The Movement Comes of Age

Elijah L. Shettles to Dr. Alexander Dienst, July 18, 1914

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Elijah L. Shettles was a true Texas character. Shettles was born in Mississippi in 1852. As a young man, he traveled the Southwest as a hard-drinking, hard-living gambler. Towering over most of his contemporaries at 6'5", Shettles was nicknamed "Shorty." In 1891, he was saved by a revival preacher and called to the Methodist ministry. Shettles worked as a preacher, editor, and church administrator for the next 30 years. After his retirement, he devoted himself to rare-book collecting until his death in 1940 at the age of 88.

Like Shettles, Dr. Alexander Dienst was an ardent prohibitionist. Unlike Shettles, the dentist was also a supporter of James E. Ferguson. It would be the rise of "Pa" Ferguson that would bring the long-simmering issues of prohibition and women's suffrage to the boiling point. In this letter, Shettles expresses his dismay that Dienst has gone over to the side of "Farmer Jim."

The "Shuler" to whom Shettles refers is R.D. "Bob" Schuler, pastor of University Methodist Church in Austin. Tom Ball is Thomas H. Ball, a prohibitionist politician and former mayor of Huntsville who was defeated for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1914 by Ferguson.

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Elijah L. Shettles to Dr. A. Dienst, 1914

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Elijah L. Shettles to Dr. Alexander Dienst, July 18, 1914, Elijah L. Shettles Collection, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.


Page last modified: August 24, 2011