Saturday, November 10, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History Nov. 11

Armistice Day for Southwestern Students  Nov. 11, 1918

Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, meant an end to unimaginable horror.  In 1914 the belligerent nations went confidently into what they believed would be a short war.  They were horribly wrong.  As the initial invasion of France by German forces was repulsed, the two sides dug into fortified positions in trenches that changed very little through the next years.    The application of the technologies of the industrial revolution meant that killing was mass produced.  The efficiency of machine guns, submarines, poison gas, large munitions, and other products of the industrial revolution meant causalities in the thousands as the generals continued to stick to the same tactics they had learned in the horse cavalry era.  

Nowhere was this outmoded thinking more evident than in the last weeks of the war.  As nations staggered to some sort of resolution, generals stuck to the same tactics that had produced such horror.  

Although it was well known that an armistice was imminent, commanders continued giving orders to continue artillery barrages and “over the top” mad assaults through barbed wire and machine guns until 11:00 a.m. To be fair, some field commanders ignored such orders on the morning of November 11.  

What about the home front and in particular, Southwestern University in Georgetown which had embraced militarization like most of the rest of American society?

One November 9, 1918 ten members  of the Student Army Training Corps at Southwestern  were given a grand send off as they were inducted into the regular army and sent to Camp MacArthur in Waco for officer training.  The SATC sergeants, corporals, and privates would spend three months at Camp MacArthur and then be thrown into the maelstrom of war in Europe.   The men were selected because they had spent 8 weeks the previous summer at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, receiving basic training along with the faculty sponsor, Professor Godbey who also taught chemistry and coached the football team.  

There was a send off  banquet, complete with oysters and multiple toasts (with grape juice).  The SU band went to the train depot to send the men, who ranged from freshman to senior, off. 

Lt. Riley ordered an honor guard be posted at the flag pole each Sunday.  In spite of the heavy rains, SATC students were able to resume drills from 2:00 until 4:00.  Drill had been suspended for weeks because so many cadets were afflicted with the influenza.  Cadets who were not ill spent their time swabbing the floors where a temporary hospital of cots had been set up.

The 10 men chosen for Officer Training at Camp MacArthur arrived the night of the 9th, and on the 11th learned that the Armistice had been signed.  They were not allowed to go into Waco and participate in the joyous celebrations and church services being held there.   The camp was quarantined because of a meningitis outbreak. 

Although the war was over, the SU men stayed at Camp MacArthur for another two weeks.   One of their tasks was constructing the barracks in which they would live.   Six of them returned to the SATC, and four were honorably discharged.  

The Armistice did not mean an end to the SATC.  They continued to drill as usual. 
One of those men was Wesley Hardt, my grandfather.   Upon discharge, the men were told to keep their equipment.   I inherited the carpenter tools that had been issued for the barracks construction.  Wesley was still at Camp MacArthur when the SU Pirates came to play the Baylor Bears in a football game.   Wesley’s brother Henry was the starting left guard for the Pirates.  The Pirates beat the Bears 14-6.   Wesley not only attended the game, but was called down from the bleachers to act as timekeeper.  He was invited to spend that night in the Waco hotel with the team rather than going back to his tent at Camp MacArthur. 

Saturday, November 03, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History Nov. 4

Bishop James O. Andrew Presides Over Texas Conference, First Week of November 1860 AND 1865

Bishop James O. Andrew is best known to Methodist historians as the bishop whose ownership of slaves precipitated the dramatic events of the General Conference of 1844 which resulted in the division of the MEC into the MECS and the MEC.
James O. Andrew made 5 trips to Texas, including ones in 1860 and 1865.   
As stated in the post for last week, no bishops were able to come to Texas during the Civil War so the 1860 and 1865 visits were sort of “bookends” for Texas.
Andrew had been born in 1796 and elected in 1832.  At the formation of the MEC, he naturally went with southern branch of the church.     Bishops of the era could live where they wished and although he was a Georgian, he made his home near his daughter’s family in Alabama.

