Saturday, July 31, 2021


This Week in Texas Methodist History August 1


Methodists Tout New Hymnal, August 1935


In August 1935 a new edition of the Methodist Hymnal was about to be released, and the prospect of increased sales of the 1935 edition created optimism in the Methodist publishing world that had been hard hit by the Great Depression.   Methodist publishing in the United States had grown up with denomination.  In the early years, it was called the Methodist Book Concern and was headquartered in New York City.  In 1820 the General Conference authorized a second facility west of the Appalachians in Cincinnati and named Martin Ruter, later to head the Texian Mission, as its head. 


The Book Concern combined the offices of publisher, book store, and newspaper office, and as the denomination grew, it established several other regional concerns, including the one in Galveston. 


The newspapers at the various Book Concerns had chronic money problems, and the most reliable source of revenue were the tracts and hymnals distributed by the circuit riders---The iconic image of the circuit rider on horseback with saddlebags was accurate.  The saddlebags contained publications for sale.  Hymnals were purchased by individuals, not by the churches.  They rarely contained the music, but often offered suggestions about what tunes were appropriate for which hymns.  The hymnals were often printed in very small book form—just three or four inches on a side with correspondingly small fonts.  Since they were owned by the individual and not the church, they were often used as devotional texts during the week at family worship.


As Methodism matured, so did its publishing efforts.  As circuits changed to stations, pew hymnals became more common.  The practice of printing hymnal with music became dominant with the result that fewer hymns could be included in a hymnal.  Obviously the earliest hymnals had stressed hymns written by the Wesley’s and their associates, but hymn writers continued to write hymns that resonated with worshipers so they were included.  One result was the percentage of Wesley hymns shrank. 


By the 20th century Methodism had created a system of universities and seminaries which included in more scholars trained in musicology, liturgy, and church history.   Those scholars tended to be more “high church” than the average member in the pew in rural Texas.  Many such professors were appreciative of the deep spiritual roots of early church music and wanted to introduce it to a new generation.  The Book Concern was now called the Publishing House, and had its sales division known as Cokesbury.  (a portmanteau term from Bishops Coke and Asbury.)


Naturally when the General Conference authorized a new hymnal, the Publishing House drew upon the expertise of the scholars in the field, but their tastes did not always coincide with the preferences of the average parishioner.  In 1923 an attempt was made to meet market demand for the more popular hymns that had been written mainly in the late 19th century that were more nostalgic  than the 18th century Wesleyan compositions.  Think especially of Bringing in the Sheaves, Church in the Wildwood, etc. The newer songs were published as the Cokesbury Hymnal. 


Meanwhile anticipating the 1939 Union, the Publishing House issued a new edition of the Methodist Hymnal.   The Publishing House started an advertising blitz to solicit pre-publication orders of the 1935 hymnal and sent pre-publication copies to prominent Methodists to write blurbs to be used in the advertising.  J. N. R. Score, pastor of First Methodist Fort Worth, wrote such a complimentary letter that it was used in a full page ad in the Christian Advocate.  A, J. Weeks, editor of the Southwestern Christian Advocate, was equally enthusiastic.  He left no doubt when he wrote,  We also hope that the introduction of the New Hymnal will mean that the semi-jazz songs so common in this time, will be forever banished from the Methodist meeting house.  The hymns of the church were born or experience and not written for the trade. . . . You wonder why some of our evangelistic campaigns appear to lack permanent value.  If you listen to the songs you sometimes hear in them you will cease to wonder.  The radio gives you enough of this vocal trash without the church joining in this conspiracy of spiritual and intellectual depression.” 



Although the New Methodist Hymnal was reasonably price at $2.00 each, there was continuing demand for the Cokesbury Hymnal so in 1938 a new edition of it was published.


Both the Methodist Hymnal the Cokesbury hymnal had staying power.  These two books were the hymnals of my youth in the 1950s.  The black covered Methodist Hymnal on Sunday morning and the maroon Cokesbury at Sunday evening services. 



