Fountain E. Pitts

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Fountain E. Pitts
Born July 4, 1808
Died May 22, 1874
Resting place Mount Olivet Cemetery
Occupation Clergyman
Military career
Allegiance  Confederate States of America (1861–1865)
Service/branch Confederate States Army
United States Army
Years of service 1861–1865
Rank Chaplain, Colonel (CSA)

Fountain E. Pitts (July 4, 1808 – May 22, 1874) was an American Methodist minister and Confederate chaplain. He established Methodist missions in Brazil and Argentina in 1835–1836. During the American Civil War, he was a chaplain and colonel in the Confederate States Army, and he became known as the "Fighting Parson". After the war, he was the first pastor of the McKendree Church (later known as the West End United Methodist Church) in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. He also grew poppies to make opium.

Early life

Fountain E. Pitts was born on July 4, 1808 in Georgetown, Kentucky.[1][2]


Pitts was ordained as a Methodist preacher in 1824.[1] He was ordained as an elder by Bishop Joshua Soule in 1828.[1][2] In 1835–1836, he went to Brazil and Argentina,[3][4] where he established missionary posts that were manned by American men dispatched by the Methodist Church.[1] Pitts owned at least one slave named David, who died in 1855.[5]

During the American Civil War of 1861–1865, Pitts joined the Confederate States Army, first as a chaplain in the 11th Tennessee regiment for six months, and later as a colonel in the 61st Tennessee regiment in the Great Smoky Mountains.[1] He also fought "Federal gunboats for about five months at Vicksburg."[2] He became known as "Fighting Parson."[1][2]

Pitts was ordained as a Methodist deacon by Bishop B. T. Roberts in 1866.[1] Shortly after, he was appointed by Bishop Holland Nimmons McTyeire as the first pastor of the West End Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee.[1][6] It was then known as the McKendree Church.[1] Pitts was described as "one of the most notable men in the Tennessee Conference" by The Clarksville Chronicle,[2] and as "one of the pioneers of Southern Methodism" by The Pulaski Citizen.[1]

In 1871–1872, alongside Dr. J. W. Morton, Pitts grew poppies to make opium.[7][8]

Personal life and death

Pitts resided on Gallatin Pike in Edgefield, now known as East Nashville, Tennessee.[9][10]

Pitts died of pneumonia on May 22, 1874, in Anchorage, Kentucky near Louisville.[1][11] His eyes were closed by John Berry McFerrin,[2] who also conducted his funeral,[12] and he was buried with Masonic honors[13] in Mount Olivet Cemetery.[14] In 1883, a monument was added to the top of his grave.[15]

His portrait was painted by Washington Bogart Cooper, and it was installed in the art gallery of the West End United Methodist Church (then still known as the McKendree Church) in 1903.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Death of Rev. Fountain E. Pitts". The Pulaski Citizen. May 28, 1874. p. 2. Retrieved December 11, 2017 – via (Registration required (help)).
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Death of Rev. Fountain E. Pitts". Clarksville Chronicle. Clarskville, Tennessee. May 30, 1874. p. 2. Retrieved December 11, 2017 – via (Registration required (help)).
  3. ^ "Wesley Urged Policy of Unity for Methodist Church". The Tennessean. April 23, 1939. p. 40 – via (Registration required (help)).
  4. ^ Weaver, Blanche Henry Clark (November 1952). "Confederate Immigrants and Evangelical Churches in Brazil". The Journal of Southern History. 18 (4): 446–468. doi:10.2307/2955219 – via JSTOR. (Registration required (help)).
  5. ^ "INDEX III SLAVES BURIED BETWEEN 1846–1865". Nashville City Cemetery. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  6. ^ "History". West End United Methodist Church. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  7. ^ "FARM AND GARDEN. HOME-MADE OPIUM". Nashville Union and American. May 3, 1872. p. 3 – via (Registration required (help)).
  8. ^ "OPIUM. Successful Experiments in its Culture Around Nashville". Nashville Union and American. July 7, 1871. p. 3 – via (Registration required (help)). This new enterprise, first inaugurated by the gallant Doctor, was followed up and successfully entered into by the Rev. Fountain E. Pitts, who brought to our office a few days since some balls of opium, free from any adulterations, and looking unctious enough to make the mouth of the opium-eater water.
  9. ^ "Great Bargain in Country Residence". Nashville Union and American. January 9, 1855. p. 2. Retrieved December 12, 2017 – via (Registration required (help)).
  10. ^ "BEAUTIFUL GROUNDS FOR SALE". Nashville Union and American. August 25, 1870. p. 2. Retrieved December 12, 2017 – via (Registration required (help)).
  11. ^ "Report on Fraternal Relations with the Northern Church Adopted. Funeral of Fountain E. Pitts". Nashville Union and American. May 24, 1874. p. 1 – via (Registration required (help)).
  12. ^ "Interred with Masonic Honors". Nashville Union and American. June 2, 1874. p. 4. Retrieved December 11, 2017 – via (Registration required (help)).
  13. ^ "Masonic Notice". Nashville Union and American. May 31, 1874. p. 2. Retrieved December 11, 2017 – via (Registration required (help)).
  14. ^ "ELDER FOUNTAIN E. PITTS. The Last Sad Rites over the Honored Dead". Nashville Union and American. May 26, 1874. p. 4. Retrieved December 11, 2017 – via (Registration required (help)).
  15. ^ "CONNECTIONAL CLIPPINGS". Raleigh Christian Advocate. Raleigh, North Carolina. October 17, 1883. p. 4. Retrieved December 12, 2017 – via (Registration required (help)).
  16. ^ "REV. FOUNTAIN E. PITTS. Portrait to Be Contributed to McKendree Art Gallery". The Tennessean. December 19, 1903. p. 10 – via (Registration required (help)).
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