John Perry Outten

The writer of this little family history has taken great pleasure in tabulating all the facts he knows about his ancestors, and even his relatives who are yet among the living, but when he decided to write something about himself, he finds, “that is something else again”. So, being a very modest man, and not seeking notoriety as the family historian, he has put off writing his own record until the very last, and now he prefers to copy his biography from a little book, entitled “Who’s Who in Delaware”.

“Rev. John Perry Outten is a clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was born at Concord, Delaware, July 14, 1869, and was the youngest son of Thomas A. and Charlotte Outten. He was educated in the public schools of Delaware, the Wilmington Conference Academy at Dover, and the Western University of Chicago, from which he was graduated May 15, 1899, and received the degree of PhD.

He joined the Wilmington Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church at its session in Middletown, Delaware, March 18, 1893, and was ordained a Deacon by Bishop Stephen W. Merrill. He was graduated in his Conferece course, and was ordained an Elder by Bishop John P. Newman, March 27, 1898. He has served the following charges as pastor in Delaware, Concord, Woodside, Nassau, Frankford, Camden and Bridgeville. Also Madeley and Cookman in Wilmington. In Maryland he served Nichols, Williamsburg, East New Market, Preston, Secretary, Girdletree, Rock Hall, Kent Island, Deals Island, and Immanuel Church, Crisfield. And in Virginia, he served New Church, Onancock, and Cape Charles.

Rev. J. P. Outten was married to Miss Lida R. Wiley of Seaford, Delaware, April 15, 1891, and they were the parents of four children. Lawrence Randolph, Maynard Carlile, Granville Wiley, and Mary Marguerite.”

The eldest child of J.P. and Lida R. Outten was named Lawrence Randolph. He was born at New Church, Virginia, January 26, 1892, while his father was the pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church in that town.

The second child of J.P. and Lida R. Outten was named Maynard Carlile. He was born at East New Market, Maryland, January 17, 1896, and died February 26 in the same year. This was our first great sorrow. He was buried in the East New Market Cemetery, but was afterward moved to the Odd Fellows Cemetery at Seaford, Delaware.

The third child was Granville Wiley. He was born at Rock Hall, Maryland, November 17, 1898.

The fourth child, and only daughter of J. P. and Lida Outten, was named Mary Marguerite. She was born at Stevensville, on Kent Island, Maryland, June 18, 1909, and she attended the schools where her father served as pastor. While we were at Camden she was married to Edward H. Burke, June 20, 1926, and they are the parents of two children Rebecca Ann was born [illegible] 25, 1931. and Edward Henry Jr. Teddy was born December 12, 1933. They live in Camden, Delaware, where they own their home, and he is selling cars.

The writer of this little family record will say that his life has not been very eventful, probably because I have always been busy. As a boy, I went to school in the winter and worked on the farm in the summer until I was nearly eighteen years old. In 1887 I became a student at the Wilmington Conference Academy, and completed the Classical Course in three years, except a few examinations in Latin and Greek. While in my senior year, I accepted an appointment by the Presiding Elder, and preached the Gospel while I continued my studies.

My parents were always Methodists, but the prevailing influence in the community where we lived was toward a different denomination, so like all my brothers and sisters, I was brought up in the Protestant Episcopal Church. But when I was about fourteen years old I attended a great Methodist revival meeting, and as a result of that meeting I joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, and from that time, I had it in my head and heart, that I must preach the Gospel. But I decided at once not to tell anybody what my intentions were.

Soon however, the Church people began to make use of me in the services, then the pastor of the church strongly urged me to begin preparation for the ministry at once. The Quarterly Conference voted me licence to exhort, and soon after, license to preach. In a short time I was appointed the teacher of the first Bible Class which was made up of men of all ages, and I had about all the church work I could do. It was really my desire to go away to school, but my father and mother were old and afflicted, and could not be left alone. My brothers and sisters were all grown and gone, but at long last, my oldest brother, who was not at that time married, came home to care for father and mother and I went away to school.

My four years at the Wilmington Conference Academy were very profitable to me, and the association all that could be desired. But alas, after sixty years, I am not sure that many of my old associates are yet among the living. I know that many of them were successful in the ministry, and have since passed on to their great reward, but most of them I have never seen since, nor heard from.

After my first year that the academy, I began preaching. My first sermon was preached at the old Salem Church in Farmington, Delaware, on September 2, 1888, from the text “It is finished,” and from that time I preached anywhere and everywhere when I was invited to do so. When I had completed my course at the Academy, I continued my studies for more than two years before I joined the Wilmington Conference in 1893. Then my Conference studies required a great deal of my time, and I did not try to excel in mathematics except in Algebra and Geometry, nor in foreign languages except in Latin, Greek and German, but my favorite studies were History, Philosophy, and Theology. These I continued with many other studies, until I graduated in my Conference Course in 1898, and at the Chicago University in 1899.

The reason why my life has not been more eventful is just because I have always been busy with my work, and I never had time to travel in the far west, nor in foreign countries as I desired to. My Official Board has usually given me a summer vacation, and I have tried to make good use of it. So I have visited all the large cities of the East, and some of them many times. For many years I went to the Methodist Campmeeting at Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Sometimes I went to the Blue Ridge Mountains, or to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Once I visited the old Civil War battle-fields of the South, and once I went to Niagara Falls and to Toronto, Canada. But I have only been beyond the boundries of the United States twice. However, the most exciting experience of all my life occurred on the Pan-American Exposition Grounds at Buffalo, New York, on September 6, 1901. I happened to be near President McKinley, on my way to shake hands with him, when he was assassinated by an Anarchist.

