Blanche and Christopher Stamp: Superstar Free Methodist Evangelists

A 1912 Advertisement for the Stamp’s Revival Services.
Ad originally published in the Rock Island (IL) Argus.

A few more pieces about the Stamp family have come into place this week. Christopher Stamp was an early convert to Free Methodism. About ten years after the denomination was founded (1860), he heard Free Methodists preach in Seattle. A teenager at the time, he was greatly influenced by two Free Methodists, Rev. Peter Griggs and Hiram Pease, who were preaching in the Northwest United States. According to his 1930 obituary in The Free Methodist, he first converted to Free Methodism, and then a few days later, during the same revival, experienced sanctification. Because Seattle didn’t have an established Free Methodist Church, he traveled to San Francisco and joined there. By the early 1880s, he was ordained and appointed to Lawrence, Kansas, where he met and married Blanche on January 25, 1882.

The couple had six children, but only three lived to adulthood. Their oldest Dudley Stamp was born around December 1882. Dudley was named after Christopher’s older brother and was a very energetic and outgoing child. So much so that at a Colorado camp meeting the family was attending, he wandered off and got lost. Miraculously, he survived overnight in the Rocky Mountains by himself. Christopher Stamp wrote a children’s book in 1912 about the experience called Dudley Stamp Lost in the Rocky Mountains. (You can read it by clicking on the hyperlink.)

An illustration of Dudley being left in the forest by an older boy who had been teasing him. From Dudley Stamp Lost in the Rockies. The book was illustrated by Ward Miller.

After Dudley, the Stamps had a daughter Maudella and then two more sons Paul and Eastus and finally two daughters, Ada and Ruby. Tragically, the Stamps lost all three boys very early. Dudley and Paul died of scarlet fever while the family lived in Pueblo, Colorado. Eastus died soon after birth.1

Christopher recounts in his book that the neighbor’s children had mild cases of scarlet fever, but were still playing outside. He and Blanche had no idea the children were sick and allowed their kids to play with them. Maudella caught scarlet fever first and recovered, but six-year-old Dudley and Paul did not. In Dudley Stamp Lost in the Rocky Mountains, Christopher writes about the experience of losing both boys. It’s heartbreaking, and for much of the children’s illness Blanche was left on her own to care for all three children as Christopher was traveling and could not be reached by telegram. He arrived home right before Paul died, and Dudley was very ill. In his Free Methodist obit, the article notes Christopher Stamp’s last words were in reference to Dudley. “I will soon by with Dudley boy.”

After Pueblo, the family moved to Colorado Springs where Christopher was the district elder and Blanche was appointed to the Husted Circuit. By the early 1900s, the couple had moved on to evangelistic work and were becoming well-known national revivalists. (I still need to track down the exact years Christopher Stamp was a General Conference evangelist.)

Christopher Stamp became a General Conference evangelist around 1904, and the Stamps’ speaking engagements garnered media attention wherever they went. While Christopher was the official General Conference evangelist, Blanche often preached with him. The advertisement at the start of the article is a good example of how the Stamps’ revival services were promoted. When the couple was preaching in Lawrence, Kansas in 1910, the local Free Methodist Church published an outline of their revival services in The Lawrence Daily World. While this particular engagement was also part of the quarterly conference meeting, it appears to still be a typical overview of their topics and how they conducted services.

Friday

A November 1912 announcement in The Daily Inter Lake about revival services in Kalispell, Montana. Christopher, Blanche, and their daughter Ada are noted as preaching.

9:30 a.m. Lovefeast

10:30 a.m. “Some Bible Characters Who Professed Experience” Mrs. Blanche Stamp

11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Other Free Methodist preachers

4:15 p.m. Children’s Meeting Mrs. Blanche Stamp

7:15 p.m. Sermon C.W. Stamp

Saturday

9 a.m.-2 p.m. Quarterly Conference Meeting

2:15 p.m. Rev. J. Meyers and S.V. Cole

3:00 p.m. Practical Holiness C.W. Stamp

7:30 p.m. Sermon Mrs. Blanche Stamp

Sunday

9:30 a.m. Lovefeast

11:00 a.m. Sermon C.W. Stamp

12:00 p.m. Communion

2:45 p.m. Sermon on the Interests of Foreign Missions

7:30 p.m. Sermon C.W. Stamp

The Stamps usually rotated speaking engagements with both preaching in the evening at least once during visits. Blanche also regularly preached on foreign missions. Eventually, their daughter Ada also became a licensed evangelist, and both Ada and Ruby often traveled with them as Christopher noted in a 1913 report to The Free Methodist.

