Talk of Wilson County TX Historic Towns

by Barbara J. Wood
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Celebrating with Elm Creek Baptist Church — 'equipping saints' for 140 years
By Nannette Kilbey-Smith
La Vernia News, 2023
Celebrate the 140th anniversary of Elm Creek Baptist Church on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. The church was founded in 1883 by three families; services were held in German until 1948, when a non-German speaker joined the congregation!
It's "the little church with a big heart" and this month, the Elm Creek Baptist Church near La Vernia will celebrate 140 years of sharing God's Word.
Nestled on a little rise on Sandy Elm Road off F.M. 539 about 6 miles east/northeast of La Vernia, the little white wood-frame church offers an image of times past. But don't let its old-fashioned appearance fool you; Elm Creek Baptist Church continues to be a vibrant center of worship for the devoted faithful, and "the church doors have not closed since it opened in 1883," said Terrie Leonard of La Vernia, who serves as church clerk and worship leader.
The little German church
The little church was first organized Jan. 21, 1883, by the Vorpahl, Fechner, and Achterberg families, who met in their homes initially. In 1885, the church purchased an acre of land from the Vorpahls for $10.
The church was first known as the Elm Creek German Baptist Church; all services were conducted in German, according to the church's history at, and the early church records also were kept in German. The name was changed in 1942, omitting "German." Services continued to be the language of worship until 1948, when a new member — a non-German speaker — joined.
A storm in 1950 severely damaged the original building. In August that year, the original church was torn down and a new one erected by the members, using the original materials. Through the years, electricity, gas, and restrooms were added, along with a kitchen and nursery space. An expansion and renovation in 2003 added 1,200 square feet to the church's footprint, expanding the nursery and adding more classrooms and a fellowship hall. In March 2004, Otto Vorpahl, a descendant of one of the founding families, donated another acre of land; the family still owns the land surrounding the church. A baptistry was added that year, allowing the first baptism inside the church since its founding.
Michael D. Insley has been serving as the pastor since last May. Prior to coming to Elm Creek Baptist Church, he was pastor of Sweet Spirit Baptist Church in St. Hedwig for eight years.
Today's congregation
Terrie and her husband, former La Vernia city Councilman Randy Leonard, joined Elm Creek Baptist Church in 2018. After worshipping at a large La Vernia church for more than 20 years, the couple began looking for a new church home; they'd visited the little Elm Creek church a time or two.
"One day in early 2018 ... we were driving to Seguin and saw it anew," Terrie recalled. They visited the following Sunday and "felt at home and fell in love" with then-Pastor Don Howard and his family.
Soon after joining, the Leonards began serving the Lord alongside the pastor. Terrie and Randy became good friends with the Howards.
"I began teaching children's Sunday School the moment a child walked in our doors," Terrie explained.
Randy began taking care of much of the aging building's maintenance; Pastor Howard invited him to become a deacon, and he still serves as such.
"What drew us in was the Holy Spirit, of course," Terrie shared. "And what we loved about it was the way they still sang hymns out of the hymnal."
She was approached by Veronica, the pastor's wife, about singing a special, which Terrie did. That led to her helping lead worship in song with Pastor Howard. When he resigned in 2021, she took over leading worship, and continues to this day.
"And yes, we still use the hymnals!" Terrie exclaimed.
The church has had its ups and downs through the years.
"We struggled through COVID like many other churches, but we kept the doors open through that and a declining attendance," the church clerk observed.
Currently, Elm Creek Baptist Church has 41 members, "with about half that amount on the active list," Terrie shared. Average Sunday attendance is around 12.
Among the worshippers is Ted Hollister, who's attended since 1998, after he bought a small ranch on the same road as the church.
He, too, found the little white church in the country felt like home. One of his favorite events at his new faith home was a Christmas Eve service sometime before 2000.
"I grew up in a small Baptist church in Berlin, Germany, so missed the holiday songs in German," said Ted, whose father was in the U.S. Air Force. "Most of the [Elm Creek] members could still speak and sing in German, so they did the service in German for the first time since the World War II era, when they changed to English."
Ted, who manages the church's technology, including the projector and sound system, also enjoyed "crashing" a photo shoot at the church.
Christian country singer Clifton Jansky was using the church "for some old-timey photos," Ted recalled. Jansky still has the images, he said. The church has invited him to attend the anniversary celebration later this month.
Who knows who you might meet at Elm Creek Baptist Church, the little white church in the country, working still to fulfill its mission of "equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:1).
COURTESY/ La Vernia News
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Mision Bautista
October 1953 Mision Bautista - Hispanic Mission of Floresville Baptist Church, not sure who all the children are except for Joe and Thomas Dominguez, Rudy Ramirez and Frankie Guerrero. Do you recognize someone? Please comment. Thank you. (Photo posted by Irene Dominguez on "Remember Floresville When")

