Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Angus McAllister Stewart: Concluding thoughts

Concluding thoughts

The bulk of his ministry occurred in the state of Texas. Yet Angus McAllister Stewart was born, reared, educated, licensed, and ordained in Georgia – meaning Georgia Free Will Baptists are a primary source of influence on the Free Will Baptists of Texas, especially in East Texas and Central Texas where Stewart labored profusely.[i]

As an evangelist, Stewart engaged in revivals that over a century later appear both numerous and successful.[ii] He traveled, not only promoting the work of Free Will Baptist churches, but also education. He pastored churches in Texas, Georgia, Minnesota, and perhaps elsewhere. These churches include, in Georgia: Pleasant Grove and Pleasant Springs in the Chattahoochee Association; in Minnesota: Champlin, Hennepin County; in Texas: Bright Light and Bryan in Brazos County; Lone Star and Rape’s Chapel[iii] in Cherokee County; Evergreen in Grimes County; Beckville Clayton, Tatum, and Union Chapel in Panola County; Good Hope and Union Springs in Rusk County. Some of the churches organized by Stewart are found on pages one and two above. Not listed in the previously referenced newspaper article, Evergreen Church in Grimes County must be added to the list of churches organized by A. M. Stewart, bringing the total to about 19 churches believed to be organized by him.[iv]

A. M. Stewart was a man of letters, but apparently never an author. The theology of Stewart is not known to be set down on paper, unless it found be in the Articles of Faith of the Texas Free Will Baptist Association organized in1878. As the founder and primary leader of the Texas Free Will Baptists at the time, it is likely that he produced the Articles of Faith or at least heavily contributed to the document. On the other hand, it is possible that the articles were copied from an older source. Though the minutes of the first session of the Texas Free Will Baptist Association are not available, the articles in 1894 and later minutes likely represent the articles originally adopted by the association. These Articles of Faith are both succinct and biblically-oriented. The statement is limited to five articles; one each on God, Free Will, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Bible.[v] The statement consists mostly of quotations or references to biblical texts. Article 1, for example, is basically a quotation of 1 Timothy 2:5-6. Article 5 is a quotation of 2 Timothy 3:16. This provided the foundation for the doctrine and practice of the early Texas Free Will Baptists. The Constitution, Church Decorum, Government and Ordinances documents provide further detail and insight into the faith and practice of early Texas Free Will Baptists.

With the understanding that A. M. Stewart founded the first Anglo-American Free Will Baptist work with historical continuity, we may pronounce him the “Founding Father” of Free Will Baptists in Texas. There was a prior “spontaneous” work that emerged from the “Regular” Baptists that had a brief existence circa 1850 in the area of Sabine County, Texas.[vi] The African-American St. Paul Freewill Baptist Church in Lancaster, Texas preceded Stewart’s church in Panola County by 6 years. Other Anglo Free Will Baptists entered Texas independently of Stewart and also started churches that have continued to the present – albeit arriving later than he. Nevertheless, through his life and ministry, Angus McAllister Stewart made an original and lasting contribution to the founding of Free Will Baptists in Texas.

His work is done. He kept his faith. The Panola Watchman reminded its readers regarding this “man of God, friend of all mankind” who was “loved by all with whom he had acquaintance”

Weep not that his toil is over;
Weep not that his race is run.
God grant we may rest as sweetly,
When, like his, our work is done.

[i] Joseph Apperson, moderator of the 1894 session of the Texas Free Will Baptist Association and pastor of New Prospect in Cherokee County, was also already an ordained minister in Georgia before he came to Texas. His father David J. Apperson served as moderator of the Chattahoochee United Free Will Baptist Association about 30 years.
[ii] Some of the revivals lasted three weeks, perhaps longer. Stewart at times had charge of the music – “The choir under the direction of Mr. Stewart aids in the services with splendid music – and he also engaged noted singers of the day, such as W. C. Frasier and J. E. Thomas. See The Bryan Daily Eagle, Friday, Vol. 18, No. 148, May 16, 1913, p. 2 ; “The Revival,” The Bryan Daily Eagle, Vol. 3, No. 125, Tuesday, April 26, 1898, p. 4; “The Revival,” The Bryan Daily Eagle, Vol. 3, No. 132, Tuesday, May 4, 1898, p. 4; “Continued Meeting,” The Bryan Morning Eagle, Vol. 4, No. 129, Wednesday, April 26, 1899, p. 3.
[iii] I have not located Rape’s Chapel in Cherokee County or elsewhere, but the assumption is that it was located in Cherokee County, Texas.
[iv] Evergreen at Keith in Grimes County was organized by Stewart in 1895. W. T. Wood was the first pastor. See From the Red to the Rio Grande, p. 283.
[v] For example, neither apostasy nor feet washing are mentioned – though feet washing is briefly addressed the 29th statement of the “Church Decorum.”
[vi] The Free Will Missionary Baptist Association was formed by churches that withdrew from the Sabine Baptist Association. The Sabine Association was not “Primitive,” but was opposed to Missionary Societies, Fraternal Orders and (apparently) held to a general Calvinistic soteriology. In contrast, the Free Will Missionary Baptist Association adopted the name “Free Will” and held the distinctives of Free Will Baptist theology – general provision, the free response to the universal call of the gospel, open communion and apostasy, as well as adopting pulpit affiliation (i.e., exchanging pulpits with different orders of Baptists and/or other denominations, which neither the Anti-Missionary Society, Missionary, nor Primitive Baptists would do). – Flowers and Fruits from the Wilderness, Z. N. Morrell, 1872, pp. 192-93.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Angus McAllister Stewart: Sickness and death

