When we finished up in Denver we all took a short rest before we were to meet again at Los Angeles. When we were there in 1903 Dr. Bresee engaged Dr. Fowler, Dr. H. C. Morrison, J. M. and M. J. Harris and this writer to give him the month of May, 1904. At the close of my convention in Denver I ran down to Texas and while I rested I ran over to Birmingham, Alabama, and held a convention and from there went across the country to McAlester, Oklahoma, and closed a meeting there the last Sunday of April, 1904.
In that convention Brother C. K. Spell joined me. He went home with me and we left Peniel, Texas, headed for Los Angeles, California, on the last Tuesday of April, 1904. Brother C. K. Spell made the statement that he was going to Los Angeles and take in the general conference which was to be held in the month of May, 1904. He said in taking in the conference he would get some sense. He said he was going then to San Francisco and attend a great conference by Dr. B. Carradine and there he said he would get him some religion. Then he had planned to go to Salt Lake City, and said, “There I will be sure to get me a wife,” and sure enough, before he had finished the convention in Salt Lake City he had fallen in love with Miss Annie Price, who later became his wife. There is some history that I helped to make for I arranged this slate for Brother Spell.
Our convention with Dr. Bresee for the month of May, 1904, was one of the greatest I have ever worked in. As I have just stated, the general conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was in session in Dr. Bresee’s tabernacle. We had services in the afternoon and night and that gave us a chance to visit the general conference every morning. I will never forget some of the great debates between Dr. J. M. Buckley, editor of the New York Christian Advocate, and Dr. B. F. Neeley, who was elected bishop at that conference. I think there was scarcely a morning for a month that those great men didn’t cross swords on some question. They were both men of master minds and great thinkers. There were a number of great men elected bishops in that conference: Dr. Neeley, Dr. Berts from Rome and Rev. Joseph Berry, editor of the Epworth Era. Dr. Berry was elected on the first ballot. Also Dr. Lewis was elected bishop, who was at that time president of the Morningside College, a suburb of Sioux City, Iowa. I think Dr. Day of Syracuse, New York, was elected bishop but he refused to be consecrated.
We had in the great Nazarene tabernacle more than five hundred people saved. After we had run there for a week or two, it was arranged that every afternoon when the general conference adjourned Bishops Joyce, Mallalieu and McCabe put on what is known as the pentecostal services, held every afternoon at four o’clock at the great Baptist temple and then Dr. Bresee arranged for our regular afternoon services from two to four so we could go to the pentecostal services. Rev. Joseph H. Smith was appointed to do the most of the preaching, but they called on Dr. Morrison to preach a number of times. Bishop Joyce arranged one afternoon for Dr. P. F. Bresee, pastor of First Church of the Nazarene, to bring a message to the great multitude of perhaps three thousand people and J. M. and M. J. Harris were called on to do a good deal of singing at that pentecostal rally. One afternoon, without consulting me, which was very exciting, Bishop Joyce called me from the congregation to come to the platform and to quote for the people the Fifty-fifth chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy. The dear old bishop pulled his handkerchief and wiped the tears off his eyes and said, “Thank God, that there is a man who can read the Bible without looking at it.”
About that time an old Methodist preacher from the Puget Sound conference, Rev. John Flynn, who was then eighty-eight years old, got up and began to leap in the air and praise God with a loud voice. Bishop McCabe jumped up and said, “People, people, people, listen to me! Take one good look at that man. He is eighty-eight years old and he won’t superannuate. As you look at him just remember that the devil has no happy old men.” It was the first time I had heard that expression and it stayed with me like burrs in the sheep’s wool. While dear Brother Flynn was leaping and shouting his dear old wife jumped up and said, “Friends, I am feeling just like John is acting,” and the shouts of the people broke up the meeting. When the shouting subsided Bishop Joyce called for Brother and Sister Harris to come forward and sing that old hymn, “The Old Fountain.” Before they finished it I believe a thousand people were waving handkerchiefs and hands. Bishop Joyce said, “Beloved, beloved, this is a pentecostal meeting and God is able to send pentecostal waves of glory today as He did in olden times.” Those were days that I will never forget.
