1887. It is an accredited institution of learning, having a beautiful location, good brick buildings, full faculty, adequate equipment, coeducational, classical, literary, and select courses. While this college is not in the territory of Nebraska, yet the Nebraska Synod has been active in its maintenance. It has been liberally aided by the gifts of the Nebraska congregations, and a large part of its student body has come from the same.
   The Western Theological Seminary has existed with the college since its establishment in 1895. For a long time the two institutions occupied the same building. In the course of time the commodious home of ex-Senator J. J. Ingalls, adjoining the campus, was purchased. Since then the Western Seminary has occupied that building. Quite a large proportion of the ministers in the western field have received their training, in whole or in part, at Midland College and the Western Theological Seminary. The two are working together in harmony, in the great cause of Christian education. They are preparing many young persons, not alone for the ministry, but for other useful vocations.1


   This home is located at Lincoln and is the only Lutheran institution of the General Synod in the state. Its purpose is to furnish a home for orphans and dependent aged. The founder was the Rev. Henry Heiner. In 1886 he began a work that developed into a large institution. For eighteen years he was its superintendent. He maintained during this time a private home under a board of directors. Its support came by donations from the benevolently inclined, mostly in small amounts from many people. When Mr. Heiner left the home, November 1, 1905, he had collected and expended in the work $161,740.48, and had cared for 833 aged and infirm people, 1131 orphan children, making a total of 1964 inmates; a great work in a short time. He left three buildings on the grounds, the largest of which contains ninety rooms. These great results were accomplished in the face of difficulties that would have baffled many other men.
   In November, 1905, the institution was turned over to a new board of which Rev. S. Z. Batten was president, and soon after it went into the hands of another board with Rev. C. Rollin Sherck as president. Through the efforts of President Scherck, and with the consent of the original founder, it was taken over by a board of directors, with representatives from the Nebraska Synod, the German Nebraska Synod, the Kansas Synod, and the Wartburg Synod of Illinois, November 20, 1906. The next year, the General Synod, in its convention at Sunbury, Pennsylvania, adopted it as one of its charitable institutions. Since then it has been maintained by the Lutheran church, and is doing a great work in caring for helpless orphans and dependent aged people. Rev. E. Walter is the superintendent.
   The Nebraska Synod has taken a large part in the support of this home. Being located upon the territory of the Nebraska Synod, and the benefits coming largely to this state, the general feeling is that they should take an active part in its maintenance.


   The Nebraska Synod is now a part of the United Lutheran Church in America. This body was formed by the union of three general bodies of the Lutheran church-the General Synod, the General Council, and the United Synod of the South. The organization of this larger body was brought to completion in New York City, November 14, 1918. The three uniting bodies will retain their organizations until property interests and other matters can be legally adjusted, and then they will go out of existence, and the United Lutheran church will be the general body of all. This union brings into one organization nearly 800,000 confirmed Lutherans, and more than a million baptized members.


   The Lutherans of Nebraska, and particularly those of the Nebraska Synod, were not

   1 Since the above was written, the college and seminary have removed to Fremont, Nebraska.



lacking in patriotic activities during the conflict now happily ended. She has contributed thousands of her dollars to all war finances -- liberty bonds, war savings stamps, Red Cross, and Y.M.C.A. She has been liberal in the help of those made destitute on account of the war. Many of her sons went to the front, and many "paid the last full measure of devotion." The Lutheran church boasts of having had a larger number of boys in the service, in proportion to the size of her membership, than any other religious denomination.
   The national Lutheran commission for soldiers' and sailors' welfare, in which all synods and all nationalities of the church took a part, was organized. This organization was asked for $750,000 to be applied to the benefit of the boys in the service. The Lutherans in this country responded with more than $1,300,000. The churches in Nebraska were asked for $18,000. They responded with $29,883.84.
   The General Synod branch of the Lutheran church is by no means the largest part of the denomination. The Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians have their synods. The Missouri Synod, mostly German, is much the largest body. The joint Synod of Ohio and the German Iowa Synod have churches in Nebraska.
   The statistics of the Lutheran church in Nebraska, including all languages and all synods are, 476 ministers, 579 congregations, 64,221 members, 2 theological seminaries, 1 college, 6 academies, 4 orphanages, 2 homes for the aged, 1 deaconess home, 3 hospitals, and 1 home finding society.