Sickness and death

In 1913 another tragedy visited the Stewart home. Angus Stewart had an unlikely and seemingly insignificant accident. He stepped on a tack, which punctured into his foot. The puncture apparently and outwardly healed, but became inwardly infected. Blood poisoning set in and eventually doctors determined to amputate part of his leg to save the patient. All of this was to no avail. At 9 o’clock a.m. on Wednesday, September 13 “his body gave up the struggle and his great, noble soul leaped from its earthly tenement to meet its Creator.” His funeral was described as “possibly the largest gathering of people ever assembled in the Christian Church.”[i]

By the time the Texas Free Will Baptist Association met in October 1913, Angus McAllister Stewart had gone to his long sought home. “Rev. D. R. Jimerson being the oldest minister present assumed the Chair as Moderator on account of the death of the former Moderator…”[ii]

To the memory of the organizer and promoter of the Freewill Baptist
church in Texas:
                                    Inasmuch as our Heavenly Father in his wisdom has seen fit to
remove from our midst our Leader and Co-work, Rev. A. M. Stewart,
                                    And whereas, he was organizer of our church in Texas, and always
a promoter of anything for its interest and welfare, not only among people
of his own church, but always lending a hand to all Christianity,
                                    And whereas, another one of God’s Noblemen has gone, his presence
will be missed in our ranks, but the members of the Ministers’ Association
in the town where he lived, one after another, stood at the funeral and
expressed the keen sense of their loss, it is needless to say that his family is
heartbroken. Yet he is better off, far, than we, and soon those, who follow
his Christ, may enter the same joys.
                                    Therefore, be it resolved; first, that our association extend to the
family our sympathy and our prayers.
                                    Second, that we commend our church to his God and advise that
our people follow Him in the same earnest spirit, which our brother manifested.
                                    Third, that a copy of these resolutions be spread on our minutes and
a copy furnished the family.
                                    Done by order of the association in session, this 3rd day of October,
E. S. Jameson, Chairman Committee.

A. M. Stewart’s remains were laid to rest at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Carthage, Panola County, Texas. Friends in Bryan, Texas described him as “a man of sound intellect, a forceful speaker, an energetic worker, and happiest when ministering to the wants of the sick and needy.”[iii] In a little over 60 years Angus McAllister Stewart became preacher, pastor, organizer, business man, educator, evangelist, and the “Founding Father” of the Free Will Baptist Church in Texas.

[i] “Rev. A. M. Stewart Passes Away,” The Panola Watchman. Vol. 41, No. 7, Wednesday, September 24, 1913, p. 8
[ii] Minutes of the Thirty-Sixth Annual Session of the Texas Free Will Baptist Association, October 3-5, 1913, p. 1
[iii] “Death of Rev. A. M. Stewart,” The Eagle, Wednesday, September 17, 1913, p. 5

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Angus McAllister Stewart: the Preacher

Stewart the preacher

Though his main field was Texas – organizing and pastoring a number of churches in East and Central Texas – Stewart scattered the gospel seeds widely. “The life’s work of Mr. Stewart extended over many States, including Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota and Colorado, yet Texas was his principal field of labor.” Georgia, the place of his nativity, could be included on the list, with West Virginia being a possibility (The Stewarts’ son McAllister Franklin was born in WV in 1888). In 1907 he pastored Champlin Free Baptist Church in Champlin, Minnesota, affiliated with the Hennepin Quarterly Meeting of Free Baptists.[i] His ministry in Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma remain a mystery undiscovered at this time. It is not hard to imagine ministry in Oklahoma could have occurred while he resided in Dalhart, Texas, which is only about 30 miles from the Texas-Oklahoma state line.[ii] Campo, Colorado is only about 75 miles from Dalhart, which is less than half the distance of his travel between Beckville, Texas and Bryan, Texas. Some of Stewart’s ministry in other states might well have been as an evangelist rather than as a pastor.

