Cleveland Methodist Church
Coleman County, Texas
by Ruth Hibbetts 

from A History of Coleman County and Its People, 1985 
edited by Judia and Ralph Terry, and Vena Bob Gates - used by permission

The Cleveland Community Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was built in 1901.  Only 1 room with an alcove and 3 windows in the west end and 3 windows on each side, 3 rows of pews or red benches.  I have always been told that Mr. Williams and Mr. Turner were the men who made the benches.  There was a wood heater in the center of the room, a pulpit with a lovely red rostrum around it, and an organ.

The people of the church had been meeting each Sunday afternoon to have their services in the old school houses ever since my parents came to Cleveland.  The Christian Church met in mornings for their services.

In 1901, the Methodist bought 5 acres of land to build a church of their own.  They decided on a block of land in the corner of Mr. and Mrs. John Cupps farm, located on the Trickham and Santa Anna main traveled road, east of the Niwot Store.  It was a dirt road, of course.  When it rained, it got muddy - when it didn’t, it sure got hot and sandy.  I can remember when this building was always over crowded.  Parents brought their children and a quilt to put down in the aisle so they could go to sleep.  We had three rows of pews (red benches) homemade, and two aisles full of babies. Sometimes, you would hear a child scream out, someone had stepped on it.  Papa usually parked his wagon at or near the front door and tied his horses to a mesquite.  When we got sleepy, we went to the wagon where the quilts were.  The church yard was always full of covered wagons and little camps. People came for a meeting and stayed.  The trips were too long and rough to travel twice a day for both services.  Of course, the community fed them mostly by carrying in food, watermelons, milk cows, chickens, and some hens were staked all around on the church yard.  They had the grove services each evening, with dinners on the ground.  They would put the benches together to make a table, sometimes in the house, sometimes in the yard.  Back in those days, everyone in the community, far and near, went to all of the funerals.  Mothers carried their children.  We were taught never to step on a grave.

In 1945, our old 1901 church building was in need of repair.  Our pastor, R. A. Pope, got busy and decided we would get a new building instead.  We tore down the old one.  The men, women, and children all pulled nails.  We used all the old lumber we could.  Jimmie Harris of Santa Anna was our carpenter.  The rest of the labor was donated, except his helper.  We now had butane to heat with, a piano instead of an organ.  We had two little Sunday school rooms for the little ones.  The roads are good.  People have moved away, they have good cars that can go farther.  No more buggies or wagons.  No more camps during a summer meeting.

In January 1971, Bro. L. Shambeck, pastor, closed our doors and we have not had any services there since.  I have memories that will carry me a long way.  We don’t forget the things we loved.  The Methodist Church, while at the annual conference, agreed to let Cleveland keep the church building in the community for a community center.  They deeded the land and building to the community.

Some of the “Pastors of the Years”: J. D. Dickerson, 1893; C. H. Smith, 1899; W. A. Manley, 1900; J. W. Bowden, 1901; W. J. Lemmons, 1903-1904; G. W. Harris, 1905-1911; R. A. Langston, 1911; C. S. Reese, 1913; W. A. Neil, 1914; A. D. Crosgrove, 1915; J. F. Clark, 1916; J. R. Williamson, 1921; Seba Kirkpatrick, 1926 and 1936; Preston Broxton, 1933; Chester Wilkerson, 1934; Luther Nelson, 1939-1940; Mr. Bowman, 1940; Roy Crawford, 1935; F. H. Ingram, 1941; W. E. Harrel, 1942-1943; R. A. Pope, 1945-1946; W. B. Ferguson, 1946; W. B. Morton, 1947; Otis Brown, 1948; R. L. Wallace, 1949; H. E. Dutton, 1950; John Hankinson, 1951; Don Joplin, 1951-1952; W. L. Gilbert, 1952-1954; L. F. Coker, 1954; J. L. Glaze, 1955-1956; Mr. Kee, 1956-1957; Bobbie Weathers; Mr. Shambeck, 1970-1971.  We also had a lot of Baptist preachers come once a month, and the Nazarenes had a meeting nearly every summer.


The first Cleveland Methodist Church, about 1935

The second Cleveland Methodist Church, built in 1945

The Cleveland Methodist Church, now the Cleveland Community building, with the Cleveland Cemetery at right - 1980

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This page updated August 22, 2004
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