title of "Early Methodism in Dallas County," the Texas
Christian Advocate has begun the publication of a series
of three articles which have been prepared by Rev. W. H. (Uncle
Buck) Hughes. Rev. Hughes is the oldest Methodist minister in
Dallas county, if not in this section of the state, and no one
is better qualified than he to write a history of the struggles
and triumphs of the Methodists in this county for the past sixty
years. The first installment of the article is complete within
itself and The Times Herald, by permission of L. Blaylock, publisher
of the Texas Christian Advocate, has reproduced the article,
and also a picture of Uncle Buck Hughes. The article is as follows:
Brother W. C. Everett, the wide-awake
and very efficient manager of the Methodist Publishing House,
in Dallas, is collecting facts with regard to Methodism in Texas,
for the use of the future historian. As I am the eldest surviving
preacher in Dallas county, he requested me to collect such facts
as I could concerning the rise and progress of the church in
the county. In addressing myself to this work, I find no official
records for ten or fifteen years after its organization and,
therefore, I am compelled to depend alone upon memory and private
About Dallas County.
Dallas county is situated in what
is usually known as North Texas. It lies astride the Trinity
river, and in an early day, was known as the "Three Forks
of the Trinity"--Elm and West Fork come together just above
the city, and the East Fork, some miles below--hence, the name
Trinity. For a home--taking everything into consideration--perhaps
no county in the state surpasses, and few, if any, equal it.
There is a better distribution of wood, land and lasting water,
and a greater variety of soil adapted to the growth of cereals,
fruits, vegetables and melons. This county has the black-waxy
soil in all its grades, and a variety of sandy-loam unsurpassed
anywhere. This county is bounded, north by Denton and Collin,
east by Rockwall and Kaufman and south and west by Ellis and
About Early Settlers.
In 1841, Isaac B. Webb and William
M. Cochran, of Murray county Tennessee, with their young wives,
who were sisters, daughters of William and Alsie Hughes, moved
to Missouri and settled near Springfield. In 1842, not being
satisfied in Missouri, Webb came to Texas as a home-seeker. "Peter's
Colony," a land syndicate, was giving 640 acres of land
to a family and 320 to a single man as actual settlers. The office
of the company was then located at Keenan, on Farmers' Branch,
not far from what is now the north boundary of Dallas county.
Webb wended his way through the trackless prairies to this office,
and, at once, selected a section of land for himself and one
adjoining for Cochran, on Farmers Branch, and returned home.
In March, 1843, Cochran and family came to Texas and settled
on the section of land thus selected, and the next winter, was
followed by Webb and family.
Webb makes this statement in a
letter now in the hands of his daughter, Mrs. Ford: "In
January, 1844, I drove up to Cochran's cabin with my family.
Now, Keenan and family, Cochran and family, myself and family
and John L. Pulliam, a single man, constituted the first settlers
on Farmers Branch. Bonham was the nearest settlement, which was
seventy miles away."
Keenan, the first settler, was
a Baptist; Mrs. Cochran and Webb and wife were Methodists, while
Cochran and Pulliam were not members of any church.
Indians Were Numerous.
At that time, the few settlers
in this virgin country were isolated from the civilized world
by many miles, and hostile savages, who did all in their power
to prevent the occupancy of this lovely country by the white
man. Infuriated bands of Indians made frequent raids upon this
unprotected settlement, armed with tomahawk and scalping knife,
bent on theft and murder. They stole their horses and cattle.
The only way a settler could keep a horse was to put a chain
in a running noose around a log in his cabin and lock the other
end around the horse's neck. These first settlers had to undergo
untold danger, sacrifices and suffering. Their closest markets
were Houston, 275 miles, or Shreveport, 200 miles away, with
no road to either place, hence, they were compelled to supplement
their scanty supplies of food and raiment by fishing and hunting.
Buffalo, bear, deer and wild turkey and smaller game were abundant,
and bee-trees, with abundance of honey, were easily obtained,
and from these they obtained food, any by dressing the hides,
they largely shod and clothed themselves. These pioneers, as
a precaution to same themselves from being waylaid by the marauding
bands of Indians who lingered about the little settlement to
steal and murder, when they went out to their fields or elsewhere,
always returned on another route. To entrap these settlers, who
were so dependent upon wild game for a living, the Indian showed
his shrewdness and strategy by hiding himself and howling like
a wolf, gobbling like a turkey, or chattering like a squirrel,
and thereby make an easy prey of the unwary hunter attracted
Webb related the following incident,
in which he was saved from this strategy of the Indian by his
faithful dog: He was in the woods hunting, when nearby, he thought
he head the gobbling of turkeys. He, at once, started in that
direction and his dog bounded off ahead of him. In a few moments,
the dog came skulking back and seemed much alarmed. Webb, at
once, awoke to the fact that the gobbler was an Indian, and not
a turkey, and quickly made safe his retreat.
Birth of Methodism in County.
