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Zion United Methodist Church

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Members & Former Members of Zion United Methodist Church, Iola, Texas
Submitted by Charles E. Darby

Zion United Methodist Church Members





Charles E. Darby



            The Methodist Episcopal Church South was established in 1852.  The current name is Zion United Methodist Church.  When the name was changed is not known. The church has had a long and distinguished record. It never enjoyed a large congregation, but those who have been and are presently members are dedicated and loyal to the church.


            Some years ago, one of the pastors decided that the old records were just in the way and of no value to the church or anyone else.  This pastor burned the church records. Hence, writing a comprehensive record of the church is impossible.  There is still enough information available to create some semblance of a history of the church.


            Tracing the land records of the church is interesting and informative.


Document 1: Creation of the Church in 1852


            Document 1 (author’s label) is dated September 7, 1852.  Levin E. Jones deeded land to John Neely et al., Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. This transaction is recorded in the county Deeds Records, Volume B2, and p. 115, County Clerk of Grimes County. The document was filed on March 26, 1855, and recorded on March 28, 1855.  J. G. Chatham was the recording clerk.


            The transaction was for three acres of land from the Timothy Jarvis League with the specified purpose of a church at a cost of $10 (and probably “other considerations”). The land was conveyed to these trustees:

                        John Neely

                        Joseph McIver

                        David K. Jones

                        Daniel b. McMahan

                        Jeremiah Lee

            Witnessing the transaction were:

                        F. W. Harms

                        D. K. Jones

                        Henry Neely

            Trinston Harris, County Clerk of Grimes County, and Geraldine Foster, Deputy certified the transaction, on December 9, 1966.


            The first church was built of logs on the site of the present Zion Cemetery.  The building, according to Eva Barnes, was located about the middle of the cemetery, as the cemetery is in 1999.  There is no list of the membership at that time.

            The cemetery came into existence when members of the church began to die.  Since the church members had no cemetery, they began to bury their dead in the trees around the church. 


            According to Eva Barnes, there was Methodist operating in the community of Iola before the church was established. Eva says that the pastor of this small flock was a Rev. Robertson.  Thus, he would be considered the first pastor of the church. There is no record of where these individuals met for worship or when they started holding regular meetings.


            After the church was built, Eva Barnes named Rev. Deason as the first pastor.  Thus, it could be said that he was the first pastor of the church.  Rev. Deason was not a full-time preacher. He might have been a circuit rider.  Eva Barnes claims the early preachers of the church were indeed circuit riders and stayed with one of the members when they were in Iola for worship services.  There is no record of how long circuit riders served the church.


            Eva says that Rev. A. W. Smith (buried in Zion Cemetery) was pastor of the church. He led the membership to build a new church of pine timber that had to be freighted in by wagons.  Eva stated that the new church had louvered blinds that were painted green. Both the inside and outside of the church were painted white. The church had columns down the middle of it and a curved chancel and homemade pews. The church was built on a hill east of the cemetery. The exact location is not known.


            A store was established next to the church.  No information could be found as to when this store was opened for business. The store was established before the town of Iola (established in 1873).


            The church built a parsonage in 1883 and another in 1895, according Eva Barnes. The parsonage erected in 1895 was built in Iola---now referred to as Old Town.


Documents 2 and 3: Establishment of Lake Grove Church, School, and Cemetery


            Land to establish a Methodist church south of Iola was purchased on May 6, 1874.  H. H. Boone and Ben Goodrich deeded four acres of land from the Nancy Anderson League to the following trustees:

                        T. J. Darby

                        R. R. Burns

                        John Wallace

                        James A. Duncan

                        Thomas Bennett

                        A. M. Darby (father of T. J.; came into Texas in 1837)

            The transaction is recorded in the Deed Records, Volume L p. 48, of Grimes County. J. Lawrence Dickson, Clerk, filed the deed May 8, 1874 and recorded December 19, 1874. Trinston Harris, Grimes County Clerk, and Geraldine Foster, Deputy certify it, on July 13, 1963.


