Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 16:266-281
Lansing, Michigan: The Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, 1893.
FIFTY-TWO YEARS OF ITINERANT LIFE IN THE MICHIGAN CONFERENCE OF THE M. E. CHURCH.
BY REV. R. C. CRAWFORD.
In the month of May 1841, I was licensed to preach, and by the same body that gave me my license, I was recommended to the Michigan annual conference as a suitable person for admission on trial in said conference. The body, which gave me, my license and this recommendation was the quarterly conference, of Pontiac circuit, with Rev. George Smith as presiding elder, and Revs. James Shaw and Francis B. Bangs, as circuit preachers. The balance of the conference consisted of solid laymen from different parts of the circuit, such as Birmingham, Royal Oak, Bloomfield Centre, Donation Chapel, and Auburn; at all of which places I had been and held services, as an exhorter, several times during the preceding year, and the people had come to know me pretty well, or they thought they did. The quarterly conference was held in the court- house, as were all of the services. All of the men composing that quarterly conference, except myself and the Rev. James Shaw, are on the other side of the boundary line. He is a superannuate of the Kansas conference, in his 86th year and lives at Atchison with his oldest daughter, Lucy, widow of the Rev. L. D. Price, once a member of Michigan conference; and be says in a letter he sent me, “I am trying to keep sweet in my old age."
On Sabbath afternoon of our quarterly meeting I preached my first sermon, or took a text and exhorted in a school house at Bloomfield Centre, five miles southeast from Pontiac, where I had been holding services during the spring. The house was crowded with my friends, who were bent on hearing my first sermon; and we had, what we used to call "The shout of the King in the camp;" but my father used to call it a "Methodist pow wow." Father was brought up an Episcopalian and did not take any stock in a noisy kind of religion; but let him go to a barn raising, a logging bee or a general training and no man in Oakland county could beat him on making a noise. Dear old man, I believe he is in heaven now, where I hope to meet him when I cross the line.
Well, the Michigan conference held its session at White Pigeon, in September of that year, Bishop Roberts presiding; I was admitted on trial, and appointed as junior preacher on Palmer circuit, with Lovell F. Harris, as preacher in charge. My father gave me a splendid saddle horse, my -uncle loaned me a saddle and bridle, and Dr. Ezra S. Parke gave me a pair of portmanteaus large enough to hold all of my worldly goods, and thus equipped I pulled out for my first circuit, which embraced all of the country bordering on St. Clair river and twenty-five miles on the shore of Lake Huron and reaching inland from five to fifteen miles. We had eighteen preaching places, some of them we visited on the work days of the week. At Fort Huron, St. Clair, Newport, now Marine City, and Algonac, we preached on Sabbath mornings and visited some country school house in the afternoon and evening. same day. The discipline of our church fixed my salary at $100 beside traveling and table expenses, but the stewards made no estimate of my table expenses, but said I must do as the country school master did, board around; and you may rest assured I did as they suggested, and by this means I secured the full amount of my table expenses if I did fall short $40 on my salary. In my boarding around I found some very good boarding places. One of which I wish to make special mention. .The head of the family was a widow and she had three sons, Tim, George and David. Tim was about my age, George was next, and then came David. They all thought a great deal of my Billy horse, and David would always insist on bringing him out fully equipped for my use, when it came time for me to leave for my ride of fifteen miles down Bell river to Newport, my next place for stopping, and when, that same David was our governor, he used to refer me to - the time when he was my hostler, and used to lead my Billy out of the little log stable, all saddled and bridled ready for me to mount. The home of this Jerome family was at that time about three miles east of the Gratiot turnpike where it crosses Bell river. I don't think David, at that time, had any aspirations for the office he has since held; and I don't think George had any thought of becoming the attorney of the Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee railroad. But such is life, and that grand old mother of theirs little thought what those boys were destined to become and do after she should depart and join their father on the other shore.