We are wholly indebted for reliable
facts with regard to the beginning of Methodism in this county,
to the diary of I. B. Webb, written at that time, which is now
in possession of W. D. Webb, his eldest son. Speaking of self
and family, he writes: "We landed at W. M. Cochran's January
27, 1844." Webb was an old-fashioned Methodist of the Wesleyan
type, and had been class leader and steward for many years in
Tennessee and Missouri. He brought his religion and Methodism
both with him to the wilds of Texas. Hence, he makes this very
significant entry in 1844: "For a season, while others hunted
and fished on Sunday, I gathered the women and children together
and sang and prayed." In this service of song and prayer,
he had the hearty co-operation of his wife, Mrs. Mary Webb and
Mrs. N. J. Cochran, both of whom
were deeply pious from early childhood and Methodists to the
manor born. Both of these sisters were mighty in prayer. They
were what were called, in those days, "shouting Methodists,"
and were often closeted with God in secret prayer, who "rewarded
them openly," with ecstasies of joy, and they were not ashamed
to praise him in the assembly of the saints.
Mrs. N. J. Cochran has the honor
of being the very first Methodist settler in this territory,
which is now Dallas county. At that time, this was a part of
Nacogdoches county, which with their other inconveniences, placed
them 150 miles from their county seat. For a time, there were
no mails and their only communication with the civilized world
was through travelers and immigrants. Through these channels,
Webb learned that the Rev. J. W. P[?] McKenzie was teaching and
preaching near Clarksville. Having known him in Tennessee, Webb
wrote him to send them a preacher, for the little settlement
was like sheep in the wilderness without a shepherd. As the result
of this correspondence, Webb makes this entry in his diary: "March
19, 1844, Thomas Brown, the first Methodist preacher who visited
the colony, stayed all night with me and preached the first sermon
ever preached in the neighborhood in the cabin of W. M. Cochran.
His text was Rom. 1:16: 'For I am not ashamed of the gospel of
Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one
that believeth to the Jew first and also the Greek. Hymn, 'From
all that dwells beneath the skies, let the Creator's praise arise:
let the Redeemer's name be sung in every land by every tongue;'
sung to the tune, 'Kedron.' "
Organization of First Church.
We find the following note in the
diary with regard to the first Methodist society organized: "Daniel
Shook, the first circuit preacher in the colony: the first society
was formed March, 1845; the first circuit preacher was in my
cabin, May 5, 1845, and a society was formed, composed of five
members, namely, I. B. Webb, Mary Webb, N. J. Cochran, M. F.
Fortner and Mrs. Fortner." Franklin Fortner, as his intimate
friends called him, was from Kentucky, and was a good man, and
of high order of native intellect, and no one in conversation
with him, on listening to his devout public prayers, would suspect
his being wholly without book learning. He was a good and useful
To this little band of Christians
in the wilderness, deprived of every comfort of civilization,
and exposed to all the dangers the presence of blood-thirsty
savages could inflict, the coming of these men of God to preach
the gospel, which the angel said "Was good news and glad
tidings to all people," was a veritable jubilee. It was
the coming in of Noah's dove with the olive leaf, which was the
earnest of the retiring flood, and the bow which promised great
prosperity in the future. All the members of this little organization
lived long enough to see the fulfillment of this promised prosperity.
The Indian, with tomahawk and bloody scalping knife, was gone,
the wild prairies were converted in to fields of wheat, corn,
oats and every product needed to meet the normal appetite of
intelligent people. They saw the five organic members multiplied
into hundreds and churches sprung up in every part of the country.
But, all these who first planted Methodism in Dallas county have
crossed over the river and gone to a better country, but thank
God, though they be dead, they yet speak, and "their works
do follow them," as is shown in the marvelous growth of
the church in the county.
Farmers Branch, small and obscure
as it may be today, has the honor of being the location of the
first land-office of Peter's Colony; the first Methodist church
(Webb's Chapel), and first Baptist church (Keenan's Chapel),
ever built in Dallas county, as well as the first postoffice
in the county.
Letter of Long Ago.
- February 11, 1912,
Dallas Daily Times Herald, Sec. I, p. 10, col. 1-5.
The following letter, written by
Webb, and published in the Nashville Christian Advocate, in May,
1845, speaks for itself:
"Farmers Branch, Tex., May 11, 1845.
"Brother McFerrin, Dear Sir:
Believing a large portion of your numerous readers would be interested
in hearing from this new and favored land, I beg leave to submit
a few items to them through your excellent paper, and if this
falls under the notice of any of my old friends in Tennessee,
and especially of Pruitt's-Lick's Class, I would say to them
to read this, and then determine whether or not it is your duty
and interest to emigrate to this new, but desirable, portion
of the Southwest. This portion of the Republic lies on what is
called the forks of the Trinity, in latitude 32 degrees north,
in what is called Peter's Colony: a large grant of land made
by the government of Texas to Peters and others, for the purpose
of settling the public land of the Republic. The company donates
320 acres of land to all actual settlers on their grant who are
the heads of families, and 160 acres to single men. The land
is equal in fertility to any in the West, being of a black, sticky
soil, and very deep, with a consistency of about twenty per cent
lime. The prairies are large and beautifully undulating, and
interspersed with springs, rivulets and fine streams of water,
gushing from crystal fountains, and flowing off in bold and living
streams during the year. The timber is somewhat scarce, and chiefly
along the water courses, consisting principally of post oak,
Spanish oak, ash, Chittam, elm, black walnut and a variety of
shrubbery. I have found the country, so far, to be healthy in
general. Persons, when first settling here, sometimes have some
chills and fever, but this is generally light, and afterwards,
they are healthy. The Trinity river is though to be navigable
to the forks, ten miles below my residence. We can raise in this
country, good corn, wheat, oats and all kinds of garden vegetables,
and as fine [a] cotton as any part of the United States. Our
crops in the colony are very promising, corn above knee-high,
and we are now harvesting our wheat, which is as good as I have
seen in any country. We have a class formed here, consisting
of eight or ten members, and have circuit preaching every four
weeks. There are five appointments within a compass of fifteen
miles. Methodism, with its characteristic zeal and untiring perseverance,
is pioneering this far West with great success. Let Methodism
be stopped, and what will be the situation of the frontier settlers?
Literally without a preached gospel for years yet to come, and,
oh, what indescribable anguish it gives us to witness the dark
and portentous cloud that hangs over our beloved Zion. We can
but give ourselves to prayer, that the Lord of Israel may direct
her destinies. We lift our voice in Macedonian cry to the local
preachers of the states, 'Come over and help us!' Here is a wide
field for usefulness. Does not duty say, "Go where you are
needed most?" Here, many can better their temporal circumstances,
and be more extensive and useful as ministers.
- o o o -
given the second installment of the article written by Rev. W.
H. (Uncle Buck) Hughes, which is now running in the Texas
Through the influence of this little
society of faithful Christians in shaping the moral and religious
character of this rapidly growing population--through gracious
revivals among the settlers--many were added to the church, while
hundreds of Methodists came by the influx of immigration.
In 1847, Webb makes this note:
"November 5 our protracted meeting commenced: James A. Smith,
Joab Biggs and William Cole are our preachers. Thirty-four joined
the church and twenty-eight were converted. A sweeping shower,
indeed. Oh, what a happy time we had, so many converted and such
displays of the power of Almighty God my eyes never beheld before."
By this date, the settlement had spread over so large a territory,
and the membership so multiplied, that it became necessary to
organize other societies. One was organized in the Cedar Springs
schoolhouse, which stood near a ravine, about two hundred yards
north of where the Cotton Belt railroad crosses Cedar Springs
avenue. I have no roll of membership, or record of the exact
date of its organization. It must have been in 1847 or 1848.
Some of the organic members were Rev. Anderson, a local preacher,
upon whose land the schoolhouse stood; O. W. Knight and family;
G. B. Knight, Jack May and family; Dr. Staten and wife, Jefferson
and Foster Dunaway, and others, whose names I cannot now recall.
About this time, a third church
was formed on Duck Creek, near where the town of Garland now
stands. Of the organic members, I only call to mind the names
of Rev. Abner Keen, a local elder; William, John and Melvin Keen,
with their families; William Turner and family, Charley Newton
and wife, R. D. Jones, Elias Myers and family. This church was
the mother of what is now Garland station.
Webb's, Cedar Springs and Duck
Creek, I believe, were the only Methodist organizations in Dallas
county, east of the Trinity, up to 1850.
Camp-Meeting and Other Churches Organized.
This little diary of Webb's says:
"Webb's Chapel was the first church put up in the county.
It was built in the spring of 1846. This house was built of hewed
logs on Webb's headright and was eighteen feet square, but was
sufficiently large to shelter the congregation and school of
Again, he says: "The first
camp-meeting held in this part of the country was in 1845 on
Joe's Branch; this camp-meeting was held near what is now Letot,
a station on the M. K. & T. railroad." These feasts
of tabernacles have been kept up annually to this day. All except
the first and the one in 1859, which was held at O. W. Knight's
Spring, and has been at various places on White Rock creek. In
1873, W. J. Clark and John Bryan generously donated to the church,
thirteen acres, upon which, a large shelter was built with many
permanent tents around it. The first camp-meeting on this ground
was conducted by Rev. Henry South, Geo. S. Gatewood and W. F.
Cummings, with wonderful displays of divine power and the conversion
of many souls. This located, permanently, the annual camp-meeting.
At the time of this valuable gift
by Messrs. Clark and Bryan to the Dallas circuit--which, at the
time, was quite large--the circuit has since been divided and
subdivided into what is now all the stations in the city, and
all the charges in the county east of the Trinity, and including
Plano and Renner, in Collin county. By these subdivisions of
charges, each one of these charges have an equity in this camp
ground. By the same process of dividing this camp ground, is
a line between the Dallas and McKinney districts, thereby placing
it in the joint jurisdiction of two presiding elders. Unfortunately,
in this division, individual and personal responsibility was
lost, and in the multiplicity of jurisdiction, the old adage
has come to pass, "what is everybody's business is nobody's
business." The glory of the once powerful arm of our church
has departed. It is to be hoped that our next district conference
will look into these things and rejuvenate and restore this means
of grace to its former glory.
