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CAMP BEULAH GROUP

Bobby and Richard Watts 16
Bobby and Richard Watts 16

The Houston Post Section 1, Page 1, (lost)

Below:

Cont. Page

Sunday, October 27, 1963

CAMP BEULAH GROUP (cont. from page 1)

[…] of land it plans to form.

The land has been made available for the group’s use by Pan-Western-Development Co of Paraguay.

IT IS AN AREA covered with palm trees and scrub called monte at Puerto Olympio, 325 miles by air from Asuncion, on the Paraguay River and close to the border of Brazil.

The only way it can be reached is by air or river as there are no roads.

St [sic] John said that Hugo Zanelli, a Houston freight forwarder of the M & M Building, is arranging the shipment of the group’s equipment through the Strachan Shipping Co.

More than 100 tons of machinery and household effects belonging to the pioneers are due to sail from City Dock 21 in the Port of Houston Thursday. It will be carried by the Argentine Freighter Granadero to Buenos Aires, and then by river boat to Puerto Olympio, where the river Paraguay runs through the settlement area at great width and to a depth of more than 60 feet.

WHILE MOST OF the menfolk labored with hammers and nails to crate their goods in Houston, the women and children of Camp Beulah, Inc. waited in a former motel and nightclub which has been rented as a temporary camp at Harlingen.

St. [sic] John said the group plans to fly from either Brownsville or Matamoros to Asuncion around November 3rd in a chartered Paraguayan airliner. The cost of the fares will be $11,200, he said.

He was loading a two ton lathe onto a truck at Big Joe’s machinery shop at 6615 Hurst, in North Houston, Saturday.

With him, helping to manhandle the lathe, which they were taking to Paraguay, was Eugene Couch, a missionary-printer of the 500 block of Columbia St in the Heights. Couch, his wife Eddie Lou, and three children are flying with the party.

HE WILL OPERATE the three presses on which it is planned to print schoolbooks for the children, tracts for the natives, a camp newspaper, and eventually, it is hoped, that a translation of the Bible in Guarani, the tribal dialect of the area.

Otherwise, only Spanish and Portuguese are spoken in this part of the jungle.

Other Houstonians in the group are:

Rev Jack Wood, a former pastor at Birdsall Baptist Church, Columbia St, who is taking his wife, Wyvonne, a schoolteacher, and their five children. Wood, who said that he founded Birdsall Baptist Church is to be the assistant manager of the settlement.

Willie Lee Smith, a parttime preacher of the 1400 Block of White St, his wife Betty, and son.

Vernon Long, a caterpillar and bulldozer operator of North Houston, his wife Caroline and four children.

Lenny Angerstein, a Houston missionary, his wife Hattie Joe, and son, Samuel, age 2 ½ months old, the youngest member of the party.

MOST OF THE members of the group are Texans.

Bobby Watts, a native of Abilene, is going to the jungle’s settlement with his wife Betty, and seven children, Richard, 16, Nelda, 15, Randy, 14, Kathie, 12, Timothy, 9, Dorothy, 7, and Annette, 2.

Two brothers named Townsend, from Corn city near Goliad are both farmers.

Dwight, 23 and his wife, Bertha, have five children while Calvin, 33, and his wife Dora, have seven.

None of the group is more than 42 years old, and the average age is about 30 years.

BOBBY WATTS SAID that most of the group members came together at Camp Beulah, the missionary training and boys camp, St John started at Coalmont near Tracy City, Tenn, about three and a half years ago. He said that Jim MacRoberts, a rancher with a home in New Orleans, who now lives in Paraguay, became friendly with St. John and it was through him that the land in Paraguay had been made available for the group to develop.

“Last December, God spoke to us and gave us a message to go to Paraguay,” said Watts, “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. We decided to call the settlement Camp Beulah after the ranch where we mostly all came together.”

“WE HAVE PICKED up a fewer more members on the way. I think all of us, including our wives, will be glad when we get there.”

St John said he had been down to the jungle a month or so to start the natives building houses for the group from palm trees. A mission hall and a church will be built later, he said.

“We are going because we have been re-born and it is God’s will,” he said. “He has so planned things that we have one of almost every skill necessary for survival.

“We have no doctor but there is a Mennonite mission about 100 miles away where there is a doctor and we hope to get a plane so we can fly there with anyone suddenly taken sick.

