Submitted by Barbara Blake Goddard

 

***CAMP GROUND MEMORIES***

 

(This article mentions the Gospel Trumpet Publishing House)

 

From "History of Marshall County, WV - 1984" p. 79-80

Article written by Leah Hubbs Fish.

 

 

One of my earliest recollections is that of being taken by my father to the Camp Ground on a hot Saturday afternoon. He had waited all summer to hear a certain noted political orator. There were crowds on the grounds and the Auditorium was decorated with flags and bunting. Dad told me, "I am going to put you on my shoulder so you can see this famous man and I want you to remember it always." When the speaker appeared on the platform the crowd rose with much clapping and cheering. From my high perch I had a good look at him and the sea of excited faces. I don't remember one word he said but I do know that William Jennings Bryan played to a packed house on that summer afternoon - so many years ago.

 

In a few years I was big enough to go to Camp Meetings with my mother. We went by way of the curving road which led from Fostoria Avenue past the cemetery to the Camp Grounds gate. We were treading where Saints had trod and where they had come marching in, literally! I remember asking my mother what those big holes were along the rim of the embankment. She explained that the Saints' Home had once stood there and the holes were the remains of the excavations. These were the Saints who built the big brick Gospel Trumpet Publishing House on Cypress Avenue. I remember that certain houses on Walnut and Oak were designated as Saints' houses. For some reason we children were apprehensive and shied away from these places.

 

When we entered the Camp Ground we were in another world - far removed from our industrial "Boom Ground." Here were trees, birds and flowers, and that good earthy smell found in all deep woods. I had never heard the quotation, "The groves were God's first temples," but in my childish heart I felt that this was so.

 

The Camp Ground was a safe and delightful haven for children. We roamed all over the place and knew every cottage and tree. We explored the hotel, the store, the spring with its rustic covering, the two very primitive big white rest rooms, and the parks. There were three of these - open spaces shaded by fine old trees. The main one ran east an west; at the head stood the Bodley Cottage on Wheeling Avenue, with rows of cottages down each side - rather like a village green. At the eastern end were the pump and the store.

 

Special services were held for children at 1:30 each day. Sometimes they took us to the Temple (or Tabernacle) for these meetings. This was a white building with a steeple which stood at the northern end of Wheeling Avenue, across from the hotel. It always smelled musty and seemed eerie but we liked to go there because we were usually given a treat of candy or cookies. I still don't know why, or when, it was built. Perhaps it pre-dated the Auditorium.

 

On the other side of the Temple was the lake which seemed a sinister place to me. A young woman, a Saint from Oak Avenue, had walked into the lake one night and was drowned. There were two schools of thought about this tragedy: some said sleepwalking - others said suicide.

 

Sundays were the days we enjoyed most of all. Our mothers packed picnic baskets and we spent the day.  Most townspeople had friends in cottages where we could leave our baskets until noon. My mother often went to Mrs. Bryson's cottage - down on "The Point" - the southern tip of Wheeling Avenue. We did a lot of racing on picnic Sundays: to the pump (making sure we go to do our own pumping), to the swings which hung from the trees, to the rest rooms, and to the "High Seat." The Auditorium was built on sloping ground which necessitated two tiers of seats. The lower seats were in front, the higher ones in the rear. The first row of the latter was much higher than the seats in front of it - hence the name "Higher Seat." Lucky were the children who made it in time. Big folks like it, too.

 

There was much good music at Camp Meetings. Rev. Lazenby played the piano and Blanchard Hiatt led the singing. The big choir was made up from the choirs of Moundsville churches and many musicians from Wheeling.

 

Days began with a Sunrise Service at six-thirty led by Mr. Matthews. I did not attend these early services but I well remember Mr. Matthews - the man with the kind face. And I remember Dr. Arbathnot - a sort of "Mr. Camp Meeting." There were many other leaders but these are the ones that I remember best.

 

The climax of the entire meeting came on the last Sunday night - a sort of Grand Finale! The big Auditorium bell rang at seven and again at seven-thirty - last call! The chirping crickets blended with the music and the preaching. (To this day August crickets carry me back.) After the service was over the entire congregation went outside and marched around the Auditorium singing, "We're Marching to Zion." This ceremony was called "Marching Around Jericho" - but the walls never came tumbling down! Whatever the significance, we loved every minute and were sad when time came to leave the Camp Ground. But another summer would come and we could do it all over again.

 

 

Note: This article is accompanied by pictures of: "Campground Hotel";

"Gospel Trumpet Publishing Co. - 1890s";  and "Modern Health Crusade

- 1920s Old Glendale Methodist Church".