“1963, October 29
Del Rio News-Herald
HOUSTON (AP) – A modern “Robinson Crusoe” life is ahead for 69 pioneers who will leave next week to live in a remote Paraguayan jungle.
In the group are 30 adults, 28 children, ages 2 to 12 years, 11 babies and five ranch dogs. Twenty-four are from Houston and most of the others likewise are from Texas.
They will depart Nov. 3 by chartered airliner for Asuncion, which is a 425-mile riverboat journey from their planned settlement.
The leader of the group is Brother James A. St. John, a preacher and rancher from Bloomington. His group is known as Camp Beulah, Inc.
A former Baptist minister who has preached in Houston, he is taking his wife Helen and their two children, James, 7, and Martha, 10.
St. John, a 6-foot-3, muscular man, wearing slacks, shirt, cowboy boots and a straw hat said: “We are going into what is virtually the jungle to build our own self-supporting mission community.
“We will retain our U.S. citizenship, but we have permanent Paraguayan visas and we intend to stay.
“This is the start of a new life for us all and we are taking everything necessary to support us in the jungle—our farm implements, a boat, three printing presses, tractors, a caterpillar bulldozers to build roads and our household goods, including pots and pans. Ten male members of the group were in Houston seeking equipment and stores to be shipped to the $249,000-acre tract they plan to farm.
The land has been made available by Pan-Western Development Co. of Paraguay, St. John said.
It is an area covered with palm trees and scrub called [sic] at Puerto Olympian, 425 miles by air from Asuncion, on the Paraguay River, near Brazil. The only way it can be reached is by air or river. There are no roads.
Bobby Watts, a native of Abilene, is going to the jungle settlement with his wife and seven children.
Most of the party came to Beulah Land, a missionary training camp St. John started in Coalmont, near Tracy City, Tenn., about three years ago.
Watts said Jim McRoberts, a rancher with a home in New Orleans, but now living in Paraguay, became friendly with St. John and it was through him that the land was made available for the group to develop.
“Last December God spoke to us and gave us a message to go to Paraguay.” Watts said, “and to do missionary work there.”
“Brother St. John sold his ranch to raise money for the trip, and we are all putting in our own belongings and farm equipment and are sharing in the project.”
St. John said the group plans to fly either from Brownsville or Matamoros, Mexico, to Ascunción around Nov. 3.
He was in the jungle a month or so ago to start the natives building houses from palm trees for his party. A mission hall and a church will be built later, he said.
We are going because we have been reborn and it is God’s will.” St. John said.”
Mom had no idea she needed to obtain separate pictures for our passports. Thinking she could take one picture of the whole Wood crew, the results did not end up in our passports.