Thursday, March 19, 2015

Some Historical Tidbits

The following chapter is taken from a pamphlet entitled Our Camp Meeting Heritage. Chapter two begins in Grand Junction, MI in 1908, followed by other historical tidbits. Many of the names and places are well known to this blogger. The scene pictured at left comes from Grand Junction 1939 and is a scene from the life of E. E. Byrum, a service attended by this blogger as a child.


     “Ten Days at Grand Junction” in 1908,was reported by lay-member, Mrs. Mary (McCormick) Rumbaugh, at the request of the editor of the Decatur, MI. Republican . (Names in parenthesis were inserted by this writer; otherwise it is recorded as written and without editing.)


At the request of our editor we will write about the Saints campmeeting and how it is conducted. We will try to give you some idea of how they work and what their plans are.

In the first place the Saints take only the bible for their guide, and while God lives we don’t need anything else. It alone will lead men from earth to heaven: no man made conferences, no class book, not even the scratch of a pen. By the way, you don’t have to join anything to get to heaven.

A company of us attended the Grand Junction campmeeting. It is 28 miles from here. It was a ten days’ meeting with the best of order, no disturbances at all.

There is a tabernacle which holds about 600 people. The Saints buildings on the grounds on which the people are tented are all of lumber. There were only two cloth tents on the grounds. Mr.Palmer’s (A. B. Palmer) and our own.

The first two nights terrible wind storms came upon us. The roar and rumble of thunder and flash after flash of lightning made it frightful. The first night was the worst. Every little while it seemed as though our tent would be torn from its fastenings and lifted into mid-air. It was at the lonely midnight hour and the sharp flashes of lightning followed by the inky blackness made the bravest of us shudder. Mr. Rumbaugh leaped out of the bed, grabbed the ridge pole and above the din of the thunder he sang “Whiter than Snow.”

But just at that time I was not thinking much about snow, we were having plenty of rain. I was afraid we would surely have to part with our tent for the wind was blowing a gale. I got down to the ropes and pole below and hung unto the tent with all my might.

For an hour we held our frail residence to the ground by main strength until the wind and rain finally subsided. We did have our hands full to keep our tent with us. Mrs. Simmons (Decatur pastor’s wife) and others who had buildings to live in came in the next morning to see if we were alive. They said they thought of us and got up and came down stairs, for the wind was so great that it shook the buildings.

Well, the next night the rain and wind came onto us again, but we all escaped without much trouble this time.

There were 23 preachers at the camp-meeting and we did not pick out any one of them to take the pulpit or to preach. They all sat in the congregation. The Saints all sang the songs of Zion and then prayed and then sang again, and some one would preach and some-times another.

When one would start out to deliver his message there was no end to it. Seemed as though it were like the days of old. In those days they had rolls and they’d keep unrolling and it seemed as though there were no place to stop. They’d read and study the bible, but a Saint never was known to have written sermons. They go far beyond that. They all go to head quarters and get a hearing from their heavenly father. The bible says “Open your mouth wide and I’ll fill it.” Well, that’s the way the Saints all do.

I have seen a poor preacher stand behind his pulpit before a crowded house and a wind storm would come along and, lo and behold, the man’s written sermon was scattered all about. Therefore he lost tract of the thought he had written down. Sad state of things. It would have been better for him if he had been a man of God.

The meetings began every morning at six o’clock. At nine Young People’s meeting was held in the grove nearby, also Children’s meeting by the same time in a tent, led by Miss. Jessie Osborn of Hamilton, assisted by others. Preaching began at 10:30 and lasted till noon, then after service dinner, and preaching at two and at seven.

Two boy preachers were there, one was twenty-one and the other seventeen. Their father was a wonderful preacher. When he would preach he would hold crowds for hours at a time. He was a poor drunken wreck, soul and body. He tried to be a man but failed many times. He said, “I was a traitor doomed to fire, yet my injured Creator has snatched me from the flames by the costly sacrifice of his own dear son.” He finally changed masters and be-came the child of a King. His name is W. (Willis) Brown and his home is Hedrick, Iowa.

His two sons (Charley and Anderson) did a great deal of preaching. I never did hear such preaching from boys. The words came out of their mouths so fast it was something like Niagara Falls. They held the people’s strict attention. There were a number of other preachers who helped to roll the old chariot along.

About forty were baptized: not sprinkled but put under water--by the way there is a lake (Lester) near camp.

We had a fine boarding house. The tables were set and all were welcome three times a day. They had three long tables all filled, also a small box called “free will offering” on each table. People were welcome to put something into the box to help set the table, but all were welcome to eat if they had nothing.

After the meeting closed, Mr. and Mrs. Wraight took us to their lovely home in Bloomingdale, nine miles distance, where we spent many pleasant hours. By the way, we did enjoy the shortcake she made. It was fine. He took us to the depot, about two miles from his home, and we got there just in time to catch our train. We stopped at Kalamazoo and were very kindly received at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lowell. A fine dinner and then we took the three o’clock train for home.

After the camp meeting a few meetings were held here at the Saints’ chapel. Mrs. Jane (Williams), who was on her way to Virginia and then to the sunny south, her native land, was here. She with some others came from the campmeeting. There were two other Saint preachers here, one from Covert, Mich., by the name of Chapen, the other a black man by name of Ritcherdon. His home is in Reform, Alabama. He has been a slave, and Mrs. Jane’s mother was also a slave.

By the way, speaking of this woman’s going to Virginia reminds me that my father was raised in that place and born in Kentucky, and at the age of 27, married in Plainwell, Mich., at the home of our mother and came here and settled for life.

