Rev Andrew Jackson Potter

Rev Andrew Jackson Potter

Chariton County, Missouri, USA
Death 20 Oct 1895 (aged 65)
Tilmon, Caldwell County, Texas, USA
Burial Dale, Caldwell County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 32774887 · View Source
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Andrew Jackson Potter was a son of Joshua and Martha Johnson Potter, from Kentucky. His grandfather was Revolutionary War veteran Thomas Potter (1746 VA - 1820 KY). His parents moved to Missouri, where he was born and orphaned at an early age.

Left to his own resources, he became a jockey with a rough horse racing crowd. Later he drove ox teams from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe, and acted as a scout, suffering attacks from both Indians and Mexican bandits. He also served as an Army nurse at Santa Fe and Fort Leavenworth. In 1851 he spent some time prospecting for gold in California. The following year he returned to San Antonio, where he drove freight wagons. On August 23, 1853, he married Emily C. Guin. In 1856, while hauling lumber from Bastrop County to San Marcos, he attended a camp meeting, was converted, and then set out to be ordained as a Methodist minister. Since his formal schooling was almost nonexistent, it took much study on his part to qualify.

In February 1862, Potter enlisted as a private in the Thirty-sixth Texas Cavalry of the Confederate Army. He took part in the battles of the Red River campaign of 1864 and was made chaplain of Col. Xavier DeBray's Twenty-seventh Texas cavalry. Fellow soldiers described how he would pace up and down in front of the lines exhorting his men to convert as they would be facing death within the hour. Then when the order came to march, he fought side by side with them.

In 1866 he was appointed pastor of the Prairie Lea circuit and continued as a frontier minister and circuit rider until his death, frequently preaching in saloons, as they were the only public buildings on the Texas frontier. Potter traveled alone through wild and uninhabited territory carrying both a rifle and pistols for self defense. These were occasionally propped against the pulpit and served as useful symbols when facing down drunken crowds of hecklers. He earned the title of "fighting parson," because he stayed when other preachers had been scared away. Rev Potter preached with great enthusiasm, and is credited with converting and civilizing some of the most hardened men of the west Texas frontier.

Impressed with his success in this endeavor, the Methodist church published a biography of him while he was still living and it is said that he was one of the best known men in Texas during his lifetime, widely admired for his ready wit and good humor. Later, he established a circuit at Fort Concho in 1880 and preached the first Methodist sermon at the site of the future city of San Angelo, where he and his family are still remembered fondly, their portraits gracing the vestibule of the First Methodist Church there.

As a circuit rider, Potter rode an estimated 2,500 miles annually and spent at least half of his life sleeping out under the stars. He was also a trail-herd driver of some distinction who made his first cattle drive to Kansas in 1861. He was appointed by the sheriff of Kendall County to escort the trail drivers through that county and in 1883, along with his son, Col. Jack Potter, laid out the Potter and Blocker Trail, a variant of the Western Trail between south Texas and the railhead in Dodge City.

In 1894 Rev Potter was sent from San Angelo back south to preach the Lockhart circuit in Caldwell County. He died in the pulpit while delivering a sermon at Tilman Chapel in Caldwell County on October 21, 1895, and was buried at the nearby Bunton Cemetery near the county seat of Lockhart. He lies next to his sister, Mary "Polly" Ginnings, Memorial # 32774675 and her infant daughter Susan Ginnings, Memorial # 32774676.

Rev. Potter was the father of thirteen children, who are listed on his wife's memorial, since she had primary responsibility for raising them and many are buried beside her in a family plot in San Angelo.

Andrew Jackson Potter, The Fighting Parson of the Texan Frontier, Rev. H.A. Graves, Southern Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, Tenn, 1881. Available on CD ROM from Brookhaven Press, WI 54603.

The Trail Drivers of Texas: Interesting Sketches of Early Cowboys, J. Marvin Hunter, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1992.

Andrew Jackson Potter, Handbook of Texas History Online


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  • Maintained by: Jan
  • Originally Created by: Lori Doege
  • Added: 8 Jan 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 32774887
  • Jan
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev Andrew Jackson Potter (3 Apr 1830–20 Oct 1895), Find a Grave Memorial no. 32774887, citing Bunton Cemetery, Dale, Caldwell County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Jan (contributor 47388195) .