Eliza Witherspoon: Early 20th Century Evangelist in Southern Missouri

In the July 8, 1895, issue of The Free Methodist, an Eliza Witherspoon sends a ministry report from Virginia, Missouri noting that she, her mother, and sister had been “advocating the principles of Free Methodism” in that part of the country for the past seventeen years. Eliza tells readers her family is the lone Free Methodist family in the area and had spent the past three weeks holding meetings where “God sent us help and souls were converted to God– more than twenty souls.” Far from being a single report, Eliza Witherspoon begins appearing regularly in The Free Methodist over … Continue reading Eliza Witherspoon: Early 20th Century Evangelist in Southern Missouri

Anna Grant Pastor of San Diego Free Methodist 1912-1913

Dr. Sarah Anne Grant served as an evangelist in Northren Indiana, Iowa and Oklahoma for the Free Methodist Church. While she appears as a licensed evangelist for the Northern Indiana Conference in 1890 and 1891, her ministry in Iowa and Oklahoma appears to have been more informal (or else annual conference minutes aren’t incredibly accurate and didn’t report all licensed evangelists). She turns in regular ministry reports while working in Iowa and in Oklahoma. The Grant family appears to encourage Free Methodist elders to come and hold revivals where Sarah would assist.1 She again appears as a licensed evangelist in … Continue reading Anna Grant Pastor of San Diego Free Methodist 1912-1913

Dr. Anna Grant Oklahoma Pioneer and California Minister

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. Continue reading Dr. Anna Grant Oklahoma Pioneer and California Minister

Sarah Anne Grant MD: 19th Century Pioneer in Medicine and Ministry

According to family stories*, Sarah Anne Grant approached her husband John in the late 1860s or early 1870s with some surprising news: she felt called by God to become a doctor. Sarah already had two children at home, but John was supportive so she left him home to tend their farm and their children while she studied medicine. At this time in American history, a female doctor was a rarity. Women faced numerous professional hurdles to become doctors. Many medical schools wouldn’t accept them as students, leading to the founding of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1850 so … Continue reading Sarah Anne Grant MD: 19th Century Pioneer in Medicine and Ministry

The Other Female Delegates at the 1890 & 1894 Free Methodist General Conferences

A little over a year ago, I published a post “Who was S. Annie Grant?” Since that time, I’ve been trying to track down information on the other women delegates at the 1890 and 1894 Free Methodist General Conferences. I’ve written extensively about the two delegates who spoke on the floor in defense of women’s ministries, but who were the other women? At the 1890 General Conference there was Clara Wetherald from Eastern Michigan and Anna Grant from Northern Indiana. In 1894 there was Ida Gage from Ohio, Mrs. Coleman from Wisconsin, Mrs. Barnhart from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and Clara Sage … Continue reading The Other Female Delegates at the 1890 & 1894 Free Methodist General Conferences

Who was S. Annie Grant?

At the 1890 Free Methodist General Conference the Northern Indiana Conference sent Anna Grant as a delegate. Grant, an evangelist who sent in regular ministry updates to the denominational magazine The Free Methodist, appears to primarily have been preaching in the northeast portion of the state  (Whitley, Steuben, Allen, Noble, De Kalb and Legrange Counties). While other female evangelists I’ve researched have had either spouse who was ordained elders (Clara & John Wetherald) or a well-written annual conference history that outlined their story (Ida Gage), Anna Grant so far doesn’t have that.  She and Clara Wetherald were the only two … Continue reading Who was S. Annie Grant?

Building The Old Time Religion: Giving Progressive Era Women Evangelists Due Credit

Priscilla Pope-Levison’s new book Building The Old Time Religion: Women Evangelists in the Progressive Era is the most significant contribution to the collective memory of women evangelists in the United States since Janette Hassey’s 1986 book No Time for Silence. … Continue reading Building The Old Time Religion: Giving Progressive Era Women Evangelists Due Credit

Expressing Faith Through Fashion: Choice, Legalism or Both?

In many Christian traditions such as the Mennonites,  Quakers, Amish and various holiness movements dress was an outward expression of faith. However, there was and continues to be a fine line between an individual embracing dress as a form of religious expression and being forced to dress a certain way as a form of legalism. Playing with the Free Methodist history of dress in the late nineteenth and early 2oth century, I’ll explore some of these tensions in a multi-part series. Free Methodist women, especially those who chose to preach and teach publicly  faced numerous barriers to acceptance- not least among them their attire, … Continue reading Expressing Faith Through Fashion: Choice, Legalism or Both?