At that time Capt. Ward had his home at Newport and was known through the state as Uncle Sam, the steamboat king. Captain Eber, his nephew, was at that time captain of one of his boats, the Sara Ward, making daily trips between Detroit and Port Huron. Captain Eber died in Detroit a few years ago, reputed to be worth in the neighbor hood of $5,000,000. 1 think the last steamboat Uncle Sam built was the Atlantic, which ran from Detroit to Buffalo, with the Mayflower, in connection with the Michigan Central railroad, carrying its passengers between the two cities just named. Her last trip came to a sudden ending on her way from Detroit to Buffalo. When but a short distance from Long Point she collided with one of the propellers of the Northern Transportation Co.'s line and went to the bottom of Lake Erie, the passengers all being saved. She was a magnificent steamboat and one of the fastest sailers at that time on the lakes. But I am spending too much time on my first years' itinerancy, and while there are many others of whom I would like to make mention, but I dare not for fear of prolixity, I will therefore merely mention the names of Judge Bunce, the two Sanborns, Ralph Wadanas, Esq. Smith, Senator Conger, Judge Mitchell, John Beard, and Esq. Ira Porter, all of whom afforded me excellent boarding places as I went around; but my chief or bead quarters for good living was with Tucker and Daniels at Algonac. In the month of June I took to myself a wife, in accord with a previous engagement, but did not consider it good economy to ask her to go boarding around with me during the balance of that conference year, so she remained at her father's until I entered upon my second year in the conference, when we commenced boarding ourselves.
My second circuit was Richmond, embracing a small portion of St. Clair county and two townships in Macomb county in the northeast corner of said county. I had full swing here, being the only preacher on the circuit, and I made the round once in two weeks, preaching three times each Sabbath, at six different places, and riding each Sabbath about twelve miles. Our churches were all district school houses and not very large at that, but I doubt if Talmadge's tabernacle is more densely packed from Sabbath to Sabbath than were these tabernacles, which I occupied during that year. Being now a married man, I was entitled according to discipline to $200 beside my traveling and table expenses, all of which I received except regular salary, on which I fell short $50. The winter of that year was called our hard winter and we had good sleighing from November 25 until after town meeting in April.
My third and fourth years were upon Shiawassee circuit, as preacher in charge, with W. F. Cowles for my colleague the first year, and F. A. Blades for colleague the second year. We made the round of this circuit once in four weeks, and bad eighteen regular preaching places, Owosso, Corunna, Shiawasseetown and Byron were included, being the only cities of importance then existing in Shiawassee county. Here I first became acquainted with our pioneer friend, of precious memory, B. 0. Williams, and his brother Alfred. The house we lived in at Shiawasseetown was built for a hotel of vast proportions, and with the expectation of a large city in the near future, provisions were made for the accommodation of a great number of guests. But for some reason the big city did not get there, and the multitude of guests did not come, and the big hotel, only finished in part, was converted into residences, for poor families, like us Methodist preachers, who were not able to pay extravagant rents. We occupied the large ball room, which was lathed but not plastered. With boards unplanned we made a partition across the hall, so as to give. us two rooms; one for a guest chamber and pastor's study, and the other and larger one served for kitchen, dining room, sitting room and parlor with our family bed in the northeast corner of the big room. My colleague Bro.. Blades, had his home with us, he being a single man and was obliged to board around. Our receipts upon this charge compared favorably with previous ones.
Our next circuit was Livingston, with David A. Curtis as my colleague. The circuit embraced the most of Livingston county, and I made the round once in four weeks. Howell, Milan and Pinckney were the only cities of importance, and the rest of our preaching Places were in country school houses. At Howell the Congregationalists had a small chapel, which we occupied once in two weeks and a Congregational minister by the name of Root occupied it each alternate Sabbath, which gave them preaching every Sabbath; the congregationing composed of Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Episcopalians, and a large proportion of persons not members of any church. Sectarianism did not exhibit its hydra head to annoy us in a single instance. At Milan the Presbyterians had a comfortable brick church, which they kindly opened for our use each alternate Sabbath; and our congregation was much like the one at Howell. At Pinckney we bad no church building and all worshiped together in a school house, the same harmony prevailing as at the two places previously mentioned. On this circuit I made the acquaintance of Hon. Charles P. Bush, one of Michigan's brightest citizens, and one of the shrewdest politicians the democratic party has ever placed in office in this State. He and his family became my fast friends and remained so, notwithstanding our difference in politics. He died comparatively a young man and his death was a great loss to Michigan, and still greater to the democratic party, of which he was a leader in the fullest sense. At that time he carried on farming, his large and splendid farm being located about three miles southeast from Howell, on the Detroit and Grand River turnpike. I suppose the farm lies there still, but Charles P. Bush does not own it now and will not come to cultivate its fertile soil any more. He was a member of the legislature that located the capitol where we are now gathered, and afterward became a resident of Lansing, where he was living when death summoned him away. I am not certain but I think some of his family are living here at this time. Peace to his ashes. I love to think of him as I used to see his manly form in my congregation with his keen eyes fixed upon me as I tried, to the best of my ability, to send the truth into his heart. There were other men in that section I love to remember, such as Ely and Pardon Barnard, Elias Steadman, Judge Stansbury, Deacon Noble and Deacon Gay, Lawyer Whipple, Frank Bush (brother of Charles P.), George Lee and his brother Fred, E. F. Burt, the McPherson family, N. G. Icobelli and some others, I'll not stop to name; while nearly every one named have gone to join the great majority over on the other shore, I hope to meet them when I cross the river, in whose waters my feet have been resting much of the time during the past two years and some of the time it has seemed I should never return, but I am here.
