Saturday, December 28, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History   December 29

Bishop Capers Opens 8th Session of Texas Annual Conference   December 29, 1847

Bishop William Capers must have felt a huge sigh of relief when he convened the 8th session of the Texas Annual Conference on December 29, 1847.   He knew that when the conference adjourned on January 3, he would finally be able to start back to his home in Charleston, South Carolina, after a very long and difficult journey.  

William Capers was elected bishop at the organizing General Conference of the MECS in 1846.  He left his South Carolina home on September 9 and headed first to Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia).  He planned to catch a riverboat for passage to Louisville, Kentucky, so he could attend the annual meeting of MECS bishops.  The Ohio was so low, he had to take a smaller, slower vessel.  He arrived in Louisville too late for the meeting.  The low river also compelled him to take a stage coach rather than the more comfortable steamboat to St. Louis.  

He arrived at St. Louis after a bone-shaking three day-two night ride across poor roads.  He was still 175 miles away from Glasgow, the site of the Missouri Annual Conference and exhausted.  He rested for two days with his nephew and then left for Glasgow.  He was late to the Missouri Annual Conference too, arriving in time for the ordination service, but none of the business sessions.  He then left for the St. Louis Annual Conference which was being held at a camp ground.  

Capers began to regain his strength and found his way from Missouri into the Arkansas Ozarks.  He was on his way to preside at the Indian Mission Conference to be held at Doaksville, the capital of the Choctaw Nation.  He presided over that conference and then headed for Washington Arkansas, to preside over the Arkansas Annual Conference.  When the Arkansas Conference Annual Conference adjourned, he headed for San Augustine to hold the East Texas Annual Conference which he described as “a protracted and laborious one.”  

Finally, in late December he arrived at Cedar Creek, Washington County, the site of the Texas Annual Conference.  The Conference lasted until January 3.  Bishop Capers admitted five new preachers into the travelling connection, including I. G. John, who went on to distinguished leadership positions in the MECS.  The Texas Conference had 30 preachers to be appointed.  The westward growth was demonstrated by the creation of two new districts, the Austin and San Antonio Districts. 

When Capers adjourned the Texas Conference on January 3, his last episcopal duty was complete.  He could go home.  He was in Houston by the 5th and took passage to Galveston.  He took the steamship Globe across the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans and then another vessel to Mobile then to Montgomery—finally arriving at home on January 19.  

Cedar Creek, the site of the 8th Texas Annual Conference, no longer exists.  It was replaced by Chappell Hill which remained a major Methodist settlement for decades.   The Texas Historical Commission has recently approved a historical marker application for Cedar Creek.  Watch this space for details of the marker dedication to be held sometime in 2014.


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