Cherokee County, Texas
CHURCHES WITH HISTORICAL MARKERS
Central Baptist Church of Jacksonville
On September 12, 1906, 22 charter members met at the home of the Rev. E.G. Musgrove to organize the Central Baptist Church of Jacksonville. Two weeks later, a revival led by the noted Baptist preacher George W. Truett resulted in 32 additions to the congregation. Affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, as well as the Southern Baptist Convention, Central Baptist Church was named for its central location in Jacksonville. It received its charter on May 4, 1909. The congregation began meeting at 401 South Main in a small white frame building that was eventually sold and moved in 1913 to make room for new construction. In 1919, a devastating fire destroyed the interior of the new building. The day after the fire members voted to rebuild without outside aid, and they successfully achieved their goal within five years. In 1939, the church added the D.B. Lloyd Educational Building for Sunday school classes. The church has sponsored a variety of outreach programs, including four mission churches. During the Depression era, the Goodfellows Bible Class helped those in need, and since 1943 the congregation has sponsored Boy Scout Troop 403. The congregation built a new sanctuary and formal hall, as well as educational and office space in 1951. In 2003, it relocated to 1909 E. Rusk Street. By the following year, 19 pastors had served the congregation. Its membership included more than 2,500 members, and more than 1,600 participated in Sunday school, one of the church's many ministries. Though no longer centrally located, the church continues to focus on outreach to the community. (2005)
Cold Springs School and Methodist Church
In 1876, land at this site was deeded to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and to the county school superintendent for the use of a church and public school. The Cold Springs Methodist Church, which takes its name from a large spring nearby, has been served by circuit ministers throughout its history. The school, which closed in 1944, employed one teacher until about 1900, after which additional teachers were hired. The sanctuary and schoolhouse at Cold Springs served for many years as a focal point for the surrounding rural area.
Corinth Baptist Church
Corinth Baptist Church Organized in June 1881 through the efforts of Obediah Meador and his family, this congregation had 12 members when it joined the Cherokee Baptist Association in 1882. Obediah Meador's son, the Rev. John Benjamin Meador, served as first pastor. In 1894, charter members W. A. and Sallie Simpson deeded property on which the congregation built its first sanctuary about 1900. Corinth Baptist Church would later affiliate with the Baptist Missionary, American Baptist and North American Baptist Associations. Membership grew steadily throughout the first half of the 20th century. The congregation continues to worship in the building constructed in 1950 to replace the first sanctuary. (2002)
Cove Springs United Methodist Church
Begun in December 1856 as the Sand Hill Methodist Episcopal Church, South, this church has been in continuous operation for over 130 years. A parcel of land was purchased at Sand Hill by church trustees, and the congregation continued meeting at that location for several years. In 1879 the church moved to a ten-acre site known as "Camp Ground" about one mile south of this site. A frame sanctuary was soon erected, and a brush arbor was built for worship services during the hot summer months. The one-room church also served as a community school, where children in all grades received instruction from one teacher. In 1911 the church moved to this location. The land was purchased for $25, and another frame sanctuary was built, which served the flourishing congregation until 1955. Construction of a new brick building began in March 1955, with Mrs. John F. Rountree, a charter member of the "Camp Ground", participating in the groundbreaking ceremony. While many rural churches in Texas did not survive hard economic times over the years, this congregation has remained active and continues to be an integral part of the community.
