DR. JESSE SAMUEL3 DANCEY (SAMUEL2, RICHARD1) was born 1876 in Fairbury, IL, and died 1936 in Keokuk, IA. He married LUA MARION AKERS, daughter of MARION AKERS and HARRIET DETWILER. She was born 1880 in Keokuk. IA, and died 1962 in San Carlos, CA..
He attended a one-room school and since there was no high school, he attended preparatory school at Illinois Wesleyan University. His father was partial to him because he was called to the ministry and therefore needed an education. He was a Red Cross Chaplin, with the Northwestern Univ. Medical Unit in France and England, WWI. He wrote many articles for the Northwestern Christian Advocate during the 15 months he was abroad. Children were Tom, Marcia and Alice. During the time he was in service he wrote a letter every night to his family. Many of those are in existence today, revealing a love and trust in God along with a great love of family. Found among them were several letters from wounded soldiers and parents of boys who had died. One gets a real sense of the sadness and sacrifice of war. These letter are in the possession of a grandchild.
His papers and writings are held in the Dept. of Special Collections, Iowa State University Library. From the catalog record of this collection: His sermons, articles, diaries and letters reveal spiritual sincerity and fearless honesty concerning social development and social action at a time when neither was understood nor popular. (He once had his picture in the paper with Jane Addams. His Master's thesis was entitled "The Church and Society: A Working Program". His daughter, Marcia, described his ministry as that of a social gospel. She followed in his footsteps as her career was devoted to helping those less fortunate than she.
Biographical note (from the collection of his papers at Iowa State) Methodist clergyman, Jesse Samuel Dancey was born in Fairbury, Illinois, in 1876 to an Irish immigrant family. At age 14 he was "called" to the ministry and in 1894 the Lodemia Methodist Church, McDowell Circuit certified him as suitable for the ministry. In 1898 he was ordained a deacon by Bishop William Nende which gave him the right to administer the sacraments when an elder was not present. In June of 1899 he graduated from Illinois Wesleyan and in September of that year entered the Boston Theological Institute from which he graduated in 1901. Also in 1901 he married Lua Marion Akers by whom there were three children: Thomas Brooks Dancey, Alice Dancey Paul and Marcia Dancey Ketcham. He received a Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Chicago in 1910. Rev. Dancey held pastorates in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa until his death in 1936.
On May 20 1917, aboard the SS Mongolia, Jesse Dancey and the NU Hospital Unit left NYC for England. What follows an adaptation of an account by William D. Walters, Jr. and Vernon D. Beck 2008. Before this vogage the Mongolia had indeed already had a fight with a German submarine. In fact, Gun Number Three, mounted on the after deck, is often credited with having in fired the first shot in the war at sea against the Germans. Just after sunrise on 19 April 1917 the crew had sighted a submarine off Beachy Head, in the English Channel. Cheers broke out when the gun crew thought one of their shells had slammed into the submarine’s conning tower, and had either damaged or sunk the U-boat. Although armed, the Mongolia was certainly no warship. Indeed, the ship was not even officially a navy vessel, but still a civilian transport hired to take soldiers and military supplies across the Atlantic.
