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Thirty Years in the Itinerancy by Wesson Gage Miller

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The following pages were prepared in the midst of the taxing labors of
the Ministerial calling. The materials have been drawn from a multitude
of sources, and, though the recollections of individuals have not been
entirely harmonious in all cases, the facts and dates are believed to be
mainly reliable. The general plan, it will be observed, contemplates a
brief record of the Charges and Ministers of the Wisconsin Conference,
rather than furnish a sketch of my own services. To place the data,
however, in suitable relations, and render it acceptable to the general
reader, it has been deemed advisable to let the record follow the line
of my labors during the thirty years of my Itinerant life. The
publication of the book at the present time, is the result of my severe
illness during the past year, and the generous, appreciative action
taken by the District Conferences. A record of many other Charges and
Ministers had been prepared, but, to my regret, the limits of the volume
would not permit its insertion. Hoping that these pages may revive many
pleasant recollections, furnish interesting and profitable reading for
the fireside, and preserve material for the future historian, they are
committed to the generous consideration of the public.




Providential Intervention.--Nature and Providence alike Mysterious.--An
Unseen Hand shaping Human Events.--The Author urged to enter the
Ministry.--Shrinks from the Responsibility.--Flies to Modern
Tarshish.--Heads for Iowa.--Gets Stuck in the Mud.--Smitten by a
Northern Gale.--Turns Aside to see the Eldorado.--Finds Himself Face to
Face with the Itinerancy.


The Young Itinerant.--In a Lumber Mill at Waupun.--The Surprise.--An
Interval of Reflection.--A Graceful Surrender.--The Outfit minus the
Horse and Saddlebags.--.Receives Instruction.--The Final
Struggle.--Arrives at Brothertown.--Reminiscences of the Red Man.--The
Searching Scrutiny.--The Brothertown People.--The Mission.--Rev. Jesse
Halstead--Rev. H.W. Frink.


Exhorter in Charge.--The First Sabbath.--The Superb Singing.--Class and
Prayer Meetings.--A Revival.--Stockbridge Counted In.--A
Remonstrance.--Another Exhorter Found.--Decide to Hold a Great
Meeting.--The Loaves and Fishes in the Lad's Basket too Few.--Chief
Chicks.--Conversion of a Noted Character.--Quarterly Meeting at Fond du
Lac.--Licensed to Preach.--Camp Meeting at Clason's Prairie.--Camp
Meeting at Brothertown.--Church Enterprise.--Missionary
Merchant.--Logging Bee.--Successive Labors.


Fond du Lac.--First Sermon.--Early Presiding Elders.--Rev. H.W.
Reed.--Rev. James R. Goodrich.--Rev. Jesse Halstead the First
Pastor.--Rev. Harvey S. Bronson.--First Class.--Quarterly
Meeting.--Delegation from Waupun.--Rev. Wm. H. Sampson.--Extended
District.--A Disastrous Fire.--Outside Appointments.--Stowe's
Chapel.--Preacher's Home.--Ethiel Humiston.--Byron.--Rev. Joseph T.
Lewis.--Rev. M.L. Noble--Rev. H. B. Colman.


Green Lake Mission.--Waupun.--First Class.--Meetings held at Dr.
Bowman's.--Revival.--Two Local Preachers.--Short Cut to Ceresco.--Boxing
the Compass.--Wisconsin Phalanx.--First Society.--Dining Hall
Chapel.--Discussions.--Antiquated Views.--Green Lake.--Shadrach
Burdick.--Visit to Dartford.--Little Green Lake.--The New
Chorister.--Markesan.--Lake Maria.--Revival.


Green Lake Mission Continued.--Quarterly Meeting at Oshkosh.--Rev. G.N.
Hanson.--Lake Apuckaway.--Lost and Found.--Salt and Potatoes.--Mill
Creek.--Rock River.--Rev. J.M.S. Maxson.--Oakfield.--Cold Bath.--Fox
Lake.--Gospel vs. Whiskey.--On Time.--Badger Hill.--S.A.L.
Davis.--Miller's Mill.--G.W. Sexmith.--Burnett.--William Willard.--Grand
River.--David Wood.


Green Lake Mission Continued.--An Assistant Employed.--Quarterly Meeting
at Waupun.--Love Feast.--Forty Miles Ride, and Four Sermons.--A Sermon
and its Fruit.--Portage Prairie.--Randolph.--Randolph Centre.--Rolling
Prairie,--Cheney's Class.--Brandon.--Rosendale.--Reed's
Corners.--Strong's Landing,--A Night in the Openings.--Rev. Uriel
Farmin.--Going to Conference.--Madison.--Visit at Platteville.--Bishop
Hamline.--Humorous to Grave.--Galena Conference.


Appointed to Watertown.--Aztalan the Mother of Circuits.--Divisions
and Subdivisions.--Rev. S.H. Stocking.--Watertown.--Church
Enterprise.--Sickly Season.--Quarterly Meeting at Burnett.--Rev. A.P.
Allen.--Elder Sampson Ties a Knot.--Conference of 1847.--Returned to
Watertown.--Financial Pressure.--Opens a School.--The Coat Sermon.


Waukesha--Old Prairieville Circuit--Changes--Rev. L.F. Moultrie--Rev.
Hooper Crews--Rev. J.M. Walker--Rev. Washington Wilcox--Upper and Nether
Millstones--Our New Field--Revival--Four Sermons--Platform Missionary
Meetings--The Orator--Donning the Eldership--The Collection.


Milwaukee--Early History--First Sermon--Rev. Mark Robinson--First
Class--Rev. John Clark--Trustees--Rev. James Ash--Rev. David
Worthington--Rev. Julius Field--Rev. John Crummer--First Church--Rev.
John T. Mitchell--Rev. Sias Bolles--Lantern Convert--Second
Church--Rev. A. Hanson--Rev. Dr. Ryan--John H. Van Dyke--Rev. F.M.
Mills--Rev. James E. Wilson--Walker's Point--First Class--Rev.
Wm. Willard.


Spring Street, Milwaukee--First Sabbath--Promising Outlook--The Deep
Shadow--Rev. Elihu Springer--Rev. I.M. Leihy--Revival--Missionary
Meetings--Dedication at Sheboygan--Ravages of the Cholera--Death-bed
Scenes--The Riot--Bishop Waugh--Camp Meeting--Scandinavian Work--Rev.
C. Willerup.


Conference of 1851.--Presiding Elder.--Presentation.--Give and
Take.--Fond du Lac District--Quarterly Meeting--Rev. J.S.
Prescott.--Footman vs. Buggies--Fond du Lac.--Two Churches.--Greenbush
Quarterly Meeting.--Rev. David Lewis--Pioneer Self-Sacrifice.--Finds a
Help-Meet.--Sheboygan Falls.--Rev. Matthias Himebaugh.--Oshkosh--First
Class.--Church Enterprises.


Fond du Lac District Continued.--Green Bay.--First Settlement.--Rev.
John Clark.--First Sermon.--First Class.--Col. Ryan.--First
Methodist.--First Church Enterprise.--Good Society.--Heretical
Bonnet.--Various Changes.--Rev. R.P. Lawton--Church
Disaster--Purifying the Temple--Rev. S. W. Ford.--Oneida Indian
Mission.--Oneidas.--Missionaries.--Quarterly Meeting.--Council.--"Chief
Jake."--Interpreter.--Rev. Henry Requa.--His Dying Message.


Fond du Lac District Continued.--Appleton.--Early History.--Rev. C.G.
Lathrop--Lawrence University.--Incipient Stages.--Charter.--Trustees.
Agent.--First Board of Instruction.--Buildings.--Faculty.--Rev. Dr.
Cooke.--Rev. Dr. Cobleigh.--Rev. Dr. Mason.--Rev. Dr. Knox.--Rev.
Dr. Steele.


Fond du Lac District Continued.--Baraboo Conference.--Lodi Camp
Meeting.--Fall River.--Revival at Appleton.--Rev. Elmore Yocum.--Revival
at Sheboygan Falls.--Revival at Fond du Lac.--Rev. E.S.
Grumley.--Revival at Sheboygan.--Rev. N.J. Aplin.--Camp-Meeting at
Greenbush.--Rev. A.M. Hulce.--Results of the Year.--Janesville
Conference.--Omro. Rev. Dr. Golden.--The Cowhams.--Quarterly
Meeting.--My Father's Death.--Close of the Term.


Conference of 1855.--The New Departure.--Mission Committee.--The Slavery
Controversy.--Triumph of Freedom.--Wisconsin Conference Rule. Conference
Report.--Election of Delegates.--Appointed to Racine.--Detention.--The
Removal to the New Charge.--Stage, Dray, and Steamboat.--New Bus Line.


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


Conference of 1859.--Janesville.--Early History.--First Sermon.--The
Collection.--First Class.--First Church.--First Donation.--Rev. C.C.
Mason.--Missionary Anniversary.--Rev. A. Hamilton.--Rev. D. O. Jones.
The Writer's Pastorate.--The Great Revival.--The Recipe.--Old Union
Circuit.--First Class.--Evansville.--Rev. Henry Summers.--New Church.
Conference of 1858.--Beloit.--Early Pastorates.--Church
Enterprise.--Second Year at Janesville.


Conference of 1859.--Presiding Elder.--Milwaukee
District.--Residence.--District Parsonage.--Visits to Charges.--Spring
Street.--Asbury.--Rev. A.C. Manwell.--Brookfield.--West
Granville.--Wauwatosa.--Rev. J.P. Roe.--Waukesha.--Rev. Wesley
Lattin.--Oconomowoc.--Rev. A.C. Pennock.--Rev. Job B. Mills.--Hart
Prairie.--Rev. Delos Hale.--Watertown. Rev. David Brooks.--Rev. A.C.
Huntley.--Brookfield Camp-Meeting.


Whitewater Conference.--Report on Slavery.--Election of Delegates.--
Whitewater.--Early History.--Rev. Dr. Bannister.--General
Conference.--Member of Mission Committee.--Conference 1860.--Rev. I.L.
Hauser.--Mrs. I.L. Hauser.--Rev. J.C. Robbins.--The Rebellion.--Its
Causes.--Fall of Sumter.--Extract of Sermon.--Conference 1861.--Rev.
J.H. Jenne.--Rev. S.C. Thomas.--Rev. G.C. Haddock.--Colonelcy.--Close
of Term.


Conference of 1862.--The War.--Position of the Conference.--Rev. J.M.
Snow.--Appointed again to Spring Street.--Dr. Bowman.--Changes.--Rev.
P.S. Bennett.--Rev. C.S. Macreading.--Official Board.-The New Church
Enterprise.--Juvenile Missionary Society.--Conference of 1863.--Rev.
P.B. Pease.--Rev. George Fellows.--Rev. Samuel Fallows.--Rev. R.B.
Curtis.--Rev. D.H. Muller.--Third Year.--Pastoral Work.--Revival. Visit
to the Army.--Illness.--Close of Term.


Conference of 1865.--The War Closed.--Lay Delegation the Next Question.
Rev. George Chester.--Rev. Romulus O. Kellogg.--Missionary to
China.--Rev. L.N. Wheeler.--Appointed to Fond du Lac District.--Marriage
of our Eldest Daughter.--Removal to Fond du Lac.--Rev. T.O.
Hollister.--State of the District.--Rev. J.T. Woodhead.--Waupun.--Rev.
D.W. Couch.--Lamartine.--Rev. I.S. Eldridge.--Horicon.--Rev. Walter


Conference of 1866.--Centenary Year.--Lay
Delegation.--Reconstruction.--Returned to Fond du Lac District.--Seven
Sermons a Week--Rev. O.J. Cowles.--Beaver Dam.--A Good Record.--Fall
River.--Early History.--Columbus.--Rev. Henry Sewell.--Conference of
1867.--Election of Delegates.--Cotton Street.--Rev. R.S. Hayward.--Rev.
A.A. Reed.--General Conference.--Conference of 1868.--Rev. T.C.
Wilson.--Rev. H.C. Tilton. Rev. John Hill.--Rev. Isaac Searles--Rev.
J.B. Cooper.--An Incident--Close of the Term.--Progress Made.