When reading Weeks’ castigation of the semi-jazz hymns of his era, one is reminded of the more recent contemporary divide over “praise” music and “traditional” music. 


Saturday, July 24, 2021

This Week in Texas Methodist History July 25



Advocate Publishes Horace Bishop Dictated Memoir, July 1943



Many, if not most Texas Methodists have been on Bishop Boulevard on the SMU campus, probably without knowing the preacher being honored with name.  I will confess that when I first saw the name, I thought if might refer to the office of bishop rather than a person’s name.


It is actually named for Horace Bishop (1843-1933) the first chair of SMU’s Board of Trustees.  At the time Bishop was serving as Presiding Elder of the Waxahachie District of the Central Texas Conference.  The preachers of the district raised $5000 to build Bishop Boulevard which is today one of the most beautiful tree-shaded spots in Dallas. 

Mrs. R. W. Baird, one of Bishop’s daughters gave the Advocate a copy of a brief memoir her father had dictated to her.  The Advocate editor published the account in two installments in July 1943, ten years after his death.   The memoir reveals an interested insight into Bishop’s call to the ministry—it had been while he was in Confederate Army service under the direction of Chaplain John Keener, assisted by Enoch Marvin, both of whom would later be elected bishops of the MECS.


Bishop moved to Palestine from Virginia in 1860 when his father was elected to the presidency of Palestine Female Academy.  The family traveled by rail to Memphis then by steamboat to New Orleans and then Shreveport.  The last 150 miles to Palestine were by hacks.


Horace Bishop worked in a drugstore until his induction into the 28th Texas Cavalry Dismounted as part of Henry McCulloch’s command.  His unit became known as Walker’s Greyhounds as they developed a reputation for how fast they marched.  His most difficult march was from Shreveport to Arkadelphia in three days in the rain with one ear of corn as the only food.  Bishop fought in several battles including Mansfield, Milliken’s Bend, Pleasant Hill, and Jenkins Ferry where he was wounded.  


Bishop had the services of several chaplains while in service.  His first was Frank Patillo who was discharged because he often preached until midnight, defying the orders of his commander to let the men sleep.  His favorite was a Baptist, Martin V. Smith, who preached twice a day for forty days and forty nights.  His preaching resulted in 250 baptisms.  Another chaplain team of John Keener and Enoch Marvin also preached to Bishop’s outfit.  Both men were later elected bishops of the MECS.


Bishop had received a good education from his father.  He said he carried a copy of Bacon’s Novum Organum in his knapsack in CSA service.   That background quickly gained him appointments to some of the best churches in Texas in Fort Worth, Corsicana, Waxahachie, San Angelo, and Waco.  His erudition was a good fit for the increasing number of well educated urban residents of Texas.  He was pastor at Waco when the Children’s Home was created there.


As one of the most distinguished members of the Texas clergy, he was one of the founders of SMU and served as the first chair of its Board of Trustees. 


He died at the home of his daughter in San Angelo, but was buried in Restland Memorial Park in Dallas. 



Saturday, July 17, 2021


This Week in Texas Methodist History July 18


Methodist Colleges Do Their Part for War Effort, July 1943



Students of Texas Methodist history know that the Civil War devastated Methodist colleges. 

Students went to war and financial support dried up.  The case of World War II was different.  World War II actually increased the student population and helped institutions financially.


By World War II SMU was the leading denominational institution of higher education not just in Texas but in the Southwest.  It was very young school, having opened its doors in 1915 so it celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1940.  The decision to plant a university in Dallas was fortuitous for helping the war effort.  The city’s transportation, banking, insurance, and manufacturing sectors made it ideal for helping stock the “Arsenal of Democracy>”   The main contribution of the Dallas Fort Worth area was in the field of aviation.  Military aircraft were vital to the war effort and had to run twenty four hours per day.   SMU responded by offering classes to accommodate the shift workers at those plants.


