Grapeland Texas

Queen City Of The Sand Flats

 When the Baptist church was organized in Grapeland there were very few Baptists. Services were led by Dr. F. C. Woodard in the upper story of the old school building.

Grapeland Texas

Religious Heritage

Church of Christ




First Baptist Church - 1909

                                                             First Baptist Church


     When the Baptist church was organized in Grapeland there were very few Baptists. Services were led by Dr. F. C. Woodard in the upper story of the old school building.

     In 1889, Brother H. F. Harris conducted services for 34 members under a brush arbor beside the little school house.

     Amid all hardships the little church kept growing until 1909. The members planned and started the new church building. The three most faithful members through all this time were Dr. Woodard, Mrs. Jim Leaverton, and Mrs. Henry Leaverton. They had great influence over the other workers and were the greatest cause of the new building. In the summer of 1911, the membership had grown to 85 members. Sunday School Superintendent was Mr. W. D. Granberry, Mr. T. S. Kent was assistant Superintendent, and Mr. C. L. Haltom was collector.

     It was in July, 1915 that one of our best workers and teachers was taken away by death Mrs. Jim Leaverton. The church felt keenly the loss of this faithful member.

     Brother S. W. Edge was pastor for several years and under his direction the congregation grew to approximately 105 members.

     For the next few years there were several preachers that helped with the spiritual and physical growth of the church.

     Until 1918, they had services only once a month, but after that date, they began having services on the first and third Sundays. New seats and lights were purchased during this time. There were 164 members.

     Late in 1920, a new pastor was again called, Brother Fred J. Newland. He only served one year. He was a young unmarried man, not very serious except in the church house. But he was really a good pastor and had a good influence over the church.

     In 1923 the church had no pastor for a short time. There were 220 members now enrolled in the church.

     Until 1924, Grapeland Baptist Church had no parsonage. So the halftime pastor at Lovelady was also halftime pastor at Grapeland. He lived at Lovelady since that church had a parsonage. In that year, the Grapeland Baptist Church bought the home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Richards--at the parsonage's present location on Myrtle and Orange. Brother McCall and his family were the first to live there.

     Following Brother McCall was Reverend Walter R. Tubbs. During his pastorate an annex and the baptistery were added to the church building which stood intact until completely destroyed by fire June 19, 1948. The present church building was completed in December of 1949.

     During the months without a building, the Baptists again met in the public school facilities.

     Pastors following Bro. Tubbs were Charles Simpson, T. F. Lott, Kenneth Hiner, Walter Floyd, Carl E. Greer, W. E. Vaughn, J. A. Haley, Scott Turner, Don Allen, Bland Kerby, J. T. Riley, Charles H. Haley, Kenneth Mobley, and the present pastor, Wesley Johnson.

                                                             First Baptist Church


                                                             Grapeland Missionary Baptist Church


                                                    Word Alive Ministries        

First Christian Church   

                                          First Christian Church                

     The First Christian Church in this section was organized at a place called 'Red House' about three or three and a half miles northeast of Grapeland about the year 1872. The community got its name from a large red house which was used as a store and a general meeting place for the surrounding community. It was there that a Christian Church building was first erected. Red House was on the site of an early Indian settlement. The church was then moved to the old Enon community where a house of worship was erected, and in the year 1882 the church was transferred to Grapeland.

     When the church was moved to Grapeland, services were held in the old school building which stood on the site f the presentBaptist Church. The three ministers who were responsible for the transfer of the Church to Grapeland and whose names still linger with and whose influence for the up building of spiritual leadership continues to grow were Rev. Wilson, Rev. Kyle and Rev G. M. Hollingsworth. Miss Kitty Yarbrough of this city was the last surviving charter member of the church. She became a member when she was sixteen years of age and the church was located at Red House. Miss Kitty came to church here when she was twenty years of age.

     The present house of worship was erected in 1895 at a sacrifice of time, materials and money and was first located on a lot donated by the late J. F. Martin, and the building was moved to its present location in 1915. Mr. Charlie Walling and Mr. J. N. Sory built the First Christian Church in Grapeland. Miss Lively, Mr. Taylor Lovely’s daughter, was the first organist and Bro. George Hollingsworth brought the first message in this new church. When the heavy winter and spring rains came, members of this church often had to wade to the entrance of the church. Because of this, the original location proved to be very unsatisfactory.

