Dawson First United Methodist Church
Dawson, Navarro County, Texas


Religion Index || City of Dawson || Dawson Stories Index

Submitted by Carl W. Matthews

Dawson, Texas
est. 1892

Methodism in the Dawson area, probably began with the Battle Creek Church. located at Spring Hill, and mentioned in the diary of Rev Walter Smith South, a Methodist minister. He wrote.... November 4, 1860...that he had "gone to church at Battle Creek and, with Brother Perley George, went to see "Old Father Williams...and that he, also, saw Brother Phillip George just from Bethany, Young County. "

"Old Father Williams" was Thomas Williams, a Methodist, who had arrived at the Spring Hill area near 1845 as a member of the Peters Colony. He had married Nancy Dill in Tennessee, migrated to Missouri first, then to Texas. His 640 acre patent was located northwest of present day Dawson, Texas and could have been near the headwaters of Battle Creek, quite possibly the area where the Battle Creek Monument now stands.

Pearly and Phillip George were sons of James George and Nancy Vest. The George family had previously lived in Putnam Co., Indiana. but, probably, had originated in Georgia. Pearly George had married Nancy Williams , a daughter of "Old Father Williams," on August 29, 1949 in Navarro Co. Texas.

Several references mention a building at Spring Hill used as a school and church house which was built in 1850 of a wood frame covered with buffalo hide. The teacher was recorded as a Mr. Finch. The minister was Brother Thomas Williams.

Note: Mr Finch...may....have been Edward Fitch who had arrived in Spring Hill from New York. He was born 1827 and was married to Phebe, b 1821 in New York. Edward Fitch was listed in the 1850 census of Spring Hill as a school teacher.

"Brother Thomas Williams" would have been the son of "Old Father Williams" who was Thomas Williams, born 1787 in North Carolina and who died 1861 at Spring Hill, Texas. He had married Nancy Dill in North Carolina...migrated through Tennessee and Missouri before arriving in Texas near 1845.

"Brother Thomas Williams"...

Rev. Thomas M Williams...was born 1823 in Tennessee, lived in Missouri with his parents, and came to Texas with them near 1845. The 1850 Navarro Co Census states that he was living with his parents, was unmarried. and listed as a Methodist Minister. He was not found in the 1860 census and is presumed to have died at some point before that date.


...would not necessarily have been so named as a result of being located on Battle Creek, but could have been give the name as a result of the prominence of the massacre of 1838. The Battle Creek Massacre was an event that was long remembered by the citizens of Texas and...please remember...1850 was just twelve years removed from that historic event.

It should be remembered, as well, that the "Spring Hill" mentioned in association with the "Buffalo Hide Building" would not have been the Spring Hill remembered by individuals living today. The "Buffalo Hide Building" would have been located at the "Old" Spring Hill near the Spring Hill Cemetery. The "New" Spring Hill was not surveyed until the late 1850s or early 1860s and was, perhaps, a half mile north of
the cemetery on the North side of Treadwell Branch.

J M Polk, writing in 1914, stated, " Capt. Winkler's Confederate Company camped 1861 near the old Battle Creek Church, near where the town of Dawson now stands."


Where was the site of


Two statements listed above offer some conjectural credence.

One...the "Buffalo Hide Building" would have, in all likelihood, been located not far from the Spring Hill Cemetery. Dr. George Washington Hill's "Trading Post" was located a few yards south of the cemetery and was, no doubt, the center of community activity. The U S Post Office operated within the Trading Post. Roads from north and south, east and west...converged at that point.

Two...Winklers Civil War Camp was located near the church...and " near where the town of Dawson now stands."

The Main Road in the community began south of where Brit Dawson lived, to Tehuacana, and Fort Franklin. It continued north to Richland Creek at the Buffalo Crossing, which was located a few yards down stream from where the old Iron bridge crossed the creek...and on to the community of Dresden. The Cowhead Road intersected the Main Road near the cemetery and ran eastward to the new town of Corsicana.. The road to the west that would bring families from the Liberty Hill and Antioch area was located a quarter mile south of the cemetery and intersected with the Main Road.

Chances are...the Battle Creek Church was located near the intersection of the Main Road and the road west....near the Wilkersons, near the Sidwells, near the Kendalls, and not far from the Brit Dawsons. In fact...it may have been situated on the corner where Prentice Priddy and his family lived for so many years. And...Winklers' Civil Camp could have been situated on the level land across the road to the south
and west.

