This Week in Texas Methodist History September 28
Tennessee Conference Meets, Four Preachers Transfer to the Texas Mission, October 3, 1838
Many Texans are aware of the close relationship between Texas and Tennessee. Many famous Texans including Davey Crockett and Sam Houston, were Tennesseans, as well as numerous lesser known immigrants. It should come as not surprise that Methodists were well represented in the Tennessee-Texas connection.
On October 3, 1838, the Tennessee Annual Conference met in Huntsville, Alabama. The conference at that time included northern Alabama. When the appointments were read, the brothers and sisters found that four of its members were transferred to the Texas Mission. Three of the transfers, Isaac L. G. Strickland, Jesse Hord, and Samuel Williams, were finishing their first year as full elders, having been in the same ordination class at the 1837 Annual Conference. At the 1837 conference Williams had been appointed to Trenton, and Hord and Strickland, who were already good friends and served in the same district 1837/38, Hord at Memphis and Strickland at LaGrange, TN. Fowler’s appointment had been as agent for LaGrange College in northern Alabama, but had volunteered for Texas the prior year.
Hord and Strickland traveled together. They went by way of Memphis, Little Rock, Benton, and Hot Springs. Instead of staying on the well-marked road to the Red River Crossing at Fulton, they struck out to go through Louisiana where Hord had brother. They became so lost that they had to hire a guide who took them to Washington, Arkansas, where the Arkansas Annual Conference was in session. They finally reached Gaines Ferry on November 29—about 6 weeks after they started their travels. They stayed in San Augustine where both Fowler and Williams were also staying. On December 17 Fowler met with the three other transfers and assigned them as follows: Williams to San Augustine, Strickland to a huge circuit between the Trinity and Brazos Rivers from about Spring Creek in Harris County as far north as he could find settlements. Hord also received a huge circuit—all the coastal settlements from Houston to Victoria.
As more recruits arrived from the United State, Fowler was able to reduce the size of the circuits. He reunited Strickland and Hord by having them share the huge coastal circuit.
Strickland was the first of the four to die. The coastal circuit was extremely unhealthy. He died on July 2, 1839---less than a year after the October 1838 Annual Conference at which he volunteered for Texas. Fowler was next. He died in January, 1846. Williams went on to a distinguished career as preacher, presiding elder, and even presiding officer of the annual conference when the bishop did not arrive. He died in 1866 at the age of 56 and is buried in San Augustine. Hord was the only one to live into old age. In the months before his death he contributed memoirs to the Advocate. Those memoirs constitute an important resource for the study of Texas Methodist history.