WESLEY CHAPEL CHURCH, SCHOOL and CEMETERY
In what is now the Wesley Chapel area, there is
supportive evidence of area settlers in the 1860's
and some of their descendants still live in the
The need for a burial ground brought forth the
formation of a cemetery location. Then the need for
a religious meeting location was met with the deed
for a church site which in turn served as school and
church and this identified the area with a name.
The Church and Cemetery are located on A.W. Beckham
Grant, about 6 3/4 miles NW from Crockett on FM-229
and 200/300 yards from a turnoff. The first Wesley
Chapel School house was located on the tract deeded
in 1903 specifically for the Methodist Episcopal
Church about a quarter mile or 500 yards S/SW. A
deed on record described “4 acres claimed to be
owned by Wesley Chapel Church and Cemetery.” This
was a conveyance deed from James C. Wootters dated
Feb. 7, 1903. This deed was made to
J.W. Craiger, A.W. Vince, J.T.
Simmons, W.N. Brown, William Burton, F.J. Currie,
David Webb and J.T. Murray and to their
successors. All were identified as the Trustees of
the Crockett Circuit Methodist Episcopal Church
South in 1903. In 1903 the Crockett Station included
four pastors who served Grapeland, Augusta, Kennard
and Crockett. W.S. Easterling
was pastor of Crockett Station and is likely the
preacher who took on the new Wesley’s Chapel. It is
this deed which defines “Wesley Chapel” as the
Church and Cemetery and serves as the basis of the
identification of the two which are the community.
Methodism was high around the turn of the century in
Crockett and Houston County. The First Methodist
church members of Crockett had just built a brick
church in 1901. J.C. Wootters,
who deeded the land for the outlying area residents’
church to be called Wesley’s Chapel, and school; was
chairman of the building committee at Crockett.
Evangelistic zeal perhaps encouraged the deed of
land for this outlying church, as Wootters’ Crockett
pastor was serving the NW area residents. Wootters
did mention a school was to share the church
acreage, but his emphasis was Church.
Acceptance of the early church name for the
community identification had no dissenters. In fact,
when the original church of 1903 was blown away by a
tornado (unroofed and leveled) in 1953, the men of
the community rebuilt the church from the remaining
This community was never served by a post-office and
there was never a designated stage stop there. There
is no plat or survey of a town site found of record
at the Houston County courthouse. But in 1903 with
the building of a Methodist Episcopal Church of
acreage deeded, Wesley’s Chapel or Wesley Chapel
came to be and area settlers took the same
A common school district was also formed that year
which took the name of Wesley Chapel Common School
District. Scholastic Records for several of the
early years (1904-1908) are identified as Wesley’s
Chapel Dist. #16.
Records of the Wesley Chapel Scholastics begin for
1904/05 and list 47 pupils ranging in ages from 8 to
17 years old. Family names include
Clines, Coatney, Crager,
Ewing, Gossett, Green, Hancock, Hudson, Hughes,
Hollingsworth, Long, Sims, Smith, Spence, story,
Temple, Waller, White, Willis, Yates, Zanders. W.B.
Sims, R.L. Waller and I.J. Spence were the
There were 30 students in 1906/07 with
Jeff Craiger, George Clines
and Lee Johnson serving as trustees. Family
names continue; Crager,
Coatney, Clines, Gossett, Hutson, Holcomb, Johnson,
Sims, Smith Sudwisher, Temple, Willis and Waller.
By 1907/08, the enrollment had dropped to 23 and
John W. Sims, F.A. Gossett and A.W. Waller
In 1913, N.G. Reeves
deeded two acres of land to the trustees of Wesley
Chapel School Dist. #64 for the sum of $ 30.00 on
which a two-room school house was built. This school
served the area for 36 years, but in 1949 was
abandoned with the annexation of Wesley Chapel
School District to Latexo School District.
In 1949, the matter of an election to annex Wesley
Chapel Common School District to Latexo Common
School District came before the county School Board
of which H.M. Streetman
was chairman. An election was held August 13, 1949
and annexation of Wesley Chapel to Latexo carried 45
votes for and 1 vote against. Thus the school also
closed with the church in and about 1950.
When the tornado touched down in 1953 and leveled
the school and church, the buildings had not been
used for several years. The church was rebuilt to be
used in conjunction with the cemetery and as an
identifying community landmark. Since the school
district had been consolidated the school was not
rebuilt and the property was sold. In 1987,
occasional preachings were held there, not
necessarily of the Methodist faith.
The present church is a third less the original
size, but area residents sensed the importance of
having it rebuilt though the church had ceased to be
used for regular services by 1950. An area resident,
Joseph R. Rawls
(l871-1953) was killed during that storm and rests
in the Wesley Chapel Cemetery.
In rebuilding their turn-of-the-century church,
accepted as having been named for the founder of
Methodism, John Wesley (1703-1791), the area
residents showed their pride in the identification
and recognized the church as a landmark structure,
more than the school building which had also been
blown down by the storm.
The Wesley chapel Cemetery which preceded the church
and school continues. A survey of headstones reveals
1885 might well be the earliest marker date.
Unmarked rocks as headstones are evidence of earlier
burials of 30 or more unnamed residents without
dates. More than 200 grave sites are marked with
names and dates.
Two burial sites with 1885 headstones are for
Henry J. Craiger, born
December 31, 1883 and died October 11, 1885; and
Margret Malone, wife of
J.M. Malone who was
born March 11, 1827 and died December 20, 1885.
Craiger was two years of age at the time of death
and possibly was a relative of
J.W. Craiger listed as one of the trustees of
the Crockett circuit Methodist Episcopal Church,
South, who received the deed of land for a church.
Mrs. Malone’s husband died June 20, 1887, another
early burial. Other burials from 1887 to 1890 list
area family names of Ashmore,
Breshear, Coatney, Edwards, Hancock, Peacock, Rush,
Shelton, Story, Waller and Yates.
Source: Eliza Bishop