son of Detroit, Michigan. Mr. Erickson held the office only one year. Upon his resignation Andrew D. Harmon of Wisconsin was selected to fill the office. He is at this time (1919) president of the college.



   The first Christian work done in Nebraska by the Presbyterian church was in hehalf (sic) of the Omaha and Pawnee Indians, and ante-



dates by twenty-one years the beginning of things among the English-speaking population. The Rev. John Dunbar began work among the Omahas at Bellevue in 1834, and the Rev. Edward Kinney among the Pawnees in 1846. The Rev. William Hamilton entered upon his life service of consecration to the welfare of the Omahas in 1853, and continued with quiet, patient, steadfast fiedelity (sic) for about fifty-four years, to the end of his long and useful life.
   In 1855 the Rev. Henry M. Giltner crossed the Missouri river with his bride at Nebraska City, and immediately began to lay the foundations of the English Presbyterian church in Nebraska, to be followed as the years have passed by about 450 other missionaries and pastors who have joined hands with him in extending this branch of the church throughout the length and breadth of the state.
   The first churches were connected with those in southwestern Iowa, and in presbyteries known as Council Bluffs, organized in 1856; Omaha, organized in 1858; Missouri River, organized in 1862; and Omaha, new school, organized in 1867.
   After the reunion of the old and new school assemblies in 1870, the presbyteries of Missouri River, old school, and Omaha, new school, were united, July 15, 1870, under the name of Missouri River. The territory covered by this presbytery included the entire state of Nebraska, together with Wyoming, Montana, and Utah. At a meeting of the Synod of Iowa South, October, 1872, the presbytery was divided into the three presbyteries of Council Bluffs, Omaha, and Nebraska City, the presbytery of Omaha including all the territory north of the Platte river, and the Presbytery of Nebraska City all the territory south of the Platte river. In 1873 the Presbytery of Kearney was constituted, including all the territory west of the east line of Nuckolls, Clay, Hamilton, Boone, and Antelope counties. These three presbyteries requested the general assembly of 1874 to separate them from the Synod of Iowa South, and erect them into the Synod of Nebraska, which request was granted; and the presbyteries met by their representatives in the First Church of Nebraska City the first Thursday in October, 1874. This session was opened with a sermon by the convener, the Venerable Rev. Naham Gould of the Presbytery of Kearney. There were thirty-one ministers and sixty-one churches on the rolls of the three presbyteries at that time. Of this number thirteen ministers were present, and six churches were represented by elders at this first meeting. The Rev. John T. Baird was chosen moderator and also stated clerk and treasurer, the latter office being held by him continuously to the present time. Of the thirteen ministers present at the meeting and of the thirty-one constituting the clerical portion of the synod at the time of its organization only two remain in connection with the synod,



J. T. Baird, D.D., and J. D. Kerr. The first pioneer, the Rev. Henry M. Giltner, D.D., has lived to see the state of his choice and the church of his love grow to their present large dimensions and promising outlook. For more than forty-seven years he has lived the life of a loyal citizen of the state and the faithful servant of the church; and just now, while this paper is being written, he, "having served his generation by the will of God" so long and well, has fallen asleep, April 7, 1903, at the good old age of seventy-five years, three months, and eight days.
  Thus began the organized life of the Synod of Nebraska, small in outward appearance, not boasting great things, yet not without cheering hopes for coming years. The condition of the people in worldly estate was not flattering, for most of them were only beginning to lay foundations for future homes; while in that very year they were visited with a drouth which largely diminished their expected harvests; and what they did raise was devastated by the hordes of grasshoppers which swept over the state like an invading army.
  In 1872 the Rev. Nelson C. Robertson was appointed by the board of home missions, under the title of synodical missionary, to superintend the mission work of the state, including the gathering and organizing of churches, and securing pastors and missionaries for the ever-increasing demands of the fields. He continued in this office, doing faithful and efficient work, tilt his lamented death in 1876.
  But the growth of existing churches and the organization of new ones was seriously impeded by drouth and the ravages of grasshoppers from 1874 to 1876. And when his successor, the Rev. James D. Kerr, came into office, July 1, 1876, he found but little opportunity to do more than care as best he could for the churches that were having a hard struggle to maintain life.
  The tide of immigration which had been increasing rapidly for a few years was checked, almost to the point of cessation, as the tidings of our impoverished condition spread throughout our eastern states, so that there was almost no opportunity for the gathering in of members and the organizing of new churches.
   But in the spring of 1878 the tide began to turn in our favor; so that when in that year the Rev. George L. Little began his work as synodical missionary he found the people pouring into Nebraska by tens of thousands; and a field of activity and usefulness



opening before him sufficient to stimulate to the utmost exertion in the effort to supply the immigrants with the means of grace and the constituted church.
  This was the period of most rapid growth in the number of churches organized, being nearly 100 during the five years of his service; while the outlook for the future was most encouraging, as is witnessed by the following words with which Mr. Little closed his last annual report to the synod:

