Rev. B. O. and Margaret Hazzard

Rev. B. O. Hazzard was born around 1872, and felt God calling him to Africa. He originally served in the Congo, but repeated malaria attacks forced him to return to America. There, he met and married Margaret Muirhead, a Scottish-born woman whose parents had immigrated in 1880 and started a farm in Ohio. They were married on August 15, 1900, in Portage, Ohio.

Both B. O. and Margaret felt God calling them to missionary service. They ended up going with the United Brethren in Christ, sailing from New York on September 31 (just six weeks after their wedding) and arriving in Sierra Leone on November 14. His job was to build a girls’ home at the Danville station in Gbangbaia for the Women’s Missionary Association–what would eventually become the Minnie Mull School for Girls. Margaret would care for the children residing there.

Mission director Daniel Flickinger wrote, “Mr. Hazzard did well in managing business matters and in holding meetings and getting the people aroused to a sense of duty. Some were converted and brought into the service of the Master through his labors.”

Margaret became paralyzed in July 1901 and, a few weeks later, was taken to Freetown. Since the hospital couldn’t treat her, Rev. Hazzard put her on a steamship bound for England. They had been married just 11 months. It was the last time they would see each other.

Margaret arrived in Liverpool on September 4 and was soon diagnosed with berri berri, which affects the nerves. She began nearly two years of hospitalization. Meanwhile Rev. Hazzard kept working. The school was ready for occupancy in December 1901. The plan was for him to eventually travel to Scotland to be reunited with his wife. But that never happened. He was stricken with blackwater fever, and died in Gbangbaia in July 1902.

According to George Fleming, Margaret spent a total of 21 months hospitalized, until the spring of 1903, followed by six months of continued recuperation with relatives in Scotland. Of the little we know of Margaret after that, it doesn’t include Sierra Leone. She apparently returned to Ohio and, in 1930, at age 56, married a Missouri farmer named Thomas Grubb. It appears that she died in Ohio on August 12, 1957, and was buried in Cuyahoga County, Ohio; census data lists her husband, Thomas Grubb, as a carpenter in building construction.

Although the Hazzards’ time in Sierra Leone was very short, it lives on through the Minnie Mull School, which over the years has touched the lives of thousands of Sierra Leonean girls.

Henry Barkley, bishop 1897-1913.

On September 3, 1879, Henry Barkley, age 21, was granted a United Brethren annual conference license to preach. Eight days later, he married Ida Masters, a young girl he had met in a store. They began pastoring circuits of churches in North Ohio Conference. In 1881, he was ordained by Bishop Jacob John Glossbrenner.

Barkley’s parents married in 1847 and settled in northeastern Indiana. They birthed four daughters, and finally got a son, Henry, on March 19, 1858. In 1866, at the end of the Civil War, the family moved to northwestern Ohio.

There is anecdotal evidence that young Henry, consistent with being the only boy, was somewhat of a spoiled brat–prideful, hot-headed, and prone to fighting. But he was smart, got a decent (for the time) education, and ever-so-gradually, through the influence of various ministers, journeyed toward Christ. He was converted on February 2, 1875, under the ministry of a Church of God pastor. But UBs had played a role in his journey, too. In 1876, he transferred to the United Brethren church in West Unity, Ohio. And with the UBs he stayed for the rest of his life.

Henry and Ida found themselves drawn to the West. In 1882, they accepted a UB pastorate in Denver, Colorado. But that didn’t work out. Seven months later, they were back in Ohio. But in 1888, they moved to Oregon, and that’s where they spent the rest of their days.

Henry quickly distinguished himself. He led revival meetings in places where they were launching new churches. Bishop William Dillon once commented, “No man in Oregon could draw a larger crowd.” He was elected as a presiding elder in 1880, and during the next few years, oversaw the construction of five church buildings.

Lynn Newbraugh wrote in his chapter on Barkley in United Brethren Bishops, Volume 1, “Barkley also expended great effort to guide the pastors under his care, much like a father with his son. Throughout his career, he took time to praise the efforts of each individual. Yet, he was no flatterer. When one of his pastors erred, Barkley was quick to correct him.”

Newbraught added, “He treated subordinates as equals and equals as superiors.”

