NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center

Who Became a Bishop

among so many boys. About this time, 1898, the Spanish War broke out, and taking advantage of the military spirit which pervaded the country, we changed the school from a coeducational institution to a boy's military academy. At this time the name was changed from The Platte Collegiate Institute to The Kearney Military Academy.
     The year we opened the school there was a good attendance of boys and girls mostly from the country. The tuition, board and furnished room we offered for one hundred and twenty dollars a year and were meeting expenses at that price. Soon after came the years of drought and famine, so the country people had no money for schooling and the children had to work the year around to fend off starvation. It was a hard time for the school, but sympathizing friends in the east helped us to keep it going.
     Professor C. A. Murch took charge of the school the first three years and then Mr. H. N. Russell for the next three years. Both gave up discouraged on account of the hard times. Then Rev. E. P. Chittenden took the school, having, like the others, the whole plant rent free, on condition that the tuition should be kept low so as to reach the needs of our plainer people. The first year Dr. Chittenden did very well, but in the midst of the second year, on account of neglect and complications, the school nearly broke up entirely. I then induced Mr. Russell to become head master and I took the general management of the school myself. I might then have given up the school in despair if just at that time an endowment of thirty-six thousand dollars had not come to the school from the estate of Mr. Felix R. Brunot. This sum I carefully set aside, determined to use only the interest on it to keep the

The Farmer Boy

school going and to help the poorer boys with scholarships. After I had managed the school for several years and put it fairly on its feet, Mr. Russell was again willing to take the school plant, rent free, and assume the financial responsibilities. As the times improved, the attendance increased until the boarding pupils numbered nearly one hundred boys. This greatly crowded our buildings, and there became great need of a large, permanent, fire-proof building.
     At this juncture, Mr. F. G. Keens of Kearney came to me and offered to raise twenty-five thousand dollars in Kearney, giving ten thousand dollars of it himself, if I would raise twenty-five thousand dollars in the east for a fine new building. I laid the proposition before the Mother of the school, Mrs. Eva S. Cochran, and after careful investigation, she promised the other twenty-five thousand dollars. The building was to be of reënforced concrete, the walls filled in with pressed brick and hollow tile and the whole entirely fire-proof.
     I would here add that in due time the building was completed and occupied. The furnishing of this new building came largely from the generosity of Mr. H. N. Russell and from a legacy left to the school by a Mr. Nathan Campbell of Kearney. As the expenses of living increased and the people were better able to pay, the price of tuition and board was gradually raised from one hundred and twenty dollars a year to two hundred and forty dollars. Mr. Russell remained in charge as long as I was bishop there and deserves great credit for the upbuilding of the school. The school became in every way a blessed success and a helpful adjunct to the Church's work in the District of Kearney and the neighboring dioceses. I would

Who Became a Bishop

also add that the little boy at Broken Bow was a free pupil in the school for several years, although he did not finally study for the ministry. Some other pupils of the school, however, are now in the ministry and others became teachers there and elsewhere.



REMAINED at home the winter of this year I teaching my youngest son, Paul, who was not well enough to attend school. Every Sunday I was supplying some vacant mission with services or assisting some of our over-worked clergy. From March 1st to July 1st I was constantly on the road making visitations. On June 11th I married my eldest daughter, Margaret, to Rev. G. G. Bennett, whom I had lately ordained to the priesthood. July and August I spent with my family at Mekenock, on Turtle Lake, Minnesota. In October, with my wife, I attended the General Convention in Richmond, Virginia. October 10th, by action of the House of Bishops, I was relieved of the charge of eastern Wyoming, which I had held for nine years. That state was then made into a separate missionary district and a bishop elected for it. This was a blessed relief to me, as all that work with my advancing age was too hard for me. At that convention, missionary bishops were elected for Nevada, eastern Oregon,

