Thanks for Visiting!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

History Told Through Buildings

Wesley UMC in Oklahoma City sits on the fringe of several historic districts, and is part of two urban development areas, The Asian District and Uptown 23rd.  Sitting majestically at the corner of NW 25 and Classen it towers over the surrounding area. Mere blocks from Oklahoma City University it has shared in its 100+ years a relationship with the university with many faculty, students, and administration serving on its boards, staff, Sunday School teachers, choir members and attendees.
Various church published histories of this church established in 1910 always list three versions of the church: the first wooden structure, affectionately called the "Cow Shed", at NW 32 and Classen; the second, and larger, structure at NW 25th and Douglas (just off of Classen) in 1911. That structure redesigned and augmented the building materials of the first structure in order to make more room.  Not as well documented was the third incarnation of the church, what was lovingly called the "Dutton Tabernacle" improved while Dr. Dean C. Dutton was pastor (1919-1923).  Here, for perhaps the first time, is more accurate chronology of the phases of development for this Methodist Episcopal Church (north).

First service here was Sunday, Dec. 25, 1910 with Bishop William Quayle preaching and Rev. Frank A. Colwell as pastor. Members were accepted that day and children baptized. Bishop Quayle also gave the first $100 to a building fund begun that day. The above building was built using a $300 mission grant from the M.E. North Oklahoma Conference in October 1910. The church formally organized on Nov. 10, 1910.
The "Sheep Shed" at NW 25 and Douglas, just off Classen Blvd.
An addition buts out on the right side for some fifteen feet (ca. 1911/15.).  They moved in the spring of 1911 to this location due to an influx of members with the closing of  Epworth University. The property was purchased for $600.00.  Members recounted tales of the way the tarpaper would whip and rustle in the high Oklahoma winds and remain cold in winter and warm in the summer. In the summer they brought in blocks of ice and set up fans to blow over the congregants to keep them cool. Pastors in these years : Frank A. Colwell (1910-1911); H.C. Betts (1913); Thomas Pingrey (1913); E.R. Houck (1914-1915); J.W. Cater (1915-1916); Charles Clark Smith (1916-1918).
"The Dutton Tabernacle" 1920; You can see the 'bones' of the other structures if you look closely. Aggressive growth, diverse program and strong membership participation saw the church grow to nearly 1,000. Dr. Dean C. Dutton (Ph.D.) was there from 1919-1922.
In 1923 the pastor was J.W. Waldron, J.A. Baldwin (1924) and in 1925 Dr. William Forney Hovis arrived. In 1924/26, F.A. Colwell, first pastor and now a contractor was responsible for tearing down the Dutton Tabernacle to make room for the new sanctuary; a building across NW 25 was used for classes and events. In 1928 the above sanctuary was completed and dedicated. Later, the house was used as a youth and education building, Hadduck Hall. It was torn down in the 1970's.

---Appreciation to Wesley United Methodist Church for use of these photos from their archives collection

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Church Commorative Plates: Wesley UMC (OKC)

First in a series.

As benchmarks in a church's life were achieved there were celebrations and plates were created to mark the anniversary of the birth of the local church in communities across the country.  These are sometimes found in antique stores as well as church files or display cabinets.  They are a unique and fragile piece of church history often expressing notes of history, showing images of long gone buildings, and naming names of leaders long forgotten. Sometimes there merely show an image important to the congregation ( a beloved leader, a church building, a feature of the building, or something reflective of local character and heritage).  Their construction can range from sturdy stoneware to the most fragile and delicate of finer china.
These images are from Wesley United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. The church began life in 1910 as Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1928 they constructed a classic English Gothic sanctuary with stained glass windows at the corner of NW Classen Blvd. and NW 25th.
50th Anniversary Plate, 1960

100th Anniversary Plate, 2010

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Work in Moshulatubbee and South of the Canadian

Before Oklahoma was admitted as a state to the union in 1907, the Choctaw Nation was divided into three districts: Apukshunnubbee, Moshulatubbee, and Pushmataha. They were all named for renowned leaders, spokesman and chiefs.  Each had an administrative center where business, laws, punishments and economic activity was held by the Nation. These were all administered by The Choctaw Nation and had been since their forced removal from the southeast United States in the early 1800's.
  • Apukshunnubbee District included areas known today as the counties of  Haskell, Hughes, Latimer, Le Flore, and Pittsburg.
  • Moshuatubbee District covered original Choctaw counties of  Gaines, Sans Bois, Skullyville, Sugar Loaf, and Tobucksy. It's court house was north east of modern McAlester.
  • Pushmataha District covered the areas known today as Atoka, Bryan, Choctaw, and Pushmataha counties.
Many of the Native Americans who made that forced March to the area of present day Oklahoma had been converted to Methodism in their home territories in the southeast.  The pastors and religious leaders - both European American and Native American - of these Native American Methodists made the march alongside their spiritual brothers and sisters.
According to Bryce's History of Methodism: The Story of the Indian Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal South, there are listings for ministry assignments into all of these districts going back to 1844 or the date of the first Methodist conference in the region of Oklahoma.
A list of the names of the persons sent to work in "Moshulatubee" [sic] in Bryce's work begin in 1844 and end in about 1893. It is unclear if the work faded or was subsumed by other works and appeared under a different designation. Research into the boundaries and labeling for these early works is ongoing. The ministers were often assigned in teams and in this district they were re-assigned periodically. The names provide a starting place for further and more detailed work into these early periods of church work.
L.F. Collins and John Page
E.B. Duncan and D.W. Lewis
William Wilson
G. Bastiste
W.F. Folson
B. Dury
G. Perry
Jakeway Billy
J.B. Luce
William Wetson
A list of the persons sent to what was labeled the "Canadian" begins 1849 and goes to 1856 when it is called the "Canadian School". Then, in 1870 it is labeled once more "Canadian" until 1884 when it is labeled "Canadian District" (with a Presiding Elder designated indicating it was an ecclesiastical district) until 1888 when it is labeled the "Canadian Circuit" until 1889.  That year there is listed both a "South Canadian" and a Canadian District. The District is identified once more with a Presiding Elder until1890 when it is just a name without a designation. That same year again the South Canadian designation is used. In 1891 there is the "Canadian Circuit", in 1893 there is the "South Canadian", in 1895 both a "South Canadian" and a Canadian Circuit, in 1897 a Canadian District and a Canadian (Circuit is assumed).
The names associated with these groups are as follows. Since overlap is unclear they will be listed by the group classification used by Bryce.
John F. Boot (1849-1852)
Walter Carey (1853)
Henry Butler (1870)
John Sevier (1871)
S.P. Hicks (1872)
J.G. Forrester (1895)
Frank Naylor, J.F. Wagman (18896)
Canadian School
James Essex (1856)
Canadian District
C.W. Myatt, Presiding Elder (1885)
W.B. Austin, PE (1889)
G.W. Atkins (1890)
W.P. Pipkin (1891)
C.M. Coppedge, PE (1892)
J.J. Lovett, PE (1896, 1897)
Canadian Circuit
G.S. Yarbourgh (1884)
A.C. Pickens (1887)
South Canadian
R.H. Grinstead
J.F. Wagnon
F.E. Shanks
J.R. Smith
S.J. Oslin (?)
With the entry of the regions of the twin territories of Indian and Oklahoma in the union as the state of Oklahoma in 1907 all of these early Choctaw Nation designations were abandoned as new designations replaced them. Areas once in one county, suddenly found themselves in brand new geographical regions with new names, county seats of government and more.  As the saying goes, there is always "more to the story" and failing to look deeper and wider can mean a loss of historical vision. This was made apparent to this author in investigating the history of the Atwood Church and realizing that there was a vast Methodist work in the larger region going back to a far earlier date than the accepted beginnings designated in some historical volumes.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Companions on the Journey and Tools for the Task

John Wesley, Founder of Methodism, had much to say about the need for the minister to be well read but also thoroughly committed to the Bible.  Wesley spent his time on the long and frequent journeys he undertook riding the countryside of England and Ireland praying and reading.

