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ARCHER COUNTY, TEXAS

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SINGING THE LORD’S SONG 

A HISTORY OF METHODISM AT

ARCHER CITY, TEXAS

1882-1982

Transcribed by Christina Palmer

 1889-1914

 

1914-1951

 

1951-

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

             I.      “FOR ALL THE SAINTS”                                                       1

          II.      “A CHARTE TO KEEP  I HAVE”                                           9

       III.      “WE GIVE THEE BUT THINE OWN”                                    10

      IV.      “CHRIST IS MADE THE SURE FOUNDATATION”              11

         V.      “TRUEHEARTED, WHOLEHEARTED”                                 17

      VI.      “BLEST BE THE TIE THAT BINDS”                                      20

 

Page 1 

“FOR ALL THE SAINTS”

     The place:... West Cross Timbers area on the North Texas roll-

ing plains. It is often an area of rare beauty, as at sunrise

and sunset, the wonder. of God's handiwork is celebrated in glori-

ous color as twilight shadows soften the lines of low hills. It

is an area demanding of i,ts people a hardiness, both physical

and spiritual, to cope with a climate as capricious as the West

Texas winds. An area parched, thirsty for the life-giving rains,

or an area plagued by flooding, an area burning under the relent-

less heat of summer; or an area shivering from the Arctic blasts

of winter. Intersperced throughout these extreme conditions are

periods of beautiful days, soft winds, colorful flowers. Some

would call it God's country.

     The year: 1880. Sett1ers were moving into this area in

goodly numbers to work on cattle ranches, to farm, to become

merchants, to find a new beginning on the frontier.

     So it came about that a group of these hardy souls, feeling

the need of spiritual leadership petitioned the North Texas

Conference of the Methodist Church to include Archer City on its

list of pastoral appointments. In those early years, according

to Methodist historian, Walter N. Vernon, the line between North

Texas Conference and Northwest Texas Conference was not clearly

defined. As a result, in 1880 the Northwest Texas Conference

listed in its appointments, "Archer Mission, To Be Supplied."

In 1881 Northwest Texas Conference appointed Jeremiah Farmer to

Archer Mission; on reaching Archer Mission he found that it

Page 2

belonged mainly to the North Texas Conference, and he was then

assigned to Seymour Mission. On November 30, 1881, the 15th

Session of the North Texas Annual Conference met at Greenville

with Bishop H. H. Kavanaugh presiding. A gentleman recommended

by the Quarterly Conference. Coffeeville Church, Jefferson Dis-

trict, was admitted on trial as a pastor. This man, D. D. Duncan,

was then appointed to Archer Mission for the ensuing year.

     Though records for this period are scant, we can assume Mr.

Duncan's duties were those of a circuit rider, meaning long

hours by buggy or horseback over crude roads to bring God's word

to his scattered flock. After one year the record of the North

Texas Annual Conference reads that D. D. Duncan, his character

questioned and passed, was discontinued at his own request. The

conference record describes Archer Mission, Montague District, as

embracing all of Archer and part of Jack Counties. Its pastor

was on an appropriation of $100, five hundred people were fur-

nished with the gospel, ten souls were converted and eight added

to the church. Church membership was thirty-five. No property

was owned, but $15 was collected for missions. At the end of the

conference, I. N. Crutchfield was appointed to Archer Mission.

     In 1883 the record describes Archer Mission as situated in

Archer, Clay, and Jack Counties. Mr. Crutchfield served on an

appropriation of $250. There were four organized Societies,

fifty-five conversions, thirty-eight accessions, and three hun-

dred people blessed with the Gospel. Salary paid the missionary

was $100 and missionary collection was $37.

     In 1884 the record shows two local preachers, ninety-five

Page 3

members, with thirty-four of those received that year. Mr.

Crutchfield again was appointed pastor.

     The report for 1885 shows a great deal of progress. The

church purchased property valued at $25 and erected a parsonage

valued at $250. The m~mbership, numbering two hundred fifteen,

paid the missionary $200. At the end of the 19th Session of the

North Texas Annual Conference, J. D. Whitehead was appointed to

Archer Mission.