Here is how his biographer described the 1860 episcopal trip to Texas:
Nearly twenty years before he had first gone to this republic. 
At that time there was only a little band of heroic men forming one
 small Conference ; now, there were three Conferences, two of them quite
 large. At that time there had been few appointments on the eastern side
 of the State and in the larger cities; there were now stations and circuits
 reaching from the Rio Grande to the Sabine, and from 
the Gulf to the territories on the north. The work was very hard, 
and successive droughts had made this year one which was especially trying. He
 made the trips by boat to Galveston and thence into the interior, and then 
returned to Alabama. 
It should be noted that this visit was made during the Presidential election of 1860.

The 1865 episcopal visit is described in much greater detail.
The Trans-Mississippi had not had any Episcopal supervision for years. 
Some one must go, and al- though he was old and feeble, and moneyless,
 he con- sented to make the journey. How he made it Brother 
Rush tells. 
He reached the seat of the Texas Conference and presided over it and over
 the East Texas. During his visit to the Texas Conference, of the amount 
raised for superannuated preachers, widows, etc., the Conference proposed to 
appropriate one hundred dollars to Bishop Andrew ; he refused to. receive it. 
Penniless as he was, he would not take a penny of that fund, but the brave 
Texans were not willing to allow him to go out empty handed, and raised a 
handsome purse for him, which hedid receive without hesitation. He did not
 attempt to reach the Rio Grande Conference, but made his way to Summerfield 
The Texas Conference was held in Chappell Hill and there was lots of business to catch up on.  10 men were ordained because of the pent-up demand since no bishops had come to ordain preachers in Texas during the war.  The conference also recognized the death of John Wesley Kenney, a true pioneer of Texas Methodism who had died the previous January.   

Bishop Andrew’s episcopal visit that interests me most was his first, when he was a much younger man and better able to withstand the rigors of travel. 
In 1843 he arrived at Galveston, made his way to Houston and sought advice on the best way to get to the conference site, Robinson’s in southwestern Walker County.   He was advised there were two options.  He could go by steamboat up the Trinity to approximately where Riverside is today and then go overland from there.  The other option was to go northwest approximating the present route of US 290 as far as Hockley and then north through Montgomery, then to Robinson’s.   He, accompanied by Charles Shearn and T. O. Summers, chose the latter. 
It was a miserable route. 

The whole prairie was inundated — the water was up to the knees 
of their horses, and sometimes in a slough their own 
feet were covered. The stars above them gave all 
the light they had, and "save the sound of our 
horses' feet splashing in the water, the shrill cry of 
the crane, or the noise of numerous flocks of wild 
geese and ducks, which were startled upon our ap- proach, there was no
 sound to break in upon the gloomy silence of the scene around us ; unless we 
chose to keep our own voices employed, which we 
did pretty freely by way of cheering each other's 

It got worse:  The big obstacle was Lake Creek in Montgomery County.  It was so flooded that he had to swim, holding on to his horses reins.

I think about that weekly.  My route from home to the Texas Conference Archives is Highway 105.  It crosses Lake Creek at Dobbin.   The Halloween storms this week made Lake Creek come out of its banks, much like in 1843.    I thought about Bishop Andrew again and how after his swimming the creek, only six months later he was in New York City—presumably sleeping in a comfortable hotel. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History October 28

Methodist Protestant Conference Announces Appointments, October 1864

The business of the the MECS annual conferences in Texas were severely disrupted by the Civil War, but the Methodist Protestant Annual Conference was able to conduct business as usual.  The Civil War prevented bishops from coming to preside over annual conferences in Texas.  In the absence of a bishop, conferences elected one of their own members to preside.  The major disruption was that ordination of elders could not occur without the presence of a bishop.
The Methodist Protestant Church, which grew out of a democratic reform movement in the MEC, never had bishops, so they conducted business as usual.
In October 1864 the Methodist Protestant Church convened its annual conference at Salem.  There are so many Salems in Texas I cannot be sure of which Salem it was –possibly in Cherokee or Wood County.  

