Red, William Stuart (1857–1933)

By: Richard B. Hughes

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 3, 2019

William Stuart Red, Presbyterian minister and historian, son of George Clark and Rebecca (Stuart) Red, was born at Gay Hill, Washington County, Texas, on February 12, 1857 (some sources say 1860). He attended Southwestern Presbyterian University in Clarksville, Tennessee, for a year before enrolling in Austin College, which granted him an A.B. degree in 1882. Red studied at Princeton Theological Seminary and then attended Columbia Theological Seminary in South Carolina in 1884–85. He enrolled in the Austin School of Theology in 1885; he graduated in 1886 and taught Hebrew there until 1888. He undertook additional graduate studies at the University of Leipzig, Germany, in 1888–89 and at Free Church College in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1908–09. Red was licensed to preach in 1884 and ordained a minister of the Presbyterian Church (Southern) in 1887. During the following years, he served several Presbyterian churches in Texas, including the First Presbyterian Church of Navasota (1890–92), Columbia and Velasco churches (1895), the Hardy Street Presbyterian Church in Houston (1896–97), and the Bee Cave Presbyterian Church near Austin (1920–23). For eleven years (1909–1920) Red served as the pastor of the Presbyterian church in Mexia. He was chaplain of Texas A&M from 1892 to 1894 and editor of the Texas Presbyterian from 1894 to 1897. He also served as moderator of the Synod of Texas (1902) and as stated clerk for the Presbytery of Brazos. He was a trustee of Austin College, which granted him an honorary doctorate in 1907.

Red lamented that prospective ministers who left the state to study often stayed away, and he led an incessant campaign for a Presbyterian seminary on Texas soil. He championed Austin as its site so that seminarians could have access to the lectures and libraries of the University of Texas. Accordingly, he mobilized his family to offer the land and buildings of Stuart Seminary, which they inherited from his mother, to the Texas Synod. The donation was accepted in 1899, and in 1902 the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary opened at the former girls' school. Red was also concerned about the recording of church history and the need to establish a center for historical research. He joined another Texas clergyman, S. M. Tenney, in promoting what is now the Historical Foundation of the Reformed and Presbyterian Churches at Montreat, North Carolina. Red retired from pastoral duties in 1919 and moved to Austin to write history. The Texas Colonists and Religion (1924) explores the role of religion in the era of the Texas Revolution. Red's death in 1933 prevented the completion of his intended three-volume history of Texas Presbyterianism, but his widow and the Rev. Malcolm Purcell, a nephew, compressed a single 500-page volume, A History of the Presbyterian Church in Texas (1936), from the hundreds of pages of material Red had already compiled. Red married Rizpah Clark Bowers on January 2, 1896; they had two children. He died on July 8, 1933, and was buried in Austin.

Thomas White Currie, Jr., Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary: A Seventy-fifth Anniversary History (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1978). Richard B. Hughes, "William Stuart Red, Historian: An Appreciation and Criticism," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 79 (January 1976). Ministerial Directory of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. (Presbyterian Church in the United States, 1942). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Education
  • School Trustees and Regents
  • Religion
  • Presbyterian

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

Richard B. Hughes, “Red, William Stuart,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 27, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 3, 2019