So on Thursday morning, in Easter Week, April 6, 1893, these two young people woke up in Atchison, Kansas, and were once more the guests of Mr. and Mrs. D. P. Blish, whose house overlooked the "big muddy" Missouri River and the freight yards of the railroads which entered Atchison. The comfortable house was located high on a bluff, for Atchison is built on two bluffs, and occupies also the valley between them.
The North side is the more populous, and the South side, where were located the church and the Rectory, and where Mr. and Mrs. Blish and many other parishioners of Trinity parish lived, also stretched up a long hill to the top of the bluffs by the bank of the swirling river. Eight rather long blocks formed the street from the bottom of the little valley up the hill to "T" street, where the old Rectory stood at number 416 (the present Rectory is on the other side of the city), and as many blocks ran the other way from Commercial street, the chief retail and wholesale street, which stretched for a mile or more from the Missouri River straight west to West Atchison.
In the early days of the Western trek, Atchison shared with Leavenworth (twenty miles further south), and St. Joseph, Missouri (twenty f miles further north, and on the opposite side of the big river), and also with Omaha, still further north, the business of shipping goods from the East and South to the West, and of supplying the men and women J and their families who settled up the West and the Far West, with their needs, as well as supplying the needs of western storekeepers through the jobbing houses which grew up along the big river in these thriving cities. For some years previous to the arrival of our young Priest and his wife, however, the competition of Kansas City, Missouri, fifty miles below Atchison, had sapped a good portion of the trade which had built up the Kansas towns, and Atchison in 1893 was accordingly almost stationary in business and in population. All the same there were many thrifty families, and it was estimated that one thousand people from Atchison visited the Chicago World's Fair, which is a large proportion, especially considering that one-half of the city's 15,000 population consists of colored people, who were mostly poor people. The place was originally settled for the most part by families from central New York and parts adjacent, so that the thrift and the intelligence and the general outlook upon life which marked the New Yorkers (outside of New York City) fashioned the atmosphere of the thriving Western shipping-point.
Another feature which is unusual in the West even at this day was that the membership of Trinity Episcopal Church included a very large proportion of the leading men and women of the city. They sent their children to Eastern schools, or at least five hundred miles further east, to Illinois and other central states--and a more wholesome, delightful, and intelligent set of fine young people Marie and John Henry have never found in any parish of their varied experience. Again, Trinity parish was then one of the largest in the diocese of Kansas, being exceeded in numbers only by those in Topeka and in far-off Wichita, at that time. Two of Trinity's previous Rectors were elevated to the Episcopate, namely, Bishop Leonard, the second Bishop of Nevada and Utah, and the immediate predecessor, Bishop Francis Key Brooke, the first Bishop of Oklahoma and Indian Territory. Both of these elections were by the House of Bishops, to the Missionary Episcopate. Trinity's Rector was expected to give time and attention to some diocesan interests such as the diocesan Board of Missions, and usually went to the General Convention of the National Church. He also taught in the Kansas Theological Seminary, at Topeka, during the sessions of that rather makeshift organization.
All of these and several other opportunities to enter into the extra-parochial life of the Church were eye-openers to both Marie and her husband, as they lay quite beyond the horizon of any Curate's work, even in such cities and parishes as Calvary, New York, and St. James's, Chicago.
Marie by this time had become the treasurer of the firm of "Hopkins and Graves-Hopkins," as her accuracy and carefulness were able to take much better care of their limited income than John Henry had found possible amid the rush and variety of parish activities and leadership. It was a task, accordingly, for her, as well as for him, to balance the budget, when one recalls that their scale of living in Chicago had been that of $1,800 a year, with only $50 for general expenses such as light, fuel, and water tax, etc., and that their income in Atchison was only $1,200 a year with a ten-room Rectory to heat, and with the water tax knocking at the door every quarter, and the sexton appearing with a plea for a quarterly payment for taking care of the Rectory furnace, etc. Also, on the Chicago basis, they had increased their life insurance, the bills for premiums on which came smilingly in the mail every six months. For some years after their marriage, John Henry's mother had generously sent them, in monthly checks, a total of $500 a year, which helped them out mightily as they confronted the Atchison budget and salary.
One sorrowful experience looms up in John Henry's memory, as he thinks of the obligatory economies of those distant days. The chief shoe-store on Commercial street was managed by a good Congregationalist. About the 25th of one of those financially difficult months which have thirty-one days, John Henry ran out of shoe-blacking. So he went to this shoestore, intending to buy a good-sized box, for that is cheaper in the long run. He took the precaution, after entering the store, to gaze into his lean and hungry purse, and found there just three cents. So he decided to buy a five-cent box of blacking, and he asked Mr. Congregationalist proprietor please to do up the small package and to leave it on the counter, while some pressing parish calls were made, stating that he (the caller) would come back and get his purchase later in the afternoon. He realized, of course, that if he disclosed to this good Congregationalist that he had but three cents left on the 25th of the month, said good Protestant would probably tell his wife, and she, good lady, could narrate the discovery at the next meeting of the "Plymouth Rock Sewing Circle," and the tale would soon become current in Atchison that Trinity Church paid its Rector very poorly, because said Rector was broke on the 25th of the month. So, with loyalty in his heart and poverty in his pocket, John Henry walked the eight long blocks to the Rectory, broke open a missionary box, and borrowed two cents from said missionary box, the loan to be repaid promptly on the arrival of the next month's salary. And the Congregational denomination in eastern Kansas was never the wiser!
