There is a little church I drive by nearly every day that has the distinction of being where the first congregation of Methodists began organized meetings in Wood County, Texas.
In 1770 just prior to the American Revolution, there were maybe 20 Methodist churches in America. English Methodist founder John Wesley was hostile toward American independence, and this badly hampered the church's growth. However, after the Revolution, the American churches began to operate independently from English Methodists. That is when the legendary Methodist "circuit riders" began reaching the American backcountry, riding on horseback to reach every nook and cranny of the Appalachian frontier and Mississippi River Valley.
It took the circuit riders a while to make it here to Wood County, because this was pretty wild country. Around 1854, Methodist minister, Samuel G. Culver and other circuit-riding preachers began evangelizing in the Quitman, Wood County TX area.
By 1860, there were more than 19,000 Methodist churches in America, and in 1868, the First United Methodist Church of Quitman was organized and established.
On December 1, 1879, John A. Callaway purchased 200 acres, located about six miles east of Quitman, from the Ham Family.
In 1881, John and Emily Callaway conveyed unto “W.S. Hardy, John H. Williams and J.H. Voorhees . . . [land] for a church building to be situated upon for preaching, Sabbath Schools and other religious purposes . . . six acres of land.” (Deed Records of Wood County, June 1881). The church was known in the area as the Oak Grove Methodist Church.
For a short time in 1914, the congregation from Quitman’s First United Methodist Church moved its services to Oak Grove while a their new church was being built in Quitman.
On August 26, 1943, as the result of a survey, it was found that the Oak Grove Methodist Church had fenced in 5.52 acres.
|Mr. Henry Crietzberg at Liberty Methodist Church (c.1945)|
Pictured is Mr. Henry Crietzberg who was in charge of construction of the present structure (c. 1945). Many Brush Arbor-type Revivals were held in the early years, and the church was the heartbeat of the community.
Liberty Methodist Church is situated on a three-acre site at 300 County Road 3138 (corner of TX SH 154), Quitman, Texas 75783.
Delene Allen, Director
Quitman Public Library, Quitman TX