NOT WITHOUT COURAGE
Wendell F. Johnson
The Stone Mason's Apprentice
Chapter II Crusader
Chapter III Life in a Parsonage
Chapter IV The Mary Simpson Story
Chapter V The Family Grows to Ten
Chapter VI The Not-so-Gay Nineties
Chapter VII To California the Hard Way
Chapter VIII Picture of a Man
Chapter IX A Faith that Molded a Life
Chapter X Sayings and Quotations
This story of the life and works of my father, Burnell D. Johnson, grew out of a suggestion from my niece, Barbara Gail Wright. Occasional stories she had heard about her maternal grandfather had made her wish to know more about this man, whose life had spanned a period of dramatic change, and who had profoundly influenced the lives of many people. She thought the fascinating record of his career and his ancestral background should be preserved for the benefit of his descendants.
Having myself retired, I welcomed this assignment, expecting to complete the work in a few weeks. But the more I worked at it, the more gaps I discovered in my own knowledge of the people and the events that were involved in the story. I found that I had to draw upon the records and memories of many relatives, far and near. How I wished that I had asked more questions of my parents while they were still with us!
The story as it ,appears is the result of many months of correspondence, interviews and discussions with other members of the family, plus the reading of numerous letters, records and newspaper stories. Much of the material about my paternal grandfather, Lyman H. Johnson, was obtained from his own published autobiography. But this was far from complete and had to be supplemented from other sources. Fortunately I had access to a brief account of her own parenthood and youth, written late in life by my mother, and a diary of the family's automobile trip to California, written by my sister, Hannah Gillette.
Among the many other relatives to whom I am indebted, I should mention in particular my father's youngest sister, Phoebe Leake, sole survivor of her generation, and Delmer Johnson, son of Uncle Arthur L. Johnson, who loaned me a number of records preserved by his father.
BURNELL AND MARY JOHNSON
THE STONE-MASON'S APPRENTICE
It was just three weeks after the inauguration of President Lincoln and about the same length of time before the outbreak of the Civil War. In the parsonage of the Congregational Church in Rockton, Illinois, on March 25, 1861, a son was born to Mary Searle Johnson and her husband, the Rev. Lyman H. Johnson. They named him Burnell Dwight after his maternal uncle, Dwight Searle.
Lyman Johnson had come a long way, against terrific odds, in the thirty-two years since his own birth in 1829 in upper New York state. His mother, deaf since infancy, could communicate with others only through the sign language. His father, Montraville Johnson, had left home soon after Lyman was born, to join the United States Army under General Zachary Taylor. He rose from the', ranks to a captaincy but was never heard from after serving in the war against the Seminole Indians in the swamps of Florida.
This left to his maternal Grandmother Huggins the chief responsibility for Lyman's care and up-bringing. In his autobiography, written in his declining years, Grandpa Johnson described his grandmother as "a woman of great piety and remarkable Christian intelligence." During his childhood, spent amid great poverty oh her farm, she nurtured him in the Christian faith and dedicated him to the ministry. This must have made a profound impression upon the boy, for as he grew into manhood he never wavered from that goal.
We have no information about the ancestry of Montraville Johnson, and very little about Grandpa's maternal forebears. However some inferences concerning them may be drawn from several facts given in his autobiography. He states, for example, that his' Grandmother Huggins had been "a sister of John Hutchinson, who was the grandfather of the celebrated family of singers of Green Mountain fame". Later he refers to two cousins who were clergymen: Rev. Herman Eddy, a Baptist preacher in Brooklyn; and Rev. Morrison Huggins, a Presbyterian minister in Rockford, Illinois. Here is evidence of character, intelligence and culture in his maternal heritage.
There is further evidence of this in the fact that Grandpa Johnson's deaf mother was attractive enough in her widowhood to have married a teacher of the deaf, a Mr. McGraw. A daughter of theirs, Grandfather's half-sister, married James Merrelll of Beloit. Their children, George, Frank and Libby Merrell were) among my father's cousins with whom visits were exchanged when we were young. I remember that George Merrell was elected sheriff of his county, and later carried on a flourishing trucking business.
At the age of fifteen, following the death of his grandmother, Lyman left the farm and went to live in the home of a neighbor, Chester Clark. Clark was a stone-mason, and he took Lyman as an apprentice to learn that trade. About a year later, in 1845, the Clark family moved to Beloit, Wisconsin, taking him along. There he worked at his trade. I can remember seeing several cobblestone houses which he had helped to build. During the winter months when building was halted, he earned money teaching school.
Determined to equip himself for the ministry, as soon as it was possible for him to do so he enrolled in Beloit' College. This was in the fall of 1849, only three years after that college was founded. Lyman Johnson was a very ambitious, determined young man. When not attending classes he worked at his trade, and at night and on rainy days he improved the time by studying. He has written that even while walking to and from his work he "learned the Greek and Latin conjugations." Minutes of leisure were scarce and precious, since "the hours of labor were from sunrise to sundown, besides chores at home". And of course everyone worked six days per week. Reduction of the work-day to ten hours was a very welcome innovation.
Since he went to school only during the winter months when the weather prevented him from working at his trade, his 24th birthday, January 1, 1853, found him still short of completing his college education. He had finished three years of study but had one more year to go. He sacrificed his right to continue as a regular student by getting married to Mary Evelyn Searle, a young school teacher. According to Grandfather's own account he married at the time "as an excuse for leaving and taking a shorter course of study." He wrote: "My attendance at college cultivated a carnal ambition to excel in worldly wisdom, oratory and composition ... The whole course of study was designed to polish and drill men to be attractive preachers and efficient tools of religious corporations. I very soon saw the course was apt to unfit a man for the work of winning souls for Christ ... I wrote several articles for the press against the educational course as not adapted to train young men for the ministry .. I published a poem, 'The Puritanic Shrine' in which I ridiculed the worship of art and learning by the so-called churches ... It was this view of the educational course that caused me to cut it short. I broke the college laws by getting married and so was excused from completing the full course.
One is led to suspect that the feeling was mutual, and that the college was glad to be rid of this young rebel. Then too, Grandfather's explanation, written many years later, in 1906, may have had a trace of rationalization, For there is no doubt that he vas very much in love with the young school teacher and he was loath', to postpone marriage for another year.
Mary Evelyn Searle, who was to become the mother of Burnell Johnson, was in many ways the antithesis of the man she married. While he was the product of a broken home and had had to fight his way through life, she had come from a genteel New England family and a better-than-average economic level. He vas stern, aggressive, domineering; she had a sweet and gentle disposition, quiet serenity in trouble, humility, warmth and a sense of humor. She was endowed with considerable artistic talent, which was developed during her school years. Several of her pencil etchings are still treasured by her descendants.
The Searle family in America originated with John Searle, who came over from England in 1635, and settled in what is now Southampton, Massachusetts. He had two grandsons, John III, and Nathaniel. John III and his family were killed by Indians, but Nathaniel Searle lived to be 92 and reared a family of twelve. A grandson of Nathaniel named Zopher Searle, became the father of Edmond Searle. Edmond married Fanny Bascom and they became the parents of Mary Evelyn and her brother, Francis Dwight Searle.
Little is known about her childhood except that she was born to Edmund and Fannie Searle in Southampton, Massachusetts, May 15, 1828. But at a time when most people considered schooling for girls an unnecessary expense, she attended Westfield Academy and obtained sufficient education to qualify her to teach school by the time she was eighteen years of age. Deciding that her chances would be better in the middle west, she started out on the long journey to Madison, Wisconsin, where one of her uncles had established a home. She made the trip mainly by water, going from the Hudson River to Buffalo by way of the Erie Canal. From there a lake steamer took her through the Great Lakes to Milwaukee.
While looking for a teaching position she lived with her Madison relatives. When one of the girls in the family introduced her one day as "a fourteenth cousin," she decided she was not very welcome there, so she was very glad to be able to move into a room of her own and support herself, after landing a teaching job.
It was five years later, 1851, that she first met Lyman H. Johnson. By that time her family had joined her in Wisconsin. She had gone to the summer resort town of Lake Geneva to attend a Fourth of July celebration. In those days this was the great patriotic event of the year and much was made of it. The orator for the occasion was the bright young student from Beloit College with a flair for public speaking. Lyman Johnson's masterful delivery, ringing voice and inspirational message evidently won her heart. At the close of the program friends introduced her to him, and it was not long after this that he asked her to be his wife.
Mary Evelyn Searle was intelligent, petite and attractive, and Lyman Johnson was not her only suitor. We are told that the same mail brought two proposals of marriage. She chose the eloquent young orator who was in training for the ministry. Somewhat over-awed by the prospect of having to meet the responsibilities of a clergyman's wife, she decided she must get more education. Returning to Massachusetts for another year of study, she went to live with an uncle in South Hadley, where there was a "Female Seminary. This school later became Mt. Holyoke College. During the year in Which she was enrolled there as a student she received frequent letters from her fiance at Beloit College. Many years later she confided to her daughter Phoebe that two girl cousins with whom she was living were so eager to share these love letters that they offered to do her laundry in return for the privilege of reading them.
In the summer of 1852 she returned to her parents' home in Big Foot Prairie, twenty miles from Beloit. There,' on New Year's day, 1853, she was married to Lyman H. Johnson. With love and admiration for her husband and in complete harmony with his deep religious convictions, she started her married life. Before life ended for her forty-eight years later in Toledo, Ohio, she was to mother eight children, one of whom was to die in infancy. Through those years, filled with much love and happiness, but also with illness, poverty and social isolation, she was a model of gentility, patience and Christian devotion.
Establishing a home in Beloit, Grandfather supported his new bride by building cobblestone houses, but at the same time continued his studies ... perhaps at the college which he had had to leave because of his marriage, but not as a regular student. Their first child, a son born March 5, 1854, was named Alfred Eddy Johnson, after their minister, Rev. Alfred Eddy. Mr. Eddy had become so interested in Lyman's potentiality as a minister that he set about finding a way by which his life-long ambition might be fulfilled.
By the fall of 1854 plans had been worked out. Mary Evelyn and her infant son moved in with her brother, Dwight Searle, in order to release her husband for an absence of two years while he attended Union Theological Seminary in New York. Funds to make this possible, provided by the Presbyterian congregation to which they belonged, were very meagre and only by dint of the most frugal living was Grandfather able to subsist. He shared with a fellow seminarian a small room in a. cheap tenement where they cooked their own meals. A frequent item in their daily menu was buckwheat pancakes, with syrup which they made from maple sugar. The monotony of his diet seems not to have turned him against these foods, for throughout his life maple sugar continued to be a favorite delicacy. His only gesture of affection for his grandchildren was an occasional pat on the head and a gift of a piece of maple sugar candy.
Grandfather's austere mode of living had no unfavorable effect upon his studies at the seminary. He had arrived in New York City two months after the opening of the fall semester and the faculty was reluctant to admit him. He sought the help of a New York cousin, Rev. Herman Eddy, a Baptist minister. The school was finally persuaded to admit him on probation. He passed the entrance examination in Greek and other subjects and was admitted on condition that he would catch up with the rest of the class by the end of the school year. This condition was fulfilled by a wide margin. He studied so diligently that, with the help of his room-mate, he covered the required material in two weeks.
Summer vacation saw him back in Beloit working at his trade. Then in September he resumed his studies in New York. The following June, 1856, he ,graduated from Union and soon after was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. When he returned to Beloit he saw for the first time his second son, Arthur, who had been born in April. Now a full-fledged minister, Lyman H. Johnson accepted a call to be pastor of a church in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. During their three years in that pastorate his family was increased by the birth of another son, Herbert, December 19, 1857.
Grandfather's next charge was the largest church and the most lucrative pastorate he ever had. He moved in August, 1859, to Westminster Presbyterian Church of Rockford, Illinois, at a salary of $1,000 a year, in those days a very substantial sum. This was all the more remarkable in that he was still a young man only thirty years of age. Although his experience was limited he had much to recommend him. He had a good scholastic record, outstanding ability as a preacher and he was a graduate of Union Theological Seminary, the nation's foremost training school for clergymen. Also helpful was the fact that a cousin of his mother, Rev. Morrison Huggins, had founded the congregation and until his recent death had served as its pastor. He had been much beloved and this influenced the group in favor of his young relative.
Despite these favorable circumstances, the Rockford pastorate lasted only a year and a half. Perhaps the trouble that developed was due to the usual difficulty a new minister faces when he follows a beloved pastor who has served the parish for many years. But Grandfather has given a different explanation. The congregation was divided between two cliques, one made up of the "worldly" members who belonged to the socially elite of Rockford; the other, the poorer members whose contributions to the support of the church were less substantial but whose manner of life was more in accord with Christian principles and the somewhat Puritanical teachings then more in vogue than in the present day. Grandfather was never one to spare the rod when he saw a need for chastisement and his sermons condemning many of the practices of his richer parishioners aroused great resentment.
Another thing that helped to turn the congregation against him was Grandfather's uncompromising stand against human slavery. This was the turbulent period just before the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln had been elected president of the United States following a bitter campaign. Illinois had been the center of much of the debate. While Abolitionists were increasing in numbers and influence, the people in the north were far from unanimous about the abolition of slavery. Some had an economic stake in its continuance. Others had friends or relatives among the slave owners of the south. It is not surprising therefore that when the Rev. Lyman H. Johnson preached his annual sermon against the slave trade, some of his most influential members made a vigorous protest.
When Grandfather knew he was right... and there are few instances on record when he admitted he was wrong... no amount of opposition could make him back down. He stood his ground, with the result that he was forced to resign. It is worthy of note that among his backers in this controversy were two wealthy members of the church. For when the church board gave the financial burden as a reason for a change in pastors, these two men offered to pay his salary themselves. This offer was refused and the pastorate was terminated. A group of loyal members left the church with him in protest, and he ministered to them in private homes for a time, while serving in a new and smaller pastorate, a Congregational Church at nearby Rockton.
At the Rockton church as in Rockford, Grandfather soon found himself again in conflict with some of the congregation. There was a fight over the purchase of a church organ because it had been financed with funds raised by a dance. The dance, curiously enough, had been sponsored by a Methodist church. Their clergy', had prohibited use of the money to buy an organ for that church, so they offered to give the instrument to the Congregational Church, where there was no bishop to tell them what they could do. The organ was accepted but it caused a split in the congregation.
The organ controversy was just a symbol of a more fundamental division between what Grandfather called "The Lord's Party" and "The World's Party." Calling for a showdown) vote, the Lord's Party won and the other group was voted out of the church. But the title to the church property was under the control of the ousted members, so it was Grandfather and the Lord's Party who were denied the use of the building. For a year or more he met with his followers in private homes. Then he accepted a call to a Congregational Church in Galena, Illinois, in September, 1863.
These evidences of the influence of money on the policies and practices of churches added to his long-standing conviction that the genuine church off Christ cannot be divided into, warring factions. At Galena he began to stress more and more his belief that many of the groups that called themselves Christian churches were simply "moneyed corporations" not entitled to that name; He preached many sermons against "money-governed Churches" and in favor of the primitive Bible church of which Christ was the only head. He fought many battles with other churches in the community.
The result of these attacks was a formal charge against him before the
Congregational Association in September, 1865, and his expulsion from that
association because of "a denunciatory and schismatic spirit." To
the letter informing him of this action, he replied thanking them for their
action "by which from henceforth and forever I ceased to be a
Congregational or Presbyterian i minister, and became a minister of Jesus
CONGREGATIONAL MINISTER AND WIFE
Lyman H. and Mary Searle Johnson
Galena, Illinois, 1864
As we have seen, Lyman Johnson's career as an orthodox clergyman was meteoric but short-lived. Ordained in 1856, he had risen with unusual speed to an important city pastorate. Then, in one bitter dispute after another, he had made successive shifts to smaller congregations in other cities. Finally, only nine years after his ordination, he had been expelled from his denomination. In those nine years he had held four pastorates, one Presbyterian and three Congregational. In addition, he had twice served as the spiritual leader of informal groups who had remained loyal to him after he had resigned as pastor of their church.
