One never knows when one will stumble upon a rare document. I was visiting with a longtime friend of my wife’s family. He is a retired mathematics prof and I am a clergy person. As we were getting acquainted and asking questions he found out I was a Baptist. He shared that he had an ancestor who was a Baptist minister. Then he mentioned he had this nineteenth-century pastor’s diary. I was very interested in reading it. He said he would give me a copy. I was excited.
Eliakim Newcomb Archibald was born at South Branch, Upper Stewiacke, Colchester County, NS, on April 9, 1836. Concerning his background of faith and denomination he wrote:
Each of my grandparents raised 12 children & as both embraced Baptist sentiments about the same time under the labors of the missionary fathers, Munroe & McLearn, they naturally mingled in worship & in social gatherings & intermarried.
At the age of seven, he received a “nice New Testament” for committing the second chapter of Hebrews to memory. His pastor Anthony V. Dimock, made the presentation.
At age sixteen (1852) E. N. was converted under the ministry of Rev. David McKeen.
About the last of March 1860, he set out for Wolfville, to study. He wrote: “Here I spent four happy years.” Graduated in June 1865. E. N. loved Acadia and in later life referred to it as “classic ground.”
While at Acadia he preached his first sermon in November of 1863, back of Gaspereaux in a little place called Black Rock.
Through the influence of Rev. M. P. Freeman, he was directed to North River, P.E.I. immediately after graduation. He became their pastor and was called to ordination, Jan. 6, 1866. Here he remained for five years.
It was while he was at North River that he came to know Miss Cynthia Ann “Annie” Bradshaw, “a woman of fine intellect and noble Christian spirit”
It was not until the autumn of 1866 that I formed an intimate acquaintance which led to our marriage, May 28th, 1867. I look upon this Providence as one of the greatest of all my earthly blessings. I felt then that it was the hand of God in answer to prayer.
E.N. and Annie soon had a daughter and then a son. Annie’s health became poor so their doctor recommended a change of climate. They sold everything and moved near Chicago, Illinois.
They pastored in two different towns in three years and were blessed with 50 souls converted.
During this time Mary their oldest died. Another daughter, Mabel, was born. Annie’s health improved so they moved back to Nova Scotia.
The Home Mission Board recommended they move to Shelburne County. God blessed their ministry with an estimated 100 souls. Two more sons came along, Adoniram Judson and Arthur Crawley.
A call by telegram from Bedeque, P.E.I., about Christmas time, led them to go to Annie’s hometown to become their pastor. They arrived on Jan. 1, 1879. During this time they had 169 additions to the church.
They were called briefly to Sackville, NS before a call to Lunenburg, NS was accepted in 1891.
By the end of 1899 E.N.’s health was such that he was “compelled to resign and rest from care and mental toil.” They moved to Wolfville. Annie died first in 1901. On the morning of June 7, 1903, Eliakim Newcomb Archibald passed peacefully away.
In an obituary, it was noted that:
Brother Archibald was an earnest and faithful servant of God. He chose the hard places for service rather than the smooth and easy pastorate if there are any. His talents were of an exalted character. He was earnest, faithful, self-sacrificing. During his ministry, he was instrumental in the organization of several churches and the building up of a number of other places of worship. It has been computed that over one thousand persons were converted and led into the Christian life as the result of his labour.
This diary for me was an amazing find. How many other documents like this are yet to be discovered? More could be said of Mabel and her missionary work in India. Their sons also were pastors.
Contributed by Rev. Dr. Dan Green
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