Saturday, July 30, 2011

This Week in Texas Methodist History July 30

Camp Meeting on the Sabinal Interrupted by Indian Raid August, 1859

The MECS General Conference of 1858 created the Rio Grande Conference, the predecessor of today’s Southwest Texas Conference, by breaking off the southernmost charges of the Texas Conference. Naturally the new conference needed preachers to evangelize the thinly settled Rio Grande Conference. Bishop George F. Pierce presided at the 1858 Georgia Annual Conference and transferred two of its members, Jesse Boring and Hamilton G. Horton, to the Rio Grande Conference. The two preachers were to have vastly different experiences. Boring was also a physician, and Pierce appointed him to San Antonio where he would be both a preacher and president of San Antonio Female Academy.

Horton, on the other hand, would have to forego the comforts of cosmopolitan San Antonio. He was appointed to the Uvalde Mission, a rugged land teeming with dangers. Instead of school book and physician’s kit, he would carry six-shooters, shotguns, and a Bowie knife. He would need them all. The San Antonio-Castroville-Hondo-Uvalde Road (present Highway 90) was the main road west. California gold seekers used it, Bishop Pierce used it when he when to California to hold annual conference. Although the U. S. Army built forts to protect the route, travelers were subject to robbers, rustlers, and all types of criminals.

In August 1859, in Horton’s first year on the Uvalde Mission, he was holding a camp meeting on the Sabinal River (Uvalde County). Here is a portion of his memoir on what happened at the camp meeting.

In August we held a camp meeting on the Sabinal just below where the Southern Pacific railroad now crosses the stream (the farthest west at that time of any camp-meeting in the State) assisted by the presiding elder and one other missionary. In the midst of the meeting, just at the close of a late night service, a scout dashed into camp shouting, 'Indians!" Some of the sisters had been making a racket over the conversion of one or two cow-boys and one good sister had gone into a trance. The shout of "Indians" hushed everything else and soon recalled the sister from the spirit land, where she seemed to have been wandering, and before that night was over all of us were ready to send the red brother on a long journey to the "happy hunting-grounds." A large band of Indians had passed down within a few miles of the camp-meeting and stole a herd of horses six miles below us. Rations were prepared quickly, and most of the men were on horseback and off like a flash. They followed the Indians for several days, recaptured many of the horses and killed several of the raiders. The women, children and old men were hustled off at daylight to a rock house and forted up. The last I saw of the class-leader that night he was riding with the exhorter at full tilt to give a 'red brother" a bit of his own experience . . .

When the Civil War came, Boring returned to Georgia and became a Confederate chaplain/physician. San Antonio Female College collapsed. Horton, though, stayed in Texas. He was appointed to the Goliad Circuit where on Dec. 24, 1860 he spent the night with the Henry Hardt family in Weesatche. That visit led to the conversion of the family, and the rest is history.

In his old age Horton became interested in Texas Methodist history. He was a frequent contributor to the Texas Methodist Historical Quarterly (1909-1911) from which this exerpt is taken.


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