Thomas A. (Thomas Asbury) Morris.

Miscellany: consisting of essays, biographical sketches and notes of travel online

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embracing the state of Arkansas, the Missouri territory
south of the Cherokee line, and a fraction of the north-
east corner of Texas. To cover this vast extent of sur-
face with such a small force, we have necessarily to form
our circuits something after the primitive model, very
large, from two hundred to four hundred miles round,
and leave most of them with only one preacher; conse-
quently, in many instances, the people have preaching
only once in four weeks, in some circuits once in six
weeks, and in others once in two or three weeks. This
lack of service is supplied, to a limited extent only, by
local preachers. Still they are a choice band of brethren,
and are accomplishing a good and glorious work, both in
the state and in the Indian country, especially among the
Choctaws and Cherokees. For particulars on this point,
I refer any who may feel interested to the printed Minutes.
The Arkansas band of itinerants appear to be firmly
united in their purpose of accomplishing the grand object

N U T E S OF I BiVEL. 297

of the Christian ministry, "to spread Scripture holiness
over these lands," and they evidently gathered fresh vigor
in the work while met in conference to report the result
of the last year's labor. On Sabbath, being the only time
I had opportunity to attend preaching, the services of the
sanctuary were refreshing to many. The spacious chapel
in Batesville on that day was crowded with people, who
appeared to be intelligent, and deeply interested. That
the word preached took effect, was abundantly testified,
by fixed attention, general solemnity, showers of tears,
and numerous responses breaking from the deepest re-
cesses of the heart. The colored people were preached
to in the court-house at the same hours, who seemed to
enjoy themselves to the life.

Monday afternoon some of the brethren w'ent out to
hold a temperance meeting; and, it is said, about seventy
persons signed the temperance pledge, in addition to about
eighty that had signed it previously. I am told there is
but one liquor establishment left in Batesville, and it is
doubtful whether that will be sustained much longer.
After the conference finally adjourned on Monday even-
ing, the missionary anniversary w r as celebrated in the
chapel. I regretted the necessity of being absent, but
was happy to learn they had a meeting of much interest,
which resulted in raising over 8400, which was certainly
very liberal for a village of some seven hundred inhabit-
ants, these hard times.

Now, what we chiefly need in this country is a strong
reinforcement of efficient traveling preachers, self-sacri-
ficing men, whose sole object is to be useful, and who, in
order to do this, are willing to give up country, home, and
friends, travel difficult circuits, labor hard, peril their
health, and receive only a moderate support: in a word,
men who count not their lives dear to themselves, so
..hey may finish their course with joy, and the ministry


which they have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the
Gospel of the grace of God. We would not deceive any
brother. They who come to labor as itinerants in Arkan-
sas should know that the country is yet comparatively
new, -Mid, consequently, that chapels are scarce, and par-
sonages are scarcer; that the currency is depreciated,
which renders it difficult to support the preachers and go
on to erect the necessary buildings ; and that some of the
circuits are situated in a latitude low and sickly, though
none of the preachers of the conference have died the
past year. Still, to such as are willing to encounter these
difficulties, there is not a more ample or promising field of
usefulness in our extended connection, than in this region
of country. And why should the minister of Christ feci
afraid to serve on any part of the globe where duty calls
him, or to remain till his work is done? Paul was willing
not only to suffer at Jerusalem, but, if needful, to dio
there for the sake of the Lord Jesus.

There is one thinq;, Doctor, which I do not under-
stand ; perhaps you can explain it. Methodist preachers
profess to be commissioned to go into all the world and
preach the Gospel to every creature; and yet in some
favorite sections of country, they throng together in such
multitudes as to stand in each other's way, and crowd
some out of the work, and leave other sections of the
Lord's vineyard in a state of destitution. We have
preachers enough to supply our entire home work, east,
west, north, and south, if properly distributed; but some
are not willing to go where they are most needed. Can
this be fairly reconciled to a professed call to the work of
the itinerant ministry? I allow there may be a palliation
of such inconsistency in some cases, arising from the op-
position of friends. Young preachers are generally dis-
posed to do right in the matter; but older brethren, who
should be the first to encourage them, get around and

NOTES OF T ft A V E L . 299

dissuade them from it, especially popular young men;
and in this way we arc often defeated in obtaining such
transfers as we need from the older to the new confer-
ences. Tfeis sort of opposition to the work is not founded
in a deliberate intention on the part of senior brethren to
do wrong, but in an unwillingness to part with their sons
in the Gospel. Still it is mischievous in its tendency.
Let them, whom it may concern, see to it, lest they hinder
the work of the Lord.