Conference of 1869.--Stationed at Ripon.--First Visit--Rev. E.J.
Smith.--Rev. Byron Kingsbury.--Sabbath School.--Early Record of the
Station.--Church Enterprises.--Rev. William Morse.--Rev. Joseph
Anderson.--Revival.--Church Enlargement.--Berlin.--Early History.--Rev.
Isaac Wiltse.--Conference of 1870.--Returned to Ripon.--Marriage of our
Second Daughter.--A Happy Year.--Close of our Labors.


Conference of 1871.--Election of Delegates.--Laymen's Electoral
Convention.--Temperance.--The Sabbath.--Rev. Thomas Hughes.--Appointed
to Spring Street.--Third Term.--Wide Field.--Rev. C.D. Pillsbury.--Rev.
W.W. Case.--The Norwegian Work.--Rev. A. Haagenson.--The Silver
Wedding.--Results of the Year.


Conference of 1872.--Rev. A.J. Mead.--Rev. A. Callender.--Rev. Wm. P.
Stowe.--Rev. O.B. Thayer.--Rev. S. Reynolds.--Revival under Mrs. Van
Cott--Conference of 1873.--Rev. Henry Colman.--Rev. A.A. Hoskin.--Rev.
Stephen Smith.--Illness.--Conference of 1874.--Rev. Dr. Carhart.--Rev.
Geo. A. Smith.--Rev. C.N. Stowers.--In the Shade.

Thirty Years in the Itinerancy.

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Providential Intervention.--Nature and Providence alike Mysterious.--An
Unseen Hand shaping Human Events.--The Author urged to enter the
Ministry.--Shrinks from the Responsibility.--Flies to Modern
Tarshish.--Heads for Iowa.--Gets Stuck in the Mud.--Smitten by a
Northern Gale.--Turns Aside to see the Eldorado.--Finds Himself Face to
Face with the Itinerancy.

The ways of Providence are mysterious. And how, to men, could they be
otherwise? With their limited faculties it could not be expected that
they would be able to obtain more than partial glimpses of the "goings
forth of the Almighty." The Astronomer can determine the orbit of the
planets that belong to our system, since they lie within the range of
his vision; but not so the comets. These strange visitors locate their
habitations mainly in regions so remote from the plane of human
existence that his eye cannot reach them. And when they do condescend to
pay us a visit, they traverse so wide a circuit that the curve they
describe is too slight to furnish a basis for reliable mathematical
calculations. Hence the orbit of a comet is a mystery, and the return
not unfrequently a surprise. If this be true of what seem to be the
unfinished or exploded worlds, that swing like airy nothings in the
heavens and fringe the imperial realm of physical being, then what may
not be predicated of the profounder mysteries that lie bosomed in those
unexplored depths of the Universe, where the fixed stars hold high
court? When our feet trip at every step of our advance to know the
mysteries of nature, why need we affect surprise when the profounder
domain of providence refuses to yield up its secrets? That the ways of
God are mysterious is a logical necessity. The Infinite disparity
between the human and the Divine intelligence involves it. Insignificant
as a lady's finger ring may seem when compared to one of the mighty
rings of Saturn, the human mind, in the presence of the Divine, is
infinitely more so. Well hath the Scriptures said, "Far as the heavens
are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my
thoughts than your thoughts."

The mysterious ways of Providence are, however, not unfrequently so
interwoven with human events as that average intelligence may be able to
understand portions of them, though much of mystery must always remain.
And in no one particular do these understandable portions find a clearer
illustration than in those interventions which assign individual men to
given pursuits and responsibilities in life. Truly, "There is a
Providence that shapes our ends, rough hew them as we will."

Nor may these special interventions be wholly appropriated by the great
men of the world. On the contrary, they not unfrequently condescend to
bless the very humblest. The same great thought, the same skilled hand
and the same infinite power that were necessary to pile up the grandest
mountain ranges and hollow the ocean's bed, were also required to create
a single grain of sand and assign it its place as a part of the grand
whole. So, while great and honorable men pass into the world's history
as the proteges of a special providence, let it also be remembered that
the humbler ones, though their names may never be chronicled, are not
forgotten by the All Father. If willing to be led, they shall not want
a kind hand to lead them. And even though rebellious at times, and at
others shrinking from the proffered responsibilities, yet a loving
Father cares for the trembling and feeble ones, as well as the brave and
the strong, and kindly leads them into the paths of peace.

I have not written thus, good reader, in these opening pages, to find a
starting place for the record that is to follow. On the contrary, these
utterances hold a special relation to the writer and the labors of the
last thirty years.

Soon after my conversion, and before I was eighteen years of age, I
received an Exhorter's license. I was then engaged in teaching and found
my time largely occupied by my profession. Yet, I occasionally held
services on the Sabbath. During the ensuing four years I retained the
same relation. I was often urged to accept a Local Preacher's license,
but declined, thinking I was too much occupied in the other field to
make the necessary preparation for this. And, besides, I had now reached
a point of great perplexity and trial with reference to the ministerial
calling as a profession. Not that I entertained a serious thought of
accepting it, but, on the contrary, was wholly averse to it. But,
strangely enough, while I was thus, both in feeling and convictions,
opposed to the measure, every one else seemed to accept it as a matter
already settled that I would enter the Itinerant field. From the good
Rev. John B. Stratton, the Presiding Elder of the Prattsville District,
New York Conference, within the bounds of which I then resided, and his
immediate successor, Rev. Samuel D. Ferguson, down through all the
ministry and laiety of my acquaintance, I was made the special subject
of attack. But from what all others thought to be my duty, I shrank
with a persistence that admitted of no compromise. The plan I had marked
out for myself contemplated, ultimately, the position of a Local
Preacher, and a life devoted largely to literature and business. On this
plan I fully relied, and thought myself settled in my convictions and
fixed in my purpose. Yet I am not able to say, that at times it did not
require some effort of the will to keep my conscience quiet and my
thought steady. A young man, from eighteen to twenty-two years of age,
who was subject to so many attacks, especially in high places, and who
constantly felt himself preached to and prayed at in almost every
religious assembly, must be more than human, not to say less than a
Christian, to bear up under such a pressure. I clearly saw that one of
two things must be done, and that speedily. Either I must yield to the
manifest demand of the church or "go west." I chose the latter. Nor was
this decision mere obstinacy. There were several things to be considered
and carefully weighed and determined before entering upon a work of such
grave responsibilities as the Itinerant ministry. First of all, the
question must be settled in a man's conviction of duty; then the
question of one's fitness for the work; and, finally, the financial
question could not be ignored. To enter the Itinerancy involved
responsibilities that could only be sustained under the deepest
convictions that can possibly penetrate a human soul. The minister is
God's ambassador to lost men. He can only enter upon this work under the
sanction of Divine authority. Having entered he is charged with the care
of souls, and if these shall suffer harm, through his inefficiency or
want of fidelity, he must answer in the Divine assizes for the breach of
trust. Well may the best of men say, "who is sufficient for these
things?" Then add to this grave responsibility, the certain and
manifold trials which must come to every man who enters the Itinerancy.
His very calling makes him a spectacle to men, and necessarily the
subject of adverse criticism. He is the messenger of God and yet the
servant of man. On the one hand, clothed with the authority of heaven,
and on the other reduced to the condition of a servant. Expected to
deliver the high message of the King of Kings, and yet receives his
pulpit under the suffrages of man. Before he receives his appointment,
he is not unfrequently the subject of a sharp canvass from one end of
the Conference to the other, and after he receives it he is liable to
find himself among a people, who had rejected him in the canvass, and
now only acquiesce in the decision from sheer necessity. But if he
escape Scylla in this particular, he is certain to drive upon Charybdis
in another. Granting that his relations and labors may be acceptable, he
falls upon the inevitable necessity of devoting his time and labor,
during the vigor and strength of his days, for a meager compensation,
and then pass into old age, and its attendant infirmities, as a
dependancy, if not a pauper. And now let me submit; with such a picture
hung upon the canopy of the future, and who shall say it is overdrawn?
is it a matter of surprise that a young man should hesitate before
accepting the position of an Itinerant?

But it will be said: "There is another side to the picture." True, and
thanks to the Great Head of the church that there is. But the other side
can only be seen when the beholder occupies the proper stand-point, and
this position I certainly had not attained at the time of which I write.
In this matter, as in most others, our mistakes arise from partial views
and limited observation.

A few years since I visited Niagara Falls. Before leaving Buffalo a
friend admonished me to avoid looking upon the descending floods until I
should reach Table Rock, as this precaution would give me a more
satisfactory impression. These instructions were more easily given than
observed. I found it required no small share of nerve to pass down the
near bank of the river with the eternal roar of its waters pouring into
my ears, cross over Suspension Bridge, spanning the rushing tides below
still tossing and foaming as though an ocean had broken from its prison,
and then pass up the other bank, in full view of the cataract, and not
look upon it until my feet were planted on Table Rock. But from that
hour to the present, I have never regretted the effort, for therein I
learned the importance of position, when face to face with any great
question. The position gained, I raised my eyes upon Niagara Falls. I
need not say my whole being was thrilled. There lay the great "horse
shoe" full before me, and I seemed to stand upon its outer crest and
look down into its deep chasm, where the angry waters wrestled with each
other in their wildest frenzy. Then the floods from either side, that
had seemed to sweep around the chasm and hug the shore, as if in mortal
terror, despairing of escape, rushed upon each other like two storm
fiends. The war of waters was most terrific. The very earth shook.
Locked in deadly embrace, and writhing as if in direst agony, the mighty
floods plunged the abyss, while far above floated the white plume of the
presiding genius of old Niagara. The impression upon me was
overwhelming. I saw Niagara Falls from the right stand-point. Whether I
was equally fortunate in my early views of the Itinerancy is a question
that will find solution in the following pages.

I decided, however, to go West. My father and the balance of his family
had been looking enquiringly in that direction for several months, and I
now agreed to accompany them.

It was our purpose to make Dubuque, Iowa, the point of destination, as
the founders of that city, who were relatives, had visited us in the
East and had given us glowing accounts of the city and the adjacent
portions of the State. With this purpose in view we landed at Racine.
The Madison, a crazy old steamer that could lay on more sides during a
storm than any water craft that I had ever seen, landed us on a pier in
the night, and from the pier we were taken ashore in a scow. We reached
Racine in June, 1844. Racine at that time was a very small village, but,
like all western towns, it was in the daily belief that, at some time in
the near future, it would be a very large city. We spent the Sabbath and
enjoyed the pleasure of attending religious services in a school house.
The pastor of our church at the time was Rev. Milton Bourne, of the Rock
River Conference. We were favorably impressed with Racine, and
especially with the evidences of civilization it afforded, in the fact
of a school house and the establishment of religious services.

At Racine we engaged a man to take us, six in all, with our trunks to
Delavan. The roads were almost impassable. The rains had fallen so
copiously that the streams overflowed their banks, the marshes were full
and the prairies inundated. With a good team, however, we made an
average of about fifteen miles a day. Our conveyance stuck fast in the
mud eighteen times between Racine and Delavan. Sometimes we found these
interesting events would occur just in the middle of a broad marsh. In
such case the gentlemen would take to the water, not unfrequently up to
the loins, build a chair by the crossing of hands, as they had learned
to do in their school days, and give the ladies a safe passage to the
prairie beyond. But woe worth the day if the wheels refused to turn, as
they sometimes did, in the middle of some deep, broad mud-hole. The
light prairie soil, when thoroughly saturated, is capable of very great
volatility and yet of stick-to-it-iveness. While the team and wagon,
buried deeply in the mud, found the soil as yielding as quicksand, the
passengers, on alighting, were no more fortunate. To make the chair and
wade ashore with its precious burden, at such a time, involved a very
nice adjustment of balances. If the three went headlong before they
reached the shore, each received a generous "coat of mail" of the most
modern style.

