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The Baptists of Oregon and Washington PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sonora A. Hess   

Messenger of Peace--February 1, 1908 

My Dear Brother:

In complying with your recent request to write an article for the Monitor re­garding the Baptists in the west, I conclude the most interesting thing I can write is a brief account of the churches, as I find in an old file of minutes of the Siloam Association, preserved by my dear parents, T. O. and Emily S. Flanary, during their life time, and also in later years from my own acquaintance with the members of the several churches. The account will necessarily he brief to come within the compass of a. magazine article.

At a meeting held with the Hillsborough church, Marion County, Oregon Territory, commencing on Friday before the first Saturday in Oct. 1849, to inquire into the expediency of constituting an association, an introductory discourse was delivered by Eider Wm. Simpson. The following named churches sent messengers to represent them Hillsborough, Elder Wm. Simpson, Benj. Monkers, Nicholas Shrum and John Stipp; Molalla, Jas. Officer and John Gribble; Little Bethel, Wm. Alphin and John T. Crooks. Elder Wm. Simpson was chosen moderator and Brother J. T. Crooks, clerk. Wm. Alphin, Jas. Officer, John Stipp, with the moderator and clerk were appointed a committee on arrange­ments to draft a constitution, articles of faith and rules of decorum. They re­ported the following preamble, constitution and rules of decorum.

Preamble: We, the churches of Jesus Christ being baptized on a profession of our faith in Christ, believing the church is but one in her visible appearance in the world, and believing ourselves to be so many particles of the visible church of Christ, and that it is our duty to cultivate acquaintance among each other and thus maintain harmony, Christian union and fellowship among the members of the body of Christ to the glory of God and benefit of his children, do agree, for these purpose, to unite together and open a Christian correspondence through the medium of an Association on the following constitution, articles of faith, and rules of decorum.

The first complete minute in the file is of the fourth annual meeting, held with the Molalla church, Clackamas County, Oregon Territory, commencing on Friday, the 17th of June, 1853, and continuing, the two following days. There is a circular letter by J. T. Crooks supposed to belong to the minutes for 1851. The year following, 1852, the articles of faith and circular letter are printed, with Elder Isom Cranfill, moderator, and J. T. Crooks, clerk. In this fragment of minute, yellow with age, we find there were to be held during the year, a three days meeting with each of four churches, one with the arm of another church, and one at the house of Brother Thos. Alford. There were six elders mentioned, viz., Geo Wills, John Mansfield, Joseph Turnidge, Wm. Simpson, Isom Cranfill and Benj. Simpson; John Stipp and Jas. Bassett were also mentioned, but not as elders. The former was or­dained before the fourth meeting of the association, June,1853.

Elder Isom Cranfill acted as moderator for thirteen years, when Elder John Stipp served until July 1878, when he, owing to deafness, was succeeded by Elder Wm. M. Townsend. Brother J. T. Crooks served as clerk continuously, excepting one year, until 1879, being succeeded by Brother E. T. T. Fisher. Brother John T. Crooks died Jan. 31, 1896, in the 89th year of his age. He united with the church when, seventeen years old. At the time of his death he was the sole survivor of those who constituted the Siloam Association in Oct. 1849, he being on the committee to draft the constitution, articles of faith and rules of decorum. Also he was the last one of those who were constituted into the church called Little Bethel, at the house of Brother Exum Powell in Linn county, Oregon, Nov. 1848, which church, in 1867, dropped from its name the word “Little” and is now known as Bethel church. Be­sides those mentioned above Elder Abner Shanks served as moderator, also the present moderator, Elder W. S. Matthews, has served for twenty years. Elder Wm. M. Townsend, E. T. T. Fisher, E. Loat, Levi McQueen and N. J. Shanks have ll served as clerk. Brother Shanks is our present clerk and is careful and painstaking in his work.

In the “50’s” we find the names of Elders J. Stripp, Ezra Stout, J. Turnidge, J. Mansfield, Geo. Wills, Isom Cranfill, Jas. Bassett, Wm. and Benj. Simpson, and Brethren J. T. Crooks. E. Walden, P. Glover, N. Shrum, Edward Morgan, Wm,. B. Earnest, J. H. Adams, prominent as messengers.

In the “60’s” we find added to the above, the names of Elders John Gribble, M. Loveridge, Jas. A. Bullack, Wm. M. Townsend, Abner Shanks and Joseph Hartley, and Brethren Samuel Kincaid, R. Gibson. B. Munkers, C. Clymer, T. G. Flanary, G. W. Hail. Then follows the names of Elders E. T. T. Fisher, B. W. Gilmore, J. M. Savage.

In the “70’s” we have the names of Elders A. T. Beebe, E. E. Cooper, Wm. Morrow, J. P. Allison, and Brethren Geo. E. Mayfield, (now an elder) B. Lipcomb, Jeptha Thornton, Jacob Heckard, W. B. Martin, and Deacons David Baker, Wm. Shearer, W. T. Tinsley, S. R. Darland, E. Loat, M. and J. Vanderpool— the latter is now an ordained elder.

During the next decade we find, as messengers, the following additional names: Elders Silas Williams, Joel San­ford, V. J. Turnidge, J. C. Turnidge, I. N. Newkirk, Judson Loofburrow, David Lilly, D. Bridges, J. W. H. Adkins, Nathan Walden, Jeptha Thornton and Brother Wm. Clymer. During the next fifteen years we find the names of Elders J. M. Lawrence, A. J. Jarnigan, W. J. Hess, W. H. Gilmore, G. R. Girard, F. L. Rife, Amos Homer, Jesse Thornton, B. S. Pate, I. F. Coleman, W. R. Belcher, and Brother Jas. Wadkins, now deceased.

