Fernandez C. Holliday.

Indiana Methodism : being an account of the introduction, progress, and present position of Methodism in the State; and also a history of the literary institutions under the care of the church, with s online

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Online LibraryFernandez C. HollidayIndiana Methodism : being an account of the introduction, progress, and present position of Methodism in the State; and also a history of the literary institutions under the care of the church, with s → online text (page 4 of 27)
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Wiley was apointed as junior preacher on Lawrenceburg
Circuit, with Samuel West in charge. Wiley and Ruter
will hereafter figure largely in the history of Indiana
Methodism. Wiley had traveled a part of the preceding


year on Lawrenceburg Circuit, under the direction of the
presiding elder, with Russel Bigelow in charge. He had
yielded to the importunity of Bigelow to travel three
months; but instead of terminating with three months, it
became the business of a long life. Bigelow and Wiley
Avere united in the bonds of friendship as closely as
David and Jonathan. There were several incidents con-
nected with Wiley's first year on Lawrenceburg Circuit
with Mr. Bigelow, that are worth relating. Although
their circuit extended from the vicinity of Brookville
down to Madison, on the Ohio Biver, they materially
enlarged its bounds during the year, and added a num-
ber of new appointments. In several of the societies
there w^ere glorious revivals of religion during the year.
Wiley's own house was made a preaching-place, and al-
though, a few months previous, there was not a dwelling
within two miles of his, yet such was the emigration,
and such the work of God among the new-comers, that
during the year a society of forty members was raised up.
One night, when there was an appointment for Bigelow
to preacli at Wiley's house, a crowd collected, and dur-
ing the first prayer the power of God was manifested
among the people, and many began to cry for mercy.
So great was their distress that preaching was dispensed
with, and penitents were at once invited to the mourn-
ers'-bench ; and great was the work of the Lord among
the people. During this year there was a glorious re-
vival of religion at Allensville, a small village in the
northern part of Switzerland County. One day Wiley
was preaching in Allensville from the words, " The eyes
of the Lord are over the righteous." Li the exposition
of the text, he remarked that when the Scriptures as-
cribed eyes and hands and other bodily parts to the
Deity, they were not to be understood literally, but as


expressive of attributes and operations of the Deity.
There was present a lady who had been a confirmed Deist
for a number of years. She had supposed that Chris-
tians believed all such expressions were to be understood
as physically descriptive of God, and she always regarded
with contempt such a petty and local God as these ex-
pressions seemed to intimate the God of the Bible to be.
She was led to think more seriously about the Bible and
its doctrines than she had formerly done. Not long
after hearing this sermon, she was riding alone through
the woods, when a limb fell from a tree and came near
striking her, and in her fright she exclaimed, "Lord
Jesus!" This alarmed her the more, to think that she
should invoke a name for which she felt no respect.
This incident fastened conviction upon her mind. Not
long afterward she went to hear Mr. Bigelow preach.
She became powerfully convicted, and was soon after-
ward happily converted to God; and her conversion was
followed by a powerful revival of religion all over the
neighborhood. There had settled in the vicinity of
Buchanan Station, a post about midway between Mad-
ison and Versailles, a man by the name of John Bichey,
who had been a local preacher in Kentucky, but who
had got out of the Church, and was a miserable back-
slider. One day he came to hear Wiley preach, and he
was so deeply impressed that he remained after the ser-
mon, to converse with the preacher about his condition.
He stated that he had not heard a traveling preacher for
some years, and that he had not read a chapter in the
Bible for three years, that it tortured him beyond endur-
ance to read the Bible. Two weeks after, when Bigelow
came around, he united with the Church, and in a short
time was reclaimed, and was made a class-leader, then
an exhorter, and afterward a local preacher. And he be-


