A History of the Graceton church of Christ
By: Phillip Williams
The Graceton church of Christ near Diana, Texas, was established early in the 1900s and is believed to have been active for about 100 years. The earliest known meeting place was in the Stamps School, where the church met for several years. Then, about 1932, the congregation began meeting at a building adjacent to the Mattox Cemetery and in member’s homes. According to a history published in the 1980s in the Gilmer Mirror, a white frame building was constructed in 1945 at the present site on land donated by Harvey and Nellie Helms. This wooden building is reported to have been donated by another church. In 1950 or 1951, a brick building was erected and subsequently expanded, but burned when lightning struck it in August, 1983. the current building was then constructed in its place and completed in March 1984, largely due to generous donations from area congregations. The parsonage near the church building was moved in or built in approximately 1957. The multi-purpose annex building was completed in 2002, mostly by men of the church.
The congregation’s earliest known minister was Ralph Godfrey, who many credit for keeping the Lord’s church active in Graceton. Other ministers of the congregation over the years who have been remembered, in no certain order, are Brother Holloway from Pritchett, Brothers Painter and Davis; Bro. Jamerson from Gilmer, who came out to teach; Carl Tyson, Jack Martin, Benny Woods, Albert Brown, Bro. Hagler, James Winneford, Thomas Wilson, and Neil Binford. Paul Witt, who served as minister and as an elder, began his service in 1978 and continued until 2000. The church’s last three ministers were Allen Tolliver, who served for about seven years until 2007; Jason Reeves (2007-11); and our current minister, Jason Stapleton, who became Graceton’s minister in August of 2011.
The unincorporated community of Graceton is located near the intersection of FM Road 726 and Highway 154. Graceton was once a bustling rural community that had a steam gristmill, a cotton gin, a planing mill, and two general stores and was first settled in the early 1880s. Graceton was named for Grace Simpson, the daughter of Judge Robert Walton Simpson, who had donated a plot of land for a church.