DAYS LONG PASSED
THE ANNIVERSARY OF COCH-
Miles in Wagon and Planed
In the primeval days of Dallas County, when the possession of a couple of churches, a tannery, a shoe shop and a school gave to Farmers Branch, then not infrequently known as Mustang Island, a standing far ahead of that of any other settlement in the entire Peters' Colony, and when the little village of Dallas--some knew it as "Dallas," as indicated by their diaries--was a settlement smaller than a number of others in this county, life was then worth living, if the statements of old settlers, assembled yesterday in reunion at Cochran's Chapel, are to be accepted. Then it was, they say, that every man was independent, with a livelihood that was sure and abundant. Then it was, they say, that theft, except by the Indians, was unthought of, and every man trusted his neighbor. Then it was, they say, that the exactions of modern life were unthought, and every man lived as best suited his comfort.
Relation of very interesting reminiscences touching early life in Dallas County was made yesterday on the occasion of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the building of Cochran's Chapel, which was built and now stands some seven miles north of Dallas. There were about 300 in attendance upon the celebration, which will be continued today, and many of these, indeed, a very large per cent, were from Dallas. Among the visitors from the city were Mr. and Mrs. Alex Cockrell, Mr. and Mrs. Lee Hughes, Rev. W. H. Hughes, William R. Harris, Mrs. William Harris and Misses Mary and Clara Harris, Mrs. H. H. Jacoby, John D. Cochran, Epps G. Knight and others.
of the blockhouse built by the founder of the city of Dallas,
John Neely Bryan, in the fall of 1842, the first settlement made
by white people in Dallas County," declared Judge John H.
Cochran of Decker, Nolan County, formerly postmaster at Dallas,
and before that time a resident of Farmers Branch, "was
on Farmers Branch, five miles north of Cochran's Chapel, in December,
1872, and February, 1843."
Brown, a Methodist itinerant preacher, was the first minister
to visit the colony, and the first sermon in the county was on
the text from Romans: 'Ii am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus
Christ.' This was in 1845. In 1846, the first school was established
by T. C. Williams of Tennessee. Shortly after the Methodists,
who had organized a society in 1845 at Farmers Branch, had erected
a church, the Baptists erected at Rawhide, near by, what was
known as the Thomas Keenan Chapel. This was the first Baptist
Church, and was erected in September, 1846. The good Baptists
were aided by the Methodists, who had likewise helped the Methodists
in the building of their church.
this time, the settlement was recruited by the arrival of English
immigrants, who were very acceptable, being well educated and
god-fearing. J. J. Jackson, Lionell Simpson, William B. Rowe,
Sims and William Kingwell and Mr. Ramshead, where in this settlement.
Dr. Perry Daken, who came in April 1847, was the first physician.
The Englishmen established themselves in the northern part of
Dallas County and in the southern part of Denton County.
first campmeeting ever held in the county was in the fall of
1845, and was south of Cochran's Chapel, near the place were
the Katy track now runs.
can tell you that the first horse ever seen in these parts, outside
of the mustangs, was owned by Mr. Webb, who, knowing the inclination
of the Indians to appropriate without asking leave, chained his
horse by the hind leg to one of the stout logs of his cabin.
That horse certainly stuck by that cabin.
the suggestion of "Uncle Buck" Hughes, a Cochran's
Chapel Historical Association, whose purpose is to preserve the
history of the church and to incidentally amass and preserve
information relative to pioneers of Dallas County, was formed.
With Rev. Hughes as chairman, the following committee was appointed
to obtain this information for the association: S. J. Smith,
Lizzie Cox, John D. Cochran, Epps G. Knight and John H. Cochran.
give this as the circumstances which led to this meeting. I realized
then, as I do now, the importance and the necessity of preserving
history. There, as here, the records are all gone, and we are
simply left to traditions and the memories of the living. This
is one of the great faults of the American people. The English
can tell you their genealogy, and they know their ancestry for
years back, while we can't tell who our grand-daddies were.
first thing I propose to do is to discuss Methodism as I learned
it in 1852. The beginning of Methodism was in 1844, when a little
society of five was organized in Isaac B. Webb's cabin at Farmers
Branch. Webb was postmaster and class leader of the little society,
and the pastors who served the charge until the building of Cochran's
Chapel were Joab Biggs, Andrew Cummings, W. K. Masters, Harvey
Cummings, W. K. Masters, Harvey Cummings, William E. Bates, John
Beverly and John W. Chalk.
