Skip to main content

Full text of "A complete history of Methodism as connected with the Mississippi Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South"

See other formats


History of Methodism 


The Mississippi Conference 




A Member of the Conference. 

From the Beginning of 1817 to 1845. 

Nashville, Tenn. ; Dallas, Tex. : 

Publishing House of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. 

Printed for the Author. 


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1908, 

By J. A. B. JONES, 
in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at "Washington. 


Two of the chapters of this History were lost by 
some one while in the custody of the late Kev. Dr. 
W P Harrison, then Book Editor, at the time of the 
printing of Volume I. It is supposed that they were 
burned with the other manuscript of that volume; 
but why that manuscript was burned no reason has 
been given. 

Eev. John G. Jones was one of the ''old guard" 
of the Mississippi Conference, and knew most of the 
pioneer preachers personally and many of them inti- 
mately; besides, he had access to journals and rec- 
ords not within my reach. 

These explanations will account for my paucity 
of information and the dryness of the chapters from 
my pen. With the materials in my possession I have 
done my very best, and commit my labors and myself 
to the brotherly kindness of my dear brethren of the 
Mississippi Conference, who received me on trial at 
Natchez December, 1883, and voted me into full 
membership at Meridian December, 1885, and elected 
me to elder's orders at Jackson December, 1887, bore 
with me and honored me, and with whom I labored 
till December IS, 1905, when I was. transferred to 
the Indian Mission Conference. T. L. Mellbn. 



After our explanatory preface to the first volume, we 
deem it unnecessary to add much by way of introduc- 
tion to this. We still adhere to our original purpose 
not to encumber the work with marginal references, 
footnotes, and long extracts from other writers. We 
avail ourselves of all the reliable sources of information 
within our reach, and then write what we honestly be- 
lieve to be true. In relating verbal conversations and 
narrations which have never been committed to writing, 
of course we do not pretend to give the precise words 
used by the speakers ; but in every instance we endeavor 
to give truthfully the substance of what was said. We 
have constantly endeavored to avoid going too much into 
detail, aiming to select only representative characters 
and historical facts ; but with the growth of the Church 
the materials have become so abundant that we find it 
difficult not to have "too much of a good thing." But if 
it is important to preserve the current history of the 
Church, which is made up of characters, facts, and fig- 
ures, we cannot avoid some detail. We think, however, 
we have avoided repetition and tediousness. Our task, 
we think, is now two-thirds done; and should we be 
permitted to finish it, we shall rejoice that in the good 
providence of God it was assigned us by our brethren. 
It is both pleasant and spiritually profitable to spend the 
evening of life in reviewing the loving-kindness of the 
Lord to us as a people for more than threescore years 
and ten. J. G. Jones. 

Port Gibson, Mississippi, January, 1875. 



Title-Page. Foreword by Rev. T. L. Mellen. Preface to 
Volume Two by Rev. J. G. Jones. 


Conference at Midway, November 7, 1817; Rev. John Ford 
Selected for Conference, October 27, 1818; Illness of Bishop 
McKendree; Statistics; Conference, November, 1819; Wash- 
ington, November, 1820; Midway-Chickasawhay Circuit; Sta- 
tistics; Appointments; December, 1821, Washington; Statis- 
tics; Appointments; Barnabas Pipkin; John C. Burruss; 
Elizabeth Academy; B. M. Drake; John R. Lambuth; Mis- 
sionary Movement; Statistics; Appointments; William 
Winans 17 


Conference at Tuscaloosa, Ala,; Bishops Roberts and Soule 
Present; Admissions; Elections; Ordinations; Missionary 
Work; Readjustment of Boundary Line; Statistics; Nicho- 
las Mclntyre; Tragic Death of John O. T. Hawkins;' Au- 
thor's First Circuit; Laymen; William Venables ..47 


Conference at Washington, Miss.; Bishops Roberts and 
Soule Present; Probationers Admitted as Spectators; Com- 
plaints; Attempt to Prevent the Marriage of Young Preach- 
ers; Prospective New Orleans; Choctaw Mission; Resolution 
to Reduce Ratio of Delegation; Letter; Mrs. Woodrow; 
Bishop Soule Preaches Funeral; Appointments; J?rominent 
M etho dists 71 


On December 14, 1826, Conference Met in Tuscaloosa, Ala.; 
Bishops Roberts and Soule Present; Local Preachers Ad- 


10 Contents of Volume Tiro. 

mitted as Spectators; Elizabeth Academy; Mrs. Thayer; 
Excitement about Freemasonry; Colonization Society; 
Parsonages; Ministerial Costume; Missions; Christian Ad- 
vocate; Donation to Bishop Roberts; Rapid Settlement of 
Choctaw Purchase; Generals Jackson and Hinds; Difficulties 
with Union Societies; Associated Methodists and Methodist 
Protestant Church; i^aLjlevi val ; Camp Meeting^ Preston 
Cooper Converted; Controversy on Baptism f~SIatistics. .114 


Conference Met in Natchez, Miss., December 20, 1827; Bish- 
op Soule Present; Natchez Bluff; Educational Interests; 
Pastoral Address; Trouble with Probationers; Sermon by 
Bishop Soule; Choctaw Mission; Delegates to General Con- 
ference; Church in New Orleans; QreajtPpvival L" Warren; 
First Society in Yazoo; Organize at Vicksburg; Dr. Bird- 
song; W. M. Minter 133 


Alexander Talley, Missionary to Choctaws; The Leflores; 
Character and Habits of the Choctaws; I^dJa^_Camp.,Meet- 

ing; Falling Exercisej Temperance Convention; Indian 

Ball ; New^Orleans ; Mobile ; Statistics 165 


On Christmas Day, 1828, Conference Met in Tuscaloosa, 
Ala.; Preparation Journey; Bishop Soule Presided; Reso- 
lution against Early Marriages Repealed; Academies; 
Conference Funds; Finale of Peyton S. Graves; Bishop 
Soule and Captain Washington; Sermon by Bishop; Metho-. 
djsm in Tuscaloosa; Eugene V. LeVert; Preston Cooper, 
Mike Hooter, and "Others 187 


Conference at Washington, Miss., December 17, 1829; Bish- 
op Roberts Present; Admissions; Discontinuances; Read- 
missions; Election to Orders; Locations; Expulsion of 
Miles Harper; His Restoration; After Life; William V. 
Douglass in Trouble; Academies; Introduction of Colored 

Contents of Volume Two. 11 

Missions; New Orleans; Winans and Pipkin; Early- Metho- 
dists and Early Struggles'of Methodism; Removal of Choc- 
tajKs_West^ First Camp Meeting in Swamp 229 


On November 24, 1830, Conference Met in Tuscaloosa, Ala.; 
James H. Mellard Elected President; Education; Free- 
masonry; Sale of Our Church Literature; Female Assist- 
ance Society; First Cam p Meetin g at Lake_Providence ; 
Vicksburg; Warren Circuit; Montgomery; Tuscaloosa; La- 
bors and Death of Ashley HewTttT Extraordinary Conver- 
sion and Happy Death of Miss Nancy Hewitt; Death of 
James A. Hughes; William James — How He Lived and 
Died; Statistics 255 


Conference met at Woodville, Miss., November 30, 1831; 
Bishop Roberts Presided; Full Attendance-; Revisions of 
the Course of Study; Administration of Discipline Re- 
quired; Matters for Action of General Conference; Dele- 
gates; Book Depository; Division of the Conference; Sta- 
tistics 272 


On November 21, 1832, Conference Met at Vicksburg, Miss.; 
Bishop James 0. Andrew Present after Saturday After- 
noon; Thomas Clinton, the Only Presiding Elder Present, 
Was Elected President; Church Dedicated; John Lane Re- 
admitted; Conference Prayer Meeting; Initial Step Toward 
a Home College; Lake Bolivar Mission; Thomas Griffin's 
Final Location; Pompey, the Negro Preacher; Noted Lay 
Members; Statistics 284 


Conference Met at Natchez, Miss., November 13, 1833; Bish- 
op John Emory Present; Admissions; Readmissions; Ordi- 
nations; Locations; Deaths; Educational; Trouble with 
Andrew Adams and John A. Cotton; Boxes of Clothing; 
New Pastoral Charges; Wife Protested against Location; 

!:> (U/iitcnts of Volume Two. 

Abundant Support; Church Built; Daniel Guice to Secure 
Revival; History of Wives of Itinerants Greatly Needed; 
Statistics 300 


Conference at Clinton, Miss., November 12, 1834; Bishop 
Not Present; William Winans Elected President; R. D. 
Smith, Secretary; Importance of Written Journal; Admis- 
sions, etc.; Course of Study Enforced; Dividend from Book 
Concern; Foster Bequest; Manual School on Paper; James 
Westerland in Trouble; Talley's Last Report of Choctaw 
Mission; Mission to Texas; B. M. Drake as Presiding 
Elder; John N. Maffitt; Choctaw Mission West; Early 
Methodists in New Orleans, Natchez, and Vicksburg; Sta- 
tistics 313 


On November 25, 1835, Conference Met at Woodville, Miss.; 
Bishop Soule Present; Death of Alexander Talley and 
Jonathan C. Jones; Admissions, etc.; Ample Funds; Dona- 
tion to Missouri Conference; Manual Labor School; Chris- 
tian Herald; Trouble by Northern Abolitionists; Box of 
Clothing; James Westerland Expelled; Maffitt and Church- 
Building in New Orleans; Conference against Change of 
General Rule; Delegates to General Conference; Book De- 
pository Discontinued in New Orleans; General Conference 
Takes Territory; Elijah Steele; Western Louisiana; Work 
in Mississippi; Young Preachers; Chickasaw Mission Dis- 
trict ; Statistics 339 


On December 7, 1836, Conference Met at Vicksburg, Miss. 
Bishop Morris Presided; Admissions, etc.; Jesse Given 
Bradford Frazee; Death of Zachariah Wilson; Monuments 
Male Academies; Elizabeth Academy; Conference Funds 
Box of Clothing; New Orleans Church; Christian Herald: 
Southwestern Christian Advocate; Texas Mission; Martin 
Ruter; Robert Alexander; Littleton Fowler; Superiority of 
Itinerancy; Preachers' Fund Society; Fast Days; Trail.;- 

Contents of A'olumc Tivo. 13 

fers from Tennessee; Districts; Milton H. Jones and the 
Panther; Introduction of our Church into Jackson, Miss.; 
Camp Meetings ; Statistics 362 


Conference Met in Natchez December 6, 1837; Bishop An- 
drew Present; Old and New Journal; Corrected Names; 
Admissions, etc.; A. D. Wooldridge Withdraws; Church 
in New Orleans; Female Benevolence; Leroy Swormstedt; 
Resolutions; Appointments on Districts; Church in Ray- 
mond ; Work in Texas ; Statistics 385 


On December 5, 1838, Conference Met in Grenada, Miss.; 
Bishop Delayed; William Winans Elected President; Ad- 
missions, etc.; Great Sermon by Bishop Morris; Grenada 
Liberality; Centennial of Methodism; Emory Schools; 
First Move for Seminary in Texas; Resolutions against 
Fairs, Pews, Instrumental Music, and Choirs in Churches; 
Closing Scenes; Revival in Starkville; New Circuits in 
Chickasaw Purchase; Colored Missions; Death of Dr. Ru- 
ter; Texas District; H. M. Booth and Others; Mrs. Dupree 
and Judges Mounger and Watts; Church-Building; Statis- 
tics 399 


On December 4, 1839, Conference Met at Natchez, Miss.; 
Bishop Andrew; Death of William V. Douglass and J. L. 
G. Strickland; Admissions, etc.; Educational; Printing 
Conference Minutes; Pastoral Letter; Delegates to Gen- 
eral Conference; Preston Cooper and His Dream; Texas 
Conference and Preachers; Advice by Bishop Waugh; Mem- 
phis Conference; Retrocession of Western Louisiana; Hill 
Jones and Family; Against Hasty Trials; John McCauly; 
Extraordinary Gift in Prayer; Statistics 423 


Conference Met at Vicksburg, Miss., December 2, 1840; 
Bishop Andrew; Conferences Set Off; Admissions, etc.; 

14 Contents of Volume Two. 

S. L. L. Scott; Catechising Colored People; Address by- 
Bishop Andrew; Dividends from Book Concern and Char- 
tered Fund; A Broken Bank Disaster; Box of Clothing; 
A. L. P. Green; John H. Davidson; S. L. L. Scott Reproved 
for Long Sermons; Locating Centenary College; Statis- 
tics 440 


Conference Met for the First Time in New Orleans, La., 
November 24, 1841; Bishop Waugh; Exhorts to Aim at 
Conference Revival; Admissions, etc.; Fountain E. Pitts; 
Centenary College; Academies; Conference Funds; Box of 
Clothing; Death of Elijah Steele; Winans's Discourses; 
Close of Conference; Prospects; Statistics 452 


Conference Convened in Jackson, Miss., November 30, 1842; 
Bishop Andrew Present; Twenty-one Admitted; An Old 
Doctor at Fault; Stringing Fish as Fast as Caught; Read- 
missions; Ordinations; Discontinuations; Locations; Death 
of A. M. Whitney; Our Seminaries; Centenary College; 
Sharon College; Leroy Swormstedt; Wakes Up the Wrong 
Man; William Capers; J. B. McFerrin; A Little Unpleasant- 
ness; Examining Committees at Fault; Statistics 463 


On November 29, 1843, Conference Met at Woodville, Miss.; 
Bishops Soule and Andrew Present; Ministerial Celebri- 
ties Present; Southwestern Christian Advocate; E. S. Janes 
and How He Was Made Bishop; Admissions; Death of 
S. W. Hawkins; Northern Resolutions Rejected; Library; 
Donations and Funds; Parsonages; Educational; Preachers 
to Write Autobiographies; Delegates to General Confer- 
ence; Preaching to the Negro; Fearful Results of Slavery 
Agitation in General Conference; Statistics 482 


Conference Convened in Port Gibson, Miss., December 11, 
1844; Bishop Janes Present; Book Agents; Admissions, 

Contents of Volume Tiro. 15 

etc.; Death of James A. Shockley; James L. Forsyth; 
Centenary College in Trouble; Academies; Port Gibson 
Academy; Separation of the Church; J. B. McFerrin Com- 
plimented; Trial of "Preachers; Pleasant B. Baily; Thomas 
Price; Undergraduates Censured; John H. Davidson; 
George F. Spence; Bennett R. Truly; Thomas B. Craig- 
head; Results to Master and Slave of Preaching; Statistics; 
German Mission 503 


Conference Met at New Orleans, La., December 10, 1845; 
Bishop Soule Several Days Late; William Winans Elected 
to Preside; Dr. Leavel, Secretary; Clerical Visitors; Ad- 
missions; Reynolds Trippett; James L. Wright; Daniel 
Morse; Humphrey Williamson; Isaac Easterly; S. W. D. 
Chase; Charles P. Clark; Henry P. Young; One Expelled; 
Death of Robert D. Smith; Centenary College Moved to 
Jackson, La.; Academies; Mrs. Clinton; Pastoral Address; 
Bishop Soule Arrives; Complaints; H. H. Shropshire Ex- 
pelled; B. A. Houghton Adheres North; . Louisiana Confer- 
ence; Louisville Convention Approved; Delegates to Gen- 
eral Conference; Fast Day; Status of the Two Conferences; 
Our Colored Work 527 



The Mississippi Annual Conference, held at Midway 
Church November 7, 1817, selected -Ford's Meeting- 
house, Pearl River, Mississippi State," and -October 
-9, 1818," as the place and time for the holding of 
the next session. Nothing to the contrary appearing 
of record, it is presumed that the Conference met at 
the time and place appointed. Ford's Meetinghouse 
was the residence of the Hon. and Kev. John Ford, 
local preacher, and was built about 181 1 or 1812. It 
was here that the Conference had met in 1814. The 
building still stands, and is practically in the same 
condition in which it was at the time of the session 
°f the Conference. This .house was notable in its 
day. Not only were Conferences held there, but also 
political conventions. It is related that once while 
Andrew Jackson was "laving out" or surveving the 
military or government road through Mississippi 
territory to New Orleans he asked for accommoda- 
tions for himself and his companion officers for a 
week. Mr. Ford promptly replied: "Certainly, Gen- 
eral, but on two conditions." "What 'are the two 
conditions, Mr. Ford?" "The first is that we hold 
family worship night and morning, and it is ex- 
pected that every one sheltered under this roof be 
Vol. II.— 3 . (17) 

18 A Complete History of Methodism 

present. And the second condition is this : I am told, 
General, that you are a profane swearer. If you are 
to be my guest, you must not take the name of 
God in vain while you are in my home." Both con- 
ditions were accepted by the General for himself and 
for his friends. For one week General Jackson was 
not heard to utter an oath. Bishop McKendree was 
severely ill during the whole session, and the meet- 
ings were held in his small bedroom. 

The General Minutes do not disclose the Secre- 
tary's name. 

John Booth and Wiley Ledbetter remained on 
trial. Thomas Owens was elected and ordained eld- 
er. Samuel Sellers and Ashley Hewitt were lo- 
cated, presumably at their own request. The statis- 
tics were as follows : Mississippi District, composed 
of Natchez, Wilkinson, Amite, Pearl River, Chicka- 
sawhay, Tombeckbee Circuits, reported a total of 
1,846 white members and 389 colored members; and 
the Louisiana District, composed of Washatai and 
Attakapas Circuits, reported a total of 113 white 
members and 23 colored members. 

These figures indicate an increase of 461 white 
members and a loss of 26 colored members in the 
Mississippi District, and a loss of 25 white and 
nine colored members in the Louisiana District. 

The appointments for the ensuing year were as 
follows : 

Benjamin Edge travels with Bishop McKendree. 

Mississippi District. — Samuel Parker, P. E. 

Natchez, John Lane, John L. McLendon. 
Wilkinson, John Seaton. 
Amite, Thomas Nixon. 

In the Mississippi Conferenbe* 19 

Pearl, Miles Harper. 

New Orleans, Mark Moore, Missionary. 

Louisiana District. — John Menefee, P. B. 

Attakapas, John Menefee, Thomas Owens. 
Washita, John Booth. 

Alabama District. — Thomas Griffin, P. E. 
Tombeckbee, Thomas Griffin, John Murrow. 
Whitesand, Wiley Ledbetter. 
Chickasawhay, John Ira E. Byrd. 

The names of the elders are italicized, and so con- 
tinued to be printed for many years. It will be 
noted that New Orleans appears even now in the 
list of appointments, but only as a mission in the 
bounds of the Mississippi District. John Menefee 
was appointed in 1819, Benjamin M. Drake in 1824 
and 1825, and Peyton S. Greaves in 1826, and thence- 
forward appointments were continuously made ; but 
from 1820 to 1823 no appointments appear. For a 
most interesting account of the difficulties of estab- 
lishing Methodism in New Orleans, see McTyeire's 
"History of Methodism." 

*rite name of Samuel Parker, presiding elder of 
the Mississippi District, first appears on the Mis- 
sissippi Conference roll the next year at the Con- 
ference held in Washington, Adams County, Miss., 
November 17, 1819, Bishop Enoch George presiding. 
He was reappointed to the district ; but was sick at 
the time and grew rapidly worse after the adjourn- 
ment of the Conference, and on the 20th of December, 
1810, he died. His funeral sermon was preached the 
Sunday after his death in Washington by William 
Winans from Revelation xiv. 13. At the next session 

20 A Complete History of Methodism 

of the Conference, held at Midway Church, Amite 
County, Miss., November 17, 1820, his obituary was 
read, from which it seems that he did not serve as 
presiding elder in 1818, and only reached the Mis- 
sissippi Conference about the time of the Conference 
session in Washington in 1819. 

In that class of 1805 admitted on trial in the 
Western Conference with Samuel Parker were Miles 
Hooper, Thomas Lassley, Caleb W. Cloud, and Ben- 
jamin Edge. Lassley and Cloud were sent to the 
"Natchez Country'' some years before, and were men- 
tioned in Volume I. of this history. Benjamin Edge, 
who was to travel with Bishop McKendree, did not 
tarry or receive an appointment in the Mississippi 

Chickasawhay Circuit first appears in 1817 under 
the name of Chickasaw. When Elijah Gentry was put 
in charge of the circuit, in 1818, the name appears 
Chickasawhay, John Booth in charge, and under this 
last and proper name with John I.E. Byrd in charge, 
and continued under that name till 1890 or 1891, 
except occasionally it appears under the name of 
Winchester, when the name was changed to Leakes- 
ville. The original circuit extended very nearly a 
distance equal to the length of the stream under its 
various names; but gradually new works were 
formed and the cutting off process began at each 
end, until for a number of years it stood for onlv 
Greene County. At the time of the last change of 
name the Chickasawhay Mission seemed a hopeless 
case, and it was deemed a waste of domestic mission 
money to make further appropriations. A presiding 
elder was trying to reason with a man of some means 

In the Mississippi Conference. 21 

to get him, and through him others, to do better 
things for the support of the preacher. The lay- 
man said: "Brother , I hold that this circuit 

pays out more money and gets less in return than 
any other charge in the Mississippi Conference." He 
was referring to the fact that the Chickasawhay Cir- 
cuit was usually supplied by local preachers of 
limited education or ability, or the preachers in 
charge were very young men recently admitted on 
trial and sent to try to preach. He was not unmind- 
ful of the fact that some of these preachers did 
their very best, and developed eventually into preach- 
ers of no mean ability ; but when sent to Chickasaw- 
hay Mission, they were just beginning, without ex- 
perience. The next year an elder, a preacher of fair 
ability and a good singer, was put in charge of the 
mission under its new name, and after a year he was 
followed by an unmarried man of more than usual 
ability, and the Leakesville Circuit began to move 
forward. Two preachers are now on the circuit, and 
it is expected soon to divide the circuit and have two 
self-supporting charges. 

At the Conference held in Washington November 
17, 1819, Daniel De Vinne was admitted on trial. 
Wiley Ledbetter and John Booth were admitted into 
full connection. John Seaton was elected elder, but 
was not ordained until the Conference held at Wash- 
ington, December 7, 1821. Wiley Ledbetter and John 
Booth at the Conference held at Midway, November 
17, 1820, were for the second time elected deacons 
and admitted into full connection. 

The statistics of membership reported at the Con- 
ference November 17, 1819, were: Mississippi Dis- 

22 A Complete History of Methodism 

triet, consisting of Natchez, Wilkinson, Amite, Pearl 
River Circuits, with 1,051 white and 257 colored 
members; Louisiana District, composed of Attaka- 
pas and Washita Circuits, with 151 white and 32 
colored members; Alabama District, composed of 
Tombeckbee, Whitesand, and Chickasawhay Circuits, 
with 968 white and 172 colored members. 

It will be observed that a third district appears 
in which the membership far exceeds that of the 
Louisiana District and approaches near unto that 
of the Mississippi District. 

The Conference for 1821 was once more held at 
Midway Church, November 17, 1820. Who was the 
secretary or who was the bishop or president in 
nowise appears in the General Minutes. The date 
and place are named in the General Minutes for 
1820. In answer to Question 1, Who are admitted 
on trial? the names of Henry P Cook and Nicholas 
T. Snead are given. In answer to Question 2, Who 
remain on trial ? the names of Thomas Clinton, Mere- 
dith Renneau, and Daniel De Vinne appear. Who are 
the deacons? is answered: "Wiley Ledbetter, elect; 
John Booth, elect." In answer to Question 7, Who 
have located this year? the names of "John I. E. 
Byrd, John Menefee, and John McLendon" appear. 
The statistics reported show another district avid 
the following number of members: Mississippi Dis- 
trict, composed of Natchez, Wilkinson, Amite, and 
Pearl River Circuits, with 1,075 white and 309 col- 
ored members; Louisiana District, composed of At- 
takapas and Washita Circuits, with 166 white and 
29 colored members; Alabama District, composed of 
Whitesand, Chickasawhay, Tombeckbee, Alabama, 

In the Mississippi Conference. 23 

and Cochaster Circuits, with 1,190 white and 324 
colored members; Cahawba District, composed of 
Franklin, Cahawba, Tuscaloosa, and Mariana Cir- 
cuits, with 1,012 white and 44 colored members. 

Growth is being manifested in all the districts. 

The appointments for the ensuing year are : 

Louisiana District. — Ashley Hewit, P E. 

Washita, Ashley Hewit. 
Rapides, Thomas Owens. 
Attakapas, Daniel De Vinne. 

Mississippi District. — John Lane, P. E. 

Natchez Circuit, William Winans. 
Claiborne, John Seaton. 
Wilkinson, Ebenezer Hearn. 
Amite, Miles Harper. 
Pearl River, John Booth. 

Alabama District. — Thomas Griffin, P. E. 

Whitesand, Henry P. Cook. 
Chickasawhay, Wiley Ledbetter. 
Tombeckbee, Meredith Renneau. 
Cochnaker, Thomas Clinton. 
Alabama, Nicholas Mclntyre. 

Cahawba District. — Thomas Nixon, P. E. 
Cahawba Circuit, Thomas Nixon. 
Franklin, Nicholas T. Snead. 

Marion, _. 

Tuscaloosa, . 

This is accompanied by a footnote from the editor's 
pen : "We have found many difficulties in the pre- 
ceding Conferences, as in some instances the same 
names were reported in two or more places in the 
manuscript, and there was no mark to distinguish 
the elders. We have done the best we could without, 

24: A Complete History of Methodism 

however, having reason to presume the minutes are 


Before adjourning the Conference elected Wash- 
ington, Adams County, Miss., the place and Decem- 
ber 7, 1821, was named as the time for the next ses- 
sion of the Conference. 

Accordingly the session was held at the time and 
place appointed, it is presumable, since no contrary 
record appears. The writer confesses to dense ig- 
norance as to who presided and who was chosen 

William Alexander, Edmund Pearson, Armstrong 
I. Blackburn, and Eugene V Le Vert were admitted 
on trial ; Henry P. Cook and Nicholas T. Snead re- 
mained on trial ; and Thomas Clinton, Meredith Ren- 
neau, and Daniel De Vinne were admitted into full 
connection, and they and Barnabas Pipkin were or- 
dained at that Conference, so a bishop must have 
been present. John Seaton, Ebenezer Hearn, Wiley 
Ledbetter, and John Booth were elected and or- 
dained elders. This is further evidence of the fact 
that a bishop was present ; but which bishop was it? 
There were only three bishops in those pioneer days 
— William McKendree, Enoch George, and Robert 
R. Roberts. Bishop Enoch George was, it may be 
stated with almost absolute certainty, the president. 
In answer to Question 7, Who have located this 
year? "the name of John Lane is seen;" and in an- 
swer to Question 8, Who are the supernumerary 
preachers? "appears the name of Thomas Griffin." 
The statistics show further growth in membership : 
Mississippi District, composed of the following cir- 
cuits, Natchez, Claiborne, Wilkinson, Amite, and 

In the Mississippi Conference. 25 

Pearl River, reported 1,270 white and 502 colored 
members; Louisiana District, composed of the fol- 
lowing circuits, Attakapas, Rapides, and Washita, 
reported 127 white and :>!) colored members; Ala- 
bama District, composed of the following circuits, 
Whitesand, Chickasawhay, Tombeckbee, and Ala- 
bama, reported 1,710 white and 388 colored mem- 
bers; Cahawba District, composed of the following 
circuits, Franklin, Cahawba, Tuscaloosa, and Ma- 
rion, reported 1,421 white and 91 colored members. 
No financial statements whatever. 

For the year 1822 the appointments were made as 
follows : 

Louisiana District. — Ashley Hewit, P. E. 

Washita Circuit, Ashley Hewit. 

Rapides and Attakapas, Henry P. Cook. 

Mississippi District. — William Winans, P E. 

Natchez Circuit, John Seaton. 
Claiborne, Ebenezer Hearn. 

Amite, Daniel De Vinne, Armstrong I. Blackburn. 
Wilkinson, Miles Harper. 

Pearl River, Thomas Griffin, Sup., William Alexan- 
der. J*y 

Alabama District. — Nicholas Mclntyre, P E. 
Whitesand, Wiley Ledbetter. 
Chickasawhay, Thomas Owens, Edmund Pearson. 
Tombeckbee, Zechariah Williams, John Patton. 
Alabama, M. Renneau, N. T. Snead, Peyton Greaves. 

Cahawba District. — John Burrows, P. E. 
Cahawba Circuit, Benjamin Drake, John Lambert. 
Franklin, Barnabas Pipkin. 

Before adjournment John McKay's, Chickasawhay 
River, was chosen as the place for the next yearly 

26 A Complete History of Methodism 

meeting, and December 5, 1822, was announced as 
the time. 

The appointments show quite a number of trans- 
fers to the Mississippi Conference, among whom 
was Barnabas Pipkin, who had been received on 
trial into the South Carolina Conference at Camden 
December 24, 1818, and admitted into full connec- 
tion and ordained deacon at the session held in Co- 
lumbia, S. C, January 11, 1821. In the memoir from 
the pen of the Rev. William H. Watkins, D.D., which 
appeared in the Minutes of the Mississippi Confer- 
ence held at Hazlehurst, Miss., December 18, 1878, 
the following statements are made: "Barnabas Pip- 
kin was born in North Carolina February 27, 1795, 
. . . and transferred to the Mississippi Confer- 
ence in 1812. After a ministerial life of nearly sixty 
years, as pastor, presiding elder, and superannuated 
preacher, this venerable servant of God died at great 
peace at his residence, in St. Helena Parish, State 
of Louisiana, on the 11th day of May, 1878, aged 
eighty-two years. He was twice married — first to 
Miss Elizabeth Hanna, and secondly to Mrs. R. A. 
Bradford. Thrifty, frugal, and generous, his domes- 
tic life was one of great comfort and helpfulness, 
and the weary found a welcome and a resting place 
under his hospitable roof. He was a man of labor 
and of sacrifice for the Master's sake, strong in his 
purposes, quick in execution, and deep in his convic- 
tions of duty. His death was sublime. Conscious 
that he had approached the end of his journey, he 
looked back only to solace the sad hearts in his 
household and to send us greeting; then, waving his 

In the 1/ ississippi Conference. l m 

hand in adieus, he passed through the gate and en- 
tered the city." 

It will be npticed that the presiding elder of the 
Cahawba District was John C. Burruss, erroneously 
printed John Burrows, and the two preachers on 
the Cahawba Circuit were Benjamin Magruder 
Drake and John R. Lambuth. These names have 
contributed much to the history of Methodism, and 
the men deserve more than a passing mention. John 
C Burruss was one of a class of fourteen admitted 
on trial into the Virginia Conference held at Norfolk, 
Va., February 20, 1814. His first appointment was 
that of junior or assistant on the Gloucester charge, 
in the James River District, and the next year he 
was returned to the same work as preacher in 
charge; but at the next Conference, held at Raleigh, 
N. C, January 24, 1816, he and six others were lo- 
cated, presumably at their own request. At the 
Conference held at Tuscaloosa, Ala., December 22, 
1824, he was apointed President of Elizabeth Fe- 
male Academy, Washington, Adams County, Miss., 
the first chartered institution in the world for the 
higher education of girls and young women. The 
next year he -was returned to the academy presi- 
dency, and required "to devote as much of his min- 
isterial service as may be consistent with his other 
avocations to the village of Port Gibson," which dou- 
ble appointment was continued two or three years. 
He continued at the head of the Elizabeth Female 
Academy for a number of years. His reputation was 
that of a scholarly man, a wise administrator, a 
strong, clear, forcible preacher, of striking person- 

28 -4. Complete History of Methodism 

ality. No one questions his integrity of character 
or purity of life. 

To the Reverend Bishop Charles Betts Galloway, 
D.D., LL.D., the writer is largely indebted for the 
following information about the "Elizabeth Female 
Academy, the Mother of Female Colleges/' Volume 
II. "Publications of the Mississippi Historical So- 
ciety," pp. 1G7-178 : "The grounds and buildings were 
donated to the Mississippi Conference by Miss Eliza- 
beth Roach in 1818, and in her honor the institution 
was called the Elizabeth Female Academy." The 
year following a charter was granted by the Legis- 
lature, and approved by Gov. David Holmes Feb- 
ruary 17, 1819. The academy opened its doors to 
pupils November 12, 1818, under the presidency of 
Chilion F. Stiles and with Mrs. Jane B. Sanderson 
as "Governess." The incorporators or trustees 
named in the act of incorporation were John Mene- 
fee, Daniel Rawlings, Alexander Covington, John TV 
Briant (Bryan), and Beverly R. Grayson, all of 
whom except Menefee were laymen. 

Bishop Galloway quotes as follows from Dr. Wil- 
liam Winans's manuscript autobiography: 

Chilion F. Stiles was a man of high intellectual and 
moral character, and eminent for piety. The governess 
was Mrs. Jane B. Sanderson, a Presbyterian lady of fine 
manners, and an excellent teacher, but subject to great 
and frequent depression of spirits. This resulted, no doubt, 
from the shock she had received from the murder of her 
husband a few years previously by a robber. . Though 

a Presbyterian and stanch to her sect, she acted her part 
with so much prudence and liberality as to give entire sat- 
isfaction to her Methodist employers and patrons. Some 
of the most improving as well as the most agreeable hours 

In the Mississippi Conference. 29 

of relaxation from my official duties were at the Academy 
in the society of Brother Stiles, who combined in an emi- 
ment degree sociability of disposition, good sense, extensive 
information on various subjects, and fervent piety, render- 
ing him an agreeable and instructive companion. He was 
the only person I ever knew who owed his adoption of a 
religious course of life to the instrumentality of Free Ma- 
sonry. He was awakened to a sense of his sinfulness in 
the process of his initiation into that fraternity. Up to 
that time he had been a gay man of the world, and a 
skeptic, if not an infidel, in regard to the Christian religion. 
But so powerful and effective was the influence upon him 
by somewhat in his initiation that from that hour he 
turned to God with purpose of heart, soon entered into 
peace* and thenceforth walked before God in newness of 
life till his pilgrimage terminated in death. 

Bishop Galloway continues : 

Mr. Stiles was succeeded in the presidency by Rev. John 
C. Burruss, of Virginia, an elegant gentleman, a finished 
scholar, and an elegant preacher. The school greatly pros- 
pered under his administration, as it continued to do 
under his immediate successor, Rev. Dr. B. M. Drake, a 
name that will ever live among us as the synonym for con- 
secrated scholarship, perfect propriety, unaffected piety, 
and singular sincerity. In 1833 Dr. Drake resigned the 
presidency in order to devote himself to pastoral work, 
and was succeeded by Rev. J. P Thomas; and in 1836 he 
gave way to Rev. Bradford Frazee, of Louisville, Ky. Rev. 
R. D. Smith, well known throughout the Southwest for 
his rare devotion, was called to the president's chair in 

Some of the by-laws adopted by the Board of Trustees 
for the government and regulation of the Academy recall, 
in a measure, the rigid and elaborate rules prescribed by 
John Wesley for the school at Kingswood. The 

spiritual culture of the students was the supreme concern 
of the faculty. The Bible was systematically taught, and 

30 A Complete History of Methodism 

revivals of religion were enjoyed. A notable one occurred 
in 1826. 

The coming of Mrs. Caroline M. Thayer, in the fall of 
1825, was an epoch in the history of the Academy, and her 
administration marked an era. She was a remarkably ac- 
complished woman, with a genius for administration. Of 
her Dr. Winans, President of the Board of Trustees, thus 
speaks : 

"Monday, January 16, 1826. 

"In the evening I returned to Brother Burruss's, where I 
met Sister C. M. Thayer, who has come to take charge of 
Elizabeth Female Academy. She is a woman of middle 
size, coarse features, some of the stiffness of Yankee man- 
ners, but of an intelligent and pleasant expression of coun- 
tenance, free in Conversation, and various and abundant in 
information. Rev. John C. Burruss, the President of the 
Academy, says: 'Mrs. Thayer is a most extraordinary wom- 
an. I have never seen such a teacher.' " 

Mrs. Thayer was a niece of General Warren, the hero 
of Bunker Hill, educated in Boston, warmly recommended 
by Dr. Wilbur Fisk, and, before coming to Mississippi, had 
made great reputation as an author and teacher. She had 
taught for a while with Rev. Valentine Cook on Green 
River, Kentucky, and had published a volume of essays 
and poems that had attracted wide atention. 

Concerning the location of the academy and the 
building itself, Bishop Galloway says : 

The institution was located at Washington, six miles 
east of Natchez. Washington had been the brilliant and 
busy little territorial capital, and was then the center of 
social and political influence. 

A recent visit to the site of that venerable Bchool enabled 
me to gather much valuable information about its work, 
and heightened my appreciation of its vast educative and 
spiritual influence upon the history and destiny of the 
Southwest. The walls of the spacious building still stand, 

In the Mississippi Conference. 31 

but the merry voices that rang through its halls live only 
in the sweet echoes of a distant past. Borrowing a style 
of architecture from the Spanish of colonial times, the struc- 
ture was two and a half stories high, the first of brick, the 
others of frame. A fire consumed it twenty years ago 
(about 1879 or 1880, having been used as a family residence 
by the widow and chidren of John W. Bryan, ,one of the 
incorporators of the Academy), leaving only the solid ma- 
sonry as a memorial of the educational ambition and 
spiritual consecration of early Mississippi Methodism. 
For many years the Elizabeth Female Academy was the 
only institution of high grade in the entire South for the 
education of the young. All others have been followers 
and beneficiaries of this brave heroine of Mississippi. 

Benjamin Magruder Drake was born in Robinson 
County, N. C, September 11, 1800. When he was in 
his ninth year, his parents moved to the valley of 
the Green River, in Kentucky. On May 22, 1818, he 
was genuinely and thoroughly regenerated, and no 
room left for doubt. On June 7, 1819, he was li- 
censed to exhort, and on September 18, 1819, he was 
licensed to preach, and was probably employed by 
the presiding elder, W Gunn, on the Henderson 
Circuit. On October 4, 1820, he was admitted on 
trial into the Tennessee Conference and sent with 
S. P. V. Gillespie to Fountain Head Circuit. His 
health gave way, and he had to give up the work, 
and it was reported that "he had gone home to die." 
In 1822 Bishop Enoch George sent him to the Mis- 
sissippi with a message to Rev. J. C Burruss : "See 
that he wants nothing.'* On December 25, 1823, he 
was admitted into full connection with the Missis- 
sippi Conference, and elected to deacon's orders; 
and at the Conference held at Tuscaloosa, Ala., De- 

32 A Complete History of Methodism 

cember 22, 1824, he was elected an ordained elder 
by Bishop Joshua Soule. He served stations and 
circuits the most prominent — Natchez, Washington, 
and New Orleans — and was more than once a pre- 
siding elder. He was in the presiding elder's office 
at the time of his death. The very night of his death 
he held family worship. One who knew of his life 
and labors in New Orleans and of his worth as a 
preacher wrote : 

From house to house, where squalid poverty made disease 
and death more loathsome still, this angel of mercy was 
seen to pass at midnight and noon, administering aid to 
the body and comfort to the soul. Forgetful of himself, 
he prosecuted his godlike mission until he fell panting 
under the touch of the fiery scourge. But his high com- 
mission was not yet executed, and the Master raised him 
up to suffer on. Thrice did he bow under this scorching 
fever, and thrice did God restore him to health. But 
none of these things moved him, for he was not his own, 
and He who had called him to this work had become his 
"all in all." Truth and duty found him ever standing at his 
post, for he knew not danger and felt not fear. 
Courteous, dignified, prompt, conscientious, he who should 
utter, though in a whisper, a suspicion of his lack of purity, 
integrity, courage, or fidelity as a minister and a man 
would betray a malignity which nothing but envy or jeal- 
ousy could provoke. In the pulpit his manner was 
always grave and dignified. There was no affectation, no 
coldness, no reserve. His lessons were read with solemn 
distinctness. His prayer seemed inspiration. His 
sermons were always replete with interest, sometimes te- 
dious. His sentences, though never stiff, were never meas- 
ured. (Extracts from Memorial Sermon by Rev. W. H. 
Watkins, D.D.) 

In 1852 the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity 
was worthily conferred on him by Centenary Col- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 33 

lege, Jackson, La. He married when young, and 
unto him were born a number of children, two of 
whom, William Winans Drake and James Perry 
Drake, became useful and honored members of the 
Mississippi Conference. At least three of his grand- 
sons are now Methodist preachers. 

At the Conference held in Natchez, Miss., Decem- 
ber 25, 1823, John R. Lambuth was received into 
full connection and sent to the Tombeckbee Circuit, 
in the Alabama District, with Thomas Ledbetter as- 
sistant. The year before he served the Franklin Cir- 
cuit, Cahawba District, with Peyton Greaves in 
charge; the year before he had been assistant to 
Benjamin M. Drake on the Cahawba Circuit, in the 
Cahawba District; at the Kentucky Conference held 
in Lexington, Ky., September 18, 1821, he, with 
twenty others, had been admitted on trial into the 
traveling connection and transferred to the Missis- 
sippi Conference. At the memorable Conference 
held in Tuscaloosa, Ala., December 22, 1824, he was 
send to Attakapas, La., and the next year to Mobile 
Mission, Ala., where he did a fine work and laid 
lasting foundations on which others builded. He 
continued many years in the itinerancy, and ended 
his earthlv career at his home, in Madison Countv, 
Miss., November fi, 1864. He was the father of the 
Rev. Robert W Lambuth, who died /June 16, 1867, an 
honored member of the Mississippi Conference, and 
of the Rev. James William Lambuth, D.D., who went 
out from the Mississippi Conference in 1854 as a mis- 
sionary to China, and who many years afterwards 
was transferred to Japan, where he fell on sleep in 
Jesus April 28, 1892 ; and his body, always frail, yet 

31 A Complete History of Methodism 

ever a miracle of endurance, sleeps in the cemetery 
at Kobe, awaiting a glorious resurrection. The Rev. 
Walter R. Lambuth, M.D., D.D., a native of China 
and for many years a missionary there and in Japan 
and now for some years the distinguished and enter- 
prising Missionary Secretary of our great Church, 
is a son of Dr. James W. Lambuth, and of course a 
grandson of John R. Lambuth, the missionary to 
Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. 

At the Conference held at Washington, Adams 
County, Miss., December 7, 1821, Alexander Talley 
was appointed missionary to Pensacola, Mobile, 
Blakeley, and adjoining country; at the Conference 
held at John McRay's, Chickasawhay River, Decem- 
ber 5, 1822, Ashley Hewitt, supernumerary, was ap- 
pointed Conference missionary; at the Conference 
held in Natchez December 25, 1823, Henry P Cook 
was appointed missionary to Pensacola (Florida 
being delivered to the United States by Spain in 
July, 1821) and Wiley Ledbetter was appointed to 
the Choctaw Mission. These were the beginnings of 
missionary movements out from the Mississippi Con- 
ference. At the session held in Tuscaloosa, Ala., 
December 22, 1824, some converted Choctaw Indians 
were in attendance and were introduced to Bishop 
Soule, whose soul was deeply stirred within him. 
Standing erect in all his imposing stature, eyes filled 
with tears of joy, he cried out : "Brethren, the Choc- 
taws are ours. No, I mistake; they are Christ's!" 

That mission was prosecuted with great success, 
notwithstanding none of our missionaries ever ac- 
quired a sufficient knowledge of the language or 
dialect to preach in the language wherein the Choc- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 35 

taws were born. Rev. Cyrus Byington, born at 
Stockbridge, Berkshire County, Mass., March 11, 
1793, was requested by the American Board of Com- 
missioners in September, 1819, to take charge of 
twenty or twenty-five persons under appointment 
and on the way as missionaries to the Choctaws in 
Mississippi. His preparations were made in a few 
hours. By land to Pittsburg, then down the Ohio 
and the Mississippi to a point about opposite the 
juncture of the Tallahatchie and Yalobusha Rivers, 
and thence two hundred miles across the Yazoo Del- 
ta and the hills east to a place where, they estab- 
lished headquarters and where they labored long and 
successfully, they came with the Indians to the ter- 
ritory. Dr. Byington reduced the language to a 
grammatical system ; his seventh revision of his own 
work was edited by Dr. Byington and published in 
1870 in the proceedings of the American Philosoph- 
ical Society. No work of that sort was done by our 
Methodist missionaries. Yet God blessed our labors 
from the very beginning, and many of the unedu- 
cated sons of the forest were given as souls to our 
ministry of love and zeal. 

The statistics for 1823 showed the following im- 
proved conditions in the Mississippi Conference: 
Louisiana District, comprised of the following cir- 
cuits, Attakapas, Rapides, and Washita, reported 
156 white and 98 colored members ; Mississippi Dis- 
trict, comprised of the following circuits, Natchez 
and Washington, Claiborne, Wilkinson, Amite, Pearl 
River, and Whitesand, reported 2,089 white and 877 
colored members; Alabama District, comprised of 
the following circuits, Chickasawhay, Leaf River, 

36 A Complete History of Methodism 

Tombeckbee, Cedar Creek, Conaco, and Alabama, re- 
ported 2,000 white and 396 colored members; Ca- 
hawba District, comprised of the following circuits, 
Cahawba, Tuscaloosa, Franklin, Marion, and Jones's 
Valley,, reported 2,968 white and 425 colored mem- 


Members in Society this year: White, 7,213; col- 
ored, 1,796. Members in Society last vear: White, 
6,960; colored, 1,364. Increase this year: White, 
250 ; colored, 432. Traveling preachers this year, 46 ; 
traveling preachers last year, 36. Increase this 
year, 10. 

The statistics at the Conference held in Tusca- 
loosa, Ala., December, 1824, showed a still greater 
increase in members, but a decrease in preachers — 
only 41 preachers; 46 in 1823. 

Question 13. What members are in Society? An- 
swer: Whites, 8,024; colored, 2,000. Last year: 
Whites, 7,213; colored, 1,796. Increase: Whites, 
811 ; colored, 204. 

And "so mightily grew the work of God, and pre- 
vailed" (Acts xix. 20). "And the Lord added to the 
Church daily such as should be saved'' (Acts ii. 47). 
But the hardships endured, privations suffered, 
difficulties surmounted by those faithful pioneers 
no pen can portray. "They rest from their labors, 
and their works do follow them." (Rev. xiv. 13.) 

At that Conference at Tuscaloosa, Ala., December 
22, 1824, five were admitted on trial : John G. Jones, 
John O. T. Hawkins, John P Haney, William Spru- 
ill, and Samuel Davis. Nine remained on trial: 

In the Mississippi Conference. 37 

Thomas Ledbetter, Llewellen Leggett, John Cotton, 
James Nicholson, Thomas S. Abernatlrv, Robert L. 
Walker, Thomas C. Brown, Thomas Burpo, and John 
Collier. Seven were admitted into full connection : 
William Alexander, Jonas Westerland, Edward Har- 
per, Elijah B. McKay, M. C Henderson, William M. 
Curtis, and John G. Lee, five of whom — all except 
John G. Lee — were ordained deacons. Samuel Pat- 
ton, Henry P Cook, and Benjamin M. Drake were 
elected and ordained elders. Samuel Patton and 
Meredith Renneau were located. 

Question 14. Where are the preachers stationed 
this year? 

Louisiana District. — Ashley Hewit, P. E. 

Attakapas Circuit, J. R. Lambert. 
Rapides, Jonas Westerland. 
Washita, Thomas C. Brown. 

Mississippi District. — William Winans, P. E., and Superin- 
tendent of the Choctaw Mission. 

Natchez and Washington, Barnabas Pipkin. 
Bayou Pierre, John I. E. Byrd, Thomas Owens. 
Big Black, Llewellen Leggett. 
Wilkinson, Francis R. Cheatham, William Spruill. 
Amite, Thomas Clinton, John G. Jones. 
Pearl River, Peter James, John P. Harvey. 
New Orleans Mission, Benjamin M. Drake. 
Choctaw Mission, Wiley Ledbetter. 
John C. Burruss, President of the Elizabeth Female 
Academy, at Washington, Miss. 

Alabama District. — Ebenezer Hearn, P E. 

Whitesand Circuit, Elijah B. McKay. 
Leaf River, Miles Harper. 
Chickasawhay, Edward Harper. 
Tombeckbee, Zachariah Williams. 

38 A Complete History of Methodism 

Conecuh, John Cotton, Samuel Davis. 

Cedar Creek, J. Boucher, Thomas E. Ledbetter. 

Mobile and Pensacola Mission, Henry P. Cook. 

Cahawba District. — Robert L. Kennon, P. E. 

Alabama Circuit, Marcus C. Henderson, James 

Cahawba, Hugh A. McPhail, John G. Lee. 
Jones Valley, Edmund Pearson, Thomas Burpo. 
Tuscaloosa, Robert L. Walker, John O. T. Hawkins. 
New River, John Collier, Thomas S. Abernathy. 
Marion, Peyton S. Greaves. 
Tuscaloosa Station, William M. Curtis. 

Alexander Sale and Benjamin F. Liddon transferred to 
the Tennessee Conference. 

In closing this substitute chapter the writer would 
quote largely from the discourse of the late Rev. 
Dr. William H. Watkins on the "Life and Character 
of William Winans, D.D. :" 

There is no more hopeful growth of Methodism as a 
great and expanding ecclesiastical system than what is 
discovered in the profound veneration which is cherished for 
the history and worth of the men who espoused "that form 
of sound doctrine" when no other motive was felt than that 
purest and sublimest of all impulses, "the love of Christ." 
This record is not complete without the history of 
William Winans. He was born on Chestnut Ridge, Penn., 
November 3, 1788, and was the youngest of five children. 
He was of humble parentage, and was rather educated to 
labor for the daily support of a mother, who was widowed 
when he was only two years old, and others more depend- 
ent still, than to that mental training which his later years 
furnished. The iron districts of his native State afforded 
employment to youth, and here he acquired bread, but at 
the sacrifice of virtue. His ardent nature strove to excel; 
and, whether toil or recreation was the order, he toiled 

In the Mississippi Conference. 39 

with the strong or contended with the veteran for the 
mastery in the vices which custom had made familiar. 
He grew up a dissipated youth, little used to books, and 
little feeling the restraint which a pious mother's counsel 
and example should have inspired. 

His mother's house was a preaching place — one of the 
domestic altars where the pioneer apostles met the neigh- 
bors and preached "Jesus on the resurrection" to a rude 
but willing people. They did something more than preach — 
they talked to the children and urged in private the great 
doctrines of repentance toward God and faith toward our 
Lord Jesus Christ. The names of some of these pious men 
were fresh in the memory of Dr. Winans amid the infirmi- 
ties of age. They had shared his mother's hospitalities, 
and she and her children received their blessings in re- 

At sixteen William became a member of the Church, 
and for a time gave proof of earnest seeking after God by 
diligent attendance upon all the rules [ordinances] of the 
Church. His impetuous nature, unsoftened by grace, could 
not resist the temptations of the world, and he was nigh 
to his undoing. He had neglected the means of grace, and 
the rigid administration of discipline denied him the priv- 
ileges of the "love feast." Another might have grown re- 
sentful and permitted mortification to alienate him from 
God's people. Not so with young Winans. He felt the re- 
proof and resolved to amend. Availing himself of the 
first opportunity to renew his vow, as soon as the doors 
were opened he entered and offered himself to the Church 

About this time his mother moved to Ohio. William 
had been left behind to follow with others as soon as he 
had arranged some business. His trip down the river gave 
rise to an incident which by him was regarded as a special 
providence. He knew not at what point on the Ohio River 
his mother might have landed, and the boat in which he 
was descending the river was destined for New Orleans. 
He might not ascertain where his mother was. He might 

40 A Complete History of Methodism 

be carried to New Orleans; inducement to vice might over- 
come his purpose. Many had been swallowed up 
in that maelstrom of vice, and he might be only another 
victim. The pilot of the boat, through carelessness, had 
offended the captain, and was displaced. The "hands" 
took turns in steering, and young Winans came to the 
helm. Totally ignorant of his duty, unskilled in that art, 
he would have been excused; but the orders were peremp- 
tory. Resolved not to be outdone, he grasped the "steering 
oar" and stood at the helm according to his lot. On a 
Sabbath afternoon, while he was "on duty," the boat floated 
near the shore, and he recognized a sister, who chanced to 
stand near the water's edge. It was the place of his moth- 
er's debarkation. His fears subsided, he was restored to 
his family, and most devoutly did he return thanks to God 
for his deliverence. 

The pioneers of Christ's Church were already planting the 
gospel in the Northwestern Territory, and a society was 
soon formed — one member, young Winans. He was not yet 
converted, and some Calvinistic notions he had formed 
hindered a clear view of the plan of salvation — faith in 
Christ. These cost him some struggles. He set himself to 
work to find out the truth. He read and compared the 
creeds and confessions of faith, prayerfully sought wisdom 
from God, and finally settled down upon an Arminian 
basis. Soon after he was brought from darkness into 
light and from the power of Satan unto God. His conver- 
sion was clear, the Spirit's testimony complete, and the 
fruits of the Spirit were produced. He was at once made a 
class leader, and exercised his gifts as an exhorter and 
leader of prayer meetings. He had had no mental train- 
ing, having been at school in all but a few months. He 
had, however, learned to read, and had acquired some 
knowledge of arithmetic, in which study he gave ample 
proof of that vigor of intellect which characterized his 
after life. To him mathematics had ever the attraction of 
novelty, and to his old age his mind seemed to luxuriate 
in the encounter of intricate mathematical difficulties. He 

In the Mississippi Conference. 41 

Ic^an to read and to love books. -His mind stretched out 
toward knowledge, and the effort to attain gave food for 
its growing. 

Already he had felt impressed with the conviction that it 
was his duty to preach. He had misgivings. Unschooled 
and inexperienced, how could he go forth to such a duty? 
Still he had it settled in his heart that duty should be 
done; and, after being duly recommended, he was received 
on trial into the Western Conference, at its sitting in Lib- 
erty Hill, in Tennessee, on the first day of October, 1808, 
and was placed on the Limestone Circuit, in Kentucky. 
At the Conference held in Cincinnati, October 9, 1809, he 
was appointed to Vincennes Circuit. 

Methodism had been planted in the southern valley of 
the Mississippi in 1800 by Tobias Gibson, of the South 
Carolina Conference. Others had followed, but the extent 
of the territory was too vast to be supplied by them, and 
the enlarging field demanded additional laborers. The ven- 
erable Bishop Asbury presided over the Western Confer- 
ence in 1810, and his pressing sense of the destitution of 
the "Natchez country" induced him to call for volunteers; 
for, with all the episcopal prerogative and power, no man 
is forced into so distant or dangerous a position. The call 
was responded to by Sela Paine and William Winans. The 
travel was by land in winter, and on horseback, the route 
lying through the several Indian tribes of Tennessee and 

In 1813 William Winans was sent to New Orleans. The 
aggressive spirit of his denomination aspired to occupy 
that post; and though young, he was chosen the leader. 
[The missionary appropriation was $30.] After sundry 
disappointments in regard to a public place for preaching, 
he hired a room and used it as a schoolroom and as a 
place of worship. The tender of his services as a school- 
teacher was to the effect that he could teach reading, writ- 
ing, and arithmetic. Alluding to the difficulty of his pro- 
curing a place for preaching, one individual exultingly 
said: "I am glad of it; for if you give the Methodists a 

42 A Complete History of Methodism 

foothold, they are forever fastened upon you; for they will 
live on parched- corn and sleep on the bare floor, rather 
than give up an appointment." 

In 1815 William Winans married Miss Martha Dubose, 
and located. His health having failed from a bronchial af- 
fection, he engaged in school-teaching, and continued in a 
local relation till 1820, when his health, restored, warranted 
his reentering the itinerancy. From that period 

until the time of his death he remained connected with the 
Mississippi Conference, enduring whatever of hardship was 
incident to his calling and performing an amount of labor 
almost incredible. 

On the cover of a memorandum book for 1825 I find the 
following note in his own handwriting: "I have account 
of having read, since I began to travel, in 1808, up to this 
date (January 24, 1825), 318,095 pages of various sizes, 
from royal quarto to small 24mo, besides occasional read- 
ing, and many books of which I dare not set down the num- 
ber of pages. This, of the books of which I have account, 
makes an average of 50 pages per day; and yet, alas! how 
little do I know! Of the above number of pages, 30,000 have 
been in the Bible and commentaries on that Book; but how 
little the profit have I secured!" He had read the Bible 
through nearly one hundred times; and he had kept a per- 
fect diary from the time of his entrance into the ministry 
up to the June preceding his death, except the five years 
he was local, and an accurate copy [usually made with pen 
and ink] of all notes and letters written since 1819 — an 
amount of systematic study and labor seldom equaled. 

He was a man of firm physical constitution, of indus- 
trious habits, ardent temperament, and of remarkable pow- 
er of concentrativeness. He saw things clearly and under- 
stood them well. Impelled by such a motive as ought to 
influence a minister of the gospel, the possession of those 
qualities could not but render him distinguished. 

To many he seemed rough and severe, and some have been 
wont to produce a picture of him with the lines prominently 
drawn; but those who knew him well saw that those were 

In the Mississippi Conference. 43 

exhibited only as evidences of his unmitigated aversion to 
moral obliquity. Few men were more solicitous to enjoy 
the approval of his friends, and yet no man was ever more 
steadfast in his principles or more uncompromising in his 
adherence to what he believed to be right. His own obli- 
gations were met as far as he could meet them. Punctual- 
ity was his rule in all matters, whether the business related 
to his pecuniary affairs or to the interest of the Church. 
His own unavoidable failures made him considerate of oth- 
ers who tried and failed; but to fail from carelessness or 
indifference was, in his esteem, a crime, and the severity of 
his justice rebuked it as such. To a respectful opponent he 
was courteous, and yet he abated naught of dignity to win 
the praise of men. His age, his long-tried integrity, his 
unremitting sacrifice of health and comfort for the honor 
of Methodism and the glory of God entitled him to the 
confidence and veneration of the Church and the country. 
And he was ambitious to merit and enjoy them, grateful 
for their bestowal, but too noble in his nature to ask for 
them or to murmur if they were withheld. For more than 
thirty years he stood confessedly th9 leading spirit of the 
Mississippi Conference, and yet he bore himself with the 
meekness of a minister of Jesus — "pliant as willow, stately 
as a deer with antlers." From 1824 to the time of his death 
he had been a delegate to the General Conference, in some 
instances receiving the entire vote of the Annual Confer- 
ence. Still he belonged to no party, nor stooped to the use 
of any art to procure his own election. He would have 
scorned the trammels of a faction; and, reposing upon the 
proud consciousness of his own integrity, he would have 
borne defeat rather than acquire promotion by manage- 
ment. Indeed, his whole life rebuked the restless spirit 
of vain ambition. He sought no place, he claimed no pre- 
rogative, he stooped to no cunning, he shrank from no duty. 
More than once the whole Church would have applauded 
the decision had the earnest desire of his friends been in- 
dulged by conferring upon him the dignity and functions 
of the episcopacy. More than ever the marked individual!- 

44 A Complete History of Methodism 

ty of the man came between him and this distinction; but 
not once did it occur to any man that William Winans 
lacked aught of purity, intelligence, or piety to qualify him 
for the high office. 

Nor was he less a Methodist in discipline. The pe- 
culiarities of her polity, her itinerancy, her class meetings, 
and her simple forms of worship met the approval of his 
long life. During the famous controversy which 

involved the presiding elder question, and which resulted 
in detaching many distinguished ministers from our 
Church, he stood firmly by the ancient landmarks; and 
although the position he then took brought him into col- 
lision with some of the first men of the Church — men who 
were too true to forsake her communion — he faltered not, 
nor yet boasted when time and experience demonstrated 
the soundness of the policy he had advocated. Nor did he 
prove himself less loyal to the Church or the constitution 
of the country in the great "abolition controversy." 

Again, in 1844, when the relation of Bishop Andrew to 
slavery was made the occasion for unscrupulous abolition 
violence toward the institution, no words of greater weight, 
no appeals of greater force, no warnings of more fearful 
potency, and no entreaties of more earnest spirit were 
made by any of that illustrious body than by Dr. Winans. 
He was a prominent and an efficient member of the Con- 
vention which met in Louisville in 1845 to organize the 
Church, South. 

As a sermonizer Dr. Winans was remarkable for the 
clearness of his comprehension and the accuracy and dis- 
tinctness with which he stated his propositions. To 
him nature and revelation were always harmonious, and he 
shrank from no objection or apparent contradiction, how- 
ever plausibly presented. He was searching for truth; and 
when once the vein was struck, he followed it. His 
occasional sermons, which partiality sent to the press, were 
only fair examples of his pastoral discourses. Generally 
written after their delivery, they were rather the echo than 
the voice itself. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 45 

His volume of published discourses gives us a fair insight 
into the vigorous working of his more deliberate thought. 
A great body of divinity, it is a text-book for the theo- 
logical student for all time to come. Besides these, he 
published several essays and reviews which do credit to 
his reputation. His scholastic training, as we have seen, 
had been neglected in his youth, but diligent study had 
so far repaired the defect that he was justly considered 
learned in English literature; and he spoke and wrote with 
great freedom, correctness, and force. His reading was 
extensive and varied. His vast store of historic informa- 
tion and the diligence with which he employed himself in 
the study of the science of government rendered him fully 
equal to the statesmen of his times. He was fond of poli- 
tics, discussed measures of government freely, and was once 
prevailed upon to become a candidate for Congress. 

The honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred 
upon him by Randolph-Macon College. 

The piety of Dr. Winans was rather the deep-sea current 
than the rippling stream. Though ardent in his tempera- 
ment, he was always self-possessed; and he seemed rather 
to walk with God and commune with him as a friend than 
to be carried only with occasional visions of his face. 
Unswerving in his religious integrity, half a century of 
deep and earnest piety had sanctified the whole man to fer- 
vent devotion to the service of God. 

The closing scenes of his life were full of interest. He 
thought his work* not yet done; and when the unutterable 
agony of months had changed his face and made it appar- 
ent to others that the end was nigh, he despaired not. He 
lay there calmly and bore his sufferings without a murmur. 
Bereft of the emotional rapture of religion, he saw the 
invisible, and his faith stood leaning on the word of prom- 
ise. No shadow fell upon his path, though thorns and 
briers grew up in it; no doubt disturbed his mind, though 
a sword was in his bones. He had trusted God, and no 
confusion came. Often, as he had looked beyond the pe- 

46 A Complete History of Methodism. 

riod of his evil day and saw the nearing rest, would he ex- 
claim, "Ah! that is the best of all!" He trusted for mercy 
alone in the great atonement, and no occasion was al- 
lowed to escape without his testifying that all his hopes 
centered there. Beneath the strokes which were heating 
down the body, the mind was sometimes seen to stagger, 
but it never fell; and his last conscious moments gave 
evidence that, while his mental vision was undimmed, his 
faith took hold upon the arm of God. As the sun went 
down on the third day of September, 1857, "he ceased at 
once to work and live." (Twenty-Fourth Sermon, p. 248, 
"Life and Labors of William H. Watkins.") 

Quite a number of names have only been men- 
tioned as connected with the Conference, received 
on trial, remaining on trial, elected deacons or 
elected and ordained elders, or located or otherwise 
disposed of. Their lives were no doubt replete with 
interesting incidents, if not with events of a thrilling 
nature; but of them it can only be recorded, "All 
these, having served their day and generation, fell 
on sleep." 

The earliest copy of the Mississippi Annual Con- 
ference Minutes in my possession is dated 1839. The 
General Minutes had all the Conferences grouped 
in the answers to each minute question till the "Min- 
utes of Conferences for 1824," and then the proceed- 
ings of the Mississippi Conference, statistics and 
appointments included, are allowed not quite one 
and a half pages printed. The names of presiding 
bishops are nowhere given. 



The Conference convened in Tuscaloosa, Ala., De- 
cember 23, 1824. Bishop Roberts took the chair 
and opened the Conference with the usual religious 
services, assisted by Bishop Soule. William Winans 
was again elected Secretary. After appointing the 
usual committees, the Conference proceeded with the 
regular minute business, and John G. Jones, Wil- 
liam Spruill, John O. T. Hawkins, Samuel Davis, 
and John P Haney were admitted on trial ; Thomas 
E. Ledbetter, Robert L. Walker, Llewellen Leggett, 
Thomas C. Brown, John Cotton, Thomas Burpo, 
John Collier, Thomas S. Abernathy, and James Nich- 
olson were continued on trial ; Jonas Westerland, 
William M. Curtis, Edward Harper, John G. Lee, 
Elijah B. McKay, and Marcus C. Henderson were 
received into full connection and all ordained 
deacons except Edward Harper, who had been previ- 
ously ordained as a local preacher, and John G. 
Lee, who was absent or else voluntarily declined 
ordination. By the request of Bishop Roberts, Ben- 
jamin M. Drake and Henry P Cook were elected 
to elder's orders with a view to missionary work 
the coming year; Samuel Patton was also elected 
and ordained elder; Richard Pipkin was discon- 
tinued on account of ill health; Joseph Calloway, 
Daniel Leggett, and David H. Williams were also 


4:8 A Complete History of Methodism 

discontinued; Robert L. Kennon, M.D., formerly of 
the South Carolina Conference, was readmitted in 
elder's orders; Meredith Renneau, Samuel Pat- 
ton, and William Alexander were located at their 
own request. Nicholas Mclntyre, while faithfully 
prosecuting his work as presiding elder on the Ala- 
bama District, had fallen at his post with sword in 
hand. The • following local preachers were elected 
to deacon's orders : Elijah Myers, Stephen Box, Fred- 
erick Weaver, and Elisha Turner. Eugene V. Levert 
was also elected to deacon's orders upon the ground 
that he had been a preacher four full calendar 
years, though a part of that time he had not been in 
the itinerancy. James Tarrant was elected to elder's 
orders; Alexander Sale and Benjamin F. Liddon 
were transferred to the Tennessee Conference; and 
though we find no record of the fact, Daniel De 
Vinne, who had been elected one of our delegates to 
the late General Conference, after attending the 
Conference, declined returning to the Mississippi 
and obtained a transfer to the New York Conference. 
We received by transfer from the Tennessee Confer- 
ence Hugh A. McPhail in elder's orders. He was a 
valuable accession. 

There was some difficulty in passing the characters 
of one or two young men on account of alleged im- 
prudences ; with that exception, upon strict examina- 
tion, the preachers were found to be "blameless in 
their life and official administration." Benjamin 
M. Drake brought up the subject of parsonages 
again ; but after some discussion, the matter passed 
without much being determined except a faintly ex- 
pressed resolution to try. The truth was, the great 

In the Mississippi Conference. 49 

majority of our pastoral charges were only in a 
formative state, and the preachers saw that the time 
had not come to locate parsonages. 

The plan for collecting missionary money was re- 
adjusted, and the preachers pledged a cordial sup- 
port to our Church missionary enterprises. The 
Conference received notification from the Tennessee 
Conference that that body had abandoned the project 
of establishing our joint seminary of learning at 
Courtland, Ala., doubtless in view of seeking a more 
eligible location. 

William Winans was "continued as the agent of 
the New Orleans Meetinghouse business." The strug- 
gle to establish Methodism in that demoralized and 
wicked city had been long and discouraging; but 
there was a growing determination never to abandon 
the enterprise, and from that date our prospects 
have grown brighter until the present day 

After an unusually long session, Conference ad- 
journed on Thursday evening, the 30th, appointing 
its next session to meet at Washington, Miss., De- 
cember 8, 1825. 

Few appointments were made requiring any spe- 
cial notice. Ashley Hewitt succeeded Ebenezer Hearn 
on the Louisiana* District, and Mr. Hearn was ap- 
pointed in charge of the Alabama District. Robert 
L. Kennon took the place vacated by the transfer of 
Alexander Sale on the Cahawba District. The town 
of Tuscaloosa was made a station with William M. 
Curtis in charge. Bayou Pierre Circuit was divided ; 
and the northern part, including Warren and the 
northern part of Claiborne and some new settlements 
in Hinds County, was called Big Black. Henry P.. 

50 ,i Complete History of Methodism 

Cook was returned as the missionary to Mobile and 
Pensacola, Benjamin M. Drake was appointed to 
the New Orleans Mission, Wiley Ledbetter was con- 
tinued on the Choctaw Mission, and John C. Burruss 
was reappointed President of the Elizabeth Female 

The late General Conference established as the 
boundary line between the Tennessee and the Ala- 
bama part of the Mississippi Conference the chain 
of mountains which separate the waters running 
into the Mobile Bay from those emptying into the 
Tennessee River. This took from our Conference 
two of our best circuits, Lawrence and Franklin, with 
an aggregate membership of 864. We gave up our 
portion of the beautiful and fertile valley of the Ten- 
nessee River, with our large membership there, with 
some reluctance; but the government had lately pur- 
chased a large scope of country in Central Missis- 
sippi from the Choctaw Indians, which was being 
settled rapidly ; so we still had more territory than 
ministers to occupy. 

The reports from the work were truly encouraging, 
considering how much only partially settled country 
we were occupying. Our next increase was eight 
hundred and eleven white and two hundred and four 
colored members, giving us an aggregate of eight 
thousand and twenty-four white and two thousand 
colored members, with forty-one traveling preachers. 
Rev. Nicholas Mclntyre, whose death has been 
noted, was of Scotch parentage, and was born on the 
Atlantic Ocean during their voyage to America in 
October, 1790. They landed at Wilmington, N. C 
and settled in Cumberland County, near Fayette- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 51 

ville, in 1795. They removed to South Carolina and 
settled in Chesterfield District. His parents were 
members of the Presbyterian Church, and in ac- 
cordance with a very praiseworthy characteristic of 
that Church persisted in "bringing up their children 
in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Their 
teaching and example had a restraining influence on 
their children, though their public religious privi- 
leges were very limited. In 1808 the father died. 
The morning previous to his death he called his chil- 
dren to his bedside, and in a very affecting manner 
gave them his dying charge and prayerfully com- 
mended them to God. Nicholas manifested consid- 
erable reluctance to come into his father's presence 
at this solemn time ; but being called by name, he ap- 
proached. Taking him by the hand, his dying father 
told him of his faults and exhorted him to forsake 
his wicked associates and serve the Lord and to at- 
tend diligently to his business and help his mother 
provide for the family. Soon after the old servant 
of God died. 

The exhortation and happy death of his father had 
a very salutary effect upon Nicholas. There was 
from this time an evident effort to reform his con- 
duct and a gra'dual avoidance of all wicked com- 
panions. In 1810 he was induced to attend a camp 
meeting in Rockingham County, N. C. His perplexed 
and penitent heart soon found itself in full sympathy 
with the preaching of the Methodists, the result of 
which was that he obtained an assurance that his 
sins were all forgiven, and at once joined the Church, 
and returned home from camp meeting a happy 
Christian, For the next two years he remained with 

52 A Complete History of Methodism 

his mother, diligently assisting her in providing for 
her family and faithfully attending to his Christian 
duties. In the meantime he became more and more 
interested for the salvation of sinners, which re- 
sulted in a settled conviction that he was called of 
God to preach the gospel. On this point he had a 
sore conflict with the enemy of souls. He was often 
"in great fear where no fear was." His mother could 
not well spare him, and might even oppose his 
preaching. He had not the requisite qualifications 
for a minister. 

Still the duty of preaching filled all his thoughts, 
and he began to lose all interest in every other con- 
templated enterprise. Sorely oppressed in mind,, he 
determined to unbosom himself to Rev. Wiley War 
nick, his pastor. Mr. Warnick encouraged him to 
commence the work without further hesitation. His 
mother found out the exercises of his mind, and so 
far from opposing him gave him up freely. He was 
licensed to preach, and at the session of the South 
Carolina Conference held in Charleston January 12, 
1814, was admitted on trial and appointed to Ap- 
palachee Circuit as the junior of Epps Tucker. After 
getting fully committed to his work, which lay in 
Georgia, he wrote to one of his brothers in the fol- 
lowing language: "I thought I enjoyed religion 
when I was at home, but it was only a taste of what 
I now feel from day to day of the presence of God. 
When I came here, I was a stranger to all and all 
were strangers to me; but they were not strangers 
to Goo!. I found fathers and mothers in Israel 
whose doors were opened to receive me and whose 
hands were ready to supply my wants." 

In the Mississippi Conference. 53 

He traveled six different circuits in the South 
Carolina Conference acceptably and usefully, though 
two years of the time his movements were inter- 
rupted by ill health. In 1820, with Thomas Clinton, 
he was sent as a missionary to the Mississippi Con- 
ference, where he endured all the exposures and pri- 
vations of a newly and sparsely settled country, and 
did a vast amount of traveling and preaching — two 
years on large circuits and the last three on the 
Alabama District. He was everywhere fully reliable, 
acceptable, and useful. On Thursday, July 28, 1824, 
he was brought to a camp meeting on the Alabama 
Circuit in a carriage, being too unwell to ride on 
Horseback. He was most of the time confined to 
his bed; but on one occasion he ventured to the 
stand, where he was able to stand only long enough 
to say : "Perhaps the greatest sermon I could preach 
would be to say to the Christians present, 'Love one 
another.' " He then sat down a few moments, but 
was soon compelled to retire to his tent and bed 
again. A physician was called in, and pronounced 
his case dangerous. When the camp meeting closed, 
he was taken about a quarter of a mile to the home 
of a Brother Stone, where he received the most af- 
fectionate attention both from the family and phy- 
sician, and for a few days hopes were indulged of 
his recovery; but they were soon found to be de- 
lusive. , His fever took on the typhoid form and be- 
came uncontrollable. Much of the time he was de- 
lirious, but in his lucid moments he expressed his 
unshaken confidence in being prepared for heaven; 
and while he expressed a desire to live that he might 
prosecute the great work in which he was engaged; 

54 A Complete History of Methodism 

he felt perfectly resigned to the will of God. In his 
seasons of delirium he imagined that he was engaged 
in the public administration of the word and ordi- 
nances of God. Now he would repeat the ceremony 
of giving the elements in the Lord's Supper, and 
then he would go through the form of dismissing a 
congregation with the apostolic benediction. On 
Sunday, the 15th of August, 1824, he ended his earth- 
ly pilgrimage. His brethren loved him dearly and 
mourned over his early death; but they had the 
sweet assurance that their loss was his gain. His 
talents were not brilliant and showy, but he was a 
very clear and forcible expositor of the great car- 
dinal doctrines of the Bible as understood by our 
Church. He was an excellent disciplinarian, and 
urged upon those under his pastoral care the great 
importance of conforming literally to the General 
Rules of the Church. We hope the Alabama Meth- 
odists will keep the place of his interment distinctly 
marked, that passers-by in coming generations may 
know where to find the grave of the noble young min- 
ister who left the home of his youth to assist in 
preaching the gospel to our scattered and destitute 

Our transfer from the Tennessee Conference in 
the person of Hugh A. McPhail was highly prized. 
He was admitted into the South Carolina Confer- 
ence in 1812, and after traveling there four years 
he appears on the roll of the Tennessee Conference 
where he traveled two years and located. Late in 
the fall of 1824 he was readmitted into the Tennessee 
Conference, and immediately transfered to the Mis- 
sissippi Conference, where he traveled four years in 

In the Mississippi Conference. 55 

the Alabama part of the Conference. He was super- 
annuated one year, and then located at his own re- 
quest on account of bodily weakness. He was a man 
of ardent temperament, full of faith and zeal, of 
good, solid, useful talents, and was instrumental in 
adding many souls to the fold of Christ wherever 
he labored. He was a member of the Masonic broth- 
erhood, and during the great anti-Masonic excite- 
ment in Alabama from 1826 to 1830 he met with 
some sore trials. This no doubt, to some extent, 
grew out of his naturally impulsive temperament 
and his disposition to present a bold front to the 
opposers of the craft. In some places they not only 
threatened to close the doors of their churches 
against him, but it was actually done in one or two 
instances. Several others of our leading ministers 
in Alabama were also advanced Masons; but they 
were prudent and nonresistant, and withal so at- 
tentive to their ministerial obligations that they met 
with little opposition. Hugh A. McPhail has long 
since gone to his reward above. 

The readmission of Dr. Robert L. Kennon was a 
great acquisition to our Conference. He was a na- 
tive of Granville County, N. C, and was born in 
1789. He was one of three brothers who entered the 
South Carolina Conference, each of whom was a 
preacher above mediocrity. Robert was converted 
when about eleven years old, and immediately be- 
came active in the revival movements of the Church. 
At that early age he was found in the altar en 
couraging and praying with the seekers of religion. 
His parents were members of the Church and re- 
markable for their consistent and deep piety. His 

56 A Complete History of Methodism 

mother died when he was young; but as far as pos- 
sible her place was supplied by an elder sister, who 
watched over him with prayerful solicitude. 

When only twelve years old, in the absence of his 
father, he led the devotions of the family in evening 
and morning prayers. His father determined to 
have him well educated, and placed him in some of 
the higher schools within his reach. While pursuing 
his academic course he lost in a measure his spirit- 
uality and active zeal in the service of God; but he 
soon became alarmed at his evident declension, and 
returned to God with penitence and prayer. 

In the meantime the family moved to Georgia. In 
1809 he was admitted into the South Carolina Con- 
ference, which then included the State of Georgia. 
He traveled four years in that Conference with 
marked acceptability and very encouraging results, 
when there was such a failure in his lungs as com- 
pelled him to desist. He then turned his attention 
to the study of medicine ; and after graduating as a 
physician, he first settled in the practice of medicine 
in Columbia County, Ga., where he was very popu- 
lar both as a physician and local preacher. In the 
meantime he had married Miss Martha Bush, of 
Warren County, Ga.; and in 1819 he removed to 
Alabama and settled in the young but rapidly grow- 
ing town of Tuscaloosa, where he soon became very 
popular as a Christian, preacher, physician, and 
citizen. His health had improved very much. 

He had given up a very lucrative practice from a 
conviction of duty to devote his time, talents, and 
labors to the salvation of souls. He was about five 
feet eight or nine inches in height, slender, erect 

In the Mississippi Conference. 57 

sinewy, and active. His hair was light, his com- 
plexion fair, and his eyes blue, which gave him a 
youthful appearance quite beyond the middle of life. 
He had a well-chiseled Grecian face, his forehead 
and nose being almost in a straight line. His coun- 
tenance indicated high intellectual culture, social re- 
finement, and the outbeaming benevolence of a pure 
Christianity. He was about the most perfect em- 
bodiment of a cheerful brotherly kindness we ever 
met. There seemed to be nothing wanting in true, 
manly, and ministerial dignity about him. Without 
seeking it, his natural position in domestic and so- 
cial life, in the pulpit, and in the Conference was 
cfeiervedly the most commanding. He was indeed a 
great man and a prince in Israel. And yet, with all 
these qualities, he was what we usually call an old- 
fashioned Methodist preacher, full of faith and the 
Holy Ghost. His eloquent and powerful sermons at 
times produced a wonderful effect. Christians 
shouted, penitents wept and prayed for mercy, newly 
awakened sinners trembled, and those determined 
not to yield hastened from the excitement. 

The writer appears in the Journal as first on the 
list of those admitted on trial at this Conference; 
but if a biographical sketch of him is ever written, 
it will be written by another hand. As his class- 
mates, for whom he cultivated true Christian and 
ministerial brotherhood, are all dead, he proposes to 
write a short tribute to the memory of each of them. 
When we had graduated to deacon's orders, includ- 
ing some transfers of the same grade from the Ten- 
nessee Conference, there were eight in the class, in- 
cluding Samuel Davis, and nearly all of them died 

58 A Complete History of Methodism 

comparatively early in life. They have gone before 
to the place the Saviour had prepared for them, and 
we are still following on. We expect to overtake 
them before long. 

The writer first became acquainted with William 
Spruill at a camp meeting held late in the fall of 
1822 on the land of Archibald Lewis, near Washing- 
ton, Miss. He had a fair English education; and 
being a close student, he rose rapidly in the ministry. 
From the first he took a high stand in personal piety, 
and soon displayed a mind of the first order. His 
third and fourth years he was stationed in the city 
of Tuscaloosa. The latter part of his fourth year 
his health so completely failed that he was placed on 
the superannuate roll. At the end of one year he 
requested to be located, as his health had not been 
restored and he was unwilling after so short a career 
in the itinerancy to be continued on the superan- 
nuated list. We gave him up with great reluctance, 
for he was one of the most promising young men of 
the Conference. In hope that a change of location 
might improve his health, he went to Kentucky, 
where in a short time he finished life's weary jour- 
ney in peace and holy hope. 

Of the early history of John A. J. Hawkins, we 
remember nothing except that he was brought up 
by a good Methodist mother. He came recommended 
from the Alabama District, and was favorably rep- 
resented as a promising young man. He soon took 
a high stand as a man of great warmth and com- 
manding talents in the pulpit. He was tall, muscu- 
lar, well proportioned, and a noble-looking man. In 
his temperament he was sanguine and impulsive. He 

In the Mississippi Conference. 5^ 

was a close student ; and having a clear and compre- 
hensive mind, assisted by a very tenacious memory, 
he made rapid progress in his theological studies, 
so that we soon acknowledged him to be at the head 
of our class of eight. In point of pulpit eloquence 
he was quite above mediocrity. He had a good 
voice, and his enunciation was very distinct, though 
rapid and impassioned. His style was unusually ele- 
vated for a young minister, and this, assisted by a 
remarkably reliable memory, enabled him, when his 
fancy led him that way, to make long verbal quota- 
tions from such works as Pollok's "Course of 
Time," Irving's "Orations," etc., without any, except 
those very familiar with the authors quoted, know- 
ing where the quotation began or ended. At the 
end of his second year Dr. Talley, the presiding elder 
on the Louisiana District, was very anxious to get 
a suitable young man for the Attakapas country. 
After becoming acquainted with the history and 
talents of Mr. Hawkins, he said to the bishop and 
his council: "Let me have him for the Attakapas 
Circuit. His commanding talents will attract the 
attention of those fastidious people, and his faith- 
ful and direct appeals to the wicked, accompanied 
with such a spice* of fire and brimstone, I trust will 
awaken them from their long and deathlike sleep in 
sin." While on that heavy work in that humid at- 
mosphere his health so declined that he was placed 
on the supernumerary list and stationed in Port 
Gibson the ensuing year. Here he succeeded in car- 
rying out a plan previously projected of building the 
first brick church in Port Gibson — in truth, the 
first church of any kind ever erected in that town, 

00 A Complete History of Methodism 

the courthouse having been used up to this date as a 
preaching place by all denominations. As our 
Church at this time was small in Port Gibson and 
most of the members in very moderate circum- 
stances, this church was mainly paid for by the mem- 
bers and patrons of the Church in the surrounding 

In the fall of this year (1828) Mr. Hawkins mar- 
ried Miss Rhoda Robinson, an amiable and pious 
lady, who shared his fortunes until his tragic death 
in Kentucky in 1841, after which she returned to 
Port Gibson, renewed her connection with the 
Church here, and still lives among us in lonely 
widowhood, a pattern of industry and piety, and 
much beloved and respected by the few friends of 
her youth who yet survive. 

Times were now prosperous in Mississippi, and 
fortunes were easily and rapidly acquired. While 
men of far less talents were growing rich around 
him, Mr. Hawkins allowed himself to feel unwilling 
to remain poor and dependent solely on a small and 
uncertain salary for the support of himself and 
family. In view of this, he purchased a drug store 
in Port Gibson, and asked for a location at the en- 
suing Conference. He remained in Port Gibson in 
1829, and as a local preacher continued to preach 
in the surrounding country with his usual accepta- 
bility. His anticipations, however, were not real- 
ized in his secular business, and he removed to 
Vicksburg, where he continued the drug business a 
short time and also purchased a cotton plantation 
on credit. 

In the meantime Vicksburg had been added to the 

In the Mississippi Conference. 61 

list of our city stations, and in 1831 Mr. Hawkius 
was employed by Rev. Thomas Griffin, the presiding 
elder of the district, as its first supply. He was 
very acceptable both as a preacher and pastor, and 
was conscientious in the discharge of his ministerial 
duties. Toward the close of the year he saw that his 
secular business was getting into a very unsatis- 
factory condition. His anticipations had not been 
realized, his creditors began to urge their claims, 
and those who had indorsed for him began to feel 
uneasy. Three years' experience in secular life satis- 
fied Mr. Hawkins that he was not in his proper ele- 
ment, and he determined to resume his place in the 
itinerancy. He accordingly put all his assets in 
liquidation to save if possible his creditors and se- 
curities from suffering any loss on his account. 
While the process of liquidation was going on he 
was readmitted into the Conference, and was re- 
turned to Vicksburg in 1832 and stationed in 
Natchez in 1833. 

By the end of this year he realized t!:e fact that he 
was deeply involved in debt; his health was feeble, 
and he became the prey of discouragement and de- 
jection. He again located and determined to go to 
Kentucky and study medicine. As soon as his pul- 
pit abilities became known among the Kentucky 
Methodists they were in great demand, and he was 
considered second only to such ministers as H. B. 
Bascom, H. H. Kavanaugh, and George C. Light. 
After completing his preparatory studies as a phy- 
sician, he settled in Mercer County, Ky. (we believe 
in the town of Harrodsburg) , where he formed a 
partnership with Pr. Robert Nelson, and was grow- 

62 A Complete History of Methodism 

ing in popularity as a physician at the time of his 
tragic death. 

Mr. Hawkins was a man of ardent temperament, 
and no doubt sometimes provoked opposition from 
those who differed from him in opinion, where a 
more reticent course would have been the better 
policy. He also suffered himself to be made promi- 
nent as a politician, and his popularity, either as a 
physician or a politician or both combined, excited 
the envy and hatred of some cowardly assassin, who 
waylaid and shot him dead on the road. 

Some unknown admirer of Mr. Hawkins published 
a just tribute to his memory in one of the secular 
papers, from which we make a short extract, setting 
forth the immediate circumstances of his death : 

Departed this life on Monday, 27th of April, 1841, in Mer- 
cer County, Ky., in the fortieth year of his age, Rev. John 
O. T. Hawkins, M.D. The circumstances which led 

to the death of this amiable man and talented physician 
are truly appalling. He left home on Sunday in the dis- 
charge of his professional vocation to attend upon the 
calls of suffering humanity. After having discharged his 
duties, he was returning to the bosom of his family, on 
Monday, when he was suddenly cut down by the unseen 
hand of the lurking foe, unconscious of the danger that 
awaited him. Thus in the prime of life, in the vigor of 
manhood and buoyancy of hope, is destroyed one who was 
an ornament to his profession, and who might, had he 
lived, been of incalculable benefit to the community. 

So far as we know, the assassin was never legally 
detected and brought to justice. Had Mr. v Hawkins 
devoted his commanding talents and untiring in- 
dustry exclusively to his holy calling as an itinerant 
minister, he could hardly have fared worse or died 

In the Mississippi Conference. 63 

poorer, and his valuable and useful life might have 
been greatly protracted. He was to us a brother 
beloved, and we will cherish his memory. 

Little is known of the early life of John P. Haney 
except that he was a native of Tennessee, embraced 
religion in 1821, and had few educational advan- 
tages. The family had moved to Alabama. He was 
recommended from the Alabama District to the An- 
nual Conference. The first year we traveled adjoin- 
ing circuits, he being the junior preacher on Pearl 
River and the writer on Amite Circuit. His broad, 
open, benevolent, and earnest countenance, in con- 
nection with his easy-flowing and manly voice, made 
him attractive in the pulpit. But his great excel- 
lence was in the holy unction that everywhere at- 
tended his ministry. He was most successful in 
winning souls to Christ. By the close of 1826 a suf- 
ficient population had accumulated in St. Tammany 
Parish, La., to justify an effort to form a circuit in 
that region, embracing the settlements west of Pearl 
River and along the coast of Lake Pontchartrain. 

Bishops Roberts and Soule were both present at 
the Conference held in Tuscaloosa December 14-21, 
1826. Bishop Soule was the embodiment of episco- 
pal dignity, and seldom, if ever; indulged in anything 
like humor in connection with the business of an 
Annual Conference. Bishop Roberts was smartly 
spiced with innocent and useful wit and humor, and 
often in this way poured oil on the troubled waters 
of an earnest debate or relieved the embarrassed 
feelings of some timid member. At the close of this 
Conference Bishop Soule was reading out the ap- 
pointments with his usual deliberation and em- 

64 A Complete History of Methodism 


phasis, with Bishop Roberts sitting complacently at 
his side. The large class of single young men then 
in the Conference were listening with much anxiety 
to hear their destiny for the next twelve months 
(it might be anywhere between the Chattahoochee 
on the east and the Sabine on the west) , when Bishop 
Soule in measured tones read out: "St. Tammany, 
John P Haney." Quick as thought Bishop Roberts 
looked complacently at the appointee and remarked : 
"Why, Brother Haney, they have sent you to the 
jumping-off place!" A smile pervaded the Confer- 
ence, the stricture was taken off our palpitating 
hearts, and we were permitted to take a new start 
in listening to the further revelations of what some 
of the young preachers called the "book of fate." 

John P. Haney as a dutiful son in the gospel went 
to the "jumping-off place," and as the result of his 
organizations and net gains he reported to the next 
Conference one hundred and twenty-eight white and 
thirty-four colored members. While on this circuit, 
in the fall of 1827, Mr. Haney married Miss Nancy 
Warner, one of the lovely and pious twin daughters 
of Hon. Thomas C. Warner, of Washington Parish, 
La., heretofore mentioned in this history. Mr. Haney 
continued to labor with almost universal accepta 
bility and marked success on those large piny 
woods circuits in the lower valley of Pearl River 
until 1831, when he was appointed to Amite Circuit. 
Here in the latter part of September, on his way 
home after a round on his circuit, he was taken with 
a fever, and on the 3d of October, 1831, he peace- 
fully fell asleep in Jesus, strong in faith and full of 
a glorious hope of a happy immortality. His widow 

In the Mississippi Conference. 65 

is yet alive. His daughter is the wife of Rev. Thomas 
Price, who has long been a member of the Mississippi 

• The writer had been employed by William Winans, 
presiding elder of the Mississippi District, in the 
fall of 1824 to supply a vacancy on Amite Circuit, 
and, fortunately for him, was continued there in 
1825 as the junior of that good and faithful little 
man, Thomas Clinton. This we have ever remem- 
bered as the happiest year of our itinerant life. We 
were free from all secular business and worldly cares. 
Our faithful colleague attended to all the discipli- 
nary affairs of the circuit, except that he required us 
to "read in every Society the sermon on evil-speak- 
ing," while he did the same with the "thoughts on 
dress," as was then required by the laws of the 
Church. He also apportioned to us a part of the 
circuit, to look after the absentees from class meet- 
ing and public worship, which proved an excellent 
training school to us in pastoral visiting. He "at- 
tended to everything, great and small, in the Metho- 
dist Discipline," and taught us to do the same. 

The original circuits had been divided so that they 
were not so large as formerly. Our circuit was only 
about three hundred miles round, to be compassed 
every twenty-eight days. As we were a tender youth, 
our colleague permitted us to have only twenty-four 
regular appointments in one round, with a few night 
meetings thrown in for good measure, while he some- 
times increased his to thirty-two or three. We had 
entered the work from an imperious sense of duty, 
but with very discouraging prospects of being use- 
ful. We, however, soon felt that God was with us 

6Q A Complete History of Methodism 

in the pulpit, in the class and prayer meetings, and 
in our pastoral visitations; so that before the year 
closed we had become somewhat of a revivalist, and 
witnessed the conversion of many precious souls, 
especially among the young people. The Societies 
on Amite Circuit were largely composed of the most 
substantial material. There were men and women 
who have seldom been surpassed for depth of piety 
and active zeal. 

Want of space will not allow us even to record 
the names of many of those who were the brightest 
ornaments in the Church. In the Mississippi part 
of our circuit we recollect with glowing pleasure the 
names of Felder, Sandell, McMorris, Hezekiah and 
Martha Harrington (the parents of our late beloved 
brother and fellow-laborer, Rev. Whitefleld Harring- 
ton), Epps, Tucker, McKay, Adams, Wright, God- 
bold, and a host of others equally worthy. In the 
Louisiana part of our circuit we had as prominent 
members in St. Helena Parish the names of Rollins, 
Kendrick, Mathews, Venables, and many others ; and 
in Washington Parish we had the Shillings, Meeks, 
Lewis, and others. 

We have mentioned one name — that of William 
Venables — that deserves a prominent place in our 
history. Mr. Venables was born in England, near 
Liverpool, April 25, 1787, of worthy and respectable 
parents. He was converted in his fourteenth year 
among the Wesleyan Methodists and became a mem- 
ber of their Society. When about grown, he became 
acquainted with Lorenzo Dow on one of his preach- 
ing tours in the British Isles, and was so pleased 
with him that about 1807 he returned with him to 

In the Mississippi Conference. 67 

New York, where he remained about two years. 
When Dow went to England, he committed the pub- 
lication and sale of his books to a brother-in-law by 
the name of Miller, who had run largely in debt for 
materials to build a water grist and saw mill on 
Clarke's (now called Baker's) Creek, in Claiborne 
County, Mississippi Territory; and when he re- 
turned, he found his books under execution. He 
borrowed six hundred dollars from his young friend 
Venables to release his books, and took the mill off 
the hands of his brother-in-law to save the borrowed 
money. It resulted in Mr. Venables coming with 
Dow to this country and taking part in the mill in 
order to save himself. After adjusting his claim on 
Mr. Dow, he returned with him through the Indian 
wilderness and all the way to New York on horse- 
back. In a short time he left New York with Lo- 
renzo and Peggy Dow in order to make their future 
homes in Mississippi. They traveled across the 
country to Wheeling, on the Ohio River, where Mr. 
Venables and Mrs. Dow took passage with several 
others on a family boat, while Mr. Dow made a 
preaching tour by land. In about six weeks they all 
arrived at the mill seat. These are the circumstances 
that gave to our Church in this country one of the 
most valuable laymen we ever had. 

On arriving in Mississippi he entered zealously 
into all the movements of the little band of Metho- 
dists on Baker's Creek, and was active in the class 
and prayer meetings and a host in revival seasons. 
While here he married Miss Ann Matthews, the sister 
of Rev. John Matthews. Mr. Venables remained at 
the mill, which at that time was called Dow's Mill, 

68 A Complete History of Methodism 

until 1814, when it passed into the hands of John 
Baker, a sterling Dutchman and a thorough Meth- 
odist, who remained in possession of it until both 
the mill and creek took his name. The mill disap- 
peared near fifty years ago, but the creek still re- 
tains his name. Mr. Yenables, with several others, 
moved from Claiborne County, Miss., to St. Helena 
Parish, La., and settled on Tickpah River, where he 
built a water mill to which he devoted a large part of 
his after life. He was rather tactiturn and spent 
little of his time in what Ave call social visiting or 
conversation. Most of his waking hours through 
life were spent in reading substantial religious books 
or periodicals or at hard work either for his family 
or the Church. In his early manhood he filled the 
offices of class leader and steward with marked 
promptness and acceptability. 

When we knew him, in 1824-25, he was a licensed 
exhorter, and was no sinecure in the office. Like John 
the Baptist, he "preached many things in his exhorta- 
tion to the people." He was soon thereafter licensed 
to preach, and became one of the most laborious and 
faithful local preachers in all that country, The 
fertility of the lands around him was such as to in- 
vite a large colored population, and the last fifteen 
years of his life were voluntarily devoted to the re- 
ligious interests of the negroes. He was verv popu- 
lar and useful among them ; so that at the close of 
the late war he had in his vicinity two hundred 
colored members under his pastoral oversight. 
But a negro seems to be constitutionally incapable 
of what we call gratitude. As soon as they found 
themselves at liberty to do so, they all, with but few 

In the Mississippi Conference. 69 

exceptions, turned their backs upon their faithful 
old pastor and went into some newly introduced col- 
ored organization. This was a grief to the old 
patriarch ; but he had the satisfaction of feeling that 
the fault was not his, and that he was not account- 
able for any evil consequences that might follow 

Mr. Yenables was in great demand to bury the 
dead, preach funerals, marry the young folks, bap- 
tize the babies, etc., and was almost universally con- 
fided in and respected as one of the best of men; 
and yet he was a plain, unostentatious, and meek- 
spirited Christian man. There was nothing ornate 
or elegant either in his language or manner of de- 
livery. In what, then, consisted his superior ability 
for moving the hearts of the people? We answer: 
It was the power of the Holy Ghost that attended 
all his public religious exercises. We think it may 
as truthfully be said of him as it was of the sweet- 
spirited Barnabas that "he was a good man, and full 
of the Holy Ghost and of faith." 

It was in the fall of 1824 that we first met him, at 
Kendrick's Church, where he held his membership. 
We called on him to lead in prayer. It seemed to 
move every heart. We rode home with Father Ken- 
drick, and could' not but recall the powerful prayer 
we had just heard. Said Father Kendrick : "He can 
come nearer praying the shingles off the roof of the 
house than any man I ever heard." His gift in 
prayer was extraordinary. He seemed to live and 
breathe in the spirit of prayer at all times and every- 
where. And is not this one of our Christian privi- 
leges ? 

He had his share of losses and afflictions through 

70 A Complete History of Methodism. 

the journey of life; but his faith rose above them 
all, and he pressed onward to the city above until 
November 12, 1868, when he died in great peace at 
the home of his son-in-law, Mr. Caruth, in St. Helena 
Parish, La., in the eighty-second year of his age, 
having been a member of the Church without a break 
sixty-eight years. He left four children — three sons 
and a daughter — to represent him in the Church 
militant. May they follow their sainted father as 
he followed Christ! It makes one feel more like 
striving to get to heaven to think of a reunion there 
with such pure spirits as that of William Yenables. 
This was a prosperous year, giving us a net in- 
crease of eight hundred and eleven white and two 
hundred and four colored members. 



