Saturday, October 29, 2011

This Week in Texas Methodist History October 30

Recognized Historic Site #1 Dedicated at Oak Island, Bexar County

Regular readers of this column are aware of the Recognized Historic Site program of the General Commission on Archives and History. A list of recognized sites may be found at

One notices immediately that Texas has far more historic sites than any other state. (106 of a total of 462 sites) The presence of several annual conferences within the boundaries of Texas helps explain the large number of recognized sites. The vigor with which the various Texas annual conferences Commissions on Archives and History pursue their mission also explains the large number of sites.

One also notices that Historic Site #1 is in Texas. It is at the Oak Island Church in Bexar County about 15 miles south of downtown San Antonio near the Highway 16 crossing of the Medina River. The cemetery beside the church contains the final resting place of the Rev. John Wesley Devilbiss, the subject of several previous columns. In October 1880 Devilbiss retired to his ranch home, Palo Blanco, at Oak Island. He died on January 1885 and was buried at the church cemetery where he had worshipped in his retirement.

Mrs. W. W. Jackson was the local church historian who researched the history of Oak Island Church necessary for a successful historic site application. On November 2, 1969 Bishop O. Eugene Slater of San Antonio led a celebration in honor of the Historic Site #1 designation. The guests included Senator Ralph Yarborough. The most recent Historic Site designation was recently held at First UMC Euless.


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