Part 5 out of 5
permit. The invitation was accepted, and at the next session the
Delegates were cordially received.
At this time the question of the Ecclesiastical Reconstruction of the
South was beginning to agitate the Church. The Conference, always
radical on all the great questions of the day, took advanced ground, and
consistently adhered to its positions throughout the discussion. The
subsequent history of the Southern work has fully justified the
With this session of the Conference began the Cabinet work of my third
term as Presiding Elder. Adhering to my former convictions, I favored
only such changes in the appointments as were dictated by the law of the
Church and stern necessity. In connection with the appointments, an
effort was made to secure my assignment to the station in Fond du Lac,
but when it was known that a Committee from the Official Board was in
attendance upon the Conference, the Ministers and Laymen of the District
entered a vigorous remonstrance.
The Bishop kindly enquired whether I had any suggestions to make. I
answered, "I have never interfered in making my own appointments; and it
is too late to begin now. As you and the Cabinet understand the case,
having had a full representation from both sides, I will step aside and
let you decide the matter." After an absence of an hour, I returned, and
found my name still at the head of the District.
At the close of the session I returned to Fond du Lac and entered upon
another year of taxing labor. The work was growing rapidly, and it was
necessary to reconstruct and enlarge several of the Churches, and build
others. In several localities we succeeded in a consolidation of the
work, thereby making it possible to erect several Churches. Instead of
maintaining feeble appointments at contiguous school houses, we found it
better to combine two or more of them, and build a Church in a central
locality. In this way the Mulleton, Hingham, Leroy, Markesan, Lake
Maria, and several other Churches found an existence.
During the winter season of this year, I was largely engaged with the
several Pastors in protracted meetings. And during the first half of the
year, I preached on an average seven sermons a week. The Pastors were a
band of devoted and earnest workers, and the year was one of
At Fond du Lac a charge of Pastors occurred, as the term of the former
Pastor had expired. His successor was Rev. O.J. Cowles. a young man of
excellent promise. He was a graduate of Cornell College in 1860, and of
the Garrett Biblical Institute in 1863. He entered the Conference the
same year, and had been stationed at Kenosha, Berlin, and Appleton.
After his two years of service in Fond du Lac, he was stationed three
years each at Racine and Oshkosh.
Brother Cowles is a man of superior talent and excellent spirit. He is
one of the rising men of the Conference, and bids fair to take a front
rank. At this writing he is stationed at Whitewater, where he is in the
midst of a gracious revival.
Beaver Dam Station was added this year to the District. Beaver Dam was
settled by members of the Presbyterian Church, and hence its earliest
religious services were held by the Ministers of that denomination. The
first Methodist appointment was established by Rev. A.P. Allen in 1846,
being then Pastor of Waupun Circuit as my successor. Rev. Henry Requa,
as before stated, was employed by the Elder as his assistant. During the
year these earnest laborers held a protracted meeting, which resulted in
several conversions. The first class was formed by Brother Allen, and
consisted of L.H. Marvin, Leader, Mr. and Mrs. Peters, Bennett Gordon,
and Mrs. Reuben Dexter. Brother Marvin still resides at Beaver Dam.
The meetings were held in L.H. Marvin's cabinet shop, until other
provision could be made. The first Church, a frame building twenty-six
by forty feet in size, was commenced by Brother Allen in the winter of
1846 and '47, and completed the following year by Brother Requa. The
building was enlarged under the Pastorate of Rev. I.M. Leihy in 1859.
Under the Pastorate of Rev. A.A. Reed in 1870 and 1871, a large brick
Church was erected, the writer being invited to lay the corner-stone the
first year, and preach the dedicatory sermon the second. During Brother
Reed's Pastorate a great revival also occurred, under the labors of Mrs.
Maggie N. Van Cott, which added greatly to the strength of the Church.
At the present writing, the Pastor is Rev. Isaac Wiltse, of whom mention
will be made in a subsequent chapter.
Fall River and Columbus were assigned to the District this year from the
Janesville District. At the organization of the work they constituted
one Circuit, but had now grown to be independent charges.
Fall River Society was organized in the log house of Clark Smith, on
Fountain Prairie, by Rev. Stephen Jones in 1844, the locality being at
the time connected with the old Aztalan Circuit. The members were Rev.
E.J. Smith, of whom mention is made elsewhere, his wife, Martha Smith,
Clark Smith, Sarah Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Aaron E. Houghton. Brother E.J.
Smith was appointed Leader.
A log school house, the first built in the county, was erected soon
after, and the meetings were transferred to it. The population grew
rapidly, being attracted by the beautiful location, and in due time
there was a strong society. Under the energetic and effective labors of
the Leader and his talented lady, this society was instrumental in the
conversion of many souls.
In process of time a mill was built on the stream at Fall River. A fine
school house was soon after erected, and the meetings removed to it, as
the locality had become more central than the one on the Prairie. At the
present writing, Fall River holds a most respectable rank as a charge,
has a good Church, and a convenient Parsonage.
Columbus was visited by Rev. Stephen Jones in 1844, he having been
appointed to Aztalan Circuit the preceding autumn. He preached the first
sermon in the log dwelling house of Brigham Campbell, but I am unable to
fix the date. Nor am I able to give the organization of the first class,
but it is probable that during the early years the members in this
locality were connected with the Society on Fountain Prairie.
In 1859 Columbus was made a station, and Rev. Henry Colman was appointed
Pastor. The Society built their first Church, a frame structure, in an
unfortunate location, but have now displaced it by a fine brick edifice,
which they have placed in the central portion of the village. It is one
of the best Churches in the interior of the State.
The present Pastor is Rev. Henry Sewell, who entered the Conference in
1858. His appointments have been Porter, Edgerton and Stoughton,
Orfordville, Utter's Corners, Emerald Grove and Maxonville, Sun Prairie,
Lake Mills, Oconomowoc, and Columbus. Brother Sewell is one of the most
efficient men of the Conference. At Sun Prairie, he built a ten thousand
dollar Church, and has succeeded in completing the enterprise at
Columbus. In revival work Brother Sewell has met with rare success,
usually increasing the membership of his charges at least one
hundred per cent.
