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Title: The Lumberjack Sky Pilot

Author: Thomas D. Whittles

Release date: June 14, 2013 [eBook #42945]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Greg Bergquist, Charlie Howard, and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)


Transcriber's note: Table of Contents added by Transcriber.


I. The Lumberjacks and the Lumberjack Sky Pilot. 13
II. The Work at Barnum, Minnesota. 33
III. In the Heart of the Logging District. 51
IV. The Lumberjack in the Camps. 71
V. A View of the Camp Services. 95
VI. Itinerating in the Camps. 123
VII. Work in the Lumber Towns. 153
VIII. Muscular Christianity. 183
IX. The Field and Its Possibilities. 223





The Winona Publishing Company



The intent of this little volume is not to glorify a man, but to present the parish of the pines. Imagination has little part in its pages, for the incidents are actual happenings and the descriptions are taken from life. The condition of the foresters is really the theme, although the title draws attention to the missionary. Because the Rev. Frank E. Higgins has given himself devotedly to the men of forest and river, I have chosen his experiences as hooks on which to hang the pictures of pinery life. Mr. Higgins has labored with no thought of fame, but with devotion to God and man; and so I write not to exalt the missionary, but to introduce you to his interesting parishioners.

I have written with love because I know the Sky Pilot. I have written with prayerful longing because I know the lumberjacks. If through my unskilled effort you become interested in the isolated, wayward woodsmen, I shall be fully repaid.

March, 1908.

T. D. W.


"Men who plow the sea, spend they may—and free,
But nowhere is there prodigal among those careless Jacks
Who will toss the hard won spoil of a year of lusty toil
Like the Prodigals of Pickpole and the Ishmaels of the Ax."

Holman Day.





It has long been felt by those familiar with the human side of the forest life that its call should be heard, and that the efforts of devoted hearts to minister to the peculiar needs of the men behind the axe and the saw should be made known. This volume is a timely response to that desire. Through a veritable forest of material the author safely arrives with us at the camp-fire and heart-fire of the lumberjack. Most writers must create their own heroes; ours found his awaiting him, for God created Frank E. Higgins, the hero of this book. It is just like God to make such a man when there is such a work to be done. It shows us how busy Providence is in human affairs. The least we can do in return is to know that man and get his message.

The dumb creatures of the wood have just now almost a superfluity of exponents6 and disciples. The humanity of the woods is just beginning to have its champions.

The Lure of the Wild has long prevailed to call men forth to kill, or prospect, or sin, but in a lovelier guise it will possess the readers of this book to make them enter the Wild to pity, love, and save. To most of them this narrative will come as a surprise. It may even raise the question of possible exaggeration as to the extent of human suffering and degradation involved in the simple task of felling the forests to meet the needs of a growing nation. To those, however, who have been over the trail, it will appeal as a moderate but faithful picture of scenes of intensest pathos and tragedy which are but commonplace in the parish of the Sky Pilot to the Lumberjacks.

The fierceness with which evil hunts its human prey, and makes strong men of our own day and nation no better than the old galley-slave, toiling to enrich their brutal masters, can be only partially set forth in the limits of these pages. We shall all be made better neighbors to our homeless brothers in the wilderness by following Mr. Whittles' surprising and fascinating story7 and by walking in the footsteps of the modest missionary of the Cross, of whom he writes, on his round of mercy through camp and brush, for whose zeal the winter's blast is never too severe, and whose love for souls melts a pathway through drifted snow. We shall be reminded afresh of how rough is the work and how great the human sacrifice by which the wants of civilization are satisfied. We shall also be moved to resolve that the amount of the vicarious suffering of men for this end shall be reduced of all that portion of it that comes through our indifference and the activity of evil. This narrative adds a unique and valuable chapter to the records of our country. It will be read with gratitude by every one, who for whatever cause seeks wider knowledge of his fellowmen. Most of all will it appeal to the Christian hearts of our land to whom these men of the woods will seem as brothers, having more than their share of life's hardships and temptations and less than their share of its privilege and its opportunity.

It is most earnestly to be hoped that it8 may reach all the homes of our land and cause them to rest a while from the fiction of the hour, that, in the glow of these human realities, stranger than the inventions of fancy, we may learn henceforth to suffer in the afflictions of our exceptional members and relieve the conditions which make them helpless without our aid.





While I waited for a train, a woodsman entered the station. He was dressed in a rough Mackinaw jacket; coarse socks held his trousers close to his legs, and on his hands were heavy woolen mittens. Everything proclaimed him to be a man of the camps.

"Hello, Jack," I said in greeting, "how were the woods this winter? Anything new in the camps?"

Jack jammed the Peerless into his strong-smelling pipe, struck a match and replied: "Snowed so blank hard that half the gang jumped the job, and us fools that stayed worked up to our necks trying to get out the stuff. This winter was Hades, but not quite so warm—no, not by a jugfull. Why say, neighbor, in our camp the whisky froze up and kept the bunch sober until we got a new supply."

14 He paused, looked me over, and began again:

"You're a preacher, ain't you?"

"I am," I replied.

"Well, then, here's news you'll enjoy. We're all thinking of joining the church—us fellows in the camps. Funny, ain't it? The gospel sharks are in the tall timber and are getting bags of game that would shame a pot hunter. The cloth has donned overalls and is preaching at us. Savvy, Preacher?—we've actually got so civilized that they're preaching at us God-forsaken lumberjacks. How does that strike you for news?"

He paused to see the effect this intelligence was having on me, then continued:

"The sermons we get are the real thing. No sun-proof paint on them, no 'by-your-leave,' but the straight goods, the pure stuff—chips, bark and timber. Everything we get is government sealed, punk proof, top-loaded and headed for the landing—which is us. It all comes our way and we hold our noses and take the medicine. What party do you happen to hitch to?"

"Denomination?" I asked, "I am a Presbyterian."

15 "Good! So am I. I don't happen to belong yet, but if they keep on hewing to the line, I'll have to join—or hike. Our Sky Pilot, Frank Higgins, belongs to your crowd. Probably you know him?"

"I have known him a long time," I replied.

"Shake! If you're a friend of his you'll do. He's onto his job, and if this keeps up, the guy that splashes ink on the church roll will be kept busy adding our names. There's my train."

He was gone. May the day soon come when the half jesting prophecy of the lumberjack will be fulfilled.


Stately and green is the forest of the North Star State. From Lake Superior the great pineries of Minnesota extend unbroken until the fertile silt of the Red River Valley limits the growth of the pines. Two hundred miles is the width of the forest and the evergreen covers the northern half of the state. This is "the woods" of Minnesota—the center of the logging industry.

About five hundred camps mar this beautiful region with their rude shacks and temporary16 shelters, some of them being scores of miles from the permanent settlements. During the winter months twenty thousand men labor in the scattered camps of this vast territory, removing the growth of ages that the farms and cities may have comfort and protection. The primeval forest has been invaded, and on the zero air of the north the ring of the ax, the tearing of saws and the strange oaths of the teamsters mingle with the crash of falling trees.

The workers of the forest are called lumberjacks. In all the country there is scarcely a more interesting group of men—interesting because so wayward and prodigal in life and habit, while their forest home appeals to every leaf-loving soul. They are the nomads of the west—farm hands and railroad constructionists in summer, woodsmen in winter—with no settled abode, no place they call home. A few years ago Michigan claimed them; later their habitat was in the forests of Wisconsin; now the woods of Minnesota is their rendezvous.


The typical lumberjack is a man of large heart and little will. He sins with willing freedom, because he has almost lost the17 power to check his evil desires, and it is so easy to yield to the vultures who make sin convenient and righteousness hard. The saloon and brothel are ever alluringly near, while the church and bethel are slow to approach. The harpies of sin wait at every turn to prey upon the woodsman—though they damn his soul it matters not, if they obtain the cash.

The railroads push their iron arms into the heart of the wooded lands, and the villages follow the railways, desiring to be near the camps for the trade they bring. Almost without exception the first places of business are the saloons, to which are attached the outfits of the gamblers, and conveniently near are the places of shame. One new town in the pineries had between forty and fifty saloons (forty-six I believe is the number), five large brothels, and the gambling hells were many, yet the population of the place was little over two thousand. It was evident to the casual visitor that its chief industry was to separate the campmen from their earnings by preying on their weaknesses. Another village is beautifully situated at the junction of two rivers. All around it is well18 timbered land, and from the nature of the soil the place is destined to be of importance in the coming years, but at the time of this writing the village with its adjacent territory only contains a population of about two hundred. The village has less than a dozen houses, but six saloons do a thriving business and the brothel has appeared. You ask where the places obtain their patronage? From the camps. The foresters are the source of profit; the population of the town would not be able to keep one saloon in business. Nor are these solitary instances. The same conditions are to be found in almost every hamlet and village in the woods. Day and night they ply their sinful trade, and soon the gold, which the lumberjack risked his life to win, jingles in the coffers of the shameless or gleams in the till of the saloon or gambling hell.

Sunday is the harvest day of iniquity. The men are released from labor and pour into the villages to spend the hours of rest. The wheel, whisky and women separate them from their earnings, and like the withered leaves of autumn the strong wielders of the ax and canthook fall easy victims. One19 night "to blow in the stake," regrets for a moment—then back to the loneliness of the winter woods again. He is said to be a poor lumberjack who can keep his wages over night.

Jack is not always a willing victim. Often by knockout drops he is reduced to insensibility and robbed. He may complain of the treatment, but he is helpless through lack of evidence, and is told to "go up river," or is hustled unfeelingly out of town. "He's only a lumberjack and is better off when all in." This is all the sympathy the Ishmaelite receives. No place is open to him except the one he should avoid. The churches are too weak to meet the large demands, and so no place of refuge opens its doors of hope to the prodigal. The balm of sympathy comes to him limitedly; humanity is as cold as the frozen streams of his winter's retreat. Civilization is viewed only as a place of unbridled license where the law favors the spoiler. God is dead. Christ is only a word of convenient profanity. The church has forgotten the prodigal while caring for the souls of the saved. Thus he views life. In his wretchedness he labors for the keepers of the gates20 of death and is satisfied, if, by the sweat of his brow, he can win an hour of forgetfulness in the place of riot and shame.

No picture was ever painted so dark as to exclude all light. God made it so. Even in the neglected sons of the lumber-camps is seen a hopeful ray—for their hearts are as rich in charity as their lives are dark with sin. Their sympathies can easily be touched. It is through the open freedom of their generous nature that the reforming power of the gospel can enter. The only remedy for the campmen is the sustaining power of the Man of Nazareth. When they shall learn to know the Christ of God as the Savior of men, the darkened lives of the foresters will be transformed, and the fruits they shall bring forth will be the wished for deeds of righteousness.

When the Rev. Francis Edmund Higgins, the Lumberjack Sky Pilot, began his work among these neglected Ishmaelites, no religious society was making an effort to raise the moral and spiritual condition of the campmen. The Catholic church, then as now, devoted itself to the hospital work in the nearby towns, but no denomination invaded the camps to lead the bunkmen to right living.21 At the time of this writing the Presbyterian church is the only religious organization having special missionaries in the lumbercamps.

Regardless of denominational prejudice, the work of Frank Higgins appeals to the whole Christian church, not only on account of its peculiar type, but also because of the interesting man conducting it. Fitted by nature and training for his work, he is striving with heart and hand in a large and lonely field. He is the pastor of a large and scattered flock which for long and weary years has known no shepherd. Depraved men are being reached, lifted and kept for God through him—men alone are his parishioners.

Seldom is a pastor more beloved by his people. The rough but kindly hearts of the lumberjacks go out to this fearless minister who self-sacrificingly breaks the bread of life to the husk-fed prodigals of the far north country. The lumberjacks will fight for their Sky Pilot; and even the ranks of the enemy—the saloonmen, the gamblers, the brothel keepers—are compelled to admire this earnest Christian minister who is valiantly fighting a hard battle for God and righteousness.

22 The Rev. Frank Higgins is a resolute character, full of zeal and undaunted courage. God gave him a strong body and he is using it for the Giver. That rare virtue we call tact, or sanctified common sense, shows itself in all his dealings with men. False dignity is absent from him, but the dignity of sterling purpose and determined endeavor is ever present. He is no slave to custom, but is a man who does things in his own way, and does them well. The title the loggers have conferred upon him is one of affection; he is the Lumberjack Sky Pilot, and if you heard his forest parishioners speak that name, you would realize that his ordination was threefold—ordained of God, by the presbytery and by the lumberjacks.

Frank E. Higgins was born in the Queen City of the West, Toronto, Ontario, on the nineteenth day of August, 1865. He was the seventh child to come into the home, but the only one to survive the vicissitudes of infancy. His parents were both Irish, but his father, Samuel Higgins, was born in the Dominion, and for some years prior to his death kept a hotel in Toronto on the site where the Walker House now stands. In this house23 Frank was born. Ann Higgins, the mother, first saw the sun in the Ulster settlement of Ireland, her parents bringing her to Canada when she was four years old. Samuel Higgins died when Frank was seven years of age.

Two years after the death of Frank's father, Ann Higgins married John Castle, an Englishman, who shortly afterwards moved the family to Shelburne, Dufferin County, Ontario. Here in the untouched wilderness the settlers began to force an opening for cabin and crops. The country was new. Few white families were near, but on the Higgins homestead were several camps of Sioux Indians. The land was forest covered, the towering cedar and hemlock stretched their graceful fingers heavenward, the spreading maples delighted the eye, and the white robes of the slender birch lent variety to the sylvan scene. With painful effort the sentinels were felled and squared for cabin and sheds, and fields of grain succeeded the fallen forest.

The companions of Frank Higgins were the children of the Sioux Indians, whose tepees were near the homestead. With the children of the Indians he took his lessons in24 woodcraft, learned to draw the bow, or childishly labored at the tasks of the growing braves. One of his early recollections is of secretly carrying a loaf of bread from his home to trade with an Indian youth for bow and arrows. Perhaps the subsequent strapping he received had something to do with the permanency and vividness of the recollection. For three years the Indians were his constant playmates. From the warlike Sioux, fearlessness was imbibed, their love of the forest became his, and an ineffaceable delight in tree and stream was stamped in the character of the growing boy. "I feel it now," he said to me, but recently when we were in the city together, "I want to get back to the solitudes where the trees have voices and every stream a story. I love the camps rather than the cities. I have never passed from my boyhood love—my first love—the trees, the hills, the brooks. In the pineries I feel as if I were a boy back in the old days again."


These were days of gold and purple when the child was learning the mysteries of life, days of ceaseless roaming in which nature taught her truths through leaf and twig, through dew and whispering breeze. He was25 nature taught—all that touches "the wild and pillared shades" belongs to his free, frank nature. Unknowingly he was beholding the beauty of his future kingdom and unconsciously equipping himself for the years of zealous toil among the white nomads whose weapons are the ax, the saw and the peavey—a change in equipment and complexion, with the same stage setting.

Few school privileges came to the forest lad. When he should have been at his studies there was no school to attend; when the school came, only brief periods were allowed to him. At twelve he took his place by his stepfather's side and assisted in supporting the family. Every hand was needed, and the boy's little counted for much. There was ground to clear of trees and underbrush, there were rails to split and fields to fence, and in the winter logging, claimed his labor for the cash it gave in return.

Dufferin County could offer few advantages in those days. Its sparsely settled condition meant absence of amusements and communal privileges. Most of the new settlers were of English blood, and while they were willing to stint and sacrifice, yet they demanded the presence of the church. A26 church was organized near the Castle home, to which John and Ann Castle gave their united support. Frank's stepfather was a godly man, in whose life was reflected the spirit of our Master's teaching. Service and fellowship were the watchwords of the home. Of material wealth the cabin could not boast, but in spiritual gifts its occupants were far from poor. It was largely through these examples of Christian living that Frank Higgins acquired a knowledge and interest in the things of God.

When Frank was eighteen years old a wave of religious awakening swept through the community, and the stepson of John Castle was one of the first to surrender to the Master. Immediately he interested himself in the welfare of his companions, doing personal work among them. The result was that most of his companions joined the company of believers. These young men then organized a semi-weekly prayer meeting in the schoolhouse and Frank Higgins led the first meeting. Nine of those who attended those prayer meetings have since gone forth to preach the everlasting Gospel. There must have been good stuff among the settlers of Dufferin County.

27 The ministry always had its charms for Frank Higgins. Long before he united with the church, the desire to preach had possessed him. Many were the sermons he delivered to the cattle, stumps and trees, while going the rounds of his daily labor. On one occasion the stepfather and hired man hid behind the stumps that they might receive edification from the discourses that so often wasted their sweetness on the desert air. Unaware of their presence, Frank worked a while, then, laying aside his ax, mounted a log and began his sermon to the stumps. Vigorously he chided them for their inactivity. Emphatic were the woes he pronounced upon them who were at ease, while the harvest called loudly for workers. Enthusiastically he bade the stumps march forward and with unsheathed sword take possession of the Promised Land. The hidden ones, suppressing mirth that almost injured them, silently thrust their heads above the hiding place and looked with forced solemnity at the big, lonely preacher. So unexpected was their appearance, that he, who a moment before was willing to lead an army of stumps to victory, retreated to the cover of the forest, pursued28 by the convulsing laughter of his friends. Years afterwards, when commenting on the above incident, he said: "You see, it was a sermon to men after all. I had intended it for stumps, but it produced action among men." He laughed.

Men have always been his auditors. From the time of his stump sermon they have listened to his story of the Cross, and today among the stumps of the pineries he preaches with results that cause the angels to laugh in gladness.

At the age of twenty Frank Higgins returned to Toronto, the city of his birth, where he resided with relatives. He there entered the public schools, taking up the studies which the conditions in Dufferin County prevented him from acquiring in boyhood. It took courage to enter the sixth grade of the city schools, a big brawny man among babes. Unaccustomed to cities and civilization, he felt ill at ease away from his native woods. His hands were better acquainted with the ax than with the pen and pencil, but he stuck to his task while the blush of shame mounted his cheek as he sat among the little children of the grade. His29 teachers did not find him an apt scholar, but they bowed before the originality of his untutored mind.

Three years were spent in the grades and two in the high school, after which he left the Dominion of Canada and came to Minnesota, at the age of twenty-five.

In the fall of 1890 he began lay preaching in the Methodist Episcopal church at Annandale, Minnesota, and for two years labored in that field; doing very successful work. He was fortunate in the companionship of Dr. A. M. Ridgeway, a young physician who had recently begun to practice in the village. This friend did all he could to cover the defects of the frontiersman and to aid him to self-improvement. It was largely through Dr. Ridgeway's persuasion that Higgins gave up his work at Annandale and went to Hamline University to continue his studies. For two years he applied himself to books, but owing to the scarcity of funds he was compelled to preach on the Sabbaths, and the small salary thus obtained helped to support him in the University. The name of the late Rev. L. M. Merritt, of Onesta M. E. Church, Duluth, Minnesota, is held by30 him in revered memory for the timely encouragement and assistance rendered him at this period.

In 1895 the way opened for him to enter the service of his mother church. The Presbyterian Church at Barnum, Minnesota, was offered to him and the layman found himself in the denomination of his youth. The work at Barnum, Minnesota, changed the whole course of his life.




The new field to which Mr. Higgins went was a lumber town. Barnum, Minnesota, had a population of less than four hundred, but the nearby lumber camps added considerably to its business interests. The Presbyterian Church at that place was weak, and when Presbytery sent the young Canadian there to advance the cause of Christ, it also took him under its care as a student for the ministry, and assigned studies suited to his special case.

At Barnum, Frank Higgins first came into touch with the loggers of Minnesota. On all sides were the camps crowded with men who felled the forests during the winter, and in the spring floated the logs over lake and river to the large sawmills farther south.

Shortly after he changed his residence to the lumber town, he went with several friends across the country to where the river34 drivers were at work on the Kettle River drive. It was spring. The ice-locked lakes and rivers were once more open, and now the accumulated logs that had been placed on the icy lakes and streams were floating with the current to the city mills.

After several hours traveling through a rough and new country, parts of which were cut over lands, scenically uninviting, the party arrived at the point of the river where the men, who, in the parlance of the loggers are called "riverpigs," were at work. In midstream the men were sacking logs with peavey, or directing with pike pole. From log to log the skillful drivers leaped, now riding on the huge timbers, now wading in the shallows, or following the logs from the shore. It seemed an easy thing to do, to ride the swift moving logs, but only a master can keep his place on the unsteady, rolling steed.

In a bend of the river, below the place where the drivers were working, the large flat-boat called the wannigan, was tied. The wannigan is a floating bunkhouse, cookshed and store combined. In it the men make their home during the drive. The35 supper hour was near when the visitors arrived at Kettle River; the journey had been long, so the disturbing blast of the cookee's horn was a welcome sound. In response to the call the rivermen hastily made for shore, and headed for the grassy place near the wannigan. The example of the workers was followed by the visitors, who helped themselves to iron knives and forks, tin spoons, cups and dishes. The wet drivers sat around the campfire and ate with a heartiness that comes from a life spent in "God's own open air."