All the same, it took careful management to greet the end of each month without debt, and yet to keep up appearances of thrift and prosperity, and to keep the life insurance premiums paid up as well as the "tithe." For Marie most scrupulously kept account of this "tithe" all during the years of their married life. Their first year, on $1,000 a year salary, in New York City, they gave away a twentieth, instead of a tenth, of their income. But that was only for that first year. In all after years of their working life, they usually gave away more than a tenth, and they always managed to save something against the days of rain and retirement. And they never ran bills. They always paid cash, or went without, with the exception of such expenses as light and taxes, and other items which could not be paid except by meeting a bill. There was one exception on John Henry's part--or perhaps there were two. He would occasionally send for a book, to McClurg's or "The Young Churchman Company," and he had an account at Marshall Field's, so that if any accident occurred which demanded an immediate purchase, he could have the goods when needed, and pay for them at the next mailing of statements. These types of expenditure, however, occurred so very rarely that he would now and then receive a line from Marshall Field's, calling his attention to the fact that a number of months had elapsed since his last purchase, and hoping that the time would soon come when he would again begin to buy at Marshall Field's.
So their life in their first parish began. The Rectory needed a new carpet in the front hall and the ladies of the parish set to work to buy one. After deliberating for some time as to the pattern (without thinking of consulting Marie at all about it), one of the prominent guild members was interviewed by her up-and-coming daughter, who suggested that "Mrs. Hopkins might possibly have some ideas on the subject which would be of value, seeing that she was the one who would use the carpet." The result was that Marie, who went with the committee, helped them of course to buy the prettiest bit of carpet for the smallest amount of money possible, and the guild ladies smiled loudly.
The young people soon estimated aright the fact that in Marie they could find many kinds of help. Some of them at once discarded, in their homes, as far as they could control matters, the custom of keeping the tablecloth spread all day, with a heap of always-needed dishes and silver piled up in the center, awaiting the distribution for the next meal. These tools of trade, of course, were never in sight at the Rectory except when in use, and the dining rooms of some of Trinity's parishioners gradually took on the appearance of well-butlered affairs, as the daughters found it possible to adopt the Rectory customs.
Marie always had good fortune with her "help," during her entire life as a housekeeper, but her Atchison experience required more diplomacy and patience than was often found necessary in after years. There was a little Englishwoman, who may be called X. Y. Z., and in the year 1893 her daughter was over 14 years old, and X. Y. Z. had given her the name of a beautiful flower.
Miss "Flower" was carefully brought up by her intensely active mother not to do any work about the house, and the girl's appetite for cheap novels was something out of the ordinary. She went to school, of course, but her mother insisted that she do no work. She acquiesced in this regime without a murmur. X. Y. Z. had achieved a reputation among Atchison's housekeepers who indulged in the luxury of "help," which was unique. It was commonly understood that she could not be induced to stay with any mistress more than two years, and the usual term was much shorter. She was credited with the ability to pile up more broken crockery and even furniture, in the domestic dumps, than any three women in that part of the state of Kansas, in the same length of time. Marie was gently warned about her abilities in this and similar directions, but the young housekeeper simply smiled, and went on her usually successful way without comment. X. Y. Z. was found to be perfectly manageable, and so far as they knew and could keep track there were no broken bits of Rectory crockery or of Rectory furniture which could be traced to her spontaneous and temperamental ebullitions of vehemence. The secret seemed to be that Marie put absolutely no barriers in the way of her Church-going. She was as impassioned and determined a Church-goer as she was crockery-smasher. Every scheduled service at both the church and the chapel (a mile-and-a-half away, in West Atchison, near the railroad shops of that part of the Santa Fe Railroad) found this devoted Churchwoman regularly present, in all kinds of weather, and at all seasons of the year. Marie's own record could not have been more punctiliously observed and established. There was no trouble with the "help" question, though there were some difficulties which had to be surmounted occasionally. Once in a while X. Y. would essay mince-pie. John Henry would then line one of his coat pockets with paper, and surreptitiously slide his piece of the indescribable concoction into the pocket, and after dinner would suddenly find that a special visit to the furnace room was needed. The pie made excellent fuel for the furnace. Marie never condescended to such tactics, though how she managed to wrestle digestively with the article in question is one of the mysteries of the Atchison Rectory.
So far as this part of their Atchison life was concerned, everything went on smoothly for the full two years of X. Y.'s usual incumbency in anybody's home. Then a complication suddenly arose which caused, as John Henry always held (though Marie did not agree with him as to the connection between the incident and X. Y.'s sudden departure), an abrupt termination to the halcyon period of domestic success at 416 "T" street.
There 'was a locomotive engineer who worked on the central branch of the Union Pacific Railroad, and his run took him in and out of Atchison very often. He was the father of several children, and one sad day his poor wife lay down and died. Then the distracted man, who could not leave his engine for any length of time, wrote to John Henry, whom he did not know personally at all, but whose help he urgently sought in the emergency which had been flung upon him. John Henry always said that this good man had heard about Marie, and therefore his opinion of John Henry's ability in selecting a wife was supremely credentialed. This is probably the truth of the situation, and the real cause of the good man's extraordinary letter. For the be-childrened widower simply asked John Henry please to pick out a wife for him, and he would follow it up promptly with a suit for her hand! Her heart would take care of itself, and of the children, of course. Well, John Henry received this remarkable letter just before dinner one noon, and, in an attack of very serious carelessness, he read it aloud to Marie at dinner, while X. Y. was waiting on the table. Just as soon as the fateful meal was finished, poor X. Y. Z., with cheeks all aflame, summoned Marie into the kitchen, and floored her with the crashing announcement, "That engineer means me!" Marie "opened her mouth and drew in her breath," and after steadying her reeling brain with all her self-control, replied calmly, "Oh! No, my dear, he couldn't have been so far-sighted as that. Just think how unhappy the little Flower would most probably be, with this man's several children all around all the time, and how unhappy you would be to have her placed in such an uncomfortable and unfair position! It couldn't possibly be a position that you would enjoy, at least not after the first very short time, and, once in it, you would have a very difficult time to get out of it. Your worst enemy could not imagine a more painful experience for you than to enter into such a world." Marie's powers of persuasion are usually supremely successful, and for the time being X. Y. seemed to acquiesce. Marie and John Henry silently congratulated the Union Pacific Railroad Company on this acquiescence, for they had already pictured to themselves a flashing bird's-eye view of the probabilities, had X. Y. insisted upon marrying the hapless engineer. They had visions of the fragments of broken locomotives and wrecked roundhouses and smashed-up freight trains which loomed up in the very uncertain future, should X. Y. decide at any time, in the engineer's vicinity, to be as emphatic as some of her friends had said was possible. The threatened cyclone seemed to pass, but its sequel did not pass. On the contrary it came to pass, most definitely, before very long after the arrival of that fateful letter. (By the way, John Henry thanked the engineer deeply for the high compliment and rare opportunity, but said that he, to his great regret, was unable to think of anyone whom it would be to the engineer's advantage to consult.) What came to pass was another conversation in the kitchen between Marie and X. Y., in which the latter said that she had decided to give up housework, and to earn her living by baking breads, and such like, which she had no doubt would be ordered from her by Atchison's housekeepers as soon as she set herself up in this new business. This time Marie's arguments were unavailing, and the result was that for the last feAV weeks of their Atchison residence the poor Rector and his afflicted wife had to walk eight blocks or so down and up a long hill to and from their meals, which were taken at a boarding house at the foot of Fourth street, where the good landlady's conception of roast beef was something colored a dark brown, if not an incipient black, and where dish-washing and the like were reduced to their lowest possible terms by the kind compliance of the boarders, who "licked" their dinner-forks and thus prepared said forks for pie, etc. John Henry has always had a high regard for engineers, but he has never cultivated correspondence with any of them since those last weeks in Atchison began to fade into the happily irrevocable past.
Limitation of space forbids that many other outstanding and delightful events of these busy twenty-seven months in Atchison should be chronicled. They were all unexpected, and many were unprecedented in the experience of the young cleric and his versatile wife. "They came; they saw; they did their best." And the record, as one looks back upon it from the viewpoint of after years, was something most unexpected and gratifying.
The city-bred young Priest, with three years of Curate work in two large and wealthy parishes, in New York and Chicago, found that he knew about as much about the real life of the Church today, outside the large parishes in the great cities, as a choir boy knows about building a big church organ. Nearly everything that he had learned in the General Theological Seminary he found almost useless in his active work, but one remark by Dean Hoffman, which the Dean flung out to the students one afternoon at Evensong in the seminary chapel, was never forgotten. "Young gentlemen," said the Dean, "don't forget that your record in your first parish will probably either make you or ruin you." The young Rector was not thinking of making a record, but he did think, every day, that it was of the utmost importance to make every atom of opportunity count in Trinity parish, Atchison. And Marie, as always, backed him up "to the limit" in every possible way.
The problem of the music at Trinity Church first engaged John Henry's attention. Marie was his organist at the chapel (St. Andrew's) in West Atchison, and this little congregation of railroad shop-men's families interested her deeply from the start. She went out with John Henry every Sunday and Friday evening, for the regular services, and she made the little reed organ do valiant helpfulness in leading the chants and hymns of Evensong. There were Celebrations without music in the morning, on as many Sundays as possible, but the most frequent services were those of Evensong.
There was a tiny choir of girls, and once, to raise a little money for their work and for other chapel items, Marie sponsored the most remarkable parish social of our career. The remarkable feature about it was the refreshments. Hard up, of course, they were reduced to popcorn and apples. Marie served the popcorn first, with plenty of good Missouri River filtered water (incidentally some of the most delicious drinking water to be found anywhere), and the water swelled up the popcorn within so satisfactorily that there wasn't much appetite for apples. So the refreshments did not cost much, and the net results of the social were ample.
The only trouble about Marie's organ-playing was with the tenor part in the hymns. Her dainty little hands could not possibly stretch more than one octave, and even that was a large strain on their adaptability. So when the thoughtless composers of hymn tunes came to one of those impossible chords with, say, the bass note on C within the staff and the tenor on E above the "staff, Marie simply left out the tenor. The result was, of course, an empty fourth or fifth, and in those orthodox days, when Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was still in the zenith, empty fifths symbolized, as they still do in the opening bars of the Ninth Symphony, the dreary worthlessness of irreligious lives. Of course Marie was innocent of any such tragic statements in the midst of familiar hymns, yet she unfailingly left out the tenor whenever any of those great big stretches came along, no matter what the hymn. Such trifles as these, however, did not disturb the chapel people, and therefore they were figured into the situation as a matter of course.
