Category Archives: Son-Shine Newsletter

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – April 2020

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
“Grins and Chuckles”
April 2020

     In the early days of the church, before air conditioning, the church in summertime was ventilated by opening the large windows and double entry doors creating a flow of air across the congregation.  In those days of horse drawn buggies and wagons, it wasn’t unusual for the family dog to follow the family to church, and equally not unusual for these four-legged creatures to periodically venture into the church service.  It was accepted practice for those individuals on the back pew to intercept these canine interlopers and prevent their access to the church service, unless quite possibly, the animal was a Methodist.  In today’s church the back benchers are probably not aware of the historical significance of the position they occupy, so if they are criticized for sitting on the back row, now they have an established precedent of responsibility of which they can utilize in their defense.

      At the turn of the century, family transportation to Chapel Hill was either pedestrian, or wagon and carriages.  The first automobile appeared at Chapel Hill about 1909, but this is the exception and not the general mode of travel until about 1925 when the assembly line Model T Ford began selling for 300 dollars.  This allowed more families to take advantage of mechanical horsepower.  In the wintertime, to keep the ladies’ feet warm during the trip to church, bricks or rocks were heated in the fireplace, then wrapped in a blanket and placed into the wagon or buggy.  The church was heated by a large pot-bellied stove located on the left center part of the sanctuary.  In 1953, after the Sunday School wing was added, the church installed an oil furnace with central heating.

     In the pre-automobile era, one of the common accessories utilized by the ladies was the umbrella or parasol (light umbrella).  Not only was the umbrella a protection against the rain, the parasol was an effective shield against the blistering heat of the summer months.  My daddy, born in 1896, regaled this story to me regarding his Grandmother Patience Hatfield Johnson and her parasol.  Patience (Pate) was born in 1846 and died in 1937 at almost 91 years of age, and was the oldest member of Chapel Hill Church and the oldest Methodist in Sequatchie County.  She was a petite, feisty individual, and walked briskly everywhere she went, and always dressed in black to honor her brother who perished during the Civil War.  Today I suspect her 90-year old Great-Granddaughter Anna Mae Johnson Hartman is very similar in physical stature.  Pate was the acknowledged matriarch of the church and held in high esteem by its members as witnessed by a multi-page eulogy I uncovered recently that was delivered by Rev O. C. Wright at her funeral.  She had a proper, determined, and no-nonsense attitude instilled by a life of hardship, joy, and abiding faith in God and church. 

     According to my Daddy, it was a sultry summer Sunday morning, with women arriving at church  many with parasol held aloft.  Grandma Johnson (as addressed by family) arrived late and entered the church.  In those days, prior to 1930, there was not a vestibule connected to the church, so the parishioners entered directly from outside into the sanctuary.  Sister Pate entered a packed church, walked down the aisle, and took her seat reserved on the front pew.  Normally there was nothing unusual about this scenario, except that Sister Pate forgot to lower and fold her parasol when she entered the sanctuary, even after taking her seat.  The congregation was greatly amused by this modern-day Mary Poppins, complete with black parasol.  Finally, a friend sitting behind her tapped her on the shoulder and pointed up.  Later, Grandma told Daddy that when she realized what had happened, she exclaimed, “I was so embarrassed, I could have crawled under the pew!”

     After hearing this story, I have always wondered how the minister, after witnessing this humorous event, could have preached a fire and brimstone sermon?  Quite a challenge!

Last month’s question:  What is the approximate membership of Chapel Hill United Methodist Church? 286

Next month’s question:  True or False?  The Methodist Church has never experienced a split in unity.



History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – November 2019


Compiled by Johnny Cordell
November 2019

    This month’s article will be dedicated to Veteran’s Day.  The observance falls on the 11th month, 11th day, and 11th hour.  This day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended the World War 1 hostilities between the Allied Nations and Germany in 1918.  Veterans are thanked and remembered for their service on Veteran’s Day.

