For the last few years, I have been fascinated by the history of Baptists in Texas. Having lived in Texas for 23 years, and having graduated from a Texas high school and two Texas Baptist Bible colleges, I came to realize that I knew almost nothing of this tremendous, exciting, amazing period of church history in my own backyard.
Our Texas Baptist history goes all the way back to the days of Austin’s 300 Families, the Alamo, the founding of the Republic of Texas, and the Annexation into the United States. I learned of men like Z.N. Morrell, Noah Byers, Thomas Pilgrim, James Huckins, Rufus Burleson, William Tyron, R.E.B. Baylor and others – those hardy pioneers who fought men and devils just to have the right to preach the gospel and start churches in this pioneer land. These men paved the way for one of the greatest church planting surges in world history from the 1880’s to the beginning of the 20th century, when a “First Baptist Church” appeared in almost every city, town, village and crossroads in the State.
Below are two hard-to-find books, recently converted into Kindle format, which you might enjoy if you are interested in this great subject:
“Flowers And Fruits In The Wilderness” by Z.N. Morrell. This book was written by one of the most influential men in Texas history. Morrell arrived in Texas with his family at the dawn of the Republic and spent his long life laboring to establish the Baptist cause in Texas. Anyone who loves pioneer stories will be thrilled by Morrell’s many adventures in the wilderness of mid-19th century Texas. (Those of you who are familiar with the autobiography of Methodist circuit rider Peter Cartwright will find many similarities; if you enjoyed Cartwright’s book, you will love Morrell’s.)
“The Old Guard” by Dr. RC. Burleson. Dr. Burleson, the second president of Baylor University, had always intended to write a book called “The Old Guard,” but died with the book unfinished. What he had compiled was edited and added as an appendix to a 900+ page biography of Dr. Burleson written by his wife. This concise version lists 17 of the “Old Guard,” all of whom Dr. Burleson knew personally. It contains fascinating information. Also included is his account of the 1848 revival in Galveston. At a little over 100 pages, it will serve as a great primer for an understanding of the men who shaped the history of a new land.