Billy’s Memoir about Jess — Part Seven

The last section of the memoir describes what happened after Jess and Millie returned to Arkansas following the brief [sixteen month] stay in eastern Oklahoma.

“Finally Jessie settled down on Petit Jean River in a community called Pilot View. He had many opportunities to serve the Lord, but he still felt unworthy in the eyes of the Lord. To aid in support of his farm Jessie hauled ice from Booneville and churned milk for a living.”(28)

“It was a long five years for Jessie, but his health improved and he was aging, but much wiser for the five years the Lord had schooled him for seven more years of service in rural churches.” (28)

“Jessie knew the Bible by heart. This was good because in the years ahead he would have to preach from memory – the blood vessels in his brain had hardened due to his disease. . . So Jessie walked at night in the quiet of nature and fished on Petit Jean River until one day the Lord say, “Jessie, you are usable, go to work for the Lord again.” (28)

“A Sunday School started at Pilot View for the first time in several years, and Jessie was there to help.” (28)

“It was that this point that I became the bread earner. . . .” [see comments below for the rest of Billy’s interjection about his relationship with his father.]


“In the early 1950s,” Jess “was called once again to do the work of the Lord. This time [he served congregation of] the Hon Baptist Church near Waldron, Arkansas. This was a difficult time because of his illness – he had to preach almost entirely from his memory of Scripture.” (28)

“During these final seven years of his life, it was just he and his wife, Millie, as all six children had left home for lives of their own. Millie, being an Indian, knew how to live with a dying man, one who God would not give up to death until his service here on earth was ended.” (28)

“Once again (for the fifth time) Jessie entered the ‘gentle life’ as a pastor of a rural church. he spent these last five years living each day as it came. As he fished and prayed, new physical strength would always come. He spent much of his time pastoring the people of Hon Baptist Church. His life would soon be over and he had a driving desire to see his church grow.” (29)

“As his physical health became worse, his mind would at times be overcome with light strokes, leaving him bland in thought. However, he did succeed in his search to become a good rural minister; this was the ‘gentle life’ he had search for so long. (29)

“Finally, his health pulled him down and Jessie retreated to the river, Petit Jean, and to nature to cure his failing memory. He lived in illness a little long, but then one night as his second daughter, Dorothy, was home on a visit, Jessie quietly s lipped out into eternity. .. . God took him home.” (29)

Billy concludes his memoir about his father with these words: “. .. I am sure in the minds of his children, Jessie will always be remembered as one who was rather stern and quiet. He was also one who spoke with authority to all who would listen. Jessie now rests in the great gentle life of which there is no end!” (29)

The article concludes with a photograph of Jess and Millie [which I will try to locate in a form that can be scanned] and a listing of their grandparents in a partial genealogy.
“Pictured below are Rev. Jesse and Millie Cartwright.” [I find it curious that Jess’s name is spelled correctly in this instance.  This may be the result of this information being inserted by the editor of the Scott County Historical and Genealogical Journal]

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About mcartwright1957

I am a member of the senior administrative team at the University of Indianapolis where I have served since 1996. I am married to Mary Wilder Cartwright. We are the parents of four children: Hannah, Erin, James, and Bethany. I currently live in Nashville, IN.
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1 Response to Billy’s Memoir about Jess — Part Seven

  1. Michael G. Cartwright says:

    Here is the material that I left out from this part of Billy’s memoir about Jess:

    “It was at this point that I became the bread earner. I am the fourth child of a family of six children. My name is Bill. No one really knew Jess as I came to know him — more than a father. I knew him as a brother, a man — a dying man. At the early age of 14 I made the living because Jessie was ill. His health was so critical that life seemed hopeless to him; however he was not through for his life would once again enter the ‘gentle life.’ After two years of rest, Jessie was give his last mile of endurance to the ‘gentle life.'”

    As per Aunt Dorothy’s comment in response to the first part of the memoir, this passage demonstrates both the extraordinary way that Daddy identified with Jess as well as the ways his identification probably was affected (at least to some degree) by his midlife struggles with mental illness.


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