THE TRAINING SCHOOL AT BATON
After the close of the school at Point Coupee, I moved with all my belongings to Baton Rouge, where I opened under promising auspices a school which I hoped might be permanent, but which continued but two years and a half.
I was very enthusiastic, as were also all the teachers associated with me. The Women's Baptist Home Mission Society paid my salary and that of Miss Button while she was with me. Besides this expenses were provided for by God who thus set the seal of His approval on the work.
While in Baton Rouge I received one hundred dollars from the Happy Thought League, under the care of Mrs. P. G. McCollin, who is now in heaven. That money came in a time of great need. I would weary my reader if I told of the many answers to prayer in so many ways during my short pilgrimage. The money came pouring in, so that I had $2,000 in my hands with which to purchase the home in which my school was held, but the bargain was not closed when all my hopes were shattered and my school destroyed. This is the sad part of my story. God help me to tell it wisely, kindly, and truthfully.
I find among my records a conversation I had with one of my pupils about two months after this calamity:
"Sister Moore, is our school for colored women really closed?" "Yes, my scholars all went home, and so far I find it impossible to have them return."
"Why did any one disturb your school?" "I cannot tell; I thought everything was peace and safety. I did not think any of the white people had very serious objections to my school."
"What was in the notice put on your gate?" "There were the emblems of death?a skull and cross-bones and the notice stated that I was ordered by the 'White League' to close my school and leave the place."
"Why did they do such a cruel thing when we were having such a blessed, quiet school and not molesting any one?" "The reason given in the notice is exactly in these words, 'You are trying to educate the niggers to consider themselves the equals of the white people.'"
"Oh, I am so sorry! What do the white people mean? If we steal or fight they punish us, and then when some one comes to tell us in a kind loving way how to be good and do right, then they want to drive her away."
"I don't understand it myself, all that seems to be now in my power, is to ask the Lord to open some other door by which my dear women may get an education, and be taught the Bible and the duties of home life."
"What did you do when you found the notice at your gate?" "I got my bonnet and went down town and showed it to three or four of the best white people in town."
"What did they say?" "They were indignant, and said it was an outrage, and promised they would do what they could do to protect me. I also showed it to the mayor and other officials, and they promised the same."
"Have they made any effort to find the guilty persons?" "I don't know that they have."
"Oh, Miss Moore, what will become of the colored people?" "God will take care of them, my dear child, if not on earth, there is a safe place up in heaven. Persecutions are a part of the bargain God makes with His children. Let us be patient. God knows it all, and Rom. 8:28 is true. "All things work together for good to them that love God." This trouble will in some way work together for good. We must trust God's promises."
The above is a sample of many conversations with my women.
I don't think this would have occurred had it not been at a time when the colored people were being persecuted for a cause not at all connected with my work. I will not stop to give my readers the details but only mention a few facts. Some of the richest men in Baton Rouge had leased their plantations (some of which were six or ten miles from the city) to the colored people.
There lived in the hills near these plantations a class of poor whites, who came at night, masked, and took some colored men out and whipped them severely. The reason seemed to be jealousy because of the improvement the negro was making.
This persecution was so terrible that the negroes fled to the city. One man was shot because he hid himself under his house and refused to come out.
After this persecution had gone on for about a week, the officers in the city went out and made some arrests, but I am unable to say positively how many were found guilty or how they were punished. I know the citizens of Baton Rouge held an indignation meeting and denounced the white hoodlums who had driven the laborers from their plantations so that the crops were suffering, but the injustice done my school was not mentioned; it did not represent dollars and cents to the citizens.
There is a certain class who take advantage of times like this to intimidate work and workers with whom they have no sympathy. I know I had the confidence and respect of the good white people of the State of Louisiana who understood my work. I remember the night after this notice was put on my gate, reading to my pupils the 34th Psalm, from the 4th to the 10th verses. It comforted us. After prayer the poor, discouraged frightened women said, "Sister Moore, we'll trust God and stay with you." Several of them, the preceding day, had begun to pack their trunks to leave. The next morning one of my day pupils came in, saying that a few doors from us one of our best preachers lay, almost dead from a severe beating he had received the night before from the white hoodlums. This repeated outrage was too much for my poor pupils. They packed their trunks and left. Dear, brave Miss Button shared my sorrow and comforted me as best she could. She was a graduate of the Baptist Missionary Training School in Chicago, and had been sent by our society from her home in the North to assist in my school.
