Thursday, May 24, 2018



For those of you who know Dr. Frances Freeman, you know that she is passionate about giving people the opportunity to show their potential.  She was a social activist to the core, even before it was in vogue to be a feminist.  I have heard some truly smashing stories about her glorious New York days in the 70's when she worked alongside our feminist founders to bring the Women's Rights Movement to launch point.  She already had the Civil Rights Movement experience to draw from in the 60's, where equality and inclusion were new, raw words. Thank you for starting to say those words, Fran.  

Frances has had many careers, hats, roles...from journalist to teacher to scientist to Methodist Minister.  Through all of those years, even though I did not know her then, I'm fairly certain that every new friend was met with that same remarkable smile, gracious observations, and curious questions.  Who are you and what are you made of?  Human communication master...

Which leads me to her incredible research and academic background in Speech and Hearing Sciences, contributing to advances in the treatment of stuttering and disorders of the brain. I could go on about this, but you can Google her and find out what she's made of...or can you?

You probably won't find an article about the support and love Frances has for her family, old friends, colleagues and flowers. I have been on the receiving end of Fran's support over the last few years, as I had the pleasure of working with her in her latest passion for building faculty diversity at UT Dallas.  In her role as Assistant Vice President, she has made inroads in a road that was gravel. "Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light."  Yes, I know that's an Eagles song.

She made great inroads and I'm proud of her work.  Now, she is retiring, for the 4th time.  Goodness, let's hope we can pick up where you gracefully left off, and that you have a rollicking good time on a shimmering new road. Congratulations to my friend and colleague, Frances J. Freeman.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


First United Methodist Church of Joaquin

Compiled with love by Cynthia Webster in memory of our church members who have gone before us.
Written on the 140th Anniversary of the Church -- 2016

The First United Methodist Church of Joaquin
The Joaquin United Methodist Church has existed for one hundred and forty years in three locations, and at least four different buildings. The church has provided worship opportunities, spiritual support, a venue for joyful weddings and baptisms, solace in times of sorrow, lively bible schools and youth activities, divinely inspired music and community service across multiple generations through floods, drought, the Great Depression, wars, and in times of peace and prosperity.

When early Texas settler Henry I. Brook died in October 1871 he was buried just west of the Brookland-Logansport ferry crossing on the Sabine River. His burial site began the Brookland cemetery. Henry’s widow, Mary Jane Brook, donated land and lumber for a church to be built in the northeast corner of the cemetery. Worship services started in 1876 with Circuit-Rider Reverend George Hughes.

The church was soon relocated farther south to a more populated area of Shelby County and named Harmony Methodist Church.
As the Houston East and West Texas Railroad (HE&WT) route from Houston to Shreveport was being built through Brookland the area had an increase in population. In 1884 the church was returned to the original site at the Brookland Cemetery near the new train depot until a new church building was completed in the budding township of Joaquin in 1894-1895.

Leona and Dillard Brook, Sr. (Nephew of Henry Brook who lived and is buried at Brookline Cemetery)

According to the late Richard Wharton’s father, Henry Wharton, the still intact Joaquin Depot originated in Brookland. The depot was moved to Joaquin when the station was established and remodeled, later adding annexes and platforms that no longer exist. 

The old Rail Road Depot

The first known wedding ceremony conducted in the new church located in Joaquin was that of Dr. William Allen Ramsey and Miss Clara Short on August 8th 1895.   

Dr. William Allen Ramsey

Charter members of the church included a local farmer, Alabama-born Thomas A. Henry, William R. (Bob) Crawford and his wife Emmie T., W.D. Wade (Postmaster at BoBo in 1893), a Brook family and the Erastus Sayers family.

As the church grew another building was erected across the street 10 years later.  Vol 43 page 270 of Shelby County Real Estate Records reveals W.R. Crawford, his wife, E.T. Crawford and R. A. Rushing sold to W.R. Crawford and John Mills (a local Blacksmith) serving as church trustees, ½ acre of land located “300 yards north of the town square” for the sum of $150.00 in 1904.  

The First Methodist Church of Joaquin, TX from 1922-1951

The new church building sustained wind damage in 1921 resulting in another building being erected at the same site. Shelby County Real Estate Records Book 10 page 381 dated 10/12/1923 attested M. M. Carroll (a local merchant), S.B. (Sam) Crawford and J. C. Brook were Trustees of Record for the church named Joaquin Methodist Episcopal Church, South. 

These trustees signed a document of indebtedness for $1500 to the Board of Church Extension Methodist Episcopal Church, South by Joaquin Methodist Episcopal Church, South on September 24th 1922 to complete the new church.