Newspaper accounts of Blanche and Christophers’ rhetorical abilities speak of a couple who were extremely powerful preachers.

A March 29, 1912, front-page announcement in The LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel called both Christopher and Blanche speakers who were “highly recommended by the pulpit and press,” and invited community members to come to hear them preach during a series of revival meetings at the local Free Methodist Church.  Blanche is referred to as a “speaker of rare ability” in a December 14, 1912, article in The Rock Island Argus. In describing Christopher, The Kittanning Pennsylvania Simpsons Daily Leader Times noted in a 1921 article that as “a preacher and platform orator he has few equals no superiors.” The newspaper also noted Christopher had preached not only in the United States but in also Europe.

For couples like the Stamps committment to ministry often meant sacrifices, and in their case their two youngest daughters boarded at Chili Seminary while their parents traveled the country preaching.2 Their committment to being partners in both life and ministry also came at a time when anti-suffrage rhetoric was increasing in the United States. Even within Free Methodism The Free Methodist began featuring opinions by noted anti-suffragists and denominational members who felt the highest calling a woman had was to her children and raising a Godly family.3 Blanche clearly was not taking that path and Christopher was supportative of her. Their popularity illustrates a rhetorical tension that had been present in Free Methodism since its founding. Those who favored the progressive social gospel of Roberts (as the Stamps did) believed women equallly capable, equally called and equally Biblically justied to preach. Wheras, those (like Wilson Hogue) who embraced premillianist theology were very much inline with anti-suffrage rhetoric that women were naturally different than men and not Biblically justified to become ordained elders.4

I’ll write about this in more detail in a few weeks, but after Roberts’ death, there is a noticeable rhetorical shift in what The Free Methodist publishes in its general news, reforms, and family circle sections. Especially under Hogue’s editorial leadership in the mid 1890s through about 1903, anti-suffrage views are front and center.

1 Zoe von Ende Lappin. (2011) “Lost in the Rocky Mountains: Long Ago Preacher Never Lets Go of His Little Son’s Ordeal.” Colorado Genealogist vol. 72 no.2, pp. 33-43.

2 ibid.

3 Wilson T. Hogg, August 22, 1899, “Educate Women for Higher Womanhood,” The Free Methodist, 1.

One such advocate was Edward Bok, who Hogue favorably highlighted on the periodical’s front page in 1899.  The first page of The Free Methodist usually was the editor’s summaries of important current events and opinions of interest to readers. Hogue summarizes Bok in a section entitled “Educate Women for Higher Womanhood” where he lambastes women pursuing college education citing Blok’s statement that “If the instinct of daughter, sister or wife dies out in the college-bred woman, even in the course of the most brilliant career, the world will forget to love her; it will scorn her justly.” Hogg goes on to suggest the solution for women is to be cheery and tidy wherever they went, making their environment always “home-like” lest she forgets her role as the primary nurturer. Bok’s writings regularly touted this “natural moral superiority” of women as justification for maintaining separate spheres for the sexes.

4 A few good sources on connections between anti-suffrage and premillennialism are Margaret Bendroth’s Fundamentalism and Gender and David Bebbington’s The Dominance of Evangelicalism: The Age of Spurgeon and Moody.


 

2 thoughts on “Blanche and Christopher Stamp: Superstar Free Methodist Evangelists

  1. Blanche died in 1945 and Christopher in Dec 1929. Both are buried at North Chili Rural Cemetary. When I look up the graves their tombstones look very readable still so they should be easy to find if anyone lives nearby and wants to visit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s