Saturday, January 19, 2019

This Week in Texas Methodist History January 20

Claude Carr Cody Begins Career at Southwestern, January 20, 1879

On January 20, 1879 Claude C. Cody began his long career at Southwestern University.  He served for decades, eventually becoming the “Grand Old Man” of Southwestern.  He was beloved teacher of mathematics and also held a variety of administrative posts. 

Cody was born in Covington, Georgia, in 1854.  He received the B. A. and A. M. from Emory and then came to Georgetown where he was to spend the rest of his life.  In 1879 Southwestern was still a fledgling institution.  It had great ambitions to become the central university for Texas Methodists according to the vision of Francis Asbury Mood, but its greatness lay in the future.  

Cody had to wear many hats.  At different times he managed the dormitories, was treasurer, librarian, secretary of the faculty, and eventually SU’s first dean.  Twice he served as acting president.  During the “removal controversy” of 1910-1911, he headed the faction that fought to keep Southwestern in Georgetown over the wishes of President Robert S. Hyer who wanted to relocate the university of Dallas.  Hyer eventually resigned and went to Dallas to found SMU.  

Cody is also known as an historian.  His Life and Labors of Francis Asbury Mood (1886)was informed by his personal relationship with Mood.  It remains a necessary reference on every Texas Methodist historian’s bookshelf.  Much later he was instrumental in organizing the Texas Methodist Historical Association.  That organization did not last very long, but it published 7 issues of the Texas Methodist Historical Quarterly with Cody as one of the editors.  Those 7 issues are also an indispensable part of the Texas Methodist historian’s reference library.

Cody died in 1923 was buried in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Georgetown.  A memorial fund was initiated which eventually led to the construction of Cody Memorial Library on campus.  

On a personal note, both of my grandparents were students of Cody, my grandmother attended during the tumultuous year of 1910-1911.  Because of that relationship, my grandparents were the patients of Claude C. Cody, Jr., (1886-1959) an otolaryngologist who practiced in Houston and was one of the founders of the Houston Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital.  He was an officer in local, state, and national medical societies.

Cody, Jr., was also a trustee of Southwestern from 1934 to 1959.  Those were perilous years for SU’s financial health, and Cody was one of the trustees who managed to save the university. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

This Week in Texas Methodist History January 13

Bishop Mouzon Preaches at MEC and MECS Churches in Brenham, January 13, 1919

My local church membership is at Brenham FUMC which is the successor church to Giddings Memorial MECS Church and 4th Street MEC Church.  Exactly one hundred years ago, the beloved Bishop Edwin Dubose Mouzon preached in both the churches on the same Sunday.   My evidence for calling him beloved is the number of preachers who named their sons in his honor.  Several of those sons named Mouzon later became Texas Methodist preachers. 

Mouzon was born in Spartanburg, SC, in 1869 and attended Wofford College.  He was admitted to the Texas Conference in 1899 and served churches in Bryan, Austin, Caldwell, Galveston, Flatonia, Abilene, Fort Worth and San Antonio (Travis Park).  He also preached in Kansas City and was professor of theology at Southwestern University until his election as bishop in 1910.  In addition to his episcopal duties, he was also founding Dean of Theology as SMU.  He presided over annual conferences form Montana to Brazil.  

In January 1919 he was a single man, having lost his wife Mary in 1917.  Out of that grief came his book Does God Care?   In August 1919 he remarried.
His Sunday in Brenham began at Giddings Memorial with a sermon, “The Personality of God.”   That night he preached t 4th Street on “Thy Kingdom Come.” 

January 1919 was an important year in MEC-MECS relations.   The two denominations had cooperated during World War I supplying YMCA staff and support.  The two denominations were in the middle of talks to explore the possibility of reunification.  The most obvious manifestation of the cooperative spirit was the Centenary Campaign.  In observance of the centennial of the first official Methodist Episcopal Church mission in 1819 to the Wyandot People, the branches of Methodism cooperated on a massive fund raising campaign for both foreign and domestic missions.   Volunteers called “five minute men” gave five minute talks to solicit funds for the mission projects.  In Brenham that five minute man was Professor J. L. Neu of Blinn Memorial College—just one block from 4th Street Church. 

Mouzon died at his home in Charlotte NC, in 1937, but his body was returned to Dallas for burial.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

This Week in Texas Methodist History  January 6

Pastor Whipple Publishes Annual Sunday School Report for Houston, January 9, 1845

We have devoted several columns to the difficult travel conditions faced by Methodist Circuit Riders, Presiding Elders, and Bishops during the Republic Era.  There is an often overlooked corollary to that story of privation and sacrifice.  While the clergy were facing such difficulties, laity were keeping the church together during the extended absences of the clergy.   

Methodism during the Republic Era was structured to give considerable power and responsibility to laity.  The class leader was probably the most responsible lay official, but the stewards, Sunday School Superintendent, and Sunday School teachers were also important.  When mandatory membership in a class was abandoned, the Sunday School Superintendent became the most important lay leadership position in a congregation.

On January 9, 1845, Rev. J. W. Whipple of the Houston’s MEC church printed the annual report of the Sunday School in the Houston Telegraph and Texas Register.  Here is an edited version.

The School was opened the second day of April eighteen hundred and forty-three, under the auspices of the Rev. T. O. Summers as Superintendent, and S. J,. Wood, Esq, as Secretary and Librarian, with 4 teachers, viz, 3 male and 1 female and with 16 scholars, viz,  9 male and 7 female.  This being the first Sunday School organized by the Methodist Episcopal Church in Houston.  It gradually increased for the first three-quarters of the year.  But for some time after, the institution languished, on account of the absence of the Pastor. 

But through the on going industry of the Acting Superintendent, S. J. R. Wood, Esq., the school was kept up and rapidly increased in number.

On the first of June, 1841, there was a new organization of the School under the direction of Rev. J W. Whipple.  When it was found, there were 15 teachers, viz., 8 male and 7 female.  69 scholars, 40 male and 29 female. 
. . . much credit is due the officers and teachers of the School for the energy and persistence which they have shown in persecuting the interest of the cause.   

Of particular interest is Whipple’s mentioning that the Sunday School languished on account of the absence of the pastor, Rev. T. O. Summers.   The absence was more than the consequence of having two churches although Summers did divide his time between Galveston the Houston.  The really long absence was due to his fund raising trip back to the United States.  Summers had transferred from the Baltimore Conference so he decided to return there to raise money for Galveston and Houston.  He made the trip overland which meant he was gone months instead of weeks. 
Summers was able to secure a generous donation from William Ryland, Chaplain of the U. S. House of Representatives.  That was the origin of Ryland Chapel in Galveston.  He also secured some donations for Houston. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History  December 30

First Week of January 1845  First Documented Evidence of Women Attending Annual Conference

Surviving documents relating to Texas Methodist History during the Republic Era are overwhelming male dominated.  Although we know from rosters of membership in churches and missionary societies that women made up a substantial portion of the church,  their participation is not as well documented as that of men. 
Although the documentation is scant, we know that women including Lydia McHenry, Ann Ayres, Martha Richardson, Maria Kenney, and Eliza Alexander provided much of the energy to the Methodist movement.

Among the documents showing women’s involvement are Lydia McHenry’s letters, now in the archives of the Chicago Historical Society.  That collection shows her to be a strong-willed, intelligent woman who was so dedicated to the Methodist movement that she undertook the arduous journey from Texas to New York City to attend the 1844 General Conference.  

The first reference to women attending the Texas Annual Conference comes obliquely.  In the first week of January, 1845, Homer Thrall was making his way to San Augustine to attend Annual Conference.  About where Chappell Hill now exists, he fell into the company of Robert and Eliza Alexander and Chauncey and Martha Richardson also on their way to Annual Conference. 

Both women were stalwarts of the Methodist Church in the Republic.  Eliza was the daughter of David Ayres, the most prominent layman of the era.  She had grown up immersed in Methodism in both New York and Texas.  Martha was married to Chauncey Richardson, president of Rutersville College, and Martha was in charge of the women’s division of the school.  Chauncey spent most his time traveling to secure financial backing for the school, and Martha is the one who managed affairs in his absence.

We comb through other records to find women’s participation.  Celia Craft of Bastrop County is the earliest African American Methodist women whom I can document.  It is recorded that Martha Richardson was asked to give a public prayer at a camp meeting. 

It took until 1956 for women to receive full ordination rights in the Methodist Church even though in a real sense women had been the backbone of Methodism for decades.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History December 23

This week let us follow the travels of Jesse Hord in 1838.

