Thank you again for all your emails, phone calls, and visits concerning last week’s blog: Our Nation Is to Be Destroyed…Tomorrow-Part 2. In next two blogs, I believe some questions may be answered, and on the other hand, new queries will probably arise. If you have not read Part 1& 2 of this blog, please click here.
On a railroad train somewhere between Manhattan and Norfolk, Baxter County, Ark., Samuel Willhite must be pondering this morning over the futility of having visions that do not work out.
First, he had expected to see the world come to an end on September 1. Later he made up his mind that his first vision had become twisted during the transmission process, and a recasting of it set the date, in his mind, for the end of all mundane things as Thursday of last week.
Throughout the latter day Willhite sat on the steps of the Municipal Lodging House, No. 398 First avenue, Bible in hand, waiting for the passing of earth, and at odd moments endeavoring to convince some of the other guests of the city that he was the genuine, real thing in the prophet class. William C. Yorke, the superintendent, much to the surprise of Willhite, continued about the duties of his office, the last of which was to see that the Arkansan, his wife and two little children were safely stowed away for the night. Three other children were placed la the care of the Gerry society immediately after Willhite became an inmate of the municipal lodging house on August 23.
Willhite came out of the Southwest last June. According to his own story, he had been at various times a preacher, a farmer and a merchant. The two latter avocations did not pay very well, though, when on June 1 he "visioned" that the world was soon coming to an end he possessed, a farm which he sold for $400. He was ploughing in the field when the “Message” came to him in this wise: “In ninety days shall the unexpected come to pass. Go thou among the accursed; say unto them that destruction is near. Let them prepare: bid them prepare." Willhite started forthwith.
A second vision directed his steps Europeward, and he took his wife, five children, and passage to London. Just three days did he remain in the British capital. Our cousins, he felt, didn't care to be saved, for he was not permitted to preach his gospel in the streets, and how else could, he let them know the end was so very, very near?
Back to America came the Willhite and family. Of the $400 just $11 remained when he landed here, and William C. Rogers, an inspector of the State Board of Charities, escorted the visionist, his wife and three young children to the Municipal Lodging House. The Gerry Society took the older two. On Saturday afternoon the five were placed aboard a train tagged for Arkansas.
A week ago yesterday Willhite decided to give his vision to the people of Manhattan, and made arrangements to preach in the street near the lodging house. But G. Neuhaus, the inspector in charge, advised against that unless a license were procured. The self-styled prophet thought it beneath his dignity to go to the City Hall and apply for permission to save the world, and he confined his attention to the other inmates. They listened to his talk good naturedly, and deceased the situation with him in apparent seriousness, but not a single man evinced a desire to be among those to linger on or after September 1.
For two or three days Willhite was very restless and when Superintendent Yorke asked him the cause the Arkansas said he was beginning to doubt the accuracy of his prophecy, and that he fell he had made an error m his calculations. One whole day spent over his Bible and &calendar convinced him that he had been wrong, and Willhite startled those about him declaring in the most impressive manner That Thursday was the day of days, and that all those who did not get in out of the wet would then and there be wiped off the map. Still there were no converts, and the "vision getter" decided that it was up to him to go it alone in the new world. Not a convert had he made; no one to busy New York seemed to care whether the world came to an end or not.
Then came the momentous Thursday. Willhite arose early and prepared to watch everybody else shuffle into eternity. Why should he care? No one had heeded his message, and it would serve them right. Anyway, the fewer who remain with him the more room there would be for Samuel Willhite and the five other little Willhite’s, to say nothing of the wife, who never had evinced cast much faith in her husband’s prophecies. He was quite chagrined when Superintendent Yorke and Inspector Neuhaus failed to bid him goodbye, and he couldn’t help casting contemptuous glances, at others who had neglected to save themselves from the irresistible fate that was impending. Anyway, he was safe. And he sat all day long on the steps of the lodging house. When turning-in time came he went sorrowfully to bed, still sure he had been picked out from all the rest as a second Christ, but rather puzzled as to why things had gone awry.
On Saturday, when officer of the State Board of Charities came to escort the Willhite family to the railroad station, the prophet reassured the men in the municipal hotel that the end was not far off, and told them that he would send a corrected date for the shuffling off from faraway Arkansas just as soon as he could borrow a plough and get within range of another vision.
Our Nation Is to Be Destroyed…Tomorrow
Part 4 Coming Soon.
Part 4 Coming Soon.
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