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Third McMahan Chapel
Methodist Church in 1900 photo

In 1831, Col. Samuel Doak McMahan moved with his family from Doak’s Crossing in Tennessee and built his home of logs a short distance west of the sacred ground upon which McMahan Chapel is located. McMahan Chapel was formed as a Methodist class or society in this home in September 1833. Historians record that in 1832 while traveling on horseback through the forest of Palo Gaucho Creek between ,his home and San Augustine, Col. McMahan stopped to pray and was soundly converted. He immediately began to seek a Methodist preacher who would come and preach to him, his family, and neighbors.

Reverend James P. Stevenson

The Reverend James P. Stevenson came in July, 1833 and preached in col. McMahan’s home. Several people were converted. He returned in September. The new Methodist group had continued to conduct classes for study and to worship. In view of such zeal, Stevenson organized them as a Methodist Society and appointed Col. McMahan class leader. The Society continued to meet in McMahan’s home regularly until Texas gained her independence from Mexican rule in 1836, and they were free to organize a Protestant Church openly.

The first church building erected at McMahan Chapel was of logs, in 1837, which Rev. Littleton Fowler arrived in time to help build. After nine years of noble work in Texas, Fowler died on Jan. 29, 1846. In compliance with his request, he was buried beneath the pulpit of the Chapel. The second building was erected in 1872; the third in 1900; and the present landmark Chapel was completed in 1949. All these buildings have occupied the same spot so that the grave of Rev. Fowler would not be disturbed. McMahan Chapel was one of the first three Methodist Churches in the United States to be designated a “Landmark Site” by the General Commission on Archives and History.

The Fourth (current) McMahan Chapel

Click any image for enlargement

Of special interest are the beautiful stained-glass windows which memorialize early Methodists. Rev. Fowler’s massive marble headstone is behind the pulpit.

The church grounds are located on 15 acres shaded by native East Texas trees. Spacious, well-kept grounds, the historic spring of water, tables and other modern conveniences greet visitors; all those who come from far and near to visit the “Birthplace of Methodism” in Texas.

The Chapel is open every day to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Worship services are held at McMahan Chapel at 1:30 p.m. on the first and third Sunday of each month. The church is located on Spur 35 off Hwy. 21 near Geneva.


  • From Milam, TX (Junction Highway 87 and 21/103):
  • Go West on Highway 21/103 for 2.9 miles to where Highways 21 and 103 separate. Follow Highway 21.
  • Proceed on Highway 21 for 3.5 miles to Geneva – junction of Highways 21/330.
  • Continue West on Highway 21 for 3.7 miles to the junction of Spur 35.
  • Turn South on Spur 35 and proceed 2 miles to McMahan’s Chapel.

Interior Views

See a Virtual Tour of the chapel interior: CLICK HERE

Methodist medallion (front and back shown) circa 1934 – “Texas Methodist Centennial” and honoring McMahan’s Chapel as the “oldest Protestant church in Texas
Historic markerTime Capsule
Have a picnic across the road at Littleton Fowler Park
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