This Sunday in Baptist History
Hiram Read, was born in Jewett City, Connecticut in 1819. His parents had wealth, some of which they invested in their son’s education. While a student at Hamilton College the Lord redeemed him, and Hiram was baptized into the Baptist church in Oswego, New York. He continued his education at Madison University, making him qualified to pastor any of the larger churches in New England, but he and his wife moved west. While in Wisconsin, Brother Read served as chaplain to the State Senate. But he still wanted to move further west, setting his sights on California.
Reaching Santa Fe, New Mexico, on July 12, 1849, the couple had just about worn themselves out in traveling. Hiram was so reduced in strength he could hardly walk and his hands were worn and swollen to the point he could barely hold the reins of his team. When the governor heard of him, he went out of his way to meet with him. He begged the preacher to settle in New Mexico, explaining that the city had over 6,000 inhabitants, and there were 100,000 in the territory – only a tenth of which were Americans. There was not a single non-Catholic minister among them. Read agreed to stay in Santa Fe, becoming the chaplain at Fort Marcy, a post which he held for three years.
Brother Read applied himself to learning the Spanish language so that he could evangelize his neighbors. He preached in both languages. He visited Indian pueblos, distributing Bibles. He was captured by Indians and threatened with death by fire. Several times, he rode from Santa Fe to El Paso, 950 mile round trip. He built the first Baptist church building in New Mexico and started a second church in Albuquerque. That church had a building, the foundation stone of which was laid on this day (May 21st) 1853.
In 1855, the Reads moved to Arizona where Hiram served in several important offices. There he joined the Northern army and spent time in a Rebel prison camp.
Late in life Pastor Hiram Read moved to El Paso, and on February 6, 1895 he passed into the presence of the Lord, having faithfully served his Saviour in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.