Do you ask how I know what took place on my father and mother’s first circuit? I was but a babe but remember I was their youngest child and as I grew older, the others left the home one by one and I was left alone with my dear parents. We lived in Flint City when Father first superanuated. He visited the old “battle field” accompanied by Mother and I, as we drove along the then beautiful country roads, Father and Mother both would tell me who use to live here or who use to live there, and some of the places the people still lived and we would call.
I remember once out in front of a lovely old farm place our carriage wheel, well what was the the matter? Any Way, it needed and must have grease. Father stopped the horse and we got out while Father fixed the buggy. A man came out. I remember he was a nice looking man, but he had a wooden leg. He offered assistance and invited us in the house. We were in a hurry to go on, as we were on our way to Uncle Sid’s and we had never been to the place where they lived. We did not go in, but when we got ready to go on, Father shook hands with the man, and he said “Goodbye, Elder. This is Elder Haight I know. I remember you welL A bunch of us boys use to attend your meetings in the Webster School house, and I’ve never forgotten you.”
Father asked him if he was a christian and he said, “No, I’m afraid not, but I know if I had heeded your warnings I’d be a different man than I am now, and likely as not I would not now be the cripple you see I am.”
Well, I quite realise I had blessed priveleges in my close association with my Father and Mother. Mother and I use to spend hours alone together. She use to love to tell me her experiences, and oh, I just loved to hear her. But I started to tell you of the conversion of “Old man Clark”.
Father and Mother were holding meetings in Webster school house, Genesee county, Michigan in the winter of 1876 or ’77. I know it was Webster this time, for when a young lady I visited this neighborhood with Father and Mother a number of times, staying all night at Clark’s and sleeping in Tessie Clark’s room.
At the time of the revival I now speak of, they were staying at the home of Mr. and Sister Webster. Mr. W. himself was not a christian. I do not believe he ever yielded to the claims of God, allowing something to eternily separate him from the love of Christ. He seemed to have a very tender regard for Father and Mother, and I remember too, he was kind to children.
I was too young to remember myself the occassion I am about to relate, but I do remember distinctly of being in thier dear old home. This may have been after we had moved to another circuit, but went back to visit the old field. I remember playing with my doll and of Mr. W. giving me a lovely wool shawl for my dolly. The shawl was of many colors, little fine checks of red blue tan and green. I had it for years and still had a piece to wrap my first baby in.
As I said, Father and Mother were holding meetings in Webster school house. They would get up early each morning and Mother would help Sister W. with the morning work. They would not leave untill the house was tidy. Then Father would hitch up the horse and away they would go “in the King’s business.” They made it a point to visit every single home in the entire community.
Prayer meetings were the order also every afternoon except Saturday. Now there liVed perhaps less than a half mile from Webster School house, a man by the name of Clark “Old man Clark” every one called him. He was a desperatly wicked man, a cruel man. He had a nice farm of fertile soil, but he was in a sense a hermit and a miser. His 23first wife had died some years before the time of my story, leaving him a family of boys. A young girl in a joining neighborhood had been cruely betrayed and forsaken and left with a baby daughter to care for. Clark sought this young girl out and requested her to become his mistress, offering both her and the child a home if she would. Clark was known as a prosperous farmer and the poor girl, though stoutly refusing to become his unlawful mistress did consent to be his wife, and since he could get her no other way, he married her and brought her to his strange home.
Here she was little better than a slave. She had no pleasures or comforts. It was not at all necessary for them to live in the manner they lived in, but every comfort was denied. They lived in a little old log house. One room and a bedroom down stairs with the loft above.
The young wife would like to have been neat and tidy, and put forth all the effort she could to this end, but Clark roughly declared he would have no “airs” from such poor trash as she. The little girl Anna, lived in fear. Time had passed of these people before Father and Mother came on the scene.
Mr. Webster said to Father, “Wherever you go, Elder, don’t, for piny sakes, go to Clark’s. You would likely get bitten by his two fierce dogs if you tried to go there, and not be let in the house anyway.”
Father preached and prayed, and Mother sang and prayed and they both visited, North, South, East, West. The good sized country school house was packed each night. Souls were being saved. People were pressing on into Holiness. Each morning Father and Mother called at various homes. incouraging those who knew not God to come to the meetings. Time and again they passed the home of Clark. One time when passing Father said, “Ma, I feel bad about this. We have called at least once at every house in this neighborhood. Here lives a vile wicked man, but how will I feel when I meet God to know I was God’s message bearer here in this neighborhood and yet never invited this man to Christ?” They passed on, but they made the matter a special subject of prayer, both Father and Mother fasting and praying for this strange wicked old man and his family.