They came here when there was no depot and no railroad and only a few shanties on the stage of action. Seven of us children were born here and Decatur is the only place we ever lived. It is near and dear to us. Although we have traveled far and wide. this is the dearest spot to me.

Father was the first stone mason here. He was a cooper, too, and also owned a brick kiln on the Congdon farm, a mile north of the village.

But my husband says, “you are off from your subject, better commence where you left off.” Well, where did we leave off? The colored man thinks of buying here. He don’t like the south. He says the rest of his people would leave if they had the money. At his home in Reform, Alabama, the white men whipped a white man for teaching the colored children and gave him a certain length of time to leave town.

In a town called Hartsell, Alabama, were a company of white Saints and black Saints, but they held meetings at different chapels. The white people of the world would not let them meet together. One night a colored preacher stepped into the pulpit at the white Saints’ meeting and began to preach, and outside white people of that town came there armed with guns and began to fire into the chapel. The Saints all ran and made their escape the best way they could, and all this commotion because the black man wanted to preach to the whites.

Methinks the poor white people of the south won’t have much time to devote to killing the black people when this old world is on fire. They will have their hands full attending to their own business.

By the way, when we were down in the sunny south last winter we were afraid to speak to the colored people: we did not know how soon some white man would shoot us down. We had to be careful and watch.
     --Mr. U. R. and Mary Mc. Rumbaugh


This second story showed up in the files of the Decatur, MI. “Republican” from the year 1932, regarding “THE SAINTS CAMP MEETING held at Grand Junction last summer.

At that time Harry and Thelma Foster were living in South Haven, MI., after coming to America from England to be associated with their native American friend, minister Edward Ronk, then of Detroit.

When Lyle Warner secured the services of Brother Ronk, for the South Haven congregation, Harry and Thelma eventually followed from Detroit. The Ronks’ served only a couple of years (1930-31), which left Harry and Thelma staying on with Lyle and Ruth Warner as Interim pastors for a couple of months following Ronk’s resignation and departure (Life on Broadway/ Reformation Publishers/2002).

The lyrics that follow were composed by Harry Foster who served as the Song Leader for the camp meeting that year, as reported to the Decatur, MI. Republican by Mrs. Mary Bernath at the request of the local editor.

Both of these reports were photocopied from the Decatur newspaper files by Susan Stace and shared with me because of our mutual involvement  over several years at Warner Camp (and camp meetings)--once called The Saints Camp Meeting.  

Harry’s composition was introduced and sung by the congregation on the departing day of camp meeting. According to that reporter, Mrs. Mary Bernath went to the Saints’ camp meeting that was held at Grand Junction last August.

The Church of God, which is the same organization, owns a big farm with woods on it and have held camp meetings there for many years.

Besides Mrs. Bernath many other Decatur people went, so many that she could not give us the list, but will next year. Some went for a day or so and some stayed and camped right through. The meetings lasted ten days.

The campers camped in tents and some occupied the cottages and two dormitories. The church furnished public cook stoves out of doors.

Rev. T. Harry Foster was the song leader and a wonderful man. He composed a song entitled, “Salvation is for All,” and it was sung there the last day. The men named in the song were all preachers who had taken part in the meeting.

Mrs. Bernath got a copy of the song and here it is:

I have a gospel message that I want to sing to you,
It is about salvation, for the Gentile and the Jew,
It is for every nation, yes, for all and not a    few.
Salvation is for all.

Listen, hear the invitation,
Jesus offers you salvation,
Then, you’ll be a new creation,
Salvation is for all.

Salvation for the Chinese, who must walk on little feet,
Salvation for the Danish whose good butter is a treat;
And there’s that man from Italy, Joe Cirone’s hard to beat,
Salvation is for all.

Salvation for the Hebrew man, much laughter does he bring,
We won’t forget the Colored man, who makes his banjo ring,
And when they get to heaven they will both join in and sing,
Salvation is for all.

Salvation for the little man, whom many call the Jap,
And there’s that man from Germany, whose name is Martin Raab,
And there’s that portly Irishman, O. L. Yerty is his tab,
Salvation is for all.

Salvation for the Russian under Communistic rule,
And there’s the Norway children who skate on the ice to school,
Salvation for the Mexican who loves  to drink white mule,
Salvation is for all.

Salvation for the Belgian, though there are but just a few,
And there’s our friend from India, C. L. Bleiler, is here too,
And there’s the Gypsy people who would steal a hen or two.
Salvation is for all.

Salvation for the Scotchman, Earl Martin is his name,
And too, his fellow countryman, A. F. Gray, D. D. he claims,
And they are both from Anderson, so let’s   join in and sing,
Salvation is for all.

Salvation for the Spaniard, who is branded with tatoo,
Salvation for the Yankee, and Wayne Cross, you all know too,
And there’s that peculiar Hollander, Dad Hartman, is true blue,
Salvation is for all.

Now, if my friends, you find you’re not included in this song,
Just put your nationality in the “Whosoever” throng,
Just give yourself to Jesus, then to Him you will belong,
Salvation is for all.

These last two verses were written by one of Mrs. Bernath’s Decatur friends:

This verse is finely written, but there’s this I wish to say,
Salvation’s freely given to choir leaders every day,
And Reverend Harry Foster gets his share along the way,
Salvation is for all.

When Reverend Foster leads us in the morning hymns     divine,
The air resounds with happy strains of music so sublime,
The clouds break from the heavenly sphere and lo, the sun doth shine,
Salvation is for all.

         1    William G. Schell, “We Have a Hope.” (Anderson: Warner Press, Inc., 1989), p. 727.

From Warner's World, 
I am

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