By Kate De Peatt, Secretary, O.S.S.U. — May, 1899
Vale, Oregon: The first of March finds me doing active field work, and on the 6th I bid farewell to the State of my birth, crossed the Snake River and renewed my acquaintance with the good people of Idaho. I am accompanied by those stanch workers in the Cause, Mrs. J. E. Johnson and her son, J. Edwin Johnson, of Vale. In Oregon we left spring, the green grass and budding flowers sending forth their greeting, but in Thousand Spring Valley, Idaho, we are suddenly brought face to face with winter—snow three feet deep and sleigh roads. Here, indeed, was a problem!
By a piece of good fortune (shall we call it Providence?) we are enabled to exchange the use of our hack for that of a sleigh, and on we go. We reach Council on the 9th and are cordially welcomed to the pleasant home of Mr. and Mrs. Olaf Sorensen. Here we meet that old standby of Liberalism, Morgan P. Gifford, and his mother. Mr. Gifford is young in years but old in the work, and gives promise of becoming one of our best speakers. Friday afternoon is set for the lecture, and I have the pleasure of greeting many old friends and forming the acquaintance of many new ones.
The Council Liberals are true blue and a visit among them could not be otherwise than the most enjoyable. Mr. and Mrs. E. Stevens, Mr. and Mrs. John Hancock, Mr. and Mrs. Camp, Mr. and Mrs. Krigbaum, Mrs. Morrison, Mr. Winkler, and numerous others are on hand to lend their enthusiasm. Some of the young people began to talk of dance, and one was soon arranged. I am glad that my religion admits of dancing, for to me it a most enjoyable recreation. About 1 o’clock a. m. the music ceased, and with it the dancers.
We had arranged Sunday as the date for another lecture, but a combined snow and wind storm compelled us to postpone it until the following Friday. In the meantime we had advertised for a lecture at the Meadows, and on Monday morning a sleigh load of jolly Secularists made their way to the canyon home of Mr. and Mrs. E. Stevens. Theirs is an ideal home in the mountains, by the side of a sparkling stream. The whole scene was robed in a garment of spotless white, but that only made it more enchanting.
The next morning Mr. and Mrs. Sorensen take me on to the Meadows. Notwithstanding the air is cold and biting, we had a glorious ride through the timbered mountains. People in this country become tired of snow, but it seems to me I could never tire of it. Nothing is more exhilarating than a sleigh ride. As is often the case, the arrangements for the lecture had been neglected, but through the efforts of Mr. Ross Krigbaum quite a little crowd gathered to listen to the principles of Secularism, which were new to most present. I hope to revisit the Meadows at some future time and deliver a course of lectures. It is in such places that our work is needed. We must endeavor to reach all places and all classes of people. Wednesday, Mrs. Stevens, in her charming way, again welcomes us to her home, where we remain overnight. It is a lucky thing for Mrs. Stevens that my time is limited, or I am afraid I would follow the example of the orthodox preachers and prolong my stay indefinitely.
Friends from all of the surrounding country had gathered for the lecture Friday afternoon, and standing room was almost at a premium. One feels encouraged to see such interest manifested. We must set people to thinking: that is the only way we can hope to succeed. As faith is the plank of the Christian, so is thought the plank of the Liberal. Such a crowd of young people coming together without dancing could not be thought of, and all departed to meet again in the evening. I was royally entertained at the home of those earnest Liberals, Mr. and Mrs. Hancock, and in their company attended the dance, where we tripped the light fantastic until the “wee sma’ hours,” when weary Nature demanded rest.
I should love to spend a month with the Council friends, but I have advertised at Salubria for Saturday night and must push on. I wish time and space would permit telling of the many acts of kindness and the many amusing incidents which added to the pleasure of my visit. Snow-shoeing is one of the favorite sports, and being decidedly human I am blessed with all a woman’s curiosity. Snow-shoeing became one of my great ambitions. How I succeeded is best told by little Henry Stevens, who acted as my instructor and who, in telling of my progress, stated: “Miss Tate only fell eight times.” Council Valley is truly a haven of rest for the Secular pilgrim, and my visit there will remain one of my most pleasant memories.
The trip of Salubria was anything but monotonous. In Indian Valley we found mud in place of snow, and we received an introduction to the managers of the corporation—Road and Walker. However, we arrived in Salubria, where we had a good audience, but not very radical. I afterwards learned that there are a good many Liberals in Salubria, but they are afraid of Madame Grundy and the Almighty Dollar, and are afraid to come out and call their souls their own. I was in hopes that slavery had perished with the great civil strife, but it still exists in its most malignant form—the slavery of the human mind.
By another act of Providence (?) we learn that some freighters will go to Thousand Spring Valley on Sunday, and we eagerly embrace the opportunity of riding that far with them, as our sleigh is useless on such roads. I had traveled by almost every other method of traveling, but this was the first time I had ever went a’la freight. It was really a pleasant experience for me. Mr. Taylor, the freighter, proved to be a Liberal and agreeable company, and our views on religious and political questions were antagonized only by the mudholes along the road, which sometimes put an end to our conversation in a very unceremonious manner. However, we arrived safely at Thousand Spring Valley, and the next day made our way to Weiser without further adventure.
The friends in Weiser are alive and active, and we met an enthusiastic audience. Here they are outspoken and dare proclaim their views to the world. It was a pleasure to come face to face with such friends. They expect soon to organize a local society and fight superstition with an organized band. A drive of about twenty miles the next morning and we are back on the shores of old Oregon. A late drive took us to Mrs. Johnson’s genuine home, where the family were awaiting our coming.
I was very much pleased with my trip into Idaho. The church influence was in evidence the last session of their Legislature, and some very obnoxious laws were passed, which have aroused the people to active work. They expect to organize a State union as soon as possible, which will become an auxiliary of the National Union. Let all the States follow their example, and let us have our National Union branch into State unions, the State into county, the county into local, and so on until we are organized permanently.
In my next I will give an account of the work in Malheur County. A convention is called for in Vale on April 7, for the purpose of organizing a county union, and a full account will be published later. Let us show our faith by our acts and pray by work.
Editor’s Note: Secretary De Peatt is our duly authorized agent for Oregon and adjoining States to receive subscriptions for this Magazine. Any favors our Western friends shall render her will be appreciated. —Editor.