Saturday, September 26, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History September 27

T. O. Summers Leaves Houston on Camp Meeting Tour Sept. 29, 1841

Thomas O. Summers, later to become an important author and editor of MECS publications, came to Texas from the Baltimore Conference in 1840 and served the Galveston/Houston appointment. He maintained a correspondence with the editors of both the Christian Advocate in New York and the Ladies' Repository. That correspondence was printed and informed Americans about the church in the Republic of Texas. On Sept. 29, 1841 Summers began a two week excursion into the interior to participate in two camp meetings. His account of that excursion was printed in the Advocate.

The preacher left Houston on a Wednesday, the 29th of September, 1841. His transportation was provided by a Mr. Davidson who loaned him a “cream colored Spanish pony.” On Friday, after three days on horseback, he arrived at the Rutersville Camp Ground. When he arrived, he discovered that Robert Alexander, the presiding elder of the district, had suffered the death of his son, Robert Franklin Alexander, on Thursday (one week before the child’s first birthday). Alexander would not attend. Jesse Hord was too sick to come, and Abner Manly would only preach once in the three day meeting. That left the burden of the preaching to Summers and John Wesley Kenney.

Summers informed Advocate readers of the progress at Rutersville College. He described a 52 by 26 foot two story building that was almost finished.
On Monday Summers left Rutersville in high style. Instead of the Spanish pony, he was offered a seat in David Ayres’s fine carriage.(The deceased infant was Ayres' grandson.) They rode through the beautiful prairies in Fayette and Washington Counties and arrived at Robert Alexander’s home, Cottage Hill, in northern Austin County. He rested with the grieving Robert and Eliza Alexander, and on Wednesday left in Ayres’s carriage for Montgomery.
The route to Montgomery was quite difficult. They got lost in muddy woods and the party had resigned itself to sleeping in the woods when a horseman came and advised them that they were only a mile from the camp. He guided them to the site which Summers described as consisting of log cabins and a shed (tabernacle) large enough to accommodate several hundred worshipers.

Samuel Williams, the presiding elder, was too sick to come, and Jesse Hord was still sick, so Kenney and Summers once again did most of the preaching. Robert Alexander also participated.

Summers returned to Houston where he was delighted to learn that a lay man named Moore had been conducting prayer meetings in his absence.

When Bishop Andrew came to hold the 1843 Texas Annual Conference, he took Summers with him and transferred him to Alabama. It was from that conference that Summers later went to Nashville for a ministry of writing and publishing.


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