Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fearless Females, March 10, 2011: Sarah Almira and Methodist Church

Thank you to Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist , for this always interesting and evocative month long series about the Fearless Females of our past.  The instructions for this day are as follows:

March 10 — What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?


Last year I wrote about My Religious Melting Pot, so this year I am going to tell you what I know about my 2nd great grandmother, Sarah Almira Duty Brown, or Grandma Brown as she was known.

Sarah was born on the edge of the Indian Reserve lands in western Tennessee on January 4, 1834. By 1838, just about the time of the major relocation of the Indians from Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Alabama,  four-year-old Sarah and her younger sister Mary were in Greene County, Missouri where the family homesteaded. Three more children were born to her mother before her death in about 1844 when Sarah was only 10 years old. By 1854, Sarah had married young Jonathan Perry Brown and had two young daughters when they head west on the Oregon Trail.

Her father, Henry T. Duty could read and write and I have a number of letters that he wrote in his later life. However, Sarah could not read or write when they headed west. The stopped in The Dalles, which at that time had a fairly large Methodist mission for teaching the Indians -- and of course, bringing their Word of God to the heathens. Sarah lived in the vicinity of The Dalles for about seven years, before heading to the Mitchell area in eastern Oregon..

Now what all of this has to do with  religion in her life; A few years ago I was talking with another 2nd great granddaughter of Sarah's (who had stayed in eastern Oregon. I mentioned that I had a book that was given to Grandma Sarah Brown by one of her daughters. The book, 1776-1876, A Century of Gospel Work, A History of the Growth of Evangelical Religion in the  United States , appeared to never been read and I wondered if Sarah could read.  My cousin told me that Sarah could indeed read as she had taught herself to read from the Bible and that she was very involved in the Methodist church.  Also her husband Jonathan Perry Brown was a very devout Christian.

Now this is the same 2nd great grandmother who is purported to have taught my grandmother, who passed it down to my mother and aunts, the Indian shuffle and chant.  I sometimes ponder these stories and find  my religious melting pot has some interesting beginnings.

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