Rev. Purnell T. Outten

The subject of this narrative was the son of Purnell Outten, grandson of John Outten Sr., and great grandson of John Outten, the Pioneer. He was born in Accomac Co., Virginia, January 2, 1761, and he spent his entire life in that section of the Eastern Shore. He was named for his father, and he was the second Outten that was named Purnell. His middle name was probably Taylor, and he was perhaps the son of Purnell Outten and Elizabeth Taylor, his father’s second wife.

Purnell T. had three brothers: John Houston, Shadrack W., and Joseph. And he had seven sisters: Sarah, Tabitha, Mary, Betty, Marvilna, Loved, and Delitlta. All of whom were born in Accomac County, Virginia. Purnell T. Became a Baptist preacher, and he was the first Outten, so far as the writer knows, that ever preached the Gospel. And he has only had two successors that have borne the same name. One was the Rev. William Outten of Kentucky, and the other the writer of this memoir, both of whom were ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

The Baptist Church of that day in Accomac County was the Primative, called also the Old School and Hard Shell Baptist. It was Calvinistic in its doctrines, believing in total depravity, election, predestination, and the final perseverance of the saints. They believed in close communion, washing the saints’ feet, and annionting the sick with oil. That only adults who were believers should be baptised, and that the only method of baptism was by immersion, or plunging the body in water. It was Roger Williams, a Minister of the Church of England, who founded the first Baptist Church in America in Providence, R. I., in 1644, with just twelve members, but in less than a century there were Baptist churches in every one of the thirteen colonies.

In some of the colonies, especially those of New England, New York, and Georgia, the Baptists were awfully persecuted. They were whipped, fined, and imprisoned, as John Bunyan was in England, but so far as known this condition never obtained in Accomac County. They were usually held in high esteem, but their doctrines were not generally accepted. When the writer was a pastor in Accomac Co., he was told of a cynic who wanted to taunt the Elder about the doctrine of Predestination, and he invited the Elder to eat a watermelon with him. So when he opened the watermelon he said, “Elder, do you think that you and I were foreordained to eat this melon together?” “Yes,” said the Elder “this was all a part of the Divine plan from the time we were born, for what is to be will be.” Then the cynic threw the watermelon into the pig sty, and said, “Now, Elder, how about your doctrine of predestination?”

The writer was the pastor of several Methodist churches in Accomac Co., when he was a young preacher, more than fifty years ago, and he personally knew the pastor of the Old Sidre Baptist churches, for we lived in the same town. His name was Elder Polson, and his people did not call him Rev., nor Dr., nor Parson, for even Brother, like our Methodist people address their pastor, they always called him Elder. He had a large circuit, extending perhaps a hundred miles, and he was the only Hard Shell Baptist preacher in all that region. There was one church in Sussex Co. in Maryland and Virginia. All his churches were then old and delapidated, and they have probably turned to dust and ashes long ago, like most of their consecrated worshippers. But they were doubtless the very same buildings in which Elder Outten had preached the Gospel a hundred years before.

The only business transaction in which Purnell T. ever engaged took place on December 29, 1819, when he and Mary Savage, his sister, sold to Jesse Wilson a tract of land called Ovendoque in Great Annamessex Hundred for $400.00. This was the property when they had inherited from their father when his will was probated on June 25, 1798. At that time Purnell T. was not married, for no wife signed the deed, and his sister Mary was probably a widow, as her husband did not sign the deed.

Like many other Outtens, Purnell T. did not marry until late in life. Perhaps it was because his work as a pastor was so extensive that he did not consider it wise to establish a home. We do not know the date of his marriage, but his youngest son, Philip Doddridge Outten was born December 31. 1831, and at that time Purnell only lacked one day of being 71 years old. There were five sons, and it seems likely that Purnell T. was about sixty years old when he was married.

Well, he married a young woman whose name was Elizabeth Nook. She belonged to an English family who were among the early settlers of Virginia. They lived at Mappville in Accomac Co., and he probably continued preaching as long as he lived. Their eldest son was named Purnell, and he was the third Purnell in lineal descent from John Outten Sr. The writer has not been able to trace the genealogy of the next two sons. Patric Henry Outten is mentioned in the Will, but no further trace of him can be found, and Michael Soritos probably died, as he is not mentioned in the Will. The other two children were Andrew Fuller and Philip Doddridge. The writer will make some comments about the sons of Purnell T. Outten after inserting the Will. The last will and Testament of Purnell Outten is recorded at Snow Hill.

The will was probated and sworn to March 2, 1838, and he had probably died that year at the age of 77 years. Judging from the provisions of the Will, it seems probable that he had some wealth, and he was very careful about the manner in which it was to be distributed. It also seems clear that all his children were under age when the Will was made. The youngest child was seven years old when his father died, and the oldest was hardly grown. But after his death they were all scattered about. They all left Mappville, and wandered into Maryland and Delaware, and one of them found his way to Philadelphia. But Elizabeth, the mother of the children, refused to leave Accomac County, and she died there about the year 1880, and was buried among her own people. The writer used to visit Mappville in 1891, and he regrets that he did not know at that time that Purnell T. and Elizabeth had spent their lives there. He could possibly have visited their graves and found out just when they passed away.

