The Episcopal Church in Corsicana, Texas
by Pauline Mowlam
Originally published in "The Navarro County Scroll", 1963
Reprinted with permission of the Navarro County Historical Society
I have taken this from the reading of the Vestry Notes of St. John's Church, from more than one source of hearsay, and from other records.
The first recorded visit of a Protestant Episcopal Bishop to the area now the Diocese of Dallas was made on St. Patrick's Day in 1839, when Bishop Leonidas Polk crossed the Red River to make a pastoral
visit into the area called Texas. Later, at the instance of Bishop Polk, there was included in the duties of the duties of the Bishop of the Diocese of Kansas and the Indian Territory, the duties of the Bishop of the Diocese of Kansas and the Indian Territory, the exercising the Episcopal Functions in the Republic of Texas. And at the National Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, when George Washington Freeman learned of his appointment to this tremendous task, he sneaked out the back door of the Convention House, went
to his hotel room and took down with hard chills and fever. Finally his wife admonished him to "get us and quit fighting God" ... this he did and allowed himself to be consecrated. His visits into Texas were many and varied, the first in what was called the civilized area of Texas, was at Clarkson where he baptized the first grown person in Texas, his experience in his visits into Texas where many and varied, fighting flood swollen rivers,
extreme heat, hostile indians, and near escapes from reptiles and wild animals.
Around 1859, we note, there were settlements at Corsicana, Dresden, Porter's Bluff, Chatfield Point, and more families were coming in every day. In 1855, fifteen years after Polk's first visit into Texas, an Episcopal Priest, a German named Rottenstein, worked his way up from Houston into the upper parts of Texas. He came to Corsicana, here in a little log court house on Court House Hill, the Rev. Rottenstein organized nine adults into an Episcopal worship community. I have heard that the little Parish Family included 30 people who came in from all around the Country. They called their little Church St. Bartholemew. After about a year, the court house burned, and, though they tried to hold services in other places, the little church could not withstand the uncertainties of the time, and Rottenstein went ot Dallas. There he organized another group, which met in the Masonic Temple, and from this nuclei came the present St. Matthew's Church, which is now the Bishop's See of the
Diocese of Dallas.
By the time Texas was a State, under Bishop Polk's guidance it had been organized into a Diocese, called the Diocese of Texas, with the See at Nacagdoches, electing Alexander Gregg as its Bishop. When the War Between the States broke out, in our area there were about 3,000 white people and 2,000 negro slaves. Then after the Yankee soldiers, that had been billeted here in the County during the reconstruction days, were withdrawn in 1870, Corsicana was a flourishing town with a railroad,
four stores, four livery stables, two wagon yards, two flour mills, eight churches, one convent and a number of saloons... there was also a new court house costing about $10,000. And it is recorded that in 1872, the Rev. Mr. V. O. Gee began an Episcopal Worship Corsicana ... this was about 15 years after Rottenstein was here. In the present St. John's Episcopal Church there is an inscription on the Pulpit Desk, "In Memory of V. O. Gee Who Once Was Rector Here".
During these days Miss Lida Lea, Decd., daughter of Col. A. M. Lea, who was a young woman at this time, once told me that the young people in the County danced in the Courthouse on Saturday Nights. She said the Bells dolled out in crinlin ruffles and bows, as they
whirled in dance, their ruffles would catch and pull on the rough floor, the young escorts would gather the ravelings from the splinters of the floor and made boutenniers of their favorite color. She continued to say that they often danced till dawn, then would rush home and change, later returning to the same hall Sunday School and Episcopal Church Services. In the earliest Vestry Minutes of St. John's Church, I find, quote, "Hevner Crane once Ministered here" ... "W. W. Patrick was Missionary Priest who often visited here" ... Richard Channing Beal was confirmed by Bishop Gregg in Corsicana" ... "the dates of all of these must have been during Bishop Gregg's Bishopery ... and while the whole of Texas was one Diocese.
In 1874, this part of Texas was detached
from the Diocese of Texas and made into the Missionary Jurisdiction of North Texas, with the Rt. Rev. Alexander Charles Garrett as Bishop. Garrett was born in Ireland and was well educated in the Church.
During Lent in 1875, Bishop Garrett paid his first pastoral visit to Corsicana, and as the second courthouse had burned, he held services in a scrubbed up store building, using packing boxes for alter, front., etc. During this visit, he records that he baptized the infant son
of Mr. and Mrs. W. S. Simkins, Williams Stewart Simpkins. He relates seeing a negro hanging from a gallows near a saloon. He asked a colored man near, who it was and what had he done ... he found that the man's name was unknown, but he had been caught stealing a calf. Bishop Garrett thought that was such a little crime to loose one's life over ... maybe after he had lived in Texas longer he learned why the heavy penalty for cattle stealing.