The men lounged about the fire after the meal, and the topics of the village and the happenings of the river were discussed. Just as the sun was tossing back his lingering kisses at the sleepy forest and ever wakeful river, the riverpigs requested Mr. Higgins to give them a gospel service. It was a surprising request, coming from such a source, for the river drivers looked and acted as if they cared not for these things. The preacher had heard their fluent profanity as they directed the logs, and when they asked for the gospel he could not veil his surprise. But the request was in harmony with the hour.36 Nature was worshiping. The solemn hush of the evening was upon tree and stream and even the ceaseless babble of the river came only in whispers. Man felt a desire to join in the Creator's praise, and where is there a better sanctuary than in the cloistered halls of the greenwood, on the banks of a crystal stream?

Taking a log for a platform, unaided by Bible or hymn book, Mr. Higgins began the service. "Nearer My God to Thee" was the hymn, and the men of the pickpole joined heartily in the song, "Jesus Lover of My Soul;" they sang until it seemed that the sunset joined in the praise and the trees of the field clapped their hands in timely melody. Over the running river the tall pines caught up the music and bowed in reverence, while the echoes answered back, "Oh, Receive My Soul at Last."

With what supreme interest the men about the camp-fire listened to the old, old story of Christ who loves the wanderer! The shades of night fell low upon the darkening earth while the preacher spoke of The Light of The World, and the men sat wrapped in thoughts of things they had forgotten or37 never known. Recollections of the home tree came back to some, and the sweet lullaby of a mother stole into minds long forgetful of home and other days. At the spring of boyhood they drank again, and the counsels of youth came with hallowed sweetness to the men seated in the playing shadows of the dying fire.

Faces long strange to tears were furrowed. Wishes were born that later became realities of good. Like a voice from another world came the benediction to the group about the bright glowing embers. From across the stream the echo floated back, and the "amen" of nature came like a mother's tender prayer.

On the morrow when the visitors were returning, several of the rivermen went to the preacher and spoke of the pleasure they had derived from the service.

"We're away out here in the timber and it ain't often the church comes our way," said one.

"If some preacher would come here once in a while, he could give us a lift. The Lord knows we need it," added another.

"Can't you come and give us a turn?" they asked.

38 In response to the extended invitations, Mr. Higgins often went to the drive on Kettle River. An appreciative audience was always waiting—an audience that would gladden the heart of any minister who was anxious to deliver God's message.

Prior to his visit to Kettle River, Mr. Higgins had never been on the drive. Everything about the work was new to him, but he joined the riverpigs on the stream, and added to their merriment by his unskilled attempts at logdriving. Taking the long pickpole, the preacher mounted the floating log, while every driver looked out of the tail of his eye for the soon-coming moment when "his reverence" would descend to the depths—"so far," said one of the men, "that he would draw down the log with a suction." In the midst of their work the drivers shouted advice and encouragement.

But a laugh does not deter a man like Frank Higgins. The love of the forest and river was in his blood, and the strong body and determined will welcomed the difficulties of the river. Even the discomforts of a sudden bath did not cool his zeal. He believed that if these men were to be his hearers he39 must know how to appreciate their labors, and that appreciation could only be acquired by passing through the intricacies of the calling. So skill came with practice, and a knowledge of the drive after many sudden descents into the flowing waters.

This was a part of the equipment for ministering—a strange preparation—but men whose labors demand strength of limb and skill of body are more likely to listen to him who can prove his physical ability. In the estimation of some, manual labor may not preserve the dignity of the cloth, but it adds to the dignity of the man. The lumberjacks and rivermen have no admiration for him who is fearful of hardship, or succumbs before the strenuous labor which they themselves must daily perform. The pineries is no place for weaklings, nor the drive for the fearful. Among these men physical prowess wins where mental powers fail to get a hearing, but the combination of both, backed by a strong desire to serve, is a combination sure of success.

"When you are in Barnum I want you men to remember me," said the preacher to the drivers. "My home and church are open40 to you. You are just as welcome as the people of the village."

Shortly after the above invitation the boys came to town. It was Sunday, and the hour of the morning service. Three big rivermen entered the church and took seats in the rear of the building. They were dressed as the necessities of their vocation require, flannel shirts resplendent in fighting colors, broad belts, and heavy spike-soled boots. It was no small sensation their presence created. Barnum was a lumber town, but although accustomed to the lumberjacks and drivers, it had never seen them in church. The saloons were their known retreats.

Before beginning the service Mr. Higgins went down to the drivers and bade them welcome.

"We thought we'd drop in and see if you'd make us as welcome in the gospel shop as we made you in the bunkhouse," said the spokesman. "I guess he has, Bill," he said, turning to his friend.

After that they came to the little church whenever they sundayed in town. With the trio came others, for they knew they would be hospitably received. This proved to the minister that the man who wants a41 larger parish has only to remove the fence that encloses his present one.

As often as his pressing duties would allow it, the missionary followed his new found flock. The distance was great to Kettle River, yet he walked to the camp that service might be held on the bank of the stream. From the memories of the men who heard and of him who preached, the pleasure of those sunset gatherings will never be effaced. Kettle River drive was more fruitful than preacher or logger dreamed.

Although Mr. Higgins grew to manhood in a timber country, yet he never had visited a large lumbercamp until the winter following his residence at Barnum. In his youth he had logged in the forests of Dufferin County, Ontario, but the lumbering was on a small scale—it was only the logging of farmers. Around Barnum, Minnesota, the camps were operated by the lumber kings of the west. The winter's cut was counted in millions of feet, not by hundreds or thousands.

In the fall of 1895 a delegation of lumberjacks came to the Sky Pilot's home in Barnum42 and asked to be taken into the circle of his ministration.

"We need you just as much as the camp of drivers you preached to in the spring," they said, and they looked the part they professed.

Camp after camp petitioned for his services, and so the work grew until all the logging camps around the village were receiving occasional services from the unordained man who served the Presbyterian Mission Church at Barnum. The field was large, white for a willing harvest, but the laborers were few, few indeed—only one.

Mr. Higgins had recently married, and through the union encouragement and effectiveness was given to his work in village and camp. In October of 1895 Mr. Higgins was married to Miss Eva L. Lucas of Rockford, Minnesota. Miss Lucas was an active church worker in her own town, and after her marriage the bride often went with her husband to the filthy camps and furnished music on the little portable organ. Her presence was appreciated by the foresters, and with the lead of the organ the music was bettered.

43 These were days of exacting labor and little pay. In his spare moments Frank Higgins was trying to supplement the loss of university and seminary training, and the midnight lamp glowed in the study as he sought to prepare himself for ordination. There were sermons to prepare, calls to make, the dead to bury, and a thousand unexpected duties that are ever attendant on a village pastorate. But louder than all the demands was the ever increasing Macedonian cry from the camps for services and assistance. So much to be done and so little one could do in comparison to the demand! Frank Higgins never asked for "flowery beds of ease." His physical strength was unlimited, and he loved action rather than repose. With the joy of a strong man he attacked his work and found an increasing happiness in duty done. A few days after one of his visits to the camps, two lumberjacks came to his door.

"We want you quick," they said, "we've brought one of the boys from the camp to his homestead. He's asking for you. He's a very sick man."

In company with the woodsmen Mr. Higgins went through the forest to the log cabin44 of the homesteader. The doctor had just arrived. Turning to Mr. Higgins, the physician said:

"If we could get him to St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth there would be a chance for him. He cannot obtain the necessary care here in his shack."

Mr. Higgins volunteered to accompany the sick man. They bundled the patient snugly into a sleigh, drove to the depot, and in a short time were in the hospital.

Only a few minutes passed before the physician in charge came to Mr. Higgins and said:

"There is no chance for your friend's recovery. You had better break the news to him, for he is beyond our help."

Gently, tenderly, the rough camp preacher told the dying man of his condition and asked him to make preparation for the nearing end.


The lumberjack looked up at the weeping minister, and smilingly said: "Thank God you came to the camp that night. I heard you preach of a Savior, and all my being longed to know him. It was the first time in twenty years I had heard the gospel.45 I was raised in a Christian home, and that night all the lessons of childhood came back to me. When the lanterns were put out, and the bunkhouse was silent, I got on my knees and prayed the forgiving God to forgive the past, and make me a better man. That night Jesus Christ brought his strong salvation to me, and I was forgiven." He paused through weakness and was still, then opening his eyes, now clouded with the mists of death, he looked at the minister.

"Brother Higgins, go back to the camps and tell the boys of my Savior. Go back and tell the old story to the lumberjacks. They need you worse than the towns do. Tell them of Jesus who can make them live, go back to the lonely camps." He ceased to speak. More feebly came the breath, and soon the spirit returned to the God who gave it.

The minister was left with a problem greater than any he had yet attempted to solve. In the corridors of the hospital he walked through the long night, carrying a sense of duty and sacrifice he had never known before. "Can it be possible that God wants me to take up this work?" he asked.46 "Has God spoken his will through the dying man?" Ambition rebelled against the sacrifice; fond wishes refused to be set aside, but with every tempting prospect came the command of the dying man, "Go back to the boys and carry the story of Jesus." It sounded clearly. No man could misunderstand it. That night all his plans were changed. Ambitions, such as come to all young men, were swept away. The large pulpits of which he had dreamed were superseded by the log or barrel which held the Bible in the camp services, and the future audiences were men rough clothed, rough visaged, who dwelt not in homes of opulence, but slept in the hay-filled bunks in the log camps. That night in the hospital he consecrated himself to the service of God in the logging camps.

He now began to look about the field in which his life work was to be done. The extent of the field and the intensity of the need was appalling. While there were Christian men in the camps, and many whose lives were moral, yet these were few in comparison to the crowd who wasted their lives as did the younger son in the parable.

47 Ordination was now his great desire, for he wished to go to the men as one who could minister to all their spiritual needs. But ordination was far off. The studies were not completed, and would not be for several years.

The spring after his decision, he was surprised on entering his home to find it filled with a crew of lumberjacks who were returning from the camps.

"Mr. Higgins," began the spokesman, "We've dropped in today to tell you how we've enjoyed the preaching in our camp. The boys want me to make a spiel, but the saw is more in my line. You've treated us white, have given us more advice than we've digested, and never asked to see the color of our money. But this is no one-sided affair. The boys have all chipped in, and here's your stake for service rendered." As he closed he handed the minister a check for fifty-one dollars.

In all his work the missionary had not asked for financial assistance. The boys at first thought he was preaching for "what there was in it," but when he asked not for money, they realized that love and devotion48 was the impelling cause. "The lumberjack is no cheap skate," so they gladly gave in return.

Through the benevolence of the woodsmen, Mr. Higgins saw a new possibility. He was willing to give himself to the work, but it was necessary that living and incidental expenses should be met. How to finance the mission work was the question, but now he saw the boys would pay a large part of the attendant expenses if some one would organize the work. The barriers were being removed; the doors were opening. Only, ordination had yet to be received.

The work at Barnum was followed by his taking charge of a church in New Duluth, where the mill hands formed a large part of the population. Acquaintance with the men and their work led to an interest in him, and soon the church was on its feet. The same success that was seen at Barnum followed the New Duluth work, and after a short period of labor there, he was asked to take the Bemidji church. Here in the heart of the logging district the real work of his life began, for as never before he learned the ways of the lumberjack.



In the spring of 1899, Frank E. Higgins began his work in Bemidji. The Home Missions Committee of Duluth Presbytery had invited him to assist the little group of Christians in the new town, where assistance was badly needed, for the place was in the heart of the logging district, and was infamous for its traffic in evil. The hosts of sin were well organized, but righteousness needed the encouragement of a strong man.

The Bemidji field was first opened to Christian work by Mr. S. A. Blair, the Sabbath School missionary of Duluth Presbytery, in 1896. In those days no railway reached the place, but the pine forest beckoned to the logging companies and the Mississippi river offered an outlet for the logs. Bemidji could only be reached by following the rough trails through the swamps and around the hills from Walker, Minnesota,52 thirty-five miles away. Most of the supplies were carried up the lakes and rivers and toted over the portages to the new village.

When Mr. Blair started on his thirty-five mile tramp to Bemidji, the Baptist denomination also decided to send a man to organize for them. But the rains descended and the floods came, until the poorly made roads were more impassable than ever. Not relishing the flooded condition, the immersionist gave up the task—for once water interfered with the Baptist growth. But Mr. Blair, prior to his conversion, had been a lumberjack, and none of these things moved him. Wading the depths and fording the streams, he at last arrived at the hamlet on Lake Bemidji, and organized the work. Later a church was partly built by Mr. Blair, and occasional services were held. It was to take charge of this field that Mr. Higgins turned his steps to the north. He had seen the conditions of the woodsmen in Barnum and other towns, yet he needed the Bemidji experience to show him their real poverty of soul, and their utter helplessness in the face of open, alluring vice. Here he53 saw them at their worst, given over to shame, encouraged in degradation. They were as sheep without a shepherd, a prey to every spoiler and evil designer.

It would require one whose ability is far above mine to pen a picture that would adequately set forth the low plane of life found in the early days of Bemidji. Since that time it has changed for the better, but it is still influenced by the past and is far from a moral Utopia. Nature has done everything to make the place attractive and restful. Lake Bemidji and Lake Irving are inviting sheets of water with a shore line of nearly fifty miles. The great Father of Waters joins their crystal bodies, and at the point of meeting the little city of Bemidji is built. Every part of the city is pine-covered. Those who platted the place removed only the larger trees, and the homes rest in the shelter of the constant green. Like a huge emerald in a setting of purest silver is the green sheltered city with its rippling lakes and flowing river.

Nature had contributed lavishly, but when man came he brought with him the54 defects of humanity and painted the fair location with the blackness of unlicensed vice, filling the Eden of beauty with the blight of Sodom. It was a town with a wide open policy, in which saloons abounded, brothels flourished and gamblers worked unmolested. It was known as one of the most shameless places in the state, and in those days seemingly lived up to its reputation. The police force was little more than a name, for the saloon men were "the powers that be." It was to the interest of the liquor men that the town be run as wide open as possible, and the business interests as represented by the liquor sellers were far from the Puritan mould. A convenient double blind was on Justice. The Law was roped and thrown. Rum was the real owner of the town. It was above the Law. It was master.

Gambling was connected with most of the saloons and numerous devices were in sight to attract the indifferent. Not satisfied with what came to them, the runners of the saloons and dens went into the camps to drum up trade for their respective places of business—creating a sentiment that would induce the boys to visit their dens of vice.

55 The brothels were large and accessible, being near the center of the town. In one of the places a large number of negresses was kept to pander to the bestial instincts of the men.

It would be difficult to give a description of those early day conditions. A citizen of the town remarked, "You can't put enough black in the picture when you try to paint the early Bemidji." In justice to the moral element of the place we must add that there were always those who strove for better conditions, and the efforts they made have met with some success, for the moral conditions of Bemidji in 1907 are vastly superior to the conditions at the time of which we write.

It was early in 1899 when Mr. Higgins became a resident of Bemidji. The Presbyterian church had been organized but a short time, yet it was in a state of coma that was rapidly passing into death. Only two members could be found. A church building had been erected, but because of financial difficulties it had not been finished and was far from attractive or comfortable. Frank Higgins' task was to find the scattered56 adherents, then complete the building.

For want of a more suitable place of residence, the unfinished edifice became the meeting place and manse combined. The few houses obtainable were mostly rude shacks whose exteriors were covered with tar paper, instead of weather boards, and even these temporary structures, poor and inadequate, were hard to obtain.

During the early part of the Bemidji ministry, Marguerite, the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Higgins, came to bless the parents' hearts and add joy to the missionary home.

The years at Bemidji were strenuous, but successful. The unfinished edifice was enlarged and completed during the first year of the layman's work. The year following found him building the cozy manse, while the membership grew with increasing steadiness. In connection with the church at Bemidji was a station at Farley, and during the third year a little chapel was erected there. By this time the Bemidji congregation had outgrown the capacity of the building and in the fourth year a more commodious and suitable church was built.

57 In these full years the camps had not been neglected. With the erection of the numerous buildings, to which he had contributed manual labor as well as superintendence, Mr. Higgins' hands were seemingly well filled. In addition to these duties, however, he every winter gave his personal attention to nine camps and regularly visited three of them each week. The seven addresses a week, the miles between the camps, and the pastoral calls consumed the hours, leaving no time for leisure and idleness, while from all sides came the demands of the foresters for religious instruction and services.

One morning when he returned from the camps, Mrs. Higgins told him of an urgent call from the Sisters' Hospital. Hastily he went to the ward and there found Will McDonald, a Highland Scotchman, at the point of death. McDonald had met with a serious accident in the camps. The Sky Pilot and the teamster were well acquainted. McDonald's boyhood days were spent among the bonny hills of the homeland, in a quiet Christian home. In early manhood he came to Minnesota and followed the winter58 woods. There, amidst the rough life he forgot his early instruction and traveled the ways to which temptation so readily pointed.

On entering the ward the preacher tried to cheer the dying man, but the woodsman turned to him and said:

"It's no use, Frank, the jig is up. I've got to go. I'm nearing the landing with a heavy load. Do you think I'll make the grade?"

He was a teamster and had hauled many heavy loads up the grade, and now he was thinking of the unknown way he was traveling and the possibilities of the journey.

"Yes, you can make the grade, Will, but you will have to look for help," said the preacher.

"You mean I'll have to get another team of leaders to help me up the grade?" he asked.

"That is it," said Mr. Higgins, "but thank God, McDonald, you have the greatest Leader to give you a lift—the Lord Jesus Christ. Every man he has helped has made the grade. Listen, Will, while I read you something." Taking out his pocket testament,59 he read the story of the prodigal, and how by the Father's help he made the grade. Then came the strengthening text setting forth God's love for a lost world and the needlessness of perishing. "Turn to him, Will, and the grade will be easy."

Kneeling by the bed, the missionary prayed to the loving God for help, asking that the poor broken prodigal might make the grade and safely arrive at the heavenly landing. In the ward the other lumberjacks heard the prayer, and while the tears fell over faces unaccustomed to them, the boys uttered in silence a sympathetic prayer that Will McDonald might reach the hill-top.

A few hours later Mr. Higgins called again at the hospital. The screen was around the bed and by the side sat the sister of charity with book and beads. The Sky Pilot knelt by the Scotchman's side, and when the dying man saw the visitor a smile came upon his face.

"You're right, Frank, a great Leader is Jesus Christ. I couldn't have made the grade without him. I needed his help, and he is strong. I'm going up the grade easily, we're going to make it sure."

60 A moment more—the missionary bent close to catch the words, for McDonald was passing rapidly away. "Tell the boys I've made the grade," he whispered, and with a smile was gone. He had left the valley; the unfading green of heavenly plains was before him. He was with the great Leader, through whose divine strength many a poor prodigal has made the grade.

The Presbyterian church has always stood for an educated ministry. The demands it makes of its candidates for ordination are of the highest order, and it is well that this should continue. The system of doctrine taught by it demands thorough preparation for the effort of Presbyterianism has ever been directed to the intellect rather than to the emotions. It believes that men should be educated into the Kingdom rather than persuaded into it.

Ever since the night of consecration in St. Luke's Hospital, where the dying man pleaded with him to "go back to the camps and tell the boys of Jesus Christ," Frank Higgins had desired to devote all his efforts to missionary work among the lumberjacks. He felt that he could labor more successfully61 if he went into the camps as an ordained minister rather than as a layman. There were many who felt that a layman could do the work as effectively as an ordained man, and some even claimed that a layman could do better work in such a field. Frank Higgins did not agree with the latter, and results have proven the correctness of his judgment. "The lumberjacks want no flunkey, but the real thing," as one expressed it. "We don't want a Sunday school teacher, but a full baked Sky Pilot who has got all the degrees agoin'." Mr. Higgins knew this, and wished to go to them as an ordained man, hence his persistence in the pursuit of ordination.

Systematic Theology has its difficulties to the seminarian, but more for him who attempts to master it alone. This and other studies composed the task that Presbytery had placed before Frank Higgins, and it was necessary that a knowledge of these be obtained before the coveted "laying-on-of-hands" be granted. In the presence of his studies he saw the handicap in which he was placed through lack of scholastic training, and with the multitudinous demands of his62 large field he lacked the time for mental attainments. The nearest Presbyterian pastor was ninety miles away, so he could look for little assistance from that quarter. He could not get advice and instruction from others, he must labor alone.

For seven long years he struggled with his studies, often with disappointing results and with the feeling that it would never be said of him as of Paul, "much learning doth make thee mad,"—although his unsuccessful attempts to acquire the desired learning threatened to this end. Time and again the Presbytery refused to grant the petitioner's request for ordination. Meeting after meeting he came before them for examination, but still they did not feel that they could solemnly set him aside to the work of the Christian ministry. The action of the Presbytery must not be misunderstood. The members saw the lack of training, the mental defects of the man, the rough exterior of the petitioner—for there was little about him to suggest the pulpit—and while they loved and admired the hearty, consecrated missionary, they hesitated to confer the rite of ordination upon63 him. They were men who knew the standards of the church and felt that, measured by the plumb-line of Presbyterian custom, he did not meet all its requirements. They were only men, and as such were compelled to judge by exteriors. It was not strange that they hesitated, for the sentiment of the church is against the ordination of men who have not qualified in the full course. Stones there are, however, that no contrivance of man can make to shine, yet they fill a niche in the building where a glazed surface would be a conspicuous defect. Such is Frank Higgins. Try to polish him and he is still the same, but a rough ashler is as necessary to the building as a smooth and perfect one.

One of his examiners asked him, "What seminary did you attend?"

"I never saw a seminary," he answered.

