William Carq Crae ad
E. BRUCE THOMPSON
N JULY, 1863, William Carey Crane, prominent preacher
and educator, arrived by buggy in Houston to consider an
urgent call to the pastorate of the floundering Baptist church
in that war-boom town. He had just recently resigned the presi-
dency of Mount Lebanon University in Louisiana after an "un-
warranted assault" on his character. Although a church council
had fully acquitted him of all guilt except indiscretion, and the
Houston church had not considered the charges sufficiently grave
to disqualify him for the pastorate, Crane was righteously indig-
nant over the incident and craved an opportunity to vindicate
his enviable reputation.'
William Carey Crane was a rarity among Southern Baptists and
an anomaly on the Texas frontier. Neither the Baptists nor Texas
could boast of another educator or pulpiteer of such erudition and
dignified eloquence. Scion of a wealthy merchant and denom-
inational leader of Richmond and Baltimore, steeped in the Vir-
ginia tradition, and educated in some of the finest schools of the
East, he was a scholar and a gentleman in every inch of his stocky
frame. Beginning his professional career in 1837, he had followed
the frontier westward from Georgia to Texas but had never suc-
cumbed to its rusticating influences. His polished manners, austere
character, and dignity of bearing contrasted sharply with the traits
of the more rugged pioneers among whom he labored."
1Unless otherwise indicated, the primary materials hereinafter cited are in the
William Carey Crane Papers, in the Texas Collection of Baylor University. The
Crane Papers contain thousands of personal letters to and from Crane, two diaries
covering half a century, a detailed chronicle of Crane's activities, three scrapbooks
(one by Royston C. Crane), and several thousand books, broadsides, speeches,
newspaper clippings, and pamphlets relating to the educational and religious his-
tory of the South during the nineteenth century. For the Mount Lebanon episode,
see Crane's diary, June 6, 1863, and his manuscript transcription of the proceedings
of the church council.
2Memoirs of Crane by J. M. Carroll, W. G. Dodson, E. B. Muse, Lewis R. Bryan,
F. M. Newman, and Charles H. Wedemeyer, in the Baylor Monthly, V, 3-11; Jeff
D. Ray, "William Carey Crane-A Name to Vie with among Texas Educators,"
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, September 26, 1937.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101158/. Accessed September 1, 2015.