Isaac Jones homestead (1837-1851) Calloway County, KY

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Isaac Jones...............The Methodist Minister.

The earliest known actual record of Isaac's involvement with the Methodist church dates to September 18, 1820, where he is listed as a deacon on the list of local preachers for the Iredell Circuit, which was then part of the larger Yadkin District under the even larger Virginia Conference. At the time, the Iredell Circuit encompassed the areas of Iredell County, the part of Rowan that is now Davie County, the part of southern Surry County that is now Yadkin County, and present-day southeastern Wilkes County and eastern Alexander County. Despite being created in 1807, the Iredell Circuit really only began keeping detailed records of it's activities in 1823. These records being primarily quarterly conference meeting minutes in which Isaac makes a steady appearance during the years 1823 to late 1826 listed as a local deacon. As a local deacon, Isaac would have been a licensed minister yet not "officially ordained" by the church, a system set up to service the large number of Methodists in the area when at the time there were very few ordained ministers to fill the need. Even in this position, his duties and abilities within the church would have been "to baptize in the absence of an elder. to assist the elder in the administration of the Lord's Supper, to marry, to bury the dead, and read the liturgy to the people as prescribed, except what relates to the administration of the Lord's Supper." In many locations holding the title of minister, regardless of the denomination, would exclude an individual from having to pay any sort of county poll tax in order to vote.

During the years 1823-1826, Isaac routinely attended the quarterly conference meetings held in July and September of each year, making appearances at Hickory Grove Campground and Center Meeting House in Surry County and Snow Creek in Iredell County. At one particular meeting held at Snow Creek in September of 1826, Isaac is one of four men selected to serve on a committee to investigate a fellow local preacher named Reuben Ellis who had been "charged with fals swaring and intoxication." An accusation to which the defendant is ultimately found guilty of only the charge of intoxication and records state that "Bro. Patterson and Bro. Jones was appointed to ask him for his credentials for the purpose of returning them to the annual conference." In other words, the two men had been selected to strip him of his minister's license.

Beyond the earlier mentioned quarterly conference meeting minutes, no further record of any equal or higher level of involvement within the church on Isaac's part has yet to emerge, apart from performing several marriages primarily involving people within his extended family during the 1830's and 1840's. Having been a slave owner as early as 1810, this would have been an instant disqualifier for becoming officially ordained by the church in the years prior to the split within the Methodist Church over the issue of slavery and formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church South in 1844. Isaac most likely sided with the Methodist Episcopal Church South, as evidenced by the fact that he was still listed on the 1850 Census with the occupation of Methodist clergyman while still owning slaves at the time of his death later that year or in early 1851. It is also important to note that his youngest son Joshua Douglas Jones, also a slave owner, went on to become a minister with the Methodist Episcopal Church South in Kentucky.

When looking at Isaac's level of involvement within the church between 1788-1798, it would seem there is little there indicating that he was anything more than just another member of the church. Despite eventually achieving the rank of local deacon on the Iredell Circuit, this does not imply that he was an actual circuit riding preacher at that time or any other. In regards to the ten year time period in question, the known existing evidence actually shows that it would have been somewhat unlikely. During this time, the preachers selected to travel by horseback preaching the gospel across the sparsely populated frontier were known as circuit riders. The general base requirements at the time were that these individuals be "young, in good health, and single (since marriage and a family forced preachers to settle in one area and leave the traveling ministry)." In addition, "circuit riders rarely served longer than one year on a circuit." With Isaac having gotten married possibly as early as 1787 at the age of 17, it would seem that during the time when Isaac would have most been a prime candidate for the circuit, he was instead getting married and having children in direct contrast to what they were looking for in a circuit rider.

1820 List Of Local Preachers On The Iredell Circuit, NC (courtesy of Mike Jones)

1824 Methodist Quarterly Conference Minutes~Iredell Circuit

1825 Methodist Quarterly Conference Minutes~Iredell Circuit (page 1)

1825 Methodist Quarterly Conference Minutes~Iredell Circuit (page 2)

1826 Methodist Quarterly Conference Minutes~Iredell Circuit (page 1)

1826 Methodist Quarterly Conference Minutes~Iredell Circuit (page 2)

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