John W. Blaisdell

Rev. John W. Blaisdell, click to enlarge

 

One finds such an embarrassment of rich material in preparing for print the life record of John W. Blaisdell that it is difficult to make selection. He was born at Gifford, N. H., March 17, 1837, the son of Thomas J. and Anna P. Blaisdell. Of his parents, in the out line of his life written for Fradenburgh’s “History of the Erie Conference,” he says: “My father, always a man of sound judgment and marked integrity, was not converted until middle life. My mother was one of the kindest and wisest women I have ever known. I can not remember when she was not a Christian.” His grandfather, the Rev. William Blaisdell who for more than forty years was a prominent minister in the Free Will Baptist Church, was repeatedly re elected to the New Hampshire legislature. His education, so far as it relates to school attendance, was largely acquired in a seminary owned and conducted by the Rev. Hosea Quimby, of the Free Will Baptist Church. While making preparation to further pursue his studies a tempting offer to accept a clerkship with the Brady’s Bend Iron Company came to him, which he accepted. As a result he never completed a college course. After a year with the Iron Company he opened a private school in Brady’s Bend, which was very successful; and then for one year was principal of the public schools of that place. This was followed by his removal to Oil City, where he became a member of the real estate firm of Gordon, Blaisdell & Co. The religious nurture he had received in a godly home, reinforced by the training imparted at the high-grade Christian school he attended bore fruit in his conversion at the Cherry Run camp-meeting after listening to a sermon by the Rev. Thomas Graham from the text “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” So eager was he to obtain the witness that he was a child of God that he was not aware when the service was closed. The Rev. E. H. Yingling took him to his father’s tent, and left him there to his own reflections. The following dialogue he held with himself: “Is it necessary for me to wait until this evening to go to that altar to be converted?” “No.” “Is the Lord able to save me ?“ “Yes.” “Is he ready to save me now?” “Yes.” “If he is ready to save me now and I want to be saved now, why should I not be saved now?“ “Why not, sure.” Then God spake to him as clearly as though it had been an audible voice. “Will you preach?“ “Yes, Lord, anything, only remove this burden from my soul.” In a moment the load was gone, and the clearest evidence was bestowed that God for Christ’s sake had spoken peace to his soul. He was soon licensed as a local preacher. He presently found the he must give himself absolutely and exclusively to the work of the gospel ministry, which he did by becoming a member on trial of the Erie Conference in 1868. In 1867. while a local preacher, Bishop James ordained him deacon, and in 1872. Bishop Merrill ordained him elder. The appointments he served were as follows: Salem, one year; Townville, three years; Millvillage, three years; New Castle, Second Church, three years; Sharon, two years; New Castle District, four years; Greenville, three years; Titusville, two years; Brookville, five years; Punxsutawney, one year; Borden-town (N. J.) Female College, as President, three years; Mayville, four years; Brockwayville, six years; New Bethlehem, where he closed his early course, three years and six months. On all the pastoral charges he filled he met with victory. There was not one which he did not lift to a higher plane of spiritual achievement. On the charge, which to some might seem an exception he inaugurated a wholesome spiritual condition and a loyalty to the discipline of the church which since has ever been manifest. As a presiding elder he was tactful and watchful of every interest relating to that office.

He showed fine judgment in the adjustment of men to charges. A throat difficulty led him, on the advice of expert physicians, to take charge of the Female College, at Bordentown, N. J., three years. The school advanced during his administration but as soon as his health would permit he returned to the pastorate the field in which he delighted. His entire aim in preaching was immediate results, and he secured them. On every charge souls were saved and believers brought into the experience of perfect love. Some of his revivals were of a sweeping character. During his ministry in Sharon, 340 were received into the church from meetings he held without the aid of evangelist or other help save that of a church upon which the Holy Ghost had fallen. His life went out at New Bethlehem, amidst a blaze of evangelistic glory. The Sabbath prior to his death, fifty souls gave their names to the church as the fruits of a revival campaign for which he long had planned, and in which he was assisted by his friend, the Rev. E. L. Hyde. Though he held no university or college diploma, so exact were his habits of study and so intense was his thirst for learning as to make his attainments equal the best of those who had received college graduation. Syracuse University, in 1896, bestowed upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. His library was large in size and very select in quality, one notable feature of it being the Lincoln collection which he had been gathering for years. As a pastor, Erie Conference never had his superior, and but very few his equal. The last full year of his ministry he made 2000 pastoral calls, and they were properly so named; the occupants of each home knew that it was their spiritual welfare in which he was most deeply interested. For a time when the other pulpits of New Bethlehem were vacant, he did the pastoral work of the entire town; members of other churches called upon him to visit their sick, bury their dead, and counsel them in their religious problems. So alert, up-to-date, winning and efficient was he that it was a surprise to many of his friends to learn, when he died that he had almost reached the ripe age of seventy-five years. Some men reach their ministerial deadline when they are fifty years old; Doctor Blaisdell seemed far from his as he neared the ripe age of seventy-five. He was married to Miss Irene Morse of Oil City, Dec. 20, 1864, a most lovely consecrated Christian woman, to whom he often said he was largely indebted for the success in the Christian ministry which he attained. She passed from earth May 5, 1906. To them three children were given, all of whom still live—Mrs. Cora M. Wild, who for some years prior to his death, had charge of her father’s home; Prof. Thomas C. Blaisdell chief of the English department of the State Agricultural College, Lansing, Mich.; and Frederick W. Blaisdell, head of the advertising department of the Linder Company, Cleveland, Ohio.

God gave to him the fulfillment of two frequently expressed wishes. One was that he might die in the harness, and the other that he might end his days with his pastorate at New Bethlehem. Three weeks prior to his death he contracted a severe cold with bronchial complications. From early in the morning, Monday, March 11, until three o’clock, the hour of the funeral, his remains lay in the church where for over three years he had ministered. The whole town seemingly came to view them. All stores, banks and nearly all the other places of business were closed while the funeral services were in progress. Nineteen ministers and several laymen from charges he had served were in attendance. District Superintendent J. Bell Neff had charge. G. M. Hughes offered prayer, and words of loving tribute and characterization were spoken by J. B. Neff. John Lusher, F.S. Neigh, F. F. Black and Dr. F. L. Hyde. The interment at Beaver. Pa., was under the direction of Superintendent T. W. Douglas, or New Castle District, assisted by six ministers of that District and Doctor Hyde. 

By W. P. Graham, Journal and Yearbook, Erie Conference, 1912, pages 111-114

 
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