The Conference of 1867 was held Oct. 2d at Beaver Dam, Bishop Simpson
presiding, and the same Secretaries were re-elected.
The action of the Conference on the subject of Lay Delegation will
appear in the following resolutions:
"Resolved, That we are in favor of the representation of the Laity in
Annual and General Conference."
"Resolved, That our Delegates to the next General Conference be
instructed to use their influence in favor of such representation."
Having thus laid down the platform, the Conference next proceeded to
elect the Delegates to the General Conference, resulting in the choice
of G.M. Steele, W.G. Miller, Samuel Fallows, Henry Bannister, and C.D.
Two other subjects specially engaged the attention of the Conference at
this session. I refer to the "Sabbath Question," and "Ministerial
Education." Appropriate resolutions were adopted, and measures taken to
give efficiency to the timely expression of sentiment.
My work on the District opened at Cotton Street, Fond du Lac. This
charge, under the name of Arndt Street, or North Fond du Lac, had been
merged in the Division Street Station, and was now re-organized with
Rev. M.D. Warner as Pastor. A new Church had been commenced during the
preceding year, and it was now completed. The dedicatory services were
conducted by the lamented Dr. T.M. Eddy.
Brandon was the next charge visited, the Pastor being my old friend Rev.
R.S. Hayward, whose acquaintance, it will be remembered, I made as an
Exhorter at Brothertown.
Brother Hayward entered the Conference in 1850, and had been stationed
at Waupaca, Dartford, Metomon, Berlin, Wausau, and Sheboygan. He then
served as Presiding Elder on the Waupaca District a full term, and was
subsequently stationed at Vinland and Omro. In all these fields he had
acquitted himself creditably, and was now doing a good work at Brandon.
After leaving Brandon, he has served North Oshkosh, Clemensville,
Menasha, Utica and Zion. At the last named he is now hard at work for
Rev. A.A. Reed, who had just completed a three years' term at Brandon,
was now at Sheboygan Falls. This charge was continuing to hold a fair
rank in the Conference, and during Brother Reed's Pastorate received
many accessions, and also improved the Church property.
Brother Reed entered the Conference in 1859. His appointments had been
Empire, Lamartine, Byron, Greenbush, and Brandon. At the close of a
three years' term at Sheboygan Falls, he was sent to Beaver Dam, where
he succeeded, as before stated, in erecting a fine Church, and greatly
multiplying the membership. His present field, the Agency of the
Lawrence University, is one of great labor. But in this work, as well as
in whatever may be assigned him, Brother Reed is a grand success, and
will accomplish his task.
The General Conference met in the month of May of this year in Chicago.
During the session I was entertained by an old Milwaukee friend, Capt.
J.C. Henderson, long known on the Lakes as the Sabbath keeping Captain.
The two great questions that came before the body were Lay Delegation,
and the admission of the Delegates from the newly formed Conferences in
the South. Both measures received the approval of the General
Conference, but as they were brought to the attention of the reader
through the periodicals of the Church, I need not burden these pages
with a further reference to them.
The Conference of 1868 was held Oct. 1st at Racine, Bishop Ames
presiding. The term of Rev. Joseph Anderson on the Waupaca District
having expired, one of the young, men of the Conference was appointed as
his successor. I refer to Rev. T.C. Wilson.
This promising brother graduated from the Lawrence University in 1859,
and was admitted to the Conference in 1862. Before being appointed to
the District he had been stationed at East Troy, Clinton, and Neenah.
His labors on the District were highly appreciated, and, at the close of
his term in 1872, he was appointed Presiding Elder of the Appleton
District, where he is, at this writing, still employed in the good work.
He is recognized as a man of thorough scholarship, a good Preacher, and
a successful laborer in the vineyard.
At the close of the Conference, the writer was returned to the Fond du
Lac District for a fourth year. On the District there were but few
changes, but among them was the bringing of two new men to Fond du Lac.
Rev. H.C. Tilton, appointed to Division Street, entered the Maine
Conference July 21st, 1841. His appointments in that Conference were
Mount Desert, Deer Island, Steuben, North Penobscot and North
Bucksport. At the division of the Conference he fell into East Maine,
and, before coming West, was stationed at Frankfort, Hampden, Bangor,
Rockland and Damariscotta.
Brother Tilton came to the Wisconsin Conference by transfer in 1857. His
appointments have been Summerfield, Janesville, Janesville District,
Racine District, Asbury, Division Street. Court Street, Janesville,
Brother Tilton is a veteran in the work, having been in the Itinerancy
nearly thirty-four years. Having possessed a vigorous constitution and
firm health, he has taken his full share of privation and hard work. His
services have always been in special demand, and he has not spared
himself. He is a man of vigorous intellect and a ready delivery, his
pulpit efforts always commanding the attention of the people. At this
writing he is building in Appleton one of the best Churches in the
Rev. John Hill entered the North Indiana Conference in 1855. His
appointments were Elkhart, La Grange, La Grove, Indianapolis, Anderson,
Greenfield and Fort Wayne. He came to the Wisconsin Conference by
transfer this year, and Cotton Street was his first charge. His next
appointment was Summerfield, Milwaukee, and the last was Bay View. Here
he was thrown from a wagon by the sudden starting of the horse, and,
falling upon his head, received a severe injury, from which he died in
Brother Hill was a man of small frame, but a large brain and a generous
heart. His style of speech was clear, distinct and rapid. He could
reason a question with great force, and could fringe the most
commonplace subjects with wit and humor. He was a true man, a good
Preacher, and a faithful Pastor.
Rev. Isaac Searles was this year stationed at Brandon. He entered the
Rock River Conference in 1841, and was appointed to Indian Creek
Circuit. His subsequent appointments in that Conference were Sycamore,
Cedar Rapids, Rock Island, Union Grove, and Hazel Green. In 1848, at the
division, he fell into the Wisconsin Conference. In Wisconsin his
appointments were Dodgeville, Lindon, Platteville, Madison District, Fox
Lake, Fall River, Dartford, Beaver Dam District, Watertown, Waukesha,
East Troy, and now Brandon. At this place his health failed, and, after
lingering; until December 8th, 1870, he was called to the Father's
house: above. His death was triumphant. His last words were, "Jesus is
mine, Jesus is mine." "He saves me to the uttermost." "I am standing on
the Rock." Thus passed away a. noble man, a true friend, and a
Rev. J.B. Cooper was this year employed to supply Byron charge. This
excellent brother entered the traveling connection in the State of New
York, where he filled several appointments, but, his health failing, he
took a superannuated relation in 1854, and came to Janesville. In 1857
he rendered special service, as before stated, in the great revival of
that year, and in 1860 re-entered the regular work in the Wisconsin
Conference. His charges have been Evansville, Delavan, Hart Prairie,
Byron, Randolph and Rosendale, where he is stationed at the
Brother Cooper is a good specimen of the Itinerant Preacher. His manner
is affable, his spirit genial, and his hand diligent. In all his charges
he is deservedly popular.
