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Category: Personal Recollections of Pardee Butler
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In 1859 I only spent part of the year preaching in Kansas. At the earnest solicitation of Ovid Butler, the founder and munificent patron of Butler University, I spent six months preaching in the State of Indiana. A missionary society had been organized in Indianapolis, in which Ovid Butler was the leading spirit, and such men as Joseph Bryant, and Matthew McKeever, brothers-in-law to Alexander Campbell, together with Jonas Hartzell, Cyrus McNeely, of Hopedale, Ohio, and Eld. John Boggs, of Cincinnati, and many others, were associated with him in the movement.

By these brethren I was for some time partially sustained as a missionary in Kansas. The formation of this society had grown out of a difference existing between these brethren and the General Missionary Society, touching what had become the over-topping and absorbing question, both to the churches and the people of the United States. As this question has ceased to be of any practical interest to the American people, I shall spend no time in its discussion, only to narrate, briefly, what happened to us in Kansas, growing out of the existence of these two societies.

Ovid Butler had set his heart on this, that the brethren in Indiana should have personal knowledge of the man that himself and others were sustaining in Kansas. I found myself greatly misunderstood, and was often hurt at the slights that grew out of these misunderstandings; and I tried hard to make these brethren know just what was in my heart, and what were the objects I was seeking to accomplish.

In the early spring of 1860 I returned to Kansas and resumed my work. Geo. W. Hutchinson had been a preacher in what was known as the "Christian Connection" in the New England States, and had been eminently successful in winning converts. But these churches were poor, and he having married a wife, his compensation did not meet his necessities, and like many others he went to California with a hope of bettering his fortunes. Afterwards he came to Lawrence, in Kansas, under the auspices of the Emigrant Aid Society. But his freighting teams having been plundered of a stock of goods, which they were bringing for him from Leavenworth to Lawrence, he was left to fight his battle as best he might. It was at this conjuncture that he made the acquaintance of the brethren at Big Springs, and became impressed with the simplicity and scriptural authority of our plea. It is well known that there never was more than a paper wall between ourselves and "The Old Christian Order," and there seemed nothing in the way of Bro. Hutchison. He had in his heart no theory of a regeneration wrought by a miracle, and which gives to a convert a supernatural evidence of pardon before baptism, and that should, therefore, compel him to reject the words of Jesus: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved."

The Christian Brethren have been supposed to have some leaning to Unitarianism, but he betrayed no such leaning. But while he had no love for the barbarous language in which Trinitarians have sometimes spoken of the divine relation subsisting between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet he was willing to ascribe to our Lord all that is ascribed to him in the Holy Scriptures. Thus joyfully he accepted this new brotherhood he had found in Kansas, and our churches just as joyfully set him to preaching. We needed preachers, and here was one already made to our hand.

Early in the spring of 1860 the weather came off exquisitely fine. It was like a hectic flush--the deceptive seeming of health on the cheek of the consumptive. It was a spring without rain, in which the sun was shining beautiful and bright, in which the evenings were balmy and pleasant, and the road good; but to be followed by a summer of scorching heat, of hot winds that burned the vegetation like the breath of a furnace, leaving the people to starve. The inhabitants of Kansas will never forget the year 1860, the drought and the famine.

It was in the springtime, in the midst of this beautiful weather, we called Bro. Hutchinson to come to Pardee and help us. This protracted meeting resulted in a great ingathering. It was largely made up of young men, who, for the time being, were located on the eastern border of Kansas, but that in the stirring and stormy times that were to follow were to be scattered over every part of the Great West. And now Bro. Hutchinson's fame as a revivalist began to spread abroad, and many neighborhoods where there were a few Disciples, and who were anxious to build themselves into a congregation, sent for him to come and help them; and thus our churches rapidly grew in number, and our acquaintance with the brethren was greatly extended. As a result, there came to be a common feeling among them that we ought to come together in a State, or rather a Territorial, meeting. Pursuant to such a purpose, a general meeting was called at Big Springs, Aug. 9, 1860, C. M. Mock having been called to the chair, and W. O. Ferguson, of Emporia, having been made secretary.

The following churches reported themselves as having been organized in the Territory:

                                    No. of  Members.

    Pardee, Atchison Co                 92

    Union Church, Atchison Co           60

    Leavenworth City                    70

    Big Springs, Douglas Co             72

    Prairie City, Douglas Co            44

    Peoria City, Lykins Co              23

    Leroy, Coffey Co                   108

    Emporia                             80

    Stanton, Lykins Co                  91

    Iola, Allen Co                      21

    Humbolt, Allen Co.                  12

    Burlington, Coffey Co                9

    Wolf Creek, Doniphan Co             70

    Rock Creek, Doniphan Co             30

    Independence Creek, Doniphan Co     12

    Cedar Creek, Doniphan Co            16

    Olathe, Johnson Co                  10

    McCarnish, Johnson Co               40

    Oskaloosa, Jefferson Co             10

    Cedar Creek, Jackson Co             30

Thus of organized churches there were reported 900 members, and of unorganized members it was ascertained there were enough to make the number more than one thousand.

