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Smith, Amanda
An autobiograpy



After my conversion I continued to live in Columbia, Pa., a year or two; then went to live at Colonel McGraw's in Lancaster, about ten miles from Columbia, where I remained some four or five years. In the meantime the civil war had broken out, and my husband, in common with so many others, enlisted and went South with the army, from which he never returned. From Lancaster I went to Philadelphia, where I remained at service with different families for several years. There I became acquainted with James Smith, a local preacher, to whom I was subsequently married.

When the first few months after my marriage to James Smith had passed, things began to get very unsatisfactory. My husband had one grown daughter, eighteen years of age, by a former marriage, and I had one daughter, about nine years old, by my first marriage. At times, things in the house were very unpleasant. I was greatly disappointed, perhaps I had expected too much of my husband. He was a local preacher and an ordained deacon in the A. M. E. Church. My first husband was not a professing Christian at all, neither was I when I married him. During the years of my widowhood I boarded my little girl, here a while and then there. Sometimes she was well taken care of and at other times was not; for I found that often people do things just for the little money they get out of it; and when I would go and see the condition of my poor child, and then had to turn away and leave her and go to my work I often cried and prayed; but what could I do more? I had not yet learned to trust God fully for all things.

One reason for my marrying a second time was that I might have

a Christian home and serve God more perfectly. I thought to marry a preacher would be the very thing, though notwithstanding, I prayed earnestly for light and guidance from the Lord, and I believe, now, he gave it me, but I did not walk in it. How sorry I have been many times since. I told my husband how, since my conversion, I felt it my duty to be an Evangelist. He quite agreed to it all, and told me he was preparing himself to join the Conference and so go into the itinerant work. He explained and reasoned it all so well, and, of course, I had learned to love him, and that went a good ways towards making everything look very plausible, notwithstanding the light the Lord had given me. I said the Lord knows the deep desire of my heart is to work for Him, and I could help my husband so much in his work. I had seen and known the influence of a minister's wife, and how much she could help her husband or hinder him to a great extent in his work. Mr. Smith said that was just the kind of a wife he wanted. I remembered Rev. Joshua Woodland and his wife, how they used to go about among the people and make them feel they were of them, and all who knew them loved them; and so with my pastor, Rev. L. Patterson and his wife. She would lead prayer meeting and pray with the sick and dying, and was a beautiful housekeeper with all, and all these just suited me, and I thought how nice it will be to be able to do so much good, and beside to be spoken of as "Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Smith." I thought I saw it clearly, and I said, yet after all, this looks like the Lord's will. At that very hour Satan had gained the victory over me and yet I did not know it was he. After I had given my consent I went to the Lord to have it ratified, but not a ray of light came. I felt sad, but what could I do? I said when the Conference comes and Mr. Smith gets his appointment I will begin work at once with the people, and I will then get light and liberty of soul and will be all right, so this cheered me; but O, the subtilty of Satan, how he can transform himself into an angel of light to deceive even to this day.

The marriage was over and the Conference came. For several weeks prior to the session of the Conference I saw that my husband did not seem to be interested and studious as he had been, and when I would speak to him about it he would be cold and indifferent. O, how indescribably sad I felt; I was frightened. Now I thought if he changes his mind and does not join the Conference,

what will I do? I felt I could not stand the disappointment. My heart was sad, yet I tried to hope all through. I watched my husband, but he was still indifferent. One day he came home from the Conference quite out of sorts with the Bishop and all the brethren, and I knew from the way he expressed himself all was up for my good work as a pastor's wife; but I prayed with what spirit was left in me and hoped that at the last things would come out all right. Finally, the Conference closed and the appointments were read. I said to my husband: "Are you not going tonight to hear the appointments?"

"No, I don't want to hear them;" so I went out alone. It seemed to me I could scarcely walk to the church--old Bethel Church, on Sixth street, Philadelphia. I went in, sat down and listened to the long list of appointments read. James Smith's name was not there. I said, can it be I have heard rightly. I saw my mistake, Satan had deceived me. "O, Lord," I said, "what shall I do?" I went home and asked my husband all about it.

I shall never forget how he took me on his lap and kindly put his arm around me and said, tenderly, "My dear, I was afraid to tell you what was really in my heart, I was afraid you would not marry me."

"But how could you deceive me so?"

"I knew it was wrong," he said, "but you will forgive me?"

Of course, I would, and did, but the remembrance was grievous. The Lord sustained me and gave me His grace.

After a year Mrs. Colonel McGraw, with whom I had lived in Lancaster for some four years, came for me to go a few months to Wheatland, Md., where they had moved. They found it difficult to get a cook, and they thought I might go for a few months to get the house settled. After getting the consent of my husband, I took my baby, little Nell, six months old, and my daughter Mazie, and we went for the summer. O, what I went through during those three months! I had to do all the cooking for the house, and eight farm hands, beside helping with the washing and doing up all the shirts and fine clothes and looking after my children. How I did it I don't know. There were but two other servants in the house, chambermaid and waiter, so I had no help only as they were kind enough, at times, to lend a hand. My baby seemed to get along nicely for the first three weeks, then she was

taken sick with summer complaint, and in six weeks I had to lay her away in the grave to await the morning of the Resurrection. Mrs. McGraw had gone to Lancaster, so was not there. Mr. McGraw was just as kind as he could be to make things as pleasant as possible. He made all the arrangements for the funeral, and bore all the expenses, but, in spite of all, my mother heart was sore and sad. My husband was at Bethlehem Springs and could not get there. Nevertheless, the Lord stood by me. Praise His name for ever and ever. Amen.

