The UnitedBrethrenChurchwas just getting well on its feet when I first came to Parkersburg. The building of their brick church had been a heavy job, and they werestruggling hard to pay for it.
Theirpastor at that time, 1880, was Dr. Zebedee Warner,one of the most intellectual men in Parkersburgat that time. I greatly admired hismental and social gifts, and he was a reformer by instinct. He always was on the right side of everymoral question. Few men cared to meethim in debate.
Hewas rare company. I loved to hear him inthe preacher’s meeting, or in a church service. On the platform he was a power to be counted with. When he attacked the liquor traffic he simplymade the fur fly. When his browwrinkled, and his eyes blazed, the machinery under his hair was workingfaultlessly. We were pastors at the sametime there, and about the same time we were made presiding elders. We rode together on the trains Saturdays andMondays, and had many hours of delightful and helpful converse [sic].
Value of Good Reading
Heand his good wife celebrated their silver wedding in Parkersburg. I selected one of the very choicest books in my library, and took italong as my silver gift. I had written onthe fly leaf this dedication: “Silver and gold have I none” (to boast of) “butsuch as I have” (the most of) “give I unto thee.” I knew that such a book meant more to Warnerthan a handfull [sic] of silver for, if he had thesilver much of it would go for books. Henot only read books greedily, but also wrote books. His life of Rev. Jacob Bachtell,one of his first books, I greatly enjoyed. Sometime ago I sent my copy to the library of the West VirginiaWesleyan, with about a thousand other volumes. Hundreds of retired preachers who have good big libraries should dothis.
Dr.Warner was elected missionary secretary of his aggressive church, and went tolive in Nebraska. Of course in travelling[sic] over that broad west he was much exposed in all sorts of weather, andbroke down and died while still far from being an old man. Had he lived he would doubtless have beenmade a bishop.
Ihave often wished that there were some sort of syringe with which one couldpump the physical vitality out of some big, strong, worthless fellow, andinject into a slender man of low vitality and mentality. What a wise use of physical strength thatwould be. It could be wisely used onWarner.
Rev.S. J. Graham followed Dr. Warner as pastor of the United Brethren church. A devoted earnest Christianminister. [sic] He was rather spent and worn when he came here. In revivals he had preached and sang himselfaway. He had poured out his strengthlike water at the altar of the church. He knew nothing about spring himself. It is a sad sight to behold a noble minister a burned out man. Graham had been a power in other days. He went west and died out there.
Amongthe laymen of this hardworking church I recall Brother McCandlessand his son-in-law, Charley Mayhall (ask Jimmy Bryan)and the storekeeper, Brother Spence.
Bishop Weekley and U. B. Church
BishopWeekly and I had become acquainted long before this while we both were callowyouths in the ministry. When I think ofall that he has gone through and endured, I am filled with amazement that he isstill among us. Like myselfhis health is not firm. We both have toomuch heart. I trust that he soon may beabout again. It is a greatdisappointment to him that his physician would not consent for him to attendUnited Brethren General conference recently in session in Buffalo, N. Y. This would have been his eleventh session,covering a period of more than forty years.
Iloved the United Brethren church, and profoundly respect her. She is true and devoted to the faith of thefathers. Her ministers preach the dealold Gospel of Jesus Christ. She is notat all pestered with modernism. Is too busy in the great work of saving men to look about for asubstitute for the Gospel of the Divine Son of God. Her work for many years was among plain andlowly people: but she is now receiving her reward. The sons and daughters of these plain peoplebecome educated, and have progressed exceedingly.
Sheis building some handsome brick and stone churches and parsonages of comfortall over the country; and her colleges and theological seminary arewell-sustained. Her publishing house in Dayton, Ohio,is a magnificent and stately building. Iwas converted at her altar in a rude little schoolhouse, and shall always begrateful to her—May God continue to bless and pamperher!
Ivisited New Haven, West Virginia, my boyhood home, about adozen years ago. An old lady friend, amember of this church, said to me: “George, I have never forgiven you forleaving the United Brethren church, although it took place about fifty yearsago.” I smiled and replied: “Margaret,I’ll give you fifty more years to get over it.” I had been reared in the Methodist church and, when there came to me theunmistakable call to preached [sic] the Gospel, Inaturally became a Methodist preacher. Have never regrettedmy choice.
WhenI became a pastor in Parkersburgthere were two Presbyterian churches, the old building, near the railroadbridge almost opposite the old Methodist parsonage, and a newer structure onthe higher ground, midway between the Baltimore & Ohio station and theKanawha river [sic].
Thepastor of the old church was Dr. Loyal Young, a remarkable man at that timealmost eighty years old. He came from Pennsylvania many yearsbefore. He was a scholarly, culturedman, the author of a number of books. Near me, in Newark,is an able Presbyterian minister, bearing the honored name of Dr. Loyal YoungGraham. He was born in Butler, Pa.,when his father was a pastor there. Dr.Young had served this Butlerchurch for many years and his name there still was an ointment pouredforth. I had in my library one of Dr.Young’s books, which I recently presented to his namesake here, Dr. Graham.
