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As It Was: Grants Pass Sinners Pay Preacher’s Travel Expenses

In 1886, an elderly Methodist minister in Grants Pass Oregon was moving to a new parish, but the congregation fell $30 short for buying his train ticket.

One of the church elders spoke up melodramatically at a deacons’ meeting, saying, “Of course we cannot expect any assistance from the sinners of Grants Pass.”

Word spread to the community, and school principal H.L. Benson took it personally.  He went to business people, judges and lawyers, and the local press, asking $1 from everyone he met until he had $30.

Benson then went to the parsonage and put the money on the table saying: “Reverend, the sinners of Grants Pass have learned you need $30 to help defray your expenses.  On behalf of the sinners of Grants Pass, I have the honor to present you these 30 big dollars.”

The pastor, moved to tears, replied, “God bless the sinners of Grants Pass.”

The Rogue River Courier reported the incident in a story written by editor W. J. Wimer, who had been one of the first to contribute $1.

Source: Lewis, Raymond. "Jacob and William Wimer." Table Rock Sentinel, June 1986, pp. 6-7.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.