Before leaving this I might recall one incident that was very interesting. On the last Saturday of April, before opening our great convention, Dr. Bresee, Dr. Morrison, J. M. and M. J. Harris, C. K. Spell and Bud Robinson, with a number of others, made our way to Long Beach, California, and secured a fine fishing boat. That is, we all paid the man and his son to take us as far as eight miles out on the ocean for deep water fishing. They furnished all the fishing tackle and we got all we caught. There were probably twenty-five or thirty in the party. As we went on with our trolls out about four miles in the ocean we ran through a school of the big fish called yellowtails. The fish looked almost like a big river trout but the big fins on their tails were as yellow as gold. They were simply beautiful. We caught four at the same time. Within ten seconds of each other our lines were pulled under and all hands began to whoop and yell and scream. Sister Harris shouted, “I caught the first one,” and I think her hook was pulled under first. It was so near the same time we caught the four that you could scarcely tell who caught the first but we gave Sister Margaret credit for catching the first. I think Dr. Morrison’s hook and mine went down at the same moment. Dr. Morrison stood up and waved his hat and shouted while the man and his son that ran the boat pulled in our books. No boy ever had a greater time than Dr. Morrison on that fishing trip. These four fish weighed about seventy pounds. They weighed seventeen or eighteen pounds each. Our whole party caught several hundred pounds. I remember in the afternoon I caught a big, long, round fish that they called a barracuda. He only weighed four or five pounds but he was between four and five feet long and was very interesting and fine eating.
I brought mine to Los Angeles and took them to a good friend of mine, Brother Clyde T. Dilley, who a year before had come from Waco, Texas, and located in Los Angeles. It was during this great convention that Dr. Bresee took Brother and Sister Dilley into the Church of the Nazarene. At that time I belonged to the Methodist Episcopal church and did not unite with the Church of the Nazarene until the sixth of April, 1908. Of course I was on the log for some four or five years and finally the Holy Spirit pushed me off the log and I fell into the Church of the Nazarene. We’ll see about that a little later on.
At the close of this great convention, which was the last Sunday of May, Dr. and Sister C. J. Fowler, J. M. and M. J. Harris and this writer left Los Angeles for the Des Moines, Iowa, camp. We made the trip by El Paso, Kansas City, Missouri, and on across to Des Moines. This also was a great convention. at the close of that convention I worked again for Dr. Fowler until fall. But I did not join in their coast-to-coast campaign again until a number of years later. From that on to 1908 Brother Will Huff and I preached as far north as Washington and Oregon, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, as far east as Old Orchard, Maine, and as far down in the southeast as Key West, Florida. We held a number of great meetings in Florida. We went four years in succession to Bennettsville, South Carolina. One year I. G. Martin went with us and had charge of the music and then Brother Charles J. Tillman stayed at least three years with us. Brother John Langrom, the blind boy, presided at the piano and Brother Bowen Grandfield, at that time just from Wales, was one of the finest flute and piccolo players I had ever heard. At one time he was a member of King Edward’s band in England. He was with us nearly every year after that. He and I held meetings in a number of places in the South. In some of our meetings, Brother C. P. Currie led the singing. He is now one of the leading Southern Methodist preachers of Oklahoma. At Bennettsville we met for the first time that great old southern warrior, Brother Jim Williams, at one time a great blacksmith. He got saved and sanctified and went into evangelistic work. He wore out not less than fifteen good gospel tents in North and South Carolina and Georgia. He was a very remarkable man.
