Title: Autobiography of Z. S. Hastings
Author: Z. S. Hastings
Release date: September 24, 2010 [eBook #33992]
Most recently updated: January 7, 2021
Produced by Roger Taft (RogerTaft at Cox.Net)
I am sending to each of the other boys a copy of my Autobiography like this I send you. I hope you will be interested in it; read it, preserve it, and give it to some of your children, to be read and handed down and down until the second Adam comes the second time.
I am sure I would be glad to have something of this kind from my father, even from his father's father's father's, etc., back to father Adam, the first Adam.
Z. S. Hastings
Birth. Name. Parent's Religion. Blood. Ancestor's
Religion and Politics. First Recollection. Father's
Family. From North Carolina to Indiana
I was born March 15th 1838 at a place now called Williams in Lawrence County, Indiana. When the day came for me to be named, mother said, "He looks like my brother Zachariah," but father said, "He looks like my brother Simpson." "All right", said mother," we will just christen him Zachariah Simpson." And that is my name unto this day.
Now, when mother said 'christen' she did not mean what is usually meant by christening a babe, for if she had they would have had to take me to a river, for mother and father both believed, when it came to baptizing, that is required much water. Mother, when baptized, was dipped three times, face first, and father once, backwards making in each case an entire submerging or an immersion. Religiously mother was called a Dunkard and father was called a Baptized Quaker. "Now", said father, one day to mother, "this out not to be, we are one in Christ, let us be one in name." "All right," said mother, "let us drop the names Dunkard and Quaker and simply call ourselves Christians." "Just so," said father, "but we must live Christians as well." And they did.
There runs in my veins both English and Irish blood. On the paternal side I can only trace my ancestors back to the early Quakers of Baltimore. On the maternal side I know less, for it is only said that my great grand-mother was a handsome, witty, Irish-woman. For some reason, I know not what, I have always liked the humble, honest, witty Irish people, be they Catholic or Protestant.
As far back as I can trace my ancestry they were religiously Quakers and Politically Whigs. More recently however, we are religiously, simply Christians, politically prohibition Republicans. I do not boast of my ancestors, boys, for they were humble, yet,
"Howe'er it be, it seems to me,
'Tis only noble to be good."
The first thing that I can now remember was, when I was two and one-half years old, in the fall of 1840, when General William Henry Harrison was elected the ninth president of the United States. It was on the occasion of a big rally day for Mr. Harrison when I, with my parents, stood by the road-side and saw in the great procession going by, four men carrying a small log cabin upon their shoulders, and in the open door of the cabin sat a small barrel of hard cider. The rally cry was "Hurrah for Tippecanoe and Tyler too."
My father and mother were there, because they were Whigs, and I was there because father and mother were there. There is a great deal in the way a child is brought up. O, that the children of our beloved land be brought up in the way they should go! O, that it could be said of all parents that their children are brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; that is could be said of all teachers of our great country as it was said of the great lexicographer, Noah Webster: "He taught thousands to read, but not one to sin." It is said boys, that the training of a child should begin a hundred years before it is born. I do not know about this, but I do know that the proper training should be kept up after it is born. Will you see to it, that you do your part well?
My father's family consisted of seven children, of whom I was the fifth child. Three brothers, Joshua Thomas, William Henry and John Arthur, and one sister, Nancy Elizabeth, were older than I. One sister Charlotte Ann, and one brother Rufus Wiley, were younger. My father's name was Howell Hastings, my mother's name was Edith Edwards. Father and mother were both born in North Carolina; father in 1905, mother in 1808. They were married in 1826. My two older brothers were born in North Carolina. The rest of us were born in Indiana. The parents, with their two little boys came to Indiana in 1830. They made the entire trip in a one-horse wagon; crossing the Cumberland Mountains, and passing through the states of Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky. Of course they had but little in their wagon; a box or two containing their wearing apparel, and a little bedding, and also a little tin box containing just one-hundred dollars in gold coin and a few valuable papers, which was kept, locked and hidden, in one of the larger boxes. This hundred dollars was all the money father had except what he had in his pocket purse, which he supposed would be enough to meet the expenses of the trip.
All went well for about two weeks when a man, traveling on horseback, overtook them, who slackened his gait and traveled along with them, forming an acquaintance. He said to them that he too, was going to the far west (Indiana was called the far west then), to seek his fortune. He was very kind, helpful and generous; and traveled along with them for two days, but, on the third day morning, when father awoke, his fellow traveler was gone. Father and the man had slept under the wagon. Father usually slept in or under the wagon while mother and the little boys would sleep in the house of some family who lived by the road-side. Just as they were ready to start that morning, mother said to father, "Have you looked to see if the tin box is safe?" "No" said father. "Well, you better look," said mother. Father looked among the stuff in the big box where they had kept it, but it was not there. The man had stolen it and all that was in it. The kind family, whose hospitality mother had shared during the night, kept her and her children in their home while father and the husband of the home and an officer of the law spent two days hunting for the thief, but could not find him. So, father and mother had to pursue their journey without their little tin box which was the most valuable of their temporal assets. A man that steals, should steal no more.
In due time, (1830) father and mother with their two little boys, Thomas and Henry arrived in Lawrence County, Indiana, and settled in the rich valley of the east fork of the White river. Father's oldest brother, Arthur D. Hastings, Sen., had preceded father a few years to the new state, and was ready to greet and assist his brother to make a new home. Uncle Arthur was one of God's noblemen, an honest, leading citizen, and devout Christian. He lived on the place he first settled about sixty years, and died there in 1886 at the advanced age of 85 years. Although I had many uncles, Uncle Arthur was the only one I ever saw.
Indiana. The Stars fall. Move. Texas. The flood of 1844. First School. White River's Pocket. No Nimrod. A Fish Story. Clarksburg.
At the time of father's arrival, Indiana was only 14 years old and contained about 300,000 inhabitants. Its capital city's first Mayor was inaugurated two years before I was born and three years after the stars fell.
In 1842 when I was about four years old my parents sold out and moved down the river five or six miles and bought a new, larger and better farm with a large two story hewed log house and a big double log barn, and a good apple orchard. The farming land was bottom and lay along the river. Here we had some sheep and cattle on a few hills and some hogs in the woods, that got fat in the winter on white oak acorns and beech nuts. And here we had a large "sugar orchard" as the Hosiers called it—hard maple trees by the many from which, in the early spring, flowed the sweet sap by the barrels full which we converted into gallons of maple syrup, and into many cakes of maple sugar.
It was while we lived here, when I was six years old, there was the greatest flood, known to me, since the days of Noah. I remember it well. You too, my boys, will never forget the year when I tell you it was the same year, 1844, in which your best earthly friend was born, your mother. But I did not know anything about her until twenty years afterwards.
The flood was great. All the lower lands were under water. Mr. Greene's, the ferryman, our nearest neighbor's family had to go in a canoe from the door of their kitchen to their smoke house to get meat. All our cattle and hogs were in the stalk fields near the river, and all were drowned, except one large, strong cow which swam more than one half mile, almost in a straight line, and was saved. We could see the cattle huddled together on a small island knoll away down in the field next to the river. The poor creatures would stand there until the rapidly rising waters would crowd them off the knoll, and then they swam until exhausted and overcome by the great distance, and turbulent waters when they would go down to rise no more. I was the first to see the cow which swam out. Looking down through the orchard where the waters were swimming deep, I saw the end of her nose and the tips of her horns above the water. Slowly she came, almost exhausted. But finally she found footing where she could stand and then the poor creature stood and bawled and bawled for quite a while, and then walked to her young calf which was at the barn on the hillside.
About this time I attended my first school and my teacher was my cousin, Arthur D. Hastings, Jr., who lived to a good old age, and died September 15th, 1906 within a little more than a stone's cast of where he taught. My first and only textbook at school for a year or more was Webster's blue back Spelling book. It had both Spelling and Reading in it. I learned all from end to end. The teacher said I ought to have a reader, so farther bought for me, McGuffey's second reader; as soon as I got hold of it I ran with it to the barn loft and sat down on the hay and read all that was in it before I got up. The next day the teacher said I ought to have a higher reader, so father bought for me McGuffey's fourth reader, the highest that was, and these two readers were all the readers that I ever read. Grammar was not so easy. My text-book was Smith's. I would start at the first of the book, and get about half through at the end of the term. This I did for a half dozen years or more. Finally when I started to high school I took up Clark's grammar and finished it.
But, to go back a little, father after the great flood, went down to Texas and bought several hundred acres of land and came back and sold his farm intending to move to Texas, but changed his mind and sold his Texas land for a song in the shape of a beautiful colt. This colt grew into one of the prettiest and best horses your grandfather ever had. But remember it cost hundreds of acres of land which are worth thousands of dollars now. It was like paying too much for your whistle.
If we had gone to Texas, boys, I do not know what might have been but I do know now that you are and that you have one of the best mothers that lives. Often have I heard her pray with tears in her eyes that you and all the boys might be saved from the use of tobacco and strong drink.
Father next turned his attention towards securing a home in the pocket of the White River, which he did by buying a farm in Daviers County on the border of Clark's Prairie and adjoining the village of Clarksburg, which is now the city of Oden. At the time of our removal to Clarksburg I was about nine years old. We liked our new home. At this time Daviers County was a wilderness of brush, trees and swamps, with plenty of wild game,—deer, coons, opossums, squirrels, turkeys, ducks, quails, snowbirds, and of wild fruits, grapes, plums, crab-apples and strawberries. And of fish of all kinds, nearly.
I never was much of a Nimrod. Many times I saw deer, and once when I had a gun upon my shoulder, but I did not take it off. Early one morning a flock of thirty or forty wild turkeys came within a rod or two of the kitchen window, but when we opened the door instead of coming in, they flew away. Some days after that I heard turkeys gobbling in the woods, and I took the gun and went where they were and shot one dead. Happened to hit it in the head. Once I shot a crow and killed it.
One day I shot and killed four or five squirrels. Often I trapped quails and snow birds. The biggest fish I ever saw caught I did not catch. Brother Henry, who was nine years older than I, caught it. It was a cat-fish, and Henry and a boy named Billy James, who was less than six feet tall, ran a pole through the fish's gills and carried the fish between them suspended from the pole which was rested upon the boys shoulders, and the fish was so long that its tail tipped the ground as the boys walked. Now, this is the biggest fist story I ever tell, except the Jonah story, and I believe both.
We liked Clarksburg because it was a good place for schools, Sunday Schools and churches. I hardly remember the time when I was not in school, Sunday School and church. I think to this day these are good places for boys to be.
My parents were always anxious to have their children in school and made many sacrifices to this end; as a result their five boys all were public school teachers before they were out of their teens.
Certificate. School. Tophet. Father's death.