“Bobby Watts is a qualified pilot and we have ranchers, farmers, a diesel mechanic, a man qualified to run the boat, school teachers, five ordained preachers, and a bulldozer operator to cut the roads. We will grow grain and other foods only for our own use at first, since there is no one to sell produce to but later possible developments will depend on God’s will. We are all happy to accept this challenge.”

Second half of Camp Beulah (1st half is lost)
Second half of Camp Beulah (1st half is lost)

END

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Texans Face Savage Peril With Bible, Rifle, Pistol

Pilgrims pray for relief of dysentery.
Pilgrims pray for relief of dysentery.

PILGRIMS IN PARAGUAY

January 1, 1964, Section 1, Page 1

Texans Face Savage Peril With Bible, Rifle, Pistol

By BERNARD MURPHY

Every man of Camp Beulah group has a Bible. He also has a rifle, as well as a six-shooter at his side.

As Brother Jack Wood of Houston put it, “Every man will have to take his life in his own hands. Here it’s a case of praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”

The 76 pilgrims from Texas, who are seeking a new life in the wilderness of Paraguay, find that defense is one of the problems in their goal setting up a self-sufficient community.

APART FROM the jaguars, pumas, snakes and crocodiles, Wood said that on the back of adjoining land bought by McRoberts lives the Moro tribe – the most savage tribe in all Paraguay.

They‘ve killed three missionary families in the last four years,” he said.

Brother St. John’s predecessor, the former manager of Del Sol, also died with his boots on.

He was an American, a native of Virginia, named Letcher Winthrow.

WINTHROW, a strange, hermit-like man, had lived in Paraguay for about eight years. He finally took a Guarani woman to live with him as a common law wife. They had a baby daughter, a pretty little girl who is now going to school in Asuncion. Fortunately, Winthrow, shortly before he died, acknowledged that he was the father of the child. Thus his common law wife and baby were able to inherit his estate.

One night at the very place where we stayed, Winthrow found some rustlers, as he called them. He said they were stealing two of his cows. When it ended one of the alleged rustlers was dead.

WINTHROW SAID that he did not know he had killed one of the men. He went back to his shack and went to sleep.

Later, the dead man’s body was found. There was a bullet wound in the man’s back. Relatives started a hue [sic] and cry.

Meanwhile, Winthrow had decided to go to the settlement at Olimpo, the nearest village,

See PILGRIMS on Page 15

PILGRIMS IN PARAGUAY

Continued from Page 1

January 1, 1964, Section 1, Page 15

and report the incident. When he got there he discovered that the police were looking for him to arrest him for murder.

Winthrow told his story. He was tried at Asuncion on a charge of murder. The court decided that he was justified in killing the rustler and he was acquitted.

A BROTHER of the dead man warned Winthrow: “I’m going to kill you.”

Despite the warning, Winthrow returned to Del Sol. Hr had sold some cattle and had about $2,000 on him.

With complete disregard for his safety, Winthrow went riding in the dusk. He was bush-whacked near a water hole and shot dead.

The $2,000 vanished. Winthrow’s killer is believed to have taken it and fled across the river into Brazil. The rustler’s brother has not been seen since. Winthrow, whose body was not found until two after he was shot, is buried where he fell. His grave marked by a pile of stones.

RUSTLING IN Paraguay, said McRoberts, is not a serious problem. He said there are no bands of rustlers running off large numbers of cows. If people are hungry, they sometimes kill a cow, cut it up, and take away the carcass. The rustler’s are hard to apprehend. They live little evidence and it is hard to tell whether the animal has been killed by humans or a jaguar.

Many of the cattle ranches in the Chaco are of immense size and cowhands only see the animals, at most, once a week.

One ranch about 40 miles from Del Sol covers 11 million acres.

McROBERTS believes that there are tremendous opportunities in Paraguay, although he does not expect to make any profits out of his ranching there for at least ten years.

He says that from the vast areas of rich grazing land a great meat producing industry can be built. He intends to ranch scientifically with the modern methods of the United States. Just before we arrived at Del Sol, McRoberts completed the purchase of another great tract of land adjoining this property.

Pan-Western Enterprises, Inc. is investing a vast amount of money in Paraguay.

McRoberts, a puckish man of great enthusiasm, had a personal interview with President Kennedy a $1 Million loan repayable at 9% to develop his ranches.

HIS COMPANY IS matching each United States Government-loaned dollar with its own capital.

In his view, with American know how, the rich earth of land-locked Paraguay can be developed to compete with Argentina as a source of meat supply. He has many other plans of marketing the produce of this fertile land.

The new ranch – Estancia Puerto Guarani- lies about 20 miles down the Paraguay River. It is one of the world’s largest ranching operations, occupying about 2 ¼ million acres of waist high grass. It has freshwater streams, extensive farm buildings, citrus groves, and its own deep draft docks on the river, which is almost a mile wide at this point.

UNLIKE DEL SOL, Estancia Puerto Guarani has been established as a ranching community for a considerable time.

The Paraguay River, one of the world’s largest waterways, provides a means of transport all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

Tributaries of the river interlace the 2.5 million acres of the ranch, making it one of the most highly irrigated regions of the country.

The ranch has its own quaint railroad, engine and machine shops, a general store, private police force, a church, school, workers’ quarters, and a population of more than 1,000 persons.

“When I first brought the Texans over,” said McRoberts, “I intended to house them at Del Sol until they could build their own permanent homes.

I THOUGHT that with their tractors, bulldozers, and generators, they could soon make the place reasonably comfortable.

“But now that we have bought Puerto Guarani, I think I will move Saint John and his followers over there. It will be much easier for them. There is already electricity there and fine buildings and every kind of facility.

“I think they will find it less arduous until they have become thoroughly accustomed to the climate and the terrain and the language.”

After nearly a week of life in the wilderness, I found myself longing for some hot water with which to shave, a floor that wasn’t uneven mud, a bath and a cool drink.

FOR A WEEK I had lived with no more exciting drink than tepid water. I was so hungry most of the time from the excess of fresh air and heat that I wolfed oatmeal, spaghetti and noodles, rice and bread, made in the frying pan with relish. Even the Guarani rolls -almost as hard as wood- were welcome.

On Friday I packed my dusty belongings because on Friday the weekly mail plane lands on the landing strip beside the camp and I wanted to catch it.

I said goodbye to my kind hosts of Camp Beulah, Inc. Larry, Randy, and Brother Couch helped me with my gear over the rock-hard ground to the landing strip. I presented my water bottle to Larry and prepared to wait for the plane. It was due between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m.

IT WAS SO HOT on the landing strip that a phonograph record I had bought on the way down in Chile curved at the edges.

It became necessary to move under a tree. Here about 10 cows and several bulls were also sheltering. For three hours the cows and I waited. I had to get up frequently from my resting place on the ground to shoo the cows away from my belongings.

About 1:30 PM Brother Saint John sent a small boy to say he didn’t think the plane was coming. So I returned, somewhat embarrassed, to join the group for lunch.

I found a few days later that the plane had not come because the cross wind on the landing strip was too strong for a safe landing.

Jack Wood -Displaying fishA GAUCHO who rode in from the radio station about 10 miles away reported that a plane with McRoberts on board would pick me up at 7 AM Sunday.

The radio station is a small one by which McRoberts, in Ascuncion.

Two more days of life in the Chaco persuaded me to rise earlier than ever that Sunday.

It was a lovely hot morning but there was one distinctive upsetting feature to life. I noticed that none of the women had gone to the cook house, and I was hungry, even for a plate of rice and beans and river water.

LARRY MURRAY gave me the stunning news “they fast on Sundays,” he said.

When the small four-seater plane arrived I rushed across to greet McRoberts. He had with him in the plane Dr. Angel DeAldecoa, vice president of Pan-Western Enterprises, Inc, and his son, a young medical man and an English-speaking pilot who was born in China.

McRoberts took Saint John and another member of the group on a flight to his new property at Puerto Guarani.

Meanwhile, Dr. De Aldecoa, who speaks fluent French, invited me in that language to join him for ‘le petit de jeuner’.

WE WALKED together over to a native house near the camp. I had often seen men, women, and masses of native children pouring from its doors. But I had never dreamed of the good old-fashioned earthly delights it stored.

On a table covered with a neat blue tablecloth places had been laid for us. A native woman brought in our plates, each bearing a massive slice of steak topped by two fried eggs, fresh baked bread, and a pot of steaming coffee; the sort of meal I had forgotten existed.

As I savored my eggs and coffee I thought it might be a good thing if these Indians did a little missionary work among my late hosts to cap the meal and complete my restoration to civilized living, Dr. De Aldecoa with the magic aid of the Coleman ice box from the plane produced some glasses, a bottle of whisky and huge lumps of ice.

NEVER WAS A lonely sinner of the Chaco brought back to civilization more pleasantly.

Glancing round instinctively to see if any Camp Beulah non smokers were in sight, I lit a cigarette.

73 Fly from Harlingen to Paraguay

Nov 16 1963 Bernard Murphy
Nov 16 1963 Bernard Murphy

GREAT ADVENTURE BEGINS

73 Will Fly From Harlingen To New Homes in Paraguay
By BERNARD MURPHY
Post Staff Correspondent

HARLINGEN – For 73 men, women and children camped in a former restaurant and building project near here, Sunday marked the beginning of a great new adventure.

A chartered airliner was to arrive in the United States from Paraguay to take them on the first stage of a journey of thousand[s] of miles to the jungle area of Puerto Olympian of the Paraguay River close to the southern border of Brazil.

The airplane with its human cargo of emigrants was scheduled to take off from here for Paraguay early Tuesday.

THERE, ON A 249,000-acre tract which can only be reached by river or air because there are no roads, they plan to build a settlement and mission.
Most of the pioneers – 24 of them are Houstonians – have been waiting in camp here since mid-May to start the journey they first decided last December to make.

Texans fly to paraguay
Eddie Lou Couch, (unknown), Wyvonne Wood, Bettye Smith

Trim Mrs. Wyvonne Wood, wife of Jack Wood, a Houston missionary, spoke of the coming departure excitedly.

“It’s a wonderful relief to know that at last we are on our way, “ she said. “It’s been a long wait. Since our furniture and household goods went by sea from Houston a few weeks ago we having been living rough, even our beds have gone and it’s been a strain living perpetually as though you were moving house at a time.

Hattie Angerstein with Samuel
Hattie Angerstein with Samuel

WE HAVE JUST heard that the Paraguay river has dropped to only four feet in depth due to lack of rain and it will probably be late January before our goods arrive at our jungle home – so we’ll have to rough it some more, but no one is downhearted.”

Brother James A. Saint John, leader of the expedition said four more persons have joined the group since the Houston Post first reported the plan to build a jungle mission settlement.

“We’ve had our letters from all over Texas, from California, Missouri and Ohio from people wanting to join us,” he said.

“But they had different reasons for going. Most of them wanted to go because they were discontented with life here. But we are going because we believe that in building a self-supporting mission, we are fulfilling God’s will.”

A COWBOY FROM Woodsboro – Gail Borden – who shares our views has joined us with his wife, Mosollo, and his daughters, Gaylean 8, and Cheryl, 7 – so now we are 73 instead of 69. And while we’ve been waiting for transport, there have been additions to the dog population. In addition to the five ranch dogs, we will take five new leopard puppies with us in the plane,” Saint John said.

Saint John, a preacher and rancher from Bloomington, near Victoria, was formerly a preacher in Houston. He said that the plane taking the party to Paraguay was to have arrived Saturday.

JIM EOBERTS, a New Orleans rancher now with the Pan-Western Development Co. of Paraguay, who is making the land available to us, has arranged for a Constellation airliner to pick us up, but it will not arrive until Sunday,” Saint John said. “There will be room for everyone, including the dogs.

“We are also planning to fly in other planes from Asuncion (capital of Paraguay) to our camp instead of making the 425 mile journey by river boat.”

Borden said that he read about the group in the Post. “I’ve been a cowboy and I’ve worked in the oil fields,” he said, “but I felt that I was called to do something else. I’d known Brother Saint John before, so when I read about the trip I decided to go with them.”

THERE ARE NOW 32 adults, 30 children ages two to 12, and 11 babies in the party.

Each member of the group has a different skill, and Saint John said they hope to establish an entirely self-sufficient community in the jungle.

During their wait in Texas, the travelers have been living a communal life, eating in the communal dining hall and joining together for daily prayers.

Pilgrims from Texas Get Into Trouble in Peurto Guarani South America

Pilgrims from Texas Get Into Trouble

1965, February 08

pilgrims get in trouble

San Antonio Light

HOUSTON – (AP) – The golden dream of a group of spiritual pilgrims who left Texas for a “paradise” in the bush country of Paraguay apparently has become somewhat tarnished.

One of the Paraguay pilgrims is in jail and five others were accused of illegally killing cattle.

The Houston Post published a story today of how the pilgrims are faring after having left Texas in December of 1963.

76 AT START

At the start there were 76 of them – many from Houston – but now only 48 remain in Paraguay. The rest, weary and disillusioned, had already given up and gone home.

The result may cause the ill-starred expedition to come to an end, the Post reported.

The Post learned that last month most of the pilgrims remaining in Paraguay took arms against the village of Puerto Guarani and stayed barricaded in a building for five days.

After the conflict ended – without bloodshed – six Americans faced charges of illegally killing cattle.

All were released but the Rev. Jack Wood  Jr. of Houston, who was in a federal prison in Asuncion. He was charged with killing cattle and resisting arrest.

RANCH LAND

McRoberts said the pilgrims, led by James A. St. John, a former Baptist pastor from Bloomington, Tex., have been living in Puerto Guarani, a settlement on the Paraguay River.

McRoberts helped the clan move there shortly after they arrived in Paraguay because the town had electricity and other conveniences.

“DONE NOTHING”

He said that since then the pilgrims have done “virtually nothing” to help themselves.

McRoberts said police there had been getting reports of domestic cattle were being killed or rustled.

Permission by Pan-Western had been given the pilgrims to kill wild, unbranded cattle, he said, but not domestic animals.

The five men jailed and later released were identified by McRoberts as William Smith and Eugene Couch, both of Houston, and Robert Watts of Abilene, Dwight Townsend and his brother, Calvin.

The townspeople of Puerto Guarani have asked the Americans be made to leave Paraguay.

**END**

“The Post learned that last month most of the pilgrims remaining in Paraguay took arms against the village of Puerto Guarani and stayed barricaded in a building for five days.

After the conflict ended – without bloodshed – six Americans faced charges of illegally killing cattle.”

Too bad no one questioned McRoberts’ refusal to pay for services rendered! I may not remember a lot of what went on, my father did not know how to Do Nothing! I’ll never forget McRoberts; he was a “big deal” to the people of Beulah Land. One day I was walking with my mother and sister when a man on a horse approached. He asked mom if I could ride with him and he leaned down to grab my arm so I could swing up behind his saddle. In the midst of swinging me up, I touched the saddle with my foot and he dropped me to the ground, laughing as if he gained pleasure from hurting a little girl.

Jack Wood, William (Will) Smith, Eugene Couch, Robert Watts, Dwight Townsend, and Calvin Townsend were imprisoned after a stand-off with the policia/vigilante because where we lived, dad was concerned that the authorities were so corrupt, the men would likely be hanged if taken into custody. Dad refused to allow the locals to arrest anyone and an armed stand off ensued.  I have letters and contracts somewhere around here that explain more of what was really going on. McRoberts is the contractor with Pan Western Cattle Company.

Missionary work had nothing to do with our existence in South America. A contract with Pan Western involved the men of Beulah Land finding wild cattle and driving them across the Parana River, into Argentina or Ascuncion. Why would McRoberts, the contractor, care if the cowboys ate a cow while driving cattle for weeks on end?

The Guaranians cared about us and Mr. Jiminez made certain the women and children were safe when the men were in prison. Our homes were raided while the men were gone. James St. John wasn’t arrested because he was in a neighboring village. The building in the background of where my eldest brother sits on the grass, with Johnnie standing, and a horse eating nearby, may have been the building where we held up. The men busted holes in the inside walls so that we could pass from room to room of the abandoned “hotel” without going outside. The men were outside and I never wanted to know that kind of terror. The kids were in the midst of a war zone and we knew we were in danger.

Pioneers Fly to Paraguay

Pioneers Fly to Paraguay
1963, December 05

Big Spring Daily Herald 12-5-1963

Big Spring Daily Herald 12-5-1963-Fly to Paraguay

BROWNSVILLE. Tex. (AP) – A group of 76 American men, women and children – most of them former Baptists – left Brownsville this
morning to live in the back country of Paraguay. The heavily laden chartered Paraguayan airliner lifted off at 7 a.m., two hours behind schedule.
The group expects to reach Asuncion Paraguay, before noon tomorrow after stops in Panama City, Lima, Peru and Santiago, Chile.

