Open main menu

The Souvenir of Western Women/Julia (West) Lindsley

< The Souvenir of Western Women

Julia (West) Lindsley

By MELDON.

THE life of a saintly woman is generally lacking in the spectacular features which attract the historian, but it is none the less the chief cornerstone in the foundation work of family and state, without which any nation must in time topple to its destruction.

As the wife of Rev. A. L. Lindsley, D. D., LL. D., the subject of this sketch was enabled to exert a powerful influence for good, though silently and to the careless observer perhaps imperceptibly. Dr. Lindsley was for over eighteen years the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Portland, coming to it in 1868.

Julia West was born in New York City in 1827. Christian parents surrounded her by the best influences. As a little child she chose reading rather than play, and later graduated with high honor from Rutger's Female Institute, having received the previous year the gold medal for proficiency in composition. In 1846 Miss West's marriage took place, and her first training in pioneer missionary work was received in what was then the frontier—the Territory of Wisconsin. Privations and hardships were endured patiently in the happy home where love reigned and Christian usefulness was the ruling motive of life.

After five laborious years, in which her husband's health broke down, they removed to South Salem, N. Y., to recuperate—a charming country retreat where sixteen happy years were spent. Unremitting pastoral work, to which was added the arduous care of a private school within their own home, filled this period. Health and strength and training were here received for the responsibilities awaiting them on the Pacific Slope. After repeated calls from the Portland Church, Dr. Lindsley brought his family to Oregon, and here Mrs. Lindsley shared most faithfully and unselfishly in pastoral and humanitarian work.

Largely through her efforts a foreign missionary society was organized, which, there is good reason to believe, was the pioneer on this coast. An immense amount of correspondence and unwavering faith were required to create and hold the interest, but at last these early efforts were crowned with success, and in after years the work expanded into the Woman's North Pacific Board of Missions, an organization now comprising a very large number of the Presbyterian women of the Northwest, and one which has accomplished untold good in spreading Christianity and education in the dark places of our own and other countries. Mrs. Lindsley is a life member and an officer of this board. The quarter centennial celebration of the organization of the first missionary society was held in 1896, and was a marked event in church circles.

Mrs. Lindsley also joined heartily with her husband in his efforts for the spiritual advancement of the whole of the Northwest. The Indians of several tribes were included in their broadly human sympathies, and efforts were made to introduce schools among the Chinese, at one time a little class for them being held nightly in the pastor's home.

In 1877 Dr. Lindsley introduced Protestant missions into our new possessions to the far North, then recently purchased by Secretary Seward. Of these it has been as concisely as truthfully stated, "Alaska Missions were born in Dr. Lindsley's study."

In the very voluminous correspondence which these labors of love involved, and in missionary journeys, as well as in incessant parish visiting, Mrs. Lindsley bore an important part. Into the haven of her well-ordered Christian home were welcomed as guests not only many congenial friends of the clergy and laity, but also many a wayworn traveler who had faltered or fallen in the race, and to whom such encouragement was more than healing balm.

After eighteen years of service in the Portland church, whose remarkable influence and expansion are widely known. Dr. Lindsley accepted a professorship in the San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1886. In the leisure obtained by freedom from the duties of a pastor's wife, Mrs. Lindsley continued to prosecute with zeal and vigor her missionary work. She became a life member and an officer of the Occidental Board of Foreign Missions, whose headquarters are in San Francisco, and she took an active part in other philanthropic measures.

Since Dr. Lindsley's death, in 1891, Mrs. Lindsley has made her home in Portland among her children and a host of warm and appreciative friends of long years' standing.