During the remaining fifty years of his life he continued in the Christian ministry,, but outside of the recognized denominations. From 1865 on, his pen and his voice were devoted to a crusade against denominationalism in the Church of Christ. He opposed not only the Roman Catholic Church and the traditional churches of Protestantism, but also all other groups whose interpretations of scripture differed from his, including many who called themselves non-sectarian. From Galena he retired to a farm near Beloit, Wisconsin, and considered how best to carry on his campaign to revive in America the primitive church of the Bible.
Now that he was no longer the head of a ready-made congregation he needed some other medium for reaching) people with his message. He therefore acquired a small press, and with type set by himself and his children lie started a tiny publication which he called "The Primitive Church." After several abortive attempts to join with other men in the publication of an undenominational', paper, he decided in 1868 to launch out on his own with a monthly, paper entitled "The Stumbling Stone." Circulation gradually grew until it eventually was being mailed to some ten thousand subscribers scattered over the United States and Canada.
Not content with spreading his message by the printed word. Lyman Johnson felt that he must also talk to people face to face. He held meetings in private homes and in school houses. For about a year and a half he even conducted services in a Congregational Church in Udina, a small town near Elgin, Illinois. When this arrangement terminated he tried a new plan. If people would not come to him he would go to them.
Placing an ad in a Beloit newspaper, he announced a street meeting for the following Saturday afternoon. At the appointed time he borrowed a dry goods box from a nearby merchant and placed it at the curb. Then, crying out "Street preaching will now commence," he mounted the box and began to speak. It proved to be a humiliating experience for him. He had been accustomed to deliver his sermons from a written manuscript, a method he realized would be inappropriate in this informal setting. Without written notes his speech was halting and disjointed. He finished the talk but suffered agonies of embarrassment and self-criticism over his inept performance.
In a great demonstration of faith and courage, he refused to let this failure deter him. The following Saturday be went again to the street corner downtown, "with no preparation but prayer to God." He writes in his autobiography: "The gospel flowed from my lips like a stream of liquid fire. I never knew before what liberty was in preaching the truth ... It was the victory of my life in street work. I was freed forever from paper sermons."
Wherever he lived from that time on, he continued the practice of street preaching. For many years, in front of the post office in Toledo, Ohio, and later on Boston Common in Massachusetts, he became a familiar figure. There is considerable testimony to the effectiveness of his preaching under these most difficult circumstances.
As the Stumbling Stone found receptive readers in other parts of the country, Lyman Johnson began to get invitations to come and preach concerning "`the true church." These trips brought new contacts, new friends, and some additional financial support.
One of the men who learned, through the', Stumbling Stone, of Lyman Johnson's campaign against denominations, was an Illinois minister by the name of Samuel R. Harshman. Quite independently, he too had reached the conclusion that "the Church 6f Christ is a spiritual body and not a carnal organization," and so had left the Methodist church. In his Memoirs he writes of attending in 1870 a camp-meeting led by Lyman H. Johnson, "who had come out from the Presbyterians and was preaching against sects." Later he and his wife visited the Johnsons.
He writes: "I found them living on a forty-acre farm of their own, and exercising great frugality in order to save money for the publication of the paper." Together, he and Lyman Johnson went to Chicago to attend some meetings conducted by Dwight L. Moody, a famous evangelist of that day. While there they lodged in the home of an Episcopalian minister with whom Grandfather was acquainted.
For a time the two crusaders against organized religion collaborated. In most respects they saw eye to eye. But there were some differences in doctrine and practice, and at times Mr. Harshman felt that Lyman Johnson was permitting fanaticism to creep into his meetings. Notwithstanding these disagreements, Mr. Harshman invited Grandfather, in June 1872, to participate in one of his camp-meetings and assist with the preaching. He was willing "to think and let-think."
There Grandfather precipitated a dispute which led to a permanent break in their relationship. The only account we have of it is that by Harshman.
This particular dispute had to do with the subject of public prayer. "I knew," Harshman writes, "that he did not agree with me on the subject ... and I also had some knowledge of his intolerance of any opinion or practice not agreeing with his own. But I had hoped to get along without an open rupture, and to persuade him that the matter was not vital, but among those indifferent things about which everyone was to be persuaded in his own mind." However, Grandfather decided to make an issue of it, and on Saturday night preached on the subject, denouncing the views held by Mr. Harshman.
Continuing Harshman's report: "He was', an older man than I, and I disliked to attack him publicly, but no alternative was left to me and I did not spare him. I think I succeeded it showing the unscripturalness and absurdity of his statements ... The next morning Mr. Johnson left the camp ground before the service, shaking the dust off his feet as a testimony against us, and left Winchester on the first train."
In 1875, influenced by friends in Lucas County, Ohio, he moved his family and his printing equipment to the 'little rural village of Whitehouse, twenty miles from Toledo, the county seat. By this time his family had increased to nine. Of his seven', children, all were at home except the eldest son, Alfred Eddy Johnson, who had run away from the Illinois farm and had not been heard from since.
Two years later, in 1877, the family moved to Manhattan, a small town on the Maumee River north of Toledo. This move was made possible by some financial help from a well-to-do New Yorker by the name of David F. Newton. Mr. Newton had become so interested in Lyman H. Johnson's teachings that he engaged him and his sons to build a house for him in this North Toledo suburb, and eventually came there to live. With his help Grandfather was able to buy a corner lot on North Erie Street, where they built a two-story structure housing their printing shop as well as living quarters.
In this location they were able to get some', job-printing business, besides publishing their monthly paper. The older sons also got other building jobs. Grandfather devoted himself largely to writing and preaching. He held regular meetings in the neighborhood but he spent much time traveling around the country on evangelistic missions.
Within a few years he had accumulated sufficient funds to buy forty acres of farm land west of Toledo on Sylvania Avenue. After the necessary buildings had been constructed, he sold his Manhattan property and moved to the farm, printing press' and all. Grandfather envisioned a little colony of homes there where he and his sons' families would continue living close together. For several years this plan did work out, for the three older sons, Arthur, Herbert and Burnell established their homes on that farm. But its location proved to be unsatisfactory because of its distance from the', city and the lack of transportation and. the plan was finally abandoned.
In 1884 Lyman Johnson acquired a lot in downtown Toledo at 411 Tenth Street. There he and his sons built a large frame building, with a half-basement where was located a steam driven printing press and other printing equipment, as well as the central heating plant. The main floor, reached by a flight of steps from the sidewalk, housed an auditorium which was named "The Free Chapel" and behind it living quarters for the family. Upstairs were a number of sleeping rooms for the accommodation of visitors who would come from other cities to attend the spring and fall "Assemblies," a protracted series of daily and evening meetings.
Continuing to preach, both on Sunday at the Chapel and on Saturday evenings at a downtown street corner, he soon became a thorn in the side of the Ministerial Association. For he regularly denounced his fellow members in violent diatribes against the sects, and their clergy whom he called "hirelings." The conflict came to a head after Grandfather had printed. and circulated a leaflet attacking four different lecturers who happened to be scheduled to speak in Toledo that week: A Roman Catholic whom Grandfather referred to as "Elliott, the Papal Revivalist"; Mohammed Webb, an advocate of the Moslem faith; Robbert Ingersoll, who had come "to make the Bible appear ludicrous by his profane witticisms and bold falsehoods"; and General Booth, head of the Salvation Army.
Grandfather attended the Ingersoll lecture, held in the Valentine Theatre, the city's largest auditorium. The story' of his dramatic reply to the famous agnostic was told thirty years later by William Roche, a newspaper reporter who was present. It was published in the Toledo News-Bee as one of a series of stories from his long newspaper career. After describing the effective way in which Bob Ingersoll had won over his audience, holding them enthralled for nearly' two hours, he wrote:
"The Rev. Lyman Johnson contributed the dramatic feature of the evening. He will be remembered as a little man, afflicted with spinal curvature, but of a brilliant mind, the courage j of a lion and the devotion of an apostle. He preached in a little church built by himself and his sons. When the congregations did not come, he went to the street corners and attracted throngs by his impassioned eloquence. In this Ingersoll meeting it was more than he could bear that none should testify for the Master after this infidel address. He jumped up on his seat and with eyes blazing and voice thrilling with emotion, he made protest and appeal. I thought then that the audience was glad, and paid tribute in their hearts to the gallant little man who did splendid Christian work in the Toledo of that day. He was an educated clergyman and a battler for the faith as delivered to the apostles."
But in Grandfather's leaflet, it was against General Booth that he directed his principal attack. He not only devoted most of the space to his denunciation of the Salvation Army and its religious program, but it was to the large audiences who came to hear the noted Salvationist that the leaflets were mainly distributed. Grandfather was never one to mince words. Everything to him was black or white, and black was darkest ebony. He wrote of General Booth coming "with his comic army and rollicking, religious jokers"; "the antics of a buffoon"; "white-washing rough, dirty sinners, while he is in full fellowship with those who would crucify Christ"; "Booth is honored and driven about like a prince by the rich hypocrites and corrupt politicians whose money he covets and gets. How absurd to imagine such an impostor to be a minister of Jesus Christ"; "By this alone he is fully proved to be anti-Christ, the very MAN OF SIN designated in the scriptures".
Not content with censuring General Booth':, Grandfather linked with him all the other ministers of the town: "The very sin for which Herod was smitten of God, for accepting homage of the Tyrians, is the sin of Booth, the Christ of the Salvation Army, identical with the sin of the Pope who makes himself Christ; likewise the head of every religious sect assumes the same lordship in some degree, a greater sin than that of any saloon or brothel of the world's wickedness."
This was too much for his fellow members of the Preachers' Union. A committee appointed to look into the, matter brought in a recommendation that his name be dropped from the membership list of the organization. Strange as it may seem, Grandfather chose to resist expulsion from the Preachers' Union, even though he considered all of them except himself to be hypocrites. He claimed there was nothing personal in his attacks on General Booth and the other religious leaders of the community and he asked for time in which to propound his views.
Grandfather's speech before the Preachers' Union in January, 1895, was in many respects a masterpiece of logic and persuasion. Part One dealt with his right to be a member of the organization and it was a very convincing argument. Part Two plead not guilty to the charge of unChristian attacks on the character of Toledo's clergy. He undertook to show that the invectives he had' hurled were rightly motivated and were in fact expressions of true !charity and love. He referred to the excellent qualities of General Booth as a man, and he pointed out that he had not been guilty of attacking the private life or character of any minister of the gospel. He compared himself to Paul, who asked "Am I your enemy because I tell you the truth?"
Then he proceeded to go into more detail about the Salvation Army and backed up his charge that churches Were controlled by the money power by telling of his own experiences, as a denominational minister. He concluded by outlining the Biblical case against manmade divisions in the Church of Christ.
It was his greatest opportunity to get his message against sectarianism before the general public and he made the most of it. The controversy had attracted the attention of the newspapers and the several meetings for discussion of the matter were '',covered by reporters. This proved very embarrassing for the Preachers Union, but it was welcomed by Grandfather for it resulted in his message being carried to the whole community. The publicity affected the final action taken by the Preachers' Union for they feared': the effect on public opinion of any punitive measures taken against their critic. In the end they voted against ousting him from membership but adopted a mild resolution in which they "disapproved of his conduct and denied his charges against the pulpit."
This fight with the Preachers' Union was the climax in a long list of disputes with other Christian leaders in which he had been involved throughout his life. And it was his greatest triumph. At any rate it was this particular incident which he chose to relate in greatest detail in his autobiography. But it was only ore among many such fights. His life was an almost unbroken series of controversies.
His last great conflict came in the final years of his life. This time he was on the defensive, lashing out against criticisms from his own followers. Unlike the others, doctrine did not ,enter into it. It was mainly concerned with the use he had made of a $10,000 bequest he had received from his great friend and supporter, David F. Newton. While there was no question as to Grandfathers'' legal right to use the money as he saw fit, his sons felt that he had a moral obligation to use it in the publication of two religious books Newton had written. Instead of doing this, Grandfather decided to use the fund in the extension of his own ministry.
There was at least one other point of dispute. The Census Bureau was making a census of religious bodies in the United States. Recognizing Lyman H. Johnson as the leader of a movement not connected with other denominations, they asked him for a report on it, including the number of its adherents. Grandfather was obviously pleased by this official recognition of his life work, and he submitted the requested information, giving as the desired statistics the number of persons who had subscribed to the Stumbling Stone. Since none of the groups that made up his following had any membership lists, this was, no doubt, the most practicable way of supplying the data the government had requested. But Burnell and some others in the Toledo congregation objected to this action, feeling that it appeared to classify the readers of the Stumbling Stone as though they were members of a denomination. They felt that Grandfather was no longer using good judgment and they urged him to accept their counsel in this matter and others, including the content of the Stumbling Stone itself.
Grandfather deeply resented the implication that he was incompetent to manage his own affairs and make his own decisions. He expressed this resentment from the pulpit and in', the columns of the Stumbling Stone. Three supplements to the Stumbling Stone were devoted to discussion of the "charges" that had been made against him and his replies. In one of these he even went so fat as to charge Burnell with attempting to form a new sect.
By this time, Grandfather had been forced to sell his Chapel for a railroad right-of-way, and had decided to move his headquarters to Boston. Burnell had emerged as leader of the Toledo congregation, which first rented an abandoned church building and later built a chapel of their own.
Immediately after his father moved to Boston, Burnell, in September, 1903, started publishing a paper of his own, the Search-Light. Grandfather regarded this paper as a rival of his Stumbling Stone.
Fortunately for her own peace of mind, Grandmother Johnson did not live to see this rift between her husband and her sons. Her death in 1901 had left Grandfather alone at the age of 72. After his removal to Massachusetts he continued from there the publication of The Stumbling Stone and his evangelistic travels. When at home he preached at his own headquarters and weekly to impromptu audiences on Boston Common.
But his following had declined and with it the flow of money for his support. By 1906 he had outstanding obligations of several thousand dollars. A staunch friend and supporter, O D. Hill of Charleston, West Virginia, undertook to liquidate the debt by publishing in book form a series of sermons Grandfather had given there. The book included an autobiography, written at Mr. Hill's request. The ravages of age and illness finally broke down his indomitable spirit. In 1916 when he had become seriously ill, his son Burnell went to Boston and brought him back to Toledo. There he lived in the homes of his sons until his death, April 13, 1917, at the age of eighty-eight.
In his parents, Burnell Johnson, the central character in my narrative,
had an exceptional heritage. Both had had an unusually good education for
that time; both were blessed with superior intelligence, sterling integrity
and a deep Christian faith. From his father he inherited a thirst for
knowledge, courage in standing up for his convictions, and a considerable
capacity for leadership. From his mother, a gentle, kindly spirit, a warm
personality and a sense of humor.
THE LYMAN H. JOHNSON FAMILY, 1896
Standing, left to right: Eddy, Arthur, Herbert, Burnell, Ernest.
Seated: Addie (Mrs. Martin Richie), Lyman and Mary Johnson, Phoebe (Mrs. Albert Leake).
Until Lyman H. Johnson's final break with organized religion in 1865, his children had lived the normal life of a clergyman's family except that they had moved a little oftener than most from one pastorate to another. But from that time on, with no regular source of income, they faced a pretty precarious existence.
Burnell was then four years old. Besides his three older brothers, Eddy, Arthur and Herbert, he had a younger sister Addie, a year-old infant. Later he was to acquire another brother, Ernest, and a sister Phoebe. For the next eight years they lived on ',a farm near Beloit except for a year at Udina, Illinois, where Grandfather served as pastor of a Congregational Church, his prior expulsion from the ministry notwithstanding. When they first moved to the farm they lived in a dilapidated log cabin until Grandfather could build a better house.