     From 1887-1900 the Woman's Home Mission Society of the North

Texas Conference provided $75 per year for the parsonage. Aid

was received, too, in 1891-92 from the General Board of Church

Extension, which provided $400 to help build a church building

or perhaps to retire the indebtedness as local records indicate

the first permanent structure was erected about 1889. Continued

aid was necessary from the years 1895 through 1901 when the Con-

ference Board of Missions gave approximately $200 each year to

help support the pastor.

     Except for a register listing the pastors, infant baptisms,

marriages, and the membership roll, no local records were found

prior to 1911. Frances Mae Duren found, in family memorabilia,

a page from the October 1911 issue of the Archer County Dispatch

on which was printed an article by Mrs. Stanley Crawford describ-

ing her experience as a delegate from Archer City to the meeting

in Wichita Falls of the 25th Annual Session of The Woman's Home

Mission Society, NTC, ME Church South. The activity of the local

Woman's Mission Society is verified by a ledger kept by Mrs.

George Abercrombie beginning in November 1912.

Page 4

     Quarterly conference records from 1918-1922 showed that the

pastor for Archer City had a small circuit which included Anarene

and Onion Creek. In August 1919 a building committee composed

of W. E. Forgy, John P. Fleming and T. L. Loonky, was appointed to

plan for a new church puilding for Archer City. An appeal was

made to NTC for a loan of $4000 and a donation of $2000 for this

i project. A year later the trustees renewed their appeal to NTC

for financial aid, and reported expenditures of $3500 on mater-

;als for the new building. By September 1921 funds had been

secured and construction began. The building was comp1eted in

February 1922. Application was made to the Church Board of

Extension for a donation of $2000 to "seat our new church."

     Youth programs called Epworth Leagues were recorded in this

same period. One pastor reported them "All doing tolerably good

work." But 1 ater in the same year he noted, "Epworth Leagues

suffered a nervous breakdown during the warm weather months."

     The years of The Great Depression--the 1930's--were a

struggle for the church in Archer City, but adversity did not

stop the work of this group of Methodists. When a new preacher

arrived, he and his family were welcomed with a "pounding," no

doubt organized by the Missionary Society described as "active

and putting over every program of the church." In 1935 J. A.

Bell donated to the church a lot adjoining the church grounds.

The pastor noted membership at three hundred sixty-five, with

progress in all areas, including a "New piano in auditorium and

food in pantry." The report for 1936 was a study in contrast.

The pastor noted, "We are beginning to recover from a long season

Page 5

of misfortunes, which so paralyzed the church with shock and

sorrow, as to render progress impossib1e Our people love God

and His Kingdom and are loyal and true."

     In the 1940's when World War II caused great stress to all,

Archer City Methodists. carried on as best as they could. No

mention of the war was found in minutes of the church board meet-

ings, but indirect reference to the effect of the war was evident

in an article from the Archer county News dated August, 1946:

"Dedicated to his son, Billy, who has been missing in action for

many months, Mr. Cleveland Hayter of Compton, California, has

presented the Methodist Church with a set of Hammond chimes to be

installed at such time as the order can be fi11ed." Another re-

ference was made in the December 1946 issue: "...a Hammond

Electric organ is to be presented to the church by the Duren Bell

family as soon as delivery can be made. The Hammond company will

not promise delivery in less than ten months..."

     Those post-war references are evidence that music was an

important part of worship, and the special programs presented by

the choir during Christmas and Easter seasons became, over the

years, a tradition in the community. Willing and eager musicians

practiced untold hours in preparation for these cantatas. In

turn, support and gratitude were evidenced by gifts such as a

Kimball grande piano given by Mrs. Anna Abercrombie and Miss

Moncy Wilson in 1950.

