It must have been in the spring of 1915 the two preachers, John Verner and Gus Cox, came down the coast on the Glencoe and landed at Little Bay, then walked the five miles out to where we lived in West Point. It seems that Mr. and Mrs. Cutler at St. Georges, had encouraged them to come to our part. Someone had told them George Anderson had a store they might be able to use for meetings. It was built by Uncle Manasseh, and I believe he had done a lot to the house that Granny and Grandfather lived in.
The workers stopped at our house and Mother asked them in. They inquired where George Anderson lived and she pointed to the house just down the path from ours. They went to the home and Grandfather happened to be in a good mood. Mother had heard somehow about two preachers who might come. Some had said to be careful because they could be German spies. She and Father were not afraid of those stories and seemed anxious to hear them, as they were dissatisfied with what they had in religion. Anyway, mother was uneasy, afraid Grandfather would say NO to the men and after John and Gus went into the house she went down and listened at the door. She heard Grandfather say, “Why use the store — why not use the kitchen for your meetings?” It was a nice large room. John then asked where they could stay. Grandfather said, “Stay right here!” and they stayed the eight weeks until the mission finished. I don’t believe he charged them a cent. All went well as far as Grandfather was concerned, until the meetings were tested and Granny decided.
When the meetings started, the people walked for miles from La Plant and all around. At night we could see people coming with their lanterns from everywhere. But — as the meetings continued and they saw what it would mean, many of the folks stopped coming, and turned against the Truth.
The minister got up against them and had a lot to say. Sometimes John and Gus would go to the afternoon meeting at the church (there was always three services on Sunday) and then have their own Gospel meeting at night. John was a marvelous preacher, but poor Gus only was able to speak briefly, but we soon loved both boys. John was an Irishman and Gus was from Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
In those days the workers believed they should not go from house to house while working a mission so they stayed with Granny and Grandfather for meals all during the mission. Mother Father and others wanted so much to have them come for a meal, and they had lots of questions to ask them, but they stayed “put.”
When the meetings were tested, eight women professed. Besides Granny there were Mother, Aunt Minnie, Aunt Jennie Anderson, Aunt Sophie, Aunt Barb, Allie, and Hattie Evans, our teacher. It wasn’t long after they professed, when on a Sunday morning, they were baptized in a cove. It was in back of where Uncle Bobby Anderson lived. It must have been so cold for it was early spring, but those poor souls were willing for anything.
Before the baptism that morning, something came up to test them. There was a paper going around which told about the workers belonging to what they called the “White Slave Traffic.” It said they were taking away young girls. On the night before the baptism, one of their papers was given to Hattie Evans. She was boarding with Uncle Bobby Strickland and Aunt Vange. Hattie came out to our house just before the baptism and handed mother the paper. There was no time for Mother to read it and so she laid it to the one side. Hattie, so worried about what the paper said, was trying to hold Mother back from going ahead with the baptism, but Mother said to her, “We’ll be baptized just the same.” And they were.
After the baptism, and they were dressed in dry clothing and their wet ones hung out to dry, Mother read the article and took it right away to John Verner. He read it and immediately he and Gus left. They went right to the ones responsible and made them put a signed notice in the paper saying the article was untrue. Believe the paper was the Family Herald, a Canadian paper. It was a slap in the face to a lot of people who were against the Truth for they would have been glad if it were true about the workers, so as to have something on them.
Another thing that happened that morning of baptism was that Father, for almost the first time since the meetings started, decided he would go to the Methodist church. I felt sad. Father was troubled, but he was fighting it. This Truth, of course, was all so new — never had anyone heard of a religion like this before, and they didn’t know of anyone who believed it. They stood alone. I said to Father, “Aren’t you going to see Ma baptized?” He spoke sharp and said, “No, I don’t want to see such childishness.” I was hurt and Mother too, but we said nothing. Grandfather had attended the Gospel meetings, but he never stopped going to the church. This morning he and Father walked home from church together. He said to Father, “This ends it. When I go home I am booting those preachers out the door.” Father said, “Why, aren’t you going to go in for this — don’t you believe it’s right?” He answered, “No, they have insulted me twice.” He went home and told them to leave, but Uncle Manasseh and Aunt Barb took them in their home. They stayed with them until they left West Point, except they did go to the homes of some of the ones who had professed for meals and visits.
The workers taught the ones who had professed about the little meetings. They had them meet together three times a week; Sunday morning and Sunday night and a night during the week. I’m sure John arranged, seeing there was no man professing yet, for Mother to lead the meetings. Then Father and Uncle Eph took the workers up the coast to Rose Blanche. Two couples had professed there, one by the name of John and Mary Parsons and a Will Foss and his wife. I am not sure, but I think there was also a young girl who had made her choice.
At West Point the little meetings continued and every one of the men attended. Mother would test the meetings and one by one Uncle Manasseh, Uncle Eph, Uncle Bobby and Sam Anderson, George, Reg, and I professed. Also, Aunt Vange. Father still held back, but never missed a meeting, and I feel he was pleased when we children decided. About nine months later, John Verner returned with Charlie Hughes, and on an Easter Sunday they had a meting at Uncle Manasseh’s home. They tested that meeting and Father made his choice. We were all so happy. Years later in a Gospel meeting in Boston, the workers unexpectedly left the meeting open for testimony. There was a long pause and then Father stood to his feet. He said, “I am on my feet but what shall I say? I didn’t even bring my Bible. I didn’t expect to be speaking in this meeting.” He spoke from hymn 114. He said, “For a long time after the Gospel came I tried to find a loophole, a way out. I was unwilling, but I got to see that, like the hymn my way is wrong, God’s way is right, His way is seen in Jesus.” I was not in the meeting. I was in the work at the time, but someone wrote me about it. Perhaps it was Mother. What Father had said about trying to find a loophole, a “way out” had truly been his experience.