At the age of seventeen, I sought the county school examiner that I might procure a license to teach. I found him at his school teaching. He had me wait until noon, then we went to the woods close by. It was a warm beautiful day, and the examiner sat on one end of the log and I on the other. Then the questioning commenced. Why he even asked what reading was, and although I had been reading for ten years I could hardly tell. He asked me how far it was from Dan to BeerSheba, and then laughed at me because I did not know. He asked me if I had never heard the phrase "from Dan to BeerSheba." I told him it seemed to me that I did once hear an old preacher say something about a young man named Dan who was handsome and strong, but he got into a pretty dangerous place one time among some lions, but he came out all right, the preacher said, because he would never drink beer or wine or whiskey or anything that would make a man drunk. I do not think the examiner ever heard that story before, so he quit asking such irrelevant questions and got to business, asking about vowels and consonants, and accent and emphasis, curves and loops, Tories and Whigs, order and discipline, etc. etc. until he said that will do, and wrote me out a certificate to teach. That county examiner was my oldest brother, hence the fun. From then on, I was a public school teacher for about 15 years. I stood the test many times in Indiana, Missouri and Kansas, to secure a teacher's certificate, but never failed to get the first grade. Of course, I, in the meantime, spent about three more years at school. My popularity as a successful teacher came at once, even at the first term, so much so that they sent for me to come and teach for them in a place called Tophet. Boys, if you do not know what that means look it up in the dictionary. The place was so bad, that teachers for several years had not been able to teach to the end of the term. The bad boys and girls would run the teacher off. I knew all this. And instead of going with a rod, as other teachers had I went with love and firmness determined to win right in the start the respect and confidence of the big boys and girls. I succeeded.
The first death to occur in my father's family was the death of my father himself. In the early fall of 1854 father's health began to fail. The disease was dropsy. Dr. Sam Elmore, the resident physician of Clarksburg did all he could, faithfully attending father all the fall and winter up to the day of his death. But about one week before death, the doctor requested that we send for Dr. McDonald, who lived in Newberry, a town about eight miles away. This we did, and Dr McDonald, a skillful and learned physician, came to see father twice that week. The last time was on the day before Christmas. When he left to go home, he requested us to let him know father's condition the next day after noon. The next day was Christmas. Father seemed much better all afternoon. Many friends and neighbors came in to see him. He talked more than usual. The day was a cold, dark, drizzly one. We had no telephones then, so on horse back in the afternoon, through cold and sleet, I made my way to tell the doctor how father was. The errand was not hard for me, because I loved my father and he was better, I thought, and I wanted to tell the doctor. As soon as I entered the doctor's office, I said, "Father is better." The doctor asked me several questions about him which I answered. He then turned to get some medicine and as he turned I saw him shake his head negatively. He gave me a little phial filled with medicine and told me to give father two or three drops every two or three hours and added, "If your father is better in the morning, let me know." I went home with a sadder heart than I had when I came to the doctor's, for I do not think the doctor thought that father was better. And so it proved for when I returned Mother said father had seemed better all afternoon, so much so that his friends, and even my oldest brother and sister, (who were now married, and lived, the one three miles distant, the other one mile), had returned home to take rest.
But now, (it was about dark when I returned) said mother, "he seems to be much worse, you would better go for your brother and sister." So I went at once the one mile and the three miles, and sister and her husband, Mr. Chas. R. Reyton, went at once and not long afterwards brother and his wife and their two little children and I returned, and we all stood around the bed of death. Father said but little, but finally said to all. "Come near." We did so, and he said, "Good bye, it is but a little distance between me and my eternal home, and I can soon step that off." He closed his eyes and was dead.
It was almost midnight, Christmas day, 1854. He went at the early age of 49 years, 7 months 23 days. I was a little more than sixteen years old. My youngest brother, and the youngest child of the family, Rufus Wiley, was a little over five years old. Youngest sister, Charlotte Ann a little over thirteen.
Father was a quiet, peaceable, Christian man, with a good many of the
Quaker ways about him.
The spirit-rappings, which originated with the Fox family of N.Y. eight or ten years before, were still exciting the people in southern Indiana. It so happened that a Mr. Wilson, a learned justice of the peace, lived in Tophet, at the time I taught school there, and was a medium. I boarded and lodged at his house a part of the time. Let me state a few facts and these occurred in my experience while there. That rapping kept up, especially if you paid any attention to it, more or less, day and night. Every afternoon and evening after school, when I returned to my boarding place, I could hear the rapping on my chair, or desk, or somewhere in the room. Or, if out of doors, on some object near me. If out after dark that rapping was sure to get directly between me and the door. Was it good or evil, saint or sinner, I knew not. I could explain nothing. I could believe nothing. I could lay hold of nothing. I could let go of nothing. I only heard rapping. And it made no difference whether Mr. Wilson, the medium, was at home or not, the rapping went on all the same.
One long afternoon as I was sitting at a window reading a book, Mrs. Wilson was sitting across the room at another window, busy at work and at the same time humming a tune. All at once, that rapping commenced, on a cupboard standing in the corner, in a clear, distinct musical way, so much so that it attracted my attention from my reading and Mrs. Wilson saw me looking towards the cupboard. She said, "Lizzie, is that you?" There came a loud, distinct rap. As much as to say yes. Then Mrs. Wilson said, "Can you beat (play) that tune I was humming." I suspect Mr. Hastings would like to hear it." At once the beating (rapping) commenced and continued for quite a while. It sounded very much like the tapping of a drum. It played the tune. I do not think that I ever listened to any music with so much interest and curiosity as I listened to that rapping.
One embarrassing and annoying part of the rapping was every night, when I would retire to my bed that rapping would keep up its rapping upon the head board of my bed, both before and after I would blow out the light. When I found out they called it Lizzie I would say, "Please Lizzie, let me o to sleep." And it would cease, and I would sleep. To confess, boys, I often felt a little scared, especially when out of doors in the dark and that—what shall I call it?— thing got to rapping upon something between me and the door.
I could tell you other stories about these rappings but they are too incredulous to believe. As I said before, I could explain nothing nor can I yet. I simply heard the rappings, under the circumstances as I have related.
Leaves Home. In St. Louis. On the Mississippi River. From
Lagrange to Lindley.
Few boys live through their teens who do not want to take a wild goose chase to see the world. I was no exception. So after bidding my mother, brothers, sisters, farewell on my 19th birthday, with mother's blessing, in the company with Dr. Sam Elmore, his wife and little boy, I started for north Missouri. The first night we spent at Washington, Ind. This was the first time I ever stopped as a guest at a hotel. The next day we secured passenger tickets on the Ohio and Mississippi Rail Road to St. Louis. This was the first time I had ever rode on railroad cars. Away we went over rivers and rivulets, hills and hollows, through farms and towns, woods and prairies. I thought we would never stop. I was seeing the world.
But finally we stopped. And someone said, "St. Louis." I stepped out and the first thing I saw was the "Father of Waters". Now, I tell you boys, the Mississippi is a big river. We had to cross in a ferry boat. There was no Ead's bridge there.
When we landed on the Missouri side and stepped out on the wharf there were, on all sides, mules, negroes, drays, drummers, porters, beggars, fakers, yelling, moving, jostling, huddling, crowding. Why, I felt that to be in such a place was dangerous to be safe.
The doctor had been there before, I had not. I noticed he pressed ahead, so I followed. Finally we reached the Planter's House, and I cast my eye up to the upper story and thought, "O my, I cannot sleep up there, it will make me dizzy and I will fall out."
We sought a steamboat to go up the Mississippi and the earliest one we could find would not start for two days. But we bought tickets which entitled us to lodging and board on the boat, so we took our places on the boat, and staid with it until it landed us at Lagrange, our destination. The name of the boat was "Thomas Swan." I never traveled in any nicer way than on a large fine steam-boat—board and bed and everything clean and good, interesting and pleasant.
The first night, when I went to bed, I put my boots and clothes where I supposed I could easily find them the next morning, but when morning came I could find everything except the boots. I found, in the place where I had left the boots, an old pair of slippers. (The slippers were nice and clean, however.) I thought some scamp had stolen my boots, and left for me his slippers. I did not know what to do. I was afraid to wear the slippers lest someone would accuse me of stealing them. But I finally dared to put them on and step into the cabin parlor and at the far end I saw fifty or more pairs of boots, and all well cleaned and blackened. I shyly approached a big black man who was sitting by the boots and dare to ask him if he had my boots there. He said, "What's de number, please?" I said, "Number seven." "Yes sir" he said and picked out a pair for me. (I noticed by this time that all the boots were numbered with chalk.) I saw at once that the boots he picked out were not mine, and said, "These are not my boots." "Dat's number seven, sir, de number of your berth." I said, "You are mistaken, my birth is the 15th of March." "O dat so." "Your number fifteen," said he, and picked up the boots chalk marked 15. They were my boots. I took them and started to walk back with them in my hand to my berth, the number of which was 15. The negro said, "Say, mister, I usually get a dime." I said, "Excuse me,", and paid him a dime.
Do you see, boys? Yes, we see that the boy who afterwards became our father was green. Of course, I was green. All things are green before they are ripe.
In the next day or two we landed at Lagrange, Missouri, a small town above Quincy, Ill. There the doctor had two horses and a buggy. The doctor, his wife and boy rode in the buggy, driving one horse, and I rode the other horse, and in this fashion we made our way westward for four days, passing through the towns of Lewiston, Edina, Kirksville, Scottsville, until we arrived at Lindley, a small town on Medicine Creek in Grunday County.
The afternoon of the first day of the four days referred to above, was cold and stormy. So I rode in advance, inquiring at every house for lodging for our company, but was denied. I passed one house however—it looked so small I thought there would not be room enough for all, but the doctor called when he came to it, and received a favorable answer. I turned back and the man said, "I have plenty for your horses to eat, but no place for them only to tie them in an open shed. Our house is small but only three of us and four of you perhaps we can get along." The doctor said, "We will stay." The man was good but the accommodations were bad. The house was a small one-roomed log cabin. Two beds and a narrow space between them fully occupied one half of the floor space. A the other end of the room was a large fireplace with a bright, cheerful, warm, comfortable fire, so much so that we could sit back against the beds, which we all did, and were comfortable except the woman of the house, who was in one corner of the fireplace getting supper. I do not mean that the woman was in the fire but nearby. You know that the Greek word eis according to some theologians means nearby. But the bread in the skillet was under the fire and over the fire for there were live coals above it and live coals beneath it. The meat in the pan was on top of the fire. I never ate better bread and meat. I was hungry. After supper I began to wonder and worry about where I would sleep, and one of mother's proverbs came to my mind, "Do not worry child, God will provide." Then I remembered that God had provided for many such occasions but he really did it through Mother.
Soon a little trundle bed was drawn from under one of the large beds, and it just filled the space between the two larger beds. The little boy of the house was put in the little bed and the good lady of the house told me that I would have to sleep with the little boy in the little bed. I said, "All right." An opportunity was given and I retired. Although I was a boy under twenty I was several inches longer than the bed, but I managed to get between the two end boards and slept. Whether pushed under the larger bed during the night, I know not. The next morning at daylight I was still between the two big beds, but I had not grown in length any during the night the end boards were in the way.
From Lagrange to Lindley, continued. In a murderers bed. Maple sugar. Philosophy and Morality. Dr. Elmore shot. More philosophizing. Firsts. Baptist College. Pikes Peak or Hell.
