Christian home even that will do, so there 
are alwa3^s quite a number to be cared for and these are 
the ones less robust in health and less promising men- 
tally and morally. 

520 History oi^ Nebraska Methodism. 

There is a regular school imparting instruction from 
the first to sixth g-rade, besides lessons in sewing, house- 
work, farming, and other employments. 

But we may be sure that the moral and spiritual in- 
terests of these children are duly cared for. Family 
prayers, services each Sabbath afternoon, and attendance 
at the Church service in town, but chiefly through the 
influence of these pious, tactful superintendents, are 
some of the ways by which the supreme culture is 

Besides the general officers of the society, with Mrs. 
General Clinton B. Fisk at the head, the oversight of 
this "Home" is committed to an Advisory Board of ten 
elect ladies, including the following well-known names 
of those who represent the Nebraska Conference : Mrs. 
M. E. Roberts, Mrs. John A. Van Anda, and Mrs. 
Erastus Smith. 

Perhaps the following letters, the first from a foster 
mother who has adopted one of these waifs, and the sec- 
ond an extract from one written by one of these waifs 
that has been adopted, will show even more clearly what 
is. being done than I can in any words of mine: 

"Dear Mrs. Spurlock, — Your letter received some 
time ago, and really, should have been answered sooner, 
for I know if you get time from so many other little ones 
to think of Helene you must feel uneasy at our long 
silence. I do not think she has seen a homesick day since 
she came, and she is altogether lovable and lovely. She 
goes to school every day and is perfectly happy. She 
says, 'Tell Auntie Spurlock that we love each other ten 
times better than we did at first.' What more can I say 
about her only that we all love her and she does us. And, 

History of Nebraska jMethodism. 521 

now, dear Airs. Spurlock, I will close with best wishes 
for you and yours, I am yours sincerely, 

"Mrs. W. E. Hadley." 

From a little girl twelve years old : 

"Dear Auntie Spurlock, — I have been thinking I 
would write to you for a long time. I have been here 
over a year. I like my home very, very, very much, they 
are all so good to me. I go to school and read in the 
fifth reader. I like my teacher very much, you saw her 
when you were here. Aunt Julia thinks everything of 
the little girl ypu gave her, Ruby Viola. Ruby comes 
and sees me and then I go and see her. I have such a 
pretty hat for summer, it is white leghorn, and is trimmed 
with pink roses and pink ribbon. Aunt Julia got Ruby 
a white leghorn hat, too. Hers is trimmed with blue 
ribbon and blue flowers." 

Many loving hearts and willing hands have wrought 
in this blessed work. Among these it is fitting that a 
daughter of the late Dr. W. B. Slaughter, who has been 
mentioned frequently in these pages, ]\Irs. Hattie Haw- 
ver, is now rendering valuable assistance in collecting 
funds for a new building 


Up to 1880, little had been done for our young peo- 
ple aside from the Sunday-school and the Chautauqua 
Circles. The idea of the latter had some years before 
the beginning of this period been born in the heart and 
the brain of that Sunday-school genius, John H. Vincent, 
and in many of the Churches of our own and other de- 
nominations, Chautauqua Circles had been formed, and 

522 History of Nkbraska Methodism. 

Chautauqua Assemblies had sprung up everywhere. 
While the religious element was present in this move- 
ment, its predominant feature seemed to be more intel- 
lectual, and though of great value was deemed inade- 
quate to accomplish all that was needed to be done for 
the young people of the Church. The recognition and 
feeling of this need seemed to rise spontaneously in all 
the Churches, but Rev. F. E. Clark, of the Congrega- 
tional Church was the first to give .practical form to the 
wish by starting the Christian Endeavor organization. 
It was intended at first that this should be a great inter- 
denominational affair, and there should be but one great 
Young People's Society. This idea seemed to take well 
for awhile, but it soon became apparent that it did not 
work well for our young people, and in the early eighties, 
a number of Young People's organizations sprung up in 
our Church. This did not work well, either, and the 
clashing of conflicting claims soon gave rise to a strong 
desire among the leaders to combine all in one, and this 
was effected in May, 1887, at what is now called Ep- 
worth Church, Cleveland, Ohio. 

After this the development in Nebraska, as elsewhere, 
was very rapid, and there is now scarcely a Methodist 
Church in Nebraska without its Epworth League, with 
its inspiring motto, "Look up. Lift up." Many of these 
are vigorous, and tend greatly to promote intelligent 
piety among our young people. 

While in 1880 there was not a single distinctive re- 
ligious Young People's organization, outside of its Sun- 
day-school, there are now in the State about sixteen 
thousand members of the Epworth League. We have to 
say "about" for the West and Northwest Nebraska Con- 
ferences do not report their Leagues. There is not to 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 


exceed one in ten of the circuits and stations where there 
is not a League organized. These Leagues, besides hold- 
ing their local devotional, social, and business meetings, 
have held enthusiastic district. Conference, and State 
conventions, at which topics relating to their work have 
been discussed, and plans of work made. 

Without doubt the most striking evidence of the zeal 
and ability to bring things to pass of Nebraska's younger 
Methodism is 

fovmd in the Ne- 
braska Epworth 

Founded by 
the Nebraska 
Conference Ep- 
worth League 
upon recommend- 
ation of Presi- 
dent L. O. Jones, 
in 1896 the first 
session was held 
at Lincoln Park, 
in August, 1897, 
and was admitted 
by all to be a 
phenomenal suc- 
cess. Seven annual sessions have been held, each being 
greater in attendance and interest than its predecessor. 
The Assembly Camp has been a marvel to all who have 
seen it. Three thousand people, in round numbers, have 
each year spent tlie Assembly period in tents upon the 

L. O. Jones. 

524 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Many widely noted and world famous men and women 
have been heard from time to time from the Assembly 
platform, including such well-known names as Bishops 
Bowman, McCabe, Ninde, Thoburn, Hamilton, Cranston, 
Joyce, and Galloway ; General Secretaries Schell and 
Berry ; Reverends Sam Jones, Frank Gunsaulus, Abram 
Palmer, Thirkield, McDowell, Eaton, Parkhurst, Nichol- 
son, Driver, Mclntyre ; Generals O. O. Howard and Fitz- 
hugh Lee ; Colonel Bain, and Mrs. Ballington Booth, and 
many others. 

This was the first of the summer Assemblies to adopt 
and maintain a distinct and pronounced evangelistic fea- 
ture in the annual program. 

The annual gross income of the Assembly has been 
about $10,000. In addition to paying all expenses, about 
$800 has been donated to worn-out preachers, and $1,000 
to the Nebraska Wesleyan, to aid in paying ofiP the debt 
of that institution. With the further accumulation of 
funds purchase was made of a beautiful tract of nearly 
forty acres adjoining I^incoln on the southwest, which 
was named Epworth Lake Park. Extensive improve- 
ments, including the building of the largest park audi- 
torium in the State, were made, and in which the sessions 
of the 1903 Assembly were held. 

