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Smith, Amanda
An autobiograpy



My first national Holiness Camp Meeting was at Oakington, Maryland, July, 1870. When I saw the notice in the paper of this meeting, I thought I would like to go. But then I was a poor washwoman, and how could I go? I went to do a few days' work for Mrs. Margaret Clark, when she lived on Dominick street, and was one of the flaming members of the Duane Methodist Church, and was a camp meeting woman of the old fashioned stamp She said to me one day, "Sister Smith, you ought to go to the camp meeting at Oakington."

I said, "I should like to go if I could get something to do, taking care of the lodging tent, or get a chance as waitress in the boarding tent, so as to earn a little something." My rent was six dollars a month, and if I lost two weeks, then what would I do? So I said, "You write and get me a situation."

"Well, yes," she said, "but you won't get much good of the meeting that way."

"Well," I said, "I can't go any other way." So she said, "All right."

I went home and prayed that the Lord would open the way for me, and hoped.

Next week when I went, I expected to hear favorably from Mrs. Clark's letter. She said she had not heard from her letter yet, but said, "Sister Smith, why don't you trust the Lord and go to get the benefit of the meeting?" I was struck with the thought, just what I would like to have done. Then I thought, "What, trust the Lord about my rent?" I had not heard of such a thing, certainly I had never done it. I thought a moment and then said, "I will."


Then Mrs. Clark said, "You can take your own bed-tick and have it filled, and you can have room in our tent to sleep, and you will only have our tent to look after." How my heart leaped for joy. Then she told me how to manage, and I worked away, gathered what I could together and so got enough to pay my round trip ticket and had just ten cents over. When the time came Mrs. Clark said, "Send your trunk down to our house and it can go with our things in the morning."

I did so, but when the man got there a little after six o'clock in the morning they were all gone. When I got to the Cortlandt Street Ferry, I found my trunk was not there, the man had taken it to Debrosses Street Ferry, so the old man told me I had better go up to Debrosses street, about two miles away. My heart beat, I didn't know what to do. I thought, "I can't walk, it is so far, and I am so weary." I thought I might catch the train, and so took the street cars. Then I thought, "If I pay the ten cents to go up and down, how am I going to get through the ferry?"

I got back, but of course missed the train. I had to wait from about eight o'clock till half past ten. It seemed that everything was against me. O, how earnestly I did pray. I found that I was twenty-five cents short when I went to buy my ticket, that is if I got an excursion ticket, so I didn't know what to do. I asked the Lord to let me see some one I knew, so as to ask them to lend it to me. There were a great many persons waiting to go by the same train, among them was Rev. Henry Belden, whom I had often met at the Palmer meetings; Rev. Mr. Wells, pastor of the Seventeenth Street Methodist Church; Mr. Faulkner, and a number of other members of the church. They were all very kind to me. I thought, "Shall I ask Brother Belden for the twenty-five cents?"

Just as I looked around, who should be there but Brother Clark.

"O," I said, "I thought you had gone."

"I will not go," he said, "till Saturday,"--this was Wednesday morning, I think,--"Mrs. Clark left something and I hurried back to get it, and when I got here the train had just gone, so you will take it."

"Mr. Clark, will you please loan me twenty-five cents?"

"I have no change," he said, "but a two dollar bill, I will give you that and you can give it to me when I come."


So I got my ticket all right. Now the gates open, and the rush and noise--it was all so new to me then. I got in at last and took my seat, and I sat thinking and wondering how I would pay good Brother Clark his two dollars when he came on Saturday. "Lord, help me," I said, "and open the way for me."

Then Satan said to me, "If you had not bought that package of tracts you wouldn't have had to borrow that two dollars."

A day or two before, I had bought at the Bible House, a package of holiness tracts--they cost thirty cents. I knew my money was short, but holiness was so sweet to me that I wanted everybody to get it, and these tracts set the truth forth in such a clear, reasonable light I thought I might do a little work for the Lord in giving them to persons, so that was why I got them. The Devil don't like holiness anyhow, and I was ignorant of his devices, and was among strangers. He tried his best to pick a quarrel with me. After a little while I got my pack and took out the tracts and began to read, and in spite of all, I felt happy, and felt I had done right in getting them. The train went on. In a little while some one began to sing. I was asked to join in the song, and a real pleasant going to camp meeting we had. After the singing was over, Mr. Faulkner came back to the seat where I was sitting and said: "What are you reading, Auntie?" I handed him the package of tracts.

