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 Texas : Features : Columns : All Things Historical :

Man with a Method

Littleton Fowler

by Archie P. McDonald
Archie McDonald Ph.D.
Long before winning fame and martyrdom at the Alamo, William Barret Travis wrote to tell Methodist leaders in the United States how badly Texas needed their attention. Samuel Doak McMahon held the first meeting of Methodists in Texas in his home, located ten or so miles east of San Augustine, in 1832, but the arrival of Littleton Fowler in 1837 was the first authorized Methodist activity there.

Fowler was born in 1803 in Tennessee, but his family moved to Kentucky three years later. He joined the Methodist Church in 1819, was licensed to preach in 1826, and remained active in church work in Kentucky and Tennessee until he volunteered for a missionary trip to Texas in 1837.

Fowler arrived in Texas in September 1836 via the Red River with John B. Denton. Fowler and Denton traveled south to Nacogdoches, then east to San Augustine, where Fowler began preaching. He obtained lots in San Augustine, Nacogdoches, and Washington-on-the-Brazos on which to build churches. He founded the Methodist Church in San Augustine in March 1838, and the church in Nacogdoches soon afterward.

Fowler was also active in public affairs. He journeyed to Houston when it hosted the government of the Republic of Texas and while there served as chaplain of the Texas Senate; later he was selected Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Texas, Ancient Free & Accepted Masons. But Fowler's first commitment to spreading the Gospel focused the majority of his public activities on church work. He became presiding elder of the San Augustine District in 1840 when the Texas Annual Conference was organized, and later served as presiding elder of the Lake Soda District.

Religious education also concerned Fowler. He served as an agent of Rutersville College in 1841-1842, and helped Francis A. Wilson and Daniel Poe establish Wesleyan College in San Augustine. He sponsored a resolution at the General Conference in 1844 that provided for additional conferences and supported the movement that established the United Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

Fowler married Mrs. Missouri Lockwood Porter of Nacogdoches in 1838, and they had one son. He died on his farm in Sabine County in 1846, and was entombed under the pulpit at McMahon's Chapel, located between San Augustine and Milam, Texas.
Archie P. McDonald
All Things Historical

February 13, 2006 column
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
(Distributed by the East Texas Historical Association. Archie P. McDonald is director of the Association and author of more than 20 books on Texas)
 
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