Saturday, January 09, 2010

This Week in Texas Methodist History January 10

Bishop Morris Stops to Visit Ruter’s Grave January 13, 1842

Bishop Thomas A. Morris presided over the second session of the Texas Annual Conference in San Augustine in December, 1841. Instead of returning directly home, he made a very long excursion to the new capital of the Republic of Texas. At least part of his motivation in undertaking such a journey was that his son, Francis Asbury Morris lived in Austin.

The Conference adjourned on December 30. By January 13 Morris and his party had reached the LaBahia Crossing of the Brazos River. Washington was on the west bank, and in Methodist circles, Washington was known as the site of Martin Ruter’s grave. Fortunately for us, Morris kept a journal. Here is the entry for January 13.

Thursday, 13th, the country appeared less inviting as we neared the Brazos river, though the bottom, on the east side, about three miles across, is rich enough to be very muddy. The river is, perhaps, eighty yards wide, and the banks very high and steep, but at present not much depth of water. As we ascended the hill from the ferry on the west side, we entered the town of Washington, late the seat of justice for Washington county, which contains, probably, about fifty or sixty houses, and is apparently on the decline, though in the midst of a fine country. Having proceeded west to the middle of the town, we turned at right angles to the north, about three hundred yards, to the old graveyard, which is situated on a dry ridge in open woods. Our business was to seek out the grave of Dr. Ruter, the apostle of Methodism in Texas, who died at his post May 16, 1838. The mournful spot sought for was easily found without a guide, the grave being inclosed by a stone wall, and covered with a white marble slab, three feet wide and six long, with a suitable inscription. At the foot of the slab stands a small hickory-tree, hung with Spanish moss, waving in the breeze over the charnel-house. As we stood under this tree reading the solemn epitaph, the sun was disappearing in the west, while a thousand thoughts of the past rushed upon our minds, and forcibly reminded us that our own days would soon be numbered. With Dr. Ruter I had often united in preaching the Gospel to crowded assemblies in Ohio and Kentucky. He now rests from all his toil, enjoying the promised reward; and if faithful to the grace given, may I not hope soon to join with him in the song of final and everlasting triumph? When we read on the cold marble, "thirty-seven years an itinerant minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and superintendent of the first mission of that Church in the republic of Texas," and then remembered that the same mission had already become a respectable annual conference, and was still increasing, the thought arose, whereunto will this mission grow, and what cause of rejoicing must this be to its first superintendent forever?


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