In one of our great campaigns in Bennettsville a young man by the name of Baxton McLendon, who at the present time is known as “Cyclone Mac,” was gloriously and powerfully saved. Today Cyclone Mac is by far the greatest preacher in the Southland. Before his conversion he was one of the wildest, wickedest and most desperate and dangerous men in South Carolina. I prayed seventeen days and nights for Baxton McLendon. I will never forget the first night he came under the big tent. He sat near the back, his black eyes fairly glittering. As I looked him over I had the strangest feeling concerning him that I had ever had in looking into the face of a stranger. I left the platform and walked back to him. His keen eyes almost struck through me. I laid my hand on him and said, “Young man, the devil is using you to do dirt,” and turned and walked away. That was one of the most peculiar experiences I ever had. But God used that statement some way to send an arrow of conviction to his precious heart. For seventeen days B. F. McLendon literally rolled and groaned and wallowed, but God’s hook stayed in him, and he couldn’t shake it off. I was sure God had marked that boy for a great preacher, and God knows whom He wants. Sometimes He has to wait a number of years for His man but sooner or later God will land him. If anyone who reads this has never heard him, if he comes within five hundred miles of your town, you go to hear him, for you never will regret it.
Brother Huff and I, after working all the southern states in January of 1908 made our way back North. While Brother Huff went to Sioux City for a two weeks’ visit with his wife and children, I went to Chicago and had one of the greatest meetings I ever had in my life, where I did all the preaching for Rev. C. E. Cornell, who was at that time pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene. When we made the first coast-to-coast campaign with Dr. Fowler, Brother Cornell lived in Cleveland, Ohio, and was publishing a little paper called the Soul Winner. He hired me to write for the Soul Winner. He was the first man who ever paid me for writing for a paper. That was the opening of my writing for papers and journals. I made my start with Brother Cornell but the next year Brother Morrison hired me to write for the Pentecostal Herald, and for ten years I wrote what was known as “Bud Robinson’s Corner.” When we begin to write and think over our trips, how many great and good men stand out in our lives. There is no way to tell what the life and influence of one good man like C. E. Cornell has meant to the world. From January, 1903, until the present Brother Cornell and I have been like David and Jonathan. For many years he has been my pastor.
I left Chicago the middle of January headed for the Northwest and the night I left Chicago Rev. Will Huff left Sioux City. We met the next morning in St. Paul, Minnesota. We had a good hugging spell, for we had not seen each other for two or three weeks. There we secured our sleepers and through tickets from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Everett, Washington. There we had some fine meetings in the old holiness tabernacle. A few years before that Rev. I. G. Martin and Milton Williams had held some great conventions through the Northwest and had organized the Holiness Association and built a very large holiness tabernacle. At that time Brother Sherwood, a fine school teacher, was president and Sister Lewis, the wife of a good doctor, was secretary, and we were called to Everett by the president and secretary of the association.
At the close of this great convention we found that we had more meetings to hold than we had time to stay in the Northwest, so we divided, and Brother Huff went to Greenlake, a suburb of Seattle, and held a meeting for Brother McKinley, one of the finest Free Methodist preachers in the nation. While he was there I went back to the beautiful little town called Snohomish, nestling on the banks of the Snohomish river, near the foothills of those gigantic Cascade mountains, whose tops are so high that it seems that they would tickle the bottoms of the angels’ feet if they were to sit on the doorsteps and swing their feet off. I held my meeting for Brother Sayres, a fine Methodist
Episcopal preacher, and stayed in the home of Brother and Sister Seeley. They also had a fine preacher boy at that time stationed at Bellingham, on the northern border of Washington, a few miles from the Canadian line, and he came down and stayed with us a few days. He and I became warm friends. I remember while I was in Snohomish, that the little fish called the smelt, came up the streams and rivers. The reader may think I am out of my mind or this is an exaggeration, but the farmers backed their wagons into the rivers and took their forks and loaded the wagons with these fish and hauled them out onto the ground for fertilizer, notwithstanding they are the best fish I ever put down my neck, and anybody who ever ate those smelt in Oregon and Washington while they are fresh, will agree that they are the limit for goodness. Brother and Sister Seeley had gone to Washington in early days from western New York, where their relatives still live. They had been back on a visit and brought back West a big cake of maple sugar. They gave me a block of it that weighed two pounds. I wrapped that up and carried it in my suitcase until I reached home in Peniel, Texas, the first day of April.