  Our state is now having a most healthy growth. A constant stream of population is flowing out through every artery. We are receiving a very superior class of immigra-



tion, families of large means that come to stay, the young, the energetic, the enterprising from the older states, an American and Protestant element largely, with a vigorous sprinkling of foreign nationalities. There is activity in all the enterprises of the state, in the building of the railroads, in the founding of new towns, in the opening of farms, in the introduction and development of manufacturing industries. There is the hum, the stir, the push of an intense activity on every hand. Why should not the church of Christ be correspondingly active?

   The Rev. George T. Crissman succeeded to the office of synodical missionary in 1883, and served the synod three years in this capacity, during which time the names of forty-two new churches were added to the roster of the presbyteries.
   The Rev. Thomas L. Sexton, D.D., was elected synodical missionary in 1886, and has continued in the faithful discharge of his duties to the present time. The total number of churches organized during the years of his incumbency is 148. In one year only, 1895, were there no additions to the roll of churches; and this was due wholly to the fact that the board of home missions was compelled, by its straitened financial condition, to forbid any enlargement of the work. But while the superintendents of mission work have given their time and strength to the duties of their office, pastors all over the state have gone outside the bounds of their own parishes to look up the scattered sheep, and gather them together, and prepare the way for the formation of churches. Not afraid of extra toil, they have coöperated in the labor of seeking out and shepherding the hidden ones of God's flock, and so making possible the more rapid and extensive ingathering to the fold of the Shepherd of Israel.
   In addition to this form of pastoral mission service there has also been called into existence by the exigencies of the situation a class of workmen known as pastors-at-large. Their special work is to care for the smaller and feebler vacant churches in each presbytery; visiting them, preaching and administering the sacraments, and doing all in their power to make up for the lack of regular pastoral services. For the last ten years this work has been carried forward to the great advantage of the churches directly affected, as is witnessed by the following words from the pen of Dr. Sexton:

   In bringing the message of grace to our feeble churches, and thus keeping them alive, the self denying efforts of these brothers can not be too highly esteemed, nor too strongly emphasized. Without their timely aid in the general work of the church many of our feeble churches would have ceased to exist.

   Another group of laborers employed by the Presbyterian church in the development of her life is that of Sunday school missionaries, who give their entire time to the work of establishing and maintaining Sunday schools in communities which are for the most part without churches and destitute of all religious privileges. These men canvass such districts, visiting the homes of the people and their public schools, appealing to the parents in behalf of their children, awakening their interest toward the moral and spiritual side of life, inviting them to meet in their schoolhouses or their homes on the Sabbath day, and organizing them into schools with such local help as they can secure for officers and teachers, and supply them with religious literature which is provided by the board of publication and Sunday school work at Philadelphia. In many cases these little schools offer the only opportunities for religious instruction in the communities where they are established; and they become centers of moral and spiritual blessing, the value of which cannot be too highly estimated. And one evidence of this is seen in the fact that no less than thirty-four churches in this state have been organized as the direct fruits of these mission schools. The leader in this interesting and hopeful field of Christian effort is the Rev. James B. Currens, who for many years has been the superintendent of the work, and whose name deserves honorable mention in this connection. With a zeal that has never waned, and a patience that has never flagged, he has traveled all over the state through summer's heat and winter's cold, directing the work of those under his care, and himself



seeking out destitute regions, planting schools and encouraging local officers and teachers in their humble efforts to instruct the children and youth in the knowledge of the word of God.
   The three presbyteries with which the synod began her organized life in 1874 have multiplied into six as the years have gone by. The presbytery of Kearney was divided into two presbyteries in the year 1881; that part lying north of the Platte river retaining the name; and the territory south of the Platte being called the Presbytery of Hastings. But this division did not long suffice the growing needs of our Presbyterian household. The territory occupied by the presbyteries of Omaha and Kearney was too large for the convenience and comfort of its members, and as ministers and churches multiplied it was decided to readjust presbyterial lines, and add still another name to the synodical roll. This change was ordered at the meeting of synod in 1884; and the next year the good mother entered upon the birth-roster of her children that most euphonious and beautiful of all her family names, Niobrara.
   And still the good work went on, new churches being organized, and other missionaries heeding the Macedonian cry, despite all the hindrances caused by recurring periods of