Floresville Texas Methodist Church 100 years ago

May 18, 2011 | Wilson County News
Lois Wauson
Rainy Days and Starry Nights
When I searched through historical records of the First Methodist Church, looking for a link to my ancestors when they first came to Floresville in 1905, I found out that my grandparents, Samuel and Lizzie Zook, were very active members at that time in the First Methodist Church of Floresville, then known as the Methodist Episcopal Church South.
Two years ago, I had found old records in the courthouse of land purchased when they came to Wilson County. I found the records of births, deaths, and marriages. Now I wanted to find out about their spiritual life and Christian work. I knew my grandparents were missionaries, being from the Amish and Mennonite churches of Pennsylvania. They came to Texas in 1900 as missionaries.
Arriving in Floresville in 1905, they immediately joined the Methodist church. It was the church that most reminded them of their Amish roots. Grandmother Zook started a ladies Sunday school class and started teaching Sunday school. I didn't find any records of members in those early years, maybe because most of the old records were ruined when the church basement was flooded years ago. I wish I knew who was in that class!
Grandfather Zook immediately started spreading the gospel message among the Mexican people. He visited them in their homes, prayed for them, and soon they were coming to his home for prayer and ministry and learning about the Bible. Then the Methodist Church offered him the old frame building on Second Street, which formerly housed the Methodist Church before they built another church on the corner of Fourth and B streets, two blocks away.
I found several references to the work that my grandparents were doing, in some old Quarterly Conference records of the West Texas District of the Methodist Church.
Rev. Zook reported to them that he had 30 people enrolled in a Sunday school. One report said that evangelistic work had been done in the "neglected" communities and that a number of people made profound conversions to Christ. One report said that $15 was raised to defray the expense of repairing the old frame building.
In 1912, Grandmother Zook was teaching the women's Sunday school class, then went to the worship service, and helped her husband in missionary work among the Mexican people, always helping her neighbors and the less fortunate in Floresville, besides taking care of nine children at home — ages 3 to 18 years. I wonder how she did it.
My grandfather was preaching — and teaching a Sunday school class, also farming several hundred acres of land. I found in searching old records at the Methodist church that they had a Missions Committee, with my grandfather the leader, and Dr. Oxford, a well-known doctor in Floresville, and two other men, Bro. Canfield and Bro. King, were elected co-workers with him. I am glad he had those men to help him.
In 1915, the Methodist Church had two Sunday school classes for adults — the Zook Memorial Class and the Friendship Class, the Epworth League youth, where my uncle, Martin Zook, who was in college in Tennessee by then and was the president that summer, reported that they had 35 members in it. I wonder if they have 35 members today?
I also found a record where my grandmother, Lizzie Zook, was an alternate delegate to the annual conference in 1918, and was on the Missions Committee too. How did she do all that with so many children? I was always told by anyone who knew her, that she was amazing, that she was a "saint."
As I looked at those old church records, I imagined what it was like 100 years ago when my daddy, Lawrence, his mother, and his brothers and sisters all went to the Methodist Episcopal Church South on Sundays, while their daddy preached at the Mexican mission church, now El Mesias United Methodist Church.
The streets were not paved. People came in buggies or wagons, on horseback, or walked in the dusty, sandy streets or mud, depending on the weather, sat in rooms that were cold in the winter and hot in the summer, and studied their Bibles, listened to preaching, went home Sunday afternoons to eat Sunday dinner, take naps, and then start another week on Monday morning.
Now we do the same thing, but the streets are paved, the buildings are air-conditioned, we don't walk, ride horses, or come in buggies or wagons; we come in fancy cars and trucks, but we still hear the same message today. Thank God, some things never change.
COURTESY / Lois Zook Wauson ... former Wilson County News "Rainy Days and Starry Nights" Columnist May 18, 2011
The organizational meeting for the Floresville Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Agee on October 25, 1875. The Rev. Ichabod Kingsbury led in the congregation's formation and served as first pastor. The six charter members included Mr. and Mrs. Agee, Judge W. L. Worsham, Mr. and Mrs. Zack Burrows, and James C. Wilson. During its early years, the congregation held worship services at various locations, including homes, the Wilson County Courthouse, and a private school known as Floresville Academy.
Its first sanctuary, completed on this site in 1885 during the pastorate of The Rev. W. H. Killough, was destroyed in an 1886 storm. Under the leadership of The Rev. J. C. Russell, another building was constructed in 1887 and served the church until 1942. Several area Methodist congregations have merged with the Floresville church over the years, allowing it to provide additional service and leadership to the community.
Known since 1968 as the Floresville United Methodist Church, the congregation continues to reflect the ideals and traditions of its founders as it celebrates the Bicentennial of Methodism in America. (1984)

St. Ann's Catholic Church parish in Kosciusko

KOSCIUSKO TEXAS & ST. ANN's CATHOLIC PARISH .... Kosciusko Texas was founded in 1892 by 65 Polish families.
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Memories of Sacred Heart parish hall

