This overview of the Hill Country Christadelphians scarcely does justice to the impact these early pioneers had on the Truth in North America.
The Oatmans and the Bantas and others baptized many, many converts in the Hill Country during the 1850s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. Other prominent names from the early days are still much in evidence around Texas — Greer, Tanner, and Wolfe. Where I grew up, you have to realize, the plural of “Wolfe” was not “wolves”, but “Wolfes”!
The Hill Country was such a demanding place to live, however. It was a land that chewed men up and spit them out. The pendulum swings between rainy years and dry years were large and frequent. And many early settlers lost much, or all, they had in the droughts, Indian raids, and other hardships. So, after years of hard times, and lured by promises of other lands to the west, many Christadelphian families packed up their belongings and embarked upon further migrations.
The first Christadelphians of New Mexico were three families who left the Hill Country together, in about 1890, with their wagons and herds of cattle, and set out for Oregon. But difficulties of travel, and problems with border patrols, held them up, so that when they heard of free land to be had in the mountains of New Mexico, they changed their plans and stopped there. And their descendants remain there still.
Other early Texas Christadelphians migrated as far as California in the last part of the 19th century. One whole ecclesia, of 60 or 70 members, uprooted itself and moved practically en masse to the west coast. And so it is that, to this very day, many of the names of California Christadelphians like Wolfe and Banta bear evidence of their Texas roots.
Other Texas Christadelphians, or their children, made it as far as Oregon in later years.
And so, out of the struggles, trials, and heartaches of the early Christadelphians in the Texas Hill Country, there were spread abroad, across the whole of western America, migrating bands of believers who planted the seeds of the Truth in the furthest reaches of the United States.
It may be said, then, that the Oatmans, the Bantas, and the Johnsons have never lacked men and women to stand before the Lord, from that day to this. And we pray, and trust, that their lines will continue until the Kingdom of God comes.
To be continued.
This post is part of a series authored by brother George Booker. Click here to see all previous posts in the series.