loss of crops and financial depression, till the year 1893, when the synod ordered the erection of another presbytery in the northwestern part of the state, and which was enrolled the following year by the name of Box Butte, with a constituency of six ministers and seventeen churches.
   The Presbyterian church has always and everywhere been the friend and advocate of thorough and liberal Christian education. Many of the most useful institutions of learning in the United States have been founded and maintained by this branch of the church. Recognizing the fact that learning without moral character is only a larger equipment for evil, and that good education and true religion must join hands to secure the best citizenship, this church has ever been diligent according to her ability to provide Christian schools of all grades for her children and youth.
   This governing principle was clearly recognized by the men who laid the foundations of the Presbyterian church in Nebraska. At the first meeting of the synod, October, 1874, the subject was introduced by the representatives of the church at Hastings, and was earnestly discussed and heartily approved. But the synod was not able at that early date to take any direct action toward establishing a denominational school. But the purpose to do so



was firmly cherished in the hearts of all, and only waited the opportune time for its practical development. At the end of six years of growth in churches and financial resources it was believed that a beginning might be made; and at the meeting of the synod, October 16, 1880, it was determined to open such a school at Bellevue.
   The location was decided by the generous offer of Henry T. Clarke, then of Bellevue, now of Omaha, to give 264 acres of land adjoining Bellevue, and to erect a building on the summit of Elk Hill, which he subsequently did at a cost of $16,000. The college was opened for students in the fall of 1883 with two professors and sixteen students. The Rev. William W. Harsha, D.D., LL.D., became the first president, taking charge in 1884, and continuing till June, 1888. Rev. Francis S. Blayney, Ph.D., succeeded Dr. Harsha and served one year.
   Rev. David R. Kerr, Ph.D., D.D., was then chosen president, and continued in this capacity from January 2, 1890, to June, 1904, when he resigned. During all these years Dr. Kerr carried a load of anxious responsibility which would have crushed a less courageous and determined spirit; and to him chiefly are the college and its friends indebted for the steady enlargement of its plant and work in all directions. After the resignation of



Dr. Kerr, the vice-president, Rev. Robert M. Stevenson, D.D., became acting president until the election of the present president, Guy W. Wadsworth, D.D., who entered upon his duties September 1, 1905.
   The location of the college is "beautiful for situation, commanding an extended view of river and bluffs, hills and plateau, such as can rarely be seen in any part of our country. To the one building which crowned the hill when Dr. Kerr began his work there have been added five others, used for president's house and dormitories, and all well adapted to the purposes of their erection. The library contains 4,500 books and 3,000 pamphlets; and 110 papers, magazines, and other periodicals are regularly received. The laboratories are well equipped for the work of that department. Athletic fields and gymnasium provide ample accommodations for healthful recreation. The Bible is taught regularly and systematically, and is fundamental in the whole course of instruction. Young men's and young women's Christian associations and literary societies are maintained. It is the constant aim of the faculty to attain a high standard of instruction and scholarship and at the same time to cultivate and develop the moral and spiritual side of the student life. The attendance has steadily increased till the present year, which shows an enrollment of 180. The ma-



