Vol. V, No. 3, Winter 1992

Fall 1988


Interviews conducted in 1961 by Robert K. Gilmore

"Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof "

When I was baptized, I was baptized the twenty-second day of February. There was snow on the ground and ice on the crick, and they's thirty-three of us baptized that day, and I walked about as far as from here to the bridge down there just in my sock feet, and they cut the ice and moved the ice back to make room to baptize us, and it didn't make a one of us sick, and there were thirty-three of us.

Mrs. H. A. Hamilton, Mountain Grove,
Wright County, Missouri
from an interview

One revival preacher carried us back to the Flood, running across the rostrum to pound on the wall (the door of the Ark) as he screamed, "Noe-y! Noe-y, let me in! Let me in!" But Noah refused to hear his plea. He dropped to his knees, fighting the raging waters around him, and then, arms wide, still on his knees, he made the plea that all who were not uneasy for their souls come knock at the Ark to which Jesus would gladly admit us.

from Joseph Nelson, Backwoods Teacher

In some communities it was pretty hard to have even a religious service without being disturbed more or less. Of course I was a Church of God preacher--they called us Holiness back there--and our preaching wasn't received very good among the other churches. We got a lot of persecution. We had women preachers. They resented this very much. Some do yet, but not too many things change. Women preaching was looked upon then as being out of their place altogether. So they would organize their forces, and where they couldn't get us out in open debate, they'd try to run us out of the country, you know. I've had eggs and rocks and frogs and I don't know what all thrown at me while I's preaching. About the funniest thing that ever happened to me was, I was preaching in a place one night. Some fellow throwed something in and hit me up the side of the head and felt wet and cold. I thought it was mud at first. I didn't pay much attention. I took my handkerchief and wiped my neck and went right ahead with my preaching, you know, to keep from disturbing the congregation. Pretty soon a couple of young ladies sittin' out in front looking down and rustling and laughing, and I looked down, and there was a couple of frogs hoppin' out there. They had hit me up the side of the head with frogs. This came in through the windows. Well, I had eggs the same way. That didn't amount to very much, but our persecution in those days was pretty severe, in a lot of ways.

The Reverend F. J. Light, Mountain
Grove, Wright County, Missouri
from an interview

Henry Jenkins of the southwest part of this county is deranged. It is supposed excitement over religion is the cause of his mind losing its balance. He attended two protracted meetings in succession, making several weeks since which time he has been entirely crazy.

Ozark County (Missouri) News,
November 19, 1896

We have received from a minister in Eureka Springs an offer to hold a meeting here. Think of it, brethren, a minister offering to preach for us in this time of scarcity. For years we have been left during the winter time to wander in heathen darkness, and only when spring chickens, sweet potatoes, and other luxuries were the bill of fare could we hope for any ray of light.

Cassville (Missouri) Republican,
February 23, 1899

(State law required that the taxpayers of a district vote approval for use of the school house for purposes of worship. Occasionally this permission would be denied).

Was it not while church was being held in the school house that Mr. Lawrence Ross got his saddle cut up? Not to say anything about Mr. Petterhoff's saddle and he preaching for the people. Was it not Bert Sallen's horse's tail that was sheared?...Was the flue of the school house not torn down while church was being carried on in it? After the people voted church out of the school house, did not the church come and break open the doors of the school house and go in there and last but not least was the school house not burned and who did it?

Houston (Missouri) Herald,
March 6, 1902

Well, they'd take these converts to the river and baptize them and then everything broke loose when that happened. They'd shout, them old women, and the old men, they'd go wild too, a-hollerin' and the tears just a-pourin', not of grief, of joy. Like the Lord said, "Joy unspeakable and full of Glory!"

Uncle Joe Cranfield, Kissee Mills,
Taney County, Missouri
from an interview


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