Some references state that a Confederate Quartermaster Depot existed at Spring Hill during the years of the Civil War and Winkler could have situated his camp to be near that facility. The year was 1861...the beginning days of the war...and those civilian troops recruited by Winkler would have had to be outfitted at some point. Why not Spring Hill. Stores of grain came from the surrounding farmers, sorghum molasses were produced from cane, cattle and buffalo roamed the prairies....and the craftsmen at Spring Hill could, probably, have constructed wagons. There were blacksmiths and wheelwrights and a sawmill. There was a flour mill.


Chances are that the Methodist used the "Buffalo Hide Building" for several years. Stretched Rawhide will survive for several years in the relatively dry Texas atmosphere, but it is highly likely that the membership had constructed a new church house by 1860. Two decades later the community had experienced a huge population growth. Several wagon trains from middle Tennessee had arrived in the
mid-1970s to join relatives and friends who had settled there earlier. More families were arriving from Missouri. There was a need to enlarge the facilities.

When the railroad arrived in Western Navarro County it had bypassed Spring Hill. The new town of Dawson was created almost overnight and many of the Spring Hill families lost no time relocating to the new community. Members of the Battle Creek Church, apparently made a similar decision with regard to the church.


It was in the summer of 1881 when Town Lots began to sell in the newly platted City of Dawson, Navarro Co., Texas. A Warranty Deed, dated August 2, 1881, reveals that four men purchased Lots 11 & 12 in Block 31. The selling price was $20.00 per lot with the stipulation that a "house of Divine Worship" would be built upon the site within twelve months. The condition was modified with a notation stating, "The date of the completion of the building shall not be required within such time, however."

The four men whose names appear on the Warranty Deed included Samuel B Jetton, David W Wilkinson, Thomas Smith, and P A Kendall, all of whom lived in the Spring Hill community.


Samuel B Jetton was born in 1835 in Rutherford Co. Tennessee, the same county where Joseph Thompson Lawrence had lived prior to coming to Texas. Sam Jetton married Mary Emily Sidwell, daughter of Warren & Mary Ann Ramsey Sidwell who had come to Texas from Ohio. Warren Sidwell held Grant # 3-1182 at the south-most tip of the David McCandless survey near Liberty Hill. Sam and Emily buried a stillborn son, Luther Jetton, at Spring Hill Cemetery in 1867.  J E Jetton was born in 1869 and another infant was stillborn in 1871. Emily died in 1873 and was buried at Spring Hill Cemetery.

Sam B Jetton....listed in the 1850 census of Rutherford Co TN in the household of Emphraim Jetton......was shown to be fifteen years of age.  Ephriam Jetton was born Rutherford Co TN in 1811, died Robertson Co. TX.. before 1856.

Note: John Lewis Jetton Jr was born in Mecklenburg Co NC 1778 and died at Murphysboro, Rutherford Co. Tenn... 1854...where he settled in 1804. He was a son of John Lewis Jetton who was born 1749 New Castle Delaware and died Mecklenburg Co NC 1826. His mother was Pricilla Sharpe. His family were French Hugenots.

John Lewis Jetton Jr. married Margaret White. A sister, Elizabeth Jetton, married Thomas White who died Rutherford Co TN in 1811. A Robert Jetton was appointed administrator of the Thomas White estate. One of the daughters of Thomas & Margaret White, married a Ramsey.

One Robert Jetton died Rutherford Co TN 1840 and left a sizable estate. He had a son, Franklin.

After the death of Emily, Sam was remarried to Rachael Booth born 1846. Rachael was the daughter of John Booth who had come to Navarro Co. from Warren Co. MS and Nancy Roberts who was born in Hinds Co MS. A sister, Laura Booth 1846-1872, married Henry Fullerton of Dawson. Another sister, Amanda Booth, was married in 1880 to William Andrew Kirk who died in Montague Co TX 1920. Several members of a Booth family from Mississippi served in Co. I - Dresden Texas Cavalry.

Sam and Rachael Jetton were remembered as having lived approximately a mile south of The Indian Springs and had five children living in the home in the 1880s.

The 1870 NavCo Census listed the Jettons living with Warren Sidwell….
W A Sidwell b. 1822 OH
Sam Jetton b. 1835 TN
E J f b. 1844 MO
H L m b.1867 TX
H L Jetton married Sallie Follis,
sister of Jennie Follis who married 1887 Dr. H L Matthews
J E f b.1869 TX
W Reaves from Alabama was listed as a hired hand.

Jetton Neighbors 1870 included …….
H C Garner b. 1845 AL.
S Turner, a widow born 1820 AL, was head of a household that included
W W Turner…b. 1847…
marriedMary Olivia Wheelock named child CC Turner
C C Turner (m) b. 1849 AL
E J Turner (f) b. 1855 MS
B Turner (f) b. 1842 TX.
Louis Staaden b. 1815 Germany - married Christina Hagle
Richard Priddy b. AL - daughter married Robert Harve Matthews
K M Hill b. 1813 TN - wife of Dr. Geo. Washington Hill
Robert Harve Matthews - b. 1814 TN brother of K M Hill

Samuel B Jetton died 1908.