"Ah, do you know anything about holiness?" he said.

My heart caught fire in a moment, and I began to tell what great things the Lord had done for me, and after listening a while, he said, "I want to give our pastor, Brother Wells, some of these tracts," and I think he said his daughter and some other ladies were interested in the subject.

"All right, sir," I said, "I am very glad to have you take as many as you like." When he got through he returned what were not used."

"They are very good, and you must pray that God will bless them."

Then he handed me a two dollar bill. "I don't sell them, sir," I said.

He smiled and replied, "But don't you buy them?"

"Yes, but I didn't pay that for them, sir."

"No matter," he said, "I guess you can use it, can't you?"

"O, yes, sir, thank you, praise the Lord." Then he went away.


I saw how God had answered my prayer, and paid the two dollars I had borrowed of dear Brother Clark. "It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear." Isaiah, 65:24. So when Brother Clark came on Saturday, I was glad to hand him the two dollars.

That camp meeting I shall never forget. How God gave me friends and blessed me. It was the first time I had ever been to a meeting of that kind. I had never heard such testimonials and such preaching on holiness. The Sunday morning Love Feast will never be forgotten. The Lord laid it on me to give my experience of how I found the great salvation, and as I spoke He blest me greatly and the people as well. At the close, Brother In skip said they wanted five hundred dollars--I think it was that amount--for the expenses of the big tent. Some person proposed to divide the amount in shares, so there was a hearty and prompt response, for everybody seemed to be so happy, and in about ten or fifteen minutes they had the amount, and over. I wanted to give something, I was so glad and happy I thought I would like to give ten dollars if I had it, so I said, "Thou knowest, Lord, if I had it I would give it, do put it into somebody's heart to give it for me."

I had hardly uttered the prayer when dear old Brother John McGlynn stood up and said, "Ten dollars for that colored sister that just now spoke."

"Praise the Lord! thank you, sir," I shouted. O, I felt I could fly.

It was there I began to learn the deep meaning of the text, "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you."

In the afternoon I went into the tent where Brother Purdy was leading a meeting; he was probing and testing those who were seeking full salvation, for all who know Brother Purdy and his methods know that no one slips through his fingers easy, who is seeking for pardon or purity. He probes deep, praise the Lord. I listened. I knew my own heart measured up to each of these tests and I could say, "Praise the Lord!" My soul was all aglow with holy triumph. I stepped up and said, "Brother Brady, would you like to try your probe on me?"

He was all taken back, but in his pleasant way said, "Yes, can you stand it, Amanda?"

"Yes, sir;" and I took up the different tests he had given

and went through with them. The power of the Lord came down upon us, and O, what a meeting; sinners were converted, believers sanctified. The meeting lasted long after the preaching began in the evening. People came from all parts of the ground.

There I first met Mr. and Mrs. Martyr, of Philadelphia, who afterwards were very good friends to me. They are both now in Heaven.

It was the first time that I saw Rev. B.F. Adams. He preached a wonderful sermon on Sunday morning, and gave his experience how he got the blessing of sanctification. The power of the Spirit was manifest. Brother Adams sat down in a tempest of glory. It was the very Sunday that Rome was declaring the infallibility of the Pope. Brother Boole sprang to his feet, as by inspiration and said, as he only could say it:

"In Rome to-day they are crowning the Pope infallible; let's rise and sing, 'All hail the power of Jesus' name, and crown Him Lord of all,' in our hearts forever."

And the whole congregation rose in an instant as one, and I think I never heard such singing--never heard that old Coronation sung as it was that day. Yes, we crowned Him King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!

As I had learned at Oakington to trust the Lord for temporal things, and He had blest me so wonderfully, I began to pray about going to Sing Sing, and the Lord sent help. A few days before the meeting opened, Brother Munson, of Twenty-fourth Street Methodist Church, where my friend, Sister Scott, and myself used to go at times to his class, was down town one morning, and the Lord sent him into 135 Amity street, where I lived, in New York.

