Sunday, January 28, 2007

This Week in Texas Methodist History January 28

Robert Alexander Decries Preacher Marriages January 29, 1840

The 1839 session of the Mississippi Conference divided the Texas Mission into two districts. Littleton Fowler was the Presiding Elder for the East Texas District and Robert Alexander of the Rutersville District. After about a month on his new job as presiding elder, Alexander wrote Fowler to give him a a report. Among the other items in his report was the rumor that the Rev. Robert Hill of the Matagorda Circuit was about to be married.

'Tis said that Brother Hill is about to take a wife, if so, his rode(sic) will be a short one and all hands will say he started to get a wife which may be so. I am told he has agreed to locate. Lord save us from such Itinerants in this country.

Marriage often ended an intinerant's career. The meager salary and long absences from home while riding circuit made domestic life very difficult indeed. A common pattern in 19th century Methodism was that a young man would itinerate for a few years, marry, and assume a local relationship with the annual conference. Francis Asbury lamented the situation whe he said, "I have lost more preachers to the marriage bed."

Perhaps Alexander was not aware of the irony in his complaint against Rev. Hill. Alexander had just observed the second anniversary of his marriage to Eliza Ayres less than a week before he wrote to Fowler.


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