While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Colby D. Hall

MCPHERSON, CHALMERS (1850–1927). Chalmers McPherson, minister and educator, was born in Thorold, Ontario, Canada, a few miles from Niagara Falls, on January 20, 1850. When he was five years old his father died, whereupon his mother took her two children to Kentucky and taught school. After attending his mother's school, McPherson received his formal education at Georgetown College in Kentucky, Asbury (now DePaul) University in Indiana, and Eastman's Commercial College in New York. He returned to Mount Vernon, Kentucky, to teach school, studied law, and while in his twenties received a license to practice law in Kentucky. After four years at Burksville he was ordained a minister of the Disciples of Christ at Mount Vernon, and in June 1877 he began preaching in Burksville, supplementing his income with what he earned from teaching to support himself and his wife, Ella (Sheegog) of Nashville, whom he married on April 20, 1875. The couple had four children.

In 1879 McPherson accepted a position as pastor of the Christian church in Waxahachie, Texas, where he remained for the next twenty years and established an area-wide reputation for both his church service and his efforts to establish a Christian college for area residents. McPherson devoted much of his time to the new Disciples of Christ school Add-Ran College, which he served as a trustee twice, 1884–87 and 1889–1907. He also was a founding member of the Texas Christian Missionary Society, established in 1886. From 1899 to 1904 he served as a minister in Fort Worth. He returned to Waxahachie in 1904 and left in 1908 to become endowment secretary for Texas Christian University, the successor of Add-Ran College. He resigned from his position in 1912 but continued to serve as university lecturer on the Bible, a position he began in 1911. In 1914 he received an appointment as professor of New Testament studies at the university's newly established Brite College of the Bible.

McPherson served as a correspondent for the Gospel Advocate of Nashville, Tennessee, and for the Christian Standard of Cincinnati, Ohio. He also was an editor of the Christian Courier on seven different occasions. In 1920 he published a history of his denomination, Disciples of Christ of Texas. Two years later he served as president of the Texas Christian Convention held in Fort Worth. On September 26, 1927, he died at Fort Worth, where he was buried.

Carter E. Boren, Religion on the Texas Frontier (San Antonio: Naylor, 1968). Fort Worth Star-Telegram, September 26, 1927. Colby D. Hall, History of Texas Christian University (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1947). Colby D. Hall, Texas Disciples (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1953). Chalmers McPherson, Disciples of Christ in Texas (Cincinnati: Standard, 1920).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Colby D. Hall, "MCPHERSON, CHALMERS," accessed July 04, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmcaj.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...