Rebuilt 1905 Watoola Methodist Church Prepares for Barbecue, Bake Sale

The Watoola Methodist Church Barbecue and Bake Sale will be held May 20 from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Barbecue pork and chicken will be served with cole slaw, Brunswick stew, pickles and bread. Pints of pork and Brunswick stew will also be available. Helping to prepare for the barbecue are, from left, Bernice Capps, Cordelia Walker, Lee Mullins, Billy Capps and Jane Capps. PHOTO BY ANN CIPPERLY / FOR THE OBSERVER


While the exterior of the Watoola Methodist Church looks similar to how it did in 1905 when it was constructed, the original building was damaged by the tornado in Beauregard in 2019 and rebuilt. As members prepare for their annual “old time” Barbecue and Bake Sale event on May 20, the landscape looks completely different with the ancient walnut and oak trees now gone, as well as most of the brick barbecue pit.

History of the Watoola Methodist Church goes back to the 1830s when Flora Fraser (1755-1846), from Scotland, built a shelter of worship on Watoola Creek. The name “Watoola” means “living waters.”

Jane Capps researched the church history from records compiled by Sara Capps, who was a member. In the Uchee Uprising of 1836, three Native Americans died protecting 81-year-old Fraser. She had the braves buried on a hill overlooking Watoola Creek, which was the beginning of Watoola Cemetery.

In 1837, the Rev. James Wesley Capps came from Georgia to Watoola Creek with his wife and two children, Katherine Ann Capps and William Moss Capps. The following year, the Rev. Capps assisted in building a cabin of worship on land donated by John Andrew and Mary Green.

The Rev. Capps served as the first pastor of Watoola UMC. His son, William Moss Capps, became preacher in 1848 after his father’s death. John Dupree, who moved to Watoola around 1839, assisted the Rev. Capps. In 1845, Watoola was on a circuit with 13 other Methodist churches.

In 1905 the original church was built. Walt Dupree cut logs at his sawmill to contribute toward building the church. Other families helped too. In 1957 the front porch of the church was removed, and Sunday school rooms and indoor bathrooms were added. Over the years, the church was remodeled. The barbecue pit was built in 1977 and expanded over the years with a cover and working area.

The first barbecue was held in 1976 when the church needed to raise funds for a new fellowship hall. Bobby Capps and Ellis Jenkins suggested having a barbecue. The first year the meat was cooked over a borrowed open grill set up on blocks. The barbecue was so popular that it sold out before the workers could get a plate.

In 1977, Kenneth Capps built a barbecue pit with funds donated by Carl Orr. For several years, only pork barbecue was offered. The barbecue area expanded over the years with a cover and working area. June Jenkins, Cordelia Walker and Bernice Capps have helped every year since the first barbecue.

Funds from barbecue sales helped renovate the church in 1980 and construction of the fellowship hall in 1989. An addition to the fellowship hall was made in 2010 to provide more seating.

In March 2019, the tornado damaged the back side of the church and moved the building off its foundation, and most of the brick barbecue area was destroyed. The church had to be demolished and rebuilt.

Insurance did not cover the entire rebuilding.

“The Lord blessed us with donations,” said Cordelia Walker. “Some donations were from people from other states that we did not know. One donation was from a church in New York and another out west. A church in Georgia held a large yard sale and sent the proceeds to Watoola.

“Two local churches, Society Hill Methodist and Pierce Chapel Church, made donations to the building fund. Society Hill donated funds they were saving to build a fellowship hall.”

It took two years to complete the rebuilding. Some of the original wood was used in construction on the new church. The fellowship hall is now connected to the church. The hallway includes new rooms for the children’s Sunday school classes. The altars and pews were saved, but the pews needed upholstery. A wooden cross in front of the church is mounted on boards taken from the exterior of the original building.

The stained glass was saved and preserved until needed. The new arched windows look different from the original ones. The wood ceiling at the entrance was some of the original flooring that was saved and repurposed.

In the foyer, the original wooden doors were used for entering the sanctuary, and two other doors are mounted on each side of the foyer. Original brick from the foundation was used to form a cross on the new front porch.

Church members didn’t have the barbecue in 2020. Since then, the Giving Back Foundation of Vincent has provided a large rotisserie for cooking the pork and chicken until the barbecue pit can be rebuilt. This year there will be approximately 650 pounds of pork and 350 chicken halves enhanced with Billy Capps’ Barbecue Sauce. About 60 gallons of Brunswick stew will be prepared by church members. John Capps, Lee Mullins and others are in charge of cooking. 

The men begin cooking the chicken and pork around noon on Friday before the sale and will finish around 3 a.m. On Friday afternoon, ladies of the church get together to prepare the cole slaw,  pickles and bread.

At 6 a.m. Saturday morning, members return to start getting ready.

Assorted homemade desserts for the bake sale are delivered. At 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning the barbecue is ready, and an assembly line forms to serve.

“Being a small church,” Bernice said, “it takes all of us to make the barbecue work.”

Those purchasing barbecue can dine in the fellowship hall or get it to go.