     So, what is a Veteran?  Technically, a veteran is anyone who has worn the uniform of any military service, and been on active duty for 180 days.  Although, I think the Veterans Administration has reduced the days, due to some reserve unit personnel who are not in training for 180 days.  If you serve in a combat zone or war theater, then you are a veteran of that particular area, such as Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.  If you served in the military outside a combat zone or war theater, then you qualify as an era veteran of that particular war.  Now that you know what qualifies one as a veteran, how can you know who is a veteran?  Some veterans bear visible signs of the service:  a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye.  Others may carry the evidence inside them:  a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg, or perhaps another sort of inner steel:  the body’s soul forged in the refinery of adversity.  A veteran is the POW who went away one person and came back another, or didn’t come back at all.  A veteran is the parade riding Legionnaire who pins on ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.  A veteran is any of the anonymous heroes in the Tomb of the Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean’s sunless deep.  A veteran is a soldier, and a savior, and a sword against the darkness, and he or she is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known. 

     For the most part, except in parade or veteran’s programs, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem except for the occasional individual wearing a service identifying baseball cap or hat.  You really can’t tell a veteran by looking.  In conclusion, I appreciate the recognition provided by Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, particularly the establishment of a Veterans Wall to highlight the service of our church members, past and present.  Let Becky and Greg Tholken know their efforts are appreciated in bringing this project to fruition.

Sources:  USMC Chaplin Denis O’Brien, Veterans Administration, Army Military article “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”

Last month’s question:  What members of Chapel Hill UMC are currently conference certified lay speakers?  Ethel Powell and Pamela Ryle

Next month’s question:  What landmark in Sequatchie County is part of the Southeast Tennessee Religious Heritage Trail?






History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – September 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny G. Cordell
“Rev. Dr. R. N. Price, first preacher of Henniger’s Chapel”

September 2019

   In 1852 Henniger’s Chapel was built to serve and support the community of northwest Marion County.  The Rev. Richard Nye Price was assigned to the Jasper Circuit in the fall of 1852.  In 1853 this young preacher (age 23) conducted a revival of remarkable scope and power at Henniger’s Chapel.  Individuals and entire families were brought into the church, many would become future religious leaders.

     N. Price was born July 30, 1830, in Elk Garden, Russell County, VA. Son of John Wesley and Mary Miller Price. Educated at Emory and Henry College (1845-1849.   At age 11 he was converted at Lebanon Camp Ground, Washington County, VA.  Admitted in 1850 and located in 1857, but was readmitted in 1858, after which he served without interruption until 1898, when he was located at his own request.  He had been effective 47 years.  He was readmitted in 1900,  His biographer says of him:  “Besides being a local preacher, he served as junior preacher, circuit rider, station pastor, presiding elder, Conference secretary, General Conference delegate, college professor, college president, editor of the Conference organ, chaplain in two wars (thirty years apart) and finally as Conference Historian and author.  In each of these, by all accounts, he acquitted himself with credit, the officer was equal to the office,” “A preacher of ability, and a man of power in the pulpit.”  As editor, contributor to the press, and author of Holston History, he was one of the most prolific writers whom Holston Conference has produced.  He ranks mentally with the best men of his Church.  He was a well -known wit, and lived his life from youth to extreme age without stain or reproach. 

     Dr. Price was a very candid and independent editorial writer.  In 1898 he discussed with critical freedom the action of the Book Committee in the Publishing House Case.  The Committee on Books and Periodicals of Holston Conference said in their report: “The editorial management of the Midland Methodist has not been satisfactory.”  The report was warmly discussed, and various motions to delete the above statement were made.  The report was finally adopted without change.  It is supposed that this action was the occasion of Dr. Price’s request for location.  It would seem that the thing involved was a question as to what constitutes freedom of the press in a paper operated by a Conference.  After Dr. Price’s readmission to the Conference in 1900, there was no abatement of the esteem in which he was held by the Conference.  The Conference made adequate provisions, so that he might devote his time to the writing of the History of Methodism in the Holston Conference.  The work done by Dr. Price in writing this History was a splendid contribution to the history of Holston Conference and of the region which it has served. 

   He married May 8, 1855, Miss Anne Edgewater Vance of Marshall County, N.C.  They had ten children.  One son, Rev. Vance Price, became a Methodist Preacher.  One brother of R. N. Price also became a Methodist Preacher, then Rev. W. H. Price. 