Our next charge was Almont, embracing the village of Almont, in Lapeer county, and three appointments in the surrounding country. At Almont we had a chapel of our own and, as I only preached once two weeks, our Congregational friends occupied the chapel each alternate Sabbath, and thus services were held every Sabbath; and worshiped as one family and had no family brawls while I was there.
This charge had no aspirants for national honors, but a host of solid men for all work but whose names have not been very extensively circulated, and probably you would not remember having heard of them if I should repeat them, and as nothing of importance occurred out of the this, I will ask you to take a trip with me to ordinary course of event
day, and here in Port Huron, where my next appointment occurred you will discover quite a change since my first appointment to Palmer circuit in 1841. We bad a comfortable house of worship on the south side of Black river and this was well filled every Sabbath, as I, and my colleague occupied the pulpit each alternate Sabbath. The circuit was changed only in name and the transfer of all territory north of Port Huron to Lexington circuit, so that we preached at St. Clair, Newport (now Marine City), and Algonac once each Sabbath, same as when I first traveled the circuit. The two years term was spent pleasantly and I received my full salary of two hundred dollars per year and table expenses without being compelled to board around, as I did during my first year's experience. Some new comers had appeared while some of the first residents had disappeared. One of the new comers was William L. Bancroft, quite a politician of the democratic school, and was at the time publishing a newspaper, himself proprietor, and editor. He became my warm friend, notwithstanding our difference of opinion on political issues, and our friendship remained unbroken while our acquaintance continued. It is a-long time since we have met and I presume he looks more like an old man than he did in 1847 and '48. At that time L. M. Mason, Esq., was practicing law in Port Huron, and during the trial of an important suit, in which Major Thorn, a man of large physical proportions, was an interested party, Mason, being counsel for the other side, was Making his plea, Major Thorn sitting quite near him, and as he was laying down the Points of law some remark dropped on the major's ear that did not Please the old man and he belched forth the sentence, " You are a liar," and in a second the old man was stretched on the floor, the blood flowing freely from his mouth and nose. Mason apologized to the court saying he had no idea his arm was so long or he would have been more careful how he swung it when making his gestures. I don't think the major ever accused him of lying after that wonderful gesture was made.
