Jennie Smith Railroad Evangelist
* Shared the gospel with railroad workers
* Traveled around the USA all her life
* Brought thousands of workers to Jesus Christ
* Rare 3-D stereo photograph discovered
* Back of photo tells story of Jennie Smith
By FRANK DEFREITAS for WONDERS OF THE BIBLE
PUBLISHED: August 26, 2020 | UPDATED: August 26, 2020
Jennie Smith Railroad Evangelist
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Jennie Smith Railroad Evangelist
Jennie Smith is shown here in this extremely rare stereograph view card from the 1800's. She was not able to move around freely like others, but that didn't stop her from spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to railroad workers across America. CLICK / TAP PHOTO TO ENLARGE.
There's no stopping some people when they have their mind set on spreading the Good News of the Gospel to others! Jennie Smith was one such person...
Hello, my name is Frank DeFreitas, and I would like to welcome you to Wonders of the Bible.
Jennie Smith was born in Clarke County, Ohio, on August 18, 1842. She was born into a family of nine children, with her being the eldest. Her parents were James and Eliza, and her grand-parents were originally from New Jersey. Her father died when she was 13 years old, leaving her to help raise her seven siblings.
She writes in one of her autobiographical books, of which there are several, covering different times of her life, that she was a very well cared-for child. She notes that she often thought that she was not happy and contented with her abundance of toys and playthings as other children were, with the simple tokens of love they received. She didn’t care much for books, but notes that she loved to do needlework.
As a young girl, she became very interested in a story of another little girl who made it a habit to turn to the Lord with her childish troubles, and found relief in times of distress. She soon felt a desire to follow this little girls’ example.
One Summer afternoon, she went with some playmates to a beautiful meadow and pond. She stood on the bank and watched the rippling water, she wondered if God, who made all beautiful things, could really love a wicked little girl like her.
This is the actual 1800's stereograph showing railroad evangelist Jennie Smith. The photographer was Frederick Gutekunst, one of the most famous photographers in the United States at the time.
She often tried to catch fish, but never caught a single one. At that moment, she thought of the story of the little girl. She knelt down, and asked God to let her catch just one fish. At that time, she knew nothing about Faith, but she baited her hook, and as she threw it in, she kept watching the floating cork ... *expecting* to see it dip. In a few moments, she drew out a large fish from the pond.
It was her first answered prayer.
In 1856 she attended a camp meeting where she made a firm commitment to Christ.
By 1862, she was experiencing very serious paralysis of her spine. This was left over from an earlier infection of typhoid fever. On February 24th of that year, she wrote this in her diary: "On Wednesday I arose, partially dressed myself, and started for the door ... but took only a few steps when I began to reel. Mother caught me and laid me back on the bed perfectly helpless." That was the last time she ever stood on her feet for the next 16 years.
Since she had to travel by railroad to see doctors and specialists, a special bed on wheels was built for her. This bed on wheels would not fit into any of the standard railroad passenger cars, so she had to travel in one of the baggage cars.
While doing this, she began to give witness, and read her Bible, to the railroad workers. Few of these men ever had the opportunity to attend church, and the very few who had the opportunity ever took advantage of it. Her Bible meetings became so popular that they were no longer held in the baggage cars, but moved into the larger spaces of the train stations themselves.
People from all around would hear the news that Jennie Smith had a stop-over in town, and would flock to the train stations to hear her speak on Jesus Christ and Temperance.
In the year 1878, she had a vision of Jesus healing a man with the withered arm. Shortly thereafter, she could lift her head, and finally could stand and walk. It is said that this healing began through much prayer at a camp meeting held at the famous town of Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Jennie returned to Ocean Grove many times, attending and speaking at Holiness meetings.
Jennie's story is written on the back of the stereograph by former owner, Carrie Pitts Omeara. She tells of Jennie's incapacitation and miraculous healing, and how her father helped to move Jennie during her years on her rolling bed.
If you ever find yourself in the area of Ocean Grove, New Jersey, (also known as "God's Square Mile"), you certainly owe it to yourself to visit the great Tabernacle. The town itself is on the National Register of Historic places. Both myself and Debi have visited many times during our trips to the shore. They have wonderful summer programs. I remember us seeing Dr. David Jeramiah there one summer evening, when the power suddenly went out from a severe storm. Those of us in attendance found ourselves singing hymns in near total darkness ... building in intensity, until the power was finally restored.