It’s hard for us to imagine today but SMU offered classes at 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 a.m.   The courses were in the engineering department and designed to teach the technical skills useful in the aviation industry.


Southwestern University in Georgetown was situated in a bucolic agricultural area rather than a thriving metropolis, but it also contributed to the war effort.  In July 1943 President Score announce that 384 prospective naval pilots had enrolled for the ground school portion of their training.   The legend of these naval pilots is well known in Southwestern lore since many of them were recruited from the UT, A&M, and SMU football programs and while at Southwestern led SU to consecutive Sun Bowl victories.  


Concentrating on the football exploits of the naval pilots at SU obscures many other interesting aspects of the program.  For example, where would the student pilots be housed? 

Women students were moved out of Laura Kuyendall.  That building was commissioned as the U. S. S. Kuykendall and the Navy moved in its own kitchen equipment, infirmary, etc.  My uncle, who was a civilian student at the time, told me of the trouble he and some of his classmates got into when they raided the U. S. S. Kuykendall’s mess for some hams (federal property).  The civilian dining hall did not have access to as much meat. 


Women students were moved into Mood Hall which had formerly been a men’s residence.  Since women were now occupying those rooms, the university repainted the rooms in pastel shades of peach, ivory, blue, and buff.  They even added crystal light fixtures.  The fancy tile bathrooms I used when I lived there in 1965-66 were installed at this time.  I always wondered why there were so many fancy bathrooms in Mood Hall.  Now I know.  They were put in for the women.


The men who had formerly lived in Mood Hall were sent to Snyder Hall (a predecessor of Sneed Hall, a women’s honor dorm,) fraternity houses, and private residences.


The fine arts department was moved to First Methodist Church where remodeling for art studios and rehearsal space was added.   The college catalog reflects new courses in aviation, meteorology, and navigation.


The addition of almost 400 tuition paying students provided an economic lifeline to SU which had been struggling to make financial ends meet.  They were fortunate that Georgetown was in the 10th Congressional District and that the young U. S. Representative representing the 10th, Lyndon B. Johnson, had been assigned to the Naval Affairs Committee.  It was LBJ who guided the bill through Congress.   


Saturday, July 10, 2021


This Week in Texas Methodist History July 11


Olin Nail Calls for Defeat of Free Textbook Constitutional Amendment, July 1935



Olin Nail (1890-1971)was the most prominent Texas Methodist historian of the middle third of the

20th Century.  He was a pastor in the West Texas/Southwest Texas (now Rio Texas Conference) and in addition to serving as a pastor in San Antonio, Austin, Smiley, Carrizo Springs, Falfurrias, and serving as Conference Secretary for 12 years, he served on all the  committees celebrating historical milestones.  He edited the Texas Methodist Centennial Yearbook, wrote a history of his own conference, and edited a volume on the history of Texas Methodist in the first half of the 20th Century.    


In July 1935 he wrote an editorial for the Southwestern Christian Advocate in which he urged readers to vote against the proposed constitutional amendment calling for the distribution of free textbooks in Texas schools.  His opposition was rooted in one of the more unpleasant aspects of our past that we should acknowledge, anti-Catholicism. 


The wording of the proposed amendment to be considered by voters on August 24 was to provide free textbooks to “every child attending any school in the state of Texas.”


School children, even in the primary grades, were supposed to supply their own textbooks, usually from a list supplied by the County Superintendent of Schools (an elected official whose main responsibility was supervising the one-room school houses that predominated in rural Texas.  Families kept textbooks and teachers could not expect all their students to have the same book.  As the Depression strained family resources a free textbook movement arose, most famously in Louisiana where Huey Long made it a part of his populist agenda. 


Nail’s objection was that parochial schools would be included in the free textbook program if the constitutional amendment passed.   Nail readily acknowledged he didn’t care about the few Lutheran and Episcopal schools in Texas.  All he cared about was the Roman Catholic parochial schools.  He decried the “vicious” law already on the book that prohibited school officials from asking the religious affiliation of job applicants for teaching positions.  That question was routinely used to deny employment to Roman Catholics. 


