The Tenth Street United Methodist Church Historical Marker, Taylor, Texas

Marker Text:

Services conducted in 1896-98 by the Rev. C. Charnquist in homes of Taylor's early settlers let to the founding (1900) of the Swedish Methodist Church, North. Buying the chapel of a disbanded group, the congregation increased, moving their church to this site in 1911. Membership stabilized at about 240 in the 1920s. In 1935 English became the language in regular use. National religious trends led to name changes. The interior of the sanctuary was remodeled in 1950; annex added in 1963. Twenty-eight pastors have served this church.

Google Map

GPS Coordinates
Latitude: 30.576 Longitude: -97.4147

Address: 977-1099 Hackberry St

Tenth Street United Methodist Church

Historical Narrative by A. M. Ahlgreen, with
additional material by Clara Scarbrough.

The Tenth Street United Methodist Church of Taylor is located on land known as Lots 6, 7, and 8 of Block 2, Murphy Addition. This was a part of a tract granted to T. A. Johnson by the State of Texas in 1849. (Vol. 16, page 534) T. A. Johnson held the land for more than two decades, but when it became known that the International and Great Northern Railroad would build in that area, the exchange of land became more active. In 1874, T. A. Johnson sold to Mary M. Williams (Vol. 15, page 621); Mary M. and H. G. Williams sold to N. W. Hunter in 1875. (Vol. 16, pages 393 and 532) In 1876, the year the railroad was actually built, N. W. Hunter sold the tract to R. S. Hayes. (Vol. 18, page 299)

From this point, all exchanges took place with prominent residents of the newly formed town of Taylorsville. R. S. Hayes sold to C. L. Fowzer in 1877 (Vol. 19, page 31); C. L. Fowzer sold to George V,. 3urkett and Dan Murphy, who were partners in real estate and other business ventures in the area, in 1882 (Vol. 28, page 73); Burkett sold his share in the holding to Dan Murphy November 10, 1884 (Vol. 36, page 581); and the Murphy Addition was formed (Vol. 101, pages 240-41). Although the Tenth Street United Methodist Church had purchased their church in 1900 from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, they continued to hold services at the location of the old Cumberland church for ten years. Then on December 31, 1910, the Tenth Street Methodists purchased another lot, the one described above, and moved the church from its original location to the new site in Murphy Addition. The sale was made from Dan Murphy to F. Dahlberg, the latter acting for the church which was then called the Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church.

The documentation of the date of building is provided in the deed of sale to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church elders the block of land recorded in Vol. 71, page 330:

John Allen Gano of Taylor deeded lots 5 and 6 of Block 2 of the Doak Addition, Taylor, to the elders of Cumberland Presbyterian Church, I. M. Hedrick. W. B. Pybus, Samuel Robertson, on March 17, 1894. The deed specified that the land was for the purpose of providing a building site, and the sale was made for $300.

The motivation for erecting the church was similar to that of a number of denominations formed in the late 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s, as the new railroad town grew and the need for church homes became apparent. The Cumberland Presbyterians had the structure built--a modest, frame building, typical of the architecture of that period. According to histories of that church, whose life was brief, I. M. Hedrick headed the elders who funded the project. The church membership was small, however, and found itself unable to support its maintenance and to pay the balances due on the building.

After a few years of struggle, the members moved to other churches in the town, including a First Presbyterian, which was formed still earlier, and Mr. Hedrick was left with outstanding bills. For this reason, he decided to sell the building to the Swedish Methodists, who were looking for a church home, in order to recover his losses. As already noted, the sale was made in 1900, and the Methodist group, who had been meeting in homes, now held services in the old Cumberland Church on the Doak Addition lot, until 1910. The architect and contractors are unknown.

The original structure contained a large, high-ceilinged sanctuary and, to one side, a Sunday School area, partially opened into the sanctuary through a wide spanning archway, originally curtained off.

There was also a small foyer or entryway. The outside was finished in wood siding, and the entry door and windows utilized the pointed arch. A square tower topped by a pointed steeple was built at one corner of the church, approximately at the entry. Inside, the high ceiling was finished with wallpaper, as were the wood walls; and the floors were oak.

The original altar area was one level only, and the altar was enclosed by a beveled banister railing.

The original pulpit chairs, which have been retained, were of oak, had hand-carved trim in leaf and roses design. The chair backs had turned rails. The communion table was of simple lines, had an unusual, curved shape at the corners. When the building was moved to its present site in 1910, Eric and John Engstrom, brothers, repainted and papered the interior of the church.

In 1950, the church underwent extensive remodeling. The ceiling paper was covered with acoustical tile, and the papered walls .covered with beige grooved panels of asbestos wallboard above the painted wainscoting, which is of the now-rare beaded wood. The east door in the rear of the church, which originally led to the parsonage, was covered, and a door added on the north side in its place. A platform was added in the rear of the pulpit to give two levels in the altar area. The pointed section of the steeple was removed, but the square tower was retained. The northwest entrance to the church was changed to the southwest and, still later, to the south. Until this time, the church was cooled by ceiling fans, but the remodeling project included replacing some of the windows with rectangular casement types, which give more light and air. Fans were replaced by central air conditioning.

The wide arch which separated the small east wing used by Sunday School classes was raised, and the east section became a part of the sanctuary, thus enlarging the space for the congregation. New oak pews and pulpit furniture were added, more in keeping with the size and style of the interior. The older communion table and pulpit chairs were removed to the educational annex in 1963, where they sit in a place of honor at the front of the auditorium. Also in this group is an old collection plate, believed to be one of the originals at the church. The railing was removed from around the altar. The reed organ, in use for many years in the church, was replaced by an electric organ, and the reed organ presented the Bloomquist family, all musicians, who were church members. Robert Bloomquist, the eldest son, now has the organ in his Taylor home. The original communion pitcher and cup are also kept in the present educational annex. Exterior siding was also added.

In 1963, a large brick education annex was added on the north side of the church and joined to the church with a small breezeway. Red carpets have been added in the Sanctuary, providing a bright contrast to the softly neutral colors of the walls and oak furniture.

The church membership showed a gradual increase during the first quarter of century, then attained a stable number, which it has held for many years, its present membership being about 240.

Since its membership originally was composed almost entirely of Swedish families who had emigrated from Sweden, the Swedish language was used in both church and Sunday School for many years. In 1935, the church voted to change from Swedish language sermons to English, and some years prior to that time, Sunday School converted to English.

Although the church represents an important ethnic group of that area, the church has also participated in many community activities and has been an integral part of Taylor's life. The Woman's Society for Christian Service, through its circles, cooperates in a program to visit each of Taylor's nursing homes on Sunday afternoons and bring programs to the residents. WICS ladies also belong to an organization of all church women in Taylor and assist with various projects sponsored by that group. In recent years, the church choir prepared and presented Swedish music during the Taylor Independence Days festival. The church's most recent project is to provide a place for a city-wide kindergarten for preschoolers. The kindergarten is administered by mothers of the children who attend and meet in the educational annex of Tenth Street Church. All Taylor children, regardless of church affiliation, are eligible to attend.

The Tenth Street United Methodist Church of Taylor will celebrate its seventy-fifth year as an organized church in 1976 and wishes to commemorate that occasion with a State Historical Marker delineating the history of its church structure and of the church itself. The church building is 81 years old, and the gathering of small groups of Swedish people in Taylor to hold services dates back 79 years.

Swedish Religious Traditions in Rural Texas 
Summary of Travis Summerlin Talk

Travis Summerlin, Ph.D., pastor of Tenth Street United Methodist Church in Taylor, was among the five speakers presenting oral histories at the second “Deep in the Heart of Taylor” story night at Taylor’s Moody Museum, March 23, 2019.

In the 1860s, Sweden was hit by a severe famine, there were a series of crop failures, and many farmers were in dire straits.  Thousands migrated into the United States, many settling around Austin and in Williamson County.  They cleared the land, planted corn and cotton, and built homes, churches, and businesses.  They were strong survivors and did very well in the often harsh environments of frontier Texas.

The state church in Sweden was the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church, but there were a variety of denominations.  The church was the center of community life, and those traditions were brought with immigrants to America.

One unique custom was the Saint Lucia service at the beginning of Advent, usually around December 10th.  Saint Lucia was a young Christian Roman noblewoman from Syracuse in Sicily.  She was active in using her financial means to support the poor on the island and the Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Diocletian in 304 AD.  She rejected a young nobleman who had a crush on her and was turned in to Roman authorities.  She was beheaded for being a Christian.

Tradition holds that Saint Lucia wore a crown of candles when distributing food to hungry Christians.  Among Swedish emigrants, the eldest daughter on December tenth wore a long white dress and a crown of candles.  Today, she passes out sweetbreads, confections, and coffee to family members, but her candles are battery-operated.  The New Sweden Lutheran Church near here still has a beautiful Saint Lucia service.

Swedes observe Julotta at dawn on Christmas morning to welcome the birth of Christ.  As in medieval times, Swedes would carry torches as they marched to their church and start a bonfire in front to keep warm.  They wouldn’t enter the church prior to the crack of dawn, believing that the dead were holding a Christmas mass inside and would rip them apart if entering before they were finished.  Today, they gather at their church and light the big white center candle on the Advent wreath, sing songs of praise, have a devotional, and then enjoy sweets and coffee.

Saint John’s United Methodist Church in Georgetown, with a strong Swedish ancestry, still has a beautiful Julotta service.  Our Tenth Street United Methodist Church in Taylor held a Julotta service up until attendance dropped off about six years ago.

