Wonder of the Century, A Rare Treat... Come One, Come All and Hear The Baby Evangelist -- Boy Preacher. Eight Years Old.
Small broadside and cabinet card photo of El-Joseph Robert Raycroft. Undated, but ca. 1905. Broadside measures 5.75 x 12 inches and has some old creases and short tears. Cabinet card is in fine condition and credited to photographer Geo. F. Reil of Chicago. Both of El-Joseph's parents were preachers, and his three younger siblings gave public Bible recitations, but he was clearly the star of this Chicago-based family of traveling evangelists from Chicago. This broadside promotes him as "the greatest wonder of the religious world today," and claims he has "conducted over 300 meetings" unaided and "talked with more people about their personal salvation thatn any child his age ever known." He began preaching at age 3 1/2 and was still at it in his early twenties. Contemporary newspapers record him preaching in Methodist and Baptist churches, leading multidenominational revivals, visiting prisons, and even converting a pair of Chicago thugs who planned to rob and possibly murder his father.