The Farmer Boy

western Colorado and Wyoming. The last of November I started with my wife to spend the winter in Key West, Florida. The work of this year is best summed up in the following extract from my report to the Board of Missions:
     "The last year has been a prosperous one for our Missionary District. We have raised more money for Church extension and for our missions than in any previous year and ten per cent more candidates for confirmation have been presented than in any one year before. We have been troubled as heretofore for lack of clergymen, but those in the field have made extra efforts to reach all stations. We have some good examples of successful intensive work in the larger places, but the missionary having the largest number of stations has presented the largest number for confirmation. A large per cent of those presented in the small stations are adults in middle life, people much more difficult to reach than children from our Sunday schools. This shows the character of our work and that if we neglect the smaller places and the country stations to concentrate our efforts on the larger places, as the policy of some is, we shall neglect the Church's best opportunities. The fact is that we have few large places and if we confined our efforts to them we should accomplish little in a district like ours.
     We have built two new churches the last year, both to replace former cheap chapels and are laying foundations for two more for a similar purpose. There is debt against only one church building in all our district. We have built an additional building for our boys' school at a cost of fifty thousand dollars. Many places

Who Became a Bishop

have made permanent improvements in their churches. In many respects the outlook is more promising than ever before.
     During the year I have visited all our stations where we have no regular services. In some of these I had confirmation and made arrangements for regular services. There has been considerable immigration into Wyoming and still more into western Nebraska. The price of land has doubled in the last three years. Hardly any of the immigrants are Church people, but their coming gives us more people to work among and they increase the general prosperity. Only a small proportion of those coming from farms farther east are even nominal Christians of any kind. In some respects, they are more difficult to reach than heathen people. Still we welcome their coming and are better able to interest some of them than could be done in their old homes.


     Some four or five years ago I sent a missionary to the little village of Gillette, Wyoming, to spy out the land. He reported that there were not only no Church people there, but none who cared for Christian services of any kind. Cowboys and saloonkeepers ran the town. Last spring I received a letter from a clergyman in Illinois, saying that a Church lady from Gillette was visiting there who named several Church people in Gillette who desired the services of the Church. I immediately wrote to Gillette asking for particulars and received an encouraging reply. Although the place was six hundred mites from my home and my appointments were out for that part of my field, I arranged to stop off five or six hours between trains. On arriv-

The Farmer Boy

ing there a month later I was met at the station by the leading physician and taken at once to his home. His wife, an earnest Church woman, told me that there were some baptisms and several anxious to be confirmed. She took me at once to call on the parties. Two hours after my arrival I lectured on baptism and administered that sacrament to two adults and three children. In the evening forty-five came to the service in the Baptist church. I preached and confirmed five persons, giving them particular instructions. I then arranged to stop over between trains on my return a week later. At that time I baptized one adult and one child and administered communion to six persons, instructing them the best I could in the brief time allowed. They arranged to meet every Sunday afternoon for a lay-readers' service and singing of hymns. Since then the nearest missionary at Sheridan, one hundred miles away, has visited Gillette, instructing them more fully and giving them the communion. The Ladies' Guild, which I organized at first, has already a good fund started toward building a chapel. The secretary of the guild reports to me every few weeks. The enthusiasm of a new mission like that comes like a fresh breeze across the life of a missionary bishop.


     The Kearney Military Academy has had a year of blessed and successful work. We were obliged to decline some applications of pupils for lack of room to accommodate them. Between eighty and ninety boys have been in the school during the year. With our new fire-proof building now nearing completion, we shall be able to accommodate a hundred and fifty pupils and the prospects are that it will soon be full. Five of the

Who Became a Bishop

boys were confirmed during the year and all the boys have learned to take active and hearty part in the daily Prayer Book service. A young clergyman, a graduate of the school, is to be the resident chaplain and teacher in the school the coming year.



