Monday, November 30, 2020
Sunday, September 27, 2020
In late November 1894, Meta Chestnutt used the local paper to announce that the college would host a Thanksgiving Day social for the community. She asked friends of the college to bring a book to add to the school library. It would be a wonderful time of "music and social conversation." By then, C.O. Robertson, who had apparently been Silas Kennedy's choice for president of the new college, was preparing to leave Minco for good. Also by then, it was clear that donations to the school would not be coming from Kennedy's network of churches and Christian friends. And that, of course, left open the issue of finances. How could the new college pay off its debt?
In response to that question, Chestnutt decided on a path that Kennedy had avoided: a direct appeal to Disciples at large to support the college. In a long report she sent to the American Home Missionary, Chestnutt told readers about the origins, progress, and potential of El Meta Christian College. "This mission was established at Silver City, seven miles from its present location, September 8, 1889." Since then, the town including the school had moved to meet the new railroad. In the new town that residents named Minco the school had flourished. The first term of the current school year had seen 94 students. For the second term, there were 97. The new building was "four stories, including the basement," and the five rooms on the first floor were nearly complete. With the growth of the school, more instructors would come on to the faculty.
But, she added, the mission always involved more than education. When she had first arrived at Silver City in 1889, Meta not only began her school. She also "went to work in earnest, teaching the Bible every Lord's day." Five years later, the church that she planted still did not have a "regular preacher." Yet the congregation had never failed to meet "each Lord's day to study and teach the Word, break bread and contribute of our means to the Lord." About once every three months, the church at Minco got to hear a sermon from a visiting preacher like R. W. Officer, T. B. Larimore, Volney Johnson, and D. T. Broadus. With their help, the congregation had grown "from two to some fifty or sixty." Given such promise and the strong record of growth, "all Christians," said Chestnutt, should "consider favorably the efforts being made here in Minco, and help us raise the $1,000 needed to meet the present demand of patronage." Contributors would be helping "this little band of Disciples to fix firmly the standard of King Immanuel" in Indian Territory.
 Minco Minstrel, November 23, 1894, 4. Joe Rogers, and not C.O. Robertson, was listed as the current manager and publisher of the Minco Minstrel.
 Meta Chestnutt, "Minco, Ind. Ter.," American Home Missionary 1, No. 4 (April 1895), 61-62.
 Ibid., 61.
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Previous posts have taken up the the story of the crisis and resolution that unfolded in Minco, Indian Territory in 1894. What follows here is a bit of interpretation. Why would at least some church and school leaders in Minco and Chickasha be motivated to more or less take over the school that Meta Chestnutt had established some five years earlier?
A young, unmarried woman, Meta Chestnutt was highly unusual for her time. As historian Richard White describes the U.S. during the Gilded Age, "single women who left their paternal homes to work were considered women adrift, moving outside of the usual and accepted cultural categories, and their conditions very often were unenviable." Miss Meta had successfully defied the norms. She had earned a professional degree in Nashville. Later, she had left behind the comfort and security of her home in North Carolina and traveled halfway across America by herself in order to establish a school in Indian Territory. Just five years later, that school would soon be adding college-level courses in a brand new three-story building. Meta Chestnutt sometimes made it clear that she had come to I.T. "neither land hunting, nor man hunting." If she was merely looking for a man, she said, "there were plenty of them where I had come from." For the moment, she was resolutely single, enjoying high status and a stable livelihood. She would be the first to tell anyone that it was far from a glamorous life. But to some, her social prominence and entrepreneurial success probably seemed more suitable for a man, especially a married man with a household to support.
 Richard White, The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), 239.
 Meta Chestnutt Sager to Eva Heiliger, September 3, 1944, box 1, folder 10, Meta Chestnutt Sager Collection, Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma City. In her letter, Mrs. Sager underlined "man hunting."
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
In January 1895, Silas Kennedy sent word from Chickasha, I.T. to the American Home Missionary, a brand new, official publication of the Disciples of Christ dedicated to stateside missions. His report made it into the very first issue. Kennedy wrote that eleven people had recently been added to the congregation at Chickasha where he served as minister, and that he had recently established a church at nearby "Ninakah" (present Ninnekah, Oklahoma). Soon, along with "Bro. Hardin," Kennedy would dedicate a congregation at South McAlester. He noted that there were "ten towns on this Rock Island Railroad without a Christian preacher" and that Indian Territory would "perhaps double in population in the next year." The needs and opportunities were tremendous. Yet Kennedy said not one word about El Meta Christian College in Minco, an omission that by this point was a familiar pattern.