     In 1915, T. H. Leaverton who was in the lumber and construction business in Grapeland donated a lot that would be a satisfactory location and the church voted to move the church building to this lot. When the actual moving of the church began, it was ascertained that it would be impossible to move the church that distance without the building being destroyed and so the church was placed in its present location. The church bought the lots where the church building now stands from W. G. Darsey and Geo. E. Darsey, Sr., March 4, 1915. J. E. Hollingsworth, J. S. Yarborough, and E. W. Davis signed this deed as trustees of the church.

     Some of the ministers following the Rev. Hollingsworth were Rev. C. C. Hamilton, Rev. Q. A. Riall, Rev. J. F. Brill, Rev. F. M. Trimble, Rev. Cagle, Rev.C. F. Trimble, and Rev. T. L. Dickey.

First United Methodist Church


     Settlers from many states began to arrive in the Grapeland area and with them Methodism. In the spring of 1888, Pope Pledger, assisted by Brother Bolten from Crockett organized the Grapeland Methodist Church. Many of the settlers were actually Presbyterian, but since there was a Methodist Circuit Minister they became very active Methodists. Some of the charter members were Brother Duran, Mrs. Hannah Johnson, John Foster and wife, B. F. Hill and Mrs. P. C. Yarbrough. The first services were held in a little boxed school house, which stood at the site of the present Baptist Church. There all the different denominations held their Sunday school and church services. A new school was built and the Methodist continued to meet in the school until 1893. At that time the New York and Texas Land Company donated land where the parsonage now stands, and the church was erected on this site. Reverend D. L. Cain was pastor and the building was dedicated by the presiding elder, L. M. Fowler.

                                                             First United Methodist Church

     In 1895, a Methodist parsonage was built on the corner of Maple and Olive Streets and Brother W. F. Hardy was the first it entrant Methodist preacher to live in a parsonage in Grapeland. The church grew and in 1901, it had approximately 100 members.

     The ladies of the church took active part in its growth and on November 14, 1899, they organized the Grapeland Auxiliary Women's Home Missionary Society which was the forerunner of the Woman Christian Society. Some of the early members were Miss Maggie Campbell, Mrs. George E. Darsey Sr., Mrs. Frank Faris, Mrs. N. E. Spence, Mrs. James Owens, Mrs. S. N. Boykin Sr., Mrs. W. D. Taylor, Mrs. John A. Davis, Mrs. M. L. Clewis and Mrs. Fannie Woodell.

                                                             Methodist W. S. C. S. 1950s

     Ten pastors came and went and in 1918, a new parsonage was built during the pastorate of Brother G. E. Buttrell and the seeds sown which produced the present church building.

     Early one morning in the spring of 1923, Rev. B. C. Anderson, the building committee and members of the church gathered and began tearing the old building down. The good lumber was saved for use in the new building. The Methodist ladies served lunch on the ground for the workers. The parsonage was rebuilt in 1953, while Brother W. H. Dunlap was pastor. The parsonage was again updated in the 70s when Rev. Billy Bonner was pastor. A bedroom, bath and carport were added, the old section was redecorated, central heat and air was installed and the entire home was bricked.

     In 99 years, the Grapeland Methodist Church has progressed through 6 building programs and 50 pastors, including the incumbent, Brother Randy Fitzgerald.

Judge John H. Davis Reminisced in 1916

     Jim Beazley, the first merchant, was a great hunter, and while he was building his storehouse used to go hunting for deer at night with a fire pan on his head. They called it fire hunting. Well, one night Jim Beazley and his darkey-- the darkey carried the pine for the fire pan-- were hunting in the woods south of what is now Grapeland, and Jim killed a fine young mule instead of a deer. The mule belonged to Mrs. C. P. Yarborough. Her son. John Yarborough, came to town next day to find the slayer and collect. He had no way of proving who killed the mule but Jim Beazley saw him across the way, knew what he wanted and called him, told him he had killed the mule, and very willingly paid the $60 the owner asked. Folks were very inclined to the right thing in those days.

     An incident of this mule-killing was the shout of the darkey when the gun fired and the mule fell. 'We killed him, Mr. Beazley,', but later when Beazley remarked, we killed somebody's mule,' the darkey emphatically disclaimed any part of the credit. 'You killed him sir.’ he said.

                                                           Rising Star Baptist Church

St. John's Baptist Church

                                                           St. John's Baptist Church

     Partial report of St. John Baptist church. In 1904 St John Church held services in a one room house which also served as a school house. The Methodist held their services in this building as well. Among the deacons serving were Andrew Herod, Steve Howard, George Herod, Shedrack Herod, Elex Wilson, and Lewis Murchison. Later a new building was erected on the same campus and served the same purpose.

