My grandmother, Genevieve King, died and left all her “papers” with her oldest daughter, Aunt Margie. When Aunt Margie died, she left all her and Grandma King’s papers with her oldest daughter. Last year, my cousin brought me a CD that her husband had made of all these papers that he had scanned, several hundred!
What a wealth of information those “papers” were to me. I connected with a cousin in Peoria, IL that was also researching our Great, Great Grandmother Jennie Pike, so that caused me to really look into all these scanned papers to see what would be beneficial to her research also.
I can only share what I have transcribed at this point, which is very little since the handwriting from 1900s is difficult to read and tiny! My Aunt Margie had told me that Jennie Pike had gone to Zion City, IL with my grandmother after my Great Grandmother (Bessie Jane) Christine was put in a sanitarium. Zion City, according to the history, was a city founded by John Dowie. (find info here about him) It was a “special” place for people to live and follow his doctrines of Christianity. Aunt Margie also told me that Jennie Pike had sold “books from door to door for income” while living in Zion City. So, when I found this letter that Jennie Pike had written to her daughter, “Vivie” (Genevieve Wiley) I was pleased to read about the history of this Zion City from the viewpoint of a devotee of Dowie and a resident of the city.
Letter to Vivie (about Zion City written in Genevieve Berry King’s handwriting) 1907 from Jennie Pike
[typed the way it was written; all spelling is that of the author’s; _______ indicates that the paper was torn and unreadable.]
2704 Elim Ave, Zion City, Ill
Feb 6, 1907
(Genie sends her love to Aunt and Uncle) [written on side of top of letter]
My Dear Vivie
Your kind and welcome letter was duly and safely received. I have had a kind of relapse, but am better again. The coldest weather __________deepest snow of the Winter is here now. The Zion Community, or organization, which included the religious, political and social rights of every person holding membership in the “Christian Catholic Apostolic Church of Zion”, is dissolving into many separate and distinct individualities as there are members in the C. C. A. Church.
If ever a place or people had a right to use the word, Prohibition, it is the same place and people of Zion City: its meaning here, took in all saloons, distilleries, breweries, patent medicines, medical prescriptions, or the presence of liquor, even to the quantity of one ounce, anywhere within the City Limits: all drugstores, physics, pills and plasters, tobacco, from growing the plants or handling of it in any of its processes’s or smoking it in the pipe; dance ________, theatres, shows, every kind of pleasure resort; Fast Horses, Fast Women, Fast Men, gamblers and speculators; every church, other than the C.C. A. Church, is prohibited and I had forgotten that Uncle Sam’s Public School and State Universities are prohibited too. Poor houses and hogs and lawyers and peddlers and tailors are not allowed here. (all kinds of Bells are prohibited)
In the Summer of 1901, Dr. Dowie bought a large tract of land, used as pastures for milk cows, it was uncultivated and unfenced, with a few scattered frame houses for the use of the people employed in caring for the cattle. (This was at the time that you were helping us to get ready to leave Nebraska) Dowie was only able to make a very small cash payment, instead of a de____ old fashioned kind of an English Lease, which tied the whole piece of land to Dowie, by a mortgage in which he had to pay the tax on the entire tract of land himself; and in 1905, the entire City with the surrounding Zion land was advertised for sale for un-paid taxes, and this, was the beginning of the trouble which has brought Zion Estate into the Bankrupt Court. Zion City is on the shore of Lake Michigan, in Lake County, Illinois, eight miles from the Wisconsin State Line.
The Court which is trying the case under the bankrupt Law, is in Chicago, and the Estate will be sold under the hammer, some time this coming Spring.
The only lots that Dowie has sold, are residence lots, and the trouble developed when, the purchasers of those lots, who had built their houses, and were living in them, tried to pay their taxes separately, and the taxes were refused by those with authority to collect, and then, they employed a lawyer to proffer all their taxes at once, but this was also refused, as the taxes on the entire tract had to be made in one payment, and the receipt given to Dowie; he could not raise the money, and thus, the trouble kept brewing, new issues breaking forth, new debts coming to the front and new complainants, crowding into the Court, until the case became such a tangled complication of contradictions and confusion, as never perhaps, before has puzzled a Cos_______ jury of wide-awake Chicagoans. In 1901, there was but one old frame building within the City limits, now, there are the houses, which, were the homes of six thousand people; more than one half of these houses are unoccupied; a very large boarding house, for single people working in the factories is entirely closed, and the large Hotel of 350 rooms, is using only one corner, or less than one quarter of the building. The Administration Building, about the finest piece of Architecture in the City, and being almost an imitation of the Interior Department at Washington, D.C. even to the rich, heavy carpets, which seem to be inches thick under your feet. The Stores occupy two solid blocks, and are two stories high; the upper stories being stores too; they are run on the plan of an immense Department Store. They have many factories here, but more than half of them are closed now, and the others doing a very light business; their fine Publishing House, is practically closed. Zion Tower, one of the ornaments of the City, six hundred feet height, was laid upon the ground a mass of ruins during a terrific gale blowing from Lake Michigan about a month ago. One of the fine features of the City is Shiloh Park, centrally located and being a natural grove is really a very beautiful and attractive place, with several pleasant pavilions and numerous seats scattered about in the cosy nooks and corners nature has provided amongst the trees; and a Well of delicious water, with an abundance of cups, and a cottage with rocking chairs and cradles and awnings and toilet aids, etc.