The Mississippi Conference met in Washington, 
Miss., December 8, 1825, Bishops Roberts and Soule 
present. William Winans was again elected Secre- 
tary. The old Methodist church being too small 
for Conference congregations and the new church 
not jet ready for occupation, we accepted gratefully 
the offer of the commodious Baptist church for our 
public religious services. The Conference room was 
a small office on Main Street, about the center of 
the town. The members of the Conference were 
mainly quartered in town, but the probationers were 
sent into the surrounding country. Every preacher 
from a distance came on horseback, and our horses 
were distributed among the planters in the vicinity 
without charge. The first day or two the probation- 
ers and local preachers were not admitted into the 
Conference room as spectators. When not attend- 
ing church, we stood around outside to see what lit- 
tle we could see and hear what little we could hear 
and guess at the balance. Why our elder brethren 
of those days treated the probationers for member- 
ship in the Conference in this way, we are at a loss 
to decide. It would seem reasonable to us, as those 
on trial expected soon to become members of Confer- 
ence, that their presence as spectators ought to have 
been promptly invited, to afford them opportunities 


72 A Complete History of Methodism 

for learning the routine of business before being re- 
quired to take part in it, and to profit by the inci- 
dental remarks of the bishops and other ministers 
of experience. After the suspense of a day or so, 
the undergraduates were invited to back seats in 
the Conference room as spectators, which we very 
gladly accepted. This was our first sight of an An- 
nual Conference in session. We remember the in- 
cidents of that Conference as though they had tran- 
spired but yesterday. 

After appointing the usual committees, the Con- 
ference took up the regular minute business in a 
very irregular way, transposing the questions from 
time to time to suit the exigencies of the various 
cases. Richard H. Herbert, Joseph McDowell, Or- 
samus L. Nash, Jepthah Hughes, John Mann, Leroy 
Masengale, Benjamin A. Houghton, Eugene V. Le- 
vert, and John Patton were admitted on trial; the 
five admitted at the last Conference were continued, 
except Samuel Davis, who was discontinued on ac- 
count of ill health. William V. Douglass, Isaac V. 
Enochs, and Henry J. Brown were received by trans- 
fer from the Tennessee Conference, and took their 
place in the class of the second year. Thomas E. 
Ledbetter, John Cotton, James Nicholson, Thomas 
S. Abernathy, Robert L. Walker, Thomas C. Brown, 
and John Collier were received into full connection 
and ordained deacons. John G. Lee, who was elio-i- 
ble the year before but for some reason was not or- 
dained, was also ordained with this class. Francis 
R. Cheatham, John R. Lambuth, and Peyton S. 
Greaves were ordained elders. Thomas Griffin, Eli- 
sha Lott, Benjamin Dulaney, John Booth, and Alex- 

In the Mississippi Conference, 73 

ander Talley were readmitted. Ashley Hewitt and 
John E. Byrd were superannuated, Mr. Byrd on 
account of partial blindness; otherwise he was a 
very robust man. Francis R. Cheatham was placed 
in a supernumerary relation, and the beloved Hen- 
ry P Cook had fallen at his post, in Pensacola, 
with yellow fever October 14, 1825. Edmund Pear- 
son, Marcus C. Henderson, William M. Curtis, Wi- 
ley Ledbetter, and Edward Harper located at their 
own request. From the local ranks Samuel Craig, 
Thomas Mellard, John B. Purdue, Stephen MeReyn- 
olds, Thomas Whitson, and John W S. Napier were 
elected deacons, and John McCormack and Samuel 
Oliver elders. In general the Conference proceeded 
very harmoniously. There were a few ripples on its 
smooth surface, and some rather exciting debates. 
Complaints were made against William M. Curtis 
and Miles Harper for maladministration. After ob- 
taining what light was available, Mr. Curtis was 
exonerated; but Mr. Harper was censured, and the 
Conference voted an admonition from Bishop Rob- 
erts, which was tenderly given and meekly received. 
Zechariah Williams was not at Conference, but had 
been duly notified that complaints would be made 
against him for certain improprieties derogatory 
to his ministerial character. Mr. Williams wrote 
a letter to the Conference acknowledging that he 
had thoughtlessly been led into some indiscretions, 
which had given plausibility to the rumors against 
him. The matter was referred to a judicious com- 
mittee of three, who reported that "he was guilty 
of impropriety and imprudence," and a motion was 
made to deprive him of his official standing, upon 

74 A Complete History of Methodism 

which there was a tie; and the President gave the 
casting vote against him. It was both painful and 
discouraging to see a minister deposed who had 
traveled ten consecutive years and done as much 
faithful and acceptable work as Zechariah Williams 
had done. After laboring five years in the South 
Carolina Conference, where he entered the ministry, 
he came as a missionarv to our Conference and 
labored five additional years on some of our largest 
circuits; but all this did not exempt him from the 
weaknesses and improprieties of our common hu- 
manity. It was still his duty as well as his means 
of safety to "give none occasion to the adversary to 
speak reproachfully." This ended Mr. Williams's 
career as an itinerant preacher, but such was his 
future course that he retained the confidence of 
those who knew him best. The Quarterly Confer- 
ence of Conecuh Circuit soon relicensed him to 
preach, and at the next Annual Conference he was 
restored to deacon's orders, and at the next there- 
after to elder's orders. The Alabama Conference 
being set off soon after this, the writer lost sight 
of him. 

Some of the elder members of the Conference, 
including one or two young men, seemed determined 
to take charge of the matrimonial affairs of the 
undergraduates. Two years previously three prom- 
ising young men had been dropped for getting mar- 
ried in their second year; and now Marcus C. Hen- 
derson, who was on the Alabama Circuit and was 
in his third year (having been received into full 
connection and ordained deacon at the previous 
Conference), had married a young lady who was 

In the Mississippi Conference. 75 

not a member of the Church and said to be rather 
gay and fashionable for a minister's wife. Some- 
thing must be done to express the disapproval of 
the Conference to his marrying so earlv in his min- 
isterial career, and especially his having married a 
nonprofessor. The following resolution is record- 
ed in the Journal in the handwriting of the mover : 

Marcus C. Henderson having married an irreligious 
woman, it was, on motion of William Winans, resolved that 
he be deprived of the office of deacon in our Church. 

The next sentence in the Journal records the fact 
that "he asked for and obtained a location." Marcus 
C. Henderson was one of the finest-looking and 
most intellectual young men in the Conference, and 
gave early promise of taking a high stand in the min- 
istry; but what was thought to be his premature 
and imprudent marriage was the occasion of sud- 
denly beclouding his brightening prospects and ter- 
minating his itinerant life. He immediately passed 
out of our sight, and we never again had the pleasure 
of meeting him. We learned, however, that he main- 
tained a good reputation as a local preacher, and 
died in a good old age somewhere in North Missis- 

There was another case which stirred up the anti- 
marrying party to the most determined opposition 
to the early marriage of the young itinerants. Their 
prompt action, two years before, in dropping the 
three promising young men above referred to had 
seemed to put a stop to the marriage of probation- 
ers; now they must put a stop to the marriage of 
the deacons before they graduated to elder's orders. 

76 A Complete History of Methodism 

They had deposed Marcus C. Henderson from dea- 
con "s orders mainly, they said, because he had "mar- 
ried an irreligious woman ;" but how could they get 
hold of Elijah B. McKay, who had been on White- 
sand Circuit in this third year and, near the close 
of the year, had married Miss Pope, an exemplary 
and pious member of the Church and belonging to 
an excellent Methodist family? He had violated no 
law of the Bible or the Discipline; but his case must 
be reached somehow, in order to arrest the growing 
tendency to marriage among the undergraduates of 
the Conference. A resolution was offered to the 
effect "that no man who married under four years 
from the time of his admission on trial should here- 
after be ordained elder until four years after his 
ordination as deacon." Quite a spirited debate was 
springing up when Ashley Hewitt rose up and in- 
quired: "Mr. President, is the Mississippi Confer- 
ence a legislative body, with authority to enact a 
new law?" Bishop Roberts promptly replied: "It 
is not." "Then," continued Mr. Hewitt, "that reso- 
lution cannot be entertained, as it is intended to 
enact a new law." The Bishop so decided. This 
put the anti-marrying members at fault for a few 
moments, when Robert L. Walker introduced the fol- 
lowing resolution, as no man could be ordained elder 
until first elected by a majority of the Conference. 

Resolved, That we will not elect to elder's orders any 
member of our body who shall marry within four years 
of the time of his admission on trial until four years after 
he was ordained deacon. 

This resolution, though intended to have the effect 
of a new law, was considered entertainable, and 

In the Mississippi Conference. 77 

quite an earnest debate ensued. William Winans was 
strongly in favor of it, and said that their right 
to vote at all implied the right to vote for or against 
any man as they saw proper; that these early mar- 
riages were fraught with evil to the itinerancy, and 
through it to the whole Church; that an early mar- 
riage not only circumscribed a young minister in 
his field of operation, taxed his time, and diverted 
his mind from his required course of study, but usu- 
ally led to an early location, as no adequate provi- 
sion had yet been made for the support of preach- 
ers' families; that it was disheartening to see how 
things were going on; that we took up illiterate 
young men out of the ashes and from the very back 
door of obscurity and introduced them into the 
ministry because they professed to be called of God 
to preach the gospel, but before they had given as- 
surance of prospective success they had married 
and, having encumbered themselves with families, 
were compelled to an early location. Thomas 
Owens, who had then traveled as a single man 
about twelve years, was very hostile to early mar- 
riages. He seemed almost indignant at Elijah B. 
McKay for marrying so young and then presuming to 
bring his young wife up to Conference, as though he 
defied all opposition to his course. Mr. Owens con- 
tinued : "Yes, Mr. President, as Brother Winans has 
truthfully said, we take up ignorant and unfledged 
young men out of the ashes and from unpromising 
positions because they tell us that God has convert- 
ed them and called them to preach. We know they 
can't preach yet; but think maybe there is tim- 
ber enough about them, if it can be worked up, to 

78 A Complete History of Methodism 

make a passable preacher. So we take them and 
put them on a circuit. At first they make such a 
bungling out trying to preach that the old sis- 
ters, and especially the old class leaders and local 
preachers, who have heard so much good preaching, 
cannot hold up their heads and look them in the 
face; and just about the time they begin to show the 
first symptoms of preaching ability they get mar- 
ried. And then, as though they had done something 
smart, they come riding up to Conference beside their 
young wives with all the importance of a bishop." 
"Brother Owens," said Bishop Roberts quizzically, 
"please tell the Conference how important a bishop 
is." "Well, as to that, sir," Mr. Owens replied, "I 
do not know that I can decide; but they are very 
important in their place. To say the least of it, I 
think those who marry before they learn how to 
preach might have the prudence and modesty with 
their young wives that a cow has with her young 
calf: hide them out awhile before they bring them 
up to Conference." The feelings of the Conference 
had now relaxed into a very pleasant mood. Mr. 
Owens was a man of fine judgment and withal a 
good reasoner; but he had to speak in his own pe- 
culiar and fascinating style, or not succeed in mak- 
ing a speech. Thomas C. Brown was an educated and 
talented young man and a good debater; and al- 
though just received into full connection, he led in 
debate those who were opposed to the passage of 
the resolution. He took the scriptural ground that 
"where there is no law, there is no transgression," 
and defiantly affirmed that there was no law, either 
expressed or implied, in the Bible or in the Disci- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 79 

pline of the Church forbidding the marriage of dea- 
cons whenever they considered it proper to do so, 
provided they did it "reverently, discreetly, and in 
the fear of God," and that they did not subject 
themselves to any just penalty or disparagement for 
doing what they had a right to do as Christian men 
and ministers. Mr. Brown became earnest in his 
opposition to the resolution, and there seemed to 
be some disposition on the opposite side to break 
the force of his argument, as he was rather abrupt- 
ly interrupted in his speech; but Bishop Roberts 
saw him righted and forbade any further interfer- 
ence. The resolution, however, passed and stands 
on the record, and both parties were anxious to see 
it finally tested; but as Mr. McKay was not eligible 
to elder's orders at this Conference, they had no test 
case. But at the next Conference he was eligible; 
and on his case the strength of parties was fairly 
tested, and he was elected to elder's orders by a 
considerable majority. In one or two cases subse- 
quently a few of the anti-marrying members voted 
against the election of young men who married un- 
der four years, but the opposition soon became ex- 

William Winans, the "agent of the New Orleans 
Meetinghouse business," so often referred to here- 
tofore, made the most encouraging report that we 
had ever received, setting forth the fact that, in 
conjunction with Benjamin M. Drake, the mission- 
ary in the city, and Hon. Edward McGeehe, of Wil- 
kinson County, Miss., who had been appointed by 
the bishops to cooperate with the agent, he had 
bought an open lot in what was then called the Up- 

80 A Complete History of Methodism 

per Fauxburgh, fronting on Gravier Street sixty feet, 
and running back one hundred and twenty feet, 
French measure, which is aboutf seven per cent lon- 
ger than English measure, for which lot they were 
to give two thousand dollars, one half down and 
the other in twelve months from the date of the pur- 
chase. As Judge McGeehe had become responsible 
for the balance on the lot and all the expenditures 
in building, the title to the property was taken in 
his name, with a legal guarantee from him to trans- 
fer the whole to a legal board of trustees when he 
should be reimbursed. Having obtained the land, 
the agents at once proceeded to the erection of a 
building forty-eight feet long by thirty-six wide and 
eighteen feet from the floor to the plates, with gal- 
leries above on the sides and the end opposite the 
pulpit for the occupancy of the colored people. The 
building was a frame, weatherboarded outside and 
lathed and plastered within, with neat and comfort- 
able pulpit and seats. For this building they were 
to pay one thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars 
in three equal installments at certain stages of prog- 
ress in the erection of the building. The agent fur- 
ther reported that the first payment on the lot had 
been made and two installments on the house, leav- 
ing an aggregate balance of fifteen hundred and 
eighty-three dollars and some cents to be provided 
for. To discharge this indebtedness, which had now 
to be done in a short time^the%gents had, in money 
and subscriptions (including til hundred and twen- 
ty-eight dollars subscribed by tie preachers in Con- 
ference), fiftee^Jgite&ed and sixty-two dollars and 
eight cents. ThlpS^eport of the -committee, followed 

In the Mississippi Conference. 81 

by some remarks from B. M. Drake, the missionary, 
was received with joy and hope by the Conference. 
After a struggle of twenty long years since Elisha 
W- Bowman first went as a missionary to the city, 
we had at length got a title to an unpretending 
house of our own to worship in, with a membership 
of twenty-three whites and sixty colored. Most of 
the preachers in the Conference, poor as we were, 
contributed our mite in the erection of that first 
little Methodist church in New Orleans. We have 
been somewhat lengthy in our details that the pres- 
ent generation of New Orleans Methodists may be 
able to contrast their present prosperity with those 
small beginnings. From 1806 our missionaries had 
often suffered defeat, and for years at a time our 
forces had been withdrawn from the almost hope- 
less contest. But now, under God's blessing, New 
Orleans was to be perpetually on the list of pas- 
toral charges and ultimately to become a place of 
Annual and General Conferences. 

William Winans, whose district embraced the 
Choctaw Mission, "made a verbal statement of the 
circupstances of that mission, showing a total de- 
feat in the enterprise." This defeat, however, was 
only temporary. It was left to be supplied the two 
succeeding years ; but no supply was obtained until 
late in 1827, when the mission was revived under the 
superintendence of Rev. Alexander Talley, M.D., 
and ultimately proved a great success. 

Mr. Winans saw that, under the law as it then 
was governing the ratio of delegation in the Gen- 
eral Conference, the body was growing too large, 
unwieldy, and expensive; and he offered a resolu- 

82 A Complete History of Methodism 

tion, which passed unanimously, requesting the Gen- 
eral Conference to change the law so as to lessen the 
ratio of delegates, and then added another resolu- 
tion, which also passed, requesting the bishops to 
submit the foregoing resolution to all the Annual 
Conferences for concurrence, that the law might be 
changed at the next General Conference; all of 
Avhich was carried into effect. 

At the closing session of the Conference the com- 
mittee on memoirs presented a memoir of our loved 
and lamented Henry P. Cook. His first year was on 
the Pensacola and Mobile Mission in 1824. He was 
continued on the same work in 1825, Mobile being- 
considered the most important point in his mission. 
In the early part of the year he prosecuted his work 
with untiring zeal. Sometime in the summer he had 
an attack of bilious fever which quite disabled him 
for a few weeks; and he hoped a little relaxation 
from labor on a visit to his parents, in Butler Coun- 
ty, might be the means of restoring his health. The 
visit began to have the desired effect, but such was 
his anxiety to resume the labors of the mission that 
lie returned too soon. He arrived at Pensacola on 
the first of October, and died from the prevailing yel- 
low fever on the fourteenth. The following letter 
from Mrs. Mary Woodrow. one of the most exem- 
plary Christians in his charge, to his mother is 
worthy of preservation. We copy it from the Metho- 
dist M(i(/a~inc for 1S2C> 

Pkxsacola, October 20, 1825. 
Respected Sister: You will, nc doubt, be much surprised 
at receiving this address from a stranger, though the 
name of Woodrow may have been mentioned to you. I 

In the Mississippi Conference. 83 

regret that it becomes my duty to impart afflictive intelli- 
gence. Your maternal heart has already taken the alarm, 
and beats with anxiety toward the loved son, who some- 
times resided among us. Alas! my sister, I scarcely know 
how to tell the woeful tale; but he is no more among us. 
He arrived here on the 1st instant, and found me deeply 
afflicted by the death of a dearly beloved and almost only 
son. He called as usual, frequently, to see me; and on the 
evening of the 7th he called for the last time. He was then 
much indisposed, and had been riding out to try to recover 
his feelings. From that time the fever made rapid advances. 
On the 14th he expired like a lamb, leaving behind him a 
sweet savor of his Christian virtues. My recent affliction, 
the low state of my health, and the illness of my family at 
that time — all combined to prevent my writing him in the 
early stages of his disease; but on the 13th a friend pro- 
cured a carriage and conveyed me to his house. I found 
him in every respect as comfortably situated as you could 
wish; struggling, indeed, with his last enemy, but stronger 
in faith, hope, and love; perfectly sensible of his approach- 
ing end; perfectly resigned, and only lamenting that he 
could do no more in his blessed Master's service. He spoke 
feelingly of his family, particularly of his dear mother; 
said he had been making an effort to write to you, as he 
wished to write to you himself, but that he was too weak, 
and requested me to write for him; mentioned the anxiety 
you would feel at finding he was not at the camp meeting, 
where you expected to meet him; and prayed devoutly that 
you might be supported under the approaching affliction. 
Brother Hannah, at whose house he stayed, watched by 
him day and night, and will, no doubt, write you more 
particularly. Thus died the most exemplary youthful min- 
ister of the gospel; and truly can I say, one more ab- 
stracted from the world and devoted to God and his cause 
I have never known. Let this be your consolation, my sis- 
ter. His Heavenly Father accepted his labors early, and 
called him to eternal bliss. He has made a great escape 
from a wicked, ensnaring, unfriendly world, to suffer no 

84: A Complete History of Methodism 

more forever. His debt is paid, and he rests in Abraham's 
bosom. Turn your attention from your grievous loss to 
his immoftal gain. Contemplate him in the enjoyment of 
the Redeemer's glory, and think how he would plead with 
you to bow with meek resignation to his Heavenly Father's 
will. The treasures, honors, and all earth has to give, 
could they all be insured to him, would not for one mo- 
ment tempt him to return to earth. O let this be your con- 
solation. A little while, and we shall all meet again, to 
part no more. My own heart, bleeding under a recent 
wound and often called upon to offer up my Isaacs, knows 
how to sympathize with your sorrows. From Heaven 
alone can we derive consolation under such bereavements; 
and, blessed be our God! in him we have a sure refuge and 
strong consolation. That the everlasting arms of his mer- 
cy and love may be extended toward you is the sincere 
prayer of your sister in our blessed Redeemer, 

Mary Woodbow. 

We have copied the above letter not only on ac- 
count of its elevated style, its orthodoxy, and its 
soothing sympathy with a bereaved Christian moth- 
er, but also because we are unwilling that the mea- 
ger memoir in the General Minutes should stand as 
the only monument of such a man as Henry 1 P. 
Cook. He was one of the most holy, most lovely, 
most laborious and promising young ministers of his 
day. A sister in the Church, who was anxious to 
know how a Christian minister would die, visited 
him when he was supposed to be speechless, and 
asked him, if his assurance was still strong, to give 
them a sign. He answered with a nod, and in a few 
moments, by much exertion, exclaimed, "Very, verv 
very !" soon after which he ceased to breathe. 

When his death was announced ? the Conference 

In the Mississippi Conference. 85 

requested Bishop Soule to preach a memorial ser- 
mon, which he did in his most effective and over- 
whelming style. When we say that Bishop Soule 
preached one of his most approved sermons on this 
occasion, the few now living who heard him in the 
prime and strength of middle life will appreciate our 
meaning; those who never heard him cannot well 
conceive of the apostolic dignity, grandeur, elo- 
quence, and power with which he often preached. 
His peroration which concluded this deserved eulo- 
gy of Henry P. Cook cannot be transferred to pa- 
per and could not be surpassed. 

Bishop Roberts also preached one of his best ser- 
mons on Sabbath morning from Revelation i. 5, 6; 
"Unto him that loved us, and washed us from 
our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings 
and priests unto God and his Father; to him be 
glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." The 
whole sermon was a model in arrangement, in style 
and gesture, in easy and rapidly flowing eloquence 
and spiritual power ; but his outcome on the conclud- 
ing sentence, "To him be glory," was inimitable. 
"What?" inquired the Bishop; "must we say 'glory?' 
Yes; when we feel glory, we ought to say 'glory.' 
Saying 'To him be glory' will be a large and per- 
petual part of our heavenly employment 'forever and 
ever.' Let us then learn to give utterance to our 
highest religious joy by saying 'glory' when we feel 
glory." An incident occurred toward the close of 
the Bishop's sermon which may be recorded as an 
admonition against a very foolish and sometimes 
very annoying practice — that of timing a preacher 
by a watch. Little Tommy Owens doubtless thought 

86 A Complete History of Methodism 

on that day that Bishop Roberts was the greatest 
preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church in 
America. Apparently unconscious of what he was 
doing, he drew out his watch ; and turning the dial 
toward the pulpit, with eyes fixed intently on the 
Bishop, he held it for a moment, as though waiting 
for the speaker to leave space enough between two 
sentences for him to glance at the time, when the 
Bishop discovered the suspended watch and the ear- 
nest gaze of Mr. Owens and, supposing it an admoni- 
tion from, his admiring brother that his sermon was 
growing too long, made a remark to that effect 
and hastened to a close. Mr. Owens at once saw his 
thoughtless error, and was deeply mortified. So far 
from intending to stop the Bishop, he could have sat 
entranced until the going down of the sun, listen- 
nig to his beau ideal of the greatest preacher on the 
continent. The Conference elected Tuscaloosa, Ala., 
as the place of its next annual session, and the bish- 
ops gave December 14, 1826, as the time. Rev. John 
C. Burruss was appointed to return the thanks of 
the Conference to the citizens of Washington and 
vicinity for their generous hospitality in entertain- 
ment, and to the Baptist Church for the use of their 
elegant house of worship. 

It was evening twilight when the Conference 
closed its business. Bishop Soule delivered the final 
address to the preachers and offered the concluding 
prayer; then he proceeded to "rea£ the appoint- 
ments." In those days the candidates for admission 
on trial were not required to be present at Confer- 
ence to undergo any preliminary examination, so 
that this writer had never witnessed the announce- 


In the Mississippi Conference. 87 

ment of the appointments. He was intensely ex- 
cited. He thought Bishop Soule was very lengthy, 
both in his address and prayer. He was anxious 
to hear his destiny for the next twelve months. He 
knew it would be somewhere between Georgia and 
Texas and the Indian Nations and the Gulf of Mex- 
ico, but vjliere in this vast domain was yet the un- 
answered question. The young men of the Confer- 
ence, as soon as the}^ acquired a short experience in 
the itinerancy, were all expected to serve a year or 
two west of the Mississippi River ; but such were the 
extraordinary natural and moral difficulties of the 
country that it was thought wholly unsuitable for 
inexperienced young men, and there was a tacit un- 
derstanding in the bishops' council that no young 
man should be continued there after his first Tear 
without his consent. We called Western Louisiana 
the college of our Conference, where our undergradu- 
ates were sent to learn by experience how to "en- 
dure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ." The 
writer had nattered himself that he would not be 
sent to college so early, as he was just entering upon 
his preparatory studies as an itinerant. Indeed, 
Mr. Winans, his late presiding elder, had assured 
him that he would oppose his being sent west of the 
Mississippi, as he considered him too young and in- 
experienced for an outpost so remote and involving 
so many peculiar difficulties. But very unexpected 
changes are sometimes necessarily made in the bish- 
op's council just before the appointments are an- 
nounced. So it was on this occasion. Thomas S. 
Abernathy had been selected for Washita Circuit, 
and the writer put down as junior preacher on one 

88 A Complete History of Methodism 

of the circuits east of the Alabama River. Dr. 
Kennon, the late presiding elder of Mr. Abernathy, 
knowing his private circumstances, doubted whether 
he could leave Alabama at this time for an appoint- 
ment in Western Louisiana, and consulted him on 
the subject. Mr. Abernathy told him promptly that 
he could not go, and that he would be compelled to 
avoid it by a voluntary location if a change could not 
be made. The result was that he was put in charge 
of Chickasawhay Circuit and the writer changed to 

The concluding hymn having been sung and the 
final prayer offered, Bishop Soule stood up and, 
while a deathlike silence pervaded the little Confer- 
ence room, commenced reading out the appointments 
in very distinct and slowlv measured tones, thus : 

Louisiana District. — Alexander Talley, P. E. 

Attakapas, Robert L. Walker. 
Rapides, Jonas Westerland. 
Washita, John G. Jones. 

Bishop Soule proceeded to the end of the list ; but so 
far as the writer was concerned, the curtain now 
fell. His mind became abstracted from all else ex- 
cept Washita Circuit. How was he to get there? 
What sort of a country and people would he find? 
Would he, with his little fund of theological knowl- 
edge and short experience, be able to render accept- 
able and useful service for twelve months in a work 
of so much difficulty ? These and other similar ques- 
tions filled his mind. The Conference adjourned* 
and early next morning the preachers mounted their 
horses and scattered to the four winds, spreading 

In the Mississippi Conference. 89 

themselves thinly over the whole country from the 
Chattahoochee to the Sabine. The two bishops also, 
in itinerant preacher's style, set off on horseback 
through the entire breadth of Mississippi and Ala- 
bama to Milledgeville, Ga., the seat of the South 
Carolina Conference. 

The late Conference was held in Washington, 
Miss., which was the original hive of Methodism in 
all the Southwest, and now merits another passing 
notice. Tt had been the capital of the territorial 
government and the seat of justice of Adams Coun- 
ty. It was in the midst of large bodies of superior 
uplands, which had drawn around it one of the most 
wealthy, intelligent, refined, and piously inclined 
communities anywhere to. be found in the State. 
The growth of Methodism from 1799 had been steady 
and permanent; and at this time the Church had 
a large membership, embracing many of the most 
wealthy and influential families both in town and 
country. Some of these families were the descend- 
ants of the old Protestant families that lived here 
under the Spanish government, and others had 
moved into the country more recently. Among them 
we recollect with great pleasure Hon. Alexander 
Covington, Beverly R. Grayson, William L. Chew, 
John W. Bryan, William Bantz, Archibald Lewis, 
and their elegant and devotedly pious families ; also, 
at a period a little later, John Nugent, William 
Diamond, Thomas Farrar, Mr. Haslip, Peter Rabb, 
and others. Among the elect ladies of the Church, 
in addition to the wives and daughters of those al- 
ready named, we record the names of Mrs. Lavinia 
Ford, who was the sister of Hon. Seth Lewis, of Ope- 

90 A Complete History of Methodism 

lousas, heretofore mentioned; Mrs. Catherine Fore- 
man, afterwards Mrs. Farrar; Mrs. Calvit and her 
daughter, Mrs. Wilkinson, afterwards Mrs. Hen- 
ry; Mrs. Brabston; two Mrs. Winstons; and many 
others too numerous to mention. Archibald Lewis 
was the nephew of Hon. Seth Lewis, of Opelousas, 
and descended from one of the oldest Protestant 
families in Mississippi. His grandson, Tom L. Mel- 
len, attorney at law in Natchez, has his great-grand- 
father's Bible, in which we find the following inter- 
esting record : "Natchez, Wednesday, 26th of August, 
1776, Rev. Samuel Swayze baptized Mary Lewis, 
wife of Daniel Lewis, and Archibald and Moses, 
their two children." Mr. Daniel Lewis came from 
Massachusetts about 1774; and after remaining a 
year or two somewhere low down on Big Black Riv- 
er, removed to St. Catharine, near Natchez, where 
the baptism of his family took place. It should be 
borne in mind that the "Natchez country" was at 
this time under the British government, and Prot- 
estantism was allowed in the land. Rev. Samuel 
Swayze was a Congregationalist minister, and was 
doubtless the first Protestant minister that ever 
settled in the "Natchez country" or even visited it. 
We have given some account of him in the early 
part of our history He was the maternal great- 
great-grandfather of the writer. Two or three years 
after the baptism of Mrs. Lewis and her two chil- 
dren, the Spanish government took advantage of the 
war between England and her American colonies, 
and extended her government over the "Natchez 
country ;" and Protestant worship was forbidden un- 
der the severest pains and penalties, and Protestant 

In the Mississippi Conference. 91 

books, and especially Bibles, were committed to the 
flames whenever the priesthood could lay hands on 
them. Mr. Lewis had to keep his Bible closely con- 
cealed for the next twenty years, but the dear old 
relic gives evidence, in its dilapidated condition, of 
having been well and often read. The maiden name 
of Mrs. Archibald Lewis was Eleanor Sappington, 
and she was brought up (perhaps born) near Nash- 
ville, Tenn. She was a sister of the celebrated Dr. 
Sappington, the patentee of the famous "Sapping- 
ton Pills," of world-wide notoriety. Mrs. Lewis sur- 
vived her. husband many years, and was noted to the 
close of her protracted life for her unwavering, deep, 
and modest piety. She has left most of her descend- 
ants to the present day as the inheritance of the 
Church of her earliest and latest love. 

John Nugent married the daughter of Judge 
Seth Lewis, of Opelousas. Mr. Nugent was a culti- 
vated Irishman of the best type, and his first wife 
was a daughter of Mrs. Catharine Foreman. She 
was a lady of rare beauty and sterling piety; and 
her early death, from yellow fever in the fall of 1825, 
was greatly lamented by the Church and communi- 
ty. We understand that Mr. Nugent died from old 
age early in 1873, at the residence of his son, W L. 
Nugent, in Jackson, Miss. He was a man of sterling 
intellectual and moral worth, and was a steady and 
liberal supporter of all the interests of the Church 
through, a period of more than fifty years. Many 
of the persons mentioned above died in the vicinity 
of Washington, but many others moved away to 
the new countries and helped to build up Metho- 
dism in other localities. None of the first genera- 

92 A Complete History of Methodism 

tion of Washington Methodists are yet alive, and 
but few of the second or even third; but they were 
a remarkably firm and faithful generation of Chris- 
tians and, with scarcely an exception, were faithful 
until death. 

It is thought by some, as the first Methodist so- 
ciety was formed in Washington, that the first 
Methodist church built in the Southwest was built 
there ; but this is clearly a mistake. The first church 
was not erected there until 1812, whereas we have 
seen that the first Methodist church in Natchez was 
built about 1807-08; and doubtless some small log 
churches had been erected in a few places previous 
to 1812. Precisely where the Church worshiped in 
Washington from its organization in 1799 to 1812 
is not known. Perhaps it was in the public school- 
house (where the Church was organized) for a term 
of years, and then in the courthouse or territorial 
legislative hall. Through the kindness of our much- 
esteemed friend and former neighbor, W. X. White- 
hurst, Esq., of Washington, Miss., we now have be- 
fore us a copy of the deed given for the lot of 
ground on which the first Methodist church was 
built in the territorial capital. The deed is dated 
November 20, 1811; the vendors of the lot were no 
less personages than the celebrated Lorenzo Dow 
and his wife Peggy. AVe regret our inability to 
draw a facsimile of their rather clumsy but very 
plainly written signatures to the deed. Lorenzo Dow 
was now a citizen of Jefferson County, living at his 
Chickamaw Spring place. We presume that at one 
of his earlier visits to the Territory he. saw that 
Washington was a place of growing importance, and 

In the Mississippi Conference. 93 

acquired a title to this eligible lot near the center 
of the town; and as he almost literally gave every- 
thing he could call his own to the cause of God, he 
now turned over this lot. for a church site. In or- 
der to make the transfer legal, the deed specifies 
that it was made "for and in consideration of the 
sum of twenty-five dollars in lawful currency of the 
United States of America to them in hand paid," 
etc. If the money was really put into his hands, 
it is likely that he handed it back to help build the 
church, for this would have been in keeping with his 
way of doing things. The original board of trustees 
consisted of Eev. Miles Harper, Maj. Isaac Quinn, 
Reuben Newman, Robert Turner, Daniel Rawlings, 
and Alexander Covington. The lot was seventy 
feet wide by one hundred feet deep. The deed was 
such as the Methodist Discipline then required, with 
the>proviso that, when unoccupied by the Methodists, 
&|gularly licensed clergymen of other Churches 
might preach therein. It was perhaps this liberal 
and Christian proviso that suggested Concord as the 
name of the new Church, but it was seldom used. 
It is handed down by tradition that Rev. Miles Har- 
per was the leading spirit in the board of trustees 
in the erection of the church. The walls were built 
of brick ; the house was of good size and sufficiently 
high to admit of galleries inside for the occupancy 
of the colored people, except on extraordinary occa- 
sions, when they were needed for the vast congrega- 
tions of white people that assembled there. Of most 
of the original board of trustees the writer had some 
personal knowledge, but of Maj. Isaac Quinn he has 
no recollection. Us has, however, obtained a sketch 

94 A Complete History of Methodism 

of his history. He was from Westchester County, 
N* Y., and his wife from Connecticut. It is said of 
her that she possessed an uncommonly strong in- 
tellect, and had great influence for good in female 
circles. As an officer, Maj. Quinn had borne a dis- 
tinguished part in the Revolutionary War, and was 
present at the fall of General Montgomery at the 
battle of Quebec, and assisted in his burial. Many 
long years after, when it became desirable to re- 
move the remains of General Montgomery to Trinity 
Church, New York, an escort was sent to convey 
Major Quinn to Quebec to identify the grave of his 
former illustrious chief. Major Quinn commanded 
the American forces that took control of the coun- 
try north of West Florida in 1798, when the Spanish 
forces and government evacuated the Natchez Dis- 
trict, until a territorial government was established. 
Reuben Newman was among the early converts to 
Methodism in the region of Selsertown, a few miles 
north of Washington. He was a very devout and 
faithful man. He had an impediment in his speech 
which seemed painful and embarrassing in common 
conversation ; but notwithstanding this, he was long 
a class leader and — what was verv remarkable — he 
seldom stammered in the exercises of a class meet- 
ing or in family prayer. He moved to the open 
woods in Warren County, where, in 1S28, the writer 
was with him on his deathbed and attended his 
funeral. His death was a triumph. 

The history of the first church in Washington is 
full of interest. It became the most popular preach- 
ing place in all the country. The congregatiops were 
large and appreciative, many of whom, from time 

In the Mississippi Conference. 95 

to time, were sweetly drawn into the gospel net. 
Methodism was popular; the preachers had the co- 
operation of a lively and zealous membership. The 
social meetings of the Church were highly apprecia- 
ted and well attended. We would think ourselves 
highly favored to get as many people together at any 
Sabbath appointment in these river counties now 
as we have seen there at the ordinary weekly prayer 
meetings. The people had a mind to go to the house 
of the Lord, and they went. Washington was now 
in the zenith of its glory and prosperity ; but from 
this date (1825-26) a variety of natural causes con- 
tributed to its depopulation until for a score of years 
it has been nothing more than a scattered village. 
The forty-five delegates (including David Holmes, 
the President) elected by the Territory of Mississip- 
pi to meet in Washington July 7, 1817, to draw up 
and adopt a constitution preparatory to the admis- 
sion of Mississippi as a State into the Federal Un- 
ion, having no suitable house to hold the convention 
in, accepted an invitation from the members and pa- 
trons of the Church to hold it in their house of wor- 
ship, which for the time being became the capitol of 
the Territory without, however, interrupting the 
usual religious services held in it. This Constitu- 
tional Convention of forty-five delegates, which oc- 
cupied the church with their presence and labors un- 
til the 15th of August, well represented the intelli- 
gence, wealth, patriotism, and piety of the Ter- 
ritory. Among the members were found several 
leading Methodists, such as Rev. John Ford, of Mari- 
on County ; William Lattimore, of Amite ; John Mc- 
Rae, of Green; etc. Of the forty-five delegates, not 

96 A Complete History of Methodism 

one is living since the death of the late venerable 
Joseph E. Davis, an elder brother of Ex-President 
Jeff Davis. The first General Assembly elected un- 
der the new constitution held its session in Washing- 
ton. The population in and around Washington 
continued to increase until it was thought best to 
build a larger and more tastefully finished house of 
worship, which still stands, a monument to the in- 
telligence, refinement, and piety of those who built 

After the completion of the new church its prede- 
cessor gradually grew into disuse until, on Novem- 
ber 6, 1830, it was sold, according to the provisions 
of the Discipline, to the trustees of Jefferson Col- 
lege, and thereafter was devoted to literary pur- 
poses until, in January, 1873, it was demolished by 
a tornado. 

The Washington Methodists of those days were 
generally very reliable. Few cases of apostasy or 
perversion ever occurred among them. Until the fall 
just previous to our late Conference it was thought 
to be proof against epidemic yellow fever and a safe 
retreat for the citizens of Natchez when it was vis- 
ited by the fever ; but this fall it prevailed in Wash- 
ington and took off a number of the best citizens, 
so that people were restrained from fixing their 
family residences there. The seat of the State gov- 
ernment was, soon after this date, removed to Jack- 
son; and the seat of justice for Adams County had 
been removed to Natchez. The land office for the 
district west of Pearl River remained; and while it 
brought a great many people to Washington on 
business, it contributed very little to the permanent 

In the Mississippi Conference. 97 


population. The emigration of vast numbers from 
Washingon and its immediate vicinity to the lands 
lately acquired by the general government in the 
interior of the State from the Choctaw Indians did 
more to depopulate the town than all other causes 
combined. The more wealthy planters who were 
disposed to remain began to buy up the small plan- 
tations adjoining them, so in a few years only two 
white families (that of the proprietor and his over- 
seer) would occupy a territory whereon a dozen 
white families had lately resided. This same process 
came near breaking up a large number of our Church- 
es and neighborhood schools all along the west- 
ern margin of the State. Judge Covington and fam- 
ily removed to Warren County, where they remained 
steadfast members of the Church until their earth- 
ly pilgrimage closed. Judge Covington possessed a 
high order of mind, well cultivated by education and 
research; but in religion he had the simplicity of a 
child and the earnestness of a pure-minded Chris- 
tian. He made one of our best class leaders of the 
olden time. Several of the Chew and Grayson fam- 
ilies went to Yazoo County, where they aided much 
in establishing Methodism in what was then a new 
country. William feantz, after giving two of his step- 
sons (Henry B. and Thomas Price) to the Mississip- 
pi Conference, removed with his family to Tensas 
Parish, La., where he and his saintly wife both died 
i* faith within the past few years. A goodly num- 
ber, however, of 1 those who constituted the member- 
ship of our Church during the chivalrous days of 
Methodism at Washington closed their successful 
pilgrimage in and near the town, where, amidst pres- 

98 A Complete History of Mctliodism 

ent desolation, their bodies await the resurrection 
of the just. 

Washington, however, continued to be a place of 
considerable importance for a quarter of a century 
after the date of which we are now writing. The 
Elizabeth Female Academy continued to flourish for 
many years, which was also the case, at intervals, 
with Jefferson College, so that the congregations 
were large and the Church enjoyed a good degree 
of prosperity as late as 1850. 

There was nothing out of the ordinary course in 
the appointments made at our late Conference. 
Alexander Talley succeeded Ashley Hewitt on the 
Louisiana District; and Thomas Griffin took the 
place of William Winans, whose time expired by 
limitation, on the Mississippi District. Benjamin 
M. Drake was continued in the New Orleans Mis- 
sion ; and John R. Lambuth succeeded our deceased 
brother, Henry P. Cook, in the Mobile Mission. Sev- 
eral new pastoral charges were formed, mainly in 
territory which had been embraced partially in cir- 
cuits heretofore occupied. Warren Circuit lay most- 
ly in Warren County, and was the western half of 
what the previous year had been called Big Black, 
with Thomas C. Brown as pastor. Port Gibson was 
detached from Bayou Pierre Circuit, and John C. 
Burruss appointed to spend as much of his time 
in preaching there as he could spare from the pres- 
idency of the Elizabeth Female Academy. The sta- 
tion was more than thirty miles distant from the 
place of his literary engagements, with only Satur- 
days and Sundays at his command. A new circuit, 
called Marengo, was formed in the Alabama Die- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 99 

trict, embracing Marengo and parts of Dallas and 
Wilcox Counties, and extending from the Tombig- 
bee to the Alabama River. A large part of this cir- 
cuit was in neighborhoods recently settled, where 
there had been no regular preaching heretofore. 
The lands being very fertile, it soon became densely 
populated. John Collier was the first preacher ap- 
pointed to this new work. Another new circuit was 
formed in the Cahawba District, called Sinclair in 
the General Minutes, but it should have been printed 
St. Clair. It lay north of Cahawba Valley Circuit, 
embracing St. Clair and portions of Shelby and 
Blount Counties. After the lapse of two years, the 
name was changed — or, what is more probable, it 
was merged into other circuits. James Nicholson 
was the preacher this year. Several young preachers 
appear on the roll this year for the first time who in 
after life became deservedly conspicuous on account 
of their fidelity, talents, and usefulness. Among 
them were William V. Douglass, Joseph McDowel, 
Richard H. Herbert, Leroy Massengale, Benjamin A. 
Houghton, and Orsamus L. Nash. As soon as the 
Conference adjourned on that ever-memorable night 
we approached Ashjey Hewitt and proposed to be his 
traveling companion to the Washita country. We 
agreed to meet next morning in Natchez, where he 
had a little shopping to do for his family, and then 
we would set out immediately for Washita. We had 
a very imperfect idea of the resources of the people 
in the country to which we were going, and consult- 
ed Mr. Hewitt as to the necessity of purchasing in 
Natchez sundry supplies in the way of wearing ap- 
parel that might be needed before our return to Mis- 

100 A Complete History of Methodism 

sissippi at the end of the year, and were surprised 
to learn that there was a considerable town about 
the center of our circuit called Monroe, in which 
there were several variety stores where anything 
we might need could be obtained. We went up east 
of the Mississippi River to Vicksburg, arriving on 
the third day, which was the Sabbath — time enough 
for Rev. John Lane to circulate an appointment for 
Mr. Hewitt to preach in his house at night, there 
being then no public house of worship in the town. 
Mr. Lane had lately built what was then considered 
a large family residence, and which stood on a lot 
where the upper story of Mr. William Crutcher's 
residence now stands. The Lane house was burned 
by the explosion of a shell in it during the siege of 
Vicksburg, and considerable grading was done be- 
fore its successor was erected on the same lot. The 
Lane house was one of the historic houses of Vicks- 
burg. In the village age of the city, long before 
any churches were built, it was often used as a 
preaching place and also for holding the social 
meetings of the Church. In addition to its being 
consecrated to holy purposes by Mr. Lane and his 
pious family, it was often visited and reconsecrated 
by the presence and prayers of bishops, presiding 
elders, and all sorts and sizes of ministers, both itin- 
erant and local, including an indefinite number of 
laymen. One or two Annual Conferences were held 
in it; and when the Church was able to furnish 
a Conference room elsewhere, on these occasions 
the Lane house was filled with Methodist preach- 
Early on Monday morning we resumed our jour- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 101 

ney to Washita. The first thing was to cross the 
great Mississippi River. We embarked in a small 
rowboat at the Vicksburg landing; and after coast- 
ing np about three miles in the slack water near the 
shore to allow for drifting down in crossing, we 
were landed on the point opposite the place of our 
embarkation. Our road from there to Lake Provi- 
dence was a dim horse path, except about the 
few small plantations that were being opened 
and cultivated on the margin of the river. The 
banks of the river were covered with dense cane- 
brakes and primeval forests, and often for fifteen or 
twenty miles there was an unbroken wilderness. 
Everything presented a solitary appearance. Even 
the few old-fashioned steamboats that we saw slowly 
plowing the waters of this inland sea looked lonely. 
Soon after leaving the point opposite Vicksburg 
we came to where a recent landslide had taken our 
path into the river, so that we had to dismount and, 
with our pocketknives, cut and break a new way 
through the big cane until we headed the caving 
bank. Such difficulties were often encountered on 
the banks of the Mississippi. The water marks on 
the trees, made by the annual inundation of the 
great swamp, were to be seen more than forty miles 
west of the river, and were often far above our 
heads on horseback. Late in the evening of the 
second day out from Vicksburg we arrived at Mr. 
Harbord Hood's, on Lake Providence, where we 
were most cordially received and hospitably enter- 
tained. Mr. Hood and his wife were Kentuckians. 
They had settled on government land on Lake Prov- 
idence soon after their marriage, and at this time 

102 A Complete History of Methodism 

had been living there about twenty-five years. In 
all that time not a sermon had been preached within 
forty miles of the settlement. They were so isolated 
from all the world that no itinerant had ever em- 
braced them in his circuit. Mr. Hood had opened a 
little cotton farm on which he now worked six or 
eight hands. Several of his children were about 
grown, and he began to feel greatly in need of the 
public means of grace, not only for himself and fam- 
ily but also for the few neighbors around him, sev- 
eral of whom had belonged to Methodist families 
elsewhere. On his way to Conference Mr. Hewitt 
spent a night at his house. Mr. and Mrs. Hood im- 
portuned him to settle among them and become their 
pastor. Mr. Hood proposed to settle him on a part 
of his headright (for the land had never yet come 
into market) and assist in putting up the necessary 
buildings and in opening land enough to work two 
or three hands on. Mr. Hewitt felt that this was a 
providential opening to spend the years of his super- 
annuation in preaching to those who would other- 
wise be without the gospel, and consented to the 
proposition. He now concluded to spend a day with 
Mr. Hood in perfecting his arrangements to move 
there in a short time. This gave the writer a day 
for quietude, rest, reading, meditation, and prayer, 
which was diligently improved and greatly enjoyed. 
Mr. Hewitt informed us that the distance we would 
have to travel the next day through the swamp was 
forty-five miles, with but one cabin on the route, in 
which the ferryman lived on Bayou Macon, and that 
in order to accomplish the journey in a short Decem- 
ber day we must start at daylight. Mr. and Mrs. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 103 

Hood gave us an early start; and after traveling a 
short distance through a dense canebrake, we entered 
the open swamp, crossed the Bayou Macon on a raft 
of logs pinned together, passed over a flat country 
called the Macon hills just because it was a little 
above high-water mark, forded Boeuf River, and 
then barely allowed ourselves time to eat our lunch 
and say our prayers at the root of a tree. Resuming 
our perpetual trot, about the close of day we came to 
a beautiful open place as clean as a cultivated field. 
Mr. Hewitt informed us that it was Egg's Prairie, 
the first prairie we had ever seen. Night soon shut 
in upon us, but presently we emerged suddenly from 
the dense forest into what seemed to be a most beau- 
tiful level plantation with indefinite limits. After 
the fatigue and monotony of a hard day's travel 
through an unbroken wilderness, the sight of the 
Prairie Mer Rouge threw us into an ecstasy; and 
what greatly added to our joy was the fact that we 
were now in our circuit, where we could feel at home. 
We were delighted to learn that the G riflings (who 
had formed Tobias Gibson's first Church at St. 
Albans, on Big Black River, and who were our near 
kindred) were living in the circuit and were still 
conspicuous for their piety and zeal. A little after 
nightfall Mr. Hewitt directed us through a laige 
outer gate to the residence of Col. Ely K. Ross, 
whose house was the headquarters of Methodism in 
the Mer Rouge, and who was one of the stewards 
of the circuit. A generous supper and a night's rest 
were very refreshing after our long ride. We entered 
immediately upon our work. In a day or two Mr. 
Hewitt kindly accompanied us through the Burnt 

104 A Complete History of Methodism 

Cabin Settlement, on Bayou Bartholomew, a little 
west of where the town of Bastrop now stands, and 
then on down the Bayou to the Island, where we 
preached our first sermon on the circuit at the house 
of Judge McLaughlin. We then returned to the Mer 
Rouge, and soon set out alone to visit and preach to 
our relatives, the Grififings, in Prairie Jefferson. On 
our way we saw, on the bank of the Bayou Gallion, 
laid out at full length, a huge reptile, shaped like a 
lizard, about twelve or fourteen feet long. We 
guessed it was an alligator, the first we had ever seen. 
During the next spring and summer we became very 
familiar with their presence, in wading and swim- 
ming on horseback through the extensive overflows. 
To be all alone, wading halfside-deep through an 
overflow two or three miles wide, and to have these 
amphibious monsters lay with the stillness of a 
log just under the surface, with nothing visible but 
the crest of their heads, with their eyes fixed upon 
you, is anything but pleasant to the inexperienced. 
When we reached the Bayou Bonida, our attention 
was arrested by a roaring overhead. We looked up 
and saw vast flocks of wild pigeons coming from 
every quarter and forming what is called a pigeon 
roost. * The advanced flocks would select and settle 
on the boughs of the trees, and successive flocks 
would settle on and cleave to their predecessors un- 
til they would hang in clusters like a swarm of bees. 
Frequently the accumulating weight would break a 
bough and bring it down with a crash, and the birds 
would fly off, only to return immediately and make 
another settlement. The smaller and more elastic 
trees were often so overloaded that thev bent until 

In the Mississippi Conference. 105 

the top limbs rested on the ground. After selecting 
their place for roosting, they would return each suc- 
ceeding evening until they migrated to some new 
territory. What excited our curiosity was that 
they should come from afar and concentrate on one 
acre of trees almost to suffocation when they had 
illimitable forests to roost in at their convenience 
wherever night might overtake them. 

After forming a very pleasant acquaintance with 
our kindred in Prairie Jefferson and preaching once, 
we proceeded regularly around our circuit. Our 
predecessor, Thomas C. Brown, who had. been very 
popular on the circuit, had kindly (in addition to 
a minute plan of the circuit) furnished us with let- 
ters of introduction to numerous gentlemen about 
Monroe and elsewhere, so that we found our -way 
around the circuit readily and began to feel quite 
at home everywhere. The territory occupied by us 
extended about eighty or ninety miles from Prairie 
Jefferson in the east to Wafer's settlement in the 
west, and was about fifty miles wide up and down 
the Washita River, which was about the center of 
the work. It was then truly an outpost. South, 
north, and east, there was no circuit within a hun- 
dred miles ; and to the west there was none between 
us and sunset. There were no preachers of any name 
or denomination in our bounds except two very illit- 
erate Baptist preachers. After Ashley Hewitt moved 
to Lake Providence, we think it no presumption to 
say that we were the greatest preacher in all that 
country in the absence of our presiding elder, for we 
were the only one there. We felt our isolation, but be- 
took ourselves earnestly to the work before us. We 

106 A Complete History of Methodism 

think it unnecessary to detail the many natural dif- 
ficulties we met with in the way of mosquitoes and 
gnats, mud and water, bridgeless and ferryless bay- 
ous, etc. When the insects were out in full force, 
we could bar them off by wearing a veil of mosquito 
netting attached to the rims of our hats. As to the 
mud, it was often pleasantly said that the bottom 
was good wherever you could get to it ; and as to the 
water, especially during the annual inundation, we 
took it as a matter of course and expected frequent 
wettings. We did not like to be plunged into deep 
water unexpectedly, as we sometimes were; but be- 
ing a practiced swimmer, we took to the water, when 
necessary, as kindly as a water dog. Among the 
people we met with little else but the most generous 
cordiality and hospitality. We were struck with 
this feature of Washita society on our first entrance 
into the country. Everybody, professor and nonpro- 
fessor, French or American, Creole or emigrant, 
Catholic or Protestant, seemed to have a welcome for 
the preacher. Some of the Catholics who would not 
even be present with us in family worship would 
nevertheless treat us with every mark of hospitality 
about their houses. The truth is, they were anxious 
to keep up a succession of preaching in the country ; 
and as most places were beyond the limits of all 
other preachers except the young Methodist itin- 
erants, they treated us with great respect in their 
families and sometimes, at a heavy sacrifice of time, 
took immense pains to pilot us through uninhabited 
districts or to assist us in crossing high waters. 
Some of the French Catholics attended our places 
of worship and a few joined our Church; but as a 

In the Mississippi Conference. 107 

general rule they seemed inaccessible to Protestant- 

We could write a volume of incidents connected 
with our labors in the Washita country, but the gen- 
eral history of the Church is all that we have space 
to record- Several of the young men brought into 
the Church that year became preachers, and several 
of the young ladies in after years became the wives 
of itinerant preachers. Our net increase that year 
on Washita Circuit was one hundred and ninety-two 
white and twenty-three colored members, which was 
cause of great encouragement, considering the 
sparseness of the Protestant population. We had 
additions to most of the old societies and formed sev- 
eral new classes in neighborhoods where Church or- 
ganization had not heretofore existed. In the settle- 
ment known as the "Old Village" and surrounding 
country we had very encouraging success, which re- 
sulted in the formation of a new society in the Old 
Village and a camp meeting in the vicinity of the 
fall. This section of country lay from twelve to 
twenty miles west of Monroe. The first society ever 
formed in Monroe was organized this year. There 
had been preaching in the town for many years, but 
no one had ever united with the Church. Our cir- 
cuit was somewhat in the form of the figure eight, 
Monroe being in the center; so we visited it four 
times every round, and generally preached at every 
visit. We were very cordially received and enter- 
tained by most of the leading families in the town, 
and endeavored to improve our opportunities for 
doing good among them. A work of grace seemed 
to commence in the following way: We presented a 

108 A Complete History of Methodism 

copy of the little book, still extant in our Church, 
called "The Life and Death of Two Young Ladies 
Contrasted," to Miss Eliza McFarland, the cultivated 
and highly accomplished daughter of General Mc- 
Farland, with a request that she give it a thoughtful 
reading. It proved the means of her awakening. 
She loaned it to her near neighbor, Mrs. Trent, the 
wife of the gentleman whose name is perpetuated in 
the town of Trenton, a few miles above Monroe on 
the opposite side of the river, and she too was thor- 
oughly awakened by its perusal. It was then hand- 
ed to Mrs. Ailes, the wife of one of the principal mer- 
chants, who read it with similar effect. The three 
ladies then began to hold religious conferences, and 
mutually agreed to make a public profession of reli- 
gion by uniting with the Church. In the meantime 
a colored woman, the house servant of Mrs. Dr. Mc- 
Guire, had become much exercised about her salva- 
tion, and had obtained permission from her owners 
to join the Church, and had also requested us, 
through her mistress, to open the door for her recep- 
tion, which we did soon after; so that she was, in 
point of time, the first person that joined our Church 
in Monroe. At the next opportunity the three la- 
dies above named presented themselves as candidates 
for Church membership, Miss Eliza McFarland tak- 
ing the lead. We afterwards had several additions 
of excellent material ; such especially were the three 
ladies above named, composing the first society 
there, in 1826. General McFarland was — if our mem- 
ory is correct — a reduced merchant from Cincinnati, 
where he had buried the pious mother of his amiable 
daughter, who now superintended his household af- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 109 

fairs. Soon after this he moved to San Augustine, 
Tex.; and Mr. Thrall, in his "History of Methodism 
in Texas," notes the fact that Miss Eliza McFarland 
was the first to step forward in the formation of a 
Church by Rev. Henry Stephenson in the vicinity 
of where her father then lived. She afterwards 
married Dr. Lawhon, a local preacher, and she re- 
mained steadfast in the faith. Mrs. Trent and Mrs. 
Ailes were both faithful unto death. O how we would 
like to record the many plain and powerful conver- 
sions that took place on our circuit that year as 
illustrations of the wonder-working grace of God! 
But our plan will not permit. It gives us unspeak- 
able consolation to know that most of them have 
already gone to glory, and that the few that yet re- 
main are still persevering in the narrow path. 

There was a very important fact, when taken in 
connection with its rapidly accumulating results, 
that was evolved in the history of Methodism in 
Northwestern Louisiana this year. At this date the 
Missouri Conference embraced the State of Missouri 
and the Territory of Arkansas. Methodism had be- 
come somewhat prosperous in Southwestern Arkan- 
sas. A district, composed of three or four circuits, 
had been formed, called Arkansas, with Jesse Hale as 
presiding elder. Mr. Hale was a man of solid piety 
and useful talents, but was an ultra-abolitionist, and 
uridertook to enforce literally in this slaveholding 
territory the provisions of Section IX. as it then 
stood in the Discipline, making slave owners ineligi- 
ble to any official station in the Church, and requir- 
ing the traveling preachers who might incidentally 
come into possession of slaves to emancipate them 

110 A Complete History of Methodism 

or forfeit their ministerial character. The result of 
this intermeddling with a civil institution was to 
create a great excitement in the Church and to sep- 
arate those who had hitherto been united in Chris- 
tian love and fellowship. The unhappy excitement 
became so intense and destructive to the peace and 
prosperity of the Church that it was called then and 
long after "the Hale storm." The result was that a 
large number of Methodist families living in the re- 
gion of Hempstead and Clarke Counties (including 
the venerable William Stephenson, a traveling 
preacher, and three local preachers by the names of 
Henry Stephenson, Lord, and McMahan), having 
learned that the Mississippi Conference did not in- 
terfere with the civil relations of slavery, though 
they were not slaveholders themselves, determined 
to move across the line into what was then the north- 
ern part of Natchitoches Parish. These pious peo- 
ple brought their religion with them, and immediate- 
ly commenced working Methodism foursquare with- 
out rounding off any of the corners. Our live presid- 
ing elder, Dr. Talley, heard of them, and embraced 
the first opportunity to make them a visit. He was 
delighted with his visit. He saw that the land was 
inviting and these settlers were solid and reliable 
materials and, with proper attention, the day was 
not distant when this country, known as Allen's Set- 
tlement, would become one of the strongholds of 
Methodism in Northwestern Louisiana. Let those 
who now live in Claiborne and Bossier Parishes de- 
cide as to the correctness of his forecast. This godly 
community was now beyond the sweep of the "Hale 
storm;" and though many of them were barely 

In the Mississippi Conference. Ill 

housekeeping, they importuned Dr. Talley to give 
them an appointment for a camp meeting. He did 
so, and notified us to be present. We raised a com- 
pany of eight or ten men, mostly from the Prairies 
Mer Rouge and Jefferson, and set out a distance of 
more than a hundred miles to this camp meeting. We 
went prepared to camp out at night, as the weather 
was warm and there were too many of us to crowd 
into the little cabins of the new settlers on the 
way. One or two of the young men took their guns 
to kill game, which gave us one fine wild turkey to 
roast on a spit the night before we reached the camp 
ground. It was the most primitive camp meeting we 
ever attended. We tethered our horses out to. graze 
in the daytime, and tied them up to the trees at 
night. The tents, pulpit, and seats were of the cheap- 
est structures. Our provisions consisted mainly of 
bread made of unripe corn, fresh pork, immature 
sweet potatoes, with coffee for the preachers and old 
folks. In addition to the four preachers already in 
the vicinity of Allen's Settlement (Dr. Talley and 
the writer) , we had two brothers by the name of Orr 
from Arkansas, one a traveling and the other a local 
preacher. There was little to divert the mind from 
the one object of' the meeting. The congregation, of 
course, was small, the settlement being quite sparse. 
Each preacher, both local and traveling, had to 
preach at least once. The Lord was with his peo- 
ple. It was easy to preach where such a fullness of 
the Spirit was feelingly present in the congrega- 
tion. Two of our company from Prairie Jefferson, 
who came as seekers of religion, were powerfully 
converted. This was the first camp meeting ever held 

112 A Complete History of Methodism 

in Louisiana north of Red River, and the one held 
soon after near the Old Village, in Washita Circuit, 
was the second. We also attended another one of 
those delightful and successful little camp meetings 
the same fall, held south of Natchitoches on the 
waters of Coushatta. 

The venerable William Stephenson still held his 
membership in the Missouri Conference, and this 
year had a nominal appointment to Natchitoches 
Parish; but moving and settling his family allowed 
him little time to devote to the ministry away from 
his immediate vicinity. As Dr. Talley now claimed 
these new settlements as being in his territory, he 
instructed the writer to make one round and form 
a new circuit to be reported to our ensuing Confer- 
ence. The appointments were sent out from the 
camp meeting ; and after making one more round on 
our own circuit, we returned to these new settle- 
ments for the purpose of organizing the emigrants 
into societies and drawing up a plan for a new pas- 
toral charge. We established eight preaching places, 
mostly in private houses, and collected a member- 
ship of about thirty, made out a regular plan of the 
circuit for the next year, and called the new circuit 
Natchitoches, as it was included in the northeastern 
part of that parish. The same territory was a few 
years later included in a new parish called Claiborne 
and the name of the circuit changed accordingly. 
We rejoice to know that Methodism is still predomi- 
nant in that section of Louisiana. 

After making one more round on our circuit, we 
started eastward to attend Conference in Tusca- 
loosa, Ala., having to travel about five hundred 

In the Mississippi Conference. 113 

miles on horseback to get there. We had done a year 
of hard work west of the Mississippi ; but we came 
.off with a glad heart, feeling that God had given us 
success far beyond our expectations. We returned 
by the way of Lake Providence, and paused there to 
assist Ashley Hewitt in a two days' meeting under 
Martin and Keane's new ginhouse, on the bank of 
the river. Mr. Hewitt, though a superannuate, had 
organized a small society and established several 
preaching places. He was the pioneer preacher in 
what is now Carroll Parish. 

The statistics show that we had a net increase this 
year of only eighty white and four hundred and nine- 
ty-four colored members; but when it is borne in 
mind that in giving up Lawrence and Franklin Cir- 
cuits to the Tennessee Conference we gave up eight 
hundred and four white and sixty colored members, 
it will be seen that if we had retained them our net 
increase would have been at least eight hundred and 
four white and five hundred and fifty-four colored 
members, showing that we had been favored with 
very encouraging prosperity. 
Vol. II.— 8 



According to appointment, the Mississippi Annual 
Conference met at Tuscaloosa, Ala., December 14, 
1826. Bishops Roberts and Soule were present. Wil- 
liam Winans was again chosen Secretary. The open- 
ing religious services were conducted by Bishop 
Soule. Notwithstanding the extent of our territory, 
most of the members of the Conference were pres- 
ent. Though the youthful element still prevailed in 
our Conference, we now had as our file leaders a 
fair proportion of middle-aged men, but none in the 
decline of old age. Men enfeebled either by age or 
disease could not be effective in the work we then 
had to do. Though we lacked the maturity of old 
age and long experience in our deliberations, the 
interests of the Conference were very safe in the 
hands of such men as William Winans, Thomas 
Griffin, Alexander Talley, Robert L. Kennon, Eben- 
ezer Hearn, Benjamin Dulaney, and a few others 
about the meridian of ilfe. 

After appointing the usual committees, the Con- 
ference proceeded with the regular business. William 
Leggett, Cornelius Warner, Moses Perry, William 
H. Turnley, James A. Hughes, Lewis S. Turner, and 
Anderson C. McDaniel were admitted on trial; and 
William M. Curtis, after being local one year, was 

In the Mississippi Conference. 115 

readmitted. Of the nine admitted the year before, 
all were continued on trial except John Patton, who 
retired at his own request. John G. Jones, John O. 
T. Hawkins, John P Haney, William V. Douglass, 
William Spruill, Thomas Burpo, Isaac V. Enochs, 
and Henry I. Brown stood a creditable examination 
on the course of study, and were received into full 
connection and elected and ordained deacons; also 
Thomas Burpo, who was a year behind his time in 
consequence of being absent from the preceding Con- 
ference. Jonas Westerlund and Elijah B. Mc- 
Kay were elected and ordained elders. Ashley Hew- 
itt, Barnabas Pipkin, Thomas Owens, and Thom- 
as S. Abernathy were placed in a supernumerary 
relation; and Thomas C. Brown, John Collier, James 
Nicholson, John Booth, Jonas Westerlund, and Josh- 
ua Boucher, Jr., asked and obtained locations. Mr. 
Boucher was dissatisfied with the legal institution 
of slavery in our Conference territory, and asked to 
be transferred to the Ohio Conference. The bishops 
decided that it was contrary to the policy and inter- 
ests of the Church to transfer a preacher from a 
deficient to a full Conference; and as his services 
were greatly needed here and were not so essential 
in the Ohio Conference, thev declined to countenance 
what they considered a wrong precedent, and would 
not transfer him. He was, however, determined to 
go, and located in order to carry out his purpose. 
He entered the Ohio Conference, and continued to 
travel for many years. Of local preachers, George 
A. Campbell and James Moore were elected to dea- 
con's orders, and Joshua Peavy to those of elder. 
By journal resolution the local preachers who 

116 A Complete History of Methodism 

were present at the Conference, in addition to the 
probationers, were invited to seats in the Conference 
as spectators. It was thought that the preachers 
would deal more faithfully with each other in the an- 
nual examination of character to have none present 
except those of their own profession. It is certain 
that the preachers dealt very faithfully with each oth- 
er in those days, the object of which was to keep the 
ministry pure and to improve it in everything essen- 
tial to its increased usefulness. There were some mi- 
nor complaints against two or three of the undergrad- 
uates, but nothing of a serious character was alleged 
against any one connected with the Conference. 

The Elizabeth Female Academy, at Washington, 
Miss., under the presidency of Rev. John C. Bur- 
russ and the tutorship of Mrs. Caroline Matilda 
Thayer, was reported in a high state of prosperity. 

Under the leadership of Mrs. Thayer and other 
ladies of Washington, Miss., a Female Assistance 
Society had been formed in that vicinity, the ob- 
ject of which was to raise funds outside of the or- 
dinary collections of the Church to supplement the 
deficient salaries of the preachers, especially of those 
who labored on the poorer circuits. At this Confer- 
ence they sent the sum of three hundred and twenty- 
seven dollars, which was most thankfully received, 
and Bishop Soule was requested to respond to their 
benevolence in behalf of the Conference, which he 
did in beautiful and complimentary style. The Con- 
ference voted a request to have the address pub- 
lished in the Christian Advocate at New York, which 
was just then coming into existence as our connec- 
tional weekly Church journal. This Female As- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 117 

sistance Society prospered only a few years, when, 
by the removal of its leading members to other com- 
munities, it was dissolved; but it did good in its 
day, and its members, when scattered abroad, con- 
tinued their benevolence to the preachers through 
other channels. 

As the joint committee of the Tennessee and Mis- 
sissippi Conferences had not yet been able to estab- 
lish the contemplated union college, the Mississippi 
Conference accepted an invitation to patronize, for 
the time being, Augusta College, in Kentucky, by rec- 
ommending our people to educate their sons there. 

At this date the subject of Freemasonry was made 
the occasion of a frenzied excitement in the United 
States, both in political and ecclesiastical circles, 
and was the means of producing much unpleasant 
and unprofitable wrangling both in Church and civ- 
il communities. Our presiding elders and other ex- 
perienced ministers opposed any discussion on the 
subject in any of our Churches. They took the 
ground that all we had any right to demand of our 
members or ministers was to live consistently with 
their Church and ministerial vows; and that while 
doing this, if it was their will and pleasure to become 
members of any society (either secret or otherwise) 
organized for the promotion of morality, intelli- 
gence, and benevolence, we had no right to molest 
them for it. This was, no doubt, the correct view 
upon the subject. 

The American Colonization Society, for the first 
time, was brought prominently before our Confer- 
ence at this session by Benjamin M. Drake. Its ob- 
ject was heartily approved, and resolutions were 

118 A Complete History of Methodism 

passed recommending it to the support of the mem- 
bers and patrons of our Church, and also requesting 
our preachers, both traveling and local, to take up 
collections on or about the 4th of July to fur- 
ther its object and remit the same to the Treasurer 
of the Society. The American Colonization Society 
was organized in 1816 for the purpose of colonizing 
on the western coast of Africa as many of the free 
people of color in the United States, including eman- 
cipated slaves, as would voluntarily be transported 
and settled there at the expense of the Society. The 
object of the Society was very popular in the Mis- 
sissippi Conference — as it was generally in the 
Southern Conferences — and was liberally patronized 
until its popularity was weighed down and finally 
overcome by the fanaticism of the ultra-abolition- 
ists of the Northern States. 

Benjamin M. Drake, true to his advocacy of the 
parsonage system, again brought it prominently be- 
fore the Conference; and a committee was appoint- 
ed to draw up and publish an address to the Church 
within our bounds on the subject and disseminate 
it broadcast over our territory. It, however, had lit- 
tle effect. The time had not come to locate and fur- 
nish parsonages in our ever-changing circuits and 
districts; nor has it yet come, except in the town 
and city stations and a few of our more changeless 
country charges; nor will it ever come in much of 
our territory until we desist from the perpetual 
change of the boundaries of our circuits and dis- 

The subject of uniformity in dress among the 
preachers was brought up, by motion, and produced 

In the Mississippi Conference. 119 

a very animated discussion. Most of the Southern 
preachers had already abandoned the short trousers, 
knee buckles, and long stockings, which were still 
worn by both of our bishops now present with us. 
But some of our elder brethren, especially William 
Winans and Thomas Griffin, insisted that we should 
retain as the distinguishing costume of a Methodist 
preacher the long waistcoat, with its rounded cor- 
ners and huge pockets, and the glorious old round- 
breasted coat with its swallow-forked tail. It was 
true that the law of the Church did not require any- 
thing on the subject of dress except plainness and 
economy ; but many looked upon it as an evidence of 
falling from grace for a Methodist preacher to 
abandon those antiquated and inconvenient fashions 
and dress like other gentlemen. What was now 
called the "old-fashioned Methodist costume" was 
simply the English colonial dress worn by General 
Washington and his contemporaries. The citizens 
generally, especially in the higher circles of society, 
had abandoned those unsightly fashions for pat- 
terns more becoming and comfortable; but our 
Methodist forefathers contended persistently against 
their flocks, and especially their ministers, changing 
the cut of their apparel in conformity to the ever- 
changing fashions of the world. Some of the laity 
and most of the preachers had worn the round- 
breasted coat with its characteristic collar until the 
date of which we are now writing ; but there was an 
evident tendency, especially among the young men 
of the Conference, to lay aside an inconvenient and 
costly fashion and adopt the gentleman's long frock 
coat. We found by actual experiment that we could 

120 A Complete History of Methodism 

purchase the common gentleman's costume ten or fif- 
teen dollars cheaper than we could buy the same ma- 
terials and have them made up; and with a salary 
of one hundred dollars a year, and often much less, 
this sum was well worth saving. Our elder brethren, 
however, had a resolution passed "earnestly recom- 
mending to all our traveling preachers plainness 
and, as far as practicable, uniformity of dress." 
But our young ministers soon quietly gave up the 
keel-bottomed coat with its standing collar for the 
neat-fitting frock coat. John R. Lambuth and Thom- 
as Owens were the first to venture into our Annual 
Conference with the ordinary frock coat. Some of 
the old brethren looked at them reprovingly. How 
could they be so presumptuous ? They were soon fol- 
lowed by most of the young men in the Conference, 
and ultimately by most of the older ministers too. 
Mr. Winans was always a pattern of plainness in 
his apparel, but he too gave up those old fashions. 
Thomas Griffin and a few others adhered to the "old- 
fashioned Methodist coat" to the end of life. 

Our missionaries in New Orleans and Mobile re- 
ported some progress in the midst of formidable dif- 
ficulties. Mr. Drake, from New Orleans, reported 
the church on Gravier Street finished and a prospect 
of its being soon freed from debt, and also some in- 
crease in the membership and in the size of the con- 
gregation ; but still, he said, Methodism in New Or- 
leans was like a partridge in the wilderness. As the 
little Church was not yet entirely out of debt, the 
annual resolution of long standing was renewed, ap- 
pointing William Winans "agent of the New Or- 
leans Meetinghouse business." 

In the Mississippi Conference. 121 

John R. Lambuth, of the Mobile Mission, reported 
that our prospects were brightening, notwithstanding 
the most discouraging difficulties growing out of the 
general irreligion of the place, some misunderstand- 
ings among the few Church members, and the reduc- 
tion and disorganization of the population during 
the yellow fever months. The church was inclosed, 
covered, and seated so that it could be used every 
Sabbath; but it was embarrassed with debt which 
the few members and patrons of the Church could 
not liquidate. The missionary appealed to the Con- 
ference for aid, and quite a number responded to his 
call. This writer, out of his little salary of one hun- 
dred dollars, gave ten dollars to help build the fa- 
mous "old hive," as it was afterwards called, and 
has felt ever since that he was a stockholder in Mo- 
bile Methodism, and has always felt a thrill of joy 
at the mention of the "old hive," as it was his priv- 
ilege to help put a few planks or shingles on the 

The Christian Advocate, at New York, was just 
fairly getting into existence; and the Conference 
passed a resolution approving its design and prom- 
ising to patronize, it. In those days, if we received 
the paper three weeks after the date of publication, 
we thought it had come promptly. 

The Sabbath exercises of this Conference were 
very impressive. Bishop Roberts preached the great- 
est sermon that day we ever heard from his lips. In 
addition to his manly voice and usual eloquence, he 
was full of sympathy and gospel power. His text 
was Isaiah ix. 6, 7: "Unto us a child is born," etc. 
The whole sermon was admirably conceived and 

122 A Complete History of Methodism 

eloquently delivered ; but when he was dwelling upon 
"of the increase of his government and peace there 
shall be no end," he must have spoken as he was 
moved by the Holy Ghost. Such a burst of. overpow- 
ering eloquence we never heard before or since, ex- 
cept once from Mark Moore and once from Henry B. 
Bascom. The ordination of deacons which followed 
was most impressive. Nothing would satisfy the 
community but that Bishop Roberts should preach 
another sermon, which he did on the last night of 
the Conference. 

Bishop Soule also preached one of his lofty, log- 
ical, orthodox, and powerful sermons. He had not 
the easy-flowing, pathetic eloquence of Bishop Rob- 
erts, but there was a weight and emphasis in every 

Our bishops still performed their continental jour- 
neys on horseback. Bishop Roberts's clothes at this 
Conference looked old and well-Avorn. It occurred to 
some of the young preachers that perhaps he was 
scarce of funds; and we quietly raised him a hand- 
some little purse, which Robert L. Walker present- 
ed to him as a token of our high appreciation of his 
episcopal services. The Bishop received it gratefully. 

Notwithstanding the resolutions and discussions 
of the anti-Masons, the Conference felt in honor 
bound to pass the following resolution before its 
close : 

Resolved, That the Mississippi Annual Conference re- 
turn their thanks to the Masonic Society of Tuscaloosa for 
generously furnishing them a room in which to hold their 
sessions, and that Dr. Robert L. Kennon be requested to 
make known this resolution to the Lodge. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 123 

After passing other complimentary resolutions 
and appointing its next annual session to meet either 
at Washington or Natchez, Miss., at the discretion 
of the preachers in charge and the presiding elder 
of the Washington District, on December 20, 1827, 
the appointments were announced and, after a ses- 
sion of eight days, the Conference adjourned. 

By agreement we met in the Conference room at 
6:30 a.m. to receive our appointments, so as to 
be able to make a half day's journey toward our 
different fields of labor. It was an interesting sight. 
We were not all dependent on the movements of 
stages, cars, or steamboats. There was not a wheeled 
conveyance in the Conference. Every preacher had 
his horse, and our horses were equipped and hitched 
around the Conference room. We entered the Con- 
ference in our traveling dress, including the inev- 
itable spatterdashes on our legs. After a good 
pastoral address and prayer by Bishop Soule, we re- 
ceived our appointments and, forming in companies, 
were soon beyond the limits of Tuscaloosa, where 
we had spent a holy, happy, and profitable week with 
its generous inhabitants. There was nothing unusu- 
al in the appointments of this year. John R. Lam- 
buth was returned to the Mobile Mission, and Pey- 
ton S. Greaves succeeded Benjamin M. Drake in New 
Orleans. The venerable William Stephenson was 
transferred from the Missouri Conference and ap- 
pointed to our newly formed circuit in Natchitoches 
Parish. As we had reconnoitered the country and 
planned the circuit the preceding fall, we had hoped 
to be returned there to elaborate our new work ; but 
in those days there was only one thing certain about 

124 A Complete History of Methodism 

the appointments of the single men, which was that 
they were sure to have an appointment somewhere 
between Georgia and Texas. We were assigned to 
Marengo Circuit, in Alabama, four or five hundred 
miles east of where we had hoped to be sent. Lake 
Providence was added to the list of pastoral charges : 
and Ashley Hewitt was changed from the superannu- 
ated to the supernumerary relation, that he might 
be placed in charge of it. John P. Haney was sent 
to form a new circuit in St. Tammany Parish, La. 
An attempt was made to make a station of the town 
of Claiborne, on the Alabama River, and Thomas 
S. Abernathy was appointed in charge ; but soon be- 
ing convinced that he was throwing away his time od 
a work of little promise, he applied to his presiding 
elder for a change, and was sent as our colleague on 
Marengo for the remainder of the year. Already the 
people were pushing into the new territory lately 
acquired from the Choctaw Indians, and most of the 
old circuits all along on the southern boundary of 
the "New Purchase" had been extended into its terri- 
tory. One new circuit had been formed, mostly in 
Copiah County, Miss., called Sweet Water, the name 
of one of its principal Churches and camp grounds, 
and Elisha Lott and Thomas Owens were assigned 
to it. The enlargement of. the work in the Choctaw 
country made it necessary to divide the Mississippi 
District, the northern part retaining the name, with 
Thomas Griffin presiding elder, and the southern 
part called Washington, with William Winans pre- 
siding elder. 

In 1820 the Federal government appointed Maj. 
Gen. Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee, and Major Gen- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 125 

eral Thomas Hinds, of Mississippi, as commission- 
ers on the part of the United States to negotiate a 
treaty with the Choctaw Indians for the purchase 
of near five and a half millions of acres of land ly- 
ing in the southern portion of their territory. After 
all the preliminary steps had been taken, in the 
month of October the commissioners met the chiefs 
and other head men of the nation at Doak's Stand, 
on the old Natchez Trace, near the eastern limit of 
the present county of Madison, where, on the 20th of 
the month, the treaty was signed. The next session 
of the Legislature erected the whole ceded territory 
into one county called Hinds ; but so rapidly was it 
settled that in a few years it was subdivided into 
more than a dozen counties. Many Methodist fam- 
ilies, including some very valuable local preachers 
and other official members, soon settled all over this 
"New Purchase," as it was called for many years. 
These emigrants had been served by the local preach- 
ers with the assistance of the traveling preachers 
who labored on the old circuits just south of the 
"Purchase." From this date new circuits were or- 
ganized, followed by new districts, until, in a few 
years, the whole territory was covered with pastoral 
charges. To keep up the old circuits and at the 
same time supply this new field, with the extension 
of the work in Western Louisiana, required all the 
available traveling preachers we could command. 

About this time various sections of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church in the United States were agi- 
tated by an attempt to introduce a delegation of lo- 
cal preachers and laymen into the Annual and Gen- 
eral Conferences. The proposed change in our form of 

126 A Complete History of Methodism 

government was warmly advocated by a respectable 
minority of traveling and local preachers and influ- 
ential laymen. Several periodicals were published 
in advocacy of the new measures, and various single 
pamphlets were industriously circulated among the 
people. Many very bitter surmises were written and 
published against the original framers of our Church 
government and against our bishops and the ruling 
majorities in our Annual and General Conferences. 
The Reformers, as they styled themselves, first took 
the name of "Union Societies," then that of "Asso- 
ciated Methodists," and finally seceded from the 
Methodist Episcopal Church and organized them- 
selves into what has since been known as the Metho- 
dist Protestant Church. 

The Union Societies found a lodgment in East- 
ern Alabama; and the principles involved in the 
controversy found some zealous advocates, not only 
among the laity, but among the leading local and ex- 
traveling preachers, and quite a number ultimately 
united with the Methodist Protestant Church. Some 
of our pastoral charges east of the Alabama River 
were considerably convulsed by this unhappy fam- 
ily feud. In Western Alabama and Eastern Missis- 
sippi a few scattering local preachers and laymen 
left our Church and united with the new organiza- 
tion, but until a much later period it never had any 
organic form west of Pearl River. This we attrib- 
uted to the sound judgment and conservative spirit 
of William Winans, John Lane, Thomas Griffin, Tra 
Byrd, and Ashley Hewitt. They took the ground that 
our entrance into and continued connection with the 
Methodist Episcopal Church was voluntary on our 

In the Mississippi Conference. 127 

part. We had first entered her pale on a probation 
of six months to give ourselves time to become ac- 
quainted with her doctrines, discipline, and usages 
before taking upon ourselves the vows of full mem- 
bership; and having taken those vows voluntarily, 
we had virtually surrendered all right to inveigh 
either against the doctrines or disciplinary laws of 
the Church. If there was evident friction found in 
the practical working of our ecclesiastical machin- 
ery, or the ^enlargement of the Church or the intro- 
duction of new interests or any other plausible con- 
sideration suggested the importance of a change or 
readjustment in our Church polity, our only legal 
recourse was to petition the General Conference to 
make the desired change ; and then, if we failed, the 
peace and harmony of the Church required us quiet- 
ly to submit until the next legal opportunity offered 
to renew the effort. The General Conference might 
seem to act slowly, but it was certain to do in the 
end what was best for the interests of all concerned. 
They saw no danger whatever of either the episco- 
pacy or itinerancy oppressing the members of the 
Church ; and if ever they should attempt it, the body 
of the Church had the remedy in their own hands. 
By withholding their salaries they could be starved 
out of their authority. These conservative brethren 
saved all the western portion of the Conference 
from any agitation on the vexed question ; and to 
this day there has been no secession from our 
Church either in Southwestern Mississippi or Louisi- 
ana. The great error committed by the leaders of 
the Union Societies was an overweening desire and 
determination to pluck the fruit before it was ripe 

128 A Complete History of Methodism 

— to reap the harvest before it had time to mature. 
The time had not then come for the introduction of 
laymen into the Annual and General Conferences. 
The moneyed interests of the Church were small — 
the mere matter of collecting the little salaries of 
the itinerant preachers, building church houses, and 
the little Chartered Fund in Philadelphia and the 
Book Concern in New York — all of which could be 
attended to without lay representation in the higher 
Conferences. Since then the Church has increased 
immensely in numbers and wealth; the missionary 
and Sabbath school interests have been greatly'en- 
larged; high schools, academies, colleges, and uni- 
versities have been projected ; improved styles of ar- 
chitecture have been adopted for our churches and 
other public buildings; to which may be added our 
vast publishing interests — all of which requires the 
best talents of the most experienced and skillful 
financiers in the Church. The itinerant preachers 
enter the ministry young, and afterwards, while en- 
gaged in the pastoral work, have little to de- 
velop their financial skill; and it is not to be 
expected that they should be able to manipu- 
late successfully the large and ever-growing mon- 
eyed interests of the Church; nor would it be 
safe to divert their attention from the special 
duties of their holy calling to attend to what can 
be much better managed by the intelligent and 
skilled laymen of the Church. These considerations 
long ago suggested the importance, not to say im- 
perious necessity, of having a strong lay element 
in our Annual and General Conferences. Long be- 
fore it was incorporated in the Discipline as a law 

In the Mississippi Conference. 129 

of the Church, it had been adopted by a number of 
Annual Conferences — ours among the rest — and 
found to work well. It would now seem that the 
initial step taken in this matter by our General 
Conference would be speedily followed by all the 
large Wesleyan Methodist bodies on the globe. 

All things considered, 1827 was a prosperous 
year, though the revival influence was not as pro- 
ductive a<s desired. A large number of camp meet- 
ings were held in the summer and fall, and they 
were attended with good results, some of them with 
unusual success. The well-directed and faithful 
labors of Orsamus L. Nash and Richard H. Herbert, 
two of our most enterprising young men, were 
much blessed on Chickasawhay Circuit, resulting in 
a net increase of about two hundred members. Mr. 
Nash was a man of medium height, heavy-built, with 
a commanding utterance, flaming zeal, and indomi- 
table perseverance, and was generally successful. 
Mr. Herbert was yet a youth, fairly educated, with 
preaching talents above mediocrity, and wholly de- 
voted to the work of the ministry. When we roomed 
with him (as we often did), generally the first thing 
we heard on awaking in the morning was his ear- 
nest whisper in prayer at the bedside. He often 
took a discouraging view of his progress in personal 
piety and his supposed want of influence as a min- 
ister of Christ, but he was to the end of his long 
pilgrimage a good and true man. 

The Marengo Circuit had been partly formed the 

previous year by John Collier, but was still in a very 

immature condition, on account of being a newly 

settled region. It embraced Marengo and parts of 

Vol. II.— 9 

130 A Complete History of Methodism 

Dallas and Wilcox Counties, extending from the 
Tombigbee to the Alabama River. The land was 
generally good and lay very well, especially that 
celebrated section between Demopolis and Cahawba, 
known then as the "Canebrake," which was only 
partially settled by the first adventurers. The fer- 
tility of the soil and the contiguity of two navigable 
rivers had invited intelligent and wealthy families 
into the new settlements, among whom were- a num- 
ber of influential Methodists, such as the Easleys, 
Cades, Glovers, Gwinns, Christians, Bennetts, and 
many others. Most of them were still living in their 
first log cabins; and, with few exceptions, our 
preaching places were either private houses or small 
log cabins put up for the double purpose of school 
and church. We took into our work several new 
settlements, and made us a circuit of good size. 
About Linden, Whitehall, and a few other places the 
population was already numerous, so that our con- 
gregations, especially on the Sabbath, were large; 
but in the Canebrake region they were small. After 
getting our work properly organized in the spring, 
the Great Head of the Church began to pour out his 
Spirit abundantly on our labors, and we had a 
sweeping revival which resulted in the addition of 
about three hundred and fifty to the Church. The 
work of grace among the new settlers, especially 
among the young people, was deep and scriptural. 
The awakenings and conversions were remarkably 
clear and well marked with true repentance and a 
living, saving faith in Christ, succeeded by a bright 
experience of love, peace, and joy. On the 27th of 
September we commenced the first camp meeting 

In the Mississippi Conference. 131 

ever held in Marengo. The camp ground was at 
Glover's Church, near the residence of John O. Glov- 
er. It was, from beginning to end, a time of ex- 
traordinary spiritual power. That great and good 
man so long known in the Mississippi Conference 
as Rev. Preston Cooper was the first one converted 
at this camp meeting; and his conversion was fol- 
lowed by about fifty or sixty more, most of which 
were as clear as a sunbeam. This year, however, 
had its trials as well as its triumphs. There lived 
either within or near our circuit five Baptist 
preachers of the old Hard-shell order who suddenly 
became very zealous in the midst of our revival ; and 
the conclusion of the whole matter was that all the 
young converts were sought to receive baptism by 
immersion at their hands as the only legitimate suc- 
cessors of John the Baptist and become members of 
the only true Church then extant. We were soon 
informed of their proselyting purposes, and deter- 
mined to protect our young and growing flock; and 
not one of our large number of young converts — 
many of whom were connected with Baptist fami- 
lies — left us; and. only a few, by special request, 
received baptism by immersion at our hands. 

Thomas S. Abernathy was one of the most congen- 
ial, lovely, and forbearing colleagues. He married 
late in the year. Mr. Abernathy was not a contro- 
versialist, but as a Methodist preacher he was well 
read and sound to the core in doctrine and disci- 
pline. He preached a very clear, orthodox sermon, 
often attended with the power and demonstration 
of the Holy Ghost, He was, indeed, a true yokefel- 

132 A Complete History of Methodism. 

low in the blessed harvest of souls with which the 
Lord of the harvest favored us that year. 

Our statistics show a net increase this year of 
thirteen hundred and forty-five white and five hun- 
dred and fifty-nine colored members. Our aggregate 
membership in the Conference was ten thousand 
one hundred and eighteen white and three thousand 
two hundred and eighty-three colored members, 
making a grand total of thirteen thousand four 
hundred and one. We have no death to record 
among our itinerant preachers this year. 



The Conference which closed the business and la- 
bors of 1827 and inaugurated those of 1828 was held 
in the city of Natchez, Miss., commencing December 
20, 1827. Bishop Soule presided, and William 
Winans was again elected Secretary. Considering 
the vast extent of territory, the expense of time and 
money, and the many difficulties to be encountered 
on a horseback journey in winter of from fifty to three 
or four hundred miles, to be repeated, in most in- 
stances, as soon as Conference was over, the at- 
tendance of the preachers was large. A goodly 
number of our Conference had never seen the ma- 
jestic Father of Waters before; and when they 
stood on the bluff and beheld for the first time the 
sweep of the mighty river, bearing on its bosom 
fleets of flatboats heavily laden with Western prod- 
uce, with the little steamboats of those days, and 
then took a survey of the apparent interminable 
level horizon extending westward, they were quite 
enraptured with the enchanting view. Steam whis- 
tles had not then been invented to announce the 
coming into port of a steamboat, and the little bells 
could be heard by only a small circle. The most 
noisy thing then known with which to announce, 
the important event of a steamboat making for the 
landing was a small cannon mounted on wheels 


134 A Complete History of Methodism 

and stationed on the forecastle deck, and well 
charged with a blank cartridge. 

We had, in Natchez, a commodious one-story brick 
church, with galleries inside above the main audi- 
ence room ; but as we needed the church for daily 
and nightly preaching, we had to look elsewhere for 
a Conference room. The celebrated little chapel in 
the rear of the church, which for so many years was 
used for class and prayer meetings, love feasts, Quar- 
terly and Annual Conferences, had not then been 
built. Horace Gridley was then the popular Sher- 
iff of Adams County, and he courteously tendered 
us a suitable room in the courthouse, with side 
rooms for the use of the committees. A room that 
would seat fifty or sixty men was all we needed in 
those days, when none were permitted to be present 
except members of Conference and the undergrad- 
uates and local preachers, who were admitted as 
spectators by special grace. We have gradually de- 
parted from that plan of sitting in secret session 
with closed doors until now we admit everybody to 
witness our deliberations who will behave with de- 
cent propriety ; so that it takes the largest audience 
rooms we can command to contain our enlarged 
Conference and numerous visitors. We rejoice that 
it is so. "Let there be light." Let the people wit- 
ness all our deliberations and plans for enlarging 
and promoting the interests of the Church. It will 
tend to secure their prayers and cooperation. Bish- 
op Soule was very exact in having the Conference 
opened and closed with suitable religious services. 
In those days, instead of closing with the apostolic 
benediction as we now do, a brother was called on 

In the Mississippi Conference. 135 

by the bishop to lead us in prayer, which often 
proved to be one of the moving sort of prayers under 
which our hearts were warmed and our spirits 
cheered with the manifested presence of the Mas- 
ter. This was the first time Bishop Soule had at- 
tended our Conference without the company of Bish- 
op Roberts. He was very methodical and exact in 
the transaction of all Conference business. While 
he allowed due time to do everything maturely, he 
permitted no time to be misspent. The preachers had 
great respect for him personally, and a high appre- 
ciation of his pulpit and administrative talents; 
but until they became intimately acquainted with 
him they did not feel as free and easy in his pres- 
ence as they did in associating with Bishop Roberts. 
Some even hinted that he had too much of what 
they called Yankee stiffness about him to suit the 
elasticity and freedom of Southern minds. When 
we became better acquainted with the Bishop, that 
feeling all wore off, and we looked on him as one of 
the greatest and one of the most affectionate offi- 
cers in the Church. His judgment was remarkably 
correct and free from any improper bias, and we 
were assured that all our personal interests, as well 
as the interests of the Church, were as safe in his 
hands as they could be in the hands of mortal man. 
The Conference opened in due form, and all the 
preliminary arrangements showed a master's skill 
in getting ready for the dispatch of business. After 
fixing the hour of meeting and adjournment and 
appointing the usual committees, Bishop Soule in- 
troduced two distinguished visitors to the Confer- 
ence who were invited to the freedom of our delib- 

136 A Complete History of Methodism 

erations. The first was Rev. Peter Akers, of the 
Kentucky Conference, who visited us in the interest 
of Augusta College ; and the second was the venera- 
ble Isaac Smith, of the South Carolina Conference, 
who was on a protracted visit to his daughter, Mrs. 
Hope Lenoir, living near Pearl River. They were 
both very interesting men, and their pulpit serv- 
ices were highly appreciated. Father Smith had 
been a Revolutionary soldier, and was with General 
Washington's army at the surrender of Lord Corn- 
wallis, where his soldierly conduct came very near 
depriving the world of the material out of which a 
first-class Methodist preacher was made in after 
years. He was slyly crawling on his hands and 
knees close to a fence, trailing his gun along, in order 
to draw a bead on a British picket, with intent to 
kill, when a ball from the enemy struck the ground 
just before him, and barely ricocheted high enough 
to miss his head, knocking the dirt in his face. See- 
ing that he was discoverd by the enemy, he made 
a judicious retreat in double-quick time. The war 
ended, he returned to the peaceful avocations of 
life, got among the Methodists in his native Vir 
ginia, was converted, soon admitted a divine call 
to preach the gospel, and was received on trial into 
the Virginia Conference in the spring of 1784. In 
a few years he fell into the South Carolina Confer- 
ence, where he traveled circuits, filled city stations, 
presided on districts, and was missionary among 
the Creek Indians in Western Georgia until he was 
disabled by extreme old age and took a superannu- 
ated relation. After devoting half a century with 
unusual success to the work of the ministrv. he died 

In tike Mississippi Conference. 137 

from a cancer on the extremity of the spine, July 
20, 1834, full of faith and the Holy Ghost, aged 
seventy-six years. 

After the introduction of these clerical visitors, 
the Conference took up the regular business. John 
Mathews, Samuel Walker, Robert D. Smith, Wil- 
liam C. Gayle, John A. Cotton, Blanton P. Box, and 
Daniel H. Norwood were admitted on trial. Wil- 
liam Leggatt, Anderson C. McDaniel, John W 
Mann, William H. Turnley, Moses Perry, James A. 
Hughes, and Lewis S. Turner were continued on 
trial. Eugene V. Levert was discontinued at his 
own request. Richard H. Herbert, Joseph McDow- 
ell, Leroy Massengale, Orsamus L. Nash, Benjamin 
A. Haughton, and Jephthah Hughes were received 
into full connection, and all were ordained deacons 
except Leroy Massengale, who was not ordained 
until the next Conference. John Collier, formerly 
of this Conference, was readmitted in deacon's or- 
ders, and James H. Mellard, formerly of the South 
Carolina Conference, having been admitted into 
that Conference in 1801 and located in 1810, was re- 
admitted into our Conference in elder's orders. He 
proved to be a very valuable acquisition until his 
advanced age led him to retire again to the local 
ranks in 1833. John Cotton, John G. Lee, Robert 
L. Walker, Thomas E. Ledbetter, Thomas S. Aber- 
nathy, and William M. Curtis were elected to elder's 
orders, and all ordained except John G. Lee, who 
was absent. John O. T. Hawkins, William Stephen- 
son, Ashley Hewitt, and Thomas Owens were placed 
on the supernumerary roll, and Hugh A. McPhail 
was superannuated. John Cotton, John G. Lee, 

138 A Complete History of Methodism 

Francis R. Cheatham, Benjamin Dulaney, John R. 
Lambuth, Elijah B. McKay, and Elisha Lott were lo- 
cated at their own request. The loss of seven ef- 
fective men from our itinerant corps at one Con- 
ference was a very inconvenient loss. In order to 
supply each circuit with a preacher, we had to put 
young men just received on trial in charge of cir- 
cuits without a colleague. In those days no living 
provision had been made for the families of our 
traveling preachers, there not being a parsonage in 
the Conference, and many were compelled to retire 
to the local ranks to provide homes for their fami- 
lies. Bishop Soule had said at our Conference two 
years ago, on the location of a preacher, that he hoped 
the time would come when the question, "Who have 
located this year?" would be stricken from the list 
of questions at an Annual Conference. It may be 
the easiest way to relieve the bishop and his council 
of embarrassment to suggest the location of a man 
no longer to be depended on to do "the work of an 
evangelist," but in every case where a man is physic- 
ally, spiritually, and intellectually qualified to do 
the work of an itinerant preacher his location is an 
evil and a loss to the Church. Birdsong W M. Min- 
ter, M.D., Richard Pipkin, James Thompson, Jesse 
Redwine, William Taylor, John Pattern, and Archi- 
bald Pope, from the local brotherhood, were elected 
to deacon's orders, and none to elder's orders. 

Rev. Peter Akers was allowed a suitable oppor- 
tunity to address the Conference in the interest of 
Augusta College; and the Conference promised to 
patronize the institution. We perhaps wronged 
our own people by sending so much of our money 

In the Mississippi Conference. 139 

and patronage beyond the limits of our Conference 
before we determined to have a college of our own. 
We have learned to do better. 

Dr. Robert L. Kennon, Dr. Alexander Talley, and 
William V. Douglass were appointed a committee 
to visit the Elizabeth Academy, at Washington, six 
miles distant, and examine into its status and re- 
port to the Conference ; but the committee was aft- 
erwards excused, as there seemed to be no necessity 
for such examination and report, the Academy be- 
ing in a prosperous condition. 

