Editor’s note: This is the second of a series of columns on the Methodist Church in League City.
Back in those early days, being a Methodist preacher on the frontier meant experiencing incredibly harsh conditions and deprivations.
The average preacher went into the ministry at age 24 and could be expected to live only seven years after that.
When they gathered for their annual meeting, the Methodist ministers who first served in the League City area rode to their annual meeting on horseback or in wagons.
They sat down on hard pews until the bishop urged them to stand and sing “And Are We Yet Alive?” And they would have sung with tears in their eyes and lumps in their throats.
For in the dim lamplight, they could look around the room and count the empty seats, which only one year before had been filled with their friends and comrades.
After the 1900 Storm and as planning began for the new building, it was decided that a different location was needed. The previous site was exchanged for a location that later became the corner of Third Street and Illinois Avenue.
The parsonage was moved to the lot and work on the new church began. The project was completed in 1901.
Throughout the early 1900s, League City Methodist Church was combined with other churches in the area in circuits. This arrangement lasted until 1929.
By 1920, membership in League City Methodist Church had reached an all-time high of 260. League City had a population of about 900 by this time, and the Methodist Church was one of three that were active.
About 35 businesses were operating, and these included garages and service stations. Fertile land continued to attract people to the area. Farmers had established citrus groves and fig orchards.
Humble Oil built a tank farm near League City around 1919, and this provided quite a few jobs. Drilling rigs now dotted the area, and the oil industry was gaining strength.
Other industry included a broom factory. By 1923, fig groves occupied 2,500 acres. Cattle ranching and vegetable farming remained strong.
Then on a fall day in 1935 it happened. Mr. Herb Medsger was a teenager at the time, and he describes what happened: “I remember the day well,” Medsgersaid.
“I was only about 50 yards away when the church caught fire. Brother Hallonquist was preparing for winter by trying to rid the chimney of bird nests.
“He had put a lot of old newspapers in the stove and had set fire to the paper. What happened next was a big ‘belch’ of burning bird nests out of the chimney onto the dry wood shingles on the roof.
“The rest is history. We had no fire department in those days, and a fire truck from Texas City finally arrived about an hour too late.”
Don’t forget the fourth annual Butler Longhorn Museum Fundraiser Dinner, Dancing, Auctions and Casino is at 6 p.m. July 12 at the South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center.
Tickets and Sponsorships are available. Call 281-332-1393.