Wilson County News, 2018
By Julia Castro
"Apple Pie and Salsa"
A new parish hall is going up on Sacred Heart Catholic Church grounds on the spot that the original hall stood since 1955. I believe the plaque on it referred to it as an educational building, but we all called it the parish hall. I was expecting our second child. I was not yet a Catholic but would take turns on Sundays going to Sacred Heart Church and El Mesias Methodist Church, which I had been attending since my childhood. So I saw the hall being built. It was completed in June of 1955, and our Louie was born in December. He, like our oldest child, Letty, was baptized a Catholic.
This new hall has been in the planning for many years and has finally become a reality. When I saw the old hall being torn down, I felt just like I did when the old Floresville High School that three of my siblings and I had attended was being torn down. So many memories!
The old hall served the community well for nearly 63 years.
From the looks of the floor plan of this new hall, it is going to be spacious and beautiful. I'm sure that a lot of people have special memories of the old hall.
For now, I will just rely on my memories and those of my children.
I remember spending countless hours making peanut brittle when our kids attended Sacred Heart School, to sell at the Peanut Festival. If your child attended Sacred Heart School, you learned to make peanut brittle! Later, as a grandmother of a student and member of the school council, I again made peanut brittle to sell at Christmas time. All this was made in the kitchen of the parish hall.
I remember helping serve at the church picnics for many years. One year the committee decided to serve the meal family-style. I remember that I and the others working our shift kept going back and forth to the kitchen to refill the serving bowls or trays. There was one person that kept loading his plate over and over. I had never seen anybody eat that much. He probably was not the only one doing that. The next year we went back to serving the plates.
I remember the Valentine Coronations. At one time the entertainment for the Royal Court were big productions. And there were the Christmas plays, which are still being held. They have always drawn big crowds.
Leonard remembers the Christmas plays, one especially, "Scrooge." He had a talent for drawing. He copied an image of Scrooge from some paper, and others made copies of it and posted them all over town. He remembers being in the play and wearing knee-length brown pants. One of the Sekula boys was Scrooge. This I don't remember, but Leonard and Marshall both remember talent shows. Leonard says that his cousin Dominic once played Hank Williams and sang "Your Cheating Heart." He said Dominic was quite good! Leonard and Lea both remember playing under the stage. I understand that there won't be a stage in the new hall. How can you have plays without a stage?
Loretta remembers the PTC meetings on Thursdays. Why does she remember that? Maybe because they got to play on the playground while I was at the meetings.
I remember, in May 1957, the reception at the hall (which was still fairly new) after the Mass in which Father John J. Gerbermann celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood. He was later given the title of Monsignor. And he had baptized me into the Catholic faith in 1956.
And I remember, in 1964, a farewell party for Father Daniel Hennessy, assistant pastor. Father Virgil Elizondo, the new assistant pastor, arrived a little late, but in time to be introduced to us. We, the Spanish choir, sang "Las Mañanitas" to Father Daniel.
When the church was being remodeled in 2003, the parish hall became our sanctuary. All Masses were held there until the work on the church was complete. Lia remembers that her daughter Rebecca and her kindergarten class had their graduation in the hall.
Marshall's two daughters, Roxanne and Amanda, both had their wedding receptions in the hall. And who can forget the delicious Thanksgiving dinners at the hall hosted by the school for years? I had almost forgotten this. One year when I was center director at El Mesias Head Start, I asked and was given permission to use the parish hall for our annual graduation for the 5-year-olds. I have photos of the staff on the stage passing out diplomas furnished by the agency. I believe Father Jeremiah Murphy was the pastor.
Yes, the 63-year-old parish hall has served the community well. It had its share of benefit events, bridal showers, baby showers, anniversary receptions, and numerous other events. And I will close with my favorite personal memory of the hall. On Sunday, Feb. 19, 1978, our children honored us with a reception on the occasion of our 25th wedding anniversary. We thought it was a big milestone! Since then, we have celebrated a 50th, a 60th, and just last month, our 65th anniversary. We have both been more than blessed!
COURTESY/ Wilson County Newspaper 2018