Proceeds from the barbecue and bake sale go to maintaining the church. Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door or can be purchased ahead from any church member or by calling Bernice at 334-740-7943. Brunswick stew and pork are available for $7 a pint.

Watoola Methodist Church is located at 1370 Lee Road 38 in the Beauregard community. Drive about 13 miles south of Opelika on Alabama Highway 51 and look for signs directing to Lee Road 38. Turn left onto Lee Road 38 and follow the road around to the church. Current pastor is the Rev. Keith Badowski.

Following is variety of recipes handed down through generations for the bake sale, featuring homemade cakes, pies, cookies and breads.


13 Layer Yellow Cake with Cooked Chocolate Frosting

Cordelia Walker

1 cup Crisco shortening

1 ½ cups sugar

4 eggs

3 cups self-rising flour

2 ¼ cups milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Cream shortening, sugar and eggs, adding one egg at a time. Stiff flour and add alternately with milk. Stir in vanilla.

Coat three or four 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Spread ½ cup batter into each pan. Bake 375 for 10 minutes. Do not overbake.

Turn layers onto rack to cool. Wash pans, respray and continue baking ½ cup batter until you have 13 layers or have used all of the batter. Begin filling layers with frosting as they cool and stack.


3 cups granulated sugar

6 Tbsp. cocoa

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 large can evaporated milk

1 Tbsp. vanilla

6 Tbsp. cocoa

In a four-quart saucepan, combine sugar and cocoa. Stir in butter and milk. Bring to a rolling boil cook for four minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Keep frosting warm to maintain spreading consistency.


Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Billy Capps created this years ago by adapting the ingredients to achieve a blending of flavors.

1 gallon Hunts Ketchup

1 qt. vinegar

1 lb. Parkay margarine

8 oz. French’s mustard

2 or 3 oz. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. salt

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

3 or 4 oz. Worcestershire sauce

3 cups brown sugar

Mix all ingredients in a big heavy pot. Stir often and heat thoroughly, but do not boil.


Gertrude Capps’ Brunswick Stew

1 (6 to 7 lb.) hen

4 lb. fresh pork

Saved chicken stock from boiling hen

3 medium onions, ground

Four 15 oz. cans stewed tomatoes

1 qt. Hunts ketchup

3 Tbsp. French’s mustard

Juice of 3 to 4 lemons

½ tsp. red pepper

1 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce or to taste

4 oz. Worcestershire sauce or to taste

Three 15 oz. cans Pride of Illinois white cream style corn

Boil hen and pork in separate pots of water until done. Save hen broth. Pull all meat into small pieces and mix.

Combine meats, tomatoes, onions, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, red pepper and Tabasco sauce in a large heavy boiler. Wait to add the corn, as it will stick.

Add enough hen broth to get stew as you would like, either thick or thin. You may always add more. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly.

Bring to a low boil, then add corn and cut off heat. Still stir to keep corn from sticking. You can add more or less of the ingredients to your liking. Freezes well. Make sure you use good name brand ingredients.


German Chocolate Upside Down Cake

June Jenkins

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

1 box German chocolate cake mix

1 stick margarine

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

1 (16 oz.) box powdered sugar

Combine coconut and nuts together and pat in the bottom of a greased 9 x 13-inch dish. Prepare cake mix according to the package directions. Pour this over the coconut and pecans mixture.

Place margarine and cream cheese in a saucepan and heat until mixture is warm enough to stir in powdered sugar. Mix well and spoon this over the top of cake. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool and cut in squares.


Chunky Macadamia Nut-White Chocolate Cookies

Mary Ann Himmelwright

2 cups flour

¾ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

½ cup unsalted butter

½ cup shortening

¾ cup light brown sugar

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 large egg

1½ tsp. vanilla

8 oz. white chocolate chips

7 oz. salted, whole Macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside. Beat butter and shortening until lightened; add sugars and beat until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla, then beat in dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate and nuts. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets about 2 ½ inches apart. Flatten tops slightly with spatula.

Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove sheets from oven and let stand 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Store in airtight containers. May be frozen.


Italian Cream Cake

Bernice Capps

1 stick Oleo (margarine or butter), room temperature

½ cup shortening (Crisco butter flavored)

2 cups sugar

5 eggs, separated

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. soda

1 cup buttermilk

1 Tbsp. vanilla

1 small can shredded coconut

Cream shortenings; add sugar gradually while beating well. Add egg yolks one at a time. Add flour alternating with buttermilk stirred with 1 tsp. of soda, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in vanilla and coconut.

Beat egg whites until forms  stiff soft peaks. Stir into mixture. Spray Pam into three 9-inch pans. Pour in batter and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until tests done when a toothpick is inserted near the center and comes out clean. Cool layers on rack.

When cool, frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1½ boxes confectioners’ sugar

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature

(4 oz. cream cheese, (half of 9 oz. pkg.), room temperature

1½ sticks margarine, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts

Cream margarine and cream cheeses. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat well. Stir in vanilla and chopped nuts. Frost cooled cake.


Old Fashion Lemon Cheesecake

Cordelia Walker

3/4 cup shortening

1 1/3 cups sugar

2 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

5 egg whites

1/3 cup sugar for egg whites

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Beat after each addition until smooth.