A. M. Stewart labored extensively as an evangelist. Much of his early labor in Texas of necessity was that of a missionary and evangelist, but such labor seems part and parcel of his ministry. His successes as an evangelist have been captured in brief newspaper reports, such as these [bold type added by this author]:

“A very successful meeting, conducted by Revs. Sandel of the Methodist
church and Stewart of the Free Baptist church, closed here [Wellborn,
Brazos Co., Tex., rlv] last night, resulting in thirty-two accessions to the
two churches…” – “Methodist and Baptist Revivals,” The Galveston Daily
News, Vol. 55, No. 132, Monday, August 3, 1896, p. 2

“Bryan, Texas, May 17.—The tent revival conducted by Rev. A. M. Stewart
closed Sunday night. There were twenty-six accessions to the church, twenty-
one by experience and baptism and five by letter. The new converts were
baptized Sunday afternoon in Carter’s creek, about three miles from town.
It was a glorious revival.” “Successful Revival,” The Temple Times, Vol.
17, No. 24, Friday, May 20, 1898, p. 7

“Rev. A. M. Stewart closed a meeting at Brightlight Free Baptist church
Sunday in which he was assisted by Rev. W. T. Wood and Rev. Hughes.[iii]
There were twenty-one accessions to the church, seventeen being by
baptism. The ordinance was administered Sunday morning at 10 o’clock
at D. P. Cole’s tank by Rev. A. M. Stewart the pastor.” – “Meeting at
Brightlight,” Bryan Morning Eagle, Vol. 3, No. 221, Tuesday, August
16, 1898, p. 3

Stewart cooperated ecumenically with other denominations in ways consistent with his own beliefs, as shown in the 1896 revival at Wellborn and other union meetings in which he participated. But for his part, the accessions for the Baptists were quickly followed up with immersion baptism of the converts – often in creeks and stock tanks in that day.

In August 1910 an unspeakable tragedy invaded the Stewart home. While living in Dalhart, Texas, the Stewarts’ son McAllister Franklin committed suicide. According to the census and a newspaper article, “Mack” was a law student. He had developed paranoia and was under a doctor’s care. The intent was to place him in the sanitarium on Friday, but he fatally shot himself on Thursday. His mother Emma was at the home when the tragedy occurred.[iv] This event no doubt colored the rest of their lives with grief, perhaps introduced misgivings of whether they had “done enough,” and may have precipitated their move back “home” to Panola County, Texas.

There is no extant record of A. M. Stewart pastoring after moving back to Carthage, but he remained active in the ministry.[v] He performed weddings and assisted at funerals. He preached “at the Christian Church at the 11 o’clock hour” on March 3, 1912.[vi] He preached the commencement sermon at the Beckville school,[vii] gave the invocation and pronounced the benediction at the High School graduation exercises in Carthage,[viii] led the devotional exercises at the Panola County Teacher’s Institute in August,[ix] occupied the pulpit of the M.E. Church in Timpson in October,[x] delivered a sermon at a community Thanksgiving service,[xi] and hosted Z. F. Griffin, a missionary from India.[xii] He even had cataract surgery in Dallas![xiii] His activities were not only civic and ecumenical. Stewart moderated the 1912 Texas Free Will Baptist Association.[xiv] He “filled his regular appointment in Clayton” in April,[xv] and “attended the Southern Free Baptist convention in Earlsboro, Okla…Bro. Stewart says he had a most enjoyable trip.”[xvi] He conducted revivals in Ore City and Bryan.[xvii]

