Methodist History in Walker County
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
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.
Last Updated - June 17, 2011
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