Burton Brannen went to Chicago, evidently in the late 1890s, and became a follower of John Alexander Dowie, who'd made quite a splash at the 1893 Chicago Exposition by setting up a "Tabernacle" near the entrance, whose stage was adorned with discarded crutches and braces.
The World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893, was a landmark event in American history and culture. Named in honor of Christopher Columbus, the Fair was a means of celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the New World and promoting the progress of man in science, industry, and culture since that historic event.
Dowie's life and times, on the occasion of his death, 1907 (Click to enlarge)
I suppose there was a feeling in the country during and after the Expo that 'old ways' should be re-examined and possibly discarded. This was a vibrant new country, with amazing new ideas entering a new century...and one "old idea" Dowie railed about was that medical doctors were quacks, and NOT to be trusted. His alternative was total Faith in the Lord through J.A.Dowie...
We're researching HOW Dowie was able to get peoples' interest. There are stunning similarities to the way P.T.Barnum and Houdini were able to get people talking, too: Here's a column from the St Paul GLOBE newspaper, September 1, 1890:
You'll maybe recognize Westminster Presbyterian Church--it's host to WESTMINSTER TOWN HALL FORUM in downtown Minneapolis.
Evidently, Dowie would arrive in a new town and create some sort of controversy, this time with a well known local Presbyterian pastor, Rev Burrell. Soon, people were incensed, and taking sides, which meant they'd attend speeches arranged to "clear the air", but which only served to fuel their fire.
Interesting, too, was the fact that Minneapolis was host to an 'Exposition' in 1890. On the same page as that article, directly below it, was this:
...and more: Edisons phonographs were on display...