   The 3d of June, 1854, is the date of the first official act by which-the Methodist Episcopal church recognized and provided for the religious needs of the people of Nebraska; but as early as April 21, 1850, Rev. Harrison Pesson, who is still living at the advanced age of eighty-nine, and is now a superannuated member of the Nebraska conference, says that when passing through Nebraska with a colony of emigrants on their way to the Pacific coast, they camped over the Sabbath on the site where Omaha now stands, and he preached from Isa. 35:1.
   Dr. H. T. Davis in his book, Solitary Places Made Glad, says that a Methodist preacher by the name of Wm. Simpson preached on the site of Omaha as early as 1851.
   Mrs. John W. Barnes (since deceased), in a letter to the writer says that her father,



Rev. W. D. Gage, preached a sermon at old Fort Kearney (now Nebraska City), in January, 1853. But these all antedated the permanent settlement of the country, the hearers in each case being passing emigrants or transient settlers.
   The event that makes the 3d of June the proper beginning of Nebraska Methodism was the appointment by Bishop Ames of Rev. W. H. Goode, D.D., to visit the territory, ascertain by personal observation the actual religious needs of the people, and to report to the bishops. This was four days after the Kansas-Nebraska bill, providing for the or-



ganization of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, became a law, and twenty-three days prior to the proclamation of the President declaring the Indian title extinguished and the country open for white settlement. Thus we see that the religious wants of the people were really anticipated by thus early appointing one of the wisest and strongest men of the church to perform this preliminary work. And the fact that this same Dr. Goode, after making his report of the preliminary observations, was immediately appointed superintendent of missions in this territory was a guaranty that the religious needs of the settlers would be met as fast as the settlements in the new territory should de-



First Methodist Episcopal minister to deliver a sermon within the present boundaries of Nebraska.

mand. The promptness of this action on the part of the church authorities, and the character and spirit of the man appointed as the leader of the hosts, and the character and spirit of those who responded to his call for men to preach the Gospel in these frontier settlements, reveal those characteristic features of Methodism which led our great historian, Bancroft, to say:
   The Methodists were the pioneers of religion. The breath of liberty has wafted their message to the masses of the people; encouraged them to collect white and black in church or greensward for council in divine love and full assurance of faith, and carried their consolations and songs and prayers to the farthest cabins of the wilderness.
   The two features that have made the Methodist church preëminently the pioneer church are the authority of the bishops to draw on the entire church for a suitable man to be the leader, and the spirit of self-sacrifice and devotion on the part of the ministry to guarantee that a sufficient number would promptly respond to the call of this leader to amply supply the demands of the work.
   On his appointment as superintendent of missions in Kansas and Nebraska on the 15th of September, 1854, Dr. Goode at once returned to the field and began the difficult task of supplying the work both in Kansas and Nebraska, as fast as the settlement of the country demanded. This sketch will naturally be confined to that part of his work which relates to Nebraska.
   While the necessary brevity of this sketch of the nearly fifty years of Methodist history in Nebraska will make it impossible to even mention the name of many a worthy worker, it is fitting that not only the names of those who came during the first years should be noted, but that their character and the conditions under which they wrought should be portrayed in some detail.
   The first man on the ground and to receive a formal appointment to a charge was Rev. W. D. Gage, who at the Missouri Conference in October, 1854, was assigned to Nebraska City. It was the fortune of this hardy old pioneer to be the first in other things connected with the history of the state. Father Gage was the chaplain of the first Nebraska territorial legislature, Gage county being named after him in recognition of the fact. He also organized the first Methodist church in Nebraska, in 1855, at a point near Rock Bluffs, in Cass county, and was the first to lift the standard in other places.
   The next man to respond to the call was Isaac F. Collins, who, early in 1855, was assigned to Omaha. Little is known of this modest but faithful pioneer, excepting that he was a man of some culture, resigning the principalship of a seminary that he might take his place on the frontier and give two or three years of his life to the work of planting the church in the new soil of Nebraska, and was willing to serve, suffer, and sacrifice for the Master.
   In the same winter of 1855, David Hart was assigned to an unorganized field lying be-