At one of the Quarterly Meetings of this charge, I was approached, at
the close of the morning services, by a gentleman who enquired whether I
came from the State of New York. On learning that I did, he further
enquired whether I attended, when a boy, Prof. McLaren's Academy at
Gallupville. I informed him that I was there several years. "Well," said
he, "are you the one who measured the shote?" I replied, "Tell me about
it, and we will see." He then related the following incident: "At the
time to which I refer there was a boy about thirteen years old who was
very proficient in figures, and the Professor took great pleasure in
giving him difficult problems to solve during the dinner hour. On one of
these occasions, as the Professor was going across the green for his
dinner, the boy met him and asked for a problem. Looking up, he saw a
half grown hog near by, and quickly replied, 'Give me the cubic inches
of that shote.' And, supposing he had got a good joke on the boy, he
passed on. But as soon as he was fairly out of sight, the boy called
together several other boys, and stated the case to them, adding, 'Now,
boys, if you will help me to catch that shote, we will show the
Professor a thing that they have never done in Edinburgh.' The boys
consented, and his hogship was soon made a prisoner. Under a vigorous
vocal protest, he was then dragged to the back end of the Academy
building, and plunged into a half hogshead of water. After his release,
of course, the vacant space in the hogshead, caused by the displacing of
the water, represented the actual size of the shote. In five minutes
more, the cubic inches were obtained, and on the return of the Professor
the answer was ready for him." The story was well told, and I was
obliged to confess to the impeachment.
During this, the last year of my second term on the Fond du Lac
District, my strength was taxed to its utmost. Besides the regular
Quarterly Meetings, I had made it my earnest concern to aid all the
Preachers on the District in their work as far as possible. During the
winter this service was largely rendered in protracted meetings, and
during the summer in Church enterprises. In fact, the latter branch of
labor had been made a specialty during the entire term. And as a result,
two Churches had been dedicated in Fond du Lac, three on the Chilton
charge, three on the Hingham work, one on the Byron, two on the
Markesan, one on the Brandon, one on the Rosendale, one on the Fox Lake,
one on the Empire, and one on the Horicon and Juneau, besides quite a
number that were remodeled and largely improved. Including both classes,
we had had on the District during the term twenty-two Church
enterprises. Extensive revivals had occurred, and we were now able to
report an increase of eight hundred and seventy-seven members.
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.
The Conference of 1869 was held September 23d at Appleton, Bishop Scott
presiding. My term on the District had now expired, and a new
appointment must follow. Several of the strongest charges opened their
doors, but for reasons that were quite satisfactory both to myself and
the good people, I was stationed at Ripon.
The following week I started for my new field of labor. As before
stated, I had visited this locality in 1845, it then being known as
Ceresco. But, besides a casual visit and a week's stay during the
session of the Conference, I had enjoyed limited opportunities to
maintain an acquaintance with the people or the charge. I reached the
city Saturday afternoon, and immediately, satchel in hand, started down
Main Street to find some one who might invite me to lodgings. I had not
gone far when I saw a gentleman hastily crossing the street to intercept
me. On approaching I found it to be Rev. E.J. Smith, a Local Preacher,
to whom reference has been made in former chapters in connection with
Fall River. I had learned of his removal to Ripon, but was hardly
prepared to meet my old friend so suddenly, and receive such a hearty
greeting. An invitation to lodgings immediately followed, and I joyfully
accepted, remembering the kind hospitality this noble family had given
me in other days.
After chatting over the past, and taking some refreshments, my old
friend took me out to a multitude of introductions among the brethren. I
found them all cordial, and began to feel quite at home among them.
Passing down Main Street, we visited the Church, a building of
respectable size and comparatively new, and passing down still further
into the borders of what was formerly known as Ceresco proper, we found
the Parsonage. This little walk of Saturday gave me an outline of the
lay of things, and helped me to poise my head and arrange my thoughts
for the Sabbath.
The Sabbath gave me a fair congregation, and at the close of the service
we enjoyed a good Class Meeting, Led by my old friend, E.J. Smith. And
as one of the living members of the class, I found also an old
acquaintance of my boyhood and later years, Albert Cook. There were also
a few friends of other days still residing in Ripon, and several who had
come from other places to reside in the city, to join in the cordial
greeting that was given me. The Sunday School, under the charge of Rev.
Byron Kingsbury, so well known throughout the State in the Sunday School
work, met also at the close of the morning service. It was in a
flourishing condition, as it could not well be otherwise with such a
Superintendent. The Superintendent introduced the new Pastor to the
school, and playfully asked them if they thought the new Pastor was as
good-looking as the old. Quite to my surprise, they answered in the
affirmative. In the few remarks that followed I accounted for the good
looks of both the former Pastor and the present on the score that I was
the Father and the former Pastor was one of my boys, as I had
introduced him to the Conference some years before. This little sally
reconciled the children to the new state of things, and secured me a
kindly greeting from all of them.
Since my Pastorate in 1845, a variety of changes had passed over the
place and the Church. I found Ripon no longer a small settlement,
nestled in the little valley between the bluffs, but a veritable city,
now largely perched on the brow of the prairie, with its numerous
business houses, its Churches, and its College. The Church, instead of
being a small class with its meetings first in the dining hall and
afterwards in the small school house, was now a large Society, and
comfortably quartered in a respectable Church edifice.
But all these changes had not come in a day. The Circuit of twenty-four
appointments, of which Ripon was only one, had been divided and
subdivided until they had become nearly a score of charges. To trace
these changes in detail would weary the reader, and hence I have only
referred to them incidentally, as they have fallen into the line of my
subsequent labors. In this connection, I must confine myself to Ripon
and its immediate vicinity.