Beat egg whites until foamy. Add 1/3 cup sugar gradually, beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks. Fold into batter. Add vanilla.

Coat three cake pans 8 ½ x 1 ½ inch with nonstick spray. Bake in moderate oven 375 degrees until cake browns and leaves the sides. Test with toothpick placed near the center and comes out clean.

Lemon Cheese Filling:

1 whole egg

5 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1 stick Oleo or butter

Juice of 2 lemons

Cook in double boiler. Mix egg yolks, egg, sugar, oleo and lemon juice in top of double boiler. Cook until thick, stirring often. Remove from stove, let cool and beat until thick enough to spread.


Strawberry Cake

Bernice Capps

1 box white cake mix

3 Tbsp. flour (heaping)

½ pkg. strawberry gelatin (whole pkg. may be used for stronger flavor)

1 cup salad oil

4 eggs

1 pkg. frozen strawberries, thawed

Mix cake mix, flour and gelatin. Add oil. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add berries and juice. Mix well. Bake in 3 greased 9-inch cake pans at 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Strawberry Icing:

1 box powdered sugar

½ stick butter, room temperature

10 oz. box frozen strawberries, drained well

Cream butter and sugar. Gradually add strawberries until spreading consistency.


Buttermilk Pies

Glenda Jenkins Eubanks

Glenda grew up at Watoola, married and moved away. She and her husband Tex return for the barbecue and bring lots of their homemade Buttermilk Pies.

5 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 stick melted butter

2 tsp. flour

2 unbaked regular pie shells

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat filling together. Pour into two unbaked pie shells. Bake 45 minutes until lightly set in the middle (they will firm up as they cool).


Caramel Icing

Linda Baker for Louise Mullins

Use icing on a yellow cake.

½ cup sugar for browning

3 cups sugar

1½ sticks margarine

7½ oz. evaporated milk

1½ Tbsp. flour

Brown ½ cup sugar in iron skillet (use a small one.) While sugar is browning, add other ingredients to a heavy boiler and bring to a boil. Mix browned sugar with mixture and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and beat until ready to put on cool cake. Enough frosting for 3 layers.


Chocolate Cheese Fudge

Amy Mullins

½ lb. Velveeta Cheese

1 cup butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts (pecan or walnuts)

2 (16 oz.) boxes confectioners’ sugar

½ cup cocoa powder

Spray bottom of 9 x 12 inch pan with Pam. In saucepan, over medium heat, melt cheese and butter. Remove from heat and add vanilla and nuts.

In large bowl sift together cocoa and powdered sugar. Add the cheese-butter mix and mix well. The candy will be very stiff. Use hands to pat candy in pan. Pat top with a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Place pan in refrigerator until candy is firm. Cut in squares.


Mrs. Ken Strother’s Mama’s Jam Cake

Cordelia Walker

2 cups sifted cake flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg tsp. allspice

3/4 cup shortening or butter

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup sour cream (or buttermilk)

½ cup preserves or jam (I use blackberry jam or apricot preserves)

3 eggs

½ cup chopped nuts

½ cup seedless raisins, optional

Sift flour, soda, baking powder, salt and spices together three times. Cream shortening with sugar until fluffy. Add jam and sour cream (or buttermilk), mixing well.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add sifted dry ingredients gradually, beating well. Fold in nuts and raisins. Pour in greased and floured loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Or bake in two 9 inch layer pans at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Top with your favorite white icing, decorating the top with whole nuts.

Note: I usually make my own jam of about equal parts dried apples and apricots cooked until tender, then mashed together. Make jam of equal parts sugar and fruit. Cook until thick and stir very often to avoid scorching.


Red Velvet Cake

Cordelia Walker

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 stick Oleo or butter, room temperature

1 cup Wesson oil

1 tsp. white vinegar

1 oz. red food color

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover three cake pans with foil; spray with nonstick spray.

Beat sugar and eggs.

Combine buttermilk, softened butter, vinegar, oil and food color; stir until combined.

Combine dry ingredients; flour and baking soda; stir with a fork until well combined. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk-oil mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in vanilla.

Pour mixture into pans and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick tests done. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick Oleo or butter, room temperature

1 box confectioners’ sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

Cream together cream cheese and butter; add sugar. Stir in nuts.

Spread frosting between layers and over cake.


Almond Delight

Emma Gooden prepared this recipe for many years.

½ cup light brown sugar

2 cups sliced almonds

2 cups plain flour

1 small can of coconut

2 sticks margarine or butter


2 ½ cups milk

12 oz. Cool Whip

2 small instant vanilla Jell-O puddings

Mix brown sugar, almonds, flour, coconut and margarine together. Bake on cookie sheet for 45 minutes at 325 degrees or until brown, stirring several times. Should be golden brown. Melt margarine in microwave before mixing with the dry ingredients.


Mix milk and pudding. Stir in Cool Whip. Place half of the dry ingredients on the bottom of oblong dish. Then spoon the filling in, then top with other half of the dry ingredients. Chill before serving.


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