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Without Purse or Scrip in Texas: 19 March – 31 March 1900

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 26, 2012

(Previous installment)

Monday, March 19, 1900

When we got up it was clear as could be. As we had to lay over and wait for my shoes, we went out and helped Bro. Sang work. The first thing we did was to grind an axe which took us some time as it was awful dull. I made a large blister on my hand turning the grindstone. After dinner we went out into the field and helped make fence all afternoon. We chopped down trees, hauled trees, and laid the rails into the fence. At sundown we quit and started for the house. After supper we sat and talked until 11 p.m. when I was mouth in prayer and we retired to rest. My eyes were sore. Sister Sang fixed me some eye water which I put in. They felt quite good the next morning.

Tuesday, March 20, 1900

The weather nice and clear. After eating breakfast we went out into the field and laid up rail fence. Elder Morgan and I made the fence while Brother Sang hauled the rails. At 12 o’clock we went to the house and ate dinner. I then wrote a letter while Elder Morgan patched his garments. We talked with Sister Sang, tried to show her the necessity of being baptized, but she didn’t seem to have the faith. At 4 o’clock we left them to visit among some of the other friends. Bro. Dewire went to the post office and brought me 7 letters from my folks. We walked over to Bro. Ogden’s place where we stayed overnight. Elder Morgan gave them a very thorough explanation upon the gospel.

Wednesday, March 21, 1900 (Walnut Grove)

We talked with Sister Ogden until 9 a.m., when we left, going out into the field where the man was plowing, talking with him for a short while. Then we went on to Bro. Sang’s and Bro. Young’s but they were not either one at home so we did not get to talk with them. We went on to the old schoolhouse, where we stayed for five hours, patching our clothes and writing letters to our folks. After we got through we walked up to Bro. Bridger’s where we found them out in the field planting corn. I took hold of one of the plows and covered several rows of the corn. We stayed with them overnight, talking upon one thing and another, having a good time with the family. We had a good rest.

Thursday, March 22, 1900

The weather was awful cloudy. After having a good night’s rest and talking with the family until 11 a.m., we bid them goodby, going into town. We posted our mail. I sent a pair of shoes to my father. While we were going into town there were some young men standing in the street. They began to holler at us to draw our attention, but we never looked around. We went on as though we had never heard them. After we got through at the office we walked out two miles south of town to a friend’s place where we stayed overnight. It began to rain a little before dark and was raining when we went to bed at 11. We talked with the family upon the gospel, having a good time with them. I also received a cravat from the office.

Friday, March 23, 1900

It rained nearly all night but had stopped when we got up. After breakfast I started for town to get my shoes that I had sent for. The roads were awful muddy. I had not gone far when a man caught me with a wagon. He asked me to get in and I rode to town. I received my things, then returning to Bro. McClary’s, we bid them goodby starting on south. After we had walked about three miles we got out into the piney woods where there wasn’t a family to be found. It began to rain and it came down hard. We were out in it about two hours before we came to any house, but we finally came to one, but we were wet through. It rained off and on all the afternoon and a big part of the night. The man said the more he studied about the Mormons the further he got from them.

Saturday, March 24, 1900

When we got up in the morning it was still raining, rained nearly all night. After breakfast we talked with Bro. Sheffield. He seemed to be interested when the elders were in to his place before, but someone had been talking to him and he seemed to be getting further away than closer. I wrote a letter to B.V. [Bunkerville] to one of my friends. After dinner it began to break. The clouds separated and the sun came out. At 5 p.m. we walked over to Br. Henley’s place where we stayed overnight. They seemed to be interested. We talked to them until 9 o’clock, when the family got sleepy, so we held prayers with them, then retiring to rest, having a good night’s sleep.