On Saturday 19 May 1917, about 4:00 in the afternoon, the Mongolia slipped out of her dock on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River and set out for England. An accident happened twenty-four hours later. Two nurses, Edith Ayers and Wood on board with the unit were killed when what was thought to be a defective shell exploded. The women were on either side of Jesse but he received no injury. Medical personal rushed to aid the fallen nurses. None of the passengers on the promenade deck knew quite what had happened and confusion on the cause of their injuries began at once. Much of this confusion lingers today. A voice on the deck cried, “Some one has been shot”. Mongolia’s naval gun crew knew immediately what had happened. The promenade deck was littered with hot brass fragments, some as long as two and a quarter inches. The gunners knew that these had come from the nose cup of a powder canister. Later fragments of sheet brass removed from the bodies of the two who were killed were positively identified as parts of the nose cup. Naval personnel knew that these fragments were discharged every time the gun was fired. There had been no defective shell, no premature explosion, and no-back-fire. What happened on the deck of the ship was quickly headline news. Errors about the accident spread rapidly and today such errors are still being repeated. The nurses were struck by fragments of a brass nose cup. In this sort of weapon, the shell was loaded into the gun separately from the brass case that contained the smokeless powder. The powder was kept moisture-free by a brass nose cup sealing the front of the powder cartridge. When a gun was fired the nose cup was blasted out the muzzle of the gun. Sometimes nose cup emerged whole, sometimes in pieces, but it never traveled very far from the ship. Fragments often flew at right angles to the muzzle of the gun. In fact, everything that had happened with both the gun and the nose cup had been normal and predictable. What then had gone wrong? The most important factor in the accident was the decision to have spectators come onto the open promenade deck in order to watch the firing. The nurses should never have been on deck when the guns were being fired. The Mongolia’s cargo and passengers were badly needed in Europe. So the ship returned to port but was soon under way again. The Mongolia had taken a route to the south of the usual shipping lanes. Its destination was Falmouth, in the extreme southwest. The plan was to unload the valuable medical personal at Falmouth, and to make the remainder of the journey through the dangerous waters of the English Channel and on to London, with only the ship’s crew. As was usual for fast liners during the war, the Mongolia had been sailing unescorted. Because submarines of the First World War had very limited range, the closer a ship came to Britain the greater the danger of attack. About noon on 1 June, the Mongolia’s last full day at sea, the ship was about 250 miles from the southwest tip of Cornwall. She was steaming at fifteen knots, good speed for a merchant ship, and the seas were rough. The Mongolia’s lookouts were vigilant, but the liner had moved into a rain squall and no one could see very far. At 12:30 the rain briefly lifted. There, only 150 yards from the Mongolia’s port side was the periscope of a German submarine. The ship’s alarm sounded. Immediately, Captain Rice, who was on the bridge, ordered a hard turn to the right. The effect of the move would be to turn the liner away from the submarine and to present the ship’s stern to the attacker, thus providing the submarine’s captain with the narrowest possible target. Still, it took a long time to turn the 600 foot long ship, and at such short range it would be hard for the submarine to miss. At first, the ship seemed not to be responding to the full right rudder, and then it slowly began to turn. The foaming line of compressed air bubbles from the torpedo was not sighted until it was very close to the Mongolia. The periscope was hard to see, appearing and disappearing above the turbulent water, when first sighted the periscope had on the Mongolia’s port beam, later – after the liner’s first turn - it was seen behind the American ship. “Teddy Roosevelt” the same number three gun that had killed Edith Ayers and Helen Burnett Wood, opened fire at the point in the ocean where the gun captain thought he saw the periscope. The Mongolia fired four times. In any weather, even at close range, hitting something as small as a periscope was extremely difficult. It was harder still for guns located near either end of the ship where the relative motion was greatest. On a wildly pitching deck accurate shooting was impossible, but the effort was made and no more was seen of the submarine. Immediately after the turn to the right, Captain Rice ordered a second turn, this time to the left. He continued in this fashion navigating the Mongolia toward Falmouth, making irregular turns every ten to fifteen minutes. Soon lookouts spotted a Royal Navy destroyer racing out from the direction of Falmouth to meet the incoming liner. Remarkably, the ship’s passengers were once again on deck. As the destroyer hunted vainly for the U-boat some two hundred Red Cross personal, dressed in uniforms and life vests hung over the ship’s rails and yelled for the destroyer to, “Get ‘em.”
Page 128 1936 Conference Journal : Jesse Samuel, son of Samuel and Frances Emma Dancey, was born in Fairbury, Illinois, August 25, 1876. He entered upon life eternal at four o'clock Tuesday afternoon, April 14, 1936.
The time and place of his conversion was January 1891, in a country church, Lodemia, on McDowell Circuit, near Fairbury, Rev. J. H. Hobbs, pastor. He was licensed to preach at the same place in 1894. Before entering the ministry, he served as a teacher in Sunday school.
On September 26, 1898, at Charleston, Illinois, being ordained the day before by Bishop William X. Ninde, he was received on trial in the Illinois Conference, and appointed pastor of Lucretia Chapel, Bloomington, Illinois. He was left without appointment to attend one of our schools 1899-1901. He graduated receiving his degree of A. B., in 1899; he graduated from the Boston School of Theology, in 1902, receiving his degree of S. T. B. and in 1910, the University of Chicago conferred on him the M. A. degree. Illinois Wesleyan University honored him with the degree of D. D. in 1916. In 1903, September 21st, he was ordained Elder at Quincy, Illinois, by Bishop Charles H. Fowler.
