Notes by Russell J. Rowlett, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Source: Richmond Christian Advocate, 3 July 1884 (Randolph-Macon College Library)
Rev. James D. Rowlett, a local elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and for many years closely and actively identified with the progress of Methodism in Chesterfield County, Virginia, is dead.
James D. Rowlett was the son of Peter and Sarah Rowlett, who were amongst the first Methodists in Virginia. He was born April 23, 1811. He was converted and became a member of the Church before he attained full manhood. His call to preach followed almost immediately upon his conversion, and was promptly obeyed by the young disciple. An invalid mother claimed the presence and service of her youngest son, and caused him to relinquish his desire to enter the itinerant ranks, and he remained in the local ministry. Having a competency he was able to spare much time to the work, and for many years he filled regular appointments in the country adjoining his home in Chesterfield.
His piety was prominent; his faith unwavering; his reading was extensive. His preaching was clear and forcible, and attended with the Spirit's unction. he delighted in revivals, and as long as his bodily strength was sufficient to endure the fatigue he was active in this work. He often conducted meetings without the aid of other ministers, and very many were the seals to his ministry.
By the losses of the war he was financially involved to such an extent that about six years ago the old homestead was finally sacrificed to creditors, and he, aged and feeble, moved to Richmond and became the charge of his children. Not wishing to be unemployed he sought and obtained a flag-man's place at a railway street crossing. To this humble work he brought such dignity that even the children of the street reverenced "the old flag-man." Whether bearing the banner of Christ in warning to sinners and encouragement to saints, or bearing the simple signal that announced the approach of a train, he ever exhibited to the world the dignity of a true Christian manhood, and commanded respect. When strength for all employment was gone, and feebleness held him a prisoner in his room, and age and disease made his body their prey, he praised God and murmured not. Finally, May 31, death came, as sleep comes to a tired child, and James D. Rowlett was with the sainted dead.
He was buried in the family burying ground of the old homestead in Chesterfield County, Virginia.
[The obituary is accompanied by a Tribute of Respect from the Laurel Street Methodist Episcopal Church, South.]