    The greater part of 20 years, were spent in writing the History of Methodism in the Holston Conference and he will probably be longest remembered for the work.  It comprises 5 volumes and covers the entire history of the Conference from 1783 to 1897.  He was appointed Conference Historian in 1901 and continued in that appointment until 1921.  He was superannuated in 1921and so remained until his death in 1923.  Seventy-three years marked the time from his admission into the Conference until his departure.  This is the longest ministerial service in the history of the Holston Conference.  He died in his own home at Morristown, Tennessee on February 7th, 1923 and was buried in Morristown. 


*Compilers’ Note:  I am predisposed to think that this venerable and iconic individual was influenced in his first years of ministry by the people of the community of present-day Chapel Hill which would serve him well throughout his life.

Last month question: Who is the longest serving pianist/organist in Chapel Hill?  Anna Mae Hartman has volunteered and served almost 70 years.

Next month’s question:  What minister of Chapel Hill holds the record for conducting weddings and funerals in the Chapel Hill community and Sequatchie Valley?


History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – October 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell

“A Time of Tribulation 1863-1884”
October 2019

  In the hot August summer of 1863, Federal soldiers destroyed Henniger’s Chapel (Present day Chapel Hill).  The American Civil War had been raging since 1861, and Sequatchie Valley felt the full force of the war beginning in early 1863.  Loyalties and sympathies were closely divided regarding the Union and Confederate governments.  The battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga twice brought large armies from both sides traversing through the Sequatchie Valley to engage in battle, to reinforce existing armies, and also as a major backdoor supply route to Chattanooga.  Since the regular supply chain was not always efficient, soldiers from both armies would raid and pillage the local farms and countryside, taking most of the livestock and grain available.  The local population was reduced to subsistence existence and their young teenage boys were conscripted by both armies.

    The Methodist Episcopal Church was also split into northern and southern factions, and the Holston Conference was also at times unable to provide a circuit riding minister.  However, most communities had a church where local lay leaders could continue the mission of the church.  Since Henniger’s Chapel (Chapel Hill) had been destroyed, this option was not available to this community.  The community was suffering physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  The community could have descended into apathy, but in times of great tribulation, Christ will raise up individuals among his people.  In 1864, a young girl was brought under conviction while praying in an apple orchard.  This created quite a stir in the community and eventually led to a great revival also led by three men under the guiding spirit of Christ.  These three men were Josiah Rogers, William D. Deakins, and Stephen D. Thurman.  These three men were mentioned by Dr. R.N. Price in “History of the Holston Conference”.  William D. Deakins was an individual possessed of talents of high order; and when warmed under a good gospel sermon or a prayer meeting, he would seem to be aglow with the power and glory of God, and would almost, it seemed, bring heaven and earth together.  When he arose from his knees, the whole congregation would be in tears, and be in a state of ecstasy.

    Stephen D. Thurman was a man of great conviction and a fervent Christian.  He was also able to move congregations with prayer, but his great talent was bringing the word through his untiring ability to sing his message of Christ’s love.  He is credited with leading many souls to the Savior. That spirit continues today with a current member of Chapel Hill, his great-great granddaughter Lula Bess Hickey.

    Josiah Rogers was the third member of this Christian trio of musketeers.  A remarkable man, he was physically imposing, intellectually impressive, and spiritually a veritable giant.  He was a great shouter, not only in church, but at home, in the fields, and along the roadside.  In times of bereavement, his exulting soul would rise above every cumbering care in rapturous praise to God.

    Under the direction of these three men, the revival began as a prayer meeting in the home of Josiah Rogers.  A great crowd assembled and the meeting continued all night, breaking up after daylight the next morning.  Fifteen young men and young ladies were converted that night.  These three men announced that the meeting would be carried to Liberty Union Church.  The meeting went on for three weeks, resulting in over 200 conversions and accessions.  This prayer meeting revival of 1864 effectively brought the general community’s attention to real religion again and to prepare them for the trying days ahead following a devastating war.  These three laymen, had given the spiritually worn an opportunity to lay hold upon God anew, to lay the groundwork for rebuilding the church in 1884, and to continue to “fight the good fight of faith”.