"What is your college?" was asked.

"My college is the Bible and yonder forest, as I believe God intended," he replied. "I do not ask for ordination because I am qualified by the schools, but because God calls me, and there is a work waiting for me."

64 According to custom, the candidate was asked to withdraw while the discussion was held. For three hours the presbyters discussed his case and when the vote was taken the desired privilege was withheld.

Later in the session, in his remarks before the gathering, Mr. Higgins said: "I need not tell you that the decision of this body is disappointing, for I have long desired the boon of ordination. During the last seven years I have appeared before you many times, and asked to be set aside to the ministry. I know my insufficiencies; no man can know them better. I do not blame you for with-holding "the-laying-on-of-hands," but I was ordained of God long years ago to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, and although unsanctioned by man, I shall still preach the message with which he has provided me. I have asked ordination for the last time. I am satisfied with the call of God. It is sufficient for me. I ask no more." While he spoke, the spirit of God told of the inner life of the candidate and the brethren saw the consecrated heart.

At a special meeting held shortly afterwards,65 the Presbytery reconsidered its action, and Frank E. Higgins was ordained. While the Presbytery had hesitated, it has never regretted its final action. It has never ceased to rejoice in the labors of the determined, undiscouraged man who amidst manifold labors and difficulties, worked, waited and prayed seven years, like Jacob of old.

His oft-repeated prayer for ordination having been answered, he looked to the camps as the field of his future endeavor. "Lord, open the door," he had asked, and the door was opened. At the time of his ordination the Bemidji congregation was building the new church. Mr. Higgins helped in the manual labor. One day while he was shingling the tower a boy brought him a letter requesting him to come to Winona Lake, Indiana, and consult with the Evangelistic Committee relative to the conditions in the logging camps. As a result of the conference Frank Higgins was commissioned to take charge of this work in Minnesota. The appointment was made in August, 1902, and with it came the real opportunity for which he had waited since the66 night in the hospital. He was going "to tell the boys of Jesus Christ."

Shortly after his return to Bemidji the Rev. Frank Higgins took a strange ministerial, or rather, unministerial vacation. The woodsmen of winter are farm hands, railroad constructionists and wanderers in summer, and Mr. Higgins decided that he would acquaint himself with the summer life of the men. His visits to the camps during the past seven years had already given him a knowledge of their winter conditions. Donning the clothes of a laboring man, he mounted a freight train and started on a long western trip of quiet investigation. In western North Dakota he labored for several days as a harvest hand, meeting many of the men he had preached to in the Minnesota camps. From this place he shipped with a gang of laborers and worked as a scraperman on a new railway in Montana. Shortly afterwards he was with the pick and shovel gang at The Dalles in Oregon, only to leave and work as a deck hand on a boat going down the Columbia river. Portland, Oregon, ended his western trip.

67 In all parts of his hobo trip he found the winter woodsmen, some laboring, some leisurely passing the warm and sunny days in idleness. Mr. Higgins visited the larger churches wherever he stopped and as a workingman entered their doors to see the reception they would tender to a man who apparently belonged to the wanderers. The trip broadened his experience and gave an insight into the life of the nomads among whom he was shortly to take up permanent work. He saw the life as one who had lived and experienced a portion of it. He felt the pangs of hunger, encountered the slights and rejections, the hardships and lovelessness to which their lives were subjected, and out of the knowledge came a broader sympathy, a more ready ability to help.

When he returned to Bemidji the new church was ready for dedication and after a few weeks he left the pastorate to give himself wholly to the twenty thousand men of Minnesota's camps. The field was ready and he now became in reality, "The Lumberjack Sky Pilot."




A brief description of the camps and of the camp life will add to the interest of the reader who is unacquainted with the logging industry.

When a lumber company contemplates logging in a given locality, a cruiser is sent through the forest to estimate the amount of lumber it will cut. After the report of the cruiser has been received, a crew of experienced woodsmen follows, and selects the place for the camp or camps, and lays out the logging roads. This latter is not an easy task, although to the inexperienced it seems to be, for the road must be as nearly level as the possibilities of the land will allow. A hill to be surmounted means a reducing of the size of the load and an increase in the cost of hauling; a grade scarcely enough to be noticed in ordinary traffic also adds danger and uncertainty to72 the haul. If there is a grade, its descent must be towards the landing, hence the need of skilled road-makers. It is in the early fall of the year that these logging roads are made. Trees are felled, every stump is removed and the little hills are leveled until there appears in the forest a broad, level, often winding avenue that suggests a city speedway. When the cold binding wind of the north has frozen hill and glen and the swamp lands have become resistant to the tread, the rut cutter is sent over the newly made roads. This heavy, unsightly piece of mechanism cuts a deep groove or rut in each side of the road. Later these ruts are partly filled with water and in the icy track the great runners of the heavy logging sleds travel with ease and safety. The logging sleds are huge affairs. The runners are eight feet long. The weight of the sled with its chains is about thirty-five hundred pounds—a good load in itself under normal conditions. On these sleds the logs are hauled to the landing, and from there pass by stream or rail to the distant sawmills.

The camp is generally placed near the73 center of the land or on an elevation convenient to water. The buildings of the camp consist of a cookshed made large enough for cooking and dining-room purposes, a bunkhouse to house the men, a blacksmith shop, barns and office. All these are built of logs chinked with clay, and are quite warm, if properly constructed.

A view of the interior of the cookshed is always interesting and visitors to the camp are apt to journey in that direction first of all, not simply because of appetite, but to satisfy their curiosity relative to the comforts of the crew. At one end of the room stands a large stove. The walls of the place resemble the interior of a country store, where all for man or beast is offered to the buyer. The rest of the space is reserved for the dining-room, and the tables present the appearance of a sea of oilcloth. The table dishes are of tin, but in a few camps enamelware has very acceptably been introduced. Substantial iron knives and forks, and unsubstantial tin spoons are instruments of adornment and utility. The condiments or relishes are in boxes of large capacity or in bottles that once did duty for a favorite74 brand of whisky or a much-lauded patent medicine. Often the labels remain on the bottles and the visitor is uncertain as to the sociability of the place or its unhealthfulness, and if not enlightened by the knowing ones he is apt to go without the desired vinegar or catsup—unless he is so constituted as to be ever on the lookout for a chance "to wet his whistle."

The interior is substantial in appearance, but not altogether conducive to good appetite. "We use oleomargarine all the time," says a large placard adorning the walls, and the writer has never doubted the statement; in fact, he is willing to make an affidavit that it was used in every camp he visited, or at least a substitute whose dissembling he was willing to believe.


"No talking at the tables" is conspicuous in some camps, and this is probably a wise precaution for it saves time, keeps the men from quarreling, and in case the food is not up to the standard the grumbler is silent until after he has left the table. But the food is generally better than the outsider would expect. It is strong, substantial, abundant, and of good quality, to which is added variety. The fastidious would hardly be satisfied with the service, but it is not intended for the fastidious. He who labors in the pine-laden air is not likely to quarrel with the service if the quality is right and the quantity abundant. Beef, pork, potatoes, beans, peas and other seasonable vegetables form the bill of fare of the camps.

The bunkhouses are large and roomy. On the long sides of the building double-decked bunks are built with the ends toward the center of the room, "muzzle-loaders," the boys call them. Owing to the unsanitary conditions, it does not take long to generate a goodly number of "company," to use the name by which the woodsmen designate the vermin. Fortunately, some of the camps are better kept and the men escape this additional irritation. A large cylindrical wood-stove is installed in the center of the room, and above it is built a rack for drying the clothes of the men. Since every lumberjack wears several pairs of socks to keep out the cold, this rack in the evening holds several hundred pairs. In the heat of the place the drying socks begin to blossom, and it has been noticed by others than botanists76 that roses and socks do not produce a like aroma. Few of the bunkhouses have any tables. Water and tin basins are near the door for the use of those acquainted with the custom of bathing.

In the office where the clerk, the bosses, scalers and others of more pretentious occupation sleep, one corner is set apart for the wannigan, as the small camp store is called. Here the workers buy clothing, shoes, tobacco and the few articles needed in the camp. The stock is not extensive, but the price of the articles is far reaching. One of the clerks said, "I have charge of the wannigan—the first graft of the lumberjack."

Where once the timid deer cropped the tender herbage, the rough camps of the lumbermen are seen. Before the mighty swing of the keen blades the solitudes are passing away. In Minnesota, two billion board feet of lumber represent the cut of the winter months, and in the camps and mills almost forty thousand men are employed. Logging is an extensive industry, and it has been brought to a high degree of efficiency in Minnesota.

77 Every day the tote teams pass between the camps and the village carrying provisions for man and beast. These teams are the means of communication between the foresters and civilization.

Where there are several camps owned by the same company, the most important personage is the representative of the company who is known among the men as the "walking boss," because he is always passing from camp to camp, seeing to the interests of the firm. The "walking boss" gives his orders to the subordinate boss who has charge of an individual camp. This subordinate is known as the "push." Under the "push" is another who goes by the name of the "straw push." The camps have their own nomenclature, and some of the names are interesting and humorous. The carpenter is the "wood butcher;" the clerk is the "ink splasher," or the "bloat that makes the stroke;" the man who tends the logging roads and keeps them free from anything that would interfere with the heavy sleds is called the "road monkey;" the workman who keeps the fires in the bunkhouse and does odd jobs around the camp goes by the78 title of "bull cook," because, in the old days when oxen were used his duty was to see to their comfort; the missionary is known as the "sky pilot," and the top-loader is called the "sky hooker." Besides these named there are the cook and cookees, skidders, teamsters, sawyers, swampers, the barn boss and the blacksmith.

"In the works" where the trees are felled, the men work in crews. The sawyers bring the giants to the earth and the swampers clear the trunk of its branches and make the openings through which the logs are drawn to the skidways. After the tree has fallen, a man called the "punk hunter" examines it to see if it be sound and marks the dimensions into which the log is to be sawn.

The loads hauled from the skidways to the landings average differently in the camps, owing to the condition of the roads. Where the roads are the best the amount drawn by two or four horses is almost incredible. In 1905 a load of logs was hauled into Tenstrike, Minnesota, which scaled over twenty thousand feet. One of the camps situated near Shell Lake, Wisconsin, is said to have hauled the largest load of79 logs ever drawn out of a camp by four horses. The load contained thirty-one thousand four hundred and eighty feet. A thousand feet in the green log, with its attendant slabs and bark, will weigh nearly eight thousand pounds. The above figures will give some idea of the great weight of the loads, and also of the perfection to which the road-making must be carried to make such results possible.

Into these camps with the coming of winter the lumberjacks crowd. "Why is it that they are willing to go into isolation and hardship?" you ask. We can only answer, "Why does the sailor go down to the sea in ships?" It seems to get into the blood. Douglas Malloch, in "The Calling of the Pine," says:

"When I listen to the callin' of the pine,
When I drink the brimmin' cup of forest wine—
Then the path of life is sweet to my travel-weary feet
When I listen to the callin' of the pine."

There are lots of men who have followed the camps from boyhood. I met one man80 who had spent forty-four winters in the woods and his brother almost as many. It had become a second nature to them and the lure of the camps was irresistible.

In the towns and villages adjacent to the camps the lumberjacks are seen at their worst because civilization only welcomes them to its vices; in the camps the woodsmen are seen at their best because the causes of their depravity are absent. These big, hearty fellows may be strong in vices, but they are by no means lacking in virtues. They have their code of honor, and the man who departs from it will find it necessary to depart from the camp. Depraved as are most of them, yet in many ways they command the respect of the men who are acquainted with their better natures.

The old lumberjack will not tolerate the least word of slander against a good woman. If she is entitled to his respect she is entitled to his defense. He may be steeped in vice himself, but he esteems those whose lives are clean, and a good woman appeals to his chivalry. A woman is as safe in the camps as in her own home; her purity is her protection and his respect goes out to81 her. The Sisters of Charity go through the camps soliciting for the hospitals and schools. Between the camps they are often miles from any habitation and when night overtakes them they sleep in the camps. I have never heard of one of them being molested in these lonely trips, and among the rough, profane foresters they are as safe as behind the carefully locked doors of the convent. The lumberjack who would molest one of them, or any good woman, would probably not leave the camp alive. Shielded by her womanhood, she is safe even among the men who are foreign to restraint.

On one occasion a camp foreman with his wife entered the caboose of a logging train. In the car a number of men were drinking. The bottle was passed around and all drank, the foreman included. As the bottle went the rounds it was offered to the foreman's wife, but scarcely had the bottle been extended to her when the husband floored the donor with his fist and proceeded to kick him out of the car. He was not going to allow any man to treat his wife as a woman of the street.

In the settling of disputes, nature's weapons are the sole instruments used. The fist82 is the arbiter, although the boot is sometimes called into exercise. The gloves and wrestling help to pass many lonely hours, but sometimes these friendly bouts generate a battle in which hate is the ruling passion. Fights due to personal animosity are to be expected where men are free from the restraints of civilization. In one of the camps an ex-convict worked and for some unknown reason made life unbearable to a pleasant, easy-going Irishman. The ex-convict was ever trying for a fight, but the Irishman's blood was more sluggish than that of the average son of Erin. At last the attacks were more than the peace-loving fellow could stand. (How does the proverb read? "Beware of the wrath of the silent man.") He went to his bunk and put on his spike boots and rushed out to meet the ex-convict. With a blow of his fist he floored the former prisoner and, beside himself with rage, kicked him until the body of his tormentor was a bloody jelly. Had not the loggers interfered the ex-convict would have been murdered. The wounded man was taken to the hospital, where he remained for several weeks, and on recovering he left83 for other parts, to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Though the labor is hard and the hours long, for the men are at work when the sun appears and it is dark when they leave the works, yet there is a constant variety in their lives. It takes little to amuse them, and less to make them "jump their jobs." The lumberjack is not apt to complain when things go wrong, but rather to walk into the office and demand his wages, after which he will proceed to another camp. Sometimes a whole camp will suddenly leave because of some imposition or provocation that may in itself seem slight. One of the men last winter "took the cake" in this. He went into the cookshed for his breakfast, but being a little late found that the pancake dough was all gone and there were no cakes for him. He immediately went to the clerk and demanded his wages. Here is another case:

Something had gone wrong and Jack Olson was ready to leave the camp. He proceeded to the office and demanded the amount due him, but the clerk was a surly bully and in reply tossed the little Norwegian out of the office. Against such physical84 tactics Olson felt he could do nothing, so he sat around the bunkhouse until his bunkmate returned from the works.

"The bloat wouldn't give you your stake, hey?" said bunky.

"And he kicked me out of the office," added Olson.

Bunky was interested, very interested. His eyes twinkled as he thought of the splendid opening the action of the clerk had given him for a little added excitement.

"Come on, John, old boy," he said, affectionately taking Olson by the waist and leading him to the office. "Come on and watch the free show while the bloat makes out your check and mine."

Arriving at the office, bunky entered it with a jar.

"Sit down there, John, in that reserved seat while I raise the curtain and turn on the red fire."

Stepping close to the clerk, Olson's husky bunkmate shook his monstrous fist under the nose of the astonished time-keeper, and said:

"Are you the guy that splashes ink? Then sprinkle out my walk and do it infernally85 quick. Sprinkle out Olson's, too, and if you don't hurry this little shack will look like Hades upset. Splash the ink blank lively or I'll make a blotter out of you."

Without a word the "guy that splashes ink" began his work and the walks were sprinkled out in record time. Bunky and Olson left the office with the air of victorious generals and traveled to the nearest town to blow in the stake in fitting celebration.

Card playing is a great time killer in some of the camps and when the towns are not accessible the woodsmen often spend the whole of the Sabbath playing with the greasy cardboards. Some of the proprietors do not allow card playing and they say the prohibition has caused a more peaceful state. Since the Logging Camp Mission now distributes large quantities of literature a number of the workmen spend their spare moments in reading.

Many of them will discuss spiritual matters, and in language that is shockingly contrasted with the subject, for so habituated are they to profanity that it does not appear to the speaker as in the least incongruous.

86 After one of the meetings it was discovered that Mr. Higgins had left a hymn book. The forgotten book fell into the hands of a lumberjack who could read music and who possessed a good voice. The following evening he began to sing the hymns and the camp gathered to listen.

"That's a d—n fine song," said the singer enthusiastically, "the show don't reach it, not by a Hades of a sight."

He sang another and remarked on closing, for the sentiment of the song appealed to him:

"How the devil do they think of such fine things? It's the prettiest little son of (the nameless) that I ever heard." This was said admiringly, and with the intention of expressing appreciation, but the habit of the man was profane and he knew not how to express his feelings unless with verbal gestures.

Profanity is so common to some of them that they seem to swear with every breath they draw. An old-timer told the writer of an incident he had witnessed. They were loading cars with a steam jammer. The sky-hooker, or top-loader, who was exceptionally87 profane, was at his post on the top of the car. One of the logs did not come up in the way that suited him and he broke into a stream of profanity that startled even the lumberjacks. The sky-hooker ended his profanity with a direct appeal to all the Persons of the God-head—a most unspeakable oath.

"It was the most blasphemous sentence I ever heard," said the old-timer, "and we stood around startled." Less than ten minutes afterwards the hook broke, and an enormous log weighing several tons crushed the body of the hooker to pulp. "The Father had answered," reverently remarked the woodsman. "I used to swear in those days but I never have since."

If you wish to meet generous-hearted fellows, visit the logging camps. Anyone who has dealings with the lumberjacks will testify to the truth of the above statement. The typical lumberjack is large-hearted, touched with generous impulse and responsive in his desire to ameliorate suffering. Often he will impoverish himself to give to the causes that help humanity. Money is of little value to him; it only represents the88 power of producing a short-lived pleasure, and he is therefore willing to share with others that they may be happy. As the following incidents will illustrate:

One of the men had taken his family to the camp and built a little shack in which to house them during the winter. Mr. Higgins had held services in the camp, and the logger requested him to baptize their baby when he next visited them. Happening to be in the city shortly afterwards the missionary mentioned the fact of the coming baptism and the ladies of the church in which he was speaking thought they would contribute to the happiness of the occasion by sending the baby a bundle of clothing. The missionary presented the package after the baptismal service was concluded and the parents hastened to view the contents.

A crowd of campmen had been invited to witness the christening of "our kid," as they called the baby, and when they saw that the articles sent to the child were second-hand garments their wrath kindled. "Our kid" was insulted and every man resented it.

"We're no paupers," they cried. "What do the city folks mean by insulting the kid with duds like these?"

89 "That kid has got to have the best glad rags. No make-overs for him."

A collection was immediately taken, and every generous soul cast in his two bits so that the kid of the camp could hold up his head.

B—— R—— was taken sick and had to leave the camp. For a year disease held him in its grip. He was a man of family, having a wife and seven children who were dependent on his labors. Death visited the home and took one of the children, adding to the financial burden. The news of the family's needs came to Wilson Bros.' Camps 2 and 3, and immediately ninety dollars was raised and sent to Mr. R—— to help him along. The boys were willing to respond and gave gladly.

Many a poor fellow has found true charity among these men, for their hearts are large and given to generosity. The dead lumberjack does not find a corner in the potter's field, the boys see that he is decently interred; the sick do not often fall on the community, for they are helped by their fellows. Say what you will about the lumberjack, but put the grace of charity to his credit, and let it cover a multitude of sins.

90 There is little chance for personal cleanliness in the camps. No facilities are there for bathing unless one is willing to do so in the presence of the whole camp; the clothing is often worn much longer than is conducive to health, and many of the things we consider so essential are missing, yet few of the men are affected with sickness. Unsanitary are the surroundings, but the hours in the pure air and the hard, active lives of the workers seem to counteract the disease-breeding conditions. Most of the cases that go to the hospitals are due to accidents rather than to disease. Accidents are all too common in the camps. Felling the large trees is never without hazard and the loading of the logs is more dangerous still. The heavy hauling adds an element of uncertainty, particularly where there are grades to be run on the way to the landing. It requires skill to let a load down the grade. This is done by means of sand or hay being placed in the ruts so that the runners of the sled are retarded in the descent, but if the load be checked suddenly it will cause the logs to shift, endangering the life of man and beast.

91 From what has been written in the foregoing chapters we do not desire to convey the impression that all the campmen are depraved and sunken in vice. There are all kinds and conditions of men among them. Many of them have been well educated, have come from homes of refinement and ease, but through adversity have gone to lower plains of life. Others have followed the woods from youth and feel that they are not fitted for any other class of labor, yet amidst surroundings that tempt to viciousness they have kept their moral virtues with scrupulous care.

The campmen are a neglected class of men. No one has in past years tried to touch them with the elevating power of good. They are what they are because their labors have isolated them from civilization and its agencies for good, while the vices of the provinces have followed them because there were dollars to be gained. The railway men of a few years ago were almost in the same condition as the lumberjacks of today. The saving power to the railroader was the restraint that their homes cast about them, and through their homes the gospel92 and other adjuncts of civilization were possible, but these are men who are separated from their homes or unblessed with home ties. When Christian indifference was supplanted with Christian activity a change was soon noted among the workers on the railroad and they became a respectable class of men, of whom the nation is justly proud. Y. M. C. A.s were established for their benefit, missions were opened where they congregated, the church held out its hand in welcome, and under the stimulus of gospel encouragement they arose. But what has been done for the lumberjack? Almost nothing. In the camps he works through the dreary, cruel winter, and when he returns to civilization in the spring only the hand of the depraved is extended in welcome.