Shiloh Park is the place where they have an encampment every Summer for two weeks in July, which they call, the Feast of Tabernacles. They can set up 15 hundred tents in this grove; they set them up in the form of a City, in Streets, with names on posts at the corners, and a number painted on each tent, and mail is delivered just the same as to houses. I could write pages of interesting description of the tent City, right in the heart of Zion City, from the 14thof July until the frost vacates it, and the people go to take a last drink at Esther’s Well, and look at the large handsome sign “Esther’s Well” over it, which seems to be a Monument for the poor girl, Dowie’s only daughter, 22 years old, who was burned to death by an explosion, one day in Chicago, while the first buildings here were being commenced. The Park fronts on Shiloh Boulevard and on the other side of the Street further down towards the depot is Shiloh House, the residence of Dowie, a magnificent, or, rather a Palatial looking structure, in which the, poor, forlorn phrophet is living as a helpless invalid, unable to move himself, and moved about the house, by two gigantic negroes, who dress and undress him and take care of him as a child is cared for. He is said to be paralyzed, and has been in this condition for about two years; his wife and only son are living in Michigan and have not been here for nearly a year. Poor Dowie, has not been allowed to look through an open door since September and I am told that Shiloh House, is kept like a hot-house.
A little further down Shiloh Boulevard, is Shiloh Cottage, which, I thought was a Magnificent Mansion, and must be occupied by some Celebrity, so I inquired of a deaconess, who was walking with me, as to who occupied that noble residence, which seemed to me, to rank next to Dowie’s Forty Five Thousand Dollar home, and I was surprised when she told me, that it was Dowie’s Stable and that he called it Shiloh Cottage.
In the corner of Shiloh Park, (nearest to Shiloh House) is Shiloh Tabernacle (fronting Shiloh Boulevard) which is really, the most interesting place in this wonderfully spiritualized and dream-like City of Peace, only forty two miles from Chicago, that Sodom of the last days.
Here in this Shiloh Tabernacle, whose solemn vastitud, (when empty) overpowers and satisfies you, with its touch of the infinite upon your soul; with its vast auditorium, capable of seating six thousand people: its four long aisles, in which, a procession of six abreast, can march with ease: its noble galleries: its white robed choir of six hundred perfectly trained voices, where you may close your eyes and think, that one melodious voice is singing, as you never heard a voice sing before, “we’re marching onward to Zion, the beautiful City of God.” So perfectly trained are those voices, and as those six hundred singers, in their white robes and eyes cast down on their open books, walk through those spacious aisles, singing “we’re marching through Immanuel’s ground,” it is to me, the most beautiful and impressive sight that I have ever beheld; and the Music haunts me. My dear Vivie I wish that you would look into your Dictionary, for the meaning of Shiloh, and tell me what it is. With the downfall of Dowie, it seems as though the glory and the beauty had departed, but the Peace and Poetry are here yet. In many ways the Zion people, remind me of the old puritans, thy are great Psalm singers. When Dowie became helpless, he sent to Australia for his favorite Elder, Voliva, to come here and help him. When Elder Voliva came Dowie made him his Deputy and ruined the Cause of Zion, through Voliva’s treachery, and this is how we came to have three elements, or three parties now in Zion. One party clings to Dowie, and believes, that because he is sick and helpless, is not a sufficient reason for deserting him. The second party is called Voliva’s Party, and is made up of those, who, when Voliva openly usurped Dowie’s position and office, openly joined themselves with the usurper against Dowie. Then, about this time, came a man from Los Angeles, Cal. I think a Mr. Parham, Projector of what he called the Apostolic Faith, he commenced preaching here last June, the people became very much interested, they asked Voliva to let Parham have the use of the Tabernacle for the meetings, he refused it. Some of Parham’s followers went to Chicago, and got________ [fold In paper]
And room for five hundred more, and the people who worshipped in the tent were called Parhamites.
Then Elder Voliva, notified the members of the C.C. A. Church, that everyone who attended the tent services on Sundays would be excommunicated publically by him, and this is the Third Party, or the Parhamites. When the weather got cold, there were six of the largest stoves I ever saw, set up in the tent.
About a month ago, the wind blew the tent down, and tore it to shreds. I could hear the singing in the tent where I was sick.
That is all that is available from the letters. These letters are very brittle and some pages are stuck together, so this is all that we can get from them.
My Grandmother Genevieve was 7 years old at the time of this letter and in another 4 years at age 11 she would be orphaned and sent to live with “Vivie” in San Diego, California.
I am also putting Jennie Pike’s “Last Will and Testament” into this post just for interest. And her funeral bill and info about the Funeral Home.