Instead of a bishop, the MP Church had a President, elected by the members for a one year term.  The entire conference served as the “Stationing Committee”  and made the appointments.  Unlike the MECS, the MP Conference had lay delegates.

There were 16 clergy and 7 lay delegates in attendance.  Three men were ordained deacons and one was ordained as an elder.   There were nine appointments:

Bonham Mission
Clarkeville (sic)

In 1939 the Methodist Protestant Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church South merged to form the Methodist Church.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History October 21

Methodist Church Sexton in Roxton Assaulted by Racist Thugs, 1900

The controversies over removal of Confederate statutes and renaming of schools, streets, and other public facilities named for Confederates have had the effect of renewed interest in the period 1890-1920.  It was that period in which most of the statues were erected and many public parks, schools, and streets were named to honor Confederates.   As always, one of the benefits of historical knowledge is being able to provide the larger context of events.   Although superficially benign, the honorifics were part of a larger picture of trying to ennoble the motives of those who had taken up arms to destroy the United States of America.  

Besides the erection of statues other actions of the period included disenfranchisement of African American voters, the imposition of strict social segregation, enactment of “Black Codes” which treated African Americans and European Americans differently even in courts of law, and myriad other violations of democratic values.

Even worse was the reign of terror launched against African Americans in the Texas and the rest of the South.   Lynching, assassination of political activists, imprisonment on trumped up or petty charges and other devices made life dangerous for African Americans.   Men swept up by the law for vague, unsubstantiated charges could find themselves leased out for chain gang labor, especially in the cane fields of the Brazos bottomlands.  An unknown number  died there.   

Even the sanctity of a Methodist church could not provide safety from the racist violence as this article from the Rockdale Messenger, October 25, 1900 shows

                                                        Attack on a Sexton
Paris, Texas, October 20,  About two months ago a negro (sic) was employed as a sexton at the Methodist Church in Roxton (Lamar County, about 18 miles sw of Paris).  Three of four weeks ago the church was entered at night by unknown persons who upset the benches, smashed the lights, and committed other depredations.  They posted a notice on the door warning the sexton to quit work.  The supposition is that they objected to him on account of his color.  Last night after the prayer meeting before persons who had attended had time to get out of hearing and while the sexton was engaged in putting out the lights, three or four unknown young men went up to the window and asked him why he was not picking cotton. He replied that he was attending to the church.  A stone was hurled through the window and struck him on the shoulder.  Almost immediately afterwards two shots were fired, one of the bullets grazing the side of his head and the other passing through his coat.  There is no clew as to who the parties were. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History October 14

Texas Monumental and Military Institute Opens at Rutersville, October 1856

Texas Methodists had high hopes for their university named in honor of Martin Ruter establishing near LaGrange in 1840, but those hopes were shattered and abandoned for good in 1856.  Immediately after Martin Ruter’s death in May, 1838, Texas Methodists bought a league of land in Fayette County, surveyed it into lots, and began the process of organizing both a town and college. 

They hired Chauncey Richardson to be the organizing president, lobbied the Congress of the Republic of Texas for a charter and land grants to support the college.  In 1840 those aims bore fruit when Rutersville College began instruction.  There were three departments, collegiate, preparatory, and women’s.   Methodists sent their children there, eager to have them educated in a Methodist institution. 

By 1856, it all came crashing down.  Chauncey Richardson was not particularly effective as president, there was a sex scandal, and the great bugaboo of almost all Methodist colleges in the 19th century, debt, was too much to overcome.
As the end drew near, the school still had some assets, buildings and its charter.  The trustees agreed to keep something going by merging with the Monumental Institute and the Texas Military Institute of Galveston.  The Monumental Institute had been chartered in 1850 to build a monument at Rutersville to honor the fallen who had perished in the two disastrous military episodes of 1842, the Mier Expedition and the death of so men under Dawson’s command at the Battle of Salado.   Many of the fallen had volunteered from Fayette and surrounding counties.  