I got up early and took a walk, (the weather had moderated) to see the world. I felt just a little bit homesick. The next evening we stopped for the night at a large public house and they put me in a large upper room where a murderer had slept the night before. I slept. Here let me state this was not the only time I was the next to sleep in a bed where a murderer had slept. A few years after this, during the awful war of the rebellion, I was late in the night getting into the City of Vincennes, Indiana and called a hotel for a bed. I was told there was but one empty bed, and it had just been vacated by a murderer. He became uneasy and left; the officers in pursuit of him came to the hotel, and searched his bed, but he was gone. I said to the landlord, "Do you suppose the officers will come back to search that bed again?" He said he supposed not. I told him that I would occupy it. The bed was still warm. I have seen, boys, about as much of the world as I want to see. I would not go fifty miles to see the Rocky Mountains or the Jerusalem that now is.
The third night we staid with a farmer who, that very night, has a maple sugar stirring off, and we had a good time, but the horse I rode was so tall he could not get through the stable door and he had to be tied out all night. The next day we arrived at Lindley, where I made my headquarters for almost five years.
But before I proceed with the story of my life chronologically, let me philosophize and moralize a little as suggested to me by my own experience in both young life and old life.
What, from a worldly, physical, selfish stand point, do you consider,
1. The best thing in this life.
2. The most convenient thing in this life.
Answer: 1. Good weather and good health.
What, from any stand-point, do you think is the best
thing in this life?
What, from any stand-point, do you think is the worst
Now, in my old age I do not wish to live my life over again, but I can see where I might have done better especially as it relates to the questions above. I might have taken more advantage of the good weather and avoided the bad. I might have taken better care of my health. I might have secured a little more money for the rainy days. I might have wedded myself more closely to Christianity, and have divorced myself more fully from sin.
But I am now in my old age content—am ready, and resting in the hope of the glory that shall be revealed. God is good. My counsel to my children and to all young people for many years has been, briefly stated:
Take care of your health.
Take care of your money.
Take care of your religion.
But, to return to Lindley, Missouri and to the 19th year of my age, I find myself, Dr. Elmore, wife and boy, stopping with my brother Henry and his young family. Brother Henry is nine yeas my senior. He lives to this day. He had, a year or two before, moved to that place.
The next morning after we arrived in Lindley, Dr. Elmore was fixing the shaft of his buggy when his revolver fell from his pocket, was discharged and shot him in the breast, the ball ranging upwards and lodged in his shoulder. He soon got well, but the ball is with him to this day.
I never owned a gun, a dog, a fiddle, a pocket knife, a razor, a pipe, a cigar or cigarette, a plug of tobacco, or a hug of whiskey. I never had any use for these things. I do not wholly condemn all these, but I do think the world would be better and safer without guns, dirk knives, dogs, tobacco, and strong drink.
During my stay of almost five years in Grundy and Sullivan counties, Mo., I spent the time in teaching and attending school. The principal events of my life were my second birth, my first sermon, my first convert, my first funeral, my first marriage, (I mean the first marriage I ever solemnized), my first religious debate and my first vote.
I taught in both Sullivan and Grundy counties. I soon gained the same popularity as a teacher that I had in Indiana. I never sought schools. They always sought me. I attended the Baptist College in Trenton one year. It was a very pleasant and profitable year of my early life. It was before the war when the general talk was about slavery and a probable war.
One day I and a young friend, chum and class-mate, a son of a Baptist preacher, were studying our lessons under a large beech tree in the college campus. My mate said to me, "Hastings, aren't you an abolitionist?" I said, "Yes, I am." "I believe all men ought to be free." He answered, "I thought so, and so am I and my father too." "But I want to admonish you not to talk it so much." The admonition was well given, and well taken, for the forebodings of the day were that not talk but action would be the right step. And so it was, for it was not long before the whole country was in an awful fratricidal war. The like of which, I hope our country will never see again.
It was during this year the great migration took place to Pike's Peak for gold. Nearly every day the streets would be full of covered wagons bound for Pike's Peak. I noticed on one wagon written in great red letters, "Hastings, bound for Pike's Peak or Hell." It was the noon hour, and I said to the other boys, "There is a Hastings in this crowd, and I am going to find him." I went into a grocery store where many of them were buying provisions. I soon picked him out, a tall good looking fellow, then besides he swore a great deal which tallied with what I saw on the wagon, so I stepped up to him and said, "Is your name Hastings?" He answered with an oath that it was. I said to him, "I see from what is written on your wagon that you are bound for Pike's Peak or Hell." Without waiting for him to reply, I further said, "I think from the way you are going, and the way you talk, you will probably get to both places." At first he looked like he was going to hit me, and then he smiled and said, "You don't swear?" I said, "No, nor do I think you ought to swear." He said, "Probably I ought not."
Then I told him my name was Hastings too. He shook hands with me and we had quite a visit. But he swore no more in my presence. We could trace no kinship, and I was a little glad of it. I do not think any man is totally depraved, but some are very nearly so. There is less excuse for swearing than almost any other sin.
Conversion. First sermon. Funerals and Weddings.
From my earliest childhood I have attended Sunday Schools and church services. I have believed that God is, that Jesus Christ is the son, and that the Bible is true. Years before I became a Christian I had desired to be such and worship God with other Christians. But I did not know which church to join. Mother said, read the Bible and learn. One leader said do this, another said do that. No two agreed. I did not know what to do to become one among the Christians. I prayed to God but if God spake to me in an audible voice I did not know it. But these thoughts ran through my mind. I believe and that far is all right, because the Bible so teaches and so do all the churches. It ran through my mind that I ought to tell somebody else besides God that I believe, so one day I went down town, where there were quite a number of people worshipping God, and they said they were Christians. I said I believe too, and publicly confessed and told all the men that I believed in God and that Jesus Christ was God's son. They all, both men and women seem glad and I was told that all the churches, as well as the Bible, taught that that was right.
Then again, in my mind, I realized that is was a shame and was sorry that I had sinned against God and neglected to turn to him. So, I determined to sin no more but from henceforth to obey God and follow the Lord Jesus always if possible until death. The Bible approved of that procedure, all the churches preached that was right.
Then it ran in my mind that I ought to be baptized and in order to be safe and right, I asked that I might in my baptism be submerged in water and raised up, for the Bible seemed to talk that way, and all the churches said that that way would do. So, I asked a man whom the good people of all the churches so far as I knew, call the Bishop B. H. Smith (no kin to Joe Smith), to baptize me. He did so my immersing me in Medicine Creek in Grundy County, Mo., and raising me up, I came walking up out of the water calling on the name of God. This occurred on the 18th day of September 1858. Ever since then, a half century and more I have been serving, God, keeping his commandments, following his Son, my Load and Master, and praying always. Now all this the Bible teaches, and so do all the churches. Now what church do I belong to? You tell. Will I be saved? You say. Why cannot we all, Christians, take the Bible at what it says, and what all churches approve and be one church? You answer. You know we need not worry about the God side. He will do all things right. It occurred to me that what I did to become a Christian was that which Christ referred to in his conversation with Nicodemus.
In a few months after my second birth, I commenced to preach the word of Gospel and chose for my first subject, "Promise to Abraham." To my surprise when I had finished I had spoken nearly an hour and a half. I told all I knew from Abraham to Christ. I have preached for fifty years since then, and while I have learned more, I have never at any one time preached so long.
It took me, however, a long time to get down to the regulated time of forty or forty-five minutes. I always had too much to tell. This sermon was preached sometime in the summer of 1859. One thing I regret, yes—there may be many things,—but I wish I had kept the dates of things, such as converts, baptisms, funerals, weddings, etc. But of these things I kept no account.
A few years ago I tried to recall the number of weddings, and I got up among the hundreds, and got lost and gave it up. And I am sure that the funerals were as many or more than the weddings. As a matter of fact I always had many calls to weddings and funerals. I have married all kinds of people, of various ages, nationalities and religions. Among them octogenarians, negroes, and Mormon. Some had been married from one to five times before. But I never hear of but two couples who, after I had married them, were divorced. Nor did I every marry any that had been divorced.
I have preached the funerals of many, Saints and sinners, people of various ages, nationalities and creeds. I have baptized believers ranging from nine to seventy-two years of age.
Although I have been preaching for over fifty years, my preaching has been usually on Sundays. I was a Sunday preacher. I never gave myself wholly to preaching for a livelihood. Yet, except the last ten or twelve years, I have missed but few Sundays.
Prof Ficklin. Geometry. Bethany, Vir. Ordination. First convert. First funeral. First wedding.
On the 15th day of March, 1859 I was asked how old I was. I replied 'Ego sum viginti unum.' You see at that very time I was attending Prof. Ficklin's High School in Trenton, Missouri, and I tried to put into practice my Latin. My studies at that school were Latin, Astronomy and Geometry. Geometry was my favorite study and I was happy to have Joseph Ficklin as my teacher, for he was one of the best mathematicians in the world. The books in the library on Mathematics alone covered all of one end of his study. He became the author of a series of text books on mathematics from a book on mental arithmetic to a book on Trigonometry and calculus.
As well as I loved geometry I had to leave school before I finished it. Like many another poor boy, my money gave out. The hardest practical geometrical problem that ever came to me in after life was this: I wished to divide a piece of land which in shape was a trapezoid. This trapezoid had two right angles, and the parallel sides were respectively 170 and 120 rods in length. The shorter of the other two sides was 160 rods in length. Now the question was, at what point in the line of the side 160 rods in length should a line start, running parallel with the parallel sides of the land to the opposite side, so as to divide the land into two equal parts? I have never been able to solve this problem, nor could the surveyor I had employed, but two of my boys, before they were as old as I was when I wanted to solve it, solved it. So you see each generation becomes wiser than the preceding one. This is well, provided the wisdom is such as to direct all knowledge into the ways of righteousness.
I had to quit school before I had finished all my studies, but had it not been for the war which came in 1861, I perhaps would have been a graduate of Bethany, Vir. University. For the good, rich brethren of the country in which I commenced to preach had a habit of helping young men to an education, who were called to preach, and who bode to be a success. But the war coming on, spoiled all these plans for me. But I will not express regrets for who would dare to complain when he has placed himself to be lead by the hand of the Almighty. As it is it may be far better than it might have been.
It was decided that I ought to be set apart to the work of an Evangelist (preacher) in the church of God, and on the 6th day of Aug. 1861, during a district meeting of churches at Lindley, Grundy County Missouri, I was ordained to the Christian ministry, by the laying on hands, fasting and prayer. Brethren John R. Howard, David T. Wright, Benjamin F. Smith, D. W. Stewart, and R. M. Sharp participating.
My first convert was a slave woman, who, hearing me preach, believed and was baptized. She was accepted of God, for before him a poor slave woman at her master's feet is as precious in his sight as the queen on her throne. God is no respecter of persons.
My first funeral was on the occasion of the death of a dear little child, only a few months old, the first born of young parents. But the sermon was easy, for has not the Saviour said, "Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."
