HISTORY and TIMES of THE KINGDOM
The Journal of Clarence Parker
One of the most common questions we are asked about the Kingdom and Mr. Sandford's school is with regard to the people who flocked there at the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century. "Why?" Why did they come? What inspired or provoked them to leave it all behind and choose to identify with this place?
Our family is fortunate to have in its possession a small, handwritten birthday gift given by my grandfather, Clarence Willard Parker, to my grandmother, May (Mary) L. Parker, on November 3, 1919, about three weeks before my father's birth. Clarence felt led of God to come to Shiloh at the age of 19, without a skill beyond his own aptitude for mechanics, but while there learned both the printing and the shoe making trades. There he also met my grandmother, and they were married. He and his young family did not live on the hilltop proper, but had their own home about a mile distant. They remained affiliated with the movement until after the scattering. Their house was located on the road to Lisbon Falls overlooking the Androscoggin River where most of my aunts and uncles, including my father, were born. Upon leaving the Kingdom in 1920, he supported his family with his own shoe repair business in Lisbon Falls, where ultimately all eleven of the children assisted in the effort. The family attended various local congregations during the next 15 years, but were re-assimilated into the Kingdom fellowship when the remaining children through John Sandford's efforts took an interest during the mid '30s. In his autobiographical journal, my grandfather, chronicles the story of his life, and in so doing provides the reader with a very personal answer to that query, "Why?".
The colored chapter titles centered within the text have been added by the editor for the sake of bookmarking your location if you wish to leave and come back later. With the exception of the title immediately below, they are not original.
A Brief Account of My Life and Work
Given to My Wife
Mrs. May Laura Moses,
As a Birthday Gift
Mr. Clarence W. Parker
Nov. 3, 1919
This book contains a few short sketches of my life that I have quickly written off-handed thinking they would be of interest to you.
The Early Years
I was born in Bristol, Wisconsin in 1879, the 18th day of December. My father and mother was living on a farm they rented. They never owned a place of their own, being of the poorer class. They lived on several farms, and when I was about seven or eight they moved to the large manufacturing city of Racine, Wisconsin. There are a few old scenes I will remember from my childhood days on the farms.
One was when I was playing with the hay fork pulley at the barn door and caught my hand, tearing my little finger badly - and the scar remains today - or leaving it crooked. My children often ask me to tell them how I hurt my little finger.
Another time I was trying to find my father who had buried himself in the hay while I was trying to find him, several times walking over him in the hay while he continued calling me but could not find him.
Once we went to the city on a train at night, the first ride I had on the cars. I remember of asking mother why the train did not go. It was so easy and even.
I cannot forget the man swimming in the pond where father had taken his sheep for washing. It seemed so queer to see a man stay in water yet keep above it.
Again, my mind goes to that farm house where mother took us two children and went into the cellar when a cyclone went by and she was afraid the house would be blown over.
I will remember how the children at school used to tease me when I began to go. I got so I cried when it came time to go home for it was mainly at that time that they had their fun with me, until the teacher found it out and put a stop to it all.
When I was about eight I can remember riding to the city on a load of furniture, and at that time the new city life began.
The schools had so many more children, one easily became acquainted with a lot of them. In a few months I found myself in trouble being around with a bad boy who had been stealing. We were taken to the police station and severely questioned. I told all I knew so was let off after much talking to, but my school teacher took me in the hand and impressed many good lessons upon me which laid a good mark on my life.
I became much interested in the Sunday School as the days went by where I received many good ideas of life. One teacher had much to do with laying a good foundation in my life. I can see many golden lessons taught me during my early years are still with me in hard places. She took a special interest in my welfare and gave me extra lessons evenings that enabled me to get a better start. She also encouraged me to save my money to go to school away where I could prepare for some branch of religious work. My parents were unable to send me to high school, so I made the best of it working my way along.
At the age of ten I became much interested in all kinds of mechanical work. I would cover baseballs for the boys at school. Clock would often be my evening amusement. An organ occasionally I would clean. And bicycles fixed for the neighbors till finally I saw I was quite of mechanical on my likes of work. I later found myself buying the different parts of a bicycle and put it together with my own name plate on it. A fine bicycle it was and I enjoyed riding it a lot. Yes, and even to this day enjoy a bicycle and use one continually. A journey of 25 to 30 miles is only fun for me now in the summer time.
Yes, you would smile at the two wheeled cart I made from iron wheels I got from the plow works where my father worked. We were all over the city with it, one riding while the other played horse. Many an interesting evening after school and a whole Saturday was spent with this cart. It was a hungry sport for us, so hard to get filled up after playing all day with this cart.
My great interest in clocks and machinery won a chance for me at a jewelry store to learn the trade. But my parents were not able to let me work so long without pay for two to three years. A second time the place was opened to me but this time I was intending to accept it when somehow I believe the Unseen Hand above guided me another way. For had I taken that place then I could never have gone the way which later opened to me in another direction.
I thought I could make a pin like the Epworth League badges and have it gold plated. The piece of work won for me a good position in an office drawing for a fancy hardwood floor company. He saw my pin and then thought of me when he needed a young man in his office. He sent for me, and showed me what kind of work it was and asked me if I could do that kind of work. I said it was too hard for me such fine work. He assured me that he thought I could if the pin I wore was my work. Later he gave a chance to try it and I found my first design came out very good and the man much pleased. I soon became quite used to that work but was given another place because I had taken a young man's place who had went to the Spanish war and had returned. This was the custom, I understand, to give all soldiers their former place if desired. So I was promised another good place.
Evenings I was studying and doing all I could to improve myself in Bible study. I had become much interested in its Holy teachings. I seemed to enjoy reading the signs of the times, studying the prophets, the coming of the Lord in perilous times and so on. I could see the simple life it taught - the holy ways it pointed to were the best to follow. I also became interested in the Holy Land and its restoration and wanted much to visit it as others had.
During these days of preparation in Bible teachings I began to learn singing and found in answer to prayer I could do like others if I would try. In this branch I had great delight as I improved and later took to playing on the organ as gradually I was used in public singing. I became much used to this line of Christian work and liked it very much.
It was in my nineteenth year when I was walking home one evening that I took off my hat and looking up to the stars, prayed to the God who made them to lead me into something better. It was a wonderful prayer as I remember it.
