Friday, November 14, 2014

This Week in Texas Methodist History  November 16

Henry Stephenson Dies in Jasper, November 20, 1841

The great evangelist of early Texas, Henry Stephenson, finished his earthly life in Jasper on November 20, 1841.  Stephenson was force in Texas Methodism from as early as 1817 when he preached near Jonesboro on the Red River.   He visited Austin’s Colony several times, the first in 1824.  In 1834 while living in western Louisiana, he was instructed to spend half his time in Texas.  That assignment led to the organization of McMahan’s Chapel, the oldest continuously operating Methodist congregation in Texas.

Stephenson was born in Virginia in 1872.  His family moved to Kentucky and then Missouri.  In 1812 Henry Stephenson was licensed to preach in Missouri.  He then moved to Hempstead, Arkansas, in the southwestern corner of the territory.  It was from that location that he preached in the Red River country.  He later moved to Louisiana, and then after Texas independence to Cow Creek in what is today Newton County.  From that home base he preached in both Jefferson and Jasper Counties in 1840 and 1841. 

Here is the eulogy that Homer Thrall wrote about Henry Stephenson;

Mr. Stephenson’s mental endowments were not extraordinary; his education was very limited.  He married young and raised a large family.  His whole life was spent upon the frontier, amid its perils and privations, and yet he accomplished an immense amount of good.  He preached along the whole western boundary of settlements from the Missouri River to the Colorado, and left a name which is an ointment poured forth through all this vast region.  It is hard to fathom the secret of his success.  He was neither learned nor eloquent in the ordinary acceptance of the terms, but he was a good man and cherished a single purpose to glorify God, and do all the good in his power.  He was of a meek and quiet spirit, winning friends by his gentle manners.  In one respect nature had favored him.  He possessed a most musical voice, a voice ringing out on a campground charmed into silent and attentive listeners all classes of people.  

The memorial was erected at his grave by the Texas Centennial Commission in 1936.  photo credit;  Roland T. (Bill) Scales.


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