St. John Lutheran Church, Poth

ST JOHN LUTHERAN CHURCH, POTH, WILSON COUNTY TEXAS ..... St. John Lutheran Church is located at 106  Titcomb Street in Poth, Texas. It is a beautiful church with 12 magnificent, stained glass windows, which were installed in 1983. A bell to call the faithful to worship was dedicated in 1931. St Johns has a long and interesting history.
The roots of St. John's church congregation can be traced to January 15, 1899, when a congregation was organized in the home of Carl Voigt, Jr. People from several communities were part of the congregation. A little church with a one-room parsonage was built nearby and dedicated September 17, 1899. This church was considered too remote and therefore, a combined church and school was built "Waldeimm Kirchegemeinde", on the George Boening farm near the present curve on   U. S. Hwy. 181 between Poth and Floresville.
The first pastor was Rev. Hans P. Duborg, aged 80. He served from Beeville except for the short time he lived in Waldheim. He was succeeded by Rev. Herman Drews in January, 1902, and served through August, 1903. The third pastor was Rev. Julius Schroeder who lived in Karnes City and served from October, 1903 through August 1918. Rev. Julius Schroeder was the father of Rev. S. T. Schroeder who later served St. John.
On April 19, 1906, services were held in Floresville in the Church of Christ, corner of "C" and 6th. Streets. Rev. Lewis F. Freyberg was installed by Rev. Julius Schroeder as pastor on August 18, 1918. He served First Lutheran of Floresville and Peace Lutheran of Dewees, with both German and English Services.
Rev. Lewis F. Freyberg held the first services in the Poth School on June 1, 1921. A schedule was set up whereby Rev. Freyberg held services in Floresville, Poth and Dewees on a rotating basis with services in German and English. It was hoped that members of Peace Church in Dewees would join the Poth Lutherans and some years later, services in Dewees were discontinued.
When the town of Poth was laid out, a lot was set aside for a Protestant church. The land was given by the Jones family, then owners of the land. Several Lutheran families in Poth and the vicinity formed a temporary organization to take advantage of this offer and to make plans for a church building. Construction for the church was begun on September 17, 1922. The cornerstone was laid, and on Thanksgiving Day, November 30, 1922, the dedication took place.
The preceding Sunday, November 26, a meeting was held at which time the formal organization was formed and adoption of a constitution took place. The congregation was named in honor of the blessed apostle, St. John the Devine. The newly organized church was received into membership with the Joint Synod of Ohio at the Texas District Convention in May, 1923.
Walter Ulbricht was the first person to be baptized in St. John's Church. This took place on May 5, 1923. The first confirmation class was on September 9, 1923. This was followed by the first marriage in the church. Louis Lindemann married Paula Schriewer on June 18, 1924.
On October 16, 1928, Rev. Meinhart A. P. Keller arrived to become the first resident pastor in Poth, and St. John's of Denhawken was added to the parish. The little church was to see many changes through the years. A cemetery was dedicated in 1930. A church bell and a parsonage were dedicated in 1931. In 1930, the Joint Synod Of Ohio became the American Lutheran Church.
Rev. J. K. Poch came the next year. With his inimitable personality, he won the love of the people of the entire community. Many improvements were made and members were added during his ministry. In 1935, Denhawken and Nixon became a parish, and newly ordained Rev. S. T. Schroeder became pastor of that parish. From that time on Pastor Poch devoted his talents entirely to St. John in Poth. Rev. Poch retired in 1947.
After a period of interim pastors, Rev. Manno Shatoo became the pastor at St. John in August, 1951. Construction began on the expansion of the chapel in November 1951. It was enlarged to its present size. Many members volunteered their labor and generous contributions were given. The enlarged building was again consecrated on June 29, 1952. Rev. Manno Shatto served until October, 1953. Dr. Otto R. Schawe, an Army Chaplain during WWII, and a retired instructor at Texas Lutheran College, became St. John's pastor in 1954. An educational building was dedicated on March 27, 1960.  
Pastor Kenneth D. Joens arrived in August, 1966, and served until January of 1969. A new electronic organ was dedicated on June 21, 1970.  In 1971, the church building was covered with brickstone, and the roof was repaired and painted, including the white cross at the top of the tower.
During the ensuing vacancy, Dr. Schawe again served until a merger with First Lutheran of Floresville, became effective May 1, 1969, when that congregation's pastor, Rev. S. T. Schroeder was installed to also serve St. John.
A speaker system was installed by Werner Artus as a gift from E. H. Wehmann. In 1972, this speaker system was dedicated to the glory of God in memory of Mrs. Normania Wehmann and Rev. and Mrs. August Artus.
Rev. C. William Mosley was installed in 1977 as pastor of St. John and First Lutheran after Rev. S. T. Schroeder's retirement.
The church received a central air and heating system in 1980. 
January, 1981, Pastor Mosley resigned his ministry in Poth, and in October the congregation voted to dissolve its 12-year partnership with First Lutheran. Rev. Fred Scheffel accepted the call as Interim Pastor of St. John. During his tenure the newsletter, "The St. John Messenger" was begun. An Altar Guild and Acolyte Corps were formed. The stained glass windows depicting Biblical scenes were installed. Rev. Scheffel left in 1987 after 6 years.
Rev. Louis F. Balderach joined St. John in April 1987 as a part-time pastor. The chimes and tapes were installed as a gift from the Maeckel family. Rev. Balderach resigned in August, 1992.
From 1992 – 1996, St. John has been served by various supply pastors and several interim pastors -- among these have been: Dr. James Qualben, Pastor Richard Nybro, and Pastor Virgil Ganz. 