We reached Delavan in due course of travel, where we remained several
days. The Sabbath intervened. My father preached in the morning, and I
held service in the afternoon. On Monday a council was held. Since our
feet touched the soil of Wisconsin, our ears had been filled with the
praises of the country, and especially the counties of Dodge and Fond du
Lac. By the time we had spent several days at Delavan, and were ready to
move on toward Iowa, this clamor had become so decided in its tone,
that, as a result of the consultation, it was decided that two or three
of us should go up through Dodge and Fond du Lac counties. Not with the
expectation that our destination would lie in that direction, but it was
thought advisable to know what had been left behind, in case we should
not be pleased with Dubuque.

Leaving the balance of our company at Delavan, we started on foot on our
tour of exploration. Keeping our eyes and ears open, we were ready to
go in any direction in quest of the promised "Eldorado." Like all "land
seekers" of those early times, a few things were deemed essential to
make a location desirable. These were prairie, timber and water. But
with us one additional requisite must not be ignored. We must also find
a "water power." With all these objects in view, the line of travel
became perplexing and described a good many angles, but the main
direction lay through East Troy, Summit, Watertown, Oak Grove and
Waupun. At the last named place we found a few scattered log houses,
and, within a radius of five miles, perhaps a dozen families. The
location was beautiful. With its prairie of from one to two miles in
width, skirted on the north by groves of timber, through which ran the
west branch of Rock River, and fringed on the south by extended
openings, it took us captive at once. Passing up the stream two or three
miles we found the looked for water-power, and abundance of
unappropriated lands. By setting our stakes on the crown of the prairie,
and making the lines pass down to the river and through the belt of
timber, sufficient land of the right quality could be secured for the
whole family, including, also, the desired water-power. To decide upon
this spot as our future home, was the result of a brief consultation.
All thought of going to Iowa was now abandoned. Obtaining a load of
lumber, which was all that could be secured for either love or money, a
shanty was immediately erected for the accommodation of the family. Was
it a providential intervention that assigned us our home and field of
labor in this new and rapidly populating portion of Wisconsin, rather
than the city of Dubuque?

Society in its formative state needs, above all other agencies, the
salutary influences of religion. To provide these and give them
efficiency among the people, the presence and labors of the Gospel
ministry, and the establishment of churches, are a necessity. To secure
these at the outset requires the emigration of ministers from the older
States as well as people. Perhaps the motives of neither class in coming
will always bear a thorough scrutiny; yet who shall say that their
coming is not under the general direction of Providence? Nor is it
improbable that the hasty steps that seem to bear the unwilling servant
from the presence of the Master are the very ones that most speedily
bring him face to face with his duty.


The Young Itinerant.--In a Lumber Mill at Waupun.--The Surprise.--An
Interval of Reflection.--A Graceful Surrender.--The Outfit minus the
Horse and Saddlebags.--Receives Instruction.--The Final
Struggle.--Arrives at Brothertown.--Reminiscences of the Red Man.--The
Searching Scrutiny.--The Brothertown People.--The Mission.--Rev. Jesse
Halstead.--Rev. H.W. Frink.

In March, A.D. 1845, a letter from Rev. Wm. H. Sampson, then Presiding
Elder of Green Bay District, Rock River Conference, found me at Waupun.
The intervening nine months, since our arrival in the preceding July,
had been spent in making improvements upon the land I had selected, and
in the erection of a lumber mill, of which I was in part proprietor.

The bearer of the letter found me in the mill, engaged in rolling logs
to the saw and in carrying away the lumber. I opened the letter and
glanced at its contents. To my surprise and utter consternation it
contained a pressing request that I would take charge of the Brothertown
Indian Mission until the next session of the Conference, as the
Missionary, Rev. H.W. Frink, had been called away by family afflictions.
I instinctively folded the letter and then crumpled it in the palm of my
hand, inwardly saying, "Hast thou found me, oh! mine enemy?" No rash
answer, however, was given. This question of duty was certainly assuming
grave aspects. For four years it had haunted me at every turn. And even
in the wilds of Wisconsin it was still my tormenter. Like Banquo's
ghost, it would not down at my bidding. I now tried to look the
question fairly in the face, and make the decision a final one, but
found it exceedingly difficult to do so. To yield after so long a
struggle, and especially to surrender all my fondly cherished plans for
the future, appealed at first to my pride, and then to what I conceived
to be my temporal interests, and the appeal for a moment seemed to gain
the ascendency. But how then could I answer to God? was the startling
question that burned into my soul at every turn of the argument. In the
midst of my embarrassment the thought was suggested, "It is only until
Conference, and then you can return and resume your business."

Catching at this straw, thus floating to me, and half believing and half
hoping that three months of my incompetency would satisfy the church and
send me back to my business again, I consented to go. Leaving my
temporal interests in the hands of my father, I hastened to make the
necessary preparations for my new responsibilities. The outfit was
provokingly limited. The horse and saddlebags, the inevitable Alpha, if
not the Omega, of an Itinerant's outfit, were wanting, as such
conveniences had hardly, as yet, found their way to the northern
portions of the Territory. But in their place were put good walking
ability and a small satchel. A few pieces of linen, a few books, but no
sermons, were put into the satchel, and I was immediately stepping to
the measure of the Itinerancy.

My first point of destination was Fond du Lac, the residence of the
Presiding Elder, where I must necessarily report for instructions. The
walk of twenty-two miles, with no other companion than a plethoric
satchel, passing from hand to hand as the weary miles, one after
another, were dismissed, was not the most favorable introduction to my
"new departure," but, bad as it was, I found relief in the thought that
my Eastern friends, who had so kindly and repeatedly proposed to give me
a comfortable seat somewhere in the New York Conference, were in
blissful ignorance of the sorry figure I was making. Whether Jonah found
his last conveyance more agreeable than the first, I cannot say, but
certain it is, I found my first entrance upon the Itinerancy a
tugging business.

I reached Fond du Lac before nightfall, and was hospitably entertained.
Notwithstanding the cordial reception I received, however, from both the
elder and his good wife, I felt embarrassed by the searching look they
occasionally gave me. Whether it was occasioned by my youthful, green or
delicate appearance, or my light, feminine voice, I could not divine.

The conversation soon turned upon the state of affairs at Brothertown,
and I speedily forgot my embarrassment. In the course of the
conversation I inquired whether the proceeding would not be considered
irregular, to place an exhorter in charge of the Mission. The elder
replied, "Necessity knows no law, and, besides, our Quarterly Meeting at
this place will soon be held, when we will relieve that embarrassment."
I was doubtless indebted to this law of necessity for the privilege of
holding one office in the church not provided for in the Discipline, and
one that has seldom if ever been accorded to others. Carefully
instructed in the best method to manage certain difficulties pending in
the Mission, I took early leave for a further walk of sixteen miles.

Across the prairie at the head of Lake Winnebago, I found the walk very
agreeable. Passing Taycheedah, I then struck out into the deep woods
that skirt the eastern shore of the lake. I was now between my guide and
instructor, and the difficult work committed to my charge. Thought was
busy. An oppressive sense of my own insufficiency for so momentous a
work, came over me, as it had done before, but never in such
overwhelming power. I was now face to face with the great work from
which I had shrank for several years, and there was no retreat.
Imagination lifted the little hills of difficulty before me into
mountains that seemed impassable. In the deep shade of the wood I found
a moss-covered rock for a seat, and gave myself up to reflection. The
troubled currents of the stream ran on this wise. To go forward in my
present undertaking may involve a committal to a work that a few short
months shall not terminate. In such case, there will follow a life of
toil and sacrifice, on stinted allowance, beset with trials and
perplexities, and clouded by cold unfeeling criticisms, censures and
misjudgings, of both motive and labor, of which I can now entertain no
adequate conception. But if this work be not the dictate of duty, then
why this unrest of soul which has so long disturbed the even flow of my
religious life, or why the uniform urgency of the authorities of the
church both east and west in this direction? On the contrary, if my feet
are now in the path of duty then why hesitate? A brave soul never
falters in the presence of difficulty or peril, but always deals the
strongest blows where the conflict rages the sharpest. The struggle was
brief and the result satisfactory. Kneeling by the side of the rock,
prayer was offered for Divine guidance and help, and there fell on the
soul a baptism of serene peace and holy joy, which hallowed each
remaining step of the journey.

Arriving at Brothertown the letter of introduction from the Elder was
presented to A.D. Dick, Esq., one of the Stewards. The residence of
this brother was located in the central portion of the town, and gave
evidence of good taste and comfort. Both himself and wife were members
of the church, and their house the home of Itinerants. It was now nearly
twelve o'clock. I was invited to the parlor where I awaited dinner.
These few moments afforded an opportunity to survey my surroundings and
master the situation. My early reading had introduced me to the Indian,
both in his native wilds and as seen on the borders of civilization, the
former as the noblest specimen of the natural man on the planet, and the
latter as the most degraded of mortals. But now I was in the very
presence of the red man and even a guest in his dwelling. Nor is it too
much to say that my curiosity was not a little excited. My reception,
however, had been so cordial that I soon found myself at ease in my new

The letter was opened and read. During its reading I noticed that the
eye of mine host often wandered from the page to the newly arrived
guest. By an occasional glance I tried to read the thoughts of the
reader, but found that the dark face was not disposed to be
communicative. This much, however, I think I read pretty clearly: "Well,
the Elder has sent us a pretty slender specimen as a minister, but we
will try him and see what he can do."

The dinner was announced, conversation became lively, and before we were
aware of it the distinctions of race and color had faded out of sight,
and a life-long friendship was founded. It was now arranged that, during
my stay on the Mission, I should make my home under this
hospitable roof.

The Brothertown people came from the State of New York, and had now been
settled in their western home several years. A log chapel had been
erected and school houses provided. The location along the eastern shore
of Lake Winnebago was excellent, affording a good soil and water and
timber in abundance. Along the principal highways the farms had been
cleared of timber and brought under a fair state of cultivation. The
buildings were mainly constructed of logs, though in later years, there
had been erected a goodly number of frame residences.

Brothertown Mission first appears on the General Minutes in 1839, under
the name of Deansburg, as will appear hereafter. In 1840 it was called
Fond du Lac, as that point had now been added as a regular appointment.
The following year, 1841, the charge remained the same, but the name was
changed to Brothertown, this name having taken the place of Deansburg,
in honor of the Brothertown Nation. But as this charge will further
appear in connection with the labors of its pastors I will defer the
balance of the record for the present.

Rev. Jesse Halstead entered the traveling connection in the Troy
Conference, was ordained Deacon in September, 1837, and transferred to
the Illinois Conference. At the session of the Conference, held the same
month, he was appointed second preacher to Aztalan Mission. Here he took
his first lessons in pioneer work. He traveled over a tract of country
reaching from the line of the Territory on the south to Menomonee on the
north, and from the Lake Shore Missions on the east to Madison on the
west. In these extended journeys he enjoyed the privilege of preaching
the first sermon and forming the first societies in many localities.

In 1838 he was sent to Crete Mission on the Kankakee, in the State of
Illinois. The following year, 1839, he was sent to Brothertown, as
before stated, the name on the Minutes being Deansburg. While on this
Mission, he visited Fond du Lac, and preached the first sermon, as will
appear in another chapter. He remained on this charge only three months,
and was then sent by his Presiding Elder, Rev. Julius Field, to supply
Oneida Indian Mission for the balance of the year, that charge having
been left to be supplied. In January he was visited at Oneida by the
Presiding Elder. While here the Elder fell sick, and desired Brother
Halstead to accompany him on his round of appointments. In the line of
travel they visited Madison and intervening charges, and then went to
Racine, the home of the Elder.

Brother Halstead now started for his field at Oneida. It was in the
depth of winter, and the line of travel was through the dense forests
along the Lake Shore to Green Bay. But, nothing daunted, our Itinerant
packed his books, which had been left with Brother Stebbins at this
place on his first trip to the north, and other baggage, and started on
his journey. The first day he reached Milwaukee, and here he laid in
provisions and other necessary outfit, such as axe, auger, &c. Striking
out into the forest he made twenty miles the first day, but during the
afternoon found himself in a severe snow storm. The first night he
stopped at a house located at the site of the present village of
Grafton. On rising the next morning he found the snow three feet deep.
He laid over one day, and on the following morning resumed his journey.
He only made nine miles, as he was compelled to beat the track in
advance of his horse; and at night he found quarters at Port Washington.
The next day he pursued his journey, but at nightfall found himself
without shelter in the woods. He built a fire, cooked a piece of salt
pork to eat with his bread, and made a supper. But now for the night!
He emptied his jumper, and in it he made a bed, and, as nearly as
possible, a coil of humanity. The next morning he found his boots
frozen. But, with a generous amount of tugging, they yielded to the
pressure of his feet, and he was again on his way, breaking the roads
himself, thereby aiding his horse in carrying his burden.