It was not long ere it was answered and found my way to Chicago to see about attending a Bible school which I had heard was at Shiloh, Maine but I was hoping that there was a branch of the school in Chicago. The leader of the school was then in Chicago, so went to see him.
It was quite a time for me to see such a man of God that I met in Chicago that visit in 1899. He was so kind to me and so interested that I at once liked him very much. I stayed with him two days and nights in Chicago. The first night we were up quite late telling about the Bible School at Shiloh, Me. On Sunday the speaker spoke with power about the Holy Spirit coming upon a man like Sampson and enabled him to do many wonderful things and later to carry away the gates of Gaza with the bars and post. After the sermon I was asked if I wanted to have such power in my life and be led by God's Spirit. I answered I did, so kneeling down three men prayed for me and set me apart as a member of the Bible School to learn the ways of God.
The next day I returned home some sixty miles with the idea of going back to the school that Mr. Sandford had started in Chicago. It was a week or so later when I was able to make preparations to return. Well, I remember the feeling that came over me that I was going away for life, and sure it was so, for I only made two or three visits back after coming away, the last one being on July 4 in 1899. Since that time I have never seen my parents or brother or sister.
The Chicago Bible School
In January 1899 I went to the Bible School and began a life of faith and the study of the Bible. Everything was new and strange to me. Life so different than I expected, yet I enjoyed it all.
I will remember my first lesson on "Doing first and knowing afterward" John 7:17. It was hard for me to see how a person could do something before they knew it. I finally said the Bible is so even if I do not see it that way. I am so glad now I did, for I have learned that God's ways are not ours and His thoughts are higher than the heavens above ours. I can easily understand the meaning of my first lesson now. Doing God's will then knowing the Bible.
A few short months quickly passed and we found the little school had increased to a dozen members, some of them were my Sunday School class mates and in our lessons we saw many new things from the Bible. This being the only text book used in the school. It was do it as you learn it every day.
When we heard that the great building at Shiloh which was only begun must be finished up we thought we would like to go and help do what we could. As the result of several prayer services for the way to open and fare to be provided - we began to prepare for the trip and the money came.
The trip of two days and two nights brought joy to me as I liked to travel on the cars. The scenery was full of intense interest for me. What a new world it was to me as I left home scenes etc. and began to see some of this great world of ours. The people, the country, the buildings, etc. are different from place to place - It enlarges ones mind as he realizes what a world this is to evangelize. Two other young men of my age were with us in the party of about twelve.
Anyone would enjoy riding where they could see the oil wells of Ohio like we did on the train. The fine places along Lake Erie were passed during the night so could not see much. Along the Hudson River and through the mountains all impressed into my mind. Boston seemed so queer with narrow crooked streets - the ocean ride on the boat from Boston to Bath was so good. I enjoyed that trip on the ocean so much - we got up early the next morning to see the scenery as we sailed up the Kennebec River to Bath.
Not long after taking the train we had finished our journey and were walking over to Shiloh. As we arrived at Shiloh we gathered for our usual morning prayer service at 9 a.m. to thank our Father for the safe journey we had taken so far. It meant a lot in those days to be there while we finished the outside of the building for the Bible School.
Two solid weeks we labored early and late in the work. You could often hear us singing. You could often hear us praying as we would stop anytime to pray for whatever was needed at the time. We always began our work with a season of prayer. God did help us do a great work by August 18th. It was July 29, 1899 when we came.
After this was done, we had planned to return to Chicago, but we remained at Shiloh in the Bible School and received our training which began October 2. Slowly we found ourselves improving as we studied the sacred Book.
I was away a few weeks the following winter in some evangelistic work helping one of the evangelists in singing. I enjoyed this part of the work in meetings and did more of it as the days went by.
After returning to Shiloh to spend a while at the sick building called Bethesda - I guess about 8 months.
I was taken after New Years of 1900 to go in what we called the Maine Campaign with the other man older than I, and we started out not knowing where we were going, only that we were headed for Waterville, Me. We walked some of the way calling at many homes to cheer them if possible in the Christian life.
Some thrilling experiences could be written of this trip and walk all over Somerset County but cannot in this short account. We often started out in the morning after prayer, not knowing where we would lay our heads at night but would trust our Father to look after us, lead us and help us to find the very home He wanted us to stay in that night. Day in and day out through the winter we found that our Father was looking after us and feeding us as He did the birds. It was wonderful the way we were taken care of at some homes - yet others, as we gave them our paper and found we were from Shiloh, just shut their doors in our face. I have no doubt in my mind but what we made a mark in that county as we walked over its roads, holding services in homes and school houses and visiting the homes, giving all the gospel paper printed for that purpose. They got the Word of God as they never had before. The Lord is our Shepherd.
What pleasure we had as a special car carried our workers home from all parts of Maine in April. It seemed to me like the joy of harvest when all will be over and we go homeward bound to heaven. One could not describe it in words. The home gathering at Shiloh was one long to be remembered - our service in the chapel where we all gathered to Praise the Lord for His goodness to us all was one of rare blessing.
Weeks went by in taking up some Bible lessons and also day by day kept up the study of the Bible. As another evangelistic campaign soon came, I, of course, wanted to go, but was chosen for printing work so another young man could go that stayed behind in the other campaign. I seemed to take to this kind of work, and was not long before I could do the work easily.
The paper was given away free and the work was done without pay and even more was prayed over a great deal before it was printed and also while it was being printed. I prayed many a time over the paper as I was feeding it into the press. One by one would have its blessing put upon it. Those papers were touched by God's blessing in a special way because we believed and received it for them as we worked.
It was about Christmas time in 1901 that I wanted to go and help in the work at Ithaca, New York. Someone was going to be sent and I wanted the chance, and soon it was my lot to be chosen to go. To go alone on such a long journey was a big thing for me but I was not afraid. I enjoyed it all very much. From the work in the printing office it seemed to me a promotion to a better chance to do good, while after all, it was not so as all our work is done only to the Glory of God. As the Bible says, "Whatsoever we do, do all to the glory of God."
The work at Ithaca, New York where I went at that time was going on nicely. Quite a number had been baptized and quite a few were interested. At the services I played on the organ and sang. It was a time of rich blessing to me in those days to sing the gospel to others - I was blessed as well as those who listened. Many good friends were made during the few months I was in that college city.