Wesley wrote this letter to a pastor, John Trembath, of Cork, on August 17, 1760:
To John Trembath CORK, August 17, 1760.
MY DEAR BROTHER,--The conversation I had with you yesterday in the afternoon gave me a good deal of satisfaction. As to some things which I had heard (with regard to your wasting your substance, drinking intemperately, and wronging the poor people of Siberton), I am persuaded they were mistakes; as I suppose it was that you converse much with careless, unawakened people. And I trust you will be more and more cautious in all these respects, abstaining from the very appearance of evil. [See letter of Sept. 21, 1755.] 
That you had not always attended the preaching when you might have done it you allowed, but seemed determined to remove that objection, as well as the other of using such exercises or diversions as give offence to your brethren. I believe you will likewise endeavour to avoid light and trifling conversation, and to talk and behave in all company with that seriousness and usefulness which become a preacher of the gospel. 
Certainly some years ago you was alive to God. You experienced the life and power of religion. And does not God intend that the trials you meet with should bring you back to this You cannot stand still; you know this is impossible. You must go forward or backward. Either you must recover that power and be a Christian altogether, or in a while you will have neither power nor form, inside nor outside.
Extremely opposite both to one and the other is that aptness to ridicule others, to make them contemptible, by exposing their real or supposed foibles. This I would earnestly advise you to avoid.
It hurts yourself; it hurts the hearers; and it greatly hurts those who are so exposed, and tends to make them your irreconcilable enemies. It has also sometimes betrayed you into speaking what was not strictly true. O beware of this above all things! Never amplify, never exaggerate anything. Be rigorous in adhering to truth. Be exemplary therein. Whatever has been in time past, let all men now know that John Trembath abhors lying, that he never promises anything which he does not perform, that his word is equal to his bond. I pray be exact in this; be a pattern of truth, sincerity, and godly simplicity. 
What has exceedingly hurt you in time past, nay, and I fear to this day, is want of reading. I scarce ever knew a preacher read so little. And perhaps by neglecting it you have lost the taste for it. Hence your talent in preaching does not increase. It is just the same as it was seven years ago. It is lively, but not deep; there is little variety; there is no compass of thought. Reading only can supply this, with meditation and daily prayer. You wrong yourself greatly by omitting this. You can never be a deep preacher without it any more than a thorough Christian. O begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises. You may acquire the taste which you have not; what is tedious at first will afterwards be pleasant. Whether you like it or no, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way: else you will be a trifler all your days, and a pretty, superficial preacher. Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer. Take up your cross, and be a Christian altogether. Then will all the children of God rejoice (not grieve) over you, and in particular Yours, &c

It was in this spirit of continual professional and spiritual development that a later minister wrote. Rev. James Murray of the Methodist Episcopal Church noted in an address to the 1889 Conference of the Oklahoma Indian Mission that preachers should "let your library consist largely of the Bible, the Dictionary, the Discipline, the Catechism and the Hymn book..." (Brill, A History of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Oklahoma, 1939, pg. 27)
Early circuit rider of the Indian Territory, Rev. Albert S.J. Haygood always traveled with specific tools in his saddlebags. Thus the Methodist Episcopal Church, South minister carried with him a clean shirt, his Bible, a small edition hymn book, a Discipline, and a copy of the Methodist Armor.  (Turner, A History of Methodism in Holdenville, 1897-1957).

Many of the books are unknown, for example what dictionary did Murray prefer to carry? What versions were available? Where did they acquire them?  Others, thankfully, have been digitized so there is some ability to explore and enjoy the resources these early preachers used to improve themselves in mind and heart.

The Methodist Armor : or, A popular exposition of the doctrines, peculiar usages, and ecclesiastical machinery of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. (Hilary T. Hudson, 1882) is one example. This no doubt served as an ongoing classroom for the wide traveled minister and teacher, Albert S.J. Haygood.

The "Catechism" was most probably  Catechisms of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South , Thomas O. Summers. This 1861 work was widely used in schools, churches, and mission work by the M.E.S.