     After a few years the church was moved to the present location where a modern building has been erected including a Baptistery, dining room, new pews, and new heating system, and loud speaker. The present building was moved to the present site in 1912.

     The first pastor of the church was Rev. Andrew Mitchell. The first teacher was Augusta Hale Hicks. The deacons at the first writing of Crossroads in 1972 were S. L. Jackson, R. L. Shepherd, J. T. Hicks, Isaiah Robinson, Tom Potts, Algie Davis, Bennie Johnson and Dean Odom. The deacons serving the church in 1986 are Algie Davis, J. T. Hicks, Delbert Simpson, Walter Tillis, S. L. Jackson, L. C. McElroy and James L. Shepherd.

                                                             Baptismal Scene at Ephesus

Bro. W. R. Durnell was the minister at this Baptismal Service at Ephesus.  Once a year a baptism was held for all who had joined the church.  The above picture was taken about 1922.  The baptising took place in the Little Elkhart Creek on the Old Palestine Road.


                                                             Assembly of God Church

Oak Grove Church

                                                            Oak Grove Baptist church

     In the last years of the brief life of the Republic of Texas or in the early days of the state of Texas some men and women were led by God to build a church in the vicinity of that area that is now Oak Grovel will build my Church', and here in Grapeland we have seen the Lord Jesus do that. These settlers were more interested in worship of the Living God than in recording their history. From this through several locations and even the changing of the name has come the present Oak Grove Baptist Church. From scraps of paper, old gin weight books, backs of letters, microfilm at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Association's minutes and personal memories have come this history.

     Early records mentioned that the church was constituted in the 1840s. Beginning in 1848 sometimes the church would almost die and then be resurrected to a greater life. Attending the meeting of the Texas Baptist Association of September 20, 1868 at PleasantGrove Baptist Church, delegates of the Friendship Church (later to be known as Oak Grove) were S. F. Wall, Wm. Burnett, and Perry Halloman. The mailing address of the church at this time was Crockett, Texas and the location was in Anderson County. Pastor S. F. Wall was pastor and the clerk was J. Morrison. That year the church had one new member by baptism, eight by letter making the total membership thirteen.

                                                             Oak Grove Baptist Church

     In 1868 the association met on the Saturday before the fourth Sabbath at loni Church where the churches were placed in districts.Friendship Church (Oak Grove) was put into the second district with Liberty, Elkhart, Alabama and Macedonia churches. A footnote at the bottom of the association’s minutes stated 'The meeting of all the churches commences on Saturday before the Sabbath stated.'

     Perry Halloman was pastor when the association met at Crockett in 1869 and also when it met at Calvary in Trinity in 1871. The delegates to the association in 1872 were M. L. Wortham, N. S. Herod, and Pastor S. F. Wall. Pastor Wall was paid $20.00 for the year by the church's eighteen members. The church at this time was called Friendship Church at Grapevine.

     In 1873 the Texas Baptist Association became the Neches River Baptist Association and Friendship church was represented by Pastor S. F. Wall and delegates J T. Keen, G. D, Hardin, and A. W. Pelham.

     Crockett, Friendship, New Bethel, and Pennington reported mid-week prayer service in 1874.

     The association records show that the church membership had grown to fifty-seven members by 1875. The delegates listed during the 1870s were N. H. Handcock, Mat Miller, Thomas Kincade, E. K. Lively, G. W. Boatman, Jasper Hardin, and R. S. Owens. The Neches River Association met on Saturday October 23, 1875 at 11 o'clock at Friendship Church. For the first time there was a Sunday school and an educational report of eight students given. They recommended that a school of higher learning be established at Pennington.

     In 1879 G. H. Stovall, pastor of Friendship Church recommended that 'Only members who have evidence of salvation be accepted, that none be accepted without immersion, and that the rolls be purged of heretics'.

     In 1880 the association recognized three missionaries. One of these missionaries was Pastor Wall. He promoted Sabbath school and educated when there were few. Pastor Wall was very faithful through this time.

