Sunday, June 24, 2007

This Week in Texas Methodist History, June 24

W. Y. Allen reports on religious efforts in Houston, June, 1838

It may be difficult for some to think of Houston as a crude town of log buildings and muddy streets, but that’s how travelers described it in its early years. Some of the best descriptions come from a Presbyterian missionary, William Y. Allen, who lived in Texas from 1838-1842.
When missionaries go to unchurched lands, they often see the virtue of cooperating with missionaries from other denominations rather than engaging in doctrinal debates. Such was the case with Rev. Allen and the Methodist missionaries who came to Houston. Allen cultivated a close friendship with Littleton Fowler with whom he served as Chaplain in the Congress of the Republic of Texas (Fowler in the House, Allen in the Senate) and also formed a high opinion of Robert Alexander and Martin Ruter.

Some of Allen’s correspondence with Fowler is preserved at Bridwell Library at SMU. He also kept a diary. Excerpts from June, 1838 follow:

Sabbath, June 3, Preached at the Navy Yard (Galveston) 10:30 A. M. Said to be the second ever preached on the island. . . .nearly devoured by mosquitoes at night.

Sabbath, June 10. Preached twice this day (in Houston); much liberty in the evening service. . .a falling off in the size of the congregation as the weather gets warmer.

Friday, June 15 Spent the afternoon in opening and distributing a box of Bibles and Testaments, one hundred of each in the box; a donation from the A. B. Society, May the Holy Spirit, whose sword the word is, guide in its distribution.
. .

Monday, June 18 Had a long conversation with a professed Deist; said he believed in one God, that he loved him and worshiped him, that he admired the Bible for its morality, etc. He admitted that he did not wish his children brought up in the principles of Deism. I fear he trying to believe a lie.

Tuesday, June 19 Had a long talk with an eccentric man, who thinks he has made some singular discoveries in relation to the plan of salvation, faith, etc. I rather suspect him of egotism, inclined to Campbellism. He seems to like to hear himself talk.

Allen left Texas in 1842 and in 1845 became president of his alma mater, Centre College. He served in that post for fourteen years and then took pastorates in Kentucky and Indiana.

One can read more of Rev. Allen’s diary at the link which follows.

EXTRACTS FROM THE DIARY OF W. Y. ALLEN, 1838-1839 ", Volume 017, Number 1, Southwestern Historical Quarterly Online, Page 43 - 60.


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