William Colbert Journal,1792-1804.

Collection Number: 6088

Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
Cornell University Library


William Colbert journal, 1792-1804.
Collection Number:
William. Colbert
1 reel microfilm.
Forms of Material:
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library
The journal records the travels and work of William Colbert as a Methodist circuit rider with lengthy and detailed descriptions of towns and settlements visited, texts delivered in sermons, travel and weather conditions, Colbert's health, opinions regarding the progress of Methodism in New York, conferences and general meetings attended, and reflections on his own spiritual progress as a Methodist minister, size and spiritual condition of classes and congregations visited and baptisms, marriages and funerals attended or served.
Collection material in English


William Colbert was born near Baltimore, Md., on April 20, 1765. He began his career as a Methodist minister with an appointment to the Tioga circuit as an itinerant missionary in 1792. George Peck ( Early Methodism Within the Bounds of the Old Genesee Conference From 1788-1828) wrote that Colbert was remembered by those who heard him preach for his intolerance of noisy children, crowded barns and other unfavorable meeting conditions. He was, however, a dedicated, thoughtful Methodist, holding appointments in Western New York (1792-93, 1797) and taking charge of the entire Albany District as presiding elder for two years (1802-1804). The District embraced territory south from Albany to about Newburgh, and west to the furthest settlements in New York State.


The journal is divided into five parts. Part 1: October 28, 179? (pp. 175-320); Part 2: May 3, 1797 (pp. 178-207, 131, 732-736, 264-267); Part 3: April 29, 1802 (pp. 1238-1373): Part 4: January 1, 1803 (pp. 1374, 1394-1413,* 1422-1425, 1444-1460,* 1460-1508,* 1525-1565, 1566-1567, 1568-1573, 1578-1581); Part 5: January 1, 1804 (pp. 1582-1639, 1649-1707 end of film). This collection is evidently a combination of several different journals pieced together to create chronological order. Pagination is therefore inconsistent. Note: the Garrett Theological Seminary Library at Northwestern University, Evanston Ill., has a collection of William Colbert's papers (1739-1834), and typewritten transcripts of his journals (1790-1822) in ten volumes, collected in 1966.
(*pages missing from the original)

Colbert, William.
Methodist Church--New York (State)

Circuit riders--New York (State)
Methodist preaching--New York (State)
Methodists--New York (State)
Clergy--New York (State)--Biography.

New York (State)--Religious life and customs.


Cite As:
William Colbert journal, #6088. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.


Journal, 1792-1804
The journal records the travels and work of William Colbert as a Methodist circuit rider in northeastern Pennsylvania, south central New York and the Finger Lakes region (Nov. 1792-May 1802), as presiding elder of the Albany District (May 1802-May 1803), and as presiding elder of the Chesapeake District in Maryland (June 1804-Nov. 1804). There are indications that Colbert rode the Wyoming and Northumberland circuits in Pennsylvania, and the Tioga, Seneca, and Finger Lakes circuits in New York, for a total of ten years. The journal provides lengthy and detailed descriptions of the town and settlements visited, texts delivered in sermons, travel conditions, Colbert's health and opinions regarding the progress of Methodism in New York, conversations with other Protestant ministers, conferences and quarterly meetings attended, and reflections on his own spiritual progress as a Methodist minister. As presiding elder of the Albany, Chesapeake, Pennsylvania and Genesee Districts, Colbert visited between one and five classes or congregations in each circuit to exhort and/or preach with the local ministers at regular meetings. He conducted quarterly meetings for the circuits, marriages, baptisms and love feasts, and frequently heard sermons in other Protestant churches in the larger towns. In the journal he notes his health, state of mind, travel and weather conditions, social and economic conditions in towns and settlements, whom he meets, sermons and texts delivered at meetings, conferences and quarterly meetings, sermons heard and who delivered them, the size and spiritual conditions of the classes and congregations visited, and baptism, marriages and funeral attended or served. Items of note include:
Part 1: October 28, 1792 , Tioga and Wyoming Circuits
pp. 178-9, Nov. 14, 1792
Ordained deacon and appointed to Tioga circuit.
pp. 207-208, Jan. 14, 1793
Account of Quaker worship.
pp. 223-224, Feb. 13, 1792
Discussion of antinomianism, arminianism, Calvinism, and deism.
pp. 259-263, June 30-July 11, 1793
Bishop Francis Asbury and Rev. Anning Oven.
p. 297, Oct. 25, 1793
Universalist sermon.
p. 312, Dec. 5, 1793
Appointed to Montgomery circuit.
Part 2: May 3, 1797 , Northumberland, Wyoming, Tioga, Seneca and Pennsylvania Circuits
pp. 179-80, May 17, 1797
Account of conversion experience; Jemimah Wilkenson; Swendenborgianism; New Lights.
pp. 190-193, June 24 - July, 1797
p. 200, August 14, 1797
Visits Indians.
p. 207, Sept. 13, 1797
Summary of travels.
Part 3: April 29, 1802 , Albany District
p. 1238, May 1, 1802
Philadelphia Conference.
pp. 1240-41, May 7, 1802
Appointed to Albany district.
p. 1247, May 20, 1802
Small pox vaccine.
pp. 1248-49, May 26-27, 1802
Bishop Asbury and Colbert preach to a black congregation.
p. 1252, June 2, 1802
Freeborn Garrettson.
pp. 1256-68, June 5, 1802
Account of many conversion experiences.
pp. 1270-71, June 19, 1802
More conversions.
p. 1277, July 3, 1802
More conversions.
pp. 1282-83, July 11, 1802
More conversions.
p. 1311, Aug. 21, 1802
More conversions.
pp. 1324-25, Sept. 9-11, 1802
Bishop Whatcoat; conversions.
pp. 1327-1333, Sept. 15, 1802
General Meeting of Protestant ministers to discuss a council of churches and a "union" of churches.
pp. 1336-37, Sept. 19, 1802
Lorenzo Dow; conversions.
p. 1341, Sept. 27, 1802
Account of Indian village.
p. 1349, Oct. 12, 1802
Conversion of a black woman.
Part 4: January 1, 1802 , Albany, Pennsylvania and Genesee Districts
p. 1400, Jan. 12, 1803
Quarterly meeting conference; conversions.
pp. 1444-45, March 27 - April 1, 1803
Baltimore Conference; Bishop Whatcoat.
p. 1449, April 10, 1803
Preaches to black congregation.
pp. 1460-62, April 30, 1803
Unspecified meeting of Methodist ministers.
pp. 1464-65, May 1-5, 1803
Duck Creek conference; conversions; disciplinary hearings.
Part 5: January 1, 1804 , Chesapeake, Pennsylvania and Genesee Districts
pp. 1616-17, March 1, 1804
Visits a black family.
pp. 1634-35, April 15, 1804
Visits a man convicted of murder.
p. 1649-50, May 28-June 2, 1804
Soudersburg Conference; appointed to Chesapeake District; Bishop Asbury.