At the first camp-meeting in 1845,
W. M. Cochran joined the church and became a most efficient member.
He was a fine character and very popular with the early settlers.
He was affable, social and an expert business man, had undaunted
courage, and was well calculated to become a leader in this noble
land of enterprising pioneers. Up to this time, what is now Dallas
county, was a part of Nacogdoches county, which required one
hundred and fifty miles' ride to reach he county-seat, and necessitated
the creation of a new county, which was authorized by the legislature
in 1846. When Dallas county was organized, Brother Cochran was
elected the first county clerk, and Brother Thomas, another Methodist,
the first county judge.
Some Early Ministers.
These isolated societies were first
attached to the Bonham mission, but as the population increased,
and new circuits were formed, they were placed in the McKinney,
and then in Dallas circuit. This territory, up to 1852, was served
by the following pastors, viz.: Daniel Shook, Joab Biggs, William
Cole, J. W. Harding, Andrew Cummings and W. K. Masten. These
were good men; they did not preach as a profession, but for the
love of souls. It was both dangerous and laborious to cover the
distance they had to ride on horseback, with no roads through
the prairies, nor bridges across creeks; they had to rough it,
and partake of all the inconveniences of the newcomer. His horse,
his only dependence on transportation, found few, if any, mangers
filled with provender, and often traveled for days on what it
could gather at the end of a rope. They certainly did not preach
for the money, for their salaries averaged less then $300 per
year. While they got but little pay, their efforts to do good
were greatly owned and blessed, and God gave them souls for their
Daniel Shook, the first pastor,
I never met. He was a brother of Rev. Jefferson Shook, late of
East Texas conference, and died in East Texas many years ago.
Joab Biggs was from Arkansas, and a good man, but rather exacting
and credulous. In those days, feed for the horse was scarce and
the preacher's horse had to be lariated, or hobbled and graze
for a living. Brother Biggs, while on this circuit, stopped with
Rev. Simpson, a local preacher, near Bonham, who was fond of
practical jokes, so when Biggs went out to hobble his horse (Pilgrim,
with whom he was deeply in love), Simpson suggested if he would
put the hobble on his hind feet, instead of the front, the horse
could get about better. Biggs caught the idea and put the hobble
on the hind feet. So, when he went out after his horse, to the
great amusement of Simpson, he loped off as glibly as if he had
been foot-loose, and Biggs running, almost out of breath, crying,
"Ho, Pilgrim! Ho, Pilgrim!" That was the last time
Pilgrim was ever hobbled by the hind feet. Brother Biggs located
in Collin county and died in peace at his home.
The Bonham mission was quite large.
It covered all the territory now occupied by three presiding
elders' districts, and had two preachers. Bro. William Cole was
the junior preacher. He was a precious, good man, loved by all
the people. He lost his eyesight, but patiently and happily waited
until they opened to see the King in His beauty. He died in Grayson
Of J. W. Hardin, the next preacher,
I know but little. He died somewhere in West Texas.
Andrew Cummings was a strong-bodied,
good-natured, useful pioneer preacher, and has long since gone
triumphantly to the good world.
W. K. Masten was a fair preacher
of popular turn, and was in good order with his people when I
landed in Texas, Nov. 2, 1852. Masten located that fall and settled
in the city of Dallas, went into the mercantile business, and
afterwards, was elected county clerk and lieutenant colonel in
the Confederate army. He immigrated to California and died in
Church Grows Rapidly.
The presiding elder, up to and
including 1860, was Rev. Paine, of whom I knew nothing, except
he went to California in an early day.
Next came John W. Fields, a transfer
from Kentucky. He was a strong preacher, and for years, did good
work in East Texas, and died at Forney.
Then came Rev. Ross, who only presided here for one year, and
who also died in East Texas.
Rev. John W. Tullis, who died in
Marshall, was succeeded by Rev. J. M. Belamy, a large-bodied,
clear-headed man, and a good preacher. He was succeeded in 1860
by W. H. Hughes.
Under the faithful preaching of
these servants of God, there were added to the church daily such
as are saved. These early Christian workers were greatly reinforced
in 1846 by the arrival from Mississippi, of the Rev. James A.
Smith, a local preacher, with Francis A. Winn, John Howell and
other families, who promptly connected themselves with the church
at Webb. Brother Smith was a man of God, full of the Holy Ghost
and zeal for the Master, and ready for every good word and work.
He was a strong and attractive preacher, and had the good of
church at heart. He co-operated earnestly with the circuit preacher.
