This monotype print is taken from a photo of my grandfather’s grandfather, the patriarch and a preacher in Deep East Texas. He had 24 children with two (consecutive) wives, and when he passed in 1940, he had a three-day funeral.
I asked my father about this man’s story, because he was the first that I know of to preach “independently” in my family.
I was told that after many years of preaching in one of the main denominations, Rev. Durham became dissatisfied with it. According to my dad, he then “sat under a tree and fasted for three days.” When his fast was complete, he had decided to break from that denomination and form his own East Texas church, which remains today in one of the area’s outlying communities. One-hundred years later, it is still maintained as a church and community center by his descendants, many of whom who are still active in the area as preachers and musicians.
This is the earliest preacher I can identify in this family line, and the religion he preached is hard to categorize. A bit evangelical – one of his sons claimed to walk on water and did, until local pranksters dismantled the underwater ramp he used in his demonstrations. At the same time, this side of the family has a very accepting philosophy of life and a “live and let live” attitude towards others. Music is central to the ministry, and I understand that sermons could go on and on and on…
While he was building his legacy as preacher, his brothers and nephews were busy feuding and fighting all over East Texas. I have found three feuds so far, two of them deadly, and I am sure there are more. I have a lot of thoughts about that, but it’s another post for another day.