1873 FREEWILL BAPTIST. 23,000 Word Diary of Important Michigan Freewill Baptist Pioneer Preacher.
1873 FREEWILL BAPTIST. 23,000 Word Diary of Important Michigan Freewill Baptist Pioneer Preacher.
1873 FREEWILL BAPTIST. 23,000 Word Diary of Important Michigan Freewill Baptist Pioneer Preacher.
1873 FREEWILL BAPTIST. 23,000 Word Diary of Important Michigan Freewill Baptist Pioneer Preacher.
1873 FREEWILL BAPTIST. 23,000 Word Diary of Important Michigan Freewill Baptist Pioneer Preacher.
1873 FREEWILL BAPTIST. 23,000 Word Diary of Important Michigan Freewill Baptist Pioneer Preacher.
1873 FREEWILL BAPTIST. 23,000 Word Diary of Important Michigan Freewill Baptist Pioneer Preacher.

1873 FREEWILL BAPTIST. 23,000 Word Diary of Important Michigan Freewill Baptist Pioneer Preacher.

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Important 23,000 word diary of Michigan Freewill Baptist pioneer, Rev. George H. Howard.  Born in 1829 in Union, New York, he became a Christ follower and was baptized in 1857. He was ordained at the Wolf River Quarterly Meeting in 1867 and entered into the ministry at Rosendale, Wisconsin for a short time before settling into a lengthy and effective ministry in Michigan. His ministry was seen as deeply spiritual and successful, baptizing hundreds of converts in a small, rural community.

It seems as though later in his career his effectiveness drew attention from a larger community. In the 1870 Freewill Baptist Register he is noted as still stationed at Ortonville and Goodrich, though he is clearly on a circuit of some kind, preaching and attending meetings in Grand Rapids, Sparta, Ortonville, Goodrich, Brighton, Clarkston, Ovid, etc., By 1891, according to the Articles of Association of the Freewill Baptists, he is noted as being stationed in Sparta and Grand Rapids. 

His brother, Rev. R. L. Howard, was also a pioneer for the Freewill Baptists in Illinois. As it became evident the Civil War would not be a short affair, he enlisted in 1862 as a Lieutenant in the 124th Illinois Infantry. He served first as command of his company through the Vicksburg Campaign. Then, in 1863 he was designated Chaplain through the end of the war. After the war, he moved to be near his brother and pastored the Freewill Baptist church in Commerce, Michigan. 

An extensive diary covering May 28, 1873 through April 2, 1874, it is an excellent example of deeply spiritual pastoral ministry, with seasons of a very real work of the Holy Spirit, and a life made up of the hardship, sacrifice, and sickness of the pioneer lands of rural Michigan in the 1870's. 

Persons mention include: Brother Filmore, Brother Allen from Ovid, Brother Brigham, Brother Jones, Elder Clarke, Moderator Straight, Bro. A. R. Bachelor, Elder Sellick, Brother Ball, Elder McElroy, Elder Lyons, etc. 

Communities and places mentioned include: Olmstead, Hillsdale College, Richfield, Davison, Genessee, Sparta, Grand Rapids, Brighton, Ovid, Goodrich, Clarkston, Bald Eagle Lake [for fishing], Halsey, Talmage, Grand Blanc, Pontiac, Holly, etc. 


May 28. Got there a little after 10 & began the work of the Ministers Conference. Elder Clarke had preached the opening session the evening before. We had a pretty good time. Most of the assignments to minister filled. The articles were spirited.

May 31. In the afternoon, the Covenant Meeting was a blessed place. Bro. A. R. Bachelor spoke in the evening & presented the claim of Foreign Missions & gained $215.00.

June 1. Truly a beautiful day. I had been solicited to preach this morning, but talking it over, Bro Linderman was selected. A. J. Davis at the M. E. Church. The House was packed. Text. "But godliness with contentment is great gain." He spoke well. A basket dinner and then Elder Graham preached the ordination sermon of Bro. Hallack. Text, "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest" &c I was not as greatly interested as I had been before in him. Ordination prayer by Bachelor. Charge by Norton. Hand of fellowship by Linderman. Charge to Church by Battinck. Then Graham took a Collection for Support of the Professor in Theology in Hillsdale. Result, $240.00. In the evening, brother Straight preached. A blessed good discourse, "For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, &c." Thus closed the Y.M. 