Colonel Caleb Forshey brought his TMI from Galveston and assumed control of the new institution while Rutersville’s last president, William Halsey, went ot Chappell Hill to try to kick start Methodist educational efforts there.

Forshey had attended West Point and was an engineer, scientist, and educator.  He came to Texas as the Chief Engineer for the Galveston, Houston, Henderson Railway.  He started that project and then founded the Texas Military Institute in Galveston in 1854 but moved it to Rutersville when that site became available.  
Prospective cadets had to 12 years old and 52 inches tall.  They had to be able to spell, read, write and cipher.  They also had to bring their own furniture to college and supply a uniform.   Tuition for the preparatory department was $50 and for the collegiate was $100.  

The TMI lasted until the Civil War.  The cadets all joined the Confederate forces and Forshey returned to his previous occupation of military engineer.  He planned coastal defenses and gave the orders for the “cotton clads” which helped retake Galveston Island from the Federals.  If that weren’t enough, he also composed Civil War songs.

After the war he returned to civilian engineers of railroads, canals, and river improvements.  He died in Carrollton, LA, in 1881.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History  October 7

Methodist Church in Paducah Hosts War Bond Rally,  Oct 6, 1918

World War I was in its final stages.  The Allies had mounted a final push to try to end the horrific stalemate which had gone on for four years and had already resulted in millions of causalities.   On Sunday night, October 6, a giant rally was held in the MECS  Church in Paducah.   The account in the Paducah Post reported that the rally consisted of music and speeches full of “spice and snap.”  The program “made the audience “hate the Kaiser all the more.”  Promoting any kind of hatred in the church seems odd, but another article on the front page of the Post goes even further.   J. W. Hoopes of the Federal Reserve Bank called the Kaiser an “unnatural degenerate.”    One should remember how strong the anti-German sentiment was.  About 70 miles from Paducah, the town of Brandenburg changed its name to Old Glory.  German language instruction was banned in the public schools, and some German-Texans were forced to kiss the American flag to show their loyalty.  At least a few German-Texans bought war bonds because of pressure to show their patriotism, although there was no evidence of German-Texan fifth column activity.

On Monday, October 7, the rally continued.  Stores closed at 12:00 so the population could go watch an airplane land.  Two aviators from Call Field in Wichita Falls flew to Paducah in support of the rally.  

This episode naturally makes us remember how our nation has funded its wars.  In both World War I and World War II there were bond drives which have much in common with Methodist pledge drives.  Musical entertainment, stirring oratory, and lots of competitions between communities were all part of the process in both national and church fund drives.

The bond drives and pledge drives depended upon a broad based reservoir of support.  Both had significant impacts.  For example, just one year later the Methodist denominations staged the largest coordinated fund drive of all, the Centenary Campaign in support of missions.  Thousands of mission projects were initiated.  When the enthusiasm of the campaign waned and the Depression set in, many of those mission projects were abandoned.   

A main result of the bond drives after World War I and World War II was enforced savings.  During World War II the conversion of factories producing consumer goods to military goods created shortages in products from tires to nylon stockings.  Overtime wages earned in the cause of military production and enforced savings meant that after World War II there was a pent up demand for consumer goods desired by a population with accumulated savings, a sure recipe for both inflation and increased investment in factories to produce consumer goods.   

From the Methodist perspective, there was also a pent up demand for new church buildings.  The Depression and World War II had slowed new church construct.  In the period 1946-1956 Texas Methodists went on a building spree, financed, in part, by contributions made possible by the accumulation of wealth through war bond sales.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History September 30

Camp Meetings Held in Commemoration of Methodist Centenary, October, 1839C

Friday, October 4, 1839 kicked off a month of camp meetings in Texas in honor of the centenary of the founding of Methodism.    Texas was still considered a mission field by the MEC in 1839 and was attached to the Mississippi Conference as a district.  On the other hand, it was rapidly growing with the transfer of preachers from other conferences and the licensing of local preachers already in Texas.  It was even ambitious enough to be planning a university and had already hired a president for that that projected institution of higher education.  

