Women & the Church

This is an excerpt from a manuscript which was written by Mary Osmond, one-time editor of the Osceola Sentinel. Miss Osmond's father was an early settler of Hopeville who gave Doyle township its name.

Can you realize the hardship undergone by the woman of that early period --indeed of all the time until even as late as in the 70's (1870's), who was baptized in the winter season? And then, baptisms in summer were rare, for the revivals were in winter. Hundreds upon hundreds of those pioneer Christian women went away-- a mile or it might be five, from the church, riding through the winter air, reached the side of a river or pond, where, at a depth from shore that the preacher stood about to his hips, a large hole was cut in ice from six inches to two feet thick with the chill water below. On the shore she cast off wrap and headgear, generally her shoes, and assisted by strong hands walked out on the ice, was lowered into that ice cold water, immersed by the preacher in full view of a congregation of all kinds on the shore, then drawn up, wrapped in a quilt, assisted to a house on the shore or conveyed in a sleigh perhaps half a mile to one, where by a glowing fire she dressed in dry clothing cheered and helped by the other older members, and went home happy, for miles of riding, maybe. Nothing but severe, sudden illness postponed a baptism in those days, for even a week. It is a matter of record that no one was ever made sick or hurt by it. Nowadays none of the outside wicked world ever sees a baptism. Hardly anyone does, for that matter, and it is an affair of warmed water in a retired baptistry. I'm not saying it should not be, you know. I am recalling some of the pioneer trials, and this was one that confronted every woman if she was immersed, for there was a prevalent idea it was not very much of a Christian that waited till summer for it.

Another thing these pioneer women underwent was having no Sunday School privileges unless they were teachers. No "old people" were expected at the Sunday School in those early days.

So, we of a Christian nation go hopefully on, sure that many of the disabilities and worries we have, the babies we see will not have. With the side saddle, the long skirt and the unequal laws that bind us left behind, women will be just as helpful in a more rationald and happy way than these brave pioneer women were. But their deeds will always shine, done as they were with so many more difficulties than the men they worked with had.


Source: Centennial Edition, Osceola Sentinel, July 30, 1959

Graphics courtesy of:Christian Media

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