Friday, September 14, 2007

This Week in Texas Methodist History September 16

Daniel and Jane Poe Reburied at McMahan's Chapel September 16, 1937

Methodist historians know very well how valuable annual conference Journals are to their research. The memoirs of deceased preachers and spouses are particularly valuable to historians and genealogists. The memoirs are usually written by family members or colleagues and printed in the first Journal after the death occurred. Readers of the Texas Conference Journal of 1937 may have been surprised when they read a memoir of a preacher and his wife who had died in 1844.

The clergy couple was the Rev. Daniel Poe and Jane Ingram Poe. Here is the remarkable story of their lives and why the memoir appeared 93 years after their deaths.

Daniel Poe was born in Ohio in 1809. He was converted when he was sixteen and immediately appointed class leader and licensed to exhort. He joined the Ohio Conference and Bishop Soule appointed him to the Indian Mission in Wisconsin under the direction of John Clark (same Clark who later came to Texas). One of his preaching points was an Indian village where Jane Ingram was teaching. They married in June 1837.

Littleton Fowler attended the 1842 Ohio Conference and appealed for missionaries. The response was one of the fateful episodes of Texas Methodist history as several preachers volunteered. The conference turned to questions of the best route to Texas. That was a question Poe knew something about. His brother, G. W. Poe, had been killed in the Texas Revolution. Daniel came to Texas to settle his brother’s temporal affairs and thereby gained knowledge about Texas. One of the brothers asked if Poe would guide the cadre of volunteers. He agreed to the task without asking Jane.

Poe instructed the volunteers ( Homer Thrall, John W. DeVilbiss, William O’Conner, Richard Walker, Wilbur Thurber, and Isaac Williams) to meet at Cincinnati. On November 20, 1842 the preachers and Mrs. Poe and their three children left Cincinnati for Texas. (Thrall took the first available passage and did not travel with the group.)

Poe served Lake Soda Mission in 1843 and the next year was appointed to San Augustine.. It was there in July 1844 that both Daniel and Jane Poe died within forty minutes of each other. They were buried in the same coffin behind the church. The children survived the same fever, and in December their uncle, the Rev. Adam Poe came to Texas to take them back to Ohio.

That’s not the end of the story. Readers of this column are already familiar with the Centennial Commission of 1934. That cooperative venture of the conferences produced the Centennial Yearbook and the Historical Pageant in San Antonio. It was also charged with giving due honors to the graves of early preachers..

So it was that the bodies of Daniel and Jane Poe were exhumed. The coffin was opened. The bodies were well-preserved. The Centennial Commission then organized a funeral and burial at McMahan’s Chapel. That service occurred September 16, 1937. The Rev. J. W. Mills, of First Methodist Beaumont, preached the funeral sermon.

James Finley devotes an entire chapter of Sketches of Western Methodism (1855) to the Poe story. You may read it at

Choose the platform for viewing (DjVu, pdf, or text) to open Sketches. Chapter 40 is the chapter about Poe.


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