The first Quarterly Meeting of which I can find a record was held in
Ceresco by Rev. J.M. Walker, Oct. 15th, 1855, Rev. William Stevens was
then the Preacher in charge. The official members were: George Limbert,
Local Preacher, Z. Pedrick, Recording Steward, Thos. P. Smith, Steward,
and David S. Shepherd, Class Leader. There were at this time four
classes connected with the charge, and these were located at Ripon,
Ceresco. Rush Lake, and Utica. At the fourth Quarterly Meeting of this
year there were two Sunday Schools reported. One at Ceresco, with
thirty-three scholars, and one at Ripon, with twenty-one.
The following year, 1856, Rev. R. Moffat was sent to the charge. Utica
was now put into another charge, and Democrat Prairie attached to
Ceresco. During this year, a small frame Church was built in Ceresco, on
the east side of the street, and about forty rods south of the Ceresco
mill. The pioneer Church was used until 1860, when it was sold to Mr.
W.H. Demming, who removed it to its present location for a cooper-shop.
From 1856 to 1860, while the services in Ceresco were thus held in the
small Church, the meetings in Ripon were held in the City Hall, which
was rented for the purpose. When the new Church was built, the
congregations were united.
The new Church, under the Pastorate of Rev. William Morse, was commenced
in May, 1860, and the lecture-room was ready for use in March, 1861. The
audience room was not completed until the Pastorate of Rev. J.T.
Woodhead in 1862. Brother Woodhead was succeeded by Rev.
Brother Morse had entered the traveling connection in the State of New
York, had located, and had come West, seeking health for his wife. The
death of Brother Maxson, of which mention is made in a former chapter,
had left Ripon without a Pastor, and Brother Morse was employed to fill
Besides filling out the unexpired year, he remained two years on the
charge, and during his Pastorate there were many accessions. He filled
several other appointments subsequently in the Conference with great
acceptability, but on account of family affliction, he was finally
compelled to retire from active labor. At this writing he is in Western
Iowa, where he does what he can to help on the good cause. He is a man
of sweet spirit, and is highly esteemed by all his brethren.
Brother Anderson entered the Wisconsin Conference in 1852, and was
stationed at South Grove, in Racine District. His subsequent
appointments had been Milton, Geneva, Sheboygan Falls, Fond du Lac
District, and Appleton. On the stations, and during his four years on
the District, he had done efficient work, and was now brought to Ripon
as the successor of Brother Woodhead, where he was well received. After
leaving Ripon, his appointments have been, Presiding Elder on the
Waupaca District four years, Waupaca Station, Second Church, Oshkosh,
and Omro, his present field.
Brother Anderson is a man of large frame, and gives evidence of unusual
physical strength. He has a strong head, a kind heart, and is inclined
to the humorous. He can tell a good story in a social circle, and can
relate a good anecdote in the pulpit. In the latter he is gifted in the
line of similes, which often in his hands make the sermon interesting
and profitable. He gives promise of many more years of usefulness.
At Ripon, the Sabbath having passed, steps were taken to place the
Parsonage in readiness to receive the Pastor's family. Those noble
women, Mrs. Kingsbury, Mrs. Smith, and others, not only aided in the
necessary provision, but actually gave their personal superintendence to
the arrangement of the furniture. A new carpet was put down in the
parlor; a new stove in the sitting room, and such other measures taken
as were deemed necessary to render the coming and stay of the Pastor's
family agreeable to them. And when the family came on Thursday, they
found the rooms warm, the table spread, and the house filled with happy
faces, warm hearts and ready hands, to give them a cordial greeting.
Such a reception, given by such a people, robs the Itinerancy of half
its burdens, and gives to the relations of Pastor and people an
The preliminaries settled, I took up my work in the order I had been
accustomed to follow whenever assigned to station work. Knowing the
importance of the pastoral as well as the pulpit labor, I had always
been accustomed to adhere strictly to a division of labor, giving the
forenoons to my study, and the afternoons to pastoral visits. By this
arrangement I found I could give to the study all the time necessary to
fully employ a healthy brain, and yet find time to pass over in
consecutive order the entire list of families in regular attendance upon
the Church, three or four times a year. The prosecution of this plan in
Ripon soon filled the house with people, and also added greatly to the
spiritual prosperity of the membership.
During the winter considerable revival interest pervaded the
congregation, which had now come to fill the Church to suffocation, and
not less than seventy-five persons professed conversion. The students
from the College came to the Church in great numbers, and several of
them were found among the converts.
During the winter, a lecture course was instituted, under the auspices
of the Literary Society connected with the College, and I was requested
to give the first lecture. The flattering manner in which the effort was
spoken of by the press brought other invitations, and I yielded to
several of them, though my time was too much occupied with my regular
work to indulge myself far in this direction. At this time I was also
employed to do considerable work in connection with the press. Besides
becoming one of the corresponding editors of the Index and the N.W.
Advance, two papers published in Milwaukee, I accepted the position of a
Local Editor on the Fond du Lac Commonwealth, and in this capacity
represented Ripon and its vicinity in its columns.
During the winter, I was called to Onion River to dedicate the new
brick Church that had been built on the Hingham charge, and in the
following summer I was called to Oshkosh to re-open the First Church,
which had been enlarged and greatly improved by the Rev. Wm. P. Stowe.
Frequent calls were also made upon me for addresses on Temperance and
other subjects. I yielded as far as consistent with my other
obligations, but made in these cases, as ever in the course of my
labors, all such calls yield to the pressing demands of my regular
But at this stage of our work, another enterprise lay immediately before
the good people of Ripon. The Church could no longer accommodate the
crowds of people that thronged it, and an extension became necessary. A
united and generous effort, however, soon rendered this necessary
improvement a fixed fact. By an extension of the length and
reconstruction of the basement, and suitable refitting, the Ripon Church
became not only commodious, but, in size, the second Church in the
northern portion of the Conference.