     Though the need for a new church building was noted in the

1940's, no evidence of a building campaign was found. In 1950

Mr. & Mrs. W. H. Taylor provided funds for construction of a new

Page 6

chapel. Completed in 1951 and dedicated in August of the same

year, the Taylor Memorial Chapel was the first phase of a vigorous

period of work to provide adequate space for the churchls educa-

tion programs. In September 1954 ground breakind ceremonies

were held for the new educational facilities. Actual work on the

demolition of the old red brick church had begun a month earlier

with church members providing voluntary labor in an effort to

salvage every board; nail, and brick. These items were then

sold to help finance the new structure. Members recall with

nostalgia hours spent in work and fellowship on that project.

Many felt new commitment and new spiritual life as a result of

this 1abor of love. Dedication of this facility was a brief two

years later.

     In conjunction with the dedication ceremonies. a memorial

service was held, with opportunity provided for gifts to be made

in memory or in honor of loved ones and friends. Thus began a

tradition of giving to a memorial fund to be used for special

church projects not provided for in the yearly budget. The

first cash gifts, too many to list, were used for the educational

building fund. Other gifts were equipment for the nursery and

a silver baptismal bowl provided by Mr. and Mrs. Roy Heard,

cushions for the pews in the chapel given by Mrs. W. H. Taylor,

and one hundred folding chairs for the fellowship hall given by

Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Wilson.

     Early in the 1960ls the Methodists participated in summer

city-wide revival services held in the local rodeo arena. Re-

sponse to this evangelism brought some new families to join

Page 7

Archer City Methodist, and the whole congregation enjoyed a

spiritual renewal. The Sunday School, the MYF, the WSCS, the

Choir, the Methodist Men, and the worship services were all well

attended. The Memorial Fund received contributions in anticipa-

tion of the need for new hymnals, a new organ, an audio system,

a church library, new offering plates, a 16mm projector with

sound track and screen, a silver communion service, and new car-

peting for the sanctuary. Funds were secured to construct a

tower from which hangs the bell from the 1889 frame church build-

ing. The tower is dedicated to the memory of Kirk Beard, a

former pastor.

     The social changes occurring in the nation prior to and

during the Vietnam war had far-reaching effects, including some

conflict in the Methodist Church family in Archer City. Tradi-

tionally a conservative group, the local congregation struggled

to accept changing life styles and mores as they became evident

in this rural area in the 1970's. The example set by pastors

who lived their Christianity was a stabilizing factor during this

period. Missionary support was encouraged as was personal

spiritual renewal. The church family emerged from this trial

stronger for the experience.

     Early in 1980 the parsonage was made ready for yet another

pastor, and the church family welcomed Woodrow Weilage to Archer

City. Under his leadership Archer City United Methodist Church

examined its heritage and prepared to celebrate its one-hundredth

birthday. Extensive renovation of the church property has been

completed. A stewardship program has begun. Every area of the

Page 8

church has received our pastor's encouragement and guidance.

     As the celebration date with its many events approaches, we

give thanks to our God for His mercy and His love, and for our

church which in its hundred-year history has nurtured many

hungry souls. We pray. for the continuance of our church, and

ask God's blessings on all who worship here. Amen.

Page 9

“A CHARGE TO KEEP I HAVE”

     Archer City Methodist Church has welcomed fifty-two pastors dur-

ing its one hundred year history. These men have been varied in

personality, age, education, and leadership ability. All were

dedicated men, committed to God, committed to the teaching of

the Word, committed to Methodism. Each brought his unique talents

to this appointment, striving to strengthen each church member

and by so doing the church family in commitment to God.

 These men whose length of service varied from three months to

five years are;

1881    D. D. Duncan                                                  1924    C. H. Russell               

1882    I. N. Crutchfield                                               1925    Frazier Smith

1885    J. D. Whitehead                                                1927    C. W. Thomas

1887    Lee B. Ellis                                                      1929    Pat Moreland

1888    J. L. Pierce, Jr.                                                1931    L. D. Shawver

1889    E. D. Cameron                                                 1933    Earl J. Patton

1890    C. E. Williams                                                 1936    O. P. Kiker

1892    I. S. Smith                                                       1938    J. Sam Barcus

1893    J. M. Langston                                                 1940    Berl Bell

1894    Guy A. Jamieson                                              1944    Fred Adams

1896    F. O. Miller                                                      1946    W. W. Pittman

1899    C. M. Shuffler                                                   1948    Sam P. Farler

1901    T. N. Weeks                                                   1951    Elden H. Cole

1902    S. Crutchfield                                                   1955    Earl J. Patton

1905    (to be supplied)                                                1957    J. H. Westbrook