"Well, Sister Smith," he said, "are you ready for the camp meeting?"

"I am asking the Lord to open the way for me."

"Well, here are two dollars to help you along."

I did praise the Lord for another indication of His loving kindness. Calling a brother's name who was a member of his class, he said his family would give me a place to sleep in their tent, if I liked, or I could have a corner in the large meeting tent. "Praise the Lord," I said, "He doeth all things well. Now, tell me how to go, and all about it."

He did so, and left. I had a good time after he had gone,

thanking God for His wonderful love to me. It was all a new experience, but so beautiful because I saw the Lord's hand in all. The day came, and my little daughter Mazie and I were off to the camp meeting. The Lord gave me many friends, and taught me new lessons. I remember many dear ones of those days, though so many have gone to be with God. Rev. John Cookman, who was then pastor of Bedford Street Church, and Rev. Brother Head strum, that wonderful man of God, Brother Moorehouse, and a number of others, were there. How well I remember dear John Cookman; he was then a power. I have no objection to his going to Heaven when his work was done, but somehow I felt as though he might have gone as safely through the dear old Methodist Church, that his father and brother Alfred, of blessed memory, loved and served so long; but praise the Lord, anyhow there are no sects in Heaven. Hallelujah! Oh, the City will be full of blood-washed souls out of every kindred, tongue and people. "What a gathering of the people that will be."

Then there was Brother Tom Sherwood, and Brother Knox, and King. What times we used to have in the police tent meetings! Brother John McClain's tent was where the young people held their meetings. There I first saw and heard Laura Bowden (afterwards Mrs. Crane); she was then in her prime of power. How the Lord did use her testimony and exhortation to the saving of many, young and old. I had never seen or heard of a young people's and children's meeting till then. All this was so new to me, and yet was grand.

One day Mrs. Dr. Butler was to speak on the Zenana work in India, where she and her husband spent so many years. Miss Bowden was to have charge of the Young People's Meeting. Mrs. Butler's meeting was in a tent in another part of the grounds and for ladies only. I wanted to hear Miss Bowden so much, for she was so clear on the subject of holiness, and this was my heart's delight, then I wanted to hear Mrs. Butler on India. I had never heard a missionary address in my life. At that time we had no Woman's Foreign Mission Work in our church; but it is different to-day, thank God.

I thought it all over, and decided to go into Mrs. Butler's meeting; she was to leave, and Miss Bowden would be there longer, so I would have another chance to hear her, I went into Mrs. Butler's meeting; it was in a large tent, and full of nice and many

richly dressed ladies. I slipped in at the door and sat down behind them. Mrs. Butler had a small table in front of her; and on it a number of different heathen gods, such as were worshiped in India, and I had never seen anything of the kind before, but I thought it can't be that human beings worship such hideous things for gods. My heart melted, and I wept bitterly and thought, "O, if I could only go and sing that very familiar old hymn, 'I am so glad that Jesus loves me.'" It was new then and I had sung it a great deal, and God had blest it to so many souls. I thought, "If I could go and sing this hymn they would all be converted right off," but O, how little I knew about heathen superstitions and customs.

Well, I had only two dollars and a half in the world, that was to get my little girl a pair of shoes. She had walked, about in the grass and got her shoes run inside. She was caring for Mrs. Vico's little child, and I didn't like her to have on those uncomfortable walking shoes, so the next morning I was to send to the village after them. I sat listening to Mrs. Butler. She made an appeal to the ladies for the Zenana work, and told how small a sum would keep a Bible woman in the field a year. "O," I thought, "if I had it I would give twenty dollars."

There was a pause, and only a few responded to this appeal out of the great number in the tent. I thought it very strange. By and by two ladies elegantly dressed got up and went out. They had on fine Leghorn hats, trimmed with deep black lace, elegant black lace shawls. "O," I said to myself, "those ladies ought to give twenty dollars, they must be rich." Then, as Mrs. B. talked on, others got up and left, giving nothing. How sad I felt. Just then the Spirit said distinctly to me, "You give that two dollars," and I said, "I will."

