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Who Became a Bishop



HILE on a trip in the northern part of the District, April 1st, there came a great blizzard, that is, a snow storm with fierce wind. Thousands of cattle perished and the railroads were blocked. I was storm-stayed so that I missed an appointment--the first one since being bishop, over two years. In May, the great debt on the church at Grand Island was paid and the church was consecrated. In June I was able to visit my good friend, Bishop Knickerbacker, in Indianapolis, which was a mutual satisfaction and blessing to us both. I addressed his diocesan convention and girls' school.
     All the spring and summer three large buildings were going up in Kearney for our own Church school. We opened the school September 6th, with seven teachers and a good attendance of pupils. At first we had both boys and girls among the pupils. Much of my time had been spent in looking after the building and preparing for the opening. Soon after the school opened, I went east to raise money for our work and attend the General Convention. I pleaded the cause of our missionary work in fifteen cities and made some more good friends. At the General Convention we worked on revising the Prayer Book and elected seven missionary bishops. During the year I visited all

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our missionary stations twice and conducted the services of our Church in nine new places.
     I was able to report to the Board of Missions, September 1st, as follows:
     "At the end of two years and eight months, I can report the work in this District well organized and systematized. All parishes and missions are filled with energetic clergymen. The active clergy have increased from six to eleven; the communicants from three hundred and seventy-five to nine hundred and fifty; the baptisms from eighty-five a year to two hundred and twelve; the confirmations from about fifty to one hundred and fifty; Church debts have decreased by thirteen thousand, four hundred and sixty-two dollars; Church property has been acquired to the value of thirty-four thousand, six hundred and seventy-five dollars. Although the times were still very hard, the Lord seemed to prosper us in financial as well as in spiritual matters.



T the beginning of Lent. I held a seven days' mission at our school, preaching each evening and answering questions. When at home, I have generally conducted service on Sunday evenings at the school.

Who Became a Bishop

     On the twenty-third of March, a baby boy was born to us--the last of six children--four boys and two girls.
     On Ascension Day, I consecrated a new church at North Platte, Rev. L. P. McDonald, rector. It had been just twenty years to a day since the first little chapel was consecrated at which I was also present, being then rector of the church at Plattsmouth, in the eastern part of the state. Bishop Clarkson and Dean Garrett were also present. I received a call at that time to become the first missionary there, but declined the call. It is interesting to note that the first service ever held in North Platte was by Bishop Tuttle, then on his way out to Salt Lake for the first time.
     About the middle of May I took a trip with Rev. Mr. Bates to our sod church at Kennedy. In the three days we drove eighty miles, held two services with baptism and confirmation and secured seventy game birds with our guns. A few days later, at Bassett, besides calling on all our people, we bagged nineteen birds. Such recreation, while not interfering with our work, was a great relief from the steady grind of travel, calls and preaching. I might say here that Rev. Mr. Bates, while in charge of from twelve to eighteen stations, took up the study of Botany for recreation. He became an expert botanist, well known at the Smithsonian Institute and Columbia University. He discovered over a hundred plants, which were not

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known to exist in Nebraska, and found several which were not known to science anywhere.
     After the school closed in June, my two older children and myself visited the World's Fair in Chicago for two weeks. All that year the plastering had been falling off the eighty rooms in the dormitories of our school, owing to the worthless lime used in the work. To replaster them cost us eleven hundred dollars, and was a hard blow to the school. After a law-suit, which dragged along for five years, we got six hundred dollars in damages.
     In August three of my children drove with me on a camping trip up to the headwaters of the South Fork of the Loup River. This was partly to investigate two county seats off the railroad, where our missionaries had never been, but was chiefly for recreation. We camped over Sunday at the source of the river and held service in the open air. We went across the valley to a sod hut to beg some kindling wood. We found a lone woman there who said she had not burned a stick of wood or piece of coal for two years. All the cooking and heating were done with "cow chips." We asked for a small pail of drinking water, but she could not spare that, as her man was away from home and water had to be brought three miles in a barrel. We did not wonder that so many of the inmates of our insane asylums are women from the lonely ranches and farms.
     In September, Rev. Mr. Beecher and myself were

