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MCGOWN, ANDREW JACKSON

MCGOWN, ANDREW JACKSON (ca. 1817–1871). Andrew Jackson McGown, Presbyterian minister and newspaperman, was born in Mississippi around 1817. His parents moved to Texas before 1836, while he was a seminary student in the United States. When a war with Mexico seemed near, he resigned his studies and by 1836 joined the Texas army; he participated in the battle of San Jacinto. During this stay in Texas he met Rev. Sumner Bacon, who encouraged him to help in gaining Texas a presbytery, a school, and a newspaper. McGown then briefly returned to his studies in the United States. Upon his return to Texas he worked until early 1837 as a surveyor in northeast Texas, an area included in the bounds of the Red River Presbytery of Arkansas Synod (Cumberland Presbyterian). Thus, McGown did not attend the first meeting of the Texas Presbytery in 1837, but by 1838 he was accepted as a licentiate; he may have been a circuit rider in 1838. In the spring of 1840 he returned to Mississippi, where he was ordained by the Oxford Presbytery; in the fall of 1841 he returned to Texas and rejoined the Texas Presbytery. McGown was one of the presiding ministers when the Colorado Presbytery was formed in March 1843, as part of the Texas Presbyterians' plan to form a synod. After Bacon's death in 1844, the Colorado Presbytery delegated McGown "missionary to the United States." His duties were to recruit new preachers for the Texas mission field and to raise money to begin a Texas church newspaper. He spent a year traveling through Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky, attending the meetings of different synods and presbyteries. He also wrote appeals for ministers to serve in Texas in the denominational newspaper, the Banner of Peace. Though the response to McGown's effort cannot be fully assessed, there was an increase in the number of ministers serving in Texas from about ten in 1844 to around seventy in 1852; many moved to Texas from areas visited by McGown.

During his recruitment journeys McGown had raised funds and secured an editor for a church-related newspaper in Texas, but the project was not successful. He took up the task himself and on November 3, 1846, published the first issue of the Texas Presbyterian in Victoria. This was the first regularly published English-language church newspaper based in Texas. McGown worked to ensure that it was not a rigidly denominational publication, and it often included items of general interest, particularly on education. McGown also published the Texas Pulpit (1851), which later became the more theologically oriented Texas Medium (1852). He received endorsements from the Cumberland Presbyterian judicatories in Texas, but because they rarely supplied financial support for his publishing efforts he was forced to sell most of his property in order to continue. In an attempt to attain more funding and a higher circulation for the paper, McGown moved it in 1847 to Houston and in 1849 to Huntsville, where it was published until inadequate funding forced him to abandon the project in 1856. Even during this decade as a publisher-editor, he continued to preach when time would permit. He also served as a trustee for the Houston Female Institute. McGown died in 1871 at the home of a friend, shortly after attending a meeting of the Trinity Presbytery, where he preached on the text "Go ye unto all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Robert Douglas Brackenridge, Voice in the Wilderness: A History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Texas (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1968). Thomas H. Campbell, History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Texas (Nashville: Cumberland Presbyterian Publishing House, 1936). Lynnell Jackson, True Witness: A Checklist of Newspapers, 1845–1861 (University of Texas at Austin Department of Journalism, 1971). S. M. Templeton, "A Paper on Early Cumberland Presbyterian History in Texas" (Joint Session of the Synods of Texas, Fort Worth, September 23, 1931). Texas Presbyterian, February 5, 1848.

William J. Stone, Jr., and Carl L. McFarland

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

William J. Stone, Jr., and Carl L. McFarland, "MCGOWN, ANDREW JACKSON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmcbn), accessed December 18, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.