"Yes," the Devil said, "you will look nice to go up there with just two dollars; if you had five it would be something like."

Then I felt ashamed to give two dollars, and thought if I could only get out.

Then he suggested, "If you had gone to that Young People's Meeting you would not have felt so bad."

"Yes," I said, "I wish I had gone."

"Give the two dollars," the Spirit said again.

"Your child needs the shoes and you have no more," the Devil said. "Your first duty is to your child."

How concerned he was for her then!


I thought I would go out, and as I started the Spirit said, "God knows why you are going out; it is because you don't want to give that two dollars."

O, I felt I could scream out, so I went up to Mrs. Butler, sobbing like a child, and said, "Mrs. Butler." She looked at me and I said, "Can I go to India?"

"I wish you could," she said so kindly.

"Well," said I, "will you take two dollars?"

"Yes, I will," she said, "I will give you a paper, too."

It was the "Heathen Woman's Friend." I had never seen it before, so I went and sat down, and O, such a wave of glory swept over my soul, and I said, "Lord, I thank Thee, for I believe I have done right."

Just then the Devil said, "He that provideth not for his own household is worse than an infidel." It was like a shot, for it was in the Bible, and I had read it, and I didn't know what to do. I closed my eyes and lifted my heart to God and said, "Lord, I don't understand it, but somehow I feel I have done right." Then the Lord sent another shower of blessing to my soul. O, it went all through me like oil and honey! How good the Lord was to me, and at just that moment. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

At half-past two the bell rang at the stand for preaching. I walked down rather slowly, and when I got there some one was making a plea for twenty dollars or more for putting the water tanks on top of the hill, so as to be more convenient for the people. A gentle whisper came to me, "Give that fifty cents."

"You will be a fool to give that," the Devil suggested, "for some one might give you two dollars; then you would have the fifty cents so you could get the shoes."

"Yes," I said to myself, "I guess I have got in sympathy with things, looking at them and hearing them." So I shut my eyes and turned round so as not to look up as the basket passed. But the man came and passed the basket right under my face, and I rose up and threw the fifty cents in the basket and said, "Glory to God for nothing, and hallelujah for everything, for I have got Jesus yet;" and O, such a wave of salvation swept through my soul, and I said, "Lord, I thank Thee for helping me to do right."

By and by the preacher commenced. I listened. Rev. John Cookman preached one of his strong holiness sermons. I was

greatly blest; but every now and then the Devil would assail me and I would say, "Lord, help me; I believe I have done right." And He blest me still further. It was a fight; but thanks be to God who giveth us the victory.

After the meeting was over I went to my tent to get our tea ready. It was now about six o'clock, and just as we were sitting down and had begun our meal a voice called from the outside:

"Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Smith, Grandpa says you and Mazie must come and get your supper."

It was good old Father Brummel's little grandson.

"Billy, tell your grandpa I thank him, but we are having our supper and will come some other time."

I thought he had gone, but in a few minutes more he called out again:

"Mrs. Smith, Grandpa says you and Mazie must come over and get your supper."

So Mazie said, "Well, Ma, we had better go."

We had some peaches cut down. I said, "What shall we do with our peaches?"

"O," she said, "let's leave them for morning."

"All right," I said. So when we got in dear Brother Brummell's tent he said, "Come, Sister Smith, sit here," pointing to the seat. I shall never forget his loving, kind face. We passed in and took our seats at the table. When I turned up my plate there were three one dollar bills under it, fifty cents more than I had given. So old Satan got whipped that time! Praise the Lord! That was why he assailed me so during the preaching service; but how sweetly Jesus delivered me out of his hand. Praise His name forever!

And this is only one of the many times He has delivered me. O, Lord, I will praise Thee.

After I had given the two dollars to Mrs. Butler, I sent to town next morning and got the shoes for my little girl just as I had purposed. At one o'clock Sister Jane Fee said to me, "Let us go to some place where we can have a little quiet and prayer together."

We took our Bibles and went far from the ground, in an old apple orchard. We found a large tree out of sight of the people, and almost out of hearing. There we sat down and read the Word. Oh, how sweet it was. We wept together, and prayed, and praised the Lord, and made our request known, and He heard

us. After spending an hour, we returned to the camp ground. As I had had only a slight breakfast, and it was now two o'clock, I was feeling quite hungry!

