Old School Presbyterians: Eastern Invaders of
RICHARD B. HUGHES*
N HER BOOK Texas in 1850o, MELINDA RANKIN SOUGHT TO RECRUIT
her fellow New Englanders to "cultivate the rich soil of [the] Texan
mind." Those states, the Massachusetts Presbyterian insisted, "which
have long felt the benign influence of science and literature, should
feel themselves bound by duty and obligation to extend those influ-
ences into less favored portions of [the] country."' Miss Rankin was
one of many Presbyterian teachers and clergymen from eastern states
who were obsessed with the educational and spiritual "destitution" of
Texas and with Yankee noblesse oblige. Since the Old School Presby-
terian Church," to which she belonged, remained of all the major
Protestant denominations in antebellum Texas the most eastern in
personnel, theology, and conception of the church's role, it affords an
excellent focal point for the examination of the interaction of an
eastern institution and the Texas frontier culture.
Many of these Old School Presbyterians were from northeastern
states. A few were from New England, but more commonly they had
been brought up in the highly fertile Presbyterian soil of the Middle
Atlantic area, especially in Pennsylvania. Those of southern and bor-
der state birth and upbringing had commonly been educated in the
North, chiefly at Princeton.'
*Richard B. Hughes is professor of history at St. Edwards University, Austin, Texas.
xMelinda Rankin, Texas in z85o (Boston, 1850), 43.
2Presbyterianism was characterized in nineteenth-century America by frequent schism
and reunion. The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, from which
Cumberland Presbyterians split in 181o, was further divided in 1837 into Old School and
New School branches, the former unsympathetic with revivalism. Each group labeled the
others schismatic. The New School never prospered in Texas.
"Hiram Chamberlain from Vermont and R. W. Bailey from Maine were, like Melinda
Rankin, from New England. John McCullough, J. W. Miller, R. H. Byers, R. F. Bunting,
and (probably) W. K. Marshall were Pennsylvanians, and Levi Tenney and P. W. War-
rener were from New York. Four Kentuckians, W. C. Blair, P. H. Fullinwider, W. Y.
Allen, and Stephen Cocke had gone north to Princeton, as had A. P. Silliman of South
Carolina, Hillery Moseley of Alabama, I. J. Henderson of Mississippi, and the intinerant
southerners, Daniel and William Baker. Ohioan Joel Case was a Yale graduate, and W. C.
Dunlop of Tennessee studied at abolistionist-dominated Lane Seminary at Cincinnati.
William S. Red, A History of the Presbyterian Church in Texas (Austin, 1936), 358-433;
The Fiftieth Session of the Synod of Texas (Houston, 1905), passim.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/. Accessed May 24, 2015.