At McMahan Chapel anniversary celebrations a bit of history comes alive. At the 181st event a man dresses in period wardrobe and fires a musket. Visitors reconnect with a great, great, great grandfather whose birthday anniversary is at the 200 mark.
The fourth McMahan chapel, in Sabine County, stands where three previous log structures once stood beginning in 1837. Colonel Samuel Doak McMahan offered the ground to his neighbors when it was illegal for protestant worship.
Direct descendant Jack McMahan never tires of sharing the story.
"He was out plowing his fields. He would think about scriptures and think about what God was leading them to do and then he would bring them in and they would be inspired," said McMahan.
Similar inspiration keeps the church open and led to a museum and event center.
Pastors come and go, but the spirit of Reverend Littleton Fowler hangs around.
"He's buried underneath the pulpit," said Rev. Karen Jones, a former McMahan Chapel pastor. "So when you stand in that pulpit to preach you're really standing on a great history, a great legacy and it makes you work harder," chuckled Jones.
Samuel McMahan chose a traditional final resting place.
" His gravestone is right out here in the cemetery and mine is right next to it," said Jack. "And that's where I will come to rest, but it's unoccupied right now," Jack said with a hearty laugh.
An Eagle Scout and a social media funding campaign provided a walkway leading to McMahan springs. Clear water, decorated by native ferns, continues to flow. The water source was the primary reason the location was chosen as a homestead.
Today the attraction is a place to worship while connecting with the past.
The McMahan Chapel is located off of Highway 21, 10 miles east of San Augustine, on Spur 35. The grounds are always open. Chapel services are held every first and third Sunday of the month at 2 p.m.. Visitors are always welcomed. Contacts can be reached at 936-275-5542 and 936-699-2213.