It is hard to imagine that Kennedy's treachery would not become public knowledge. Before 1895 was over, he would be gone. In early December, the Chickasha Record reported, "Elder Kennedy who left here some time ago for Oklahoma City has moved to Lexington, O.T. where he has opened a store." The very next item in the paper said, "Elder Grogan has engaged as pastor of the Christian Church at this place."
 S. E. Kennedy, "Chickasha, I.T." American Home Missionary 1, No. 1 (January 1895): 29.
 Chickasha Record, December 5, 1895, 5.
Saturday, September 12, 2020
I am unwilling . . . that the birth of [Bacon College] . . . be viewed as a part or even an appendage of the reformation for which we plead. The cause of Christ is one thing--the college another--as essentially distinct as the Church of Christ and this republican government. Let every Christian parent bring his or her children to the Lord's house on the Lord's day, and teach them the Lord's word. This is the school of Christ--this is training up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The College, if they want, should have a paper of their own. The Christian should plead for Christ.
Saturday, August 29, 2020
Saturday, August 08, 2020
In terms of numerical strength, 2011 may have been a high-water mark for the Colonies Church. A congregational directory published in that year includes 403 member addresses. The three original elders were still serving at that time. Just two years earlier, the church had completed another stage of their building agenda. The new parts of the facility included a children's and teen area, a gymnasium, and a large multi-purpose space that came to be known as the Great Room. The south end of the facility was converted into an area for 5th and 6th graders.
A directory published around 2015 reveals what many in the congregation strongly suspected: the church had experienced numeric decline. In fact, by that time there were 65 fewer households listed when compared to the numbers from two years before.
 "Church of Christ at The Colonies, Pictorial Directory, 2004-2005." The author counted 324 member households.
 Telephone interview with Eddie Brasher, July 24, 2020; "Church of Christ at The Colonies, Amarillo, Texas" church directory dated, November 2007. The author counted 356 member households.
 "Church of Christ at The Colonies, Church Directory, 2011"; Dick Marcear, notes for the New Members' Class, Church of Christ at The Colonies. A paper directory printed in 2013 numbers 400 member households, the first decline of the number of member households.
 "Church of Christ at The Colonies: Our Family Directory," published around 2015.
Friday, July 24, 2020
|Central Church of Christ, Amarillo, Texas|
It soon became obvious that the church would need a larger, permanent place to meet, especially if numeric growth was going to be sustained. During the summer of 2001, the congregation quickly raised more than the $300,000 needed in order to purchase 8.25 acres at the corner of 45th Avenue and Wesley Road. Because the property was appreciating in value, the church was able to borrow the money needed in order to build. Builders completed the structure the following spring, and on Sunday, May 19, the congregation worshiped for the first time in the new facility. They took the name "The Church of Christ at The Colonies." Dick's first sermon was based on Mark 5:1-20 and titled "Tell How Much the Lord Has Done for You." Already by March of that year, the directory numbered 176 member households.
 For 1975 to 2000 as Dick Marcear's tenure, see Cheryl Berzankis, "God's rock for many: Central Church of Christ marks 100 years," Amarillo Globe-News, October 11, 2008. In 1980, on a single Sunday, the Central congregation committed to giving more than $2.2 million. The growing church needed a larger facility. See Ron Brown, "Amarillo church collects $2 million 'commitment funds'," Amarillo Daily News, October 20, 1980. In addition, miscellaneous church records indicate, for example, that in 1990 the church averaged a Sunday-morning attendance of 1,437. For two years, there are statistics for baptisms in the congregation: 1999 saw 45 baptisms. In 2000, there were 54 baptisms. Email message from Pat Dye, Secretary for the Central Church of Christ, to Judy Bower of Hope Network Ministries, January 30, 2001, a hard copy of which is in the "Church History" folder at the Central Church of Christ, Amarillo, Texas.
 This according to reports from several sources who witnessed and remember these events.
 Dick Marcear, notes for the New Members' Class, Church of Christ at The Colonies.
 This according to the church bulletin for Sunday, May 19, 2002. A framed copy of the bulletin hangs in a hallway at the Colonies Church.
 "Church Directory, March 2002, Westside Church of Christ."
Thursday, July 23, 2020
 Herbert and Carolyn Timmons, "Christian Church From 1888," Amarillo Sunday News and Globe, Golden Anniversary Edition, 1938; Stephen Daniel Eckstein Jr., History of Churches of Christ in Texas, 1824-1950 (Austin, TX: Firm Foundation Publishing House, 1963), 173-74.
