WESLEY, on the Austin-Washington County line in far Northwest Austin County, has been populated since the 1840s. Scottish immigrants first settled here in 1852, arriving from the Southern states. They purchased land in league proportions, 4,428 acres, and brought a small colony of settlers (mostly relatives: Carmichaels, McCloeds, McLeans, McGregors and Campbells) to settle here. They farmed plantation style. After the Civil War, the land was subdivided and sold to Germans, Czechs and Anglo-Americans as the Scots left the area. Czech immigrants were here in 1858 and a community developed called “Veseli,” meaning joyous or happy, later anglicized to Wesley.
Wesley Brethren Church, a Protestant Czech-Moravian Brethren Church, the first of its kind in Texas, was organized here in 1864. In 1866, church members built a one-room single story rectangular wood frame church. The faintly Greek Revival structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1888-89, the minister, B. Emil Lacjak, an untrained artist, began to paint the church interior for decorative and symbolic embellishment. His goal was to create a larger, richer appearance for the building, but work was left unfinished when he met an untimely death. A master plan was never revealed and was lost with the pastor. The primitive two-dimensional folk art has classical elements and remains an intrigue for viewers interpretation.
A new sanctuary is used for religious services, and the historic church now serves as a museum and symbolic seat of Czech-Moravian Brethren Faith in Texas. It is an irreplaceable cultural resource and is the oldest painted church. Visits are by appointment only. Call (979) 836-5196 or (979) 830-7741.