Civil Government and Religion



Eld. J. W. Scoles.

Eld. J. W. Scoles, a Seventh-day Adventist minister, had gone from Michigan to Arkansas in June, 1884 to assist Eld. D. A. Wellman in holding some meetings at Springdale, Washington Co. As the result of these meetings, quite a number of persons adopted the faith of that body, and practiced accordingly. In September, 1884, Eld. Wellman died, and Eld. Scoles continued the work in that place. In the winter of 1884-85, Eld. J. G. Wood went from Appleton City, Mo., to assist Elder Scoles at Springdale. A church was organized in that place early in 1885, and the erection of a meeting- house was begun at once. In addition to his subscription to the enterprise, Eld. Scoles agreed to paint the house when it should be ready. Further than this, we have the words of Eld. Scoles himself. He says:— CGRRLL 120.1

“I volunteered to do the painting as my share of the work, in addition to my subscription. I worked away at the church at od times, sometimes half a day and sometimes more, as I could spare the time. The last Sunday in April, 1885, in order to finish the work so I could be expecting to go out for the summer’s labor with the tent, and expecting to go the next day twenty miles, I went over could be to the church, and finished up a small strip of painting on the south side of the house, clear out of sight of all public roads; and here I quietly worked away for perhaps two hours, in which time I finished it, and then went home. It was for this offense that I was indicted.” CGRRLL 120.2

At the fall term of the Circuit Court held at Fayetteville, Mr. J. A. Armstrong, of Springdale, was summoned before the Grand Jury. He was asked if he knew of any violations of the Sunday law. He said he did. CGRRLL 120.3

Grand Jury. “Who are they?” CGRRLL 120.4

Armstrong.—”The ‘Frisco Railroad is running trains every Sunday.” CGRRLL 120.5

G. J.—“Do you know of any others.” CGRRLL 121.1

A.—“Yes; the hotels of this place are open, and do a full run of business on Sunday, as on other days.” CGRRLL 121.2

G. J.—“Do you know of any others?” CGRRLL 121.3

A.—“Yes, sir; the drug-stores and barber-shop all keep open, and do business every Sunday.” CGRRLL 121.4

A.—“Yes; the livery-stables do more business on Sunday than on any other day of the week.” CGRRLL 121.5

After several repetitions of this same form of questions and answers, in much the same manner, in relation to other lines of business, this question was reached:— CGRRLL 121.6

G. J.—“Do you know of any Seventh-day Adventists who ever work on Sunday?” CGRRLL 121.7

A.—“Yes, sir.” CGRRLL 121.8

After getting from the witness the names of his brethren, indictments were found against five persons, all of whom were Seventh-day Adventists. Eld. Scoles was one of the five. The indictment read as follows:— CGRRLL 121.9

“STATE OF ARKANSAS vs. J. W. SCOLES. Indictment.

“The Grand Jury of Washington County, in the same and by the authority of the State of Arkansas, in the name and by the authority of the State of Arkansas, accuse J. W. Scoles of the crime of Sabbath-breaking, committed as follows; viz., the same J. W. Scoles, on Sunday, the 26th day of April, 1885, in the county and State aforesaid, did unlawfully perform labor other than customary household duties of daily comfort, necessity, or charity, against the peace and dignity of the State of Arkansas. “J. P. HENDERSON, Pros. Att’y.” CGRRLL 121.10

Mr. Scoles was convicted. An appeal was taken to the Supreme Court of the State. October 30, 1886, the judgment of the Circuit Court was affirmed by the Supreme Court. Almost a score of cases essentially the same as the case of Eld. Scoles, were held over in the different Circuit Courts of the State, awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court in his case. All these cases now came up for trial, of which we print the facts:— CGRRLL 121.11