is the same
16 For God so
loved the world,
that he gave
his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him
perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God
sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;
but that the
world through him might be saved.
18 He that
believeth on him is not condemned: but he that
believeth not is condemned already, because he
hath not believed
in the name of
the only begotten Son of God.
Early settlements in northern
Hamilton County were on the banks of Honey Creek at the
Trading Post (Old Hico) eighteen miles north of
Hamilton in 1856. The
first Baptist church in Hamilton County was Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist
Church (1861-1891). Mt. Zion Baptist Church was located at Old
L. D. Stringer and Rev. A. D. Maroney, ministers from the Leon River
Baptist Association were instrumental in founding Mt. Zion Missionary
Baptist Church. In conjunction with founding this church, Isaac Reed was
ordained and became its first pastor. Mt. Zion and Honey Creek Baptist
Churches were members of the Leon River Baptist Association prior to the
formation of the Bosque River Baptist Association. In 1864 Daniel S. Babb
was licensed as a Baptist minister by Mt. Zion. Honey Creek Baptist Church
was established in 1867 and again in 1871. The Leon River Baptist
Association, the twenty-second Baptist Association to be formed in Texas,
had been established September 24, 1858. The thirty-sixth Baptist
association created in Texas was the Bosque River Baptist Association on
Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist
became Hico Baptist Church when the town moved to the railroad on the
banks of the Bosque River. Mt. Zion Baptist Church was admitted to the
Hamilton County Baptist Association on September 9, 1888, and was
dissolved in 1891 being replaced by Hico Baptist Church.
The Baptists in the village of
Hamilton trace their beginning to 1873. Dr. Donavon Duncan Tidwell
recorded the history of a ten day revival held during the Fall of 1873 by
Daniel S. Babb, Edmund Eldred Sellers and R. S. Underwood. As the result
of this revival three people were baptized into the nearest Baptist
Church, the Leon Baptist Church, seven miles from Hamilton.
Church at Snowville was
founded in the spring of 1873 by Rev. Daniel S. Babb, and Rev. J. M.
Wright, missionaries of the Leon River Baptist Association. The location
of this Leon Baptist Church was Snowville--near the spot where Hwy. 22
crosses the Leon River. Messengers from this church attended the
organizational meeting of the
Hamilton County Baptist Association on July
4, 1877. After being dismissed from the Leon River Baptist Association on
August 10, 1877, the Leon Baptist Church became part of the
Hamilton County Baptist Association on October 12, 1877. This church was active
from 1873 until 1883 and was the first of three different churches bearing
the name--Leon Baptist Church.
The Hamilton Missionary Baptist Church with eighteen
members was admitted to the Leon River Association in 1874. At this time
the 1874 minutes of the Leon River Association are not available; however,
the Hamilton Baptist Church was enumerated as a member church of that
association in 1875 without a notation that a petitionary letter was
received from Hamilton. Furthermore, Hamilton Missionary Baptist Church
was not included in the roster of member churches of the Leon River
Association in 1873.
Many churches have been a part of
Hamilton Baptist Association (HBA) originally named Hamilton County
(TX) Baptist Association (HCBA), and then Hamilton County Missionary
Baptist Association, since its founding in 1877. There exists variances
about the time and place HCBA was formed. Since records of the
organizational meeting have not been found, all available accounts of its
organization are included, although now there is more evidence to support
July 4,1877, as the day on which HCBA was formed.
The title page of the 1878 minutes of Hamilton County
Baptist Association which met September 7, 1878, with the Pleasant
Valley Baptist Church bears the title "Minutes of the SECOND
Annual Session of the Hamilton County Baptist Association." This
would give the impression that the first session occurred in 1877.