Richard Channing Beal was born south of the Potomac, rearing in the old Southern manner, and at the age of 15 entered the Civil War. After the war, on finding his home devastated, he roamed here and there, and finally settled in Corsicana. While working for the
County Clerk, he studies law and then became our judge.
On July 17, 1875, when Beal was 29, he gathered together several of his colleagues and others in the John B. Jones & Company's Counting Room and made plans to organize an Episcopal Church in Corsicana, as per instructions from Bishop Garrett. "When a mission was organized there must be not less than 12 persons, and three shall be
confirmed persons, and they must pledge at least $400. per year for the paying of the Minister." The old records show that there were 16 persons and nine were confirmed and one was baptized. In the Episcopal Church, when one is baptized it is considered Baptized into the Universal Family of Church of Christians -- Those that are later confirmed or had the laying on of the Hands of the Bishop, have studied about the Church and, of their mature mind, have decided to go into the Episcopal Church become a Communicant. Those signing the Subscription List were: J. E. and W. S. Simkins, W. A. Robbins, Charles H. Allen, J. E. (N or H) ?ickson, A. M. Lea, R. C. Beale, Jacob Allen, Dr. A. A. Watkins, Dr. Garrett, and Mrs. Simkins.
Most of these men composed the first
Provisional Vestry. Please remember the following: Beal, who was chosen Junior Warden, though he only pledged $2.00 on the Subscription List, his was the dream and he was the vessel used by the Lord; J. E. Simkins, Esquire was Senior Warden and Lay Reader (I understand that he is of the Joe Simkins' Family). Both Simkins were attorneys and Mrs. Simkins must have been the mother. They pledged over half of the $400. In the present Church, this Simkins family has one of the large windows - Showing Christ in Prayer; A.
M. Lea was chosen as the Secretary, he was Col. Lea Esq. and wrote beautiful minutes, and through them he showed himself ever a true Christian, a gentleman of the Old South, and that he indeed loved his Church. W. A. Robbins was chosen as Treasurer he soon dropped out and Judge Autry was put into place ... there was Charles H. Allen, a Yankee among the Southerners, he had been a Captain in the Northern Army while stationed in Louisiana. When he came to Corsicana, he set himself up as a merchant, and I understand, that he eventually owned four stores; S. W. Simkins dropped out later, and I suppose left town, and Capt.
Alexander Angus was put in his place; Jacob Allen was also put in someone's place on this early Vestry. I read that after the first were put on, some refused to function.
The vestry is the Ruling body of the Individual Church and it has been duly elected by the members of the congregation who's business they transact. Senior Warden is the Head of
the Vestry and the Spiritual Advisor of the congregation. The Rector's confident. The Junior Warden is the second in standing and is in charge of the physical properties of the Church.
These folks must have started right away to build a Church House. Col. Lea, though Secretary, seemed to have the construction under his supervision, Joe E. Hickman was Chief Builder, and Thomas
Hayes and Arthur Southerland were the Building Committee. August 23, 1875, Col. Lea called the first meeting of the Provisional Vestry to meet in the John B. Jones & Co.'s Counting Roo, ... I quote from the minutes of this meeting, "as the construction on the Church has been at a standstill for sometime, and the debts are piling up, we voted to stop work on the Church" (it was also reported that they owed over $500 and also some to Col. Lea, who
had taken care of the incidentals that came up in the construction), the minutes close thus: "The Provisional Vestry adjoined without having taken any means to liquidate or to provide in any way for the payment of the creditors... the meeting was informally dissolved by the separate withdrawal of the members."
Later the members of the Vestry agreed to sell the material not yet incorporated into the Church Building, and pay some of the debts. They also sold the large beams that were the supports
between the arches in the interior of the Church ... this was done against the advice of the Building Committee. That fall it was reported that the Church Building was slipping and had spread on its foundation. The Vestry was advised by Mr. Ewing that this was caused by the removal of the heavy beams from the interior, and the absence of sufficient substitute. At this meeting they decided to fence the Church lot and just go ahead and fence the adjoining lot while they were at it, as they intended to buy it sooner or later.
In the new year they called Rev. Mr.
