Rev. John Allen Wade and Rosa Sturdivant Wade




Hill Fire’s Rock of Ages Opens Saturday

From WinonaTalk, 10/12/2009


In February 1948 S.W. Dismukes was rescued from an abandoned well after being buried in debris and mud for several hours. He was rescued by Rev. John A. Wade who volunteered to be lowered into the well by using a shaft on a rope.
While Mr. Dismukes was inspecting an abandoned well in the back yard of his home near Kilmichael, the curbing and a third of the concrete footing around the well caved in sending him plunging thirty feet into its depths in an avalanche of crumbling concrete. The well was square cut and Dismukes landed on the southeast wall in a semi-sitting position with his face wedged into one corner. A 200 pound concrete slab was caught just over him which prevented his being totally buried or crushed by the tremendous amount of debris. His wife discovered his predicament when she went in search of him on his failure to return to their home.
Help was hastily summoned but the many who gathered hesitated to attempt the dangerous rescue. The Rev. John A. Wade happened by and stopped to see why the crowd had gathered. Rev. Wade immediately decided to volunteer to be lowered by ropes down into the well where he worked head downward with only his hands for tools. The large quantity of mud, bricks and broken concrete was removed by slow degrees in a five gallon container necessitating numerous trips and two hours of work. Finally, the big concrete slab was laboriously drawn up enabling Rev. Wade to place ropes around Mr. Dismukes and allowing both to be brought to the surface.
Upon examination by Dr. Homer Howard, it was discovered that, aside from severe bruises, Mr. Dismukes was none worn from his ordeal of being buried waist deep in mud for more than three hours.
Rev. Wade was awarded a silver medal by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission for rescuing the one-armed farmer from the caved-in well. [NOTE:  Also, see:  Search under John Wade and Kilmichael, MS.]
This story of a local hero is part of Hill Fire’s Rock of Ages which opens this Saturday, October 17. Other show dates are October 18, 22, and 24. Evening shows start at 7:00 pm with the Sunday matinee beginning at 2:00 pm.
General admission tickets are available at Bank of Winona, Renasant Bank, Regions Bank, Hammond’s Pharmacy, Bank of Kilmichael, and Kilmichael Drug Store. These tickets are for bleacher seats only. 
Reserved tickets for chair seating may be purchased in advance by calling 662-310-0199. MCAC members with complimentary tickets are encouraged to call for reservations to insure chair seating. Tickets purchased at the door will be $15 for adults and $8 for students.


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‘Rock of Ages’ hits the stage again this week


by Elizabeth Eldridge Special to The Times

                                                                                              From: The Winona Times, Online Edition; 10/22/2009

Hill Fire's Rock of Ages opened this past Saturday and Sunday to audiences filled with family, friends, high school reunions, and a host of visitors from out of town who had never seen a Hill Fire performance. They were wonderful audiences and were very complimentary of the show.

Rock of Ages is set in 2003 and opens as family and friends recall the life of Sarah Rebecca Weed Patterson, a remarkable lady who proved that there is no such thing as an ordinary life. Through her story we see that every life is an amazing journey - with so many happy, sad, wonderful and tragic stories to be remembered even if sometimes you have to dig deep to see the real story of someone's life.

During Rebecca's journey she befriends the young wife of the new local minister who is struggling to find his purpose in life. His answer comes quickly as he happens upon a tragic event that throws him head first into a well from which he receives many blessings.

The memories take a few comedic detours when the City Café is revisited and Jenkins makes the rounds with more of his uncouth stories. Nostalgia fills the air when a couple of youngsters get a lesson in trust and the value of a dollar. And step back into time as we sneak a peek at the daily routine of three telephone operators who seem to know more about the town's folks than they know about themselves.

The show is filled will original music written by Steve Lester, as well as a few familiar tunes with maybe a lyric or two changed here and there.

Audience members have been very complimentary to the cast and writers for their portrayal of characters.

Larry Wade, M.D., son of Bro. John Allen Wade, portrayed in the show, sent the show’s producers a letter complimenting them on a job well done as well as added some insight of his personal connection with the show -- his father rescuing a man from a collapsed well.

“I hope you won't mind my sharing a few comments about the portion of "Rock of Ages" that pertains to my father's rescue of Mr. Dismukes,” Wade wrote.

“The first and most important observation I would make pertains to motivation. My father was almost fanatical in his belief in and advocacy of Brotherly Love. On any given day, he would do anything that he could do to help others. On one day, it might be to plow a neighbor's garden, because the neighbor was ill. On another day, it might be to mow the neighbor's lawn for her/him. It just happened that on that particular day in 1948, the ‘doing for a neighbor’ called for a lot more - it called for going forty feet down into that collapsed well.”

“I believe that Daddy was motivated as much by his Masonic belief in ‘The Universality of the Brotherhood of man and the Universality of the Fatherhood of God’ as by his very profound religious beliefs. Mother did tell me more than once that Daddy was a very ardent Freemason.

“I know for a fact that Bro. John Allen Wade did not want to go down into the well. He agonized at some length, that morning, and only then did he take it upon himself to go down into the well; understandably everyone else was reluctant, and Bro. Wade, then, pretty much saw it as his duty.

“Of course, you know that they had jury-rigged a scaffold with a block-and-tackle apparatus, and he sat on a board and was lowered by other men, but I know for a fact, too, that he stipulated that he would go into the well only if everyone present would agree that his wife was not to know until he was out again. However, just before they came up out of the well, a deacon's wife let the secret slip, in a phone call.

“Mom was horrified, at first. She did insist that the deacon's wife come and drive her (and all us kids) out to the scene. She later told me that as she was entering the front of the Dismukes' home, that day, at the front of the long middle hallway, she saw him coming in at the back door, ‘…two walking piles of mud, with eyes.’”

The Hill Fire cast will host its very first official tour group this Thursday night as 50 tourists from Pensacola, Fla. will arrive at the Hill Fire barn as part of a mystery tour.

For reserved chair seating, please call 662-310-0199. Your tickets will be held at the door for pick-up and payment. General Admission tickets are available at Bank of Winona, Regions Bank, Renasant Bank, Crossroads Jewelry, Hammond's Pharmacy, and Bank of Kilmichael. These tickets are for the bleacher seats only. All tickets reserved or purchased in advance are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets purchased at the door are $15 for adults and $8 for students.


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Documents and Letters Pertaining to the Rescue (8.3 mb in .pdf format)

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wades_anniversary.jpgMom Dad 50s.jpg



Vaiden, MS Cemetery


On Findagrave:       John Allen Wade            Rosabel Sturdivant Wade


Simon Wilson (S.W.) Dismukes


John Allen Wade – MS College Photo 1937


Carnegie Medal - Front


Carnegie Medal - Rear


On VAIDEN.NET:         Vaiden Baptist Church