Jennie never lost her love for the railroad, or for the salvation of the men who worked it. She continued her evangelistic work with them, and later went on to become involved with the Women's Christian Temperance Union ... later to become appointed National Superintendent of the Railroad department.
Through her years of pain and suffering, along with her eventual healing, it is said that she led thousands of railroad workers to Christ. She wrote several books, and you'll find a list of them at the end of the web page associated with this podcast. You'll also find a link to download a complete copy of her final book "Incidents and Experiences of a Railroad Evangelist", which was published in the year 1920. It is yours with compliments of myself and Wonders of the Bible.
If you don't know about the web page, just go to wondersofthebible.org, and click on the podcast link. You'll see the title of this broadcast: Jennie Smith: Railroad Evangelist -- on the page that comes up.
Jennie Smith died on September 3, 1924, at the age of 82.
Now, since Wonders of the Bible is my collection of Bible history, I was very fortunate to have found a very, very rare 3D stereograph view card of Jennie. You'll find a photo of it posted along with this podcast. It is not only interesting to be able to place this card in a stereoscope and see her in her room in 3-D ... but something else was just as rare on the back of the card: A previous owner of the card, with the name of Carrie Pitts Omeara, wrote about her father not only knew Jennie Smith, was one of the men who helped to move her around.
She wrote a story on the back of the card -- of which I include a photo of here. Right now, I would like to take a moment to read to you what the back of the stereo view card says:
****** My father John Pitts Sr was a broker and business man in years from 1865 to 1883. This sick lady is Jennie Smith & was a great Christian and was cured altogether by prayer and faith. She waited and prayed 12 years for recovery, and then was completely and miraculously healed, cured before our father John Pitts Senior carried this lady on a stretcher to the train and hospital and knew her well. This was about the year 1878 or 1879. This is true as her life story was told to me. I am Carrie Pitts Omeara writing. ******
See Jennie in 3-D!
Here is a 3-D anaglyph photo of railroad evangelist Jennie Smith. If you have 3-D anaglyph glasses, put them on, and click on the photo for a larger 1080 version. CLICK / TAP PHOTO TO ENLARGE.
I should also mention about the famous photographer that provided the stereo photography: The photographer was Frederick Gutekunst, living 1831 to 1917. His photography studio was located at 712 Arch St. in Philadelphia, PA. Frederick was possibly the most famous American photographer of his day. His photographic career started in 1856 in Philadelphia, and his business grew during the Civil War. After the war his reputation was known outside of Philadelphia, and the military, so that distinguished individuals, including Generals and Presidents, were coming to having their portrait made by the master. Eventually, the Gutekunst studio became a photographic industry, with two studios in Philadelphia, and a large photo reproduction press. He continued working until he died in 1917, from Bright’s Disease.
Let me mention that I am not an expert on Jennie Smith. My role with my Wonders of the Bible broadcasts is mostly as a facilitator. Therefore, I will leave any additional learning up to you, my listeners. The information is out there, including her books. It is just a matter of doing a search and finding a web page to learn more than what I have covered here in this broadcast.
It is very exciting to be a part of documenting the history of the Holy Bible through visual arts, science, and communication technologies. I hope that you will continue to enjoy the programming of Wonders of the Bible, and it will be my pleasure -- and honor -- to continue to bring programming to you, my faithful listeners.
So, once again, my name is Frank DeFreitas ... and may God Bless You Today and Every Day, AND, remember, to always love others, just as Jesus Christ loves YOU.
Download Jennie's Book Here:The following Google Books PDF file will provide you with additional resources for further learning. You may download and print out as many copies of this file as needed:
Incidents and Experiences Of a Railroad Evangelist (File Size 3.5 MB): Here is a copy of the final autobiographical book of the life of Jennie Smith. It was published in 1920. You may freely print and distribute as many copies as you need.
"Science is the study of the physical manifestations of God in action."
-- Frank DeFreitas (Click Here for BIO)