Are Tears a Sin? Clara Wetherald’s Views on Emotion and Preaching

This article was published while B.T. Roberts was editor of The Free Methodist. It shows the emotional/embodied nature Clara most likely also practiced as she addressed a congregation. As I’ve blogged about her for several years, her passion cannot be doubted but how she physically and emotionally expressed that passion was something I was unsure of until I found this article. My favorite quote from Clara in this article is: “Tears often speak louder than words. “ By Clara Wetherald The Free Methodist November 23, 1887 A meeting was held in a certain place to labor with a sister, and … Continue reading Are Tears a Sin? Clara Wetherald’s Views on Emotion and Preaching

Keep Our Faces Before Thee: Clara Wetherald’s Report from South Lyon, MI

I am beginning a long series of publishing Free Methodist women’s original articles in their entirety.  I’ve spent the past few years telling the stories of various Free Methodist women trailblazers and while I have quoted them, I want them to have a chance to say more in their own voices. This first article published in the February 22, 1888, The Free Methodist was a ministry report by Clara Wetherald from South Lyon, Michigan. Clara illustrates the tension between a believing and unbelieving spouse and women’s lack of legal status in this article. It’s a remarkable story and incredible example … Continue reading Keep Our Faces Before Thee: Clara Wetherald’s Report from South Lyon, MI

Who was LeGrand Buell? – The Continuing Story of Clara Wetherald

I apologize for the delay in blogging. I’m trying to finish up my dissertation this semester, so I’m afraid my posts might not be as often as I’d like. I’d also like to thank members of the  Miller family who have been amazing in helping me find information on Clara Wetherald. Who was LeGrand Buell? In the story of Clara Wetherald he was the second husband who died three years into their marriage. He was the man that Clara supposedly left John Wetherald for and caused a scandal in the community. He was the drunkard who Clara married to reform. … Continue reading Who was LeGrand Buell? – The Continuing Story of Clara Wetherald

Temperance Music and Religion through the Example of the Miller Family

It’s been awhile since I’ve written on my dissertation topic – Clara Wetherald, Ida Gage and their work as nineteenth century Free Methodist evangelists, but it’s time to get back to work. I’ve missed these women. Clara (Miller) Wetherald came from a musically gifted family. As more fragments from her life emerge it’s clear that music was something that was an important part of both who she was and her ministry. Her second husband Legrand Buell was a musician and songwriter. Even the NY Times article about Legrand’s death in 1895 noted his musical accomplishments. Clara’s brother Frank Miller was … Continue reading Temperance Music and Religion through the Example of the Miller Family

The Demise of John Wetherald

This dissertation topic has taught me to believe that you can find that “needle in the haystack” or in the case of Clara Wetherald and Ida Gage’s lives “multiple needles in the haystack.” Once again, I have to thank the wonderful people who have helped me find so many of these tidbits that connect the dots. An 1895 New York Times article notes that the Reverend Clara Buell caused quite a sensation when she divorced her husband, John Wetherald, and married Legrand Buell in 1892. Supposedly her main motivation for wanting to marry Legrand was to convert him from alcoholism.  … Continue reading The Demise of John Wetherald

A Sermon Illustration Understood Two Different Ways

At the 1890 Free Methodist General Conference Clara Wetherald delivered an address on women’s ordination. Clara was a powerful public speaker. A woman who heard her preach in Montrose, Michigan, at the beginning of the twentieth century noted that Clara “Usually preached with tears running down her cheeks, although she was smiling all the time. She was a very attractive woman, and the tears did not interfere with her attractiveness.” Clara stood in front of the 1890 General Conference delegates and admitted that she knew the adversity facing women in ministry but felt they were particularly gifted to care for … Continue reading A Sermon Illustration Understood Two Different Ways

Clara (Miller) Wetherald’s Family Legacy

No one can ever accuse Clara Wetherald of living a boring life. From start to finish, her family narrative is filled with fascinating accounts – some true and some exaggerated. She was born Clara Miller June 20, 1849, in Erie County, Pennsylvania. Her parents, Esther and Harvey Miller, moved to Michigan when she was three. Clara had three other siblings, older brother and sister Sarah Miller and Commodore Perry Miller and a younger brother Frank Miller. Her parents’ marriage was rocky, and both Frank and Clara in later writings call their father “a wicked man.” This was probably due to … Continue reading Clara (Miller) Wetherald’s Family Legacy

Clara Wetherald A Methodist, Then a Free Methodist and Finally a Congregationalist

I lost Clara Wetherald last year. One day she is at the 1890 Free Methodist General Conference passionately defending her right to ordination, and then the next day she disappears. She briefly returns in 1891 to preach at a Free Methodist revival in the Holly/Germany Michigan area, and then, once again, she is gone. At first I thought she had died. Then that theory was thrown out when I found her obit in 1921. So, where did she disappear to for thirty years? I have solved the mystery with the help of an amazing group of descendants and friends who … Continue reading Clara Wetherald A Methodist, Then a Free Methodist and Finally a Congregationalist

Archival Research is Complicated: Additional Information on Ida Gage and Clara Wetherald

New feature: The 1890 Debate on Ordaining Women is now posted under the Debates on Women in Ministry Page. It can be downloaded in PDF, Kindle or epub formats. When I began my blog in May 2010 I began it as research tool. I really didn’t expect to get many readers. I was writing for myself and to help process my thoughts and ideas as I worked. Perhaps, my family would read it out of pity for me and say “Good job, great post,” but getting anyone outside of immediate family and a few close friends as readers wasn’t something … Continue reading Archival Research is Complicated: Additional Information on Ida Gage and Clara Wetherald

Hear Our Voices and Respect Our Ministries: Wetherald and Gage’s Defense of Their Work

Clara Wetherald was a gifted preacher and evangelist conducting revivals from coast to coast and turning thousands to Christ under her ministry. Her brother Frank Miller was led to Christ through her ministry and noted the massive impact of her work in her obituary. Ida Gage was also a gifted evangelist who preached in both Ohio and Michigan and also traveled to Colorado to hold revivals. She was responsible for establishing numerous church plants across Ohio during the early years of the Ohio conference. Both Gage and Wetherald were exceptional women, and while female evangelists were not uncommon in nineteenth … Continue reading Hear Our Voices and Respect Our Ministries: Wetherald and Gage’s Defense of Their Work