On the fifth day he found a house in the woods and remained in it for
the night. The sixth day he reached Sheboygan Falls, and the seventh day
Manitowoc. The eighth day he tried to reach Green Bay, a distance of
forty miles, but was compelled to camp out for another night, and take
the ninth day to complete his journey.

In 1840, Brother Halstead was sent to Fond du Lac, his charge including,
also, Brothertown, of which a record will be made in a subsequent
chapter. During this year he made a visit to Oshkosh. He took an Indian
trail on the west side of Lake Winnebago, and after traveling
twenty-five miles found himself on the bank of Fox River. He found no
way to cross the stream, and, it being now dark, he was compelled to
spend the night without shelter. A friendly Indian came along and joined
him in his preparations for the night. The weather was quite cold and
they were obliged to maintain a brisk fire to keep from freezing. In
this duty they served by turns, but neither of them had any provisions.
On the following day Brother, Halstead returned to Fond du Lac.

During the year Brother Halstead was abundant in labor, and at
Brothertown there was an extensive revival, giving large accessions to
the charge. The following year, he was returned to the work, but the
name was changed to Brothertown. This year was also fragrant with
blessing, and many souls were converted. After leaving Brothertown
Brother Halstead was stationed at Monroe, and next at Hazel Green, where
he had Rev. I.M. Leihy as a junior preacher. His subsequent charges were
Prairie du Chien, Patch Grove, Mequon, Oak Creek, and Brothertown, when
he took, in 1852, a superannuated relation.

Brother Halstead was always at his post of duty. In some of his
appointments he had long moves, hard work, and very small compensation,
but he and his good wife were always equal to the situation. It has been
a pleasure to the writer to make this record, as also that of other
veterans of the Itinerancy. But of the labors, the sacrifices and trials
of such men, but little can be known here. It is a satisfaction,
however, to be assured that their record is on high. It is also a
pleasure to know with what views they look back upon the past. A line in
hand from Brother Halstead only expresses the common sentiment of all. I
will give it to the reader. "Among the most pleasant memories of my
life, I reckon the hardships endured as an Itinerant minister of the
Gospel of Christ. If I had another life to give I should not hesitate to
throw myself into the work again with all the strength and purpose the
Master has given me."

Rev. Hiram W. Frink was sent to Brothertown in 1842, and had nearly
completed his third year when called away. Brother Frink is also a
veteran, having entered the Conference in 1837, the year of Brother
Halstead's transfer.

His first appointment was Sheboygan, including the territory between
Milwaukee and Green Bay, and extending west as far as Lake Winnebago.
Its principal appointments were Sheboygan, Port Washington, Brothertown,
Two Rivers and Manitowoc.

Having shipped his trunk to Manitowoc, his future home, Brother Frink
left Chicago on horseback, Oct. 28th, 1837, for his field of labor. At
Milwaukee, the necessary outfit was procured to penetrate the deep
forests which lay beyond, including an axe, steele and punk, a tin cup,
blankets and provisions. The only road was an Indian trail, which pushed
its devious way through the forest, around the swamps, and across
bridgeless streams, without regard to the comfort of the traveler or the
speed of his locomotion. As there were no houses along the line of
travel, Brother Frink was compelled to spend the first night in the
woods. Fortunately, however, he found a small, tenantless cabin by the
wayside, in which he was safe from the wild, noisy beasts, that prowled
without. The following day he reached Sheboygan.

And this journey was but a sample of the travel and exposures of the
year of labor, on which Brother Frink had entered. Amid the drifting
snows of winter, and the copious rains of summer, he was compelled to
traverse the dreary, and almost unbroken forests of his field, and on
more than one occasion he found the night around his camp-fire made
hideous by the howling of wolves and the screaming of panthers. But in
him the cause found a sturdy pioneer who was equal to the demands of
the work.

In 1838, his appointment was Elgin, Ill., and, the following year,
Watertown, Wis. In connection with the last named, we shall have
occasion to refer to his labors in a subsequent chapter. At the close of
his year at Watertown the charge was divided, and in 1840, he was
appointed to Summit, the eastern division.

In 1841, he was returned to Illinois and stationed at Sycamore, and the
following year was brought back to Wisconsin, and, as before stated,
appointed to Brothertown. At the Conference of 1845, he took a location
on account of family afflictions, but returned again to the work as soon
as relieved of his embarrassments.

His subsequent appointments have been Grafton, Agent for Tracts and
Sunday Schools, Palmyra, Rock Prairie, Albion, Dunkirk, Fort Atkinson,
Footville, Burnett and Markesan. In 1865, he took a supernumerary
relation, but the following year, being made effective, he was appointed
to the Bible Agency, which position he has continued to hold up to the
present writing. Brother Frink is still vigorous, and is doing effective
service. He has kept a cheerful spirit up to the present hour, and is
highly esteemed by his brethren.


Exhorter in Charge.--The First Sabbath.--The Superb Singing.--Class and
Prayer Meetings.--A Revival.--Stockbridge Counted In.--A Remonstrance.--
Another Exhorter Found.--Decide to Hold a Great Meeting.--The Loaves
and Fishes in the Lad's Basket too Few.--Chief Chicks.--Conversion of a
Noted Character.--Quarterly Meeting at Fond du Lac.--Licensed to
Preach.--Camp Meeting at Clason's Prairie.--Camp Meeting at
Brothertown.--Church Enterprise.--Missionary Merchant.--Logging
Bee.--Successive Labors.

My first Sabbath, April 4, 1845, as "Exhorter in Charge," gave me an
opportunity to take the measure of my new field of labor. The chapel, as
before stated, was constructed of logs. These were hewn on both sides,
thus giving a smooth appearance both within and without. The logs were
halved together at the ends, and filled between with small pieces of
wood laid in morter, and, on the whole, the chapel made a very
respectable appearance. It contained rude seats that would accommodate
about one hundred and fifty persons, and furnished standing room in
addition for one hundred more.

On the advent of the young "Elder," for it was their custom to call all
ministers by that name, the chapel was packed to its utmost capacity.
Opening the services with great perturbation of spirit in the presence
of so vast a crowd, I proceeded with difficulty until the people arose
to sing. Instantly I was at ease. I was not a stranger to good singing,
for my surroundings had always been fortunate in this particular, but, I
am free to say, that, up to that hour, my ears had never been so
thrilled by Christian melody. The tones were not as mellow as those of
the African, but they were more deep and thrilling. Inclined rather to a
high key, and disposed to be sharp and piercing, yet the voices of the
vast congregation swept through every note of the gamut with equal
freedom. I was thoroughly entranced. And, on coming to myself, I found
my perturbation had left me and my soul was on a plane with the
responsibilities of the hour.

At the close of the public services, a class meeting was held under the
charge of Father Abner, the leader. This brother was a man of age and
experience, well adapted to his position, and universally beloved. The
meeting was conducted in the usual manner, and was an occasion of
spiritual refreshing. The testimonies were direct and touchingly simple,
usually accompanied with weeping, and sometimes with the shout of
triumph. The singing, however, was the principal feature, both in
quantity and quality, for this highly susceptible people had given this
part of the services, in all their meetings, a leading place. Among the
most noted leading voices were those of mine host, Alonzo D. Dick,
Jeremiah Johnson, Orrin Johnson, and Thomas Cummock. My labors were now
fairly opened, and I soon found abundant opportunities for usefulness.
The regular meetings at the chapel were supplimented by others,
principally prayer meetings, in the more remote parts of the town. These
meetings were held on the week-day evenings, and in a short time became
occasions of great interest. I attended them usually, and found every
evening thus employed when not engaged at the chapel. In these
excursions through the settlement, I was almost always accompanied by
one, or all of the above named brethren, to lead the singing, as I found
myself, though belonging to a singing family for three generations,
unable to lead in this branch of the service. And in addition to these,
I was also favored with the company of a young man of great worth and
precious memory. I refer to Lewis Fowler, an Exhorter of great promise,
but who soon after fell under the withering touch of consumption, and
passed on to the better land.

As these side meetings, as I chose to call them, were multiplied, and
awakened general interest in their several localities, we found the
meetings at the chapel also gained in numbers and spiritual power. Soon
the people began to talk of a revival, and pray for its speedy coming.
Nor was it long delayed. The work began at one of the side meetings,
where an old backslider was led back to the cross. The next evening, in
another part of the settlement, there were three seekers at the altar.
The Sabbath now intervened, and it was deemed advisable to open meetings
in the chapel during the ensuing week. Here the meetings were held
nightly for four weeks. As a result, seventy-five persons professed

The working force of the Mission was now put into a more thorough
organization. Several new classes were formed and the old ones carefully
organized, making six in all. A Sunday School was established, bringing
into its promising field the latent talent of the church.

But we had hardly got our home work fully in hand, when there came an
invitation from Stockbridge, several miles below, to extend our labors
into that settlement. There had been a Congregational Mission among the
Stockbridge nation for many years, but its condition was not very

The chapel was located in the central portion of the reservation, and
the Mission was now in charge of Dr. Marsh, a gentleman of education
and ability. He divided his time, however, between the ministerial and
medical professions, and, as a result, the spiritual interests
necessarily languished.

During the progress of our revival in Brothertown, Brother David
Wiggins, who had recently removed to Stockbridge, had been accompanied
to the meeting by several of his neighbors, and they had been converted.
This fact will explain the invitation now given. We accepted, and a
meeting was opened, using the residence of Brother Wiggins as a
temporary chapel. The meetings, however, had hardly been commenced, when
there came a remonstrance from Dr. Marsh. The remonstrance, which was
expressed in very emphatic terms, assumed that I had no right to embrace
any portion of the Stockbridge reservation in my field of labor. But
what was I to do? Some of our own sheep had gone down into Goshen to
find pasturage, and now a few of the lambs of a strange flock had come
to us seeking care and sustenance. Must these be left to the bleak winds
that were evidently sweeping around them, to chill their warm blood in
their veins and cause them to perish in the wilderness? My answer was
respectful but decided. Having been placed, by what seemed to be a
providential intervention, in charge of these souls, I could not
withdraw my oversight. The Doctor laid the matter before the Presiding
Elder, but he refused to interfere, and thus the matter ended. In due
time a class was formed, Brother Wiggins was appointed its leader, and
several souls was brought to Christ.

At this place I found Brother R.S. Hayward. Before my arrival at
Brothertown, this noble man of God, and his most estimable and talented
wife, had purchased a farm on the Stockbridge reservation. They had
already erected a log house, cleared a few acres of land, and founded a
home both for themselves and passing Itinerants. Such a surprise, and
such a cordial welcome as I experienced, fall but seldom to the lot of
a stranger.

Brother Hayward was also an Exhorter. Two Exhorters together, what a
ministerial force! Why, we began to feel that, by the help of the
Master, we could take the whole land for Christ! Plans were immediately
formed to extend our field of operations.

Among these, we decided to hold a series of two days' meetings, and,
that they might prove a grand success, we selected as the localities the
grand centres of population. We appointed the first to be held in Father
Chick's barn, a mile west of the Mission Chapel in Stockbridge. The day
came, and so did the two Exhorters. The people from the two nations came
in throngs. The barn was filled, and the groves around it, until my head
grew dizzy in looking at the multitudes and thinking of what was to
follow. There was a congregation that might awaken the eloquence of a
Bishop, and nobody to conduct the services but two young, inexperienced
Exhorters. The reader may well imagine that there was genuine repentance
on the part of the striplings, and, may be, hastily made vows never
again to challenge a multitude, but these did not solve the problem of
the hour. Of course, as I was "Exhorter in Charge," though the youngest
man, I had to take the morning service. I was so thoroughly frightened
that I have forgotten the text, if I took any; but this point I do
remember most distinctly. It was my first thought, on seeing the crowd,
that I would take for a text, "There is a Lad here with five barley
loaves and two small fishes, but what are they among so many?" But the
more I thought of it, the more frightened I became. Fortunately, I
dismissed it before the hour of service arrived, for I seriously
questioned whether I could furnish the people so generous a feast. How I
got through the service I am unable to say, for I never dared to ask any
one, and my friends, doubtless out of regard to my youth, forbore to
tell me. As to the afternoon service, I need say nothing, for, though
respectable, I have no doubt Brother Hayward has preached many better
sermons since.

