The Agora
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Oatman, John

John Oatman was born in Kentucky on July 14, 1787, and moved first to Indiana, where he married. Later he and his family moved to Illinois, finally settling in the community of Dundee. It was in Illinois that he would meet and have discussions with Dr John Thomas about the truth of the gospel as expounded in "Elpis Israel". Soon he became committed to the gospel of Christ, and was baptized.

The Oatman family moved to Texas in 1850, settling first in Bastrop County. John and his sons were very soon preaching the gospel to all who would listen, often holding debates with ministers who challenged their teachings. In those days, such debates were assured of large turnouts. Over the years many families in the Texas hill country learned the Truth in that way.

While some members of the Oatman family stayed in Bastrop County, most of them moved on to Llano County. Their preaching extended to many of the central Texas areas. They reported their progress to John Thomas and their letters appeared in his magazine, "The Herald of the Kingdom".

Of the sons of John Oatman, several were committed preachers of the gospel, notably Clement Oatman -- a very effective debater and teacher.

The Civil War (1861-1865) and the resulting unrest on the frontier hampered the Truth's progress. People in the Texas hill country were divided in their allegiance -– leading to some violence –- and the Indians took advantage of the situation by staging a number of raids. It was a dangerous time, and preaching the Truth was not very effective –- in fact, a number of converts fell away. But after the war's end the brothers' efforts would resume with God's rich blessing.

Citizens of Llano, Texas, honor the memory of John Oatman and the Oatman family as early settlers of the county, but their biography of "Elder" John fails to mention anything about his teachings. It is just stated that "John Oatman, Sr, was an active minister of the gospel for 40 years, always refusing remuneration for his services." John Oatman was already of advanced years when he arrived in Texas, and he fell asleep in 1875. During his last years, he was able to witness the beginnings of the Christadelphian community in Texas.

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