Earle's Chapel Methodist Church
Settlement of the Earle's Chapel community began several years before the organization of Cherokee County. W. J. Ragsdale (1811-1884), a veteran of the Texas War for Independence, and his wife Patsy McAdams (1816-1898) had settled on Prairie Branch (Mill Creek) in 1838. Elijah Earle (1804-1880), his wife Nancy Blanchett (1811-1852) and their children migrated here from Alabama in early 1846. They cleared a farm and Elijah built a mill on Prairie Branch. As the community grew, Elijah Earle and his second wife, Mary Elizabeth Jarratt Tatum (1824-1904), saw the need for a school and church. They donated four acres of land, and in 1859 a log building was erected at this site. It burned in 1875 and was immediately rebuilt. That same year, the Earle's Chapel Society, with twenty-five charter members, was officially organized by the Rev. E. P. Rogers of the East Texas Conference of the Methodist Church. A new church building was constructed in 1889 by church members T. J. Skeleton and Robert Tatum. Although damaged in a 1987 tornado, the building was restored, and after more than a century of service continues to serve the community, including descendants of pioneer families. (1992)
Falvey Memorial United Methodist Church, Wells
In the late 1860s or early 1870s, Republic of Texas Army veteran James H. Bowman offered one hundred acres of land to the Rev. W. D. Lewis, Sr., of nearby Barsola, on the condition that he move to the Mt. Hope community for the purpose of establishing a Methodist church. The Rev. Mr. Lewis accepted the offer, and the Mt. Hope Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was organized by 1875. The Wells community was established in 1885 as the Kansas and Gulf Short Line Railroad was built through the area to the south of Mt. Hope. It was named for Major. E. H. Wells, a railroad engineer. Dr. J. C. Falvey and his wife, Matilda Falvey, settled in Wells that year. They joined the Mt. Hope Methodist congregation after it relocated to Wells in 1888. The congregation soon built a parsonage behind the new church. The church was a focal point for area Methodist pioneers. This congregation prospered for the remainder of the 19th century and well into the 20th. From 1948 to 1950 a new church building was constructed on this site in honor of Dr. J. C. and Mrs. Matilda Falvey by their son. The Falvey Memorial Methodist Church was dedicated in 1951. Active in the Mt. Hope and Wells communities from its earliest days, Falvey Memorial United Methodist Church continues to serve the area with programs of worship and service. These include ecumenical gatherings, such as a Bible reading marathon and Easter sunrise services at Mt. Hope Cemetery tabernacle, as well as community outreach. Falvey Memorial United Methodist Church continues in the traditions of its founders. (2000)
First Baptist Church of Jacksonville
This congregation traces it history to the origins of the town of Jacksonville. When the International and Great Northern Railroad promoted the new town of Jacksonville along its rail line in 1872, city lots were set aside for local churches. Deacons Enoch B. Simpson and Joel H. Wallace purchased two lots for a Baptist church in 1873. Originally known as the Jacksonville Baptist Church of Christ, the congregation was organized officially by twelve charter members on September 28, 1884, and by 1887 the membership had grown to sixty. Increased membership necessitated the construction of a larger, two-story brick sanctuary in 1914. It was joined by additional facilities over the years and was replaced by yet a larger structure in 1950. Continued growth led to the need for expanded facilities, and the congregation moved to this site in 1977. Throughout its history, the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville has been involved in missionary and community activities. It consistently has supported Jacksonville College, as well as other denominational endeavors. (1990)
First Baptist Church of Mixon
The first church in this area, then known as Pine Springs, was established as an ecumenical church in 1853. The Rev. E. M. Carter and Elias Stephens, a deacon, established the Union Baptist Church in 1866 with 15 members, all formerly of the earlier congregation. The church was renamed Pine Springs Baptist Church in 1881. Members erected a white frame building on this site in 1887. The community was renamed Mixon when a post office was established in 1889. The Rev. W. R. White, later president of Baylor University, served the church from 1911 to 1913. The settlement grew over the next several years. In 1946 the church was renamed First Baptist Church of Mixon. A new building was erected in 1952. Among the last vestiges of Mixon, the church continues in the traditions of its founders. (2000)
First Baptist Church of Rusk
The First Baptist Church of Rusk traces its history to 1853, when a small group of worshippers led by the Rev. John C. Woolam met in the home of Mrs. Nan C. Trimble to organize a congregation. Early worship services were held in a Union Church shared with the local Presbyterian congregation. Located on Barron Street on land donated by Mrs. Joseph L. Hogg, the building housed the Baptist fellowship for almost forty years. In 1890 property was purchased on Fourth Street and two years later, under the leadership of the Rev. J. H. Thorn, a new sanctuary was erected. Also during Thorn's pastorate, this congregation was merged with that of the New Birmingham Baptist Church. The 1892 one-room church structure was moved to this site in 1910. A building fund begun in 1918 enabled the church members to replace the small sanctuary with a three-storey building in the early 1920s. Later building programs enlarged church facilities over the years. Throughout its history, the First Baptist Church has maintained an involvement in local and foreign missionary activities. It continues to be a vital part of the City of Rusk.