1906    A. P. Johnston                                                  1959    Lindley Vowell

1907    A. C. Julian                                                      1962    Kirk Beard

1909    E. L. Harris                                                      1965    John Earl Taylor

1910    E. L. Harris & H. H. Liles                                 1967    Jerry Bates

1912    J. W. Griffin & J. W. Beck                               1967    William E. Peterson

1913    J. R. Wages                                                     1968    Merwin Turner

1914    I. S. Asburn                                                      1970    Michael Jackson

1917    M. P. Hines                                                      1971    Jack Meyers

1918    W. R. McCarter                                               1973    Johnnie Haney

1920    W. S. Dabney                                                  1974    Don S. Youngblood

1922    B. B. Hall                                                        1980    Woodrow Wei1age

 Page 10

"WE GIVE THEE BUT THINE OWN"

     During the formative years of 1882-1912, the Methodist Church

in Archer City received aid from the North Texas Annual Conference

Missions fund. In that period of financial hardship, the church

family worked to provide first a home for the pastor, and then a

frame church building td house the congregation. Always a fo.1k

to lend a helping hand to others, contributions to missions are

noted in the North Texas Annual Conference records as early as

.1881. In 1912 Archer City Mission became a "Station", of age

and self-supporting.

     A brief table showing financial status at ten year intervals

gives insight into the fiscal history of the church.

FINACIAL REPORT

Year

Number of
Members

Pastor's
Salary

Value of
Property

Apportion-
ments

Benevo-
lences

Total
Budget

1882

35

100

0

 

15

 

1892

106

348

2000

         - - - - 160- - - -

487

1902

202

350

2500

         - - - - - 95- - - -

425

1912

194

652

4000

321

53

1787

1922

223

1800

5000

278

686

10240

1932

312

1100

18600

1058

295

2214

1942

392

1800

18000

766

500

2951

1952

344

3600

87500

1071

1986

61380

1962

320

5400

140000

752

764

14921

1972

294

6200

151500

3983

1072

20897

1982

263

18000

350000

7497

1778

44506

 Page 11

"CHRIST IS MADE THE SURE FOUNDATION"

     Although the Archer City Methodist Church was established

in 1882, there was no permanent building until 1889. According

to the warranty Deed, E. H. East, Robert Kerr, F. E. Dycus, and

T. M. Gillispie, in consideration of one dollar, transferred

lots no. 15, 16, 17, and 18 in block 11 in Archer City to L. W.

Hart, W. W. Duren, and T. H. Marberry, trustees of the Methodist

Church, South, of Archer City "to be used, kept, maintained and

disposed of as a place of divine worship for the use of the

ministry and membership of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South."

This deed was drawn up on September 28, 1889, and soon after a

small, one-room, white frame church was built. It was heated by

a large square wood stove which stood in the middle of the room

and was not taken down in summer. Sunday School classes met in

different corners of the church.

     According to Mrs. Faye Burnett, a member of the church at

the time, a tornado destroyed both the Baptist and Methodist

churches in 1914, and during that year a new white frame build-

ing was built. This building wa$ similar to the other, but a

side room or lean-to was added in which Sunday School classes

were held.

     The town and church evidently grew faster than anticipated

and in 1922 the small church could not accommodate the membership,

so a new church was built. This church was built very much like

so many other churches built in the 1920's. It was two stories,

with the lower floor having the effect of basement (although it

Page 12

was not completely underground) and the sanctuary occupying the

top floor. There were approximately 18 or 20 wide concrete steps

leading to the sanctuary, at which level there were four white

Ionic columns. Entry was made by way of three sets of glass

double doors. At firs~ folding chairs were used in the sanctuary,

but eventually they were replaced by oak pews arranged in three

sections, the middle section being wider than the two sides.

