Saturday, May 08, 2010

This Week in Texas Methodist History May 9

J. W Fields Completes Tour of Trinity Circuit May 13, 1850

J. W. Fields was a Kentucky Methodist preacher who transferred to Texas and joined the Eastern Texas Conference in January, 1845. He showed great promise and was soon appointed Presiding Elder of the San Augustine District. He rode that district and both he and his wife, Winna Ann Duncan Fields, became ill. In 1849 Annual Conference was held in Paris. Bishop Paine presided. He could tell that Fields was a sick man so he offered to transfer him to a comfortable station back home in Kentucky close to his parents and his in-laws. Fields replied, “No, I have come to labor, to suffer, and to die in Texas.” Paine reappointed him to the Trinity Circuit, a mostly unsettled region along the Trinity River embracing settlements in Anderson, Henderson, Kaufman, Dallas, and adjoining counties.

J. W. and Winna moved to Palestine and the laboring and suffering began again. In April, 1850, he set out from Palestine to the most distant point on the circuit, Dallas. Here is a section of his diary that conveys some of the difficulty and joy he experienced.

Monday morning I started for Dallas, but the creeks being impassable I was compelled to return to Brother S's where most of the congregation, who had attended the Quarterly Meeting, still remained owing to rain and high water. I thought it best not to be idle, so I proposed to Brother H, the p. c., that we should have preaching. This we had forenoon and afternoon as it continued to rain.
I started again, found the little creeks lower but the big ones higher. The East Fork of the Trinity, the worst and most dangerous stream in Northern Texas, covering its miserable bottom for two miles. What shall I do? inquired I of the ferryman, and then of the Lord. "Go," said the Lord, "and lo I am with you even to the end of the world."
But the ferryman reluctantly took me over the channel and two or three of the worst sloughs; and then he took a horse and piloted me through the most dangerous parts of the bottom. At our parting I silently offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God. and after compensation, and many cheerful thanks to him, I made my way out finding terra firma in about one mile more.
April 27th and 28th.—Attended the Dallas Qt. M. at Webb's chapel. This place was dear to me from the recollection that here the first standard of Methodism was planted in this circuit, a few years ago; that time I `had the privilege to attend a two days' meeting at this place, when the Lord was pleased to own and bless His word, and the poor preacher felt it a privilege indeed to be among the first to bear the good tidings to the feeble few in the wilderness. They number some 50 members. Our Quarterly meetings were well attended; much good feeling prevailed. One circumstance I was forcibly struck with in the Love Feast. A very pious sister had lately gone to the spirit-land, her name was frequently called and one said, "SisterJW—is here indeed,her sainted spirit seemed to mingle with us. Does not this prove the doctrine of ministering angels?"

On May 13, Fields returned home to Palestine.


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