Sunday, March 25, 1900

The weather was still cloudy and Sunday morning had come again. We did not eat any breakfast. The people thought it a little peculiar to see us fast every Sunday. At 11 o’clock we walked about 2 miles to the church house where a Methodist minister was going to preach. The man failed to come so Bro. Henley asked us to go back home with him which we did. After dinner Elder Morgan read to the family out of the Book of Mormon, which they were very much interested in. While he was doing this, I wrote a couple of letters to my friends. After we had eaten supper and the family had all sat down, they wanted to hear us sing some. We entertained them until 11 o’clock, when we all retired to rest for the night.

Monday, March 26, 1900

The weather was still looking bad. But about 10 a.. We left Bro. Henley’s, starting south. We had not gone very far when it began to sprinkle on us and by the time we got to Swansville, it was raining quite hard. We stayed there for about two hours, sent in our reports, but we found that it was not going to stop and we had about 8 miles to walk. We started out. The roads were awful muddy and the rain was coming hard enough to wet us through. I slipped down once and got my knee all over mud. We reached Bro. Allen’s at half past six and stayed with him overnight. We talked with them until 10, then sang some songs and held prayers with them and retired to rest, having a good night’s rest.

Tuesday, March 27, 1900 (Henry Hill District)

The rain had stopped, but it was still cloudy. After breakfast we continued our labors among the people. We traveled through the woods to McBride’s where we thought we would get to baptize him. But he was not home so we went on. About four miles further, we came to a place by the name of Robbins’. He began to say that one thing and another was done away and maligning the leaders of the Church. We told him to prove what he had said. He ordered us off from his place. We went to Bro. Geary’s where we ate dinner. After talking with them a while, we went on, coming to the bayou. We found it to be all over the country so we could not get over. We came back to Bro. Geary’s where we stayed overnight, talking with the family upon the gospel. We had a good rest.

Wednesday, March 28, 1900

We continued our journey after breakfast. We thought that Bro. Geary would hitch up his team and take us across the river but he didn’t seem to want to. So we went on, came to the other creek. Hunting around for some time, we finally got across by walking logs and wading through considerable mud and water. After walking for some time we came to Bro. Roberts’, an old friend of the elders. He was not home and his wife would not ask us in. So we went on four miles further to Bro. Shared. He wasn’t home so we waited until he came. I took a severe cramp and, going out into the woods, called upon the Lord to rebuke the pain, then I took a little oil, and in ten minutes I did not have a bit of pain, showing that the Lord would draw night unto me if I would draw nigh unto him.

Thursday, March 29, 1900 (Macedona District)

After breakfast Bro. Shared put a patch on Elder Morgan’s shoe and while he was doing that Elder Morgan fixed a bee [?] for him. It was 12 o’clock before they got through. We then ate a little dinner, after which we were going to go but we got to talking and showed Bro. Shared the necessity of being baptized. He decided to come forth and embrace the truths that had been set before him, so we went to the branch with him and his family. On the banks we held a short service, then Elder Morgan took him down in the water and baptized him. After they had put some dry clothes on he sat on a log and I, W.L. Jones, confirmed him a member in the Church. This was one of the happiest parts of my life. The spirit of the Lord rested upon me so that I felt to rejoice that one of His children had desired to be baptized.

Friday, March 30, 1900

The weather had cleared off and was quite cold and there was a north wind a-blowing. After breakfast Elder Morgan had to dry his clothes before the fire. At 9 o’clock we bid the folks goodby, starting for San Augustine. We walked about 6 miles when we came to Simon Green’s place, a nigger. He was a good friend of the elders. So we went into his place and had dinner. Good many of the white people could take lessons from him. At 1 p.m. we went on, passing through Macune, walking about 5 miles when we found we were on the wrong road. So we got directions through the bottom and timber and finally made it over to Bro. McClary by tramping through the mud. After supper we talked with the family until 10 o’clock when we held prayers and retired.

