This Week in Texas Methodist History October 2
Tennessee Conference Meets in Huntsville, Alabama, Four Members Transfer to Texas, Oct. 3, 1838
Tennessee was one of the main source regions for immigrants coming to the Republic of Texas. There were constant rumors that Mexico would try to retake its former province. In 1842 two separate incursions by Mexican forces came all the way to San Antonio. The Comanche were emboldened by the weakness of Texian defenses. Although they were usually residents of the High Plains, they made at least one raid to the Gulf of Mexico town of Linnville. The wealth of Texas was in land, but that land was not worth much if it was not producing agricultural products.
A solution to these military and economic problems was an increased population. Incentives in the form of land grants existed until the cut off date of January 1, 1840. Any settler arriving before that date received a generous land grant.
Meanwhile, Tennessee was one of the states hardest hit by the economic difficulties of the late 1830s. Ironically, at least some of the economic woes were the result of the policies of Andrew Jackson, the most famous Tennessean of them all. All over Tennessee, the letters GTT (Gone to Texas), were scrawled on the doors of abandoned cabins.
It is not surprising that some of the immigrant stream consisted of Methodist preachers. On October 3, 1838, the Tennessee Annual Conference met in Huntsville, Alabama (northern Alabama was part of the Tennessee Conference.) and four of its members transferred to Texas.
Actually Littleton Fowler was already there. He had come in 1837 and was now head of the missionary efforts in the Republic. Ike Strickland, Jesse Hord, and Samuel Williams were the other three.
Isaac Lemuel Gillespie Strickland (b. 1809) and Jesse Hord (also b. 1809) left for Texas together on Oct. 21. Strickland died the following July 2 at Bell’s Plantation on the Brazos. There is a bronze marker in his honor at Bell Cemetery at West Columbia. Hord lived much longer, dying in Goliad in 1886.
Littleton Fowler served courageously until his death in January 1846. As you know, he is buried under the pulpit at McMahan’s Chapel. Williams lived until 1866 when he died at the age of 56. He is buried at San Augustine.