He was the honored instrument in the hands of God in doing more
in giving high, moral tone, and building up a sound Christianity
in this new county than any other one man. He was a most lovable
character and justly popular with all who knew him. He died as
he lived--happy in Christ Jesus. John Henry Brown says in his
history of Dallas county that Brother Smith's neighbors called
him "Cedar Top." For the truth of history, I must say
that I was his close neighbor for many years, and if anybody
ever called him by such an uncanny name, I never heard of it
until I saw it in that history. It is not true. Capt. Lafayette
Smith was sometimes called "Cedar Top" by the boys.
The silent, but mighty, power of
the little leaven the Master says was hidden in the three measures
of meal was strikingly illustrated in the grace of God, diffused
under the ministry of these men of God. Hundreds were converted
and added to the church. The constant stream of immigrants brought
scores of Methodists who helped to swell the membership and render
the little school house insufficient to shelter the growing congregation.
Therefore, the societies at Webb's and Cedar Sprigs agreed to
unite and build a church on the half-way ground. Mrs. N. J. Cochran
gave three acres of land on her homestead--two acres for the
church and one for a family burying ground. On this plot of ground,
the two congregations built "Cochran's Chapel," which
was the first Methodist house of worship in Dallas county, deeded
and dedicated to the exclusive worship of Almighty God. The house
was 30x40 feet. The rough lumber was hauled on ox wagons from
East Texas, 150 miles, and had to be dressed by hand, and was
worth from $3 to $5 per hundred. The record shows the trustees
of this property were W. H. Hughes, O. W. Knight, J. A. Smith,
G. W. Record, F. A. Winn, F. M. Fortner, L. B. Webb, J. B. Bachman
and John Howell, all of whom have crossed over the river, except
the writer. It is a coincidence worthy of notice that that first
house of worship in the county was dedicated by Rev. W. P. McKenzie,
who was the man who sent the first preacher who ever preached
in the county. The house was dedicated without a collection or
a dollar's indebtedness. this was a strong church, and hundreds
have been converted at her altar. The pioneer house has been
superseded long since by a much larger and better house.
A Pioneer Educator.
Dr. McKenzie was among the first
preachers in North Texas, and he was certainly a pioneer as an
educator. As early as 1841, he began McKenzie Institute, in which
many of our leading men in church and state were educated. He
did more for the intellectual uplift of the boys and girls of
his day than any other man. He was an expert disciplinarian,
and had a happy art of controlling wild and reckless boys, many
of whom were sent to him for that very reason. He was a bright
and shining light in the early days of Texas. As far as I know,
the first district conference ever held in Texas was in this
house. The sainted Marvin was present and preached, as but few
can preach, and was the first live bishop many of them ever saw.
Since that time, the population in this section of the country
became so numerous that it became necessary to reorganize the
Webb's Chapel Society, which, for a length of time, had been
united with Cochran. This was done, and a nice chapel was erected
for the worship of Almighty God, near the spot the first little
log house stood, in which the first society in the country was
organized in 1844, and still later, the congregations have built
an excellent church in the town of Farmers Branch.
The rapid increase of population
made it necessary, also, for the accommodation of our people
in Cedar Springs community to again organize a church in that
neighborhood. Hence, a church was organized in the Oak Lawn school
house, which was less than one-half mile from where the old Cedar
Springs congregation worshipped in 1857. This congregation, afterwards,
built a good church, and is, today, the worthy successor of the
second Methodist society organized in Dallas county. It is known
as the Oak Lawn Station. Mrs. Knight, ninety years old, belongs
to this church, and is the only living charter member of the
old Cedar Springs church.
From 1852 to 1860.
In 1852, Texas had only recently
been wrested from the Mexican government, and annexed to the
United States. Arkansas and the Indian Territory were the veritable
Western frontier. Texas being still west of those, was though
to be something even worse than a frontier, and almost beyond
the bounds of civilization. There were no railroads, nor telegraphs--the
only chance of information was through the mails carried on slow
stages or horseback; hence, the masses of the old states were
in profound ignorance of the real merits of the Lone Star State.
Its rich, productive soil, its beautiful blooming prairies, which,
in their native state, made them a veritable garden of flowers,
and its salubrious, healthful climate was never dreamed of by
the populace. The idea prevailed that her population were semi-savages
and her people, at best, were a motley set. Somewhat discouraged
by these crude ideas of Texas, I, for a time, hesitated, but
absolutely broken down physically, and being advised by my doctor
to change climates, and the recovery of health being the paramount
consideration, I determined to move to Texas. Securing a wagon
and team and camping outfit, through rain and mud, and across
the dreadful Mississippi bottoms, we landed in Dallas county,
on Farmers Branch, November 2, 1852. I first settled on Brownings
Branch, near what is now called Bachman's Dam or Reservoir, six
miles north of the city. Since that [time], and up to this date,
I have been deeply interested in the growth and prosperity of
the church in this county.
Dallas Struggling Village.