Tuscaloosa had become a nourishing little city, 
and was one of the strongholds of Methodism in 
Alabama. The members and patrons of our Church 
in and around the city had become very anxious to 
establish a female academy there of high grade, and 
a gentleman by the name of Edward Simms made 
a generous proposition to this Conference through 
Rev. William Spruill, the stationed preacher, which 
was accepted. He proposed to build a suitable house 
on a lot of his own and place the premises under the 
entire control of the Conference, to be used exclu- 
sively for a female academy, until such time as the 
patrons of the school could purchase the property 
by paying him the original cost, with interest to 
date on the money vested, when he would settle it, 
in fee simple, on a Board of Trustees appointed by 
the Conference. Robert L. Kennon, William Spruill, 
Thomas E. Ledbetter, and Blanton P Box were ap- 
pointed a committee on the part of the Conference 
to negotiate with Mr. Simms for the transfer of the 
property; and Robert L. Kennon, B. B. Fontaine, 
Richardson Owen, Edward Simms, and Dennis Dent 

140 .1 Complete History of Methodism 

were appointed a Board of Trustees to hold the 
property in trust for the purposes of its creation. 
A desire was expressed to have the building so far 
completed during the incoming year as to be able 
to open the Academy immediately after the next 
annual session of the Conference, which was to be 
held in Tuscaloosa. 

The Conference again resolved to patronize the 
American Colonization Society, and recommended 
collections to be taken upon or about the 4th of 
July by all the preachers, and that the position of 
the Mississippi Conference in relation to the So- 
ciety be published in the African Repository and 
the Christian Advocate and Journal at New York. 
By the motion of Benjamin M. Drake, a committee 
of one was appointed by the President, consisting 
of Mr. Drake himself, to draw up and publish a pas- 
toral address to all the Churches within our bounds, 
laying before them the general state of the Church, 
with its present prospects, calling their attention 
to the subject of Sabbath schools, the importance of 
better attention to class meetings, the more ample 
support of our married traveling preachers, and the 
increasing necessity of building parsonages. Mr. 
Drake was the early and perpetual advocate of the 
parsonage system as an indispensable adjunct to 
our itinerant system. He richly deserved to live in 
a good parsonage, but died without the privilege. 

The Conference had some unpleasant cases among 
a few of the licentiates to dispose of. John W 
Mann, a probationer of two years, and Anderson C. 
McDaniel, a probationer of one year, were com- 
plained of for various indiscretions in their man- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 141 

ners, which rendered them unacceptable as preach- 
ers. John W. Mann was dropped from the list of 
those on trial by a vote of the Conference ; but on a 
subsequent day, after promises of amendment on 
his part, his case was reconsidered, and he was con- 
tinued on trial the third year; but there being no 
permanent improvement, at the next Conference he 
was finally discontinued. He was a young man of 
fair talents, but there was a determined rusticity 
in his manners which seemed incurable, and for 
which he was dropped after three years' trial. An- 
derson C. McDaniel was also very unclerical in his 
intercourse with the people both in public and pri 
vate, for which the Conference voted him an admoni- 
tion from the Bishop in the presence of the Con- 
ference, which he seemed to receive in the right spir- 
it; but he did not improve, and was formally 
dropped at the ensuing Conference. "The Lord of 
the harvest" makes no mistakes in calling and send- 
ing forth his laborers, and where the most unpromis- 
ing in human estimation "are truly called according 
to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ" to the office 
and work of the ministry, we may rest assured that, 
however hidden at first from our observation, they 
have all the implied talents to make acceptable and 
useful ministers of the New Testament, if they are 
obedient to their calling and faithful in discharging 
its duties. The body of ministers ought to be very 
faithful with and very forbearing toward unedu- 
cated and inexperienced young men in a state of 
trial in an Annual Conference; but our duty to the 
people, as well as to ourselves, requires that we lay 
them aside after sufficient trial attended with utter 

14:2 A Complete History of Methodism 

failure. The Conference also decided not to con- 
tinue Lewis S. Turner on trial a second year, but 
his case was reconsidered and he was continued. 
There was no objection either to his piety or pru- 
dence ; but his educational advantages were extreme- 
ly limited, he was excessively diffident, and im- 
proved so slowly that it was doubtful whether he 
could ever be developed into an acceptable and useful 
preacher. The trial of another year showed an en- 
couraging outcome, and he was admitted into full 
connection and ordained a deacon. He graduated in 
due course to elder's orders and traveled in our Con- 
ference until the Alabama Conference was organized, 
in Tuscaloosa, Ala., November 27, 1832, when he 
became a member of that body. His health having 
become impaired, he located at the end of 1833. The 
forbearance of the Conference toward his illiteracy 
and his slowly developing talents was not without 
good results in the end. 

The most painful occurrence of the Conference 
was that, the day before adjournment, some doc- 
uments were received from New Orleans affecting 
the character of our late missionary in the city. Rev. 
Peyton S. Greaves. A committee of three, consisting 
of Robert L. Kennon, Barnabas Pipkin, and Benja- 
min M. Drake, were appointed to examine the doc- 
uments and report thereon. They made a report 
the following morning, which was promptly rejected. 
What the report was, the Journal does not show 
As it was now too late in the session, and the par- 
ties at too great a distance from each other to admit 
of a fair and legal investigation of the conduct of 
Mr. Greaves, the Conference appointed the preachers 

In the Mississippi Conference. 143 

who might be stationed in New Orleans and Natch- 
ez a committee to investigate the conduct of Mr. 
Greaves while in New Orleans and report the result 
to the presiding elder of the district in which he 
might receive his appointment. This committee 
consisted of William M. Curtis, stationed at New 
Orleans, and Benjamin M. Drake, stationed at 
Natchez. Mr. Greaves was appointed to the Ala- 
bama Circuit as the junior of James H. Mellard, 
with Robert L. Kennon as the presiding elder of the 
Cahawba District. Mr. Greaves allowed himself to 
feel that this appointment was degrading to him, 
and he damaged his already arrested reputation by 
the lack of a cheerful submission to the appointing 
power. The fall and perversion of Mr. Greaves was 
a heavy though unavoidable calamity on our Con- 
ference. Though a man of superior talents, some- 
how he was not very well balanced, and some indis- 
cretions heretofore had called for the forbearance 
of his brethren. He seemed fully to appreciate his 
appointment as missionary to New Orleans, and en- 
tered upon his work with becoming^ zeal and prose- 
cuted it faithfully until the usual season for the 
yellow fever visitation, when he left on a long visit 
to relatives in Mississippi and Alabama. While he 
remained in the city he preached to good white and 
colored congregations in our little church on Gra- 
vier Street, adding some white and a large number 
of colored members to the classes; got up a Sab- 
bath school for the colored children numbering 
about seventy-five, a number of whom learned to 
read the New Testament fluently; established 
preaching, in conjunction with other ministers, to 

144 A Complete History of Methodism 

the marines on board the ships in the port of New 
Orleans; preached weekly to about two hundred 
convicts in the State prison, and distributed tracts 
among them; after sometime in April, by special 
request, he preached on every Monday evening about 
three miles above the city at a place called the Port 
of Orleans; and in all these departments, according 
to his report to the Missionary Secretary in July, 
he had encouraging success. He also took an en- 
larged Christian view of the densely settled coast 
above and below New Orleans, which contained 
many American families, and warmly advocated the 
introduction of missionaries among them. Alas 
that all these brightening prospects should have 
been blighted by an accusation of malfeasance in a 
money matter involving little over one hundred dol- 
lars ! Whether Mr. Greaves intentionallv did wrong 
or not, his connection with this little money affair 
got up such an excitement against him in New 
Orleans that it was thought best not to return 
him to the city. He was anxious to return, and 
was deeply mortified at not being returned. He 
went to Alabama with wounded feelings, and 
was especially grieved with a few of our lead- 
ing ministers who he supposed were personally in- 
imical to him. He indulged those ill feelings by 
writing and talking against some of his brethren 
until he greatly injured his spirituality- The com- 
mittee appointed to investigate Mr. Greaves's con- 
duct in New Orleans found ground of complaint 
against him, and referred their report to the pre- 
siding elder of the Oahawba District. 

Bishop Soule, on the Sabbath included in the 

In the Mississippi Conference. 145 

Conference session, preached one of his grand, 
weighty, and strictly orthodox sermons; and, from 
a conviction that its publication would be of great 
benefit both to our preachers and people, the Confer- 
ence, by formal vote, requested a copy for publica- 
tion. The Bishop did not absolutely refuse, but it 
was evident from his remarks that he did not wish 
to comply. He said that he never wrote a sermon 
before he preached it ; that if after he preached it he 
thought it worth preserving for future use, while it 
was fresh in his mind, he wrote such a memoranda 
as would enable him to call it up as occasion re- 
quired. A copy of the Bishop's sermon for publica- 
tion was never forthcoming. 

On the motion of William M. Curtis a resolution 
was introduced to decline the reappointment of any 
preacher to any pastoral charge who at the break- 
ing out of any epidemic disease, such as yellow fe- 
ver, should leave his work while he was himself in 
good health. The motion was earnestly discussed 
and finally referred to a special committee, who 
never reported. We had several cities in our Con- 
ference that were almost yearly visited by epidemic 
yellow fever; and,as the law of the Church limited 
the appointments of the preachers in those cities to 
two years, it was thought by many of our most ju- 
dicious, ministers to be risking too much to submit 
to an acclimating for so short a time. The dis- 
cussion of the subject, however, resulted in a wise 
modification of the pastoral term in New Orleans, 
which was the place most dreaded on account of yel- 
low fever. The General Conference held this year 
— 1828 — by special law authorized the Bishops to 

146 A Complete History of Methodism 

continue a preacher indefinitely in New Orleans. 
This special arrangement for New Orleans was con- 
tinued until the pastoral term was extended to four 
years, and pastoral charges so multiplied in the 
city that an acclimated pastor can be continued 
there a lifetime, if necessary, without any violation 
of law 

The Mississippi Female Assistance Society, at 
Washington, Miss., under the superintendence of 
Mrs. Caroline Matilda Thayer, Miss Mary Burruss, 
and other highly cultivated and zealous ladies of 
that community, continued to favor us annually 
with their contributions to eke out the salaries of our 
deficient itinerants who labored on the poorer cir- 
cuits and in the new settlements. This year they 
sent us four hundred and seventy dollars and thirty- 
seven and a half cents. The Conference acknowl- 
edged the kindness of those "elect ladies" by ap- 
pointing some one to address them a letter express- 
ive of our gratitude for their generosity The Con- 
ference approved, by formal resolution, Bishop 
Soule's determination to send a missionary to the 
Choctaw Indians. Dr. Alexander Talley was the 
man, if not the only man, in our Conference capa- 
ble of superintending this important mission, and 
we came very near losing his invaluable services by 
an incident which occurred during our present ses- 
sion. While Dr. Talley was living in Southeastern 
Alabama he had evidently sympathized with those 
who styled themselves "Reformers" and were advo- 
cating various radical changes in our Church pol- 
ity, at least so far as to encourage by his personal 
influence a free and full discussion of the mooted 

In the Mississippi Conference. 147 

points. He had, when appointed two years before 
to the Louisiana District, determined to abandon 
all further discussion of those vexed questions and 
devote his remaining days exclusively to the work 
of an Episcopal Methodist preacher, a determina- 
tion religiously adhered to. A few of our preachers 
allowed themselves to have some doubt of. the Doc- 
tor's loyalty to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and 
one of them, in writing to a young preacher in the 
Louisiana District, incautiously advised him to 
guard against being led astray by Dr. Talley's errat- 
ic views of Church government. The young preach 
er did not understand what his correspondent al- 
luded to. At Conference he called on the parties to 
explain. Thus the private correspondence came to 
the Doctor's ears; and so conscious was he of his 
innocence, and so deeply wounded to think that one 
of the leading members of Conference would en- 
deavor by private correspondence to prejudice one 
of his preachers against him, that he peremptorily 
asked a location, which was sorrowfully granted. 
The Doctor retired for the remainder of the day, and 
gave himself up to meditation and prayer. His 
troubled mind resumed its wonted calmness. He saw 
the impropriety, even gross injustice, of retiring 
from a Conference that had the utmost confidence in 
his loyalty to Episcopal Methodism, and loved him 
most dearly, because of the indiscretion of one or two 
members. He was early in the Conference room 
next morning and asked for a reconsideration of the 
vote by which he was located, remarking that the 
tie which bound him to us was too strong to be 
broken by any movement on his part. His request 

148 A Complete History of Methodism 

was instantly granted. There was an audible thrill 
of joy in the Conference at the triumph of grace. 
Suppose Dr. Talley had then located permanently, 
he might have gone into comparative, if not utter, 
obscurity and died without even a recorded obitu- 
ary. But his success in establishing a pure Chris- 
tianity in the Choctaw Nation of Indians has gained 
for him an immortalitv which will be coeval with 
the history of our aboriginal missions. 

We elected the following delegates to our ensuing 
General Conference, which was to assemble in the 
city of Pittsburg, Ta., May 1, 1828: William Wi- 
nans, John C. Burruss, Robert L. Kennon, Thomas 
Griffin, Benjamin M. Drake, and Barnabas Pipkin. 
They all attended except John C. Burruss, who was 
kept at home by domestic affliction. As our little 
wooden church in New Orleans, on Gravier Street, 
was not yet entirely out of debt, in the usual quaint 
language of the Journal, "On motion, William Wi- 
nans and Edward McGehee were reappointed agents 
of the New Orleans Meetinghouse business." Don't 
be discouraged! Methodism will loom up in New 
Orleans after a while. Her bright and glorious day 
of triumph is already dawning. 

The next session of the Conference was appointed 
to be held in Tuscaloosa, Ala., commencing Decern- 
ber 25, 1828. After an impressive address from 
Bishop Soule the appointments were announced, 
the Conference adjourned, and we immediately scat- 
tered to the four winds, as intent on doing our part 
to bring the world into subjection to Christ as ever. 
Indeed, after listening to one of Bishop Soule's thrill- 
ing addresses at the close of his Conferences about 

In the Mississippi Conference. 149 

the honor not only of laboring but of suffering in 
the cause of the Captain of our salvation, we felt 
like aspiring to deeds of heroic daring. 

We were able to station only fifty preachers in our 
vast Conference territory, and several of them on 
the supernumerary roll. We note only a few of the 
appointments. Any one wishing to see them all can 
find them in the General Minutes. William Stephen- 
son succeeded Alexander Talley on the Louisi- 
ana District, which now included five pastoral 
charges with an effective preacher on each ex- 
cept Lake Providence, where Ashley Hewitt still 
labored as a supernumerary. William M. Cur- 
tis was appointed to the New Orleans Mission and 
Thomas BurpO to that of Mobile — both good and 
faithful men, and above mediocrity in their pulpit 
abilities. Port Gibson, including one or two coun- 
try appointments detached from Bayou Pierre Cir- 
cuit, was made a station, with John O. T. Hawkins 
in charge. Bayou Pierre Circuit was divided. 
The southern half, lying mainly in Jefferson County 
on the waters of Coles Creek, received the name of 
Coles Creek; and the northern division retained the 
name of Bayou Eierre, and was extended eastward 
through Copiah County to include what had been 
Sweet Water Circuit. The preacher on Big Black 
Circuit was expected to follow up the new settlers 
in Hinds and Madison Counties as far as he had 
time and strength. Nearly half of Warren County, 
northeast of the open woods lately acquired from 
the Choctaw Indians, was being rapidly settled, as 
was also Yazoo County farther up the ridge be- 
tween the Yazoo and Big Black Rivers. The preach- 

150 A Complete History of Methodism 

er on Warren Circuit was expected to give what at- 
tention he could to those new settlements. The 
writer this year was in charge of Warren Circuit, 
which embraced the entire county, including the 
young but growing city of Vicksburg. He was fa- 
vored with the greatest revival ever known in War- 
ren County up to that date. A large number of the 
most substantial citizens of the county, including 
the Wrens, Gibsons, Lums, Gillespies, Whitakers, 
and many others, were added to the Church, most 
of whom were examples of piety until death. A 
glorious camp meeting was held at a place known as 
Wren's camp ground. At this camp meeting Thom- 
as Griffin, the presiding elder, preached on Sunday 
a most powerful sermon. His text was (Acts xiii. 
41) : "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: 
for I work a work in your days, a work which ye 
shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it 
unto you." The power of the Spirit without meas- 
ure seemed to rest both upon the preacher and the 
vast, awe-struck congregation. No more sinners 
were ever awakened under one of his sermons than 
were cut to the heart that day. The main body of 
his sermon was a successive declaration of incon- 
trovertible facts illustrative of what God had 
wrought through the preaching of the gospel in the 
face of opposition from the despisers of Christian- 
ity. That sermon was like the lightning and thun- 
der and flame on Sinai's burning brow. Numbers 
were received into the Church who dated their awak- 
ening from that sermon. John Lane, who was 
then local near Vicksburg, was our faithful and 
successful colaborer. The dear old patriarch, 

In the Mississippi Conference. 151 

Rev. Randall Gibson, the first man that ever 
joined the Methodist Episcopal Church south and 
west of the great Indian Nations, lived in the 
midst of the circuit, and, as a local preacher, was 
finishing up the work of a long life about as the 
apostle John did. Then, in the Open Woods, there 
was that indomitable little, decrepit layman, Rich- 
ard Featherstun, who in times of altar work hopped 
about on his rheumatic limbs as nimble as a spar- 
row. Another fact was one of the chief causes of 
this great revival : a large number of those who 
were brought into the kingdom of grace were the 
children of prayer. The Lums had been brought up 
by William and Rachel Foster, of Pine Ridge, at 
whose house our first Conference attended by a bish- 
op was held. The numerous branches of the Gibson 
family were also the children of many prayers and 
much Christian solicitude; and the same mav be 
said of many others. God will not suffer the ex- 
pectations of his faithful people to be disappointed. 
The young converts immediately betook themselves 
to the discharge of every duty, and both men and 
women soon became active and happy in bearing 
their part in all, the social meetings of the Church 
in singing, praying, and exhorting one another 
Many of them became great camp meeting folks 
and such was their eflflciencv and success in the al 
tar, tent, and woods prayer meetings that they be 
came extensively known as the Warren County Fire 
Company. The Gibsons especially excelled in the 
service of song. Gadi Gibson was certainly called 
of God to sing, judged by his well-trained and 
manly voice, trembling with emotion as he led the 

152 A Complete History of Methodism 

congregational choir in that delightful spiritual ex- 

Early in the fall we penetrated to the upper 
part of Yazoo County, held a two days' meeting at 
the house of a Brother Rule, organized a class, and 
appointed Burwell Scott class leader. This settlement 
was on the waters of Cypress Creek, and this soci- 
ety was the nucleus of the famous old Ebeneze? 
Church, so celebrated in after years for its lively 
membership and good camp meetings. We also con- 
solidated what members we found in and around 
Vicksburg into a regular Church organization. The 
first class consisted of Rev. John Lane and his fam- 
ily, including several of Rev. Newet Vick's children, 
Dr. Thomas Anderson and wife, Thomas Berry and 
wife, John Conn and wife, Mrs. Frances Cornell, 
Mrs. Minerva Wren (now the widow of Hon. W. L. 
Sharkey), Mrs. Mary Hashburger, Miss Matilda Fer- 
guson, and others. The usual place of worship was 
the upper story of a small frame building fitted up 
for a court room. The first two days' meeting in 
Vicksburg was held in a vacated hotel known as the 
Steamboat Hotel, which was tendered for the oc- 
casion by its owner, whose name was Cowan. At 
this meeting there was received into the Church the 
first probationer, whose name was William Chris- 
tian. The little Society was soon strengthened by 
other members moving into Vicksburg, so that in a 
few years it became a separate pastoral charge. Lit- 
tle change was made in the other districts and pas- 
toral charges for the want of preachers to occupy 
new circuits. A goodly number of local preachers 
emigrated to the Choctaw Purchase and supplied 

In the Mississippi Conference. 153 

many destitute neighborhoods with the public means 
of grace and prepared the way for the entrance of 
the itinerants in after years. In the Alabama part 
of our Conference our faithful pioneer traveling and 
local preachers and lay members had laid a broad 
and solid foundation upon which to build a model 
superstructure of aggressive and progressive Meth- 
odism, and no section of our Mississippi Conference 
has ever produced better specimens of preachers and 
laymen than the department of Alabama. 

John Mathews, received on trial at the late Con- 
ference, was converted in Claiborne County, Miss., 
in the vicinity of Dow's Mill. Soon he was called to 
take part in class and prayer meetings, and exhib- 
ited a fine gift for extemporaneous prayer. Aft- 
er twelve years of shrinking from duty his breth- 
ren rejoiced at the opportunity of recommending 
him for license to preach, and he was according- 
ly licensed and recommended to the itinerancy. He 
therefore entered the Conference, and traveled seven 
consecutive years, serving nearly all the large cir- 
cuits within his reach, for his family was too large 
to itinerate with him. He graduated to elder's or- 
ders, and was everywhere esteemed for his piety, 
talents, and close adherence to the doctrines and 
discipline of the Church. Afterwards he retired to 
the local ranks and labored in the ministry respect- 
ed and beloved until the close of life. He was one 
of the few men who could comprehend, retain, and 
successfully use Watson's Institutes in the pulpit. 
He has left the savor of a good name in all the coun- 
try where he went preaching the gospel. 

Robert D. Smith, who was admitted on trial at 

154 A Complete History of Methodism 

the same Conference, became a man of mark, and la- 
bored in itinerant work about eighteen years before 
his triumphant entrance into heaven. He was born 
of Presbyterian parents, in Lancaster County, Pa. ? 
October 21, 1802, but was mainly brought up in 
Champaign County, Ohio. After attaining the age 
of majority, he came to Wilkinson County, Miss., 
and opened a school in a Methodist church on 
Percy's Creek. While here, he boarded with Mr. 
James Laird and his excellent wife, who were con- 
sistent members of our Church. Mr. Smith was 
strongly prejudiced against the Methodists, but 
his association with this amiable and pious family 
removed his prejudices and opened the Way for him 
to be benefited by Methodist preaching, which he 
regularly attended in the church where he taught 
his school. Under the preaching of Thomas Clinton 
and Barnabas Pipkin, who were on Wilkinson Cir- 
cuit in 1824, he was awakened and united with the 
Church on Percy's Creek. 

Mr. Smith was licensed to exhort in the fall of 
1826 and commenced traveling with Miles Harper 
on Pearl River Circuit. Early in 1827 he was li- 
censed to preach, and employed the remainder of 
the year by Mr. Winans, the presiding elder, first 
on Wilkinson and afterwards on Pearl River Cir- 
cuit, from whence he was recommended to the An- 
nual Conference. He was appointed this year in 
charge of Amite Circuit, with Isaac V. Enochs as his 
colleague, subject to the call of Dr. Talley to go as 
assistant missionary to the Choctaw Nation. In the 
summer he received from the Doctor a letter stating 
that the increasing religious interest among the In- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 155 

dians required his services immediately. Mr. Smith 
at once repaired to Washington, where the family 
of John W. Bryan furnished him with a portable 
cloth tent, camp kettle, and other little conveniences 
for camp life, with which he set off in time to reach 
the Nation on the 15th of August. For the next 
eighteen years he was one of the most laborious 
ministers in the Mississippi Conference. 

William Stephenson, who was this year presiding 
elder of the Louisiana District, was one of the most 
interesting and useful ministers in the Conference. 
He was born of Presbyterian parents in South Car- 
olina, near a place called Ninety-Six, October 4, 
1768. He was the subject of early religious impres- 
sions, which he attributed to the teaching, example, 
and prayers of his pious mother. About 1792 he 
emigrated to Tennessee ; and on the first day of June, 
1800, he was converted and joined the Methodist 
Episcopal Church. He labored as a local preacher 
until 1815, when he was admitted on trial into the 
Tennessee Conference, which then embraced Mis- 
souri. He was forty-seven years old when he en- 
tered the itinerancy, and yet he was connected with 
Annual Conferences thirty-nine years. His first ap- 
pointment was to a circuit in Missouri called Belle- 
vue. At the end of that year Missouri and Arkan- 
sas were erected into a separate Conference called 
Missouri, in the bounds of which Mr. Stephenson 
continued to labor — mostly in Southern Arkansas — 
until 1826, when he moved to Northern Louisiana, 
and in 1827 was transferred to the Mississippi Con- 
ference. During his connection with Annual Con- 
ferences he labored on circuits twelve years and on 

156 A Complete History of Methodism 

large districts ten ; the remainder of the thirty -nine 
or forty years he was superannuated on account of 
extreme old age, having died in the eighty-ninth 
year of his age. Mr. Stephenson was a small man, 
compactly built, lithe and active, and capable of 
great endurance; with rather a small face, long 
nose, and a natural or accidental defect in the up- 
per lid of one eye, by which the ball was about half 
obscured, which gave him, when quiet, a sleepy ap- 
pearance. When in a state of repose, there was 
nothing in his countenance to indicate his superior 
intellectuality but the luster of his quick, flashing, 
and penetrating eye. He had not the shadow of a 
doubt as to the truth of the glorious and awful doc- 
trines of the gospel, and he preached in view of the 
final results of the gospel scheme both to those who 
received it and those who rejected it. In all his pub- 
lic exercises he was short and direct. In his prayers, 
exhortations, and sermons there was nothing re- 
dundant on the one hand, while on the other there 
was no deficiency The most listless and cap- 
tious hearers could not justly complain of the length 
of his prayers or sermons, and they could not be 
uninterested. He was a sharpshooter, and every- 
body was apt to be hit somewhere who came within 
the range of his gospel missiles. He was in the 
proper sense a revivalist. He was, with his excel- 
lent wife, industrious and economical in his domes- 
tic affairs, and always seemed to have a comforta- 
ble living; but devoting himself so exclusively to 
the work of the ministry, mostlv in new countries, 
he passed through his long life with but little prop- 
erty. He had been placed on the superannuated list 

In the Mississippi Conference. 157 

temporarily several times before, but he was seven- 
ty-nine years old when he filled his last pastoral 
charge and was finally superannuated. He enjoyed 
a high state of communion with God to the last, and 
died in holy triumph March 5, 1857, in his eighty- 
ninth year. 

Among the local preachers elected to deacon's or- 
ders at the late Conference is the name of Dr. Bird- 
song W. M. Minter. He was born August 11, 1793, 
in Chatham County, N. C. His parents were wor- 
thy members of the Baptist Church. When ten oc 
twelve years old, there was a great revival of re- 
ligion among the Baptist Churches in his vicinity, 
attended with those extraordinary bodily exercises 
which were so common among the Presbyterians and 
Methodists in Tennessee and Kentuckv about the 
same period. Some would fall suddenly to the 
ground and lay apparently lifeless for some time; 
others would leap and dance for joy; while others 
would manifest the distraction and nge of despair. 
He believed the hand of God was in this great work, 
and became unspeakably distressed because he was 
not a subject of those physical exercises upon which 
so much stress was laid as evidences of a work of 
grace. Fearing tlaat he was more sinful than those 
who were favored, as he thought, with those out- 
ward manifestations, he betook himself to private 
prayer ; and soon, while pouring out the full tide of 
"a broken and a contrite heart," he felt the forgive- 
ness of his sins and was filled with unspeakable joy. 
When he arose from his knees and looked around, he 
felt as though every visible object united with him 
in adoring and praising the God of love. As he was a 

158 A Complete History of Methodism 

mere child, thought by many to be too young for 
Church membership, little attention was paid to his 
religious state by the leaders in Church matters. It 
was the fault of the Church that this tender lamb of 
Christ's flock was left to struggle alone with tempta- 
tion. The members of the Church paid little attention 
to him, gave him little instruction and encourage- 
ment, leaving it all for the Lord to do, as they said. 
The result was that he became discouraged, de- 
clined in his religious enjoyment, lost his assur- 
ance of the power of God, and neglected his private 
prayers. However, from about the age of fifteen 
years he generally led a very moral life, and daily 
attended to his private prayers. He often thought 
seriously about joining the Church, but found great 
difficulty in settling his religious creed. He felt, 
with the Bible in his hand, that he could not be a 
Calvinist, and to unite with a Calvinistic Church 
would, in his estimation, be a damaging inconsisten- 
cy. In steering away from the horrors of Calvinistic 
reprobation he fell into the vagaries of Universal- 
ism, believing it more consonant with a God whose 
nature is love to save all men ultimately than to 
create a number of angels and men merely for the 
purpose of displaying his vindictive wrath in their 
damnation. Being yet unacquainted with the or- 
thodox Arminian creed, he wandered on alone in 
the service of God, without an assurance of his ac- 
ceptance in Christ until the fall of 1821. When he 
was about nineteen years of age, the family removed 
to Tennessee. His parents being in good circum- 
stances had given him a good literary education; 
and soon after his removal to Tennessee he com- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 159 

menced the study of law, but some incident changed 
his purpose to the study of medicine. He placed 
himself under the preceptorship of Dr. James C. 
O'Reilly, of Maury County, Tenn., and after prose- 
cuting his studies successfully for some time he 
came down to Jefferson County, Miss., in 1815, and 
taught school in the neighborhood of Caneridge 
Church. After replenishing his funds, he returned 
to Tennessee and resumed his medical studies under 
his former preceptor until he gave him a certificate 
of his entire qualification to practice medicine and 
surgery and recommended him highly as a young 
gentleman of rigid probity and unblemished moral- 
ity. He then returned to Mississippi ; and after hav- 
ing obtained the necessary credentials from the 
Board of Medical Censors, and being united in mar- 
riage to Miss Nancy Mariah Watkins, a former pu- 
pil of his, in 1820, he settled in the village of Shanks- 
town in the practice of his profession. He was very 
attentive to preaching and respectful to all religious 
worship, but at this time was not a professor of re- 
ligion, though an honest inquirer after truth. In 
the summer of 1821 John Seaton, who was on Clai- 
borne Circuit, held a two days' meeting at the first 
Caneridge Church,' assisted by Moses Trader, an ex- 
member of the Ohio Conference. On the Sabbath 
the vast congregation was provided for under the 
shade of the trees, and a log of large size substituted 
for a pulpit. Mr. Trader preached a very convincing 
and overwhelming sermon on the subject of free 
salvation to all who would accept it on gospel terms, 
and inevitable and hopeless damnation to all who 
persistently neglected it. Dr, Minter, William M, 

160 A Complete History of Methodism 

Curtis, and John G. Jones (all of whom became 
ministers), with many others, were powerfully 
awakened under that sermon, and received their 
first decided bias toward the Methodist Church. Dr. 
Minter said he had now found the doctrine upon 
which his faith could rest satisfied, and forever re- 
jected both Calvinism and Universalism, and turned 
his attention to a careful study of the doctrines and 
discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 
about two months, at the Red Lick Camp Meeting, 
he and his young wife united with the Church. Re- 
turning home, he immediately established family 
prayer and commenced a systematic observance of 
all his assumed obligations as a professed follower 
of Christ. In a short time, at one of the ordinary 
Church meetings at Ebenezer, near his residence, 
where he had placed his membership, he received an 
overwhelming sense of the favor and love of God. 
The Doctor was now a new man ; and, in accordance 
with that most admirable and universal plan of the 
Methodists in those days, he was immediatelv in- 
vited to take an active part in the social meetings 
of the Church. He procured a small library of our 
standard works; and being a rapid and retentive 
reader, he soon became familiar with the doctrines, 
history, and usages of the Church of his choice. He 
was licensed to preach by the District Conference 
in the fall of 1822, and for about seventeen years 
was received everywhere as one of our most talented 
and influential local preachers. He was quite above 
the ordinary size of men, and after passing the age 
of thirty-five he was quite inclined to corpulency; 
his head was large, his hair dark, and his eyes blue; 

In the Mississippi Conference. 161 

he had a large oval face finely chiseled and a coun- 
tenance mild and expressive of universal benevo- 
lence. He was refined and polished in his manners 
and had personal dignity enough for an archbishop, 
blended with the most affectionate simplicity of in- 
nocent childhood. His mind was remarkably sym- 
metrical, and its native superiority and advanced 
cultivation were plainly visible; yet such were his 
social qualities that the most unlettered of his breth- 
ren felt free from embarrassment in their intercourse 
with him. He was a critical scholar. The writer 
acknowledges him as the best and most faithful lit- 
erary friend he ever had. He watched over us with 
a brother's care from 1822, when we first began to 
speak in public, until his death, in 1839 ; and if he 
noticed any error in our pronunciation, use of a 
word, or construction of a sentence, he never failed 
to embrace the first opportunity in private to point 
it out and make the necessary correction. As we 
entered the ministry with a very limited education, 
we devoutly thank God to this day for blessing us 
with such a competent and faithful preceptor as Dr. 
Minter. He became npted as one of the very best 
physicians in all the country. The accession of Dr. 
and Mrs. Minter to our Church was the entering 
wedge of Methodism into the family of our worthy 
fellow-citizen, Mr. Asa Watkins. The mother and 
all the daughters and several of the sons, with their 
descendants, * became Methodists ; and two of the 
sons, Rev. William H. Watkins,- D.D., and Rev. Cal- 
vin C. Watkins, became itinerant ministers, and are 
now (1875) members of the Mississippi Conference. 
This is a fact that we have often noticed with great 

162 A Complete History of Methodism 

pleasure. If the first of a family who unite with 
our Church become spiritual Christians and live 
consistently pious lives, the other members of the 
family are apt to follow them in forming their 
Church relations, even from generation to genera- 
tion. Dr. Minter was noted for his liberality. Aft- 
er having acquired a competency by his practice in 
Jefferson County with several leading ^families, he 
removed to Madison County, in the New Purchase, 
and procured lands when they were cheap, and by 
selling them after they appreciated in value he be- 
came possessed of a fine estate. This only made his 
liberality the more extensive. His first care, after 
contributing to the erection of a neighborhood 
church, was the support of his pastor and presiding 
elder; then came the missionary and colonization 
causes and the Methodist Book Concern, lately de- 
stroyed by fire ; then came the interest of education, 
which always lay near his heart. He never had any 
children of his own to educate, and vet few men 
with children were more devoted to the cause of lib- 
eral education than he was. He was one of the most 
prominent and liberal projectors and builders of 
the town of Sharon, with its churches and male 
and female colleges, and at the time of his death one 
could stand on his gallery and see thousands of 
dollars' worth of public property brought into use- 
fulness by his liberality and influence. On one side 
of his house could be seen a twelve-acre lot occupied 
by the Methodist church and public cemetery; ad- 
joining this, a twenty-five-acre lot, on which was the 
presiding elder's parsonage with its ample surround- 
ings; antf another twenty-five-acre lot, on which 

In the Mississippi Conference. 163 

stood the parsonage for Madison Circuit — all do- 
nated in fee simple to the Church. On the other side 
were the male and female colleges, with other build- 
ings important to seminaries of learning — to all of 
which he contributed largely of his money and in- 
fluence. The Doctor's commanding person filled a 
pulpit admirably; his voice was manly and his de- 
livery was like the graceful flowing of a smooth 
river ; his style was pure Wesleyan, and he preached 
exclusively on doctrinal, experimental, and practi- 
cal religion as set forth in the Holy Scriptures. 
Though often urged by his brethren in the ministry, 
he would never consent to receive elder's orders, as- 
signing as a reason that, while he was satisfied of 
his call to be a lay preacher, he could not say that 
he felt in his heart "truly called, according to the 
will of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the order of elder." 
For six or eight years before his death he was grad- 
ually declining under the influence of some disease 
which was difficult to detect. Finally, in the fall 
of 1838, he became satisfied that his end was near. 
On the 28th of October he preached his last sermon 
in the church at Sharon, and felt a strong convic- 
tion while in the pulpit that it was his last, and 
made known his impression to his congregation. 
On the last night of 1838, by his request, a few 
brethren met at his house and united with him in 
watch night services, that he might renew his cove- 
nant with God and enter the new year with greater 
devotion to his service. On the 10th of March, 1839 
(the church being near his house), he met with us 
in love feast for the last time. He rose to his feet, 
emaciatecl and trembling with extreme weakness, 

164 A Complete History of Methodism. 

and said that his confidence in the truth of Chris- 
tianity was unshaken ; that it was just what he had 
taken it to be in health and sickness, in life and in 
death ; that he was then unspeakably happy, and had 
never been more so. He then bade us as a Church 
an affectionate and final farewell on earth, saying 
that he expected to meet with us no more in our 
militant state. We were then his nearest neighbor; 
and when the labors of a large district would per- 
mit, we spent much of our time, day and night, by 
his bedside, and never before had we learned so fullv 
how rationally, how calmly, how full of joy and tri- 
umph a mature Christian could descend to the tomb. 
He had religious services regularly in his chamber, 
in which he always joined. He was never gloomy 
or low spirited. He often conversed about his 
approaching death with his usual broad, benevo- 
lent, and happy smile, amounting almost to laugh- 
ter. He requested the writer to preach his funeral, 
and selected for the text 1 Timothy i. 15: "This is a 
faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that 
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; 
of whom I am chief." This was most religiously ob- 
served in the presence of one of the largest congre- 
gations ever gathered in the Sharon church. On the 
10th of April, 1830, just as the sun was sinking be- 
low the horizon, he quietly fell asleep and entered 
into rest. 



It was a sublime spectacle to see Dr. Alexander 
Talley, with what personal and camp equipments 
one horse could carry, plunge into the almost un- 
broken forests of the Choctaw Nation of Indians. 
Dr. Talley was a highly cultivated man, a minister 
and physician. Socially, he had moved in our most 
intelligent, wealthy, and refined society. All this he 
exchanged for a wandering life in Indian wilds, 
where he often slept on the ground with only his 
cloth tent to shield him from the dews and rain and 
sleet, with coarse fare and coarser associates in the 
way of Indian hunters and warriors, and with no pe- 
pecuniary compensation in prospect beyond a very 
meager sustenance. But why did he (now beyond 
the middle of life) make this great sacrifice and 
doom himself to certain poverty, suffering, and ex- 
hausting toil? "The love of Christ constrained 
him." He was unwilling for those "to perish for 
whom Christ had died" if he could become instru- 
mental in their salvation. And why should he not 
feel just that way? Was he not in the regular apos- 
tolic succession? Why, then, like his great Exem- 
plar, should he not transcend the limits of civiliza- 
tion to preach the gospel to the heathen? Dr. Tal- 
ley had now been in the ministrv about nineteen 
years, and had labored in circuits and city stations, 


166 A Complete History of Methodism 

and for the last two years had been on the Louisi- 
ana District; but no young man in the Conference 
received his appointment more cordially than he 
did. He seemed to feel called of God to preach the 
gospel to our heathen neighbors, who had hitherto 
been ''strangers from the covenants of promise, hav- 
ing no hope, and without God in the world." He 
was now a widower, without children, and had no 
domestic ties nor secular business to prevent his 
entire devotion to his new field of labor. As soon 
after Conference as he could get his outfit ready 
he went to the Nation. He first sought an acquaint- 
ance with the chiefs, several of whom were partly 
white and could speak broken English. Numbers of 
white men also had married Indian women and 
were settled on the highways as innkeepers or 
tradesmen, and became serviceable in entertaining 
him and introducing him to the natives. Hitherto 
the missionaries of other denominations had thought 
that the way to approach these benighted sons and 
daughters of Adam was through the enlightenment 
and cultivation of their intellectual faculties. 
Hence they generally located a missionary station, 
preached through an interpreter to as many as 
would come to hear them, established a school for 
the education of the young, taught the common arts 
of civilized life, and by this slow process hoped to 
raise up a generation of Christians. Dr. Talley be- 
lieved that the gospel, preached "in demonstration 
of the Spirit and of power," was adapted to save the 
most illiterate and fallen of our race. Hence he 
commenced at the heart and sought its regeneration 
and renewal "in righteousness and true holiness." 

In the Mississippi Conference. 167 

He taught them in short paragraphs the history of 
man's creation and fall, his universal depravity and 
helplessness as a sinner, and his consequent unfit- 
ness for heaven and exposure to hell ; then he would 
add a paragraph on the atonement, with all mani- 
festations of divine pity and love for lost man ; and 
then another on the nature and necessity of "re- 
pentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord 
Jesus Christ," showing that sinners of every grade 
were capable by the power of the Holy Ghost of 
performing these conditions of salvation, enforcing 
all by the usual promises of salvation here from the 
power of sin and of glory hereafter. And were not the 
views of Dr. Talley entirely scriptural? Dr. Talley 
did not propose to establish a missionary station, 
but to travel a missionary circuit; hence, after se- 
curing the best available interpreter, he traveled 
from neighborhood to neighborhood preaching the 
word everywhere, with the usual attendants of sing- 
ing, praying, and private instruction. From the fact 
that his first interpreters were not themselves con- 
verted he found it difficult to explain the nature of 
experimental religion, but he seemed to have divine 
assurance that the^blessing of God would follow his 
own word and make it accomplish that whereto he 
sent it. It was some time after he entered the Na- 
tion before he could get an interpreter of any sort 
to travel with him. During this interval he spent 
his time mainly in visiting and teaching the whites, 
half-bloods, and others who could understand some 
English. Finding that the Presbyterian missionary 
stations and schools were exclusively in the eastern 
and northern parts of the Nation, and that the 

168 A Complete History of Methodism 

Western District, lying on the head waters of 
Pearl and Big Black Rivers, was entirely desti- 
tute of missionary labor, he determined to devote 
his attention mainly to it. The ruling family of 
this district was by the name of Leflore. A French 
adventurer by the name of Leflore had married a 
Choctaw woman and settled as a trader and inn- 
keeper on the Natchez and Nashville Trace at a 
place long known as the French Camps, not far 
north of the present town of Kosciusko. By this 
marriage Leflore had a large family of children — 
well-behaved, industrious, and thrift}^ for half-blood 
Tndians. One of the young women married a white 
man by the name of Reuben Harris, a mail contract- 
or on the Natchez and Nashville Trace. In 1828 he 
lived just north of the Indian line, near Doak's 
Stand. He had quite a family of pretty, orange- 
complexioned children, and kept a good wayside stop- 
ping place. Another one of the girls married a 
white man by the name of Wilson, who kept a good 
eating and lodging house on the Robison Road. One 
of the young men, Benjamin Leflore, married a 
light-colored Indian woman and brought up a beau- 
tiful family of brunette daughters. He also lived 
on the Robison Road, east of Yokanoocana River, 
and kept an excellent stand for travelers. He re- 
mained on his reservation when his tribe immi- 
grated to the West, and brought up and educated 
his family as did his white neighbors. His daugh- 
ters were received into the best society (as they de- 
served to be) , and all married white men. The most 
talented and influential of all the Leflore family 
was Col. Greenwood Leflore, at this time Chief 

In ike Mississippi Conference. 169 

of the Western District. When a youth, Greenwood 
was sent to Nashville, Tenn., to be educated. He as 
sumed the costume and manners of a young gentle- 
man of quality, behaved well, and kept the best so- 
ciety. It was known that he belonged to a wealthy 
and influential family in his Nation. While in 
Nashville, he won the heart and hand of a beautiful 
maiden belonging to an elevated family. Her par- 
ents not consenting to the marriage, true to the in- 
stincts of her affections and pledged fidelity, she 
eloped and came with her husband to his home on 
Yokanoocana. She had married him with the ex- 
pectation of becoming identified with the Nation. 
Colonel Leflore had an ample fortune, and drew 
around his family all the comforts of civilization. 
William Leflore, a younger brother, married a light- 
complexioned Cherokee woman of very ladylike ap- 
pearance. They also adopted the costume and man- 
ners of their white neighbors. Col. Greenwood Le- 
flore, having been elected Chief of the Western Dis- 
trict, took a patriotic interest in everything that 
tended to the civilization and Christianization of 
his jsebple. He received Dr. Talley with a liberal 
hospitality, and cordially invited him to make his 
headquarters at his house. The Doctor gladly ac- 
cepted the invitation, being assured that the patron- 
age of the Chief would greatly tend to the promotion 
of the mission. Greenwood Leflore was. a fluent 
public speaker and a first-class interpreter. Wil- 
liam Leflore was also a good interpreter, and the 
two brothers were of great service to the mission 
as local interpreters. The Doctor was also greatly 
aided by others who, though they could not be de- 

170 A Complete History of Methodism 

pended upon to interpret his religious discourses, 
could tell the people who he was, who sent him 
among them, and what was the object of his mission. 
Early in April Dr. Talley procured an interpreter 
to travel with him, but soon found that his native 
timidity would not admit of his interpreting to large 
congregations. To obviate this difficulty he adopt- 
ed the plan of family visiting, and would pitch his 
tent near one or more huts and propose either to 
receive them at his tent or to go to their huts to 
teach them the truths of Christianity They gen- 
erally preferred coming to his tent, and there were 
often gathered from twenty-five to fifty persons, to 
whom he would discourse from one to two hours, 
frequently delivering two such discourses on the 
same day at different places. When he visited the 
larger villages, he would pitch his tent near the 
headman's house and secure his patronage, which 
was generally very cordially granted. He would 
then send out his interpreter to invite all who were 
disposed to come to his tent and hear the good talk 
that their Great Father above had sent them. He 
would continue this course for several days until he 
could see that an interest was awakened, and then 
he would appoint a general assembly to hear a sum- 
ming up of what he had been teaching them in the 
smaller assemblies. He was often greatlv encour- 
aged by the respectful solemnity with which they 
listened; and from the hope that some expressed that 
they would get holy hearts and be able to live holy 
lives, he believed that the Holy Ghost was apply- 
ing the word to their hearts. On one occasion Chief 
Leflore sent out one of his captains to invite his 

In the Mississippi Conference. 171 

people to come and hear the good talk which their 
white brother had brought them. A large number 
came, to whom he discoursed for more than an hour, 
Colonel Leflore acting as interpreter. He then re- 
quested the audience to make any inquiry of him 
that they saw proper. Several important questions 
were asked and satisfactorily answered. The chief 
captain expressed great satisfaction that he had 
been permitted to live until the good talk had been 
brought to him; said his parents knew nothing 
about it, but he hoped to learn more of these great 
truths. The meeting was then concluded by prayer, 
but before the assembly dispersed Colonel Leflore 
ordered a herald to call in all the strangers to hear 
him and the captains, when each in his turn pressed 
upon them the importance of the truths they had 
heard and the necessity of changing their way of 
living and following the teaching of the Good Book, 
which their Great Father in heaven had sent them 
to show them the way to holiness and eternal life. 
On another occasion Dr. Talley attended a council 
which the chief had called on important public 
business. It took the council nearly half a day to 
get organized for business, during which time the 
missionary asked and answered a great many ques- 
tions through Colonel Leflore in regard to the 
truths of the gospel. When the council was organ- 
ized, the chief requested Dr. Talley to open with 
prayer to the Great Spirit for his blessing on their 

The Choctaws have been from time immemorial 
a very docile and tractable tribe of Indians. Tra- 
dition says that they had some bloody wars in the 

172 A Complete History of Methodism 

long ago with other tribes, but they have never been 
known to take up arms against the white race. 
Apart from the evils consequent on drunkenness, 
which thev learned from the whites, and some other 
practices, such as polygamy, which were the result 
of their almost utter moral darkness, they possessed 
in an eminent degree what we may call heathen 
morality. They generally respected each other's 
private and social rights. Their women were re- 
markable for female modesty and chastity. In their 
utter ignorance of the laws of God they were some- 
what loose in the perpetuity of their marriage obli- 
gations; but while they lived together as husband 
and wife, they were generally true to each other; 
and when they separated (as they sometimes did), 
the women were seldom known to go astray, and 
when opportunity offered took another husband. 
Except when under the influence of whisky they 
lived peaceably together. In the fall and winter 
months they came down in droves from the Nation 
and spread themselves all through the white set- 
tlements, the men hunting and the women and lar- 
ger children making cane baskets and picking cot- 
ton. The women were remarkable for their indus- 
try; but when the men were not hunting, dressing 
deerskins, or making blowguns, they were generally 
lounging about their camp fires. They would not steal 
pigs, corn, or anything else ; but if they were hungry, 
they were not backward in asking for something to 
eat. They were always pleased to have the white 
people learn their language, so as to converse with 
them in their native dialect. Their ideas of moral 
truth were exceedingly limited. They believed that 

In the Mississippi Conference. 173 

there was a Great Being somewhere who had cre- 
ated the visible heavens and earth with all their eon- 
tents, but they did not know where he lived nor any 
means bv which they could have anv communication 
with him. They believed that good people would go 
to a place of health, peace, and plenty after death, 
and that bad people w T ould go to a place of an oppo- 
site character. One thing remarkable is that they 
did not have in their native tongue any words to 
make what we call a blasphemous oath. Pity that 
our elevated Christian language could not be thus 

No man ever had more confidence in the inherent 
power of gospel truth to save the soul than Dr. 
Talley. He believed that if he could only get the car- 
dinal truths of Christianity fairly before the minds 
of the Indians God would attend them by the power 
of the Holy Ghost, so as to make them effectual in 
the salvation of these children of the forest. He 
found the more elevated class of Choctaws every- 
where anxious for schools, but he did not care to 
spend much of his time in that direction until he 
got a fair proportion of them brought into the king- 
dom of Christ. Dr. Talley was not only a man "full 
of faith and the Holy Ghost," but he knew how to 
take advantage of the tide of public feeling in order 
to secure the great object of his mission. 

By the first of July prospects were very encour- 
aging. The chief and most of the headmen were 
decidedly in favor of the Christianization of the 
Nation. There was a general inquiry among the 
people as to what this new doctrine might be. The 
Doctor determined to take advantage of these evi- 

174 A Complete History of Methodism 

dent workings of the Spirit of truth in the hearts 
of the people. He suggested to Colonel Leflore the) 
advisability of having a Choctaw camp meeting. The 
Colonel and most of the leading men of his district 
favored it. The place selected was about ten miles 
above the white settlements, a little to the right of 
the Nashville Trace going north. The plan was to 
get Messrs. Cooper, Walker, and other leading Meth- 
odist families below the line to come up with their 
wagons and show the Indians how to have camp 
meeting. The Leflores and several of the captains 
would also camp. The meeting was appointed to 
commence on the 15th of August. Dr. Talley im- 
mediately wrote for his reserve, Robert D. Smith, 
to come to the camp meeting prepared to remain 
in the Nation, and also to Father Isaac Smith to 
come with him, as he was experienced in preach- 
ing through an interpreter, having been a mission- 
ary among the Creek Indians. He also wrote 
to us at Vicksburg to come to his assistance to 
preach to the white people who would be present. 
At Clinton we fell in with the Smiths. Just after 
crossing the line we stopped for dinner and rest at 
the home of Reuben Harris, the brother-in-law 
of Colonel Leflore. He was not a professor of 
religion, but requested Father Smith to baptize his 
five children, which he proceeded to do. We pro- 
ceeded to the camp ground. But such a prospect for 
a camp meeting we had never seen. Dr. Talley's 
little cloth tent was the only one visible, inside of 
which he and a stout Indian man sat on the ground 
enjoying a social smoke of the pipe. A rude tri- 
angular pulpit had been frapaed between three trees, 

In the Mississippi Conference. 175 

and a few small logs split in halves had been placed 
around for seats; no other signs of a camp meeting 
to be seen. Robert D. Smith erected his tent beside 
the Doctor's, which made ample room for all the 
preachers and "congregation that night. Dr. Talley 
told us not to be discouraged by appearances, that 
the people would begin to come in next morning. 
Colonel and William Leflore came with their fami- 
lies, also Captains Offa Homa, Washington, and 
other headmen, and by about ten o'clock we were 
ready for preaching. Father Smith and Greenwood 
Leflore stood beside each other ready for the work 
before them. The Choctaw Indians have the great- 
est confidence in the opinions and truthfulness of 
old men. Father Smith first told them that by the 
invitation of their good brother, Dr. Talley, he had 
come a long journey to bring the good talk to them, 
and that they might know from his gray hairs that he 
would not deceive them. He then preached to them 
in short paragraphs, each paragraph containing 
some cardinal doctrine in the plan of salvation. He 
dwelt particularly on the love of our Great Father 
above in sending his Son to die for the redemption 
of his lost children. At the end of each paragraph 
ColonerLeflore would take that for his text and lit- 
erally preach a short expository sermon on it. 
Though not yet a professor of religion, he spoke flu- 
ently, eloquently, and feelingly. In accordance with 
a prevailing fashion he wore a calico morning gown, 
and his clear, sonorous voice and appropriate and 
earnest gestures gave him more the appearance of a 
Methodist preacher than the Chief of a Nation. 
William Leflore also agisted in the interpretation^ 

176 A Complete History of Methodism 

but he had not the fluency and moving eloquence of 
his brother. Thus the service proceeded from hour 
to hour during each day. At the second or third 
service native Indian men and women were weeping 
all over the congregation. Sitting among these un- 
tutored children of the wilderness and seeing the 
melting and subduing effect of the gospel upon them, 
it seemed as though eighteen hundred years of the 
world's history had mysteriously disappeared, and 
we had been drawn back into the apostolic age, 
where Paul and his colleagues preached the same 
gospel so successfully to the wild Scythians and 
other barbarians of their day. We had just read 
the first volume of Watson's Institutes, and believed 
that his arguments in favor of the divine origin and 
truthfulness of Christianitv are unanswerable; but 
no argument of Watson or any other man was ever 
so convincing that "the gospel of Christ is the pow- 
er of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" 
as the effect it had on these sons and daughters of 
utter moral darkness. By Saturday night the awak- 
ening was so general that Dr. Talley and Father 
Smith proposed to call the penitents to the altar 
for prayer and special instruction. This they had 
to do through their interpreter; but Colonel Leflore 
had been well prompted, and he did it in Methodist 
preacher fashion. A large number knelt at the al- 
tar. The two Leflores went among the kneeling pen- 
itents and talked to them in their own language. 
We noticed Mrs. William Leflore, a noble-looking 
woman, weeping as though her heart were utterly 
dissolved in penitential sorrow. Knowing that she 
could speak broken English pretty well, we ap- 

In the Mississippi Conference, 177 

proached her and began to speak words of comfort 
and "incouragement, when she exclaimed: "O Mr. 
Jones, my heart is so hard! My heart is so hard! 
If. 1 could only get clear of this hard heart, then I 
would have some hope !" How natural was that 
experience and that exercise in one just passing 
through the pangs' of the new birth ! She after- 
wards became one of the "elect ladies" of the Church. 
But the most exciting scene at the altar that night 
was the case of a. full-blood woman who fell under 
the power of the Spirit, an incident common in va-\ 
rious States during the first two decades of the pres- 
ent century. When we first noticed the woman, she 
was lying out at full length, motionless, and appar- , 
ently dead. Several of her. associates were very' 
much alarmed, and commenced shaking her violent- 
ly as if to make her catch her breath. As our in- 
terpreters were engaged elsewhere, we approached 
the alarmed party — all of whom seemed to be full- 
blood natives— and made use of a few words of their 
language, which we had learned, to assure them that 
the woman was neither dead nor sick, but that her 
Great Father above had taken her in hand to sepa- 
rate her sins from Jier and make her good and hap- 
py ; that they must not touch her, as that would dis- 
turb her prayers, but kneel around and pray for her. 
They at once -withdrew their hands and waited near 
by her with great interest at least an hour, when 
she commenced breathing visibly and came to 
na PPy, a young convert. By. the middle of the 
day on Sabbath the religious interests among the 
natives had J&cf eased immensely. The whole en- 
campment seemed to be pervaded by the Holy Spir- 

178 A Complete History of Methodism 

it, and deep solemnity rested on the mixed multi- 
tude. The afternoon service was specially for the 
Indians, and our feelings prompted us to retire to 
a thicket near by, that we might spend the time in 
private prayer for a special blessing on the meet- 
ing. "O," we soliloquized, "if Colonel Leflore and 
his brother, William, could only be truly converted, 
what a blessing they would be to this Nation ! They 
have both the natural and acquired talents, if they 
only had the spiritual power!" Presently we heard 
an unusual commotion in the encampment, accompa- 
nied with loud shouts. We hastened back to mingle 
with the scene. We found the congregation, regard- 
less of race or color, formed in a vast circle, mostly 
standing outside* of the seats. We pressed in toward 
the center, where we found Dr. Talley running 
round, rubbing his hands together, exhorting first 
one and then another, interspersed with loud shouts 
of holy triumph. "O Brother Jones," said he as he 
clasped us, "God has given us the victory!" We 
looked around to see the Leflores and their wives, 
with a number of the captains and headmen, with 
many others — both men and women — all bathed in 
tears as if they were completely subdued to the gos- 
pel of Christ, while others were rejoicing in their 
first love. The interest manifested continued until 
late Sunday night. After appropriate services on 
Monday morning, Dr. Talley proposed an experience 
meeting to give the young native converts an oppor- 
tunity to tell, in their own way, what great things 
the Lord had done for them. They spoke in their 
own language, and Colonel Leflore interpreted for 
us. Captain Washington said that he was born 

In the Mississippi Conference. 179 

and brought up in a dark wilderness where he had 
no light. After a long time he saw, through the 
thick undergrowth, a little bright light like a can- 
dle. This was when his white brother, Dr. Talley, 
first brought the good talk to him. He immediately 
commenced pushing through the bushes and briers 
to get to that light. He met with a great many 
difficulties ; but the nearer he got the larger the light 
became, until now he had got entirely out of the wil- 
derness into the clear, broad light of day, and felt 
very happy. Another headman said that heretofore 
he had seen his people go down, one after another, 
into a deep, dark, muddy river and sink out of his 
sight. They never came back, and he never could 
learn where they went. Since he had learned the 
good talk from the missionary whom his Great Fa- 
ther above had sent to his children in the wilder- 
ness, he saw what would become of his people after 
crossing the river of death. If they had been good 
here, they would go to the home of the good and 
be happy forever ; but if they continued wicked here, 
they would go among the wicked in the other world 
and suffer pain and despair without end. He had 
set out to be good, and he had already got a blessing. 
Captain Offa Homa (translated into English it is: 
Offa, dog; Homa, red) said he had long believed 
that he had two hearts. One was a large, strong 
heart, always inclined to wickedness, and he had fol- 
lowed that heart most of his life in the way of 
drinking, quarreling, fighting, etc., though such 
wicked acts had always been followed by bitter re- 
gret and a wish that he had not done so. His other 
heart was a little, weak heart, but it always inclined 

180 A Complete History of Methodism 

him to good actions, and the few times he had yield- 
ed to its promptings he felt much happier; but it 
was so little and weak that his big, wicked heart had 
nearly always controlled it. After receiving the 
good talk, he saw that his big, strong, wicked heart 
was himself and that his little heart was the true 
light sent from his Great Father above to lead him 
away from his wicked practices that he might be 
saved from sin and from hell. What he supposed 
was his big, strong, and wicked heart was now all 
gone, and the new heart that had been given him 
was full of peace, love, and joy. The woman who 
had fallen under the power of the Spirit on Satur- 
day night said that when Father Smith told them 
how bad their hearts were she kept thinking about 
her own heart until it seemed to her to be just as 
bad as it could be; and when they were invited to 
get down on their knees to be prayed for, she got on 
her knees in a hurry, for she felt that she wanted all 
the good people to pray for her. As soon as she got 
on her knees her bad heart began to grow until it 
filled her whole breast, and then it turned to a stone 
and stopped her breath, so that she had no strength 
left, and fell over like a dead person ; and then, as 
she lay helpless on the ground, she began to pray 
inside of her with all her might to her Father above 
in the name of his Son to take away her heart of 
stone #nd give her a heart of flesh. Very soon her 
big heart of stone began to melt like a snowball be- 
fore the fire, until it was all gone, and her breath 
came again and she was soon able to get up and 
talk. And when she got up, she felt as though she 
could fly like a bird. She was very happy then and 

In the Mississippi Conference. 181 

was still very happy, and would love to see every- 
body as happy as herself. 

These are only specimens of the manner in which 
these children of the wilderness expressed their re- 
ligious feelings and the processes of experience by 
which they were brought to Christ. Dr. Talley and 
his colleagues held a number of camp meetings aft- 
er this in the Nation before its removal to the West, 
and some of them were attended with the extraordi- 
nary power of the Holy Spirit. The "falling exer- 
cise," as it is usually called, was just as common 
and well marked among the Indians as it was from 
1800 to 1804 in the great revivals in Kentucky and 
Tennessee an.d many other parts of the United 
States. Whatever causes led to this sudden and 
deathlike suspension of the vital functions, it was 
not voluntary or feigned on the part of its subjects, 
and was always attended with great awakenings 
and well-marked conversions. Our theorv on the 
subject may not be satisfactory to others, but it is 
so to ourself. "Many wonders and signs were done 
by the apostles," not to destroy or even suspend the 
free agency of men in working out their salvation 
or to bring about a forced conversion to Christian- 
ity, but to attract their fixed attention to the sub- 
ject, convince them of this truth, and lead them to 
seek a saving interest in it in God's appointed way. 
So these extraordinary physical exercises of having 
the jerks, dancing, and falling helpless were caused 
by the Spirit of God, not to force people into reli- 
gion, but to attract public attention to the subject, 
arouse sinners from the deep and dangerous sleep 
of sin, and bring them to feel the importance of 

182 A Complete History of Methodism 

seeking a personal interest in Christ. Two other 
public meetings were held in the immediate vicinity 
during this camp meeting, one being a temperance 
convention and the other a ball play. 

Colonel Leflore had become deeply impressed with 
the ruin that the introduction of whisky into his 
district was bringing upon his people. Having no 
prisons and no way to levy and collect fines, they 
had to resort to more primitive remedies for the ar- 
rest of crime and the punishment of evil doers. 
Sometime before they had held a public meeting on 
the subject and, by a majority vote, passed an ordi- 
nance to exclude the traffic in whisky from the dis- 
trict, and affixed as a penalty that any one violating 
the ordinance should be struck a hard lick on the 
head with a stick and have his whisky poured out 
on the ground. A minority were opposed to the 
law, and among them was Captain Offa Homa (Red 
Dog). He was a very athletic man, self-willed and 
brave. He determined to carry on the traffic at all 
hazards, and procured a supply of whisky. Some of 
his men called on him, hit him a tremendous lick on 
the back of his head (cutting a gash two inches long, 
which had not entirely healed up when he came to 
camp meeting), and then poured his stock of whisky 
on the ground. Colonel Leflore and his councilors 
thought it best to call another convention to ratify 
the ordinance and make its authority supreme. 
The convention was called to meet a few hundred 
yards from the camp ground, and all the ministers 
and other visitors invited to be present. Heralds 
were sent round to apprise all of the time and 
place. While the assembly was collecting, one 

In the Mississippi Conference. 183 

man kindled a fire for the double purpose of crisp- 
ing sumach leaves to mix with the tobacco and light- 
ing the pipe of peace; another spread a blanket 
on the ground, substituted a pine knot for a block, 
and commenced cutting up the tobacco; and a 
third pulverized the sumach leaves and mixed them 
in equal quantities with the tobacco. In the mean- 
time the subordinate officers, under the eye of the 
Chief, attended to the seating of the audience on 
the ground in a circle around the fire and blanket, 
the men forming the center and the women and chil- 
dren the periphery. Then two young men, assisted 
by the three already mentioned in the way of filling 
and lighting the pipes, waited on the men in detail, 
each one taking three or four whiffs. The ministers 
sat on the ground in the center of the circle; and 
when the Indians were done smoking, the pipe was 
refilled and brought to us, and we took a few whiffs 
with our red brethren as a token of peace and good 
will. The pipe of peace having passed round to all 
entitled to smoke, the speaking commenced. A low, 
thick-set, full-blood Indian made the opening speech. 
He stood erect, made but few gestures, and spoke 
deliberately, emphatically, and in a full, round tone 
of voice. Greenwood Leflore followed in a very flu- 
ent and eloquent speech. He shrugged his shoulders 
and gesticulated like a Frenchman. We noticed one 
peculiarity in the public speaking of the Indians, 
which was that they raised the voice on the final 
word of every sentence, as we do in asking a ques- 
tion. The audience frequently uttered a response 
during the speaking, which was equivalent to say- 
ing "Very good" or "We approve." After some fur- 

184 A Complete History of Methodism 

ther deliberation the former ordinance was con- 
firmed, and whisky banished from the district, which 
was doubtless greatly to the advantage of the mis- 
sion as well as to the Nation. The convention end- 
ed, and the audience returned to the camp ground. 
The ball play was patronized by the young men and 
larger boys, who generally had one on all great oc- 
cassions, and came to such places prepared for it. 
They selected an open, flat ridge, with few obstruc- 
tions on the ground. They set two pairs of poles 
about twenty-five feet long in the ground, with their 
bases together and their tops about eight feet apart. 
The set of poles were about one hundred and fifty 
feet apart. Each player was provided with a bat in 
each hand, about three feet long, made of hickory, 
in order to have it small and light, with the outer 
end curved and, by the use of deer sinews, formed 
into a little basket just large enough to hold the 
ball. They then divided into two equal companies. 
Each company was assigned to one set of poles ; then 
the ball was tossed up so as to fall on the middle 
ground, and the scramble for its possession com- 
menced. It was unlawful to kick it with the foot 
or strike it with the hand to keep another from get- 
ting it ; only the bats were to be used in picking up 
or tossing the ball. While seeking the ball they 
might get in each other's way or turn each other's 
bats aside with their own, but as soon as one got 
the ball it was unlawful to interfere with him until 
he made his throw. As soon as one saw that he had 
the ball he would step out of the crowd, with both 
bats covering the ball, and, with a swing to give it 
velocity, make his throw toward the poles of his 

In the Mississippi Conference. 185 

company. If the ball passed outside the poles, it 
was a tally against his company; if between them, 
it was a tally in their favor. As soon as the throw 
w£s made the contest for the possession of the 
ball was renewed. If one of the same company 
picked it up, he wheeled round and threw it at his 
poles; if one of the opposite company got it, he 
would run to the middle ground and make his throw. 
Until they had beaten the grass down by running 
over the ground so often, they sometimes had to spend 
considerable time turning it with their bats before 
they could find the ball ; but as soon as found, they 
knew it by the finder's running to a suitable place to 
make his throw. The scene became immensely ex- 
citing. The players seemed to have the dexterity 
of monkeys. The wonder to us was that they did not 
eripple each other; yet not the least casualty oc- 
curred. They generally continued their play, without 
any unpleasant altercations, until by mutual con- 
sent they came to a close, when the tally was count- 
ed and the victors announced.. 

The mission in New Orleans was encouragingly 
prosperous this year. Mr. Curtis, the missionary, 
reported to the editors of the Methodist Magazine 
April 8, 1828, that the members had renewed their 
covenant with God; that they were deeply engaged 
for a revival of religion ; that they manifested unu- 
sual solicitude for the salvation of sinners; that at 
an evening prayer meeting lately five interesting 
young men, after an earnest, struggle in prayer, 
were powerfully converted ; that a small number had 
been enabled to testify that the "blood of Jesus 
Christ had cleansed them from all sin," and that 

186 A Complete History of Methodism. 

others were earnestly seeking the same state of 

The Mobile Mission, under the labors of Thomas 
Burpo, was steadily advancing. There was such an 
increase in the congregation as made it necessary 
several times to enlarge the seating accommoda- 
tions. At present the enlargement was made by the 
addition of galleries above the main audience room. 
In the Alabama part of the Conference the work 
was, in many of the circuits, very prosperous. With 
such local preachers and such a working member- 
ship as they had in many places, it could not be 
otherwise. Methodism in Western Louisiana was 
extending more rapidly than ever before. The sta- 
tistics show that we had a net increase in the Con- 
ference this year of eight hundred and thirty white, 
two hundred and ninety-three colored, and four hun- 
dred Indian members, giving us an aggregate in- 
crease of fifteen hundred and twenty-three. We felt 
that we had good cause to "thank God and take cour- 



The time was near at hand for our scattered hosts 
to assemble at our annual convocation, which was 
to meet in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Christmas day, 1828. 
The Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Alabama 
preachers were arranging their plans to meet their 
traveling companions at designated points, to take 
their usual horseback journey, of from fifty to four 
hundred miles, in the dead of winter, to the appoint- 
ed place of holding our Annual Conference. To 
avoid the difficulties of traveling through the Wil- 
derness, as we still sometimes called the Choctaw 
country, the western preachers had generally en- 
tered Alabama by going through the sparse white 
settlements south of the Indian country; but now 
the Choctaw Nation was a part of the Conference 
territory, and a good company from the Mississippi 
Valley determined to reach Tuscaloosa by way of 
the Robinson Road, through the Choctaw Nation to 

When the original Mississippi Territory was di- 
vided into the Mississippi and Alabama Territories, 
the settlements on the Tombigbee, in Lowndes and 
Monroe Counties, fell to Mississippi. They were cut 
off from all the counties south of the Choctaw Na- 
tion by the territory of that Nation. When the cap- 
ital of Mississippi was ultimately fixed at Jackson, 

188 .1 Complete History of Methodism 

and the Indian territory had been reduced by the 
late Purchase to a width of about one hundred and 
twenty miles, the government determined to open 
a public highway on the most direct route from 
the State capital to Columbus, in order to connect 
those isolated counties with the body of the State. 
Mr. Raymond Robinson, of Hinds County, who built 
the first house in the town of Raj^mond and gave it 
his Christian name, was employed to survey and 
make the road, which took his name. It left the old 
Natchez and Nashville Trace in the northeastern 
corner of Madison County and passed diagonally 
across what is now Leake, Winston, and Oktibbeha 
Counties, until it intersected, near Columbus, the 
military road leading from Florence, on the Ten- 
nessee River, to New Orleans. The Robinson Road 
soon became one of the most important roads in 
Mississippi, not only as a connecting link between 
those remote counties and the body of the State, 
but as a convenience to travelers in general, and 
especially to emigrants moving from the east to the 
New Purchase. We reached Columbus on Saturday, 
and remained there until Monday morning. Several 
of our company preached during our stay. Colum- 
bus was still an unpretending wooden town. 

The rise and progress of Methodism in Columbus 
was very much like its history in all newly settled 
countries. The pioneer Methodist preachers have 
never been governed by water courses, State or 
county lines in the formation of their circuits. 
Their policy has been to tread closely on the heels 
of emigration and preach to the new settlers wherev- 
er found. It is thought by some that Robert Paine 

In the Mississippi Conference. 189 

(now, 1875, our senior bishop) was the first itin- 
erant that preached in the vicinity of Columbus. 
He does not, however, claim that honor, but awards 
it to his early colaborer, Ebenezer Hearn. At the 
Tennessee Conference held in Nashville October 1, 
1818, Mr. Hearn was appointed to a circuit in the 
upper valley of the Tombigbee called Buttahachie, 
and during the year extended his labors to Colum- 
bus; and, so far as we are able to judge, was the 
pioneer preacher in that region of country. The 
following year (1820) he was continued on at least 
a part of the same work, though the name was 
changed to Marion. Columbus was included for 
many years in Marion Circuit, and frequently had 
only week-day preaching. The first Methodist 
Church was organized there in 1823 by Wiley Led- 
better, and consisted of Alexander Gray and his 
wife, Major William Dowsing and his wife, and 
four or five others. Mr. Gray was class leader, but 
was always assisted in the social meetings of the 
Church by Major Dowsing. The only place of public 
worship for many years was a small frame school- 
house in the outskirts of the village, on a lot of 
land now occupied^by Franklin Academy. At first 
they had no pulpit, the preacher standing at the 
back of a chair; the seats were made of two split 
rails with the thin edges placed together. This 
house was occupied as a union place of worship for 
all denominations. At the time of our visit (De- 
cember 21, 1828) they had comfortable plank seats 
and a plain pulpit, though the little house was still 
out in the woods. We had little acquaintance 
with any of the first Methodists in 9V about Colun> 

190 A Complete History of Methodism 

bus except the family of Major William Dowsing. 
He was both in person and by grace a first-class 
man. He had religion, and knew he had it. He re- 
ferred with great interest to the fact of a clear and 
powerful conversion at the beginning of his religious 
life. He was gifted in prayer, and often spoke with 
great feeling in class meetings and love feasts/ but 
his great excellence was in singing. He had a fine 
musical voice, and entered heartily and feelingly into 
the sentiments of our good old hymns and choruses. 
To hear him when his heart was warm sing in the 
tune then generally used the hymn commencing 
"And let this feeble body fail," was enough to arouse 
all the heavenly aspirations of every pious soul in 
the house. Early Methodism in Columbus owed a 
great deal to the energy, liberality, and untiring 
perseverance of Major Dowsing and his excellent 
family. The hospitalities of his house were known 
and enjoyed by all the preachers in charge of Colum- 
bus to the time of his death. 

The weather had been rainy, the roads were mud- 
dy, and the water courses high. Between Columbus 
and Tuscaloosa we had a time not soon to be for- 
gotten in crossing the streams and bottom lands of 
Luxapelilah, Cold Fire, Lubbub, and Sipsey. But 
it was a part of our Conference holiday, and we took 
the mud and water as we found them, plunging in 
with a vim. If the mud in many places had any bot- 
tom, it was hard to find. We recollect one bottom 
that had a causeway a mile long, made of split 
puncheons laid down loosely. Many of them had 
been displaced by frequent crossing, so that our 
horses' feet would frequently go between them, en- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 191 

dangering both man and horse. To make bad worse, 
the water was oyer the puncheons, so that we could 
not see the openings. Most of us thought that the 
weather was too cold to justify wading, so we con- 
eluded to take all risks and plunge ahead. Brother 
Winans was of a different opinion. He prudently 
thought that if he got wet he could get dry again, 
and that if he got chilled he could get warm again ; 
but that if he got one of his or his horse's bones bro- 
ken, it might not be so easily mended; so he dis- 
mounted and led his horse, in many places wading 
knee-deep in water. His appearance as he measured 
off that mile of inundated causeway was ludicrous. 
He wore a large plaid cloak with broad stripes, the 
prevailing color of which was green; he had on a 
broad-brimmed white beaver hat that had become so 
limp in the wet weather that it fell over his eyes, 
to avoid which he turned it straight up in front. 
By the good providence of God we all got through 
safe. Conference opened on Christmas day, 1828, with 
Bishop Soule in the chair. William Winans was 
again elected Secretary. A fair proportion of the 
members were present from each of the three States. 
The Conference w/is promptly called to order by 
Bishop Soule, and opened v with the usual religious 
services. After fixing the hours of meeting and ad- 
journment and appointing the usual standing com- 
mittees, with attention to some other preliminary 
matters, the Conference graciously passed a resolu- 
tion that "the preachers on trial be permitted to 
sit in the Conference room during this session." 
What condescension ! There were the "preachers on 
trial" expecting, after a short probation, to become 

192 A Complete History of Methodism 

members of the Conference, and anxious to learn all 
that they eould about their coming responsibilities 
and Conference duties, and yet they could not be 
permitted to take a back seat and witness the de- 
liberations of their elder brethren without a formal 
resolution conferring the privilege as a special favor. 
In those days but few of our people attended our 
annual sessions except to hear the bishop and other 
leading ministers preach; but since we have adopt- 
ed the plan of sitting with open doors no ecclesi- 
astical convocations in the land attract such vast 
assemblages as our Annual Conferences. In a 
few cases it may be prudent to sit with closed 
doors; but as a general rule we wish the members 
and patrons of our Church to see and hear all 
that we say and do in our Conferences of every 

Under the first question, Benjamin F. Coxe, Fran- 
cis A. McWilliams, Daniel D. Brewer, Andrew 
Adams, Thomas Lynch, Richard Pipkin, Joshua 
Peavy. Preston Cooper, John Bilbo, Nathan Hop- 
kins, David Harkey, Eugene V. Levert, Felix Wood, 
and Benjamin B. Smith (fourteen) were admitted 
on trial. John W Mann, Anderson C. McDaniel, 
and William Leggatt were discontinued; John Ma- 
thews, Samuel Walker, Robert D. Smith, William 
C. Gayle, John A. Cotton, Daniel H. Norwood, and 
Blanton P. Box were continued on trial ; William 
H. Turnley, Moses Perry, James A. Hughes, and 
Lewis S. Turner were received into full connection 
and elected to deacon's orders ; John G. Jones, John 
P. Hanev, William Spruill, Isaac V Enochs, Thom- 
as Burpo, Henry J. Brown, John O. T. Hawkins, 

In the Mississippi Conference. 193 

and William V. Douglass were elected to elder's or- 
ders, and all ordained except Mr. Hawkins, who was 
not at Conference. John Cotton was readmitted; 
and our Journal states that Henry Stephenson (late 
of the Missouri Conference) was also readmitted 
in deacon's orders ; but he ought to have been placed 
with those admitted on trial, as it does not appear 
that he had been previously received into full con- 
nection. In 1817 he had settled as a local preacher 
in Hempstead County, Ark., and in 1820 took itin- 
erant work under William Stephenson, who was 
then presiding elder of Black River District of the 
Missouri Conference, which embraced the settled 
portions of Southeastern Arkansas. In September 
of that year he was admitted on trial into the Mis- 
souri Conference, and in 1821 traveled Hot Springs 
Circuit; but having a large family to provide for 
by his personal attention and labor, at the end of 
the year he was discontinued at his own request. 
A few years subsequently, though not a slaveholder 
himself, yet, to avoid the troubles growing out of the 
"Jesse Hale storm" against Methodists who were 
connected with the institution, he left Hempstead 
County, Ark., with a number of Methodist families, 
and settled in the notheastern part of Natchitoches 
Parish, La. Benjamin A. Haughton and Ashley Hew- 
itt were placed on the supernumerary list, and Wil- 
liam Spruill, Thomas Owens, and Thomas S. Aber- 
nathy were superannuated; John O. T. Hawkins 
and Thomas E. Ledbetter were located at their own 
request; Jacob Whetstone, Jacob Segrest, Thomas 
Ford, Person B. Griffin, and David Harkey were 
elected deacons as local preachers, and Richardson 

194: A Complete History of Methodism 

Owen and Charles Gwinn were elected elders in tfee 
same relation. 

Where persons are recommended to our Annual 
Conferences, either for admission or election to or- 
ders, and we see from the representation that we 
cannot consistently and safely admit or elect them, 
and that to vote on their cases would result in their 
rejection, we permit the presiding elder who brings 
their recommendation to withdraw it. This is, we 
think, the better way. We find one or two cases 
of this sort recorded on the Journal of our present 
Conference. Those who had resolved three years be- 
fore "that we will not elect to elder's orders any 
member of our body who shall marry within four 
years of the time of his admission on trial until 
four years after he was ordained deacon," finding 
themselves in a hopeless minority, moved the repeal 
of that resolution, which was carried. Since that 
time the Conference has permitted the single preach- 
ers to exercise their own discretion as to the time 
of forming their matrimonial alliances* 

Encouraging reports were received from the 
Boards of Trustees of Elizabeth Female Academy, 
at Washington, Miss., and of Simms Female Acad- 
emy, at Tuscaloosa, Ala., and committees appointed 
to respond expressing our satisfaction with the 
success of those Conference seminaries. Four addi- 
tional trustees were added to the Board of the 
Simms Academy in the persons of Dr. Jack Shackle- 
ford, Moses Andrew, Daniel Hargrove, and Hon. H. 
W Collier, and a committee of three, consisting of 
the presiding elder of the Cahawba District, the 
preacher in charge of Tuscaloosa Station, and Wil- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 195 

Ham Spruill, was appointed to wait on Mr. Simms 
as early as possible and receive from him a legal 
conveyance of the Academy property to the Board of 

While on the subject of education, we will remark 
that the plan of the Tennessee and Mississippi Con- 
ferences of uniting in the establishment of a college 
of high grade, and which had been temporarily sus- 
pended, had been revived by the Tennessee Confer- 
ence, and Rev. William McMahan sent as a delegate 
to the Mississippi Conference to request cooperation. 
Mr. McMahan appeared before the Conference, and 
read an extract from the Journal of the Tennessee 
Conference, with other documents, setting forth the 
action of that Conference on the subject of the con- 
templated colleges. He also stated that they had re- 
ceived a subscription of ten thousand dollars, with 
a lot of land for a college campus, from the citizens 
at La Grange, in Franklin County, North Alabama, 
upon condition that the college should be located 
there; that his Conference had unanimously accept- 
ed the offer, made the location accordingly, and 
now asked concurrence. After due deliberation the 
Conference accepted the offer, pledged hearty co- 
operation, and appointed seven commissioners, con- 
sisting of Robert L. Kennon, Joseph McDowell, Al- 
exander Talley, Thomas E. Ledbetter, Ebenezer 
Hearn, Thomas Owens, and William Spruill, to meet 
a like commission from the Tennessee Conference 
at La Grange for the purpose of founding the col- 
lege. The college, founded in 1830, had a successful 
career until its buildings were burned by the Federal 
army when it gained possession of North Alabama. 

196 A Complete History of Methodism 

A communication was received from Mrs. Caro- 
line Matilda Thayer, Corresponding Secretary of the 
Female Assistance Society at Washington, Miss., 
covering a donation to the funds of the Conference 
of three hundred and thirty-seven dollars and sixty- 
eight and three-fourths cents, which was gratefully 
acknowledged in a communication to the kind do- 
nors. Similar societies at Mount Hermon, Pinck- 
neyville, and Tuscaloosa sent smaller donations to 
the Conference fund, all of which were appropriate- 
ly acknowledged. Our Choctaw Mission had been 
so signally blessed by the Supreme Head of the 
Church that it begat a spirit of extra liberality in 
various places for its support. Several missionary 
societies were organized for the express purpose of 
contributing to its funds. 

Our delegates to the late General Conference were 
more fortunate financially than many of their suc- 
cessors have been. After defraying all their ex- 
penses they had a surplus of ninety-one dollars and 
eighty-seven and a half cents, which was turned over 
to our Conference fund. After all these little rivu- 
lets had been turned into the Conference fund, the 
stewards' report shows that the deficient claimants 
were paid at the rate of only fifty-six dollars and 
forty-three and three-fourths cents on the one hun- 
dred dollars. 

John Collier, who was readmitted a year ago, per- 
sistently neglected to go to the circuit assigned him, 
for which he was deprived of his official standing 
and reduced to the relation of a private member. 
He afterwards became a member and minister in the 
Baptist Church, but did not make much impression 

In the Mississippi Conference. 197 

as a preacher. As a general rule, where persons do 
not succeed as members or ministers of our Church, 
they do not succeed elsewhere, their lives are thrown 
awav, and their usefulness is forfeited bv their insta- 

The case of Peyton S. Greaves, which had been 
referred by our last Conference to the presiding 
elder of the district in which his appointment might 
be made, came up at this Conference for final ad- 
judication, and he was expelled. If Mr. Greaves had 
not given way to a hasty, fault-finding spirit and 
treated the authorities of the Church contumacious- 
ly, there would have been no necessity for his ex- 
pulsion. A few months after the Conference he un- 
dertook to vindicate himself in the columns of a 
secular paper, in which he charged William Winans 
with duplicity, and otherwise reflected on the men 
and measures of the Church. This drew from Mr. 
Winans a reply and a vindication of the Church 
administration through the same channel, written 
in a true Christian spirit and expressed in tender, 
affectionate language. In the meantime Mr. Greaves, 
who had settled somewhere in Alabama, had im- 
bibed a very unbrotherly spirit toward Ebenezer 
Hearn, the presiding elder of the Alabama District, 
and repeatedly asserted that Mr. Hearn was neglect- 
ing his official duties, living at ease at home, spend- 
ing his time in building a fine house, while he was 
receiving money enough from the Church to become 
rich. Mr. Greaves had put himself into several com- 
plications, and had determined to make his way out 
by leaving the Church and uniting with the Meth- 
odist Protestant Church, which determination he 

198 A Complete History of Methodisnl 

soon accomplished without waiting to defend him- 
self before the Conference. The charges brought 
against him were fraud and falsehood. The charge 
of fraud was brought against him by William Wi- 
nans, and was that Mr. Greaves, at the last Confer- 
ence, claimed from the Conference fund, to make up a 
deficiency in his salary while in New Orleans, the 
sum of forty-three dollars and sixty-four cents, 
whereas the account current kept by the stewards 
of the New Orleans Station showed that he had been 
overpaid eighty-seven dollars and thirty-eight cents. 
The only testimony in support of this charge and 
specification was from the Conference stewards, and 
an official transcript from the stewards' book of the 
New Orleans Station. The charge of falsehood was 
brought by Robert L. Kennon and James H. Mellard. 
The first specification was what Mr. Greaves had re- 
peatedly said against Ebenezer Hearn, and the sec- 
ond specification was his having repeated^ accused 
William Winans of duplicity in having (in 1827) 
promised the New Orleans Station for 1828 both to 
himself (Greaves) and William M. Curtis. Pending 
the first specification the preachers from Mr. 
Hearn's district all testified that he had been dili- 
gent in the discharge of his duties as presiding eld- 
er, and that he was not receiving from his district 
as much in the way of salary as the Discipline al- 
lowed him. Under the second specification Mr. Wi- 
nans testified that he had not promised the New 
Orleans Station either to Mr. Greaves or Mr. Curtis ; 
and Mr. Curtis, who was present, testified that Mr. 
Winans had never made any such promise to him. 
Mr. Greaves, who in an evil hour had determined to 

In the Mississippi Conference. 199 

throw off any further personal attempt to explain 
his conduct or defend himself before the Conference, 
and had already completed his arrangements to 
unite with the Methodist Protestant Church, did not 
appear at Conference, either in person or by his 
next friend, though his accusers had given him due 
and timely notice of the charges and specifications. 
Mr. Greaves left the Conference no other alternative 
but to find him guilty as charged and expel him 
from the Church. This was a sad day to the Confer- 
ence. We deplored the loss under such circum- 
stances of such a man as Peyton S. Greaves had once 
promised to become. He soon appeared as a prom- 
inent minister in the Methodist Protestant Church, 
and was several times elected President of that Con- 
ference. In November, 1857, he appeared at the ses- 
sion of our Conference, held in Brandon, as an ap- 
plicant for readmission among us. He seemed to 
be in a Christian spirit, but it was ascertained that 
one or two of his colleagues of thirty years before 
would oppose his readmission, and the application 
was not made. 

Dr. Alexander Talley brought several of his na- 
tive Choctaw converts to Conference, accompanied 
by a good interpreter. After he had read a very en- 
couraging report of the mission, which was ordered 
to be forwarded to the editor of the Christian Advo- 
cate and Journal and Zion's Herald, at New York, 
for publication, the Conference, by resolution, re- 
quested that one of the native Choctaws address the 
Conference, through the interpreter, in relation to 
his views of the importance and success of the mis- 
sion. That most excellent man and Christian, Cap- 

200 A Complete History of Methodism 

tain Washington, was appointed to deliver the ad- 
dress, which he did in a very dignified, clear, and 
feeling manner. At the conclusion of the address 
Bishop Soule arose and requested the interpreter to 
give him a formal introduction to Captain Wash- 
ington, that he might give him the right hand of 
fellowship, and through him the whole Choctaw 
Nation, bidding them welcome to the bosom of the 
Church and to the hope of heaven. The ceremony 
was performed in the most cordial and affectionate 
style. Bishop Soule then returned to his chair full 
of emotion, and referred to the discouragements un- 
der which, a year ago, we had determined to revive 
our suspended Choctaw Mission, and to the extraor- 
dinary success with which the enterprise had been 
favored, concluding his remarks with these words: 
"Brethren, the Choctaw Nation is ours! No! I 
mistake! The Choctaw Nation is Jesus Christ's!" 
It is impossible to convey to the minds of those who 
had no personal knowledge of Bishop Soule the em- 
phasis, power, and feeling with which he uttered 
these words. His eyes sparkled with the fullness 
of joy that overflowed his soul, while his voice trem- 
bled with emotion. The Conference was in full sym- 
pathy with the Bishop. 

It was on the Sabbath embraced in this Conference 
that Bishop Soule preached a most complete and 
powerful sermon on the united divinity and humani- 
ty of our Lord Jesus Christ. His text was John i. 
14 : "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among 
us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the 
only-begotten of the Father,) full of grace and 
truth.-' It is barely possible to give even an intel- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 201 

ligent synopsis of that grand and glorious sermon. 
His introduction was made from the context, in 
which he gave us the import of the leading terms 
as found in the original languages, quoting both 
Greek and Hebrew as readily as a well-instructed 
classical scholar. He then combated successfully the 
leading errors of the Unitarians ; gaye us the scrip- 
tural view of the united divinity and humanity of 
the Son of God, showing that, while "there is none 
other name under heaven given among men, where- 
by we must be saved" but the name of Jesus Christ, 
we needed no other Saviour, as "he is able to save 
them to the uttermost that come unto God bv him, 
seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them ;" 
then followed an exhortation, full of Christian sym- 
pathy and spiritual power, to the vast assembly to 
fly to this Almighty Saviour and commit the keeping 
of their souls to his all-sufficiency. O, it was indeed 
"joy unspeakable and full of glory" to hear, believe, 
and feel that sermon ! To this day we delight to call 
it up from the long ago and reflect upon it in connec- 
tion with the sublime, ecstatic joy we felt at the 
time of its delivery. 
The present session was harmonious. The vari- 


ous interests of the Church had multiplied, requir- 
ing continued deliberations until noon of the ninth 
day. At 11 a.m. on Friday, January 2, 1829, 
the Bishop delivered his parting address and read 
the appointments. The horses were hitched around 
the church, and the preachers entered it with travel- 
ing suits on. As soon as the appointments were 
announced and the benediction pronounced, they 
scattered to all points of the compass. We instant- 

202 A Complete History of Methodism 

ly re-formed our westward-bound company, deter- 
mining to spend the coming Sabbath in Columbus, 
so as to enter the Choctaw Nation early on Monday 
morning. O those terrible Sipsey, Cold Fire, and 
Lubbub swamps! We wish some person would tell 
what sort of a road they now have from Tuscaloosa 
to Columbus. Our company consisted of William 
Winans, William M. Curtis, Thomas Griffin, Wil- 
liam V. Douglass, and John G. Jones. When about 
midway of the Nation, at dinner time, we stopped 
at an Indian hut and succeeded in buying, at a high 
price, a peck of sweet potatoes. Thomas Griffin vol- 
unteered as company cook, and, shoveling the fire 
from the center of the fireplace, poured the potatoes 
on the heated hearth and replaced the fire on top. 
In a short time we had a peck of well-roasted pota- 
toes to feed five hungry and travel-worn Methodist 
preachers. We have been peculiarly unfortunate in 
our attempts to collect names, dates, and facts con- 
nected with the origin and early progress of Meth- 
odism in Tuscaloosa. Either the matter has been 
deferred too long or we have not, by correspondence, 
been able to find persons who can give the desired 
information. The Alabama preachers should ap- 
point a competent historian to write a history of 
their Conferences, who will succeed in savins: much 
valuable material in great danger of being lost ir- 
recoverably by delay Methodism in Alabama has 
a history, rich in incident and triumph, that ought 
to be published in a permanent form for the edifica- 
tion of coming generations. 

There are a few well-authenticated facts connect- 
ed with the rise and progress of our Church in Tus- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 203 

caloosa. Tuscaloosa is the Indian name of Black 
Warrior —Tusca, warrior, and loosa, black. As soon 
as the Black Warrior Valley was open to the whites, 
large numbers were attracted thither by the fertile 
lands. The falls in the river opposite Tuscaloosa, 
being considered the head of navigation, suggested 
the place as a good location for a future city. At 
an early day it was made the capital of the State, 
and continued such up to the date of our last Mis- 
sissippi Conference held there. Such a country, 
with such prospects in the coming future, would not 
be overlooked by the pioneer itinerants. Hence as 
early as October, 1818, the Tennessee Conference, 
then sitting in Nashville, sent Rev. John Kesterson 
to a circuit called Tuscaloosa. In 1821, as that re- 
gion of country belonged to the Mississippi Confer- 
ence, a new district was formed, called Cahawba, 
which included Tuscaloosa Circuit, Thomas Nixon 
being the presiding elder. Both. in the General Min- 
utes and written journal Tuscaloosa Circuit is left 
blank for this year. Whether Presiding Elder Nix- 
on secured the services of a supply or not cannot 
now be determined. After this date the circuit was 
generally supplied with two effective preachers. In 
ttecember, 1824, the town of Tuscaloosa was made 
a station, with Wiliam M. Curtis in charge. The 
next year Joshua Boucher, Jr., was the preacher ; in 
1827 William Spruill, who was continued there in . 
1828; in 1829 (the year of which we are now writ- 
ing) Robert L. Kennon was the pastor. In 1819, 
when Tuscaloosa had taken on the form of a town, 
three local preachers — Dr. Robert L. Kennon, S. M. 
Meek, and John Owen — settled there, from which 

204 A Complete History of Methodism 

time the inhabitants were well supplied with regu- 
lar preaching, and from then Tuscaloosa has justly 
been considered the headquarters of Methodism in 
that scope of country. 

Some few changes were made this year in the old- 
er portions of the Work, and a few new charges were 
planned. Claiborne Parish having been formed in 
Northwestern Louisiana, the former Natchitoches 
Circuit, which was mainly in the new parish, took 
the name of Claiborne, with Henry Stephenson in 
charge. The name of Lake Providence was dropped 
and a new circuit projected, called Lake St. Joseph, 
which was intended to embrace all the principal 
settlements on the western bank of the Mississippi 
River and adjacent bayous, from the line of Arkan- 
sas as far south as the preacher might be able to go. 
This new work was supplied by removing Samuel 
Walker, the junior preacher on Bayou Pierre Cir- 
cuit, to it. The country appointments were de- 
tached from Washington and called Adams Circuit, 
with Miles Harper in charge. Benjamin M. Drake, 
who had succeeded John C. Burruss in the presi- 
dency of the Elizabeth Female Academy, was sta- 
tioned in Washington. Mr. Burruss had lost his 
excellent wife, who had been the loading intellectual 
and religious worker in the Academy, and he re- 
quested to be released from the presidency and also 
to be left without an appointment the present year. 
The lands, unsurpassed for fertility, on Bayou La 
Fourche, in the southeastern part of Western Lou- 
isiana, were being rapidly settled by an English- 
speaking population, and a new circuit was project- 
ed in that region called La Fourche, but for the want 

In the Mississippi Conference. 205 

of a preacher it had to be left on the unsupplied 
list this year. It was included in the Washington 
District. Another new circuit was formed in the 
Cahawba District, composed mostly of territory 
which had previously belonged to adjacent circuits, 
and called Oakmulgee. It included that portion of 
Perry County which lay east of the Cahawba River, 
and took its name from a large creek which enters 
the Cahawba River on the eastern side, about twelve 
miles north of the town of Cahawba. Benjamin A. 
Houghton and Daniel Norwood were the preachers 
for this year. 

The Choctaw Mission now began to assume the 
proportions of a regular presiding elder's district. 
Dr. Talley was continued general superintendent 
and preacher in charge of Yazoo Circuit. Robert 
D. Smith was appointed to the head waters of Pearl 
River, which was the name of his circuit, and Moses 
Perry to Old Queen's School ; white Sineasha School 
was left to be supplied. 

One of the most interesting and trustworthy men 
admitted at the late Conference was Eugene Verdo 
Le Vert. Mr. Le Vert must have felt a strong con- 
viction that he was called of God to the itinerant 
work, or he would not have persisted in his efforts 
to be a traveling preacher in the face of so many 
discouragements. He ultimately rose above them 
all; and after having been on the itinerant roll (in- 
cluding three probations before being received into 
full connection) more than fifty years, he still lives 
(January, 1875),* one of the most beloved and hon- 

* Since deceased. 

206 A Complete History of Methodism 

ored members of the Alabama Conference. Claude 
Le Vert, his father, was a Frenchman, and came 
from France as a surgeon in the fleet of our gallant 
ally, Count De Rochambeau, during the Revolution- 
ary War. By the time his term of service had ex- 
pired he had become so pleased with the country 
that he determined to make his home here; and 
having married Miss Ann Lea Metcalf, an English 
lady, he settled in King William County, Va. His 
wife was an English Episcopalian; and as her hus- 
band died when Eugene was quite young, his early 
religious training depended mainly on her. Eugene 
V Le Vert was born in King William County, Va., 
October 20, 1795, and at the age of twenty-three he 
came into North Alabama. At this time the Meth- 
odist Church in the valley of the Tennessee River 
was all aflame with a revival. Mr. Le Vert was soon 
brought under serious concern for his personal sal- 
vation ; and on the 4th of July, 1819, he was admit- 
ted into the Church on probation by Rev. James C. 
Sharp, formerly of the South Carolina Conference, 
but now in a local relation. On the 14th of the follow- 
ing September he was converted on Jordan's Camp 
Ground, a few miles west of Huntsville. He was 
duly recommended and admitted on trial December 
10, 1S21. He traveled two years with acceptabil- 
ity and usefulness; but, with two other promising 
young men of the same age in the ministry, mar- 
ried before he was received into full connection. A 
majority of the Conference, having determined to 
discourage the early marriage of preachers, dropped 
them from the itinerant roll at the end of their sec- 
ond year. Nothing unchristian or even imprudent, 

In the Mississippi Conference. 207 

in connection with their marriage, was alleged 
against them except that, in the judgment of the Con- 
ference, they married too young. Mr. Le Vert re- 
mained local two years and again entered the Con- 
ference, and after traveling two additional years 
again retired, at his own request, to the local ranks. 
But his spirit was not at rest. He felt that his 
providential destiny was in the traveling connec- 
tion, and as soon as he could adjust his domestic 
business he applied for admission on trial the third 
time, and on . the 29th of December, 1828, he was 
gladly readmitted, no more to go out until his trans- 
fer to the Church triumphant. Of the fifty-four 
years he has been in the ministry, he has been local 
three, on circuits and stations twenty-eight, pre- 
siding elder eighteen, Sabbath School Agent one, 
and superannuated four. He has been six years on 
the supernumerary list, but each year received his 
appointment and endeavored to do the work as- 
signed him. He is now in his eightieth year, and is 
really superannuated; but when his brethren gave 
him that relation four years ago, a friend wrote 
that he was grieved, feeling the laudable ambition 
of all such men "to, cease at once to work and live." 
The Church ought to have a place for all veterans 
to work until they receive their final discharge from 
the harvest fields of earth. Mr. Le Vert took a high 
stand in the ministry, and through his long career 
has retained the confidence and love of his colabor- 
ers. He has represented his Conference in the Gen- 
eral Conference. As a merited compliment for his 
thoroughness as a theologian he received, many years 
ago, the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. In 

208 A Complete History of Methodism 

person, Mr. Le Vert was spare, lithe, and active, and 
capable of great endurance. His voice was clear 
and his articulation very distinct. His sermons 
were addressed both to the head and heart. His 
points were well taken and so clearly presented 
as to produce conviction in the minds of all who 
admitted the supreme authority of the Holy Scrip- 
tures. He has been a good administrative officer. 
He still writes a very legible hand, and his memory 
is very tenacious of early names, dates, and facts, 
as a letter lately received from him abundantly 
proves. His residence is at Marion, Perry County, 
Ala., where he lives, greatly respected and beloved 
by those who know him best, and where he is pa- 
tiently waiting the Master's call to go from the la- 
bors and sufferings of earth to the rest of the saints 
in heaven. We pray that he may live in peace and 
comfort until the work of grace is completed and he 
receives the welcome invitation, "Enter thou into the 
joy of thy Lord." 