I remember Uncle Bobby Strickland being so zealous in the Methodist church. He did not want the Truth. Aunt Vange had decided but he held back. Time went on and one Sunday morning, as she was walking to go out to West Point to the meeting, she suddenly decided to go back to ask him if he wanted to go with her. To her surprise he got up, put on his hat and went with her. When everyone had finished taking part in the mtg., he said, “I have something to say, too.” He made it known that he wanted to cast in his lot with the people of God. Everyone rejoiced in the meeting that day! I had left home but Mother wrote me about it. It wasn’t too long after that Uncle Bobby took sick, filled up with cancer. All the folks around used to go to sit up nights with him when he neared the end. One night he talked to Mother and Father about their taking his funeral. Mother had talked with the workers before they left regarding what they should do if someone died, and there would be no workers to take the funeral. John told them, “A couple of you have a short word and pray. Something like a little meeting. Sing a few hymns.”
Now a funeral was nearing. Father said to Uncle Bobby that night, “Will Roy be willing that we take your funeral?” (Roy had not yet professed.) Uncle Bobby called Roy in and he was agreeable to what his father wanted. Uncle Bobby told Father, “You read Psalm 40, and tell them this is what the Lord has done for me. He took me out of a horrible pit and he set my feet upon a rock.” He made it easy for them to take his service after he was gone. At the funeral, Father told them just what Uncle Bobby had said. There had never been a funeral before since the Truth came, and the unsaved were so sure the friends would just have to go back to the church when someone died. They would not allow them to bury their dead in the cemetery, so they dug a grave on Father’s land for Uncle Bobby.
Everyone around came to the funeral for they were anxious to see how it would be conducted. Everything went so well. I believe two of the hymns that were sung were “Bravely tread the Path with Jesus” and “I cannot now go back.” Everyone sang with fervor and they said Aunt Vange sang with all her heart. The next day, a Ryles girl was buried in the Harbor and my folks and all the friends went to the funeral. Everything went wrong. The preacher was tongue-tied — he could hardly read a few verses. They could not start the tunes, and Aunt Minnie had to start them. After the funeral was over Uncle Perch came up to Father and Mother and patted them on the shoulder and said, “I was some proud of you folks yesterday.” He had been so impressed by the contrast in the two funerals, and how well Uncle Bobby’s funeral had gone. It was because the Lord was with those weak folks. In the next meeting, Uncle Perc professed and Aunt Beat also decided. I don’t remember when Uncle Pliney and Aunt Jennie professed. It may have been after I left home. I left home when 17 years old and went to Canada to work.
One by one those precious souls were brought in, and isn’t it grand to think of them all so safely in the Eternal Harbor. Guess the only one left of that generation of the folks who made their choice is Aunt Beat.
Before Uncle Bobby Strickland decided, he went up the coast somewhere and came back with a lot of catechisms. They were to be taught in the school, orders of Dr. Curtis, who controlled the schools. Uncle Manasseh, Uncle Eph and others had come to our house and all were worried over their children having to be taught the catechism. They said someone should go in to talk to the teacher. Mother ended up being the one to go — and she went in fear and trembling. She knocked at the schoolhouse door and the teacher came to the door. Mother told her she had heard that catechisms were to be taught to the children and said, “I respect Dr. Curtis’s wishes in regard to educating my children, but I do not want them to be taught the catechism. The Bible says we are to teach our children the Bible in our homes.” Tears ran down the teacher’s cheeks and she said, “Alright, Mrs. Anderson, I’ll do as you say.” The catechisms were not taught in the school and nothing more was heard about them. Mother said that as she turned from that door that day to walk home, she felt like David must have felt when he killed Goliath!
Hattie Evans had been our teacher for several years, but when she professed Dr. Curtis would not allow her to teach in Newfoundland any more. I remember part of the letter she wrote to him. “If I had lost ten schools I would not flinch, and I hope some day you will see what I see.” She went to Cape Breton and got a job as a Governess, taking care of a little boy. The child’s father, Mr. Hefferman, got to see the Truth and professed through her life and testimony. She later married Chesley Ball and had two children, Elton and then Vernelle. She died when her third child was born — she and the child died together.
Grandfather made it very hard for Granny after she professed. One night she and Bridget (Bridget lived with them) were up to our house and we were singing hymns. It wasn’t dark when they went home. Grandfather met them on the porch and grabbed Granny by the throat and threw her down. He would have choked her to death but Bridget screamed and Father and others heard and came running. Father stopped Grandfather and saved Granny’s life. Another time she feared for her life was when he tore downstairs in the night. She thought he was going after the knife to kill her. But he came back upstairs without the knife — he shook the bed hard and then got into bed again. He didn’t harm her. But Grammy kept true through all the testing. It is good to think of them all keeping true and of the children that followed in their steps by choosing Truth for themselves. I often think of that hymn, “SWEET IS THE STORY YOU SHALL TELL AT EVENTIDE, WHEN DAY IS DONE.” It surely is a sweet story, one that will never lose its appeal.
As told by Ethel (Anderson) Burgess