The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995 Page: 504
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Alan J. Lefever is the archivist and also an adjunct professor of church history
at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written numerous articles
on Texas Baptists and is regarded as a specialist on Texas Baptist history. His
work on Benajah Harvey Carroll is part of a series on Baptist leaders in Texas.
William Clark Griggs is president of Southwest Museum Services in Houston. He
is the author of the admirable The Elusive Eden: Frank McMullan's Confederate
Colony in Brazil (1987).
Both books are noble contributions to Texas and Southern Baptist history.
The strengths of the two volumes lie in the massive research their authors con-
ducted and both works bulge with historical facts. Both authors trace the life his-
tories of their subjects, and in combination the works present a chronological
survey of the Texas Baptist church from the Texas Revolution to the early twenti-
eth century. The common theme of these structurally similar works is that dis-
sent has surfaced in every era of Baptist history, but the church hierarchy has
been able to solve these problems. Martinism, the Hayden controversy, the Civil
War, and finally free thinking, as in the case of Parson Henry Renfro, are only a
few of the threats Texas Baptists have confronted.
Benajah Harvey Carroll was born.in Carroll County, Mississippi, on December
27, 1843. In 1858 he migrated with his family to Burleson County, Texas.
Lefever surveys Carroll's early religious experiences and traces his rise to power
in the Baptist church. Following Carroll's service in the Civil War, he was a
teacher and preacher, mainly at the First Baptist Church of Waco. Carroll played
a major role in the founding of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and
in almost every major dispute within the Baptist church during his life.
Henry Renfro moved to Texas in 1851 and enrolled in Baylor University
shortly thereafter. He became a Baptist preacher and during the Civil War
served as a soldier and then as a chaplain. Following the conflict, Renfro contin-
ued his preaching career but, influenced by writers such as Thomas Paine,
Baruch Spinoza, and Robert Ingersoll, became disenchanted with the Baptist or-
thodoxy. As a result, Renfro accepted the ideas of the Free Thought movement
and his church membership was terminated on grounds of infidelity.
These books raise a number of challenging questions for future works. Each
seems well-focused and admirably scholarly. Taken together, they paint a broad
picture of Texas Baptist history. They should appeal to historians, theologians,
and educated laymen alike.
Stanford, Indiana DAVID L. KIMBROUGH
The Cartwrights of San Augustine: Three Generations of Agricultural Entrepreneurs in
Nineteenth-Century Texas. By Margaret Swett Henson and Deolece Parmelee.
(Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1993. Pp. xi+337. Preface, intro-
duction, appendix, index. ISBN o-87611-129-0. $39-95-)
Despite the passage of time and a plethora of titles, a crop of books on early
Texas continues to appear. Although some historians might be tempted to de-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995, periodical, 1995; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/m1/560/ocr/: accessed December 7, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.