Saturday, June 28, 2008

News from the Oregon Territory 1853

The first Brethren in the Oregon Territory arrived from Indiana in 1850. They were followed in 1853 by eighteen more. The Gospel Visitor, which was begun in April 1851, played a role in connecting those on the Pacific Coast with the larger church.

In the July 1853 issue, Editor Henry Kurtz addressed the Oregon Brethren: We rejoice to learn that the Gospel Visitor is welcome in your remote parts, and we should like to know as much as possible of your interesting country. There are some friends and brethren, here in the East, who are particularly interested & desirous, to be informed about what prospect there is or would be, when the Gospel would be preached in its purity and simplicity with you? Whether there are any preachers among you? And, if not, whether there is a desire for them....

The December 1853 issue included this letter from Jacob Wigle, dated August 8, 1853.

Dear brother in the Lord. I have thought it necessary to drop you a few lines for the Visitor, ... George Wolfe is my mother's brother; so I was brought up under the protection of the Gospel, and in the early days of my life I thought it fit, to join myself to the body. ...

But in the spring 1852, on account of circumstances taken place, I and two of my brothers set out for Oregon Territory. I was told before I started by father Wolf, that our crossing the plains was a denial of the faith, because we would have to travel under military form. Which we did not do; for we found no need of it, but the Indians were no hindrance to us, and rather were entirely friendly to us.

Through much affliction we all got through, and once more restored to good health, and hoping that these few lines may reach you and find you all well. ... I only set out for the purposes of finding a milder climate, which I have found ... But this does not satisfy my desire.

...We are 7 in number, 3 brothers and 4 sisters, there were 3 more crossed the plains, but settled about one hundred miles from us. Now we have no one among us with any church- office but myself. The church appointed me in the office of a Deacon. ... As my whole desire and prayer is for the welfare of the church, and I rather think, if we were in an organized condition, there might be some growth amongst us ....

So nothing more at present, but remaining your lonely brother and may the grace of God abide with you is my prayer. Amen. Jacob W. Wigle

Source: Studies in Brethren History, Floyd E. Mallott