You might remember Kedzie Noble Winnie, the young man baptized in the Bering Sea in 1902, by Edward G. Cannon. His was the first known baptism in Alaska. Kedzie assisted Elder Cannon in preaching the gospel in Nome until Elder Cannon passed away in 1910 – and now we know that he continued as a missionary even after he was left alone.
On 8 January 1912, Elder Winnie wrote to Salt Lake with his report on recent activities in Alaska. A Methodist minister had recently appeared there, he said, a Rev. Baldwin, whose first sermons concerned the wickedness of the Mormons and supported the Spaulding theory of the origin of the Book of Mormon. Elder Winnie reported that the preacher had served him by the laying on of hands – that is, when Elder Winnie challenged Rev. Baldwin’s claims about the Book of Mormon, Rev. Baldwin took hold of Elder Winnie and physically pushed him out of the building.
Another of his woes was the fact that the editor of The Daily Nugget allowed Rev. Baldwin to publish his attacks on the Mormons in that paper, but would not allow Elder Winnie the privilege of responding. But the competing Daily Nome Industrial Worker – a miners’ newspaper, sponsored by the radical Industrial Workers of the World (the “Wobblies”) – did open its columns to the young Mormon, and Elder Winnie did his best there to defend the Church. (Threadjack: I wonder what Ezra Taft Benson would have said about that?)
On other subjects, Elder Winnie wrote,
I am not holding regular meetings but am visiting as the way opens, introducing the gospel to the people and circulating the following literature: all of Volume 14, Improvement Era, bound in parts 1 and 2; Liahona, the Elders’ Journal; “Reminiscences of Joseph Smith, the Prophet”; the Book of Mormon; the Doctrine and Covenants; The Great Apostasy; the semi-weekly [Deseret] News; Lives of Our Leaders; tracts from the Southern States Mission; Added Upon; Missouri Persecutions; “Rays of Living Light”; “Joseph Smith’s own Story,” etc. I am also sending what literature I can to those who request it, in the outlying points in the district.
I have found in my experience that it is what we give and what we do that counts for more than what we say. I rejoice that the beginning of this year, 1912, finds the work of the Lord rolling on with greater momentum than ever before, and that in the midst of many weaknesses, the Lord has seen fit, up to this hour, to strengthen me to labor in his name in defense of all he has revealed in these latter days.
Since yielding obedience to the gospel and receiving the priesthood, I have always felt that I am never quite alone, but that there is a power, though invisible, all powerful, reserved for me and for his servants, to meet every emergency. May he who knows our hearts continue to bless and strengthen us for every duty and obligation as they come to pass.
Remember, up to this time Elder Winnie had never lived among other Mormons beyond the small handful in Nome, and had not yet been to the temple. He was simply a young man, thoroughly converted, doing his best to warn his neighbor.