Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Brother Markham . . of mild and engaging disposition and much practical good sense.

The year 1854 saw the passage of the Kansas – Nebraska Act by the US Congress, and a vast swath of new land was open for settlement.  The Methodist Episcopal Church was immediately aware that the settlers in the new territory would be in need of the church.  At a meeting in Baltimore Maryland, church leaders determined to “send one who should make a tour of exploration, ascertain its condition . . return and report in time to send out a sufficient body of preachers . . “  The Church chose Rev William H Goode for the job.  He set out in July 1854, and nine years later, he included an account of his expedition in a book - Outposts of Zion.

Rev Goode’s book is a delightfully readable account of his many years of service in the Methodist Episcopal Church.  His trip to the Kansas – Nebraska Territory in the summer of 1854, is only a piece of his story.  But, the reading of these chapters (Part II, Chapter 1-3) was instructive.  Along with the opening up of land for settlement, came the divisive issue of slavery, and during his journey, Goode became a witness to growing tension in Kansas.  In his position as a church leader, he commented on the “stands” of the various Indian Missions in the area around Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.  Besides the several Methodist missions in the area, there were the Baptists and Quakers.  Being an anti-slavery man – he found himself more hospitably received by the Quakers, than by his own church’s Shawnee Mission.

But, the story here is about Rev Thomas Bernard Markham, who is introduced to us by Rev Goode.  What great good fortune to come across a first-hand account of our ancestors.  By 1854, Rev Markham had been serving almost thirty years as a teacher, missionary, and circuit rider among the white and Indian settlers on the Kansas – Missouri border.  Rev Goode fell seriously ill during his travels in Kansas, and he was taken in by Rev Markham and his family. 

In the words of Rev William H Good:

[mid July 1854]  . . . Still Feeble, suffering, and apprehensive of results, I urged on my course, and about three in the afternoon reached the house of Rev. Thomas B. Markham, then residing upon the bank of the Missouri, nearly opposite to where the town of Kickapoo, in Kansas, now stands. Here I found a brother in Christ and a kind Christian family, who, though then afflicted themselves, received me cordially, sympathized in my condition, and ministered to my necessities.

Brother Markham was a grave yet cheerful Christian man and minister, of mild and engaging disposition and much practical good sense. He had been a local preacher, steadfast in the ranks of the Methodist Episcopal Church up to the time of the reorganization of Missouri Conference in 1848, when, like many others, stirred by the necessities of the work and the scarcity of laborers, he joined the traveling connection, though already past the meridian of life. He had given a son also to the ministry, said to have been pious and promising, who, after a brief service in itinerancy, during which he encountered sharp persecutions, fell nobly at his post in the field of battle. Brother M. was well versed in the history of affairs in Missouri and upon the border, had spent some years in the Indian missions, and was able to give me much interesting and valuable information. Before leaving I engaged him to take charge of the work in the settlements of Kansas contiguous to Fort Leavenworth, till the ensuing Conference . . .

By the 22d [July] I began to feel as though I should summon up my little strength and again address myself to the journey. Hearing of a meeting of some days' continuance to be held, on my way, in a neighborhood on the Missouri side, where, it was said, nearly all the residents had "taken claims" in Kansas, and intended moving over, and, being told that I could see more Kansas people there than at any point in the Territory, I determined to attend. Brother M. accompanied me to the place, where I found a settlement of substantial Indiana farmers, and was made welcome. I participated in the Sabbath services, preaching from John iv, 35, and administering the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. We had an interesting meeting, and I saw no demonstration of hostility . .

At this place I formed some acquaintance that proved of benefit to me in my after labors in the Territory . .  Near one year afterward, just about the time of the breaking out of violence in Platte county, good brother Markham was called home to his reward without witnessing the worst of the painful struggle which ensued. I was called to preach his funeral; consented, and fixed a day; but the scenes of outrage meantime had opened; the Platte county interdict upon our preachers had been passed; and the family never made the appointment.

Rev Thomas Bernard Markham died 1 April 1855, near Weston in Platte county Missouri.  The 1860 census shows his widow and younger children living across the river in Shawnee county Kansas.  His obituary proclaims, “He was a good man, a good preacher, and an unwavering friend of the Methodist Episcopal Church.”

For more details on Thomas Bernard Markham, visit his page at Family Stories, pamgarrett.com.

Moving back in time:  Thomas Bernard Markham, 1800 > John Markham, abt 1745 > John Markham of Chesterfield, abt 1700.
Thomas Bernard Markham is my first cousin, six generations removed.

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