It was from this farm home, in the winter of 1869-70 that Alfred Eddy, the eldest son, ran away. Grandfather rifled his children with an iron hand. He is quoted as saying that he would whip his children for disobedience even if they were forty years old. Eddy, as he was usually called, ha.d a stubborn will like his father and resisted his stern discipline. His resentment built up to a climax one wintry night when he was whipped and sent upstairs with a supper of bread and water. His clothes had been taken from him, but this did not alter his determination to run away. Slipping out of the second-story window of his room, wearing only his underwear, he dropped', to the ground and ran barefoot through the snow to the home of a neighbor. They must have provided him with clothing and railroad fare, for he went to Chicago, where he landed an apprenticeship to the machinist's trade. Having exceptional aptitude in mechanics he eventually became a mine superintendent. After marrying a Miss Addie Woodward, he made his way to the mining states farther west.
For twenty years or more Eddy was out of ',touch with his father's family. Finally, when he had become master mechanic of a Colorado gold mine and was sent east by his company on business, he inquired in his former Illinois home, learned the present address of his people and called on them in Toledo. First locating his married brothers, he went with them to the Tenth Street house where his parents were living. They reported later that when he walked into the room his mother recognized him at once, and with a joyful cry, "0h, Eddy!" welcomed him to her arms.
The other children were more tractable and were less severely dealt with. They grew up with respect and affection for their father. More important, from Grandfather's point of view, they accepted his religious teaching without question. Eddy was the only one who was not converted at an early age. They were so thoroughly indoctrinated with his views on the evil of sectarianism that they all continued throughout their lives to worship God outside of any formally organized church.
Except for the older boys, who attended school for a short time, the only formal education the children received was that given by their mother. After his defection from church organizations Grandfather was more than ever convinced that "the world" was the implacable enemy of Christianity, and he strove in every way possible to keep his family free from its contamination. Keeping his children away from public school was one of his methods of doing this. Since school attendance was not yet compulsory he could do this without government interference.
Fortunately Grandmother Johnson was equipped to assume responsibility for the teaching of her children, and they all acquired the rudiments of an elementary education. Burnell was a particularly apt pupil. He had a quick mind and an insatiable' thirst for knowledge. He read everything he could get his hands on, but the books available to him during his growing years were limited to those in his father's library. This was fairly extensive, including besides the Bible, such books as Pilgrim's Progress, Fox's Book of Martyrs, the History of the Reformation, other works of history, biography and English literature. By the time he had children of his own he had become very well informed in those areas.
If their father was inclined to sternness and ',severity, their mother made up for it with warmth, love and gentleness. Although they were brought up in a Puritanical atmosphere, with all worldly pleasures frowned upon, the children seem not to have suffered from this, and all grew up to be normal, well-adjusted adults. They survived both the dire poverty and the social isolation which characterized their childhood and adolescence.
So poor were they when the family moved to Lucas County, Ohio, from Illinois in 1875, that they were unable to 'travel by train. After shipping their goods, they made the trip by horse and wagon, the older ones taking turns walking alongside. Finally, when Grandma Johnson complained of feeling ill and exhausted, she was put aboard a train for the rest of the journey, with the younger children who could travel free.
Burnell was fourteen years old when they' took up residence in Ohio. He and his two older brothers helped with the printing of The Stumbling Stone and other small printing jobs. This supplemented the meager income Grandfather received from (subscribers and other contributors. A hint as to the crusading spirit of the boys is found in a handbill they printed while living in Whitehorse. It was stimulated by the publication in a local paper of an announcement by the saloonkeepers of the village. Desiring to correct certain abuses that had brought down upon them the criticism of the community, they had agreed upon some rules under which they would refuse to sell liquor to minors and intoxicated persons. Far, however from winning approval of the Lyman Johnson family by this socially desirable action, the town's liquor dealers found themselves blasted by a new attack. Handbills distributed throughout the village contained the following message, composed by Burnell:
"A 'VIRTUOUS' GROG SHOP
"1st. No liquor will be sold to minors or insane persons, who have parents or guardians to care for them or who are incapable of moral wrong.
"2nd. Nothing will be sold to confirmed drunkards, who are already ruined past hope.
"3rd. Our business is to make drunkards of all', who are ordinarily sober men and are not already spoiled by the damnable traffic; and to ruin all the young men, who by soundness of mind are capable of sinning, and have no guardians to protect them from ruin.
"4th. To make the shortest road to hell as respectable as possible under the circumstances, with as few riots, desolated homes, divorces and murders as the character of the traffic admits of. "In fine, none but good moral citizens art admitted here and such, only till their ruin is complete, when they are kicked into the street to shift for themselves. Our work is then finished."
When, in 1877, the family moved to North Toledo, they had begun to engage in the building business. After successfully completing a house for D. F. Newton they were engaged to build a smaller house in the same neighborhood. The sons gradually picked up, without any apprenticeship procedure, the various trades used in house building. This was an era when bathrooms, plumbing and central heating were luxuries which only the well-to-do could afford. Electric lighting had yet to be invented. Hence the only trades they had to learn were carpentry, plastering, brick-laying, and painting. At all of these trades they became proficient, but each of the three sons had a specialty in which they acquired particular skill: Uncle Arthur's was masonry; Uncle Herbert's, painting; with Burnell, our father, it was carpentry. Soon the three formed a business partnership under the name "Johnson Bros., Contractors," which was to provide a modest living for them and their families throughout the coming years.
Development of their own contracting business was a gradual process. In the meantime they were definitely under the domination of their strong-willed father, and his wishes always took precedence over their own. Any outside work they did had to be sandwiched in between issues of The Stumbling Stone, in the printing of which they still participated. And of course this work was never paid for in wages. Grandfather handled the pocket-book for the family and supplied their needs as best he could.
All of the children learned to set and "distribute" type, and the boys operated the press. The whole family pitched in for the job of putting the papers in wrappers and pasting the labels on which were printed the names and addresses of the subscribers. Just how extensive was the circulation of The Stumbling Stone can be gleaned from scattered references in the few records still extant. For example, in a letter written in January, 1884, Aunt Addie wrote: "I finished the accounts for the year 1883. Received 1,318 names, an increase of 864 over the year before. Money, $337.37, a decrease of $201.32 from the year before." In order to qualify for second-class postal rates, Grandfather had to have bona fide paid subscribers. Therefore he established a price of 25 cents per year. Obviously his purpose in publishing the paper was not mercenary. Rather, it was to win souls for Christ outside of denominations and get people to leave those "whited sepulchres," his name for all organized churches.
Their home in North Toledo was only a block or two from the Maumee River, not far from where it widens into Maumee Bay and Lake Erie. They built a rowboat, and later bought a 40-foot sailboat. Sailing became their chief form of recreation and the Johnson boys never lost their fondness for the water. I remember Father telling about sailing to many points along Lake Erie, once going almost to Detroit sixty miles away.
The most exciting incident occurred one spring when the river was swollen from the rains and melting ice, and had overflowed its banks in downtown Toledo several miles upstream from their home. Sighting a bale of cotton floating down the river Burnell and Herbert rowed out in the swiftly moving current, pulled'', it aboard and started toward shore. The boat over-turned dumping them into the turbulent, ice-filled water. Herbert began to shout, "Help! Help!" Burnell, shy
and embarrassed over their awkward though dangerous predicament, whispered "Hush!" He hated being so conspicuous. But if a boatman had not come to their rescue they might not have made it to shore. Whether they salvaged that bale of cotton I never heard, but I strongly suspect they did. They had a lot of grit and determination and would not have surrendered easily to defeat.
Any recreation they enjoyed had to be something that cost little or nothing, for cash was far from plentiful. They may have had sufficient food, but it had to be of the cheapest variety. Cornmeal was a staple often used in their diet. The supply of white flour performed a dual function: to provide the makings for bread', and to make the paste with which to seal the wrappers for mailing the Stumbling Stone to the growing number of subscribers.
Perhaps it was lack of proper nourishment: that caused both Burnell and his younger brother Ernest to grow up as thin, slightly-built boys, susceptible to frequent illness. Much of the area near the mouth of the Maumee River was swampland. Malaria, ague and "swamp fever" were prevalent. Burnell developed a nervous condition which led to occasional fainting spells. These black-outs continued to some extent into adult life and for some years after! his marriage. Finally they stopped and he not only had improved health but was remarkably free from illness until the last few months off his long life. It may well be that it was the better cooking and the well-balanced meals he began getting after he had acquired a home of his own that brought about this improvement.
While testifying at religious meetings was a regular practice by most of the members of Grandfather's congregation and by all the members of his family, it was Burnell who seems to have been pointed toward preaching at a very early age. He often accompanied Grandfather on his evangelistic tours. At the tender age of nine he had begun to sing at street meetings and other gatherings, and by his sixteenth year he was speaking regularly at these meetings. One such occasion was especially memorable because of the way it was destined to effect his future life.
He and his brother Herbert had gone with their father to a tent meeting
in eastern Michigan, some 70 miles north of Toledo. Their singing and
speaking attracted the attention of Allen Simpson, a blacksmith who had
travelled by train from his home in Lapeer to attend the services. Returning
home he told his daughters about the Johnson boys, especially Burnell. In
response to an invitation from the Simpson family, the two boys went to
Lapeer for a visit. There Burnell got acquainted with Mary, the oldest
daughter, who in a few years was to become his wife.
THE MARY SIMPSON STORY
Following, in her own words, is Mother's story of her family background and the period of her growing up. Dated October 9, 1944, her 81st birthday, this autobiographical sketch, written in clear, legible long-hand, begins:
"My mother's father, Robert James Husband, was born in Dublin, Ireland, and her mother, Susan Achen, was married to him in Ontario, Canada. They settled in Halton County on a farm about twenty miles from Hamilton. There they reared ten children, four boys and six girls: Eliza Jane, Maria, Margaret, Nancy, William, George, Hannah, Hugh, Susannah and Robert James.
"My mother, Hannah Husband, was born In a log house on that farm and was a young girl when the brick house was built. She remembered when they bought their first stove. Before this they cooked in the fireplace and did their baking in a brick oven outside. She often said bread baked there was better than when baked in a stove. First, the oven was filled with wood and when this was burned up the ashes were swept out. When you could hold your hand in the oven while you counted twenty the oven was the right temperature. Then the whole batch, eight or ten loaves was put in the oven, the iron door was shut tight for one hour, then the bread was well baked.
"Uncle George Husband was three years older than my mother. He was a doctor in Hamilton for forty years and his son George is now a doctor in that city. Uncle Robert was a dentist there for many years. He left two daughters, who with Dr. George Husband and Dr. Hugh Porter, also of Hamilton, are my only living relatives on my mother's side.
"My mother was married to Allen Simpson December 25, 1861, at the farm home in Halton County. According to custom she received her choice of six sheep or two cows, besides a feather bed, pillows, bedding and a set of dishes. They went to live in Newton's Corners near Milton, Ontario, where he had a blacksmith shop. He had served eight years' apprenticeship and was a first-class mechanic. To them were born: Mary Elizabeth, October 9, 1863; Susannah, July 30, 1865; Eliza Jane (who disliked this name and called herself Jennie) February, 1870; and Robert James, July 21, 1873.
"My father, Allen Simpson, was born in Ireland in 1834, the oldest son of John Simpson. He had a brother John and three sisters: Mary Anne, Jane and Elizabeth. When he was nine years old his father left Ireland with his family and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to Canada, where they settled in Nassagaway, Ontario. The ship took five weeks in crossing. When he was sixteen years of gage his mother died. When his father re-married, Allen and Mary Anne left home and were on their own. Aunt Elizabeth made her home with us when I was small, and until after Susie was born. She married Thomas Coverdale, who had gone to Tuscola County, Michigan, and established himself on a farm.
"During Civil War days times were dull in Canada, affecting even my father's small blacksmith business. So when his brother-inlaw, Thomas Coverdale, suggested that he too locate in the states, my father went, in 1865, to Lapeer, Michigan, and entered into partnership with another blacksmith, William Loft. When he had a house ready for us there, our family went by train to Windsor, where the train was ferried across the Detroit River, and on to Pontiac. There we had to take a "stage," drawn by a team of horses, for the 30-mile journey to Lapeer. My sister Susie was then only ten weeks old.
"The Sunday after our arrival in Lapeer, my mother noticed men hammering and sawing not far away, building al Seventh-day Adventist meeting house. She was shocked and thought she had come to a heathen land, for in Canada they had very strict! laws for observance of the Sabbath. Fishing on Sunday was forbidden, or any unnecessary work, indoors or out; stores were closed, and no street cars or local trains ran.
"The first house I remember living in was the Colegrove home. The Colegroves lived in the "upright" and we ',,in the wing of their Lapeer house. It was there that Mother became very sick with malaria, chills and fever. She took Susie and me and went back to her parents' home in Ontario. While she was slowly recovering her health, her father became ill, so we stayed on there until after his death and burial.
"We had been away nearly six months before returning to our home in Lapeer. Father wrote Mother to wait Ion the train when it reached Detroit and he would meet her and hel her change cars. He was young then and thought it would be fun to dye his sandy hair and beard black. Thus disguised, and wearing a new outfit, he boarded the train and walked past us down the aisle, to see if '~ mother would recognize him. Years later, Mother told us how anxious she got when the car was nearly deserted and Father, as she thought, was not there to meet her.
"While we were away, Father had boarded in the home of friends. In his loneliness he had taken up smoking, although I never saw a pipe in his mouth. He had been saved when he was sixteen, at a revival meeting in Canada conducted by a group calling themselves 'New Connection Methodists'.
"In the fall of 1869 Father bought four lots on Genesee Street in Lapeer, not far from his work. Here he built a cottage and planted fruit trees, plums, peaches and apples. We wore still living in this house when I was married, but in the meantime he had raised the roof and made bedrooms upstairs. The McDonald Machine Shop, where Father worked in the blacksmith shop, burned down a few years later and was moved to the east end of town. (This blacksmith shop was eventually purchased by Henry Ford and moved 'to Greenfield Village near Detroit, where it is preserved along with, other mementos of former times). The high school was only a short distance from our home. We could leave the house when the bell began to toll at five minutes to nine and be in our seats on time.
"We had plenty of good water from a well', in our yard. A cistern under the house, supplied with soft rain water, was connected with our kitchen sink by a pump. This was the extent of our modern conveniences. My father worked ten hours a day in summer and eight in winter. He was paid twenty cents an hour, reared four children and paid for his home.
"When we were still living in the Colegrove house, Mother was brought under deep conviction, through some tracts which had been left at the house. Feeling her need of salvation she went in prayer alone, confessed her need of a Saviour and was gloriously saved. Her change of heart had a strong influence on my father and it was not long before he too knew that his sins were forgiven. Now they began to feel the need of instruction and were wise enough to go to the Bible instead of to any man. Through the zeal of the ;,old man who had distributed the tracts a little group was brought to ether for meetings in private homes. I can still remember our sitting, room well filled with men and women.
"When the number was sufficient to organize, the old man began to urge them to form a "Protestant Methodist Church," an organization not yet established in Lapeer. By this time my father was satisfied that the only church Christ was building was a company of Christians in each locality, as he had learned from reading Paul's epistles. This was a glorious truth to him and he tried to stem th6 tide of this departure from the Bible, but the majority prevailed and, he was outside.
"Occasionally he would attend their meetings, but his testimony was not wanted and they would try to sing him down. This was not always successful for when they finished their hymn he would still be standing and would finish what he had to say. Once they lost all patience with him and a couple of members took him to the jail. Since they had no warrant the jailer would not take him in. He came home so late Mother was beginning to worry about him. After this affair, the "Clarion" printed a story about it and said, "Al is a far better blacksmith than preacher and we advise him to stick to his trade."