COURTESY/ Wilson County Historical Society
Some of the members of St. John's Lutheran Church, Poth, Texas, 1949-1950 standing on lawn next to shrubs on a winter day at St. John's Lutheran Church (Poth, Tex.)
Names provided by Beverly Kosarek.  Left to right (First row): Unidentified, Betty Jean Kosarek, Beverly Kosarek, and unidentified boy."(Second row)" Unidentified, Mary Janik Kosarek, Willie Bob Kosarek, unidentified, and unidentified."(Third row) Nell Sunday, William "Bill" Kosarek, Millie Barosh, Edwin Barosh, Eddie Lee Barosh, and unidentified man.
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Floresville Baptist Church

WILSON COUNTY TEXAS CHURCH ... Black and white photograph of the Floresville Baptist Church. There are two entries into the building with steps leading up to the doorways. In the front of the building is a lovely stain glass window. To one side of the building is a white picket fence and behind the church is a water tower and concrete building.
COURTESY /Portal to Texas History

St. Martin Lutheran Church

Did ya know...that the first Lutheran church established in Wilson County Texas was called the St. Martin Lutheran Church? It was located in Waldheim which is where the Curve between Floresville and Poth are. It is a vanished German community that has been forgotten by time, but the roots run deep here in Waldheim. COURTESY/WCHS Sesquicentennial Book

HISTORY OF FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH.....  Floresville Wilson County Texas

                The City of Floresville, Texas was established and made county seat of Wilson County in 1873.  Shortly thereafter families started settling the town and the Floresville Academy was established and became the forerunner of our present school system.  Rev. John Washburn came to San Antonio in the fall of 1877 and served as missionary of the San Antonio Baptist Association.  He moved to Floresville in 1878 to become the first superintendent of the Floresville Academy and to continue preaching.  He preached in Floresville, Marcelina, Sutherland Springs, and possibly other area churches.
                Our church was organized in August of 1878 as Floresville Missionary Baptist Church.  In the "Western Chronicle" ("forerunner of the Chronicle Journal") of August 29, 1878, it was reported that "the largest congregation perhaps that Floresville has had in the past decade assembled at the courthouse last Sunday night to hear the Rev. Mr. Washburn preach on the subject of Christ.  The services continued for several days with several conversions and additions to the church."
                The first church building was erected in 1889 approximately 50 feet west from the present site.  It was a 40' x 60' building with no baptistery, no choir loft, no Sunday school rooms, nor pastor's study.
                About 1905-1906 the building was enlarged and remodeled, adding new wings on each side, amphitheater-type sloping floor, curved pews, one Sunday School room, a pastor's study, choir loft and baptistery, along with gothic-type windows and a beautiful art glass window in the front of the building.  In 1916 an educational department was added, which was a two-story structure with about ten Sunday School rooms, an assembly room, modern kitchen and modern plumbing were installed.
                In 1953 new church building facilities were erected, and in 1956 the church voted to install air conditioning.  In 1960 pastor Joe Webb led the 175 members with Mr. Carl Ray serving as music director and Mr. Joe Holcombe as Brotherhood president.  Currently Mr. and Mrs. Ray and and Mr. and Mrs. Holcombe are still serving in our church.
                In 1973 the church was enlarged to include an educational department, kitchen and fellowship space, enlarged nursery space, library, and new offices.  The addition of a new sanctuary was completed in November 2010.  In 2015 the church purchased the old Wells Fargo Bank across the street and held a celebration service and open house for all to see the new space.  In August, the staff moved into the offices and have enjoyed the entire building.  We give God all the praise and glory for the growth of First Baptist Church Floresville.
Information shared by Penny Smith

Sacred Heart Church history

History of Sacred Heart Catholic Church ... According to an article in Today's Catholic, dated September 17, 1982; from 1519 to 1690 early Spanish explorers and missionaries came to Texas.  The time period from 1690 to 1763 is considered the mission period.  1776 to 1836 saw America declaring its independence from Great Britain, Mexico from Spain and then Texas declared its independence from Mexico.  The majority of people in central Texas were Catholic and had Mexican descent.  Native Indians lived in the area.

In 1832 there were several villages, where people grouped together for protection, socialization and to hear Mass by traveling missionaries.  Surrounding the villages were ranches with families and workers.  One of these ranches was known to have a chapel for Masses.  In 1832 a village, close to what is now known as Floresville, was established and was eventually named Lodi.  Priests from San Antonio occasionally visited the people.

1882-1885: Father J. H. Daine, an Englishman, was the first resident pastor of what is now Sacred Heart Church. The first church was a small frame structure built in Lodi,  (now part of Floresville) in 1882.

1885-1894: Father Joseph Lagier, a Frenchman, rebuilt the church in 1885 following its destruction by a storm.

Much of the parish growth and plant expansion took place during the pastorate of Father Peter Zarb from 1898-1938.

Fr. Peter was the first priest to build a new church in the present location.  The structure was dedicated by Bishop John A. Forest in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on 10/23/1901.  On the same occasion the Bishop consecrated a three-bell chime and blessed the rectory built with the pastor's funds.

The School was built in 1933.  The church needed to be enlarged because the church's facilities were inadequate due to the growing parish.  The existing church was rebuilt and enlarged.  Brick walls were erected to replace the original frame structure.  Archbishop J. Drossaerts blessed the remodeled church on 10/6/1935.

The next expansion took place in the 1950's and the 1960's by Pastor Monsignor John J. Gerbermann.  In 1950 a small storage room was built and a year later another building was constructed and grounds were lighted for various activities.

The Parish Hall was constructed in 1955. In 1960 classrooms were added to the school and a new convent was built for the Sister of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament.

