Nestled among a grove of oak trees, just south of Weatherford, rests a building that appears ravaged by the elements. You won’t find it in the pages of Architectural Digest, but it has found its place in history.
In 1854 the Spring Creek settlement established roots in Parker County with the arrival of the T.J. Shaw family from Tennessee. He and his family built a log cabin on the south branch of Spring Creek, the settlement's namesake.
As more settlers arrived, the community grew to include a number of homes and farms, the community’s historical marker reads.
What’s unique about the settlement today, is that after more than 100 years a tabernacle, built in 1914 - from a 1904 brush arbor - still remains, and is in use today.
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During its early years the tabernacle served as a church, from time-to-time, according to Nadeen Pickard Murphree, who grew up in the community.
“During the Depression the federal government set up a program there to make mattresses for people in need in the community,” Murphree said. “For years the community hosted a reunion with large crowds always attending and enjoying ‘dinner on the grounds.’ When Spring Creek School was in operation they would have stage plays in the tabernacle.”
Years later, in 1941, the tabernacle grew in prominence as became the site for musical entertainment. What’s become widely known today as the Spring Creek Musical, it’s become a tradition that has carried on to this day - 75 years later.
“It began in the home of the late Eddleman and Audrey Pickard in 1941 but quickly outgrew their home and was moved to the tabernacle where it has been a gathering place for musicians, friends and visitors over these many years,” Murphree said. “Gaston Floyd stepped in to help with the musical for many years along with his wife Estelle who was known for baking her famous cakes for the musicians.”
Murphree said as time went by the Floyd’s son, the late Wendall (Frank) Floyd, and the late Warren Edwards took over the operation; and later Pickard’s son-in-law Kenneth Murphree and Floyd’s daughter-in-law, the late Belba Floyd, along with their spouses, took over the bookings and sound for the musical.
“Many people have volunteered over the years to keep this event open for the public and have a glimpse of the past when musicians would get together after a hard day’s work and have musical sessions until the wee hours of the morning,” Murphree said.
Today, it's run by third generation Floyd families including David Floyd who operates the sound, Lesa Floyd Walters who books the acts, and Janice Floyd James who helps with the snack bar.
“It is an all-volunteer run musical with donations used to pay the utilities and upkeep of the tabernacle,” Murphree said. “No one gets paid for playing, working in the concessions, cleaning the grounds, running the sound or booking the events.”
She said many young people have gotten their start on that stage to go on to stardom, including Katie Keenie, Van Darien, Josh Ward, Mickey Parsley - to name a few.
“Glen Tarver grew up in Spring Creek moved to California where he won many fiddle contests and played with several famous recording artist,” Murphree said. “In the 50s’ the Galbreaith Brothers Band went onto the Louisiana Hayride, playing backup for Elvis Presley, and won Best Band in North Texas by the Texas County – Western Music Association.”
Even the late Mac Curtis, who went on to international fame with his Rockabilly music, played at Spring Creek many times. The crooners memorial service was at the old tabernacle on Sept. 28, 2013.
“It’s just a good feeling to know a place is still available for young people to have a place to perform on stage,” Murphree said. “Some will go on to bigger and better venues. I am just proud to have been born at home, in the Spring Creek Community, and be from a musical family who always enjoyed jamming with friends.”
What’s the future for the Spring Creek Musical and the tabernacle? Only time can tell.
“You never know what the next generation will do as times changes everything,” Murphree said. “Young people have other places to show their talents and in a more modern setting.”
Murphree said she’s thankful the Floyd children and grandchildren have stepped up to continue the musical.
“I love carrying on old traditions that my family help start and continue on for all these many years,” said Lisa Floyd Walters. “To have people come to us and tell us how much they love coming to the musical...it really makes it worth it.”
She said she hopes that her descendants would be proud of her family continuing with what they’ve started.
“I sure hope they’d be proud,” she said. “It’s not for lack of trying.”
Walters said she hopes when the time comes other family members will pick up where they’ve left off.
“I hope it continues to go on for many years to come,” she said.
The musical is the second Friday night of each month. For more information contact Lisa Walters at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or David Floyd at email@example.com.