Dallas was then a struggling village
in the woods on the banks of the Trinity, with only 150 or 200
inhabitants. At that time, there were only three little stores
in the town, viz.: Smith & Patterson, Adams and Caruth Bros.
The reader may imagine my pleasant
surprise when I state I found in the early settlers of Dallas
county, taking them altogether, the best community I had ever
met. Instead of these pioneers being composed of the riff-raff
and refugees from justice, as often falsely asserted, I found
they were from the very best class of people in the old states.
They were from the middle class, which always contains the bone
and sinew of all good communities. The lazy, indolent lower class
have not energy or courage to get up and rustle and undergo the
labor and dangers of a frontier life. What is called the upper,
or wealthy class, who live in ease and luxury, had no need to
deprive themselves of the comforts of fortune, and go into the
wilds and privations of a frontier life. Therefore, we repeat,
these early settlers were from the very best element of the old
states. It is true they were poor, but intelligent, brave, industrious,
hospitable and self-reliant. They came to this virgin country
to hew out their own destiny and secure homes for themselves
and place their posterity above the iron grip of poverty and
want. There was not a dissipated man in the neighborhood and
there was absolutely no need of lock and key. Every man seemed
to vie with all the rest to build up a model community in this
In the summer of 1853, I learned
that Rev. James A. Smith was to preach in the village of Dallas.
I determined to attend, and for the first time, I worshipped
with the pioneers of what is now the great city. We worshipped
in a little fourteen-foot square building on the southwest corner
of the public square. The framing timbers were hewn out of post
oak saplings, and it was weatherboarded and covered with clapboards
split out of the native oaks. My recollection is, there were
not more than one dozen present. At that time, there was no church
organization in Dallas. In the course of a year or two after
this, a society was organized, by whom, I do not recollect, nor
do I know the exact date. In this instance, as in almost all
the other early churches, we have no record of the organic members,
hence I give them as I remember them, viz.: James A. Crutchfield
and family--he was the first postmaster, and kept the first hotel
in the town; the widow Browder, who was a model Christian matron;
Ed Browder, district clerk; Sarah Cockrell, who donated the lot
upon which the first church was built; Dr. Rice, Marlin Thompson
and family; Andrew Moore and family. We had no house of worship
in Dallas until the Lamar Street church was built in 1868. We
preached up to that time in the lower story of the Masonic hall,
and in the court house.
Tells of Early Preachers.
- February 18, 1912,
Dallas Daily Times Herald, Sec. II, p. 6, col. 3-5.
The first preachers I met in Texas
were Rev. W. K. Masten, of whom I have already spoken; Rev. Wm.
E. Bates, a supply, a local elder from Kentucky, and who was
rather rugged in his make-up; he understood Methodist doctrine
and polity, and was always ready to ably defend both; he died
in Denton county; Harvey Cummings, the next preacher, was a young
man and rather eccentric, but did his best, and, as far as I
am informed, is living yet in Delta county; the next was Alexander
Hinkle, an elegant Christian gentleman whom, to know, was to
love; this year, he was much afflicted with an enlargement of
the arteries in his legs and had to superannuate, in which role,
he continued for many years; he died somewhere in South Texas.
Rev. L. R. Dennis succeeded Hinkle. He was a meek, good man and
a strong preacher. He was a transfer from the Tennessee conference.
When the East Texas conference was divided and the Trinity (now
North Texas) set off, he remained in East Texas, and settled
his family in Tyler. He was presiding elder of the Palestine
district at the time of his death. Rev. A. C. McDougal was a
tall, fine looking man and preached well. He lived to good old
age and died in Denton. Rev. J. W. Chalk, one of the organic
members of the North Texas conference, came from Maury county,
Tennessee, in 1851; was admitted on trial in the old Texas conference,
and sent to the frontier work. He organized the church in Fort
Worth in 1855 or 1856; transferred to the East Texas conference,
and was a pioneer preacher when it took grit and grace to do
the work of a Methodist itinerant preacher. In those days, it
was necessary to protect himself from the marauding bands of
Indians, and he had to carry his gun, as well as his Bible. He
had seen service in the Mexican war, and learned to face danger,
and trust in God. He was a most honorable man, and was popular
with all the people. His work on this circuit was crowned with
great success, and many were added to the church. After more
than a half century in the ministry, he fell asleep in Pilot
Point. Many will rise up in the judgment and call him blessed.
The above is a list of the Methodist
pastors in Dallas county, east of the Trinity river, up to, and
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printed the third and last installment of an article by Rev.
W. H. (Uncle Buck) Hughes on the early history of Methodism in
Dallas county, which has been running in the Texas Christian
The reader will discover that in
my former article, I have confined myself to the east half of
Dallas county. In those days, the Trinity river, which runs through
the center of the county, was first the boundary line between
the Texas and the East Texas conferences. When the North and
the Northwest Texas conferences were created, it was continued
as the line between them until a comparatively recent date, when
the west boundary of Dallas county was made the line between
the [missing text] under different jurisdictions left each [missing
text] Dallas county in the North Texas conference. Hence, writing
about early Methodism in the east half of the county, which was
my home, I have written of things of which I was largely, personally
cognizant. But, the two sections of the county, being in an early
day in two different conferences, had to be half in profound
ignorance of what the other was doing. Hence, the meager facts
we have of the earliest development of Methodism in the west
half of the county.
