This Week in Texas Methodist History December 15
Martin Ruter Writes About His First Month in Texas December 15, 1837
The head of the first official Methodist Mission to Texas, Martin Ruter, crossed the Sabine on November 23, 1837 in the company of his travelling companion, David Ayres. He immediately threw himself into the task of organizing Methodist families into circuits.
He preached first in the San Augustine/Nacogdoches area and then headed for the interior. He spent his second Sunday in Texas preaching in Washington-on-the-Brazos, and his third Sunday on the Colorado River at Egypt preaching to the “Alabama Colony” consisting of the Heard, Menifee, and related families.
On Monday, December 11, he headed for Houston and arrived the new capital city on Wednesday the 14th. He looked up his colleague, Littleton Fowler and met Sam Houston. Finally, on Thursday the 15th he found time to write home to Mrs. Ruter.Ruth Ruter was staying in New Albany,
Indiana, also the home of Martin’s brother, Calvin Ruter.
Martin Ruter had written her on his journey on the Ohio, Mississippi Rivers and across Louisiana, but Texas was a foreign country and Ruth and the children were eager for details of the new mission field.
By December 15 Martin Ruter had travelled about 350 miles in Texas. He had seen the Piney Woods, the Brazos and Colorado River settlements, and a large portion of the Coastal Prairie.
He described some of his recent experiences to Ruth
But many things in this country are somewhat different from what you suppose. . . .The accommodations are of course very poor. Most the houses are cabins, without glass windows, &half of them without doors, many of them without floors, and with very little furniture even of a rough kind. The chief food is corn bread, sweet potatoes, & meat—such as beef, some pork, venison, squirrels, some fowls, &c. . . . Most of the beds are made of straw laid upon boards, with a sheet, blanket, & quilt. . . .In riding over the prairies it is often necessary to travel from morning till night without dinner, & without seeing a house, or without seeing more than one. On some of the prairies when near the middle, it resembles being on the ocean, the scene appears boundless. On the whole, there is in Texas much that is interesting, & much at present, that is undesirable. . .
The letter reveals that Ruter believed that Texas was ripe for missionary efforts, but still had quite a way to go in becoming civilized.
Martin wrote several more letters to Ruth from Texas, but they never saw each other again. Martin Ruter died the following May, just has he was starting back to the United States and his family in Indiana.