Saturday, March 21, 2015

This Week in Texas Methodist History   March 22

Francis Wilson Departs for Petersburg Convention, March 26, 1846

The first months of 1846 saw momentous changes for Texas Methodists.  Littleton Fowler died in January.  The Republic of Texas segued into the state of Texas as the 28th state of the United States, and the two formerly MEC annual conferences in Texas became part of the MECS.  The latter two changes—from Republic to state and from MEC to MECS were both accomplished with almost unbelievable ease considering the magnitude of the transition. 

The Republic-to-state transition was so easy because the founders of the Republic of Texas, with the exception of Tejanos such as Antonio Navarro, were recent arrivals from the United States where many of them had participated actively in civic affairs and knew the founding U. S. documents.  The Republic of Texas set up a government derived largely on the U. S. model.  Counties, law enforcement, and the judicial system, contract law, a bill of rights, the legislature, etc. all looked a lot like the United State model.  The Republic had a much more difficult time with its monetary system, post office, and military affairs, but it should be noted that during the Republic era, 1836-1845, monetary policy in the United States was also in turmoil. 

The transition from MEC to MECS was also accomplished with considerable continuity.  The First General Conference of the MECS met at Petersburg, Virginia, in May 1846.    The Texas Conference elected Robert Alexander and Chauncey Richardson as delegates, and the East Texas Conference sent Francis Wilson.  If Fowler had been alive, he certainly would have been elected. 

Wilson left home in East Texas on March 26, 1846 en route to Petersburg.  He knew the route well—only two years earlier he had gone on an extensive Eastern Tour—from New Orleans to Cincinnati, the Ohio Annual Conference, then over the hills to Washington City.  The 1844 tour was in the interest of Texas Methodism, especially raising funds for Wesleyan College in San Augustine.  

Wilson served a variety of appointments but poor health resulted in his locating.  He resided at Belgrade on the Sabine River in Newton County where he continued as a local preacher.  He died in Louisiana in 1867 and was buried in Newton County.  He and his wife, Elizabeth Kountz, had ten children of whom five survived into adulthood.   Some of Francis Wilson’s descendants still live in Texas and are faithful Methodists. 


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