Preston Cooper was another very interesting young 
preacher who was admitted on trial at this Confer- 
ence. He was born in Warren County, Tenn., De- 
cember 29, 1806. His father died when he was 
ji lad, and his mother married again. When Preston 
had attained to manhood, he quietly left home, deter- 
mined to be the future architect of his own fortune 
and fame, and came down into South Alabama, and 
was careful to say but little about his relatives or 
former home. He was a close student, and soon be- 
came qualified to teach a country school. He made 
an engagement to teach in a Baptist church in the 
Flat Woods, in the western part of Marengo County, 

In the Mississippi Conference. 209 

where we became acquainted with him in the sum- 
mer of 1827, when we were on Marengo Circuit, and 
had the joy of numbering him with our spiritual 
children. Several members and patrons of our 
Church had settled in the Flat Woods and invited 
us to preach in their private residences, which we 
did regularly during the year. Some one in the 
neighborhood of White Hall requested us to deliver 
a letter to Mr. Cooper on our way to our appoint- 
ment at Mr. Murphy's. As we thought it likely, 
from the fact that Mr. Cooper was teaching in the 
Baptist church, that he sympathized with them in 
their .opposition to the Methodists, we had deter- 
mined to hand him the letter and pass on without 
letting him know anything about our calling; but 
when he stepped to the door, there was so much cor-, 
dial politeness in his manners and so much affabil- 
ity in his countenance that we changed our purpose 
and reined up our horse for a brief conversation. It 
was soon understood that we were both far away 
from our home and all our kindred, he for the pur- 
pose of peeking a fortune and we for the purpose 
of preaching the gospel to strangers. There was 
evidently a kindred feeling between us and a desire 
to perpetuate our acquaintance. We informed Mr. 
Cooper that we had established a regular appoint- 
ment for preaching at Mr. Young's, near by, and 
would be glad to have him as one of our auditors. 
He assured us that he would do himself the pleasure 
of being at our next appointment. Mr. Cooper had 
received Very little doctrinal religious training in 
early life; for while the religious element seemed 
to be predominant in his nature, he was total- 

210 A Complete History of Methodism 

ly at sea on doctrinal points. He had heard 
so much about unconditional election and repro- 
bation from all eternity that he concluded that 
if that were the true doctrine it was useless 
for him to make any effort to get to heaven, as 
his case was unalterably fixed by a decree of the 
unchangeable God. Mark tells us that when Jesus 
beheld a certain young man "he loved him." Had 
we that feeling in our humble measure when we first 
looked on Preston Cooper? Surely the hand of God 
was in this thing! True to his promise, he was at 
our next appointment at Mr. Young's. Without 
knowing anything of the perplexed state of his mind 
on doctrinal points, we preached that day on the 
love of God to a lost world as manifested in the 
universality of the great atonement. We supported 
our positions by plain quotations from the Holy 
Scriptures. Mr. Cooper was charmed with the doc- 
trine. He felt that in his case the darkness was 
now passed and the true light had dawned upon 
him, and he at once became an earnest seeker of per- 
sonal salvation. Soon after he promptly joined the 
Church as a seeker of religion. Thinking he might 
be somewhat unsettled as to the mode of baptism, 
we immediately placed in his hands the little tract 
entitled "Two Letters on Baptism to a Friend," by 
Timothy Merritt, and in a short time he was an ap- 
plicant for baptism by pouring. One of the striking 
characteristics of Mr. Cooper's life was unbending 
firmness in doing what he believed to be duty. His 
mind was settled to become a scriptural Christian, 
and all his movements were now in that direction. 
Being anxious to see him soundly converted, we said 

In the Mississippi Conference. 211 

to him that we were going to commence a camp 
meeting at Glover's on the 27th of September, and 
would be glad to have him attend. He remarked 
that he would be an entire stranger there, except a 
very short acquaintance with some of the preachers, 
and that he would not know how to dispose of him- 
self at a camp meeting. We requested him to re- 
port to us on his arrival, and we would see that he 
was provided for. Early on the first day of the 
meeting he was present. We had his horse sent to a 
good pasture, and introduced him into a good tent 
for a temporary hbme. He now seemed to feel that 
he had nothing to do but to seek religion, and en- 
gaged in it with all his heart. At the first call he 
came to the altar and was powerfully converted. 
Besting on his knees, the tears of joy running down 
in a stream, and his countenance all aglow with the 
love and peace that now reigned within, he gave us 
a real, spontaneous shout of holy joy and triumph. 
"Yes, 1 have got religion, and I know I have it! 
Glory be to God !" During the remaining days of the 
camp meeting (one of the best we ever attended) 
he was in a high state of religious enjoyment. With- 
in two months we 9 left Alabama, and saw Preston 
Cooper no more until we met him at Conference, 
with his round-breasted coat and other itinerant 
equipments, seeking admission into the saddlebags 
tribe. He was admitted; and if permitted to con 
tinue this history, we shall often meet this deeply 
pious, talented, faithful, and useful man within the 
following thirty years. He survived until July, 

■ * 

There was not much in the appointments of the 

212 A Complete History of Methodism 

preachers this year to require special notice. Robert 
L. Walker was stationed in Natchez, William M. 
Curtis was continued in New Orleans, and Thomas 
Burpo in Mobile. James H. Mellard was appointed to 
the Alabama District and Ebenezer Hearn to the Ca- 
hawba District. Robert L. Kennon was stationed in 
Tuscaloosa, which had been his home since his first 
settlement in that part of the State. But he was one 
of the men that never wore out anvwhere. The 
more people enjoyed his pastoral services, the more 
they wished them continued. In addition to his 
deep, unfeigned piety and gentle and courtly man- 
ners, he had one of those constantly developing 
and progressive minds which enabled him "to 
bring out of his treasure things new and old." 
To the end of life he was intent on unlocking all 
the storehouses of divine truth. Ira Bvrd and John 
Cotton were appointed to Big Black Circuit, which 
had no very definite bounds, so that they had the 
privilege of following up the new settlers through- 
out Hinds and Madison Counties. 

We now had a fair proportion of experienced and 
well-tried ministers all over the Conference to place 
in charge of circuits with the younger men as their 
colleagues. Many men are evidently called to the 
work of preaching the gospel whose providential cir- 
cumstances are such that they cannot continue in 
or even enter the itinerancy, yet they fill very im- 
portant and useful stations in the Church at their 
own expense. The importance and usefulness of lo- 
cal preachers were demonstrated in the early settle- 
ment of Alabama and Jackson's Purchase in Missis- 
sippi. In many instances they were the pioneer 

In the Mississippi Conference. 213 

preachers in the new settlements, collecting the scat- 
tered population and raising the standard of Metho- 
dism among them ; and when the itinerants had gone 
on their long rounds, the local preachers filled the in- 
tervening Sabbaths. The local preachers held class 
meeting after every Sabbath sermon with as much 
regularity as the regular pastors. As a body, they 
have been loyal to the doctrines, laws, and usages 
of our Church, and have trained the people that 
they have served the same way, turning over all the 
fruits of their labors as a part of the general inher- 
itance of the Church. The Alabama part of our 
Conference was favored with an efficient corps of 
local preachers, many of whom came in from the 
older Conferences with the early emigrants, while 
many others were converted and licensed here. The 
first and second generation of these devoted men 
have nearly all passed away, and their very names 
are being forgotten, appearing only in the short and 
frequently lost or mislaid minutes of Quarterly Con- 
ferences, and barely mentioned in their election to 
erders in the journals of the Annual Conferences. 
It is next to impossible to gain any detailed infor- 
mation about them* There were a few who settled 
early in the Choctaw Purchase and were, to a great 
extent, the pioneer .preachers of their different lo- 

Isaac Wills was deservedly conspicuous as a local 
preacher in Leake and the adjacent counties in their 
early settlement. He was born in South Carolina 
in 1783, and when about seventeen years old was con- 
verted, and not long afterwards licensed as a local 
preacher. He emigrated from his native State; and 

214 A Complete History of Methodism 

living awhile in Georgia near where Atlanta now 
stands, he continued westward and settled on the 
waters of McGee's Creek, in Franklin County, Miss. 
Mr. Wills had a very limited education ; but he stud- 
ied his Bible and the writings of Wesley, Fletcher, 
and others of our earlier standard writers until he 
was master of all the cardinal doctrines of Chris- 
tianity. Always in moderate circumstances, he was 
plain in his person and manners ; but being a little 
over the ordinary size of men, his appearance was 
commanding. He had a very benevolent counte- 
nance, and a prevailing trait of his life was that of 
love and good will to all. In his sermons he often 
dwelt on the evangelical history of the vicarious suf- 
ferings and death of the Saviour. A peculiar power 
sometimes attended his pulpit ministrations, and his 
discourses would be suddenly closed by the loud 
cries of awakened sinners or the shouts of happy 
Christians. On such occasions he would say that 
he was glad to stop and let God carry on his work 
in his own way. He did a great deal in the way of 
locating and dedicating new places of worship, both 
] reaching houses and camp grounds, in Leake and 
the surrounding counties; also in marrying the 
young folks, baptizing the babies, and preaching fu- 
neral sermons. In 1839 he was getting into the ma- 
turity of old age, and the people with great respect 
and affection began to call him Father Wills. His 
constant theme was a feeling, heart-warming reli- 
gion, and he loved to narrate in detail all the way in 
which the Lord his God had hitherto brought him. 
When seventy-six years old, he died suddenly, and, 
in accordance with his oft-expressed wishes, was bur- 

In the Mississippi (Conference. £15 

led near his beloved Salem Church, where he held 
his membership. 

Madison County, near the geographical center of 
the State, is bounded by Pearl River on the east and 
Big Black River on the west. The land is gradually 
undulating, and was, until worn by culture, almost 
universally productive. Previous to 1828 it had only 
a scattered population; from that date emigration 
flowed in rapidly, and among the newcomers was 
a fair proportion of Methodist families and local 
preachers. John Shrock, an ex traveling preacher, 
settled near Livingston, in the southwestern part of 
the county, early in 1828, and was an active local 
preacher, He was a plain, blunt man, with some 
sharp points in his preaching that made him ene- 
mies. Being too sanguine of success in worldly mat- 
ters, he became deeply involved in debt, which 
caused him much trouble. He was a true friend to 
all the interests of the Church and was a valuable 
acquisition to the early Methodists of Madison Coun- 
ty. In 1831 Madison Circuit was left to be supplied, 
and Thomas Griffin, in whose district it was em- 
braced, employed Mr. Shrock as a supply, and he 
did a fair year's ^ork. He remained at different 
places in the county until about 1840, when he- 
moved to Texas. 

Samuel Cote, who was recommended from the orig- 
inal Tombigbee Circuit for deacon's orders in 1816 
and was elected, was among the early emigrants to 
Madison County. He formerly lived in the Chicka- 
sawhay part of the old Tombigbee Circuit, came 
from thence to Madison, and settled in the south- 
eastern corner of the county. Mr. Cole was an even- 

216 A Complete History of Methodism 

tempered, quiet, straightforward man and Chris* 
tian. His ardent piety, mature judgment, peaceable 
disposition, and consistent life challenged the re- 
spect and confidence of all who knew him. In a ripe 
old age, not many years after his removal to Madi- 
son County, he finished his course with joy. Two 
brothers by the name of Samuel and Joshua Saxon, 
who were converted and received their early Meth- 
odistic training at Pisgah Church, in Claiborne 
County, Miss., and had also been licensed to preach, 
settled farther up in Madison County, and gave the 
light of their example and ministry to the early 
settlers. Samuel Saxon soon moved west to the 
Mississippi River not far below Lake Providence. 
Joshua, his brother, remained in Madison, laboring 
very acceptably and usefully until his death, in the 
middle of life, greatly beloved by the Church. There 
were also two brothers by the name of Hubert, who 
were good men and faithful local preachers in early 
times in Madison County. Other local preachers 
came in at a later date. These are only samples of 
how the local preachers gradually diffused them- 
selves over our late Purchase from the Choctaws. 

Mention must be made of a few laymen. Dougall 
McCall was a Scotchman. We first knew him in our 
boyhood as a mail rider, under Contractor Reuben 
Harris, on the Natchez and Nashville Trace. He 
was a young man of excellent morals, self-reliant 
and industrious. Next he clerked in a dry goods 
store just above where Rodney now stands. He 
married Miss Susan Coleman, of Adams County, 
and settled as a cotton planter in the southwest cor- 
ner of Claiborne Countv. About 1827 or 1828 he at- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 217 

tended the camp meeting at Cane Ridge, where he 
was powerfully converted. He at once gave vent 
to his enraptured soul in loud shouts of praise to 
God; and as the more he acknowledged the mercy 
and love of God in his salvation the stronger his 
evidence of the divine favor grew, he became a de- 
cidedly noisy Christian. He was always inclined to 
seek an additional blessing at every meeting ; and if 
anybody got happy, Dougall McCall was almost cer- 
tain to be of the number. He had a way of express- 
ing his joyful feelings by a sort of involuntary loud 
and rapid laugh, interspersed with appropriate 
words and sentences of praise and thanksgiving or 
of exhortation to those around him. He was a very 
efficient laborer in all the social meetings of the 
Church. In his home affairs he was industrious and 
enterprising, and in process of time acquired an am- 
ple fortune. Mrs. McCall had been brought up most- 
ly in the faith of the Baptist Church, and it was with 
some reluctance that she united with the Church of 
her husband's choice, but she ever after remained an 
acceptable and devoted member. Mr. McCall died 
in the faith before our late war, and Mrs. McCall, 
in advance of seventy years, died in peace within the 
last few years. They brought up a lovely little fam- 
ily of one daughter and two sons, who are orna- 
ments to society, good citizens, and, we trust, seek- 
ing to follow the faith and godly example of their 

Michael Hooter, as a Christian, was a character 
to be admired, loved, and enjoyed. He had attract- 
ive qualities, which brought him into notice wherev- 
er he appeared. Except in authentic documents and 

218 A Complete History of Methodism 

legal matters, lie was never called Michael. His 
relatives, neighbors, and Church associates univer- 
sale called him Mike Hooter. He was born on Red 
River either in Catahoula or Rapides Parish, La., 
April 5, 1791, and grew to manhood in that 
locality. He received little education and mor- 
al training in his youth, and understood little else 
than farm work and bear-hunting. He married Miss 
Cynthia Harrison, who was a near relative of the 
celebrated Methodist family of Gibsons, of Adams 
County, Miss. Sometime after his marriage he 
was attracted to the Pettit Gulf Hills, just east of 
Rodney, where he opened a farm in the primitive 
canebrake, and had a fair opportunity of following 
his favorite sport of bear-hunting. By this time he 
had become addicted to drinking, and when drunk 
was exceedingly frolicsome and noisy. In our boy- 
hood he was our neighbor ; and when we saw how far 
he had gone in dissipation, and how much he was 
under the control of an impetuous temperament, we 
settled it down in our mind that he would be almost 
certain to go to a drunkard's grave and a drunk- 
ard's hell. Methodist preaching was established at 
Goodale's Schoolhouse, in his immediate vicin- 
ity, and a gracious religious influence began to 
pervade the community. In one of his sober mo- 
ments Mike Hooter was brought to reflection and 
became suddenly and overwhelmingly awakened to 
a sense of his almost hopeless condition. He knew 
little about the rules of any Church, and, anxious 
to be in the safest place to seek his soul's salvation, 
he hurried to the Baptist church in the neighbor- 
hood and offered himself for membership. The pas- 

In the 'Mississippi Conference. 219 

tor asked him if he had yet obtained a hope in 
Christ. With a fresh burst of penitential grief he 
answered : "No. That is my greatest trouble ! That 
is what I am seeking/ and I thought that I could 
obtain it sooner in the Church than out of it." 
The pastor informed him that it was contrary to 
their faith and order to receive unconverted persons 
into their Church. This unexpected repulse only 
made him feel his lost condition more, and he re- 
turned home more than ever determined to seek until 
he found a pardoning God. The few Methodists in 
the Gulf Hills found out his awakenings and mani- 
fested true Christian sympathy by encouraging and 
praying for him. He determined to join the Meth- 
odist Church at the first opportunity In a short 
time, with a burdened and sad heart, he went out 
alone into his cotton field and, kneeling down among 
the high cotton stalks, poured out his penitent heart 
in prayer to God, in the name of his Son Jesus 
Christ, for the forgiveness of his sins. Suddenly 
unbelief gave way to living, appropriating faith in 
Christ; the burden of sin and guilt was gone; light, 
peace, love, and joy filled his soul. He was soon 
fully in the harness,, family prayer was established, 
all the class and prayer meetings in his reach were 
attended and richly enjoyed, and he became quite a 
leader in singing, praying, and exhorting. When, on 
our far-off circuit, we heard that Mike Hooter had 
reformed and joined the Church, we had our misgiv- 
ings. "Can it be possible that he. is truly converted? 
Will he hold out beyond the next 4th of July or 
Christmas holiday?" Mike Hooter became quite a 
leader in Israel. There was such an air of earnest 

220 A Complete History of Methodism 

sincerity about him that he generally had the confi- 
dence of all who knew him, and those who were not 
demonstrative themselves were very willing to put 
up with his noise, in view of his evident usefulness 
in bringing souls to Christ. When told that some 
people were wondering why he was so noisy with his 
religion, he replied as follows: "They ought not to 
wonder at all if they would only look at the subject 
as they ought. When I was serving a hard master 
and wearing a galling yoke, with no bright future 
before me, I used to go to Rodney and get drunk: 
then mount my horse and charge round generally, 
hooting like an owl, screaming like a panther, or 
yelling like a savage, making more noise than any- 
body else, so that people along the road could tell 
that T was going home drunk ; but now I am serving 
a better Master, wearing an easier yoke, carrying a 
light burden, with a bright and glorious future be- 
fore me, and whv should I not be as zealous and 
noisy in the service of my blessed Saviour as T used 
to be in the service of the devil ?" There was an un- 
studied simplicity in the prayers and exhortations 
of Mike Hooter that added greatly to their interest. 
It was amusing as well as edifying to hear him lead- 
ing one of his tent prayer meetings at a camp meet- 
ing. He was in his proper sphere of usefulness 
when he could get a company of penitents and ear- 
nest Christians in a tent after the public service 
closed, and work in the name of the Lord to get souls 
added to the household of faith ; and many were the 
trophies he won for his Lord and Master in this way. 
Mike Hooter was holding one of his nocturnal 
prayer meetings in David Bullen's tent at Cane 

In the Mississippi Conference. 221 

Ridge Camp Meeting. The purpose was to persevere 
until every penitent soul was converted. About four 
o'clock in the morning a loud shout proclaimed that 
the last mourner had been brought into the kingdom 
of Christ, and a general rejoicing ensued. Just then 
a very aged sister, Mrs. Edna Bullen, one of Tobias 
Gibson -s original eight, who still lingered here be- 
low, fequested Mr. Hooter to get the praying circle 
to unite with him in prayer for her, saying that her 
faith was beclouded; under sore trials and tempta- 
tions her hope of heaven was not as bright as she 
desired it to be in her old age; she wanted a full 
* Messing to take home with her from camp meeting. 
Mr. Hooter immediately called on those present to 
unite with him in prayer for Aunt Edna, and he led 
off in about this style : "O Lord, my God, there was a 
time when Satan desired to get Peter that he might 
sift him as wheat, and for a short time Peter yield- 
ed to the fear of man, got under a cloud, and denied 
his Saviour; but just as the cock began to crow for 
day Jesus, who nad been praying for him, looked 
upon him and broke his heart, so that he went out 
and wept bitterly, and prayed until he recovered 
from the snare of the devil and got all right again. 
Now, my Lord, thou seest that that same devil is 
after this old servant of thine, and has so dimmed 
the eyes of her faith thajt she is almost ready to deny 
that she is an adopted child of thine. Now, Lord, 
while the chickens are crowing for day, and the ap- 
proach of day is ready to scatter the darkness of 
night, drive the devil from this old servant of thine; 
disperse every cloud of doubt and fear and lift thou 
upon her the light of thy reconciled countenance. 

222 A Complete History of Methodism 

that she may be reassured that she is still a child 
of thine and an heir of heaven." The blessing came, 
and Aunt Edna went on her way rejoicing. 

The land in the Pettit Gulf Hills came into great 
requisition as the best cotton land in the State, and 
the more wealthy planters began to buy out the 
less wealthy, until nearly the entire membership of 
Philadelphia Church sold out and moved to different 
localities in the New Purchase. Mike Hooter went 
to the neighborhood of Satartia, in Yazoo County. 
He had been class leader and exhorter for many 
years, and such was his ability in expounding and 
enforcing the truths of the gospel that his brethren 
thought it best to give him license to preach. We 
heard a characteristic anecdote of him after his re- 
moval to the New Purchase, which is rather too good 
to be lost. We have alreadv stated the fact that in 
early manhood he was a noted bear hunter ; but for 
years before leaving the Gulf Hills himself, with 
several other Nimrods, had well-nigh exterminated 
the race thereabout. But on entering his new coun- 
try and finding that "bear was plenty, he trained a 
new team of dogs and entered into the profitable 
sport with all the vim and delight of his younger 
days. Bear was so plenty and his dogs became so 
fond of the sport that they frequently went out un- 
attended and chased Bruin up a tree and sat and 
barked until their master came with his rifle and 
brought him down. One Sunday morning they went 
out early and ran a bear up a tree, and then com- 
menced their usual process of earnest and continuous 
barking. The attention of Mr. Hooter was arrested 
by the barking of the dogs; and, listening a moment 

In the Mississippi Conference. 223 

to satisfy himself of the reality, he turned away, 
saying: "That is just like the. devil. He knows he 
could not throw a greater temptation in my way 
to lead me tq break the Sabbath than to instigate 
my dogs to tree a bear that near my house on Sun- 
day morning. But I'll let that bear alone; I can 
get him some other day; and the dogs can bark on 
until fatigue and hunger drive them home; and 
HI let the devil know that he can't entrap me into 
Sabbath-breaking in that way." So saying, he re- 
sumed his usual Sabbath duties. He lived, greatly 
beloved by the Church and respected by the commu- 
nity, until November 30, 1867, when he died in full 
profession of the Christian's hope, aged seventy-six 
years. His younger brother, James Hooter, was con- 
verted about the same time ; and though not so talent- 
ed and influential as Mike, he was equally pious and 
very much of the same temperament in his religious 
enjoyment. He first joined the Baptist Church; but 
he greatly enjoyed a high state of religious excite- 
ment, which led him often into the meetings of the 
Methodists at Cane Ridge and Philadelphia Church- 
es, wliere he was sometimes as noisy as his brother 
Mike. Some of his Baptist brethren complained to 
him about his course ; said that it was mere animal 
excitement, and that he must abstain from it, or he 
would fall under the .censure of the Church. He 
replied that he might not know exactly what was 
meant by "animal excitement," but he knew that his 
rapturous feelings were produced by "the love of God 
being shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost," 
and that the more he acknowledged the goodness 
of God by praising him in the assembly of saints 

224 A Complete History of Methodism 

the higher his spiritual enjoyment rose. He add- 
ed that he intended to continue the same course; 
and that, as he did not wish to annoy any one, 
he would quietly dissolve his connection with the 
Baptist Church and unite with the Methodist. 
Both he and his wife did this. James Hooter 
sold his real estate in the Gulf Hills and settled in 
the vicinity of Auburn, in Hinds County, where his 
house became the resting place of many weary itin- 
erants. He was greatly afflicted with chronic rheu- 
matism; and after his family was mostly dissolved 
by deaths and removals, he went to live with his 
brother Mike, in Yazoo County, where he died in his 
sixty-second year, November 24, 1862. Our excellent 
Sister Renner, of Natchez, is a daughter of James 
Hooter. * 

John M. Folkes was, through a long life, one of 
the noted Methodists in Coles Creek Circuit. He 
was born in South Carolina about 1795. About 
1800 his parents left South Carolina for the far- 
famed Natchez country. They made their way to 
the head waters of the Tennessee River and, in com- 
pany with other immigrants, in family boats, de- 
scended the Tennessee, Ohio, and Mississippi Riv- 
ers to the mouth of Coles Creek, where they de- 
barked and scattered into the country to the east 
and south. His parents settled on the South Fork ot 
Coles Creek. This residence was about seven miles 
southwest of the present town of Fayette and in 
the vicinity of the famous old Spring Hill Church. 
Mr. Folkes married Miss Marble, whose parents 
were among the early and most noted Methodists at 
Spring Hill. This probably caused Mr. Folkes's ac- 

In the Mississipjn Conference. 225 

cession to the Church in 1823. He was a truly con- 
verted man, and soon after his union with the 
Church he commenced active operations as a lay- 
man. Family religion was established in his home ; 
he was class leader, steward, recording steward, 
trustee, and filled all these offices with the most 
exact fidelity. He brought up a large family by his 
first marriage. By industry and economy he ac- 
quired a fine estate, and was a model cotton planter 
of the olden style, raising stock and provision crops 
for an ample supply at home, and cotton enough to 
pay every debt he owed, with some money always 
on hand. He was liberal to the Church and preach- 
ers, and nearly always had money to lend to needy 
applicants. He not only entertained every passing 
preacher with the most cordial hospitality, but some- 
times boarded the families of the itinerants for 
months at a time. The "preacher's room" was at 
the southwest corner of the venerable homestead. 
In politics he was an unvarying Jacksonian Demo- 
crat, and voted as regularly and as conscientiously 
as he discharged any other religious duty. Having 
witnessed several times the depreciation of paper 
money, he rigidly adopted a special currency in all 
his moneyed transactions, and he would neither give 
nor receive any other standard of valuation. He 
must have specie for his salable products, or there 
was no sale; if he loaned money, it was in specie 
and had, per contract, to be returned in the same 
currency. When the quarterage came up from 
Spring Hill, there were always one or two pieces of 
gold coin in the package. He adhered to this to the 
end of life, and his funeral expenses were paid in 
Vol. II. — 15 

226 A Complete History of Methodism 

gold. He was utterly opposed to all sorts of pic- 
tures and statuary representing human beings. He 
thought this led to the idolatrous worship of he- 
roes among the ancient heathens and the worship 
of saints in the Roman Catholic Church. When he 
was far advanced in life, some of his children became 
very anxious to have his likeness, and contrived to 
get it without his consent. One of the family bar- 
gained with a daguerrotypist to have his camera 
ready just inside the courthouse at Fayette, and 
when Mr. Folkes mounted his horse to leave town 
he would stop him before the door to have a few 
parting words with him, and hold his horse in a 
position to have the picture taken. The plan was 
successful, and an equestrian picture of the old 
patriarch was secured. Mr. Folkes was an uncom- 
promising advocate for having the gospel preached 
to the negroes, and for this purpose he converted 
what had once been a dwelling house on his estate 
into a chapel, where he had his own and his neigh- 
bors' negroes regularly furnished with the gospel 
and ordinances of the Church, often leading their 
devotions himself. In this he persevered at consid- 
erable expense until his church was destroyed and 
its congregation dispersed by the results of the late 
war. The war left Mr. Folkes, like thousands of 
other cotton planters, with nothing but his land, 
some remnants of stock, and what ready money he 
had on hand. He soon adjusted himself to his new 
and oppressive circumstances, and became quite han- 
dy in almost every outdoor and household work. 
Until totally disabled by age, with no family but his 
aged wife, he persisted in keeping up his family de- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 227 

votions evening and morning, at which times he 
read, lined out, and sang a hymn in the old Meth- 
odist style, and then prayed a comprehensive prayer. 
Like the patriarch Jacob, he adjusted his family 
affairs with great precision, commended himself in. 
faith to his all-sufficient Saviour, and died in holy 
peace May 18, 1873. The maiden name of the wife 
that survives him was Eliza Scott, the eldest daugh- 
ter of the good Gabriel and Abigail (ne'e Griffing) 
Scott heretofore mentioned in this history. 

This year (1829) was a good year in the Confer- 
ence. We had an increase of eight hundred and sev- 
teen white and six hundred and seventy-one col- 
ored members. Our most extraordinary increase 
was in our Choctaw Mission. Dr. Talley and 
his colleagues held several camp meetings in the 
Nation during the year, attended with extraordi- 
nary physical manifestations, especially the "fall- 
ing exercise," and conversions were numbered by 
the thousand. The net increase among the Choc- 
taws was two thousand eight hundred and forty- 
three, in addition to the four hundred returned at 
our late Conference. 

As Dr. Talley hatl to pass directly through our 
circuit on his way to Conference and intended to 
bring an interpreter, with a delegation of converted 
Choctaws of both sexes, we appointed a two days' 
missionary meeting at Cane Ridge. They were on 
the ground in due time, and so were the people from 
all the region round about, anxious to see the strange 
sight. Choctaw Indians were no strange sight, for 
they had long been our near neighbors ; but Chris- 
tian Indians — Choctaws that could sing and pray 

228 A Complete History of Methodism 

and talk about religion and get happy— were the 
novel attraction. The crowd was so great that we , 
had to abandon the church and worship on the camp 
ground. It was indeed a great occasion to the white 
natives to see these children of the forest Christians, 
to hear them sing hymns in their own language with 
their melodious voices, using our old familiar/tunes, 
and to hear them pray and tell their Christian ex- 
perience through the interpreter. We raised four 
hundred dollars on the occasion in aid of the mis- 
sion. Our net increase this year, including all col- 
ors, was four thousand three hundred and thirty- 
one. The correct orthography of our Indian neigh: 
bors' tribal name is spelled in their own language 
without the final w ; but as it is so universally pro- 
nounced Choctaw by the whites, we shall continue 
to spell it that way. 



The Mississippi District at this time extended from 
Leaf River on the east to Lake St. Joseph west of 
the Mississippi River and from the line of the Choc- 
taw Nation on the north to the southern boundary 
of Jefferson and Copiah Counties. Thomas Griffin, 
the presiding elder, kept all the interests of the 
Church moving forward in this vast field, much of 
which had been but recently settled by white people. 
The higher lands in the overflowed country west of 
the Mississippi River were just now coming into 
market, and a number of the members and patrons 
of our Church had located on the river and on the 
various lakes and bayous in the swamp. Their de- 
sire for a preacher had given rise to the formation of 
Lake St. Joseph Circuit last year. Mr. Griffin trans- 
ferred Samuel Walker, the junior preacher on Bay- 
ou Pierre Circuit, to this new field. Mr. Walker 
was a very small man, with a limited education, but 
he was all preacher what little there was of him. 
He did a faithful year's work, and returned a mem- 
bership of ninety-six white and twenty -five colored 

Our people in the new county of Yazoo also ap- 
plied for a preacher, and Mr. Griffin sent them John 
Cotton, the colleague of Ira Byrd, on Big Black Cir- 
cuit, who organized what was long known as Yazoo 


230 A Complete History of Methodism 

Circuit, and returned a membership of ninety-two. 
This arrangement left Mr. Byrd with more than he 
was able to attend to on Big Black Circuit, as it em- 
braced both Hinds and Madison Counties, which 
were being rapidly settled. To relieve Mr. Byrd of 
an overburden and to meet an obvious want, Mr. 
Griffin had a new circuit improvised in Madison 
County called Standing Persimmon, the name of a 
noted creek in its bounds. This name never ap- 
peared, even in the written journal, except in the 
recommendation of Joshua Saxon for deacon's or- 
ders; but it was the foundation of what was this 
year called Madison, which became one of the most 
productive circuits in the Mississippi Conference. 
Thomas Griffin was now in the maturity of his min- 
isterial life, and was the right man for this new 

The Conference which begins this ecclesiastical 
year assembled at Washington, Miss., December 17, 
1829. Bishop Roberts was present, he and William 
McMahan having come on horseback from the Ten- 
nessee Conference, which had lately been held at 
Huntsville, Ala. We now miss the legible style and 
correct orthography of proper names of William 
Winans, so long the Secretary of our Conference, 
Joseph McDowell having been elected to that office 
at this Conference. Mr. Winans's exhausted 
strength and nervousness, with his extra duties in 
the Bishop's council, would not permit this addition 
to his labor. This annual session was well attended 
from the three States. 

We were indebted to the Masonic Fraternity for 
a very commodious hall in which to hold the Con- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 231 

ference, and for which we returned them our grate- 
ful acknowledgments. The Conference again, with 
due consideration, "Resolved that the candidates 
for admission and those who remain on trial, with 
our local brethren and visiting ministers from other 
Conferences, be admitted as spectators." Mark 
Westmoreland, Joseph P Snead, Daniel Sears, 
James P Thomas, Job Foster, Richard J. Warner, 
William Cobb, William Redwine, Hardy Mullins, and 
Daniel Barlow were admitted on trial. Thomas 
Lynch was discontinued, and so were Joshua Peavy, 
Felix Wood, and William C. Gayle, at their own re- 
quest. Thomas Lynch was the son-in-law of the 
celebrated Mark Moore, and was at this time in ma- 
ture manhood, fairly educated, and capable of asso- 
ciating with the most intelligent and refined society, 
and withal was well read in theology, but was so 
wanting in self-confidence that he frequently broke 
down in the middle of his sermons and abruptly 
closed the service. Such complaints were made to 
his presiding elder on this account that he thought 
it best to recommend his discontinuance for the 
present. In January, 1839, Mr. Lynch reappeared 
in the Alabama Conference, and soon rose to distinc- 
tion among his cola*borers, being stationed in the 
city of Tuscaloosa the first year, and the second 
appointed presiding elder of the Talladega District, 
having graduated to elder's orders as a local preach- 
er. He continued to fill some of the most important 
charges in the Alabama Conference until advanced 
age required him to be placed on the superannuated 
roll, which relation he sustained until his trium- 
phant death, in 1864. 

232 A Complete History of Methodism 

Henry Stephenson, Benjamin F Coxe, Francis A. 
McWilliams, Daniel D. Brewer, Andrew Adams, 
Richard Pipkin, John Bilbo, Preston Cooper, Na- 
than Hopkins, Eugene V Le Vert, Benjamin B. 
Smith, Blanton P. Box, Samuel Walker, and Jdhn 
A. Cotton were continued on trial. Daniel H. Nor- 
wood, Robert D. Smith, and John Mathews were re- 
ceived into full connection. Thomas C. Brown, 
Meredith Renneau, and Daniel Monaghon were re- 
admitted. Mr. Monaghon had formerly belonged to 
the South Carolina Conference, but located and re- 
moved to the Canebrake, in Marengo County, Ala. 
He was a faithful and a powerful preacher. His 
enunciation was rapid and monotonous, but inter- 
spersed with such native wit as kept the attention 
fixed. He was set off with the Alabama Conference, 
where he remained a faithful, acceptable, and useful 
laborer until his death, in the sixty-ninth year of his 
age, which occurred March 20, 1841. Joseph Mc- 
Dowell, Orsamus L. Nash, Benjamin A. Houghton, 
Richard H. Herbert, and Robert D. Smith were or- 
dained elders. Mr. Smith, by the request of Dr. 
Talley, was ordained elder two years in advance of 
his regular time in view of his missionary work in, 
the Choctaw Nation. Richard H. Herbert, John C. 
Burruss, William Spruill, Henry J. Brown, Hugh 
A. McPhail, and Daniel H. Norwood located at their 
own request. William V Douglas was placed on 
the supernumerary list and Miles EJarper was ex- 
pelled. From the local ranks Hardy Mulling, An- 
thony T. Simmons, Samuel Dawson, Jacob M. Early, 
Samuel Wilkinson, John Scarbrough, John Taggert, 
Joshua Saxon, and Willis Garner were elected to 

In the Mississippi Conference. 233 

deacon's orders, and Thomas ( '. Brown, Thomas Mel- 
lard, Felix Wood, Stephen Tunnell. H. Harris, and 
W Harris to elder's orders. Thomas Owens 
was still a great favorite in the Conference; and 
though personal debility, the repeated illness of his 
wife, and his domestic circumstances several times 
induced him to ask for a location, it was never grant- 
ed, the Conference preferring to keep him on the 
honored roll of worthy superannuates. God in his 
good providence has given us our 'iittle Tommy Ow- 
ens," and he was the only one we had or ever had, 
and we could not consent to see him retire from 
our body. We needed him at our annual sessions 
to overcome any little asperity that might flash up 
in the earnestness of debate, and to keep us all in 
good humor by his spontaneous wit and pleasantry. 
We left him without an appointment this year at 
his own request. Peter James was also left without 
an appointment at his own request. 

A great affliction overwhelmed this Conference in 
the expulsion of Miles Harper from the Conference 
and Church ; and what added to this weight of sor- 
row was the settled conviction on manv minds that 
the disastrous result was reached by prejudice and 
exaggerated and misc'onstrued testimony. Mr. Har- 
per's family lived on a little farm in the vicinity of 
Washington, where the Conference was now in ses- 
sion. Mr. Winans was the presiding elder, Mr. Drake 
the stationed preacher in Washington, and Mr. Har- 
per on Adams Circuit. The interests of the Church 
were going on smoothly, when the subject of holding 
a joint camp meeting between Washington Station 
and Adams Circuit was agitated. Mr. Winans, be- 

234 A Complete History of Methodism 

ing on a visit to Washington, after consulting with 
Mr. Drake and some leading members of his charge, 
agreed on the time and place for holding the camp 
meeting, thinking that Mr. Harper would coincide 
with them and cooperate in holding the meeting. 
Mr. Harper, being by several years the senior in the 
ministry of Mr. Winans and many more of Mr. 
Drake, allowed himself to feel slighted at not being 
invited to the consultation, and so expressed him- 
self to several prominent men in the Church. This 
was hastily construed into personal opposition to 
presiding elder and pastor, and also to the camp meet- 
ing under their leadership. When Mr. Harper was 
accused of hostile feelings, he promptly denied any 
such feeling or word or act leading in that direction. 
This denial was construed into a denial of what he 
had affirmed on the former occasions, and hence the 
charge of falsehood. The camp meeting was held, Mr. 
Harper and his adherents taking an active interest in 
its promotion. Soon after the camp meeting Mr. 
Harper was arraigned before a committee of trav- 
eling preachers under a charge of falsehood. He 
affirmed his innocence; but as those who heard had 
been summoned as witnesses against him, he had no 
available testimony to prove his innocence, and he 
was accordingly suspended until the meeting of the 
Annual Conference. The same testimony, given by 
the same witnesses before the committee, was intro- 
duced in the Conference; and while Mr. Harper still 
affirmed his innocence, he had no available testimony 
to establish it. The minds of many of the preach- 
ers were embarrassed. The weight of the testimony 
against the accused mainly hinged on the affirma- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 235 

tion of one man ; but here were not only three but 
more than three witnesses testifying against an 
elder, and while he steadily averred his innocence, he 
had no witnesses by whom to prove it. Whatever 
their private opinion might be, they had to be gov- 
erned by the testimony before tnem. Several, by 
their own request, were excused from voting. A 
motion was made by some one not named in the 
Journal that Mr. Harper be found guilty of false- 
hood, which motion prevailed. Mr. Winans, second- 
ed by Benjamin A. Houghton, moved that he be ex- 
pelled from the Methodist Episcopal Church, a ma- 
jority voting for and a respectable minority voting 
against it. It was in the afternoon, and Mr. Harper, 
being requested to withdraw from the Conference 
room, had ridden out to his home in the country. 
That evening or early next morning he was informed 
of the decision of the Conference and summoned to 
appear before the Conference early in the session 
of the day to receive his sentence. When the venera- 
ble man, after twenty-six years laboriously spent in 
the ministry, stood up in the Conference to receive 
his sentence, Bishop Roberts performed the painful 
duty assigned him in the most delicate, brotherly, 
and affectionate manner. Mr. Harper briefly replied 
that he still felt innocent of the charge of falsehood ; 
he had not knowingly made any untrue statement; 
he did not blame either the Bishop or the body of the 
Conference for his present afflicting position; the 
blame lay against others ; he felt a weight of sorrow 
that day that had never oppressed his heart before; 
when he that morning called his weeping family 
together and led their usual family devotions, with 

236 A Complete History of Methodism 

a consciousness that lie was beyond the pale of the 
Christian Church, the anguish of his heart was un- 
utterable ; he wished the Conference continued pros- 
perity, asked his brethren to pray for him that his 
faith might not fail, and that he might not be per- 
mitted to fall into sin, and then, with a meek and 
subdued countenance, retired from the Conference. 
None of the testimony is preserved in the Journal, 
and no details are recorded beyond the nature of 
the charge and the vote of his guilt and expulsion. 
We have had to depend on our memory for all the 
details. We traveled an adjoining circuit that year, 
attended the camp meeting which was the cause of 
the trouble, and were present and took great interest 
in the trial before the Conference; and to this day 
we do not see why that unpleasantness about the 
camp meeting was not amicably settled by a pri- 
vate Christian conference. Mr. Harper did not long 
cease to preach, for many of his acquaintances, 
both in and out of the Church, believed him innocent, 
and solicited a continuance of his services in the 
ministry. Mr. Harper was a thorough Methodist in 
doctrine and Church polity, and admitted no ar- 
rangement to unite with any other branch of the 
Church. He continued to preach four years as an 
independent Methodist preacher. Under our rules 
he could not return to the Church without contri- 
tion, confession, and evidence of amendment; and 
these conditions he could not comply with, for, what- 
ever others might believe, he affirmed that he was in- 
nocent of any intentional wrong. Tn the fall of 1833, 
by some episcopal arrangement, Francis A. Owens, 
of the Tennessee Conference, was stationed in the 

In the Mississippi Conference. 237 

city of Natchez and continued there for 1834. Mr. 
Owens was anf^icquaintance and admirer of Miles 
Harper, who had formerly been a member of the 
Tennessee Conference. Mr. Owens soon visited and 
had a *3»o»fersation with Mr. Harper about his 
Church relations. Mr. Harper told him that he 
could not offer himself to the Church in Washington, 
as it contained some of the men who had witnessed 
against him, and who, under the law of the Church, 
might demand of him evidence of contrition and 
amendment, which his conscious innocence would 
not permit. Mr. Owens, after consulting the lead- 
ing members of the Church in Natchez, informed 
him that he could be received there without any of 
these r^uirements. Early in 1834 Bishop McKen- 
dree, in the extreme feebleness of old age, made 
his last visit to Natchez. As Miles Harper and he 
in the long past had labored happily and successful- 
ly together in the famous old Western Conference, 
and as the Bishop had once enjoyed the hospitality 
and careful nursing of Mrs. Harper's father, Rev. 
John Ford, of Pearl River, and his family, during 
a protracted attack of illness, he came out to Wash- 
ington and spent several days with Mr. Harper and 
his family, and improved the opportunity to soothe 
his lacerated feelings and encourage his return to 
the Church. , Mr. Harper took the advice of his old 
and steadfast friends and united with the Church 
in Natchez, and was soon recognized by his brethren 
as a Methodist ntinister in good- standing. He left 
Washington and commenced opening a farm in the 
Mississippi Bottom, in Tensas Parish, La., where 

238 A Complete History of Methodism 

he ended his journey in peace with an assurance of 
entering into rest. 

Mrs. Harper was a very lovely Christian lady. 
She was a daughter of that stanch old local preach- 
er of Pearl River notoriety, Rev. John Ford, at 
whose house Bishop McKendree held the Mississippi 
Conference in the fall of 1818. Having been brought 
up in the lap of Methodism, she loved the Church 
and took a deep interest in all its movements. She 
maintained her personal piety to the end of life, and 
died in a good old age many years after the death 
of her husband. 

William V. Douglas came up to Conference sus- 
pended by a committee. The charges against him 
were imprudent and unchristian conduct and false- 
hood. After a full investigation, the charge of false- 
hood was not sustained ; but, with becoming regret, 
he acknowledged that in a moment of severe trial 
he had acted both imprudently and in a way quite 
unbecoming a Christian. By a resolution of the 
Conference he received a suitable admonition from 
the Chair, and there the matter ended. How much 
better it accords with the spirit of our heaven-de- 
scended Christianity to forgive and restore a broth- 
er who has been overtaken in a fault than to goad 
him to desperation by extreme measures! Our fe- 
male academies at Washington, Miss., and Tusca- 
loosa, Ala., were reported to be in a healthy condi- 
tion, and all their interests were duly considered. 
At our previous Conference we had resolved to unite 
with the Tennessee Conference in the establishment 
of Lagrange College ; and as we were pledged to the 
patronage of Augusta College, in Kentucky, we in- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 239 

formed the President of that college that our pat- 
ronage hereafter would be given to Lagrange. Rev. 
William McMahan was again present as the repre- 
sentative of the Tennessee Conference in behalf of 
Lagrange, and presented a constitution which had 
been adopted by the Tennessee Conference for the 
government of the college. This constitution was 
thoroughly analyzed by our Conference and sundry 
amendments proposed. The Conference concurred 
in the election of Rev. Robert Paine as President, 
with two professors, who were expected to open the* 
college for students at the earliest opportunity. A 
Board of Commissioners was appointed to meet a 
similar Board from the Tennessee Conference at 
Lagrange in order to perfect and put into imme- 
diate operation our plans. The preachers were also 
instructed to raise by subscription on their different 
charges what funds they could for the erection of 
buildings and endowment of the college. 

The first society in our territory, formed by Tobias 
Gibson in 1799, consisted of eight persons, two of 
whom were negroes — a man and his wife. From 
that time forward our preachers paid due attention 
to the religious wants of the colored people as far 
as circumstances would permit. For a long time 
they were thinly scattered among the white popu- 
lation, few persons owning many of them, so that 
they were served in connection with the white con- 
gregations. In building their churches our forefa- 
thers generally provided a suitable place for the 
colored people to sit. They were admitted to Church 
membership, had access to the sacraments and so- 
cial meetings of the Church, and were cared for by 

240 A Complete History of Methodism 

every pastor as a legitimate part of his charge. As 
they, increased in numbers, they were frequently 
preached to in separate congregations, and were en- 
couraged to hold religious meetings, properly con- 
ducted, among themselves. No one anticipated any 
evil consequences from granting them all essential 
religious privileges, either to the white or colored 
people, until the antislavery men and abolitionist* 
of the Northern States began to stir up strife on 
the subject of a forced emancipation. There never 
was any controversy in the Mississippi Conference 
on the subject of slavery. The Journal is not dis- 
figured in a single instance either by a slavery or 
antislavery resolution. The Conference looked on 
it as a civil institution entailed on the country by 
those who had lived before, and as protected and its 
perpetuity guaranteed by the constitution of the 
United States and the constitutions and laws of the 
States embraced in the Conference territory; and 
whatever we might feel at liberty to say or do in 
our capacity as citizens of the country, we did not 
look on slavery as a legitimate subject to be dis- 
cussed either in our Church meetings or Annual 
Conferences. Our sole duty was to preach the gos- 
pel faithfully both to master and slave, and enforce 
on each the faithful discharge of all their relative 
Christian duties as plainly taught in the Word of 
God, and encourage them to serve their common Fa- 
ther in heaven faithfully together, and live in joy- 
ful hope of a better life in the great hereafter. 

The negro population had so increased, especially 
in the rich land districts on the margins of our nu- 
merous rivers and bayous, that it became necessary 

In the Mississippi Conference. 241 

to take an advanced step in order to reach them all 
with the gospel. Thomas Clinton offered the first 
resolution that appears on our Journal, to "instruct 
our missionary committee to inquire into the ex- 
pediency of sending missionaries to the people of 
color in our own country, which resolution pre- 
vailed;" and from this time until universal eman- 
cipation took place our colored missions and pas- 
toral charges became an important part of our reg- 
ular ministerial work. Whatever may be the re- 
sult of their present separate and independent 
Church organizations, the truth of history will for- 
ever show that up to the time of their emancipation 
all the Church privileges that they ever had and all 
that they possessed of Christian knowledge had been 
given them by Southern ministers and Southern 
Churches; and mainly by the ministers and mem- 
bers of what is now known as the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church, South. Our record as a Church will 
compare favorably with the requisitions of the New 
Testament scriptures in relation both to master and 

The cause in New Orleans, was advancing with 
accelerated motion, and was beginning to be perma- 
nently settled in the city. William Winans was no 
longer needed as a special agent "for the New Or- 
leans meetinghouse business;" that was now con- 
fided to the pastor and official board. The Church 
had by some means come into possession of a lot on 
the corner of St. Joseph and St. Charles Streets, 
which had lately been sold according to the Disci- 
pline, and the proceeds placed at the disposal of the 
Conference for the benefit of the Church in the city. 
Vol. II.— 16 

242 A Complete History of Methodism 

The Conference instructed the preacher, in charge to 
receive the money from the stewards, and after pay- 
ing a small balance against our little church on 
Gravier Street and making some needed repairs to 
invest the surplus at interest as the foundation of 
a fund for the erection of a parsonage. It was long 
before that parsonage was built, if it ever was. 

After a protracted session of ten days, Conference 
adjourned on Saturday morning, having fixed upon 
Tuscaloosa, Ala., as the place of its next sitting, 
and Bishop Roberts appointing November 24, 1830, 
as the time. The failing strength of William Wi- 
nans required that he should be released from the 
Washington District at the end of his third year, 
and Barnabas Pipkin was appointed as his suc- 
cessor. In order to give Mr. Winans an opportuni- 
ty of resting and recruiting a little, he was appoint- 
ed Conference Agent to raise missionary and other 
Church funds. William Stephenson and Ashley 
Hewitt were declared effective, and Ashley Hewitt, 
in hope of recruiting from the effects of his long 
continuance in the humid atmosphere of Western 
Louisiana, had removed to the cane hills in the rear 
of Vicksburg a year ago and was appointed to War- 
ren Circuit, where he was continued the present 
year. The Mississippi District was partially re- 
modeled and the name changed to Bayou Pierre, 
with Thomas Griffin continued as presiding elder. 
Lake Providence Mission was revived, placed in the 
Bayou Pierre District, and Francis A. McWilliams 
appointed in charge. Yazoo Circuit was put on the 
roll of pastoral charges and John Cotton continued 
there. The improvised circuit of the past year in 

In the ■Mississippi Conference, 243 

Madison County, called Standing Persimmon, took 
the name of Madison, with Benjamin F. Coxe in 
charge. The valley of Big Black River had become 
noted for its nnhealthiness. Lewellen Leggett,*its 
first jpreacher, had died, and others had been sick, 
so that many of the preachers dreaded the thought 
of being sent to Big Black Circuit. The very name 
conveyed the idea of malarial chills and bilious fe- 
vers. A strong Methodist settlement had formed 
midway between Big Black and Pearl River, near 
the northwestern corner of Copiah County. At a 
place rich in pure spring water they built a church 
and camp ground, which became noted as the head- 
quarters of Methodism in that region. They called 
the church and camp ground Crystal Spring; and 
as it was the most important point on Big Black 
Circuit, the name of the circuit was changed to that 
of Crystal Spring, and x from this date the circuit 
was thought to be as healthy as any in the Confer- 
ence. The new name conveyed the idea of pure, 
limpid water in a high, healthy location. Verily 
there is something in a name. No change was made 
in the Louisiana District except the addition of a 
new circuit called Little River. This circuit was 
made out of territory a portion of wnich had been 
partially occupied from the early days of Methodism 
in Western Louisiana, and lay mostly in the parish 
of Catahoula, embracing Boeuf Prairie, and Sicily 
Island, east of the Washita River, and the country 
west of that river between Harrisonburg and Alex- 
andria. Isaac V. Enochs was appointed in charge. 
In the Washington District, Orsamus L. Nash was 
stationed in Natchez and William M, Curtis contin- 

244 A Complete History of Methodism 

ued in New Orleans. Washington Station and 
Adams Circuit were reunited, and Benjamin M. 
Drake, who was still President of Elizabeth Female 
Academy, was put in charge. In the Alabama Dis- 
trict, Robert L. Walker succeeded Thomas Burpo in 
Mobile, and Mr. Burpo was appointed to organize 
a new charge on the Alabama River called Clai- 
borne. This was a second effort to erect the town 
of Claiborne into a station, which seems to have 
failed again, as the name does not appear on our 
Journal afterwards. 

Another new work was organized, mostly in the 
southern part of Greene County, called in the Gen- 
eral Minutes Prairie, but in our Journal Prairie 
Creek, the name having been suggested by that of a 
creek in the central portion of the circuit. This 
territory had formerly composed the southern part 
of the old Tuscaloosa Circuit. Thomas S. Aber- 
nathy was appointed to organize and take charge of 
this circuit. In the Cahawba District, Robert L. 
Kennon was continued in the city of Tuscaloosa. 
A new work was organized, with appointments 
taken from the older circuits in the vicinity of Co- 
lumbus, which took the name of Columbus, this 
growing town being the chief point of interest in 
its bounds. Preston Cooper was appointed in 

Montgomery, on the left bank of the Alabama 
River, and since i847 the capital of the State, was 
this year put on the roll of regular pastoral charges 
for the first time as a station. The introduction 
and progress of Methodism in Montgomery is a very 
striking illustration of its rise and progress in many 

In t%e Mississippi Conference. 24:6 

other localities, and is well calculated to extort the 
exclamation, "What hath God wrought!" Mont- 
gomery and the surrounding country were settled 
soon after the extinction of the Indian title. As 
early as 1819 there were people enough in the town 
and vicinity to require the services of a minister. 
Several Methodist families from the older States 
had settled in the new community, and were anx- 
iously looking for the coming of the itinerant. 
Among the Methodist emigrants was the family of 
Mrs. Flora Mills, from North Carolina. Mrs. Mills 
prevailed on a local preacher by the name of James 
King to spend several months in the town and sur- 
rounding country in 1819 and preach for them in 
their destitution. The services of Mr. King were 
both acceptable and useful, and he had the honor of 
being the pioneer preacher in Montgomery. In 1820 
it was included in Thomas Nixon's first Alabama 
circuit, which was six hundred miles round. From 
this date Montgomery was visited at irregular inter- 
vals by the itinerant preachers, but there is no ac- 
count of any regular organization of our Church 
until 1829. A log meetinghouse had been built about 
two miles distant, wJiere a society had been formed 
by emigrant Methodists, in 1821, and known as the 
Mills and Westcott Church. This original Church 
was composed of Thomas Hatchett, David Westcott, 
Thomas Nichols, Mrs. Flora Mills, and Mrs. John 
G. Ashley and their families. They were Methodists 
of the true stamp, and kept up all their Church 
meetings with prompt regularity and zeal. What 
few members were in the town held their member- 
ship at this country Church and went out there to 

246 A Complete History of Methodism 

hear preaching and attend class meetings. If one of 
the early" Methodistic traditions of Montgomery ^ is 
true, it indicates clearly the direction Bishop George 
took after holding the Mississippi Conference, in 
Washington, Miss., in December, 1821. The tradi- 
tion is that in January, 1822, Bishop George; in 
traveling eastward, stopped at Montgomery and 
preached to a large audience in the courthouse, 
which marked quite an era in the early history of 
the Church there. Bishop George was on his way 
to Charleston, S. C, where he was to meet the South 
Carolina Conference in January. For several years 
both the local and traveling preachers filled their ap- 
pointments in Montgomery either in private houses 
or in the courthouse. Dr. Moses Andrew, a local 
preacher, lived a number .of years in the town be- 
fore his removal to Tuscaloosa, and often preached 
to the villagers in the courthouse. During his res- 
idence there he united with Mr. William Sayre, a 
prominent member of the Presbyterian Church, in 
encouraging the people to build a union church, 
which for a time answered as a preaching place 
for all Protestant denominations. The house was 
left unfinished until a majority of those who sub- 
scribed to its erection offered to turn it over to any 
denomination that would finish and furnish it. The 
Methodists were anxious to accept the offer, but 
they were too poor and too much divided by the As- 
sociated Methodists to act in concert. The result 
was that the Presbyterians and Baptists finished the 
house and occupied most of the Sabbath time. This 
put the Methodists at a great disadvantage, which 
is very often the result of their union enterprises. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 247 

About 1828 the country log church, two miles dis- 
tant from'lloiitgomery, being dilapidated, and the 
members being too'much divided by the Associated 
Methtfdists to keep up a respectable organization, 
those who still adhered to the Methodist Episcopal 
Church consented to unite with the members in 
town in the organization of the first Methodist 
Church in Montgomery. September 15, 1829, is giv- 
en as the date when this organization was complet- 
ed. Rev. James H. Mellard, who officiated on the oc- 
casion, was presiding eder of the Alabama District. 
The members who composed the first regularly or- 
ganized Methodist Episcopal Church in Montgom- 
ery are as follows: Thomas and Rachel Hatchett, 
Eliza Westcott, Susanna Nichols, Susanna Murrell, 
Cecilia Williamson, Lavinia brothers, Mary T. Clop- 
ton, Eliza P. Blue, and Mrs. S. Fields. This little 
society of ten formed the original nucleus around 
which vast multitudes of holy men and women have 
since rallied and formed their characters for heaven. 
During the present year this little band was 
strengthened by the addition of Neill Blue, Zecha- 
riah Fjelds, Harriet Amanda Blue (not then quite 
eleven years old), William Y., Willis, and Catherine 
Higgins, Hardy Herbert, R. H. Dart, Ann Spencer, 
Robert and Catherine Parker (from the Wesley an 
Church in London), Richard Morgan, and Charles 
0. Rush. Thirty-two colored members were received. 
Such was their poverty that they were unable to 
raise five hundred dollars to buy the lot on which 
the union church stood. In 1875 their successors 
worshiped in a spacious edifice that cost twenty-five 
thousand dollars and can seat comfortably two 

248 A Complete History of Methodism 

thousand hearers, with a white membership of five 

Those eminently pious and exemplary ladies, by 
their prayers, good works, and holy living, contrib- 
uted much to the introduction and permanent estab- 
lishment of Methodism in Montgomery. They not 
only invited the ministers to preach in Montgom- 
ery and entertained them while there with a liberal 
hospitality, but with their own fair hands prepared 
rooms for them to preach in until a church was built. 
Lydia, Paul's first convert in Philippi, was not more 
efficient in building up the first Christian Church 
in that city than were Eliza P. Blue, Lavinia Broth- 
ers, Mary T. Clopton, and their associates in intro- 
ducing and giving a permament and prosperous ex- 
istence to Methodism in Montgomery. All these 
"elect ladies" have gone to their reward except Eliza 
Westcott, who still holds her membership in Mont- 
gomery. Eliza P Blue was 'the wife of the now 
venerable Neill Blue, the first person that joined 
the newly organized Church on probation, and has 
since been one of the most reliable financiers in all 
our Church enterprises in the State capital. They 
were the honored parents of Rev. Oliver R. Blue, 
a prominent member of the Alabama Conference. 
She died of yellow fever in Montgomery Octo- 
ber 20, 1854, ready for the summons. Such was 
the death also of Lavinia Brothers, in 1832, aged 
sixty years. The beloved Mary T. Clopton, the re- 
fined, intellectual, and exemplary wife of Dr. J. B. 
Clopton, remained to adorn the doctrine of Christ 
her Saviour until August 8, 1873 ; she slept in Christ 
at the age of seventy-eight. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 249 

Rev. Benjamin A. Houghton, the first stationed 
preacher in Montgomery, was a faithful, good young 
minister, attentive to all his pastoral duties, and 
a clear expositor of the doctrines of Christianity, 
but deficient in "pulpit power." How much 
easier it was to introduce and extend Methodist 
Christianity in all the newly founded Protestant 
cities in our Conference territory than it was in 
those old Catholic cities and towns — Mobile, Pensa- 
cola, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Natchitoches, etc. 
—where the minds of the people had been beclouded 
by the ignorance, superstition, and bigotry of a false 

The Choctaw Mission continued under the super- 
intendence of Dr. Talley, with Robert D. Smith and 
Moses Perry as assistants. In addition to the three 
circuits already occupied, Dr. Talley had planned 
four others, which were left to be supplied. The 
Choctaw Nation at this time owned only about one- 
tenth of the territory which had belonged to them 
thirty years before, and which they had at various 
times sold to the United States. Already the better 
portions of the lands ceded by them to the govern- 
ment had become occupied, and the large influx of 
emigrants from the older States began to demand 
the final withdrawal of the Choctaws from Missis- 
sippi and their settlement in the West. In order 
to hasten their removal, the Legislature extended 
the jurisdiction of the State over them, and made 
them amenable to its laws. The educated and lead- 
ing men of the Nation saw that their removal was 
inevitable, andj||!t^tantlv entered into negotiations 
with the Federal government for the final cession 

250 A Complete History of Methodism 

of all their country east of the Mississippi River 
except reservations to such Indians as preferred to 
remain. The treaty was concluded on the 27th of 
September, 1830, and two years were allowed for 
their removal to the territory assigned them west 
of the State of Arkansas. The preliminary dis- 
cussion and final settlement of this treaty, with the 
very natural distress occasioned by leaving the 
homes and graves of their ancestors, in connection 
with the disorganization and bustle of moving in 
vast crowds to the West, was unavoidably unfavor- 
able to their religious progress. Most of them main- 
tained their religious and Methodistic integrity 
through all these trying scenes, and finally settled 
in their new country as Christians, and have contin- 
ued their adhesion to the Church to the present day. 
One of the missionaries, Rev. Moses Perry, married 
a clever and pious Choctaw woman this year and 


voluntarily fixed his destiny and that of his poster- 
ity with the Nation. He had great influence as a 
preacher among the Indians. He was adopted as 
one of the tribe, removed with them to their wilder- 
ness home in the West, and has ever since remained 
among them, a pious and useful minister. Mrs. Ben 
Leflore became the subject of deep awakenings. Her 
season of penitence was protracted. She became very 
much discouraged, and feared that God did not un- 
derstand the Choctaw language sufficiently to com- 
prehend her prayers. She would go below the line 
and spend a night with her friend, Mrs. Coher, and 
seek her advice and prayers. She informed Mrs. 
Coher that when she prayed in 'her own language 
her prayers went on without hesitation, but when 

In the Mississippi Conference. 251 

she tried to pray in English it took so much time to 
recall appropriate words that it interrupted her feel- 
ings. She feared God did not approve of prayers in 
the Choctaw language, as he had not yet given her 
the blessing she had so long sought. Mrs. Coher 
assured her that it was only a temptation of Satan; 
that acceptable prayer was when the heart talked 
with God and asked him for what was.needed in the 
name of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; and that 
the language used was not a matter of importance, 
as God understood and accepted all languages when 
the heart prayed. Mrs. Leflore was edified and com- 
forted, and soon became an experienced Christian. 

Our appointment this year was Port Gibson, in- 
cluding a small week-day congregation at Grand 
Gulf and two other small country congregations. 
This little charge was a new sort of work with us, 
and quite inconsistent with our former habits of 
traveling large circuits and preaching to crowded 
congregations. Being so circumscribed, with little 
provision made for our support and comfort in the 
early part of the year, made us sigh for the ever- 
changing scenery and freedom of a large circuit. 
Ours was the first church edifice erected in Port Gib- 
son. While Rev. John C. Burruss was the supply 
here, in 1826, he obtained an eligible lot (the same 
on which the present elegant church stands) and 
raised a subscription in time to lay the corner stone 
on the 30th of September. The ceremony was per- 
formed by the officers of the. Grand Lodge of Missis- 
sippi, assisted by the Masonic Brotherhood in Port 
Gibson. Through the thoughtful kindness of Mr. 
G. J. Rahin, of Natchez, we now have before us a 

252 A Complete History of Methodism 

printed copy of the able and eloquent address deliv- 
ered on the occasion by the most worthy Grand 
Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Mississippi, Rev. 
Mr. Pilmore. For a time prospects were flattering 
for the early completion of the church, but the pop- 
ular talents of Mr. Burruss were withdrawn, and a 
variety of circumstances conspired to hinder the 
completion of the church. In 1830 the house was 
floored and furnished with unpainted pulpit and 
seats, and a debt was hanging over it which it seemed 
impossible to liquidate without help from abroad. 
Thomas Griffin, our presiding elder, proposed that 
we visit our members and patrons in the adjacent 
counties, and invoke their aid in releasing the 
Church from its threatening creditors. While we 
were laboring to accomplish this desired object, we 
had the pleasure of attending a number of very re- 
freshing camp meetings. 

When God is pleased to pour out his Holy Spirit 
on a whole community, there are generally some 
very extraordinary manifestations of saving grace 
in individual cases. On St. Joseph Circuit the first 
place above the Point Pleasant plantation, on the 
right bank of the Mississippi River, was owned by a 
family by the name of Graham. It consisted of two 
brothers, their mother, and the family of James 
Graham and one or two others. James Graham was 
considered the head of the family, and he had yield- 
ed to the mistaken notion that to enjoy health in 
the swamp he must drink whisky several times each 
day. For this purpose he supplied himself with a 
barrel at a time. The Rev. Mr. Filer, of Natchez, 
a Presbyterian minister, had married Mrs. Turner, 

In the Mimiuippi Conference. 253 

the owner of the Point Pleasant plantation, and oc- 
casionally went np and spent several days with his 
superintendent, taking with him ample supply of 
religious traits for gratuitous distribution among 
the new settlers. On one of those visits James Gra- 
ham walked down to spend an hour or so with Mr. 
Filer. When about to leave, Mr. Filer presented him 
with several tracts. As he walked home, across the 
level plantation, he read one on the religious respon- 
sibilities of heads of families, which proved "sharp- 
er than a two-edged sword." He at once resolved, 
by the help of God, to become a Christian himself 
and do everything in his power to get his family 
to unite with him in seeking a preparation for heav- 
en; and as he looked. upon the daily use of whisky 
in his house as the greatest obstacle in the way, 
be determined to remove it summarily. He proceed- 
ed to his storeroom, rolled the barrel of whisky out. 
and picked up an ax. Mrs. Graham, seeing his move- 
ments, inquired: "Mr. Graham, what in the world 
are you going to do with that barrel of whisky?" 
"I am going » said he, "to offer a sacrifice to God. 
the best I can offer for the present." "Man alive !" 
said his wife, "you must be either drunk or crazy !" 
By this time the well-aimed blow had been struck. 
He then laid down his ax, and in a firm tone of 
voice said to Mrs. Graham that he was neither 
drunk nor crazy; that Parson Filer had presented 
him with several religious tracts, one of which he 
had read as he walked home and which had con- 
vinced him that he was a great sinner and was 
cursing his family with a bad example. He had de- 
termined instantly to change his course, and he hoped 

254 A Complete History of Methodism. 

his family would unite with him in the service of 
God. His house soon became a preaching place, and 
most of the family, if not all, became spiritual mem- 
bers of the Church. Mr. Graham first became a very 
active and useful layman and then a local preacher. 
The aggregate number of members (exclusive of 
the traveling preachers) now under our charge was 
nineteen thousand five hundred and fifty-two. We 
returned to Port Gibson from our camp meeting 
campaign and collecting tour having received 
enough in money and subscriptions to place our 
church beyond the danger of being sold for debt. 
We succeeded in getting up a camp meeting at Shi- 
loh, one of our country appointments, where some 
good was done. The conversion of one vouth there 
who afterwards became the head of a large family 
nearly all of whom from generation to generation 
have become Methodists was ample compensation for 
the labors and expense of the camp meeting. 



According to appointment, the Conference met in 
Tuscaloosa, Ala., November 24, 1830. Neither of the 
superintendents being present, Ebenezer Hearn, the 
presiding elder of the Cahawba District, was re- 
quested to open the Conference and to preside the 
first day. No bishop appearing the second day, the 
Conference then proceeded to elect a President from 
the presiding elders, there being but two present. 
James H. Mellard was elected. Joseph McDowell 
was elected Secretary. The distance to Tuscaloosa 
being great and the season of the year usually in- 
clement, an unusual number of preachers were ab- 
sent, especially from Western Mississippi and Lou- 
isiana, including some of our most experienced coun- 
selors. This, in connection with the absence of a 
bishop, made business progress slowly, but about as 
satisfactorily as usual. The undergraduates were 
again admitted to the Conference room as specta- 
tors by formal vote. Jacob Mathews, Anthony 
Dickinson, Jacob Segrist (deacon elect), John B. 
Higginbotham, Bevil Taylor (in elder's orders), Isaac 
Applewhite, James Applewhite, Washington Ford, 
Joshua Peavy (elder elect), William Howie, Charles 
McLeod, Needham B. Raiford, Newet Drew, William 
Weir, and Jesse Ellis (deacon elect)— fifteen in all- 
were admitted on trial. Francis A. McWilliams, 


256 A Complete History of Methodism 

Blanton P Box, Andrew Adams, Richard J. War- 
ner, William Redwine, and Henry Stephenson were 
discontinued at their own request, Mr. Warner on 
account of ill health and Mr. Stephenson on account 
of family claims. James P Thomas, Job Foster. 

« 7 

Hardy Mullins, William B. Cobb, Joseph P Snead, 
Daniel Sears, John Bilbo, Francis H. Jones (trans- 
ferred from the Tennessee Conference), and Daniel 
B. Barlow were continued on trial, William B. 
Cobb with the understanding that he guard against 
certain indiscretions in his conversation and con- 
duct hereafter. Eugene V Le Vert, Richard Pipkin, 
David Harkey, Benjamin F Coxe, Preston Cooper, 
Daniel D. Brewer, John A. Cotton, Nathan Hop- 
kins, Benjamin B. Smith, and Samuel Walker were 
received into full connection and all elected to dea- 
con's orders except Messrs. Le Vert and Harkey, 
who had been previously ordained and were now eli- 
gible to elder's orders. Eugene V. Levert, Jephthah 
Hughes, James A. Hughes, William H. Turnley, Le- 
roy Massengale, Lewis S. Turner, Moses Perry, Da- 
vid Harkey, Mark Westmoreland, and Ewell Petty 
were elected elders, some of them having graduated 
to that order in part as local preachers. R. Griffin 
Christopher, formerly a member of the South Caro- 
lina Conference, and also Ewell Petty and Mark 
Westmoreland, in deacon's orders, formerly of the 
same Conference, were readmitted. Thomas Burpo 
was voted a supernumerary relation, and Meredith 
Renneau, Thomas C. Brown, Ashley Hewitt, Joseph 
McDowell, and Orsamus L. Nash were located at 
their own request. From the local ranks Jacob 
Denton, Obed Lovelady, Alfred Ghaskill, Jesse Ellis, 

In the MUsissippi Conference. 257 

T. Bynuin, Peter Foust, Isaac Taylor, John Scar- 
borough, Jacob Taggart, Martin Simms, Humphrey 
Buck, and Leonard Tarrant were elected deacons, 
and Joshua Peavy and James Monnette elders. The 
preachers all stood remarkably well at this Confer- 
ence both in their Christian and ministerial charac- 
ters except some minor complaints against two or 
three probationers. Rev. William McMahan, of the 
Tennessee Conference, was again present as the ac- 
tive agent of Lagrange College, and everything was 
adjusted to give it all the prestige and efficiency in 
[>ur power. Our female academies were also carefully 
considered, and every measure adopted to make them 
meet the expectations of the friends of liberal edu- 

A discussion was again had on the subject of Free- 
masonry. A committee was appointed to report, and 
the matter was several times brought before the Con- 
ference ; but the anti-Masons, somehow, could not get 
it what they supposed was a concealed evil. The 
Conference had learned to let things prudently alone 
:hat did not properly come under its jurisdiction. 
Some of the members of the Conference had fallen in 
irrears with the Book # Concern, in New York, and 
K. M. Drake and E. Hearn were appointed to corre- 
spond with the delinquents with a view to the early 
'ettlement of all outstanding accounts. It was 
nade one of the imperious duties of preachers in 
jiarge of circuits and stations to supply all the so- 
ieties with our Church publications, and they were 
>ften mistaken, in ordering books, as to the number 
hey could sell. When Conference came, they were 
xpected to pay the inevitable Book Committee 
Vol. U.-17 

258 A Complete History of Methodism 

whether the books were sold or not. The plan of 
circulating our Church literature has been revised 
several times, but has not yet gained the efficiency 
which its importance demands. Hitherto the itin- 
erant preachers have been depended upon almost ex- 
clusively to circulate the Church literature, and it 
has been one of their most embarrassing and 
unthankful duties. The individual Churches ought 
to take hold of this matter and see that their imme- 
diate neighborhood is well supplied with denomina- 
tional books and periodicals. 

Through the hands of Mrs. Caroline Matilda Thay- 
er we again received a handsome donation from the 
Female Assistance Society at Washington, Miss. 
There were but few changes made in the plan of the 
work at this Conference. La Fourche Mission, 
which had been left two years to be supplied, was 
dropped from the list of appointments. St. Jo- 
seph is not in the list of appointments in the Gen- 
eral Minutes, but is incidentallv mentioned in the 
Journal. Another new charge was formed from the 
southern end of the old Tuscaloosa Circuit mostly 
in Green County, including Greensboro, and was 
called Green. R. Griffin Christopher was preacher 
in charge. William Stephenson was continued on 
the Louisiana District, with six young men on his 
five circuits. Prospects were brightening west of 
the Mississippi. Tn the Washington District Wil- 
liam M. Curtis was stationed in Natchez and Wil- 
liam V Douglass in New Orleans. The growth of 
the Church was preceptible but slow in New Or- 
leans, and embarrassed with many difficulties. For 
several years there was rather a falling off in the 

In the Mississippi Conference. 259 

number of white members, ranging from forty six 
in 1830 to sixty-four in 1832 and forty-eight in 1836. 
There was considerable increase in the colored mem- 
bership. In the Bayou Pierre District Benjamin M. 
Drake, who was still President of the Elizabeth Fe- 
male Academy, at Washington, was appointed pas- 
tor of the Church in Port Gibson, which was thirty 
eight miles distant, with the three forks of Coles 
Creek without bridges intervening. This was a hard 
appointment both on the pastor and congregation, 
for he could only preach them, one sermon on the 
Sabbath, and they were deprived of his presenCe^iBtF 
pastoral labors the remainder of the week. The 
Church could not prosper under these unpropitious 

The little mission at Lake Providence had assumed 
the proportions of a large circuit, taking in various 
settlements above and below the Lake in Louisiana, 
crossing over to Washington County, Miss., and em- 
bracing the new settlements on Lake Washington. 
A number of families of Methodist proclivities, in- 
cluding the Worthingtons, Shelbys, Princes, and oth- 
ers, had located near the Lake and gave the mission- 
ary preacher a cordjal welcome. Washington Ford, 
one of the three preacher sons of Rev. John Ford, 
of Pearl River, was in charge of Lake Providence 
Mission, and, with the liberal assistance of Harbord 
Hood, inaugur ated the first camp meeting ever held 
on Lake Providence. In company with that most 
congenial man and minister, John Lane, of Vicks- 
burg, we had the pleasure of attending this primi- 
tive camp meeting. The tenters were few. but the 
provision was bountiful. Some of the early settlers 

260 A Complete History of Methodism 

in that wilderness were rather shy at first of such 
a novelty as a camp meeting, but they soon seemed 
quite at home on the camp ground. We had a prof- 
itable camp meeting. The bottom lands were being 
rapidly occupied by wealthy cotton planters, which 
soon filled the country with a large colored popula- 
tion. They were permitted to attend camp meet- 
ing, especially at night and on the Sabbath. The 
negroes have strong, melodious voices, and the 
crowds attending the camp meeting soon caught the 
songs and choruses and enlivened the midnight hours 
with a vast swell of the most enrapturing Church 
music. It could not but make the pious mind think of 
the heavenly choir. The young city of Yicksburg 
was detached from Warren Circuit and made a sta- 
tion. The presiding elder supplied it by the em- 
ployment of John O. T. Hawkins, who was now lo- 
cal and engaged in secular business at Vicksburg. 
After an absence of two years, the writer was re- 
appointed to Warren Circuit. The two camp meet- 
ings, one at Wren's Camp Ground and the other at 
Lums, were gracious seasons. During the year 
there was a large ingathering in the vicinity of the 
Lower Yazoo Bluffs, which resulted in building a 
church near Milldale, long known as Baker's Chapel, 
in honor of Rev. Dr. Job M. Baker, who lived near 
and took a very active and liberal part in the erec- 
tion of the chapel and in the edification of the spir- 
itual Church. The work of grace also spread ex- 
tensively in the southern part of the county on the 
waters of Bogue de Shay. "The Warren Fire Com- 
pany" was still in full blast. Numbers who had 
been brought to Christ two years before, both men 

In the Mississippi Conference. 261 

and women, were now pillars in the Church, taking 
an active part in the class and prayer meetings and 
all other assemblies for advancing the kingdom of 
Christ. It is joyful to know that most of them were 
faithful unto death, and left the sweet assurance 
that they were numbered with the heirs of eternal 

James H. Mellard was continued on the Alabama 
District, which now contained ten pastoral charges, 
taking in the whole breadth of Southern Alabama 
and extending westward in Mississippi to include 
Leaf River Circuit. This was an ample territory 
for one man. Mr. Mellard was light, lithe, active, 
and indomitable. Benjamin A. Houghton was sta- 
tioned in Mobile, which was slowly becoming a self- 
sustaining work, though still numbered among the 
missions. The Church at this time contained fifty-nine 
white and one hundred and ninety-eight colored 
members. Robert D. Smith was withdrawn from 
the Choctaw Mission and stationed in Montgomery, 
with a membership of twenty-four white and thirty- 
two colored members, which increased during the 
year to sixty-four white and thirty-five colored mem- 
bers. Mr. Smith was a very earnest worker among 
the people of his charge. He was tall and spare, of 
good, appearance and courtly manners, an agreeable 
conversationalist, and a fluent preacher. His man- 
ner was sententious, didactic, and earnest, but not 
boisterous. He was now one of the rising young men 
of our Conference. 

The name of Cahawba District was changed to 
Black Warrior, and Robert L. Kennon appointed 
presiding elder. Robert L. Walker was stationed 

262 A Complete History of Methodism 

in the city of Tuscaloosa. Alexander Talley was 
continued the superintendent of the Choctaw Mis- 
sion, with Moses Perry and John Cotton as col- 
leagues. The unsettled condition of the Nation cast 
quite a shadow over our prospects, and the statis- 
tics show a diminished membership. William Wi- 
nans, being still too feeble to do effective work, was 
continued Conference Agent for raising funds for 
missionary and other Church purposes, and Ebene- 
zer Hearn was appointed Agent for Lagrange Col- 
lege. The preachers were generally pleased with 
their appointments, and there was now a fine work- 
ing force in the three States. As the honored name 
of Ashley Hewitt by his voluntary location now dis- 
appears forever from the roll of the itinerancy, it is 
due to his memory and faithful and long-continued 
labors as a traveling preacher to record a few addi- 
tional facts about him and his family. Ashley 
Hewitt was admitted into the South Carolina Con- 
ference, held at Columbia December 22, 1810, and 
after traveling five years in that Conference came as 
a missionary to Mississippi. Of the fifteen years 
spent in active work, twelve were spent in Western 
Louisiana, where, from long rides, constant exposure, 
and frequent preaching his constitution became 
hopelessly prostrated. He should have been placed 
on the honored roll of worn-out preachers for the 
remainder of his life. The Mississippi Conference, 
as in the case of Thomas Owens and a few other 
faithful itinerants, ought to have refused to vote 
a location to such a man as Ashley Hewitt and kept 
him among them until removed by death and then 
honored his name and labors with a suitable mem- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 263 

oir in the General Minutes. In person Mr. Hewitt 
was tall and spare, light-complexioned, full, mild 
blue eyes, large mouth, and protruding lips; his 
countenance was indicative of repose and benevolence 
and his general characteristic was that of unoffend- 
ing harmlessness. In the pulpit he stood very erect ; 
his voice was loud and smooth and his enunciation 
remarkably distinct. His gestures were slow and 
moderate. He had a way of seldom looking into the 
faces of his congregation, but around the walls just 
above their heads. His sermons were well planned 
and his different points well made. His variety of 
sermons was not extensive, and he often preached 
the same sermon almost precisely in the same words. 
There was an unction about his slow, clear, and em- 
phatic preaching that gave it influence over the 
hearts of his hearers. In 1826, at a little camp 
meeting in the pine hills, about fifteen miles west of 
Monroe, in Washita Parish, La., the first ever held 
in that region, Mr. Hewitt preached at eleven o'clock 
on Sabbath morning. He was in feeble health; but 
as he proceeded in his clear, deliberate, and emphatic 
style, standing very erect and looking around on the 
trees above the heads of his auditors, the tide of re- 
ligious feeling silently rose higher and higher until 
it became almost unbearable. After the service, 
Dr. Talley was asked how he enjoyed the sermon. 
"O," said he, "it liked to have killed me ! My earth- 
en vessel was so full it was ready to break and let 
my enraptured soul fly away toward heaven." Many 
could bear testimony to the wondrous words of grace 
spoken that day, so deliberately that one could feast 
on each sentence before being hurried on to another. 

264 A Complete History of Methodism 

Mr. Hewitt determined to try the hills of Warren 
County, Miss. His old friend and fellow-laborer, 
Rev. John Lane, supplied him with land near Vicks- 
burg, and assisted him in building houses for the 
comfort of his family. In 1829 and 1830 he had 
charge of Warren Circuit, but his health continued 
to fail until he lost all hope of ever being able to 
do effective work as an itinerant preacher. He did 
not attend our late Conference, but sent a simple 
request to be given a location, which was granted. 
Feeling that his end was drawing near, he decided 
to take his family back to their old home in the 
Prairie Mer Rouge. Here, by industry and economy, 
he lived a few years in comfort. 

There is a beautiful story confirmatory of the 
power of Christian faith connected with the death 
of Miss Nancy Hewitt, his oldest daughter, which oc- 
curred a short time before his own death. She was 
a lovely girl just blooming into mature womanhood. 
Her complexion was fair, and both her physical and 
mental endowments resembled those of her father. 
She had always been a very innocent child, and es« 
pecially after she joined the Church was blameless in 
her outward deportment, but she lived without the 
witness of her acceptance in Christ until near her 
death. This was a source of affliction to her father, 
especially after he saw she was marked for an early 
grave. Mr. Hewitt felt that it would embitter all 
his after life for his beloved daughter to die without 
leaving an evidence of her acceptance in Christ. Be- 
ing greatly exercised about her, he rose in the still- 
ness of the night and, upon bended knees, gave him- 
self to prayer, but no responsive answer came. Aft- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 265 

er resting his feeble body a short time, he arose 
again and prayed a second time, but the answer was 
not yet After a short rest, he arose and prayed a 
third/time. He now felt that spirit of prayer which 
borders on agony, and he prayed more earnestly 
than ever. It was now that the clouds dispersed 
and faith that Nancy would obtain a bright assur- 
ance of her acceptance before death pervaded his 
whole being. The father and daughter both rapidly 
declined, and soon became so feeble that they could 
not visit each other's room. Nancy was going first* 
Mrs. Hewitt entered his room and announced that 
Nancy was dying. "Has she professed to find peace 
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ?" inquired 
Mr. Hewitt. The question was answered negatively, 
and Mr. Hewitt replied: "Then she will not die yet. 
I could as soon doubt my own Christian experience 
as to doubt that she will have a bright evidence of 
the forgiveness of all her sins before she leaves us. 
Return to her room and remain with her." In a 
short time Mrs. Hewitt returned with the sad an- 
nouncement that Nancy was really dead. Mr. Hewitt 
inquired with emphasis: "Did she profess to have 
an assurance of her salvation ?" Mrs. Hewitt replied : 
"She said nothing about it." "Then," said Mr. Hew- 
itt, "she is not dead. God will not disappoint my 
faith and let my hope be lost." "O, Mr. Hewitt," re- 
plied the weeping mother, "could you see her as I 
saw her just now, you too would believe her dead !" 
The functions of life were evidently suspended for 
a few moments. While all around was sorrow and 
tears, her aunt, Mrs. Knox, discovered a slight mo- 
tion of her lips, as though she were trying to say 

266 A Complete History of Methodism 

something; and, putting her ear close to her mouth, 
heard her say in almost inaudible whispers, "O Je- 
sus, Jesus! sweet Jesus! Thou art come! I am so 
happy ! so happy ! Glory be to God !" and other ex- 
pressions of holy triumph. She rallied under the 
rapturous excitement, had the family called togeth- 
er, requested the presence of the servants, and "wit- 
nessed a good confession" before all, assuring them 
of her salvation and exhorting them all to meet her 
in heaven. Her strength and voice kept up aston- 
ishingly until her work was done, and then she began 
to sink rapidly. "Aunt Knox," said she, "I am so 
sleepy I can scarcely keep my eyes open; but I am 
afraid to go to sleep lest I should lose my happy 
feelings and my bright evidence of my acceptance 
in Christ." Her aunt assured her that her fears 
were groundless; that Jesus would take care of her 
as well in sleep as when awake. She then closed 
her eyes and quietly slept in Jesus. When these 
facts were, without exaggeration, related to Bishop 
Soule, he said : "Brother Hewitt's faith in that case 
ought to be recorded for the benefit of the Church." 
Mr. Hewitt did not long survive his daughter, and 
his calm and peaceful death was in keeping with 
his holy and useful life. He was buried in the 
Prairie Mer Rouge, near where he died. One of his 
daughters subsequently married Rev. Jephthah 
Hughes, of our Conference. 

Two most valuable and promising young minis- 
ters died this year: John P. Hanev and James A. 
Hughes. Of Mr. Haney we have writen heretofore. 
Mr. Hughes was a native of Tennessee. While quite 
young his parents moved to Alabama. Here he was 

In the Mississippi Conference. 267 

converted in his youth; and feeling it his duty to 
preach the gospel, he was received on trial into our 
Conference December 18, 1826. His character as an 
itinerant preacher was remarkably consistent from 
the beginning. Where he was best known he was 
most highly appreciated. He spent his first and 
fourth years on the Alabama Circuit, and his second 
and third on the Conecuh Circuit. In his fifth vear 
he was appointed to Washington, Miss., with several 
country Churches connected with the town. By this 
time his rapidly improving talents had made him 
quite conspicuous. He had a fine person of medium 
size, was polished in his intercourse with society, 
very studious, and deeply pious. Having no family, 
he made his headquarters with the family of John 
W- Bryan, near Washington, where he was esteemed 
and treated with the affection of a son. In the sum 
mer he left Washington a few weeks to attend a 
camp meeting on Roundaway Bayou, in the Swamp, 
and another at Lum's Camp Ground. At both these 
meetings he seemed to be taking an elevated stand 
among his colaborers on account of his clear head, 
warm heart, and commanding delivery in the pulpit. 
At the camp meeting at Lum's, in Warren County, 
he received a great spiritual blessing, and spoke in 
glowing terms of his prospect of getting to heaven. 
Was this the anointing he received for his burial? 
With a light and happy heart he returned to his 
work at Washington, and in a few days was smitten 
with a virulent fever, which proved to be entirely 
unmanageable. His sufferings were severe, but of 
only a few days' duration. He bore them patiently 
and died in great peace in the twenty-fourth year of 

268 A Complete History of Methodism 

his age. He was buried in the private cemetery of 
Mr. Bryan. 

Within the past decade Rev. William James ap- 
peared on the stage of Methodism in Wilkinson 
County, Miss., and deserves a niche in this history. 
His parents were South Carolinians, and removed 
from Williamsburg District in 1811 and settled in 
Wilkinson County, Mississippi Territory. The fa- 
ther was not a member of any Church; the mother 
was a Presbyterian, and brought up her children 
according to the rules and usages of that Church. 
About 1821 or 1822 William James attended the 
camp meeting at Bethel as an idle spectator, and 
went away quite disgusted with what seemed to 
him disorder and confusion. He returned to his 
home, on the waters of Percy's Creek, near Fort 
Adams, and there the Lord soon found a way to his 
heart without the intervention of a camp meeting. 
As soon as he became awakened to a sense of his 
guilt he found the warm sympathy of the Methodists 
very soothing to his penitent heart, and at once be- 
gan to seek their society. Meredith Renneau was 
on Wilkinson Circuit in 1823, and on the 23d of 
June received him into the Church on probation. It 
was not long before he was converted, and from that 
day forth religion seemed to pervade his whole be- 
ing. The forms of family religion were promptly 
established in his household. In his Church rela- 
tions all that he seemed anxious to know was what 
he had to be and to do in order to become a good 
Methodist Christian. William James looked on his 
conversion as the greatest event of his life. He felt 
that religion was a proper theme to talk about, and 

In the Mississippi Conference. 269 

everywhere^-in private circles, in class and prayer 
meetings, in love feasts, and in the altar among the 
penitents — his voice was heard in melting tones, 
telling what great things the Lord had done for him 
and affectionately recommending religion to others. 
It was thought best to give him license to exhort ; but 
this privilege was not commensurate with his zeal, 
and he was soon licensed to preach and in due 
course graduated to deacon's and elder's orders as 
a local preacher. As a minister he was not an elo- 
quent declaimer or profound theologian, but he 
could tell people how to get religion and live in the 
enjoyment of it afterwards. He had settled in the 
vicinity of Bethel and became one of the permanent 
patrons of the annual encampment. He thought a 
good camp meeting the best earthly representative 
of heaven. When any repairs or additions were 
needed for the comfort of the vast concourse that 
assembled there, he was always ready, with all his 
effective force, to assist in making them. About 
1842 the patrons of Bethel Camp Ground determined 
to build a shed of sufficient capacity to protect the 
thousands that assembled there from the sun and 
rain. A large amount of timber had to be prepared 
and brought together for the vast frame, and the 
superstructure erected and covered within a short 
period. Most of the wealthy planters sent what 
hands they .could spare for a few days, and then, 
considering that they had done their part, withdrew 
them ; but William James commenced with the first 
with all his effective force and continued his labors 
from day to day until the last board was nailed on 
the roof, £bout the going down of the sun of the 

270 A Complete History of Methodism 

evening the camp meeting services were to com- 
mence and the vast structure was to be solemnlv 
dedicated to the worship of God he dropped from 
the low eve to the ground, with his usual ejacula- 
tion of "Bless God! the shed is done." A few mo- 
ments spent in adjusting his wardrobe and refresh- 
ing the outer man at the supper table, and he was 
fully ready to commence the spiritual campaign of 
the meeting. William James was a happy Christian. 
He always seemed to have a rich blessing in his soul. 
One of the most familiar sounds at Bethel was his 
clear, sonorous voice ringing out from the early 
dawn to the midnight hour in prayer and praise. 
He was just as much of a Christian at home and in 
private life among his neighbors. He was a man of 
great purity, simplicity, and zeal. He never seemed 
to hesitate on the threshold of duty, and he dis- 
charged his domestic and social religious duties with 
so much ease and naturalness that his promptness 
gave no offense. The accession of Mr. James to the 
Methodist Episcopal Church was ultimately followed 
by all his brothers and sisters except his brother 
John, who died in communion with the Presbvterian 
Church. One of his brothers, James Alexander 
James, also became a local preacher, and in fervent 
piety, talents, and zeal very much resembled his 
elder brother. Alexander James sometimes itin- 
erated in Yazoo County, where he spent the latter 
years of his life. William James was married 
three times — the first time to Miss Mary Reid, 
who died the year after he joined the Church. 
His second marriage was to Miss Margaret Scott. 
The four children of his first marriage all died 

In the Mississippi Conference. 271 

in infancy. Of the seven of his second mar- 
riage, six attained to manhood and womanhood and 
all embraced religion early in life. One of his daugh- 
ters married Rev. Joseph D. Newsom, then of thci 
Mississippi but now of the North Mississippi Con- 
ference. For seventeen years did this excellent lady 
bear the burdens and inconveniences of the itineran- 
cy, until a most triumphant death ended her toils 
and sorrows on earth. Mr. Newsom married a sister 
of his deceased wife, who is now holding up his 
hands in the work of the Lord. Mr. James's third 
marriage was to Miss Anna Taylor, a lady every 
way worthy and well qualified to be the wife of such 
a man. Mr. James lived through the ill-omened war 
of secession, saw his country ruined, his favorite 
camp ground at Bethel fall into disuse for the want 
of men and means to keep it up, and then was called 
home in peace and triumph. He died April 9, 1865, 
aged sixty-eight years, forty-two of which he had 
spent in the Church, a spiritual, happy, and useful 
local preacher. 

The statistics of this year give twelve thousand 
nine hundred and four white, five thousand one hun- 
dred and eighty-one colored, one thousand Choctaws 
reported from the old Nation, and three hundred and 
twelve from their new home in the West. This gave 
an increase of nine hundred and fifty-seven white and 
eight hundred and nineteen colored members over 
last year. 



The Mississippi Conference assembled at Woodville, 
Miss., November 30, 1831. Bishop Roberts was 
present, and presided to the great satisfaction of the 
Conference. William M. Curtis was elected Secre- 
tary, and it is pleasant to read his legible penman- 
ship. Bishop Roberts now had the appearance of ex- 
treme old age with a worn-out constitution. Still ne- 
cessity compelled him to perform most of his episco- 
pal tours on horseback. He was a great favorite 
with the Mississippi Conference. The preachers rev- 
erenced and loved him as a father, and now realized 
that the day was not distant when they should see 
his venerable face no more on earth. 

The Conference was opened and organized in the 
usual form, and proceeded to business. A full at- 
tendance of the members was present both from the 
extreme east and west. This was the time to elect 
delegates to the General Conference of 1832; and 
the contemplated division of our ample territory 
into two Conferences made it necessary for as 
many of the members as could to be present. For 
the first time the venerable William Stephenson, the 
great frontiersman, was present. Those who had 
not seen him before were deeply impressed with his 
unaffected Christian simplicity and the spiritual 
power that attended him in all his ministerial exer- 


In the Mississippi Conference. 273 

cises. Mr. Winans was in very feeble health, and 
the strong man was rapidly succumbing to the on- 
erous labors of the itinerancy. Mr. Winans never 
learned to favor himself in the pulpit. When he 
became fully interested in his subject, he would 
preach as though he never expected to preach again. 
He was too feeble during Conference to perform the 
usual amount of labor required of him at our an- 
nual sessions. 

Twenty were admitted on trial at this Conference. 
Enoch N. Talley, James P. Stephenson, William 
Leggett, Hazlewood B. Farish, Eansom J. Jones, 
John Foust, John Jackson, Paul F Stearns, Charles 
J. Carney, Absalom Gavin, William Winans Oakchi- 
ah (native Choctaw) , James Watson, Samuel Graves, 
Gabriel M. Hubert, Seymour B. Sawyer, James K. 
West, Samuel Creswell, Sidney S. Squires, Stephen 
Herrin, and Andrew Adams. Rev. Ransom J. Jones, 
Sr., was set off with the Alabama Conference, where 
he traveled four years and then asked for a short loca- 
tion, but it continued nearly twenty years. He was 
a very active, acceptable, and useful local preacher, 
provided well for his household, and brought up a 
lovely, intelligent, and useful family of children. 
Having settled at an early day in the new county 
of Jasper, Miss., he was readmitted into the Missis- 
sippi Conference in December, 1855, and continued to 
labor Jealously and successfully until his death, 
March 23, 1872. He left three itinerant preachers 
in his immediate family : Rev. Kenneth A. Jones, of 
the North MiMissippi Conference; Rev. Ransom J. 
Jones and Rev. Edwin H. Mounger (a son-in-law), 
of the Mississippi Conference. William Winans 
Vol. IJ.-1S 

274 A Complete History of Methodism 

Oakchiah was the first Choctaw admitted into the 
itinerancy. He proved to be a valuable minister in 
his tribe. His Indian name was simply Oakchiah, 
but he took the name of William Winans as his 
Christian name. Seymour B. Sawyer came from the 
Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He fell into the 
Alabama division, and until his early death proved 
to be one of their most talented and useful ministers. 
A large proportion of the twenty admissions proved 
to be very valuable acquisitions. William B. Cobb, 
Jacob Segrist, and William Howie were discontin- 
ued ; thirteen were continued on trial ; nine were 
received into full connection and elected to deacon's 
orders; nine were elected elders. John C. Buetuss, 
John O. T. Hawkins, Orsamus L. Nash, and Joseph 
McDowell were readmitted. Isaac V Enochs, Peter 
James, Jephthah Hughes, and Thomas Burpo lo- 
cated. Lewis S. Turner and Benjamin B. Smith 
were declared supernumerary, and David Harky, 
Le Roy Massengale, and Thomas Owens were super- 
annuated. From the local ranks Thomas Lynch, 
John Foust, William H. McCurdy Blanton P Box, 
William K. Whitington, and John H. Mallory were 
elected deacons, and Elijah Gentry elder. 

The usual routine business of an Annual Confer- 
ence was attended to with deliberation and consci- 
entious care. Bishop Roberts would not permit any 
thing to be done with carelessness. The examina- 
tion of character passed off smoothly except in one 
or two instances. The session was prolonged to the 
tenth day on account of some new and important 
matters that came up for discussion and adoption. 

