HOME                                                                                                        STORY INDEX
hubert.jpg (8977 bytes)      Hubert Delancy Knickerbocker was my maternal grandfather. He had a great sense of theater as a minister of the gospel and he also told wonderful stories to his grandchildren, and he said he was one of the founders of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

     He was born June 25, 1872, in Baton Rouge, LA, one of five sons of Reuben W. and Emma Larguier Knickerbocker. He was a resourceful child. Here is a story that he told his grandchildren:

     One day he and his friends decided they wanted some sugarcane. This was the forerunner of the candy that today's children can buy in a grocery store. In 1880 or so, children in Louisiana knew if they wanted something sweet, they had to find some sugarcane. This "cane" grew wild in some parts.

     Hubert and his friends knew where there was some, but it was miles down an abandoned railroad track. They walked all day in the hot sun to find the sugarcane. Hubert's friends got their share and ate most of it right there. Hubert cut about 12 stalks and decided he would take his home to share with the family. His friends taunted him to eat it right there, but Hubert shook his head, "No." So they started walking home. His friends got tired of lugging the sugarcane and started cutting up pieces to eat as they walked, but not Hubert. The sugarcane was heavy but he was steadfast in his goal. He wanted to give some to his mother. He knew she would love to have some. The boys had to walk about 12 miles to get home, arriving close to suppertime. None of his friends had any sugarcane when they got home, but Hubert had all 12 stalks that he had cut. In sharing them with his mother and siblings, Hubert was justly proud of himself. He set a goal and stuck to it.

     That was to be his pattern for the rest of his life, setting goals and Hubert came to Christ when he was 19 years old after he and his brothers wandered the streets of New Orleans, looking for other sorts of entertainment. One night, a street preacher beckoned him into his stall to hear the service. Hubert was enthralled with what he heard. He knew he was a sinner as he loved to woo the ladies. He accepted Christ that night and went home and told his mother. She was thrilled because now she had two sons with the Lord. Another of her sons, Percy, had been preaching the gospel since he was a youth of 14. Hubert yearned to entice his brother Herman to accept the Word, but Herman resisted. He went with his brothers Harry and Clarence into the "dens of inequity" in New Orleans. Finally, Hubert dragged Herman into hearing the street preacher. Herman got the Word.

     From that time forward, Mrs. Knickerbocker had three sons preaching the Gospel. She always was sad to note that two of her five sons went their separate ways, however. Harry ran a hotel in New Orleans and Clarence was a businessman in California. Herman, Hubert and Percy Knickerbocker served Methodist pastorates from Louisiana to California over a span of 50 years. Hubert was best known but all were powerful orators. Herman was a Shakespearean actor in his youth and he prospected for gold in Nevada. Percy preached until 1930 when he went into the oil business with his father-in-law.

     Hubert married Julia Opdenweyer in 1894.They had six children, one of whom was Hubert Renfro (H.R.), who won the Pulitzer Prize for foreign reporting in 1931. One of their daughters was Beryl, who became my mother the same year, after her marriage to my father, David Macpherson.