     According to local records, in 1881 Friendship's name was changed to Grapevine Baptist Church. The church was called Grapevine until 1890 when it was then changed to Oak Grove Baptist Church at Grapeland, Texas. According to the Neches River Seminary records of 1881 the church name was Grapeland with an address of Grapeland, Texas. It remained Grapeland in the seminary records until 1885 when it was again listed as Friendship. In 1886, the records do not show a Friendship or Grapeland, but the church at Refuge lists the delegates as N. S. Herod, K. K. Lively and S. H. Stovall (delegate and pastor). 1887 records list N. S. Herod as delegate and Wm Hill as pastor at Refuge. The name Oak Grove first appears in association records in 1888 listing J. E. Bean as clerk, J. F. Johnson as pastor and Wm Kolb as delegate. In 1891 the Oak Grove church showed a membership of twenty-three, a pastor's salary of twenty-five dollars per year, and total gifts of twenty-five dollars and seventy cents. The property was valued at three 'hundred dollars. In 1893 J. E. Bean was ordained as a minister.

     Oak Grove gave eighty-five cents to missions in December, 1895. The pastor was J. E. Bean, and the delegate was Willie Kolb, The membership totaled fifty. The Oak Grove School had three levels of learning, one teacher and twenty-seven students.

     In 1898 Oak Grove and three other churches left the association because of the 'Hayden Controversy', but returned in 1902.

     The educational building was built in 1917 and in 1925 Pat Taylor and Graton Streetman were ordained as deacons. Eighty-one dollars and fifty cents was donated to retire the indebtedness of Southern Baptist Convention.

     In 1926 Oak Grove seated five delegates to the Sunday school convention at Waco.

     In 1934 a committee was formed to clear the church title and deed of the church property. A piano was purchased and paid for on a monthly basis. The church was doing so well in 1948 that they paid the light bill in advance for the year in the amount of eighteen dollars.

      In 1950 the church voted to begin half-time services attending only the second and fourth Sundays due to the loss of members.

     Pastor F. Jack Edwards served the church from 1973 until 1982. Pastor Edwards helped build a new sanctuary and began the educational building. Sam Hill Newman had sent the church seventeen dollars and fifty cents to start a building fund in 1975 and this challenged the church to give until over forty thousand-three hundred and fifty dollars had been collected.

      Men cleared the trees. The slab costing four thousand dollars was poured. Over thirty-four hundred hours of labor was volunteered by the men and women into the building of this church. Friends, former members and foundations sent money to help on the project and the building fund now was eight thousand dollars.

     A revival was held on the bare slab and Sunday school classes were held there. Then when the walls were up, classes used it without a roof. As soon as the pulpit platform was built, the men's class used it. The baptistery was filled with a water hose, and a tarp provided walls for the candidate to be baptized in.

     In 1979 Easter Sunday services were held in the new auditorium and by November a new piano was given and a new organ purchased.

     The dedication services for the new building were held on February 24, 1980.

     In 1982 three deacons were recognized and called to serve, E. L. Clapp, Doug Cutler, and Larry Hughes. Brother Davy Hobson began as interim pastor in December. He later became pastor.

     In 1986 Oak Grove now has a fulltime pastor and nine deacons with seven young preachers licensed to try for the ministry. Church membership enrolled in Sunday school totals 202.

     Oak Grove has the names of seventy-eight pastors who have served the church. These served 94 years of the138 years of the history of the church. The names of the pastors that served the other 44 years are unknown. The first pastor known was S. F. Wall in 1868. He served 7 years. Our present one, Davy Joe Hobson has served for 4 years.

Sunset Church & Community

                                                            Sunset Christian Church

     The geographical location of Sunset Community lies roughly between FM Road 228 and FM Road 227 east of Grapeland, including the property adjoining FM Road 228 on the north and the property adjoining FM Road 227 on the south. The western north-south boundary is about one to one and a half miles from Grapeland, while the eastern boundary stretches approximately four miles east of Grapeland on FM Road 228 to about four miles east of Grapeland on FM Road 227.

     According to the "History of the First Christian Church of Grapeland", a community was located about two and one half miles east of Grapeland and just north of the present FM Road 228. Its name was Red House, which derived from a big red house situated there. This community was relocated just south of the present FM Road 228 from the original site of the red house. It was renamed Enon, or combined with Enon to form one community in the late 1850's or 1860's. It was reported that a school was at Enon in 1859 and the school was used as a place of worship.

     On the western frontier, it was common for people to give Biblical names to schools and churches as was the case in this instance. The name Enon is derived from the Aramaic work "Aenon" which means "springs". It was at Aenon in Israel that John the Baptist was baptizing while Jesus was baptizing in Judea (John 3:22, 23).

