Volume 3, Number 8
The early day preachers in the Ozark hills were often men who like most others farmed in the locality tilling the rocky soil to earn their daily bread and preaching on Sundays. They received no pay for their work in spreading the gospel, nor did they expect any.
One such preacher was Uncle Harvey Coble who had a homestead not far from Cedar Creek, Uncle Harvey was a kindly man with blue eyes and a white beard. He would ride a white mule on his trips to the meetings and to the general store which was owned by two of his sons, Walter and Bedford. The boys bought out George Van Zandt and around the turn of the Century.
Uncle Harvey had been to the gold fields of California during the days of "Forty-Nine" and had returned with a small fortune. Then in a few years came the War and Uncle Harvey joined the Army.
How uncertain one's life could be in those days, he once related. He had entered a thicket to answer a call of nature when suddenly there was the sharp crack of a percussion cap.
A "bushwacker" had taken a mean advantage of Harvey, but his rifle had failed to fire and before Uncle Harvey could jump to his feet and pick up his own musket there was only the snapping of brush as the bushwacker took off for parts unknown and fast, where it would be safer to examine the priming of his squirrel rifle.
So Uncle Harvey's life seems to have been spared through his trust in God and the bushwackers failure to keep his "powder dry".
The hill people would like to tell a joke on a preacher such as the one they told one time on Uncle Harvey who, while preaching on the subject of Heaven, a fly had lit on his Bible. Pausing in his sermon he exclaimed "Now my chances of going to Heaven are just as sure as I can catch that fly." At which he was said to have made a snap at it with his hand... and then "Oh, Oh, it's gone."
Besides these local preachers who were well-known as they would preach at the different meeting houses, it would some times happen that one or more preachers from outside the hills would travel through and hold revival meetings along the way. All would be welcome and the meeting house would be filled to capacity.
When Indian Jim, as he called himself, came into the locality to hold a revival meeting he was welcomed as all the others were. Where he came from did not matter and no one had inquired so long as he could preach the Good word which he proved able to do.
Indian Jim it seemed had forsaken the ways of his ancestors and was following in the footsteps of his white brethern. He had come to these backwoods and been made welcome to the homes of the different brethern, among them that of Walker Creed.
It happened that my brother, Henry, had traded Walker a double barreled muzzle loading gun sometime before. It would have been hard to say where this gun had first come from. It had probably swapped a good many times before Henry had bought it for the sum of five dollars. It was evidently of English make with twist steel barrels. On the ribs, between them, was stamped the words:
"London fine twist" so the gun had probably jouneyed far, but its traveling days were not yet ended.
These revival meetings being held in the evenings and Sundays, Indian Jim having to pass the time borrowed the shot gun from Walker to hunt a few squirrels.
Walker lived a mile or so from White River and in this direction Indian Jim had wandered no doubt pondering deeply on his coming sermon.
Reaching the river bank he found a boat, not a birch bark as used by his ancestors, but it would answer his purpose and may have been placed there by providence. Indian Jim cast off and as evening was coming on drifted and paddled down stream in the direction of "Arkansas" and out of the lives of the hill folks. His "borrowed" gun may have come in handy in performing "shot gun" weddings, which were not unknown even in those early days.
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