Rhoda Carolina Ussery and Marmaduke Gardner

Rhoda Caroline Ussery was born Dec 21, 1814 in Montgomery Co. NC to Squire Welcome Ussery and Kezia and died July 30, 1878 in Williamson Co.,
TX. On Nov 18, 1832 in Barnwell Dist., SC, she married Marmaduke Gardner . Marmaduke was born Aug. 8, 1812 to James Gardner and Mary McCreary.
He died May 4, 1879 in Williamson Co., TX. Both he and Rhoda are buried in the Lawhon-Gardner Cemetery in Williamson Co.

According to her great-granddaughter, Naomi Lide, Rhoda had 27 dresses, all made from scratch by the loom or spinning wheel. Both she and
Marmaduke were fancy dressers. In 1854, after having lived in Mississippi, Rhoda traveled with her husband and children to a tiny community in Texas
called Siloam, located north of Sam Smith Springs, later called Lawhon Springs. Once settled, Marmaduke organized a church known as Siloam with six
whites and one Negro slave as members. Gardner organized other churches in the area and ordained three ministers, John C. and Joseph Lawhon and J.
S. Dunbar. The Negro slave was referred to in Gardner's records as his "prized slave." Gardner had a large family, and enough equipment to start all over
again when he arrived at the Siloam site December 1, 1854. (Rhoda was in poor health and wanted to move where game was plentiful.) During the Civil
War, Gardner made boots for the Confederate Troops; he was a blacksmith, hunter, farmer and one of the early Universalist preachers in Texas. He
began to preach May 12, 1848 and was ordained Sept. 2, 1849, and received the fellowship of the General Convention Jan. 10, 1872. He was pastor of
the Universalist Church in Williamson Co., TX twenty-five years. He travelled very extensively in Texas and did a great amount of missionary work. The first
church building was erected in an elm grove on the bank of a creek near an old schoolhouse about two hundred yards from there the school stood in
1938. When that church burned, a new one was built "at the springs," then was moved to the town of Siloam and reorganized in 1910. (Source: Notes on
the Places of Williamson County)

By 1837 the fathers of both Marmaduke and Rhoda had passed away. A will by his grandfather, signed on the 12th of September 1837 indicates that the
grandfather was still alive.

Upon Rhoda's death, Marmaduke wrote the following obituary for The Herald:

Death of Mrs. Gardner.

Bro. Burruss: It now becomes my painful duty to inform you that my dear and faithful wife that has stood by me for nearly 46 years, has left us and gone to
the better world. She was born in N.C., Montgomery County on December 21, 1814- Her maiden name was Rhoda Ussery. When quite an infant, her
parents moved to S.C., Barnwell District. We were married in 1832. In 1836 we moved to Mississippi and in 1854 we came to Texas. She died July 30th
1878, aged 63 years 7 months 1 week and 2 days. She raised fifteen children to be grown, five sons and ten daughters; and now has living 73 grand
children and nine great grand children. She possessed all the qualities that are noble in women. She was truly a Granger in all her domestic relations, --
was ever delighted in the highest degree, to associate with brother and sister masons, and above all, as a christian, she surely possessed the right to
claim the promise, 'blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.' For 40 years she had been subject to violent attacks of a severe cramping of the
feet and hands, often the whole body would be more or less cramped, and soon all the alarming symptoms of Asiatic cholera would be realized. Often have
I seen her barely escape death. But the violence of this last attack, set at defiance all our old and successful remedies; she lived only 46 hours from the
time she was taken. Death had no terrors for her, for when in good health we often talked on that subject. She was in her proper mind during her whole
illness, but for the last 12 hrs was almost speechless. Seeing Mrs. Ducy (a member of the christian church), a lady she much admired, standing by her bed
side, a short time before she breathed her last, she tried to talked to Mrs. Ducy, but could only make her understand that she was going to die. All at
once, to make her understand, she raised her hands, looked upwards, clapped her hands, and exclaimed in an audible voice, 'PREPARED!' Mrs. D. gave
her to understand that she fully understood her meaning. In a short time after this, without a struggle, without even a long breath, she 'fell asleep in Jesus,'
as quietly as ever an infant slumbered on its mother's lap.

She often thanked God that he had spared her to see all her children married, settled and doing well. Her loss to me is irreparable; so far as this world is
concerned. Our association as husband and wife, has been a haven of uninterrupted happiness. Only a few years at most, and our association will be
renewed, I hope, in that house of many mansions, eternal in the heavens, where Jesus dwells; where we shall see him as he is and be like him,--Amen.

The Grangers buried her with all the honors that their Order could confer. More than 140 grown persons testified their respect for her by their presence at
the burial. M. Gardner McDade, Texas.