URING this winter, from December 1st to March 8th, I had charge of Holy Innocents' Mission, Key West, Florida, at the earnest request of Bishop Gray. With some assistance from a lay reader, I held three services and a Sunday school each Sunday. I made five hundred and fifty parochial calls, entered into the parish register a complete list of one hundred and eighty-three families, baptized thirty, prepared and confirmed a class of seventeen and found a clergyman to carry on the work. I also confirmed for Bishop Gray classes in three other churches of Key West. The work of a parish priest and parochial relations with the people were very pleasant and satisfactory after the many years of work as bishop. While doing this work, the mild climate enabled me to recover my strength, which the rigor of Nebraska winters had impaired of late years. On my return I was able to visit all my stations by the first of June. Just after the commencement exercises of our school, I started with my

The Farmer Boy

wife and daughter, Gertrude, for England, to attend the Pan-Anglican Congress and the Lambeth Conference.
     The congress was probably the largest and most remarkable missionary meeting ever held up to that time on this earth. Delegates from all parts of the world were there and meetings were held simultaneously in seven great halls in London. About a hundred different subjects were discussed and probably a thousand speeches made by experts and others most familiar with the various topics. We attended all we could of the meetings, which lasted ten days and were much interested and edified. Between the close of the Congress and the Lambeth Conference we attended several receptions given by Lord Elsmere, the Prince of Wales and the Lord Mayor of London. We then made a rapid trip to Oxford, Warwick and Kenilworth Castles and Stratford-on-Avon.
     The Lambeth Conference was held in Lambeth Palace, London, the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. There were two hundred and forty-three bishops. present from all parts of the world where English is spoken and from many other countries where we have missions among the heathen. The first session lasted a week, then, after a recess of two weeks, ten days longer. The more important subjects discussed were the following: A Revision of the English Prayer Book; Consecration of Native Bishops for Different Races; Policy of the Church in Regard to Divorces and Fam-

Who Became a Bishop

ily Relations; Social Reform; Increase of the Ministry; Intercommunion and Reunion with Old Catholics, Moravians, Eastern Orthodox Christians and the Various Protestant Churches; The Ministry of Healing; The Relation of the Church to Modern Science and Thought. The discussions were earnest and able and much good should result from the Conference.
     During the recess of two weeks, our party took a trip north through the Lake country of England, across Scotland and back by the great cathedrals in the east of England. Nearly every Sunday, while in England, I was out in different cities preaching missionary sermons for the Society for the Propogation of the Gospel. August 7th our party started for the continent, going through Belgium, up the Rhine, through northern Switzerland, to Vienna and the chief cities of Germany. I was taken sick at Dresden and was in bed a week. After that I started for home and arrived in Kearney October 4th. I found several of our mission stations vacant and spent the rest of the year giving them services and securing clergymen for them. The following is a partial summary of my annual report, sent to the Board of Missions:
     "As the General Convention relieved me of fifty thousand square miles in eastern Wyoming and twenty stations, our report will show a decline in statistics. Still our work has prospered and I have been able to visit many of the stations twice in consequence. Our greatest drawback is the continuous removal of our

The Farmer Boy

communicants and families. A number of our places have lost half their members by removal to other dioceses. Those who come in to take their places are rarely ever members of our Church, as they come from dioceses where our Church is very weak. I have confirmed in our District about twice as many communicants as we have to-day and nearly ten times as many as we had when I began my work as bishop. Our people seem to be less contented with life in the country and small hamlets than members of the denominations. Still we can show good progress made all along the line. We often hear of those who have left us doing good work in city parishes or helping to establish missions on the Pacific slope. We have opened some new missions in places where we could not get an opening before and are building two or three new churches. All the groups of missions have been cared for during the year except one and that is supplied at present.
     "The Kearney Military Academy has had a year of good progress. At Christmas we entered our new building. The average attendance has been one hundred and eight boys with some more enrolled. For the first time we have had a resident chaplain and, the services in the new chapel have been inspiring. Less than half the boys on entering are familiar with our services, but all soon take a hearty part in the responses. A voluntary Bible class has been maintained and eight boys well prepared were presented for confirmation. From twenty to thirty receive the communion each Sunday. Only the income from the endowment is used and the outlook is very bright. The Head Master, Mr. H. N. Russell, has made a splendid record and his life seems wrapped up in the school.