tween the Nemahas. He was an Englishman, with the sturdy virtues of his race, and a preacher of more than ordinary ability, and for many years he rendered faithful and efficient service in important charges such as Omaha, Plattsmouth, and Beatrice.
   The fourth in the list of brave men who came to this hard field was Hiram Burch, who, after preaching some six months in Kansas and Missouri, was received on trial at the Iowa Conference in 1855, and appointed to Nebraska City. Brother Burch is among the very few of that devoted band of workers who joined the ranks during the '50s who are still living. He is at present a resident of Unversity (sic) Place, Nebraska. While his work has been occasionally interrupted by intervals of ill health, his plain, practical common sense, faithful work, and sound doctrinal preaching have been a valuable contribution to the achievements of Methodism in the state. It was he who built the first Methodist church ever erected and dedicated in Nebraska -- in 1856, at Nebraska City. He also first organized the Methodist church at Plattsmouth and at a number of other places.
   Among the first to appear on the field in Omaha was Moses F. Shinn. He had for many years been a prominent member of the Iowa Conference, and in 1852 was appointed presiding elder of the Council Bluffs district, which probably was to include any work that might develop on the Nebraska side, if not otherwise provided for. He became a resident of Omaha probably in 1854, and was the prime mover of the first educational enterprise projected in Nebraska, as noted later in this chapter.
   About this time the ranks were increased by the coming of J. M. Chivington, a man of good ability but of erratic conduct, and J. T. Cannon, a rugged, earnest frontiersman, who wrought efficiently for several years, when he was compelled to take a superannuated relation, and soon after went to his reward; and J. W. Taylor, a plain, unassuming, but faithful and efficient worker for many years. He died recently at his home in St. Joseph, Missouri.
   On the 23d day of October, 1856, the three of these Nebraska workers who were members of conference, together with enough of the same class in Kansas to make the entire number fifteen, were organized by Bishop Baker into the Kansas and Nebraska annual conference, which held its first session in a tent at Lawrence, Kansas. There were reported to this conference from the Nebraska portion one district, six organized charges, and 297 full members and probationers.



   In 1857 three additional names are added to the list of workers, J. A. Wilson, H. A. Copeland, and D. H. May. Of the first two little is known, but the third was permitted to spend many useful years in laying the foundations of the church in Nebraska.
   In 1858 the little band was doubled in number by the accession of nine to the ranks. Three of these, Philo Gorton, J. R. Minard, and A. J. Dorsey, rendered a few years of faithful service and dropped out of the ranks. W. M. Smith, who was a preacher of more than ordinary ability, served as pastor of Omaha and Nebraska City, and was afterward presiding elder of the Omaha district, and then removed to Colorado. Jerome Spill-



man was a great revivalist. Z. B. Turman, a hardy pioneer, gladly maintained his place on the frontier, serving faithfully on some of the hardest circuits. Martin Pritchard was permitted to put in nearly twenty years of efficient service both as pastor and presiding elder, was elected reserve delegate to the General Conference, and for four years occupied the responsible place of member of the general book committee, which has the oversight



