The Church Revealed in the Scriptures, a broadside tract from Ozark Bible College, ca. 1942-1944

Ozark Bible College called Bentonville, Arkansas, home from 1942 to 1944. I suspect KC Ice picked up this broadside on one of his tours. He built his own travel trailer and with his 1933 Willys he pulled it hither and yon from Ohio to Florida to California, and back…more than once. Coming or going from central Ohio to California he no doubt pulled in to Bentonville and set up for the night.  If his stay there was anything like his ca. 1925 visit to David Lipscomb College in Nashville, Tennessee, he camped off to one side of the campus and spent a couple days visiting classes and chapel.  (At Lipscomb they called on him to lead prayer in chapel, which he did).  After spending a few days touring and talking he moved on. This newsprint sheet of slightly squattier dimensions than an 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper was folded and added to a stack of other papers.  He brought it all home to keep and read and store and treasure and file away and reread someday. I keep it in one of my stacks of paper, with many others like it, to read and store and treasure and file away and reread someday.

For a bit more about Ozark Christian College, now located in Joplin, Missouri, click here.

That They May All Be One, That The World May Believe; 1909 Centennial Program

Frontispiece to Program of the International Centennial Celebration and Conventions of the Disciples of Christ (Christian Churches). Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1909.  Kromer Columbus Ice attended some of these proceedings.  His first child, a son, was born 5 October.  In October 1909 the Ice family lived in a duplex on the campus of Bethany College.  KC practiced medicine for Bethany villagers on one side; they lived on the other side of the house.

The full Program is available online, free, here.

The Reynoldsburg Genizah

The 19th century discoveries in the genizah (storage place, preservation) of a Cairo synagogue expanded research vistas in medieval Jewish studies, including the text and tradition of the Hebrew Bible.  Protocol for the disposal of worn-out scrolls and like documents was burial; until then they were stored in the genizah at the synagogue. A close parallel for Christian congregants is the cubby hole under the pulpit or the rooms adjacent to the baptistery or the closet in the church office or any like place that attracts wonderful clutter.  The genizah at Cairo held nearly 300,000 fragments spanning the thousand years from 800-1800. Quite a find.

Upon the death of McGarvey C. Ice in January 1999 my Ice clan cleaned out the farm at 5775 Refugee Road, Columbus, O.  When the Ice’s moved in, in the 1930’s, they were nine miles out from Columbus city limits.  The forty-acre farm was in the village of Brice, which was close to the town of Reynoldsburg, which was close to the city of Columbus.  For the next sixty-five years the city accumulated around them as three generations of stuff accumulated throughout the home and outbuildings.

Great-grandad, K. C. Ice, was a poor doctor.  Well check that, all indications are that he was a good physician, but he never was wealthy.   Born in a log cabin in West Virginia, he put himself through high school and three colleges, medical school included.  He served poor rural farmers in West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and across Ohio.  He also preached some, wrote an occasional letter to the editor, and took the church papers. I know he subscribed to the major periodicals across the Stone-Campbell spectrum: Christian-Evangelist on the left, Octographic Review and Firm Foundation on the right, with Christian Standard, Christian Leader, Word and Work, Restoration Herald and Gospel Advocate in the broad middle…at least I know of these…knowing him there were likely others.   He graduated from Hiram and Bethany Colleges, and sent his children to Christian Normal Institute in Grayson, Ky, to Harding College in Morrilton, Arkansas, and to Freed-Hardeman College in Henderson, Tennessee.  He read Blue and White from Johnson Bible College and occasionally items from Harding College and David Lipscomb College.

