A History of the Deer Creek, Oklahoma
United Methodist Church

Compiled June, 1990 by Kenneth L. Webster

Opening of Cherokee Strip

Beginning in 1885, the question of the proposed opening of Indian Territory for white settlement occupied a great deal of time and attention in the National Congress. During the winter of 1888-89 a very determined effort was made to secure the passage through Congress of the Oklahoma Bill and on April 22, 1889, the first opening of Indian Lands was conducted in the central part of what is today the state of Oklahoma.

Four and one-half years later on September 16, 1893, a portion of land in Indian Territory, known as the Cherokee Outlet (or Cherokee Strip), and located in what is today north central Oklahoma, was thrown open for settlement. On that day, pioneer settlers raced their horses, buggies, wagons, and ran on foot to claim quarter-section parcels which were theirs if they were successful in staking a claim.

The opening of the Cherokee Outlet, the sixth such land opening of Indian Territory lands, added seven new counties to Oklahoma Territory. These counties were designated by letter as counties "K," "L," "M," "N," "O," "P" and "Q " (Later, these were named Kay, Grant, Woods, Woodward, Garfield, Noble, and Pawnee.) After claiming new property in the race, these new landowners were required to take up residence within six months (by March 1894).

Webster Chapel

E. F. (Elijah Franklin) Webster, one of these settlers who had been living near Caldwell, Kansas, staked his quarter-section claim approximately 3 miles south and 2 miles west of the current town of Deer Creek. He and Rev. Charles Newton Bottorff, a Methodist minister, who staked a claim a few miles north at NW 20, Twp 27, R3, along with several of their neighbors, established the first Methodist church in Grant County ... and possibly the first Methodist church in the Cherokee Strip. Their mailing address at that time was Orie, Indian Territory.
Orie was a general store and post office located three miles west of what is today Deer Creek, Oklahoma.

The Webster Chapel Sod Church.
Left to right: Mr. A. F. Knepley, Selena (Webster) Beaumont, Ethel (Knepley) Cardwell, Elizabeth (Webster) Lyon, Mrs. A. F. Knepley, Janie (Webster) Teter, Mary Elizabeth (Ridings) Webster, Mable (Knepley) Smith, Elijah Franklin Webster.

In 1932, at 90 years of age, Mr. Webster wrote of that experience: "In a short time after moving, I saw a good many of my neighbors. Of course, all were strangers. All I saw were Christians and wanted a Sunday School and church organized.

"My nearest neighbor was a Lutheran. Another a Presbyterian. All were anxious to have a church. They said they knew a Methodist preacher on a claim three miles north who was a fine man. They said they would go with me to see if he would come and preach and organize a Sunday School and church.

"Brother Bottorff said he was glad for an opportunity to preach if a place could be found in which to hold services. I told him that we had two sixteen foot rooms. He said he would be there the next Sunday and we were to notify all we could. A good crowd was present and we had a fine sermon. He said he would be back the next Sunday to organize a Sunday School and church.

"After organizing, the question of a name for the church was discussed. Some suggested 'Union.' The Presbyterian members suggested since there were more Methodist that it be called a Methodist Sunday School. It was unanimously voted a 'Methodist Sunday School' with a Presbyterian superintendent. There were five denominations in our Sunday School, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, Christian, and Methodist. We offered our home for the services. It was voted to have them there. Meetings were held at our house for two years. The quarterly conference was held there. When the first quarterly conference was announced the church said they would have a big church dinner so they would get to see the Elder and get to hear him preach. We had a fine dinner.

"The conference was then called the 'Guthrie District.' When the Elder came he was in a fine carriage, the Bishop had furnished him with a span of fine horses, he called one of them 'John Wesley,' the other, 'Charles Wesley.'

"The carriage was made with an organ on it. He brought two fine singers along with him. They would put the top of the carriage down and stand in the carriage to sing. Brother Dellaplane preached a wonderful sermon standing in the carriage. They went to Medford from there.

"Brother Bottorff was a wonderful man. He started organizing Sunday Schools different places. He organized one at the Hurley School House, the next was at Satchel Valley, also one at Osborne. Later he organized one at Lamont. At that time, Lamont had a little store and a schoolhouse. This made him quite a circuit. He only preached at each place every two weeks.

