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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Select Biographies: Rev. Frank A. Colwell

From Wesley Church history files

The summer of 1910 Bishop Quayle contacted an old friend who pastored in northestern Kansas to come to Oklahoma City and help develop a new church in the growing northwest section of the city. Methodist minister Frank A. Colwell packed up his family and moved to the bustling and booming city of this new state.  He immediately set to work meeting with individuals from two otehr Methodist churches who had promised to help with the new work and soon a snug wooden structure was in place and by the annual conference that November the church in the "cow shed" on NW 32 and Military would be formally organized  with some 132 members and named Wesley Methodist Church.

He was born Jun. 16, 1860 in Henry County, Missouri and died Nov. 26, 1937 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

"F.A. COLWELL, CITY CHURCH'S FOUNDER, DIES - Heart Disease Is Fatal To Contractor Here." 

From Wesley Church History files
F.A. Colwell, 77 years old, retired contractor and former minister who founded the Wesley Methodist Episcopal church here in 1910, died of heart disease Friday at his home, 1213 Northwest Twenty-first street. Twice in the last 47 years he left the ministry to enter the business world. For the last five years he had been inactive because of ill health except for a brief entrance into politics in 1934 when, as Republican candidate for county commissioner, he was defeated by Mike Donnelly, Democrat.

In 1904 he founded the Grace Methodist church, Shawnee, now known as the Draper Avenue Methodist church. As a contractor here, he built many homes and apartment houses in the northside of the city.

Native of Missouri

Colwell was born in Henry county, Mo., June 16, 1860. In his youth, his family moved to Wellsville, Kan., where Colwell was engaged in the hardware and lumber business until he was 30 years old. The he entered Baker university, Baldwin, Kan., to study for the ministry. He was pastor to several western Kansas churches in the northwest Kansas Methodist conference until 1903 when he moved to Shawnee, abandoning the ministry to enter the piano business.

In 1904 he organized and became pastor of Grace Methodist church, serving five years until he left the ministry once more and entered the real estate business in Oklahoma City.

Funeral Set Monday

A clergyman again, he established the Wesley Methodist Episcopal church at Northwest Thirty-second street and Military avenue, later moving to the present site at Northwest Twenty-fifth street and Douglas avenue.  Ill health forced him into temporary retirement in 1911 after he had
brought 100 persons into the church congregation. Two years later, he entered the contracting business.

His wife, Mrs Mary J. Colwell, whom he married in Lebo, Kan., Feb. 1886, survives. Other survivors include two daughters, Miss Isa Colwell, of the home; Miss Blanche Colwell, Los Angeles; a son, Luke A. Colwell, a real estate salesman, also of the home; and two sisters, Mrs Alta Stewart, 4301 North Butler place, and Mrs Molly Husselman, Fort Smith, Ark.

Funeral will be conducted in Wesley Methodist church at 4 p.m. Monday by Rev. Hugh B. Fouke, pastor. Burial will be in Memorial Park cemetery. The Street and Draper funeral home is in charge of arrangements. (Oklahoman, obituary, 11-27-1937, P.14/14/with photo) 

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Become a Friend of Wesley

A special "Friends of Wesley" group is made of individuals, organizations, and businesses who wish to support the historic preservation of the century old and historically significant Wesley Methodist Church (Wesley United Methodist Church) founded in 1910.

The inspiring windows dating to 1928 honored people significant to local Oklahoma City history but also to the history of Oklahoma Methodism.

The church founding and development was guided by lay people who were leaders in Oklahoma City development in real estate, banking, business, and education.

It stands as a rare remaining example of Methodist Churches in the English Gothic style and as work by a significant early architectural firm.

Donations may be sent to:

Church Treasurer
Wesley United Methodist Church
1401 NW 25th
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma