When Guy Irvine Turned Preacher For A Day
Old Time Tales of Warren County


When Guy Irvine Turned Preacher For a Day

Highway robberies were not uncommon, when lumbermen were on their way back to Warren County from a trip down the river, with the proceeds from the sale of their rafts, in bills or gold coin in a money belt, or more often a leather satchel. With much of the country still a wilderness of woods, affording an ideal hiding place for a fugitive, with all means of communication extremely slow, with hard liquor everywhere and men traveling the highways with considerable quantities of cash; the stage was set for highway robberies and the only wonder is that a wealthy lumberman like Guy Irvine ever got back home to Warren County safely with his cash.

There was not one pioneer lumberman who made frequent trips down the rivers, who did not at some time or other have trouble with outlaws who wanted his money. Teddy Collins had several brushes with highwaymen, Lewis F. Watson once looked into the barrel of a cocked pistol and Guy Irvine was held up not once but several times.

Maybe Irvine grew tired of hold-up men, he was known to carry quantities of cash. He related his narrow escapes on several occasions, but the time Guy Irwin turned itinerant preacher for a day to escape a holdup, is an Allegheny River classic.

Irvine had stayed overnight at a tavern in Franklin and while there had received a round-about warning that hold-up men were waiting for him up the river at a certain location. It was a straight tip and Irvine knew it.

So he laid as clever a plan as ever was devised to escape a highwayman without trouble. He went to a Franklin store and bought a couple of dozen little testaments. Also he purchased a pair of heavily rimmed spectacles and a white necktie. He then repaired to his room at the tavern, placed the testaments in the satchel, on top of his money, tied the white necktie under his chin, put on the glasses, assumed as much a clerical air as was possible in a man who looked like a prize fighter, and sallied forth on the road. As he walked he carried one of the little testaments in his hand, reading texts from time to time.

At a turn in the road he met two hard looking gentlemen, strangers. They stood directly in his path. Irvine approached the highwaymen with a benign smile, set down his satchelful of money at their very feet, opened it-displaying all the testaments that lay on top. "My good men, may I sell you a testament?" he began.

"You get th' hell on up th' road," growled the strangers. "We ain't got no time to talk to preachers. We're lookin' fer a man we got to meet here on important business. You get th' hell outa here now." Guy Irvine shook his head ruefully, oppressed by the harshness of a wicked world. He deliberately closed his satchel, bowed and went on his way. His step was slow and discouraged as he walked with head down, meditating on the sinfulness of mankind.

A couple of hours later a bartender in an Oil City tavern was dumbfounded to see a white-cravatted, bespectacled preacher stride into his barroom, bang down a heavy satchel on the bar and roar, "Well, I fooled them bastards that time. Give us a whiskey George, in a hurry !"

SOURCE:  Page(s) 153-154: Old Time Tales of Warren County; Meadville, Pa.: Press of Tribune Pub. Co., 1932


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