My first wedding was when, after I had finished a term of school, one of my school boys, a young man, came to me and said he wanted me to marry him to one of my school girls, a young lady. I said, all right I will do that. The arrangements were made. Afterwards I got to thinking about it, I did not know how it was done. I had been to but very few weddings in my life, and I had not noticed particularly how it was done. So, I went to an old preacher who, I knew, had married many people, and asked him how it was done. He said it was easy, just get the parties together and talk to them very solemnly a little while about marriage and getting married and then tell them to join their right hands and ask each a solemn leading question, and if each said yes, then pronounce them husband and wife, and the thing is done. So I went away and formulated in my mind the solemn words to say and the solemn questions to ask. This ceremony proved to be very acceptable and popular, and during all these fifty years or more I have been using the same ceremony and asking the same questions, with but very little variation.
But I must confess when the time came for this first wedding, and I had arrived at the place and saw the many guests with their wedding garments on, I began to feel that it was not so easy a job after all. In fact, I felt a little scared. And then to add embarrassment to fright, another one of my pupils, a young man both older and taller than I, came to me while we were in the midst of the crowd, awaiting the coming of the bride and groom. Stooping over he said in a whisper to me, "Please stand up." I, thinking that he had some message that I out to hear, quietly arose at once, (for he was one of my best friends) when he began to unfold a large, long paper and read aloud to me some lingo of my duties, responsibilities and procedures. But just then the bride and groom were coming, and I said to my friend, "Be seated, sir, you are a little too late with your lingo." The joke had the effect of remove my embarrassment and fright, and I, with ease proceeded with the marriage ceremony and the wedding was most beautiful.
First vote. Oldest brother. War. Return to Indiana. In
Tophet again. First Baptism. Clarksburg meeting.
About this time I was, the first time privileged to exercise my right as a voter.
The question was whether the state of Missouri should secede from the union. Brother and I voted in the negative. Then during the same year, 1860, November the 6th, we were privileged to vote for a President of the United States. The candidates were A. Lincoln, S. A. Douglas, J. B. Breckenridge and John Bell. Brother voted for Bell for he thought Bell was the only one that would save the union. I voted for Douglas because I thought his election would save from the impending war. The manner of voting was then quite different from what it is now. The judges of election sat in the school house by a lower open window and the voters would file up to the window on the outside. For instance when I appeared at the window to vote, a judge from within asked, "What is your name?" I replied, Z. S. Hastings. "For whom do you vote," asked the judge. I vote for Stephen A. Douglas," was my reply. The judge then said in a loud voice, "Z. S. Hastings votes for Stephen A. Douglas." The clerk recorded it. That was all. The next president I voted for was Abraham Lincoln. And, as it is said, of some Democrats who are still voting for Thomas Jefferson, I am still voting for Abraham Lincoln, that is to say, these Democrats are still voting for some of the principles that were taught by Thomas Jefferson, and I am still voting for some of the principles held by Abraham Lincoln. Among them the rule which is called Golden and is found the Book. This rule is not an "iridescent dream" with me.
My oldest brother Joshua Thomas Hastings was a home guard soldier and a teacher in Bolivar, Missouri, when the battle of Springfield was fought and General Lyon was killed. After the battle the Home Guards and Union men in general in that part of the state, had (using a war word) to skedaddle for their lives. My brother tried to make his escape to Kansas but three times was arrested by confederate scouts. Once, in a road, sheltered on either side with hazel brush and a thick undergrowth of other bushes, the leader of the band, who seemed to want to befriend my brother, whispered to him, that a majority of them (there were six or eight of them) had voted to kill him. "Now" said he, "jump for your life," As soon as said, brother leaped into the brush like a wild deer,—bang, went the cracking of half a dozen or more guns, but each shot missed except one, which just grazed the top of his shoulder. My brother then determined to return back to Bolivar, and with his family return, if possible to Indiana. In this he was successful.
At this time our mother and two sisters were living in Allen County Kansas. Brother had not been back in Indiana long until he helped to raise a new company for the war and with it went into the union army. But in less than a year he was taken sick and died in an army hospital at Henderson, in Kentucky, November 14th, 1863.
In the meantime I too had returned to Indiana, and, with brother's wife, went to him, when hearing he was sick. We were with him only about three hours before he died. At the end of the next two days we returned with him to our old home in old Clarksburg, (now Oden) Daviers County, Indiana, where, the next day, we buried brother by the side of our father, who had been buried nine years. This was the second death in father's family. Brother was a good man, a scholar, a soldier, and a teacher. He gave his life upon the altar of his country at the early age of thirty-six.
War is a great evil, dreadful, fearful, terrible. O, for the time when "nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more!"
Upon my return to Indiana, after an absence of nearly five years, I was quite a different person, in many respects, from what I was when I went away. I had grown in length to be six feet and two inches tall and the hair of my head and the beard of my face was as black as jet, the one standing on its ends, the other full and hanging six inches or more in length. Besides had I not been born anew and was now a new creature? Old things had passed away. Yet I went back to my old place of teaching, Tophet. With preaching added to teaching, there again I taught the urchins and preached to the sinners. And at this writing 1911, there is a new name, a new people (a converted people), a house of God and many worshippers of the Most High God. Surely the world doth grow better.
At the Owl Prairie where I hoed corn when I was a little boy and fished in the canal, I was called to take charge of a protracted meeting, and at this meeting I had my first baptism. Heretofore I had always insisted on someone of experience to doing this. The baptism took place in the West Fork of the White River. Owl Prairie is now the city of Elnoa with two railroads, and churches and schools.
My next attendance at a protracted meeting was to help Thompson Little. This meeting was held at old Clarksburg on the very site, in a new church building, where I went to school when quite young and where I appeared in my first effort as a public speaker. It was a recitation and commenced the way:
"'Tis a lesson you should head,
If at first you don't succeed
Try, try again."
Well, at this meeting I preached and seven young people came forward at one time and gave me their hands and made the good confession. It was the greatest number that ever came forward at any one time upon my invitation. These seven were all my old playmates and schoolmates. It was a good meeting.
Generous friends. Christian, Catholic Methodist, $1.50 $1.00 $0.00 A hawk story. April 15, 1865. All Irish but one. The Bible in school. Not Papa.
During this period of my life, which included the latter part of the Civil War, I was occupied mostly at Christian Liberty, and Washington, Daviers County, Ind., both teaching and preaching. A part of the two years following this was spent in school at Indianapolis and Miram, Ohio. At Christian Liberty, my church house and school house were in the same yard. On the first day I occupied the one and on the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth days, I occupied the other. And on the seventh day I rested. That is the way teachers and preachers work. I am not a sabbatarian.
At Christian Liberty which was a country place I made my home for almost four years in the family of W. A. Wilson. He was a well-to-do farmer and had an interesting family. He was a good man, but somewhat peculiar. For instance, as fast as I earned money teaching he would borrow it, giving his note drawing legal interest, and when the note was due he would pay it with the identical money he had borrowed. He would also pay the interest. I asked why he did that, "O" he would answer, "I always like to have money in my pocket." "Then besides," he would add, "a young man ought to have his money at interest." Mr. Wilson was a Christian and very generous and kind. He only charged me $1.50 per week for board. I also boarded at another period in my life in a Catholic family named Wade, for three years. They, too, were kind and generous, charging me only $1.00 per week. The father and mother were old and allowed me all the privileges about the home as I were a son. More than that: they allowed he all the liberty of a Protestant Christian, telling me to read my Bible as much as I pleased, and if I wished to offer thanks at the table to do so. This I did and they their crosses.
One Saturday, when sitting in my room in the spring of the year, looking out of the open door I saw what not one boy in a million, perhaps, ever saw. A large chicken hawk made a dive down in the yard at an old hen and her brood of little chickens. Mrs. Wade heard the noise and dashed out through the open door, and threw her apron over the hawk, and caught it and choked it to death.
One winter when teaching in Tophet, I boarded with a Methodist man. He too, was kind and generous to a fault. All he charged me was nothing. He said it was worth more to have me live with his boys than it cost to board me.
Teachers were elected to teach by ballot. There was an election called, and several soldiers, who were at home on furlough, were there, also others. They got into a wrangle about soldiers voting. They came to blows. Just then a messenger came up on horseback, at full speed, and cried out that Lincoln was assassinated. I never saw such a sudden and marked change come on a company of men as came then. The whole crowd soldiers, and others, the young candidates for the school with the rest, came close together like stricken brothers and wept even to tears. Not a word was said for several moments until they began to leave for home, the director said, men we have not voted yet. So they turned in all together without a word and voted and went home. This was early Saturday forenoon April 15th, 1865.
On another occasion I was a candidate for the teacher's place in a district where every family, except one, were Irish Catholics. The exception as a Methodist. The Methodist man was chairman of the school board. The election was called for one o'clock P. M. The leading spirit of the district was a large, old, fine looking Irishman, who had been educated for a priest. That day (it was in the spring), there was a log rolling on the leader's farm, and every man in the district was a Catholic except the chairman and myself. I was a stranger, had never been in the district before. But the Irishmen had heard of my success as a teacher in Tophet, and on their coming down to the school house after dinner to vote the leader shook hands with me and turning to the men he said, "Men, let's be after voting for the tall sapling and get back to the logs." They all voted and I received every vote but one and that was the chairman's vote. In this school, I would every morning as had been my custom elsewhere, read a small portion of the Bible, without word or comment, and offer a short prayer for God's blessing upon us through the day. I never had better behavior or as little trouble with any other school as I had this term with these Irish Catholic children.
The Catholics, however, generally oppose the public reading of the Bible and prayer in the public schools. I kindly asked a good Catholic friend one day why they opposed the reading of the Bible. I said, "The Bible is a good book." "Just so," he replied, "too good a book for the common people to read." "Ah, I think not. God has nothing too good for his children," said I. The teacher, however, that reads and prays should be a good teacher.
Referring to the fact that these voters seemed to recognize me as soon as they saw me, though they had never seen me before, reminds me that has been my experience generally through life. I never could account for people, who had only heard of me, knowing me upon first sight, unless it was because of my long black beard and porcupinish hair. There was one exception to this, however, when I was taken to be quite another person. This I must now tell.
One year I went with Elder Joseph Wilson to a church in Lawrence County, Indiana, called White River Union, to help him hold his yearly protracted meeting. It was on Sunday morning. The elder and I were seated on the rostrum when a woman and her little daughter came in and taking seats, looking up at us, when the child pointing at me whispered to her mother, "See Papa." The woman looked and thought, (so she said afterwards)—why, sure enough." I did not think he was coming. Upon second thought she knew it could not be he, for he would not be in the pulpit. The fact was that the woman and her child both thought at first without doubt that I was the husband and the father, simply because I looked like him. The name of this family was Malott, and the husband was doctor. I did not get to see him. I wish I had. I would like to see the man that I look so much alike, and even his wife and child could not tell the difference. Perhaps I could see myself then as others see me, which I, nor, any man has ever yet been able to do.
No two men or any two things are exactly alike. Nor should we always judge a man by his looks.
Brother John. Washington, Ind. An accident. An incident.