This aspect of anti-Catholicism strikes embarrassingly close to home.  In 1920 my grandfather was serving the six-point Keltys Circuit.  The public school teacher quit, and my grandfather was approached to fill the vacancy.  The deciding factor in his taking the job was that the other candidate for the position was Roman Catholic.  Although the roots of anti-Catholic bias are complex, one should remember that the main issue for Methodists of the era was Prohibition, and Roman Catholics were seen as the main opposition to enacting prohibition laws.     The same Aug. 24 election also had repeal of Prohibition on the ballot.  National Prohibition ended in 1933, but Texas enacted state prohibition laws. Also on the ballot was a proposal for the state to provide old age pensions. 


The repeal of prohibition and old age pension questions both passed, but the free textbooks to parochial schools failed.  Governor Allred called a special session of the Legislature almost immediately after the votes were counted.  It was in that special session that the laws concerning sale of alcohol----local option----were passed. 


As conservative churches began creating segregation academies, their opposition to Roman Catholicism diminished.  They were not both on the same side of trying to get tax funding for their private schools. 


A series of Supreme Court decisions formulated the “child benefit theory.”   That is, if the state aid was a benefit to the student and not the school, it was permissible.  The first such aid was transportation via public school buses to private schools, but soon expanded to textbooks, so that today private schools routinely receive public funds including textbooks for secular subjects. 



There is another aspect of Olin Nail’s anti-Catholicism.   As the most prolific Texas Methodist historian of the middle third of the 20th century, he wrote about the origins of Texas Methodism in the Mexican period.   It is well known that embracing Roman Catholicism was a prerequisite for receiving a land grant.  My own research shows that the requirement was loosely enforced and widely evaded.  Nail and I have reached different conclusions about role of religion in Mexican Texas. 



Saturday, July 03, 2021



 This Week in Texas Methodist History July 4


Today’s post is written by Chuck Chandler


Cedar Creek Church in Washington County Hosts 4th of July Barbeque


It was at this old church that a barbecue was given by the citizens in 1842. General Houston,

Major A J. Donelson and General Lamar were invited to make speeches on the topics of the day.

At that period the subject of annexation was being discussed and as Major Donelson was the

minister to Texas from the United States, it was expected that he would base his remarks on that

subject, which he did in glowing and eloquent terms. His discourse was listened to with marked

respect, as he, in addition to being the minister of the United States, was also the adopted son of

General Jackson. Consequently, he in a large sense spoke the opinions of that great and

influential man. However, the day was opened by Judge Nimrod of Chappell Hill, the orator of

the day. The Judge was a highly educated gentleman who bad taken his degree at the State

University in Alabama, and was in his prime. The day being the Fourth of July, the Judge was

full of pluck, and fully feathered. He soon left the earth and was amidst the planets, on track of

the American Eagle. The national bird led him from star to star, and wandered most gloriously

among the original Thirteen. When he commenced his descent he circled gently among the

murky clouds, touching now and then upon their highest points, until, to his great delight and

safety, he reached the arc of a rainbow, and after descending eloquently and grandly of its

beauties, slid gently to the earth without rumpling a feather. Such was the character of the

speeches made in those days upon such occasions. General Lamar followed Major Donaldson

and Judge Nimrod, his efforts bristling with eloquence and with patriotism.

This barbeque was at the Cedar Creek church in Washington County and was actually held on

July 4, 1845 since Andrew Jackson Donelson was appointed Chargé d'Affaires to Texas on

September 16, 1844 and left Texas on or soon after August 9, 1845.

