Workers, Friends, Home Church, The Truth, The Way, Meetings, Gospel, Cooneyites, Christian Conventions, Hymns Old & New
Preserving the Truth
The Church without a Name and its Founder, William Irvine

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O Bio Truth?

Chapter 18
Revised January 23, 2018


1903: FIRST Pioneering Workers Go to America
1903–04: FIRST USA Converts
1904: SECOND Group of Workers Go to America
1904–05: FIRST Workers Go to Canada, Australia, New Zealand & South Africa

1903–FIRST WORKERS GO TO AMERICA: The year 1903 was a pivotal year for Wm. Irvine and for the extension of the 2x2 sect. In September, Irvine was put out of the church he started in his hometown of Kilsyth, Scotland, for refusing to make it his headquarters. He wrote:  "In September 1903 I was put out of Church I had formed in my native town because I would not make it the head of the work I was doing..." 

Soon after the Rathmolyon Convention ended in 1903, William Irvine and two other young Workers entered the U.S. through Ellis Island to pioneer the 2x2 Gospel there. Irvine wrote, "In Sept. 1903, I sailed for USA with George Walker and Irvine Weir…and I returned on Sept. 5, 1904, next year to a day. Spent a year at home” (letter to Dunbars, October 13, 1920), letter to Kerrs, Dec. 4, 1921). View List of Irvine’s Trips Abroad

These three were the first Workers to set foot in America. Departed from Glasgow, Scotland on Sept. 5, 1903, on the SS Columbia, they arrived in New York on Sept. 14, 1903. The Ellis island Passenger Records show: William Irvine, age 40 yrs, Scotch (Passenger No. 18); George Walker, age 26 yrs, Irish (Passenger No. 19); and Irvine Weir, age 25 yrs, Irish (Passenger No. 20)

For more than 60 years, Ellis Island was a U.S. immigration station located in the New York harbor. Twelve million immigrants approached America's "front doors to freedom" in the early twentieth century through Ellis Island. During its peak years, 1892 through 1924, Ellis Island received thousands of immigrants a day. Over 100 million Americans can trace their ancestry in the U.S. to someone whose name passed from a steamship manifest sheet to an inspector's record book in the great Registry Room at Ellis Island.

The American Family Immigration History Center at Ellis Island is located at Ellis Island. The passenger records for persons passing through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1957 are on their website and may be viewed free of charge at: Records include name, gender, marital status, year of arrival, ethnicity, age on arrival, date and port of departure, name of ship, the name of the friend or relative they were to visit, and the amount of money with them.

The Author found Ellis Island impressive on her visit in 2013. The Main Building was restored to its former grandeur in Sept. 1990.  It now houses the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which is "dedicated to commemorating the immigrant's stories of trepidation and triumph, courage and rejection, and the lasting image of the American dream." 

In the U.S., Teddy Roosevelt was president. The 1900 census counted a total U.S. population of 76 million people who were there before the Workers ever arrived. According to Encarta Encyclopedia, "In 1900, the United States was an overwhelmingly white (88%) and rural (60%) society in which few people had completed high school (14%) and most were under 35 years of age (70%). New York was the most populous state, with 7.3 million people, and New York City, with 3.4 million people, was the nation's largest city. American households averaged 4.8 people. About 13% of all women worked outside the home. Eight thousand automobiles cruised American roads."

A statement by George Walker to the U.S. Selective Service dated March 24, 1942 contained the following paragraph about the beginning and development of the 2x2 Sect in America, without mentioning the Founder, Wm Irvine:

"...during the closing years of the last century and the first years of this century, a number of people in the British Isles and in America were exercised in heart and mind, through their study of the Scriptures, in regard to the methods of preaching and worship in the several churches of which they were then members. They were deeply concerned about spiritual things, and became fully convinced that there should be a return to the methods and purpose taught and carried out by Christ and His first disciples. This conviction led religious Meetings, and  in due time a number of these people went forth to devote their lives to the preaching of the the year 1903, Ministers of this Christian body began their labors in the United States and in the year 1904 in Canada. In these and subsequent years through the preaching of the Gospel, assemblies were formed in homes" (Read typed copy of Statement) (Read original letter).

Andrew Abernethy spoke of George Walker "...coming to Philadelphia 78 years ago this month, [Nov. 1903] and having his FIRST MISSION near Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Said the gospel he and his companion preached promised liberty and independence from the bondage of sin, false religion and wrong doctrine" (Account of Geo. Walker's Last Days, Death and Funeral).