The first camp meeting was held in Robert Alexander’s field at Rutersville, the site of the proposed university in Fayette County just a few miles from LaGrange.   Alexander had recently given up the Washington Circuit to move to Rutersville and help get the university started.  

On Friday night the preacher was Daniel N. V. Sullivan (-1847).  Sullivan was not even a preacher.  He had come to Texas from Alabama to teach school.  In the first session of the Texas Annual Conference, Bishop Waugh ordained him deacon and appointed him to Matagorda. He served responsible appointments and died in Houston in 1847.

On Saturday John Haynie, Joseph Sneed, and William Y. Allen occupied the pulpit.  Haynie (1786-1860) had been ordained a deacon for Bishop Asbury in 1811 and came to Texas only in January, 1839, and settled near Bastrop with his son-in-law, John Caldwell.  When the Texas Legislature moved to Austin, he served as Chaplain of the House of Representatives while serving the Austin Circuit.  He was also appointed to Corpus Christi, but came back to Rutersville where he died in 1860.  Haynie Chapel Iin the Rio Texas Conference is named in his honor.

Joseph P. Sneed (1804-1881) was another newcomer, having arrived in Texas in February, 1839.  He was appointed to the Montgomery Circuit, and with Alexander’s resignation from the Washington Circuit, had those churches added to his parish.  The result was by far the largest circuit any of the early Texas riders had to travel---basically from Texana to Marlin.  He retired to a farm in Milam County where he died.  Sneed Memorial UMC in the Texas Conference is named in his honor.

There aren’t any UMC churches named for William Y. Allen (1805-1885) because he was a Presbyterian.   He came to Houston in 1838 and enjoyed cordial relations with the Methodist preachers he met, especially Littleton Fowler with whom he exchanged correspondence.  His preaching at a Methodist camp meeting was in no way strange---Methodists in the 1830s in Texas were happy to invite Presbyterians and Baptists to the pulpit.  Allen did not return directly to Houston from Rutersville, but went to Austin where he organized the Presbyterian Church in the new capital city.  He eventually left Texas and became President of Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. 

The camp meeting continued until Tuesday, October 8, when Haynie preached the concluding sermon, “with curious effect” according to Allen’s diary.

Through the rest of the month Centenary Camp Meetings were held at  Texana, where Sneed preached; Robinson’s in Walker County; Fanthorp’s (present Anderson in Grimes County); and Lindley’s (Joseph Lindley 1794-1874---Montgomery County). 

The big one and most famous, though, was held on the Washington Circuit beginning on Thursday Oct. 24 on New Year’s Camp Ground about 8 miles southwest of Independence.   The preachers there included Robert Alexander (1811-1882), William Medford (?-1841), Joseph Sneed, and Robert Hill, and John Wesley Kenney (1799-1865). 

One of the preachers who had thought deeply about the observance of the centenary was not there.  Abel Stevens had come to Texas in December 1838, served the Washington Circuit, then went back home to his family whom he had left in Providence, Rhode Island.  On his way back to New England he stopped at the New York City offices of the Publishing House and Christian Advocate.  He reported on his idea to celebrate the centenary by soliciting land donations for church and camp meeting sites.  He had even gone to a printer and had deeds of gift printed so all donors had to do was fill in blanks.  It made a great deal of sense in Texas in the 1830’s since there was so little cash in circulation, but lots of people had more land than they could use for agricultural purposes.

The series of camp meetings in October 1839 produced a great deal of enthusiasm and set the stage for the organization of the Texas Conference at Rutersville in December, 1840.