The music at Trinity Church, on the contrary, was a real problem. There was a well-paid and very good quartet, which sang at the 11 a.m. service, and then only. Miss Fanny Foote, the niece of the Senior Warden, was the excellent organist, and Mr. Frank Yale, a very fine fellow, whom John Henry afterwards presented for confirmation, was the tenor. The alto was a Presbyterian lady, who wore becoming gowns, and the soprano and bass sang well. The trouble was that there was an afternoon service at 4 P.m. on Sundays, and on the first Sunday there were neither organist nor choir, and only about twenty people in the congregation. The church seated about 400 people. So John Henry spoke to the Senior Warden, and his astonishment at the reply was quite real. The long and varied experience which the young Rector had had with choirs--in Vermont at Burlington, where he was organist at St. Paul's for five years before; and in Oakland, California, with the First Presbyterian Church where as has been said he played the organ for three and one-half years without missing one service, Sunday morning or evening; in Calvary Church, New York City, where he had been the organist from Advent until Trinity Sunday during his senior year at the seminary; St. James's Church, Chicago, where he always sang with the great vested choir--in all these places, he told his Senior Warden, the choirs had always sung at two Sunday services. "Well," said dear Mr. Blish, "they don't sing here at more than one." That settled it, of course. So John Henry went to work. He found two or three of the young people in the Sunday school who were glad to learn a little about the organ. He took them, one by one, to the church, and pumped the organ himself while he gave them lessons on playing the chants and hymns of Evensong. We always had an organist, with congregational singing, in consequence, after the first two or three Sundays. This, however, did not at all satisfy John Henry, So he went to work harder than before. When the fall came on, he sent to W. T. Smedley, the able choir-master of St. James's, Chicago, for one of his music-reading charts, which Smedley had used so effectively in teaching St. James's choir boys how to read music. Then he went around the parish and gathered together all of the good singers, both men and women, whom he could induce to enter and began the "Trinity Choral Association." The funny thing was that most of those who could sing objected to entering a chorus, because they wanted to sing solos! All the same, the plan appealed to them finally, and they joined with real zest. When it was possible he did favors for the soloists of other choirs, such as giving free organ lessons to the sister of the Roman Catholic choirmaster, so that said choir-master sang in the T. C. A. Something similar was done by John Henry for the choir-master of the Campbellite or "Christian" choir, so that our chorus of forty voices had some good soloists. One of them, Mr. Chaliss, afterwards became one of the basso artists at the Paris Grand Opera House in France!
Then the chorus went to work to learn how to read music, when necessary, and how to sing the chants of Evensong. Easy anthems followed, until the repertory was complete for all the leading seasons of the Christian Year. Frank Yale was the tenor. He was one of the ablest credit-men on the Missouri River. He became much interested in all the work of the Choral Association. The chief deed of the association was the learning and singing of Sir John Stainer's "The Crucifixion" during the following Lent. This was, we think, the first time that this famous cantata had been sung in the Missouri Valley. Certainly it was the first time it had been sung anywhere around Atchison. John Henry moved a piano into the church, and had it tuned in unison with the organ, and he himself played the orchestral and similar parts, assisting the two-rank organ which Miss Fanny Foote played. There were 500 people turned away that evening, unable to enter the crowded church. Those who did gain entrance came not only from Atchison, but from Leavenworth and St. Joseph, and some said there were people from Kansas City present. The beautiful cantata was well given that night, and John Henry wrote to Sir John Stainer, at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, telling him about it and received a very kind letter from the veteran organist and composer in response. John Henry had first become acquainted with this cantata at Calvary Church, New York, during his term as organist there. He afterwards had it sung at least once in every Lent of his subsequent rectorships, in St. Joseph and Chicago. The best item about the Trinity Choral Association and its work was that the Sunday afternoon attendance grew from about 20 to at times 300, and John Henry gave his confirmation instructions as the sermons, with the result that he presented 105 candidates for confirmation, 55 of them being men or boys, during those delightful twenty-seven months as Rector of the Atchison parish.
There were two Sunday schools connected with the parish when Marie and he arrived, and Marie taught in both of them. One was at the church, and the other was at St. Andrew's Chapel in West Atchison. A few months after this work began, we learned about a large territory some four or five miles from Atchison, which was so spiritually destitute that the children in the district school didn't know even the Lord's Prayer. This schoolhouse was located near a square mile of fertile land which had acquired the title of "the Float," because its title was somehow clouded and no one knew exactly to whom it belonged, as the claims of ownership "floated" around among various persons. So the young people of Trinity parish rallied around their young leaders, who formed, with their help, a mission Sunday school at "the Float" schoolhouse, and it soon numbered over 60 pupils. The sessions of this school were continued during the spring, summer, and fall months, and E. A. Mize, the Junior Warden, loaned Marie and John Henry his white horse and a carriage, most of the time, to carry them and some of the teachers to and from "the Float." The second Christmastide of "St. John's Mission" saw a most complete and enthusiastically arranged festival for the school, and the little schoolhouse was jammed with three layers of people that evening, while the fence for a long distance in both directions from the door of the little building was lined with the horse-drawn equipages of those who came from far and near. The three layers of attendants included the rows of men, who stood, the other rows of women, who sat, and the "kids" in the laps of the women, some of these youngsters sleeping soundly during most of the "programme" of prayers, carols, and Christmas verses, as well as of presents from the tree.
On the Second Sunday after Trinity, June 30, 1895, the last Sunday before Marie and John Henry moved to St. Joseph, Missouri, eleven persons were baptized in this little schoolhouse, two being adults, bringing the number of baptisms during the twenty-seven months of this Atchison rectorship up to one hundred and sixty-three, of whom fifty-six were adults or "Of Riper Years." In no other period of twenty-seven months of subsequent parochial life was John Henry able to report 163 baptisms, with 56 "Of Riper Years."
