Overcomer EG Article











Boat Trip on Overcomer   to Barter's Island for a Camp Meeting

From Lewiston Evening Journal, Tuesday, July 28, 1903:


The "Overcomer" with a Band of Sandfordites Steams Down River.

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BATH, Me.: July 28 (Special.) When the Rev. F. W. Sandford went in to lend his substantial support to the Holy Ghost he decided not to stop altogether on land.

"For," said he "The Lord is on the deep, and it is deep down Back River."

So it was no surprise, on Monday, to see the Rev. Mr. Sandford's gasoline launch "The Overcomer" come over the waters to the town-landing here in Bath puffing like grampus and smelling like a section of the other place in the hereafter. A slick-looking craft she slid through the water like an eel and looked very much like the more worldly craft, in which men go down to the sea, which [with?] picnic barrels in the cabin, all filled with comestibles and comdrinkables.


Long before the Sandford vehicle of religious dissemination arrived in Bath, the forerunners - the evangels as it were of this expedition to the sea - arrived here fresh from the sand hills of Durham. There were a hundred of them and all of them were full of that ancient and traditional longing for the sea - the same that inspired the Greeks on the way to the Euxime. Loaded down with all of the impedimanta of travel it looked like an exploring party to the realms of dark Africa. Gripsacks and haversacks, extension cases and dress-suit cases; carpet bags and hand bags; lunch boxes and bread boxes and finally harps and psalteries, lyres and tuning-forks, they swarmed on the wharf and filled the interstices between the coal chutes and the fruit stands. Nearly every one of them had his Bible with him proving that this is no ordinary picnic. The proportion of long-tailed coats to short was likewise as four to one and of white chokers to red was as a million to nothing.

Along about noon the "Overcomer" was seen in the distance and was hailed with rejoicing.

With a thumpity-thump, she dallied along on the ruffled waters of Kennebec. A song of rejoicing was lifted as she hove in sight and the faithful greeted her as a message from the other-world.

On board of her were about twenty of the inner-circle who had come down on her from Brunswick especially for the sail. There had been some difficulty of on the route - such as might be expected in dealing with such worldly agencies as gasoline, but it had been overcome and all were safe.

On the way the propeller had gotten tangled up in some driftwood and had been slightly twisted but the thing was straightened out and the Ship of Joy had proceeded. This delay took a few hours - a delay that greatly troubled the faithful in waiting. The "Overcomer" is a fast and seaworthy boat.

The forenoon crowd was not so large as that which arrived by the noon train from Brunswick. This was a special party. This party couldn't of course all be provided for on the "Overcomer" lest it might overcome her and sink her so they went aboard of the steamer Nahanada and bargained at reduced rates - for the clergy - on the Eastern Steamboat line. Agent Greenleaf had a fine time discussing the matter, but he was weak on this point. In dialectics and exegesis of steamboat rates and the rights of the large party of students he was distinctly not in it with the gentlemen from Shiloh. So he had to capitulate.

The party from Shiloh was in charge of A.K. Perry. In the absence of Mr. Sandford Mr. Perry had entire charge of the party. None of the others seemed to know much about the trip. It was evidently personally conducted.

Mr. Perry was also so busy that he had no time for casual chat. He said that they were going to Barter's Island near Sheepscot Bay and they were to have a series of meetings there for the good of the cause. The Overcomer will be used as a sort of general utility boat. She is loaded with tents and equipage for camping and it is evident that Sandfordism is to take an outing.

Many young people - children, boys and girls are in the party. Others are old and gray-haired.

Mr. Sandford will arrive in due time and the fisherman of the vicinity will be treated to the real thing in the teachings of the Holy Ghost as salted and flavored by the first outing from Beulah.


From Lewiston Saturday Journal, August 1, 1903:



Not for the Golden Fleece,

But Facts of the Shilohite Meet on

Barter's Island




Down the Swift Flowing Sasanoa and a Picturesque

Ride Over Three Islands with

Pen Pictures of the Sheepscot Camp.


BATH, Aug.1 (Special). - This is the tale of a modern Jason.

My Pelias, the Journal's managing editor; my Aea, Barter's Island; Sasanoa's Hell Gates, my Scylla and Charybdis; my Argo, the trim and speedy Nahanada; my mission to discover and obtain, not the Golden Fleece, but the Golden Truth of the encampment of the Shiloh pilgrims.

