One early Pleasant Valley (Sachse, Dallas County TX) area settler was a preacher man that ran a mule powered cotton gin to supplement his income. J. B. Minnis settled here in the 1870’s. He had even invented a sucking machine for unloading cotton, and was offered $30,000 for the invention (about $7500, 000 today). He refused to sell and the next year Munger and Co. came out with their own version. According to Ed Wood (Wylie TX),“Minnis received nary a dime.”
The circuit assigned to J. B. Minnis was called “St. Paul”. St. Paul is now part of Wylie. Minnis is listed in old church records as Pleasant Valley preacher from 1882 to 1884.
Myrtle Rogers Potts was a niece of J. B. Minnis and had written asking for an account of his circuit riding days. It was in April of 1924 that J. B. Minnis responded from Ladonia, Texas.
My dear niece, With a short explanation, you will understand my delay (in writing)……… I will give you a short sketch. Born in Summer County, Tennessee September 3, 1852 and came to Texas in 1878. Joined the North Texas Conference (Methodist) and was sent to St. Paul Circuit, and when I reached my work I formed three churches or organizations—St. Paul, Wilkins (north of Cottonwood, east of Wylie), and Pleasant Valley.
No church houses, just little dirty school houses. Just a little handful of members at each place, not a Sunday School or prayer meeting on the work. The country was thinly settled for congregations. Roads were almost impassable. The winter was bad. Roads (either dirt or mud) were not worked and were almost impassable. The only way I could get to my appointments was by horseback or on foot. Sometimes I walked, but I always got there.
Nickleville (now part of Wylie) was the biggest thing between Rockwall and McKinney. It had a schoolhouse and one store. I shall never forget my experience on the St. Paul circuit. In my travels I found a few Methodists between St. Paul and the Valley (Pleasant). I got them together and organized a church at Lee’s Schoolhouse, just 14, quite a small church.
In the summer I held a camp meeting in old Eureka. —Built a brush arbor back of William Colson’s saloon and had a great meeting which added 25 members to the 14 at Lee’s School. I had a good meeting at each point each year, more than doubling the membership during the two years. People went to church from three to five miles in wagons, horseback and walked. I have seen them get happy and shout at monthly appointments. My salary the first year was $200. While there were years of hard work, there were years of happiness. I shall never forget my experiences on the old St. Paul Circuit.
I had many faithful friends who stood by me and helped me fight the hard Christian battles. Many of them have finished their course and await me in Beulah land. Well, I have written more than you will be able to read so will ring off. Signed J. B. Minnis (Jacob “Hack” Benjamin Minnis).
Courtesy Wylie Area Heritage by Beb Fulkerson.