TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Guide to the Presbyterian Church Records, 1839-1925
Presbyterians started moving into Texas from the United States in the 1820s, and Milton Estell established the first Presbyterian Church in Texas near Clarksville in 1833. Although Cumberland Presbyterian missionary Sumner Bacon first entered Texas in 1829, the first Cumberland Presbyterian church did not organize until 1837. By the 1840s, the Cumberland Synod of Texas in Nacogdoches began to spread its evangelistic policy throughout the state.
Peter H. Fullenwider, one of Stephen F. Austin’s original 300 settlers, became the first minister of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America (PCUSA) to move to Texas in 1834. This denomination split in 1837 into the Old School and New School sects. Fullenwider was an Old School preacher, as was Hugh Wilson, who established Bethel Presbyterian Church, the first Old School church in Texas, near San Augustine in 1838. Over the next few decades, several Old School churches and synods sprang up in Texas, and by 1854, the first New School presbytery was also established. At the start of the Civil War in 1861, most churches within the two sects joined together in the South to form the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America (PCCSA). The PCCSA renamed itself to the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) following the war, but a few of the PCCSA churches joined the PCUSA instead.
Although a small number of Cumberland Presbyterians still exist throughout Texas and the greater United States, in 1906 most rejoined the PCUSA, from which the church had split in 1810. In turn, the PCUSA merged with the United Presbyterian Church of North America to form the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (UPUSA or UP) in 1958. Twenty-five years later, the PCUS merged with the UP to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), also known as the PC(USA). In 1993, the Cumberland Presbyterians had 9,465 members in Texas, while the PC(USA) had 149,641 devotees.
Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Presbyterian Church," http://www.tshaonline.org /handbook/online/articles/PP/ipp1.html (accessed July 27, 2010).
Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Wilson, Hugh," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook /online/articles/WW/fwi52.html (accessed July 28, 2010).
Presbyterian Historical Society: The National Archives of the PC (USA). "Presbyterians in America: A Timeline." Presbyterian Hisotircal Society. http://www.history.pcusa.org/history/timeline.cfm (accessed July 27, 2010).
The Presbyterian Church Records, 1839-1925, consist of correspondence, minutes, committee reports, resolutions, and membership lists of southern presbyteries and synods. The first series of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (1842-1914) represent the Mound Prairie Presbytery (Arkansas), Little River Presbytery (Texas), Bacon Presbytery (Texas), Brazos Synod (Texas), Colorado Presbytery and Colorado Synod (Texas), San Antonio Presbytery (Texas), White Rock Presbytery (Texas), McGregor Church (Texas), and others. The second series of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (1840-1910) contain the records of the Synods of Missouri and Texas, the Presbyteries of Austin, Brazos, and Trinity (Texas), the Presbytery of Central Texas, the Eastern Texas Presbytery, and the Presbytery of Western Texas. The final series of Municipal Presbyterian Church (1839-1925) contain the records of the Center Ridge Church in Alabama, the Hugh Wilson Church (Texas), and several churches in Texas cities, including Independence, Victoria, Washington, and Huntsville.
The collection is open for research.
Presbyterian Church Records, 1839-1925, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project, 2009-2011.