Who Became a Bishop

on our long driving trip at Gering, holding service in the Methodist church. I was nearly through the sermon, when there seemed to be a strange light in the church. Looking out of the window, we saw a neighboring building on fire. In thirty seconds all had left the church but myself and a woman who had driven forty miles to attend the service. After disrobing, gathering up the service books and putting out the lights, I also went to the fire. I saw our missionary on the top of the building next to the fire dashing pails of water on the fire as they were passed up to him from below. He was a stalwart man, six feet and three inches tall, and made a heroic figure between us and the flames. He became very popular there from that time, and fifteen years after was sent for five hundred miles to perform a wedding in the place. At this writing, 1911, he is bishop of that country in my place.
     Later in the fall I visited a number of stations in Minnesota for Bishop Gilbert and after that attended the Missionary Council in Chicago. The following is from my report to the Board of Missions:
     "The past year has been one of steady progress in our missionary efforts. The working force of our clergy is enlarged; the baptisms and confirmations have increased more than twenty per cent and our money offerings more than thirty per cent over any previous year. Our Church debts have been mostly paid off. Our permanent property has increased by five thousand dollars. I consecrated one church and opened and blessed three new chapels. I delivered

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two hundred and eighty-five sermons or addresses, confirmed one hundred and fifty-nine persons, ordained one to the priesthood and two to the diaconate. In mid-winter there were one hundred and ten pupils in our Church school."



URING the winter we had no one at our school who could teach Greek, and I heard the class recite whenever I was at home. I also held service and preached often at the school. Until my territory and responsibilities were enlarged, I visited all stations in my district twice a year. At that time I had a pass on the railroads and thought nothing of going two hundred miles to hold a service or officiate at a funeral. In those days I often carried my shotgun along, as game was quite plenty. Driving through the country, we often found ponds where ducks and snipe gathered. Rabbits, and in some parts, quails were plenty. In the smaller hamlets I could visit all around in half a day and the other half I could hunt for recreation, holding service in the evening. For example, my diary reads:
     "March 29th. At Palisade (a place of about one hundred inhabitants). Bill the town for service and make calls A. M. Hunt P. M. along the Frenchman

Who Became a Bishop

Creek, getting seven ducks. Evening, fifty at service in Congregational church." in the smaller places we often had half the inhabitants at service. Sometimes we would drive twenty-five miles between morning and evening services in order to reach two places on Sunday.
     One of the interesting trips which I made twice this year with the missionary, Rev. G. A. Beecher, afterwards Dean of the cathedral at Omaha, was to drive from Sidney to the stations on the North Platte River. It took a week with service every evening and the distance covered was two hundred miles. Sometimes we took two teams, a camping outfit and some ladies who were good singers, to help with the Church music. The places reached were usually Camp Clark, Bayard, Gering, Harrisburg and Kimball. On the fall trip this year, as we were walking to church at Harrisburg, we heard the double report of a gun. Very few were at service that night. After service we went to the principal store to find a coroner's jury in session and the body of a tall cow-boy dead upon the floor. We were told that he came into the store drunk, threatening the storekeeper and made a motion as if reaching for his revolver. The store-keeper seized a repeating shotgun and shot him twice. At the trial he was acquitted, but, brooding over it all, he became insane and soon after died.
     When I first came to the District of The Platte, we had three army posts, Forts Sidney, Niobrara and Rob-

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inson. On my rounds, I always held services in them, being heartily welcomed and entertained by the officers. I once came to Fort Robinson when the soldiers were having their annual target practice. Lieutenant Godson induced me to shoot with the soldiers at a target five hundred yards away. I took five shots and had the good luck to make fourteen points out of a possible twenty-five. The average of the dozen soldiers who were shooting was eleven and a half points out of a possible twenty-five. It was very windy and a bad day for shooting, so it must have been mostly good luck that helped me beat the soldiers.
     Sometimes in order to meet my next appointment, I had to take a night ride. On the first of June I was at Grant, in the western part of the state. After evening service, the liveryman drove me eighteen miles to Ogalalla, to take an early morning train. It was very dark and he drove slowly, so it took us most of the night. With all his caution, he ran into a barbed wire fence, which cut the horses some, but not badly. Horses were sometimes maimed for life and even killed in that way.
     On the twenty-ninth of June I started with three of my children for our summer vacation. We drove four hundred miles into the sand hill country northwest of Kearney, camping by the way every night. Sometimes we would drive nearly a whole day without seeing a house. Generally we followed dim trails through the hills, but often keeping our direction by the compass

