Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 1 (1844 - 1868)


Lt 5, 1867

Belden, Stephen and Sarah

Davenport, Iowa

September 24, 1867

Portions of this letter are published in 11MR 106.

Dear Stephen and Sarah [Belden]:

In the cars on our way to Pilot Grove Convocation meeting. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1867, par. 1

Our Convocation meeting at Wisconsin has just closed. It was the best series of meetings we ever attended. Meetings commenced Wednesday morning, and closed Sunday evening. There were six ministers present. James was free and clear all through the meeting. He labored as earnestly and as acceptably as at any period of his life. Johnstown is a beautiful place. The large tent was erected and around it twelve small tents were erected by families from their several churches, who were taking care of themselves. There were four hundred people present, all Sabbathkeepers, during the entire four days’ meetings. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1867, par. 2

My health failed me two months since. I have labored earnestly without rest since last December. I attended two Grove meetings, speaking to an interested audience of people. In the last of these meetings the wind blew in the pine and oak trees, making it very difficult for the speaker. My turn came upon the afternoon of first day when the wind was blowing so strong it was almost impossible to make the voice heard by all the people assembled. I spoke one hour and a half, clear and loud; every word was heard distinctly. Outsiders said there could not be found one man in a thousand that could be heard as distinctly as I was heard. I think the effort was too much. That week I began to fail. (It is the turn of life with me.) I was attacked with palpitation and fainting. Could not stand five minutes upon my feet. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1867, par. 3

James attended one appointment without me and came back much wearied and said the people were so thoroughly disappointed it was the last time he would go without me. People came from every direction to hear the woman talk, and our Sabbathkeeping people said if I had known how much they were disappointed I would have come if I had been brought upon a bed. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1867, par. 4

The appointment in Greenville I was enabled to attend and to labor as usual, although very feeble. This proved too much. I fainted Monday; could not sit or stand but a few moments at a time. James declared he would not go again without me. The people in Green Bush were so disappointed. He gave out appointments for Orange, thirty miles from our home, and for Green Bush, forty miles from Orange, because of their previous disappointment. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1867, par. 5

As I lay upon the lounge, my face as colorless as the pillow beneath my head, I called to mind former days and former faith and decided to try the experiment to go twelve miles and risk the consequences. (The cars joggle.) I could but die. A great work was to be done; but a short time in which to do it. God would help me if I did all He required on my part. Thursday about five o’clock we started, designing to go twelve miles that night, tarry over night, and go twenty miles the next day. I was placed in the carriage upon my knees and thus rode ten miles. I could not sleep much that night, but decided to trust in God and go on the next day to meet the Orange appointment. I rode most of the way in a fainting condition, but the journey made me no worse. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1867, par. 6

I spoke to the people three times with great freedom. Sunday we had lawyers, judges, doctors, and ministers to hear. Good was accomplished at this meeting and I was glad I had ventured. Monday we rode on to Green Bush, forty miles, accompanied by Brother Amadon. Held one meeting in a grove. Spoke to about eighty people assembled. Among them were a judge, spiritual mediums, doctors, ministers, and lawyers. It was the best meeting I think I ever attended under such circumstances. I was perfectly free, though feeble in health. The most wicked opposers were cut to the heart and wept like children. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1867, par. 7

Thursday we rode twenty miles to Ithaca and had interesting meetings in that place. From two to three hundred came to hear and seemed to hear as for their lives. After our meetings closed, we rode twenty miles back to Green Bush. I was sick all night, yet was able to make the journey next day by riding on a bed in the bottom of the wagon. We filled appointments in Wright, Monterey, Battle Creek, and the convocation meeting to Johnstown Center. I spoke to the people three times with freedom, although I was suffering with inflamed throat and lungs. Sunday I was decidedly sick, vomiting all the forenoon. My lungs were congested. Fomented them. Evening after the Sabbath, through neglect no wet head cap was put on my head, and the congestion was removed to my brain. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1867, par. 8

The people expected me to speak Sunday afternoon. Twelve hundred were assembled to hear. What could I do? I had not sat up an hour all day, lost all my breakfast, could only eat a cracker or two for dinner. I could not see straight, my head was whirling, the sound of the voice seemed to play upon my brain and come out of my ears. The promise had been given the people that I should speak, and I meant to try if I broke down in the attempt. I made my way to the tent, tremblingly took my seat in the stand and said to the ministers, If you will sustain me with your prayers I will move forward, relying upon God to sustain me. I stood up before that large crowd with trembling but, thank God, I was blessed. My headache disappeared and I spoke to the crowd one hour with freedom. I could not have done this of myself. Not one scornful look, not a jeer or sneer was seen in the congregation. All was attention and interest. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1867, par. 9

James has spoken to all these with clearness and power. God has blessed the word spoken. Our testimony is received by all believers and we have, through the help of God, seen much good accomplished at these four days [of] meetings. We are now on our way to attend the meeting at Pilot Grove. We expect larger crowds than in Wisconsin. My health has steadily improved since my effort Sunday afternoon. Last night we rode on cars until two o’clock at night, then what little time remained [we] tarried at [a] hotel. Found good lodgings, paying one dollar each for fare. Seven in all in our company. Brother and Sister Maynard, wealthy farmers, accompanied us to wait on me and James in our feeble condition. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1867, par. 10