"Father continued to study his Bible at every spare moment and learned new truths about the Church being divinely built, and that the Holy Spirit was the baptism that added each repentant soul to this Church. He had a good memory and was able to quote God's word to support his position as he zealously testified to the Word. He gave up smoking, deciding this was a bad habit unworthy of a Christian. He told every one who would listen what he had learned about Christ's Church, men's organizations and water baptism in contrast to Christ's spiritual baptism. After a few years a man came to his shop to see if he could weld a drill point, used to bore wells. This man had always had to send it to Detroit, sixty miles away, when the point got broken. Father said he would try and was successful. As he worked he improved his time talking, and when he had finished, this man remarked: "Someone gave a little paper to my children in Sunday School that sounded like your talk. I still have it'. The next time he came in with work he brought the paper. It was "The Stumbling Stone," published by Lyman H. Johnson in Toledo, Ohio.
"Father was delighted with the paper. He read it all through and could say `Amen' to it all. What a joy was his, for he had gotten very hungry for fellowship. He wrote at once, enclosing five dollars and asked for back numbers. I was later told this letter caused great rejoicing when it reached the Johnsons. We received our first copy of the paper in 1876.
"I well remember one article in it by Brother King, a dentist in Brooklyn, on the dedication of the Broadway M. E. Church. He, his wife and her parents were all standing free from denominations and were friends of Lyman H. Johnson. At this dedication all the big preachers in town were present and they had their usual hilarity to get the crowd in a good frame of mind for contributing freely. At last an old minister spoke and during his talk asked the question: `Why has Methodism lost its power?' Much to his surprise his question brought an answer from the balcony. It was Brother King who rose to his feet and said, `Some people wonder why Methodism has lost its power, but it is no mystery to me. It's because they have turned their churches into theaters and their ministers into clowns'.
"Directly there was great commotion. Some cried `Put him out,' others shouted 'That's true'. Soon a policeman came and took him to jail. His friends wanted to bail him. out but he refused. When it came to trial he intended to plead his own case but a lawyer requested the privilege of defending him without charge. He read part of the 23rd chapter of Mathew and the judge dismissed the case. The Christians present sang `Praise God from whom all blessings flow'. The judge asked them not to turn the court into a prayer meeting.
"Many years later this same dentist, Dr. King, won considerable acclaim among his fellow dentists for successfully making a set of dentures by mail order for Lyman H. Johnson. Mother Johnson had suffered from salivation and her teeth became so loose her husband pulled them out with a string. At that time they felt they could not afford to pay for a new set of teeth, so Lyman H. Johnson wrote his friend in Brooklyn for help. Dr. King loaned him tools and materials to take the necessary impressions for an upper and lower set of teeth for Mother Johnson. This he did and mailed them back to Brooklyn. Dr. King made the teeth, sent them to Toledo by mail and they fit perfectly. Mother never met him but she always said it was providential. They were the only set she ever had.
"The next June after getting in touch with the Johnsons, my father learned that a barn meeting was to be held in Rogersville, thirty miles from Lapeer, and decided to attend. To get there he took a Saturday evening train to Flint, where he changed cars for Rogersville. I remember mother and we children went upstairs and looked out a window from which we could see his train go by, a quarter-mile south of us. He stayed until Sunday evening and returned in the night. He gave a glowing account of the meetings, and how Burnell, 16-year-old son of Lyman H. Johnson, met him at the station and took him to the meeting, with a horse and buggy. Father invited them to come to Lapeer the next week-end and he got the privilege for him to speak Sunday morning in the Methodist church house. The pastor was away at conference. His message was well received.
"Three years later Herbert and Burnell came again to Lapeer by horse and buggy. I remember they drove in just after nine A.M., cold and hungry. They had stayed out all night as they could not find a place to stay. The first thing my mother did was to get their feet in hot water, and when warm she gave them a good breakfast. At this time Brother VanTyne was running a saw mill a few miles from us, and he got the use of a nearby schoolhouse and invited them out. Here they held meetings for a week or more. After returning to Toledo Burnell wrote me occasionally.
"Lyman H. Johnson and family came again with a big tent, which he
put up not far from Van Tyne's. The meeting was advertised in `The Stumbling
Stone' and one couple drove to our place from New Boston to attend the
meetings. After supper Father went with them to the tent, and Saturday,
after work, he took all of us, and a lot of food, and we stayed until Sunday
evening. I remember Hetty King, Addie, Phoebe and Ernest Johnson were there
too, and Mother Johnson. This was the first time we had met them. The people
turned out well and the meetings were of great interest to us. I remember
Burnell would go out in the woods with the rest of us young people, and he
would play the mouth organ, and soon chipmunks would gather around to hear
"The next year all the Johnson family took their tent to Rogerville and put it up on the farm of Susan Rogers. I was there and I remember on Sunday morning two men went to the front of the tent and sang `Where Are the Reapers'? It was the first time I ever heard that beautiful hymn and it was sung with such spiritual fervor that it made a deep impression on all present.
"From this time on, Hetty, Addie and Burnell became regular correspondents, and the year after this Susie and I were permitted to visit the Johnsons in Toledo. My father went to Flint with us and put us on the train for Toledo. Burnell met us at the station and took us to their home in North Toledo. Hetty and Addie had joined him in keeping our visit a secret, so we were a surprise to the rest of the family ... which was a surprise to us, too. Mother Johnson remarked that she had wondered at the unusual interest Burnell had shown in cleaning up the yard.
"While we were in Toledo, Burnell asked me to be his wife. This was
in May, 1882, and we were married January 1, 1883 at my home in Lapeer.
Addie came with Burnell and she and Susie witnessed our marriage. After a
short trip to see Uncle Thomas and Aunt Lizzie in Tuscola County, Michigan,
we left Lapeer to begin life together in Toledo."
Love's Progress During the Months of Courtship
With Mary Simpson living in Lapeer, Michigan, and Burnell Johnson living in Toledo, their courtship had to be carried on largely by correspondence. Oddly enough, it is only Mother's letters to Father that were preserved through the years. Thus we can know only by inference the kind of letters Father wrote to her.
In July 1881, a year and a half before their marriage, Mother's letter was addressed: "Burnell D. Johnson. Dear Brother in Christ," and was signed, "Your Sister in Christ."
Two months later, in September, she still wrote: "Dear Brother," but signed herself: "From yours affectionately, in Christ." Both of these letters were devoted to accounts of meetings and inquiries about the spiritual welfare of mutual friends.
By May, 1882, she was addressing her letter, "Beloved Burnell," and signing it "Yours faithfully." Some time in the fall of that year there seems to have been an understanding between them that they would be married toward the end of December. Father was then twenty-one years of age and still living in his parents' home in North Toledo. He had no regular income and no immediate prospects for a home of his own, but the family had plans for building on the farm west of Toledo a house that could be occupied jointly by Burnell and
his brother Herbert, who was to be married about the first of the year. Father had written his fiancee of an offer from an older brother, Arthur, to share with them temporarily the old house on the farm where Arthur and his wife now lived.
Replying to that letter November 2, 1882, Mother wrote: "My dear, faithful Burnell. I wrote part of a letter to you this afternoon, but felt so downcast and discouraged could hardly write. So I quit and went to the Lord for grace and help ... I don't know when I ever felt so utterly my need of help as during the last few days . . . You wish to hear my side of the case. Of course, Burnell, I should have preferred to be by ourselves, but I think it is all for the best, the arrangements you have made, and so am satisfied the way it is. It was very kind of Arthur and Clara to invite us to stay with them for a while."
The last letter that has been preserved is dated November 30th. Father must have been very vague about his plans for the wedding. It may very well have been due to uncertainty about funds with which to finance the trip and start a household of his own. Mother wrote: "To my dearly beloved. Once more Thursday evening finds me well in body and at the bookcase writing to you, with your last letter before me ... This week has been very cold, especially today. We have had no sleighing here yet, although there is some snow on the ground . . . Your poetry received. Very pleased with it. About a month hence perhaps, and what? Must I guess? Indeed I hope it may be so you can come up by that time ... Wish you could be here by Christmas. With fervent love. Farewell for the present. Mary"
WHEN THERE WERE ONLY EIGHT, 1894
THE FAMILY GROWS TO TEN
The Burnell Johnson-Mary Simpson marriage can hardly be said to have
started off under auspicious circumstances. They had no home of their own
and must live temporarily in Grandpa Johnson's home in North Toledo. A month
after their brief wedding trip, Father became ill with smallpox and had to
be isolated at the "Pest House" as the county contagious disease
`hospital' was then called. The poignant story of that dismal experience has
been told by Mother. Here it is in her own words:
"It was February, 1883, when Burnell got sick and the health officer said he must be taken to the Pest House. He begged to be isolated in the new house that was almost completed on Grandpa Johnson's farm. This they would not permit. We kept him in bed upstairs and I cared for him several days while they made the Pest House ready. No one had been in it for a year or more. It had to be supplied with food and heated and two nurses from St. Vincent's Hospital installed in it.
"When ready they came after dark so as not to alarm the neighborhood. The ambulance was called "The Black Mariah" - an old horse-drawn delivery wagon with black oil cloth curtains, a seat in front for the driver, a police officer and an end gate. They brought a stretcher and blankets, wrapped him up with a hat and a veil over his head and face, carried him down stairs on the stretcher and shoved him in the back of the vehicle. I had asked the doctor if I could go along and I was packed and ready. There was a cold, drizzly rain and as we left the house a great loneliness came over me. I thought of my folks at home and the likelihood of my having the disease too, and the awfulness of it all, and that we might both die in that awful place. I just couldn't hold up any longer, the future looked so dark, and I began to weep softly to myself. But Burnell heard me and at once he started to sing:
'Upward I lift my eyes; from God is all my aid,
The God who built the skies and earth and nature made.
He is the tower to which I fly
His help is nigh in every hour
My feet shall never slide, or fall in fatal snare
While He, my God and Guide defends me from my fear.
I'll go and come, nor fear to die 'til from on high he calls me home
No burning heat by day or blast of evening air
Shall take my health away if He be there.
I'll come and go, nor fear to die
'Til from on high He calls me home.'
"At this I began to look up too and joined in the song. It cheered my
heart and greatly strengthened my faith. We continued to sing hymns all the
way. We now felt we were just as safe there as anywhere as we were in God's
hands and He would take care of us. The nurses wanted to give Burnell a
whiskey sling but he refused. He was not twenty-two years of age. He had
been vaccinated and I also, but the doctor vaccinated me again. After two
days I dismissed the nurses as Burnell was getting along all right. This
`hospital' looked like an oldfashioned meeting house, with high ceiling,
long windows and green shutters. It sat in the middle of a field. It was
heated by large wood burning stoves. Every afternoon Grandpa Johnson would
drive out with cutter and a white horse, coming near enough so I could tell
him how Burnell was. He would leave letters and anything we needed. We
looked forward to those visits."
Later that year they moved into the house on the farm, sharing it with Uncle Herbert and Aunt Ida, who had been married about the same time. There, on June 29, 1884, their first child was born. They named him Clarence Allen.
During her second pregnancy Mother went back to her parents' home in
Lapeer, Michigan, to remain until the birth of the child. Her letters to
Father during that period are revealing:
Aug. 6, 1885. Pa brought home your last letter yesterday evening. Very glad to hear. I was feeling lonesome ... Darling, I was sorry to hear you were not feeling well. You mustn't expose yourself. Clarence has been real sick this week. Tuesday morning he looked real pale so I wrote out the symptoms and after dinner I sent Janie with it to the doctor. He said the baby must be looked after and sent some medicine which has helped him ... Janie and I did a very large washing Tuesday. We got through at eleven and ironed all afternoon. Last evening I sat up until half after eleven and made a little dress. Didn't start it until the rest had gone to bed ... Pa got a bushel of whortleberries yesterday for $2.50. Ma and I canned them all in the forenoon, had ten 2-quart jars full. I must hurry, Pa is almost through breakfast. Darling, hope you get this Sunday, if not Saturday night.
Affectionately, your wife.
The baby born in Lapeer, October 22, 1885, was named Susan Adelaide. Two more girls were born at the home on the farm: Ruth Lillian, January 23, 1887 and Pearl Hetty, November 16, 1888.
Life must have been very strenuous for the Johnsons during those early years. There were now three families living on the farm, those of Arthur, Herbert and Burnell. Their father had moved to the Chapel downtown. They led a sort of communal existence, sharing the work and produce of the farm. Their building business was growing and they continued to help in the printing of The Stumbling Stone.
These far-ranging activities were made more difficult by the primitive transportation facilities. They had a horse, a wagon and a buggy but the farm was located two or three miles beyond the city limits. When they drove downtown for shopping or to attend meetings at the Chapel, which they did each Sunday, the six-mile drive consumed an hour each way. A horse-drawn street-car ran back and forth on Monroe Street from the Maumee River to Auburndale, but this was not too helpful when they lived far beyond the end of the line. Often, for going to and from work, they rode bicycles.
As the profits from their building business gradually accumulated, the Johnson brothers were able to do a little building for themselves. The first house that Father owned in his own name was built in 1888 on a lot he bought on Scott Avenue (now Ottawa Drive) in Auburndale. He never occupied it himself. It was let out to tenants, yielding a small income to supplement his earnings. Through the years he slowly added a few other rental properties. This was his only form of investment.
In 1889 a double house was built on Scott Avenue for Uncle Herbert. He moved into one side with his family and rented the other side to Burnell. There on December 11, 1890, Mother gave birth to her second son, Lyman Howard Johnson. About this time a new subdivision was opened up a mile north of there and Johnson Brothers won contracts to build two or three houses in the tract. Then they bought four adjoining lots, for $150 each, at the west end of that tract on what was then known as Catawba Avenue (now North Cove Boulevard). In 1890 they built a home for Uncle Arthur and the following year a cottage for Burnell. This was the home of our family for the next seventeen years. It was there that the rest of the children were born: Wendell Farrell, July 28, 1893; Hannah Bernice, June 30, 1897, and Wilbur Edmond, May 20, 1900.
While Father supported his family by manual labor plus the small profits
from the contracting firm, he spent considerable time in the Christian
ministry. Having been reared in the undenominational faith of his father, he
was never formally ordained, as had Grandpa Johnson. His theological
training he got from his father and' his own extensive study of the
Scriptures and other religious literature. But he had participated actively
in religious meetings since his youth and when Grandpa was absent on one of
his evangelistic trips, Father usually preached the sermon.
He made trips of his own to other parts of the country, preaching to groups of people who had similar views about the Church of Christ. During his absence his brothers carried on with the contracting business, and when a job was finished and the profits computed, Father was always given his share just as though he had been there all the time. This was their way of contributing toward his Christian ministry. It was the only way he was ever paid. In none of the meetings, whether conducted by Grandpa Johnson or by Father, was any appeal for money made nor any collection taken. Those who wished to contribute to the expenses of the meetings did so privately and on their own initiative. Father had been brought up to believe that any Christian minister who was paid a fixed salary was "a hireling" and necessarily a false prophet no matter what he preached.
Shortly before Grandpa Johnson sold his chapel and moved to Boston, Johnson Brothers bought a lot in Auburndale and built a small meeting house at their own expense with some help from other members of the congregation. Father named it "Grace and Truth Chapel." Since there was no incorporated organization, the title to the property by general consent was put in Burnell's name. Here regular Sunday meetings and weekly evening meetings were held, under his leadership, until he retired and began spending winters in California. He also started publication of a religious paper of his own, which he called "The Search-Light."
No records are available as to the family budget but the annual income of
our family must have been pretty small. Johnson Brothers paid themselves and
their workmen at the rate of $1.50 for a ten-hour day. As each job was
finished the profits were divided among the brothers who formed the firm. In
a record left by Uncle Arthur, who did the estimating on all jobs, he showed
the total costs of many of the houses they built. They ranged from $368 for
one built in 1887 to
$2,700 for one built in 1918. Uncle Arthur's own house on Catawba Avenue cost $574.40. Their profits were small, but they prided themselves on the quality of their work and they built a solid reputation' for fairness and honesty.