David W Wilkinson, probably came to Navarro Co. Texas from Rutherford Co. Tennessee and may have been related to the Jetton Family. He was married to Amanda J Garner in 1858, a daughter of William Hall Garner whose family had lived in Maury Co Tennessee, but who had come to Navarro Co Texas in 1856 by covered wagon from Alabama. The couple lived southeast of the Spring Hill Cemetery on the road that went south by the Brit Dawson place.

The 1870 Census listed the family name as WILKERSON
David W 1827 TN
A J female 1842 AL
N I female 1861 TX
J P male 1865 TX

O T male 1845 AL Lived with them

B M Oliver 1844 AL Lived with them

John T and Nellie Miller Wilkerson lived Rutherford..had child who went to Texas. The Wilkenson Family of Rutherford Co TN was, apparently related to the Miller Family. Wilkenson Miller was a son of John Miller and a grandson of Joshua Miller.


Thomas Smith, in all probability, a son of Dr. William Austin Smith and Lucy Bedford Rucker

Lucy Rucker Smith was a sister of James Cromwell Rucker whose daughter, Ada, married Milton M "Mack" Dickson.

The Ruckers had arrived in the Spring Hill area at some point in the 1860s. James Cromwell Rucker, married to Virginia McDonald, had lived in Smith Co. Texas where Virginia had died. He arrived at Spring Hill and married Christina Ann Slater, daughter of Charles and Sarah Henderson Slater, and sister of Thomas Searcy Slater who was a founder of the Methodist Church at Brushie Prairie. Their first child was born in 1863.

The James Cromwell Rucker family had moved to Wise Co. Texas by 1870, but, apparently returned often to visit in Western Navarro Co.

James Rucker Smith, son of Dr. William Austin Smith, married Annette Wheelock, a daughter of George Ripley and Mary Ann Jane Slaughter Wheelock. Her siblings included Mary Olivia who married William Warren Turner; Beuna who married Albert Henry Berry; and John Ripley Wheelock who married Lillian Elura Wilkes.

T P Smith was listed in the 1870 NavCo Census. He was born in Missouri in 1850. He was a son of G Smith b 1804 in Kentucky

A Richard Rucker was listed in the 1870 Navarro County TX Census. He was born in 1854 and was living with W W Hanson.

J L Rucker, probably a son of James Cromwell Rucker, had married Mary E who was buried at Spring Hill Cemetery 1874.

The Ruckers, Berrys, Wheelocks, Turners, Slaters, Dicksons, and the Smiths were all related in some manner and all were associated with the Dawson Methodist Church.

Isetta Rucker married Arthur Lee Toten at Spring Hill in 1889. Arthur Lee Toten was a son of George Washington & Sarah Isabelle Benson Toten.

Other Smith families, also prominent citizens of Dawson, came at a later date from Tishomingo Co MS.

The Rucker Family name is found again and again with reference to The Methodist Church throughout Texas. Not a few Ruckers became prominent ministers of that denomination.


The name "P A Kendall" has not been discovered, but the Samuel Kendall Family was in the area in the correct time frame and the Kendall Family was, apparently, always heavily involved in the religious communities wherever they lived. The "P A Kendall" may have been Thomas Milton Kendall. Ink has faded from many of the old documents and the hand written notes are difficult to read with certainty.

Samuel Kendall migrated 1806 from Liverpool. England, settled in Dallas Co Alabama, and had two sons, John Benjamin Kendall and Thomas Milton Kendall. Both sons married wives whose surnames were Tipton, both migrated to Sibley, Louisiana and died there.

Thomas Milton Kendall married Martha Margaret Tipton in 1848 in Dallas Co AL and died 1865. His wife migrated to the Dresden area of Navarro Co in 1873. Martha Margaret Kendall died in 1877 and was buried at Dresden.

Other Dallas Co. AL family names related to the Kendalls .... Gill (who migrated to the Dswson, Navarro Co Texas area), Grumbles, Cook, Graves, Cunningham, Morgan Researcher: [email protected]

Her brother, Hiram Tipton, described Martha Margaret and her husband as "consistent members of the Presbyterian Church." In the same communication he stated that his sister and her family were living in Texas and doing very well. All of the children had married except the oldest son, Frank Kendall, who...according to his uncle..."had ruined himself by drinking."