We are about to resume our journey, and time fails to
add more at present; but you may hear again, at some
convenient time, from

Yours, sincerely, T. A. Morris.

Batesville, Arkansas, November 16, 1841.


Brother Elliott, — When taking leave of Batesville in
my last, I should have remembered the Male and Female
Academy of that place, under the superintendence of Rev.
Henry Hunt and his lady. Brother Hunt was formerly a
member of the Kentucky conference, but is now in a local
relation. His school is situated at the north end of town, in
a high and healthy position; the rear ground extends into
the edge of a very handsome grove of young cedars, which
throws around the place an air of beauty and cheerfulness;
the buildings are of respectable appearance, and the insti-
tution is favorably spoken of, and pretty well sustained.
A committee was appointed by the conference to attend
the examination.

On Tuesday, 16th, at a late hour in the morning, we
left Batesville in a cold rain, not because we loved it, but
for the reason that our engagements ahead required us to
be diligent. When we arrived at the ferry, it was difficult
crossing, on account of the freshet in White river: how-
ever, after being detained two hours, we were safely landed


on the opposite side. Usually the water of White river is
of the most transparent sort, but then it was turbid and
rapid. Before we got aboard, the company accumulated
till there were three full boat-loads of Methodist preachers
and their horses, including our own. After we resumed
the road, the brethren on horseback passed us, and we
were left with our usual company. The afternoon was
pleasant; and in the evening we sought and found a
retired spot off the road for our camp, with a view to
dodge the pigs, as they had been very troublesome on
previous occasions ; and the experiment was successful —
they did not find us till next morning. Our camp was on
the north bank of Sally Doe, a name suggested by a sin-
gular occurrence. Among the pioneers of the country
was a heroine named Sally, who, observing a female deer
in the water, stood on the bank, and Avith a gun killed it,
from which achievement the settlers agreed to name the
creek Sally Doe. It is about three rods wide, the water
clear and pleasant, and, near our camp, passes over a
ledge of rocks, producing a monotonous roar favorable to
refreshing sleep on a calm night.

Wednesday afternoon we crossed Little Red river at
Crolman's ferry, thirty-two miles from Batesville. It is
a deep, rapid stream, about ten or twelve rods over : the
boat is worked across by a hand rope, extending from
shore to shore, in a very short time; and appears to be
profitable to the owner, as 1 paid for one horse and buggy
sixty-two and a half cents in silver; a circumstance not
worth naming, only as a specimen of ferriage-rates in this
country. After we left the river, we inquired at each
house we passed that evening for corn, but they had none
for sale; nor did we blame them, for they appeared to
have very little for themselves; till we reached Indian
creek, about dark, where Mr. Magness, one of the first
settlers, accommodated us with three half-bushels of ears,


or about three pecks of corn, for a dollar, which we find to
be the usual price of late. This, however, is more than
the ordinary price of the country, and is occasioned by
the summer drought this year. " When the next band of
Texas missionaries come this way and cross Indian creek,
if they will form an angle to the right, and pass along
the south bank about one hundred and twenty yards, they
will see the remains of our camp-fire, where we spent a
very pleasant night, and they shall be welcome to our
chumps to kindle their fire. Perhaps we should have
stopped on the north side, but it was preoccupied by a
company of movers from the state of Mississippi to
White river. Their fire made some show as we passed
them; but we soon raised an opposition line, which
rather threw them into the shade.