At the close of my meeting in Snohomish I went to Seattle, where Dr. Reese, pastor of the First Methodist church, was at that time building the great First Methodist church and they had erected a large tabernacle to worship in until their church was completed. The holiness association of Seattle secured this big tabernacle for us to hold a great convention in and Dr. Reese, the pastor, joined in with us and we had there a very remarkable convention. One of the leading men then in the First Methodist church was Tom Lippe, who had become a millionaire by operating gold mines in the Klondike. He and his wife went out among the first ones when the gold rush opened up in the Klondike and Mrs. Tom Lippe was the first woman to go into the gold mines. At the close of our convention Brother Lippe requested that we be paid off in gold and we had more gold than we probably ever had before or since at one time. At that time Brother R. L. Wall was president of the Holiness Association in Seattle and at this writing he is president of the Southern California Holiness Association. He has been a personal friend of mine for twenty-seven years. He is a traveling shoe man, one of the most cultured Christian gentlemen that you will meet in a lifetime.
At the close of our great convention in Seattle, Brother Huff, Brother Wall, Brother McKinley and this writer planned a trip by boat down through Puget Sound and up to Victoria in British Columbia. It is the most beautiful city in the Northwest and is the capital of British Columbia. Our trip was lovely. We got there in time to take in the state house and we spent the night in the King Edward’s hotel. The next morning we went back to Seattle and went out in the afternoon to the home of Brother Tom Lippe to a big holiness meeting that was held by Sister Lippe. Brother Huff made a talk and there were nine women at the altar for sanctification.
From Seattle we went down to Portland, Oregon, and gave one afternoon and night to Brother A. O. Henricks, who had just taken charge of the Church of the Nazarene that had been organized only a few weeks before. We had two great services and from there we went to Ashland, Oregon, for a ten days’ meeting. We had a fine revival there and met a number of good people who have been warm friends of mine from that day until this. One of them was good Brother Rice, who worked for a number of years in our Publishing House. He is now in Southern California but with the same smile on his face.
From Ashland we made our next stop in Oakland, California. Here Brother P. G. Linaweaver was pastor. Brother Huff and I had worked with him in Illinois a year before. He had come from another church to the Church of the Nazarene. He took us across the bay to the headquarters of the great Southern Pacific railroad system to their general passenger agent and got us clergy rates from San Francisco to Los Angeles with a ten days’ stop over and from there to Greenville, Texas. We had two beautiful days with Brother Linaweaver. We came from there to Los Angeles and held a meeting for Dr. P. F. Bresee, closing on the last Sunday of March. While I was there I learned that Dr. Bresee wanted to go East and I asked him to come through Texas and come to Peniel and organize a Nazarene church. He said he would do that. He asked me how many I thought would come in. I told him I thought there would be a number, but I knew for sure there would be one for he could take me in. He said that would be worth the trip.
I reached home on the first day of April. I had notified my wife that I was going to present her an April Fool on the first day of the month and sure enough my train pulled in just before midnight on April first. She met me at the train with my two beautiful girls, little Sally and baby Ruby. I notified the people that Dr. Bresee was coming and two days later he arrived and preached for us until the first Sunday of April. On Sunday night, April the sixth, he organized the first Church of the Nazarene in the state of Texas. At that time Dr. E. P. Ellyson, who is now the editor of the Sunday school literature of the Church of the Nazarene, assisted by his good wife, was the college president. Today he is one of the best Sunday school editors in the United States of any denomination. I doubt whether there is any better Sunday school literature published in the world than is sent out by our headquarters at Kansas City, Missouri. Dr. Bresee organized with 103 members, and thank the Lord the Nazarene work was started in Texas.