I am finally home from my trip to Salt Lake City’s Family History Library. One of the documents I found at the FHL was this 1841 marriage certificate for John Hicks and Letitia Frad Banbury.
John and Letitia, my third great-grandfather and third great-grandmother respectively, were both born in Cornwall, England. They arrived in the United States in the 1830s. According to Baughman and Bartlett’s1911 History of Morrow County Ohio:
John Hicks … immigrated to the United States when a young man, and soon after coming to Ohio found employment in Gambier on the [Kenyon] College farm, with which he was afterwards connected for many years, serving long and well as its superintendent. While at the College he married Letitia Banbury, who was born in Cornish England, in 1812, a daughter of Thomas Banbury, their union being solemnized in 1840.
That date was off by a year, as the original marriage certificate shows. Another detail in this document that I found significant was the religion of the minister who performed their marriage ceremony. He was a “Minister of the Gospel of the M.E. Church,” with “M.E.” being shorthand for Methodist Episcopal.
In the late 1970s, John and Letitia’s granddaughter, Mary Edna (Throckmorton) Patrick — my great-grandmother — recorded an autobiography at a family gathering. In that recording, she proudly recounted a long-standing family legend claiming that one of our (unnamed) ancestors was personally converted to Methodism in Ireland by Methodist Church founder John Wesley. Before I started doing genealogy, I just assumed that the ancestor in question was a Throckmorton. Knowing more about my Throckmorton line now (more about that in a future post), it is clear to me that those ancestors were living in North America for more than a century before the founding of the Methodist Church, making the Ireland conversion story impossible for any of them. Methodism may have originated with either (or both) the Hicks or Banbury lines, however.
I do not know yet whether or not an Irish conversion may have been possible for either of these lines; I have only traced the Hicks and Banburys back to Cornwall in the late 1700s, around the time of John Wesley’s death. Of course, the “personal conversion by John Wesley” story may be an exaggeration or even pure fiction. Time and research will tell.