The most observing and experienced members of 

In the Mississippi Conference. 275 

the Conference had long felt the necessity of revising 
and extending the course of study for the under- 
graduates to four years. The course of study had 
to be accomplished in two years or before admission 
to full connection, with only one examination at 
the end of the second year, and was a burden too 
grievous to be borne by most young men entering 
the ministry, i The bishops were required themselves 

or by committee at each Annual Conference "to 
point out a course of study for candidates for the 
ministry," and the presiding elders were to see that 
each undergraduate in their charges had a copy of 
the course. This old course of study embraced every 
doctrine in the whole range of theology from the 
fall of man to the final awards of eternity, with a 
critical knowledge of controverted doctrines. It 
embraced also a knowledge of sacred and profane 
history, of the forms of Church government, especial- 
ly the Methodists, with all literature necessary to 
qualify a man to speak and write correctly. To ac- 
quire this huge mass of knowledge, almost every 
standard work in our denominational literature was 
named to be read or kept as a book of reference. 
It was utterly impossible to travel a circuit from 
two to four hundred miles round, preaching almost 
every day in the week, and even read hastily one- 
fourth of the books prescribed in two years. Most 
young men would select a few books on doctrinal, 
experimental, and practical Christianity and con- 
fine their studies to them. The result of this course 
of study was that the committees appointed at each 
Annual Conference to examine the undergraduates 
to be received into full connection would not exam- 

276 A Complete History of Methodism 

ine them on the books named in the course, but give 
them a superficial examination on doctrines and bib- 
lical history and Church government. If they passed 
a fair examination on these points, they were recom- 
mended for full connection and deacon's orders, and 
thereafter left to select and pursue their own course 
of study, with no future examinations to stimulate 
\ their diligence. v - 

B. M. Drake offered a resolution, which was adopt- 
ed, requesting Bishop Roberts "to appoint a com- 
mittee to revise the course of study for probation- 
ers." The Bishop appointed Robert L. Kennon, Ben- 
jamin M. Drake, and William V Douglass. Their 
report, on motion of William Winans, was adopted, '% 
and two hundred copies required to be printed and 
distributed among the preachers. On the 8th of 
May, at the General Conference held in Philadel- 
phia, Benjamin M. Drake, seconded by Nathan 
Bangs, of New York, offered the substance of this 
report for the adoption of the General Conference. 
It was adopted; and, with some small alterations 
and amendments has been the law of- the Church on 
the course of study ever since. This revision and 
extension of the course of study to four years has 
been the means of training up in the Mississippi 
Conference a better-educated class of ministers. 
Some of our ministers were becoming remiss in the 
administration of discipline, and the Church was 
falling away from its primitive purity as a conse 
quence. This suggested the i dea of a ppointing a com- 
mittee "on the state of the itinerancy " The commit- 
tee consisted of Robert L. Kennon, William Stephen- 
son, Benjamin M. Drake, James H. Mellard, ond Wi) 

In the Mississippi Conference. 277 

liam Winans. This committee made an able report, 
urging a return to first principles in the administra- 
tion of discipline, and recommending the immediate 
reading of the "Report of the Committee of Safe- 
ty," adopted by the General Conference of 1816. 
which was done in a solemn and impressive manner. 
The discussion of this subject, with the accompany- 
ing remarks of the venerable Bishop, had a restoring 
influence on the preachers. Under the present ratio 
of representation the General Conference was becom- 
ing too large for economy and the dispatch of busi- 
ness, and William Winans offered a resolution, which 
was adopted, recommending the ensuing General Con- 
ference to reduce the ratio of representation. This 
resolution went to the General Conference, was 
adopted in substance, and after receiving a three- 
fourths vote of all the Annual Conferences became 
a law of the Church. 

Mr. Winans offered a resolution recommending 
the General Conference so to change the Proviso 
at the close of the Restrictive Rules that a two-thirds 
vote of the General Conference and a three-fourths 
vote of all the Annual Conferences should suffice 
to alter any of the .Restrictive Rules except the first. 
This resolution passed the General Conference by a 
legal majority; and being sent down to the Annual 
Conferences, it was concurred in by a three-fourths 
majority and thenceforth became a law of the Church. 
The delegates to the ensuing General Conference — 
all elected on the first ballot — were William Wi- 
nans, Robert L. Kennon, Thomas Griffin, Ebenezer 
Hearn, Benjamin M. Drake. Robert L. Walker, and 
William M. Curtis. The four reserve delegates were 

278 A Complete History of Methodism 

James H. Mellard, Joseph McDowell, Thomas Clin- 
ton, and John C. Burruss. This had already become 
a usage in many of the Conferences ; and though it 
was not authorized by any enacted law, it met the 
approval of the bishops and the Annual Conferences. 
The usage is now universal. 

Certain resolutions from the Ohio Conference 
were submitted for concurrence and coSperatfon, 
but the Journal gives no intimation of their import. 
A committee was appointed to consider and report 
on them. The report was against concurrence and 
cooperation, and the Conference agreed with the 
committee. From the connection in which these 
resolutions are in the Journal, they contained a 
request to cooperate with the Ohio Conference and 
other Conferences in the West in building up the 
' Western Branch of the Book Concern at Cincinnati. 
During all low stages of water in the Ohio we could 
obtain books more promptly from New York, b^ way 
of the ocean and gulf to New Orleans, than from 
the Western Branch at Cincinnati. Our greatest 
objection to cooperation grew out of a desire to 
have a book depository established in New Orleans. 
In connection with the disposal of the Ohio reso- 
lutions a resolution was passed instructing the del- 
egates to the General Conference "to request the es- 
tablishment in New Orleans of a Branch of the 
General Book Concern." The General Conference 
concurred and established a book depository In 
New Orleans, and appointed William M. Curtis 
Agent. This book depository was a convenience to 
the Conference; and useful to the country ; but the 
patronage was not sufficient to justify its continn- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 279 

ance, and in a few years it was closed. Though 
its history was short, it was the initial step toward 
the establishment of our present flourishing depos- 
itory, at 112 Camp Street, New Orleans. 

Lagrange College received due attention from the 
Conference, and Joseph McDowell was appointed 
Agent to travel in the interest of the college. 

The time had come when the convenience of the 
preachers and the interests of the Church demanded 
a division of the large territory into two Confer- 
ences. We approached this subject with mingled 
feelings of joy and sorrow — joy on account of that 
prosperity with which the Lord had favored us until 
it became necessary to divide our accumulated forces 
into two bands, and sorrow because it implied the 
final earthly separation of brethren who loved each 
other as David and Jonathan. Bishop Roberts was 
requested by a unanimous resolution to sanction the 
formation of a new Conference to be called Alabama. 
A committee was appointed to fix the boundary line 
between the two Conferences. The Alabamians, led 
by Dr. Kennon, insisted that, as the Tennesseeans had 
a part of their State in their Conference and the 
Mississippians would have all of Louisiana in theirs, 
they ought to have a portion of Eastern Mississippi 
in the Alabama Conference. This was consented to 
reluctantly by the Mississippi preachers, as they 
wished the State line to be the boundary between 
the two Conferences, believing that the day was not 
very distant when another new Conference would be 
formed out of our territory west of the Mississippi 
River. "The dividing ridge between Pearl and Leaf 
Rivers, and thence with the said ridge between the 

2$0 A Complete History of Methodism 

wate»s of the Mississippi and Tombigbee Rivera to 
the Tennessee line," was at first established as the 
boundary line; but at the General Conference of 
1836 it was readjusted so as to give the Alabamian* 
one tier of counties on the eastern border of Mis- 
sissippi. This was never satisfactory to the Missis- 
sippi Conference, especially after we set off the 
Louisiana Conference and consented to give North 
Mississippi to assist in forming the Memphis Con- 
ference. No General Conference passed from 1836 
to 1870 that a fruitless effort was not made to 
change the boundary to the State line. In 1870, in 
arranging for two Conferences to embrace the entire 
State of Alabama and two otherjs the entire State 
of Mississippi, the adoption of the State line be- 
tween Alabama and Mississippi as the boundary be- 
tween the four Conferences came about naturally. 
This gave to each of the Mississippi Conferences a 
goodly number of Alabama preachers, who had set- 
tled their families in the State, and also added a 
considerable membership. Certain that the General 
Conference would confirm the division into two Con- 
ferences, Vicksburg was selected as the place of 
meeting for the Mississippi and Tuscaloosa for the 
Alabama Conference. This division gave to the Ala- 
bama Conference thirty-eight traveling preachers 
and eight thousand one hundred and ninety-six white 
and two thousand seven hundred and seventy colored 
members; and to the Mississippi Conference forty- 
two traveling preachers and six thousand three hun- 
dred and eighty white, two thousand six hundred 
and forty-five colored, and seven hundred and one 
Indian members. Bishop Roberts gave the time for 

In the Mississippi Conference. 281 

holding the next Mississippi Conference as the 13th 
of December, 1832, and that of Alabama as Novem- 
ber 27, 1832. After the usual vote of thanks to the 
citizens for their hospitality to the Baptist breth- 
ren for the use of their church to hold our sessions 
in, and to Mr. Chisholm for gratuitous printing, the 
Conference united with unusual emotion in singing 
the closing hymn, commencing: 

"And let our bodies part, 
To different climes repair; 
Inseparably joined in beart 
The friends of Jesus are." 

After prayer, Bishop Roberts gave us a very ap- 
propriate and feeling valedictory. About the close 
of Conference there was a fall of snow succeeded 
by a heavy freeze. This made the homeward trip 
on horseback somewhat disagreeable; but, accus- 
tomed to such, the preachers braved the weather he- 
roically. Western Louisiana was divided into two 
districts, large in territory, but small in pastoral 
charges. William H. Turnley was appointed in 
charge of Louisiana District and William Stephen- 
son of Monroe. Two new circuits were added to 
the Louisiana District, called Quelquesne and Sa- 
bine, with John Bilbo on the first and Preston Coop- 
er on the second. Lake Providence was included in 
the Monroe District, with Daniel Sears in charge, 
and Lake St. Joseph, with Joseph P. Snead in charge. 
This was found to be a bad arrangement, for it was 
easier to reach those two circuits from the east by 
crossing the Mississippi River than from the west 
by crossing forty miles of an annually inundated 

282 A Complete History of Methodism 

The former Washington and Bayou Pierre Dis- 
tricts were so divided as to make the New Orleans, 
Washington, and Yazoo Districts, with Barnabas 
Pipkin in charge of the first, Thomas Clinton the 
second, and Thomas Griffin the third. In the New 
Orleans District two new circuits appear: St. Hele- 
na, taken from the southern portion of the old Amite 
Circuit, and Washington, which took the place of 
the former St. Tammany Circuit. Lafourche Mis- 
sion was restored to the list, and Benjamin F. Coxe 
appointed in charge. Orsamus L. Nash was sta- 
tioned in New Orleans. In the Washington Dis- 
trict William M. Curtis was stationed in Natchez 
and William V Douglass in Port Gibson. In the 
Yazoo District John O. T. Hawkins was stationed 
in Vicksburg, and a new work was laid off called 
Clinton, and left to be supplied by Thomas Ford. 
Alexander Talley was appointed Superintendent of 
the Choctaw Mission in the West, with William W 
Oakchiah and Moses Perry as colleagues. William 
Winans and John I. E. Byrd were left without ap- 
pointments at their own request, and John C. Bur- 
russ was appointed Agent for the American Coloni- 
zation Society. 

In Alabama the Alabama and Black Warrior Dis- 
tricts were so divided as to make the Tombigbee, 
Alabama, Black Warrior, and Tuscaloosa Districts, 
with Ebenezer Hearn on the first, James H. Mellard 
on the second, Robert L. Kennon on the third, and 
Eugene V Le Vert on the fourth. Robert D. Smith 
was stationed in Mobile, Sevmour B. Sawver in 
Montgomery, and Robert L. Walker in Tuscaloosa. 
In the Alabama District a new circuit appears called 

In the Mississippi Conference. 283 

Blount. It lay mostly in Blount County, about sev- 
enty or eighty miles northeast of Tuscaloosa, and was 
composed in part of territory formerly in Jones's 
Valley Circuit. Jesse Ellis was its first pastor. 

Long and persistent were the efforts of the Mis- 
sissippi Conference to establish Christianity in Mo- 
bile; the preachers helped by small sums from their 
own limited salaries and collections from the peo- 
ple of their charges in building a small church. 
Methodist preaching was popular, and this little 
house was soon crowded beyond its capacity. The 
Church was too poor to pull it down and build a 
larger, so they concluded to take out one side and 
make a considerable enlargement to the house. In 
a short time this addition was filled to overflowing, 
and a similar addition was made on the opposite 
side of the house., This old wooden house, with its 
additions, had gradually assumed the name of the 
"Old Hive ;" and when, with the second addition, it 
failed to accommodate the ever-increasing congre- 
gation, the brethren decided it was time for the 
"Old Hive" to swarm. Since then many vigorous 
colonies have swarmed out all over the city and its 
environs. Joseph McPowell was readmitted at this 
Conference, but fell into the Alabama Conference. 
He continued to be respected and beloved by the 
Church as a minister until in a good old age he died, 
in Rankin County, Miss. 

The statistics show an increase in the whole Con- 
ference (as it was before division) of one thousand 
five hundred and ninety-nine white and two hundred 
and thirty colored members, but a decrease of six 
hundred and eleven Choctaws. 



The Mississippi Conference met in the city of Vicks- 
burg on Wednesday, November 21, 1832. Bishop 
James O. Anarew did not reach Vicksburg until late 
Saturday afternoon. In those days a president pro 
tern, must be elected from the presiding elders, and 
there was no presiding elder present except Thomas 
Clinton. He presided admirably until the arrival 
of the Bishop. Dr. James P. Thomas was elected 
Secretary. Conference opened with only ten mem- 
bers present. The preachers, however, continued to 
arrive until most of them were present. Rev. John 
Lane was then living in his large home on the hill, 
and with his larger hospitality contributed much to 
the comfort and happiness of the Conference. He 
furnished a commodious room to hold the sessions 
in ; furnished a room for the Bishop and his Council ; 
boarded about sixteen preachers, besides keeping a 
well-furnished table for an indefinite number of 
transient visitors. The Conference was cordially 
and bountifully entertained. 

The few members and patrons we had in Vicks- 
burg had just finished their first church and had it 
ready for dedication. Mr. Winans had been request- 
ed to preach the dedicatory sermon, and it was one 
of his best and most powerful pulpit efforts. His 
text was, "My house shall be called of all nations 
the house of prayer." The Conference adjourned to 

In the Mississippi Conference. 285 

attend the dedicatory services, and to redeem the 
time held an afternoon session. 

John Lane had then been local several years from 
apparent necessity, and was a very industrious local 
preacher; but he was never satisfied with that rela- 
tion. Soon after Conference opened Mr. Winans, 
without consulting Mr. Lane, moved for his read- 
mission. He was readmitted, and for the next 
twenty-two or twenty-three years was excelled by no 
one in the service he rendered in the Mississippi Con- 

Two of our probationers, Absalom Gavin and Ga- 
briel M. Hubert, had died at their posts the preceding 
year. John Dixon, Charles K. Marshall, Thomas 
Myers, Uriah Whatley, Cotman Methvin, and John 
G. Parker were admitted on trial ; ten remained on 
trial; five were received into full connection; four 
traveling preachers were ordained deacons ; six were 
ordained elders; William H. Turnley, Thomas Grif 
fin, and Benjamin F. Coxe located; William V. 
Douglass was voted a supernumerary relation, and 
William Stephenson, William Winans, and John 
Ira E. Byrd were superannuated; John Lane and 
Thomas Nixon were readmitted. 

From the local ranks Samuel Saxon, Arthur Ross, 
Samuel Lord, Harrison Bradford, Stephen Herri n, 
Sr., Charles Rawles, and Joseph Burns were elected 
deacons, and Dr. Henry Tooley, of Natchez, was 
elected elder. 

An increasing spirit of piety pervaded the Con- 
ference. This was manifested by suitable resolu- 
tions on the subject of humiliation, prayer, and 
fasting. A resolution is found on the Journal of 

286 A Complete History of Methodism 

this Conference "that the members meet twenty min- 
utes before 9 a.m. in the Conference room for prayer." 
At some of the Conferences morning prayer meetings 
were held in the church at sunrise, and precious sea- 
sons of grace they often were to those who attended. 

Such had been the leniency in regard to the old 
course of study that some of the undergraduates 
hardly thought that they must stand a good exami- 
nation on each year of thfe revised course before they 
could be promoted to orders; but the refusal to 
elect several good brethren to deacon's orders be- 
cause they could not undergo a satisfactory exami- 
nation had a refreshing effect on the memories of 
the overgraduates as well as the undergraduates, 
for they had to review their former studies in order 
to be prepared to conduct their examinations intelli- 

The time had come to establish a male school of 
high grade within our own territory. We had con- 
tributed to the Wesleyan Academy at Wilbraham, 
Mass., Augusta College ifl -Kentucky, and Lagrange 
College in North Alabama!? now we must take the 
initial step toward creating a home institution. 
William Winans, Benjamin M. Drake, John Lane, 
John A. Cotton, and Dr. James P. Thomas were ap- 
pointed a committee to consider and report on the 
propriety of establishing an academy under the con- 
trol and patronage of the Conference. Mr. Winans's 
preference was for establishing male academies of 
high grade, to be used as preparatory departments 
to a future central college. Mr. Lane favored the 
establishment of a regular college at once. This 
committee did nothing more than to get up a general 

In the Mississippi Conference. 287 

discussion in favor of having a seminary of our own, 
but it was doubtless the first step toward the estab- 
lishment of Centenary College at Jackson, La. The 
Conference continued its patronage to Lagrange Col- 
lege, and carefully nurtured Elizabeth Female 
Academy, at ^Yashington, Miss. 

A more systematic plan in collecting funds for the 
various benevolent institutions of the Church had 
been adopted, and where the preachers in charge had 
properly interested themselves in making the collec- 
tions, larger amounts than usual had been collected, 
especially for missionary and Sabbath school pur- 
poses. A goodly number of ladies had conscientious 
scruples against wearing jewelry after their acces- 
sion to the Church, and sent what they had to the 
Conference. It was placed in the hands of Wil- 
liam M. Curtis, to be disposed of at the market 
.price in New Orleans, and the proceeds to be turned 
over to the Bible Society of the Methodist Episcopal 

The ladies of our Church in Natchez had formed 
themselves into a sewing society for the purpose of 
making up annually a box of clothing to be distrib- 
uted among the most needy of the preachers. This 
was first introduce^ at this Conference, and was con- 
tinued for many years. The presiding elders were 
appointed to distribute the clothing and return the 
thanks of the Conference to the benevolent donors. 
Our Conference unanimouslv concurred in the rec- 
ommendation of the General Conference to reduce 
the ratio of delegates to the General Conference. 

Having closed all routine business at an afternoon 
session on Tuesday, the Conference met in the church 

288 A Complete History of Methodism 

at night to hear the Bishop's address and receive 
the appointments. The vigorous young Bishop 
made a first-class presiding officer. His text on 
the Sabbath was, ''Evil communications corrupt 
good manners." In the conclusion of his sermon 
he gave a very lifelike and feeling description of 
the way in which innocent young men were often 
led to temporal and eternal ruin by associating 
with evil men. The congregation was greatly inter- 
ested in his thrilling description of the way to ruin, 
and tears fell on every side. This Conference has 
generally loved and admired our bishops, but no man 
in the episcopacy ever stood higher in the affections 
and confidence of Mississippians than James O. An- 
drew. Among the older men he seemed naturally 
to take the place of dear old Bishop Roberts. 

All the work in Western Louisiana west of the 
Mississippi Bottom was thrown into one district, 
called Louisiana, with Orsamus L. Nash as presid- 
ing elder. One new circuit was formed, called Boeuf 
Prairie. This circuit embraced Sicilv Island and 
the settlements on the waters of Boeuf River as 
high up as Big Creek. Uriah Whatley was the first 
pastor of this circuit. It was in Boeuf Prairie that 
David M. Wiggins was brought up, and it was about 
this time that he was converted. He must have been 
brought up in the utmost ignorance of the Bible. 
His mother died when he was sixteen years old, and 
when he saw her put in the grave he thought that 
was the last of her, having yet no idea of the immor- 
tality of the soul. 

A new circuit was formed in the New Orleans Dis- 
trict, called Baton Rouge, which included the town 

In the Mississippi Conference. 289 

of that name, with the various settlements in East 
Baton Rouge Parish. Bevil Tabor was preacher in 
charge. Benjamin M. Drake was stationed in New 

• _ 

Orleans, and James P. Thomas, M.D., took his place 
as President of Elizabeth Female Academy and also 
as preacher in charge of Adams Circuit. Lafourche 
Mission was continued with a membership of twenty 
white and twenty colored members. Daniel Sears 
was the missionary this year. John O. T. Hawkins 
was stationed in Natchez and Robert D. Smith in 
Vicksburg. Thomas Griffin having located, John 
Lane succeeded him on the Yazoo District. Two new 
circuits were formed in this district, called Rankin 
and Big Sand Mission, with Samuel Cresswell in 
charge of the former and James R. West the latter. 
Rankin Circuit embraced Rankin County, with por- 
tions of Simpson, Smith, and Scott Counties. This 
was all newly settled country, and the little com- 
munities were widely spattered. Big Sand Mission 
was named after an unimportant creek, but the mis- 
sion extended through Holmes, Carroll, and Yalo- 
busha Counties. Grenada was then a small village, 
called. Pittsburg. The town of Raymond, the county 
seat of Hinds County, was added to Clinton and left 
to be supplied by Thomas Ford. 

The writer was assigned this year to Lake Provi- 
dence District, composed of Lake Providence and 
Lake St. Joseph Circuits, and an unorganized mis- 
sion of no definite bounds, called Lake Bolivar, which 
he was to organize and fill himself. As the names 
of the circuits indicate, this work lay entirely in the 
Mississippi Bottom, subject to inundation except a 

few settlements on Bayou Macon Hills, and extended 
Vol. II.— 19 

290 -i Complete History of Methodism 

from opposite Natchez to the mouth of the Arkansas 
River. John Dixon was appointed to Lake St. Jo- 
seph, and that indefatigable worker, Charles J. Car- 
ney, to Lake Providence. Lake Bolivar Mission was 
made up of wood choppers, raftsmen, hunters, and 
a few small planters who were settling on the mar- 
gin of the river and adjacent lakes and bayous. 
During the high stage of water we would ascend to 
the upper part of the mission by steamboat, and then 
make our way back from house to house and from 
neighborhood to neighborhood on foot, on horse- 
back, by canoe, skiff, flatboat, or any other water 
craft that would float downstream. There were 
several excellent families living on Lake Bolivar 
who assisted us in going from place to place. On 
our first trip we desired to make a thorough recon- 
noisance on both banks of the river as far down as 
Bachelor's Bend, where the town of Greenville now 
stands. Miles Fleetwood, who then owned the plan- 
tation at Bolivar Landing, procured passage for us 
on a peddling boat owned by a very clever young 
man by the name of Phillips, who had a Cherokee 
Indian to assist him in the navigation of his craft. 
This seemed a providential arrangement. Mr. Phil- 
lips would land near all the houses on either bank to 
sell his goods, which gave an opportunity of yisiting 
nearly every family in the interests of our mission. 
He would tie up at night in the larger settlements," 
which gave us an opportunity of preaching. Our 
home was on the boat, where we did our cooking, 
eating, and sleeping. Our Cherokee was a jovial 
young man, and we enjoyed ourselves highly. When 
we parted we exchanged keepsakes, to "be preserved 

In the Mississippi Conference. 291 

in memory of our friendship and pleasant voyage to- 
gether. : 

This was indeed a hard mission; and yet it was 
made a Messing to us. Hitherto we had often been 
embarrassed by too much diffidence among stran- 
gers ; but here we had no alternative but to tell every 
one that we were a Methodist preacher and had 
come to preach the gospel in these destitute settle- 
ments. Many of them twenty years old had never 
heard a sermon nor witnessed any public act of re- 
ligious worship. We established eight or ten regu- 
lar preaching places in private houses and formed/ 
a number of .small societies. Hitherto we had al- 
ways seemed to be on the track of some older preach- 
er, especially Tommy Owens, whether we preached 
in Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana ; but this time 
we were where we had no predecessor and where a 
preacher had never before made a track. Though 
reared in the hills almost in sight of the Mississippi 
River, we never could spend a summer in the bottom 
lands without attacks of fever. This summer they 
commenced in July; and we had repeated relapses 
until Conference. 

Dr. Alexander Talley was continued the Superin- 
tendent of the Choctaw Mission West, with Thomas 
Myers, William W Oakchiah, and Moses Perry as 
colleagues. By special request, Rev. Francis A. 
Owen, late of the Tennessee Conference, was appoint- 
ed our agent for Lagrange College, and John C. 
Burruss was continued in the agency of the Ameri- 
can Colonization Society Thomas Griffin was 
granted a location at his own request. He opened 
a large farm on the head waters of Doak's Creek, in 

292 A Complete History of Methodism 

Madison County, where he contributed liberally of 
his time, labor, and money in building up and sus- 
taining Pleasant Grove Church and Camp Ground. 
He was greatly devoted to the doctrines and disci- 
pline of the Church to the end of his life, and was a 
very zealous and laborious local elder. His health 
became more and more unsettled after his location. 
His assurance of heaven was strong, and his end was 

Among the early emigrants to Marion County east 
of Pearl River were several brothers by the name of 
Lewis, from North Carolina. They were moral, in- 
dustrious, substantial young men, and made good 
citizens, but were not committed to any Church. It 
was fortunate for them that they settled in a com- 
munity made up of devout and consistent Methodist 
Church members, conspicuous among whom were 
the Rawles, Regans, and others. In 1822 Quinea 
Lewis and his wife, Martha, united with the Church 
at Union Academy, under the pastorate of Thomas 
Griffin. Mrs. Lewis, whose maiden name was Spier, 
was the daughter of Baptist parents. When she 
became acquainted with the Methodists on Pearl 
River, she found among them a fervor in their piety 
and a consistency in their everyday deportment that 
corresponded with her views of religion, and she and 
her husband found a verv congenial home in fellow- 
ship with them. They both became active members 
of the Church, Mr. Lewis always filling one or two 
subordinate offices and Mrs. Lewis being a wise coun- 
selor and gifted in prayer. They moved west of Pearl 
River, in the same county, and, in conjunction with 
Owen and Luke Conerly and their devoted and tal- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 293 

ented wives, built up the celebrated Water Hole 
Church and Camp Ground. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis 
afterwards moved to the waters of Magee's Creek, 
in Pike County., where they contributed their full 
share in building up Pine Grove Church. They 
finally settled near Holmesville, where, on Sabbath 
morning, January 31, 1875, Mrs. Lewis died in great 
peace, in the seventy-fourth year of her age and the 
fifty-third year of her profession of saving faith in 
Christ. She was one of the most exemplary Chris- 
tians in all the relations of life we have ever known. 
Mr. Lewis still survives, in his eighty-first year, one 
of the acknowledged patriarchs of the Church. They 
brought up a very pious family of sons and daugh- 
ters. They gave two of their sons, Henry P. and 
William B. Lewis, to the Mississippi Conference, 
and the}' are numbered among our most reliable and 
useful ministers. 

William B. Lewis, Sr., another brother, served the 
Church many years as a local preacher of good and 
useful talents, and then entered into rest. Hon. 
Lemuel Lewis, a younger brother, joined the Church 
and was converted in 1831, and has, like the other 
members of the family, made a very substantial and 
useful layman for more than forty years. For more 
than a score of years he was Judge of the Probate 
Court of Marion County, and gave very general sat- 
isfaction. He has brought up thirteen children, and 
has the heartfelt joy of seeing them all in the 

In this old stronghold of Methodism in Marion 
County were the Rawles, Hope, Lenoir, and other 
Methodist families of the highest style of piety and 

294 A Complete History of Methodism 

usefulness. Pompey, the celebrated negro preacher, 
belonged to the Rawles family before any of them 
had become religious. Pompey got among the Meth- 
odists, was converted, and became a very impulsive 
and noisy Christian. He could seldom hear an ex- 
hortation, sermon, or song without some outward 
demonstration. His old master did not like so much 
noise about religion, and threatened to punish Pom- 
pey if he did not keep more quiet. But Pompey's 
religion made him a humble, obedient, and faith- 
ful servant, and the family had confidence in the 
sincerity and integrity of the old African. A gen- 
tleman, in order to tease him, asked him one day 
"why he always made so much ado about religion." 
" 'Cause," said Pompey, "it makes my soul so hap- 
py." "Makes your soul so happy?" replied the gen- 
tleman. "You simpleton, a negro has no soul." 
"Then, master, it makes my body happy, for I know 
I am happy," was the unanswerable argument of 
Pompey. Pompey was licensed to preach, and often 
preached with great acceptability both to the white 
and colored people. Pompey was faithful unto 
death. He lived to extreme old age, became nearly 
blind, and met with a quick but tragic death. They 
left him alone one day with the door so fastened 
that he could not get it open. The house caught fire 
and burned down with him in it. 

In the summer of 1824, when we were licensed only 
to exhort, Ira Byrd requested us to attend to his ap- 
pointments — one for each day in the week except 
Monday — until he should become able to resume his 
work. At Asbury Chapel, in the southwest corner 
of Jefferson County, we concluded, as we repre- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 295 

sented the preacher fh charge, that we would give 
any who might wish to unite with the Church 
an opportunity to do so. A tall, comely-looking 
young woman arose and, after consulting a moment 
with her husband, came forward and offered herself 
as a candidate for Church membership. This per- 
son was Mrs. Elizabeth Osteen. She was the daugh- 
ter of Rev. John Hannah, a Baptist minister, who, 
about 1797, suffered heavy persecution from the 
Spanish Catholics at Natchez, even to stripes and 
imprisonment, for his fidelity to the Protestant 
faith. When on his deathbed, many years subse- 
quently, he called Elizabeth to his bedside and gave 
her his farewell advice and blessing, directing her 
attention particularly to the importance of an early 
consecration of herself to God. This made a deep 
and lasting impression on her mind. She never lost 
sight of the importance of becoming a true Chris- 
tian. She was, in every true sense of the expression, 
one of the most influential and useful female mem- 
bers of the Church in the circuit where she lived. 
She often succeeded where others seemed to fail. 
A camp meeting was in progress at Center Camp 
Ground. They were having a cold time until late in 
the meeting. Mr. brake, the presiding elder, pro- 
posed an open-air experience meeting. Several had 
spoken, rather by rote, when Elizabeth Osteen arose 
and began to rehearse in glowing terms what won- 
derful things the Lord had done for her. She be- 
came inspired with tne Spirit of God* and, turning 
to the congregation, gave a powerful impromptu ex- 
hortation, called for mourners, and soon had the al- 
tar crowded. She died in 1864, and left a request 

.296 A Complete History of Methodism 

that the writer should preach* her funeral sermon 
from 2- Timothy iv. 6-8. 

Thomas S. Osteen, her husband, was her equal in 
personal piety, though never so demonstrative in re- 
ligion as she was. In his quiet, upright course, he 
was one of our best and most useful Church mem- 
bers. He survived her a short time, but has also 
gone to his reward. 

It was in 1818 that Mrs. Priscilla Shelby Jefferies, 
a cultivated, intelligent, and refined widow, with a 
family of two sons and four daughters, moved from 
Clarksville, Tenn., and, settling in the northeastern 
corner of Jefferson County, engaged in agricultural 
pursuits. Mrs. Jeffries was a Methodist, and more 
than forty years she was a pillar in the Church in 
the community where she lived. Her religious pro- 
fession and practice were beautifully consistent. 
While by her kindness to the poor and illiterate she 
secured their confidence and won them to Christ, by 
her intelligence and high social qualities, combined 
with her sterling Christian integrity, she exerted a 
salutary influence in the upper grades of society in 
favor of the Church of her choice. Her house was 
constantly visited by the pastors of the Church, and 
her advice sought in regard to its increased prosper- 
ity. Her oldest son, Nathaniel Jefferies, with his 
amiable wife, united with the Church in 1829, and 
Mr. Jefferies was converted at the Caneridge Camp 
Meeting the same year. This amiable couple took 
a prominent stand in the Church of which they lived 
consistent and useful members over forty years. 
They acquired a large estate, brought up a large fam- 
ily "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," and 

In the Mississippi. Conference. 297 

thai went peacefully down to their graves. Mr. 
Jefferies was liberal to the cause of Christ. About 
ten or twelve years before his death he invested one 
thousand and sixty dollars, at ten per cent interest, 
with the condition that the interest should be col- 
lected annually and paid .to the pastor of .the Church 
in Port Gibson, where most of his family held their 
membership, as Nat Jefferies's quarterage. The fund 
is still at interest, and Nat Jefferies's quarterage is 
still being promptly paid.. The various branches of 
the Jefferies family live in the vicinity of Port Gib- 
son, and most of them still exhibit that intelligence 
and high-toned morality which was so conspicuous 
in their progenitors. 

John A. Barnes and his wife were prominent, lib- 
eral, and useful members of the Church in Claiborne 
County in earlier days. Mr. Barnes was a native of 
Claiborne County, Miss. He was fairly educated for 
the time, and inherited property enough to give him 
a start in the world. He first married a Miss, Har- 
riet Willis, and settled on a farm about eight miles 
north of Port Gibson. About 1822 he and his young 
wife united with the Church and became earnest 
Christians. Mr. Barnes was a well-read man, of 
fine sense and accurate judgment, but not fluent in 
speech, which, at first, made it quite a trial to lead 
in prayer before strangers. After joining the 
Church, he promptly established family* worship. 
Mr. Barnes improved his talents, and soon became 
an excellent prayer and class leader and a good vol- 
untary exhorter. He excelled in visiting and pray- 
ing with the sick, and was a very useful Christian 

298 A Complete History of Methodism 

in his community. He took great interest in provid- 
ing for the preachers, that they might go untrammeled 
to their work. His first wife died early in life, and 
he married, as his second wife, Miss Sarah L. Hum- 
phreys, the sister of our late Governor Benjamin 
G. Humphreys, of Mississippi. John A. Barnes was 
a quiet, straightforward, consistent political leader 
in his county, and while serving his constituents in 
the Legislature died at Jackson, February 28, 1833, 
in the thirty-sixth year of his age. 

Sarah L. Humphreys was converted in the days of 
her youth, and became a happy and zealous Chris- 
tian as far back as 1822. In November, 1826, she 
was united in marriage with John A. Barnes, and 
but few more congenial spirits ever entered the 
bonds of holy matrimony. They first gave them- 
selves to God, and then to each other by the will of 
God. They seemed, to vie with each other which 
could do the most to advance the Redeemer's king- 
dom in the earth. After the death of Mr. Barnes, 
Mrs. Barnes remained on the homestead until her 
children grew to manhood and womanhood and went 
to homes of their own. Her house was the head- 
quarters of Methodism in her community, where she 
entertained ministers of every grade with the most 
elegant Christian hospitality. After leaving her 
much-loved home in Claiborne County, she resided 
successively in Warren County, Miss., and in Madi- 
son and Claiborne Parishes, Louisiana, and finally 
with her son-in-law, Doctor James, in New Orleans, 
where, October 10, 1866, she died of yellow fever. 
Her end was full of peace and a sweet assurance of 
going to heaven. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 299 

Our written Journal gives an aggregate of five 
thousand eight hundred and fifty-nine white, two 
thousand four hundred and seventy-one colored, and 
seven hundred and one Indian members, making a 
grand total of nine thousand and thirty-one to com- 
mence with in our division of the Conference. 



According to appointment, the Conference met at 
Natchez, Miss., on Wednesday, November 13, 1833. 
Bishop John Emory presided. Hitherto our bishops 
had been men over the ordinary size. Bishops Mc- 
Kendree and Soule had large frames, while Bishops 
Roberts and George were ' inclined to corpulency ' y 
but Bishop Emory was of low stature and spare. 
Solomon says, "A man's wisdom maketh his face to 
shine;" and Bishop Emory's face was indicative of 
superior wisdom: As a presiding officer he was "very 
strict, but very mild." He proceeded with a great 
deal of caution in the revision of the work and the 
stationing of the preachers. "The first thing to be 
considered, brethren," said he, "is the interest of the 
work. Everything must be subservient to that; and 
next is care for the health, comfort, and support of 
the preachers." His style of preaching was different 
from that of the older bishops. He had not the 
gushing sympathy of Roberts and George, nor the 
natural eloquence of McKendree, nor the massive pul- 
pit power of Soule;, but his sermons were critically 
orthodox according to our Arminian creed, arranged 
with great precision, and delivered in clear and 
forcible language. While he preached in a natural 
tone of voice, at times he delivered certain truths 


In the Mississippi Conference. 301 

with great emphasis of feeling and gesture. His 
work as a bishop was short, and his death tragic. 
He was thrown from his buggy while alone, and died 
from the injuries received. 

Dr. James F'fhomaB was again elected Secretary, 
and after the usual preliminary business the Confer- 
ence proceeded with the regular disciplinary ques- 
tions. Anthony H. Holcomb, Henry Stephenson, 
Jonathan 0. Jones, Jesse A. Guice, Bazell G. Puck- 
ett, Samuel L. L. Scott, Isaac Taylor, and A. D. 
Wooldridge were admitted on trial. At this Confer- 
ence Henry Stephenson was admitted on trial the 
third time. He was an excellent man and minister, 
now quite beyond the middle of life, with a consid- 
erable family, which accounts for his repeatedly re- 
tiring from the itinerancy. Eight were continued 
on trial; six received into full connection and or- 
dained deacons; three were ordained elders; John 
O. T. Hawkins, Samuel Walker, and William Leggett 
located; William Stephenson was declared super- 
numerary, Thomas Owens and William V Doug- 
lass superannuated, and Daniel D. Brewer had died. 
Dr. Job M. Ba"ker, late of the Missouri Conference, 
and Jonas Westerland were readmitted. Samuel 
Graves and Bevil Tabor were discontinued on ac- 
count of ill health, and Andrew Adams for unchris- 
tian conduct. Prom the local ranks John P. Sprowl, 
John Garner, Andrew C. Kilpatrick, Friend McMa- 
han, Gloucester Simpson (a free man of color), 
George Harrison* Thomas Green, Gabriel Blackburn, 
and William C. Gayle were elected deacons, and An- 
thony T. Simmons elder. 

Rev. Francis A. Owen had been transferred from 

302 A Complete History of Methodism 

the Tennessee Conference the previous year to travel 
as agent in the interests of Lagrange College. Mr. 
Hawkins having relinquished his pastorate in Natch- 
ez before the end of the year, Mr. Owen had been 
employed to fill the vacancy, and was found in charge 
of the station at the sitting of the Conference. 

All the preliminary steps were taken and some ex- 
pense incurred at this session in reference to the es- 
tablishment of a manual labor school of high grade 
in our Conference. In order to have some denomi- 
national influence in a home college, A. D. Wool- 
dridge, one of our probationers, was appointed to a 
professorship in Louisiana College, at Jackson, La. 
James P. Thomas was continued in the presidency of 
the Elizabeth Female Academy, which was still en- 
joying a good degree of prosperity. There occurred 
some trouble with two preachers at this Conference, 
Andrew Adams and John A. Cotton. Andrew Ad- 
ams came from New York, bringing with him the 
usual evidences of Church membership. Professing 
to be called of God to preach, he was licensed, and 
in December, 1828, he was admitted on trial into our 
Conference, and after traveling two years was dis- 
continued at his own request. After being local one 
year, he was admitted on trial again, and traveled 
two additional vears. He married an amiable and 
pious widow. His preaching always seemed more 
intellectual than spiritual ; still, he had conducted 
himself so prudently that his piety was not called 
into question. 

At the present Conference documents were put 
into the hands of William Winans setting forth the 
fact that Mr. Adams had left a wife in New York 

In the Mississippi Conference. 303 

without any justifiable cause, and in order to avoid 
detection had changed his name from Amos to An- 
drew Adams. Mr. Winans showed the documents to 
Mr. Adams, who acknowledged the truth of the whole 
affair, but pleaded in justification of his course the 
known disloyalty of his wife. He was discontinued. 

There were two John Cottons in our Conference. 
The older one died a bachelor at an advanced age. 
He was not remarkable for active zeal and pulpit 
power, but he was an intelligent, prudent, pious, 
and trustworthy man, and did some good work 
among us on circuits and small stations and as a mis- 
sionary among the Choctaw Indians. He located 
several times for short periods on account of failing 
health or to attend to his secular business, and final- 
ly died in a local relation at Hon. Henry G. John- 
son's, at Clinton, Miss. His end was full of reli- 
gious peace and comfort. 

Maj. John A. Cotton had been a regular soldier in 
the United States Army, and was well versed in 
military tactics and discipline. He was a bold, dar- 
ing man, and inclined to leadership. Before his con- 
version he was an ardent politician, wild and wicked. 
He married and settled somewhere on the Alabama 
River. He becanie embarrassed with debt and 
brought some property to Mississippi for sale to re- 
lieve his embarrassment. While here he fell in with 
Thomas Griffin, and was greatly impressed under his 
preaching, became awakened and converted, and on 
his return to Alabama he and his wife joined the 
Methodist Church. Mr. Cotton was very impulsive, 
and sometimes his zeal was not sufficiently tempered 
with knowledge. He was licensed to preach in 1827, 

304 A Complete History of Methodism 

and in December was admitted on trial into the Con- 
ference. He made a warm-hearted, zealous, impul- 
sive preacher, and was useful on the circuits he trav- 
eled, though he always provoked some opposition by 
being dogmatical in his remarks and too exacting in 
the administration of discipline. Mr. Cotton grad- 
uated to deacon's and elder's orders in due course, 
and was one of the working men in the Conference. 
In 1832-33 he was on Coles Creek Circuit. About 
the middle of his two years' term there his devoted 
and faithful wife went triumphantly to her eternal 
rest. Mr. Cotton married Miss Julia Folkes, a pious 
young lady of a good family, and seemed to be set- 
tling down in the quietude of married life again. 
But it was said the honor of the ministry, the purity 
of the Church, and the voice of public opinion de- 
manded a legal investigation of a rumored charge 
against him, and he was summoned*' before a commit- 
tee of investigation. When the committee reported, 
a motion was made by Francis A. Owen to deprive 
him of his official standing, which motion prevailed 
by seventeen for and thirteen against, which showed 
that a large minority, including some of the first men 
of the Conference, did not believe the testimony es- 
tablished any criminal intentions against Mr. Cot- 
ton. He retired into private life, and engaged in 
agricultural pursuits, and so conducted himself that 
he was soon restored to his official standing, and in 
a few years to his former position in the Conference. 
He possessed a large amount of pulpit power, was 
well acquainted with the avenues to the human 
heart, and was a successful tactician in revival meet- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 305 

The Conference received boxes of ready-made cloth- 
ing from the Ladies' Sewing Societies of New Or- 
leans and Natchez, which were placed in the hands 
of the presiding elders, to distribute among the most 
needy preachers. The thanks of the Conference 
were voted to the kind donors. 

The Book Agents at New York addressed us a let- 
ter setting forth their purpose to establish a weekly 
Church paper at Cincinnati. Our Conference or- 
dered the Secretary to reply that we did not believe 
they had authority to establish such a paper, that 
being the prerogative of the General Conference. 

Samuel Cresswell, a holy man and faithful preach- 
er, who was on probation, died during the year, and 
the Conference appointed a committee to write a 
suitable memoir, to be published in the New York 
Christian Advocate. 

Daniel D. Brewer, one of our most faithful and 
useful young ministers, also died on Rapides Circuit. 
Mr. Brewer was a native of North Carolina, and 
came to Louisiana about 1827, soon after which he 
was awakened and converted, and felt called to the 
work of the ministry. His early educational ad- 
vantages were limited, but he at once became a close 
student, so that by the end of 1828 he was ready to 
be received on trial, and was on his fifth circuit at 
the time of his death. From the time he entered the 
Conference he seemed to be wholly absorbed in his 
work. He studied, prayed, preached, visited, and 
conversed seriously about religion everywhere. Two 
years of his ministry he spent in Mississippi, two in 
Alabama, and the fifth, until his death, in Louisiana. 
No young minister with the same amount of talents 
Vol. II.— 30 

306 A Complete History of Methodism 

could have been more successful in winning souls to 
Christ than he was. He was buried not far above 
Alexandria, and his grave was well marked. 

Clinton, Miss., was chosen as the place of our next 
annual session, and Bishop Emory gave November 
12, 1834, as the time. 

The session closed in the church on Thursday, No- 
vember 21, 1833, after the Bishop's address to the 
preachers and reading % of the appointments. 

yVestern Louisiana was again divided into two 
districts, with Orsamus L. Nash on the Louisiana 
District and Preston Cooper on the Lake Provi* 
dence District. A new circuit appeared in the Lou- 
isiana District, called Franklin, with Washington 
Ford as pastor. The name of Bapides Circuit was 
changed to Alexandria, that of Boeuf Prairie to 
Harrisonburg, and Atakapas to Opelousas. In the 
Lake Providence District Carroll was substituted 
for Lake Providence, and Concordia for Lake St. 

William Winans succeeded Barnabas Pipkin on 
the New Orleans District. New Orleans was left 
to be supplied, as was also the newly inaugurated 
mission to the seamen and another to the colored 
people. A mission was established in what was then 
the upper part of the city, called LaFayette, . and 
Robert D. Smith was appointed in charge. A new 
work was also organized on the coast of Lake Pont- 
chartrain, called Covington and Madisonville, with 
Needham B. Raiford as pastor. Washington was 
dropped as the name of a district, and Natchez took 
its place. Thomas Clinton was continued presiding 
elder, with nine pastoral charges in his district; and 

In the Mississippi Conference. 307 

any one acquainted with the geography of the coun- 
try, by looking at the names of his circuits, can see 
what a vast territory he had to traverse and over- 

The name of Yazoo District was substituted by 
that of Vicksburg, with John Lane continued as 
presiding elder. • In this district Clinton and Jack- 
son were united in a pastoral charge, with Dr. Job 
M. Baker as pastor. His success in Jackson, the 
capital of the State, must have been small, as neither 
Church nor Church organization was there in 1836. 
Raymond was substituted for Crystal Spring as the 
name of a circuit. The name of Big Sand Mission 
was discontinued, and Yalobusha and Tallahatchie 
Missions were added to the Vicksburg District. 
These missions had no very definite bounds. They 
were intended to embrace as many of the new settle- 
ments in North Mississippi as the three preachers 
sent to them could visit. 

On the 20th of October, 1832, the "Treaty of Pon- 
totoc" was completed, by which the Chickasaw In- 
dians relinquished all their remaining lands in North 
Mississippi, and immediately commenced moving to 
the Indian Territory, west of Arkansas. This gave 
another large, new territory to occupy with a 
acanty supply of ministers. Emigrants poured into 
the Chickasaw purchase from every direction, and 
with them many Methodist families, embracing some 
first-class local and traveling preachers, who aided 
greatly in supplying the newcomers with the word 
and ordinances of the gospel. 

Alexander Talley was continued Superintendent 
of the Choctaw Mission West, with Thomas Myers, 

308 A Complete History of Methodism 

William W, Oakchiah, and Moses Perry as assist- 

The names of several districts and circuits were 
changed without any essential change in the form of 
the work. This was done by the suggestion of Bishop 
Emory, who advised to give the pastoral charges 
geographical names, such as post towns, county 
towns, cities, etc., so that their location could be 
found by consulting an ordinary gazetteer or on the 
maps of the country. This would be an accommo- 
dation to persons desiring to write to the pastors, 
and also to future" historians. 

The Bishop gave us a very hard appointment. 
It embraced Washington, the original hive of Meth- 
odism in Mississippi. It was called Adams Circuit, 
and embraced all of Adams County outside of Natch- 
ez and portions of Jefferson and Franklin Counties. 
The Churches had been greatly weakened numerical- 
ly and financially by the removal of large numbers 
of patronizing families to the Choctaw Purchase. 
The unpleasantness growing out of the deposition of 
Miles Harper had thrown many obstacles in the way 
of our success; and the developments in the case of 
Andrew Adams, who traveled the circuit the year be- 
fore, greatly discouraged the people, and gave those 
opposed to our Church cause of suspicion against the 
honor and integrity of our preachers. The result 
was an earnest protest from some of the official 
members against having a man with a family sent 
to the circuit: they could not support a family; the'y 
had more trouble with married than with single 
preachers, and asked that a single preacher be sent. 
As we were a member of the Bishop's council, we 

In the Mississippi Conference. 309 

heard all these matters thoroughly discussed. It was 
affirmed by some who knew the ill feeling of many 
on the circuit, in addition to their poverty, that they 
would not even try to support a married preacher, 
and that he must live on his own resources until he 
overcame that feeling. Others in the council said 
that if a man could be found who would go there and 
do faithful work such men as William Foster, Simeon 
Gibson, Isaac Noble, and John Robson would pay 
the expenses in the end. The conclusion was that 
the writer must go and attempt the rehabilitation 
of the broken-down circuit. Washington being the 
center of the circuit, he decided to place his family 
there, but he could find no person willing to board 
his wife and little son. One of the leading stewards 
said that we had better settle our family and go to 
work, while we were young and able to make a sup- 
port for them and to lay up something for old age, 
for we ought to know that the Church would not 
support ministers with families. We could not see 
through the dark cloud, and knew not what to do ex- 
cept to trust in God, labor, and wait patiently for 
the dawn of a brighter day. We considered our con- 
tract, in receiving the appointment, imperiously 
binding for the year, and determined to serve the 
circuit in the face of all opposition until the next 
Conference. That good man and quiet and faithful 
Christian, Thomas Farrar, came to our relief. He 
assisted us in getting a small cottage to live in, fur- 
nished firewood, and otherwise helped to set up 
housekeeping. Our prospects were gloomy for near 
half of the year. For the only time in our itineran- 
cy of more than fifty years, we determined on loca- 

310 A Complete History of Methodism 

tion at the end of the year. And now we ask the 
reader to pardon us for relating some family affairs 
that can be drawn from us only in view of their good 
and useful influence on others, and as illustrations 
of the faithful providence of God. Whenever we 
referred to the probabilities of our location, we no- 
ticed that our partner in distress was silent and sad. 
We came in one day unusually discouraged with our 
financial prospects. Some of our little debts for 
family supplies were overdue several months, and 
not a dollar was in sight to liquidate them. We told 
wife that we were fully determined on location at 
the end of the year. The inspiration of the Holy One 
seemed to come suddenly upon her, and she addressed 
us as follows: "My dear husband, I sincerely hope 
you will not locate. I married you as a traveling 
preacher; and if you locate, it will blight all my 
cherished hopes of your increasing usefulness. I 
know you are troubled about the support and com- 
fort of your family ; but if you do your duty, you need 
give yourself no anxiety on that point; for I fully 
believe that God in some way will amply provide for 
us." Her tone was respectfully affectionate, but 
firm and earnest. We could make no reply. We 
walked out of the house soliloquizing: "No honora- 
ble man could locate with such a wife. We are a 
doomed man ! Our fate is to continue in the itiner- 
ancy at all hazards." We soon became strong in 
the faith that God, in his own good time and way, 
would provide for us. Presently that dear old saint, 
William Foster, of Pine Ridge, now ready for his 
long-sought home in heaven, incidentally heard of 
our pecuniary embarrassment and gave us five hun- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 311 

dred dollars to pay all our debts. That saintly lady, 
Mrs. Brabston, gave us fifty dollars, and Peter T. 
Rabb twenty. In addition to these and other pri- 
vate donations, the quarterage began to come in reg- 
ularlv, and we soon found ourselves relieved from all 
pecuniary want. The Lord favored us with a gra- 
cious revival in Washington, with encouraging pros- 
pects at some country appointments. 

In a large neighborhood since known as Mount 
Carmel, in the northwestern corner of Franklin 
County, there was a glorious ingathering. We first 
commenced preaching and holding class meeting in 
the private residence of Daniel Guice. Then Daniel 
and Jacob Guice, Electious Williams, James Epps, 
and others put up a good hewed-log church on the 
site of the present Mount Carmel Church, where 
there was a gradual increase of members until it be- 
came one of the strongest Churches in all the coun- 
try. Daniel Guice, who was a very earnest Chris- 
tian, was for many years the class leader at Mount 
Carmel. There was a time when his Church seemed 
to be no longer progressive. The young people were 
growing up irreligious, and the heart of the good 
class leader was deeply troubled. He betook himself 
to earnest prayer, for a revival ; and believing it 
should start in the Church, he would take his class 
paper every day and, retiring to a clump of bushes, 
pray separately for every one whose name was on 
his register and for the, special necessities of each 
case. This persistent knee work of Uncle Daniel, 
as we generally called him, was soon succeeded by a 
most glorious revival at Mount Carmel. 

Who will write a history of the women of the itin- 

312 A Complete History of Methodism, 

erancy? As God calls some men to be itinerant 
preachers, so he calls some women to be the wives; 
and they are capable of becoming thoroughly imbued 
with the spirit and work of the itinerancy. It is 
seldom that they can travel with their husbands, but 
their thoughtful zeal in helping them off to their 
work and providing for the families in their absence, 
with many other incidents of self-denial and cross- 
bearing, show how deeply they are interested in the 
work of saving souls. The history of these beloved 
daughters of Zion, with their works of faith and la- 
bors of love, has never yet been written. Could any 
one capable of the pleasing task collect the materials 
and write their history, it would be at once One of the 
most beautiful and useful illustrations of active 

No numerical statistics for this year are given in 
the General Minutes, but the written Journal gives 
an increase over last year of four hundred and nine- 
ty-nine white, one hundred and fifty-six colored, and 
twenty-six Indian members, making the aggregate 
membership in the Conference nine thousand seven 
hundred and twelve. 



The Mississippi Conference assembled in Clinton, 
Miss., November 12, 1834. The bishop not being 
present, William Winans was called to the chair and 
opened the session with religious services. A letter 
was read from Bishop Soule, bringing the sad news 
that an almost entire failure of his physical pow- 
ers compelled him to relinquish the hope of being 
present. The Conference proceeded to ballot for a 
president, and William Winans was elected. He 
made a very correct and agreeable presiding officer, 
and counseled and admonished the preachers in 
wholesome episcopal style. Robert D. Smith was 
elected Secretary. 

The town of Clinton was in the zenith of its pros- 
perity: enjoyed a lively trade with the surrounding 
country; had a refined and intelligent population; 
the Mississippi College and an academy for girls 
within the corporation ; a Presbyterian and a Meth- 
odist Church, each having a membership including 
many of the best families. The Conference was very 
hospitably and pleasantly entertained. After the 
establishment of the Vicksburg and Jackson Rail- 
road, the trade of Clinton was diverted to other 
points and the town declined. 

The regular Conference business was taken up, 


314 A Complete History of Methodism 

and faithfully and impartially gone through with 
item by item. Winfrey B. Scott, William Langarl, 
John R. Mcintosh, Abdah C. Griffin, and David M. 
W T iggins were admitted on trial. Anthony H. Hol- 
comb, Henry Stephenson, Jonathan C. Jones, Jesse 
A. Guice, Bazell G. Puckett, Samuel L. L. Scott, Ab- 
salom D. Wooldridge, Enoch Whatley, and William 
W. Oakchiah, the native Choctaw, were continued 
on trial. After being admonished for deficiencies 
in the course of study, Charles K. Marshall, John G. 
Parker, Uriah Whatley, William S. Thornburg, and 
Cotman Methven were elected deacons. Washing- 
ton Ford and Needham B. Raiford were eligible to 
elder's orders in point of time ; but Mr. Ford was not 
present to be examined on the course of study and 
could not be elected, and Mr. Raiford's examination 
was not fully satisfactory and he was not elected. 
Jephthah Hughes and William H. Turnley were read- 
mitted; John Mathews, John Bilbo, Job M. Baker, 
John B. Higginbotham, James R. West, and Isaac 
Applewhite located; Isaac Taylor, Thomas Myers, 
William S. Thornburg, and John Dixon wore discon- 
tinued; William Winans needed to be superannuated 
on account of great debility, but they could only sup- 
ply the old Wilkinson Circuit with a young man just 
admitted on trial, and Mr. Winans consented to be 
placed on the supernumerary roll that he might have 
charge of this important circuit; Hardy Mullins, 
William Stephenson, William V. Douglass, and 
Thomas Owens were superannuated; Henry H. 
Shook was elected local deacon, and Isaac Wills lo- 
cal elder. 
"The Conference was unusually exacting in regard 

In the Mississippi Conference. 315 

to the course of study. There was a laudable de- 
termination to elevate the standard of ministerial 
education. The Conference voted quite a number 
of admonitions from the Chair to sundry undergrad- 
uates to be more diligent in their studies, which 
President Winans administered with stern integrity. 
Some of the younger brethren complained that the 
older ministers were attempting to elevate the course 
of study above the level of their own heads. Doubt- 
less if some of us had been examined with the same 
searching exactitude we would not have passed. 
But that was the misfortune of our times. We ex- 
pect our younger brethren, with their superior ad- 
vantages, to rise quite above the standard under the 
old, disheartening course of study. 

Every year the Conference drew a dividend from 
the Book Concern and from the Chartered Fund to 
supplement the deficient salaries of the preachers. 
As an illustration, the dividends for the present 
year were as follows: The Book Concern, six hun- 
dred dollars; the Chartered Fund, seventy-five dol- 

The liberal and faithful patron of our itinerancy 
in the Mississippi Conference, William Foster, of 
Pine Ridge, remembered us in his last will. He died 
in a ripe old age in 1834, and in his will bequeathed 
to the Conference thirty shares of stock in the Plant- 
ers' Bank, of the State of Mississippi, the annual in- 
terest of which was to be applied to the most neces- 
sitous cases among our traveling preachers. Ben- 
jamin M. Drake was appointed by this Conference 
to receive a legal transfer of the stock, and to col- 
lect the annual dividends, which were to be added 

316 A Complete History of Methodism 

to the interest of the Preachers' Fund Society of the 
Mississippi Conference. But alas for the stability 
of all moneyed investments! In a few years the 
bank broke, and the thirty shares of stock which Mr. 
Foster hoped would be doing good in all coming time 
were hopelessly lost. 

The Manual Labor School, or School of Industry, 
Was now looked upon "as the seminary about to be 
established," and Benjamin M. Drake, James P. 
Thomas, and John Lane were elected commissioners 
to make the location and contract for the building 
of the houses necessary. Subscriptions were to be 
taken by all the preachers, and a general traveling 
agent was to be appointed. The plans of the Con- 
ference would not work. A respectable minority 
did not believe a manual labor school could suc- 
ceed in Mississippi. They were in favor of a col- 
lege proper, without any appendage of manual labor. 
The resolutions of the majority were not carried out, 
and the establishment of the "School of Industry" 
was postponed. 

In the examination of character some difficulties 
came up in the case of Jonas Westerland, who had 
become involved in some pecuniary transactions 
which were disparaging to a minister. As he was 
not present, the only alternative was to leave him 
without an appointment and appoint a committee 
under the supervision of the presiding elder of the 
Louisiana District, to investigate his case at Alex- 
andria, where he resided. The investigation proved 
unfavorable to Mr. Westerland. 

The beloved Alexander Talley, the apostle of the 
Choct"w Nation, made his final report of the Mission 

In the Mississippi Conference. 317 

to this Conference. His almost worn-out .constitu- 
tion, with the claims of a young family, required his 
release from the arduous duties of the Mission. His 
report was very cordially accepted, and the Confer- 
ence unanimously passed the following resolution : 

Resolved, That this Conference express its entire appro- 
bation of Brother Talley's management of the Choctaw Mis- 
sion, and that it highly appreciates his services and sacri- 
fices in that mission. 

After a session of eight days, President Winans 
announced the appointments and, according to 
usage, we mounted our horses and scattered. The 
addition of much new territory and the enlarge- 
ment of the work in the older portions of the Confer- 
ence required considerable readjustment in the dis- 
tricts and pastoral charges. All of Louisiana west 
of the Great Swamp constituted the Louisiana Dis- 
trict, with Preston Cooper as presiding elder. Mr. 
Cooper was still one of the rising young men of the 
Conference. His deep and fervent piety, his studi- 
ous habits, and his close attention to every ministe- 
rial duty secured for him great influence among the 
people of his charge. In addition to his superior 
preaching talents, he was a fine singer, which in- 
creased his popularity and usefulness. 

A mission to the people of color on Bayou Boeuf, 
south of Alexandria, was added to the Louisiana 
District and left to be supplied. Four or five other 
colored missions were established in different parts 
of the Conference and left to be supplied, in view of 
securing the services of local preachers. The most 
important mission established at this Conference 
was one to the province of Texas. Hitherto no form 

318 A Complete History of Methodism 

of religion had been legally recognized in Texas ex- 
cept that of the Roman Catholic Church. As private 
individuals, Protestants were generally left undis- 
turbed in their faith ; but no Protestant public wor- 
ship or Protestant Church organization was toler- 
ated by the laws of the Mexican Republic. Where 
the Protestants were greatly in the majority, as they 
were in Northeastern Texas, their worship was con- 
nived at in private houses. And hence, as far back 
as 1824, the first regular missionary from our Con- 
ference, Henry Stephenson, now placed in charge of 
our newly established mission in Texas, was in the 
habit of making occasional preaching excursions in 
the Redland country. Indeed, there was preaching 
in what turned out to be Texas territory, between 
Red River and Sulphur Fork, as early as 1818; but 
this strip of country was then thought to belong to 
the United States, and hence the pioneer preachers 
were not only allowed to preach, but to organize 
Churches, and here doubtless the very first Metho- 
dist Churches were organized on Texas soil. 

Tn 1833 James P. Stephenson, a son of William 
Stephenson, who was on the Sabine Circuit, held a 
two days' meeting at Milam in the month of May; 
and early in July, assisted by other ministers, a camp 
meeting in the vicinity of Col. Samuel B. McMahan's. 
This camp meeting was repeated in September of the 
same year, at which a Church of forty -eight members 
was organized. This was the first Methodist Church 
organized on what was known to be Texas territory. 
Henry Stephenson was an, active participant in all 
these movements. In 1834, when he was on Sabine 
Circuit in Louisiana, in the month of June, he made 

Xh the Mississippi Conference. 319 

a preaching tour, through San Augustine County, 
and at the house of Mr. George Teel formed a soci- 
ety, Miss Eliza McFarland; late of Monroe, La., be- 
ing the first to offer herself for Church membership. 
This was probably the second Church organized in 


The province of Texas was now in an active state 
of revolution, and in religious matters little atten- 
tion was paid to the prohibitory laws of Mexico, 
especially by the Redlanders. A regular mission 
circuit was planned in Texas, connected with the 
Louisiana District. Henry Stephenson was more 
than willing to take charge of this mission. For 
more than a dozen years he had kept his eye and 
heart on the establishment of Methodism in Texas. 
He seemed to feel a providential call in that direc- 
tion, and kept himself poor in worldly substance by 
devoting much of his time and labor, mainly at his 
own expense, to these pioneer preaching excursions. 
As early as 1824 Mr. Stephenson penetrated west- 
ward to Austin's Colony and preached in private 
houses, and did the .same in 1828 and in 1830. There 
is no statistical report of the number of members in 
this mission, either in the General Minutes or the 
written journal, and # in the confusion which followed 
tke revolution and the Cherokee war in the Red- 
lands the mission was suspended for several years. 

There are.many conflicting opinions as to who was 
tlie first Methodist preacher to visit Texas, where 
the firnt sermon was preached, the first camp meet- 
ing held, the first Church organized, etc. 

Barnabas Pipkin was presiding elder on the New 
Orleans District, John C. Burruss was stationed at 

320 A Complete History of Methodism 

the First Church in New Orleans ; Alexander Talley 
for six months to the Upper Fauxbourg and LaFay- 
ette Mission, and Samuel L. L. Scott was appointed 
in charge of the mission to the colored people. Wil- 
liam M. Curtis was continued in the Book Deposi- 
tory. The mission to the seamen is not mentioned 
in the list of appointments, though our preachers still 
took part, with those of other denominations, in 
preaching to the sailors. Baton Rouge was made a 
station, with Charles K. Marshall in charge. Mr. 
Marshall was blessed in his labors, and added many 
to the Church. 

Benjamin M. Drake was appointed in charge of 
the Natchez District, and soon began to display 
those extraordinary pulpit powers which made him 
so deservedly conspicuous in all his after life. Hith- 
erto he had been confined much of his time to town 
and city stations ; and having to prepare two or three 
sermons a week for the same congregation, they 
were evidently immature and often wanting in pulpit 
power. He was a clear and graceful speaker, but 
he did not seem to have room in a station for the 
full development of his preaching abilities. Those 
who knew him before as well as after he was ap- 
pointed presiding elder could see how rapidly hia 
talents were developed into a most powerful pulpit 
laborer. To his large quarterly and camp meeting 
audiences, where he had ample time to elaborate his 
sermons, for clearness, directness, and power he 
preached as never before. He had not the revival 
tactics of Thomas Owens, Ira Byrd, or Thomas 
Griffin ; yet he was decidedly a revivalist, and 
few men labored harder for the manifest awakening 

In the Mississippi Conference. 321 

and conversion of souls than did Benjamin M. Drake. 
As an executive officer he adhered strictly to the 
laws of the Church, and he was one of the best ex- 
positors of our disciplinary rules. Hitherto it had 
been the usage on circuits for the preacher in charge 
to appoint the place of holding the Quarterly Con- 
ference; but Mr. Drake introduced the practice of 
the Quarterly Conference fixing the place of its sit- 
ting by a majority vote, and the practice has become 
universal. He was a progressive man, and encour- 
aged whatever tended to increase the efficiency and 
extend the usefulness of all Church enterprises. He 
favored the building of comfortable church houses 
in a style suitable to the advanced state of society ; 
also large and substantial camp meeting sheds to 
protect . the congregation from the sun and rain. 
He utterly ignored choirs and organs in congrega- 
tional singing, and opposed them sternly to the end 
of his life. He conscientiously believed that our 
old Wesleyan style of encouraging all our people to 
sing earnestly was by far the most pleasant and use- 
ful style of conducting this important part of our 
public worship. He was a superior singer himself, 
and was familiar with the popular songs and cho- 
ruses, and often usjed them with great effect. Mr. 
Drake was a representative man in the ministry. 
In addition to an attractive personal appear- 
ance, he had a well-trained voice that could be dis- 
tinctly heard in a congregation of any size. Such 
were his fervent piety, mature judgment, and una- 
bating zeal that all the interests of the Church were 
safe in his hands. 
Robert D. Smith was stationed in Natchez and was 
Vol. II. — 21 

322 A Complete History of Methodism 

also Superintendent of the Choctaw Mission West. 
The name of Adams Circuit was changed to that of 
Washington, and the writer was reappointed. 
Washington Ford was appointed to Coles Creek, but 
his domestic circumstances were such that he could 
not fill the appointment. We proposed to the pre- 
siding elder that if he would employ Miles Harper 
on the Kingston part of Washington Circuit and 
Richard Overby \o assist* us we would unite Coles 
Creek and Washington into one vast circuit and 
supply each Church with preaching once a fortnight. 
The proposed arrangement was made. 

This was the year of Rev. John Newland Maffitt's 
first visit to Natchez, where he conducted a revival 
meeting a month or two, day and night. He spent 
several weeks at Washington, where was also a glo- 
rious revival. 

Port Gibson and Grand Gulf, for the want of a 
suitable preacher, were connected with Bayou Pierre 
Circuit, with John Cotton in charge. 

John Lane was Continued on the Vicksburg Dis- 
trict, which included Carroll Circuit in Louisiana 
and Washington and Bolivar Counties in Missis- 
sippi. Benjamin A. Houghton was stationed in 
Vicksburg, and Elias R. Porter, an eloquent and tal- 
ented transfer from the Tennessee Conference, in 

A new district was organized to include the old 
White Sand Circuit, east of Pearl River, and extend- 
ed northward to include most of the Choctaw and 
Chickasaw purchases. The circuits in this vast ter- 
ritory retained the names of last year, with the ad- 
dition of Sineasha Mission, intended to embrace 

In the Mississippi Conference. 3^3 

Leake and Attala Counties from the waters of Tus- 
calametta on the south to the French Camps on the 
north, and also that of the Choctaw Mission East, 
which was supplied by a native local preacher named 
Toblechubby. This mission was composed of a con- 
siderable number of Choctaw families east of Ran- 
kin County who had not yet removed to the West. 
Their official members were connected with the Ran- 
kin Circuit Quarterly Conference. Orsamus L. 
Nash was appointed to this extensive district, and 
during the year did a large business as land agent 
for sundry capitalists, which, on account of the 
great financial crash that soon after came on the 
country, turned out to be a very onerous and a very 
unproductive burden to both agent and capitalists. 
Multiplied thousands of dollars were lost by the at- 
tempted speculation. 

Charles F, Carney was appointed principal mis- 
sionary to the Choctaw Nation West, to labor in 
conjunction with William W Oakchiah and Moses 
Perry. Dr. James P Thomas was appointed Agent 
for the Mississippi Conference Seminary, which yet 
had no existence, and a worthy layman by the name 
of Lewis Bryan took his place as President of the 
Elizabeth Female Academy. A. D. Wooldridge was 
continued as Professor of Languages in the Jackson 
(Louisiana) College. 

In the earlier days of Methodism in New Orleans 
Mrs. William Ross, Jacob Knobb and wife, Patrick 
Thompson and wife, and a few others were valuable 
members of the Church. Miss Peggy Skinner, a 
maiden lady, came to New Orleans from Maryland 
about 1816. She was a true Methodist in principle 

324: A Complete History of Methodism 

and practice, and very often shouted in the goeial 
meetings of the Church. She lived in the city more 
than forty years, and always held the respect and 
confidence of her coreligionists. In her latter years 
she was generally called by her younger associates 
"Aunt Peggy" She lived to see her Church in. a 
very prosperous condition. 

Mrs. Theresa Cannoe was a French lady, born and 
brought up in the Island of Santo Domingo, where 
she lived until the terrible massacre of the whites by 
the negroes. Seeing her life in immediate peril, she 
ran to the quay and importuned a kind-hearted negro 
man to put her on board a vessel anchored a little 
way from shore. She now felt that she had no home 
or kindred on earth, and it was a matter of small 
importance as to where the vessel was going, so she 
escaped the bloody fate of her race on her native 
isle. She was landed in Wilmington, N. C, where 
she soon found a home and employment in a wor- 
thy Methodist family. She was fairly educated, 
and her social position was somewhat elevated in 
her native land; but she knew nothing of religion 
except the faith and ritual of the Roman Catholic 
Church. Soon after her arrival in Wilmington she 
began to learn something about the Protestant faith 
and forms of worship, especially as held and prac- 
ticed by the Methodists. Camp meeting season 
came on, and her hostess invited her to accompany 
the family to their annual camp meeting. Here 
Mrs. Cannoe was awakened and brought into the 
glorious light and liberty of the children of God. 
Believing she could succeed better in New Orleans, 
where a large portion of the population spoke her 

In the Mississippi Conference. 325 

native language, she came to the city about 1820. 
She was greatly beloved by the Church and respect- 
ed by the world. Perhaps no Christian lady in New 
Orleans ever exerted a greater religious influence for 
thirty-four consecutive years than she did. She has 
left the sweet savor of "a good name rather to be 
chosen than great riches." 

Mr. Wesley Coleman was steward and class leader, 
and he and his wife were acknowledged as very con- 
sistent and reliable Church members. They after- 
wards left the city and moved to the West. 

Mrs. Mary Jane, then the young wife of William 
Deacon, was converted in the old warehouse loft on 
Poydras 'Street between Carondelet and Barronne 
Streets, used by the Methodists as a place of wor- 
ship about 1825, and Mr. Deacon united with the 
Church on Gravier Street in 1S2S. He made a verv 
useful layman up to the time of his death, in 1858. 
Mrs. Deacon still lives, in mature old age. Her 
Christian life so far has been one of holiness, zeal, 
and good works. She is remarkably gifted in 
prayer, with a fervor, appropriateness, eloquence, 
and faith not often met with. She and other beloved 
sisters in Christ have "labored much in the Lord," 
and have been pillars in the Church for scores of 

James Wright brought his Methodist family to 
New Orleans in the days of the old Gravier Street- 
Church, and for a long series of years they were 
among the most prominent and useful members of 
our Church in the city. Mr. Wright was a success- 
ful cotton factor and commission merchant, handled 
a large amount of money and was noted for his lib- 

326 . A Complete History of Methodism 

erality to all the interests of the Church. His hospi- 
table home was a rallying place for Methodists and 
Methodist preachers in general. James Wright did 
"good in Israel, both toward God and toward his 

James Ross, though he died a member of the Pres- 
byterian Church, deserves a notice in connection 
with our Church in New Orleans. His father, Wil- 
liam Ross, was a prominent and active Presbyterian, 
but his mother was a Methodist, and his first recol- 
lection of Methodism was going with his mother 
to the first class meeting ever held in New Orleans. 
His father was an active participant in opposing the 
British invasion in 1814-15, and James was frequent* 
ly sent to camp by his mother as the bearer of little 
family supplies to his father, and on the 8th of Jan- 
uary, 1815, was near enough to witness the great 
closing battle of the war. A little negro boy that 
went with him was killed. He was trained to hab- 
its of industry, and grew up, under the teaching and 
example of his godly parents, a moral and upright 
youth. In 1828 William M- Curtiss was the pas- 
tor of Gravier Street Church. He was very success- 
ful in bringing young people into the Church, and 
among them was James Ross, who the following year 
married Miss Sarah H. Wailes, daughter of Levin 
Wailes and sister of Mrs. William M. Curtiss. Mr. 
Ross succeeded his father as flour inspector for the 
port of New Orleans, which office he held for more 
than forty years, to the time of his death. He ah» 
held other offices of honor and trust, and was ever 
in high estimation. About 1848 a very unhappy 
misunderstanding disturbed the peace and harmony 

In the Mississippi Conference. 327 

of our Church in New Orleans, when Mr. and Mrs. 
Ross withdrew their membership and united with 
the Presbyterian Church. 

How often do the sacred writers of both the Old 
and New Testament Scriptures make honorable men- 
tion, not only of. the deeply pious men of the Church, 
but also of the holy and useful women ! We have 
attempted to follow their example and to make hon- 
orable mention of both the men and women of holi- 
ness and zeal with which our Church has been 

Rev. James Carson, one of the early Methodists 
of Natchez, was born at Sligo, Ireland, in 177f>. He 
recollected seeing Mr. Wesley administer the Lord's 
Supper in his father's house when he was a small 
boy. Mr. Carson was converted early in life, and 
commenced preaching when only eighteen years old. 
After preaching in Ireland as a local preacher, he 
came to New York; and after preaching in and 
around that city about fifteen years with marked ac- 
ceptability and usefulness, he removed to Natchez 
in 1818. He lived in Natchez more than fortv years,' 
during which time he filled several offices of honor 
and trust, and was always esteemed as an upright 
and useful citizen. ' Through weal and woe he was 
ever true and faithful to the interests of the Church. 
As he advanced in years and into the infirmities of 
extreme old age, he grew in favor with the Church and 
his fellow-citizens. During the last ten or fifteen 
years of his life he was so deaf that he could not hear 
profitably any of the ordinary exercises of the sanc- 
tuary; yet, in "seedtime and harvest, and cold and 
heat, and summer and winter, and day and night," 

328 A Complete History of Methodism 

he was, with rare exceptions, always in his place in 
the house of God. He not only wished to join the 
assembly of the saints in spirit in their public wor- 
ship, but he also wished the force of his example to 
be felt. Mr. Carson descended peacefully into the 
shades of death July 1, 1860, aged eighty-four years, 
about seventy of which he was a public professor of 
discipleship to Christ. Mrs. Carson also was 
through a long life an exemplary follower of the 
Saviour, and died in peace at a good old age. One 
of their daughters, Mrs. Sarah Mathewson, may not 
be the oldest person in our Church in Natchez, but 
she is the oldest living Church member, dating her 
membership in Natchez from 1818. Like her sainted 
father, she has not only lost her hearing but also her 
sight. Yet such is her love for her Church and the 
Church of her ancestors that she regularly attends 
public worship. At the appointed hour, following 
the guidance of her no less pious sister, Miss Eliza 
Carson, she walks through what to her is utter dark- 
ness and unbroken silence to the house of God. O 
what a change she will realize when she wakes up 
in the image of God among the saints in glory ! 

Christopher Miller is one of the historical charac- 
ters of Methodism in Natchez. He was born in Ha- 
gerstown, Md., in 1770, and came to Natchez several 
years before the termination of the Spanish govern- 
ment. In 1811 he descended to New Orleans on the 
first steamboat that ever passed Natchez. He united 
with the Church in 1823, and was a very consistent, 
straightforward, reliable member to the close of his 
life, in 1854. It was both pleasant and profitable to 
hear him narrate in his quiet, intelligent way the 

In the Mississippi Conference. 329 

reminiscences of a departed generation in and about 
Natchez. One of liis cherished memories was the 
part he took in the capture of Aaron Burr on Coles 
Creek, a few miles from the Mississippi River, in 
January, 1807, at the house of Thomas Calvit. Mr. 
Miller was not very demonstrative in his religious 
impulses, but was remarkable for his regularity as 
a Christian and his devoted attention to all the in- 
terests of the Church. His long life was crowned 
with a tranquil death. 

Mary Ann Robson (afterwards Mrs. Flintoff) was 
born in Durham County, England, March 10, 1791, 
and at the age of fifteen was received into the Church 
by Dr. Thomas Coke, our first bishop, on one of his 
return visits to England. When about twenty -four 
years of age she was married to Mr. William Flint- 
off, whose mother was a sister of the celebrated Lord 
Admiral Nelson, of the British Navy Mr. Flintoff 
was also a true Wesleyan Methodist. They came to 
the United States in 1819, and settled in Orange 
County, North Carolina, where they at once con- 
nected themselves with the Methodist Episcopal 
Church. They had no church house in their neigh- 
borhood, and for a number of years their public wor- 
ship and social mee'tings were held in a mill belong- 
ing to a brother of Mrs. Flintoff, who was also an 
active Methodist. Mr. Flintoff was their class lead- 
er; and after his death Mrs. Flintoff took charge of 
his class, which she led successfully, in connection 
with teaching in the Sunday school, about twenty 
years. In the meantime she also taught a highly 
creditable day school. It was as late as 1852 when 
she came to Natchez, where she immediately took 

330 A Complete History of Methodism 

her position in the Church as an exemplary, active, 
and useful member. Her house was the constant 
abode of a happy and lively religious enjoyment. 
Both preachers and members often felt that it was 
good to be there. After having lived in the enjoy- 
ment of the favor and love of God for sixty-five years, 
she sweetly fell asleep in Jesus September 25, 1871, 
aged eighty years. 

Miss Eliza Lowe was born in Knoxville, Tenn., 
December 3, 1792, and about 1800 was brought to 
Natchez, where she grew to womanhood, a handsome 
and most amiable young lady. There lived in Natch- 
ez a clever and enterprising young gentleman by the 
name of Peter Little, who had the sagacity to see a 
prize in this young lady from Tennessee, and sought 
and obtained her hand in marriage. They were mar- 
ried August 27, 180G. Mr. Little saw that his young 
wife had all the natural and mental endowments of 
a first-class woman except a finished education to 
qualify her for her proper position in society. She 
was fond of books and had improved herself consid- 
erably by private reading, but still she was deficient 
in the elements of a finished education. To remedy 
this, she went to a good school in Natchez several 
years after her marriage, and acquired such an edu- 
cation as qualified her to take her position in the 
most elevated class of society. This was all praise- 
worthy; but her religious history, in connection 
with her long life of Christian usefulness, is what 
mainly deserves admiration. When but a little 
girl she was impressed with a sense of her depend- 
ence on her Heavenly Father, and, to use her own 
language, she "always prayed to the God of Abra- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 331 

ham, Isaac, and Jacob." On one of the early visits 
of Lorenzo Dow to Natchez she was awakened under 
his preaching. She at once determined to seek, ac- 
cording to the best light she could obtain, the for- 
giveness of her sins and the regeneration of her sin- 
ful nature. After many conflicts with an unbeliev- 
ing heart, she was enabled to lay hold on Christ by 
faith as a present and all-sufficient Saviour. It 
was about 1818, when the small city of Natchez was 
connected with the large circuit of Claiborne, that 
she united with the Church under the pastorate of 
Eev. John Menefee. She united with Dr. Henry 
Tooly in forming the first Methodist Sabbath school 
in Natchez, and to this day the Sabbath School So- 
ciety bears her honored name. She had a feeling 
heart for the needy of all classes. She was among 
the founders of the Natchez Orphan Asylum, and 
was an active and liberal member of the association 
to the end of her life. Mr. Little was an enterpris- 
ing and thrifty man, and gradually acquired a large 
fortune. He built a palatial residence in the Bluff, 
overlooking the Mississippi River, with its hundreds 
of water craft continually passing and repassing, 
and this home became the abode of Christian hos- 
pitality on a magnificent scale. Bishops, presiding 
elders, pastors, and ministers of every grade met a 
cordial welcome there. The headquarters of John 
N. Maffitt were there during his protracted sojourn 
in Natchez. In the midst of this wealth and noto- 
riety Mrs. Little was the same meek-spirited, quiet, 
unostentatious follower of Jesus, showing her faith 
not so much by her words as by her works. She fin- 
ished life's responsible and weary journey in great 

332 A Complete History of Methodism 

peace on her plantation in Concordia Parish, La., 
September 20, 1853. 

The maiden name of Mrs. Mary Reed was Patter- 
son. She was born in Pendleton County, Virginia, 
December 22, 1792, and was brought up near Pitts- 
burg, Pa. About 1820 her family came to Warren 
County, Mississippi, and settled on the waters of 
Bogue DeSha. Soon after she united with the 
Church under the ministry of Rev. John Lane, and 
at the first camp meeting held in the open woods 
near Mont Alban she was gloriously converted. 
Her husband died in Mexico, where he had gone on 
business, leaving her with a family of little children 
to bring up and educate on limited means; but she 
took God for her portion and the strength of her 
heart, and betook herself to the responsible task. 
Early in 1828 she removed to Natchez, where she 
reared her family and spent the remainder of her 
life. She was a most exemplary, deeply pious, zeal- 
ous, and useful member, always ready and willing 
to do her part in private circles and in the social 
meetings of the Church. She was a safe counselor 
and a worthy example for the younger members of 
the Church. Her children occupy prominent places 
in the Church, and one of her grandsons was admit- 
ted on trial at the late session of the Mississippi Con- 
ference, in December, 1874. After a faithful pil : 
grimage on earth, she was permitted joyfully to de- 
part and be with Christ November 13, 1863. 

"But what of Aunt Cecil?" The reader need not 
fear that we will overlook one of the best women in 
Natchez. The history of Methodism would be very 
incomplete if she were left out. Sarah Cecil wag 

In the Mississippi Conference. 333 

the daughter of Dr. L. B. Mitchel, and was born in 
Baltimore, Md., February 28, 1796. Her parents 
moved to Kentucky in 1800, and when she was fif- 
teen years old she joined the Church in Louisville 
under the ministry of Rev. William McMahon. Soon 
after she was happily born into the kingdom of 
grace at a camp meeting held at Selma Church, near 
Middletown. After her marriage to Mr. Cecil she 
removed with her family to Natchez in 1818, and 
immediately reported her membership to the pastor, 
Rev. John Menefee. By her impulsive, outspoken 
religious enjoyment, and by her well-directed zeal 
and activity in all Church matters, she at once be- 
came an acknowledged leader in the sisterhood of 
the small but growing community of Methodists 
in Natchez. She was full of that sort of sympathy 
which is the outflowing of a heart richly imbued 
with the love of Christ, always ready to weep with 
those who wept and to rejoice with those who re- 
joiced. She was greatly gifted in prayer ; was an in- 
telligent and feeling speaker in class meeting and 
love feast and a successful worker about the altar in 
revivals; took an active and liberal part in all the 
benevolent enterprises of the Church; and was, in 
every sense, a helpef in the gospel. In the midst of 
this joy, zeal, and activity in the Church, she was 
overtaken with the greatest sorrow that can over- 
whelm a wife and a mother. Her once gentlemanly 
and provident husband gave way to habits of de- 
grading vice until he finally abandoned his family 
and became a wandering, homeless vagabond. This 
great affliction urged her nearer to God. She be- 
came more and more spiritually minded. She 

334 A Complete History of Methodism 

mourned and wept and prayed for her lost husband 
until her faith grew strong and she felt an assur- 
ance that God in some way would save his soul, 
when she did not know where he was wandering in 
his dissipation and when no one else hoped for his 
reformation and conversion. Finallv he was con- 
lined by long and excessive debility, during which 
he had time for reflection and penitential prayer. 
He seemed to drink the cup of bitter repentance to 
the very dregs, and then throw his guilty, polluted, 
and helpless soul on an all-sufficient Saviour, and 
died in hope of eternal life. 

But this dear, sainted woman had another trial 
of her faith which, perhaps, was the means of her 
final perfection through suffering. Her youngest- 
born was her only son, and, like the mother of Sam- 
uel, she dedicated him to God from his birth for the 
services of the ministry. She named him Curtiss 
Drake, after two of her favorite pastors. Curtiss 
grew up a good boy, but in early manhood became 
neglectful of his religious duties. His life was be- 
clouded with sin. The prospect of his becoming 
a preacher was anything but flattering. Still his 
mother affirmed that it would be so ; that God would 
not let her faith be disappointed or her hope be lost. 
The most she now had to live for was by prayer and 
faith to nurse her dedicated son into the ministry 
Finally he and his young wife righted up, changed 
their course, and united with the Church under cir- 
cumstances which gave great encouragement of fu- 
ture success. The work of the aged mother on earth 
was now done; and having attained the ripe age of 
sixty-nine years, she died in full hope of eternal life 

In the Mississippi Conference 335 

February 27, 1865. She left, her son, Curtiss D. 
Cecil, and his wife in charge of the old homestead. 
Their course has been that of true Christians. Mr. 
Cecil soon began to take an active part in the social 
meetings of the Church, then to giving more public 
exhortations, and then was licensed to preach; and 
after a very acceptable probation as a local preacher 
he was admitted on trial into the Conference, and is 
now (1875) in charge of Meadville Circuit. 

These are only a few of the representative char- 
acters of the second generation of Methodists in 
Natchez. A volume could be filled with biograph- 
ical sketches of their contemporaries. The names 
of a few others must be recorded. 

Mrs. Sarah Bradley was noted for her deep and 
regular piety. She was especially commended as a 
constant reader of the Bible. 

Letitia Harrison (whose maiden name was ( lib- 
son, her parents being of the original stock of Gibsons 
who adhered so early to our Church) was born in 
the vicinity of Natchez February 3, 1784, and, after 
a long and useful pilgrimage in the Church, died in 
peace and holy hope in Natchez, aged ninety years. 
She was a most lovely Christian, and in her latter 
years was almost universally called "Grandma" by 
the preachers and members of the Church. 

William Vancampen and his wife, Mary H., came 
to Natchez from New York originally, and made two 
of the very best members. Their daily walk and 
conversation were a constant exhibition of a pure 
Christianity. Mr. Vancampen was active as a 
steward and class leader, as an exhorter, and finally 
as a local preacher. He felt that his mission as a 

336 A Complete History of Methodism 

preacher was mainly to the colored people in Natch 
ez and on the adjacent plantations, and he spent 
many years and endured some heavy persecution 
from wicked overseers in this important work. Aft- 
er the great financial crash of 1838-40, he became 
discouraged with the prospects of our country, and 
especially with the immorality implied in the fraud- 
ulent sale, concealment, or removal of property 
to avoid the payment of just debts, and removed to 
Illinois, where Mrs. Vancampen died in 1860, and 
Mr. Vancampen in 1862. 

Jesse and Sarah M. Trahern were two most ex- 
cellent Methodist Christians in Natchez between 
1822 and 1828. Mr. Trahern was an admirable class 
leader and a zealous Methodist. 

The grace of God was greatly magnified in the 
conversion and future religious life of John Brack- 
ett. He kept a retail drinking house, drank to ex- 
cess himself, and associated daily with the rude and 
dissipated who patronized his establishment. He 
seemed to be quite beyond the reach of gospel in- 
fluences. His wife became awakened, and after a 
season of deep penitence was truly converted and 
became a happy and faithful follower of the Lord. 
Of course one of her first cares was the conversion 
of her husband. She prayed most earnestly that 
he might be reclaimed from his dissipated habits 
and brought into the kingdom of Christ. She exhib- 
ited daily before him the beautiful example of a 
meek, humble, consistent, and happy Christian. Tt 
was not long before Mr. Brackett became thorough- 
ly awakened to a sense of his guilt and danger, aban- 
doned sin, and became an earnest seeker of salvation. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 337 

He promptly closed his drinking house, and was 
gloriously born into the kingdom of Christ. The 
change was manifest to all beholders. Sinners 
looked on with astonishment, and his fellow-Chris- 
tians with adoring wonder at the grace of God as 
manifested in his salvation. His coffeehouse was 
superseded by a variety store; his business and the 
whole course of his life were now scrupulously reg- 
ulated by the precepts of the gospel. Both he and 
his wife "became active and useful members of the 

Mrs. Mary Anderson stood related to the first 
Methodist Church in Vicksburg very much as Sarah 
Cecil did to that of Natchez. How the Church 
could have arisen and prospered in Vicksburg with- 
out a few such members as Mrs. Anderson is difficult 
to conjecture. She was the daughter of John and 
Catharine Burnett, and was brought up in the lower 
valley of Pearl River. Mary Burnett was hand- 
some, intelligent, and fascinating. She was first 
married to Mr. Francis Nailor, and after his death 
to Dr. Thomas Anderson. She had a happy expe- 
rience of the justifying, regenerating, and sancti- 
fying grace of God. Dr. Anderson located in Vicks- 
burg when it was yet a small village, and secured a 
large and lucrative practice, which he retained to 
extreme old age. Mary Anderson was faithful unto 
death, May 13, 1833. 

Thomas Berry and his wife embraced religion and 
united with the Church in the southeastern part of 
Mississippi. At an early day they came to Vicks- 
burg and kept a temperance tavern, which in those 
days implied a boarding house for residents, a 
Vol. n.— 22 

338 A Complete History of Methodism. 

house of entertainment for travelers, and a stable 
for horses. Livery stables were not then known in 
Mississippi as separate establishments. They were 
thorough Methodists. Eev. Thomas Berry died in 
great peace in the home of his brother, near Loogoo- 
tee, Ind., February 10, 1873, aged eighty-four years. 



The Mississippi Conference assembled, according to 
appointment, at Woodville, Miss., November 25, 
1835. To the great joy of the Conference, Bishop 
Soule was present to open the session with the usual 
religious services. A fair proportion of the members 
were present. Robert D. Smith was again elected 
Secretary. A Committee on Memoirs was called 
for. This caused tears to flow afresh at the great 
loss sustained during the past summer in the death 
of two of our most beloved brethren — Dr. Alexander 
Talley and Jonathan C. Jones. Benjamin M. Drake 
and Robert D. Smith were appointed to prepare a 
memoir of Dr. Talley for the General Minutes, and 
Preston Cooper one of Jonathan C. Jones (who was 
on probation when he died) for the Christian Advo- 
cate and the Journal. On the last dav of the ses- 
sion the committee reported a memoir of Dr. Talley, 
which was adopted "on condition that it should be 
amended by adding some facts of his early history," 
and it was left in the hands of the committee for 
this purpose. The question in the General Minutes, 
"Who have died this year?" is answered "None." 
Who was responsible for this? The memoir does 
not appear in the General Minutes until 1839; and 
notwithstanding that long delay, it is exceedingly 


340 A Complete History of Methodism 

imperfect, containing neither the time nor the place 
of his birth nor of his conversion, nor the date of his 

Doctor Talley was married three times. By his 
first and second marriages he had no living children ; 
by his last he had two, who were beneficiaries of our 
Conference as long as they were claimants. By the 
end of 1834 he was so completely prostrated that he 
was compelled to give up missionary work among the 
Indians. It was his intention to ask a release from 
regular pastoral work that he might travel in quest 
of health ; but the Upper Fauxbourg and LaFayette, 
immediately adjoining New Orleans, were fast filling 
up with an English-speaking population, and it was 
thought best to establish a mission among them, and 
Doctor Talley was selected as the most suitable man 
to organize the mission. He was appointed there 
for six months, with the understanding that he 
might leave as soon as the climate proved unfavor- 
able to his health. On the approach of summer his 
health declined very perceptibly, and he set out with 
his family, intending to visit the Northwest. Be- 
tween Natchez and Vicksburg he was violently at- 
tacked with cholera, and, being landed at Vicksburg, 
lived but a few hours and died in great peace and 
holy triumph. Not long before he expired he said : 
"My work on earth is done, and I am going to re- 
ceive my reward." He was buried in the old ceme- 
tery, in the eastern part of the city. He has deserv- 
edly been styled "The Apostle of the Choctaws," for 
through his labors and sacrifices God opened the 
door of faith to these children of the wilderness. 

Jonathan Coleman Jon«« was the youngest brother 


In the Mississippi Conference. 341 

of the author. He was the last child of Jonathan 
and Phebe Griffing Jones, and was born in Jefferson 
County, Miss., January 26, 1814. His father 
died when he was an infant, and his mother when 
he was nine years old. Jonathan lived not far away 
from old Caneridge, the headquarters of Methodism 
in those days. Three of his mother's sisters were 
members of that Church, and they watched over him 
with affectionate faithfulness and love, and kept 
him under the influence of the Church. When about 
eighteen years of age, after having led a very moral 
life, he was powerfully converted and became a 
jubilant and happy Christian. Gabriel and Abigail 
Scott still kept up their weekly prayer meeting in 
their house for the purpose of training the young 
members in the active duties of religion; and Jona- 
than having taken upon himself the vows of Church 
membership, they soon had him at work in the 
prayer and class meetings. He acknowledged his 
call to preach and immediately turned his attention 
to a preparation for the gospel ministry. Thomas 
Clinton, who was then presiding elder of the Wash- 
ington District, employed him to fill a vacancy on 
Coles Creek Circuit, where he labored very accepta- 
bly in 1833. At the ensuing Conference he was ad- 
mitted on trial and appointed in charge of St. Helena 
Circuit, where he labored very acceptably and use- 
fully in 1834. At the end of the year he drew up a 
most complete plan of his circuit for his successor. 
It gave him on two pages of foolscap such a com- 
plete outline of persons, places, distances, the moral 
status of the Churches, etc., as would enable him to 
see his whole field of labor at a glance. At the Clin- 

342 A Complete History of Methoditm 

ton Conference he was appointed in charge of Alex- 
andria Circuit, in Western Louisiana; and being 
anxious to get to his work, he left Clinton in a state 
of great bodily weakness and made his way through 
the Mississippi Swamp in the dead of winter to his 
circuit. His circuit was large, extending south of 
Alexandria as far down as Cheneyville, and up the 
Rapides and Cotite Bayous and around the head 
waters of Calcasieu River. He entered on his work 
with his characteristic regularity, earnestness, and 
zeal, and persevered through all weathers in preach- 
ing and in visiting his people fpom house to house. 
In Denham's neighborhood he found a fatal fever 
prevailing epidemically with all the virulence of 
yellow fever except its fatality was not so rapid. 
He immediately commenced visiting and praying 
with the sick, offering the consolations of religion 
to the dying, and burying the dead. In a few days 
he was taken with the deadly fever, but he still vis- 
ited some of the sick near Mr. Denham's, where he 
was staying. After having the fever two days, he 
was told that a man in the vicinity, who had never 
been converted, was in a dying condition. He rose 
up and walked over to see him, told him that his only 
remedy was to give up his sins and come immediately 
to an all-sufficient and willing Saviour, then sang 
and prayed with him. The man professed faith in 
Christ and died in peace. After this he was con- 
fined to his bed, but for several days persisted in 
reading his regular Bible lessons, which, from his 
expositions to the family, he seemed to enjoy very 
much. His waking hours were all spent in prayer 
and praise, making occasional remarks about 

In the Mississippi Conference. 343 

friends and exhorting all who visited his room to 
meet him in heaven. By this time the epidemic had 
become so universal that each family had to do its 
own nursing, except when one died, when enough 
had to be spared to assist at the burial. The sound 
of a horn at any house was the signal of death. A 
dear brother, in whom Jonathan was much inter- 
ested, was very sick not far from Brother Denham's. 
Only a few hours before he breathed his last, in the 
middle of the night, he heard the death signal, and, 
calling the brother's name, remarked : "There, he has 
got off to heaven before me; but I will soon follow 
him !" He not only died in peace, but with remark- 
able triumph over death. "Devout men carried him 
to his burial, and made great lamentation over him." 
They had buried their beloved Daniel D. Brewer 
the year before, and now to lose such a promising 
and useful young preacher as Jonathan C. Jones 
was a double affliction. He died August 15, 1835, 
in the twenty-second year of his age and the third 
of his ministry. A resolution was passed by the 
Conference a year or two after his death to put 
monuments at the graves of all our deceased itin- 
erant preachers; but before it could be carried out 
in his case nearly all the leading families had left 
the neighborhood, and the identity of his grave was 

Fourteen were admitted on trial, and among them 
several who afterwards attained eminence in the 
ministry, such as Elijah Steele, Benjamin Jones, 
Levi Pearce, Andrew T. M. Fly, and William H. 
Watkins; eight were continued on trial; four re- 
ceived into full connection; two ordained deacons 

344 A Complete History of Methodism 

and six elders ; Stephen Herrin, Jesse Lee, and John 
A. Cotton (who had been fully restored to his min- 
isterial functions) were readmitted; Robert Alexan- 
der, who had located at the Tennessee Conference 
in November, 1834, was readmitted into our Confer- 
ence. Joseph Travis, formerly a member of the 
South Carolina Conference, but late of the Alabama 
Conference, with Seymour B. Sawyer, was received 
by transfer from the Alabama Conference and sta- 
tioned in New Orleans, Upper Fauxbourg and La- 
Fayette Mission; William Craigg was received by 
transfer from the Tennessee Conference, and was ap- 
pointed to Cold Water Mission; Samuel W Speer 
was transferred, with two others, from the Tennes- 
see to the Alabama Conference, but his destination 
was changed and he was appointed to Tallahatchie 
Circuit, in this Conference; Thomas Clinton, Joseph 
P. Snead, and William Winans were placed on the 
supernumerary roll, and Orsamus L. Nash, William 
V. Douglass, William Stephenson, and Thomas Ow- 
ens were voted a superannuated relation; John C. 
Burruss, John Cotton, James Applewhite, Washing- 
ton Ford, James P Thomas, James P Stephenson, 
and William W Oakchiah were located at their own 
request, and by a similar request Abda C. Griffin, 
Uriah Whatley, Henry Stephenson, and Enoch 
Whatley were discontinued. From the local ranks 
James Reams, Stanley N. Veers, Jesse Ginn, and 
Pleasant B. Baily were elected to deacon's orders, 
and Thomas Lynch and John G. Lee to elder's. 

