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A SHORT HISTORY OF THE LATHROP CHURCH OF CHRIST 

 

The Western Migration was strong in the late 1800’s.  Among the covered wagons was the father of Thomas Alan Mann who in 1899 came from Texas and settled in the Salt River Valley of Arizona that became Phoenix.
  
In California territory, Israel Brockman was sheriff of Sonoma County. His wife died in 1870, leaving a 12 year old son, Thomas.  in 1874, the 16 year old signed on with Reddick Jasper and Sarah Cartwright who were moving to Arizona territory.  The wagon train, cattle drive also reached the Salt River Valley and settled on a homestead in what is now central Phoenix.  The Cartwright and Mann families became neighbors and more.
 
Thomas Allan Mann married Lois Cartwright.  In due time, Thomas Brockman also married Lois’s sister Perlina Adalie.  The Brockman, Cartwirhgt and Mann families had large roles in the Church of Christ in both Arizona and California territories.    From their homestead, Tom and Adalie donated two acres of land in 1884 for the original “Cartwright School”  that still serves the area.
 
It was 1904 when Thomas and Adalie Brockman and their nine children moved to California.  They settled on a farm at what is now the south-west corner of Lathrop Rd. and Airport Way.  The house they built burned in the 1940’s.
 
There was no Church of Christ meeting here at that time, but Albert Eli and Minnie Russell were also members and the two families soon found each other and began meeting in their homes.  When Mrs. Sarah Cartwright died, Jasper Cartwright came to Lathrop to live with the Tom Brockmans, his daugher and son-in-law, and nine grandchildren. The growing church needed a larger place to meet.
 
Under the leadership of Thomas Brockman and Eli Russell, arrangements were made to share the building owned by the Church of the Brethren.  The Brethren met on Sunday mornings, the Church of Christ met in the afternoons.  This building still stands in November, 2008, at the corner of Fifth and “J” Streets in Lathrop, and is used by the Community Church.
 
The year was 1911 and the “opening” of this phase was a “gospel meeting” or Revival Meeting preached by Ernest C. Love.  This date and activity is used as the “start” of the Church of Christ in Lathrop.  The church has meet regularly since that date.
 
The arrangement in which the Brethren and the Church of Christ shared use of the building lasted about four years.  In 1915, the church moved its meetings to the Tom and Perlina Brockman residence for a short time.  (Their house was on the corner of Lathrop and Durham Ferry Rd., now Airport Way.)  They next met in the East Union Community Church building on the souther-east corner of what is now Louise and Union Streets in Manteca.  The lot is now occupied by the “Quick Stop Market” and there is a stone monument on the corner telling the history of the spot.  The church had no regular preacher, but heard various men who came by; among them a brother Riggs, father of the famous tennis player, Bobby.
 Sometime in the early 1930’s, the East Union building burned and the church began meeting in the Lathrop School.  This arrangement continued until the present building was completed in 1943.
 
In 1939 the church bought a place to call its own. On July 26, Lawrence Brockman, Charley Percival, and Floyd Wilburn, as trustees, took title to three lots at what is now Sixth and Thomsen Streets in Lathrop.  The deed reports these lots were bought from the Southern Pacific Railway Company for $10.00.  A full basement was dug and four concrete walls were poured when construction stopped.  The church continued to meet in Lathrop School and the basement made an excellent hand-ball court for neighborhood youths.
 
Two of Thomas Brockman’s sons had a large role in finishing the church building.  Dick had a sawmill in Forbestown, near Chico in northern California. He said he had enough timber in his allotment to build a church building and he would cut the lumber if some from the congregation would help.  Lawrence, Elvin Wilburn, two of Dick’s sons went to cut the lumber; Joyce, Lawrence’s daughter,  and Minerva Wilburn went to do the cooking.  It took two weeks to cut the lumber and haul it to Lathrop.
 
The brethren did the building work themselves, completing it in 1943.  They did it well, for the building is in excellent condition today, not showing its 65 years.
 
The building was “dedicated” by a gospel meeting, preached by J. A. Craig.  He continued to preach for the church for some time.  Preachers following brother Craig were Lyle Pomeroy and Harvel C. Rice who preached on alternate Sundays.  The stipend was $10.00 per Sunday. Robert I. Townsley drove from Oakdale and Bob Dulaney drove from Livermore and preached on Sundays.  Charles Adams of Stockton, preached here from time to time, beginning at age 15.
 
MarvinTowell became the first located preacher in 1973. The church had bought the little house directly west of the building to be  the “preacher’s house.”  Brother Towell served until his death in June, 1974.  Ralph Baker, who grew up in Stockton and also spoke here during his teens, came from Pepperdine University to preach in September, 1974 to March, 1980.  Bill Singleton preached from July, 1981 to September to May, 1990 while continuing to teach school. John Buck served the church from March, 1991  to December, 1992. Robert Oliver began his ministry here May, 1993 and retired in 2007. Thomas Steed started his part-time ministry here November, 2007 to the present.
 
Contributing support of the Lathrop Church of Christ is as follows:
  • Ethiopia, Africa:  Preachers’ training school, water well drilling project, and famine relief
  • Ghana, Africa:  International Health Care Foundation,  medical clinic in the bush
  • Cambodia:  Preacher support
  • Spain:  Bibles
  • Russia:  Bibles
  • Agape Villages (Sierra Children’s Home)
  • Continent of Great Cities – Missionary training
  • World Christian Broadcasting, Alaska

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