Bill Bloomer’s memories of Arkansas, Bishop Brown recalled


Bill Bloomer had a connection between Bishop Brown and Bloomer’s own trip to Arkansas from where Bishop Brown came before he moved to Galion. Here is Bloomer’s story, taken from his many manuscripts:

“In the nineties, (I was) on a mission to Mammoth Spring, Arkansas, as an assistant to my friend Charles J. O’Malley, now of Boston, Mass., in getting out some advertising material to boost the town as resort center sponsored by the railroad company upon whose line it was located.

“We arrived, he from Kansas City and I from St. Louis. This was in February 1896, and an ex-banking room was assigned, no rent, as an office.

“It was learned that the promoters of the bank blew into town, furnished the room in regular banking style with desks, a counter adorned with wickets, and imposing safe, and a big base burner stove to take away the morning chill.

“At the opening for business, Welcome pervaded the air and deposits rolled in. But alas. Within a period of a few months, the ‘bankers’ disappeared, and we were told about $70,000 in deposits went with them. Consternation swept through the town and far into the surrounding country. To say the inhabitants were enraged would be a mild and placid term.

“When O’Malley and I took possession of the ex-bank, word was circulated that ‘the bankers are back!’

“The plate-glass front window was equipped with a shade that was pulled up from the bottom, and as we thought, high enough to obscure the view from the outside. On our first morning at work, a crowd began to gather — quietly. Upon looking at the broad front window, there appeared a row of heads and along the line of the shade, a series of glistening angry eyes. For all we knew, they may have carried ropes.

“Mr. Ben Elder, the Mayor, arrived, explained our mission and the crowd slipped away as quietly as it had come. For several days after, there were those who came to ‘take-a-look,’ to be convinced that we were not the bankers.

“Ben Elder was a typical Arkansawan (sic). A large, well-built man, wearing a broad-brimmed hat with skirted coat of black, an ex-sheriff and now mayor as evidence of his popularity. Ben was a native of Mammoth Spring and when (he was) a boy joined a party driving a herd of cattle across the plains. In relating this experience, he said: ‘When out in Kansas, I was afraid to walk around nights for fear I’d step right off in the Pacific Ocean.’ During our stay he was a daily visitor and always a welcomed guest.

“One day he stopped in and suggested we attend a justice-of-the-peace court that would take place in the afternoon. We consented. Of the case and the court all if forgotten except this incident.

“Court was held in a small frame one-story building, in a room probably 12×15 feet and crowded to the door with the friends of the prosecution, defense and town idlers, to suffocation.

“All was proceeding smoothly in accordance to Justice court rule, when the Justice at his desk and occupying the chair suddenly held up his hand for ‘quiet please’ and shouted ‘Somebody ….! De court will now adjourns an’ tek a recess ‘til de aihr clarifies, and somebody fan dat doorah!’

“A small voice full of meekness piped up from the rear of the audience saying, ‘No, Jedge … nobody! Jed Thompson done jes pulled offen one of hees boots.’

“Mammoth Spring represented a small lake rather than a spring, and is the source of Spring River, its outlet. On part of its shore was quite a large cotton mill turning out denim for overalls and children’s jumpers. Upon the invitation of Mr. Tate, the owner, I visited the mill. After being shown through the plant, I went to the office for a little chat and in the conversation, I mentioned that the Episcopal bishop of Arkansas was from my town in Ohio.

“Say! Did you ever touch a match to a keg of powder? Well, that’s what I unintentionally did. When the tirade ended, I was glad to get into the open air and leave behind the cotton mill with Spring Lake between us. I never mentioned this in the many visits I had in later years with Bishop William Montgomery Brown in his study.

“Bishop Brown was later deposed by the House of Bishops in the heresy trial held in Cleveland. Though unfrocked (sic), he continued to wear the habiliment of a bishop, lecturing and publishing his views. A contribution toward Communism and preyed upon by genuine and fictitious Communists.

“A man of fine personality, he was generous in every particular, always ready to contribute his share for the common good and use his influence toward the betterment of life of the humble citizenry.”

This photograph of Bishop Brown is very typical of the old gentleman, whom the people of Galion knew so well. photograph of Bishop Brown is very typical of the old gentleman, whom the people of Galion knew so well. Galion History Center

By Bernard M. Mansfield, M.D.

Galion History Center

Your Historical Galion is contributed by the Galion History Center and features the writings of Dr. Bernard M. Mansfield and other local historians. This story was first published in the Galion Inquirer on Saturday, April 15, 1995. For information about the Galion History Center, visit

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