This Week in Texas Methodist History August 14
Samuel Gates Leads Camp Meeting Near Austin, Aug. 15, 1875
Late summer was “lay by” time in Texas. The crops were “laid by.” The corn was harvested and in the crib. As it was needed, it would be shucked. Some would be fed to working livestock. Some taken to the mill and turned into corn meal. Some would be soaked in lye to transform it into hominy. The cotton would have been chopped (thinned) and hoed. Farmers were waiting for the cotton to mature so they could begin picking it. It was the ideal time for camp meetings. It was the best time to take a break from the ordeal of farming in the Texas heat and attend a camp meeting in some shady camping ground. The fruits of summer, melons, peaches, pears, roasting ears, peas, okra, etc were in season lending a special culinary pleasure to the event.
The Austin Weekly Statesman of Aug. 19, 1875 gives a very complete and complimentary account of a camp meeting held by members of the MEC (African American) Texas Conference.
The meeting was held about 3 miles east of Austin. It was led by Samuel Gates of the Austin Church (Wesley Chapel). He was assisted in the preaching by Rev. Gregory, P. E. of the Columbus District, A. R. Norris of Dallas, C. L. Madison of Dallas, E. Nesbett of Webberville, and several others. J. W. Alexander, a lay member of Wesley Chapel, was the facilities manager.
Rather than a brush arbor, the attendees had a large canvas cover. Kerosene street lamps provided illumination.
Rev. Gates was at the beginning of a long and distinguished career.
Samuel Gates was admitted in full connection to the Texas Conference of the MEC in 1871 by Bishop Janes and appointed to Hempstead. In 1875 he was appointed to Austin. Other appointments included Waco District P. E. and Columbus. He died in 1904.