But whatever was wanting in the public services, the social meetings of
the day were a great success. Here the brethren came in with their
singing and earnest prayers, and the sisters with their Christian
testimonies, until every heart was moved. In this part of the service
Sister Hayward led off with her accustomed ability and spirit, making a
marked feature of the exercises.

The part borne by Father Chicks, as he was called, the head chief of the
Stockbridge nation, also added not a little to the interest of the
occasion. He had been but recently converted, and his heart was
overflowing. To see such a religious demonstration on his own premises
filled him with joy, and awoke within him the fiery ardor of those other
days when his burning words had swayed his people to the good or evil,
as the tempest bends the forest at its will. Tall and erect in form,
with a brow to rule an empire, he rose in the midst of the great
assembly and came forward to the stand. Every eye was fixed upon him.
Turning to the writer, that he might have assistance, if necessary, in
the use of the English, by the timely suggestion of the right word, he
proceeded to say: "Me been a great sinner, as all my people know." For
the moment he could go no farther. His noble form shook with emotion,
and his manly face was flooded with tears. The whole audience wept with
him, for his tears were sublimely eloquent. Recovering himself, he
simply added, "All me want now is to love him, Christ." Then turning to
his people, with a face as radient as the sunlight, he began to address
them in his own language. I could not understand the import of his
words, but the tones of his voice to our ears were entrancingly
eloquent. As he advanced in his address, his frame, now bearing the
weight of four score years, grew lithe and animated. Soon the whole man
was in a storm of utterance. Had there been no living voice, the
attitudes and swayings of the body, the carriage and transitions of the
head, and the faultless, yet energetic gestures of the hand, were enough
to move the human soul to the depths of its being. But to these were
added the human voice divine with its matchless cadences, now kindling
into a storm of invective, before which the audience shrank, like
shriveled leaves in autumn, then sinking to sepulchral tones that seemed
to challenge a communion with the dead; now wailing an anguish of sorrow
utterly insupportable, and then rising in holy exultation, as one
redeemed from sin and inspired with the triumphant shout of victory.

The address occupied only twenty minutes. But for effectiveness I never
saw its equal. Bending forms and tears, groans and shouts, strangely
commingled in the scene. Eternity alone can reveal the results of
the day.

Among the converts at Brothertown were several interesting cases. I will
only refer to one. It is that of a very noted character, who "feared not
God, nor regarded man." This man, whom I shall not name, was specially
bitter against all ministers, and lost no opportunity to treat them
rudely. His family had taken the precaution to notify me of his
bearing, assuring me that my visits to the house would be agreeable to
them, yet they might subject me to abuse on his part, if not expulsion.
I at once resolved to make an effort to reach him, and in due time found
an opportunity. I discovered that he kept a large number of bee hives in
his yard, and I concluded that he was fond of bees. Having had some
experience in that line, I resolved to make my assault from that
stand-point. The favorable opportunity came sooner than I expected.
Early one morning, as I was passing the apiary, I found him in trouble.
A young colony had left the parent hive and alighted on one of the
topmost branches of a tall tree, and the owner was sending curses after
them in a most profane manner. Approaching him with the compliments of
the morning, I remarked, "These young people are starting out in life
with pretty lofty notions." The reply was a volley of oaths that showed
him to be no novice in profanity. To relieve his embarrassment, and
tranquilize his temper, I suggested that they were not beyond reach.
With a new outbreak of oaths, he replied, "The ladder that old Jacob
dreamed of would not be half tall enough." I told him if he would bring
me a strong cord and a saw I would bring them down for him. He, half
doubtingly, glanced at my slight form, then into my face, as if to
assure himself of my sincerity, and hastened to bring the desired
articles. I fastened one end of the cord to my arm, and the other to the
saw. The ascent was then made, the saw drawn up by the cord, and the
severed limb with its burden let gently down until it dropped in front
of the prepared hive. By the time I reached the ground the bees had
entered the hive, and the raging spirit of their owner had
became tranquil.

Conversation now turned upon the culture of the bee and its habits,
until the way opened to rise from the temporal to the spiritual. The
provident wisdom of the little busy worker, in laying up the needed
store for future use, was especially commended, "But more especially,"
it was added, "is this course the dictate of wisdom in such beings as
have an eternity before them." I saw that a small act of kindness had
won his ear and touched his heart. On leaving, I was cordially invited
to call and see the family. The advantage thus gained was prudently
improved until, in process of time, both himself and family were
garnered for the Master.

But the time had now come to lay aside the anomalous position of
"Exhorter in Charge," and take to myself the appellation of "Preacher in
Charge." Under the advice of the Presiding Elder I still retained my
membership on the Fond du Lac circuit, of which Waupun was a part. The
last Quarterly Meeting of the year was held in Fond du Lac May 31st,
1845, Rev. Wm. H. Sampson presiding. The meeting was well attended. I
was granted a Local Preacher's license and recommended to the Rock River
Conference for admission on trial.

At the close of the quarterly meeting I returned to Brothertown and made
up a company of the good people, to attend a camp-meeting to be held at
Clason's Prairie.

It was the pioneer camp-meeting in the region, and, though the
attendance was not large, it included nearly all the population of the
vicinity. There were ten tents, and as many preachers, with the
Presiding Elder in charge. The spirit of the meeting was excellent, and
a goodly number of souls were gathered for the Master. The services were
greatly enlivened, and clothed with additional interest by the presence
of the several brethren whom I had brought from Brothertown. Their
ready, incomparable spiritual songs, earnest prayers and touching
narratives of Christian experience, awakened intense feeling among all
classes, and gave abundant evidence of the power of the Gospel to save,
even the red man, as well as his brother of lighter complexion and more
favorable surroundings.

Another feature of the meeting fastened itself upon my memory. It was
the persistence with which the good Elder pressed me into service on the
Sabbath before the great congregation, and such a formidable array of
ministers. It was indeed a great trial, but, as on other occasions where
there is a "boy preacher" around, there was no escape. And besides, the
effort took on the nature of a trial sermon, as it was my first effort
after I had been duly licensed to preach. Whether I succeeded fairly or
not in the estimation of my critics, I am not able to say, for I kept my
ear during the balance of the meeting turned the other way, lest I might
"have my feelings hurt."

Returning to Brothertown, I now determined to hold a camp-meeting, under
"our own vine and fig tree," in July. The arrangements were accordingly
made, and at the appointed time, the Presiding Elder and several other
ministers came to our assistance. They were Rev. Messrs. H.R. Colman,
Stephen Jones, Joseph T. Lewis, G.N. Hanson, S.B. Whipple and my dear
father. The attendance was large, the order perfect, and the results of
the meeting specially satisfactory.

Among the converts were several persons from Calumet, a small village of
white people adjoining Brothertown on the south. We now established an
appointment in the village, formed a class and opened a Sunday School.

But the time had come in the history of the Mission when a new and
larger chapel must be erected. To further this object, several boxes of
goods had been forwarded to the Mission by Ladies Benevolent Societies
in the east. They were accordingly opened out in the rooms of the vacant
Parsonage, and, when not otherwise employed, I installed myself as a
salesman of merchandise. It was not a little amusing to begin the
erection of a church after this fashion, but this was not the only queer
thing about the building of the Brothertown Church.

In addition, the Missionary put his own hands to the actual labor of
preparing the materials. It was done in this wise. It was ascertained
that a man in Stockbridge, who owned a fine grove of timber, proposed to
give a certain amount of it for the church, provided the church people
would cut it. And it was further found that the owner of a mill in the
vicinity would give the sawing. We decided at once to accept both
propositions. Word was passed among the people, and on a given day a
score or more of men and teams, with the Missionary among them, made an
onslaught upon the timber. In a few days the task was accomplished, and
the success of the enterprise guaranteed.

The conference year, however, expired at this time, Aug. 20th, and
terminated my labors among this people.

Well did the Apostle say, "I have laid the foundation and another
buildeth thereon." Nor was this experience new to the world in the time
of Paul. It was the work of David to prepare the materials, but it
remained to Solomon to build the Temple. Thus it is in every calling of
life. But it is more manifestly so, perhaps, in the Itinerancy, than in
any other.


Fond du Lac.--First Sermon.--Early Presiding Elders.--Rev. H.W.
Reed.--Rev. James R. Goodrich.--Rev. Jesse Halstead the first
Pastor.--Rev. Harvy S. Bronson.--First Class.--Quarterly
Meeting.--Delegation from Waupun.--Rev. Wm. H. Sampson.--Extended
District.--A Disastrous Fire.--Outside Appointments.--Stowe's
Chapel.--Preacher's Home--Ethiel Humiston.--Byron.--Rev. Joseph T.
Lewis.--Rev. M.L. Noble.--Rev. H.R. Colman.

The first sermon preached in Fond du Lac was delivered at the residence
of Hon. Mason C. Darling, by Rev. Jesse Halstead, Missionary to the
Brothertown people, on the 17th day of November, A.D. 1839. The meeting,
the first of a religious character, was convened at the request of a few
families residing in Fond du Lac and its neighborhood, only seven in
number, they having learned that the ubiquitious Itinerant had struck
their trail, and was making a visit to their settlement. Having been
accustomed to religious services in their eastern homes, these few
scattered families had felt deeply their privations in these western
wilds. The advent of a minister, therefore, opened an era of no common
importance. Few and scattered as were the families, some of them living
several miles away, the small log house was filled.

From this lowly, rude dwelling the songs of Zion ascended in grateful
praise, floating out over the prairie and lingering in the branches of
the old forest trees along the river until they fell upon the ear of the
roaming savage, and arrested his careless footsteps. The voice of prayer
was heard, breathing to heaven in fervid accents a recognition of the
Divine goodness, and an humble consecration of devout worshippers, and
the fair land they had adopted as their home, to God. The Gospel Message
heralded the dispensation of grace, mercy and peace alike to all,
bearing in its wings the gift of healing, and a glorious prophecy of the
coming reign of the Messiah over "the wilderness and solitary place."
Under the word, the pentacostal blessing came down on the people and
filled the humble sanctuary. To many, the memories of other days, and
their dear old homes in the east, were overpowering. The fountains of
feeling were opened and tears came welling up from their depths, until
they brimmed the eyelids of all, and fell in showers, as when the cloud
angel shakes his wings. Those only who have mingled in the first
religious meetings of the new settlement, can rightly appreciate the
intense interest or gauge the overwhelming emotions of such an occasion.

Fond du Lac appears on the General Minutes at the session of the Rock
River Conference, held Aug. 26th, 1840. At that time the entire
Territory was included in two districts. The first swept across from the
southwest to the northeast, making Platteville and Green Bay its extreme
points. And the other embraced the southeastern portion, and extended as
far west and north as Watertown and Summit. The Presiding Elder on the
latter, the Milwaukee, was Rev. Julius Field, and on the former, the
Platteville, Rev. H.W. Reed. The year following the northeastern portion
was erected into a separate district, called Green Bay, and Rev. James
R. Goodrich was made the Presiding Elder. Brother Reed remained another
year on the Platteville District, but during that year it retained only
two charges that are at the present writing included within the bounds
of the Wisconsin Conference. After this date, the labors of Brother Reed
fell within other Conferences, where doubtless a record will be made of
them. His visits, however, have not been forgotten. He was a man of
kindly spirit and great practical wisdom. Wherever he laid the
foundations, they showed the labors of a skillful hand. He still remains
in the Itinerancy, and is the Patriarch of Iowa Methodism.