Sources: Dr. R.N Price “History of Holston Conference” and Mary Thomas Peacock “The Circuit Riders and Those Who Followed”

Last month’s question:  What minister of Chapel Hill holds the record for conducting weddings and funerals?  This record probably belongs to John Alley due to his long tenure at Chapel Hill and family connections in Sequatchie   and Bledsoe Counties.


Next month’s question:  How many conference certified lay speakers are members of Chapel Hill UMC?


History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – August 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
“John Henniger, Builder of Churches”

August 2019

     In 1817 Circuit Rider John Henniger was assigned to the Sequatchie Valley where he served present day Chapel Hill community that was the northern end of Marion County which was also created in 1817.  Before 1807 the Sequatchie Valley was part of Roane County until Bledsoe County was formed that year with Brush Creek as its southern boundary.  The lands south of Brush Creek was generally regarded as the Indians Lands of the Cherokee and were protected by Federal Troops until 1817 when the Cherokee were pressured to cede their lands with the Jackson-McMinn Treaty.  It was against this backdrop that the Reverend John Henniger was assigned his charge.

     John Henniger was born in Virginia in 1784.  He joined the Western Conference in 1807.  He served charges in Mississippi, Ohio, and Kentucky as well as Tennessee, where he was very popular.  John Henniger was a member of the western, Tennessee, and Holston Conferences without transferring, serving each as it was carved out of the former.  He did his most important work as presiding elder.  In this capacity, he served French Broad, Knoxville, and the Washington Districts.  He was presiding elder of the Washington District from 1830-1834 and again in 1835-1937, where he finished his faithful and brilliant career.  He died December 23, 1838.  His loyal wife had died six days earlier on December 17th.

     The Washington District covered Sequatchie Valley; hence John Henniger was well known and beloved there.  He lived for a few years near Pikeville.   Four of his daughters were married there.  Five of his grandchildren resided in Bledsoe County and one granddaughter lived in Chattanooga.

     The wife of John Henniger was formerly Jane Anderson of Virginia, aunt of Louise Anderson Kirklin.  The Kirklins resided in the house currently occupied by Lynn and Katherine Allen.  Mrs. Kirklin was the daughter of John Anderson, Jr. (who was a brother of Jane Anderson) and Elizabeth McNair Anderson of Bledsoe County, where Mrs. Kirklin was born September 8, 1806.  She was the first child of European descent born in the Sequatchie Valley.  Jane’s brother was Col. Josiah Anderson, a member of Congress; and two of Jane’s great nieces were married to circuit riders, John Alley and Mitchell Swaim.  John Alley was the longest serving minister of Henniger’s Chapel and Chapel Hill until that record was broken by Tom Tucker in 2018. 

     In 1852, the Kirklins donated land for a new church.  Adding to the popularity of John Henniger, these blood ties helped to determine the name of the church fourteen years after his death.

Compilers note:  During my research, I found 4 different spellings of this individual.  Mary Thomas Peacock  “The Circuit Ride and Those  Who Followed” list him as Henninger.  Edna Susong Jackson “Chapel Hill” list him as Henniger, which is the spelling I utilized in this article.  The history of Beth-Car Methodist Church list him in 1814 as John Hennigar, known as “builder of churches”.  However John Henniger is interred in Fort Hill Cemetery in Cleveland, Tennessee where the family name is listed as Henegar.


Next month’s question:  Who is the longest serving pianist/organist in Chapel Hill history?



Annual Conference 2019 Highlights


In her “State of the Church” report, Bishop Dindy Taylor read Paul’s letter in 1 Corinthians 12 about unity and diversity in the church: “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church”.  She said she had attended meetings in which both progressives and traditionalists felt “deeply hurt” because they believed “the United Methodist Church no longer wanted them to be part of it”.  Despite disagreements between members, the church can still work together to love people, Taylor said.  “That’s Christ’s body.  That’s who we are.  We must never forget that, because God is counting on us”.

In the Lay Leader’s Report, Del Holley said Holston Conference has two paths:  one is a path filled with worry, hand-wringing, and asking ‘What is the future of the church?’” Holley said, “We must avoid that path at all costs for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-control.”  Instead, he challenged members to “choose the path of devotion, recommit yourself to sharing the good news of God’s love and claim the power of the Holy Spirit that the Kingdom of God may come upon the earth”.