About the first of July I returned again to Shiloh to a convention where people came from all directions to hear Mr. Sandford as he was about to go to England. As I went from Boston to Bath on the boat at that time I went into the saloon sat down to the piano to enjoy myself singing some hymns. I thought I was having a good time when I saw others were also listening so they kept asking for more and so kept me going for some hour or so. How they listened. A few college boys who did not enjoy the religious part asked me if I would like for one of them to play for me. "Certainly", was my reply and stepped aside while they began their melodies. Several listeners were so disgusted with their noise and my treatment that they had them stopped. I could see that the Master did not want His hymns spoiled by the other songs.
During the rest of the summer and fall I went to work in another field with a young man who wanted to go back in Maine to hold meetings. I was with him until Thanksgiving time when we returned for a Thanksgiving convention. It was certainly interesting at some of our meetings we held in school houses and homes, as many were helped as a result of our labors. There is nothing in life as satisfying as to help others from sinking sands. Cheer and Bless and Brighten others in life's pathway. I loved to sing to those advanced in years. Many a person was pointed to the right way in the prayer services we held - while the Christians were also cheered on themselves. Yes, I enjoyed the work so much.
About Thanksgiving time I returned to Shiloh to a convention as we usually had one at that time of the year. In the Bible we read about the times of rejoicing and great joy Israel used to have when they gathered at Jerusalem to hold their different feasts. Well, these conventions reminded me of those times, for I always had a good time.
The work on the children's building was taken up and finished during the next few weeks before the first of the year. Quite a number of the people stayed over from the convention and worked on the building, some of them often worked into the night hours, there being so much to do in such a short time.
As the first of the year came on, the small pox broke out in our midst, and for weeks we were in strict quarantine, so that those who were just ready to go home were hindered. It was a dark time for many, and before the small pox was over my dark time also came. The sad, sad days went slowly by and in February I found myself getting ready to leave Shiloh. I did not know what to do either about it. Up to this writing those days are by far my worst days I remember about. But I cried unto the Lord and he delivered me, yet I did not see it for a long while afterward.
How clear it stays in my memory the morning I ate my last breakfast at Shiloh. After which I started away with my grip from the place I called home. I knew not where I was going, and what was worse, no money in my pocket; but I had asked my heavenly Father to lead me and give me a home before night, and He did. I had thought that I would like to find an old man living alone where I could stay for awhile until I found out what I wanted to do, for I was heart sick at the seeming failure of life. I was surprised to find God gave me just such a place, ere the day passed. I was looking for work when a man came along looking for help, but saw at once I was not a wood chopper as he wanted but said he knew of some that I could get work with, so took me out to his home two miles from the village, (near Shiloh) about 1-1/2 miles. After dinner at his home that he so kindly gave me, I felt like going up to see his aged father that he had told me about who lived alone only a mile from his place.
After a walk of a mile I found his place where the elderly sick lived alone. I went in and told him where I was from, and that my real home was in Wisconsin, and just then had no money to go there but was looking for a place where I could stay awhile and work for my board until I found out what I was going to do or go.
It was not long before we were both good friends. He wanted someone to stay with him and I could stay and call it home as long as I wished to. He took me down cellar and showed me his vegetables and apples and wanted me to help myself. He then went to the barn, harnessed up his horse and sent me off alone to Shiloh for my trunk - giving me a bag of apples for the boys I had left behind. He surely trusted in me, a stranger, to let me take his horse alone - but I was glad to get my trunk and land back about dark at the place where I could call home - exactly the kind of a home I wanted for awhile. I made it cheerful for him - and enjoyed my evenings more than one might think. Yet it was so different from the Bible School life I was used to, so soon got lonesome. It did not take long for me to find I was not cut out for a farmer.
I had some friends in Auburn that I went up one Sunday to see and go to meeting. I stayed overnight so I could look for work the next day. I found a place where I later went to work, in a shoe factory running a sewing machine. I went back to the home on the farm to only stay a few days when I went to Auburn and began work in the shoe shop. It was a delightful change for me as it was the kind of work I liked, even though the machine I was working on was quite difficult. Yet I soon got used to it and keep it in order.
I was boarding with one of the church members for awhile. In a few weeks time I ran across, one day, a special friend of mine from the school who had left, and he told me lots of news about the school and friends I knew. He was special to me because of his sister, May, whom I had learned to think a lot of in the school. The whole family had come to Auburn to live, so went over to see them that evening. And there it was when I began love's story of two in life. The whole family knew me well, and knew that May and I were close friends - though up to this time had not kept any company together because of the strict rule at the school.
Our evenings were soon spent together - and ere long we found that we loved each other enough to be man and wife, so made for that goal. The evening walks - the holiday rides and times spent together only made it clear that there was no use in waiting to be married. We never even asked each other, "Will you marry?..." , it was our question, "When shall we?". We picked out a little rent or home by the riverside and bought enough furniture to keep house with and as soon as it was ready we had the wedding party in it.
A friend of mine from my home in Wisconsin, who was also at the school and left was also married the same evening with us - and lived awhile at the same home, June 24, 1903. We did not live together long because of temporal and religious ideas which were different, so they moved away. We were then left alone to enjoy the humble home where love ruled the spiritual and temporal - we were blessed as we went to church seeking to do the right thing ever. We seemed to prosper in our work and at home as we kept a love for those at Shiloh we knew so well.
As the days went by and Shiloh enlarged her borders and began to prepare a place for God's people to go as the evil days came on, and war and famine times were approaching, I wanted to be in that place of safety as the Book of Revelation teaches there will be. I had learned a great deal at Shiloh about Christ's second coming and the necessity of being ready - so I had a desire to return when the chance was given.
In our humble home on March 7th came the first baby boy, a treasure that only those who have experienced having the first child can know. It was such a delight to us as we gave it our best love and care and attention. And at this writing 14 years later we can look back and see where we are well paid as he starts now to become a young man - a fine young boy - yes a chip from the old block lacking a little courage.
As I was packing up my things to return to Shiloh I had a pressing offer to take a position in a shoe shop in another city - but at that time I chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, as Moses of old did. May and I both felt it would pay us better to live for God at Shiloh than to work for ourselves outside. So we returned to Shiloh in August 1904.
There was two classes of people now at Shiloh - one class the Bible School - the others the church who lived in the houses and farms around Shiloh - so this brought in new lines of work that we did not do when I was in the Bible School. Building homes for those coming in was one special thing on when I came back. Several farms with cows, horses, sheep and all kinds of farm tools were bought. Some industries were talked over and started. A truly busy place when I came back in August.
A big undertaking was started soon after we got back and that was to take down our church building in Auburn, ship it down on cars, and put it up again here at Shiloh. It was taken down in one week. What a week in Auburn as we labored away tearing the building down carefully and removing the nails so the lumber could be used again. Even the newspapers had to comment us on our good ways we had where our men acted so kind to each other and worked so cheerfully without any loud talk or unkind words. They said of us that we seemed like a big machine all working in harmony, and never saw the like before, with no smoking and swearing among so many men. It was certainly a great testimony and I thank God I was one of them. Yes, it was more of a task to rebuild it again here at Shiloh in 18 days. It went together like magic as men labored early and late. So by Thanksgiving day it was all done as we had planned. While this stupendous work was going on, two men ( I being one) was called off to make a start on the shoe work.
It took us just one week to get the first pair of shoes made. We bought the material in Auburn to make these shoes. My brother in law from Auburn came down one afternoon to help us as we sewed on the soles making a turned shoe. It would make a person smile to see us trying to finish up without a lamp by lighting a stick from the stove to take a stitch at a time. We finally got them finished and took them into our meeting, just a week after we talked it over. We had a good time thanking God for the first pair of shoes made here, for it meant ere long others would be made to supply the needs of the people, and they were thankful. In a few days or so we had some hundred dollars given for shoe material, so a man went to Boston to get the supply needed, with lasts, nails, tools, etc. We were in for having new shoes for Christmas presents so had to rush things. We made felt shoes largely at that time because they were warm.
It was quite a busy time for me as I assisted in looking after the work and helping the man who had oversight of it all. He had worked in shoe factories and knew about the work, as I learned all about it from him as he had also been in business before. I can't remember just how many pairs of shoes we made up ready for Christmas that year, but was over a hundred. Many a night I worked until I was not able to go any longer.
After the holidays were over we had a time to find a suitable place to work where we could have a fire. We went in several places until later we built a place where we have been ever since. It's a small two story building halfway between Shiloh and Lisbon Falls on the main road. As I also had moved several times with my family which now was made up of wife and two children - a baby girl being added to us. How big the family seemed then, but just the same it took all our time to look after the two children.
It was no small job to learn how to burn green wood and keep warm. Quite awhile we were at it, even years until I finally took the matter as a study. I saw what an advantage there was in being able to do it for one's own benefit as that was the wood we always got. I considered it a big victory when I could repair a stove and burn the green wood.
A Home of Their Own
In the spring of 1904 as we were living on the house across the road from the shoe shop our boy Philip took the scarlet fever. We never knew where it came from, and no one else took it. He had it very light, and the weeks we were shut in quarantine seemed so queer shut off from others. We used to go out walking with the baby down by the river which runs close in back of Shiloh about a quarter of a mile. I often told of the times when in the Bible School I went swimming in the river. I saw the day when I could and did swim further than any of the other young men. They gave me credit for my long distance swimming.
When we moved from that house into what was then called the Stanmore house, we were more than pleased. It meant that we could keep house ourselves, cook as we wished, and live as we liked. We found it a lot different when we started as a family to live alone. We found work went easier that way and in other ways it helped in sewing and mending.
Management of the work meant everything. So all these things made us more than thankful when we were asked to move. Mrs. Parker's father and mother also lived with us and helped with the children. It was quite a step of faith to get dishes, stove utensils, and such like for house keeping, but we began small and gradually added to our supply.
It was that spring when I began my first garden work. How big a task it seemed to me to plant a half bushel of potatoes, some string beans, some dry beans, sweet corn and other garden stuff. Even Mrs. Parker used to furnish a lot of the inspiration on the subject, as it was all to be done before and after our work at the shop. After a few mornings early work I found it growing on me how to do it. We were well paid for our work in the garden that year. Mrs. Parker doing her share - she liked the work. Especially was she the same help in all such undertakings in life. A cheerful helper always with me on every project I needed help. Faithful to the limit at every point in married life. It meant a lot for her to go through the hardships we were to endure here at Shiloh and many a time have I thanked God for such a helpmeet to cheer me along life's rugged road. Since the big earthquake that shook up this state, and our home was all a tremble, she never has wished she could stay outside but was glad we were at Shiloh. We have learned that God is here, and a fine place to get ready for Christ's second coming. Praise the Lord for His place.
I don't know just when it was that I began playing in the band for I was in the band in the Bible School but did not play much until I was living at the Stanmore house and practiced by myself. The band used to practice two evenings a week and many a good evening have we spent together from 12 to 20 of us in all. Days went by until it was talked about the band to go to Jerusalem and play at the convention September 25 to October 2, our yearly gathering. We made all preparation possible and soon it looked as if I would go, if I wanted to, with the large vessel. The large merchant ship we had purchased for that trip and work on the water needed to be repaired and fitted up for passengers so it was taken to Rockland, Maine - a shipyard where I helped on the work. The people who were going to Jerusalem were the ones picked out to help get the vessel ready for the long voyage. As I was one of the band, I was taken.
On Board the "Kingdom"
One lovely evening in August after bidding my wife and two children good bye, I left with the party in a team for Wolfs Neck, the harbor where our boat took us aboard. I was away nine long months. It was easy to go away, but it was not half so easy after being away two weeks, and by the time a month went by I was not so anxious to leave again unless I felt God wanted me to. It took lots of hard work and many long hours into the night before we were ready to go out to sea on this three masted schooner. My father-in-law was the Captain of the smaller yacht, and later on the return trip he was Master of the big vessel I was on.
About the middle of August we started out for the Holy Land, five to six thousand miles. And I had quite a sick time the first week at sea. It seemed I could never get rid of the headache. It took me weeks to get used to the water, but I enjoyed the ride just fine. Sea sickness was my trouble - some friend on my whole trip. It was a week before I could do much work. It was a good thing I was not taken for a sailor, for I was of no use at it. I later had a few days as a sailor but did not like it. This was on the coast of Palestine.
After the first week I found I could do work without my head bothering me, anyway, the water was not so rough, while the climate was also warmer. Our first big job at sea was to make a new skylight over the main hatch of the vessel. This was necessary to give light below, and as it was, we had to batten them down in every storm or rain. We did not have any heavy storms until we got into the Great Sea, Mediterranean. I liked the work with the ships carpenter and some good times we had together in pleasant weather up where we could see all about us. The ships, birds, and land from time to time were fine.
Our regular morning prayer from 9 to 10 a.m. were seasons of refreshing as we prayed over our day, our work, our protection and God's blessing upon all we did. We sought to do each day God's will. Everything we did was taken up in prayer. When in trouble we would take it to the Lord in prayer at this time. Anything that was needed was prayed over at this gathering. Yes, all of life was covered during these times. We certainly enjoyed these morning prayers on the boat and our souls were blessed. We were happy people going to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon our heads. We insisted on going that way. The way the Bible says.
Some three thousand miles of sailing brought brought us into a warmer climate and to the Azores Islands. Such a beautiful place as that large island was as we sailed all day close enough to see it nicely. One could hardly imagine a more beautiful place and climate. You would have enjoyed looking out over the water on Sunday afternoon as we neared the island and talked of sending the boat ashore to see if there was any mail there for us, and to mail some letters. I sent some letters back to cheer my loved ones also.
The wind died out and we were becalmed all the next day just off this island, so we enjoyed the clear air out on deck with a smooth ocean and excellent scenery of the island. It seemed to me like the garden of Eden. I can't forget how it impressed me as we lay off about five miles from the shore. In the afternoon our small boat returned with some fruit and vegetables from the island. And how thankful we were for it all - a genuine treat.
About the time our small boat reached us a light breeze sprang up and carried us along toward the lower end of the island, so late in that evening (a perfect one) we sat on deck thanking God and singing praise for what He was allowing us to have. I had to remind myself of the rich privilege I was having as I was going on this journey. I thought I was being well paid for my service for the Master. He was giving me this trip to His chosen land. Yes, we were all very thankful for God's love shown to us all.
Another week went by and it seemed as if we would not make Gibraltar for days yet, because the wind was so contrary at times. With much patience and prayer we went slowly ahead until we finally came to the straight where we had a head wind to meet us, so we spent some hours in prayer until it changed enough to allow us to make some progress. By evening we were about through the channel when the wind died out and we were obliged to wait until the next morning to go in.
Gibraltar & the Mediterranean
What a mighty fortress Gibraltar is - the great rock mountain standing high out of the sea. The fortress of Israel, we call it, one of the gates of the enemy that God promises to His people. The Bible tells us that Israel would possess the gates of her enemies, and it is so today. I believe it. The two or three days stay at Gibraltar were of great interest to me as something new was seen continually. On Sunday evening we went aboard one of England's big battleships and held a service for the sailors, who came out well to the meeting. They appreciated our interest in them and as we went they wished us many a blessing. We felt sure that they could never forget our testimony of our boat - all Christians - not a person overheard swearing and not a person ever seen smoking. We told them we had two or three meetings every day and did our work often singing. They could hardly believe these things, for they would say to us, "That's the most wonderful ship I ever saw", and sure it was on these lines, as there are none like us.
When we sailed away they saluted us from the war ships - considered an honor. The letters we received here at Gibraltar were most cheering and what I enjoyed most. It was joy to me as I read of my wife's welfare - how she was taken care of, etc. Some good sized letters were mailed to her at this place.
Out into the sea again we sailed slowly on up the Mediterranean. The sailing here was dangerous at times from storms that are so severe, but we were taken care of by our heavenly Father. One dangerous time when the wind was so severe we only had up a small storm sail but went many miles as the wind was fair behind. At this time we saw a water spout some distance from us. We prayed over it to change its path, as they are very disastrous, and it did not get any nearer to us.
At the next place we stopped for a few days was another of Israel's fortresses, Malta. We received some more mail, all of us so eager to learn of affairs back home. Letters more appreciated in foreign lands, I can assure you. Here we had a chance to walk on land again, which seems queer after being at sea for weeks. We were all able to get a change of food, some vegetables etc. It was here we learned that our other vessel was weeks ahead of us, because it was a better yacht, and ours a larger and slower vessel.
A heavy gale came up one day in the harbor while we were anchored there and our ship dragged anchor and we came within a few feet from shore, but a tug boat pulled us off again. I was working at the time high up on one of the masts fixing something when it looked as if the vessel was touching the stone wharf, so was afraid for a few minutes until I saw the tug coming.
Malta was the island where Paul was shipwrecked on his voyage to Rome. We talked some of walking to the spot on the other side of the island, but did not get to it. We saw it later on our return trip as we passed it out to sea.
As we sailed away from Malta on our last thousand miles to Palestine we were more and more anxious to see the Land of Israel. I had many times hoped that I could someday be permitted to see it and now the day was not far distant when the dreams of life could be fulfilled. I had often read of how the rich could travel and see these historical places but as for me it was wonderful to find I could have them. I spent lots of time thanking God for His goodness to me.
On the morning of November 5, 1906, as I was up early working we heard the man on lookout say, "land ahead" and as we went on deck to see it - sure enough it was the lovely land of Beulah. It made the joy run through my soul as we sang together - for many had come on deck by this time - "Sweet Beulah Land" and "My Country". As it was about sunrise it made the most beautiful sight I ever saw. Tears ran down my cheeks at that impressive service to think of a poor boy chosen by God to see His land. It was beyond telling the way God blessed me that morning.
At Jaffa we stopped to unload some goods we had taken over for our party who lived there. They came out to meet us on the vessel and we had a happy meeting together. They had been here at Jaffa for some months. There is no use in trying to tell very much about my stay of nearly three months in Beulah land and along the coast because there is so much that I could write about. It would make a good book this size telling about the visits to the different places.
It was the plan to go the whole length of the coast and view the whole land or coast from the vessels, and study it all as we sailed along, beginning at Egypt. So we sailed away down the coast till we came to the border of Egypt. Here all of us gathered on board the large vessel, got the band together and played to the glory of God. This service lasted all night and were rightly blessed in reading the Bible about the "South Country", where Abraham lived - about Isaac and Jacob with the twelve who lived in this country off against us. We went out and looked at the same stars that he saw when God promised to make his seed like them in number. As the band played I felt my worship something wonderful beyond description.
We sailed the next morning up the coast and as close as was safe, each of us having all the chance we wanted to view the places as we passed them and reading about them in the Bible. Those Philistine cities of Askelon and Gaza with the country around them were only ruins of a once prosperous country. This trip of one week along the coast viewing and reading over the Bible passages of it all was worth more than years of study elsewhere. Far, far from telling much about it am I in these few lines.
The big day to us was off Mt. Hor, at the entering in of Hammoth, the most northern boundary of the land. The day was spent reading our Bibles together about the places off against us. Mt. Hor was small compared with Mt. Lebanon just back of it towering miles high above the sea in its grandeur. We enjoyed the band as it played worship to God for hours. No day like it have I known in its sublimity and glory. My soul walked into eternity with its glory for hours, and for two hours the last part of the day we spent silently. How can I forget such a day!
We sailed back a few miles to the only harbor on the Beulah coast called Beirut, and stayed there over a week working on the Coronet making her ready to go around the world. It was my part to help in the carpentry work which I did every night till midnight for one week. Not until Saturday Nov. 25, 1906 did I get ashore on the Holy Land. Up to this time we were on our vessels. It was a good day and I enjoyed walking on land once more, and this was God's land.
The next day we all took a long walk. At first we thought of only taking the men, but the women wanted to go too for a trip up Mt. Lebanon. It was certainly one of my best days as I fully enjoyed the walk and scenery. As we started out a company of 40 to 50 on the train for several miles up the side of Lebanon it was one grand sight. As we got off the train for our days walk we were quite a company. The sailors and crew of the ship had on white canvas suits - so I was dressed in white, and those white suits with the white dresses of the women made quite a sight and more than that were white inside. At the usual morning prayers (9 o'clock) we sat down on the side of the road and praised God for our blessings. It was remarkable the thankful way we all felt to God for what we were seeing of His land.
A little boy up the hillside further tending his sheep was playing his "flute" we called it, but it was his own make out of a reed, so we enjoyed that as he seemed to think we were listening so gave us extra. We thought that we would like to buy it from him - but had some difficulty because of the price as he knew we were strangers so wanted a high price - the custom all nations have with travelers. The scenery along the road was sublime, looking over the country for miles around. The day was perfect until about 2 o'clock, the time we started for home when a shower came up. But we had our lunch before this, at noon on the mountain of Lebanon far from home. We sat down to eat, asking God's blessing upon our lunch which we brought from America with us; and also a blessing upon those at home, and we believe He did. It was a fine view of the country from the high mountain, and I could imagine that Moses felt the same way as he saw the land from the mountain in Moab at the south. I would like to have all who go to Beulah land have the same trip up Mt. Lebanon. It was grand indeed. As we were getting through with our lunch the shower came up and wet us down, that is those who had no umbrella with them, but I had taken mine because the sun is worse than the rain. It seemed a long walk back to the city and boats and were all very tired by the time we got there. We were ready for rest after supper. In many ways I enjoyed the day more than any other while I was away.
In a few days was Thanksgiving day in America, so we were invited to the church by the American counsel who knew we were in the harbor. He said they usually observed the day by a service and wished us to come and bring the band. At this service we played in the church three pieces as we never played before nor since. It was inspiring, I thought, as they all did their best as it was our first playing in Beulah land. However strange it may seem, from that time on the band began to get scattered, some on one ship, some on the other, some left in one place and some in others - and so it went to pieces. We gave God our worship that Thanksgiving day, the first and only time as a band in Beulah - while later a few of us played in Jerusalem.
We left Beirut in a few days and sailed along the coast of Palestine for awhile as we headed for Alexandria, Egypt. Here we stayed for a few days and went ashore some. The study of these ancient places and history of things connected with them were as good as a college course for education. I realized my rare privilege of these months of being with people who could tell us about them. It has been my way of learning by getting from others what they had, as I was not a good reader. It was easier for me to listen to others and then tell their story, and most of what I have came that way. My aim was always to keep in better company than myself and learn from them.
We were enjoying a day at the beach when a telegram came for us to return to Jaffa, so hurried back to the ship and went out the next day. We were very glad to go back to Jaffa because it was in our minds that we could not see Jerusalem, and now our great hopes were revived. The other yacht came back to Jaffa, and most all of them went up to Jerusalem so we were invited to come up as soon as we could. It was a slow voyage back to Jaffa as the winds were contrary, making sailing very slow.
When we did get back we had to spend a day fumigating the vessel and ourselves because Alexandria had small pox there and they were afraid of carrying it here, so it took us most of the day to get past this job. We all had to go ashore to a bath house for this purpose - and after all we enjoyed sitting on the shore looking over the pretty shells. This was December 30th and one lovely day - the winter in Palestine is usually fine except during the rains which come about this time. The summer is very hot - too much so for us who were used to a colder climate.
After going back to the vessel from the fumigation we found some getting ready to go to Jerusalem that night by team. I was made very happy as I could go with them as I had one dollar sent me by my mother from Racine, Wis., and it cost that to take the ride to Jerusalem. It was the only money she ever sent me before, on the trip - and only once before had she sent me money at Christmas time, so I felt it was my heavenly Father's hand in it at this time so I could go to Jerusalem. I shall always remember my carriage ride from Jaffa to Jerusalem that wonderful moon lit night.
About seven o'clock in the evening a party of three teams started on the all night ride. We could say we were a few first fruits of Israel returning to Zion with songs and everlasting joy on our heads. Over and over we sang, "Home to Zion" - a hymn of our own so common but real for the first time that night. As we passed through the orange groves for miles the fragrance was immense. Out on the plains of Sharon with the moon shining bright as day made it a ride indeed which would take many pages like this. And up through the mountains of Judah we went with the scenery so sublime paper cannot tell it, and early in the morning we saw Jerusalem, the city of the Great King, with joy so deep no one could express to see this city.
It was a wonderful week I spent in Zion, visiting and reading about the places so sacred to the Bible and to us. Seeing Calvary, the place where Jesus died, was so touching to me, making me know it was all true the story oft repeated. I could believe the Bible now because those places witnessed to me of their past truth of the Holy Land and about the city of Jerusalem. I spent one splendid day on the Mount of Olives, reading the Bible - and looked for a long distance in every direction. Praise God for that trip! Who could not help but be thankful for seven days in and about the city which is yet to be the joy of the whole earth?
I took the train to go back to Jaffa to the boat so to allow those at the ship a chance to go up. Here and there on the train were places we could see that told of the Bible days. The land is filled with ancient reminders of the people and happenings. There is so little changed that one can easily see how it was in Bible days, remarkable as it seems to be, yet it seems they practiced the Bible in "not removing the ancient land marks". They are seen today everywhere in the land.
It was night before I got on the vessel where for two weeks I was a sailor taking someone's place who went to Jerusalem. It was so hard on me for I was so dizzy during those rough stormy days. We came near being ship wrecked in a storm when the wind was blowing us on the rocks but was delivered in answer to prayer for the wind to change, which it did, so we could get away from the shore.
One other time I came near being lost in a row boat as we were going to the big vessel which did not return for us as was planned, so had to return to shore some eight miles. A storm came up just before we reached shore which almost drove us out to sea - and lasted several days when vessels were blown ashore where we could see them.
On January 27th we were ready to start for America, and for three months had an interesting voyage home, stopping at Malta, Gibraltar, for provisions. All kinds of experiences came along the way that helped make the trip interesting. Most of my time spent in carpenter work, while at times I did some shoe repair work. This is a short account of three interesting months, but must hurry on for lack of room.
I was a happy man to get into Portland April 26 and make my way up to Shiloh. As wife and I met again after nine months away we were so glad. A new baby boy I had not seen born while I was in Jerusalem. The children hardly knew me but in a few days we were all right as they got used to me. Esther only two years old cried when I kissed her at first, thinking I was a stranger. We had a convention where we who had been to Jerusalem told the others about our voyage and trips, so we shared it with those who stayed at home.
In the Garden
Years then passed in my experience with nothing of importance outside of the regular routine of life, except improvements I made myself for my good. I made a study of garden work each year and learned how useful it came to help our food situation which for years grew worse gradually, but with extreme planning and management it went much easier. My father used to have popcorn at home on Sundays for a treat, so became quite a hand for it myself. I tried some to raise it but it went slow at first on account of our short seasons. I saw someone else who grew some so made up my mind to grow it too and each year made a better trial at it. I gradually found some secrets until now I have as good a patch as one could ask for. I also took an interest in growing potatoes and beans and with much study and work found out many good points on these lines. Squash also has been of much interest and can have these as one goes at it right. I found by experience that hand tools were what we needed here for our work in gardening to make it easier, so went to work making some, a cart, a hand plow, and two cultivators. My tools were used by others and often spoken of as fine ideas - also copied by many. My children also help in the garden work and the tools make the work easier for them. Our garden work at home is done mostly outside of our regular work, so found us up early mornings and as long as we could see at night during the garden season.
Struggling with Faith & Children
As one by one my children were given to me to train in righteousness and to love God, I found my load of cares growing heavier. Each child meant a lot more burdens as it seemed to me. So much needed and no regular pay meant a lot of prayer to get needs supplied. The necessities of life had to be gotten by our own faith. Gradually as provisions got shorter we were forced to trust God for help in some other way. Especially so when we wanted cakes, pies, puddings and candies or delicacies - these we had to get ourselves. But our Father heard us as we prayed and would often answer us in ways one would not dream of. I can remember how hard life seemed to be with five children to provide for, dress, feed, etc. by faith. It seemed more than one could handle or take care of under our circumstances, so much so that when another baby was promised it brought a dread of things over me. Through suffering as it caused me for some time I began to trust in God, who was not small. He could provide for all. My faith overcame in the struggle, so much so that God helped us wonderfully with the sixth baby. Life was a little easier instead of a little harder - and continued getting easier with the seventh child - a big change came. It was so different than I expected, but God was helping me. I could very plainly His work behind the scenes, touching peoples' hearts to give, and they did so.
I began to think that God would take care of me no matter how many children I had come to me. I began to see it was not such a load in life after all to have a large family as most everyone thinks these days. I began to believe that the Bible told the truth where it said, "Blessed is the man who hath his quiver full of them", referring especially to children. As sure as I began to believe it, just so sure I began to realize it and see actual fulfillment of it in my case. I was ready to believe God would take care of each one individually when my eighth baby came - He would see that it had clothes - He would never forget to feed eight - never let me have only enough for six again. God took care of them all - why I could begin to unload my burden in life now, instead of it being heavier. As faith in God was exercised things came easier, so much so it is easier to dress eight than it is five. God began His work, too, behind the scenes upon a person who later proved to be a real friend to help us in every way.
Our ninth baby came with wonderful blessing - way beyond what we could ask or think. Plenty of everything was given to it. I felt rich - yes, "richer by far than a queen or a Czar". I would sing, "I'm an heir to the wealth of heaven". I feel the blessing now upon my head from my Father in heaven for He said "Blessed is the man with his quiver full", and I believe I have and am receiving that promise. Oh, the wonderful unseen hand of God, how marvelously it moves, how wonderful it works, how heavenly the blessings it bestows upon us. I wish to give Him all the praise for the way He has led me and blessed me these nineteen years since I left home alone to live with God without pay as others get their daily wages.
I would mention how glad I was to thoroughly learn the shoe trade because it has helped me to keep the children in shoes. I have worked at it ever since coming from Palestine. It was a hard place to work, in many ways, but gradually God was helping me to get hold of the whole thing, so that now I have been buying all the shoe material used for several years. I find it's worth a lot to be able to understand something about leather in its numerous varieties. There came I time when I was needed to oversee the work myself and then I could make the changes I had often said were necessary to make the work a success. Changes in the patterns, in the building, in the workmen, and in the price of shoes. Anyone will tell you that our shoe shop is a marvel, where we are able to make shoes so cheap, as compared with others outside.
A few days ago I was telling someone that it was a pleasure now to work for these people and give them the best for their money. We promised to give them all real satisfaction with the shoes we make for them or return their money; and we did it. As far as we were able, the shoes were made just as they ordered them. It must be taken into consideration that our time here at Shiloh is largely taken up in religious services, so much so it handicaps us in our time for secular work. As we are short of men here as well as outside we often have to do more work to keep things going.
Generally for the last two years I have had to go once a month to Shiloh to help print the paper, having had some experience in the printing in early years working on the press. When I went away from Shiloh in 1902 just as I was about to leave I knelt behind the printing press and in a sad prayer to God asked Him to so guide my coming steps that I could again work on that press. Now the years have passed and in spite of my other trade I am forced to take the answer to my own prayer because there was no one who could run the press for awhile. I have often reminded my heavenly Father that I was so thankful for His constant care and answers to prayer in this matter.
"Seek Ye First..."
I recall another remarkable answer to prayer that I had for Christmas boxes. I did not get any at that time. Others I would see have them, so longed for some to come my way. My wife and I began to pray about the matter, and sure enough they began to come because my brother together with father and mother sent us a box one Christmas with clothes to make over for the children, some popcorn and candy with some toys. Now we were more than delighted beyond measure to think we were remembered with a Christmas box. I wrote them telling them how it helped us, so after that for years now we have received from 100 to 180 lbs. in boxes for Christmas to cheer and bless and brighten our Christmas. We were so glad and thankful for the clothes to make over for the children, in fact, made most of the things needed from what was sent us. Mrs. Parker being a genius to fix over clothes so we could all wear them. In this way our Father helped us over many a hard place for clothes for the family.
It's with joy that I can add to my story the way we used to pray for some good Christian friend to write to - someone who could afford to send us a little once in a while. Again we prayed this way for boxes to be sent us during the year besides at Christmas time. In other words, for God to send us Christmas boxes all the year around. What a prayer to have answered and yet more than once we asked for these favors with the faith that we could have what we wanted. And we have seen that prayer or prayers answered beyond what we asked for.
Our answer for prayer for boxes came about in this peculiar way, one I have thanked God for. I tried to find a person to thank for some toys my children received at Christmas time but had to wait over a year when some more came with their names marked on them so became more anxious to find the party. As the name and city and state was marked I was sure I could find them, but the letter I sent returned so had to find some other way and later, in a queer way I found the person's address and got a letter through to them. Pleased as they were to hear from us they wrote back and forth awhile until we became quite well acquainted not having seen each other. Later more boxes came, and things were sent from time to time until we were puzzled to know why they should take such interest in us. Our deep unbounded gratitude to God for what they sent seemed to get into our letters as they afterward said so and was the thing that impressed them and made it a pleasure to send more things to us. It did not take long to see our Father's hand was in it all. It has made us see how that the more thanks we gave to God from our hearts. the more God works on others to send the needed things to us. I am sure there will be no lack in our supply if we will faithfully give God all the glory due Him for what He does do for us. One of the marked signs of the last days spoken of in the Bible is being unthankful. It don't need much said to see how true that is with people today. We have been learning for years how to be thankful for everything, as the Bible says, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you".
The other wonderful answer to prayer for boxes came from the State of California where a man I once knew who went out that way to live and felt led to send something to my family. For some time I did not know where he was, but later found him, so heard from him once in awhile. He was certainly a liberal giver for the rich royal gifts he and wife sent us made us ever thankful to God for what came. It is beyond expression the way the many elegant things were sent to us from way across the continent. This shows the way God works behind the scenes for those who trust Him.
It would be impossible to have these remarkable answers if my wife did not agree with me. It's a wonderful thing to have a wife who has learned obedience by suffering to such an extent it is easy to agree on earth as touching anything; so that our "prayers be not hindered". What can stand before such oneness? Even God Himself will back it up, for Jesus said, "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything it shall be done for them of my Father." She has won this quality of soul that has learned the secret of agreeing with her husband in things he wishes carried out. That is what wins the victory, first by faith, then by fact. It brings the results which others cannot get without being "one", in reality. We read in the Bible that, "a prudent wife is from Jehovah", and I am one who can say that is truth. I could not even ask for one better. The choice of a God-given wife is like what Solomon said of a virtuous woman, "her price is far above rubies", and I mean that myself. I never found her anything but true blue and could "always trust her", at all times and under all circumstances. Her love is wonderful - unequaled by nothing on earth and I love to "praise her" in my writings. I am well aware of the fact that I am better "known in the gates" because of her, and of her interest in all my work, yes, it is true that, "she will do him good and not evil all the days of her life". As a mother of nine, yes, ten children she should certainly have good come to her on this her thirty ninth birthday. She is, "a woman that feareth Jehovah" because of her love for the right thing and the Bible - her daily life lets God shine forth. Of course, "she shall be praised" and I am doing so. One could hardly believe the way she does her sewing for so many besides her other work. "She worketh willingly with her hands", for us all - and even does something for others at times. "She looketh well to the ways of her household and eateth not the bread of idleness". I have often had people say to me, "How does your wife keep them all looking so nicely dressed?", . . . "for all her household are clothed". She is also good at cooking and takes such an interest in it, "she riseth also while it is yet night and giveth meat to her household". It has taken long hours to keep so many fed, but God has given His help and blessing upon us both as we have labored together in this matter so important. I cannot help but love and "praise her". A person who loves to see things neat and clean is what she is - and a home more cheerful at evening could hardly be found as we gather about the family table to spend our happy evenings. Can those little ones forget it? - No. it can't be erased. I fully believe that they will all grow up so thankful for their teaching from her lips as "she opened her mouth with wisdom". The time will come when they can all look back and tell about their Godly mother and say, "her law" was the "law of kindness" to them and will then see the many instructing things they learned upon her knee as "she openeth the law of God" to them.
What a future is ours! What treasures laid up at God's right hand I can see. I have great hopes for the future when "she shall rejoice in time to come" and see our "seed inherit the earth " with the meek, and when "her children rise up and call her blessed". We won't be sorry then because there were so many - we shall see our travail of soul and be satisfied with the Master who will take control of this world for one thousand years.
I can truly close up these few accounts of my life with the words of the 23rd Psalm as my own, -
The Lord is Shepherd, I shall not want.
"Praise the Lord"