This Week in Texas Methodist History April 2
Ellen J. Downs Robinson Urges Creation of Woman’s Missionary Society Units
The April 4, 1885, Texas Christian Advocate contains an appeal from the North Texas Conference WMS President, Ellen J. Downs Robinson of Paris. The WMS was a relatively new organization, having been established in 1880. Robinson’s goal was to have a chapter “at every appointment on every circuit.”
“Aunt Rob,” as she was called, was born on Christmas Eve, 1824, in Canada to James and Freedom Rider Downs. She and her whole family were converted to Methodism and were all baptized on Christmas Day, 1837. Ellen taught school for about ten years in New York, but then responded to the call for missionary service.
In October, 1856 she left Champlain, New York, for New York City. She then travelled to New Orleans were she was met by Bishop and Mrs. Kavanaugh. Then she travelled by steam boat to Shreveport and a smaller boat to Jefferson, Texas, which was the main entryway into northeastern Texas. She then made her way to Daingerfield, and then north to Bloomfield Academy in the Chickasaw Nation. Bloomfield Academy had been founded by the Rev. John H. Carr and the Chickasaw Nation in 1852. It was a female boarding school.
Funds for the Academy dried up during the Civil War so she moved to Paris, Texas, where she lived the rest of her life—until 1910.
She taught Sunday School for 40 years, was president of the Paris WMS for thirty years and served seven years as President of the North Texas Conference WMS. She was buried in Old City Cemetery after services at Centenary Methodist Church in Paris.