As we were going down one of the avenues two gentlemen were standing talking. When we got up to them one of them reached out his hand and said to me, "This is Sister Amanda Smith, I believe."

"Yes," I said, "that is my name, sir."

"I have often heard of you. Well, Sister Smith, how are you getting on?"

"Oh, very well; the Lord looks after me."

"Well, have you had your dinner?" he asked.

"No," I said, "not yet."

"Here are two dollars. Go over there, (pointing to a tent); that is Brother C.'s tent. I have just had my dinner, and they have a good table."

I thanked him kindly, and praised the Lord.

"But," I said, "I will not eat all this two dollars up; there will be some change. Where can I find you?"

"Oh, never mind that," he said, "you can keep it; make it go as far as it will."

Thus the Lord was my shepherd that day.

At six o'clock there was a prayer meeting held at what was called the old Second Street, or Policemen's tent. Brother King, Brother Smith and a number of others took part. God was in the midst of us. The Lord helped in singing, praying and exhortation. How blessed it is to remember our old friends. Brother Tom Sherwood, with his grand "Amen," and "Bless the Lord," and "Glory to God," as he would so often make the woods ring when he would shout it.

The next morning, at the close of the early prayer meeting, I stood talking with some one, when a gentleman came to me and said, "Have you had your breakfast?"

"No," I said' "not yet."

"Well, I am going home; I have some tickets, and I guess the Lord will have me give them to you. They will last till the camp meeting closes."

"I thank God, and thank you," I said; "but as I am a colored woman they may object to my taking my meals at that tent."


"I don't think they will," he said; "I do not think there will be any objection, but I will go and see."

So he did; and it was all right. They treated me and my daughter most kindly; and the secret of it was, they were earnest Christians.

These are some of the Lord's doings, and they are marvelous. Hallelujah! And I did sing with spirit, and with understanding.

"In some way or other the Lord will provide;
It may not be my way, it may not be thy way,
But yet in His own way, the Lord will provide."

And I began to trust Him for temporal as well as spiritual blessings as I had never done before. And Oh, how faithful was my Lord. How He has blessed me, and all the little I have done for Him.

I had not been accustomed to take part in the meetings, especially when white people were present, and there was a timidity and shyness that much embarrassed me; but whenever called upon, I would ask the Lord to help me, and take the timidity out of me; and He did help me every time.

I remember one Sunday, between the hours of the morning and evening service, there was a great concourse of people. At that time I had a good voice, and could sing very loud. Mrs. L. asked me to go to her tent, and on my way many crowded round me and asked me to sing. Near by was a large stump. Brother Smith, a class-leader at old Second Street Church, New York, called out, "Sister Smith, step up on that stump so the people may hear you better. By that time there was a crowd around me of about four hundred people. After I had sung one or two pieces, one of which was very familiar and blessed to many--

"All I want, all I want,
Is a little more faith in Jesus."

Brother Smith said, "Sister Smith, suppose you tell the people your experience; how the Lord converted you."

And I asked the Lord to help me if it was His will that I should honor Him in acknowledging what He had done for me. And I felt He would help me, so I trusted in Him and ventured to speak. As I went on my heart grew warm, and the power of the Spirit rested upon me, and many of the people wept, and seemed

deeply moved and interested, as they had never been before. And God, I believe, blessed that meeting at that big stump on the old Sing Sing Camp Ground. How real it all seems to me now as I think it over, though it was so long ago. A day or two more and the camp meeting was over, and I and Mazie were on the boat going home to New York, to my dear home, which was two small rooms in the rear of 135 Amity street, now called Third street, just above Sixth avenue. I call it my dear home because the Lord had so many times answered my prayer, and blessed my own soul, and made it the birthplace of many souls. Those two little attic rooms will ever be dear to me, and I feel like saying, as one of old: "If I forget thee, let my right hand forget her cunning; if I do not prefer thee above all the fine mountains in America, England, Scotland, Rome, Egypt, or Africa."

"Here I'll raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I've come,
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home." Amen.