The present officers are L. O. Jones, president; C. E. 
Sanderson, vice-president ; Elmer E. Lesh, secretary ; 
Rev. C. M. Shepherd, D. D., auditor; R. W. Kelly, 


Omaha, being 500 miles west of Chicago, where the 
Northwestern Christian Advocate was published, and over 
400 miles from St. Louis, where the Central was then 

History of Nebraska ^Methodism. 525 

published, was for many years regarded as the strateg- 
ical point where a branch of the Book Concern would be 
located, and another member of the Advocate family es- 
tablished. The writer attended a meeting in Council 
Bluffs in 1871, which had that object in view. Nothing 
tangible came of it until the Omaha Advocate entered the 

The origin of this enterprise dates back, according to 
Rev. W. G. Vessels, formerly of the West Nebraska Con- 
ference, to a paper called The Vanguard^, which he pub- 
lished, and which was changed to the Nebraska Christian 
Advocate, and after fifteen months was sold to Rev. Geo. 
S. Davis and became the Nebraska Methodist, which was 
published for one year at Hastings, Dr. George vS. 
Davis being editor, and Dr. L. F. Britt being associate 

It was then removed to University Place, where Davis 
continued to edit and publish it for two years. In 1890, 
Dr. J. W. Shenk bought an interest in it and the plant 
was removed to Omaha, the first issue of the paper from 
Omaha bearing date of August 9, 1890. On the first of 
the following January, Geo. S. Davis sold his interest to 
Dr. Shenk and was soon after appointed to the difficult 
and responsible position of superintendent of missions in 

Dr. Shenk now became sole editor and soon after sole 
owner of the paper. In 1892 the General Conference 
made the paper an official organ of that body and ap- 
pointed a publishing commission consisting of Bishop J. 
P. Newman, Dr. J. B. Maxfield, Dr. C. F. Creighton, Dr. 
J. W. Shenk, John Dale, Dr. B. L. Paine, and C. F. Wel- 
ler. This body operated under the name of the Methodist 

* Dr. Davis thinks a paper published by Geo. S. Alexander is 
entitled to be considered ihe first. 

526 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Publishing Company, but the commission refusing to be- 
come financially responsible for any obligations, the finan- 
cial burden fell upon the chief owner of the stock. Dr. J. 
W. Shenk, who was thus made the real publisher as well 
as editor, to which position he had been elected by the 
Commission. In 1896 the General Conference accepted 
the paper as a donation to the Church, and appropriated 
a subsidy of $3,000 a year to aid in its publication. Un- 
der the impetus thus given, the subscription list, which 
in 1890 consisted of 800 subscribers, when it came 10 
Omaha and had increased to 4,000 in 1896, went up to 
6,500, the largest subscription list of any subsidized paper 
in the Church. Under the arrangement Curts and Jen- 
nings were the nominal publishers, but the editor, Rev. 
Dr. J. W. Shenk, who had been elected by the Book Com- 
mittee, was made solely responsible for the financial as 
well as the editorial management. 

In the fall of 1899 a movement toward consolidation 
of our Advocates was inaugurated by the Kansas Con- 
ference, and a memorial was sent up to the General Con- 
■ference to that end. It resulted in the consolidation of 
the Omaha Christian Advocate, the Rocky Mountain 
Christian Advocate, and the Central Christian Advocate, 
and the place of publication was removed to Kansas City, 
Missouri, together with the removal of the IMethodist 
Book Depository from St. Louis to that city. By this 
means a large list of subscribers was transferred from 
the Omaha Christian Advocate to the Cential Christian 
Advocate. At the time of the consolidation the sub- 
scription list of the Omaha Christian Advocate was in- 
creasing rapidly. 

History oi-* Nebraska Methodism. 527 


The fourth period has witnessed a marked develop- 
ment of the evangeUstic form of Church work, and 
brought into the field a large number of professional 
evangelists, or men and women who have felt themselves 
called to that work. This has been attributed by some to 
the want of spirituality in the pastorate, and lack of old- 
time spiritual power in the Church generally. But this 
is an erroneous view and does injustice to a noble class 
of men who are burdened with the care of increasingly 
large Churches, witli a complex machinery that calls for 
the same degree of devotion and sometimes more of care 
than the fathers knew. Their very success in building up 
strong Churches has brought about these changed condi- 
tions to which Methodism is adjusting herself. This 
readiness to adopt new methods in the accomplishment of 
her soul-saving, soul-nurturing mission, has been char- 
acteristic of our Church from the first, and one of the 
sources of her power. To her it is not means and methods 
that are sacred and fundamental, but the end, which is 
the salvation of men and building them up into strong, 
clean characters. She is ready to discard the old methods 
whenever new ones seem better adapted to that great 

In common with other Churches everywhere, Ne- 
braska Methodism has in the last twenty-five years in- 
troduced into the local Church much additional machin- 
ery, which with what we already had, makes the Church 
a much more complex organism than, our fathers served. 
It would be difficult to mention any feature of that ma- 
chinery that we would care to leave out. Certainly not 
the Sunday-school nor Epworth League or Ladies' Aid 

528 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

•or the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society, Or Woman's 
Home Missionary Society. But these impose a new and 
difficult task on the modern pastor, and call for equip- 
ments other than those which give a man success as a re- 
vivalist. He must also have executive ability and these 
two are not always found in the same man. While no 
Methodist preacher has a right to be satisfied with him- 
self if he has not the old-time passion for lost souls ; or 
with his work, unless blessed with some seals to his min- 
istry, still he may not have the natural qualification for re- 
vival work that the Church needs. What then ? As in 
the industrial world the more complex conditions have 
made the principle of the division of labor necessary, 
may not the more complex organizatiop of the Church 
operate the same way, and the pastor with these other 
cares and responsibilities, call to his aid some man of 
God who has been specially equipped for this work ? Thus 
it seems to the writer. 

But, however we may account for it or justify it, there 
has been a great growth of this idea and method, and 
there has spontaneously arisen a great army of evangel- 
ists. While many of these have been God-called and 
very useful, others have been self-constituted, fanatical, 
or worse, and very harmful. In view of these things, our 
Church has wisely recognized the evangelist class of 
workers and provided a place in our system for the same. 
Any Conference may request the appointment of one or 
more of its members to this special work, and under cer- 
tain restrictions, the local Churches may employ these 
and others to assist their pastor. 

Some of these evangelists whom God has honored 
with His presence and power, and whose labors have been 

History of Nebraska AIethodism. 529 

a blessing to the Church, should be mentioned. We have 
seen how good Robert Laing has given over forty years 
to that work in Nebraska, and thousands of souls have 
been saved. 

N. L. Hoopengarner, of the Nebraska Conference, 
entered the field as an evangelist in the later eighties and 
was eminently successful. He conducted a union revival 
at Neligh during Dr. Wm. Gorst's pastorate, resulting in 
some sixty accessions to the Methodist Church and many 
to others. The same year he had charge of the evangel- 
istic services of the Neligh District Camp-meeting, at 
which about one hundred were converted. 

H. L. Powers, D. D., entered the North Nebraska 
Conference in the early eighties, being transferred from 
the ^Missouri Conference. After filling a number of im- 
portant pastorates, among them Tekamah, Columbus, and 
Trinity, Grand Island, he felt called to the evangelistic 
field, in which he has been very successful. His earnest, 
not to say vehement, style of oratory, emphasizing the 
depth of his conviction that what he says is truth of tre- 
mendous import, seems well suited to his chosen work. 
His Bible readings are also very helpful. Brother Powers 
is now Conference evangelist and resides in Lincoln. 

D. W. McGregor is another one of our safe, success- 
ful evangelists, who, up to last year, had been appointed 
as North Nebraska Conference evangelist, and has been 
the means of bringing many into the kingdom. He re- 
entered the pastoral work at the last Conference. 

Aliss Mae Phillips has been one of our most success- 
ful evangelists, and on the Neligh District and in many 
other places, many think of her as the chosen instrument 
by which they have been led to the better life.' 

530 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Others have entered the field later whose labors have 
been blessed of the Lord. Dr. B. L. Paine, of Lincoln, 
has been very successful. F. A. Campbell, W. H. Pres- 
cott, and L. F. Smith are now under appointment as Con- 
ference evangelists for the Nebraska Conference, and are 
vigorously pushing the battle along that line. 


In all moral reforms, Methodism has been at the fore- 
front. This is specially true of the temperance reform 
that has been most prominent during the half century. 
At the first Conference in i86i the report on tem- 
perance has these ringing words in the following reso- 
lution : 

"Resolved, First, That if it was ever necessary to op- 
pose an unbroken front to this evil, now is the time. Sec- 
ond, that a prohibition law would give force and vigor, 
edge and point to moral suasion. Third, that at each ot 
our appointments during the coming Conference year, 
we will preach at least once on this subject." 