Indianapolis, Hiram. Garfield.
I must tell you one other story, boys, about how I was not known. Upon my arrival from Missouri to Indiana I went at once to your Uncle John's. They did not know I was coming. This was in the fall of 1861. Brother John had not yet returned from his school. When he did come he stopped at the woodpile and commenced to cut wood for the next day. His wife stepped out on the porch and said, "John, come in, there is a man here who wants to stay all night." "Well," said brother, "let him stay." And he kept on cutting wood. But he finally came in. I arose and said, "how do you do, sir?" He said, "Howdy." I said, "I want to stay all night." He said, "Alright, be seated." I sat down. He said, "Are you traveling?" I said, "I have been." He said, "Where are you from?" I said, "I am from Missouri." He asked, "From what part." I told him. "Why," he said, "I have two brothers living there." I thought he was mistaken, I had forgotten myself. I said, "What is the name?" He said, "Hastings." I said, "I know a W. H. Hastings there." He said, "Why, that is my brother. I also have a younger brother there, Z. S. He is a teacher and they say he has gone to preaching." I said, "Sure, I don't think he is there now."
Well, we sat there for half an hour, he asking about his brother and Missouri, and the war, and I telling what I knew. Finally his wife said, "John, don't you know that boy?" I arose and he arose and said, looking at his wife, "Know that man?" "Why, should I know him?" I extended my hand and said you ought to know me. He hesitatingly took my hand and said, "Who are you?" I said, "I am you brother, Z. S." He said, "Impossible, this cannot be Simp." (When I was a child at home, they called me Simp.) I replied, "Yes I am Simp." We could hardly make him believe.
How wonderful is life. How little we know. How much of the little we seem to forget. Yet someone says we never forget anything. I expect to know more, and know it better, in the life to come. This brother John was a grand old man, but he has been sleeping in the grave ever since Nov. 3, 1891. His good wife also sleeps. But they left one daughter and three sons, who are, at this writing, noble citizens in Daviers County, Indiana.
I was chosen President of the County Teachers Association and elected as first assistant principal to teach in Washington, the county seat of Daviers County, Ind. This town was a little city of about four thousand. It is now a beautiful city of ten or twelve thousand. While there I preached in the court house and organized a small congregation which met to hear me preach and worship in observing the Lord's Supper, on each first day of the week. Now we have a large congregation with a great church building costing many thousand dollars.
While teaching here a very sad accident occurred one Saturday. One of my pupils and a boy pupil from the room adjoining my room, taught by a lady teacher, were playing in an old barn with the barrel of an old army musket which had neither lock nor stock. The boys had the gun barrel lying horizontally across the top of a barrel, and in their play they would place percussion caps upon the nipple of the gun and strike them with a piece of iron to hear the explosion. It was my boy's time to strike the cap and just as he struck the other boy was passing in front of the muzzle of the gun, and the gun fired, tearing the poor boy in front almost in two parts, killing him instantly. It was very said indeed!
The foregoing was an accident. The following was in incident. One cold, snowy, stormy, wintry morning while we were at breakfast at my boarding house in Washington, at once we heard a wonderful crashing noise of many things fall upon the porch floor and then rush through an open door of a little room that stood at the end of the porch. My host ran out and closed the door and what do you think was caught? Not less than nine quails. We had pot-pie for dinner. The remnants of that pot-pie left over, served for dinner more or less for nearly a week until I became very tired of pot-pie. And so changed my boarding place and boarded with an old, well-to-do retired Hoosier farmer and his wife. The wife was a most excellent cook. Elder Howe, who had traveled over nearly all the states as an evangelist, says no people excel the Hoosiers for their hospitality and god things to eat.
It was about this period of my life that I attended school at the
Northwestern Christian University at Indianapolis, Indiana, and later
at Hiram, Ohio, 1865-1866. My teachers in Indianapolis were
President Benton and Prof. Nushour, and Dr. Brown. At Hiram, Errett,
Burnett, Milligan, Anderson and Atwater. It was here I saw and heard
General Garfield deliver an address. He was a great and good man.
The most scholarly, pure minded and devout man I ever saw were
Milligan and Anderson.
Prior to my attendance to the schools mentioned above I had seen but few of our great teachers and preachers. I had supposed the differences between what they knew and what the ordinary teacher and what the ordinary preacher knew was almost infinite in their favor and that their ability to tell it was very superior but, on becoming acquainted with them, I found they knew nothing more about the unseen world, heaven or hell, or sin and its forgiveness, or death and salvation, than the simple scholar and devout student of the Bible. Now do not think, Boys, for a moment that I am opposed to higher education, and University training. All these things are a great help and blessing to any person, provided, he or she accepts that wisdom that comes from God through His Bible. No man knows anything beyond the horizon of the present, except what God's Bible reveals. And faith here becomes the only means by which this knowledge is obtained. But this is not to be wondered at, for is it not a fact that we are dependent on faith for nearly all knowledge. Faith is the greatest principle in the world, unless it is love. And faith is simply belief. Happy is the man who believes all things and proves all things, and holds fast to all that is good.
A meeting. Go to Kansas, 1967. Nine Mile House. Do Stones grow? On the shelf. The Spencers. The Johnsons. Brother Rufus. March 15, 1868.
During the holidays of the year I was in school in Indianapolis I held a good meeting at Christian Liberty where I had taught and preached for a number of years. Many hearing, believed and were baptized. It was at this place afterwards that I preached my farewell sermon to old Indianans before going to Kansas. There were a great many people at this meeting. Among them a Methodist preacher who, being free to address the people, complimented me by saying that I had not only been a faithful servant of God among my own people but also among all people. He also said that while I left many friends in Indiana I would make many in Kansas. I am happy to say, I have found it even so. That preacher after ran for Governor of Indiana.
I was doing so well and had so many friends in Indiana that I had about abandoned the idea of going to Kansas, but mother, two of my brothers and my two sisters, were already in Kansas and were pleading with me to visit them at any rate. So about the first of July, 1867 I took a train from Washington, Indiana, to St. Louis, Mo, and from there I boarded a steamer for Leavenworth, Kansas, where I landed on the tenth of July, 1867. Our steamer, however, had made a landing early in the morning at Wyandotte to unload some railroad irons for the second road in Kansas. While there I steeped off on the muddy shore remarking that that was the first time I had ever dotted Kansas soil with my feet. "Well sir" said an old darky standing by, "this as a mighty big dot where you step off." I do not know to this day whether he meant the track I made or the town. Kansas City, Missouri was not big enough to stop at then, but it is the big dot of the West now. At Leavenworth and everywhere the yards, gardens, road-sides, fields, all looked barren and dead as if a fire had ran over them. The grass-hoppers had just left.
My brother Henry lived west of Leavenworth city in what was called the Nine Mile House. My brother, younger brother, Rufus, and two sisters, Mrs. Dotson, and Mrs. Sears, lived near Grasshopper Falls known now as Valley Falls.
Of course I had not been in Kansas very long until it was known that I was a young preacher. And I was called upon to preach the funeral of a most excellent lady, Mrs. Roach, who had died in the neighborhood of the Nine Mile House. This was the first time I ever preached in Kansas. It was only a few days after this that I attended a meeting held by Brethren Dibble and McCleary, a few miles west of the Nine Mile House at a place called NO. 6 and here I was invited to preach. I did do it, taking for a subject, "Growth." I remember saying in order to growth there must be union, for separation is death. Even rocks grow, but, separated into stones, they ceased to grow. Good, old, devout, scholarly brother Humber was there, and kindly criticized my sermon by saying he did not believe that rocks grow. I have never preached that sermon since, but I still think rocks do grow.
From that time, 1867, I was a faithful Sunday preacher, more or less in Kansas until I was nearly sixty years old, when I became so infirm that I submitted to a place on the shelf, where I am still waiting for transportation to the skies.
But I am not dead yet, so I will go back and tell the rest of my story. So many new friends in Kansas came about me soliciting me to stay, and teach and preach, that I agreed to do so for one year at least. Among these friends there were none better than Mr. Charley Spencer of Round Prairie. He secured for me the school at a larger salary than I had been getting in Indiana. I also had the privilege of preaching in the lower room of the Masonic building. To Mr. Spencer I preached the gospel, and taught his children to read.
He believed and was baptized, and his children grew up to be wise and good. His son, Hon. Dick Spencer now a leading lawyer of St. Joseph, Mo. learned his A. B. C. at my knees. It was also here during this year that I had the great pleasure and joy of baptizing my youngest brother, Rufus, into Christ.
In the meantime it was here I formed the acquaintance of the Johnson family, Mrs. Emily Johnson, the aged mother and six noble sons, W. L. David, W. H., J. E., J. C., and M. S. These were all good citizen and Christians. The youngest of whom, M. S. whose wife I baptized, became an able preacher of the Word, and is to this day, preaching somewhere in the state of Oklahoma. The third son, W. H. was widower, and, with my help to solemnize the contract, he took a second wife. This wedding took place on the hill across the creek from at Joseph McBride's residence (for the bride was his daughter), and this was my first wedding in Kansas. Of the weddings that followed this I will not attempt to tell you, for they are too many to be enumerated in a short story of an old preacher's life.
These Johnsons all sold their possessions in Leavenworth County and at the suggestion of Pardee Butler, moved north into Atchison Co. and settled in a new community called Pardee Station. The Johnsons earnestly solicited me to follow them to their new place and teach and preach in a large new school house that had been erected at the station. So in the spring, 1868, I visited Pardee Station, and preached. It happened that this Sunday was the 15th day of March, and consequently my thirtieth birthday anniversary.
This was the first time I ever preached in Atchison County. It was here and at this time that I met Elder Pardee Butler for the first time in life, and his family, consisting of his wife, two sons George C. 15 years old and Charley P. 9 years old, and a little grown daughter Rosetta, 23 years old of whom I will speak more fully later on.
South Cedar. An aged Methodist. A quick Irishman. Webster's blue back spelling book. The world was not turned upside down, but the door turned on its hinges.
The school board at Pardee Station was not ready to give me an answer about school, so I left them, promising the Johnsons that I would return in the fall. I had a call to go to South Cedar in Jackson County and teach and preach. This I did during the spring and summer and after the close of my school in July and August I called Evangelist J. H. Bauserman to come and help in a protracted meeting. He came and the meeting started off nicely, but on the second or third day, Brother Bauserman was called home on account of his wife's severe sickness. He could not return, but I went on with the meeting and it proved to be one of the best meetings I ever held. Quite a number believed and were baptized. The meeting was held in a large natural grove near where there was much water, and was lighted with great torch lights. At nearly every service people would come forward and make the good confession, and often were baptized the same hour, even the same hour of the night.
One day an old man, seventy two years old, and six feet four inches tall, a Christian in the Methodist church for many years, came to me and asked me if I would baptize (immerse) him and let him remain in the Methodist church. I said, "Certainly, I will baptize any man who wants to be if he believes in the divinity of Christ." He was baptized (immersed) and was a happy man.
