Saturday, January 21, 2012

This Week in Texas Methodist History, January 22

Bishop Morris Preaches to Students At Rutersville, January 23, 1842

The first five sessions of the Texas Annual Conference occurred before the annexation of Texas.  The presiding bishops and transferring preachers were thus engaged in a sort of foreign missionary project.
Presiding bishop
Dec. 1840
Dec. 1841
San Augustine
Dec. 1842
None (Roberts had been assigned, but illness prevented his attendance)
Dec. 1843
Walker’s (near Huntsville)
Jan. 1845
San Augustine
We are fortunate to have detailed travel accounts of three of the four episcopal visits to the Republic of Texas.  Bishop Thomas A. Morris provided one of the most interesting accounts because after he adjourned the second session of the Texas Annual Conference in San Augustine, he did not return to the United States.  Instead he took a grand tour all the way west to the frontier capital of Austin.

On Monday, October 19, 1841, Bishop Morris left St. Louis with John Clark and Josiah Whipple who were transferring from Illinois to Texas.  On Nov. 10 they reached Batesville, Arkansas, where Morris presided over the fifth session of the Arkansas Conference.  They crossed the Sabine at Gaines’ Ferry on Dec. 17 and reached San Augustine the next day.  Morris appointed Clark as Presiding Elder of the Rutersville District and Whipple to Austin, so the three men, who had already travelled 750 miles together, continued their journey. 

They reached Rutersville on January 19, and the following Sunday Morris preached in college chapel.  On Monday January 24 they continued on through Bastrop to Austin

They stayed at the residence of Judge James Webb about two miles from Austin where Bishop Morris was reunited with his son, Francis Asbury Morris who had become Attorney General of the Republic of Texas the previous March. President Lamar appointed A. G. Webb as minister to Mexico,. (a failed diplomatic mission) and F.A. Morris took his place.  Lamar’s presidential term ended, and as it did, so did Morris’s government position.  (NHOT entry on Webb,

Thomas Morris said goodbye to Clark and Whipple, and his son became his travelling companion back to the United States, reaching Cincinnati on March 1.  They learned that Mrs. Morris had become ill during her husband’s episcopal tour.  She died on May 17. 


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