Possibly the most eager cooperator around "the Float" in all this Sunday school enterprise was a Vassar graduate, who had married a somewhat unsuccessful farmer, and nearly all of whose large family of children went to the school.
Thus during a large part of these remarkably surprising months in Kansas, Trinity parish had three Sunday schools, and Marie taught in all of them. She was especially drawn to this forlorn woman of education and loneliness, whom she met at "the Float." One particularly poignant memory stands out among all the others in this connection. It seems that this good woman's husband had hired a stray workman, some months before we arrived, to help him farm. The man had turned up one day drunk, and very dangerously drunk. They had to have him put in jail, and he swore that when he was released he would wreak his vengeance on the ramify. One day there pulled up before the Rectory on "T" street a large farm-wagon with this little woman perched high up in the air on the driver's seat. She looked almost lost, driving the team from "the Float." How on earth she had scraped together enough money to buy a railroad ticket from Atchison to New York City it would be difficult to imagine, but that is just what she had done. And she begged John Henry to go to the jail, and to arrange with the imprisoned farmhand and the officials of the jail to send the released prisoner back to New York City, at her expense, if it could possibly be done. This was finally accomplished, and the man himself was given just enough money to provide him with food on the trip. His ticket was handed over to the conductors along the route, with instructions please not to allow him to get possession of the pasteboard for fear that he would sell it and not go to New York. He was given a sealed letter, addressed to the Rev. Scott M. Cook, Priest-in-charge of "the Galilee Mission" of Calvary parish, New York, where John Henry had begun his varied work in that parish as a volunteer helper. The man was told that this letter was to be considered void if opened by anybody except the addressee. Imagine John Henry's amazement and amusement also, a few days later, at receiving from Brother Cook an affectionate remonstrance for having sent back to him one of his worst problems--a man whom he had fancied had been shipped permanently to the West as a good riddance! Nothing else from the man crossed our path. And we were just as well pleased, as was also our friend, the farmer's wife at "the Float."
So our busy and varied life at Atchison went on its surprising and delightful way. Among our extra-parochial experiences, John Henry was elected a trustee of Bethany College for Girls, at Topeka. This meant that Marie and he had the opportunity and privilege of traveling to Topeka, Kansas' capital city, several times, where they were most graciously entertained at this fine school for girls, at least over night, and sometimes for more than a day or two. Also, "the Kansas Theological Seminary" met at least twice a year, in Topeka, and John Henry was one of the faculty. Marie had charming visits with Miss Hooley, the able principal of the school, and with both Bishop and Mrs. Thomas, who lived at the school, or at least boarded at its table.
Much space ought to be given to describing Bishop and Mrs. Thomas, but this is not their biography, so it cannot be done. Suffice it to say that Bishop Thomas was one of the most scholarly and gracious of prelates, and that Mrs. Thomas was refreshing in her originality. Their son, "Nat," afterward the Bishop of Wyoming, and at this writing one of the clergy of South Florida, was one of John Henry's "pals" at this time, being ordained a Deacon during our Atchison Rectorate, and always addressed him, through the rest of their lives, as "John Henry." "Nat's" first charge was Leavenworth, twenty miles south from Atchison. He, and Chaplain Pierce of the Ft. Leavenworth Post, and Archdeacon Cyrus Townsend Brady, afterwards the author of a long row of historical novels of American history, were called, with John Henry, "the Big Muddy Quartette," and though they were widely scattered after Marie and John Henry left Kansas, they always had a high regard for each other. The "Big Muddy," of course, is the ferocious Missouri River.
Our furthermost trip West, while in Kansas, was to Salina, then in the undivided diocese of Kansas, where the Diocesan Convention was once held during these vivid twenty-seven months. Those were rather new days for that part of Kansas, but the great state advanced much in every way during the subsequent years. One of John Henry's Atchison Sunday school boys is now the Bishop of Salina, Bishop Mize.
Many warm friendships sprang up between Marie and the women of Trinity parish. Mrs. Otis, whose granddaughter, Miss Amelia Earhart, won lasting fame for being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, and afterwards for being the first woman to fly across alone, was one of these. John Henry officiated at the wedding of Miss Amelia Earhart's parents. Another of these fine women was Mrs. R. A. Parks, whose husband was a banker in Atchison. Yet another was Miss Brown, of the Silliman family. Mr. Silliman was a Vestryman, and a member of the firm of Blish, Mize, and Silliman. He was confirmed during this Rectorate. His stenographer was Miss Fanny Foote, the organist of the parish.
There were, of course, many other able and devoted women in the parish, who gave to us both their hearty support in every way, but these three, like David's "three mighty men," stood out as leaders of all the others. It was largely owing to them that the salary of the Rector was raised during our second year, and that a bountiful and generous Christmas gift practically raised it from the start. It was thus, including this Christmas gift, $1,500 for the first year and $1,800 for the second year.
These three splendid women also were the main-spring of the really large movement to raise money for building the parish house--for there was no parish house when we came. This very useful building cost some $1,700, and was the first building erected in Atchison for some time previous. It was built with a debt of only $500, and, since there was a debt of exactly that sum resting on the parish when we arrived, John Henry always maintained that, as this old debt had been paid off since our arrival and before the parish house was commenced, the parish house was built without debt.
