First United Methodist Church
Friday, July 21, 2017

History of our Church

"160-170" years of Celebration and Homecoming

of the Daingerfield Methodist Church

Submitted by Claudia McGill, Church Historian 

 

First in a series:
In 1846, early deed records refer to a forty acre tract of land operated by the Methodist, adjoining the old town site and described as "the campground of the Methodist". Even though the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches were organized early, there were no church buildings constructed in Daingerfield until about 1856. 

In 1856, the first church building was erected in "old town" by the Methodist.  At this time all denominations held their services in the Methodist Church. The Church was located on or about where the old Plumb Grocery store later stood. (Possibly the corner of King and Lamar Streets).  The Methodist Church was organized in Daingerfield in 1856 by Miss Molly Beaver.  Miss Beaver and Rev. H. M. Mathis were the first teachers at the first public school in Daingerfield. History has it that Miss Beaver gave the best part of her life teaching in both the public and private schools of Daingerfield. Those students who studied under her, remember her as the first and last woman wearing hoops throughout her lifetime. 

This church was a member of the Marshall District from 1858 to 1866.  Prior to that, it was recorded as part of the Arkansas District as early as 1835. Records show Methodist Circuit Rider, John H. Carr serving the Sulphur Ford Mission which included Daingerfield.

After the business section of "Old Town" was destroyed by fire in the late 1870's it was rebuilt 1/4 mile south to be near the M. K. T. (Missouri, Kansas and Texas) Railway station.   A committee was appointed to select a site for a new Methodist Church building in the "New Town". Those serving on the committee were J.H. Wise, J. G. Hussey, D.T. Colquitt, J.M. Moore and J. Frank Jones.

They purchased the present lot from Mr. and Mrs. S.J. Cramer for the sum of $225.00 on June 9, 1893.  A building committee was appointed of the following members. J. M. Moore, J. G. Hussey, H. L. Lawton, J. H. Wise and J. F. Jones.   The church building was erected by one Watt Lawton in the summer of 1893 and the new frame church was dedicated in November 1893. That building was maintained by the Methodist congregation until 1926 when it was removed and the lumber sold to St. James Methodist Episcopal Church (colored).

  • History of Daingerfield by Jo Ann McKellar
  • A Study of The Daingerfield Methodist Church (building proposal written around 1950-1951 by Daingerfield Methodist Church)
  • History of the Daingerfield Methodist Church as told to  Mrs. John M. Henderson, member of the Methodist church  (by Miss Molly Beaver and other pioneer families)
  • Local church history documents given to Claudia McGill by family members and friends of the community.

 

Second in a series:

NEW CHURCH - 1st Brick Methodist Church, present site     

A new church was begun June 4, 1926 on the same site.  R. E. Beaird (1924-1928), Pastor of the church, was architect, purchaser, and supervisor of the new building.  J. H. Phillips of Texarkana, Texas was the labor contractor.  The building committee consisted of members: Rev. R. E. Beaird, W. O. Irvin, J. B. Williams, C. G. Connor, W. T. Connor, Jr. and A. D. Lilley.

   

The building cost $13,500.00; the furniture cost $2,732.00, all of which was paid on the completion of the building. The Women's Missionary Society raised $900.00 for the purchase of a new Grand Piano by taking turns as Sexton of the church.  The piano was purchased for $750.00.

 

The Daingerfield Methodist Church had secured Governor Dan Moody as the speaker for the Cornerstone Laying Service that was to be held during February while the building was still under construction.  This service had to be postponed due to the illness of the Governor.  Bishop Sam R. Hay dedicated the building March 11, 1928.  There are no known photographs at this writing, only a drawing by Sue Hooton done in the 1940's.

 

Pastors serving in this church building:  1924-1928, R. E. Beaird; 1928-1930, J. M. Ball; 1930-1931, Steward O'Dell; 1931-1932, Rev. Reed; 1932-1936, A. A. Rider.

