Saturday, May 18, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History    May 19

Rev. John Bunyan Denton Killed While Attacking Indian Village,  May 24, 1841

John Bunyan Denton; preacher, attorney, and namesake of Denton County, was killed by a bullet to the chest on May 24, 1841 near the present Fort Worth-Arlington city limits. At the time of his death Bunyan was leading an attack on an Indian village. He was buried where he fell, but his body was eventually buried on the Denton County Courthouse grounds. 

John Bunyan Denton was born in Tennessee, orphaned at age 8, and a runaway from his new home at 12.  At 18 he married, and his wife taught him to read. The young couple was converted, and John felt the call to preach.  He supplied churches in the Missouri Conference (which included Arkansas), and was admitted on trial in the Arkansas Conference at the 1837 annual conference. 

When Littleton Fowler traveled through Arkansas on his way to the Texian Mission, he invited Denton to accompany him.  Although Denton was never commissioned as a missionary to Texas, he preached as far south as Nacogdoches before eventually settling in Clarksville

Only months after being admitted to the Arkansas Conference, Denton turned his attention to the practice of law.  (see post for March, 2009).  Such a career change was needed to provide for his family which included three sons and two daughters.  Two of his sons, J. F. Denton and J. B. Denton later became Methodist preachers.  

The Rev. William Allen composed a poem for Denton’s third burial on the courthouse grounds

Who knows the best?   Only one; that is God;
He knows best when to give, and when to take,
                      He knows it all.
He places all beneath His chastening rod,
He watches men, and marks the time and place;
                      Where e’er they fall.

Who knows the best?  Can others speak and say?
Knows anyone a new or better way
                 That satisfies?
Then why speculate or make search to find
Or other thought or proof among all mankind
              Than from the skies?

Denton fought, bled, and died while he was young.
Garlands of fame around him still have clung,
               And still will cling.
He is an anthem on the lips and heart,
A song engraved, and which will never part
               From souls that sing.


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