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Title: Williamsport, IN. Warren Review- Thursday, April 6, 1899 Edition
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John Lewis Smith was born in Brunswick County, Virginia, May 24, 1811. Bowlin Smith, his father, was the son of Aaron and Edith Perry Smith; his mother, Lovewell, was the daughter of William and Mary Bachelor Owen. William Owen and Mary Bachelor, both from Wales, settled, soon after marriage, near Portsmouth, Va., and became identified with Methodism at an early day. Their conversion was thus brought about. Robert Williams, a Methodist missionary, visited Norfolk in 1772, collected a congregation by his attractive singing, and preached to them from the courthouse steps. William Owen, who chanced to be present, used his authority as one of the associate justices of the county to protect the missionary from interruption by a threatening mob. The evangelical spirit of the minister's discourse deeply impressed Mr. Owen, and led, through a series of interesting events, to the conversion of himself and wife and several of their neighbors. A few weeks later, on the return of the missionary, these converts were organized into a class, which, as Dr. Smith has always contended, was the first Methodist class organized in Virginia. Mr. Owen promptly manumitted his fourscore slaves, procured lands for them in Brunswick County, and after some years in order to protect their interest, he settled near them with his own family. The county of Brunswick early became, and was for many years, one of the chief rallying points of Virginia Methodism. Several Annual Conferences were held in Brunswick County by Bishop Asbury. The bishop makes the following note in his journal, following a reference to the conference held at Salem Chapel in November 1795 "Wednesday, December 2nd, I preached at the house of my old friend, W. Owen, whom I first knew at Portsmouth. We had a small house and a good meeting." Lovewell Owen, then about twelve years of age, was converted at the meeting, the bishop thus mentions, and by him was received into the church. William and Mary Owen, quitting their Virginia home, settled in Greene County, Ohio, in 1811, where they became charter members of a class at Union. Lovewell Owen and Bowlin Smith, who were married in 1800, remained in Virginia till November 1826, when they also moved to Ohio, and settled near her father's family in the land of the free. When the Smith family arrived in Ohio, John Lewis, their oldest son, and the fifth of ten children, was a rugged lad in his sixteenth year. The ensuing winter at Union at a meeting conducted by William H. Raper and George W. Maley, he was deeply convinced of sin and, the next spring, on the 1st day of April 1827, as he was listening to the singing of the familiar words, "Come, ye sinners, poor and needy," he was, as he has himself expressed it "powerfully converted to God." He was now fully convinced of a divine call to preach the gospel. Along with this conviction came the suggestion of many discouragements. Aside from a sense of unfitness generally, he was greatly troubled by a conscious lack of education. He must have intellectual furnishment; but where were his education opportunities? The family was located in the woods of a new country, and, his father being an invalid, the burden of farm-making devolved chiefly on him, the oldest son. Every day must be a day of toil; but the evenings were his own, and these, he resolved, should be devoted to reading and study. One of the best of mothers, he gratefully testifies, gave him unfailing sympathy and became, in fact, his teacher. He represents her, in published reminiscences, as a woman of extensive reading. She was familiar with the works of Wesley and Fletcher, and a diligent Bible student. She was, withal, by virtue of her training, antecedents, and those traditions of her famiy, a thorough Methodest. He had been under her tuition nine years, when, in accordance with her advice, yet not without many misgivings, he determined to begin his lifework as soon as the way opened. (*Article goes on telling of his preaching) His last appointment, 1886, was Valparaiso District. He remained in charge of the district five years, when, at South Bend, October 6, 1891, fifty-one years from the date of his admission on trial, in a brief, manly address that touched all hearts, he requested the Conference to grant him a superannuate relation. "Before he had time to resume his seat, the brethren rushed from every part of the house, and with tearful eyes and kindly expressions of sympathy, congratulated him on the happy termination of his ministry, covering more years than most of them had lived." At the close of the Conference session, 1891, he retired to his cottage home in Valparaiso, where at _ p.m., Saturday, March 11, 1899, in the eighty-eighth year of his age, the fifty-ninth of his ministry, he was transferred from the militant ranks to the Church triumphant; from earthly toil to his home in heaven.

Date: 4/6/1899
Origin: Warren Review Extracted from Microfilm
Author: Sharon Roberts
Record ID: 00003638
Type: Obituary
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 7/29/2014
Entered By: Chris Brown

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