Wm. Irvine, George Walker and Irvine Weir sailed to America by the least expensive method, as Steerage Passengers. This was a dreadful way to travel. Link to an interesting account of the horrors of traveling as a Steerage Passenger:
Steerage Accommodations on the Cunard Steamship Line–1879

"George [Walker] told of his coming to this country in the early years of this century. He was in Liverpool, England and three planned to come together [NOTE: the other two men were William Irvine and Irvine Weir]. There was First Class passage–the most expensive, then there was Second Class, which was cheaper, and then Steerage. The cost of a ticket from Liverpool to New York was $27.00 and they got three tickets.

"They left Liverpool on a Friday night and sailed across the Irish Sea to Belfast, where on Saturday they loaded cargo and passengers. About five of them left and sailed out around the north end of Ireland and into the North Atlantic Ocean. The sea was raging and rough. They tried to stay on deck but they were all sick and after awhile they went down into the lower part of the ship where they had been given bunks and tried to rest. They were sick all day Sunday and Monday. George said, 'On Tuesday I felt we have got to get up and walk around or we won't be able to walk off the ship when we get to New York.'
(Notes on Geo. Walker's Early Days in America, 1979).

Of the first three Workers to come to America, two were later excommunicated. William Irvine in 1914 (See Chapter 24) and Irvine Weir was later excommunicated by George Walker.

"George told Irvine [Irvine Weir]that he would instruct the bishop to close his house to him unless he promised not to speak in the meetings. Irvine Weir refused, so without any scriptural reason being given, he has been cut off" (Ed Cooney's letter “To the Churches in Alabama and Kentucky,” Aug. 1, 1948 in The Life & Ministry of Edward Cooney by Roberts, p. 56).  George Walker told about: 

"...the two men which came with him in 1903. They were Irvine Weir and William Irvine. Sadly both men got off on the wrong track. George said that Irvine Weir had a weakness for divine healing and later on in life wrote his sister that nothing could hurt him because he served God. Before the letter arrived, he fell off a ladder, rose up and said, 'I'm all right,' then died. He had said that some of the friends, who got killed couldn't have been doing God's will. George said, 'I have been left alone in many things' " (Notes on Geo. Walker's Early Days in America, 1979).

 1903: PIONEERING WORKERS: After the 1903 Rathmolyon Convention, the Workers began to venture around the world to preach. They first pioneered the work in the English speaking countries of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The Newspaper reported that Crocknacrieve Convention: "As usual, the call for volunteers for work in distant lands met with a response, a large number offering their services for America, South Africa, and Australia" (IR, July 23, 1908).

In the early days, Meetings were tested for volunteers to become Workers, as well as for Workers to volunteer to labor in foreign countries. Fannie Carroll said: "At Christmas time Jack and I went to the City of Belfast to special meetings. Those meetings were tested to see how many would go in the work, and several said they would. We were amongst them. Tom Lyness was another. Sam Jones who wrote so many of our hymns was another....Then in 1905 many workers, over sixty of them, left for overseas." 

to go in the work in North America. While the first three brother workers were on a ship travelling to America, they met a young woman named Maggie Rowe. She professed soon after. When Emma Gill arrived in America on December 8, 1904, aboard the SS FURNESSIA Maggie started in the work with Emma, but "didn't continue in the work.  She got married and her daughter lives out in British Columbia, out West somewhere, and when Garrett has been out there for conventions, he met this daughter and had a talk. This daughter knew that Maggie Rowe was one of the first workers in our home" (Hazel Hughes Account, 1971, niece of Emma Gill).

Emma Gill was one of the first pair of Sister Workers in America.  She travelled to North Dakota to visit her sister and family, Fred and Mary Ann (Gill) Hughes. In the early days, when Workers were going to foreign lands, they were sometimes asked by their British converts to contact their family members who had emigrated there. Many converts were gained through these introductions. This occurred repeatedly, and it is not uncommon today for the Workers to use this type introduction to invite people to their recruiting Gospel Meetings. This was the case with the McIntires/McIntyres, the first American converts. 

1903: THE FIRST U.S. CONVERTS were Mr. and Mrs. George McIntyre/McIntire/MacIntyre. One of the Irish Friends asked her sister in New York to meet the ship on which the first three Brother Workers arrived.

