Saturday, February 18, 2012

This Week in Texas Methodist History February 19

Macum Phelan, Historian of Texas Methodism, Born in Tennessee, Feb. 22, 1874

Macum Phelan is well known as the author of a two volume history of Texas Methodism.  The first volume was published in 1924 and covered the years 1817-1866.  The second appeared in 1937 and covered the years 1867-1902

Phelan was born February 22, 1874 in Tennessee and was orphaned in childhood.  When he was sixteen, he moved to McLennan County, Texas to live with older brothers.  He earned enough as a cow hand to attend the University of Texas and obtain a teaching certificate.  He taught in McLennan County for several years, and in 1900 bought a newspaper, the Moody Courier
A compelling call to preach caused him to leave journalism and return to the University of Texas to study for the Methodist ministry.  His first appointment was to the Westbrook Circuit in 1904.  That was followed by appointments to Roscoe, Baird, Chillicothe, Childress, the Vernon District, and Big Spring.  In 1926 Phelan transferred to California and served Sacramento, the Sacramento District, and Yuba City.  He transferred back to Texas and served Hamilton, Crawford, and Haslet. 

In sprite of serving as a pastor and presiding elder, teaching at various summer schools, and encampments, Phelan had time to research and write.  He edited A Handbook of All Denominations which appeared in 1915 and continued through several editions to 1933. 

His most significant literary contribution was his two volume history of Texas Methodism.  Those volumes rely heavily upon the annual conference journals, but Phelan also used manuscript materials such as the Addison papers and published memoirs and biographies.  Blindness brought his an end to both his literary and ministerial careers.  He took the superannuated relationship in 1939.  He died in Fort Worth in 1950 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Tarrant County


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