Shifting Narratives on Gender Part Three: The 1907 Free Methodist General Conference

When the resolution to approve a deaconess order came to the floor at the 1907 General Conference, the idea was met with enthusiastic support, passing through committee with thirty-five in favor and only seven opposed before coming to the floor for a conference vote.[i] Very few concerns were raised, but among the topics discussed were governance, mission, and uniforms for the order. Speaking in favor of the order, Free Methodist editor Charles Ebey reminded delegates there were already churches with such orders, and the need for a Free Methodist order was great. Reflecting on his personal experiences with deaconesses, Ebey … Continue reading Shifting Narratives on Gender Part Three: The 1907 Free Methodist General Conference

Ada Hall: One of the First Female Deacons

The 1911 Free Methodist General Conference took steps to finally allow women some form of ordination. Now, women could become ordained deacons at the annual conference level, but with the cavet that “this ordination of women shall not be considered a step towards ordination as an elder.”1 I’ll write about all five women at some point, but Ada Hall is by far my favorite. I feel a kindered spirit in her writing and passion for what she believed important enough to fight for. Prior to being ordained a deacon, Hall had been appointed to circuits in the Minnesota and Northern … Continue reading Ada Hall: One of the First Female Deacons

Blanche and Christopher Stamp: Superstar Free Methodist Evangelists

A few more pieces about the Stamp family have come into place this week. Christopher Stamp was an early convert to Free Methodism. About ten years after the denomination was founded (1860), he heard Free Methodists preach in Seattle. A teenager at the time, he was greatly influenced by two Free Methodists, Rev. Peter Griggs and Hiram Pease, who were preaching in the Northwest United States. According to his 1930 obituary in The Free Methodist, he first converted to Free Methodism, and then a few days later, during the same revival, experienced sanctification. Because Seattle didn’t have an established Free … Continue reading Blanche and Christopher Stamp: Superstar Free Methodist Evangelists

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

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

Who was LeGrand Buell? – The Continuing Story of Clara Wetherald

I apologize for the delay in blogging. I’m trying to finish up my dissertation this semester, so I’m afraid my posts might not be as often as I’d like. I’d also like to thank members of the  Miller family who have been amazing in helping me find information on Clara Wetherald. Who was LeGrand Buell? In the story of Clara Wetherald he was the second husband who died three years into their marriage. He was the man that Clara supposedly left John Wetherald for and caused a scandal in the community. He was the drunkard who Clara married to reform. … Continue reading Who was LeGrand Buell? – The Continuing Story of Clara Wetherald

The Demise of John Wetherald

This dissertation topic has taught me to believe that you can find that “needle in the haystack” or in the case of Clara Wetherald and Ida Gage’s lives “multiple needles in the haystack.” Once again, I have to thank the wonderful people who have helped me find so many of these tidbits that connect the dots. An 1895 New York Times article notes that the Reverend Clara Buell caused quite a sensation when she divorced her husband, John Wetherald, and married Legrand Buell in 1892. Supposedly her main motivation for wanting to marry Legrand was to convert him from alcoholism.  … Continue reading The Demise of John Wetherald

Free Methodism’s Descent form a Vibrant Religious Movement to a Denomination

As the nineteenth century ended the Free Methodist Church began to shift into a period of extended legalism, creating an insular society that little resembled the dynamic, Spirit-filled early history of the denomination. By the 1894 General Conference there was a push back against evangelists and a focus not on sinners but on saints within the church. The massive revivals that spread Free Methodism across the country began to become fewer as the denomination focused on legalistic practices such as simple dress and strict Christian guidelines. Ida Gage’s daughter Edith Gage Tingley illustrates the increasing tension between charismatic faith and … Continue reading Free Methodism’s Descent form a Vibrant Religious Movement to a Denomination

Clara (Miller) Wetherald’s Family Legacy

No one can ever accuse Clara Wetherald of living a boring life. From start to finish, her family narrative is filled with fascinating accounts – some true and some exaggerated. She was born Clara Miller June 20, 1849, in Erie County, Pennsylvania. Her parents, Esther and Harvey Miller, moved to Michigan when she was three. Clara had three other siblings, older brother and sister Sarah Miller and Commodore Perry Miller and a younger brother Frank Miller. Her parents’ marriage was rocky, and both Frank and Clara in later writings call their father “a wicked man.” This was probably due to … Continue reading Clara (Miller) Wetherald’s Family Legacy