Taken from the Norwood Centennial 1881-1981
Oak Forest Church
By Opal Hiser Kelley
The Oak Forest Church which is located about 5 miles south of Norwood on Highway C, just over the Wright County line in Douglas County was founded by pioneers who came to Missouri in the early days of the 1880's and homesteaded landin the vicinity of the church. There were four families who were instrumental in getting the church built. They homesteaded and lived there until they died. The Thomas Burke and the Jacob Filer families were already here when the Henry Hiser family, my grandfather, came in 1884. The Parry family came later. These people are all buried in the Oak Forest Cememtery except the Parrys who are buried in the Thomas Cemetery. Overton Broadus homesteaded the place now owned by the Hendershots He gave land for the cemetery and his oldest son was the first to be buried there. More land was acquired later for the same purpose.
There were many other families who came about this time but most of them sold their homesteads and moved away. The place where Lester Thomas now lives was homesteaded by a family named DUNCAN who came from Virginia. The old folks died and are buried at Shiloh Cemetery. The son sold the place to Gandville AKERS who lived his livetime there. Other settlers in the community wre the Brodfots. He was a Methodist minsiter and was no doubt an(d) influence in getting the chuch located there. He served the church as minister for a number of years. He was also postmaster of the FILER postoffice in the early days. Other Setlers were the Bearces, Lewises, McCoys, Nyes, and the Bakers. He was also a Methodist minister who was paster of the church for a few years. Another family was the Mattucks. He was a Baptist minister. the Mattucks were the parents of Carolina Johnson whose husband was Jonah Johnson. They lived on the place now occupied by Lyle Hull They lived there until he died and Mrs. Johnson went to live with her son Charles in Norwood No doubt there were many other settlers too. Only two farms in this vicinity that are still owned by members of the family who were original homesteadrs, the Hiser farm and the Doss Woods place which was homestaed by his father and is now owned by a grandson, Chalmer Goodman.
These homesteders first worshipped in an old log schoolhouse which was located on teh east side of the farm now owned by Ira WEDGE. Later land was given to build on the present site. Lumber to build the church was hauled from sawmills in the southrn part of Douglas County and the northern part of Ozark County where many tall pine trees grew and sawmills were flourishing. The entire community helped with the building of the church. It was organized as a Methodist Chruch and remained so until the 1960's when it became a community church. Throughout the years when they did not have a Methodist minister other denomiations (sp) were allowed to use the church. In 1904 a Brethern church was organized. They held their meetings there a few years until they built their own church.
There are some of the things my mother has remembered. She, Stella DUNCAN, came here in 1900 with her parents, the Noah DUNCAN family. He, Noah DUNCAN, became a Brethern minister. My mother married John Wesley HISER in 1910. We always attended the Oak Forest Church. In those days the church was the center of social functions as well as spiritual. I have many fond memories of the wonderful times we had there, the big dinners, the Children's Day excersises (sp), the Christmas Programs and the old fashioned pie suppers we had there because the school house was too small for the big crowds that attended in those days.
Douglas County Missouri History & Families, 1857-1995
Turner Publishing Company
Marion and Tom (Burke) joined Henry F. Hiser and P. F Smith to start Oak Forest Methodist Episcopal Church South Deed dated Sept 5, 1890. Near that date H. T., Tom (Burke), and Mr. Broadus established the adjacent Oak Forest Cemetery.
Henry Franklin Hiser .... (was) poor by today's standards but they always had money to pay their part in the upkeep of the Methodist Church at Oak Forrest (sp) which they had helped to establish ...