Several interesting stories have surfaced since my last article, ones that you will enjoy. As I have said before, every single day is like Christmas here at the DHCC office, and I can’t wait to get there every morning and see what else I can learn about Parker County and its history. This week, some very important research finally was finished involving altar pieces dating back to the 1870s that belonged to the Presbyterian Church. Dr. Fred Ryle did the research, and here is what he found:

“When Grace First Presbyterian Church of Weatherford moved into its new home on Mockingbird Lane in 1974, I received a call from one of our older members, Mrs. Roy (Arlie) Voorhees. She had been raised south of town at Spring Creek. She was a member of the large Pickard clan that had been active in the Spring Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church, beginning in the late 19th century. She had a silver communion and baptismal set from her old church which consisted of an ewer (pitcher), two chalices (cups), two patens (plates) and a small baptismal font, all matching pieces. This silver communion and baptismal set from her old church, she wanted to give to the new one. When I asked why there were two chalices, she said that one chalice was passed along the pews on the one side of the main aisle and the other on the side.

“In the early 1980s, a man drove into the church parking lot and stopped Mrs. W. E. (Jerry) Newberry Jr., as she was on her way to Sunday School. He handed her a box that contained a silver ewer, two chalices and two patens. The ewer was engraved: Given to the Weatherford Presbyterian Church of Weatherford by Mr. L.A. Malloy. The man told Jerry that he had found these in the attic of his aunt’s house in West Texas. Although she invited him in to church, he said he was on his way east and could not stop. He just wanted these pieces to get to the right spot.

“Jerry brought the box in to Sunday School class. Later we discovered that we had the matching baptismal bowl to this set. So now we had a second set of six pieces used for the sacraments in a Parker County Presbyterian Church in the 19th century. As we researched our history, we discovered that the Weatherford Presbyterian Church was the first name used by the congregation organized in 1874 by the Presbyterian Church in the United States, the ‘Southern’ branch of the Presbyterianism.

“In 1989, just as we were publishing our history book On Our Way Rejoicing, we received a call from a man in Vancouver, Wash. He asked why he had a box of six pieces of silver that had the name of the First Presbyterian Church of Weatherford, Texas, engraved on them. Of course, we couldn’t answer his question, but we offered to purchase them. When they arrived, there was an ewer, two chalices, two patens and a baptismal font. It was engraved: Given to the First Presbyterian Church of Weatherford, Texas, by the Ladies Missionary Society of the State Street Presbyterian Church Albany, N.Y., 1878.

“A third set of communion and baptismal ware that had been used in a Presbyterian congregation in Weatherford, Texas, in the 19th century. Again we did more research. The Weatherford Presbyterian Church had been organized in 1874 but did not have a permanent pastor. After seeking several, Rev. H.A. Tucker from Buffalo, Mo., answered the call. When he came, he was related to the Presbyterian Church, USA (New York Headquarters) and even though it was 11 years after the Civil War, the two basic branches of Presbyterianism had not been reconciled.

“So a new congregation was begun, related to the General Assembly in New York. Though it was the third Presbyterian Church organized in Weatherford, it was named ‘First Presbyterian Church’ because it was indeed the first of the ‘Northern’ branch. That congregation continued until about 1892 when some how the Weatherford Presbyterian Church took the name of ‘First Presbyterian Church.’

“The mystery of the six pieces of communion and baptismal service was solved when we discovered that Mr. Tucker left Weatherford after a year or so and became an evangelist for the General Assembly in New York. He visited the Stated Street Presbyterian Church of Albany, N.Y. as it was being organized.

“The Women of the Church were being organized and needed a mission project. The little congregation in far off Weatherford, Texas, was it. They purchased the six pieces of silver and sent them, along with a pulpit Bible, to the congregation in Weatherford. Somehow the six pieces were kept together and ended up in a cardboard box in a pawnshop in Washington state a century later.

“Grace First Presbyterian Church of Weatherford traces it heritage back to three congregations representing three major branches of American Presbyterianism. In the Nineteenth Century the three branches represented in Parker County were the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church in the United States (‘Southern’) and the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. (‘Northern’) ... The amazing thing ... Our heritage is rooted in the faithful devotion of those who lived and worshiped God a century and a half ago.”

As you are all well aware, there were many early churches built in Parker County, for many early residents were mostly Christian, God-fearing people and a church was one of their first priorities. I hope you caught the recent article telling of the small church organ, donated to the DHCC by the Episcopalian Church, that had been shared by several early churches on the frontier, being hauled from one meeting to another. Some of those churches are still standing today, and are still keeping watch over the attitudes and mores of their congregations. Their early history as well as a study of their architecture has the makings of a wonderful future exhibition.

By the way, many individuals have been bringing their $50 brick checks by the office for their memorial bricks, and I can honestly say that very few of those individuals did NOT have a tale to tell ... and believe me, those tales just make my day! I have many more to come, so until next week. Incidentally, there are still some bricks left, so hurry and call the office at (817) 594-7278. Make sure your name goes down in history.

Reserve your brick.



Ann Saunders is the president of the Doss Heritage and Culture Center. You may contact Saunders at e-mail: asaunder@airmail.net. Columns submitted to The Weatherford Democrat by guest writers reflect the opinions of the writer and in no way reflect the beliefs or opinions of The Weatherford Democrat.

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