I had a colleague upon this charge and he was of small proportions, always fearful I would be more popular with the people than himself unless he could in some safe way make the impression that I was not Pious as they took me to be. I was the owner of a very fine brown mare, and she was fat as a seal, and everyone was speaking of her beauty and fine qualities. My colleague brought with him to the charge, a young mare of good proportions, but, as he was not much of a horseman, he got nervous in handling her, and an old jockey took advantage of his weakness and traded him an old mare, that in the matter of flesh resembled one of Pharaoh's cows, and she was afflicted with poor teeth so it was impossible to get any flesh on her skeleton. On one occasion, where were present several of our leading members, some one made some remark expressive of his admiration of my mare. The remark hurt the little fellow so much that he had to make a thrust at me and he said " I am afraid Bro. Crawford's mare gets into the pulpit with him." My Irish wit came quick for once and I replied " Not a bit of it, sir; but if I could count her ribs as far as I could see her carcass, she would be on my back every time I tried to preach." I heard no more of it. Well, we next turn up at Lapeer county seat, where I formed the acquaintance of Hon. A. N. Hart, of precious memory, three brothers by the name of White, two brothers by the name of Terrell, and several other solid men, whose friendship I have always prized, and with satisfaction cherish their memory now that they are all on the other side of the river which forms the boundary line between our world and the great future. Father Clark, the old English pioneer, was on his farm five miles southeast of the village. The old man's welcome to me, as his pastor, was on this wise. At my first appointment in his neighborhood, after I had preached, I held class meeting and calling on Father Clark for his testimony, he proceeded " Well Crawford, I am glad you've come, I axed Shaw for you." Shaw was our presiding elder. That same fall the old man took a pair of beautiful male calves to the State fair in Detroit, and on his return had to tell me of his trials on his way to Detroit. He said " every body I met axed me about my calves and I got out of all her of patience, and I wouldn't talk with them at all. But just before got to Pontiac a fine looking gentleman drove by me and he was in fine carriage and had a fine team, and he looked as though he might know some. He axed me how old my calves were? and I told him one of them was six months and the other was six months and two weeks. And he axed me if they were twins, and I laughed him in his face." Father Clark was a man of wonderful natural endowments with no education in the schools, but he was regarded as one of the shrewdest business men of Lapeer county. He had such eccentricities as afforded me, at times, an occasion for a right hearty laugh at his expense. I will mention one instance which must suffice. His wife's brother England, having died, left about $2,000 to be divided among his sister's children, and they all thinking it would be so long coming, they had better sell out to their father, providing he would buy; and the old man jumped at the chance, as they offered to sell at fifty cents on the dollar, he being sharp enough to know it would not take many months to bring the money from England. He placed it in the hands of C. 0. Trowbridge, of Detroit, and during my pastorate, he came up to the village one day, and found a letter in the post office from Mr. Trowbridge, and hastened to the parsonage for me to read it for him, as he could not read his correspondence. The letter informed him his money was ready for him. The old man looked at me, and smiling, said, "Now Crawford, let me say, first of all, glory to God, its coomed; now I'm rich, Lord keep me rich."
We will now come to our next circuit, which was Utica, in Macomb county embracing the towns of Washington and Macomb as well as Shelby, in which the village of Utica was located. My wife's parents resided within the bounds of this charge, and insisted on our making our home with them while on this charge, which we gladly did, and spent the time very pleasantly. On this circuit I found the Davises, the Chapels (Charles and Frank), the Leaches, the Somers, and many other solid men, all of whom became my fast friends. One incident occurred, while I was on this circuit, that afforded some amusement, and even to this date causes me to smile when I think how the young men looked as they came marching into the church just before I commenced the service. Some of the prominent women of Utica had adopted the bloomer costume and were quite conspicuous on the streets with their short dresses and pantalets. Four of the young men of the village, all very respectable, came to me and expressed a desire to attend service on the Sabbath dressed in uniform, calculated to strike a death blow to the bloomer craze among the women. I cheerfully consented, and after the congregation was mostly in their seats, in came the young dudes in their newly made costumes, and took their seats in the amen corner of the church, looking as dignified and behaving themselves as becomingly as any Presbyterian deacons ever did. They wore white cambric pantaloons, made very large from the waistbands to the ankles and drawn tight around the ankles by means of cord. The rest of their apparel corresponded with their pants; when, at the close of service, they marched deliberately out and went quietly home, and thus ended the bloomer craze in Utica.
My next charge was Birmingham, where my cousin, Poppleton, lived and was running a general store. Many of my old friends and several of my kindred, such as uncles, aunts, and cousins, were members of my congregation, and all seemed very much pleased with the appointment, and did not seem to tire of my preaching, even though I was a prophet in my own country and among my own kindred. The farm, upon which I was raised lay within three miles of the village, and the entire circuit covered territory with which I had been familiar since I was eight years of age, and I had known many of my parishioners during all of those intervening years. We had no very great men on this charges nor men who aspired to become great. We were so near Detroit on the one side, and Pontiac on the other, that our great men, as well as the ambitious ones, gave us the go by and settled in one of those thriving cities. My next charge was Detroit city mission and my appointments were all suburban, and in making my rounds I encircled the city, which at that time was a trifle smaller than it is today. City missionary as I was, I had the pleasure of forming an acquaintance with such men as J. C. Holmes, 0.I. Walker, Philo Parsons, John Owen, Judge Ross Wilkins, Bela Hubbard, Thomas W. Palmer, Dr. Landfield, who for a number of years was the successful pastor of the First Presbyterian church in that city, and who finally received a sudden call from pulpit to the church of the first born, which is with out spot or wrinkle, before the throne of God. He was a grand man, and lives in my memory as he does in the memory of many others, who knew him but to love him, in the days of his prosperity as a faithful minister of the gospel of Christ.
