HOLINESS MOVEMENT IN TEXAS
the first who professed the experience of holiness in Texas, of whom we have
been able to learn, was a Mrs. Martha McWhirter, who lived at Belton, Texas, in
the year 1872. She was a Sunday school teacher in the Methodist church, and in
her class she taught the doctrine of entire sanctification as an experience
after regeneration, to be sought and obtained by faith. She testified to the
experience in the class meetings, and talked it to her neighbors until some were
seeking the blessing in the regular weekly holiness prayermeetings she held in
her home for this purpose.
of course, brought on some outspoken opposition from her pastor, who was an
opposer of the doctrine of holiness. He often alluded to these second blessing
fanatics in his sermons, and sometimes would upbraid them severely, which
brought on great persecution against her and those seeking the blessing, and
this was pushed on vigorously until she withdrew from the church, but did not
discontinue these meetings.
this time there came two carpenters to Belton from Illinois, who attended these
meetings, sought the experience, and obtained the blessing. They kept up regular
prayermeetings where others sought the blessing, while these three testified to
the experience and shouted the victory. This stirred the whole town; many people
got under awful conviction for the experience and testified to their needs
publicly, and asked prayers that they might be sanctified wholly. This renewed
the persecution and finally a mob of base men waited on the two men and asked
that they “speak no more in this name,” under penalty of a beating. They
went right on with their meetings and testimonies until the mob came again and
took the men out at night and severely beat them and commanded them to leave
town at once. They did not leave, but, on the contrary, continued the meetings
until they were arrested and tried in the courts for lunacy, and adjudged
insane, and were carried to the insane Asylum at Austin, Texas, where they spent
only one night, for the physician in charge could find no fault with them and
sent them home, admonishing them not to return to Belton, and they took his
counsel and returned to Illinois.
they had sown seed that refused to rot or die, and in due time it germinated and
sprang up in the heart of S. W. Wybrant, in whose home these people often held
their prayermeetings, as he lived two miles from town and it was a quiet retreat
where they could sing, testify, and pray to their hearts’ content without
being molested. The arrest of the men for a time stopped these meetings, but the
conviction still lingered in the heart of Brother Wybrant and his wife, who were
afterward sanctified, and at this writing he is a Pentecostal Nazarene preacher,
living at Mineral Wells, Texas.
the influence of James A. Graves, a sanctified man of Calvert, Texas, Rev.
Hardin Wallace was invited to conduct a revival meeting in the Methodist church,
of which Rev, R. H. H. Burnett was pastor. This meeting began in February, 1877.
This was the first distinctively holiness meeting that we have any record of in
Texas. Rev. Hardin Wallace came from Illinois, and brought a band of workers
with him, and while in Texas they held meetings in Bremond, Marlin, Denton, and
Gainesville, and possibly at Dallas. At the Calvert meeting the pastor and many
of his members were gloriously sanctified, and Rev. Dick Burnett became a mighty
evangelist, and for years was associated in evangelistic work with Abe Mulkey,
who was reclaimed and sanctified in the great Corsicana holiness revival a
John A. McKinney, who had read the Guide to Holiness, the original holiness
journal of America, then published by Mrs. Phoebe Palmer, in New York City, grew
hungry for the blessing and attended the holiness meeting at Calvert, was
sanctified, and invited Rev. Hardin Wallace and his band of workers to come to
Ennis, Texas, for a meeting, which they did before returning to Illinois. Rev.
Mr. Wallace was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at the time of the
Calvert meeting, but at its close united with the Methodist Episcopal Church,
South, as it was more congenial while working in the South. At the Calvert
revival a Rev. Mr. Ellis, a Methodist pastor, was sanctified and became a very
March, 1877, the Wallace Band began a meeting in the Cumberland Presbyterian
church in Ennis, Texas. They preached so hard against tobacco and worldliness
that the ruling elders had a session and ordered Cyrus Hogan, who was then an
elder in the church to lock the doors, but on his way to do so he met John A.
McKinney, who told him he need not do so as they would vacate without the doors
being locked, and the meeting was finished out under the trees in McKinney’s
yard. This caused great division in the town, while many tobacco-soaked church
members fought holiness, the sinners in town contended for the holiness meeting
to run on. At every place they held meetings they organized holiness bands,
started Tuesday night holiness prayermeetings, and took subscribers for The
Banner of Holiness, a paper published in Illinois. At the Ennis meeting some
Baptists were sanctified, and at the next regular church meeting they were
excluded from the church, their pastor telling them that they had accepted the
Methodist faith by being sanctified, and were no longer Baptists. That same
night a tremendous storm struck the town, utterly demolishing the Baptist
church, the only building that was seriously damaged in the town. A company of
Texas toughs waited on the deacons the next day and told them that it was the
curse of God, for turning out these holy people. Before leaving Texas they had a
great meeting at Lawrence, in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
reading The Banner of Holiness, the name of Rev. W. B. Colt was seen as a
holiness evangelist, and he was invited to come to Texas for some meetings, the
first one was at Ennis, September 20, 1877, where the Wallace Band were put out
of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. At this meeting Rev. George A. McCulloch
was sanctified, that mighty Scotchman who for years was presiding elder, and a
mighty campmeeting preacher in the Free Methodist Church. Here holiness took a
firm root, and there were gathered about these despised people a few men who
knew no defeat and would preach their convictions if the stars fell. This kind
of men pushed the battle for God and holiness until Texas became the battle
field for holiness for the next ten years; while the fight was strong, and great
persecution waged, dozens of great campmeetings were established, and were
attended by thousands of people; while at almost every camp there were not less
than one hundred, and often several hundred, people swept into the experience at
one of these campmeetings.