 

On December 15, 1935, fire of unknown origin destroyed this beautiful House of Worship.  The Grand piano that the Women's Society had donated to the church that is still used today in our present sanctuary was hoisted above the heads of seven men.  Lead by Professor C. T. Speed, and stepping over the tops of the pews, with embers falling around them they carried the piano to safety.  (The piano also escaped the fire of 1950.  It was located in the Education Building at the time.)

The Reverend A. A. Rider (1932-1936) with $10,000.00 insurance from the other building started plans to rebuild.  The interim services were held at the Courthouse.  On December 18, 1935, the Quarterly Conference met at the Courthouse with the Rev. H. I. Robinson presiding and appointed the following as the Building Committee for a new church:  W. O. Irvin, W. T. Connor, Jr., J. Y. Bradfield, H. L. Lawton, W. A. Hooton, J. G. Dalby, and J. B. Irvin.

 

 

2nd Brick Methodist Church, present site

This brick church was completed in July, 1936 with the Reverend A. A. Rider serving as pastor.  First services in the new church were planned for Sunday, July 19, 1936-Dedication Sunday, July 26, 1936.  Pastors serving in this Church structure:  1932-1936, A. A. Rider; 1936-1938, Bernard Hatch; 1938-1940, H. C. Willis; 1940-1943, J. Harvy Carlin; 1943-1945, A. C. Bell; 1945-1946, M. M. Davis; 1946-1947, H. V. Watts; 1947-1950, Leo Hopkins; and 1950-1954, Jewel Strong.  This beautiful structure was destroyed by fire November 5, 1950.  

 

After this, Sunday morning services were held in the Picture Show (Movie Theater), and evening services were held at the Presbyterian Church.  Sunday School was also held in the Picture Show Building (Theater).  The Men's Sunday School Class met in the Chapel at the Mortuary. Reverend Jewel Strong was pastor. 

 

  • *History of the Daingerfield Methodist Church, 1856-1944, Compiled by the Intermediate Class of the Vacation Bible School-August 7-16, 1944                                               
  • *History of the Daingerfield Methodist Church as told to Mrs. John M. Henderson by Miss Molly Beaver and other pioneer families
  • *1983 Bi-Centennial Project Commission on Archives and History, Texas Annual Conference, UMC
  • *Our Heritage Story, written and compiled by Terrell Connor, Jr., member of Daingerfield Methodist Church
 
 
Third in a series:
In July of 1936, two days before the church dedication, Mrs. Louisa Williams penned a letter that would be placed in the cornerstone of the new church. The following is a copy of that letter.


   LETTER FROM MRS. LOUISA WILLIAMS PLACED IN ORNERSTONE OF THE FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, DAINGERFIELD, TX, JULY 24, 1936

             Some of my friends asked that I write something to be placed in the cornerstone of our new Methodist Church.  I said no, but when my pastor, Bro. Rider, said yes, he wanted me too, I answered I would try.  Am somewhat at a loss to know just what to write.  Well, this is the fourth Methodist Church built in Daingerfield.  The first one, built in the old town 60 years ago, I joined.  Was very happy and still happy that I am a member.  I am a charter member of the Missionary Society, having joined 45 years ago.  I am 75 years old and feel it is a great blessing to belong to the Methodist Church and Missionary Society.  I taught a beginners' class in the Methodist Church 30 years.  Little did I think I would live to see preachers, lawyers, farmers, trained nurses, merchants, mechanics, farmers, airplane flyers, and doctors come from that little class.  I am so glad that I had the privilege of trying to help them well so many years ago.
            Now is so different in many ways.  Then the preachers were the only ones that had a songbook.  He would say, "Let's sing", and would read two lines.  He and the congregation would sing until the hymn was finished.  Then he would say, "Let's pray".  Everybody knelt down to pray.  Now they stand or sit.  I like the old way and believe we should kneel unless we are too old or have the rheumatism too bad to kneel.  Then they seemed happy and how they would shout God's praises aloud and they would say Amen.  We seldom hear that now.  My dear companion was loyal and ever ready to attend the services.  I believe that should be the life of everyone that loves God.  I often wonder why people want to live in a town or community where there is a church and seldom if ever attend the services. Life is so short at the longest, so let's get busy loving and serving God while we live. - 
Mrs. Louisa Williams  


