Saturday, February 15, 2014

This Week in Texas Methodist History  February 16

Charles F. Smith Reports on his Pastorate at San Augustine

The Rev. Charles F. Smith was born in Westville, Mississippi, in 1859.  After serving appointments in his home state, he transferred to the East Texas Conference and was appointed to San Augustine.  He served a succession of appointments in East Texas including Presiding Elder.  His great passion was history.  Service at San Augustine made him aware of the historic importance of McMahan’s Chapel.  In his retirement years, he attended St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Houston and became the custodian of the “Conference Trunk.”  The Conference Trunk was a simple steamer trunk that contained historic documents of the conference.  Smith brought the trunk  to Annual Conference each year so that interested parties could examine those documents. The trunk was the predecessor of the Texas Conference Archives.  

Smith carried on an extensive correspondence with preachers, bishops, politicians, and historians.  He saved the correspondence and donated it to the Conference Archives.  He also compiled files of newspaper clippings and personal reminiscences.   He lived a very long time, dying in Houston in 1958 at the age of 98 and ½,   
Here is one of the reminiscences from the Archives dealing with his arrival in San Augustine.  

“First fruits” is scriptural.  Young and inexperienced I “landed” in Texas, in January 1886.  I had come from the other side of the “Father of Waters” to serve as Pastor at San Augustine, which included Union and Deming and whatever else I would.  The San Augustine circuit was organized by Robert Alexander, August 1837, the first formed circuit in Texas.

The third Sunday in January (1886) was my first in Texas, and toward the close of an unusually “cold spell”, unusual even for Texas.  There are those who still remember the “cold Friday, January 7th, when Galveston Bay and the Ayist (Ayish) Bayou froze over.  On that first Sunday there were 14 at Sunday School, and fully as many at the church service.  For some time the Sundays seemed to be in the hands of the “badweather man”.  But then, as now, pretty weather came and Church attendance improved.
On this day in the Audience, with his wife was a tall, high-forheaded, distinguished appearing man.  He was a good listener (?)  he did not come forward to meet the preacher, but soon the preacher called at his home.  Soon thereafter this man took the vows of Church-membership.  Columbus Cartwright was the “first fruit” of my Texas ministry.  He possessed intelligence and wisdom, also timidity and modesty in an unusual degree.  As steward, trustee and supporter of the Church he was dependable.
Later, when I was serving the district I would “turn in” for the night at Brother Cartwright’s.  On my last visit he said, “I’m glad you are here, I want to consult you about a matter.”  His plan was to buy a block of land for the church and parsonage.  This he did.  On that block stands our Fowler Meth Church (today FUMC) and the parsonage. The deed to the Church stipulated a certain part to be used exclusively for buggies and hitching purposes.

Why the stipulation?

The old church stood on a key lot—50 feet.

There was no place for the horse and buggy.  Twenty-five years and the horse and buggy quit going to church.  Surely the “world do move”!

It was in my second year in San Augustine that received by vows and baptism, a school boy, almost twenty.  He became a lawyer’ located to Beaumont, was elected District Attorney, then District Judge, later represented the district in Congress.  The Hon. M. L. Broocks.  His will contained a bequest to the San Augustine Church. 

(Moses Lycurgus Broocks 1864-1908, served one term in Congress (1905-1907) then moved back to San Augustine.)  (Columbus  “Cumby” Clinton Cartwright  1837-1901, supposedly tied his team to a fence near the church.  When he exited church, he found the woman whose fence he had used, had released the team.)


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