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Freeborn Garrettson’s Saddlebags

Want to reenact as a Methodist minister? How about Freeborn Garrettson (1752-1827)? If you would like to reenact as a man who is American born, and who has been, “imprisoned, beaten, frequently stoned”, “shot at”, “severely” beaten, and “left for dead on the road”, this is your man. BTW: all of these things were done to him, not because he was Methodist, but because he freed his slaves (anti-slavery) and he was anti-war and would not fight in the war against England. He is considered the 2nd most important early Methodist preacher, behind Asbury. Freeborn was 23 when he was saved. “he immediately became an itinerant Methodist preacher.” There has to be a story behind his first name.

Saddlebags were important for early Methodist circuit riders who rode from town to town to spread the Word of Jesus. Circuit riders traveled continuously, carrying supplies of clothing, food, books and paper in their saddlebags. They preached morning and evening, resting only a few days per month.

Travel was extremely difficult, crossing mountains and rivers, wading swamps and facing wild animals. Of the first 700 American Methodist preachers, half died before the age of 30.

The saddlebags pictured here were owned by Rev. Freeborn Garrettson, the “Father of Methodism in New York State.” Rev. Garrettson was a prominent early circuit rider who traveled extensively in New York and beyond before making Rhinebeck, New York his home base for his travels in the last 35 years of his life.

These historic leather saddlebags are kept in the Christman Archives which are located at the New York Annual Conference Center, at 20 Soundview Avenue in White Plains, New York. Learn more on their web site at the link below:

the archives


Source: “The Heritage of American Methodism”, by Kenneth Cain Kinghorn, p39.
Image Source:  click here