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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.

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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.