The Life and Labors of Major W. E. Penn
"The Texas Evangelist"

transcribed by John M. Penn


MY BRETHREN and friends have so repeatedly requested me to leave a record of my life work in a more enduring form than the notices of the papers and the fading tablets of memory, and these requests have been so urgent, I have undertaken to yield to their solicitation.

The work was begun several times, but because it seemed a hard and arduous task was given up, I promising myself that at "some more convenient season" I would attend to it.

Having kept no journal, I found that many of the incidents of interest were growing less vivid in my mind, and fearing they might become entirely obliterated, I was spurred on to complete my task. I have necessarily left out nearly all of my work for the last few years.

If anything said in this book shall be of comfort or help to the children of our Master; or should be used by the Holy Spirit to awaken poor dead sinners to a realization of their awful condition, and cause them to hear His voice and live. I shall be more than repaid for my toil.

I hope that no one will do me the injustice to think that in writing this book I have sought to exalt myself; nothing could be further from my heart's desire. I humbly realize that if any good has been accomplished through my life it is all of God's grace; He is the giver of all good: I know I shall bless and praise Him throughout eternity for the wonderful way in which He magnified His name through the work He did in and through me, who am one of the weakest of His servants. To Him be all the glory now and evermore. Amen.


William Evander Penn, (1832-1895) Baptist evangelist, was born to George Douglas and Telitha (Patterson) Penn in Rutherford County, Tennessee, on August 11, 1832. Penn opened his law office in Lexington, Tennessee, about 1852. Penn moved to Texas and continued his law practice but later became a musician and Baptist evangelist.  He has been called the "Texas Evangelist," but he also led revivals in other states and in Scotland and England. The Penns moved to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, about 1887. Penn's health began to decline in 1892. He wrote the autobiographical part of The Life and Labors of Major W. E. Penn in 1892, but the book was not published until 1896, after his death. He died at his home on April 29, 1895, and was buried in Eureka Springs Cemetery, Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

John M. Penn is in the process of scanning the autobiography of his ancestor Major W. E. Penn. The preface above details Major Penn's objective in writing his autobiography. The table of contents is listed below. John's work in scanning the book is incomplete but you can click here to view the current state of this work in Adobe pdf format. The Adobe reader is required to view this document.

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Table of Contents

CHAPTER I Boyhood Exploits 19
CHAPTER II Conversion and Baptism 33
CHAPTER III Penn, the Lawyer 40
CHAPTER IV Penn, the Politician 50
CHAPTER V Fetters Broken 58
CHAPTER VI Setting Up a Home and Business Again 67
CHAPTER VII Toil, Sunshine and Shadow 74
CHAPTER VIII Pressed Into the Work 81
CHAPTER IX Work at Bryan and Nava Bota 99
CHAPTER X Meetings at Waco and Vicinity 107
CHAPTER XI Work at Paris, Dallas and Galveston 112
CHAPTER XII God's Vindication of His Servant 120
CHAPTER XIII Marshall, Mineola and Back to Tyler 126
CHAPTER XIV Rest, Conflict and Victory 134
CHAPTER XV Facing Eastward 140
CHAPTER XVI Farther East 148
CHAPTER XVII A Visit to My Childhood Home 154
CHAPTER XVIII Work in Larger Cities 160
CHAPTER XIX Joy and Sadness 169
CHAPTER XX Longer Cords and Stronger Stalres 175
CHAPTER XXI A Title Obtained and Earthly Treasures Lost 179
CHAPTER XXII A Home in Palestine and a Visit to California 182
CHAPTER XXIII A Voyage to the Old World 189
CHAPTER XXIV England, Ho! and Home Again 205
CHAPTER XXV At Work Again 217
CHAPTER XXVl Work Completed-Warfare Ended 228
CHAPTER XXVII The Last Sad Rites 234
CHAPTER XXVIII Reminiscences by G. W. Baines 245
CHAPTER XXIX Reminiscences by F. Keifer 266
CHAPTER XXX Reminiscences of the Tuscaloosa Meeting 271
CHAPTER XXXI Tribute of Esteem by Eld. M. Slaughter 288
  Tribute of Esteem by R. C. Blirleson, D.D. 289
  Tribute of Esteem by Eld. E. B. Miller 292
  Tribute of Esteem by Ida L. Gresham 295
  Tribute of Esteem by Eld. W. D. Beverley 295
  Tribute of Esteem from Toledo, Ohio 296
  Tribute of Esteem from Leavenworth, Kansas 297
  Tribute of Esteem by Eld. W. J. Holtzclaw 299
  Tribnte of Esteem by V, C. Hart 299
  Tribute of Esteem by Eld. S. A. Hayden 304
CHAPTER XXXll Interesting Incidents 307
CHAPTER XXXIV Clippings from Mrs. Penn's Journal 323
CHAPTER XXXV Outline of Sermons on the Divinity of Christ 332