Texas Holiness Association was organized at the first campmeeting, which began
October 10, 1878, at Rake Straw, about twelve miles south of Corsicana,
conducted by Rev. W. B. Colt, of Illinois, as leader, and assisted by many
others. This was a great camp. The officers of this association were James A.
Graves, president; John A. McKinney, vice-president; E. R. Reeves, corresponding
secretary; Cyrus T. Hogan, secretary and treasurer. This association must not be
confounded with the Holiness Association of Texas, for the Texas Holiness
Association had ceased to exist when the Holiness Association of Texas was
organized. The former was for campmeeting purposes only, while the latter was to
conserve the movement and to hold the people together until a more definite
organization could be effected to give a church home for the holiness people.
association held ten annual campmeetings as follows:
August and September, 1879, there was a great campmeeting (the second
campmeeting) about half a mile north of the courthouse in Corsicana. This
meeting ran six weeks. The weather was hot, and water was scarce, and all that
was used had to be hauled to the camp grounds; often from twenty to forty
barrels a day was used. The merchants in the town furnished the provisions, and
most of the people ate at one long table in old Texas style. The laundry did all
the washing for the workers free. The bakery would send great loads of bread to
the campers each day without charge, and the grocers great loads of groceries,
while farmers around would kill beeves and bring them in for the campers to eat.
People came for miles around, and such power swept through the congregations.
Thousands of people attended this meeting, and more than six hundred people were
said to have been converted or sanctified. One hundred and forty people were
saved the last day of the meeting, and the services closed at 2 o’clock the
next morning. The old-time grove meetings were held between the services, and
people would fall like dead and have to be carried to their tents. People would
be saved going to and from the meetings, and along the road you would often see
people so deeply convicted that they would kneel in the groves by the roadside
and pray through. The whole town was stirred, and the country for miles, and out
of that meeting came more than a score of holiness preachers, who kept the fire
and preached red-hot holiness until called to their reward.
leaders were Methodist preachers, Free Methodists, Methodist Protestants,
Baptists, Cumberland Presbyterians, and other denominations testifying to the
experience of holiness. This meeting goes on record as the greatest meeting in
Texas, and the effects of it still abide. Oh, for such a day to return. Why not
have just such a meeting today?
third camp was held at Dallas, Texas, in 1880, and this was also a great camp
and was largely attended, people coming from the adjoining counties and distant
towns and camping the whole time, the meeting running two weeks. In this
campmeeting, as in the others, there were workers from all churches who had been
sanctified, and most of them had been excluded from their respective churches,
which was fast swelling the ranks of the Free Methodist Church, which had been
organized previous to this in Texas. The Salvation Army was then in the
experience of holiness and they too fell into this meeting with a vim.
INFIDEL CLUB BROKEN UP
is one very peculiar incident worth recording here: There was an infidel club in
Dallas that defied all supernatural power, and especially laughed at these
holiness people with their demonstrations. Many of them attended the revival for
sport. One night, after a great service where the power of God was especially
present, the leader of the infidel club challenged the preachers to a test like
Elijah, to which some of them had referred in a sermon. He said, “We do not
believe in God nor your Bible. There is no change of heart, as you say, and your
God does not answer prayer. To prove this we will pick out a member of our club
and send him to the altar and let your workers get around him and pray, and if
you can get him converted then we will all abandon our teachings and go to the
altar and get religion. This was agreed upon, if the man who came to the altar
would pray as the leaders of the meeting asked him to. The next night the most
profane and rank infidel of the club volunteered to go to the altar. All day the
holiness people had fasted and prayed that God would answer by fire as in olden
times and smash that infidel club to atoms, that had damned so many young men in
Dallas. The man came in the midst of the altar service, the infidels gathered
around, like Ahab’s false prophets, to see the outcome. Old Father Hickey,
that Elijah of prayer, took him in hands, while other faithful preachers and
workers gathered and kneeled in fervent prayer. Father Hickey told the infidel
to say, “O God, if there is a God, reveal Thyself to me that I may know that
there is a God, and I will quit my folly and give my heart to Thee.” The man
followed, repeating the words as Father Hickey led the prayer. There was a
stillness that was supernatural, and a divine glory that all felt while they
prayed on. Soon the infidel began to weep and tremble, while the saints of God
prayed as only holiness people can pray when the crisis comes. He now needed no
one to tell him what to say, for he was praying with all his might from the
depth of a powerfully convicted heart. He confessed his sins, and acknowledged
his folly, and promised to make amends as far as possible, and renounce
infidelity forever. The glory struck his soul, and he began to praise God, just
as the others who had been converted in the meeting. His companions, like the
Pharisees who brought the adulterous woman to Jesus, began to slip out one by
one until no man was left to deny the power of God. This broke up the infidel
club, and gave the meeting an advertisement that brought hundreds to the
services, and scores were converted.
