A History of Nebraska Methodism

 

CHAPTER XXII.

FOURTH PERIOD. (1880-1904.)

   THUS we have traced the expansion of the Church until it has covered the entire area of the State. We have found that organization has kept pace with the expansion. The little class in the Morris settlement in Cass County was the first to be organized. But others quickly followed, necessitating the forming of circuits, stations, and districts; and, finally, as the population extended, and the area occupied became greater, the evolution of the four Conferences has been the natural result of the growth of a live evangelistic Church.
   These Conferences will henceforth have charge of the territory assigned them, and supervise the further development and organization of the Church within their bounds. Their work will have much in common and their progress will be under the same general laws of spiritual growth, requiring the Divine power of the Holy Spirit to guide and make effective the consecrated human agencies.
   But while much will be in common, each Conference will, in subordinate ways, have its own problems to solve, its own peculiar conditions, which will favor or retard the progress of the work, and though the workers in each may be characterized by the same zeal, consecration, and capacity, the progress in some will perhaps be greater than in others, as conditions may be more or less favorable. So, if in the farther tracing of the history in the

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different sections of this State we find that some of these Conferences have made greater progress than others, it will be attributed to these varying conditions, and not be deemed to indicate any less fidelity in the workers in any one of the Conferences. Our Lord Himself found the conditions such at Nazareth that "He could there do no mighty work."
   As a matter of fact it will be found from now on that the natural conditions in the eastern portion of the State, occupied by the older Conferences, will be much more favorable than in the western portion. The experience of the years has made it plain that while much of the western portion is rich in soil, it belongs to the semi-arid belt, where the rain fall from year to year is not sufficient for reliable farming, and the material growth of that section has not kept pace with the eastern. However, during this last period, the West Nebraska Conference has made commendable progress and even the Northwest Conference, where the conditions have been least favorable, has made some progress.
   This last period will witness the rapid growth of the large cities. and the establishment of new churches in eligible locations. Omaha has grown from 30,000 in 1880, to a little over 100,000 in 1900. The census of 1890 gives the population as 139,000, but what many suspected at the time was clearly shown to be the fact by the census of 1900, that the census of 1890 was padded to the extent of at least 50,000. This is now acknowledged by all and is regarded by some of the best men in Omaha as having been a criminal blunder, which has reacted disastrously. They are now convinced that honesty is the best policy, even in census matters.


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SOME WHO HAVE LED THE HOSTS AS PRESIDING ELDERS.

1. H. HIRST MILLARD. 2. STOKELY D. ROBERTS. 3. R. H. ADAMS. 4. WM. R.

JONES. 5. RICHARD PEARSON. 6. D. F. RODABAUGH. 7. W. A. AMSBARY.

8. J. G. MILLER. 9. ASA C. SLEETH. 10. J. R. GETTYS. 11. GEORGE W.

ELWOOD. 12. W. K. BEANS.

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   But the increase from 30,000 in 1880 to 100,000 in 1900 is a substantial gain, and has necessitated a corresponding expansion of our Church. We have seen Seward Street Church taking the place of the old Eighteenth Street Church, and South Tenth strengthening its position by building a church in 1880, and a parsonage in 1881. Seward Street has had a healthy growth under a succession of energetic and able pastors, numbering such men as Wm. Worley, C. W. Savidge, D. K. Tindal, A. C. Welch, C. N. Dawson, and Wm. Gorst. It now numbers 444, as compared with 142 reported for Eighteenth Street Church in 1880.
   South Tenth Street began the period with seventy-two and now has one hundred and thirty-one. Thus this Church has made some progress, but not equal to what we anticipated. It has been well and faithfully served by such men as J. W. Stewart, E. G. Fowler, T. C. Clendenning, C. N. Dawson, Alfred Hodgetts, J. B. Priest, T. C. Webster, G. A. Luce, and the present pastor, A. L. Mickel. These have all been efficient pastors, and some most excellent lay workers, such as Luther A. Harmon and his father, Mrs. N. J. Smith, David Cole, and others, who were in the Church at the first and were joined by others who came in later.
   In 1886 H. H. Millard, D. D., organized Hanscom Park Church. This Church occupies one of the very best portions of the city, and has the field to itself, being far enough away from any other Methodist Church to prevent any conflict of interest. It has also been favored by a number of aggressive laymen, prominent among them being John Dale, a local preacher and business man.
   Brother Millard was very successful, and at the end of


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the year reported a church worth $8,000, and a membership of ninety-four. It now has a fine church worth $33,500, a parsonage worth $2,500, and a membership of 352.
   The appointment of H. H. Millard to Hanscom Park Church (which was to be) by Bishop Fowler, in 1886, is a good illustration of the embarrassment to which a presiding elder is sometimes subjected. The writer was at that time presiding elder of the Norfolk District, and had secured Brother Millard from Drew Theological School, and he having done two years of excellent work at Wisner, I wished very much to keep him. Bishop Fowler, seeing a splendid opportunity at Hanscom Park, was looking over the Conference for the best man for the place. Millard had been suggested, and the bishop proceeded to question me in regard to the young man. To tell the truth about him was to lose the man I needed, but being a little proud of him, I told the whole truth, after which the bishop quietly said, "We will put Millard down for Hanscom Park."
   Brother Millard's successors were George M. Brown, who remained five years; J. P. Murray, who staid five years; F. M. Sisson, who after two years was appointed presiding elder of the Norfolk District, and Clyde C. Cissel, who is now on his fifth year. It is a credit to this Church that they have so uniformly kept their pastors a long term, and these pastors have evidently been doing good work rearing this goodly superstructure on the foundations so well laid by H. H. Millard.
   In 1883, the country where South Omaha now stands was open farm land, but about that time was purchased by packing-house interests in Chicago, and in a very brief time there was the beginning of the now thriving city of


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South Omaha, with a population of 25,000 or more. Of course, Methodism will seize this important point, and in 1886, T. B. Hilton, who had previously served Fremont and York, was assigned to "Omaha Circuit." At the end of the first year the statistics show thirty-eight members, and one church worth $32,000, and a parsonage worth $1,800. But this is manifestly an error, as the amount reported the next year was $3,800 for the church and $600 for the parsonage, which is correct.
   L. H. Eddleblute succeeded Hilton, and during the two years of his successful pastorate began and enclosed a more commodious church building. The writer followed Eddleblute and found that his work had been well done. During my pastorate the Church begun under my predecessor's administration, was carried forward to completion, and dedicated by Bishop Newman. I found some splendid laymen, who co-operated heartily in the work. Among these were Young, Mead, Eastman, and Richardson. Chief among these was the last named, who as president of the Board of Trustees, Sunday-school superintendent, class-leader, and steward, proved himself a valuable helper and true friend to the pastor. There were others who were helpful, but whose names are not recalled. At the close of the first year I was appointed presiding elder of the Elkhorn Valley District, and C. N. Dawson followed. His pastorate continued five years, and was very successful. During his term the church burned down, and he successfully led the people through the difficult task of erecting on the same site a much better one at a cost of $15,000. Under Dawson and his successors, J. A. Johnson, H. H. Millard, and M. A. Head, all strong men, the Church has made steady progress,


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SOME WHO HAVE LED THE HOSTS AS PRESIDING ELDERS.

1. THOMAS BITHEL. 2. ISAAC BURNS. 3. A. G. WHITE. 4. C. W. GIDDINGS.

5. J. S. W. DEAN. 6. J. F. KEMPER. 7. D. J. CLARK. 8. MARTIN

PRITCHARD. 9. S. P. VAN DOOZER.

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