[i] The Bryan Eagle, Friday, March 15, 1907, p. 5 and Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Monday, June 10, 1907, p. 5
[ii] According to Wikipedia, “Dalhart is located closer to six other state capitals than to Texas’ capital of Austin.”
[iii] J. M. Hughes of Waller County had been a member and minister of another denomination. He was admitted to membership in the Free Will Baptist Church at Bryan and “regularly ordained” to preach just prior to helping in the revival. – The Bryan Eagle, Sunday, August 7, 1898, p. 3
[iv] “Ends His Life With a Bullet,” El Paso Herald, Thursday, August 11, 1910, p. 9. The article calls Stewart a Presbyterian minister – which may just be in error, or perhaps indicates that he was filling the pulpit at a Presbyterian church. The article also says that “the family came from Bonham, Texas,” intimating that the Stewarts were living there before moving to Dalhart.
[v] Stewart’s “regular appointment” at Clayton – mentioned a few times in the Panola Watchman newspaper – implies that he may have been the pastor at Friendship Free Will Baptist Church.
[vi] The Panola Watchman, Vol. 39, No. 31, Wednesday, February 28, 1912, p. 1; The August paper describes his having a “regular appointment” there – The Panola Watchman, Vol. 40, No. 3, Wednesday, August 14, 1912, p. 8
[vii] The Panola Watchman, Vol. 39, No. 42, Wednesday, May 15, 1912
[viii] The Panola Watchman, Vol. 39, No. 44, Ed. 1 Wednesday, May 29, 1912, p. 4
[ix] The Panola Watchman, Vol. 40, No. 4, Ed. 1 Wednesday, August 21, 1912, p. 6
[x] The Panola Watchman, Vol. 40, No. 10, Wednesday, October 2, 1912, p.  8
[xi] The Panola Watchman, Vol. 40, No. 17, Wednesday, November 27, 1912, p. 1
[xii] The Panola Watchman, Vol. 40, No. 15, Wednesday, November 13, 1912, p. 16
[xiii] The Panola Watchman, Vol. 40, No. 36, Wednesday, April 16, 1913, p. 5; The Panola Watchman, Vol. 40, No. 37, Wednesday, April 23, 1913, p. 8; The Panola Watchman, Vol. 40, No. 39, Wednesday, May 7, 1913, p. 8
[xiv] I do not have access to the 1912 minutes, but this is implied in the 1913 minutes.
[xv] The Panola Watchman, Vol. 39, No. 38, Wednesday, April 17, 1912, p. 8. Though not clarified, one would assume this is the Free Will Baptist Church in Clayton.
[xvi] The Panola Watchman, Vol. 40, No. 16, Wednesday, November 20, 1912, p. 10. This is the Southwestern Freewill Baptist General Convention. Stewart was one of 112 licensed or ordained ministers from Texas who attended the convention in Earlsboro that year (From the Red to the Rio Grande, pp. 13-20, 261-262; See also The Free Will Baptists in History, pp. 261-262).
[xvii] The Panola Watchman, Vol. 39, No. 52, Wednesday, July 24, 1912, p. 8; The Bryan Daily Eagle and Pilot, Vol. 18, No. 148, Friday, May 16, 1913, p. 2. The meeting in Bryan was a three-week tent revival “with great results accomplished.”

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Angus McAllister Stewart: the Patriarch

Stewart the patriarch

After returning to Texas from Georgia, A. M. Stewart married Emma Eugenia Ross on November 7, 1883 in Panola County, Texas. Emma was the daughter of Arthur Brown Ross, Sr. and Sarah Jane Davis. Her mother at least, and probably her father, was a charter member of the Free Will Baptist church at Clayton, Texas. Her father was the sheriff of Panola County in the 1870s.[i] The union of Angus and Emma was blessed with five children: Norman Arthur (1885-1953), Ross Angus (1887-1962), McAllister Franklin (1888-1910), Bernard Hadley (1894-1921), and Eva Juanita Stewart Storrie (1905-1996).

Emma was a supporter of her husband’s ministry and often had to keep the home fires burning when he was away in revivals, touring the country the raise money, and such like. Though records of her works are not readily available, she engaged in labors of her own in the church. In 1894 “Mrs. E. E. Stewart” was one of three women who served on the eight-member Mission Board of the Texas Free Will Baptist Association.[ii] When a Free Baptist Young Peoples Society of Christian Endeavor was organized in 1898, “Mrs. A. M. Stewart” was elected president.[iii] She was a teacher at a B.Y.P.U. Training Class in Bryan in February 1923.[iv] In May 1922 the widow Emma Stewart married Angus Bolton McSwain “[a]t the home of Rev. and Mrs. J. J. Tatum” in Brazos County.[v] McSwain and his first wife, who died in 1916, had united with Bright Light Free Will Baptist Church by profession of faith in July of 1886, and were very active in Free Will Baptist work in Brazos County.[vi] They even named one son Angus Stewart McSwain.

Consistent with A. M. Stewart’s views on and his promotion of education, the occupations of the Stewart children – Norman (druggist), Ross (insurance agent), Franklin (law student), Bernard (druggist), Eva (school teacher) – indicate they received education beyond the high school level.[vii] Norman served as a commissioner of the city of Bryan, and was mayor from April 13, 1933 to April 12, 1935.[viii] Norman had three sons and Eva had one son, but it is not known whether any of A. M. Stewart’s descendants are currently active in Free Will Baptist churches.

