In 1850, two brothers from Tennessee, Samuel and Robert Cochran, opened a trading post on the south side of Clear Boggy Creek. Much later they named the community “Stonewall” in honor of General Stonewall Jackson, who camped on the site during the Civil War. Their store became the center of trade and Stonewall gradually grew to become the third established town in the Chickasaw Nation; it was the county seat of Pontotoc County, so named in memory of land in Mississippi.
After the removal, the C.A. Burris family moved to new land several miles from Cochran’s Store. They began farming and ranching extensively on the open range of Boggy Bottom. C.A. Burris was a loyal and dedicated Methodist. He was active in founding Methodist Churches and Schools that were served by circuit riding preachers who ate and slept at the Burris home.
C.A. Burris had two daughters, Lillian Burris Woolley and Cecilia Burris McKoy, who were baptized at Breco’s swimming hole. They were members of the little white church with its steeple and snowflake window panes.
There were mission churches and one was established at Stonewall. The little village that huddled around Cochran’s Store continued to expand.
When the railroad missed Stonewall, Stonewall moved to the railroad. In 1904, it was a large cotton field and in 1905, a town sprang up. The Methodist Episcopal Church South uprooted itself and moved to its present location following the town. The snowflake windowpanes with their arches were carefully wrapped and moved. They are in the building today.
The Burris, McKoy, and Woolley families and many others have attended this church.
Today the building belongs to the Stonewall Area Historical Society and is in need of renovation; the plan is to create a History Center.
Susanne Woolley is a direct descendent of the Burris-Woolley family. She and her group, with Cowboy Jim Garling and Eddie Whitmore, will be giving a western swing and old-time Gospel music concert Saturday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m. at the Stonewall High School gym.
All donations appreciated. The event is open to the public.