Thursday we lunched at Bayou Dezark, and camped
in the evening near Mr. Walker's, where we had nothing
to annoy us whatever, except our swine visitors. These
ravenous animals appear to be well versed in the art of
filching from movers' camps, and have no doubt been
practicing their feats of roguery from the time they were
weaned. One of the ringleaders of the gang came that
night while we were asleep, and dragged our bag of corn
from the mouth of our tent, and getting a little the start
of us before we awoke, gave us quite a chase to recover it.
Friday evening we were kindly received and well treated
at Mr. Covvey's. Saturday we crossed Arkansas river in
a steam ferry-boat, and arrived at the capital of the state,
where the brethren received us with true Christian court-
esy. The river here is some six hundred yards wide, and
is at present in fine condition for navigation by steam-
boats. The distance from Batesville to Little Rock by
the old military road which we came, is one hundred
miles. The country between, except the creek lands, is
very poor in general, consisting of oak barrens, oak ridges,


and pine hills alternately. Many of the hills are long,
steep, and difficult to ascend and descend, on account of
the masses of broken free-stone, which cover the surface.
The inhabitants are few and far between, which, together
with the want of time, may account for our having no
appointments on the way for preaching. We are here in
the midst of Indian summer. The weather last week was
frequently too warm to be comfortable. On Friday the
temperature was nearly up to summer heat. We had
occasionally to shed our coats, and even then, leading our
horses up the rocky ascents produced perspiration equal to
"Dr. Thompson's Cayenne" and "No. 6." The small
flies worried our horses as if it had been August; and on
Saturday and Sunday night in the city, the musketoes
played a merry tune around our heads. Such a state of
weather the latter part of November is rather remarkable
even in Arkansas. Still I have no doubt but this is one
of the finest climates in the United States, forming a me-
dium between the extremes north and south, so as to
secure its inhabitants generally against the winter fever of
the former, and the yellow fever of the latter. If climate
only were to be considered in selecting a permanent resi-
dence, it should be located between thirty-four and thirty-
five degrees of north latitude, a range which includes
Little Rock, and stretches across the Chickasaw purchase
in the state of Mississippi, north Alabama, the up country
of Georgia and South Carolina, and the south-east corner
of North Carolina. But why should people be so difficult
to suit in countries ? When in the north I am delighted ;
when in the south, if I had my family with me, I should
almost be willing to remain ; and when I return to my
native west, it still appears to be the best of all. As
traveling preachers, the world is our parish, and wherever
duty calls, we should be willing to go. On the Sabbath,
according to previous appointment, we met the congre-

K T i: B V T EAV E L . o03

gation in this city. The morning was stormy. Thunder-
showers were passing over and around us, such as you
have in Ohio at midsummer: but as it was not raining at
eleven o'clock our little chapel was well filled. After
sermon the sacrament was administered. All the breth-
ren filled the table around the altar only twice. There
was preaching again in the afternoon and evening. We
also ordained brother Rezin Davis a deacon, in the house
of brother S. Sanger, where I lod^e. Little Rock has
improved considerably, since I saw it five years ago, in
appearance ; but our society has not increased in propor-
tion. Still they have peace among themselves, exhibit
some fruits of true piety, and there is ground to hope thev
may so increase in numbers and grace as to become a
strong people. To-day we expect to resume our journey,
having a series of appointments in advance. At some
convenient time you may hear again from

Yours, respectfully, T. A. Morris.

Little Rock, Arkansas, Nov. 22, 1841.

Brother Elliott, — We left Little Rock Monday, No-
vember 22d, and took the military road leading off in a
south-west direction. Very soon we entered an extensive
forest of pitch pine; the trees tall and straight, and many
of them quite large ; and from their contiguity to the city
and to the Arkansas river, they must be valuable. This
pinery extends south-east to Pine Bluff, and south-west,
with some intermission, to the Red river. Six miles from
the city we passed the cabin in which I slept in 1836, the
night before I entered the forty mile wilderness on my
way to Mississippi conference, which was then occupied
by an excellent Methodist family, named Hoover; but on
inquiry I learned that the master of the family was dead,
and his widow and orphans had removed to a distant part


of the country, and the place was in possession of stran-
gers. In one corner of the little field adjoining the cabin,
was a neat white paling, which inclosed the remains of
brother Wells, who, some years since, came as an itinerant
from Tennessee to labor in Arkansas, and died in the
work. He was the same brother Wells whose name is
identified with the history of the arrest of the mission-
aries in the Cherokee nation in 1831. While his fellow-
laborer was driven on foot before the mounted guards,
brother Wells followed on, leading his horse for him to
ride back, in case he should be discharged on examina-
tion; and for this act of kindness to the prisoner, the
heroic Colonel of the guards struck him over the head
with a club. He is now where the wicked cease to
trouble, where the weary are at rest. These brief but
solemn items of the past, afforded for some time a profit-
able theme of meditation. We spent that evening pleas-
antly at the house of Mr. T. Rolands, who, some four
years since, emigrated from Alabama. He and his family
are members of our Church.