came one of the most useful and popular local preachers
in all the land,

A new society was formed during this year, about
nine miles south-west from Brookville, and another on the
dividing ridge between South Hogan and Laughery, near
where Mount Tabor meeting-house now stands. During
this year there were two glorious camp-meetings held
within the bounds of Lawrenceburg Circuit. One had
been held the year previous, about five miles above Har-
rison, on Whitewater, near what is known as the Lower
Narrows. This meeting was under the superintendence
of Hezekiah Shaw. This was the first camp-meeting ever
held in Indiana. Mr. Shaw was very anxious to secure
good order during the meeting, but was not the most judi-
cious in the use of the means he employed. He posted at
the different cross-roads, and other public places through-
out the neighborhood, written notices, threatening the
public with three dollars' fine, to be assessed by a magis-
trate in the neighborhood, for Sunday breaches of order.
There was, however, no disturbance; but a witty fellow,
by the name of Breckenridge, paraphrased Shaw's posters
in a kind of doggerel poetry, every stanza ending with
"three dollars' fine." This furnished a great deal of
sport among the idlers around the encampment. During
this meeting an intelligent gentleman, by the name of
Merwin, whose education had been in another Church,
was struck under deep conviction, while listening to a
sermon from William Houston, wdio was that year trav-
eling the Cincinnati Circuit. He went home that evening
greatly excited on the subject of religion. His soul's
salvation had become the absorbing subject of his med-
itations. He retired to bed with a heavy heart, mourn-
ing his sins and imploring the Divine mercy. While in
this state of mind, all at once light broke into his mind


and love flowed through his heart, and he felt as though
he Avas in a new world. With him all things had be-
come new, he shouted aloud, and spent most of the night
in praising the Savior.

In 1817 there were two camp-meetings held on the
Lawrenceburg Circuit, which that year enjoyed the
labors of Hussel Bigelow, aided by Allen Wiley. The
first of these was on the bank of Crooked Creek, within
the limits of the present city of Madison. Down to
Saturday morning the meeting dragged heavily. The
appointment for eleven o'clock, on Saturday, had been
reserved for Thomas Helium, one of the preachers from
Whitewater Circuit, who was expected at the meeting.
Just before the hour of meeting, as Mr. Helium had not
arrived, Bigelow said to Wiley: "You will have to
preach." Up to this time Wiley had preached more
from a conviction of duty than from any love of preach-
ing. But on that morning he remarked that he felt,
for the first time, a desire to preach. And when told
that he must preach at that hour, the intelligence was
welcome. He requested Bigelow to tell him where the
following passage could be found: "The wicked is
driven away in his wickedness ; but the righteous hath
hope in his death." Bigelow named the chapter and
verse, and Wiley immediately commenced the service
of the hour. As he advanced, God filled his mind with
ideas, and his heart with zeal, and he preached with
great success. At the close of the sermon twelve or
fifteen came forward for prayers ; and the work of con-
version commenced, and continued to the close of the
meeting. Bigelow preached the closing sermon on Mon-
day, which was one of decided ability, and was attended
with displays of Divine power. The results of the meet-
ing were truly glorious. Many substantial citizens,


who lived for years as ornaments of piety, and earnest
workers for the Lord, were added to the Church. The
.revival did not close with the camp-meeting, but con-
tinued with unabated interest for some time. The local
preachers in the vicinity kept up the meetings in the
absence of the traveling preachers, and the work went
gloriously forward, and many were converted at their
houses, as well as at the place of meeting.

The other camp-meeting was held near the bank
of South Hogan, nearly opposite the village of Cochran,
and at the foot of the hill, on the left of the road lead-
ing from Aurora to Wilmington, on the land of Mr. Mil-
burn. At this meeting Bigelow closed his official labors
on Lawrenceburg Circuit. There were, perhaps, as many
conversions at this camp-meeting as there had been
during the progress of the Madison camp-meeting; but
its influence was not as extensive, nor its permanent
fruits as great. The meeting closed on Monday, in a
very solemn and impressive manner. Bigelow formed
the congregation into a company, like soldiers, in double
file, and marched around the encampment, singing ap-
propriate farewell hymns. After which the preachers
took their stand at some convenient point, and bade
them all farewell by shaking hands with each of them,
and getting pledges from as many as they could to meet
them in heaven. It was truly a heart-melting time.
Christians had been associated together in the worship
of God for several days on what was to them a conse-
crated spot. It had been made holy ground by reason
of the displaj^s of Divine power and mercy. There they
had prayed and rejoiced together, and many of them
had found peace in believing ; and now they were about
to separate, never all of them to meet again on earth.
Bigelow was bidding adieu to his flock, and he exhorted


them, in touching strains of eloquence, to meet him in
heaven. The results of such meetings will never be
fully known until God shall collect his ransomed ones.
The Lord shall count, when he righteth up the people,
that "this man was born there;" for many shall date
their spiritual birth-place upon that camp-ground. And
we hold it as a good omen that camp-meetings are again
reviving. Notwithstanding the number of commodious
churches, both in town and country, camp-meetings will
produce a popular effect that no other meetings will.
They break up the current of wordly thought, and, by
their continual daily services, make a profounder impres-
sion than the brief services in our churches can possibly
do. Let us perpetuate our camp-meetings, and not de-
sert the venerable groves,

" God's ancient sanctuaries, and adore
Only among the crowd, and under roofs
That our frail hands have raised."