This Conference was permitted to draw on the 
Book Concern for eight hundred dollars and on the 
Chartered Fund for ninety dollars, which sums, be- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 345 

ing added to domestic funds, were sufficient to pay 
all claimants in full, leaving a handsome surplus. 
This surplus was donated to the Missouri Confer- 
ence. The Missouri Conference at this date included 
the State of Missouri and the Missouri and Arkan- 
sas Territories, and consequently was next-door 
neighbor, bordering on North Mississippi and West- 
ern Louisiana. The territory then embraced in the 
Missouri Conference has now upon it half a dozen 
thrifty, self-supporting Conferences. 

The long-talked-of Manual Labor School, which 
never had a corporal existence, was now looked upon 
as a fixed fact. B. M. Drake, John Lane, and J. 
G. Jones were appointed commissioners to locate it 
at Crystal Springs, provided they could obtain a 
suitable amount of land for the purpose; and in 
case they could secure the land, they were author- 
ized to contract for buildings worth twenty thou- 
sand dollars upon the pledge of the Conference to 
raise that sum. The commissioners made the re- 
connoisance at Crystal Springs, liked the land and 
water well enough ; but the money not being in sight, 
they made no purchase and contracted for no build- 
ings. And thus ended the Manual Labor School 
for that A T ear. 


Rev. John N. Maffitt, the great orator and revival- 
ist, considered Natchez his home at this time, and 
had commenced the publication of a great weekly 
paper called the Mississippi Christian Herald. The 
Conference resolved to patronize it "as long as it 
should be conducted in keeping with the principles, 
doctrines, and government of the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church." The Herald was a good, safe Church 

346 A Complete History of Methodism 

paper during its brief existence; but Mr. Maffitt 
was intended for an evangelist, not an editor, and 
he soon quit his paper and reengaged in his appro- 
priate work. 

Many of the leading Methodist ministers in the 
North were perpetually stirring up ill feeling and 
strife on the subject of negro slavery ; and while they 
carefully avoided the responsibility, toil, and self- 
sacrifice implied in preaching the gospel to "the be- 
nighted and sin-degraded slaves of the South," they 
were 'perpetually throwing almost insurmountable 
obstacles in the way of their brethren who were en- 
gaged in this truly apostolic work. The Southern 
planters knew that we were in close Church rela- 
tionship with our Northern brethren; that their 
bishops were ours also, that our delegates sat with 
them in the same General Conference, and that a ma- 
jority of that General Conference kept a section in 
the Discipline opposed to and denouncing slavery as 
a great evil. It was also known that during the last 
year or two the antislavery brethren of the North 
were trying to deluge the South with abolition pub- 
lications by sending them, without our knowledge 
or consent, to our addresses through the mails. 
While we were innocent of any complicity in these 
movements against an exclusively civil institution, 
the existence and perpetuity of which were guaran- 
teed by the Constitution of the United States, this 
perpetual intermeddling of our Northern brethren 
threw a shade of suspicion, more or less, on every 
Southern itinerant Methodist preacher, which great- 
ly interfered with our missions to the slaves, and in 
many instances deprived us entirely of access to 

In the Mississippi Conference. 347 

them. Such had been the difficulties of some of the 
missionaries to the colored people that the Confer- 
ence thought it best to appoint a committee, consist- 
ing of William Winans, B. M. Drake, and John 
Lane, to draft a preamble and resolutions denning 
our position and expressing our sentiments on the 
subject of abolitionism. The document was care- 
fully and elaborately written by Mr. Winans, defin- 
ing our relation as ministers of the gospel to the 
civil institutions of the country. This report was 
adopted, printed, and etensively circulated, and to 
a great extent relieved us of the odium brought upon 
us by the misguided intermeddling of our Northern 
coreligionists. From this time our colored missions 
became more popular, and hundreds of the poor, 
ignorant, degraded slaves were brought into happy 
Church fellowship. 

As usual, a box of clothing was received from the 
Ladies' Sewing Society of Natchez, which was placed 
in the hands of the presiding elders for distribution 
among their most needy preachers, and a unani- 
mous rising vote of thanks was returned to the kind 

It will be remembered that there were some diffi- 
culties in the case <5f Jonas Westerlund at our last 
Conference, and that he was left without an appoint- 
ment and a committee arranged to look into the mat- 
ter at Alexandria. At this Conference he was 
charged with dishonest insolvency and falsehood. 
The charges were sustained and he was expelled. 
He appealed to the General Conference, where Ben- 
jamin M. Drake defended the action of the Confer- 
ence and Stephen G. Roszel, of the Baltimore Con- 

348 A Complete History of Methodism 

ference, appeared in behalf of the appellant. The 
appeal was not sustained. He was afterwards fully 
restored to his ministerial functions, and died in 
Alexandria while acting as Bible Agent. 

Our Church was slowly gaining ground in New 
Orleans. The little wooden church on Gravier 
Street was now too small for our constantly increas- 
ing congregation, and the trustees had purchased a 
more eligible lot on Poydras Street and asked advice 
and cooperation in building a new church. The 
Conference advised them to sell or mortgage the 
Gravier Street Church and use the proceeds in the 
erection of the new one. The Conference also 
pledged to cooperate with the building committee 
by soliciting subscriptions and donations from the 
people of the several charge^ ajso a^ resolution 
passed respectfully requestine^tev. John N. Maffitt 
to give his services in the new enterprise. Mr. 
Maflfitt was at this time preaching with great popu- 
larity in New Orleans, and, seeing the absolute ne- 
cessity of a larger and more eligible house of wor- 
ship, entered heartily into the new movement The 
lot on Poydras Street was cleared off, a large tent 
was erected with temporary seats and pulpit, and 
every laudable means employed to attract a large 
audience to hear Mr. Maffitt's address, in connection 
with the laying of the corner stone, on the necessity 
and importance of building a suitable church for the 
constantly increasing congregation. Everything 
went off well. Mr. Maffitt delivered an appropriate, 
eloquent, and powerful address, which was published 
and circulated generally among the people. This 
movement gave the cause such notoriety and such a 

In the Mississippi Conference. 349 

forward impulse that it was not long before we had 
a large and commodious brick church. Hon. Ed- 
ward McGehee, of Wilkinson County, Miss., con- 
tributed largely to the erection of this church, as he 
had formerly done to the erection of the first church 
on Gravier Street. In addition to his donations to 
the church, he loaned the building committee at 
least ten thousand dollars to complete and furnish 
the building ; and in after years, when they were un- 
able to raise money to refund him, with .his charac- 
teristic liberality he made a donation of the amount 
due him to the Church. This church was dedicated 
in 1836. It caught a falling spark from a distant 
fire in January, 1851, and was burned. The present 
Carondelet Church takes its place, though not on 
the same lot. 

The New York Conference desired to have some 
change made in the General Rule on the subject of 
using ardent spirits, and sent the proposed change 
for our Conference concurrence. The Conference 
unanimously voted not to concur because of an un- 
willingness to have the General Rules tampered 
with, but also because the present Rule was all -suf- 

The delegates elected to the ensuing General Con- 
ference, to be held in Cincinnati in May, 1836, were 
William Winans, Benjamin M. Drake, and John 
Lane, with William M. Curtis and Benjamin A. 
Houghton as reserves. 

The General Conference discontinued the Book 
Depository in New Orleans, £he- patronage being too 
limited to justify its' continuance. The General 
Conference did another thing— whether by the ad- 

350 A Complete History of Methodism 

vice or connivance of our delegates is not known — 
which few of this Conference approved. Hitherto 
the Missouri Conference had included the Territo- 
ry of Arkansas; but it was now desirable to detach 
Arkansas and organize the Territory into a new 
Conference, and in order to give it a more respecta- 
ble size in the number of preachers, as well as in ter- 
ritory, the Louisiana (now called Alexandria) Dis- 
trict was detached from the Mississippi Conference 
and added to the Arkansas. This was an ill-advised 
measure, and so thought the General Conference in 
1840, returning it to the Mississippi Conference. 
The change had interfered with our favorite project 
of acquiring Texas as an addition to our Conference 
by placing territory between us and that desirable 
field. A missionary had been sent to Texas the pre- 
ceding year, and we were now watching the exciting 
revolution there with great interest in reference to 
further missionary operations. We believed Texas 
would soon become an independent Protestant Re- 
public, if not a member of our Federal Union; and 
being the nearest Annual Conference, without any 
intervening Indian nations, we naturally looked to 
the early occupancy of that field. Early in Decem- 
ber, 1837, Robert Alexander was sent across the ter- 
ritory of the Arkansas Conference as a missionary 
to Texas. 

After appointing a day of fasting and prayer, 
and voting the next meeting to be in Vicksburg, the 
Conference assembled in the church to hear the 
Bishop's charge and receive the appointments. The 
Bishop's closing address to the Conference was most 
inspiring. The venerable man was unusually ten- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 351 

der and emotional himself, and while we sang the 
usual closing hymn, commencing, 

And let our bodies part 

To diff'rent climes repair; 
Inseparably joined in heart 

The friends of Jesus are, 

tears of love and joy and holy hope coursed rapidly 
down his saintly face. Several of the young preach- 
ers were greatly excited, especially that most lovely 
and promising young man, Elijah Steele. He had 
been employed a part of the previous year by Pre- 
siding Elder Drake to assist Jesse A. Guice on Amite 
Circuit, and had already commenced the develop- 
ment of those extraordinary talents that made his 
short career in the ministry so brilliant. This was 
his first Conference. He had been brought up to 
farm labor, and had never been much from home. 
The thought of going among entire strangers was 
painful to his feelings. He hoped at least to be -con- 
tinued within Mr. Drake's district. The Bishop 
passed all the old districts, and yet his name was 
not called. His excitement became intense. He 
was trying to write down the appointments as the 
Bishop slowly announced them, but could scarcely 
get his pencil to obey his will. "Where on earth 
am I going? To the New Purchase, I suppose, as 
all the old districts are filled up," was the question 
he asked himself and the answer he gave. Present- 
ly the Bishop read out : "Choctaw District, John G. 
Jones, Presiding Elder; Sineasha Mission, Elijah 
Steele." He ceased to write. The whole world 
seemed to become a blank to him except Sineasha 
Mission. As soon as the Bishop ceased to read and 

352 A Complete History of Methodism 

had dismissed the assembly, he rushed to me with a 
countenance indicative of great emotion, and in- 
quired : "Brother Jones, where on earth is Sineasha 
Mission? I am perfectly willing to go there and do 
the best I can, if I only knew how to get there; but 
I don't know where Sineasha is." From that hour 
all his thoughts centered on Sineasha Mission. Yes, 
he would go to Sineasha Mission and do the very 
best he could. He would get up just as many ap- 
pointments among the new settlers as he could fill. 
He would trv to have a revival. In the meantime 
he would take his books along and, limited as his 
education was, master his prescribed course of study 
if among the possibilities of itinerant life. He was 
indeed a young man to be loved and admired. 

The original Natchitoches Circuit was now called 
Claiborne, after the name of a new parish which had 
been formed out of the northern part of the old 
Natchitoches Parish, and another circuit had been 
formed embracing the old town of Natchitoches, 
which took that name. The original Washita Cir- 
cuit now took the name of Monroe, and Rapides that 
of Alexandria. The name of the district was also 
changed from that of Louisiana to Alexandria, and 
William H. Turnley succeeded Preston Cooper as 
presiding elder. In those days necessity often re- 
quired unordained men, just admitted on trial, to 
be placed in charge of important circuits. At this 
Conference Levi Pearce and Benjamin Jones, just 
admitted on trial and lately licensed to preach, were 
sent, the former to Opelousas and the latter to Alex- 
andria Circuit; but they were young men to be 

In the Mississippi Conference. 353 

Barnabas Pipkin was continued on the New Or- 
leans District, Benjamin M. Drake on the Natchez, 
and John Lane on the Vicksburg. No special 
changes were made in the pastoral charges of these 
districts, except Woodville was detached from Wil- 
kinson Circuit and made a station, placed in the 
Natchez District, and William Winans appointed 
in charge; and the large circuit in the Vicksburg 
District heretofore known as Lake Providence was 
now called Carroll and Jephthah Hughes placed in 
charge, with the understanding that he should visit 
the settlements east of the Mississippi River about 
Lake Washington and as high up the river as he 
might have time to go. It was a severe trial to 
leave some of our promising fields unsupplied, espe- 
cially where we had no local preachers. 

Having made the matter a subject of earnest 
prayer to God, we accepted the appointment to Choc- 
taw District as providential; and, returning to 
Washington, immediately hired a four-horse wagon 
to transport our household effects one hundred and 
twenty miles. As it was late in the season and win- 
ter weather had already set in, and we expected to 
camp out at night with our wagon, we left our fam- 
ily to go to Vicksburg by water, intending to hire a 
family convevance to take them sixtv miles into the 
interior. The weather was very severe on us as we 
progressed slowly over bad roads with our wagon. 
After getting north of Clinton, our wheels were sev- 
eral times so imbedded in mud that we had to ex- 
temporize levers and literally prize out. The weath- 
er cleared up about the end of our journey, and on a 
beautiful afternoon we arrived at the house of Eb- 
Vol. II.— 23 

354 A Complete History of Methodism 

enezer F. Divine, near where Sharon now stands, 
where we met a most cordial welcome, deposited our 
load, and sent the wagoner back. After arranging 
for the board of our family until we could have a 
house built, we hastened back to bring them on; but 
the weather was so rainy and the roads so cut up 
with the vast amount of wagoning to Vicksburg in 
those ante-railroad times that we could not take 
them out on wheels, and had to procure a sufficient 
number of horses to take us and our personal effects 
to our new home. It was a very trying journey, 
especially for the mother and two little boys; but 
she was wedded to the itinerancy, and received it as 
a part of her elected calling. The journey over, we 
found a home of peace and plenty with our former 
friend and neighbor, Kinsman Divine; and having 
several families of our former neighbors from Jef- 
ferson County — including that great and good man, 
Rev. Dr. B. W. M. Minter — immediately around us, 
our new country soon had a homelike appearance. 
Dr. Minter had donated to the Church sixty-two 
acres of land where the town of Sharon was soon 
afterwards built, twenty-five of which were for a 
presiding elder's - parsonage. On this lot the dis- 
trict soon put up some plain but comfortable houses, 
where we spent four of the happiest and most useful 
years of our itinerant life. Our district was not large 
in the number of pastoral charges, but those ac- 
quainted with the geography of the country will see 
that it was vast in territory. It extended from the 
Bay of Biloxi on the south to Coffeeville on the 
north, and from Satartia on the west to the line of 
the Alabama Conference on the east; and being en- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 355 

tirely in the Choctaw Purchase, except White Sand 
Circuit, we had to be familiar with the imperfect 
roads, bridgeless and ferryless streams, and the or- 
dinary inconveniences of a newly settled country. 
We were happy and successful in our work, and of 
course were well satisfied. Except our old precep- 
tor, Ira Byrd, our district this year was filled up 
with young men ; but most of them were the choice 
young ministers of the Conference, such as A. T. M. 
Fly, David M. Wiggins, William H. Watkins, and 
Elijah Steele. 

It is but the repetition of a trite remark to say 
that our itinerancy is the best training school in the 
world to develop the talents of those who are truly 
called according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ 
to preach the gospel. Young men who present them 
selves as candidates for the ministry are required 
to give the evidences of true piety and of a divine 
call to the office and work of the Christian minis- 
try. They are at once put to the united study and 
practice of all that is implied in preaching the gos- 
pel. Let them learn the true import of a doctrine 
or duty of Christianity and go and preach it a dozen 
times to a dozen different congregations, and they 
will attain something like maturity in its delivery; 
and let them thus go on, step by step, over the whole 
field of theology, and in a few years they become 
able ministers of the New Testament. This was 
strikingly illustrated in the history of the four 
young men just mentioned. 

Andrew T. M. Fly was born in 1812 in Sumner 
County, Tenn., and was born of the Spirit when 
twelve years old. He married when quite young, 

356 A Complete History of Methodism 

and after much hesitancy on his part, at the age of 
twenty-one he was licensed to preach. During his 
early struggles on the subject of preaching he was 
frequently impressed with the thought that God had 
a work for him to do down South in the State of 
Mississippi, and the impression became so strong 
that he determined to move to the Chickasaw Pur- 
chase. As soon as he crossed the Tennessee line into 
Mississippi, he retired alone, and upon bended knee 
sought a full consecration to the work which he 
believed God designed him to do in this State. He 
settled in a short time somewhere in the indefinitely 
bounded Tallahatchie Mission, from which he was 
recommended for admission into the Conference, 
and was admitted at the session at Woodville and 
appointed in charge of Rankin Circuit. He was not 
at Conference ; but as soon as he was notified of his 
field of labor he took his wife and three small chil- 
dren, with their personal effects, in a Jersey wagon 
and set off in the depth of winter across the country 
about one hundred and fifty miles to his circuit, 
Mr. Fly traveling much of the way on foot to re- 
lieve his overburdened horse. Arriving in his cir- 
cuit, he obtained board for his wife and children 
and immediately entered upon his large work. Ran- 
kin Circuit in those days embraced all of Rankin 
County, with parts of Simpson, Smith, and Scott 
Counties — an ample field for a young itinerant. Mr. 
Fly was adequate to the task, and did faithful and 
effective work. He possessed a high order of in- 
tellect, and had received a good elementary educa- 
tion. Having been engaged to some extent in school- 
teaching, his mind was trained to close study and 

In the Mississippi Conference. 357 

Critical observation* He spoke deliberately, clearly, 
and forcibly, and his sermons were pleasant to the 
ear and warming to the heart. 

David M. Wiggins, now in his second year, was 
the colleague of Mr. Fly on Rankin Circuit. He was 
born September 1, 1812, in a very obscure part of 
Catahoula Parish, La., and grew up almost entirely 
destitute of both literary and religious training. 
He was in his eighteenth year when he first heard 
a sermon. Some months after that he was induced 
to attend a class meeting, and during the exercises 
he was effectually reminded of his condition as a 
sinner and the necessity of personal religion. His 
mind after that was no longer at rest. He felt that 
he was in a state of alienation from God. He soon 
after sought and obtained admission into the Church 
as a seeker of religion, but he groped in the darkness 
of unbelief for eighteen months before he obtained 
an assurance of the forgiveness of his sins. After 
he was brought into a state of favor with God, he 
began to take part in the class and prayer meetings 
in the way of prayer and exhortations. He felt the 
daily movings of the Spirit toward the gospel min- 
istry, but such was his total want of all literary 
qualifications that ne had a severe struggle before 
he could consent to admit his call to a work of such 
vast importance. Having no rest in spirit, he con- 
sented to try, and was licensed to exhort, and after 
exercising in this capacity six months was licensed 
to preach, and soon after was admitted on trial into 
the Conference. For the year 1835 he was appoint- 
ed on 'Harrisonburg Circuit. Preston Cooper, his 
presiding elder, seeing his youth and unusually de- 

358 A Complete History of Methodism 

fective education, united his circuit with Little 
River, so as to place William H. Turnley in charge 
of the whole and let David M. Wiggins act as junior 
preacher. The union of the two circuits made a 
ride of five hundred miles necessary every four weeks 
to accomplish a round. This gave young Wiggins 
ample employment, and he was very industrious in 
attending to his private devotions, slowly reading 
and studying his Bible and some of our elementary - 
theological books, singing, praying, and — well, not 
preaching in the ordinary acceptation of the term, 
but telling the people that "religion is a mighty good 
thing to live and die with," and urging them by mo- 
tives drawn from heaven and hell to seek it. Such 
was the childlike simplicity of his earnest piety that 
he had the respect and confidence of the people gen- 
erally, notwithstanding his very deficient education. 
During the first part of the year he seemed never to 
have comprehended the idea that there is a necessary 
connection between a text and a sermon. He would 
go through the form of taking a text and immediate- 
ly wander off into a disjointed exhortation^ saying 
just what his warm heart prompted him to say, 
without any reference to systematic arrangement. 
David M. Wiggins was a most incessant student. 
He filfed some of our most important circuits, was 
a presiding elder eighteen years, a member of the 
General Conference of 1858, and died a chaplain in 
the Confederate States Army in 1862. 

William H. Watkins, the junior preacher this 
year on Madison Circuit, was a native of Jefferson 
County, Miss. He was converted in his youth 
in the vicinity of old, historic Cambridge Church, 

1% the Mississippi Conference. 359 

near which his parents lived, and where he received 
the training of those "old disciples" who have been 
the honored instruments of bringing so many young 
men 4nto the ministry. Mr. Watkins had a fair 
elementary education, with a mind capable of great 
improvement, which he diligently cultivated. He 
is the first native Mississippian of any Church who 
received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity, 
which title he has worn with credit many years. 
He has now (1875) been on the effective list in our 
Conference, without a single break, forty-one years. 
Elijah Steele was born of pious parents in hum- 
ble circumstances in Williamson County, Tenn., 
April 3, 1814. His father became permanently de- 
mented, and in this great affliction was more than 
useless in the support of his family. About 1826 
his mother, with her four children, moved to Marion 
County, Miss., where she settled on a small farm 
which she and her little sons cultivated with their 
own hands. She was not able to do much for her 
children in the way of a literary education, but she 
succeeded well in bringing them up "in the nur- 
ture and admonition of the Lord." In the tender 
season of youth Elijah was awakened, converted, 
and called to the work of the ministry He certainly 
possessed, as the gift of nature's God, extraordinary 
intellectual powers, with a mind capable of very 
rapid >||||»rqvement. It is true he, was remarkably 
studious ; but he acquired knowledge with a celerity 
quite uncommon, and had the gift of expressing 
what he learned in appropriate language and in an 
eloquent and forcible style. He was tall and spare, 
his mouth was large, and his nose handsomely mold- 

360 A Complete History of Methodism 


ed, but quite above the common size, giving a strik- 
ing prominence to his features; his countenance 
was decidedly intellectual, and to the end of his life 
wore a youthful appearance. He was remarkably 
industrious in every department of his holy calling. 
His plans were always laid beforehand, and it re- 
quired all his time and physical and mental strength 
to keep up with them. In his spirit and manners 
he was as unsophisticated as innocent childhood, 
but in his mental and physical labors he had the en- 
ergy of a young giant. As heretofore stated, he was 
appointed to Sineasha Mission. Sine, in Choctaw, 
means "snake," and asha "yonder" — snake yonder— 
and is the Indian name of a large creek emptying 
into Big Black Kiver from the southwestern part of 
Attala County. Several Methodist families settled 
on its waters at an early day, and it gave name to a 
considerable scope of country ; but it conveys a very 
imperfect idea of the boundaries of the mission, 
which embraced all of Leake and Attala Counties, 
with skirts of other adjoining new counties. In 
many places the people had not been there long 
enough to raise a provision crop, and it was often 
difficult to get corn for horses there in 1836. Where 
Kosciusko now stands there was a straggling village 
which had borne the name of Paris until that vear, 
when it was changed to its present name. Mr. 
Steele was a faithful pioneer, and went everywhere 
preaching the word. 

The people had flocked into the Chickasaw Pur- 
chase so rapidly that it was thought best to form 
them into a district, which was called Chickasaw 
Mission District, with Robert Alexander in charge. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 361 

He had under his care three missionary circuits of 
very indefinite boundaries, called Tallahatchie, 
Chickasaw, and Cold Water. Samuel W. Spear 
was 6n the first, Joseph P. Snead on the second, and 
William Craig on the third. Charles J. Carney was 
continued in the superintendency of the Choctaw 
Mission West, with only Moses Perry as his assist- 
ant; but there were now numerous local preachers 
among the natives, so that the work was fairly sup- 

By attaching the Alexandria District to the Ar- 
kansas Conference, the Mississippi Conference lost 
six hundred and ninety-five white' and one hundred 
and eighty-nine colored members, and by attaching 
the Choctaw Mission West to the same Conference 
the Mississippi Conference lost one thousand and 
nineteen Indian members, which left for the pres- 
ent an aggregate membership of five thousand five 
hundred and eighty-nine white, one thousand eight 
hundred and forty-one colored, and eighty-three In- 
dian members in the East. There was such a per- 
petual moving about of the members to the new 
countries that it was exceedingly difficult to keep 
the statistics correctly. The revolution in Texas 
having been sraecessiul, and the province erected into 
an independent republic, modeled after the govern- 
ment of the United States, a large emigration from 
Mississippi set off in that direction late in the year, 
by which many members, both white and colored, 
ceased to be reported until, in after years, they were 
reorganized in Texas. 



The Mississippi Conference assembled at Vicksburg 
December 7, 1836. Bishop Thomas A. Morris was 
present, and opened the Conference with the usual 
religious exercises. This was Bishop Morris's first 
visit to the Conference. He was admitted on trial 
into the Ohio Conference which met at Louisville, 
Ky., September 3, 1816. After traveling five years 
in the Ohio Conference, he fell into the Kentucky 
Conference (soon after its organization), where he 
traveled seven additional years, and was then trans- 
ferred back to the Ohio Conference, where he contin- 
ued in the itinerant work six years, and was then 
elected editor of the Western Christian, Advocate, 
published at Cincinnati. During the eighteen years 
of his itinerancy he labored on large circuits, in 
town and city stations, and on districts. He was 
a man of medium height, compactly built, quite mus- 
cular, and, after the middle of life, decidedly corpu- 
lent. In his social intercourse he was rather taci- 
turn and cautious, and usually spoke with delibera- 
tion. His education was not showy, but solid and 
elegant. He was a polished and forcible writer, and 
his style of preaching was purely Wesleyan. His 
sermons were short, well arranged, to the point, and 
often attended with much of the holy unction with- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 363 

out any apparent effort on his part. Preaching was 
with him an easy task. His sermons kept up a 
most enjoyable interest in his congregations. As a 
presiding officer he was modest, quiet, firm, and 
ready. His judgment in planning the work and sta- 
tioning the preachers was of the highest order. Be- 
fore the General Conference of 1836 the numerical 
strength of the Church had become so great in the 
West that there was a growing demand for the 
election of a Western man to the episcopacy. "If 
this should be done," said Bishop Soule, "I know no 
man west of the mountains better qualified for the 
episcopacy than Thomas A. Morris. His education- 
al and religious qualifications are without fault, 
and he is practically acquainted with all the details 
of itinerant life." In this matter, as well as all 
others, Bishop Soule showed the characteristic su- 
periority of his judgment. Bishop Morris was elect- 
ed and consecrated to the episcopal office at the Gen- 
eral Conference of 1836, and was a great favorite 
in the Mississippi Conference up to the division of 
the Church, in 1844, after which his face was no 
more seen at this Conference. 

Robert D. Smith was again elected Secretary, and 
the Conference immediately proceeded to the ap- 
pointment of the usual committees, after which, un- 
der the first question, thirteen were admitted on 
trial, and among them Jesse Ginn, heretofore men- 
tioned in connection with the remarkable conver- 
sion of himself and wife. He had itinerated several 
years, had been regularly admitted on trial, and 
graduated to full membership in the Conference be- 
fore his final location. He has always and every- 

364 A Complete Bistory of Methodism 

where been a very reliable man, both as a member 
and minister of the Church, and at a late date was 
still alive in Northern Louisiana, at a remarkably 
advanced age. 

Eleven were continued on trial ; four were received 
into full connection and ordained deacons; four 
were ordained elders; David O. Shattuck, Thomas 
P. Davidson, John W. Ellis, and John N. Maffitt, 
late of the Tennessee Conference, were readmitted, 
as were also Washington F6rd and James Apple- 
white, late of our Conference ; Bradford Frazee, for- 
merly of the Ohio but late of the Kentucky Confer- 
ence, was received by transfer ; Needham B. Raif ord, 
William M. Curtiss, Orsamus L. Nash, and Thomas 
Nixon were located at their own request, and John 
G. Parker was located by a vote of the Conference ; 
Levi Pearce, who had been transferred back to us 
from the Arkansas Conference, was discontinued at 
his own request; Brice M. Hughes was also discon- 
tinued ; Joseph P. Snead was granted a supernumer- 
ary relation, and William V. Douglass that of a su- 
perannuate; sixteen local preachers were elected to 
deacon's orders and two to elder's. About this time 
there was quite an accession both to the itinerant 
and local ranks, which was a substantial evidence 
of continued prosperity. 

No member of the Conference had died the pre- 
ceding year. Zachariah Wilson, a probationer in 
his first year, in charge of Concordia Circuit, had 
died in the midst of his zealous labors and useful- 
ness, "with bright prospects for a better world," as 
stated by Mr. Drake, his presiding elder. Mr. Wil- 
son was living in Port Gibson during our pastorate 

In the 'Mississippi Conference. 365 

there in 1830. He had no family but a wife, was 
poor in worldly substance, and followed wagoning 
between Port Gibson and Grand Gulf; but his char- 
acter, both as a citizen and a member of the Church, 
was utterly without reproach. He was gifted in 
prayer and exhortation, and was lively and useful 
in all the social meetings of the Church. He was 
highly appreciated by the ministers and members 
generally on account of his deep and uniform piety 
and his untiring zeal in striving to promote the Re- 
deemer's kingdom. After due examination as to 
his preliminary qualifications, he was licensed to 
preach; and feeling a strong desire to give the re- 
mainder of his life wholly to the work of the minis- 
try, he was recommended from the Quarterly Confer- 
ence of Port Gibson and was admitted into the itin- 
erancy. His age, talents, and, above all, his well- 
known piety and active zeal justified his being placed 
in charge of a circuit his first year. Brice M. 
Hughes, his colleague, failed to come to his assist- 
ance, which left him all the work to do on a large 
circuit. The abundance of his labors in a swamp 
atmosphere overtaxed his physical powers and he 
fell at his post under the prevailing fever of the 
country. He died and was buried at Waterproof. 
He left the savor of a good name. 

At this Conference, on motion of William Winans, 
the initial steps were taken to identify the lost 
graves of Tobias Gibson and Richmond Nolley— 
the former in Warren County, Miss., and the latter 
in Catahoula Parish, La.— and to mark them with 
suitable monuments. After long delay, both graves 
were identified and a monument erected at Mr. 

366 A Complete History of Methodism 

Gibson's. There is something suggestive in a monu- 
ment with a suitable inscription at the grave of a 
faithful minister. It produces holy thoughts and 
heavenly aspirations. 

Those who were heretofore so much in favor of a 
manual labor school now began to realize that the 
project was a failure; but, being in the majority, 
they now rallied under the idea "of establishing one 
or more academies for the instruction of males, to 
be under the direction and patronage of the Confer- 
ence." A committee of five, consisting of John Lane, 
B. M. Drake, B. A. Houghton, Robert Alexander, 
and David O. Shattuck, was appointed to take the 
subject under advisement and report to the Confer- 
ence. The committee reported favorably, at least as 
to one academy, to be established in Warren County, 
and John Lane was appointed, with plenary author- 
ity, to superintend its establishment. It was never 
established. It was not such an institution as a 
large and influential minority wished to see estab- 
lished. While the present majority, headed by Wil- 
liam Winans, were in favor of high classical acade- 
mies as feeders of a future college, an influential 
minority were decidedly in favor of establishing a 
college proper at once. The country was in a very 
prosperous financial condition, and the time was 
thought to be auspicious for building a college. Aft- 
er a spirited discussion on the college question, a 
motion to appoint an agent to proceed at once to the 
collection of funds to found a college was lost, and 
a resolution passed to continue patronage to La- 
grange and to invite the agents appointed by the 
Tennessee Conference, especially Rev. Phineas T. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 367 

Sckggs, into the territory of the Mississippi Confer- 
encqto solicit subscriptions and donations for that 
collei^. They did not realize much money from 
Misslsippi for Lagrange. The patrons of our 
Chur\ had become quite dissatisfied with sending 
their nYmey to build institutions of learning abroad 
which wyre quite out of the reach of most of the peo- 
ple. Though the minority in favor of a home college 
were defeated for the present, they were determined 
to persevere until success crowned their efforts. So 
many of the former patrons of Elizabeth Female 
Academy, at Washington, Miss., had moved away to 
the new countries that it began to show evident signs 
of decay. A committee was appointed to inquire 
into the feasibility of raising two thousand dollars 
as an endowment fund for the academy to assist in 
paying current expenses. The committee reported, 
but the journal does not show what the report was. 
The very modest endowment asked for was never 

The Mississippi Conference was allowed to draw 
on the Book Concern for four hundred dollars and 
on the Chartered Fund for seventy dollars, and re- 
ceived three hundred dollars' interest on the bequest 
of bank stock by William Foster. These sums, add- 
ed to other resources, enabled the stewards to pay 
the claimants two-thirds of their claim. 

As usual, an ample box of substantial clothing 
was received from the Ladies' Sewing Society at 
Natchez, for which obligations were gratefully ac- 
knowledged through Bradford Frazee. The presid- 
ing elders composed the committee of distribution. 

John N. Maffittand William Winans were request- 

368 A Complete History of Methodism 

ed to act as agents for the collection of f uncji to 
complete the church on Poydras Street in Nev Or- 
leans. Some fault was found with Mr. Maffitt's 
paper in Natchez, but it was still commended to pat- 
ronage. The General Conference at its late session 
determined to establish at Nashville a Church pa- 
per, to be called the Southwestern Ghristim Advo- 
cate, for the special benefit of the four Conferencel 
in the extreme Southwest. It was very cordially 
accepted as our Conference organ. It succeeded, or 
was rather a continuation and extension of, the 
Western Methodist. Rev. Thomas Stringfield was 
elected editor by the General Conference. 

The Conference still kept watch over the rich 
harvest soon to be reaped by missionary operations 
in Texas. The work had been going on in a desul- 
tory way for several years, and two years ago Henry 
Stephenson was sent as a regular missionary to the 
province. The exciting and bloody revolution at 
that time had seriously disjointed all plans. The 
decisive battle of San Jacinto had been fought, the 
revolutionists were completely successful, and Texas 
was being rapidly erected into an independent re- 
public into which Protestantism would be freely- 
admitted. Missionary operations in that inviting 
field were resumed. The bishop presiding at the 
New York Conference had charge of the foreign mis- 
sionary work, and the Mississippi Conference form- 
ally recommended him "to establish a mission, or 
missions, in Texas as soon as the state of things in 
that country would admit of it." Bishop Morris was 
furnished with a certified copy of this recommenda- 
tion and requested to forward it to the presiding 

In the Mississippi Conference. 369 

bishop of the New York Conference. This recom- 
taendation, in connection with numerous appeals 
from local preachers and lay members already set- 
tled in* Texas, hastened the appointment of three 
missionaries to the republic in the summer of 1837. 
They were Martin Ruter, D.D., Robert Alexander, 
and Littleton Fowler. Doctor Ruter had entered 
the New York Conference in 1801, when but sixteen 
years old. He had filled a large number of very 
important pastoral charges and other responsible 
positions in the Church during the thirty-six years 
which intervened between the time of his admission 
on trial and that of his appointment as Superintend- 
ent of the Texas Mission. 

Mr. Alexander was at this time a member of the 
Mississippi Conference, and was stationed for the 
second year in the city of Natchez. 

Mr. Fowler had belonged to the Kentucky Confer- 
ence ; but was now in the Tennessee Conference, act- 
ing as agent for Lagrange College. 

These brethren had all signified their willingness 
to go as missionaries to Texas, and as soon as they 
were notified of their appointment by Bishop Hed- 
ding, presiding bishop at the New York Conference, 
began their preparation for their new field. 

Mr. Alexander, being nearest to the field, was the 
first to. enter. He crossed the Sabine in August of 
this year (1837), and had held two camp meetings 
when Mr. Fowler arrived, about six weeks later. 
On the 21st of November Dr. Ruter crossed the Sa- 
bine at Gaines Ferry, where he met "Mr. Alexander on 
his way to the Mississippi Conference. Not only 
the Methodists in Texas but the citizens generally 
Vol. XL— 34 

370 A Complete History of Methodism 

had great cause of gratulation at the appoint 
of three such ministers to their young republic. 
They were men of the highest order of talents, and 
were stimulated to untiring activity by the deepest 

Our itinerant system is the best for a rapid and 
successful spread of the gospel. While other denom- 
inations were anxiously looking around for men and 
means to supply Texas, and were waiting for a call 
to invite them here and there, the Methodists had a 
corps of minutemen ready to mount their horses and 
enter the field, regardless of a special call from any 
community or the promise of a competent salary. 
Hence they had entered and taken possession of the 
field, already white unto the harvest, while others 
were getting ready to begin the work. 

From this date Texas will furnish very interest- 
ing Conference history. 

A resolution in the Journal of this Conference 
session requests the Bishop to appoint Thomas Ow- 
ens as Agent for the Preachers' Fund Society of 
the Mississippi Conference. This affords an oppor- 
tunity long desired to give a short history of that 
once useful but now defunct Society. From the 
organization of the Conference the members often 
felt the need of an extra fund, _outside of the usual 
funds, to relieve extra-necessitous cases. About 
1824 Thomas Owens proposed that we raise a fund 
by voluntary contributions, to be invested with the 
Chartered Fund of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
located in Philadelphia, and by the trustees of that 
Fund to be loaned on interest on good security, and 
the interest, when collected, to be added to our an- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 371 

nual claim on the Chartered Fund and drawn with 
it, to be applied by the Conference to extreme, ne- 
cessitous cases. A correspondence was opened with 
the trustees of the Chartered Fund as to the practi- 
cability of the project, whereupon they informed us 
that it could not be done on account of some alleged 
difficulties. Mr. Owens then proposed that we form 
a Preachers' Fund Society, with the requisite offi- 
cers, constitution, and by-laws, like our Missionary 
Society; but to transact all its business outside of 
and independent of the Conference. The object was 
to raise and perpetuate a fund for the relief of ne- 
cessitous cases among the itinerant preachers from 
the interest of the Fund. A constitution was drawn 
up, specifying the object of the Society and enacting 
fundamental laws for its government. The stand- 
ing officers were to be a president, vice president, 
secretary, treasurer, and five directors, elected an- 
nually by the Society. Each member of the Society 
was required to pay five dollars into the treasury 
annually in order to perpetuate his membership, 
with the privilege of collecting it, in whole or in 
part, from the people of his charge. When any 
member had completed the payment of one hundred 
dollars to the Fund, he was then recorded a life mem- 
ber, entitled to all the privileges of membership 
without any further contribution. Most of the 
preachers became members of the Society, and in a 
few years we were able to donate annually to neces- 
sitous cases (examined and reported as such to the 
Society by the Board of Directors) several hundred 
dollars. It was made the duty of the Board of Di- 
rectors to audit all accounts, loan out the capital 

372 A Complete History of Methodism ■ 

annually on good security, collect the interest when 
due and place it in the hands of the Treasurer to be 
drawn out on their order, and in all matters to act 
as the Executive Committee of the Society and re- 
port their doings to the same. 

The meetings were held at such hours as the Con- 
ference was not in session, and everything went on 
smoothly and prosperously for many years. The 
Fund was required to be loaned to private individ- 
uals in small sums until it should increase to per- 
haps five thousand dollars, when it was to be in- 
vested in stock in some safe bank or other monetary 
institution. The business of our Society was trans- 
acted with the strictest integrity, and the Fund was 
sacred to religious purposes and no one seemed to 
think of using it in any other way. 

As we from time to time set off Conferences or 
parts of Conferences, we gave our departing brethren 
their pro rata share of the Fund. John A. Cotton 
was with us at this time to receive the pro rata share 
of the Louisiana District, lately detached from our 
Conference and added to that of Arkansas. Our 
Society prospered until about 1838, at which time 
we had accumulated ten or eleven thousand dollars. 
The Mississippi banks were already showing such 
signs of a speedy collapse that we were afraid to 
trust our Fund in them, and still kept it loaned out, 
mostly to the preachers. 

About 1838-39 the country was being flooded with 
the dubious paper of real estate banks and a frac- 
tional currency vulgarly called "shinplasters," and 
most of the dues to the Preachers' Fund Societv were 
paid in that currency. We knew that it was not to 

In the Mississippi Conference. 373 

be relied upon long at a time; and while we were 
deliberating what to do for the best in order to 
save our Fund, several of our prominent ministers 
(some of them esteemed the most wealthy in the Con- 
ference) came forward and said they owed debts 
which they could pay with the currency on hand, 
and proposed to borrow the whole in large sums. 
We let them have it on what was considered good 
■ecurity ; and, so far as we know, they used the cur- 
rency as they intended — in the liquidation of their 
debts. The financial crash of 1840 swept over the 
country, the banks of all descriptions broke, and the 
"shinplasters" became worthless. Several of our 
brethren who had borrowed largely of our Fund fell 
behind in their finances and craved the privilege of 
simply renewing their notes at long intervals, in 
some instances, without paying even the annual in- 
terest. We kept the Fund in reasonably fair opera- 
tion, however, until after the division of the Church, 
in 1844. 

Benjamin A. Houghton, who had long been the 
Secretary of the Society, and had charge of our con- 
stitution and by-laws, the roll of members, and all 
our journals, was the only preacher in our Confer- 
ence who adhered to the Northern Church. He 
ceased to attend our annual sessions, and never 
turned over to us our Society records. He died in 
a few years, and none of our documents were ever 
recovered. Our Treasurer, however, held the notes 
due the .Society, and as far as the interest could be 
collected it was appropriated according to the orig- 
inal intention of the Association. In the mean- 
time some who had borrowed our money located or 

374 A Complete History of Methodism 

went to other Conferences, and either could not re- 
fund the money or lost sight of their obligation to 
pay us, while others died and left their estates so 
embarrassed that we never could collect what was 
due our Fund; and some few, who are yet living, 
plead their inability to make payment. After 1850 
the members of the Society became very careless 
about attending the annual meetings, especially 
some who were largely indebted to it but had not 
sufficiently recovered from the late financial disas- 
ters to make payment, and for several years the op- 
erations of the Society were suspended. 

About 1858 it was ascertained that we still had, 
after all our losses, a fund of six or seven thousand 
dollars in notes that we considered would be ulti- 
mately good. The writer reproduced from memory 
our lost constitution and by-laws, called a meeting 
of what few of the original stockholders were still 
available, and reorganized the Society, adopted 
the reproduced constitution and by-laws, and in- 
duced the Conference to take the organization under 
its special care. We now had a fair prospect of 
starting our little, unpretending association on its 
former career of usefulness ; but presently the disas- 
trous War between the States came on, and de- 
ranged and ruined the finances of our country. The 
business of the Society was again completely sus- 
pended, and those who were indebted to it were 
financially ruined. To make our condition still more 
hopeless, the Treasurer, in an effort to conceal the 
notes due the Society from the marauding Federal 
soldiers, put them where they became so mildewed 
as to be illegible and almost decomposed. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 375 

After the war was over, there was a full discussion 
of the subject at Conference, and the Society de- 
cided to dissolve. 

If any who are indebted to the Society should ever 
be able to pay this just and honorable debt, the Con- 
ference will gladly receive it and make any neces- 
sary arrangement to give it the direction of the 
original donors. The writer was long a life member 
of the Society, and, knowing how useful it was, 
would be glad to see it revived again. 

During the prosperous days of our Preachers' 
Fund Society, when there came to Conference a 
faithful fellow-laborer who had lost his horse, or 
from other causes was in need of from fifty to three 
or four hundred dollars, we knew where to get it for 
him, not as a loan to embarrass him again at a fu- 
ture time, but as a donation to send him on his new 
circuit unembarrassed. 

After collecting the interest a few times on the 
thirty shares of stock in the Planters' Bank of the 
State of Mississippi, bequeathed to us by our greatly 
esteemed brother, William Foster, of Pine Ridge, 
the bank utterlv failed, and we lost it all. 

From the history of the Preachers' Fund Society, 
which had an existence of forty years, with two in- 
tervals of suspension, we have learned a few things, 
and among them that Methodist preachers as a 
class are not always successful financiers. Their 
financial plans are sometimes very defective and 
cause their ultimate failure. 

In view of the constantly widening territory, es- 
pecially since Texas became an open field, we set 
apart two days — one in January and the other in 

376 A Complete History of Methodism 

September — as days of fasting and prayer for the 
prosperity of the Church, and that the Lord of the 
harvest would send forth more laborers. 

After fixing upon Natchez as the place of our next 
annual session, the appointments were read and 
Conference adjourned. 

Such was the scarcity of laborers in our vast field 
that an unusual number of pastoral charges were 
left to be supplied by local brethren. Samuel W 
Spear was sent to New Orleans and LaFayette Mis- 
sion, with one to be supplied. Lafourche, Sandy 
Creek, and Springfield, in the New Orleans District, 
were left to be supplied. Elias R. Porter was sta- 
tioned in Baton Rouge, and Thomas Clinton was 
appointed to the Wilkinson Colored Mission. A. D. 
Wooldridge was continued as professor of lan- 
guages in the Louisiana College at Jackson, and 
William Winans and John N. Maffitt were appoint- 
ed agents to collect funds to complete the Poydras 
Street Church, in New Orleans. Benjamin M. Drake 
was continued on the Natchez District; and while 
there was a general change of preachers, there was 
but little change in the construction of the pastoral 
charges. Bradford Frazee, our late transfer from 
the Kentucky Conference, was appointed President 
of Elizabeth Female Academy ; Charles K. Marshall 
was stationed at Woodville, and Elijah Steele at 
Port Gibson and Hebron. Elias R. Porter, a man 
of commanding personal appearance and pulpit 
abilities, had preceded him. Mr. Porter found the 
church edifice in Port Gibson unfinished and with- 
out a belfry. The first church bell ever brought to 
Port Gibson was a small but well-toned bell, pre- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 377 

sented to our Church in 1830 by Dr. Arva Wilson. 
In the construction of the church no arrangement 
had been made for the suspension of a bell. To rem- 
edy this, the brethren went to the woods and hewed 
a couple of long shafts, which they framed together 
and planted .firmly in the ground in the rear of the 
church, and upon which they suspended the bell. 
This unique structure henceforth took the name of 
"the gallows," upon which hung the Methodist church 
bell. Mr. Porter was not pleased with the unfin- 
ished condition of his church, and was particularly 
troubled with the appearance of the venerable "gal- 
lows," which had stood the weather, unsheltered, for 
seven years. He went to work diligently in the col- 
lection of funds to improve the material condition 
of his Church ; and being personally popular, in ad- 
dition to his eloquence in the pulpit, he soon raised 
the required sum to finish the church tastefullly in- 
side and to surmount it with a beautiful steeple. 

Soon after Conference, having some business down 
south of Port Gibson, we called to spend the evening 
with Mr. Steele in his room where he boarded, and 
we found him oppressed with what he considered 
his want of qualifications for such an important 
post as the bishop tad assigned him. Said he: 
'Brother Jones, you know how limited my educa- 
tion is and how poorly I am qualified to succeed such 
a talented man as Elias R. Porter, and to sustain the 
honor of the gospel and of our Church in one of the 
most intelligent and wealthy communities in the 
country, ^here they have often enjoyed the privilege 
of hearing the most talented ministers of all denom- 
inations." We replied .\ "You are not here by your 

378 A Complete History of Methodism 

own choice, but in obedience to authority which you 
have promised to obey. Do not say one word to a 
human being about your limited education ; let him 
make the discovery himself, if he can. Pursue 
your course of study diligently, and prepare your 
sermons with as much thoughtful care as you can; 
and then, with your heart all aglow with the love of 
God and precious souls, preach to them with the 
Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, and the proba- 
bility is that the people will know but little about 
your defective education." He became one of the 
most popular preachers ever stationed in Port Gib- 
son. His unfeigned and glowing piety, exhibited 
everywhere, secured for him the respect and con- 
fidence of the people, while his eloquence in the pul- 
pit attracted them to his congregations. His con- 
gregation at Hebron decided to build a better church 
in a more central and accessible locality, and they 
named it Steele Chapel, in honor of their talented 
young pastor. It still perpetuates his name as one 
of the principal Churches on Rocky Spring Circuit. 

Robert D. Smith succeeded John Lane on the 
Vicksburg District. Joseph Travis was stationed 
in Vicksburg. In this district appears the name of 
Green M. Rogers, on the Raymond Circuit. We re- 
ceived by transfer from the Tennessee Conference 
four valuable preachers: Green M. Rogers, Robert 
S. Collins, William Pearson, and John D. Neal, the 
three latter receiving appointments in the new dis- 
trict of Holly Springs. 

The late General Conference readjusted the line 
between this and the Alabama Conference by strik- 
ing out "the dividing Ridge between Pearl and Leaf 

In the Mississippi Conference. 379 

Rivers, and thence with said Ridge between the wa- 
ters of the Mississippi and Tombigbee Rivers to the 
Tennessee line," and inserting as the boundary be- 
tween the two Conferences the western boundary 
of the eastern range of counties in the State of Mis- 
sissippi. This readjustment left in the Alabama 
Conference nine of the eastern counties of Missis- 
sippi, and turned over to the Mississippi Conference 
three of the old counties embraced in the old Leaf 
River Circuit and six or eight counties in the Choc- 
taw Purchase, which gave a large scope of country 
to be supplied at this session of Conference. This 
acquisition of territory, with the necessity of form- 
ing a number of new circuits in the Choctaw and 
Chickasaw Purchases, made it necessarv to remodel 
the Choctaw and Chickasaw Districts and to form 
a new district in the southeastern part of the Con- 
ference, called Monticello, with Benjamin A. Hough- 
ton as presiding elder. This new district took Pearl 
River Circuit from the Natchez District and White 
Sand and Rankin from the Choctaw District, to 
which were added Pearlington and Leaf River Cir- 
cuits, on the Gulf Coast, and Newton and Louisville, 
in the Choctaw Purchase. The two latter circuits 
were in new territory,. which had only been partially 
visited by the itinerants, and were of vast dimen- 
sions, each including several new counties. The 
Church was greatly indebted to a number of faith- 
ful local preachers for supplying this lately acquired 
territory on the eastern boundary of the Monticello 
District. At this time Ransom J. Jones, Sr., was 
m a local relation in Jasper County, and no man 
contributed more to the preservation and extension 

380 A Complete History of Methodism 

of the Church in that region than he. How changed 
is air that country now ! Full of circuits of small 
dimensions, and full of preachers, with a large mem- 
bership. This also God hath wrought through our 
instrumentality as a Conference. 

The town of Sharon, in Madison County, Miss., 
had been projected mainly for educational purposes, 
and was being built up all around the presiding 
elder's parsonage, which suggested the idea of ex- 
changing the indefinite name of Choctaw for that 
of Sharon District. The writer was continued in 
charge of it. It had been considerably remodeled. 
Madisonville and Canton were taken from Madison 
Circuit and made a separate charge, with Preston 
Cooper as pastor. A colored mission was also es- 
tablished within the bounds of Madison Circuit. 
Benton and Manchester (now Yazoo City) were de- 
tached from Yazoo Circuit, and Jephthah Hughes 
was appointed in charge. The Yalobusha Circuit 
of last vear was divided into Carroll and Yalobusha 
Circuits. Enos Fletcher, a local preacher, was em- 
ployed to reconnoiter Choctaw County and form a 
circuit in that unoccupied region. 

One of the early preachers came near being lost in 
that wilderness county. Milton H. Jones, on Car- 
roll Circuit, had taken in a -part of Choctaw County. 
The dividing ridge between the waters of Big Black 
and Yalobusha Rivers in places becomes almost 
mountainous, and was a famous place for wild ani- 
mals. One evening, after the sun went down, Mr. 
Jones was riding leisurely along, toward a settlement 
he had in view, where he expected to spend the night, 
when he suddenly met a panther in the path. The 

In the Mississippi Conference. 381 

beast not seeming much disposed to vacate the path, 
Mr. Jones sprang forward and yelled at the top of 
his voice, at which the panther sprang a little to one 
side and* let him pass, but immediately turned in 
behind him and commenced a close pursuit, where- 
upon Mr. Jones put whip to his horse and dashed 
off at a raipd gait. The panther also increased 
his speed, and by long and rapid bounds kept with- 
in a few rods of him. It was now becoming a race 
of life or death, and he put his horse to the top of 
his speed. After going, as he thought, a sufficient 
distance to outwind his hungry pursuer, and as he 
was descending an eastern slope, he drew up his 
horse and looked back, when by the twilight he 
saw the form of the panther on the crest of the 
ridge above him, still leaping forward in vigorous 
pursuit He now concluded that there was no time 
to be lost in looking back, and adopted for his future 
Movements, "Escape for thy life; look not behind 
"nee!" Nor did he slacken his gait or look back 
igain until he had reached his destination in safety. 
The name of Sineasha Mission was discontinued, 
ind Attala Circuit took its place, still occupying 
he extensive territory of the Mission. In Jackson, 
he capital of the Sfate, little had been accom- 
>lished. Thomas Ford was appointed there as mis- 
ionary. Mr. Ford lived at a distance of eight or 
en miles, giving every alternate Sabbath to the cap- 
tal. At the appointed time on Saturday morning 
he presiding elder was on hand, but Mr. Ford did 
iot come, nor did any one know, that a quarterly 
fleeting was contemplated. We sought an intro- 
duction to Major Mallory, who was State Auditor 

382 A Complete History of Methodism 

and kept the principal hotel in the place, and whose 
wife was an excellent member of our Church. On 
making known the object of our visit, we were in- 
formed that the only available place for preaching 
was the little brick house occupied by the Legisla- 
ture, and that, as it was then in session, we would 
have to wait for its adjournment to Monday. The 
Legislature adjourned soon after twelve o'clock, 
whereupon Mrs. Mallory had the hotel and State- 
house bells rung for preaching at four o'clock. At 
this hour we preached the best sermon we could to 
one man and four ladies, and appointed preaching at 
night. Then we had about twelve in the house, and, 
judging from the noise, about a score just outside who 
seemed to have imbibed freely at a drinking saloon 
near by. Soon after the service commenced the out- 
siders began to yell and hoot, interspersed with 
loud "amens" and other words used in religious wor- 
ship. We requested our little audience to keep 
composed until the services were concluded, as we 
did not intend to be interrupted by the noise outside, 
and announced two services for the Sabbath. 

As we returned to the hotel, Mrs. Mallorv re- 
marked that this was our first visit to Jackson, and, 
after the treatment received, she feared it would 
be our last. We assured her that her fears were 
groundless; that we were somewhat familiar with 
such repulses ; that the conduct of those young men 
demonstrated the fact that they greatly needed the 
reforming and saving influences of the gospel, and 
ought to have them ; and that we were more deter- 
mined now than ever that our Church should make 
a firm stand in Jackson. 

In the Mt&sissippi vonference. 383 

We had a full congregation on Sunday morning 
and again at night, -without further interruption. 
God, in Jiis merciful lovingkindness, soon raised up 
a few faithful members and patrons of our Church 
in the capital, who took the matter in hand with 
praiseworthy liberality. In the summer Of 1839 
they finished the church edifice (in which our con- 
gregations in Jackson still worship) in time to hold 
the District invention, which was to make arrange- 
ments for the centennial celebration the ensuing 
fall. Prom that day to this Methodism has had a 
name and local habitation in the capital of our 

Our large missionary circuits in the Chickasaw 
Purchase, grown into self-supporting circuits, had 
bo filled up that it was necessary to divide them. 
The whole Chickasaw territory was readjusted, and 
to the district and pastoral charges were given geo- 
graphical names to designate their location. Chick- 
asaw was changed to Holly Springs as the name of 
the district. Holly Springs and Chulahoma were 
divided into Holly Springs Circuit, Salem, Oxford 
Mission, Pontotoc, Grenada and Coffeeville, and Cof- 
feeville <$rcuit. Witfc the exception of Edward R. 
Burton, the entire district was supplied with preach- 
es lately from Tennessee. David O. Shattuck was 
appointed presiding elder, with a noble corps of 
preachers under his charge. There need be no sur- 
prise that Methodism took such a deep hold in the 
Chickasaw Purchase so soon after its first settle- 

Camp lieetings were very popular, and under the 
Divine blowing added greatly to the prosperity of 

384: A Complete History of Methodism. 

the Church. Those extraordinary bodily exercises ' 
which were common at revival meetings had nearly 
ceased. Notwithstanding the limited supply of la- 
borers, three transferred to other Conferences. Sey- 
mour B. Sawyer was transferred to the Alabama 
Conference, and Cotman Methvin and Henry B. 
Price to the Arkansas Conference. 

The General Minutes show an increase of one 
thousand three hundred and forty-one white mem- 
bers, and a decrease of two hundred and fifty-four 
colored and ten Indian members. This decrease of 
colored and Indian members is readily explained. 
A large number of planters, owning from a few to 
hundreds of negroes, having become hopelessly in- 
volved in debt in the great financial crash which was 
now being felt over the whole country, were running 
their negroes secretly to the republic of Texas; and 
of the few Indians left in our State, numbers were 
annually removing to the West. A noted local 
preacher by the name of Toblychubby, with his fam- 
ily and connections, removed to the West, and after 
making one crop was so well pleased that he sent a 
pressing message to the remainder of his tribe in the 
East to leave the piny woods of Mississippi and 
come to the fertile lands in the Indian Territory. 
As an evidence of the superior quality of the soil, 
he sent word that he had raised a pumpkin weighing 
seventy pounds. 



The Mississippi Conference met at Natchez Decem- 
ber 6, 1837. Bishop Andrew was present, and 
opened the Conference with the usual religious de- 
rations. Robert D.' Smith, the former Secretary, 
being absent at the opening session, Joseph Travis 
was elected Secretary and Samuel L. L. Scott Assist- 
ant Secretary. For the first time the Conference 
needed an Assistant Secretary as one of the perma- 
nent officers. The first volume of journals, begin- 
ning in 1813, is now full, and Secretary Travis is 
instructed to purchase, at the expense of the Confer- 
ence, a new journal ledger, and also a suitable trunk 
for the tafe-keeping and transportation of the jour- 
nals and other. Conference documents. The little 
old journal book of four hundred and two pages, 
seven and a half -inches in length and six inches in 
width, had ridden to Conference a quarter of a cen- 
tury in the Secretary's saddlebags ; but now the day 
of small things is past in journalistic economy as 
well as in other departments, and the venerable 
book must be succeeded by a fine ledger, thirteen by 
eight and a half inches, to be kept and transported 
in a Conference trunk. The old journal abides in 
the trunk also, and is preserved with great care. 
The records of the new journal book are very legibly 
Vol. II.— 25 (885) 

386 A Complete History of Methodism 

written on good paper, without the crowding either 
of words or lines, and with few abbreviations. The 
Secretary was a good composer and penman. 

The standing committees having been appointed, 
the regular questions were taken up. Under the 
first question nine were admitted on trial — Edwin 
Phillips, Bennett A. Truly, Lorenzo D. Langford, 
Robert W Kennon, John G. Deskin, William G. 
Gould, William B. Walker, Mathew Ramsey, and 
James C. Finley. Ten were continued on trial; six 
were received into full connection and elected. to 
deacon's orders; five were elected elders; Nathaniel 
R. Jarratt, formerly of the Tennessee Conference, 
and Charles J. Carney, formerly of ours but late of 
the Arkansas Conference, were readmitted. We re- 
ceived as transfers John M. Holland and Samuel 
M. Kingston from the Tennessee, Laban C. Cheney 
from the New York, and Jefferson Hamilton from 
the New England Conference. The Bishop trans- 
ferred Richard Angell to the Alabama and Jephthah 
Hughes to the Arkansas Conference; James Wat- 
son, Preston Cooper, Stephen Herrin, and Thomas 
P. Davidson located; William B. Harper and Wil- 
liam Neill were discontinued, and Edward R. Bur- 
ton and Thomas Ford were discontinued at their own 
request; Hardy Mullins was declared supernumer- 
ary and Jesse Lee and William V Douglass super- 
annuated. Eight local preachers were elected to 
deacon's and five to elder's orders. Some of each 
class had now entered the itinerancy. In the ex- 
amination of character there was little difficulty. 
Two or three of the undergraduates were admon- 
ished to be more diligent in their studies, and the 

In the Mississippi Conference. 387 

same number were complained of for leaving their 
work at intervals under various, insufficient pre- 

Bradford Frazee had some difficulty at Washing- 
ton which the journal does not specify, and which 
required that his case be referred to the presiding 
elder for investigation, pending whiph he was left 
without an appointment. Absalom D. Wooldridge, 
who had been appointed from year to year to a pro- 
fessorship in the Jackson (Louisiana) College, had 
embraced Unitarianism, and by his request was per- 
mitted to withdraw from our Church. 

Mr. Travis is careful to state in the journal that 
each daily session of the Conference was closed with 
prayer. This was the invariable rule of all the 
older bishops. They acknowledged the necessity of 
having the Divine guidance in all deliberations and 
his blessing on all business, and they thought the 
time well spent in having some brother lead in prayer 
at the end of each session. Afterwards the doxolo- 
gy ancf the short apostolic benediction came into 
great requisition as the concluding service of all our 
Church Conferences, and in some instances of our 
stated public worship. The former usage is the 

A judicious committee of three was appointed to 
select and destroy all useless papers in the archives 
of the Conference. 

As the Conference was still depended upon to 
assist in finishing and paying for the church on Poy- 
dras Street, in New Orleans, the building committee 
sent a report of what had been done and what re- 
mained to be done to complete the enterprise. The 

388 A Complete History of Methodism 

Conference appointed Jefferson Hamilton, William 
Winans, and John Lane a committee to take the 
subject under advisement, and their report was 
adopted by the Conference. The Church was still 
considerably in debt, as the services of Mr. Maffitt 
were in requisition as a collecting agent. 

A letter was received from Miss M. S. Chapman, 
Corresponding Secretary of the Female Benevolent 
Society of Woodville, inclosing seventy-five dollars, 
with a request that the Bishop appropriate it to the 
cause of foreign missions as he might see proper. 

The Female Sewing Society of Natchez and Wash- 
ington sent, as usual, a box of clothing, with eighty- 
one dollars in money, to be distributed among the 
most necessitous preachers. The presiding elders 
were the committee of distribution, and returned 
warmest thanks to the kind donors. 

Our Conference Missionary Society during this 
time had not been inactive. With such men as John 
Lane, William Winans, and B. M. Drake at the head 
of the Society, it could not become inactive. Though 
much of home work was missionary work, the 
Conference was still alive to the general cause 
of missions, held anniversary meetings, and en- 
couraged the formation of auxiliary societies every- 

• v Rev. Leroy Swormstedt was present as a collecting 
agent of the Western Book Concern, at Cincinnati, 
pressing his claims with his usual pertinacity. Mr. 
Swormstedt was a great favorite in the Mississippi 
Conference, especially with those who were fortu- 
nate in not owing his publishing house anything. 
We loved to hear him pray and preach, and to wit- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 389 

ness his warm, religious feelings as manifested in 
our meetings for worship. 

There was some just complaint against a few of 
our 'itinerants in the New Purchase for neglecting 
their work to engage in land agencies, which occa- 
sioned the passage of the following resolution, to 

Resolved, That this Conference highly disapprove of any 
member of the Conference engaging in any business which 
would hinder him in the faithful performance of his duty, 
except in those cases where the Conference has been pre- 
viously notified. 

The currency of Mississippi was so much under 
par that the Book Agents at New York were unwill- 
ing to receive it in payment for books and period- 
icals, and requested that it be invested in cotton by 
an experienced agent and the cotton be shipped. to 
them. John Lane had been a cotton factor, and was 
appointed to this new and unprecedented agency, 
and also to receive from the Book Committee all 
claims in favor of the Book Concern and to enforce 
their collection as early as possible. 

The importance of establishing a Church paper 
farther down in the Southwest than Nashville was 
felt, and the presiding elder of the New Orleans Dis- 
trict, the stationed preacher in New Orleans, the 
presiding elder of the Natchez District, Hon. Edward 
McGehee, and William M. Curtis were appointed a 
committee, with plenary power to establish such pa- 
per under the control of the Conference as soon as 
they should judge proper. This was doubtless the 
initial step toward establishing the New Orleans 
Christian Advocate a few years subsequently. 

390 A Complete History of Methodism 

As it was believed that every traveling preacher 
ought to be a member of a Quarterly Conference, the 
Conference resolved that superannuated preachers 
and agents of the Conference, and all preachers left 
without appointments at their own request, are 
members of the Quarterly Conference where they 
reside. Bishop Andrew was called on officially to 
decide whether more than four Quarterly Confer- 
ences could legally be held in any circuit or station 
within one Conference year. He very properly de- 
cided that if the fourth Quarterly Conference ad- 
journs sine die no other Conference can be legally 
called for that year. As some of the Quarterly Con- 
ferences must be held two or three months before the 
Annual Conference, it has long since been decided 
that where important business which ought to be 
transacted before the Annual Conference is not 
ready for the action of the fourth Quarterly Confer- 
ence at the time of its meeting, instead of adjourning 
sine die it may adjourn over to a specified day or to 
meet at the call of the presiding elder — not as a fifth 
Quarterly Conference, but as the adjourned fourth, 
to finish its business. If a Quarterly Conference 
that cannot possibly get through its legal business 
on Saturday night may adjourn until Monday, there 
can be nothing illegal in adjourning to any time 
prior to the Annual Conference. 

Except the interchange of a few thoughts about 
the Elizabeth Female Academy, the subject of edu- 
cational institutions was not discussed .at this Con- 
ference, so far as anything appears on the journal. 

It was well known that John Newland Maffitt 
would not do any regular pastoral work long at ^ 

In the Mississippi Conference. 391 

time. He was now a member of this Conference, 
though absent during the session. Quite a number 
of the preachers, who were not much acquainted 
with him, had expressed a determination to effect 
his location in his absence without his having re- 
quested it; but those who knew him intimately 
were anxious to postpone the matter until he should 
be present and have the opportunity to express his 
own views on the subject. He had already passed 
the examination of his character, and the Conference 
had requested his continuance in the agency of the 
New Orleans Church. Bishop Andrew consented to 
a night session in his absence, with William Winans 
in the chair. The friends of Mr. Maffitt had a pri- 
vate interview and determined on what they consid- 
ered a little innocent strategy. They would make 
a motion at the start to suspend the fifteen-minute 
rule and give the speakers full latitude as to time. 
All seemed willing to the suspension of the rule, and 
David O. Shattuck made the opening speech against 
the location of Mr. Maffitt. He spoke at least one 
hour. He was well acquainted with Mr. Maffitt, 
and gave his history in detail from the time he en- 
tered the ministry, showing that he had always been 
the true friend of ttfe Methodist Episcopal Church, 
and, as one of her accredited ministers, had been 
abundant in labors and success. One or two others 
followed Judge Shattuck at full length on the same 
side; and when it became known that B. M. Drake, 
John G. Jones, and several others intended to claim 
the floor in favor of retaining Mr. Maffitt in the Con- 
ference until he should be located at his own request, 
the opposition suddenly gave up the wearisome con- 

392 A Complete History of Methodism 

test and consented to leave him without a pastoral 
charge at his own request. 

Why was it that there was any opposition to Mr. 
Maffitt among the members and ministers of our 
own Church? That such a preacher should meet 
with opposition outside of his own Church, or out- 
side of any Church, is not surprising. Who in his 
own Church that knew him well could see any 
blameworthy fault in him? His persecution from 
within must have been the outgrowth of ignorance or 
prejudice or a mere morbid jealousy for the honor of 
the Church and ministry. Mr. Maffitt was not only a 
man of extraordinary eloquence and power in the 
pulpit, but a humble, sincere, and earnest Chris- 
tian. No man not a devout follower of Christ could 
spend so much time in private meditation and ear- 
nest prayer as he, especially during his revival sea- 
sons. He made his home with the best families in 
the Church, and this is their uniform testimony. He 
was an educated Irishman, and possessed all the ex- 
uberant and confiding impulsiveness of his nation, 
which sometimes had the appearance of childish im- 
prudence ; but even what were esteemed by the hy- 
percritical as faults were of the most innocent and 
harmless character. 

After voting to hold the next annual session at 
Grenada, in the New Purchase (the Bishop giving 
the time as December 5, 1838), on the eighth day of 
the present sitting, and after receiving our appoint- 
ments, the Conference adjourned. 

William Winans succeeded Barnabas Pipkin on 
the New Orleans District, which had to be reduced 
in size on account of his increasing feebleness. Jef- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 393 

ferson Hamilton was stationed in New Orleans and 
Enoch N. Talley on Lafayette Mission; Samuel L. 
L. Scott in Baton Rouge and Robert S. Collins in 
Woodville; William Langarl and William H. Wat- 
kins on Wilkinson Circuit. Thomas Clinton was 
continued on Wilkinson Colored Mission. The be- 
loved and faithful Mrs. Pipkin, who had hitherto 
shared the burdens of the itinerancv with her hus- 
band, had fallen into severe and protracted bodily 
affliction, which had led Mr. Pipkin to the determi- 
nation to request the Conference to leave him with- 
out an appointment the present year; but, after 
some deliberation on the subject, it was thought 
best to relieve Mr. Winans by detaching three cir- 
cuits from the New Orleans District and forming a 
small district, called Greensburg, and appoint Mr. 
Pipkin in charge. His preachers were Joseph P, 
Snead, Mathew Ramsey, and David M. Wiggins. 

Benjamin M. Drake was continued on the Natchez 
District, without much change in its structure ex- 
cept that an additional pastoral charge was organ- 
ized from the northern end of Concordia Circuit and 
called New Carthage, and the name of Concordia 
was changed to Vidalia, the name of the parish 
town opposite Natchez. Elias R. Porter was sta- 
tioned in Natchez and Elijah Steele on Washington 
Circuit. It was here he made one of his best im- 
pressions as a talented young preacher and faithful 
pastor. Having a small circuit, he did most of his 
preaching on the Sabbath, and spent much of his 
time in the week in pastoral visiting. His congre- 
gations increased almost to the limits of the commu- 
nities in which he preached. It was said that he 

394 A Complete TJAztory of Methodism 

would ride around early in the week, making short 
pastoral calls and inviting everybody to attend 
church next Sabbath, and then he would go around 
again in the latter part of the week to ascertain if 
they were coming to church according to his special 

Robert D. Smith was continued on the Vicksburg 
District. The towns of Clinton and Raymond were 
connected with Jackson and placed in the Sharon 
District, and a new work was added to the Vicksburg 
District, called Bayou Mason Mission. Quite a num- 
ber of families had settled west and south of Lake 
Providence, on the Bayou Mason hills, and around 
Swan Lake and at other points — enough to make a 
good circuit. Alexander S. Parker, one of our most 
faithful young men, was appointed to organize and 
labor on this mission. Laban Cheney, a transfer 
from the New York Conference, was stationed in 

The writer was continued on the Sharon District, 
with some slight changes in the work. Benton and 
Manchester were returned to Holmes Circuit, with 
two preachers on the work; Clinton, Raymond, and 
Jackson were united in one pastoral charge, under 
Charles K. Marshall, with Thomas Ford employed 
as a supply. Our Church was not strong at Ray- 
mond, and had worshiped in the courthouse. The 
citizens, of various denominations, and the Masons 
procured a lot and agreed to build a house, to be 
occupied as a union Church below and a lodge above. 
They put up the frame and the Masons soon finished 
their lodge, but the union Church apartment re- 
mained unfinished and untenantable a long time. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 395 

"What was everybody's business was nobody's busi- 
ness." Major Deinoss, one Of the leading citizens 
of Raymond, said to Mr. Ford : "We are utterly tired 
of seeing that naked frame that supports the Ma- 
sonic Lodge. By common consent we are willing to 
give a fee simple title to the property pertaining 
to the union Church to any denomination that will 
finish it, so that we can have a respectable and com- 
modious place of worship." Mr. Ford took the hint. 
A Board of Trustees was appointed according to the 
Discipline, the property legally put into their hands, 
and in a few months was completed a commodious 
and well-furnished Methodist church, in which the 
congregation has worshiped to this date. Canton 
was left to be supplied by John Cotton, now in a 
local relation. 

The circuit known as Louisville, in the Monti«ello 
District of last year, was placed in the Sharon Dis- 
trict, and under the blessing of God soon developed 
into a much larger and better circuit. Little commu- 
nities had been formed all over Winston and Oktib- 
beha Counties. Louisville, the county site of Win- 
ston, was assuming the form of a clever village, while 
Starkville, the county site of Oktibbeha, was already 
putting on the airs 6f a smart inland town. Rev. 
Jacob Mathews, late of the Alabama Conference, 
and his brother-in-law, Rev. John H. Stone, had 
lately settled, in the eastern part of Winston County, 
and by their labors contributed largely to the up- 
building of Methodism in all that country. They 
were both talented preachers, and Mr. Mathews was 
a superior preacher. Hon. James Walton, then a 
member of the State Senate, and afterwards a very 

396 A Complete History of Methodism 

talented member of the Mississippi Conference, and 
his brother-in-law, Mr. Hogan, were living at Stark- 
ville, and were prayerfully and industriously striv- 
ing to advance the Church there. Lorenzo D. Lang- 
ford, having been a local preacher some years, was 
preacher in charge of this vast circuit. At first 
there was some murmuring about the appointment. 
Mr. Langford had a family ; and as they lived a con- 
siderable distance from the circuit, how was he to 
render the circuit full service? Then, he was a 
plain, uneducated man ; how would he succeed 
among a people accustomed to hear such preachers 
as Jacob Mathews, John H. Stone, Benjamin B. 
Smith, and the old ex-member of the Conference, 
Elijah Gentry? Mr. Langford, "being full of faith 
and the Holy Ghost," went everywhere preaching 
the word among the new settlers. He seemed to 
think of nothing in comparison with the salvation 
of souls. The result was that he had a glorious in- 
gathering into the Church. Everybody began to 
think he was the very man needed. 

A very valuable transfer came from the Tennessee 
Conference in the person of John M. Holland. He 
was a native of Williamson County, Tenn., embraced 
religion in early life, and became almost immediately 
an active member of the Church. In the fall of 
1822 he was admitted on trial into the Tennessee 
Conference, where he filled the offices of pastor, pre- 
siding elder, and college agent with great accepta- 
bility and usefulness until his transfer to the Mis- 
sissippi Conference. Mr. Holland was educated, re- 
fined, and courtly. He was a successful tactician 
in revival meetings, and excelled in the service of 

In the Mississippi Conference. 397 

gong. He was in all respects a most lovely man and 
minister. At the late Conference he was appointed 
presiding elder of the Holly Springs District. The 
work was still enlarging and assuming a higher 
importance in the Chickasaw Purchase. The rich 
lands had invited a superior class of families to set- 
tle in the Purchase, and their elevated grade in so- 
ciety required a fair proportion of the best talents 
in the Conference to be stationed among them. Jo- 
seph Travis was stationed in Holly Springs and 
Nathaniel R. Jarratt was appointed to organize a 
new circuit in the northeastern corner of the State, 
to be called Tishomingo. The other circuits re- 
mained as they were, with such additions as the 
preachers saw proper to make, but retaining the 
names of the previous year. 

The area of the settlements had so enlarged in 
North Mississippi that it became necessary to or- 
ganize a new district south of Holly Springs, which 
took the name of Grenada, with David O. Shattuck 
as presiding elder. The principal enlargement of 
the work which made this new district necessary was 
in the direction of Choctaw and Chickasaw Coun- 
ties, around the head waters of the Big Black and 

Yalobusha Rivers. 

Green M. Rogers was appointed presiding elder 
of the Monticello District, Mr Houghton not being 
able to stand the horseback-riding necessary to com- 
pass the district four times a year. Two new cir- 
cuits were organized in this district, called Raleigh 
and Paulding, the former mainly in Smith and the 
latter in Jasper County. This new territory had 
been transiently passed over a few times by the itin- 

398 A Complete History of Methodism. 

erants on their long rounds, but hitherto had been 
mainly served by a few faithful local preachers who 
had emigrated into that region with the early set- 
tlers, among whom may be honorably mentioned 
Ransom J. Jones, Sr., and Jacob Carr. 

The three missionaries in Texas had already com- 
menced a noble work. At first they traveled over 
the republic, preaching wherever they could in pri- 
vate houses or extemporized places, and taking the 
names of emigrant members and local preachers, 
and organizing them into societies. It is said that 
Doctor Ruter, in the space of about two or three 
months after his first entrance into Texas, had taken 
the names of three hundred emigrant members. How 
many the other two missionaries collected is not 
recorded, but from their known activitv thev were 
not much behind their superintendent. Methodism 
did not have to struggle long for a full-grown ex- 
istence in the republic of Texas. Much of the ma- 
terial for a spiritual edifice there had been well pre- 
pared in the States before its removal to Texas, and 
in a few years our Church appeared there in fair 
proportions with her church houses, camp grounds, 
Sabbath schools, and literary institutions. The 
great demand at first was for additional laborers to 
follow up the rapidly extending settlements. After 
the first general reconnoisance, Doctor Ruter de- 
cided that he needed twelve additional itinerants 
to supply the "fields already white unto the harvest." 
The statistics show a very encouraging increase in 
numerical strength — an increase of two thousand 
and ninety-six white, two thousand three hundred 
and eighteen colored, and eight Indian members. 



The Conference met at the new and growing town of 
Grenada, on the Yalobusha River, in Yalobusha 
County, December 5, 1838. This was the first Con- 
ference ever held in North Mississippi. Bishop 
Morris, being unavoidably detained on the way, did 
not arrive until Saturday evening. John M. Hol- 
land was called to conduct the opening religious 
services and to preside over the organization of the 
Conference. The Conference then balloted for a 
President, and William Winans was elected. Joseph 
Travis was again elected Secretary - 

A letter was found in the post office of a private 
character, directed to Bishop Robert R. Roberts, 
which was an indication that he intended to visit 
the Mississippi Conference once more; but he did 
not come, and we saw our first and very greatly be- 
loved Bishop no more. It adds to the attractions 
of heaven to believe that we shall greet him there. 

The usual standing committees were appointed, 
and the regular routine business of an Annual Con- 
ference commenced. Under the first question nine- 
teen were admittted on trial, a number of whom, 
after a few years, retired from the itinerancy and 
passed out of sight. A fair proportion of these pro- 
bationers did long and faithful service, and some of 
them remain to the present day, though now on the 


400 A Complete History of Methodism 

superannuated list, among whom we may mention 
Erastus R. Strickland, Levi Pearce, and Andrew 
Day. Eight were continued on trial ; eight were re- 
ceived into full connection, six of whom were or- 
dained deacons, the other two having been previous- 
ly ordained; six were ordained elders; Elijah B. Mc- 
Kay and James Watson, formerly of our Conference, 
and Isaac C. Foster and Samuel R. Davidson, for- 
merly of the Tennessee Conference, were readmit- 
ted; Littleton Fowler, Jesse Hoard, Isaac L. G. 
Strickland, and Samuel A. Williams, of the Tennes- 
see Conference, and Abel Stevens, of the New En- 
gland Conference, and Sewell Campbell, from the 
Kentucky Conference, in virtue of their appointment 
as missionaries to Texas, became members of the 
Mississippi Conference; Jefferson Hamilton and 
James McLeod were transferred to the Alabama 
Conference; William Pearson, Philip Diefinweirth, 
Charles J. Carney, and John N. Maffitt were located 
at their own request, and Anthony H. Holcomb and 
James McDonald were located by a vote of the Con- 
ference as being unsuitable for the work of traveling 
preachers. This measure afflicted Mr. Holcomb 
very much, for he placed a high estimate upon his 
membership in the Conference ; but he had so many 
unministerial ways, of which it seemed impossible 
to make him conscious, that no presiding elder or 
circuit that had him one year was willing to take 
him a second. After years of trial and disappoint- 
ment, he was advised to locate ; and it is due to his 
memory to say that when, through the faithfulness 
of a friend, he became apprised of his standing in 
the Bishop's Council, he came before the Conference 

In the Mississippi Conference. 401 

and asked to be located, though it was evident that 
he did it as a matter of necessity. He labored a 
few years as a local preacher and then entered into 

William McD. Martin, James A. James, and 
Mathew Ramsey were discontinued at their own re- 
quest.. Richard Angell (who, it seems, declined tak- 
ing his transfer last year to the Alabama Confer- 
ence), Jesse Lee, William V Douglass, Thomas Ow- 
ens, James Applewhite, and Hardy Mullins were de- 
clared superannuated. Fourteen local preachers, 
several of whom had now entered the itinerancy, 
were elected to deacon's orders, and eight were 
elected to the order of elder. 

Bishop Morris preached us an admirable sermon 
on the Sabbath from Daniel xii. 4 : "Many shall run 
to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Aft- 
er a lucid explanation of the text in its primary 
and full meaning as applicable to all divinely called 
and active preachers of the gospel, he showed its pe- 
culiar applicability to our itinerant preachers, who 
are constantly running to and fro all over the land, 
preaching the doctrines of a pure Christianity, so 
that Bible knowledge is increased and errors in doc- 
trine are continually subsiding and disappearing. 
His, description of the rapid spread and prevalence 
of pure Arminianism and the overthrow of its an- 
tagonistic doctrines through the instrumentality of 
the itinerancy was truly encouraging to the preach- 
ers to go on in their divinely appointed work. 

The Conference was permitted to draw on the 
Book Concern for four hundred dollars and on the 
Chartered Fund for eighty-two dollars. The Foster 
Vol. II— 26 

402 A Complete History of Methodism 

bequest yielded one hundred and fifty dollars, being 
only half of the interest due for the current year. 
The Planters' Bank was showing to every practiced 
eye unmistakable signs of a coming collapse. After 
adding all available Conference funds together, 
such was the financial convulsion of the country 
that many of the toiling itinerants were quite de- 
ficient in their small salaries. As soon as the good 
and liberal-hearted people of Grenada found this 
out from the report of the stewards, they commenced 
soliciting donations, both in public and in private, 
and persevered until a sufficient amount was raised 
to bring every deficient salary up to the full disci- 
plinary allowance. Judge Shattuck, the presiding 
elder of the district, was very influential in this 
movement. At a meeting of the Preachers' Fund 
Society its object was explained to the congregation, 
and a far larger sum was contributed to its capital 
stock than was ever contributed at any other place. 
Up to that date we had met with no such liberality 
elsewhere. It was with regret that we had to deliver 
that fair and liberal town over to the Memphhr Con- 

An item in the journal recalls an interesting case 
in the person of Isaac Taylor. When he was con- 
verted he was wholly without literary acquirements, 
unless it may have been a mere knowledge of the al- 
phabet. He soon began to pray in public and ex- 
hort, and professed to feel called of God to preach 
the gospel. His wife taught him to read, and he 
soon became quite a successful student. At this 
Conference, after his two years' probation, he came 
forward for admission into full connection and elec- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 403 

tion to deacon's orders. The Conference hesitated. 
He had not stood a thorough examination on the 
course of study, and then there was a roughness in 
his manners at times that was objectionable. After 
the first call and representation of his case, the fol- 
lowing entry was made in the journal — viz., "Isaac 
Taylor was not admitted, for not giving satisfaction 
as to the course of study, but was continued on trial, 
and Conference resolved he be kindly admonished 
by the Chair to be more mild and smooth in his inter- 
course with* society as a preacher." The required 
admonition was faithfully given by President Wi- 
nans and kindly and profitably received by Mr. Tay- 
lor — so much so that in a few days his case was re- 
considered and he was received into full connection 
and elected to deacon's orders. Mr. Taylor had a 
robust constitution and a mind capable of very rapid 
development ; but after continuing in the Conference 
four years, he located and turned his attention to 
the study and practice of law, and after a few years 
went to Texas. If Mr. Taylor had continued to de- 
vote his whole attention to the study of theology and 
the practical duties of the itinerancy, what eminence 
he might have attained in the ministry ! It is to be 
regretted that, after the Church takes up some young 
men from the very back door of ignorance and ob- 
scurity and teaches them how to study successfully, 
and starts them on the highroad to usefulness, if not 
to fame, they take advantage of the position given 
them and turn their attention to. the study of some 
secular profession, rendering the remainder of their 
lives almost useless as ministers of the gospel. 
As the book trade in the Mississippi Conference 

404 A Complete History of Methodism 

was now to a great extent supplied from the Book 
Concern at Cincinnati, we received annual visits 
from one of its agents. At this session that amia- 
ble, sweet-spirited man, Rev. John F. Wright, pre- 
sented an exhibit of the Western Book Concern, and 
spoke in glowing terms of its growing prosperity. 
He also told of the extraordinary conversion of Wil- 
liam Nast, an educated German, who had entered 
the ministry and was laboring successfully among 
the German population in Cincinnati and elsewhere, 
and had commenced the publication of, a Methodist 
paper in German, called the Christian Apologist* 
The Conference approved of this publication and 
pledged to give it circulation among any German 
population in its bounds. 

Ministers of the gospel "are men of like passions 
with others," and are surrounded with the common 
infirmities of humanity. It is not to be expected, 
then, that they should be infallible and always get 
on smoothly. Even where they are innocent of any 
intentional wrong, it is sometimes necessary to have 
a judicial investigation in order to establish their 
innocence, or to give the accused an opportunity. to 
confess their indiscretions and promise amendment. 

Nathaniel R. Jarratt had been suspended a week 
before Conference met by a committee called to- 
gether by John M. Holland, presiding elder of the 
Holly Springs District, the committee consisting of 
Joseph Travis, John W Ellis, and Robert S. Collins. 
The first charge was "falsehood." The specification 
was, "in concealing the truth, thereby making false 
impressions." The second charge was "attempting 
to defraud." The specification in support of this 

In the Mississippi Conference. 405 

charge was, "in proposing to rescind a contract with 
H. Ferrill relative to a tract of land to which he had 
given his obligation to make said Ferrill a title 
whenever he should obtain a title himself." As this 
matter had arisen in the extreme northern part of 
the Conference, the ministers from that region 
shaped the circumstances of its introduction to the 
Conference; and the long discussion which followed 
was conducted mostly by the North Mississippians. 
When Mr. Jarratt was permitted to speak in his own 
behalf, in a subdued tone of voice and manner, with 
evidences of true humility, he affirmed that his mo- 
tives were pure but his plan of proceeding was 
wrong, for which error he asked the forgiveness of 
his brethren. Th*e Conference, by vote, disapproved 
of his indiscretions, requested the Bishop to give 
him a suitable admonition before the Conference for 
the benefit of himself and all present, and then 
passed his character. Mr. Jarratt received the ad- 
monition with meekness and conducted himself as 
a true Christian, and in the end had more the sym- 
pathy than the censure of his brethren. 

Bradford Frazee was still in charge of the Eliza- 
beth Female Academy. It would seen from the 
journal that the committee appointed at the last 
Conference to investigate complaints against him 
at Washington either had not acted at all or had 
acted in a way not satisfactory to Mr. Frazee. In a 
letter to David O. Shattuck he asked his advice and 
assistance in his "case. Mr. Shattuck petitioned the 
Conference to have a new committee appointed to in- 
vestigate the case. The Conference consented to the 
proposal, and sequested Bishop Morris to appoint 

406 A Complete History of Methodism 

the committee. He appointed on the committee 
William Winans, Thomas Clinton, Laban C. Cheney, 
Robert D. Smith, John Lane, and Samuel W Spear. 
Mr. Frazee's character passed for the present, and he 
was appointed as the colleague of Daniel Leggatt, 
on Vidalia Circuit. 

The Conference was taking an increasing interest 
in Sabbath schools. The number and other statis- 
tics of Sabbath schools were called for and reported 
in detail. 

The first centennial rear of Methodism was now 
approaching, and it was resolved to celebrate it in 
a becoming and useful' manner. The time for the 
celebration was fixed in the fall of 1839, and every 
presiding elder was expected to call a district con- 
vention in time to appoint the place, select the speak- 
ers and give them their subjects, and make all neces- 
sary arrangements to celebrate the centennial year 
with appropriate religious services. This was very 
generally attended to in our Conference. In the 
country places it was generally connected with the 
fall camp meetings, and was the means of spread- 
ing, through public addresses, a vast amount of in- 
formation relative to the past history, present sta- 
tus, and future prospects of this branch of the gen- 
eral Church, with all missionary, Sabbath school, 
educational, and other Church interests. The speak- 
ers selected were required to write out their dis- 
courses in full and read them. This requirement 
made it necessary for each speaker to investigate 
and elaborate the subject assigned him, which, in 
many cases, was the means of improving his knowl- 
edge of Methodism as much as he improved the 

In the Mississippi Conference. 407 

knowledge of his hearers. The centennial celebra- 
tion passed off well. 

A number of the leading members and patrons of 
this GhurcH in Holmes and Carroll Counties be- 
came interested in establishing a seminary of learn- 
ing of high academic grade at a place they named 
Emory, in honor of the late Bishop Emory. The 
place they selected was on the dividing ridge between 
the rich valley lands of Yazoo and Big Black Rivers, 
and abounded with pure water, with every indica- 
tion of a good, healthy location. One leading idea 
of the proprietors was to induce the owners of large 
plantations in the bottom lands of the adjacent 
rivers to fix their family residences at Emory for 
health, educational, and Church purposes. The 
scheme was plausible and bade fair to prosper until 
the great financial crash which spread embarrass- 
ment all over our country stopped its further prog- 
ress. Good schools were taught there a number of 
years, and the place was assuming the appearance 
of a lively village when its progress was checked by 
the stress of the times. The proprietors were anx- 
ious to place the schools under the patronage of the 
Conference, and requested the writer to represent 
them in the matter f which he did ; whereupon the 
Conference appointed David O. Shattuck, John G. 
Jones, and Washington Ford a committee to confer 
with the trustees and report to the next Conference. 

Papers were also received from Texas, setting 
forth the great importance of establishing at an early 
day a denominational seminary. of learning in the 
republic. These papers were referred to the Su- 
perintendent of the Texas Mission, with instructions 

408 A Complete History of Methodism 

to look into -the subject and report to the next Con- 
ference. This was the beginning of the extensive 
and varied denominational seminaries in Texas. 

To give and perpetuate the settled convictions of 
our fathers on the subject of Church fairs, pews, in- 
strumental music, and choirs, we transcribe a few 
verbatim resolutions from the journal of this Con- 
ference : 

Resolved, That it is the sense of this Conference that 
those exhibitions generally called fairs are pernicious in 
their influence on the Church, and therefore should be dis- 
couraged by all our preachers. 

Resolved, That it is the sense of this Conference that 
the Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church requires, 
in all instances, that the seats in our churches should be 
free, and that for any preacher to advocate the sale or rent- 
ing of pews in our houses of worship is guilty of an offense , 
against the Church and should be reproved by the Con- 

Resolved, That it is the sense of this Conference that 
the introduction of instrumental music into public worship 
in our churches and the conducting of the music in our 
churches by choirs, in the common sense of the term, is 
injurious to the spirituality of singing, and is inconsistent 
with the directions of our Discipline. 

Resolved, That the above resolutions in reference to 
fairs, pews, instrumental music, and choirs be published 
in the Southwestern Christian Advocate. 

The Conference set apart the first Friday in the 
following October as a day of fasting and prayer 
for the general prosperity of the Church, and espe- 
cially that the Lord of the harvest would send forth 
more laborers into his harvest. The next Confer- 
ence was appointed to be at Natchez December 4, 
1839. The committees of examination on the course 

In the Mississippi Conference. 409 

of study were announced. Votes of thanks to the 
citizens generally for their hospitality and liberali- 
ty, and to individuals for special favors, were passed, 
and after a session of nine days we adjourned to 
meet at the church at candlelight to receive the ap- 
pointments. We had enjoyed a happy Conference. 
Some of our meetings in the church were full of holy 
joy and rapturous praise. Now we were to be scat- 
tered again. Some of the veterans in the itinerancy 
from the southern part of the Conference had to 
take a horseback ride of two or three hundred miles 
to reach their homes and pastoral charges. This 
reminded them of the days when they used to travel 
in the depth of winter to and from the Conferences 
in Tuscaloosa, Ala. 

The Greensburg District was now called Baton 
Rouge, and was so enlarged as to include Baton 
Rouge on the west, Pearl River and Pearlington on 
the east, and Amite on the north. Barnabas Pip- 
kin was continued in the presiding eldership. 

The term of Benjamin M. Drake on the Natchez 
District having expired by limitation, it was remod- 
eled and reduced in size to suit the age and feeble- 
ness of Mr. Winans, and he was placed in charge of 
it. Elijah Steele was stationed in Woodville, B. M. 
Drake in Natchez, and Lewellyn Campbell and Wil- 
liam H. Watkins in New Orleans and Lafayette 
Mission. Mr. Campbell had been sent from the Ken- 
tucky Conference as a missionary to Texas, and had 
been laboring there the preceding year and expected 
to return ; but the Bishop lacked a suitable man for 
New Orleans, and after consulting with Mr. Camp- 
bell obtained his consent to go to the city. 

410 A Complete History of Methodism 

The name of Monticello was exchanged for Bran- 
don District, with Green M. Rogers continued as 
presiding elder. A new circuit was organized in 
the northeastern corner of this district, called De- 
catur, the name of the county town of Newton Coun- 
ty. This circuit in part took the place of the origi- 
nal Newton Mission, established two years before. 
Thomas Myers was in charge this year. 

John Lane succeeded Robert D. Smith on the 
Vicksburg District. The various pastoral charges 
in this district, as now constructed, were all on or 
near the Mississippi River, and extended from the 
southern limit of Jefferson as far north as Bolivar 
County. The Mississippi part of the circuit, called 
"Providence" last year, was detached and organized 
into Lake Washington Mission, with Joel Sanders 
as missionary. The new work organized last year 
on Bayou Mason, being in the bounds of the Arkan- 
sas Conference, was turned over to that Conference 
and placed in the Monroe District. Charles K. Mar- 
shall was stationed in Vicksburg, and Laban C. 
Cheney and Horace M. Booth at Port Gibson and 
Grand Gulf. John G. Jones was continued in 
charge of the Sharon District, which had been great- 
ly curtailed in territory, but still had more than the 
original number of pastoral charges. Elias R. Por- 
ter was stationed in Jackson, the State capital, and 
succeeded in finishing the first and only church our 
denomination has ever had there, except a church 
for the colored people. Canton was re-annexed to 
Madison Circuit, with two preachers on that circuit 
Holmes Circuit was divided, and the lower end was 
organized into Yazoo Circuit, including Benton and 

In the Mississippi Conference, 411 

Yazoo City, with J. Ira E. Byrd and Robert E. 
Gill as pastors. Levi Pearce was on the Madison 
Colored Mission, and Elijah B. McKay on that of 
Yazoo. * 

David O. Shattuck was continued in charge of 
the Grenada District. In this district Choctaw as 
the name of a circuit was dropped, and Greensboro, 
the name of the county site of Choctaw County, took 
its place. Yalobusha was in the same way substi- 
tuted by Carroll. A new work was added, called 
Spring Hill, and left to be supplied. The name was 
discontinued after this year. John M. Holland was 
continued on the Holly Springs District, to which 
were added this year Cold Water Circuit and Tu- 
nica and Albertson Missions; the two former being 
in De Soto, Panola, Tunica, and Coahoma Counties, 
in the northwestern corner of the State, and the 
latter in Tippah County. Samuel L. L. Scott was 
stationed in Holly Springs, and Joseph Travis was 
President of Holly Springs University, a good 
little school with a big name. Nathaniel R. Jarratt, 
after all his troubles, was returned to Tishomingo 
Circuit, and was highly appreciated where he was 
best known. 

Colored missions were greatly multiplied at this 
Conference, some of which were supplied by some 
of the best traveling elders, and others by some of 
the most talented local preachers. The work among 
the colored people was not all left to the mission- 
aries, but was still kept up by the circuit pastors 
wherever it could be continued in connection with 
the regular pastoral charges. 

On the 16th of May, 1838, the Texas Mission met 

412 A Complete History of Methodism 

with a very great loss in the death of its first super- 
intendent, Rev. Martin Ruter, D.D. He was no ordi- 
nary man. Like Samuel, his whole earthly existence 
was devoted to the service of God. He was born 
April 3, 1785, in Charlestown, Worcester County, 
Mass. Being religiously instructed and trained 
from infancy, his early boyhood was marked with 
morality and attention to religious duties. At the 
age of fourteen he obtained an assurance of his 
acceptance in Christ, and at the age of sixteen was 
admitted on trial into the New York Conference. 
From this time he labored extensively on circuits, 
in city stations, and on districts, in the Northern 
and Eastern States of the Union and in Canada, un- 
til 1820, when he was elected by the General Con- 
ference to superintend the Western Book Concern, 
at Cincinnati, Ohio, to which agency he was re- 
elected in 1824. Before the expiration of his sec- 
ond term in the book agency, he was elected Presi- 
dent of Augusta College, in Kentucky, which posi- 
tion he filled over four years. He was then trans- 
ferred to the Pittsburg Conference, and stationed 
two years in the city of Pittsburg. Near the close 
of his second year he was elected to preside over 
Alleghany College, located at Meadville, Pa., from 
which in the summer of 1837 he was appointed to 
the superintendency of the most important mission- 
ary field on the continent. Mr. Ruter had entered 
the ministry with nothing more than a good rudi- 
mental English education ; but while doing full work 
as an itinerant minister he had become well versed 
in history, science, and the languages, and as a lit- 
erary man had but few superiors. The Asbury Col- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 413 

lege, in Baltimore, without his knowledge, conferred 
on him the degree of Master of Arts, and in 1822 
Transylvania University, of Kentucky, conferred on 
him the well-merited degree of D.D. Few men in 
this or any other age or country ever sacrificed as- 
much of domestic comfort or secular interest to go 
on a foreign mission as did Dr. Ruter. As soon as 
he received his appointment to Texas he hastened 
his preparations to commence his work. He left 
his family at New Albany, Ind., until he could recon- 
noiter his mission field and make arrangements to 
remove them to the Republic. He descended the 
Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to Rodney, Miss., where 
he mounted his horse and, taking the main emigrant 
route, crossed the Sabine on the 21st of November, 

1837. He commenced his labors immediately in 
daily preaching, forming societies, laying plans for 
building churches, promoting Sabbath schools, plan- 
ning circuits, and laying the foundation for a cen- 
tral literary institution of high grade, which he 
saw would soon be muCh needed bv both the Church 
and country. His rides were long, his exposures 
great, his eating and sleeping accommodations often 
very scant. He seemed to feel all the time that the 
Master's business reqaired haste. He traveled at a 
rapid rate, generally riding in a long and continu- 
ous trot. Thus he continued until midspring of 

1838, when his health began to fail. He paused 
long enough to take medicine, and found relief. He 
now thought of going for his family; but after 
a day's journey he was so completely exhausted 
that he concluded to. return to Washington, Tex., 
where he lingered several weeks, with the best atten- 

414 A Complete History of Methodism 

tion that good physicians and devoted friends could 
give him, and then died in great peace on May 16, 

His colleagues, Messrs. Fowler and Alexander, 
continued in the field until Conference, at which 
the following appointments were made for the Texas 
Mission District: 

Littleton Fowler, P. E. 
Houston and Galveston, Abel Stevens. 
Nacogdoches, Samuel A. Williams. 
Washington, Robert Alexander, Isaac L. G. 

