|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.