He rendered valuable service for the church at Monticello, 1902-03; LeRoy, 1904; Bloomington: Lucretia Chapel, 1905-06; Danville: first church, 1907-08; in 1909 he held a Supernumerary relation: he was transferred to the Rock River Conference, and served Auburn Park, Chicago, 1910-14; Chicago: Englewood church, 1919-20; Rockford: Court Street. 1920-1925: he was transferred to the Northeast Ohio conference and stationed in Canton: First church. 1926: Transferring to Saint Louis Conference, he was stationed in Saint Louis: Maple Avenue church, 1927-28: transferred to Des Moines Conference he was stationed in Ames: Collegiate, 1929-34; Keokuk: Trinity, 1935. But the places and years give only a faint idea of the man, the minister, the pastor and his worth and work. It is not easy to describe in words what manner of man he was, for like his Lord and Master, one had to know him intimately, to understand his fine talent, his brotherly spirit and capable ministry. He was an independent thinker and capable writer and capable preacher; he was man of most excellent judgment, high ideals, noble aspirations, a real brotherly spirit. He was unafraid in life, and dared to speak out his thoughts. His written messages, in reviews and advocates were charming in beauty of thought and richness of content. His brethren mourn, but their tears are mixed with joy and happy congratulations. why should we mourn when one we love goes to be crowned with glory supreme?
Doctor Dancey has a very fine ministerial career. He was like other men, and yet not like them at all. A deep thinker, he studied much, was conversant with the best in literature and books. But a something indefinable, in his makeup; a sweet and charming expression in his eyes, one cannot easily forget. Critical, yet determination shone in his glance, so one could not wish to forget him. This splendid persistency shone brightly through those nineteen wonderful weeks, in which he watch and waited, longing to go no doubt, where mystical souls solve deep mental problems, and resolve their final conclusions. And so, on that Easter morning, he got up from his bed of anguish and pain, his eyes shining with their determined purpose to give his final message. Some of its closing sentences would fit nicely into our Conference tribute to his worth, his faith, his immortal hope. In just two days, like one tired of earth with all its endearments, and its sweet friendships, he went triumphantly to be face to face with his Heavenly Father. On Tuesday afternoon his redeemed spirit left the body and went home. And we think of him now as among the bloodwashed ransomed who dwell forever with the Lord.
In compliance with his expressed desire his mortal body was reduced to ashes, carried by loving hands of longtime friends and strewn upon the grave of his earthly father in the cemetery at Fairbury, Illinois.
On Friday afternoon at three o'clock in his own loved Trinity church in Keokuk, a beautiful service was held. Rev. J. W. Poole was in charge; Rev. Guy J. Fansher, Superintendent of district: Doctor Edmondson, Superintendent of Boone district, and many of his Iowa-Des Moines conference brethren were there. Two of his most intimate friends during life paid beautiful tributes to his splendid character. There were: Dr. R. H. Schuett of Park Ridge church, Chicago and Dr. T. N. Ewing, of First church, Springfield, Illinois. Mrs. Florence Wright Schouten sang his favorite hymns: "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" and "How Firm a Foundation". It was a fitting service in appreciation of our deceased brother and friend.
He was united in marriage to Miss Lua Marion Akers, at Bloomington, Illinois, September 5, 1901, by Dr. Edgar M. Smith. Three children were born to this union; Thomas Brooks, Lua Alice and Marcia Harriett. In their sorrow God is very present to help and give an assurance of blessed hope beyond.
Rev. J. S. Dancey's Easter Sermon, Trinity M. E.Church, Easter, April 12, 1936 (two days before he died)
"Our Eternal Dwelling Place"
Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations. Psalms 90:1.
A sermon is constructed not unlike a piece of cloth. its long threads, the warp, are drawn from the accumulated spiritual experience of the race, particularly from the Bible:. Its cross threads, the woof, must come from the personal experience of the preacher. I shall therefore make no apology for drawing upon my personal experience this morning, and particularly upon that experience which has been mine during the nineteen weeks of physical disability which have kept me from meeting with you in this consecrated place. And since this is Easter it becomes almost mandatory for me to employ anything in that experience which might in any way illuminate the theme of immortality.
This illness of mine, especially at its outset and in its early stages, gave me a close-up view of death. The moving-pictures have made us all familiar with what is meant by a close-up view. The thought of death always lingers in the back ground of our thought, for each of us knows that sometime, like all living things, whether animal or vegetable, he must die. But so viewed death remains an intellectual abstraction, and it is well it does, for while we are here, we are here to live and not to die. I have seen death, on perhaps more than one occasion, thrust into the foreground suddenly by some menace from without. But the danger passing as suddenly as it came, left little impression. But on this occasion a blow was delivered in my own body which set me reeling on the brink of death and left me for a time where care was necessary to avoid slipping into the chasm.
