Saturday, January 02, 2010

This Week in Texas Methodist History January 3

Cornerstone Laid at San Augustine, January 7, 1838

Sunday, January 7, 1838, was an eventful day in San Augustine. It was on that day that Littleton Fowler presided at a cornerstone laying which he described as “the first one of a Protestant Church ever laid west of the Sabine River.”

The previous September he had started the process by securing a lot and appointing trustees. He then went on to Center Hill and Houston. Fowler spent most of the rest of 1837 in Houston serving as Chaplain in the Legislature and lobbying for a charter for a Methodist school.

When the Legislature adjourned, he hurried back to East Texas and found that trustees were ready to begin construction. The ceremony was conducted with the rites of the Masonic Order. One of Fowler’s last actions in Houston had been on December 20 when he participated in the organization of the Grand Lodge of Texas. Sam Houston was the presiding officer and his colleague, the Rev. Henry Matthews also participated. The Grand Lodge encompassed the three lodges then in existence in the Republic of Texas. Two days later, on Friday, Dec. 22, Fowler left Houston in the company of Thomas Jefferson Rusk, the famed war hero who now represented Nacogdoches in the Congress of the Republic of Texas.

The journey from Houston to San Augustine took six days. About “five or eight hundred” persons assembled on the 7th for the cornerstone laying. About fifty Masons participated. Fowler gave an address and then Rusk followed “in his usual forceful and eloquent style.”

Fowler stayed in East Texas until the following April. He alternated Sundays between San Augustine and Nacogdoches. He also courted the widow, Missouri Lockwood Porter, whom he would marry the following June. The church in San Augustine became an important center for Methodism in Texas. The second and fifth sessions of the Texas Annual Conference were held there.


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