June 8. Beautiful day. Afraid to go to the Church & meet my people. House was filled. Spoke from 1st Thess. 5.21. And was helped of God. It was really refreshing to my soul. After sermon was the Communion & that was a blessing. Sunday School 117 by actual count. My class 17. It was a pleasant forenoon. Got off to Goodrich & Bro Stinson met with me. It was not really my decision. Was late & was not fully prepared. But still had a pretty good time. Sunday School 40. Put out the new books [which he bought from the Sunday School Union in Grand Rapids]. O may God bless them to us & to his cause. Our meeting in the evening was small & could not keep up. Some good tokens. But on the whole I was sad to close up the day. God help us.

June 13. Meeting at Bro Brigham's & a very good Spirit it did seem to be of God was with us. Some are confident that god is about to revive his work among us. 

June 14. Went to Covenant Meeting & found a goodly company & had a precious season. The Spirit of God is resting upon some of the brethren & sisters. . . a woman by the name of Uptegraff who lost a child a few months ago has been led to Christ by it, asked to be a member of the Church. God lead her

June 15. Spoke from Rom 6.16, "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey &c." A good deal of interest was manifested, but perhaps no good was done, for it did not seem to be of a deep sort. Oh God help me & bless this people.

June 21. A report against Bro. C. H. Nichols & a committee to investigate it formed . . . 

June 27. A time of humbling & feeling prayer to God & of penitent confession. I covenanted to labor for God. O for the Holy fire from above to burn out our dross. O Lord put they Spirit upon us. O God, suffer us not to die of apathy.

July 13. Covenant meeting at Goodrich & a real good spirit. O how I am comforted by the faith & zeal & love of my Brethren. O God our Father, give us the victory in Goodrich. . . Used the subject of Zacchaeus & was pretty well sustained. Brother Filmore asked me afterward if, "I did mean to say that I did not think there was a honest man in the place?" Queer! Of course I didn't [believe there was an honest man in the place].

August 9. Clara Ball was shot, accidentally, by old Mr. Simpson. Not bad, but created a good deal of excitement.

August 10. In the evening, spoke again upon the character of David, dwelling upon the points of Polygamy & the great crime. Was heard with a good deal of interest [this was the year of the anti-bigamy act directly aimed to stem the polygamy of the Mormons / Latter Day Saints]

September 2. After dinner, Pa & Mas came to Picketts & we stopped on the way to look at Paul's grave & then off for Mich [he had been visiting family in Illinois] & laid down to sleep on the Steamer Ironsides on Lake Michigan. [This was just 12 days before the Ironsides would sink 3 miles off the coast of Grand Haven, killing about 20 people.]

September 17. Heard of the sinking of the Ironsides - the boat we crossed Lake Michigan on. Was greatly affected by it.

September 23. Bro. Brigham came. Visited & looked over the Nichols letters. After dinner, Bro. Filmore came and we took about all the afternoon to talk of the case of Bro Kinsman & Nichols. At least agreed. 

October 14. 25 at the meeting & some interest, but Bro. Parkis pretty nearly killed every body. Talked so foolishly & cold & strange. 

Nov 1. Mrs. Vantyne's house burned last night. Cough a good deal & my lung are somewhat sore. I never had such a cough before. If I do not get better of it I shall go into Consumption. I will try to take care of myself. O Lord, direct me. 

Nov 7. Tired out at night. My cough is troublesome but loose & I raise as I never did before. I keep thinking, perhaps I have begun to go as the rest did. But I pray God to lead me & to be reconciled in all things.

Nov 30. Ernest sick. So bad I couldn't leave for meeting. O how sorry & a large gather too; disappointed. Ernest had a terrible cramp colic. Lasted hours, in fearful agony. Took quantities of morphine and chloroform. Got easier & slept a little.

Dec 3. Earnest is a queer body. Eaten not a particle yet. Wants to take chloroform all the time.

etc. etc. etc. includes much devotional content, church business, personal affairs, and he responds to public happenings on occasion [like the sinking of the Ironsides, etc.]