"The woods were God's first temples." I cannot pass through the pineries, beholding the long fingers of cooling green pointing to the eternal blue, without feeling an exaltation of spirit, a desire to praise the Creator. The shrub and towering tree, the aisles of the woods and the sweet soothing comfort of the silence all conduce to prayer and adoration. No temple is more suggestive of worship than that whose dome is of sheltering leaves and whose columns are living, graceful trees. But the camps are the destroyers of the primitive temples, and their denizens are not suggestive of devoutness; yet in the rude hewn shacks of the lumberjacks nature is heard speaking and her voice is persuasively calling to worship. In the gray of dawn her call is clear and sweet, and as the loggers tighten their heavy belts and view the new-born day she whispers,96 "Praise." In the busy noon day, amidst the bruised and broken tops, the playing winds repeat the echo of the morning, "Praise." Then when the hush of evening falls o'er the dying day and the purple of the west shows through the crown of richest green, the evening shadows take up the chorus, "Praise him for his goodness, for his love to the children of men."

On visiting a camp for the first time Frank Higgins is apt to inquire, "Ever had any preachers up this way?"

"No. Nobody cares whether we make the landing in Hades or not," is likely to be the answer.

"Preachers are only after the stake," said one. "They don't care for us poor devils. Heaven was made for the rich, and not for us lumberjacks. We're only welcome down the slide."

"Well, here is one who isn't after the stake," replied the minister, "and his interest is in the lumberjack."

"Where is the guy? I'd like to meet him," remarked the woodsman, evidently thinking such a preacher must be an unknown variety.

97 "I'm the fellow," returned the missionary, "and I'll prove it by preaching in the bunkhouse tonight. What time will suit? 7:30, you say? Well, let all the boys know and come prepared to sing. That's your part of the service."

The Rev. Frank Higgins has not much suggestion of "the cloth" about him. If you met him on the logging road there is nothing in his dress to stamp him as a minister, but everything to proclaim him a lumberjack. His dress is that of his parishioners, mackinaw jacket, belt, boots, socks and cap suggest the logger. His physical appearance is in keeping with the camp; he is broad-shouldered and built for endurance. He is not a tall man, being but five feet nine or ten, but his weight is two hundred pounds of muscle. He does not look the preacher, but ask the lumberjacks about it and they will tell you "there is no other."

The supper is over and the men have crowded into the bunkhouse where the meeting is to be held. What an audience! It is cosmopolitan; the ends of the earth have contributed, except the far east. All classes and conditions are in the group, evidences98 of the best and worst, but on all of them the stamp of isolation—they are far from the accustomed haunts of men, and everything proclaims it. Sixty to one hundred and sixty men are in the log shack. The benches at the end of the bunks are filled with waiting men, the bunks above contain many who are lounging in attitudes of individual fancy. No straight, erect or formal audience is this; it is as free as the forest air, as informal as Eden, but not so cleanly. The congregation is coatless, collarless, often bootless, for probably half of them are in their stocking feet, while the temporarily discarded boots are heaped around the huge stove to dry. Pipes send forth long streams of smoke, and in various parts of the room card games are in progress. Extra lanterns hang around the shack, sending out a dim uncertain light that only partly dissipates the gloom of the interior. The cylindrical stove contains the crackling logs and the emitted warmth is the only note of cheer. The rank odor of cheap tobacco mingles with the nauseating aroma of the myriad socks hung above the stove and the poorly ventilated place is stifling, oppressive99 and depressing. Everything is unsuggestive of the sanctuary, but the Father of men meets with his children in the heavy smelling bunkhouse the same as in the bright, costly cathedral.

Behind the upturned barrel, whose altar cloth is a coarse horse blanket, stands the preacher. No Genevan gown lends its grace to his figure, but coatless he stands, an earnest man, physically fearless, powerful in the love for God and man. The hymnbooks have been passed around, some familiar hymn is announced and the command to sing is given. Not such music as kisses the ear of the worshiper in the fashionable churches, where the trained voices blend in superb harmony, is the music in the camps. It lacks in sweetness, but is not deficient in volume and heartiness.

Scripture is read, or rather recited, for it is nearly impossible to read in the dim light emitted by the lanterns, then the Sky Pilot tells what the gospel can do for the loggers and what the Christ can accomplish in them. He speaks plainly of their wasted lives, the folly of spending their money in the saloons, in gambling dens, in brothels, and100 points them to Christ, who can keep a man from all that links him to the pit.

Do the men listen to the story of the Savior? Yes, with an interest that can only come from soul-starved men. They have been feeding on the husks, have known the companionship of swine in the form of men and vampires who resembled women, have wanted love and found only vice; so they listen gladly to the news of another life, another world, another love that is clean and pure. Their dreams have been of heaven, but their lives have been lived in hell, and the Sky Pilot's story seems to make the dream attainable.

I well remember a sermon he preached on the Prodigal Son, but the environment must be present if one is to reproduce the sermon. It was well suited to the audience, plain, too plain for a city audience, but an unmistakable message for the men of the forest. Figures of speech had little place in it; of poetry there was little except the poetry of direct simplicity; it was unadorned Anglo-Saxon with the crash and clang of the language in its strength, but it was a story full of love, hope and cheer that appealed101 to the hundred men who breathlessly listened while the wind of winter beat the drifting snow against the camp.

Here are some extracts given wholly from memory:

"One of the boys stayed at home and one left the old homestead. Now it wasn't the fellow that stayed at home that the father was worrying about, but the fellow that packed his "turkey" and went out to blow his stake. You lumberjacks are in that youngster's place and the old folks are wondering where you are and what you are doing. Because a man leaves home it isn't necessary to be a prodigal, but his chances to make a fool of himself are better if he is away from the old home and its memories."

Then came the story of his own home-leaving and how the mother watched him until the turn in the road hid him from view.

"That mother's prayers have followed me through life. My story is yours with the names changed. Some one wants to hear that you still live. Write a letter tonight.

"Because the fellow had money he found friends, but there never was a friend worth102 having who was made or bought through money. This young fellow in the parable reminds me of the lumberjack coming down the river in the spring and landing in one of the logging towns. Men who have never heard of him become his friends at once; the barkers of the dens wait at the train to give him the glad hand; he has friends galore and is the most popular man that enters the town—he has money. Then they bleed him to a finish, as they did the prodigal in the Bible. There are men in these towns who have your wages figured up already and they smile and chuckle as they toast their shins at the base burner, thinking what a good time they will have with your money when you come down in the spring. Don't think you are working for yourselves; the saloonmen and their crowd are the ones who cash your checks and bank your coin. Some of the men in the saloon business that came to these parts when I did and were as poor as I am, are now living in the finest houses in the north and eat the best the land affords. The wives of these men are dressed in silks, and their hands and necks glisten with the jewels you bought with your winter's103 labor—but you still wear the coarse socks and haven't a cent in the bank. Now, men, were you ever invited into the homes you built for the saloonmen, gamblers and brothel keepers? Were you ever given an introduction to the wives whom you dressed in silks and jewels? No, and you never will be. They don't want you; they are after your cash. That's how they treated the prodigal of old; that's how they treat the prodigal lumberjack of today.

"Well, after awhile the prodigal was broke and he asked his friends for a lift, but his friends weren't in the lifting business. It was their business to help him to spend, but not to spend for him. Do you remember when you had spent all at the bar, the wheel, or the brothel, how you asked a loan for a lodging of the man in whose till your winter's earnings rested, and he gave you a hunch to go up river and earn more? Well, the prodigal was in the same boat, for they said to him as they said to you, 'Go up the river, old man. It's the husks and the hogs for you now.'

"But when the men who rob and spoil will not give you a hand, the Father will.104 In the father's home was the only place the prodigal found a hearty reception, and in the Lord Jesus Christ you will find a welcome."

Then came the gospel message with its cheer and loving hope, the story of how God gave Christ to die that the prodigal might have light and love, and how through him the homestead opens, where love undefiled and almighty help is given unstintedly.

It was a homely sermon, a plain message, a description of life they too well understood because they had too often experienced it. Many a head was bowed in shame as the story of the prodigal's life was told, for the listeners knew it was a tale, not of the times of Christ, but taken from their own lives. When the preacher spoke of the loving Father who warmly welcomes the wanderers there was expectancy in the faces of the auditors.

It was after Mr. Higgins had preached this sermon on a former occasion that a young man came to him for a private conversation. The sermon had awakened a longing for a better life in which real love was to take the place of shame. He had105 been carried back to the old home, and heard the mother praying for the absent boy.

"Pilot," he said, "I want to pray for myself. Tell me how and I'll do it."

"Come on, my boy," said the Pilot, "and under the pines we'll pray together."

Out under the tall sentinels they went, and there on the frozen snow they knelt while the prayers of the minister and the lumberjack ascended to the ever-approachable throne.

The next day the lad wrote home to his old mother in Quebec, telling her of his hope in Christ and his new relation to God. She had not heard from him in months, and now the news he sent made her join in the raptures of the angel chorus. Immediately she wrote a letter of gratitude to Mr. Higgins and when the missionary read, "For this my son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found," he saw a new figure in the parable—it was the prodigal's mother.

After the meeting is over and the shack is lighted only by the stray gleams that steal through the chinks of the stove, some of the men will continue to talk to the minister of106 their far-off homes and the loved ones they have not seen for years. The years are reviewed and there is a wish that life were different. By the burning fires of the bunkhouse many a long closed heart has been opened and many a life surrendered to God.

Sometimes a man will come to Mr. Higgins after the services and invite the missionary to sleep with him in the bunkhouse. Since the missionaries are generously accorded the privileges of the office by almost all of the proprietors, the invitation of the lumberjack is one that holds in itself no allurement. The bunks in the sleeping quarters of the men are often filled with small annoyances that are fruitful and multiply and disturb the occupants of the bunks. But when such an invitation is given the missionary seldom refuses it. He knows that the man who gives it means more than to share the discomforts of his lodging—he wishes to get near the messenger so that in the darkness and quiet he can secure spiritual aid. In the bunks men have been helped over difficulties and have freely surrendered themselves to the Divine Son. There may be distasteful things to encounter,107 but the chance to help a man is worth more than the sacrifice of comfort.

It was after a camp service that a young man came to the Pilot and asked:

"Isn't there any way that I can make my life count? I'm sick of going on this way, Pilot. I'm sledding in the wrong direction. Tonight I'm disgusted, so give me a lift."

As a result of the lift he was led to God and encouraged to save his money for future schooling. During the evenings of that winter the young man spent his time in study and when spring came a large part of his earnings were deposited in the bank. The following summer he procured work in the saw mill and books were the companions of his leisure hours. So absorbed did he become in his new purpose that he carried his book to the mill and when the machinery stopped to make repairs out came the book. The proprietor of the mill observed the diligence of the new hand and changed him to the sawdust pile where he could have more time for his books. So absorbed would he become that often he allowed the sawdust to take care of itself. The men called him "the book worm in the sawdust."108 School followed his winter's work, and now he is a successful civil engineer. In the bunkhouse on the night of his surrender a soul and a life were saved.

That sweet old favorite hymn, the favorite of the home and prayer meeting, the source of comfort in the house of mourning, is the favorite in the camps—"Jesus, Lover of My Soul." Those unloved men of the distant places feel the influence of the hymn which speaks of the tender Christ opening his bosom to the outcast as well as the respected. Its plaintive melody appeals to them, and the lonely men of the forest sing it with the spirit of those who long for sympathy and unselfish love.

The night before they had sung the old song over and over again. The whole camp had joined in with hearty spirit. After the breakfast was over the men went to the bunkhouse to wait for the word of the "push" ordering them to the morning's labor in the works. While they waited one of the men who possessed a rich tenor voice struck up the hymn, "Jesus lover of my soul, Let me to thy bosom fly." One by one the men joined in the song, and the solo passed109 into a chorus of one hundred voices. Out through the twilight of the morning the melody rolled, waking the sleeping pines and crossing the frozen streams. The men in the stables, harnessing their horses, heard the song and softly whistled it; the cook, busy with his pots and pans, hummed in unison, and the swearing cookee closed his profane mouth and listened in wonder. Over in the office where the proprietor and others of the higher grade of labor made their quarters, the song caused silent amazement, for it did not seem like the morning hour of the camp, where usually only profane sounds break the stillness.

"Other refuge have I none, Hangs my helpless soul on Thee," sang the men. "Leave, ah, leave me not alone," and it came from the hearts of men who knew the weight of lonely weeks and months. The Sky Pilot in the office turned his face to the wall and prayed while they sang.

"All out," cried the "push," and from the bunkhouse streamed the men, singing the song of comfort. Into groups they separated, each going his appointed way, but the song still continued in all parts of the forest,110 until the sweet melody of the hymn died to tender murmurs and was lost in the distant evergreens. In all that north state no happier body of men went forth to toil, for with them went the spirit of the song.

Sometimes disturbances mar the meetings. But they are not as frequent as in the early days, when it was considered the proper thing in some camps to create a row. The earnestness of the man and the strength of his body has gained respect for this teacher of righteousness. The work, also, is better understood and a realization of the value of missionary effort has brought about a change in sentiment. When Mr. Higgins first began his work he used a little muscular Christianity as well as persuasion in regulating the deportment of the men during the services; now he has learned a better way. The Frenchman who undertook to create a rough house, and suddenly found himself standing on his head in a barrel of water, having been put there by the Rev. Frank Higgins, will not feel like disturbing one of his services again. The persuasion of a man who can physically take care of a religious gathering is a great incentive to111 undisturbed worship, even though the meeting be held in the forest.

The day after the meeting is the time for personal work, for hand-picked fruit, for heart-to-heart conversations. While the service is in progress the quick eye of the evangelist singles out those who are most receptive to the word of life, and on the morrow he goes to assist by private word the work done in the public meeting. From the clerk he finds where they are working in the forest and goes to join them in their labors. Here is where the finely developed body comes into play for the King. One of the secrets of aiding workingmen is to understand their labors; they admire the man who is capable in their individual line, and Frank Higgins is a woodsman who knows how to swing the ax and pull the saw. While working with them he talks of Christ and tries to draw the worker to him.

In the bunkhouse, during one of the services, an old man sat in his bunk with his little nondescript dog in his lap. Loneliness was written on his deep-lined face; while the others sang he was silent.

112 "Don't you sing?" asked the missionary, handing him a book.

"None of your blank business," gruffly mumbled the old man.

All through the service the old fellow was silent, seemingly hearing no word of the sermon. The next day the missionary went to the "ink splasher" and inquired where the old man could be found.

"That's Old Grouchy. He's the road monkey and you'll find him on the east road about this time of day," directed the clerk.

"Good morning," was the greeting of the missionary as he came up to the road monkey.

"Mornin'," answered Old Grouchy, in non-committal tones.

"Your roads are in fine shape, almost perfect," said the missionary, sparring for an opening.

"Bad, infernally bad," answered the road monkey.

"Like the job?" asked the preacher to encourage conversation.

"Yes, the way the damned like their lodgings," burst out Old Grouchy. "But113 what is it to you whether I like it or not? You can't change it."

Before the preacher could make reply the little dog came out of the woods, where he had been in pursuit of a pine squirrel, and came to the minister for attention. It was a dog of many breeds, but the road monkey's eyes fell upon it lovingly and the minister saw the look.

"A good friend of yours, I suppose," said the Sky Pilot.

"The only friend I have," and the tone was soft and reflective.

The minister knew that he had found the opening to the old man's heart and began to talk of his own dog team, the faithfulness and intelligence of the animals and the companionship they freely gave. Old Grouchy joined in the conversation and discussed with freedom the love he felt for the dumb creatures. From this they drifted to matters more personal until the whole story of the man's life was narrated and the cause of his cynicism was bared.

It was a story of startling disappointment, of a home wrecked through unfaithfulness and broken trust. No man could hear the story and remain unsympathetic.

114 "No wonder you see the world darkened," said the preacher; "if I had your experience I might feel as you do today."

The missionary talked to the man and tried to lead him to the bright paths of peace, but nothing appealed to the sad soul of the lonely man. The gospel gave him no hope, the sun was set, and all was covered with the curtains of night. God to him was dead and in all the world the only love he knew was the dumb affection of the forlorn yellow dog.

When Mr. Higgins went back to that camp in later days the road monkey would listen attentively to the presentation of the loving Christ and seemed to wonder if it were possible that God could care for him.

"Sing, brother," said the missionary. But the old man only shook his head. He would not sing. Nay! he could not. His heart strings were withered; melody had left him through the unfaithfulness of woman. He had passed into the starless night where no glimmer of hope entered, and in his solitude he caressed his little dog and perhaps wondered if the great God cared, if any being was interested in him besides the faithful little animal.

115 The Rev. Frank Higgins was preparing for the evening service. He had rolled the barrel into the center of the room where it was to do duty as a pulpit. The proprietor of the camp came in and seeing the barrel, but not knowing its intended purpose, appropriated it as a seat. Not wishing to disturb the proprietor, Mr. Higgins stood by his side and conducted the service.

The place was well filled and the interest was intense. The men entered heartily into the singing, and when the sermon came it was full of keen home thrusts. The errors of the lumberjacks were pointed out with freedom and a remedy forced with conviction. The proprietor sitting on the pulpit enjoyed the straightforward way in which the preacher dealt with the lumberjacks, and at every telling shot heartily applauded and added some words of encouragement to the speaker.

"Now you're getting them, Higgins; keep the chips a-flying. Give them another whirl, Pilot; you have them where the hide is thin." With these and other suggestions he added his encouragement.

It happened that while the proprietor was116 a man whose record as a logger was one of the best in the state, being able to get out his logs where others would fail, yet his morals were far below his business reputation. His son was following in his footsteps, much to the sorrow of the mother and the disgust of the father.

After the proprietor had applauded several times and given his advice as to the style of preaching suited to the lumberjacks, Mr. Higgins turned his guns on the proprietors, contractors and foremen for the example some of them set before the men.

"I do not wonder that you lumberjacks live shameless lives, for the leaders of the work often set you the worst examples. Some of the proprietors, contractors and bosses are to be found drinking, gambling and carousing in the villages and towns, and they who should lead you into better things are only examples of riot and immorality. They are your examples and you are responding to them."

The proprietor sat silent.

"Why don't you applaud that sentiment also?" asked the preacher of the proprietor. "It's just as true as the others."

117 When Mr. Higgins went into the office that night the proprietor was there, and as he entered the logger looked up and said: "That was pretty blank plain, Pilot."

"I always preach so the audience will understand me," replied the minister.

"But you needn't have shouted the whole blank thing before the crowd," returned the proprietor.

"I didn't tell them a thing but what they already knew, Mr. Blank. The boys know how you are living and that your son is following pretty close in your footsteps. It's time to call a halt, for you can't be proud of the example you're setting."

Before the missionary left the camp the proprietor came and thanked him for not only fearlessly preaching to the lumberjacks but for being equally ready to preach to the lumber kings.

While many refuse the word of life, yet the seed sown often springs up in later days to show that a dormant seed may yet come to fruitage.

One who had often attended the services came to no decision as the result of the sowing. Shortly afterwards he was seriously118 hurt and carried to the hospital. Mr. Higgins visited him and tried to bring him to a decision. Since there was no hope of recovery he was carried to his Canadian home to die among his kinsmen. There in the long days of pain and waiting the seed scattered in the meetings began to spring and come to full fruitage, for the dying man passed over the river lighted by the presence of one who said, "I am the light of the world."

While the Sky Pilot preached in a certain camp there was a wondrous quiet, for the Spirit of God brooded above the place, and his presence always brings life. No one was surprised when a woodsman walked up to the preacher and said, "Mr. Higgins, I want you to pray for me right now."

The sermon closed without another word and prayer was offered for the desiring man who had boldly taken a stand for righteousness. When the minister had closed his prayer the man said, "I want to pray for myself," and in presence of the watching camp the man made his petition for pardon and received it.

119 Turning to his workmates he told them that this was the end of his old life and its works and that in the future he would work for Christ as well as trust him.

After supper was over the next evening the men of the camp received a new idea of Christian service. The convert of the previous night took out his violin and began to play the favorite of the camps—"Jesus Lover of My Soul." The lumberjacks listened and their interest turned to astonishment when the convert drew out a Bible and began to read a chapter to the crowd. But if they were astonished at the reading they were dumbfounded when he announced that he was going to give them a talk. He had learned the principles of scripture in his youth and now he gave the boys the old gospel which was doubly precious to him because of his recent experience.

Through the winter he continued to hold meetings with the men, and in all the north woods there was no prouder camp, for it claimed to be the only one having a settled pastor. When Mr. Higgins returned to the camp he found the men happy in the new condition, stimulated with the encouragement120 the convert had given them and more ready to learn of the transforming power of the Divine Man of Galilee.

"The woods were God's first temples," and in the green solitudes, under the unchanging pines, men are worshiping.



