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In the year 1865 the State meeting was held at Prairie City. Meantime, however, a vigorous local district organization had been maintained from the first in Northeastern Kansas. This year its annual meeting was held at Leavenworth City, continuing from the first till the 4th of June. In addition to the ordinary purposes for which this meeting was held, it undertook to perfect the Missionary Society that had been organized the preceding year at Tecumseh.

 

Among all the conventions held in Kansas, whether of State or District, this must be regarded as the most notable:

1. It offers devout thanksgiving to the Lord for the return of peace to the nation: "_Resolved_, That with hearts full of gratitude to Almighty God, we hail the return of peace to our long distracted country."

2. After seven years of labor, beginning in 1858, and ending in 1865, notwithstanding the disorders of the period, this Convention is able to give a tabulated report of seventy-nine churches organized in the State with their bishops, deacons and evangelists, and having an aggregate of 3,020.

3. It is able to report a missionary society, that in the eight months intervening between the Tecumseh State meeting and the present Convention, has collected and paid over to its four evangelists--J; H. Bauserman, Pardee Butler, S. G. Brown and J. J. Trott--the sum of $827.

4. The Convention was able to adjourn, full of hope and enthusiasm, and to promise itself that it would do a still better work in the time to come.

The names of the following persons appear as the accredited messengers of the churches: Leavenworth--J. C. Stone, G. H. Field, S. A. Marshal, H. Allen, J. T. Gardiner, Calvin Reasoner. Ottumwa--J. T. Cox, Wm. Gans, J. Jenks, Peter Smith. Tecumseh--J. Driver, M. Driver, A. J. Alderman. Americus--W. C. Butler, S. S. Chapman. Le Roy--S. G. Brown, Allen Crocker. Little Stranger--J. H. Bauserman, S. A. Lacefield, J. Adams, J. P. Bauserman. Iola--S. Brown. Nine Mile--N. D. Tyler, J. T. Goode, H. Dickson. Garnett--J. Ramsey, H. Cavender. Holton--E. Cope, J. P. Nichols, T. G. Walters, A. B. Scholes. Pardee--Pardee Butler, N. Dunshee. Belmont--J. J. Trott. Monrovia--J. N. Holliday, John Graves, Caleb May. Mt. Pleasant--Joseph Potter, Thomas Miller, Joseph McBride, N. Humber. Olathe P. E. Henderson, John Elston, Martin Davenport, Addison Bowen. Lanesfield--O. S. Laws, Wm. Maxwell, H. C. Maxwell. Prairie City--H. H. Johnson. Buck Creek--C. M. Short, Thomas Finch, Martin Stoddard. Grasshopper Falls--James Ritter, S. Smith. Winchester--Cyrus Taylor, A. R. Cantwell.

But we wait for a period of seventeen years, then Eld S. T. Dodd, of Topeka, is appointed by the Kansas Christian Missionary Society to write a history of the work of the Christian Church in Kansas, which he does in a tract of thirty-eight pages; and Bro. D., writing under date of 1882, makes the following summary of the work done:

From 1856 to 1865 anything like church work was as good as thrown away, except as affording temporary privileges.

Finally a time came when the clatter of arms and the clatter of raiders were ended; railroads were built, and emigration poured in from all States and nations, among which were many Disciples of Christ, who should have been builded into existing churches, or collected into new ones; but many were permitted to drift along in carelessness and irresponsibility until their identity as members has been lost.

During the past five years there has been a general awakening among our brethren, which has resulted in very many new organizations and the possession of Atchison, Topeka, Wichita, and several other strongholds.

 

Bro. Dodd makes report of the following State meetings as having been held in Kansas:

In 1869, Grantville; in 1870, Le Roy; in 1871, St. George; in 1872, Emporia; in 1873, Topeka; in 1874, Olathe; in 1875, Ottawa, in 1876, Manhattan; in 1877, Emporia; in 1878, Gates Center; in 1879, Emporia; in 1880, Manhattan; in 1881, Salina; in 1832, Emporia.

 

To the above summary the writer will add the following list of the earlier Territorial and State meetings:

In 1860, Big Springs; in 1861, Prairie City; in 1862, Emporia; in 1863, Ottawa; in 1864, Tecumseh; in 1865, Prairie City; in 1866, Ottawa; in 1867, Olathe.

 

To the above statistics we will append the following reflections:

1. Among the preachers that prominently appear in the first seven years of our work, there are none remaining, save the writer of these Recollections, Some are fallen out by the way. Elders S. G. Brown, Wm. Gans, N. B. White, S. A. Marshal and Allen Crocker have died in the faith and hope of the gospel. The name of J. H. Bauserman does, indeed, appear, but he had only just begun his work; but having put the armor on, he has never laid it off. The name of J. B. McCleery does not yet appear on the minutes of our yearly meetings, still he was already an evangelist. He had been in Ohio the friend and companion of James A. Garfield, and soon came to be known as one of the first pulpit orators of the State. The government, like death, "loves a shining mark," and claimed Bro. McCleery for its service, and he is now an army chaplain. The churches will never cease to regret his choice, and yet he had a right to make it.