James Vanex as rector, he was to receive $600 a year, $400 to be paid by the Church Subscription List and $200 by the Diocese. Under Vanex's guidance, the Church was accepted as a Parish Church on Assention Day, 1876 ... The Parish was to hold its Parish Meetings on Easter Monday of each year and then to elect Delegates to the Diocesan Convention to be held on Assention Day of each year. They chose to worship under the protection of the wide spread wings of the eagle that is the symbol of St. John the Evangelist. You will notice in the vestibule of our present Church a document attesting that this is the Church of St. Johns of the Parish of Corsicana, Texas.
Under the Parish Constitution, Article V
reads thus, "The Annual Election, with the Minister in Charge; The Congregation of the Parish shall meet Annually, on Easter Monday, to elect two Wardens, who shall be Communicants, and not less than three Vestrymen, who shall be baptized, who shall continue to discharge the duties of their office during one year, until their successors are elected.
In the late 1876, after Vanex had been Rector for several months, he and Col Lea asked the women of the Parish to help the Vestry obtain money to pay the Rector's board at the Malloy House -- and without his consent, one of the Vestrymen contracted for a Reed Organ from
newspaper publisher Nelson. Nelson had taken the organ in pay for Advertising, an he let them have it at the much reduced price of $175. Mrs. Lea paid Mr. Ewing to place a walnut rail below the Chancel and to put other ornamental and useful brackets about the Church. The Alter Rail in the present Church was presented by a class of girls. "Miss Lizzie Allen's Class." Miss Lizzie Allen, and Mr. and Mrs. Lea often did this and that to improve the Church. The large window of Christ and the Lambs, in the present Church, was given in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Lea by their
Sunday School pupils.
The Minutes report that Vanex could not obtain a quorum at the Vestry Meetings, so finally he called one to meet at Simkin's office. Lea reports that he and the Rector arrived on time, Simkins was there but excused himself to contact some of the others, and then forgot to return. Quote from Minutes, "We stayed until dark and no one came, there was nothing to do but retire to our homes." The Frost lot, the one adjoining the Church, was contracted for by other Vestrymen, and in
September Vanex resigned.
Bishop Garrett sent the Rev. Edwin Wickam, who was on his staff, down with a message to the Vestrymen for them to meet and clear all debts against the Church, the past Rector's stipends and other debts to be either paid or assumed by individuals, before Easter Morning. The Bishop sent $50 to help pay these debts. This little Church now had 45 members, when I say member I mean Confirmed people, and they used J. P. Lytton as supply, and in 1877 called the Rev. Mr. A. King Hall. Hall asked the Bishop to consecrate the building and he replied not until it was fully fitted up and adorned. But in cooperation with the Bishop, Rev. Hall escured three lots, next North to the Church, fronting 50 feet each. Bishop Garrett gave his individual note for them.
The Rector, practically alone, built a five room Rectory, worked over the Church House and built a porch onto same. This was good in a way, but while doing his carpenter's jobs, he
must have dallied in his priestly duties, because the membership dropped to 39. A Vestryman obtained a bell, it was installed for $120... that is the same bell at St. John's now ... The Rector resigned ... Peter Myer was called ... he resigned after a few months ... all of these men did not get all of their salary.
Beal was Chairman of the Finance Committee and got out the following brochure which began thus: "to any one supposed to take interest enough to induce the reading thereof, Greetings: "The Rectory porch needs repairs, it is at risk of life, must do it .. the Treasurer can pay it as soon as he gets his hands on the money ... We must all diligently proceed with the securing of funds. The Church is swept, dusted, and the weeds cut from about the Church, within and without the fence, at the cash outlay of $2.00 advance by Col. A. M. Lea, we will add this to the amount we owe him in the amount of $100."
Col J. B. Jones helped with the Parish record in listing of the Parish assets.
"Ownes a building 60 feet by 38 feet, framed and plastered within, painted, on an enclosed lot facing West 80 by 140 feet. Inside is a parlor organ and other furniture, costing $3,000. It ownes adjoining lot 150 by 140 feet, a handsome cottage for the Rector, containing 5 rooms, closet and kitchen, servants room and good well, and other appeartances, costing $1,500. Will require to complete the whole in an appropriate manner $2,500. Value of the Church property is fully $5,000. The title and trust to the Bishop of the Missionary District, his name sits on the original notes made to buy the Rectory lot. The Parish owes $188.00, including $50.00 due the Bishop on his salary, and we
owe $50.00 for this year, that is after the Conclave in April. Your last Rector has been paid most of all we owe on his stipend. The Vestry is very desirus to place an accepted minister in charge of the congregation as soon as practical, but sad experiences warn us to incur no new obligations until the old is paid."
