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The Man From Owyhee (o-wa-he)

By Stewart C. Potter
April 01, 2001

The Duck Valley Indian Reservation is located on the Northern border of Nevada. The community where the Agency and other businesses such as the Post Office, school, hospital, and two stores are located is named Owyhee.

During the summer of 1948, I traveled with a Presbyterian minister from California to Owyhee to deliver some equipment to the Mission Church at Owyhee. It was at that time that I first met Rush who was employed by the Presbyterian Board of National Missions to pastor the congregation at Owyhee.

Rush asked me if I was interested in staying and working there until school started in the fall. The work consisted mainly of refurnishing the buildings and grounds. There were already two college students employed for the summer. Both were planning on entering the ministry. I have often thought what greater teacher could they have been around than Rush.

During the first summer, the type of labor was mainly repair, such as the fencing. The area was open range and, if you weren't fenced properly, you could wake up in the morning and have horses and cattle within your confines.

Elko, Nevada was 100 miles south and Mountain Home, Idaho was 100 north. Rush and I made several trips to these towns during the two summers I was there. We would haul building supplies, etc., on the truck that belonged to the mission. It was on these one-day trips that I learned much about many things. He was a great teacher. I was somewhat versed in Calvinism, but he took the Five Points to a loftier height.

As most people know, he had a great love for books. I will assure you it was not a love that came late. He had a library on the second floor of the house that was mind-boggling for me at the time. Folks on the reservation who saw it wondered how the second floor held up, me included.

The mail was delivered by stage from Elko five days a week. I don't remember what day, but at approximately 11:00 a.m., Rush would be looking down the road for the dust the stage was kicking up. That meant his new book was almost here. After he received it from the driver, he would return to the house by crossing the road then across the footbridge and then into the yard with out looking up. This weekly event took on a life of its own as several folks wouldn't miss it if their lives depended on it. It was during the first summer there that he introduced me to Tolstoy and other Russian authors.

Rush was sometimes timid in asking people to do things for him. What comes to mind in this regard is his manner in asking me to play the piano at the various services. He knew I played, but was hesitant to ask until the first Saturday night I was there. After that first Sunday, I played at worship, weddings, funerals, and prayer meetings for two summers.

The winters at Owyhee were harsh to say the least. I am sure that living and ministering to the population in that environment had a profound impact on Rush. Alcoholism was epidemic with the young people, and many problems were brought to Rush's attention for his handling. He relied on the strong and well-grounded elders of the congregation for advice and support. It was with this group that I often went hunting. Rush wasn't much for hunting (he did eat the sage hen, duck, and venison), but he did like to fish. He would spend a part of each weekday fishing in the canal that was directly in front of his house. Other times he would go up to the main part of the Owyhee River. He preferred to fish by himself.

I have fond memories of events and lessons well learned during the two summers I spent living with Rush and his family. I was blessed. As a footnote. I telephoned Rush about eight years ago and asked him if he had any recommendations of a faithful Presbyterian Church in the Sacramento area. He said he didn't know of any first hand. He did however recommend a congregation in Sacramento. It took me two years to darken the door of the Covenant Reformed Church of Sacramento ... another way the Lord's providence used Rousas J. Rushdoony.


Topics: Culture , R. J. Rushdoony

Stewart C. Potter

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