Saturday, May 22, 2010

This Week in Texas Methodist History May 23

Camp Meeting at Spanish Springs Camp, May 26, 1843.

Many of the immigrants to Texas came as members of extended families who travelled together, coordinated land acquisition, and settled near one another. No group better illustrates that generalization than the so-called “Alabama Colony” who arrived in Texas in the winter of 1830. The colony consisted of members of the Heard, Sutherland, Menefee, Rector, Rogers, and White families. An advance party came to Texas to scout for land and then returned for the rest of the party.

The party left Tuscumbia, Alabama, and arrived in Texas between December 1830 and February 1831. They settled at Texana on the Navidad River in Jackson County and at Egypt in Wharton County. The soil was excellent, and they prospered. Several of the Alabamians played prominent roles in the Texas Revolution and formation of the new government. They were also strong Methodists and included at least one lay pastor, Samuel C. A. Rogers in the group.

The community of interrelated families became the southern-most Texas Methodist settlement in the late 1830s. Martin Ruter went there in December, 1837, only fifteen days after crossing the Sabine. On May 26, 1843, John Wesley DeVilbiss, and many other preachers, conducted a camp meeting six miles below Egypt at the Spanish Springs Camp.. May was not a typical month for a camp meeting since such events were usually scheduled in slack agricultural times, but this was a make up for a rained out meeting so they went ahead.

Some of the sons of the immigrant families became preachers. The Sutherland family, for example contributed A. H. Sutherland to the ministry. He devoted his life to Spanish Speaking congregations. Quinn Menefee was a promising member of the Texas Conference who died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1867. FUMC Ganado grew out of Roger’s Chapel, established by Samuel Rogers. The daughters were barred from ordained ministry, but Talitha Menefee (Quinn’s sister) married John Wesley DeVilbiss in 1845. Unfortunately she died in 1846.


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