A $9.1 million budget for 2020 was approved.  This is less than the $9.25 million approved for 2019.

The Hands-on Mission Project was valued at $220,131 with all districts exceeding their goals with total 9,042 kits.  Scenic South (home buckets) goal was 400.  Actual received was 1,375.  Change for Children received $61,990.  The Addiction Ministry offering was $129,733.  This will be distributed in grants for new and existing ministries addressing addiction.

Tim Hilton, addiction and recovery expert, shared his personal story of substance abuse, while explaining brain chemisty during addiction and the nature of the disease.  His presentation prepared church members for ministry to help individuals and families struggling with addiction.  Stephannie Strutner, executive director of ASAP of Anderson, said more than five people die of an opioid overdose every day in Holston Conference.  Faith communities are needed to work with other sectors in addressing the epidemic in multiple ways, she said.

The Rev. Betty Furches shared a moving tribute to Hiwassee College, which closed its doors May 10 after 170 years.  The presidents of Emory & Henry College and Tennessee Wesleyan College asked for a “moment of silence” in recognition of Hiwassee College.

There were 33 clergy honored at the Retirement Recognition.

The Service of Ordination, Commissioning, Recognition and Sending Forth featured 5 ordained elders, 8 provisional elders and 1 associate member.

Delegates to the General Conference and to the Jurisdictional Conference were elected to represent Holston.

More details and reports may be found at


June Haman, Lay Member

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – July 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
2019 July, Part 2

Civil War came to this area in full force in the summer of 1863 when the Union Army invaded the Sequatchie Valley.  This area was utilized as a campground by troops under the command of General Crittenden.  They cooked with fires built on the rock slabs that covered the early graves.  They removed the planks from the church and transported them to Bridgeport to construct barracks.  The remaining log church was burned by accident or on purpose, and the structure smoldered for over a week.  After the defeat of the Union Army at Chickamauga, General Rosecrams was bottled up at Chattanooga where the federal troops were literally starving on a sustenance of one small piece of bread and one ounce of pork a day.  The only supply route was East Valley Road and Anderson Pike which ran by this church.  On October 2nd, Confederate General Joseph Wheeler sweeping down from the northeast on a cavalry raid surprised a union supply train stretching over ten miles, hence this area became the scene of the largest military raid of the Civil War.  A skirmish took place here around this cemetery site, and the soldiers who were killed are buried in this cemetery.  The citizens of this area endured unimaginable hardships as armies of both sides plundered and ravaged the countryside taking all animals and food.  Most of the people survived on a cake like mixture of cornmeal and sorghum.

In 1864 a young girl was praying in her family’s apple orchard when she was converted by the spirit.  When word of this experience spread throughout the community, a great revival broke out, and when it surpass the capacity of the house of Josiah Rogers, the meeting was moved to Liberty Union Presbyterian Church.  It lasted for three weeks resulting in over 200 conversions.  Although several years passed, this event led to the rebuilding of this church in 1884 under the leadership of Holston Conference Rev. Absolom Deakins Stewart.  Since that time approximately 54 ministers have served this church now known as Chapel Hill.  Chapel Hill was on a circuit with Dunlap and Welch Chapel until 1954 when Dunlap became a station.  In 1968 Chapel Hill became a station.

The vestibule was added in 1930’s.  For several years a non-denominational Sunday School was held at the Center Point School building and then they attended church services at Chapel Hill.  However, due to an official ruling that the school house could not be utilized for religious purposes, Chapel Hill agreed to build Sunday School rooms and move Sunday School services to this building with the understanding that the Sunday School would continue to be non-denominational.  This understanding has been adhered to and is still in effect.  In February 1983 a steeple was erected.  In 1984 additional Sunday School rooms and a fellowship hall was added.  And now 167 years later Chapel Hill Church is embarking on a new vision with construction of a family life center and future sanctuary and fellowship hall on the drawing board.  If our ancestors of 1852 and 1884 had not stepped out on faith, I obviously would not be here today in this church.  But, I am here today and our circuit riders heritage and mission are still intact.  Psalms 145:4 states that “One generation shall praise thy works to another and shall declare thy mighty acts.”  One hundred years from now, what will our descendants say or write about us concerning our faith, determination and perseverance?

