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Catalog Number WF 1301
Caption Gideon Society
Description This view of "Oak Ridge School" was constructed of Bibles in honor of the Gideon's anniversary. Note the sign over the "doorway" of the school. The specifics of this event are unknown, but it appears to have been held in honor of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Gideons, the organization behind the distribution of Bibles to hotels and motels across the U. S. The Gideons, the "oldest Christian business and professional men's association in the United States," was begun by travelers John Nicholson and Samuel Hill, both traveling salesmen from Wisconsin. In late 1898, after sharing a room and their Bible devotions together one night, they decided to create a formal organization. On May 31, 1899, they met again at Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, and resolved to band "Christian commercial travelers together for mutual recognition, personal evangelism and united service for the Lord." They formally organized at Janesville, Wisconsin, on July 1 with a third man named Will Knights. Mr. Knights chose the name of the organization after the 6th and 7th chapters of Judges in the Bible. Because "almost all Gideons in early years of the association were traveling men," the idea arose to leave Bibles at reception desks of hotels so traveling men could borrow it if they wished. At a meeting in Chicago on October 19, 1907, and organization trustee suggested the Gideons place a Bible in each room. The 1908 Gideon Convention at Louisville, Kentucky, adopted that plan. See for more information.

Various churches took up the cost of the Bible distribution as "an extended arm" on the Gideon ministry. This happened in Anacortes in 1928, through the efforts of the local Baptist, Congregational, Christian, and Pentecostal church and with local hotel owners. In April 1928, the organization planted its roots in Anacortes through a "dedicatory" ceremony at the New Wilson Hotel, hosted by Valentine and Wallie V. Funk (Sr.). The April 28, 1928 ANACORTES AMERICAN
reported, "Gideons conduct services in city: New Wilson scene of dedicatory program. W. V. Funk responds to address." The newspaper noted that 200 people crowded into the Wilson Hotel lobby "to hear the dedicatory services conducted by the Everett camp of Gideons, who placed Bibles in guest rooms at the New Wilson and other local hotels that day." The dedicatory speech at the Wilson was given by W. O. Williams of Seattle, "one of the national officers of the Gideons who have a membership all over the country among traveling men." W. V. Funk, "manager of the New Wilson, responded in appropriate words." A quartet sang "Annie Laurie" especially for Mrs. V. Funk, "wife of the owner." 64 Bibles were placed in the New Wilson that day, along with 25 in the Pioneer, 12 in the Vendome, 8 in the Taylor and 6 in Anacortes General Hospital. The Gideons also held services that day and evening at the Congregational, Christian, and Pentecostal churches.
Date 1949 May
Photographer BRADY, Ferd
Collection Wallie Funk Collection
Subjects Organization - Church
Credit line Donated by Wallie Funk, Wallie Funk Collection
Place Anacortes, WA
Search Terms Gideon
Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Baptist church
Congregational church
Christian church
Pentecostal church
New Wilson hotel
dedicatory program
Object Name Negative