My next move was to Battle Creek, where I spent two of the pleasantest years of my itinerant life. Here I made the acquaintance of Erastus Hussey, Victor P. Collier, John and Benjamin F. Hinman, and E. C. Manchester. I also made the acquaintance of Dr. 0. C.Comstock and A. 0. Hyde, of Marshall. Battle Creek has always been a very dear spot to me, since the fall of 1855, when I left there and took my next appointment to Jackson, where I served as pastor of the Church one year and was then appointed by the board of prison inspectors as chaplain at the prison, where I remained for three years and preached to the men in stripes. Kinsley S. Bingham was our governor, and William Hammond was agent of the prison, now called " warden”. At Jackson I made the acquaintance of H.D. Austin Blair, Judge Gridley, Judge David Johnson, Col. Michael Shoemaker and his brother Joseph, Peter B. Loomis, Fidus Livermore, and many other solid men including lawyers, doctors, merchants, and ministers of the several denominations of christians, including Mr. Grinnel of the Episcopal church, and A. Mahan of the Congregational church; both grand men, and I shall never forget their kindness to me and the help they gave me in my work at the prison. Gov. Bingham was a man with a large heart, and he was full of sympathy for the friends of convicts, who were constantly pleading for pardon for their friends. But he had good judgment and exercised his pardoning power with extreme caution, with one single exception, and that was a peculiar case and I did not censure him for doing as he did in that peculiar case, but I did have some sport with him, which he enjoyed as well as myself and others. An old lady came all the way from the state of New York to plead for her only boy who had been sentenced for five years for larceny. She went to see the governor several times at his home in Kensington, and he invariably promised her he would pardon her boy if she would bring a recommend for his pardon from the warden and chaplain. But this she failed to get every time. After letting matters rest for a few weeks she put out for another interview with the governor. Going to Ann Arbor on the afternoon train, she footed it from Ann Arbor to Kensington, reaching the governor's home about eleven o'clock. She rang the bell and the governor responded with a light in his hand, and he at once recognized the familiar face of Mother McAllister, and the poor, tired old woman, after a walk of seventeen miles, burst into tears and said: " Governor, I've come after my boy, can I have him?" Well," said he, "you go to bed and rest you the balance of the night and we'll see about it in the morning," and in the morning after breakfast he made out the papers and mailed them to the Secretary of State at Lansing, and sent her away happy in the prospect that, as soon as the papers could get around to Jackson, she would take her darling and hie away with him back to her home in the state of New York. The day after she returned from Kensington, she took her way- ward son and departed, and that was the last we knew of them. A few days after her departure, the Governor came to visit us, and he was sitting in the agent's office talking with Mr. Hammond as I entered the office on my return from dinner. He looked at me as much as if to say, I wonder what he has in store for me? He met me with a hearty hand shake, as he always did, and after the usual salutation, I said to him, "Well, Governor, you have given me an insight into one passage of scripture that I never fully comprehended until now. “Lest by her continued coming she weary me, I'll revenge her of her adversary."' His reply was, "Well, chaplain, I guess if she had called you up at Eleven o'clock at night after a walk of seventeen miles in the dark, and your wife had joined in her plea, as mine did, you would have yielded," and I said, "Amen, God bless you, Governor, ." and the agent responded, Amen."
At the close of three years, I retired from the chaplaincy of the prison and was stationed at Niles, where I stayed but one year, for reasons I will not stop to explain, except to say, that the people of Ionia asked the bishop for my appointment to their charge, and he said he would grant their request if I would consent to the change, and I did so, greatly to the annoyance and grievance of the most of my congregation at Niles; and while I had a warm reception and a pleasant pastorate of two years at Ionia, I have always regretted that I consented to the change. I had one of the most gracious revivals in Niles of any one year of my ministry, and the converts were all well cared for by my successor, Rev. Hiram Law. While at Niles, I made the acquaintance of Hon. Schuyler Colfax, of South Bend, Indiana, a village about ten miles south of Niles. Our acquaintance soon ripened into a friendship as lasting as life, and no one, outside of his own immediate 'kindred, could have felt his sudden death, while in his vigorous manhood, more deeply than I did. At Ionia I formed the acquaintance of Hons. Hampton Rich, Sandford Yeomans, George and Jack Webber, Hon. Albert Williams, John C. Blanchard, Esq., and W. W. Mitchell, Esq.; John C. and I could agree in our religious views but in politics we had several tilts. It was during my first year's pastorate at Ionia that the rebellion was inaugurated, and when the news reached us of the attack upon Sumpter, John C. came to me, with blood in his eye,. and charged me with having a hand in dividing the Union, as I had been somewhat outspoken against the abominable system of slavery. But I told him the Union was not divided and would not be, but that slavery was now doomed to die, and the slaveholders had themselves inaugurated the measures that were destined to do the work of its destruction, and I hoped he and I might live to see the work completed, and we did. Was I a true prophet? John C. was an official member of my church and gave me his hearty support, and before the year was ended was making war speeches, and aiding to raise volunteers and finally went himself as a sutler in one of the regiments, and on his first visit home, declared if he had the matter in hand he would raise an army of 3,000,000 and drive the whole southern confederacy into the Gulf of Mexico. But after the war closed he sort of cooled off, and since then it is hard telling what his politics have been.
My next appointment was Kalamazoo, where I first met Judge Hezieka G. Wells, of precious memory; also Hon. Charles E. Stewart, General Dwight May, Lieut. Gov. Charles May, Dr. Jas. A. B. Stone, Williard A. Wood, N. A. Balch, Thos. C. Brownell, and Henry Gilbert. My next appointment was Albion, the home for many years of Rev. W. H. Brockway, who had his last meeting with us two years ago this month and was obliged to leave before our final adjournment. Perhaps some of you remember how gracefully he took his leave as he retired never to meet with us again. We miss him as we do some others who were with us at that reunion, for instance, Dr. Shepard, Hon. 0. Poppleton, and A. D. P. Van Buren. At the end of one year I was appointed presiding elder of Coldwater district and moved to Coldwater, where I had a pleasant home for four years. The district extended from White Pigeon on the west to the meridian line of the State on the east, the eastern boundary of our conference, and embraced the counties of Hillsdale, Branch, and the largest part of St. Joseph; and took in White Pigeon, Mottville, Centreville, Constantine, Sturgis, Burr Oak, Bronson, Coldwater, Girard, Quincy, Allen, Jonesville, Hillsdale, Osseo, North Adams and Pittsford, Reading and Cambria;, so you see my chances for extending my acquaintance were greatly enlarged, and well improved. I will mention but few of the many I met for the first time as I took the rounds of my district. Hon. Charles Upson, Hon. Caleb D. Randall, Harvey Haynes, Ex-Gov. Cyrus G. Luce, S. 0. Coffinberry, Esq., Henry H. Riley, Esq., Witter J. Baxter, E. 0. Grosvenor, Judge Eastman Johnson, Harvey Warner, Esq., John Wolf, Wm. Allman, and Comfort Tyler. At the end of my four years term as presiding elder, I was appointed pastor at Centreville, where I had already become acquainted with nearly everybody residing within the bounds of this charge, and where resided some whose names I have already mentioned, therefore I will only ask you to remain here one year, and then take you, with me, back to Jackson prison, where I was appointed chaplain by the board of inspectors, and here I spend another three years, under the administration of Gov. Baldwin, with Henry H. Bingham as agent, he having acted as clerk of the prison during the time of my former chaplaincy; and I think if .Latimer had been an inmate at that time he would not have succeeded in getting that clerk to bring him Prussic acid, not knowing whether it was poison or something good, with which to flavor his lemonade and render it more palatable, as was the case with clerk Tabor, recently. We had prison discipline when he was clerk, and prison discipline when he was agent. He resigned while I was serving as chaplain, and John Morris of Charlotte was appointed to succeed him, who still held the office when I resigned. During this term a clerk Hulin, a man in whom we all placed confidence, was detected in the embezzlement of a large amount of the money belonging to the State, and, after trial and conviction was sentenced for five years penal servitude. I had known him since my first pastorate in the church in Jackson. His wife was an honored member of my church, and he was a regular attendant on the services and contributed as largely toward my support as any member of the church, being at the time a hardware merchant and having a good trade. He afterward failed in business, then was elected justice of the peace, and when Mr. Bingham was made agent of the prison he recommended him to the board of inspectors for the clerkship of the prison, and he was appointed, and still held the office under Mr. Morris at the time of his detection. A careful examination of the books revealed the fact that he commenced his embezzlement soon after entering the office, and had carried it on successfully and without suspicion from the first, until some transaction caused Mr. Morris to suspect him, and his foot was soon in the trap adroitly set for his capture. I don't think there was an officer of the prison who did not weep like a child when we saw him come through the gate under the guidance of the sheriff of Jackson county. He served his term and was discharged with a broken spirit, and only lived a few months after his liberation.
