Joseph Emerson Cain
Sketch On The
Life Of J.E. Cain
Excerpts From J.P. Dick
Directions To Grave of J.E. Cain
Grave Pictures Of J.E. Cain
Brief Sketch On The Life Of J.E.
ELDER JOSEPH E. CAIN, minister of the
Christian Church, was born in Durham County, in the Dominion of Canada, in
1846, where he lived until fourteen years of age, when he removed with his
parents to Menard County, Ill. Owing to untoward circumstances, his
educational advantages were very limited. In fact, he never attended
school but one month after his fourteenth year, hence was compelled to
educate himself in the best way possible. Remaining in Menard County but a
few years, he removed to Girard, Macoupin County, where, in his nineteenth
year, he united with the church. At the age of twenty, he began preaching
the Gospel, working as an evangelist, in which work he continued five
years, with the exception of the eighteen months, when he was located at
Old Union, De Witt Co., Ill. In 1871, he located at Mount Pulaski, Logan
Co., Ill., and preached at Copeland and Lake Fork, alternately, for five
years. In 1876, he removed to Kansas, locating in Belle Plaine Township,
Sumner County, where he bought 160 acres of land in Section 8. After
finely improving this land in all respects, including the setting out of
250 apple trees and 900 peach trees of fine quality, and 2,000 forest
trees, he sold it, and is now a resident of Bell Plaine, where he owns
business and resident property. He was married to Miss Clara A. Erwin, of
Menard Co., Ill, in 1867, and has three children - Emma O., John Byron
(both living) and Anna L. (deceased). Mrs. Cain and her daughter, Emma O.,
are also members of the Christian Church. Elder Cain has been diligent in
his work, and is noted for his promptness and energy. During the first
nine years of his ministerial life, he never missed an appointment, and
during his ministration has church of 1,200 members, and has united in the
holy bonds of wedlock about seventy-five couple (sic). His parents
are both natives of England, and now reside in Belle Plaine Township. His
father is a hale, hearty gentleman of about sixty-four years of age, with
good prospects of many years of vigor and usefulness, but his mother's
health is poor. His parents are both members of the Christian Church. The
subject of this biography is the youngest living child. Considering the
obstacles that he was compelled to overcome in early life, his attainments
are grand, and judging of the future by the past, his career for good and
usefulness can hardly be estimated.
After the death of his
first wife, Clara, he remarried. Zoda Fisher Smith, was born in Champaign,
Ohio, the daughter of Samuel Fisher and Deborah Barnhiser. She, too, had
been widowed after first husband, Reason Smith, passed away. (Note: Zoda
and Reason had married in Sangamon, IL, about 1883.)
In his lifetime Joseph E. Cain served for a
period as editor of the periodical The Christian Leader. He died
August 13, 1918, and is buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, Wichita,
-Most of this information comes from William
G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, Sumner County, Part 10
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Excerpts From J.P. Dick*
The following is copied from records of the Church of
Christ, Butler County, 1886.
“Whereas, we the brethren and sisters of the
Church of Christ scattered abroad. Greetings (whose names appear upon the
record) are desirous of promoting the cause of Christianity in our Community:
and in order that we might become more efficient in the cause of the Master and
the salvation of our fellow-men and the proclamation of the gospel of our Lord
and Saviour, Jesus Christ, therefore, resolved:
That we organize ourselves into a Christian
Church, taking the Bible and the Bible alone as our rule of faith and practice
and the Lord Jesus Christ as head of the church.
On motion of John E. Nicholson, Brother Jeremiah
Love was called to the chair and Brother Joseph Haskell was appointed
secretary. On motion of Brother John E. Nicholson to repair from the
Cumberland-Presbyterian Church, to the residence of Brother Rollins for the
purpose of organizing -- motion carried.
Therefore, we the brethren and sisters of the
Church of Christ did upon the 13th day of November A.D. 1886 meet in solemn
convention at the residence of brother Rollins and after the Word of the Lord
and singing, we all bowed down before God, and Brother J. E. Nicholson led us in
After prayer we gave to each other our hand, and
to God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ our body, soul, and spirit, over his
sacred and holy Word, pledging ourselves solemnly and sacredly to walk in his
statutes and keep all his commandments.
We then proceeded to elect by ballot the
following brethren as officers of the church:
Elders: Jeremiah Love, J. E. Haskell.