One factor in keeping income low was the fact that winters in northwestern Ohio were long and severe, and little building was done during the cold months. Father's earnings were supplemented by some rents, and by the milk, eggs and vegetables we were able to produce. At our Catawba Avenue home we always had a few cows, from which we got all the milk we needed plus some surplus which we sold to neighbors. Much of the time we had enough cream to churn our own butter. Mother baked all of our bread and of course cookies, cakes and pies. Since we were located on the outskirts of the city we were al lowed even to raise pigs. Father built a small smokehouse in which hams and bacons were cured.
What fruits and vegetables we could not raise we were able to buy at wholesale at the farmers' market downtown. We used to drive there in the early morning and bring home a buggy packed with bushels of tomatoes, peaches, berries and other produce. Then Mother and the girls would have a busy day canning them. Beneath our house was a cellar, walls and floor of brick, where canned goods filled shelf after shelf, and where, each fall, twenty or thirty bushels of potatoes were stored for use during the winter months. In the summer we often went with Mother to a hillside nearby and gathered dandelion greens which served instead of spinach.
There were also other ways of economizing. Rugs were woven from strips of
cloth, and quilts from patches of vari-colored pieces left over from the
homemade dresses. Many garments were made by Mother and her daughters, and
clothing outgrown by the older children was remodelled for use by the
younger ones. Nothing of value was allowed to go to waste. Housekeeping
equipment was of the simplest. Soiled clothes were scrubbed by hand on a
corrugated zinc washboard and were run through a hand-operated wringer. Not
until the lapse of several years did we acquire a power washer, and it was
run by water-power after city water was piped to our neighborhood. Advent of
the hand-operated Bissell carpet-sweeper was regarded as a major
City water was our first public utility. The next was telephone service.
This was such a luxury that one phone had to serve both our family and that
of Uncle Arthur, next door. Since it was used mainly for business purposes
and he was the head of the firm, it was installed in his house and we had to
go there to use it.
It was not until about 1908 that Father was able to build a relatively modern home. He moved - our old house to the adjoining lot which he had long owned, then erected a new one at the original location. It was a much larger structure, two full stories with full basement and an attic. For the first time we had central heating, supplied through a hot-water furnace, a bath room, and built-in lights. It seemed like real luxury to have hot-and-cold running water, piped to wash bowl and bath tub as well as the kitchen sink. Since the city sewer system had not yet. been extended to our street, we still had no inside toilet. But, along with the new house, Father built a fresh new concrete vault, topped by a more commodious outhouse. The vault was partly above ground because it was built on a slope, but Father improved the appearance of the portion that was visible by plastering it neatly with cement and attaching to the exposed side a curved stairway of concrete by which we could reach the chicken yard below. I was helping him by mixing the cement for this job and I can still, in my mind's eye, see his gentle smile as he remarked, while smoothing the surface with loving hand, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever."
The hot-water heat, piped to every room in the house, was no doubt the greatest improvement the new house provided. For in the old house the heating system consisted of a "base burner," set up in the living room. Each fall it was carried in from the barn and installed on a zinc-covered mat, its stove pipe connecting with a chimney in the wall behind. It burned only anthracite coal, poured into a cylinder from the top and fed by gravity to the fire bed. This coal burned with little smoke and gave off a red glow that was very attractive. The glow was visible because the central part of the stove above the fire bed was enclosed with a fret-work of iron, with the open spaces filled with thin, transparent sheets of mica which we knew as isinglass. The outside of the stove was decorated with nickel, making it a real show-piece.
The lighting system in the new house was another notable improvement. Kerosene lamps had been our sole source of light. Now for the first time we had gas lights in every room. In order that we might be ready for electricity when it reached our neighborhood, dual fixtures were installed. Before long we stopped using the gas lights and enjoyed the thrill of lighting the room with a flick of a switch.
The new house was the largest one in the entire subdivision and it loomed up like a mansion alongside the other cottages. A large central hall opened to the right into a dining room and to the left into a large living room. A door off the living room led into a down stair bedroom which was reserved for guests. An attractive open stair-case rose from the hall to the second floor, which boasted six rooms. One room was devoted to printing equipment, used in publishing Father's paper, "The Search-Light." He had no press, but the type was set in that room, and then placed in forms for the four pages of the paper. When these were ready they were taken to a printer who ran off on his press the number of copies desired. My sister Ruth did most of the type-setting, but several of us learned how to "distribute" the type into their appropriate boxes after the forms were brought back from the printer.
Our first automobile was bought in 1915. It was a year-old, second-hand Studebaker touring car. That is, it had two seats, and had a top that could be folded back much like the present-day convertible. In case of rain there were side-curtains that could be snapped on to the frame. This purchase was of course a very important event in our lives. Automobiles were a distinct luxury, possessed by relatively few.
Father's limited income and the simplicity of our mode of life never meant that we lacked for food, shelter or clothing. And over the years he was able to accumulate sufficient estate to maintain himself and Mother through twenty years of retirement and still leave a few thousand dollars for distribution among their children after their death. To have reared eight children on so small an income would seem today little less than a miracle. In that period it was not at all extraordinary.
The major credit for this achievement must go, I think, to our mother. As a housekeeper she was a model of efficiency. She had a time-schedule for the various household tasks, always following a carefully worked-out plan, frequently checked the clock to see if she was keeping up with her schedule. Methodically, from sun-up until bed-time, Monday through Saturday, she bustled at a quick pace, usually humming a hymn tune as she worked. A typical week included washing on Monday, ironing on Tuesday, and so on.
As the girls grew old enough to help they were assigned specific tasks, and they too learned to time themselves in order to complete the work on schedule. Mother had great executive ability, knowing how to organize and direct a crew to get the best results. Besides running an efficient household she gave her children a wonderful training in industry, thrift and cleanliness.
Believing thoroughly in the theory that regularity of meals
is beneficial to health, she made a great point of having breakfast,
luncheon and supper at the same hour every day. Father usually carried his
lunch to work and ate it on the job. But when the distance was not too
great, Mother would prepare a hot meal and take it or send it to him by one
of us children. Father's steady improvement in health after his marriage was
a testimony to the value of this regimen and Mother's skill as cook and
THE NOT-SO-GAY NINETIES
Most of the period when the children were growing up was spent at our Catawba Avenue home. That first cottage was a simple frame house with a gable roof, a porch across the front and a small side porch. The lot was on the south side of the street, the rear sloping down a hill toward "the flats" now known as Jermain Park. This was, a low, level stretch of land through which meandered Ten-Mile Creek. Regularly each spring when the rains came the creek would overflow its banks, forming a fairly large, but shallow lake. We could row across it in a small boat to the south side of the valley, from which a climb up a steep bank and a short walk brought us to Scott Avenue. There lived several relatives and friends.
Even when the stream was within its banks it was wide enough for ice-skating in the winter and deep enough in several spots for swimming. This was a sport in which we boys could indulge without benefit of bathing suits, as the "swimming holes" were mostly screened from the road by bushes and trees. The flats were partly wooded and our favorite trees were those from which we gathered, in season, quantities of crab-apples, thorn apples, hickory nuts and black walnuts. The land belonged to the farm that adjoined our lot. We were always able to make a deal with the farmer to pick the nuts on shares, half to him and half to us. Once Clarence fell out of a tree while gathering nuts and broke his collar-bone.
T h c grass in the flats provided pasture for cows and horses and part of it Father rented for our use. The horse which, during the week, pulled the lumber wagon used by Johnson Brothers in their business, was available on Sundays to pull our surrey. We also had an open, one-seated buggy that was used for small errands, and a cutter ... a one-seated, gracefully curved sleigh that could be used when there was enough snow on the roads. The surrey was used not only for going to meeting but on holidays for trips to the country or to picnic spots along the river. When the family outgrew its capacity, the older boys rode bicycles alongside.
Planting, weeding and cultivating the garden, together with the care of chickens, cows, a horse and sometimes a few pigs as well, provided a long list of chores for us children. We boys had the job of milking,, feeding the stock, taking cows to pasture, cleaning the stables, spading the ground for spring planting and many others. Keeping house for a family of ten created many tasks for the girls, some of which have long since disappeared from the American home: baking bread, canning, filling the oil lamps and cleaning their chimneys, darning socks and mending clothes. Certainly there was no leisure time problem.
During the summers, as the boys reached the age of ten or twelve, they could be given work at one of Johnson Brothers' building jobs. Thus they learned the various building trades. But there was some time for play as well. In addition to skating, swimming and "nutting," there was in winter an occasional sleigh ride, and sledding down the hill behind our house. In summer those wonderful family picnics brought fun to our lives. At home we would walk around on homemade stilts, or enjoy a thrilling sky-ride with the aid of a heavy rope from the big elm tree to the hay-loft door, on which we rode suspended from. a pulley. And when our cousins visited us and there was a large enough group, games of hide-and-seek, duck-on-a-rock, London Bridge or "Pom-pom-pull away." The chief limitation on our play was our parents' fear of contamination from children with different standards. We kept largely to ourselves, associating only with our numerous relatives and the families in the congregation.
Father loved books. Often, returning from a trip to some other city, he would bring home a volume or two he had picked up in a second-hand store. Aside from a few "commentaries" on Scripture, these additions to his library were most likely to be in the fields of history, biography or poetry. "In general he frowned on fiction, although he made an exception in the case of such books as Uncle Tom's Cabin, Robinson Crusoe and Pilgrim's Progress. He was particularly fond of history and was delighted to buy a second-hand set of Gibbons' Rise and Fall of the Roman man Empire and a 4-volume History of the Reformation. He had a rare talent for remembering what he read, and telling us about it. We loved to have him narrate stories from the Bible or other books, as we sat before the glowing stove on winter evenings.
He had a way of making these stories come to life: Samson's exploits and those of David, Daniel in the Lion's den, Jonah and the whale, Joseph and his brothers, Elijah and Elisha, Isaac and Jacob, Nebuchednezzar and Belshazzar ... these were among our favorites.
Mother's sister, Susannah, whom we always called Aunt Sue, had prepared for teaching and the first several children born into our family had their primary education from her. A room in our Catawba Avenue cottage was fitted up with a blackboard and there Aunt Sue conducted regular classes for a time. This was later discontinued and the children began attending public school. It was located in Auburndale, a full mile from our house. In winter this was a long, cold walk, often along a narrow path through deep snow. But I do not recall that any of us considered this a hardship. It never occurred to anyone that the school board should supply a bus to take us to and from school.
Compulsory schooling was at first limited to the elementary grades, and few children went on to high school. In our own family it was not until Lyman, the fifth child, completed the eight grade that any of us continued our education beyond that point. The only high school was three miles or more distant and could be reached by street car, now electrified and no longer horse-drawn. The fare was only a nickel. each way, but Lyman and I often preferred to walk and save that five cents.
'We can hardly be said to have lived a pampered life. We slept in
unheated rooms until we moved from the cottage to the big new house, by
which time most of us were in our teens. In exceptionally cold weather we
younger ones undressed in front of the base burner in the living room, then
dashed upstairs to our beds and shivered under the covers until the heat of
our bodies warmed the sheets. That fancy base-burner radiated enough heat
but you were likely to be too warm in front and too cold behind, unless, of
course you stood with your back to the fire, when the reverse was true. The
living room was in the middle of the house. In front was a bedroom on one
side and the parlor on the other. When the doors of those rooms were open
the chill could be taken from them, but usually they were closed, to
conserve fuel. Consequently the parlor was seldom used in cold weather.
One of our luxuries was the drinking water of wonderful quality, which we
pumped from a well that Father and Uncle Arthur had dug for joint use by the
two families and in fact all the other people in the neighborhood. Located
midway between the two houses, but outside our yards beside the front side
walk, it was easily accessible to all. Rain water for washing came from a
cistern, supplied by spouts from the roof of the house. It could be pumped
directly to the kitchen sink. Our only water heater was a reservoir in our
kitchen range which could be filled with water and which became hot whenever
there was a fire in the stove. When larger quantities of hot water were
required a copper boiler was filled with water and placed on top of the
Spring house-cleaning was an ordeal to be borne with fortitude but not enjoyed. Carpets had to be taken up, after removing the tacks that held it to the floor. They were then dragged outside the house on the grass or hung over the clothes line, where we boys would beat the dust out of them. Then they had to be replaced on the floor, sometimes with straw underneath, then stretched and tacked down. This was always a major operation. Another spring chore was taking down the baseburner and carrying it to the barn, where it was stored during the summer months. Then there was re-papering walls and painting or varnishing of woodwork and furniture. We never thought of hiring anyone to do this work.
For years we used ticks on the bed instead of mattresses. These had to be periodically emptied and re-filled with fresh straw, or corn husks. Often they made crunchy sounds when you lay on them and were hard on the sacroiliac.
We always had plenty of food but it usually was of the plain variety. Our
favorite breakfast menu, especially in cold weather, was buckwheat pancakes.
Mother would mix up a batter with yeast, set it behind the stove over night,
and the next morning transform it into great piles of golden brown cakes
which we ate with great relish. Some of the batter would be saved and in
some magic way I never did understand, it made a never-ending supply of
pancake material that would last all winter.
Occasionally our folks would buy a dozen bananas or a sack of peanuts,
but oranges were sheer luxury. The only time we had an orange was when we
were sick and were getting special attention. One fabulous occasion stands
out in my memory. A guest from Cleveland who we knew must be very rich,
brought us a whole dozen of oranges, the most we had ever seen on the table
at one time.
Although we were definitely a low-income family, I am sure none of us
ever thought of ourselves as poor. Perhaps it was because our standard of
living was about on a par with that of our neighbors and friends. We always
had some surplus we could share with anyone in need, and our parents were
constantly performing acts of kindness to others. This was not, I think,
from any sense of duty or obligation, but because they enjoyed doing it. It
would not have occurred to them that they should be given any praise for
this. It was just the natural thing to do, growing out of a deep sense of
gratitude to God for their many blessings, and a feeling that in doing for
others they were rendering thanks to Him.
This sense of thankfulness was expressed not only in deeds, but also in
words, in the habitual prayers at meals and in family worship every evening,
and whenever feasible, mornings as well. Family worship always included
reading of a chapter from the Bible.
The lengths to which these acts of kindness went were in many instances astonishing. For example there was Isaac Hollingsworth, an unkempt, illiterate, but good-hearted soul who was alone in the world, with no friends, relatives or financial resources. Father built a one room addition on the rear of our house, where he lived rent-free and "kept batch." One or twice a year mother would organize her children into a house-cleaning brigade and clean up the place. Often, too, she supplied him with cookies, bread. and other products of her baking. He 'worked as a laborer for Johnson Brothers until he became too feeble to work, but that room attached to our house continued to be his home until his final illness.
Another man, Anton Keane, who had grown up with a drunken father and a younger brother in an old house near the Johnson farm, became seriously ill. With no one to care for him at home, his plight was serious. Mother had him brought to our house, on a cot placed in the lumber wagon, and there fed and nursed him until he was well enough to return home. Many years later, his younger brother was severely burned about the face and arms when he fell in a faint across a stove. He was taken to the hospital for treatment, but when ready for discharge, he too came to our house for several weeks of convalescent care.
Then there was Mrs. Roenich, who was going blind and to make matters worse became seriously ill. Her children were too young to care for her, so our folks brought her to our home, put her in the guest room, and supplied all of her needs for a period of weeks.
One of the interesting characters I remember as a child was a Civil War veteran whom vie knew as "Mr. Scott." He had lost a leg in the war and his artificial leg was a continual source of wonder to us boys, as were the yarns with which he used to regale us. He had a small pension and lived in a tiny house he occupied rent-free, on a lot owned by Uncle Arthur. Since his handicap made housework difficult for him, mother used to do his weekly washing. This continued over many years.
