Last week’s free story “A Christian Endeavor Picnic” ended with this interesting sentence:
When the merry party from the city completed their six weeks’ vacation and went home, they left a Christian Endeavor Society in the quiet seaside village fully organized and Henry Myers and Katrine Hempel are both on the lookout committee.
What, exactly, was a “lookout committee”?
As the name suggests, the Lookout Committee was responsible for bringing new members into a Christian Endeavor Society, but the committee members did so much more!
They were also responsible for educating potential members about their responsibilities. Joining a C.E. society was a major commitment, and it was the members of the Lookout Committee who ensured applicants understood everything membership entailed.
The most important requirement for a member was signing the C. E. covenant, which read:
Trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for strength, I promise Him that I will strive to do whatever He would like to have me do; that I will pray and read the Bible every day; and that, just as far as I know how, I will try to lead a Christian life. I will be present at every meeting of the Society when I can, and will take some part in every meeting.
The Lookout Committee’s job wasn’t over once a new member joined. They called on members who missed even one prayer-meeting to encourage them to honor their commitment. They counseled members who were unfaithful to the covenant, and sometimes they had to make crucial decisions about when and how to drop members from their society.
At times, Lookout Committee members must have had a very difficult job!
But, as Rev. Clark summed it up, it was the Lookout Committee’s duty to keep the society active, earnest, efficient, and spiritually minded. A difficult task? Yes, but he regularly reminded Lookout Committee members that . . .
“You can do it through Him who strengtheneth you.”
Did you know Christian Endeavor Societies had such strict requirements for joining?
What do you think of the pledge new Christian Endeavor members were required to sign?
You can read more about Isabella’s involvement with Christian Endeavor in these previous posts:
This month’s Free Read is a short story Isabella wrote about the Christian Endeavor movement and the opportunities its members had to influence others for Christ.
While on vacation, Dorothea Conklin is determined to invite the local teens to her Christian Endeavor prayer meeting, even if her friends oppose her plan. Somehow she must find a way to convince her friends—and the local teens—that there’s room for everyone at an Endeavor prayer meeting.
Sharp-eyed readers might recognize the name of one of the characters in the story: Eurie Shipley. Why does it sound familiar?
Because Isabella introduced Eurie Harrison and Flossie Shipley in her 1875 novel, Four Girls at Chautauqua.
Perhaps when she wrote “A Christian Endeavor Picnic” in 1896, she meant to imply that Eurie Shipley was somehow a relative of those two beloved characters from twenty years before. What do you think?
You can read “A Christian Endeavor Picnic” for free!
Isabella was very involved in the Christian Endeavor movement and often mentioned the organization in her stores. She strongly believed Christians were called to serve others—even in small ways—as Christ would.
She illustrated the point in “The Spool-Cotton Girl,” a short story she wrote in 1892 about a young girl who labors long and thankless hours in a department store selling the store’s cheapest cotton threads.
Young Marion Wilkes takes her Christian Endeavor pledge very seriously. She always looks for ways to witness for Christ through service to others, even though her job selling cotton threads at the local department store can sometimes test her commitment and her patience.
You can read “The Spool-Cotton Girl” for free!
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As a popular author, Isabella received plenty of publicity and media coverage, and she was probably used to seeing her name in print.
In 1893 her niece, Grace Livingston Hill was just beginning to garner some publicity of her own. A few of Grace’s stories had been published in magazines, including The Pansy, so she was already building a following of loyal readers.
Then, in April 1893, the following article about Grace appeared in a Christian magazine:
THE REVEREND AND MRS. FRANKLIN HILL
Pansy’s niece, Grace Livingston (now Mrs. Franklin Hill) has perhaps almost as warm a corner in the hearts of our readers as their older friend “Pansy,” and therefore we are glad to give the photographs of herself and her husband. Mr. Hill. [He] is pastor of a flourishing church in one of the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—a young man of noble character and fine intellectual gifts.
To quote from a paper giving an account of their recent marriage:
“When two souls such as these, energetic, consecrated, and peculiarly gifted, unite their lives and aims, there is promise of much good work for the Master.”
Doubtless thousands who never saw Grace Livingston’s face, feel acquainted with her, and really are acquainted with her through her writings, for a true author’s true self goes into her works. She has a bright and charming style, which reminds one of that of her aunt, Mrs. Alden (“Pansy”), and of her mother, Mrs. C. L. Livingston, who is often a collaborator with Mrs. Alden.
