The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941 Page: 354
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
to him on April 27, 1891, when, after having listened to a sermon
by Joe Jones, in Belton, Texas, he was literally converted to a
new life. At this time he was selling life insurance, not very
successfully. His first obstacle in turning his back on the sport-
ing world, as he tells, was to get rid of the vocabulary that
the sporting world had given him. Within less than a year
after his conversion he had decided to enter the ministry of
the Methodist Church, South, and he had been admitted. He
was given a circuit in Bastrop County.
The first home of his far strung-out congregation that he
entered, he recorded, gave him a feeling of extreme awkward-
ness. He found that he had "a pair of hands that he did not
know what to do with and a pair of feet that he did not know
where to put." When it came to delivering a sermon, however,
while he found himself short on what might be called "preach-
ing material," he had "accumulated a large fund of information
that could be used if properly mixed with religious matter."
"I had," he says, "been a constant reader from my youth in
all fields except theology and philosophy. I had read for years
the best in English literature-Scott, Dickens, Bulwer, Sterne,
Smollett, Fielding, Shakespeare, histories, such as Green's his-
tory of England, Macaulay's works, including the essays; most
of the histories of the United States, as well as the current
literature of our country. That, along with the State histories,
gave me a very good background upon which to build my re-
ligious information. I had also read most of the old writers on
political economy, including most of the works of Henry George.
Also, my experiences had given me a rather unusual insight
into human nature."
He began a course of study that included what is now called
public speaking. He walked through the post oaks practicing
tongue exercises, and "preached lots of sermons to the birds of
the air and the animals of the forest." He found the settlers on
his circuit very much like those he was born among in the Flat-
woods of Mississippi - good, kindly, simple American stock.
The blood from which he was descended and the upright
Christian training of his youth asserted themselves. "My best
sentiments became active again," he says, "and I was very
happy." One of his best friends was a saloonkeeper in Smith-
ville--a man he had once patronized freely-who lent him a
horse and buggy but would not accept religion.
In his late forties, as Mr. Shettles records, he had to make
his body over as he had made his inner life. It is not necessary
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941, periodical, 1941; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146052/m1/393/: accessed November 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.