of the vast publishing interests of the church. Jacob Adriance, in addition to many years of valuable work in Nebraska, went in 1859 as a missionary to Colorado, where he was the first to plant Methodism in the city of Denver. After a few years he returned to Nebraska, where, as an honored superannuated member of the North Nebraska Conference, he now resides at Fremont, Nebraska, and with his devoted wife he is spending a happy old age, and waiting with hope for the summons of the Master they have loved and served so long. And last but not least is the honored name of H. T. Davis, D.D., who was permitted to give a longer period of active service to the church in Nebraska than any one else, having at the time of his superannuation in 1901 been forty-three consecutive years in the work. During that time he filled some of the most important pastorates, several terms as presiding elder, and three times he represented his conference in the General Conference. His good preaching and administrative ability, together with his saintly life and amiable traits of character, gave him success in all these relations, and made his service to the church of great value. He was the author of several books, among them Solitary Places Made Glad and The Way of Happiness. He died at his residence in Lincoln, Nebraska, September 18, 1903.
   In 1859 the working force was still further strengthened by the addition of T. M. Munhall, L. W. Smith, Isaac Chivington, and Jesse L. Fort. With the exception of Jesse L. Fort, these remained in the work in Nebraska but a short time. Though handicapped by ill health, Brother Fort gave many years of efficient work before he was finally compelled to take a superannuated relation. He lived to the advanced age of eighty-seven years, over fifty of which had been given to the Christian ministry. His last earthly home was in University Place, Nebraska, where he died May 22, 1902.
   During the year 1860 there were seven names added to the list of workers in Nebraska. Of these only two remained as permanent workers, the others in a short time going to other fields. Isaac Burns was a typical frontier preacher. While somewhat eccentric and old fashioned in his notions, Nebraska Methodism never had a more devoted man than was he. W. A. Amsbury was of great force as a preacher, and in many ways did valuable service in those early times. Great revivals attended his ministry, and he was always popular with the people. He went to Colorado in 1867 and after twenty years returned to Nebraska, death closing his useful career while he was serving Sidney district as presiding elder.



   We come now to a turning point in the history of Nebraska Methodism. As a result of the steady tide of immigration that had been filling up the river counties, and pushing out along the streams some distance into the interior, bringing many Methodist settlers, and of the faithful ministry of the men whose names have been recorded above, by whom these Methodist settlers had been hunted up and organized into classes and circuits, and their number increased by conversions in many revivals, the number of districts had increased in 1861 to two, the number of charges had increased to nineteen, and the membership, including probationers, had increased from 297 in 1856, to 1,344. It was now deemed best for the work that the Kansas and Nebraska portions of the conference be organized into separate conferences. This was done for Nebraska by Bishop Morris, April 4, 1861, at Nebraska City, There were, including two who were received into full connection at the conference, fourteen preachers who were members of this conference. Three, T. B. Lemon, John B. Maxfield, and T. Hoagland, were received on trial. The first two were destined to become leaders of the Lord's hosts through many years, and over large portions of the state, and with H. T. Davis, before mentioned, were easily the three most conspicuous figures in Nebraska Methodism. Dr. Thomas B. Lemon was a strong preacher, sometimes swaying his audience with marvelous power. His warm-hearted, sympathetic nature made him a leader whom many were glad to follow. Both in the pastorate and the presiding elder's office he was eminently successful. He was one of the most important factors in building up the old original Nebraska Conference. His work and worth will be noted later. Of Dr. Maxfield, the other member of this notable three, it may be said that as a preacher he has had few equals and no superiors in the history of Nebraska Methodism. In addition to his great ability as a preacher, his was in every way a masterful personality. He was a born leader of men. He possessed rare executive ability, which made him a great organizer, a quality greatly needed in this formative period of the church. He successfully served some of the most important, pastorates, among them that of the First Church, Omaha. He was the first president of the Nebraska Central College, was five times elected delegate to the General Conference, and served two terms as member of the general missionary committee. He was also a member of the first board of regents, and helped organize the University of Ne-



braska, and later was a member of the commission that organized the Nebraska Wesleyan University. But it was as presiding elder of successive districts, including the Beatrice, North Nebraska, Norfolk, and Omaha districts, that he probably rendered his most valuable service. These districts embrace nearly all the eastern third of the state, and, in every part of this territory his influence was strongly felt in shaping the work of the church. He died September 11, 1899, in Boulder, Colorado, after a long and painful illness.
   The four years following the organization of the Nebraska Conference covered the period



of the great Civil War, during which immigration to the western territories was checked, and the excitement of the times was unfavorable for the work of the church. By removals and other causes, a number of the preachers left the field, but their places were filled by such men as G. Miller, A. G. White, C. W. Giddings, J. Roberts, and W. B. Slaughter, all men of superior intellectual power, executive ability and fine culture. Nebraska