On one of the beautiful days of June, I concluded to make a visit to
Berlin. Taking my family in a carriage, we passed over a delightful
country and along pleasant roads, wondering at the change that had come
over that region since I made my wild excursion in this direction in
1845, to find Strong's Landing. I now found Berlin a pleasant city and
the home of many valued friends, whom I had known elsewhere.
Berlin, though now aspiring to be a charge of respectable standing, had
its beginning, like all others, in "the day of small things." The first
Methodist sermon was preached by Rev. Mr. Bassinger in September, 1850.
The services were held in the office of a warehouse. Berlin was now
connected with Dartford, and became a regular appointment. Brother
Bassinger formed a class in connection with the first service in the
warehouse. The members were Reuben Tompkins, his wife, and two
daughters, Mrs. Kellogg and Mrs. McElroy.
Until a Church was built the meetings were held, after leaving the
warehouse, first over Mr. Bartlett's store, and afterwards over Mr.
Alexander's clothing store. The first Church was built under the
Pastorate of Rev. J. Pearsall in 1851. It did good service for several
years, and was then sold. It is now used as a blacksmith shop. The
second church, the present respectable edifice, was built in 1858 by
Rev. D. Stansbury, and was dedicated by the late Dr. T.M. Eddy. The
Parsonage was built by Rev. D.O. Jones in 1862.
Rev. Isaac Wiltse, the Pastor at Berlin at this time entered the
Wisconsin Conference at its April session in 1859. His charges before
coming to Berlin were Wautoma, Kingston, Door Creek, Lowell, Liberty
Prairie, and Dartford. Since leaving Berlin, his appointment has been
Beaver Dam, where he is now doing a good work for the Master.
Brother Wiltse is one of those men who usually remain on a charge as
long as the law of the Church will permit. He is a young man of a clear
understanding and genuine piety. As a Preacher he holds an excellent
position in the Conference, and he is not less esteemed as a Pastor.
Avoiding all effort to make a show in the world, he furnishes a large
stock of Gospel truth in his sermons, and puts into his administration
an equal share of common sense.
The next session of the Conference was held Oct. 12, in Janesville. We
were returned to Ripon, as expected by all. But the year opened with
another of those occasions which strangely unite both joy and sorrow. On
the third day of November, a happy group were met at the Parsonage, to
celebrate the marriage of our second daughter, Laura Eunice, and Mr.
Jesse Smith, of Fond du Lac. This event took to Fond du Lac our second
and only remaining daughter, leaving us alone with our son, now twelve
years of age, as the only representative of young life in the household.
Those only who have thus felt the shadows one after another creeping
around the home hearth, can realize the desolation of feeling that
broods over the parental heart on such occasions. But there is no time
in this life to estimate its losses. The duties of the day are ever upon
us, and we must away at their call.
The Church enlargement had been completed, and every indication gave
promise of a successful year. Our associations were exceedingly
pleasant, and the Church, at peace in all her borders, was in a healthy
spiritual condition. During the winter a revival again blessed the
labors of Pastor and people. The following summer was one of great
comfort. The two years spent at Ripon were among the most happy of all
our Itinerant life. Not a jar had disturbed the fair fabric of our
dreams, not a ripple had disturbed the happy flow of feeling. And,
strongly entrenched in the confidence and good feeling of all the
people, we closed the year in full expectation of a return and another
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.
The Conference of 1871 was held in the Summerfield Church, Milwaukee,
Oct. 11, and was presided over by Bishop Simpson. At this session the
election of Delegates to the General Conference again occurred. The
Conference was entitled to five clerical Delegates, and the Laymen to
two. The Conference elected G.M. Steele, C.D. Pillsbury, Henry
Bannister, P.R. Pease, and W.G. Miller. The Laymen's Convention elected
Hon. Wm. P. Lyon, of the Supreme Court of the State, and R.P. Elmore,
Esq., of Milwaukee. Judge Lyon being unable to attend, his place was
filled by Prof. H.A. Jones, of Lawrence University.
At this session provision was made to hold a Methodist State Convention
at Madison during the following summer. Able reports were also adopted
on the subject of Temperance and the observance of the Christian
Sabbath, showing that the members of the body kept abreast with the
demands of the times.
This year the Conference was called to make a record of the death of two
of its members, Rev. Isaac Searles, and Rev. Thomas Hughes. As reference
has been made to the first named in a former chapter, it need not be
repeated in this connection.
Brother Hughes was a native of Wales, and had been connected with our
Welsh work. Alter serving two years in the Welsh Mission in Oneida
Conference he came to Wisconsin in 1857. He settled in Fond du Lac
county, and for several years supplied the Welsh Mission in Nekimi,
preaching also at times to the English population in that neighborhood.
His death occurred in Utica, N.Y. He was a man of strong mind, amiable
spirit, and thoroughly versed in the doctrines of the Bible and the
standards of the Church.
Besides this depletion of the Itinerant ranks, three of our brethren had
been called during the year to go down into the deep shadows of domestic
affliction, in the loss of their companions, Revs. William Teal, Warren
Woodruff and H.H. Jones. The obituaries of these devoted co-laborers
were inserted in the Conference Minutes.
During the session of the Conference, Mrs. Miller and myself were
entertained by the Misses Curry, whose generous hospitality made our
stay with them exceedingly pleasant. We also visited many of our old
friends in the city as opportunity permitted, little dreaming of the
surprise that was awaiting us.
The Conference closed in the usual manner by the reading of the
appointments. But judge of our surprise to find ourselves assigned for a
third time to the Pastorate of Spring Street Station, Milwaukee. To say
we were surprised indeed would be but to state the truth, and yet to say
we were pained we could not, for who that has ever known the good people
of Old Spring Street, could ever deem it an affliction to be stationed
among them. However, when we looked upon the weeping eyes of several of
our dear Ripon friends in the congregation, and thought of the many
others at home, we would have been other than human if our eyes had not
also filled with tears. Nor is it too much to say, that we did not know
how much we were attached to the good people of Ripon and our work
there, until we found ourselves so suddenly separated from them. But on
the other hand, what could we say? We came first to Milwaukee when in
our youth. We came again to the Milwaukee District in 1859, and to the
station in 1862, giving to the first four years of severe labor, and to
the last three of the most successful years of our Itinerant life. We
had known this people as it seldom falls to the lot of Itinerants to
know a people. With not a few we had knelt at the Altar of God, when
they passed into the spiritual kingdom. The names of very many of them
had been entered by the writer's hand on the records of the Church. With
many we had bowed our heads in recognition of their deep sorrow, and
with many had clasped hands in the day of their rejoicing. And now, to
be sent back to a third Pastorate within a period of twenty years, could
not be deemed less than a great privilege.
