Early Church Historical Marker, Florence, Texas

Marker Text

On land given March 8, 1845, by John C. Caskey for cemetery and meeting house. Originally 2-story, the native stone structure is believed to have been built before 1855, financed by J. W. Atkinson and Dr. O. Benedict. in that era it housed a school, Baptist and Methodist worship services, and Masonic and Odd Fellows lodges. It was purchased in 1924 by Primitive Baptists and reduced to one story in an extensive remodeling in 1950. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1970.

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GPS coordinates
Latitude: 30.838219 Longitude: -97.789449

Address: 100 Suttles St

Historical Narrative by Mrs George R. Caskey

On March 8, 1845, Jonn C. Caskey conveyed to Wm. A. Davis, #"2 tracts of land situated, lying, and being in Williamson County and the State of Texas., lying on the waters of the Salado Creek near Brooksville, being' parts or parcels of the Wells and Hornsby Leagues."

Of this tract, one square acre in the S. E. corner was given for a graveyard and meeting house.

The deeds were dated February 25, 1855, and filed and recorded on June 28, 1856. It is believed the building was built between 1845 and 1855.

The building was financed by two generous men, J. W. Atkinson and Ozias Benedict.

Ozias Benedict was a doctor. Our late Dr. O. B. Atkinson was named for him. John W. Atkinson was born on September 10, 1829, and died on April 27, 1900.

The building: was built of native stone. Originally it was a two-story 'building.

The lower floor was used by the. Methodist and Baptist Congregations. The second floor was used by the Masonic and Odd Fellow Lodges. Both the church groups and the lodges permitted the building to be used as a schoolhouse.

On June 12, 1875, Strayhorn, the Sheriff, levied and seized all the estate, right, title, and interest which O. Benedict had.

It was sold on the first Tuesday in July 1875 at Public Vendue in the County of Williamson, at the courthouse door to W. O. Stanley for the sum of $50.

John Stanley was the highest bidder.

This included the lots upon which the 0. Benedict stone house was situated, and the individual interest in the land and stone house situated in the town of Florence, known as the Methodist and Baptist Church.

John 4. Atkinson for $380 and W. J. Stanley for $89 sold 1/4 interest in lot and building to J. L. Whittenburg, A. G. Gannaway, John W. Casey, P. D. Shofner (sen), and to D. S. Whittenberg (trustees legally authorized to hold the property for the use of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South).

On May 20, 1876, J. W. Atkinson and W. J. Stanley for $67 sold to Thomas P. Chapman, Lewellen Moore (Sen), Deacons of the Missionary Baptist Church, and their successors an undivided 1/4 interest in and to a certain lot and building, together with the exclusive right to control tree lower room as the said church may deem proper 1/2 of the time and at the same time excluding said church from all and any control of, the upper room in said building.

In January 1884, for $511, the Missionary Baptist Church, represented by Lewellen Moore (Sr) and John Rutledge, Deacons of the Missionary Baptist Church, sold their 1/4 interest in the lot and two-story building to Trustees of M. E. G. S.

On February 6, 1906, The Florence Lodge AF & AM No. 338 paid $125 for the 1/4 interest in land and 1/2 interest in the top story of the building to T. D. Bird, Noble Grand and
E. 0. Hood, Sec. of and acting for Florence Lodge IOOF No. 132.

In 1906 the Florence Lodge No. 338, AF & AM, represented by A. R. Bobo, Worshipful Master, and J. P. Storey, Sec. of Florence lodge No. 338 AF & AM sold to J. W. Standlee & al (Trustees of M. E. Church, Committee appointed by Quarterly Conference of the Florence Charge of the M. E. Church, south, W. S. Miller, E. 0. Hood, and E. McMullen the 1/2 interest in the land and entire interest in the upper story of the building for $500.

The building and lot were purchased by the Primitive Baptist Church in 1924. It was later remodeled.

The building stands as a monument to past generations.

In 1920 the Methodist Congregation remodeled the stone building. The second floor was removed, giving the church a high vaulted ceiling. An inclined floor was laid. A steeple and a church bell were added to the front of the church. The original stone was probably covered with stucco at this time to give it a more modern appearance.

The building and lot were purchased by the Primitive Baptist Church in 1924.

In 1950 money was made available for repairing and remodeling. The second story and steeple were removed. A new and better casting of stucco was put on. The steeple was removed for safety reasons. Removal of the second story improved the acoustics and aided in the heating of the building. This remodeling has given the Church a more modern appearance.

The original window ledges and the beams used as foundations for the second floor still remain in view.