In the fall I returned home to Philadelphia, and went out to days' work and took washing, in every way to help my husband. In the course of time the Lord gave me another dear little boy, and I named him after Thomas Henry, whom I loved for his Christian, manly bravery in the dark days of slavery.

He was a member of the M. E. Church, and was a licensed preacher for a number of years at Hagerstown, Md., and left that church and joined the A. M. E. Church in 1834. The stewards and sometimes the preachers, in those days owned slaves, and as one of the stewards of the church he belonged to, sold a poor colored girl away from her child, he was sad about it, knowing them all as he did; so he went to the Presiding Elder and asked him about the clause in the discipline about buying and selling slaves. He told him that he had nothing to do with the Steward's property; and after still further inquiry the same answer was given. Then with Tom Henry forbearance ceased to be a virtue and he said no man whose hand is red with innocent blood shall ever put the Sacrament in my mouth. He remained a worthy member of the A. M. E. Church, which he served nobly till he fell asleep in Jesus, about ten years ago.

I speak of him because he was a father to me, and so often comforted my heart when I would be almost overwhelmed.

The story of his life ought to be read by every Methodist preacher of to-day, for many of them have forgotten what the fathers had to go through in preparing a church for them to carry forward. What wonderful changes have been since then! Surely, God hath been good to Israel.

In 1865 my husband took a position at Leland's Hotel, and we moved from Philadelphia to New York. We were strangers, I, especially. My husband, James Smith, was a Mason and an Odd Fellow, so in that way knew many more persons than I. The New

York people, both white and colored, seemed so different from the Philadelphia people. I could not seem to get into their ways. In Philadelphia my church relations were so congenial and spiritual, but here I was very lonesome. We found it difficult to get rooms. In Philadelphia, you could get a small house to yourself, but rents in New York were high, and there were many things in the way. I hoped my husband would go back again; but no, I must make the best of things till we got started and acquainted. That means something when one goes to New York a stranger, as I did, and with but little money. I took a situation as cook up town, Twenty-fourth street and Lexington avenue, with a Mrs. L. It was a very nice place; there I stayed about two months. My husband got a room in York street, and then I only went out to day's work, still finding the people with whom I met cool and unsocial compared with what they were in Philadelphia. I told my husband I did not like New York. Then he advised me to join some societies, then I would get better acquainted. All the leading high-toned church people were in society; so it was then, and is to-day. Well, I was high-toned in spirit,--always had been; I think I took after the white folks I lived with; they were aristocratic. So I thought that is a good idea and I will get to know all the nice people; so I joined three different societies.

I was greatly disappointed in the spirit that I saw manifested among the members, but I said I will have to get used to things, then it will be better, so I went on for a year. Then there was a new society started called the "Heroines of Jericho." None but Master Masons' wives and daughters could join it, and this society was very high-toned, and as my husband was a Master Mason, he was anxious for me to join. He came home one night and told me all about it. Nothing would do but I must join this if I let some of the others go.

Well, after some weeks I did, and we had flashy times, all the tinsel regalia and turn out and money spending and show; it took all I could gather to keep up with it, and I had no chance to draw anything, for I had good health and was never sick; but still I must go on paying my dues regularly, as I had begun; and so I did till '68, then after God had sanctified my soul He opened my eyes to see the folly of all this and taught me how to trust in Him, and I came out of every one of them.

The more I prayed about it the clearer God made it to me that

all these secret societies are the mothers of selfishness, pride and worldliness. I shall praise God forever that when I asked Him for light on these things He gave it to me, and as I walked in it He led me out into a place of broad rivers. Some of the sisters and brethren visited me and tried to persuade me. They said, "you were just come to where you would be in office, and you have paid so much money in, and you should not leave it now." When I did not yield they turned on me and treated me coolly, and said many unkind things about me. But thank God, I was out to go in no more. I treated everybody very kindly, and did pray for them all, for I knew God would give them light if they only would receive it.

After this I had my trials. My husband could not understand why I should take such a position, but I could not explain, I could only sing,

"He leadeth me! Oh! blessed thought,
Oh! words with heav'nly comfort fraught;
Whate'er I do, where'er I be,
Still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me."

One morning as I was over the wash-tub my heart was sore. Oh! what a night I had had. I felt I could not bear any more, and I said, O, Lord, is there no way out of this? And as I wept and prayed the Lord sent Mother Jones. I did not want her to catch me crying; I did not believe in telling all my little troubles, but there she was, and I was so full and had suppressed so long that I could hold in no longer. "Well, Smith," she said, "how do you do?"

"O, Mother Jones, I am nearly heart-broken; James is so unkind," and I began to tell all my good works; how I did this and how I did that, and all I could to make things pleasant, and yet he was unkind.

"Well," she said, "that is just the way Jones used to do me, but when God sanctified my soul He gave me enduring grace, and that is what you need; get sanctified, and then you will have enduring grace."

"My," I thought, "is that what sanctification means? Enduring grace? That is just what I need; I have always been planning to get out of trials, instead of asking God for grace to endure;" and as she talked on, down deep in my heart I prayed the Lord to make her go so I could get sanctified and get enduring grace,


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