     Downstairs there was one large assembly room used for the

Missionary Society and youth meetings, several Sunday School

classrooms, and a kitchen. A short flight of stairs led to other

Sunday School rooms on a third level. Beautiful stained glass

memorial windows adorned both the north and south sides of the

church.

     This church was used until 1950, when Mr. & Mrs. W. H. Taylor

gave the Tay1or Memorial Chapel as a memorial to his parents. It

is a beautiful chapel of light colored brick, and it consists of

the sanctuary, choir room and office. The cost of the building,

including the furniture, was between forty and fifty thousand

dollars.

     It was dedicated in August 1951, with Reverend M. P. Hines,

a former pastor, delivering the address.

     Worship services were then held in the chapel and the old

red brick church was used for an education building.

     In the spring of 1954 the members of the church had decided

that the old two-story church needed to be replaced by a new

education building which would be connected to Taylor Memorial

Chapel. At an official board meeting on April 5, 1954, it was

Page 13

agreed to have Mr. Burton Reagan, a Wichita Falls architect, draw

up plans for approval.

     Mr. Reagan drew the plans for a 36'x120' two story building

which would include a large fellowship hall, kitchen, four class-

rooms, two restrooms, ?nd a storage room downstairs, and about

ten classrooms and two restrooms upstairs. Mr. Reagan reported

that volunteer labor could certainly help in reducing the cost

of the building. A plan was then discussed to raise $22,000 in

order to start the project.

     In May a Building Committee, chaired by Chester Crowley,

and a Finance Committee, chaired by Roy Heard, were appointed.

One estimate for the cost of the building was $8 per square foot,

but in June; Chester Crowley, building committee chairman, esti-

mated that by using volunteer labor the cost cou1d be reduced to

about $4 per square foot. The decision was made to start the

building by August 1, 1954.

     On August 4, the Board voted to hire Burton Reagan and that

he and the building committee would work out the details. It was

on this date that the Board voted to start wrecking the old build-

ing. By August 30 the work was in progress and men, women, and

children gathered each evening to pull nails and later to clean

old bricks which were sold to help pay for the new ones.

     In September, following the Sunday morning service, ground-

breaking ceremonies were held for the new educational building.

I Miss Moncy Wilson, one of the two persons holding the longest

continual membership in the church, turned the first spade of

ground, and the other long-standing member, Mrs. Anna Abercrombie,

Page 14 

presented a gift of $1000 to the church secretary, Mrs. James Roberts.

     During the time of construction Sunday school classes had to

be relocated and according to the Archer County News the classes

met as follows:

Children's Department will meet in the Looney Building,

located between Lula's Cafe and the B1ackman and Heard

Service Station.

Youth Department will meet in the Lion's Club Hall.

Adult Department will continue to meet in the Taylor

Memorial Chapel.

    Approximately $22,000 was raised before the building was

started, and on January 3, 1955 the Board voted to borrow

$12,500 and progress as rapidly as possible in completing the

building.

     After the exterior of the building was completed, it was

decided to hire one local carpenter to work with volunteer labor

in finishing the building. Both men and women met each night to

paint, build cabinets, and do whatever was needed.

    In February 1955, the Board agreed to make a note for $7300

(interest at 3%) to the First State Bank for a cooling and heat-

ing system.

     The building was completed and moved into in April, 1955,

when about 125 members and friends met for a covered-dish dinner

and kitchen shower.

     On November 5, 1956, Mr. Roy Heard reported that all of the

building debt had been paid, so plans were made for the dedica-

tion of the building on December 2. Bishop William C. Martin

gave the address and Reverend Dan Barron, District Superintendent

Page 15

was also present. The W. S. C. S. gave a dinner in the new

fellowship hall and the memorial service was at two o'clock in

the afternoon.

     The cornerstone of the new educational building bears the

following inscription:.

Educational Building

erected 1954

by

Members and Friends of the Church

Pastor, Elden H. Cole

Chairman of Board, Graham B. Purcell

Chairman of Building Committee, Chester C. Crowley

Chairman of Finance Committee, Roy E. Heard

Church School Superintendent, Charles Wooster

Designer and Builder, Burton Reagan

     In 1981 Taylor Memorial Chapel was extensively remodeled

by giving the front interior of the chapel a new look. The choir

and pulpit area was enlarged, the chancel rail was extended from

wall to wall, and this area was carpeted. The Roman arch at the

front of the church was changed to a Gothic arch bordered in oak.

