Church services in the old Liberty community were held at the “Union Church” during the early pioneer days of Rowlett. This church building was located near present day Raney and Yeager Roads on land that is now part of the Waterford Housing Development.
The so called union churches were common during the early pioneer era for several reasons. The primary reason was that the various denominations were small and unable to afford a full time evangelist. A single building could be constructed and then be used by several denominations.
There were at least two union churches in the Rowlett area during the early days. One such group was even known as the arbor church located at Pleasant Valley. S. E. Swim recalled the details of establishing one such church in his letter of 1914.
The following is taken from S. E. Swim’s letter written at Tolbert, Texas in February of 1914: “Not finding any land to rent nor house to live in, I made me a cabin in August, 1870, the month and year in which John Kirby, the first old settler died. I went after a load of lumber (Jefferson, Texas) and was gone 18 days and got back with 1200 feet of lumber. I soon got some nice lumber of different widths to make coffins. I made most all of the coffins for the surrounding neighbors for years, and if a minister could not be secured, I did the best I could for the people in caring for the dead. The first church in that community was a union one. Five of us brethren borrowed money from old man John Anderson on Rowlett Creek to buy the lumber and hauled it from eastern mills on ox wagons, paying 15 percent in gold for the use of the money. We hauled oak logs to a mill on Rowlett Creek for the framing timbers and made two foot boards to cover the building. Doors and window sashes were also made by hand. It took all the help we could get to build a church then, whereas one man could do it now. In this union church a Sunday was set apart for each denomination to have its preaching service. Most of the men that were there then are dead now or have moved away, H. R. Newman being the only one left. Uncle Joe Wood died at age 85, A. S. Doss at 83 and Mike Coyle, E. Bolton and lots of others have passed out of this life. After a time my health broke down, I was not able to work and had to stay in. So, I sold out and moved west. Am out now where I can get fresh air – not the secondhand stuff. We never had to go hungry and have always had enough clothes to make out with, even if it is necessary to go to bed while the one shirt is being washed and dried, and in so doing get a good rest.”
Source, Garland Newspaper and personal records. Note: The photo belonged to my great grandmother, Carah Poovey Pelton. Other Rowlett church information can be found here.