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- Letter From Rev. H. M. Turner: August 31, 1867
Christian Recorder: August 31, 1867
Mr. Editor: -- Having been depressed with so many cares, responsibilities, and anxieties exclusive of my constant labors, which ever and anon are exhausting the functions of my vital system, two-fold more than when I was a chaplain in the United States Army, I thought I would leave those engrossing cares awhile, and retire to the silent shades and the energizing streams of the Indian Springs. Here I hope a week’s rest, accompanied with that physical recuperation for which this place is celebrated, will prepare me to trudge through this Conference year, if God should be pleased to sanction my labors and grant my desires. For I wish it to be understood, that when this year expires, I shall claim the right to rest. I propose, then, to go into retirement until I, by God’s permission, can raise my children.
I have been away from my family so long, roaming over hills and through the valleys of this country; first in search of the free intellectual elevation, that my four little children at home, whom I have not seen more than once a year, can barely recognize me, much less know a father’s love, or feel a father’s wrath. Besides, my encounters, cares, labors, travels, night studies (for I seldom have any time during the day) and such other burdens as are natural to my sphere of labor, have made my head as gray as thirty-four years, as my family of people generally are at fifty-four years; all of which have been purchased within the last few years; and without naming a score of other things, I will simply remark: should I live to see next March, I propose to present to Bishop Wayman one of the finest Conferences in the A. M. E. Church, composed of Georgia ministers. I know the look of disdain or the smile of contempt and doubt will curl on the face of several when they read this; but mark the phrase, and look out you Sampsonian heroes, Herculean Cain, with his South Carolina chargers, will thunder in Columbia. The sound will be heard in Mason, and we will hurl back the echo, unscathed, undisputed.
Then, having seen thy salvation, O Lord, I hope to retire in peace in the comfortable shades of my family circle, and to the more limited responsibilities of the pastoral work.
Indian Springs is quite a place at this time. Scores of persons are here from all parts of the country, and everything looks enlivening. Persons afflicted with every imaginable disease, are here hunting life’s restoring virtues.
The waters are pronounced to be healing to every kind of an invalid, with the exception of the consumptive. It first makes a person feel sleep and painful, then hungry and active, then fat and healthy. The waters gush out of an immense rock, through which nature’s sugar appears to have bored a hole about the size of the little finger of an ordinary man. They smell at first of rotten eggs, and taste similar to their smell, and are not generally liked at first. But in a short time it is impossible to get enough. I drank a great deal this morning, but it seemed impossible to satiate my thirst. One might drink all day, and still remain unsatisfied, the water not being on an injurious nature.
There is considerable enjoyment here for the whites, and they make grand use of it; but unfortunately it is in the way of balls, card playing, and such other amusements as are sinful in their nature and damning in their ends. O! when will our public resorts be sanctified to God’s glory, and the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom?
The colored people, too, have a small, neat hotel, which is well conducted and decently furnished, kept by Messers Patterson Drake and Nicholas Gouden, formerly of Mason, Georgia. They allow no balls in their house, while any religious persons are stopping there. They, of course, differ from the whites in this respect, as I learn they (the whites) have no regard for their ministers, so far as any aversion to balls are concerned.
Yesterday (Sabbath) there was a large meeting several miles in the country, and early in the morning a nice comfortable vehicle was driven up to the door, and I was requested to go. I declined the offer, alleging as a reason that I came here sick and wanted rest and recuperation; but despite my every remonstrance, I could not get the man, horse nor carriage to leave, until I left with it.
Finding it impossible to drive them away, by the constant hurl of argumentative missiles, I surrendered, and was carried captive for a number of miles, before I reached the place of destination, -- here some 15,000 persons of all colors, sorts, sizes and denominations thronged the woods, and ere I had time to alight from the carriage, a large, fat, massive looking white man stepped up and asked me if I were Bro. Turner; I informed him that I was. “Well,” said he, “you are a pretty big Turner, I learn; but my name is Turner, too, and I am a bigger Turner than you, and a preacher, too, but you must preach for us to-day.” Here commenced another contention about my preaching, but I had to succumb. I held forth to them an hour and a quarter, and great was the shout in the camp of Israel. The scene on the occasion beggars description; I therefore will say no more about it, except that white and colored people appeared to forget their physical differences.
At night I tried to speak at the Springs to a large promiscuous crowd; and to-morrow is set apart for a great mass meeting, when I am to speak to the citizens of two counties. Some of the whites, I learn, are very much excited at my contemplated address to the citizens of this section of the country; but if they will wait, with time and patience, I think they will not find it so unordinary as they are apprehensive of.
There is a vast amount of ignorance here among all classes, relative to the state of the country. I have been utterly astonished to hear intelligent looking white men evince such little acquaintance with American institutions. And, of course, the colored portion occupies a grade below, corresponding with their condition hitherto. But I thank God that all parties are to be elevated through the ordeal we are passing. Reconstruction on the congressional plan is inevitable in this State. There are thousands of whites favorable to it. They say nothing at all, but will vote for it when the time comes. The great bulk of opposition comes from the disfranchised. But I cannot believe that a majority of the whites are going to vote to keep up civil commotion and political strife, which would follow opposition to reconstruction.