Saturday, November 20, 2010

This Week in Texas Methodist History November 21

Schuyler Hoes Organizes Texas Bible Society November 25, 1838

The names of Ruter, Alexander, and Fowler are well known as the first officially appointed Methodist missionaries to Texas. The name of Schuyler Hoes is less well known, but he too was a Methodist missionary to the Republic of Texas. He is not known as well because he did not organize churches and circuits and was never under appointment by the Mission Board or the Mississippi Annual Conference.

Hoes was in Texas as an agent of the American Bible Society. The ABS had been formed in 1816 to translate and distribute copies of the Holy Scriptures. Its membership included clergy and laity from various Protestant denominations and numbered among its leadership some of the most distinguished public figures of the day including John Jay, John Quincy Adams, Francis Scott Key, and James Fennimore Cooper.

The ABS supplied Bibles to Texas as early as 1831 when it sent 30 Bibles and 70 Testaments via E. R. Butler and 100 more to American and Swiss colonists. The ABS got a real boost in 1834 when Sumner Bacon made Bible distribution his main work. He was successful in establishing a society in San Augustine. Bacon removed his work to Arkansas during the Texas Revolution, but there is evidence that the San Augustine Society continued.

Readers will remember that David Ayres received English and Spanish Bibles from the ABS’s New York City office on his way to Texas. In 1838 the ABS sent Schuyler Hoes of New York to Texas as its agent. Perhaps Ayres had some influence in the matter. He and Hoes had known each other in the 1826 revivals in Ithaca, New York. After his arrival in late 1838, Hoes made several trips inside Texas including ones to Egypt, San Augustine, and Centre Hill.

On November 25, 1838, he organized the Texas Bible Society in the Masonic Lodge in Houston. Records of the ABS reveal that the Hoes assignment to Texas was not intended to be a permanent one. He went back to New York and in August, 1839, was appointed to Utica in the Oneida Conference. Bishop Elijah Hedding wrote Littleton Fowler on November 15, 1839, informing him that Hoes would not be transferring to Texas. He later served St. Paul’s Church in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the New England Conference.

After Hoes returned to the United States, ABS business in the Republic of Texas was managed from Arkansas. That was not the end of Hoes's connection with Texas. When Littleton Fowler was in New York City for the General Conference of 1844, he reported sharing a meal with Schuyler Hoes. Fowler identified him as one of the abolitionists.


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