Walker County, Alabama Genealogy Trails

 Source: Methodism In Alabama, by Rev. Anson West, DD  1893

Submitted by Veneta McKinney

The first item of Methodist history in Walker County, Alabama, which the Records have preserved is that a Quarterly Conference for the Blount Circuit convened at the house of JOHN KEYS, in that county, June 14, 1833. The Rev. ANTHONY S. DICKINSON, the preacher in charge of the Circuit, presided. THEOPHILUS MOODY, junior preacher on the Circuit, JOHN TURNER, E. G. MUSGROVE, I. G. DESKIN, ROBERT WILLIAMS, local preachers, ALFRED LANE, JOHN GURGANUS, exhorters, JESSE HARBIN, JOSEPH RICHEY, JAMES M. PATTON, and DAVID BLANTON, class leaders, were present as members of that body. E. G. MUSGROVE was the Secretary. The amount of money reported to that Quarterly Conference received from the Circuit for the Quarter for the support of the ministry was thirty-four dollars and eighty-seven and one-half cents.

At the time now under review Walker County was a very large county, including within its limits what was afterward constituted and named Hancock County, subsequently changed in name to Winston.

At the Annual Conference in December, 1833, Walker Mission was made and put in the list of appointments, and was continued under that classification and title until the close of 1835, when the name was changed to that of Jasper. By the name of Jasper it was called till the close of 1842, when the name was changed to New Lexington, after which the name of Jasper did not appear for ten years. To fully understand the arrangement of the work it is necessary to state that through the years, beginning with 1838, in which the charge first called Jasper and then New Lexington existed, there was also a Walker Mission, which occupied a part of Walker County. The Walker Mission at that time occupied the eastern half of Walker County, and was sometimes associated with Blount Circuit. The pastoral charge called Jasper and then called New Lexington lay along and on either side of Bylers Road, and extended from North Port on the Warrior River to the northern boundary of Walker County. Parts of Fayette, Marion, Tuskaloosa, and Walker were included in that charge. No doubt somr of the preaching places on that work had previously belonged to other Circuits. The preaching places mentioned in that Circuit in 1842 were: Bethel, Bethlehem, Blanton's, Cole's, Jasper, New Lexington, North Port, Pleasant Hill, Pryor's, Rock Spring, Shiloh, Zion, Snow's, Tubbs's, Turner's, Williams's, Yellow Creek. The WHITSONS, FREEMANS and COLES had their membership at Zion, in the south-eastern part of Fayette County.

By a Quarterly Conference held at Shiloh, April 3, 1837, one of the local preachers was tried for intemperance in the use of ardent spirits, and for vending ardent spirits, and was convicted, and expelled from the Church. To that same Quarterly Conference it was reported that JESSE HARBIN, formerly a member oof' that body, had withdrawn from the Church under charges which, if true, would have expelled him from the connection.

As late as 1838 all the preaching houses occupied by the Methodists in the bounds of the Jasper charge were on land still owned by the United States. Lands which had not been purchased from the Government. It was also held that in consequence of the unsettled state of affairs nothing could be done in the premises. Here is a clear indication of the style and standard in that region at that time.

In 1837 there was one Sunday-school in the bounds of the Jasper charge. The next year there were two, one at Pleasant Hill Meeting House, and one at McConnel's School-house. That was about the strength of Sunday-schools for years in that work.

In March, 1838, a Missionary Society auxiliary to the Missionary Society of the Alabama Annual Conference was organized with a suitable Constitution by the Quarterly Conference, and G. J. ISBEL was appointed the Treasurer.

At a Quarterly Conference for Jasper charge held at Gold Mine Camp-ground, about five or six miles from the line of Walker, and in the County of Marion, September 8, 1838, the Rev. JOHN R. GAMBLE, a local preacher, recently removed from Shelby County, Alabama, to Walker County, made application for membership in that Quarterly Conference, and was received, and his license was renewed. From that time till his death in 1863 he resided and worked in Walker County. His descendants have been worthy Methodists. Two sons, Hon. FRANCIS ASHBURY GAMBLE and Dr. JOHN W. GAMBLE, are preachers in the local ranks. Two daughters, Mrs. FOUST, of Blount Springs, and Mrs. WILSON, of Leeds, are devout Christians. The grandchildren are devoted Methodists.

At the Quarterly Conference held for Jasper Circuit, at New Lexington, August 3, 1839, JULIUS NICHOLSON GLOVER, who was an itinerant preacher in Alabama from the beginning of 1855 till his death in 1888, was licensed to preach.

There were a number of men in the bounds of the Jasper charge, who from the beginning there and for many years gave much time in active and zealous service to the Church under the auspices of Methodism. They were generally men of limited means and meager attainments. In addition to those already mentioned may be-named THOMAS WHITSON, WILLIAM COLE, and JAMES H FREEMAN, who were local preachers there previously 1837. The Rev. JAMES H. FREEMAN lived and worked in that country a long while, and was one of the very best Christians. There were a number who filled the offices of class leader and steward who were men of good influence in that region. There were a number of exhorters who did good in the divine cause. WILLIAM CRUMP, BENJAMIN JONES, JONATHAN SHERLY, JESSE FREEMAN were all worthy of mention. ASHLEY ALDRIDGE and ROBERT DAVIS, men of but little education, were long in that section. The Rev. THOMAS WHITSON was ordained deacon at Tuskaloosa, Alabama, December 17, 1826, by Bishop R. R. ROBERTS, and elder at the same place, December 23, 1835, by Bishop JOSHUA SOULE.

The first statistical report on record for Walker Mission shows three hundred and fourteen white and sixteen colored members. At the beginning of 1845 the two charges which embraced Walker County, and which, as stated elsewhere, included some territory outside of Walker, claimed seven hundred and eleven white and one hundred and eighteen colored members.







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