As I faced death under these circumstance I thought of the conventional symbol of death as Father-Time, aged, and skeleton-like with his cruel scythe. That seemed to me an untrue picture, for I did not feel like one about to be overtaken and cut down. My spirit was rather filled with warmth andd peace, as though the Everlasting Arms, generous and adequate and willing, were underneath and ready to receive me. Nor did this seem to me like the end but like a new beginning, into a new understanding of life, such as one experiences when one enters a phase further on as a wife or husband or as a parent of a child. I could understand Montaigne when he said that death is not the BUT, (French for the end of the conclusion of life). but the BOUT, (the French word standing for purpose or that which disclosed the significance of an action.) (See Thought and Expression In the Sixteenth Century Vol I; page 364-Taylor.)
Here I certainly had no feeling that I was about to receive any reward for any good I might have done, nor did my sins rise up to reproach me, and, following: the adage which advises us to let sleeping dogs lie, it did not turn my mind in that direction. The situation was rather as I felt it once at a cot of a Scotch boy whose body had been broken in the Hindenburg drive in the spring of 1918 in France.
The wind and the rain were beating the flaps of the crowded hospital tent where he lay so helpless and meek as it seemed to me. His mind was troubled, for he told me he had been a bad boy and run away from his grandparents who cared 'for him.. When I thought that the right moment had come, 1 proposed that we pray-a suggestion usually so welcome to wounded men. But this Scotch boy hesitated. "No, padre" that is what the British call the Chaplain-"I am not good enough," he said wistfully." "Not good enough," I answered, "I do not mean because you or I are good, but because God is good." A light of comprehension shown in his face when he replied, "It is alright then; that makes it different." So I felt for myself in the valley of the shadow, and I found that I could express my whole soul in those words which we all love so well:
"Oh love, that wilt not let me go,
I freely give my life to Thee,
That in thane ocean's depth's it's flow May richer, fuller, fuller, be."
Obviously this view of death required a different view of Father-Time than that of the old man with his scythe. So my mind began its search. When Jesus sought more fully to illustrate the significance of spirit-ual things we find him turning to nature for suggestions. The mustard seed and plant, the stalk of wheat, the rising bread dough gave Jesus hints of the nature of the Kingdom of God. I found myself turning in the same direction. Within view of my hospital window stood a tree, some of whose leaves still clung to it in spite of December frosts and winds. "Does God hold our lives in His as that tree holds its leaves" I asked. Then a leaf fell, struck the cement sidewalk and scurried away before the wind. "And when we die, is it like that?" Such a final separation and destruction of the leaf as that did not seem a satisfactory figure.
Then I thought that normally the tree belongs in the forest, and that when leaves fall in the forest they still remain in the forest. Here no leaf is lost but goes to enrich the mould which provides life-giving nourishment for the seeds which fall from the trees to spring up in an renew the forest. Finally trees die as well as leaves, to decay and add their share to the deepening soil. All this goes on very slowly, but if we could compress into a moving-picture reel what goes on in the forest in a few hundred years, we should see tree life rising like a fountain to fall again and rise once more from the growing accumulation of soil in an endless cycle of vegetable vitality. In this no tree or leaf ever dies, but in falling the leaf only shifts its place in the process. And so I thought, may not each of us be in the great on-going and endless process of life in which every one of us has some humble part. May we not say with Longfellow: "There is no death; what seems so is transition."'
But we cannot stop here. We can see that there is an endless process of life to which we are related and that somehow we must continue to live for in some way we have influenced this process beyond our own life-span. But just there is what concerns us. Do we cease to live beyond our apparent life-span as personal beings? Now here we obviously enter the realm of faith and speculation. Faith is a very personal matter in which we cannot help each other very much, but we can share our speculations. In these we may find it helpful to return to the forest. In the life of the forest is there anything personall or individual that survives from one forest generation to another?
If we must answer this question from what we can see, we must answer, No. No leaf is preserved as a leaf, no tree continues as a tree; they all decay and are resolved into their constituent parts, which recombined, to be sure, in other living patterns, but the same leaf or tree does not come back again. Only the forest itself continues indefinitely.