Brother Goodrich, who succeeded him on the Green Bay portion of the
district, is also remembered with great pleasure by the people. He
remained three years on the district, and during the first two, served
the Green Bay station also. He was transferred to the Chicago District
in 1844, and was succeeded on the Green Bay District by Rev. Wm. H.
Sampson. At the close of the year, Brother Goodrich took a
superannuated relation.

Rev. Jesse Halstead was appointed to the Fond du Lac charge, as before
stated, and the Mission was made to include both Fond du Lac and
Brothertown. He was also continued on the same charge the following
year, the circuit now being changed from the Platteville to the Green
Bay District.

We have spoken at length of the Brothertown portion of the charge in
previous chapters, and may now confine the record to that of Fond du
Lac. During this year a class was formed at Taycheedah with Francis M.
McCarty as leader.

At the session of the Conference, held Aug. 24, 1842, the name of Fond
du Lac again fails to appear on the minutes, showing, doubtless, that,
up to this date, it had not assumed sufficient importance as a religious
centre to retain the name of a circuit. But at this session a charge
appears under the name of Lake Winnebago, with Rev. John P. Gallup as
Pastor. This new charge contained so much of the old Fond du Lac Mission
as had been separated from Brothertown, and, in addition, it swept down
along the west side of the Lake as far as Oshkosh.

At the Conference of 1843, the charge was continued, and Rev. Harvey S.
Bronson was appointed the Pastor. The meetings during the year were
still held in log houses, Dr. Mason C. Darling, Hon. Edward Pier and Mr.
Norman Pier furnishing the accommodations. It was in the residence of
the second named that the first class was formed during this year by
Brother Bronson. The class was composed of Mr. and Mrs. Charles
Olmstead, Mrs. Edward Pier, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel C. Brooks, Mr. and Mrs.
Norman Pier and Mrs. Parsons. Brother Charles Olmstead was the
first leader.

During his pastorate, Brother Bronson also formed a class at Wilkinson's
Settlement, of which a record will be made elsewhere.

In 1844, Fond du Lac again appears on the Minutes as a charge, and
Taycheedah is joined with it. Rev. Joseph T. Lewis was appointed the
Pastor, and Rev. Wm. H. Sampson the Presiding Elder. At the beginning of
this year the meetings were transferred to a frame school house that had
been erected in the village. The tide of emigration was now setting
strongly in the direction of Fond du Lac and vicinity, and new
settlements were being rapidly formed. The charge, following the general
drift of things, extended its boundaries, adding several appointments,
and among them Waupun.

Soon after our settlement at this place, as detailed in a former
chapter, we were informed that a Quarterly Meeting would be held in Fond
du Lac, at a given date, in the near future. We decided to attend. The
day came, and my father and I started on foot for the Quarterly
Meeting. On reaching Fond du Lac we enquired for the Presiding Elder, in
order to ascertain the time and place of meeting, and found that he had
already gone over to the school house where the meeting was to be held.
Being directed, we soon found the place and entered. The Elder sat
behind the desk, ready to begin the services. The Preacher in charge sat
at his right hand, wearing a thoughtful mood. As we took our seats, both
glanced at us, as did several of the congregation, doubtless thinking,
"Well there are two more pioneers, and they must be Methodists to come
thus to church on Saturday."

As soon as I felt assured that the eyes of the congregation were
withdrawn from me, I ventured to look up and take the measure, in turn,
of those present. There were, perhaps, twenty-five in attendance. They
were so like, in their general appearance, congregations usually seen on
such occasions in the east that it was difficult to realize we were in
the far west.

The service proceeded, and at its close the Quarterly Conference was
held. We tarried, and after the opening services, my father arose and
addressed the Elder, stating that we had recently settled at Waupun, and
supposed we were outside of the boundaries of any charge. Yet such was
the flexibility of Methodist institutions, he had no doubt the
boundaries of Fond du Lac Circuit could easily be thrown around Waupun.
If so, we would like to be recognized as members of the church. We were
received on our credentials, my father as an ordained Local Preacher and
I as an Exhorter. Before we left the Quarterly Meeting, it was decided
that Brother Lewis should establish an appointment and form a class at
Waupun. But of this further mention will be made in a subsequent

Rev. Wm. H. Sampson, the Presiding Elder of the District, had been a
member of the Michigan Conference. On invitation, he was transferred to
the Rock River in August, 1842. His first appointment was Milwaukee, of
which mention will be made in another place. The next year he was sent
to Kenosha, then called Southport, to save the church property which had
fallen under financial embarrassment. Having accomplished this task, he
was, in July, 1844, appointed to the charge of Green Bay District.

A better selection for the position could not well have been made. He
was just in the strength of his early manhood, an able preacher, a sound
theologian, a wise administrator, and a man of agreeable presence. The
country was new, society in a formative state, and the material limited.
Under these embarrassments, it required no little skill to lay the
foundations wisely and successfully rear the superstructure.

The District extended from Green Bay on the north to Whitewater on the
south, and from Sheboygan on the east to Portage City on the west, and
included eight charges. To encompass the labor of a single year required
the travel of four thousand miles. The roads were almost impassable,
especially in the northern and eastern portions of the District. During
certain seasons of the year, the buggy and sleigh could be used, but, in
the main, these extended journeys were performed on horseback. A wagon
road had been cut through the timber from Fond du Lac to Lake Michigan,
but only one family, as yet, had found a home between the former place
and Sheboygan Falls.

Between Sheboygan and Manitowoc, a distance of twenty-five miles, there
was no house. The road, if such it might be called, was an unbroken line
of mud of uncertain depth, and any amount of logs, stumps, roots and
stones, to give it variety. The northern portion of the district was a
wilderness, and the few points that had been invaded by settlements,
were almost wholly inaccessable. In the southern portion the roads were
better, but even here, and especially through the Rock River woods, they
were not inviting.

The position of Presiding Elder on the Green Bay District at this time
was no sinecure. The long journeys, the great exposure and the meager
accommodations among the people, were trying in the extreme. But it was
found that Brother Sampson was equal to every emergency.

At this time there were only three churches on the District, and these
were located at Green Bay, Oneida and Brothertown. Brother Sampson
remained a full term on the District, and at its close became connected
with the Lawrence University, in connection with which a record of his
labors will appear. In this work he was engaged until 1851, when his
health failed, and he was stationed at Kenosha. He was recalled the year
following, and until the year 1856 performed such services as his broken
health would permit. He was now made effective and appointed Professor,
but in 1861 he again entered the regular work, being stationed at
Whitewater. His subsequent appointments have been, Presiding Elder of
Milwaukee District, Pastor of Racine, Janesville, Evansville, Sharon,
Milton and Waukau, where he is, at the present writing, doing efficient
work. Brother Sampson has given to the cause long service, a noble life;
and is an honor to the Conference.

The Fourth Quarterly Conference of the year was held at Fond du Lac. It
was at this meeting that I was granted license to preach and recommended
to the Conference, as before stated. The meeting was held in the school
house and convened on the 31st day of May, 1845. The members of the
Quarterly Conference were Rev. Wm. H. Sampson, Presiding Elder, Rev.
Joseph T. Lewis, Preacher, Rev. Silas Miller, Local Preacher, Francis M.
McCarty, Isaac Crofoot, Joseph Stowe, Charles Olmstead, D.C. Brooks,
Cornelius Davis, and myself.

The population of Fond du Lac proper, at the time of our first visit,
was very small. It contained seven buildings and numbered only five
families, including the family of the Presiding Elder. The school house
was the only public building, and for years was used for all public
meetings known to civilization. Subsequently this public convenience
fell a prey to the devouring element. The papers, in announcing the
fire, gravely enumerated the losses incurred by the disastrous
conflagration in this wise: "The Court House has been burned, every
church in the town has been consumed, and even the school house and all
the other public buildings have shared the same fate. There is no
insurance, and the loss cannot be less than two hundred dollars."

During the year an appointment was established at the residence of
Joseph Stowe, Esq., on the old military road, four miles west of Fond
du Lac.

To accommodate the settlement, now rapidly increasing in population,
Brother Stowe built a hall for public worship. Two square buildings were
erected at a suitable distance from each other, with an open court
between. Over this court, and extending from one building to the other,
and including the upper part of one of them, the hall was built, thus
furnishing an upper chamber. The hall was fitted up with seats and
formed a Chapel of no mean pretensions for that early period.

Brother Stowe's Chapel, as the place was sometimes called, soon became a
great institution in that region. A class was formed, and, under the
leadership of Isaac Crofoot, greatly flourished. A few years after, the
leadership passed to the hand of Ethiel Humiston. The members of this
class were Joseph Stowe, Priscilla Stowe, Isaac Crofoot, Ethiel
Humiston, Almira Humiston, Amos Lewis and Susan Lewis.

The class meetings, as well as the public services at this Chapel, now
became objects of general interest. Brother Humiston had been raised
under calvinistic teaching, and, until recently, had utterly failed to
discover "the way of Faith." But, coming to the light under the special
teaching of the Spirit, he had become a most remarkable illustration of
this great arm of strength. In short, nothing could stand before his
victorious Faith. In this Chapel there were most extraordinary displays
of divine power. Nor, under such leadership, need it be deemed strange
that revivals sometimes swept the entire circuit of the year. Nor were
Brother Humiston's labors confined to his own neighborhood exclusively.
He was often invited to other appointments on the charge, and even to
other charges, to aid the preachers in their revival meetings, and his
labors were always greatly blessed. I have known whole congregations
melted to tears under the recitals of his Christian experience. And
could a record be made of the wonderful displays of divine grace in the
experience and labors of this dear brother, it would be a priceless
legacy to the church.

But Brother Stowe was amply compensated for the erection of this temple
for the Lord. In one of the remarkable revivals enjoyed in it, and that,
too, in the midst of harvest, his son, William Page, now the Presiding
Elder of Milwaukee District, was converted. The home of Brother Stowe
was always a stopping place for the preachers. The writer, in going up
and down the land in his early Itinerant labors, has been often
entertained by this dear brother, and his excellent wife and family.
Repeatedly, when weary, I have gone to this home of the pilgrims as I
would have gone to my own father's house, and in doing so, always found
a generous welcome. William, then a lad, was always ready at the gate to
take my horse, and the mother, a motherly, godly woman, as ready to
spread the table.

Another appointment established this year was that of Byron, where a
class was formed by Rev. Joseph T. Lewis on the 18th of July, 1845 The
class was at first formed as a branch from Fond du Lac, but has since
became the head of an independent charge. The first members were Orrin
Morris, Leader, Olive Morris, Abraham Shepherd, Eliza A. Shepherd, Mary
C. Shepherd, and Maria Shepherd. The first sermon preached in Byron
proper was delivered by Rev. Morgan L. Noble, Pastor of Fond du Lac,
January 25th, 1846, and thereafter this place became a regular

A very comfortable church was built at Byron in 1855, under the labors
of Rev. S.V.R. Shepherd, Pastor of the charge. In later years Byron has
become distinguished as the place where the Fond du Lac District Camp
Meetings are held.

Rev. Joseph T. Lewis was received on trial at the Conference held in
Chicago, August 24th, 1842. His first appointment was Elgin, Ill., and
his second, Mutchakinoc. He was born in Wales, and, at the time of his
appointment to Fond du Lac, had been in America only five years. Such
had been his success, however, in acquiring the English language, that
he was now able to speak it with remarkable fluency and correctness.

Brother Lewis was a man of robust constitution, above medium height, had
a strong face, adorned with a Roman nose, and a piercing eye. He had a
vigorous mind, was a thorough student and was already taking rank as a
preacher. During his brief year on the charge, he found time not only to
master the Conference studies, but, by the aid of the writer, to make
considerable progress in the study of Greek. At the end of the year he
reported ninety members. His subsequent appointments were: 1845,
Sheboygan; 1846 and 1847, Beloit. During his last year at Beloit, he was
called from labor to reward. His illness was brief, eight days duration,
but he was ready for the Messenger. Just before his departure, he said
to his most estimable companion: "Tell my brethren of the Rock River
Conference that I die shouting happy." Thus fell, on the 22d day of
May, 1848, one of the most promising young men of the Conference. Truly
it is said: "God buries his workmen, yet carries on his work." The
Conference extended to the accomplished and devoted widow their profound
sympathy. Nor will it be amiss to say in this connection, that the widow
several years after became the wife of Rev. Stephen Adams, of Beloit,
and up to this hour is most highly esteemed by all who have the pleasure
of an acquaintance.