Andrew Fuller Outten was probably the second son of Purnell T. and Elizabeth. He was born in Mappville, Accomac Co., Virginia, but after the death of his father he went to Broad Creek Hundred in Sussex County, Delaware. He was on the Assessment list in 1844. He married Mary Hold, August 23, 1842, and established his home in Seaford. Henry White Baker told the writer that he knew Andrew, and Mrs. Anna Outten, widow of Ezekiel told the writer that she knew Andrew’s wife, and that there were four children: William Tobias, David, Laura, and a daughter who married a man named Messick, but she did not remember his first name.

William Tobias was always called “Tobe Ooten.” He was born about the year 1843, and he married Harriett E. Bennett, December 11, 1872. Their home was in Nanticoke City, a suburb of Seaford. The writer was a small boy, but he remembers Tobe, and that there were several children about his house, yet he never exchanged a word with Tobe, nor with any of his family, and he does not know what became of them.

Tobe was a notorious drunkard, a frequent visitor at all the booze joints, and Pennington’s hotel was one of his favorite rendezvous. When he was drinking he was not only an idle loader, but he was insolent in his manner, a blustering, impudent braggart, a notorious bully and a braggadocio, not courageous, but exceedingly pugnacious, and it was his greatest pleasure to be accessary in all the scraps that occurred in town. Yet, strange to say, he never seemed to care who got licked, and if he received a blackened eye, which indeed frequently happened, he never seemed to resent it, not anticipate revenge. But in his old age, which really came on him in middle life, he was sadly afflicted, and being unable to walk, he rolled himself along the street in a little express wagon. The last time the writer saw him was in 1890, and he was still rolling himself about the town. He probably died soon after that.

The second son of Andrew and Mary Outten was David, and he was always called “Dave Ooten.” He was born November 9, 1960, and died August 4, 1910. He was like his brother Tobe, i his abandonment to strong drink, and his libaceous habits frequently landed him in the lockup. He also enjoyed fighting, but he nearly always got licked. But in the Fall of 1899, he professed conversion, and on the first Sunday morning of 1900, the new Methodist Episcopal Church at Seaford was dedicated, and Dave and his wife both joined the Church. He married Nancy Swain December 26, 1885, and they were the parents of two daughters; Bessie married and was left a widow early in life, and Ethel married Lance Boyce, but the writer knows no more about he children of Dave and Nancy. In his last days, however, as a result of his physical infirmities, Dave became a subject of melancholy, and he attempted suicide on his wife’s grave in 1910, in the Odd Fellows Cemetery at Seaford. Dave was unlike Tobe in his personal appearance, for he was tall, slender and boney, while Tobe was short and stout, and notwithstanding the fact that he was always bloated, he looked like the Outtens, but Dave did not.

Andrew and Mary Outten also had two daughters, one of whom was named Laura. She was the mother of Horace Greely Outten, who married Sarah Elizabette Marvel, and they were the parents of four children. Dorman registered September 5, 1918, and was sent to Camp Meade, but the writer knows nothing whatever about his war experience. Albert C. graduated at the Seaford High School and was president of the Emerson Literary Society. The writer met him once, but does not know any thing more of him. The girls were Leta and Laura, but that is all that is known of them. The other daughter of Andrew and Mary married a man named Messick, but one that was consulted knew his first name.

All that has been written about the family of Andrew Outten has been told to the writer by people who know them. He only knew Tobe and Dave by sight and never talked with any of them, but we hope that the grandchildren all made commendable record.

The youngest son of Purnell T. and Elizabeth was Philip Doddridge Outten. He was born at Mappville, Accomac County, Virginia, December 31, 1831, and his father died when he was seven years old. Philip was brought up at Mappville, but when he was bout grown he left his native town, and his mother, and like all his brothers had done, he drifted northward, first to a farm in Maryland. Then he wandered on through Delaware, where he had relatives, and finally he reached Philadelphia in the early fifties.

After settling in Philadelphia, he was married, but the writer does not know the name of his wife. They were, however the parents of several children, but the writer only has the names of two of them. Dr. Charles Wesley Outten, and Jennie L. Outten who married H. L. Hummel. Dr. Charles Wesly Outten is a dentist and his address is 1606 South Fourth Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In a letter to the writer in March 1917, he says, “Note my name has but one T. This I am most certain is incorrect. I believe my father dropped one.”

Dr. Outten writes very beautifully, but he makes lots of frills, curlicues and ringlets, and it is exceedingly difficult to read. But the worse feature about his writing was, he gave no information whatever about his family; he just mentioned his father and grandfather, and did not say whether he had ever been married or not, nor anything about his brothers and sisters, if he had any.

The writer also received a letter from Dr. Outten’s sister, Mrs. Hummel, back in 1917, in which she wrote, “You notice I spell my name with one T. For no reason whatever father dropped one of the T’s. Hence we spell it Outen.” This was just about what her brother wrote. The address of Mrs. Hommel is 5123 Pine Street, Philadelphia, Pa.

These are all the facts that the writer has concerning the family of Rev. Purnell T. Outten, and he does not know whether or not there are any male children left to perpetuate the name of that honored minister of other days.

Purnell T. Outten Family Tree


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