Our Eureka Church History
|~ Chapter 5 ~
The Pipe Organ
Up until 1943 the church had had only a piano in the sanctuary for the musical activities of the services. Then on May 1, 1943, the church board was informed by Ernest Klemp about the possibility of purchasing a pipe organ for $1,200.00. A Mr. Swan who lived in Eureka was a builder of pipe organs and said he would build one for our church. He had been a member of John Philip Sousa’s band when he was younger, and was a very knowledgeable musician. It was voted to purchase the organ and the pipes that Mr. Swan was currently building, and Klemp was to arrange for the $1,200.00. The board was asked for pledges, and this was the result:
Leonard Day $100.00 Bill Williams $50.00
Henry Nelson 100.00 Walter House 50.00
Joe Kelso 100.00 M. E. Cookson 50.00
Dorothy Beck 100.00 Janie Price 50.00
Ernest Klemp 100.00 Sadie Klemp 25.00
Group Sale 100.00 Dorcas Society 25.00
Northern California Conference $300.00
They were well on their way toward reaching their goal.
The church board minutes reflect the excitement at the prospects of having a “real” pipe organ for our church: “After the organ was presented and pledges made, the minutes (of the previous board meeting) were read and accepted. They had almost been forgotten in the eagerness to buy the organ.”
About a month later on June 5, the board met to discuss where to put the organ, thinking to close the door at the back of the choir loft and put the console in the corner. They all seemed agreeable to this plan.
Then on June 12 another meeting was called and the board was told some were not in favor of closing that door, but would be in favor of making another door between the rostrum and the organ.
On June 19 there was a motion to leave the organ in its present position until after the war when materials would be available, then move it to a better position. This motion carried.
The back, or west side of the church had an upstairs where there were two rooms. One of these was the Primary Division. Behind the east wall of that Division was where the pipes were. The wall in front of the pipes was open to the sanctuary with a heavy fabric or a screen over them. Memory seems to recall there were something like 300 pipes.
I recently wrote to my brother, Gary Klemp, in Bangkok, for his recollections about the pipe organ. He said he remembered our dad telling about some of the members going to Mr. Swan’s workshop on Harrison Avenue, to hear the organ before it was completed. They reported that it had “a very sweet sound.”
Gary also remembers many years later when this organ was replaced by another organ, that our first pipe organ was purchased by Jim Mearns, music professor at Humboldt State College. The last that Gary heard about the organ, it was in storage someplace up at Humboldt State. Professor Mearns told Gary one time that if he had thought Gary might have wanted it, he would have given it to him. Gary also said our dad had one time considered buying it from the church and installing it in one of his chicken houses! But that didn’t happen either!
Our main organist, and only organist for a number of years, was Dorothy Beck. She was a piano teacher, but adapted readily to our new organ. When Dr. and Mrs. Wells Carey moved to Eureka, Dr. Carey also played.
The next organ the church got was a church model Hammond organ. This was in the mid-50’s when there was an influx of several young families to the church, several of whom were quite musical and probably thought Mr. Swan’s organ wasn’t as modern as they were used to. Gary writes that this organ was built for playing jazz, even though it was called a “church model.”
Eric B. Hare
Some of you may know the name Eric B. Hare, missionary, and author of many children’s books about mission life in Burma. At the beginning of World War II the Hare family were missionaries in Burma. But soon after the war started, they and the other mission families were driven out of the country. After Hares escaped, and were able to, they returned to California, and Elder Hare was asked to become the Director of the Missionary Volunteer Department of Northern California Conference.
Elder Hare had some history here in Humboldt County. His mother, Henrietta Johnson, had been a teacher at the Dows Prairie School in the early 1880’s. One day an Adventist evangelist, Elder N. C. McClure, came to her classroom and asked if he could hold some meetings in her room. She gave him permission, but decided to attend to see if what he taught was the truth or not! She was a staunch member of the Church of England, and had been since childhood. After several meetings she was quite impressed by what she heard from Elder McClure.
A few days later, there was a school holiday, and Henrietta went down to Ferndale to visit friends. When she got there she discovered there was another Adventist preacher, Elder John Loughborough, holding meetings there in Ferndale, and her friends invited her to attend these meetings with them.
After attending these meetings, she became convinced of the truth, and was baptized at Ferndale December 10, 1884. After this she was asked to come to Healdsburg College (forerunner to PUC) to study, which she did.
Soon after her arrival in Healdsburg there was some excitement among the students about a new student coming all the way from New Zealand to attend college. “Just fancy,” said one student, “all the way from New Zealand!” “Yes, from the ends of the earth!”
“What kind of people live in New Zealand anyway?” “Maoris, of course,” someone answered. “I wonder if his face will be tattooed?” Thus went the conversations about the new student.
This new student was Robert Hare, and he was not a Maori, nor was his face tattooed! He did have a beard, and was a nice looking young man.
Since Henrietta was new, but had been a teacher, she was asked to help Mr. Hare to get acquainted with the campus, help to get his classes lined up, etc. Robert had decided he wanted to become a minister, so Henrietta introduced him to some of the professors’ Whose classes he would be in.
During the summer Robert, along with other ministerial students, was assigned to work in the northern part of California, namely, Blue Lake. When he told Miss Johnson where his assigned territory was, and that it was only a few miles from Eureka, she asked him to visit her family in Eureka. “And tell the folks at Dow’s Prairie that I still love them” she said.
Robert had good success with his meetings and book sales in Blue Lake, and had 5 converts. The next summer, 1887, he was assigned to Arcata, where he also had a good response to his meetings.
During the school years at Healdsburg, the friendship between Robert and Henrietta grew and soon developed into love! Robert finished the ministerial course in 1888. He was ordained to the gospel ministry on May 22, in the Oakland, California church. And that afternoon he and Henrietta were married at the church by dear Elder McClure.
The next day Robert and Henrietta sailed from San Francisco for New Zealand. You can read more of the story in the book “An Irish Boy and God,” in the chapter titled “California Bride.” I have this book in the Story Library in the Fireside Room at the church, and the author is Robert and Henrietta’s son, Eric B. Hare.
As mentioned earlier, after the Hare family returned to California and he was the Director of the MV Department, he made several trips to Eureka to preach, and he also visited our school. He was a fabulous storyteller! He went out to Redwood Creek for Junior Camp in the summers also.
In April 1944 Elder Hare was in Eureka, and he preached on Sabbath on “Thousand Miles of Miracles,” about his escape from Burma. And that night the Eureka Junior High School Auditorium was rented by the area churches and he spoke there to a full house. His subject was “Bombed Out of Burma,” his experience in escaping from Rangoon.
Eureka he was usually the guest of Mr. & Mrs. M. E. Cookson, and one time the Cooksons took him to Dows Prairie to see the schoolhouse where his mother had taught and first heard the Advent message. What a thrill it was for Elder Hare to see this schoolhouse and to realize how the Lord had been leading in their lives for so many years.