In 1894, Barkley took on two new roles: he was elected president of the United Brethren college in Philomath, Oregon; and he was elected to the first of two terms in the Oregon legislature. His oratorical skills and principled leadership served him well in politics. He often presided over legislative sessions and acquired the power to make or break bills. His reputation grew to the point that both state Senators–a Democrat and a Republican–said they would campaign for him if he ran for the US Congress. But after two terms, he said goodbye to politics. He wanted to focus solely on his First Love, the Church.

In 1897, Barkley, age 39, began 16 years as a United Brethren bishop. He was initially elected, by a vote of 33-10, in place of incumbent William Dillon. For the first eight years, Barkley served alongside Milton Wright, Horace Barnaby, and Halleck Floyd, who had served together as bishops since 1889 and would continue in that role until 1905.

Barkley was assigned to the Pacific district, and in the years ahead, helped bring a Chinese school in Portland under our supervision in 1898 (it would later become our bridge to China), in 1899 helped found Edwards College in Albion, Wash.; and oversaw establishing the Idaho Mission Conference in 1901.

Bishops Wright, Barnaby, and Floyd got into a nasty dispute about the publishing house; it went on for several years. Everything came to a head at the 1905 General Conference. Barkley, who had stayed out of it, ended up presiding over large portions of the conference. In the end, the leadership slate was wiped practically clean–Wright, Barnaby, and Floyd, along with three other denominations officials, were not re-elected. Only Barkley remained–jumping immediately from junior bishop to senior bishop.

Despite his now-central role, Barkley chose to continue living in Oregon. But he had to make many trips back to the denominational office in Huntington, Ind., and to other points in the East. Thank God for trains.

In 1909, representatives from the Liberal United Brethren church, from which we had split in 1889, attended General Conference with an invitation to reunite the two groups. Perhaps, now that Milton Wright was out of the picture, they thought we might be positive toward the idea. Henry Becker, using his well-honed spontaneous eloquence, said, “I welcome these brethren and their greetings, which cheer my heart.” But he concluded, “When we can agree on doctrine, we can take care of the policy and polity.” And thus, he very diplomatically slammed shut the door for reuniting the two groups.

Barkley stepped down from the bishopric in 1913. His concluding years were frustrating to him. The churches in Oregon were in decline, sorely in need of capable ministers, and the two colleges, at Philomath and Albion, suffered financial hardship.

Plus, his fragile health plummeted. In 1894, the same year Barkley was elected to the Oregon legislature, he got food poisoning while eating at a restaurant in Butler, Ind. (a woman at a nearby table died). He was quite sick for the next two years, and never fully recovered; he was plagued by sickness for the rest of his life. During those final four years as bishop, Barkley suffered a series of small strokes which left him partly paralyzed on his left side. Nevertheless, he delivered 300 addresses during those four years, a number topped by only one other bishop.

Barkley had been suggesting that they drop from four bishops to three bishops. When he stepped down in 1913, the General Conference did just that, choosing not to replace him.

Henry and Ida Barkley continued living in Oregon for what became a very brief retirement. Henry became seriously ill in November 1914, and was bed-bound from mid-December until his death on March 7, 1915.

William Dillon wrote of Barkley, “No preacher on the Pacific Coast was ever more loved, or will be more lamented.

Isaac and Sarah Hor

On September 2, 1992, a Chinese United Brethren church opened in Toronto, Ontario. The service was held on a Sunday afternoon at the Bloem Avenue (now New Hope) UB church in Toronto. The pastor was Phil Burkett. He and his family had recently concluded four years of ministry in Macau, so they knew plenty about reaching Chinese people and could speak the language.

In North America, Toronto’s Chinese population ranked second only to New York City’s. A large percentage had emigrated from Hong Kong, the exodus spurred by the specter of 1997 and by Canada’s comparatively lenient immigration policies. The immigrants tended to be financially secure; many retained businesses in Hong Kong and shuttled back and forth.

The vision for a Chinese ministry at Toronto had existed for a while. Just two years before, the conference had embedded Chinese ministry into a long-range plan, and Phil Burkett was appointed pastor in 1991 with the expressed purpose of making it happen.

