Hurley, Henry (1796–1869)

By: Betty Fugatt Nitske

Type: Biography

Published: February 1, 1995

Henry Hurley, pioneer preacher and farmer, was born in North Carolina or Tennessee on December 24, 1796. He married Deborah Bowen, with whom he had eleven children, about 1818 in Tennessee, and by 1825, after a few years in Alabama, the couple lived in Dyer County, Tennessee. Late in 1837 or 1838 they family moved to Barry County, Missouri. There Hurley became a preacher of the Primitive Baptist Church.

He and his family traveled by oxcart to Texas in 1844 and camped at Black Jack Grove, west of the site of Cumby. He was granted land in the Mercer colony and chose 640 acres on Turkey Creek, fourteen miles southeast of Greenville, in Hunt County. Although he had much work to do to clear land, cut trees, hew timbers, plant crops, and build cabins, Hurley found time to organize a church in Hunt County and traveled long distances by horseback to meet with families. He organized the Honey Grove Church in Fannin County on May 3, 1846, and became its first pastor; he also started the Pecan Point Church and the Little Flock Church in Collin County. In order to protect himself against Indians during his long horseback journeys, he carried a double-barreled shotgun and a six-shooter. At the yearly Pilot Grove Association meetings of 1853 and 1858 Hurley preached the introductory sermons.

In 1858 or 1859 he and his family moved to 160 acres of land 8½ miles southeast of Stephenville in Erath County. On July 16, 1859, the Bosque church of the Primitive Baptists was founded; Hurley was called to be its minister and served in that capacity until his death. At funerals and services he came armed, and some church members were always on guard against Indian raids. Hurley later helped in organizing Erath County. Asked by James McCarty, Jr., a friend's son, to baptize him, Hurley rode from home on the head of Duffau Creek on September 14, 1869. That night McCarty, "in a fit of insanity," shot and killed Hurley and his own father, and with a rock killed his child. Hurley is buried in Duffau Cemetery. On May 27, 1984, his grave was marked with a state historical marker.

Galveston Daily News, September 26, 30, 1869. History of Texas (2 vols., Chicago: Lewis, 1896; rpt., St. Louis: Ingmire, 1983). J. S. Newman, History of the Primitive Baptists of Oklahoma, Texas, and Indian Territory (Tioga, Texas: Baptist Trumpet, 1906).
  • Religion
  • Baptist

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

Betty Fugatt Nitske, “Hurley, Henry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995