First Presbyterian Church of Rusk
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Rusk was organized on May 2, 1847 by the Rev. J. B. Harris, with a charter membership of four. A Sunday School was begun in 1850, and existed as a Union school until the 1880s. Ecumenical relationships were strong with other churches in town, and the Presbyterian church building was used by various denominations. The "Old School" congregation of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. was organized in March 1831 by the Rev. J. M. Becton and the Rev. J. C. Sharp, with eight charter members. A sanctuary was built on Henderson Street in 1854, and a parsonage was added in 1888-1889, largely through the efforts of the Ladies' Aid Society. The two congregations united to form the First Presbyterian Church on April 6, 1906. This property was acquired, and both church buildings were moved to the new site. The "Old School" church was converted to a parsonage. The present sanctuary was built in 1913-14, and was the first brick church in Rusk. A new parsonage was added in 1925. Throughout its history, which began one year after the city's founding, the Presbyterian church has sought to serve its community with outreach programs.
First United Methodist Church of Jacksonville
This congregation traces its history to 1845, when it was organized in the small rural settlement of Gum Creek. The Rev. Henderson D. Palmer, a circuit riding Methodist minister, served as the first pastor of the congregation. Earlier, worship services were held in the homes of various Methodists. In 1847 the town of Jacksonville was created by Jackson Smith. As homes, businesses and the post office were transferred to the new town, Gum Creek gradually declined in favor of Jacksonville. The Methodist congregation moved to the new town in 1853 and built a structure used as a union church on Sundays and for a school during the week. A two-story structure replaced the 1853 building in 1856. In 1872 present Jacksonville was laid out along the rail line. The Methodist Church moved to the new Jacksonville town site in 1874 and built a one-room sanctuary. In 1882 the growing congregation relocated to this site. It was designated a full charge by the denomination in 1888, and the Rev. W.W. Hopper became the first full-time pastor. The First United Methodist Church continues to be an integral part of the Jacksonville community. (1989)
First United Methodist Church of Rusk
Organized in 1849, this congregation was first served by the Rev. Henderson D. Palmer (1812-1869). A circuit riding minister, Palmer received his license to preach in 1838 in Nacogdoches County. The first deed for the Methodist church property in Rusk was recorded on May 22, 1850. The first church building was erected the following year. A second sanctuary was built in 1896 during the pastorate of the Rev. A. A. Godbey. Those serving on the building committee were E. L. Gregg, J. W. Summers, and J. F. Mallard. The present building was completed in 1920 while the congregation was under the leadership of the Rev. J. W. Goodwin. It was dedicated in 1935, when the building debt was retired. The dedication day was referred to as a great day in the life of the church. All three Methodist sanctuaries have stood on this site. There have also been three parsonages. The first, built in 1879, was replaced by a second home in 1947. Recent additions to the church property were an educational building in 1961 and parsonage in 1981. For over a century, the First United Methodist Church of Rusk has been a vital part of the community. Many descendants of early members continue to be active in the life of the church.