In April 1992, the Toronto church sent letters to about 20 Chinese Christian contacts in the greater Toronto area, telling about the ministry-in-the-works. The next day, Phil Burkett received a call from Stephen Chan. He and his wife were members of St. Luke’s UB church in Hong Kong before moving to Canada 20 years before. Chan was excited about starting a Chinese church in Toronto.

The Burketts and Chans got together in May 1992. The Chans mentioned a Hong Kong pastor, Isaac Hor (pronounced HAW), who had been ordained in the Missouri Synod Lutheran church. Hor had moved to Canada about the same time the Burketts did with the intention of planting a Chinese church. That project didn’t pan out, so he was seeking a new ministry in Toronto.

How convenient. The Hor family—Isaac, wife Sarah, and their two children—attended Bloem Avenue UB on May 31 and met with members of the Chinese Planning Committee. The Ontario Conference not only approved him, but agreed to fund his support for a six-month trial. Hor officially started on July 1, 1992.

“Statistics show that a newly-arrived Chinese person has a much higher likelihood of coming to Christ than a multiple-generation North American,” wrote Phil Burkett in the United Brethren magazine. “Chinese churches in Toronto are growing (some say exploding) at an unbelievable rate. New Chinese churches spring up almost weekly.”

After that opening service on September 2, the church launched an English Language Program similar to what the Burketts helped found in Macau. Classes started September 14 and ran through December 2, with 6-8 students. A second term drew 10-12 students. Teachers came from both the English-speaking congregation and the Chinese congregation. In October 1992, a group of seven persons from the New York Chinese church drove up to help with an evangelistic outreach.

Turns out the Bloem Avenue church was too far from where most Chinese lived. So in September 1993, they relocated to a junior high school about 25 miles away on the northeast side of metro Toronto in an area densely populated by Chinese; a couple families in the core group already lived there. The Hor family moved to a townhouse near the school. Services were held in the school cafeteria.

The English Language Program started up on September 20, 1993, this time drawing 40 students—an excellent enrollment.

After six years in Toronto, the Burketts left in 1996, when Phil became Minister of Music at College Park UB in Huntington, Ind. The Toronto Chinese church closed in 2002. Isaac Hor returned to Hong Kong in July 2002 to minister with a Lutheran church.

Dr. Leslie and Mary Huntley and children. The Huntleys served in Sierra Leone until November 1941, shortly before the Pearl Harbor bombing brought America into World War II. Dr. Huntley entered the US Army in 1943 as a medical officer with the rank of captain, and served in Panama, India, and China.

On September 1, 1934, Dr. Leslie and Mary Huntley arrived as UB missionaries in Sierra Leone. He was our first licensed doctor.

Dr. Huntley graduated from Huntington College and received his medical degree from the University of Nebraska. He and his fiancée, Mary Bergdall of Claytonville, Ill., committed themselves to fulltime missionary work during the same service at Huntington College, along with four other persons who would eventually serve in Sierra Leone–Martha Anna Bard, Emma Hyer, Erma (Burton) Carlson, and Charles Saufley. The Huntleys were married, and left for Sierra Leone one month later.

It was a low time for the mission. Financial support from America had fallen off—we were in the Great Depression—and several stations had been closed. George and Daisy Fleming had concluded their missionary work in 1932, turning leadership over to Clarence Carlson. But he took a desperately needed furlough in 1934. That left just Abbie Swales, a veteran missionary who was in charge of the Minnie Mull Home for Girls in Bonthe.

Dr. Huntley, a rookie missionary, found himself in charge of the entire mission—churches, schools, dispensary…everything. It was a lot of responsibility for a first-term missionary, but he proved up to the task.

The Huntleys, married for just a month, mind you, made a very charitable decision—that Mary would relocate to Bonthe to assist Abbie Swales until new recruits arrived. Dr. Huntley toiled alone at Gbangbaia, with the help of some national workers. In addition to preparing the dispensary and treating patients, he visited villages to see pastors and teachers.

It took six months to get the dispensary ready. New buildings were constructed at the Danville Station, and old ones were renovated. All the while, Huntley was treating patients in a limited capacity. The dispensary officially opened around April 1935. Huntley reported that by June, he had treated 1,035 patients. He wrote years later, “I was never able to administer treatment to everyone who came to the dispensary on any given day. We worked from early morning until late at night, but we just could not see them all.”