"The next time Presiding Elder Dellaplane visited the community, the quarterly conference was held at Hurley. The Elder insisted that the circuit organized by Rev. Bottorff must have a name so he christened it 'Webster Circuit.'

"During this time we built the sod church which was named 'Webster Chapel.' We then had a fine place to worship.

Webster Chapel, Sod Church, Grant County, Oklahoma, about 1898

The entire neighborhood helped build this church. We worshiped in this sod church for several years."

The new wooden Webster Chapel building was constructed in 1900.

Webster Chapel, about 1900

Deer Creek is Established

In the summer of 1897, this young Oklahoma community was blessed with a big wheat crop. The country was on the boom and rumors began to surface about a branch line railroad being built through this area of the Cherokee Strip. A railroad would connect the towns of Blackwell and Medford.

By August 1897, the Gulf Railway Company had successfully purchased the necessary "50-feet" rights-of-way off each quarter-section to make the railroad a reality. Railroad construction was begun with zeal.

With the completion of that railroad came the need for passenger and freight depots as well as water stops for the train. Towns had to be born!

On February 28, 1898, W. A. Bradford, Jr. of Boston, Massachusetts, President of the Gulf Railway Company, signed an agreement with Arnold Kilcher to purchase the quarter section of land he had claimed in the "Race" for the purpose of establishing a new town ... Deer Creek, Oklahoma Territory!

Within a week, Mr. Bradford had arranged for the surveying of the proposed town of Deer Creek and filed a town plat map. By March 9th, 1898 eighteen lots of his new town had been sold to 9 different businesses. Within 30 days, wooden buildings were constructed for the beginning of what is today Deer Creek's main street.

Deer Creek Methodist Episcopal Church Organized

Shortly after the establishment of the town of Deer Creek, Rev. C. N. Bottorff, yielding to his true missionary nature, expanded his Webster Chapel Circuit preaching responsibilities to include the new town. He began, in 1898, by organizing a Sunday School in a hall above the drug store. This was soon followed by the organization of a class of members, which became the Methodist Episcopal Church at Deer Creek.

When the Oklahoma Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church met in 1899, Rev. A. L. Snyder was assigned to replace Rev. Bottorff as pastor to Webster Circuit (including Deer Creek.)

Bottorff family records indicate that Charles Newton Bottorff, a farmer and a Methodist minister for over 50 years, was born May 26,1850 in Illinois. He married Maria Teresa Faubion on July 4, 1869 in Jasper County Illinois and died near Solomon Kansas on his farm on January 6, 1923. His wife died on December 8, 1932 in Medford, Oklahoma at her daughter Myrta's home.

Rev. Bottorff's granddaughter, Elsie Mae (Lawless) Culbreath, later wrote:

"Grandpa Bottorff was a restless soul. He would improve a farm and then sell it for a profit, consequently they lived in several different places. They went from Deer Creek to Harper County, to Chase County, then to Brookville, and lastly to Solomon. These last (four) in Kansas.

"Occasionally we would make a trip to visit them -- usually in the summer for a week, as I remember. Just Mamma and us children went, for Papa stayed home to look after the farm chores. We went by train, and Grandpa would meet us in the spring wagon.

"This was a big adventure, for they had so many things we didn't have. I think it was at the Chase County place that they had goats, bees, guineas, and a peacock, and a creek, and a spring with cold, cold water. And they had an upstairs!

"It was at their house I first tasted Post Toasties, or something similar. And Grandma made such delicious ice cream. One time I was eating one dish of ice cream after another, and Grandma said, "That child will be sick!" Grandpa just laughed. Sure enough it wasn't long till I did get sick, and no one seemed to have any sympathy for me. Grandpa just laughed again!

"Grandma kept the parlor darkened. The organ and her best chairs were in there, and this was off limits for us children, unless an adult was with us. The room had a fragrance hard to describe, but I called it the "organ smell"-- something like the odor of a new book. There were always apples drying on the porch roof, and we enjoyed crawling through the upstairs window and out on the roof--I don't remember what for, but it was fun."

Grant County records indicate that Charles N. and M. Teresa Bottorff sold their Oklahoma property...NW20, Twn 27,R3...to Christ H. Baer in 1902.