Though substantially the same attitude has been re- 
affirmed at every Conference since, no subsequent expres- 
sion on this subject has shown a more advanced position 
regarding the two main phases of the reform, being total 
abstinence for the individual and absolute prohibition of 
the traffic. Here is one point where Nebraska Methodism 
will not be able to grow, but will have many opportunities 
to show her colors in more tangible ways than by resolu- 
tions. It may be safely affirmed that whenever the lines 
have been clearly drawn, as they were in 1890, during the 
amendment campaign, Methodism has borne the brunt of 
the battle. No Church put in a larger percentage of votes 
for the amendment. Indeed it mav be said it was unani- 

History of Nebraska ]\Iethodism. 531 

mous. And at the present time, what seems to be one of 
the most aggressive fornis of the temperance reform, the 
Anti-Saloon League, very fittingly has at the head of it 
an able, aggressive Methodist preacher, in the person of 
Rev. J. B. Cams, D. D. 


It is greatly to the credit of the entire ^lethodism of 
Nebraska in general, and to the leaders of St. Paul's 
Church in Lincoln in particular, that in that Church, in 
the spring of 1887, the agitation which in twelve years 
issued in the admission of women into the General Con- 
ference, had its origin. The two women whose fertile 
brains first conceived the thought, and broached the sub- 
ject to the other ladies of the Church on the occasion of 
the dedication of the dining-room of the Church, were 
Miss Phebe Elliott and Airs. Franc R. Elliott. Both 
these elect ladies, as might be readily supposed, were of 
superior intelligence and force of character. The former 
is the daughter of that famous educator and champion of 
co-education, Rev. Charles Elliott, D. D., president of 
Wesleyan University at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and editor ot 
the Western Christian Advocate. In answer to a ques- 
tion as to how the thought took shape in her mind, she 
says that it must have risen spontaneously and naturally 
out of those lessons of her girlhood, that came from her 
father's teaching of the absolute equality of the sexes in 
all that relates to mind, morals, and religion, and the 
rights growing out of this. JMiss Phebe made her home 
with her sister-in-law, and the subject was a matter of 
frequent discussion, Mr. Elliott being in hearty sympathy 
with the ladies. 

532 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

About this time Bishop Bowman visited Lincoln, and 
when asked as to the eUgibility of women for member- 
ship in the General Conference, seemed to be of the opin- 
ion, that being eligible to a seat in Quarterly Conferences 
and Lay Electoral Conferences, nothing could keep them 
out of the General Conference, if they could get the votes 
to elect them. This seemed so rational, that they were 
encouraged to go forward, and broach the matter to the 
ladies of the Church on the occasion of the dedication re- 
ferred to. "That was an earnest meeting composed of 
responsive, intelligent women — a more choice coterie it 
would be hard to find in any community than were these 
women of St. Paul's in the prosperous town of Lincoln in 
the eighties." 

These two elect ladies who gave the initiative to the 
movement were at once joined by such women as Mrs. M. 
E. Roberts, Mrs. Angle F. Newanan, and others, and 
the result of their agitation was the election at the next 
session of the Nebraska Conference of Mrs. Angle F. 
Newman, the first woman ever elected to the General Con- 

But by extensive correspondence, these women ex- 
tended their propaganda to other Conferences, and the 
result was the election by the great Rock River Confer- 
ence of that greatest woman of her age, Frances E. Wil- 
lard, as one of the lay delegates; then Mrs. Mary C. 
Nind, from the Minnesota Conference, and five others 
from different sections. 

We know the result. When the Methodist Church 
saw eight such women, some of them the peers of any 
lay delegate on the floor of the General Conference, and 
one at least the peer of any bishop, representing two-thirds 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 533 

of the membership of the Church, knocking at the door 
of the General Conference, it was never possible after- 
ward to convince that Church that there was any sufil- 
cient reason for shutting them out, and it was impossible 
to stop the movement till the womanhood of the Church 
were conceded their rights and triumphantly seated in 
the General Conference. 

Mrs. M. E. Roberts, one of those who took part in 
the original movement, and who at the Lay Electoral 
Conference in 1887, nominated Mrs. Newman for the 
place, was herself elected at the last Nebraska Confer- 
ence. There is not only a sort of poetic justice in this, but 
it is an honor w^ell won and worthily bestowed. 


FOURTH PERIOD. (1880-1904.) 

During this last period all but two, Burch and Adri- 
ance, who bore a conspicuous part in the fifties and six- 
ties, have CTone to their reward. 

In 1883, A. G. White, the indomitable leader whom 
no calamity could daunt, passed away in the prime of life. 

In 1884 the pushing, energetic Van Doozer was sum- 
moned with startling suddenness, but was found ready, 
for he had "fought a good fight and finished his course." 

In i8go. T. B. Lemon, "like a shock of corn ripe for 
the garner," is gathered home. 

Of these three suitable mention has already been 
made. It will now be fitting, as we stand at the graves 
of these two fallen leaders, Maxfield and Davis, to note 
more fully some phases of their later work, and of the 
great qualities that made them leaders, as observed by 
their comrades on the field of battle. Dr. Maxfield was 
the first of these two to hear the summons. 

During the last period the Church has found much ini- 
])ortant work for this strong man. We find him, at the 
beginning of the period, in 1880, in charge of one of the 
two most important charges in the State, First Church, 
Omaha. He is again called to district work in 1881. be- 
coming presiding elder of the Omaha District. Then 
when the North Nebraska Conference established her in- 
stitution of learning at Central City, none seemed so 
well qualified to superintend the organization of this 


History of Nebraska Methodism. 535 

school, and throiigli his influence and abiUty rally tlic 
forces to its support, as J. B. Maxfield, and accordingly 
he was elected president. 

But the task involved much excessively hard work, and 
there was in the nature of such an undertaking much of 
care, and not a little that would worry and annoy even 
this usually self-poised man, and many of us who watched 
him during the three years of incumbency, are not sur- 
prised that even his seemingly robust frame could not 
stand the strain, and required him to relinquish the work. 
But this did not occur till his constitution was shattered. 
Though he will yet put in twelve years of efifective work, 
serving full terms on the Norfolk and Omaha Districts, 
the beginning of the end may be traced to his work at' 
Central City. 

John B. Maxfield was spared, and his usefulness con- 
tinued till he saw the band who constituted the first Ne- 
braska Conference, which he joined on trial in 1861, in- 
crease through the years, till there are four Conferences, 
any one of which is larger than the Conference he joined, 
and the Church well organized in all parts of the State. 
It must have been a source of very great satisfaction to 
him to have contemplated these grand results, and be con- 
scious that he had borne no small share in bringing all 
this to pass. He closes his life with a sense of well- 
rounded completeness, his work all done, when at last the 
summons came, as it did on the nth of September, 1900. 
Mrs. Maxfield, who had ministered to his comfort during 
his long and painful illness, was at his bedside at Boulder, 
Colorado, seeking by all possible means to prolong that 
precious life, writes me that a "beautiful smile came over 
his face as he died." 

536 History or Nebraska Methodism. 

I have already had much to say about Dr. Maxfield hi 
the course of this history, but will add what his brethren 
of the North Nebraska Conference have to say of their 
fallen leader. At the memorial service Dr. Ilodgetts 
speaks of his preaching, saying: "I remember well the 
first time I heard him preach, when I was fresh from the 
East, where I had lived among the great preachers of 
the Church. I can say honestly and frankly I thought I 
never heard the equal of that man as a preacher of Jesus 
Christ. Some of my friends who came out shortly after- 
ward and heard him, said about the same. Wherever I 
went I heard the same story. Everybody conceded he 
was a prince among preachers." 

And his brethren officially place on record the follow- 
ing estimate of his worth : 

"His great intellectual power, which enabled him to 
see clearly, grasp easily and strongly the fundamental 
truths of the Gospel, his marvelous command of language 
which enabled him to give most clear and forceful ex- 
pression to his thoughts, and his warm and sympathetic 
nature constituted John B. Maxfield a great pulpit orator, 
ranking among the best in the entire Church. 

