Saturday, November 21, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History November 22

Francis Asbury Mood Attends Texas Conference for the First Time November 25, 1868

Few preachers in Texas Methodist history have transferred into more dismal prospects than did Francis Asbury Mood who came to the Texas Conference from the South Carolina Conference in the fall of 1868. The thirty-eight year old Mood had had already accomplished much in South Carolina and had accepted the presidency of Soule University in Chappell Hill. Unfortunately Soule University did not appear to have a bright future. It had a charter, a building, and a board of trustees, but the building was in bad shape, it lacked students, and was $17,000 in debt. The Civil War and yellow fever epidemic of 1867 (see column for July 23, 2006) had all but killed Soule University.
Mood arrived via rail in Chappell Hill and was greeted by chair of the trustees R. W. Kennon. He also met another transfer from South Carolina, W. G. Connor, who had previously arrived to take over the Chappell Hill Female College. That night a heavy rain fell so the next day when he went to inspect the facilities, Mood discovered the difficulties of the “black waxy” soil. It was wonderfully fertile cotton growing soil, but almost impossible when wet. Mood arrived at the building and found that the roof leaked badly. The whole building wet and musty.

Mood settled his family in Chappell Hill. That was easy. The yellow fever epidemic had created an exodus. The Mood family was offered their choice of six empty houses. He then hurried the short distance to Brenham where the Texas Conference convened on Nov. 25. The rains had delayed the arrival of most preachers. On Monday, Nov. 25, only 8 were present so they adjourned to await more arrivals.
The presiding bishop was David S. Doggett who had presided at the South Carolina Conference the previous winter. He was thus in a good position to introduce Mood to his new colleagues in Texas.

It was only when the Education Committee gave its report that Mood discovered the $17,000 indebtedness. The Soule Board of Trustees met at conference, and Mood asked for $150 to repair the roof. He was told that even that small sum was beyond their means.
He returned to Chappell Hill and threw himself into the difficult task at hand. Mood did reopen Soule in January, but he realized that a stronger university, a “Central University” supported by all the conferences in Texas, was needed. He devoted himself to that task. The result was Southwestern University.


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