Montgomery, Jesse Hoard. 
Brazonia, Joseph P. Snead. 

Neither Bishop Morris nor any member of his 
Council had ever been to Texas, and in making these 
appointments had to leave it discretionary with Mr, 
Fowler, after consulting his preachers, to remodel 
them in any way he thought best for the general 
interests of the work. As soon as convenient he 
assembled a majority of the missionaries in the 
vicinity of San Augustine, and, after prayerfuj con- 
sultation, made several changes in the plan of the 
work and in the appointments of some of the preach- 
ers, but all in reference to occupying as much terri- 
tory and preaching to as many people as possible. 
The Texas Mission is now fairly established, is a 
legitimate part of the Mississippi Conference, and 
will have a place in its history. 

Of the nineteen who were admitted on trial at 
this Conference, nearly half of them are dead. Absa- 
lom Petitt and Reuben B. Ricketts still survive in 
extreme old age; Edward Fountain, after a short 

In the Mississippi Conference. 415 


career in the itinerancy, took orders in the Protes- 
tant Episcopal Church; Horace M. Booth, after 
many years of active labor in the Mississippi Con- 
ference, both as a traveling and local preacher, is 
now effective in the East Texas Conference; while 
Levi Pearce and Andrew Day are on the honored 
roll of well-worn superannuates, and Erastus R. 
Strickland, with patriarchal mien, is still on the 
effective list. Levi Pearce had been admitted on 
trial before, but his pecuniary circumstances led 
him to ask a short discontinuance. Since reenter- 
ing the Conference he has continued without a break 
until the present day. He is a man of commanding 
personal appearance and an improving intellect, 
and soon rose to eminence among his brethren, fill- 
ing many of the most important appointments on 
circuits, stations, and districts, and several times 
was a delegate to the General Conference. After the 
war he became discouraged about the future pros- 
pects of our country, and removed w T ith his family 
to British Honduras. Andrew Day was a deeply 
pious and very impulsive young Christian, with a 
limited education when he entered the ministry 
He has labored long, faithfully, and successfully, 
until, debilitated by labor and advancing years, he 
has been retired to the superannuated list. 

Erastus R. Strickland is still among us. His ex- 
perience and successful labors will be suggestive 
and encouraging to younger men. He was born in 
Meredith, Delaware County, New York, on April 6, 
1807. In 1828 he was converted at a camp meeting 
in Orleans County, New York. He immediately 
felt moved to labor for the salvation of others, and 

4:16 A Complete History of Methodism 

became an active layman in a place where Metho- 
dism was weak and in low repute. He soon began 
to feel moved by the Holy Ghost to preach the gos- 
pel, but he fled from the face of the Lord to Georgia, 
where, to use his own language, "the whale of this 
world swallowed him, but threw him up again in the 
Mississippi Conference in 1836." Mr. Strickland was 
married to a cultured, refined Christian lady, and 
a member of an excellent Methodist family. On 
coming to Mississippi he settled in Neshoba County, 
with very promising worldly prospects, and began 
to amass a fortune by entering government land in 
the Choctaw Purchase. He had been licensed to 
preach in Georgia, but on coming to Mississippi he 
put his "light under a bushel," and was little known 
as a preacher for some time. He became reawak- 
ened to a sense of what might be the consequences 
of his unfaithfulness both to himself and others, 
had his license renewed, and became industrious 
as a local preacher, preaching extensively in Ne- 
shoba, Leake, Winston, and other new counties. He 
was not satisfied in his local relation ; he felt sensi- 
bly moved toward the itinerancy, but the claims 
of his family in connection with his widely extended 
business transactions seemed to place insurmounta- 
ble difficulties in his way. Realizing that it was a 
fearful thing to disobey the call of God, he deter- 
mined to forsake houses and lands, domestic com- 
forts and prospective wealth, for the sake of preach- 
ing the gospel to dying men. He was soon after rec- 
ommended for admission on trial into the Confer- 
ence, and also for deacon's orders as a local preach- 
er. His industry and success seemed to excite the 

In the Mississippi Conference. 417 

jealousy and envy of some who were less able and 
successful than he, and they accused him of being 
worldly-minded and thinking more about entering 
wild land than preaching the gospel. This ungen- 
erous gossip reached members of the Conference 
who had no personal acquaintance with him, so 
that when he was proposed for admission on trial 
he was promptly rejected, and even a motion to per- 
mit the presiding elder to employ him was lost. 
This fell heavily on Mr. Strickland, who was pres- 
ent; but he was patient and quiet, and associated 
freely with the preachers for a few days, so that 
they might become acquainted with him, and then 
a reconsideration of his case was secured, and he 
was cordially admitted and elected to deacon's or- 
ders. For nearly forty years no one has ever re- 
gretted the admission of Erastus R. Strickland into 
our Conference. This year (1839) Mr. Strickland 
was appointed to Louisville Circuit as the colleague 
of Edwin Philips, a young minister of precious 
memory. This circuit was large and lay mostly in 
Winston and Oktibbeha Counties. Several hundred 
were added to the Church, most of whom gave evi- 
dence of being soundly converted. 

The revival took hold of every gradation of soci- 
ety, the educated and professional classes sharing 
largely in the benefits of the gracious visitation. 
Prominent among the noted conversions at Ellison 
Ridge was that of Col. Murff. He was a substantial 
citizen and the head of a lovely family, but had 
hitherto lived an irreligious life. His awakening 
was thorough and his conversion powerful. He 
immediately set up his family altar, and was at- 
Vol. II.— 27 

418 f A Complete History of Methodism 

tentive to all the duties of Church membership. The 
result was that he was a satisfied and happy Chris- 
tian. He delighted in private communion with God, 
and for the enjoyment of this great privilege he 
selected a grove in a quiet valley to which he often 
retired to be alone with God. One lovely Sabbath 
morning he retired alone to this sacred spot, and 
while engaged in prayer his soul was filled to over- 
flowing with love, peace, and joy, and he was con- 
strained to shout aloud the praises of God. His 
wife heard his voice somewhat indistinctly, and 
sent some of the servants to inquire into the cause. 
The servants caught the gracious influence, and did 
not return. Then she and others of the family went, 
only to remain and help the Colonel to shout. The 
neighbors heard the noise, as of a multitude, and 
came to see what it all meant. Many of them in 
turn partook of the great joy, and turned the place 
of private prayer into a place of public worship, 
where they remained, singing, praying, exhorting' 
one another, and shouting, until near sunset. ~It 
will take the. revelations of eternity to disclose the 
accumulating good fruits of that unappointed meet- 
ing in Col. Murff's private grove. Col. Murff be- 
came a local preacher, and still lives to bless the 
Church with his example, his prayers, and his pul- 
pit labors. Rev. J. D. Murff, formerly of the Missis- 
sippi but now of the North Mississippi Confereaoi, 
is a son of Col. Murff. 

Leroy Masengale, of the Alabama Conference, and 
his father-in-law, a very worthy and useful local 
preacher by the name of Lovelady, lived near the 
borders of the Louisville Circuit, and sometimes 

In the Mississippi Conference. 419 

crossed the Conference boundary and did good serv- 
ice at camp meetings. Mr. Lovelady was a thrifty 
farmer as well as an acceptable and useful local 
preacher. He adopted an amusing plan to capture 
a bear that had eluded his dogs and gun while 
depredating on his roasting ears. He was well ap- 
prised of the fact that bears are fond of honey. He 
accordingly prepared a bowl of honey, which he 
"laced" with a liberal supply of brandy, and then 
placed it inside the field where bruin usually crossed 
the fence in quest of his meal of new corn. The 
bear found the exquisite and exhilarating mixture, 
and lapped it up. Mr. Lovelady went down early 
in the morning to ascertain the result of his ex- 
periment, when he enjoyed a complete triumph in 
seeing bruin staggering and rolling over, utterly una- 
ble to recross the fence, and apparently as happy 
as a bear could be. Seeing he was both helpless and 
good-humored, Mr. Lovelady approached 'with a 
morning salutation, shook his paw, asked after his 
welfare, and then killed and dressed him. 

In 1840-41 Mr. Strickland was in charge of Paul- 
ding Circuit, with Henry J. Harris as his junior 
the first year. During the two years about five hun- 
dred were added to the Church, embracing many of 
the best educated and most influential men and 
women of the country. It was during Mr. Strick- 
land's two years' labor on this circuit that Hon. 
Henry Mounger and Hon. John Watts, both emi- 
nent jurists, and afterwards talented and useful 
local preachers, were brought' into Church fellow- 
ship. They were not, however, awakened directly 
through the instrumentality of Mr. Strickland, but 

420 A Complete History of MethoMzm 

in a way to show what honor God often pats upon 
faithful Christian women. The two jurist! were 
on their way to hold circuit court at Leakeville, in 
Green County, Mr. Mounger as judge and Mr. Watts 
as district attorney, when they called to spend 
the night with Mrs. Dupree, a wi^ow. On sit- 
ting down to supper she politely asked them to say 
grace. They both declined, with evident feelings of 
self-reproach. After supper Mrs. Dupree called her 
family together and led their usual evening devo- 
tions with fervent and impressive propriety; Her 
guests retired to bed with unprecedented feelings. 
How superior, and yet how beautifully modest, was 
the moral courage of their widowed hostess, whea 
contrasted with theirs! There was an infinite im- 
portance in that religion which she so beautifully 
exemplified. They were guilty of having neglectȤ 
its claims. Their personal salvation and the salva- 
tion of their families required that they should lead 
new lives. On their journey they mutually acknowl- 
edged their determination to devote the remainder 
of their days to the service of God. Soon after their 
return from court they united with the Church, were 
happily converted, and were both licensed to preach. 
Their legal lore and their high professional posi- 
tions were made subservient to the interests of the 
Church. They were not only exemplary Christians 
and very acceptable and useful as local preachers, 
but they were the patrons and successful promoters 
of our literary institutions, and have left the Church 
a rich inheritance in the intelligence and piety of 
their children. Judge Mounger first went to his re- 
ward in heaven, leaving a son, Rev. Edwin H. Moon- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 421 

ger, a graduate of Centenary College, to serve the 
Church as an itinerant minister. Judge Watts from 
childhood had lived in Mississippi, and from the 
time he was eligible began to fill important offices 
of honor and trust. He had been district attorney, 
legislator, and for twenty years he filled the office 
of circuit judge. He was a man of commanding 
personal appearance, and a universal favorite at 
home and abroad. His parchments show that he 
was ordained deacon by Bishop Andrew and 
elder by Bishop Pierce. Judge Watts was 
no sinecure in his Church relations, but in the 
domestic circle, the Sabbath school, the social meet- 
ings of the Church, protracted and revival meet- 
ings, and District and Annual Conferences he was 
always prompt, earnest, and active. His exhorta- 
tions and prayers came warm from his heart, and 
were full of sympathy, love, and faith. In his last 
illness he rested securely on the merits of his all- 
sufficient and long-tried Saviour, and calmly wait- 
ed his summons to go to his heavenly home. He 
was buried in Garlandsville by the Masonic fra- 
ternity, of which he had long been an honored mem- 

Mr. Strickland 'excelled in having new churches 
built at central points wherever they were needed, 
sometimes as many as six or eight in a year. When 
asked what prompted him to devote so much time, la- 
bor, and money to building churches, his reply was : 
"If you want the martins to come about your prem- 
ises to drive away the hawks, you must hang up 
gourds for them to make their nests in and hatch 
their young ; so if you want people to attend church 

422 A Complete History of Methodism. 

and become members, you must have churches built 
of commodious size in central localities." 

The statistics for this year give the net increase 
as follows — viz. : One thousand and seventy whites, 
four hundred and thirty-seven colored, and sixteen 
Indians; one hundred and ninety-five local preach- 



The Mississippi Annual Conference assembled at 
Natchez at 9 a.m. December 4, 1839. Bishop 
Andrew opened the Conference with the usual reli- 
gious services. Joseph Travis was again elected 
secretary. After fixing the hours of meeting and 
adjournment, the first motion made and carried was 
to admit as spectators "all local preachers and pro- 
bationers and any private member of the Church 
who may be invited by a member of the Conference 
to a seat in the Conference room, but none else." 
This was another step toward sitting with open 
doors; but still all outsiders and ministers and 
members of other Churches were not yet permitted 
to witness the doings of an Annual Conference. One 
reason of this prohibition was that the only avail- 
able Conference rooms in those days were small, and 
would not admit a promiscuous crowd; but the 
main reason assigrfed was that the preachers, in the 
examination of ministerial character, would deal 
more faithfully with each other than they would in 
the presence of a mixed and fault-finding assembly. 
All such restraints have long since been thrown off. 
Periodical literature had so increased as to require 
a separate committee to look after its interests, 
which was appointed for the first time at this Con- 


424: A Complete History of Methodism 

Two of our beloved fellow-laborers, William V 
Douglass and Isaac L. G. Strickland, had ceased 
from their labors and gone to their eternal reward. 
William V Douglass was a Scotchman, born in 
the North of England, and was liberally educated. 
He was admitted into the Tennessee Conference, at 
Knoxville, late in 1824, and appointed to the Nash- 
ville Circuit as the junior of Elijah Kirkman. At 
the end of his first year he was transferred to the 
Mississippi Conference, and after filling seven ap- 
pointments on our most important circuits and sta- 
tions, including New Orleans, his health failed, and 
after a decline of several years he died in holy tri- 
umph. Isaac L. G. Strickland was admitted into 
the Tennessee Conference, held at Pulaski, Tenn., 
in November, 1833. After traveling four years 
in that Conference he was transferred to the Texas 
Mission, where he labored with zeal and accepta- 
bility a few months on two of the largest circuits 
in the republic. He fell a victim to congestive fever 
at the house of Mrs. Bell, in Columbia. His soul 
was full of victorious faith and all-conquering love, 
and with his expiring breath he said : "I shall soon 
be in heaven! Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." He 
died in the thirtieth year of his age and the sixth 
of his ministry. Young Strickland was our 
second missionary who fell at his post on Texas 
soil battling for the establishment of Methodism in 
the new republic. 

The usual standing committees were appointed, 
with an additional one on education, consisting of 
Bradford Frazee, Robert Alexander, Charles K. Mar- 
shall, Littleton Fowler, and John Lane. The educa- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 425 

tional interests had so increased that this commit- 
tee became a necessity, and has had its annual suc- 
cessors ever since. 

A day of fasting and prayer, to be observed 
throughout the Conference, for a general advance 
of the cause of God, and especially that the Lord 
of the harvest would send forth more laborers into 
the harvest, had been appointed at the previous 
Conference, and was observed with the best results. 
Nineteen were admitted on trial at this Confer 
ence, of whom there remain at the present time 
Henry J. Harris, Daniel A. J. Parker, and Joshua 
T. Heard. Several of them were well advanced in 
life when they were admitted, and their itinerant 
career was short. Our Texas Mission had already 
become self-producing, for of those admitted Robert 
Crawford, Daniel Carle, Robert H. Hill, John Hay- 
nie, and Henderson D. Palmer were from the Texas 
Mission District. Twenty were continued on trial 
from last year; seven were received into full con- 
nection; six were ordained deacons and five 
to the office of elder. Samuel W Hankins, 
of the Georgia Conference, Malcolm McPherson, of 
the South Carolina Conference, Wilson L. McAlis- 
ter, of the Tennessee Conference, Francis Wilson, 
of the Ohio Conference, and Peter James, Philip 
Dieffenworth, and Preston Cooper, formerly of our 
Conference, presented their certificates of location 
and were readmitted. We received by transfer for 
the work in Texas Thomas O. Summers, from the 
Baltimore Conference, and Chauncy Richardson and 
Johnson Lewis, from the Tennessee Conference ; and 
transferred Laban C. Cheney back to the New York 

426 A Complete History of Methodism 

Conference. Richard A. Stewart was voted a super- 
numerary relation, and Richard Angell, John I. E. 
Byrd, Jesse Lee, Thomas Owens, Hardy Mullens, 
and John G. Jones superannuated; James G. Car- 
starphen, Andrew J. S. Harris, Isaac C. Foster, Da- 
vid O. Shattuck, Robert S. Collins, N. R. Jarratt, 
Jesse Ginn, William Craig, James Applewhite, and 
John D. Neal located at their own request. From 
the local ranks ten were elected to deacon's and 
one to elder's orders. During the first half of the 
session Bishop Andrew adhered strictly to the orig- 
inal practice of closing each daily session with 
prayer, but toward the close the apostolic benedic- 
tion was substituted as the closing ceremony. Ver- 
ily, the benediction is a great convenience to men 
who allow themselves to be too much hurried to 
kneel and pray together! 

As much of the currency of the country at this 
time was greatly under par, and as the publishing 
interests at New York and Cincinnati were the prop- 
erty of the whole Church, an order was passed that 
all debts due for books and periodicals should be 
paid in good currency. 

As all the Centenary addresses and sermons were 
required to be written and fair copies preserved, 
some one, who perhaps wanted to see himself in 
print, obtained the passage of a resolution appoint- 
ing a committee of three (to be elected by ballot) 
to receive all the manuscripts and select a sufficient 
number for a convenient volume to be sold for the 
benefit of the Preachers' Fund Society. The selec- 
tion was made and sent to Cincinnati for publica- 
tion; but, fortunately for all concerned, the publi- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 427 

cation was not made, and in a few years the manu- 
scripts had been covered so deep under a pile of 
rubbish that the authors could not recover them, this 
writer being one of them. 

The Conference received from the Book Concern 
five hundred dollars, and from the Chartered Fund 
seventy-six dollars and forty-four cents, which, 
added to other resources, enabled the Conference 
stewards to bring up the deficient salaries of the 
preachers, leaving a small surplus to be divided 
among the most needy. 

The Church generally was becoming more and 
more interested every year in the subject of denomi- 
national schools and general education. The Con- 
ference had already determined to erect and endow 
a college as a centennial monument, and at the 
late Centennial celebrations had obtained subscrip- 
tions to the amount of $46,672.50, only $731 of 
which had been collected, which discouraged the 
idea of a location of the contemplated college for 
the present. The members of Conference, however, 
were urged to increase the subscriptions and collec- 
tions as fast as possible. A committee was ap- 
pointed to receive ^proposals for a location, and to 
appoint a Board of Trustees, consisting of thirteen 
in number, eight traveling preachers and five lay- 
men. John Lane was appointed treasurer until a 
Board of Trustees should be appointed and a treas- 
urer duly elected. The committee on location were 
instructed to negotiate for the- purchase of the Mis- 
sissippi Springs property, in Hinds County, for the 
location of the college, but declined the purchase. 

428 A Complete History of Methodism 

This Centenary College enterprise came up annually 
for years. 

The good and popular school at Holly Springs, 
over which Joseph Travis presided, called "Holly 
Springs University," prayed to be taken under the 
patronage of the Conference, which prayer was 
granted and a resolution passed requesting an 
agent to be appointed to collect funds for its endow- 
ment, and a visiting committee to attend its com- 
mencement exercises. 

Steps were taken to perfect and carry out the 
plans of the lamented Dr. Ruter in relation to the 
establishment of a college and female seminary 
at Rutersville, Tex. Robert Alexander and Chauncy 
Richardson were appointed to procure deeds to real 
estate and look after the interests of the contem- 
plated seminaries. 

The Conference, by request of the several Boards 
of Trustees, took under its patronage female acade- 
mies at Woodville, Vicksburg, and Emory in Holmes 
County, and they all contributed largely to general 
education during their existence under the patron- 
age of the Conference. 

For the first time the Conference adopted meas- 
ures to have an abstract from its journal published 
in pamphlet form, and it has generally been done 

The Bishop, being requested to do so by the Con- 
ference, appointed Benjamin M. Drake, Thomas 
Clinton, James C. Finley, William Langarl, and 
Charles K. Marshall a committee to prepare a 
"Pastoral Address" to all the Churches under our 

In the Mississippi Conference. 429 

Bradford Frazee was finally "acquitted of all 
charges," and his character passed. 

At this Conference, for the first time in the exam- 
ination of elders, where there was nothing against 
them they were excused from retiring that their co- 
laborers might tell in their absence what their plans 
of usefulness had been, and how faithfully and suc- 
cessfully they had labored during the preceding 

Samuel M. Kingston was a man of zeal and good 
preaching abilities, but he was thoughtless and im- 
pulsive at times. He was complained of by some of 
his colaborers in North Mississippi, and a resolu- 
tion passed requesting the Bishop to admonish him 
in the presence of the Conference. This was done 
very affectionately and tenderly by Bishop Andrew, 
whereupon Mr. Kingston expressed sincere regret 
for his inadvertencies and promised amendment. 

The writer met with the sorest trial of his life at 
this Conference. We have already adverted to the 
almost utter prostration of our physical strength at 
the conclusion of our four years on the Sharon 
District. Many of our friends thought we were 
destined to an early grave, and we asked the Confer- 
ence to allow us ' a few months' rest. Bishop 
Andrew informed us that our brethren had thought 
it best to declare us superannuated and give us at 
least one year of rest. We continued to preach an 
average of once a week until the spring was fairly 
opened, when we were so much improved in strength 
as to be able to take Dr. Drake's place in Natchez 
while he was in attendance on the General Confer- 
ence at Baltimore. We were in Natchez during the 

430 A Complete History of Methodism 

great tornado of May 7, 1840, when more than three 
hundred people were either killed outright or 
drowned by the upsetting of steamboats within 
less than a mile of where we were. t 

This was the time for electing our delegates to 
the General Conference, to meet in Baltimore May 
1, 1840. William Winans, Benjamin M. Drake, and 
John M. Holland were elected, and John Lane, Lit- 
tleton Fowler, and Green M. Rogers were elected 

The New York Conference again sent us some 
resolutions on the subject of temperance, involv- 
ing some changes in our General Rule, which were 
not concurred in. The Conference decidedly opposed 
any change in our General Rules. 

The next Conference was appointed to meet at 
Vicksburg, and, after a busy session of ten days, 
closed at 7 p.m., with the Bishop's address and the 
announcement of the appointments. 

William Winans was continued on the Natchez 
District, Benjamin M. Drake in Natchez, and Elijah 
Steele in Woodville. William H. Watkins was sta- 
tioned in New Orleans, and Sewell Campbell on La- 
fayette Mission. The Colored Mission in New 
Orleans was left to be supplied, as were many other 
colored missions, the owners of the colored people 
often preferring the services, of local preachers who 
were settled among tfrem. Robert D. Smith was 
appointed President of the Elizabeth Female Acad- 
emy, at Washington, Miss. Barnabas Pipkin. was 
^reappointed to the Baton Rouge District. 

Several circuits east of Pearl River were united 
in a district, which took the name of Paulding, with 

In the Mississippi Conference, 431 

Enoch N. Talley as presiding elder. A new mission 
appears in this district lying mostly in Perry and 
Jones Counties, with Daniel Jones as missionary. 

RAnkin gave place to the name of Brandon Cir- 
cuit, which was now replaced on the Sharon Dis- 
trict, with Robert W Kennon in charge. Green M. 
Rogers was presiding elder of the Sharon District; 
Bradford Frazee was stationed at Raymond and 
Clinton, and Samuel W. Spear at Jackson. Madi- 
son Colored Mission was served by Levi Pearce, and 
that of Holmes County by William H. B. Lane. 

Louisville Circuit was taken from the Sharon 
District and attached to the Grenada District, and 
Peter James succeeded David O. Shattuck as pre- 
siding elder. William G. Gould was stationed in 
Grenada. The Spring Hill Circuit of last year was 
merged into Carroll and Greensboro Circuits. 

Malcolm McPherson succeeded John M. Holland 
on the Holly Springs District, and Mr. Holland was 
appointed agent for Holly Springs University. 
Joseph Travis, who was continued President of the 
Unitiprsity, was also stationed in Holly Springs. 
The oame of Albertson Mission was dropped in this 
district, and a mission was established called Itta- 
wamba; and Tunifca Mission was" substituted by 
Commerce, and elevated to a self-supporting cir- 

The work in the Chickasaw Purchase was doing 
well, and Methodism was becoming a power in the 
land. A former district was reorganized on both 
sides of the Mississippi River, with Lake Providence 
as the center, and called Providence District, with 
Benjamin A. Houghton as presiding elder. The 

432 A Complete History of Methodism 

number of pastoral charges was only five, but the 
territory was immense and very difficult to travel 
on account of the annual inundations of the Missis- 
sippi bottom. Here some of our best young men 
received their early training in the itinerancy. A 
large part of ministerial labor in this district was 
given to the negroes on the large plantations. The 
preachers were generally better paid than anywhere 
else in the Conference. 

The Vicksburg District was now confined entirely 
to the upland region east of the Mississippi River. 
John Lane was continued presiding elder, Charles 
K. Marshall was reappointed to Vicksburg, and 
A. W. Chapman was appointed to the presidency 
of the Vicksburg Female Academy. Philip Dieffen- 
worth was stationed in Port Gibson and Grand 
Gulf. Preston Cooper was in charge of Crystal 
Springs, having been readmitted with greatly im- 
proved health. It was during this interval of ill 
health that he discovered on his premises, in Hinds 
County, the far-famed Cooper's Well. It is said that 
he obtained a knowledge of this mineral well in a 
dream. In the summer of 1839 a consuming drought 
was prevailing in the country, and Mr. Cooper had 
to haul his water a long distance. His crop was 
becoming exhausted, and he was making it a sub- 
ject of daily prayer that God would send them relief 
in his own good time and way. While he was en- 
gaged in digging a well, at a depth of sixty feet he 
struck a table rock of unknown thickness. He be- 
came discouraged and discharged his hands. While 
in this state of disappointment he dreamed that 
the rock in the well was only a thin plate, and that 

In the Mississippi Conference. 433 

just under it there was abundance of water. When he 
awoke, he was encouraged to believe that it was from 
the Lord in answer to his many prayers for a provi- 
dential supply of water. He recalled his hands and 
renewed his work. The plate of rock was soon bro- 
ken, and the water gushed up in great abundance. A 
chemical analysis resulted in a discovery of the best 
mineral water in the South. It has been for many 
years a place of great resort for invalids. 

The Texas Mission was already assuming vast 
proportions and becoming self-supporting, with fif- 
teen pastoral charges and sixteen traveling preach- 
ers. The republic was now divided into two large 
districts, in charge of which were placed Littleton 
Fowler and Robert Alexander: Mr. Fowler on the 
San Augustine District, with Samuel A. Williams, 
Daniel Carle, Francis Wilson, H. D. Palmer, Moses 
Spear, Robert Crawford, Edward Fontaine, and a 
supply on Harrison Circuit; and Robert Alexander 
on Rutersville District, with Chauncy Richardson, 
John Haynie, Robert H. Hill, Abel Stevens, Thomas 
O. Summers, Jesse Hoard, Johnson Lewis, Joseph 
P. Snead, and a supply on Victoria Circuit. " A 
goodly number of local preachers, at an early date, 
had emigrated to the country, among whom were 
Henry Stephenson, James P Stephenson, William 
C. Crawford, Dr. Job M. Baker, John English, E. S. 
Martin, John W, Kinney, Dr. William P Smith, 
A. P. Manley, and Needham J. Alford. Numbers 
also had been lately licensed to preach by the newly 
organised Quarterly Conferences. These local 
preachers distributed over the republic, with their 
Methodist families, contributed largely to the intro- 
Vol. H — 28 

434 A Complete History of Hethodttm 

duction and establishment of the Church in the 
Lone Star Republic. The Mississippi^teonference 
has sent itinerants enough to Texas to make a re- 
spectable Annual Conference. 

We thank God, who has enabled us to do so, and 
rejoice at the increasing prosperity of our former 
protege*. How cheering to the Christian's heart to 
see that beautiful land covered with an intelligent 
and thrifty Protestant population, with their halls 
of justice, churches, and seminaries of learning, in- 
stead of the unproductive, ignorant, savage, and 
bigoted races that once roamed over its fair face! 
It is no longer a part of the Mississippi Conference, 
On the 4th of May, 1840, "Benjamin M. Drake pre- 
sented a petition to the General Conference pray- 
ing for a division of the Mississippi Conference 
and the formation of a new Conference in the Re- 
public of Texas, which was referred to the Com- 
mittee on Boundaries." On the 26th of May the 
committee reported as follows, which report was 
adopted: "Texas Conference shall include the Re- 
public of Texas, except what is embraced in the 
Red River District of the Arkansas Conference." 

On Christmas day of this year, in Rutersville, 
Bishop Beverly Waugh met and organized the Texas 
Conference, consisting of nine members and ten 
probationers. The Bishop on this journey spent 
some time in New Orleans, inquiring particularly 
into the condition and prospects of our Church in 
the city. He decided that an Annual Confer- 
ence must be held there, with a bishop and 
the usual celebrities in the way of book agents, 
editors of periodical literature, missionary secre- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 435 

tary, presidents of literary institutions, and sixty 
or eighty itinerants warm from their recent battle- 
fields. The Conference sittings and daily and night- 
ly preaching for eight or ten days would show the 
citizens that the Methodists not only had a real 
existence in their midst, but were a live people in- 
tent on success. Bishop Waugh's advice was 
adopted, and as soon as possible the Annual Confer- 
ence was held. 

The General Conference of 1840 also set off anoth- 
er splendid portion of territory from the Mississippi 
Conference. It had become desirable to form a new 
Conference, to be known as the Memphis Confer- 
ence, and to be composed mainly of West Tennessee 
and North Mississippi. This new Conference took 
all that part of the State north of a "line running 
due east from the Mississippi River to the south- 
west corner of Tallahatchie County, thence due 
east to the southeastern corner of Yalobusha Coun- 
ty, thence in a straight line to the northwestern 
corner of Oktibbeha County, and thence due # east 
to the Tombigbee River." This took a very produc- 
tive part of the Conference, with fifteen preachers, 
most of whom remained in the Memphis Confer- 

The people in Western Louisiana were not well 
pleased with their severance from the Mississippi 
Conference four years ago, and the territory was 
returned to us by the General Conference of this 
year, with the Sabine as the western boundary The 
retrocession of Western Louisiana brought back 
some preachers with a few others from the Arkan- 
sas Opoference, but not a moiety of the number that 

436 A Complete History of MethoMsm 

had been set off with the Texas and Memphis Con- 

Of the early history of Rev. Hill Jones but little 
is known. He was by birth a North Carolinian. 
He embraced religion in his youth ; and feeling it his 
duty to preach the gospel, he was admitted into the 
itinerancy in 1797, and traveled Caswell Circuit, in 
the northern part of North Carolina, under the 
presiding eldership of James Rogers. In 1798 he 
traveled Williamsburg Circuit, in Southeastern Vir- 
ginia, with William McKendree as his presiding 
elder. At the end of two years, finding his consti- 
tution not sufficiently strong to stand the labors 
of the large circuits of those days, he retired from 
the itinerancy, and was content to labor as a local 
preacher the remainder of a long life. He married 
and engaged in agricultural pursuits. He settled 
in the northeastern part of Madison County, Miss., 
about 1830. He and his excellent wife had grown 
to maturity in Christian experience. It was both 
pleasant and instructive to hear them narrate their 
original conversion and their long and varied Chris- 
tian experience. Their children were orderly, intel- 
ligent, and pious> and their hospitable home was 
one of the most agreeable resting places for the 
early itinerants in Madison County. Hill Jones and 
his saintly wife and pious children were pillars in 
the Church in their day. Two of his daughters and 
some of his grandchildren are yet living, and all 
are devoted members of the Church of their fathers. 

Rev. John McCauly and his wife, Martha Hamil- 
ton, were born and brought up in Tyrone County, 
Ireland. Mr. McCauly was born in 1780, and Miss 

In the Mississippi Conference. 437 

Hamilton was born in 1782. They both embraced 
religion and united with the Wesleyan Methodist 
Church in their youth. Miss Hamilton was con- 
verted under the labors of the celebrated Gideon 
Ousley. Mr. McCauly soon became an active and 
promising young local preacher, and it suited the 
religious views and feelings of Miss Hamilton to 
accept his offered hand in marriage. This she did, 
however, at a sacrifice of her social and pecuniary 
position in society. By the usages of the country 
she belonged to the aristocracy, and by her mar- 
riage with a plebeian she forfeited her title to her 
landed estate. This seemed to suggest to the young 
couple the idea of coming to America, where no such 
arbitrary and unjust usages exist. They were mar- 
ried May 14, 1803, and landed in Baltimore, Md., 
in July, 1804. They had a tedious voyage, Mrs. 
McCauly being quite sick most of the time; and to 
add to their affliction, their first child was born, 
died, and was buried at sea. They at once con- 
nected themselves with the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, and began the active duties of life to make 
a support. They lived while in Maryland in Fred- 
erick County, where most of their ten children were 
born, and where, fn 1825, they lost within a short 
time three of their sons by a malignant fever. In 
1829 Mr. McCauly moved his family to Elkton, Todd 
County, Ky., where he followed his business as a 
dry goods merchant for two years. While here he 
had a very promising son, twenty years old, to die 
while on a visit to some relatives in Hopkinsville. 
Mr. McCauly then moved to Lexington, Tenn., where 
he merchandised some years with Mr. J. T. Hollins- 

438 A Complete History of Methodism 

worth, who married his only daughter, and about 
1833 the whole family moved to the northeastern 
part of Madison County, Miss. In all their remov- 
als, from the time they left Ireland, they kept in 
the front ranks of Methodism. They read and stud- 
ied the literature of the Church, and were well 
versed in our theology and Church polity. Mr. Mc- 
Cauly graduated to elder's orders as a local preach- 
er, and was a very solid, clear, and energetic ex- 
pounder of the Word of God. Like most of the Wes- 
leyan preachers, he quoted liberally from the Bible 
in his sermons. He excelled in extemporaneous 
prayer, in appropriateness of expression, and in spir- 
itual power. There were in his prayers sympathy, 
pathos, and power that moved all hearts, so that 
often a camp meeting audience was moved from 
center to circumference while John McCauly was 
praying. Most of Mr. McCauly's family, both male 
and female, were gifted in oral prayer. Their minds 
were evidently elevated by nature, as well as puri- 
fied by grace. His son, Hamilton McCauly, was 
one of the noblest specimens of manhood, in 
person, mind, and character. He was six feet two 
inches high, stood very erect, with a noble Roman 
face. He was a true and talented Christian and 
an influential and useful citizen, and was a licensed 
preacher at the time of his death. He married a 
daughter of the venerable Hill Jones, who yet lives 
with their daughter, Mrs. William R. Stuart, at 
Ocean Springs, Miss. The whole McCauly family 
were Methodist Christians. The beloved old minis- 
ter died in great peace at Sulphur Springs, in Madi- 
son County, Miss., April 10, 1857, aged seventy- 

In the Mississippi Conference, 439 

seven years. His saintly wife outlived all her chil- 
dren, having survived until 1870, when she died with 
Christian hope, aged eighty-eight. Father McCau- 
ly's son-in-law, J. T. Hollinsworth, still lives in 
New Iberia Parish, La., and has four children living 
by his marriage with Sarah H. McCauly. Mrs. Ham- 
ilton McCauly, at Ocean Springs, Miss., has three 
children living, and at last account two of Nelson 
McCauly's children were living, making only nine 
of the family yet alive. 

After deducting the members set off with the 
Texas and Memphis Conferences and adding those 
received by the retrocession of Western Louisiana, 
the statistics show an increase this year of one 
thousand two hundred and seventy-five white, a de- 
crease of eighty-nine colored, and an increase of 
•itty-seven Indian members. 



The Conference which closed the labors for 1840 
and planned the work for 1841 met at Vicksburg 
December 2, 1840. Bishop Andrew being delayed, 
John Lane was elected President. Joseph Travis, 
being in North Mississippi, was set off with the 
Memphis Conference, but his place was well sup- 
plied by the election of Samuel W Spear. The at- 
tendance of the members of Conference was very 
good, but the familiar faces of the Texas and North 
Mississippi brethren were missed. The retrocession 
of Western Louisiana brought back four fellow- 
laborers — viz., Benjamin Jones, Henry B. Price, 
Cotman Methven, and the venerable William Ste- 
phenson. With the return of the territory from 
the Arkansas Conference came Richmond Handle, 
John Powell, John N. Hamill, Thomas Benn, and 
Spencer Watters. These were valuable accessions, 
especially Richmond Randle and John N. Hamill. 

The usual standing committees, with some special 
committees, were appointed; and in a few min- 
utes after the opening services the Conference was 
regularly at work. No deliberative bodies on earth, 
whether legislative, political, or ecclesiastical, can 
commence business more promptly than a Metho- 
dist Annual Conference. After an interim of twelve 

In the Mississippi Conference. 441 

months they resume their deliberations as readily 
and with as little confusion as though they had ad- 
journed but yesterday. A resolution was again 
passed "that no person be permitted to sit with us 
except invited by some member of Conference." A 
goodly number were invited, so that the Conference 
room was well filled with deeply interested specta- 
tors. "The hour of adjournment having arrived, 
Conference closed with prayer." Yes; John Lane 
had been trained to this from his youth. 

Bishop Andrew was present to take the chair 
the second morning, and opened the Conference with 
the usual religious ceremonies. Bishop Andrew was 
indeed one of us, being a native of our own sunny 
South, fully identified with all our Southern inter- 
ests, and acquainted with all our Southern insti- 

Nine were admitted on trial at this Conference, 
and among them James Naconchia, a native Choc- 
taw, recommended from Paulding Circuit, where a 
remnant of the tribe still remained on their reser- 
vations. He was elected to deacon's orders (hav- 
ing been a local preacher four years) , and was ap- 
pointed in charge of his own people. Reuben B. 
Ricketts, Thomas Myers, Josiah Box, Uriah What- 
ley, John C. Johnson, Absalom Pettit, E. W. Yan- 
cey, William Stanley, and Daniel Jones were discon- 
tinued at their own request. Thirteen were continued 
on trial; twelve were received into full connection; 
eleven were ordained deacons and nine elders; John 
B. Higginbotham, Elias R. Porter, James Gwinn, of 
the Tennessee Conference, and Richard Overby were 
readmitted; Isaac Taylor, Richard A. Stewart, Eli- 

442 A Complete History of Methodism 

jah B. McKay, William H. B. Lane, and Samuel L. L. 
Scott were located at their own request. Samuel L. 
L. Scott was reckoned one of our most pious, elo- 
quent, and talented young preachers. At this Confer- 
ence he received an appointment which he thought 
disparaging to hkn, and he hastily arose while the 
Bishop was reading the appointments and asked for 
a location. The Bishop put his request to vote imme- 
diately, and he was located. Mr. Scott remained 
in the local ranks until death. He never married, 
nor engaged much in any secular business; but con- 
tinued to preach, often with marked success, in 
various localities. He was well read in theology, 
an eloquent declaimer, and a laborious minister. 
As he advanced in life he bought him a little home 
in the vicinity of Crystal Springs. He died in pov- 
erty and peace. James Watson, John I. E. Byrd, 
John G. Jones, and Thomas Owens were voted a 
superannuated relation; six from the local ranks 
were elected deacons and four to elder's orders, 

James L. Newman had died the previous year. 
His name is given in answer to the question, "Who 
have died this year?" but no memoir appears in the 
General Minutes. He was admitted into the Arkan- 
sas Conference at the time of its organization, in the 
fall of 1836, and traveled successively Franklin, 
Helena, and Greenville Circuits, in Arkansas, and 
in his fourth year was appointed in charge of Frank- 
lin and Newtown, in Southwestern Louisiana, 
where he died. He was a man of good abilities, and 
in every way reliable. 

A committee of five, consisting of B. M. Drake, 
B. A. Houghton, R. D. Smith, Thomas Clinton,, and 

In the Mississippi Conference. 443 

J. G. Jones, was appointed to take into considera- 
tion the best method of giving religious instruction 
to the- colored people under our pastoral charge. 
The committee reported the plan of oral catechetical 
instruction, which, was adopted, and William Wi- 
nans, B. M. Drake, and J. G. Jones were appointed 
to prepare and publish a suitable catechism for 
this purpose. In a few months the catechism was 
prepared, and the first edition published ; but before 
it became necessary to publish a second edition 
Capers's first and second catechisms for the oral 
instruction of the Southern colored people were 
published, and at once became connectional in all 
the Southern Conferences. They were not only used 
by the pastors of the colored people, but by their 
Sabbath school teachers and their owners on the 
plantations. It was becoming common for the 
planters to have suitable places at home for the 
assembling of their colored people on the Sabbaths 
which intervened between the visits of their mission- 
aries to learn an additional lesson from the cate- 

The Conference was so deeply impressed with 
Bishop Andrew's address on Saturday to the can- 
didates for admission 1 into full connection that he 
was requested by a unanimous vote to furnish a 
2opy for publication. 

J. G. Jones .was elected Assistant Secretary to give 
the Secretary leave of absence a day or so. 

The Conference was permitted to draw on the 
Book Concern for six hundred dollars, and on the 
Chartered Fund for seventy-three dollars and sixty- 
iight cents. The Book Concern made annually 

444 A Complete History of Methodism 

enough money to pay all its current expenses, the 
salaries of the bishops, the expenses of the dele- 
gates to the General Conference, and annual divi- 
dends to the Conferences, which helped very much in 
relieving extreme necessitous cases among itiner- 

A well-filled box of clothing was received from 
the Ladies' Sewing Society at Natchez, and the 
preacher to be stationed there was instructed to 
present to the Society our grateful acknowledg- 

Dr. A. L. P Green, of the Tennessee Conference, 
was present at our Conference as agent for the 
Southivestem Christian Advocate, published at 
Nashville, and preached several of his eloquent and 
powerful sermons to the delight and edification of 
the preachers and people. It was an intellectual 
and spiritual luxury to hear this Apollos of the 
Tennessee Conference in the prime of his manhood. 
"See," said Thomas Clinton, after listening to one 
of his eloquent and pathetic sermons, "what our 
itinerancy can do, under the blessing of God, in 
developing uneducated and unfledged youths into 
the greatest preachers on the continent !" 

John H. Davidson, one of our promising and use- 
ful young men, had married before being admitted 
into full connection ; and there being still a few 
of the old anti-marrying party in the Conference, 
they called him to account for violating a rule 
of the Conference. He informed them that he had 
married by the advice of his brethren, and that he 
did not know of the existence of such a rule in the 
Conference, there being no such prohibitory rule 

In the Mississippi Conference. 445 

either in the Discipline or Bible. Upon the ground 
of his ignorance of the rule they agreed to make 
an exception of his case, and continued him on 

Samuel W. Hankins was a man of education and 
good preaching abilities, but somewhat impulsive 
and inclined to take an ultra view of the unfaith- 
fulness of the ministry and membership of the 
Church. His mind seemed to sympathize with a 
morbid and dyspeptic body, and he would take a 
course in preaching which gave unnecessary offense. 
He was complained of at this Conference for "dis- 
cussing questions of doubtful disputation calculated 
rather to bewilder than to edify his hearers." The 
Conference resolved that, in its judgment, he should 
be admonished by the Chair, which admonition was 
administered and well received. 

Richard A. Stewart was a high-toned gentleman 
and a preacher of fair talents and usefulness, and 
had labored in the itinerancy four years. During 
the past year he had been precipitated into a provok- 
ing altercation with a prominent citizen. His case 
came up in Conference, and brought on a lengthy 
and earnest discussion. Various motions came be- 
fore the Conference and were lost, until finally one 
passed requesting the Bishop to admonish him in 
the presence of the Conference that he had acted 
inconsistently with his ministerial character, and 
that he should be more guarded in the future. Mr. 
Stewart came forward and acknowledged himself 
blameworthy for indulging the passion into which 
he had been precipitated, and then the Conference 
excused him from receiving the admonition from the 

446 A. Complete History of Methodism 

Chair and granted him a location at his own re- 
quest. ' 

Two years ago a Board of Five Commissioners 
had been appointed, consisting of John Lane, B. M. 
Drake, J. G. Jones, Thomas Owens, and Green M. 
Rogers, to organize a Board of Trustees for our 
contemplated Centenary College, consisting of eight 
traveling preachers and five local preachers and. 
laymen, making thirteen in all, who should have 
plenary power to receive propositions and to locate 
the college within the following year. It was after- 
wards moved and carried that they should not make 
the location until 1841, but in the meantime should 
receive and consider propositions for its location, 
and that the preachers should exert themselves in 
obtaining subscriptions to the college fund. In 
order to avail themselves of the prestige of a great 
name, some one introduced a resolution, which 
passed : 

Resolved, That each preacher in charge of circuit and 
station be requested to use his best exertions to collect 
the average sum of fifty cents annually from each member 
of his charge to raise the sum of twenty-five thousand 
dollars to endow the Winans Professorship of Ancient Lan- 
guages in Centenary College. • 

Some funds were collected, but not enough to 
endow the professorship. 

During the interval various propositions were re- 
ceived by the Board for the location of the college, 
the most liberal being from Clinton, Miss., Sharon, 
in Madison County, and Brandon Springs, in Ran- 
kin County. The citizens of Clinton and its vicinity 
proposed to give us the Mississippi College, includ- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 447 

ing a good brick building for a primary department, 
and an additional bonus of twenty thousand dol- 
lars; the owners and patrons of Madison College, 
at Sharon, proposed to turn over the whole property 
to us, with additional aid, if we would locate there ; 
while the owner of Brandon Springs offered to 
sell his whole establishment at a very reduced price 
if we would locate there. Both Sharon and Clinton 
were in the midst of wealthy and intelligent com- 
munities, with a fair representation of influential 
Methodist families. Sharon had no public line of 
commerce and travel near, either by water or rail- 
road, so that all college supplies would have to be 
brought on wheels by ox and horse power. Clinton 
was on the Vicksburg and Jackson Railroad, which 
was now getting into operation, with a prospect of 
extension and being connected with lateral roads 
at, no distant day. This, in addition to its central 
location, gave it a decided advantage over Sharon, 
and a majority of the Board of Commissioners were 
so certain that the location would be made there 
that Hon. J. R. Nicholson, Hon. Henry G. Johnson, 
and Rev. Thomas Ford, of that vicinity, were elected 
members of the Board of Trustees. During the 
flush times in Mississippi, when Brandon money 
could be easily obtained by the shovel full, some 
adventurer, having found a sulphur spring in the 
pine woods about twelve miles northeast of Bran- 
don, concluded to start a great central watering 
place, and for this purpose borrowed Brandon money 
and built two or three large central houses and two 
wings of neat cottages around the spring, with 
grounds and fixtures for amusement. It promised 

448 A Complete History of Methodism 

to flourish for a year or so; but it was far in the 
interior, away from the wealthy, intelligent, and 
pleasure-loving communities of the State, away 
from all commercial supplies, and surrounded by 
an unappreciative community; so that its race was 
short and its downfall certain. When the propri- 
etor saw that it was a failure as a watering place, 
he offered it to Mr. Lane at a low figure for the 
college. He and a few others favored it as our most 
eligible location. They were pleased with the low 
price of the property, the adaptability of the houses 
for college purposes, and the healthy, quiet, forest- 
like appearance of the campus and its surroundings. 
They lost sight of the many inconveniences and 
additional expenses growing out of its isolation 
from commercial depots and thoroughfares, and its 
great distance from the wealthy and college-support- 
ing communities of the Conference. The trustees 
had determined to have a meeting early enough in 
the summer of 1841, at Clinton, to make the loca- 
tion and get the president and professors in time 
to open the college the ensuing fall. The majority 
still favored Clinton; but, fearing that Mr. Lane 
would carry his point if a quorum of the Board 
should be present, Hon. J. R. Nicholson, Hon. Henry 
G. Johnson, and Rev. Thomas Ford absented them- 
selves, hoping thereby to break the quorum and 
defer the location until a further demonstration 
could be made in favor of Clinton. In this they 
were disappointed, a legal quorum being present. 
Had they been in their places, the location would 
have been made at Clinton; or had they apprised 
the friends of Clinton of the cause of their absence, 

In the Mississippi Conference. 449 

the location would have been deferred until they 
should be present. Their absence led to the infer- 
ence that the interest of the community in the col- 
lege had abated, or that they feared they could not 
raise the twenty thousand dollars which they had 
pledged to raise if the location should be made 
there. After a long debate and a patient waiting 
for the absent trustees, the final decision was de- 
ferred until a night session. Still hearing nothing 
from the absent trustees, Clinton was dropped, and 
the contest was then between Sharon and Bran- 
don Springs. Those who were opposed to hiding 
the college out in the woods east of Pearl River 
favored Sharon. There were ten trustees present, 
including the writer, who acted as chairman; and 
after a protracted debate on the relative merits of 
the two places, the vote was taken by ayes and noes. 
The names being called, four voted for Sharon and 
four for Brandon Springs, leaving Thomas Ow r ens 
to give the casting vote. Mr. Owens felt the deli- 
cacy and responsibility of his position; but such 
was his confidence in the judgment of Mr. Lane that 
he was inclined to follow his lead, and gave the 
deciding vote for Brandon Springs. The property 
of the Mississippi College has since fallen into the 
hands of the Baptists, who have both a flourishing 
male and female college there. Rev. Thomas C 
Thornton, D.D., late of the Baltimore Conference, 
was elected President of our college; and with an 
able faculty, he soon had it in operation, with a 
somewhat flattering prospect of ultimate success. 

New Orleans was selected as the place for the 
next Conference. 
Vol 11.— 29 

450 A Complete History of Methodism 

Nearly all of our unoccupied territory had been 
set off .with the Texas and Memphii Conferences ; 
so there was little room for the 'formation of new 
missions and circuits, except for the benefit of the 
colored people, and where the multiplication of 
churches and preachers made it necessary to divide 
the larger circuits into two or more pastoral 
charges. William Winans was continued on the 
Natchez District; William Langarl was stationed 
in Natchez; Benjamin Jones, in Woodville; Elijah 
Steele, at Poydras Street Church, in New Orleans; 
William H. Watkins, at Spain Street Mission; and 
Philip Dieffenworth, at Lafayette Mission. Robert 
D. Smith was elected to the presidency of the Eliz- 
abeth Female Academy; and Thomas Clinton, who 
was very popular both with the planters and their 
negroes, was continued on the Wilkinson Colored 
Mission. Other colored missions in the district 
were supplied by local preachers. 

Barnabas Pipkin was continued on the Baton 
Rouge District, with Samuel W Spear stationed in 
Baton Rouge; Enoch N. Talley, on the Paulding 
District; Green M. Rogers, on the Sharon District, 
with James McClennen stationed in Jackson; Ben- 
jamin A. Houghton, on Lake Providence District; 
John Lane, on the Vicksburg District, with Preston 
Cooper and James Gwinn (supernumerary) sta- 
tioned in Vicksburg, Joshua T. Heard in Raymond 
and Clinton, and Levi Pearce in Port Gibson and 
Grand Gulf. 

Western Louisiana was divided into two districts, 
Alexandria and Monroe, with Richmond Randle 
on the former and David M. Wiggins on the latter. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 451 

Charles K. Marshall and Elias R. Porter, two of 
our most eloquent and popular young ministers, 
were appointed collecting agents for our new col- 

Samuel M. Kingston was transferred to the Ten- 
nessee Conference and B. C. Weir to the Arkansas 

The Conference had greatly improved in the style 
and moral force of the preachers. The four years' 
course of study, rigidly enforced, had developed 
many of our young men into preachers that would 
do for any place in town or country. Numbers of 
them were stirring revivalists, and were instrumen- 
tal in turning many to the Lord. 

The whole territory was covered with a network 
of pastoral charges, the churches and the number 
of the ministers had increased, the circuits were 
made smaller, so that preaching was confined more 
to the Sabbath day, with fewer week-day congrega- 
tions. This gave the preachers more time for study, 
for pastoral visiting, attention to Sabbath schools, 
etc., which most of them improved to both their 
own gdod and the advancement of the Church. 

The numbers in society are not found in the jour- 
nal for this year, but there was considerable in- 
crease, especially in our colored membership. Since 
the introduction of oral catechetical instruction our 
colored missions had been prosperous. 



For this ecclesiastical year we held our Conference 
in the city of New Orleans. This gave the travel- 
worn itinerants a very enjoyable holiday, for few 
of them had ever taken a passage on the great in- 
land sea or seen the great Southern emporium. The 
horses were left at home, or with some friend near 
the port of entry to await the return of the preach- 
ers, who went aboard the palatial steamers for a 
trip of from one to three or four hundred miles. 
This writer descended the mighty river with a cheer- 
ful company of Conference seekers, the central fig- 
ure of which was Dr. Thomas C. Thornton, the newly 
elected President of Centenary College. The Doctor 
was a very agreeable fellow-voyager, and a fluent 
and edifying talker. The river and coast scenery 
was new to most of us, and we were anxious to see 
as much of it as possible. The port of New Orleans, 
wjth its immense variety of wnter craft and miles 
of wharf, was an imposing sight to the inland itin- 
erants ; and the city, with its one hundred thousand 
inhabitants of all nationalities, creeds, and colors, 
was by far the largest city they had ever seen. We 
were very hospitably entertained during our Confer- 
ence, but widely scattered over the city. Street 
cars had not been invented in those days, and in 

In the Mississippi Conference. 453 

going back and forth we had either to walk or take 
a twenty -five-cent ride in an omnibus jolting over 
the bowlder-paved streets. 

Bishop Waugh was present, full of the spirit of 
doing all he could to advance the interests of our 
Church in our great Southwestern city, which had 
so long been under the spiritual domination of a 
misled and misleading priesthood. The Bishop 
opened the Conference with the usual services of 
reading the Holy Scriptures, singing, and prayer, 
to which he added a very feeling and effective ad- 
dress, showing what wonders God had wrought in 
other days and in other places through the instru- 
mentality of Methodism, and what it could also 
accomplish in New Orleans if we were faithful to 
our trust. He exhorted us to pray and labor for a 
revival then and there; to have altar work at the 
co'nclusion of each service, if possible; and to strive 
to get as many souls converted as we could. When 
the Bishop could, he attended our night services, and 
did some good and powerful praying for penitents 
at the altar. He must have been a revivalist in his 
day 01 circuit preaching. The writer was on the 
Committee of Fublic Worship; and as his younger 
colleagues left the matter largely to him, he was 
careful to keep such men in the pulpit as sympa- 
thized with the Bishop's views. God visited his 
people, and several young men were brought under 
the power of saving grace who afterwards entered 
the ministry. Methodism received an impulse that 
placed it on higher ground than it had ever before 
occupied in the Crescent City. 

4:54 A Complete History of Methodism 

Samuel W. Spear was again elected Secretary, 
with John N. Hamill his assistant. 

Thomas C. Thornton presented his certificate of 
transfer from the Baltimore Conference. Twenty 
eight members were present at the first call of the 
roll, and others were soon added. The first day was 
consumed* in arranging the standing and special 
committees, reading communications from Book 
Agents, etc. 

On the second morning the regular disciplinary 
questions were taken up. Fourteen were admitted 
on trial, including Reuben B. Ricketts, who, after 
traveling two years, had been discontinued at his 
own request ; Daniel A. J. Parker, William B. Lewis, 
and James Naconchia were discontinued at their 
own request. Nine remained on trial; nine were 
received into full connection; nine were ordained 
deacons and five elders. Samuel Walker and Ja- 


rob Ellinger, both of the Tennessee Conference, 
were readmitted; Washington Ford and Spen- 
cer Waters were located at their own request; Rob- 
ert R. Gill, Bjron Benton, and Samuel W Han- 
kins were voted a supernumerary relation ; and John 
I. E. Byrd, William Stephenson, Thomas Owens, 
Jesse Lee, and Thomas Clinton were superannuated, 
James Gwinn and Elijah Steele had died. Seven 
were elected to deacon's orders from the local ranks 
and four to elder's orders. 

Rev. Fountain E. Pitts, of the Tennessee Confer- 
ence, came to our Conference to represent the inter- 
ests of the Southwestern Christian Advocate, which 
was patronized extensively within our bounds. By 
his eloquence and the holy unction that attended 

In the Mississippi Conference. 455 

his ministry he made a fine impression for good on 
the congregation and endeared himself to the 

The trustees of Centenary College reported, and 
the report was adopted. The dissatisfaction about 
the location of the college, with other causes, had 
occasioned five vacancies in the original board, and 
B. M. Drake and William Winans were appointed a 
committee to nominate suitable persons to fill said 
vacancies. They nominated Robert D. Smith and 
Elias R. Porter, of the Conference; and Hon. Henry 
Mounger, of Jasper County, G. Felder, of Rankin 
County, and William Lum, of Warren County, lay- 
men. Benjamin M. Drake was appointed auditor 
of the Centenary Fund, and also to receive the mon- 
ey collected for the endowment of the Winans' Pro- 
fessorship of Ancient Languages. 

The trustees of the Elizabeth Female Academy 
made their report, which was adopted, and every- 
thing done to further the interests of the academy 
that the Conference could do; but there had been 
such an emigration of its best patrons to the new 
countries that it was evidently on the decline. 

An encouraging report was received from the 
trustees of the Vicksburg Female Academy. Vacan- 
cies, in the board were filled, and Abner W Chap- 
man was continued in the presidency. 

The Woodville Female Academy was still in suc- 
cessful operation under our patronage, and B. M. 
Drake, Benjamin Jones, and Elias R. Porter were 
appointed a visiting committee. 

The Conference was permitted to draw on the 
Book Concern this year for seven hundred dollars, 

456 A Complete History of Methodism 

and on the Chartered Fund for sixty-nine dollars, 
to bring up the deficient salaries of some of our 
needy preachers and to aid the widows and orphans 
of our deceased brethren. 

Complaints were made against Enoch Whatley, 
the junior preacher on Rankin Circuit; but as they 
were not in a shape to be investigated at Confer- 
ence, the case was referred to the presiding elder of 
the Paulding District for adjudication according to 
the law of the Church ; and the Conference requested 
the Bishop to leave Mr. Whatley without an appoint- 
ment for this year, which request was granted. 

Bradford Frazee was charged in due form with 
"being a common detractor from the ministerial 
character, ministerial talent, and usefulness" of his 
brethren; and specifications were given in relation 
to four ministers with whom he had been more or 
less associated during the past year, including his 
presiding elder and colleague on Madison Circuit. 
His case was referred to a committee of five, con- 
sisting of John G. Jones, Samuel W. Spear, Benja- 
min Jones, Preston Cooper, and William Langarl, 
for investigation, who reported that while the evi- 
dence before them did not sustain the charge in a 
criminal sense, yet the testimony in relation to the 
specifications showed that Mr. Frazee had talked 
incautiously about others. The report was adopted 
and his character passed, and he obtained a transfer 
to the- Michigan Conference. Mr. Frazee was a man 
of fair learning and a fluent and interesting preach- 
er, but he had sharp corners in his social qualities 
that irritated his associates and kept him in trouble 
most of the time. One of his great faults was that 

In the Mississippi Conference. ±57 

of speaking disparagingly of the talents of his min- 
isterial brethren. After two years in the Michigan 
Conference Mr. Frazee located, returned to Missis- 
sippi as a local 'preacher, and died in Warren 

The usual well-filled box of clothing was received 
from the Ladies' Sewing Society at Natchez. The 
box was placed in the hands of the presiding elders 
to be distributed among their most needy preachers. 

During his two years' pastorate at Woodville Eli- 
jah Steele had seemed to grow in favor both with 
God and man. As a refined and elegant gentleman 
he was a model ; but he was infinitely more : he was 
adorned with all the Christian graces ; his piety was 
deep and uniform ; he indeed seemed to be ""un- 
spotted from the world;" his preaching was of the 
very highest order for his age in the ministry. What 
he had to do was promptly done; what he had to 
say was fluently, earnestly, and appropriately said. 
Being a close and successful student, he brought 
out of his treasury things new as well as old. There 
was such a freshness in his sermons that none 
seemed to grow weary in hearing him from Sabbath 
to Sabbath. When appointed to Poydras Street 
Church, in New Orleans, he sensibly felt the respon- 
sibility of his position ; but he did not go there with 
such self -distrust as he went to Port Gibson four 
years previously He entered upon his work in the 
Spirit of his Master, determined to give himself 
wholly to the duties of a faithful pastor. The peo- 
ple soon began to place a high estimate on their new 
pastor. His congregation increased, a religious 
feeling deep and wide began to pervade the attend- 

4:58 A Complete History of Methodism 

ants on his ministry, and there were many evidences 
of his increasing usefulness. Just in the midst of 
these brightening prospects that terrible scourge of 
our Southern cities, yellow fever, became epidemic 
in the city It began to spread with marked fatal- 
ity in August. Mr. Steele determined to remain 
and run the risk of an acclimating. He was calm 
and thoughtful about what might be the result. He 
said he desired to live only to get good and do good; 
he did not feel the least alarmed at the possibility 
of his falling a victim to the fatal epidemic. He 
continued diligent in preaching, attending the social 
meetings of the Church, visiting the bereaved and 
sick, and burying the dead until Monday night, Sep- 
tember 6, when, while leading a missionary prayer 
meeting, he took the fatal chill. His arrangements 
had all been previously made as to where he would 
be sick, who would be his physician, and who his 
nurses. Mr. James Ross, the friend selected to take 
charge of him in case he was attacked, immediately 
took him to his residence, called in his physician, 
and had everything done to mitigate the attack and 
prevent its fatal termination. For two days there 
was considerable hope of his recovery; but after 
this all the indications were that he would die. He 
had become so familiar with the different stages of 
the disease that he was fully apprised of his situa- 
tion. He became most triumphant in prospect of 
laying down the cross and taking up the crown; 
said he had no doubt of his acceptance with God; 
and even in that partial delirium which precedes 
dissolution gave utterance to expressions, "How 
beautiful !" "How glorious!" which exhibited the 

In the Mississippi Conference. 459 

happy frame of mind he enjoyed. Just as he was 
stepping on the other shore he uttered as his last 
dying whisper, "I am safe." He died on Friday, 
September 10, about 4 p.m. His remains were de- 
posited in a copper coffin, then inclosed in one of 
mahogany, and taken to his church, where reli- 
gious services were performed by his colleagues, 
Messrs. Dieffenworth and Watkins, assisted by other- 
Protestant ministers in the city. They were then de- 
posited in the private vault of James Ross, to await 
the action of the Conference, which was to assemble 
in \he city on the 24th of November. In the mean- 
time the Church prepared a substantial white marble 
tomb in the Cypress Grove Cemetery, about two 
miles from the city, as his final resting place until 
the dead in Christ shall rise. At an early hour of 
the Conference, by special request of the official 
board of Poydras Street Church, the Conference 
arranged for a memorial service. The remains were 
again placed in the altar of the Church; and after 
an impressive fifheral discourse from ,Mr. Winans 
on "The child shall die a hundred years old," the 
immense procession of eight or ten hundred people 
with the remains was conveyed by a line of carstothe 
Cypress Grove Cemetery, where the burial service was 
performed beautifully and impressively by Bishop 
Waugh. Thus ended the short but remarkably bril- 
liant, attractive, and useful career of Elijah Steele. 
To the open frankness and simplicity of a child he 
added the nobility of the high-toned and honorable 
Chrigtian gentleman and the purity and disinterest- 
edness of a faithful minister of Jesus Christ. He 
was a little over six feet high and remarkably slen- 

460 A Complete History of Methodism 

der and stood very erect. His countenance was 
sharp, and would not have been considered beauti- 
ful apart from that "wisdom that made his face 
shine." It is sweet to think of meeting such a lovely 
spirit where "there shall be no more night," 

The old file leader, William Winans, was now be- 
yond the meridian of life, and evidently declining 
in physical strength. As preaching orthodox, logic- 
al, and powerful sermons was his strong point, the 
Conference made a unanimous request that he pre- 
pare a volume of his sermons and submit them to 
the Book Committee, at Cincinnati, for publica- 
tion. He reluctantly promised to do it as he might 
find leisure from other imperious duties. A com- 
mittee was appointed to receive and examine in 
manuscript each sermon as it was written as to 
its literary and orthodox merits. In process of time 
he prepared seventeen sermons or, as he styled them, 
"Discourses on Fundamental Religious Subjects;" 
but they were not ready for the press before the 
separation of the Church took pl&ce, so that they 
were not published until 1855, at the Publishing 
House, in Nashville, by Stevenson & Owen. The 
personal friends of Mr. Winans placed a high esti- 
mate on his discourses, and while reading them 
often have the image of the earnest and venerable 
man before the mind as when he delivered them 
originally from the pulpit. 

The reports of committees all having been acted 
on, and votes of thanks having been made to the 
citizens and other Churches for their hospitality in 
entertaining the Conference; and having fixed the 
next annual session to be at Jackson, Miss., No- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 461 

vember 30, 1842, the appointments and adjourn- 
ment closed the first Conference in New Orleans. 

William Winans was continued on the Natchez 
District, with the addition of Baton Rouge; Poy- 
dras Street Church, in New Orleans, was left to 
be supplied; William H. Watkins was stationed at 
Spain Street and Duvergeburg, and William Lan- 
garl at Lafayette; Robert W Kennon was stationed 
at Woodville, and Lewellyn Campbell was President 
of the Elizabeth Female Academy, which was main- 
ly under the control of Mrs. Campbell, a daughter 
of our deceased Texas missionary, Dr. Martin Ruter. 
Richmond Randle was stationed in Natchez, and 
William G. Gould took his place on the Alexandria 
District; Samuel W Spear succeeded Benjamin A. 
Houghton on Lake Providence Mission District, 
while Mr. Houghton was stationed in Jackson, Miss. 
The other districts retained their former presiding 
elders, and remained about as they were the pre- 
vious year. Preston Cooper was continued in Vicks 
burg, and Abnel* W. Chapman in charge of the 
Vicksburg Female Academy 

In addition to the transfer of Bradford Frazee 
to the Michigan Conference, James C. Finley was 
transferred to the 'Illinois Conference and Joshua 
T. Heard to the Alabama Conference. 

This was a year of general prosperity. Nearly all 
of our pastoral charges were given a good average 
preacher, and numbers of them had two preachers. 
The aggregate number of our members now was 
twelve thousand three hundred and ninety-four 
white, six thousand and forty-eight colored, and 
one hundred and ten Indian members, giving us a 

462 A Complete History of Methodism. 

grand total of eighteen thousand five hundred and 
fifty-two.' The net increase for the year was two 
thousand five hundred and twenty-one white, one 
thousand nine hundred and fifty-nine colored, and 
ten Indian members. 



The Mississippi Conference met at Jackson, Miss., 
for the first time November 30, 1842. Bishop An- 
drew was present, and conducted the opening reli- 
gious services. Samuel W Spear was again elected 
Secretary, and John N. Hamill Assistant Secretary. 
The hours for meeting and adjournment were fixed, 
the standing and some special committees appoint- 
ed, and the regular disciplinary questions taken up. 


We were but little more than fairly adjusted in 
our seats when Bishop Andrew had us regularly 
at work. Twenty-one were admitted on trial,* and 
among them a very fair proportion became con- 
spicuous for superior talents and extensive useful- 

Among those who have died we mention James 
H. Merrill, Samuel J. Davies, James Walton, 
Charles A. Whitall, Hayden Sewell, Joab Evans, 
and Thomas Ford. James H. Merrill and Thomas 
Ford died in a local relation. Charles A. Whitall, 
after a few years, took orders in the Protestant 
Episcopal Church. Samuel J. Davies died a mem- 
ber of the Louisiana Conference, and James Walton, 
Hayden Sewell, and Joab Evans died members of 
our Conference. James Walton was one of Nature's 
noblemen; but for twenty years he hesitated to 


464 A Complete History of Methodism 

obey his call to the ministry, which he greatly re- 
gretted in after life. During all that time he was 
an active and liberal layman, and made himself 
felt as a Methodist. He, was public-spirited and 
popular as a citizen, and was elected to represent 
his district in the State Senate only a few years 
before he entered the ministry. In our great revival 
in Starkville (the place of his residence), in 1839, 
he was greatly blessed with a renewed sense of the 
presence and love of God, and entered with his whole 
soul into the work of the revival. His oldest daugh- 
ter, Mary, then about fourteen years old, was the 
first one converted of more than one hundred con- 
verts that year at different meetings. ( In after years 
she married Edwin Philips, one of our best young 
ministers, and made an excellent helpmeet for the 
itinerant.) In a week or ten days a very different 
scene turned up before his vision. He saw people 
of every age and gradation in society, and of all 
professions, brought to Christ. Some one facetious- 
ly remarked that "the Methodists had used up the 
whole Probate Court, judge, clerks, and all," which 
was the case. Judge Ames made an excellent Church 
member. The old Doctor, with all his professional 
knowledge, did not seem to know God's plan of 
working "from the least to the greatest." 

Hayden Sewell was, like Luke, "the beloved phy- 
sician." When he admitted the call of God to the 
work of the ministry, he gave up his profession and 
entered upon the duties of the itinerancy with ear- 
nest and well-directed zeal. He excelled in getting 
souls converted. This seemed to be his main point 
of success. 

In the Mississippi Conference, 465 

The great object of the Christian ministry is to 
"teach transgressors the ways of God and get sin- 
ners converted unto him;" and after a sinner be- 
comes truly penitent, we see no reason why his con- 
version should be deferred a day or an hour if he is 
properly instructed and encouraged. Of the twenty- 
one admitted on trial at this Conference, Calvin A. 
Frazee is a local preacher in Southwestern Louisi- 
ana or Texas, and Philo M. Goodwin is a superan- 
nuated member of the Louisiana Conference. Wil- 
liam R. Nicholson, whose conversion we witnessed 
in a camp meeting altar in 1836, and who became 
one of the most talented and popular young preach- 
ers in our Conference, in a few years left us, with- 
out pausing to bid us affectionately farewell or 
thanking us for being instrumental in making him 
all that he was as a minister, and took orders in 
the Protestant Episcopal Church, for what reason 
is not very definitely known. Within a few years of 
the same time Jesse Lee, of our Conference, and 
William R. Nicholson, Charles A. Whitall, and 
Charles P Qlark, who were set off with the Louisi- 
ana Conference, left the oldest and most scriptural 
Episcopal Church in the United States (the Metho- 
dist Episcopal Chtfrch) and sought orders in the 
.Protestant Episcopal Church, and were all ordained 
except Jesse Lee. 

Charles P. Clark was admitted into the New York 
Conference in 1826, and performed much faithful 
and acceptable service in the itinerancy until 1844, 
when be was transferred from the Troy to the Mis- 
sissippi Conference as a missionary to the French 
population in Louisiana. He had learned to speak 
Vol. n.— 80 

466 A Complete History of Methodism 

the French language fluently, and good results were 
expected from the Mission. ( But he professed to be- 
come terribly alarmed about the proposed separa- 
tion of the Church into a Northern and a Southern 
jurisdiction; said the Methodist Episcopal Church 
was all tumbling to pieces about his ears, and he 
would make his escape from the falling ruin with- 
out delay; and he bolted into the Protestant Epis- 
copal Church. Clark left the French of Southern 
Louisiana to perish in their hereditary ignorance 
of the true faith; and the last we heard of him 
he was going glimmering to the great West, hunting 
for a place to preach. 

Daniel A. J. Parker is still effective in our Con- 
ference ; and Joseph Nicholson, after many years of 
hard and faithful service on colored mission*, piny 
woods circuits, and districts, is now a sweet-spirited 
old minister, reposing on the superannuated roll. 

Twelve were continued on trial, while George W 
Goza, Anthony T. Simmons, Abner W. Chapmafi, 
and James Adams were discontinued at their own 
request.* As the journal showed that Reuben B. 
Ricketts had traveled two consecutive years befoife 
he was discontinued at his own request, to which he 
had now added a third year, it was moved and car- 
ried that he be now received into full connection^ 
and elected to deacon's orders. Seven were received 
into full connection and ordained deacons, and four 
to elder's orders. Jacob Ellinger, formerly of the 
Tennessee Conference, Henry T. Jones, late of the 
Georgia and Alabama Conferences, and Isaac Tay- 
lor and David O. Shattuck, formerly of our Con- 
ference, were readmitted. Asbury H. Shanks had 

In the Mississippi Conference. 467 

been transferred to us from the Alabama Confer- 
ence, but for some reason he was superannuated, 
and does not appear in the list of appointments 
until the next year. Alexander S. Parker, Joshua 
I. Jones, Cotman Methven, Daniel Leggett, and By- 
ron Benton were located at their own request ; Enoch 
N. Talley, John G. Jones, Asbury H. Shanks, Sam- 
uel Walker, Jesse Lee, Samuel W. Hankins, Wil- 
liam Stephenson, and Thomas Owens were superan- 
nuated ; and Alexander M. Whitnev had died at his 
post of duty. From the local ranks sixteen were 
elected to deacon's orders, and five to the office of 

Alexander M. Whitney was the son of Hon. John 
M. and Clarissa Whitney, and was born in Adams 
County, Miss., January 19, 1837; but grew to man- 
hood near Fayette, Jefferson County, Miss., where 
his father had settled on a plantation. His grandr 
father Whitney was one of John Paul's (alias (Paul 
Jones's) privateers in his celebrated sea fights with 
the British men-of-war during the Revolution- 
ary War, and his mother was a lineal descendant 
of the venerable Rev. Samuel Swayze, mentioned in 
the early part of this History as the first Protes- 
tant minister that 'ever came to the Natchez coun- 
try. Both his parents were substantial and liberal 
members of our Church, and by their example and 
influence contributed largely to the building up 
and perpetuity of Methodism at Fayette. Alexan- 
der was sent to Augusta College, in Kentucky, where 
he received a liberal English education. He was 
from his childhood remarkably exemplary in his 
moral deportment. At the age of eighteen he was 

468 A Complete History of Methodism 

brought under strong religious feelings, and com- 
mitted himself fully to seeking the sensible forgive- 
ness of his sins. His state of penitence was con- 
nected with some peculiar trials. At one time he 
felt that he was called of God to preach, and that 
probably he never would be converted until he at- 
tempted to preach; at another time he would be 
tempted that the whole of his concern on the sub- 
ject of religion was merely human excitement, if 
not Satanic influence. His extreme modesty and. 
diffidence prevented him, for a time, from revealing 
the unhappy state of his mind to his spiritual 
guides; but finally he unbosomed himself, was 
soon led into the light, and received a satisfactory 
evidence of his acceptance in Christ. He soon con- 
sented that it was his duty to preach the gospel; 
but such was his extreme diffidence that it was pain- 
ful to witness with what fear and trembling he 
made his first efforts. He was admitted on trial 
in December, 1838, at the Grenada Conference. In 
1839 he was the junior preacher on Madison Cir- ' 
cuit, and spent most of his rest days in and near 
Sharon, where the writer then lived; and we be- 
came greatly attached to him as a modest, prudent. • 
earnest, and diligent young preacher. Though 
brought up in the lap of ease and affluence, he never 
demurred to going any distance from home or to 
any circuit, no matter how laborious or sickly it 
might be. His last appointment was to Chicot Cir- 
cuit, embracing Cheneyville, south of Alexandria, 
La. On the first day of October, 1842, while preach- 
ing to a Sabbath congregation in Cheneyville, he 
was taken suddenly ill with what proved to be an 

In the Mississippi Conference 469 

insidious attack of congestive fever. He closed his 
sermon hastily, and went to the house of John Dun- 
wody, which had been the hospitable stopping place * 
for all itinerant preachers from the days of the 
sainted Richmond Nolley, and continued to be un- 
til the old patriarch was transferred to paradise. 
Here Mr. Whitney was nursed with care and tender- 
ness by Mr. and Mrs. Dunwody. For several days 
they did not think his case was dangerous, but he 
constantly expressed the belief that he would not 
recover. Not long before his attack he had been con- 
versing with Mrs. Dunwody on the most desirable 
frame of mind to have in death, and expressed his 
preference for that of prayer rather than praise. 
On the fifth day of his illness he received great com- 
fort in listening to Mrs. Dunwody reading portions 
of Scripture at his bedside. Soon after she ceased 
to read he requested all present to unite with him 
in prayer. He led with unusual appropriateness 
and earnestness, and prayed with more than ordi- 
nary length. The burden of his prayer was for 
dying grace. He closed his prayer with his usual 
distinct "Amen." He then asked his physician if 
he considered him in the full possession of his men- 
tal faculties. The physician assured him that he 
was. He then expressed his gratitude to God for 
a praying frame of mind, and asked Mrs. Dunwody 
if she recollected their late conversation on the most 
desirable frame of mind in which to die. He re- 
quested the family to write to his parents, and then 
almost immediately fell asleep in Jesus. Richmond 
Nolley no longer sleeps alone in Louisiana soil ; 
scores of others, including traveling and local 

4:70 A Complete History of Methodism 

preachers, have fallen on that battlefield covered 
with honorable scars, and now await the resurrec- 
tion of the just. The Conference requested B. M. 
Drake to preach a funeral sermon on Tuesday night 
in memory of our deceased young brother, and 
also instructed the Secretary to "communicate the 
sympathies of this Conference to his bereaved par- 

Before we lose sight of the fact, we wish to say 
to the reader that of the twenty-one admitted on 
trial at this Conference seven were recommended by 
the various charges in New Orleans. The triumphant 
death of Elijah Steele, in connection with the good 
impressions made by our Conference soon after, 
proved a blessing to the Church in that city, and 
seemed to be the means of awakening the young 
men of the Church to a sense of their duty to God 
and the souls of men. We know of no better evi- 
dence of a living, growing Church than to see their 
young men entering the ministry and devoting their 
lives to the salvation of their fellow-men. A Church 
that never produces a preacher is a very unpro- 
ductive Church. He whose sole prerogative it is 
to call and send forth more laborers generally hon- 
ors, sooner or later, every true, living, active Church 
by calling some of her young men to the work of the 
ministry. And every Church should not only pray 
for an increase of laborers, with a willingness to see 
her own sons, brothers, and husbands enter the 
field, but should constantly be on the lookout for 
such cases and give all pious young men who 
are exercised on the subject of preaching timely 
advice and encouragement. God's chosen vessels to 

In the Mississippi Conference. 471 

bear his name before the people are generally mod- 
est and self-distrusting, and need to be nursed into 
the ministry by more experienced Christians. It 
is a «ign of spiritual deadness for any settled Church 
organization never to produce a preacher. 

Those of us who had long and prayerfully watched 
the slow rise and progress of Methodism in New 
Orleans were greatly encouraged at the admission of 
seven candidates for the ministry at one time from 
the city. 

Our educational interests were all duly consid- 
ered by the Conference, reports on each of our 
institutions being made by committees appointed 
for that purpose. The most difficult case to manage 
was Centenary College, at the Brandon Springs. 
The Board of Trustees, the President and Faculty, 
with our two superior traveling agents, Messrs. 
Marshall and Porter, were all doing their best to 
make a first-class college, and their united efforts 
were attended with some success; but all began to 
fear that the college was in the wrong place; it 
was too far from all the usual feeders of a pros- 
perous college. Our people have been slow to learn 
that if we wish our seminaries of learning and 
our churches to be well filled we must put them 
right in the midst of the people whose patronage 
we expect, instead of hiding them out in the sub- 
urbs or putting them away from public highways 
because we can get a cheaper lot by so doing. We 
should rather place them like a city set on a hill 
that cannot be hid, so that their presence and ac- 
cessibility will encourage patronage. The great er- 
ror committed in the location of the first Centenary 

4:72 A Complete History of Methodism 

College was placing it far away from the patroni- 
zing public. 

President Thornton was appointed by the Confer- 
ence to visit the Arkansas Conference in the interest 
of Centenary College. 

About 1836 or 1837 a Union College and Female 
Academy were projected at Sharon, Madison Coun- 
ty, Miss., and had several years of encouraging pros- 
perity on the self-supporting plan. The writer, who 
then lived in Sharon, exposed himself to censure 
for giving it as his opinion that the schools on the 
union plan would beget jealousies and strife and 
would become a failure in the end. This proved to 
be the result sooner than we anticipated. Those 
who were the legitimate owners of the property of 
the two schools sent a delegation to this Confer- 
ence duly authorized to place the real estate and 
all the buildings under the entire control of the 
Conference, provided we would patronize and gov- 
ern the schools as we did our other seminaries. John 
G. Jones, Green M. Rogers, and Thomas Owens were 
appointed a committee to take the communication 
from Sharon under consideration and report to the 
Conference. The committeee reported in favor of 
accepting the proposition from Sharon, which re- 
port was adopted by the Conference; so that from 
this date the Sharon schools, known as Madison 
College and Sharon Female Academy, have been 
under our control and patronage. Being off the line 
of railroad communication, Sharon is now looked 
upon as somewhat inaccessible; and most of the orig- 
inal trustees and many of the first patrons having 
died, the schools are now in a depressed condition. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 473 

But whatever may be their future history, we have 
many good reasons for gratitude to God for their 
past existence. In their more than thirty years' 
existence many fine scholars, both male and female, 
have been made there; and in the numerous reviv- 
als in the schools and Sharon Church scores of 
pupils, who in their various localities have proved 
themselves to be good Christians, have been convert- 
ed. In the cemetery adjoining the church reposes 
the dust of some of the best Christian men and 

Rev. Leroy Swormstedt, the Book Agent at Cin- 
cinnati, was present at our Conference and, after 
submitting the yearly exhibit of the Book Concern, 
began to press the collection of its claims with his 
characteristic promptness and pertinacity He suc- 
ceeded very well in collecting what was due the 
Western Book Concern, except in six cases. In one 
case the parties were not even members of our 
Church, and in the other five they were ministers 
who had located. Mr. Swormstedt turned their 
accounts over to the Conference, and the Conference 
placed them in the hands of the preachers and pre- 
siding elders Avho might have charge of their va- 
rious localities for* immediate collection or addi- 
tional security. As one of a union of Annual Con- 
ferences we were part owners of our publishing 
houses, and hence both duty and interest required 
us to cooperate with the Agents in collecting their 
claims. Mr. Swormstedt was popular among us 
both as a minister of superior talents and as Book 
Agent, and after he had concluded his agency among 
us for the present the Conference, by a rising and 

474 A Complete History of Methodism 

unanimous vote, "tendered him their thanks for his 
faithful and energetic discharge of his duties as Book 

Rev. William Capers, D.D., of the South Carolina 
Conference, was at this time one of the traveling 
Secretaries of our Connectional Missionary Socie- 
ty ; and not being able to visit our Conference in per- 
son, he wrote us a very impressive letter on the 
subject of increased liberality to the missionary 
cause. From the resolutions that followed the 
reading of this letter in favor of greatly increased 
liberality we infer that it had a profound effect on 
the Conference. 

Rev. John B. McFerrin, as Editor of the South- 
ivestem Christian Advocate, published at Nashville, 
Tenn., was present at our Conference in the interest 
of that paper. As it was the adopted organ of our 
Conference, we took a lively interest in its cir- 
culation and renewed our pledge to sustain it. 
The Conference, "by a rising and unanimous 
vote, highly approved of Brother McFerrin as the 

Horace M. Booth, an educated young man and 
an exemplary and faithful young minister, was 
at this Conference eligible to elder's orders, and 
by his brethren was considered worthy and well 
qualified for that high and holy office; but he had 
weighed what he considered the necessary qualifica- 
tions of an elder, and the import of the vows he 
was required to take, with all their additional re- 
sponsibilities and duties, until he felt constrained to 
ask the Conference not to elect him until he had 
further time to seek a better mental and spiritual 

Jn the Mississippi Conference. 475 

qualification for the duties and responsibilities of 
the high ministerial order. 

The committee Appointed to examine the class 
of thcsecond year had men on it who were inclined 
to 1>e ultra and too exacting. Being governed by 
their report, the Conference at first rejected five 
of the seven candidates for admission into full con- 
nection and election to deacon's orders; but, after 
time for deliberation and inquiry into the character 
of the examination the young men underwent, their 
cases were severally reconsidered and they were 
admitted and elected. 

We make the course of study imperious on our 
undergraduates, and their ■ annual examinations 
should be literally and intelligently confined to that 
course of study. 

The case of Enoch Whatley, which last year was 
referred to the presiding elder of the district in 
which he might live, and for which reason he had 
been left without appointment, had not been at- 
tended to; and it again came before the Conference. 
Mr. Whatley not being- present, and his representa- 
tive stating that there were "serious complaints 
against him," his case was again referred to the 
presiding elder of the district in which he might 
be found for immediate investigation according to 
the Discipline. Perhaps we shall learn, after a year 
or so f more,.what finally became of this troublesome 

The examining committees for the next Confer- 
ence were announced by Bishop Andrew, that of 
the second year being increased from three to five. 

WoodviIle,.liiss., was elected as the place of our 

476 A Complete History of Methodism 

next meeting, and Bishop Andrew gave the time 
as November 29, 1843. 

The appointments were announced* and we ad- 
journed in peace and love. 

The newly named pastoral charges now found in 
the General Minutes were all made from parts of 
the older charges, and the same may be said of the 
newly named districts. Our whole Conference terri- 
tory was, to some extent, occupied, and our work 
now consisted mostly in developing, filling up, and 
maturing the charges already in hand. We had 
nine districts and seventy-five pastoral charges, in- 
cluding our colored missions. The names of several 
districts were changed to suit their newly adjusted 
territory, and one additional district was made. 
The presiding elders were as last year, except Sam- 
uel W. Spear, whose district had been absorbed. 

John N. Hamill, who took the place of Enoch N. 
Talley on the Paulding District, and Lewellyn Camp- 
bell, who was appointed on the remodeled Vicks- 
burg District, were new presiding elders, having 
never filled the office before. Mr. Hamill was a very 
self-sacrificing and devoted minister of the gospel. 
Except a little apparent tediousness at times, Mr. 
Hamill was a choice preacher, and his clear expo- 
sitions of the Word of God were listened to with 
great interest. Lewellyn Campbell was, in some re- 
spects, a man different in style from most men. He 
had been brought up an orphan without any of kin- 
dred blood within his knowledge. His early educa- 
tional advantages were quite limited; but he pos- 
sessed a capacious intellect susceptible of vast ex- 
pansion. He early acquired a taste for reading and 

In the Mississippi Conference. 477 

research, and was capable of investigating profita- 
bly the largest historical and theological works ex- 
tant. After weighing a subject carefully in all its 
bearings, he formed his conclusions independently. 
He wrote but little for the public eye. In preaching 
he was wholly extemporaneous. His mission seemed 
to be one of instruction, reproof, and admonition. 
He was for driving away all false doctrines and un- 
gcriptural dogmas, as well as all practices of evil 
tendency. People sometimes pretended to be of- 
fended at his plainness of speech, and yet he was a 
very popular preacher. His style of preaching was 
elevated, and there was nothing either in his lan- 
guage or manner unbecoming the dignity of the 
pulpit; but O what blistering, raking sermons we 
have sometimes heard him preach ! Theories of dan- 
gerous tendency, false doctrines of every shade, and 
negative and positive vices in all their forms would 
be exposed in their most self-condemning colors. 
We have seldom heard such sermcns, except from 
our dear old presiding elder, Thomas Griffin. Mr. 
Campbell made an excellent executive officer, and 
had the esteem and entire confidence of all the 
preachers in his charge. He was not what we usu- 
ally term a revivalist, and had the good sense to 
know that his talents did not take that direction. 
But he was a firm believer in the great advantages 
of emotional, revival exercises, and never failed to 
put forward at his protracted and camp meetings 
the men who were gifted and successful in that de- 
partment of the work ; and he . never seemed more 
happy than when any one of his colleagues became 
instrumental in producing a great religious excite- 

478 A Complete History of Methodism 

ment in his large congregations. Mr. Campbell had 
a paragraph in his Christian experience that ought 
to be very edifying to many of his brethren. When 
he was appointed presiding elder, it took him far 
away from his family, and often so much off the 
mail routes that he could seldom hear from home. 
In this condition he was continually teased with 
the fear that his wife or one of his children might 
sicken and die in his absence. It occurred to his 
mind that this restless and annoying anxiety about 
his family grew out of his want of that "perfect 
love that casteth out fear" and his want of an en- 
tire consecration of his all to the work of the min- 
istry; and, to use his own language, he said: "I 
asked God to sanctify me wholly, and he did it ; and 
since that time I have had but little anxiety about 
sickness and death in my family when away from 
home, doing my Master's work." 

In New Orleans William R. Nicholson was ap- 
pointed to Poydras Street ; William Langarl, to La- 
fayette; William H. Watkins, to Moreau Street; 
Frederick P Nixon, to Duvergeburg; Charles A. 
Whitall, to the Seamen's Mission. Carrollton and the 
African Church were left to be supplied. This was 
a more encouraging state of affairs than we had 
ever before witnessed in the city and its environs. 
It was like the dawn of a bright day after a long 
and gloomy night. Mr. Whitall, who was appointed 
to the Seamen's Mission, was himself a practical 
sailor, and had acquired the title of Captain from 
having at one time been in command of a merchant 
vessel. He was well versed in nautical phrases, and 
could find ready access to the confldtince and hearts 

In the Mississippi Conference. 479 

of the sailors. In addition to organizing a Church 
among them and attending to all the usual pastoral 
duties, it was further required of him to distribute 
the Holy Scriptures in the various languages of the 
nationalities represented in the port of New Or- 
leans. He seemed both in spirit and talents to be 
well adapted to the work which had been assigned 
him. He became very popular among the sons of the 
ocean, who looked upon him as one of themselves. 

Thomas C. Thornton, D.D., was continued in the 
presidency of Centenary College, David O. Shattuck 
was continued as Professor of Law, and C. K. Mar- 
shall and E. R. Porter as Agents for the Endow- 
ment Fund. 

We had this year a fair supply of preachers for 
the whole work. 

Last year our protege", Erastus R. Strickland, 
whose movements we noted with affectionate inter- 
est, was appointed to Opelousas Circuit, in South- 
western Louisiana. At a great sacrifice of home in- 
terests and domestic comforts he crossed the Father 
of Waters, and entered cheerfully on his work. After 
getting fairly out of the great Mississippi swamp, 
he was greatly delighted with the beautiful level 
and fertile Opeloufeas County, covered with fine 
plantations and prairies interspersed with forests of 
luxuriant timber. This had once been the circuit of 
Elisha W Bowman, Richmond Nolly, Thomas Nix- 
on, and many others; but now it was his circuit, 
and he would go to work to improve it in every 
particular. Old churches must be repaired and im- 
proved and new ones built, the people must be visited 
and invited to attend the preaching of the word and 

480 A Complete History of Methodism 

the ordinances of the house of God, the Bible must 
be circulated, especially among the Catholic popu- 
lation, with a good supply of religious tracts and 
small volumes, and the periodicals of the Church 
must be taken and read. As the result of his year's 
work, he was able to report a net increase of eighty 
white and eighty-five colored members, and among 
his net gains were several French and Spanish 
Catholics. This, with other successful assaults on 
the fortifications of sin and Satan, exposed him to 
some persecution; but in the midst of it all he en- 
joyed sweet communion with God and was happy in 
his work. The present year his name stands on Chi- 
cot Circuit, adjoining Opelousas, with James H. 
Stokes as his colleague ; and as Opelousas was left to 
be supplied, our impression is that he still labored 
considerably on that. He worked in his usual way. 
He had a talent for letting the people know he was 
about and intent on building up the Church. As 
no statistics were reported from Chicot last year, 
we cannot tell precisely what his net increase this 
year was, but we know it was very considerable 
for that country v Preachers who have labored only 
in well-ordered Protestant communities can form 
but a faint idea of the difficulties to be overcome in 
Southwestern Louisiana. It is easier to get a score 
of persons into the Church in some well-instructed 
communities than one in that heterogeneous popu- 
lation./ At the end of this year Mr. Strickland, 
having been to college, studying and practicing hard- 
ships for two years (the usual term required for 
graduation), returned to the East. We would like 
to give the reader a description of our old friend 

In the Mississippi Conference. 481 

as a preacher if we knew how. He is rather too 
prosy to be called poetical and too practical to be 
called romantic, and yet he is both poetical and 
romantic. He delights in tropes and illustrations 
taken from the great works of art and of nature; 
he likes to catch at the lightning vibrations of the 
telegraph, the breakneck speed of the railroad train, 
the resistless plunge of the ocean steamer over the 
mighty deep, the rolling billows, earthquakes, 
storms, and tempests, majestic mountains, and the 
grandeur of the whirling spheres, to illustrate some 
Bible truth he has in hand. Others without his 
peculiar caste of mind would break the force of 
truth by attempting to use such gorgeous imagery 
by way of illustration, but he does not because it 
is natural with him to do it. In his prime he had a 
fine voice for strength and distinctness ; his sermons 
were always very enjoyable. He is full of Chris- 
tian sympathy, and his peculiar way of expressing 
the effusions of his heart makes what he says go to 
the hearts of his hearers. 

Notwithstanding many of our members annually 
emigrated to Texas, our net increase this year shows 
it to have been a prosperous year. We had an in- 
crease of one thousand one hundred and sixty white 
and one thousand and thirty colored members, and 
a decrease of seven Indians. 

We omitted to mention in the usual connection 
that Thomas Benn and Solomon Holford, both of 
whom came to us from the Arkansas Conference by 
the retrocession of Louisiana, were transferred, Mr. 
Benn to the Erie Conference and Mr. Holford to the 
Arkansas Conference. 
Vol. II.—31 



The Conference which closed our ministerial work 
for 1843 and inaugurated that for 1844 assembled 
at Woodville Miss., Npvember 29, 1843. Bishop 
Soule was present as the responsible presiding offi- 
cer, accompanied by Bishop Andrew, who took part 
in conducting the business of the Conference. Sam- 
uel W. Spear was again elected Secretary. 

We had an unusual number of the celebrities of 
the Church present at this Conference. In addition 
to an extra bishop, Rev. John F. Wright, one of the 
Book Agents at Cincinnati, was present. Iter. John 
B. McFerrin, Editor of the Southwestern Christian 
Advocate, published at Nashville, Tenn., was pres- 
ent. It was adopted as one of the General Confer- 
ence papers by the General Conference of 1836 at 
the joint recommendation of the Tennessee, Mis- 
sissippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Holston Confer- 
ences, to which the Memphis Conference was added 
after its organization. Thomas Stringfield, of the 
Holston Conference, was elected by the General Con- 
ference its first Editor, and for this reason was 
transferred to the Tennessee Conference. A special 
committee was appointed to report on the present 
condition and future prospects of the Southwestern 
Clvristian Advocate, consisting of Thomas C, Thorn- 
(482) ^ 

In the Mississippi Conference. 483 

ton, Enoch N. Talley, and Asbury H. Shanks. Presi- 
dent Thornton prepared an elaborate report, to 
which were appended five appropriate resolutions, 
all of which report and resolutions were cordially 
adopted by the Conference. The report sets forth 
the following facts: At the General Conference of 
1840 the Southwestern Christian Advocate was 
found to be f 14,000 in debt, with, as we learn from 
the journals of the General Conference, outstanding 
claims of about $18,000, one-half of which it was 
thought could be collected. The General Confer- 
ence agreed to appropriate $7,000 from the Book 
Concern to liquidate one-half of the indebtedness 
of the paper ; and in case it could not pay the other 
half and live on its own resources after that, it was 
to be put into liquidation and turned over to the 
Tennessee Conference to be settled up to the best 
advantage. The General Conference of 1840 elected 
Rev. Charles A. Davis, of the Baltimore Conference, 
its Editor for the ensuing four years; but for some 
cause Mr. Davis failed to ascend the tripod, and 
the Tennessee Conference, whose prerogative it was 
to fill all vacancies ad interim, elected Rev. John B. 
McFerrin its Editor. Mr. McFerrin took a practi- 
cal view of the situation and went to work in ear- 
nest, determined to pay off the old debt and make 
the paper self-supporting. By the present date he 
had reduced the old debt to a small amount and re- 
ported that the income of the paper more than paid 
all current expenses, that the number of subscrib- 
ers had increased to six thousand, and that for the 
past year more new subscriptions had been received 
from the Mississippi and Alabama Conferences than 

484: A Complete History of Methodism 

any other two of the patronizing Conferences. Both 
the committee and Conference earnestly recom- 
mended our ensuing General Conference to continue 
Mr. McFerrin in the editorial chair, which was ac- 
cordingly done. 

Rev. William Capers, D.D., our Southern Mission- 
ary Secretary, was also present, representing our 
missionary operations and collecting funds for our 
general missionary treasury. He was a great fa- 
vorite with the Mississippians. 

Among our noted visitors at this Conference we 
also mention Rev. Edmund S. Janes, of the New 
York Conference, who came as a Financial Secretary 
of the American Bible Society. Not only his supe- 
rior pulpit abilities but his deep piety and unaffect- 
ed gospel simplicity endeared him to our Confer- 
ence. William Winans, Samuel W Spear, and Ben- 
jamin M. Drake were appointed a committee to con- 
fer with Dr. Janes on the subject of his agency, or, 
as the journal expresses it, "On the Bible Cause;" 
and they submitted an able report in favor of the 
American Bible Society, pledging it our unquali- 
fied support, whereupon Dr. Janes and Bishop 
Soule addressed the Conference, in their cogent 
style, in favor of the glorious effort being made by 
the united Protestant Churches to spread the Holy 
Scriptures, which are able to make all who read 
them "wise unto salvation" all over the world. It 
was doubtless this visit of Dr. Janes to the South- 
ern Conferences that elevated him at the General 
Conference, held a few months subsequently, to the 
episcopal office which he has filled, and yet fills, 
with so much fidelity. 