"His quick perception of what ought to be done in 
emergencies, his sound judgment in alTairs of public in- 
terest in Church and State, with his decision of character 
made him alwa3's a leader among men. 

"His genial qualities of heart and his commanding 
power of intellect made him seem equally at home in the 
humblest Quarterly Conference on a frontier charge, or 
on the floor of the General Conference of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church. No one has done more, and few have 
done as much for Methodism in Nebraska as Dr. J. B. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 537 

Maxfield. His Christian character was absokitely free 
from all cant or mere perfunctoriness, but was alwa)s 
genuine and hearty. He stood out boldly for righteous- 
ness under all circumstances, and was never known to 
fear any man." 

Instead of being present at the last session of his Con- 
ference and answering to roll call as he had done at every 
session since it was organized in 1861, H. T. Davis was, 
during the session, on September 18, 1903, transferred 
from the Church militant to the Church triumphant, and 
will henceforth answer to the roll call of the redeemed. 
It is his distinguished privilege to have given more years 
of effective service to the cause of Christ in Nebraska 
than any other Methodist preacher, remaining in the ef- 
fective ranks without a break, from June, 1858, to Sep- 
tember, 1 90 1, when he asked and received a superan- 
nuated relation. But he continued to do evangelistic 
work, aiding some of the pastors in revival-meetings dur- 
ing the following year, and thus it may be said, he gave 
forty-four years to active work in Nebraska, out of a total 
of forty-five during which he resided in the State. 

And such years, every one crowded with some form 
of service that made the world richer, and was a benedic- 
tion to thousands. 

Of the great triumvirate, Davis, Lemon, Maxfield, 
naming them in the order in which they entered this field, 
he is the first to have entered the service in Nebraska, 
and was the last to be mustered out. 

Much of the biography of each of these great leaders 
has appeared in preceding pages of this narrative. It 
could not be otherwise. I have not been able and have 
not tried to keep the history of the Church and the lives 

538 History oi^ Nebraska Methodism. 

of these men separate. The web and woof of this history 
has been largely what these men, and hundreds of others 
of like spirit, were, and what they did, the great Head 
of the Church employing them as His agents in the work. 

The following memoir and words spoken by friends at 
the memorial service, held September 21, 1903, must 
close this imperfect earthly record of this man of God. 
The only perfect record of the lives of such men is the 
one kept by the recording angel, and may be read in the 
great hereafter: 

"Henry T. Davis was born July 19. 1833, in Spring- 
field, Ohio. He was 'born again,' 'from above,' March 
4, 1853, in South Bend, Indiana, and almost immediately 
after his conversion came the call to preach. He was 
licensed as an exhorter when received into full fellow- 
ship in the Church, and June 23, 1855, received his li- 
cense to preach from the Greencastle (Indiana) Quarterly 
Conference, being then a student at Asbury University. 
The following October he was received as a probationer 
into the Northwest Indiana Conference and appointed 
junior preacher upon Russell ville Circuit. On September 
17, 1857, Emily McCulloch, of Virgo County, Indiana, 
became his wife, and after forty-six years of beautiful and 
loving union, she and their three daughters sit together 
in hope lighted shadows. 

"October 4, 1857, Bishop Waugh ordained Brother 
Davis a deacon. In 1858 he transferred to the Kansas- 
Nebraska Conference, and received as his first work in 
Nebraska, appointment to Bellevue. In the division of 
the Kansas and Nebraska Conference he identified himself 
with the Nebraska Conference, at the organization of 
which, April 4, 1861, he became a charter member. His 

History of Nebraska ^Methodism. 539 

subsequent ministerial activities have been within the 
bounds of this Conference. The confidence reposed in 
hiiii by his superiors in authority is indicated by his hav- 
ing served seven terms as presiding elder, and the es- 
teem of his brethren in -the Conference by their choice of 
him to represent them in the General Conference four 
times. He was also honored by the Nebraska W'esleyan 
University with the honorary degree of Doctor of Divin- 
ity. During the session of Conference, which met at 
Lincoln, his home city, September 18, 1903. he came 
triumphantly to the end of his earthl}- sojourn, and his 
brethren in the ministry laid the precious deserted dust to 
rest in Wyuka Cemetery, September 21, 1903. 

"Brother Davis excelled as a preacher. Much and 
faithful study of the 'Word' and of such other literature 
as w^as really helpful sidelights for its interpretation, il- 
lustrative for its application, furnished him always with 
the subject matter for sermons. And his own deep and 
fervid religious experience always afforded the fire to 
make those sermons effective with men. A multitude are 
they — God's seal to his ministry. 

"He was also especially acceptable as a pastor. Nat- 
urally cheerful, genial, loving of disposition, and, with 
the iMaster Spirit of Ministries upon him. he was always 
a w^elcome comer. And his wise counsels, his tender sym- 
pathies, his fervent prayers left a sense of benediction 
when he had gone. He was beloved by well-nigh every 
one, and his memory will be precious." 

Fletcher L. Wharton spoke tenderly: "The impres- 
sion left upon me in the first short interview I had with 
Dr. Davis, was deep, and it grew deeper. I had a pro- 
found conviction that I had met a Christian gentleman. 

540 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

He was a gentleman, therefore a good man. He was a 
Christian man, therefore a strong man. Somehow he put 
me upon my honor, in the confidence he put in me as a 
presiding elder, to be a true, faithful man in the ministry 
of the ^Methodist Episcopal Church. In the last days his 
countenance pale and wan, seemed to radiate the great 
peace of God. He made it easier for the people of this 
State to be good, to believe in God the Father, and to 
pray. Everywhere, on the prairie, in the dugout, he had 
the same message, 'God so loved the world that he gave 
his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him 
might not perish, but have everlasting life.' The King 
has gone to his coronation. He stands on the hills in the 
sunlight eternal." Dr. Wharton closed his address with 
a fine expression concerning Mrs. Davis and her family. 
Hiram Burch, who for so many years stood with Dr. 
Davis at the head of the Conference roll, spoke next. "I 
pay my tribute with mingled sorrow and joy. The per- 
sonal loss of a friend and brother, the greater loss of the 
Church and society, causes sorrow. There is joy in the 
recollection of the past, of good actions, of Christian life 
and labors. Remember that the influence of that life and 
labors does not cease at the grave — but will go on in ever 
widening circles as the years go on. I am glad of that. 
Brother Davis was a great preacher, because he preached 
the Gospel. There was a Christian character and a blame- 
less life, and love, behind his sermons. He excelled as a 
pastor. His cheery, genial sunshiny disposition made 
him a welcome visitor in the homes of the people. Ke 
was not only an acceptable visitor but a useful visitor. 
He is gone from us, but his memory remains with us and 
we shall cherish it as a treasure. We shall miss him in 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 541 

the counsels of the Church, in the Conferences, but his 
record is on high. Knowing his life for more than forty- 
four years, we are not surprised over his triumphant 

There are only two who came into work in the fifties 
who are still living ; Hiram Burch and Jacob Adriance. 
Of the latter I have already spoken quite fully. Of the 
former, though I have had frequent occasion to mention 
his work, justjce requires a few brief sentences in addi- 
tion to what has already been said. 

Hiram Burch has the distinction of having been con- 
nected with Nebraska ^Methodism since 1855, a longer 
period than any other Methodist preacher, either among 
the living or dead. While Brother Burch has not always 
been technically in the effective lists, being compelled to 
superannuate occasionally, and sustaining that relation 
now, there has been no time that he has not been active. 
Even while he was a superannuate he served charges as 
a supply and preached nearly every Sunday. He preaches 
occasionally even yet. and is a constant attendant on the 
means of grace. 

