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Who was Lorenzo Dow?

This is information I collected from the Internet. I was going to link to the original sources, but the links keep changing. It is much easier just to keep it on this site. If you have further interest, just do a search on the Internet. There is plenty about him.

Lorenzo Dow, the Inspiration of Many a Son's Name
in 19th Century United States

Lorenzo Dow was the name of a popular itinerant Methodist preacher of the late 1700's and early 1800's. Many families named a son after Lorenzo Dow. As evidence of this assertion we offer the following:

  • Lorenzo Dow Anderson
  • Lorenzo Dow Barnes
  • Lorenzo Dow Brannon
  • Lorenzo Dow Finch
  • Jeptha Lorenzo Dow Jones
  • Lewelling, Lorenzo Dow (1846-1900) Born in Salem, Iowa, December 21, 1846. candidate for Secretary of state of Kansas, 1886; Governor of Kansas, 1893-95; member of Kansas state senate, 1896. Died of heart disease in Arkansas City, Kan., September 3, 1900. Interment at Maple Grove Cemetery, Wichita, Kan.
  • Lorenzo Dow Miller
  • Lorenzo Dow Peyton
  • Lorenzo Dow Poston
  • Lorenzo Dow Sherman
  • Lorenzo Dow Smith
  • Lorenzo Dow Sunderland
  • Lorenzo Dow Swisher
  • Lorenzo Dow Turner
  • Lorenzo Dow Young was the brother of early Mormon Brigham Young

Biographical and historical information about Lorenzo Dow

A sermon quoting Lorenzo Dow:

"Lorenzo Dow once met a man as he was riding along a solitary road to fulfil an appointment, and said to him -- Friend, have you ever prayed? No. How much will you take never to pray hereafter? One dollar. Dow paid it over, and rode on. The man put the money in his pocket, and passed on, thinking. The more he thought, the worse he felt. There, said he, I have sold my soul for one dollar! It must be that I have met the devil! Nobody else would tempt me so. With all my soul I must repent, or be damned forever!"

Who was Lorenzo Dow, Namesake in many families?


Rev. Lorenzo Dow was the first Protestant preacher to preach in any part of the territory that is now Alabama. He claimed to be a Methodist and affiliated with that denomination, but they would not be responsible for him in anything he did. In May, 1803, Rev. Mr. Dow preached to the settlers in the Tombigbee and Tensaw settlements.

This was the first preaching ever done in Alabama except by Romish priests However, when these settlements along the Tombigbee were developed, and became safe from the Indians and their claims were ceded to the U.S., heralds of the cross found its people and the voice of the messengers of peace was heard in the wilderness.

Rev. Dow described in some of his writings the inhabitants as mostly English, but were like "Sheep without a shepherd," and while it was under Spanish government it was a refuge for bad men.

Lorenzo Dow was born Oct. 16, 1777, in Coventry, Tolland County, Connecticut. He was descended from the English ancestors. He was the subject of early religious impressions. Before he was four years old he expressed himself as "Mused upon God, Heaven and Hell."

He was united with a society of Methodists being received into it by Rev. G. Roberts. He claimed Hope Hull as his spiritual advisor. Rev. Mr. Dow made a long and hard struggle against the conviction that 'it was his duty to preach, but at last yielded to the conviction that God had called him to the ministry.

He met with strong opposition from his father as to this move and still stronger from the members of the church and when he sought to obtain a license to preach he was discouraged and at first was rejected and sent away. He continued to press his claim and finally admitted on trial September 19, 1898. Ill health prompted him to come South. He was lured by the warm mild climate, and with his wife Peggy, made the long tiresome hazardous trip. The journey was both dangerous and difficult, but to Dow perils were a fascination. In his journals which have been sacredly kept, he tells of these many perils and adventures among the wild tribes he encountered.

Any feature of the uncivilized and the wilderness appealed to him. On the stages of the long journey Southward he preferred camping out at night, especially in the piney woods country. Huge piles of a straw was raked up which served as the bed and he would be lulled to sleep by the soothing monotone of the sighing pines. There was also a hope entertained that the resinous regions possessed a curative power for his malady. A singular chapter in his life was a great desire and fancy to preach to the Roman Catholics and hearing Ireland was their greatest stronghold he would thither, but his pathway was not strewn with roses by any means. He requested a leave of absence from the Conference in order to make the trip abroad, but the request was not granted and he took the leave of absence anyway against their advice and entreaties. He consumed about twenty months on this trip, preaching the gospel incessantly and attending camp meetings.

Not withstanding he had made the European tour against the authority of the Conference, he resumed preaching on his return and remained on "trial." However, he could not stand the test and his name was soon dropped from the minutes.

He was not careful to maintain the relationship with the Conference which he had so eagerly sought. He was sent out on circuit assignments but this did not correspond with the expansive fields of his dreams. He was discontented. In a word he did not consider a circuit his right sphere, and claimed that his connection with the conference was severed. He was never really ordained to the ministry and was without authority to administer sacrament or organize societies. In doctrinal principles he was Methodist, but was without any church influence or allegiance. He was irregular and uncertain. He was a force, but uncertain, unreliable and inefficient.

He was restless and he was a dreamer. He was contradictory and never happier than when engaged in a wordy war. He possessed scant learning, but was a very close observer of mankind. The very face of Lorenzo Dow indicated his character. His features were both rough and delicate. It was rough and effeminate but in that face there was every mark of indomitable energy.

He parted his hair in the middle and wore it hanging down his neck and shoulders and his face was radiant with kindness. His wife, Peggy, whom he married before coming South, in her writings, "Vicissitudes" gives an account of their first trip coming South and also gives an account of a trip which she made with him passing through the Bigbee settlements in Nov., 1811, from Natchez, Mississippi to Milledgdville, Ga., in the wilderness some forty miles. She says "At night we camped out in lonely deserts, uninhabited by any being except wild beasts and savages."

"I was much alarmed and uneasy, but my husband was content and slept sweetly." In giving an account of her first meeting with him she says, "He is a most singular character, and admits himself that he was known by the name of 'Crazy Dow' and called himself 'Son of Thunder'.

Despite his ill health he boated that he held off death. He refused to die and said he must live to fight for the Kingdom. He did not believe in founding churches but preferred to preach and praise God in the wilds and in the open. However, a prominent jurist of Alabama, who is closely connected with Lowndes County, claims to have the historical facts that Dow preached from the altar one time if no more. The small church known as "Union" which is nestled in a grove between the small settlements of Burkeville and Manack, Lowndes County, claims the distinction of having him preach there in its early history.

The tradition, in part, is that Sam Manac, the half-breed, who founded the latter place and from whom it was named, met Dow during his wanderings through the wilds and led him to that altar. Union Church, now obscure, holds an interesting part in the early history of Lowndes. Dow, the first man who passed the holy words around and around in Alabama, preached there. The Graves family, ancestors of Alabama's ex-governor, worshipped at that alter. Some of which sleep in the nearby churchyard, and it is built in the road that was the route of the through county stage coach line, 'most a hundred years ago.

Rev. Dow died February 2, 1834, in Georgetown, D.C., was buried near Washington, but remains were removed and re-buried in Oakhill Cemetery, near Georgetown.

He had one son, Neal, who was a Brigadier in the Union Army and author of "Main Law."