Mrs. Hill is not an imitator, however, or an echo of anyone else, but has a genuine style and literary character of her own. She is, moreover, much more than a mere writer. The daughter of a Presbyterian Minister, trained from her earliest days to work for the Master, she has thrown herself enthusiastically into His service.
“She has,” writes a friend, “a passion for soul-saving, and will not give up a bad boy when all others do, but pleads with him, and prays, and has patience, and often has the joy of reward, in the changed character of boys who will remember her gratefully through life. She sometimes gathers about her on Sabbath afternoons a group of older boys, and leads them on to discuss Christian evidences and the moral questions of the day, amusements, etc. On these subjects she takes high ground, setting them to search for the opinions of master minds in religious thought, and to learn what Scripture teaches on the themes under discussion. This will go on for months, each of the informal meetings delightful to the boys.”
The work of the Christian Endeavor Society is very near her heart, and she has given much time and strength to it, as her writings prove. Of late she has been especially identified with the Chautauqua Christian Endeavor reading course, whose success in the future will be largely due to her energy. While in Chautauqua during the summer, she spends much of her time in promoting the interests of the Chautauqua Christian Endeavor Society.
How can we end this brief sketch better than by quoting the words of a friend, who says:
“She loves dearly to have her own way, and yet she is one of those rare characters who knows how to yield her will sweetly for peace sake, and so for Christ’s sake.”
What a lovely article! It gives readers hints of the great work (in addition to her writing) that Grace would accomplish in the years to come.
The article appeared only four months after Grace and Thomas Franklin “Frank” Hill were married. After their marriage they both stayed involved in the Christian Endeavor Society. Together they wrote The Christian Endeavor Hour with Light for the Leader, a guide book that contained lessons and Bible verses CE societies could use in conducting their meetings. The book was published in 1896.
Grace’s “passion for soul-saving” flourished, as well. In later years she established a mission Sunday School for immigrant families in her community. It was just one of the many endeavors Grace undertook that resulted in “good work for the Master.”
This month’s Free Read is “Mine,” a novella by Isabella Alden that was first published in an 1895 Christian magazine.
Esther Field’s minister father is scheduled to speak at a Christian Endeavor convention in the big city, and he plans to take Esther with him! It’s a dream come true for Esther, who longs to mingle with young men and women her age who share her vision of leading others to Christ through service. But there is much more in store for Esther than simply a series of meetings; and when she finally returns home after twenty-four hours in the big city, she knows her life will never be the same again.
This month’s Free Read is “Her Opportunity,” a short story Isabella wrote about a young woman who was a member of the Christian Endeavor society.
Miss Emily Mason never passes up an opportunity to do a favor for someone; and if, while doing that favor, she has an opportunity to win a soul for Christ so much the better. But the latest recipient of Emily’s kindness may not be worthy of her efforts—at least, that’s what Emily’s friends say. How can Emily ever hope to know if the testimony she shared made a difference in the young woman’s life?
Isabella Alden was deeply involved in the Christian Endeavor movement that took root in America and swept around the world in the late 1800s. She regularly contributed to the Christian Endeavor newspaper; and she wrote about Christian Endeavor in of her novels Chrissy’s Endeavor, Her AssociateMembers, and others.
Isabella’s family was involved in Christian Endeavor, as well. Her niece, Grace Livingston Hill, served as president of a Christian Endeavor chapter. One of Grace’s early novellas was a Christian Endeavor story called “The Parkerstown Delegate;” and with her husband Grace published a guide for Christian Endeavor leaders that was widely used by C. E. chapters.
The Christian Endeavor Society held regular annual conventions in the U.S. that were very well attended by people from all over the country; but in 1896 the society held an international convention in Washington D.C. Thousands of Christians of all ages, nationalities, and denominations, descended upon the U.S. Capitol for five days of non-stop meetings, worship services, training classes, and Bible studies.
Isabella knew Washington, D.C. very well. She and her family lived there for three years when her husband served as assistant pastor of The Eastern Presbyterian Church, located just blocks from the Capitol building (read about her D.C. home here). In early 1896 the Aldens moved to New Jersey, just a short train ride away from Washington; so it’s entirely possible the Aldens attended all or part of the international convention that year.
The convention opened on Thursday, July 9 and ended the following Monday. Convention attendees were given a schedule of events and a map to help them travel from venue to venue, most commonly by foot.
Attendees braved the heat, the humidity, and the stifling crowds of fellow Endeavorers that thronged the mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol building.