Saturday, March 31, 1900

The sky was nice and clear and was quite cold. We had to walk quite brisk to keep warm. We went into town, received our mail. We found a letter there from Pres. Hunsaker telling us to come to Gum Springs as quick as we could. After getting through at the office we walked 6 miles out to Bro. Sang’s, where we found them well. After eating dinner I went down to the branch, heated some water, and washed all over, and also washed my dirty clothes, getting through a while before sundown. We came back to the house. I wrote a letter to my folks at home and also had a shave. After supper we talked with the folks again upon one thing and another until bedtime. Then I took the lead in prayer and we retired to our beds of rest, having a good comfortable night’s sleep.

(To be continued)



7 Comments »

  1. Ardis, have you seen much evidence for the weekly fast among missionaries or other members?

    Also, “took a little oil.” I want to imagine him with a flask in his coat pocket.

    Comment by J. Stapley — February 26, 2012 @ 11:30 am

  2. I knew you’d see that line, J.!

    No, I don’t think I’ve *ever* seen references to weekly fasts in any other record, any place, any period. It really surprises me, too, given how physically demanding this kind of mission had to be. A monthly fast would seem to be an extraordinary devotion under the circumstances, but weekly? Well.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 26, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

  3. The only other time I have seen something like this was in Martineau’s diary. During a period of dramatic poverty, his family fasted weekly because they didn’t have the money for food. Is it possible that the missionaries were in a similar situation?

    Comment by J. Stapley — February 26, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

  4. Don’t think so. We see over and over that the people who give them lodging offer them breakfast and are surprised that they turn it down. They miss meals from time to time when nobody is willing to feed them, but it seems a deliberate fast when they turn down Sunday breakfast when it’s offered.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 26, 2012 @ 5:16 pm

  5. Elder J Brooks (same mission, same time, just to the south) also fasted Sundays.

    From my annotations of his diary: “Elder Brooks observed the Sabbath by avoiding travel, studying the gospel, and fellowshipping. He also fasted every Sunday, usually just for breakfast, in observance of the monthly “general fast” and a weekly mission fast, except when he was sick, traveling, or at conference. Some Sundays the notation is simply “2 m.” Others he says, “Didn’t eat any breakfast,” but most often he records it specifically: “We fasted this morning, being Sunday morning.”

    “He records two special fasts: 30-31 May and 27 July 1900. In the first case it seems they were preparing for a priesthood blessing: “A man came in and asked us to come and administer to his daughter. We told him we would come the next day. We fasted the rest of the day.” The second case has, as is typical of a mission, no shortage of possible stimuli: at least one of them had been sick during most of the past month; Elder Decker was depressed; the rain was making it “so wet we could do nothing. Couldn’t get any people out to preach to;” and the Coles “seemed to be thoroughly converted but they didn’t have courage enough to be baptized.” Whatever his motivations were that Friday, he fasted again that Sunday.

    “The mission fast I deduce from Elder Brooks’ journal: “Being Sunday and fast day for _us_, we observed it,” “Being Sunday, it was _our_ duty to fast…” (11, 25 Mar 00, my italics); The 1896 Northern States Mission letter (L. Tom Perry Special Collections, BYU) also suggests a weekly mission fast. When he doesn’t fast he usually explains why: “It was our fast day but we didn’t fast as we expected we would have to travel.” e.g., July 1900; 8 Apr 00; he doesn’t record fasting for about a third of the Sundays.”

    Comment by Edje Jeter — February 26, 2012 @ 10:17 pm

  6. A quick search in the James Duffin diary (same mission, same time, working a little to the North; will be called as Mission President later that year) yields a “day appointed for the general fast for the mission” on 1900 Feb 10 Sun (not a first Sunday) as well as “the regular fast day of the Church” (1900 Jan 07 Sun; a first Sunday).

    I haven’t analyzed the diary specifically for fasting; maybe a different pattern falls out on closer examination.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — February 26, 2012 @ 10:30 pm

  7. My grandfather [Heber Nephi Folkman] in the same mission at the same time, does not indicate fasting on other than the first Sunday, at least as far as I can see in a quick glance. But them maybe he liked his breakfast , a genetic trait that I inherited, I guess.

    Comment by kevinf — February 27, 2012 @ 10:10 am

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