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Friday, August 21, 2009

EAST TENNESSEE CHRISTI1N ASSOCIATION OF FRIENDS. Extract! from Report of an Investigating Committee. Page 812

East Tennessee Christian Association of Friends.

Extracts from Report of an Investing Committee.

. . . In regard to the reports published, our own observation partly confirms them ; and the statements of all with whom we conversed, including the leading and most reliable persons we could find within the bounds of our field of investigation, not only fully confirm, but even go to show that all has not yet been told that should be brought to light and remedied by the help of and for the sake of the love of Jesus which has been extended to our unworthy selves.

In regard to the estimation in which the people we visited bold the General Agent, all classes and parties spoke in the highest terms of gratitude of what he had done for them.

We found the Bible schools in a flourishing condition. The two visited on the day we began our investigations were especially interesting, being well attended, orderly, and a deep interest being manifested. The average attendance of one of these schools is one hundred and twenty pupils, and of the other, seventy-five.

As to their progress in learning to read, write, etc., we cannot doubt the correctness of the published reports, since we have iiot only the testimony of mauy of the parents and others, but have actually tested many cases ourselves. Some parts of this field of labor had been visited by us before. We can, therefore, testify to the evident improvement within the last year of the people generally wherever schools have been conducted. Not only is this apparent in the appreciation and utilization of their day and Bible schools, but also in pecuniary prosperity evidenced by the more tidy appearance of their clothing, etc. It must not be inferred that they are in easy circumstances yet by any means, however, for many of them make their crops almost entirely with the hoe, and frequently in valleys or " hollows" from fifty to one hundred and fifty yards wide and upon steep hillsides. Both sexes labor in the field, and men, women and children all seem disposed to be both industrious and economical, and

as they are most commonly naturally very intelligent, nothing is lacking to make them a well-to-do people in every sense but education.

We have examined (he books and papers of the Treasurer and General Agent, and find them well kept. We believe that the latter has not only conducted his business fairly, but also with good judgment. We find, too, that if paid for all the time he has spent, it would not amount to fifteen dollars per month through the Association, nor to over twenty dollars per month from all sources whatever, including school bills and medical fees collected end to be collected.

It should be remembered that he labors not merely five days of six study hours each, per week, but seven days, averaging each about twelve hours actual labor. The alleviation out of his own private funds, of extreme cases of suffering for want of medicine, food, etc., have thus cut down his wages to a mere pittance.

Among his papers we noticed letters from J. Dennis, Jr., of Washington, D. C., from which we find that be, J. Dennis, Jr., made up the first article published in the Friends' Review from several letters which bad been written to him, from time to time, by the General Agept. One of these letters was in answer to inquiries relative to the condition of a certain low class of poor persons who have neither houses nor furniture of their own except as they extemporize huta for temporary shelter. In regard to these wandering vagrants the General Agent wrote, that "one- fourth live in houses with dirt floors," that they were " below the colored race in point of intelligence," and that they were that class " called by the colored people, ' poor white trash.'" These statements therefore were not iutended to apply to ihe inhabitants of these mountain regions generally, but to the class of vagrants above described only.

We observed that the General Agent was frequently called upon for medical aid while he was accompanying us in otfr visits. This we noticed, was given, sometimes by leaving medicine, and at other times by giving directions for treatment with remedies at hand, of which there is an abundance of the vegetable kingdom among these mountains. His directions for hygienic treatment are especially effective, as the people seem to place unbounded confidencain his skill as a physician. We were told by several persons that he frequently walked ten miles after closing school for the day, in making calls upon the sick, and that sometimes he crossed the Chilhowee range of mountains, making altogether a circuit of twenty miles, returning at the proper time for opening his school the next morning. All this medical attendance, we were told, was given without compensation. He tells us himself, however, that he is occasionally paid something for such services by those who have the means to spare to pay with.

As to the construction of houses, we seldom found one with a window, but frequently they were open enough to afford sufficient light without these appendages. Some of them are not much better thaa rail pens, and some are even constructed of timbers split into pieces as rails are. The greater number of floors which we saw were made of split timbers, commonly called " puncheons." Some were of sawed lumber, and occasionally we found one of naked earth, or rather, a house without a floor made to it.

We give in this report a few only of the many touching scenes and incidents coming under our observation.

One family we visited consisted of a mother and six children, all but one of whom seem to be partially or entirely idiotic. The oldest son can talk a little, the rest of her sons cannot. The two older are grown up and can work a little at some things. The three younger—one of these nearly grown—and sometimes the four younger sons, wear nothing but shirts summer or winter.

We visited another family consisting of a father and mother and six children. We inquired after their health. " There is something the matter with all of them," was the mother's reply. One daughter had bad fits all night the night before we visited them ; the father being partially paralyzed, U not able to walk, and the mother supports the family by working for wages by the day, together with what little help her afflicted children can give her. It should be rerr.arked here that the greater number of those who employ help in these localities are not able to pay the money for labor, hence wages are usually paid in corn, upon which, with the products of their gardens, the poor almost entirely subsist.

In one small cabin we found two families— a widow with five small children, living with her married sister, whose husband's health is poor, aud who has two children. The widow's health was apparently declining under the pressure of the iron hand of poverty.

We estimated all their property, including clothing, bed-clothing, household and kitchen furniture of all kinds, as well as all the provisions on hand that we could observe, to be worth less than two dollars. The entire outfit of several homes (?) we visited was not worth five dollars.

We cannot refrain from mentioning still another case, among the many coming under our observation, of a widow, a cheerful, lively, Christian woman, with six small children,

one of them being permanently a cripple from the effects of white swelling. This widow and her little ones, like many others similarly situated, are eking out a meager support from the cultivation with the hoe of a few acres of sterile mountain soil, and by making baskets when the weather is unfit for out-door work.

The impaired health among these people, especially among the men, has generally been caused by their suffering for their fidelity to their country during the late war.

We were requested by the people to visit many more places of poverty, where they assured us we should witness still greater destitution. This request came from those who do not ask anything for themselves, but their sympathies are deep and tender for their more unfortunate neighbors.

In regard to literary advancement, we can state that we found some who had made surprisingly rapid progress, especially when we take into consideration the fact that the children were unable to obtain any assistance at home in most cases, not even in learning the alphabet. .....

We can think of no other field of charitable labor which will yield a greater harvest than the mountain districts of East Tennessee, western North Carolina, and northeastern Georgia. The natural intelligence of the people and the readiness with which they respond to a call into the Bible School, or come under the influence of any other religious work, are especially encouraging.

David Bowles, ") „ ...
Benj. P. Cosand, } Committee.

Wm. P. Hastings, Prest. of the Ass'n.

Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, and not the apologist of sin.—Spurgeon,