In the early days of my ministry on the charges I served I found that certain Lodges were very popular, and that many of my leading church men were members of the Lodges. So, I thought it would be an advantage to me and a help to my work to associate myself with the lodge men. The first secret order I joined was the Improved Order of Red Men in 1892. Then in 1895 I became the pastor at East New Market, Maryland, where I found that the Masonic Fraternity was very popular, and I wanted to be a Mason anyway, so I joined the Masons. But when I became pastor at Kent Island, Maryland, I found that I was in a farming community, and I joined the Grange, which was an outgrowth of the Patrons of Husbandry. I also joined the Modern Woodmen.

In 1911, I was moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where I served six years. But the leading men of my church there were members of the Improved Order of Odd Fellows, so I joined with them and became an Odd Fellow. Then a new organization came to town that seemed very popular. More than four hundred men from all parts of the City became charter members, and I was one of them. The official name of that distinguished organization was the Order of Owls, and I was elected secretary. My object in associating myself with the men was to interest them in my church work, so I always had a large company of men in my Sunday School class. One one charge it was said that I had the largest class of men in the world as compared with the population of the town. So they said I was a “Man’s Preacher”.

While I always appreciated the association and assistance of Lodge members, I never neglected my church work in order to attend their meetings, and I never took any degree of pleasure in lodge work, except during the year that I served as Secretary of the Order of Owls. But I knew that the best way to influence men was to associate with them at their homes and at their places of business. My acquaintance with the men enabled me to render them some service, for I probably had many marriages, baptisms and funerals that would not have come to me.

I have always accepted whatever work was assigned to me by the Conference, and however difficult, the task was always a pleasure. But while I have always enjoyed the work of the ministry, it was to me exceedingly laborious. In those days the minister did not carry a program into the pulpit that would require three-quarters of an hour to render, and a sermonette of fifteen minutes in length. The principle feature of the service in those days was the sermon. I always wrote my sermons in full during the week, but I never carried a manuscript into the pulpit. I either preached entirely without notes, or with very brief ones, and I was always very conscious of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the delivery of my sermons.

On all the charges I served I have always held revival meetings, and in this way I built up my membership. I have completed and dedicated four churches on the charges I served, and built a parsonage at Claymont and B Streets in Wilmington, I have conducted four campmeetings and preached at many others. I have solemnized hundreds of marriages, and baptized hundreds of children. I have preached more than five thousand sermons, and made tens of thousands of pastoral visits. I also attended the Wilmington Annual Conference for more than fifty consecutive years, and I was present when the name was changed to the Peninsula Conference.

Here at our home April 15, 1941, we celebrated our Golden Wedding with our family and friends. We have enjoyed the work of the ministry together, and endured our sorrows and bereavements. We are justly proud of our children and their families, and we cherish with pleasure the memory of thousands of friends in all parts of the Conference territory. But in those sixty years during which I have been preaching the Gospel message of salvation hundreds of our good friends have passed on to their great reward. And now that I have passed my three score years and ten, I am beginning to anticipate the reunion beyond this veil of tears. Where the smile of the Lord will be the feast of the soul, in that Beautiful Home of the Blest.

The reason why I have written this little modest and humble statement of my family and myself, is just because I have written a record of all the other members of the Outten family of whom I had any information. And the reason why I have tried to write a family history is because my brother William encouraged me to do so in 1916. He had just received a letter from Cousin Annie Henriette Outten, daughter of Dr. James Newton Outten, of Hickman, Kentucky, making inquiry about the Outtens in Delaware, as her father was born in Delaware. My brother requested me to answer her letter, and it was the beginning of a correspondence that continued for about twenty years. He knew more about the Outtens in Delaware at that time than any other member of the family, but I could not have known the Outten families in the West, had it not been for the information I received through correspondence.

My brother died in 1929 at the age of 70. However, the work of searching old records had become such a habit with me that I have continued, until I think I have all the valuable information that the old records contain concerning the Outten family. Then some years later Mrs. Prudence E. Scott, of Mt. Zion, Illinois, obtained my address, and wrote me for information about our family history. At that time I did not know anything about many of our Western Cousins, but she gave me all the information that I have recorded about her branch of the Outten family. She also added a great many important facts to the records I had written and sent her, about the Thomas Outten line, and she had all we both had written very nicely typed. Without her assistance this history of the Outten family could not have been completed. I have never met Mrs. Scott, but judging form her writing, and what I have heard of her, she is a bright and scholarly woman, and her correspondence, which I am glad to say still continues, is always interesting and helpful to me.

While I have only given the names of two correspondence who have assisted me in writing our family history, all with whom I have corresponded have assisted me very greatly. Some of their names are Rene of Ohio, Alta of Colorado, Clara and Cecile of California, Olive of Missouri, David of Kentucky, Lynford and Mary of Delaware, and many others. All these and many other members of the Outten family write letters for our Round Robin, a series of letters which goes to each member, and returns in about three months. Allow me to express the hope that this method of communication, or some other method may continue forever, so that the family will never again become strangers to one-another.

Now, in closing this unfinished sketch of my life, I will say that it has afforded me great pleasure to communicate with members of our family in various States, and to write the sketches that are recorded in our family record. Known as the History and Genealogy of the Outten Family. So with all good wishes to those who have so kindly assisted me in writing this history, and with many regrets that I have not been able to find out the records of some members of the family, I now close my sketch, wishing you all good luck, and long lives of great usefulness. Also wishing you all the good things of this world, and a happy reunion in the “Sweet bye and bye”.

J.P. Outten,

Written by Rev. John Perry Outten converted to Hypertext by Karen Stephens