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Beginning of the story


Mac rode this year alone in the evangelistic work, I say "rode," for this was the age just preceding the advent of the railroad into this part of the country.

Bro. Roberts had refused to go out another year, because the salary was too small. His family were very needy, and so he was driven to secular employment to provide the necessaries of life.

We are prone to ask right here why our preachers then were not better paid. Possibly it was for the same reason that our forefathers were without food and barefoot at Valley Forge.

Mac also refused to go and be so tightly bound by the Home Board. He said: "Men and brethren, often during the past we have been ordered by you away from meetings when we realized that we were just getting a good interest. Now, I want no shackles, but want to remain as long at any place as the people there and I think best. I want to be free in these matters."

They thought this was giving "a boy" a good deal of authority, but when they found out that he would not go otherwise, they sent him on his own terms. The returns of work done this year were strangely larger than last year. The brethren were delighted and made him general evangelist for all the state or elsewhere.

He traveled all over Illinois, and portions of Missouri in the river counties, with wonderful success. With God's help, and God's Book in his hand and heart, he closed the four years' evangelistic work with thousands converted. I asked Bro. Waller: "How do you account for such great results?" And he replies: "Because the contrast between the Bible plea and the sectarian plea was so great that it seemed a new light shining in dark places."

Now what of the compensation? Bro. James Chineworth gave him a calf worth about $2.50. One old sister gave him a home-made pair of socks. Young Sister Sarah gave him the finest pair of knit gloves he has ever seen. This in material compensation, was all he received for the four years' work as an evangelist.

Again he finds his clothes threadbare and patched, and presents a shabby appearance for the pulpit. He refuses to go out into the field regularly for a time, and replenishes his wardrobe by teaching school, and still preaches where and when he can. The school teaching is over, and again he goes out evangelizing. Thus, year after year, he teaches, clerks and preaches until his health gives way entirely and he removes to Oregon. He can't remember when he ceased to preach regularly even though he often turned to secular employment for a season.

Soon he is told that he must die of consumption. He is no longer able to work much. He had always been a slender, puny lad physically, but now all thought the end had come. Some advised him to go to Texas, others to join the emigration to Oregon. This he did. An ox team and wagon are soon secured, and a bed fixed in the wagon for the sick boy. The Brethren in Pittsfield must hear there own Mac again before he leaves, so he is hauled and carried to the rocker in the pulpit, and on the Lord's Day, April 4, 1847, he preached, while sitting in the chair, his last sermon in Illinois. On Monday morning, April 5, 1847, he, with many others, set sail in the ship of the American Desert, the ox team, for the land of the Willamette.

To one whose love of home is great and who loves the association of early life, it is no easy task to fold up tent and hie away to a wild and distant land. But now comes "good bye" to old friends, and while "tears do unbidden start," the oxen, with their slow tread, begin their long, weary journey.

On the morning of April 5, 1847, with his mother, younger brother and neighbors, Mac is seen to pass over the hill top, and Illinois has lost a son she loved, and Oregon begins to gain one who is to be a prominent character in her formative period.

Among those who set sail in the "Ship of the Desert" were the following families: Father Landis, Felix Landis, Abram Landis, --- Shull, Sam Whitely, H.A. Johnson, Nathan Richardson, H.M. Waller and G.T. Waller. There was also a bachelor wagon with John Richie, James Richie, Thomas Humphrey and Frank Barrow.


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