On my retirement from the chaplaincy of the prison in the fall of 1872, 1 recommended the appointment of Rev. George Hickock, a Baptist minister, as my successor and that you may see whether I made a mistake in my judgment of his fitness for the position, I am proud to say, that he has given such general satisfaction that he still holds the office, and probably will until he resigns from choice, unless death shall call for him before he tenders his resignation. If I had the time, I would like to give you some of my experience in dealing with convicts, but this I cannot do as I must hasten around.
My next appointment was at St. Joseph, where I spent two years very pleasantly, and formed the acquaintance of Hon. A. H. Morrison, whose name appears among the deceased members of this Society, having joined it in 1877. He was at that time general manager of the Chicago and West Michigan railroad. During the first year I was there, I was on board a train returning from Grand Rapids, having but one passenger coach and a baggage car, and while rounding a curve the forward trucks of our coach left the track, and the coupling between it and the baggage car gave way and our car rolled down an embankment. making one revolution, and I turned a sort of somersault and fell upon the floor face downward, with the stove, well loaded with fire, across my back, spilling some of the coals on the left side of my neck and causing my whiskers to appear very much demoralized. I was laid flat for about four weeks, and after I was fully restored. Mr. Morrison called me into his office, and after introducing me to the attorney of the road, Mr. Nims, he asked me what damages I intended to demand. I replied, "not any." " Why," said he, "you are entitled to damages according to law." "Yes," said I, "I suppose I am, but my half fare pass has certain conditions printed on the back, which I accepted when I received the pass." " Yes," said he, "but that don't amount to anything according to law." "I am well aware of that," said I, "but if I should demand damages you would refer me to those conditions, and say, (what about the moral question involved in your demand,' wouldn't you? " "Perhaps I should," said be, "but I intend to give you something." "Very well," said I, "give me what you please and I'll not refuse your donation." " Well," said he, "I propose to give you $50 and a pass for yourself and family while you remain on the line of our road, will that be satisfactory?" "Anything that will satisfy you, will satisfy me," was my reply. He then turned to his clerk and told him to order a car load of four foot wood delivered at the M. E. parsonage, and another carload next year, if Mr. Crawford remained in it, and I did, and the wood came, and of good quality. Our next move was to Allegan, where we spent two pleasant years, forming many acquaintances and securing new friends. Among these were Judge Stone, Judge Littlejohn, Judge Williams, Judge Arnold, Dr. H. F. Thomas, Don C. Henderson, Esq., Duncan McMartin and Joseph Fisk. The most of these are gone to swell the majority on the other side, while Stone, Thomas, Williams and Henderson, are still here in active service, and are held in high esteem by men of all political parties and religious creeds. Our next move was to Cedar Springs, a little village on the Grand Rapids and Indiana railroad, twenty-two miles north from Grand Rapids. Here we spent a pleasant year, and was then appointed presiding elder of Ionia district, and returned to renew old acquaintances, and form a great many new ones, at Greenville, Stanton, Portland, Hubbardston, Carson City, Lyons, Pewamo, Muir, Woodland, Bowne Center, Saranac, and Lowell; among whom was Hon. Jas. W. Belknap, Westbrook Divine, Col. Ellsworth, John Lewis, Esq., and many others whose friendship I highly prize. After spending four very pleasant years at Ionia in district work, I was returned to the pastorate, and appointed at my own request to East Street, Grand Rapids. Here I succeeded, after much effort, in building a new church, to take the place of the little chapel, where we worshiped for two Years. Our new church cost us when completed, including furnishing, $5,000 and I had the pleasure of occupying its pulpit all of my third year, and at the close of my term, had the entire indebtedness provided for, and only three hundred dollars remaining unpaid, which was soon wiped out by my successor, Rev. Mr. Carlisle. We left many warm friends at East street, when we