McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

October 22, 2012

One of Pittsburg County's oldest-Choate Prarie Church torn down

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER —  

One of the oldest churches in Pittsburg County was torn down on Tuesday to be replaced by a new one, according to members of the church.
Located three miles west of Indianola, Choate Prarie Church was built in 1875 but fell into disrepair, according Denny Emery whose company Diamond Homes was contracted to do the domolition and the rebuild. 
 He said although part of the church will be saved, the rest of the church was torn down to build a new one.
 “We are going to put up a brand new building, but it’s sad to see this one go,” Emery said. 
He said he attended the church most of his life and his mother Ellen Emery has been a member of the church for more than 55 years. 
Ellen Emery said the decision to tear down the building came after an ice storm.
“In 2010 we had an ice storm that caused the roof to cave in,” she said.
“After the all the damage, it was God’s way of telling us us it was time,” she said.
Emery said the church was orginally formed by a group of Choctaw woman from the Choate family before 1875.
 Ellen Emery said from church records she learned that the church was started in a one room log cabin and was in four different locations over the years.
One of the locations was south of the Choate Prarie cemetery then it was moved to a building about half mile from the current location and then finally to it’s last location, which was site of the former Choate Prarie School House.
“The school house was built about 1920,” she said. 
In 1936 she said the school house was torn down and a new building was constructed.
“Families donated bales of cotton to pay for the building,” Ellen Emery said.
The church bell tower will be used in the new building along with an organ that Ellen Emery said has been with the church from the beginning.
“We know the organ was orignally brought from Kentucky by the Choates over one hundred years ago,” she said.
Roger Ross a long time member of the church was at the scene of the demolotion. “I have mixed feelings,” Ross said. “I’m said the see the old building go, but I’m excited about the new one.” 
Meanwhile,  Ellen Emery said that she was sad to see the old building go, but it was time, “God is in it all, I know this and just like us, nothing lasts forever,”she said.
Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.