That is the way it looks, but if we are to believe the scientist, who goes beyond what the eye sees, we shall get a different view of the matter. He will tell us that there are two enduring things in the forest; first, the forest itself, which may be preserved always, and the smallestthing in the forest, that is, the atom, which is the abiding unit of life in every living thing in the forest.
Scientists, therefore tell us that the atoms is "the basic particle" which cannot be split into something smaller. (See "Atom and Cosmos," Reichenbach, p. 181. We now know that each atom is a wonderful system of electrons , and protons and photons, and what else the layman does not know-for the physicists are working very actively in this field just now. We know-if we believe the physicists, that these constitutent -parts of the atom all move together something like the planets in our solar system. Physicists also claim that by bombarding the atom with certain kinds of rays, X-rays or something else, they can now and then knock an electron or a photon out of an atom, and so modify it, but still the atom preserves its identity, like a man who has a leg amputated, and still goes on indestructibly. The atom, then, is a form of being in which its component parts have attained ennity which makes it stand out as for itself alone with its own effective self-enjoyment. (Whiitehead, Adventures of Ideas, p 227.)
Atoms therefore are to be conceived as individualities on the physical level, as physical personalities in fact, which are deathless and remain forever.
They are indeed, more enduring than the forest, for the forest may be destroyed, but the atoms liberated by the destruction of the forest, will escape and be found entering the forest, as atoms of carbon from the air, and atoms are leaving the forest all the time in many ways, while other atoms, doubtless, remain long in the forest and pass through various incarnations in its many life patterns.
Now for all the eye can see forest decay, men die, and there is nothing left. But the physicist come to tell us that beyond what the eye can see is the enduring atom. Should it seem therefore any harder to believe that beyond the decaying body, which is all that the eye sees, there is the enduring soul, a soul perhaps anti-dating the body through which it has become accessible to us, and still living on after the flesh has failed. The poets are sometimes as worthy of our confidence as the scientists, and what poet speaks with the note of conviction more than Wordsworth in his familiar "Intimations of Immortality" when se says:
"Our birth is a sleep and a forgetting,
The soul that riseth with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting, And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God who is our home."
So to go no further than reason or speculation can take us, does it seem unreasonable to set over against the deathless atoms in the Physical world the deathless human soul in the spiritual world? Many, including myself, will think of even better reasons for believing in the immortal soul than in the immortal atoms. But if we may let them both stand there together.
On the one hand are the atoms, grouping and regrouping themselves forever into all sorts of living patterns which are the things, including our bodies, which fill this world. Atoms are not much simply in themselves and seemingly as if aware of this they seek to enter into combination to produce things or material societies.
So with our souls. For them to be alone is to be as tho they were not. So some kind of an attraction for things and for people-which we will call love-is always in this world drawing us into communities, societies, holding us together in families and nations.
But there is a greatest of loves-the love of God, which is always drawing us whether in what we call life or in what we call death. When we answer that love, the soul in this life or in another is saved from evil associations and made a member of noble fellowship. As a child of God, it finds its place forever in the family of God, and lives in and through God, so that we may say with the psalm, "Lord, Thou has been our dwelling place, and shall be, in all generations."
And this becomes my portrait of Father-Time, suitable to the experience of his redeeming and preserving grace which was given me when my illness fell upon me. He appeared to me not as a destroyer with his deathdealing scyth, but as that protecting and enveloping love, forever sufficient, and leading us through all change to greater and fuller experiences of life.
Conclusion: If reason and faith can accept this there are two truths which it seems to me may be helpfully emphasised this Easter morning.
First: All we here, and all men everywhere are immortal souls masked in mortal bodies. We are are as at a masquerade. Some masked as Chinese, some as negroes, some as Americans, some as rich, some as poor, some as wise, some as unwise, some as children, some as men and some as women, but all back of it all immortal children of God.
Secondly: Those we call dead have simply laid aside their earthly masks and we cannot see nor hear them as we once did because we, with our limited powers in this life, cannot become aware of souls except through these earthly masks. But still those that we call dead are not less real, Jesus, our own loved ones, whom we have now lost for awhile.
Thirdly: Dante saw the souls of the martyr's in the heaven of Mars, forming a cross. So here family, nations, churches destined to greater society. So beyond, think of the groupings! The atom is different according to body it is a part, forming in brain of man or in tree. So we change according to our pattern.