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Beginning of the story


His grandfather on the father's side was an Englishman; on the mother's side, a Scotchman. The Wallers at one time lived in Kentucky, and were noted as being strong Baptists. Many of them were preachers, and were the peers of any Baptist preacher in the State. His own father was one of the leading men in the Baptist ministry in Kentucky. He was a stern, yet loving man in his home circle. His word was law. He spake and it was done.

Of such a parentage, the subject of this sketch was born in Orleans, Orange County, Ind., Sept. 9, 1817. Like his Master, he was born while his parents were on a journey. For a few years he lived in the home in Kentucky, then moved, with his parents, near Jacksonville, Illinois, where he lived for some few years.

Like many of his day, he received but a meager education, from an attendance of from one to three months at the common school each year, till he was somewhere in his "teens." An amusing incident occurred when he was a small boy: A neighbor, by the name of Boyer, had learned to like Mac, as nearly everybody called him, and had insisted on putting him in a new suit of boy's clothes. The mother, however, objected, on the ground that he should ware his frocks some time yet. At last the father pleaded with her in behalf of neighbor Boyer, till she consented to the pants and boots.

Neighbor Boyer soon returned from the city with the regulation red morocco hat, red-top boots, pants and coat, and soon this embryo preacher was strutting around in his new regalia. Now, neighbor Boyer had also bought the boy a game cock and a lap dog. He had some trouble over the dog and got a flogging; and before sunset, while walking around the yard, with his hands deep in his pockets, that game cock flew at him, in his morocco hat, and downed him, and was beating the life out of the boy when the mother came to the rescue, and the fowl beat a hasty retreat.

He can not remember when he could not read the Bible. He was a preacher from earliest childhood. He had played preacher often while the "old folks" were gone to church, by gathering around him the neighbor children. The first real sermon was preached one Sunday, at the age of ten, on the text, "You're a Fool."

He had heard an aged Methodist preacher, Lytle by name, who would hold the sinner just above that awful hell, hanging by a thread, that trapdoors all lifted, and the "bull dogs of hell leaping to devour him." The boy had often heard the children saying "You're a fool, You're a fool." So he uses the old preacher's "hell-fire logic" on those degenerate children, and teaches them a lesson they do not soon forget.

A little later his father dies, and his mother moves with her family to Pittsfield, Illinois. It was at Pittsfield he began regular work as a preacher. From childhood, he had been teaching the Bible to his playmates. Sometimes the subject would be communion; at other times, "Once in grace, always in grace." The children would speak of these things to their parents, who soon became so interested that Mac was often an invited guest at the various firesides.


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