Reinforcements finally arrived in January 1936: Rev. Earl and Ruth Ensminger and daughter, from Greencastle, Pa. Both were ordained ministers with degrees from Huntington College. They took up residence in Bonthe, enabling Mary Huntley to finally live with and work alongside her husband for the first time in 16 months. On September 27, 1936, baby Carolyn Huntley arrived. Do the math.

 

Israel Sloane

When we started a mission organization in 1853, it was called the Home, Frontier, and Foreign Missionary Society. Rev. Israel Sloane pulled a trifecta. Before his tragic death at age 39 on August 31, 1863, he served in all three realms–the home front, the frontier, and in a foreign country. But not in that order.

Sloane started out as a United Brethren minister in southern Ohio. In October 1854, the Board of Missions sent him as a missionary to Canada. A non-UB minister named John Cornell (from the Cornell University family), who had been a minister in Ontario for over 40 years, was retiring and wanted to bring his churches under the United Brethren umbrella. Sloane became pastor of Cornell’s church in Sheffield, Ontario. Soon, several other ministers came up from the States.

In 1856, Bishop Jacob Glossbrenner organized the Canada Mission Conference with seven organized churches, 18 preaching points, nine licensed ministers, and 152 members. Growth came quickly. By 1863, membership had hit 1000.

But Israel Sloane stuck around for just four years. In 1858, the Board of Missions sent him to California. Sloane and his family traveled by ship from New York to San Francisco (it took 24 days), and rode a steamer up a river to Sacramento. Before leaving New York, Sloane wrote a letter to the editor of the denominational publication, The Religious Telescope.

“Even up to the present time, I feel more attached to and more concerned about the work in Canada than any other place to which I have ever been appointed. I would still love to labor in Canada, but I am reminded that the field is the world; and while we have a number of good missionaries in Canada…California is without one of our missionaries.”

That’s how he saw himself—as a missionary. He had done the Home (Ohio) and Foreign (Canada) parts. Now he was off to the Frontier (California).

On December 10, Sloane wrote, “I have been in California 40 days and I preached 23 times. A few souls have been converted and reclaimed.”

Three months later, Sloane was the single father of three kids; his wife died on March 2, 1859, of tuberculosis. But in May 1860, after an eight-week trip to the East, he returned to California with a new wife. The work continued to expand, with Sloane leading the way. In 1861, he had the joy of seeing the 1861 General Conference organize the California Mission Conference. First Canada, now California.

On June 23, 1863, Sloane began the journey to visit some troubled churches in the Sacramento Valley. He spent one night at a home near Knoxville. He put his horse in the coral with a mustang, which proceeded to kick his horse in the leg, breaking it. Another horse was available. He had misgivings about it, but was assured the horse would be safe to ride.

As he descended the Cache Creek Mountains, the horse began running down the steep grade. Sloane couldn’t stop the horse, and couldn’t jump off, lest he tumble down a precipice. He was thrown at the bottom of the hill, where he was eventually found, seriously injured. He was taken 35 miles to a home, where he spent the next three weeks recovering from his injuries. He then continued on to the Sacramento Valley. But he was not well.

His new wife was worried when he didn’t arrive back when expected. Had Indians got him (there were stories of ministers dodging arrows during their trips)? Had he tangled with highwaymen, as often happened? She finally received a letter from Israel saying he was coming home…but he didn’t come. He sent another letter on August 1, saying he would start the return journey on August 6. But she waited in vain. He never mentioned his physical problems.

Around midnight on August 30, a rider approached the home and knocked on the door. He told Mrs. Sloane that her husband had arrived in Eureka on a steamboat, sick and near death, and had been carried into a hotel. She reached his side at 4 a.m., and was with him when he died shortly thereafter.

The work in California was sorely lacking in workers, and now they had lost their leader. Some voices suggested we pull out and leave California to the many other churches ministering there. But Bishop Daniel Shuck, who had pastored for four years in California, disagreed. During a six-month visit to California during the spring and summer of 1864, he rallied and revived the demoralized church. He discovered that many people were attracted to the United Brethren positions against slavery and freemasonry, and didn’t feel comfortable in other churches which had made room for both.