Children in the family included:
1840 Mary Jane Kendall b. Monroe LA
1853 William Douglas Kendall b. LA
m. Martha Ann Harper
dau. Margaret Mae Kendall married in Navarro Co.
1855 Samuel Kendall b. Jackson Parrish LA
married: 1879 Florence Aderhald in NavCo
married; Agness Jones at Glenn Rose TX
dau: Maggie Mae born. NavCo
1859 John Hiram Kendall b. Jackson Parrish LA
Several children born Purdon TX prior to moving to Oklahoma c1900
Helped organize the Strong City OK Baptist Church
1863 Thomas Milton Kendall Jr b. Alexandria, Jackson Parrish LA
married Minnie Mae Gill in Navarro Co. 1885.
Moved to Roger Mills OK 1913
"Always on the right side in every moral issue"

Some family members lived for several years in Navarro Co. Texas, and later settled Roger Mills Co OK. Of interest: The Kendall Log Cabin stands today in the City Park of Cheyenne, Roger Mills Co. OK

Why had the Kendalls come to Dawson?

Onc possible answer....: Andrew Jackson Fread had lived in Indiana, but his family had migrated to Grayson Co. Texas where he married Susan Kendall in 1867. The family soon moved to a farm southeast of Dawson where their son, John Tom Fread, married 1889… Amanda Dawson Dickson, widow of James S Dickson and daughter of Brit Dawson.

Richard Fread married Martha Kendall in Ellis Co TX in 1856. A Fread Family researcher commented that "one of the Fread boys from IN or IL went to Texas and was never heard from again."

Marietta E Gill married 1873 Edwin Parish Garner who lived for many years across the Waco Hiway from the Dawson Fire Station.

P A Kendall…(or Thomas A Kendall)…may have been a brother or the father of Susan Kendall who had married the father of Tom Fread. Tom and Amanda Dawson Dickson Fread lived for many years across Main Street from where the new Methodist Church stands.

Thomas Milton Kendall.....born 1863 Alexandria LA, died Elk City OK
married: 1885 Minnie Mae Gill at NavCo TX
dau: John Forsyth & Elizabeth A P Bodiford Gill
The Gills had lived Lee Co GA & Dallas Co AL
1886 Eva Mae Kendall b. NavCo
1892 Eula Kendall
1893 Samuel Earl Kendall
1900 Ellis Kendall
1902 Irma Kendall
1906 Alma Kendall
1905 James Milton Kendall

Kendalls were living in the Brushie Prairie area as late as 1903 when Altus Earl Kendall was born. And…a Sam Kendall was buried at Dresden 1890.


The property, purchased in 1881, was located on the west side of Dawson's South Main Street several blocks south of the railroad in a stand of large Post Oak Trees. The home of Nan Bruce occupied the site in 2002. Twelve years would pass before the Methodist were able to begin construction of the first house of worship. Meanwhile, the Methodist worshipped at the Presbyterian Church which had been constructed on the west side of Dawson's North Main Street at a site now the parking lot for Dawson's First Baptist Church.

The Presbyterian Church was moved at some point to a location across from the Dawson Tabernacle and next door to The Dawson Herald. One photograph presents the Presbyterian church at its North Main Street location. The deed to the North Main location for The Presbyterian Church was from Sam Frost "to J N Matthews, J M Johnson, V A Cook for The Cumberland Presbyterian Church." The date was June 28, 1882.

Some of the Charter Member Families of the Methodist Church included Berry, Davis, Flint, McCulloch, Dickson, Jetton, Wilkinson, Smith, and Kendall.

Milton M "Mack" Dickson was born 1862 in Savannah, Hardin Co., Tenn.. His family had come to Texas in a covered wagon in 1876 and had settled at Spring Hill. He married 1888 Miss Ada Rucker b. 1866, daughter of James Cromwell and Christina Ann Slater Rucker. The marriage was performed at the Dawson
Presbyterian Church. Mack Dickson was a pharmacist and well loved throughout the community. He died in 1934.

It was in 1893 that James Alexander Berry, Steve Hill, and other local carpenters began construction of a one room Methodist Church at the South Main site.. The structure was sufficiently compete by September 1894 to permit the marriage of Josiah Montgomery Berry and Miss Mattie Stoud. The Rev. J R Hixon was minister.

Rev. J T McKeown was said to have arrived in Dawson in 1896 to serve as Minister of the congregation, but church records fail to show him as minister until 1906. Construction, apparently continued and it was in 1906 when Rev. McKeown as Minister and John R Nelson as Presiding Elder lead in the Dedication Ceremony.