[i] East Texas Family Records, Volume 5, Number 3, Fall 1981, Tyler, TX: East Texas Genealogical Society, p. 20
[ii] Minutes of the Seventeenth Annual Session of the Texas Free Will Baptist Association, October 19-20, 1894, p. 6
[iii] “New Christian Endeavor,” The Bryan Daily Eagle, Vol. 3, No. 138, Wednesday, May 11, 1898, p. 4
[iv] “The B.Y.P.U. Training Class Opened Monday,” The Bryan Weekly Eagle, Thursday, February 1, 1923, p. 1
[v] “McSwain-Stewart Wedding,” The Bryan Weekly Eagle, Thursday, May 11, 1922, p. 1; “At the home of Rev. and Mrs. J. J. Tatum this afternoon at 4 o'clock A. B. McSwain of Rock Prairie and Mrs. A. M. Stewart of Carthage, Texas were united in marriage, Rev. Tatum officiating...Mr. and Mrs. McSwain will reside at the beautiful farm home of Mr. McSwain in the Rock Prairie community.”
[vi] “Mrs. Mattie C. McSwain: A Noble Christian Wife and Mother Finds Her Reward,” The Bryan Weekly Eagle, Thursday, July 27, 1916, p. 5
[vii] U. S. Federal Censuses 1910, 1920, 1930; Ross’s and Bernard’s World War I draft registration; “Former Local Girl Weds Aviator,” The Bryan Eagle, Monday, July 8, 1929, p. 1

Friday, October 27, 2017

Angus McAllister Stewart: the Educator

Stewart the educator

A. M. Stewart was primarily a minister of the Free Will Baptist Church, but also engaged in society for civic improvement, especially in the field of education. He taught school in Georgia and Texas – and perhaps other places. He also organized schools. Former Texas Speaker of the House R. T. Milner said “of the Free Baptist college movement, they have a fine man at the head of it in the person of Rev. A. M. Stewart. I have known him for a number of years. He was engaged in school work in East Texas for ten years and built up two splendid schools in that section, Lone Star Institute and Hewett Institute. He combines splendid executive ability with the other qualifications necessary for successful school work.”[i] With Colonel Thomas A. Cocke he established the Lone Star Institute, a private school, in Lone Star, Cherokee County, Texas in 1889. The Institute “emphasized cultural accomplishments in music and elocution” and “attracted broad attention.” “(M)any families moved to Lone Star to enroll their children in it. Some of the teachers and music instructors in its four years of existence were Perry I. Wallace, a Mr. Weaver, and Erma Jones.”[ii] According to the Texas State Historical Marker Lone Star “began to decline after a disastrous fire in 1893” and this coincides with the demise of the Institute. Stewart established a Free Will Baptist Church at Lone Star, probably earlier.[iii] He also started the Hewitt Institute at Beckville in Panola County. It was in operation by 1891, was the third school in Beckville, and continued operation until1911. According to Lelia Lagrone in Know Your Heritage, Stewart was hired as the president of Hewitt in 1891 for a period of five years, in which time the school prospered.  The school year was extended to 10 months during his tenure.[iv] “Legend says that PROFESSOR STEWART used a school motto, ‘Hew to the line!’ and this became the background for the Hewett Institute.”[v]

Stewart was a leading figure in establishing a Free Will Baptist school at Bryan, Texas. In 1899, the Texas Association’s “committee on Schools and Education” discussed “the necessity for the establishment of a Free Baptist school” with the “concensus of opinion that the school should be located at Bryan.”[vi] By May of 1900 Stewart had “started on an extensive trip through the State, his object being to raise money for the erection of a Free Baptist college at or near this place [i.e., Bryan, rlv].”[vii] By March 1901 he had concluded the money-raising trip, and the school opened in the fall of 1902.[viii] Lay leader J. L. Edge was the secretary and A. M. Stewart the principal of the Academic and Collegiate Institute – presumably the same institution called the Free Will Baptist Academy in its formative stage.[ix] The Bryan Academic and Collegiate Institute was co-educational, opening with “primary, academic and collegiate departments.” As well as being president over the school, Stewart was also head of the collegiate department. The new school’s curriculum embraced “science, languages, literature, and later on, theology.”[x]During this period Stewart was a partner in Bryan Grocery, which interest he sold late in 1904 or early in 1905.[xi] In 1906, the Bryan Academic and Collegiate Institute was moved to Lancaster in Dallas County, Texas – consolidating with a military school there, and “President Stewart [remained] at the head of the consolidated school.”[xii] For reasons unknown, he apparently only stayed there one year.

