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First Presbyterian Church Chickasha, Oklahoma - 2 - Organization

History, Part 2 - Organization

History of the Organization of the Presbyterian Church of Chickasha, Indian Territory

The extension of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway Co. into the Indian Territory, in the spring and summer of 1892 opened up many new points to settlement. Among these, in April 1892, was founded the town of Chickasha. Almost immediately thereafter the Sabbath School branch of the Board of Publication and the Board of Home Missions collaborated with the Presbytery of Chickasaw in opened these fields to the ministry of the gospel.

In the latter part of June, 1892, Rev. G. V. Albertson, a Presbyterian Sunday School missionary, and Rev. H. H. Shawhan, a licentiate of the Presbytery of Choctaw, came to Chickasha, which had just been opened that Spring. They rented the Griffin Building and obtained lumber from A. B. Snow and Co. and dry good boxes from Ellerman & Co. to improvise seats, began a series of meetings which eventuated in the organization of the Presbyterian Church.

The Rev. C. H. Miller of El Reno came to Chickasha on Sunday June 28, 1892, organized a temporary board of Trustees, and presided at the election of an elder. Then he received the names of sixteen who signified their intention to join the Presbyterian Church. Trustees elected were A. B. Snow, J. A. Rose and J. Descombes. J. Descombes was the Elder elect.

From June until the end of October, 1892, the church was occasionally supplied by Shawhan and Albertson. Early in November, the Rev. E. Hamilton under direction of the Home Missions committee of Presbytery came to Chickasha. Here he found a nest church edifice under construction. Worship services were then being held in the Campbell building, in three weeks the new building was sufficiently completed to permit its use.

On Christmas day, December 25, 1892, the organization of the first Presbyterian Church of Chickasha under the care of the Presbytery of Oklahoma was solemnly proclaimed to be perfected. At this time those who had previously signified their wish to unite with the church were received into membership. The installation of the elder was also accomplished. The prayer and sermon by Rev. Hamilton were taken from I Timothy 3:1-2; "If a man desires the office of a bishop he desireth a good work."

Those who had given their names when the temporary organization took place together with those who had subsequently given their names met at the church the same day after public worship. Letters were handed in and being found in order the following were enrolled as communicants: 

Mrs. D. M. Johnston, from Presbyterian Church of Newton, Kansas; Mr. A. B. Snow, from Presbyterian Church of Winfield, Kansas; Miss Mattie Brown, from First Presbyterian Church of Wichita, Kansas; Miss Etta Cloud from Presbyterian Church of Carolina, Arkansas; Mr. J. Descombes from Presbyterian Church of Kingfisher, Oklahoma. Mrs. J. Descombes from Presbyterian Church of Kingfisher, Oklahoma; Mr. Ed. Riddle from Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Moore, More Co., Tennessee; Mr. J. A. Rose from Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Bucklin, Missouri.

Four others were enrolled on profession of faith. They were Mr. Robert M. McClanahan, Mrs. Mary A. Trimble, Mr. William Content, and Mr. William Fraser. The pastor served as moderator of the meeting.

Following the formal organizing of the church, membership grew slowly during a four year period to number 31 on April 11, 1897. The following year saw more than a 33 1/3% increase to 42 active members. On April 10, 1899, it had jumped again to 52, and then made additional gains in a two year period to number 79 on April 15, 1901.

* * *

Interest in the building of a new church home manifested itself about the turn of the century. It was not until almost 20 years later that the definite steps were taken to pave the way for the new building.

Finally in July, 1920, Rev. Wendell Foster presented to the session a set of plans for a new church costing about $100,000. In the fall of that year the first church building was moved from its site and eventually became the Frisco Avenue Methodist Church, and is still in use today.

A proposal to buy a plot of ground at 6th and Kansas as a site for the new church was approved at a congregational meeting February 6, 1921. The earlier site of the church was to be sold except for a 50 x 165 foot lot on the corner of 6th and Minnesota on which a few manses would be built at some future time.

This proposal contained in a letter to the congregational signed by the chairman of the Board of Trustees also stated 
"III Proposed - The congregation instruct the trustees to push the plans for the erection of the new building to a speedy conclusion and design; that they continue and complete the canvass for funds in the Congregation, and elsewhere, until such a time as the church shall be paid for; that they borrow from whatever source seems advisable, such funds necessary to carry on the work until pledges shall be paid in full, and the full amount of cost of the building raised.

"IV Proposed - The Congregation instruct the Pastor with advise of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, to create the necessary organization, for the obtaining and spending of sufficient funds for the erection of said building; to create the organization necessary for the completion of this building.

"V Proposed - The Congregation promises the trustees their personal and financial support, their prayers and their cooperation in the pursuance of this work until it shall be complete."

A congregational meeting held in the Christian Church on April 1, 1921 reversed the decision as to the location of the church and it was decided to build it on the 6th and Minnesota property.

Adoption of plans and specifications for the new church came at a congregational meeting on November 13 the same year. Shortly before this, Rev. Foster had resigned, but with Rev. Silas V. Fait, Anadarko, as moderator of the Session, plans for the new church went forward. Then in the spring of 1922, the Rev. W. A. Roach accepted a call and came here from Clinton.

On Easter Sunday the following building committee was appointed: Clinton C. Steinberger, Thos. B. Losey, J. H. Miller, P. G. Spinning, and Mrs. Charles Rose. Services that Easter were held in the Rialto Theater. Knights Templar Masons attended in a body. Then on May 2, 1922, Rev. Roach was installed as pastor.

The cornerstone for the new church was laid November 5, 1922, at 2:30 P.M. Rev. Roach delivered the principal address and Rev. Samuel Pearson of the Congregational Church gave the invocation and the prayer which followed the address of Rev. Roach.
The cornerstone was donated by the Ladies' Social Circle. In it were placed the entire membership roll, names of all the elders, deacons and trustees; the names of the ladies of the social circle, names of the ladies Guild, circles one and two; names of Young Peoples' Society of Christian Endeavor, names of the building committee, the name of the contractor, Charles Steckler, a dime made in 1919, a Lincoln penny, the title line and date lines of Saturday's issue of Chickasha Daily Express and the editorial in Saturday's issue pertaining to the laying of the cornerstone, and the printed program for the occasion and the title line of the Chickasha Star, and names of charter members of the Ladies' Social Circle.

At the conclusion of Rev. Roach's address, brief talks were made by Rev. E. R. L. Morgan, Epworth Methodist Church; Rev. C. B. James, First Christian Church; and Rev. Pearson. Each pledged the support and cooperation of his congregation in the building project. Then a representative of the Chamber of Commerce spoke briefly. Mr. Roach then called upon Mrs. Trimble and J. A. Rose, both charter members of the church, for remarks.

R. G. Latting spoke in behalf of Mrs. Trimble. In the course of his remarks, Mr. Rose referred to the fact that the old Presbyterian Church was the first house of worship erected in Chickasha and that all of the other denominations were organized in it and used it during the early days.

T. B. Losey, member of the building committee, also made a short talk in which he explained the plans for the new church. Mrs. Losey, Mrs. C. E. Rose, Mrs. Bishop and other ladies were called upon.

After their remarks, Mr. Roach spoke the solemn words prescribed for such occasions and then the actual "ground breaking" was carried out. Mrs. Trimble was invited to turn the first spade of full dirt and she was followed by J. A. Rose, after which the pastor and ministers of other denominations took turns. They were followed by official members of the church and many others. The ceremonies were closed with a prayer and the benediction by Rev. Mr. James.