This photo shared by Jo Heller shows Gladys Nixon’s car in front of the Methodist church. Jo stated her mother (Gladys) was preparing/decorating the church for the wedding of her daughter Lou Ann to Billy R. Freeman on September 10th 1950. Their wedding was probably one of the last taking place in that building.

After the merging of several Methodist associations in 1939 the church became known as Joaquin Methodist Church. During this time preaching was conducted every-other-Sunday until 1945 when Joaquin Methodist became a full-time church.

The present church building was constructed and consecrated in 1951. The building was officially dedicated in 1961 when the debts for the building were paid in full.

Sample of Church Building Bonds Issued in 1951

After the uniting of more branches of American Methodist Churches in 1962, the church at Joaquin became known as the First United Methodist Church of Joaquin. Through the years, the church has sponsored nursing home ministries, scholarship programs and luncheons for graduating high school seniors; Joaquin Christian Services for those in need; and church bazaars.

The Methodist Church facilities provide a polling site for elections, and have been used as a quiet site for student testing by the Joaquin Schools.

A fellowship hall was added in 1987.

Steeple Added to Joaquin United Methodist Church

The steeple was replaced in recent years.

Stain Glass Cross Added to JUMC

Members of the Methodist Church gladly minister to our entire community, bringing the good news of God's love made known through Jesus, by witnessing the Gospel, sharing our lives, and being committed to the welfare of the others.  We strive to be a church where love is an action and not just a word.

Pastor History

1876-1905 East Texas Circuit including Rev. George Hughes

1906-1907 Rev. W. L. Easterling 1946-1947 Rev. Lewis Risinger

1908-1909 Rev. I. J. Coppedge 1947-1950 Rev. Charles W. Williams

1910 Rev. W. L. Easterling 1950-1951 Rev. Clyde C. Shoemaker

1911 Rev. I. J. Coppedge 1951-1953 Rev. Robert H. Jonte

1912 Rev. W. L. Easterling 1953-1955 Rev. Lawrence Lanzrum.Jr.

1913 Rev. I. J. Coppedge 1955-1957 Rev. H. Leroy Stanton

1914 Rev. A. G. Hall 1957-1959 Rev. Henry Alloway, Jr.

1915-1916 Rev. R. E. Beaird 1959-1960 Rev. Lloyd E. Holt

1917-1919 Rev. Frank Platt 1960-1961 Rev. Robert H. Koch

1920 Rev. E. G. Downs 1961-1964 Rev. Buford Fenley

1921-1922 Rev. E. C. Goins 1964-1966 Rev. H.O. Bonner

1923-1924 Rev. L. A. Humphries 1966-1967 Rev. Vernon Fincher

1925-1926 Rev. W.C. Hughes 1967-1869 Rev. W. Byron Boyette

1927-1928 Rev. J. I. Weatherby 1969-1972 Rev. Claude S. Decelle

1929-1931 Rev. M. J. Bigger 1972-1975 Rev. D. Z. Danheim

1932 Rev. C. H. Dark 1975-1977 Rev. John B Rozell

1933-1934 Rev. T. H. Gibbs 1977-1977 Rev. W. F. McQueen

1934-1935 Rev. R.B. Bates 1977-1979 Rev. Randall Barlow

1936-1938 Rev. E. S. Brawner 1979-1989 Rev. Hershell Ramsey

1939-1940 Rev. James F. Ferguson 1989-1991 Rev. Ray L. Freeman

1941-1942 Rev. J. M. McCain 1991-1992 Rev. Gerald L. Phillips

1943-1944 Rev. C. T. Wallace 1992-2001 Rev. Billy R. Freeman

1944-1946 Rev. R. Eugene Jonte 2001-2015 Rev. Randall K. Smith

2015-present Rev. Robert Ortigo            

Easters in the Walter Rainbolt Memorial Garden

Easter in the Walter Rainbolt Memorial Garden

Christmas in the Sanctuary

Compiled with love by Cynthia Webster in memory of our church members who have gone before us.


 http:  State of Texas Historical Marker Number 16832.  Atlas Number 5507016832.  Marker Title Brookland Cemetery. Index Entry Brookland Cemetery.  Address 12996 U.S. Hwy. 84 E.

  History of Shelby County, Texas 1988 published by Shelby County Historical Society, page 157

  Oral and written history by Richard Wharton.

Church records and memorabilia of Joaquin First United Methodist Church

Shelby County Texas Real Estate Records

First Congressional District of Texas   SHELBY COUNTY
Copyright 1968 by Wright Patman

Photos by Cynthia Webster