Saturday, June 21, 2014

This Week in Texas Methodist History  June 22

MEC Builds Church at Mustang Creek, Manvel  1912

One of the fastest growing areas in the United States is northern Brazoria County and adjacent areas of Galveston and Harris Counties.  Pearland, for example, has been transformed into a city of 100,000 in the blink of an eye.  Where subdivisions grow, Methodist churches are soon to follow.  One of the great strengths of the Methodist system has been in its ability to provide new churches to new communities.  That has been true not just in the present, but throughout our history.  

Settlement patterns in Brazoria County are among the most interesting in Texas.  Lands along the Brazos River were the most desirable in Austin’s Colony in the 1820s and 1830s.  Land grants to Austin’s family members were along the lower course of the Brazos.  The desirability of those lands was based on a vision of plantations of cotton and cane being serviced by steam boats.  

On the other hand, the upland prairies in Brazoria and other coastal counties were not attractive throughout most of the 19th century.  The lack of wood, poor drainage, muddy roads, and environmental factors discouraged small subsistence farms like those being established in the wooded areas of Texas.   Much of the land on the coastal plain remained in the public domain.

Finally in the late 19th century those lands were awarded to railroad companies as bonuses for laying track.  Vacant land was of little use to the railroads.  They needed to make those lands productive so they could haul the products of the land.  Sometimes the railroad companies set up their own land development offices and sometimes they sold huge tracts to other developers.  The first farms and orchards established in the 1890s by agricultural immigrants were wiped out by the Storm of 1900, but in the next decade they were rebuilt.
The Allison & Richey Land Company was one of the developers in Brazoria County.  They were very amenable to making building lots available to churches.  After all, the company interest was in making the community as attractive as possible.  

The Texas Conference Archives has recently acquired a history of the Mustang Creek Methodist Episcopal Church written by Charles Schlechte the founding pastor and a member of the Southern German Conference of the MEC.  

Such a first person account is rare and provides such interesting insights; I have transcribed it and preserved the original spelling.

Historical Record of the Mustang Creek Meth. Epis. Church, Manvel, Texas

In July, 1911 I called on Bro. Max Witthaus Manvel Texas who had written a card to Bro. Reifschneider*, asking him if there were any german services near Manvel or Alvin, he would be very thankful for information.  During that week we had a german service in Mr. John Mohr’s Store Manvel Texas.  By canvassing the country, I had found several germans.

Since then I preached in Manvel in the Brethern Church to the german people till July, 1912.  We saw, to keep up the mission, we also had to preach in the english language for there were quite a few english speaking people that were not taken care off in spiritual life and the germans alone were not strong enough , so we united and held a meeting  which proved  to be a great blessing to the community.  Nine joined the church, seven probation and two with papers.

We saw the necessity of having a house of worship for the Mustang Creek schoolhouse on Section E, Lot 37, was to small to accomidate the people , so we agreed to erect a house of worship.  The location commite  selected Section E, Lot 37, belonging to the Allison Richey Land Co.    Allison Richey land Co. donated 9 acres of Section #, Lot 37,for a Church Edifice, parsonage and burial purposes. 
We started to build Nov. 13, 1912.  Bro. H. Pearson superintended the work and nearly all the neighbors helped, the entire labor being worth about $300.00 The church was dedicated Dec. 15, 1912.  

Through most of its existence Mustang Creek at Manvel was on a circuit with Alvin and Algoa.   

*Riefschneider was the Galveston Port Chaplain. 


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