Rev. Joseph T McKeown 1851-1934 had married Florence Alabama Roan 1858-1929.
Their children were…….
Lillie McKeown 1876-1973 married G W Wilkerson 1874-1932
Bonnie McKeown married Wiley Wilkerson
Della McKeown married Charles Webb
Kelly L McKeown married Lillian Hillis 1886-1918
married May Smith

Dawson had boasted of a weekly newspaper during the 1890s, but The Banner had ceased to be published. Realizing the need for a community newspaper, the Methodist Church began, in 1901, publishing "The Helper." The Rev. G C Shutt served as Editor and was assisted by A P and Miss Jane Ford. The Rev. Shutt was on a circuit for the Methodist Denomination and served the Dawson, Dover, Mt. Zion, and Harmony Methodist Churches. The Rev. Harris Lowrimore preached at the Dawson church the third Sunday of each month.


The Rev. J Harris Lowrimore was born 1841 Maury Co TN, the son of Jacob Redwine and Elizabeth Harris Lowrimore. His siser was Martha Lowrimore b. c1840. The family had moved from Maury Co TN to Tishomingo Co. MS where his father, Jacob Lowrimore, died in 1842. Elizabeth Harris Lowrimore remarried in 1845 to Thomas William Walker Sr. who was born in Kentucky. Thomas Walker had at least one son…Thomas Walker Jr/ who married his step sister, Martha Lowrimore.

Thomas Sr and Elizabeth Harris Lowrimore Walker had a son, Thomas Wesley Walker b. 1845 who married Sallie Jackie Akers, daughter of Jackson and Sarah Castleberry Akers who had moved to Tishomingo Co MS from Gwinnett Co GA.

Thomas Wesley and Sallie Jackie Akers Walker had arrived at Spring Hill prior to 1880 when their daughter, Jessica Walker, was buried at Spring Hill Cemetery. Sallie Jackie Akers was a sister to Charles Winchester Akers and Zebulan Akers.

Charles Winchester Akers was living at Spring Hill when he married Mary Elizabeth Bowers in 1878. Their children included
Houston Akers who married Mabel Skinner
Chester Akers who married Fralik
Remus Akers who married Berry
Jimmy Susan Akers who married Walter C Cook
Nita Esther Akers who married Virgil Brown.

Mary Elizabeth died in 1893 and Charles Winchester Akers married Annie Franks, daughter of John and Matilda Chapman Franks who had arrived in Navarro Co. from Giles Co. TN. Children born to this union included:
Ruby Akers who married Major Davis
Gladney Akers who married Arthur Flint
Jeff Akers who married Essie Thomas
Frances Akers who married Clyde Pierce
Vivian Akers who married Edwin Sawyer.


Trustees of the church purchased in 1894 lots 1 & 2 in Block 26 in Dawson as a site for a residence for preachers and the residence was constructed at some later date. The structure was still standing in 1917 when a church committee was appointed to make a decision to remodel the existing parsonage or to attempt to raise funds to construct a new six room structure. A large barn on the property was advertised for sale at the time. Seven years later The Dawson Herald reported that the new Methodist Parsonage was one of twenty-two new residences constructed in Dawson that year. The Women's Missionary Society reported the following year that a kitchen sink and cabinets had been installed in the parsonage. The sink was, apparently, the only indoor plumbing in the dwelling until the late 1930's or early 1940s.

Leaders of the Women's Missionary Society in the church by 1913 included Mrs. Edward Rupert Sims, Mrs. J P Broughton, Mrs. C F Hearn, Miss Cora Edwards (Later Mrs. Felix Davis), and Mrs. Pearl Morgan.


The Dawson Light & Power Co agreed to furnish electricity to all churches of the community for Twenty-five Cents per month. F H Meyer came to Dawson in the Spring of 1915 from Mexia where he had worked with electric generators and had married one of the Robinson daughters. The Dawson Electric Company generators were installed in a yellow painted structure located immediately south of the Dawson Tabernacle.


The Methodist Church grew suddenly when twenty Presbyterians united congregation.. The increase in membership created a demand for additional space and..in 1921…an addition to The Methodist Church was added to the south side of the building. The addition was completed in April 1921 and the church celebrated with a two week revival meeting. Twenty conversions were recorded, fourteen of whom united with the church. A Tent Revival in December resulted in twenty additions to the church.

The Sims Family had come to Texas from strong Presbyterian backgrounds in Tennessee. Members of the Sims Family had been instrumental in the formation of the Dawson Presbyterian Church, but when the local Presbyterian Church disbanded they became staunch Methodists. The name Sims is found again and again in reports and minutes of The Dawson Methodist Church. Members of the Sims family included McElroy, Lowrimore, Lancaster, and other families.