“He [George Walker] and a couple others [Wm. Irvine and Irvine Weir] arrived in New York harbor Sept. 14, 1903….To his knowledge there were no friends or workers in America previous to this…One of the friends in Ireland had a relative that lived in New York, a young lady, Mrs. McIntire. She and her husband received a letter from this lady in Ireland, asking that they would meet the she and her husband stood calling out the name 'George Walker' from behind a fence there at Ellis Island until George heard them. They took them home for the night and later the McIntires professed—the FIRST of those in America that George knew of” (Notes on Geo. Walker's Early Days in America, 1979).

"So her husband took off from work, and they rented an apartment for two weeks for these three strangers. They told them, 'We will take you to our home and you can have dinner, then we will take you to this apartment since we only have a 4-room apartment and no room to keep you overnight.' The name of this couple was George and Edith McIntyre, and they were the first to profess in the Workers' meetings. Not long afterward, his brother Dan and wife [McIntyre] professed out on Staten Island" Account of George Walker's Early Days, 1988).

The Ellis Island Ship Manifests have a column for: "Whether going to join a relative or friend and if so, what relative or friend and his complete name and address." Many of the early Workers who came to the USA used the McIntyres as the "friend" they were going to visit. Most used one of the following: (1) Dan/Don McIntyre, 132 VanDyke Street, Brooklyn, New York; or (2) George McIntyre, 132 Coffey Street, Brooklyn, NY; or (3) C. B. Wilson, 6401 Leeds Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 1904: 42 workers entered the work; 25 brothers and 17 sisters.  Jack Carroll entered the work on Feb. 16, 1904.

1904: SECOND GROUP OF SIX (6) WORKERS GO TO AMERICA:  According to Ellis Island manifest for the SS Furnesia, six Workers, including the first two Sister Workers, departed from Londonderry Port, Ireland on May 6, 1904, and arrived in New York on May 16, 1904. They were:

Mary Carroll (age 24 yrs, Irish) (May) (Passenger No. 11)
Sarah Rogers (age yrs 30, Irish) (Passenger No. 12)
John (Jack) Carroll (age 25, Irish–brother to Mary/May Carroll) (Passenger No. 1)
Hugh Mathews (age 26 yrs, Irish) (Passenger No. 2)
William Cleland (age 26 yrs, Scotch–Wm. Irvine's cousin) (Passenger No. 3)
Charles Glenn (age 27 yrs, Scotch). (Passenger No. 4)
(Secret Sect by Parker, p. 32; Notes on Geo. Walker's Early Days in America, 1979 and Ellis Island Manifest for SS Furnessia).

1904: THIRD GROUP OF EIGHT (8) WORKERS GO TO AMERICA: According to the Ellis Island records for the SS Oceanic, eight Workers, including three more Sister Workers, departed from Liverpool, England on Nov. 30, 1904, on the SS Oceanic, and arrived in New York on Dec. 8, 1904. They were:

John (Jack) Jackson, age 24 yrs, Single, Irish; Residence: Waltham 
James Jardine, age 20 yrs, Single, Scotch, Residence: Waltham
Francis (Frank) Scott, age 20 yrs, Single, Irish, Residence: Waltham
William Weir, age 22 yrs, Single, Scotch; Residence: Chippenham
David Lyness, age 26 yrs, Single, Irish, Residence: Chippenham
Bella Cooke, age 23 yrs, Single, Irish, Residence: Norfolk
Lizzie M. Coles, age 26 yrs, Single, Irish; Residence: Norfolk (aka Lily, Elizabeth, Mary)
Emma Gill, age 33 yrs, Single, Irish, Residence: Meath 
(Ellis Island Manifest for SS Oceanic)

"It is a good while ago now that one morning towards the end of November 1904, my companion and I were in the east of England and were preaching there...and a knock came on the door and a telegram came for me, 'Be in Liverpool Tuesday and sail for New York Saturday. That was short notice....well we landed in New York on the 9th of December' " (Jack Jackson at Freedom, NY Convention Notes. November or August, 14, 1960*).

Additional groups of Workers came to America in 1905 and 1908.  Arriving on Aug. 14, 1905, were Willie Jamieson, John Paterson, Jim McLeod, Aggie Hutchison on the SS Numidian. And on Sept. 4, 1908, nine more workers arrived on the SS CEDRIC (Ellis Island Ship Manifests).

1904–05: THE FIRST FOUR WORKERS GO TO CANADA. According to a list titled "Arrival of Early Workers in North America," four brother workers arrived in Montreal on August 13, 1904; destination Souris, Manitoba. They were Harry Oliver, Tom Craig, George Buttimer and John Doak, who later remarked: "When we four boys came up the St. Lawrence in 1904, there was not a person profesing here on the prairies.  Just four little corns of grain going into the ground, and look at the harvest!" (1945 Portage Conv.)