In all parts of northern Minnesota are found the logging camps. The distances traversed by the missionaries in reaching these outposts demand determined purpose, strength of body and love for humanity. The lumberjacks that are in a camp this winter are scattered all through the north with the opening of the next logging season, for there is little to tie a man to one employer in preference to another, and those who received the services of the mission workers one year are ever ready to claim them in their new place of labor. The result of this scattering is that requests come to Mr. Higgins from all parts of the lumber district, asking for the services of the missionaries. The demand is greater than the possibilities of the exchequer and many who ask meet with disappointment. A mission worker is placed over a group of camps,124 from eight to twenty, and from camp to camp he goes with his tidings of salvation, holding meetings every night in a different camp. The work is strenuous, and he must have a heart warm with the love for souls of men who would willingly, faithfully brave the dangers and privations consequent to the long distances between the camps. It would be hard to find a more devoted set of men than these hardy camp preachers, who set at naught the dangers that they may serve God and assist their fellows.

Rev. Frank E. Higgins is superintendent of the camp work and tries to reach every camp in which any of his workers are laboring. He is constantly on the go, "a sort of walking boss for the Sky Route Co." The scattered flock is loved by the shepherd and he will brave any danger to serve the people he has chosen to reach.

Minnesota's winters are severe. It seldom thaws after November and the thermometer often registers thirty degrees below zero, not seldom reaching a much lower mark. If a strong wind is blowing when the temperature is low the cold penetrates even the warmest furs and pierces the wayfarer with its keen arctic shafts.


125 Beautiful is the deep mantle of pinery snow. No soot or stain is on the bosom of the earth, only the long stretch of "the white silence." But too often the work of the missionaries is increased by the heavy snows, and the delight of the forest is lost in the heart-breaking labor of the journeys from camp to camp. Put your "turkey" on your back and try the trudge through the deep snows, and see if the romance does not depart as weariness enters the limbs. Step forward in the early morning through the new fallen snow. The north wind is visiting the earth, and his breath is penetrating even the furry clothing. Go on! The camp that ends the journey is only the little distance of ten long, lonely, humanless miles. The pack may be heavy when you start, but before long you are transporting a mountain that has developed from a peak to an endless range of Himalayas. The fun has departed and only the hard spirit of fatigue is your company. Every step is an effort, every blast of the wind reaches the marrow: the exposed face feels like cold onyx, and the wind-inflamed eyes look through frozen lashes for the smoke of the cookshed above126 the distant trees. The fingertips send to the brain their protest against the numbing cold that stiffens them, and the arms are swinging to aid the frozen blood to reach the pained extremities. Mile after mile, endlessly the trail stretches into the forest; mile after mile the pain and suffering continue; mile after mile the weary feet drag the heavy burden to carry the message of a Savior to the neglected men who, far from civilization, work in the pine forests of the North Star State. At last, yonder above the green sea of Norway lances, the column of smoke rises like a beacon to tell of warmth and food, and the safe companionship of men. The sight of the unconscious smoke acts like a stimulant. At last the view of the crude camp breaks in fulness on your eyes. Moses saw the Promised Land from a distance, but the sight of that collection of log shacks means more to you, tired and almost frozen, than the land beyond muddy Jordan did to the writer of the Pentateuch. It means a chance to rest, to warm—and to the missionary, who is daily making this journey through the frozen forest, a chance to preach the unsearchable riches of the world's Savior.

127 Night after night the missionary holds his meetings, each night in a different camp. The day is spent in passing from one camp to another, for often the camps are far apart and transportation is primitive; it depends on first principles.

During the first three years of Mr. Higgins' work he found that while a man could do much, a man and two dogs could do more. He secured two large St. Bernard dogs and by means of his dog team made the long journey between the camps. The idea of using a dog team is a very practical one. It furnished an easy means of locomotion, the task of stabling was not difficult and the cost of food nothing. When the run was to be made between points on the railway the dogs and sled could easily be placed in the baggage car and be ready for the drive to the camp as soon as the train stopped.

In all new work prejudice must be met, and in this respect the mission to the camps was no exception. Some thought it a new species of graft, others desired to be left to the old ways and many had a prejudice due to another form of religion. It is not often128 that dogs assist in breaking religious prejudices, but Flash and Spark had a large part in assisting the logging camp mission into easy paths. The lumberjacks are passionately fond of animals, and the advent of the dog team made a favorable first impression in almost every camp. The doors of many bunkhouses are secured by a sliding latch, and when pressure is brought to bear against the outside of the door it will open without the raising of the latch. On arriving at the camp in the evening the missionary would drive his team against the door and right into the bunkhouse. The sudden, unexpected arrival immediately created interest, and while the men crowded around the handsome dogs the minister would explain his business and announce the time of meeting. The dogs were protectors as well as workers and at the beginning of this work the faithful animals silenced many a menace.

The dogs were good travelers. Over the rough forest trails they would drag their sled at the rate of six or eight miles an hour and be none the worse for thirty or forty miles.

129 On a journey from Northome to International Falls, Minnesota, the Sky Pilot lost his way on the Little Fork River. When night came on and it was evident that no sheltered lodging could be found the minister and his dogs prepared to camp under the zero sky. A large fire was built around a pine stump and wood collected for the night. The only food Mr. Higgins had with him was a rabbit he had shot, and this was divided between himself and the dogs. It was the only food since breakfast. The sweet green boughs of the pines furnished a bed above the snow and the robes from the sled gave a degree of comfort to the resting place, whose canopy was the frozen dome of heaven. By his side the dogs pressed closely for the warmth. The dark depths of night hung like a spangled sheet above, but nearer than the shades which surrounded the sleeper was the One who never slumbereth.

During the night the howling of the timber wolves awakened the missionary and in the dark circle around him he could see the fireballs of their eyes, while their voices were distinct and near. Arising, the missionary130 replenished the fire, and when it broke into a cheery blaze the howling of the disappointed wolves grew fainter until the silence of the forest again took up its interrupted reign.

Early the next morning the minister was on his way and soon arrived at the village of Little Forks, where he conducted the first religious service ever held in that place.

On another occasion, when passing from one distant camp to another, Mr. Higgins was overtaken by a severe snowstorm and in a few minutes all sense of direction was lost in the raging blizzard. The dog team wandered from the beaten path into the muskeg and in the swamp they were compelled to spend most of the day. Toward evening the worst of the blizzard had passed and he was able to complete his long and weary journey.

After supper Mr. Higgins went to the barn to feed his dog team, but to his astonishment the dogs refused all food. He had driven them hard and long, so when they refused to eat he naturally thought it was due to overwork and reproached himself for being thoughtless of his friends. Later he went to them again, but they would not131 touch a morsel of food. With a sore heart the preacher retired to his bed, but his rest was disturbed with dreams of the overdriven dogs. He arose early, and when going towards the barn met the proprietor, whose face was red with anger.

"Is them blank dogs yours?" asked the angry man.

"They are," said the missionary, wondering if the man was going to add to the reproach by telling him that the dogs were dead.

"Then pay for the pork that the brutes chewed up while you were at supper last night. The hungry cannibals swiped half a hog and ate it. I ain't got nothin' but eggs and salt meat to give the boarders today."

While the enraged hotel keeper was narrating his tale of woe a load of anxiety passed from the preacher's mind and before, the proprietor had finished he found his auditor laughing with hearty spirit. Mr. Higgins paid for the meal of the "hungry cannibals," but he remarked in telling it:

"I did not object, for it was the only time I was ever asked to pay their board, and I132 assure you they earned it while we were trying to find our way in the blizzard."

Snow storms come up suddenly, and when the wind whirls the sheet of fallen flakes, all points of the compass are soon lost even to the well tried woodsman. The description of a blizzard may form an interesting page in fiction, but the experience adds to gray hairs and unending memory.

In January, 1906, Rev. Frank Higgins was crossing Red Lake, when the snow began to fall. The uninterrupted wind, as it swept down the long stretch of ice, caught the loose snow and filled the air with its choking mass. The wooded shore was soon hidden by the veiling snow and all sense of direction had disappeared. Down the twenty miles of the lake the crystal clouds swept with increasing volume. Night was coming on, and yet the darkness could scarcely add to the helplessness of the wanderers.

To the Father, who ruleth the rain of summer and the snow of winter, the missionary raised his prayer for help, and what man could not do was done by the leading of the ever-helpful God. He who guideth133 the stars in their courses led the lost to the wooded shore.

On the shore not a human habitation was to be seen, neither did the minister know the direction to the nearest village. For several hours he wandered in the unbroken forest, and near the low hour of midnight he came to the miserable shack of an Indian squaw. His scanty knowledge of the Indian tongue came into happy use and the lonely inhabitant granted him permission to sleep on the floor until morning came and the blizzard had spent itself.

When the Camp Mission first began to distribute literature, it caused a change in the means of transportation, for there were heavy boxes of old magazines to carry to the camps and horses were needed to haul the loads. Mr. Higgins had noticed that there was little to amuse the men of the camps and nothing helpful for their leisure hours. He therefore wrote to the churches in the state asking them to collect old magazines and ship them to him for distribution. The churches responded and soon he and his helpers were distributing literature to about one hundred camps. From five to134 seven tons of magazines are distributed in a season. Great good has come from this feature of the work; it gave the mind another channel for vent, the filthy conversation so common in the camps has largely passed away, and through reading the men are less inclined to quarrels. It has been noticed by the logging contractors that even the illiterate find recreation in the illustrations and many a dark hour has been brightened to the men who never read a line.

On going into a camp which he was visiting for the first time, Mr. Higgins held his service and afterwards distributed his magazines. Immediately there was a rush for the reading matter and then for the wannigan to buy lanterns by which to read. In a few minutes the clerk had sold every lantern he had in stock and could have disposed of several more, had they been on hand.

"What are you doing?" asked the cranky clerk when the Sky Pilot entered the office a little later. "Are you trying to turn the bunkshack into a night school? I've sold every lantern in the place and the Jacks are crying like fiends for more."

135 "I've only distributed a few magazines so the boys can read a little improving matter," said the minister.

"Lumberjacks improving their minds?" sarcastically replied "the guy that splashes ink." "This neck of the woods will have a university extension course next, if this thing keeps up."

"You surely don't object to the boys reading?" asked the minister.

"Not at all," said the clerk sulkily, "but you might have remembered that a clerk has lots of time to read and have left a few of your mind-improvers for his use also."

The clerk received his share of the reading matter before the Pilot left the camp.

Often when a box of magazines is brought into the camp the men who have gone to their bunks will arise and greedily come forward to receive their share in the distribution. These magazines are passed from one to another until they are read and reread, or worn out from much handling. Of the lonely lives cheered by them, God only could give the number.

In a warehouse in Akeley, Minnesota, a bundle of magazines addressed to Rev.136 Frank E. Higgins was waiting for the tote-team to carry it to a neighboring camp. The tote-team driver came in, somewhat the worse for the liquid refreshment he had taken. While looking over the bundles waiting for his load he espied the one addressed to the Rev. Frank E. Higgins. The bundle interested him and he read aloud:

"The Rev. Frank E. Higgins. Say, penpusher, who is this for? Is it for our Frank Higgins, the Sky Pilot?"

"That's the man," replied the clerk.

"The Rev. Frank E. Higgins," read again the driver, "some mistake here, penpusher, the Sky Pilot's no reverend, he's a Christian. That man's no reverend, he's a Christian."

Shouldering the bundle he carried it to the sleigh, still mumbling, "He's no reverend, he's a Christian."

Pertaining to the use of the title "Sky Pilot," a little story is told.

A minister who was going through the camps investigating the work of the mission referred to the various workers as "Sky Pilot Davis," "Sky Pilot Date," and others. He had heard the term used in reference to Mr. Higgins and naturally assumed that it137 was a title common to all the camp preachers. The push in one of the camps heard him, and turning to the clerk, asked:

"What the devil does he mean by Sky Piloting around that way? You'd think the woods were full of Sky Pilots, while we all know there's only one, that's Higgins."

The tendency of the lumberjack is to give the title to Mr. Higgins alone, although it is occasionally given to the others, but seldom by the old time lumberjacks. Higgins alone is the Sky Pilot to them.

Among the rigid Catholics there is naturally a prejudice against Protestant work, but it seems that the work must be done by Protestants or left undone. A priest could hardly do the work. It would be difficult to go through the forms and ceremonies of Catholicism in the camps. Forms and ceremonies are not successful when interruptions are common and likely to occur at any time.

But Mike Sullivan was no bigot. He could appreciate the idea that all men were striving to please God and hoping to reach the same Heaven.

"This idea of having many churches don't bother me any more," he said. "I138 think I get the idea. It's like this: these camps around here's all working for one company. O'Brien is push on section nine, Johnson's boss at Camp 2 on fourteen, Kirk is foreman on the north half of twenty-six and White sees to the cuttin' on thirty-six, while every gang is landing its stuff on the same lake and in the spring they'll make the drive together down the river. Gettin' out logs is what they're paid for and the lumber king in Minneapolis foots the bill for the whole works. So what's the use of jawin' if the push in our camp wears a different kind o' shirt than the push on thirty-six. Logs is what the man in Minneapolis wants and he don't care how them different foremen skids the logs so long as they get the stuff to the landing. That's my way of looking at the churches."

Now the work has proved itself, it is much better understood and more highly appreciated by men of all religious persuasions. Many of the Catholics are deeply interested in the progress of the work, for they know that it does not strive to make Protestants of them, but that its end and aim is to lead the lumberjacks to a better life through the simple presentation of Jesus Christ. The139 result is that all classes and conditions crowd into the place of meeting and give respectful attention to the word of life.

One night at Stewart's camp, out from Blackduck, Minnesota, the meeting was in full swing when two teamsters entered the bunkhouse and took their seats by the fire. It was after eight o'clock, and they had just returned from Blackduck where they had been with their loads. On returning to the camp they learned that the Sky Pilot was holding service and came in supperless to enjoy the meeting. Few of our towns people would forego the pleasures of the table, after the appetite had been sharpened by hours of labor in the keen air of winter, in order to attend a religious service. Such a desire for the gospel on the part of the men fills the missionary with a desire to impart the truth. It is an inspiration to preach to an eager audience.

The toil of the missionary increases with each day. Exposure robs the body of its vitality, the severe temperature and the strong breath of the wind diminish the powers of the men who must endure them, be they ever so strong.

140 The Sky Pilot had been hard at work for several months and the arduous labor had told on his unusual strength. He had taken cold through exposure, but the work was calling and he pushed on to the waiting camps. It was storming and the pack he was carrying grew heavier with every tired step. He thought that the exercise of the journey would in itself work a cure, but the pain increased and the wretchedness was accentuated by the cold. Drearily he plodded on, hoping that some tote-team would come that way and carry him to the camp, but no welcome conveyance appeared. Unable to proceed any further, he at last sat down in the drifted snow to rest. Through the cut over lands the cold wind swept its unobstructed way, chilling the sick man to the marrow. Off in the far north the tall Norways lifted their long arms to heaven, while the blasts of the wind waved them like the grain fields of the treeless prairie. Miles to the southward lay the habitations of men, and yonder in the hiding groves to the north was the camp he was hoping to reach. There was warmth there, and to the sick man the uninviting camp seemed a palace of comfort. If he could only reach the shacks, if141 he could reach the boys, that was all he asked.

Gathering his remaining strength, he struggled to his feet and pressed slowly towards the goal. At last he entered the uncut timber where the strength of the blast was broken by the trees. On through the untrodden snow he tramped, bent with weariness, worn and pained, pressing on in spite of illness until the smoke of the cookshed showed itself above the hollow in which the buildings were located. There the lumberjacks found him and assisted him to the shelter of the camp, where they tenderly worked to warm and comfort the man who had so often stood between them and death. Everything that they could do for the missionary was gladly done, but they were limited by isolation and the minister was very sick. After supper the men in the bunkhouse discussed the situation:

"The Sky Pilot's a pretty sick man," said the bull cook, "and we ought to do something to help the poor devil." This was rough but affectionate.

"Whiskey's a good thing for one that's ailin'," suggested one.

142 "Whiskey?" remarked another, "what's the use of talking about whiskey in this camp? You know that Sweeny's tongue has been hanging out for a week and that's proof there isn't a drop in the camp."

Various remedies were suggested but they were not to be found. The men were discouraged in their helplessness.

"We ought to do something for him," said a Christian sawyer, "we can't give him any medicine for we haven't it, but I'll tell you boys, we can pray for the man that is always praying for us."

The men were silent for a moment, then a driver said, "I guess it's the only thing we can do, but we've never logged much on that land. You start the deal, Johnson, for you're onto that game more than the rest of the push. You say it aloud, Johnson, and we'll sort of keep you company."

Reverently the men stood with bowed heads while the Christian lumberjack led in a rude prayer, and silently the men, who prayed not for themselves, joined in the petition for the man who "was always praying for them."

That night when the missionary heard of the praying lumberjacks he thanked God143 and wept himself to sleep. The morning brought a brighter day to the men, for they heard that their prayers had been answered,—the Sky Pilot was on the way to recovery.

Whiskey, the Wheel and Women are the Three Fates of the woodsmen. If the lumberjacks could be separated from these the chances for lifting them to a higher level would be increased. Whiskey is the worst of them and leads to the others. For self protection the proprietors and contractors of the camps are compelled to watch that no liquor enters; with its introduction trouble begins and a reduced output of logs is the result. Yet in spite of the care exercised by respectable foremen, it makes its way into the camp, being carried by the tote-teams, the bootlegger, and the men when returning from the neighboring towns. Men with strong appetites generally find a way to satisfy their desires. The camp may be miles from civilization, but the curse of Olympic gods and depraved men makes its way into the inaccessible places. Where a camp is near a village alcohol is easy to obtain, and Sunday, being a day of rest, is likely to be a day of carousing and shame.

There were several camps near Island144 Lake, and on the Sunday that Frank Higgins visited the camps there the boys had been "tanking up" with squirrel whiskey from early morn. At the afternoon meeting the spirit of whiskey showed itself in many disturbances. One intoxicated man was worse than the others and was finally thrown out of the bunkhouse by the minister, and after that things went smoothly.

Later in the day the missionary was in the village of Island Lake and while talking to a friend, the lumberjack he had ejected from the camp came staggering up. The campman was accompanied by a score of his mates who were also under the influence of liquor.

"Are you the blank preacher that fired me out of the camp?" asked the man of the sudden exit. There was passion in his tone and he was evidently anxious for a row.

"I am the man," replied the brawny preacher, drawing himself up and advancing toward the lumberjack, "what have you to say against it?"

The drunken man looked at the minister as steadily as his unsteady legs would allow him, and suddenly changed his mind about the intended row.


145 "Not a word, preacher, not a word. I ain't got a word to say against it. Preacher, don't you ever think I want to say anything against it. I just wanted to know if you was the man, that's all. You're all right, preacher, you're all right. 'Twas a blank good throw. I ain't got nothin' against it."

Turning to the other lumberjacks, Mr. Higgins said:

"Boys, did you ever know Higgins to do you a bad turn? Can you show me where I have not tried to help you? Yet for the sport of the thing you try to get this poor, drunken fellow to cause trouble, just for a moment's laughter. Is that a proper return?"

The men made no answer, but shame rested on many a winter beaten cheek. That night in a nearby camp almost every man of them came to the preacher after the meeting.

"Forget it, Pilot," said the spokesman, "We're ashamed of the way we came at you, but you know it wasn't us, it was Whiskey. That's your only enemy in these woods. Say you'll forget it and shake."

"Thanks, boys, I have already. Give me your hands."

146 The pastorate has its trials, as every minister knows, but for unbounded variety of the unexpected the camp missionary has the city man far in the rear. Church quarrels have bounds, but where are the limits of the quarrels of the lumberjacks? From words they readily pass to blows and in a moment's flight blood-shed results. In February of this year the writer received a letter from Mr. Higgins, describing a railway trip. A portion is appended:

"I recently left Deer River on the Itasca Logging Railroad for Fourtown, and experienced the worst trip it was ever my lot to take. The car was crowded with lumberjacks, few of whom were sober. The woodsmen had over twenty quarts of Deer River squirrel whiskey, and in a short time things were moving at a terrific rate. You may call it a tempest in a teapot, but never have I seen anything like the affair; no human tongue could describe the sight. The Irish, the Swedes and the Glengarry Scotch were filled with whiskey, and every man was out for blood, and blood they had,—an abundance of it. An old time lumberjack said that in all his days in the woods he has yet to see the equal of the scene.

147 "I took a hand in trying to keep the boys in order and although I succeeded in preventing three fights, the conditions were soon beyond me, for it was impossible, even for a traveling missionary, to be in more than one part of the car at the same time and the performance was more than a three ring affair.

"When matters got to this pace I had to content myself with taking a hand only when it seemed that permanent injury would be done to the participants. One old man, very much under the influence of liquor, had his face battered beyond recognition. I pulled off the chastiser, but did not succeed in releasing the old man before one of his eyes had been closed and the mouth and face were covered with blood. No sooner had the champion of this affair been separated from the old man than another lumberjack was at the bully and the bully was taking the same medicine he had so liberally given to the old fellow. This second scrap placed another patient on my hands.

"When we came to the different camps and the men began to get off the train, I had to literally drag them through the snow away from the track, so they would not be148 killed, for many of them were too drunk and excited to realize the danger.

"I hope I shall never see such a condition again. Was it not Paul who said, 'I have fought with beasts at Ephesus.' I had a like experience on that logging train. A sober woodsman who saw the fight of the drunken lumberjacks said, 'Pilot, why do you continue to work among such men?' and I made answer, 'Because my Master died to save such.' This is to me a sufficient answer. The conditions need changing, and the only thing that will bring about a change is the Gospel."