In 1818, the charges in Indiana were as follows:
Whitewater, Lawrenceburg, and Madison, in the Leb-
anon District, Ohio Conference ; and Silver-creek, Indian-
creek, Blue-river, Harrison, Vincennes, Patoka, and
Pigeon, in what, for that year, was called Illinois Dis-
trict, Missouri Conference.

As an illustration of the exposure, privations, and
labors endured by the traveling ministry of that day, I
insert the following, furnished me by the veteran and
truly venerable John Schrader. He says :

"I was removed to the Silver-creek Circuit, on the
Ohio, embracing the country from the mouth of Blue
River up to Madison. Bev. J. Cord had been appointed
to this circuit by the bishop, but, his house being con-
sumed by fire, he was compelled to quit traveling for
a season and return to his friends. I came to Cord's


appointment at Gazaway's, and found him preaching
from, ' The Lord is my Shepherd ; I shall not want.' It
was a good sermon, preached by a good man. After
service, I told him that I had come to take his place.
He appeared glad to be released, and hastened home.
I now entered on my work with much fear and trem-
bling. Revivals had commenced at different points on
the circuit under Cord's preaching, and on me rested
the responsibility of carrying on this great work, which
extended all over the circuit, and, during the year,
nearly six hundred were taken into the Church on
trial. I took into the circuit, as new preaching-places.
New Lexington, Jeffersonville, and New Albany. Some
seven or eight members of the Church had formed
themselves into a class in New Albany, and called on
me to preach for them, which I did in a tavern, occupied
by a Mrs. Ruff. In this tavern I administered the
Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, for the first time, I
suppose, that it was ever administered in New Albany.
"At the close of this year, by the direction of my pre-
siding elder, I went to Cincinnati to meet Bishop M'Ken-
dree, and conduct him to the seat of the Missouri Con-
ference, which Avas to be held at Bethel meeting-house,
near the present town of Washington, the county-seat
of Daviess County, Indiana. I was taken sick the first
day of the Conference, but was well taken care of at the
house of William HaAvkins. My appointment for the
ensuing year was Spring-river Circuit, Arkansas Terri-
tory. It was some time before I sufficiently recovered
from my sickness to enable me to ride; but while yet
feeble, I started for my field of labor, which required a
journey of five hundred miles. My circuit embraced a
large extent of territory; it was mountainous and rocky,
the settlements were very scattering, and it was far


between the appointments. The inhabitants were mostly
hunters, and lived on the game they caught. They gen-
erally brought their guns and dogs with them to meeting.
The dogs very often differed with each other, and a
quarrel ensued, and this ended in a general dog-fight.
This always produced a stir in the congregation, and con-
sumed some time before peace could be restored and
ratified. The preacher would be interrupted in his ser-
mon, or perhaps forget his text, and have to finish with
an exhortation. At other times the hunters would return
home during divine service, with venison, bear-meat, and
dogs. But we were not easily disturbed in those days.
We had plenty of venison, bear-meat, and wild turkeys
to eat; but our bread was corn, and coarse at that. In
many places we had no way of grinding our grain ex-
cept on what was called Armstrong's mill. This was
generally a long cedar pole, with one end made fast to
the ground, and supported in the middle by two forks,
with a pestle fastened to the small end; under it we
placed a mortar, and thus we prepared our breadstuff;
and this we frequently baked without sifting, and perhaps
this is the reason why we did not have the dyspepsia.
In some parts of the circuit, however, we fared well for
the times, found warm friends, and at two or three ap-
pointments had good revivals of religion. At the close
of the year I traveled as far west as the Arkansas River,
and attended a camp-meeting on its banks. We had a
good meeting, at the close of which I started for Confer-
ence, which sat at M'Kendree Chapel, near Cape Girar-
deau, Missouri. My next appointment was Corydon
Circuit, Indiana. I was much pleased with this appoint-
ment, and felt myself at home among old friends."