Another fact that distinguishes him is that he built 
the first church ever erected in Nebraska, in 1856, at Ne- 
braska City, and during those trying periods in the fifties 
and sixties, it was Burch that built more churches and 
parsonages than any one else. 

Hiram Burch was born in Canada, December 11, 1829, 
and converted when eleven years old, and at twenty-one 
experienced heart purity, and entered the ministry in 
1853, in Iowa, where he had gone from his home in Win- 
nebago, Illinois, for his health. He was employed, as a 
supply, being junior preacher on the Dubuque Circuit. 


542 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

His health not improving there, he went to Texas in 1854, 
partly in search of health, but seeing in the Church papers, 
Dr. Goode's call for young men, he reported to the super- 
intendent in May, 1855, and was among the first to be 
assigned a charge by that great leader, being sent to what 
was called Wolf Creek, in northern Kansas, extending 
west of St. Joseph, Missouri. That fall he was received 
on trial in the Iowa Conference and though appointed to 
Brownville, was, as before noted, changed to Nebraska 
City, and began that long and useful career in Nebraska, 
which lacks but a single year of being half a century in 

Brother Burch. though not having been advanced to 
the higher official positions in the Church, has been one 
of those steady, reliable, efficient workers who have a 
way of bringing things to pass. 

He served York College as financial agent, and at a 
critical time in the history of Nebraska VVesleyan, ren- 
dered valuable service in the same relation in turning the 
York patrons to that institution. 

He was united in marriage with Miss Mary Brisbin, 
October 11, 1855. They are living in University Place, 
respected and honored by all. 

John Gallagher appears in the Minutes for the first 
time thirty-two years ago, at the Conference of 1872, 
where he is received on trial and appointed junior 
preacher on the Mt. Pleasant Circuit. It is to his ad- 
vantage, that, like J. H. Presson, he has A. L. Folden for 
the senior preacher. 

Brother Gallagher has been a close student from the 
Deginning of his ministry, this studiousness not ceasing or 
even diminishing after he had finished his Conference 

History of Nebraska ^Methodism. 543 

course of study. He soon took up the course for the de- 
gree of Ph. D., which was conferred on him, after exam- 
ination. This degree may sometimes represent more of 
soUd learning than the honorary degree of D. D. 

But John Gallagher's standing in the Conference and 
the Church does not depend upon his degree, but upon 
his real ability as a preacher and his thoroughness as an 
administrator of the interests committed to him. He has 
been pastor of a number of important charges, among 
them Ashland, Weeping Water, Plattsmouth, Falls City, 
Tecumseh, Falls City a second time, Fairbury, Auburn, 
Seward, and Aurora, his present charge. 

In 1883 he was placed in charge of Hastings District. 
For several years he was secretary of the Nebraska Con- 
ference and was reserve delegate to the General Confer- 
ence in 1900, and delegate in 1904. He has for several 
years been the efficient secretary of the Nebraska Confer- 
ence Historical Society, and has aided the writer by the 
material his diligence has secured. He is now record- 
ing secretary of the Methodist Historical Society of Ne- 

Among those who came into the work in the later 
sixties was F. M. Esterbrook, who was received on trial 
in 1869. He has been one of the most useful pastors we 
have had, usually getting hold of his people so strongly 
that they very often kept him the full legal term. 
F. M. Esterbrook belonged to the class who, while doing 
much of the real work, reporting gains on every pastoral 
charge served, do not attain to the same prominence that 
others do who have done no more, or. perhaps not as much. 
But with scarcely a break, this man has moved steadily 
on in the "even tenor of his wav" for over a third of a 

544 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

century, cheerfully doing the work assigned him, always 
successful in some direction and to some extent, and some- 
times blessed with great revivals. At Peru, his first 
charge in Nebraska, there were eighty conversions. The 
next year, 1869, he was received on trial and sent to West 
Point, where he finds seven members, and after three 
years' service reports over eighty. He was popular, and 
everybody believed in BVancis M. Esterbrook. 

When, after the shameful abuse of their confidence 
by C. M. Ellin wood, the Board of Trustees of Wesleyan 
University felt that they must find a man for treasurer 
whom ever3'body could trust, selected Esterbrook and no 
words of mine could more clearly set forth the sterling 
worth of this man of God than this expression of confi- 
dence. He was retained in that position for several years, 
and would probably have been there yet but for the change 
of plan that took place when Dr. G. W. Isham was elected 
field secretary, and it was deemed best to combine the two 
offices in the interests of economy. 

The spirit of this man is shown in these words con- 
tained in a letter to the writer : "Thirty-five years seems 
a short time to work for my Master, but they have been 
filled with much sunshine, for truly the 'darkest cloud has 
a silver lining.' Do you ask me, have I regrets ? Yes, 
and no. I regret that I have not done more for His cause ; 
I see where I could have greatly improved if I had known 
all that I know now, but I have this comfort, that I did 
the best I could with the light I then had." 

Joseph Hile Presson was born in Ohio, and at an 
early age was taken by his parents to Illinois, where they 
resided a number of years. He was converted at a meet- 
ing held by his father, Harrison Presson. He enUsted 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 545 

in Company A, Fifty-fifth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer 
Infantry, and gave over three years to the service of his 
country, holding the responsible position of quartermas- 
ter's sergeant. He was in the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, 
Chickasaw Bayou, Champion Hills, Black River, Siege 
of Vicksburg, and Jackson, then marched from Mem- 
phis to Chattanooga, he was in battles of Missionary 
Ridge, Altoona, Big Shanta, Kenesaw Mountain, and 
also the battle around Atlanta. He was mustered out on 
the 30th day of September, 1864. and on the 23d of De- 
cember, of the same year, landed in Tecumseh, Nebraska, 
traveling from St. Joseph in a lumber wagon, a distance 
of no miles. 

Joseph H. Presson's ministerial career began in Ne- 
braska as early as 1867, when he was licensed to preach 
and recommended for admission into the traveling con- 
nection. He was, however, closing his first term as 
county clerk of Johnson County, and had consented to be 
a candidate for re-election, and felt under obligation to 
do so, and requested that his name be not presented at 
that Conference. 

At the close of his second term as county clerk he 
was appointed junior preacher under A. L. Folden. Two 
years before Folden had received him and the woman 
who was to become his wife, into the Church on proba- 
tion, and gave the promising young man license to ex- 
hort. Now this eminently successful preacher is to give 
Joseph H. Presson his first lessons in preaching the Gos- 
pel. They together traveled Tecumseh Circuit. They 
must travel 135 miles to reach all the eleven following 
appointments : Tecumseh, Sterling, Adams, Elk Creek, 
Crab Orchard, Vesta, Upper Spring Creek, Lower Spring 

546 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Creek, Illinois Settlement, Blodgets School-house, ancJ 
Hooker Creek. To-day there are eleven charg-es on the 
same ground. During the winter of that year they re- 
ceived III probationers. At the next Annual Conference, 
held in the spring of 1870, he was received on trial and 
returned for the same work as junior preacher under A. L. 
Folden. Success attended the work and during that, year 
the first church in Johnson County was built in Tecumseh. 
Brother Folden being a carpenter, did, with the help of 
his colleague, most of the work. 

For a third of a century, J. H. Presson has efficiently 
wrought in the Gospel ministry in Nebraska, being blessed 
at times with great revivals, and in every charge advanc- 
ing the interest of the Church. He is popular in Church 
and G. A. R. circles, and was elected chaplain of the 
House of Representatives of the Nebraska Legislature in 
1901, and of the Senate in 1903. He is still in his later 
prime and on his fourth year as pastor at Milford. 

Among the local preachers who have done splendid 
service were Robert Laing and John Dale. 

