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Inskip, John Swanel (1816-1884), Methodist Episcopal clergyman and evangelist  

Charles Yrigoyen Jr.

Inskip, John Swanel (10 August 1816–07 March 1884), Methodist Episcopal clergyman and evangelist, was born in Huntingdon, England, the son of Edward Inskip, a businessman, and Martha Swanel. The family immigrated to the United States in 1820 and settled in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1832 the family moved to Chester County, Pennsylvania....

Article

Jackson, Rebecca Cox (1795-1871), itinerant preacher, religious writer, and Shaker eldress  

Jean McMahon Humez

Jackson, Rebecca Cox (15 February 1795–24 May 1871), itinerant preacher, religious writer, and Shaker eldress, was born a free African American in Horntown, Pennsylvania. According to sketchy autobiographical information, she was the daughter of Jane (maiden name unknown) Cox. No reference is made in her writings to her father, who probably died shortly after her birth. Rebecca Cox lived with her grandmother (never named) until she was between three and four years old, but by age six she was again living with her mother, who had remarried and was now called Jane Wisson or Wilson. Her stepfather, a sailor, died at sea the next year. At age ten, she was in Philadelphia with her mother and a younger sister and infant brother, the offspring, it seems, of a third marriage of her mother. Responsibility for caring for her younger siblings seems to have deprived Rebecca of the schooling her mother was somehow able to provide for the other children. Her mother died when she was thirteen, whereupon she probably moved into the household of her older brother Joseph Cox (1778?–1843), a tanner and clergyman eighteen years her senior....

Article

Jones, Samuel Porter (1847-1906), evangelist  

Robert R. Mathisen

Jones, Samuel Porter (16 October 1847–15 October 1906), evangelist, was born in Chambers County, Alabama, the son of John J. Jones, a successful lawyer and businessman, and Nancy Porter. His father’s family had a long tradition of producing Methodist preachers. Both his great-grandfather and his grandfather had entered the ministry, and his father also felt called to the ministry but never was convinced that it offered enough financial security. Sam Jones’s mother had an equally significant religious influence on him. “My mother was a painstaking, sweet-spirited, Christian woman,” he later wrote. Jones’s mother died when he was nine years old, and about four years later John Jones married Jennie Skinner of Cartersville, Georgia, and moved the family there in 1859. Like Nancy Jones before her, the new stepmother also “did all she could in instilling the principles of virtue and right” in the hearts of Jones and his three siblings....

Article

Maffitt, John Newland (1794-1850), Methodist preacher  

Robert E. Cray

Maffitt, John Newland (28 December 1794–28 May 1850), Methodist preacher, was born in Dublin, Ireland, to a middle-class family that belonged to the Church of Ireland, a branch of the Anglican church. Information about Maffitt’s family background and early life is decidedly spotty: his parents’ names are unknown, although we do know that his father died when Maffitt was twelve and that his mother shortly thereafter attempted to establish him in a mercantile establishment devoted to tailoring. One account claims he graduated from Trinity College. The teenage Maffitt indulged a love of reading novels and historical romances, however, until a conversion experience in a Methodist meeting at age eighteen or nineteen—accounts conflict on this score—convinced him to become a preacher. The Irish Methodist church did not recognize him as a licensed preacher, and his sporadic attempts at evangelical work both in and beyond Dublin were a mixed success at best. Even so, he displayed a highly melodramatic style, which would personify his later career in the United States. He married Ann Carnic at age twenty. They had seven children; the oldest son, ...

Article

Nast, William (1807-1899), Methodist clergyman and editor  

Henry Warner Bowden

Nast, William (15 January 1807–16 May 1899), Methodist clergyman and editor, was born in Stuttgart, Württemberg (now Germany), the son of Elizabeth Magdalene Ludovika Böhm and Johann Wilhelm Nast, merchants. He was baptized in the Lutheran church five days after birth, receiving his father’s full name, but most historical references have Anglicized his name to William. Orphaned at the age of seventeen, he lived with his eldest sister, who had married a theologian, and it was assumed that he would pursue a ministerial career. After attending schools in Stuttgart and Baihingen-an-der-Enz, Nast began seminary studies in 1821 in Blaubueren. Up to that point he had been strongly influenced by German Pietists and periodically experienced a deep sense of sin together with strong hopes for salvation. At the seminary, however, influences of a rationalistic, skeptical sort awaited him in the form of his roommate, David Friedrich Strauss. Wrestling with unresolved tensions between faith and reason, Nast turned away from the ministry and for a time (1825–1827) studied at the University of Tübingen. Thereafter, on the advice of his brother-in-law, he sought relief by traveling to the New World for a change of scene....

Article

Taylor, William (1821-1902), evangelist and missionary bishop of the Methodist Episcopal church  

Charles Yrigoyen Jr.

Taylor, William (02 May 1821–18 May 1902), evangelist and missionary bishop of the Methodist Episcopal church, was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, the son of Stuart Taylor, a farmer and tanner, and Martha E. Hickman, a cloth maker. Soon after their marriage, the Taylors joined the Presbyterian church but came under the influence of Methodist preaching and, with William, the first of eleven children, joined the Methodist Episcopal church in 1832. Attending a camp meeting on 28 August 1841, William underwent a transforming religious experience. The following year, while teaching school, he felt a call to enter the ministry and was sent to assist on the Franklin Circuit. A year later he was admitted on trial to the Baltimore Conference and ordained deacon in 1846 and elder in 1847. Between 1843 and 1849 he served pastorates at Deerfield, Fincastle, and Covington, Virginia; Georgetown, D.C.; and North Baltimore, Maryland. In October 1846 he married Annie Kimberlin; they had seven children....

Article

Van Cott, Maggie Newton (1830-1914), Methodist evangelist and preacher  

Sheryl A. Kujawa

Van Cott, Maggie Newton (25 March 1830–29 August 1914), Methodist evangelist and preacher, was born Margaret Ann Newton in New York City, the daughter of William K. Newton, an estate agent for John Jacob Astor, and Rachel A. Primrose. Her parents were Episcopalian, and she was confirmed in that denomination at age eleven. A year later, her younger brother died and the family began a series of moves, settling in Williamsburg, Long Island. Maggie gained an appreciation of Methodism from her maternal grandfather, who introduced her to prayers and hymns. In Williamsburg, the family lived near a Methodist church, and although she was forbidden to attend services there, Maggie would sit in the cupola of the house to overhear the singing....

Article

Willing, Jennie Fowler (1834-1916), evangelist, reformer, and church worker  

Joanne Carlson Brown

Willing, Jennie Fowler (22 January 1834–06 October 1916), evangelist, reformer, and church worker, was born in Burford, Canada West (present-day Ontario), the daughter of Horatio Fowler, a homesteader and participant in the Papineau Rebellion of 1837, and Harriet Ryan, the daughter of the founder of Canadian Methodism, Henry Ryan. The Fowlers settled in Newark, Illinois, following Horatio’s expulsion from Canada after the failure of the rebellion. Jennie was a sickly child and largely self-educated. Her first job was as a school teacher in Illinois at age fifteen....