Tobias Gibson Redbone Methodist Church and Settlement

Early Mississippi Territory History and People

History of the Scots-Irish Settlement in Misissippi

Mullins family history and the Scots-Irish in Mississippi


Tobias Gibson

On his trip he stayed at wayside inns “kept by the Indians and half-bloods” when he could find one, and when he could not, he stopped about dark near water, provided for his horse by feeding him from his saddle blanket the corn he carried.  He made a fire with steel, flint and a punk, and ate his frugal meal.  After his devotions, he used his saddle bag for a pillow and slept, aware of the danger.  Once he reached Strother’s, he met Francis Asbury, the bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church.   Asbury was afflicted with rheumatism and had to be carried to and from meetings.  Mr. Gibson listened to preaching by William McKendree, Learner Blackman, Lewis Garrett, John Page and others at the Conference.  He reported 85 white and two colored members of the Natchez Circuit, a decrease of 13 for the year.  He made his plea for help in traveling his territory, and was assigned Moses Floyd, of Georgia. The Natchez territory was reassigned, placing it in the Cumberland District with John Page aspresiding elder.

The Cumberland District included:

Nashville- Thomas Wilkerson and Levin Edney
Red River- Jesse Walker
Barren- James Gwinn and Jacob Young
Natchez- Moses Floyd and Tobias Gibson

South Carolina

Tobias Gibson ( 1771-1804) was the founder of Methodism in Mississippi, to which he was appointed in 1800. He was born in Liberty (now Florence) County, South Carolina, and admitted to the conference in 1792. He served circuits in the area, including Holston and North Carolina, until he went to Mississippi. He died at Natchez on April 5, 1804. (See Minutes, 1805.) 121  Tobias was appointed to the Little Pee Dee and Anson Circuit in South Carolina early in 1799. In January, 1800, he was appointed to Natchez, and sometime during the year he made a famous and perilous canoe voyage down the Mississippi and became the founder of Methodism in Mississippi. Jones ( Methodism in Mississippi, I, 24 ff.) argues that Gibson reached Natchez late in March of 1799, which was nine months before he was officially appointed. If he gave notice of Asbury’s presence in Buncombe County, North Carolina, and it was effective as late as November 1800 it would seem that he must have lingered in the Blue Ridge area for a period before departing for his appointment in Natchez.


Tobias went to Lexington in Kentucky, and Jacob Lurton went to the Cumberland Circuit in Tennessee. (See Minutes, 1794.)

[2] During the early 1800s Tobias Gibson, an itinerant preacher sent from South Carolina, brought Methodism into the Natchez area of Mississippi. His ministry covered several hundred miles ( Miller, 1966). Due to the lack of trained Methodist ministers and the settlement patterns of colonial America, ministers were responsible for covering large geographic areas. One outcome of this situation was that select individuals residing in the different regions where ministers made their stops were selected to be “class leaders.” According to the class leader booklet of the United Methodist Church, “As a present-day class leader you will help a class of fifteen to twenty members shape their daily lives. . . .” ( Guidelines, 1992 :5).

John Garvin had been appointed to Savannah and St. Mary’s. At this conference Tobias was appointed to Natchez in Mississippi from Charleston in the South Carolina Conference to the Mississippi District of the Western Conference. Since Tobias Gibson had been sent to Mississippi in 1799, eight circuits had been formed, and there were 639 white and 150 colored members there.

The Journal and Letters of FRANCIS ASBURY

[3] Thursday, 20. I directed my course, in company with my faithful fellowlabourer, Tobias Gibson, up the Catawba, settled mostly by the Dutch. A barren spot for religion. Having ridden in pain twenty-four miles we came, weary and hungry, to 0–‘s tavern; and were glad to take what came to hand. Four miles forward we came to Howes Ford, upon Catawba River, where we could neither get a canoe nor guide. We entered the water in an improper place, and were soon among the rocks and in the whirlpools: my head swam, and my horse was affrighted: the water was to my knees, and it was with difficulty we retreated to the same shore. We then called to a man on the other side, who came and piloted us across for which I paid him well. My horse being afraid to take the water a second time, brother Gibson crossed, and sent me his; and our guide took mine across. We went on, but our troubles were not at an end: night came on, and it was very dark. It rained heavily, with powerful lightning and thunder. We could not find the path that turned out to Connen’s. In this situation we continued until midnight or past; at last we found a path which we followed till we came to dear old father Harper’s plantation; we made for the house, and called; he answered, but wondered who it could be; he inquired whence we came; I told him we would tell that when we came in, for it was raining so powerfully we had not much time to talk: when I came dripping into the house, he cried, “God bless your soul, is it brother Asbury? wife, get up.” Having had my feet and legs wet for six or seven hours, causes me to feet very stiff. 76  Asbury always desired to go to Mississippi since Tobias Gibson established Methodism there in 1800, but was never permitted by the conference to do so.

The Catawba River and the Wateree River are essentially one river that begins in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina and flows through the Charlotte metropolitan area into Lake Wateree in South Carolina. The name of the river changes to the Wateree River in Lake Wateree and eventually joins with the Congaree River in Lake Marion. 

Further Reading on the history of Catawba River History, and the Redbones of South Carolina,  article coming soon!


Methodism in Early Mississippi Territory;


Religious groups offer their members social support, opportunities for leadership development, and numerous other nonspiritual benefits. While positive outcomes of church participation are worthy of attention, significant attention has not been placed on potentially negative aspects of church life. This is especially the case in the literature on the Black Church. This article examines the creation and maintenance of power structures (formalized power) and conflict in a Black United Methodist church. Themes derived from qualitative data reveal a number of paradoxes related to power, such as the observation that not all people in positions of power welcome the trappings of power. Also, results indicate that power structures are the result of a nexus between micro and macro factors which operate at both local and nonlocal levels. You can read more details about the Redbone Settlement established by Tobias Gibson, a progenitor of the People Known as Redbones near Vicksburg, Ms. here!


Redbone Church

Vicksburg Mississippi

Redbone Methodist Church post card

Bethel Redbone Methodist Church
Warren Co., Miss. Built 1854
Used by the Federals at one time
during the Civil War.

Located near Redbone Rd. along the Mississippi River about three miles north of Vicksburg

Welcome Center.

Bridge at Vicksburg Redbone

Historical Monument

Redbone Methodist Church Vicksburg plaque

Redbone Church in background


Redbone United Methodist Church Cemetery

redbone plaque vicksburg

“A Revolutionary Soldier David Greenleaf can be found buried here”

“This is the original cemetery of the Redbone Church and the oldest grave carries date of 1815”

Redbone Graveyard Vicksburg Ms 2003

Unfortunately I never noticed any familiar Redbone names in the cemetery. Most headstones are broken and lying at the edge of trees and fences. There was extensive damage to several large Oak Trees throughout the cemetery while and impending hurricane made for a short and hasty visit. A large limb from a beautiful Old Oak that lies on the ground from obvious recent past storm damage can be viewed in the left corner of photo.

Works Cited:

    The Evolution of a Way of Life, Warren County and Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1770-1860


New York Oxford





John F. Toth Jr.

West Virginia Wesleyan College

Review of Religious Research, Vol. 40, No. 3 (March, 1999)

  1. The Journal and Letters of FRANCIS ASBURY

In Three Volumes


The Journal 1794 to 1816


Published Jointly By EPWORTH PRESS ABINGDON PRESS London Nashville