Who Became a Bishop

only. For hours we would not know where we were until we came to some lonely ranch house to inquire. In ten days we reached our little sod church at Kennedy, where we spent Sunday and held service. The missionary from Valentine, Rev. Mr. Bates, met us there. With him and Mr. Piercy, warden and lay-reader of the mission, we drove a few miles to Swan Lake, where we camped for several days. There we caught black bass, but had to cook them and all our food with cow chips, as there were no trees within twenty miles.
     On our way back we camped one night near a ranchman's house on Beaver Lake. When we drove up, his two daughters were in the middle of the lake swimming for shore. The ranchman had a pack of hungry dogs, which had to hunt for their food, as well as for the ranchman. While we were in the house for a few minutes, they stole a kettle of hot stew off the camp stove and also a tin pail full of eggs. Only for the kindness of the family, we might have gone supperless to bed. Afterwards one of those girls was working her way through our Church school in Kearney and became an earnest communicant of the Church. The next Sunday we camped by a ranch on the Loup River and held service in the house many miles from any village. One night we camped near a house where a little girl had been bitten by a rattle-snake and died a few days before we came. We averaged about thirty miles a day, and reached home the last of July. We

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had been gone just a month and had slept in a house only a few times.
     The summer of 1894 was a remarkable and most critical summer for western Nebraska. Hot winds from the south blew for weeks at a time. No rain nor even cloud came to shield the crops. The thermometer ranged from one hundred to one hundred and fifteen degrees, Fahrenheit, in the shade. The air was filled with a fine, impalpable dust, which made the sun look dark red like a ball of fire. The wheat and oats were dried up before they ripened. The corn everywhere turned white and dead when two or three feet high. As the people expressed it, "the crops were fired." Pigs and chickens wandered miles from home in search of food, and many of them starved to death. The wild sunflowers, dwarfed by the drought, were gathered for feed and fuel. In August and early autumn, thousands of settlers refitted the covered wagons in which they had come to the country, loaded in what things they had left and moved away. It was a sad sight to see them wending their way slowly over the prairies, homeless and broken-hearted. Some went into the mountains farther west and some back eastward to their early homes. One day I met several such wagons crossing a bridge over the Platte River. I asked them where they were from? They answered, "Perkins County." Where are you going? "Don't know, got to get out of this." A woman I knew who owned a reaper and horses cut several hundred acres of wheat

Who Became a Bishop

on deserted farms and secured hardly enough to bread her family. Here and there was a head of wheat with two or three kernels in it. I did not see a single ear of corn raised that year in western Nebraska. If provisions and clothing had not come from the east by car-loads, hardly anyone would have been left in the land. As it was, I traveled twenty-five miles in Holt County without passing an inhabited house where before all the land had been occupied. Other counties were as bad and some of them were worse. In some of the villages and even in Kearney nearly half of the houses were vacant. The people had come out poor, taken up homesteads and exhausted all their means in improvements, so they had nothing left when the drought came. Our missionaries everywhere became agents for distributing charity from the east. I received over a thousand dollars without solicitation for the purpose. Eighteen hundred and ninety had been a very bad year and broke up many homes, but this was worse and took the heart and hope out of our people. Many farms, which were deserted then, sold fifteen years later for twenty-five to eighty dollars an acre.
     At the beginning of 1894, I was able to report to the Board of Missions as follows: "In four years our mission stations have increased from nineteen to seventy; our clergy from six to fourteen; the communicants from three hundred and seventy-five to one thousand one hundred and seventy-three; the baptisms from one hundred and sixty-six to two hundred and sixty-six; the

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confirmations from sixty-three to one hundred and fifty-nine; the number of services from one thousand one hundred and forty-eight to two thousand four hundred and six; communions administered from one hundred and ninety-six to five hundred and forty-seven; Sunday school teachers and pupils from four hundred and sixty-four to nine hundred and thirteen; value of Church property from forty-nine thousand six hundred and ten to ninety-nine thousand five hundred and forty-six dollars; debts decreased from. seventeen thousand three hundred and sixteen dollars and eighty-nine cents to three thousand one hundred and thirty-seven dollars and seven cents; receipts from the District increased from eight thousand. three hundred and five dollars and seventy-eight cents to twenty thousand, five hundred and sixteen dollars arid twenty-three cents. That year I visited all stations twice, delivered two hundred and seventy, sermons or addresses and administered communion sixty-eight times. Our Church school was kept going only by help from outside.