While it is unclear what copy of the Book of Discipline such ministers might have carried, they would have been similar for M.E.S. ministers to this 1856 version or this M.E. Church 1876 version.

LEGACIES OF LOVE: Robert and Ida Barnard McFarlin

Ida May Barnard McFarlin was one half of a noted Oklahoma family whose generosity made possible many important public, educational and religious institutions and resources in Oklahoma and Texas. As is so often the case, the wives of notable men often become a mere shadow figure in historic records.  Ida May Barnard McFarlin, so often eclipsed by the blazing notoriety and accomplishment of her husband Robert played a significant role in at least two churches thus indicating she from early in their marriage valued matters of faith.
She was born February 12,1868 in Texas and died November 18,  1938 in San Antonio, Texas.  She was the daughter of Benjamin Barnard (born in Tennessee) and Mary K. Gilliland (born in Gainesville, Texas).   She had brothers: Benjamin (1881), John, Charles, H.G, (Homer), C.L.  She had sisters: Mrs. J.D. Boxley, Mrs. O.H. Houghton, Mrs. A.G. Blauner and Miss Cora Barnard.
She married Robert McFarlin in 1886 in Texas and by 1890 they were living in Norman, Oklahoma. She was mother to Leta (1889), Robert (1891-1892), and Pauline (1897). 
The family soon relocated into Indian Territory and then to a farm outside of Holdenville, Oklahoma. According to the church history by Mrs. Turner, A History of Methodist Churches in Holdenville, Oklahoma (1957), Ida May Barnard McFarlin was a charter member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South work in Holdenville.  Her husband would later also join and do work for or with the Trustees of the church. Many of her brothers and a sister were listed in her obituary as still residing in Holdenville in 1938.
In 1903 in Holdenville the McFarlin-Chapman partnership forged a successful series of business ventures spurred on by the happy fact they owned property in the Glenpool oil field. They soon were branching out into real estate, and other successful activities. In 1922 their business, now called McMan, was sold to a subsidiary of Standard Oil for $20 million dollars. 
As a result, many philanthropic donations occurred by the McFarlin family and these included: before 1920 the short-lived McFarlin College in Tulsa, Ok, an  Methodist affiliated college (it then became Kendall and then the University of Tulsa); 1924, McFarlin Memorial Church
Barnard Memorial UMC, Holdenville, OK
This building was dedicated in 1929.
It was founded in 1897
however its roots can be traced to
1888 according to some sources.
in Norman, Oklahoma (a congregation that had seen them through the tragic loss of their infant son); 1929, the McFarlin Memorial Library at the University of Tulsa; an auditorium at Southern Nazarene University in Dallas. That same year, he forgave a $30,000 construction debt note held by the M.E. Church, South in Holdenville, Oklahoma  As a result, the church's board of trustees voted to give naming rights to the McFarlin family. As a result, the church was named "Barnard Memorial" in honor of her brother Benjamin Barnard who died in his 20's.

Some Early African American Work in Oklahoma Methodism

  • Island Ford (along Grand River; an African American work)
    Camp Meeting of the 2nd
    Awakening Period of American
    Church History; illustrative
    of the work of early preachers in remote
  • Snow Creek (along the Verdigris; an African American work)
  • Salt Creek (South side of the Arkansas River; African American)
  • Wyandotte Mission, which had been birthed from the work of an African American in Ohio, transplanted to the area of Baxter Springs, Kansas and then south into Indian Territory.
As found, names of early ministers and members will be listed as well. According to the work on Oklahoma Methodism by Clegg and Oden it is noted that when James Iliff was placed as superintendent of the Wyandotte Mission work he held quarterly conferences and at one of these Arthur Bean, "a Negro, was licensed to preach and immediately appointed to Island Ford, which was part of the Snow Creek Circuit." It was noted in the Clegg work that several such men met in the annual conference sessions of the Indian Mission for renewal of licenses and appointments as pastors "intermittently" (pg. 36).