Who Became a Bishop



REMAINED at home most of the winter and I held services on Sundays in some of the vacant missions. Early in February I attended in Lincoln, Nebraska, a meeting for the Federation of Churches. A tentative organization was formed in which our delegates had no authority to unite or act for the Church. The discussions were most brotherly in spirit and good words were spoken in favor of church unity. From there I went on to New York to attend a meeting of the House of Bishops. At that meeting missionary bishops were elected for Wyoming and western Colorado. While in the east, I visited a few friends of our work in New York, New Haven and Cleveland. Before the end of the month I was back in Nebraska and began my spring visitations. These kept me constantly on the road until the middle of June. By that time I was worn out, so that for the next two months I was much of the time in bed, dictating letters to my daughter. I also prepared my annual address to our convocation and my report to the Board of Missions. In August I visited some places in the Black Hills for confirmation, at the request of Bishop Hare, who was then on his death-bed at Atlantic City. In September I spent four weeks with my old friend, Rev. C. H.

The Farmer Boy

Plummer, D.D., in Minnesota, camping most of the time on Turtle Island.
     After attending the Missionary Conference of the Sixth Department at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in October, I visited for the second time the stations and work of George G. Ware. In the northwestern part of Nebraska is a large district, known as the "Sand Hill Country." It is about two hundred miles from east to west and about one hundred miles north and south. It is a succession of hills and valleys. Some of the hills are four hundred feet in height, but most of them are much less. Between these hills running in every direction are low valleys. In some of these valleys are shallow lakes. In these valleys the wild grass is cut for hay. The hills are green for about four months of the year and are reddish brown the rest of the time. Everywhere through this sand hill country are ranchmen who keep large herds of cattle. The ranch houses are from five to eight miles apart. There are several branches of railroad running into the edge of this country which carry the cattle to market in the fall. One railroad, the Burlington, runs through the middle of this country the whole length from east to west. Along this railroad about every twenty-five miles are little hamlets with from fifty to one hundred inhabitants. There are generally two or three large stores in these hamlets which supply the ranchmen for forty miles each side of the railroad. In some of these hamlets there

Who Became a Bishop

is a Methodist chapel with occasional services and in others there are rarely any religious services.
     The winter before this I heard of a man who had been a clergyman living on a ranch a few miles from Mullen in the very center of this sand hill country. Some two or three years before this he had become involved in land trouble with the United States Government largely through the fault of others. On this account he had asked to be deposed from the ministry by Bishop Hare. The people of Mullen had asked him to bury their dead and give them services. He wrote to me for a lay-reader's license, which I gladly gave him, with permission to exhort. He went to work in Mullen and in the country school-houses for thirty miles around. In May of this same year I visited his central station at Mullen. As the first fruits of his work, I baptized ten, confirmed twenty-five and gave communion to twenty-eight. I was not able to visit his field again until the following October.
     On the evening of the fifteenth of that month. Mr. Ware met me as I alighted from the train at the little town of Seneca, in the heart of the sand hills. The next morning being Sunday, we drove eight miles north to a ranchman's house, where I baptized one adult and seven children. After instruction I confirmed the father and mother of the family. We then drove on four miles farther to Miller's ranch, where I baptized five adults and two children. I then gave an instruction and confirmed six adults. We took dinner there and

The Farmer Boy

then drove two miles to a school-house known as Jimtown, but eight miles from any town. There I preached and baptized two adults and five children. After an extended instruction I confirmed fifteen and addressed them on the duties of the Christian life. We then drove a couple of miles farther to Ricker's ranch where we spent the night.
     The next morning I baptized a child there and then we drove eighteen miles against a cold wind to the little town of Mullen on the railroad. That evening we had eighty people in the public hall, that being two-thirds the inhabitants of the town. I baptized a school teacher, preached and confirmed seven adults. The next morning I confirmed one more in the hall and administered the communion to twenty-four. We then held a business meeting with the congregation and decided to build a church or rectory. In the afternoon we looked with the committee at several sites for the church and decided on one which was offered as a gift. On the seventeenth we drove seven miles to Perkin's ranch and confirmed Mr. Perkins and his son. After lunch there we drove several miles to L. C. Smith school-house where we had a congregation of twenty-five which more than filled the little building. After preaching I baptized three adults and seventeen children, confirmed twelve and addressed them. We then drove four miles to Mr. Ware's home on a ranch, where we spent the night.
     The following day we drove to Faut's ranch, where

Who Became a Bishop

I baptized four adults, gave an instruction and confirmed nine. After lunch there we drove to Mr. Silbaugh's house, where I baptized six children and confirmed Mrs. Silbaugh. We then returned to Mr. Ware's home, having driven twenty miles that day.
     On the twenty-second of October we drove fifteen miles to Mahaffey's ranch and in the evening confirmed Mr. Mahaffey. There we spent the night. The next day we drove to Phillip's ranch, where I baptized two adults and two children and confirmed Mr. and Mrs. Phillips. After lunch there we drove on to Gragg's ranch, seventeen miles in all, where we spent the might.
     October 24th being Sunday, we held service in Eclipse school-house, where I preached to fifteen people and returned to Gragg's ranch. In the evening I confirmed Mr. and Mrs. Gragg and their son. On Monday I was taken to Carey's ranch, to rest and hunt ducks. On Tuesday afternoon I returned to Eclipse Post Office and held service with Mr. Ware in a private house. I gave an instruction, baptized six adults and two children and confirmed seven. After another day of rest and hunting at Quinn's ranch, we drove ten miles to Huffman's ranch. There I confirmed Mr. Huffman and his son. On Saturday we drove eighteen miles to Stoddard's ranch, near a post office, called Lena. On Sunday, October 31st, I made two addresses in the ranch-house, baptized, three adults and three children and confirmed four. In the

The Farmer Boy

afternoon I preached to twenty-six in the hall at Lena, after which we drove twenty miles, facing a cold north wind to Gragg's ranch. This night, as on several other occasions, Mr. Ware slept on the floor with the carriage robes above and below him. The night before both Mr. and Mrs. Ware slept on a load of hay in a barnyard. Mrs. Ware was with us on most of the trip and did her full share of the work in personal talks with the candidates for baptism and confirmation. The next and last day we drove twenty-eight miles to Mullen, where I conferred again with the building committee and took the night train toward home. During the sixteen days we had driven over two hundred miles, held nineteen separate services, not one of them in a church building, delivered seventeen extempore sermons, baptized seventy-two, mostly adults, and confirmed seventy-four. That made ninety-nine confirmations in Mr. Ware's field within six months. A year before there were not half a dozen Church people in his district and very few Christians of any kind.



S MY health had not been good for four years, I was afraid to spend another winter in the cold and storms of Nebraska. I, therefore, made arrangements to spend the winter in southern California. With

Who Became a Bishop

my wife and daughter, Gertrude, we arrived in San Diego December 1st, 1909. At the earnest request of Bishop Johnson, I took temporary care of All Saints' Mission parish, whose rector had broken down in health. While the work was very interesting, it proved rather too hard for me, so that for the three months I was not very well. Still I carried it on until the last of March, when I returned to my own Missionary District. Although not feeling strong, I began my spring visitations the first of April and kept steadily at them until the first of July. Extra strength seemed to be given me for this work. It was my habit to call on all our people in the smaller towns, administer the holy communion, preach, confirm any candidates that were ready and make a special address to them, also address the Sunday school where we had one. There were about twenty-five miles ride on the train each day or night and many letters to answer all the time. The missionaries all reported to me at the end of each month and I sent them a check for the balance due on their salary. In this way, I kept in close touch with all the work and the workers.
     I ended up my visitations the last of June by visiting again the stations in the sand hills in the care of Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Ware. This time I took my daughter, Gertrude, to add interest to the services by her singing. She sung as solos several of the most effective Gospel Hymns. Mrs. Ware played the cottage organs and Miss Ware accompanied with the violin. We were

The Farmer Boy

sixteen days on the trip driving every day and holding about twenty services in the schoolhouses, public halls and private houses. In a little over a year I confirmed in Mr. Ware's field about one hundred and thirty, nearly all adults, and baptized about the same number. During the same time, we built a church building at Mullen and a little rectory. This phenominal (sic) work among farmers and ranchmen shows what can be done by our Church among country people, where we go at it in the right way. This was a district practically without religious services of any kind, so there was no opposition to distract the people's minds. Mr. Ware, having been a ranchman, thoroughly understood the people he worked among. Mr. Ware planted, the Bishop watered and God gave the increase.
     During the rest of the summer, I gave services at several vacant places and went a number of times to places where we were building churches and a rectory. I did not get away for any vacation. I prepared my annual report to the Board of Missions and my address to our annual convocation. I felt conscious that this would be the last year of my work as Bishop of Kearney. Our convocation met at Holdrege, where my son-in-law, Rev. G. G. Bennett, was in charge on the seventh and eighth of September.
     I was able to report to the convocation that I had confirmed during the year two hundred and sixty-four persons; had secured and paid out for missionary work about three thousand dollars; that we had en-

Who Became a Bishop

dowment funds for different purposes to the value of sixty thousand three hundred and fifty-four dollars; that we had special funds for new churches to the amount of three thousand four hundred and sixty-seven dollars; that the Church school had prospered with nearly one hundred boys; that we had paid the General Board of Missions about one hundred dollars more than our apportionment; that we had opened up new work in several places; and that I should probably resign my work as Bishop of Kearney at the coming General Convention in October.
     Soon after the convocation, I sent off the following letter:

To the Presiding Bishop and the House of Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church:

     "I hereby tender my resignation of the Missionary Jurisdiction of Kearney, to take effect as soon as the Episcopal care of the District can be otherwise provided for.
     "The reasons which impel me to this action are as follows:
     "1st. 0n account of my advanced age, sixty-eight years, and the infirmities incident to that age making it difficult for me to do the full duties and endure the strain of a work like that in the District of Kearney.
     "2dly. On account of my health which has been failing for the last five years so that I have been seriously ill after most of my spring visitations.
     "3dly. Because of the difficulty of securing a mis-

The Farmer Boy

sionary bishop for such work in case of my becoming utterly incapacitated between the meetings of the General Convention.

"Bishop of Kearney."

     This letter was accompanied by a certificate from our family physician to the effect that if I kept on with my present strenuous duties I was likely to break down completely at any time, but that if I could be relieved I might live in comparative comfort for several years and be able to do some lighter work.
     On our way to the General Convention, to be held at Cincinnati, Ohio, Mrs. Graves and myself visited friends in Omaha and Cleveland. At Cleveland I attended all one day the convention of the colored clergy and workers of our Church in the United States. I was pleased with the zeal and orderly conduct of their business and with the marked ability shown by several of their clergy. Some of their laymen also were men of mark.
     At the General Convention we were entertained part of the time at the home of Mr. Albert W. Schell, who is a son in the family I lived with when in college and whose parents were my witnesses, or God-parents, at my baptism. The parents had long been dead, but I found the son prominent and active in Church work, as well as a successful business man of Cincinnati. The rest of the time we were entertained at the home of Mr. Henry Garlick, the father-in-law of one of my own clergymen, Rev. C. F. Chapman of North Platte.

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