This Week in Texas Methodist History December 27
The MEC General Conference of 1844 is best known for the arguments over slavery that led to the division to the denomination into northern and southern branches. The General Conference also divided the Texas Conference into the Eastern and Western Texas Conferences and shifted appointments in the Red River and Sulfur River settlements from the Arkansas Conference to the newly-created Eastern Texas Conference. It was planned that the Western Texas and Eastern Texas Conferences would meet concurrently at San Augustine on Jan. 8 with Bishop Janes presiding.
As 1844 drew to an end, and the first opening date for the first session of the Eastern Texas Conference neared, Littleton Fowler received advice about the appointments to the churches that had formerly been filled by Arkansas Conference preachers. J. W. P. McKenzie wrote Fowler a confidential letter from Itinerant’s Retreat near Clarksville. He suggested which preachers should be reappointed and which should be moved to new circuits. He even suggested that he would be willing to take over a district lying between the Red and Sulfur Rivers all the way to the headwaters of the Trinity, possibly extending all the way to Daingerfield.
Meanwhile, Jacob Custer, Presiding Elder of the Washington District of the Arkansas Conference also wrote to Fowler with a nomination for presiding elder of the newly-created Clarksville District in the Eastern Texas Conference. He suggested Mordecai Yell who was transferring to Texas from the Memphis Annual Conference. Yell was the brother of Archibald Yell congressman and governor of Arkansas. Another brother, Pleasant M. Yell was also transferring from the Memphis Conference to Texas.
As it turned out neither McKenzie nor Yell took over as Presiding Elder of the Clarksville District. That appointment went to Daniel Paine. McKenzie continued as schoolmaster. Yell didn’t even join the Eastern Texas Conference. He joined the Western Texas Conference and received a choice appointment, Presiding Elder of the Washington District. His brother Pleasant was in his district on the Nashville Circuit.