To follow the analogy; my dragon was the leader of the evangelists; averse to being interviewed for newspaper information, being wrapped in evangelistic purposes; and my Medea, who by expanding the imagination might have been the pretty maiden in the pink sink {silk?} waist, was too much interested in the picturesque services and too curious as to why I was taking notes, to lull, with her magic powers - which I know she possesses nevertheless - the monster to sleep, while I pulled the wool over the Dragon's genial eyes!



A story of the Shilohites at Sheepscot's riverside was wanted, and in the Scotch mist of Wednesday night the Journal man was on the bobbing float at Bath's city landing hailing the slick white Overcomer, moored just off the wharf. "Overcomer, ahoy!"

"Aye, aye, sir!" came a muffled voice and the yacht's canvas sides, behind which beamed a light, were drawn and a man's head was poked out in the darkness.

"Nobody in Bath knows the quickest way to your camp on Barter's Island. Can I go on your boat in the morning?"

"Don't know, sir."

"Is Boothbay, or Sawyer's Island, the better way?"

"Don't know, sir."

"Is Mr. Sandford going down in the the Overcomer tomorrow?"

"Don't know, sir."

"Is anybody going down in your boat to-morrow morning?"

"Don't know, sir.

"In case Mr. Sandford, or some one else, goes, can you let me have passage with you?"

"Don't know, sir."

This was all so encouraging that, although the two men on the Overcomer suggested that Mr. Sandford would know all about everything if he arrived on the early train, I boarded the swift and more comfortable Eastern steamer, Thursday morning, and was soon enjoying the beautiful scenery of the swift waters and bold green-clad shores of the always delightful Sasanoa.

No river is more charming. No islands more beautiful. No banks of rivers elsewhere can compare and few rivers run with such hilarity in their sparkling faces to meet the great, green sea.

From pretty summer cottages nestled amid pine groves or on green slopes came ladies and girls to the rocky shores, waving aprons and kerchiefs; -- not that they knew a soul on board, but because the sunny morning and the happy joyousness of their summer life made them wish to give cheer to those on the swiftly flying boat. To be less philosophical, they did it just for fun!

Up rose the gray mists, Aurora's veil lifted gallantly by Tithonus while Neptune rolled in his bed murmuring "Half an hour more of sleep." Deftly, from long practice, the deckhands lassooed the cleats on wharf piling of stations where we stopped. Westport landing was rubbing its eyes and pleasant Riggsville just waking up, as we skipped across Sheepscot bay and made for Sawyer's Island and the Isle of Springs.

Fresh shone the yellow paint on the "Spring's" hotel against a fresh background of hemlock, spruce, fir and pine. The pretty summer homes of the Lewiston and Auburn cottagers on the island's shore showed proudly their stylish walls of drab, grey, sage-green and cream. Early voyageurs from several islands in boats and launches, with flags and without, were skipping about. Fishermen were pulling up flapping nets and investigating piano box like lobster cars.

Out beyond, the mist was slowly ascending from the surface of the ocean. I breathed in the glorious life-giving morning air of the salt and sleeping sea.



Ahead was the pier and above, the clump of white glistening hotel and houses of Sawyer's Island. A splendidly made landing and a Shilohite from Bar Harbor, a young member of the movement and myself, walked quickly ashore.

"How do we get to the camp?" I asked. "Do we walk or ride?"

"I don't know," was my companions reply.

This "I don't know" grows monotonous after a more intimate acquaintance with these curios Sandford followers.

I have a dim impression, dented into my head after a two days' shower of "I don't knows," that it is a Holy Ghost and Us habit these people have gotten into from frequent fencing with the Scribes and Pharisees! The students and members, while courteous and polite, either really do not know things that you expect them to, or take this method of making the interrogator go to General Sandford or some of his chief lieutenants, the Shiloh leaders, for information.

Learning from the up-to-date proprietor of the settlement store and hotel - postmaster also he is - that it was several miles to the camp over a hard road and that the return boat would leave early in the afternoon, I mingled with the lively crowd of summer boys and girls in the store, waiting for the mail to open, and was glad to see how the arms and faces of the Cleveland school-ma'ams, and other city girls, had become burned and handsome since they'd come to Maine. And what a rollicking, lively crowd are the summer boys of the Isle of Springs and Sawyer's. By this time the letters had been distributed and the postmaster and I made a quick dicker for a team.