Since Rev. Bottorff had lived on his own farm, there had been no need for a parsonage for the Webster Circuit minister until a new minister was assigned to that charge. To provide a residence for Rev. Snyder, the congregations rented a farmhouse near Deer Creek where he lived until a parsonage could be built.

Very soon they were able to build a new two-room parsonage which was located just east of the present Deer Creek church building. That parsonage served well, with additions and alterations, until it was replaced with the purchase of an improved parsonage: in late 1941.

During his tenure, with the co-operation of members of the church, Sunday School workers and interested friends, Rev. Snyder led in the construction of the first church building for this new Deer Creek church. That original church building, built without a basement, comprises a major part of the current church sanctuary ...the portion which is east of the church's bell tower and main entrance.

The portion of the building at the west end of the sanctuary which' contains a slightly slopped floor was added when Rev. King was the pastor (1915-1919) and at the same time the basement was added antler the structure.

That original church building served not only as a place of worship but it was also used for the first public school conducted in the town of Deer Creek, Indian Territory. Mrs. Brewington was the teacher. Rev. Snyder was a sincere and faithful pastor and served the church for two years.

It was during the tenure of Rev. Snyder that the Elder (District Superintendent) changed the name of the circuit from "Webster Circuit" to "Deer Creek Circuit."

It was also during the time that Rev. Snyder served the circuit that the new wooden Webster Chapel church building was constructed at the site of the sod church four miles southwest of Deer Creek.

"In the early 1900's, the membership of the churches on the circuit was on the increase and the work of the church was going forward as well as could be expected. However, it was said that the women carried on the work of the church in Deer Creek, soliciting for the minister's salary and giving donations to the minister and his family."


In 1901 Rev. J. T. Cummings was assigned to Deer Creek as pastor. During his ministry the Mt. Carmel Methodist Episcopal Church was added to the Deer Creek Circuit, but did not continue a part of the circuit after he left. He stayed one year and was succeeded in 1902 by Rev. Mr. Wiles.

Rev. Wiles served only six weeks when he was strikers with pneumonia and died. He was buried in Bayard Cemetery. His wife and children returned to her folks in Ohio. Rev. W. Y. Torbit filled out the remainder of the conference year.

In 1903, Rev. J. A. Webb was sent as pastor; he served for two years.

In 1905, Rev. A. O. McVey, was appointed pastor and also served the circuit for two years.

Rev. D. W. Keller was appointed at the 1907 conference and in 1909, Rev. F. S. Barber was transferred to the Deer Creek circuit.

During the pastorates of these ministers, who were good men, the church continued to grow in numbers and spiritual strength. They were faithful in carrying out the program of the church.

Through the efforts and leadership of Mrs. Barber (1909), the Ladies Aid Society was organized. She was also commended for the good work which she did with the Junior League.

During this time, Satchel Valley was removed from the Deer Creek Circuit and the Methodist church at Numa was organized.

Very good work was also being done with the Junior League, not only by those of the church, but many children of other churches would come on Sunday afternoons. As a result, the parents began to realize the benefit of this training.


In 1910, a Rev. Mr. McCain, from the east came as pastor. One account records, "He preached one sermon and left the Deer Creek charge." Another wrote, he became dissatisfied with this section of the country and after a few weeks he and his wife went back... preferring city life to that of the country. Ray Ross, a student pastor from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas supplied the charge the rest of the year.

Rev. Burdick (also spelled Burdich in other records) was assigned to Deer Creek for the 1911 conference year. The Conference of 1912 sent Rev. W. H. Chamberlin to be pastor of the Deer Creek Circuit. He was reassigned to Deer Creek in 1913.
Olga Eberle Sells gives an interesting account of how her family became early day members of the Deer Creek Methodist church:

"Papa was a charter member of the 'German-speaking' Deer Creek Mennonite Church. Mama had been reared in a Scotch-Irish family of staunch Christian Church members who believed in baptism by immersion and in weekly Holy Communion. Since she did not speak or understand German, she could not fully appreciate and could not enjoy the Mennonite services.

"Even though there were strong ties with both of their original churches, as their family began to grow in size, my parents realized the importance of a united family relationship with the church. Since Mama didn't speak German and Papa didn't believe it necessary to have communion served weekly or be baptized by immersion, they accepted a compromise and began to study the possibility of becoming members of the Methodist Episcopal Church -- the other church in Deer Creek.

"After an extended study of the Methodist doctrines and beliefs during the pastorate of Reverend Burdick, it was decided that the C. F. Eberle family would become Deer Creek Methodists.

"We (Chris and Floyd Eberle and Olga) joined the Deer Creek Methodist Episcopal Church on the first Sunday after the Oklahoma Annual Conference meeting in the fall of 1912, Reverend W. II. Chamberlin, who had just been assigned to the Deer Creek Charge, was our minister.

"Shortly after we joined the church, Lois and Norman (Van Valkenburgh), Emil Martin and I were all baptized by Rev. Chamberlin up in the Copisch pond north and west of the Deer Creek school. "The Van's were converted Baptists and had joined the Deer Creek Methodist Church just a little before our family did. They had been active in the Deer Creek Church for years, but hadn't yet placed their membership. There was no Baptist Church, so they also became Methodist."

It was during the two-year pastorate of Rev. & Mrs. Chamberlin that a big union meeting was held at the Christian Church with all three churches in Deer Creek participating... the Christian Church, the Mennonite Church, and the Methodist Church. The evangelist was a minister named Miller. Ella Lichti was the pianist. These meetings were very productive and the community was deeply stirred. As a result, the church had a good increase in membership.

The Men's Forward Movement, an inter-denominational group of more than a dozen men which included several Methodist, was organized under the leadership of C. F. Eberle. The group visited various churches holding religious services.

During this time, the Methodist's weekly prayer meetings were well attended, the Home Department of the Sunday School was carried on extensively, and the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society was organized at this time.

Rev. W. M. Foster served as pastor during the year 1914. Following the 1915 Annual Conference, Rev. W. D. King moved to Deer Creek.

During Rev. King's ministry, the church grew; camp meetings were held during the summer months with large crowds attending. A Woman's Home Missionary Society was organized which did outstanding work. Some of the members were called to preach, others consecrated their lives to the deaconness work and the mission field.


At the Annual Conference in the fall of 1919, Rev. H. M. James was assigned to the Deer Creek Circuit charge and the church enjoyed another five years of good work. The interest in camp meetings, Junior and Epworth League, the Ladies Aid and both Missionary Societies continued to grow. During the James' leadership in Deer Creek, all the departments of the church seemed to flourish.

Times Were Changing

With the advent of the automobile and construction of improved roads, members who lived in the country experienced increased mobility. Growth was occurring, both in the town of Deer Creek and in the Deer Creek Methodist Church.

Because of these changes, it was now possible to develop larger and stronger parishes. The decision was made to unite the Deer Creek Methodist Church and Webster Chapel...the two remaining churches in the Deer Creek Circuit...as one church; one facility.

Webster Chapel was closed and the building was moved from the country. It was attached to the north side of the Deer Creek M. E. Church building in such a way that the "Webster Chapel" annex can be used for Sunday School classes, church meetings, youth activities and/or so it can be used as an extension of the main sanctuary of the church. This combination of the two churches was another boost for the very impressive and active Deer Creek Methodist Church.

It is of interest to note that two farm tractors were used to pull the under- carriage which carried Webster Chapel when it was moved the 3 to 4 miles to it's current location in Deer Creek. This move is believed to have been made during the summer of 1921. (The funeral service for Mary Elizabeth Webster, E. F. Webster's wife, in May 1921 is believed to be the last service held in Webster Chapel; it was moved to town shortly after that funeral.)

It was also during the James' ministry at Deer. Creek that C. F. Eberle, one of the leaders of the church, was elected at the Oklahoma Annual Conference to be an Oklahoma delegate to the month-long General Conference of the Methodist Church held at Des Moines, Iowa in 1920. In 1924, Rev. C. R. Vasey came to Deer Creek where he served for three years. It was during his ministry that Evangelist James Kendall, along with his singer, a Mr. DeEley, held a wonderful revival meeting which greatly strengthened the church.

During 1927, as a result of an interim- conference exchange, Rev. Vasey was transferred to Kansas, and Rev. W. E. Franklin came to Deer Creek. Under the efficient leadership of Mrs. Franklin, the young people's work prospered and was very active. However, during this period, the church suffered a loss in membership because a refinery in the oil field was moved.