A. M. Stewart was directly involved in education as teacher and founder. He also promoted education through the Free Will Baptist Associations. In 1894, the Texas Association ‘Committee on Education and Publication,’ of which Stewart was Chairman, recommended “For our ministers, Butler and Dunn’s Theology,”[xiii] and further, “We think the churches should exert themselves for the education of the ministers that come from their ranks. We think our circulating library should be looked after, the several volumes collected and a good librarian elected, and our ministers be required to use, if they have not, and connect several like reading. Our ministers should have a yearly course of reading prescribed by our board of examiners.”[xiv]

Currently little detail is known of Stewart’s own educational qualifications, though they appear respected throughout the state by those who knew him. A Bryan Daily Eagle article on the opening of the new Free Will Baptist institute in Bryan refers to Stewart as A.B. and A.M. (with these letters following his name).[xv] With the background that is currently available, it must be assumed that Angus M. Stewart received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Acts degrees from the Buford Academy. His diploma from the University of Chicago was from a course in religious or pastoral studies.[xvi]

Many ministers of the day were bi-vocational in order to support their families, and Stewart’s professional pursuit as an educator no doubt contributed to that end. He is listed as a minister of the gospel only in the U. S. Federal Census of 1900. It is not unusual for bi-vocational preachers to list as their occupations the ones from which they derived their primary incomes, and this was probably true of A. M. Stewart as well. In 1870 he was a “farm laborer” (but not yet a preacher); in 1880 a “school teacher”; and in 1910 involved in “real estate.” At one time he was part owner in a grocery store at Bryan. In addition to selling real estate, at times he also sold insurance.[xvii]

[i] “Another School Secured,” Bryan Morning Eagle, Vol. 7, No. 168, Thursday, June 9, 1902, p. 2
[ii] “Lone Star,” by Bernard Mayfield in Cherokee County History, 2001, p. 59 (See also p. 210). He may be the same as Angus Stewart who “operated a cotton gin and grist mill” in nearby New Summerfield in Cherokee County about that time, but more likely this was Angus Lorenzo Stewart who is buried at Myrtle Springs near New Summerfield. They do not seem to be related.
[iii] “Early History of Free Will Baptists,” by Mrs. H. A. Wheeler, in The Free Will Baptist February 3, 1943, p. 5
[iv] Spelled “Hewett” in some records. See Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of the State of Texas, 1892, George Smith, Secretary of State, 1893, p. 18 (Listed under “Miscellaneous Charters Filed”); The Hewitt Institute building, as well as the Methodist Church and some homes, was wrecked by a storm in November of 1892 (Cf. The Galveston Daily News, Wednesday, November 2 1892, p. 3 and History of Panola County, Circulating Book Club, Carthage, TX, 1936). The school, nevertheless continued in operation until 1911. See also Report of the Commissioner of Education for the Year 1897-98, Volume 2, United States Office of Education, p. 2326. The Bartlett Tribune, Vol. 20, No. 40, Friday, February 9, 1906, p. 6. Beckville, Texas: History of the Town and Its Schools, Jane Metcalf, p. 225. Know Your Heritage, Lelia B. Lagrone, 1997, p. 52. 
[v] Know Your Heritage, p. 52; while this might be an “apocryphal” story, it may explain the origin of the name “Hew it” Institute. There do not appear to be any prominent Hewitt/Hewett place or person names in the vicinity of Beckville.
[vi] “Free Baptist Association,” The Eagle, Thursday, October 26, 1899, p. 13
[vii] The Houston Daily Post, Vol. 16, No. 38, Saturday, May 12, 1900, p. 5
[viii] The Galveston Daily News, Friday, March 8, 1901, p. 3
[ix] “Academic and Collegiate Institute,” Bryan Morning Eagle, Vol. 8, No. 230, Wednesday, September 2, 1903, p. 2
[x] “Another School Secured,” Bryan Morning Eagle, Vol. 7, No. 168, Thursday, June 9, 1902, p. 2. See also The Burial Locations of Free Will Baptist Ministers, Volume II, pp. 557-558 and From the Red to the Rio Grande, p. 292. The board of directors was made up of 10 men and 1 woman – 8 of them from Texas and one each from Arkansas, Indian Territory, and South Dakota.
[xi] “Rev. A. M. Stewart has sold his interest in the Bryan Grocery company to his partners, T. A. Searcy and Allen Smith, who will continue the business under the same firm name.” – “Business Matters. Changes at Bryan.”, The Houston Post, Vol. 20, No. 297, Friday, January 6, 1905, p. 2. He purchased the interest with Searcy in 1900. – “Business Change,” The Bryan Eagle, Thursday, April 5, 1900, p. 5
[xii] “Bryan, Texas, May 4.—The Bryan Academic and Collegiate institute of this city will be removed to Lancaster, Dallas county. The president, Rev. A. M. Stewart, under direction of the board of directors, has contracted for the military school property at Lancaster, consisting of a main building and two dormitories, and the two schools will be consolidated. President Stewart will remain at the head of the consolidated school.” “School to Be Moved,” The Houston Post, Vol. 22, Saturday, May 5, 1906, p. 7; see also Bryan Morning Eagle, Vol. 11, No. 127, Friday, May 4, 1906, p. 2
[xiii] Lectures on Systematic Theology by John Jay Butler and Ransom Dunn, Boston, MA: Morning Star Publishing House, 1892
[xiv] Minutes of the Seventeenth Annual Session of the Texas Free Will Baptist Association, October 19-20, 1894, pp. 5-6; “Joseph Apperson was appointed librarian.”
[xv] These stand for Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts; “Another School Secured,” Bryan Morning Eagle, Vol. 7, No. 168, Thursday, June 9, 1902, p. 2
[xvi] “It is possible he could have attended the first University or the Baptist Theological Union but not gotten a degree (even if he got a ‘diploma’ but not an actual degree) – we don’t have records for those possible students.” E-mail from Tyler L. Hough (Assistant Director, Constituent Relations, UChicago Alumni Association), Monday, October 23, 2017
[xvii] “For Old Line life insurance see A. M. Stewart, Carthage, Texas.” – The Panola Watchman, Vol. 39, No. 38, Wednesday, April 17, 1912, p. 8.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Angus McAllister Stewart: the Founder