     The Enon School and church was located just off a crystal clear spring called Mill Branch - a spring which we would today call a creek. Near this school was located an industry which received its power from a water wheel on Mill Branch. The water wheel gave power to operate a grist mill, a wood lathe, cotton gin and other tools used to manufacture products needed in the community. Bricks were manufactured and a saw mill was operated here. Two syrup mills were worked nearby on San Pedro Creek bottom. Ruins of the Mill Branch dam and the viaduct which carried the water all the way (some seven to eight hundred yards) to the banks of the creek bottom are sill very visible.

     Old family names in the community are: Hollingsworth, Kyle, Yarborough, Oliver, Brimberry, Green, Langham, Walton, Edge, Lively, Hague, Smith, Davis, Brooks, Driskell, Yates, Browning, Shaver, Ramey, Skidmore, Lock, Brown, Owens, Story, Bynum, Leamons, Mason, Matthews, Mills, Thedford, Whitaker, Allen, Cook, Strowbridge, Garretts and Ingrams. The Greens, Waltons, Edges, Brownings and Ingrams all came from Forsythe (Monroe County), Georgia, in the 1870's and some of them assisted in the operation of the water wheel and the various industries associated with it.

     The "History of the First Christian Church at Grapeland" notes that the Christian Church at Grapeland and the Christian Church of Sunset grew out of the church in Enon. the Sunset Christian Church is located on FM Road 227 about two and one half miles east of Grapeland, and approximately three fourths of a mile south of the first Enon school site.

     After there was no longer a need for power generated by the conventional waterwheel, the center of the community shifted south and east from the first Enon school site. The Sunset Christian Church was established on its present site in 1903 - using a brush arbor for church   Sunset Christian Church                                        

     A new site for the Enon School was given by Mr. I.E. Edge and was located on the present FM Road 227 and about one-half miles east of the Sunset Church in 1911. The Houston County Superintendent of School records indicate that the Enon Public School (on its new site) began as a one teacher school with Miss Ruby Cook as the teacher. A second instructor was added in 1914 and a third came aboard in 1917, when it became a grades one through ten schools. In 1925 an eleventh grade was added so that students could go through eleven grades to graduate. The following year the school was reduced to a ten grade school again and remained that way until a year before it was consolidated with the Grapeland Independent School District in 1932.

     Since 1932 the focus of community life has centered on the two churches; Shiloh Primitive Baptist and the Sunset Christian (Disciples of Christ) Churches. The community has carried the name Sunset. An early settler by the name of George A. Brimberry gave the original 1.5 acres for the church site with the understanding that it be called Sunset Christian Church. The site was directly west of the Brimberry home site by design - he could look toward the setting sun each day and observe the brilliance of the setting sun upon his house of worship. Mr. Brimberry fought in the Civil War and was determined to impress upon his grandchildren the virtues of Biblical teachings such as "turning your implements of war into plowshares", by providing them some miniature plowshares made from Civil war hardware.

     Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church is another landmark in the area. It is to be found on Farm Road 227 across the road from where the last Enon School was built. Shiloh was a city in Ephraim, twelve miles north and east of Bethel in Israel. It was just south of where Enon (Aenon) was thought to be located. Shiloh was regarded by many Jews and Christians as a reference to the Messiah. There are at least two churches in Houston County bearing the name Shiloh. It is interesting to note again that Sunset Community has both an Enon and a Shiloh.

     The Shiloh Church minutes indicate that a Brother Matthew gave 1.5 acres of land to the Shiloh congregation in 1866 for the church site. Mr. J.J. Brooks, a prominent man in the community, once owned a farm and a home near the Shiloh Church. "The Grapeland Messenger" files report that he was a participant in the Primitive Baptist Church Association and its meeting at the PilgrimPrimitive Baptist Church near Elkhart, Texas. This would confirm reports that the descendants of Daniel Parker had a hand in the early development of the church. Major repair work both inside and out has been done and the congregation still worships regularly in the original building.

     The three cemeteries in the community are named Dunnam-Harmon, Davis and Owens-Tyer. The Dunnam- Harmon Cemeteryis found about two miles east of Grapeland off the Percilla Road, FM Road 228, on property now owned by the Cunningham family. It is on private land and no longer used for burials. Some of the headstones date back to 1899.

     Davis Cemetery is situated three miles east of Grapeland on the Augusta Road, FM Road 227. L.M. Davis gave land for the original site and additional acreage has been purchased for the cemetery by Edgar Brooks. Memorial Day is observed with a homecoming each year on the Sunday before Memorial Day in May. Some of the earlier headstones date back to the early eighteen sixties.

