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Making History Today: The Travis Family Connection

Zora Neale Hurston once said, “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” That’s part of what we are about in this column. Poking and prying around and sharing what we find. The purpose is to learn from and celebrate a heritage that has been faithful in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. At the end of this column there will be a list of an ever-growing number of Presbyterian families that have multi-generational ministers who have served in the Southwest (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas). Many thanks to all who have contributed.

Karl Travis served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth from January 2007 through December 2018. Karl received his theological degree from New College at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Before coming to Fort Worth, he served churches in Roswell, New Mexico and Grosse Ile, Michigan. He comes from a long line of Presbyterian clergy and is brother to two clergy – Drew Travis who recently retired from First Presbyterian Church in Granbury, Texas. Drew also served churches in Brownfield, Texas, Phoenix, Arizona, Clovis, New Mexico, Plainview, Texas, and Conway, Arkansas before moving to Granbury. Doug Travis (the oldest of the brothers) is part of the Episcopal Church.

Their father, Murray William Travis, was born in Chicago, Illinois and graduated from Trinity University and McCormick Theological Seminary. After serving churches in the UPUSA, he served a church in Amarillo, Texas, Tulia, Texas, Sinton, Texas, and Abilene, Texas. Their grandfather (Murray’s father) was Frank Douglas Travis, also a graduate of Trinity University and McCormick Seminary, who served churches in the UPUSA and retired in 1967 and in 1972 became a member of Palo Duro Union Presbytery where Murray was a member. Frank served a church in Childress, Texas, then as a Navy chaplain, and later served Presbyterian churches in Abilene and Plainview, Texas (where his grandson, Drew, would also later serve).

Frank’s brother, Hubert Culp Travis, also a graduate of Trinity University and McCormick Seminary, served Presbyterian congregations in Sterling City, Texas, and Yorktown, Texas. Retiring in 1973 in Del Salvador Presbytery, Hubert served First Presbyterian Church in Forreston, Texas as stated supply.

Frank’s father, Murray Alberton Travis, served congregations in College Port, Texas, Alamo, Texas, Nocona and St. Jo, Texas, Spearman, Texas, and Fairview Presbyterian Church in Kosse, Texas.

With Drew’s retirement in 2023 Karl indicates that the Travis family has served Presbyterian churches in Texas for 123 consecutive years!

But that’s not all. Karl’s parents, Murray Travis and Jane Ella Brooks Travis, were married in Navasota, Texas in September 1952. Jane’s great, great grandparents helped start the second Presbyterian church in Texas – the Prospect Presbyterian Church in Washington County, organized in February 1939. The first Presbytery (Brazos) of Texas was held in this church inn 1840. The church’s organizing pastor was Hugh Wilson.

“For all the saints who from their labors rest,

Who Thee, by faith before the world confessed,

Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.

Alleluia! Alleluia!” (William Walsham How, 1864)

The Presbyterian Historical Society of the Southwest exists to “stimulate and encourage interest in the collection, preservation, and presentation of the Presbyterian and Reformed heritage” in the Southwest. If you are not a participating member of the Society and would like to become one, the annual dues are $20 per individual and $25 per couple. Annual institutional and church membership dues are $100. Checks may be made out to PHSSW and sent to:

5525 Traviston Ct., Austin, TX 78738.

A list of multi-generational minister families in the region covered by the Society follows:

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