I've been reading from Indiana Circuit Rider Days and found pages 75-76 interesting to compare to our time. I'm retaining the spelling as found online, but trust you will get the gist of it:
The preachers with fev/ exceptions, came to the con- ference cloathed in home-spun, and all of them except a few who lived along the Ohio river came to the con- ference on horse back, and most of them were seedy when they arrived. ''Many had come from a month's tussle with the ague, and some of them kept up the shake habit every other day during conference." Dur- ing the latter part of the conference session a resolu- tion was introduced requesting that the preachers re- turn to the original plainness of dress, and that they be requested to wear either the round breasted or plain frock coats. The reason for this resolution, was the fact that John S. Bayless having married a well-to-do woman of Vincennes, had come to conference wearing his wedding suit, which was tailor made and in the height of fashion; the pants tight with narrow falls; the coat was "pigeon tailed" and the hat a stove-pipe, the whole giving the wearer a unique appearance in a Methodist conference of that period in Indiana.^""' But more and more after this conference the preachers dressed as they pleased, though this motion was passed without a dissenting vote, and a few years later a similar resolution was introduced, and passed. One of the important parts of a Methodist confer- ence's business is the examination of character. Not only were those just entering the conference examined, in this regard, but each year the characters of every member of the conference had to be "passed." Espe- cially were those, who were up for admission into full connection, given a careful examination. One case which came before the conference of 1839 was espe- cially interesting. The young man under considera- tion was William J. Forbes, who was just closing his second year as a probationer, and therefore if he was found deserving he might be admitted. The committee on his studies gave a very complimentary report. He was good on everything, and very good on several. Finally the Presiding Elder, under whom he had been traveling, reported that this young man was a very good preacher, and the people liked to hear him. He also reported that he read a great deal and understood what he read, but he said, no one is converted under his preaching. At this juncture up jumped James Havens, and asked, "Does he make anybody mad?" To this the Elder replied, "O no ! He is a sweet tempered man, everybody loves him." "Then Fm opposed to him," said Havens. "A man under whose preaching nobody is converted and nobody made mad is not fit for a Methodist preacher." In spite, however, of James Havens' opposition Forbes was admitted, for, said the Bishop, "A young man that reads a great deal and understands what he reads and preaches well, and that everybody loves, is a safe case."''*'