I transcribed my Greatgrandfather's autobiography and I am sharing it here because I think it is interesting. I hope my siblings and nieces and nephews will enjoy reading it.
Great Grandfather William Warren Embree
Married to Elizabeth Jane Carlisle
William had several siblings.
Father of Iris Ethel and Grace Ellen
Iris married Abe Flaming
Grandfather of Paul, Ted and Anna Flaming
Grace married Charles Grace; the adopted 2 children.
Great Grandfather of Rebecca, Victor, Roger, David and Rhonda, as well as their cousins: PJ, May Jean and Gary, ... (I forgot their names)
Great Great Grandfather of Nathan, Amanda, Lori, Nicholas, Elissa, and the various grandchildren and great grand children of Anna (Flaming) Wood...
Preface to the autobiography, sermon and poems of William Warren Embree
The preface to this writing is to leave an account in a small way of my life to my daughters, and to show that if there is a determination in the heart that one can do even great things. No one ever worked under greater handicap than I have: left alone at a very tender age, with no one to guide or encourage; yet, I learned two good trades and got a good education and in a manner that very few would have ever undertaken. I do not wish or say this to brag but I know that if one will set their heart on anything, with God’s help and confidence in one’s self that there is nothing that will keep him from doing what he wills to do.
Had I centered my mind on wealth I believe that I would or could have been a very rich man. But wealth never did appeal to me, perhaps because I was always poor and did not miss what wealth could mean to one. Yet it is not the wealthy that have done the great things of the world, nor is wealth always to the smartest men. Many of our best men in America have been very poor and with very little chance from a money standpoint but who gained the respect and love of the nation. The greatest thing that I ever did was when I gave my heart to God. All else that I have done in this life will soon be forgotten, but this never for God never forgets. These seventeen years of service to God are the best years of my life.
These poems are dedicated to my two daughters Iris and Grace. May God bless you.
From your father, W.W. Embree.
Autobiography of William Warren Embree (1868-19..)
In a little old log-cabin in Adams County, Illinois on a Saturday morning, Nov. 28, 1868, the writer of this article saw the light of day for the first time; and while I was the honored guest of that home. Still I am wholly dependent on others for the account of my birth; but I was like all others of my kind, I soon grew and in a short time began to take an interest in my surroundings.
When I was four years old, father one day announced his intention of emigrating (migrating) to Kansas. I was very happy for by this time the wanderlust was well developed in me for a boy of four years. Well do I remember the day that we should start. The wagon was covered and all was loaded in and off we set for the far west. We crossed the Mississippi River at Quincy and headed westward for Kansas. The trip was a hard one on all of us and especially on mother as she had had a baby just one month old the day we started. Many were the hardships that came to us on the road, but we finally landed in Allen Co., Kansas on April 1st, 1873. We stayed a short time with my uncle, and then went farther out where homestead land was more plentiful. Bad luck seems to have been with us for the first year; we lost our crop with drought, and one of our horses died. Father traded the other horse for a yoke of oxen so we were able to farm the next year. This was year to be remembered by all that passed through it. It is known as the grasshopper year. Truly it was well named. I remember very clearly, although I was only six years old, but it was something never to be forgotten by those who saw it. They (grasshoppers) came in great clouds, and when they settled on the ground they just covered it. In three days time there was nothing left that was green. Even the leaves were all eaten from the trees. Stock starved for lack of grass and not a stock of corn was left. What little we had when we came was gone and father was left to hunt and trap for a living.
In the spring of 1876 we went to Missouri as mother’s father and mother lived there. So we landed in Kirkville, Missouri without a dollar. It was hard sledding for Father, as he had so many little ones to feed and wages were very low.
We soon moved out in the country and cut cord wood for fifty cents a cord, and worked at whatever mink, coons and skunks, as well as most men. Also, Father would give to me his rifle when he sent me into the woods alone. When I was nine years old I fell from a horse and broke my hip, which always gave me much pain, as it was never set.
At eleven years old, when my father died I was thrown out into the world to sink or swim. I will not try to describe to you what I suffered the first few years that I was working out. Up to the time that Father died I had not be in school as I was not strong, and now there was very little chance for me for I must work to supply food for Mother and the younger children.
When I was fifteen years old I went to school for three months, and that was the last school I ever attended, in all I think that I went about nine months. I was a good reader and got the four fundamental rules of arithmetic; that was all that i knew from books.
I then went to work in a small mill and worked there for two years, and there I learned a little about engines. Then, when I was eighteen, I decided to try the West again. To decide with me was to act. So I began to make plans to go. I did not at this time have a dollar. I was cutting wood for .50 per cord to supply food for mother and my two sisters who were at home with us. But go I must, so I found a young man who wanted to see the West. I gave him a glowing account of the things that we could do out west, and I agreed to bear all of the expenses for the trip if he would haul us out with his team. He had eleven dollars and we were to pay him back when we got through and got work; which I did. There was Mother and my two sisters and myself. So we started from Missouri on the first of March 1866. Had a winter drive with lots of snow and mud. I walked all the way out as the team was so poor that some days we only went six or seven miles. When we reached the Missouri River our money was all spent except one dollar, which it took to cross the river, but we were in Nebraska, and we got a job husking corn for a week, and then pulled on, arriving in Dawson Co. on the 2 of April, after a thirty-one days drive. I will not attempt to describe the trip, but will say that it was the hardest trip that I ever made in my life. But I was in the land of promise so why worry. I soon found work on the few ranches that were in the country. I, like all other boys, wanted to be a cowboy. Well, I did ride for the most part of two years, but soon learned that I would not get rich in that line of work. In the spring of 1890 there was a meeting in our schoolhouse and I went, and there God got a hold of me and I was saved. I was, at this time, 21 years old and I felt the call of God to preach his word; but I put it aside as I felt that I had so little education. I decided then to go to Washington; it was yet a territory. I had two uncles living at Ilwaco. Seattle was just a small burg and Portland was very small, nothing on the east side but timber and brush. How glad I was that I got saved when I arrived in Ilwaco, Washington. Here I met with many temptations, but thanks be to God he gave me power to say “No.” Again, I went into the mills and learned more about engines as that was to be my work. But after a year in the West I returned to Nebraska. The fall of 1891 I went with a thrasher until my hip, that was broken years ago, now gave me so much pain that I was forced to quit.
