From Towns and Communities of Denton County, compiled by Emily Fowler and Alma Lain Chambers
Courtesy Emily Fowler Public Library

Chinn's Chapel

Reunion at Chinn's Chapel, May 12, 1933

Pioneer Woman to be honor guest at Meeting near Chinn‟s Chapel Sunday. (Newspaper account)

With the only living member of the Methodist class formed in 1872 present, Alvin G. Ousley of Denton, a past president of the Old Settlers' Association, will give the main address, Sunday, at Chinn's Chapel Cemetery. Mrs. Orlean Jarnigan, 87 years old, will be the guest of honor at the meeting, which will be held in the shadow of Chinn's Chapel Church, built 75 years ago.

Rev. J. R. Atchley, modern day circuit rider, who preached at the chapel 30 years ago, will be the minister for the occasion.

Mrs. Jarnigan, mother of W. L. Jarnigan of the Waketon Community, six miles west of Lewisville, came to Texas in 1970 and is one of the oldest settlers of Denton County.

The church situated within the cemetery grounds is one of the oldest in Denton County. It was built in 1858, after four of the leading pioneer women of the community suggested the idea. The location is 30 yards north of one of the famous springs of early days, the Lockhart Spring, from which many settlers hauled their water. The four women, Mrs. Mary Chinn, Mrs. Elizabeth Pinckley, Mrs. Jane Wakefield and Mrs. Abraham Loving set a day in 1858 to build the church. Neighbors were assigned to fell trees and hew certain logs so that when the time came for the “church-raising" everything was ready. The logs were hewn, from giant post oak trees and today are as solid and durable as when placed in position. The church was weather-boarded about 30 years ago but one can see and feel the great logs forming the framework of the building from inside. The fireplace was removed many years ago.

When the chapel was built, all denominations worshipped there although the Christians pre-dominated and called the church Antioch. When the Methodists organized in 1872, the name was changed to Chinn‟s Chapel. The building served also as a School and rooming house. It was the only schoolhouse for many years. It was also a haven for new arrivals who would live in the building for several weeks until a home was built. Henry A. Porter who came to Denton County in 1876, and has lived within a mile of the chapel since, says that he stayed in the chapel with his family for 2 weeks. They would move out on Sundays so services could be held.

A new building larger than the Chapel was erected in 1876, a little south and east of Lockhart Spring. Camp meetings were held in a grove of great oak trees near by.

The cemetery is one of the oldest in the county and contains the final resting place of the earthly remains of hundreds of pioneers. Both Elisha Chinn and his wife, Mary, are buried there. Chinn moved to Denton County in 1853 and died in 1876. His wife died in 1871. A faithful Negro slave was buried in a grave adjoining Chinn‟s on the west, the only person of his race who was interred in the cemetery. 14

The pioneer, S. B. Wakefield and his wife, Jane, were among the earliest buried there whose headstones are still legible. They were the parents of Frank Wakefield for whom the town of Waketown was named. Frank Wakefield died in Mineral Wells, Texas. Four of his children, Charles, Ray, Mrs. George Owens and Mrs. Dan Robison live at Ponder, Texas.

S. B. Wakefield died July 24, 1861 and his wife passed away June 23rd of the same year.