            It is important to note that the land transaction was completed under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church South (Iola) for the establishment of the Lake Grove Church, Lake Grove School, and Lake Grove Cemetery. The Lake Grove land remained the property of the Zion United Methodist Church (a new name for Methodist Episcopal Church South) until May 4, 1981, when it was released or deeded to the Lake Grove Cemetery Association. 


            Edward and Oleta Woods deserve credit for spearheading the transfer of the land belonging to the Iola church to the Lake Grove Cemetery Association.  Jewel Stover was responsible for getting the paper work processed for the land transfer. The land transfer had to be approved by the Zion United Methodist Church and the district superintendent of the Methodist organization. The following trustees signed the documents transferring the land to the Lake Grove Cemetery Association on May 4, 1981:

                        Charles A. Wendt

                        Ashley Blagrave

                        Mrs. J. P. Lockwood

                        Richard E. Grissett

            Dorothy Wren Darby did the notary work.  District Superintendent W. Morris House, Bryan District, also signed the papers.  These transactions are recorded in Land Records, Volume 419, pages 941, 942, 943, and 944, Grimes County Clerk’s Office.


            In Document 3, another acre of land was added to the Lake Grove Church, School, and Cemetery complex.  R. L. Jones and Gary Thomas deeded the acre of land to the Lake Grove Cemetery Association.  The land was from the Nancy Anderson League. This action is recorded in Deed Records, Volume 102, and p. 355, Grimes County Clerk’s Office. Trinston Harris and Geraldine Foster certified the action on June 13, 1963.


Purchase of Lots in Iola


            After the two railroads came through the area in 1906 and 1907, the town of Iola was moved from Old Town to its present location.  The move was made so the town would be near the railroads.


            Upon movement of the town of Iola, the Methodist Episcopal Church South sold the church east of the Zion Cemetery.  The membership of the church met on the ground floor of Masonic Lodge #313 until a new church could be built on the present site. According to Eva, the new church was completed in 1909.  The pastor was Rev. B. C. Anderson.


            Lots for the new church were purchased on February 25, 1909. Iola had been surveyed and platted.  The church purchased Lots 1 and 2 in Block 44 of Iola for $40 from The Valley Route Townsite and Loan Company, W. E. Richards, President.  The papers were filed February 25, 1909, and were signed by these trustees:

                        J. H. Sollock

                        W. R. Darby (This is William Ringgold Darby, son of A. M. Darby.)

                        G. C. Reding

            The papers were recorded in Deed Records, Volume 66, and p. 411.  R. C. Wood, Clerk, and A. G. Lyles, Deputy signed the papers.


            According to Eva, the church was dedicated in 1913 by Dr. G. C. Rankin, editor of the Texas Christian Advocate, leader of the prohibition movement, and one of the most widely known Methodist preachers.


            Eva goes on to state that the Iola church hosted the Huntsville District Conference in 1921, with a lot of help from the Baptist. Rev. John Henry Sollock apparently demonstrated some of the earlier loud preaching techniques, while Rev. T. J. Darby cupped his ear and expressed an “Amen!” at appropriate times.


            Rev. B. C. Anderson preached the first sermon in the present building, according to Eva.  He returned to preach at the one hundred year celebration.


Purchase of Additional Lots: 7, 8, 9, and 10


            On April 19, 1911, B. C. Anderson and his wife, Cora L. Anderson, conveyed Lots 7, 8, 9, and 10 of Block 44 to the following trustees:

                        John Sollock

                        D. B. McMillan

                        J. J. Barnes

            The transaction was recorded in Deed Records, Volume 61, pp. 424 and 425, Grimes County Clerk’s Office.  The document was filed on May 16, 1911, and recorded on May 16, 1911, by R. C. Wood, County Clerk, and Grimes County.  Trinston Harris, County Clerk, and Geraldine Foster, Deputy certified the transaction, on April 18, 1966. The land was purchased as a residence for the preachers of the Methodist Episcopal Church South.  This purchase gave the church ownership of Lots 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, and 10.


Purchase of Lots 3, 4, 5, and 6


            A map of Iola is supposed to be recorded in Volume C2 (?) (12?) located in the County Clerk’s Office of Grimes County. This has not been verified.


