Friday, July 16, 2010

This Week in Texas Methodist History July 18

Robert Alexander Apprises Littleton Fowler of Church Affairs in the West July 23, 1845

Both Robert Alexander and Littleton Fowler attended the Louisville Convention of 1845 and participated in planning the official secession of the Southern conferences of the MEC to create the MEC South. The trip to Louisville naturally meant that both men had long absences from Texas. In Alexander’s case, he used the opportunity to visit relatives in Tennessee on his way home. He arrived home on June 10 and rested at his farm, Cottage Hill, rather than plunging into his duties as presiding elder. His horse, Henry Bascom, also needed the rest since the mount had “ verry rotten feet.”

Even though he was not making his quarterly conference rounds or attending the camp meetings in his district, the preachers in his district were sending reports. There were the usual reports of conversions at camp meetings. Alexander also passed on complaints he was hearing. The first was discontent over his fellow presiding elder, Chauncey Richardson. He wrote, “he is not popular with his preachers nor with the people generally.” He also wrote that the young preachers were grumbling about having to collect the missionary appropriation. Naturally there were still complaints against John Clark, the only Southern delegate to the General Conference of 1844 who had sided with the North. Alexander’s district was a particular hotbed of anti-Clark sentiment. The resolution condemning him had been introduced at a quarterly meeting at Travis, about 10 miles west of Cottage Hill. Alexander also reported that preachers blamed him and Fowler went appointments went sour.

Does all this sound familiar? Preachers complaining about apportionments and blaming the presiding elder or district superintendent when they receive a bad appointment—sounds like some things never change. The original letter is in the Fowler Collection at Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, SMU.


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