In the sleigh of the Sky Pilot antiseptic bandages and a few medicines are carried. Through them he is able to relieve the wounded and assist the sick. His sleigh is often converted into an ambulance and men who have met with accidents are carried to the nearest hospital for treatment. If the accident is severe he visits the wounded to give cheer and hope. There, in the hospital, the men have time to think of eternal things, and the comfort of Christ is often the stimulus of the recovering and the solace of the dying.

149 When death is approaching, the last letters are written and assurance of decent interment is given. The poor lumberjack may have no money to meet the expense, but the minister makes all arrangements for the funeral and after the body is entombed he goes back to the camp and tells the boys of their comrade's request for Christian burial. The campmen pay back every cent the Sky Pilot has expended.

"Tell the boys that in this hour Jesus Christ brought his strong salvation to me," said a dying man. "Ask them to trust him."

When the missionary goes back to the camp with such a message from the dead the interest is profound. Coming from one of themselves it seems more real than if it were the message of the preacher. When the testimony comes from their own mates they are more receptive to the gentle Gospel of the Cross. Often in death a lumberjack, by his message to the foresters, has accomplished more than in his years of life.

While speaking of this itinerating work we must add a paragraph concerning the homesteaders. In this forest region is much land that is open to settlement. The little cabins150 of the homesteaders, who have taken up claims, are seen in many parts of the forest, and the small clearings tell of man's presence. When the settlers hear that Rev. Frank E. Higgins is to hold services in a neighboring camp they are often found at the bunkhouse meetings. Mr. Higgins is practically the only pastor who visits the scattered peasantry; he conducts their marriage ceremonies, baptizes their children and speaks the last words over their dead. Into these homes he alone comes bearing spiritual tidings. Some of these homesteaders work their farms in summer and in the winter help out the scanty increase of the little fields by working in the logging camps. So in passing the new homes he leaves the literature, "speaks a good word for Jesus Christ," adds a sentence of comfort and passes along the trail,—like a true servant of him who was gladly received by the common people because he went about doing good. "Go ye into the highways and hedges," said the Nazarene.



In the camps the missionary is largely a preacher; in the lumber towns the work he must do is cut to no design or pattern. One might call it pastoral work, and in a free use of the term it is, but I know of no pastor who is doing work of this nature unless it be the men in the city missions. It is work which consists largely of the unexpected—changing a chance circumstance into Christian activity.

The villages and towns have followed the railways, bringing in the many alluring vices of civilization. Through the approaches of vice the campmen have been demoralized, their lives made almost worthless, and their characters seared with the brand of iniquity. The contractors find it a task to obtain suitable men for their crews, for the saloon and its concomitant evils have made many of the lumberjacks irresponsible and incapable.154 The men will leave their work on the least provocation to spend a few days in debauchery. Often a contractor finds himself, in the parlance of the camps, "with one crew coming to camp, another working, and another leaving camp." This means loss on the part of the men and inability on the part of the contractor to deliver his contract of logs. As one contractor expressed it: "The jacks work until their hides begin to crack, then follow their tongues to the nearest irrigation plant, tank up until the stake is blown, then mosey to a camp to dry out again." The village and town saloons are largely the cause of this. The rum shops, and worse, are ever on the lookout for the boys, and he who escapes the clutches of the godless crowd must indeed be immune to temptation.

Mr. Higgins was in a hotel in Tenstrike, Minnesota, when a lumberjack who had finished his winter's work came into the house to wait for the train going south. Immediately the saloon men and gamblers were after him but he resisted and left the village with his check uncashed. The gamblers learned that he was going to Bemidji so they wired to the gamblers of that place to meet him.155 When the woodsman left the train he was hailed by a waiting "toot." The "toot" was genial, gracious, sympathetic, and to cement the friendship, the one must treat and the other do likewise. While they drank the attendant at the wheel made music with the roulette ball and soon in response to the siren's singing the lumberjack was seated at the wheel where he lost in a few hours the wages it had taken him months to earn. When he left the place he was drunken, penniless, forsaken.

The writer and Frank Higgins were going through a gambling den in one of the northern towns. At the roulette wheel sat a young traveling man playing his chips with liberal hand. Merrily the ivory rattled in the groove and settled in the space. Now he lost, now he won. Joy or anguish was on his face as he played to increase his winnings or retrieve his losses. It was interesting to watch the play of the man's passions as expressed in his countenance. Hour after hour the game dragged on. We visited other resorts of the lumberjack and returned at midnight, but the traveling man was still at the wheel. Hope still lingered, but from the haggard, drawn expression of his face156 we could tell that he had lost heavily. It was 1:30 A. M., when the game ended and the man was without a cent. Mr. Higgins spoke to him in the lobby of the hotel. Despair was depicted on the man's face. Worn with anxiety, he staggered like one under the power of liquor, although not a drop had passed his lips, and the wild look of his eyes suggested the haunted mien of one who might attempt his own life.

When Mr. Higgins spoke to him, he replied:

"I am an embezzler tonight. I have spent all my own money and all the money with which my employer had trusted me. I deserve the penitentiary."

Continuing, he told us his story. He was trained to a profession but the confinement of his vocation brought on ill health and he had begun to travel for a well known firm. He was the only child of respectable parents, and in his present wretchedness he thought of the disappointment and grief coming to these aged ones as a result of his folly. I could not but admire the handsome fellow, foolish though he was, for his apparent love for his home.

157 "I have disgraced them," he said in anguish, "and when they hear of my dishonesty it will kill them."

He went to the desk and wrote a letter to the firm telling them of his fall and how he had lost their money in gambling. When he was about to mail the letter Mr. Higgins went to him again and tried to induce him to go to bed.

"No," he said, "I could not sleep, and if I could, I have no money to pay for a room. I have been dishonest enough already without wronging the proprietor."

"Clerk, give him a room and charge it to me," said Mr. Higgins, taking the matter into his own hands. "Now, brother, you go to bed and stay there until I call you, and we'll see what we can do. Don't mail that letter. Perhaps it won't be necessary in the morning."

He went to breakfast with us. After the meal the missionary went out to interview the town and county officials. The result of the conference was that the gambler turned over to the traveling man the amount of money embezzled and took his note for the same. The traveling man pledged his word never to gamble again and went on his way158 sadder, and we hope wiser, because of the experience.

The same night on which the above incident occurred, we entered a palatial saloon and gambling place and found but few men present, for it was a season when most of the men were in camp after spending the Christmas holidays in town. We entered into conversation with the proprietor of the place.

"Things are pretty quiet," said Mr. Higgins, "I suppose you are not making expenses just now?"

"Hardly," answered the proprietor, "but I needn't worry, it will come in later." He nodded to the camps west of town, "All the boys are working."

This is the attitude of these keepers. They consider the earnings of the lumberjack as their legitimate spoil and part of their yearly income.

The wife of one of the saloon proprietors, overhearing a remark concerning her jewels and apparel, said:

"I can afford to wear rich clothing. My husband has about a thousand men working for him in the woods." The meaning was obvious: that these men would spend their159 earnings in the saloon, at the gaming table, and in the retreats connected with her husband's establishment.

The brazen effrontery of those engaged in this business is indescribable. The flesh and blood of men is to be lowered to the level of the brutes, appetites of lust are to be satisfied, passions of evil are to be encouraged, and no shade of shame is to be found on the countenances of this depraving element. Where money is to be had the souls of men are not to be considered. Human misery is nothing. There is money in the damning business—then damn the soul and get the money is the policy.

An extensive self-satisfaction, a mantle of self-righteousness, clothes the men of this vocation.

"Bad? Of course it's a bad business," said one, "but if we don't sell the stuff some one else will. As long as there are fools to buy it we intend to supply them. It's their lookout, not ours."

"But don't you think you are morally responsible for tempting men?" I asked.

"All a man is responsible for is being honest," he replied. "I have been honest in all I have done. No man was ever robbed in160 my place, and the games are straight. I may go to hell when I am through here, but my job will be shoveling coal to make it hotter for the hypocrites who profess to be honest and then steal when they get the chance."

They talked freely of their business and one gambler had the courage to make this assertion:

"There isn't a more honest set of men in the country than the professional gamblers. They are all right, but the associations are bad."

The above may be a description of some gamblers, but not of all, for it is well known that the games are often crooked and by mechanical devices are made a sure thing for the house.

In one of the range towns a cruiser entered a gambler's place with several thousand dollars in his possession. It was not long before he had lost all. Satisfying himself that the game was not "on the square," he drew his gun and shot up both the gambler and the wheel, took his money from the till and left the place. The gambler was maimed for life.

The saloons and gambling places are palatial and attractive. They are fitted with161 the best the town affords, resplendent with glitter and flash of lights, showy woodwork and decorated walls. Courtesy and attention await the victims, for an army of men is ready to respond to any desire the lumberjacks may express, no matter how low. Everything is designed to allure. No wonder the men who have known only the discomforts of the camps, with their hard, grinding labor and unaesthetic surroundings, are easily caught in the net that is spread at their feet.

Because of this lawless element so common in the lumber towns, and the unrestrained ways in which almost all of the towns are run, the "open" policy being the common one, there is work for the camp missionary to do. The Rev. Frank Higgins goes into the saloons to find the stray sheep. His errands of mercy have led him into hundreds of dram shops and gambling places.

The writer was with him in one of the towns and the following incidents are only a part of that day's work of helpfulness:

Having heard from a contractor that one of the boys had been reduced to helplessness through drink, and more than drink, Mr.162 Higgins started for the saloons and continued his search through many groggeries until at last he found the man. The poor drunken wretch was lying on the floor behind the stove, and the missionary put his strong arms around the besotted being and almost carried him to a lodging place where his needs were supplied.

After that we visited the hospital to call on the camp boys. There he heard of a lumberjack who had been dismissed from the hospital that morning. The man was able to be around but too weak to work, and was penniless. So the second search began and the man was located in the lobby of a cheap hotel. Mr. Higgins went to the proprietor, guaranteed him against loss, and went on his way leaving the lumberjack free from care while regaining his strength. The man had been converted in the camps that winter, but so miserable had been his morals that no one trusted him. That was two years ago; today he is a respected Christian worker.

Later came the assisting of another helpless lumberjack and the day closed with the incident of the gambling traveling man, described in this chapter.

163 It is helpfulness that counts. On the banks of the Galilean lake our Master, who never wearied of doing good, met his disciple Peter and said unto him, "Simon, lovest thou me?"

Peter replied to the question, "Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee." Then the divine lips opened and gave to Peter and to us the end and aim of the Christian's relation to man—"Feed my sheep." If we love our Master, Christian activity in the form of assisting men should be an ever-present result.

In instances like the following the flesh may rebel, but the command still remains:

For three weeks Mike had been on a drunken spree; during the days and nights of debauchery he had not changed his clothes or even washed his hands. This was his condition when Mr. Higgins found him senseless with drink in the "snake room." The missionary took him to a lodging house and bathed the body from which the cleansing water had so long been absent. The man's feet were so swollen that the heavy boots were removed with difficulty and when the socks were taken off the skin came with them. It was no wonder that the effluvium164 drove the minister from the room. It was a hard task, against which the flesh rebelled, but the Master gave the command, "Feed my sheep," and here was one who needed attention. Tenderly the Sky Pilot watched over the poor fellow, supplying his needs until a few days later he was able to return to the camp. The man thus helped had been educated for the Catholic priesthood and drink had ruined him.

Actions such as these may not result in the great end of conversion, but they do result in aiding the cause of Christ, for the men see in the missionary the spirit of the helpful Master.

Many times during the period of Mr. Higgins' residence at Bemidji, Mrs. Higgins was awakened at night by some poor, spent lumberjack who came to the Sky Pilot's home to ask for assistance. Although she was alone, Mr. Higgins being in the camps, she would arise and feed the hungry man and then direct him to some place where he could spend the night.

"Who is that man?" asked a stranger who had been watching Mr. Higgins as he went among the lumberjacks in the village street.


165 "That's the Lumberjack Sky Pilot, a fellow who never turned a lumberjack down," said the woodsman, and added, "His job is keeping us out of hell." It was crudely expressed, but it represents the sentiment of the boys; with them Christianity must act as well as speak.

When a lumberjack is in trouble with the police he is quite sure to send for Mr. Higgins if the Sky Pilot happens to be in the village. Mr. Higgins is well known in these communities and the officials respect him for the interest he shows in his wayward flock. Many a poor fellow, who awakens from a drunken sleep to find himself in the lockup, wonders if the Sky Pilot is near. The missionary has often pleaded for a light sentence or asked for the case to be annulled.

On one occasion he had been called to the justice court to plead for a woodsman who was charged with being drunk and disorderly. The preacher asked the justice to make the sentence as light as possible and to allow the man to go after giving him a reprimand. The judge was an old friend of the missionary, and at the time of the trial could hardly be called sober. Often he would appear in his office the worse for liquor and166 dispense justice to the petty offenders. In spite of his failing, the justice had a shrewd sense of right and a great respect for the dignity of his office.

After hearing the plea that Mr. Higgins made for the lumberjack the judge decided to reprimand the man and dismiss the case. He tried to sober himself that the dignity of the law might not suffer through the weakness of the dispenser. He knew that the office called for erect deportment, so the bench straightened his figure and impressively began the reprimand:

"W-whiskey is-s a bad thing. It ma-akes a f-fool of an h-honest man and a d-d—n f-fool of a f-fool. It s-shouldn't be used by l-lumberjacks; t-they belong to the l-last c-class already. It ma-akes a f-fool of every man t-that touches it. If you don't believe it, j-just l-look at the j-judge who has the p-power of sentencing you. See w-what w-whiskey has done for him. B-because of my f-friend Higgins I'll let y-you off this t-time, but remember the j-judge and let w-whiskey alone. Dis-dismissed."

The example was a good one. Even Solomon could not have chosen a more timely illustration, for the judge vividly set forth167 in his own person what whiskey could do for a man, and the woodsman appreciated the force of the advice. Taking the missionary with him, the lumberjack went to the hotel and drew off his shoes. From the toes of the shoes he extracted a roll of bills containing one hundred and fifty dollars.

"If those blood suckers, who made me drunk, had known I had this, they would have robbed me of it the same as they did of the rest and I wouldn't have a cent now. Well, Pilot, I'm through with it. By God's help, this is the last."

The man went to North Dakota and settled on a farm. Today he is the proud owner of three hundred and twenty acres, and is prospering.

The writer is only trying to pen a brief picture of the field as it presents itself to the missionary. No man can give a full description of the wide privilege that is open to the minister in these places where the lumberjacks congregate. He is required to perform varying duties whether they are related to the minister's calling or not. Often, in the regular ministrations, elements are introduced that suggest the burlesque rather than168 the solemn services common to the ministry, as the following incident will illustrate:

It was the last day of the drive and the riverpigs were coming into town after their labors on the lakes and rivers. The town was reaping its harvest—at least the saloons and other evils were. As the Rev. Frank E. Higgins walked the street, he was approached by a drunken riverpig.

"Say, Pilot," he began, "one of our crew fell off a log, pulled the hole in after him and is at the coffin shop ready for the boneyard. We uns want him planted like a decent Christian; he wa'n't no squaw man or Indian. See to the trimmings, will you? Do the job up right if you have to buy out every wannigan in town. Are you on, Pilot? When you're ready call for us at Blank's saloon, for we want to go with you to Jim's bunking place."

The driver left him and entered Blank's saloon to report progress to the boys and the minister proceeded to the undertaker's establishment to make the necessary arrangements for the funeral. He ordered a plain pine coffin, and after procuring a dray for a hearse, drove up to Blank's saloon for the boys.

169 Out on the sidewalk the riverpigs came noisily, but when they saw the dray with its burden they stopped abruptly.

"It won't go, Pilot," said the one who had made the arrangements. "This is no jack-pine farmer's funeral; we're no cheap skates. This camp's got money and intends to blow it. See? Give us a run for our money."

Then another rum-soaked riverpig spoke up: "If this was a tin-horn gambler or a bloated saloon-keeper they'd have a hearse and a brass band. Jim's only a riverpig, but he's got to be planted with the frills just the same."

"Get a decent box and hearse and call again, Pilot," they shouted as they backed into the saloon to "keep their hides from cracking."

The funeral procession had a more imposing appearance when it drew up a second time at Blank's saloon. A hearse led the procession and six carriages completed the cortege. By this time the mourners were in a state of intoxication, in which feelings of the sublime and the ridiculous blend without effort.

"This is the way to do it," cried one of the riverpigs as he viewed the hearse and carriages.170 "Wouldn't Jim be tickled to death if he saw this show and knew that he was the whole blank thing?"

"Say, Pilot," said one whom Mr. Higgins was helping into a carriage, "when we meet Jim later he'll say, 'I'm proud of the way you fellows rid me out of town.'"

"Pretty near two months' wages gone for a box, but what's expense when we're planting Jim," weepingly commented his bunkmate. "He'd 'a done as much for me if I'd 'a give him a show. It's his last blow out anyway."

All the way to the cemetery the mourners talked in the above strain, constantly expressing their satisfaction over the "frills" of the obsequies and the "agony" they were showing for Jim. There was an undertone of complaint because poor drowned Jim did not come forward and personally thank them for the honor they had conferred.

Around the grave the riverpigs staggered and it looked as if more than Jim were going to occupy the grave, for with difficulty they were kept from tumbling in on the corpse. The minister spoke a few words on the uncertainty of life and the need of preparation for eternity, but his brief address171 was interrupted by the weeping of the drunken attendants and their interjected praises of the dead.

"Speak a good word for Jim, Pilot," said a weeping poleman. "Tell the Lord he could ride a log as well as the best of us."

"Get him through if you can; he wasn't so bad," was the parenthesis of a French-Canadian.

"Good bye, Jim. Our turn's comin'."

The last words were said, the benediction pronounced, and the Sky Pilot turned to leave the cemetery.

"Hold on, there," cried the foreman to the minister. "This is no pauper you buried, but a man whose friends ain't broke."

Taking off his hat, he turned to the crew. "Shell out, you blank sons of the nameless. Jim's been planted O. K., now pay the Sky Pilot for the words he shed over his bones. This is no poor farm job."

The boys shelled out eight dollars and sixty cents for the preacher's services.

The lumberjacks, the homesteaders, the saloon men and the prostitutes claim the missionary as their spiritual friend. It is on him they call when sickness enters their172 places of abode, and his response is willing and natural. He, as the servant of Christ, is the messenger to the poor and outcast; conditions of life are not considered.

One night, when the Pilot was in a brothel praying with a woman who was passing through the dark waters, the girls of the house crowded around to listen to the prayers and see the end. One of the girls invited him to a private conversation and in it told him the story of her life and the nearness of her death. The physician had informed her that six months was all she could hope to live. "I'll make a short six months of it, for this life is hell, and hell can't be any worse than this," she said.

When the church service closed on the following Sunday evening a messenger was waiting at the Bemidji church to ask him to come at once to the brothel. There he found the girl with whom he had talked. She had taken blue vitrol and this was the end. She had been true to her statement and had made a short six months of it.

The scarlet women turn to him naturally for aid, for they know that he will do all he can to assist in their reformation. His ready sympathy appeals to the outcasts.

173 On a train leaving Blackduck the Sky Pilot was sitting several seats from a woman whose business was unmistakable. The car was filled with men and the scarlet one was known to many in the coach. As the train started she beckoned to the preacher to come and sit beside her. A smile passed over the faces of the wise ones as the missionary took a seat at her side.

But this is the woman's story: She had recognized Mr. Higgins, having seen him when he visited a woman who was dying in a brothel. She was leaving the place of her sin and degradation and did not know which way to turn for help. Would he assist her? She was tired of it all and wanted to live a better life, but knew of no place that would open except such as linked her to the old.

Mr. Higgins knew of a place where the hands of Christians would welcome her and the doors were always open—a Christian refuge in the city of Duluth. Acting on his advice, and assisted by a letter of introduction, she went to the place and today leads a respectable life under the influence of a Savior. Did not the One of Nazareth say unto such, "Go, and sin no more?"

174 Such is the condition that confronts the missionary in the towns and villages near the camps. You may ask, "Are not the spoilers unfriendly, antagonistic to the missionary, since they see that his work is in opposition to theirs?" While they recognize Mr. Higgins as against their nefarious traffic, yet they admire his sincerity and honesty, and prove their respect for him by calling for his services in case of death. They know that their business is under the ban, but they also know that his Christian zeal causes him to love the men while he is still an enemy to the business. In one of the saloons where the writer accompanied Frank Higgins, the saloon man asked us to take a drink of seltzer water.

"I wouldn't take even a drink of water in one of your saloons," replied Mr. Higgins. "You know I am against your whole business."

"We know it," returned the saloon man, "but while you fight us, you do it fair, and although you hurt us, we like you in spite of it."

So without enemies, even among his opponents, he goes from place to place, helping175 pointing to Christ the lumberjacks, the saloon men, the gamblers and the prostitutes, doing a work few are fitted to do.

The logging camp mission work must of necessity be a disconnected one, and the missionary often does not see the final results of his labors as in a settled pastorate, but the churches reap the benefit of what is accomplished in the camps. Many are brought to Christ who would never have been touched by his saving power if it had not been for the itinerating work of the pineries. The church has too long neglected this large field. Now she is attempting to redeem the time, but the present effort is a small supply for such a large demand.