It was Robert Laing that in 1868 welcomed H, T. 
Davis to Nebraska, and it was in the Laing cabin in Sarpy 
County, that Davis preached his first sermon in Nebraska 
and began a ministry that v/as to continue forty-four 
years and be of untold blessing to thousands. Though 
remaining in the local ranks almost as long, Brother Laing 
has been serving the Church as local preacher and evangel- 
ist, and in the thirty-five years or more he has almost 
constantly given to the work, he estimated that not less 
than 10,000 souls have been saved. 

He was a very forceful preacher, tactful in managing 
a revival-meeting, could sing or pray or preach as occa- 
sion required. 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 547 

Haynes speaks thus of this successful local preacher: 
"Many of the protracted-meetings he conducted were 
continued from two to four weeks, each, and it has been 
estimated that an average of fifty had been converted each 
seven days. He claims not that such results were reached 
by his might or power, but by the Spirit of God. He 
ascribes as a great means of success his method of Bible 
reading. One interested person said to him, 'Brother 
Laing, I wish you would bequeath to me that Bible of 
yours ; I never heard such a Bible read before.' He in- 
sists upon the reading of the Word of God attentively, 
studiously, that there may be cultivated in the heart a 
deepening desire for a closer walk with God," 

Though not a member of the Conference, his brethren 
in regular work, many of whom he has helped, express 
their appreciation in the following memoir : "Rev. Rob- 
ert Laing, a deacon in our local ranks, did efficient service 
in our Church for about forty years in this State, he be- 
ing one of the earliest settlers in Nebraska. He departed 
this life full of faith in the saving power of God to the 
uttermost, aged sixty-nine years. He was a revivalist of 
great power ; many pastors can testify to his valuable 
evangelistic services in their pastoral charges." 

Sister Laing, to whom R.obert Laing was married in 
1854, and her father, have the distinction of being the 
first two persons who brought Church letters to Council 
Blufifs in 1852. They became members of the first Church 
formed in that place, by William Simpson. 

John Dale, another helpful local preacher, though a 
man of business, finds time, or takes time, to do the Lord's 
work. We have seen the prominent part he took in the 
founding and development of Hanscom Park Church. 

548 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

But he has been very helpful in many ways, in connection 
with the hospital and other enterprises, and every strug- 
gling Church has had a sympathetic, helpful friend in 
John Dale, and Omaha Methodism in general is in debt 
to him for years of efficient service. 

I have already in the course of this narrative spoken 
at some length of many others of our local brethren, 
gratefully recognizing their valuable services to the 
Church. All honor to the class of workers to which they 
belong, a class that has done much to make the history 
that I have been trying to record. 


FOURTH PERIOD. (1880- 1904.) 


The following bishops have presided at the Nebraska 
Conferences during- these fifty years : Morris, Simpson, 
Ames, Baker, Scott, Kingsley, Thomson, Janes, Clark, 
Andrews, Bowman, Gilbert Haven, Foster, Harris, War- 
ren, Merrill, Wiley, Alallalieu, Fowler, Hurst, Foss, Vin- 
cent, Goodsell, Walden, Newman, McCabe, Ninde, Fitz- 

Of these twenty-eight bishops there are none whose 
presence has not been influential for good. The very 
presence of these chief pastors has been a benediction to 
all, and especially to the younger members. These bishops 
have all been men of good ability, and by their addresses 
and counsel during Conference sessions, and the sermon 
on the Sabbath have made a deep impression for good. 
Under no other system do the people and preachers have 
the privilege of meeting and hearing from so many of 
the chief men of the Church, Some of these sermons 
have been the event of a lifetime with some of these 
preachers, as was that of Bishop Foster at Falls City in 
1876, which, after more than a quarter of a century, is 
still fresh in the memory of those of us who were per- 
mitted to hear it. 

It may be said that these have all been men of great 


550 History of Ne;braska Methodism. 

personal power and influence. But when you add to this 
the vast official power with which the Church has clothed 
them, by which they have the entire legal authority to de- 
termine the appointment of every member of Conference, 
and also those on trial, you have a factor that can not but 
be a power for good if wisely and conscientiously used. 
Though our bishops may be fallible and make mistakes, 
they have no motive for using this vast power otherwise 
than in the interest of the Church. 

At the four Nebraska Conferences of 1903 Bishop 
Andrews, in the exercise of this power, assigned over 350 
men to different places and positions. If we take 150, less 
than half this number, as the average number thus ap- 
pointed from year to year by the several presiding bishops, 
we have a total for the fifty years of 7,500 appointments 
made by these bishops, chiefly to pastorates and presiding 

How much of the success of these fifty years has been 
due to the wisdom and spirit in which these appointments 
have been made may not be in our power to determine. 
That much is due to this cause can not be doubted. 

Besides these regular services at the Conferences many 
of these bishops have aided on special occasions in dedi- 
cating churches, delivering lectures, and other like serv- 
ices. Two of them, Newman and McCabe, have been 
resident bishops in Omaha, and have been specially help- 
ful to the Churches in that city and others throughout the 
State. As elsewhere noted. Bishop Fowler may be said 
to be the father of our present educational institution and 
the splendid service of Bishop McCabe in helping to res- 
cue that institution from the burden of debt will not soon 
be forg-otten. 


1. William Gorst. 2. W. B. Alexander. 3. John Gallagher. 4. P. C. 

Johnson. 5. C. A. Mastin. 6. W. E. Hardaway. Wm. M. Wor- 

LEV. 8. L. F. Britt. q. J. W. Stewart. 


552 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

Nebraska Methodism will bear the test of compari- 
son with other sister Churches. For this purpose I have 
chosen the United States census religious statistics for 
1870 and 1890. I have chosen these two dates because 
this feature of the census does not appear before 1870, 
^and those for 1900 are not out yet. But as these cover 
the period of greatest growth in population and conse- 
quent need, and during the eighties, the greatest oppor- 
tunities for church-building and expansion in all direc- 
tions, the comparison for that period will serve as a sam- 
ple of what has been done during all periods of Nebraska 

The three items with which the census deals are the 
number of organizations, the number of churches, and the 
number of sittings these churches afford. Here Meth- 
odism is at a disadvantage in 1870 by reason of the fact 
that under our economy in our circuit system there are 
sometimes from two to five separate organizations com- 
bined in one and so reported, while with all the other de- 
nominations included in this comparison each such organ- 
ization is counted separately and so reported. So we 
should remember in reading these figures that to get at the 
real facts we should multiply the number of our organiza- 
tions in 1870 by three. But in 1890 the number 649 indi- 
cates that the census report conforms to the facts. The 
above caution, of course, does not apply to churches and 

Churches. Date. Organizations. Edifices. Sittings. 

Methodists, 1870 50 36 10,150 

Baptists, 1870 26 15 5,400 

Presbyterians, 1870 24 9 3.125 

Congregationalists, . . . 1870 10 7 2,050 

IvUtlierans, 1870 14 7 2,000 

History of Nebraska Methodism. 553 

Churches. Datt. Organizations. Edifices. Sittings. 

Episcopalians, 1870 15 12 3.500 

Catholics 1870 17 11 2,935 

Methodists, 1890 649 461 112,000 

Baptists 1890 230 164 36,500 

Presbyterians, . ... 1S90 228 155 34,900 

Congregationalists, . . 1890 172 144 32,000 

Lutherans, 1890 3S7 253 49.900 

Catholics, 1890 213 179 38.390 

This story of the fifty years of Methodism will prop- 
erly close with a brief summary of results and a glance at 
some of the causes of the success that is written on every 

These results may be divided into two classes, the 
visible and the invisible. (Note that all previous statis- 
tics, except German and Swedish, and those which fol- 
low, relate to our English-speaking work alone, the Ger- 
man-Swedish occurring elsewhere.) 

During the fifty years Nebraska Methodism has re- 
ceived from the Missionary Society to aid in supporting 
the men in the field the sum of $430,802. This was often 
the chief reliance of the frontier preacher, the one thing 
on which he could bank. Not infrequently it amounted to 
much more than the people were able to pay, and its ab- 
sence would have meant suffering if not starvation. 