Then I decided that I would learn a trade, so took up the photographing trade as my chosen profession. I bought a small outfit and went to work to learn the trade. I had up to this time never known what failure meant, so in this as in all other I must win and win I did for it was through this that I met the one that was to be my wife, Miss Elizabeth Jane Carlisle. And the one that would supply to me what I had missed in education in my younger days. She was teaching our school, and I took the picture of the school. This proved the way to an acquaintance, which soon ripened into love and we were married July the 4th, 1892. I was now 23 years old. That year I farmed but did not make very much so I decided to follow my trade, which I did for ten years.
Our first little girl was born to us on the 21st of July, 1893, Iris Ethel. This meant that I must earn more as there was one more mouth to feed. 1894 was a drought year again and times were very hard. In 1895 on May 19 our second little girl was born to us, Grace Ellen. Times were very hard and I worked at any thing that I could get and took pictures when I could get any to take.
That winter of 1895 my wife told me that if I would study that I could teach school in the spring. I have often wondered whether she believed it; but more to please her I agreed to study. She was a good teacher and I was a fertile ground to work on. In this, as in all other things I was determined to win. So I just threw my whole self into the work and on the 22nd of December,1895, I took my first lesson. It took my first lesson. It took fourteen studies to get a certificate in Nebraska, so I got the books; many of them I had never seen before and went to work to master them. I worked hard and in just three months from the day I began I wrote a good second grade certificate where many that had more experience failed. I mention this because I know that if one will do his best with God to help, nothing will be too hard for him. I had here done the impossible from a human standpoint, but I continued to study and to study and to seek help from God. I did not teach that year but went back to my trade and continued in it until the fall of 1890. Then my health failed so that I was forced to give up my business. I had done well and learned the trade so well that I took 4th place at the World’s Fair in Omaha in 1899. When my health failed I sold out and then went on the road as a salesman for a wholesale house in Omaha. I worked for them for two years while I gained back my health (to God be all the glory), and in1902 we decided to come into the far west. I came to Tacoma, then to Spokane, and then to Oregon City. From there I went to Kelso, Washington. This was in 1903.
Here we both went out to teach school and I continued in this work for four years. This was the first time that I had been inside of a school since I was fifteen years old. In 1904 I wrote the second best certificate in the country. We then bought land and farmed a little, then in 1911 we went to Idaho. In 1918 we moved to Portland Oregon. I again took up engine work and my wife and both the daughters went to Westport. There I was first as assistant engineer. Wages were good and we were soon out of debt, but I lost my job and again came to Portland. Here I got a job as Chief Engineer at Bull Run mill and logging camp. I worked for this company for two years and fight months. When I went on the job I was in very poor health I had been for two years. The Dr. had given me no hope that I would ever be well again.
In this condition I began to think about my soul’s salvation. I had been saved, as I stated when I was 21, but like so many I had lost all that long ago, and now when I faced the future I had nothing to lean on but a memory of misdeeds and years wasted in sinful life. Yet, I knew that God was true and if I would call on Him that I should be saved. Yet, I hesitated because I could not bring myself to the thought of joining another church. I had so failed what time I had spent in the church that I hesitated to join another. The greatest question that confronted me is what could I do, and while pondering on this and praying that God would undertake for me—God out of Heaven spoke to me, and thanks be to God I knew Hid voice.
Then I began in earnest, just as I had in learning a trade I put my whole heart into it and sought for salvation and pardon for my sin. After many weary days, and all night prayers I finally was able to take what God so freely had provided for me: a full and complete salvation. This took place on March 3, 1919 at 4:30 A.M. It was at this hour that I touched the hem of His garment and was washed in the Blood of Jesus. I was made a new creature in Him with every habbit broken and at this time I found that Jesus saves. Oh and the joy that filled my soul. The old tobacco habit that I had for 38 years was gone and I was filled with the spirit of God so much that I could scarcely speak without crying or praising God.
Soon I was called to preach and again I was obedient and for two years I preached to the men in the camp. Then I left the millwork and from 1921 to 1928 I gave all my time to preaching the word. I was ordained in the Bible Standard Mission in 1923.
From 1928 to the present time I have farmed and preached wherever a door was opened to me, and I hope to be able to give the rest of my time to the seeking for lost souls of men. I know that the time is short and that soon I must lay down the burdens of this life; but I have a hope that when that time comes that I shall just enter into the fuller meaning of life. That life that knows no ending, sorrow, nor pain. I have gone back over my life and have made my restitution so that I can now look the world in the face without shame. My life has been a hard one, yet I can look back with joy and see how God had his hand on me and finally brought me unto Him. I am glad for salvation that saves and keeps. Also, God healed me when I was saved and now for 17 years I have never taken any medicine nor consulted a doctor.
Now that I am in the evening of this worldly life and I know that this world holds nothing for me now. My inheritance is all above with Jesus. May God bless you my dear children.
William Warren Embree