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Beginning of the story


About this time the number of preachers is increased by the following: John Powell, Alfred Powell, Noah Powell, John E. Murphy and John Rigdon.

For a profile of the Powell brothers.
For a profile of John E. Murphy.
For a profile of John Rigdon.

In consultation relative to the future work in the State, it is concluded that a more systematic work be inaugurated. They decide to send out an evangelist with and by authority. Bro. John Powell is selected to go out as such evangelist.

About this time a new system of raising funds is proposed by Bro. Waller as follows: We find that Paul, in second Corinthians, eighth chapter and tenth to fourteenth verse, speaks of three things relative to the collections: (a) That the offering be a free-will offering; (b) That it be by equality; (c) That all should be liberal givers. Then he said: "I will voluntarily offer to be taxed as I am worth, or ad valorum."

Brethren Ray, Rowland, Orville Waller, Thomas Waller, James Ladd, and a few others, agreed to the same. Bro. Waller's own church - Eola - decides on its own "hook" to send him out on these terms. Before the year had gone Polk, Marion and Yamhill counties adopt the same plans for evangelizing.

As Bro. Waller goes out over the State of Oregon, he teaches churches relative to this. He went to the various churches teaching them this system, and appealing for aid to his home congregation that had sent him out. He returns at the close of a year with the Eola church owing him but five dollars.

In succeeding years he preaches and evangelizes in answer to calls from churches and communities not under the authority of any church or the State Board. In one of these trips out he organizes the church at Dufur, east of the Cascades. On another occasion he organizes the church at Summit, on the top of the Coast Range. Still again he is found to be in the Upper Willamette, in a little retreat away among the mountains of Southern Oregon. This was very fittingly called Lost Valley. Here a good meeting was held with excellent results.

On his return home he finds many letters from churches and communities asking him to hold meetings. At least two classes apply for help: (1) Those who promise compensation, and (2) those who said: "Come; we are not able to pay you, for we are all very poor." Then that good wife would say to him: "Go to those most needy; the others who promise pay can get somebody else who can't afford to do as you can." This he did. For such crucifixion of self I have no criticism; but rather a prayer of thankfulness that in my kind I find such Christ-like deeds of love.

In the summer of 1871, Elder Waller travels around more than usual with his sick daughter, Melissa, who has been terribly afflicted of a spinal trouble. Soon he goes with his wife and sick daughter to Sodaville, to see what the springs might do for the afflicted. Here he remains for some months.

This little town of Sodaville was noted for its wickedness, being a rendezvous for the whole cut-throat "outfit" for miles around. Here they danced, and drank, and fought. Every Sunday was especially devoted to settling up all old grudges, and general carousing.

The first Lord's day after their arrival in the town, he goes up the hillside to the Methodist class-meeting, for they had a little band struggling along here, and after the meeting is over a big, stout young fellow comes up to him and says: "I understand there is a Campbellite preacher in town."

"A Campbellite preacher! Well, I should like to see him. What does he look like? I am sure I never saw such a creature."

"Well," says the young man, "there is, and you are the man we have spotted. And we want you to preach some for us."

"I claim to be a preacher, but I didn't know I was a Campbellite preacher. Where and when would you like to have me preach?"

"Here in this house and this afternoon, if you will."

Everything was all right, and the time set for four o'clock for the afternoon. "Now, young man, you must get out and get an audience, for this is your meeting." He did so and the house was full at the appointed hour. While he is preaching, two boys who are standing in the door get into a quarrel and soon into blows. They have their "pards" around them yelling and swearing, and the people all rise up to go to see the fight, when Elder Waller says: "Please sit down, ladies and gentlemen; that is not our fight, it is their fight, and we will have nothing to do with it."

They obey him, and the racket and fight goes on outside till at last they hear one of the young men say "enough."

Then the father says: "You may lick my boy, but you can't lick me."

At it they go, and pretty soon they hear the old man screech "enough."

About the time the two fights are over Elder Waller has concluded his speech. You may call it a preach, a lecture, or what you please. The following is the outline of the address: He praises the locality of the town, and the high medicinal qualities of the springs. He speaks of the class of people coming here to get aid from the springs. They are nearly all invalids, sick people, who are here to get health. They are here with a few relatives, who watch them and who are usually very worthy.

He now draws a strong contrast between these good people and the class they usually encouraged so far - the ruffian element. He now speaks of the little stores they are running. The people that are here must eat, but do you have their trade? You know they get up their "pony purse" and send down to Lebanon or some other point for all they need. Now, why do they do so? It is simply because the good people here will not go to your stores for trade, for if they do they will be blackguarded and find a regular ruffian crowd around. If you will clean up and drive the ruffians away or make them be civil, you will have this trade and there is by far more money in it than in your present trade.

When he closed, the crowd outside came in to get witnesses for their fight. Then Elder Waller says, "We are a civil crowd inside here; you will please go outside there, for you know we hadn't anything to do with your business."

"Now, Elder Waller, you must preach for us some more;" for the people were quite interested.

He announces services for the next day. He continues to lecture to them three of four days along this business and financial line till he has the attention and affection of all. Then he begins to preach the gospel. He leads them along till he comes to the place where he is tell the what to do to be Christians. By the time he comes to the subject of baptism, the people are ready for it. Then from one to six are baptized every day for some time.


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