But to return to the early days of the association. We find that in 1865 there were sessions of two parties claiming to be the Siloam Association, one with messengers from five churches, the other with three churches represented, and two others admitted at the session of the association. One was known as the Gregg and the other as the Stipp party. Without going into the details of the separation or the cause of it and the conse­quent sorrow in Zion, we would pass over the troublous times to the later period when all the elders, excepting Elder Gregg, and nearly all the brethren and sisters became reconciled and united with the “Stipp party,” which is the Siloam Association of today. I have on file minutes from nineteen different associa­tions and corresponding meetings from nine different States which, at least the most of them, were in correspondence with the Siloam Association, the oldest being those of the “Northwest Regular Bap­tist Association of correspondence of Mis­souri,” bearing date of 1854, and part of one minute of 1850. The one for 1854 contains the names, as messengers, of Elders P. P. Chamberlain, S. J. Lowe, J. Lambert, and Brethren Thos. Shearer, D. Vanbuskirk, James W. Foley. Brother T. Shearer was still living a few months ago. In a minute of the First North­western Association I find that Elder J. P. Allison, now of Siloam Association, was invited to a seat in council from “The Turkey River” Association. Elder I. N. Vanmeter was also present from Spoon River Association.

One noticeable feature in the early minutes is the amount contributed for the printing of the minutes—one year there being $47.75; other years ranging from $25.00 to $37.50. In 1878 several Baptists located in Klickitat county, Washington Territory, there being four or five already there, and in December of that year they were constituted into a church which, with three other churches of eastern Oregon and Washington, formed the Columbia River Association. In 1881, two more churches were added. Ten or twelve years had passed when trouble arose about members affiliating with secret societies. The churches in Klickitat county and at Dayton, Washington, afterwards united with the Siloam Association.. I think the Columbia River was discon­tinued after 1893 or ‘94. Since then a reconciliation has been effected between the estranged brethren; peace and harmony prevail and love in one delightful stream enables us to exclaim in joy and sincerity, “Behold, bow good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity,” and may we be kept at the feet of our dear Savior in such humility and love that jars and schisms may be unknown.

For those of your readers who may be isolated from church privileges in the far west, I wish to say there is a church near Weiser, Idaho, where Elders Barton and J. C. Turnidge live. There is one at Elgin, Oregon, with Elder G. E. Mayfield as pastor; another at Dayton, Washington, with Elder B. S. Pate, pastor. Elder I. N. Newkirk, of Waitsburg, Washington, is also a member at Dayton. There is one at Spokane, Washington, Elder Syester is pastor. Elder W. T. Eaton, Egypt, Wash­ington, also attends this church. There is a church at Touchet, Washington, with Elder J. T. Barnes as pastor. They have had a refreshing season within the past few months, having received several members, so-me by experience and baptism. There are several Baptists near Cunning­ham, Brother R. M. Foley residing in the town; also a church near North Yakima, Washington, with Elder W. J. Hess pastor, Elder W. H. Gilmore, assistant pastor. There are Baptists at or near the following towns: Cashmere, Wenatche, Chelan, Quincy, Hatton, Lantz, Winona, Colfax, Bellingham, Everett, Issaquah, Puyallup, Auburn, Mt. Vernon, Seattle, Flarrington, Goldendale and Eltopia, Washington. Elder R. B. Langford lives near the last named town, and he and Elder J. T. Barnes, and W. T. Brown, of Missouri, were the visiting ministers at our last association. There are thirteen churches in the Siloam Association, and nine others not connected with any association. There are sixteen ordained ministers and three licentiates in the Siloam Association. There are a few dear ones contending for sound doctrine at Riverside, California. My husband passed a very pleasant week, or nearly so, with them last winter. Elder Duniway lived there and preached for them. This winter Elder W. W. Polk, of Berkeley, Cal., visited them—returning to his home to spend Thanksgiving Day with his daughter—having lost his wife a few months ago. He intended to return to Riverside, but died on Thanksgiving Day. There are also Baptists at Seabright, Yuba City and Los Angeles.

Of the members of the Siloam Association in the early days, but few remain. Among them I may mention Sister Louisa Pitman, of Salem, Ore., as having belonged to the association longer than any one now living. Brother J. L. Chamberlain and wife, of North Yakima, Sister M. J. Cummins, of Touchet, and Brother Wm. Savage of Dayton, Wash., are among those who united with the church when Oregon was a wilder­ness. The ministers then traveled principally on horseback, when visiting the churches and I can recall watching them with childish curiosity, as they fastened on their heavy woolen or leather leggings, preparatory for their long journey home. In later years, in the “70’s” and “80’s,” we went in carriages or hacks, sometimes as much as two hundred miles to attend the associa­tion, the company gathering reinforce­ments along the way, until we numbered twenty or more in the crowd, camping on the open prairie when night overtook us or, if the weather was inclement, in barns or houses, but always happy company. With the coming of the railways, trains have taken the place of the carriages; and while one can go with-greater comfort I doubt if there is any more enjoyment.

There has been no controversy here about time salvation and predestination, and I am glad it is so, for in our contentions and bickerings we are not praising God or helping his cause, and we should be careful to not offend one of these little ones.

Having met, or personally known, nearly ninety per cent of those mentioned, the writing of this sketch has brought to mind each particular one, as I knew them, and this has brought a degree of loneliness as It think of the greater number that we will know on earth no more forever; yet we have this assurance, God will not leave him­self without a witness.

 Sonora A. Hess.

North Yakima, Washington
Jan. 7, 1906.
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