Chronologically the first report in Minutes of Annual
Associations meetings about the establishment of Hamilton County Baptist
Association occurred in the Sunday School report in 1898 at the Annual
Session held at Mt. Olive Baptist Church
"Your committee on Sunday Schools beg leave to
make the following report:
"Since the organization of the Hamilton County
Association at Cottonwood Springs near
the town of Evant on July 4, 1877,
we have watched with interest the progress of the Sunday School work. Much
has been done in the past, but a vast deal needs yet to be done to
establish Sunday Schools where there are none, and to make more effective
those now in existence. ... ..."
J. C. Rodgers
J. C. Rodgers of Hico
was clerk of HCBA in 1899, 1900, 1901, and 1903.
The next historical information in Associational
Minutes was presented in 1913 when Wade D. Vinson, Associational
Missionary recounted this history of the formation of the
Hamilton County Baptist Association.
"In May, 1876, there were messengers
representing several churches met [sic] with the Old Sweet
Home church at Evant and
organized a new association called the Hamilton County Baptist
Association, its territory to consist of Hamilton County. The object of
which was to cultivate a spirit of union and fellowship among the
churches, to arouse an awakening of Christian education, and the spread of
the Gospel to the destitute places of the earth, and especially to
maintain a missionary on her own field. Among the dear old saints who are
now in Glory many had hard fought battles to preserve and maintain the
spirit and object of its organization. Hamilton County has been a
denominational battle ground. All of our struggles did not come from
without or from other denominations, but from within our own camps. Along
through the nineties there were hard struggles with the Martinites, which
lasted several years and which resulted in the exclusion of several
preachers from the Association in order to have peace and harmony among
the churches. Again, the cause of missions was greatly hindered by the
influence of the Hardshells, Anti-Missionaries and Gospel Missionaries,
and during these wars and rumors of wars Christian education was almost
altogether neglected. But God has tenderly and steadily led His never
tiring and faithful ones through the dark wilderness of wars and struggles
until they now stand on Canaan’s Shore of peace, harmony, missionary and
Christian educational endeavors. The history of Hamilton County
Association is very interesting. It is one of the oldest association in
Middle Texas. The old preachers and laity too, many of whom are dead and
gone to their reward, deserve much credit and honor for the manner in
which they stood for Baptist polity and doctrine. They laid well the
foundation of education and missions on which we should build as wise
master builders. Again, it is interesting because of its territory and
population. Its territory consists of 858 square miles, with fertility of
soil that is calculated to double its population within the next twenty
years. Our population is not so great as some of our neighbor counties
which were organized long after ours. Some of the causes of the same have
been removed and now our population is increasing rapidly. We have about
16,000 people in the county, of that number there about 1000 foreigners
with very little efforts to help them religiously. There are 2,238 Baptist
in our association, a mighty host, and if they all had a mind to work in a
very short time old Hamilton County Association would take her place among
the most active of progressive Associations of the State."
which is the more frequently identified site of the organizational meeting
for Hamilton County Baptist Association was located on the east side of
the Lampasas River and west of the
current Fairview Baptist Church.
It was near where Hwy. 84 crosses the Lampasas River.
Arvord M. Abernethy, noted historian of both Hamilton
County and of Hamilton County Baptist Association recorded the following
in "Centennial History of Hamilton County Baptist Association"
which he wrote for the 1976 HCBA celebration:
"The population of Hamilton County grew from 733
in 1870 to 6,385 in 1880, so this was a decade of rapid expansion among
many church groups. With the organization of several Baptist churches, and
since the Leon River Baptist Association included churches from seven
counties, there came a need for a new association. On July 4, 1876, a
group of interested Baptists met at Cottonwood
Springs, which was in the Evant
vicinity, and organized the Hamilton County Baptist Association."
Mr. Abernethy served as Clerk of HCBA longer than any
other person--from 1953 through 1979, and later served as Treasurer of
Another able historian of Hamilton County Baptist,
Dr. Donavon Duncan Tidwell, recorded the founding date as July 4, 1877.