Asuccessful and profitable union revival was conducted in Parkersburgby a famous evangelist named Hammond. All of the churches gathered in a great manymembers. One choice family decided tojoin Dr. Young’s church, but they wanted to be baptized by immersion and thePresbyterian church doesn’t practice this form ofbaptism. So there was a hitch. One day Dr. Young had an original idea whichgreatly pleased him, and forthwith he sauntered forth to call on his goodfriend, Dr. Carter of the Baptist church. He laid his problem before Carter and asked him if he would not, as apersonal favor, immerse this Presbyterian family for him.
Thoseof you who knew Carter can readily imagine how this unique proposition wouldtickle him. In the mimitable[sic] way of his, he put his head on one side and solemnly replied, “Dr. Young,I appreciate your difficult situation. We endeavor to do our own job of washing as best we can, but we don’ttake in washings.” Poor Dr. Young!
Inthe other Presbyterian pulpit was Dr. Hamner, anenergetic, enterprising man, who worked pretty hard at his job, but he did nothave the happy faculty of getting on well with people who did not understandhis way. Then, too, he lived away out inthe edge of the city—I suppose it’s in the city now—and people had to walk along distance in order to call on him for any needed service. So, after they looked up some other minister.
Inour minister’s meeting, on Monday evenings, Dr. Hamnerinvariably reported large congregations, utterly regardless of theweather. We could not understandthis. His church was small and hismembership limited. One Monday morning,Dr. Hamner being absent—I explained it to the meetingon this wise. A few days before this, inpassing the church I noticed that the doors were open. I stepped in to look about. It was a small room, not a great many pews,but one thing about these pews caught my attention. The end of the pews stood up about as high asthe heads of the people in them, and these tops were rounded off about the sizeof a man’s head. Dr. Hamner,being rather near-sighted, counted all of these pew-ends as members of hiscongregation. Of course the weather didnot materially affect the size of his congregation. Those faithful pew-heads were in theirplaces, rain or shine. After this,whenever Dr. Hamner spoke in our meeting of his largecongregations, the ministers present for some reason, would look at me andsmile.
Onesummer Sunday evening, a few years ago, I preached in a Newark Methodistchurch. At the close of the service Dr. Hamner walked forward and greeted me. We sat down and had a good old Parkersburg talk. He was visiting his son who is the pastor ofa nearby Dutch Reformed church. Thisson—a middle-aged man—is stout and fair like his good mother. Dr. Hamner was talland slender, and of rather dark complexion. What a variety there is in the Christian ministry. Dr. Young was followed by a fine young mannamed Powell.
When I was apastor in Vancouver, State of Washington,on the bank of the Columbia river, a few miles from Portland, Oregon, thePresbyterian general assembly met in Portland. One Sunday Dr. Moffatt,a Wheeling pastor, afterward president ofWashington-Jefferson college, preached for me—Mr.Stapleton of Parkersburgaccompanied him. They went with me todinner and we talked West Virginiawithout let or hindrance.
Iwas not very well acquainted in the Episcopal churchso I can’t write very freely about these good people. They had a strong church, as far as wealthand social standing went, and good-sized membership. There were many devout people amongthem. Their rector, Dr. Gibson was agenial, cultured gentleman. He mingledfreely among the professional men, a goodly number of these were members of hisflock. I think that, in after years, hebecame a bishop in Virginia.
Thebishop of West Virginia, Dr. George W. Peterkin, resided in Parkersburg. He was an exceedingly active, busy man. Because of his efficiency some of theyouthful pun on his name, “In the other churches many of their ministers can’tdo things, but the Episcopal church is all right, for Peter-Kin.” Dr. Hamner gave adinner at his home to the ministers of the city. This good bishop and I fell into a warmdiscussion about the liquor traffic. Hestood for high license, and I for prohibition. We had a warm time. As we wereleaving, I asked Dr. Carter why he did not help me in attending to thebishop. He quietly replied: “I saw thatyou were doing well without any help.” If the bishop were living today I have no doubt that he would be anardent prohibitionist. Bishop Manning ofNew York andBishop Lines of Jew Jersey and Canon Chase of Gotham,all are hearty prohibitionists. Theirministers, pretty generally, take the same position.
Aminister by the name of Woods lived in Parkersburg,and preached, from time to time, in small surrounding churches. In one of our meetings he rose to speak. To illustrate his point he was describing abattle between the Romans and some other nation. He was using elegant, classic language inpainting the conflict. He went on andon. All at once he discovered that hewas speaking at too great length. Heabruptly blurted out: “Suffice it to say that the Romans got away with ‘em!” And then, somepreachers smiled in meeting.
East Orange,N. J.
Retrieved and transcribed by Nanci Headley Kotowski from theJune 2, 1925 issue of The ParkersburgSentinel, p. 8-A.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT SOME OF THOSE MENTIONED IN THE ABOVEARTICLE, PLEASE SEE THE FOLLOWING:
Rev. Zebedee Warner, Rev. Moses Weekley,and Bishop William Weekley. (See “United Brethren” on this site.)
http://geneasearch.com/genealogy/wvauthors.htm See: ZebedeeWarner, D.D.
S. J. Graham
Dr. Loyal Young
Dr. George Peterkin