Preparation for the trip, I would have to think his thoughts were to be awakened. He had some knowledge of the hardship he was about to encounter by the Texas Mission; organized by Dr. Martin Ruter. The trip from Ohio to San Antonio was about 1,357 (highway) miles. John made arrangement to travel with a group of Reverends wives and other members of the clergy, by a steamboat on the Ohio River to Cincinnati. October 4, 1842. Waiting for several days due to the river being so low, they had to wait for a smaller steamboat. On November 20, 1842 he and a group were headed to Texas by way of New Orleans. Remaining on boat due to yellow fever was raging in that city. The group consisted of 11 people who were citizens of Texas. He stated they had a tedious trip, two days getting over falls and delayed arrival at Grand Ecore having to stop due to such low water making it impossible to continue by steamer. Having to hire a wagon and team to haul baggage, and other belongings, men and women were to walk. John stated this was his first experience in camping out. The weather was pleasant and all enjoyed the terrain of pine woods. The next night was spent at a house, for the first time he saw a house without and upper floor. (Dirt). Stating it looked strange and ghostly, one of the brothers stated this is a good sample of Texas houses. John was shocked. Inquiring what happens when it snows? He was informed it seldom snows. On December, 1842 time to cross the Sabine River by rafts. John went to the front of the boat so he would be the first to step on Texas soil. Driving the wagon and some were walking about ten to twelve miles. Arriving, at a large a plantation house owned by Bro. Brown. Just ten miles west of the Sabine River. Weary of the travel, dirt grime, insect bites and exhaustion they were so pleased to take rest and were taken care of by the good Bro and his wife. Remaining at the plantation for three or four weeks it was decided to hold several meetings, in this time there were several conversions. In December he assigned to the Egypt circuit. (this is the area Colorado valley below Cummings creek and the valleys of the Lavaca and Navidad River) This is where he received a horse. Using his saddle, which he made, saddle bags, bed-roll and bibles to sell he was ready. Nearest point to the circuit was thirty-five miles, which took a day to travel. Attempting to cross the river saw it was useless without a raft, needless to say in the morning work began in building a raft, prepared to launch the raft news came that a companion Mr. Williams drowned attempting to cross the river. John and Bro. Palmer made a coffin. This was the first loss on his adventure. While traveling to designated area it was found that there were very few houses, so sleeping on the ground was their only reprieve. When we rode in areas of people they were most generous to put up for the night. Arriving in Egypt circuit he found that here was an abundant of corn raised and ready to transport to families and communities in west Texas. With sixteen appointments it was four hundred miles to cover the circuit; this was accomplished in four weeks. Most of the traveling at this time was during the night time due to green headed flies, and attempting to travel in day time it was a risk of losing horses. The flies would attack the horses drop roll, run and at time throw the rider, leaving him afoot. Mosquitoes so large and numerous penetrating clothing and gloves at times unbearable. Rattle snakes, rats and strange sounds never heard before. Visiting and preaching to families on the route were so open and welcoming, listening to the words and buying bibles. Witnessed to a colony of colored folks who were happily converted to God and united with the church. His travel and experiences were so vast, from storms come up without warning to freezing sleet and hot scorching summers dreadful but praising God daily and being thankful for life’s lessons. March on he said so many people hungry for the truth and to hear the word and be converted.

A frightful event happened on the return from a camp meeting. Bro. Thrall and John were cold; wet and sleet mix was hampering their return to Egypt. Once they came upon a rapid, swollen river worried about crossing. A colored man came to help them asking if they can coon then they can make it. Helping to place the saddle and saddle bags upon their back they crossed the river. Once they returned to retrieve their horses. John told Bro. Thrall that his horse looked like an alligator no hair on the face or head. Exploring a safer way across they chose a small sloped area. John’s horse (Fox) was to be the first to attempt the cross. Pushing him into the water off the bank Fox crossed in safety. He said that when Bro. Thrall’s horse finally came up out of the water he laughed and said he really looked like an alligator. Safety finally they ate lunch prayed, Bro. Thrall and John proposed that they would never take anybody’s word for the conditions of a river, stream or creek. John said in the forty years ministry he has frequent reports of impassable streams, epidemics and other hindrances, yellow fever, Indians ahead. Praise be to God and for the many blessing he has given is words he spoke often.

This was the first year and there are so many more years and so many more accomplishments to begin. Marriage was one important step in his life. He was married to Talitha Menefee, daughter of William Menefee, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence and resident of Egypt. The marriage took place on February 11, 1845 in Wharton Co. Texas.They had a child who died shortly after birth, she died on August 15, 1846. No record of reason.

Oak Island UMC was founded in the belief that communities must learn to help themselves. Our work is founded on the following five pillars of faith:


  • A duty to reach out to the less fortunate
  • An obligation to lead by example
  • An all-inclusive approach: We help everyone regardless of their religious beliefs
  • Acceptance of the fact that we, too, may someday require assistance in our time of need
  • The path to salvation lies in volunteering


Find out more about our people and the history of Oak Island UMC.

The Foundations of Oak Island UMC