Shuck wrote:

“While other denominations have been troubled, perplexed, and torn in pieces in adjusting themselves to the varied and ever-changing demands of pros-slaveryism, the United Brethren in Christ, though little and seemingly unknown, always maintained with a scripturally enlightened conscientious firmness her anti-slavery principles, in theory and practice. And now, while the moral tone of pubic sentiment is being purified so as to demand non-fellowship with slavery in the civil compact, and many churches are making sudden revolutions and are wheeling into the ranks and are spreading the fact of their conversion to the four winds to catch the gale, the United Brethren in Christ are marching straight along, rejoicing to know that the world moves, and that the move is now in the right direction.”

Titus and Debbie Boggs

Rev. Titus J. Boggs passed away on August 29, 2011, in Harlan, Kent. He was 61 years old.

Titus served as director of Laurel Mission for 30 years, 1980-2010. He was described as “a big man with a big heart.” Hundreds of United Brethren, on short-term trips to Laurel Mission, fell in love with this man. And they all heard and loved the same stories. Like the one about Chief Running Bear and his daughter Falling Rock, who got lost in the mountains and was never found. That’s why, Titus would conclude deadpan, many signs along the roads said, “Watch for Falling Rock.”

Titus would hold a straight face for several seconds, but then slowly crack a sly grin, and people would know they’d been had.

Titus loved the Lord deeply, and loved the people who lived up and down Greasy Creek.

When Titus was born in 1950, both of his parents, Alvin and Ruth Boggs, worked for Laurel Mission. Alvin grew up there, born just three miles down the road from the current mission house. Ruth, who grew up in the Colwood UB church in Caro, Mich., arrived in 1943 as a missionary teacher. Alvin returned from the Army in 1946, and he and Ruth were married that August.

“Being a preacher’s kid, I was expected to live a certain way,” Titus once said. “I was religious on the outside, but I didn’t have a change of heart until my freshman year of high school. Some wonderful, godly teachers were a great influence on my life.”

Titus and Debbie, an Iowa girl, met at Kentucky Mountain Bible Institute. They married in 1973, and spent the next year at Asbury College, where Titus majored in Bible and social work. After that, Titus worked a year in the Public Assistance Office in Lexington. And then they moved back “home,” serving as dorm parents at Pine Mountain Settlement School, where Titus attended grades 1-9 and where his father worked.

In August 1980, Bishop Raymond Waldfogel came for a visit. Titus had been assistant pastor under mission superintendent M. E. Burkett. Now the Burketts were leaving. Would Titus and Debbie take their place? Titus said no; he and a partner had just started a little coal mine and bought a coal truck. But he kept thinking about it. And when Bishop Waldfogel asked again in December, Titus said, “We’ll give it a try.” They moved into the almost-new parsonage in January 1981.

In October 2010, Titus went on medical leave as director of Laurel Mission–he had suffered from diabetes and other physical problems–but he continued as senior pastor of Little Laurel Bible Church. His son, Nathan, who had been serving as the mission’s youth pastor, became executive director of Laurel Mission on October 8, 2010. Debbie Boggs, wife of Titus, became the new associate director of Laurel Mission.

On August 25, 1961, Wilber L. Sites, Jr., was ordained as a United Brethren minister. The service occurred at Rhodes Grove Camp in his hometown of Chambersburg, Pa.

Sites graduated from high school in 1944, entered the US Army, and served in the Pacific Theater during the final year of World War II in both the Philippines and Korea. He and Mossie were married in 1946, and he worked for a while at the Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg. Then God called him into the ministry.

They were in Huntington, Ind., 1954-1961 while he earned his bachelor’s and Master of Divinity degrees from Huntington College. During that time, he held two pastorates: 1954-1956 at Hopewell UB church (Auburn, Ind.), and 1957-1961 at the Willshire and Zion churches (Willshire, Ohio).

Then it was back to Chambersburg, where he expected to serve two years as associate pastor under Dr. Clyde W. Meadows at King Street UB church. However, Meadows was elected bishop earlier that summer, and he served those two years under the new pastor, Paul Baker.

Sites served six years, 1963-1969, as pastor of Mount Pleasant UB church in Chambersburg. In 1969, when George Weaver was elected bishop, Sites took his place as pastor of Otterbein UB church in Waynesboro, Pa. He remained there for eight years. Then, in 1977, General Conference chose him as a bishop to replace, once again, George Weaver, who had stepped down from the bishopric to become president of Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Findlay, Ohio.

