Saturday, October 20, 2012

This Week in Texas Methodist History October 21

“Fighting Parson” A. J. Potter Drops Dead in Pulpit at Revival Meeting, October 21, 1895

A. J. Potter, a Methodist minister known as “the fighting parson,” dropped dead of heart disease in the pulpit while preaching a revival in Tilmon, Caldwell County, on October 21, 1895.

Potter was born in Missouri in 1830.  His father died ten years later, and the boy was forced to fend for himself.  He became a jockey and thus part of a rough gambling crowd.  He enlisted in the Army and served in the war with Mexico.  He stayed in the Army after the war as a teamster and Indian fighter.  The lure of the gold fields in California was more attractive than the Army life so he tried his luck there.  He was soon back in San Antonio working as a teamster.  While hauling a load of lumber from Bastrop to San Marcos, he attended a camp meeting at Croft’s Prairie.  A. J. Potter was converted, and when he studied enough to make up for his lack of formal education, he received a preacher’s license. 

A trail drive to Kansas and the Civil War intervened.  He served in the Confederate Army, and when the West Texas Conference met in 1866, A. J. Potter was received into the ministry.
He served some of the roughest appointments in the conference including Kerrville, Boerne, Uvalde, Bandera, Mason, Brady, and was privileged to organize Methodism in San Angelo.  His preaching points were often on the frontier, and he sometimes displayed a firearm while he preached.   His life was so full of adventure that the MECS Publishing House issued a biography, Andrew Jackson Potter:  The Fighting Parson of the Texas Frontier, H. A. Graves, Nashville, 1881.  (available at Google Books

At the 1894 Annual Conference Potter was appointed to the Lockhart Circuit and died while preaching at one of the churches on that circuit.  He is buried in near Lockhart.  


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