These examples of human charity of course had their effect upon us children. So it was with complete confidence that my brother and I suggested to Mother that we offer shelter to a family whose house had been destroyed by fire. We had run to see the fire, a few blocks away, and had been distressed by the sight of the forlorn woman, sitting with her children on the few household goods they had been able to salvage. They lived outside our immediate neighborhood and so were complete strangers to us, but if mother had any misgivings about inviting people into her home whom she had never met before, she gave no hint of it and said we could go and bring them. There was a wretched-looking old woman and several filthy little children, but mother somehow found away to make room for them in our already crowded cottage. They had their evening and morning meal with us, as well as beds for the night, but as I remember it, we all breathed a sigh of relief when they left in the morning and went on their way.
Father's contacts with various undenominational religious groups around the country often brought to our home visitors from other cities. The semi-annual "Assemblies" in particular always attracted numbers of out-of-town visitors. It was unheard-of that any of these people should seek accommodations in a hotel. They became guests of various members of the congregation, and Father, as one of the important leaders, always had more than his share.
Sometimes these people would arrive unannounced in Toledo and would find their way to our house with their luggage. Amazing as it may seem, our folks always seemed to be prepared for company. If they arrived at meal time Mother just put another plate on the table and there was always enough food to go around. As I look back upon it l often wonder how she managed it, for there was of course no such thing as a deep freeze to draw upon, nor the many kinds of packaged foods that are now available in such emergencies.
Life at home was never dull, for many of these visitors were queer characters indeed. There was for example the man from the middle west who had taken literally the Biblical injunction to sell all his goods and give to the poor. Having no longer a home of his own to live in, he expected the Lord to provide for him through one of His servants who had not taken similar action and still had some worldly goods. He lived at our house for some days and I can still recall some of Father's mild arguments with this man in which he tried to point out what was wrong with our guest's theology.
It was after Grandpa Johnson had moved to Boston and Father was the acknowledged but unofficial leader of a small group of Christians meeting at "Grace and Truth Chapel," that he entertained as an uninvited guest a woman evangelist from one of the southern states. She had apparently been accustomed to being waited on, and she expected all kinds of service while in our home. For example, asking one of the girls to fan her while she applied cosmetics to her face. Using rouge was itself a scandal in our circle, very "worldly" by our standards. But the greatest humiliation to which she subjected poor, gentle Father, was thrusting into his hands the guitar which she often played during the meetings, and asking him to carry it for her as they walked to the chapel. This was doubly embarrassing for him in that in those days the use of instrumental music in the chapel was considered highly questionable.
Hospitality was of course not limited to these rather bizarre co-religionists. Father and mother had many friends and relatives living in distant cities, and these were always very welcome guests. However distantly related, we thoroughly enjoyed entertaining them, and they reciprocated by inviting us to visit them. Transportation was slower and more arduous then than it is today; therefore such visits often extended over a week or two. Trips by train or boat to visit aunts, cousins and friends in Canada, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania are among our pleasantest memories. Often, of course, these trips were made for the purpose of attending meetings of like-minded believers in other communities.
Some travel was solely for pleasure. In this category were the day long boat trips to Detroit, Sugar Island, Put-in-Bay or Cedar Point. Every summer there were special excursions at rates that were within the reach of our family's slender resources. Such trips were among the few forms of entertainment that: involved a cash outlay. On rare occasions Father would take us to a lecture that required paid admission, such as the Burton Holmes "Travelogues" where we saw wonderful pictures of foreign lands and heard them described in the vivid and eloquent terms for which Burton Holmes was famous.
Some interesting programs were open to the public free of charge. How thrilled I was when Father took me to a political meeting at Memorial Hall to hear Brand Whitlock and other political leaders display their oratory before a huge and enthusiastic audience in one of Whitlock's campaigns for election as Mayor of Toledo! Before him there was his famous predecessor, Mayor Samuel M. (Golden Rule) Jones. Or that other, still more memorable occasion when he took us to hear the silver-tongued orator William Jennings Bryan, campaigning for the presidency of the United States. Father always took an active interest in political campaigns. We considered ourselves Republicans, always on opposite sides in national campaigns from Uncle Herbert and his family. We explained his heterodoxy by the fact that he had married into a southern Pennsylvania family who had relatives in the south and were brought up to favor the Democratic cause.
Except for a mouth organ, which Father could play very well, we never had
a musical instrument in the house until about 1904. The older children, who
by then were earning money of their own, bought, for seven dollars, a
second-hand organ. It was placed in the parlor, and from then on that room
had more use. Ruth learned to play it first. On Sunday evenings we had
wonderful times as we gathered around the organ to sing our favorite hymns
or even, at times, a secular song or two.
We were a close-knit family, held together by mutual feelings of affection and respect. Father was a hero to us all. Discipline was apparently no problem. He seldom if ever resorted to physical punishment. To know that he was unhappy with us was enough to inhibit continuation of any action he disapproved. Bereft though it was of luxuries or indulgence, our life as a family was a very happy one. I am sure all of us children look back upon those years together with fond memories.
It was in the fall of 1920, as he approached his 60th birthday, that Father began to consider retirement. As an exploratory step he and mother decided to drive to California and spend the winter there. They had previously visited that distant state, going by train, but had never made a long trip by car.
They had owned an automobile since 1915, when they had bought a used Studebaker touring car. A few years later this was turned in on a big 7-passenger Hupmobile. Now they sold this and bought a 6 cylinder National, a long, sleek, stream-lined vehicle. As with all "touring cars" it had a collapsible top, equipped with side curtains in case of rain. There was no trunk, but Father installed on the left running-board a box, covered with black oil-cloth, in which to carry the equipment considered essential for the 2500-mile journey.
They rented their house for six months and in early October, accompanied by their four unmarried children, Ruth, Pearl, Hannah and Wilbur, they started on their long trek west. Wilbur, their youngest son, did all the driving as Father had not acquired enough skill or experience to enable him to be comfortable at the wheel.
Cross-country travel in those days was a pioneering experience. Few roads outside of cities were paved, and after a heavy rain many were almost impassable. Service stations were few and far between. Nowhere were there any route numbers and often no other identification of the highway. When you came to a fork in the road you often had to stop and inquire which one to take. The Automobile Association performed an indispensable service by supplying travelers with detailed road maps and guides, which identified turning points by the mileage from some starting point, plus a description of a landmark, such as a bridge, a church on the corner or a red brick school house.
Every car's speedometer was equipped with a "trip mileage" reading, which could be set at zero at the starting point. The driver needed a navigator who could follow the road guide, check the speedometer reading against the mileage called for in the guide, and watch for the designated landmarks. Of course this was long before the day of motels. You took along your own camping equipment or you used the primitive hotels or sought lodging in private homes.
My sister, Hannah, kept a daily log of this first western trip, after joining the family in Chicago. She had gone on ahead by train to visit friends in central Illinois and was to meet the rest of the family when they arrived there. The ride from Toledo to Chicago had already proved eventful. They had started their journey right after lunch on Wednesday noon, October 6, 1920. They had gone only fourteen miles when a tire blew out, so they returned to the city, bought two new "Superior Cord" tires, and left again at 6 P.M. Just west of Toledo, another tire blew out, but they replaced it with one of the new ones. Driving until 10:30 P.M. they camped for the night near Butler, Indiana.
Thursday morning they found another tire was growing soft. It was taken off and patched. The outer casing was damaged but they installed a "boot" and drove on as fast as they could. They were to meet Hannah at Dearborn Station about 5 P.M. and they arrived there a half-hour late. In a day and a half they had covered 250 miles.
Staying that night at the home of Will Coverdale, a cousin of Mother's, they continued west on Friday. The only incident thought worthy of mention was the loss of a "blue silk umbrella," the cherished gift of Hannah's Illinois friends. It must have shaken loose from the luggage that was strapped to the outside of the car. From here on, excerpts from Hannah's diary:
"Friday, Oct. 8. Six o'clock. Camped in schoolyard three or four miles west of LaSalle, Ill. Beautiful weather and warm night.
"Saturday, Oct. 9. Scurried around at 5 A.M. to get out of the way of school children and about noon happened to remember it was Saturday and no school. Crossed the Mississippi at Rock Island, Ill. Got to Moscow, Iowa, 30 miles west of there. Covered 116 miles today. Ideal spot for camping. A big sign of welcome to tourists: 'Pay when you come in. Autos 25 cents. Double teams 50 cents, single, 15 cents. Wagon 25 cents. Walk-in., 10 cents. No horses allowed. I'm running this place not you'.
"Sunday, Oct. 10. At 6 P.M. arrived at Isaac Warner's home, Panora, Iowa, after a drive of 210 miles since 8:30 A.M. Very hilly.
"Monday, Oct. 11. Drove to Moreland's, 16 miles away, for dinner and meeting.
"Tuesday, October 12. 145 miles. Started from Warner's at 10: 30 A.M.. Stopped 33 miles beyond Omaha on Platte River. Very woodsy place. Fisherman's car there ahead of us. Sleep disturbed during the night by the sound of something moving close to the tent. At four Pearl demanded a light to see what it was. Saw a big muskrat enter tent and carry away an apple. At 4:20 heard it coming again. We turned flashlight on it and watched it take another apple. When it came again, twenty minutes later, Wilbur shot it in the head.
"Wednesday, Oct. 13. 185 miles. Left at 8:30. Just as we entered Lincoln, Nebraska, we had a puncture. Stopped in front of the university. Two young men in an Ohio car stopped to talk. A few minutes later a man from Toledo joined us. Stopped at Axtell and camped behind the school. Had our first storm here, rain, wind and lightning.
At midnight we all got up and dressed for fear the tent would blow over. Nothing happened and we slept the rest of the night with our clothes on.
"Thursday, October 14. 78 miles. Started at 10:15. Very cloudy, with rain off and on. In low places the road was very muddy. Arrived Atlanta, Nebraska, at noon, after going only 27 miles. We put on chains and curtains, bought provisions for lunch and started out. Very bad roads, rather hilly. Near Arapahoe we skidded crosswise off the road and front wheels went into a ditch full of water. Two cars came along and with their help we finally got out. Within a few miles, as we were passing a Ford, we slid down into a ditch at side of road. With the Ford's help we easily came out of that. We drove as far as Cambridge, where we found an ideal place to camp in a park back of a mill. Just got everything nicely put away in the tent when it began to rain. Stormed most of the night with thunder and lightning.
"Friday, October 15. 67 miles. Waited here all morning, waiting for the roads to dry up and the tent to get dry. The sun came out warm and bright, so we ate our lunch and left at two o'clock. Very little mud on the road except in low spots. On a hillside we passed a Ford from Detroit. Later we pulled another man with a Ford out of a small ditch. A few miles west of McCook we suddenly came upon a wet place in the road that concealed a deep hole. We went into it and couldn't get out. Papa and Wilbur took off shoes and socks and worked a long time without success. Finally a line of cars had accumulated behind us. At last two men in an Iowa car helped us out. Then we loaned our tow line to them. In all, about fifteen machines got stuck while we were there. While we were fastening on our load, along came the man in the Ford that we had helped pull out. He was going to Palisade and offered to lead us there. Although it was getting dark we went on the nine miles to Palisade, where, after hunting unsuccessfully for a place to camp, we went to the hotel.
"Saturday, October 16. 135 miles. Mamma woke up with dizziness and sick headache. The rest of us ate breakfast by the road and Wilbur did some work on the car. Then we went back to the hotel for mamma and left about ten o'clock. We crossed the Colorado line about 3 P.M., having had a lot of trouble on the way. The tire we put the boot on in Indiana blew out after going about 1,400 miles. One of the Superior cords we got in Toledo blew out also. We went on to Sterling, Colorado, arriving about eight o'clock, or seven, Mountain Time. We camped behind a garage and filling station.
"Sunday, October 17. Pretty cold night. This morning in lighting our stove the gasoline spilled into the pan below and blazed way up. Papa kicked it out of the tent. Wilbur passing outside, walked right over it and burned his face. One blanket caught fire, burning a hole in it, otherwise not much damage. Started out for Denver, getting our first glimpse of the mountains on leaving Fort Morgan for Greeley. When about fifty miles from Denver our spare fabric tire blew out. We fixed up the Superior and went in on it. Arrived at Uncle Eddy's at nine P.M.
"Monday, October 18. While Wilbur and papa attended to the car in the morning, we washed our dirty clothes. After noon we drove Uncle Eddy and Aunt Addie to Bear Creek Canyon and Lookout Mountain. Supper downtown, then home and to bed. Such luxury!
"Tuesday, October 19, and Wednesday, October 20. Took a ride around the boulevards, visited the museum, went shopping. Pearl and I went to the library. Bought two new Goodrich Silvertown cord tires.
"Thursday, October 21. Started for Colorado Springs, accompanied by Uncle Eddy and Aunt Addie in their Ford sedan. Drove out to Manitou, but Pike's Peak was closed for the winter. Drove around the Garden of the Gods. Stayed that night at the Elks' Hotel.
"Friday, October 22. 168 miles. Uncle Eddy showed us the way to Stratton Park and Cheyenne Canyon and put us on the road to Trinidad at 9:30. Arriving there at 4:30 we went on to Raton Pass and camped on the hillside just outside of Raton. A windstorm blew u?. the night and blew sand all over. Awfully cold.
"Saturday, October 23. 124 miles. We nearly froze, packing up. There were about twenty cars camping here. How the wind did blow! It started to snow, so when we got to Las Vegas, N.M., about four o'clock, we went to the Plaza Hotel. There we found other tourists . the Wisconsin car, one from Omaha and one from South Dakota. When we went to find a restaurant we inquired of a man on the street. He gave us directions and came along with us, but when we got there the place was crowded. We finally found another cafe, a real Mexican place, and he went in and ate with us. All the Mexicans around stared at us all the time we were eating. How smelly it was and how terrible the chili we ordered! The funny little waiter brought us napkins just as we finished eating. Some of us had no spoons, some no forks. After supper the man who was with us invited us to the movies but we declined. We sat around the fire in the hotel and visited all evening with the other tourists.
"Sunday, October 24. 137 miles. We started out in a snow storm but by noon, when we had reached Santa Fe, N.M., it was bright and warm. We had a fine dinner at the hotel - chicken soup, mashed potatoes and peas, roast beef, pineapple ice, cake and coffee, all for 45 cents. We waited until two P.M. when the museum opened: an old adobe building, three or four hundred feet long, built in 1606, destroyed in 1609, rebuilt a little bit later and restored in 1909. It had been the palace of governors. General Lew Wallace lived there when writing "Ben Hur." While waiting we looked around the town. A nice young man came and asked if he could walk around with us, and he was with us all the time we were in Santa Fe. An engineer, he was there on government work. Saw "Wisconsin" in the museum. Drove to Albuquerque and out to the camp ground, where there were about forty cars.
"Monday, October 25. 90 miles. In Albuquerque the streets were lined with tourists. Rumors were abroad that the road to Flagstaff was closed on account of snowstorms. We were advised to go south to Phoenix._ Standing by the curb, a car drove up beside, us. The driver said he noticed we were from Toledo. He was from Bowling Green. He had been hunting near Flagstaff and had managed to get back before the storms had made the roads impassable, but he was sure they would be, now. We saw the Wisconsin man, so together we started out for Socorro, where the road divides, one road going to Flagstaff, the other to Phoenix. Went through Isleta, a real Pueblo Indian village. Road wound among the houses (adobe, plastered and whitewashed and so white and clean) with the big ovens scattered around. At end of village we saw a sign, "slow down to 10 miles an hour, by order of the Pueblo Council." Stopped for lunch just outside the village. A car came along and stopped. The driver said he was from Ashland, Ohio, and Bowling Green. Said he had tried out both roads from Socorro and couldn't get through. Pointing to his car, he said it was clean when he started out. It wasn't much worse than ours. All the way we kept meeting cars that were coming back after trying the road. Some said they were going to ship their cars and go on by train. However, we kept on and camped on the Rio Grande River, five miles east of Socorro.