Grandad was a college professor.  He taught high school, coached some, worked for the WPA during the war, and even spent a Great Depression summer as a circus clown when teachers were not paid in the summer months. For thirty-three years of his career he taught at Franklin University in downtown Columbus.  By retirement as Head of the Dept of Engineering Drawing, he taught courses in everything from chemistry and physics to engineering drawing and drafting to radio, televsion and even refrigeration.  As scientific and analytical as he was, he was an artist (drawing), sculptor (clay) and musician (coronet and violin).  He also preached some for a small congregation in Reynoldsburg.  And he, too, read the church papers…a few here and there, but always, every time, cover to cover, did he read Christian Standard and Word and Work. He published an occasional article in the Ohio Valley regional paper the Bible Herald.  Frugal, he and Grandma grew vegetables and canned them, repaired what broke, then repaired it again, and, of course, didn’t throw anything away.  At least not anything worth anything and most certainly nary a thing that down the road might have some use sometime, somewhere, for some reason.

All that to say, cleaning out the home was obviously bittersweet.  But what a treasure trove of paper.  Laura and I filled a steamer trunk full of paper from the barn and home.  Sermon manuscripts and outlines, all handwritten by my great-grandfather and grandfather.  Back issues of Christian Standard, Gospel Advocate, Apostolic Times (the one in Nashville) and Firm Foundation.  Shoe boxes of tracts and leaflets.  Pounds of clippings from all of the above.  The mice got to quite a bit of K. C. Ice’s clippings from the church papers.  Of course, they were put out in the loft in the barn.  Not thrown away or buried, not burned, just put aside in the genizah.  I sifted pounds of paper fragments no larger than a nickel or quarter.  Most all of it highly acidic, much of it nearly pulverized upon my touch.  I went through it all and saved all I could possibly reconstruct.  The rest may still sit in that loft for all I know.

My discovery of a cache of Restoration paper in the Reynoldsburg genizah opened new vistas for understanding of my family history.  When Grandad died, and Grandma moved in with an aunt and uncle, I was in my first year of graduate school at Lipscomb.  Just 23 years old.   Over the last dozen years I have sorted, read, re-read, re-read and tried to absorb them.  I knew then that they were special; but their worth grows on me.  In the course of five years’ archival work I corresponded weekly with people who knew nothing, or next to nothing, about their ancestors or their congregation.  I spent my days trying to fill in the gaps for them.  Professionally and personally,  I found it tremendously rewarding.  It broadened and deepened my appreciation of what I have available to me; in a pointed way, helped me realize how fortunate I am to simply have something that belonged to an ancestor.  However, like any collection, it raises some questions as it answers others.  I have a small, dark foggy window into KC Ice’s mind.  I am so thankful for what I have; I am even thankful for the questions, the mysteries, the unknowns.

So, I’d like to scan some of these papers, post them to this blog, and think out loud about them.  It is really an exercise for me to work through my family history. An online platform such as this will make my work accessible to genealogists and other researchers.  It will also make my collection available to my Ice relatives; perhaps it might help them as well.  If you will indulge my forays into the genizah, I will occasionally post items from it to this blog.

Preaching on the Titanic Disaster

By late April 1912 the reality of Titanic’s sinking set in and Kromer C. Ice had time to reflect.  He prepared his thoughts and held forth in the Sunday evening service, April 29, at the Christian Church in McMechen, West Virginia.  McMechen is a river town, tucked between a hilly ridge to the east and the Ohio River on the west, just south of Wheeling.  In April 1912 K. C. Ice was about half-way through his second stint as McMechen’s minister.  He preached there from July 1907 to May 1908; returning in December 1911, he left in July 1912.  I have a few of his manuscript sermons from the second McMechen ministry; I do not have the Titanic sermon. I wonder what went through his mind for two full weeks, 14 to 29 of April, 1912. I wonder what he said.  Preaching to people he knew, trying to speak a word about unspeakable tragedy…I wonder how he wrestled and, after ascending the pulpit stairs, what he said.

McMechen church as it appeared during K. C. Ice’s ministry; an envelope:

Dr. K. C. and Rosa B. Ice, 1908. They were married in November 1908 not long after the conclusion of his first stint preaching at McMechen. By the time of their return in 1911 they had a two year old son, McGarvey.

McGarvey Charles Ice, born 5 October 1909 at Bethany, WV. Age in this photo about 2 years?