The Bishop informed the congregation that only male members could vote ... that month the Bishop became very ill.
The Rev. Mr. Joe B. Lynn in 1883 was called, and now at near the ten year mark, there was 50 members, and for reasons unknown, there had not been much new blood on the Vestry, since the Beginning. Lea resigned and H. C. Nichol was elected to replace him -- some new blood finally. Lea's notes were beautiful and he put everything down, even when and who came when there was no quorum, but Nichols notes are very skimpy and not too good reading. New names appearing: Bullock, Stuart (there is a large window in the present Church, showing Christ Ascending, that is in memory of a Stuart). These names appear in the period coming up: Gowan, Neblett, Miss Clark, Mrs. Addie Stewart (Mrs. Watt-became), C. A. Johnson, Maynard, Dr. Lewis, W. C. Van Hook, Damon, Pinkston and a Mr. Lee. The lovely candelabrums on the Alter in St. Johns were given in memory of Mr. Nichol's mother, Rebecca. There is a large window on the
north side of the Church in memory of a Lee. The lower part of the lovely-English Elizabethan Altar in our church was made by Mr. Nicol for the first little Church House.
Mr. Nicol being new on the Vestry, was broken into harness by being presented with the Subscription List, with the advice to get any money he could get his hands on, and to accept from members and friends alike -- and to please look into the foundation of the Church Building as it was slipping again.
New pews were obtained by Judge Autry, they were made by Mr. Turner, 12 1/2 feet long each at $10 apiece ... a little pipe organ was contracted for, and gas lights to lighten up the church during the winter evenings, and a stove to keep the ladies warm.
All during the ten year life, it appeared that Mr. Ch. Allen, regardless of who was appointed as Secretary and Treasurer, was always the one that gave the Treasurer's report ... and seemed to
be the one keeping the books. Now and then Judge Autry took over the books, but soon he was calling for an audit .... he could write as lovely minutes as Col. Lea, but just did not seem to do much with sums.
In 1887, William Clarkson, Jr. was placed on the Vestry, and as being new, was given the Subscription List and advised to take any money that one placed in his hands ... and would he please look into the foundation of the Church, as it was slipping again. Now I have been told, by my husband and others who were children in the little Church, that iron bars were running through the building, where the beams should have been, that braced the walls together. I feel that this was Mr. Clarkson's idea, he dealt with iron and I find no other mention of the Church slipping on the foundation. In our present Church, on the cover of the Front there is an inscription, "In Memory of Jannie Culick Clarkson".
W. D. Sartwell was called for Rector,
and under his direction the membership soared to 80. On April 2, 1888, was held the first evening Parish Meeting, heretofore they had been held after the morning services. There were 15 qualified voters (remember only men could vote), but it had to recess so that they could find the Senior Warden, J. E. Simkins. This election of the Vestry brought in a big change. They elected A. M. Lea as Senior Warden, Capt. A. Angus, Junior Warden, Captain Allyn, Treasurer, Judge Beale, J. E. Simkins, Wm. Clarkson, Jr. and George Philips as Vesterymen. In 1889, Wm. Clarkson resigned and went to Tyler.
On the 17th of June, 1889, Richard Channing Beale, age 43, died beloved by all: this is copies from his Obituary:
"Crowds of all colors and creeds assembled -- in due time the tolling of the Church bell announced the approach of the Hearse and sorrowing friends ... The brothers of the Bar were the bearers. While a white robed priest met the procession at the gate, the organ gave fourth appropriate solemn sounds ... The Chancel was suitably dressed in flowers and the grand ritual of the Burial of the Dead was well said by the Rector, selections were sung by the well trained Choir ... When placed in the Hearse ... was followed by half a hundred carriages, accompanied by a multitude on foot... At the last resting place, as the Rector said the last words "dust to dust, ashes to ashes" and the final benediction ... the darkening clouds let fall a gentle shower in unison with the tears of the women and children ... A gifted Judge in our beautiful new court house, Sunday School Superintendent, Lay Readers and Vestrymen, Warden and organizer of the Present Church as a Mission."
The little circular window over the font at the back of the present Church, and was first placed in the little
Church over the Alter, was given in Memory of Judge Beale by the Sunday School Pupils. Our symbol of St. John the Evangelist, or Eagle Lectern, is inscribed "For the Glory of God and loving memory of Richard Channing Beale".