December 23   Am thirty miles from Houston and no intervening settlements;  a cold northwest wind howling loudly; However, I set out for the city; did not travel far before encountering a swollen creek.  No alternative I entered its turbid waters; my horse being brave, strong, and a good swimmer, bore me safely to the desired shore.  Now a vast prairie (the first I had seen), lay before me flooded with water.  No use to mind this---already wet from the swimming—so forward I go with a cold norther playing sportively on my back.  At evening the city was entered; put up at the City Hotel, crowded to uncomfortableness; yet, by pressing gained a seat in front of the blazing fire where I remained until 10 o’clock p.m. when I sought rest in sleep. 

December 24   I arose refreshed.  After breakfast went out to make acquaintances, especially two ministers said to be in the city.  I soon found Rev. Mr. Allen, Presbyterian, with whom satisfactory arrangements were made for harmonious preaching in the city.  I next visited Congress which was in session; had an introduction to several members; all of whom received me cordially; spoke in high terms of the importance of the gospel being preached in Texas; gave many good wishes for success, and promised every assistance that lay in their power to render.

December 25 This sacred day I spent in travel through mud and water, in transit from Houston to Richmond on the Brazos.  

December 26    Spent in Richmond; preached at night to a good congregation; good feeling, much interest; the Holy Spirit rests upon many, Hallelujah! “God is Love.”

December 27    Hord started for San Felipe but a fierce norther forced him to take refuge in a house along the way.

December 28   Arrived in San Felipe and conferred with local preacher Henry Matthews who advised him NOT to try to form a congregation there.

December 29   Left San Felipe and rode 40 miles to Egypt.  He stopped at the first house to ask for shelter.  It turned out to be the house of Dr. John Sutherland.

This week—December 23-29, 1838, is one of the most grueling weeks ever attempted by a Methodist circuit rider.  Little did Hord know that the New Year would bring even more privation, cold, and wet.  Hord spent the next few months mainly in Matagorda and Brazoria Counties---huge expanses of coastal prairie with little timber for shelter and many swollen creeks to cross.  He stayed true to his mission. 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History December 16

Bishop Morris, Clark family, and Josiah Whipple Enter Texas December 17, 1841.

19th century Methodist circuit riders were famous for riding long, exhausting circuits to bring the Word of God to scattered communities in relatively unpopulated areas.  Presiding Elders traveled even more than the circuit riders because they went to every appointment in their districts 4 times per year.  Bishops traveled even greater distances, and their absences from home were counted in months rather than weeks.

Not only did they travel great distances to preside over the annual conferences to which they were assigned, they found time to write letters back to Christian Advocate telling about their travels. 

During the Republic of Texas, Bishops Waugh, Morris, Andrew, and Janes all came to the Republic of Texas.   Fortunately for historians we have accounts written by Waugh, Morris, and Andrew for 1840, 1841, and 1843.  Bishop Roberts was assigned for 1842, but he became ill in Arkansas, and returned home to Indiana where he died. Bishop Soule barely missed presiding over a Texas Conference session during the Republic Era.  Texas was annexed Dec. 29, 1845.  Soule came to Houston the first week of January 1846 for the Texas Conference and to Marshall  the last week of January 1846 for the East Texas Conference.

On December 17, 1841, Bishop Morris and his travelling companions crossed the Sabine at Gaines Ferry and set foot on Texas soil for the first time.   The companions consisted of volunteers from Illinois, John Clark and his family and Josiah Whipple. 

Clark and Whipple had come from northern Illinois, nearly 1000 miles.  They met Bishop Morris in St. Louis and travelled the rest of the way.  Bishop Morris wrote

Our time from St. Louis was two months; but deducting the Sabbath and other days when we stopped to preach, we were actually on the road thirty-seven days, and slept in our own camps twenty nights

Why did the party not book steamship passage to Rodney, Mississippi, and ride comfortably for a good portion of the way?  One reason was that Bishop Morris needed to preside over the Arkansas Conference in Batesville.  The other reason was that Mrs. Clark was in the traveling party and by avoiding the steamboat, they could also avoid cigars, whiskey, and rude language.    They did encounter some rough characters on the way.  One night Clark was put in a room with a man who had customized weapon—a flintlock pistol to which a Bowie knife blade had been affixed so that the butt of the pistol served as the knife grip.  Clark was so alarmed by the fearsome weapon that he left the room.