Miss Freddie Sims organized the Eppworth League in 1921.
Officers were:
Carrie Majors Lurline Holt Florrie Berrie
Leora Keeton Lillie Patterson Nellie Majors
Maggie Martin Lelia Johnson

Members were…….
Iley Berry Ernest Matthews Mary Evelyn Evans
Bobbie Lee Majors Charlie Lowrimore Lucy Cannon
Edgar Davis O K Vinson Bonnie McKeown
Retha Majors Kitty Ruth Matthews Mrs. Floyd Smith
Frances Richardson Johnnie Dean Geneva Bumpers
Herbert Wilkerson May Demony Doyle Bumpers
Cody Wilkerson Mary Eleanor Evans Jeanette Leary
Addie Cathey


J B Shaw R E Truett Spart Betty
Clyde Sims W G Wilkerson F H Butler
Tom Meridith M M Dickson W A Lancaster
W T Berry J H Dawson J L McColloch
J H Farmer Floyd Smith Rev J T McKeown
C C Turner J H Slaughter Rev W T Boulware


Mrs. C J Loveless (Loveless Drug Store), Supt. of Publicity, noted that Mrs. J Floyd Smith was serving as President. Mrs. Loveless reported
201 Visits to the sick
136 Trays of food distributed
41 Bouquets
110 Visits to shut-ins
48 Letter & cards sent
A "Tea" at the Dawson Bakery had cleared $7.70 for the organization. And…it was announced that the group would serve tea, sandwiches, and pie at the Dawson Picture show on Saturday, March 14, 1925.

Mrs. Winfred Berry was a member in 1925 and was presented in later life with a "Life Membership" Award by the group.

March 1929

The Rev. F O Waddill was pastor for the "Dirt Breaking" service. Other ministers included the Rev. T G Story and the Rev. Joseph T McKeown, both former pastors. Others who assisted in the "Dirt Breaking" included Milton M "Mack" Dickson * and Mrs. Mattie Sims **, both Charter Members of the church. The new structure was located on the east side of North Main Street just north of the Dan Simms residence and was constructed of wood frame covered with brick veneer trimmed with stone. The two story structure contained a 36X46 Sanctuary and eleven rooms.. Charles N Davis, a former resident of Dawson, served as contractor.

* Mack Dicksonwas a son of Milton M & Jane Graham Dickson who had come to Western Navarro Co. from Tennessee.

** Mrs. Mattie Sims, wife of William Thomas Sims, a brother of J Fred Sims. Mattie's father was one of the early Methodist missionaries to Brazil.

Their children were.....
Will Sims married Elizabeth Morgan
Bob Sims
Cordie Sims married Thomas Lyles
Beula Sims married Henry Dawson
Elizabeth married Joseph McElroy

The first service was conducted in June 1929 by the Rev. F O Waddill.



"The Brief Sermon"

Carl "Tubby" Matthews, age six, always attended the Baptist Church, but one Sunday morning he walked alone by the Methodist church and decided to see what went on there. After all, several of his friends attended there...and...everyone made him feel welcome. After Sunday School, he and W T Berry took places on a front pew and waited for the worship service to begin. The singing was finished, the offering had been "lifted," and the minister was just beginning to "Wax Elloquently" when Tubby heard the low whine of the siren at the Fire Station. That was the sound of real excitement in Dawson and Tubby was near the back door by the time the siren reached its peak. After all, his Mother was not there to restrain him. The only person out the front door before him was Mrs. Joe McElroy, wife of the Fire Chief.

The minister was left stranded in the middle of his sermon when most of the assembled congregation poured from the sanctuary.

Moments later, the 1928 red Chevy fire truck turned the corner by Swartz's Dry Goods and headed north up main street.....right in front of the Methodis Church. Uncle Joe McElroy was driving. Doug Wilkes was sitting with him up front and turning the hand crank siren. Several older Dawson boys.....Buckles McElroy, Edroy McKinney, and R M Akers were riding the rear platform.

Model "T" and Model "A" Fords were quickly cranked and joined the parade behind the fire truck as it headed north to the McCulloch home. Mr. McCulloch was a preacher and he and his family had left earlier in the day for some rural church were he was to preach. The flames and smoke from the house could be seen before the parade reached the house and there was little the firemen could do. The fire was contained, but the house and its contents were a total loss.

The fires scarred remains of the house stood for several years and became a haven for bumble bees which local boys battled from time to time using home crafted wood paddles with holes drilled through the large end.


"Vacation Bible School"

The Methodist and Baptist churches scheduled Vacation Bible School at separate times and many young people attended both schools. It was boring to have to endure the Bible stories that we had already heard...several times.....but it was worth it all to get to the handiwork that came as the Grand Finale each day.

Grocery stores saved wooden apple boxes all year and students engaged in making corner "What-not Shelves" as a surprise for Mothers. Coping saws had been employed to shape the parts and they had been put together with "shingle" nails. It was time to begin to paint our prizes.

