Friday, 03 May 2013 16:53

Preachers Have Been Traveling New Mexico For Centuries

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On April 25, 2013, I photographed this wagon on NM 14 near Cedar Crest.  It turns out that Randy Boehmer has been traveling the American West since 2008.  Here’s his story from the May 28, 2011 Denver Post.

 


Wandering preacher with mules, covered wagons looks for souls to save

By Electa Draper
The Denver Post

 

Traveling preacher Randy Boehmer sits in one of the two covered wagons being pulled by his team of Belgian draft mules along Inspiration Drive north of Parker on Friday afternoon. Below, Boehmer, who plans to spend the summer in Wyoming, takes a break with his border collie, Shep, one of his two dogs accompanying him.

Randy Boehmer is a wandering preacher who doesn't preach much, he says, because his two mule-pulled covered wagons pretty much say it all.

The letters painted across one wagon read: "Jesus Saves. Ask Him."

Friday evening, the Arizona taxidermist-turned-saver of souls' small caravan slowly climbed the hills north of Parker along Inspiration Drive. His Belgian draft mules and wagons were moving about 4 mph — slower up the hills — toward Wyoming, where he plans to summer. Where in Wyoming, he doesn't know.

He doesn't map out a route. His basic scheme is: "Move north in the summer and south in the winter." This is his sixth time up and down the continent.

Since his cross-country odyssey began in 2008, he has been to 19 states, he said. He has been as far north as Minnesota and as far south and east as Florida. Colorado and Arizona are as far west as he has gone with his wagons.

He doesn't travel with a support vehicle or crew. "It's just the nine of us: five mules, two dogs, Jesus and me," he said.

"God put in on my heart to travel for him in a covered wagon," Boehmer said. "You couldn't pay me to do anything else. The mules are cool. I love Jesus. I love what I do."

The days are long, about 16 hours. He gives the mules weekends off, but he preaches, sort of, seven days a week. The dogs, border collie Shep and rat terrier Proverb, keep their own hours.

"The good Lord finds a place for us to stay every night," Boehmer says.

Indeed, a Parker woman, Gail Jerow, who stopped to take pictures, ended up concerned about him and lined up a place in her neighborhood for team Boehmer to spend Friday night.

He sleeps in his wagons. He converted two old farm wagons in Indiana in 2008 — outfitting them with solar panels to charge his cellphone, TV, radio, wood stove and propane for cooking.

He first hit the road April 1 of that year, but his journey really began when his father died in 1991.

He and his brother were cleaning out their father's garage. His sister told them to take what they wanted and haul the rest to the dump. Looking at his father's tools, the fishing rod and other possessions he used and cherished all his life, Boehmer came to a realization.

"I saw then the futility of chasing the things of this world," he said.

Before his wife, Lois, died of cancer in 1998, she told him that life in this world was very short.

"After she died, I wanted to know about this God who had her soul," he said. "I figured she was in heaven because she believed in all this Jesus stuff."

He studied the Bible, turned away from sin, accepted Jesus as his personal savior and was born again March 3, 1999.

"I'm out trying to win souls for God," he said. "It's on the wagon. It's all in Acts 16:31: 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.' "

Boehmer passes most evenings talking to people he meets along the way.

"I've been dragging a TV around for three years, and there's never any time to watch it," he said.

He doesn't like or answer questions about traffic safety or about his age.

"I never tell anybody my age. And I never tell them what I paid for my mules," he said.

He returns home to Arizona a couple of times a year and collects his mail (P.O. Box 826, Ash Fork, AZ 86320).

Electa Draper: 303-954-1276 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Randy Boehmer’s odyssey reminded me of another preacher, Francis Schlatter, who came through New Mexico in 1892 on a 2 year, 3,000 mile journey through the west.  Wikipedia has the following information about him.

Francis Schlatter (1856–c. 1896) was an Alsatian cobbler who, because of miraculous cures attributed to him, became known as the Healer.

