Mr. World and Miss Church Member: Katherine Sommer’s edition

A sub-set of my interest in RM bibliography is propaganda novels.  I admit it is down the list of my interests, but the whole genre is terrifically obscure…therefore the attraction.  Speaking of obscure, should any double-major in English and Theology feel up for the task, I think there is a thesis or dissertation here somewhere.  The basic plot line follows the honest truth-seeker who eventually finds enlightenment and along with it…if not coterminous to it…the essence of the ‘Restoration Plea’ (or some sort of moral lesson).  Clad in novel form, such documents advance Restoration principles before the reading public in a manner distinct from, but in content similar to, formal debates, doctrinal monographs or theological treatises.  The argument comes through the agonist’s experience: as the character finds her way, so too can the reader.  I’m working on a short list of RM propaganda novels, to be posted to this site on the 27th.

Mr. World and Miss Church Member is an interesting variation on this theme.  One, it is an allegory, and two, W. S. Harris has no Stone-Campbell ties.  William Shuler Harris appears to have been quite the character, and modestly prolific at that, as this entry on TomFolio details.  Henry Hain, the entry’s author, knows of three editions of Mr. World and Miss Church Member; this one, published by Katherine Way Sommer, is a new one for the list (hers is a printing of the 1902 Holzaphel 3rd edition).  If you’d like your own copy, go here to   So why all this for an allegory whose author appears to have no Stone-Campbell connection?  The Sommer family published an edition of it.  Katherine Way Sommer, known to her readers as K. W. Sommer, published a major periodical voice among Churches of Christ in its day, Octographic Review, edited by her husband Daniel Sommer.  The Sommer family not only published but authored a propaganda novel or two themselves.  K. C. Ice more often than not inscribed his books with a signature and date of acquisition.  Alas, in this one he did not follow custom.  Included is a fly-away clipping from the 19 May 1903 Octographic Review containing praise for Mr. World by one John Harris from Indian Territory.

Mr. World and Miss Church-member front cover

Mr. World and Miss Church Member, K. W. Sommer edition title page

Mr. World and Miss Church Member, OR May 19, 1903 clipping 1

Mr. World and Miss Church Member, OR May 19, 1903 clipping 2

Mr. World and Miss Church Member, OR May 19, 1903 clipping 2 reverse

The Millenium and the Second Coming of Christ, A Tract by Ira C. Moore

Ira C. Moore, The Millenium and the Second Coming of Christ, undated tract, about 8.5 x 14 in. folded once; perhaps printed by F. L. Rowe in Cincinnati.  K. C. Ice tucked it into an envelope sometime after 9 November 1936, in which envelope it still resides.  I assume the typewritten notation at the top of the first page from Moore is to K. C. Ice; I further assume Moore’s forthcoming article was to appear in the pages of Rowe’s Christian Leader, of which Moore was an editor from 1910 until his death in 1938 (inclusive of his editorship of the Christian Leader and The Way).

Moore, Millennium 1

Moore, Millennium 2

Moore, Millennium 3

Moore, Millennium 4

Moore, Millennium, envelope

Christian Baptism: A Tract by Isaac Walton Lowman

Four-page, a single sheet folded once, tract entitled “Christian Baptism” by I. W. Lowman.  Undated.

I see from the Christian Standard index that Isaac Walton Lowman died in about June or July 1924.  One G. Lowman, his child I presume, authored an obituary published in the 19 July 1924 issue of CS at page 1067.  Isaac authored 52 obituaries for the pages of Christian Standard from October 1895 through December 1915.  CS published one notice of his, of some kind, in 1909.  Another about an evangelistic meeting is titled in the index as “Loogootee (Ind.) meeting (from the minister). 1911  1 Ap:542.”  Loogootee, Indiana is a new one to me…with a name like that I would surely remember it.  Perhaps some Hoosier can comment about Loogootee?

Isaac appears, barely, in Christian-Evangelist.  In 1905 he authors “Impression of city campaigns by workers engaged” (page 274) and in 1911 there appears “Our budget” on page 1458.  The latter includes a portrait!

Both Christian Standard and Christian-Evangelist carry obituaries of Ellen Frances (Kutzner) Lowman, deceased 1911.

I’ve scoured neither Google nor other print sources for Isaac.  I welcome information, though.  At present it appears he had an active ministry of some twenty years’ duration, some of it in Loogootee Indiana.  Apparently he died after about a ten-year retirement.  Where, if anywhere, he matriculated for ministerial preparation remains unknown.  What other, if any, publications from his pen saw it through a press remains unknown.  Details of the publishing of this tract remain unknown.  For all I know Isaac had it worked up by a job printer and used it in that 1911 “city campaign.”  How Kromer Columbus Ice got his hands on it, and why he kept it, well…who knows?  But he did, and here it is:

Which Church Did Christ Build?: A Tract by John T. Hinds

While I’m thinking about McMechen, I thought I’d post this tract by John T. Hinds.   I think it a fair assumption, based on his post-script, that the handwriting on the envelope (the inked address) is Hinds’.  K. C. Ice’s hand pencilled the tract’s title on the end of the envelope, as was his preference, for his system of storage and retreival (whatever that was and however it worked for him).  If I’m right then this tract pre-dates 1912, as do the other leaflets Hinds mentions in the postscript.

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.

Ice Family Portrait, ca. 1915

Kromer Columbus Ice holding daughter Areta (b. 1914); Rosa Birdie Sandige Ice holding son McGarvey (b. 1909).  About two year after this photo was taken Rosa and the children lived in Shreve, Ohio while First Lieutenant KC Ice tried in vain to save soldiers from epidemic flu in stateside base hospitals.  At times he had one orderly to assist.  Her raven hair turned white from worrying about him.  Overseas orders in hand, he was waiting in Maryland for the next departing ship when the truce was signed ending the war.  He resumed his medical practice in small town Jerry City, then Bladensburg, Ohio.

Pioneers in the Great Religious Reformation of the Nineteenth Century, an engraving from about 1907

I can’t decipher the first two-thirds of this wording at the bottom, but I can make out what appears to be ‘CHRISTIAN-EVANGELIST JANUARY 17, 1907.’  Great-grandad saved several of the full-color covers from Christian Standard (which paper occasionally had special covers for special numbers…I’ll try to photograph them and post here sometime) so it seems only natural he clipped and framed a cover for Christian-Evangelist from 1907, or 1897.  I no longer have access to bound volumes or loose issues of C-E, so cannot verify this.  In any case, here it is, copy, save and print it out.  Frame it, put it in your study.  Enjoy!

Christian Leader and The Way, 30 January 1912

In January 1912 KC Ice was Minister at First Christian Church, McMechen, West Virginia. McMechen is on the Ohio River a few miles downriver from Wheeling. See this from April 2012.  I don’t know why this page sparked his interest…well, it was either Charles Neal’s illustrated lesson or the front page article on Christian Science.  I’ll go with Chas. Neal, but who knows.  Who knows what happened the rest of this issue, or the rest of the year’s worth of issues?  Tolle lege!

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.