The east wall of the worship center was stripped with oak. The

unbroken vertical lines represent the unbroken relationship of

God to man. Individual horizontal sections of oak represent man

in his brokenness. The two lines are combined in the illumi-

nated cross which is stained the two colors of the oak strips

to represent Christ's humanity and divinity.

     In 1982 the interior of the educational building was

painted, many rooms and the stairs and hall were carpeted, and

vertical window blinds were installed.

Page 16 

Pastors of our church have 1ived in at least four parson-

ages. About the turn of the century, pastors lived in a house

on the east side of town near the depot. From about 1910 until

1925 the little house on Main Street just west of the old Archer

County Hospital served.as the parsonage. Soon after the church

was built in 1922, perhaps in 1925, a parsonage was built just

south of the church and served pastors until 1970, when the church

purchased the present parsonage, a three-bedroom house at 1004

S. Ash Street.

Page 17

"TRUEHEARTED, WHOLEHEARTED"

     The faithful and loyal ladies of the Archer City Methodist

Church have always been active and influential in church work.

With an instinctive desire to share with each other and with

those in mission fields around the world, a group of these women

founded the Archer City Methodist Ladies Aid. By 1912 the con-

ference records list membership at thirty in the report for the

Woman's Home Mission Society. In the 1920's Woman's Missionary

Society became the official name of the group. In 1940 the name

of the society was changed to Women's Society of Christian Ser-

vice and continued as such until 1968. when it was changed to

the present name, United Methodist Women.

     Throughout its history this group of women has acted as a

r catalyst in promoting church-wide programs. From a ledger kept

from 1911 until 1932 by Mrs. George (Anna) Abercrombie, it is

clear that these ladies worked together faithfully to raise

money for both local needs and mission projects. Their initial

conference claim was $25. A bazaar in 1911 yielded a profit of

$41.25. In 1914 when Mrs. Cora Hull was president, their fund-

raising project was "pickin' cotton," indicating that no task

was too low for them to undertake. In 1913 a piano was purchased

with installment payments continuing for a lengthy period. Car-

peting for the church was furnished in 1918. In 1922 when a

new church building was being erected, this group tackled a

variety of money raising projects including sales of magazines,

vanilla extract, and Skidoo. In 1924 the group saved pennies,

Page 18

collecting $223 which they applied to the church debt. Sponsor-

ing of a child in the Methodist Home began in 1926 when clothing

was provided for Brady Piper for a period of several years. An-

other child, David Bennet, was sponsored beginning in 1931. The

first Lions Club luncheon they served was in 1928. In 1940 they

assumed responsibility for the regular twi~e-monthly luncheon meet-

ings, cooking and serving food which the Lions Club furnished. The

Society received $25 per month for this endeavor. The WSCS

sponsored a successful bazaar in 1966. Proceeds from another

bazaar in 1976 enabled UMW to cohtr;bute $1000 to the Oklahoma

Indian Missionary Conference. An ambitious project in 1978 was

compiling favorite recipes and publishing a cook book. This

venture was so successfUl that a second printing was soon ordered

and sold, lending credence to the tradition in the community that

Methodist women were indeed good cooks, and that small children

learned early to ask wistfully, "Is that for us or the Missionary

Society?" when a taste-tempting dish came from the oven.

     An annual study program widened the knowledge the ladies had

of the mission fields. These programs were often recommended by

the North Texas Annual Conference, and sometimes were structured

for the entire local congregation. At times the ladies met weekly

on a weekday morning, but in more recent years the UMW has met

twice monthly in night meetings at the home of a member. Member-

ship of the WSCS in 1940 was forty-five; in 1982 membership of

the UMW was sixteen.

     Being few in number has not deterred the dedication of this

group. Their 1982 projects included pledges of $500 to missions

Page 19

supported by the North Texas Annual Conference, financial support

of a child through World Vision, and payment of one share to the

Centurion program.