What is being done to counteract the influence that is thrown around the lumberjacks in the towns? At present there is practically nothing outside the two Bethels at Duluth, to help them, with the exception of a small effort in the way of reading rooms, and I know of only two of these, one in the town of Akeley, Minnesota, and the other in Bemidji, Minnesota. About a year ago Mrs. T. B. Walker and the M. E. Church of Akeley opened a public reading176 room particularly for the mill hands and employees of the Red River Lumber Company. A little later Mrs. Thomas Shevlin established the Crookston Lumber Company's Club Room in the town of Bemidji. Here the men can congregate and read the papers and magazines provided. But these are lonely exceptions of helpfulness.

The particular need of the lumbertown is a well-equipped, furnished and up-to-date Bethel, for at present the only places open to the lumberjacks are degrading—tending to produce poverty of soul and of purse. The churches of these towns are not strong enough to carry on the work unaided. If the demands are to be met, outside help must be extended. The churches are willing, for the members see the need of Bethels, but their own work calls for larger finances than at present they are able to command.

If there is no place for him to enter except the saloons, then of course we must expect the lumberjack to go where he will find a welcome. Open a place where he can find rest apart from the tentacles of temptation and we shall have done our part, and the forester will do his. A Bethel will be to him177 a haven towards which his weary feet and hungering social nature will turn with readiness, and in many cases with more readiness than they now turn to the saloons. All men are social creatures; the lumberjack is no exception. He wants to be where his fellows are, to join in their conversations and to take part in their interests, but the saloon is the only place that furnishes a convenient rallying point.

"I don't like the saloon, I don't care to drink," said one, "but all the fellows who are willing to talk to me are there and I must go where they are." To meet the needs of the homeless the Bethel must be substituted for the saloon. Since something is bound to grow, plant a virtue where you uproot a vice.

The Bethel is not an untried theory, but a proven success. Where these institutions have been introduced they have been well patronized and great good has been accomplished. A gentleman of Duluth, Minnesota, told of being on the bowery in that city, and noticed a lumberjack looking at every sign as he passed along. The man wondered if he was having difficulty in finding178 a saloon where saloons were so numerous. Suddenly the woodsman's face lighted up as he came in sight of a building bearing the sign of "Branch Bethel," and as he entered he seemed to say, "Thank God, this is for me. Here I shall find friends."

Once such rest places are opened they can be made self-supporting, or very nearly so. The lodging part of the plan would pay a good return, an employment agency could be carried on that, in itself, would be very helpful both to the men and employers, and add to the profits, while the missionary and Christian woodsmen would advertise the effort and largely add to its support. But apart from this, the good they would accomplish can only be appreciated by those who know the present surroundings of the campmen in town. When temptation is reduced the increase in virtue is proportionate, where the stimulus to righteousness is given men must respond. To prevent evil is as much a Christian work as saving the fallen, and prevention would give less need for cure.

In the establishment of a system of Bethels in the logging centers there is a fine opening for Christian philanthropy. The179 men who have made their fortunes through the labors of the woodsmen should be the first to look to the uplifting of the fallen men in their employ. In dollars and cents it would pay the lumber kings, and many of the difficulties now present in the employment of men would be gradually reduced. The lumbermen are becoming interested, but it is a work that calls forth the interest of every lover of humanity.




Muscular Christianity has a rather far-off sound in this matter-of-fact age where indifference is present and many a church is under the blight of apathy. But on the part of the logging camp missionary there is no apathy. His ministry is twofold: it is spiritual and muscular.

Let some one who is more interested in the dead past write the story of the rough but earnest Crusaders, who fought in the name of the gentle Christ with flesh-piercing spear and blood-letting sword. That is a tale, foreign, distant and past; the narrative I bring is native, near and present. This warfare is not with the weapons which are the product of the fire and anvil, yet it is muscular and strenuous; its purpose is not death, but life, and its spirit is love. The banner alone is the same—the Sign of the Cross.

184 Physical fitness of no common order is required of the missionary of the forest. In our northern pineries strength of limb, endurance and hardiness are the necessary capital of the workers. When the frolicsome winds drive the mercury thirty or forty degrees below zero and hold it in that low retreat for days, the men who work under the open sky must be vigorous to stand the taunts of the north wind and strong to resist the fettering cold. The pineries is no place for weaklings, either as pastor or logger. Brawn is an asset not despised, muscle is honored, and endurance is the ideal of the lumberjack.

The city pastor finds that head and heart predominate in his work for souls; the missionary of the logging camps soon realizes that the first essential is bodily excellency—heart and head are secondary in the estimation of the woodsmen. They pity a weakling, they respect a strong man. But to strength must be added devotion if the man who comes as Christ's messenger is to win. They will willingly listen to the rough address of a rough and ready man who can fell a tree with precision and ease; the argument185 of the man who is scientific of fist and nimble of leg is sure of a ready reception.

It follows that the same kind of ministry we look for in the city is not asked for in the camps. The object of the work is the same—the souls of men—but the methods and means are more varied. The man of tact soon sees that the body can be used to do a glorious work for the King, and that he who is fearful of manual exercise cannot be a winning ambassador for his Master.

Physical Christianity sounds like a story of the middle ages, but this form of godliness is being used successfully to point men to Christ in the great north woods. It is not forcing men to accept his teaching, but doing with physical might for him whatever the hands find to do.

Of more value than discussion will be the narrative, and so I present to the reader a few plain tales of the lights and shadows, the labors and losses in the life of the missionary who spends his all for the men who are far from civilization, far from Christ, lonely, wayward, rough, but still our brothers for whom our Master died.

186 The village was little more than a collection of rude shacks. In its confines two hundred people made their homes. Even in the logging district one would search long for a place more under the influence of open sin. The camps were near and the village traffic was evil—almost exclusively evil. Nine saloons were the ornaments of the place and the large brothel occupied a prominent place in the social life. There was little in the village to commend, much to condemn. Its influence was vicious and its efforts were to impoverish the campmen.

It was nearing the spring of 1905. The camps would soon break up for the winter, and the Rev. Frank E. Higgins, while making his rounds, found himself, after nightfall, in the village described above. The lunchroom was in the rear of a saloon and there the missionary took his belated meal. Many drinking lumberjacks were at the bar and soon they crowded around the minister with invitations to drink with them.

"I'll tell you what I'll do, boys; if my dog will drink the stuff you fellows are imbibing I'll drink with you," said Mr. Higgins.

He called his dog to him, and at his command187 Bess placed her front feet on the bar, but on smelling the beverage turned away.

"Can't do it, boys; I'd hate to set a bad example to my dog. You had better follow her lead. She has good sense, as you all know."

The men enjoyed the incident, and the tired preacher went to his room. The sleeping place was over the barroom, but in spite of the carousing, he was soon asleep.

Shortly after midnight the minister was awakened by a loud noise in the room below. The sound of breaking glass and furniture, the curses and cries of men rang loudly through the house. A fight was in progress and it was evident to the missionary that it was more than a trivial affair. Hastily he drew on some clothing and rushed down the stairway which opened into the barroom.

In the middle of the saloon stood F——, a foreman from a nearby camp. He was crazed with liquor and his powerful frame shook with the excitement of the contest. Over his head he held a heavy barroom chair, and lying near him were three men whom he had felled with the ready weapon. The bartender had taken refuge under the counter and outside of the open door were188 four lumberjacks who had fled into the cold, but now inviting, street. F—— was in possession of the field and the chair was both a weapon and a banner of victory.

"Canada against the world! The Scotch and nae ithers!" cried the drunken logger in delight as he viewed the vanquished.

Rushing in, Mr. Higgins grabbed the foreman. "F——, think what you're doing, old man. Do you want to kill some one?"

"A Hooligan struck me. Think of a Canadian being struck by a Hooligan! Its mair than flesh an' bluid can stan'," replied the foreman as he menacingly moved in the direction of the door where the enemy had retreated.

"You can't afford to become a murderer because a man lost his temper," said the preacher. "Put down that chair and show that you can control yourself, even if others can't."

Placing the chair on the floor, F—— watched Mr. Higgins assist the others to their feet, but the men in the street did not venture into the room until the preacher had led F—— up stairs.

The Sky Pilot took the foreman to his room, and when he saw him soundly sleeping,189 crept in beside him and soon was lost to the day's tasks and disturbances. But the missionary's sleep was not destined to be undisturbed, for soon drunken oaths, the shriek of a terrified woman and the heavy blows of an ax falling on a door made the preacher rush from his bed into the hall, where he found the proprietor of the place trying to break into his wife's room.

During the previous afternoon the proprietor's wife had learned that her husband was in a disreputable place and had gone to the brothel to persuade him to accompany her home. Her efforts were unavailing and he remained there drinking and carousing until midnight. When he returned home under the influence of liquor, his offended dignity sought retaliation in the murder of his wife.

With the assistance of the bartender, who by this time had gotten over his previous fright, Mr. Higgins disarmed the drunken proprietor and led him into another room, where the missionary remained with him until sleep held him fast.

The next day was the Sabbath. When the missionary had finished his breakfast he placed his phonograph on the table of the190 roulette wheel and started "Rock of Ages." The crowd of loungers had increased to a considerable number by the time several selections had been played, and when the song, "Where Is My Wandering Boy Tonight," came to a close, it was in a receptive mood. Portions of the Old Book were read and a heart to heart talk followed.

The proprietor refused to serve any drinks while this strange service was being held, and at the close of the meeting he asked the minister to remember him in prayer.

Shortly after the affair in the saloon the Sky Pilot was in the camp where F—— was foreman. It was the time when the annual offering was to be given for the support of the mission work. Mr. Higgins arrived at the hour of the evening meal and learned that the Sisters of Charity had been in the camp at noon soliciting for the hospital work. When the intelligence came to him he decided to defer his request for an offering and visit the camp a few days later.

After service Mr. Higgins said to the men: "It was my intention to ask you to contribute to this work tonight, but since the Sisters have canvassed the camp today we will let it go until my next visit."

191 The preacher had scarcely finished the announcement when F——, the foreman, sprang to his feet.

"Sit doon, Pilot," he said. "You dinna need to ask ony collection in this shanty. We ken a guid thing an' are willin' to pay for't. I'll tak' up the collection, although it's a new job to me. Shell oot, lads; remember the Lord and F—— love a cheerfu' giver."

When F—— had completed his self-imposed task he handed the missionary forty-seven dollars and fifty cents.


There is persuasiveness in a well-rounded muscular development. Some people are impervious to argument and some to courtesy, but few will fail to respond to the persuasiveness of a strong man with a mighty arm. Now I am not attempting to prove that this is best, nor would I care even to leave that intimation, but I remember the days when the rod properly applied was far more productive of good than all the homilies—in fact, the homilies were heard only because of the birch that, like Damocles' sword, was ever waiting to fall. But this is not autobiography.

192 Some men remain children, and only the potentials that produced results in childhood will aid to fruitage in their manhood. Corporal punishment was effective for good then, and if you read the next incident you will realize that it has its force after they have passed through the vicissitudes of youth and have attained the physical weight of manhood.

The bunkhouse meeting was in full swing. The singing was hearty, strong and free. When the lumberjacks wish to sing they produce a volume that is inspiring in spite of discords. Well, these men in Parker's Camp felt the spirit of song—but not all of them. An undertone of discontent came from a group of Frenchmen who sat together at the end of the shack. They did not relish the Protestant religion and intended to show their indigestion. The majority of the camp was in harmony with the preacher, but a small minority can easily turn peace into turmoil.


As the service progressed the opposition grew louder and remarks came freely from the French end of the house. Mr. Higgins went to the disturbers while the rest were singing and requested them to allow the others193 to enjoy the service. A second time the preacher solicited their sympathy and all went well until the address began. As the missionary proceeded in his message the rumble of the disturbers grew in volume until the address could not be heard. Patience was no longer a virtue, but an assistant to evil. Rolling up his sleeves, for he was preaching with his coat off, the minister left his barrel pulpit and visited the Frenchmen, not as an angel of mercy, but as a son of Mars. Taking a position that could not be misunderstood, he addressed them:

"You pea soup eaters will do one of two things," said the brawny evangelist, "you are going to listen to the gospel or take a thrashing. Speak up, which do you want?"

"Throw them through the roof, Pilot, we'll see fair play," cried a sympathizer.

"Take them one at a time, they won't last long," came from another. "Give them both the thrashing and the preaching," said the swamper. "You've got to puncture the hide of that outfit to get any decency into their heads."

Then came a deep silence. Only the winter wind outside and the roar of the stove within were heard. During the quiet the194 Frenchmen carefully viewed this muscular exponent of Christianity. On the preacher's arms stood the muscles in rounded hills and in his face was depicted determination and fearlessness. The examination was satisfactory; it was easy to decide in favor of a gospel message under such circumstances. The eyes of the Frenchmen dropped and the preacher had won.

"I would rather preach anyway," said the minister as he walked back to the barrel and took up the interrupted discourse.

Among the firm friends of the Sky Pilot that group of Frenchmen are now to be found. The coatless figure, burning with righteous indignation, powerful in right and backed with physical prowess, won the admiration of the disturbers. Conviction and fearlessness always open a way for him who is desirous of carrying the Cross. Even the opponents learn the lesson of respect.


On every fruit-bearing tree the worthless fruit clings with the good and mellow. Every effort is not a success, as all can testify. Some seed falls by the wayside and is trodden down. Again, the sower is not even allowed to sow by the wayside. The devil is not dead195 and his agents are faithful to their commander. As long as man is sinful, opposition will show itself, but the darkness of night makes the day more resplendent by contrast.

In the month of January, 1906, our missionary procured a letter of introduction from the proprietor of a camp near Kelliher, Minnesota to the foreman in charge. The letter gave Mr. Higgins the privilege of holding service in the bunkhouse. Armed with this letter, and accompanied by Mr. F. E. Davis, one of the camp workers, Mr. Higgins entered the camp.

On arriving they went immediately to the office and left their personal effects and a box of literature, and then proceeded to find the foreman in order to present their credentials. Near the cookshed they came across a burly Irishman who immediately bristled up and without waiting for any greeting began:

"Are you Higgins?"

"I am," answered the missionary. "Is this—"

"I am G—," he interrupted.

"I was looking for you Mr. G—. I have a letter of introduction from the proprietor,"196 said the missionary, at the same time producing the letter.

"I don't care a d—n if you have a letter from God Almighty," profanely burst out the push; "you can't preach in this camp. Get your things out of the office blank quick and get to Hades out of these works. I won't have any blank preachers among my men."

Mr. Higgins looked at the profane man and quietly answered: "I am in no haste about leaving, Mr. G—, in fact this camp has an added interest since I met you."

"Get out, or I'll throw you to Hades out of here," said the wrathy foreman.

"Not so hasty, Mr. G—," said the Sky Pilot. "I should be present during the disturbances and some one might get hurt. Is your hospital ticket good?"

While the minister looked at the cursing foreman he felt a strong desire to enforce a lesson in common courtesy,—that part of the foreman's education having evidently been neglected. But he thought, if I should do this physical duty the lumberjacks who are my friends will refuse to work for the foreman and the proprietor's kindness will be repaid with loss. He therefore decided to forego the privilege of improving the foreman's197 manner's, and for the proprietor's sake to say nothing that would come to the ears of the lumberjacks.

When the missionaries left the camp Mr. G— was not through with the incident, for the foreman's remarks had been overheard by some of the men and were soon the common property of the camp. The next day the foreman went into the blacksmith shop, and not being over civil to the vulcan in charge, was suddenly seized, dragged over the anvil and kicked out into the snow by the wrathy smith. As G— was gathering himself up, the man of metals gave him an extra kick and accompanied it with this enlightening remark:

"There, blast your Hades seared hide, is an extra one for the glad hand you gave the Sky Pilot yesterday. You son of the nameless, I'll teach you how to treat your betters and make your blank soul respect the clergy."

As a result of the incident a number of the men quit the camp, refusing to work for a "push who ain't got no decency."


Men who serve the Master will at the same time serve men. It seems but proper to demand198 of the Christian that he prove his profession by his love of humanity. The religion that is only preached meets few demands, the religion that is lived satisfies human wants. Jesus Christ bore a relation of helpfulness to the burdened world; the disciples of the Nazarene cannot do less than follow the example of the man loving Master. At least, this is the expectancy of the men, they simply take the Christian at his word. Mr. Higgins has instanced this many times, for his parishioners feel that when a man is needed the Christian should be the first to respond.

"Pilot," said a lumberjack to Mr. Higgins, "I've got a friend in the saloon over yonder and the drunken fool is blowing his stake as fast as he can throw it over the bar. I ain't able to get him out and the bar tender would give me a hunch to get out myself if I tried. Will you help me?"

"Come on," said the preacher. "We'll see what we can do together."

As they entered the barroom the woodsman pointed out his friend. Paddy was in that hilarious state of intoxication where liberality knows no bounds. He staggered up to the bar and in drunken happiness cried:

199 "Here, bung swater, set up to the house. Hades while the dough lasts. Turn the spigot and give us a beer bath."

Paddy generously emptied his pockets on the metal counter and a roll of bills and a handful of silver lay before the crowd.

The bar tender reached for the cash to sweep it into the till, but he was not quick enough, for the large hand of the missionary covered the roll of bills.

"I'll take this for my treat, Paddy," said Mr. Higgins in a quiet but decisive tone.

"No you don't," said the saloon man and he hastened to attack the intruder.

"Stand back," said the preacher. "You're not in my class, and I can't reduce my heft to accommodate a middle weight at this late hour."

The bar tender was full of fight and menacingly waved a weapon at the preacher, and several seconded him in the contest.

"Sit down, you heated fools," cried a campman; "that's the Sky Pilot, and the man that tackles him tackles me and some others."

"Paddy has had more than enough liquor already," continued the preacher, "the silver I left on the bar is more than sufficient to200 treat the crowd at his expense, so I'll keep the rest as Paddy's banker until he is in a condition to know the value of it." Turning to the saloonman, he said, "You call yourself a man and yet you would take all the winter's earnings of a poor fellow who is not in his right mind. You are a scoundrel or you would have sent this fellow away long ago."

Mr. Higgins and his friend got Paddy on the train and carried him to Bemidji where they put him to bed.

Next morning Paddy wandered into the lobby where the preacher was sitting. "Some one robbed me last night," he began; "they took every cent I had and pinched my hat and coat. What am I goin' to do?"

"Go home. That's what you're going to do," said the preacher with decision. "Nobody robbed you Paddy, nobody needed to. When I met you last night you were throwing your money away faster than they could take it from you. You had already lost your coat and you threw your hat out of the car window on the way here. But we managed to save a little for you, enough to get you back home." The preacher handed him the roll of bills he had saved. It contained forty dollars.

201 Paddy took the advice of the Sky Pilot and left at once for home, never again to appear among his old associates in the pineries. He is the brother of a respected Catholic priest, and comes of a prominent family.


The proverb reads, "A man is known by the company he keeps." In the main the proverb is true, but it is not always applicable. A slum worker differs from his associates; a camp worker is with the worst element of the camps more than with the men who walk straight; he goes where he is needed, and, like the Master, he is a friend of publicans and sinners. But he who lifts another does not lower himself, even if he has to stoop in order to lift. In fact, I doubt if there be even the suggestion of stooping. Although the physical figure implies the act—I rather believe that the good man lifts himself when he extends his hand down to another. Let me tell you a story, one that is well known in the northern woods:

A—— was built for doing things, and looked the part. If you were judging from appearances you would say that he was one of the best, and if you asked for confirmation202 of your opinion the lumberjack would answer regarding him, "None better in all the north woods,"—a high physical certification.

For some time A—— had been a foreman. His abilities won the admiration of the men and his habits of life made him feared,—it was another case of what whiskey can do with a man.

Once when Mr. Higgins was preaching in A——'s camp, A—— came into the meeting and drunkenly listened to the minister as he pleaded with the men to forsake evil and get right with God. A tense stillness hung over the bunkhouse and all the audience listened in sympathy.

Suddenly another voice broke into the harmony. It was A—— crying in fervid encouragement: "Lace it to them, Higgins, give them hell, old boy, the drunken sons of the nameless need a dose of religion to make them log right."

"Don't notice him, boys," said Mr. Higgins; "that is whiskey that is talking. A—— would be ashamed of that sort of thing if he were sober, but whiskey isn't ashamed of anything."

At the end of Frank Higgins' first year in Bemidji, when the camps were pouring203 their men into the towns, he happened to visit the little town of Farley, Minnesota. The lumberjacks owned the town. The long drought of winter was turned into a deluge and it was the evident intention of the foresters to consume in a day enough to make up for the enforced abstinence. A stream of coin passed over the bar and a tide of liquor came from the other side.

Near a saloon a laughing crowd watched the antics of a powerful fellow who drunkenly wallowed in the mud. Bewilderingly fluent and ingeniously profane was the man in the gutter, and his drunken comrades raised their laughter of approval at his antics and remarks. Pushing his way through the crowd, Mr. Higgins came upon the object of their mirth—it was A——, the foreman, too drunk to care about or to understand his degradation.

The missionary helped the foolish fellow to his feet and, leaning him against a building for support, scraped the filth from his garments with a shovel.

