History of Earle’s Chapel Congregation


In 1859, a small log building was erected on this site to serve as a schoolroom, a worship center, and a community meeting place for the Earle’s Chapel Community.  However, it was not July 27, 1875, that the church formally became a part of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.  The original class roll contains the names of twenty-five members of the first Earle’s Chapel Society, under the guidance of E. P. Rogers, P.C., (Preacher in Charge), a ministerial member of the East Texas Conference.

After its organization, membership continued to grow, and in 1889 a decision was made that a new, larger church building was needed.  Charles F. Smith was the pastor at the time that members Jeff Skelton and Bob Tatum constructed the church building that still serves the Earle’s Chapel United Methodist Church today.  Membership continued to grow to more than 100 members shortly after the turn of the century and remained at that level until around the time of World War I.  Membership then gradually declined until today, only a few families, mostly fifth and sixth generation descendants of the early pioneer families, remain. 

During most of its history, the Earle’s Chapel Church has been served by a circuit preacher, responsible for several fo the small churches in an area.  The pastor was often a ministerial student at Lon Morris College in nearby Jacksonville who combined his pastoral obligations with his study for the ministry.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s, “student pastors” tended to be trainees from Perkins Theological Seminary at Southern Methodist University.  The circuit format has generally meant that formal church services were not held each Sunday.  One or more Sundays each month were designated as “Preaching Sunday”, a time when the circuit preacher would hold a regular church service, often morning and evening.  He would have Sunday dinner with one of the congregational families and visit in the community in the afternoon.  On other Sundays, the congregation, in a manner very close to the early Wesleyan traditions in America, met for Sunday School which included an opening worship service of hymn singing, scripture reading and prayer before the classes were dismissed to their teaching sessions.


  1. Elijah Earle
  2. Mary E. Earle
  3. Thos. J. Skelton
  4. Mary E. Skelton
  5. Eliza A. Mock
  6. C. B. Dyer
  7. Nute Henderson
  8. Emily V. Ragsdale
  9. Isaac Reynolds
  10. Nancy P. Reynolds
  11. Nanie A. Reynolds
  12. Isabelle Skelton
  13. Jas. R. Skelton
  14. Mariah E. Atkinson
  15. Mary Coker
  16. Mary F. Coker
  17. Rebecca L. Thompson
  18. Pauline Williams
  19. Julia Chandler
  20. Margret C. Earle
  21. Nancy J. Earle
  22. Mary E. Earle
  23. Hunter Latimore
  24. Nelley C. Latimore
  25. J. L. Cottrell