Next morning several of his family accompanied us to
Benton, the seat of justice for Saline county, where we
preached to a small congregation in the court-house.
Benton is a small village, twenty-five miles from Little
Rock. After dining with Mr. Hockersmith, we proceeded
on to the house of brother H. Cornelius, formerly a mem-
ber of Arkansas conference ; but, from a sense of duty to
a large and increasing family, located, and commenced
farming and raising stock. On our way to his house, and
near Benton, we forded a heavy stream of water, called
Saline river.

Wednesday we ferried the Washitta river, where it is,
perhaps, one hundred and fifty yards wide, but not navi-
gable for steamboats, though an excellent river for steam-
ers from Ecorefabre down, and ate our luncheon on the

NOTES F T B A V E L . 305

south bank. This ferry is twenty-one miles from Benton.
In the afternoon we bought provender of Mr. Stubling,
entered the Twelve Mile Stretch, so called, because for
that distance the road passes over pine hills so poor that
no one lives near it ; and having penetrated the wilderness
four or five miles, and found a running brook named Bayou
de Sale, pitched our tent. About half-past eight o'clock
a violent storm of wind and rain broke upon us, attended
with sharp lightning and heavy thunder, so that for some
time we were amidst all the terrific grandeur of a hurri-
cane at night in an unbroken forest. For some time
before it reached us we heard the havoc which it was
making among the pines; but fortunately we occupied a
favorable position for the occasion in relation to standing
trees, there being no large ones between us and the creek
facing the storm : when it struck, it smote the four corners
of our house, the tent pins gave way, and the tent cloth
twisted up into a whirling heap around us, and, doubtless,
would have gone off, had we not secured the corners by
throwing our whole weight upon them; and before we
could replace the pins and bring the tent to its proper
form, the rain dashed through and gave us a wetting.
However, we got sufficiently dry before midnight to lay
down and sleep comfortably. When we observed next
day how the trees were thrown along and across our road,
and saw the providence of God in our preservation, amidst
crashing timber and warring elements, we felt our hearts
swell with emotions of gratitude. At the south end of
this stretch, we came down, on Thursday morning, to
Bayou de Roche, which, as its name is intended to ex-
press, is remarkably stony in the channel and on either
shore, and only a few miles further on, found it sufficiently
deep fording a very rapid little river, called Fourche
Caddo; and as it was turning cold, we raised a fire, by
which to warm and eat, on the other side, in what had

306 M I S C E L L A X Y .

been a cane-brake, the remnant of which was fine grazing.
In the evening we turned off the road to the right, about
one hundred yards down a small brook, seeking a good
place to camp, when our buggy, in which was the bag of
corn, suddenly broke down ; the fore axletree, both wood
and iron, gave way at the king bolt, and let me down
softly within one rod of where we judged best, upon
thorough examination, to build our lire. Next day we
lost from our journey getting the buggy repaired, and,
consequently, we remained two cold nights at Camp Mis-
hap. When not otherwise employed, we walked round
the camp and shot birds for a pot-pie.

Saturday morning we resumed our journey, and soon
found that all the mud and water which adhered to the
wheels became congealed. It froze all day — was cloudy,
windy, and unpleasant. In the evening we forded a large
creek called Antoine, and soon after reached Wolf creek,
where we had appointed to preach on the Sabbath. We
called, as previously advised, on Colonel John Wilson,
who keeps a public house, but had the kindness to enter-
tain us gratuitously. His wife, children, and servants,
are members of our Church. This was in the corner of
Pike county. The Colonel has on his place two valuable
springs, one chalybeate and the other weak sulphur, and
pleasant to the taste.

