Wiley College
Historically Black College

 

 

 

Letter from the Corresponding Secretary of Texas Conference.

[The following letter, received immediately after the organization of the Society in 1880, will introduce the writer. Subsequently she was appointed Corresponding Secretary of the Texas Conference, and the succeeding extracts from informal letters will show the nature and condition of her work in that Conference:]

Whitman's P. O., Washington Co., Texas,  September 1, 1880.  To Mrs. Rust, Corresponding Secretary:

Having formerly been engaged in missionary work in London, Eng., and for the past nine years in similar work for the poor of this State, you may imagine how my heart rejoices to know that our Church has organized a Woman's Home Missionary Society, and I can say, from, the experience of a life given to mission work, God bless your efforts.

I hope you will pardon me for offering a suggestion, that as far as possible you provide homes for your missionaries before they begin work to any extent. I have seen grand opportunities lost for want of a place of shelter for the workers. As a matter of course, the ladies who engage in this work will expect to make many sacrifices for Christ's sake. God has taken to himself my husband, only child, and father; but love for the work is deep in my heart, and I expect the Lord to guide me. May he incline the hearts of his people to supply means to send a host of pious women into this field of work among the poor white people, that marry sheaves may be gathered into his garner!

November 17, 1883.—It would have given me great pleasure to attend the Annual Meeting, but my work here needs my constant supervision. I should be sorry to send reports that are not reliable, but so few people here have any knowledge of missionary work, or sufficient education to make intelligent statements, that it is difficult to get the information necessary for correct reports. If God spares my life another year I hope to get things in better shape. The reports of auxiliaries that I can rely upon give, of membership fees and donations, $249.05. There has been much sickness in this section, and also much suffering through poverty. Needy persons have been aided, and schools sustained.

If your Board can assist us, it will do an excellent work by helping two or three teachers who are now in schools, but whose income is so small and uncertain that they can remain but a short time in one place; and hence the usefulness of their schools is seriously affected. The country

S'aces need schools very much. There are few free schools, and by the laws of the State children can not be admitted till they are eight years of age, and can remain only till they are fourteen. After that age tuition must be paid. So we must have mission schools.

I am doing what I can to supply the need, but among this very poor people, without other resources than my own efforts, the possibilities are limited. A few friends in England sent me twelve dollars two years ago. I have had twenty-eight scholars, but the attendance varies. At present, bad weather and insufficient clothing prevent the pupils from coming any distance. I take girls to stay with me, and teach them to work; then,

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when they are a little advanced in their studies, use my influence to get them into a higher school, where they can pay their expenses by work. I am receiving letters from six former pupils—three boys and three girls, the youngest sixteen—who are now in Tillotson Institute, Austin, The matron says they are all faithful and good students. I wish to make special mention of Mary L , at Houston Seminary. She was with me a few months

this year, and I made arrangements last month with the teachers by which she can do washing for the school, to lessen her expenses. If she continues to prove worthy of help I shall ask you, if you can, to secure some help for her. She is a member of our Church, and I believe will be of great service in the mission field. I was only able to arrange for her to remain a month or two. At present I have four girls with me in my home. Some of the parents are able to send their food and others are not; but the " barrel of meal" has not given out yet, thank the Lord.

I shall continue to write to the auxiliaries and people that I can interest in the Society, and hope to start more schools. We have four schools that I would like to keep going all the year. They are in country places, where the people are buying land and will soon have some property.

In most places the condition of the people is bad beyond description. Not more than one in twenty has a proper appreciation of true character, and social relations are almost ignored. The more intelligent defraud the others. They know nothing of economy, and of course are in debt. A leading white man, son of a former slaveholder, in my presence, pronounced the Bible a good novel, and denounced preachers and Christians as thieves and deceivers. The people need teaching in every thing that is truthful and sober, upright and chaste. This is no hasty opinion, but one formed after the work of a decade in Washington County. I was engaged in mission work before I came to Texas, and therefore know the difference in fields of labor.

If the Lord opens the way for me to travel more, I believe a grand work can be done here in organizing and encouraging the people. I am grateful to God for permitting me to see such an effort made to elevate and Christianize the women and girls of this land.