More than sixty years have elapsed,
and there are not many written records accessible. All those,
so far as I can learn, who were then actively engaged in church
work, have crossed over the river and are at rest under the shade
of the trees. So, I can get but little information with regard
to the early days of Methodism in that part of the county.
According to the best information
at hand, there were but two church organizations in the west
half of the county in the early '50's, one at Wesley chapel,
and the other at Cedar Hill. The early members at Wesley chapel
were Thomas Bransford and family, Asariah Moss, Christianna Moss,
William Sprowls, Nancy Sprowls, Jack Garner, Elizabeth Garner,
John Brandenburg and Sally Nance.
As early as 1853, Rev. George S.
Gatewood held near Wesley chapel, what he called a self-supporting
camp-meeting, in which each person prepared for their own entertainment.
Hundreds of people came to this meeting on horseback and in buggies,
and camped in the open air. Scores were converted and added to
the church. Wesley chapel was later removed to Wheatland Station.
As to the Cedar Hill church, nothing
reliable as to the date when it was organized, or who composed
its early membership, can be obtained. I know that the Rev. Robert
Crofford was on that work and taught school at Cedar Hill. On
April 29, 1856, one of the most fearful cyclones that ever visited
this section struck Cedar Hill, which was then a prosperous village,
and almost demolished it.
Description of Cyclone.
Brother Crofford gave this writer
a most graphic description of this fearful cyclone. He said in
"I saw the cyclone strike
Cedar Hill when it blew it to pieces. The destruction of houses,
wagons, fences and everything else was complete. Eight or ten
persons were killed, and some of the dry goods were picked up
twenty-five or thirty miles away. I saw the funnel-shaped, rotating
clouds coming directly toward my house. It was as dark in the
center as midnight, and as it whirled, I saw the great timbers
of the destroyed village flying off at a tangent. To my great
relief, when only a short distance from me, it deflected down
a hollow on the prairie and missed my house. The prairie southwest
of the village, was then unsettled, and the native grass was
mowed smooth to the very ground."
The Cedar Hill church and Wesley
chapel were first placed in the Waxahachie circuit. Some of the
early pastors were Revs. Henry W. South, J. M. Wright, Robert
Crofford and I. P. Jeffers. The presiding elders were Mordecai
Yell and William McLendon.
Up to 1850, the state of Texas
was in a sort of formative condition. In less than a half century,
it had been under three different governments. During that time,
there seemed to be a state of unrest. All were new-comers, and
none had lived at any location long enough to form a special
attachment for any particular place. Lands were cheap, and many
places were on the market. Almost every improved place was for
sale, and there were buyers for every place. This state of affairs
was not so much from dissatisfaction with the country upon the
part of the settlers as a conviction that if they could get an
advanced price for their improvements, the could, from the vast
areas of unoccupied country, get land as good and be able to
improve it to a better advantage.
This restless, migratory disposition
upon the part of the early settlers largely accounts for the
loss of all church records. This loss was not so much the fault
of our fathers, as the peculiar times in which they lived. They
labored, and we have "entered into their labors," and
are under everlasting obligation to them.
About Pioneer Methods.
It is too often the case that those
who come after and enjoy the well-prepared places, refuse to
recognize any obligation to those who went before, the fruits
of whose labors they enjoy. They forget the hard labor and great
sacrifice upon the part of their predecessors which made possible
these pleasant places. The pathfinders' engineering skill is
never through of by the traveler who enjoys the well-graded,
smooth and well-macadamized road prepared for this comfort. The
legatees of great fortunes sometimes fail to appreciate the sweat
and toil of the father who amassed the wealth for them--they
often speak contemptuously of their refinement and intelligence.
Not so with the parents who have gone before. They always rejoiced
in the success and prosperity of even their most wayward and
May this not be so with the children
of the worth[y] Methodist pioneers of Dallas county? May they
proudly know whence they sprang, and gladly carry forward the
great church, enterprises made possible by their worthy ancestry?
These pioneer fathers wrested from savage Indians and wild beasts,
this best of all counties, and transmitted it to us. They laid
well the foundations for moral, religious and intellectual citizenship
which we enjoy today. These early settlers have bequeathed to
us a rich legacy, and it is but just and right that we, their
posterity, as well as the future generations, should have some
idea of the names of these pioneers who wrought so well. Therefore,
with no disposition to disparage the worth of their co-workers
in other denominations (who are equally worth), I give from memory
the names of the heads of Methodist families in Dallas county,
as far as I can recall them, in the '50's.
Names of Early Members.
- February 25, 1912,
Dallas Daily Times Herald, Sect. II, p. 3, col. 1-3.
I would be glad to add the names
of the wives and children. I would be proud to call the name
of every Methodist in the county up to date, but time and space
forbid. I am painfully conscious that the names of many Methodists
who were here prior to 1860 have escaped my memory. In a few
instances, I give names of men who were not members themselves
of a church, but their families were. I insert the following
James Armstrong, Rev. L. T. Anderson,
Thomas Bronson, Samuel Brown, Rev. John B. Bachman, Joshua Barker,
Rev. James Barker, Rev. James Bird, Absolom Brandenburg, James
Brandenburg, Mrs. Lucy Browder, Edward Browder, Isam Browder,
Jerry Brown, N. M. Burford, William Carr, W. M. Cochran, R. M.
Cook, James Canaday, Thomas Crutchfield, James Crutchfield, William
Caruth, Walter Caruth, William Cox, Howard Cox, Sarah Cockrell,
Thomas Chenoweth, James Cates, Rev. Robert Crofford, Henry Carr,
Jake Caster, Rev. Jesse Daniel, Miss ___ Daniel, Foster Dunaway,
Jefferson Dunaway, Frank Daniel, James Dillon, A. J. Dennis,
Rev. L. R. Dennis, Mrs. Elizabeth Dergen, William Edmondson,
Joseph Elliott, Franklin Fortner, Elijah Fike, Nat C. Floyd,
John D. Floyd, D. G. H. Gilbert, John J. Good, Jack Garner, John
Howell, Edward W. Hunt, John Harvey, Rev. W. H. Hughes, Enoch
Horton, Wm. Jenkins, R. D. Jones, O. W. Knight, G. B. Knight,
Wm. A. Knight, Rev. Abner Keen, William Keen, Rev. John W. Keen,
Melvin Keen, David Lane, Henry Lively, G. W. Laws, John Laws,
L. P. Minter, Mrs. ___ Moon, Marion Moon, W. C. McKamey, A. J.
May, Rev. W. K. Masten, A. J. Moore, Azeriah Moss, Wm. McCuller,
Jilson McCuller, Rev. John Morgan, Joseph Morgan, Charles Newton,
Charles Newby, Charles Nash, George W. Record, Dr. A. D. Reece,
D. W. Reedy, Rev. James A. Smith, Wm. Sprowls, Joshua Smith,
Rev. James A. Smith, Capt. LaFayette Smith, Rev. W. R. Smith,
J. W. Smith, J. P. Smith, J. P. Shelby, Dr. Slaton, Rev. T. J.
Sherwood, Rev. Wesley Sherwood, David Shahan, John Thomas, Ellis
Thomas, Alexander Thomas, Marlin Thompson, Dr. D. B. Thomas,
Wm. Turner, I. B. Webb, Asbury Webb, R. J.[?] West, Thon C. Williams,
Ned Welborn, J. M. Wright, J. M. Wright [listed twice], F. A.
Winn, Phillip Winn, Wm. Wester and Nathaniel Yergen.
Absolute accuracy is not claimed
for some of these dates. These things began more than sixty years
ago. In some instances, my memory may have limped, but they are
all substantially correct. Since 1860, the population of the
county has so increased, and the church so multiplied in both
congregation and membership, that it would take a large volume
to give anything like a full history of the Methodists in this
county up to date.
The growth of the church, in both
numbers and wealth, is marvelous. The growth of Methodism in
this county is illustrated by the great fig tree, spoken of by
Mr. Froude. He says: "I saw in Natal, a colossal fig tree.
It had a central stem, but I knew not where the center was, for
the branches bent to the ground, and struck root there, and at
each point, a trunk shot up erect and thrown out new branches,
in turn, which again, arched and planted themselves, until the
single tree became a forest, and overhead was spread a vast dome
of leaves and fruit, which was supported upon innumerable columns,
like the roof of some vast cathedral." The reproductive
power of the many trees in one may well illustrate the growth
of connectional Methodism. The little society of five members,
which has sent out its branches, has taken root in every part
of the county until its members are now numbered by the thousands.
We have, today, in Dallas county,
thirty-three churches, with 7,180 members, and thirty Sunday
schools, with 6,000 scholars, officers and teachers; twenty-five
Epworth Leagues, with 1,500 leaguers. We have in church property,
counting churches, schools and the publishing house, $2,000,000.
When we consider this wonderful success, we are surprised at
the unequaled growth of Methodism. With grateful hearts, we exclaim:
"What hath God wrought?" For these gratifying results,
we have abundant reasons to be thankful to the Great Head of
But, while we with grateful hearts
rejoice, we should not forget to depend upon the Almighty Father
for further and greater success. Just in proportion to the great
success and wonderful increase, are our obligations and responsibilities
multiplied. Where much is given, much is required. While the
growth of the church has been most gratifying for the past three-score
years, the increase of population in the county has outstripped
us, and is, today, nearly 150,000, and the number of unsaved
is greater than ever before. God help the church to meet the
enlarged obligation and providential opportunity. Amen.
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