Pioneer Converts
Braved Icy Water
and Beaver Traps

Lincoln County News, Dec. 28, 1933

The religion of the pioneers had an intensity that is rare today, if one may judge from the anecdotes related in old files of the Lincoln Beacon by Rev. J.A. Woody, pioneer Baptist minister of Lincoln County, who began preaching about 1871 in groves, preached later in schoolhouses and during his service organized 10 churches in and near the county and baptized hundreds into the church.

Some of the churches had revivals, he wrote, that lasted all year -- summer and winter, and there were many strange experiences.

At Pottersburg, for instance, there was once a revival in which a number were converted, including one man who wanted to be baptized at once. It was during the coldest weather, with ice a foot thick on the streams, but he could not be deterred, so a hole eight feel long and six feet wide was cut in the ice, the congregation assembled on the ice and the man was baptized in the icy water. On another occasion several people near where Beverly now is were baptized through the ice.

In the northeast part of Lincoln County there was another successful revival that lasted three weeks and made 50 converts. Forty-five on them were desirous of immediate baptism, but there was not sufficient water in Salt Creek, so the minster, Mr. Woody, asked several members of the congregation to meet with him at Keerlers' ford the day before to construct a dam. The night before the dam was to have been built the beavers that infested the creek built a damn of mud and sunflower stalks exactly where the men intended to build theirs. Anxious to catch the beavers, some boys of the neighborhood set a steel trap under the water close to the place where the baptismal rites were to be performed. The minister and the converts, unaware of the hidden trap, went through the baptismal services as intended without disturbing the trap. Mr. Woody made the following comment:

"It is for the reader to decide for himself whether the beavers were sent to build the dam or whether the building was a coincidence merely. Also, each much determine for himself why the preacher didn't get his foot into the trap."

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