In 1957 Monsignor John J. Gerbermann, in anticipation of Sacred Heart's Diamond Jubilee, renovated the church.  A further renovation of the parish church occurred in 2003 by Fr. Stefan Wiera.

Father James Hoelscher was the first priestly vocation from the parish.  He was ordained in Rome in  December 20, 1958.  The second native priest is Fr. Jonathan Felux ordained  in San Antonio, May 2, 2009.  Also, four religious sisters from Sacred Heart Church responded to their vocational call ministering locally and throughout Texas.       

Sacred Heart Catholic School

Sacred Heart Catholic School was built and supported by the sacrifices of the parish community and concerned parents, seeking the best education for their children.  The school has been in existence since 1933. Many factors have contributed to the success of Sacred Heart School;  stability, tradition, academic excellence, Christ-like behavior among outstanding Floresville citizens, respect for others and the love of God.  We thank you for your commitment to Sacred Heart School and our children, the treasure of our future.

In 1916 it was stated: "Now while the Church is free of debts.  Father Zarb is trying to erect the Parochial School House.  It shall be a two story brick house 30 x 72 feet and is to cost $4,500."  On September 17, 1933 after the parish celebrated its Golden Jubilee, Sacred Heart school opened its doors to the Floresville community with a special blessing of the school followed by a barbeque dinner.  The school was accepted and operated by the Sister of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament until August  of 1950.  In September of 1950, Sacred Heart School opened its doors as a parochial school and the parish became responsible for the upkeep and utilities.  At that time, only two classrooms were in use. 

Thereafter, a classroom was added every year.  In 1957, four Sisters and one lay teacher were responsible for teaching 215 children enrolled at Sacred Heart School.  During the 1960s and early 70s, many Catholic schools were on the verge of closing their doors.  Fortunately Sacred Heart School managed to survive due to the ongoing presence and determination from parents, grandparents, friends and the surrounding community.  Many families and community members consider the school a historical landmark and will do what it takes to keep breathing life into it.

Sacred Heart Church

Sacred Heart Church, Floresville, Wilson County Texas, built in 1935.

From the church's website:    In 1832 a village, close to what is now known as Floresville, was established and was eventually named Lodi. Priests from San Antonio occasionally visited the people.

1882-1885: Father J. H. Daine, an Englishman, was the first resident pastor of what is now Sacred Heart Church. The first church was a small frame structure built in Lodi, (now part of Floresville) in 1882.

1885-1894: Father Joseph Lagier, a Frenchman, rebuilt the church in 1885 following its destruction by a storm.

Much of the parish growth and plant expansion took place during the pastorate of Father Peter Zarb from 1898-1938.

Fr. Peter was the first priest to build a new church in the present location. The structure was dedicated by Bishop John A. Forest in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on 10/23/1901. On the same occasion the Bishop consecrated a three-bell chime and blessed the rectory built with the pastor's funds.

The School was built in 1933. The church needed to be enlarged because the church's facilities were inadequate due to the growing parish. The existing church was rebuilt and enlarged. Brick walls were erected to replace the original frame structure. Archbishop J. Drossaerts blessed the remodeled church on 10/6/1935.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church ..... Saspamco, Wilson County Texas.

Most of Saspamco's early population was derived from Mexican immigrant laborers employed by the San Antonio Sewer Pipe Works Company. The laborers of the sewer pipe factory and other local residents wanted a place of worship. The land for a church was donated by Lorenzo and Victoria Gonzales, and in 1923, Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) Catholic Church was erected by the local laborers using sand and gravel from the Gonzales sand pit and water from their well.

The first mass, officiated by the Bishop Arthur Drossaerts, was celebrated on November 13, 1924. In 1955, the ladies of the community formed the altar society of OLPH Catholic Church. As the backbone of the church, the society sponsored annual fundraising dinners and festivals. Proceeds were always designated for the upkeep of the church and religious education programs. The annual festivals were an opportunity for the predominantly Hispanic community to gather in fellowship. The church conducted baptisms, first communions, weddings, funerals, confirmations, Virgen de Guadalupe celebrations, Christmas pageants and the Passion of Christ productions.

In 1969, Father Pedro Parra led the remodel of the church and a new church hall. The hall was used for religious education classes and parish council meetings. Since its creation, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church has continued to contribute to the ethical and religious formation of the Hispanic population in the area. (HISTORICAL MARKER TEXT)


Marker is symbol of History in Marcelina .........   "On April 2, 2005,  in the heart of Wilson County Texas, an officially inscribed Historic Texas Cemetery medallion was unveiled amidst tombstones and bluebonnets. The new spring weather was showing off and the wildflowers decorated every grave. Family and friends in the tiny historic community off S.H. 97 gathered at the Marcelina Baptist Church to dedicate the memorial to their loved ones.

Marvin Mills, president of the Marcelina Cemetery Association, welcomed families, friends, and guests. The Rev. Olen Wilson, minister of the small church, gave the invocation.

Gene Maeckel, chairman of the Wilson County Historical Society, spoke of the hard work it takes to obtain one of the markers.

"The Texas Historical Marker program is one of the best in the country," Maeckel said. "It takes careful work and dedication to obtain a historical marker."

Wilson County Judge Marvin Quinney, who was the guest speaker, praised cemetery association members for their hard work and dedication to preserving and protecting the heritage of their community.

During the ceremony, a history of the Marcelina Cemetery was given by association secretary-treasurer, Barbara Conn Mills. Lauren and Marvin Mills acknowledged the many people who made it possible for the marker to become a reality. The visitors gave thanks for their loved ones, then walked to the cemetery, only a few steps from the simple, white church. The solemn unveiling was done by J.G. Sims, a descendant of the founders. Following an outdoor benediction by the Rev. Wilson, homemade refreshments were offered in the fellowship hall of the church.

"Historic Texas cemetery markers are important, not only because they show how much a community values a landmark site, but also because they interpret the history for future generations," said Dan K. Utley, chief historian with the Texas Historical Commission. "Cemeteries are unfortunately among our most vulnerable cultural resources; they often contain information about the past that cannot be found anywhere else. In that sense, they are like libraries on a landscape."

The Marcelina Cemetery marker from the Texas Historical Commission reads, "In 1876, Isaac and Malinda Sims moved from Mississippi to Wilson County's Marcelina Community. Seven years later, they deeded part of their land for a burial ground and the Marcelina Baptist Church. Samuel Foster, Isaac's stepbrother, also deeded land, including the site of his mother's grave, for burial purposes. Over time, the two cemeteries merged into one. The oldest marked grave, that of Martin Donaho, dates to 1882. The cemetery continues to be used by the community. A cemetery association, organized in 1954 by Sally Sims and others, still maintains the burial ground, which remains a link to the area's rich history."

Near the lone picnic table under the old oak trees in the churchyard, the great-great-grandchildren played, unaware of the significance of the day, which is an important part of their family's history. Someday they will become curious about their community and thankful for the lives and history recorded on the durable, aluminum marker, which stands at the final resting places of their ancestors. Until then, every spring, the bluebonnets will celebrate in their memory and honor."
COURTESY / Wilson County News April 20, 2005
Special to the Wilson County News from Elaine Mazurek Stephens
The Marcelina Baptist Church, 510 Cr 404, Floresville,
 Texas, a little church with six pews on each side and forty-five members. They have small Sunday School classrooms that were later added onto the church buildi


Primitive Baptist Church (La Vernia)

PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH.... La Vernia Wilson County Texas...  October 13, 2010.  A well-known structure, the Primitive Baptist Church,  was moved by horses from the other side of Cibolo Creek to downtown in 1978.

Nancy Pavlich wrote in the Wilson County News :  As Wilson County closes its sesquicentennial year, celebrating its rich history, area residents have been devastated by the loss Oct. 13, 2011 of the historic Primitive Baptist Church in La Vernia. The building, more than 100 years old, was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours that day.

The La Vernia Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) was dispatched at 1:23 a.m. after someone reported a fire at the front door of the church, located behind Blockbuster and the Post Oak Plaza apartments.

According to La Vernia Fire Chief Jason Scheel, firefighters were able to bring the fire under control within 40 minutes, but were unable to save the historic building. The La Vernia VFD was assisted by firefighters from the Sutherland Springs Volunteer Fire Department and Stockdale Volunteer Fire Department, as well as La Vernia Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

The extensive damage may delay discovering the cause of the fire, Scheel said.

Firefighters, the fire marshal, and a canine unit all searched the site for possible clues to the cause of the blaze.

According to Scheel, a fire of this magnitude is uncommon in the La Vernia area.

"For us, it has been pretty quiet, mainly just grass fires," he said. "We haven't had a structure fire in one and a half or two years."

On Oct. 14, Edwin Baker, coordinator of the Wilson County Health and Public Safety Office, said that the cause of the fire was still undetermined.

"We don't know if it's accidental or suspicious or what," Baker said.

Doug Wildenstein and his wife, Pat, longtime members of the church, were visibly distraught at the scene. They arrived at the church at 2 a.m. and stayed all morning, watching as their church home was destroyed.

"It's just devastating," Doug said. "It's not the building that makes up the church; it's the people ... it's a special building though."

Community members are also devastated by the loss.

"It's a very sad loss for our community's history," said Elaine Stephens of the La Vernia Historical Association. "It's one of the oldest churches in La Vernia, with lots of memories and a very meaningful history."

For the time being, Pat Wildenstein said that the church members will hold services in the fellowship hall, adjacent to where the church stood. She said the congregation plans to rebuild in the same location.

"We're going to try to get it as close as possible to the original," Pat said.

She added that other churches in La Vernia have shown their support by offering worship space and hymnals.

The church building was of significant historical value as one of the oldest structures still surviving in La Vernia.

William Robert Wiseman constructed the building in 1876 on his farm on the Cibolo River. The church was moved to its current location in 1891.

The Primitive Baptist Church inherited the building from Herron Wiseman in 1978. There, the congregation held its first service on Feb. 24, 1978.