Deacons: John Fry Jr. and Franklin Primm.
Clerk, William W. Guthrie.
Treasurer: William Bradford.
House-keeper, Elias Rollins.”
The George Farnsworth family met with this group and
transferred their membership there September 14, 1890. Later he was chosen as
“an elder which office he fulfilled faithfully” until his death February 6, 1903
(quote from his obituary). At that time Isaiah Stewart was appointed an elder
and served until his death in April, 1931.
Joseph Emerson Cain
The Church was fortunate in procuring an
excellent minister, Joseph Emerson Cain, who preached for them twice monthly for
more than a quarter of a century. He preached for the Bethel Church near
Whitewater, Kansas, and the Richland Congregation west of Douglass, the other
two Sundays of the month. Nathan Wright preached for the Richland Church, also,
as had Elder Yard, previously.
Following are quotations from the obituary of
Joseph E. Cain whose death came in 1918:
“He was possessed of an eloquence and a grace as
a speaker and as a fellow-man that would have been popular in the greatest
pulpits and before the largest congregations of the land” (He was invited to fill one of the
largest pulpits in Wichita.)“His sermons were logical, eloquent,
pleasing and convincing. No minister, perhaps in this part of the state officiated in
more baptisms, marriages and funerals than he.”
Members of the church have said, “He
had the wisdom to say the right thing at the right time, in any circumstance.”
Brother Cain was a dignified man who always
appeared in the pulpit in a formal black Prince Albert coat. He felt his
responsibility to both God and man to “speak as the oracles of God.” I recall
that often he would say, “Thus saith the Lord,” and “Whatsoever the Master says
do, do it.”
Joseph E. Cain was Canadian born but, with his
family, migrated into the states when he was a young man. He was educated in
Dentistry but considered it secondary to preaching the unsearchable riches of
The following is quoted (copied) from an article
from his own pen entitled “How I Became a Preacher,” which obviously was a
requested treatise as it began:
“I do not know as I can state with clearness how
I became a preacher. I must have been to the honor born. Coming into the world
of a family of zealous Wesleyans, aglow with religious fire kindled in Old
England -- a family that had never failed of at least one preacher to represent
it as far back as their records extended. I cannot remember the day when I did
not feel that the mantle was to fall on me.
I passed beyond the traditions of my fathers . .
. . Early in my nineteenth year I heard the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ for
the first time and reared as I had been it was a revelation . . .
My enlightenment came through the apparently
accidental meeting of an old disciple who in return for a ride in his carriage
that saved me miles of dusty walking, exacted from me a promise to attend ‘from
beginning to end’ the first meeting held within my reach by the Christians.
The opportunity presented itself sooner than I
expected when D. D. Miller came to Girard, Illinois, then my home.
The preaching so essentially different from all
teaching I had ever received, and which I hesitated not to pronounce false . . .
I fought with all the power in me.
I soon found the conquest an unequal one--and I
appealed for help in defense of the church which had dedicated me to the Lord
and to the preacher in charge who had the reputation of being the deepest
theologian, as well as one of the brightest men in that region, besides hgaving
served the state in the Legislature he had been honored by a seat in the
To this man I went, Testament in hand, without a
doubt of his ability and willingness to help me, but I found him as weak as a
broken bull-rush when pressed by the truth, and pressed he was, for by this time
it was a question of life and death to me. My repeated coming wearied him
until, upon my sixth perhaps seventh, visit he angrily repulsed me and informed
me in words emphatic, if not elegant, not to come any more with my questions.
God makes the wrath of man to praise him, and so
it surely proved in this case, as my faith in God’s word increased and
strengthened. these interviews, especially the last, loosened my moorings and
gave me courage to take the decisive step and my surrender to the authority of
Jesus quickly followed. the night following the day of my burial with Christ in
baptism and resurrection to new life, urged by Brother Miller I gave an
exhortation at the conclusion of his discourse, closing with an invitation to
which two penitents responded and confessed the Saviour. This confirmed my
faith that I was to preach the gospel, though for some time I continued to look
for additional assurance of my call. I had heard a leading preacher of our
family tell how the Lord had called him by the blast of a trumpet in the night.
