Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Rev. Francis Asbury, Methodist Minister, Preaches in Pelham in 1772

Francis Asbury served as one of the first two bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America. Born in England on August 20, 1745, he became an ordained minister at the age of 22. He volunteered to spread the Gospel to America and traveled here in 1771. According to some sources, when the American Revolution began, he was the only Methodist minister to remain in the country. He died on March 31, 1816 and is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.

Francis Asbury kept meticulous journals of his travels. His journals for early 1772 show his travels and preaching through the Manor of Pelham. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting transcribes pertinent entries from the published version of some of his early journals.

"ASBURY'S JOURNAL [JAN. 1772. . . . .

On Wednesday the 15th I preached at two in the afternoon at Mairnock [Mamaroneck] with some power, and in the evening returned, preached at Rye, to a large company, and felt my Master near. Thursday 16, I was taken ill with a cold and chill. The next morning I rode to New-City [this is "New City Island", today's City Island], but the cold pinched me much. On New-City Island a congregation was assembled to receive me. I spoke to them with some liberty and they wished me to come again. A wise old Calvinist said, he might experience all I mentioned, and go to hell. I said, Satan experienced more than I mentioned, and yet is gone to hell. After preaching I rode to Mr. B.'s, though in much pain. When I had preached there I went to bed. During the whole night I was very ill. My friends behaved very kindly, and endeavored to prevail upon me to stay there till I was restored: but my appointment required me to set off for Eastchester, where I preached, and rode near eight miles in the evening to New-Rochelle. On the 19th, the Lord's day, I preached three times, though very ill. Many attended, and I could not think of disappointing them. Monday the 20th, I rode to P.'s Manor [i.e., Pell's Manor -- Pelham], and preached there at noon, and at six in the evening at P. B.'s in Roechelle [New Rochelle]. The next day I rode to D.'s, but the day was extremely cold. In the night I had a sore throat, but through the help God I go on, and cannot think of sparing myself:

'No cross, no suff'ring I decline,
Only let all my heart to thine!'

Tuesday the 21st I preached at my friend D.'s for the last time, on, 'Those things that ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do.' The people seemed deeply affected under the word. In the morning of the 22d, I set out for the New-City, and preached there in much weakness and pain of body, and in the evening went to my friend P.'s [Pell's ??]. That night I had no rest: ane when I arose in the morning, the pain in my throat was worse. On the 23d [Page 22 / Page 23] I came in a covered sleigh to my friend B.'s, where I took up my lodging, being unable to go any farther. I then applied to a physician, who made applications to my ears, throat, and palate, which were all swelled and inflamed exceedingly. For six or seven days I could neither eat nor drink without great pain. The physician feared I should be strangled, before a discharge took place: but my God ordered all things well. I am raised up again; and cannot help remarking the kindness with which my friends treated me, as if I had been their own brother. The parents and children attended me day and night with the greatest attention. Thus, though a stranger in a strange land, God has taken care of me. May the Lord remember them that have remembered me, and grant to this family life forever more!

February 5. Still I feel myself weak. It is near a fortnight since I came to my friend B.'s. Dr. W. has attended me in all my illness, and did all he could for me gratis. Yesterday was the first day of my going out. I went to Westchester to hear a friend preach. My kind friends S. and W. brought up a sleigh from York on Monday last, but my friends at this place would not suffer me to go with them. In the course of my recovery, I have read much in my Bible, and Hammond's Notes on the New-Testament. I have also met with a spirited piece against predestination. I did not expect to find such an advocate for general redemption in America. This day I ventured to preach at Mr. A. B.'s to his family and a few other people. In the evening returned home, and found Mr. D. L., the former governor's son, there; who lives in the woods near Salem, and invited me to his house. We spent the evening comfortably together."

Source: Journal of Rev. Francis Asbury, Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Three Volumes, Vol. I, From August 7, 1771, to December 31, 1786, pp. 22-23 (NY, NY: Lane & Scott 1852).

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