Some time after this, Sartwell resigned, and the Vestry obtained the services of the Rev. Mr. Hamilton, headmaster to the Cathedral School for Boys, at St. Matthew's Church, to come down weekends and hold services. Soon they were behind on this expense, and the ladies went to work and obtained money to finish paying Sartwell and the bill at the Malloy House. They called J. M. Hillyar, he did not stay long.
Brewster was a Supply paid by the month, coming once a month, then the years of 1893 and 1894, the Vestryman, each and every one were corresponding with prospective Rectors. One nibble they had was from a man named Moffitt in California. They were raising the ante in cross-correspondence, offering him $1,200 a year. This came to the attention of Bishop Garrett and he notified them that, with their financial condition being what it as ... owing past Rector's parts of stipends and other
debts ... he expected them to clear them up before Easter Morning ... and if they called a man and offered him more than $800 he would withdraw the $200 the Diocese and been paying on the Rector's Salary ... yes, they immediately dropped Mr. Moffitt and had a Rev. Mr. E. F. Gee from Tyler to come over and act as a Supply when needed.
About this time there appears the following names: R. L. Hamilton, S. W. Southworth, Wm. Lang (one of the large windows on the North side of the present Church is in memory of Mr. Wm. Lang, and the ones over the Altar, the Moses and Paul windows are in memory of Mr. Hamilton's parents and one by the Allyn Family), Mr. W. A. Mowlam's name appears as Choir Master; Mr. Harry D. Johnson as Assistant, with Mrs. Charles Allyn as
Organist ... much of the present musical library in our present Church was selected by these. They organized the Vested Choir, and it is reported that on a Christmas or more, the Choir and the Congregation marched, singing carols, down to the City Hall and there put on a musical and had a Christmas Tree; also, I am told, that one Christmas Eve the men of the Choir crawled up into the belfry tower and sang carols.
The little hand billow pipe organ, which Vivian Mowlam and others said they pumped as a boy, was put against the North wall in the little Church. I have been told by good authority the following: That this little organ was shipped from England to Philadelphia and used, then later installed in St. Matthews Cathedral in Dallas and, when they
built a new church, it was sent here to St. Johns, and the following played on it: Mrs. Allyn was the first, then Mrs. Julia Mirus played it longer than any ... she did not obtain any material benefits for her long period of service, but when she resigned, the Vestry presented her with pearl handle opera glasses for "her long continuous and faithful services." For a short time Miss Emma Simkins played for $10 per month, and about 1910, George Weiler played for the Church Services. Miss Simkins became a well known portrait painter, and Weiler became a well known concert pianist. Miss Hazel Cobb played for $15.00 per month, she became a music composer. This little organ was given to the Christian Science Church in 1923, after first having been moved into the New Episcopal Church. After the Allen Family gave St. John's a new organ, it was moved to the Scientist Church and they had it electrified. After 75 years of service in Corsicana, and no telling how many years in other Churches, the little organ was recently dismantled and is to be overhauled and placed in the new church of the Scientist, the value the organ repair man puts on this newly repaired organ is $10,000. He says it is the most beautiful toned organ he has heard.
In 1895, when the Church was 20 years old, the Vestry called the Rev. Mr. J. M. V. King, and there was a notice that came out of the National Convention thus: "The Diocese of the
Province in the Missionary Jurisdiction of North Texas, now will be called the Diocese of Dallas, with the Right Rev. A. C. Garrett, DD LLD as Bishop ... it includes one of the first Churches organized in this Jurisdiction, St. Johns of the Corsicana Parish." And on Assention Day of that year, the Convention in Dallas instituted St. Johns of Corsicana as a Parish Church, clear of its Missionary supervision. The income reported that year was $1,300.00, there were to be two Wardens and five Vestrymen.
Under King's leadership, who was very much loved, the membership rose to 103 ... the large Eucharist Candle Holders are given in memory of him. After King left, Sartwell, who was at St. Matthews in Dallas, often held services. He was here for a service in 1901.
Now the History of the Church changes its mood. At this point the lovely Vestry Minutes end and they are missing up until 1906. I understand that the Rev. Mr. Johnson, a Canadian who always wore a frock coat and silk topper, was the Rector at the time of the missing notes. Mr. Watt was a Vestryman at that time, and he related that the rev. Mr. Johnson, in a fit of temper, threw the books in the fire.