"Tuesday, October 26. 61 miles. Introduced ourselves to our Wisconsin neighbors. Mr. and Mrs. Feige and son Douglas. Hard frost. Douglas shot three wild ducks. Drove into Socorro and were told both roads were closed. We and Wisconsin decided to go by way of Flagstaff. Ahead of us were the Detroit sedan and a Riverside, Colorado, car. One man gave us his name and hotel and asked us to telegraph from where we stopped for the night. Drove through Blue Canyon, the snow getting deeper. In the Plains of San Augustine the roads were full of water but had a solid bottom. We didn't sink in but oh it was rough. Arrived at hotel in Datil at 7:00. Warm welcome from the Detroit people who were there before us. Only three rooms with two beds tb a room, but they divided up and I slept with their girl. We cooked our beans and coffee in the fireplace. The building was adobe.
"Wednesday, October 27. 59 miles. Detroit got a little start on us as we were fussing with our radiator, which had frozen. Drove through the Datil Mountains and about 2:30 passed a ranch house where we bought cottage cheese and milk. We had gone only two miles from there when we met the sedan from Detroit being towed back with a break in the axle housing. Wilbur and Mr. Feige went back with them to the house to see if they could help them, while we sat in the road for three hours. Finally they came back and we camped a quarter-mile from the house. That was the last water for fifty miles and. we paid ten cents for it. In the evening called on the Detroit people, Mr. and Mrs. Malpass and Miss Peacock.
"Thursday, October 28. 96 miles. Took Mr. Malpass to Springerville in Feige's car, to see about getting his car repaired. Crossed the Arizona line about noon. Camped at Concho on a muddy little lake. Made fudge in the evening.
"Friday, October 29. 63 miles. Cleaned the car in the lake, the men shaved, and we were a little late in getting away. Ate lunch in the Petrified Forest. Saw many volcanic mountains and lava all around the forest. In Holbrook saw our first train since leaving Socorro. Gas man there told us to hurry out of the country as a storm was coming. We drove within six miles of Winslow and camped under a fine big tree with the ground covered with leaves, near the Little Colorado River. It began to blow and rain in the night.
"Saturday, October 30. 64 miles. Papa woke us up at four on account of the storm. We tried to be quiet so as not to wake the Feige's. About six papa called them and we started off in intermittent showers. Stopped in Winslow to buy groceries and mail cards, then started on, the roads getting steadily worse. As we drew near Flagstaff the ground was covered with snow. It was just like riding through a park, with the hills and evergreens . . . all except the boulevard. The road was very rocky, ranging from little pointed stones to regular boulders. Five miles from Flagstaff we came to a soft place in the road where a car was stuck. We went carefully and managed to avoid sliding into the ditch. We tried to help the car get out but couldn't. It began to snow hard as we came into Flagstaff, so we went to the library in the evening.
"Sunday, October 31. 40 miles. Morning found a foot of snow on the ground, but it was melting fast. Mama took the train to Williams. We started at 12 o'clock along with a family from Chicago, the father and son driving and the mother and daughter going by train with mama to lighten the load. The road to Williams was not bad. A good track had been made and we followed it easily. There were several blizzards that threatened to cover up the track but they did not last long. We got to Williams an hour before the train did and had to wait for it. There mother decided to go on to Ashfork by train as she was still not feeling well. That road was bad. The 19 miles took us from four o'clock to seven. We had a lot of trouble with the distributor but Mr. Feige was very patient and stopped and helped us each time. We ate dinner at the Harvey House. At the hotel we met the Chicago people. We sat around the fire getting acquainted, sang a while, and then went to bed.
"Monday, November 1st. Left Ashfork at 9:30. Mamma took the train to Kingman. The rest went on over more bad roads. We went through a canyon that was so rocky it was just like going down stone steps. Went into an Indian reservation where the roads were better and finally camped about five o'clock in a pine forest about a half-mile off the road-a place the Feige's picked out. Our tents had been packed wet ever since the rain and were beginning to mildew, so we built a fire in the tents and soon dried them out. The pine needles made a fine fire. Heard coyotes in the night. Papa got up in the night and built a fire under the radiator. Pearl got up and put out the fire we had cooked supper on, and both of them stood around the fire by the car from four o'clock on.
"Tuesday, November 2nd. We started on ahead of Feiges as we were anxious to meet mamma at Kingman. We planned to wait for them there."
Here Hannah's narrative ends and Mother takes up the story:
"They found me recovered from my illness. We stocked up with groceries, ate our lunch near Kingman, met Feiges and together we started on west. Five miles out our distributor point was found to be so worn that we decided to return to Kingman and get a new one. We bade Feiges goodbye, fully expecting to overtake them by night. The repair man had gone with his wife to vote and we were delayed more than two hours. We started on, and not overtaking Feiges by nine P.M., we camped at Topock on the bank of the Colorado River near the bridge. (Editor's note: The election referred to was the one in which Warren Harding was made President of the United States. In the first two days of November, they had travelled 156 miles.)
"Wednesday, November 3rd. Crossed the bridge into California. Drove 16 miles to Needles, a nice little town with fine hotel and park around it, with palms, green grass, etc. No mail. Sent cards, got supplies, and about noon started on through the desert."
At Riverside they called on a friend, Mrs. Lorbeer, who had been known to them through correspondence for many years. She told them of a daughter, Mrs. Curtis, formerly Mrs. Gillette, who lived on a large tract of land near LaVerne which they called Laurelette Ranch. On this ranch, largely devoted to the raising of citrus fruit, was a cottage which was rented out to tenants and might be vacant.
Contact was made, the cottage was duly rented, and here the family settled down for the winter. Hannah and Pearl made use of their previous experience and got jobs at the Pomona Library. Father, Mother and Ruth, with Wilbur as driver, were able to explore the countryside and get acquainted with new friends. For the first time in their life they could enjoy the winter months in warmth and sunshine and they loved every minute of it.
The next spring they drove back to Toledo, but they had established a pattern that was to continue for the next twenty years. Each fall they would drive west to southern California. Each spring they traveled east. Father was now able to drive the car himself and they made the long trip twice each year, using many different routes. Usually, after visiting their children and other relatives in Ohio and Michigan, they would take off for Pennsylvania, Virginia or West Virginia, to visit friends and to conduct religious meetings with various undenominational groups of Christians whom they had come to know over the years through the Stumbling Stone or the Search-Light.
Father no longer published! the Search-Light, but he had time for writing and publishing occasional tracts, and for writing letters of comfort and counsel to friends and brethren elsewhere. Their only income was from the rental of their three duplexes, but it was more than enough to meet their needs., 'They even had some surplus for quiet benefactions to friends or others whom they found to be in need of help.
The winter months in California were spent in writing, some preaching, and occasional radio talks on religious subjects. Thanks to the guiding hand of Providence, he had found a congenial group of undenominational Christians, led by Maurice Johnson whose experience had strikingly paralleled that of our grandfather, Lyman H. Johnson. He, too, had been an ordained minister who had rebelled against the controls, the practices, and the theology of organized religion. Maurice was a much younger man but Father, who had been accustomed to lead his own congregation, was content to sit in the ranks, participating in the meetings as there was opportunity. Gradually he won the respect and affection of the new group and he enjoyed their friendship and their Christian fellowship during all of his remaining years.
One by one various members of Father's family moved their homes to southern California. Hannah was the first to settle there, having married Lawrence Gillette, orange grower, whose mother, Mrs. Curtis had rented them the cottage during that first winter in the west. Pearl, returning east by ship through the Panama Canal, made the acquaintance of Victor Boeck, a widower. They married and eventually established their home in Los Angeles. In the great depression years of the thirties, when their own building business in Toledo had ground to a halt, Lyman and Wilbur found employment of a sort with a China Company in Los Angeles. From this they moved to a small business of their own, the Ceramic Decorating Co. Then Clarence moved out with his family, and Ruth, having become a widow, followed suit. She built a home in Pico, adjoining Lyman's house, and there Father and Mother finally established their winter headquarters.
With all but one of their children located within easy reach, they spent their remaining years in close association with their loved ones and in happy fellowship with other Christians who held similar views. Father's retirement years were happy ones and deeply satisfying. They had time and money enough to travel as they wished, and to carry on the work of the Lord as they saw it. Their 60th wedding anniversary, celebrated on New Year's Day 1943, was a particularly happy occasion. All eight of the children were present and they had a wonderful time reminiscing about their life when they were all at home together. Father delivered a little speech, which I reproduce here:
"EBENEZER" (1 Samuel 7:12)
"Sixty years ago today your mother and I were married in the home of your Grandfather and Grandmother Simpson, in Lapeer, Michigan. What music, and what decorations we had on that bright zero day! Besides the joy-bells ringing in our hearts, we heard the music of sleigh-bells, the clatter of flying hoofs and the creaking of steel-bound runners, gliding over the frozen snow.
"As for decorations, Jack Frost's deft fingers had drawn fantastic pictures on each window pane--every one of a special and original pattern. Besides the whole outdoors was piled high with winter's prismatic crystals, of exquisite design.
"Of course the day began according to 1 Timothy 4:3-5, with the Word of God and prayer with the voice of thanksgiving.
"Today we are privileged to gather with our four sons and four daughters, members of their families and a few others, including one who was present on that wedding day, our sister, Mrs. Susannah Finley. All of whom join us in commemorating completion of our threescore years of wedded happiness, marked by some unusual tokens of our heavenly Father's kind care.
"In grateful recognition of these multiplied and unmerited blessings; having no assurance that such an annual memorial occasion will come our way again in this world; may I offer some thoughts which by God's blessing,, may help to extend our past happy and congenial relationships on beyond the confines of this present life? For that Word of God which we believe to be the infallible Truth, assures us that "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."
"Father, what e'er of earthly bliss
Thy sovereign will denies
Accepted at thy throne of grace
Let this petition rise
"Give me a calm, a thankful heart
From every murmur free
The blessings of Thy grace impart
And make me live for Thee
"May the sweet hope that I am Thine
My life and death attend
Thy presence through my journey shine
And crown my journey's end."
This prayer in song engraved itself early on my memory. "Godliness, with contentment, is great gain." (1 Tim. 6:6)
Father and Mother did live, in fact, to celebrate one more anniversary together, but Father was by then in his last illness, and he died January 16, 1944. Mother, who was about three years younger, survived him by five years, going to her reward in June, 1949. They left a wonderful heritage to their children and the generations to follow. Both had had a rich and full life, and both had enriched the lives of all with whom they had come in contact.
ON THEIR SIXTIETH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY, 1943
Standing: Wendell, Wilbur, Hannah (Mrs. Lawrence Gillette), Pearl (Mrs. Victor Boeck), Lyman, Clarence.
Seated: Susan (Mrs. Samuel Witmer), Mother, Father, Ruth (Mrs. John Kruger).
PICTURE OF A MAN
One winter Father and Mother spent in Florida. They lived in Tampa near the home of his older brother Arthur, who had preceded him into retirement and had gone there to live.
They had made the trip south by train and expected to return the same way. As the time approached for their return to Toledo they saw an ad from a man who was about to drive to Detroit and who offered to take passengers for a price. Since they liked travelling through the countryside by automobile and the cost was less than train fare, they made a deal to ride with him.
On the appointed morning the man picked them up, collected the fare in advance and started off. Soon however he circled around and stopped at his own home, explaining that he had forgotten to leave a message with his wife. Evidently that call at his home was for the purpose of giving his wife the money he had received from his passengers. For after they had gone too far on their journey north to call it off and turn back, he announced that he had run out of money and could not even buy any more gasoline. From then on Father paid all of the expense of the trip, including a tire repair.
Despite this shabby treatment at the hands of the car owner, Father recognized him as a human being in need. Far from displaying anger or resentment, when they arrived in Toledo Father invited him to spend the night at his home before renewing his journey. It was early spring and the weather was cold in northwestern Ohio. Noting that the man was not warmly clothed, Father gave him his best topcoat when he left the next morning.
This incident is typical of the man. He took literally the admonitions in the Sermon on the Mount about returning good for evil, and if a man smote him on the right cheek, he turned to him the other also. The quality that, more than anything else characterized him, was his gentility, his kindliness, his consideration for others, his sheer goodness. He was constantly giving of himself for others, and this was always done so gladly, so ungrudgingly that the recipients of his benefactions were made to feel that they were contributing to his happiness by accepting them.
Father was a man of great humility, inclined to under-estimate his own merits. And yet he cannot be said to have lacked self-confidence nor courage, for this he demonstrated in many ways. He was certainly not a lazy man, for he hated waste, whether of materials or time. I suspect however that even if he had had a tendency to take life easy, Mother would not have permitted him to do so. She was a dynamo of energy, a born executive, with innate ability to plan, organize and direct the work of others. Undoubtedly she was the driving power behind many of Father's achievements.
In many respects Father and Mother were a study in contrasts. Father was tall and thin, Mother was short and plump. Father was slow and deliberate in his speech and his movements, Mother was quick and decisive, and so voluble a talker that Father sometimes had trouble getting a word in edgewise. And yet we children never had any doubt but that Father was the head of the house and when he spoke to us we listened respectfully and acted accordingly.
He rarely inflicted physical punishment on his children, yet I never knew a father who was a better disciplinarian. A quiet talk with us, expressing sorrow over our errant behavior would make us so penitent that we would resolve never to do that again. He never raised his voice in anger against us; in fact the only expressions of wrath I can remember were directed against the man-made organizations, "falsely called churches."
The seriousness with which he generally regarded life on "this terrestrial globe," "this vale of tears," was relieved by a smiling friendliness and a delightful sense of humor. I can recall his reading, with evident enjoyment from such humorists as Mark Twain. A sample of his own humor is contained in a letter to grandchildren, written from Los Angeles February, 1934:
"I am writing this from No. 516 S. Boyle Avenue, Los Angeles, California. (Note: the "S" stands for south, not sore, and the street name is spelled with a 'y' and not an 'i', Boyle', not 'boil', though folks who live here seem to have plenty of boils. Lyman has one on his nose and I have so many on the back of my neck that, to save time, they called it 'carbuncle,' which means a whole family of boils). Los Angeles is a Spanish name which is supposed to mean that this town is a City of Angels, which I think is a mistake. But to correct this would be easy: Just add 't' to the first syllable and omit the 'e' from the last one."
Father must have had a basically sound constitution. Despite frequent illnesses in his youth, he lived to the ripe age of eighty-three, worked at hard physical labor until his retirement, and after that did all of the necessary repair work on his three rental properties. His vision and hearing remained unimpaired right up to the time of his death. It is also notable that he had little trouble with his teeth and never had to have dentures.
He had a high degree of manual dexterity, as attested by the mechanical skills he developed. He was not only a very competent brick mason, plasterer and carpenter, but as a cabinet maker built several fine articles of furniture that showed considerable artistic talent. He designed the decorative features himself and then carved them by hand.
But his interests were mainly intellectual. There is no doubt that he was endowed with superior intelligence, although he never had any formal schooling except that provided by his school-teacher mother. Despite this educational lack, he not only acquired a broad knowledge, but an extensive vocabulary and an exceptional command of language. His writings seldom showed a misspelled word or grammatical error.
He greatly admired eloquence and oratory, but he never attained the level of excellence in this respect that had been achieved by his father. He began speaking in public, in religious meetings, when as young as sixteen years of age, and throughout his life did a great deal of preaching and expounding of the Bible. His talks were effective because they were intelligible, and because of his earnestness, sincerity and gentleness. But he did not have the gift of fiery eloquence that could lift his hearers out of their seats.
The reasons for this, I think, were partly physical. He did not possess a strong voice and he lacked the kind of animal vitality that enables some speakers to arouse an audience to emotional heights. Unlike his father, who could attract crowds at a street meeting and make himself heard over the noises of a downtown corner, he was not equipped .for this sort of activity. Recognizing his limitations, he seldom attempted street speaking.