 

Fourth in a series

     Daingerfield has always been a school and church town. Our forefathers realized the importance of education as a means of training our youth. The first public building in early times usually served as the place for educational training.  In Daingerfield, where the Methodist and Presbyterian had established control, these groups were highly revered.
     Before the year 1870 there were no public schools.  Students that attended school were required to pay tuition. Two dollars per month was the usual tuition fee for elementary grades. Students in the higher grades usually had to pay a monthly tuition of four dollars. The school terms were usually only six months, three months in the summer and three months during the winter. By dividing the school term in this way, students were able to help with the farm planting and crop gathering. In these early schools students were not classified by grades.  Instead their advancement came with the completion of textbooks.  

     The earliest formal education in Daingerfield began between 1841 and 1842. At this time a Reverend James Graham, circuit rider for the Sulphur Fork Circuit, Arkansas Conference, Methodist Church and his mother-in-law conducted a school here.  The Reverend Graham, his wife, and mother-in-law, who came from Tennessee, opened this school for girls. This girl's school was well-organized and staffed.  It was very successful and at different times there were as many as seventy-five boarding students from different states throughout the South attending the school..

     On January 8, 1849, Allen Urquhart gave land for a college on condition with the Marshall Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church that it be built at Daingerfield. The proposition was accepted. The school was opened on the first Monday in February, 1852, in an unfinished wooden building with Rev. Stokely R. Chadick (seen in photo) Cumberland Presbyterian Minister (1818–1909) as the teacher. This was an academy for boys.

     In 1852, there was a boarding school for girls known as the Sylvia Academy operating in Daingerfield.  This school was unknown until the Historical Society found a letter postmarked "Brownstown, Arkansas, January 16, 1852." It was addressed by a loving father to his daughter at Sylvia Academy, Daingerfield, Texas. 

 This is a quote from the father's letter: "Should you misimprove the time you spend at the school it would be highly criminal.  After so much friendship and liberality on the part of your teachers should you not reflect credit upon them it would be quite ungrateful (I cannot use another word) dear child, had you a multitude of teachers, application on your part is still absolutely necessary."

      In 1852, a Presbyterian College was built near where the Presbyterian Church stands.  This college known as Chapel Hill College was one of the finest schools in its day.  It's main curriculum was designed for the purpose of training young men for the Presbyterian ministry from 1852 until 1869 and was closed due to lack of finances and students. 

     In the late 1850's Mr. W. A. Beason, a graduate of Lebanon, Tennessee, came to Daingerfield.  Here in connection with Mr. Chadick's academy he established a college for men.  Beason College, as it is known was conducted in a large log building.  Later it combined with Chapel Hill College and moved to the brick building located where the Presbyterian Church and A. T. Hooten home now stand.  This school was considered a marvel of its time.  The Cumberland Presbyterians gave Beason College large support, and many students went forth as ministers, even governors, teachers in universities and lawyers.

     After the Civil War the brick building of the college was condemned due to a crack in the wall.  Beason College was torn down, dismantled and the bricks were shipped to Tehuacana.  Due to lack of good railroad facilities, location and other causes, the Presbyterians thought a more adequate location would be Waxahachie; therefore the college was moved there in 1902.  At this time it was known as Trinity University.  Finally in 1942, the Presbyterians moved this college to San Antonio; so today, the original Chapel Hill and Beason College is still known as Trinity University.

     Just before the beginning of the Civil War, probably between 1858 and 1862, a Methodist minister by the name H. A. Matthews came to Daingerfield.  His purpose and plan was to establish a Methodist College in Daingerfield.  It was believed that Reverend Matthews was the leader in having the Chapel Hill College building condemned.  Nevertheless, it was in 1859 that a Methodist College was located near where the old High School gymnasium stood. (Present location of the Morris County Courthouse)  This college was built by capital raised in the sale of stock.  Due to the fact that much opposition was aroused, the school was never successful.  Soon the Methodist moved the college faculty to Gilmer.  Those left in Daingerfield united with Beason College, thus making it co-educational until after the Civil War.

