From Happy Camp History by Judy E. Bushy
By Rev Dr. Leon L. Loofbourow (published in Search of God’s Gold 1950)
We have all read of the original John Wesley running three times around the Charter House school quadrangle each morning to build up his weak body. But have 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 feature, planned an Indian marathon race over the Redwood Highway. Of eleven entrants, two boys from our Methodist work on the Klamath River won first and second places. John Wesley Southard received first award for completing the race in less than a week—as I remember it, in 6 days, 23 hours and 16 minutes.
This particular John Wesley story begins a century ago when the California gold rush, like the Kingdom of Heaven, gathered all kinds. He sought his fortune 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, unlike most 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 trying our luck for bear next day.) At family prayers my host brought out his Bible and some old Moody and Sankey songbooks. I thought I would try out the family knowledge of the Scriptures, so suggested we repeat together instead of reading. All went well with all the group through Psalm 23. Some of the circle were uncertain on Psalm 1. But Mr. Southard and I kept going until I thought it wise to call our Bible marathon a tie, and we prayed. Bur it made me realize that “Forty-niner John Wesley did not leave his religion 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. 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 brother of John’s died and wrote to the family…
The next summer the log church at Happy Camp was built, its nearest meeting house neighbor being 75 miles away. The first service in it was the memorial for his boy who “never had a chance of religious training further than what his mother and I taught him.”
Note from Mrs. Bushy: That service mentioned by Pastor Loofbourow was 93 years ago on August 5, 2028.They sang “old hymns of faith” as they met together under the stars that evening. While the log walls were up, there was no roof yet. This is an account of the circuit riding preacher Dr. Leon L Loofbourow who came to Happy Camp as soon as a road came through to Happy Camp, and it didn’t go any further yet at that time either!! He came because he had a vision for building a Gospel witness here to show that God is at work in Happy Camp.
The “Little Log Chapel in the Hills”, now is the home of the Happy Camp Bible Church, 64301 Second Avenue in Happy Camp. Pastor Stan and Virginia Poeschel have recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary–39 years spent serving in Happy Camp at the Happy Camp Bible Church.