1933 - 1938 ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT DIARY OF AN ACTIVE SCOTTISH PREACHER TENDING HIS FLOCK IN NEW YORK STATE AND REACHING OUT TO A PRISON MINISTRY AND CONSERVATIONS CAMPS DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION1325
On offer is a very interesting 1930s manuscript diary handwritten by a Scottish preacher whose flock includes the Garfield and Berlin Churches in New York State. He begins November 30th 1933 with his last entry 96 pages later on April 29th 1938. About ½ through the diary he and his wife leave the Berlin and Garfield area and take charge of a church in Pottersville New York. Collectors and historians of the penal system and penal reform will note that the preacher enters into an association with Major Tom Livingstone who was a former inmate at the prison and now has a prison ministry. He asks the author, who agrees, to help him out with that ministry at places he calls "Conservation Camps." The book proper is a large 8" x 13" journal very well filled with writing. At first (and he often mentions this in his journaling) he writes every day but as the diary progresses he gets busier and busier and writes weekly then monthly. In fact at one point towards the end he says: "November 7th, 1937 How faithfully I planned to carry out the desires of my life when I began this diary but how woefully I have failed. At first I put in every day and it's items, this became monotonous, then I tried to sum up the doings of the week, in doing this several things I overlooked that were important. So now I am trying to sum up the events of the months. To review the weeks that have passed since last I wrote in these pages is impossible. Several things that have occurred not being worth citing, so will try and keep in view the high lights only as to how bright they will shine to the reader of this journal will not matter much, they are part of my work and the proceedings of the life I live……" Though he doesn't think so, he is a wonderful writer and does go into detail the events of the day and his feelings. As the diary opens up, the winter has set in and he calls it the "Winter of Discontent" and it sure is. The temperatures are colder then they have ever been causing a great number of problems. The family also takes almost a month long vacation to their "Ranch" in West Hebron, and there are many entries concerning a church or a church he would like to start in Cherry Plains. Here are some snippets: 1933 "November 30th, Thanksgiving day. Have decided to keep a diary. How faithful I may keep it and record items of interest remains to be seen. Today Thanksgiving Day, went to Adams Massachusetts to Rev. F. R. Tarling's for dinner. Rachel, my wife, Robert, my son, and a young man, a friend and fellow student of Robert's at Syracuse University, accompanied us. We had a splendid time. The day was stormy but dry. Returned home in the evening." "December 5th, Spent the morning cleaning, reading, studying. This is the day when the eighteenth amendment becomes a thing of the past. Will the introducing of the liquor lesson the evils of life or enlarge misery. The rising generation will be able to tell in the future years. Certainly evil, and the things that come with its introduction, will never produce good, no lessen misery. In the evening the Ladies Aid met at the parsonage." "December 18th, Started to help Rachel with the wash when the telephone rang. Major Tom Livingstone desiring me to go with him to Troy to the preachers meeting. At Rachel's suggestion, went with him. Introduced him to several of the brethren I knew. Spent the day with him. Found him a genial and generous friend. Talked over the work of the Conservation Camps and how I could assist him. He said he expects an itinerary over the camps from Washington assisted by extra remuneration from the Federation of the Churches in this area. If he gets that, he will be able to send the men to the various churches in the morning, just as the present officers are sending car loads to the Catholic Churches. He is desirous of using me for mid weekly lecture courses from time to time………" 1934 "February 4th, Snowing today. Went to Garfield. The church was like an ice house. Roads not so bad, owing to fresh snow falling, but cold. Came home and held services in Berlin. Good congregation. Still snowing. Went to C. C. Camps to preach to the boys. Had a good time. Have been invited by Captain Miller's to go out on Friday evening for supper and after supper give a stereopticon lecture to the boys on "A Trip to Scotland". All being well, expect to go. Will give details on that date. Attended Epworth league in the evening. Traveled 40 miles today and preached 3 times. Garfield to and from 24 miles. The C. C. Camps 16 miles to and from. 24 and 16 is 40 miles. But all in the days work. Thank God I have the strength, and the desire for it." "March 23rd, Made visit to Major Livingstone. He is sick and confined to the house. In conversations with him, admits that I was the one assigned to the C. C. Camps. Said he did not know I was assigned to them when he came to town and went up there. Using his experience as the thing to help men in such conditions. But when he discovered that I was engaged for camps he was ready to use me and let me use him anytime I needed. After all truth is triumphant. He and I were friends from the first and we are yet." "May 29th, Had a great deal of running around this morning. It was a question of here and there and that repeated. The usual unexpected things that come into a preachers life. First it was going to the high school to see the principal to get him to do special typewriting for me for the preachers. Then it was seeing about a committee of ladies to get in conference over a light lunch for the pastors on Monday evening June 4th. Then it was to get somebody to dig a hole to get to a pipe that the organ in the church might be fixed and so run the forenoon. In the afternoon around 5 we (Rachel and I) had a church supper to attend at Garfield. And thus passed the day. Apart from a little scripture reading in the morning in my study (a usual morning exercise), today was a busy