THE CHANGING SCENE
I harvested in the fall of 1925 in Richland County, Montana. Following the harvesting of the crop Brother J. 0. Golphenee and I held the first meeting that was ever held in Fairview, Montana. I preached the first sermon. The church at Fairview still stands and I have no idea how many times I have visited them through the years. In fact we expect to visit in Fairview this very week that these words are being written.
We moved to Dore, North Dakota, just before or just after the Fairview meeting. Brother Wilfred Orr visited us, during the early winter and we held a meeting at the Goodwin school house. I do not know what other results there were but my wife's grandmother was restored from the Christian Church. We again cut the ice that winter to do some baptizing. What had been in my heart all the time was to return to the work in Canada. There was a monthly paper published in Canada at that time called the Christian Monthly Review and I wrote to the paper saying that I would like to hold meetings in Canada. The church at Woodgreen invited me for a meeting. Woodgreen is a country congregation in Ontario.
There was a big event in our lives that winter too. On February 20th, 1925, our home was blest with a baby boy. How we loved him! We love him still.
On the 20th of May, 1925, we left the United States. We have since been back scores of times. I have helped start congregations in the United States since that time but it has never been our home.
We traveled by train. When we were in Minneapolis it was more than 90° above. When we arrived at Thessalon, Ontario, there had been a two-foot snow storm. This was the home of my father and mother. They met my wife and son for the first time.
I left my wife in my father's home and I went on to Woodgreen for the meeting. Brother Sam Whitfield had labored with this congregation for years but was dying with Bright's Disease. The brethren asked me to return and preach for them. I consented to this. There was one baptized during the meeting. As I have suggested Brother Whitfield was a sick man at this time. There was a young lady that lived at Forest who had expressed a desire to be baptized. Brother Whitfield asked me to go over and baptize her. The Blackwell brethren and Forest brethren met together that day at Blackwell and after the meeting I baptized Annie Spearman. Brother Fred Whitfield had driven me over to Blackwell. On the way home I suggested to Fred that that young lady would make him an excellent wife. He said, I don't think I could ever get her.
To make a long story short I said the words that made them husband and wife in September, 1926. Their three daughters are all wives of preachers in Canada. Their sons all members of the church. There has been a close tie between ourselves and Fred and Annie Whitfield through the years.
There is no congregation meets either in Blackwell or Forest now but quite a few faithful souls have crossed the river of death, and some faithful members worship with other congregations. The light has been removed from these places but their light still shines. We had no better friends through the years than some of these brethren.
I returned from this meeting to Thessalon. We held a meeting in a deserted church building some twelve miles from home and helped with the preaching in the home congregation. My brother Cecil obeyed the gospel that summer. Again I turned my face Westward. This was the third time. It had been agreed with Brother Orr that we would harvest together in the MacRorie district. My wife, my oldest brother, and young son accompanied me.
Prior to this time MacRorie had been quite a thriving congregation. A number of able brethren had moved from England and settled here. Brother Rogers, and Brother L. McGill had held meetings here. The able brethren from England had moved Westward. One of the families was visiting in England. The work was being carried on by men young in the faith. Brother Orr and I took turns preaching every other Sunday. The light burned very dim for a number of years but the work in Outlook, Saskatchewan, is the fruit of the old congregation at MacRorie. When harvesting was over I was to return to labour with the Woodgreen congregation. Brother Orr decided that he would accompany me. We went to Regina for a Lord's Day on our way. I have held meetings in Regina, and visited there scores of times since. Regina was one of only a few congregations then in the province. The light has always burned in our capital city and the church is larger now that it ever was. Capable leadership is developing. If the Lord tarries Regina's greatest days are still in the future. Next we visited Estevan for a few days. This was Brother Orr's home. Then we went to Elmdale to visit with my wife's folks and spend a Sunday with the brethren at Dore. (Shortly after this, brethren at Dore and Fairview went together and met in Fairview, Montana.)
