MCMAHAN'S CHAPEL

Walter N. Vernon

MCMAHAN'S CHAPEL. McMahan's Chapel, organized in 1833, is the oldest Methodist church and the oldest Protestant congregation with continuous services in Texas. The chapel is located on Spur 35 two miles south of Route 21 and twelve miles east of San Augustine. Samuel D. McMahan of Tennessee settled there in 1831 in what was then the San Augustine municipality of the Mexican government (see MEXICAN TEXAS). At the Mississippi Conference in Vicksburg in November 1832, James P. Stevenson was appointed to the Sabine Circuit of Louisiana, a few miles east of where McMahan had settled. In the spring of 1833 at Natchitoches, Louisiana, Stevenson met some Texans who asked him to cross the state line and preach to them, even though Protestant services were forbidden in Mexican territory. Assured by the laymen of protection, Stevenson agreed and held a two-day meeting in a private home near the site of present Milam. McMahan attended the services and invited Stevenson to preach at his home also. Stevenson did so and returned several times during the year to hold services. He was requested to organize a church, but knowing that starting a Methodist church would be against the law, he formed instead a "religious society" of forty-eight members in September 1833. He named McMahan the "class leader." In July 1834 Henry Stephenson, successor of James P. Stevenson on the Sabine Circuit, reorganized the society in McMahan's home, and it was soon called McMahan's Chapel.

After the Texas Revolution the McMahan congregation grew rapidly, and there was need for a church building. In December 1838 the Mississippi Conference appointed Littleton Fowler as presiding elder of the Texas Mission District. Fowler built a home near McMahan's place and made it his headquarters. About 1839 he assisted with the building of a log chapel, forty by thirty feet, for the McMahan congregation. The log structure was replaced by a frame church in 1872, and another of similar material was erected in 1900. The present brick building was dedicated in 1956. The 1970 general conference designated McMahan Chapel as one of the first three official United Methodist landmarks. A cemetery containing the graves of Samuel D. McMahan, Littleton Fowler, and other early Methodist leaders in Texas adjoins McMahan Chapel.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 
Walter N. Vernon, "McMahan's Chapel: Landmark in Texas," Methodist History 9 (October 1970).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Walter N. Vernon, "MCMAHAN'S CHAPEL," accessed September 17, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ivm01.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...