A History of the Ector, Texas Methodist Church
Ector, a small community six miles east of Bonham, in Fannin County, first became a recognized settlement around 1874, shortly after the Texas and Pacific Railway was laid through the site. Although many Fannin County pioneer families had settled in the area as early as the 1840's it took the impetus of the railroad construction to pull together the diverse elements into a recognized town.
The original name given to the settlement was Victor or Victor's Station, but when application was made for a post office it was discovered that a community by that name already existed in Texas. At the suggestion of Hick Owens, an early resident, the town was named after his infant son Ector Owens. Although the Owens family was responsible for the name of the town, they assumed no other importance in the development of the village and in fact must have left the area soon after the town was established. No further record of the Owens family is available nor is it known what happened to the family.
At first the town was slow to grow and develop, but by the mid 1880's several general stores, a drug store, mill, post office, cotton gin, and lodge halls of the Woodmen of the World and the Masonic Order were in evidence. In 1894 The Bonham News reported that the Constantine Lodge #13 A.F. and A. M. of Bonham laid a corner stone for Ector College. This school had its roots in the old Ravenna College established by F. M. Gibson at Ravenna, Texas some ten miles north of Ector. Unable to make a success of his school at Ravenna, Gibson decided that a more to Ector would be more advantageous because of the availability of railroad transportation at Ector. By 1895 the school became widely known and dormitories had to be built to house the number of boarding students who arrived to enroll in the college. The school was named the Ector Normal and Trading School and by the beginning of the 1895-96 term had an enrollment of 252 students, many of them from Indian Territory just across Red River. By 1900 enrollment began a slow decline and finally ceased operations around 1912.
For about the first ten years of Ector's existence, no organized church was established in the town. Residents continued to attend services at several small rural churches in the vicinity or to make the six mile trip into Bonham on Sunday morning. By 1885 the District Conference of the Methodist Church had established the Ravenna Circuit and constructed a parsonage for the circuit minister in Ector. Ravenna residents were unhappy that Ector was chosen as the site of the parsonage but the reasoning given by the Presiding Elder of the Conference was that Ectors' site on the railroad made it more advantageous for the circuit. The Reverend R. R. Nelson was appointed the first minister of the Ravenna Circuit.
Methodists in the Ector area had had Sunday preachings in the Little Caney schoolhouse located west of town on the Ector-Savoy road. Reverend nelson was assigned to presach there one Sunday a month and a Sunday School was conducted each Sunday afternoon. Nelson was also responsible to services as Ravenna, Edhube, Cottage Bend, and Allen's Chapel.
In the autumn of 1887, under the leadership of Reverend Nelson, the members of the Caney Creek group began to talk of a church building to be erected in Ector. John Davis and his wife Amarintha sold to the church group, for a token sum of $50, a one acre tract of land in the northern part of the town. The trust, deeded in trust to representatives of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, John Davis, W. H. Coursey, and E. H. Benton, was "to be used, kept, maintained, and disposed of, as a place of worship for the use of the ministry and membership of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South; subject to the discipline, usage, and ministerial appointments of said church." One additional proviso spelled out in the deed was no intoxicating liquors should ever be sold on the land and if sold, the deed was to be declared null and void. The Temperance Movements was very strong in Fannin County at that time and many of the deed records in the county clerk's office reflect similar statements.
The property deeded by Mr. and Mrs. Davis was long to the north and south and because of its configuration it was decided to construct the church building on the north end. Construction began in 1888 under the sponsorship of John Davis, W. G. Coursey, W. R. Luton, Will Blair, Jonathan Mitchell, Draper Luton, Lee Love, W. R. Carr, Dr. R. R. Phillips, and Joe Luton. Some of these men made special trips to Avenger, Texas to secure the beset lumber available for the construction.
The building, of clapboard construction, was slightly rectangular with a steep pitched centered roof. A shallow project at the front of the building was surmounted by a steeply pitched gable. Twin steeples were on each side of the gable section. In the center of each wall were set triple Gothic arched windows with the center window being somewhat taller than those on the sides. The windows were of marbleized glass with solid color stained glass at the top of each arch. Two single windows of the same style were balanced on each side of the central panels. In the gables and on three sides of each of the steeples were small rectangular windows of the marbleized glass bordered by small panes of stained glass of varying hues.
The building was dedicated on September 23, 1888. In 1895 some interior remodeling was completed and the structure stood unchanged until 1960 when it was razed. On September 1st of that same year construction was started on an educational building. Bishop William C. Martin preached the dedication service of February 2, 1963 and the building was free of debt in November, 1963.
The formal union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and the Evangelical United Brethern Church was formalized at Dallas on April 23, 1968 and the church was officially re-designated as the Ector United Methodist Church.
The present sanctuary was started in May, 1976 and completed in August. District Superintendent Kerby Edwards preached the Consecration Service of September 22, 1976. To build the sanctuary it became necessary to incur indebtedness of $20,000 which was completely liquidated by the end of the year.
For nearly 100 years the Ector Methodist Church has served the needs of a small rural community as the oldest of three church in the town. Although a vital part of the fabric of life in Ector, the church can lay no claims to greatness either through the deeds or accomplishments of its members or clergy but instead it continues to serve as a reminder that its influence has touched the lives of generations of people who sprang from the brave pioneers who first settled western Fannin Coutny in times of strife and deprivation.
Since its founding, the Ector Methodist Church has been served by fifty-four ministers. Of these, five were students supplied by Perkins Theological Seminary at S.M.U. in the late 940's and early 1950's.
The community of Ector was established in 1874 on the route of the Texas & Pacific Railroad. The Ravenna Circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was created in 1885, and the Ector congregation, which met in a nearby school, was served by the Rev. R. R. Nelson. A frame church with twin steeples was built in 1888. It was razed in 1960, and an education building was erected in 1963. The congregation was renamed Ector united Methodist Church kn 1968, and a new sanctuary was built in 1976. This church has served its community for over one hundred years.
Location: 400 Church Street, Ector