I have been told that under Mr. Johnson's Rectorship the Boy's Brigade, similar to the Boy Scouts, was organized. He seemed to be good with the youth of the Parish, but very contentious with the Vestry. During the time of the missing notes, the little Rectory was moved onto the adjoining lot, and there on the old lot was
built a large two-storied Rectory with an apartment that included stairs from the upper story, sitting room and bath for the Rector, and with its covered porch facing the Church.
The 1906 minutes record that the Rev. Mr. J. C. Black was Rector and Vestrymen were H. D. Johnson, Wm. Clarkson, Jr., H. C. Allyn, Robert Watt, W. A. Moore, H. C. Nicol and J. C. Allen. Mr. Watt was keeping the notes.
During the next year, W. A. Mowlam took up as Parish Clerk. He showed the finances in satisfactory condition, the Vestry met every first Monday in the Church, and at the Parish Meeting, Mrs. Mirus resigned as Organist (she had been it again). The Tabernacle in the present Church is given in her memroy. Mrs. Lovett reported for St. Margarets (the women's organization), Mrs. Robert L. Hamilton reported for the Vestment Chapter, the Sunday School Superintendent was Mr. W. A. Mowlam, St.
Catherine's Mission was reported by Ellen Van Hook, there was a report from the Daughters of the King, the A-Auxillary and the B-Auxillary all for the Women's organizations, and the Brotherhood of St. Andrews, a man's organization.
Names appearing during King's period: William Clowe, Mrs. C. B. Richards, E. M. Polk, Sid Story, Miss Lida Lea, Mrs. Scott Bagby, Mr. Pace; Gus Hoover, Max Almond, and J. Frank Williams.
The old Rectory with its furnishings was sold for $2,500 to Carl Swartz.
The little flock decided to build a new Church House, they were spilling over and out of the little church ... having Sunday School Classes in this and that place. Mr. Mowlam records this new idea being discussed in 1906, and on May 1907, a building committee was appointed; H. C. Allyn, William Clarkson, Jr., and W. A. Mowlam and the Rector
were instructed to secure plans. Captain Allyn told the women that every dollar they raised for the new church, he would match it with another dollar from his pocket. They immediately went into the Catering business, serving luncheons to Service Clubs and others, charging $5.00 rental on the little Church for these with a fee for the food service.
Mr. Robert Watt has told me that on his honeymoon, while in New York City, he went to the Church Mission House with Stanford White and obtained three sects of plans for a selection, and what ever plan they used would cot $100. I understand that this great Architect, Stanford White, drew basic plans for Church Groups. He was shot in 1906. The final bids on the original plans was too high. Quote, "they were sent back to the Architect for Revision" but there is a rumor that the Rev. Mr. Black took a trip East and took the plans with him for revisions. I find in the minutes of 1924, when the New Parish Hall was discussed, that they wondered if they should get in touch with the Architect that did the Church "Weatherhoag". Mr. Mirus told me that when he was a boy that he understood that Weatherhead and Hoag of Indiana was the name of those taking part on the plans. The Rev. Mr. Fred Wolf said he found a set of old blue prints about the Church that had Stanford White's initials all over them. Anyway, Berry * Metcalf obtained the building contract for $12,100.00, and Mr. Metcalf told me that Mr. W. A. Mowlam read the plans for them and the "Preacher Black" oversaw the job, that all of the arches, etc., were cut and glued right there on the job. The job finally amounted to $16,641.70.
The heavy doors to the Church were mill work here in town, and other things about the Church. Also, Mr. Nicol and his associates went to work and carved a top to the lower section of the alter, which makes one of the most beautiful of Alters.
The little Church building was moved
back where the Parish Hall is now and used as a parish hall until the new one was built in 1926 or 1927.
On the Church corner stone is the following inscription, "For the Glory of God, St. John's Episcopal Church, 1908." The little congregation had the church out of debt and consecrated November 26, 1911, as attested to in a document just inside of the side entrance of the Church. It only took 120 communicants to cover the cost of the building in three years ... those women sure must have been hustling. Under Black the Envelope System was instituted and also the Every Member Canvess. A new heating plant was installed at the cost of $1,100. A Bishop Co-Juter was elected, Harry T. Moore.
Early a crack was showing in the North and West walls of the new Church Building. This persisted for years. Finally, in the Rev. Mr. Hayden time, the Vestry had William V. Mowlam, Civil Engineer, to supervise the correction of same. He planned Counterfort
buttresses to support the wall and called in Mr. Thomas, a well known architect in Dallas, who checked and agreed. These seemed to have eliminated the initial big crack and roof sag.