In the "Mississippi Conference. 485 


It seemed utterly impossible to get our Northern 
brethren to understand and appreciate our true 
position in the slaveholding States ; and being large- 
ly in the majority, they would elect no man to the 
episcopal office, however well qualified he might be, 
who was connected with the ownership of slaves. 
We did not object to having a slaveholding bishop, 
provided he was worthy and well qualified for the 
office and sufficiently acquainted by practical obser- 
vation with the state of affairs in the South not to 
be throwing obstacles in the way of our success in 
laboring for the salvation both of master and slave. 
Bishops Asbury, McKendree, Roberts, and Soule 
never owned a. negro, and yet the slave owners of 
the South were always well pleased with their ad- 
ministration because they had mingled freely among 
them and had the good sense to understand and 
appreciate their providential circumstances. 

Dr. Janes was not a member of the General Con- 
ference of 1844, but he was present, it being held 
in the bounds of his Annual Conference, and he 
being on hand as a Financial Agent of the American 
Bible. Society. It had been determined to elect two 
additional bishops, and the Southern delegates be- 
gan to look around for a man who, in addition to 
all other qualifications, had a sufficient practical 
knowledge of Southern institutions to avoid those 
blunders in' his administration which would serious- 
ly hinder our usefulness both "to the bond and the 
free," when Benjamin M. Drake, of the Mississippi 
Conference, suggested Edmund S. Janes as the most 
desirable man in their reach. The suggestion was 
accepted almost unanimously by the Southern dele- 

486 A Complete History of Methodism 

gates and by a sufficient number of conservative 
men in the North and West to secure his election; 
and at the few Conferences he held in the South, 
before the separation of the Church, he was highly 
esteemed as a presiding officer. 

Immediately upon organization Conference en- 
tered on its routine business. The needed number 
of standing and special committees having been ap- 
pointed and several communications having been 
read and referred to appropriate committees, the 
first question, "Who are admitted on trial?" was 
taken up, and twelve were admitted. In giving this 
number we have to correct both the journal and the 
General Minutes, the former giving eleven and the 
latter thirteen as the number admitted. Two of 
the number, Malachi' Dubose and Charles Bremar, 
were from New Orleans. It does not follow as a 
matter of course that all who are recommended bv 


the Quarterly Conferences are admitted at the An- 
nual Conference, for unless the case is a clear one 
they undergo a rigid scrutiny as to their personal 
piety, talents, and prospective improvement in all 
the elements of ministerial ability and usefulness. 
Several applications were rejected at this Confer- 
ence. Of those admitted, several have become con- 
spicuous in talents and usefulness, among whom we 
may mention John Pipes, of the Louisiana Confer- 
ence, and John W Harman, late of our Conference. 
Lewis Tiner, Edward F Thwing, and Thomas 
Ford were discontinued at their own request ; twen- 
ty were continued on trial; ten were received into 
full connection, nine of whom were ordained dea- 
cons, Samuel Dawson having been previously or- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 487 

dained as a local preacher; six were elected and 
ordained elders; William C. Payne, formerly of the 
Tennessee Conference, Richard M. Crowson, late of 
the Alabama Conference, and David Kinnear, late of 
the Missouri Conference, were readmitted in elder's 
orders; Reuben B. Ricketts, Enoch N. Talley, John 
J. Robertson, Charles K. Marshall, Isaac Taylor, 
Lorenzo D. Langford, Jacob Ellinger, and Enoch 
Whatley obtained locations; John G. Jones, Sam- 
uel Walker, Jesse Lee, William Stephenson, Thomas 
Owens, Thomas Clinton, and Richmond Randle were 
voted a superannuated relation, and Samuel W 
Hankins had died; six local preachers were elected 
to deacon's and five to elder's orders. 

Green M. Rogers was appointed to write the mem- 
oir of Samuel W. Hankins, but for some unknown 
reason it does not appear in the General Minutes. 
He was admitted on trial into the Tennessee Confer- 
ence in November, 1833, and was appointed to Nee- 
ly's Grove School, in the Cherokee Nation. At the 
end of this year he was transferred to the South 
Carolina Conference, but for some now unknown 
cause turned up in the Georgia Conference and 
was appointed to Nassau. In December, 1836, he 
located, and soon after came, with a small family, 
to Mississippi. In December, 1839, he entered the 
Mississippi Conference by readmission, and in 1840 
his name stands on the Derbonne Circuit, in North- 
ern Louisiana. In 1841 and 1842 he was superan- 
nuated, and sometime during the latter year he 
died, leaving a dependent family to share the little 
pittance collected annually for the widows and or- 
phans of those who have died in the work. His 
wife and children received their pro rata share of 

488 A Complete History of Methodism 

the meager fund as long as they were claimants, 
though he had done us but one year's service. 

We received communications from the Genesee 
and New York Conferences, asking us to concur in 
a petition to the General Conference to alter the 
General Rule in reference to buying, selling, and 
holding slaves. With only one exception, the entire 
Conference of sixty-four votes voted nonconcur- 
rence. Our Conference was never what abolition- 
ists call proslavery, but was perhaps universally 
in favor of a gradual and judiciously conducted 
emancipation, which would ruin neither master nor 
slave. As to slavery itself, we did not feel our- 
selves responsible for its existence or perpetuity. 
We found it in existence here when we were born, 
and its existence and perpetuity guaranteed by the 
Constitution of the United States and the Consti- 
tutions and laws of the several slave States; and 
while as citizens of the country we felt free to. exer- 
cise our franchises at the ballot box as we saw 
proper, in our ecclesiastical judicatories we would 
allow no interference with the civil institutions 
of the country. We felt that our calling was to 
preach "the gospel of the grace of God" with all 
earnestness and sincerity both to the bond and free, 
and to have interfered with domestic slavery would 
have shut us off not only from the privilege of 
preaching to the slaves but also to many of their 
owners. With many of the most enlightened states- 
men of our Southern country, we believed that 
African slavery would terminate some day and 
somehow, but we did not believe that opinion any 
reason why we should let the current generations 

In the Mississippi Conference. 489 

of negro slaves go down to death and hell without 
the enlightened and persistent offers of salvation 
from^sin and its eternal consequences through the 
gospel of the Son of God, and hence we always 
included them in our pastoral charges as far as 
we could have access to them; and when the way 
was open, we established regular missions among 
them to the utmost of our ability to supply them with 
competent pastors. We knew that we often exposed 
ourselves to the ridicule and contempt of a few 
wealthy, proud, and wicked slaveholders, but we 
were quite willing to bear that for the blessed privi- 
lege of preaching and instructing so many of the 
benighted sons and daughters of Africa. We have 
had our reward in seeing so many of them added 
to the household of faith, and that reward will be 
infinitely augmented when the secrets of all hearts 
shall be revealed. In some of our Southern Confer- 
ences there were at times bitter controversies on 
the subject of slavery, but the journal of our Con- 
ference from its beginning, in 1813, to the present 
writing, in 1875, has never been disfigured, in a sin- 
gle instance, with an entry interfering with this or 
any other civil institution of the country We 
passed many resolutions to preach the gospel to 
slaves as effectually as possible and to do all we 
might be permitted to do for their mental and moral 
improvement; but as they were in bondage by the 
Constitution and laws of the United States and of 
the several slave States, we were always determined, 
as a body of Christian ministers, to leave their fu- 
tur Jtopaeipation to our enlightened statesmen and 
the providence of God. 

490 A Complete History of Methodism 

We also received a communication from the New 
York Conference invoking our concurrence in a peti- 
tion to the General Conference to change our Gen- 
eral Rule on the subject of "drunkenness, or drink- 
ing spirituous liquors, unless in cases of necessity." 
We voted sixty-two nonconcuring against only two 
concurring. As a Conference we have always been 
loval to our General Rules. 

About this date the subject of publishing a well- 
selected and uniform Social and Domestic Library 
was agitated throughout the connection. Bishop 
Soule read a paper to the Conference on the sub- 
ject and suggested the appointment of a committee 
to consider the matter and report at a future day 
Benjamin A. Houghton, William Wlnans, Elias R. 
Porter, Benjamin M. Drake, and John Lane were 
appointed the committee, and a succeeding resolu- 
tion instructed them to inquire into the propriety 
of petitioning the General Conference to publish a 
Theological Library also. The committee made their 
report, but the journal does not give us any light on 
the subject. 

Sundry donations for the most needy of our 
preachers wore sent to us from "the sisters at 
Natchez and elsewhere," which were placed in the 
hands of the presiding elders for distribution. The 
Secretary was instructed to make suitable acknowl- 
edgments. We were authorized to draw on the Book 
Concern for five hundred dollars and on the Char- 
tered Fund for forty dollars. 

We could not at once give up our old plan of sit- 
ting with closed doors during the examination of 
character, and a resolution passed to that effect 

tn the Mississippi Conference. 491 

at this Conference. A motion was afterwards made 
to permit the preachers on trial to be present as 
spectators during the examination of character, but 
it was lost and they had to pass their time out of 
doors as best they could. We. do not do things that 
way any more, but let all be present who wish dur- 
ing our examinations, except in special cases where 
propriety dictates otherwise. 

The Conference resolved to raise five thousand 
dollars missionary money during the incoming year, 
and appointed the presiding elders to make the as- 
sessment to each circuit and station according to 
the supposed ability to pay. 

The subject of forming a Conference in Western 
Louisiana was agitated in open Conference for the 
first time, but by proposing to take a portion from 
Arkansas and Texas to make it large enough the 
project was defeated for the present. 

At this date our married itinerants suffered great- 
ly in the way of home comforts and domestic enjoy- 
ments for the want of parsonages, there being but 
few in the Conference and those of inferior qual- 
ity. It was affecting to any generous heart to see 
what our true-hearted itinerants had to endure at 
this point in order to serve the Church in those 
places where it was thought their services were most 
needed. Most of our elder brethren had provided 
homes for * their families- from necessity, but we 
now had a class of rising young men in the Confer- 
ence who were determined, to arrest what they called 
"a. local itinerancy," and who 'persisted in moving 
their families, at great disadvantage, to any part 
of th« Conference where they might be appointed 

4:92 A Complete History of Methodism 

to labor. Frequently they could not get a house to 
live in, and were often much troubled in securing 
board for their families. This was very humiliating 
to men who, from a settled conviction of duty, had 
consecrated their lives to the work of the ministry. 
But the era of parsonages had not yet come, and 
such devoted men as David M. Wiggins, Andrew 
T. M. Fly, John N. Hamill, Kichmond Handle, and 
many others went drifting through the Conference 
from year to year like houseless and homeless wan- 
derers. Only one thing could have kept such honor- 
able, high-toned men, with their wives and children, 
in such humiliating and dependent circumstances, 
and that was a well-settled conviction of duty to 
God and the souls of men. But it was more the 
fault of circumstances than the fault of the people 
that we were so tardy in obtaining parsonages. 
Except in the town and city stations our pastoral 
charges were so often remodeled and divided that 
it was next to impossible to fix on a central place 
for a parsonage. In some instances where they were 
provided by the liberality of our people, by a change 
in the boundaries of the circuit they have been left 
on the outskirts and in some instances out of the 
limits of the circuit by which they were built. This 
policy is wrong, except where it cannot be avoided 
without manifest injury to the spiritual interests of 
the circuit. We have persistently kept the parson- 
age at Fayette, which was the first one in our Con- 
ference, in the center of a circuit for forty years, 
and it has been a comfort and convenience to many 
of our worthy itinerants and their families. 
While on the subject of parsonages we must be 

In thq Mississippi Conference. 493 

permitted to enter our caveat against the wasteful 
policy of some of our preachers and their families 
in the way of neglecting and even abusing our par- 
sonage property. Some of our ministers and their 
good wives are persons of fine taste and industrious 
habits, and when they enter a new parsonage home 
the first thing is to put everything in good order. 
The furniture is tastefully arranged, the flowering 
shrubs are pruned and vacant places filled up, the 
garden is repaired and put into cultivation, fruit 
trees are planted, fences and gates repaired, the 
whitewash brush is used, and presently everything 
looks like somebody lived there in Christian style. 
When their term of service expires they leave the 
house and premises in good condition and much 
improved. But next come a preacher and family 
of a different style altogether. We do not wish to 
say they are either reproachfully careless or lazy, 
but somehow the horse and cow get into the door- 
yard and destroy all the flowering shrubs, creepers, 
and young fruit trees, the chickens and pigs de- 
stroy the garden, the gates are unhinged and the 
palings knocked off, and one after another they find 
their Way to the stove until there are none left to 
repair the breaches,* and at the end of his pastorate 
everything about the parsonage is in a state of 
dilapidation. A Methodist preacher ought to be a 
better economist and exhibit a better example of 
frugality and industry. 

Wfeinesday afternoon, December 6, was set apart 
for a discussion of the interests of Centenary 
College, at ;Brandon Springs. We were increas- 
ingly convinced that the location was unfortunate, 

4:94 A Complete History of Methodtem 

but saw nothing in prospect better than to persist 
in keeping it up where it was. Under President 
Thornton and his able professors the college was 
making first-class scholars, but the patronage was 
not extensive enough. People complained that it 
was difficult of access, and the additional inland 
freight on provisions made boarding too high. A 
resolution passed by a small majority requiring each 
preacher who voted for it to use his best exertions to 
collect an average of fifty cents from each white 
member in his charge the coming year for the bene- 
fit of the college, and President Thornton was re- 
quested to take collections for the same purpose in 
any part of the country he might be able to visit. 

During the past year Hon. Beverly R. Grayson, 
of Yazoo County, one of the Trustees of the college, 
had died, and Samuel W Spear was elected to fill 
the vacancy. Mr. Grayson was a nobleman by na- 
ture, education, and grace. He entered the Church 
at Washington, Miss., during the chivalrous days' 
of Methodism in that old territorial town, and ever 
after remained a worthy and exemplary member 
until he entered into rest. It adds no little to the 
prestige of the Church to be able to point to such 
men as Hon. Beverly R. Grayson as humble, con- 
sistent, and devoted members of her communion 
through a long life. He was a wise counselor and 
liberal supporter of the Church in all her institu- 

Our academies at Woodville, Washington, and 
Sharon were all duly considered and assistance 
given to each in the way of filling vacancies in 
the Boards of Trustees, appointing visiting com- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 495 

mittees, etc. To know that all these seminaries of 
learning under our • patronage did good in their 
day and contributed largely to the educational in- 
terests of the Church and country is gratifying. 

A resolution was adopted at this Conference re- 
questing each preacher to write a short memoir of 
his own life to be transcribed in a book kept for 
that purpose, which was to be the property of the 
Conference, and to be kept with the journal by the 
Secretary, so that when any of our preachers died 
the committee on memoirs could readily get such 
dates and facts as would furnish a starting point 
for a suitable memoir for the General Minutes. We 
know by experience that this committee is often 
unable to ascertain the time and place of a deceased 
brothers birth, or of his conversion and other in- 
teresting facts connected with his early Christian 
experience. The consequence is, we have in many 
instances the most meager and unsatisfactory mem- 
oirs of some of our most holy, talented, and useful 
Slliusters. No part of our Church history is read 
with more interest, edification, comfort, and encour- 
agement than our short sketches of the birth, con- 
version, holy and useful lives, and triumphant 
deaths of our deceased brethren. These autobio- 
graphical sketches may be very concise and yet em- 
brace all the leading dates and facts that the mem- 
oirists need. , We have one in each of our ministerial 
Bibles 'which does not cover one page of a fly leaf. 
Few of our preachers have attended to this request. 

At the two Conferences immediately preceding 
this "serious complaints" were made against Enoch 
Whatley, a deacon of one year; but as he was not 

496 A Complete History of Methodism 

present at either Conference, his case was referred 
to the presiding elder in whose district he might 
be found for adjudication according to law in such 
cases, and he was left without an appointment. It 
would seem from some now unknown cause that the 
presiding elders took no action in his case, and for 
the third time it came before the Annual Confer- 
ence. Mr. Whatley was able to give such explana- 
tions and adduce such testimony as released him 
from all intentional criminality, and his character 
passed and he was located at his own request. Our 
recollection is that he had committed some youth- 
ful indiscretions inconsistent with ministerial sobri- 
ety and dignity, which rendered him unpopular. ^ 

Cotman Methvin, who located at our last Con- 
ference and who lived in the bounds of the Monroe 
District, had fallen under various accusations from 
three accusers, his presiding elder, David M. Wig- 
gins, being the principal. Mr. Wiggins had him ar- 
raigned and tried according to law, as he under- 
stood it, and deposed from the ministry Mr. Meth 
vin appealed to the Annual Conference, and after 
a full and fair investigation of the case — Mr. Meth- 
vin being permitted to state his case, which he did 
with his usual modesty and diffidence — the Confer- 
ence reversed the decision of the court below and 
restored him to his ministerial standing, and a 
future motion to reconsider his case was lost. He 
was remarkable for his humility, modesty, and diffi- 
dence, and his whole study seemed to be to feel right 
and do right in all things. He has since gone to his 
eternal rest. 
John H. Davidson, who had traveled Point Con- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 497 

pee Circuit the past year, had some complaints 
alleged against him by a prominent member of the 
Church in Baton Kouge* Mr. Davidson was sick 
and not able to attend Conference. It is a well- 
admitted principle in civil jurisprudence that "every 
man must be esteemed as innocent until he is proven 
to be guilty," but this principle was ignored in Mr. 
Davidson's case. If he had intentionally shirked 
an investigation,, his guilt might have been pre- 
sumed; but this was not the case, for it was in evi- 
dence before the Conference that he was down with 
a sudden attack of illness. We had in those days 
two or three brethren who were always inclined to 
bear hard on an accused brother; hence the resolu- 
tions that were hastily offered in the pending case: 

Resolved, That J. H. Davidson be suspended from his 
ministerial functions for one year, and that his case come 
up in regular course at the next Conference. 

Resolved, That whereas charges of immorality having 
been preferred against J. H. Davidson, and he being absent, 
on motion, his case be laid over until the next Annual 
Conference for trial, and he be left without an appoint- 

On motion, these resolutions were laid on the ta- 

Iitomediately a resolution was offered and passed 
by a majority to go forthwith into the trial of John 
H. Davidson, a special secretary was appointed, 
and the investigation proceeded in the absence of 
the accused, who could neither defend himself nor 
introduce his rebutting testimony. The journal says 
that in the investigation of the case it appeared that 
there was some ground for a charge against him 
Vol. II.— 32 

498 A Complete History of Methodism 

without some further explanation from, him; and 
it being known that he was sick and not able to 
attend Conference, "and the Conference desiring to 
give Brother Davidson the opportunity to defend 
himself," the following resolution, which prevailed, 
was offered by Benjamin M. Drake and seconded 
by John N. Hamill : 

Resolved, That the trial of Brother Davidson be post- 
poned until the next Annual Conference, and that mean- 
while he be suspended from his ministerial functions. 

Yes ; inflict on a sick and absent brother the sever- 
est penalty known in our jurisprudence, except ex- 
pulsion from the Church, before he is tried and 
found guilty of anything! Strange procedure, as 
it stands on the face of the journal ! Why not refer 
the case to his presiding elder for an investigation, 
according to a special law of the Church, by a com- 
mittee in the interim of the Annual Conference? 
We will see that when this case was investigated 
by the ensuing Annual Conference, with Mr. David- 
son present to defend himself and to explain his 
own course, it did not amount to anything very 

At this Conference our delegates to the ever- 
memorable General Conference of 1844 were elected. 
On the first ballot William Winans, Benjamin M. 
Drake, and John Lane were elected, and on the 
second Green M. Rogers. On the first ballot for 
reserve delegates Samuel W. Spear was elected by 
a large majority, and on the third Sewell Campbell 
was elected. 

Our next Conference was appointed to meet in 
Port Gibson, December 11, 1844. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 499 

The presiding elders were continued as last year, 
except the Jackson District was absorbed and John 
Lane, who had it in charge, was this year placed in 
charge of Warren Circuit, and Andrew T. M. Fly 
succeeded Green M. Rogers on the Sharon District, 
while Mr. Rogers was appointed Financial Agent of 
Centenary College. 

Some of the circuits were remodeled, their names 
changed, and new preaching places added, which 
made divisions into additional charges necessary. 
Our pastoral charges were gradually supplied with 
experienced men, with a junior preacher to assist in 
the work. 

In forty-five years our Church had literally come 
up out of the wilderness until now she was an ac- 
knowledged power in the land and stood in the 
front of all her Protestant sisters. In surveying 
our present elevated position, in connection with the 
prosperous new Conferences we had set off, we had 
great cause to "thank God and take courage." 

Our colored missions were becoming more and 
more popular and productive of good fruit. 

To show the embarrassment under which the mis- 
sionaries among tlje negroes often labored, we will 
give one illustrative circumstance. One Sabbath 
after preaching to one of 'our large colored congre- 
gations we were invited by a wealthy planter to 
call and dine with him. While at his house he asked 
us if the Methodist preachers were not generally 
ant i slavery men. We answered that in the North 
we presumed they were, but that we of the South 
looked upon slavery as a civil institution, the exist- 
ence and perpetuity of which were recognized by the 

500 A Complete History of Methodism 

Constitution and laws of the United States and the 
Constitution and laws of the several slave States, 
and that as ministers of the gospel we did not inter- 
fere with the civil institutions of our country, but 
endeavored to preach the gospel faithfully both to 
master and slave. "But look," said he, "at your book 
of Discipline, which you all promise not to mend but 
to obey You there ask the question, 'What shall be 
done for the extirpation of the evil of slavery?' and 
then you give a list of five answers, all of which 
plainly show the antislavery tendencies of your 
Church." AVe replied that his quotation from our 
book of Discipline was correct, that it had been 
made and kept there by a Northern majority in the 
General Conference against our wishes and judg- 
ment, that that ninth section with its concomitants 
had greatly hindered us in our honest efforts to 
Christianize the African race in our midst, and that 
we never had and never would enforce, nor even try 
to enforce, the requirements of that ninth section, 
but ignored it altogether, as our Northern brethren 
very well knew He seemed satisfied with our ex- 
planation and the ground we had taken, and always 
thereafter gave us free access to his colored people. 
The ever-to-be-deplored controversy on the sub- 
ject of slavery, in connection with the cases of F A. 
Harding and Bishop Andrew, occurred in the Gen- 
eral Conference of this year, which was held in the 
city of New York in Mav and June. This bit- 
ter controversy, with its immediate results, laid the 
foundation for the final separation of our Church 
into two independent jurisdictions. The whole 
Church was convulsed from center to circumference. 

In the Mississippi Conference. 501 

The mind of the Church was filled with this un- 
precedented disaster. To this writer it was the 
darkest day he had ever seen. But our Northern 
brethren, because they had it in their power, pushed 
us to the wall, and left us no alternative but sepa- 
ration or the defeat of our ministry in large por- 
tions of the alaveholding States. We were not will- 
ing to lose the fruits of our self-sacrifice, labor, and 
toil among the slaves of the South or their owners, 
and accepted separation as much the better alter- 
native. We briefly refer to this state of affairs to 
account for our want of success in adding to our 
Church membership this year. This unbrotherly 
and ruinous convulsion exploded in the General 
Conference in May and June, and from then until 
the end of the year our Church papers were filled 
with it, our ministers and members talked of little 
else, our Churches and Quarterly Conferences de- 
bated the subject, and the entire portion of the year 
usually devoted to protracted meetings and special 
efforts to save souls was take» up with this humil- 
iating and much-to-be-deplored disaster to our glo- 
rious Church. The result was that instead of our 
usual Increase we had a decrease of sixty white 
members, with an Increase of only seven hundred 
and twelve colored and twelve Indian members. It 
is a fearful thing to rend the body of Christ, but 
we feel that the responsibility of this fearful calam- 
ity is not on us. We were compelled to judge of our 
responsibility from what we actually heard and saw 
around us everywhere. Our Northern brethren were 
not here to judge of our circumstances. As they 
were free from African slavery, we had no desire to 

502 -1 (U)inph'tc History of Methodism. 

trouble them with it, and all we asked was simply 
to let us alone and permit us to pursue our provi- 
dential course in preaching the glorious gospel of 
Christ both to the bond and free. The Southern 
Methodist preachers were the best friends the ne- 
groes ever had. The negroes were the most igno- 
rant and degraded heathens when they were brought 
here, but generations of them have been brought to 
see and enjoy "the light of the glorious gospel of 
Christ/' mainly through the instrumentality of 
Southern Methodist preachers. 



The Mississippi Conference convened in the ancient 
territorial town of Port Gibson, Miss., December 
11, 1844, this being the first and up to this date 
(1875) the only Annual Conference ever held in the 
place. Several years later another was appointed 
to be held there, but was prevented by yellow fever. 

Bishop Edmund Storer Janes was present, and 
opened the Conference with the usual religious serv- 
ices, to which he added an appropriate address on 
the importance of the work before us and the spirit 
and manner in which it should be performed. Bish- 
op Janes was a small man, with a somewhat femi- 
nine voice of limited volume, but a man of rare 
and ready intelligence and great sanctity. He con- 
ducted an unusually excited session of our Confer- 
ence very gracefully and with great precision. We 
were so well pleased with what we saw of his admin- 
istration, and moreover being anxious to have one of 
our bishops domiciliated in the Southwest, that by 
a unanimous vote we solicited him to fix his family 
residence in the bounds of our Conference. 

Samuel W Spear was elected Secretary and John 
N. Hamill his Assistant. 

Rev. Leroy Swormstedt was present to represent 
the interests of the Cincinnati branch of the Book 
Concern, which he always did with great energy and 


504 A Complete History of Methodism 

exactness. He was not the man that we would like 
to owe anything but love unless we could have the 
money ready as soon as called for. But the delin- 
quencies of so many of our preachers in paying their 
book accounts during the great financial pressure, 
which had not yet ended, made it necessary for him 
to press his claims with much earnestness. 

Key. Charles 15. Tippett was also present as one 
of the Book Agents at New York to press the claims 
of the parent Book Concern. 

We presume from the number of claims placed in 
the hands of presiding elders and other special 
agents for collection that the indebtedness of our 
preachers was much greater than usual. The strin- 
gency of the times had prevented stfme of the preach- 
ers from selling all the books they had ordered; 
while others, we think, imprudently had used their 
book money to pay current family expenses in hopes 
of collecting enough on their salaries to refund, but 

Ue v. John B. McFerrin was likewise present to 
look after the interests of our adopted paper, the 
South ircfttcm (lirixtian Advocate, of which he was 
Editor. AYe appreciated him highly as our Editor, 
especially during these trying times of separation. 
Not only his mature judgment and unshaken firm- 
ness but his "moderation was known nnto all men." 

Sixteen were admitted on trial at this Conference, 
including two (John C Johnson and Edward F 
Thwing) who had been on trial before but discon- 
tinued. Of the sixteen, three were from New Or- 
leans; and of the three, one, Nicholas Brickwedel, 
was a German. Methodism in its doctrines, disci- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 505 

pline, and usages is very favorably adapted to the 
German mind, and whenever brought fully within 
its. range Germans 'readily embrace it. They like 
a feeling religion; they enjoy our social meetings 
exquisitely; they are entranced with our hearty 
singing, or rather with such as they soon learn to 
do themselves, and we believe that when they once 
learn to "sing with the spirit and with the under- 
standing also" they excel us in this delightful part 
of social worship. They generally make very stable 
and reliable Church members. 

We established our first German Mission in New 
Orleans in December, 1842, and up to this Confer- 
ence it had been under the pastoral care of Rev. 
Charles Bremar. We were now able to give him 
as the fruit of his labors Nicholas Brickwedel as 
his Colleague. We had sixty German members at 
this date. 

Elkanah F Remington, a young man of unusual 
sprightliness and fluency of speech and who was 
now eligible in point of time for admission into full 
Connection, was dropped for gross unchristian con- 
duct. George N. Robinson, James R. Patton, Alex- 
ander G. Payne, and James H. Muse were discon- 
tinued at their own 'request; thirteen remained on 
trial; twelve we^e received into full connection and 
ordained deacons, seven were ordained elders ; Jesse 
A. Gwice, Alexander S. Parker, Elijah Gentry, and 
Winfre B. Scott were readmitted ; Thomas C. Thorn- 
ton, Green Y. McNabb, Horace M. Booth, George F 
Spence, Edgar A. M. Gray, and Elias R. Porter were 
located at their own request; John G. Jones was 
placed on the supernumerary roll, and Samuel 

iOQ A Complete History of Methodism 

Walker, William Stephenson, Thomas Owens, Peter 
James, Asbury H. Shanks, and Jesse Lee were super- 
annuated; James A. Shoekley had died with the 
harness on ; nine local preachers were elected to dea- 
con's orders, and two to elder's. 

Our deceased fellow-laborer, James A. Shoekley, 
was born of religious parents in South Carolina in 
the latter part of the year 1809. At the early age of 
ten or twelve years he experienced a change of heart 
and became an acceptable member of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church. He grew up to mature manhood 
in the Church and became the head of a family 
before he fully consented to follow his oft-repeated 
convictions of duty by entering the ministry. But 
having moved to Mississippi and feeling it unsafe 
to disobey the movings of the Holy Spirit any lon- 
ger, in 1840 he consented to receive license to preach, 
and was employed by Enoch M. Talley, the presid- 
ing elder of the Paulding District, as the colleague 
of Erastus R. Strickland on the Paulding Circuit. 
In the latter part of November, 1841, with fourteen 
others, he was admitted on trial into the Mississippi 
Conference and continued on Paulding Circuit as 
preacher in charge. The succeeding year he was 
alone on Decatur Circuit, and in 1S4:J he was ap- 
pointed in charge of Whitesand Circuit, with Benja- 
min F. Tmpson as his junior. To use the language 
of our early memoirists, "he was a man of solid 
parts." He seemed to have a fine constitution and 
a well-balanced and improving mind, and above all 
a deeply pious heart. Though laboring on large cir- 
cuits, he accomplished his course of study and grad- 
uated in due course to deacon's orders with everv 

In the Mississippi Conference, 507 

prospect of taking a high stand among his breth- 
ren as a faithful, talented, and useful minister. In 
the latter part of August he attended a camp meet- 
ing among the people of his first charge, on the 
Paulding Circuit, where he was taken ill with the 
disease that eighteen days afterwards terminated 
his earthly career. During the early part of his 
sickness such hopes were entertained of his recov- 
ery that his family was not brought to him until a 
few days before his death. During his severe and 
protracted illness he was patient and resigned, feel- 
ing that God was good and what he did was for the 
best. When convinced that his end was near, he 
said he was ready to go, adding: "I have lived for 
this hour. God is here. I'm in glory now. This is 
heaven. Tell my father and Brother Hamill, my p»e- 
siding elder, that I die at my post, at the feet of Je- 
sus, in sight of glory." And as he entered the vale 
of death he said : "My work is done. Amen. Glory to 
God!" Christian friends around his bed partook of 
his joy and triumph, several of whom praised God 
aloud for his final victory He died September 12, 
1844, in the •thirty-fifth year of his age, leaving a 
wife and three children, who remained on the bene- 
ficiary list of the Conference as long as they were 
legal claimants. 

As this is about the last time we shall have the 
privilege of recording our annual dividend from 
our connectional Book Concern, we will state by 
way of. a last farewell that we were permitted to 
draw on the Book Concern for one thousand dol- 
lars and on the Chartered Fund for forty dollars. 
This added substantially to our beneficiary fund. 

508 A Complete History of Methodism 

Bishop Janes proceeded early to the examination 
of ministerial character, and it was resolved to con- 
duct the examination with closed doors. We shall 
see the propriety of this resolution before we get 
through with the troubles that came on us at this 

In reviewing the journal of this Conference we 
find no allusion to the fact that we received a very 
valuable transfer at this date from the Missouri 
Conference in the person of Rev. James L. Forsyth, 
in elder's orders; hence we did not record it at the 
place where we usually record the names of those 
transferred to us. Mr. Forsyth at once took a high 
stand among us as an able, laborious, and useful 
itinerant minister. He has frequently been brought 
into requisition to fill the most important town and 
city stations in the Conference, and has been very 
acceptable everywhere. He is still among ris, enjoy- 
ing personally a robust old age, but has had much 
affliction in his family, which has at times interfered 
with his ministerial labors. It is a pleasure to look 
on such standard bearers, who in "seedtime and 
harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, 
and day and night" have borne aloft the banner of 
the cross without faltering. May he long be contin- 
ued as a blessing to our Conference ! 

Centenary College, as located at Brandon Springs, 
was getting into inextricable difficulties. Pres- 
ident Thornton allowed himself to feel that he 
had been unjustly treated by some of his juniors 
in the ministry, including other members of the 
Church, in consequence of which he resigned the 
presidency of the college, asked and obtained a loca- 

In the Mississippi Conference. :>".' 

tion from the Conference, and temporarily withdrevr 
from the communion of the Church. Six vacancies 
in the Board of Trustees were reported to the < on- 
ference, which were filled by the election of Il>?v> 
L. Campbell, William C. Payne, George W Stewai-r. 
John G. Parker, and Thomas B. Adams, and Thomas 
Mount, layman. David O. Shattuek was appointed 
President pro tem., and John Powell and Farquear 
Mathewson were appointed Traveling Agents. 

Our academies all received due attention, and vis- 
iting committees composed of ministers were ap- 
pointed to visit such as needed special attention and 
report their condition to the next Conference. 

Our favorite old Elizabeth Female Academy at 
Washington, Miss., had nearly run her race of use- 
fulness. Her early patronizing public had disap- 
peared until few were left to do her honor. 

A communication from I). George Humphreys, 
we presume at the time President of the Board of 
Trustees of the Port Gibson Fema'o Academy, and 
John Harvey. President of the Academy, was ad 
dressed to the Conference through Bishop Janes, 
proposing to place the academy under the control 
of the Conference, provided we would appoint one of 
our educated ministers to a professorship in the 
academy and take it under our denominational 
patronage. We consented to the terms, and request- 
ed the Bishop to appoint Rev. James McClennen 
to a professorship in the academy, which was ac- 
cordingly done. From this date the academy con- 
tinued under the patronage and control of the Con- 
ference until after the late war, when the real estate 
was turned over in fee simple to the Mississippi 

510 A Complete History of Methodism 

Conference on the single condition that we keep a 
school 'there in perpetuity for the white race. 

On the first day of the Conference' J. G. Jones/ 
seconded by William H. Watkins, offered the follow- 
ing resolution, which prevailed : 

Resolved, That a committee of one be appointed from 
each presiding elder's district to take into consideration 
all matters relating to the contemplated division of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church and report the same to thto 
Conference at an early day. 

William H. Watkins, John G. Jones, Lewell Camp- 
bell, Barnabas Pipkin, John N. Hamill, Andrew T. 
M. Fly, David M. Wiggins, and William G. Gould 
were appointed on that committee, to which David 
O. Shattuck was afterwards added. Mr. Shattuck 
was an eminent jurist, and it was thought best to 
have him on the committee to give legal advice in 
case of necessity Pending the preparation of the 
report of this committee Bishop Janes presented 
to the Conference the report of the committee of 
nine, appointed by the late General Conference to 
consider and report on the declaration of the dele- 
gates from the slaveholding States, which report 
was read by the Secretary. This report, in view of 
the contemplated separation of the Church, recom- 
mended a change in the sixth restrictive rule of 
the General Conference by adding after the word 
"children" the words "and to such other purposes 
as may be determined upon by the votes of two- 
thirds of the members of the General Confer- 

The Bishops were respectfully requested to lay 
the report of the committee of nine before each An- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 511 

nual Conference at its first session after the Gen- 
eral Conference of 1844, to obtain their concurrence 
or nonconcurrence to the proposed change of the 
sixth restrictive rule. Our Conference voted eighty- 
one for concurrence and none against it. 

In the meantime Bishop Janes presented a reso- 
lution from the Holston Conference requesting our 
concurrence. What the purport of this resolution 
was the journal does not state, and at this distance 
of time the writer does not very distinctly recollect 
it, but it was something in reference to an imprac- 
ticable compromise. It was referred to the Com- 
mittee on Separation, which reported unfavorably 
to the Hohrton resolution. Benjamin A. Houghton, 
by his own request, was excused from voting, after 
whfrh seventy-three voted for nonconcurrence and 
none for concurrence. 

The Committee on the Plan of Separation deliber- 
ated on their report about six days before they pre- 
sented it to the Conference, such was their anxiety 
to have every sentence and word in due form and 
ill imbued with the pacific spirit of our holy Chris- 
tianity. The report was accepted and thoroughly 
scrutinized item by item and, after a few verbal 
intendments, was unanimously adopted. 

The Northern majority in the General Conference 
eft us no alternative but separation, and we ac- 
liiiesced in a- plan of separation which we deter- 
nined to carry out in good faith. As soon as the 
'oport on separation was adopted, on the motion 
>f Benjamin M. Drake the Conference "joined in 
mmble and fervent prayer to Almighty God that 
he contemplated division of the Methodist Epis- 

512 A Complete History of Methodism 

copal Church might not prove injurious to the 
Church' either North or South, and that there might 
not be any alienation of feeling among Methodists 
North or South." 

Our venerable brethren, John Lane and William 
Winans, each led in prayer. We were not willing 
to take any step in this important matter that we 
could not consistently invoke the blessing of God 

To leave the way open for reunion at any subse- 
quent period, the following resolution was very cor- 
dially passed : 

Resolved, That we recommend to the Convention to be 
held at Louisville, Ky., in May next, to keep the door open 
for the reunion of the Methodist Episcopal Church; that 
so soon as our Northern brethren shall make such propos- 
als officially as we can in honor and conscience accept 
there may be a reunion of the Church. 

Before adjourning for the day the Conference 
passed the following resolution : 

Resolved, That in the election of delegates to the Con- 
vention they would be governed by the rule of Discipline 
fixing the qualifications of delegates to the General Con- 

On the following day we elected our delegates 
to the Louisville Convention, requiring a majority 
of the whole to elect any one. William Winans, 
John Lane, John G. Jones, Samuel W Spear, Ben- 
jamin M. Drake, Green M. Rogers, David O. Shat- 
tuck, and Lewell Campbell were elected. The Con- 
ference then proceeded to elect four reserve dele- 
gates. On the first ballot Thomas Owens, William 
H. Watkins, and Barnabas Pipkin were elected, and. 

In the Aftosiasippi Conference. 513 

Benjamin Jones, being the next highest on the list, 
was on motion declared elected. Our recollection 
is that John Lane did not attend the Convention on 
account of severe family affliction, and William H. 
Watkins attended as his alternate. David O. Shat- 
tuck, being President ad interim of Centenary Col- 
lege, did not go, nor did any alternate supply his 

Our hearts were burdened ; our minds were filled 
with the distracted and unprecedented condition of 
our beloved Church. We were determined to take 
every step prayerfully and cautiously. We depre- 
cated the thought of hasty action ; we were deter- 
mined not to widen the breach or close the door 
against reunion on honorable Christian principles. 
But in adopting the report of our Committee on the 
Plan of Separation we declared that "we are fully 
convinced that justice to ourselves, as well as com- 
passion for the slaves, demands an unqualified dis- 
approval of the action of the late General Confer- 
ence" in the cases of Rev. F. A. Harding and Bishop 
Andrew, and that such action was "not only with- 
out law or usage, but in direct contravention of all 
law," and in direct defiance of a resolution adopted 
by the General Conference of 1840, declaring that 
the mere ownership of slaves, where emancipation is 
impracticable, "constitutes no legal barrier to the 
election or ordination of ministers to the various 
grades of office known in the ministry of the Metho- 
dist Episcopal Church:" 

We further reiterated in our report the principle 
on which the Mississippi Conference had always 
acted on the subject of slavery without a single ex 
Vol. II.— 33 

514 A Complete History of Methodism 

ception : that "with the abstract subject of slavery 
we have nothing to do, nor do we regard it aa.a 
subject on which the Church has a right to legis- 
late." We further stated a fact in our report which 
it appears our Northern brethren could not appre- 
ciate or even see, which was, "that a tame submis- 
sion on our part to the action of the late General 
Conference of the cases of Kev. F. A. Harding and 
Bishop Andrew would prevent our future access to 
the slaves, and expose us to suspicions destructive 
to our general usefulness." 

In view of all the responsibilities involved in our 
anomalous condition, which was not of our seeking, 
and from an earnest desire not to take a wrong step 
in any direction, after we had completed all our 
preliminary movements in reference to the Louis- 
ville Convention we solemnly passed the following 
resolution: ' 

Resolved, That the first Friday in May, next, be set apart 
as a day Of special fasting and prayer for the superintend- 
ence and direction of Divine Providence with regard to our 
Church difficulties, that the delegates may act so as to bring 
the greatest glory to God and the most good to his Church. 

Rev. John B. McFerrin, Editor and Publisher, 
at Nashville, of the Southwestern Christian Advo- 
cate, addressed the Conference on the encouraging 
financial condition of the paper. The Conference 
was well pleased with his financial and editorial 
management of our adopted organ, and passed the 
following resolution : 

Resolved, That the Mississippi Annual Conference cor- 
dially approve the mild and Christian manner in which 
the Southwestern Christian Advocate has been conducted in 

In the Mississippi Conference. 515 

reference to the difficulties in the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, and that the Editor is respectfully requested v.o 
continue the same conciliatory course. 

On motion of William Winans, the following res- 
olution was passed : 

Resolved, That it is the sense of this Conference that 
should any one of its members be suspended during the 
interim of Conference he shall not have a vote in the Con- 
ference until his trial takes place and he be acquitted. 

This Conference was in one feature a very un- 
pleasant and humiliating Conference. There were 
complaints alleged against ten of our preachers. 
It is true that most of them were of small impor- 
tance, but still they were brought forward in due 
form as complaints and had to undergo a regular 
investigation. If Bishop Janes judged the charac- 
ter of our Conference from what he witnessed on 
this occasion, he doubtless thought we were some- 
what disorderly; and if the good people of Port 
Gibson passed sentence on our general character 
from what they saw and heard of us at this time, 
it was perhaps that we were very hypercritical and 
captious toward each other. During our fifty years' 
connection with the Mississippi Conference we have 
attended two or three sessions that for a few days 
were very humiliating to our feelings, and this was 
one of them. 

Fleasant B. Baily, who had been in charge of 
Madison Circuit the previous year, was reported by 
his presiding elder to have had a fight with a Dr. 
Collins. A difference of opinion arose between them 
about the correctness of an account which Dr Col 

516 A Complete History of Methodism 

lins presented to Mr. Baily for payment, and in a 
moment of excitement Mr. Baily said to the Doctor : 
"If you had sworn to your account, you would have 
sworn to a lie." For this remark Dr. Collins forth- 
with attempted to chastise Mr. Baily, when Mr. 
Baily turned on him and soon got him under. As 
Mr. Baily rose up, somewhat exultant at his sudden 
victory, he said to the Doctor: "You're mistaken in 
your man, sir; I'm a hoss!" Mr. Baily very respect- 
fully said to the Conference that he could not feel 
that he did wrong in simply defending himself from 
the unexpected and rude attack of Dr* Collins, but 
that he felt that he was wrong in saying to Dr. Col- 
lins that if he had sworn to his account he would 
have sworn to a lie, and in saying after the fight, in 
a spirit of exultation: "You're mistaken in your 
man, sir ; I'm a hoss !" He confessed to having been 
betrayed for the moment into a bad temper, and into 
the use of language very unbecoming a minister of 
the gospel. In view of his penitence, his character 
was passed. 

Thomas Price, who had been in charge of Coving- 
ton Circuit, was complained of for something not 
now recollected through Barnabas Pipkin, his pre- 
siding elder. A committee consisting of John Lane, 
William H. Watkins, Preston Cooper, Richmond 
Randle, and John Powell was appointed to investi- 
gate the case. They reported next day that they 
found nothing requiring censure in Mr. Price, and 
his character passed. He was not, however, elected 
to elder's orders at the time his character passed 
because he had not yet been examined on the course 
of study. In two or three days he underwent a 

In the Mississippi Conference. 517 

satisfactory examination and was elected and or- 

Several of the undergraduates were not in the 
first instance elected to deacon s and elder's orders 
because their examination on the course of study 
was not fully satisfactory, but their cases were 
•afterwards reconsidered and most of them were 
elected to orders, some with and some without an 
admonitory vote of censure for past delinquencies in 
their studies. Some of our most talented and prom- 
ising young preachers, from a laudable desire to ex- 
cel in their pulpit labors, had turned their atten- 
tion mainly to sermonizing to the neglect of the 
prescribed course of study; hence their imperfect 
knowledge of the regular course of study. The Con- 
ference gave them to understand that in view of 
their future usefulness as ministers they must com- 
pass the official course of study, notwithstanding 
their present superior abilities in the pulpit. In 
this the Conference was right, and we now number 
among our most talented ministers some whose ear- 
ly advancement was arrested because of their un- 
willingness to confine themselves to the required 
course of stud v. 

John H. Davidson, who was suspended at our 
last Conference while absent on a bed of sickness, 
without a trial or having been found guilty of any- 
thing, had his case called up at this Conference as 
unfinished business and referred to a committee. 
After a sifting investigation the committee found 
nothing blameworthy against him except some little 
indiscretions, the result of his inexperience. He 
was most affectionatelv admonished by Bishop Janes 

518 A Complete History of Methodism 

to be more guarded hereafter, which he received hi 
an excellent spirit, manifested by his flowing tears 
and perfect submission to the advice of the Bishop. 
We knew Mr. Davidson from his early, childhood. 
He was brought up in a community and in circum- 
stances very unfavorable to early piety or even any 
very definite knowledge of the nature and claims of 
religion. His widowed mother, however, became a 
worthv member of our Church, and about the tim3 
he attained the age of majority, after his. youth 
had been beclouded with sin, he was awakened and 
converted and was soon after licensed to preach 
and admitted on trial into the Conference, with but 
little knowledge of Methodism or what constituted 
the proprieties of ministerial life. Of course he 
needed the care and counsel and even forbearance 
of his elder brethren while maturing into an ex- 
perienced minister of Jesus Christ. There is such 
a difference in the early habits of men and their 
Opportunities for receiving correct information ia 
their youth that the admonition of the apostle 
Jude has as much applicability now as it ever had: 
"And of some have compassion, making a difference : 
and others save with fear, pulling them out of the 
fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." 
O with what patient love and care and paternal 
faithfulness we should train up the dear young men 
that the great and supreme Head of the Church 
graciously gives us to be our colaborers in the min- 
istry ! 

George F. Spence had fallen into some trouble, 
and his case was referred to a committee consist- 
ing of Benjamin Jones, William F Brown, and 

In the Mississippi Conference. 519 

Henry J. Harris. The committee reported some un- 
ministerial improprieties, for which the Conference 
voted him an admonition, which was most appro- 
priately administered by the Bishop. 

But the most perplexing and protracted case we 
had before the Conference was that of Levi Pearce 
as the representative of his brother, Collins Pearce, 
and A. B. Bridges against Bennett R. Truly. We 
infer from the history of the case that the parties, 
during what was known as "the flush times of 
Mississippi," had fallen into the spirit of the times 
and had very freely engaged in the purchase and 
sale of both real and personal estate. The result 
was they all became involved, and the next alterna- 
tive was, according to the prevailing morals of 
Mississippi at the time, to cover their property from 
their creditors until they had time to work out and 
pay their debts. The plan worked too slow and 
seemed to be too unsafe for some of the parties in- 
terested in this case. We infer from the various 
documents read and the oral testimony given that 
the case had been before the courts of the country 
and a board of Church arbitrators and had been 
decided adversely to the plaintiffs. The case was 
referred to a committee of three, consisting of David 
O. Shattuck, Hayden Leavel, and Samuel W Spear, 
to be put in due form for trial. The committee 
made their report, which, on motion, was accepted; 
but a motion to adopt it was lost, which made it 
necessary to take up the case de novo. Mr. Pearce, 
in behalf of his brother, Collins Pearce, and A. B. 
Bridges, charged Mr. Truly with lying and fraud, 
each professedly supported by a leading specifica- 

520- -A Complete History of Methodism 

tion. Mr. Pearce requested the services of Benjamin 
M. Drake to assist him in the prosecution, and Mr. 
Truly those of David O. Shattuck to assist him in 
his defense. A large amount of testimony, both 
documentary and oral, was introduced by the par- 
ties and an unusual number of speeches allowed 
on both sides until finally the special pleadings 
were arrested by order of the Conference. The case 
was continued through three sittings of the Confer- 
ence, and seemed to degenerate between some of the 
speakers more into a contest for championship than 
a single desire to do justice to an accused brother 
who was being tried for his ministerial life. A num- 
ber of unseemly phrases were introduced, such as 
"after him with a sharp stick," etc., more befitting, 
a squabble between a brace of undeveloped lawyers 
in a magistrate's court than a Conference of grave 
divines sitting in judgment on the case of an ac- 
cused brother. This writer was deeply mortified 
at what seemed mere rivalship between some of 
the chief speakers at the expense of the feelings of 
the accused. The bearing of Mr. Truly throughput 
the protracted trial was that of a Christian gentle- 
man and dignified minister of the gospel. The re- 
sult of the whole investigation was that the specifi- 
cations were not sustained, and of course the charges 
were not. A motion was then made to "highly dis- 
approve of the conduct of B. R. Truly as set forth 
in the charges," etc.; but it was promptly voted 
down, and a motion to pass his character was large- 
ly sustained. 

We are not yet done with the humiliating trou- 
bles that came on us at this Conference. The truth 

In the Mississippi Conference. 521 

of history requires us to say a few words about 
the misfortunes of an amiable young minister by the 
name of Thomas B. Craighead, who finally became 
a confirmed lunatic. Mr. Craighead belonged to a 
wealthy, influential Tennessee family of high social 
position, in which State he was brought up. Being 
fond of military affairs, he connected himself with 
the United States Army, and was in the Florida 
War, where he was wounded in the heat of battle 
with the Seminole Indians. After a service of less 
than a year he dissolved his connection with the 
army and returned home. Having embraced reli- 
gion and believing it his duty to preach the gospel 
as an itinerant Methodist preacher, in the latter 
part of 1839 he was received on trial into the Ten- 
nessee Conference, where he traveled three years, 
graduating in due course to deacon's orders. In the 
meantime his father having settled in Southern 
Louisiana, in order to be near him, he obtained a 
transfer to our Conference. In 1843 he was sta- 
tioned in Baton Rouge, and at the ensuing Confer- 
ence was elected and ordained elder. The past year 
he was stationed in Franklin and Newtown, in 
Southern Louisiana. He was a young man of pop- 
ular manners and of acceptable preaching abilities, 
but was no doubt at- this time falling into that 
dreamy, erratic state of mind which terminated in 
a few years in confirmed, lifelong lunacy. On this 
ground alone can we account for some of his eccen- 
tricities connected with his conduct which led to 
his suspension from the ministry. At this Confer- 
ence he was charged by William G. Gould, his pre- 

522 A Complete History of Methodiim 

siding elder, with immorality. In the first specifi- 
cation he" was accused of attempting improper fa- 
miliarities with a married lady, and in the second 
he was accused of- writing a challenge to her hus- 
band. His case was referred to a committee con- 
sisting of William H. Watkins, Robert D. Smith, 
and John G. Jones, who reported the necessity of 
an investigation. Mr. Craighead was remarkably 
fond of well-kept- babies, and often indulged this 
fondness by toying with and kissing them, and this 
innocent practice seemed to be the entering wedge 
to his downfall. That he was even now to a con- 
siderable extent mentally deranged, the testimony 
in the case given by himself and other witnesses 
plainly shows. He made a visit one day to a lady 
of his charge in Franklin and found her nursing a 
sweet babe. He felt a sudden impulse to kiss the 
child; and setting his hat on the Bible that lay on 
the center table (as an evidence, he said, that his 
motive was pure), he stooped to kiss the babe and 
in doing so incautiously laid one hand on the lady's 
breast. Here the matter ended so far as kissing the 
baby was concerned. The lady's husband was § mas- 
ter of a steamboat, and when he came home she re- 
lated the circumstance to him, whereupon he fell 
into a great rage and, without giving Mr. Craighead 
the least warning, fell on him with a whip on the 
street. Mr. Craighead did not at 'first recognize 
him, but supposed he was a crazy man, and received 
several severe licks before he undertook to defend 
himself. Looking him in the face and seeing he 
was not crazy, he said he "called on the name of the 
Lord and knocked him down." Mr. Craighead's 

In the Mississippi Conference. 523 

friends out of the Church were wrought up to the 
highest pitch of indignation, and insisted that he 
would be justifiable in killing his assailant or at 
least in challenging him to mortal combat. His 
chivalry as a soldier was appealed to ; and, the whole 
affair being crowded into twenty-four hours, Mr. 
Craighead, with his mind already in a partial state 
of alienation, was prevailed on to write a challenge. 
But his assailant fled to his boat, raised steam, and 
left port. Some of Mr. Craighead's friends per- 
suaded him to get out a warrant and have him 
arrested and brought back, which was done; but 
other friends more prudent contrived to keep Mr. 
Craighead from knowing of his return, and he left 
again without Mr. Craighead seeing him, and here 
hostilities ended. David O. Shattuck made an able 
defense of Mr. Craighead, mainly on the ground 
that he had acquired the tone and habits of a sol- 
dier while in the army and only acted in accordance 
therewith in this case. The Conference, by vote, 
disapproved of the ground Mr. Shattuck took in 
the defense, and concluded that the purity of the 
ministry required Mr, Craighead's suspension, and 
voted accordingly. During the trial Mr. Craig- 
head conducted himself with the utmost propriety, 
though he seemed greatly discouraged, and said he 
did not think himself adapted to the itinerant min- 
istry and thought he never would try it again. His 
humble and quiet submission fo his fate only made 
us feel the greater sympathy-., for him. In a few 
vears he became an inmate of the Lunatic Asylum 
of Tennessee, where we presume he spent the last 
twenty-five years of his life, having but lately died. 

524 A Complete History of Methodism 

We never think of the noble young man and his sad 
fate without sorrowful emotions. 

After appointing visiting committees for Cente- 
nary College and Sharon Female College, passing 
our usual votes of thanks for the elegant and boun- 
tiful hospitality which we had enjoyed among the 
citizens of Port Gibson, and to the pastor and mem- 
bers of the Presbyterian Church for the use of their 
house of worship to hold our sessions in, and fix- 
ing on New Orleans for our next annual meeting, 
the appointments were announced and we adjourned 
after a session of ten days, some days having as- 
many as three sittings. 

We have nothing very special to record in regard 
to the appointments this year. The same men were 
continued in charge of districts. The only notice- 
able change is that the name of Paulding District 
was changed to Pearl River and David M. Wiggins 
was moved from Monroe District to Pearl River 
and John N. Hamill from Pearl River (formerly 
Paulding) to Monroe. 

Our town and city stations were generally sup- 
plied with suitable pastors, and the same may be 
said of most of the circuits. Since our pioneer serv- 
ice in newly settled regions had terminated we had 
been gradually increasing the number of experienced 
and efficient ministers until almost every pastoral 
charge was supplied with a suitable pastor. 

The Church papers this year teemed with long 
articles for and against the Plan of Separation, but 
our portion of the Church was fast settling down 
in quiet submission to a fate which we had not pro- 
voked and which we did not deserve. We had been 

In the Mississippi Conference. 525 

simply standing in our providential lot, and were 
earnestly engaged in preaching the gospel both to 
the "free and bond," and were often filled with joy 
to witness the humanizing effect of our labors both 
upon master and slave. 

Slaveholders were generally represented abroad 
as cruel to their slave*, but with few exceptions 
this representation was false and slanderous, and 
it is surprising that enlightened and honest minds 
could not see that it was. Apart from the claims 
of humanity and religion, every slave owner was 
bound by self-interest to provide well for his ne- 
groes and to protect them from all disabling inju- 
ries. What constituted their only value? Nothing 
but their ability to work and to continue to work to 
reasonable old age; and in order to make them 
efficient laborers they had to be kept in as good 
health as possible, and in order to this they had 
to be well fed, well clothed, weil housed, well rested, 
and well doctored and nursed in sickness. Un- 
der the humanizing influences of our holy Chris- 
tianity the owners of slaves were becoming more 
and more attentive to all these points in the treat- 
ment of their slaves. But we only refer to the im- 
proved condition of both master and slave as a part 
of our Conference historv, for we were chieflv instru- 
mental in bringing about these favorable changes. 

We have said we quietly submitted to the in- 
evitable separation of the Church, and so we did. 
But our labors were continued as formerly, and the 
Head of the Church crowned our labors with our 
usual success. We had this year an increase of 
one thousand three hundred and forty white, one 

526 A Complete History of Methodism. 

thousand five hundred and three colored, and one 
Indian member. It will be remembered that most of 
our Indian members had gone to the West, includ- 
ing nearly all the native preachers. In our German 
Mission in New Orleans we had a net increase this 
year of thirty members, making a total of ninety at 
the end of the year. 



The Mississippi Annual Conference which closed 
the business of 1845 and planned that for 1846 met 
in New Orleans December 10, 1845. The session 
was held in the lecture room of Poydras Street 
Church. Nearly sixty preachers who were mem- 
bers were present at the opening session, besides 
applicants for admission, probationers, and visiting 

Bishop Soule being delayed several days, William 
Winans was elected President, and Dr. Hayden Lea- 
vel Secretary. Dr. Leavel, for a beginner, made 
us an excellent Secretary. William Winans ought 
to have been a bishop, for whenever he presided he 
did things in a very bishop-like way. The Confer- 
ence was opened with Scripture-reading, singing, 
and prayer by Mr. Winans. There is something pe- 
culiar in the service of song at the opening of an 
Annual Conference on account of the absence of 
female voices and the full, clear, loud voices of the 
preachers. They usually sing the opening hymn, 
commencing "And are we yet alive?" with an unc- 
tion and tenderness witnessed nowhere else. 

After fixing the hours of meeting and adjourn- 
ment and appointing the requisite standing and 
special committees, Rev. Leroy Swormstedt, one of 


528 A Complete History of Methodism 

the Book Agents from Cincinnati, was introduced 
and addressed the Conference on the subject of his 
agency. He pressed the collection of his claims 
with great earnestness. Perhaps he thought this 
would be his last opportunity in the Mississippi 
Conference, as our final separation from the North- 
ern department of our Church was soon to be com- 

The interests of the Southwestern Christian Advo- 
cate, published at Nashville, under the patronage of 
five or six Annual Conferences in the Southwest, had 
assumed such proportions under the judicious man- 
agement and editorship of J. B. McFerrin that an 
Associate Editor became necessary, and Rev Moses 
M. Henkle had been elected as his associate in the 
editorial department. Mr. Henkle was introduced 
to the Conference and very efficiently represented the 
interests of our adopted paper. 

Rev. Charles B. Tippett, one of the Book Agents 
from New York, was also present, and after ad- 
dressing the Conference on the subject of his agen- 
cy pressed the collection of his claims with great 

Under the first question thirteen were admitted on 
trial, several of whom are yet ministers of mark 
in the several Conferences to which they now be- 
long, especially Reynolds Trippett and James L. 
Wright, of the Louisiana Conference, and Daniel 
Morse, of the East Texas Conference. Ever since 
New Orleans was thoroughlv stirred bv the session 
of an Annual Conference it had been quite produc- 
tive of young preachers. Three of the thirteen ad- 
mitted at this Conference were from the citv The 

In the Mississippi Conference. 529 

General Minutes give us but twelve admissions at 
this Conference, having overlooked the name of 
Daniel S. Watkins, found in the journal, and also as 
junior preacher on Natchitoches Circuit. 

We believe it our best policy as often as prac- 
ticable to hold our Annual Conferences in new 
places, even at some personal expense and incon- 
venience. Some among our sister denominations 
will have it that our preachers are less talented 
than theirs because they have not passed through 
what is technically called a theological seminary, 
and that our members are less educated and refined 
than those of their communion ; and nothing is bet- 
ter adapted to remove this prejudice, founded on 
ignorance, than the presence for a week of an An- 
nual Conference, with its bishop and array of the 
most talented and powerful preachers in the land, 
and all its other appendages of ordinations, admin- 
istration of ordinances, singing, praying, and public 
and private intercourse of the preachers with the 
people. We have in many instances known the 
current of public opinion greatly purified from ill- 
founded prejudices and turned in favor of our 
Church by a well-conducted Annual Conference. 

William M. Haskell and Norman Mclnnis were 
discontinued. Mr. Haskell literally ran away from 
the country about the first of May without stopping 
to bid his friends farewell. He passed through 
Louisville while the Convention was in session. We 
knew nothing against him except his preference for 
the Northern wing of the Church. Nineteen were con- 
tinued on trial, including De Witt C. Johnson, who 
came with a recommendation from Dr. E. W Sehon 
Vol. II.— 34 

530 A Complete History of Methodism 

as a probationer of one year's standing in the Ohio 
Conference, and in that standing was admitted 
among us; ten were received into full connection, 
and eleven traveling deacons were ordained and nine 
elders. Byron Benton and William H. Turnley, for- 
merly of our Conference, Humphrey William- 
son, late of the Alabama Conference, and Isaac 
Easterly, formerly of the Tennessee Conference, 
were readmitted; S. W D. Chase, late of the Illi- 
nois Conference, was received in elder's orders by 
transfer upon the certificate of Bishop Thomas A. 
Morris ; and Charles P. Clark was transferred from 
the Troy Conference in view of establishing a mis- 
sion among the French population of New Orleans 
and Southwestern Louisiana, he having learned the 
French language in reference to superintending the 
mission. We also received by transfer from the 
Alabama Conference EJenry P. Young for our Ger- 
man Mission in New Orleans, but he was, without 
receiving an appointment in our Conference, re- 
transferred to the Texas Conference and appointed 
to a'German Mission in Galveston; James H. Merrill, 
Benjamin C. Steagall, Elijah Gentry, Joel Sanders, 
Richard Overby, Winfre B. Scott, Asbury H. Shanks, 
Thomas B. Craighead, and James H. Stokes were 
located at their own request; William C. Payne, 
James Watson, Samuel Walker, Jesse Lee, William 
Stephenson, Thomas Owens, Peter James, and Wil- 
liam G. Gould were given a superannuated relation ; 
Henry H. Shropshire was expelled; and Robert D.- 
Smith had died. Thirteen local preachers were 
elected to deacon's and three to elder** orders. 
After what we have heretofore in occasional 

In the Mississippi Conference. 531 

sketches written about that "Israelite indeed, in 
whom was no guile/' Rev. Robert D Smith (whose 
death we are now called upon to record), he is no 
stranger to our readers. We have seldom known his 
equal in his entire devotion to the work of the min- 
istry and his untiring attention to every Christian 
and ministerial duty. He was as emphatically a 
man of one Book (the Bible) and one work as we 
ever knew During the eighteen years of his con- 
nection with our Conference he was fully effective, 
and was engaged in every variety of pastoral work. 
At the outset, as licentiate in the employment of 
the presiding elder and probationer in the Confer- 
ence, he traveled on circuits nearly two years; after 
that he was two years and a half a missionary in 
the Choctaw Nation until their removal to the West ; 
then he was stationed a year each in Montgomery 
and Mobile, Ala.; then successively in Vieksburg, 
New Orleans, and Natchez; after this he spent sev- 
eral years on circuits, two as President of the Eliz- 
abeth Female Academy, and two as presiding elder 
of the Vieksburg District. Our colored missions 
were growing in importance and popularity, and 
about 1842 several wealthy planters in the vicinity 
of Milliken s Bend, in Madison Parish, La., became 
anxious to have regular ministerial services among 
their numerous colored people. Mr. Smith, who had 
married Miss Ann Mariah McClure in Vieksburg 
on the 11th of November, 1833, and who now had his 
home there, was selected for this important mission- 
ary field, as it was within twenty-five miles of his 
place of residence, so that he was not under the 
necessity of taking his family to the Swamp. He 

532 A Complete History of Methodism 

seemed to think himself highly honored, after spend- 
ing so many years in our city stations and about 
our seminaries of learning (for he was one year at 
Centenary after leaving Elizabeth Academy), to be 
placed on a new colored mission, where he spent 
about two years and a half, happily and success- 
fully engaged, immediately preceding his death. 
There were some peculiarities about Mr. Smith, but 
they were all on the right side. Almost regardless 
of company or o*ther engagements, his hours for pri- 
vate devotion must be observed. After reading ex- 
tensively works of theology, history, and biography, 
in his latter years he almost ceased to read any book 
except the Bible. This holy Book he read slowly, 
prayerfully, and thoughtfully, often pausing over a 
sentence to meditate on it and drink in its full mean- 
ing. Personal holiness was his constant pursuit: 
for this he read and sang and prayed, and about 
this and its necessary concomitants he mostly con- 
versed. He seemed resolved to become as holy as 
God would have him to be in this world. But not- 
withstanding his entire consecration to God and his 
ministerial work, there was nothing ascetic, austere, 
or repulsive about him. He was refined, mild, and 
soft in his manners. Indeed, how could it be other- 
wise with a heart so richly and constantly imbued 
with the love of God and man? In person Mr. Smith 
was rather tall and spare, light-complexion, with an 
innocent and benevolent expression of countenance, 
and would have been taken by all good judges as a 
man of superior intellect. He was never boisterous 
in preaching, but very earnest and fluent. His ser- 
mons were more preceptive and hortatory than log- 

In the Mississippi Conference. 533 

ical. He chose rather to follow the leadings of the 
Spirit in preaching than to confine himself to any 
previously conceived plan of his own. He was la- 
boring with great acceptability and usefulness both 
to the white and colored people of his mission un- 
til he was attacked with the disease that terminated 
his connection with earth, on the 16th of May, 1845. 
As we have remarked in the preceding chapter, Rev. 
John Lane was prevented from attending the Louis- 
ville Convention, to which he had been elected, by 
severe family affliction; and this detention enabled 
him to attend our dear Brother Smith in his last 
hours. Mr. Lane asked him what the state of his 
mind was. To this he replied: "Very good; I am 
happy and feel like praising God every moment." 
He then asked him if he had anything he wished 
to communicate to his brethren of the Mississippi 
Conference. To this he replied, emphatically: "I 
have. Tell them to live holy." He retained the 
exercise of his mental faculties to the last, and only 
a few minutes before he ceased to breathe he was 
asked if his way was still clear. To this he replied : 
"Perfectly so, perfectly so; Christ died for sinners." 
He said no more. The silver cord was now loosened, 
and his purified and happy spirit returned to God 
who gave it. 

Our educational interests needed and claimed spe- 
cial attention at this Conference, especially our col- 
lege. Even the most sanguine among us were now 
convinced that a serious error had been commit- 
ted in locating our Centenary College at Brandon 
Springs, and we despaired of its ever coming up 
to our wants and anticipations in that secluded and 

534 A Complete History of Methodism 

out-of-the-way location. We were anxiously look- 
ing over our Conference territory for a better loca- 
tion when our attention was called to the Louisiana 
College, located in Jackson, East Feliciana Parish, 
La. It had not succeeded very well as a State in- 
stitution, and it was believed by those who wished 
to see it flourish that if it were turned over to us, 
with our known energy and large patronage, we 
could in a few years make a successful college of it. 
Interested parties, consisting of the Board of Trus- 
tees and, we believe, also the Legislature of the 
State, were consulted ; and after a free and full dis- 
cussion of the subject in all its bearings, it was 
agreed to turn the property over to a Board of Trus- 
tees appointed by the Mississippi Conference upon 
such conditions as we felt able to comply with. 
This was the state of affairs when this Conference 
met, and on the second day of the session we ap- 
pointed a committee on education to take the 
whole matter in relation to changing the location 
of Centenary College into consideration and re- 
port to the Conference. The committee consisted 
of Samuel W. Spear, William R. Nicholson, James 
Walton, James McClennen, and William H. Wat- 
kins, to which David O. Shattuck was afterwards 
added. After long consultation and deliberation 
the committee reported in favor of changing the 
location, of Centenary College from Rankin County, 
Miss., to Jackson, La., and recommended the imme- 
diate election pf a Board of Trustees to reeeive and 
hold the property of the Louisiana College in behalf 
of the Mississippi Conference of the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church, South, as soon as it could be legally 

In the Mississippi Conference. 535 

placed in their hands. We adopted the report of 
the committee and elected as our first Board of 
Trustees Hon. Edward HcGehee, Rev. William Wi- 
nans, D.D., Hon. John McVea, David Thomas, John 
W. Burruss, Rev. James H. Muse, S. H. Stockett, 
John S. Lewis, Ira Bowman, Rev. David Pipes, Rob- 
ert Perry, John Robson, and Joseph Carmina. Da- 
vid O. Shattuek was elected President, and with 
his Faculty and other movables was soon on the 
ground and had the college in successful operation. 
William Winans was appointed Traveling Agent in 
the interest of the new location, and John Lane to 
the more ungracious task of settling up the business 
of the former establishment. As the college enter- 
prise had originated with the Mississippians of our 
Conference, we consented to see our monev and 
patronage go to a sister State with some reluctance; 
but the college was so near our Southern bound- 
ary, and withal so convenient to the Louisiana part 
of our Conference, that we waived all opposition and 
determined to unite our influence and means in 
building up a first-class Southern college. We ap- 
pointed the Trustees irrespective of which State 
they lived in; and as we expected soon to set off 
Western Louisiana into a separate Conference, we 
passed a resolution "that each Conference should 
have equal interest and privileges in Centenary Col- 
lege, now located at Jackson, La." We had beau- 
tiful and ample grounds for a campus, with the 
buildings now known as the east and west wings, 
and a large frame building which answered for a 
chapel and the preparatory school department, an:l 
our institution at once took the form of a regular 

536 A Complete History of Methodism 

college of high^order with all the departments in 
regular and successful operation; and until it was 
crushed by the late war it was excelled by no other 
college in the Southwest. A large center building 
had been put up, and the college was increasing in 
popularity and usefulness until the late ruinous 
war. It has, however, been repaired and revived 
and started anew on its career of usefulness. 

Sharon Female Academy was still in successful 
operation, and a committee of five members of Con- 
ference was appointed to visit it and report its pros- 
pects to the next Conference. 

Our Female Academy at Vicksburg was not ulti- 
mately successful. Like many other promising in- 
stitutions, it went down under the great financial 
crash that swept over our country about this time. 

The same, to a great extent, may be said of our 
once promising young seminary at Emory, in Holmes 
County. Our long-cherished and very useful old 
Elizabeth Female Academy, at Washington, Miss., 
was now closing her once prosperous and brilliant 
career. Her former patrons were mostly dead or 
moved away and her limited patronage would not 
justify any further attempt to keep the academy 
afloat. The property went into the hands of John 
W Bryan, and the building in which so many of the 
daughters of our land had obtained a Christian 
education became the residence of his family. When 
we call to mind the number of young ladies who 
were converted there, especially during the presi- 
dency of Rev. John C Burruss, it seems to us yet 
as sacred ground. Some of our most useful female 
Church members, including the wives of several of 

Tn the Mississippi Conference. 537 

our prominent ministers, were brought into the king- 
dom of Christ while inmates of the Academic fam- 
ily. One we must mention by way of illustrating 
how deep and how genuine and lasting was the 
work of divine grace among the pupils. Mrs. A. L. 
Clinton, now the aged companion of our oldest pa- 
triarch, Rev. Thomas Clinton, and the mother of 
our late Rev. George H. Clinton, D.D., is a modest 
and unassuming Christian lady and seems only in- 
tent on discharging faithfully the duties of life and 
then going home to heaven. She has sent us a re- 
quest not to put her in our book, as she prefers 

To be little and unknown; 
Loved and prized by God alone. 

But really she must excuse us. As an author we 
claim the right to use what is exactly in our line of 
business and what we have legitimately obtained. 
We once heard her in her meek and quiet but melt- 
ing way tell in a love feast her early experience, 
and it is too good to be lost as a beautiful and en- 
couraging illustration of how sinners are brought to 
give themselves wholly to Christ. Away back in 
the dim past, more than a half century, Miss A. L. 
Hanna (now Mrs. Clinton) was placed, we think, 
as the ward of Rev. William Winans, as a pupil in 
the Elizabeth Female Academy. While there an 
extensive and deep religious interest took place 
among the pupils and numbers were hopefully con- 
verted. Among others, Miss Hanna was deeply 
awakened to a sense of her sinfulness, her destitu- 
tion of the favor of God, and her utter unfitness for 
heaven. While others looked on her as adorned with 
innocencv of life, she saw and deeply felt that her 

538 A Complete History of Methodism 

unrenewed heart was full of unbelief and sin and 
rebellion against the holy, just, and good law of 
God. She spent her leisure moments in reading the 
Holy Bible and meditating and praying in secret 
and bewailing, with tears of penitence, her con- 
scious alienation from God and exposure to his 
wrath as an unforgiven sinner. One evening after 
nightfall she felt anxious to be entirely alone with 
God, that she might without restraint pour out her 
heart in fervent and, if necessary, long-continued 
supplication to God for the sensible forgiveness of 
her sins. The only available place of entire seclusion 
she could call to mind was an old outhouse on the 
premises which had been abandoned and was fall- 
ing into decay. Thither she silently directed her 
steps and, feeling her way in, fell upon her knees 
and began to pour out the tale of her woes and her 
wants into the ears of Him who is "full of com- 
passion, ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy 
unto all that call upon him." Her full heart dic- 
tated her earnest whisper. God was there "ready to 
forgive." A bleeding Saviour was presented to the 
eyes of her faith. There was a momentary pause, 
attended with a steadfast looking to Jesus, then a, 
confiding trust in him as her present Saviour; then 
her mourning ceased, her sorrow subsided, her bur- 
den of sin was gone, and sweet peace, love, and joy 
pervaded her newborn soul ; that dilapidated old 
outhouse surrounded and filled with the darkness 
of night became to her a Bethel, the house of God 
and the gate of heaven. In January, 1S2S, she be- 
came the wife of Rev. Thomas Clinton, one of our 
most laborious itinerant preachers, and patiently 

In the Mississippi Conference. 539 

and faithfully has she fulfilled the duties of her re- 
lation to the ministry. She became the mother of 
ten children, nine of whom lived to manhood and 
womanhood. One son became an eminent minister, 
two daughters the wives of ministers ; six of the ten, 
we have good hope, are now in paradise, and the 
remaining four, we trust, are safely on the way. If 
our mother in Israel should live to read this imper- 
fect sketch of her early experience as we reproduce 
it from memory after the lapse of many years, we 
ask her to excuse our liberty. We wish her clear 
and scriptural conversion preserved not only for 
the benefit of her own descendants but also for the 
benefit of the Church. We wish the glorious fact 
constantly kept before the minds of our people that 
they can be converted and know that they are con- 
verted. We have inserted this brief narrative just 
here as illustrative of many similar conversions that 
occurred about the same time and as a sort of final 
farewell to our dear old Elizabeth Female Academy, 
which for so many years was the nursery of youth- 
ful refinement, intelligence, and piety. It is diffi- 
cult to realize the fact that of all the bright and 
happy faces we used to meet there fifty years ago 
only three or fotfr now survive. With many of them 
we hope to meet in fairer worlds on high. 

We had a manuscript presented to our Conference 
by our old and highly esteemed friend, Hon. Seth 
Lewis, of Opelousas; but precisely what it was the 
author does not now recollect, nor has he the means 
of ascertaining. It was referred for examination 
to an intelligent committee, whose report was adopt- 
ed; but if the manuscript was published, it has es- 

540 A Complete History of Methodism 

caped our memory. Judge Lewis was a» forcible 
writer, and many of his fugitive pieces were pub- 
lished in the Church periodicals of the day. 

Pleasant B. Baily «nd Benjamin M. Drake were 
appointed a committee to write a pastoral address 
to the Churches under our charge. In due time they 
presented a very suitable address, which was ordered 
to be published in the Southwestern Christian Ad- 
vocate and to be read by each preacher in charge to 
his congregations. 

Bishop Soule arrived in time to take the chair 
on Monday, the 15th. It afforded us great pleasure 
to enjoy his presence and wise counsels once more. 
The more than one score of years which he had spent 
in the general superintendency had brought him 
to something like maturity in the episcopacy ; for 
a bishop has to improve by experience and practice 
as well as other ministers. 

We are glad to be reminded by an entry in the 
journal that the Quarterly Conference of Plaque- 
mine Station had relicensed Thomas B. Craighead, 
who was suspended at our last Conference, to 
preach, and petitioned our Conference to remove his 
suspension and restore him to his former standing 
as a traveling elder, all of which was accordingly 
done. He afterwards asked for and obtained an 
honorable location. 

There seemed to be a sort of morbid disposition' 
about this date with a few brethren to bring little 
misunderstandings and trivial complaints against 
the preachers into Conference instead of settling 
them by mutual explanations between the parties 
or privately in the presence and with the advice 

In the Mississippi Conference. 541 

of mutual friends. The most of them amounted to 
nothing in the end, except to irritate feelings and 
consume our precious time. 

A committee of five was appointed to investigate 
charges that it was said would be preferred against 
Thomas Price, who had been stationed in Yazoo 
City the previous year. Some one, we think, outside 
of the Conference (the journal does not say whom) 
charged Mr. Price with maladministration of Disci- 
pline and improper conduct in a preacher in charge 
of a circuit, professedly supported by an array of 
specifications. After consuming much time in tak- 
ing oral testimony and reading that which came in 
the form of documentary evidence, and a free and 
full discussion of the whole subject, the whole ar- 
ray of specifications and charges fell flat, being 
wholly unsupported by a particle of legal testimony, 
and the character of Mr. Price passed unanimously. 
So much for indulging too much human nature 
against a preacher in charge for a conscientious 
administration of Discipline. 

Farquhar Mathewson, who had been acting the 
previous year as Agent for Centenary College, had 
got into some trouble (the journal does not say 
what) ; and after deliberating awhile over the mat- 
ter, the Conference granted him a conditional loca- 
tion with the understanding that the presiding elder 
of the Alexandria District, in which he had his 
home, should look into his case officially. He was 
expelled at the first Louisiana Conference, and in a 
few years he finished his course on earth. 

Daniel Dealey was a good little man, a warm- 
hearted Methodist, a fluent and zealous preacher, 

542 A Complete History of Methodism 

intent on discharging all his duties and improving 
his ministerial talents, but rather too impulsive 
and sensitive. He had been on the Covington Cir- 
cuit the past year, and some one charged him with 
maladministration in expelling a member without 
a legal form of trial and talking uncharitably about 
a certain individual. After a full investigation of 
his case both in committee and Conference Mr. Dea- 
ley, with evident regret, acknowledged that he had 
been too hasty in the expulsion of the member re- 
ferred to and under excited feelings had spoken 
uncharitably of the other individual, and promised 
to be more guarded in future. The Conference then 
passed his character. 

John N. Hamill, who had presided over the Mon- 
roe District the previous year, was complained of for 
something by somebody (the journal does not say 
what or by whom). His case was referred to a com- 
mittee of three elders, who, after a full investigation 
of the alleged complaints, reported that they found 
nothing deserving censure, and his character passed 
without reproach. 

It is humiliating to record these little complaints 
against some of our preachers, often growing out 
of mere prejudice or misapprehension on the part 
of the complainants; but we find reference to them 
on the journal ; and as the writer often served on 
the investigating committees and still recollects the 
futile nature of many of those complaints, he deems 
it due to the memorv of his brethren, where thev 
were proven to be clear of anything blameworthy, 
to record their justification. 

We deeply deplored the sudden downfall of Henry 

In the Mississippi Conference. 543 

H. Shropshire, who had been in the itinerancy- six 
years. We believe he was a dentist by profession, 
was a young man of fair education and good preach- 
ing abilities, and had labored acceptably and use- 
fully among us. As Bishop George once remarked 
in reference to a similar case : "There is no safetv 
this side of heaven." Perhaps a more appropriate 
quotation would be: "Watch and pray always, that 
ye enter not into temptation." Mr. Shropshire had 
been incautiously left in circumstances which ex- 
posed him to temptation, and he attempted liberties 
with a young woman. A few hours' reflection over- 
whelmed him with a sense of his guilty intention, 
and he confessed his sin and submitted to expul- 
sion as a deserved punishment. He resumed the 
practice of his profession beyond the limits of our 
Conference, and we have good hope that his repent- 
ance was complete and that he ultimately died in 
peace. O how sad to think what mischief a minis- 
ter may do to himself, his brethren, and the Church 
of God in one unguarded, prayerless moment ! 

Benjamin A. Houghton had been somewhat prom- 
inent in our Conference for twentv vears. He was 
intelligent, refined in his social habits, and was a 
well-read and sound theologian, though not a de- 
monstrative revivalist. He filled many of our best 
appointments with acceptability; and being a man 
of good business talents, he was often called to 
serve on important committees at our Annual Con- 
ferences. He was the only one in our Conference 
who adhered North on the division of the Church. 
Why, he seemed unable to explain very satisfactorily. 
At the previous Conference, when we were about to 

544 A Complete History of Methodism 

recommend the Plan of Separation for adoption 
by the Louisville Convention, Mr. Houghton talked 
and wept, and said he could not think of leaving 
the old Church in which he was converted in Ala- 
bama and in whose ministry he had spent the prime 
of his life in the Mississippi Conference. This talk 
about leaving the old Church was then, as it is to 
this day, nothing, to say the least against it, but 
a false and utterly mistaken view of the subject. 
We left no Church, but remained in the same old 
Methodist Episcopal Church as it was originally 
founded bv our fathers in the Southern States and 
had been perpetuated to the day of our legal sepa- 
ration from the Northern portion of the Church 
for good and sufficient reasons. This writer is fully 
assured that he is in the same Church to-day (October 
10, 1875) that he joined just fifty-four years ago, and 
that he has never been out of it a minute since. 
Mr. Houghton was last year in charge of Yazoo 
Circuit, but what amount of service he rendered we 
do not know. His mind was made up to adhere 
North; and as this implied Unit he was not loyal 
to his native South, his services were endured but 
were not cordially acceptable. He did not come to 
this Conference, but wrote us a defiant letter, stat- 
ing that he was no longer of us and would have 
nothing to do with our new concern, but intended 
to adhere to the old Church. It is not of anv im- 
portanee for us to show the utter fallacy of his 
assumed position. We suppose that what he called 
the old Church was about as old as what he called 
our new concern, but no older. The Conference 
simply passed a resolution that his name be entered 

In the Mississippi Conference. 545 

on the journal as having adhered to the Methodist 
Episcopal Church, North. He lived retired after 
this and had but little influence as a minister, but 
so.far as we know he maintained his personal piety. 
He fell into bad health and died in a few years, we 
believe, somewhere on our Gulf Coast, whither he 
had gone in quest of health. Elias R. Porter in- 
formed the writer that Mr. Houghton on his death- 
bed seemed fully assured of his final salvation, but 
complained that he had to labor so hard for breath 
that he could not realize his glorious triumph as 
he desired. 

In all our territory we knew of only one layman 
who was opposed to the division of the Church upon 
the adopted Plan of Separation ; but he soon relin- 
quished his opposition, and died since the war in full 
fellowship with the Methodist Episcopal Church, 

One of the most important subjects that came 
up for consideration at this Conference was the 
division of the Conference so as to erect a new Con- 
ference in Western Louisiana. Some of our leading 
men east of the Mississippi River were opposed to 
the division, as they thought those west of the river 
would be too few* and too weak to make a respecta- 
ble Conference. The writer took a different view 
of the subject and, though he intended to remain in 
Mississippi, was decidedly in favor of making the 
new Conference as an act of justice to the Western 
Louisianians. Hitherto that part of our territory, 
from the days of Elisha W .Bowman in 1806, had 
been supplied mainly by our young, inexperienced 
preachers, many of them only in their first and sec- 
Vol. II.— 35 

546 A Complete History of Methodism 

ond year and not qualified by ordination to admin- 
ister the ordinances. The consequence was thar, 
though these undergraduates in the Conference did 
the best they could, it was not to be expected that 
they could develop all the resources of Methodism 
and be very successful in elevating the Church to 
its proper standard. 

Another great hindrance to the progress of the 
Church in Western Louisiana was that as soon as 
a young preacher began to develop into ministerial 
influence and usefulness west of the river it was 
thought that his services were more needed on the 
first-class circuits and in the town and city stations 
east of the river; and he was accordingly moved east- 
ward and his place supplied in Louisiana by a pro- 
bationer. The consequence was, the Western Louisi- 
anians were not permitted to keep the choice young 
men that they occasionally had among them. 

Another telling hindrance to Louisiana always 
had been that the Conference sessions were invaria- 
bly held east of the river, which, in distance and the 
time occupied in crossing and recrossihg the forty 
or fifty miles of overflowed swamp, caused the 
preachers often to Ipse from one to two months 
annually away from their fields of labor. We 
thought all these hindrances to the prosperity and 
growth of the Church in Louisiana would be re- 
moved by erecting the preachers west of the river 
into an independent and self-sustaining Conference, 
with the additional advantage that if a good preach- 
er should be transferred to Louisiana he would not 
be taken away at the end of the first year and sent 
east of the river. After a free discussion of the 

In the Mississippi Conference. 547 

subject and fixing the eastern boundary so as to 
give Baton Rouge and New Orleans to the Louisi- 
ana Conference as the most suitable places at that 
date to hold their annual sessions, we passed a 
resolution instructing our delegates to the ensuing- 
General Conference, to meet on the 1st of May, 1846, 
in Petersburg, Va., to use their best endeavors to 
obtain the proposed division of our Conference ; and 
so certain were we of success that the work was 
adjusted in view of it, and we elected Natchez as the 
place of holding the Mississippi Conference and 
Opelousas as the place for that of Louisiana. 

We obtained a confirmation of the division of the 
Conference from the General Conference, and we 
have not been disappointed in the anticipated benefi- 
cial results. Louisiana Methodism has developed in 
every essential interest immensely since then ; and 
had it not been for the accumulating results of 
our most disastrous war, followed by the worst 
government ever known among civilized men, the 
Louisiana Conference to-day would be one of the 
most desirable Conferences in the connection. We 
believe she yet has a glorious future before her. 

Earlv in the session a committee of five, consist- 
ing of David O. Shattuck, William R. Nicholson, 
James Walton, William F. Brown, and Levi Pearce, 
was appointed to consider and review the doings 
of the Louisville Convention. After deliberating 
five days the committee submitted an able report, 
approving in eulogistic terms the doings of the Con- 
vention, which, after a few verbal amendments, was 
adopted with a request to have it published in the 
Southwestern Christian Advocate. 

548 A Complete History of Methodism 

We elected as our delegates to the first General 
Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
South, Green M. Kogers, Lewell Campbell, William 
Winans, Benjamin M. Drake, John G. Jones, An- 
drew T. M. Fly, and John Lane. We put down the 
names of the delegates in the order in which they 
were elected and recorded in our journal, and not 
as they stand on the journal of the General Con- 
ference. Some of our older delegates ran behind 
their usual ticket because they were suspected of 
being opposed to the division of the Conference. 
Samuel W Speer, William H. Watkins, and Rich- 
mond Handle were elected reserve delegates. An 
incident occurred in connection with this election 
of delegates that it would be well for voters to bear 
in mind in writing their tickets. There were three 
Joneses in the Conference eligible to election. Bish- 
op Soule forgot to tell the Conference that where 
there were more than one of the same name eligi- 
ble to be voted for the initial letters must precede 
the surname or the ticket would be thrown out. The 
result of this omission was that a score of votes were 
cast with only the surname of Jones, which were 
thrown out as a dead loss to the Jones brotherhood. 
William M. Wightman would have been elected 
bishop in 1854 instead of 1866 had it not been for 
a defective ticket which made a tie, and at the next 
balloting he fell behind just enough to be left out. 
Some one, preparing his ticket in haste, had writ- 
ten W M. Bishop instead of W M. Wightman, and 
Bishop Soule, who was in the chair, ordered it 
thrown out. We believe that justice to the voter, 
who had inadvertently made the mistake, ought to 

In the Mississippi Conference. 549 

have suggested an arrest of the proceedings until he 
could identify' his ticket and correct the uninten- 
tional mistake. 

Toward the middle of the session the Bishop in- 
formed us of the transfer of Asbury Davidson from 
the Memphis to our Conference. Mr. Davidson 
proved to be a very valuable accession. We shall 
meet him hereafter filling some of our most impor- 
tant charges. 

Kev. Charles B. Tippett, the Book Agent from 
New York, was very industrious during the session 
in his efforts to collect what was due from our 
preachers to the Concern. At each morning session, 
as soon as Conference was fairly opened, he generally 
urged the brethren to repair to his office in the 
adjoining room and settle their accounts as soon 
as possible. Perhaps he saw that the Southern 
Conferences intended to carry out the Plan of Sepa- 
ration in good faith, and that this was the last time 
a Book Agent from New York would ever visit the 
Mississippi Conference on a collecting tour. The 
writer paid no attention to his urgent and oft-re- 
peated calls, knowing that he was innocent of any 
indebtedness to the New York Book Concern, until 
one day he sent' one of the young preachers to ar- 
rest him in the Conference room and require his 
presence immediately in his office. We obeyed the 
call, supposing he wished to get some information 
from us about some debtor, when he with a reprov- 
ing countenance, holding before our eyes a long 
account showing an indebtedness of about four hun- 
dred dollars, asked us why we paid no attention 
to his daily calls and neglected to come forward 

550 A Complete History of Methodism 

and settle our account, as » he had a right to expect 
from a man of our standing in the Conference? 
We saw his mistake at a glance and concluded not 
to tease him, as we had once teased Leroy Sworm- 
stedt under similar circumstances and about the 
same man, and told him promptly that he had been 
misled by a similarity of names, that the account 
was made out against J. I. and not J. G. Jones, the 
latter being the only name we used in our business 
transactions. "Is it possible, Brother Jones," said 
Mr. Tippett, "that I have been mistaken about the 
right man all this time? I have really felt like 
complaining against you for several days for what 
I supposed was sheer neglect on your part. I ask 
your pardon. Do tell me who this J. I. Jones is; 
and what is the prospect of ever collecting this ac- 
count, now of several years' standing?" We told 
him the debtor had once been a member of our Con- 
ference, but was now local, and we supposed the 
prospect of collecting the account was not ait all 
encouraging. We suppose Mr. Jones had ordered 
books both from Cincinnati and New York, and 
after selling them had used the money for private 
purposes, so that when pay day came he had not 
the means of paying according to promise. We must 
again enter our protest against this way of doing 
business. It is a breach of v trust that no Christian 
ought to be guilty of to use money in our hands 
belonging to other parties for our own private or 
any other purpose. We should rather clothe our- 
selves in threadbare garments, live on half rations, 
and work at any honest trade to keep from starving 
than to be guilty of a practice so unchristian. When 

In the Mississippi Conference. 551 

our Publishing Houses let our preachers have books 
on credit, we were often deeply mortified with the 
tardiness with which some of them paid their ac- 
counts, and especially with those who never paid 
at all. 

Before our Conference adjourned we solemnly 
passed the following resolution : 

Resolved, That the last Friday in April next be set 
apart as a day of general fasting and prayer throughout 
the bounds of our Conference for the blessing of God to 
rest upon the deliberations of our General Conference, 
and that the preachers in charge be requested to publish 
this resolution in their Churches. 

This resolution was very agreeable to our views 
and feelings. We desired that our people every- 
where should pray earnestly that the great Head 
of the Church would be manifestly present at our 
General Conference, as it was to be the first in our 
separate organization, and to direct in all its delib- 
erations and conclusions, that everything necessary 
might be done to preserve the Church in safety and 
to advance the cause of "pure and undefiled reli- 
gion" in all our borders. 

After a session of fourteen days, embracing two 
Sabbaths (the longest we ever held), the Conference 
adjourned December 23. 

The older ministers among us had become some- 
what familiar with setting off new Conferences from 
the old central Mississippi Conference, but still it 
was an affecting scene to part with those who would 
be embraced in the Louisiana Conference, many of 
whom we should see no more in the flesh. We believe 
there is no more affectionate and loving brotherhood 

552 A Complete History of Methodism 

in Christendom than that of the itinerant Metho- 
dist preachers. The fellowship of mutual toil and 
suffering in the same blessed cause . binds them to 
each other by the strongest cords of confidence and 
love, and to separate them prospectively for life is 
like the severance of the most endeared household. 
This final parting on earth, occasioned by the neces- 
sary division of Conferences, from our long-tried 
and greatly beloved fellow-laborers and fellow-suf- 
ferers would scarcely be bearable were it not for 
the blessed hope of a reunion in a brighter and sin- 
less world when all our earthly toils and sorrows 
are ended. Filled with this hope, we bade our 
brethren of Western Louisiana an affectionate fare- 
well at the close of our Conference. 

There had been in the Bishop's Council a read- 
justment of the work in reference to the contem- 
plated and expected division of the Conference. 
That portion intended for the Louisiana Conference 
was organized into four districts, respectively named 
New Orleans, Attakapas, Alexandria, and Monroe. 
Squire W D. Chase was appointed presiding elder 
on the New Orleans District, John Powell on the At- 
takapas, William F Brown on the Alexandria, and 
John N. Hamill on the Monroe. There were thirty- 
five pastoral charges in those four districts, consist- 
ing of stations, circuits, and colored missions, to 
which Baton Rouge was to be added when the divi- 
sion was confirmed; and nearly all of them were 
well supplied with effective and promising preach- 
ers, mostly comparatively young in the ministry. 
Including the presiding elders, the Louisiana Con- 
ference, at the start, numbered forty-one traveling 

In the Mississippi Conference. 553 

preachers, a few of whom returned ultimately to the 
Mississippi Conference either by transfer or location 
and readmission. At the end of the first year our 
Louisiana brethren reported fifty-seven local preach- 
ers and an aggregate membership of eight thousand 
one hundred and one whites and three thousand 
three hundred and twenty-nine colored, so that the 
reader will see that we gave our beloved daughter a 
good patrimony to commence housekeeping. Hence- 
forth this historian will have but little to say about 
Western Louisiana, though it has always seemed to 
be a part of us. But we act under orders to write 
"a complete history of the Mississippi Conference," 
so that we must leave the history of our numerous 
daughters to be written by other authors. What we 
have written about them up to the time they were 
set off may be considered fully reliable, as we have 
kept our journal and the General Minutes constant- 
ly before us, with the additional fact that we have 
been personally a part of their history, so that their 
future historians may safely commence where we 
have left off. We trust, before it is too long de- 
layed, that each of the ten Conferences organized 
on territory heretofore included in the Mississippi 
Conference (including the German Mission Confer- 
ence) will at no distant day appoint a historian to 
write its history to a late date. The ten Conferences 
alluded to are the Alabama, North Alabama, North 
Mississippi, Louisiana, East Texas, Texas, West Tex- 
as, Northwest Texas, Trinity, and the German Mis- 
sion (partly in Louisiana and Texas) 

The Mississippi Conference at the division re- 
tained five districts, named Baton Rouge, Natchez, 

554 .1 Complete History of Methodism, 

Vicksburg, Pearl River, and Sharon, with the same 
presiding elder of the previous year on each. In- 
cluding stations, circuits, and colored missions, we 
had forty-nine pastoral charges. Six of these, how- 
ever, were on the western margin of the Mississip- 
pi River, and fell to the Louisiana Conference at 
the end of the year, with six of the seven preachers 
who were appointed to travel them. Including the 
six who were included in the Louisiana Conference 
on final division, we had forty-nine effective men, 
with the exception of one supernumerary. Our first 
return of statistics after the division, including the 
increase of this year, gave us ten thousand and nine- 
ty-five white and five thousand eight hundred and 
fifty-four colored members, making an aggregate of 
fifteen thousand nine hundred and forty-nine mem- 
bers to commence anew with. The number of local 
preachers is not given either in the journal or print- 
ed Minutes. Most of the old, experienced, and tal- 
ented ministers fell to the Mississippi Conference 
from the fact that their families were settled in our 

Our General Conference at Petersburg, Va., this 
year perfected our separate ecclesiastical organiza- 
tion, and we now felt like settling down to our 
divinely appointed work in good earnest. Our col- 
ored missions were increasing continually in num- 
ber and popularity. Many of them had become self- 
supporting pastoral charges. The planters began 
to feel that it was derogatory to their character to 
have their servants preached to at the expense of 
others, and took a laudable pride in paying their 
pastor well. Some of our colored charges, especial 

In the Mississippi Conference. 555 

ly those in the valley between the Mississippi and 
Yazoo Rivers, became the best-paying circuits in the 
Conference. Numbers of our patronizing planters 
were nonresidents, some members of other commun- 
ions, and many not members ; yet they took a praise- 
worthy interest in having their colored people regu- 
larly served with the gospel, and in making their 
moneyed arrangements always set apart a sufficient 
sum for the pastor of their servants. Their over- 
seers were also instructed to make all necessary ar- 
rangements for the public service, and see that the 
plantation bell was duly rung at the appointed 
time. We now hear a vast amount of bell-ringing 
in some of our town and city stations to collect a 
congregation of from fifty to one hundred people; 
but in those days it was no uncommon thing for 
the plantation bell to call together several hundred 
willing and deeply interested African hearers at the 
usual place of worship. 

We have seldom known any minister more deli'ght- 
ed with what we called the colored work than Lew- 
ell Campbell. "Give me the negroes, if you please," 
he would say to the bishop ; and he entered into the 
work witt a vim,. A large portion of the Vicksburg 
District, over which he now presided, was now made 
up of colored charges. Levi Pearce was this year 
stationed in Woodville; William H. Crenshaw, in 
Baton Rouge; Benjamin Jones, in Natchez; James 
L. Forsyth and John C. Miller, in Port Gibson and 
Grand Gulf; Asbury Davidson, in Vicksburg; Hay- 
den Leavel, in Jackson; Edward Doty, in Clinton 
and Raymond; and John I. E. Byrd, in Yazoo City. 
The circuits were generally well manned and in a 

556 A Complete History of Methodism. 

safe and growing condition. Erastus R. Strickland, 
with James'Y Griffin as his colleague, was mowing 
a wide swath on Bayou Pierre Circuit in the way of 
building churches, taking in members, and keeping 
things stirred generally. We always expected" some- 
thing extra in the way of church-building where Mr. 
Strickland labored. "Put up suitable places for 
nests," he would say, "if you wish to collect the 
martins. Build suitable churches in central locali- 
ties, and the people will come to them."