To support her ministry during the entire fifty years 
Nebraska Methodism has promised, including salaries and 
house rent, a total of $4,817,420, and has paid a total of 
$4,367,283. This leaves her still in debt, according to or- 
dinary standards, to her ministers that have actually done 
her service these fifty years, to the amount of $450,137. 
It will be easy to reckon how far this would go if paid 

554 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

now to producing the $100,000 Conference Claimants' 
Fund proposed during this, her jubilee year. There 
should, however, be deducted from this balance still due 
the amount given to Conference claimants in fifty years, 
being $34,460. That still leaves us short in our account 
with the old veterans to the amount of $415,677. 

It is true that much of this deficit accrued during the 
first twenty-five years, before financial conditions becanie 
favorable and the Church became thoroughly organized 
so as to handle her financial afifairs efficiently. 

Of the $430,802 received from the Missionary Society 
in fifty years $285,283 have been returned by collections 
during that time. This leaves us $145,519 behind in our 
account with the Missionary Society. 

To the several other benevolent interests we have con- 
tributed during the half-century, or during the time they 
have been in existence, as follows : For Church Exten- 
sion, $42,204; Freedmen's Aid, $40,189; Tract, $5,619; 
Sunday-school Union, $6,434; Woman's Foreign \[\s- 
sionary Society, $77,332; Woman's Home Missionar\- 
Society, $52,752; Education, public collection, $134,230; 
Children's-day Fund, $12,955; Bible Society, $9,869; 
Methodist Hospital, $10,786. 

The total contributed to all the benevolences, not in- 
cluding Conference Claimants, General Conference ex- 
penses. Episcopal Fund, or "other" collections, $660,421. 

While doing this and paying preachers we have built 
574 churches, at a cost of $1,592,955, and 321 parsonages, 
at a cost of $330,525, besides the second and third 
churches and parsonages that have been erected in many 

While in the statistical tables the Conference Claim- 


I. F. M. SissoN. 2. Geo. I. Wright. 3. J. W. Shenk. 4. P. H. Eighmy. 

5. James Leonard. 6. D. K. Tindall. 7. Jesse W. Jennings. 

8. C. A. Hale. 9. Alfred Hodgetts. 10. C. C. Lasby. 

II. A. R. Julian. 12. A. C. Crosthwaite. 


556. History oi^ Nebraska Methodism. • 

ants" and Episcopal Funds, and the collection for General 
Conference expenses are included in the benevolences for 
convenience, neither of them are properly there, as their 
support is not a benevolence. 

These figures include only the Conference collections, 
and do not embrace all the amounts raised by subscrip- 
tions for college and seminary buildings, hospital, and 
other such institutions, though in a few cases some of 
these may have been reported. 

While these statistics for the entire period of fifty 
years have been carefully compiled, and we have reason 
to believe are substantially correct, they are not abso- 
lutely so. There are occasional errors in the Minutes as 
published, and there is no way of correcting them. But 
these errors are of such a nature that they are as likely 
to occur on one side as another, and in the course of fifty 
years tend to balance each other. 

It should be further explained that nearly all the 
benevolences have begun their existence since the begin- 
ning of Nebraska Methodism. This is true of Freedmen's 
Aid, which began after the war ; Church Extension began 
in the later sixties ; Woman's Foreign Missionary Society 
began in 1869, and Woman's Home Missionary Society 
in 1880. We had no institution of learning till 1880. Mis- 
sions and Bible Cause were about all there were at the 
first. So with the exception of Missions and Bible Cause, 
Tract, and Sunday-school work, these contributions for 
benevolences have all been made in the last twenty-five 
or thirty years. 

At the close of our half-century we find ourselves with 
393 full members of Conference and forty-three on trial. 
Of these, twenty-three are supernumerary and fifty-nine 

Bayard H. Paine. 2. George H. Hornby. 3. L. S. Feigenbaum. 
4. M. C. Hazen. 5. Wm. W. Haskell. 6. John N. Dryden. 7. W. H. 
Westover. 8. John A. Slater. 9. S. A. D. Henline. 10. John Davis. 
II. A. J. Anderson. 12. W. G. Olinger. 13. John J. Doty. 14. F. E. 
Sala. 15. John Dale. 16. E. H. Rogers. 
36 557 

558 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

superannuated. This leaves 311 effective, of whom four- 
teen are presiding elders, and forty are missionaries to 
the Territories or to foreign fields, or in some other special 
service, as Conference evangelists, or attending school. 
This leaves 257 effective preachers as pastors. 

We have, according to the Minutes of 1903, 51,697 
full members, and 3,354 probationers. These are divided 
into 399 different charges, with 257 effective members of 
Conference to man them, leaving 142 charges to be sup- 
plied otherwise. This is largely done with our reserve 
force of 158 local preachers, many of whom are in this 
way being tested before being presented to Conference 
for admission on trial. A few charges are supplied by 
supernumerary preachers, and some even by the super- 

There are very few of our 574 church buildings in 
which there is not at least one Gospel sermon preached 
each Sabbath, and in nearly all there are two sermons 
preached. It would not be far from the truth to say that 
there are 1,000 sermons preached in Nebraska by Meth- 
odist preachers every Sabbath day at the regular services, 
or 52,000 in the course of the year. Besides these there 
are probably not less than 5,000 preached at revivals and 

In the 690 Methodist Sunday-schools in the State 
there are not less than 3,000 teachers giving lessons every 
Sabbath from the Divine Word of God. If this is what 
Methodism is now doing in a single year, what a magnifi- 
cent aggregate of earnest, efficient effort must the entire 
half-century present ! 

Add to these the means of grace as found in the prayer 
and class meeting, and Epworth League devotional meet- 



T. D. King. 2. Mrs. M. D. Nickell. 3. A. F. Coon. 4. M. B. Rees. 

5. :\Irs. M. E. Roberts. 6. J. L. McBrien. 7. D. C. Fl;;mixg. 

8. Mrs. Angie F. Newman. 9. B. L. Paine. 10. John W. 

Balso.n'. II. N. R. Persinger. 12. Chas. a. Goss. 


560 History of Nebraska Methodism. 

ings, and we have some idea of the visible means by which 
Methodism has been and is now trying to do her part in 
evangeHzing the State, saving souls, and helping to make 
the world better. 

Some of the results of all these sermons, lessons, prayer 
and class meetings, together with her revivals, schools, 
hospitals, and other forms of Christian effort and helpful 
institutions, we have been able to placej^efore the eye in 
tangible form. 

But perhaps the best and most lasting results are the 
invisible. The truth lodged in the heart and growing 
secretly, bearing the rich fruitage of pure thoughts, high 
resolves, noble purposes, and these ultimating in strong- 
clean character and noble living. The word of sympathy 
that has inspired the wavering soul with new courage, 
brought hope to the despairing and stanched the tears of 
sorrow are results incapable of expression in language or 
statistics and must await the eternities for their full ex- 

Many of the agencies that brought about much of 
these results, both visible and invisible, have themselves 
been obscure ministers and laymen who have wrought for 
years with little or no recognition. It has been my pur- 
pose to bring to light as many of their achievements as 
possible, but I have found it impossible to do justice to 
all. But among these are to be found some of our choicest 
spirits, our noblest heroes. Their lot is well described by 
Dean Farrar in these true words : "There is yet a harder 
and a higher heroism — to live well in the quiet routine of 
life ; to fill a little space because God wills it ; to go on 
cheerfully with a petty round of little duties, little occa- 
sions ; to accept unmurmuringly a low position ; to smile 


History oi^ Nebraska Methodism. 561 

for the joys of others when the heart is aching; to ban- 
ish all ambition, all pride, all restlessness in a single re- 
gard for our Savior's work. To do this for a lifetime is 
a greater effort, and he who does this is a greater hero 
than he who for one hour storms a breach, or for one day 
rushes undaunted in the flaming front of shot and shell. 
His works will follow him. He may not be a hero to the 
world, but he is one of God's heroes ; and, though the 
builders of Nineveh and Babylon be forgotten and un- 
known, his memory shall live and be blessed." 