Black goes to St. Matthews in Dallas as Assistant Rector, and Jamerson was a supply. At the recommendation of Archdeacon Crittenden, who was holding services here, they called the Rev. Mr. Forrest Scoffield in 1915. Under Scoffield the parish paper was started, Sid Storey was Editor, he was also Sunday School Superintendent. The Vestry had cooperate Communion and Breakfast. Scoffield said he could not maintain his family on $1,200 a year and resigned, then came S. Mayland Bird. Names appearing in the foregoing period: Daniel P. Shaw, Alfred Clark, Wyley Clarkson, C. H. Mills, Mrs. L. C. Dockum, Lloyd Kerr, Dr. Holloway, Dr. Panton, Dr. Norwood.
Hiram J. Ellis (Uncle HI) was called at $1,500 a year, and the year of the Church was changing from January to January. The street was paved in front, Alfred Clark bequeathed $500 to
his beloved Church. Mite Box offering amounted to $129.40, and from the Minutes of April 10, 1918, "Charles Henry Allyn died after 40 years of being Church Treasurer". William Clarkson said "he had been in the Church 30 years and knew Allyn's fine record, that he often had to advance his own money to pay the Church debts."
Charles Allyn left an endowment saying "in order that my services to St. John's Episcopal Church may be perpetuated, I do hereby bequeath and devise to the Wardens and Vestry of this Church in Corsicana, Texas $5,000.00 to be invested and I charge them to look at the value of the security, rather than to look at the interest, and this interest only be used for expenses". The Vestry voted to erect a Bronze Plaque, costing $275.00 in memory of Mr. Allyn. This most beautiful plaque is under the circular window by the font, at the back of the present Church.
At the Parish Meeting January 20, 1920, W. A. Mowlam, Choirmaster, was presented with a gold headed cane and umbrella for 25 years of faithful services given as Choirmaster. In 1939 Bishop Moore presented Mr. Mowlam with a special prayer book for 62 years of service in the Choir of the Church, beginning at the age of 6 years in England where he was a Choir Boy. The Choir of St. John's, at his death, had a rear-dossel hung, of red velvet, in his memory, but a number of years ago, under James Joseph's Rectorship and when the Church was redecorated, the rear-dossel was taken down and Mr. Mowlam's family have never obtained any satisfactory report
of what was done with it. Mr. Mowlam and Harry D. Johnson always decorated the Church at Christmas time, being right busy most of the year, either making the decorations or planning them and getting the music together. After Mr. Mowlam became older, he had already worked Mr. Lloyd Kerr, with his beautiful Caruso voice, into the Choir Mastership. Mr. Kerr, with this Choir became famed, putting on heavy musical concerts - I remember them singing the Third Mass. He also put on the music for the Texas Centennial and the Los Angeles World Fair. I still have fresh in my memory some that made up that Choir: Rollin Guess, Grace Binford, Mrs. Townsend, Mrs. Harry D. Johnson (Choir Mother), Alline Trimble, Robert Watt, Edgar Metcalf, Margaret Highnote, Flossy Gill, Katrina Wright, Betty Mowlam (she was a Choir Director of a Choir in an Episcopal Church in Corpus Christi several years), Estelle Van Hook, Mrs. Edd Polk, Tula and Stella Johnapelus, Josephine and Buna Allen Watt, with many others.
In memory of Mr. Allyn, the Allyn family presented the Church with a new organ, the Choir Stalls and Chancel underwent some change, using the transept up through all of the cross-section of the crusiform. The organ was installed and there was dedication concert in 1923 by Carl Wisemann of Dallas. Miss Rose Johnson was an organist at $20 per month later we had Mrs. Dockum, Miss Sutten, Miss Pannell, Mrs. Homes and
Erma Wideman, etc. The plaque dedicating the organ is just North of the pulpit, and where the organ pipes are, there is a plaque dedicating the chimes to the memory of Bonnie Ruth Slauson.
Miss Lizzie Allen left the Church a diamond Sunburst pin, it was sold for $1,800, and the little Chapel was installed in the Choir Room in her memory. It was used often when the whole church was not needed and for private Communion. Mr. Hayden had it moved into the Children's Assembly Room for the Primary Department of the Sunday School, later it was stored and, uncer Bob Kennaugh, I asked to have it set up in a little side room for the Children's Chapel and there it has been since, and is regularly used by the Children.
