Saturday, July 08, 2017

This Week in Texas Methodist History  July 9

Daniel and Jane Poe Die in San Augustine  July 11, 1844

In the mid-19th century death was a constant companion, and religion provided much comfort to dying patients.  A conventional “good death” narrative grew up among Christians of the era.  A “good death” was one in which the dying person remained true to the assurance of eternal life even though the body may be wracked with pain and fever.  In July 1844 Daniel and Jane Poe died on the same day, Thursday the 11th

Littleton Fowler had just returned from the General Convention in New York City and brought with him a letter from Adam Poe, Daniel’s brother.  Adam was a prominent preacher in Ohio and is best known to us today for his editorial work on many MEC publications of the era.  

In 1854 James Finley wrote Sketches of Western Methodism and included the “good death” scene.  Here it is
When he closed his sermon, he gave out the 
first two lines of a hymn, and stepping down from the 
stand, approaching the Doctor with his hand on his tem 
ple, he said, " Doctor, I feel as if my head was bursting." 
The Doctor perceiving that he had a violent fever, 
assisted him to his carriage, and took him to his house, and 
by prompt attention, through the afternoon and night, he 
thought him better next morning, and took him home. 
On Sabbath afternoon his wife was taken worse, and his 
two eldest children were violently attacked with the 
same fever. On Tuesday evening the Doctor told him 
his wife must die. About the same time Rev. L. Fowler, 
having returned from New York, where he had been at 
tending General conference, brought him a letter from 
his brother, and spoke to him of the probable division of 
the Church. He read his letter, and laying it down ex 
claimed, "0, must Methodism be rent in twain!" He 
was unable to see his wife, as they were lying in separate 
rooms, and said to Brother Fowler, "Tell Jane to
 commend her soul and her children to God. If I live Fll do 
the best I can for them, if I die I want Adam to come 
and get them." He grew rapidly worse, and on Wednes 
day morning he was told that he too must die. He 
immediately commenced giving some direction about his busi 
ness, requested Rev. Lester Janes to write to his brother, 
and request him to come and settle his business, pay all his 
debts, and bring his children to Ohio. In the midst of 
these efforts, his mind wandered, and he complained of 
excruciating pains in his head and of choking. In this 
condition he remained till morning, when brother Fowler 
returned and found him dying. He took him by the 
hand and said, " Daniel, you are going !" He answered, 
in a whisper, " Yes I" Brother Fowler asked, " How do 
you feel?" He replied, "Happy, very, very happy!" and 
expired. His wife had conversed, after being informed 
that she must die, with brother Fowler on her spiritual 
prospects, and asked him to pray with her; and while he 
prayed she was powerfully blessed. She then had her 
children brought to her, and commending them to God 
in a few words of prayer, gave them her last kiss, and 
handed them to friends standing around her bed, saying, 
"Take care of them till their uncle Adam comes for 
them." She knew their father was dying too ; and though 
she was one of the most affectionate mothers we ever 
knew, she seemed to give her children to her heavenly 
Father without a single distrustful fear; and then in 
bright and joyous vision of her home so near, she shouted 
glory ! till her voice sunk to a whisper; and she breathed 
out her happy spirit into the arms of the Blessed, who 
waited to bear her to heaven. They died within forty 
minutes of each other, and were buried in one coffin, 
immediately in rear of the Methodist church in 
San Augustine. "Lovely and pleasant were they in their lives, 
and in their death they were not divided." .  
Adam Poe came the following January to get the Poe orphans and take
them back to Ohio.  He was accompanied by Bishop Edmund Janes who
was coming to hold the Texas Annual Conference in San Augustine.
This was the conference at which the Texas Conference was divided at the 
Trinity into the Western Texas and Eastern Texas Conferences (later the 
Texas and East Texas).  The Janes in the passage above refers to Lester Janes, 
nephew of Bishop Edmund Janes and president of the short-lived 
college Methodists had started in San Augutine.
I have written elsewhere that in the 1930's Rev. C. A. Tower exhumed a few 
leg bones, presumably those of Daniel and Jane and reburied them in
McMahan's Chapel Cemetery.  Over twenty Methodist ministers 
attended that service, and after the service they laid plans for a new 
church building at McMahan's. 



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