terial resources, including lands, buildings, library, apparatus, aggregate about $120,000.
   But the people of Hastings, who had taken the initiative in this matter at the first meeting of the synod, felt that they must have an institution of their own, being so far distant from Bellevue, and having so large a territory that would naturally be tributary to them. Hence the Presbytery of Kearney, covering at that time all the western portion of the state, on September 2, 1881, took steps toward organizing a presbyterial academy at Hastings. At the next meeting of the synod this action was approved, and the coming institution commended to the confidence and support of the churches.
   The first board of trusteees (sic) incorporated the institution as Hastings College, May 10, 1882, and secured an initial subscription of $10,000. The educational work began September 13, 1882, and has continued without interruption to the present time. The number of students who have graduated is eighty-four, while hundreds of others have enjoyed the advantages of a partial course.
   Two college buildings have been erected: McCormick Hall in 1883, at a cost of $13,000, and Ringland Hall in 1884, at a cost of $20,000. These buildings stand in a beautiful campus of twenty-three acres; and there is additional equipment in lands and money to the amount of $18,000, and a library of 3,500 volumes. The president is the Rev. E. Van Dyke Wight, who is giving most faithful and efficient service to the institution. The college occupies a very advantageous position, and appeals with hope and confidence to the sympathy and support of all friends of higher Christian education.
   With the growth of population and the increase in the number of churches there was great difficulty in securing a sufficient number of ministers to supply the churches. None of the theological seminaries of the church were nearer than Cincinnati and Chicago. This suggested to some of those most interested the thought of establishing a seminary within our own bounds, where graduates of Bellevue and Hastings colleges and other young men could qualify themselves for the work of the ministry, and be ready to supply vacant pulpits and enlarge the mission work in this and adjoining states. The initiative was taken at a meeting held in the First Presbyterian Church of Omaha, February 17, 1891, where the local ministers and others from a distance, and laymen to the number of about forty, discussed the subject, and decided to move forward at once ;toward the establishment of such an institution. A board of directors was chosen, who, meeting in April, 1891, adopted a constitution, and determined to open the seminary in Omaha, September, 1891. A faculty was chosen, and their action reported to the general assembly, May, 1891. Nine classes have graduated, including sixty-seven students, and about forty others have taken partial courses. A beautiful and commodious building was erected in 1902 on a large plot of ground in a desirable location with ample room for professors' house and others as needed. A good library of 5,000 volumes is now on hand, while a total property, worth about $100,000, represents the accumulations of the past twelve years. The president of this institution is the Rev. Matthew B. Lowrie, D.D., who, by his energetic devotion to the work, has been chiefly instrumental in obtaining the funds necessary for current expenses and the sum already secured toward permanent endowment.
   Thus has the Presbyterian church in Nebraska tried to do her part toward educating her sons and daughters for the duties and responsibilities of life, and to qualify men to teach and lead others in the ways of righteousness.
   In face of all the difficulties and hindrances incident to the development of a new country, arising from limited means, loss of crops, and financial stringency, the churches have multiplied in numbers, increased in strength, and grown into a large and controlling influence in society. For this growth they are largely indebted to the timely and necessary aid of the two boards of home missions and church erection, which have always extended a liberal hand, and made possible that degree of devel-



opment which could not otherwise have been realized. The latest reports from the six presbyteries, April 1, 1903, show a total enrolment (sic) of 161 ministers, 223 churches, and 17,753 members. The Sunday school enrolment (sic) is 21,334.
   During the year ending April 1, 1903, the churches of the state gave through the eight boards of the church and miscellaneous benevolences the sum of $31,950, and for local self support $175,766, making a total for all Christian purposes of $207,716.
   A paper of this character would be incomplete which failed to recognize the faithful and efficient help given by the officers and members of the churches in their different relations and responsibilities. The ruling elders in the Presbyterian church are a body of men chosen by the members to lead and direct in the spiritual affairs of each church; and together with the pastor constitute the session of the church. They are chosen for a term of years, or for life, as each church may determine.
   The Nebraska churches have been favored with many good and faithful men in this honorable position; men who have reflected credit upon themselves and their office, and whose names might well be recorded in this paper did space permit. The senior elder in this goodly company is Mr. William Buchanan of the Nebraska City church, who was ordained in 1856, and has served continuously to the, present time, a period of about forty-seven years.
   Along with this group of men must be mentioned the "honorable women not a few" who have organized and sustained the aid and missionary societies of the churches. Very much of the financial support of the local churches has been contributed by the labors of the aid societies, while the missionary societies have raised large sums of money for the extension of the church of Christ at home and abroad tinder the direction of the boards of home and foreign missions.
   The first woman to be named in this connection was Mrs. Henry M. Giltner, the wife of the first Presbyterian missionary to the English-speaking people of the state. As they drew near to Nebraska, traveling in their own buggy over the unbroken prairies of western Iowa, both were taken sick and detained for several weeks. Disheartened by this experience the husband said, "I believe I have not heard the Lord aright. He wants us to go to some other place, and has intercepted us by these sicknesses. Shall we not go back?" The brave bride, on her wedding tour, replied, "No, I propose that we go over and possess the land." Long years after that husband said of her, "I want to tell you how much I prized that strong one by my side, and how much the beginning of our church work in Nebraska is indebted to her. Without her quiet yet brave help I had never succeeded."
   The spirit of this young missionary bride found practical expression many years after in the organization of the first missionary society in the state by fifteen ladies of the church in Nebraska City which was planted by Mr. and Mrs. Giltner in 1855. They met in the home of that noble woman, Mrs. Judge Kinney, August 15, 1872, and elected as their first officers Mrs. Judge Kinney, president, and Mrs. J. D. Kerr, secretary and treasurer; and the first year contributed $26 to missions. A second similar society was organized in the First Church, Omaha, December, 1875, with Mrs. J. R. Meredith, president and Mrs. O. N. Ramsey, secretary. These two societies met by their representatives in the First Church, Omaha, October 21, 1876, and organized the synodical society with sixty charter members. Mrs. Mary K. Robinson, widow of the first synodical missionary, Rev. N. C. Robinson, was chosen president, and Mrs. O. N. Ramsey, secretary. Through the faithful labors of these and other consecrated women, local and presbyterial societies were organized till almost every church in the state was represented in the synodical society. At the end of eight years Mrs. Robinson retired from the leadership; and Mrs. P. L. Perine of Omaha succeeded her and held office for a like period of eight years. And hers is the one name that has remained conspicuous on the roll of officers and active embers from the day of or-



