Top left, original Presbyterian church built in 1852; top right, small chapel that allowed other denominations use of the building; bottom left, building was erected in 1882 and is shown in the museum's wallhanging; bottom right is the present church building. Image courtesy of the Brazoria County Historical Museum.
Bethel Presbyterian was organized in 1840 by the Reverend William Y. Allen with ten members. The first sermon was preached by Reverend Hugh Wilson who is sometimes called "the Father of Texas Presbyterianism." The church first bought and used one of the former capitol buildings, but a new church building was finished and dedicated in 1852. It was in what is now West Columbia, and probably adjacent to the Old Columbia Cemetery because the widow of Josiah H. Bell gave the land for both the church and cemetery. In the 1880s, the church moved to [East] Columbia and a new building was built. It blew down in the '32 Storm, a small in area but deadly hurricane that is legendary among the old-timers in Brazoria County. The current church pictured here in a 1987 photograph taken by the writer was bought from or given by the Methodists to Bethel Presbyterian.