References: Chapel Hill by Edna Susong Jackson and committee
                    Sequatchie by Leonard Raulston & James Livingood     
                    Military Records & Articles
                    Oral Histories

Last month’s question:  What military training does our current Pastor Jared Wood have?  Jared graduated from Virginia Military Institute (VMI).  Notable alumni of VMI are General George Marshall (WWII and later Secretary of State and Defense), General George Patton (famed tank commander WWII), and Marine Corps General Lewis “Chesty” Puller (Most decorated Marine in history)

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – April 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
April 2019

     Cartwright was considerably older than Abraham Lincoln but in the 1850’s, Peter continued on the fringes of politics, backing Senator Steven Douglas in the election of 1858 in which Douglas prevailed.  But Cartwright’s attitude toward Mr. Lincoln mellowed with age, in 1862, Cartwright visited New York where he spoke before a dinner of New Yorkers unfriendly to the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln: “Once we were opposing candidates for a seat in Congress, and measured up in the ballot-box, I went down in defeat.  But it was defeat by a gentleman and a patriot.  I stand here tonight to commend to you the Christian character, sterling integrity, and far-seeing sagacity of the President of the United States, whose official acts you have, your blind money-madness, so critically assailed tonight.  I am confident he is the man to meet and go forward in this crisis to lead his countrymen amid and through the terrible strife in which we are now engaged.  He is a cool-headed, God fearing, and unselfish love of his country, and knows from the top to the bottom the life and spirit of men both North and South.  When you go from here to your homes tonight, I want you to bear with you the assurance of his neighbor and once political opponent that the country will be safe in his hands.  I wish to have you understand that back of him will stand an unflinching host of Western men, who have no financial ghosts that terrify them and who are destined to rescue this nation from the perils now before us.  We have got the men who have got the right-kind of grit in them out West.  Why stand ye here idle?  My God send patriotic light into your stingy souls.”
     Peter Cartwright’s style of preaching is characterized by William Henry Milburn, a fellow Methodist circuit rider who saw him frequently and claimed him as a friend.  Milburn gives this description of Cartwright’s preaching:  “  A voice which, in his prime, was capable of almost every modulation, the earnest force of homely directness of his speech, and his power over the passions of the human heart, made him an orator to win and command the suffrages and sympathies of a western audience, and ever through the discourse, came, and went, and came and went, a humor that was resistless, now broadening the features into a merry smile, and then softening the heart until tears stood in the eyes of all.  His figures and illustrations were often grand, sometimes fantastical.  Like all natives of a new country, he spoke much in metaphors, and his were borrowed from the magnificent realm in which he lived.  All forms of nature, save those of sounding seas, were familiar to him.  You might hear in a single discourse, the thunder tread of a frightened herd of buffalo as they rushed wildly across the prairie, the crash of a window as it fell smitten by the breath of the tempest, the piercing scream of the wild cat as it scared the midnight forest, the majestic Mississippi as it harmonized the distant East and West.  Thunder and lightning, fire and flood, seemed to be old acquaintances, and he spoke of them with the assured confidence of friendship.  Another of his attributes was the impulse and power to create his own language; and he was best lexicon of western words, phrases, and proverbs, that I have ever met.”

       Peter died at 87, leaving behind an autobiography which has become a classic as much for the exploits it recounts as for the pictures of frontier life.  Cartwright summarizes his life stating “That with all the losses and crosses, labors, and sufferings peculiar to the life of a Methodist traveling preacher, I would take the same track over and over again with the same religion to bear me up rather than be the President of the United States.  I ask your prayers that you remember an old man who has spent life in the service of the church, and I would do it again.”


*Compiler’s Note:  At the completion of this article, I realize that today’s Methodist of settled denominations may not approve of the methods of Peter Cartwright.  However, he possessed the needed qualities to survive the harsh and dangerous world of the American frontier.  The Reverend Cartwright possessed three things: (1) a Bible (2) a horse (3) a gun…and he knew how to use all three.  During his ministry, he baptized 10,000 converts and preached almost 15,000 sermons.

