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and many stood. But all were respectful and listened to the young and inexperienced missionary less critically, I am quite sure, than some much more highly favored audiences would have done. I remember distinctly the text, Zech. 8:16-17, 'These are the things that ye shall do; speak ye every man the truth with his neighbor; execute the judgments of truth and peace in your gates: And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against your neighbor; and love no false oath, for all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord.' Whatever may have been the tenor of the sermon, such a text certainly contained wholesome sentiment for such an audience and such a time.
     "At the close of the sermon the question of Sunday school was presented. The blacksmith moved that we have a Sunday school 'to-day,' and the motion having carried, the audience resolved itself into classes, disposing itself among the planks and grain sacks to the best advantage possible, and an hour was spent in the study of the Sabbath school lesson.
     "Preaching services were maintained from that day during the whole summer.
     "In the earlier portion of my stay there we never knew one Sunday where the service would be held the next. Empty rooms in partially completed buildings were the favorite refuge, but the dining room of a hotel-when one was built--the waiting room of the depot are among the places which I remember served our purpose. Then I secured some posts and boards, set the posts in the ground, nailed the boards on, put up the frame of a roof, took some heavy ducking to the home of a lady and stitched the seams myself on her sewing machine, put this over the roof; my friend the wagon-maker assisted in making some benches, and we had a place to worship of our own. To be sure, the floor was mother earth, and our carpet the velvet grass,


but many worshipers among those whom the Father seeketh to worship Him have lifted spiritual song and fervent prayer to the Cod and Father of us all in places less attractive and comfortable.
     "Among the farmers who had settled in the country round about, and among the merchants, shopkeepers, and workmen I found Christian men, and also Christian women. A little band of these gathered each Sabbath, participated in the worship, assisted in the Sabbath school, and in a multitude of ways held up the hands of the young missionary. Our superintendent, a young man from the eastern part of Nebraska, would have done credit to any Sunday school, and our teachers did faithful work.
     "At the close of the summer a dozen names had been gathered for membership in the church to be organized, and a provisional organization was effected, and at that service one woman who united on confession was baptized.
     "So far as my connection with this Crawford work is concerned, it remains only to add some details, and some incidents that may be of interest to the friends of home missions. After the work was started at both Whitney (Earth Lodge) and Crawford my plan was to preach every Sunday in each place. After the morning service at Whitney, I put my Bible and gospel songs in a sack, and tied them on the back of my saddle and rode to Crawford--twelve miles. There I preached in the afternoon. At first I tried to take a hasty dinner before starting for my second appointment, but I found that the motion of the horse made it impossible for me to get to Crawford with my dinner. So, of necessity, I had to postpone my Sunday meal until after the afternoon service.
     "Among the most blessed experiences of that summer's work were my rides back from Crawford to Whitney, on Sabbath evenings, after the messages of the day had been


delivered and its work done. Nebraska, especially in its western portions, is a land of beautiful evenings. As my horse sauntered leisurely homeward, the shadows would fall softly on the rolling prairie, the western heavens would be painted on cloud and glowing blue in colors delicate, brilliant, glorious, as with pencils of light in the band of God. Through skies as clear as those of Italy or Syria the stars would look down, and then, over the glorious pine-fringed outlines of the eastern hills, would come forth the silver moon, shedding her soft indescribable glory over a landscape that seemed to tremble for joy in the mellow light, And how could such a symphony fail to impart itself to the heart of man? But through the waning moonlight and above the voices of nature there came oft to the missionary a higher communication. The consciousness of the Father's presence; the approval of the Savior whose message had that day been delivered, however weakly, the deep gratitude to Him who had guided and supported the weakest of His servants in situations where the strongest would have been as tow to the fire without His grace, the deep sweet delight of fellowship with God in that lonely road:--these and a myriad emotions no pen can write down made that ride of a solitary horseman a pleasant and a blessed part of his life's experiences.
     "Another little incident of delightful memory is connected with the process of securing the little tabernacle at Crawford. To get the lumber it became necessary to make a trip to a sawmill. This was located well up among the hills east of Crawford, toward the head of a huge gully, or small canyon, that made down from the 'Pine Ridge' into the plain below. After a brisk horseback ride in the crisp morning air, I came to the edge of the canyon, the sides of which were timbered to the bottom, which was perhaps 150 feet below. The road or trail wound around among the


pines, and toward the bottom of the glen a perfect mass of roses in full bloom, in beautiful contrast with the somber evergreen, made a picture of surpassing loveliness, and loaded the air with fragrance. No one knows how lovely a diversified landscape with forests is save him who has lived until his eyes have become weary of it upon an untimbered prairie, and then suddenly come upon a royal view of timber.
     "I have spoken of the difficulty of securing lodging during those first weeks in Crawford. A striking experience is associated in my mind with that fact. Of course in that day the gambling profession was liberally represented. It n as no uncommon thing to see a man walk out of a saloon, set up a little three-legged stand in the middle of the main street, cry out, 'Walk up here, gentlemen, walk up, bet your money and win your pile. This way, fellers, this way,' and go forward with his gambling business as unconcernedly as though he were selling fruit or notions. One of the favorite devices of this gentry was the 'ball and shell' trick. With his little stand, or some board or counter before him, the gambler produced the half of a shell, as of a large walnut, and three balls, each about the size of a pea. These he would appear to put under the shell, and manipulating them with great skill, induce some one to bet that one or more of the balls were under the shell, or were not, when of course the victim was taken in, or his money was, by the professional.
     "For some days we had noticed one of these men about town who appeared to be of rather quiet disposition for one of his class. In fact, I am quite sure that he was in the audience the first time that I preached in Crawford, and of course he knew who I was. One day he spoke to me: 'Where are you going to sleep to-night?' I said, 'Oh, I don't know, I shall have to find a chance to turn in some-

© 2002 for the NEGenWeb Project by Pam Rietsch, Ted & Carole Miller