The 1847 parsonage of the Cedar Bayou Methodist church as it appeared in 1935. Drawn for Amelia Williams’ book, Following General Sam Houston.

Jigsaw puzzles have become the go-to family activity in the Chandler household for many years. This past Christmas our son David brought a Ravensburger Escape jigsaw puzzle in which the assembled pieces didn’t exactly match the picture on the box. That made me think about Baytown history where similar things are in play. Sometimes historical research just doesn’t agree with the narrative. A good example is a story about Cedar Bayou Methodist Church hosting a Fourth of July barbecue back in 1844 where the church is located today. The History of Cedar Bayou United Methodist Church tells us that “Sam Houston and his guest, Andrew Jackson Donelson, who a few months later became the United States minister to the Texas Republic, were there; Mirabeau B. Lamar was there, as well as other celebrities of the new nation.” This was shortly before Texas became the 28th state in December 1845.

I am not a member of this church but have been suspicious of this story with Sam Houston et al at the Cedar Bayou church ever since I found the 1847 deed in which John R. Rhea sold ten acres at $4 per acre to the church trustees, meaning there was no church there which could have been the site of a barbecue in 1845. The barbecue story is based on a 1935 book by Amelia Williams entitled Following General Sam Houston: From 1793 to 1863 in which an entire chapter is devoted to a Fourth of July barbecue at the Cedar Bayou church. At first I thought the event happened at Midway landing near today’s ExxonMobil docks where Robert Alexander had built the first church as early as 1841. But in her chapter Amelia referenced another book entitled Sixty years on the Brazos; the life and letters of Dr. John Washington Lockhart, 1824-1900. That book published five years earlier was based on the personal letters of John Washington Lockhart of Chappell Hill and placed the event at Cedar Creek, not Cedar Bayou and the likely location was Washington County. 

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You can read the chapter from "Sixty Years on the Brazos" here

You can download Sam Houston's letter here. Look on page 206.

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