---Sources, Teepee to Towers, A History of Methodism, pg. 65
    Clegg and Oden. Oklahoma Methodism in the Twentieth Century,1968

Oklahoma Methodism Before 1889: Some Notes

In mid-March of 1889 the first session of the Indian Mission Conference was held at Tulsa in the Creek Nation and saw Methodist Episcopal, North Superintendent, Rev. James Murray reporting on numerous works already in operation in eastern Oklahoma, then known as Indian Territory.

Locations mentioned include work going on at:

Purcell (Chickasha Nation)
Cameron (on the Frisco line, 14 miles south of Ft. Smith; railroad development played a key role in early church expansion)
Island Ford (along Grand River; an African American work)
Snow Creek (along the Verdigris; an African American work)
Prairie City ("more nominal than real"; a work near Afton)
Salt Creek (South side of the Arkansas River; African American)
Cache (a work among the Choctaws)
New Hope (a Choctaw seminary for girls)
Oak Lodge
Short Mountain (near Ft. Smith)
Caney (west of Verdigris near Double Creek)
Bartlesville ( termed an "old charge")
Source: Brill, A History of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Oklahoma, 1939, pg.23

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Who Was Rev. A.S.J. Haygood?

Few details have emerged so far concerning this early circuit riding preacher of Methodism.   From various sources a brief summary of his life and work can be known.
Early Methodist minister Albert Sidney Johnson Haygood born April 13, 1862 in Alabama into the Methodist home of John William Haygood and died in 1926 in Texas. His wife was Elizabeth and he was father to, at least, two children.  He married Elizabeth Hilseweck (b. Aug. 1870) in about 1896 based on his response to the census taker in 1900 (he had been married for 4 years) and father two daughters, Aline (b 1898, OK) and Alberta (b.1905).  Albert, Elizabeth, Aline and mother-in-law Esther Hilseweck nee Keiry or Kerry (b. Nov. 1834 in Ireland) are listed on the 1900 census in Township 19, Creek Nation, Indian Territory (Tulsa). 
A M.E., South minister, by his 1897 appointment he had been in the conference for three years serving at Purcell, Atoka, and Calvin.  In Nov. 1896 he was assigned to Calvin and Atwood.  He, along with his wife, often taught school (then by subscription) and is thought to have taught such a school in the log cabin church at Atwood in his tenure there 1896-1897. He frequently forded the South Canadian River that blocked easy access from the south to points north (such as the location of Holdenville).
His work as a circuit riding preacher meant that he often had to ford the South Canadian River and Wewoka Creek during flood.  In Turner's history of the Methodist work in Holdenville it is recounted how he carried in his saddlebags an extra shirt and his important books (Bible. Methodist Discipline, Hymnal, etc.).
In the spring of 1897 he organized a church three miles south of Holdenville (then Fentress) and by the November annual conference he was formally assigned and moved there.  In 1898 he was once again teaching in a  subscription school in the Holdenville church.
It was apparently his custom, and possibly all of Methodism to use anchor churches and create circuits of newer churches. Thus in the spring of 1898 he organized work  at Wetumka and Wewoka.  There was prior to this year a work listed in Wewoka in the Indian Mission Conference. Due to language barriers, cultural differences and prejudices there was little interaction between the indigenous and newcomer populations.  This led to a duplication and, if the African American components of the various areas is also considered, a three way split of resources that would ultimately prove to be draining and counter productive to the purpose of the work of Methodism in the areas under discussion.

In the March 23, 1898 edition of the newspaper Our Brother in Red (South McAlester, I.T.) there is  a story about Haygood. "Rev. A.S.J. Haygood reports the advent of a fine daughter at the parsonage in Holdenville, Of course, he "just had to return" on the next train.... This is a case of "pardonable haste."  We extend congratulations. It is not clear were he was that necessitated a speedy return to be with his family but it does bring a touching aspect of humanity to the life of a circuit rider and early Methodist minister.

