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Experiences of a Backwoods Preacher
Facts and Incidents culled from thirty years of Ministerial life by Rev. Joseph H. Hilts, Second Edition (1892)


To walk together in harmony two must be agreed. This is Bible sentiment, and it is as applicable to going through a book as it is to walking along a country road or a city street.

But no two independent thinkers can reasonably expect to see exactly alike in every particular. The best thing that they can do is to agree to differ without alienation or contention.

In writing the following pages I have stated many facts and incidents. For the substantial truthfulness of every line I can vouch without any misgivings. But I have also given many opinions on a variety of things. Of the correctness of these you must judge for yourself.

You will find some things that will not suit you; and you will say things that would not suit me, if I could hear them. So that in the matter of fault-finding we will come out about even.

But, on the other hand, you will find some things that you will like, and you will say some things that 1 would like, if 1 could hear them. So that in the matter of appreciation and approval we may reckon ourselves to be about even also.

Now, with this understanding at the start, you may safely commence the perusal of the book, and I hope that in going through it you will have a pleasant time, and that we will be no less friends when we part at the conclusion of your task than we were at the beginning of it.

The book has been written almost entirely from memory, and in calling upon that faculty to furnish the materials that fill the following pages, I have found some difficulty in determining what to select and what to exclude, as I could not find room for all the matter presented by that faithful recorder of passing events.

I have made no effort to produce a sensational volume; nor have I attempted anything like fine writing. I simply tried to write so as to avoid dullness on the one hand and frivolity on the other. How far I have succeeded in doing this you must decide, and for that decision I wait with some solicitude.

J. H. H.


Chapter I. Prelimnary
Going to the Bush—The Little Shanty —Serenaded by Wolves—First Pastoral Visit-A Bear Hunt- Our First Schoolhouse-First Sehool—First Religious Service—The Work of John Teetzel—Change of Residence-Back to our Bush Home—My Sister, Rrother and Mother Die—Nearly Trapped—The Stepmother—Teaching School—Married-Class-Leader—Wonderful Escape.

Chapter II. Filling Appointments
How I Filled my First Appointment—How I Got Embarrassed Into the Ministry—Hunting more Work-Into the Mud—Crabbed Old Man—Getting into the Fog-Too many Fishes—A Bear in the Way—Trying to Walk a Pole—Finding a Relative-Losing a Definition—He Would Not Tell—Meeting an Old Acquaintance.

Chapter III. Changing Locations
Our First Move—Stuck in the Mud—Our Second Move—Rain, Flood and Mire-Impassable Roads-Move to Teeswater—Cheap Housekeeping-Back to Listowel-Garafraxa Again—Mount Forest—Invermay- Meaford—Thornbury—Huron District—Kincardine—Streetsville.

Chapter IV. Going to Conference
Brotherly Inquisition—Modes of Travel—Going to Ingersoll—A Fallen Minister—An Ishmaelite—A Blasphemer Silenced—A Man of Note—Bad News heard at Conference.

Chapter V. Camp Meetings
My First Experience of Them—Mono Camp-Meeting—Melville Camp-Meeting In the Pinery—She Wanted the Gaelic Effectual Singing-Meeting at Rock wood-Series of Camp-Meetings—Hanover—A Brotherly Presbyterian—A Happy Dutchman—Wild Talk—The Mark of Cain.

Chapter VI. Revival Meetings
My First Revival—Cotton’s Schoolhouse—John Conn’s House—Esson's Schoolhouse-An Old Sinner Saved-A Whole Family Converted—A Bigoted Young Preacher.

Chapter VII. Revival Meetings Continued
Thornbury as it used to be—Children's Prayer-Meeting—Almost Lost, but Saved MeColman’s Schoolhouse — Kinlough Appointment—My Last Revival—Hard Work—A Wandering Star—A Deaf Reporter—A Broken-down Man.

Chapter VIII. Floods and Bridges
A Risky Drive—A Shaky Bridge—A Big Basin—A Floating Corduroy—An Involuntary Dive.

Chapter IX. Storms and Snowdrifts
A Day of Needless Fears—Over Covered Fences—A Four-mile Drift—Missing the Way—Bad Harness and Saw-logs—Snowdrifts versus Wedding Bells—A Day to be Remembered—Teamsters Badly Beaten—The Will Makes a Way—A Message that Never Was Sent—A Frost-bitten Official.

Chapter X. With the Sick and Dying
He Would Not be so Mean—Almost Fatally Deceived—No Getting Away—She did not Die then—End of a Wild Career—Saved at the Eleventh Hour—A Doctor’s Needless Fears—Fear of Death all Gone—A Mother’s Last Conversation—A Night of Sorrow—A Mistaken Doctor—Deaths by Accident—Died in a Well—Read his own Funeral Text—Choke-damp Killed Them.

Chapter XI. Traces of the Traffic
He Wanted a Fiddler—She did not Know what Ailed the Baby—A Baby-in the Snow—Thirty-six Instances of the Traffic’s Work.

Chapter XII. Fighting the Dragon
Fearful School Trustees—An Ex-Reeve in Trouble—The Same Man Again—They Wanted only Logic—A Mass Meeting—Parliamentary Committee—Officers of the Law—Judges on the English Bench—An English Brewer on the Subject.

Chapter XIII. At Weddings
My First and Only Wedding—My Wife’s Grey Hairs—Three Frightened Ones—In Too Much of a Hurry—He Bought Her a Thimble—A Question of Finance—A Tangled Question—A Strange Bridegroom—A Queer Bridegroom—Manly Hotel-keepers—A Wife for Six Brooms—Matrimonial Blunders.

Chapter XIV. Doctors and Doctoring
A Severe Trial—Surgery—Under Chloroform—Removal to Kincardine— Affliction and Bereavements —Another Breakdown—Removal to Streetsville —More Surgery—Critical Periods—Family Afflictions—Three to Care For—A Dislocated Joint—A Broken Bone.

Chapter XV. Remembered Kindness
A Generous Irishman—Our First Surprise Party—A Thoughtful Friend—A Pleasant Send Off—What No One Expected—Help when Needed—Another Surprise—A Birthday Present—A Reluctant Removal—Owen Sound Conference.

Chapter XVI. Life on the Rail
Conductors—Passengers—Incidents of Travel—A Cranky Old Woman —Medley of Song.

Chapter XVII. Change and Progress
In the Country—In Society—In Education—In the Church—In Domestic Life—Towns, etc.

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