K. C. Ice at McMechen Christian Church, McMechen, WV 1911-1912

In late 1911 Kromer C. Ice, aged 35 and one-half years, began his second stint as pastor at the Christian Church in McMechen, West Virginia. He served McMechen from July 1907 to May 1908, just after graduating from Bethany College as the only student in the Master of Philosophy course, but prior to his marriage to Rosa Birdie Sandidge. By 1911, not only was he married, but they had a toddler. Their son, McGarvey, turned two in October. The Ice’s came back to West Virginia from Powersville, Missouri where KC practiced medicine for a little over one year. Returing to their native West Virginia, they were again close to home and family. What led them to leave is as mysterious as what brought them back.

Kromer kept a skeletal diary of his ministry, recording the amount of his monthly support and the topics, text and titles of sermons preached, and occasional notations of pastoral ministry. Browse the scans and you will see restorations, baptisms and a wedding or funeral or two.  As I sift what sermon manuscripts reamin from his years of ministry I might find matches to the list of sermons below.  Until then his list will perhaps prove helpful in gaining some insight into how, in the life of one preacher at one church, the text shaped a congregation.

He preserved this account, consisting of about a half-dozen smallish ledger book leaves, held tight by a solitary rusted paper clip, in an envelope marked only ‘McMechen Church Acct.’  Though it is all I have of the McMechen years, it is evidently more than exists anywhere about any of the early McMechen years, period.  I post these pages here in hopes that someday someone from McMechen searching for an ancestor might find something.  Knowing what it is to search, I’ll do whatever I can to assist fellow seekers.

As I scrutinize his diary I see one fascinating connection…concerning Mrs. J. W. Seibert and John C. Seibert.  On 14 April 1912 one Mrs. J. W. Seibert was “fellowshiped in the cong.[regation].”  That evening John C. Seibert was “received by confession and baptism.”  The following week presumably the same John C. Seibert was “fellowshiped.”  I find in Preachers of Today, A Book of Brief Biographical Sketches And Pictures of Living Gospel Preachers (Batsell Barrett Baxter and M. Norvel Young, eds.) 1952, on page 311 in the entry for Charles Austin Siburt this note:

Reared in Christian Church.  Family led out of it through personal work of C. D. Plum and debate on Instrumental Music by Foy E. Wallace and Sam P. Jones in Moundsville, W. Va.  This year, had opportunity to preach convictions in First Christian Church in Jackson.”

Siburt provides his place of birth as McMechen, W. Va. and date of birth as 17 January 1914.  Charles Austin was baptized by Edgar Roy Saum in 1926.  In the next volume of Preachers of Today (vol. 2, pp. 400-401) Siburt further indicates his father served as an elder in the Christian Church, but was “converted through debate held by Foy E. Wallace, Jr.”

That Edgar Roy Saum appears twice in the index to Christian Standard indicates to me that in 1926 the Siburt family was still worshipping and serving among the Christian Churches, very likely still in the river town of McMechen, West Virginia.  For this reason I conclude the Siburt ‘conversion’ occurred sometime after 1926.  Charles Austin Siburt does not mention, though, that he was ever ‘re-baptized.’  I suspect then that his ‘conversion’ was limited to changed convictions about the propriety of instrumental music.  Charles Austin Siburt’s son, Charles Austin, Jr. preached for many years and taught at Abilene Christian University.  Though I never met Charles, I find our connection in history fascinating and wish we could have connected before his death.  It appears my great-grandfather baptized his grandparents (?) and I would like to think helped set them on a path of service among the McMechen church long after his (KCI) ministry came to a close.  Through their faith, then, a son and grandson embraced preaching and teaching and through them God only knows how many lives have been touched.  I’m assuming that ‘Seibert’ and ‘Siburt’ are one and the same…I think it is at least plausible, if not probable.

I should like to learn more.  If so, I’ll post it to this blog.

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