At another time when I had baptized some, and was coming up out of the water, I said, "If anyone else is ready to obey his Master I will gladly bury him with his Lord in Baptism."
An Irishman, who had been faithfully attending the preaching pulled off his coat, and came down into the water, meeting me, he took me by the hand and lead me back into the deeper water. When I asked him if he believed with all his heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, he answered, "Yes, for—today." I dipped him, and he came up out of the water a happy man.
My school here was very pleasant in almost every respect. Only one incident occurred that was otherwise, and that turned out well. A family of one brother and two grown sisters had only one speller between them. I complained and sent word several times to their father that he ought to get a speller for each of his children. So one day at noon he came over to school and took up a book and sat down by me with the open book and said, "One book is enough for three. I can see and so can you so could another on the other side of me. One book is enough for three, I shall buy no more books." "I see," I said. "Goodbye" he said, and off he went. After that I had the brother sit between the two sisters and all study from the same book. Now at this time McGuffey's spellers were the only spellers used in all the schools. Webster's had been out of use for almost a generation, but, in about a week after this father had called at school, as stated above, he went at Atchison City and somehow and somewhere he found and procured three new Webster's old blue back spelling books, and his children brought them to school to use. When I saw them I said, "Sure, these are the best books ever made,—the very kind I studied when I was a boy. Maybe your father can secure enough for the whole school. And since one is enough for three, it would not take so many." "There is only this trouble. Until we can make the change, you three will have to be in a class by yourselves." So I kept the brother and two sisters in a class, with their blue back spellers, to themselves. But, listen, in about a week more the class of three came to school each with McGuffey's speller.
Sometimes the best way to overcome an adversary is to agree with him.
One Saturday evening I went across to North Cedar to preach and when I got to the school house, while there was a large crowd in the yard waiting to hear me, the door to the school house was locked and the trustees said, it should not be opened for me to preach. An old disciple of Christ, who lived nearby, said that I was welcome to preach in his house. I said to the crowd, "If you will follow me over there, I will preach." Nearly everyone followed. I simply preached the truth, Christ, and in my sermon referred to that text which says something about "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also."
Well, the next morning the world had the same side up as before only that school house door had turned on its hinges and was wide open for me to come in and preach. Which I did, morning and evening, and was invited back again and again.
Holton. Netawaka. All said, "Amen." Farmington. Married.
Our home. Little Wiley Warren.
While teaching and preaching here on South Cedar I began preaching on Sundays at Holton. I preached in the school house, court house, or any empty room that might be found that was suitable. I found suitable headquarters for my stay in the hospitable home of an old disciple of Quaker origin whom everybody called Uncle Tommy Adamson. He was a true lover of God.
The Presbyterians kindly offered me their house to occupy when they were not using it. My recollection is, that theirs was the only church in the town at that time. The Methodist, who like we had been preaching in the school house about this time, possibly a little earlier, had erected a new, brick church building. Well, the gospel was preached and a number seemed interested and brother J. H. Bauserman State Evangelist was called to help in a meeting and the results was, as usual, some hearing, believed and were baptized. At the close of the meeting the converts were left pledged to meet on the Lord's Day to worship God. And I promised to meet with them every two weeks to preach to them and worship with them. This I did for a year or two, going afterwards on the Central Branch as far as Netawaka and then across on a public hack. For I soon returned to Pardee Station (Farmington).
Speaking of Netawaka, reminds me of being called there in later life to marry a young Methodist gentleman to a young Mormon lady. And this reminds me that I have married people of nearly all creeds, colors and nationalities. So of funerals. The Mormon preacher was at the Netawaka wedding, but I did not know it until the wedding was over. To this day I do not know why I was called to this wedding. I was never treated more kindly and hospitably at any other wedding. And here let me say that the money I have received for weddings and funerals, I think is more than I ever received for preaching.
In Netawaka on that day, in the afternoon, I attended the Mormon public worship. There were about sixty present, and they, except the groom and his bride, were old people and foreigners. Although the preacher was present there was no preaching. It was a social, song and prayer service, and every man and woman took a part except the newly married couple.
When all had had their turn, an elder, (the father of the bride) looked at me and said, "Brother you have plenty of time, if you have anything to say, say it." This was very unexpected to me, but I stood up and said, "Brethren, if you will allow me to call you brethren, this is the first time I ever attended your services, and I must confess that the service, as it seems to me, is much like the old fashion services of the Methodist and disciples that I attended when a little boy with my mother, and I feel very comfortable and much at home. They all said "Amen."
From South Cedar I returned to Farmington and found a nine month's school waiting for me at fifty dollars per month. So I accepted the work and continued it for five years at an advanced salary of sixty-five dollars per month. In the meantime, June the 28th, 1870, I was married to Miss Rosetta Butler who still lives to bless my life, and is still a true helpmeet in my old age. Shortly after our marriage we begin the erection of a new, farm home for ourselves about one-half mile west of the station. It was not long until we had a home, not a palace, but a home though humble, yet tidy, convenient and good enough for a queen, as in fact, it was occupied by a queen. Nor do I think, boys, could anything but compliments be placed by our old neighbors upon the way things were kept all about our farm when you were there. Do you remember the old Farm? And let me say just here that while God has always been good to me and comparatively my whole life has been a happy one no period of it was more happy, more hopeful and sweet than the few years in our old home where I was the head, your mother the queen and you children were about our knees.
For just twenty-five years we (wife and I) lived at Farmington. This is just half of the life of my man-hood days. Here all our children were born. By us no threshold was ever crossed more than this one. No paths were ever trodden more frequently than the paths to the well, the barn and the post-office, and the church. No neighbors were ever so long ours in kindness and love. No birds ever sang so much and sweetly as those in the very trees that had been planted by our own hands. And no home was ever more truly dedicated day by day to Almighty God upon bended knee and in the reading of His word.
Do you remember the old home, boys? But life is not always sweetness. It cannot be, under the present sin-curst environments. The first bitter experience and great sorrow that came to us, was when death came our way on the 21st day of July 1877, and took away our fourth little boy whom we had called Wiley Warren. He was only 1 year, 6 months and 17 days old.
I had preached the funerals of many little children before the death of our little boy, and had thought that I knew how to sympathize with parents who had to bury their children, but I did not. If I were not an old preacher I would like to say now what I have said often when younger, that everything else being equal, an old preacher is better to preach, and do pastoral work for a congregation than a young one.
110 years. 28th of June, 1884. 4 and 3.
Closing school at Farmington in 1873, I quit teaching and took up farming and preaching, as I had teaching and preaching until the year 1907 when I retired at the age of 70. So then I attended school off and on 10 years, taught 15 years, farmed 35 years, preached 50 years, working in the aggregate 110 years in a life of 70. The explanation is that some people can do two things or more at one and the same time.
On the 28th of June, 1884, indicating just exactly fourteen years of our (wife's and my) married life, our youngest child was born. In the meantime during these fourteen years to us (wife and me) were born seven children viz: Harry H. April 3rd, 1871. Paul P. October 22nd, 1872. Otho O. April 8, 1874. Wiley W. January 4th, 1876. Clara C. September 24th, 1877. Edith E. January 31st. 1881, Milo M. June 28th 1884. Do you notice that the above children each has double initials. This happened so with the two first, with the others it was purposed so. All of these children were born in the same home, Farmington, Atchison County, Kansas. But now the parents are together, alone and lonesome. Not a child near, only in memory. Yet the seven are. Four are here— In St. Louis, Harry. In Prescott, Paul. In Independence, Otho. In New York, Milo. In Heaven three. Little Wiley went on the 21st day of July 1877. Jesus said of him, "Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." Edith when on the 8th day of November, 1902. Elder H. E. Ballou said of her: "Fallen Asleep."
Miss Edith Hastings, daughter of Elder Z. S. Hastings, granddaughter of Pardee Butler, November 8th, 1902. Age twenty-one years. Was born of water and of the Spirit February 2, 1894. F. M. Hooton, minister of the house at Pardee, in which her father and grandfather preached and which services in memoriam were held. Dear old house, if thy walls could speak how many, how many things thou woulds't say. Thou woulds't tell what we can feel, but cannot speak of or write of. Dear, pure Edith. Ten days of unalarming illness—sudden death. A surprise to all but her. A great shock. Did the Lord tell her "tonsillitis" is something fatal?
"May heaven's blessings rest on the family, noble, useful family. Earthly home is sad now. Heavenly home still nearer and dearer. And on the church she loved, on the Senior C. E.—we will not forget her pure sweet talks there—on the Junior C. E. she organized and superintended until death. On her assistant superintendent and bosom friend, Miss Maude Tucker. On the school she taught, on students of county Normal at Effingham, who loved her, on one noble young student of Drake University who came to sit among the mourners as though he was already one of the family. All love her at Drake—Yes everywhere."
Clara went on the 23rd day of May, 1906. Mrs. Prof. J. W. Wilson said of her:
"A Beautiful Life"
Clara C. Hastings was born at Farmington, Kansas, Sept. 24, 1877. Married June 28th 1905. Died May 20th, 1906. Graduated from the A. C. H. S. in the class of '98 and later completed the teachers' course in Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. Taught nearly two years in primary grades at Maxwell, Iowa. Resigned during the second year to stay with her parents after the death of her sister Edith. Spent one year in Muscotah, Kansa, as primary teacher.
"On June the 28th, 1905 she married Charles G. Sprong, and their married life was one of happiness, with every prospect of happiness and usefulness before them. On May 12, 1906 twin daughters came to bless their home. Four days later little Edith died and on May 23, Clara closed her eyes on all things earthly and her Heavenly Father called he home. A bereaved husband, a father, mother, four brothers and numerous friends mourn her loss. Her life was short but well lived, for she spent it in doing good. A kind smile and a kind word for everyone was characteristic of her. Many evidences of her love and sympathy for others were shown at the funeral by the expressions of sympathy from the little children and aged alike.
When all hope of life was abandoned and it was thought best by friends to tell her the end was near, her husband gently reminded her of little Edith in heaven, and told her she would soon be with her. Although a little surprised for she thought she was better, she said it was all right if it was God's will. Her last hours were spend in comforting those left behind and many loving messages she gave them that will be a comfort to them and a help to lessen the sting of death. Her bright mind was active to the last. She called for paper and pencil and named over many friends to whom she wished messages sent. Repeating with her father the Lord's Prayer, and telling them not to mourn for her, her bright pure life closed. She died as she had lived—a Christian. The funeral services were held at the Potter church, conducted by Rev. Hilton of Atchison. The floral tribute was beautiful. A large number of people were present, but owing to the distance a great many were unable to attend. Those from Effingham were Hiss Speer, Emma Ellis, Ollie Wilson, Mabel Weaver, Nellie Grable, Mrs. J. W. Wilson, Mollie Campbell, J. W. Campbell and Ertel Weaver.
Evangelist Frank Richard wrote of her: "The memory of such a life is as the lingering twilight after the golden sun has set. It is the precious memory of a life service. Service to her was a genuine pleasure. For her Master she served whose guiding hand she trusted. Her life was genuine, sweet and gentle. A deep religious fervor characterized it throughout. Pious, consecrated and devout she was. Her services in the church were highly appreciated. She loved the church. Her splendid counsel and example were of inestimable worth to the young people both in and out of the church. In her home the sweetness of her life was a constant pleasure to her friends and loved ones. To permeate the home with a Christian spirit was to her a high aim."
