Come to Diocesan Convention – it’s a lot easier than it used to be
In 1852, when what is now the diocese of Fort Worth was still part of the enormous Diocese of Texas, a priest named William Passmore dutifully began a trip from his missionary station in Brownsville to the diocesan convention in Chappell Hill, a distance of about 370 miles. He almost didn’t make it there alive.
There were no highways. There were no paved roads. There were no cars. The local Army commander warned them of Mexican bandits and indigenous people angry about encroachments on land they considered theirs. There were lost horses and supplies. What happened to Passmore on his way to convention?
To find out, read on below. And while you are reading, remember that everyone in the diocese is invited to attend the 30th Diocesan Convention November 2-3 at the Thompson Student Center, Tarleton State University, Stephenville. Among other business, convention delegates will elect the next provisional bishop, who will be installed at the convention. There will be many activities that will include everyone present, delegates and visitors alike. See box below for the convention schedule, a map of the campus and parking information.
Stephenville is in Erath County, about an hour-and-a-half drive from Fort Worth.
On paved roads.
With no Mexican bandits.
And comfortable hotels to stay in overnight.
So read on to find out the fate of the Rev. Passmore. This account is taken from "The Episcopal Church in Texas, 1838-1874," Lawrence L. Brown, page 69. Thanks to David Leedy who provided the story and the citation.
The Rev. William Passmore Goes to Diocesan Convention
"The story of Episcopal missionary activity in Brownsville stands first among all the stories coming out of Texas in the first ten years of the life of the Diocese. The Reverend William Passmore of the Diocese of New York was appointed to Brownsville in response to the urgent call of the Church and the Bishop. He arrived at his station and got settled in June 1851. It did not occur to him that it would be troublesome to travel to Chappell Hill for the Diocesan Convention in 1852. That was a clergyman’s duty! (How often some other clergymen did not attend unless the place of meeting was close by!) …
"He left Brownsville on April 13 in company with another American. They rode Mexican ponies and led a pack-horse laden with their baggage; this seemed the only way to go, since no stage lines operated. Warned by the Army commander to avoid the mainland route because of recent raids by Indians and Mexican bandits, the travelers started up Padre Island toward Corpus Christi. They first had a scrape with a band of Mexican herders who probably planned to steal their animals while they were camped for the night, but the herders were discouraged by the vigilance of the two. Passmore and his companion next fell victims to a heard of wild mustangs rushing through their camp; this lured away one of the saddle ponies and the pack horse. Passmore’s fellow traveler set off on the remaining pony to track the herd, hoping to retrieve beasts and baggage. After a wait of three days, the clergyman set out afoot with a bundle of crackers and a gallon of water in his carpetbag, following the beach to reach Corpus Christi before starvation overcame him. He walked about a day and a half; shed his boots after his feet became blistered and walked on wet sand at the surf’s edge. He managed to catch a couple of sandcrabs for food, but, exhausted and disheartened, saw little prospect of surviving. Thoughtfully, he had left signal sticks along his route. When hope seemed dimmest, his companion returned with their animals and all their possessions. After a chase of seventy miles the man had found the beasts, which apparently were unable to keep up with the wild herd that had stampeded them.
"Even then the perils of the journey were not over. The two travelers had to swim their horses across the usually shallow pass to Corpus Christi. Passmore was nearly drowned in the Aransas River on the way to Refugio. From Goliad, Passmore went on to Victoria, San Antonio, Austin, and thence by stage to the Convention at Chappell Hill. Did ever another clergyman have so difficult a trip to Convention?"