This money was raised by a committee, of which these three leading women were chiefs, during the fall weeks following an unusually depressing summer. Small pox had raged among the colored population of Atchisori in the early part of that summer. The city had been placed under quarantine by the state board of health. Marie and John Henry forwent their usual vacation, and stayed with the afflicted little city all that summer. Then, the "Big Muddy" River went on an unusual rampage during the "June rise," and began to cut away the soil and the approach to the railroad bridge at the east end of the bridge. Then there had been drought in western Kansas, which had affected the wholesale business of Atchison more or less. And there were other agencies of depression, which made the effort of raising money at that time, for the parish house, a herculean task. The very fact that it was done at all seemed to put heart into many people, and there were fully one thousand persons who thronged the little building on the night when it was opened for the first time.
Another unique feature of these twenty-seven months was the "Popular Pastor Contest," gotten up by one of the enterprising stores on Commercial street. To his great surprise, John Henry found that his parishioners were booming him to such an extent that up to the last few days of the voting he was in the lead. Then the Roman Catholics, who are strong in Atchison, got busy, and their Priest of course got the prize. Another unique experience of this Atchison residence centered around Marie. She had taught, as has been stated in these memoirs, for nine years in public schools in Vermont (Burlington and Brattleboro), and had had fully two thousand girls and boys thus under her care, in one way or another. So when this was discovered by the parishioners who were politically inclined in Atchison, there waited on Marie one evening three of these gentlemen, who asked her if she would be willing to "run" for membership on the Board of Education. Eagerly she desired to do just this, but her wariness and good judgment moved her to ask the committee one very important question, viz.: who would be her competitor in this proposed election. At once they gave his name, and it was the name of one of the Vestry of Trinity parish. So the lady replied promptly by saying, "Gentlemen, I appreciate deeply the honor and the opportunity which you have thus brought me, and if any of you ever mention this call to a living soul, so that it is known outside this room, that you have even spoken to me about this suggestion, I will be most deeply pained." They of course promised silence and they kept their promise like true gentlemen. So Marie's first opportunity of entering upon a political career was nipped in the bud by her own intense loyalty to the parish and her determined course which never allowed herself to be the center of even the faintest suggestion of a "parish row." It was a very fine deed of self-renunciation on her part.
Both Marie's mother and John Henry's mother paid them visits while they lived in Atchison. They did not come at the same time, and it was the most western point ever visited by "Merum," as all the youngsters of the family loved to call Mrs. Gemont Graves. John Henry's mother had also gone, with his father, sister, and brother, to see him, while he was a clerk in his Uncle Caspar Hopkins' insurance office in San Francisco in 1884, the year after he had graduated from the University of Vermont.
The ladies of Trinity parish outdid themselves in paying kind attention to both mothers. This was the only time that either mother visited them during their whole parochial life, and they greatly appreciated it. Father Graves was their guest in Hyde Park, Chicago, after they had gone to The Church of The Redeemer, and he stayed with them several weeks. A visit from Charlotte Graves in St. Joseph, and another from Lillian Graves Carroll and Allace Carroll, while they were in Hyde Park, comprise the whole list of family visits which they had the privilege of receiving during their whole life in the Middle-west. This is one reason that, in 1904, they decided to take their annual vacations in Vermont, at Grand Isle, with the family, each summer. Otherwise they would have been largely strangers to their immediate family connections, for Chicago and the Missouri Valley are much further from the Atlantic seaboard than the said seaboard is from them. This, of course, is pure psychology of a very practical type.
Marie was very fond of reading aloud to John Henry, and he was just as fond of having her do it. During their Atchison residence she thus read to him all of Macaulay's History of England, all of Hugo's Les Miserables, and some other standard works. One day there came along an agent of The Century Dictionary, and he wanted to sell his goods. Marie had thriftily laid aside quite a sum of money for just such a purpose, and the agent was astonished beyond expression when she paid cash for the whole set, the cost being about $75, instead of buying on the installment plan as most people did. This superb dictionary outlasted all of their parochial years, and they never found it necessary to buy another one of any kind, except some small ones for desk use.
One passage in Macaulay's History of England especially appealed to them. It was that page where the gifted writer pictures so vividly the general disposition and feelings of the religious exiles from England who fled to Holland from persecution at home. Said exiles, according to Macaulay, thought daily of their former home, and imagined as often that they were sadly missed by the people whom they had left behind. Whereas they were almost completely forgotten within a short time, as they afterwards learned, both to their sorrow and chagrin. So they fancied that they were being missed in busy Chicago, by the kind-hearted and generous St. James's people whom they had left behind when they went to the Missouri Valley. They afterwards found out the truth, which was that they were about as keenly remembered by most of their friends in the Mid-west metropolis as the Holland exiles of long ago were missed in London. This was something of a shock to them, but they learned from it something more about human nature than they could have had the chance to learn had they stayed in Chicago from the first.