"There was some discussion of forming an
association in Hamilton County in the fall of 1876 but since Brother Byars
was the only ordained Baptist minister residing in the county at that time
it was thought best to postpone the matter until the following summer.
Accordingly on July 4, 1877, representatives from either seven or nine
churches (accounts vary) met at Cottonwood Springs a mile and a half from
Evant, and organized the Hamilton County Baptist Association. Rev. Noah T.
Byars presided over the convention as president and Rev. D. I. Haralson
served as secretary. Brother Byars stated that since the devil did so much
work on the Fourth of July that he thought it would be well to do some
work for the Lord that day!"
Minutes of the organization convention and the first
annual session are not available but the following churches were
apparently represented at the Cottonwood Spring convention: Bennet
Creek (now Center City in Mills
County), Coryell, Cottage
Hill, Friendship, New
Providence, Pleasant Valley, and Sweet
Home (now Evant). All of these
were newly formed churches and unaffiliated with any association. Since
there are eight of these churches it is possible that one may not have
participated in the organization and affiliated at the first annual
session three months later. Three churches of the Leon River Association
were also represented but did not enter into the formation of Hamilton
County Association as letters of dismission were granted them on August
12, 1877. These three churches, Hamilton, Leon
and Plum Creek, then affiliated with
the Hamilton County association when it met with the Plum Creek Church in
its first annual session beginning on Friday, October 12, 1877.
Hamilton County native, Dr. Tidwell, pastored
churches in Hamilton County during his early years before he became a
Bible professor at Howard Payne College in Brownwood, TX.
Two churches-- Pleasant
Valley and Sweet Home (now First
Baptist Church, Evant) were founded after July 4, 1876, but before July 4,
1877, adding evidence that Hamilton County Baptist Association was not
organized on July 4, 1876. Pleasant Valley Baptist Church was organized
September 10, 1876, and Sweet Home Baptist Church was founded April 12,
According to all accounts the first annual session
was in the Fall of 1877-- October 12, 1877. Both the July 4 organizational
meeting and the first annual associational meeting occurred in 1877. The
Hamilton County Baptist Association became the fifty-sixth Baptist
association to be formed in the state of Texas when it was established on
July 4, 1877.
Hamilton teacher, Captain Alfred Haynes Watson (who
had lost an arm in the Battle of Gettysburg), invited the church which was
to become First Baptist Church to hold monthly services in the school
building in the 500 block of East Henry until after 1880 when the Presbyterian
Church invited the Baptists to share their building. On August 24,
1888, Alfred Haynes Watson, W. W. Kilpatrick, George H. Robbins, S. J.
Allen, and G. R. Freeman, trustees of the Baptist Church in Hamilton
purchased Lot No. 3, in Block No. 11 of the original town of Hamilton from
Mr. and Mrs. S. W. Walker for $30 for the church. It was not until 1896
that a church building was erected on this property on South Bell. The
first church was a native stone edifice constructed by James Malcolm
"Jim" Tomlinson. After this building was destroyed by fire in
1924, the Baptists met in the courthouse until a brick building could be
completed in 1925. Following the construction of the second church
building, George Morrow Carlton gave a pipe organ to First Baptist Church
in memory of his first wife Fronia Adams Carlton who had died in 1921. Mr.
Carlton’s second wife, Mrs. Marcie (Wysong) Carlton, was organist for
many years. In 1970 fire again destroyed the First Baptist Church and the
current building was constructed the following year.
9 But as it is
Eye hath not
seen, nor ear heard,
entered into the heart of man,
which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10 But God
hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit
searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
BAPTIST CHURCH OF HAMILTON
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, 1896-1897
YEAR BY YEAR, 1873 - 1899
YEAR BY YEAR, 1900 - 1925
YEAR BY YEAR 1926 - 1950
YEAR BY YEAR 1951 - 1975
YEAR BY YEAR 1976 - 1998
A HISTORY OF FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, HAMILTON
TABLE OF CONTENTS