     An unknown author has captured the spirit of these

dedicated women: .

They talk about a woman's sphere as though

it had a limit There's not a place in earth or heayen

There's not a place to mankind given

There's not a blessing or a woe

There's not a whispered yes or no

There's not a life or death or birth

There's not a feather's weight of worth

Without a woman in it.

Page 20 

"BLEST BE THE TIE THAT BINDS"

     At the time that a search for records began so that a church

history could be compJled, Margaret Ellen Slack initiated an

effort to collect oral history from our members. From random

sources her efforts brought forth evidence that the churcH fam-

ily has enjoyed its heritage. A sense of humor and Christian

love emerge in these glimps~s into the past which Mrs. S1ack

has compiled.

*************

     My earliest memory of any church was the Archer City

Methodist Church when I was three years old and misbehaved dur-

ing Sunday morning worship service. I had a small straw hat

held in place by an elastic band under my chin which "tighted"

me. So I removed the hat, held the elastic band in both hands,

and put my feet in the hat. By rhythmically flexing my knees I

created what I considered a fine diversion from the boredom of

the sermon. However my mother frowned upon this activity...in

fact frowned and shook her head several times, and finally

immobilized one of my knees by squeezing it so hard that I

squealed out. At that she picked me up, carried me outside and

applied a little pressure to the seat of the problem. Then she

wiped my face and marched me back in and sat me down rather

forcefully. By mutual consent I did not wear that hat to church

the next Sunday, partly because it was not in too good shape by

then and partly because I hated it for "tighting" me and getting

me in trouble.

**************

Page 21

     When the old white frame building had been torn down and

the new two-story brick church was being built, worship services

were held in the district court room and Sunday School was held

in an old abandoned bakery building on the south side of the

square. The sign on tbe high false front of the building still

carried the message: "The Staff of Life." I did not understand

the words, so my mother explained them to me with the additional

remark that she thought it a very fitting caption for the activity

then going on inside. Strange how such remarks go with one for a

lifetime...or at least it has been over sixty years.

**************

     I have never been quite so frightened as I was once when I

was just a child and attended a revival meeting. It was held in

a tent set up south and east of our present church, and it was

furnished with improvised benches made of planks from the local

lumber yard. After a session of fire and brimstone preaching,

which in itself did nothing to allay childish fears, the choir

had just finished singing about "gathering with the saints at

the river." I was listlessly swinging my legs on a front row

bench when I became aware that my mother, sitting on a raised

platform with the choir, was trying to attract my attention. I

paused in mid-swing, thinking that was the message she was trying

to convey, but then I realized it was something else...she was

motioning for me to come to her. Reluctantly I sidled up the

steps expecting to be reprimanded for something, only to have her

put her arm around me and draw me close to her side. Imagine my

horror when I turned around and saw God and all His angels stalk-

Page 22

ing down the aisle I had just vacated! All had on long white

robes and strange looking hoods and were carrying a cross, but

there wasn't a halo in the whole bunch. I simply stood frozen

w;thin the circle of my mother's arm while a contingent of the

Ku Klux Klan presented.the evangelist with a donation on behalf

of his efforts at spiritual revival of our community.

**************

     One story from Pauline Hull Wilson told of a time when the

members of the Missionary Soci ety were so "cotton-pi ck i ng'l

determined to come up with their pledge that they literally took

to the fields to pick cotton to make the money for their foreign

m;ssion fund. Someone volunteered to take them out past the old

Montgomery place to try their luck...The activity was suddenly,

and probably eagerly, interrupted when Pauline, who was just a

ch;ld then, was bitten by a centipede and a hurried trip was

made to the field to get her mother. Pauline said she did not

have any serious after-effects of the bite, but all the women

made much of it and did not dare leave her to return to the

cotton field.

