WORK IN CHICAGO.
I had really had only about five years service with the colored people until 1873, but often as I have spoken or written on the subject, I've counted all the years from 1863 to 1902. Perhaps it was because my heart was with the colored people in the South during the time I spent in the North, and I did help them all I could with letters, money, and influence. Nothing kept me from them but my mother's poor health. She was subject to attacks that threatened immediate death. My brothers thought no one but Joanna could take care of mother. I gave up preparation for the Foreign Field in 1855, because my parents very much needed me; and yet in one sense I have been a foreign missionary ever since. If giving up my plans thus for the sake of my parents was a mistake, it was not a willful sin. I suppose it was all part of the training I needed for my work in the South. Having been called home three times, I concluded I would not leave my mother to go so far away until her health was better. Some one, I think Dr. Blackall, told Mr. B. F. Jacobs that I wanted to do mission work; therefore he sent for me, engaging to pay my board for six months, but nothing more. This was a sacrifice of money, because I got good wages for teaching, but it was a joy to give all my time to direct Christian work.
Early in April, 1869, I began work for the North Star Baptist Church. I cannot remember with what success, but I find from an old record, that I made 2,292 visits in three months. I then came to work in Shield's Mission of the First Baptist Church for three months. Through our Cottage meetings, especially, a blessed work of grace began. They didn't want me to leave at the end of three months, and I remained until early spring, when I was employed by the Eighteenth Street Baptist Church. I might say much of the work in Chicago, but haven't time now. God supplied my needs in answer to prayer.
In October, 1870, I was again called home to care for mother, and felt it not safe to leave her even for Chicago, but I taught school in Belvidere and vicinity, until the fall of 1873. While teaching I was a kind of Sabbath school missionary. That is I started a Sabbath school wherever I taught which I think was in ten different schools, and helped to keep them up. The winter of 1870 my school was in the country. They said "You can never have a Sunday school in the winter," but I secured the use of the schoolhouse, and told my pupils to come, and bring their parents. It was the most successful Sabbath school I ever had. The house was crowded; parents brought their whole families in sleighs. We called this the Ever-Green School, as Sabbath schools in the country were usually closed in the fall.
In 1871 the Women's Foreign Missionary Society of the West was organized. Mrs. Tolman wrote asking if I could be their missionary. This awakened old hopes and brought up a new conflict in my heart. I remember that Mrs. O. B. Stone spent nearly a whole night with me in prayer for this subject. My heartstrings were pulling me towards the negroes, towards the heathen, and towards my mother. Many of my Belvidere friends wanted me to go to the heathen. Mrs. Fulton, my pastor's wife came with me to Chicago. I was then about forty years old. Some of the Board thought I was too old, this about decided me to stay with mother. This was one of the many times when good Brother Osgood gave me much comfort and kind advice. I thought he was the only one who really understood me. Perhaps some day God will let me visit a mission in heathen lands. I cannot think of anything on earth that would comfort me more.
WHAT LED ME TO THIS WORK FOR HOME.
During the years that mother's feeble health kept me from the South, my thoughts were with the freed people. I remembered how unfit these slave mothers were to take care of their children's souls and minds, and that the father's slave life had forced him to leave the entire care of his family to the master and that because of all these, there should be more done for the present fathers and mothers. However, I said but little to any one on this subject because the popular plan for helping the colored people was the schools in which to educate teachers and preachers; but I did find three men in Chicago to whom I opened my heart on this subject. They represented the three great Baptist missionary organizations. Rev. S. Osgood, the Foreign Mission; Rev. I. N. Hobart, Home Mission, and Rev. F. G. Thearle, the Publication Society. From these I received sympathy and words of encouragement. These were men who knew how to listen even to a woman. A good listener is a wonderful comforter, one that by face and manner makes you feel be is taking in what you say. Others listen with a faraway look and restless manner that makes you want to shut your mouth and never say another word. Dear Brother Hobart was especially interested; I can never forget his sympathy and he proved it real by the way he fostered my work for four years. He simply told the churches and individuals of the work I was doing. That was all the appeal he made, except that he paid my expenses to come North and speak to associations and churches. A letter written on Nov., 1874, reads as follows: "I have just received a letter saying that the Women's Mission Circle of Galesburg has appropriated fifty dollars for your work." He then gives me in the same letter the names of the principal donors to my work the first year. The money amounted to more than two hundred dollars but this was not all I received. Often the money was sent direct to me. In this way the Lord supported me till the organization of our blessed Women's Baptist Home Mission Society, February 1, 1877, when I had the honor of receiving their first commission.
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