In 1920 the Rector reported 7 baptized, 13 confirmed, 7 married, 3 buried, with 141 confirmed members. Mr. Harry Johnson was made treasurer, he retained this office until his death in the 1950's. Now Captain Allyn's grandson, William Allyn Lang, took over after Uncle Harry's demise, July 30, 1962.
Upon the alter, the Missel Stand is in
memory of Carrie Virginia Leman and the Missel is for Anna Katrine Blackford, granddaughter of Mr. Stout that was on the Vestry when Mr. Ellis was called and Mrs. Anna Stout, his wife, Mrs. Katrina Stout Wright has sung in the Choir, been a Sunday School Teacher and other things about the Church. Her son-in-law, Wade Blackford, has been many things about the Church, but for years has been the sponsor of the Acolytes, and after acting as an acolyte himself. He has been good with the boys, I know, because for years I was the Acolyter Mother.
The little Litney Desk Missel is for Mrs. Robert Reading's memory. Before Len, when Fred Wolf came here, he was bemoaning the fact that we did not have a litney desk. We informed him that we did and it was found, in a bad condition, under junk in a junk room. He repaired the broken parts and renewed it in general, and it now stands in its proper place.
In 1926, under Mr. Ellis, the Vestry voted to build a new Parish Hall, and at the Parish Meeting they asked for some new blood to be put on the Vestry. They elected Allyn Lang, Ed M. Polk,
Jr. and William V. Mowlam. Later when Mr. Hastings died, William V. Mowlam was placed on the building committee, with Mr. Frank Williams and others. The vases on the Alter are, as I understand, in memory of Mr. W. H. Hastings, also one of the processional flags is in memory of A. Carter Pannel, one of Mrs. Hasting's family.
The Architect for the Parish Hall was Harry Blanding and John Carson was the builder, both local men, and the cost was $19,871.75. In the first Parish Meeting in the hall there were 160 present, and there had been no deaths between the two years the hall had been built. The women of the Parish turned Caters again, serving clubs and lodges. They often had to go to the Y.M.C.A. and serve there, as the little Church, serving as Parish Hall, had to be torn down to make way for the
1932 Mr. Mowlam died, he had been Parish Clerk for about 30 years, the Vestry made his older son Clark in his stead, William V. Mowlam.
Mr. Ellis resigned, all called him Uncle Hi. He lived among us until he died, and then Mrs. Ellis passed also among us. The large window on the South, at the rear, in the present Church is for both of these dear souls. Mrs. Ellis gave the Acolytes Mr. Ellis' Cross for the Senior Server to wear.
In 1938, Clarence R. Hayden, Jr. of Denton was called at $1,800 a year, he was really from Waco and is now Bishop of Sacramento California. Under Mr. Hayden, the young people became interested in the Church affairs, the membership rose up over 200. He left about 1942.
Then came a man, during the war, Rev. Mr. Hanson, who went down and met all of the trains as the story goes. He let the parish slip and became very inactive, though the women carried on.
In 1945 the Rev. Mr. Bob Kennaugh was Rector. He married a local girl, and under his leadership the whole parish went on a crusade of knowledge wanting to know about their Church and its teachings .... this crusade continues up to today .. He went to the Canterberry House at S.M.U. in Dallas. He set up a Parocial School here, but was not
too much of a success ... we had the Sisters, and all. He now has a school of his own in New Mexico.
Mr. William Acosta was called, He was great organizer and all of the organizations in the Church were set upon their feet and going fine. He was a poppy little fellow, everything he did was for the Church. He made many mad and some of the new comers into the Church from other Churches, not knowing the ways of the Church, dismissed him pronto. The Bishop had to intervene. This started a faction in the Church. Mr. James Joseph was brought in and seemed to be one that grew on disfaction. Acosta went to New Orleans and is doing fine with a large Church. Joseph went to San Antonio.
The Church was split in factions, and
then the Vestry finally found that there were certain rules to go by. They, in the proper manner, called the Rev. Mr. Fred Wolf from San Marcus. He was of big statute and of big heart ... he listened, and held hands, and smoothed wrinkles, ... and when he got a Fellowship went on his way. He studied Church Law at Oxford and then is now at the State University.
He had us a young Deacon who was
ordained Priest in our church, married a local girl, Linda Johnson, granddaughter of Congressman Luther Johnson, and is now carrying on with a membership of near 300. He is allowing St. john to grow up again and help carry on some of the functions of the Church ... it is working too. He came from Fort Worth. He is The Rev. Mr. Sam Hulsey, son of Dr. and Mrs. Hulsey of Fort Worth.