Saturday, July 03, 2010

This Week in Texas Methodist History July 4

Methodists Mourn Ike Strickland’s Death July, 1839

In 1839 Texas Methodists tempered their celebration of Independence Day with the knowledge that one of their brothers, Isaac L. G. Strickland, had died in West Columbia at the age of thirty.

Strickland had itinerated in Tennessee for six years before transferring to the Texas Mission of the Mississippi Conference in October 1838. Littleton Fowler assigned him to the Montgomery Circuit, and he began his rounds.

Unfortunately he became discouraged. On January 14, 1839 he wrote Fowler asking for a transfer to the Washington Circuit which had recently been left without a preacher because Robert Alexander had moved to Rutersville. Strickland had no way of knowing that Abel Stevens, the preacher stationed at Houston/Galveston, on January 16 had also written Fowler asking for a transfer to Washington.

The arrival of Joseph Sneed from Mississippi allowed Fowler to grant both men’s requests for transfers. He decided to handle it in person. While at the Mississippi Annual Conference in December, 1838, Bishop Andrew entrusted Sneed with $800 of mission money to distribute in salaries to men of the Texas Mission. Fowler announced that he would go to Washington County in February, 1839, and act as pay master. The expectation of finally being paid insured that all the preachers in “West Texas” assembled at William Kesee’s where Fowler held a quarterly meeting during the first week of March.

Having all the western preachers at one place for several days allowed Fowler to size up the situation. He moved Stevens to Washington and Strickland to Brazoria. Sneed, the newcomer, took Strickland’s place in Montgomery.

Strickland started the Brazoria Circuit in March. He died at the Bell Plantation at West Columbia on July 2 and was buried in a private cemetery on the plantation. There was an outpouring of grief such as that from Jesse Hord, writing from Velasco on July 8.

I scarcely know how, or what to wright[sic], I am so overwhelmed with feeling by the death of our dear and beloved Bro. Strickland. I know of no death in all my life to which I found it so extremely difficult to be resigned, which indeed is my duty but I am constrained to say, the fleash[sic] is week[sic], very week. But my brother in the Lord is gone, gone to that rest that remains for the people of God. Doubtless while his body and manly [presence?] moulders within the rayless tomb and earthly friends heave their bosoms with agonizing sorrow, disbelieving tears of sympathy from every eye, his blood-washed, his sainted spirit, unconscious of earthly and heart-rending commotions, calmly rests beneath the peaceful umbrage of the tree of life, touching a chord of his golden harp, and making melody, surpassing in softness and sweetness that made by the Angelic choir of Paradise.

(Original in Fowler Collection, Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, SMU)


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