William Clay "Happy" Turner was a few years older and a real tease. The object of his teasing that week had been Garland Allard and the fact that Garland was sweet on "Blue Eyed Jane." "Blue Eyed Jane" was Jane Garner. That morning...in the shade of the North side of the Methodist Church....Happy Turner got right up in Garland's face with his teasing. Garland just happened to have a brush filled with green paint... and before anyone could gasp....  Happy's face was covered with green paint. Everyone.. including Happy....was roaring with laughter....except Garland.


"The Rhythm Band"

One year the Vacation Bible School had a Rhythm Band. Some children shook tambourines...some struck metal triangles...Tubby Matthews hit two wooden sticks together. We were to perform a "Concert" at the Mertens Methodist Church on Sunday afternoon. It was Saturday morning when I announced the fact to my Mother and casually mentioned that we were supposed to have a uniform. 'A WHAT?????" "Why didn't you tell me earlier...?" She secured a pattern...cut up some old sheets...trimmed them with Green material from the Dry Good Store. By nightfall I had a uniform....... complete with a funny little Bell Boy cap a la "Call for Phillip Mor---ris."


All debt on the structure was, apparently, retired by 1943 and the edifice was dedicated in September of that year. Ross Smith was the minister. Members of the Board of Trustees included…..

C D Berry Winfred Berry D J Bumpers
H Hagle W P Johnson V T Matthews
J Floyd Smith Cliff C Turner John Lee McCulloch

Ray L Waller was serving as Supt. of the Church Sunday School.


It was in 1943 when members of the Harmony Methodist Church realized that their membership was steadily shrinking and that finding and supporting a minister was beyond the abilities of the small group.. The decision was made to close the church. Someone made a picture of the that final gathering at Harmony. WHAT WERE THE NAMES OF THOSE WHO CAME FROM HARMONY?

Ten years later, the Brushie Prairie Church disbanded and the remaining nine members moved to Dawson Methodist Church. WHAT WERE THE NAMES OF THOSE WHO CAME FROM BRUSHIE PRAIRIE?


It was on October 4, 1992 when members and friends of First United Methodist of Dawson gathered to celebrate the first one hundred years in the life of the church. Prentice Priddy, whose family had settled early in the Spring Hill area near Dawson, presented the "History Minute."

Fresh Altar Flowers, were given by the Holt and Lancaster families in memory of Claude L Holt who had attended Sunday School in the 1920s, of Emma Lancaster who had served as pianist for more than forty years, and of Carry May Westmoreland Holt who sang in the church choir for many years.


Jane Potts Jane Clark Melva Turner
Ann Lea Mildred Tanner Kirk Bogle

The Reverend Kent Seuser was Minister

Wanda Barton (now Floyd), Director

Linda Barnes Jessica Beason Heather Bell
Cloyce Floyd Rachel Gracia Rebeca Gracia
Bill Moore Goldie Rowan Kent Seuser
Laurie Seuser Gelene Simpson Paula Sullins
Mildred Tanner Diane Underwood Mark Underwood


Many of the names and happenings listed above generate rich memories… ..reminders that Dawson, Texas was once a bustling and vibrant community filled with individuals who lived when living was hard…who loved their community and their church and each other. These and other individuals contributed to the lives of hundreds of young people who lived in Dawson and who moved out into the world with a sense that right was right and wrong was wrong; that the church was important; that America was the greatest country on earth and worth fighting for; that there was strength in family, and that God was real.

Few will remember the Jettons, the Gills, the Wilkersons, the early Smiths and their families, but many of the names listed above are remembered with a warm glow in our heart and bring a smile to our face.

Some of us remember the Old Methodist Church located in Frog Level,. It was there that Spart Berry's daughter was married in 1928. Tubby Matthews was "Ring Bearer, and Wanda Sue Wilhite was "Flower Girl." Some remember when the New Methodist Church was constructed, and Mack Dickson, the kindly pharmacist who loved his church and community. Some remember that their parents were married by the Rev. Joseph T McKeon who came to Dawson almost a century ago and remained the beloved community minister.

Some remember Mrs. C F "Grandma" Hearn who was a member of the 1913 Women's Missionary Society, but who came to the Baptist Church Revival in 1933 to "Shout" and walk the aisles, clapping her hands and "praising God." Miss Cora Edwards was a member and became Mrs. Felix Davis.

Who could forget Miss Freddie Sims who organized the Eppworth League in 1921, who taught school, and married late in life. Members included the Major girls who lived north of town; Lurline Holt who married Glenn Sims; Edgar Davis who played clarinet in the town band, married the school teacher, and raised two fine sons; Addie Cathey who married Charles St John, the blacksmith; Charlie Lowrimore who married Annie Sims, the school teacher, and who was the Magnolia man; Mrs. Floyd Smith, one of the "True Ladies" of Dawson.