In 1845, Rev. Morgan L. Noble was appointed to the Fond du Lac charge
and remained two years. He was received by the Rock River Conference in
1843, and was appointed to Du Page Circuit with Rev. Elihu Springer as
Preacher in Charge. Brother Noble was a man of superior talent, but his
health was not equal to the Itinerancy. At the close of his term at Fond
du Lac, he took a location and entered secular pursuits.

In 1847 Rev. Henry R. Colman was sent to Fond du Lac, and also remained
two years.

Brother Colman entered the New York Conference in May, 1831, and his
first appointment was Warren Circuit, with Rev. Joseph McCreery as his
colleague. This charge was located forty miles from his residence and
included twenty-four hundred square miles. His visits to his family were
few, and the year was one of most severe labor. His receipts were only
one hundred and forty dollars, showing that pioneer work had not at that
period wholly ceased in the older States. Luzerne, his next field, gave
him one hundred and twenty dollars. The next year he traveled
Bridgeport, a large, four weeks circuit, and had for colleague Rev. J.G.
Whitford. On this charge the receipts for the first two quarters were
not equal to his moving expenses. He was next stationed at Ticonderoga,
Westport and Essex, and Berne, successively, when he was invited by Rev.
John Clark, who was east attending the General Conference of 1840, to
come west and take charge of the Oneida Indian Mission. He consented,
and at the following session of the Troy Conference he was transferred
to the Rock River and assigned to that field, where he arrived September
19th, 1840.

He remained on this Mission five years and was then appointed to
Brothertown as my successor. At the expiration of two years he was
appointed to Fond du Lac, as above stated, where he contracted a severe
cold, but thinking to remove it without difficulty, continued his
labors. It was a fatal step. Bronchitis set in and he lost his voice.
He was granted a superannuated relation at the session of the Wisconsin
Conference, held at Beloit, July 27, 1849. From this attack he has never
sufficiently recovered to resume his labors.

The loss of Brother Colman from the work in the Conference was severely
felt. Of solid endowments, respectable attainments, large practicable
knowledge and excellent administrative abilities, his services seemed
almost necessary to the success of the work. We can only refer such
difficult problems to the Great Head of the church for solution.

During the nine years of Brother Colman's service in Wisconsin, he was
abundant in labor. He was emphatically a man of one work. His salary,
like that of his co-laborers, was small, making an average of only two
hundred and fifty dollars a year. Certainly this was a small provision
for himself, wife and five children. By a judicious investment at an
early day, however, he is placed beyond the reach of want. He still
lives in the affections of his brethren, and, after a superannuation of
twenty-five years, his visits to the sessions of the Conference always
assure him a hearty greeting from his old friends.


Green Lake Mission.--Waupun.--First Class.--Meetings held at Dr.
Bowmans.--Revival.--Two Local Preachers.--Short Cut to Cereseo.--Boxing
the Compass.--Wisconsin Phalanx.--First Society.--Dining Hall Chapel.
Discussions.--Antiquated Views.--Green Lake.--Shadrach Burdicks.--Visit
to Dartford.--Little Green Lake.--The New Chorister.--Markasan. Lake

The Rock River Conference, for the year 1845, held its session at Peoria
on the 20th day of August. At this Conference I was received on trial
and appointed to Green Lake Mission. The class admitted this year
numbered twenty-three, and among them were Wesley Lattin, Seth W. Ford
and Joseph M. Walker.

Green Lake Mission, somewhat undefined in its geographical boundaries,
was intended to include the large tract of beautiful prairie and opening
country lying west and southwest of Fond du Lac. It took its name from a
lake on what was believed to be its northern boundary, five miles west
of Ripon. As I did not attend the Conference, I awaited the return of
the Presiding Elder at Waupun. Being informed of my appointment, I
enquired after its boundaries. The Elder facetiously replied, "Fix a
point in the centre of Winnebago Marsh," since called Lake Horicon, "and
draw a line to the north pole, and another due west to the Rocky
Mountains, and you will have your eastern and southern boundaries. As to
the other lines you need not be particular, as you will find no Dr.
Marsh in your way to circumscribe your ambition." At the date of which
we write, a few small settlements only had been formed within the
limits of the Mission, but emigration was moving rapidly in that
direction, and it was believed that an ample field would soon be found.

At Waupun a class had been formed during the preceding year, as above
stated, consisting of my father's family, six persons in all, as
follows: Rev. Silas Miller, Eunice Miller, Henry L. Hilyar, Malvina F.
Hilyar, Ezekiel T. Miller and myself. This band consisted of three
officers and three privates. My father was the Local Preacher, my
brother the Class Leader, and I the Exhorter. My mother, sister and
sister's husband were the members.

Rev. Samuel Smith, an aged Local Preacher, and father of Rev. Charles
Smith, a worthy member of the Wisconsin Conference, had settled, with
his family, in Waupun during the preceding year, and had held religious
services in private dwellings, whenever convenient.

Soon after the class was formed, Father Smith, as he was called, and his
family identified themselves with the infant society and became
efficient laborers in the Lord's vinyard. At the same time the class was
strengthened by the addition of Dr. Brooks Bowman and his good lady.
Others were added during the year, including S.J. Mattoon, Mr. and Mrs.
S.A.L. Davis, Mr. and Mrs. G.W. Sexmith and Mrs. F.F. Davis. The class
now numbered twenty-two members.

A building had been erected by the contributions of the people in the
village and country adjacent, for the purpose of a chapel and a school
house. Regular services had been held in the new edifice for several
months, both morning and evening. But during the absence of the Pastor
at Conference, two ministers of sister denominations came to the village
and established appointments, occupying the house on alternate
Sabbaths, thereby displacing the former occupants altogether.

On taking charge of the work, I called on the new comers and expressed a
desire to occupy the house for the regular appointment once in two
weeks, but found they were not disposed to meet my wishes. I suggested
that such had been the previous custom and that our appointments were so
arranged, we could not work to any other than a two weeks' plan. But
finding them still indisposed to accommodate me, I merely stated to them
that the house, having been built mostly by my people, and in part by
myself, I could claim as a right what I had begged as a favor, but,
since I saw they were indisposed to give me the only hour that would
accommodate the balance of my work, I should seek a place elsewhere. At
this juncture Dr. Brooks Bowman, the physician of the village,
generously offered his residence as a temporary chapel, and it was
gratefully accepted. The wisdom of the movement was soon shown by the
result. The people came to the private house, and, when they could find
no room within, they uncomplainingly stood without. The Lord poured out
his spirit upon the people abundantly.

The eldest daughter of our generous host, as the first trophy of grace,
was converted. Other conversions followed, and in a short time the
number increased to twenty. Among them were William McElroy and wife and
several others, who became leading and influential members of the church
in Waupun.

The opposition soon came to naught, and the house was left to our
peaceable occupancy. The Local Preachers rendered valuable services in
the protracted meeting, and also alternated in filling the appointment
during my absence in caring for other portions of the charge. Father
Smith was not able to visit other neighborhoods, but my father was
abundant in labors, extending his visits to every part of the charge and
preaching usually twice, and sometimes three times on the Sabbath.

Having spent my first Sabbath at Waupun I next visited Ceresco, where a
settlement had been made by the Wisconsin Phalanx, a Fourierite
Association. There was no direct route, as all previous travel had taken
a circuit to the west, thereby striking the trail from Watertown. But I
deemed it best to open a track at the outset across the country to the
point of destination. Obtaining a horse and saddle, and substituting a
pocket compass for the saddlebags, as that evidence of civilization had
not yet reached the village, I started out on my trip. Unfortunately the
day was cloudy, and in the absence of the sun recourse at an early stage
of the journey was had to the faithful compass, but unhappily not soon
enough to avoid perplexity. After having traveled some distance, as I
believed in the right direction, I fell into a questioning, whether I
should go to the right or left of a marsh lying directly before me. The
compass was brought to aid in deciding the question. It was poised on
the knob of the saddle, when, to my surprise, it seemed to point several
degrees too far to the left. I boxed the truant thing again and again,
but could not bring the needle to point in any other direction. So I
concluded, if the mountain would not come to Mahomet, Mahomet must go to
the mountain. Out upon the trackless wilds, absolutely without any other
guide, it would not do to ignore the compass. But now a new question
arose. If the needle tells the truth, I must have been going in the
wrong direction for, perhaps, some considerable distance. In such case,
it is impossible to conjecture how far I may be out of the direct line
of travel or how far I may be astray. The needle may point to the north
pole, but I cannot be sure that, if I follow its guidance now, I will
find Ceresco in the line of travel. But there was no time to be lost.
So, deciding that I must follow the compass, I reined my horse into line
and started on, I had not gone far, however, before I found myself
confronted by another large marsh. This must be avoided, and hence I
made a circuit to the west and passed it, but in doing so, much precious
time was lost, and speedily the night drew on. I was now without sun,
stars or even compass. The stillness of the prairie was painful. And the
scattered trees of the openings in the deepening shades of the evening
looked more like muffled ghosts with huge umbrellas, than the beautiful
groves they had appeared when seen by the light of day. Pushing on
through the darkness, I soon found I was nearer my destination than I
supposed. Leaving the groves on the right and passing over the prairie
to the left, I had not gone far when a light was visible in the
distance. On approaching, I found that I had reached Ceresco, where I
was most hospitably entertained by Rev. Uriel Farmin, a Local Preacher
and a member of the Association.

The Wisconsin Phalanx came from the southeastern portion of the
Territory and settled at this point in May, 1844.

Soon after their settlement, Rev. Wm. H. Sampson, Presiding Elder of
Green Bay District, visited the place and held the first religious
service of which I can obtain information. Not long after the minister
in charge of the Winnebago Lake Mission at Oshkosh visited Ceresco, and
formed a class of seven members. The names, as far as ascertained, were
Rev. Uriel Farmin and wife, Mrs. Morris Farmin, Mrs. Beckwith and
George Limbert. The first named was appointed Leader.

The Association had erected two long buildings, one for a tenement house
and the other for a dining hall. The first was built with a wide hall
running from one end to the other. On either side of this hall suits of
rooms had been provided for the accommodation of the several families,
giving to each family at least a parlor and one or more sleeping
apartments, according to its needs. Here families were as exclusive in
their relations as good neighborhood could well require. The dining hall
was a long, narrow building, giving in its width, barely room enough for
the table, a row of persons on each side, and the free movement of the
waiters behind them. The tables would accommodate one hundred and fifty
at a fitting. In the rear of the dining hall, there was a large kitchen
in which the cooking was done for the entire Association. The service of
the kitchen, as well as every other department, was performed by persons
who either volunteered or were assigned to their positions by lot, and
were paid by the hour from the common fund. Divided into squads, each
section had a foreman or directress, elected at reasonable intervals. It
was expected that all the members would take their meals at the common
table, yet exceptions were allowed in certain cases. It was affirmed
that with this division of labor and a common table, the cost of board
for a single individual per week did not exceed fifty cents.

The Association had under cultivation several hundred acres of land and
were now putting flour mills in operation. Goods were purchased at
wholesale by the Association and re-sold to individuals at the same
rate. A school had been established and was under the care of a very
competent teacher. Thus, externally, everything appeared to promise well
and the people seemed orderly and happy. But, like all other enterprises
of the same character, selfishness and corruption finally crept in, and
the institution fell into decay, and ultimately disappeared.

The people of Ceresco were always gratified to receive the attention of
the outside world, and their hospitalities were proverbial. And, though
not a few of the leading men were professed Infidels, they always
received ministers gladly and treated them with consideration. They were
specially gratified to have religious services held among them, and the
ringing of the bell would generally insure a good audience. The dining
hall was used as a Chapel until a more convenient place was provided in
the erection of a large school house.