     About five years after the Civil War, the first public school of Daingerfield was built of lumber on the old school campus just north of the old academy building which had already been torn down.  This frame building contained four classrooms and a large auditorium. Mathis, and Miss Mollie Beaver were the first teachers.  H.M. Mathis served the Daingerfield Methodist Church from 1875-1878 as Pastor.  Miss Beaver gave the best part of her life teaching in both the public and private schools of Daingerfield.  Those students, who studied under her, remember her as the first and last woman wearing hoops (under her dress) throughout her lifetime.

     It was in 1880 this school, known as Daingerfield High School, was operating under the name of the Jefferson District High School.  In 1902 the Daingerfield Independent School District was incorporated.  Then in 1906 the Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South transferred their Daingerfield school properties to the Independant School District.  According to Gammel's Laws of Texas, Daingerfield had been issued the right to operate a high school as early as 1873.
References: 

  • *"History of Daingerfield" by Jo Ann McKellar, East Texas State University, 1966;
  • *Conference Archives of the United Methodist Church
  • *The Banner of Peace, January 14, 1848, Vol. 6 (Picture and information about S.R. Chadwick)

Fifth in a series

On November 5, 1950, fire destroyed the third church that had been built on the present site.  Once again the Elders of the church rose to plan for a new House of Worship for the great people of Daingerfield.  So, out of the ruble and debris on a now vacant lot, a new and finer church will rise as a place where they can worship God unimpeded for generations to come. 

In 1950, a publication titled "A Study of The Daingerfield Methodist Church was printed and given to all members as a Building and Financial Program and Plan to establish a "new and finer" church to house its present membership of four hundred and fifty. 

The following are excerpts taken from that printed study:

    A new and finer church to provide for known future needs and in part for anticipated future needs.  Daingerfield is today in an area witnessing the beginning of a great industrial growth, an industrial expansion that will change not only the unaffected atmosphere of a small town but more truly the economy of Northeast Texas and the entire Southwest.

     With this expansion will come new businesses and new jobs and new people.  With these people there will come an increased need, an increased demand, for the opportunity to worship and place to worship.  The people of Daingerfield are faced with a challenge.  The membership of the Daingerfield church in particular are faced with a challenge.  By providing an adequate house of worship, the Daingerfield Methodist Church can help water the flower of Christianity to help it grow and flourish in an area where the need today is great and tomorrow unbounded.

IV.  PURPOSE TO BE SERVED:  

  (A) A place of worship.  It must have sufficient capacity to accommodate our present needs and also our needs for the added residents who will want to join us in the worship of God.  We may reasonably expect our town to more than double in population during the next three years and our church membership should increase in direct proportion.  

 (B) A place of Christian Fellowship.  We must have a place suitable and capable of accommodating our membership in activities which are a part of our church life, and outside the Church service itself.  

 (C)  A place to carry out our youth program to develop the mind.  It is important that we have a place where our young folks can meet and enjoy Christian fellowship.  It is important that young people should be brought under church influence at times in addition to the preaching service and church school.  

 (D)  A place to serve the needs of Christian group activity.  Our women's groups need to have a pleasant meeting place for the encouragement of their various Christian activities and such a meeting place will encourage the growth and development of other groups for Christian purposes.  

  (E)  A place to welcome new citizens into the church.  To make for them and ourselves a better life and a finer town.  Man, irrespective of his work in life, needs God.  He needs a place to worship God.  He needs a point to anchor his soul and from which he can study and advance God's work.

      The structure will house 8100 square feet and provide a splendid place of worship and study.  Attractively decorated, it will combine comfort and durability and give to Daingerfield one of the finest church facilities in this general area.  It is designed to accommodate all those needs for which a church is intended and specifically those set forth in part IV.