January 16, 1884.—I have received the first installment of appropriation, for which accept my warmest thanks. I will try to act discreetly, by God's grace. I am happy to inform you that the appropriation ($150) to work in the whole Conference, will enable us to open a school in Grimes County; also at Courtney, where I promised the auxiliary they should have a mission school this year.

I have just sent out twenty circulars, asking friends to help us give a golden wedding to a member of the Texas Annual Conference, and stating therein ,that any thing in money or supplies will be thankfully received, and also any thing to help repair the dilapidated home of the aged couple. Yesterday, two hours before day, I started in an ox wagon for a twelve- miles' ride to try to get something for this couple. An appeal to one family brought out of the larder a large piece of meat. After a few disappointments, I received a tangible proof of sympathy in a gift of forty cents in money and a sack containing a bushel of corn. A little more travel, and I receive eighteen eggs, and again six quarts of meal. The sun is almost down, and I am six miles from home, but settle myself to ride as comfortably as may be, grateful to our Heavenly Father, who has enabled me to help a little those who are so helpless and so near the toilers' resting-place.

So begins another quarter's work, and I feel quite willing to toil on awhile longer if God wills it so. May he give us grace to do his will, and thus make the world feel there is a reality in the religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Yours in Him,

Isabella Howells.

 


 

Letter from the Corresponding Secretary of West Texas
Conference.

Austin, Texas, September 10, 1883. To the Executive Board:

I regret that I have not a long list of auxiliaries to present. Still I do not consider my work in this region a failure, though much of it can not be formulated in a report.

I gave up my school on the 1st of January, at which time my husband, who is a presiding elder, purchased a horse and a large hack, and I went with him around his district. We carried provisions and bedding with us, so that we were at home wherever night overtook us. We traveled thus six hundred and thirty-three miles, and did not return to Austin till the 19th of June. I lectured every Sunday, and sometimes on week days, on subjects relating to practical life and to the moral and spiritual needs of the people.

There are many difficulties in the way of organizing the work here. The people have many societies for mutual aid, and all these have some regalia and dress parade which gratifies the fondness for display. Then the number of women who can read is very limited. There are some who have very correct ideas of morality and Christianity, and the number is constantly increasing; but the great mass have little knowledge of these things.

Of the eighteen appointments on my husband's district, five have become self-supporting. In these there is some comprehension of the sin and shame of immoral lives, and many are evidently trying to bring up their families respectably, and make their homes comfortable and pure.

I have felt that our school work, in many instances, is almost neutralized by the home-life of the pupils. In the absence of order and morality, authority asserts itself in the disgusting language used by old-time slave-drivers, and sometimes falls little short of their barbarity. Very few of the mothers know how to make their homes comfortable. They know nothing of the economies of every-day life—the prudent expenditure of money, the preparation of healthful food, making and repairing clothing, etc.—and so fail to get all the available good out of their earnings. Many who are industrious and tidy remain poor on account of wasteful habits.

But I am not discouraged. There was no temperance sentiment among these people when my husband began work here three years ago. Now there are more than a thousand in the Church who keep the "rule" on temperance, and through our school and Sunday-school work we have reached and saved many more.

I am in communication with the field over which I traveled. The pastor of Columbus Circuit writes that three hundred on his charge have signed the temperance pledge, and quite a large number have also signed the tobacco pledge. A similar report comes from Industry Circuit. The pastor says two of his local preachers are preaching temperance, using the texts on my cards; and they are stirring up their neighborhoods. One sister of Columbus said, " I never have put a dip-stick in my mouth since I heard you talk last Summer." Another said, " I left off dipping snuff because I did not want my little girls to begin, and I knew I could not keep them from it if I kept on."

The Leaflets published by our Society have greatly aided in the work, though I have noted how much more easily the sympathies of these colored sisters are enlisted in behalf of the wrongs and needs of Utah, and of distant places, than for their own neighborhoods and homes.

I traveled with my husband over three months last year, and received from the white part of our congregations five dollars in aid of the work; and this year I traveled the same time, and received only one dollar. But, although there are some discomforts in living in a hack for three or four months at a time, yet I do it willingly. Feeling as I do the need for the influence of pure, Christian womanhood in this land, I am very grateful to God for the organization of the Woman's Home Missionary Society.

Very truly yours, Mrs. C. A. Richardson.

 

Annual report of the Board of Managers of the Woman's Home Missionary- 1884

 

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