Saturday, August 21, 2010

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 22

Littleton Fowler Leaves Tuscumbia, Alabama, For Texas, August 22, 1837

Three days after Robert Alexander crossed the Sabine into Texas as the first officially appointed missionary to the Republic of Texas, his colleague, Littleton Fowler, left Tuscumbia, Alabama, to join him. Fowler was two weeks shy of this 34th birthday and had been working as an agent for LaGrange College near Tuscumbia in northwestern Alabama for three years. (This LaGrange College should not be confused with LaGrange College of Georgia which still exists or Hannibal-LaGrange College in Missouri. The LaGrange College in Alabama did not survive the Civil War.)

Since Fowler was embarking on a new phase of his life, he started a new journal. Here is what he wrote on August 22, 1837.
Tuscumbia, Alabama, August 22, 1837. This day I leave this place for the Republic of Texas, there to labor as a missionary, having lately been appointed to this field by the Board of Foreign Missions of New York. The impression made on my mind to go as a foreign missionary to Texas is as strong as the one which first called me to the ministry, consequently I shall expect the presence and the blessings of God to attend me. In view of the labor and privations which must await me my soul is firm and undaunted. I rather rejoice that I am worthy to labour and suffer for my blessed Master. Yet the fact of being severed from my country, my kindred, my friends and brethren fills me with deep sorrow and affliction. Rev. Dr. Martin Ruter and Rev. Robert Alexander are to be my fellow-labourers in the Texas mission.

Fowler was undoubtedly filled with a sense of holy purpose, but his statement about being severed from his kindred is exaggerated. In August, 1837, he had two brothers, John Hopkins Fowler and Bradford Fowler already living near their mother’s family, the Wrights, along the Red River near Pecan Point and Jonesboro. A younger brother, Andrew Jackson Fowler, would join them in Texas later in 1837. Although Bradford would later move back to Kentucky, Littleton always had many “kindred” in Texas. Only ten months from this journal entry he would also have a wife when he married a widow, Missouri Lockwood Porter in Nacogdoches.
This was not Fowler’s first trip to Texas. In January, 1833, immediately after his appointment as agent for LaGrange, he had been to Texas to visit his relatives. Fowler thus had some first hand knowledge about Texas and must have heard about Texas from his brothers, cousins, and aunt and uncle. John Hopkins Fowler served in 1836 with Col. Robert M. Coleman’s First Regiment, Texas Rangers, and the Wright and Fowler families were among the most prominent in northeastern Texas.

Fowler took his time en route. He visited with his family, spent two weeks sick in Jonesboro and went to Hempstead County, Arkansas where he performed the wedding ceremony for this brother. He also recruited John Bunyan Denton to join him. They arrived in Nacogdoches on October 16, almost two months after leaving Tuscumbia.


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