Talk of Wilson County TX Historic Towns

by Barbara J. Wood
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The Marcelina Baptist Church
THE MARCELINA BAPTIST CHURCH ...  is 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 building. Isaac and Malinda Sims, a couple that used to live in the area, gave six and one-sixth acres to Marcelina Baptist Church on May 18, 1901 at the price of $95.00. Four acres were for church purposes and two and one-sixth for a graveyard. There are actually two graveyards, both under the title of Marcelina Graveyard. The first graveyard was called Marcelina Graveyard. The other one was called the Foster family graveyard. Over the years they got too full and then they finally just grew together. The graveyard is not open to the public and they only allow people that are family. A little part of the Marcelina Cemetery was part of Mr. and Mrs. Foster's farm. It was only for people in the Foster's family. The Fosters later sold the part of their farm that was part of the Marcelina Cemetery. When it was sold, it was surveyed and fenced very carefully. At that time, the cemetery did not have a name. Mr. Foster reserved a section next to the church for strangers and other people who died friendless or poor. 
Wilson County History, by Louise Stadler, 1990 Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, Texas.
The roots and history of Marcelina Baptist Church begin in 1800s ...
In the middle 1800s, a band of courageous people moved West from several different states. Weary from long hours of travel, they came into the fertile green valley of Marcelina. Homes had to be built, fields cleared, but this little group did not forget to take time to worship God. Logs were split and seats were made from them and placed under shade trees and here began what is known as the Marcelina Baptist Church. This was along about the year of 1860 and the church was really organized in 1874. In 1883 Mr. Isaac Sims donated land for the first building to be erected to house the congregation. Material for the building was hauled from Marion, Texas, by wagons drawn by oxen. The first pastor was Bro. Worthington.
In early days they baptized in the Mustang Pond near the church on the Hare farm. Later they baptized in the Cibolo Creek at Hankinson Crossing. Not many months ago, 10 people were baptized in the same spot. The old church has seen hundreds follow their Lord in baptism and go out to win others to the Lord.
In 1901 the old church was torn down and a larger church was built, more or less in the same location of the present building. Bro. Eugene Donaho served as pastor from about1908 until 1911.
Here is a quote from the book, Century Around The Alamo. "Marcelina This church has the largest membership of any country church in the San Antonio Association, 58 have been baptized in the last 3 years."
Through courage, faith, and hard work of these great Christian pioneers and those who have followed through the years, Marcelina Baptist has been a beacon light not only to this community, but to many, many that have passed our way. The Devil has placed many obstacles in the path but the great faith of our forefathers and those that loved the old church have continued God's work in this sacred spot and God has blessed the church through the years and we believe will allow this church to stand as a guiding light in this community.
The longest pioneer members of this church were the late Mrs. J.G. Sims and Mrs. Martha Newman. Their devotion to this church has been an inspiration to many. The late Mr. and Mrs. M.S. Teague devoted many years of time and effort toward the ongoing of God's work at this place that they so dearly loved. The recent passing of Mrs. Elpie Luker took another faithful Christian from our midst that had worked in the church as teacher, song leader, and pianist. Her memory will linger long. Still another who loved the church and comes as often as health will permit is Mrs. Frank Burton. Mr. R.C. Donaho is another who never forgets the place where he found the Lord. Mrs. Sallie Mills is still a faithful member. Her children were brought up in this church and three of her sons surrendered to preach the gospel.
Down through the years there have been three buildings on or near the present location. The present sanctuary was completed in 1935. The parsonage being completed under the leadership of the late Rev. W.A. Rogers whose untiring efforts and dauntless courage inspired his members to build this much needed building. It was also under his leadership that the first annual homecoming was instituted.
Some of the later work of the church has been memorial gifts that have been placed here in memory of loved ones. Mrs. Howard Pooley placed new songbooks in memory of her husband, Mr. Howard Pooley. The communion table was placed here by Mr. Ross Donaho in memory of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Dank Donaho. The pulpit chairs were placed in memory of Mr. J.G. Sims by her children and her friends. The two front doors were placed in loving memory of Mrs. Elpie Luker, by her friends at the church.
There have been many outstanding men of God who have held pastorates in the church: Bro. Worthington, Washburn, Cunningham Israel, Wick Blanton, J.D. Stringer, Black, Stoddard, Jones, Griffith, Sullivan Riddle, Henderson, Ingram, Langrum, White, Appling, Anderson, Eugene Donaho, Holland, Spearman, Marshal Smith, Bryan Teague, Dick Rice, J.F. Hoffman, J. Frank Cox, Frank T. Cox, G.O. Summers, T.W. Smith, C.E. Botterhoff, Sidney Johnson, L.L. Belton, Joe Jetton, H.C. Reddoch, W.A. Rogers, Isaac Caperton, Frank Ornburn, Larry Hickman, George Leavitt, Lee Smith, J.C. Petty, Gibson Nesbitt, and our present pastor, Rev. Dempsey Simmons. Much credit goes to him for our growth, both in numbers and greater still, in a spiritual way.
Marcelina Baptist Church has been a place of inspiration throughout her history. Many leaders of our Baptist work in Texas are products of this church. At least 15 young men have felt the call of God in their lives to full time Gospel ministry and have gone out from here to win many souls to Christ.
The annual homecoming was inaugurated in 1950 and has become one of the outstanding events of the church and eagerly awaited by all who have loved and cherished its memories and feel they are truly coming home where they first came to know the Lord.
This article, found in the Wilson County Historical Archives, was originally published in the Floresville Chronicle-Journal May 19, 1966. The author is not known. It was submitted to the Wilson County Historical Society by Maurine Liles. 
COURTESY/ Wilson County News  July 23, 2014