On The Ellipse, located between The White House and the Washington Monument, enormous tents were erected where meetings and lectures were held.
Each tent was designed to hold hundreds of people, but some evening gatherings drew enormous crowds. At times there were so many people, and the interiors of the tents became so hot, the tent sides had to be raised to allow fresh air to circulate.
But of all the activities that took place over the five-day convention, there was one event that stood out and was talked about for months afterward.
On Saturday evening, July 9, a patriotic service was planned to take place on the east front of the Capitol Building.
The service was described as “a great song service” of patriotic songs and hymns led by a chorus of four thousand voices.
A photographer captured this image of the chorus assembling on the steps of the Capitol:
One newspaper enthusiastically wrote that the patriotic service was “grand music to listen to, and something to remember.”
At the conclusion of the service, the chorus, the Marine band, and the audience left the Capitol steps to march down the National Mall to the Ellipse, where they gathered at Tent Endeavor.
The song service was a tremendous success! While there was no official count, attendees believed there were just as many singers among the audience as there were on the Capitol steps.
If that’s true, there were over eight thousand people at the service, all raising their voices together in songs of praise!
What do you think it was like to sing hymns with thousands of other people?
Have you ever participated in an outdoor sing-a-long where your voices could be heard for blocks?
The Chautauqua Christian Endeavour Society should not be forgotten as a helpful influence in bringing not only the young, but all classes of people together, and making them acquainted. This society not only includes all members of the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavour who visit at Chautauqua, but also members of any denominational societies doing similar work.
Here, in the white-pillared Hall of Philosophy, they meet for an hour just at early evening, every week, and hold their prayer-meeting; and the voice of prayer and song or words of cheer, of comfort, of consecration, come from many. One other hour each week is also given to a conference, where the members compare notes on the best ways of working in various lines.
Last summer the plan was enlarged and a Working Committee formed. The grounds were divided into districts, and each Member of the Executive Committee became responsible for the work in one district; putting a topic card and notices in every cottage on the grounds, and giving to all strangers invitations to Meetings and Socials of the Society. Much good work was accomplished, and many strange young people made to feel at home.
There was also a room used as Headquarters, where were books and other literature relative to young people’s Christian work, and where could be found stationery and a quiet place to write or read. The registry book showed that a goodly number of young people availed themselves of this privilege.
This Society held an Autograph Social during the season in the parlours of the hotel, which was a great success.
Here and there you might have seen some favourite professor backed up against the wall with a double semicircle of his devoted students about him, eagerly holding their cards up, and he writing as if for dear life. But it was everywhere noticeable with what heartiness each one entered into the spirit of the hour, and demanded a name on his own card in return for every one he gave.
From this gathering it was difficult to send the people home, even after the solemn night-bell had rung; and the small boy who collected the pencils was very sleepy when the last couples left the parlour, smiling and chatting of the pleasant evening spent.
And the chimes make a beautiful ending to a day at Chautauqua. Whether you are wandering by the lake shore, or through the lovely avenues, it matters not; they are sweet. Sweeter, perhaps, just a little, as they ring out over the water, calling you in from a moonlight row or yacht ride. “Bonnie Doon,” “Blue Bells of Scotland,” “Robin Adair,” “Long, Long Ago,” all the old airs, and by-and-bye growing more serious— “Softly Now the Light of Day,” “Silently the Shades of Evening,” “Glory to Thee, my God, this Night,” and the “Vesper” hymn for good-night.
In 1894, when Grace wrote this article, collecting autographs was a popular way to preserve memories of an event. It wasn’t until 1900 when Kodak introduced their Brownie box camera that the average American could commemorate travels, celebrations, and other events with photos they took themselves.
Did you enjoy this tour of Chautauqua through Grace’s eyes?
Hopefully, her words gave you a sense of what it must have been like to visit Chautauqua 127 years ago!
The Reverend Francis E. Clark, president of the World Christian Endeavor Union, said of Isabella Alden:
“Probably no writer of stories for young people has been so popular or had so wide an audience as Mrs. G. R. Alden, whose pen-name, Pansy, is known wherever English books are read.”
Indeed, Isabella enjoyed world-wide fame as an author. By the year 1900 she was selling over 100,000 books a year.
So it’s a little mystifying to see that in 1914, when she chose a new publishing house—M.A. Donohue & Company in Chicago—to publish Tony Keating’s Surprises, the publisher had so little knowledge of who she was, they spelled her name wrong on the book’s cover!
