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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Who Was Rev. A.S.J. Haygood?

Few details have emerged so far concerning this early circuit riding preacher of Methodism.   From various sources a brief summary of his life and work can be known.
Early Methodist minister Albert Sidney Johnson Haygood born April 13, 1862 in Alabama into the Methodist home of John William Haygood and died in 1926 in Texas. His wife was Elizabeth and he was father to, at least, two children.  He married Elizabeth Hilseweck (b. Aug. 1870) in about 1896 based on his response to the census taker in 1900 (he had been married for 4 years) and father two daughters, Aline (b 1898, OK) and Alberta (b.1905).  Albert, Elizabeth, Aline and mother-in-law Esther Hilseweck nee Keiry or Kerry (b. Nov. 1834 in Ireland) are listed on the 1900 census in Township 19, Creek Nation, Indian Territory (Tulsa). 
A M.E., South minister, by his 1897 appointment he had been in the conference for three years serving at Purcell, Atoka, and Calvin.  In Nov. 1896 he was assigned to Calvin and Atwood.  He, along with his wife, often taught school (then by subscription) and is thought to have taught such a school in the log cabin church at Atwood in his tenure there 1896-1897. He frequently forded the South Canadian River that blocked easy access from the south to points north (such as the location of Holdenville).
His work as a circuit riding preacher meant that he often had to ford the South Canadian River and Wewoka Creek during flood.  In Turner's history of the Methodist work in Holdenville it is recounted how he carried in his saddlebags an extra shirt and his important books (Bible. Methodist Discipline, Hymnal, etc.).
In the spring of 1897 he organized a church three miles south of Holdenville (then Fentress) and by the November annual conference he was formally assigned and moved there.  In 1898 he was once again teaching in a  subscription school in the Holdenville church.
It was apparently his custom, and possibly all of Methodism to use anchor churches and create circuits of newer churches. Thus in the spring of 1898 he organized work  at Wetumka and Wewoka.  There was prior to this year a work listed in Wewoka in the Indian Mission Conference. Due to language barriers, cultural differences and prejudices there was little interaction between the indigenous and newcomer populations.  This led to a duplication and, if the African American components of the various areas is also considered, a three way split of resources that would ultimately prove to be draining and counter productive to the purpose of the work of Methodism in the areas under discussion.

In the March 23, 1898 edition of the newspaper Our Brother in Red (South McAlester, I.T.) there is  a story about Haygood. "Rev. A.S.J. Haygood reports the advent of a fine daughter at the parsonage in Holdenville, Of course, he "just had to return" on the next train.... This is a case of "pardonable haste."  We extend congratulations. It is not clear were he was that necessitated a speedy return to be with his family but it does bring a touching aspect of humanity to the life of a circuit rider and early Methodist minister.

Again from Turner's work comes a description of his early work. His usual procedure for conducting a service was to line out a hymn (such as "I Love Thy Kingdom Lord"), pray, and then preach.  In his saddle bags he carried a clean shirt, his Bible, a small edition hymn book, a Discipline, and a copy of the The Methodist armor : or, A popular exposition of the doctrines, peculiar usages, and ecclesiastical machinery of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. (Hilary T. Hudson, 1882) (Turner, A History of Methodism in Holdenville, Oklahoma, 1957, pg. 14).
It is believed he may have served in the Tulsa area for two years and then went to New Mexico, probably about or before 1907.  He is found listed in several obituaries of funerals conducted in Texas during and after WW 1. He is buried in the San Marcos Cemetery, Hays Co., Texas.

The answer to the basic question of who was the Rev. A.S.J. Haygood is that he was an early Methodist Episcopal Church, South circuit riding preacher who lived and worked in early day Indian Territory and beyond.
Modern view of the South Canadian River Rev. Haygood would have had to cross on his circuit.

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