Becoming a Davis, as I did 30 years ago next month, means that once a year, on the second Sunday in June, you travel to Johnsville, Texas, to a tiny little white church (in the vale), you worship God and Jesus. Afterwards, there is a family reunion and you eat among the dead in the cemetery. (explanation to come)
Johnsville is on CR206, just west of FM 2481, four miles north of Duffau; (where??) about 15 miles southeast of Stephenville.
Johnsville is a one room church, although there have been add-ons since 1987 when I first worshipped there. Behind the church is a cemetery, where many Davis’ before have been laid to rest. Here is where you enjoy catching up at the family reunion.
My history with Johnsville starts with OFF and outhouses and no air-conditioning (Yes! You read that right!) We are talking rural and back-in-the-day stuff!! I will honestly say-I wasn’t too excited about the whole thing. Although, being there with the one you love makes it all better; makes you want to endure the chiggers and the heat because you are finally a Davis.
My first adventure was about a month before I was officially a Davis. When Mark and I first started dating, the year before, I was just shy of missing out on the Johnsville chiggers! (Should be the name of their football team!!)
And no-we did not date very long before we knew this was it; he was the one.
You had to walk down the hill just a bit-to the outhouse. The outhouse. Before you started the trek, it was a must to spray OFF or else—the chiggers! The church was not equipped with the modern convenience of cooled air-and being in June—it was always very hot! And eating outside, in June, is not always comfortable-the heat, the flies and the mosquitoes.
Year after year, Johnsville grows on you. Family reunion. When you see Mark’s cousins and see how happy his parents are that you are there, you are glad you came. There is true history in the place. Davis history. But the real history started way before me, even way before my in-laws. It began in the 1800’s.
The community of Johnsville was settled sometime before 1860 and was named for John Z. Martin when he was appointed first postmaster in 1901. (Imagine a town being named after the man who delivered your mail?)
Johnsville consisted of general stores, a cotton gin, blacksmith shop, fraternal lodges, a school, a church, and numerous homes. It was once a thriving village on the main road from Stephenville to Glen Rose, according to www.texasescapes.com
The oldest graves in Johnsville Cemetery are those of the two infant children of Curtis and Annie (Cox) Burks and of W. B. and Mary (Smith) Cox. The children are believed to have died in 1907 and 1910. In 1910, Edward and Martha (Shaw) Cox sold 1.5 acres of land adjoining the church for use as a cemetery. The church was then almost fifteen years old. (There is a weird inside-Davis joke about an unknown baby and the grave it calls home!)
They say, (who is they? I have no idea??) that pioneers from all walks of life settled in the area; teachers, masons, blacksmiths, merchants, soldiers, preachers, farmers, mothers, fathers, children, and many others created the community known as Johnsville. Many of them and their descendants were buried in the Johnsville Cemetery.
As were many Davis’.
In 1998, the Johnsville Cemetery was rewarded with an historical marker and a celebration to commemorate the occasion. We were all there for the ceremony. More Davis history. More family reunions.
Now this historical marker was appropriate because when Mark and I were dating, I lived in Arlington and he lived in China Spring. My parents lived in Granbury. We drove a lot. Together and separate– because we never missed one weekend together, not one-from July 18, 1986 to July 18, 1987, (yes, we got married one year to the date that we met-I told you it was quick-we just knew!)
(Warning–At this point, our children and our parents should stop reading this!) All that driving caused us to stop every once in a while to kiss. So we made-up a game. Every time we saw an historical marker-we stopped and kissed. Did you know there are a lot of historical markers in Texas? We got out of the car and kissed. Romantic. Ok, back to Johnsville…
In 1948, the Johnsville School was consolidated with schools in Pony Creek and Chalk Mountain to form the Three Way School District. (Go Chiggers!! GO!!) By 1997, only the Church of Christ and the cemetery remained as a record of the area’s pioneer settlement. The Johnsville Cemetery continues to serve the area.
It is where we eat. Under the big oak trees, just outside the cemetery, we feast on a pot-luck-church-lady lunch.
In 1980, the estimated population was a mere twenty-five. That same number has been used through 2000. The post office is now closed (sadly, because every year Mark still looks for it as his marker to turn!)
And that’s the history in the books. The history that is more important to the Bob Davis and Don Davis families…
Bob and Don are brothers and they grew up going to Johnsville with their parents. Each married and had children. Bob had Dan,Tim and Lauren and Don had Mark and Dave. The five Davis kids also grew up attending the reunion service every second Sunday in June and have carried on the tradition of attending with their wives and children. Our kids grew up knowing this church- as did Dave’s kids. One day, our grandchildren will attend the family reunion. (Bob already has great grandchildren who have carried on the tradition)
The church has changed over the years, most importantly-air-conditioning and in-door plumbing! I believe the song books have been updated. We still sing the same songs every year, led by each Davis male. The difference is that the five Davis kids and their wives now need readers to see the music. There are many things that haven’t changed-we still sit in the same chairs I have been sitting in for 29 years (who knows how old they actually are). Bad news-there’s still chiggers!
Johnsville is June. Johnsville is Davis. Johnsville is love and God and worship and family. Family reunion.
Johnsville is an important family tradition; it means the world to my father-in-law and because he means the world to us–every second Sunday in June, we go to the little white church in the vale.
love and blessings~dd