     The Owens-Tyer Cemetery was established immediately south of the Davis Cemetery about one-fourth of a mile. Robert (Bob) Owens gave the land and some of the markers refer to the 1880's.

     The Sunset Community is on the western edge of the western part of the Neches River water-shed. The soil is for the most part a deep sandy soil with occasional red clay out-crops. Many beautiful springs of clear water dot the landscape and provide for year-round streams winding their way to the Neches River. These streams now provide water for many reservoirs - big and small. One of the oldest man-made lakes in this area, Grapeland Country Club Lake, was completed in 1928, and served as the recreational outlet for the affluent people of Grapeland through the 1950's. It is on the San Pedro Creek about three-fourths of a mile north of SunsetChurch.

     From the turn of the century until the 1930's, the primary industry here was farming - mostly cotton and corn. In the 1930's it became a multi-agribusiness area: forestry, ranching and fruits and vegetables. Since the 1950's, the main crops have been: peanuts, peas and watermelons. Most of the land has now been converted to range and forestry.

     According to a short history of the community by Charles D. Story, a native son, written to Dean Colby D. Hall, Brite College of the Bible, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas, June 23, 1953, an interesting commercial venture paralleled the development of one of the churches. Around 1900 Rev. B.R. Brill, a Yankee who came here by way of Shelby County, Texas, became the minister of Sunset Church. Some of the pioneers in the church use to remind others that as little children they were frightened when in his presence because they had heard bad things about the Yankees. Rev. Brill moved to the Sunset area and bought a farm next to the church property and managed a plant nursery. Apparently the nursery business was a success for in 1907 Rev. W.N. Warlick bought Rev. Brill's nursery and became the minster of Sunset Church. In 1907 the first church house was constructed and the congregation no longer met in the arbor. Brother Warlick preached there and kept the nursery until 1912 when he sold it to Mr. R.E. Hague from Waco, Texas. Mr. Hague became very popular, not only for his outstanding religious leadership, but also for his charming wife and daughters. Although not an ordained minister, Mr. Hague gave himself to the church for eighteen years as an elder and the keeper of the diminishing nursery.

     In 1934 a new church was built. Brother M.L. Dickey was minster from 1932 to 1946, and although he did not maintain the original nursery as related to some of the previous ministers, he did establish, not too far away, one of the best peach orchards in the vicinity.

     Through the efforts of the Brimberry heirs, the Edge Family and the Spence family, approximately 2 1/2 acres were added to the church property at the Sunset church site.

     The sanctuary was rebuilt in 1950 on the same foundation as the one constructed in 1934 and served as the church until 1977 when a completely new building was erected – primarily with voluntary work from the community and contributions from those members who were still living out of the community• In 1985, the John A. Brimberry home was purchased for the church parsonage, and Rev. Jesse Pugh was hired as the minister who presently serves in this capacity.

     The greatest resource of the community is, of course, the PEOPLE -those who were reared here and those who moved in. Those who left to find their niche in the world as professionals, technicians, and whatever, kept in touch with the folks back home and remained part of the dynamics of the Sunset community - their home. The performance reflected a good upbringing and true loyalty to their heritage. A grandson of Mrs. M.L. Whitaker (now ninety-four years young and still serving as secretary of Shiloh Church) discovered a comet while still in high school in South Texas. He had the privilege of naming it. Guess what? We now have a comet circling the planets and bearing as part of its name "Whitaker" with roots going back to the Sunset Community.

     The people who stayed at Sunset and those many who are returning to retire here after decades of absence, offer enthusiasm for living and the natural surrounding beauty. Their care for the land, natural resources, their home, and their sense of responsibility to be "their neighbors' keepers" reflect an ardent desire to pass on "the good things of life".

St. Mary's A.M.E. Church

                                                             St. Mary's A. M. E. Church

     The first St. Mary's A. M. E. Church was founded by three members, Mary Lewis, Mattie Batts and Harrett Goodson. The date of the Church’s beginning is not known but the first pastor as Rev. Gilford.

     The old church building was constructed in 1934. The membership at that time included Silas McKenny, Helen McKenny, Will Haze, Mary Haze and Handy Black.

     The present church building was constructed in 1969 under the leadership of Rev. William T. Vaughn. The membership during this period was Jim Singletary, Adam Carr, Sally Black, Maria Baker, Curlee Johnson, Mary Gardner, Mattie Batts, Laura Simpson, and Greta Taylor.