Next morning as they started out to call, Mother knew they were going to Clarks, though Father had not told her so. As they stopped at the gate, two great fierce looking dogs came baying out to greet them. Mother was terribly afraid of dogs and keeps close to Father. They had prayed for protection from the dogs, but the dogs bark and growl and show their teeth. Father takes Mother’s arm and they start for the house. Some nice fat hogs are wallowing about in the front yard. The dogs keep close to Father and Mother as they go toward the house. No one attempts to call them off, and as Father knocks, it seems they will surely leap upon them and tear them to pieces. There is no response to their knocking at first but finally a man’s voice growls out “Who’s there? What do you want?” Father said, “It is Elder Haight and his wife and we have come to see you.” “Well”, said the voice, “Come in if you want to so bad.”
They go in. The place is none too tidy, though Mother said one could see Mrs. Clark had done the best she could with the odds against her. Clark sat on a rough bench smoking his old clay pipe. Mrs. C. and Anna huddled back in a corner. The boys lounged about, but strange to say, on the knee of old man Clark sat a beautiful little girL The present Mrs. C. had borne him this little daughter and though he was cruel to every one else, he was always kind to Tessie.
Father and Mother both shook hands with every one in the room, and then without being invited to do so, found chairs and sat down. Father talked about the crops, about the weather, and about Clark’s fine fat hogs, etc. Finally Father said. “Mr. Clark, if you have no objections I would like to have prayer with you.” Clark said, “Nobody ever prayed here.” But Father continued saying, “I would like to pray here, Mr. Clark.” – Consent was really not given but as Clark remained silent Mother commenced to sing “What a friend we have in Jesus”. She sang it through as only mother could sing. Father 24then prayed with his heart filled with love for this poor man and his family. They get up from their knees and personally bid everyone goodby, especially urging Mr. Clark to come to the services.
Says Clark, “I never go to meetin’ “, but Father urges him, telling him he very much wishes he would come to the services. When they step outside the dogs spring up barking, but Clark calls out, “Down you brutes,” and the dogs go and lay down and Father and Mother get away in safety.
When they get back to Webster’s they can eat their dinner now. Evening comes and the people gather at service, when who should walk in but old man Clark his hair standing on end and his trousers stuffed inside his high topped cowhide boots. This was the first he ever was known to attend a religious meeting, but thank the Lord. it was not the last. He came again and again, finally bringing his wife, his rough boys, his wive’s daughter, and his own much loved Tessie. And not only did he come to meeting, but he came to the alter and sought and found the Lord to the joy of his heart. His wife and daughter sought the Lord.
I well remember in just a few years of being in the Clark home. The old log house still stood and Tessie and I had it for a play house. A neat comfortable new cottage had been built. Mrs. Clark and Anna worked about the dear new house with shining faces. It was not uncommon to hear them burst out singing, “What a friend we have in Jesus”. Everything is neat and clean. I remember the old fashion drop leaf table with its leaves up, and spread with a white cloth, and loaded with a clean vell prepared meal. Now I hear Bro. Clark say, “Sister Haight, sing “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” Mother’s voice raises in that precious song of praise.
Breakfast is over and Father takes his Bible and reads from its sacred pages. He prays, Mother prays.
Now listen—for oh I know God and heaven was listening. Old man Clark kneels on one knee. He is a big man. His hair is grey. He lifts one hand high and thanks God for . putting courage into Father’s and Mother’s hearts and sending them there to dig him out of his misery. He thanks God tbr his wonderful mercies. Father shouts, “Amenf i;lory!” and (other weeps and laughs and says, -Praise the Lord.” Now Sister Clark is praying. I look at her and see her face all shining with heavenly light. Now .Anna prays, so thanking the Lord for His precious love. We all repeat, “Our Father.”
Tessie and I go out in the yard to play. There are no hogs wallowing in the yard now. They had only been turned in there to annoy the poor wife.
Time passes on. Mother went to heaven April 1895. Father goes to join her in 1908. In this same year there came a message to both my brother William and my brother Roland. Bro. Clark is dead. It was the last request of Mr. Clark that the two sons of Rev. Walter Haight should hold his funeral service. Willie was asked to preach. Roley to make some remarks, and both of them to sing some of the old hymns Mother use to sing. They answer the call and go. They are told, “All was well with Brother Clark He was ready to meet the Lord.
My brothers could scarcely sing for weeping when they sang “There’s a land far away mid the stars we are told where they know not the sorrow of time.” Bro. Clark had also chosen his text. It was one he had heard Father preach from.
Oh, Children, it pays. It pays. Oh my Father, keep handing down the mantle.