Saturday, February 06, 2010

This Week in Texas Methodist History February 7

John Haynie Preaches His First Sermon in Corpus Christi Feb. 8, 1846

John Haynie’s ministry is so closely tied to his work in Bastrop and Travis Counties, that we sometimes forget that he also served briefly as missionary to Corpus Christi—and what a mission field it was!

Haynie had been a preacher in Tennessee and Alabama when he followed his daughter’s family to Texas in 1838. He settled near her and her husband, John Caldwell, in Bastrop County. The government of the Republic of Texas was in the process of establishing Austin as its new capital on the western edge of settlement, and Haynie soon became friends with and minister to Methodists in Austin. He participated in the organization of the Texas Conference at Rutersville in Dec. 1840, organized Methodist churches in Austin and Webberville, and in 1841 moved to Rutersville.

1845 found him back in Austin where he was elected chaplain of the convention that approved annexation to the United States. He asked Bishop Soule for an appointment at the January, 1846 annual conference, and was sent as a missionary to Corpus Christi.

The previous September Zachary Taylor’s army had encamped near Corpus Christi, and the sleepy little trading post and post office became a boom town. In the 1840’s when the army moved, so did an accompanying horde of cooks, laundry workers, merchants, prostitutes, gamblers, con men, and other assorted hangers-on.

Haynie arrived on Feb. 4, preached his first sermon on Feb. 8, and on the 15th wrote a letter to the Southwestern Christian Advocate. Here are some excerpts

There is no law here; as the courts have not been organized as yet, and I must say, for a place where there is no law that can be brought to bear on crime, it is not as bad as I expected to find it. True, a few fellows get knocked down once and awhile, or shot or cut with a knife; but it is generally an unruly, drunken fellow, and there it ends, until he gets sober and knocks down some other drunken man, and so on to the end of the chapter. As it was when there was no king in Israel, every man walks in his own way or in the way of somebody else.
As to population I suppose soldiers and citizens, there must be somewhere between 5 and 7000 souls; and as to the character, of every hue ; the object of the citizens would seem to be to make money, and they seem to be of almost all nations ; some in houses, and some in cloth camps or cloth houses ; there are said to be some 50 groceries, two Theatres, and I am told some 500 gamblers here. In fact it is the world in miniature, and must be seen to know anything about it satisfactorily.

The Union Theatre was obtained for me to preach in, and on the Sabbath, the 8th, I preached my first sermon, to a very attractive and well behaved congregation. After preaching, I explained the object of my mission, and that if a house could be obtained, I should like to preach twice on Sabbath and on Thurs- day night; when Major Brion, the manager of the Theatre, politely stepped forward and offered the use of the Theatre, when not otherwise occupied, which I as politely accepted, as no other house could be obtained, and notified the congregation that they might expect preaching there every Sabbath unless otherwise advised. So you see I have attacked the enemy on his own ground; what will be the result, God only knows

John Haynie’s mission to Corpus Christi didn’t last. President Polk issued orders commanding General Taylor to proceed to the Rio Grande. On April 25 there was a skirmish between American and Mexican troops. Polk went to Congress with his famous request for a declaration of war, “American blood has been shed on American soil.” The Mexican War began.

After the troops and their camp followers left Corpus Christi, so did John Haynie. He returned to Rutersville where he died in 1860.


Post a Comment

<< Home