Peyton Adams Eubank
Missionary - Africa 1882 - 1892

Memories of a Missionary Tour of Duty in Africa: 1882 - 1892
by Laura Boardman Houchens Eubank
Wife of Rev. Peyton Adams Eubank
Missionaries To Nigeria 1882
Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, Richmond, VA.

Our Troubles Begin

The next morning, our trouble began; when we got ready to resume our journey we were told there was but one boat in the village for crossing the river and this had been hidden to prevent our crossing the river. This, I suppose because they objected to our making the trip when the roads were closed.

Well, what to do? The river was high and wide, and there was no way to go around. So our journey seemed to have come to a sudden end.

Finally, we were told that the people sometimes for lack of a boat, used a gourd. There were gourds in large numbers, in all shapes and sizes and for all uses. It made a convenient vessel for holding and carrying things. In some cases they grew about as a small wash tub. So they would take a large flat one, saw it in two parts, take out the pith, seal it together again, then when it was dry, it was light as a cork and would float beautifully. We were told that a woman there had one of these, and she cheerfully gave us permission to use it. This was a new experience for us. But we were at the end of our rope and ready to try anything. I removed my shoes, seated myself on the gourd, a man walked on each side steering, the gourd, and I "played safe" by putting an arm around the neck of each man. The water came to the neck of each man but I was safe above it, and they steered me safely over.

Some of those men were so faithful that I should hardly have feared to make the journey alone with them. Dear old Akitunde, I think would have defended me with his life. I wonder where he is today? My husband swam his horse across and we were safely over.

We had been joined at this village by a large party led by some Mohammedans who, I suppose, also wanted to take advantage of the protection of the white man. By this time, our party must have numbered 100. And this party crossing this river under these circumstances was one of the most interesting sights of my life. All they could do was wade and the water came up to their necks, and only the head was visible. When you remember that on each head was a big load; a trunk, a box of books, or clothes, a bed, maybe a small cock stove, or just anything that we would want in moving, you can imagine the strange sight. Babies or small children were held high above the water by the parents. We should have welcomed a Moses to stretch out his rod and cause the water to roll back. But he did not appear and the waters did not roll back. But neither did we have any Pharaohs along to fear, and so we passed over, I do not remember that there was any special alarm on the part of the people; and I think there was not a single mishap. Those of us who wore clothes, had to change them. Most of them did not. And so we resumed our journey.

The next night, we came to Eri Ado foot of. the hill. There was a very steep hill at the top of which was a village -- high it was quite inaccessible, and for ages the people had lived up there not at all in touch with the world below. They were supposed to have chosen this location for safety from their enemies. We saw none of these people but slept that night on the verandah of the chief man of the village who received us cordially. He told us he had a pig that he had intended for our entertainment but it had got out. (We were told that pig had a reputation of old. )

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The next night we slept at Eruwa. I have no idea of distance. I remember we were most uncomfortable here for want of water. The best we could get was like warm, pond water. One could imagine the ducks and geese. So many in it. And there were always and everywhere mosquitos! Well, of all places, here the next morning our carriers stuck and refused to go on. And would yield to no persuasion. The poor fellows were tired, of course. Well, this was Saturday and we just could bear the thought of spending Sunday and two more nights in such a. place, It was the Fourth of July and we declared our independence by leaving them and going on horseback without them. How we came to have two horses, I do not remember but we did. It was my first experience on a long trip, and oh! was I tired before the day was over. We were trying to reach Isehim, where the Methodists (Wesleyans) had a small mission; just a native man in charge with native accommodations But oh we were glad to get there and just rest. We attended their services on Sunday and rested fairly comfortably till Monday morning when just as we were going on our men, who had refused to go on with us, walked in with our goods, and all was well.


August 2000 - Notes - WRE Jr.

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