Marmaduke married again to
Amanda J. Jones a few months before he died.

The family collection of Marmaduke Gardner and David E. Lawhon's personal papers have been donated to the William Richter Center for American
History at the Sid Richardson Hall, University of Texas at Austin by family members where they can be read by the general public.

Children of Rhoda Ussery and Marmaduke Gardner:


Susannah Gardner b 18 Nov 1833 Barnwell Co., SC, d. Jul 1880. In 1851mar. Edward Lankford
Saphronia J. Gardner b. 9 Sep. 1834 in SC, d. aft 1879. Mar. Rev. William Green
Tabitha Gardner b. 14 May 1836 Clarke Co., MS, d 28 Aug 1908. On 10 Oct 1853, mar.Isaac Newton Barber, Sr
Joseph W. Gardner b. 1837 Clarke Co., MS, d. 1864 Civil War. On 25 Sept. 1860 mar. Nancy Scales
Frances Esther Gardner
Francis Marion Gardner b. 22 June 1840 Clarke Co., MS. On 16 Jul 1868 mar. Nancy Scales (widow of Joseph) in Bastrop, TX
Thomas Jefferson Gardner b. 1841 Clarke Co., MS died in Battle of Shiloh.
Sarah Almira Gardner b. 4 Jan 1843 Clarke Co., MS d. 4 June 1901 Thorndale, TX. Buried in Barber Cemetery, Milam, TX. Married Francis Marion
Peebles; 2nd Husband: Edmund Dancer
Rhoda Caroline (Kate). Gardner b. 13 May 1845 Clarke Co., MS d. 28 Oct 1917 TX. mar. Bob Weeks; 2nd husband: William B. Dear; 3rd husband: William
J. Lawhon
Almira J. Gardner b. 11 Nov 1846 Clarke Co., MS; d 10 Mar 1910. On 6 Sept 1865 mar. Thomas Jefferson Olive in Bastrop, TX
Richard Gardner d. infant
Julia Louise Gardner b. 11 Sept. 1848 Clarke Co., MS; d. 26 Nov 1922 Santaana, Orange Co., CA. On 14 Mar 1865 mar. James Franklin Shaw in Bastrop,
James Madison (Tuck) Gardner b. 4 Jan 1850 in Clarke Co., MS; d. 7 Feb 1900. On 28 Jan 1870 mar. Nancy Elizabeth Lawhon, who died in childbirth; 2nd
wife: Ada Williams; 3rd wife: Mary A. Todd
Judith Ellen Gardner b 6 Jul 1852 in Clarke Co., MS; d. 19 May 1917 Williamson Co., TX, Lawhon-Gardner Cemetery. On 4 Oct 1867 mar. John Carr
Isaac Gardner b 28 Jan 1854 Williamson Co., TX and died 5 Mar 1872 In Williamson Co., TX Lawhon-Gardner Cemetery.
Abraham Gardner b 28 Jan 1854 d 1854 Lawhon-Gardner Cemetery
Jacob Gardner b 28 Jan 1854 d 1856 Lawhon-Gardner Cemetery
Lucy Helen Gardner b. 19 May 1856 Williamson Co., TX; d. 5 Sept 1907 Williamson Co., TX, Lawhon-Gardner Cemetery. On 22 Dec 1869 mar. David B.
Lawhon in Bastrop, TX

Seaborn Jones Barber and Frances Esther Gardner
Frances Esther Gardner, known as "Aunt Easter", was born Mar 18, 1839 in Clark County, Mississippi to Marmaduke and Rhoda Caroline Ussery Gardner.
She died Dec 7, 1883 in Williamson Co., TX. In 1851 she married Seaborn Jones Barber who was born July 14, 1829 in Alabama. He died on Sept. 18,
1899 in Williamson Co., TX. Both are buried in the Lawhon-Gardner Cemetery in Williamson Co., TX. They had the following children:

Rhoda Barbara Barber b: Dec 19, 1853 d: Sep 13, 1884 Lee Co, TX mar. Lewis M. Livingstone *2nd Husband of [1] Rhoda Barbara Barber: George
Washington Murray
James Monroe Barber b: Mar 19, 1855 d: May 24, 1917 Williamson Co., TX mar. Nancy Ellen Olive Benjamin Frankline Barber b: Jun 17, 1856 d: Dec 19,
1920 Williamson Co., TX mar. Jenny Elizabeth Earp
Mary Barber b: Mar 4, 1858 d: Dec 18, 1858 Lee Co, TX Lawhon Springs Cemetery
Joseph Welcome Barber b: Dec 3, 1859 Williamson Co, TX d: May 6, 1927 Del Valle, Travis Co.,TX mar. Sarah Alice Waddel b: May 11, 1862 Milam Co.,
TX d: Mar 11, 1920 Williamson Co, TX
Tabitha Jane Barber b: Jul 24, 1861 d: Aug 16, 1933 Ft. Worth TX mar. Jesse Shumpert Arnold
Amanda Ellen Barber
Julia S. Barber b: 1866 mar. Washington A. Taylor
Geoffrey W. Barber b: Dec 7, 1867 d: Jul 25, 1873 Lee Co, TX Lawhon Springs Cemetery
Kate Helen Barber b: Oct 20, 1869 d: Dec 10, 1947 Elgin, TX- Buried Lee Co., Mesquite Cemetery mar. Joseph Daniel Browder
Lafayette Barber b: Dec 30, 1871 d: Mar 23, 1893 Milam Co., TX Buried Williamson Co., TX
Minnie Dallas Barber b: Jun 24, 1875 d: Los Angelas, CA mar. Ed W. Mosely
Frances Esther Barber b: Apr 24, 1876 d: Jan 8, 1958 Austin, TX mar. Franklin B. Richey
Bertha Ann Barber b: Aug 19, 1878 d: Mar 11, 1962 Lubbock, TX mar. Theodore F. Houghton *2nd Husband of [2] Bertha Ann Barber: Robert E. Ewing
Seaborn Jones Barber, Jr. b: Aug 27, 1880 d: 1919 Waco, TX mar. May Ausley

Amanda Ellen Barber and Thomas Perry Simmons
. Amanda Ellen Barber was born 15 Feb 1865 to Seaborn and Frances Gardner Barber She died 31 Jan 1936 in Hare, Williamson, TX . She married
Thomas Perry Simmons who was born 27 May 1859 and died 27 Mar 1927 in Thrall, Williamson, TX. They had the following children:

A. Bert Simmons        b: 24 Jun 1882        
Dudley Jones Simmons        b: 18 Dec 1883        d: 03 Jan 1945 mar. Frankie Cecelia Dooley        b: 05 Feb 1889        
Ollie Simmons        b: 15 Nov 1885        d: 06 Oct 1963 in Taylor, Williamson, TX
Thomas Arthur Simmons        b: 03 Jun 1888        d: 15 Jul 1959 in Taylor, TX
Lafayette Simmons        b: 25 Jan 1894        d: 27 Mar 1948
Cora Lee Simmons        b: 10 Aug 1896        d: 10 Jul 1956 in Palacios, Matagorda, TX
Ira B. Simmons        b: 05 Mar 1901        d: 04 Feb 1956 in Hare, Williamson, TX

I received the following email from Pam Cain, a descendant of Dudley Jones Simmons. If you have any information on this family, please contact Pam at

Dudley Jones Simmons – would be a great grandson of Marmaduke Gardner and Rhoda Ussery Gardner. He married Frankie Cecilia Dooley, and she is a
descendant in my Hamilton line.I would like to connect with others who are researching this line. Winnie Ellen Hamilton, mother of Frankie Cecelia Dooley,
was the sister of my great grandmother, Fannie Hamilton Abbott. My Hamilton line flies…low under the radar, and of course, I would like to find some
Hamilton photos.Several of my lines lived in close proximity to the Gardner family; Abbott, Hamilton, Slaughter, Cain, as well of the connecting families of
Simmons, Corzine, Olive, Scales, Smith….name a family … Anyway, if you run across this line, please keep me in mind.

James Gardner was born Feb 28, 1789 in Barnwell Dist, SC to Marmaduke Gardner and Katherine . James died in 1834 in Barnwell Dist SC. He served
as a Captain in the American Revolution. His wife Mary McCreary, the daughter of Mary Fortune and Robert McCreary, Sr (b. ca. 1745. d. 1821 Barnwell
Dist., SC. Served as a Lt. Col. in American Revolution) was born April 2, 1791 in either Barnwell Dist.or Greenwood Co., SC. She died around 1846 in
either Clarke, Laurens or Lauderdale County, Miss. James and Mary had the following known children:

Marmaduke Gardner
Isiah Gardner b: Nov 23, 1815 SC
George Washington Gardner b: Feb 13, 1818 SC. Married Mary Jane Ennis b: 1824. She is buried in Williamson Co TX, Lawhon Gardner Cemetery *2nd
Wife : Mary Jane Townsend 3rd wife: Ann S. Youngblood.
Samuel M. Gardner b: 1821 SC mar. Margaret Thompson
Benjamin Franklin Gardner b: Nov 22, 1822 SC d. uk. Mar. Mary Elizabeth Wood b: Jan 4, 1826 d: Feb 5, 1916 Lee Co, Tx, Lawhon-Gardner Cemetery
Elijah Gardner b: Unknown
James Gardner, Jr.