     The building of the new Daingerfield Methodist Church will provide a house of worship.  We cannot build this church without being better citizens and making better citizens.  We cannot build this church without making Daingerfield a better town and a finer more enjoyable place to live.  We cannot build this church without providing a place of morals and character building for our young people, without improving in mind and spirit those young people who are the leaders of tomorrow for our community, our state, and our nation.  We cannot build this church without advancing God's work and the cause of Christianity to which a troubled world must turn if all things we hold worthwhile are to be saved.  We cannot build this church without exerting a powerful positive Christian influence.   We cannot build this church without YOU!

      Let us work together that this church may become a bulwark against Fear, against Evil, against all that is wrong.  Let us work together that this Daingerfield Methodist Church , will stand as a monument for good that may cause men to kneel for the next one hundred years to thank Almighty God for this vision, to thank Almighty God for this --a House of Worship!

 

Sixth in a Series
After the fire in 1950 destroyed yet another beautiful house of worship, the faithful and courageous men and women of the Methodist Church were committed and dedicated to rebuild a third brick church.  From the rubble and debris on a now cleared and vacant lot a new church was begun in 1951. It was completed and dedicated in 1952, Rev. Jewel Strong was pastor.  The dedication of all memorials inside the sanctuary including the new organ at that time was dedicated on May 16, 1954.  Bishop A. Frank Smith led the Dedication of Memorials and Organ for the Methodist Church in Daingerfield. The Children's Education Building was built on the north side of the Sanctuary and faced Frazier St.  It was designed by member, Madeline Hoff and built around 1950-1952.  Many babies, children and youth came to know about the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ as they passed through the doors and spent many hours with teachers of this great education building.  In later years, it also became the home to the Key Fellowship Class, Beacon Class and the Men's Bible Class alongside the nursery and Children's Classes. It served the church well for over 60 years and due to many building repairs, the church decided to take this structure down and build a new and more modern educational building. Under the leadership of Danny McCain, Chairman of the Administrative Board and Chief Architect for the Design of the new Building, work was begun with demolition on April 27, 2013 by Howard Bros. Construction Company.  A Groundbreaking Ceremony was held on Sunday, May 19, 2013, immediately following Morning Worship.  The Pastor, Dan Gilliam, along with Danny McCain, Chairman of the Administrative Church Council, Michael Clifton, Chairman of the Trustees, Members of the Trustees; Scott Dews, Pat Howard, Claudia McGill, Children; Chloe and Kaylee Brown, Aaron and Hunter Howard, Harley and Riley Scholl, Kade and Kylee Strickland broke the ground to officially begin our new education building and work was begun on June 13, 2013 after obtaining a Building Permit.  It was completed one year after beginning, June 13, 2014 and dedicated on June 29, 2014.  On July 11, 2014, First United Methodist Church hosted an Open House for the members of the church and community.
 

In 1995, the church purchased the Oneita Hooker house located at the northeast corner of Peters St. and Ochiltree St.  It was removed and through many generous donations a gymnasium style fellowship building was built to house a classroom for Youth and plenty of room for all activities for the church.  It was complete with kitchen and storage facilities. It was completed in 1998.  Many youth from all denominations enjoyed fellowships sponsored by the U.M.Y.F of the Methodist church of Daingerfield. This facility was named "Methodist Activity Center" and thus has taken the name "MAC" building for those in the church who know it best.  Through many ups and downs of the economy and loss of many members through moves and deaths, the Daingerfield Methodist Church still stands strong and serves as a place of refuge, comfort and feelings of home to many, with a membership of 265.  

With GOD's help, the Methodist Church will continue to grow and thrive as we look to the future of spreading the Gospel of JESUS and sharing GOD's Love to the communities and parishes of the World!

We are a Church with Biblical Roots and a History of Dedicated Members to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!!! To GOD be the Glory for the Things He Has
Done!!!!

Thank you for the opportunity to be called to preserve the History of this body of believers at First United Methodist Church in Daingerfield, Texas. 

Respectively submitted,
Claudia L. McGill, Church Historian
First United Methodist Church
Daingerfield, Texas