**************

     Mary Lois Gowdy Ledbetter told of a time in the 1920's when

she was ten or twelve years old and a member of the junior youth

group of the church. They met regularly in the pastor's study,

but one day their adult leader did not show, so they amused them-

selves in the first activity that presented itself. On the pas-

tor's desk was a pad of blank marriage certificates, so they

chose partners and hel d a "double-double" weddi ng ceremony wi th

the "odd man out" acting as preacher and giving each couple a

Page 23

duly signed certificate. Somewhere in her memory box was a paper

proving her to be a bigamist...origina11y married to Charles

Powell.

**************

     Jewell Morris R0dgers told of the times when the Epworth

League was trying to raise money for some "Epworth-while" program

and came up with the idea of combining what they liked best to do

with their attempt to raise funds. Everybody that age enjoyed

going down to the station to watch the train come through---a

modern day version of people-watching or cruising-Kemp, I suppose.

Anyway, they decided to make sandwiches and cookies and sell them

to the people on the train, and since there was no such thing as

a diner on the local locomotive, they were surprised at how

readily their wares were bought.

**************

     A clipping from a 1939 copy of the Archer County News tells

of the interruption of Wednesday night prayer service at the

local Methodist Church when four young people from Duncan and

Fort Sill, Oklahoma wanted to be married post haste. So the

congregated members assumed their best going-to-a-wedding express-

ions and the pastor, Sam Barcus, proceeded to marry the two

couples with his faithful flock as witnesses. As they left the

church, one of the new bridegrooms was overheard to say to his new

wife, "Well, come on old lady, let's get out of here." So much

for the historical romance department!

**************

Page 24

     Roy Heard told of an embarrassing moment when he was acting

as usher one Sunday morning. After having taken up the offering

and presenting it to the altar, he turned and started back to the

rear of the church when his wife, Willie Fern, swung into a

familiar hymn on the organ. He sang lustily all the way back up

the aisle, but when he turned around, he found that he and the

programmed soloist were the only two people in the church who

were singing!

**************

     When John Taylor commended Jeff McMurtry on the rapt atten-

tion he gave his sermon each Sunday, Jeff replied that he didn't

want the preacher to labor under any misconception. Jeff said

he had arthritis and that when he finally found a position that

was more or less comfortable for thirty minutes, he was likely

to stay right there until the sermon was over!

**************

     One night a group of evangelistic workers had assembled at

the church to accept names of families to call on and urge to come

to worship services. Several of us voiced the complaint that we

felt very uncomfortable knocking on people's front door to inquire

about the status of their souls when we did not feel free to

knock on their back door for a coffee klatch. The pastor told

us just to sit in our cars for a few minutes and say a little

prayer and that everything would be all right. Later when we

reconvened at the church to report on our "calls," Beatrice

Elmore endeared herself to all of us by saying: 'II did just

what you said, Preacher, and you were right. I sat there a few

Page 25

minutes and prayed they wouldn1t be at home, and they weren1t!'1

**************

Once when the preacher was admonishing people to get busy

with some planned project, he was emphasizing the importance of

the time element and as.ked the rhetorical question, "Do you know

what time it is?'1 Jim Bob Crowley, a child at the time, shouted

in reply, "Yes, it's dinner time!"

**************

Page 25

"PRECIOUS MEMORIES"

      This section is provided for your personal remembrances

of Archer City Methodists. To stimulate your memory, two

examples are furnished by Margaret Ellen Slack.

**************

     The two generations of Sunday pants and panties that were

worn out sliding down the concrete bannisters of the old church.

**************

     All the scarred, callused, arthritic hands attributed to

the process of cleaning bricks from the old church.

**************

Page 27

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Although each of the people who worked to compi1e the history

of Methodism at Archer City would think their contribution modest,

this booklet could not have been produced without them. As the

current pastor of the church, it has been my privilege to work

with each one of them and gain insight into the things that make

Archer City special. These people are: Louise Andrews, Frances

Mae Duren, Orlena Harvey, Mary Lee Hawkins. Margaret Ellen Slack,

Pauline Wilson and Helen Young.

Specia1 thanks also is given to Peggy Green, who carefully

typed and printed the book, and to the friendly staff of Bridwell

Library, for their assistance.

Gratefully,

Rev. Woody Weilage

 
 
 
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