Robert Franklin Bunting, pioneer Texas Presbyterian minister and chaplain of Terry's Texas Rangers, was born on May 9, 1828, at Hookstown, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, the son of John and Margaret (Moody) Bunting. He earned an A.B. degree at Washington College (now Washington and Jefferson College) in 1849, M.A. and B.D. degrees at Princeton and Princeton Theological Seminary in 1852, and a D.D. degree at Hampden-Sydney in 1867. He was appointed a missionary to Texas by the Presbyterian Church in 1852, and the next year he established churches at La Grange, Columbus, and Round Top. In 1856 he established the present First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio. In 1861 he served as commissioner from the West Texas Presbytery to the general assembly at Augusta, Georgia, which separated from the Northern church and founded the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America. He returned as a commissioner to Southern Presbyterian assemblies in 1862 and 1864.
From 1861 to 1865 Bunting was chaplain and regimental historian of the Eighth Texas Cavalry–better known as Terry's Texas Rangers. His ninety-five letters written while he was war correspondent for the Houston Daily Telegraph and Tri-Weekly Telegraph (see TELEGRAPH AND TEXAS REGISTER) and the San Antonio Herald provide a history of the regiment. Bunting also operated a private postal service for Texas troops throughout the war and founded and operated the Texas Hospital for Texas soldiers at Auburn, Alabama, in 1864.
After the war he was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Nashville, Tennessee. He returned to Texas in 1869 to become pastor at Galveston, where he served until 1882. He founded and, from 1876 to 1880 edited, the synod's weekly newspaper, the Texas Presbyterian. He was moderator of the Texas Synod in 1872 and state clerk from 1872 to 1883. Bunting left Texas to serve as pastor at Rome, Georgia, in 1883–84. He acted as fiscal agent for Southwestern Presbyterian University (Southwestern College at Memphis, Tennessee) from 1885 to 1889 and then returned to the ministry at Gallatin, Tennessee, where he served from 1889 to 1891.
He was a prominent member of the grand lodges of both the Masonic lodge and the Odd Fellows, as well as a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. In 1853 he married Nina Ella Doxey of Columbus, but she died of yellow fever within a year. In 1860 he married Chrissinda Sharpe Craig at Steubenville, Ohio; they had six children. Bunting died at Gallatin, Tennessee, on September 19, 1891, and was buried there.
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Paula Mitchell Marks, "The Ranger Reverend," Civil War Times Illustrated, December 1985.
University Presidents and School Administrators
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Paula Mitchell Marks,
“Bunting, Robert Franklin,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 23, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
November 1, 1994