Saturday, November 24, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History   November 25

TCA Reports on Move of Publishing House to Dallas, Nov. 29, 1900

On November 29, 1900 the Texas Christian Advocate ran the following:

The step (establishing a branch Publishing House in Dallas), was not taken un-advisedly, it was no reckless adventure. . . Situated in one of the most prosperous positions of our great nation, among people of virile and healthy minds, and environed by as genuine literary talent and culture as exist on our continent, this new enterprise b ids fair to assume large proportions and influence.  

John H. McLean, president of the Board of Publication wrote, The candlestick is removed from the isle of the sea and set in the midst of the people. 

The 1887 relocation of the Publishing House from Galveston to Dallas was an acknowledgement of new demographic and technological realities brought about by the post Civil War railroad construction.   The railroads shifted the main commercial and migration patterns away from Galveston to the interior of the state.  Dallas emerged as the transportation hub that linked the most densely populated part of Texas to Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, and other important U. S. cities.  Previously the New Orleans-Galveston sea lane provided the most important commercial link of Texas to the rest of the United States.  

Texas Methodists were not the only journalists to recognize the need to change.  In 1885 A. H. Belo sent G. B. Dealey from the Galveston News to Dallas to start the Dallas Morning News.   

Although Texas Methodist Publishing began in Brenham, the Advocate soon moved to Galveston where both English and German Methodist newspapers were produced.    Galveston made an ideal location because the Publishing House also served as a book store, warehouse, and job printing office.  A port location made sense so that Methodist literature, newsprint, and other printing supplies could be imported.  

Galveston also made sense from a journalistic perspective.  Galveston was the most important cotton market in Texas, and because of its prominence had the most advanced communication facilities of any Texas city.   Markets of all types depend upon up to date information.  Knowing the price of cotton in the Memphis or New Orleans before ones competitors could make the difference between fortune or bankruptcy so Galveston was well connected.  The cotton factors would hire boys to meet incoming ships bearing newspapers from other cities in their quest to get the news first. 

Telegraphy made such actions obsolete, and the comparative advantage of a port location disappeared.  Since the railroads were coming to Texas for cotton, it made sense to build the rails to the most productive cotton lands, the Blackland Prairie.  Dallas took advantage of the new rail connections better than any other Blackland Prairie city.  

Dallas parlayed its advantages as a transportation hub for cotton into regional dominance in other fields.  It became the banking, insurance, and warehousing/distribution center for the entire South Central portion of the United State. 

 When it secured the site of SMU, Dallas ensured its position as the center of Texas Methodism.   The preeminence of Dallas with both a university (after 1915) and publishing house was analogous to that of Nashville for the Southeastern United States for the MECS and Cincinnati, Ohio, for the German conferences of the MEC. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History November 18

Church member Implores District Superintendent to “Move my Preacher to Prevent a Killing”

One of the best known features of Methodist polity is its provision for annual appointments.  Preachers are appointed to a church for one year, subject to reappointment.  Once there was a two year rule, later modified to four years.  Every preacher was required after being at a church after two years and later four years. 
Frequent moves were an expectation for both preachers and laity. 

The bishop of the annual conference makes those appointments with the assistance of the district superintendents.   Although a request for moving a preacher should come only through the Staff Parish Relations Committee, sometimes individuals request a move without going through channels.  

I ran across the following letter addressed to a district superintendent.  The date is 1953.  I have redacted the names but preserved original spelling.

Dear Brother L….,
At the last stewart meeting at B. . .    (Pastor) S. . . sed a lot of untruthful and ugly things about me.  He sed it before all that was their; my husband has not hird about it, but when he does I no he will take his gun and hunt S. . . up.   Brother L. . .wont you just please move S. . . before there is a killing?   Sam S. . . is also full up on S. . .mistreating his mother Mrs. S. . .has been on the edge of a nirvos Breakdown ever since she went to see you.  Wont you please move S. . .before there is a killing?

Saturday, November 10, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History Nov. 11

Armistice Day for Southwestern Students  Nov. 11, 1918

Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, meant an end to unimaginable horror.  In 1914 the belligerent nations went confidently into what they believed would be a short war.  They were horribly wrong.  As the initial invasion of France by German forces was repulsed, the two sides dug into fortified positions in trenches that changed very little through the next years.    The application of the technologies of the industrial revolution meant that killing was mass produced.  The efficiency of machine guns, submarines, poison gas, large munitions, and other products of the industrial revolution meant causalities in the thousands as the generals continued to stick to the same tactics they had learned in the horse cavalry era.  

Nowhere was this outmoded thinking more evident than in the last weeks of the war.  As nations staggered to some sort of resolution, generals stuck to the same tactics that had produced such horror.  

Although it was well known that an armistice was imminent, commanders continued giving orders to continue artillery barrages and “over the top” mad assaults through barbed wire and machine guns until 11:00 a.m. To be fair, some field commanders ignored such orders on the morning of November 11.  

What about the home front and in particular, Southwestern University in Georgetown which had embraced militarization like most of the rest of American society?

One November 9, 1918 ten members  of the Student Army Training Corps at Southwestern  were given a grand send off as they were inducted into the regular army and sent to Camp MacArthur in Waco for officer training.  The SATC sergeants, corporals, and privates would spend three months at Camp MacArthur and then be thrown into the maelstrom of war in Europe.   The men were selected because they had spent 8 weeks the previous summer at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, receiving basic training along with the faculty sponsor, Professor Godbey who also taught chemistry and coached the football team.  