Anderson, A. J 557 

Balson, J. W 559 

Coon, A. F 559 

Dryden, John F 557 

Davis, John 557 

Doty, J. J 557 

Dale, John . 557 

Feigenbaum, L. S 557 

Fleming, D. C 559 

Goss, Chas. A 557 

Hornby, Geo. H 557 

Hazen, M. C 557 

Haskell, Wm. W 557 

Henline, S. A. D 557' 


King, J. D 559 

McBrien, J. L 559 

Nickell, Mrs. M. D 559 

Newman, Mrs. Angle F. . . .559 

Ollinger, W. G 557 

Paine, Bayard H 557 

Paine, B. L 559 

Persinger, N. R 559 

Rogers, E. H 557 

Rees, M. B 559 

Roberts, Mrs. M. E 559 

Slater, John A 557 

Sala, F. E 557 

Westover, W. H 557 


First Church Built 459 

First Church Built in Lin- 
coln 461 

St. Paul's Church 461 

Sod Church 462 

Nebraska Wesleyan Uni- 
versity 478 

M. E. Hospital 509 

Mother's Jewels Home 515 



The Author Frontispiece 

Adriance, Rev. Jacob 39 

Alexander, Rev. Geo. S. ..131 

Adair, Rev. J. M 347 

Adams, Rev. R. H 407 

Amsbary, Rev. W. A 407 

Alexander, Rev. W. B 551 

Burch, Rev. Hiram 47 

Blackburn, Rev. W. S....131 

Buckley, Rev. Joseph 377 

Badcon, Rev. J. A 377 

Blain, Rev. Bartley 377 

Beebe, Rev. u. K 388 

Balch, Rev. T. C 401 

Beans, Rev. W. K 407 

Bithel, Rev. Thos 411 

Burns, Rev. Isaac 411 

Burleigh, Rev. Chas. H 419 

Blackwell, Rev. A. G 423 

Butler, Rev. A. C 423 

Beck, Rev. S. A 453: 

Britt, Rev. L. P 551 

Carter, Rev. W. H 347 

Charles, Rev. Jabez 347 

Collins, Rev. Asbury 379 

Connell, Rev. C. E 401 

Chapin, Rev. A. B 401 

Clark, Rev. D. J 411 

Crane, Rev. D. W 415 

Calkins, Rev. A. C 415 

Collins, Mrs. Louisa 455 

Creighton, Rev. C. F 479 

Crook, Rev. Isaac 479 

Crosthwaite, Rev. A. C 555 

Davis, W. H 45' 

Davis, Mrs. W. H 45 

Davis, Rev. H. T 61 

Davis, Rev. D. S 216 

Dean, Rev. J. S. W 411 

Dressier, Rev. J. M 423 

Esterbrook, Rev. F. M 131 

Elwood, Rev; Geo. W 407 

Eighmy, Rev. P. H 555 

Fort, Rev. J". L 39 

Folden, Rev. A. L 131 


Fleharty, Rev. J. Q. A 347 

Fifer, Rev. O. W 419 

Fulkerson, Rev. E. M 453 

Fleharty, Rev. J. J 470 

Goode, Rev. W. H 24 

Gage, Rev. W. D 42 

Gearhart, Rev. J. R 347 

Glassner, Rev. W. 401 

Gettys, Rev. j. K 407 

Giddings, Rev. C. W.... ..411 

Gortner, Rev. j. R 453 

Gorst, Rev. Wm 551 

Gallagher, Rev. Jonn 551 

Hart, Rev. David 39 

Hamlin, John 51 

Hobson, S. B. and Mrs 77 

Hey wood, Rev. C. F 347 

Henderson, Rev. S. H 415 

Howe, Rev. P. W 423 

Hummel, Rev. Geo. W 423 

Huntington, Rev. D. W. C.479 

Hosman, Rev. E. E 485 

Hardaway, Rev. W. E 551 

Hale, Rev. C. A 555 

Hodgetts, Rev. A 555 

Imhoff, Miss Louisa 451 

Isham, Rev. Geo. W 486 

Janney, Rev. Lewis 131 

Jones, Rev. W, R 407 

Jones, L. 523 

Johnson, Rev. P. C 551 

Jennings, Rev. Jesse W. ..555 

Julian, Rev. A. R 555 

Kemper, Rev. j. F 411 

Lemon, Rev. T. B 101 

Leedom, Rev. J. B 41? 

Larkin, Rev. J. A 423 

Laing, Rev. Robt 423 

Leonard, Rev. Jas 555 

Lasby, Rev. C. C 555' 

Morris, Rev. Milton 45 

Morris, Mrs. Milton 45' 

Martin, Rev. Elza 45 

McCoy, Mrs. Geo. A 56 

May, Rev. D. H 131 


List of Portraits— Continued. 


Maxfield, Rev. J. B 139 

Marsh, Rev. J 377 

Millard, Re\. n. H 407 

Miller, Rev. J. G 407 

Moore, Rev. J. E 415 

Miller, Rev. W. G 415" 

Montgomery, Miss Urdell..451 

Miner, Rev. Geo. S 453 

Miner, Mrs 453 

McKenzie, Prof. J. M 469 

McKaig. Rev. R. N 471 

Mickey, Gov. J. H 481 

McLaughlin, Mrs. Allie P. 
and group of Deacon- 
esses 511 

Mastin, Rev. C. A 551 

Owen, Rev. T. W 377 

Presson, Rev. Harrison 25 

Presson, Rev. W. A 131 

Pritchard, Rev. Martin 411 

Pearson, Rev. Richard 407 

Priest, Rev. J. B 419 

Query, Rev. James 423 

Roberts. Rev. J. J 131 

Roe, Rev. John P 347 

Reilly, Rev. Charles 377 

Ramsey, Rev. 0. L 401 

Roberts. Rev. Stokely D..407 

Rodabaugh, Rev. D. F 407 

Rhone, Rev. Z. S 419 

Ruch, Rev. P. B 423 

Rouse, Rev. C. G 423 

Spillman, Rev. Jerome.... 39 

Smith, Rev. L. W 39 

Slaughter, Rev. W. B 178 

St. Clair, Rev. John T.....347 

Smith, Rev. C. P 401 

Sleeth, Rev. Asa C 407 


Smith, Rev. Geo A 415 

Stringfield, Rev. L. H 423 

Shelley, Mrs. M. J 451 

Stevens, Rev. Leslie.... 455 

Stewart, J. M 4g3 

Spurlock, Burwell 51'/ 

Spurlock, Mrs. Isabella 517 

Stewart, Rev. J. W 551 

Sisson, Rev. F. M 555 

Shenk, Rev. J. W 555 

Taylor, Rev. J. W 39 

Turman, Rev. Z. B 39 

Towner, Rev. Abram 45 

Towner, Mrs. A 45 

Trites, Rev. Geo. P 419 

Tindall, Rev. D. K 555 

Vessels, Rev. W. G 419 

Van Doozer, Rev. S. P 411 

Van Anda, Rev. Joel A... 131 
Van Anda, John and Fa- 
ther 203 

Van Fleet, Rev. Peter 455 

Van Fleet, Miss Eva 455 

Worley. Rev. Thos 131 

Wells, Rev. C. W 347 

Wheeler, Rev. w. H 377 

Wilson, Rev. Wesley 377 

Webster, Rev. T. C 397 

White, Rev. A. G 411 

Winship, Rev. D. C 419 

Worley, Rev. Geo 423 

Watson, Miss Matilda 451 

Watson, Miss Rebecca 451 

Worley, Rev. James H....453 

Wilson, Rev. E. E 455 

White, C. C 487 

Worley, Rev. Wm. M 551 

Wright, Rev. Geo. 1 555