Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas) Page: 41
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HISTORY OF CRANFILLS GAP
St. Olaf Lutheran Church, Cranfills Gap
Cranfills Gap might well have been named
Montevideo (changed spelling of Portuguese
for "I see a mountain") as it nestles on the
eastern slope of a naturally landscaped
mountainside; but it more naturally took its
name when the town sprang up a half mile
west of the present townsite in the "Gap" of
two mountains through which the Hamilton
County-Bosque County line runs. The town
of Cranfills Gap has always been in Bosque
County, but its scope of friendly influence has
radiated well into both counties.
Cranfills Gap was named for George Eaton
Cranfill who came from Illinois to Texas in
1850. Samuel B. Crawford, father-in-law of
Sam B. Cranfill, established the Cranfills
Gap Post Office at Neils Creek, Hamilton
County, in 1879, with Samuel B. Crawford,
postmaster. The name and location of the
post office was soon changed to Cranfills Gap,
Bosque County, about a month later.
Old Town Cranfills Gap.
Riley and Bud Ford established a store in
the old town of Cranfills Gap in 1882. Dr.
Whitlock, the first doctor, came in the early
1800's. A.A. (Blacksmith) Anderson was the
first blacksmith. Frank Spencer was the first
barber and his wife operated the switchboard
for the telephone company. In 1906 the
Cranfills Gap Telephone Company was orga-
nized. This hand crank magneto type tele-
phone system, a local mutual stock company,
lasted until 1971 when it was sold to Clifton
Telephone Company who installed dial tele-
phones. In 1910, J.W. Butler of Clifton
secured a charter for the First Guaranty State
Bank of Cranfills Gap. The name was later
changed to First Security State Bank. Other
early businesses that helped develop the
community were G.O. Bronstad and Son
Store, The Four Company (A.C. Grimland,
Emil Sorley, Otto Reesing, and Johnny
Pederson), Bernt Bertelsen Barber Shop, a
co-op cotton gin operated by A.C. Grimland,
another cotton gin owned by Neil Swenson,
a general merchandise store owned by Alec
Ross (later the first variety store in the Gap),
Murphree's Grocery Store operated by N.M.
and Wylie Murphree, Woods Grocery Store
and the Viking Theater owned by a Mr.
Freight in the early days was brought in
from Clifton by a six mule team and wagon.
Roads were almost non-existent, and six
mules were needed to pull the wagon and
freight through the land.
Cranfills Gap was indeed proud of its
concert band. At the annual Gap Picnic the
band always presented a musical concert.
Other remembrances include the barrel of
real lemonade at five cents per glass and the
delicious five cent hamburgers.
Development of the Town.
In 1913 to lay out a new orderly townsite
for Cranfills Gap, the Cranfills Gap Townsite
and Development Company was organized.
All buildings were moved that winter with
steam engines. The Temple and Northwest-
ern Railroad scheduled to be built through
the town was not built due to the outbreak
of World War I.
In 1927, a fire destroyed the drug store,
doctor's office, dentist's office, barber shop
and a grocery store-leveling that part of the
business section. All the buildings were
rebuilt with better structures.
At one time there were five grocery stores
in the Gap. At another time there were five
filling stations. At still another time there
were three doctors and one dentist.
Mary Nell Witte says that the first record-
ed Methodist Church services in this area of
Bosque County were held in the school
building located near the present site of
Boggy Cemetery about 1880. Methodists
worshipped there until 1889 when they
organized the Methodist Church of Cranfills
Gap. They met in the Cranfills Gap school
building, a log cabin, until 1901 when they
built a one-room building on the west side of
the mountain known as Cranfills Gap. In
1929 a Methodist parsonage was built in the
New Gap. In 1935 the present rock structure
was built beside the parsonage and in 1959
an additional building was attached to the
back of the church. Forty-one pastors have
served the Methodist Church. Methodist
Men have brought honor to the church by
being awarded the 1956 Award from the
Commission on Town and Country Work for
outstanding achievement in rural work. Also
the pastor won the "Outstanding Rural
Pastor of the Central Texas Conference"
Award. Women of the church contribute to
Of historic interest to Bosque County is St.
Olaf Lutheran Church. Known as the Old
Rock Church, the original well-known church
is located four miles east of Cranfills Gap on
a rise overlooking Meridian Creek Valley.
