Texarkana, USA – Join the Texarkana Museums System on Saturday June 25, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. for “Dear Congregation,” a special Living History program at the Ace of Clubs House museum, 420 Pine Street in historic downtown Texarkana, USA. This program will feature dramatic readings of letters from the Reverend James Wilson Moore collection housed at the Wilbur Smith Research Library. Admission is FREE but seating is limited, so pre-registration is required. Donations accepted and will benefit the Texarkana Museums System Wilbur Smith Research Archive. For more information, call 903-793-4831 or email AceofClubs@TexarkanaMuseums.org.
Reverend James Wilson Moore (1797-1873) was a Presbyterian minister from Pennsylvania who arrived in the Arkansas Territory on January 25, 1828 as a missionary to the “lawless” settlers of Little Rock, Arkansas. He was tasked with establishing the first Presbyterian church in the new territory, earning his title as the Father of Arkansas Presbyterianism.
“When Reverend Moore came to Little Rock, there were only about 150 people in the entire city,” says TMS Curator, Jamie Simmons. “According to his account, there were only about 6 professed Christians, with only 2 of those claiming to be Presbyterian. He had his work cut out for him.”
Moore ministered to many of Arkansas’ first politicians and lawmakers, including Governors Izard and Pope. He counted Secretary of State Robert Crittenden as a friend along with many others who helped establish the state. In 1840, he moved to Oakland Grove, Arkansas and where the family established a homestead they named Ruralia. All of Moore’s 8 children were there, including his son Henry Moore, former owner of the Ace of Clubs House.
“Henry eventually made his way to Texarkana and purchased the Ace of Clubs House in 1894. The letters and journals we have that relate to J.W. Moore were donated by Henry’s daughter-in-law and grandson, Henry Moore III. It’s an amazing window on the early history of Arkansas.”
Among Reverend Moore’s correspondents were fellow missionary Cephas Washburn, who established the Dwight Mission School for Native American children after the Trail of Tears in the 1820s. He also received letters from Charles Fenton Mercer Noland, famous for his satiric “Pete Whetstone” stories of the 1840s.
“Dear Congregation” will feature dramatic readings of excerpts from letters dating from the 1820s to the 1870s. The costumed readers will be Judge Josh Morriss (as Reverend Moore), Judith White, Matthew Smith, and Anthony Auck. The event is free but seating is limited so reservations are reccommended. For more information or to make a reservation, please call the Texarkana Museums System at 903-793-4831 or visit TexarkanaMuseums.org/Events.
The Texarkana Museums System operates the P. J. Ahern Home, Museum of Regional History, Ace of Clubs House, and Discovery Place Interactive Museum in the heart of Historic Downtown Texarkana, USA. TMS offers weekly special events, programs, exhibits, and tours. For information about upcoming events, please find us on FaceBook or call us at 903-793-4831.
This program is made possible with funding from Humanities Texas and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the federal ARP Act. All opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.