Saturday, August 18, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History   August 19

Senator and Future Senator Attend Summer Encampment  August 19, 1926

The Texas State Epworth League once owned an encampment on the middle Texas Coast.  Actually it owned two different sites after the first was damaged by a hurricane.  It was called Epworth by the Sea. 

On August 19, 1926, the 10-day session began under the direction of the Dean, Steve McKinney, Presiding Elder of the Beaumont District of the Texas Conference.   Although there were illustrious speakers from the other Texas Conferences and from Nashville General Boards, McKinney had recruited most of the program leaders from his home conference, including song leader W. E. Hassler.  Some of the program leaders whose names would be familiar to readers of this column were as follows:  

Frank Culver, Waco District P.E.
Robert Adams, Galveston District P. E.
Robert E. Goodrich, Shreveport
John Walter Mills, Houston District P. E.
F. D. Dawson, Jacksonville
J. Fisher Simpson   Austin
C. T. Talley   Beaumont
George Winfield, Lon Morris College President
Jesse Lee, Huntsville District P. E.
George Sexton, Centenary College President
Many readers will know or have known relatives of Goodrich, Dawson, Simpson, and Lee.  These families have produced preachers for generations.  Twenty years later, in 1946, Goodrich baptized the author.

All the speakers were not preachers. 

U. S. Senator Earle Mayfield spoke.   His topic was “God’s Hand Revealed in the Origin and Destiny of America.”   U. S Representative John Calvin Box gave an inspirational address.

Both Mayfield and Box are little more than footnotes in our Texas history.  I would assume most students never learn about them.  They were both Methodists, Box in Jacksonville and Mayfield in Tyler.

Box (1871-1941) was a member of the famous Box family of Houston County, early immigrants from Tennessee who established Box’s Fort and were instrumental in both the civic and religious history of Houston County.  John C. Box attended Alexander Institute (later renamed Lon Morris College).   He practiced law in Lufkin but moved to Jacksonville in 1897.  He was Mayor of Jacksonville and also Cherokee County Judge.   He served in Congress from 1919 to 1931.  He practiced law in Jacksonville from then until his death.  His work in Congress is remembered because he worked for the National Origins Act, which reflected the racism of the 1920’s trying to exclude immigrants from all but European countries.  This law is back in the news because Attorney General  Sessions (another Methodist) often praises its effects in limiting legal immigration. 

Mayfield (1881-1964) is also remembered for advancing racism.  He won his seat in 1922 as the “Klandiate.”  He did not try to hide his membership in the Ku Klux Klan.   He was born in Overton, was raised in Timpson and graduated from Southwestern University in 1900.  He served in the State Senate and was a member of the Railroad Commission.  The 1922 Democratic Primary was crowded, but Mayfield made the runoff against James "Pa" Ferguson who ran for the Senate since he was ineligible for the governorship, having been removed by impeachment.    In the general election Mayfield defeated George Peddy.  

Mayfield’s service in the Senate was delayed because his victory was accompanied by political shenanigans.  The state passed a law declaring that candidates had to be nominated by primaries.  Texas Republicans didn’t have enough members to hold a primary so they nominated candidates in convention.  Peddy’s name was not even on the general election ballot, but he still got a third of the vote.  

Peddy demanded an investigation.  The Senate has the power to judge the qualifications of its members, and after considerable delay, they seated Mayfield.  
Mayfield  could not hold his seat in 1928, and upon his retirement from the Senate he moved to Tyler and the family business, Mayfield Wholesale Grocery.

Also attending was an extended family.  Rev. and Mrs. John Goodwin of Navasota were there with their daughter and son-in-law, Beryl and Joe Z Tower.     The Towers brought their 10 month old son, John Goodwin Tower.  In 1961 John was elected U. S. Senator.  Like Mayfield, he was a graduate of Southwestern University. 

(I often see Joe Z Tower’s name with a period after the Z.  That is incorrect.  The Z is his middle name, not an initial.)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History August 12

Invitation to Preacher Creates Flap Between MEC and MECS   August 1871

David Coulson, the MECS preacher appointed to the Colorado Colored Mission invited George W. Honey, the Presiding Elder of the Austin District of the MEC to preach at a camp meeting in Bastrop County in August 1871.   The invitation resulted in controversy and illustrates several themes of Methodist history during Reconstruction.

The incident shows that as late as 1871, the MECS was still appointing preachers to African American congregations.   They were still in the process of spinning off those congregations into a new denomination; the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church South, later renamed the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, or C. M. E.

