The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976 Page: 300
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
An element of tragedy and frustration lies behind the considerable
achievement of W. S. Red. He spent his life preaching to small frontier
congregations who admired his dull sermons without understanding them.
To be sure, his intellectual gifts found outlet in international travel; in
serving as a trustee for Austin College, which made him a Doctor of Divinity
in I9Io; in working actively in the governing bodies of his church, where
he was often an obdurate and legalistic advocate of Presbyterian procedure
and Calvinist theology; and in writing history. But "Mr. Will," a gentle
intellectual under a distant exterior, was born out of time; the country
parson should have been a professor.
It is easy for today's academic historians to find fault in their professional
counterparts, for whom chronicling the past was an avocation, and to,
ponder motivations of those for whom writing history bore little relationship
to professional advancement. Religious commitment was clearly Red's
driving force, and his books compare most favorably with those of his
contemporaries among Texas church historians.8 If his writings lapse
occasionally into a piety which offends a generation of academics whose
worldview is secular, those same historians can admire Red's almost Rankian
passion to let the data shape the story. After all, Red was, in his own mind,
merely the careful recorder of what the Almighty was accomplishing on
Texas soil. But unlike the more dogmatic ecclesiastical historians, he wrote
(and gathered documents) as one trying to launch the search for the past
-not as the expositor of the final word on Texas church history.
Held at Burnet, Texas, September 12-13, 1933, Including Minutes of the Called Meet-
ing, Austin, Texas, May 15, 1933 (n.p., n.d.), 8-9; Malcolm Purcell to R. B. H.,.
February 4, 1974, interview; Red, History of the Presbyterian Church, 299-322; Purcell,
Two Texas Female Seminaries, 115, I87-189, 194, 196; Thomas White Currie, Jr., "A
History of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, Texas, 1884-1943" (Th.D.
dissertation, Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, 1958), 41-43, 49, 87-94. Red and
his descendents have engaged in lively discussion with Dr. R. K. Smoot and his family
over their relative contributions to the founding of the Seminary. The resolution of the
debate is beyond the purposes of this paper, although copies of a large correspondence
on the matter are in the possession of the author.
sSee, for example, Campbell, History of the Cumberland Church in Texas; James M.
Carroll, A History of Texas Baptists: Comprising a Detailed Account of Their Activities,
Their Progress and Their Achievements (Dallas, 1923); Colby D. Hall, Texas Disciples:
A Story of the Rise and Progress of that Protestant Movement Known As Disciples of
Christ or Christian Churches, As It Developed in Texas; Including, through the Nine-
teenth Century Decades, A Story of the Kindred Movement, the "Churches of Christ"
(Fort Worth, 1953); Carlos E. Castafieda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas, 1519-1936
(7 vols.; Austin, 1935-1958); Homer S. Thrall, A Brief History of Methodism in Texas
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976, periodical, 1975/1976; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101203/m1/345/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.