But to our work. Following my life-long custom, the first Sabbath of the
new Conference year found me at my post of labor. I was happy to find
the charge in a good spiritual condition, and hence I was able to take
up the work in its ordinary line of service. My first care was to
arrange a complete system of pastoral labor, still entertaining the
conviction that upon the faithful prosecution of this branch of the
Ministerial work depended, in a good degree, the success of the pastoral
function. And in this branch of service Spring Street Station imposes a
vast amount of labor. As the mother Church of the city, her membership
is widely scattered, and her congregations large. Yet the Pastor, with a
careful husbanding of time, and an earnest effort, can pass over the
field as often as the exigencies of the work require. He may not always
visit each family as often as they desire, for there are many in every
Church who have a very limited idea of the amount of labor, care and
thought the pastoral office imposes, but he will be able to meet all
The new Church had been completed during the preceding year, and had
been dedicated by Rev. Drs. Eddy and Ives on the Sabbath before
Conference, Oct. 8th, 1871. The building is a fine brick structure, one
hundred feet in length by eighty in width at the transepts. Besides the
auditorium, it has a large lecture-room, three parlors, a Pastor's
study, a library room, and a convenient kitchen. The entire cost of
buildings and grounds, including the Parsonage, was sixty thousand
dollars. At the dedication subscriptions were obtained to meet the
indebtedness of twenty thousand dollars with a satisfactory margin.
The new year opened with all the Church appliances in vigorous
operation. The class and prayer meetings were well attended, and the
intervening evenings were occupied by the meetings of the Ladies' Aid,
the Literary and other Church societies. The Sunday School, under the
superintendence of Rev. Edwin Hyde, was in a flourishing condition,
ranking, doubtless, as one of the most numerous and successful schools
of the city.
The Milwaukee District was now in charge of Rev. C.D. Pillsbury, who
entered the Maine Conference in 1843. He filled the following
appointments in that Conference: Dover, Atkinson, Sagerville, and
Exeter. At the division in 1848, he fell into the East Maine Conference,
where his appointments were Machias, Summer Street, Bangor, Agent of
East Maine Seminary, and Presiding Elder of Bangor District. He was
transferred to the Wisconsin Conference in 1857, and stationed at Racine
as the writer's successor. His subsequent appointments have been Racine
District, Chaplain of the Twenty-Second Regiment, Beloit, Agent of the
Freedmen's Aid Commission, Janesville District, and Milwaukee District.
After leaving the District Brother Pillsbury has been stationed at Bay
View and Menasha, but, his health failing, he took a supernumerary
relation at the last Conference, and at this writing is residing at
Minneapolis. He has done considerable literary work, in connection with
his Ministerial labors. Brother Pillsbury has a well balanced mind, and
is thoroughly versed in the great questions of the day. He is sound in
theology and faithful in administration; a good, strong Preacher, and is
universally respected, both as a man and a Minister.
Asbury Church was greatly delighted with the return of Rev. W.W. Case to
its pastorate. He entered the Erie Conference in 1859, and in that
Conference he had been stationed at Ellington, Cattaraugus, and Little
Valley. He was transferred to the Wisconsin Conference in 1864, and had
now been stationed three years each at Edgerton and Beloit. During his
year at Asbury, he had gathered a fine congregation, and was now in
great esteem among the people. He remained three years at Asbury, and
was then stationed at Division Street, Fond du Lac, where he is at the
present writing, serving the second year.
Brother Case is still a young man, and is blessed with a pleasant
countenance, agreeable manners, and an affable spirit. In social life he
is a great favorite. He is well read, and has an entertaining delivery.
In the selection of his pulpit topics, and in the manner of their
treatment, he dwells more in the sunshine than in the storm. He has
already reached a position among his brethren that gives promise of
great usefulness in the Master's work.
It has not been my purpose to embody in these pages a record of the
exceedingly interesting and prosperous work among our German brethren,
as their branch of Methodistic labor in the State has developed an
Annual Conference of its own, and richly deserves a volume for its
proper presentation. But as our Norwegian brethren are connected with
our own Conference, a brief reference to their work will not be out
It will be recollected that in a former chapter reference was made to
the beginning of the work in our State. We will now refer to the opening
of the good work in Milwaukee.
In the spring of 1864, the writer was holding a protracted meeting in
the Spring Street Methodist Episcopal Church. At one of the meetings
there came to the Altar as seekers, two Norwegians. As the meetings
progressed, others came with them, until there were some twelve persons
on probation and in full membership, who used the Scandinavian language.
During the following summer, it was deemed advisable to form them into a
class by themselves, and as they resided in the vicinity of the Asbury
Church, put them in connection with that charge. Rev. P.K. Rye, then
stationed at Racine, came down a few times and furnished them services
in their own language.
At the ensuing session of the West Wisconsin Conference, in which the
Scandinavian work was then placed, Milwaukee was connected with Racine
charge, and placed under the care of Rev. A. Haagenson. The society was
duly organized by the new Pastor on the 25th day of March, 1865. Brother
Haagenson was greatly blessed in his labors, and before the end of the
year purchased the German Baptist Church, located on Walker Street,
between Hanover and Greenbush. The cost of the building and lots was
eight hundred dollars. Brother Haagenson remained until 1868, when he
was succeeded on the Milwaukee and Racine Mission by Rev. N.
Christopherson, who remained until the close of 1870.
In 1871, Milwaukee and Ashipun were put together, with Rev. C.O. Trider
as Pastor. The erection of a new Church, twenty-eight by forty-five feet
in size, was commenced in December, and in May, 1872, the lecture-room
was dedicated by Rev. A. Haagenson. At the present writing, Brother
Haagenson is the Presiding Elder of the Norwegian District, and has also
charge of the Station, having in the latter portion of his work Rev. O.
Hanson as an Assistant.