Sources:  (1) Dan Graves, MSL “Colorful Peter Cartwright, Circuit Rider” (2) Rev. Alfred Day, (3) Robert Bray, Illinois Wesleyan University “Beating the Devil: Life and Art in Peter Cartwright’s Autobiography” (4) Leewin Williams and Kenneth Alley:  “The Encyclopedia of Wit, Humor, and Wisdom” (5) The Gilder Lehrman Institute “Mr. Lincoln and Friends”

Question: What pastor instituted the first Christmas Communion at Chapel Hill?  Tom Tucker

Next Month’s Question:  Where did Francis Asbury do most of his readings and rehearsing of his sermons?


History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – March 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
(continued from last month)

March 2019

This encounter with General Jackson would lean one to believe that Preacher Cartwright and General Jackson did not know each other, however in 1814 Cartwright was reportedly a Chaplin in the War of 1812, and present at the Battle of New Orleans.  Before entering the battle, General Jackson called his Chaplin’s together and exhorted them “to preach to the soldiers of the cause and assure them, if they die in battle, they would go straight to heaven.”  Cartwright replied, “General, I can’t quite go that far, but I can say I believe our cause is of God, and that any of them should be killed, God in that last account would give any of them credit for their sacrifices.”  Apparently in the 1818 church encounter, Jackson and Cartwright already knew one another, and imposing their little joke on the “city preacher” and his credulous congregation.

Rowdies often interrupted Peter’s meetings.  When one thug promised to whip him, Peter invited the man to step into the woods with him.  The two started for trees.  Leaping over a fence at the edge of the campground, Peter landed painfully and clutched his side.  The bully shouted that the preacher was going for a dagger and ran away.  Once, on a ferry boat, Cartwright overheard someone denounced him as a “Methodist horse thief” by a man who promised him a good liking should they ever meet.  “Come” said the preacher, making himself known, “I am the man you propose to trash.  Either whip me as you threaten, or quit cursing me, or else I will put you in the river and baptize you in the name of the devil.”  The sinner quailed, and became converted to Methodism under the grip of the compelling Cartwright.

Such events gave him a name.  A story spread that he even confronted legendary river boatman Mike Fink.  Cartwright claims this encounter never happened, but stories kept cropping up in newspapers and books from Georgia, to New York, to Illinois State Journal.  According to the article, Fink appears with his gang and attempts to disrupt one of Cartwright’s meetings in Alton, Illinois.  Cartwright soon grows tired of the rowdies and descends the pulpit in order to “make the devil pray.”  He quickly fells the riverman with a “prodigious punch of his herculean fist,” then pins him by the windpipe until Fink agrees to repeat the Lord’s Prayer after Cartwright, line by line.  Thereafter, the rowdies behave with “exemplary decorum” throughout the remainder of the meeting.  The story was repeated by James B. Finley, another gifted and famous Methodist circuit rider.

Peter Cartwright tells the story of two fashionably dressed sisters that attended one of his meetings in 1804.  Their brothers, who didn’t attend the meeting, but stayed outside, saw their sisters get the jerks.  This greatly disturbed them, and they determined to horse whip Cartwright outside the church.  They said they had seen him take something out of his pocket and give to their sisters and that’s why they got the jerks.  What they didn’t know was Peter Cartwright often carried a tin of peppermints in his pocket and would put one in his mouth before he spoke.  Peter, trying to diffuse the situation, answered them directly.  “I need not deny it,” he said, “Yes, I gave them the jerks and I can give them to you.”  Fear struck the brothers and they ran away yelling at him not to follow them or they would kill him.

Cartwright also demonstrates his humor when he relates a story of a woman in one of his parishes who often annoyed him by going off on a high key.  One day in class meeting, with her soul in ecstatic emotions, she rapturously cried out, “If I had one more feather in the wing of my soul, I would fly away and be with my savior.”  “Stick in the other feather, Lord” interjected Cartwright, “and let her go!”

(To be continued next month)

Sources: Dan Graves, MSL “Colorful Peter Cartwright, Circuit Rider”
                Robert Bray, Illinois Wesleyan University “Beating the Devil: Life and Art in Peter Cartwright’s Autobiography”
                Leewin Williams and Kenneth Alley: “The Encyclopedia of Wit, Humor and Wisdom”