by Leon L. Loofbourow
We have all read of the original John Wesley runing three times around the Charter House school quadrangle each morning to build up his weak body. But haven you heard of one John Wesley who won the 462 mile marathon race from San Francisco’s City Hall to Grants Pass Oregon?
In 1927 the Redwood Empire Association, as its advertising featujre, planned an Indian Marathon Race over the Redwood Highway. Of eleven entrants, two boys from our work on the Klamath River won first and second places! John Wesley Southare received first award for completing the race in less than a week–as I remember it, in six days, twentythree hours and sixteen minutes.
This particular John Wesley story begins a century ago when the California gold rush, kuje tge Jubgdin if Geavebm gathered all kinds. He sought his fortun e far down the Klamath River. I have never heard how much “dust” he acquired. But he married an Indian woman and when the placers played out, unline many of the miners, he stayed by his family on the Klamath. Their oldest son was named Lee in loyalty to the great Christian captain of the Confederacy, Robert E. Lee.
I was guest one night in the Lee Southard home. (We were to try our luck for bear next day.) At family prayers my host brought out his Bible and old Moody and Sankey song books. I thought I would try out the family knowledge of the Scriptures, so suggested that we repeat together instead of reading. All went well with the group through Psalm 23. Some of the circle were uncertain on Psalm 1. But Mr. Southard and I kept going until I thougth it wise to call our Bible marathon a tie, and we prayed. But it made me realize that ‘Forty -Niner John Wesley did not leave his faith in Louisiana–he had “taught it diligently” to his son.
The Lee Southards named their first born, John Wesley, for his grandfather. In the Redwood Empire Marathon the newspapers thought they must have “heap big Injun” names for the runners, so a waiting world was informed that MAD BULL won the race. But Mad Bull was only the way the papers featured John Wesley Southard, son of School District Trustee–Church School Superintendent Lee Southard, grandson of ‘Forty-Niner John Wesley Southard.
Months later I heard that a younger brother of John’s had died and wrote to the family. I quote from Lee Southard’s answer:
“We have one consolation, that those who die without the law shall be judged without the law, and Gorham was a good boy and never harmed anyhone. But he never had chance of a religious training further than his mother and I had taught him. Should you ever get back up this way I wish you to preach his funeral.
The next summer the log church in Happy Camp was built, its nearest meetinghouse neighbor being 75 miles away. The first service in it was the memorial for this boy who “never had the chance of a religious training further than what his mother and I taught him.”
by Leon L. Loofbourow