The Soul Winner
The approaching winter admonishes us that many of the poor Highlanders will suffer with cold, unless clad by generous hands, who are able to help them. This is especially true of widows and children, whose name is legion. Many pitiful letters reach us, begging for help, for these barefooted, barebacked “little ones” whom He loves. May we emphasize a few points.
First, send no clothing to Wilmore, [Kentucky];
Second, write to the President or Secretary, at Wilmore, for instructions about where to send the clothing;
Third, don’t send old papers or magazines (we have more than we need);
Fourth, please don’t send worn-out, or soiled clothing, which can not be used. We are ashamed to tell what is sent sometimes. The Master’s little ones deserve better treatment.
Fifth, send clothing suitable for winter, and mostly for women and children;
Sixth, please prepay the charges. We are not able.
Dr. Edward Guerrant
Dr. Guerrant’s detailed instructions reminded donors that shipping wooden barrels filled with clothing was expensive. His method ensured that double shipping charges were avoided.
He received requests from all the Society’s missions, allocated the expected donations, then directed donors to which mission their used clothing should be sent. To further reduce donors’ costs, if applications were made in advance, most railroads charged half price for missionary barrels.
Ebenezer Mission, where John and Leonora Wood served from 1909-12, was one of about fifty missions operated by the Soul Winners Society.
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After hearing John and Leonora reminisce about the missionary barrels Ebenezer had received, their daughter Catherine Marshall blended fact with fiction. This resulted in a series of pivotal events where Christy stepped out in faith and staked Cutter Gap’s future upon God’s amazing promise to supply all the mission’s need according to His riches in glory.
Relying on the Biblical promise, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together,” Christy impulsively wrote appeal letters to businessmen across the United States. They shipped everything from a Lyon and Healy grand piano to boxes of Plymouth Rock gelatin to Cutter Gap Mission, resulting in transportation headaches for David Grantland and storage challenges for his sister, Ida.
While Christy unpacked eleven vests, (coincidentally, the same number of mountain ranges she could see from her bedroom window) the mission staff brainstormed about how to distribute the clothing without violating the mountain code of scorning charity.
David proposed opening a barter store on Saturdays in his bunk house. It proved astonishingly successful. Christy reported, “Every woman wanted a fancy city dress, every man a vest to wear on top of faded and patched overalls.”
You might conclude that David’s idea was a new concept. On the contrary, Ebenezer Mission’s barter store had operated since early 1902, stocked with clothing from missionary barrels.
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While visiting in May 1905 Dr. Guerrant witnessed the success of Ebenezer’s barter store and later mentioned some of its patrons by name. He wrote, “Lovely day at Ebenezer Mission. Trading Day & crowds of Mt. People, (Clicks, Corns) come to buy cheap 2nd hand clothes. . . . The little store room full.”
Both the Click and Corn families were fictionalized in Christy. Census records show that the Marion Click family resided near Ebenezer Mission. Their son, Bernie, died of an epileptic seizure in January 1918. After reading Christy the Clicks concluded that the O’Teale family was modeled after them and disputed Catherine Marshall’s harsh portrayal.
The Corn family would grow to include Opal, born in February 1911. Catherine Marshall relied on Opal’s memories of Ebenezer’s history and the Morgan Gap community while writing Christy. Her family is portrayed as Hugette and Mary Lee in its prologue.