Friendship Baptist Church and Corine Cemetery
The church and cemetery nearby have served the rural Corine area for more than a century. Founded in 1872, the church held early worship services in a log building, which also housed the community school. Early baptisms were held in nearby Neches River or in Carey Lake. The church met in three locations through the years. The cemetery, which bears the name of the community, marks its origin with the burial of John Mixon in 1866. Veterans of several wars are buried here. The church and the cemetery continue to serve this part of Cherokee County. (1996)
Henry's Chapel Community
Henry's Chapel is located on FM 13, 6 miles southeast of Troup. In 1848, Presbyterian minister William Porter Henry (1820-1875) moved from Alabama to northeastern Cherokee County, where he preached throughout his life. In 1854, Tennessean investors bought land near his home and platted the town of Knoxville, which thrived until 1872 when the International and Great Northern Railway bypassed it for Troup. Many Knoxville residents relocated to Troup, but some farmers in Knoxville's outlying areas chose to stay in the vicinity. Though business and commercial needs began making travel to Troup necessary, remaining residents were able to maintain a community life with the assistance of the Rev. Henry, who in 1874 donated five acres of land for the establishment of a school, church and cemetery to serve their needs. The loosely-knit community became known as Henry's Chapel in honor of its benefactor. A school, known as the Sharp Top School because of its unusually steeply pitched roof, functioned until the 1930s, and a Presbyterian church was also active here for many years. Statewide trends such as school consolidations and the development of a state highway system impeded the community's growth. The historic cemetery serves as the only physical reminder of the original community. (1991)
Lynches Chapel Methodist Church
Although Methodist worship services may have been held in this area before 1860, the first written records of this congregation date from that year, with the Rev. J. A. Srugs as the earliest known pastor. The church has been informally called "Blackjack" throughout its history, probably for the grove of blackjack trees that once stood on this property. The name Lynch's (later Lynches) Chapel was adopted in honor of the Rev. Samuel Lynch, who was serving as pastor at the time of his death. Early leaders in the church were Alexander Black and his son, John, who also served as the first teacher for Hendrick School. School classes for many years were held in the Lynches Chapel sanctuary, built near this site in the 1870s. Preaching services were held once a month, with annual summer revival meetings. The cemetery associated with Lynches Chapel Methodist Church began in 1885. Pioneer family names reflected on the tombstones include Landrum, Wallace, Schochler and Moffett. One unusual grave is that of an Indian girl, who died while her family was in the area. Over the years, Lynches Chapel United Methodist Church and cemetery have been important elements in this rural farming community. (1985)
Mt. Zion United Methodist Church
Although few written records of this church exist before 1871, it is thought that the congregation was organized just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1871 the fellowship built a sanctuary at this site during the pastorate of the Rev. Jehu John Allen. The Mount Zion Church has produced several Methodist ministers from its membership. Part of the land deeded to the church by William Collier in 1871, by Wiley P. Cole in 1872, and by H. N. Lusk in 1882 has served the area as a public cemetery. The earliest marked grave, that of Hester Cole, is dated 1874. (1985)
New Summerfield United Methodist Church
Founded about 1878 in the Union Chapel community (approximately 1/4 mi. SE of this site), this congregation has been in continuous existence since that time. Built on land donated by Dr. and Mrs. G. F. Fullerton, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was used as a Union church, providing a place of worship for all denominations in the community. Public school classes were held in the building during the week. A new community built up about the turn of the century at this location. Named Summerfield after the pioneer Summers family, it gradually replaced the Union Chapel community. The Methodist church relocated to the new town and became known as Summerfield Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The congregation moved to a new building in 1919. It continued to occupy that facility until 1931, when a new brick structure was completed. When the town was renamed New Summerfield in 1838, the church's name changed once again. After the merger of the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren denominations in 1968, it became known as New Summerfield United Methodist Church. A part of Cherokee County history for over a century, the church continues to serve its community.
Old Palestine Baptist Church
Organized 1844 by early preacher, Rev. Isaac Reed. First called Mount Olive, then Palestine. Worshipped in homes until 1854. Then small church (also used as school) was built on land donated by Capt. and Mrs. Henry Berryman. Third church now on site. (1966)
Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church
This congregation was organized in 1854 and represents one of Cherokee County's oldest Baptist churches. The Rev. G. W. Slover served as first pastor. The first church building, erected here on land donated by Green B. Hill, was replaced with a frame sanctuary after the Civil War. Sunday School and other church facilities have been added over the years. Several early church members and their descendants are buried in the nearby Pleasant Grove Cemetery. The church, whose past membership has included several area civic leaders, continues to provide spiritual guidance for the area. (1994)
