CABIN ON THE FORTY-MILE
(How Three Alaskan Drunks Found Jesus)
By: Joseph Conlee
(As told to Charles S. Price)
During the Alaska gold rush in the late 1800's, I was sent to an old, remote cabin to keep watch on the property. Gold had been discovered nearby, and I was hired to make certain no one jumped the claim.
My pay for staying in the cabin that winter was plenty of free grub and all the whiskey I could drink! I couldn't make it a day without whiskey and now I had all I could drink, for a whole winter.
But as the days passed, I grew lonely. I found myself missing my wife and little daughter. Prior to my leaving for Alaska, they had seen me off. My darling daughter had put a little medicine kit inside the trunk packed for me, and inside the kit was a small Bible. I remembered her last words, "I wouldn't give this little book to anyone in the world but you, Daddy. You read it, okay?"
I didn't want to hurt her feelings, but I wasn't going to read her Bible. So the Bible lay safely tucked away in the trunk in the corner of the cabin.
As loneliness ate away at me, one day an unexpected knock came on the cabin door. There stood a man cold and hungry. I eagerly invited him in. "There's plenty of food and whiskey for both of us!" I said.
His name was Jimmy Miller. The two of us drank ourselves to sleep every night, hooting and hollering as the snow piled high outside.
Two weeks later another knock came at the door. A Mr. Wally Flett entered. When he saw the whiskey, his mouth watered, and I invited him to join us.
Night after night the three of us got roaring drunk, only to numb our pounding heads the next morning with more whiskey.
Winter hung on. Three different times we made trips to Dawson for more whiskey and grub. We drank so much that we began to experience delirium tremens.
One night Jimmie Miller had severe delirium tremens and a fever. In great agony he cried, "Get me a doctor! Don't let me lie here and die!"
But we were 40 miles from Dawson City. It was 40 below zero and the snow was deep. Then I remembered the little medicine kit in the old trunk. When I opened it, out fell the little black book onto the floor my daughter had given me.
"It's that Bible, curse it!" I said, as I walked over to the stove to burn it.
"Don't throw it in!" Wally shouted. "Don't you know we haven't a thing to read in this godforsaken country? The only magazine we have - I've read 20 times!" and he snatched the Bible from my hand.
"If you want to read it, go ahead, but I won't!" I exclaimed.
Wally spotted some handwriting on one of the blank pages, and read it out loud. "To my darling Daddy. With love, Florence."
Suddenly hearing those words -- not knowing she had written them; now I was glad I hadn't burned the Bible . . . but I didn't tell them.
Jimmy began to get better. As he was recuperating, he started to read the Bible out loud. I'd yell, "Shut up!" but Wally was interested. He would say, "What was that you read, Jimmie?" Then Jimmy would read it again.
Wally would say, "I had no idea there were things like that in the Bible. What do you say we keep reading it just to pass the time away? Not to believe it, mind you. Joe was a Pastor once, you know? He says Pastors are fools."
I was outnumbered. We were all bored, so we took turns reading.
What we didn't realize at first was the change coming over the lonely cabin on the Forty-Mile. The whiskey barrel was going down more slowly. Some days, five, six, and even seven chapters were read from the Bible.
One day Wally said, "Have you two noticed a change coming over us? I haven't heard swearing now for three or four days. I wonder if it's the Bible reading that's been doing it?"
January came. Boredom continued. Then came February 14. It was Wally's turn to read scriptures:
Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." (John 14:2)
Suddenly I couldn't hold it any longer. I began to sob.
"What's the matter with you, Joe?" asked Wally and Jimmy.
"Just keep on reading," I said. "I was just thinking about my little girl. I am not crying because of that Bible," I lied.
There was a moment of silence, and then a confession broke forth from Wally's lips. "You know, for the last five days I've been wanting to pray, and I was scared you fellows would laugh at me, but I'm not scared anymore. I'm going to pray."
In a shaken voice, I spoke, "Well ... since you have committed yourself, I will tell you my heart has been breaking for the last week. I've been hearing my mother pray for me, and she's been dead for years! How about you, Jimmy?"
"If you fellows want to pray, I'll pray with you," answered Jimmy.
The little holy Bible had worked its wonder in each of us.
We three drunken soaks in the lonely cabin on the Forty-Mile got down on our knees. Our prayers rose higher and higher. Suddenly Wally jumped up on his feet and started shouting, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Jesus heard me!"
While he was shouting, up jumped Jimmie Miller, and I followed. Then all three of us started jumping up and down, shouting glory and praises to God!
It was two o'clock that morning when we ended our praying and praising. Then we destroyed the whiskey barrel with a hatchet and let the whiskey run in the snow.
That night, Jimmy, Wally and I were born again spiritually by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit had been working in our hearts as the scriptures had been read, until it was time for God to birth us into the Kingdom of His Son (Col. 1:13-14).
Months later, God called me back into the ministry as a Pastor again, and Jimmy and Wally were also called of God to serve as Pastors.
PT Staff Note: We received this email on 3/21/2018 from a Mr. Wayne Wayner, which we appreciate very much receiving:
I just read your copy of The Lonely Cabin on the Forty Mile, which tells a story of Joseph Conlee. Because I am a graduate of the Bible College where Joseph Conlee served after his Alaska experience, allow me to fill in some of the details.
Evangelist Charles S.Price wrote the story after talking with Conlee who was on his deathbed. And Price put it in his magazine, Golden Grain.
Conlee's widow attended Lighthouse Temple, Eugene, Oregon, in the 1950s when I was a member. The Conlee story was in tract form for many years and might still be available somewhere. Gospel Tract Society has what appears to be the original on their web site, by Dr. Charles S. Price.
God bless you in your publishing ministry. Wayne Warner, Retired director of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center, Springfield, MO.
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Staff Note: A number of different sources has printed copies of this testimony over the years and gave them out as tracts, it so seems. We no longer have the copy we used to post this to the website, so it is now impossible for us to know from WHAT exact publishing source it came from. A Pastor Burt Evans gave me a copy of the tract around 1982 and I tucked it away for years until we started this website in 1998. There is a possibility that a Dr. Charles S. Price may well be the original author of the tract, and not Joseph Conlee. Nevertheless, the testimony is true, which is what matters the most, and God is still using it many years later. (- Norm Rasmussen; Founder, Precious Testimonies)
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