This Week in Texas Methodist History February 28
Cowboychurch.net lists 297 affiliated cowboy churches in Texas. They are widely distributed across the state and have some very interesting ministries. They often meet in rodeo arenas, barns, and commercial buildings. I cannot speak from personal knowledge, but perhaps they are carrying on in the tradition of James T. Hosmer. His whole ministry was to cowboys on the Texas plains.
Hosmer was born in Alabama in 1848. He entered the ministry in 1874 and admitted on trial as a local preacher in the North West Texas Conference in 1879. Bishop McTyeire sent him to the Colorado Mission, a frontier region along the Colorado River. At the next conference he reported receiving 32 new converts, 22 transfers by letter, and baptizing 42 babies. For this year’s work he had been paid $71. The next year Bishop Pierce appointed him to the Hardeman Mission, 40,000 square miles without railroads, wagon roads, or bridges. Most of the inhabitants lived in dugouts or tents. The region was subject to sand storms. The Pease, Wichita, Red, the Brazos Rivers and their tributaries often had quicksand in their beds. The heat of summer and cold of winter made this circuit a dangerous and difficult one.
Hosmer developed a special bond with the cowboys to whom he preached.
John Barcus wrote of him
And how he loved those cow-boys! What cared he for a high steeple church with polished pews and carpeted aisles! He had the green grass for a carpet, God's stars for a chandelier and earnest, honest men, hungry for the bread of life as his audience. As he talked to them around their camp fires of God and mother and home and heaven, while the tears chased each other down his rugged face, their hearts were strangely warmed. Then they would sing together those grand gospel melodies they had heard their mothers sing in the old home back in the States
On March 1, 1881 Hosmer fell victim to one of the scoundrels of the West. Here it is in his words
On the night of March 1, I stayed all night with a Mr. Chounning about 1 ½ miles from a little village called Vernon, containing two family groceries and a beer saloon. On that night some evil minded person came to where I had put up and robbed me. They stole two revolvers worth $35, one overcoat, one heavy shawl, one pair of gloves, forty feet of stake rope, besides some of my daughter’s clothing.
The rigors of travel wore Hosmer down. He settled on land he pre-empted in Greer County. It was there that he died and was buried in August 1893 at the age of 45.