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    1 MY EARLY YEARS

    Many have requested me to give some remembrances of early times, and manifestations of the Lord’s dealings with His people. Having been familiar with the Advent movement of 1843-1844, and having since Jan. 2, 1849 proclaimed the doctrine, I esteem it a pleasure to “speak the things which I have seen and heard.” I will first call attention to some things in my own early life.MML 1.1

    I was born in Victor, Ontario County, N.Y., Jan. 26. 1832. My father was an earnest, local Methodist preacher. When I was three years of age, a Miss Bibbins started a school for little tots in one of the classrooms of the Methodist Church. On the last day of school we were all taken into the sanctuary where our parents and others were assembled to hear recitations. Among the rest, I was called upon to make my first public speech, which consisted of a bit of poetry I had learned. When the people clapped their hands, I did not know it had any reference to what I had done, so supposed it to be their part of the meeting.MML 1.2

    In our childhood days our parents took us little folks to the “love feasts” and the communion seasons of the church. I well remember that as testimonies were borne in those love feasts, they were moistened with tears and accompanied with shouts of praise that touched our young hearts. I remember, too, how plainly the people dressed,-neatly, yet without any display of jewelry.MML 1.3

    In those days, those who were to partake of communion received a ticket from the class leader. One woman did not get a ticket because she had worn gold. Shortly afterward, her daughter was excluded from church for attending a ball. Poor girl! She took a violent cold as the result of a night of dancing, sickened and died. At her funeral the minister expressed some doubts as to her acceptance with the Lord.MML 1.4

    We children learned the do, re, mi, from the choir leader who always started the singing with a tuning fork. As he placed this to his ear, he would sound the do; then those of the other parts of the music would sound their first note before singing.MML 1.5

    There came a time when a man stood at the head of the choir with a violin with which to give the leading note. Though it was a decided improvement, it displeased some of the members who thought that no instrumental music should be used in the Lord’s house. They thought the violin’s only use was “with the devil’s music in dance halls.”MML 2.1

    Once when my father was constructing a certain house, there was quite a large pile of stones which they wanted moved to the other side of the fence. My uncle, who was one of the carpenters, said if I would move them with my little wheelbarrow, I would find a sixpence (twelve and one-half cents) under the last stone. Of course I worked hard to get to the last stone, and sure enough, there was the sixpence. I knew very well that my uncle had to divert my attention just before I picked up that last stone.MML 2.2

    The interesting thing is the use I made of that sixpence. At that time the Methodists were carrying on missionary work on the west coast of Africa. My sympathies were aroused, and I decided that my sixpence should buy a Testament for some poor heathen boy. There was to be a meeting at the minister’s house that week for the people to bring clothing, money, etc. to send to Africa. The day of the missionary meeting I was sent to the store for some article. Whether to test me or not, the merchant showed me some things he knew I loved, and offered to sell them for a sixpence. There was a struggle within me whether to buy the articles or not. Then I thought of the poor heathen and left the store on a run. I hurried to the minister’s house just as the people were gathering, and handed him the sixpence saying, “I want to send a Testament to the poor heathen.” Then I left for home as suddenly as I had come. As I went out, I saw the minister holding up the sixpence and talking to the people. Some of them shed tears. I imagine he made my sixpence tell for more than twelve and one-half cents. I know that I felt very happy afterwards.MML 2.3

    In the winter of 1837, the night after my sixth birthday, a terrific sight appeared in the heavens and continued for the whole night. It was the fiery aurora. A man and his wife living directly across from our home had taken my father and mother for a sleigh ride to spend the evening with another family two miles away. Two girls from the neighbor’s family and a Miss Horton, 18 years of age, came to spend the evening with us children. About seven o’clock, while we were enjoying our childish sports, there came a sudden flash of red light. My brother cried out, “The house is afire!” and we all rushed out-of-doors. What a sight greeted our eyes! The whole heavens had the appearance of a red flame, mingled with cloudy vapor. The reflection of this upon the snow appeared like fire rolling in waves down from the hillside.MML 2.4

    Even Miss Horton was startled and cried out, “The world is coming to an end!” Our parents, who anticipated our terror, were soon home to calm our fright. Some of the neighbors sat up all night to watch the ever-changing grandeur. The aurora was seen all over the then settled portions of the United States.MML 3.1

    During the summer of 1839, my father had seventeen men in his employ. In addition to his cabinet and chair business, he built houses and constructed horse powers for threshing machines. He was also the only coffin-maker for a large section of the surrounding country. Besides giving attention to all his business, he spent nearly every Sunday holding meetings in the Methodist Church. Sometimes on arriving home at eleven o’clock at night, he would find an order for a coffin which must be had the next day, and the rest of the night must be spent in making it.MML 3.2

