Francis Asbury (1745-1816) was born at Handsworth, near Birmingham, England of Methodist parents. He became a local preacher at 18 and was ordained at 22. In 1771 he volunteered to travel to America. When the American War of Independence) broke out in 1776 he was the only Methodist minister to remain in this country.
In 1784 John Wesley named Asbury and Thomas Coke as co-superintendents of the work in America. This marks the beginning of the "Methodist Episcopal Church of the USA". For the next 32 years, Asbury led all the Methodists in America.
Like Wesley, Asbury preached in all sorts of places: courthouses, public houses, tobacco houses, fields, public squares, wherever a crowd assembled to hear him. For the remainder of his life he rode an average of 6000 miles each year, preaching virtually every day and conducting meetings and conferences. Under his direction the church grew from 1,200 to 214,000 members.
Asbury kept a journal assiduously; on December 8 1812 he crossed the Broad River into York County SC and came to the home of David Leech, Esq. He states in his journal that Leech offered him a Bible and a bottle of brandy; he wrote, "I took one."
There are two schools named after Asbury, both located in Wilmore, Kentucky: Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary.