|History from 1987-1998
written by Iona Pollock
|History of Prairie Hill Church of Christ
A Church of Christ that eventually became the Prairie Hill congregation was first organized in 1887, when
14 hardy souls banded together and met for worship in the Branch School that was located on the A.L.
Branch farm. It was located 1/2 mile south and 1 and 1/4 miles west of the current building, which is on
old 81 hi-way. Some of those who helped start that congregation were: Uncle Willie and Grandma
Hunter, Mr. & Mrs. W.L. Deaton, Mrs. Mary Wilkerson, Mrs. Pallie Wilkinson and U.G. Wilkerson. Bro. U.G.
Wilkerson and his wife would walk each Sunday, from Comanche, as he as one of men who did the
preaching. In 1906 Bro. Edd Maddox held a meeting with 37 being baptized. In 1907 the parents of
Fannie Jane McFarland McMasters Batey moved near the Branch school and began worshipping with this
group. Later, for few years, they met in the Prairie Hill school building which became Meridian in about
1927. In the spring of 1925 Bro. John Kinder gave one acre of land to the church, to construct a building
on. This was located a little north, and across the hi-way from the school site. While this construction was
going on, the men built a brush arbor under the old Oak tree that still stands against the south boundary
of the property. The members met there while the men built a 24 X 40-foot structure. Bro. John T.
Lauderdale of St. Jo, Texas was preaching for the group then. As soon as the construction was
completed, he held a two-week meeting, at which time several were baptized. Dovie and Sarah May
Willeford, Vivian, Laverne, Willie, Hazel and Della McFarland, Iona Pollock along with others, were
baptized in a stock pond on the George Schick property in the Empire Community. Total cost of the new
building was $644.75. With no electricity or natural gas available, they used a large wood and coal stove
for heat in the winter and cardboard fans in the summer. The windows had no screens and flies were bad
until Shorty Bogart donated $25.00 to buy screens for the windows. Bro W.J. McFarland paid for a water
well to be drilled on the property. Not being able to support a preacher to reside there, for 13 years
different preachers came and went. Earl Smith of Murray, KY was the first full-time preacher hired for
$10.00 per week, plus his room board in the home of W.J. McFarland. That was in 1938 and the same
year a room dwelling was built just north of the church building, for the preacher's home. During the early
years the women sold sandwiches and baked items at farm sales in the area and used the money to help
purchase the first benches or pews for this building.
Almost each summer, a two-week meeting was held with the baptizing taking place in the Branch tank,
many times at night by the light of cars. The visiting preacher always stayed with a member. With very
little money in circulation, the visiting preachers were sometimes paid with vegetables, egg, fruit, chickens
and maybe cured meat or good sorghum molasses. Most of the summer meetings were held outside amid
the bug problem from the lights, but those were the greatest times of all, with a lot of baptism as results
At one time there was a small house in the back area where a widow lady lived with her own children and
also kept several orphan nieces and nephews.
In 1948 two classrooms were added and in 1950 two others were added, along with an additional room
and modern bath onto the preachers home. In April 1957 construction was started on the present
building On May 4 1958, Haskel T. England held the first service in the new church. Don Hicks was the
local minister at the time. In 1962 the old parsonage was sold, moved away and a new brick home was
built for the preachers home. The old church building would seat 100 and the current one seats 300. It
also consists of a library, 10 classrooms, and a ministers study, press room, nursery, 3 restrooms, a
teachers workroom, a teachers workroom, pantry, kitchen and fellowship room.
Prairie Hill has sponsored a number of children from the tipton Children's Home. For several years they
kept two children for two weeks each summer, which was their vacation time. Their home mother would
send a list of clothing needed for that child for the following school year. The church ladies sewed many
of the girls garments but the boy's items were always purchased. Some of the Tipton children were: J.W.
Owings, Virgil Lee, Auther Chandler, Barbara Beggs, Roxie Garrett, Randy Blackwell, Hershel Pollock,
Lettie Soto, Layla Shenwary, Jennifer Dockery, and Pat Tolan.
In September 1974, Prairie Hill organized a school of Bible and Preaching under the oversight of the
elders. Jerry Hurst was the minister then the director of the school. Ministers from different
congregations volunteered their time to come and teach many Bible courses, with good attendance from a
number of other places. It was held each Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. from September through
May. In 1976 The Duncan Westside congregation took the oversight of the school and it was moved
there. Mario and Marilyn Pineda came each Saturday from Oklahoma City during the 3 years of school
and both graduated with Marilyn being the first lady to graduate from the Bible school. The Prairie Hill
elders hired Mario to work with the local congregation and on June 12,1979, they moved their little family
into the preachers home. At this writing, 1998, they are still working in this capacity.
In 1981 a different roof was put on the church building. The men of the congregation did most of the
construction work on both the church buildings and the preacher's home.
This congregation contributes regularly to nine different projects For a number of years, the Ladies Class
has supplied the Meridian Nursing Home with Bibles, Lap Quilts, Pot Holders, Neck Pillows, and Bed
Jackets. They have made several quilts and given where they are needed. A pantry is stocked to help
supply the Tipton Home and Westview Boys Home. Along with giving to needy people from time to time.
Five local men grew to manhood in this congregation, later becoming gospel preachers. They are Elmer
Willeford, Royce Blackburn and Vernon Williams, all now deceased, Auther C, Jones, now 80 years of
age, who lives in Newkirk, Okla, Larry Jackson from Duncan, who preaches at the Terral, Okla.
Congregation. [Buddy Aldridge who grew up at Prairie Hill is now a gospel preacher and lives in Kansas.
Barry Haynes has become the latest to begin preaching. He serves as Youth Minister in Dallas]
Iona Pollock, [History updated 1998]