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The trim missionary schooner is seen at the left, with one of her yawl boats
the West Indies
IT was a ship captain that first carried a knowledge of the advent message to the islands of the Caribbean Sea. It happened on this wise:
There was established in New York City in 1883 a branch of the International Tract Society, which made large use of the vessels leaving New York Harbor, as instruments for the circulation of denominational literature. One day William J. Boynton, a member of the staff of workers, asked the captain of a ship bound for British Guiana, if he would be willing to distribute a roll of religious periodicals in that country, and he consented with some degree of reluctance.
Not long thereafter a woman living near the wharf in Georgetown, British Guiana, called on an old man with whom
she was acquainted, and saw lying on the table in his house a copy of the Signs of the Times. When she inquired where it came from, he told her that a few days before a sea captain had stepped ashore, and scattered a bundle of periodicals on the wharf, saying as he did so, "I have fulfilled my promise." The woman took the paper home with her, and presently began to observe the Sabbath. Others read the paper, and joined her in obeying the truths it taught. After some time the same periodical, considerably the worse for wear, was carefully folded up and sent to a sister living in Barbados. Before it was entirely worn out, several persons in that place had been brought to a knowledge of the advent message.
In the case of some of these persons, it should perhaps be said the conviction that the seventh day is the Bible Sabbath dated still farther back. Years ago, when slavery was still prevalent, a pious black mother of Barbados gathered her children around her, and read to them the fourth commandment out of the Bible, saying in substance: " My children, God made the seventh day holy, and it is the Sabbath. Men have changed it, but some day the true Sabbath will be restored. I may not live to see it, but you will."
The children never forgot the words of their mother, and when the copy of the Signs fell into their hands, and they read of a people who kept the seventh day and taught others to keep it, they gladly accepted the truth, saying, "Mother told us so."
It was not long before the new believers entered into correspondence with the International Tract Society in America, with a view to obtaining more literature, and by and by a colporteur proceeded to British Guiana, where during three years he distributed all the literature sent to him. In the Review and Herald of Dec. 2, 1886, he reported the holding of the first Sabbath service in that mission field.
Meanwhile further help for the region of the Caribbean had been provided in Mrs. E. Gauterau, of Honduras, who accepted the message in California, and returned in 1885 to her Central American home, taking with her a large supply of reading matter. This she scattered throughout the Bay Islands and in British Honduras, taking pains also to send the names of many interested persons to the International Tract Society. Letters beginning to come in rapid succession from interested persons in those parts, the General Conference, at its meeting in 1886, decided to send G. G. Rupert on a visit to British Guiana, and T. H. Gibbs to Honduras and the Bay Islands. These men started in January, 1887. Elder Rupert was accompanied by
George A. King, of New York, an experienced canvasser, who took with him a supply of our books. The brethren remained in the field about three months, during which time Mr. King sold not far from $1,000 worth of books. Mr. Gibbs found a good interest in the message in the parts of Central America that he visited. He disposed of a number of books, and found reliable persons to act as distributors of literature.
In 1888 Mrs. A. Roskrug, of the island of Antigua, accepted the message while on a visit to London, England. On returning to her home the following year, she began at once to interest her neighbors in the truth, and in the course of time organized a Sabbath school. The church in Antigua was established by D. E. Wellman, who gave a full quarter of a century's service in this tropical field.
William Arnold made his first canvassing trip to the Caribbean also in the late eighties. He made four other trips, working in almost every English-speaking colony in the West Indies, and placing, all told, about 5,000 books.
D. A. Ball was sent to the West Indies in 1890, and visited most of the islands. He found interested persons in many places, and was able to organize companies of believers in Barbados and Antigua. Failing health obliged him to leave at the end of two years, and again the believers had to wait several years for a minister.
Late in 1893 A. Beans and W. Hackett, two faithful colporteurs, settled in the Barbados, and not only greatly encouraged the company of believers, but began to train a corps of West Indian young men for the canvassing work. Soon several of these were in the field, and doing well.
Spanish and British Honduras
The first ministerial help was provided for Central America in 1891, when Mr. and Mrs. F. J. Hutchins began to pioneer the way along the Central American coast, combining ministerial work, dentistry, and book selling. They found eight adult believers in Ruatán, one of the Bay Islands. Soon there were believers also at Utilla and Bonacca. On the latter island, the progress of the message was so rapid that a church building begun as a union church was completed as a Seventh-day Adventist meeting house, nearly all those connected with the enterprise having by that time embraced the message.
It was soon found that the work could be carried forward more rapidly in these islands if the missionaries had a boat of
their own. Accordingly, the Sabbath schools in the United States took hold of the enterprise in characteristic fashion, and the needed funds were provided. The "Herald," a trim little schooner of thirty-five tons' burden, was built and put into commission, and for several years, with its "storm king" captain, as Elder Hutchins was commonly called, was well known along the coast. In 1900, the means of communication between the islands having improved, the "Herald" was sold, a portion of
THE CHURCH BUILDING AT BONACCA
the proceeds being used to purchase mission property in Bocas del Toro, now in the republic of Panama. A gasoline launch was purchased to operate among the islands around Bocas.
In 1895 the work in Central America was strengthened by the arrival of Elder and Mrs. James A. Morrow, and Frank Mosebar, a colporteur. The school started in 1893 in Bonacca was for a short time in the hands of Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Owen, who later entered upon work in the interior of Spanish Honduras, being succeeded by Mr. and Mrs. William Evans. In 1899 F. Holmden and his family settled in Utilla, one of the Bay Islands, where Winifred Holmden conducted a school which came to have an enrolment of sixty. School work was also undertaken by S. arker Smith and his wife in 1P901 on St. Andrews Island, belonging to Colombia, where Elder Hutchins and Dr. John Eccles, a medical missionary, had pioneered the way. A few years later the work was taken over by Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Stuyvesant, of Missouri,