were appointed to Ames church. another charge in another part of the same circuit, and where we spent three very pleasant years. While serving these two charges I made the acquaintance of Dr. Charles Shepard, Henry Fralick, T. D. Gilbert, Judge Champlin, Harvey J. Hollister, J. C. Fitzgerald, Allen Durfee, Henry Spring, and Major Watson, and a host of others I cannot take time to name. At the close of this pastorate, and at the completion of forty-six years continued services, I took a superannuated relation for the purpose of taking a trip to Oregon and Washington, to spend a few months with our friends on the Pacific coast. We left home the last of October and returned the first of August following, having had a most delightful visit with our friends, and a view of much grand scenery, going via Union Pacific railroad, and returning via Northern Pacific, from Seattle to St. Paul, and from thence to Chicago, via Wisconsin Central, and from Chicago to Grand Rapids, via Chicago and West Michigan. We made the entire trip without accident or delay on either route, except one-half hour in Bear River valley, on Union Pacific, from a heated journal, which was easily made up in the next run, so that we were at all stations on schedule time. At the next session of our conference, I was returned to the effective list and appointed to Holland City, twenty-five miles southwest from Grand Rapids. At the close of one year, having received a meager support and finding myself advancing in years, I thought best to retire from effective work and took a superannuated relation, designed to be permanent, and returned to Grand Rapids for our permanent home, where a generous friend, Mrs. Jas. Dolbee, built a good commodious house, known as "The Cottage in the Orchard," and presented us with a life lease of the same; and we find ourselves nicely settled for the balance of our lives, among our East street friends and our East street church, our place of worship. Soon after our return to Grand Rapids, I was invited by General Pierce to act as chaplain at the Soldier's Home where my duties were to consist of one sermon on the Sabbath and attend all funerals of soldiers dying at the home. I took this work in hand on the 6th of April, and continued the work until the 25th of October, the second year, when I resigned, as I had supplied the by proxy since the 28tb of June, at which time I held my last with the veterans, being prostrated with malarial fever, from the effect of which I could not rally, and resigned, feeling that I must die relieved of the responsibility of looking after the work of supplies for funerals and sabbath services. Meantime, I had done some successful canvassing for some valuable books, but now laid upon the shelf by sickness, my little salary at the Soldier's Home cut off, and being unable to do any canvassing for the sale of books, things from my human standpoint looked a little dubious, but thus far God has been better to us than our fears; and our friends have shown themselves friendly in many substantial ways. At the celebration of our golden wedding one year ago, many of our friends outside of Grand Rapids sent their congratulations in substantial form, which, added to those of our city friends, netted over three hundred dollars, which made us feel almost as rich as did Father Clark, when his little dowry came from England, but we did not pray, "Lord keep us rich," but we did pray, "Lord make us worthy of such friendships." At the time of our last pioneer meeting in June, one year ago, I was unable to attend, and thought it quite probable that I should never look into your faces again, until I should greet you on the, other shore. But I am here, in much better health than I enjoyed two months ago, and from present indications I am encouraged to hope, that by the time of our next annual reunion, " Richard will be himself again." But what the future has in store for me, no finite mind can tell, but I'll try and keep on in the service of my Master, who has borne with my weaknesses for these fifty-two years; and I am sure I shall find mercy at his hands, when he comes to sign my release, whether this year or the next, or many years thereafter; and in the sweet bye and bye I shall hope for a reunion with all of my pioneer friends who have gone before, or may go before, and all who may come after my transfer to the church triumphant, which is without spot before the throne of God.
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