Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Perils of Rev. Appleby

Rev. Appleby circa 1890
Photographer: W. H. Stalee 

[Minnesota Historical Society]
From the records left behind, it's clear that life could be difficult in the late 1800's on the frontiers, including here in Minnesota.  Even for pioneers of the Christian churches.  As with any group, there were good and bad 'men of the cloth'.

St. Vincent was fortunate to have one of the good ones.  After working with Ojibwa groups in the region, he was assigned to our parish.

During his time in St. Vincent, there were many practical difficulties he had to contend with...
St. Vincent's Mission, which is in charge of the Rev. H.M.V. Appleby, is the most northern in the United States.  It covers one county in Minnesota, one in Dakota, and has three outside stations involving journeys of thirty-four and forty-six miles respectively.  The difficulties met with by one traversing the region reminds one of the perils of St. Paul.  "Our work is most fatiguing, both in winter and summer;" observes the missionary, "Three times in my experience has my horse sunk through the ice and both myself and he been nearly lost.  At different times I have been lost all night, and once my horse rolled down the embankment at the end of a bridge, plunging us both into the river, though without injury.  Five times I have been nearly lost in open boat and canoe."  
Yet, notwithstanding all this, the personal inconvenience is greatly outweighed by the warm welcome, earnest inquiries after the Truth, and the deep regrets at having been so long deprived of the Church's service.  Two new churches are needed immediately in northern Dakota, pressing debts of $1,300.00 burden the mission in Minnesota, and for all the sum of $3,000.00 is needed by Bishop Whipple and the Rev. Appleby, in order that this important work be not abandoned. - Report on Minnesota, May 29, 1886 [The Churchman, Volume 53]
His impact was felt for years after he left, and is reflected in this article...
The Venerable Archdeacon  Appleby1 assisted at the service, and his well remembered face, and soft English voice, that, for so many years, was, each succeeding Sabbath, listened to from the pulpit, will never be forgotten by his old parishioners.  Here it was that he and his Christian lady reared their interesting family; he knows every one of us, and his worth is known after he has left us. - Excerpt from article concerning Christ Church Harvest Festival, held December 4, 1891 [St. Vincent New Era2]
1 - Thomas Henry Montague Villiers Appleby, Episcopal clergyman, b. in Regent's Park, Eng., Oct 28, 1843; was educated as a physician and priest in England; came to America in 1866; was rector in St. Vincent, Minn., 1881-1888; was appointed archdeacon of Minnesota in 1888, and of North Dakota in 1898; and general superintendent of Indian missions 1900, residing in Duluth...

While serving in St. Vincent's Christ Church, he also served in the capacity of Kittson County probate judge...

2 - William Deacon, who owned and published the St. Vincent New Era until 1913 (after which the DeFrance family took over...), died in 1920 at age 83. Mr. Deacon was many things to St. Vincent, as well as being great grandfather to Margaret "Toots" Ryan, my grandmother's neighbor and good friend - Sources include The Fourth Estate [August 21, 1920]; Ryan Family page [Red River Valley website]