Biography

Schlatter was born in the village of Ebersheim, Bas-Rhin, near Sélestat, in Alsace on April 29, 1856. In 1884 he emigrated to the United States, where he worked at his trade in various cities, arriving in Denver, Colorado, in 1892. There, a few months later, he experienced a vision at his cobbler's bench in which he heard the voice of the Father commanding him to sell his business, give the money to the poor, and devote his life to healing the sick. He then undertook a two-year, 3,000-mile walking pilgrimage around the American West which took him across eastern Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma, and then to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he was arrested and jailed for vagrancy. In early 1894 he escaped and headed west, walking across Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and into southern California, where he began his first efforts at healing with the Indians of the San Jacinto Valley. After two months, he again took up his pilgrimage and traveled east across the Mohave Desert, living on nothing but flour and water. In July 1895 he emerged as a Christlike healer in the Rio Grande villages south of Albuquerque. There, while treating hundreds of sick, suffering, and disabled people who flocked to Albuquerque's Old Town, he became famous. Crowds gathered about him daily, hoping to be cured of their diseases simply by clasping his hands. The following month he returned to Denver, but did not resume his healings until mid-September. During the next few weeks, his ministry drew tens of thousands of pilgrims to a small home in North Denver. Schlatter is said to have refused all rewards for his services. His manner of living was of the simplest, and he taught no new doctrine. He said only that he obeyed a power which he called Father, and from this power he received his healing virtue.[1]

On the night of November 13, 1895, he suddenly disappeared, leaving behind him a note in which he said that his mission was ended.[2] Then, in 1897 news came out of Mexico that the healer's bones and possessions had been found on a mountainside in the Sierra Madre.[3] At the same time, a New Mexico woman named Ada Morley published a book called The Life of the Harp in the Hand of the Harper which told of the healer's three-month retreat on her ranch in Datil, New Mexico, after his disappearance from Denver. The book, which carried the title the healer gave it, also contained a first-person description of his two-year pilgrimage, which he believed held the same significance for mankind as Christ's forty days in the wilderness. On departing the Morley ranch, Schlatter told Morley that God intended to establish New Jerusalem in the Datil Mountains, and the healer promised to return at that time. In the wake of the healer's death, several men claiming to be Francis Schlatter made headlines around the country in 1909, 1916, and 1922.[4]

In August Strindberg´s autobiographical novel Inferno Francis Schlatter is mentioned as a doppelgänger of another man Strindberg met in Paris in 1896, the year after Schlatter disappeared.[5] He was afraid of Schlatter.[6] The "double" turned out to be Paul Herrmann, a German-American painter.[7]

The Healer's Copper Rod

In 1906 Edgar Lee Hewett, who became a noted archaeologist and museum director, was conducting research near Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico, when his Mexican guide pointed out an unmarked grave. Ten years before, the guide said, he had come across the body of a dead man following a blizzard. From the guide's description, Hewett surmised that the dead man the guide had come across was Francis Schlatter, whom Hewett had met and whose healing sessions he observed in 1895. Hewett asked if any of the man's possessions had survived. The guide led him to the home of the jefe of Casas Grandes, and there Hewett saw Schlatter's Bible, saddle, and copper rod—which had become a mysterious hallmark of the healer from the time of his disappearance. Years later, in 1922, Hewett returned to Mexico and examined the copper rod again. By now the director of the School of American Research (now the School for Advanced Research) and the Museum of New Mexico, he showed interest in the rod and made a donation to the village of Casas Grandes to hire a teacher. Back in Santa Fe, a few weeks later, he received a heavy, burlap-wrapped package, and inside was Francis Schlatter's copper rod. He placed the rod in the collections of the two institutions he directed, which shared space in the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, N.M. Today the rod is on display in the Palace of the Governors.[8]

Sources

1.                              ^ All of the information in this paragraph can be found in The Life of the Harp in the Hand of the Harper (Denver: Privately printed, 1897), copyrighted by the book's compiler, Ada Morley Jarrett. Only a few copies of the original exist; however, in 1989 Norman Cleaveland published The Healer: The Story of Francis Schlatter (Santa Fe, NM: Sunstone Press), which incorporates the original material.

2.                              ^ Rocky Mountain News (Denver), 15 November 1895, and New York Times, 15 November 1895.

3.                              ^ Rocky Mountain News, 7 June 1897, and New York Times, 7 June 1897.

4.                              ^ Newspapers across the U.S. covered these events, but they can all be found in the New York Times, 22 October 1909, 28 May 1916, and 18 October 1922.

5.                              ^ August Strindberg: The Inferno

6.                              ^ Internet archive: Strindberg and his plays

7.                              ^ Evert Sprinchorn, ed., August Strindberg, Inferno, Alone, and Other Writings (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday/Anchor Books, 1968), 156–57, 341.

8.                              ^ Edgar L. Hewett, Campfire and Trail (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1943), 69–75.

 --Mike Lord

Read 1848 times Last modified on Saturday, 26 October 2013 18:05
Mike Lord

4th generation Santa Fe Gringo.

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