ganization to the present time; "whose impress and influence have been component parts of the conception and growth of every department of the work."
   The total amount of money raised by the women's societies alone is nearly $70,000. At the request of the managers of the Columbian Exposition in 1892 a bronze tablet bearing a missionary design indicating the aim and object of the societies was prepared and placed in the Woman's Building at Chicago, and is now in the custody of the State Historical Society at Lincoln.
   The young people of the Presbyterian churches of the state are organized into Sunday schools, mission bands, and senior and junior Christian Endeavor societies, having for their objects the higher development of personal character, and the raising of funds for local use and for missionary purposes. They aid the women's societies liberally in supporting various missionaries, both in our own and foreign lands. This early training of the young in the precepts and principles of the word of God, and in the practical application of these precepts in Christian benevolence is of immense value to the youth themselves, and gives hope for the future of the churches which must soon be left to their care and love.
   In closing this paper let it be stated that while the Presbyterian church holds a distinct system of truth which she proclaims, and a definite form of government under which she operates, she is none the less in full sympathy with all other branches of the evangelical church, and stands ever ready to coöperate heartily in all efforts for the instruction of the people in the teachings of divine revelation and the extension of the kingdom of righteousness in the world.
   Since the above narrative was written, the author, the Rev. James Dinsmore Kerr, D.D., has passed from earth to his heavenly reward. He died at Lincoln, Neb., on Sabbath, February 18, 1906, and was buried from the Second Presbyterian Church of Omaha on Tuesday afternoon, February 20, the Rev. J. T. Baird of Plattsmouth, Neb., preaching the sermon, assisted by Rev. N. H. Burdick and the Rev. T. V. Moore, D.D., in the presence of numerous clergy and loving friends, who highly esteemed Dr. Kerr for his many virtues.
   I have examined the history as compiled by Dr. Kerr, and believe it to be authentic and correct as possible in the limited space alloted for such an historic account of Presbyterianism in Nebraska.
SpacerAttest: ROBERT L. WHEELER, D.D.
Dated South Omaha, March 26, 1906.


   Hastings College was organized in 1873 by pioneer Presbyterian missionaries. Kearney Presbytery, in November of that year, passed an overture to be presented to Synod to be organized by the General Assembly in 1874, A board of directors was elected and subscription; received for the founding of the institution. When Synod was organized in 1874, it received the overture from Kearney Presbytery, and made the "promise to consider the claims of Hastings as first in the event of Synod founding a college." The crop failures and adverse financial conditions delayed the actual work of the college, but a keen interest was maintained until the college was opened for the work of instruction in September, 1882. Rev. W. F. Ringland, D.D., was made president of the college in that year. In accordance with the promise of 1874, Synod adopted the college in 1884.
   Cyrus McCormick gave $5,000 for the erection of the building bearing his name, which was completed in 1884. Total cost of this building was $14,703, and it has been in constant use for general college purposes until the present time. Ringland Hall was erected in 1985, and has been used for recitation rooms, business offices and a men's dormitory. The dormitory for young women, which was completed in 1907, is called Alexander Hall, in honor of Samuel Alexander, for many years a trustee and an active supporter of the institution. A building for science and library purposes, for which the sum of $20,000 was given by Mr. Carnegie, was completed in 1909. Since then the Johnson Gymnasium and Do-

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