Saturday, January 05, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History January 5


Rev. Charles Goldberg Praises Texas Hospitality and Mackenzie College, January 5, 1855

The Rev. Charles Goldberg (1820-1890) was admitted to the Texas Conference at its 8th session which convened at Chappell Hill on Dec. 27, 1847.  Goldberg ranks among the most interesting of 19th century Texas Methodist ministers.  He was a Polish Jew, the son of a rabbi.  He immigrated to North America and traveled extensively in Canada and the United State.  He converted to Christianity. Among his other assignments was the German Mission in Houston which eventually became Bering Memorial UMC.  In 1854 he accepted a position at McKenzie College in Clarksville teaching languages.  Upon his arrival he wrote a letter to Rev. J. B. McFerrin, editor of the Christian Advocate in Nashville, Tennessee.  The letter is full of praise for Texas hospitality.  It also provides insights into the operation of McKenzie Institute.  It is reproduced below. 

ClarksvilleTexasJan. 5,1855. Rev. J. B. McferrinVery Dear Brother :—I take the liberty of introducing myself to you by the recommendation of one of your old acquaintances here, though I should not write exactly as you would like it. My object in writing is to assist in setting this State in its proper light before the people of the older States. First and foremost, then, is the character of our people. A person travelling on horseback through the State can have no idea of the hospitality practised here;, but when a man with a large family is obliged to move, without having the chance of camping out, as is almost universally practised here, he can easily point out those from different parts of the North and South. Last August I entered into an agreement with the Superintendent of the "McKenzie Institute," to come and engage as a teacher of Hebrew and Modern Languages. For this purpose, I had to move with my family some 300 miles. Packing my concerns into a two-horse wagon, I started; and, with the help of a few nails and some raw-hide and buckskin, I did very well for the first few days. You must know that I started from Milam County, one of the parts where, 6 or 7 years ago, the Indian roamed unmolested. Such is the character of the Texans, that when I broke through a bridge, and was obliged to get a yoke of oxen to help me out, the only compensation required was, that I should come with my family and dine with the family who lent me the team. Arriving on the Brazos, a Major Hannay, a planter of that region, would not let me leave until I had spent a Sunday with him, though I came there Friday morning. The next week, my wife taking sick, I was obliged to stop at Corsicana, in Navarro County, where my name never was known before. Sunday night I tried to preach; after preaching, I made inquiry for a vacant house, where I might stay until my wife recovered; but nobody would point me out one, the people insisting that I should go to the hotel at their charge; and though we were 7 persons, and had 3 horses, Mr. McPhael, the proprietor of the hotel, was the first to make the invitation, though he knew not that anybody would assist him in bearing the expense. I could not help contrasting this conduct with that of a French or German hotelkeeper in the neighborhood of Houston, where I was well known, and where I had often tried to preach, when, some 6 years ago, Bishop Andrew, his nephew, and myself were obliged to stop there, on our way from Conference, who made us pay $1.25 each, for miserable accommodations for one night. (editor’s note:  That experience with a miserable German hotel keeper near Cypress Creek in Harris County was so memorable that Bishop Andrew also reported it to the Advocate.)
This is an unvarnished story, to show the heart of Texans. But, by the help of the good Lord, I arrived, though somewhat late, at my post; and here I have an opportunity of pointing out another characteristic of Texans. This school numbers now upward of 200 students, and the establishment can cost no less than $30,000 or $35,000; and yet it has all been done by one man, the Rev. J. W. P. McKenzie. Tuition in this State generally is from $2 to $3 for the common English branches; and of course ancient and modern literature is higher. Boarding is from $8 to &12. All this is monthly. Yet, while Louisiana is at hand with her Roman Catholic cheap schools, parents readily pay the prices asked here, in preference to having their children educated by Jesuits. But there is still another peculiarity to which I beg leave to draw attention, namely, the preference the people manifest for pious schools. This school is, I believe, the largest in the State; and here all the pupils board in the institution; but here nothing is undertaken without prayer, and that not only as a mere ceremony, but always connected with a lecture. In the morning before breakfast, at the opening of recitation, at night after supper, the family worship is always connected with a lecture; and no lecture is allowed that can not be turned to some religious account. Hence, we have almost a constant revival, and, at our prayer-meeting, on Thursday and Sunday nights, we are never without some mourners; and the young ladies connected with the school, either as teachers or pupils, are all of them professors of religion. With all these facts before the people, some of the wildest men in the State send their sons and daughters here to be educated.
But I have already exceeded the limits of a well-bred communication to a periodical, and I will therefore close this by saying, that if you think it worth publishing, I shall be more particular in future. Your brother in Christ,
Chas. Goldberg.

Goldberg moved from McKenzie to teach at a Cumberland Presbyterian school in Daingerfield and changed his affiliation to that denomination.  His status as a Protestant clergyman did not prevent a group of Jewish businessmen in Texarkana from asking him to preside over the observance of the High Holy days so they could be faithful in their observance.  He agreed to that request.  When the Civil War came, he enlisted as a Chaplain and nurse and saw significant action.  He is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Texarkana.

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