Father enjoyed literature and had a flair for writing. Occasionally he tried his hand at poetry. A few samples have been preserved:
Lines Written in 1880 on the Death of an Infant Nephew
"Again we remember the dew of the morning
As shineth the sun on the gems of the night;
As fadeth each one in the beautiful morning
'All flesh is as grass' and may wither at sight.
"The Lord in His mercy, Oh why should we wonder,
Hath carried the lamb in His bosom today;
Hath plucked from the garden the bud he had planted
Nor left in the tempest to wither away.
"We bring it to Thee as the best we could offer
As low at the foot stool of mercy we bow,
Our vow we remember to do or to suffer
The will of the Lord as we tarry below.
"We grieve not as though they were lost or forgotten
Nor think of the buried as under the sod.
We know that such atoms, like 'Roses of Sharon'
Shall bloom yet again in the City of God."
Two hymns written by Burnell are included in the "Stumbling Stone Hymn Book" which Grandpa Johnson published. and which was used in his "Free Chapel." Grandpa himself wrote four of the hymns and four were composed by Uncle Arthur. One of the two products of Burnell's pen follows:
JUST THE SAME TODAY
All Jerusalem was troubled when the tidings came abroad
That the Son was born in Bethlehem, the lowly Son of God.
When He went upon His mission and proclaimed the narrow way
They were filled with consternation. It is just the same today.
He's just the same today, yes just: the same today
They were filled with consternation. He is just the same today.
Once they heard Him, greatly wondering, at the gracious words he spoke
But ere long a searching word of truth their fury did provoke
'Twas no wonder that they cried aloud, Away with him, Away!
For this Jesus was a troubler then, He's just the same today.
When, attracted by His mighty works, the multitudes draw near
They are sadly disappointed as his searching words they hear.
With the Spirit's two-edged sword of truth He scattered them away.
0, He was a peace disturber then; He's just the same today.
When a most religious Pharisee invited Him to dine
Jesus used no flowery compliments or pleasing manners fine;
But the mask of outward righteousness He rudely tore away
And the awful woes of God pronounced. He's just the same today.
When a scribe drew near or rich young man, 0 what did Jesus do?
Was the path of thorns or roses He presented to their view?
Tho' the wise and prudent now have found a more successful way,
T'was a fan that Jesus wielded; and He's just the same today.
Do you wish to know the reason of His method strange and rare?
He of all the arts of pleasing seemed to neither know or care.
0, the vile deceiving prophets soothe and flatter souls astray!
Jesus was` a faithful preacher; He is just the same today.
There are anti-Christs abounding; 0 beware of them, beware !
With their winsome ways enchanting, with their "Here is Christ", or "There"
Now you say you love the Saviour. Which one is it? Tell me, pray.
Jesus was the "Stone of Stumbling" then; He is just the same today.
In lighter vein, at the age of 67, he wrote the following lines, "Especially for Ralph," a small grandson, in a letter from Florida, March, 1928:
The prettiest tune you ever heard--
The latest hit, by a mocking bird
Just over the way, on a tall oak tree
From a swaying limb he sings to me.
At the open window he spied me here
And his clarion notes ring loud and clear
As he blends all the carols he's ever heard
From his feathered comrades-this clever bird.
Ere the night gives place to the peep of day
To the tall oak tree he wings his way
To the stars and moon he begins his song
And he keeps it going all day long.
Say, Ralph, at the dawn of a/winter's day
When you're snug in bed where you'd like to stay
And a voice you hear from the foot of the stair
Says, "Ralph, get up ! Are you deaf up there?"
And you wish t'would hush-that voice you heard,
How'd you like to be waked by a mockingbird?
One final quotation, this one in a letter to me written with birth day greetings in July, 1942, when he was in his 81st year. I include it because it shows that his characteristic self-effacement and his consideration for others were still with him at the very close of his life:
" Barzellai was a choice friend of David. It was said. of him: 'Now Barzellai was a very old than, even four score years old'. Invited by the king to come and live with him, he excused himself saying, 'How long have I to live, that I should go up to the King to Jerusalem? I am this day four score years old, and can I discern between good and evil: Can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear the voice of singing men and singing women ?' Barzellai was a remarkably preserved old gentleman. Few indeed who reach-that age know and admit that they are old and infirm enough to be a nuisance."
Here in truth was a man who lived by the Golden Rule which he loved to quote: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."
Burnell Johnson's Christian faith was so important a factor in his life and works that it deserves separate and fuller treatment.
He was a firm believer in the Holy Bible as the inspired Word of God, every word of which had been dictated by the Holy Spirit. Since he was only four years of age when his father severed his connection with the denominations, he had been brought up to believe that all man-made religious organizations were born of the devil. His own study of the Scriptures confirmed him in this belief, because these organizations separated Christians from other Christians and joined them with hypocrites and "professing" Christians who were not genuine followers of Christ.
"To take Christ's yoke," he wrote in a pamphlet he had printed for distribution, "means to repent of sin, to renounce all other masters including self, the world and the devil, and to actually .take Jesus for our Lord and Master ... No one ever found the blessings of redeeming ,grace in any other way but by surrender to Christ, obedience to Him and spiritual union with Him. Multitudes of "professors" are still in bondage to sin and have no rest of soul, plainly because they have not taken Christ's yoke ... Christ's yoke joins us in spiritual fellowship with the triune God, and impartially to all who are His. 'As Thou, Father, art in me and I in Thee, that they may be one in us. (John 17:21). Not one impenitent sinner, not one hypocrite, is included in that bond of holy fellowship, because all who take Christ's yoke are saved."
"Satan is very loath to lose any of his subjects; therefore he and his ministers have devised a great number of religious yokes as substitutes for Christ's yoke. He advises those who put on Christ's yoke that this is not sufficient. He calls his yoke 'joining the church', which he assures them is a very solemn duty. Now it is very uncomfortable to wear two yokes at once and few will submit to it for long; and the devil knows it. The usual result is that the victim soon lays off the yoke of Christ and wears only that of 'the church', which is not Christ's church at all but a man-made religious sect, whose very existence is a denial of Christ's central law of unity.
"The success of this Satanic plot is truly amazing. The New Testament says not a word about any such thing as `joining the church'. It presents no church of which a Christian can be outside. The Church is Christ's body, and to be in Christ is to be in it. Every so-called Christian sect is the result of man's attempt to join Christians together by another yoke, substituted for or added to the yoke of Christ."
Along with this opposition to all religious denominations was a second area of belief. This held that all rites and ordinances described in the Old Testament were types and shadows of things to come, which pointed to Jesus Christ and His work. With His life and crucifixion, the law has been fulfilled and there is no longer any need of those symbolic rites. Water baptism for example, is now a purposeless ceremony, since baptism by the Holy Spirit is the "one baptism" referred to in Paul's writings. Similarly, the "Lord's Supper" he considered to be nothing but the old Jewish Passover, and never intended for the Church. Not only are these rites unnecessary; their continued observance is absolutely sinful.
These were the major differences between his theology and that off other groups professing Christianity, until his removal to California brought him into contact with a group of Christians who not only espoused the above doctrines, but who added another. This was called "the security of the believer." It held that anyone who was genuinely ' `saved" can never be separated from the love of God, even though he may later lose fellowship through some sin of commission or omission. Father studied carefully the relevant Scriptures and came to the conclusion that this teaching was correct. From then on he expounded this point of view in his preaching and writing. In doing so he estranged some of his old friends and associates back east, who took sharp issue with him and who still considered this doctrine to be thoroughly false and highly dangerous.
One of his last tracts was entitled "Is Salvation Safe?" In this he compared the Christian's spiritual relationship to his heavenly Father to a child's physical relationship to his parents. He argued that a person who has been "born again" through acceptance of Christ can no more terminate his son-ship to God by any subsequent act of his, than can a natural son change his relationship to his father by any act of his own. He did, however, present a stern warning of the danger of mistaking a superficial, counterfeit salvation for the real thing.
In a letter dated February, 1943, when he was approaching his 82nd birthday, he discussed some of the practical problems faced by any group of Christians who attempt to carry on an orderly program of worship and teaching while at the same time avoiding the evils of a man-made organization. These included the problem of identifying the group and their place of worship without giving them a name, and how to provide for a legal title to the meeting house used by the group. He spoke of the experience in Toledo where he had been the leader of such a group:
"The term 'Johnsonite Church' originated in this wise: a census taker asked a neighbor what kind of a church it was and was told, 'A Johnsonite church'. Thus it was entered in the census records… I am sure it was by unanimous consent of all interested parties that the legal title was vested in myself alone, as the congregation was not a legally recognized entity.
"As to the practical necessity of having a temporal organization in order to properly acquire and maintain temporal property, the fact is that the Christian Church as such never acquired, owned or erected a church building or has other temporal property. This is -not a wild statement but a sober, historical fact. It is recorded that the first Christian church building was erected in A.D. 220 at Rome in the reign of Alexander Severus, the first emperor who favored the Christians. The entire absence of any such supposed advantage as a comfortable and commodious place (easily acquiring the sanctity of a religious shrine) proved to be no detriment to the cause of Christ. During that period the 'light of the world' shone its brightest and Christian martyrs were numbered by the millions.
"Every enlightened student of ecclesiastical history knows that in exact proportion as the spiritual church described in Ephesians 1 and 2, and 5:25-32, (also I Peter 2:5-10) was gradually supplanted in public recognition by that politico-religious institution known as "the organized church," spiritual qualities faded out and it became a purely temporal and human institution, affiliated with and patronized by the state and in Rome eventually supplanted by the state. It became the most atrocious and wicked tyranny on earth, with nothing Christian about it except the label.
"Christ's church, as revealed in the New Testament, is absolutely unique and different from all other institutions in that. -while it is composed of human beings. its existence is wholly independent of temporal conditions. Hence it is correctly called 'a spiritual house, budded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit'. Its culmination is expressed in Acts 4:32: 'The multitude of them that believed 'were of one heart and of one soul'. In all the inspired record of this unique institution there is no provision made for its material accessories. As an institution it had none! To Satan's counterfeit Church they are essential as they are to all pagan religions.''
While Father was firm and confident in the above beliefs and was fully prepared to defend them with the Scriptures, he never was one to make personal attacks on those whose beliefs differed from his own.
When Father felt called upon to express views that were in conflict with
those of other Christians he always did so in a spirit of love and
tolerance. This spirit was widely recognized. I recall. for sample, that
Samuel Harshman, from whom Lyman Johnson had parted in anger in 187/2. many
years later invited Burnell to participate in a series of meetings in
Sullivan. Illinois. These were services held in connection with the opening
of a fine new chapel to be used by the undenominational group which Mr.
Harshman headed. Burnell knew about the rift that had occurred between his
father and Harshman. He himself differed with Harshman on some points of
scriptural interpretation. But this did not cause him to disfellowship a
fellow Christian. In fact he publicly recommended Mr. Harshman's published
sermons, and reprinted several in The Search-Light.
During.the years when Father was leader of the group meeting at Grace and Truth Chapel in Toledo, there were numerous occasions when views were expressed there at variance with his own. He listened to the views of others, he presented Scripture in support of his own, but he neither left the group because of those differences, nor did he denounce those who opposed him.
Recognizing as believers in Christ many of those who disagreed with him on points of doctrine or practice, he often said, "Any man who is good enough for God is good enough for me." While, for example, he felt that it was wrong to join any man-made religious organization, he conceded that some members of denominations were saved and devout Christians, and therefore his brethren in Christ.
When the sons of Lyman H. Johnson, in his declining years, tried to get him to adopt a different course than he was pursuing, he refused to consider their suggestions and stubbornly continued on his course. How different the spirit of his son Burnell, who in his seventies added a new tenet to his religious beliefs - "security of the believer" - that was a radical departure from the view he had held for many years. Burnell was open to new ideas even in his old age. The fact that he was willing to admit that he had previously been wrong is striking evidence of his own intellectual honesty, his humility, his lack of a sectarian spirit.
Unlike his father, his ministry was never his source of livelihood. He was strictly a "lay preacher," earning his living in the building business. Of necessity it was a part-time ministry, whereas his father, Lyman H. Johnson, had made the Christian ministry his full-time occupation.
Although he used both the printed word and preaching, to advance the
cause of Christ, his paper, "The Search-Light," was published at
less frequent intervals and over a shorter period than was Lyman Johnson's
"The Stumbling Stone." Also it never had as wide a circulation . .
. less than a thousand, as compared with his father's eight to ten thousand.
Upon those, however, who did come within his orbit, he exerted a profound
influence for good. His was a quieter voice and less eloquent. But the
beauty of his spirit, the love of God and love for his fellow men, shone not
only through his words, but also through his life.
SAYINGS AND QUOTATIONS
Just as this story was going to press, my brother Lyman suggested inclusion of Father's favorite quotations and some of his sage and pithy observations. Various members of the congregation with whom Father had worshipped during his retirement years in California were asked to send in any of these sayings they had written down or could recall. It is a measure of the impress that Burnell Johnson had made upon them, that, eighteen years after his death, so many of the things he had said were still remembered. They are reproduced below:
"A good definition of a hypocrite is one that does the right thing with a wrong motive."
"We should have an open ear and an open heart to the Word of God. This is a test of a spiritual person or a spiritual assembly."
"Real salvation makes us honest in dealing with God and Man."
"Those who are soft and sweet toward sin get angry at God's revealing Word."
"Idolatory is the substitution of something else for God." "When a man loves the things God hates, he is an ungodly man."
"There is no power in the world today so potent to blind the minds of people as artificial sanctity."
"The Bible is a serious Book and it deals with serious matters."
"I Rather be right than flattered."
"Ephesians 4 contains instructions for the individual - for the family -- for domestic and business life."
"During Christ's earthly ministry he did everything to discourage pride and ambition."
"Teaching theoretical truth without first having had a renovation of the heart is worthless."
"When Christ is our Lord, we recognize His authority in everything concerning our lives."
"God's grace is intended for actual use in hard places."
"The greatest tragedy in the world today is religion without righteousness."
"Think of the words in a hymn as you sing them. Are you singing the truth or a lie?"
"Sin is blinding. Only when it ripens do we see its corrupt characteristics."
"Millions of people in this world are resting their souls on fraudulent life insurance."
"Sin consists less in outward acts than in the attitude of the heart toward Christ."
"The Bible does not deal in glittering generalities but rather in unmistakable personalities."
"The most dangerous lie always comes dressed in religious clothes."
"He who wears the livery of heaven to deceive the souls of men is Public Enemy Number One."
"A true minister of Christ assumes no responsibility for the results of speaking God's Word.
"Denominational preachers are 'called'. Paul was 'sent'."
"The true Church has never had a physical building. Acts 7:48; 17:24,25."
"Religion is Satan's bargain counter - you step up and take your choice."
"Today God says 'Come'. Some day God will say 'Depart'."
"Ignorance concerning the Christ of the Bible is no greater in darkest Africa than it is among the masses in enlightened America."
"A fretful, care-worn, worried Christian is an awful advertisement for Christ."
"What we are taught of God we are taught alike. He does not teach one of His children one thing and another the opposite."
"What this world needs is the Gospel in shoes: living examples of what it will do."
"The Word of God is so vast that we know only a little of it around the fringes."
"The Word of God is intended for every day practical living."
"There is a famine in the land-not of bread, but of hearing the word of the Lord."
"All of the Word of God is 'gospel' to a Christian." "Ingratitude is a root of sin."
"Let no one think that they can control their children until they have first learned to control themselves."
"The Gospel not only saves from the guilt of sin, but also from the power and penalty of sin. Some day we shall be saved from the effects of sin."
"Grace is strength and strength is grace."
"If you want to know how Christians are joined together, look at
your sock! -- 'knit together in loved'."
"My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me." John 10:27
"He that is of God heareth God's words." John 8:47
"The Word of God is quick and powerful." Hebrews 4:12
"To be carnally minded is death." Romans 8:6
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