Again from Turner's work comes a description of his early work. His usual procedure for conducting a service was to line out a hymn (such as "I Love Thy Kingdom Lord"), pray, and then preach.  In his saddle bags he carried a clean shirt, his Bible, a small edition hymn book, a Discipline, and a copy of the The Methodist armor : or, A popular exposition of the doctrines, peculiar usages, and ecclesiastical machinery of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. (Hilary T. Hudson, 1882) (Turner, A History of Methodism in Holdenville, Oklahoma, 1957, pg. 14).
It is believed he may have served in the Tulsa area for two years and then went to New Mexico, probably about or before 1907.  He is found listed in several obituaries of funerals conducted in Texas during and after WW 1. He is buried in the San Marcos Cemetery, Hays Co., Texas.

The answer to the basic question of who was the Rev. A.S.J. Haygood is that he was an early Methodist Episcopal Church, South circuit riding preacher who lived and worked in early day Indian Territory and beyond.
Modern view of the South Canadian River Rev. Haygood would have had to cross on his circuit.

Some early events in Oklahoma Methodism

In 1844, at Riley's Chapel near Tahlequah, the first ever Methodist conference was held in what would become known as Oklahoma.  It was a historic year for Methodism, It was the year the church divided itself over unreconciled differences over the issues of slavery and the authority of the larger church over the individual conferences. It was a microcosm in some ways of the larger issues in society over slavery and states' rights against federal authority. 
In 1871 in far northeastern Oklahoma the Wyandotte Mission work settled into place having moved south from Kansas under Rev. John Iliff.  The work had been begun by a African American in Ohio who had helped the Wyandotte people move their tribal lands to southeast Kansas and then into north eastern Indian Territory.
There were several significant African American works in that region of Indian Territory by 1873 and in 1881 when Iliff was named supervisor of the Indian Territory region they were under his guidance.
In 1889 the last Indian Mission  Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was held in Tulsa.
In 1909, the Indian Territory Mission became the East Oklahoma Mission.
In 1939, at the union of the M.E., South, the M.E., and the Methodist Protestant Church. there had been a total of 48 annual conference sessions of the M.E. Church.

Atwood Methodist Church

Research is still going on but a brief history of the church is that it emerged around 1888 and was in the area considered by the Methodist Episcopal Church South and North as the "South Canadian Circuit".  It was organized in 1888, according to a work by Turner on the History of the Methodist Church at Holdenville (1957), as having its birth on the back porch of the home of Sloan Love.  Approximately ten became charter members and their names included families named Holman, Connalys, Cain, Carder, and the T. Whaleys. The church is closed.

According to "History of the Methodist Church in Holdenville, 1897-1957", the church at Atwood of the Methodist Episcopal, South was begun on the back porch of Sloan Love's in the summer of 1888 (pg.2). At that time there was apparently no Atwood, as a work called Oklahoma Place Names says it was not named thus until 1909 and replaced an earlier name from 1897 of Newburg. I have not found any mentions of location names prior to that. Exploring the founding individual for whom Atwood was named provides some clues. Chester Atwood settled in what was known as the Mushulatubbee District of the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory. Settling in western Tobucksy County. At statehood in 1907 the lines of the Choctaw Nation were re-drawn and Newburg found itself in eastern Hughes County. Then in 1909 the name was changed to Atwood. Thus it is possible that a history of the Methodist work in or near Atwood might be traced back to 1844.
1909 Map (Note Newburg)
According to most printed history, such as Turner and Clegg,the first known pastor is believed to be a man named Whiteside.  He was followed by Wagman, Shank, D.D. Mullins, Maybry (is this F. Maybery who transferred into Oklahoma in 1872 according to the work by Clegg and Oden?), and in 1897, A.S.J. Haygood.  The area has a rich history of Methodism that goes back far earlier and to understand it one much know that the area was once part of the Choctaw Nation and that there was an early indigenous work in the region and it can be found in early records back to 1844 under that name and in a related work called "Canadian" (see related article).
The first church was a log cabin structure and the second was a 'lumber building' located some 1-2 miles southeast of the log cabin.  Later the church was named "Anderson Memorial Methodist Church" due to donations by a family of that name living in Boggy Depot.
Photos of the church, pastors or people can be shared by emailing the page (see contact).