sidebar menu icon


MCRAE, THADDEUS (1831–1882). Thaddeus McRae, Presbyterian minister, was born on October 10, 1831, in Marlboro Territory (now Dillon County), South Carolina, the son of James and Mary (McArn) McRae. In 1843 he and his family moved to Kemper County, Mississippi, where his father bought a farm. McRae studied for the ministry in the early 1850s in Columbus, Mississippi; he was licensed to preach in October 1854 and was ordained in November 1855. McRae served at churches in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana before moving to Port Lavaca, Texas, in February 1861. There he headed the local Presbyterian church and engaged in a bitter struggle against secession and the division of his denomination into Northern and Southern branches. He lost both battles. When Texas joined the Confederacy, most of McRae's fellow churchmen in Texas united with the Southern group. He left Port Lavaca on Christmas Day, 1863, made his way to New Orleans, joined the Union Army under Gen. Benjamin Butler, and became chaplain of a black regiment. Early in 1866 he returned to Texas. He took charge of the majority faction of the Austin Presbyterian Church, a group of ardent Unionists, against a minority of equally ardent Southerners; in 1868, having enlisted in his behalf small groups of like-minded persons in Georgetown and Galveston, with their two pastors, he organized the Presbytery of Austin, which in the next forty years spread out over a large part of Texas and increased in membership to about 4,000.

Politics also claimed McRae's attention; he wrote much but under assumed names. On motion of Edmund J. Davis he was elected chaplain of the Constitutional Convention of 1866. A few months later he was made private secretary to Governor Elisha M. Pease. In the Constitutional Convention of 1868–69 McRae was employed as clerk of the committee on lawlessness and wrote the committee's report. The next year, tired of turmoil, he went to Pennsylvania, where he ministered to churches for a time. In 1875 he moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he was minister of the local Presbyterian church until 1878. McRae married Annie F. Bradshaw of Franconia, Alabama, on January 11, 1855; they became the parents of seven children, two of whom died as infants. Annie died in 1872, and McRae married Susan Duncan Potter in May 1873. Their two children died at a young age. McRae died in Cedar Rapids on December 14, 1882.

Autobiography of Thaddeus McRae (MS, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). Semi Centennial: The Fiftieth Anniversary of Organization of the First Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas, May 26th and 27th, 1900 (Austin: Von Boeckmann, Schutze, 1900).
William A. McLeod

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:

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, William A. McLeod, "McRae, Thaddeus," accessed November 22, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.