            A warranty deed was issued to S. L. Reese for Lots 3, 4, 5, and 6 at a cost of $7.50, plus three payments of $7.50 to be made on April 14, 1911; April 14, 1912; April 14, 1913.  The deed was issued by The Valley Route Townsite and Loan Company and signed by W. E. Richards, President.  J. W. Yeagley, Notary Public, Harris County, and May 6, 1910 notarized the document.  The deed was filed April 7, 1911, recorded April 8, 1911, in Deed Records, Volume 71, pp. 332 and 333.  R. C. Wood, County Clerk, and A. G. Lyle, Deputy County Clerk signed this recording.


            The release was delivered to S. L. Reese on the three lots after delivering payment on the three notes due at eight percent interest.  W. E. Richards signed the papers after delivering the payments.  The signature was notorized by Charles C. McRae of Harris County on April 5, 1912. The document was filed with A. G. Lyles of Grimes County Clerk’s Office on March 14, 1913.  It was recorded on March 14, 1913, in Release Records, Volume 6, pp. 401 and 402.


            If the records have been interpreted correctly, S. L. Reese conveyed the four lots to D. B. McMillan et al. on October 29, 1913.  The deed was filed on November 9, 1914, and recorded on November 11, 1914, Volume 78, pp. 445 and 446.


            After this transaction, the church owned Lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.


Zion United Methodist Church


            Early in the 1900s, the church changed its name from the Methodist Episcopal Church South to Zion United Methodist Church. The exact date of this action is not known.


Lots 9 and 10 Sold


            Lots 9 and 10, Block 44, of the plat in Volume 61, pp. 424 and 425 were sold to E. J. Hopkins and Mabel A. Hopkins, Grantees, for $10 and other considerations. There is no record of what the considerations were. It is known that the church had fewer than 10 active members during this period and none of the members were considered wealthy. The church was in dire need of funds. The trustees for this transaction were:

                        J. J. Darby

                        J. J. Darby, Jr.

                        Jewel Stover


            The church owned Lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 after this transaction.


James T. and Ruby Stuckey’s Gift of Lots 11 and 12


            James T. Stuckey and Ruby Lavendar Stuckey of Route 1 Box 575, Anderson, Texas 77830 purchased Lots 11 and 12 of Block 44 from Velma Bryant and Barbara Bryant Sharp, P.O. Box 243, Iola 77861 for $10,000.  Garrett Real Estate handled the transaction.  Gail Brown was the Settlement Agent.


            Easements on the lots were reserved. Oil, gas, and minerals were also reserved. Gail Brown notarized the transaction on May 16, 1996. Rita H. McCorquodale, Attorney at Law, and Madisonville, Texas prepared papers.


            The Zion United Methodist Church now owns Lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, and 12. If the church ceases to exist, Lots 11 and 12 will revert to the James T. Stuckeys. The other lots would be owned by the United Methodist Church organization of Texas.


Early Pastors of Methodist Episcopal Church South and Zion United Methodist Church


            From the Church Register, the following individuals have been identified as pastors of the Methodist church:


                        Rev. J. W. Thompson---5 Feb 1898---Dec 1899

                        Rev. George R. Roy---10 Dec 1899---1 Sep 1901

                        Rev. A. S. T. Haygood---1 Sep 1901---Mar 1902

                        Rev. H. D. Huddleston---19 Apr 1902---16 Dec 1902

                        Rev. John M. Neal---17 Dec 1902---1 Sep 1903

                        Rev. A. J. Frick---5 Dec 1904---1906

                        Rev. W. F. Ayers---1907

                        Rev. B. C. Anderson---1908---1909

                        Rev. J. W. Treadwell---1910---1911

                        Rev. R. H. Lewelling---11912

                        Rev. Robert O. Weir---1913

                        Rev. D. W. Gardner---1914---1916

                        Rev. J. E. Buttrill---1917

                        Rev. P. W. Wood---1917

                        Rev. R. A. Gates---1918---1919

                        Rev. J. L. Webb---1919---1921

                        Rev. F. O. Favre---1921---1922

                        Rev. E. C. Escoes---1922---1924

                        Rev. W. A. McKee---1924---1926    

                        Rev. R. F. Stewart---1926---1927

                        Rev. W. A. Winkles---1927---1928

                        Rev. John B. Davis---16 Nov 1928---1929

                        Rev. J. I. Weatherby---1929---1930

                        Rev. R. O. Parten---1930---1931

                        Rev. L. C. Lilly---1931---1933

                        Rev. Adams---1936---1938

                        Rev. Willard B. Smith---1938---1940

                        Rev. R. A. Gates---1940---1941

                        Rev. G. M. Horne---1941---1943

                        Rev. A. W. Copeland---1943---1945

                        Rev. Hunt Robertson---?---1948

                        Rev. Robert Edwards---1948

                        Rev. L. F. Maedgen---1948---1950

                        Rev. J. B. Rozell---1950---1952

                        Rev. Bill Cunningham---1952

                        Rev. Robinson

                        Rev. Deason

                        Rev. A. W. Smith

                        Rev. John Henry Sollock

                        Rev. T. J. Darby

                        Rev. J. J. Barnes (a preacher for 55 years)

                        Rev. D. C. Crawford

                        Rev. Glynn Ferguson

                        Rev. John Bias\

                        Rev. Ben F. Jones

                        Rev. Timple Payne

                        Rev. Ron Loyd

                        Rev. Bruce Wood

                        Rev. Jack White

                        Rev. James White

                        Rev. Bill Pittman

                        Rev. Don Cook

                        Rev. Margaret Black

                        Rev. Paul Maulsen

                        Rev. Jim Bass

                        Rev. Mike Stull

                        Rev. Lorne Smith

                        Rev. Kenneth Byrd

                        Rev. Beverly Tune


Fellowship Hall


            A lot of work and money have been put into the church over the past several years. For example, lots were purchased for the church by Mr. & Mrs. James T. Stuckey as mentioned earlier.  Mr. & Mrs. Gene Sollock placed patted seating in the pews.  Mr. Gilmore Williams wired the Fellowship hall and furnished the materials.  Mr. & Mrs. James T. Stuckey and Mr. & Mrs. Robert Earl Darby purchased a home to be used as the church parsonage.  They also completely refurbished this home.


            One of the special projects completed at the church was the building of the Fellowship Hall. This was done after Mr. & Mrs. James T. Stuckey contacted members and former members and friends of the church for donations to build the hall.  The following individuals contributed to that cause:


            Mrs. Grace Archer

            Teresa & David Beabey

            Ruth Blagraves

            Kenneth & Janna Byrd

            Wayne & Fern Byrne

            Bobbie & Margaret Cole

            Harry & Martha Collins

            Geraldine Darby Cubstead

            Harold B. Darby

            Mr. & Mrs. John A. Darby

            Robert Earl Darby

            Marguerite Dilorio

            Jim & George Ann Dirks

            Lucille Dougherty

            George Engelbretson

            Jean Evans

            Mr. & Mrs. Donald Gregg

            Woodrow Gilpin

            Alf & Genne Grissett

            Charles Grissett

            Mr. & Mrs. D. J. Grissett

            Faye Grissett

            Robert & Virginia Hack

            Gus & Ivene Heinrich

            Mark Heinrich

            Earl & Becky Humphrey

            Thelma Hopkins

            Edna E. Lloyd

            Nita L. McNalley

            Beulah Posey

            Lawrence & Mary Smith

            Larry Snook

            D. T. & Melba Sollock

            Gene & Ruth Sollock

            James E. Sollock

            Jewel Stover

            Doyle & Edloe Stuckey

            Jim & Ruby Stuckey

            Kerry T. Stuckey

            Howard & Ellen Walker

            Jack & Nina Walker

            Charlie & Kathie Wendt

            Gilmore & Imogene Williams

            Conrad & Laura Winborn

            Mrs. J. K. Wingate

            Mr. & Mrs. Claude C. Wren





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