During his first eight years as bishop, 1977-1985, Sites oversaw the West District, which required lengthy trips—often a month—to the West Coast and back, visiting various United Brethren churches along the way. In 1985, he was stationed on the Central District and Bishop Clarence Kopp took over the West District. In 1986, he received the Doctor of Ministry degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill.

Bishop Sites chaired the Thursday session of the 1989 General Conference. At the end of the day, he gave these farewell remarks:

“Next to the new birth experience, the highest calling for any individual is to be called as a minister of the Gospel. I’ve always felt that when God called me into the ministry, he called me into the world’s highest vocation. To me, the call of the church has been God’s call as well.

“I was humbled when this church elected me as a bishop. It’s been a tremendous challenge, a wonderful experience, and a great privilege. No words can express how grateful I am to God and to the Church of the United Brethren in Christ for giving me the privilege of serving as one of your bishops for these twelve years. Our lives have been deeply enriched by our experiences working on the West and Central districts.

“We’ve had times of joy, happiness, praise; but times of disappointment, too, because we didn’t always see what we felt God wanted to see accomplished. There were times when I felt so inadequate, and realized that whatever was accomplished was done only because of God’s power.”

Wilber and Mossie originally planned to move back to Pennsylvania and enter semi-retirement. But the “semi-retirement” part changed when a new opportunity arose. After his term ended in August 1989, he became associate pastor of Otterbein UB church in Waynesboro, Pa., the church he pastored when he was elected bishop in 1977. The idea excited him.

Bishop Sites retired in December 1998 as part-time Minister of Visitation at Otterbein. The following September, he and Mossie headed to teach and minister at Jamaica Bible College in Mandeville, Jamaica. They spent six years there, and also squeezed in three months as volunteers in Macau in 2000.

Bishop Sites passed away December 28, 2010, at his home in Chambersburg, Pa. He was 84 years old.

The Administration Building, now Becker Hall, as it looked in 1897.

The Administration Building, now Becker Hall, as it looked in 1897.

The August 18 post got missed thanks to vacation scheduling. Since no other “On This Day” item is scheduled for today (August 23), we’ll post it now.

In 1896, our de facto “denominational” college was Hartsville College south of Indianapolis, Ind. It was under the control of a board of trustees sympathetic to, but not accountable to, the United Brethren church. The denominational Board of Education wanted a college directly under its control, so they began looking around. Then, out of the blue, they received an offer too good to refuse.

A group called the Huntington Land Association, headed by a United Brethren minister who was also a contractor, wanted to develop an area north of Huntington, Ind., just outside the city limits. They used an arrangement which was not uncommon back then. There would be 262 lots in what was called the College Park Addition. These lots would sell for an average of $225. Here’s the deal: if the church would sell 102 of the lots, the Huntington Land Association would donate land for a college and spend at least $35,000 to erect a building.

We would basically be getting a college for free. A contract between the Huntington Land Association and the denomination was signed on March 11, 1896. Hartsville’s president, Bishop Halleck Floyd, protested on behalf of the Hartsville trustees, but in vain. The contract was signed. And thus began Central College–to be renamed Huntington College 20 years later.

Construction on what became the Administration Building started almost right away, and the foundation was completed by August. That meant they could lay the cornerstone.

That happened on August 18, 1896. It was a big event, with about a thousand people coming out. Two days before, a Chicago evangelist had conveniently concluded several weeks of revival meetings in Huntington. They moved his tent, platform, and chairs to the college site for the ceremony. A band from Huntington played music.

All of the bishops took part in the ceremony—Milton Wright, Horace Barnaby, Halleck Floyd, and Henry Becker. The cornerstone was a two-foot-square white marble block. Wright put a number of items into it: a Bible, a history of the United Brethren church, an 1893 UB Discipline, a copy of the Christian Conservator church paper, Sunday school quarterlies, the 1896 United Brethren yearbook, the business card of the contractor, and other papers. Two stone masons helped Wright position the cornerstone. And there it remained for 100 years.