On August 10, 1905, seventeen workers (eleven brother and six sister workers) aboard the SS Virginian (steerage class) arrived in Quebec, and on Aug. 11, some departed in Montreal on Aug. 11 destined for U.S., Toronto and Sidney, Manitoba. They were Ed Armstrong, James Boyd, Ralph Bullick, Hugh Doak, William Jackson, Robert Johnston, Thomas Lyness, Tom Patterson, Tom Purves, Noble Stinson, R. D. (Dick) Watchorn; and Sister Workers Martha Cooper, Dora Holland, Annie Irwin, Martha (Mattie) McGivern, Mabel Reid and Annie Skerritt.

On December 24, 1905, eight more brother workers arrived at Halifax, N.S. aboard the SS Parisian, headed for Winnipeg and Toronto. They were: Geo. Nelson, Robert Darling, Crawford Crooke, John McNeill, Wm. Armstrong, Wm. McIlwrath (single), Wm. Snedden and Geo. Manning.

1904, JULY: THE FIRST TWO WORKERS GO TO AUSTRALIA: John Hardie (often misspelled Hardy) and Alex (Sandy) Alexander sailed from the UK to Melbourne, NSW on July 24, 1904, on the SS Medic (John Hardie–Concerning His Arrival in Australia and New Zealand). 

1904, SEPTEMBER 25: FIRST WORKER ARRIVED IN NEW ZEALAND: After two months in Australia, Sandy became discouraged and left John. Things were very difficult. Their tent had been destroyed by high winds and they were sleeping out in the open. John left Melbourne and went to Wellington, NZ, to visit an old friend, Tom Hastings and his wife, who had moved to NZ from Ireland in 1901, arriving there on Sept. 25, 1904 (according to Charlie Hastings, Tom's son).

After some months, John returned to Melbourne. John may have held some Gospel Meetings while he was in Wellington. "Charlie Hastings father, Tom Hastings, had been one of the very early members. Charlie told me that one of the Workers had approached his father to enquire about the early days. Apparently his father's reply was 'Leave it alone; dozens became discouraged and left the Meetings, and as many Workers as Friends chucked it in. You don't want to record that sort of thing, leave it alone' " (Ian Carlton of Hamilton, NZ letter to K. Lewis, Dec. 6, 1993*). 

1905, SEPTEMBER:  EIGHT (8) WORKERS GO TO SOUTH AFRICA.  In 1905, the first eight workers went to pioneer the Work in South Africa. Passenger List for SS Geelong departing from London on Aug. 25, 1905 and arriving on Sept. 17, 1905: Wilson Reid (24), Joe Kerr (24), Martha Skerritt (22) and Barbara Baxter (24) disembarked at Capetown; Alex Pearce (29) and John Cavanagh (27) at Port Elizabeth; and Mary Moodie (38) and Lily Reid (26) at Durban.

In 1905, 74 Workers entered the Work; 43 brothers and 31 sisters. Also in 1905, sixty more Workers left for countries abroad. At Santee Convention in California in 1964, Fannie Carroll said: "Then in 1905 many workers, over sixty of them, left for overseas. I would like to see over sixty leaving California and even going overseas for the Gospel’s sake because of what it has meant in this country, in Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and other places." Eldon Tenniswood said at the 1977 Family Counseling Meeting held at Santee, California: 

"In 1905, 52 young men and women saw the need of a perishing world and sailed from Great Britain to carry the gospel to South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the USA. God laid it upon their hearts to give their lives for the Kingdom and to carry this message into the world. In 1903, the first Workers came to America. A few more came in 1904. They gave their lives. The brethren in England, Ireland and Scotland knew they had to have their needs met, and the fares to go to their respective fields. Some of those people had real nice homes; they sold their nice fancy furniture, some of their heirlooms which had been handed down and were valuable, and gave this to the Kingdom for the work of God to progress. With their whole heart, they made an investment–both the Workers and the Friends. Now when I look into different countries and see God's people and this great fellowship, how it has prospered, I realize it is because of self-denial and sacrifice, on the part of God's servants and on the part of God's people."

Telling the Truth has a hard copy of the documents, books, newspaper articles, references, etc. used in this book. Any exceptions are noted with an asterisk (*).

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