GOD & TEXAS: A women's perspective on pioneer Texas
Texas history was told mostly from the viewpoint of men. But there were some great women writers like Teresa Griffin Vielé, Jane Cazneau (Cora Montgomery), Mary Austin Holley, and Sallie Reynolds Matthews. They saw aspects of frontier Texas from a completely different perspective.
In her book Interwoven, Sallie Ann Matthews Reynolds' narratives capture the events, romances, struggles, and celebrations of the Matthews and Reynolds families from the viewpoint of a young girl through adulthood.
Her father and mother were strong Christians. Or as Sallie said about her father, “God never made a more honorable man.” Then, referring to the upbringing of her mother, Sallie said that she was “rocked in the iron cradle of Presbyterianism.”
Her parents immigrated to West Texas in 1847 and Sallie Ann was born in 1861 at the Cantrell Ranch in Buchanan County (now Stephens County). Later, as the family historian, Sally revealed her strong Christian upbringing in her stories.
Most of her accounts unfold west of Fort Worth in southern Throckmorton County. Lambshead Ranch becomes the epicenter of the tales that will make you laugh and cry in amazement at the situations early Texans encountered.
Through intermarriage, the Reynolds and Matthews families built one of the great dynasties of West Texas. But through it all, God was the guiding light. In the Introduction of the book, Robert Nail stated that Sallie Ann was a leader in the family and “taught them Bible verses and, greater still, by the example of her own deep faith deepened their own.”
Going to church was a key part of their life. On one occasion, members of the family were walking home from Sunday evening services when they encountered marauding Indians. To protect themselves the family rolled into the tall prairie grass and prayed to not be discovered. Prayer saved them.
Additionally, Sallie Ann wrote about a “very religious man” who lived near them. Every morning and evening he would leave his house and go for “secret prayer.” She said that it was never secret because he prayed so loud that sometimes the dogs howled! On one occasion, he went down by the creek for “secret prayer” and frightened some peaceful Tonkawa Indians. They ran to the Reynolds house and said he had “too much firewater!”
This “very religious man” could have been a Pentecostal Believer. On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, when the prayers of the 120 shook up the whole city, the Apostle Peter said in verse 15, “These are not drunk as you suppose.”
Later, the Apostle Paul taught in Ephesians 5:18 NLT, "Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit." Perhaps this "very religious man" was drinking Heavenly firewater! The writings of Sally Ann Matthews remind us that God has had His children in every age. May we live for Jesus in our generation, too.
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