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TodayJul 14, 2024
Toledo Bend
Partly cloudy throughout the day with strong storms possible.

The number of post offices in Newton County continues to diminish. At one time there were many more cost offices than there are today. The present trend of the United Postal Service of abolishing the smallest post office might make the number even less. In earlier days, the people did not have the means of transportation that are available today and if a post office were established, it meant that the people would have the mail brought closer to them. One post office that has long been gone was called “Ken-dale.”

In 1909, J.J. (Joe) Kerr established a general store in the Spears Chapel community. The location was on the road from Burkeville to Columbia, a steamboat landing and settlement on the Sabine River. The roads were bad and the people were handicapped in traveling to Burkeville and Newton for supplies and mail. In 1910, Kerr applied for a United States Post Office. The Post Office was granted and he set the office up in one corner of his store. The name of the Post Office was Kerrdale.

J. P. (Jim) Miller, Sr. remembers that he was the first mail carrier. He carried the mail by horseback on Tuesdays and Fridays. He traveled the old blackland road which went by the McMahon Cemetery and the water mill on McGraw Creek. The road entered Burkeville where the city water tank now stands. (Farm road 1414 at a point several feet beyond the Baptist Church).

Approximately thirty families lived in the Spears Chapel Community at that time who were served by this post office and the general store. The store was on the regular river road (others traversed the community) Just west of the Old Booker place more generally known as the John McMahon place. The home and the land site of the store is now owned by Robert M. Hall of Newton, Texas.

Spears Chapel Community could be described as “the new and the old.” Two churches stand on the same side of the road and about a block apart. One is used each Sunday with a congregation of the present residents and the other church is one that was established in 1839. Both churches are Methodist in faith although the newer one is a Congregational Methodist.

The descendants of the older Methodist Church and/or community have their annual homecoming on the first Sunday in June each year. The group who meet there have formed an association that takes care of the church building and the cemetery which adjoins the churchyard. They meet about 10 o’clock on the first Sunday in June. They visit and hold a business meeting. After the business meeting they share a bountiful basket dinner spread under the big trees that probably have witnessed more history than any of those meeting there can imagine. Each person who comes tries to bring food that “others” like and enjoy rather than just pleasing themselves. Several women are known as a cook for a special dish and every year everyone looks forward to tasting once again that particular food. The church has an official Texas State Marker which stands in front of the church near the highway. The community was certainly a “gateway” to Texas and to church history of the settlement from the eastern United States.

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