Saturday, August 09, 2014

This Week in Texas Methodist History     August 10

Methodist Preacher Is the Victim of Mob Violence  In Aquilla  August 1885

The last decades of the 19th century witnessed the rise of racial violence directed against African Americans in Texas and much of the rest of the United States.  It was an era of lynching, of white-only towns, and attacks on African Americans that were ignored by law enforcement.  

Even ministers of the gospel were not exempt from the violence as the Rev. Clement Trimble found when he tried to give his magic lantern show of the life of Christ in the Hill County hamlet of Aquilla.  The news article in the Waco Examiner  (Aug. 18, 1885) tells it all. 

                                                                WORK OF A MOB!
A Methodist Minister Roughly Handled at Aquilla Station
The Crowd Douse Him with Dirty Water and Otherwise Ill-Treat Him
He is Refused Shelter and Even a Drink of Water by a Farmer

Mr. Clement Trimble, whose home is in San Antonio, came to the Examiner office yesterday and told of a fearful treatment he received at the hands of a mob in Aquila station on Saturday night last.  Mr. Trimble is an ordained minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, and is traveling with a magic lantern entertainment, exhibiting scenes in the life of Jesus Christ.  On last Thursday night he preached to a colored congregation near Aquilla, and on Friday night he gave them an exhibition.  Saturday morning he went ot Aquilla where had procured a ticket for Waco.   

While at the depot waiting for the train he was approached by two men who asked him to stay over and give an entertainment that night.  He told them that he had no house in which to exhibit.  They asked him if he could not use the school house.  Mr. T. said he would have to see the trustees and get their permission first.  The men represented themselves as being two of the trustees, and said he was welcome to use the building.  He then concluded to stay.  Later in the day when we has making his preparations, he was approached by a gentleman who asked who gave him permission to exhibit there.  About this time one of the men who claimed to be a trustee came up, and Mr. T. pointed him out.  Another man was with him and offered his shop to Mr. T. to give an exhibition in.  

 Mr. T. then made his arrangements to give an exhibition at night.  About dark a crowd of young men came to him and said if he would wait until after services at the camp meeting were over they would all attend and bring their girls with them.  He complied with their request and went to where the meeting was held.  The service closed about 10:00 o’clock and Mr. T. went back to the hall where he was to exhibit.  When the crowd got there, they asked him who was to be the doorkeeper.  Mr. T. told them to select a gentleman from among themselves, but as no one seemed to want to take responsibility, he asked a deputy sheriff by the name of Yeates to act as doorkeeper.  Yeates made some excuse and Mr. T. said that if no one would act as doorkeeper, he would take down his fixtures.  The deputy sheriff then asked him if he had a license to give exhibitions. The license was produced, examined, and passed upon by the supposed preserver to the law as being all right.  Mr. T. saw he was in a rough crowd and went into the building and began taking down his curtain when a stream of dirty water was turned on him from what was supposed to be a fire extinguisher.  He broke to run, and in attempting to get out of the house found that the back door was fastened, but he managed to open it and get out.  As soon as he got out, two men stopped him and sang to the crowd, “We’ve got him.”  They then dragged him over to the platform at the Central depot, where he was very roughly handled, and the dirty water turned on him again.  While he was struggling to get free, the crowd yelled out, “Go through him and see what he has got.”  Mr. T. looked around and saw a constable he had met at Mud Hill, and said to him. “Will you stand there as an officer of the peace and allow these men to murder me?”   The officer told the mob to desist and taking hold of Mr. T., said, “now run”  This Mr. T. did, and as he started off, volley after volley of pistol shots were fired at him.   

He ran into the woods and up to a farmer’s house and asked him for a drink of water and shelter.  The citizen gave him a drink of water, but refused him shelter in his house.  Mr. T., hearing the crowd coming after him, he ran to the rear of the farmer’s house and hid in the bushes.  The mob scattered and made a thorough search for him but failed to discover his whereabouts.  Mr. T. lay in the bushes until daylight Sunday morning when the farmer came to him and told him to clear out and leave the premises refusing to give the man a drink of water.  Mr. T. walked back to the depot and the station-master also refused to give him a drink of water.  Mr. T. asked the agent if he would check his baggage to Waco.  At first he refused with an oath and said that he would not.  ON showing the man his ticket he then agreed to check one of  his valises through, but told Mr. T. he had better leave that town.  Mr. T. found that the mob had cut open one of his valises through and ruined several scenes.  He then took his other valises and walked to Ross station (editor’s note –about 11.5 miles) through the hot sun, where he was befriended by Mr. W. A. Poindexter, and yesterday he came into the city in that gentleman’s wagon. 

Mr. Trimble came from Brooklyn, N. Y., to Texas two years ago, and has spent the greater part of his time in travelling and giving entertainment.  He says he has never been so roughly handled before, and never dreamed that he was travelling in a country where a mob was allowed to take a man out of a village and almost massacre him, and not one man raised his hand to protect him.  If his statements are true, it is certainly a high handed outrage, and should be looked into by the proper authorities.  He cannot recollect any of the names of the mob, but says if he had means he would certainly prosecute them to the full extent of the law.     


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