Saturday, May 02, 2015

This Week in Texas Methodist History May 3

Ike Strickland Reports to Fowler About Brazoria Circuit May 7, 1839

The middle Texas Coast of Matagorda and Brazoria Counties was not just fertile farm land, it was also a fertile ground for planting churches.  In a letter from Ike Strickland to Littleton Fowler, May 7, 1839, Strickland reported more than a little resistance from his Episcopal counterpart, Caleb Ives.  

Strickland transferred from Tennessee to Texas in the fall of 1838.  His traveling companion was Jesse Hord.  At the Mississippi Annual Conference Strickland was appointed to help Robert Alexander on the Washington Circuit, but Fowler thought his labor was needed worse on the Montgomery Circuit.  He founded the church at Montgomery in December, but by January was dissatisfied and asked to a transfer.  When Joseph Sneed arrived as a recruit, Fowler had enough preachers to reshuffle the appointments.  Strickland went to the Brazoria Circuit to continue the work Jesse Hord had started.  

On May 7 Strickland reported the results of his first round around the circuit.  Matagorda was a strong Episcopal presence because the Rev. Caleb Ives had established a school there.  Strickland reported they didn’t get along.
He mocked him thus

In the evening went to the church to hear the Immortal Ives but few out, he at length made his appearance and when he entered the room I did not know but what one of the Prophets had arisen or St Peter the key holder for his appearance was something new to me. He was clad in silk from head to foot.

Ives refused to allow Strickland to preach in his Academy, but the Methodist found a private residence and preached.  Ives attended, and at the conclusion of the sermon, invited Ives to give the closing prayer.  Ives declined the honor.  

This letter offers insights into how Methodism was able to spread so rapidly.  Ives was tied down by his Academy.  Strickland preached at about 15 congregations in Brazoria, Matagorda, Wharton, and Jackson Counties.  

Strickland’s closing, was “yours till death.”  Unfortunately that death came only two months later, at Bell’s on the Brazos.  He had preached 6 years in Tennessee and 6 months in Texas. 


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