Marmaduke Gardner and Catherine
Marmaduke Gardner was born Feb 6, 1760 possibly in Ireland and died July 25, 1838 in Clarke Co, Miss. He married KATHERINE about 1789. His Will,
which was written August 1, 1834, was probated on Sept 2, 1839 (Clarke Co. Court Min. Book 1839 pg 33-34). Tabitha (his daughter), the sons of James
Gardner, Sr., late of Barnwell Dist., SC deceased, and Katherine, the wife of Marmaduke, were the only legatees he mentioned in his will. He appointed
“My friend and relative Gifford H. Holliman Executor”. Marmaduke is listed in the Federal Census of 1790 Orangeburg/Barnwell Dist., SC listed as Head of
Household with 2 males under 16 as well as 2 females; 1800 Winton Co., SC; 1820 Barnwell Co., SC and in the 1830 Clarke CoPerry Co., Mississippi as

On Dec 15 1803, he registered a deed in Bush Creek , SC. In 1805 he sold land in Barnwell Dist which was witnessed by John Sanders. In 1806 Katherine
Gardner signed her dower rights.

Marmaduke and Catherine had the following known children:

JAMES GARDNER b. Feb 28, 1789 Barnwell Dist, SC; d. 1834, Barnwell Dist SC.
TABITHA GARDNER, b. Mar 24, 1794, Barnwell Co, SC; d. Apr 3, 1851, Clarke Co, Miss; m. ISAAC MARTIN CHADDICK, Dec 27, 1827.
TOBIAS GARDNER, b. May 30, 1792, Barnwell Dist SC; d. Oct 31, 1820, Barnwell Dist SC; m. JINCY T.H., Jan 20, 1814.

SWUUSI - A Burr Under the Buckle of the Bible Belt -
Chapter Rev. David A. Johnson of Brookline, MA