2.  The facts do not bear out the remark of Bro. S. T. Dodd, that "from 1856 to 1865 anything like church work was as good as thrown away." With seventy-nine churches organized, and with upwards of three thousand church members in the State, work could scarcely be said to be "as good as thrown away."

3.  Notwithstanding, the facts bear witness that there were grave imperfections in our work. After a heroic battle, fought under insuperable difficulties, and when there was every promise of still more brilliant triumphs, the cause went into an eclipse, from which it emerged only after many years of disaster.

From and after the year 1875, the churches spread themselves over a territory of two hundred miles in width and four hundred miles in length, and a great number of men became responsible for the good or the evil that should come on the cause of primitive and apostolic Christianity. It is probable that since the period of which we are speaking, 100,000 Disciples have located somewhere in these Western Territories. If the church should now undertake to make inquisition for these church members, and make inquiry into their present condition, temporal and spiritual, the story of their wants and woes would be full of pathetic eloquence.

Since the days of the apostles an enthusiasm never has been known greater than that which was felt by the men who, under God, are responsible for this Reformation. In the beginning of the present century the missionary spirit among Christians was dead, and their zeal was wasted in disgraceful squabbles over inoperative and metaphysical opinions, or over modes of church government of which the Bible knows nothing.

The Protestant sects were divided into two hostile camps, known as Calvinists and Arminians. The Calvinist dogma was that Jesus died only for the elect, who were chosen in a by-gone eternity; that all men are spiritually as dead and helpless as was the cold dead dust of the earth out of which Adam was created, but that God will quicken into a new life dead sinners who are of the elect, and will give them evidence of their acceptance by the joyful emotions which he will create in their hearts. And so the supreme interest of men centered in this, that they were to seek in their own hearts those raptures and ecstasies that were evidence that they had experienced this spiritual change. The Arminians gloried in a free salvation. Christ died for all. But they demanded identically the same evidence of pardon demanded by the Calvinists, and men found it just as hard to get this Arminian evidence of pardon as to get the experience that assured them that they were of the elect, according to the gospel of Calvinism; and so it game to pass that this lethargy of Christians over missionary work, and these wranglings over human opinions, had, before the Revolutionary War, covered the American colonies like a blanket with the spirit of infidelity. The corruption of Christianity by the Roman Catholic Church issued in the atheism of the French Revolution, and has created the infidelity of modern European nations; so like causes had precipitated a similar result in America. Men were groping as the blind grope in darkness, and then came, during the first half of the present century, the proclamation of primitive and apostolic Christianity. Alexander Campbell, John Smith, Jacob Creath and Samuel Rogers in Virginia and Kentucky, and Walter Scott, the Haydens and John Henry in Northeastern Ohio, made the people understand that the plan of salvation is as simple as the primer of our childhood; that it is all comprehended in this, that we must bow to the authority of Jesus, that we must believe in him and keep his commandments, and that the whole story is told in the four gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles with such simplicity that he that runs may read, that he that reads may understand, and that he that understands may act.

Alexander Campbell has said that a persecution made up of defamation, proscription and slander may be as hard to hear as that which issues in bonds and imprisonments; and this these early Disciples had to bear. But the world was ripe for reformation, and the cause spread like fire on the prairies.

Those who originally planted these churches in Kansas were, in large part, men and women who had drawn their inspiration directly from the founders and leaders of this Reformation. To some of them it had been given to sit at the feet of Alexander Campbell. Others had listened to John Smith, and had been magnetized by the inimitable wit and wisdom of that marvelous man, and their hearts had drawn heroic courage from his heart. Others still had been captivated by the boyish and unstudied drollery of Walter Scott, only to be swept away by a whirlwind of passionate appeal and terrible invective, or to be melted with the tenderness of his portrayal of the love of Jesus. And all these came to Kansas bearing a great cause in their hearts, and determined to build up here such churches as they had left behind them. But this was not all. Here were not only people among the most refined, well informed, and pious in the nation, but here were those who had been born in a storm of religious fanaticism, and could only live in a whirlwind of excitement. These were the "big-meeting" Christians. There were also those whose truthfulness was doubtful, whose business methods were questionable, who could, on occasion, indulge in coarse and vulgar jokes and smutty jests, and whose religion scarce kept them outside the grog-shop. Added to all this, there were many whose hearts were yet bleeding with wounds they had received in that terrible struggle out of which the nation had just emerged. And now, afflicted with poverty, drouth, grasshoppers and starvation, we were left an agglomeration of heterogeneous materials, to fight our own battle as best we might. We might hope for help from the Lord, but not from our brethren in the older States. They were too busy debating the divine plan of missionary operations to help us.

The reader may well believe that the writer of these Recollections did not find himself carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease while this was going on, nor did he find himself reposing on a couch soft as downy pillows.