The FORGOTTEN ROOTS OF THE AZUSA STREET REVIVAL
by HAROLD HUNTER, PH.D.
Writing during the glow of the Azusa Street revival, V.P. Simmons claimed to have 42 years of personal exposure to those who spoke in tongues. Published in 1907 by Bridegroom’s Messenger and circulated as a tract, Simmons chronicled the history of Spirit baptism from Irenaeus (2nd century) up to and including a group from New England whom he personally observed manifesting tongues-speech as they continually partook of a spiritual baptism.1 Identified as Gift People or Gift Adventists, they were widely known for their involvement with spectacular charisms.Early Pentecostal periodicals reported that tongues-speech was known among these groups since the latter part of the 19th century. Some groups were said to number in the thousands.
William H. Doughty, who, by 1855, had spoken in tongues while in Maine, was counted among that number. Elder Doughty moved to Providence, Rhode Island, in 1873 and assumed leadership among those exercising the gifts of the Spirit.3 Doughty’s mantle was passed on to Elder R.B. Swan who, reacting to the Azusa Street revival, wrote a letter explaining that the Gift People in Rhode Island had experienced speaking in tongues as early as 1874–75. (See “The Work of the Spirit in Rhode Island.”) B.F. Lawrence followed Swan’s letter describing an independent account of a woman who spoke in tongues in New York, perhaps prior to 1874, a result of her contact with the Gift People.4 (See “A Wonderful Healing Among The Gift People.”)
Stanley H. Frodsham quotes Pastor Swan’s claim to having spoken in tongues in 1875. Swan speaks of great crowds drawn from five states and specifically mentions his wife — along with Amanda Doughty and an invalid hunchback who was instantly healed — among those who spoke in tongues during this time.
Simmons said that Swan’s group adopted the name “The Latter Rain” after the advent of the Pentecostal movement. Their activities extended throughout New England states, especially Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut, with the 1910 Latter Rain Convention held October 14–16 in Quakertown, Connecticut. Frank Bartleman frequently referred to joint speaking engagements with Swan, specifically recounting a 1907 tour that included a convention in Providence, Rhode Island, where he spoke 18 times.
Previously overlooked in related investigations is whether the Doughty family counted among the Gift People overlap with the Doughty who traveled with Frank Sandford. Lawrence attests that Swan’s circle included William H. Doughty’s daughter-in-law, Amanda Doughty, and her unnamed husband, an elder in the Providence congregation.8 Simmons says that William H. Doughty had two sons, the oldest, Frank, who was ordained. Could the unnamed brother of Frank be Edward Doughty, who at the end of the 19th century was part of Sandford’s entourage? So it seems.
Most of the groups named here have similar stories. For example, among the Fire-Baptized Holiness ranks was Daniel Awrey who had spoken in tongues in 1890 in Ohio. His residence was in Beniah, Tennessee, where an outbreak of speaking in tongues was reported in 1899. F.M. Britton wrote about people speaking in tongues in his Fire-Baptized revivals that predated the Azusa Street revival. Also, a revival in Cherokee County, North Carolina, in 1896, that gave the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) many of its early leaders reported an outburst of speaking in tongues among several of the adherents. Given the above accounts, there is some debate as to whether Parham first heard speaking in tongues while at Sandford’s Shiloh in Maine or while he was among Fire-Baptized enthusiasts.
THE FOLLOWING ARE THE CATHOLIC LEADERSHIP OR GROUPS RECORDED TO HAVE SPOKEN IN TONGUES:
• ST. HILDEGARD (1098-1179)
• ANTHONY OF PADUA (1195-1231)
• FRANCISCANS (1200S)
• ANGE CLARENUS (1300)
• VINCENT FERRER (1350-1419)
• STEPHEN, MISSIONARY TO GEORGIA (1400S)
• ST. COLETTE (1447)
• LOUIS BERTRAND (1526-1581)
• THE JANSENISTS (1600)
• JEANNE OF THE CROSS (1450S)
• FRANCIS XAVIER (1506-1552)
SHERRILL’S BOOK ALSO LISTS SOME INDIVIDUALS FROM THE 19TH CENTURY WHO REPORT TONGUES-SPEAKING OCCURRING:
- 1855 V.P. SIMMONS
- ROBERT BOYD (DURING MOODY’S MEETINGS)
- 1875 R.B. SWAN
- 1979 W. JETHRO WALTHALL
- MARIA GERBER
MORE BOOKS to STUDY:
- “THEY SPEAK WITH OTHER TONGUES” BY JOHN L. SHERRILL
- “GLOSSOLALIA: TONGUE SPEAKING IN BIBLICAL, HISTORICAL, AND “PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE” BY FRANK E. STAGG
- “SPEAKING IN TONGUES: A GUIDE” BY MILLS
- “SPEAKING WITH TONGUES: HISTORICALLY AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY CONSIDERED” BY GEORGE CUTTEN.