Lydia Ann McHenry and Revolutionary Texas
Edited by GEORGE R. NIELSEN
YDIA ANN MCHENRY1 IS MOST FREQUENTLY REMEMBERED FOR HER
efforts in nurturing Methodism in Mexican Texas, and for her
participation in early Texas education: she and her sister were among
the first teachers to establish in the Republic a formal, though short-
lived, school. A resident of Kentucky prior to her migration, she trav-
eled to Texas in 1833 with her sister Maria and Maria's husband, itin-
erant preacher John W. Kenney Not having a family of her own, Miss
McHenry lived in the Kenney household for most of her adult life.
Her faithfulness to the Methodist Church led to her participation
in the first camp meeting in Texas, at Caney Creek in 1834, and to a
life of concern for the development of her church. Her letters to fellow
Methodists in the United States spurred the commissioning of Meth-
odist missionaries for Texas, including Martin Ruter.
She also kept in touch with her relatives in Kentucky, writing letters
primarily to her brother, John Hardin McHenry. These letters, twelve
of which are in the Hardin Papers held by the Chicago Historical
Society, cover the period from 1835 to 1856. Five of the letters are
especially informative on the conditions in Austin's colony and Texas
during the period of the Texas Revolution and are reproduced here
unchanged, except for minor corrections in punctuation and the ex-
clusion of personal comments and greetings at the end of the letters.
Miss McHenry stated, in unequivocal terms, her views of Texas
leaders, thereby reflecting some of the factionalism present in the
early Republic. She obviously sided with those men of the ad in-
terim government who favored severe punishment of Santa Anna-
a popular position, but one held by only a minority of the cabinet.
*George R. Nielsen, associate professor of history at Concordia Teachers College, River
Forest, Illinois, has published previous articles in the Quarterly.
xWalter P. Webb and H. Bailey Carroll (eds.), The Handbook of Texas (2 vols.; Austin,
1952), II, 114; "Lydia Ann McHenry," O. H. Cooper Collection (Archives, University of
Texas Library, Austin); M. M. Kenney, "Recollections of Early Schools," The Quarterly
of the Texas State Historical Association, I (April, 1898), 285.
'Webb and Carroll (eds.), Handbook of Texas, I, 948; Macurn Phelan, A History of
Early Methodism in Texas, 1817-866 (Dallas, 1924), 40-46.
'Dorothy Louise Fields, "David Gouverneur Burnet," Southwestern Historical Quar-
terly, XLIX (October, 1945), 228.
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 January 31, 2015.