The Methodist Men's Class included men like Clyde Sims who with Jim Garner owned "Jimmy and Skinny's" Grocery Store and loved to sell penny candy to the children; Tom Meridith who raised prime cattle and was a man of his word; Spart Berry who was Dawson's Mayor and political leader for years; F H Butler, owner of The Dawson Hearld and a Christian Gentleman; Wince Lancaster… town barber, &  deer hunter… married Emma Sims, pianist for years at the Methodist Church; Lee McCulloch…ginner, hunter, gentleman…married Letha Sims; J H Farmer whose father led in the formation of The Brushie Prairie Methodist Church… who was so loved by the black residents they named their community Farmersville; Cliff Turner whose family went back to a President of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire; Floyd Smith….banker, true friend;

Mrs. C J "Allene" Loveless operated Loveless Drug Store for many years after the death of her husband in 1929 and raised a fine son, Cleatus, outstanding Dawson football player who became a fine man.

Bro. F O Waddill was a beloved pastor and led in the "Dirt Breaking" Ceremony for the New Church in 1929. His death a few years later was mourned by the entire community. Many will remember his daughter, Sue.

Most of the 1943 Trustees are gone but fondly remembered. Carlos Berry worked for years at the bank, later became Postmaster; Joseph Hagle was one of the most respected men in Dawson….whose family arrived in Western Navarro County from Germany 1848; Winfred Berry delivered the rural mail by buggy, by riding a mule, and by Model T Ford…a Christian Gentleman; V T Matthews family made the transition from Presbyterianism to Methodism, his grocery store served generations.

And few could forget the contributions of Ray L Waller who married the teacher, Miss Noble, and who taught school at Dawson, who served as football coach and principal, and was largely responsible for the formation of Navarro Junior College.

They were some of the Giants of Dawson who left a noble heritage for all who followed in their footsteps.

Carl W Matthews
POB 454
Rowell GA 30077 770 587 4350 [email protected]




1892 Baker
1894 J R Hixon
1896 W L Vinson
1896 N A Keen
1898 A T Culberson
1899 J J Canafax
1901 G C Shutt
1904 J H Walker
1906 J T McKeown
1907 R W Watson
1908 S P Neville
1910 V J Mills
1911 H B Urquhart
1912 A E Turney
1914 W H Harris
1916 T E Hightower
1917 Josephus Lee
1918 A E Carraway

* See
"Bro. Butrell's Halloween"
US GenWeb
Navarro Co Texas

1921 H B Clark
1924 W T Boulware
1926 T G Storey
1928 F O Waddill
1934 J W Chisholm
1935 C N Buttrill *
1937 J D Ramsey
1938 J Virgil Davis
1939 J P McGee
1940 Clarence Borger
1940 Henry Price
1942 Ross Smith
1944 H C Bowman
1946 Roy Davis
1948 Milton Slayden
1951 F O Garner
1952 Burt Gillis
1956 Geo. Matthews

1957 W L Milner
1959 Robert Sanders
1961 Robert Lindsey
1962 Wm Bill Horick
1963 Joe Worley
1965 Sam Mohundro
1966 Steven Love
1968 Ernest Hewitt
1970 Bernie Stein
1973 Lawrence Clayton
1975 Hal Duncan
1984 Gary Torian
1984 Bruce Carpenter
1985 Morris Walworth
1987 D Keith Beck
1990 Klel Quesenberry
1992 Kent Seuser

Carl W Matthews
POB 454
Roswell GA 30077

770 587 4350
[email protected]
January 2002

PICTURES to be included HELP!

1. The 1892 Structure located in Frog Level - in hand
2. The 1929 Structure on North Main street - needed
3. Men's Bible Class….date unknown..Margaret Berry
4. As many former pastors as can be found - needed
5. As many former members as can be found - needed
6. The Dawson Tabernacle
7. Grandma Hearne - in hand
8. Vacation Bible Schools
9. Various church gatherings
10. Dedication ceremonies
11. Other……

Please…YOU can…help with this important history that will be lost in another

Dawson Methodist Church

The note
"M E (Church) Dawson"
written on this picture….
would indicate that the
structure was…… PICTURE

of Dawson, Texas
Construction on the edifice was begun
in 1892 and, apparently, completed by CHURCH
the following year.

Carpenters on the project included
James Alexander Berry 1843-1906
S A "Uncle Steve" Hill

The structure was located on the west
side of South Main Street…three
block south of the railroad.



Navarro County TXGenWeb
© Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox