Oldest Church Building in Rusk County Needs Repairs | Local News
The oldest existing church building in Rusk County is in desperate need of repairs and your help is needed to complete these repairs.
“Pine Grove Church in Pine Grove, near Pine Hill, is the oldest church building in Rusk County and is registered as a Texas Historic Landmark,” said Robert Vaughn, vice president of East Texas. Sacred Harp Convention.
According to Vaughn and Joan Smith, chairman of the Rusk County Historical Commission, the building has suffered in recent years from time and nature, requiring tender and loving care. The elements and the weather have not been favorable to the old structure, which is in dire need of repairs. Lack of funds has hampered work beyond the most needed attention. Windows and shutters, eaves, doors and flooring all need to be repaired.
A GoFundMe fundraiser has been created to help fund the preservation of this historic treasure. Donations can be made through GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/pine-grove-church-restoration or donations (designated for “church restoration”) can be mailed to: Pine Grove Cemetery Melinda Rice Association, 11334 CR 3112D, Mount Enterprise, TX 75681.
Historical records show that the church building was constructed in 1870, but the congregation was not established until around 1850. In 1854, three Patrick brothers drove a wagon train of Scots-Irish Presbyterians from Cumberland, Texas from Bethel, South Carolina, and established Patrick’s Colony to the southeast. of Pinewood. The Patricks and several families traveling with them stopped to rest at the church site here in Rusk County. The church community and the Pine Woods area were so attractive that they decided to stay here instead of moving further west as they had originally planned.
In December 1854, Archibald Watkins, minister of the Pine Grove Church and first Rusk County Chief Justice, sold John TC Patrick 335 acres on the Shreveport-Douglass road. These families founded another church in 1880, on three acres of land donated for a church and school, originally called Pleasant Springs.
The predominantly African-American Pine Grove Cumberland Presbyterian Church is presumably a daughter congregation, as are other nearby Cumberland Presbyterian churches.
The building is used annually for the Pine Grove Cemetery Homecoming and the Rusk County Singing Convention, both held annually on the fourth weekend in April (except when Easter falls on that weekend). Pine Grove Church has a long-standing connection to Sacred Harp singing. The Sacred Harp songbook was even used in their church services and provided the music (a cappella) for singing in conjunction with coming home on cemetery day.
Outside, in front of the building, is the historical marker for Pine Grove Church dated 1966 which reads: “Pine Grove Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized circa 1850, with the Reverend Archibald Watkins (d. 1880) playing a defining role in his early years. The fraternity first met in a small log cabin near Martin’s Creek. This building was constructed around 1870 and was used for worship services until the congregation disbanded in 1906. It is now part of Pine Grove’s heritage and is the scene of an annual homecoming.
The cemetery has a Texas State Historic Marker for Richard Brown (1808 – 1893), a soldier of the Mier Expedition who escaped the firing squad by drawing a white bean. Brown helped found Pine Grove Church and the Sharon Masonic Lodge.