Saturday, March 05, 2011

this Week in Texas Methodist HIstory March 6

Andrew Davis born at Jonesborough March 10, 1827

The first Methodist preacher to have been born within the present boundaries of Texas was probably Andrew Davis, born at Jonesborough on March 10, 1827. Jonesborough was on the Red River, and although the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819 had made the south bank of the Red River Spanish (and later Mexican) territory, the Spanish and Mexican authorities made little effort to exercise sovereignty in the area. The Red River settlements consisted of frontier settlements mainly populated by immigrants from Missouri and Tennessee who lived beyond governmental reach. They lived by hunting, trapping, and some farming, and trading. His father, Daniel Davis, immigrated to Jonesborough in 1818.

His mother died when he was only five years old so he had no memories of her. Years later, when Davis was stationed at Huntsville, he learned about his mother from Sam Houston who had stayed at the Davis house upon his coming to Texas (Dec. 10-20, 1832. Nancy Davis died the following January 20.) After his mother’s death, his father wandered in northeast Texas, eventually living in the Teneha District (Shelby County). It was there that Andrew, at age 8, killed his first bear. Daniel Davis took young Andrew to Fort Lyday near the Lamar/Fannin County line and remarried. One night when Andrew was away at the fort, the Davis household was attacked by Indians, and Daniel Davis was killed. Young Andrew was orphaned again. His stepmother remarried, and the young Andrew was taken even further west.

Meanwhile some of his father’s friends decided to show their love for the father by taking care of the son. They agreed to send the 14 year old Andrew to school, and the closest school was the one that J. W. P. McKenzie was starting near Clarksville.

His sponsors secured passage from a teamster with an ox-drawn wagon to take Davis to Clarksville. He arrived in the middle of a camp meeting. Andrew wrote later that his sole knowledge of religion at the time consisted of hearing men swearing and telling people to go to hell. As they arrived at the camp meeting, McKenzie was in the preacher’s stand. (Preachers of the era often preached from elevated platforms with rails.) Because of his complete ignorance of religion, Davis thought McKenzie had been confined against his will, and the ranting and wild gesticulations were efforts to free himself.

Mrs. Matilda McKenzie met Davis and welcomed him into their home. He finally had a loving Christian family. He progressed rapidly under Professor McKenzie’s instruction and was licensed to preach at 17 and admitted to the East Texas Conference in January, 1845, by Bishop Janes. His first appointment was to the Paris Circuit. He rode that circuit and thus began his ministerial career. His first appointments were in northeast Texas: Bonham, Boston, Clarksville, then back to Paris. He located for two years to nurse his sick wife, and when he returned to the ministry, it was in the Texas Conference. He held appointments in Battle Creek (near Dawson in Navarro County), Springfield, Huntsville, Cold Spring, Bedias, Plantersville, and back to Springfield and Mount Calm.

He located again because of throat troubles, and when he took an appointment again, it was in the Northwest Texas Conference as Presiding Elder of the Waxahachie District. He then moved to Corsicana District, and to Chatfield and Fairfield. He was elected General Conference delegate and to the board at Southwestern University. The ravages of old age, including deafness, finally forced him into a superannuated relationship. He died in 1906 and was buried at Corsicana. Autobiographical materials were published in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, vol. 42, #2., available at.


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