first time I stopped in Miles there was an excellent homemade pie store in what
was once a gasoline filling station. For those new to West Texas, Miles, Texas,
is a pleasant little town halfway between Ballinger
and San Angelo
on Hwy 67.
My purpose this visit was not for pie. I wanted to search out
some local history. I wanted to see the area of town where Maudie Ethel Albritton
The historical marker in front of the First United Methodist
Church on Fourth and Broadway had just the facts I needed. The original 1901 wood
frame Methodist Church was where Maudie attended Sunday school and church as a
was born in Navarro County in East Texas. Due to her mother’s poor health the
family doctor recommended they move to a drier climate. They moved to Miles. Why
Miles? The historical marker helped here too. The founder of the Miles Methodist
Church was a Methodist circuit rider from Navarro County. It is quite possible
that Maudie’s parents Tennessee and William Albritton knew him before he came
west. Miles had a dry climate and good preaching.
Miles was home to Maudie
until her 22nd birthday. The love of her life, Wilson Fielder, a cowboy from Comanche
County, Texas, left the Concho River for China’s Yellow River. The fledging Republic
of China was just emerging from the ruins of the Qing Dynasty.
mail service from Central China to West Texas and back was slower than the Pony
Express. With the patience of Job, Maudie accepted Wilson’s “far flung” proposal.
So, in the summer of 1914, Maudie waved goodbye to friends and family at the Miles
Santa Fe Railroad Depot and began the journey of her life.
A few months
later Maudie married her teenage sweetheart, Wilson Fielder, in Shanghai, China.
A honeymoon on the Yangzi River was but a beginning. Maudie and Wilson spent the
next forty years sharing their faith in Central China, the birthplace of the Chinese
people. They lived through some of the most hectic, action-packed years of China’s
story of Maudie and Wilson Fielder has been in the works for twenty years. This
columnist knew them well. The two youngest children of Maudie and Wilson made
the book possible: Florence Ann McKinney and the late L. Gerald Fielder.
title of the new publication of The Tao Foundation is “Strangers in a Strange
Land.” Available in bookstores from October 10 –- Double Ten –- which is the one
hundred year anniversary of the revolution that birthed the Republic of China.
(Based on the island of Taiwan since 1948.) Pre-publication price $18. including
postage. Write the author: Britt Towery E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maudie’s train left Miles the town had a population of 1,500 and was served by
two railroads. There were five churches, a beautiful brick school, two lumber
yards and one of the strongest banks in Texas. (According to the Miles Messenger
and Enterprize newspaper account.)
The Star Barber Shop advertised
sharp razors, clean towels, hot and cold baths for a reasonable price. Tennis
shoes (white) were selling for seventy-five cents a pair. The Central Hotel and
Café offered a Sunday Chicken Dinner for thirty-five cents.
a Baptist before going to join her Comanche County cowboy Baptist missionary Wilson
Fielder. She was baptized in our very own Concho River the Summer of 1914 by Pastor
Isaac Newton. The book is filled with such nuggets and items of inspiration; dozens
of photos; a China map; an update on China Christianity after the Fielder’s retirement
Along the Way with
October 5, 2011 Column
Britt Towery, a native of Brownwood, spent 35 years
in Asia. His e-mail: email@example.com
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