McENTEE Donates Catholic Church Land

An Irishman by the name of Patrick McEntee (1846-1921) then purchased the land in 1893. The Patrick McEntee family had been living in a community known as “Irish Ridge” near Forney, Texas before moving to the Rowlett area.

McEntee Donated Rowlett Catholic Church Land

McEntee Donated Rowlett Catholic Church Land

Mr. McEntee had grown increasingly aware that the religious needs of the Rowlett area Catholics were not being met and soon arranged for services to be held in his home. This continued for some time before he donated land for the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. He also donated land for the Sacred Heart Cemetery which was located south of town.

Patrick McEntee and a group of the community members then set out to erect a wood frame church building. All the work was performed by the membership with the exception of one skilled carpenter by the name of Wester Williams.

The thirteen stained glass windows were not installed immediately upon completion of the building as money was scarce in this small farming community. The windows came from Germany and all but two are inscribed with the name of the person that donated it.

The church building was completed in 1899 and officially dedicated on July 22, 1900 making it the second Catholic Church in Dallas County.

A priest by the name of Daniel R. Harrington would ride his horse from Dallas to the community of Rowlett to say Catholic mass once every month. The congregation at that time was comprised primarily of six families. These families were the McEntees, Burkards, Herberts, Conners, Sperlings and Fischers.

DONALD EUGENE SPERLING:The first time that I was ever inside this church was back in February of 1953 for my cousin, Don Sperling.  Don was born November 14, 1928. He was the son, and only child, of Frank and Nora Pelton (my grandmother’s sister) Sperling. Frank was born in the Dal Rock (now Rowlett) community and Nora was born in the Elm Grove community northeast of Rowlett, Texas.

Frank was of German descent. He met the former Miss Nora Pelton after World War I. Nora’s dad made it clear that he did not want her going out with a German man, but she continued to see Frank and they got married. Donald Eugene Sperling was their only son. He married Iva Omalee Monk and they had two children, Harold W. and Donald Sperling, Jr.

Don was a taxidermist and a cabinet maker in addition to being an experienced farmer. He attended school at Rowlett, but went to high school at Garland since Rowlett classes were only equipped to teach grades one thru eight.

Don had been plowing on the family farm when he decided to take a short cut to another field. He was following the tracks across the railroad trestle when he was struck by a Katy Railroad passenger train near the East Fork of Trinity River bottoms. He was only twenty-seven feet from getting off the bridge when he was struck.

Donald E. Sperling died February 7, 1953. He was buried at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Rowlett, Texas.

Don was my mother’s first cousin. He was a kind and giving person. I wasn’t around him much, but 70 years later, I still remember when a small child, we had lost our dad in an automobile accident. Members of the Liberty Grove Community had volunteered to build a small house for us. Don Sperling volunteered to build the kitchen cabinets. I was playing on the kitchen floor and would ask question every few minutes. He always took time to answer and would then return to finishing the cabinets. I will always remember Don Sperling as a kind and wonderful person.

Photo, courtesy writer.  Additional Rowlett history can be found here.