The father and brother-in-law of A—— were in the village and to them the missionary, took his drunken charge. A—— had been working but a few miles from home but had204 not visited his people for two years. When the relatives saw their son and brother, at the same time realizing his helplessness in the presence of temptation, they asked the missionary to take him to the Keeley Cure at Minneapolis, two hundred miles away.

Mr. Higgins was not anxious for the task, but he knew that there was a chance for at least a partial reformation, and anything was an improvement on the present way of living. The only way to accomplish the journey with an unwilling patient was to keep the man drunk and get him to the institute while under the influence of his enemy—this was beating the devil with his first lieutenant. So the minister packed his grip with unministerial baggage—whiskey—and patiently waited his train. It took three men to get the logger into the car, and with the beginning of the journey the real troubles of the temperance worker began. On one side was the grip loaded with bottles, on the other a man loaded with whiskey. The only thing that suggested the ministry was the half fare permit, and that was out of sight.

No wonder the conductor smiled when the minister presented his credentials. As the205 railroader punched the ticket, he said: "Are you on your way to Presbytery with a lay delegate, or are you both bound for a distillery convention?"

The smoking car was crowded with woodsmen on their way to the city. A—— was in fighting trim and only the ever present bottle could keep him from stirring up the crowd. Every few minutes the minister passed him the bottle and it acted like paregoric on a colicky baby. "It was the only time I tended bar all day, and I am not anxious to repeat the experience," said Mr. Higgins.

At Spur 25, A—— was sufficiently sober to recognize a friend who was waiting on the platform, and immediately he cried to the ministerial bar tender, "Here, Sky Pilot, give Kirk a drink. Hand him the glass works and let him sample the cold tea."

Between Farley and Walker the effluvia from bodies long immune to water, the disregard of sanitary requirements, the expectorations and the foul air of the crowded car became unbearable. The missionary felt it very necessary that he should go elsewhere and breathe a cleaner atmosphere, so he called a teamster and installed him as bartender206 while he went into the day coach to breathe. A——'s father was in the day coach but did not dare to approach his drunken son.

The missionary had not counted all the possible exigencies when he pressed the teamster into service. The substitute bartender had solaced himself with the liquid goods before entering the train, and was soon in a rapturous state from the mixture brought about from imbibing A——'s whiskey. Every time A—— demanded a drink the driver took one himself, and being a frugal soul, drank largely because another was paying the bill. He was a happy jack and expressed himself in song. It was the eighteenth of March, the day after St. Patrick's Day. On the platform at Walker a crowd of Irishmen were lounging, the green ribbons of yesterday's celebration adorning their lapels. The maudlin teamster was a protestant Irishman, and the green streamers aroused in his befuddled mind visions of glorious Londonderry days where the fist played a larger part in religion than it does in Minnesota. Leaning far out the window, until he seemed to balance on his belt buckle, he began the soul stirring melody "Protestant207 Boys." At least it was soul stirring to the Catholic Irish. At the depot the old scenes of Londonderry were renewed and a blow drove the teamster across the car and jammed him between the seats on the filthy floor. The feet of the Orangeman stuck high in the air, and though the trainmen tried to release him, they could not.

Unaware of what was happening in the next car, the minister was talking with A——'s father when the conductor broke into the conversation.

"Come into the smoker and take care of your parishioners, Mr. Higgins," he said hurriedly, "we can't handle that booze-soaked crew."

When Mr. Higgins entered the car he found that he had two patients that needed his immediate attention.

At Brainerd they changed cars and waited two hours for the Minneapolis train. The minister took his charge into the station. Here A—— gave an exhibition of drunken hilarity that drove out the self-respecting loungers and caused the station master to demand A——'s exit. The streets received the minister and his charge, but after a few improper208 acts and worse remarks an officer ordered them off the streets.

The only places open to the strollers were the saloons, and the minister led his companion into one of them. The saloonmen, because of the natural results of their business can stand considerable of the unusual, but this woodsman was able to give the denizens of Billingsgate advance instruction in the unprintable and nauseating. Not having lost all sense of the fitness of things, the saloon keeper escorted the woodsman to the door and Mr. Higgins again linked himself to the staggering man.

From one side of the walk to the other the powerful logger dragged the husky preacher, and as they continued through the streets the blasphemy and filth flowed on. It was the expected that happened; a representative of law and order threatened to lock up both pedestrians in the city jail—for the logger dragged the minister in his zig-zag course and both appeared drunken. But in spite of the rough clothes, the policeman soon recognized the Sky Pilot and placed the city jail at his disposal while waiting for the south bound train.

When A—— realized he was in the police209 station his temper suddenly arose and he rushed with closed fist at his companion. Mr. Higgins anticipated the attack and deftly stepped aside. The heavy blow fell on the panel of the station door, and a split panel and bruised knuckles were the results.

After some hours Minneapolis was reached, a cab took them to the Institute and the worst was over.

The minister and the patient entered the big rest room of the Institute just as the bell signaled the patients to prepare for treatment. The inmates began to remove their coats and to roll up their shirt sleeves so that the treatment could be injected into their arms. The removing of coats pleased A——, for it savored of a fight and he began to prepare for a conflict. Hastily he removed his coat and with raised guard and closed fist staggeringly advanced towards the coatless men who had fallen into line to march past the doctor. Instead of the anticipated fight, A—— received his first treatment,—the course in the Keeley Cure had begun.

Several years have passed since the above incident, but A—— is still a sober man. Respected for his ability, honored by those who employ him, he stands high in the confidence210 of one of the largest lumber companies, and large interests are in his hands. While not a professing Christian, yet he is a strong advocate of temperance, for, having known the degradation of drink, he now appreciates the virtue of sobriety.


Quebec, with its French population, raises many loyal Catholic sons. The training of the province does not develop a bias towards Protestantism. Anything savoring of it is distasteful to them, due to centuries of training. When these sons migrate to the woods of Minnesota the inherited and trained prejudice is likely to accompany them. On the above paragraph a story hinges.

In the north woods of Tenstrike worked a French Canadian, whom, for obvious reasons as well as convenience, we will call "Old Quebec." Now, "Old Quebec" was neither a scholar nor a fool. He knew a few things, and the many things of which he knew nothing did not disturb his mental bias or unsettle his decision. He was a man of likes and dislikes and he gave his whole strength to either; he never asked himself whether his likes or dislikes were reasonable, he was simply satisfied to be out-and-out in opposition211 or comradeship. What he hated he cursed; what he respected he was always on hand to assist. Well, he cursed the Sky Pilot whenever he saw him.

"Old Quebec" had no love for religion of any kind, but if a man wished to profess any spiritual relationship, Quebec was so trained that only Catholicism was acceptable to him. Therefore, when the Rev. Frank E. Higgins came to the camp in which Old Quebec worked the Frenchman thought him a non-entity because he was religious and a fool because he was not a Catholic. If you had asked Old Quebec, "Aren't you prejudiced?" he would have laughed, probably have sworn you out of countenance, and in his blasphemous way have given you the information, "What I know I know." His answer would have satisfied him and his profanity have settled you.

So, at the meeting, on the missionary's first appearance, Old Quebec did all he could to disturb and interfere. When asked to give the others the privilege of hearing, he replied with a torrent of invective, blasphemy and vulgarity that shocked the ears of every decent man in the camp. Now there are some men whom one can not easily eject.212 Old Quebec was probably one of these, at least, the missionary decided that discretion was the better part of valor. For once there were two speakers at the meeting, and Mr. Higgins, being more accustomed to public speaking, won out.

Few men could equal Old Quebec with the peavy. When there were logs to sack in the shallows of the river he was the man to keep the stuff from jamming, or when they jammed, to find the key log and break the obstruction. He was strong as hammered steel and bore himself as the king of the crew. He satisfied himself by cursing the missionary on all occasions, and the missionary was satisfied to talk him to a stand still. True, the missionary had tried to win the man, but Old Quebec was unapproachable.

One Sunday night the missionary went to a hotel in Tenstrike and after spending some time in conversation with the loungers, he started for the barn to see if his dog team was comfortable for the night. On the way to the barn he passed the ice house, before which lay several cakes of ice. As he passed between the cakes the missionary stumbled over the body of a man. The body was motionless and cold, and although he felt for213 evidence of life he could discover none. Rushing into the hotel saloon, the preacher called for assistance. Old Quebec was at the bar drinking.

"Come on, Quebec," cried Mr. Higgins, "get the lantern and help me with a dead or dying man."

Procuring a lantern, the missionary and the Frenchman hurried into the yard.

"Take hold of his feet, Quebec," said the preacher as he put his arms around the cold body, but Old Quebec, true to his superstition, refused to touch what was apparently a dead body.

The missionary got the body on his back, Quebec held the lantern, and the body was carried into the saloon. Fortunately the man was not dead, but was drunk and frozen, and, had it not been for the timely aid would soon have succumbed. In the saloon the missionary worked over the helpless man until consciousness returned.

"Take care of him," said the minister to the hotel man, "for I must leave early. Charge the expense to me."

Old Quebec heard the remark.

In the course of a few days the Sky Pilot visited the camp in which Old Quebec worked.214 The service began, but no word from the old man, although he sat in a prominent place.

"I suppose Quebec's waiting till the preaching commences," whispered one of the boys to a neighbor.

The preaching began. Through it all Quebec listened with attention, no sign of interruption came from him.

"What's the matter with Old Quebec?" the minister asked himself, "is the fellow sick, there's so little action in him?"

After the meeting was over the Frenchman beckoned to the preacher. Wonderingly, Mr. Higgins approached him.

"There it is, Pilot," said the Frenchman, extending his hand, "that's yours now. Will you shake it? I've been pretty rough on you. I ain't got much time for religion, but after what I saw that Sunday night in Tenstrike, I'm settled. You're willing to do for us poor fools what we ain't got sense enough to do for ourselves. Anything I can do for you, Pilot, I do. What I know I know. I'm with you."

As strong in his friendship as he was in his hatred is Old Quebec, ever ready to give a helping hand to the missionary, and215 as a contrast to the past he now feels that he is responsible for the decorum of the camp. Woe be it to the jack who dares to interfere with one of Mr. Higgins' meetings if Old Quebec is present. Once in Bemidji a crowd of lumberjacks was standing on the sidewalk when Old Quebec, who was in the group, saw Mr. Higgins approaching.

"Open up the road for the Pilot," cried Old Quebec, "he's made the sledding easy for many a one of us, so I'll road monkey for him."

(The road monkey is the man who keeps the ice roads clean.)

The old fellow listens now, and others listen at his bidding,—Faith cometh by hearing, so Old Quebec's chances are bettered, for the word is like leaven.


It is not preaching alone that is needed in the solitudes of the forest; even here pastoral work has its place, often a large place. Had the apostle Paul been visiting the lumber camps of Asia Minor when he wished to be all things to all men, or had he just beheld the ancient lumberjacks as they poured into the Athenian bowery after a winter's chopping on the slopes of God forsaken216 Olympia? Whatever the cause of the thought, it expresses the need of the missionary who would work in the camps. But Paul was himself a missionary, and that explains why he knew the qualities of heart and hand essential to successful work.

Frank Higgins is a pastor, preacher, friend and brother to his heterogeneous flock. Their concerns are his interests and they know that if they need assistance this minister will extend it gladly. The following incident will illustrate this point:

A. M. was a man who had followed the camps for years. In his years of logging he had acquired a little property, was happily married, and several children came to lighten his home. His wages were above his expenditures and he was making financial progress. But if you wish to introduce a change in the even march of progress, introduce drink. This is what A. did.


It was then the old, old story of retrogression through alcohol. The property he prized as the fruit of industry gradually passed into other hands and a darker side of life was seen, in which the woodsman, his wife and children were all involved. The217 saloons handled his wages and a respected man sank into the maw of appetite.

In one of the saloons the Rev. F. E. Higgins found the rum-soaked Scotchman on the verge of delirium tremens. The missionary took the helpless man to his home in the forest and began to nurse him back to health and sobriety. Two days and nights he sat beside the bed until the drunken visions passed and reason began to return.

While the missionary was attending his self-assumed patient he gathered every piece of the man's clothing into a bundle and sent them over to the home of a neighbor. Not a single garment belonging to the man was left in the house. It was a course of heroic treatment that was in store for the patient.

When M. began to regain his reason he was besides himself for liquor, but there was none to be had. Leaping from the bed he sought in all parts of the house for his clothing so he could return to the saloons and quench the consuming thirst, but no successful find rewarded his diligence. He begged for his clothing, but the man who sat beside his bed was deaf to entreaty. It was a seige in which the besieged could not even claim the primitive fig leaf. If the watcher had218 not restrained him he would have rushed out of the house, but the man who had sent his clothes away never relaxed his vigilance The house was a prison.

The hours passed and the man became milder. The Sky Pilot drew out memories of better days; the long-closed chambers of memory slowly opened, and with the return came the recollections of the days when freedom crowned the life and evil habits were as yet unborn. Such remembrances create the desire to reproduce again the life of freedom. While M. was sighing for the past joys, Mr. Higgins was pointing him to the One who said, "I came that ye might have life, and have it more abundantly." At last in the shadow of the sin absorbing Cross the brawny preacher and weakened slave knelt side by side. To him who proclaimed liberty to the captive and to them that are bound they prayed, and when they arose two freemen clasped hands in friendship and Christian fellowship.

M. realized that while he was free, yet sin had weakened him, so he gathered his belongings together and with his family left the place of his temptation and fall and emigrated to Manitoba. While I write, a219 letter is on my desk. It is from M.'s wife telling of his later life. She who wrote the letter was a Catholic, but she tells of the God-given strength that came to M., how during the years since his conversion he had lived under the sustaining grace of Christ. "Both my husband and son united with the Presbyterian Church here, and when at last they brought the father from a northern camp, bruised and dying, his faith held fast to the Savior who took him from the pit."



The Evangelistic Committee of the Presbyterian Church has been active in the logging camp work since 1902, when it first sent missionaries to preach in the camps of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The first missionaries it appointed to this work were Rev. Jos. Oliver Buswell and Rev. F. E. Higgins, the former taking the work in Wisconsin and the latter in Minnesota. Both these men had been carrying on private work in the camps near their pastorates. Prior to 1907 the work was largely experimental and on a small scale, but in the summer of the above-named year a strong sub-committee of the Evangelistic committee took charge of the logging camp mission work and an aggressive campaign was inaugurated.

In the foregoing pages of this little volume we have considered the work in Minnesota224 exclusively and presented only the part which came directly under the hand of Mr. Higgins: now we desire to give a brief view of a more extended field.

The sub-committee known as the Lumberman's Evangelistic Council is composed of men who are individually interested in this work. They are prominent lumbermen or well-known ministers, as the personnel of the committee shows:

The officers of the council are:

The desire of the Lumberman's Evangelistic Council is to place the services of the missionaries at the disposal of all the lumber camps in the west, so that the general morals of the workers may be raised and a corresponding plain of righteousness and ability be reached.


The superintendents of this work are well equipped for the task before them. Mr. Buswell has been an interested worker in the camps for some years. He felt that God called him to this particular work, and has been instrumental in leading many of the foresters to Christ.

The reader of these pages knows that Mr. Higgins brings to the work the practical experience of twelve years, and a devotion to God and man that brings results.

Through Mr. Buswell and Mr. Higgins the claims of the lumberjacks have been presented to the churches and by their efforts almost all the money used to carry on the work in the past, except their own salaries, has been raised. Under their direction226 a number of helpers have been at work in the field, the superintendents being individually responsible for their salaries and expenses.

Beyond the States of Minnesota and Wisconsin, a little work was also done in Michigan and Washington. In the State of Washington Mr. Higgins spent the last two summers, taking with him, in 1907, two of his best camp chaplains.

The future is ruddy with promise. With the more extensive organization come hopes of greater efficiency and broader possibilities. The desires of a few men have become the wishes and prayers of a greater number. The sub-committee's intention is to reach all the western and southwestern States in which the men of ax and peavey are at work.

As yet only the edges of the field have been approached; even in Minnesota where the work is more extended, only one hundred camps are touched, while four hundred other camps are left entirely to themselves. Many of the States are without any organized work in the lumber regions.

A view of the States west and south will reveal larger timber districts where this mission227 work will find a welcome and where aggressive extension is immediately imperative.

Western Montana has its camps on the tree-covered mountain slopes. Idaho computes its timbered acres at ten millions. Timber is one of the principal resources of the State of Washington. The western slopes of the Cascades are heavily wooded with fir and on the eastern side blue and yellow pine predominate. Oregon is proud of its pine forests, the density of the woods is inviting to industry and solitude. The Douglas spruce has made this State a world-famous mart for masts and spars. California is the home of the redwood, and all the world reads of its mammoths of the forest; but in the northern part of the State pine, oak and fir lure the lumber companies, and there the lumberjacks are calling for services.

Southwest of Minnesota the numerous camps of the timbered Black Hills catch the eye, then come the sixteen million mountain acres of forest land in the neighboring State of Wyoming, and an almost equal stretch in Colorado. Missouri is also well wooded, in all except the northern and western228 parts, and the State of Arkansas has twenty-five million acres of timber wealth. Louisiana has more than half of the timber acreage of Arkansas. The State of Texas does not count its wooded lands by acres; it presents the figures of sixty-four thousand square miles.

The possibilities of this evangelistic work are noticeable in the above sketch of the western and southern forests. Where the lumber is to be obtained, there are the lumber camps and the lumberjacks. The surroundings of the men are much the same as in Minnesota, with the restraints of civilization removed and the agents of viciousness always at hand. The foresters present a picture at which the angels weep and the devils are joyful.

Lumbering has been a prominent industry for many years in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and it will continue to play a large part in the industry of these States for twenty years to come. In such States the camps are large, grouped and accessible therefore the mission work can be done with greater ease and economy than in the older States of the east where the lumbercamps are229 far apart and small. In the west a camp chaplain can serve as high as fifteen camps, giving them each a service at least twice a month.

Seventy-five dollars a month will support a chaplain. Since the logging season is short, in Minnesota about five and a half months, it will be seen that a large amount of good can be accomplished at a small expenditure. A chaplain will preach to from sixty to one hundred and sixty men every night in the week and on Sunday perhaps preach in three different camps. He is the representative of spiritual truths to from six hundred to one thousand men. Where, at so little cost, are the possibilities of good so great? Where are these camp preachers to be obtained? "I believe that God will call to this work the men of the pineries rather than the men of the seminaries," said the Rev. F. E. Higgins. This has been so in the past. The men who are converted in the camps are equipped with a knowledge of conditions through experience, and where mental and spiritual ability are present they can do excellent work.

230 Several of the successful workers in the camp mission were once lumberjacks. Mr. Fred Davis, who, since the promotion of Mr. Higgins, is superintendent of the Minnesota work, was at one time a lumberjack. Mr. Davis refused an excellent business position in order to spend his life reaching the foresters.

Another worker is Mr. L. C. Michells, a former cruiser and estimator. Mr. Michells is not only a strong preacher, but is physically able to care for himself when opposition is presented,—to this the ex-mayor of a lumber town can testify to his sorrow, as can others who saw the fallen political boss hauled home on a dray after the encounter with right and might. At the time of writing, Mr. Michells is preaching in the camps of Washington.

God is raising up men. Will the Christian church raise the means?

Through the work done in Minnesota and Wisconsin an introduction has been secured to all the Western States; the timber lands of the west are owned largely by the firms who have exploited the woods adjacent to the Great Lakes, and these companies know the231 good accomplished here, hence a ready welcome is given to the missionary going to more western fields. The lumberjacks are naturally wanderers and in the camps of the Pacific slopes the Minnesota and Wisconsin woodsmen are already there to give the chaplains welcome. Mr. Higgins tells of preaching in a town on the Tacoma Eastern Railway in Washington:

"In one town where no religious organization was at work, I held services in a dance hall, and seventy-five persons were present, sixty of whom were loggers. After the service two lumberjacks came up to me and said: 'Hello, Pilot, don't you know us? We're a couple of your Minnesota boys. Don't you remember preaching in the Clearwater Camps on 'The Chances a Fellow Has if He'll Take Them?' Well, we broke away from the gang, came out here, have saved our money, and are the ones who rustled the crowd for you tonight.'

"On another occasion I was to speak in the open air, when an old Minnesota campman brought a pitcher of lemonade and placed it by my side. After the meeting he invited me to his home and wanted me to make it mine while I labored in that place.232 Such kindness from the men who had been my boys in the North Star pineries did much to make my work in Washington a pleasure."

By the past work the doors of the present have been forced open. The waiting men are inviting the bearers of good tidings to enter—shall we refuse? Where there is a need shall not the Christian Church supply it?

Douglas Malloch, the lumbermen's poet, presents us a picture of the field in the following poem:


"Where the winter's chill is deep and still,
Where summer days are long,
Where sighing breeze and branches fill
The air with sob and song,
There lies a parish of the Lord
No wall or street confines:
There 'waits the coming of the Lord
The Parish of the Pines.
"No tower uplifts its gilded spire
Above a house of prayer,
No organ tower or swaying choir
Makes sweetest music there,
For 'tis a vineyard choked with weeds233
And lush with tangled vines;
Yea, much it lacks and much it needs—
The Parish of the Pines.
"Yet word of God is word of God
In camp or pulpit told,
And men of forest and of sod
Await the story old.
'Tis time to hew away the sin
That now the soul confines,
And let a little sunshine in
The Parish of the Pines."

Transcriber's Notes:

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected.