Lives of missionary, soldier and wife portrayed at Fort Walla Walla Museum

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WALLA WALLA — A Catholic missionary and an Army soldier and his wife will be portrayed during living history performances at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the pioneer settlement at Fort Walla Walla Museum, 755 Myra Road.

On Saturday, Jeannot Poirot will play Father J.B.A. Brouillet. The Quebec, Canada, native came to the Walla Walla Valley in September 1847, just weeks before the Whitman Massacre.

He became a central figure in that tragedy, visiting the Whitman Mission shortly after the killings and helping to arrange for the release of the captives.

He became a pioneer figure in Catholic institutions in Walla Walla, purchasing the land for St. Vincent’s Academy in 1863, and founding St. Patrick’s School in 1865.

Alex and Heather Salzman will team on Sunday to play Sgt. Alonzo Trevor “A.T.” Jones, a soldier and evangelist, and his wife, Frances Patten Jones.

A.T. Jones was a complex, charismatic, intelligent, forceful extremist and consequently, a controversial man, according to a release.

His many facets of service included U.S. Army soldier, Seventh-day Adventist preacher, evangelist, teacher, professor, administrator, historian, author, editor and religious liberty advocate.

Jones would eventually rise to become one of the most influential preachers in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and one of the most successful religious liberty advocates in the United States, the release said.

Jones was born in Rockhill, Ohio, in 1850. On Nov. 2, 1870, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he rose to the rank of sergeant.

He participated in the Modoc War of 1873 and was part of the federal force that reopened Fort Walla Walla in Washington Territory in August 1873.

He changed his life forever when the first Seventh-day Adventist evangelist to the Pacific Northwest, Elder Isaac Van Horn, came to Walla Walla with a 60-foot tent that he pitched at the corner of Birch Street and Fourth Avenue and delivered the Adventist message.

Jones was in the crowd and was baptized as a believer in Jesus Christ into the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1874.

For the next year, he studied history and Bible prophecy in his spare time and received a license to preach from the church.

When he was discharged from the military, Jones entered into full-time service in the church, assisting Van Horn in his evangelism.

The two men spent approximately another year in the region, establishing congregations in Walla Walla, Milton and Dayton before moving to the more populated Willamette Valley. It was during this time that A.T.

Jones met his wife, Van Horn’s sister-in-law, Frances E. Patten. They married in 1877 and had two children.

The first case of religious liberty Jones defended occurred in Dayton, Washington Territory. A citizen of Dayton had been contracted by the Upper Columbia Conference for a camp meeting in 1882.

After serving meals to the attendees on Sunday, the man found himself fined $25 by the Dayton authorities, due to a violation of a Washington Territory law.

A.T. Jones took the man’s defense and successfully argued for a reversal of that fine.

By October 1888 Jones had become one of the most prominent preachers within the denomination’s General Conference session because of his advocating of righteousness by faith.

Despite the whirlwind of internal controversy at the Minneapolis meetings, Jones was unanimously selected to represent and lead a delegation to Congress to argue against a new bill that would make Sunday a legal day of rest.

Jones argued that all citizens should be concerned with the defense of religious freedom due to principles of the American Constitution and the proper relationship between Church and State based on the Bill of Rights’ First Amendment.

A short time later, a proposed Constitutional amendment proclaimed that America was legally and officially a Christian nation met the same defense put forth by Jones and it, too, met the same fate as the Sunday bill.

On Feb. 29, 1892, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against this position.

Shortly after this ruling, the National Reform Movement pushed a new bill attached to the budget through Congress that was signed by President Benjamin Harrison on Aug. 5, 1892.

Jones and other advocates of religious liberty continued to fight against this legislation in 1893, advocating for the repeal of such religious endorsement by the government.

Visitors may question the Living History re-enactors about their lives and times.

Admission is freemuseum members, eligible service personnel and their families through the Blue Star Museums program, Tamástslikt Cultural Institute’s Inwai Circle cardholders, enrolled members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and all children under 6; children 6-12 $3; seniors (62-plus) and students $6; and adult admission is $7.

The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

For more information, contact the museum at 509-525-7703, or email info@fortwallawallamuseum.org.

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