Saturday, July 02, 2011

This Week in Texas Methodist History July 3

Missouri Lockwood Porter Fowler Woolam, “Sainted Matriarch of the East Texas Conference,” dies, July 10, 1891.

Death came to one of the most significant women of 19th century Texas Methodist history on July 10, 1891 when Missouri Lockwood Porter Fowler Woolam died at her daughter’s house in Chireno. She had been the wife of two Methodist preachers, had ridden circuits with them, attended camp meetings, and annual conferences. She was witness to many of the historic events of Texas Methodist history. One of her great contributions was the preservation of letters to and from Littleton Fowler.

Missouri Lockwood was born at Fort Madison (now Baton Rouge) Louisiana in 1807 to a career army officer who commanded the fort. Her father was re-posted to Kentucky where she grew up. In 1825 she married Dr. J. J. Porter, and the young couple moved to Nacogdoches. In 1836 Dr. Porter walked too close to a chained bear in Nacogdoches and was killed. Missouri Porter was now a widow.

Littleton Fowler’s main residence in late 1837-38 was in Houston where he was Chaplain of the Senate of the Republic of Texas. He spent the winter break in Nacogdoches and San Augustine, and began courting Mrs. Porter. Fowler was in Houston from February to June 1838, attending to the chaplaincy. While in Houston he carried on a correspondence with Mrs. Porter and when Congress adjourned, he went back to Nacogdoches where Rev. Lewell Campbell married them.

Martin Ruter’s death in May 1838 made Fowler the head of the Texian Mission, and he had significant administrative responsibilities. Missouri sometimes accompanied him on his Methodist travels. When she stayed home in East Texas to manage the household affairs, Fowler wrote a great many letters to her. Those letters are now in the Fowler Collection at Bridwell Library Perkins School of Theology.

The death of Littleton Fowler in January 1846 left her a widow again. Three years later (1849—not 1852 as per Phelan) she married John C. Woolam who had been living in the Fowler household. Woolam was also a Methodist preacher so Missouri returned to itinerate life of a Methodist preacher’s wife. John and Missouri Woolam served many appointments over the next forty-years

1853-54, Jasper Circuit;
1854, Agent, Fowler Institute;
1855, Sabine Circuit; 1856, San Augustine Circuit
1857, Douglass Circuit;
1858-59, Elysian Fields Circuit;
1860-61, Gilmer Station;
1862-63, Chaplain in Confederate Army;
1864-5, Hemphill Circuit
1866, San Augustine Circuit
1867, Livingston Circuit
1868-70, Crockett District, P. E.
1871-73, Crockett & Pennington Station
1874, Sunday School Agent
1875, Pennington Circuit
1876, Elysian Fields Circuit
1877, Harrison Circuit
1878, Elysian Fields Circuit
1879-80, Palestine Circuit
1881, West Palestine
1882, Athens Circuit
1883-1890, Chaplain State Prison at Rusk

As you can infer from the list of appointments, Missouri Woolam was well-known all over East Texas and was widely mourned after her death in Chireno. John Woolam, her third husband, died in 1894.


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