Luckily, that single error doesn’t detract from the pleasure of reading Isabella’s novella, Tony Keating’s Surprises. Here’s a brief description of the story:
For as long as Tony Keating could remember, people have been telling him he was bad, so it was little wonder he came to believe he was just so.
Over the years, Tony has become quite adept at living up to his reputation, by springing tricks and surprises on his parents, his sister, his teachers, and anyone else who happens to cross his path. Why, the entire town believes Tony Keating will come to no good.
Everyone, that is, except Lorena Stanfield. Being new in town, Lorena doesn’t know about Tony’s reputation as the town scamp. With her fresh perspective Lorena sees Tony’s potential for good. But will her gentle influence be enough to transform Tony’s life?
In additional to writing novels, Isabella Alden wrote articles and short stories for many different publications.
Her stories and articles were so popular she found herself in a unique position for a writer: She never had to submit her work for publication.
Instead, publishers went to her. Elias Riggs Monfort, the long-time editor of The Herald and Presbyter (a weekly Presbyterian newspaper), gave her a lifetime contract to publish any serials she wrote.
Mr. Montfort was such a fan of Isabella’s, he wrote to his friend, Daniel Lothrop, full of praises about Isabella and her stories.
Daniel Lothrop was the owner of D. Lothrop & Company, a Boston publishing house that specialized in books for young people.
Daniel Lothrop had been a great reader from his childhood; while he was still a boy himself he developed an ambition to publish books specifically written for children—a novel idea at the time. Even more radical: he believed the books should be beautifully illustrated to serve the story and keep children’s attention.
But he persisted, believing that it was possible to publish children’s books that were not only entertaining, but encouraged “true, steadfast growth in right living.”
He often said to the people in his employ: “I publish books to do good as well as to make money. I always ask first, ‘Will this book help the young people?’ rather than ‘How much money is there in it?’”
His long partnership with Isabella began around 1874. After Elias Monfort sang Isabella’s praises to him, Daniel Lothrop invited Isabella to contribute stories to be published in a small weekly Sunday School newspaper he published.
By 1877 that short weekly paper had grown considerably in size and content—and Isabella was its editor!
Called The Pansy, each issue was filled with inspiring stories, delightful illustrations, short poems, and descriptions of exotic and far-away places to spark children’s imaginations.
Isabella wrote a short story for each issue, and other members of her family did, too, including her husband, her sister Marcia, niece Grace Livingston, and later, once he was old enough, her son Raymond.
Another frequent contributor was Daniel Lothrop’s wife Harriett, who wrote under the pen name “Margaret Sidney.”
Isabella wrote that Mr. Lothrop always had “a very warm place in his great warm heart” for The Pansy magazine.
Not only was he fertile in suggestions calculated to make it better, but he was ready always to heartily second the suggestions of others, and to aid in carrying them out.
The Pansy Society in particular was very dear to him. He was interested in everything about the Society, from the content of the letters children wrote to the magazine, to the design of the badges that Isabella sent to Pansy Society members. Isabella said:
“It would be difficult—impossible, indeed—to tell you in how many ways he helped along the cause of truth and right in the world.”
Another common interest Isabella and Lothrop shared was the Christian Endeavor Society. From the early days of the Society, Daniel Lothrop saw an opportunity to use his publishing company to further the Society’s message. He recruited authors to write books of interest to Christian Endeavor members. Margaret Sidney, Faye Huntington, and Grace Livingston were among those who answered the call.
Isabella’s novels, Chrissy’s Endeavor and Her Associate Members were written and published especially for C.E. members.
Isabella’s long partnership with Daniel Lothrop lasted almost twenty years. It ended when he passed away in 1892.
Isabella was heartbroken. In her memoirs she wrote:
“Mr. Lothrop was my true, strong, faithful friend all his life.”
She gently told readers in an issue of The Pansy about the passing of “our friend who loved us, and worked for us and with us.”
It’s impossible to know how many lives were influenced for good by Isabella’s partnership with Daniel Lothrop. Her books alone sold more than 100,000 copies a year, and The Pansy magazine had thousands of subscribers all around the world.
They had formed a perfect partnership. Both Isabella and Daniel Lothrop must have been proud of their accomplishments and the knowledge that they always produced books and stories that were consistently wholesome, pure, and elevating.
You can learn more about The Pansy magazine, The Christian Endeavor Society, and The Pansy Society by reading these previous posts: