History of the Restoration Movement

Francis Andrew Jackson "A. J." Bush


The Life Of A.J. Bush

A.J. BUSH. After the manuscript for these pages had been forwarded to the publishers, Brother Bush joined the ranks of "Our Remembered Dead." How worthily he adorns the place. Truly, one of the choicest spirits among our Lord's disciples has passed from his earth's labor to reward. Like the great apostle, he fought the good fight, finished the course and kept the faith.

Many years ago a preacher reached a small town in Missouri to bear the message for which he was giving his life. A miller from a nearby community happened to be in the village, and was told, "A man from Virginia will preach here today." The miller heard the sermon, and, after reaching his home, said to his wife: “There is a man in town preaching, and he tells it just like it reads in the Book; we must hear him.” They heard him, and, at the close of the first sermon, accepted the invitation. The preacher was Alexander Campbell, and the man and woman were the grandparents of A. J. Bush. These two became faithful disciples of the Lord, and lived to see their own son preach the same message "just like it read in the Book." Later, the son of this man—A. J. Bush—became a devoted, faithful, successful preacher of the same gospel, and, still later, his son, George L. Bush, of Missouri, dedicated his life to the proclamation of the very same glorious message. What a wonderful line of work Mr. Campbell inaugurated on that day in the little Missouri town when he preached that sermon “as the Book told it.”

Bro. A. J. Bush began his work in Texas in the very sparsely settled regions of the State, in the year 1876. He traveled over vast scopes of country, on horseback, in a buggy, on foot, and slept wherever he could find a place to lay his head, which at times was by the roadside far from the habitation of man. My introduction to this man came from reading a brief article from him, in the little paper known as The Christian Preacher, in which he pleaded for co-operative effort in giving the gospel to the needy portions of Texas. Some of us thought he was setting his traps to lead the church of Jesus Christ into the snares of Babylon. He persisted; others began to open their eyes, just a little bit at a time, until that for which he pleaded and prayed and worked was inaugurated. The story of the organization is related in another place. Brother Bush was selected as the logical first apostle for this work. For nine years he led us, and the cause rapidly advanced. He was wise, gentle, patient, persistent, godly. After the nine years he believed the task should be given into other hands, and he entered another field of service, but was soon called to that of establishing a home for the orphan, and, later, another for the aged. The part which two noble sisters had in this is told elsewhere. The institutions stand as monuments to the memory of the three. Without the two sisters, he could not have done his work; their hopes, without his labors, would have been fruitless.

Brother Bush was near the close of the seventy-fourth year of his life when he left us, after having kept his bed for two days. With his family about him, he said: "Would not it be glorious if God should take me now?" In a little while he peacefully fell asleep. His burial was on the forty-fourth anniversary of his marriage to her who shared with him the toils and the glories of service. The funeral was held in the Oak Cliff Church, where he had his membership. During the service the utmost quiet and reverence prevailed, so well did the people love him. There were no uncontrolled expressions of grief from his family. They knew in whom the husband and father and friend had believed, and rejoiced, in the midst of their quiet tears, that he was with his Saviour and at rest.

-Disciples Of Christ In Texas, Chalmers McPherson, pages 178-181

Exerpt From Texas Disciples By Colby Hall

A. J. Bush was born in Boone County, Missouri, March 13, 1846, among well-developed Disciples. He served in the Confederate Army 1862-65, then became a successful stock farmer until he went to college to become a preacher. He was ordained at Old Red Top church in Boone County in 1869, attended Christian University (now Culver-Stockton) at Canton, Mo., graduating in 1875 with the B.C. degree.

Coming to Texas the next year and being a stock farmer, he chose to start in the range country south of San Antonio. I came to know Brother Bush in the late 1890's when they lived at Taylor, and especially his younger children, Miss Beulah and Andrew Junior (when he was in U. S. A. uniform in the Spanish-American War). And I knew him and traveled with him often, through the years, but I had never learned where he lived and labored in his early Texas years. So I wrote to "Andy" at Waco, where he had been a leader in the Old Central Church for several decades, and asked him. His reply included: "He continued to hold meetings and organize churches in the South Texas area around Pettus, Goliad, Lagarto, Moulton, Sabinal, Hallettsville and Uvalde, and in about 1884 moved to Thorp Spring. (In a letter from A.J. Bush, Jr., Waco, 12-3-51.) I could understand about the move to Thorp Spring, for the oldest son, George, graduated from Add-Ran in 1886 (B. A. '86, M. A. '91), but Largarto was new to me and Indianola, which was mentioned in connection with him and others, did not even appear in the list· of towns. That period was a mystery to me until I encountered a volume written by one who had grown up with that immediate section, and was a parishioner of Brother Bush, Mrs. S. G. Miller (nee Sue East). (Sixty Years in the Nueces Valley by Mrs. S. G. Miller.) She cleared the mist by:

The Reverend A. J. Bush, or Brother Bush as he was known to all of us, came to Goliad in 1876 from Missouri with the expectation of preaching in the church there. When he arrived the vacancy in that church had been filled so he came on to Lagarto . . . . He organized a strong church at Lagarto and his two sisters taught the public school all the time he lived at Lagarto, six years, I think it was .... He was a widower with three children-George, Hilary and Zenna . . . . When he left Lagarto, he preached awhile at Luling and Lockhart and then was elected State evangelist . . . . When I met him anywhere in church he always introduced me as his first convert in Texas. (p. 93) (We shall hear more of the Millers, Chapter XXV.)

Even prior to this period in Live Oak County, we have evidence that "Brother Bush" held a meeting in Brenham, Washington County, in 1876, "'and there organized a local congregation. (Charles F. Schmidt, Hist01'Y of Washington County.) This record is corroborated, also, by Mrs. Nessie Burnett, a charter member of that congregation. Evidently Mr. Bush had stopped there on the way to Goliad and Lagarto. (See Chapter XXV.)

He served as pastor at Gainesville just before becoming the first Corresponding Secretary of the Missionary Society.

At the organizing meeting in Austin, in 1886, concerning the selection of an executive, McPherson says:

A.J. Bush was the first on the list. For several years he had dreamed and written and spoken and hoped for something, which might mean a forward advance in the work of primitive Christianity in his adopted state. He was at the first gathering where this work was inaugurated, and was active in its accomplishment. When the committee began to look for the proper man to inaugurate the work, all eyes turned to him, and no other person was, perhaps, suggested. (p. 47)

"Brother Bush" was a personable gentleman with a dignified beard a la General Lee, a pleasant, cultivated voice and a friendly manner that drew people to him. He was almost entirely free from that pugnacious, raspy attitude that too generally characterized the early day evangelists. His irenic personality, no doubt, won favor for the new "Society," at the same time he held his own with the roughest of men, in all contacts.

During the year 1901, he published a series of more than twenty-seven short articles in the Christian Courier, in which he related many exciting experiences. Some of these were rough on account of frontier conditions, such as the hanging of a lawbreaker, some rough by the bitterness of the opponents of the Society. Most of his time was engaged in holding meetings, largely in churches that were unable to employ an evangelist, or in localities where he established a new church. He helped to arrange meetings for other evangelists and contributed to their support. In 1890, he moved his family to Taylor and used that as headquarters. In later years his son George was pastor there. George also succeeded him at Gainesville, though not immediately.

On January 1, 1895, he resigned as Secretary of the Missionary Society and became pastor of the oldest church, Van Alstyne, and here he gave us the best history of that early congregation. During the years 1895 to 1903, he served pastorates in Van Alstyne, Temple, Abilene, Wichita Falls, Hubbard City and Cleburne.

Chalmers McPherson (in Reminiscences) says that Bro. Bush left the missionary Society because of the "attractiveness of the work of the Orphans Home" and that B. B. Sanders succeeded him. But the Orphans Home work did not appear until eight years later, and Sanders' term began in 1899. (Bro. Mc. was conscious of relying on memory only, for he remarked in this connection, "I may not have the list in order.")

After 1903 the career of A. J. Bush was completely linked with the Juliette Fowler Home and its work. His story will continue in Chapter XVII.

-Texas Disciples, Colby Hall, Pages 160-162

Directions To The Grave Of A.J. Bush

In Dallas, Texas take I-35 E just south of the downtown area to Exit 426b (8th Street E.) and go east about one mile to the Oakcliff Cemetery. When entering the cemetery take your first left. Go to where the road curves to the right. Stop the car and go up the hill to your left. The Bush plot will be only a few yards toward the NE corner. While in the cemetery be sure to visit the grave of Thomas Raines Burnett and Joe S. Warlick.

32°45'03.3"N 96°48'15.8"W
or D.d. 32.750926,-96.804386

Many Restoration Church Members Are Buried In Oakcliff Cemetery

Bush Family Plot Near Front Of Cemetery
In Distance See Chimney - Just Below It And To Right Is The Grave Of Joe Warlick

Father - A.J. Bush 1846-1920
Sarah Benham Bush - 1848 - 1927

A.J. Bush

Special Thanks

Special Thanks - A very special thanks goes to my good friend, Rich Berdan. In January, 2010, my wife, Jenny and I were out in the D-FW area for the Fort Worth Lectures. We stayed with our dear friends Rich and Barb. One morning Rich and I set out to locate graves of Gospel Preachers. Much thanks to Rich for helping me find this and other graves.

History Home

History Index Page