Dr. Anna Grant Oklahoma Pioneer and California Minister

Granite Hotel in Granite, Oklahoma circa early 1900s

I’ve been tracing the life of Dr. Anna Grant, the other female evangelist appointed as a delegate to the 1890 General Conference. I’ve previously written about her medical career and the only other female delegate in 1890, Clara Wetherald. Like Clara’s story, Anna’s story has come together through tiny fragments, newspaper clippings, census records, Free Methodist ministry reports, annual conference minutes and family stories. I still haven’t found where she did her medical training, and I might never find that info. However, I did manage to trace her life after 1890 until her death in 1916. In this post, I’ll share her about her ministry in Iowa and Oklahoma. In a post coming in the next few weeks, I’ll share her time in San Diego as the appointed pastor of the San Diego Free Methodist Church. There is enough info on her San Diego appointed to warrant its own post.

Anna’s husband John was an entrepreneur and farmer. His support of her ministry and medical career is impressive. Together they had twelve children, two who died in infancy, and he would take on childcare responsibilities as Anna traveled to preach or practice medicine. In the early 1890s, the family moved from Northren Indiana to Ida Grove, Iowa, where John owned a farm and Anna continued to minister with the Free Methodist Church.

In an August 21, 1984 article, Anna notes she traveled 50 miles over the open prairie to attend camp meetings in the Sioux Falls DIstrict. She uses “we” which perhaps implies the entire family went along on the trip. She’s mentioned again in an 1895 ministry update for her help in Danbury, Iowa, at a series of revival meetings held in March.

In November 1897 she sends a report from Aurelia, in the northwestern edge of Iowa, where she held a week-long revival service at the invitation of the community. However, not everyone in the community wanted the services, as it was a busy time of the year. But after holding a vote asking how many wanted the holiness experience to continue, the response was overwhelming. Grant notes that in a week six individuals had experienced either the “blessing or the pardon of purity” as men repented from tobacco and women from their vanity. “I find hungry souls everywhere. They are as a sheep without a shepherd, and this doctrine and experience of holiness is as foreign as though it came from heaven lately.” Grant concludes her report hopeful she can organize a Free Methodist class in Aurelia before she left. She ends her report urging other Free Methodists to follow her, as she was the only Free Methodist working in the area.

Grant was mentioned again in 1898 as assisting in a series of tabernacle meetings in her hometown of Ida Grove. The family moved from Ida Grove to Granite, Oklahoma in 1901, joining a large group of Free Methodists who moved to Oklahoma when the territory opened in 1901. An October 1900 letter from C.E. Harroun in The Free Methodist encourages fellow Free Methodists to join the group, moving to Comache, Apache and Kiowa country. The Oklahoma Historical Society has records noting John Grant filed a homestead claim in Comache, Apache and Kiowa ceded lands in 1901. By 1903 the family had settled in Granite, Oklahoma and was operating a hotel.

In March 1903, W.G. Hammer visited the Grant family in Granite and sent an update to The Free Methodist. At that time, Granite had 1500 residents, several large mercantile, four churches, and according to Hammer, the largest public school building in the state. Hammer noted the Grant family’s philosophy was to take evangelistic work with them wherever they moved, and the Free Methodist Oklahoma Conference had already responded to three requests from them to come and hold meetings in Granite. The report explained that Free Methodists were already in the second week of revival services at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, where many people were converting or experiencing sanctification. Hammer indicated Anna Grant was actively encouraged people around Granite to attend, and after the Free Methodists left continued the meetings.

While Grant appears to have remained active as an evangelist in each move the family made, she is not listed in the Iowa or Oklahoma Annual Conference Reports as a licensed evangelist during the years the family resided in the conferences. She’s listed in 1890 and 1891 as an evangelist in Northren Indiana, but doesn’t appear again in conference reports until 1912 in Southren California where she was appointed for a year as the pastor of the San Diego Free Methodist Church.

So, either she did not keep up her license, which I find hard to believe. Once an individual got their evangelist license, they just had to undergo review periodically, and she was active in the denomination everywhere she moved. I suspect people are missing from annual conference reports, which makes me wonder how many other women were preaching in the denomination, but have never been credited as evangelists in conference records.

5 thoughts on “Dr. Anna Grant Oklahoma Pioneer and California Minister

  1. Interesting read. Hopefully you can find out more about early life and education once word gets out that you are researching her.

    1. Me too! Her descendants are also really interested in the info. I plan to reach out to the state archives in Indiana this summer and see what they have for 19th century medical college records. There were so many small colleges that only were open a few years it’s difficult to find records.

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