{Marmaduke mentioned in article}

Young Universalist minister Erasmus Manford, fresh from the East, decided in 1846 to "see more of the world," he said, and trekked down the Mississippi,
no very demanding feat despite the ready danger of meeting eternity up close and personal, to New Orleans to embark on a ship for Matagorda, Texas.
Manford was a Massachusetts boy, born and bred, and a somewhat conservative stickler for proper liturgy, communion and that sort of thing. You will
remember when I quoted Jonathan Kidwell on two kinds of Universalist ministers. One who imagined he could work 24 hours a day and live on fluff - that
was George Rogers whom we have already met. The other variety was the minister who believed in generous salaries and was prepared to saddle the
laity, the better to ride, boot and spur them on. That was, according to Kidwell, Erasmus Manford. Now one should not take Kidwell's opinion as gospel, for
he had been in the field since this legion "of beardless boys" that descended on the Midwest, including Manford were in diapers, and Kidwell's seat of the
pants, meat axe style of preaching was not too close to the genteel refined sensibilities of young Manford. Manford had been trained at the hands of the
best Eastern colleague-teachers, including Sylvanus Cobb, one of the greats, and had tried the gracious fields of Virginia only to discover it was no place
for a Universalist abolitionist. Manford headed West, to Cincinnati and its environs, before setting out on his daring venture to Texas, which put him aboard
a sailing ship for Matagorda. On Sunday Manford preached to the ship's company on the text; "And he arose and rebuked the wind and the sea, and there
was a great calm." God must have a wry sense of humor for these fledgling clerics, for a short time later they were in the teeth of a furious gale, with
mountainous seas, and sails tightly furled. So much for Manford's special connections with the almighty. The waves and storm passed, but returned again
later with renewed force, before they finally were able to put a smaller boat ashore near Matagorda. A few weeks were enough to convince Manford that he
had had enough of adventure in Texas and was ready to return to civilization, but there was no easy way back, only forward to Houston. He prepared for
the 400 mile trip (He may have miscalculated a bit, but surely it seemed 400 miles.) on foot to Houston and thence by water back to New Orleans. Santa
Anna's army had passed through the area a season since and eaten its way across the land, so staples like coffee, tea, sugar and flour were not to be
had. All Manford had was dried beef, a canteen, a blanket and a staff as he set out. Often traveling many miles without seeing a soul, unless you count the
alligators, "snakes, tarantulas and horned toads," he pushed on with only occasional Indians for company. Four weeks of sleeping on the ground
wondering what beasts - "bears, wolves, poisonous reptiles" - might lurk in the darkness was excitement enough for this tenderfoot. Nearing Houston he
found settlers, to whom he sold his watch to pay for food. He finally arrived - sunburned and footsore - and managed to meet and dine with Texas
President Sam Houston who was, he said, "a good talker, but at artful swearer." "The town of Houston," Manford noted, "was a moral desert - a hell on
earth. Vice of every and any grade reigned triumphantly. The Attorney-General of Texas...roamed the streets most of one night, drunk, and hatless,
coatless, bootless, daring any one to fight with him." It was amusing to City's citizens, but not to this refined Universalist cleric who returned as quickly as
the technology of the day would allow to New Orleans, and thence to Cincinnati, without ever - apparently ever preaching in Texas. Doubtless he felt it was
no place for a proper preacher. It would be two years, he said, before his health fully recovered from that venture. He never, as far as I can tell, returned to
Texas again. But others passed through. Eddy's great turn of the century history of Universalism suggests that there were a few daring preachers of the
universal gospel, but they were on their own, sent by no official body, responsible to none, nor was there anyone they felt compelled to report to. It is hard
to create a denomination this way as the Universalists again and again discovered - but better days were coming. By the fall of 1850 Erasmus, his wife and
baby Mae were off to St Louis to try Universalist newspaper publishing there. Rev. George Sumner Weaver, a seasoned veteran from Ohio had taken up
the abandoned Universalist mission in St Louis, and was at least surviving. THE GOLDER ERA, Manford's new publication, should he hoped sell well in
Southern Illinois and Missouri, though Universalist churches there were sparse indeed. The church in Troy, Missouri, still stood, but empty. Rev. L.C.
Marvin had tried his evangelical talents in the Southwest part of the state, but had journeyed on. Following a swift tour of Southern Illinois and Western,
Kentucky, Manford set out for Hannibal, where an orthodox preacher, lacking much in knowledge, intelligence and even basic literacy, lit into him, believing
apparently, Manford concluded, that "thunder killed, not lightning." Not enlightened by this exchange Manford moved on. In Palmyra, his next stop, he
faced the perennial question of a Northern preacher in a border state; "Are you an abolitionist?" Evading the question as long as possible, he finally
replied; "I believe Negro slavery to be wrong in morals and politics, and a curse to the white man and the black man." Manford went on to note that he
didn't intend doing anything precipitous about it at the moment. Doubtless, for most of his audience, this was not a doctrine they wished to hear, but they
treated him courteously. Abolitionism was a conviction shared by most Universalists in some form - and there were many. The Universalist General
Convention in Akron had declared, in 1843 and often thereafter reaffirmed, slavery "contrary to that gospel which is destined to break every yoke, and
lead captivity captive...and as everyway pernicious alike to the enslaver and the enslaved." Manford went on to Memphis, dipped into Louisiana, and back
to Booneville - 800 miles in 3 months, not bad for a gentleman preacher who still yearned for his comforts. The next missionary journey took him to Sioux
City and Kansas City, Jefferson City, Georgetown, Booneville again, then east to Warsaw, back to Jefferson City where he had an evening's congregation,
a very small one, entirely composed of public officials. Later on this grinding journey he was surprised to discover - he said -that Western Methodists
believed in the Devil as a kind of God of Hell, kind of an opposite to the God of Heaven. Manford never believed in a literal devil, declaring that "every evil
thought, purpose, passion, every error, every wicked" deed is a devil that each of us must face and deal with. In 1851 Manford made a trip through
southern Missouri - Iron Mountain, Pilot Knob, Millersville (settled by theologically Universalist Dunkers). On return he set out again to northern Missouri
and Iowa, a 1200 mile journey, beginning in Kirksville. In Greentop he met a Black evangelist and they struck up a conversation on salvation. Manford
asked him, if he had the power, "Would you not save all?" He replied, of course. Then, by your theology, Manford noted, "You're better than God," who
won't. The Black preacher remembered that a preacher of such a doctrine was to be in Gentryville that evening and he intended to be there. But he
declared, he must be a very bad man. Orthodoxy had taught him well that it was a terrible sin to believe God would save all people. The minister he
intended to hear - and did hear - was, of course, Erasmus Manford. Manford rode on to Weston, and thence to Lexington where he was enraged by the
public hanging of two Black men for killing their viciously brutal master. His wife, no slouch at preaching or anything else as far as I can tell, was not silent
in his absence, composing and publishing his paper and speaking in Louisiana, Missouri, Hannibal, McComb and other places. Erasmus was not one of
the arrogant male "Lords of Creation" of that day, or indeed this, who would limit women's rights. He brightly declared: Let woman speak as well as man in
the lecture room, in the pulpit, on all the subjects of human interest. She is as much interested as man in all intellectual and moral themes. And heaven
having gifted her with a soul, instinct with wisdom, purity and goodness, is well qualified to instruct and moralize her race [the human race]. Let the world
then, be open to her intellectual and moral activities, that she may make the best use of her time and talent. Let her 'sue and be sued' buy and sell, vote if
she pleases, and be presi- dent too, of these United States, if she can get votes enough. Mrs. H.B. Manford was co-editor of THE GOLDEN ERA,
bookkeeper, assistant in ministry, capable of virtually any task set before her. Though it would be a few years yet before the first ordained woman in the
Universalist ministry, the subject had already been opened. A resolution offered at the Universalist General Convention of 1858 said: Resolved, That we
hail with gratitude and satisfaction, the fact that within the past year letters of fellowship have been received by a lady; and that we recognize the right of
women possessing high moral and religious attainments, and prompted to aid in the work of preaching..., to receive letters of fellow- ship and engaging in
the work of the ministry; and that it be recommended, that our public schools and colleges be opened for females on equal terms with males." The
resolution, interestingly, was presented by a lay delegate from Pennsylvania, and fought down by a tabling motion by clergy fromMassachusetts. But the
burden of the resolution in all its parts among the Universalists, including those of the Southwest, was fulfilled in only a few years - everywhere. Erasmus
headed to southern Missouri again, preaching in 25 places, trying to find another minister to take up the sustaining labor. All were abolitionists and none
wanted to try Missouri, he said. Manford lamented that churches could have been established in Booneville, Georgetown, Calhoun, Osceola, Leesville,
Warsaw, Pisgah, Rocheport - all of which places could turn out impressive audiences. Manford went on to northern Missouri, preaching in 22 places, still
without another minister to assist and sustain. Manford at least hoped from some help in that place from the old, wealthy Unitarian church in St. Louis, but
he lamented; "...instead of aiding us by its sympathy and cooperation, it stood off cold as an iceberg. I hear of the love of Unitarians for us but have never
seen much evidence of their love. They doubtless would like to have Unitarians and Universalists unite, but it must be like the marriage of man and women,
according to Blackstone, the twain must be one, and that one, Unitarian. We are fine fellows if we allow ourselves to be swallowed head and heels without
kicking. No help was forthcoming from that quarter, but what was coming, of course, was the Civil War, and Manford found himself struggling for the union
cause in a hostile city and state. He preached and traveled little in the war years, mostly to do funerals for old friends in all parts of the state. In 1861 he
visited the one, lone Universalist meeting house, in Troy, "Doors, windows, pulpit, seats...smashed to pieces. It looks more like a pig pen than a house of
God," he sadly noted. In 1864 he left for Chicago never to return. With the increase in his years he became increasingly a sour and anachronistic voice,
appealing to the prejudices of the past, and those who could not let it go. It was only with tremendous efforts at persuasion he dropped his opposition to
the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, and his deep suspicions of the immoral tendencies of the World's Fair there that summer. More than
one Texas Universalist minister visited happily a somewhat later World's Fair without moral trepidation, but I'm getting ahead of my story. Manford left
Missouri, but, whatever he may have thought, Universalism in Missouri wasn't dead. Following the war, in 1868 a Universalist State Convention was formed
including folk from many of the places Manford had preached. Kirksville, and Murray church in Macon City followed the next year. With the accession of
Rev. R.P. Rayner, a devoted minister, in the 1880s Covington, Glenwood, Goldsboro, Fairfield School House, Tina, St. Pauls' at Green Ridge and a
church in Xenia followed quickly. Quillen Shinn, evangelist extraordinaire, enters the scene in 1892 with the initiation of a new church in Kansas City, then
St. Louis in 94, and Elmer and Linderville - 13 churches by the turn of the century, none very large and only 7 with buildings. Shinn did not return to
Missouri, and though they had outstanding ministers in the years that followed like Ulysses S. Milburn, the Missouri churches and preaching stations slowly
died away until in the midst of the depression. In 1938 there were left only 5 dormant churches. Universalist history in Arkansas is later in time but similar in
story. The Rev. Col. T.J. Potter founded the very first church in 1890 in Siloam Springs, though there had been a preacher in the state as early as 1861.
Several itinerants struggled in the state in the 90s, but even Siloam disappeared. Little Rock was founded with 20 members in 1898. It was shortly a
missionary project funded by the Young People's Christian Union (later the Universalist Youth Fellowship) which took on several special projects, mostly in
the south at the invitation of Quillen Shinn. Shinn became general missionary the following year, organizing an Arkansas State Conference. 1903 to 1905
saw three new congregations; Driggs, Fouke and Little Rock - refounded with WPCU aid - all with buildings. Mt. Ida joined the trio - with a church building -
in 1908. Little Rock had as many as 60 members early in this century, and a stunning woman minister, Ms Athalia L.J. Irwin, a native Arkansan, who served
in several Southern states, and was a welcome occasional Universalist revivalist in Texas. Arkansas, in the depth of the depression in 1938 had only two
dormant churches remaining - in Fouke, which had appealed to Texas as an orphan to be let into their state convention, and Mount Ida. The latter
survived into later years, for I remember it, and I'm not that old, and it isn't kind of you to think so. The Little Rock Church dissolved in 1930, to be revived
in 1950, to become the Unitarian Universalist Church we know today. There were only two Universalist ministers in this Indian Territory which became
Oklahoma, that I can trace, Henry C. Ledyard, but he realized the error of his ways and the near hopelessness of his task, and joined the more numerous
and successful clergy team in Texas. He's a fascinating character, a pacifist, Christian socialist, union organizer who pops up in state after state, especially
in the West, and deserves a bio. The second was a young cleric, C.H. Rogers, whom James Billings of Texas persuaded to leave "the Comanches and
Cherokees" and work with him. He was to be one of the last Universalist ministers in Texas. It would be fun to stop here but we have to rush on to Father
Marmaduke, Uncle Sam and Aunt Scrap - you remember them, don't you? Marmaduke Gardner was a Southerner, born in South Carolina in 1812 of good
Irish stock. He was converted at 22 by a beloved Baptist preacher, and tried to follow in his footsteps, but couldn't wrap his mind around endless
punishment for sinners. It is said - so the story goes - that an Irish Universalist Biblical scholar peddler, who happened by, finally put him on the right path
to a more inclusive gospel. Self educated as he was he then preached Universalism to his dying day. But he continued to believe in Baptism in the old
fashioned Baptist way, by total immersion; and, too he was a Restorationist - no Death and Glory Universalist he!. Marmaduke tried preaching in
Mississippi, even organized a church and converted another preacher, but the West called him, and in 1854 he moved to Siloam, (later Smith Springs,
today Lawhon Springs) east of Elgin in South central Texas. There he was a farmer and blacksmith, until Sunday, when he rode off to preach far and wide,
including at home in the schoolhouse in Siloam, and the meeting house they shortly built. He must have cut an interesting figure, a large man, astride his
horse, usually with his gun at his side - not to shake up sinners or orthodox preachers - but to bag something for dinner on his return home. A grandson
remembered Marmaduke as a stickler for "strict Christian living...the rule of the whole church membership." His wife described him as "the most headstrong
man she had ever seen," not a bad characteristic for the founder of Texas Universalism in 1855. It was said that he had a brother, Dr. Washington
Gardner, a Greek scholar, who helped Marmaduke with his sermons, but most he drew from experiences of everyday life. They tell of a debate with a
Campbellite - Dr. Lawrence owning the only watch was the timekeeper. Marmaduke talked until he ran out of arguments, a considerable time by anyone's
standards, then asked Lawrence how much time he had. Lawrence retorted , "The watch has stopped." Gardner replied, "I knew I was making a powerful
argument, but did not know it would stop time!" He organized several churches, converted his son-in-law and his brother, Joe and John Lawhon, and the
Rev. J.S. Dunbar, "Uncle Sam' to friends, with his wife Aunt Scrap. Dunbar heard Marmaduke at Marsh Branch Springs, in a tiny log structure with rough
hewn split logs and pegs for legs - as benches. The setting and the gospel were simple and straightforward, and when Marmaduke needed another
preacher, he converted one. He converted William Tillman who later erected Tillman Chapel over near Jacksonville - later to be a center of Universalism in
East Texas. Marmaduke Gardner was more than large; he was a mountain of a man, both tall and heavy. His grandchildren often accompanied him in later
life for fear of the trouble he could get into should he fall, and indeed trouble for anything he fell on. It was also, it is said, their job to wrench off his shoes
at the end of a long day. Doubtless it would have been nearly impossible for him to even reach them. He left a large family - they had 19 children - and he
left many lay and clerical evangelists of Universalism. His was in every way a large heritage of faith and service at his death in 1879. At his death there