fourth campmeeting was at Bosqueville Springs, six miles above Waco, in the
summer of 1881. This was another great camp and here many preachers were swept
into the experience, to go home and scatter the holy fire.
fifth campmeeting was held under a new campmeeting shed, at Bremond, in 1882,
Newt Graves donating four acres of land, and building a tabernacle for a
permanent camp. This was the first camp ground for holiness meetings in Texas
that had a permanent tabernacle built on it. The attendance was small, as its
location was too far south for the location of most of the holiness people, who
lived in northern Texas.
sixth camp was also under the new tabernacle at Bremond in August, 1883, and was
not very largely attended. The seventh camp was at Bremond also. The eighth
annual campmeeting was held at Meridian, Bosque County, in August, 1885. This
camp was more largely attended, as it was moved back nearer to where the most of
the holiness people lived.
ninth camp was at Alvarado, in Johnson County, in August, 1886, in an arbor
erected near the Methodist Church, and Dr. Godbey, Rev. L. L. Pickett, and Mrs.
Mary Hogan were the preachers. It was at this campmeeting that Bud Robinson
heard holiness preached for the first time, and was deeply convicted for the
blessing, which he obtained a little later in his corn field.
tenth annual campmeeting was at Scottsville, in eastern Texas, in July, 1887.
This camp was the result of a meeting conducted at Jonesville, Texas, by Rev. L.
L. Pickett, on the charge of Rev. F. J. Browning, a pastor in the Methodist
Episcopal Church, South, at which Rev. B. F. Cassaway assisted. This was July,
1886, and here Dr. A. B. Waskom, Captain Winston, E. T. Bedell, Brother Jones,
and Brother Scott, all entered the experience, and soon a meeting was called to
establish a holiness camp ground for annual campmeetings. The money came easily,
as all of God’s work does, and the great tabernacle was erected, and ready for
the first camp meeting in July, 1887. This camp was conducted by Rev. W. A.
Dodge, that old pioneer from Georgia, W. A. Dunlap, Rev. L. L. Pickett, and Rev.
B. F. Cassaway, Rev. F. J. Browning, and others. It was the beginning of great
things at Scottsville and the end is not yet, for there has been a campmeeting
at Scottsville every year since then, and thousands of people will shout around
the white throne who were sanctified at Scottsville camp. All the great
preachers, North and South, have conducted meetings there, among them Dr. H. C.
Morrison, Dr. B. Carradine, Bud Robinson, and many others. The second camp
resulted in five hundred conversions and sanctifications. The power of God swept
down on this old camp in many remarkable ways.
one of these great campmeetings there was a remarkable occurrence. Two young men
at Marshall, a few miles away, hired a surrey and, in company with two young
women, attended the campmeeting just for an outing. In the company with them
were also two young men in a buggy. At the afternoon service one of the young
men in the buggy was converted. A terrible rainstorm set in, a regular
waterspout fell, until no one could go home. Time for the evening service
arrived and the rain still poured, but all found shelter under the great
board-covered tabernacle. The service went on as usual, and when time for the
altar call came the young man who was converted that afternoon went back to
where the young men and young ladies sat, and through his tears invited one of
the young men to the altar. This so moved him that he broke into tears, and
arose to go, but the young lady, who sat next the aisle, put out her foot and
laughed at him, telling him that he would be a pretty looking spectacle
stretched in the straw like the ones that they had seen at the other services
that day. This stopped the young man, who fell back in his seat sobbing, while
the two girls laughed and made fun of him. The other young man turned away,
weeping as he went. The services closed and the rain had ceased, and the two
young men and young ladies got into their surrey to return home. They attempted
to cross a ravine near the camp grounds which was mightily swollen by the recent
rains, and the bridge was partially washed out, but in the darkness this was not
seen. The surrey suddenly overturned in the stream, and both girls were thrown
out of the surrey into the deep water and were drowned. The alarm was given and
the campers ran with their lanterns to the rescue, but it was too late. They
recovered the bodies of the two girls, in a drift just below the road, and
carried them to the tabernacle and stretched their lifeless forms on the
mourners’ bench, that only a few hours before they had laughed at, and kept
their young man friend away from.
this time campmeetings sprang up too numerous to give all their history. The
Waco camp, Greenville, Noonday, Hughes Springs, Bates, Poetry, and many others,
where literally thousands of people went and camped each year, while no less
than a hundred people were saved or sanctified at any one of these camps
annually. These were days of great power, when people took time to be religious.
Oh, for those good old days to return, when people will take time to camp the
full time, and pray as in days of yore.
and ask for the old paths . . . and ye shall find rest for your souls.”