During the trade I discovered that my companion, the Shilohite, had only 15 cents left to his name, he trusting to Providence, - they all do, - for expenses. I took him aboard and gave him a ride, which saved him four or five miles of hard walking up hill and down in a broiling sun and landed him, eventually, fresh as a daisy, at the camp.

"I don't know," if he "didn't know" enough to thank me for the lift and the courtesy - but he didn't.

I was saddened for this was my first acquaintance among the followers of Brother Sandford.

Up the hills and down the hills, over bridges from Sawyer's to Hodgdon's past Trevett and the drawbridge to Barter's; over the best part of three islands with wood roads shading splashing mud and over hilltops broiling in the July sun; through refreshing green forests; past prosperous farmhouses and hay-fields, odorous with being-made hay; catching glimpses of buxom farmer's wives, and rosy-cheeked maidens on stoop or in the window; seeing a big four-master loading ice in an out-of-the-way cove; past schoolhouses, neat and trim, with bells in belfry and little churches with spires pointing heavenward on hilltops; along high plateaus that gave fine views of Sheepscot bay and Sheepscot river, noting the flocks of bluebirds, bobolinks and golden finches, that seemed so very tame, and the brier roses, and golden-rod; purple bells and morning glories along the wall sides; that were so sweetly wild, I had an inspiring ride.

I hope my friend, the Sandfordite from Mr. Desert, was as devoutly thankful for the beauty of the scene as was I.

I said to him, "It's a splendid ride" and put out both hands to make a Boston catch of the awaited "I don't know;" but he said, instead, very simply, "Yes, sir, it is indeed."

I asked him if he was a student.

He replied that he had been a student but was now a member of the church at East harbor.

With as gentle diplomacy as I can call to aid, I drew him into a brief conversation as to his belief. He was firmly convinced that it was all according to the Bible prophecy, this new faith of Shiloh. He considered that Mr. Sandford was the agent of God and that the religion was surely over spreading all the world. He was in earnest in his claim that it was the only true religion.

"But," said I, "how about the Catholic and the Methodist faiths? May they not be also true?"

"They are sects," he replied. "They have not yet come from under the cloud of ignorance. They will, in time."

"And how do you know that you have the true faith?" I asked.

"I have experienced it and lived it. It satisfies me as nothing else could. Therefore I know it to be true." he said.

Certainly a very pat reply.



Leaving on a hilltop the neat little Free Baptist church which perched up there in prim orthodox fashion, seems sufficient, to the "Uitlander," for the religious needs of so small a population as Barter's Island, the strong, fat and willing red horse pulls us quickly down the country road, through a little wood of scrub fir, to a cluster of four farm houses located in a basin-like hollow; on the east, the rim being of a hillside of pasture land with few trees or even shrubs; on the west the green bluff of the Sheepscot, an eighth of a mile away.

Through the centre of this basin runs the road and to the east of the road and close beside it in a little pasture, on which abuts two farmhouses, a rather uninviting site, is that of the tent, where, this week is in session one of the occasional conventions of the Sandford people. The tent, supported by two centre poles, reminds one, to speak profanely, of the side-show of a circus. It will accommodate possibly 150 people. The tent is not surrounded by shade trees, and had its sides up to allow free ingress of the cooling breezes when the red horse stopped and I jumped down among the Shiloh pilgrims who were gathering for their morning service.

I asked my friend to introduce me to a leader, but he seemed shy. He "didn't know" any leader.

I stated my errand to a respectable appearing man, who took my message to headquarters and I waited patiently the reply, which was that this was simply an ordinary evangelical assembly and that services were just about to begin. The leader would not show himself to this Jason who had come so far in the broiling sun in search of the golden truth as found out at Shiloh Camp.

So I anchored my team per force, as no shade was anywhere about, right in the broiling sun and trusted, for my horse and driver's comfort, to the freely blowing breezes from the river. I would see things for myself and get at least some of the truth!