Brother Haagenson is a man of deep piety and earnest purpose. Studious
and laborious, he furnishes an excellent type of a Methodist Preacher.
His labors are onerous, but his work is in a highly prosperous state,
and is making a record of many conversions.
On the fourth of January, 1872, we celebrated our silver wedding. We had
made a note of our wedding anniversary with considerable regularity from
year to year, but had never until now celebrated any of the epochs which
are so often made to divide the years of married life. In this instance
we deemed it advisable to depart from our usual custom, since
twenty-five years seems to be a point from which both the past and
future may be seen ordinarily with considerable distinctness of outline.
And further, it was now probable that the whole family could be brought
together, an event which could not be looked upon with any great degree
of assurance as probable at any future time.
The entertainment was given in the evening in the Parsonage, and was
attended by about one hundred persons. Spring Street and the other
Churches of the city were well represented. But in addition to these,
there were delegations present from all the charges we had served in the
Conference, each bringing the hand of greeting from our old friends to
cheer us. A record of the occasion, however, would be incomplete if I
were not to state that the silver ware of the house was increased by an
addition valued at nearly five hundred dollars. But every rose has its
thorn. Never before were we obliged to sleep with one eye open to guard
The year now drew to a close, and, counting up the results, we found
that fifty-one members had been received, the Pastor's salary, amounting
to twenty-three hundred dollars, had been paid, the Church debt had been
reduced to ten thousand dollars, and that to meet the balance there were
subscriptions, including organ fund, of fifteen thousand dollars.
Conference of 1872.--Rev. A.P. Mead.--Rev. A. Callender.--Rev. Win. 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.
The Conference of 1872 was held Oct. 9th, at Division Street Church,
Fond du Lac, Bishop Haven presiding. The Woman's Foreign Missionary
Society, having been fully recognized by the General Conference, was
made the subject of a highly appreciative report, in which the
Conference extended to the ladies of the Church a cordial welcome to
this new field of effort, and pledged them a helping hand in the
At this session Rev. A.P. Mead was appointed Presiding Elder of Waupaca
District. Brother Mead graduated from the Garrett Biblical Institute in
1861, and was the same year admitted into the Conference. His
appointments had been Sharon, Elkhorn, Kenosha, Bay View, and Lyons,
when he was sent to the District. He remained only two years on the
Waupaca District, and was then appointed to the Fond du Lac District.
Brother Mead is a man of genial spirit and large practical sense. His
sermons are replete with Evangelical truth, and produce an abiding
impression. His intercourse with the people and Preachers is
instructive, and his administration cannot fail to prove a blessing to
At this session of the Conference, the decease of Rev. Aurora
Callender, among others, was announced. Brother Callender entered the
Pittsburg Conference in 1828, and was first stationed at Franklin, a
circuit located on the slope of the Alleghany Mountains, and in the
neighborhood of the Oil Regions. Before coming to Wisconsin, his
appointments were Meadville Circuit, Meadville, Springfield, Cuyahoga
Falls, Chardon and Middleburgh. Coming to Wisconsin, he was stationed,
in 1850, at Sylvania. His subsequent appointments were Geneva and
Elkhorn, Union, Hazel Green, Dodgeville, Mineral Point District,
Norwegian Mission District, Clinton, and Agent of American Colonization
Society, Subsequently he filled several charges as a supply, and
departed this life in the midst of his work at Pickneyville, Ill., Oct.
Brother Callender was a veteran pioneer. Capable of great physical
endurance, possessing a vigorous intellect, well skilled in theology and
Methodist law, his labors were abundant and of a substantial character.
In his earlier years, especially, his Ministry led many souls to
At this Conference I was returned to Spring Street Station, and, Brother
Pillsbury's term on the District having expired, Rev. Wm. P. Stowe was
appointed Presiding Elder.
Brother Stowe, it will be remembered, was converted in his boyhood in
his father's chapel. When grown to man's estate, he took up the trowel
and thereby procured funds to secure his education. He graduated from
the Lawrence University as a member of the Second Class, in 1858. He
entered the Conference the same year, and was stationed at Sheboygan.
The following two years he was stationed at Port Washington, but before
the close of the second year his health failed, and he retired from the
work. In 1862 he accepted the Chaplaincy of the Twenty-Seventh Regiment,
but the year following he was re-admitted and stationed at Sharon. His
subsequent appointments were Beloit, Racine, Oshkosh, and Summerfield,
Milwaukee, in all of which charges he has left the fragrance of a good
name and the legacy of substantial fruit. As a Presiding Elder, he is
Brother Stowe has a large frame, tends to corpulency, and shows great
physical vigor. With large perception, he reads men and surroundings
aptly. In the pulpit, he puts ideas in logical relations, and aims at an
object. His sermons abound in illustrations, strung on a strong cord of
Rev. O.B. Thayer was stationed at Summerfield Church, having become a
member of the Conference in 1870. He had been stationed at Court Street
Church, Janesville, and at Appleton. In both these charges he had
developed a high standard of pulpit talent. He remained at Summerfield
two years, and was then appointed to Kenosha, where, at the present
writing, he is preaching to fine congregations.
Rev. S. Reynolds, State Agent of the American Bible Society, was also a
member of the Ministerial fraternity of Milwaukee. This good brother
came to the Conference by transfer from Iowa. He has been engaged for
many years in his present work, and has gained a reputation, second to
none, in the management of the laborious and manifold responsibilities
of his position. In his addresses he deals in stubborn facts, and never
fails to interest the audience. He is vigilant in looking after the
details of his trust, but he needs a word of caution as to his health.
His great labor is evidently overtaxing his strength.
My salary was again fixed at two thousand three hundred dollars. A new
system of finance was now adopted, called the "Envelope System." In its
principal features, it was similar to the "Card System," introduced
during my former term, but contained several additional provisions to
render it more effective. The new plan succeeded admirably, giving to
the station, at the end of the first quarter of the year, the
extraordinary record of having fully paid the Pastor's salary, and every
other claim for current expenses, besides liquidating several bills for
improvements on the Church and Parsonage. And it is proper to add that
the current year closed with several hundred dollars in the Treasury.