It also shows that the MEC was still trying to forge an interracial Texas Conference. 
George Honey was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1833.   In 1860 he was living in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin and enlisted as a private in the 4th Wisconsin Calvary.  He eventually became Chaplain for the unit.   In 1866 he moved to Texas as an agent for the American Missionary Society.  He encouraged the establishment of schools for former enslaved African Americans.  When the Texas Conference met under Bishop Ames, he was elected Secretary and appointed to Galveston. 
In 1869 he won the office of State Treasurer during the Republican administration.  He was then appointed Presiding Elder of the Austin District so he could move to Austin.  

He was a busy man.  He started building a brick church about a mile north of the Capitol in the Harney Addition.  He defended himself in district court against charges of misappropriating state funds.   He still had time to accept the offer to preach at the camp meeting in Bastrop County. 

Some Bastrop Methodists objected to having a “Black Republican” preach at a MECS event.  The hostilities of the Civil War were alive and well.  At least one of the most vigorous protestors was asked to leave the camp meeting.   

Honey’s church tensions were nothing like his civil ones.   Governor Davis asked him to step down as Treasurer, but the Texas Supreme Court reinstated him.  
In 1875 he decided he had had enough of Texas.  He moved to Kansas.  Honey died in 1906 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. 

Saturday, August 04, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History   August 5

Mourners Receive Body of Rev. William Pfaeffle at Train Station in Brenham, August 12, 1890

Rev. William Pfaeffle was born at Berghausen, near Karlsruhe, Germany in 1831.  He was converted to Methodism while still a young man.  In 1850 he immigrated to America, landing in New York but going on to St. Louis.  He then moved to Chicago and worked as a wheelwright.  He surrendered to the call to the ministry and served German congregations in Wisconsin and Minnesota. 

The 1872 General Conference of the MEC agreed to split the Texas Conference into 4 new conferences.  There would be two African American Conferences, the Texas and West Texas.  The new Austin Conference would service English speaking European Americans.  The Southern German Conference would serve German speakers in Texas and Louisiana. 

There was a problem with this plan.  There were not enough German speaking preachers to occupy the pulpits of the Southern German Conference.  One answer was to recruit German Methodist preachers conferences from New York to Minnesota.   William Pfaeffle decided to investigate Texas with the idea he might transfer to the new conference.   

In December 1872 he and a colleague, Philip Barth, came to Texas and stayed with the Brenham preacher, Carl Urbantke.  Urbantke showed them around German churches and ended up in Galveston in January 1873 for the conference that would create the split into 4 conferences.  Barth decided he was too old to transfer, but Pfaeffle cast his lot with the new conference and was appointed Presiding Elder of the Brenham District. 

He became a leader in the Conference and was elected a delegate to the 1884 General Conference.  

He is best remembered for his motion, offered at the 1882 session of Annual Conference to establish a school to train ministers.  He backed his motion up with a gift of $500 to the proposed school.  Pfaeffle put pressure on Carl Urbantke to head up the school who finally accepted.  Accordingly, in September 1883 the Mission Institute enrolled 3 students in Brenham under Urbantke’s tutelage.
Some years later, a MEC preacher from New York, Christian Blinn, was travelling through Brenham and was inspired by the educational effort and donated funds to support it.  In appreciation of his generosity, the school was renamed in his honor. 

Pfaeffle’s long service in Wisconsin and Minnesota created many friendships, and one of his friends had a lake cabin on Lake Gervaise near St. Paul.   Pfaeffle was invited to spend his vacation at the lake cabin so he went.

On the 13th of July a tornado struck the cabin and killed William Pfaeffle.  His wife survived.   

On Saturday August 12, 1890 mourners waited at the Santa Fe Train Station to convey the casket containing the earthly remains to the German Methodist Church in preparation for the Sunday funeral. 

The pallbearers put the casket inside the church.   Early arrivals on Sunday morning noticed that the casket had sprung a leak.  Embalming fluid was on the floor and a powerful stench filled the sanctuary.   They removed the casket to the cemetery only a few hundred yards away.  

At the 10:00 o’clock worship service Urbantke preached a funeral sermon, and then at 5:00 o’clock the rest of the funeral proceeded.  Rev. Heinrich Dietz who had also transferred to Texas in 1873 preached the funeral sermon.  The pastor of the First Baptist Church, Rev. J. L. Lloyd delivered a eulogy.  There is no record of the MECS preacher’s participation in the service.   He left behind his widow and three sons. 

1890 also saw the passing of Carl Biel and Edward Schneider, both of whom had been original members of the Texas Conference of the MEC when it was organized in 1867.  Biel was perhaps the most influential pastor in leading the departure of German MECS pastors into the MEC.