Walker, Jesse

Walker, Jesse a noted pioneer of the Methodist Episcopal Church, whose name was identified for years with the westward progress of Methodism, was a native of North Carolina. The date of his birth is not ascertained, and there is no record of his early life. He was admitted as a traveling preacher in the Western Conference in 1802, traveled circuits in Tennessee and Kentucky for about four years, and in 1806 was appointed to pioneer the Church through Illinois. His appointment was a mission to the whole territory. The country between Kentucky and the interior of Illinois was then a wilderness, and difficult to travel. M'Kendree, afterwards bishop, but then presiding elder of the Cumberland District, set out with his pioneer itinerant to assist him on the way. They journeyed on horseback, sleeping in the woods on their saddle-blankets, and cooking their meals under the trees. "It was a time," says bishop Morris, who knew both of them, "of much rain; the channels were full to overflowing, and no less than seven times their horses swam the rapid streams with their riders and baggage; but the travelers, by carrying their saddle-bags on their shoulders, kept their Bibles and part of their clothes above the water. This was truly a perilous business. In due time they reached their destination safely. M'Kendree remained a few weeks, visited the principal neighborhoods, aided in forming a plan of appointments for the mission, and the new settlers received them with much, favor." Walker, though left alone in the territory, was not discouraged, and, as the result of his first year's experiment in Illinois, two hundred and eighteen Church members were reported in the printed Minutes. His next field of labor was Missouri, and he continued to operate thenceforward alternately in the two territories until 1812, when, as presiding elder, he took charge of all the Methodist interests of both. The old Western Conference having been divided, in 1812, into the Ohio and Tennessee conferences, the Illinois and Missouri work pertained to the latter. He had charge of districts in the two territories until 1819, when he was appointed conference missionary, that he might range about and form new fields of labor among the destitute "a work to which he was peculiarly adapted, both by nature and grace, and in which he continued to be employed for many years." In 1820 this veteran pioneer tformed the purpose of planting Methodism in St. Louis, where previously Methodist preachers "had found no rest for the soles of their feet, the early inhabitants from Spain and France being utterly opposed to our Protestant principles, and especially to Methodism." Some idea of his success in this bold undertaking may be obtained from the fact that, as the result of the first year's experiment, he reported to the conference a chapel erected and paid for, a flourishing school, and seventy Church members in St. Louis. The next year (Oct. 24, 1822), the Missouri Conference held its session in that city, when "an excellent and venerated brother, William Beauchamp, was appointed" his successor. Walker was continued conference missionary, and in 1823 began to turn hls special attention to thei Indian tribes up the Mississippi. In this self-denying work he continued, "breaking up the fallow ground and estallishing new missions, until 1834, when his health had become so infirm that he was obliged to take a superaninuated relation." He retired to his farm in Cook Conunlty, III., where he died in' great peace, Oct. 5, 1835. See Minutes of Annual Conferences, 2, 487; Sprague, A nnals of the Amer. Pulpit, 7:380; Stevens, Hist. of the M. E. Church, 4:354. (J. L. S.)

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