Turning toward the tent once more, I examined it with more care. A blue flag from one pole bore in white this inscription, "The Truth." Above the entrance to the tent, on the canvas, was painted, "The Everlasting Gospel."

The tent had no flooring laid, the chairs for the worshippers being placed upon the ground. A raised platform elevated the leaders and speakers a couple of feet and on this, in the centre, stood a pulpit covered with gold plush on top, the pulpit and chairs on the platform being painted white. Symbolical of the purity of the faith of the Sandford sect.

At the right was an oak-cased cabinet organ and, to the left, upon the ground was the Holy Ghost and Us Orchestra of eleven players.

A sweet-faced lady, of 30 or 35 years, presided at the organ.

Pendant from the centre of the tent were two large kerosene lamps to light the tent at evening services.

The congregation by this time was seated. It numbered some 90 men, women, children and even babies. Slightly more than half the number were members of the Sandford faith, the remainder being residents of the island. It was the Fast Day of the sect, Thursday of each week being set apart to abstain, so far as possible, from business and labor and to refrain six hours from food.

Two thirds of those present were of the gentler sex. The men and women of the faith had with them their morocco covered Bibles and most of them had note-books and recorded portions of the addresses made.

I had nearly forgotten to mention that above the altar elevated at an angle across the end of the tent, was a large map of Maine within a border representing a summer sky, while at the bottom was a good painting of the battleship Maine at sea. A white banner hanging against the wall of the tent, behind the speakers, bore in purple letters this inscription, "Let Them Declare His Praise in the Islands."

The services were opened with music and prayer and the singing was very creditable indeed. Especially effective were duets by the lady organist, a matron of the faith who, while not of Shiloh, assists them at every convention, and a young man with a serious face and pleasing tenor voice.

In prayer nearly every knee was bent or head bowed, and frequent "Amens" and "Bless the Lords" reminded one of an ole-time Methodist camp-meeting. The prayers were earnest and as well-made as you hear at prayer meetings of the orthodox churches.



While the morning service was thus getting under way, I espied walking down the road, a man in clerical black whom I took to be a Shiloh leader who for some reason was not on duty in the tent.

I left the congregation to seek him, but was informed that he was not a Sandfordite before I had gone ten yards. He was a congregational clergyman from a pastorate in a large city in another state and I was informed that he was opposed to the Sandfordites, the reason given being that the evangelists had been trying to convert a lady relative of property on the island and he was seeking to prevent.

There was a possibility of finding interesting truth and I pursued the pedestrian in black, who was now far ahead. I cogitated, as I sprinted after him, if it would be proper, in a quiet country road, to whistle after a sedate clergyman, but with regard for his dignity and my own I refrained. It was hot and he evidently mistook me for a Shilohite, judging from his not looking around, when I called out "Good morning." On getting nearer, I told him I desired to converse with him. Without turning his head, he replied, "Proceed."

I "proceeded" and the reverend gentleman denied the truth of the rumor as to the evangelists and his relative. He had, however, he said, forbidden the followers of Sandford holding proposed open air meetings on a certain portion of the island over which he had authority. I asked his reasons for such action, and he explained that the Sandford evangelists were creating an unhealthy excitement among the island people. That Mr. Sandford was weakening the local

Baptist church, which had been doing good work for the cause of religion, and had already caused a partial schism therein. That, in his opinion, Mr. Sandford's movement was on unstable foundations; that he had been driven from certain cities because of the evil of his doctrines and religious practices and had come to Barter's Island against the desires of many worthy people of the place.

Thanking the Reverend Gentleman in black and leaving him I returned to the Shiloh camp on Barter's Isle.



Now a certain man of the ordinary world, not a church member, some time ago presented a farmhouse on Barter's Island for a place of worship. In this temple, filled with neatly white-clothed tables, supplied with food by the neighbors this week, the Shiloh pilgrims eat their three meals a day. The walls are decorated with religious mottoes and the tables are ornamented with bouquets of brier roses and flowers of the field and garden. Here, calling for a drink of water, I met my first cordial greeting - barring that of the genial landlord at Sawyer's landing - that I had received from any religionist that morning. These good souls, as I drank the water, told me much. How the Lord provided them with everything needed in a wonderful way. How He had put it in the heart of the worldly man to give them their temple. How the thirteen Sandfordites at Barter's Island prospered. How happy they were in the new faith.

One of them, now note this sequence of my talk with the clergyman in black, explained that she had been a member of the local Baptist society, but had been converted to Sandfordism. "Before," she said, "I felt that I would be saved when I died. "Now," she concluded with a smile, "I know I am saved this minute and forever. Bless the Lord!" she fervently cried. "Why, just to look upon Mr. Sandford," she added, "is enough to convince one that he is a saint."

She told me how the food was sent by the Lord for the convention pilgrims to eat. Some had given this, others that, and it was cooked by the neighbors at their homes. I laid a piece of silver in the woman's hand for my glass of water, and she was convinced that Heaven's influence had caused the act.



Returning to the tent, I listened to Leader A.K. Perry's address, which he was reading. He stated that members of the faith from Atlantic to Pacific, from England, Ireland and Wales, were in the tent. He claimed that Shiloh's was the true religion. They took the whole Bible for the constitution and by-laws of their society. The membership was small but growing all over the world, and would sweep all sin before it until all should be saved. They encountered persecution, as had the apostles and prophets before them, but God was with them.

Mr. Perry stated two startling coincidences. "In a small town a certain minister advised and commanded the people not to attend the Shiloh meetings. One week later that minister was dead. God had removed him from earth. Another minister, in that same small town, opposed the Shiloh movement. He became insane.

"He who talks the Bible and lives up to it will be persecuted, but god is going to see to it that vile, wicked sinners get the gospel and have their lives changed," said Mr. Perry.

He laid stress upon the fact that the meek should inherit indeed the kingdom, and concluded by urging all who desired to become a subject of their King to raise their right hands while the sweet-faced organist and sad-faced boy sang very prettily the hymn, "Precious Blood."

Though seeking very ably converts for some time, the leader got none and had to give it up, as the noon respite was due, and so the session closed with earnest prayer and a hymn sung while all were kneeling.



I walked across the fields with Leader Perry, who told men that he was a former business man of the work. He is a genial, kindly man (this dragon, after you meet him), of some oratorical ability. He explained that this meeting at Barter's Island is a sort of convention like the Baptist quarterly. They were gatherings of the faithful from all over the world where Shiloh is represented. "Church of the Living God" is the official name of the movement, which has extended 11,000 miles, and is growing, the Shilohites claim. Shiloh proper is a sort of religious school, having seven grades, from the kindergarten for babes upward. The Bible, as it is, is preached at Shiloh.

Mr. Perry explained that the worshippers of his belief tried to live according to Holy Writ, and relied entirely upon God for direction. The present convention is for the week, and the tent will probably be struck after the meeting of to-morrow (Sunday) night.

I inquired of resident farmers at Barter's Island with regard to the local estimation of Shiloh's people. They replied that the Sandfordites lived good lives, according to the Bible doctrines and were highly esteemed.



As the Journal Jason left the amphitheatre of the convention for the steamer at Sawyer's, he cast a last look back to photograph in memory the scene. On vine-covered porch of farmhouse near sat one group. In an orchard were others. By couples and groups they were sitting among the ledges of the field, while quite a number were singing hymns in the little tent. Beyond the bucolic scene of pastures, field and woods was the silvery gleam of the Sheepscot river, some distance to the east. The hymns, well sung, were borne to be by the summer breeze as the boy clucked to the patient red horse and the team rafted over the windy hills and picturesque bridges and the sunny stretches of road back from these unique religionists to the orthodoxy and workaday life of the world.

As the big Wiwurna steamed through the Gates, we passed bound to Barter's Camp, the delayed Overcomer, "pluff-pluffing" her way down the Sasanoa with that man, in many ways original and remarkable and certainly persistent, however else he may be estimated, the head of the Holy Ghost and Us Enterprise, the Saint of the Barter's women and Apostle of Shiloh, Rev. Mr. Sandford, at the wheel and pretty closely hugging the rocky shore.

Without discussing the theological and anti-denominational characteristics of Mr. Sandford's "Church of the Living Christ," or the practical strength or weakness of the leader's great scheme, Jason has returned from his Argonautical trip to Barter's Island Camp quite sure that the rank and file of the sect are very happy in their faith and, whether right or wrong, are trying to be good Christians in their own way.


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