Rev. C. A. Perkins followed Rev. Franklin in 1930. His dynamic personality and fervent enthusiasm added zest and interest which stimulated the church... especially the work among the boys of the church. It was during Rev. Perkins' tenure that the Home Missionary Society was discontinued.

Rev. O. L. Curl was appointed pastor in 1932 and stayed a year and a half. He was followed by Rev. M. M. Alden in 1934. During the time that Rev. Allen was there, the evangelist, James Kendall, was engaged for a return visit to conduct another revival meeting which strengthened the church and increased its membership.

It was in 1935, during the time that Rev. Alden was serving the church that the Numa Methodist Church was closed and its membership was transferred to the Deer Creek church.

Rev. I. E. Bula was appointed in 1936 and served only four months before he was forced to discontinue his work because of ill health.

In the spring of 1937, Rev. Roy Pfaff was appointed. Roy was a painstaking and thorough pastor, carefully looking after all the interests of the church. It was during his ministry that the church observed its 40th anniversary. The celebration was a huge success. In 1939, three branches of Methodism were joined together under one name... Methodist...and this early church which was known as the Deer Creek Methodist Episcopal Church (sometimes called Deer Creek M. E. Church) became simply the Deer Creek Methodist Church.

As a result of that merger and name change, the women's work throughout the church also changed names to become the Woman's Society of Christian Service... WSCS, and the young people's Epworth League was remand the Methodist Youth Fellowship...MYF.


Rev. Graham Hodge came in the fall of 1939 and stayed a year and a half. During the tenure of Rev. & Mrs. Hodge, a former pastor, Rev. C. A. Perkins (1930 1932), returned and conducted a good revival.

Mrs. Hodge has been remembered as being very active and efficient in the junior work of the Sunday School and the Women's work. The Hodges "earned" the distinction of being the last pastors to reside in the church's original parsonage which was located there on the church grounds. In 1941, shortly after the Hodges moved, a different, much nicer parsonage a couple blocks north of the church was purchased from the Louise F. Dester estate.

In the summer of 1941, a young man out of college and seminary came to Deer Creek as pastor. His name was Jack Wilks (also spelled Wilkes in some records). Though he was a bachelor, it wasn't long until a lovely young lady with charming personality came to be the "first-lady" of the parsonage.

During his pastorate a public sale was sponsored by the church, the proceeds of which exceeded $1500, which was used to retire the debt of the new parsonage purchase.

It was while Rev. Wilks was here that Rev. H. H. Cody of Blackwell assisted him in an excellent revival meeting. Rev. Wilks left Deer Creek to become a Chaplain in the U. S. Navy during World War II.

Later in his ministry, Rev. Wilkes was named President of Oklahoma City University.

Rev. Wilkes was succeeded by Rev, R. R. Ellis in August 1943. Rev. Ellis served the longest pastorate in the history of the Deer Creek Methodist Church... serving a total of 6 years. It was during this time, in 1945, that Evangelist Robert Fraser held a very inspirational meeting for the church. On October 24, 1948, during Rev. Ellis' tenure, the church celebrated its 50th anniversary with a large homecoming meeting.

At that meeting, it was reported that during the past quadrennium (4 years) the church's quota in the Crusade for Christ and the Retired Ministers' Fund was exceeded in payment. It was also reported that the church and parsonage properties, had been improved and re-decorated recently. The re-decoration of the church included a new panel altar which was added in the sanctuary.

The history committee which wrote a 50-year history for that celebration was chaired by Mrs. Roberta Michael. They wrote in part:

"Thus a half-century of Christian ministry and service has been rendered to the community by the Methodist Church of Deer Creek, which has established itself as a vital and moral and spiritual force for lifting and preserving ideals, building the Kingdom of God, and in the salvation of those who have knelt at her altars."

A few years after the death of Mrs. Ellis, Rev. Ellis married Edna Webster, grand daughter of the E. F. Websters and a life long resident of the Deer Creek area. Following their retirement from the ministry, Rev. & Mrs. Ellis returned to Deer Creek and lived their final years in this community.

Their retirement residence was the original C. F. Eberle home which is located diagonally across the street corner southwest of the church building.


