David Marks (1805-1845), born in Shandaken, Ulster County, N. Y., on Nov., 4, 1805. At age 13, he set out on foot for Providence, R. I. He walked 368 miles before arriving at Brown University. However, upon his arrival he was informed that tuition would be free, but no other funds were available for boarding or clothing. He then walked 368 miles back home.
On June 11, 1819, he was baptized and became a member of the Freewill Baptist Church in Phelps. The following year he joined the Freewill Baptist Church in Junius.
At age 15, he felt the call of God leading him to enter the ministry. He left home and began preaching in what was known as the Holland Purchase. God blessed his ministry and large congregations would gather to hear his preaching. However, during his first 3 months absence from home, his mother died and his father's house was burned.
Circuit rider is a popular term referring to clergy in the earliest years of the United States who were assigned to travel around specific geographic territories to minister to settlers and organize congregations. Circuit riders were clergy in the Methodist Episcopal Church and related denominations.
This early frontier ministry was often lonely and dangerous. Samuel Wakefield wrote a hymn about the perils circuit riders faced. It describes the circuit rider's family anxiously waiting for his return, and the final stanza says:
Yet still they look with glistening eye,
Till lo! a herald hastens nigh;
He comes the tale of woe to tell,
How he, their prop and glory fell;
How died he in a stranger’s room,
How strangers laid him in the tomb,
How spoke he with his latest breath,
And loved and blessed them all in death