Saturday, June 08, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History  June 9

Henderson Palmer Writes About Meeting at  Box’s (Houston County)   June 11, 1838

In the late 1830s Texas Methodism consisted of about a dozen communities of Methodist farmers and merchants.  Many of them were extended families who had immigrated from the United States while Texas was still a part of Mexico.  Some of the immigrants had been preachers in the United States.  Others had been class leaders and exhorters.  In 1837 the first officially appointed missionaries to Texas spent most of their time riding between these Methodists neighborhoods and organizing them into regular stops on a circuit. 

One such extended family of Methodists lived in what is today Houston County.  Stephen F. Box and his sons emigrated from Alabama to Texas in November 1834.  They settled about 12 miles east of Crockett and constructed a facility called Box’s Fort.   Four brothers--James, John, Nelson, and Thomas Box all served under Hayden Arnold in the 2nd Regiment of Volunteers, First Infantry Company at the Battle of San Jacinto.  After independence was won, the Box  brothers were instrumental in organizing Houston County.  It was the first county created by the new government of the Republic of Texas

We have evidence of a camp meeting hosted by the Box family as early as the summer of 1838.  A school teacher by the name of Henderson Palmer wrote Littleton Fowler that although he lived eight miles from Box’s and had no horse, every other Saturday he walked the distance so he could attend services on Sunday.  Palmer was born in 1812, attended college at LaGrange College and came to Texas to teach.  One month after writing about the meeting, Fowler came to Box’s and licensed Palmer to preacher, thus becoming the first know preacher to be licensed in Texas.

At the Mississippi Annual Conference of 1839 Palmer was appointed to Crockett.  In 1840 he became a charter member of the Texas Annual Conference.  He served charges in East Texas including Jasper, Nacogdoches, Rusk and Crockett until his death in 1869. (see post for Feb. 17, 2013)

The Box family continued to be stalwarts of Texas Methodism for decades.  Samuel Box  was admitted to the East Texas Conference in 1848.   One of the Houston County Box family achieved political prominence.  John Calvin Box went to Alexander Collegiate Institute  (later Lon Morris College)then located in Kilgore.  He moved to Jacksonville  in 1897 just a few years after ACI did.  He practiced law and  served as both judge and mayor.  Box was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives and served there 1919-1931.  John Calvin Box was also a lay Methodist preacher and one of the founders of SMU.  The Box family of Houston County thus could point with pride to a long heritage of service in Texas Methodism.    


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