A Baptist minister from Texas began his fourth week in jail today, awaiting trial on charges of cattle rustling.
Police said the Rev. Jack Wood will stay in the jailhouse until his trial date at a date to be set later. His Texas home was not listed.
The Rev. Mr. Wood who heads a religious agricultural community 300 miles north of here, was arrested Jan 20, on the complaint of a neighboring rancher. The rancher said the Rev. Mr. Wood was responsible for the disappearance of several head of his cattle.
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Life would never be the same. Things happen in life that change the course of direction, regardless what we may desire. The group of primarily social rejects became some of the meanest, most cruel people imaginable. Mom had no idea she was leaving her children with monsters but they were real monsters.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Two Camp Beulah Families Complaining about Prophet
A Texas cowboy and his family who went to Paraguay with the Camp Beulah Pilgrims in December to establish a mission and begin a new life are back home, disillusioned and broke.
Gail M. Borden, 33, of Woodsboro said he quit the camp because he couldn’t go along with the ideas of James A. St. John, leader of the Pilgrims and a self-styled prophet.
“St John thinks he’s a prophet,” Banks told Valley Freedom Newspapers over the phone, “but I don’t know how he gots that way. When he wants something done he says God told him to do this and God told him to do that.”
Two Families Return
Borden, his wife Mozelle and their two small daughters returned to Texas last month and are living on the Reach Ranch near Woodsboro.
Lawrence Murray, an Oklahoma Indian, also has left the missionary group. He and his two children are back home in Norman.
The Pilgrims assembled in Harlingen for the trip to Paraguay and lived for several months in the old Stuart Place Clubhouse on W. Hwy. 83.
Borden described St. John as a strict disciplinarian and said he kept his followers subservient by withholding their salary. He said dissatisfaction among members of the camp was evident before he left and predicted the colony would disband within six months.
“The camp wasn’t at all what I thought it would be,” Borden said. “I’ve known St. John for 15 years and he used to be a pretty good boy, but he is trying to set up a colony of his own down there. We went down to establish a mission but that’s not what they’re doing.”
Borden said St. John told the Pilgrims they were in Paraguay to raise one generation, “just exactly like the Bible said to raise them. “ “If a child doesn’t do what he is told to do, St. John believes he should be punished,” Borden went on.
A former Baptist preacher from Bloomington, Tex., St. John’s word is law around camp, Borden said.
He said the Lord told him he was the most righteous man in the group and that he had more practical knowledge than anyone there,” Borden continued.
Borden said St. John is not teaching Christianity “the way I see it.” He said there are 14 families in the camp and that the St. John family is the only one that has an ice box and a stove, both of which operate off butane.
The Pilgrims’ main diet consists of rice, noodles and hard-tack (a hard roll) and a few caned goods, Borden said.
Borden said the trip cost him everything he had accumulated over the last 10 years. “But I can’t complain,“ he said. “I’ve learned a lot and besides you can’t always measure an experience like this in dollars and cents.”
He said he was supposed to get $200 a month but all he ever got from St. John was $12.
“One day St. John said he got some money and told us we could have what we needed as long as it wasn’t too much.” Borden went on, “I got $12, the most money I saw down there.” He said he had to borrow $1,100 to bring his family back to Texas.
Borden said one day two men wanted to go talk with personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Asunción capitol of Paraguay but St. John told them they couldn’t go. “These people don’t want to see you.” Borden said St. John told the men “They think we’re here to evade taxes in the states.”
However, Borden said after he left the camp he stopped by the American Embassy in Asunción and was treated exceptionally courteously. “They told me they were there to help us and would be glad to see us at any time,” Borden said.
76 in Original Party
A total of 76 Pilgrims left Harlingen for Paraguay, among them St. John’s wife and two children. Before leaving, he said:
“We are going into what is virtually a 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.”
But Borden thinks the whole thing is about to fall apart. He said he had heard two other families have had about all they can stand of the camp and will be coming home soon.
“I believe others will follow them and it won’t be long before it’s all over,” he added.
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I recall having a fridge, or ice box, and a stove with an oven when we lived in Asuncion. One evening, I was cleaning up the kitchen and at the age of four, didn’t know what to do with the salt and pepper. I decided that pepper is hot, thus it should go in the oven and the salt isn’t hot, so it belongs in the fridge. My mother had quite the laugh when she heard my explanation. I do not know the Borden family but the man supposedly knew James St. John for ten years prior to our traveling to South America. James St. John was as bull-headed as my father. I cannot see a situation where any man would tell my father what to do and actually expect him to follow orders. Dad’s “noncompliant” character would have stood on equal footing with any other man.
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