An Account of the Gospel coming to the West Coast of Newfoundland

It was in the winter of 1910-1911, that Two Strange Preachers came to the Village of Cox’s Cove, Bay Of Islands. I believe at first they got the use of a small store. that was used for packing herring in, but after a week or two, one of our neighbours offered the use of his front room, or parlor for meetings.
The Two Preachers were from Ireland. They were John Stone and Sam Charlton. I don’t know how many meetings they had in this neighbour’s home, but another home opened up for them to stay and also to have meetings. This man’s name was Joseph Abbott (a brother of Will Abbott’s,) who lived in Boswarlos and who later professed. Joe Abbott showed an interest in the Truth. He, his wife, and several of his children professed, before the mission was over. About this time my father and mother became interested, and after attending several meetings they too professed. Altogether, there were 14 or 15 people who professed there in that village.
There were a few families who lived up in Goose Arm, about 8 or 10 miles farther up in the Arm. One of the older men who lived there, Sandy Wells Sr. and his wife and some of the grown children professed. This would be in the following years, 1912-1913. Early in 1912 (May month), there was a Baptism in Cox’s Cove. My mother and father and several others took the step of Baptism.
The first Convention held on the West Coast of NFLD was in Cox’s Cove. It would be in 1912 or 1913. These things happened before I was born, but my Mother and Father told us children the story a few times. They remembered that Sandy Wells Sr., brought a large fresh salmon from Goose Arm for the Convention dinner.
It seems that the workers had more meetings in the fall of 1912, there at Cox’s Cove, because Hewitt Cutler from St. Georges was working out there in the herring factory. He attended the Gospel Meetings in Cox’s Cove. We believe he invited the workers to come to St. Georges, which they did. This could be in 1913. We know that several of the Cutler’s and families attended the Gospel meetings there and professed. Since then the Convention has been held at St Georges, NFLD. Up to this time we know that John and Sam had some opposition from the residents of Cox’s Cove, because they came up with a letter to my fathers place, where they were staying at the time. It stated that they had 24 hours to leave the village, but John spoke just a few words to the delegation reminding them of their obligation to uphold the Open Bible. It seemed to satisfy them, as they left without another word. There were about 30 men in that delegation.
Up to this time there are no fellowship meetings in Cox’s Cove, but there is one in Gillams, about 10 miles south from there and also one in Irishtown, another 10 miles toward Corner Brook. It would be in about the same years that the Truth came to Cox’s Cove, that Sam Charleton and John Stone made that remarkable trip to Lark Harbour, walking on the ice. It must have been in early April as the ice was quite solid in the inner Bay Of Islands, but as it often happens the ice was loose out at the head lands of Bay Of Islands. Lark Harbour is the last settlement before one enters the Gulf of St. Lawrence. They must have left quite early in the morning on that walk, as it would be about 20 miles or more. They reached the entrance of Lark Harbour safely but the ice was loose there and they had to keep off. The ice was moving then. They passed the entrance, and they managed to get ashore past a huge upright cliff, possibly one thousand feet high.
They couldn’t possibly return to Lark Harbour, so had to keep going on around the shore climbing around the rocks and going up around the cliffs. For a few miles on that shore it is impossible to go up to the top, some places the rocks overhang the shore. Finally in the late afternoon, Sam found a sloping place where he thought he might get up. “Sam told me this story over fifty years later.”
He climbed and climbed holding on to bushes growing in the crevices. John had gone on to see what was around the next point of land jutting out in the sea. He came back and saw that Sam had made it to the top. He started to climb and Sam told me in these words, “I tell you I was a happy man when I reached out and took John by the shoulders and pulled him in over.” By this time it was dark. They were on the top of a mountain and no one was living near. They kept moving in the same general direction until they spied a light away down in the VALLEY. It is a very rough country there but after many detours, they finally made it to a little house in Batteau Cove. Batteau means boat, and it is presently called Bottle Cove. The people treated them kindly, fed them, and gave them dry socks. The boys told them that they had come down over that mountain there. They replied, “You didn’t come that way.” In the morning they had to see for themselves the tracks in the snow. This poor man couldn’t lodge them for the night, but they did get in with another man who was better off financially, but when he knew the boys were looking for a place to preach in, he said. “We will put you up for tonight and tomorrow you can get on your way.”
I feel we should add this little bit to prove that this hard experience was not in vain. There was a man living in Lark Harbour, who heard that the boys had been turned away by one of the head men of the place. He said this, “If I had known about those men, I would have given them a place to preach.” Somebody brought that word back to the workers. Shortly after they went back to Lark Harbour and contacted that man. He was true to his word and took them in and gave them a place to have meetings. Later he and his wife, son and two daughters professed and continued and died in the Way of God. This man was John Higgins, his wife Betsy, Maria, and Lillian. I just felt you would like to know of this as I got it first hand from Sam Charlton.
I might mention the ones who professed in the meetings in Cox’s Cove were Arthur and Lily Earl (John’s father and mother), Alexander Wells, (Sandy Well’s father and Willie Well’s grandfather,) Anne Kate Well, Sarah May Abbott, (Joe’s wife Agnes), Gus Cox, Jim Cox, Martha Cox, Maria Cox, (Jim’s Sister), Samuel Park (he didn’t go on), Lizzie Henry (Alexander Wells sister).
I’ll add this: The Cutlers were Methodist, Hewitt Cutler, and his father, Edward, professed during the first meetings in St. Georges. A group of the neighbours (including the Cutler men) were talking about these preachers who had come to their community. One of them said, “If those men came to my door, I’d send them away in a hurry.” Willie Cutler replied, “If I did that, I would feel I was turning away the Son of God.” He later professed and was true to the end.
We trust that this may be a help to you.
John Earl