The church's bell, from the Rector Chapel,  was moved in 1891 from the other side of the Cibolo to the spot where the La Vernia Primitive Baptist Church is now located on Chihuahua Street. The bell tower became unstable, so the church donated the bell to the La Vernia Heritage Museum before the fire.."

The La Vernia Ministerial Alliance invites donations to help rebuild the Primitive Baptist Church here, after an early-morning blaze Oct. 13, 2010 burned the historic church to the ground. The church's members intend to rebuild on the same site.

Pastor David Gale of the First Baptist Church in La Vernia said that the churches in the alliance all have voted to give the church $2,500 from the Ministerial Alliance savings.

The Rev. Robert Palan of the Immanuel Lutheran Church in La Vernia said that the churches of the Ministerial Alliance have also agreed to take a special offering for the church. Palan said the various congregations will combine their offerings into a treasury and present the gift to the members of the Primitive Baptist Church.

The gift will be presented to the church members during the first week of November.

"We just know that there is a need," Palan said. "We wanted to show our care for the congregation, for our brothers and sisters and their loss."

The Nixon State Bank branch in La Vernia is also accepting donations. Checks can be made payable to the La Vernia Primitive Baptist Church, or advise a bank representative that cash donations are intended for the church.

According to Edwin Baker, coordinator with the Wilson County Health and Public Safety office, the cause of the fire remains undetermined. The fire is still under investigation.

Primitive Baptist Church to dedicate new building.....  The congregation of the La Vernia Primitive Baptist Church invites everyone to attend the dedication of the new church building on Saturday, March 31, 2012 and Sunday, April 1,2012. The church has been rebuilt following the fire that devastated the historic building in October 2010.

COURTESY/Wilson County News


FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ... Joseph Polley and John  Sutherland also co-founded a church in Sutherland Springs Texas. The former had sponsored a Sunday school in Austin's Colony and at Whitehall. His preferred denomination is not clear, but his wife was a Presbyterian and he met the Hardinges at a revival sponsored by Southern Methodists, the most numerous denomination in Texas on the eve of the Civil War. On the other hand, Sutherland was a "zealous" Methodist who had served as the president of the Colorado County Bible Society when it organized at Egypt in 1839. The community had been served previously by Methodist circuit riders such as John S. McGee, but now Sutherland and Polley had the small rock schoolhouse. Together they co-sponsored the installation of the Sutherland Springs circuit within the Rio Grande (later West Texas) Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Alexander A. Smithwick of North Carolina became the first assigned pastor, arriving shortly before 1860. Smithwick died in September 1860 at the age of 29, but his place was quickly taken by John S. Gillett, who in 1861 ministered to 86 white and 21 black members of the Sutherland Springs circuit. (Courtesy by the Author of Sutherland Springs Texas: Saratoga on the Cibolo, Richard McClasin)

The 1910 census reported that an Apostolic minister, James W. Scott, lived in the new town, and the next year the First Street Presbyterian Church opened its doors in New Sutherland Springs. The older town still attracted summer religious encampments, but it apparently had no established church. (Courtesy by the Author of Sutherland Springs Texas: Saratoga on the Cibolo, Richard McClasin)

26 Aug 1911 Sutherland Springs Texas First Presbyterian Church was located in New Town that is across the Cibolo Creek high water bridge on FM 539. It is said that the bell that rang many years in the Sutherland Springs Methodist Church came from the Presbyterian Church which had a bell tower. The bell now is resting in the tower of the new First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. If these bells are the same, it is over a hundred years old.

A run of bad luck ravaged Sutherland Springs during the 1920s. Farm prices remained low in Texas and the United States throughout the decade. In 1927, the same year that Fitch's glowing review appeared, a fire from an exploding oil stove on the back porch of a home once owned by Jack Sutherland burned several blocks in the original community. Six homes and the Baptist church were destroyed, for a loss of $25,000 in property, while a dozen other structures were badly damaged, including the Presbyterian church. Hundreds of men fought the blaze with buckets because they had no fire-fighting equipment. (Courtesy by the Author of Sutherland Springs Texas: Saratoga on the Cibolo, Richard McClasin)

13 May 1932 The Sutherland Springs High School held their commencement in the Presbyterian Church.

First Presbyterian Church

Caddo, Texas

CADDO TEXAS ... There are huge gaps between the few known facts about this Caddo (one of four by that name in Texas). Its settlement occurred around the Civil War years and the next mention is the mid 1890s when their school had an enrollment of 64. No population figures are given, but there were enough people to support a gin and a church in the 1930s. After WWII both school and gin closed leaving the church, a cemetery and a few private residences.

CADDO, TX (WILSON COUNTY).Caddo is on Farm Road 3335 eighteen miles northeast of Floresville in eastern Wilson County. The community was first settled around the time of the Civil War. A school was in operation there by 1896, when it had an enrollment of sixty-four. In the mid-1930s Caddo had a school, a gin, a church, and a number of houses. After World War II the school and gin were closed, and in the early 1990s only the church and a few scattered houses remained.
Courtesy Texas State Historical Society

Caddo, Texas