    Notwithstanding he was a man of vigorous constitution, and only 35 years of age, it is no marvel that in September he was confined to his bed with typhoid fever, with little vital force remaining to expel the disease from his system. Those were the days of bleeding and dosing with calomel for every affliction. A patient was not allowed any water or fresh air. When I think of how my father was served by a physician of that time, it is no wonder that he died. My father’s funeral was attended by about 2,000 people, nearly all mourners. Dearly did I love my father! As I saw him covered up in the cold ground, I began to realize that I could see him no more. With a sad heart I went to make my home with my grandfather who was a Methodist class leader.MML 3.3

    What the different ministers said at other funerals I attended about this time brought me both joy and sadness. I distinctly remember one prominent minister saying that the saints in heaven would sit on the edge of a cloud and sing psalm tunes forever. Not having any idea how far it was to heaven, I fancied it might be that some of those beautiful, shining, fleecy clouds of summer piled up like bales of purest wool appeared so glorious because the saints were on them. Many an hour did I sit watching these clouds and wondering if I could hear them sing. But alas! they always seemed to stay on the other side of the cloud. At a funeral I attended six months later, the minister declared the soul to be immortal and invisible, and so small that 3,000 could dance on the point of a needle. This sadly destroyed my childish fancy about the bright clouds.MML 3.4

    Although my grandparents believed the coming of the Lord to be near, they also believed we were to “occupy till I come,” so they wished me to get a good education. Not only was I anxious to secure education from books, but also in the use of tools. A cousin of mine had a violin. Since I had no money to purchase one, I made one, shaping the bulge of the instrument from a beech board. I never became a violinist. A physician in the village, to encourage me, paid me a good price for the instrument for it was a careful copy of those sold in music stores.MML 4.1

    As I began to study “Comstock’s Philosophy,” I wanted to make everything described in the book. I constructed an electrical machine with its glass cylinder for generating electricity, the Leyden jar with thunder tongs, dancing jacks, hair-raising images, and other paraphernalia. Then I made a galvanic battery of copper and zinc, with a rasp electric coil for administering electrical shocks. I did not consider the making of these things any great feat, but soon I was branded “the philosopher” and was even called to administer, for pay, electric treatments to a paralytic.MML 4.2

    In my grandfather’s household, in addition to butchering a cow each fall, they killed three fat hogs. From these came the meat supply for a year. Of course, the fresh beef was the diet for a very few days, and after that corned beef and dried smoked beef. The pork was the standard diet, and all the fat used freely in shortcake, pie-crust, etc.MML 4.3

    Flesh food was a staple article of diet three times a day. Fried pork with Java coffee for breakfast, boiled pork for dinner, and if baked beans were a part of the fare, they were not considered ready without a nice piece of pork on top. For supper we had dried beef or ham, and shortcake so full of lard you could almost squeeze out the grease. For appetizers we had mustard, pickles, horseradish, and good sharp cider vinegar.MML 4.4

    Grandfather was a devout Christian and lived his religion before his fellow men. It was not popular in those days to be a Methodist, and some of our Universalist neighbors resorted to ridicule and petty annoyances. As we would come home from church, we would sometimes find several lengths of fence pulled down and the cattle in the grain field. Grandfather well knew who did the mischief for he would see them sneering as he drove out the cattle and put up the fence on Sunday, but he said nothing. One summer day as the family came home, grandfather was astonished to see his fine cherry trees stripped of large limbs of ripe cherries. Many weeks later they were discovered a half-mile away in a deep woods. Grandfather said nothing, but prayed for his enemies.MML 5.1

    Amid all these perplexing incidents grandfather sought for grace to bear persecution without complaining, often using a favorite expression, “It’s a long road that doesn’t have a turn in it.” He expected there would be a respite after a while, and at last it came in a very peculiar manner. On the back side of his farm was a long, ten-acre field of wheat, nearly ripe. His enemies thought to spite him by cutting the wheat before it was fully ripe, supposing it would shrink and be greatly damaged. So on Sunday, while the family was at the meeting three miles away, these enemies went in and cut the whole ten acres and laid it nicely in swaths.MML 5.2

    Little did they realize that they had done him a favor instead of a curse. Grandfather had decided that year to cut his wheat before it was ripe enough to shell. Unknown to his enemies he had engaged two men to come on Monday to help harvest that field of wheat. What was their surprise to find the whole ten acres neatly laid in swaths!MML 5.3

    With a smile grandfather said, “Well, I think the devil overshot his mark this time.” As a result of the early cutting, his wheat was the finest in the neighborhood. That ended all opposition from those people. In his last days, let anyone say a word against Nathan Loughborough and those former opponents were ready to speak of his merits.MML 5.4

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