The weight of sorrow brought on us by the death of these two noble daughters is still so heavy as to bring tears to our eyes and sadness to our hearts. But we hope in God.
Little Ethel, one of the twins, still lives with her father and a kind step-mother. May the mantle of her dear mother's goodness fall upon her and she grow up to be good and happy.
Places. "Uncle Daniel." Will Price. Visit Ind. 1881.
Return. Golden Rule.
But to return a few years in the events of my humble life, I find that I attended my first State Teachers' Association in Kansas in 1869.
After I quit teaching I took up regular farming but kept up Sunday preaching all these many years. Preaching at Farmington, Pardee, Pleasant Grove, Crooked Creek, Lancaster, Wolf River, Holton, Whiting Goff, Round Prairie, Valley Falls, Atchison, Hiawatha, Highland, Netawaka, Corning, Dyke's School House, Topeka, Winthrop, Winchester, Easton, Nortonville, Effingham, Muscotah and Williamstown. Of course I did not preach regularly very long for many of these places but simply made evangelical visits. But for some of them I preached regularly a number of years.
I preached in Wolf River in Brown County for two years. Every preacher likes to have wherever he preaches a place, or home, he can call his headquarters. Well, at Wolf River Daniel Miller's home was my home. Uncle Daniel Miller (everybody called him Uncle Daniel) was a devout disciple, and one of the most charitable and hospitable men I ever knew. Uncle Daniel was a well-to-do farmer and many were the poor who received from his charitable hand wood, hay, corn, meat, potatoes, apples and money. And, if the preacher's sum was lacking he footed the bill.
I remember one Sunday morning after the sermon I had a double wedding which I solemnized in one ceremony, and Uncle Daniel had no bill to augment that day. I usually received for preaching from $5 to $10 per day. But that day I had more than twice that amount.
Many years after the wedding referred to above, I saw a notice in the newspaper that the Hon. Will Price, candidate for the senate, would speak in Woodman Hall. I attended the meeting. The speaker came to me and taking me by the hand said, "Elder, how-do-you-do?" I said, "How do you do? But I do not know you." He said, "Do you remember the double wedding on Wolf River some years ago?" "Yes," I said, "But you are certainly not the young, bashful, scared, Will Price of that event." "I am he" he said, and sure enough he was he. But now, so different, large, handsome, wise and brave. All boys ought to grow to be men, for men are what we need in this old, sinful, abnormal world.
In 1881 after I had been away from old Indiana my native home for about fourteen years, I returned and visited the scenes of my early life. Many were the changes—a passing of the old, and a coming of the new, bringing to me a mingling of sadness and gladness. Sad, that so much I loved before and gone. Glad that so much new had come that was good. Everywhere I had been known I was greeted with much love, respect and honor. So I was constrained to preach again at the old altars. And one young man even persuaded me to marry him to a pretty girl because he said he wanted to marry her and she was willing. So I preached again at old Liberty where I had preached and taught more perhaps than at any other place in the State. I took for my subject "Unbelief." using as a text the prayer of the poor man whose son had a dumb spirit,—"Lord, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief." But, where all may seen to be gladness and joy and faith, sin, or its effect, is always lurking around somewhere nearby.
As I was preaching I recognized in the back part of the audience a man with tears in his eyes. He was a strong intelligent man of the community. He was about my age and fifteen years before this time, when we were both younger I heard him confess with his mouth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and I with by own hands baptized him into Christ.
After the sermon as he came to me, I said, "Sir, what mean these tears, are they tears of joy or tears of sorrow?" He answered, "Tears of sin, I suppose, for while I was listening to you preach I was only wishing that I could have the strong faith which you seem to have." He had lost his faith by forgetting his first love. "He that loves not, obeys not. Not everyone that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of my father, which is in Heaven, Jesus."
Notwithstanding the many attractions of interest, love and friendship among my relatives, and friends of old Indiana I had not been there four weeks until my heart was fully set to return to Kansas. And why not? Had I not left there a dear wife and five little children? Count, boys, how old you were then. Clara and Edith also. Edith was less than a year old. But I had fondled her so much upon my knees and call her by "Great Blue Eyes" and sang to her so much
"Baby Bunn baby bunn
Great Blue Eyes
Looking now so merry
Now so very wise."
That upon my return home on the night train, when on entering the home in the darkness of the night, that I might not frighten anyone I call out, "Where are my big blue eyes?" Little Edith being awake and hearing me, cried out at once, "Papa, Papa."
Upon my return home I resumed my work. Crooked Creek was one of my regular places for preaching quite a while. I remember preaching there a sermon on the Golden Rule so called. In my discourse I used the same basic principles and words that Christ used in his Sermon on the Mount. But afterwards a certain disciple said, "It is no use to preach that way, for no one can live up to such teaching." But it turned out in a few years afterwards that that disciple made, (and is to this day) one of the most faithful, obedient and sacrificing members of the Church of God. Thus it seems that the Word preached may kill or make alive. In this case it seems to have done both.
In the labors of my life as a preacher, my work was mainly confined to the churches, and not to the world. I knew nothing however but to preach the gospel and teach the word. So I think the gospel is the power of God to salvation to both saints and sinners.
At another place one had heard, believed and wanted to be baptized, but her husband said, "He who baptizes my wife endangers his life." I said to the believer, "I will risk it." I baptized her. In two weeks I preached again and at the end of the sermon that poor man came to me and said, "I have been wrong. I want to confess Jesus and be immersed." I baptized him. Some years after that I preached the funerals of both. Their lives had not been perfect but in their deaths there was hope. We live by hope. We are saved by hope. Let us hope in God. Hope is one of a trio of the greatest principles in the world.
Politics. Topeka. A vote. A snow storm. Sister Lottie.
Whiting. Pleasant Grove. Atchison.
There are many pleasant things connected with preaching and sometimes things are not so pleasant. Of course, the most pleasant of all to the true, conscientious preacher, is turning many from wrong to right, to salvation from sin and all its consequences. To know that you have preached righteousness and lived a life worthy of imitation, fills the cup of joy to overflowing.
While I have been teacher, farmer and preacher for years and years and at one time was elected to a State office, I never was a politician in the first sense of the word. Unfortunately the bad sense of the word has become the first. There is a meaning in politics in which all may be and should be politicians.
After I had taught and stood in the front rank of teachers, I thought I was entitled to be superintendent of schools, but because I would not stand as a politician in its bad sense I was turned down. Turned down because while right prevailed, wrong did much more prevail at that time. It was in the time of the saloons.
But they say it is a poor rule that does not work both ways. So without my seeking or asking for it, in the fall 1875 I was nominated and elected to the office of State Representative: and this because I was a politician in the true and better sense of the word, a Christian gentleman and pure statesman. And yet, it was the time of saloons. And yet, again righteousness did abound but sin did much more abound. I wondered why I was chosen, until a friend explained it was because they wanted to give credibility to the ticket. To this day, I do not know whether it was a compliment or not. But is made no difference, it was at the State Capitol with over a hundred other law-makers in the session of the centennial year, and enjoyed it. For I found many good men and learned gentlemen not a few. And was honored by being placed at the head of the education committee and placed on two or three other committees also. Among the many votes and things I did, I shall always remember with pleasure and pride one. I was one of the six first to case a vote for the first temperance resolutions. I have lived to see temperance prevail and the saloons to go. The above is briefly the political paragraph of my life story and I am willing that it may go up to the Judge of all the earth.
While in Topeka I found but one family who were simply disciples of Christ, but the Baptist disciples of Christ invited me to preach in their house which stood near the Capitol building. Neither the church building nor the Capitol building was completed at that time.
At the close of the legislature a free excursion to the Rocky Mountains was offered to all the members, but I declined to go, for I was anxious to go home to a loved wife and four little boys whose names I remember were Harry, Paul, Otho and Wiley. I always was a great lover of home. The way it turned out I was truly glad that I did not go to the excursion, for at that time, on the 27th day of March, 1876, there fell the greatest snow-storm I ever saw in all my life. And the excursionists were snowbound in the Rocky Mountains many days. Here in Kansas the snow drifted, in many places, from fifteen to twenty feet deep, and it was almost May before the roads were passable to the city of Atchison, and many other places.
On the 21st day of this snowy month of March my youngest sister, Mrs. Charlotte Ann Sears departed this life, at her home near Logan, Kansas, aged 34 years, 9 months and 18 days. She was the sister playmate of my childhood days, being about three years younger than I. Years afterwards I visited her grave in the cemetery near Logan and the next day preached in the church building of the town, on the Christian's Hope. This was the third death of my father's family, counting father himself.
I was the first to preach at Whiting, preaching in a large upper room, until the disciples who had been called together built a house, and dedicated it to God. In this house, I continued to preach. That house stands unto this day and the disciples still worship there. Among the many that were there then whom I remember favorably and with pleasure remain but few, among them the efficient and scholarly Dr. Woodell. But the Doctor now, like the writer of these lines, is old and near the end.
Goffs too, was another place where I was the first to preach, beginning in the school house and ending in a new church building, where the disciples worship unto this day. The pleasant recollection of the names of Brockman, Springer and others will always be associated with my remembrances at Goffs. It is said that we never forget anything. I believe this only in part. I think the bad will be forgotten while the good will be remembered forever. Even the good Lord has promised that he will remember our sins no more. So I think He will let us forget the bad forever.
So, too, Pleasant Grove, a country church just south of Effingham one of the best country churches I ever knew, is where I preached from the beginning, (I mean my beginning in Kansas) regularly for many years. It was in the spring of 1868 that two brothers, John and Jacob Graves, of Pleasant Grove came to Round Prairie where I was teaching and preaching to hear me, and invited me to Pleasant Grove. I never found a better preacher's home then the home of Jacob Graves. Good man, he has gone to this reward in the skies. Brother John Graves still lives and stands among the first on the list of my old friends, and in the estimation of all as one of the best men in the world.
When I think of the fellowship, the kindness, the friendship and the love of the disciples of Christ, I think and know that His Christianity is the best thing in the world, and the only thing, as an organization, that is absolutely necessary for a man to join. In an early period of the church in Atchison I frequently preached in a small upper room which would seat about 50 people. This hall was furnished us free by Gen. W. W. Guthrie.
I remember being in the city one day and remained until evening to see the fireworks. As I was going down town I met a man who said to me, "Brother, where are you going." I told him. He said, "Well, you turn around and go with me to prayer meeting, and then we will have time to see the fireworks." I asked, "Where is the prayer meeting?" The answer was, "In the little upper room where you have preached. I turned around and went, and I still think it is a good thing to do— to turn around and go to prayer meeting. When we got to the place of prayer, the minister, M. P. Hayden and three women were there. With our augmentation there were, in all, six. But we felt, before the service was over, that another was present, even He who said, "When two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
Atchison has a congregation now of a hundred times six. Some of whom are my children in the gospel. I always fell especially proud of John A. Fletcher and his wife because they are so good, and because I taught them their letters, baptized them, and married them. This was at Farmington. And many others at Farmington were mine by teaching, preaching, marrying and burying. I lived, taught and preached longer at Farmington than any other place. I had in one family seven weddings, and almost as many funerals. Over in the Pleasant Grove neighborhood I had nine wedding in one family. Some, of whom at this time, are my door neighbors and seem like my own children.