The Rev. James A. St. John, 41, an ordained Baptist minister, former missionary, and one time Bloomington, Tex. Rancher, is the leader of the
group. St. John and the other men are always referred to among the 76 as brother, and the women are called sister.

DRUG ADDICT

Rev. Jack Wood, 35, is the second in command. Wood claims to be a reformed drug addict who became a Christian in Long Beach, Calif. He later was pastor of the Birdsall Baptist Church in Houston.

“We’re just going because the Lord spoke to our hearts,” Wood explains. “I think many of the men here have just pastured churches where people
didn’t want to hear except at a convenient time until they’ve just gotten sick of it. “They want to go now and teach the Gospel. We can also live the Gospel for them (natives) to see and teach the Scriptures. There is no education among the natives where we are going.”

FARM HANDS

The group includes three bulldozer operators, a ship’s captain, an airplane pilot, and an Indian who was a paratrooper. The remainder of the men are
cowboys or former farm hands.

For the past two weeks, the group has anxiously awaited a chartered airliner to take them to Ascuncion, the only city in Paraguay, with a large airport. From there, they will use boats and light airplanes to move 400 miles into the jungle.

A series of repairs and adjustments kept the airliner in Miami, Fla., until Tuesday when it flew into Brownsville. A fuel pump malfunction then grounded the plane here until a new pump could be flown in.

Log cabins, a church and a rough school have been erected on a 250,000 acre ranch owned by Pan-Western Enterprises, Inc., which is supplying the land for the group to live on.

MILE WIDE

The settlement is on the Paraguay River at a point where the huge stream is a mile wide and 60 feet deep. The area is just south of the Brazilian border and near the eastern border of Bolivia.

Plans for the massive undertaking were formulated more than a year ago at a missionary training and boys camp in Coalmont, Tenn., which St. John operated. The camp’s 1,000 acre ranch and 100 cattle were sold to help finance the expedition.

Since last June the pioneers have lived on a six-acre farm west of Harlingen, about 25 miles west of Brownsville.

Jim McRoberts of New Orleans, president of Pan-Western, says the settlement men will work on the huge ranch his firm owns, helping with the cattle.

The ex-paratrooper is Larry Murray, a member of the Otoe Indian tribe. Murray, from Ponca City, Okla., is taking along his two children, Franklin, 3, and Jacqueline, 4. He and his wife are divorced. He will work as a wrangler.

ONLY INDIANS

“We’re the only Indians going down.” Murray said, “but I understand there’ll be some other Indians (Paraguayan natives) down there.”

The group has spent almost $30,000 shipping 400 tons of equipment. The load included six tractors, three power plants, farm equipment, sawmill, road maintainers, a 70 foot boat, a 20 footer, four bulldozers, three printing presses, food, clothing and other personal belongings.

“We’re taking 30 different kinds of seeds with us, like celery, beans, watermelons, and stuff, so we can live,” Woods [sic] said.

 In the last article, reporting the Pilgrims receipt of “concessions,” evidently meant “payment,” in the form of “six tractors, three power plants, farm equipment, sawmill, road maintainers, a 70 foot boat, a 20 footer, four bulldozers, three printing presses.

76 Men, Women and Children Leave Today To Settle In Jungle
1963, December 05
Del Rio Texas –

76 Men & omen leave for South AmericaDel Rio Header

 A group of 76 American men, women and children – most of them former Baptists – left Brownsville this morning to live in the back country of Paraguay.
A group of 76 American men, women and children – most of them former Baptists – left Brownsville this morning to live in the back country of Paraguay.

BROWNSVILLE. Tex. (AP) – A group of 76 American men, women and children – most of them former Baptists – left Brownsville this morning to live in the back country of Paraguay.

The heavily laden chartered Paraguayan airliner lifted off at 7 a.m., two hours behind schedule.

The group expects to reach Asuncion Paraguay, before noon tomorrow after stops in Panama City, Lima, Peru and Santiago, Chile.

