Saturday, April 07, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History   April 8

     J. W. Fields Solicits Funds for Church Building in Rusk, April 8 and 9, 1850

Fields spent the month of April, 1850 riding his circuit, and what a circuit it was!   He began the month in Anderson County on the Palestine Circuit.  The next Sunday he was in Rusk for the quarterly meeting of the Cherokee Circuit.  He held a love feast at 11:00 on Sunday but found the congregation to be “a fearful, faint and fearful church, everything unfavorable to religion.”  Fields proposed the erection of a meeting house and contributed $5 toward that goal in the hopes that his display of generosity would stimulate others to give.   Fields added in his memoir that the $5 had been pressed into his hand at annual conference by a member who had recently returned from the California gold fields.   The contribution kick started the pledge drive and construction began almost immediately. 

The next stop was the Tyler Circuit meeting at Kennedy’s School House on the 13th and 14th.   The next week found Fields at Kingsborough (name changed to Kaufman in 1851).   On Monday Fields started for Dallas but found the creeks so high that he was forced to turn back.  When he returned to Kingsborough, he found the congregation still there since they were also unable to return to their homes because of the flooded streams. Fields naturally called the congregation together and held a preaching service.  On Tuesday he found the minor creeks had gone down, but the larger ones even higher than before.  Since minor creeks had to be forded and larger ones had ferries, it was possible to travel.   He got the East Fork of the Trinity which he described as “the worst and most dangerous stream in North Texas.”   The ferryman was reluctant to carry Fields across, but finally agreed.  The ferry ride was across the main channel, several sloughs, and finally the ferryman had to get on his horse to guide Fields through the bottoms.   By the 27th Fields was at Webb’s Chapel in Dallas County---what a month of circuit riding!


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