Some years ago, Dave Grossman gave me the book, “Bible in Pocket Gun in Hand.” It is the story of frontier religion, with some hairy moments. It was a hard time with hard people. Some of the hardest were the preachers.
Texas preacher Peter Moeling once wrote, “I shall die a true patriot and a soldier of the Cross, the gun in hand and Christ in my heart.”
I just read it again to capture some of the stories for you. The author (Ross Phares) included enough details and references to make it interesting and verifiable.
Phares commented that, “as a rule, the preacher was the chief police force at church. He did not get the spontaneous aid from the brethren that he frequently needed.”
That is still an issue today.
Phares however, wrote of an exception in the experience of one preacher who had a persistent heckler interrupting his sermon. Finally, a defender stood up and announced he would cut off the wind from the heckler if he kept it up. Then the defender announced, “I’m Jim Bowie.” He really was. The heckling stopped.
Dave Morrow was known as “Prairie Dog Dave” in Dodge City. He had many roles in western law enforcement, and served with Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp.
But Morrow didn’t like preachers and Phares captured a related story of Morrow. One night an evangelist had taken over Rowdy Kate’s Dance Hall (frontier preachers often used saloons and Dance Halls for venues). The evangelist had turned the dance hall into a sanctuary by placing boards across beer kegs for seating. He sent some men to summon Morrow to his gospel message on being ready to die.
Morrow listened as long as he could take it, then stood up and asked the evangelist if he was, “so good you’re ready to cash in any old time?” The preacher said he was.
Morrow yelled, “then you better die right now when you’re settin’ purty.” He pulled his brace of six-shooters and started shooting into the floor at the preacher’s feet. The preacher screamed and dived for cover behind beer kegs.
Morrow then announced, “He’s no more ready to die than I am.”
Phares mused he could find no records of future evangelists trying to get Prairie Dog Dave into their revivals.
Think About it…
If you enjoyed this glimpse back 150 years ago, there’s more fun stories out of that book coming next week