The ladies at the bank found this recently when they were going through stuff in the safety deposit vault. It’s the deed given to the Alex Methodist Church in 1908 for the purchase of at least part of the property at their current location.
The land was sold to the church by EJ Kelly, the Washita Valley townsite company man known to have sold lots in Alex from around 1905 through 1909. We always believed Kelly was the first and only townsite man to operate in Alex but we found recently that another townsite company did business here before him.
At the top of the deed, the grantee is noted as the “First M.E. Church So.” This means the First Methodist Episcopal Church South. I am told this is an important point in the history of the church swhen it began operating in the Alex area before 1900.
The designation of the church as M.E. South is also interesting. As the Civil War loomed, Methodists developed bitter divisions about the opinion of the church regarding slave ownership. After much unresolved debate, the church split into two factions. The abolitionist division that generally located in states remaining in the Union was labeled M.E. North while the slavery supporting faction generally located in Confederate states was designated as M.E. South.
Although Oklahoma was not yet a state during the Civil War, most of the civilized tribes allied with the southern cause, probably because some Indians came to the territory with their slaves. Since many of the white settlers in Indian Territory migrated to the area from the American South, many of them were Confederate sympathizers as well.
Despite this, it may surprise you how many Yankees there were around. Frank Murray of Erin Springs was a Union man and every member of my own Godwin family of an age during the War also fought for the North. While Murray was an Irish Catholic, my own family were Methodists of the northern kind