The 2nd session of the Texas Annual Conference convened in San Augustine on the 23rd in one of the few church building of any denomination in Texas in 1841.  There were twenty three preachers 16 members and 7 men On Trial.  They reported a membership of 2795 which seemed like rapid growth since the Texian Mission started its work in the autumn of 1837.   On Monday night of Conference, the Missionary Society service was held.  As was true throughout Republic era Texas, there was little cash to contribute so donors contributed pledges of land, either town lots or fractions of leagues. 

After the Conference, instead of heading home to Illinois, Bishop Morris, headed for Austin where his son lived.  His son, Thomas Asbury Morris had been acting Attorney General in the last days of the Lamar administration.  Sam Houston’s second inauguration meant he was losing that position.   Bishop Morris and Thomas A. Morris left Austin and made it back to Illinois in time to be with Mrs. Morris on her deathbed.

Whipple stayed in Texas for the rest of his career preaching mainly in the Austin area.  He lived to the age of 80.  John Clark is of course remembered as the only delegate from one of the Southern conferences to side with the north at the General Conference of 1844.  After the General Conference he stayed in the North.  Quarterly conferences all across Texas passed resolutions denouncing Clark’s vote.  He replied to those resolutions in open letters to the Christian Advocate.  Robert B. Wells, the Brenham preacher and son-in-law of Orcenth Fisher replied to those Advocate articles with letters of his own.  The Clark-Wells journalistic exchanges eventually led to Wells creating his own Texas version of the Advocate, and thus Texas Methodist journalism was born.

Clark eventually ended up back in Chicago where some sources give him credit for influencing Mrs. Eliza Garrett to leave funds for the establishment of what is known today as Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary.  Unfortunately he did not live to see the Seminary grow.  It was established in 1853 and his memoir is in the Rock River Conference Journal of 1854. 

Saturday, December 08, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History   December 9

Texas and East Texas Conference Reunited December 1902

The MECS General Conference of 1902 erased the division created by the General Conference of 1844 and reunited the East Texas and Texas Conferences. 
Although the big news of the 1844 General Conference was the controversy surrounding slavery, delegates also authorized the division of the Texas Conference into the Western Texas Conference and the Eastern Texas Conference.  The boundary between the two conferences was the Trinity River.    There had been several boundary changes after that.  In 1858 the western portion of the Texas Conference was broken off to from the Rio Grande Mission Conference (a predecessor of today’s Rio Texas Conference.)   After the Civil War the northern portions of both the Texas and East Texas Conferences were split off to form the Trinity (today’s North Texas) and Northwest Texas (today’s Central and Northwest Texas Conferences). 

There were a few other changes.  In 1866 the newly created Trinity Conference was assigned Marion, Cass, Bowie, and adjacent counties, but the East Texas Conference got them back later.  In 1894 delegates to General Conference realized rivers in urban areas do not make good boundaries so there were adjustments to the North Texas and Northwest Texas boundaries in Dallas and Tarrant Counties. 

In 1900 the Northwest Texas Conference was by far the largest Texas annual conference.  It stretched from Williamson to Dallam Counties—roughly Round Rock to Dalhart.  It included Bell, McLennan, Tarrant counties in the east and the rapidly growing railroad cities of Abilene, Lubbock, and Amarillo in the west.  

In the meantime, the West Texas, East Texas, and Texas Conferences were being left behind as a percent of total Texas Methodist population.  The 1902 reunion of the Texas and East Texas Conferences partially remedied that situation and also helped the West Texas (today’s Rio Texas) by breaking the Austin District from the Texas Conference and giving it to the West Texas Conference. 

Crockett was chosen as the site of the 1902 Annual Conference at which the reunion would take place.  Bishop Eugene R. Hendrix presided that year.   The new conference had the following Districts:   Calvert, Brenham, Houston, San Augustine, Beaumont, Pittsburg, Palestine, Tyler, and Huntsville. 

Since the two conferences were being reunited, the Conference Secretary, J. W. Downs, decided to include a pictorial directory in that year’s Journal.  The 1902 Journal therefore exists as a valuable resources for genealogists and historians.