Stewart the founder

A. M. Stewart’s venture to Texas brought him to the Marshall area in Harrison County – “where he taught his first school.” While teaching at Marshall he preached “whenever opportunity afforded, and to him belongs the honor of organizing the first Freewill Baptist church to be founded in Texas.”[i] This first Free Will Baptist church was constituted near Clayton, Texas in 1876.[ii] Though in Texas in 1876, he returned to Georgia before 1880, when he is found in the census at Cedar Springs, Early County, Georgia. He is single, living alone, and a school teacher. He was (apparently) still living in Georgia in 1882 when he attended the Chattahoochee Baptist Association,[iii] but he had returned to Texas by 1883 when he married Emma Eugenia Ross November 7, 1883 in Panola County, Texas. Their marriage occurred at the Ross homestead – which was near Clayton, and by which one might guess that Emma was a member of that first Free Will Baptist Church there.[iv] “After his marriage, feeling the need of a better equipment for his ministerial work, he took a course in the Theological Department of Chicago University, from which institution he was granted a diploma.”[v]

Burgess and Ward in Free Baptist Cyclopædia, as well as other writers, credit six more early East Texas Free Will Baptist Churches to the labors of Stewart, in addition to the Clayton Church: Lone Star and Rape’s Chapel in Cherokee County; Beckville and Union Chapel[vi] in Panola County; Good Hope[vii] and Union Springs in Rusk County.[viii] With these first churches as constituent members – at least the ones already organized by the time – Stewart organized the Texas Free Will Baptist Association in 1878.[ix] Doubtless Stewart licensed and/or ordained the first Free Will Baptist ministers raised up in East Texas, such as James Pierce “Jim” Lunsford[x] and Doctor Reuben Gideon “Dock” Jimmerson.[xi]

Later Stewart moved his center of operation to Central Texas, where he is credited with organizing several churches. The first Free Will Baptist Church of Brazos County (and the vicinity) was Bright Light, organized by P. H. Adams in 1886. At times Stewart has been credited as a co-organizer of Bright Light, but perhaps he simply followed up the constitution of the church with a revival meeting. He is credited with suggesting the name of the church.[xii] “The church was organized in the summer of 1886 by the Rev. P. H. Adams...Soon after the church was organized a revival was held under a brush arbor with the Rev. A. M. Stewart as evangelist.”[xiii] After the organization of Bright Light Free Will Baptist church in 1886, eleven other churches were organized by W. T. Wood and A. M. Stewart, including Concord, Tyron Hall, and Wellborn in Brazos County; Givens’ Creek, Iola, and Spring Hill in Grimes County; Hollis, High Prairie, Plain View, and Willow Hole in Madison County.[xiv] (It is not altogether clear whether the author intends that the churches were organized by either Wood or Stewart, or by both Wood and Stewart.) Stewart was a charter member and the first pastor of the Bryan Free Will Baptist church, which he organized in 1894.[xv]