The regular work of the station opened this year encouragingly. A
general quickening followed, and by mid-winter there had been half a
score of conversions. Mrs. Maggie N. Van Cott, who had been engaged for
a year to assist us, now came to our help. The meeting continued five
weeks, under this most extraordinary laborer, and resulted in the
conversion of near four hundred souls, about two hundred of whom united
with the Spring Street Church.
The Conference of 1873 was held Oct. 15, at Whitewater, Bishop Merrill
presiding. At this session Rev. Henry Colman, who had repeatedly served
as Assistant, was elected Secretary of the Conference.
Brother Colman graduated from the Lawrence University as a member of the
First Class in 1856. He entered the West Wisconsin Conference in 1858,
and filled one appointment in that Conference, when, in 1859, he was
transferred to the Wisconsin Conference and stationed at Columbus. In
1860 he was stationed at Green Bay, and the following year at Asbury,
Milwaukee. In 1863 he was appointed Principal of the Evansville
Seminary, where he remained four years. After leaving the Seminary, he
has held a respectable class of appointments, and is now doing effective
work at Fort Atkinson. He is a man of clear head and honorable,
Christian impulses. Having a thorough knowledge of Biblical criticism,
he has for several years rendered the Sunday Schools of the State a good
service by furnishing in the Christian Statesman a weekly exposition of
In keeping with the provision of the Discipline, adopted at the recent
session of the General Conference, for the Trial of Appeals, the
Conference elected her quota as follows: W.G. Miller, O.J. Cowles,
Joseph Anderson, J.W. Carhart, P.B. Pease, P.S. Bennett, and W.P. Stowe.
But as there were no cases to be tried, the brethren elected were
compelled to wear empty honors.
At this Conference, the writer again returned to Spring Street, it being
the third year of the third term of my Pastorate among this people, and
the thirtieth Conference year of my itinerent labors. Brother Stowe was
also returned to the District, and Rev. A.A. Hoskin was appointed to
Asbury, and Rev. Stephen Smith to Bay View.
Brother Hoskin entered the Conference in 1867, and before coming to the
city had been stationed at Milton, Shopiere, and Menomonee Falls. He is
a young man of fine culture, genial spirit, and great industry. His
sermons embody the fundamental truths of the Gospel, and their manifold
relations to practical life, and are highly appreciated by the people.
Besides being a good Preacher, he is also a poet of considerable
Brother Smith entered the Conference in 1856, and his first appointment
was Sylvania. His subsequent appointments have been Elkhorn, Sharon,
Geneva, Manitowoc, Fort Atkinson, Delavan, First Church, Janesville, and
Bay View. On all these charges he has left the evidences of earnest and
devoted work for the Master. At Bay View, the present year has been one
of extraordinary success. The revival that transpired under his labors
swept through the entire community, and gave an accession of more than
one hundred members, a majority of whom were heads of families.
Brother Smith is a good Preacher, filling his sermons with a clear
exposition of Evangelical truth. And his Ministry has ever been a
benediction to the people of his respective charges.
The year opened in Spring Street Station with unusual promise. The
social meetings were well attended, the congregations were large and
attentive, the Sunday School, the largest in the city, prosperous, the
several societies were doing effective work, and the finances were in an
excellent condition. With this outlook, we were anticipating a glorious
year, but how uncertain are all human expectations!
During the delivery of the morning sermon on Sabbath, April 26th, 1874,
the writer was taken violently ill. The attack proved to be the
prostration of the nervous system, resulting from overworking the brain,
a difficulty that had been foreshadowed by several premonitions during
the preceding year. My condition at the first was perilous, but after
four hours of skillful medical treatment and careful nursing, the crisis
passed. Then followed weary weeks of watching and waiting. Meantime, I
received the earnest sympathy of my people, and the kind assistance of
my brethren in the Ministry, who generously proposed to supply
The Conference of 1874 was held at Oshkosh, Bishop Foster presiding. I
was able to attend and answer to my name, but could spend but little
time in the Conference room. Whenever present I seemed to myself, as I
must have seemed to others, like a dismantled ship, stranded on the
beach. I was most kindly treated by all the brethren, being relieved of
every burden, and assured of abiding sympathy.
At this Conference Rev. J.W. Carhart, D.D., was stationed, by request of
the people, at Oshkosh. Brother Carhart entered the traveling connection
in the Troy Conference, and came to the Wisconsin Conference by transfer
in 1871, being stationed at Racine. He had just completed a full term,
and hence Oshkosh is his second appointment in the Conference. He is a
man of superior culture, fine preaching ability, and cannot fail to give
character to the pulpit, wherever he may be stationed.
Rev. George A. Smith was stationed at Spring Street as my successor.
Brother Smith entered the Conference in April 1859, his first
appointment being Principal of the Evansville Seminary. His subsequent
appointments were Milton, Emerald Grove, Lyons and Spring Prairie. In
his last field his health failed through intense mental application, and
he was compelled to retire from the work. After five years of rest he
was again able to resume his labors, being stationed first at Pleasant
Prairie, and next at Kenosha.
Brother Smith is in the strength of his manhood, has a vigorous mind, is
a fine thinker, uses clear-cut and well selected language, has a most
amiable spirit, and his Ministry cannot fail to be a grand
Brother Stowers came to the Conference by transfer in 1867, and first
served as Professor in the Lawrence University. In 1869, having been
elected President of the Upper Iowa University, he was transferred to
the Upper Iowa Conference. He returned, however, to the Wisconsin
Conference the following year, and was stationed at Janesville. His next
charge was Whitewater, where, during his three years' Pastorate, he
achieved great success in the erection of a fine brick Church, and in
securing large accessions to the membership.
Brother Stowers is a man of great energy and decided talent. He has an
excellent voice, a ready utterance, and abundant illustrations, which
render his pulpit labors attractive. He is an able and successful
At the adjournment of the Conference, the Preachers hastened to their
new fields of labor, perhaps hardly thinking, in their eagerness to be
at their work, of the tearful eyes that were looking after them, and the
aching hearts of those brethren who, no longer able to go out with them
to the battle, were compelled to languish in hospitals, or linger by
As for myself, I returned to Milwaukee, and retired to the quiet home a
few personal friends in the city and elsewhere had assisted me to build,
and where I now write this, the last line of
THIRTY YEARS IN THE ITINERANCY.