The closing of this school was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, trial of my life. It had required much labor and patience to awaken interest in this work. I had visited many associations in the state telling about this school, so you can see that the disappointment was widespread. Because of my leaving Louisiana, many of the people thought that my paper HOPE and all the work was dead. And, indeed, though not dead both were greatly hindered. It was also a great loss in dollars and cents. We had rented the house for $25 a month, when an $8 house would have accommodated Miss Button and me. The house was furnished neatly for fourteen boarders and three teachers, there were a pleasant school room, dining room, and kitchen. I sold only a few articles as it was difficult to dispose of them. I sent quite a large donation to Gibsland, La., where the colored people had started a new school, also some barrels of clothing. Some things were sent to Plaquemine to an "old ladies' home." However we did not dispose of anything until March, hoping to induce our pupils to return and go on with our much-loved school. Disappointed in this hope, we stored what we could not sell and left the city with tears and regrets, and prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Our loss in money is nothing compared with the lost opportunity of helping these poor wives and mothers in Louisiana. Nearly every day for a long while after the school closed I received letters saying, "I am getting ready and will be in your school in a few days." Then I must sit down and write the sad news how the school was closed.
Since this trouble I have thought so often of an incident in the life of Sir Isaac Newton, the great philosopher and astronomer. One night he was called suddenly from his room to attend to some business, and left the candle burning on the table. He closed the door leaving in the room his little dog, Diamond. When he returned he found that the little dog in his impatience had jumped upon the table and upset the candle which set fire to Sir Isaac's manuscripts and thus burned up in a few minutes the results of a great many years of hard labor and of close study. The philosopher only remarked in a quiet manner, "Oh, Diamond, Diamond, little thou knowest the mischief thou hast done." Those wicked, thoughtless persons who put that notice at my gate know about as little of the consequences that have followed their mischief as did Diamond. They know not how those cruel, obscene words in that notice, wounded our hearts, clouded the days, and brought terror to the nights, and laid on us a burden of care and anxiety that nothing but God's strength could carry us through. Yes, it was God that carried the burden and carried His poor, tired children through it all. Praise the Lord, who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver and in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us. 2 Cor. 1:10.
Past, present, and future deliverance, halelujah! "Looking unto Jesus" brightens all our darkness and fills the fainting heart with hope and courage.
A few months after I left Louisiana, I visited Dr. John A. Broadus, of Louisville, Ky., and told him about the closing of my school in Baton Rouge?the circumstances connected with it. He seemed to appreciate my trials more than any Southern person to whom I had spoken. There was a tenderness and sympathy about his manner that comforted me. He advised me to be patient, saying, "There are so many sides to this question, but your work is greatly needed. Go forward, quietly trusting the Lord." I cannot explain why, but I know I came out from that little visit with Dr. Broadus a braver, stronger woman.
The following voluntary words of testimony require no comment:
Dear Sisters:?This is the third winter that I have attended Miss Moore's Training School, and I can tell you it is just the place to train workers for Christ. Here we learn to deny self and to be meek and lowly, as Christ has commanded. Miss Moore has now two very wise Christian ladies, Miss Margaret Work and Miss Lydia Lawrence to assist her in the work. They see that we improve the time, and yet are very patient. All in our school are married women or widows, but two. I wish you could look in and see how happy we are. I want more of the sisters of the state to come here, for what we all need is a better knowledge of the meaning of the Bible and Home.
ESTHER URSULA YOUNG,
Dear Mothers:?I have been in the Training School ever since one week before Christmas. I was much discouraged about being blind before I came here. This great affliction cast me down. But since Sister Moore brought me here, I have been comforted greatly, by listening to the lessons, the singing, and the praying. Some of the sisters have come two hundred miles to attend the school. When I first got blind, about three months ago, Sister Moore told me that if my natural eyes were blind I could see clearer with my spiritual eyes, and since I have been here I find it is true. While I listen to the glorious Word of God explained, I feel a light springing up in my soul so bright that I think I can see the whole circle in which our sisters are sitting and the glory of God fills the house. Mothers, dear mothers, do come and learn the Word of God so you can teach it to your children and children's children. How can you teach what you do not know? Mothers, do teach your children the Word of God, for that is what has lifted me up the last few years.
I want to add that Sister Triplet is now sixty years old, and it has only been during the last four years that she has learned how to study the Bible. Last year and the year before she had her Bible in hand almost all the time, and to-day, from memory, she can recite a great number of verses by heart. Thus she meditates on God's word night and day, and is therefore blessed, and is a great blessing to all in the school.
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