By 1891 I began to make plans to enter school at the Southwestern University. During the summer I held meetings and the people gave me some money to go to school on. One well-to-do widowed lady gave me fifty dollars. Up to that time that was the biggest sum of money that I had ever received in my life; for the first four years that I preached I received sixteen dollars. By the time I had preached ten years I had received about four hundred dollars, and the biggest part of that came in on the last year. By September I had gotten ready to leave the little farm in Hill County, Texas, and make a trip on the train to Georgetown Texas, where the Southwestern University was located This school was owned and operated by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
That, I think, was one of the greatest days of my life. I entered school on Tuesday, September 12, 1891. It was there that I met good men and great men who gave me a greater vision of life than I had ever had before. It was there that I began to read good papers and good books. Dr. John H. McClain was the president of the university and I judge that Texas never produced a finer character than Dr. John H. McClain. He had a great faculty, he himself taught in the university. His assistants were Prof. Colby, Professor Young, Professor Harris, Professor Sanders, Doctor Moore, Professor Barcus, Professor Armstrong, Professor Kirkpatrick, and Professor Buckhead. These were as brilliant men as the Southern Methodist church could produce. The young ladies’ annex was located at Georgetown, and Dr. John R. Allen was at the head of the young ladies’ annex, with a fine band of teachers and many young ladies graduated from that school.
As I had had no previous schooling, I entered what was called the preparatory department and they called us boys “preps.” Our teachers in the preparatory department were Professor Williams, Professor Barcus and Miss Lula Grant. At that time the Rev. Samuel P. Wright was the preacher in charge of the Methodist Church at the university and the Rev. Horace Bishop was presiding elder of the Georgetown district. There were two very fine literary societies in the university; one was called the Alamo and the other the San Jacinto. I joined the San Jacinto society and we had some very great debates in those societies. They were a great blessing to me from the fact that I learned how to think on my feet and to prove my points.
We had many fine young preachers in the college and of course as I was a young preacher I naturally fell in with the young preachers. While that has been many years ago, their faces and names linger with me yet. Some of our finest young preachers were John L. Brooks, E. M. Sweet, Ed Barcus, George and Tom Barcus, Frank S. Onderdonk, Rev. Jackson B. Cox, Rev. Ed Pilly. I remember that Brothers Onderdonk and Cox were preparing for the mission field in Old Mexico while Brother Pilly was preparing for and some of my roommates were very spiritual. There was Rev. C. L. Brunner, J. J. Rape, R. J. Tooley, Frank Mageehe and Brother George Hill. These young men made a great impression on me. Our two literary societies called some fine lecturers for each month during the school year. These men made a great impression on my heart and life. We had such men as Dr. Briggs, the pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal Church, South, of Austin, Texas. We had for one lecture Col. A. C. Bain from Lexington, Kentucky, one of the finest lecturers I have ever heard. He was the greatest prohibition lecturer of the nation. Also, they had Rev. Samuel Small of Atlanta, Georgia.
Upon another occasion we had Gen. John A. Logan of Tennessee, who was one of the most interesting men on the great Civil War and the rising of the new South from the old battle fields. We also had with us for one lecture the famous Luther Benson, the reformed drunkard. He was the hardest hitter on the open saloon of any man I have ever known. We had with us over one Saturday and Sunday Bishop Joseph S. Key, at that time one of the most spiritual men that I had ever known. Upon another occasion we had Bishop Fitzgerald and his wife. He told us of the early days of his experience in the great gold fields of California. He was a very remarkable man. Upon another occasion we had Dr. Rankin, a great Methodist preacher from Houston, Texas, who a few years later was elected editor of the Texas Christian Advocate.
I don’t know but that almost every one of these great lecturers has gone to his reward, but the impression they made on my life will go with me to my grave. Good books and good papers, and great men will be a blessing to any man in the world. It was there in the college that I began to read the Sunday School Times and after such men as H. K. Trummel and Henry Drummond, the man that wrote the little book on the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians and called it the greatest thing in the world. Also, I read the Texas Christian Advocate every week and many of the young preachers took the National Advocate at the time that Dr. Hoss was their editor. He wrote many great editorials and a few years later was elected bishop.