Orelia Tindall says land was purchased for
$25 and in 1884, a building was begun.
Andrew Michelson was architect and builder
of the new church in collaboration with his
brothers, Christian and Ole. The church was
constructed of native stone dug from the
mountainside two miles west of Meridian.
Most of the rock work and building was done
by members in their spare time. The bell,
weighing 3600 pounds, was raised into the
tower and the rest of the tower was construct-
ed around the bell.
For several years there was a dirt or clay
floor with split logs set on wooden kegs for
seats and gas lights. Stained glass triangles
form an arc over the windows lining both
sides of the building. The entire church was
constructed for about one thousand dollars.
Renovations to both the inside and outside
of the building are currently being made and
activities for the 100th anniversary celebra-
tion in 1986 are in planning stages.
In time the congregation of St. Olaf
Lutheran Rock Church felt that a new and
larger building in the town of Cranfills Gap
was needed. In 1914, the decision was made
to buy seven lots and to take option on two
more for a total apst of $262.50. Cranfills Gap
Townsite and Development Company had
already donated one lot. The brick church
was built in 1917. The purchase and installa-
tion of a pipe organ was sponsored by the
Young People's Society.
Language transition did not come easy. In
1918 there were 44 services in Norwegian and
22 in English. Older members preferred
Norwegian; the younger, the language of the
land in which they lived.
At its peak, St. Olaf had a membership of
930 and in World War II, 125 members were
in the Armed Services-
A parsonage was built in 1930 and in 1958
a new parsonage replaced it. With Ernest
Enger as builder, an Educational Building
was built in 1954. Stained glass windows were
placed in the sanctuary as memorials to those
who helped build and shape St. Olaf. Nine
pastors have served St. Olaf congregation.
There are several active auxiliary organiza-
tions that work within the church.
According to Mr. and Mrs. Ovie Dittrich,
the First Baptist Church of Cranfills Gap
began in 1889 with fourteen people forming
the Missionary Baptist Church. Thus these
fourteen members became the charter mem-
bers of the present church. A church building
was constructed in 1904 and served as a
meeting place until 1946 when better facili-
ties were provided. Three acres of land were
purchased east of town for the new building
and on Easter Sunday 1948, the first service
was held. Since then, the church membership
has grown and an educational building and
parsonage have been added.
Ruby Brummett said, "Brother Russ and
Sister Bertha Brummett were enthusiastic
sponsors of the First Church of Christ in
Cranfills Gap." A mission meeting held in the
Cranfills Gap Park in 1949, sponsored by the
Church of Christ at Grand Prairie, resulted
in a congregation being established. The
group met in the park on Sundays until
winter came; then arrangements were made
for the church group to meet in the school
building. In time plans were made for a new
church building. A lot was donated by the
Brummetts and work was begun. It was
completed and ready for use in April 1950.
Cranfills Gap Schools.
John Sheppard, longtime faculty member
at Cranfills Gap Schools, has done research
on the school's history and offers this infor-
mation: "The first school in the Cranfills Gap
community was held in a log cabin on the Joe
Cox place located a mile west of the present
townsite. A Mrs. Ridenhower was the teach-
er. A few people remember two more schools
that were in operation about that time - the
late 1800's. One of those was called Prather
Hollow located near the home of Mrs. Bill
Wiese and the other, Granger Hall, located
near Meridian Creek on a place now owned
by Dean Thomas.
In the early 1900s, a one-room white
schoolhouse was built near the location of the
present school. The land was a part of the
August Pederson place. Mack Bertelsen was
the teacher there in 1904-05. A few years
later, two rooms and a stage were added.
Because more students came to school,
another red brick building of six rooms was
built in 1915; then in 1920 an elementary
school building with six rooms was ad-
ded...The present Cranfills Gap School is the
consolidation of either all or part of the
following schools: Rohne, Live Oak, Percival,
Goar, Meridian Creek, Mustang, Boggy
(Shellrock), Harmony, B.B. Swenson, Cove
Springs, Spring Creek, Mt. View, Hall,
German Valley, Stanford Valley, Terry and
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Bosque County History Book Committee. Bosque County: Land and People (A History of Bosque County, Texas), book, 1985; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth91038/m1/57/?q=campbell: accessed October 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Denton Public Library.