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Stephenson, Henry (1772–1841)

Robert Wooster Biography

Henry Stephenson, early Methodist preacher, was born in Virginia in 1772. The family moved to Kentucky and later to Missouri, where Stephenson was licensed to preach by Methodist officials in 1812. He married and moved to Arkansas and subsequently to Louisiana as a Methodist circuit rider. He ventured into Texas as early as 1824 but found Stephen F. Austin opposed to the propagation of Protestantism in his colony, as this violated Mexican law and threatened to upset relations between Anglo settlers and the Mexican government. Nonetheless, Stephenson was placed in charge of the Methodist effort in Texas in 1834. That year, despite the continued opposition of Mexican authorities to the presence of Protestant ministers, he made a successful sweep through Texas. Stephenson moved to Texas the following year and settled on Cow Creek in what is now Newton County. Mirabeau B. Lamar described him as "a zealous & sincere man." Stephenson struggled to overcome his lack of eloquence and limited formal education while delivering his message. Poor health and shaky financial support slowed his efforts in later years, although he did preach in Jasper and Jefferson counties in 1840 and 1841. He died in Jasper on November 20, 1841, and was buried in Burkeville. The Texas Centennial Commission placed a marker on his grave in 1936.

Macum Phelan, History of Early Methodism in Texas, 1817–1866 (Nashville: Cokesbury, 1924); A History of the Expansion of Methodism in Texas, 1867–1902 (Dallas: Mathis, Van Nort, 1937). Newton County Historical Commission, Glimpses of Newton County History (Burnet, Texas: Nortex, 1982). Walter N. Vernon et al., The Methodist Excitement in Texas (Dallas: Texas United Methodist Historical Society, 1984).


  • Religion
  • Methodist

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

Robert Wooster, “Stephenson, Henry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 01, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.