Saturday, February 05, 2011

This Week in Texas Methodist History February 6

Joseph P. Sneed Enters Texas February 8, 1839

On February 8, 1839 Joseph P. Sneed crossed the Sabine River at Gaines Crossing on his way to Brazoria Circuit. The previous December Bishop Thomas Morris had appointed him to the Brazoria Circuit of the Texas District of the Mississippi Annual Conference. February 8 was a Friday, but Methodists in the Republic of Texas had preaching any day they could get it, not just on Sundays, so Sneed preached that night. He spent the night with the Stovall family, and then pushed on to meet Littleton Fowler. The next few weeks were full of more travel, preaching, and meeting his new colleagues, and, by the way, he didn't made it to Brazoria.

Joseph Sneed was born near Nashville, Tennessee, in 1804. In 1829 he joined the Mississippi Annual Conference and served several appointments. In 1834 he assisted Henry Stevenson at McMahan’s Chapel just west of the Sabine in Mexican Texas. Several years later he volunteered for Texas.

On Feb. 9 he rode the four miles from Stovall’s to McMahan’s where Fowler was holding a quarterly meeting. Moses Speer and Samuel Williams were also there. Sneed reported for duty with a letter of recommendation from Bishop Morris to Fowler, “I am sending you a man who is not afraid to die or sleep in the woods.” Bishop Morris also entrusted Sneed with $800 of missionary money to be distributed as salary for the preachers in Texas. After a love feast on Sunday the 10th, Sneed, Fowler, and Missouri Fowler headed for “West Texas.”
It took them until February 27 to reach the Brazos River. On the way they picked up Ike Strickland, the Montgomery Circuit preacher. The party visited Martin Ruter’s grave and spent the night with the Gates family.

Fowler had previously instructed the preachers in West Texas to meet him at William Kessee’s, near present-day Chappell Hill. I suppose the prospect of being paid ensured good attendance because most of them showed up and stayed five days. There was, of course, a quarterly meeting and love feast, but Fowler used the meeting to override the appointments Bishop Morris had made at annual conference and reassign Strickland to Brazoria and Sneed to the now vacant Montgomery Circuit. He also reassigned Abel Stevens from Houston to Washington to take the place of Robert Alexander who had moved to Rutersville the previous fall.

Stevens rode the Washington Circuit for only 3 months and then returned to the United States. Fowler instructed Sneed to take over the Washington Circuit in addition to his Montgomery Circuit. He was thus responsible for Texas Methodists west of the Trinity River all the way to the settlements on the Colorado River from Spring Creek in the south to Waco in the north.

Sneed was up to the challenge of riding long circuits. Except for a ten year location in which he farmed near Gay Hill in Washington County, he served honorably in appointments until his superannuation in 1867. He died in 1881 at his son’s home in Milam County.


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