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GOD & TEXAS: Moses Shipman

When Moses crossed Oyster Creek in 1825, he could not have imagined that this property would one day accommodate Big Daddy’s Fireworks and D’vash Bakery. The Missouri City site of his family’s log cabins is now home to 20,000 residents in the 10,000 acre Sienna Master Planned Community.

The single room structures that Moses Shipman built have been replaced by multistory apartment complexes and residential properties that cost in the millions. Where Shipman fought against the Karankawa Indians, residents now fight traffic on Highway 6 and the Fort Bend Tollway.

In a nod to the Old 300 settler, community developers named a section Sienna Village of Shipman’s Landing that includes Shipman’s Landing Drive. It is surrounded by schools, churches, houses, and a library.

Shipman immigrated to Texas from North Carolina with his wife Mary, and their 10 children. They first settled near Jonesboro, Texas. But in 1823, they united with Stephen F. Austin near San Felipe on the Brazos River. One year later, the entire family moved 20 miles southeast of Richmond to what would become Fort Bend County.

Moses Shipman became involved in the effort to obtain Texas’ freedom from Mexico. He was president of the election to send delegates to the Convention of 1836 where the Texas Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the Republic of Texas were written. During the Runaway Scrape, Moses evacuated his family to Lynchburg. He returned to find that Santa Anna’s troops had almost destroyed his cattle and property.

In 1837, one of his last efforts to strengthen Texas was to sign a petition to officially form Fort Bend County. Shipman died on Jan. 1, 1838, and is buried in the Shipman League Cemetery in Arcola. His son John was killed in the Mier expedition in 1842. Another son, Daniel, published Frontier Life: 58 Years in Texas in 1879, an excellent interpretation of early Texas history.

Moses Shipman was an outspoken Christian. Everyone knew where he stood on spiritual matters, and he would open his house to Bible studies and visiting ministers. Among others, Baptist preachers Joseph Bays and Thomas Hanks knew they could always hold services in the Shipman home, followed by a hot meal and a warm bed.

Moses was so hospitable that he became known as The Aquilla of Texas Baptists. Why Aquilla? In Acts 18, the Apostle Paul moved to Corinth, Greece, and met a Jewish Christian named Aquilla, and his wife Priscilla. They, like Paul, were tentmakers. Paul lived with them for a while and found them to be hospitable, encouraging, and deeply committed to Christ.

Moses Shipman exhibited these attributes, and therefore became known as an Aquilla. Moses also serves as an example to all of us. We may not be called into career ministry, but we can be an “Aquilla,” loving and supporting those in the Work of Christ.

“But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16 NKJV)

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