At first, early Swedish settlers would worship in their individual log cabin farmhouses.  They depended on circuit-riding Methodist pastors who would come through from time to time.

One of the earliest circuit-riding pastors to preach to Swedish Methodists in the Taylor area was named G.A. Lundell.  He was pastor of the Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church North, headquartered in Kansas City.

When the American Methodists broke away from the home church in Britain after the Revolution, it became the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1784, reflecting its Episcopal form of church government by bishops.  Like many denominations in 1845, it split apart over slavery, the anti-slavery Swedes siding with the Methodist Episcopal Church North.

In 1939, the two divisions reunited and were joined by the Methodist Protestant Church, becoming just the Methodist Church.  In 1968, it merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, becoming the United Methodist Church, the current designation.

In 1871, a young Swedish Lutheran named Carl C. Charnquist immigrated to Michigan with his wife, Hanna.  Hearing about Swedish immigrants around Austin, they decided to seek their fortune in the new raw frontier of Texas.  He became known among Swedes for organ playing.

About this time, a group formed the Swedish Methodist Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brushy, Texas.  It later became Palm Valley Lutheran Church.  They met in a big log house with crooked logs and a big wooden chest for a pulpit.  They invited Carl to be their organist, and after he agreed, he mentioned he’d have to bring an organ.

Fortunately, on his way to Austin, he had bought one in Chicago for $157.  Shipment was delayed by the 1871 Great Chicago Fire.  It survived and showed up in McDade, Texas, a few days before Christmas.  Very early Christmas morning, a bunch of Brushy Swedes got horses and wagons together and brought Carl, Hanna, and the organ back to Brushy in time for the Christmas morning Julotta service.

The Brushy pastor was a former Swedish police official, D.M. Tillman, who adhered strictly to the ritual of the state-supported Swedish Lutherans.  His unusual delivery included standing on that open chest pulpit filled with broken glass, his theory being that it would increase the volume of his voice.

Carl Charnquist noted the only sound was that glass grinding under Tillman’s feet that sounded like the moans of the bones of the poor lost sinners he was treading upon as he preached damnation to all.

Carl and Hanna met Lundell, the circuit-riding pastor, who converted them to Methodism.  Carl became an ordained minister serving scattered groups of Swedish Methodists in Williamson County.  He organized the Swedish Methodist congregation in Hutto and was involved with Saint John’s in Georgetown and Swedish Methodists in Taylor.

In 1897, Charnquist asked everyone in the Taylor area interested in forming their own Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church to attend a meeting at the farmhouse of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Carlson in Waterloo, northeast of Taylor.  They formed the Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church North of Taylor with Charnquist, the pastor for the next three years, still meeting in homes.

In 1900, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church sold a church building to the group.  The local Swedish Methodists contributed $490, merchants and businessmen in Taylor gave $330, and $800 came from churches in the Kansas City North Conference.  The Taylor Methodist congregation never forgot the generosity of those churches and always supported funds to help establish new churches where needed.

The group worshiped in that building on Howard Street with pastors Ernest Sevorin and one named Westerbrook or Westerberg.   They purchased a plot of land for $1400 in 1911 at the corner of Tenth Street and Hackberry.  They moved the church building to its new location pulled by mules over logs.

They established a Sunday school in 1901 that had 111 enrolled by 1910.  Lesson books were in Swedish until pastor R.R. Bloomquist convinced the congregation to switch to English in 1927 to reach more people.

The church honored Swedish charter members in 1954 that included Mr. and Mrs. A. Svenkse, Mr. and Mrs. Walfrid Johnson and Mrs. C.A. Alben.

After the building was moved, it was Tenth Street Swedish Methodist
Episcopal Church becoming Tenth Street Methodist in 1939 and Tenth Street United Methodist in 1968.

A Texas state historical marker honoring the congregation was awarded in 1976.  A five-star mission congregation in the Central Texas Conference, the church has been characterized by strong laity involvement and commitment to missions.  It has supported students in the Philippines, missionaries in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and a church in the Congo.  Locally, it actively supports Shepherd’s, Heart Food Pantry.

A good choir has served the congregation most of its history, thanks primarily to the Bloomquist family.  R.R. Bloomquist became choir director in 1916, and their son Franklin has been music director for years.  The family was the heart of the choir.

Ed Komandosky was chosen Temple district lay leader in 1998, and he later served as the conference lay leader from 2004-2008.  The church became a Lord’s acre church in 1962 to help defray indebtedness for a new education building.  Farmers and non-farmers used creative projects to raise money for the building.

Today’s members of Swedish ancestry include Franklin Bloomquist, John Macdonald, Carol Ann, and Jimmy Preuss, Doris Davis, Betty Bittner, and Martha Artichoski.

Our motto is teaching the story of God’s love in Jesus Christ, serving our neighbors’ real-world needs, and loving others without judgment as Christ first loved us.  We’re happy to be a part, still, of the Taylor Community.