I lay awake nights -- hoping it would come but no sound was heard. I began to
inquire in my mind what need there was for a special ‘call’ to a work where
there was work in abundance and right at my hand. I decided to enter the field
that I saw all around me ‘white unto harvest’ and consecrate my untried
powers--whatever they might prove--my heart, my life, my all to making known the
greatness of that cause which had delivered my soul from confusion and death,
and had set my feet where I could stand and feel no fear.
And now looking backward over the years that
have come and gone since those beginning days, years so filled with joys and
sorrows, hopes and fears, ecstancies and agonies, I can say, without
reservation, were the choice to be made again I would choose the same work
rather than all the wealth and honor this world has to bestow. the fellowship
of the saints, the esteem of co-workers in the field, the noblest men on
earth--and, above all, the approbation of God, is wealth and honor beyond
earth’s computation” “Joseph E. Cain” (from a clipping taken from the Christian
Leader, pub. in Indianapolis, Ind.)
Little Walnut Chapel
After a few years at Cumberland, the Little
Walnut Chapel was built one-half mile east onb the southwest corner of the
intersection. Above the double doors, facing east, was a section of glass upon
which was painted in large gold letters, “CHRISTIAN CHAPEL 1892.” Surrounded by
trees, both evergreen and deciduous, the white Chapel was attractive, and the
church was happy to have its own house.
The doors were flung open, literally, beckoning
worshippers from far and near. The Christians there had nothing to offer except
God’s Word with exhortation to accept and exemplify its principles in their
lives. They assembled together to commemorate the Lord’s death, as he
requested, to study His Word, and to offer praises of adoration, thanksgiving,
and supplication in prayer and in song, every first day of the week when there
was no preacher the same as on preaching days.
The singing at “Little Walnut” was always
acapella, “singing and making melody in the hearts to the Lord.”
"Cyril Emerson, a second son, was born to Dick and Mattie
Stewart January 22, 1900. He was named “Emerson” for their beloved minister,
Joseph Emerson Cain." -Page 97
*The previous quotations are taken from a book by
V. Stewart-Novak entitled “J. P. ‘Dick’” -- It is a family history of J. P.
“Dick” Stewart. The book was loaned to me by his grandson, Cyril Emerson
Stewart, Jr., a member of the church of Christ in Augusta, KS. He and his
father were given their middle name in honor of Joseph Emerson Cain. Special
thanks are extended to Joe Slater for making this information available.
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Directions To The Grave Of Joseph E. Cain
At 1000 N. Hillside in Wichita, KS, turn
east into the entrance of Maple Grove Cemetery. The office will be on your
right; I recommend that you go inside and ask for a map of the cemetery so you
can find section "F" more easily. The sections are marked by
granite posts with letters engraved on the top of the post and numbers engraved
on the side.
After entering the cemetery, proceed north toward the Abbey (large building).
Turn right at the first opportunity, keeping the Abbey (in section
"A") on your left. Go across the next intersection; section
"H" will be on your left, and section "O" on your right.
At the next intersection turn left, then immediately back to the right again.
Now section "F will be on your left, and section "G" on your
right. Watch for a granite post with "F" on the top and the
number "8" engraved on the side. A few feet further down the
road on your right will be a granite post with "G" on top and
"2" on the side. Stop by the G2 post. Look for a large stone with SPEER on it at the edge of the
"F" section. The Cain stone is about four rows behind the SPEER
While at this cemetery be sure to visit
the grave of Homer E. Moore.
Note Of Thanks Is Extended To Joe Slater, Preacher For The Church Of
Christ In Augusta, Kansas. He Willingly Drove Over To Wichita, Kansas
And Found The Grave Of Joseph E. Cain, Took Pictures, Had Them
Developed And Sent Them To Me For Production Of This Site. He Also Has
Provided The Good Directions To The Grave Below.
View Larger Map
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Maple Grove Cemetery
Zoda (Wife Of J.E. Cain)
Oct 2, 1853
Jan. 3, 1928
July 26, 1846
Web editor note: In February, 2012, it was my privilege to visit the grave of Joseph E. Cain. I was invited to take part in the annual Affirming The Faith Lectureship in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Getting into the area early, I was afforded the opportunity to put about 2000 miles on a rental car in order to locate graves of gospel preachers and church leaders of yesteryear in a wide area. My first day I was able to visit the grave of J.E. Cain. If you visit the cemetery, be sure to also visit the grave of another gospel preacher and editor, Homer E. Moore.
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