Billy’s Memoir about Jess — Part Six

Near the end of CHAPTER THREE, Billy describes how Jess became restless [after coming back from California], which ultimately resulted in the family moving to eastern Oklahoma, a short distance from Sallisaw.

“By and by, Jessie got a yearning for a bigger church. Folks around Petit Jean Bend were getting tired of ‘hellfire and brimstone’ preaching. Jess had used up his usefulness for Christ in the area and it was time to lease another farm and start again.” (27)

“So Jessie took five kids and his wife and moved to Oklahoma to a place called Tucker Bottoms. Along with that Jessie had the sweetest ’28 Chevy in any county. The only trouble the old car had was a weakness for breaking axles. Jessie had no idea the gumbo-like mud in Tucker Bottoms would stick to his old car. However, he soon learned that a Sunday suit and a rainstorm around Tucker Bottoms did not mix; boots and overalls were the style. Jessie liked this, along with his ‘day work’ tobacco, and yellow catfish. Therefore, from Tucker Bottoms in Oklahoma, he settled down to a long stay on his first big assignment from the Lord.” (27)

This part of the story continues in CHAPTER FOUR . . .

“Jessie liked the jackrabbit hunting in and around Tucker Bottoms; however his biggest hunting was with the farmers who were too busy to engage with the work of the Lord at the Tucker Baptist Church.” (27)

“Therefore, Jessie divided his time between the yellow catfish and jackrabbits and the farmers. This being his first big church for the Lord, Jessie decided to put his mule away and live off the ‘good of the land.’ Yet with five kids and a wife, Jessie found this hard to come by, so he helped the neighbors put up silo and harvest cotton from the bottoms.” (27)

“The church was not progressing like Jessie thought it should and he had no patience with unconcerned Baptists. Jessie expected his church to increase like a farm to produce, but this was not the case at Tucker. They were seasoned to hard preaching, and the more Jessie poured out his heart in preaching, the more hard-hearted they became.” (27)

“So Jessie walked the fields at night and wondered, pondered, and prayed. Finally, he decided it was time for an old-fashioned revival. With the help of a preacher friend [Elmer Polston], they went after those mud farmers in spite of the rain and mud. Jessie was determined to grow a church for Christ.” (27)

“After the revival, Jessie found a pond nearby and those who wanted to be members of the church were baptized in this pond; one of those being Jessie’s child” [Betty] (28)

“But by and by, Jessie became discouraged because he felt that his work for the Lord was not satisfactory, and he was in great financial need. Therefore he resigned and quit preaching and moved back to Petit Jean – as far back in the hills as he could get to a community called Tate. it was here that he decided that he was no good as a preacher. He bought a mule, leased a broken down farm and again, fought for survival for his family.” (28)

“His disease (diabetes) as well as his financial struggle for his family caused Jessie to rebel against the Lord. he again went through a troublesome period, but through this the Lord continued to care for Jessie. But Jessie was stubborn. He walked the hills to pray and searched the mountain streams for nature’s answers to his earthly problems. He knew life was short on earth for him, and his impatience with mankind had halted his work for the Lord.” (28)

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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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