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Rev. Chas. H. Frady


Fifty Years Gospel Giving on the Frontier

The Story of Chaplain C. H. Frady

A Homesteader in Pierce County
A Member of the Nebraska Legislature
A Framer of the Nebraska Constitution

Thrilling Tales of Hardship, Adventure, Danger, and Good Will to Man.

My Commission as Sunday School Missionary.

In compliance to the request of the Nebraska State Historical Society for publication, I submit the following Record of my twenty-five years (1881-1905) frontier missionary work, under the Commission of the American Sunday-School Union, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Said Union was organized in 1817 under the name of the Philadelphia and Adult Sunday-School Union, and the name was changed to American Sunday-School Union in 1824. It was incorporated by an act of the Legislature of the State of Pennsylvania on April 15, 1845. The charter officers were: Alexander Henry, Charles Chauncey, Wm. H. Richards, Ambrose White, Thomas Fleming, Herman Cope, Frederick W. Porter and Frederick A. Packard. Section II of the Articles of Incorporation announces, "The object of this corporation is to establish and maintain Sunday schools, and to publish and circulate moral and religious publications."

While residing at Bazile Mills, Nebraska, I received by mail my commission from the Society, dated April 1, 1881:


Confiding in your professed attachment to the interests of the Saviour's kingdom, and in your desire to promote those interests by gathering into schools for religious instruction on the Lord's-day, the children and youth of the land who have no other and better means of being taught, the Committee on Missions has recommended you to the Board of Officers and Managers as one of our Missionaries, and the Board has appointed you to that service for North Nebraska from date, and this is your


You have received a brief manual in which the work and duties of a Missionary are particularly set forth, and by accepting this Commission, we regard you as pledging yourself to a cheerful and faithful compliance with those instructions, and with such further directions as the Committee may give from time to time. Your attention is especially directed to the importance of forwarding, on the twentieth day of each month, the Missionary letters, and on the last day of the month the Report and Statement, as required by the official instructions above mentioned. The Commission will be renewed if mutually desired, or it may be cancelled at any time at the discretion of the Board.

The object of the work in which we are engaged is to lay deep and secure the foundations of our religious and civil institutions, and whoever labors in it, in the habitual exercise of faith in the promises of God, with earnest prayer for his blessing, may believe that he is promoting the Redeemer's kingdom, and that he will not fail of his reward.

To the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we commend you, with the prayer that your labors may be crowned with abundant success.

By order of the Board of Officers and Managers,

L. Milton Marsh,
                         Secretary of Missions.


Beginning the Work.

On May the first I began the work under the direction of Mr. F. G. Ensign of Chicago, Superintendent of the Northwest District, including the states of Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana.

In the work I kept pace with the advancement of the railroads and new settlements not only in northern and western Nebraska, but also in the Black Hills and counties of South Dakota, and the states of Wyoming and Montana; having on the field twelve tribes of Indians to whom I gave much attention and Christian effort.

Many of the Sunday schools were organized in private homes, and the sessions were held at different places in the community. The Sunday school at Long Pine, Nebraska, was organized in a railroad boxcar. At another point the shade of a large tree was the meeting place and logs were used for seats. One community I helped to build a sod schoolhouse, on Saturday, organized a Sunday school next day, and on Monday following a day school was commenced.

Experiences of Pioneer Missionary.

At Oelrichs, South Dakota a saloon was opened for the people to gather in, then a Sunday school was organized, but the sessions of the school were held in the hotel. Hotels in several villages were opened for Sunday school purposes. At Chadron, Buffalo Gap and at other places schools were organized and held in tents; whatever the conditions were we found a way and place to establish the schools. In most instances the Missionary was welcomed and had the cooperation of the settlers.

But in some places it required pluck and perseverence. At Chadron, two or three days after the North Western Railroad had built to the place, the cowboys recognized a minister among the passengers arriving at the station. They surrounded the reverend, shot off his high silk hat, which so frightened him that he took the returning train; before leaving the cowboys gave him sufficient money to


buy another hat, advising him thereafter, if coming west to be a little more "Wild and Woolly".

Early Days in Chadron.

The next morning following the affair, by train I reached Chadron. It was a cold morning and a bonfire was blazing in the open. Standing at the fire I noticed a single file of cowboys on horseback, who had been informed of my presence, who on high lope came my way yelling like wild Indians and shooting bullets hitting close to my legs and into the fire.

I cheered them on and finally asked one of their number what he would take for the spotted pony which he was riding. The bunch gathered around me. Then I said to them I would hold a meeting at ten o'clock in the commons and I wanted every one of them there. They rode away.

With the help of two persons word of the meeting was given to all in the tent-town. At the appointed hour and place most every person in town gathered, likewise the cowboys. I addressed the assembly and at the close organized a Sunday school. When it came to the question of financing the school, I said to the cowboys, "This morning you had your fun, then you passed the "buck" to me. The game is still on, it is a dollar ante, every mother's son of you is expected to chip in". I wish to say that each ranger did and $50.00 were planted on the table to purchase the necessary supplies for the school.

Incidents at Bonesteel, S. D.

At Bonesteel, Gregory County, South Dakota soon after the village started, I learned how some cowboys and half-breed Indians had intimidated a blind preacher who had undertaken to hold a religious service for the place, using a dance bowery for the meeting place.


The editor of this magazine was first in Chadron in 1886. I lived in Chadron from 1888 to 1897. It is fair to Chadron to say that in these years of constant contact with all kinds of population there, in the business of gathering news for my newspaper, I never heard from any one this story of the cowboys shooting off a silk hat for a preacher in Chadron. It might be that it was done, but the story is one common to the frontier and before I would accept it from Chaplain Frady I should wish to know that he saw the act.


Picture or sketch

The Texas Saloon, Bonesteel, S. D. Land Rush 1904. Photo by A. B. Sheldon.

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© 2004 for the NEGenWeb Project by Ted & Carole Miller