were 6 Universalist preachers in Texas, and other churches in Rancho, Sand Fly, Rusk, Gonzales, Millerton, Rockdale (Milam Co.) and Nacogdoches. In
the year of his death Rev. D.C. Tomlinson - a well respected Universalist minister from Ohio - arrived in the state preaching in larger towns and setting his
goal on Dallas for a new church, but Dallas wasn't ready for Universalism. A year later Rev. James Billings settled in Palestine, Texas, preaching in several
neighboring towns, setting up a regular preaching circuit - and therein began an aggressive new day for Universalism. New preachers, mostly retirees from
other places arrived almost every year for several years thereafter, and preached at least occasionally; G.M.Cade, at San Marcos, Thomas Abbott at a
new church at Audron Ranch, A. Van Cleve, A.A. Rhodes and others, covering with Billings occasional services at San Marcos, Dennison, Weatherford,
Boughkiss, Gonzales, Grapeland and Waco. One of the more interesting Universalist revivalists was J.B. Cone, from Georgia, who went on to serve a term
on the State Legislature, and whose obituary made a point of declaring he was "no organizer!" Texas Universalists had talked of a State Convention as
early as 1861, but the Civil War intervened, and it was to be many years before that dream was fulfilled. Amos Throop, a wealthy Universalist lumber
dealer and entrepreneur who long since had headed West to the sunny shores of California for what some thought was retirement, but was actually a
whole new life, labored to create Universalist churches up and down the coast, inviting Quilln Shinn and others of his favorite ministers, including Augusta
Chapin and Ada Bowles - two of the best - to help evangelize his friends and neighbors. He recognized the power and passion of James Billings too, and
invited him to join the Universalist clergy crew on the West Coast. Luckily for Texas Universalists, James Billings, chose to be the newly appointed Texas
Universalist State Missionary in 1884. Born in Sharon, New York in 1811, Billings was already 73 years old when he settled in Texas. He had been
ordained by the Lake Erie Association of Universalists in Pennsylvania, and served several congregations in Michigan including Albion, Jackson,
Schoolcraft and Ann Arbor. This area of Michigan is famous, of course, to Universalists, for its association with the birthplace and home of Rev. Augusta
Chapin, one of Universalism's most outstanding revivalists. He would clearly have known her, and just as clearly approved of her, her ministry. After his
time in Michigan he began a long odyssey through Indiana, New Jersey, briefly to Texas (Beaver Valley - Hico? in 1879) and on the death of his wife back
North to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, then back again to Texas in 1884, to San Marcos and finally Hico, where he lived out the remainder of his life. In the
year of his arrival in Texas as missionary there were six established churches; Williamson County [Marmaduke's Siloam Springs], Rockdale [founded
1875], Blankett [founded 1882], Audron Ranch, and Grapeland, Farmersville and Clarkesville founded in that same year of his arrival, 1884. His
organizational skills show forcefully in the statistics of the following year, for he had matched the surprising number of available Universalist clergy with at
least occasional preaching sites, having every one covered! (A.J. Corley - Farmers Villa, J.B. Cone - Rancho, G.M. Cade, MD - Ingram, A. Van Cleave -
Siloam Springs, J.C. Lawhon - Elgin, W. Gardner - Beaukiss, J.S Dunbar - Paige, A.B. Minnerly - Denton Creek, J.D. Dunbar - Fairfield, A.A. Rhodes -
Gonzales and R.K. Street - Waco and A.G. Strain, dragged from retirement to be Texas most popular Universalist defender - debater) The following year
Billings had found still more preachers. Meridian was founded in 1885, Billings home church, All Souls Universalist, soon with a building, in Hico in 1886,
Gardner Valley in 1887. Also in 1887 with the help of the Universalist Women's Centenary Aid Association - later to be the Association of Universalist
Women - Rev. J.K. Street was set to the challenge of an infant Universalist congregation in Dallas. Perhaps this is the time to note that Universalist women
had in preparation for the great 1870 Universalist Centennial created their Aid Association to promote Universalism wherever and whenever they could,
and they helped in so many places for decades. The Universalist youth, on their own, though doubtless with the hearty shoving of the irrepressible Quillen
Hamilton Shinn did likewise on a smaller scale. One of James Billings' goals was to have a chapter of each, women and youth, in every church, and he did
amazingly well in that goal. He also wanted each church to take responsibility for evangelizing on the home front, and some did quite well in this. He had a
vision of a Convention Church in Texas. You've heard of the Church of the Larger Fellowship - well that was what a Convention Church was, organized on
a state by state basis. He set out to have every congregation and known Universalist in the state identify every single other, solitary Universalist in the
Lone Star State without a nearby congregation, and set up a Post Office Mission to reach out to them. In 1889 he organized a State Universalist
Association, not quite a State Convention, but close. You will not be surprised that Rev. James Billings was its President. And, oh yes, the Fish Creek
church was founded in 1890. Now for those Unitarians who are certain the Universalists never did anything right, look at the power, structure and scope of
Billings' labors. If you're not amazed, you aren't looking! Billings had by all reports wonderful industry, organization and zeal in the cause. He traveled the
length and breadth of the Lone Star State indefatigably, always with his pen and correspondence, but also in staggering personally undertaken travel in
season and out. He was mighty in the scriptures, and a sterling debater. He was, according to one obit; "gentle, patient, brave in defense of Universalism"
and absolutely untiring. Already at his death only a few years later he was remembered as the "old apostle and pioneer of Universalism in Texas." And
those were not idle words.