Methodism was fortunate in having for her foundation builders a class of men that compared favorably with the ministry of any other church in natural ability and culture, or with her own ministry at any subsequent period of her history.
   With the close of the war, however, the church as well as the country entered upon a new era of growth and prosperity. The generous homestead law, together with other causes again started the tide of immigration toward the new territories. The bulk of this immigration came from the great central western states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa in which the Methodist membership is relatively very large, ranging from 25 to 40 per cent of the entire Protestant communicants. As was to be expected under these circumstances, a large percent of the new settlers who were church-going people were either adherents or attendants of the Methodist church. From this cause our church increased in membership very rapidly; but not from this cause alone. Our ministry have never been satisfied to increase simply at the expense of the older churches of the East, but through revivals and other evangelistic methods, "added to the church daily."
   From this time on to the present, Nebraska Methodism has carried on the two lines of work, the strengthening and development of the older charges, and providing for the. frontier line that has ever existed, though being steadily pushed farther west from year to year, until the conquest of the whole state was accomplished.
   The growth in the older portions was marked by the increase of membership, the better organization of the charges, and the building of churches and parsonages. The. first church built in the territory was at Nebraska City, under the pastorate of Rev. Hiram Burch, at a cost of $4,500. It was dedicated in November, 1856, by Dr. W. H. Goode. About the same time a church was erected in Omaha, but was not completed and dedicated till December.
   By this two-fold process in the older and newer settlements, building up strong charges in the older, and caring for weak charges on the frontier, the church grew rapidly for a few years. Not only did the number of ministers constantly increase, but the ranks of the laity were also reënforced by accessions of many strong, influential, and active laymen who contributed to the advance of the church in many ways.
   This brings us to the close of the first quarter of a century of Methodist history in Nebraska. During nearly all of this time the church has wrought under great difficulties. Nebraska Methodism had its birth amidst the fierce battle between freedom and slavery that preceded and led to the Civil War; its early,



growth and development took place during the progress of that war. The poverty of the people, which is always incidental to a newly settled country, was greatly increased in Nebraska by the financial crash of 1857, and the high prices that prevailed during the war. And just as they were recovering from these adverse conditions the grasshopper scourge set in. It may be truthfully said that the adverse conditions under which the church did its first quarter of a century of work in Nebraska occasioned such a measure of hardship and sacrifice on the part of the preachers and people as has rarely been excelled, and called for as high a type of courage, faith, devotion, and heroism as has ever been witnessed. In most cases the salaries promised were small and these were often less than half paid. Yet the results achieved by this heroic band of workers were large. Through accretions by way of immigration, and accessions by means of conversions as a result of revivals, the 297 members reported in 1856 had increased to 12,571 in 1880. The ministerial force (including members of conference on trial) had increased from 4 to 109 besides a large number of others employed as supplies; the number of pastoral charges from 7 to 145; the number of church biuldings (sic) from 2 to 79.
   As a result of this growth two events of great significance mark the close of the first quarter of a century of our history, namely, the organization of the West Nebraska mission in 1880, and of the North Nebraska annual conference in 1882. In the Methodist system the annual conference is the principal unit of administration, at which the pastors make their reports of the work done the preceding year, and receive their appointments for the following year. But as the work extends over wider areas of territory, attendance at conference may involve hundreds of miles of travel and an expenditure of a large percentage of the pastor's meager salary. To obivate (sic) this hardship, as soon as the development of the work justifies it, new conferences are organized.
   Probably the first class within the bounds of what was in 1880 organized as the West Nebraska mission was formed by Rev. D. Marquette, at Gibbon, in January, 1870, and was the result of what was probably the first revival ever held within its limits. He was at that time in charge of the Wood River mission, which extended from Silver Creek on the east to Gibbon. The Indians were still hunting buffaloes on the Republican river, and antelope on the Loup and Elkhorn rivers, as far east as Red Cloud on the former and Holt county on latter. There was at that time no organization of Methodism west of Gibbon, and only an occasional visit and




preaching service by the presiding elder. But in a few years the tide of immigration that set in toward all parts of Nebraska reached these rich valleys and filled them up with hardy, intelligent pioneers. As usual, the Methodist church was ready for the emergency.
   In 1873 the Kearney district was formed, and A. G. White, an excellent organizer and one of the best and ablest presiding elders the church has had, was put in charge of it. It seems providential that such a wise, resourceful man should be in charge at this time, for scarcely had these teeming thousands got settled in their dugouts and sod houses, and a few acres of land broken out, when the dreadful grasshopper scourge set

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