At the closing of the school of 1892 I joined the Rev. Horace Bishop, the presiding elder of the Georgetown district, and we worked on the district all summer and finished up the campaign in the fall in time to go to Waco to the annual conference. During that summer we saw hundreds of people saved and we took people into the Southern Methodist Church by the hundreds. When we reached the annual conference I saw more Methodist preachers and more presiding elders together than I had ever seen in my life. They were a great class of men and there were some of the leading men from the East Texas conference and the Texas conference and the North Texas conference who were there to visit the Northwest Texas conference. My recollection is that Bishop Hargrove presided at this conference but there is one thing that I will never forget that took place at that conference. There I met the Salvation Army for the first time. I saw their uniforms, I heard their songs and shouts on the end. Of course it almost blessed me to death to meet up with somebody that would hold street services.
By the time the conference was over I had found a place in the Salvation Army and straightway I ordered a uniform and a Salvation Army cap. I don’t know now that I went in to stay with them very long but I wanted the experience of work that you could only receive by working on the streets and in the saloons and gambling houses and the slum district. As we worked in those places my very heart was stirred within me and I will never forget that in one month in Waco, Texas, we had sixteen little girls rescued from the slums and sent home to their mothers. We also had nearly twenty drunkards beautifully saved. Most of them were middle-aged men and some older who had been in what they commonly called the gutters most of their lives. We say now that they were down and out, but the Salvation Army used to say men are down but never out, and there may be something in that.
I stayed there in Waco and worked until Christmas. We had a general meeting of the officers of the state; there was a fine little officer from England named Thomas; they commonly called him little Zaccheus. He was at that time in charge of the state work and was an adjutant. In those days old Major Sulley was in charge of Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma, which were all in his great division. L. Milton Williams, who now lives in Long Beach, California, one of our Nazarene elders, was at that time, Major Williams. Brother Will Lee, who died a few years ago in Colorado Springs, at that time was known as Captain Lee. Major Williams and Captain Lee were known as the Oklahoma devil drivers. I judge they had thousands of people saved. They neither feared men nor devils, hardship, abuse, empty purses and often retired at night with an empty stomach. They were as brave warriors as ever fought the devil on an Oklahoma battle field.
I worked in Waco under Captain Cooper and Cadet Dean. When I left Waco they sent me to Austin. I worked there with Captain Yeager and Cadet Doan. We had many experiences in those days that as a rule we know nothing about now. I have seen our soldiers knocked down by brickbats and on almost every hallelujah march somebody was either rocked, or egged, or they gave them a shower of rocks and rotten potatoes. Our free-will offerings were very large; they often consisted of dead cats, brick-bats, stale eggs and mud balls. But God was with the Army and people were saved by the hundreds and thousands. I have seen them in the street meetings preach to such crowds that the streets were blocked. I have seen the officers come and open the way and many a Salvation Army boy received an awful cussing from the police. Other times they were arrested and locked in jail, but they prayed and shouted so loud that nobody in jail could sleep and next day they would turn them out. By seven-thirty at night you could hear the Salvation drum, the old bugle and the lads and lassies were out on another Hallelujah march.
One night while we were standing on the corner of Third and Main Streets, Austin, Texas, just below the state house, singing a song, somebody threw a brick-bat into the crowd and struck one of our young men on the head and cut a gash two inches long just above his ear. The dear boy fell like he had been shot. Two of the boys went up to the hall and got a stretcher and we carried him to the hall and it was thirty minutes before he knew what had happened. As we washed the blood from his head and face he said, “God bless the poor sinner and save his soul.” Beloved, it takes lots of grace for a man to be stoned and half killed and then pray for his enemies. But the Salvation Army boys and lassies thirty-five and forty years ago had that much grace.
One of the most remarkable experiences of my life took place while we were in the Salvation Army at Austin. Our offerings had been very small and after meeting the hall rent and expenses for the month we had but little left for food. At one time we lived three weeks on bread and tea, and no sugar for the tea. The bread was that old, early-day bread that was so tough when you bit it your teeth would nearly pop, and I got so hungry that often as I went marching down the street beating the drum, at the head of my soldiers, going by a restaurant and smelling the beefsteak frying, my stomach would growl like a dog under the floor. But I had to say, “Lie down, I haven’t got anything for you.”
In those days we often prayed four hours a day from house to house. I entered a beautiful little cottage home, set some fifty feet back from the street. A nice-looking little lady was running a sewing machine while two or three little tots were playing on the floor. I told her that I had come to have prayer with her and the little ones.
“Sir,” she said, “you cannot pray in this house.”
I said to her kindly, “You may run your machine and just let me kneel and pray here alone for you and the little ones.”