Here in the low, long hall I held forth on the following Sabbath. The
position was an awkward one. The table stood in the middle of the hall,
reaching from one end to the other. The congregation was seated on each
side in long rows. The preacher stood at the head of the table and threw
his message along the narrow defile, greatly to his own annoyance, if
not the discomfort of the people. To me the task was exceedingly
disagreeable. My thin, feminine voice seemed to spend its volume before
it had reached the middle of the line. Then, my rapid manner of speaking
seemed to send the words in wild confusion into the distant part of the
hall. But I soon learned to gauge my voice to the place, and,
thereafter, I enjoyed unusual freedom of speech.

At the close of the services, the table was spread for dinner. I was
assigned the head of the table, with the President of the Association at
my right, and the Vice President at my left. Both of these gentlemen
were decidedly Infidel in their views, and have since become somewhat
distinguished as champions of Unbelief. They always treated me with
courtesy, however, and sought to make my visits agreeable.

It was their custom to bring up some item in the sermon as the subject
of discussion at the table. These discussions often became animated.
But, having been somewhat schooled in that line of things, I always
required a definite statement of position on both sides before any
discussion could be had on the point assailed. This precaution kept the
coast clear, and made these table conversations profitable. The
President repeatedly expressed his gratification with the conversations,
and also with the religious services of the day. And on one occasion he
took the freedom to say, "Though I am not a believer in Christianity,
yet I think there is nothing in the world that can so effectually
harmonize the views and blend the sympathies of the community as these
religious services." I took the occasion to suggest to him that his
admission carried with it a complete vindication of the claims of
religion and a proof of its Divine origin.

On another occasion, as I was mounting my horse to leave, the President
expressed a wish that I would visit Fox Lake and establish an
appointment in that village, assuring me that he had friends there, very
intelligent people, who would receive me cordially and appreciate my
labors. I enquired whether there were not religious services established
already in Fox Lake. "Oh! yes," he replied, "but they are not up to the
times. They are conducted by a Local Preacher from Waupun, a gentleman
whom I greatly respect, but he is quite antiquated in some of his
views." I enquired if he was free to state what these views were. He
replied: "Why, sir, he retains the old notion that the world was made
in six days." "Well, was it not, Judge?" "Why, certainly not," he
answered, "any man at all abreast with the times knows better than
that." Willing to put the Judge on the defensive whenever I could, I
said; "Well, Judge, if it required more than six days, will you have the
goodness to tell me just how long it did take to make it?" The Judge
felt the awkward position he was in, and before he could recover I had
bidden him good bye and was on my way. Nor was he less embarrassed when
he came to learn that the old gentleman to whom he referred was
my father.

Having spent the Sabbath at Ceresco, I now started in a southwesterly
direction to explore the country along the south side of Green Lake,
with the purpose to establish an appointment should a suitable location
be found. After traveling about three miles, I came to a large log
house, which with its surroundings seemed to say, "We have come to
stay." Hitching my horse to the limb of a tree near the gate, I
approached the house. I was met at the door by a lady of fine presence
and intelligent bearing, who invited me to enter and be seated.

I began the conversation with the usual compliments to the weather and
the beautiful country about Green Lake. Receiving frank responses to
these common places, I next enquired if there were still good locations
untaken in the neighborhood. Her intelligent face radiated a smile as
her sharp eyes gave me a searching glance, which seemed to say, "You
can't come any land-seeking dodge on me, you are a Minister." Changing
the conversation, I soon found that the proprietor of the house was a
Mr. Dakin, she, his sister, Mrs. White, and that she was a Methodist. At
a subsequent visit to Ceresco I had the pleasure to enter her name upon
the list of members.

Passing on I came to the residence of Mr. Satterlee Clark, since widely
known in the State, but he being absent I stopped only a few moments and
continued my exploration. The next house I visited was located near a
beautiful spring in a grove of timber. The building was small, but the
surroundings indicated thrift. I rode up to the door and saw a lady at
her wash-tub. She threw the suds from her hands and came to the door. In
a moment I recognized her as a lady whom I had known in the State of New
York. She did not recognize me, however, as I had doubtless changed very
much since she had seen me. But she was not mistaken in thinking I was a
Minister. She invited me to tarry for dinner, saying her husband would
soon be in.

When Shadrach Burdick, for that was the name of the husband, came to
dinner he found his house invaded by the irrepressible Itinerancy. He
gave me a cordial welcome, expressed his satisfaction that his new
location did not lie beyond the limits of Gospel agencies, and urged me
to make his house my home whenever I might come that way. I saw that he
did not recognize me, and concluded not to make myself known until the
surprise could be made more complete. Conversation turned on the
character of the settlement, the number of families and the prospect of
opening an appointment. It was known that a few families had settled in
the vicinity, but mine host was not informed as to their religious
proclivities. I decided at once to visit every family in the

Passing down along the shore of Green Lake and thence up through the
openings to the margin of the prairie, I found a half dozen families. I
found also that, without exception, they were desirous to have religious
meetings established in the neighborhood. Receiving unexpected
encouragement, I decided to hold a meeting before I left. Fixing on the
most central residence as our first chapel, we held service on Wednesday
evening. After preaching, I proceeded to form a class, and received
eleven names. Brother Burdick was appointed the Leader. He demurred, but
I was not disposed to excuse him. I then quietly stated to the class
that I had known their Leader on the Crumhorn, in the State of New York,
where he held the same position, and I was fully persuaded there had
been no mistake in the selection. The Leader was not a little surprised
at this turn of things, and concluded that he had nothing further to
say, yet doubtless thought, "How strange it is that lads in so short a
time will grow to be men?"

At a subsequent visit I crossed the Lake in a small boat to explore the
neighborhood where Dartford is now located, but found no settlement. An
appointment, however, was opened at this point the following year with
Wm. C. Sherwood as the leading spirit. At the present writing, Dartford
has become a fine village, has a good Church, an energetic society, and
has enjoyed the services of several of the strong men of the Conference.

At Green Lake the congregations and class grew rapidly, and before the
expiration of the year the appointment had gained considerable
prominence. As soon as a school house was built, the meetings were
removed to it and continued there until 1870, when a fine Church
was erected.

Leaving Green Lake and resuming my journey of exploration, I came to
Little Green Lake. Here I found a four corners with a store on one side
and a residence on the other. The residence was occupied by a Mr.
Jewell, whose wife was a relative of Rev. D. P. Kidder, then in charge
of our Sunday School literature. My acquaintance with him soon made me
acquainted with this most excellent family. On their kind invitation I
established an appointment in their house, which was continued until
their removal from the place. It was then removed to the residence of
Mr. Roby, who, with his wife, was a member of the church. A small class
was now formed. Before the expiration of the year the appointment was
moved a mile south to the school house in Mackford. And after a time it
was taken down to Markesan, a mile west of Mackford.

If was at this place that I assumed the role of Chorister, the
occurrence transpiring in this wise. I announced my opening hymn,
supposing that some one present would be able to lead the singing, but
to my surprise not one was disposed to serve us. I had never attempted
such a thing in my life as to "raise a tune" in public, and the only
claim I had ever set up as a qualification was that I could put more
tunes to each line of a hymn than any one that I had ever known. But
something must be done, so I concluded to lead off. Hunting through the
garret of my memory, I brought out old Balerma for the occasion. To my
surprise, I went through the performance very much to my own
satisfaction and comfort. And more, when I got along to the third verse,
several persons in the congregation began to follow, with a manifest
purpose to learn my tune. I dispensed with further singing, and at the
close of the service a good brother came forward and remarked: "There
were several ladies in the congregation who are excellent singers, and
if you had sung a tune with which they were acquainted, they could have
helped you very much." Whereupon I concluded that if I were unable to
sing the most familiar tune in the book, so that a bevy of good singers
could discern what I was trying to render, I certainly could never
succeed as a chorister. I never became the owner of a tuning fork.

In the changes which followed in the boundaries of the charges, Markesan
was assigned first to one and then to another, but several years ago it
came to the surface as the head of a circuit. And it now has a
respectable standing as a charge with a good Church and Parsonage.

Resuming my search for new settlement, I next visited Lake Maria. Here I
first called at the house of Mr. Langdon. I was kindly received, and
when my errand was made known I was pressingly invited to remain for the
night, and hold a meeting before leaving the neighborhood. I consented,
and on the following evening we held service in Mr. Langdon's house.
Lake Maria was now taken into the list of appointments and was visited
regularly during the year. At my third visit, which occurred on the 30th
day of November, 1845, I formed a class, consisting of Lyman L. Austin,
Amanda M. Austin, Mrs. L. Martin, Mrs. Maria Langdon, David C. Jones and
Maryette Jones. A protracted meeting was held soon after and thirty
persons were converted. The fruit of this meeting carried the membership
during the year up to twenty-five. Among the additions were Lansing
Martin, Wm. Hare, Mrs. Susan Woodworth, and others, who have been
pillars in the church.


Green Lake Mission Continued.--Quarterly Meeting at Oshkosh.--Rev. G. N.
Hanson.--Lake Apuckaway.--Lost and Found.--Salt and Potatoes.--Mill
Creek.--Rock River.--Rev. J.M.S. Maxson.--Oakfield.--Cold Bath.--Fox
Lake.--Gospel vs. Whiskey.--On Time.--Badger Hill.--S.A.L.
Davis.--Miller's Mill.--G. W. Sexmith.--Burnett.--William
Willard.--Grand River.--David Wood.

It had been arranged at the Conference that Green Lake and Winnebago
Lake Missions should hold their Quarterly Meetings together. The first
was now to be held at Oshkosh. In going, I took the trail leading from
Ceresco to Oshkosh, and traveled the whole distance without finding a
house. But at the intersection of the Fond du Lac and Ceresco trails I
met Brother Sampson, the Presiding Elder.

On our arrival at Oshkosh we found it had been arranged to hold the
services on Saturday in a private house on the south side of the river.
The Elder preached, and at the close of the service, the Quarterly
Conference was convened under a tree, thereby giving the house to the
needed preparations for dinner.

Rev. G.N. Hanson was the Pastor at Oshkosh. He was a single man, several
years my senior, of a kind and gentle spirit, given to books and a fair
Preacher. I had known him in the State of New York, where we were both
Exhorters, and, also, both engaged in teaching. Brother Hanson entered
the Rock River Conference in 1844, and his first charge was Manitowoc.
He had been stationed on the Winnebago Lake Mission at the recent
Conference and was doing a good work. After leaving this charge he
rendered effective service in other fields until 1852, when, having
almost lost the use of his voice, he took a superannuated relation. But
as soon thereafter as his health would permit, he entered the service of
the Bible Cause and for three years proved an efficient Agent. In this
work his field of labor lay mostly in the new and sparsely settled
regions of the Chippewa Valley, and along the frontiers of Minnesota.
But here he evinced the same perseverance and self-denial which had
characterized his whole life. Leaving his most estimable companion, he
took the Word of God, and though he could no longer give it a living
voice, he bore it joyfully to the families of the land, through the
forest and marshes of those new counties, often throwing his shadow upon
the coming footsteps of the Itinerant himself. But at last he was
compelled to yield to the hand of disease which had long rested upon
him. He passed over the river in holy triumph in 1857.

On Sabbath the meeting was held in a frame building, the first in the
place, that had been erected for a store. It had been roofed and
enclosed, but there were no doors or windows. Rude seats had been
arranged and the accommodations were ample. The Elder preached in the
morning and the writer, as the visiting Pastor, in the afternoon. The
meeting was well attended and greatly enjoyed by all. The people, of
course, were mostly strangers to each other, and, coming from different
parts of the world, were accustomed to various modes of worship. But
they seemed to forget their differences, and recognize Christ only as
their common Savior.

At this time Oshkosh was but little more than a mere trading post. The
few families there were mostly on farms or claims in the vicinity of the
river or lake. During my stay I was entertained by Brother William W.
Wright, whose house, for many years thereafter, was a home for the
Itinerant ministers.

The Quarterly Meeting passed off very pleasantly, and at its close I
returned to my work of exploration on the Green Lake Mission.

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