FTER our convocation early in January, I spent six weeks in the east soliciting funds to support our missionaries and school, The drought and hard

Who Became a Bishop

times had driven me to this. I visited more than twenty cities, making addresses and appeals nearly every day before congregations, branches of the Woman's Auxiliary, Sunday schools and individuals. I did not like that kind of work, but I got the needed money and made many friends, some of whom helped our work years afterwards.
     From the middle of March to the middle of June I was constantly on the road, preaching and confirming almost every night. On one of my trips, I was away from home five weeks, which was the case once or twice each year. For a vacation and change that summer I took our four older children and a daughter of one of our missionaries up into the mountains in Colorado and camped beside the Poudre Cache River. There for three weeks we rested and fished for trout, catching all we could use in camp.
     Early in September, with the missionary, Rev. Geo. A. Beecher, I visited the stations on the North Platte River. Starting from Sidney, we drove northwest fifty miles, passing on the way through a swarm of grasshoppers five miles in extent. They had eaten all the prairie grass and a flock of seventy-five hawks and a bald eagle were eating the grasshoppers. At sunset we came to the Post Office of Silverthorne, kept in a sod house of two rooms by the family who had invited us to come. That evening we held service in a sod school-house near by, having a lamp on our desk and a lantern hung from the roof to light the peo-

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ple. After returning to the house, the man requested us to baptize him, which we did. Then for an hour or more we instructed him, his wife and daughter in the fundamental principles of the Christian religion. Then the three were confirmed and received the holy communion. As the place was off our usual beat, there was no certainty of our being there again, hence we crowded these functions together, working until after midnight. The daughter then went off to another ranch where she was working. As there were but two rooms and one bed in the house, we divided the bed as follows. The man and his wife took the mattress and gave us the springs. We placed the springs on four chairs in the kitchen, put under and over us the blankets we had brought along and thus spent the rest of the night.
     The second night after we came to Bayard and held service there. After service a young woman and her husband remained sitting on the front seat. I stepped down and spoke to them. The woman looked up into my face and said, "Mr. Graves, don't you remember me?" I could not recall her looks or her name and she seemed disappointed and exclaimed, "Why, you held me in your arms as a little baby and baptized me." That was true and took place over twenty years before at Plattsmouth, Nebraska. Now she, her husband and father had driven in eight miles to see and hear their old pastor.
     After service Mr. Beecher refused to go into the

Who Became a Bishop

little tavern fearing the insects which were too common in such places during warm weather. We then drove on five miles by moonlight until we came in sight of a windmill where we knew we could get water in the morning. We turned out of the road on to the prairie, unhitched the horses and tethered them with long ropes so they could eat grass. We then took out our roll of blankets and spread them on the ground. Mr. Beecher on crawling in between the blankets gave a groan as something sharp pierced his side. On looking we found we had spread our blankets over a thorny cactus half buried in the sand. I dug it out with the heel of my shoe and we slept peacefully under the open sky. The next morning we watered the horses at the windmill and got our breakfast in the ranchhouse.
     The latter part of September I went camping with the old party from Lake City, Minnesota. We went by train and wagon through the forest to Clam Lake, Wisconsin, where for twelve days we camped, hunted and fished. On the way back I attended the General Convention which met that year in my old church, Gethsemane, Minneapolis. At that convention the constitution of the church was thoroughly revised and the first bishops elected for Alaska and Kyoto, Japan. Before Christmas I had visited again nearly all the stations in my district.

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HE problem of keeping a large mission alive and pushing the work in other missions connected with it during a vacancy confronts all our frontier bishops. Lay-readers can rarely be found for such work and clergymen are too expensive and difficult to find. It seemed to me that Godly and accomplished women might do such work for a while in places where we cannot afford to locate a clergyman. Early in this year I found such a lady, Miss Bertha Childe, a university graduate and a correspondent of the New York Tribune. I gave her such special instructions as I could and a lay-reader's license. She was to organize and superintend Sunday school, conduct a lay service Sunday afternoons, reading printed sermons or a short paper of her own composition, organize and direct a ladies' guild, conduct a sewing class for little girls and call at regular intervals on every family in the village. Miss Childe did this work most acceptably in different places for several years until a banker took her to wife. I had four other women at different times who undertook like work, one of whom came from a deaconess training school and whom I set apart as a deaconess. The chief difficulty in this experiment has been the lack of such well trained women here in the west. There must be hundreds of such women in the east who might