In 1949, a young pastor, Milton Moody was assigned to the Deer Creek Methodist Church and served a two-year term. At the 1951 conference, Rev. E. L. Pierce and his wife were assigned the Deer Creek charge. They were a conscientious and dedicated Christian couple who loved the church and worked well with the youth. Mrs. Pierce was especially talented as a teacher and worker in the church. Rev. J. L. Fisher came in 1953 and Rev. W. S. Janes was assigned in 1954.

Rev. W. E. Cooksey, a strong and dynamic preacher, was given the Deer Creek charge in 1955 and worked here for two years. Mrs. Cooksey was blind, but she tried hard to not let her blindness be a handicap to her. She was so good and efficient at doing the routine activities.

In 1957, a young minister, Cecil Wingard, was assigned. The congregation enjoyed him a lot.

He was followed by Rev. Harvey Black in 1958, a young minister who enjoyed visiting and helping people in their work.


In 1962, Joe Hock was assigned to the Deer Creek Church.

In 1963, the Deer Creek and Renfrow churches were assigned the same minister, Rev. Bill MaCaskill, whose wife was from Renfrow. The church was back to the circuit riding days! However, the arrangement lasted only one year.

In 1964, Rev. Tom Pace came as a young pastor and served well for his two years. He was followed by Rev. Dan Stillwell in 1966 and Golden Shook in 1968.


By the end of the decade of the '60's, the membership had decreased and the amount of financial contributions being made created a difficulty in maintaining the minister's salary along with the parsonage and church building expenses.

In 1970, it was determined that the Deer Creek Methodist Church should be joined with the Nardin Methodist Church and the Nardin minister, Rev. Robert Moody, became the minister for both churches. Since the Nardin parsonage was a newer, more modern building, it was decided to sell the Deer Creek Methodist parsonage.

In 1971, Rev. M. E. Crocker was assigned, followed in 1972 by Oakley Herring and in 1974 by Walter Racker, all of whom served the circuit.

Rev. Gene Hancock served the two churches during both 1975 and 1976. He was replaced in 1980 by Rev. MaToy.

U. M. W. Officers For 1973
President - Carol Bellin
Vice President - Verlie Stroup
Secretary Dorothy - Burford
Treasurer - Lola Squires
Chairman Christian Social Relations - Sybil Webster
Chairman Missionary Education - Ann Ganer
Chairman Spiritual Life Growth - Grace Webster
Chairman Program Material - Rachel Webster


Rev. LaVerle Carrington came in 1982 and served until it was decided that Deer Creek should have a minister who lived and served in Deer Creek.

In 1986, a residence was rented and Rev. Bill Ward was assigned as the Deer Creek pastor. Even though Rev. Ward was accustomed to living in much larger towns and cities, he adjusted very well to small town living. While at Deer Creek, Rev. Ward made a new altar rail for the church. He attended Phillips University at Enid, and took seminary work.

It was at this time that Marguerite Pishny Curl gave the residential property of her mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Pishny, to the Deer Creek Methodist Church for a parsonage.

Members of the church joined in cleaning and papering this new parsonage. A new heating and cooling system was installed. And, again, the church held an auction with the proceeds from the auction used in preparing the parsonage. At this time, Linn Sylvestor of Oklahoma City was, called to preach at Deer Creek. He was our minister and accomplished much good. He visited many people in Deer Creek regardless of their church affiliation. He was later moved to a larger charge.


At the 1989 annual conference, Rev. Jack T. Curtis was assigned the Deer Creek charge. While serving at Deer Creek, he continued braining at and graduated from Phillips University as an ordained minister.

The Church is Closed

On April 29, 1990 at 4:30 p.m. a charge conference was held with District Superintendent, Rev. Eldon Moelling, in charge. The condition of the Deer Creek United Methodist Church was discussed and found to be such that it could no longer continue. With much sorrow, it was voted to close the church, transfer our memberships to other churches, and on Sunday, June 3, 1990 conduct the final worship service.

In Appreciation

Words read at the 50th year celebration meeting and words written more recently in a history of the Church may say it best:

"To the loyal devoted pastors for their faithful service, to the consecrated members... men and women.., who have given their time, talent, means, and to Almighty God, we offer our sincere appreciation, loving gratitude, and heart felt thanksgiving.

"May we never forget the untold blessings we have received as we worshiped in our Deer Creek United Methodist Church."