Historic Graveyard Tour – Lewisville UMC
More History Lessons
The fifth of six stops on the 2009 Historic Graveyard Tour that was held on May 2, 2009 brought us to Lewisville United Methodist Church.
In 2003 Ruth Reynolds Hartle wrote a series of articles on the history of Lewisville United Methodist Church that appeared in the church’s monthly newsletters, leading up to its 125th anniversary celebration in October 2003. (Ruth’s sources for the articles were the church archives and the book, The History of Lewisville United Methodist Church 1878–1988, written by her brother, the late G. Galloway Reynolds.)
While reading Ruth’s articles (which can be found online at Our Methodist Heritage), it became clear to me why Ruth was the spokesperson for this stop on the graveyard tour. Ruth is not only a long-time member of Lewisville United Methodist Church and the sister of Lewisville’s foremost historian, G. Galloway Reynolds, but her writings reflect that she, like her brother, cherishes history and seeks out the lessons it can teach us.
For more HISTORY, PHOTOS and AUDIO, please continue to the NEXT SECTION.
Origins of a Church
In the 1740s, settlers — largely from Pennsylvania — began moving to western North Carolina, with many of them gravitating to the rich bottomland along the Yadkin River.
One new settlement that was approximately five miles east of the Yadkin River (in Forsyth County) would later become Lewisville. This settlement was located on the Great Wagon Road that originated in Philadelphia and extended southward through Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, where it eventually crossed the Yadkin River at the Shallow Ford. Travelers crossing the Yadkin River from either direction at the Shallow Ford had the opportunity to stop at the settlement’s local tavern for provisions or to stay overnight either at the tavern or the nearby campground.
According to oral history, sometime before the settlement was named Lewisville in the late 1850s, the Rev. Moses Hunt, a preacher who passed through the area, became burdened over “activities of unrighteous nature” going on at the settlement’s tavern and campground. One day Rev. Hunt knelt in prayer a short distance from those establishments and asked God for a church to be built on the ground on which he knelt — the future site of Lewisville United Methodist Church.
In 1878 Rev. Hunt’s prayer was answered when families from two Methodist churches (Brookstown and Sharon) moved to Lewisville to organize a new congregation. Men such as A. Eugene Conrad (considered the chief founder of the new church), Philip and George Mock, and Alexander Stimpson were from the Brookstown church. The Rev. Albert W. Craft, John T. Craft, and S. Winbourne came from the Sharon church.
With a core group of believers committed to a new Methodist church presence in Lewisville, all that was needed were land and building materials. As was discussed in a previous post on the Historic Graveyard Tour stop at Lewisville Baptist Church, Lewis Laugenour, the founder of Lewisville, donated the land on which Lewisville United Methodist Church would be built. With the church property secured, A. Eugene Conrad headed the efforts to construct the new church building, primarily through generous gifts of material and volunteer labor.
Hardship and Commitment
Ruth Reynolds Hartle’s church-history articles include photos of Lewisville United Methodist Church’s original 1881 building, as well as the church’s second building, which was completed in 1931 — two years after the collapse of the U.S. economy.
The economic hardships of the Great Depression affected cities large and small throughout the nation, including Lewisville. Yet despite a severely depressed economy — ironically similar to present-day concerns — the congregation remained true to the new building project to which they had committed in 1929, before the devastating stock-market crash. They resolutely set about raising construction money through innovation and sacrifice.
Amazingly, in spite of the hardships, 1931 is viewed by some as one of the congregation’s best years, a perspective Ruth could write about from personal experience:
In the more than one hundred years of Lewisville United Methodist Church history, 1931 was its finest year. Those of us who volunteered our labor and services during the spring, summer, and fall of the construction are now the older members of the congregation. We remember with deep satisfaction our part in the seemingly miraculous accomplishment. It was a high point in the congregation’s dedication and faith in God, with willingness to sacrifice to the end that a place of worship and Christian education might be provided for many years to come.
Nearly 60 years after those challenging Depression-era years, a second sanctuary was dedicated in 1989.
Having read Ruth Reynolds Hartle’s church-history articles, the photo of Ruth at the TOP of this post strikes me now as being more than an ordinary documentary photograph. It symbolizes a vigilant, reverential outlook:
Whether Ruth looks back through the pages of history or across the graveyard behind her beloved church, she sees more than mere historical facts and dates. Ruth sees the people who came before her, and she honors their lives and the visionary commitment they had to make a difference in their community.
Photo Gallery and Other Info
Check out the links below for the PHOTO GALLERY, the GOOGLE MAP and the 3-minute AUDIO RECORDING in which Ruth Reynolds Hartle gives some brief information on the Lewisville United Methodist Church graveyard.
Google Map: Lewisville United Methodist Church Map
Photo Gallery: Lewisville United Methodist Church Graveyard Photo Gallery
Audio: Historical Intro – Lewisville United Methodist Church Graveyard Recording (MP3, 3 MIN.)
Attributions: Much of the historical information in this post was directly obtained from Ruth Reynolds Hartle’s online article series, entitled Our Methodist Heritage, and from Shallow Ford Country, by G. Galloway Reynolds.
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