Wilmeth, Collin McKinney (1848–1898)

By: R. L. Roberts

Type: Biography

Published: September 1, 1995

Collin McKinney Wilmeth, preacher and missionary, the son of Joseph Bryce and Nancy (Ferguson) Wilmeth, was born on January 2, 1848. The Wilmeths moved to Texas in 1845, stopped in Dallas at Christmas, when Dallas consisted of three cabins, and settled near what is now Grand Prairie. Fearful of Indians the family decided to go back East, but instead settled two miles north of the site of present McKinney. Wilmeth was educated at the University of Kentucky, College of the Bible. He married Mary Griffith Rutherford of Tennessee in 1873. As a prominent young minister, Wilmeth preached extensively in North Texas and made preaching journeys to the frontier. As a full-time evangelist he traveled the state preaching and debating and, with his brother, taught for a time at Add-Ran College (later Texas Christian University). Wilmeth and his older brother, James Ranson Wilmeth, began the Texas Christian Monthly in McKinney in 1875. This monthly periodical soon changed its name to the Christian Monthly and was moved to Dallas, where it merged with a similar paper called the Iron Preacher, published in New Orleans, and became the Christian Preacher. C. M. was editor and publisher. In the 1880s in the movement for state missionary societies, Wilmeth and his paper were influential voices for conservatism. After serving as state evangelist for Texas churches from 1882 until 1886, when the Texas State Missionary Society was organized, Wilmeth returned to Dallas and established Nazareth University in West Dallas. In 1892 Wilmeth moved the school and the paper to Corinth, Arkansas, and operated them there until he moved to Mexico in 1896. Wilmeth was probably the leading evangelist among Churches of Christ for the last quarter of the nineteenth century in Texas. His leadership is evident as editor, educator, debater, state evangelist, and missionary to Mexico. The attempt to evangelize through colonization near Tampico was called an "Exodus to Mexico," a bold missionary effort of Wilmeth and some Texas congregations. For a brief period, due to Wilmeth's energy and zeal, the effort was successful, but his death from a malaria attack and overexertion on October 12, 1898, ended the colonization effort.

Dallas Morning News, July 26, 1929. Stephen Daniel Eckstein, History of the Churches of Christ in Texas, 1824–1950 (Austin: Firm Foundation, 1963). Colby D. Hall, Texas Disciples (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1953). Nicholas Kassebaum, He Built for Eternity: C. M. Wilmeth, an Early Texas Preacher (M.A. thesis, Abilene Christian University, 1967). McKinney Courier-Gazette, July 3, 1986. C. M. Wilmeth, "Preaching on the Frontier," Gospel Advocate, November 10, 1881.
  • Religion
  • Christian Church
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

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

R. L. Roberts, “Wilmeth, Collin McKinney,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 16, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wilmeth-collin-mckinney.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995

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