The Rev. James A. St. John, 41, an ordained Baptist minister, former missionary, and one time Bloomington, Tex. Rancher, is the leader of the group. St. John and the other men are always referred to among the 76 as brother, and the women are called sister.

Rev. Jack Wood, 35, is the second in command. Wood claims to be a reformed drug addict who became a Christian in Long Beach, Calif. He later was pastor of the Birdsall Baptist Church in Houston.

“We’re just going because the Lord spoke to our hearts,” Wood explains. “I think many of the men here have just pastored churches where people didn’t want to hear except at a convenient time until they’ve just gotten sick of it.

“They want to go now and teach the Gospel. We can also live the Gospel for them (natives) to see and teach the Scriptures. There is no education among the natives where we are going.”

The group includes three bulldozer operators, a ship’s captain, an airplane pilot, and an Indian who was a paratrooper. The remainders of the men are cowboys or former farm hands.

For the past two weeks, the group has anxiously awaited a chartered airliner to take them to Ascuncion, the only city in Paraguay, with a large airport. From there, they will use boats and light airplanes to move 400 miles into the jungle.

A series of repairs and adjustments kept the airliner in Miami, Fla., until Tuesday when it flew into Brownsville. A fuel pump malfunction then grounded the plane here until a new pump could be flown in.

Log cabins, a church and a rough school have been erected on a 250,000 acre ranch owned by Pan-Western Enterprises, Inc., which is supplying the land for the group to live on.

The settlement is on the Paraguay River at a point where the huge stream is a mile wide and 60 feet deep. The area is just south of the Brazilian border and near the eastern border of Bolivia.

Plans for the massive undertaking were formulated more than a year ago at a missionary training and boys camp in Coalmont, Tenn., which St. John operated. The camp’s 1,000 acre ranch and 100 cattle were sold to help finance the expedition.

Since last June the pioneers have lived on a six-acre farm west of Harlingen, about 35 miles west of Brownsville.

Jim McRoberts of New Orleans, president of Pan-Western, says the settlement men will work on the huge ranch his firm owns, helping with the cattle.

The ex-paratrooper is Larry Murray, a member of the Otoe Indian tribe. Murray, from Ponca City, Okla., is taking along his two children, Franklin, 3, and Jacqueline, 4. He and his wife are divorced. He will work as a wrangler.

“We’re the only Indians going down.” Murray said, “but I understand there’ll be some other Indians (Paraguayan natives) down there.”

The group has spent almost $30,000 shipping 400 tons of equipment. The load included six tractors, three power plants, farm equipment, sawmill, road maintainers, a 70 foot boat, a 20 footer, four bulldozers, three printing presses, food, clothing and other personal belongings.

“We’re taking 30 different kinds of seeds with us, like celery, beans, watermelons, and stuff, so we can live,” Woods said.

The pioneers, mostly from Texas, live simple lives. The women and older girls wear long dresses and no makeup, and the men and boys wear khakis and work clothes.

No smoking or drinking is permitted among the group, and most refrain from using coffee and tea.

*** End ***

Mom often joked that the plane broke down so many times, the mechanic fixed the plane with a coat hanger. She said flying in puddle jumpers was the scariest part of the trip, thus far.

Rustling’ Charge Said Not Legal

02121965_RustlingImage2

The Brownsville Herald
1965, February 17
ASUNCION, Paraguay (UPI)
-An attorney for a Baptist minister from Texas, imprisoned on cattle rustling charges, said today his client may soon be freed. Julio C. Cantero said the complaint filed against Jack Wood, 36, of Houston, lacks proper legal basis.”

Cantero said “Wood is accused specifically of “being the moral author of the slaughter of a three-year-old steer.”

In the worst of cases,” Cantero added, “this would be simply a case of ‘intentional damage” rustling is an unbailable offense whereas ‘intentional damage” is a much lesser crime.”

Wood, who heads a religious agricultural community 450 miles north of here, was arrested four weeks ago. He was accused of killing a steer owned by a neighboring rancher.

The manager of the Duggers Holmes Ranch, Angel de Aldecoa, filed the complaint against Wood.

Wood’s group left the United States in December, 1963, in protest against high taxes.

They settled in Paraguay under a contract with Pan Western Enterprises, the American company which owns the land they settled. Aldecoa is a vice president of Pan Western.

Wood’s wife and five children are in Asuncion awaiting his release Cantero said.