Who Became a Bishop

with some training do a blessed work and keep themselves sweet and attractive for many years.
     In my spring visitations in 1896 I tried also another experiment. That was to drive all around my stations with a team of horses instead of taking the cars. 1 had bought a pair of missionary ponies, weighing about seven hundred and fifty pounds each, for Rev. Mr. Beecher to use in his long string of missions off the railroad. He had now gone to the parish at North Platte, so I took the ponies and drove to all my stations except a few on the Union Pacific Railroad. Although our stations are not near together, averaging about twenty-five miles apart, I was able to make one each day except on two or three long stretches and did not miss a single appointment. Sometimes I drove fifty and even fifty-five miles in a day. Notwithstanding the exposure and fatigue, the out-of-door life kept me well and strong. One day I came near missing an appointment when I had to make twenty-six miles through snow, rain, hail, slush, thunder and lightning. At times the ponies refused to face the storm. I reached the mission at Wood Lake just in time for evening service. Cold and wet I hastened to the school-house. I had a good supper, but not until after the service. One time I had one hundred and five miles to make between Kennedy and Gordon through the unfenced sand-hills. I followed trails when they went my way. Much of the way my only guide was the compass and my only road the grass of the prairie. I forded the Snake

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River where the banks were three feet perpendicular on both sides. A part of the harness broke, but the ponies pulled me out. I generally found at night some ranchman's hut where I was always welcome. One of those nights I was entertained by a ranchman whose name was Dan Webster. I drove about fifteen hundred miles that spring and both driver and horses came out in good condition. As the railroads in those days furnished me with passes, I did not continue the practice of driving, but it proved that the thing could be done with a good team and would be delightful with an automobile.
     In the summer I made a short visit to my college and seminary friend, Rev. P. B. Lightner, then rector at Manitou Springs, Colorado. In September I went camping with Rev. C. H. Plummer, Isaac and William Richardson of Lake City, Minnesota. We camped again on Clam Lake, Northern Wisconsin. On Sunday we held service in the house of a Swede near by and baptized his child. Later in the fall I attended a meeting of the House of Bishops in New York and visited my oldest son then in Hobart College, Geneva, N. Y. On my way home I stopped at the Missionary Council in Cincinnati. I quote from my seventh annual report as follows:
     "The past year has been somewhat more cheering in the Missionary District of The Platte than the two previous years of drought and famine. Although the crops have been light and the price of our products

Who Became a Bishop

low, keeping our people poor, yet there has been this year no unusual destitution and suffering. People have continued to move out of the District, but not in large numbers as heretofore. None of our clergy have left us. As heretofore our missionaries have had charge of large districts with care of from six to fifteen stations. This involves travel on their part of from four hundred to eight hundred miles a month and absence from home much of the time. Yet all are cheerful and stay by their work. I do not believe a nobler band of missionaries can be found in the Church than we have in The Platte. I want to record their names here: Revs. J. M. Bates, W. S. Sayres, L. P. McDonald, H. J. Brown, S. A. Potter, G. A. Beecher, R. L. Knox, H. E. Robbins, F. Durant, E. D. Irvine, Thomas Bakes, L. H. Young, J. Senior, Howard Stoy, R. M. Hardman, Richard Whitehouse, W. H. Xanders, G. B. Clarke, E. R Earle, W. W. Wells, A. H. Tyrer, J. R. Jenkins, W. H. Frost, J. L. Craig, A. W. Bell, Wm. Toole, J. A. Tancock, P. B. Peabody, F. D. Graves, G. G. Bennett, A. J. R. Goldsmith, G. L. Freebern. Not all of these were with me at this particular time, but all of them won spurs in my District and I should like to give them all crowns. The work is done systematically by these men and reported every month to the Bishop. On each visitation I spend from one to two weeks with each missionary, talking over individual cases and difficulties, visiting isolated families and considering the possibilities of new openings. Outside a few of the larger places, the Bishop is seen once or twice a year in the home of almost every family interested in the Church.
     "Advantage has been taken of the very low price

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of real estate to secure Church property which will eventually be a great help in extending the work. At Arapahoe the Ladies' Guild bought a house and two lots for three hundred dollars, which originally cost eight hundred dollars. At Bloomington a Lutheran church was bought for three hundred and fifty dollars, which cost at first eighteen hundred dollars. At McCook two lots beside the church were secured and a house bought and moved on to them for a rectory. At O'Neill the ladies have secured five lots in the central part of the town and fitted up an old office building for a chapel. I also secured lots in other places. Growing confidence in our work and careful use of our means have induced such voluntary gifts from the east as have enabled us to sustain the work without going away to solicit funds."



HE first of January I accepted temporary charge of the Missionary District of Northern California. Bishop Wingfield who had been bishop of that District for many years had received a stroke of paralysis which crippled him for work and confined him to his house. The care of the District therefore fell to the Presiding Bishop of the Church, Bishop Williams of Connecticut. He appointed me to the work in addition

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