She said, “No sir, you cannot pray in this house.”
“Well then,” I said, “will you let me pray out in the yard?”
She said, “No sir, you cannot pray in this yard.”
Then I said, “Will you let me pray out on the side walk?”
She said, “That is just with you about that.”
So I went out on the sidewalk and took off my cap and sang a good Salvation Army song and knelt and prayed on the sidewalk. I don’t know, but it seemed to me that I couldn’t hear the machine while I was praying. I believe she quit sewing and listened. When the prayer was over I went on up the street. That night we had a good time on our hallelujah march and in the hall, with a number of precious souls saved. The next day in making our rounds praying from house to house the blessed Holy Ghost said, “Go back by that house and see if the lady will let you pray with her.” So I went back to The home as though I had never been there before. The little lady was running the machine. I told her that I had come around to have prayer with her if she had no objection. In somewhat of an embarrassed manner she pushed back from the machine apologized for what she had said the day before. I fixed it up for her the best I could.
I said, “I know you were very busy yesterday and had no time to be bothered.”
Then she said, “What kind of people are you?”
“Well,” I said, “we are just religious people. But we are called the Salvation Army.”
“Well,” she said, “I don’t know anything about the Salvation Army.” She took one of the babies in her lap and I took out my testament and read and then we knelt and prayed. The Lord melted my heart to tears and I asked God to bless the little lady and all of her loved ones.
When the prayer was over I said, “I want you to come down to the hall and enjoy our good meetings.” I told her where the hall was located. She said she didn’t know whether she could come or not but she would try. Some way I felt God was going to send her. That night after we ate our scanty supper of weak tea and tough bread without meat or potatoes or eggs, feeling hungry and weak, we went out on our march. A fine street service was held and when we got back to the hall, behold, the little lady was on the front seat. We gave her a hearty welcome to our meeting. The Lord helped me to preach that night and when I made the call she was the first to come out to the penitent form and before the close of the service she was most gloriously saved.
She said to us, “My husband is a railroad conductor and he gets in tonight about midnight and doesn’t have to go out tomorrow until after twelve. If you can all come I would be so glad to get you a good chicken dinner tomorrow. Do you think you could arrange to come?”
I said, “Yes, ma’am, I think we could.”
“Well,” she said, “I want you to come a little early so we can have dinner by eleven so my husband will have time to get acquainted and eat dinner before he goes on his run.”
I said, “We will be there, God sparing us.”
That was the best news we had heard for a long time. The next morning we were up and studied and prayed and by ten o’clock we were pulling toward that cottage home.
My, my, but that was a great chicken dinner. It lingers with me yet. Reader, just think of it; three weeks of tough bread and weak tea and now a baked hen and dressing piled up before us. Her husband was a most congenial gentleman. He seemed to be delighted to have the Salvation Army boys visit his home but it was some two or three weeks before his run was changed so he could be with us for a night, but one night he and she walked in together with their babies. He was most gloriously saved that night. I never will forget that fine old conductor as he stood up with tears running down his face and thanked God that the Salvation Army had come to their home. That good man and his wife proved to be the best friends we have in Austin, Texas. Suppose that when the lady would not allow me to pray in her house or yard, I had showed an ugly spirit and hadn’t prayed on the sidewalk and sung and gone back the next day. We never would have gotten those people saved. Think of what I had to do in order to get a square meal. I had to make two trips to that home and get a woman saved. I remember we used to sing the little song,
“It pays to serve Jesus, for I speak from my heart. He’ll always be with us if we’ll do our part, There is nought in this wide world such pleasure affords, As the peace and joy that comes from serving the Lord.”
I remember another beautiful tune that they used to sing. In those days there was a song written and scattered over the land called, “After the Ball.” The Salvation Army got hold of the tune and put their own words to it. I remember the church people called it a bad tune but the Salvation Army said all tunes were good tunes except one, the spittoon. The Army said God owned all the tunes and the devil owned the spittoons. One verse was,
“I saw the world in sinfulness lie Cursed by the law and condemned to die. No eye to pity, no arm to save, I came to conquer death and the grave.
“Bearing the cross of Jesus, stooping to save the lost, Ready to save the lowly, willing to pay the cost. Bearing the reproach of Jesus, faithful through sin’s dark night;
Jesus will crown with glory, after the fight.”
Many a night I have heard the streets sound with the Salvation Army singing those beautiful words to the tune of “After the Ball.”