January, 1845, Isaac Webb, with a few scattered children in Israel,
wrote his old friend, John W. P. McKenzie, in Red River County,
and asked that a preacher be sent to minister unto the people
of the Farmers Branch settlement. Responding to this request,
Rev. Brown, the first itinerant Methodist preacher who ever visited
this county, came. In the little Webb cabin, fourteen or fifteen
feet square, the first Methodist church of the county was organized,
the following being members: Isaac and Mary Webb, Nancy Cochran,
Franklin Fortner and his wife.
"In 1846, Rev. James A. Smith, a local preacher, a man of God, a man of ability, a man of sweet spirit and earnest in his labors, joined in the efforts of the little church to establish permanently, a Christian community, and he probably did more than any other man to give us the best community in which it has been my privilege to live. Before Cochran Chapel was built, the little five-membered church organized in Webb's cabin thrived, and its membership was greatly multiplied, with the result that the church became too small. So, a second church was organized at Cedar Springs between the old Tom Williams place and where Johnson lived. They had a prosperous society at the new church, but they were apart from Webb's, and it was finally decided to unite and build a central church, and the site now occupied by this church was chosen, being middle way between the two.
"Lumber for the new church had to be brought by wagon from the pineries, more than a hundred miles distant, and it cost from $3 to $5 a hundred. Not only was the lumber high, but there was no planing mill in all this county, and the workmen had to plane it by hand. We had to go to the woods and use postoak sills. At great expense, an excellent church was built, 30x40 feet in extent, and it was dedicated by Brother McKenzie of McKenzie Institute, near Clarksville. I will never forget the sermon he preached on that occasion. He spoke of the tolerance that should be exercised by Christians and of the liberality that should be exercised by them. He condemned the vilifying of other denominations and the engaging in controversial arguments not conducive to the strengthening of the Christian spirit and not in harmony with the Christian religion.
near as I can remember, those who were heads of families in this
community fifty-two years ago, were I. Webb, W. M. Cochran, M.
F. Fortner, John Pulliam, Rev. J. A. Smith, John Howell, Perry
Winn, Homer C. Williams, Dr. S. H. Gilbert, the widow Moon, Mr.
Shahan, S. Armstrong, R. J. West, Ed Hunter, Mrs. Frances Daniels,
Rev. Jesse Daniels, Capt. W. C. McKamey, O. W. Knight, G. B.
Knight, G. W. Record, Rev. John Bachman, Nathan Yeargan, Dr.
Staton, J. Smith, Dave Lain, R. M. Cooke, Ned Wilburn, Rev. Anderson,
Jack May, John Harvey, Mr. Bird, William Edmondson, J. M. Wright
and Foster and Jefferson Dunaway. These have many descendants
living, but all of these old pioneers are dead, save perhaps,
Foster and Jeff Dunaway, one of whom lives in Collin County,
and the other in Ellis County. They are gone, but they have indelibly
left their impress in this county.
have no recollection of a single conviction for a felony of any
of the offspring of these heads of families, who, when they came
to this new country to bear the hardships and dangers of a new
civilization, brought with them their Bibles and their religion.
It is no little thing to say; there has been no conviction in
fifty years for a felony in this community. I could point out
neighborhoods where infidels settled and left their impress upon
the rising generation, and you would find that the descendants
of these infidels have been convicted of the blackest deeds in
the list of crimes.
young man had hair as white as mine is now, but not gray. He
was 'sparking' a young lady, whom he soon afterward married.
A revival at Webb's Chapel was in progress. The only means of
lighting was with tallow candles. The night service was always
given out to take place at early candle light, and members of
the congregation were admonished to bring a sufficient supply
of candles. Well, during this revival, the young man went to
the mourners' bench. Brother Biggs, our preacher, seeing him,
but not recognizing him as an old man, laid his hand on the young
man's head and prayed aloud, 'O Lord, have mercy on this poor
old gray-haired sinner!" This, of course, did not contribute
much to the solemnity of the occasion.:
J. W. P. McKenzie, with whom the Farmers Branch people communicated
when they wanted a preacher, was a very highly respected pioneer,
preacher and educator. He was sent as a missionary to the Indians,
the Choctaw tribe of Indian Territory, and labored with this
tribe three years. Mrs. M. E. Ragsdale, a daughter, at that time,
a babe in arms, lives in Dallas at 366 Allen street, and is familiarly
known as "Aunt Patsie." Troubled with hemorrhages,
Rev. McKenzie was forced to retire from the active ministry,
but established a chartered school known as McKenzie Institute,
located near Clarksville.
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Sunday Service and Forming
of Cemetery Association.
maintain and keep in good condition the burying ground at Cochran's
Chapel, a cemetery association was formed yesterday afternoon.
Fletcher Taylor of Bachman Dam was elected president, and Mrs.
Kate Laws was elected secretary. At present, the cemetery is
in excellent shape, having been recently cleaned.
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