This Week in Texas Methodist History August 31
One year after the first camp meeting in “Western Texas” (see post for September 2, 2006), John Wesley Kenney, William Medford, and William Smith organized a second one in the same neighborhood (on a tributary of Caney Creek in present day Austin County). The 1835 camp meeting convened on Thursday September 3. Several participants later published their memories of the event. Here is the Rev. William P. Smith’s as he remembered it in 1850
Pleasant Grove, Fayette County, Texas,
October 26th, 1850.
Dear Brother Richardson:
By whom the camp-meeting, which was commenced on
Thursday, the 3d of September, 1835, on Caney, a tributary
of the Brazos river, Austin county, Texas, was appointed —
the writer of this article has no perfect recollection : but
presumes, by the Rev. John W. Kenney, from the fact, that
being a learned, able and zealous divine he had effected
much, not only through the influence of his eloquent discourses,
but emphatically by his "upright walk and godly
conversation" towards promoting vital godliness in these
southern wilds, on a general scale: but towards the establishment
of Methodism especially. The writer, who at that
time resided in the town of Washington, and divided his
time between the practice of medicine and preaching the
gospel after a ride of some twenty miles, arrived on Friday
evening at the camp meeting, and found it in progress.
On Saturday, a request was announced from the stand,
soliciting the Methodists present, who had filled official
stations in the church, in the states from which they had
emigrated (as we had yet no organized church here) to
convene at three o'clock, p. m., at a certain designated grove,
already consecrated by the spreading boughs of the forest
trees. A scene is now before us, long to be remembered in
the history of Methodism in Texas. At the second camp-
meeting ever held in the Province, the first Quarterly Conference,
for the Methodist Episcopal church, is about to be
At the appointed time, the following official members
attended: John W. Kenney, L. E., William P. Smith, L. E.,
William Medford, L. E., David Ayres, R. S., Alexander
Thompson, S., James Stevenson, S. and L., John Atkinson,
L. After a period of solemn prayer for the abrogation of
Catholicism, the grand spread of the pure principles of
gospel, and the advancement of the Redeemer's Kingdom
in these ends of the earth; accompanied by the blessings of
civil and religious liberty. Bro. Alexander Thompson was
called to the chair, and David Ayres appointed Secretary.
As this conference had to act ab initio, after mature deliberation,
as to the most approved modus operandi, the following
resolutions were adopted:
On motion of Bro. Kenney,
Resolved, that this committee be instructed to earnestly
request the Missionary Society of the M. E. Church in
the United States of America, to send us two efficient
ministers, who shall be authorized to organize societies
and administer the ordinances.
On motion of Bro. Kenney,
Resolved, that the ministers of this conference be requested
to present the names of all who join in society, to
our next Quarterly Conference.
Adjourned to meet at the house of Bro. Sam'l Gates,
on Saturday, the 24th of October next.
ALEXANDER THOMPSON, Chairman.
DAVID AYRES, Secretary