In 1816 the Missouri Conference was organized and
held its first session at Turkey-hill Settlement, in Illinois.


The following is Father Schrader's account of the organ-
ization of the Conference, and his first appointment
therefrom : " Bishop M'Kendree and myself started from
Louisville, Kentucky, for Vincennes, from whence Walker,
Scripps, and others were to travel with us through the
wilderness, to the Missouri Conference. After camping
in the wilderness three nights, we arrived at the seat of
the Conference. When the Conference was organized,
we found that we had seven members present, and some
few were admitted on trial. These are all now dead
(1853), except J. Scripps and myself. The Conference
extended over four different states. Most of the mem-
bers of Conference were young men. We had received
very little quarterage from our circuits and consequently
were in tolerably straitened circumstances. Bishop
M'Kendree gave the Conference one hundred dollars;
and this, added to our share of the funds, made us a
pretty fair dividend. From this Conference we scat-
tered over this immense territory. My appointment
was to Missouri Circuit, embracing the settlements be-
tween the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. I commenced
preaching in St. Charles, in a tavern ; some of the bac-
chanalians would leave their worship and listen to me
awhile, and sometimes they would swear that I was
preaching the best sermon that they had ever heard.
We had a good revival on the Missouri, above St. Charles.
In the Fall of this year, 1817, the presiding elder and
myself traveled up the Missouri River as far as Boone's
Lick, and held a camp-meeting, the first ever held in that
part of the world. Having to lodge in the woods six
nights, going and returning, I was taken very sick, and
had like to have died in the wilderness."

Such energy, devotion, and toil, such cheerful self-
denial and unostentatious moral heroism, as was dis-



played by the early Methodist preachers in the West,
has never been equaled in the history of our country,
except, perhaps, in the case of the early Jesuit mission-
aries of the Romish Church. They were the first in the
field ; they came with the early French trappers, traders,
and troops. The Jesuit missionaries were the first his-
torians and geographers of the Great West; they not
only visited the trading-posts and small colonies estab-
lished by the French, but they followed the Indian to
his hunting-ground, threaded the forests, swam rivers,
and endured all kinds of hardships in prosecuting their
spiritual work, and in furthering the objects of the
French Government. The best and only authentic ac-
count of the country, bounded on the north by the lakes,
on the east by the Wabash, on the south by the Ohio,
and on the west by the Mississippi, one century ago, is
to be found in the missionary reports of these Jesuit
Fathers. One of these reports was written by Father
Gabriel Maust, missionary of the Company of Jesus,
and directed to Father Germon, of the same Company,
and dated at Kaskaskia, then an Indian village, Novem-
ber 9 J 1712. An edition of these reports was published
in Paris in 1761; but while the influence of the Jesuit
Fathers was doomed to decline, the influence of Method-
ism w^as destined rapidly to increase. The causes which
tended to produce these opposite results in the two sys-
tems are apparent to the unprejudiced mind upon a mo-
ment's reflection. There is, and has ever been, a strong
sympathy between Romanism and monarchy, or with
despotism in some form. It has never been the friend
of free thought and personal liberty. Its central idea is
an aggregation of power; and, hence, its affinities and
tendencies are all to a state of absolutism. But while
the central idea of Romanism was power, the central


idea of Methodism was salvation from sin. Methodism,
in common with most forms of Protestantism, has its
sympathies, tendencies, and affinities all on the side
of republicanism, on the side of liberal institutions and
free government, and all it asks of the State is to be let
alone in its holy mission of saving sinners, and of build-
ing up the spiritual kingdom of Christ in the earth.
The pioneer founders of Methodism in the West found
the seal of their apostleship in the multitudes that were
converted to God through their instrumentalities.

In 1810, the population in Indiana was 24,520, and
Methodism numbered 755. In 1820, the population had
increased to 147,178, and Methodism to 4,410. The
charges in Indiana were Whitewater, Lawrenceburg, and
Madison, on the eastern border of the state, all included
in Miami District, Ohio Conference; and in Indiana
District, Missouri Conference, Charlestown, Blue-river,
Bloomington, Vincennes, Patoka, Ohio, Mt. Sterling, and
Corydon Circuits. The preachers were stationed as
follows :

Whiteioater — James Jones.