The cornerstone was opened in 1997 during the college’s centennial year, and the time capsule was removed. Copies were made of all documents and placed in the Archives for a while. Then everything was returned to the time capsule–copies, in some cases, since insects had partially eaten some documents–and the time capsule was placed back in the cornerstone.

What about Hartsville College? On June 15, 1896, the Hartsville board of trustees voted to suspend operations for a year, and got on board with Central College. They gave the denominational Board of Education, which doubled as the Central College board of trustees, all of Hartsville’s books, records, student grades, etc. On January 30, 1898, fire destroyed the Hartsville building (possibly arson). No going back.

On Wednesday, August 22, 1980, Sierra Leone missionary teacher Jill Van Deusen couldn’t get out of bed.

The day before, she had told Dr. Ron Baker that she was experiencing weakness in her right hand. The sudden paralysis shocked Dr. Baker, and he wondered what they could do at Mattru Hospital, a minimally equipped bush hospital. How would they keep her breathing if her respiratory muscles became paralyzed? Could she survive being evacuated from the country?

He consulted, by radio, doctors in Freetown and at the Wesleyan hospital at Kamakwie; a doctor from the Catholic hospital in Serabu came to Mattru. They all agreed that Jill probably had Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare disease of the spinal cord, and that she needed to leave for Freetown immediately.

All of the missionaries pitched in. Judy Hoath ran the outpatient clinic. Sharon Frank took the Catholic doctor back to Serabu. Sharon Birdsall gathered the necessary drugs and medical equipment. Dennis Burkholder and Scott Taylor ran lab tests on Jill. Tina Wilkins helped care for Jill. Phil Fiedler made last-minute mechanical repairs on the hospital van. Cathy Jordan packed Jill’s things, and Jane Baker packed for Ron. Throughout the day, many Africans came to show their concern.

They removed the middle seat from the hospital van to accommodate a stretcher. Then, after a prayer time, Ron Baker and Sharon Birdsall, along with an African driver, began the long journey to Freetown. Cathy Jordan and another African followed behind in a Suzuki jeep. The bumpy dirt road jostled the stretcher, so they stopped several times to readjust it.

After two-and-a-half hours, they arrived in Bumpe, where Jerry Datema and June Brown were waiting. Datema offered a prayer before they continued the remaining 150 miles to Freetown. They arrived at Connaught Government Hospital in Freetown at 1:30 Thursday morning.

Jill’s paralysis hadn’t spread very much. Dr. Baker later wrote, “Her attitude in the face of near death and almost total paralysis revealed an underlying faith that we will never forget.”

Everyone agreed that Jill needed to be evacuated to a country where she could receive intensive medical care. They made arrangements for a flight on Friday morning. Ron realized he wouldn’t be able to care for Jill by himself, as previously planned, so he asked Sharon Birdsall to accompany him on the flight.

They got Jill used to breathing with the help of a hand-operated respiratory bag. As she grew accustomed to it, she relaxed and was able to breathe much more deeply than she could on her own.

Ron and Sharon kept busy the entire flight. Sharon stood on Jill’s right side with all the drugs and equipment, while Ron crouched in a seat behind Jill’s head. Every 2-3 minutes, he would hold the face mask snugly over Jill’s nose and mouth while Sharon squeezed the respiratory bag. Occasionally, they used a portable respirator, which delivered oxygen at a higher pressure so she could breathe more deeply. They kept her alive.

Within minutes of landing in Amsterdam, the waiting ambulance whisked them to the Wilhelmina Gasthuis medical center. Ron stayed there four more days, and was pleased by the excellent care Jill received. She seemed to be improving. Though still on a respirator, she was beginning to swallow liquids and slight movement had returned to her fingers.

Sharon stayed with Jill in Amsterdam. Jill was soon able to move her fingers and forearms, and then to breathe on her own for about ten minutes each hour…and then 30 minutes each hour. By September 15, she was moving her legs and sitting up in bed. Finally, she left the respirator entirely. During those weeks in Amsterdam, Jill received over 200 cards from people in Sierra Leone, North America, and Holland.

Jill and Sharon flew to the States on October 3. Sharon returned to Sierra Leone on October 10, while Jill continued to improve under regular physical therapy in Michigan.

