continuing the Hon. P. A. Armstrong’s remarks to the 1877 La Salle County Old Settlers Reunion:
To have our humble cabin selected as the place to hold divine services was considered a special favor, and the itinerant preacher (for that is the name by which they were hailed) was always a welcome guest to our firesides. Indeed we used to count the days and look forward to the time when the preacher was to come, and had our favorite club in a convenient place to slaughter a chicken for his dinner or supper whenever he came. We were happy in the anticipation of wheat bread and chicken upon his arrival. There was, however, a rumor current in those days that the chickens began to squeal as the preacher came in sight. Be this as it may, I am now under the solemn conviction that the preachers of those days were as fatal to the barnyard fowls as the chicken cholera of the present time, and yet they were a very devout and good kind of men. In many instances they rode on horseback hundreds of miles to fulfill their engagement, and not infrequently sacrificed their lives to their devotion to duty.
The pioneer preacher of all this section of the country was Rev. Jesse Walker, the uncle of David Walker, Esq., of Ottawa. William Royal, now on duty in Oregon, and Stephen Beggs, of Plainfield, Ills., were our pioneer circuit riders. They were Methodists. Elder John Sinclair, than whom God never made a better man or purer Christian, was also among the first and was the first presiding Elder.
These men worked through sunshine and storm, never faltering, never wearying in well-doing. They labored without money and without price, taking no heed of what they should eat or wherewithal they should be clothed. Elijah-like, trusting in God to be fed by the young Ravens, their labors were more than crowned with success.
Churches were built, congregations formed and sabbath schools established all over the country.
—————– to be continued ———————
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