So their life in the river town went on month after month, as they entered more and more into the social fabric of this interesting little city. Marie joined a literary club and was, of course, one of its leaders from the first. John Henry had all of the Masonic degrees up to and including the Chapter given to him, by the kindness of his Masonic parishioners. He wrote to Bishop McLaren of Chicago, asking his advice when this generous offer was made to him, for Bishop McLaren was a member of the Masonic body. The Bishop, who was always very good to him, replied promptly that there was no inconsistency in having a Priest of the Church join the Masons, so John Henry took these six degrees, of the "Blue Lodge" and "the Chapter," in Atchison. It was many years before he completed his entrance into Masonry by taking the Thirty-second degree. This also was given to him, and by one of his Redeemer Vestrymen, Zelotes E. Martin, who took the same degrees at the same time. John Henry never found it possible to devote much time to Masonry, though in St. Joseph, Missouri, where he was likewise given the Knights Templar degrees, he was prelate of his Commandery, and attended with fair regularity the conclaves. He found that his evenings were usually so filled with parochial duties throughout his entire work as a parish Priest, that he simply could not attend Masonic meetings in the evenings, when most of them are held, without neglecting duties that he was obliged to perform. He did not find, however, any inconsistency in being a Mason, though he found far too many of his Masonic brethren who made Masonry a substitute for Church--something that is quite alien from the true spirit of Masonry. He found, also, that this connection gave him some valued contacts with excellent men, and everyone knows that, as things are generally arranged, it is quite difficult for the average parish Priest to see as much of men as he would like to do. Marie never joined anything which was not immediately connected with the Church, except the D. A. R. in Grand Isle, Vermont, and the four literary clubs in Atchison, St. Joseph, and the "West End Woman's Club" and "the Motley Club" in Chicago. She was repeatedly invited, in Chicago, to join the Chicago Woman's Club, where, of course, she socially belonged, but she never felt like doing it. John Henry often urged her to do this, and thus to have some contact with Chicago beyond the fine groupings of Church people, but she never would and never did. In his earlier life, in California, John Henry had joined the Odd Fellows, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and later on, for insurance purposes, he joined the Royal Arcanum and the Court of Honor, but he dropped all of these societies at the time of his ordination, except the two latter ones, and these were maintained until they became too expensive.
Space here would be well occupied in describing some of the leading families of their first parish, such as the Senator John J. Ingalls family, and the Otis family above mentioned, but this is out of reach.
Marie's popularity in Atchison was something really exhilarating. She burst into the social life of those who were privileged to know her, in that brave-spirited but sorely depressed little city like a fresh and invigorating breeze on a hot day in summer. And summer's hot days in the Missouri Valley are something to reckon with, the reader can rest assured. Marie fitted up the Rectory so daintily and attractively that it soon became more than the fashion to call on her on her "days at home." No matter what the heat, callers would come. Sometimes twenty and thirty or more callers would ring the Rectory doorbell in an afternoon. And that meant for most of them a long toilsome walk, largely up-hill, with the sharpest hill at the summit where "T" street ran its brief course east and west. One evening a whole boarding-house of friends called in a body (Mrs. Shipley's boarding-house people), and one of the Vestry who boarded there insisted that he and John Henry should sit on the Rectory floor, and play "chickens," to the great amusement of all the other guests, especially to those who did not belong to the parish.
One night, when they had been in the Rectory for a year or more, Marie thought that she might have a very unwelcome guest. Nearly every house in the block had been entered by a sneak-thief during the recent weeks. It was fully expected that the Rectory, with its silver and other pretty things, would have its turn. This particular evening Marie was alone, John Henry having gone to the West Atchison chapel for service. Suddenly, as Marie was writing in their "den" upstairs, sending to her mother her regular twice-a-week letter (always fourteen pages long), she noticed that the lamp (kerosene was used in the lamps) in the hall-way by the front door went out. That left the hall in darkness. Of course she thought that some sneak-thief had entered the house unbeknown to them earlier in the day, and had hidden himself up to that time, had put out the light and would soon be prowling around with his "dark" lantern, etc., etc. Without the slightest delay, Marie simply lighted a candle, and deliberately went downstairs to the front door, prepared to meet any such caller should he be there. Well, there was no such caller; but the wind had suddenly blown into the little hall with a gust that had extinguished the lamp. Marie relighted it (she never said how fast her heart had been beating) and went on with her letter-writing upstairs.
She never could seem to realize the feeling of fear. She was robbed three times in Chicago by purse-snatchers, and once she actually chased one of these contemptible thieves up into an alley, from which he escaped simply because he could run faster than she could. John Henry begged her never to run any such risk again, and the police told her to yell, instead of trying to run after any future purse-snatchers. One night in Hyde Park, Chicago, while they were at The Church of The Redeemer, one of these gentry grabbed her bag just as she was setting out for a late call, about 9 o'clock. She yelled with such intense and successful vocalization that said thief was scared out of his wits and ran away, dropping the bag immediately as he started. It was soon found by a neighbor who restored it, untouched, to its owner, then safe within the living room of the Redeemer Rectory. In after years when she was speaking, Marie could always be heard by the largest audience in the most difficult room, from any kind of a platform.
Another of their Atchison experiences was that of being "written up" by an enterprising pen-pusher in one of the western magazines. Pictures of both the young Rector and his wife, in their various rooms at the Rectory, adorned this kindly-written article. It is regrettable that, among the various movings of the subsequent years, it was somehow lost. At the time it attracted considerable attention in the neighborhood of Atchison.
It is not exaggerating to say that in every way their Atchison life was a delight as well as a surprise to both Marie and her husband, and they had no plans whatever, as time went on, beyond staying with these fine people as long as possible. Now and then a call would come to John Henry, as, for instance, when one of the Vestry from the church in Decatur, Illinois, came on with a call in his pocket, which was courteously and appreciatively declined, as were the others. From time to time, during their second year in the Rectory on "T" street, one or two of the Vestry from Christ Church, St. Joseph, Missouri, twenty miles further north and on the opposite side of the "Big Muddy," would drop over to the Sunday morning services in Trinity Church, and the local Vestrymen would "guy" them with much chaffing and good-humored "jollying," for everyone then knew that Christ Church parish was vacant, and that their Vestry had gone or sent to many parts of the United States in search of a rector.