one." "June 10th, My birthday and Sunday. Celebrated the event of 59 years ago by preaching at Garfield, Berlin. A warm day. Thunderstorms with rain in the afternoon. Yet a good day. I wonder what kind of a day it was in Scotland June 10 when I was ushered into the world. Never made inquiry, so that is oblivion." "July 3rd, and 4th, Still another warm day. Finished my ____and must say for the first time I am really tired. Tokens of the glorious fourth "are in the air" with the occasional crack of a gun or cracker. So warm there is a stillness in the air, as well as on the street. The heat is oppressive and everybody seems to be in doors getting all the shade they can….The National Holiday. "The Glorious Fourth." A beautiful day. A very nice procession we had. Various floats were very prettily decorated. Went to the community hall for dinner. Rather a quiet day for both of us. No visitors. No prayer meeting." "August 6th, First day of vacation. We are at West Hebron at the "Ranch". Arrived around 12 o'clock. Have done nothing as yet. Am just looking around. Francis and Jean are with us. Francis started to prime the pump, he preserved and obtained water and while it needs priming, every time, yet we are getting all the water we need. Good for Francis. Not too warm. Cold in the evening." "August 11th, Agnes came to take home Jean and Francis. The rest came on a visit. We all had a good time together. In the afternoon we took the children to the old mill swimming pool where they enjoyed themselves immensely. Thus passed the day. The house rather crowded for sleeping accommodations." "August 31st, The end of our vacation is near, soon we will pack up and be on our way back to Berlin in an hour or two. Home again in Berlin. Vacation behind us with all of it's associations that were enjoyable. Some hard work but nevertheless pleasant. Cold night. Rachel is tired." "September 23rd, The first day of Autumn. What a beautiful warm day. In going over to Garfield there was a slight haze hanging over the mountains but coming back it had all cleared away and everything was bright. The leaves are turning their color. What beautiful crimson and rust hues are around now. Leaves are beginning to fall. Had good services both at Garfield and Berlin. Preached on what we as Methodists believe, the first in a series of sermons of Hope." "October 21st, The usual service at Garfield. Then at Berlin. Here the Epworth league took all the morning services except 10 minutes…..After lunch out to Cherry Plain church where I preached at 2:30 P.M. then held a business meeting trying to organize this church to do something. They elected trustees and then told me that they had a church building but not a church member. My thought was to try to get them to organize and call themselves The Community Church. The old Christian Church, as they were calling it when they began 98 years ago and for which denomination the church was built, has all died out. There are one or two descendents of the last minister who preached there but they are not members of the church only trustees. They hold certain sacred associations to the building but that is all. I do not know yet what may be the outcome of my talk to the trustees but something ought to be done for the sake of the community……" "October 30th, Had another visit from Harold Ford regarding the organization of the Cherry Plain Church. The trustees have shaved down the covenant I drew up till you would hardly know it had any foundations in religious thought at all. Harold does not like it but he has no experience with these things so prefers to let it stand as it is. He feels if they can agree on something religious, perhaps they might be willing to join the new church, which seems to have taken the name, "The Christian Community Church of Cherry Plain." In the evening around 5:30 P.M. Rachel and I went with Major Livingstone to White Creek. Livingstone was giving a lecture on his prison life. His experiences as a prison chaplain. After the lecture we stayed all night." "November 29th, Thanksgiving Day. What a beautiful day…….This diary is a year old today. I began to write my daily adventures on Nov. 30, 1933. I said then "How faithful I be in keeping it remains to be seen." There may be some things I ought to have put in and perhaps many things I ought to have omitted but on the whole I have been faithful in delineation my daily routine. So readers will see that there is not anything really exciting in a ministers life. But one thing I can say, God has blessed me with a year of health and friendships and for this I am truly thankful." "December 25th, A pleasant day for Christmas. Not too cold. Went to Rev. and Mrs. Tarlings for our Christmas dinner. Had a pleasant and enjoyable time. Came home by way of Taconic Trail. It was not slippery as we expected. Going over to Adams we went by way of Brody Mountain going down to Massachusetts side it was rather slippery so decided when returning to take a different and a much more traveled road hence the Taconic Valley route." 1935 "March 12th, The district superintendent arrived for lunch around 12 A.M. Have had a talk with him and have decided to close my ministry here when conference sits in April 25th. The fourth quarterly conference here and at Garfield were rather dull affairs. In my annual reports I notified the people both at Berlin and Garfield of my decision. I have been here for 5 years and that is as long as I have stayed anywhere." "April 29th, 1938 I began this diary in Berlin on a Thanksgiving Day. I have found pleasure in coming to it's pages from time to time. So I close it with my closing ministry here at Pottersville in the year of our Lord 1938.…….If Riverside and Olmstedville could pay salary enough to support a preacher, these would be ideal places to serve. Generous and loyal and very appreciative, different from Pottersville but I bid adieu to them and to this little diary wishing them and the writing in this book, Adieu. 1938." The diary has soft covers and those are a bit torn and bent and pulling away from the spine but the binding and pages look good. G+.
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