1843–1899

Introduction

Born: Au­gust 16, 1843, Ver­non, In­di­a­na.

Died: Feb­ru­a­ry 11, 1899, at the home of his daugh­ter, Mrs. J. M. Bond, Ev­an­ston, Il­li­nois.

Buried: Crown Hill Ce­me­te­ry, In­di­an­a­po­lis, In­di­a­na.

Biography

Walter was the son of min­is­ter Dan­i­el Lat­ti­more.

He en­tered col­lege at age 14, but was forced to with­draw due to lack of fi­nanc­ing af­ter his fa­ther’s death.

He en­listed in the ar­my at age 18, even­tu­al­ly ris­ing to the rank of cap­tain. He stayed in the ar­my 14 years, in­clud­ing post­ings in Lit­tle Rock and Fay­ette­ville, Ar­kan­sas. He left the ar­my in 1877, re­turn­ing north, in­tend­ing to be­come a law­yer.

At the break­ing out of the [Am­er­i­can ci­vil] war in 1861 I en­list­ed in the ar­my and was soon ap­point­ed a first lieu­te­nant. I was not yet eigh­teen and had ne­ver been away from home in­flu­enc­es. I had ne­ver tast­ed li­quor and did not know one card from an­oth­er.

The re­gi­ment to which I was as­signed was prin­ci­pal­ly of­fi­cered by young men, but ma­ny of them were old in dis­si­pa­tion. This new life was at­trac­tive to me, and I en­tered up­on it with av­id­i­ty. I was soon a stea­dy drink­er and a con­stant card-play­er. I laughed at the cau­tion of the old­er heads, and as­sert­ed with all the ego­tism of a boy that I could aban­don my bad ha­bits at any time I want­ed to. But I soon found that my evil de­sires had com­plete con­trol ov­er my will.

In 1870, be­ing a phy­si­cal wreck, I re­signed, and de­ter­mined to be­gin a new life. Time and again I failed, and at last I gave up all hope and aban­doned my­self to the wild­est de­bau­che­ry, spe­cu­lat­ing with reck­less in­dif­fer­ence on how much lon­ger my bo­dy could en­dure the strain. In an­ti­ci­pa­tion of sud­den death I de­stroyed all ev­i­dence of my iden­ti­ty, so that my friends might ne­ver know the dog’s death I had died.

It was while in this con­di­tion that I one day wan­dered in­to this Ta­ber­na­cle and found a seat in the gal­le­ry. There I sat in my drunk­en and dazed con­di­tion, look­ing down on well-dressed and hap­py peo­ple. I con­clud­ed that it was no place for me, and was just about to go out, when out of a per­fect still­ness rose the voice of Mr. San­key sing­ing the song, What Shall the Har­vest Be? The words and mu­sic stirred me with a strange sen­sa­tion…These words pierced my heart.

In des­per­a­tion I rushed down­stairs and out into the snowy streets. I soon found a sa­loon, where I asked for li­quor to drown my sor­row. On ev­ery bot­tle in the bar-room, in words of burn­ing fire, I could read What shall the har­vest be? When I took up my glass to drink I read, writ­ten on it, What shall the har­vest be? and I dashed it to the floor and rushed out again in­to the cold, dark night.

The song still fol­lowed me wher­ev­er I went, and fi­nal­ly drew me back to the Ta­ber­na­cle two weeks lat­er. I found my way into the in­qui­ry-room and was spo­ken to by a kind-heart­ed, lov­ing bro­ther. With his op­en Bi­ble he point­ed me to the Great Phy­si­cian who had pow­er to cure me and heal me of my ap­pe­tite, if I would on­ly re­ceive him. Brok­en, weak, vile and help­less, I came to him, and by his grace I was able to ac­cept him as my Re­deem­er; and I have come here to-day to bear my tes­ti­mo­ny to the pow­er of Je­sus to save to the ut­ter­most.

We were all deep­ly touched by this tes­ti­mo­ny, and there was scarce­ly a dry eye in the au­di­ence. A week lat­er this man came in­to our wait­ing-room and showed me a let­ter from his lit­tle daugh­ter, which read about as fol­lows:

Dear Pa­pa: Mama and I saw in the Chi­ca­go pa­pers that a man had been saved in the meet­ings there, who once was a lieu­ten­ant in the ar­my, and I told mam­ma that I thought it was my pa­pa. Please write to us as soon as you can, as mam­ma can­not be­lieve that it was you.

This let­ter was re­ceived by the man at the gen­er­al post-of­fice. The mo­ther and their two child­ren were sent for, and with the help of Mr. Moo­dy a home was soon se­cured for them and em­ploy­ment for the man. He was asked to go ma­ny plac­es to give his ex­per­i­ence, and he soon be­came so ef­fec­tive in his ad­dress­es that his friends pr­evailed up­on him to stu­dy for the min­is­try.

Eventually he be­came a pas­tor of large church in the North­west, where he la­bored for a num­ber of years…His name was W. O. Lat­ti­more. He wrote a hymn for me, en­ti­tled, Out of the dark­ness in­to light, which I set to mu­sic.

Sankey, p. 298–300

After his con­ver­sion, Lat­ti­more worked as an ev­an­gel­ist, oft­en with Dwight Moo­dy, and ev­en­tua­ll­y be­came a Pres­by­ter­i­an min­is­ter. He found­ed a church in Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois, and went on to serve pas­tor­ates in Ply­mouth (1888) and Crown Point, In­di­a­na (1896).

Sources

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