Primitive Baptist Church of Wells
Alabama native Francis Marion Sessions is credited with the organization of the Primitive Baptist Church of Wells. Prior to his 1890 arrival in the town, Primitive Baptists traveled to Angelina County to worship in the Old Sand Hill Primitive Baptist Church. Although a formal organization date for the Wells church is unrecorded, Sessions and others began meeting in their homes and in the public schoolhouse and in 1918 purchased this school building and property for use as a permanent place of worship. Early leaders in the church included members of the Childers, Wilson and McAdams families. Often in attendance at the monthly services were residents of Angelina, Nacogdoches and Trinity counties. Hymns were sung in special arrangements without the accompaniment of musical instruments, a tradition in rural America known as sacred harp singing. The Old School Primitive Baptist Church, as it came to be known, often served as a gathering place for area harp singers. Sessions' death in 1930 was followed by that of other older members of the church, and the congregation eventually ceased to meet. Although the Primitive Baptist Church no longer exists in Wells, the church building still stands as a reminder of its history. (1984)
Rocky Springs Missionary Baptist Church
Organized April 8, 1848, by a group of settlers from this area, in the home of Thomas J. Lindsey, under Elder Walter Ross. The known charter members included Minerva Crenshaw, Frances Halbert, John Halbert, Sally Margaret Halbert, Stephen Halbert, John Harris (an ordained deacon), Lucy Johnston, Thomas Johnston, Bathsheba Lindsey, Elizabeth Lindsey, J. J. Lindsey, Thomas J. Lindsey, Isaac Sheppard, Seary Sheppard, and Wylie Thomason. True pioneers, these people had immigrated to the area just three years earlier, when Texas was admitted to the Union. The Rev. George Washington Slover, said to have built the Atlanta Hotel depicted in the Civil War novel "Gone with the Wind", was the first pastor. Soon after the organizational meeting, a log cabin was erected on the present site to serve as a place of worship. The bubbling springs here and at the Lindsey home probably inspired the church name. The cemetery originated in the early days of the church; the oldest legible headstone is dated 1849. The original log church building was replaced in a few years by the present structure and in 1950, Sunday School rooms were added to it. (1969)
Sardis Baptist Church
Members of the Baptist Church of Christ at Salem and other area churches in the Edgefield District of South Carolina traveled together to Texas in 1846-48 and settled in what became the Sardis community of Cherokee County. Early settlers included members of the Berry, Martin, Coleman, Nickolson and Jennings families. In 1854, they officially organized the Sardis Baptist Church with J. W. Carter as the first ordained minister and petitioned for membership in the Judson Baptist Association. Throughout its history, the church has been the focus of this small rural community. Members were added through baptism, often after revival meetings. Early baptisms took place in the Neches River or in Box's Creek. Not much is known about the congregation's first church building, but the second structure was a two-story building that was also used as a community school. The Woodmen of the World fraternal organization occupied the upper floor. A third building was used solely for church activities. After the Sardis school consolidated with the Rusk schools in 1948, the school district traded property and buildings with the church, and the congregation began worshipping in the former Sardis schoolhouse. When the population of this rural area declined, so, too, did church membership. A reflection of the community's heritage, Sardis Baptist Church is an important reminder of Texas' rural past. (2002)
Shiloh Methodist Church
The burial of a child, James W. Rozelle, was allowed on this wooded rise in 1850 by land owners Edwin and Martha Harry. In 1854 the Harrys allotted one acre at this site for a Methodist church, called Shiloh after the popular biblical place name. The original trustees were David Byrd, Edwin Harry, Daniel Henderson, Jesse Hill, and Thomas Singletary, all buried here. The congregation first met in a log building until a frame structure was erected in 1870. In 1912 church members built the present sanctuary on the first site. The church was active until 1954. (1986)
Smith United Methodist Church, Frank A.
Circuit riding preachers served the Methodists of this community as early as 1845. The first written records of this church date from 1852, when the Rev. Andrew Cummings (1817-1882) organized the fellowship as a station of the newly established Rusk circuit. Originally a Methodist society, it became in 1866 the Methodist Episcopal Church South of Alto. Early services were held in the schoolhouse. In 1887 A. C. Harrison (1841-1924) and his wife Virginia (1843-1912) donated land at the site of the present-day parsonage for the congregation's first church building. Dr. C. W. Fisher, Mrs. Harrison's brother, designed the one-room spired structure and built a scale model of it. The building was enlarged under the leadership of the Rev. J. W. Johnson, who was named pastor in 1909, when Alto became a full-time station with weekly services. A new sanctuary was built on the present site in 1921. It was dedicated in 1935 at a ceremony led by Bishop A. Frank Smith (1889-1962), who began his ministry as interim pastor of this church. In 1960 the present building was erected and the congregation renamed to honor Bishop Smith. (1977)