Laivrenceburg — J. P. Durbin and James Collard.

Madison — Allen Wiley and William Quinn.

These charges were included in the Miami District, with
Walter Griffith as presiding elder; Indiana District,
Missouri Conference, with Samuel Hamilton for presiding

Charlestown — Calvin W. Ruter and William Cravens.

Blue-river — John Scripps and Samuel Glaize.

Bloomington — David Chamberlin.

Vincennes — Job M. Baker.

Patoka — Elias Stone.

Ohio — John Wallace.

Mount Sterling — George K, Hester.

Corydon — John Schrader.

The growth of Methodism was keeping even pace
with that of the population. Every settlement and


block-house was visited by these bold itinerants, who
did not scorn to preach in the bar-rooms of the taverns^
in the towns, in forts, in block-houses, and in the groves,
as well as in the cabins of the early settlers. Their
message was to every creature, and, relying on the
promise, "Lo, I am with you alwaj^s," solitudes were
cheerful, and " all rest was labor to a worthy end :"

"A toil that grows with what it yields,
And scatters to its own increase,
And hears, while reaping outward fields,
The harvest-song of inward peace."

The arduous labors and privations of the early itin-
erant preachers, although endured with a martyr hero-
ism, and with a spirit of consecration to their work that
counted it all joy to suffer for Christ, nevertheless
brought them to early graves. Samuel Parker, who
was the first presiding elder on Indiana District, having
been appointed to that district in 1809, when it in-
cluded the settled portions of Indiana, Illinois, and Mis-
souri, closed his earthly labors, December 20, 1819. He
was a native of New Jersey. His parents were pious,
and occupied a respectable social position. He was con-
verted to God in his youth. He was licensed to preach
in 1800, at the age of twenty-six. In 1805, he became
a member of the traveling connection, and at the end of
four years he was admitted to elders' orders, and ap-
pointed presiding elder on Indiana District, at that time
one of the most difficult and laborious positions in the
old Western Conference. It is impossible at this day
fully to appreciate or comprehend the amount of moral
heroism and physical endurance demanded by such a
position at that time. He was a young minister to be
placed in so responsible a position; but he fully met the
expectations of the bishops. He remained four years


on the district, when it was found necessary to divide
the district, so rapidly had the work grown on his
hands, and " so mightily grew the Word of God and pre-
vailed." In 1813, he traveled Deer-creek Circuit, in the
Ohio Conference, and his labors were greatly blessed.
In 1814, he was appointed presiding elder of Miami Dis-
trict, and, in 1815, presiding elder of Kentucky District,
where he continued four years. A position of great im-
portance in the estimation of the bishops had to be filled
in the Mississippi Conference; and, although it was one
that called for great sacrifices, and was beset with diffi-
culties, and, withal, was in a very sickly climate, when
the matter was proposed to him — for the bishops saw in
him just the man that was needed — he said : "Here
am I, send me; I count not my life dear, so that I may
finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I
have received of the Lord Jesus." He went; but fail-
ing health and an early death disappointed the expecta-
tions of the Church. God removes the workmen, but
the work goes on. He is not dependent upon any class
of instrumentalities. The early death of a useful min-
ister is a mysterious providence; but as the standard
bearers fall, the "Captain of our salvation" has some
one ready to seize the standard, and bear aloft the
banner of the Cross, and lead the hosts of Immanuel on
to greater victories. Although many of our pioneer
preachers died young, yet, if we measure their lives by
events, and not years, they lived long. Their ministry
was rich in results ; their efforts were heroic, and their
achievements morally grand; "they rest from their
labors, and their works do follow them." Parker's death
was peaceful and triumphant. The Gospel he had so
fiiithfully preached to others sustained him in the hour
of death. His funeral sermon was preached by Rev.


William Winans, a young man of great promise, whom
Parker had induced to enter the ministry, who was once
stationed at Vincennes, Indiana, but whose long and suc-
cessful ministerial career was chiefly in connection with
the Mississippi Conference.

At the session of the Ohio Conference, held in Chil-
licothe, August 8, 1820, James Havens was admitted on
trial. His name appears at the end of a list of thirteen,

Online LibraryFernandez C. HollidayIndiana Methodism : being an account of the introduction, progress, and present position of Methodism in the State; and also a history of the literary institutions under the care of the church, with s → online text (page 4 of 27)