T. B. McCleary. 1888 Sunday schools. Giants. Deaths. John.
Elizabeth. Effingham, 3-1-1885. A fire.
That man I met going to prayer meeting was J. B. McCleary, with whom I am at the present time associated in the Eldership of the church at Effingham. We have known each other all these years since. Brother McCleary is my senior exactly nine years to a day. For many years we have been eating birth-day dinners together, first at his house and then at mine, until his good wife died. Since then we have always tried to have brother Mc. To eat with us. And my good wife has for nearly forty years prepared a chicken pie for my birthday dinner.
The year 1888 brought to both me and my dear wife a weight of sadness. My good old mother passed away from the home of here youngest son in Harper County at the advanced age of four score years, two months, and twenty-six days.
Zettie's beloved father departed this life at the age of three score and two years, seven months and ten days, from his home one mile east of Farmington. Why sadness? These loved parents had lived to good old ages. Aha! This sadness will work out for us an eternal weight of gladness someday.
The story of my life would not be complete if I did not add the part I have taken in the general or union Sunday School work of Atchison Co. The Atchison Country Sunday School Union Association was organized at Muscotah in the year 1870. I was present. This association has held an annual Convention each year since its organization and I have missed but two meetings. No one has been more faithful in attendance than that. Then with few exceptions I have always had a place on the programs. For five terms, or years I was secretary and for two, president. But, for leadership and faithful, untiring service in this great work, the need of praise must go to Issac Maris of the Seventh day lane. In all the work of the Bible Schools of this country I have always felt, during these four decades, that it was an honor t try to stand as a second to Issac Maris is a friend. In all my life's labor as a Sunday School worker I have associated with no one so long and pleasantly as a coworker as Isaac Maris.
I must tell you just one instance of our lives. Mr. Maris is two years older than I am, and two inches taller, he being 6 feet, 4 inches and I 6 feet and 2 inches. Well, brother Maris and I attended together a district Sunday School Convention in the city of Horton. The first evening was the children's hour. Many children were there, seated on the front seats of the large hall. E. O. Excell was leading the children in song. Brother Maris and I were seated just behind the children when one little fellow was overhead to say to another, referring to us, "Who am them two big fellows?" His seat-mate replied, "Don't you know them fellows? They are two Sunday School giants from Atchison country." We took that and still take it as a great compliment.
In the fall of 1891 the sad intelligence came to me from Indiana that my brother John A. Hastings was dead. At his death he was fifty-nine years and fourteen days old. Brother was a good man, a devout Christian. Of his family still living there are one daughter and three sons, all noble, Christian citizens of Washington, Indiana. One of the boys is a newspaper publisher, the other two are able lawyers.
A few years later my oldest sister Nancy Elizabeth who lived in Oregon, passed away at the age of 62 years, 2 months and 10 days. Of her family only one son, Reuben Edgar Peyton is living. He lives at Peyton, Oregon. At this writing I have only two brothers left. One, Henry, about ten years my senior, the other, Rufus, about ten years my junior.
In the fall of 1894 I was elected a trustee of the Atchison county High School, and made secretary of the Board, and held this position for six years being elected the second time. That same fall we sold our farm, 130 acres just east of Farmington for $5,500 and bought a farm 80 acres, just east of Effingham for $4600, and moved to it on the 1st day of March, 1895. At this time only three of our children were at home, Clara, Edith and Milo. Harry, Paul and Otho were off doing for themselves. Harry had attended school at Holton and Lawrence. Paul had graduated at a Business College in Kansas City, Mo. Otho had graduated at the county High School. The girls and Milo each afterwards graduated at the County High School, and the girls attended school at Drake University, and Milo graduated from the State Agricultural College at Manhattan, Kansas.
On the night of the same day I was elected trustee, the High School burned to the ground. We could see, the next morning, from Farmington, where we then lived, the flames and smoke still ascending. The first thing after the fire was for the Board to secure a place or places to continue the school. A mass meeting was called in the Presbyterian Church. I attended the meeting and was called to the chair. Through the energy, enthusiasm and sacrifice of the citizens, especially Mr. Frank Wallack, the resident member of the board and Principal Mr. Hunter, Assistant Prin. J. W. Wilson, and the suggestion of Pres. Snow of the State University, who happened to be present, the school was running the next day in the churches and suitable vacant rooms that could be found in the town.
The new board was organized the 1st Tuesday in January, and the first business of importance was the securing the insurance money, and the building of a new house. There was some delay, caused by not being able to adjust matters with the insurance companies, and collect the money. Finally, however, every cent was collected and a new building was erected and stands to this day, and Atchison Country has a high school second to none in the state.
Our move from Farmington to Effingham was the only move we had ever made. It being only six miles, it was suggested that we move everything worth moving, which when accomplished proved to be a task of fifty-two wagon loads.
Effingham, Church. S. S. Muscotah. 1899. Second visit back to old Indiana. The Captain. Return to Kansas. St. Louis. Return. Clara. Home. Waiting.
Our reasons for locating at Effingham were, the civility of the town, the beauty of the country, and the advantage of the High School. True, there was no congregation of Christians, nor ever had been except those with human named added, but my life up to this time, for thirty-five years had been spent in trying to persuade Christians to be one, and organize simply as Christians. So I concluded I would continue to do the same thing in Effingham. Please note that I never use the name disciple or Christian in any sectarian sense. Well, I had not been here long until I found Christians who invited me to preach in their meeting houses when not occupied by themselves. Notably among them were Uncle Ben Wallack, of the Lutheran church, and William Reece of the South M. E. Church.
Few, if any disciples in the movement for unity, had ever preached in Effingham. I had been called several times to the town to preach funerals, but that was all. So I commenced preaching in the Mr. E. Church South on Sundays and having preached a few times, I requested that at our next meeting all disciples or Christians, (I use these names as synonyms) who were not members of any congregation, to remain after the sermon. This they did, and I addressed them in the substance as follows: "Beloved disciples of Christ, for such your action proves you to be, my purpose in requesting you to remain today is to get better acquainted with you, and possibly organize ourselves into a church of Christ. In order to further carry out these purposes, I will, by you permission ask each a direct question and take your names, thus enrolling you as members of a church of Christ in Effingham. So I took paper and pencil in hand and asked each one the same question, viz: "Are you a Christian?" and took the name of each. The answer of each one to the question was simply "yes." except one lady who said, "Yes, in the Baptist church." I said, "All right, let me take your name and since there is no Baptist Church in Effingham, you go along with us, without the Baptist name." She consented, and she is to this day a member in good standing and full fellowship and nearly all her children have become Christians too.
There was enrolled 32 names that day, and this was the beginning of the Christian church in Effingham.
From this number myself, Henry Shell, Sr., and J. W. Jones were elected Elders and brethren J. W. Wilson, J. M. Shell and C. M. Gregory were elected Deacons. This was in the month of May, 1895. I preached on for sometime, but the infirmities of the flesh and old age creeping upon me I had to give up preaching. So for about 12 or 15 years I have preached but little. Indeed for many years before I quit preaching I preached under a great weakness of the flesh.
In the meantime the observance of the Lord's Supper was kept up each
Lord's Day, and a Sunday School had been organized with the M. E.
South Christians and ourselves working together, by electing Prof. J.
W. Wilson as Superintendent.
In the summer of 1895 Evangelist O. L. Cook held a meeting of fifteen or twenty days under an arbor on Main Street. At that meeting the number of members was increased to seventy, and the church and Sunday School were more fully organized, and have been meeting regularly on the Lord's Day, and are at this time meeting in their own brick veneered building, on Elizabeth Street. All these years I have had the honor and responsibility of being the Senior Elder.
From the beginning to the present, 1911, there have been 448 added to the church roll. At present the church owes nothing and is having preaching all the time by Frank Richard, an able and conscientious minister of the Gospel. The church, by removals, decrease almost as fast as it increases. The membership at this writing is about 150.
Muscotah is a thriving little city just west of Effingham. There are but few disciples there except those in the churches of the town. I have preached there a few times. Once the funeral of a little girl, name Clara Hastings, but she was no kin to us. At other times the funerals of a very aged man and wife named Mooney. The wife was an own niece of Alexander Campbell. She was a very good and learned woman.
In 1899 with Clara who was in her 22nd year, I made a second trip back to old Indiana. It had been eighteen years since the other trip. The eighteen years had made many wonderful changes. So much so that I felt almost like a stranger in a strange land. Had it not been for the sweet, bright, joyful, spirit of the dear daughter that accompanied me, the trip would have hardly been tolerable. O, the joy of the father whose sons and daughters rise up in his old age and bless and honor him! It was on this very visit when Captain Hastings, hearing me talk of my boys and girls, said to me, "Cousin Simpson, I see that you, like your dear old mother, love your children. I never knew a mother that loved her children more than she did." "True, Captain", I said, "I have always like the extremes of age, the young and the old, and of course I like my own children. I think when they were little about my knees was the happiest period of my life."
We returned home to dear old Kansas—to our home near Effingham, but it was not like it was at the first return eighteen years before when the buildings were in their home nest, and great blue eyes were looking out for me. But now some had already flown and others were about ready. True, your dear old mother was there, and Edith too, and Milo were there but in three short years Edith took her flight in company with the angels to the skies to return no more.
In 1904 your mother and I went to St. Louis to see the World's Fair, and to attend the National Convention of the disciples of Christ. We made our home at Harry's and so enjoyed the wonderful sights at the Fair, and feasted upon the rich spiritual things of the Convention.
Once again we, (your mother and I this time) returned to our humble home. Do you know, boys, that there is no place like home? Well, this is true, if home is home. But I declare to you when it comes to taking your place at the old dining table and all the places on each side of its full length are empty and only the two end places are occupied, it is lonesome. Only one more leaving and this was true of your father and mother's table. For when Clara on the 28th day of June, 1905 the thirty-fifth anniversary of her father and mother's marriage and the twenty first anniversary of her brother Milo's birth, was married to Mr. Charles G. Sprong, the last place of the children was vacated, and we were left alone.
But the heavier weight of sadness and sorrow did not come until, within less than a year from Clara's happy marriage, death came for her. And she was accompanied by the angels into the unseen world of Glory.
In our lonesomeness we exchanged our farm home for a home in Effingham, and moved to it September 19th, 1907. And here I rest, trusting and hoping in God.
Some day when I cannot, will you please fill out the blanks below and that will be the beginning of the end.
Born March 15th, 1838
Died ________ ____ ______.
End of Project Gutenberg's Autobiography of Z. S. Hastings, by Z. S. Hastings