On Sabbath, at eleven o'clock, we commenced public
service in Wolf creek meeting-house with eighteen per-
sons ; others came during sermon, some after sermon,
while brother Clark was exhorting ; and after the congre-
gation dispersed we met others going. This irregularity,
as to the time of meeting, grew partly out of a misunder-
standing as to the hour appointed for preaching. More-
over, it is a free house, where some appoint to commence
at noon, and then delay as much longer as suits their con-
venience. As this is said to be the best chapel in the


south part of the state, it may be of some interest to read
a brief description of it. The walls are made of hewed
logs, about twenty by twenty-four feet in extent, with a
wooden chimney in one end, and a place cut out for a
chimney at the other end, which is partly closed up with
slabs. In the front is a large door, with a center post,
and double shutters, on the principle of a barn door. Im-
mediately opposite, on the other side, is a pulpit, which
projects some six feet from the wall, the forepart of which
is so high that when the preacher kneels to pray he is
nearly concealed from the view of the people. Behind
this pulpit is a window without glass, the shutter of which
is neither lone nor wide enough to close it, and, conse-
quently, lets a double stream of air upon him. The roof
is made of clapboards, between which and the floor there
is no ceiling, though there are some naked poles laid
across on the plates ; and the cracks between the logs are
neither chinked nor daubed ; and though they were once
partially closed by nailing on thin boards, these have been
mostly torn off, to afford light and a free circulation of air.
The day was cold, and the people appeared to suffer. In
the evening we found a large fire kindled in the front
yard near the door, to which the people could retreat
when too cold to hear the preaching; when one class were
warmed they would return into the house, and another
cold set would give place to them. No blame was
attached to them for this procedure ; for, judging of the
feelings of others by my own, it was an indispensable
arrangement. We had truly a chilly time that day
throughout, temporally and spiritually. Next morning
we concluded to measure the temperature of the atmos-
phere, hung out the thermometer, and the mercury stood
only eleven degrees above zero, which was certainly ex-
traordinary weather for this country the last week in


Monday morning we crossed Little Missouri river, about
five rods wide, for which we paid $2. The ferry-boat is
keeled at the ends, and has nothing attached to conduct
the wheels from the boat to the shore, so that where we
led out, the carriages had to make a pitch of some fifteen
inches ; and the consequence was, the main bar of the hind
spring of the buggy snapped in two; but we splintered
and wrapped it with small cord, and in an hour resumed
our journey. This was on the old road, which, for about
two miles south of the river, is nearly impassable on ac-
count of mud, broken bridges, etc. That night we staid
at Mr. Pates's, and the next morning came into Washing-
ton, Hempstead county, where our Christian friends re-
ceived us cheerfully and treated us kindly. Washington
is situated on a high sandy plain, which was, from appear-
ance, originally a pine forest ; the town is compact and of
respectable appearance, and, except the capital, is one of
the largest in the state. There is here a respectable male
and female academy, under the superintendence, I learn,
of the Rev. Mr. Hoge, of the Presbyterian Church, and a
convenient, substantial court-house, in which we preached
several times to a congregation respectable in size, appear-
ance, and orderly attention. There is no chapel in the
place, nor is there any regularly-organized Methodist
society, though we have a few members in the town and
its vicinity.

Wednesday evening brother Clark and I, accompanied
by brother Gregory, presiding elder of this district, who
met us at Wolf creek, and has attended us since, went to
Columbus, eight or ten miles distant, and preached even-
ing and morning to a small congregation. Columbus is a
small village of some taste, and has a male and female
academy, both white frames of neat appearance, under
the tuition of Rev. Mr. Meloy and his lady, of the Cum-
berland Presbyterian Church. In this village there is no

N T E 6 OF TRAVEL. 309

chapel; and though we have some Methodists there, they
are not organized, and have no class meetings. This state
of things is much to be regretted. Our brethren never
did, and never will, prosper long in any place where class
and prayer meetings are lightly esteemed or neglected.
After sermon here, on Thursday, deacons' orders were
conferred on three local preachers, and the case of one,

Online LibraryThomas A. (Thomas Asbury) MorrisMiscellany: consisting of essays, biographical sketches and notes of travel → online text (page 23 of 30)