Brother Orr had a Model T with a box on the back of it. Despite the fact that it was December we decided that we would motor to Ontario. The attendant that checked the oil at Fairview forgot to shut the tap he had turned. What a mistake! We had three burned-out rods before we got to Minot. We had trouble all the way. We had decided that my wife would accompany us with the baby as it was not too cold. At Harvey, North Dakota, she decided to take the train. We were to meet in Minneapolis. We had a friend there, we had made by correspondence, that we had promised to visit.
I told my wife that we would be at the station to meet her at a certain time. We had more car trouble. We had to drive all night to make it but we there at the appointed time. My wife did not show up and she came about an hour late. I was bothered, and plenty. She had slept in. What a day that was. The Browns showed us no common kindness. We had a terrible time to stay awake. We had been two nights with practically no sleep. We had enough experiences on that trip to last us for a life time. After my wife left us that night we were determined to get to Minneapolis as soon as possible. I was approaching a viaduct. If you never drove with magneto lights on a Model T then you do not know how poor lights can be. The moon was shining and I could see a shadow across the road but I could not tell what was making the shadow. It had been raining so when I tried to stop the car whirled half way around and upset. We got a garage man up at one o'clock in the morning. We got a wheel for the car. We put a piece of cardboard in where the windshield was missing, and went on our way. Brother Orr drove into Fargo, there he suggested that I drive again. He said that could happen to anyone. The streets in Fargo were a glare of ice. They did not sand them in those days. I had gone only a few rods when a man ran into me. He bent the tie rod AND HOW! So we spent the rest of the daylight getting that fixed. We drove out about sixty miles and Brother Orr said he wanted me to drive. He said, it was no fault of yours, that the man ran into you. I drove a few miles and I came to the top of a hill and here was a truck stalled on the wrong side of the road. The roads had about two inches of snow on them and it was as solid as ice. I pulled to the wrong side of the road to miss that truck and we went down that hill making one turn after another. We stayed right side up and ran into the top bank instead of going over the other side. The truck driver came down and helped us push the car out of the bank, and we may not have gone on our way rejoicing but we went on our way. We arrived in Minneapolis. We took my wife to the station that evening and we headed eastward again. Our next stop was with Brother Harold Orr. He was an older brother of Brother Wilfred Orr, my companion in travel. We got there about two in the morning and we decided that we would now cross Lake Michigan instead of going through Chicago. There was brisk wind that night as we crossed and we were both sea sick. Early Sunday morning we started out for Port Huron, Michigan and there to cross into Canada again. I think this was the only day we traveled all day out of the eight. We broke the Bread by the wayside that day. We traveled until one o'clock in the morning, or a little later. No, as I recall it was three o'clock in the morning when we arrived in Port Huron. We had lost the bolt out of the crank, so we could not crank the car. We did not know it but we had driven into a No Parking area. Brother Orr went to sleep. I got out and started walking the streets. My face was greasy with car grease for we had some trouble about 20 miles out and I have forgotten the nature of it now. In crawling under the car I had torn my overcoat in the back. It hung down my back. Two policemen were on patrol duty and they picked me up and took me to the station. I told them about the car and so they went to investigate to verify my story. After they had questioned Brother Orr, they said we would have to move the car. We told them that we could not move as we had lost the bolt out of the crankshaft. They said for one of us to get in and the other one could push with them. There were three policemen that came back to the car. I am Irish enough that I sometimes wonder why I did not tell Brother Orr not to turn the switch on for a while.
By this time it was about six in the morning and the ferry would cross the river at eight. The police took us down to the street-car barn's office. We were comfortable in there until we could cross on the ferry. About noon on Monday we arrived at Woodgreen. The trip had cost us nearly $300.00 and the car was never used again. Brother Orr stayed in that part of the country for the winter and went to Saskatchewan again in the spring.
Published in The Old Paths Archive
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