We find on record, as having been adopted at this meeting, the following resolutions:

_Resolved_ That the thanks of this Convention be tendered to the Christian Missionary Society, at Indianapolis, for the service of Bro. Butler as a missionary in Kansas, and that the Society be requested to sustain him until the churches in Kansas shall be able to sustain their preachers.

_Resolved_, That Brethren G. W. Hutchinson, Pardee Butler, Ephraim Philips, S. G. Brown, W. E. Evans, and N. Dunshee be recommended to the confidence and support of the brethren as able and faithful preachers of the gospel.

WHEREAS, The brethren of Southern Kansas are in destitute circumstances; and

WHEREAS, Bro. E. Philips, having spent much of his time preaching, without fee, or reward, needs pecuniary support; and

WHEREAS, Bro. Crocker is about to visit the East; therefore,

_Resolved_, That we commend Bro. Crocker as worthy to receive contributions made on behalf of Bro. Philips.

_Resolved_, That we will encourage and, so far as we have ability, sustain by our prayers and means those who labor for us in word and doctrine.

_Resolved_, That we are in favor of Sunday-schools and Bible classes, and that we will use our influence to sustain social meetings in all our churches.

_Resolved_, That when we adjourn, we adjourn to meet at Prairie City, on Wednesday before the second Lord's day in September, 1861.

_Resolved_, That the thanks of this Convention be tendered to the brethren of Big Springs for their kindness and liberality during the sessions of this Convention.

On motion, the Convention adjourned to the time and place appointed.

C. W. MOCK, Chairman.

W. O. FERGUSON, Secretary.

 

The convention in its results was full of encouragement and joy. Insignificant as had been our beginning two years before, here were twenty churches and more than one thousand members ready to cooperate together and plant the cause in this infant Territory. This meeting also introduced us to many new acquaintances. Eld. S. G. Brown, of Emporia, had been diligently employed planting churches along the Neosho River from Emporia to Leroy. Bro. Ephraim Philips, at Leroy, also at that time became known to us. Bro. Philips, after some years, returned to Pennsylvania, and there went into the oil business with his brother; the brothers were successful, and afterwards distinguished themselves by a generous and Christian liberality. Bro. Crocker also, before his death, had won a large place in the hearts of his brethren. Elder Wm, Gans, at that time of Lanesfield, but afterwards of Olathe, will long be remembered with earnest affection; and it was at this time that he became known to us.

For reasons that we have already mentioned, the General Missionary Society had done nothing for us, but seeing that we were fighting a brave battle, and that we were keeping the peace with each other, they felt themselves moved to help us. Eld. D. S. Burnett was at this time employed preaching in Western Missouri, and was deputed by the Missionary Board to visit G. W. Hutchinson at Lawrence, who was winning golden opinions as an eminently successful evangelist. Bro. H. was not at home, but was away holding a protracted meeting, and Bro. Burnett therefore called on his wife. Mrs. Hutchinson was a pious, refined, and educated New England woman, who had married her husband after he had become known as the most successful evangelist in the "Old Christian Order" in the New England States. She had with pain seen him turned aside from his chosen work by hard necessities, and was now greatly rejoiced to see him once more a preacher. Bro. B. was an accomplished gentleman, whose polished and cultivated manners sometimes laid him open to the charge of a proud and aristocratic exclusiveness; but this Yankee lady herself knew how to queen it, and stood before him with no sense of inferiority. She frankly said to him that herself and husband were abolitionists, but that they knew the value of peace, and would do what could be done, in good conscience, to make peace and keep it. Bro. Burnett evidently went away from Lawrence with a good opinion of this family of Yankee abolitionists, and Bro. H. was immediately accepted as a missionary of the General Missionary Society. He used quietly to indicate to me that, as touching this interview, his wife was a better general than himself, and that it was lucky for him that he was not at home.

And so we two became missionaries, sustained by two different, and, in one particular, antagonistic missionary societies. Of course we did not quarrel; why should we? If I was sometimes charged with abolitionism, was not this man blacker than myself? We often traveled together, and held protracted meetings under the same tent. I had for a lifetime studied this plea which we make for a return to primitive and apostolic Christianity, and it was, therefore, my business to press upon the people the duty to yield a loyal obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ as our only Lawgiver and King, and thus to renounce all human leadership and the authority of all human opinions; and it became the business of Bro. Hutchinson to win the people by his magnetic power, and fill them with his own enthusiasm, and thus induce them to act on the convictions that had been already formed in their hearts.

I take on myself to say there never have been two more diligent evangelists than were Bro. Hutchinson and myself in the year that followed the Big Springs Convention. Looking over the whole ground, I am able to see that in that year was laid the foundation for that abiding prosperity that has distinguished our effort down to the present time.

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