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Nebraska Methodism


















   THIRTY-FOUR years ago, Dr. W. B. Slaughter was selected as Conference Historian. He fully intended to write a history and sent out circular letters calling for the requisite information, but so few responded that he became discouraged and abandoned the undertaking. Some fifteen years ago Dr. Maxfield sent out circular letters with the same object in view, but failed to get enough data to justify him in going on with the work. It is a matter of very great regret indeed that one or the other of these men should not have completed this important task. Besides being far better qualified for the work than the author, they were then in possession of many sources of information that have since passed beyond our reach.
   These facts show that Nebraska Methodism has long felt the need of such a history. This desire found further expression in the organization of Conference Historical Societies, and more recently in the organization, by the concurrent action of all the Conferences, of the Methodist Historical Society of Nebraska, and the appointment of a man to collect and care for material. It took still more definite form when at a meeting of the




State Methodist Historical Society, in 1902, the author was requested to prepare such a history. As corresponding secretary of the society I had already spent more than a year collecting material and had made a study of this material for a sketch of our history for the J. Sterling Morton History of Nebraska, now being published.
   I accepted the task with fear and trembling, having even then some conception of its magnitude and a keen sense of inadequacy, but with a conviction that some one ought at once to perform that service. I have found the undertaking much larger and the difficulties greater than I anticipated. I can only say that for three years, with much pleasure and profit, I have wrought diligently at the task. That the result is satisfactory to myself, or will be above just criticism by others, I do not claim. But such as it is, I send it forth on its mission, praying that God may use it for good notwithstanding its defects.
   Several plans presented themselves, either of which I might have pursued. I might have taken each charge in order and written a history of that charge for the entire time of its existence, and printed these four hundred separate histories in a single volume; or I might have given a biographical sketch of each of the more than eight hundred preachers who have at some time wrought in the field, together with hundreds of worthy laymen. But neither of these plans seemed best nor practicable. My plan has been to give a picture of the movement as a whole, by which Nebraska Methodism has become what



it is and done what it has, treating in greater fullness of detail the earlier periods when the Church was in the making. I have used such details in biography and events as seemed best suited to this purpose. I may not have done justice to every one and I may have overestimated some and even overlooked men and events that should have been mentioned. But I have not intentionally done so.
   It was originally my plan to devote about two hundred pages to the history and one hundred pages to biographical sketches. But I found the history and the biography so inextricably mingled, the history being in large measure but the biography of the workers, and the biography constituting so much of the history, that I have not tried to separate them. In a few typical cases, like Adriance, Wells, and Charles, I have used some of their biography as part of the history, they telling their own story and illustrating some phase of the work.
   Concerning portraits, I have declined to have any one pay for their cuts, bearing this expense myself. My purpose has been to make this feature help to tell the story and be itself a part of the history rather than for the sake of the parties whose portraits appear, or their admiring friends. The following principles have determined the selection: I have assumed that the reader would like to look into the face of each one connected with the work during the fifties and sixties. Of such as came in later I have selected those upon whom the Church herself has placed her stamp of approval by selecting them as pre-



siding elders or electing them delegates to the General Conference, the latter class including the laymen so honored. Besides these there are some who have been called to special work along missionary, educational, or charitable lines. I have not been able to secure quite all the earlier ones and a very few of the later have neglected or declined to send photographs, though twice solicited to do so. It is not intended that any portrait shall appear twice, each one being assigned to the group representing the most important work to which the person has been called.
   I have drawn on many sources for the facts related, but am especially under obligation to Hiram Burch, Jacob Adriance, John Gallagher, and Dr. P. C. Johnson. Also to Dr. Goode's "Outposts of Zion," Dr. Davis's "Solitary Places Made Glad," Rev. James Haynes's "History of Omaha Methodism," and Rev. C. W. Wells's book, "Frontier Life." I am also indebted to Mr. Barrett and other officials of the State Historical Society for many courtesies.
   I had expected to compress the printed matter into 300 pages, but in order to do justice to the subject I have been compelled to add 100 or more pages.


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