Jill later wrote about that take-off from Freetown. “God comforted me with a dream. I saw our jet climbing, and I saw the curvature of the earth. We climbed higher until I saw the west side of the continent of Africa and we started veering west over the Atlantic toward the States. As we got higher, I noticed people standing around the globe in a ring, all holding hands. The jet went faster and faster. We started flying parallel with the people holding hands. No matter how fast we flew, the person next in view was already bowed in prayer. Only later did I know that by that time, people in the States had a fantastic safety net of prayer woven under me.”

Jill returned to Sierra Leone in September 1980, but her health didn’t hold up and she returned to the States in August 1981. She finished her career in Archbold, Ohio, as a teacher and library employee.

Jill Van Deusen passed away on May 23, 2013, at age 70.

The ruins of Lawrence, Kansas, after the raid.

The ruins of Lawrence, Kansas, after the raid.

Early on the morning of August 21, 1863, Confederate raider William Quantrill and about 450 guerrilla fighters descended on Lawrence, Kansas, a town of 3000 people which was considered an anti-slavery stronghold. During the next four hours, they massacred 185 men and boys–anybody big enough to carry a rifle–and left over 180 buildings burning.

The first person killed that morning was a United Brethren minister. Rev. Samuel Snyder was milking his cow on his farm outside of town when a couple guerrillas rode up and shot him three times. Since Snyder had ministered in Lawrence for nearly ten years, we can assume that other United Brethren men and boys were among those slain that morning.

As Kansas and Missouri were opened to settlers, the question was: when they achieved statehood, would they be pro-slavery or anti-slavery? The two sides clashed, often violently. United Brethren people were particularly conspicuous, since the denomination had taken a strong stand against slavery in 1821 and forbid members to own slaves.

Bishop Henry Kumler Jr. and Rev. Josiah Terrell visited southwestern Missouri in 1853. They preached in various places and organized several churches, which were organized in 1854 into the Southwest Mission Conference. Annual meetings were held until 1859, when the “violent and murderous frenzy” of pro-slavery people made it too perilous for our ministers and people. Historian Daniel Berger wrote, “The work was permitted to decline, and no further sessions were held until after the close of the [Civil] War.”

Historian William McKee wrote about the work in Missouri, “Hatred to the United Brethren Church by slaveholders, on account of her testimony against the institution of slavery, well nigh extinguished the work in that part of the state….Our preachers were compelled to leave the country and seek homes elsewhere.” But in northern Missouri, a conference was organized in 1858, with 358 members and nine locations. By the next spring, membership had grown to over 800.

Kansas, located to the north of Missouri, was more friendly to the anti-slavery cause. But not by much.

The first United Brethren missionary to Kansas was Rev. W. Cardwell, who came from Indiana in the early 1850s and started the first UB church in Kansas; it was located in Lecompton, about 50 miles west of Kansas City. He was soon joined by two ministers from western Pennsylvania, Samuel Snyder and J. S. Gingerich, who settled near Lawrence, about 15 miles from Lecompton.

Rev. J. C. Bright wrote in 1855: “The political sky in Kansas is cloudy at present, but freedom must in the end prevail. If Kansas should ever be a slave state, we ought not to abandon it. The gospel of Christ is light, and wherever the dark cloud of slavery is spread, there the light should be diffused. Through sore troubles and persecutions, our brethren continue to prosecute their work, frequently mobbed, waylaid, shot at, threatened, troubled on every side, but not in despair.”

In October 1857, in a meeting at the home of Rev. Snyder, Bishop David Edwards officially organized Kansas Conference with nine ministers and about 200 lay members.

Daniel Berger wrote that these United Brethren, even in the years before the Civil War, “literally passed through fire, being often waylaid and shot at by assassins, had their houses broken into, and were themselves dragged into prison. Their persecutors sought to intimidate them by threats and violence, and by repeated assaults to drive them out of this country. But they were brave men, after the true apostolic type, and continued to preach in the presence of armed foes, often themselves guarded by rifles in the hands of those who came to hear.”

According to one source, Snyder was the only active military officer killed in the raid. About 20 black recruits whom Snyder had recently enlisted into the Second Kansas Colored Infantry camped in Lawrence. All, upon hearing gunfire, were able flee to safety. However, 22 young white volunteers who had joined another regiment were sleeping in tents a few blocks away, and all but five of them were chased down and killed.