Pioneer Christmases

From the beginning of Midland’s history, Christmas traditions have been part of the community. Those traditions included First Methodist and its members. Several early residents included memories of Christmas in their accounts in The Pioneer History of Midland County, Texas 1880-1926.


May Estes fondly recalled how, as the holidays approached, local merchants added gift items to their stock. The Midland Hardware and Windmill store had toys for sale. A jeweler named Linz came to town with a trunk of diamonds–brooches, bracelets, rings and other glittering items–and would come display them in people’s homes upon request.

Taylor’s Drug Store offered a wide variety of items and, according to May, Charlie Taylor “had marvelous taste.” The drug store would have Dresden china, Bisque, cut glass and, of course, toys.
Charlie Taylor was also a strong supporter of First Methodist, known then as Midland Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He pledged funds for construction of the 1907 brick church and served as a church steward for a number of years. 

The Methodist church, like all churches in town, added special Christmas events, including worship services. May especially remembered the Christmas trees.

Every church in town had Christmas trees–huge ones for the children. The Sunday School teachers would appoint a committee to decorate the tree and we were not allowed to see it until Christmas Eve. There would be dolls and toys hung on or placed around the tree with a child’s name on each one. Santa would call the names and members of the church would pass out the presents. It was a happy time for us.

In 1917 Beth Fasken, joined her husband Andrew in Midland. Andrew worked as manager of the vast Fasken ranch located west of Midland in country that Beth said, “God had forgotten.” She was glad when the family purchased a home in Midland, across from the Methodist Church.

Her second Christmas in town proved memorable. “The second Christmas in Midland, we had enough snow to have a snowman in all the gardens around town, but that night an overheated stove destroyed our residence by fire.” The family soon recovered however. They moved from town again, fifteen miles to South Camp, “a comfortable, convenient home in every way. Coal oil stove in summer. Wood stove for cold weather.” 

Times and traditions change.  Coal oil stoves are gone. Snowfalls still come at Christmas, though rarely. Often the weather is more balmy than bitter.

First Methodist no longer has a toy tree, but the Chrismon tree is a regular feature of the season, filled with hand-crafted ornaments, each containing Christian symbols and meaning. The culminating event each Christmas eve is a candlelight service, with the sanctuary lit by candles held aloft to the singing of “Silent Night,” providing a beautiful reminder of how each of us carries the light of Christmas and of Christ into the world. Methodists have been doing that in Midland since 1885.


December 2014

December 2014