The  history of Marcelina Cemetery ...

Isaac and Malinda Sims and their seven children moved by covered wagon from Jasper County, Mississippi, to Marcelina in January 1876. They came to join Isaac's father, Dr. Jesse Green Sims, and his stepmother, Theresa Foster Sims, who had settled there a few years earlier along with their children.
Isaac and Malinda bought a farm in the Marcelina community and as the community grew, the need for a cemetery became apparent. Isaac, a public-spirited man, deeded a portion of his farm in 1883 for the sum of $1. The land provided an adequate-sized cemetery for the community as well as land to build a house of worship for the Marcelina Baptist Church.
Later in 1901, Isaac and Malinda sold more of their land to the Marcelina Baptist Church. The second deed designated four acres for church purposes and 2 1/6 acres for a graveyard.
Adjoining this cemetery was land deeded to Samuel H. Foster in 1885. Foster sold this land in 1886, reserving 1 1/2 acres nearest to the Marcelina Baptist Church for burial purposes. This included the grave of his mother and all others buried on this tract of land prior to this date. Through the years, these two cemeteries merged as one and saw extensive use as more and more pioneers settled in Marcelina.
The oldest marked grave at Marcelina Cemetery is that of Martin Donaho, who was born in 1848 and died in 1882. There are many old marked graves located throughout the cemetery and just as many unmarked. Numerous graves belong to the veterans of U.S. wars, while several graves are marked with Masonic or Woodmen of the World and Eastern Star symbols.
In the earlier day, all interested parties met at the cemetery on George Washington's birthday, Feb. 22, and gave the cemetery a good cleaning. The remainder of the year, each family was responsible for the gravesites of their loved ones. This system worked well until the older generation began to thin out and families of the earlier settlers moved away. As time went on, graves became more and more neglected except on the annual cleanup day.
In 1954, Sally Sims, granddaughter of Isaac and Malinda Sims, and others established the Marcelina Cemetery Association. The association meets annually to continue the maintenance of the gravesites where their loved ones are buried. The members of the association come from all over the state of Texas and even from other states, and is growing as more family members become involved. The goal is to maintain everlasting care of the cemetery in the future and to continue to provide a peaceful resting place.
Prepared by Barbara (Conn) Mills, secretary/treasurer of the Marcelina Cemetery Association, in August 2002.
COURTESY/ Wilson County News

Marker is symbol of History in Marcelina

Source: Wilson County News
By Elaine Mazurek Stephens
April  2005
On April 2 in the heart of Wilson County, 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.
Marcelina is located four miles east of Floresville off S.H. 97.

CIRCA 1910

MARCELINA WILSON COUNTY TEXAS SCHOOL ....    circa 1910.  Miss Sadie Dennis was the teacher.  Patty Flora Sitchler's grandmother, Jettie Lou Cale Tipton is in the picture donning pigtails & wearing a gingham dress. Anyone else recognize a relative? (Thank you Patty for sharing!)