[i] Ibid. Cf. footnote 1 re the first Free Will Baptist Church founded in Texas.
[ii] Some sources identify this church as named Liberty Free Will Baptist Church of Clayton, Panola County, Texas, but perhaps it should be Friendship Free Will Baptist Church of Clayton instead. For example, when the Texas State Association met at Friendship at Clayton in 1940, E. S. Jameson states “that they were meeting in the first Free Will Baptist church to be organized in the state of Texas, 62 years ago.” (From the Red to the Rio Grande, p. 79) Friendship Free Will Baptist Church “was located halfway between Clayton and Delray communities just off present-day Farm Road 1970.” (Beckville, Texas: History of the Town and Its Schools, Jane Metcalf, p. 208)
[iii] “Our records show we had Rev. Angus McAlister Steward listed in our Chattahoochee Association Minutes in 1881-82.” Correspondence from Geraldine Waid, Archivist of the Georgia Free Will Baptist Historical Society, October 3, 2017
[iv] Emma Ross may not have been an original member there, being about 13 years old when the Clayton Church was organized. If not, it is likely that she was by the time she married A. M. Stewart. Based on the obituaries on page 10 of the 1930 Texas Free Will Baptist Association minutes, Emma’s mother (Mrs. S. J. Ross) was a charter member of Texas’s first Free Will Baptist Church: “Friendship Church: Our beloved sister and mother in Israel, Mrs. S. J. Ross, who was a charter member of the first Free Will Baptist Church in Texas.” The report of the Committee on Obituaries at the 1926 Texas Free Will Baptist Association (Minutes, p. 8) reveal two other charter members: “…Bro. J. B. Duke and Sister J. B. Duke, of Friendship Church. Brother and Sister Duke were charter members of the first Free Baptist Church in Texas. They had been faithful for nearly 49 years. Their posterity has shown their training by their faithfulness to the church.” The “nearly 49 years” statement suggests that the church was organized later in the year than their deaths, which occurred in January and April, respectively. In the church was constituted after April, its age would not yet have reached 49 years. These known charter members are Sarah Jane Davis Ross, wife of Arthur Brown Ross, Sr. and mother of Emma; and Jack Brinson Duke and his wife Lucinda Carolina Fallwell Duke.
[v] “Rev. A. M. Stewart Passes Away,” The Panola Watchman, 1913
[vi] Now known as “Union Arbor,” and sometimes listed as “Union Harbor” in minutes.
[vii] A question must be raised concerning the Good Hope Free Will Baptist Church. She counts her existence from 1875 – see, for examples, the Good Hope Church website and From the Red to the Rio Grande, p. 306. Yet Free Will Baptist historians seem to consistently agree that the first Anglo Free Will Baptist church organized in Texas was organized at Clayton, in Panola County in 1876. Pastor E. S. Jameson, who was from the Good Hope community, in the 1940 minutes of the Texas State Association of Free Will Baptists speaks of the Clayton church as the first Free Will Baptist Church. The Texas Free Will Baptist Association (the East Texas Association organized in 1878) has several such references in the minutes. So Good Hope counts her beginning in 1875 without apparently asserting any claim ahead of the Clayton Church. This creates something of a quandary. Perhaps a group at Good Hope was gathering by that time, but not constituted as a church? Perhaps Good Hope was organized as a missionary Baptist Church and then later changed to Free Will Baptist? Edna Mae Watson’s piece about “Thomas Franklin B. Jimmerson” in Rusk County History says that the Jimmerson family first joined the Missionary Baptist Church at Zion Hill when they came to Texas. Some members of the Jimmerson family were members of Ebenezer and Mission Springs missionary Baptist churches (both organized later than Good Hope). A change of Good Hope from Missionary to Free Will is a theory without proof, but a workable theory nonetheless – as is “already meeting, but not yet a church.” It seems D. R. Jimmerson, E. S. Jameson and others would have been in a position to know whether Good Hope was an older Free Will Baptist Church than the one at Clayton, yet never claimed that it was.
[viii] Free Baptist Cyclopædia: Burgess and Ward, p. 642; A Brief History Of The Liberal Baptist People In England and America From 1606 To 1911, Million and Barrett , p. 298;
[ix] The Free Baptist Cyclopædia says, “The Good Hope and Union Springs churches, in Rusk County, and the Union Chapel and Beckville churches, in Panola County, all gathered by Rev. A. M. Stewart, entered into the organization” – implying that the Lone Star and Rape’s Chapel churches either were not yet organized or did not enter the organization at the time. The Cyclopædia somehow inexplicably fails to mention the Clayton Church, which surely was a constituent member.
[x] One descendant of Lunsford has a note that he was ordained in 1877 by the “1st Free Will Church” in Cherokee County. In correspondence Elaine Maduzia revealed that she has lost most of her records due to a computer crash, and that this one online is all that survived – so she could not document the source of this information.
[xi] In the obituary of A. M. Stewart in the Carthage newspaper, Jimmerson stated at the funeral that “to him Bro. Stewart gave license to preach.”
[xii] From the Red to the Rio Grande, p. 282
[xiii] “250 Visit Harvey for Homecoming at Bright Light,” The Bryan Eagle, Tuesday, May 18, 1954, p. 5
[xiv] “Free Will Baptists,” The Bryan Eagle, Sunday, August 1, 1897, p. 4
[xv] Some sources give 1897, which appear to be incorrect. “First Free Baptist Church, Bryan, Texas,” The Bryan Eagle, Tuesday, April 22, 1913, p. 24; “Bryan Free Will Baptist Church launched in ‘94,” The Bryan Eagle, Wednesday, October 25, 1939, p. 22; See also From the Red to the Rio Grande, p. 292.