Bio on Rev Adam Poe by Melissa Stangeland
Several years ago I was contacted by a woman researching her Poe relatives. She had discovered my website by doing a search for Rev. Adam Poe. Her interest was in the article I wrote called “The Preacher’s Note” regarding one statement about Adam Poe and his brother’s work in the grain business before Adam went into the ministry. She wanted a source document to use for a book she was working on regarding Rev. Adam Poe, her great-great-great grandfather. The source document was passed on to her for her research. Her book has been published.
Melissa Stangeland’s book, Adam Poe: Evangelist and Faithful Servant, is an assemblage of images, letters, newspaper articles, and analysis which paint a sharp portrait of the life of Reverend Adam Poe, her triple great grandfather and circuit rider for the Episcopal Methodist Church. Her emphasis is on the man and his works against a vivid background of local and national events from the date of his calling in 1823 till his death in 1868.
The old-time circuit riders were a fascinating bunch. Their ministries were lonely and sometimes dangerous. With saddlebags filled with Bibles, they traveled by horseback through wilderness and frontier towns preaching fire and brimstone in people’s cabins, in fields, on street corners, and later in meeting houses. Circuits were measured in miles and days. Ms Stangeland writes about the general hardships in the life of a circuit rider and the specific difficulties endured by Rev Adam Poe. Although Rev Adam Poe was primarily a pioneer evangelist in the newly formed state of Ohio, Ms Stangeland also covered his travels by steamboat to Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska before they were states. Rev Adam Poe also traveled east, by rail, to attend to church business in Niagara Falls, New York City, and Washington, DC. It is safe to say that few, if any, Episcopal Methodist Church circuit riders have been so completely documented “from cradle to grave”. If the Episcopal Methodist Church had a frequent traveler program, Rev Adam Poe’s miles ridden would have earned lifetime benefits.
I find this book particularly interesting because Rev Adam Poe spent time in Georgetown, PA where he reportedly received his call to serve his church. Georgetown was the base of the far famed Poe steamboat men. This suggests a closer relationship between two branches of the dispersed Poe family than I have been able to find. Were it not for this book, details of Rev Adam Poe’s time in Georgetown would remain unknown to me. From her writing, I also learned that Rev Adam Poe was my 1st cousin 4 times removed. Whether Rev Adam Poe or his son or nephews were transported on the western rivers by steamboats owned by their Georgetown cousins is a continuing mystery. Whether Rev Adam Poe was spiritually influenced by Elizabeth Hephner,, wife of his uncle who was credited with starting the Episcopal Methodist church in Georgetown, is a second mystery to be unraveled.
Author Mellissa Stangeland’s Business Card
This book touches upon issues of continuing relevance – offering a powerful historical lesson for our time – the dangers of racism, intolerance, and the slow pace of social progress. A staunch abolitionist, Rev Adam Poe’s feelings were deeply held. The stirring tales recorded and interpreted by Ms Stangeland may be read for entertainment or enlightenment. From either viewpoint Rev Adam Poe’s life, as depicted in these historical accounts, makes each tale one of absorbing interest. With its twenty-four pages of endnotes, references and sources, and thorough index, Adam Poe: Evangelist and Faithful Servant, will serve as a unique reference book for scholars of the history of the Methodist movement.
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