Reprinted from “Sixty years on the Brazos; the life and letters of Dr. John Washington Lockhart,


Page 1 of 1



Sunday, June 27, 2021

This Week in Texas Methodist History  June 27



Chappell Hill Female College Holds Commencement Exercises, June, 1878


Because Francis Asbury Mood shifted the focus of Texas Methodist higher education from Chappell Hill to Georgetown when he led the transformation of Soule University into Southwestern University, we forget that the Chappell Hill Female College continued after the closing of Soule. Not only did it survive into the 20th century, it provided a good education for young women, especially in the fine arts.


In June 1878 a reporter attended all three days of the commencement and filed his report.


Commence Exercises of
Chnppcll Bill Female College.

This interesting occasion began Friday
night with a juvenile con-
cert. "The little ones" acquitted themselves
admirably in the rendition of each
The annual commencement sermon was preach-
ed by Rev. W. G. Connor D. D. ofWaco.
At night the pulpit w as filled b) the presi-
dent of the college. Rev E. D. Pitts.
Monday night concert by the music class
which numbered sixty-five and the only
true description that can be given of the
entertainment -is 'that it must have been
witnessed to be appreciated.

Rev. A. El Goodwyn of Galveston deliv-
ered an "Educational Address" upon the
conclusion of which diplomas were award-

Prof. John C Wiley in a very pathetic
manner awarded medals for superior proficiency in
The exercises closed with
a grand concert.
Note:  the pathetic manner in which medals were 
Awarded means “with feeling”.  



Sunday, June 20, 2021


This Week in Texas Methodist History  June 20, 2021


Czech-Texas Pastor Repatriated, June 1942

Joseph Paul Bartak, superintendent of the Methodist Mission in Prague, returned to New York City in June, 1942 on the diplomatic ship, Drottingholm.  His 900 fellow passengers were other Americans who had endured months of detention in Nazi camps. 


Bartak first came to the USA in 1907 as a nineteen year old from Bohemia which was then part of the Austrian Empire.  He went first to Chicago, and although he knew no English, he was hired by the Chicago Tract Society to distribute religious literature among his countrymen living in Chicago.  After attaining English fluency, he enrolled in Southwestern University.  One of the attractions of Southwestern University was that Williamson and Bell Counties had numerous Czech-speaking residents, and Bartak preached to them.  At different times he was affiliated with both the Central Texas and Texas Conferences.  While in the Texas Conference, he lived in Marlin and served congregations in the Brazos Valley.  After Southwestern, he enrolled in Vanderbilt where he earned a B.D. and the University of Chicago where he earned an M. A.  In 1925 Southwestern conferred an honorary doctorate.


When Czechoslovakia was formed after World War I, Bartak volunteered for missionary service there and, with his wife Marian, started building the Methodist Church in his homeland.   


In December 1941 when war was declared between Germany and the United States, the Gestapo arrested Bartak and imprisoned him in a Prague.  After several weeks he was transferred to a castle at Laufen, Germany, near the Austrian border.  The Germans had commandeered the castle to hold internees. 


While at the castle, Bartak acted as Chaplain to his fellow internees including fellow Methodist missionary G. P. Warfield who had been captured in Warsaw, Poland.  (My Uncle Charles Hardt had been a missionary to Poland, but when missionary donations decreased during the Depression, Charles and Ruby returned to Texas.  If they had been in Poland, they would have also been interned.)  In gratitude for his daily worship services, his fellows presented him with a “diploma” signed by his “congregation>”    He was able to bring that document back to the US.  He also brought back a Czech Bible printed in 1488, possibly the only surviving copy and possibly the oldest Czech Bible in existence. 


Bartak came to Houston in November, 1942 to attend the Texas Annual Conference and returned to preaching to Czech speaking congregations.  He went back to Czechoslovakia after the war, but returned to the US fairly frequently.  Marian Bartak was a popular speaker at various Schools of Mission.  She related her experiences in organizing  the first Epworth League and the first Wesleyan Service Guild in Czechoslovakia.  The Communist takeover and subsequent suppression of Christianity forced them to relocate to Vienna.  Jospeh died in 1964.   .