Saturday, May 16, 2009

This Week in Texas Methodist History May 17

First UMC Hempstead Dedicates THC Marker May 17, 2009

The Texas Historical Commission is the state agency charged with oversight of the states historical resources. One of their programs involves placing markers at important historical sites. Applicants work with the local county Historical Commission to determine whether the site is important and to formulate appropriate text.

On Sunday, May 17, 2009, First UMC, Hempstead, will dedicate a marker commerating 150 years of that congregation's service to its community.

Hempstead was founded in 1858 when the Houston and Texas Central Railway completed its tracks to that point. The new town boomed. The Civil War quickly followed, and Confederate officials established a prisoner of war camp nearby. Reconstruction was accompanied by Union soldiers, including George Custer, and the development of Hempstead as a merchandising center for the farms that soon filled up the Brazos bottomlands just to the west of the city. Later, in the 20th century, Hempstead became the largest shipper of watermelons in the United States. The melons were grown on the sandy uplands rather than the Brazos bottoms.

Besides the Methodist church, there were also Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Protestant Episcopal churches. There was also a Jewish synagogue. The large number of African Americans in the area attracted the attention of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the African American Methodist denominations.

We salute Hempstead First United Methodist Church for its 150 years of service and for its obtaining a THC marker.


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