History Told by
The following history is reprinted from the golden anniversary edition of The Concho Herald dated October 11, 1940: Time was when I was just a little girl, and we had Sunday School and Church in the building now known as the Willbanks apartment house. The firs Sunday school was organized by Mr. J. W. Ratchford, who was the first superintendent, Mr. Ratchford was faithful to his work as long as he was able to go. The courthouse was built in Paint Rock in 1886, and for a time the second floor was used as a place of worship on Sundays. What a thrill it was in my young live to enjoy the privilege of going to such a beautiful new building to church services. This was a union service, and was attended by all denominations, and the house was full every Sunday. There were some objections to climbing the stairs, so the Ladies Aid Society was organized with the particular object in mind of financing a house especially for church services. My mother, Mrs. J. W. Norman, was a charter member of this organization. I can remember several of the ladies; Grandma Bose was the first president. Some of the other members were: Mrs. D. E. Sims, Mrs. Melton, Mrs. S. O. Crunk, Mrs. M. S. Crunk, Mrs. Swofford, Mrs. Mullins, Mrs. Cushman, Mrs. C. J. Reaves, Mrs. Lewis Proctor, Mrs. Dye, Mrs. Joe Crunk, Mrs. Mapes, and perhaps several others whom I have forgotten. The whole town was enthusiastic about the idea of a new chur ch. Oyster suppers were held; ice cream parties, pie suppers and various dinners, quiltings, concerts, bazaars, and every conceivable means of raising money was used, so intense was the interest. The time soon came for the laying of a cornerstone. There was a barbecue, and people from all around were there to witness the laying of the stone. The Masonic Lodge was in charge, assisted by the Knights Templar from Ballinger. They all looked grand in their frock-tailed coats, black velvet hats with white ostrich plumes. It was a great occasion for Paint Rock. I recall the Grand Master putting in a Bible, some barley, corn and wine. Then he asked if anyone had anything they would like to deposit therein before the stone was sealed. A girl, a friend of mine, put in a letter, and a I am still wondering what was in that letter. Then the stone was sealed. On it is carved: "Laid by the Grand Masons of Texas, August 26, 1891. Lodge 613, J. W. Norman, builder."
All the people around were interested in the new building. We watched it grow from day to day until in May 1892 it was completed. Reverend G. W. Swofford preached the first sermon in the church. Following are some of the pastors whom I can remember: Rev. Black, Rev. Rector, Rev. Potter, Rev. Allen, Rev. Bledworth, Rev. Bowen, Rev. Clark, Rev. Cole, Rev. Davis, Rev. Dunn, Rev. Ezell, Rev, Fisher, Rev. Olds, Rev. Gibbons, Rev Hardt, Rev. Hightower, Rev. Whitaker, Rev. Lane, Rev. Leggett, Rev. Drake, and Rev. Williamson.
The church was not paid for and we all continued to work any way we could and many donations were made. We had dinners; we even picked cotton, but we finally got it paid out and the dedication services were at hand. The question arose as to what the church should be called as there were Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics all interested. A meeting to decide the question was called, which was generally attended. It was decided that the church was to be called Methodist Church though it was used by all denominations alike. We had a superannuated preacher, Brother carver, then living in Paint Rock who was asked to dedicate our church.
W. C. Montgomery's Sunday School class raised most of the month (money) to buy the bell. Mr. Montgomery told us many times how proud he was of us and the bell, for it was a real pleasure for him to hear that bell on Sunday morning calling him and all others.
I love this old church. It has many memories, both pleasing and sad, for me. It is my "Church in the Wildwood" and is no less to me than that church was to the writer of that memorable song. No longer am I a little girl. I suppose I have grown to be the mother of this church. May I always be at my post, and when I am no more, may the memory of me be a pleasant one to my many younger friends.
Masons Held Cornerstone Ceremony
summer of 1891, the Paint Rock Lodge No. 613A. F. & A. M. were asked to lay
the cornerstone for the community's new church building.
Lodge minutes reveal that, "This lodge was requested by Bro. W. T. Melton 'for church committee' to lay the cornerstone of the M. E. Church South at Paint Rock on August 26, 1891.
"On motion duly carried Bros. W. c. Montgomery and H. M Garden were appointed a committee to write to M> W. G. M. G. W. Tyler and apply for dispensation to lay the cornerstone of the M. E. Church South, now being erected at Paint Rock, on August 26, 1891.
"On motion duly carried the worshipful master and secretary were instructed to write and invite Ballinger Commandery No. 28 to attend and assist in laying the cornerstone of the church..."
In mid-August, minutes of a called meeting duly record receipt of this dispensation and plans to make the occasion very special. The lodge began arrangements for a picnic dinner on Hog Creek for all of Paint Rock's families.
When the hour arrived for the cornerstone ceremony, 18 local lodge brethren were joined by members of the Ballinger lodge plus several other visitors and marched in procession to the church. After their task was completed "according to the custom and usages of Ancient Free Masonry: after which our Bro. M. W. P. G. M. Norton Moses delivered an address."
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Background Art work by DANNY HAHLBOHM
Thank you George and Danny for allowing me to use your work.