History of the Cottonwood Church dates back to 1866. The old record book of the church’s earliest history has ended up in the care of the Wylie Christian Church.
The following information was found in the 1866 record book, “State of Texas, County of Kaufman, (now Rockwall County) the undersigned met together on the fourth Lord’s day in July 1866 at a school house known as Skaggs School in afore said county and agreed to accept the Bible as the only Revelation God has given to man; and also to accept the last Will and Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ as the only rule of faith and practice; and do promise and covenant with each other that we will as The Church of Christ conform our lives to its teaching and that we will spurn and avoid all human creeds, parties and names in our practice as given by divine authority.”
The church selected officers as follows:
R. B. Skaggs and I. W. Lacy as Elders. L. J. Ballard and J. L. Wells as Deacons.
They were then set apart by prayer and the laying on of hands by presbyters D. C. Johnson and John King. Both R. B. Skaggs and J. L. Wells departed this life in the Fall of 1867 and it became necessary to fill their places. In September 1868 the Church met near Well’s Bridge and elected Samuel King, Elisha Sims (Cottonwood area) and Thomas J. McClain (Pleasant Valley) to serve as Elders and Michael Coyle (Rowlett area) to serve as Deacon. The Church proceeded to fasting and prayers with the imposition of hands by the presbyters to solemnly set apart the elected to the work for which they were chosen.
The Church of Christ, now known as the Cottonwood Church, met on the second Lord’s day in January 1876 for the purpose of more fully organizing as Michael Coyle was excluded and L. J. Ballard (Rockwall County) had neglected the assembling.
The church now had no Deacons. The members present selected James Russell (Wylie) and R. J. Harper (in-law of Russell) as Deacons and S. P. Brown (Pleasant Valley)as Elder to serve with the existing Elders.
It became necessary to reorganize in 1883 due to e removal of Samuel King and the deaths of Alfred Tucker and Peter Kuykendall who were Elders as well as the removal of R. J. Harper, Deacon. S. P. Brown asked to be excused from the Eldership.
At the reorganization, J. W. Thompson, H. A. Pridgen (Pleasant Valley), and William A. Bowman (Cottonwood) were selected to serve with Elisha Sims (Cottonwood) and T. J. McClain as Elders with W. J. “Tom” Brown (Pleasant Valley) and W. T. “Billy” Sims (Cottonwood) being appointed as Deacons. Tom Brown and Billy Sims would later serve with James Russell as Elders.
J. Ben Faulkner would serve as Minister from 1883 until 1887.
It was sometime around 1887 when Elder Brown and Deacon Brooks brought a piano into the worship service after a “singing school”. This caused the congregation to split and the minister, along with T. J. McClain and several other members and leaders moved to meeting at the home of James “Jimmy” Russell where they then formed the Wylie Christian Church.
The Cottonwood Church of Christ continued to meet in the old building located near Vinson and Whitely Road until a newer air-conditioned building was erected in 1958 at Elm Grove and Whitley Roads.
Early Cottonwood Church of Christ
Carl Foster, 90, grew up in the Elm Grove community of northeastern Dallas County and became a member of the Cottonwood Church of Christ in 1927. He says that the early record book for the Cottonwood Church indicates that the first meeting of the church was at Skaggs School in Kaufman County (now Rockwall Co.) on July 22, 1866.
The members then started meeting at Wells Bridge when weather permitted. Wells Bridge, which is now under Lake Hubbard, was a privately owned toll bridge across the East Fork of the Trinity River.
Carl said, “Grandma Forster told me that about ten families total would gather at the bridge on a regular basis. It would take about twenty mules to pull all the wagons and they needed a location with a lot of room as well as a place to water the horses and mules. Church was an all day affair back then. They would have an early morning service in those days and then there would be a big dinner (noon meal) right there at the bridge. The second service would start about 2:00 p.m. The river was just a few feet away and all the baptisms were held there in the river. Everyone would then hitch up their teams and head home so they could milk and tend to their stock before dark.”
“About half of the families lived on the Rockwall side of the river and about half lived on the Dallas County side.. She told me that they would come from all around. Some came from Rockwall. Some from Rowlett, Pleasant Valley, Elm Grove and even Wylie.”
Carl’s Grandmother was about seven years old when the early church started meeting at Wells Bridge in 1867. They continued to meet there until the members erected a building in the Cottonwood community of northeastern Dallas County in 1876. All the work was performed by the membership with hand operated tools since electricity hadn’t yet been invented.
This building was located on Vinson Road and served the congregation for 82 years. A newer air-conditioned building was erected on Elm Grove Road in 1958. A larger, more modern building, which is scheduled for completion in early August, will be located about fifty yards west of the current facility. This 13,000 square foot facility will give the congregation almost three times more room.
Mr. Foster stated that the church will be 137 years old when the new building is dedicated in August. He said, “This church has never been in any town. It’s always been a country church.”
(This congregation still meets as Cottonwood Church of Christ – 2633 Elm Grove Road, Wylie, Texas)