The town of McLean began about 1902 as a loading switch on the Rock Island Railroad line that extended through the RO Ranch owned by Englishman Alfred Rowe and his brothers. Rowe deeded land for
the new settlement, and was known to many of the residents of McLean. Sir Alfred was returning to check on his affairs in Texas booking passage on board the maiden voyage of the HMS Titanic.
Despite the boots and spurs community, there reportedly were no saloons and the sale of beer was legalized for a period of only six months.
Rev. George Fort helped organize the Methodist Church in McLean Oct. 13, 1902. About 31 members came that day and others joined these by the year’s end. Rev. Fort became the first pastor. He had come to visit his sister, pioneer “Ma” Hindman of the Hindman Hotel, a combination hotel, café, and store that opened in the first days of McLean and fed the railroad crews.
This Methodist church was the first denominational church organized in Gray County. The church received a Texas Historical Marker at special services Oct. 19, 1986.
The church building was completed in 1903 on land donated by Alfred Rowe. The small frame building with steeple was reported to cost $1,000. The story goes the women of the church had promised the children they could use the new building for a special program, but the building was not finished. The women laid timbers across nail kegs so the children could present the program.
The ladies Home Missionary Society was established in 1919, and since that time the women’s organizations have had a key role in the McLean Church.
The first church building was torn down and replaced with a two-story, stucco building in 1925. By using material from the previous building and volunteer labor, the building cost was kept to $3,000. In 1952 the current brick building was completed, expanding the square footage from 4,800 to 11,520.
In 1954 the bell tower and belfry were added through a gift from Mrs. J.L. Hess. The bell rope is pulled every Sunday to announce services.
In 1967 the current parsonage was built at Third and Walnut Streets. Also during that year the most tragic event in the history of the church occurred when five women were killed in a car accident while returning from a District Methodist Women’s meeting. Killed were Mesdames Leona Reeves Andrews, Bessie Sitter Hess, Carrie Evans Kirby, Cleta Womack Wyatt, (wife of the pastor Rev. Elton Wyatt), and Beulah Cleo Pope.
Thorough Sunday School records have been kept. One report on Dec. 18, 1910, by S. A. Cousins, Sr. stated that there were 14 officers and teachers present with one absent, and 87 scholars present with 16 absent. The collection was $1.28, and the weather was fair and cool. Cousins’ remarks mentioned 80 verses recited, 69 good lessons, 2 poor lessons, with 9 tardy, 2 new pupils, and 1 visitor.
Over the years, McLean church members put much emphasis on Sunday school attendance and choir practices. A Men’s Quartet sang for many funerals and civic activities.
From its humble beginnings on the sparsely-settled grassland of the Texas Panhandle, the McLean United Methodist Church has persevered through the depression, war and productive years, celebrating 100 years on Oct. 13, 2002.
McLean-Heald United Methodist
PO Box 125
219 N. Gray St.
McLean, TX 79057