Center Point Christian Church

The community that immediately shaped the faith of my Ice ancestors, and in which at least three generations of Ice’s participated, is Center Point Christian Church in Center Point, Doddridge County, West Virginia.  Their involvement in this congregation in the 1850’s and 1860’s is the earliest I can place them, with certainity, in the Stone-Campbell movement. 

The origins of this small congregation are unknown.  Center Point and Doddridge County are basically absent from every indexed Stone-Campbell periodical.  They are meeting in or near the building they now occupy as early as the Civil War.  Isaac Ice’s daughter, aged seven years, died in 1863 and was buried in the church cemetery.  This is not only the earliest date I can place the Ice’s at Center Point Church, it is the earliest I can verify the existence of the congregation.  Isaac, his wife Elizabeth and son Andrew Jackson Ice are buried there.  Andrew’s son Kromer was a member of this congregation for about a year before he went to Hiram College in 1899.  Kromer (K. C.) preached his first sermon at Center Point Church September 6, 1896.  Alex Kuhn, a Bethany College graduate, preached there and baptized Kromer a few months earlier.  The last contact I am aware of which KC Ice had with this church was in 1898-1899.  He returned to West Virginia after he completed the MD at St. Louis College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1903.  I envision him preaching here some while he was a student at Bethany College from 1904-1907 and perhaps again some while he preached at McMechen Christian Church, up near Wheeling, in 1907 and again in 1911.  But I have no proof, only hunches.  If he kept records of any preaching at Center Point other than his first sermon they are likely long gone as no one in the family has them.

The congregation has never been large.  The Wikipedia article for Center Point says it is a “village in the middle of nowhere”…a fact to which I can heartily attest…Laura and I drove to Center Point on our honeymoon in the summer of 1998 (that wasn’t the only destination on our honeymoon).  It is beautiful.  The sort of place I wouldn’t mind retiring to.  The village is rural and remote and the congregation has never had more than about 80 or so members.

Center Point Church is listed in the Yearbooks of the Disciples of Christ from the 1910’s until 1984.  It is listed in the Directory of the Ministry of Christian Churches/Churches of Christ first in 1972 and is still listed there in the 2009 edition with a membership of 75.  In 1984 the congregation decided to discontinue their affiliation with those Christian Churches which became the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Citing dissatisfaction with the Disciples affiliation with the National and World Councils of Churches, Center Point congregation removed their listing from the Yearbook.  To ask to be “removed from the Yearbook” is tantamount to withdrawing from the denomination.  They had been listed dually in both the Directory of the Ministry and the Disciples Yearbook for a dozen years. 

Tracing the history of this congregation has not been easy.  It does not appear in the indices to the Millennial Harbinger, Barton Stone’s Christian Messenger, Walter Scott’s Evangelist, the Christian Record, Missionary Tidings, World Call, Christian Standard or the Christian-Evangelist.  Doddridge County doesn’t appear either…in any of those indices!  Without some kind of notice in the papers it is next to impossible to locate the men who preached there.  As to the origins of the congregation…I’m totally in the dark.  DCHS does not have a congregational file for this church or for the county. 

There was a West Virginia state paper: the West Virginia Christian.  The bad news is that the holdings at DCHS consist of fragments of three issues I contributed from my papyrological inheritance from KC Ice via Grandad (Dr. MC Ice).  Nothing on Center Point.

So, I have no idea when this church started, by whom or under what circumstances…no congregational file, not even the first mention of this congregation in any of the major indexed periodicals of the Stone-Campbell movement, no mention of it in Cramblett’s state history of West Virginia Disciples, and no idea who preached here, for how long, where they came from or where they went when they left.

The only names I have are James P. Freese who preached at Center Point in the middle to later 1970’s.  James was somehow associated with Kentucky Christian College.  Charles B. Guthrie preached there from 1972, when they first were listed in the Directory of the Ministry, until 1975.  Beyond that I am in the dark.

It may be that I can visit Center Point again someday.  More to come.