Saturday, August 07, 2010

This Week in Texas Methodist HIstory August 8

Committee Convenes at Rutersville to Examine Charges Against Preacher Aug. 9, 1854

An incident in June, 1854, led to formal charges against Rev. Joshua Shepard. Henry Tatum was the accuser, and the formal charge was engaging in “unministerial, immoral, and unchristian behavior.” The victim was Rev. Walsh, a recent transfer from the Memphis Conference. Josiah Whipple, the Presiding Elder of the Rutersville District assembled a committee consisting of Homer Thrall, I. G. John, and George Tittle. They heard eight specifications.

1. When at the Tatum home, Mrs. Tatum asked Shepard how Rev. Walsh was getting along with his congregation. Shepard answered in a “reproachful, envious, and blasphemous manner, they think he is next to Jesus Christ.”
2. Several weeks later at the Wallace home, Shepard lured Walsh outside and assailed him with oaths and blows.
3. He had an armed accomplice with him to help him if necessary, in the incident in #2.
Specifications 4 through 8 all deal with Shepard’s lying about beating Walsh. The lies were not denials of the beating, but exaggeration of the violence including the use of a stick he had deliberately prepared for the purpose.

The committee answered “not sustained” to all nine charges even though Shepard admitted the beating. How did he get off? Shepard’s defense was that Walsh had insulted the memory of his dead mother, and the insult had put him in such a state of mind, he wasn’t responsible for his actions. Now that he had calmed down, he sincerely repented. Thrall, John, and Tittle concluded their report, “”We consider his course hasty and imprudent, and in order to honor the law of the Church, we would direct his Presiding Elder to administer such reproof as he may see property.”

You may read the entire report in the pages of the Texas Ranger, Aug. 17, 1854. at the Portal to Texas History. Use the :advanced search.” Use Whipple as the search term and limit the date range to 1854.


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