There was a send off  banquet, complete with oysters and multiple toasts (with grape juice).  The SU band went to the train depot to send the men, who ranged from freshman to senior, off. 

Lt. Riley ordered an honor guard be posted at the flag pole each Sunday.  In spite of the heavy rains, SATC students were able to resume drills from 2:00 until 4:00.  Drill had been suspended for weeks because so many cadets were afflicted with the influenza.  Cadets who were not ill spent their time swabbing the floors where a temporary hospital of cots had been set up.

The 10 men chosen for Officer Training at Camp MacArthur arrived the night of the 9th, and on the 11th learned that the Armistice had been signed.  They were not allowed to go into Waco and participate in the joyous celebrations and church services being held there.   The camp was quarantined because of a meningitis outbreak. 

Although the war was over, the SU men stayed at Camp MacArthur for another two weeks.   One of their tasks was constructing the barracks in which they would live.   Six of them returned to the SATC, and four were honorably discharged.  

The Armistice did not mean an end to the SATC.  They continued to drill as usual. 
One of those men was Wesley Hardt, my grandfather.   Upon discharge, the men were told to keep their equipment.   I inherited the carpenter tools that had been issued for the barracks construction.  Wesley was still at Camp MacArthur when the SU Pirates came to play the Baylor Bears in a football game.   Wesley’s brother Henry was the starting left guard for the Pirates.  The Pirates beat the Bears 14-6.   Wesley not only attended the game, but was called down from the bleachers to act as timekeeper.  He was invited to spend that night in the Waco hotel with the team rather than going back to his tent at Camp MacArthur. 

Saturday, November 03, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History Nov. 4

Bishop James O. Andrew Presides Over Texas Conference, First Week of November 1860 AND 1865

Bishop James O. Andrew is best known to Methodist historians as the bishop whose ownership of slaves precipitated the dramatic events of the General Conference of 1844 which resulted in the division of the MEC into the MECS and the MEC.
James O. Andrew made 5 trips to Texas, including ones in 1860 and 1865.   
As stated in the post for last week, no bishops were able to come to Texas during the Civil War so the 1860 and 1865 visits were sort of “bookends” for Texas.
Andrew had been born in 1796 and elected in 1832.  At the formation of the MEC, he naturally went with southern branch of the church.     Bishops of the era could live where they wished and although he was a Georgian, he made his home near his daughter’s family in Alabama.

Here is how his biographer described the 1860 episcopal trip to Texas:
Nearly twenty years before he had first gone to this republic. 
At that time there was only a little band of heroic men forming one
 small Conference ; now, there were three Conferences, two of them quite
 large. At that time there had been few appointments on the eastern side
 of the State and in the larger cities; there were now stations and circuits
 reaching from the Rio Grande to the Sabine, and from 
the Gulf to the territories on the north. The work was very hard, 
and successive droughts had made this year one which was especially trying. He
 made the trips by boat to Galveston and thence into the interior, and then 
returned to Alabama. 
It should be noted that this visit was made during the Presidential election of 1860.

The 1865 episcopal visit is described in much greater detail.
The Trans-Mississippi had not had any Episcopal supervision for years. 
Some one must go, and al- though he was old and feeble, and moneyless,
 he con- sented to make the journey. How he made it Brother 
Rush tells. 
He reached the seat of the Texas Conference and presided over it and over
 the East Texas. During his visit to the Texas Conference, of the amount 
raised for superannuated preachers, widows, etc., the Conference proposed to 
appropriate one hundred dollars to Bishop Andrew ; he refused to. receive it. 
Penniless as he was, he would not take a penny of that fund, but the brave 
Texans were not willing to allow him to go out empty handed, and raised a 
handsome purse for him, which hedid receive without hesitation. He did not
 attempt to reach the Rio Grande Conference, but made his way to Summerfield 
The Texas Conference was held in Chappell Hill and there was lots of business to catch up on.  10 men were ordained because of the pent-up demand since no bishops had come to ordain preachers in Texas during the war.  The conference also recognized the death of John Wesley Kenney, a true pioneer of Texas Methodism who had died the previous January.   

Bishop Andrew’s episcopal visit that interests me most was his first, when he was a much younger man and better able to withstand the rigors of travel. 
In 1843 he arrived at Galveston, made his way to Houston and sought advice on the best way to get to the conference site, Robinson’s in southwestern Walker County.   He was advised there were two options.  He could go by steamboat up the Trinity to approximately where Riverside is today and then go overland from there.  The other option was to go northwest approximating the present route of US 290 as far as Hockley and then north through Montgomery, then to Robinson’s.   He, accompanied by Charles Shearn and T. O. Summers, chose the latter. 
It was a miserable route. 

The whole prairie was inundated — the water was up to the knees 
of their horses, and sometimes in a slough their own 
feet were covered. The stars above them gave all 
the light they had, and "save the sound of our 
horses' feet splashing in the water, the shrill cry of 
the crane, or the noise of numerous flocks of wild 
geese and ducks, which were startled upon our ap- proach, there was no
 sound to break in upon the gloomy silence of the scene around us ; unless we 
chose to keep our own voices employed, which we 
did pretty freely by way of cheering each other's 

It got worse:  The big obstacle was Lake Creek in Montgomery County.  It was so flooded that he had to swim, holding on to his horses reins.

I think about that weekly.  My route from home to the Texas Conference Archives is Highway 105.  It crosses Lake Creek at Dobbin.   The Halloween storms this week made Lake Creek come out of its banks, much like in 1843.    I thought about Bishop Andrew again and how after his swimming the creek, only six months later he was in New York City—presumably sleeping in a comfortable hotel.