Sunday, June 14, 2020
The Minstrel, published by Lewis N. Hornbeck, regularly listed C. O. Robertson as its manager. So, why was the manager of the local newspaper suddenly going to become the top person at the Christian academy? Why not S. E. Kennedy? Why not, of all people, Meta Chestnutt, a highly-trained educator and the town's very first school teacher? Was it then, around late August, that Meta Chestnutt, brokenhearted and without recourse, left Minco for North Carolina?
Either way, the paper indicated that she returned from the east coast to Minco on Friday, September 7, and that C. O. Robertson left Minco on Thanksgiving Day, November 29. Robertson was on his way to Indiana where, said the paper, "he will remain." His wife, still in Minco, would soon be joining him in Indiana.  What had happened?
 Minco Minstrel, August 17, 1894.
 Minco Minstrel, September 14, 1894; November 30, 1894.
Thursday, June 11, 2020
|Three Delaware Indians, George Catlin, 1860s|
A story from the years prior to the War of 1812 sheds light on Boyd's failed mission. Around the year 1800, Moravian missionaries told the same group about the sufferings and death of Jesus. In response, the Delaware said that they knew who had killed Christ: "The white people were the ones who did it." Therefore, story of the crucifixion did not implicate Indians. The episode reveals an obvious and imposing barrier to communication.
Robert F. Berkhofer Jr., Salvation and the Savage: An Analysis of Protestant Missions and American Indian Response, 1787-1862 (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1965), 109.
Tuesday, June 09, 2020
For almost all of 1894, while some people were planning and building a college at Minco, the local newspaper barely mentioned the person who had always stood at the center of local academics, and never in connection with the college. Early that year, Meta Chestnutt appeared in the news only because she was sick. In January, after students had returned, the paper reported that "Miss Meta Chestnut [sic] was taken seriously ill," and had to temporarily close her school. Two weeks later, readers were informed that Miss Meta was "slowly improving." As late as March 2, the paper noted that Chestnutt was still "improving in health"  Was emotional stress the source of her condition? Did a prolonged illness make the single woman seem unreliable and vulnerable?
Either way, just a few months later, construction of the college enjoyed plenty of publicity. Throughout the summer, the paper offered regular reports. In early July, for example, readers were told, "Workmen are engaged in excavating the basement of the Christian College." Six weeks later, the foundation was nearly ready and timbers were "all cut for the first and second floors." It appears that the community supported the project. For example, near the end of August the school hosted a fund-raising "phantom party," at which performers wore disguises. Although concealment was likely not the goal, the paper failed to report the names of those who had organized the event, and did not know the amount of money that had been raised. In fact, over the first eight months of 1894, not one newspaper report identifies anyone connected with the construction of the college.
But that changed in September. In a lengthy article titled "An Appeal for the College," S. E. Kennedy announced a celebration for the opening of the school on October 1. It would be a grand event. Attendees would hear "the Silver Cornet Band of Chickasha," see a parade, and take in something straight out of a Wild West show: a "blood-curdling warwhoop by the Comanche, Kiowa, Wichita and Caddo Indians from Anadarko." After the Indians had whooped, several white men would speak. They included J. H. Hardin from Cincinnati, Corresponding Secretary of the American Christian Missionary Society, G. W. Muckley, from Kansas City, one of the original trustees of the Disciples' Divinity House at the University of Chicago, and Ira Joy Chase, Christian church minister and former governor of the State of Indiana. Although it seems clear that they did not attend, Governor Jim Hogg of Texas, father of Ima, and President Grover Cleveland were sent invitations. Kennedy spoke directly to "the people of Minco." Triumphantly, he reminded them: "when I came among you and asked you to give ten acres of land and $3,000 in money to start this College I gave you my sacred word of honor that if you would be patient and trust me I would build in your town a College of which you and your children would not be ashamed."
Over the next few weeks, things did not turn out the way he imagined they would.
 Minco Minstrel, January 12, 1894, 3; January 26, 1894, 3; and March 2, 1894, 3.
 Minco Minstrel, July 13, 1894, 3; August 24, 1894, 3.
 Minco Minstrel, August 31, 1894, 3.
 S. E. Kennedy, "An Appeal for the College," Minco Minstrel, September 18, 1894, 3. On J. H. Hardin, see John T. Brown, Churches of Christ (Louisville, KY: John P. Morton and Company, 1904), 156. On G. W. Muckley, see The Disciples' Divinity House of the University of Chicago: Preliminary Bulletin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1894), 6. On Ira Joy Chase, see Alan K. Wild, "Ira J. Chase," in Linda G. Gugin and James E. St. Clair, eds., The Governors of Indiana (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 2006), 198-202.
 Kennedy, "An Appeal for the College."