John Henry outspokenly said several times during that year that nothing could induce him to accept a call to such a parish as Christ Church, and this volunteered item was forthcoming from him only when some of the Atchison people would approach him on the subject. He meant this rather unnecessary remark, which he made not without some unwillingness of course.
However, the Bishop of that diocese, West Missouri, was the Rt. Rev. Dr. E. R. Atwill, who had been Rector of St. Paul's Church, Burlington, Vermont, during most of John Henry's five years there as organist. As a matter of fact Bishop Atwill was in deep perplexity about Christ Church, St. Joseph. It was one of his largest parishes, numerically, with over 400 communicants, and it had had a prosperous career, as parishes go, for eighteen years, under the late Rev. Dr. James Runcie, who had died five or six years before Marie and John Henry left Chicago. He had been succeeded by the Rev. Henry Foote, a relative of Presiding Bishop Tuttle, and a New Englander. This Rectorate had not been in all respects a happy one. It had followed eighteen years of administration by the late Rev. Dr. James Runcie, who was a warmhearted man and who was Rector when the church was built, and likewise the Rectory, and who was greatly beloved by his people.
There is a legend in the Episcopal Church that any Priest who follows a long Rectorate wherein there was a good deal of building runs a great risk of having an unhappy time. Marie and John Henry smashed that legend in Chicago when they began work in The Church of The Epiphany, but it is not an uncommon experience that such sequences involve changes which are not always palatable to the people, and which often involve the early resignation of the succeeding Rector. However this legend may be, this had been the experience of the successor of the late Rev. Dr. James Runcie.
Various members of the Vestry had spent all their available money in traveling around the United States, during this disintegrating year after the resignation of the Rev. Henry Foote, but they had failed to discover any candidate acceptable to them all in spite of all this effort and expense. In the meantime most of them had been over to Atchison, as has been said, and it eventually turned out to be the case that they all could and did agree upon John Henry. So they finally gave him a call, at $2,200 a year and Rectory. That they should have done this, after John Henry's rather needless and outspoken remarks about the parish, told largely upon the side of graciousness on their part. It also told, to one who knows how such things go, of the very urgent needs of the parish at that time.
When the call came, in the spring of 1895, about two years after Marie and John Henry had reached Atchison, it was a staggering surprise to them both. The first instinct in John Henry's mind was, of course, to make good his position already taken, and to decline in a polite letter of thanks. But Bishop Atwill then took part in the call and made such a strong appeal to him, speaking of their long fellowship in St. Paul's, Burlington, Vermont, as Rector and organist, and telling frankly of the discouragement into which his large parish had fallen, and the great need of leadership, that, to make a long story short, it seemed to both Marie and John Henry that duty called upon them to accept, and to go to St. Joseph.
From the larger and more mature viewpoint of subsequent years, it is by no means clear that this was a just decision, though it was an honest one, and a natural one. The parish in Atchison had given to them a larger support than they ever received in any subsequent Rectorate, in proportion to strength and numbers. These splendid people had followed their leadership in every way. There was not the slightest dissension anywhere. The numbers baptized and confirmed during the short Rectorate exceeded in proportion anything they afterwards were able to report. In twenty-seven months the parish had raised John Henry's salary practically three times, including the generous Christmas gifts. And they really deserved better treatment than to be left in the lurch just because a neighboring parish was in some difficulties. It was indeed a most perplexing decision, and it caused a great deal of strain and sorrow to both Marie and John Henry to be obliged to face it and to decide. They also knew that they would be misunderstood, because the salary was a little larger in St. Joseph. In fact the local paper in Atchison so stated in headlines. "The increased salary gets them," it declared. They feared also that they would be misunderstood because John Henry's candidate for the Kansas Episcopate, at the election in Topeka which took place not long before the call from St. Joseph had arrived, was defeated when Bishop Millspaugh was elected to succeed the late Bishop Thomas. Of course this question had not the slightest influence upon the decision to accept the call, but it seemed natural for their Atchison friends to correlate the two events, and, as a matter of fact, poor Bishop Millspaugh was not very popular in Atchison for a long time after his election. It was really one of the most trying experiences of their whole parochial life, for both Marie and John Henry, and when, on the 30th of June, 1895, they bade good-bye to Atchison as a home, and took the little dinky sidetrack train for St. Joseph, twenty miles away, it was with heavy hearts, though they both had by this time become convinced that it was their duty to undertake the harder work ahead. It would have been far easier to have stayed in Atchison, but that did not influence their decision, except, perhaps, to make it clearer that they should go to St. Joseph.
They stayed in St. Joseph with Mrs. C. D. Smith, whose son was a Vestryman, and they stayed only a few days, for vacation time was at hand, and they had had none for two years. The task of making this decision, coupled with the hard work of packing up and moving, as well as the strain of bidding good-bye to their valued friends and loyal supporters of these twenty-seven remarkable months, had worn even on their young and wiry strength. So they spent one rather forlorn Sunday in Christ Church, St. Joseph, the atmosphere of which at that time made it very plain to them both that no small task lay ahead of them, and then they went on to Vermont, to spend a few weeks with the Graves family, who enjoyed that summer at "Star Farm Beach," just north from Burlington and on the way to Grand Isle. The photographs of that camp, which they placed in their summer home at Grand Isle later on, show a family group of bright young people, already wrestling with the problems of life and rather enjoying the fray.