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Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church was the third church organized near Langford Cove/Evant. Rev. Noah Turner Byars organized this church on 12 April, 1877, in the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Washington Griggs  who lived in Hamilton County about six miles northeast of the present town of Evant. In addition to Bro. Noah Turner Byars and Mr. and Mrs. Griggs, other adults present were Mr. and Mrs. Dave W. White and Mr. and Mrs. Donahue.  In 1848 Byars was the first missionary appointed by the Texas Baptist Convention.

The Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church participated in the organization of the Hamilton County Baptist Association on 4 July, 1877, at the Cottonwood Springs SchoolNoah Turner Byars was an itinerant preacher who traveled from one settlement to another holding “protracted meetings” and organizing churches. As the congregation outgrew the Griggs’ log cabin home and a brush arbor, and then a church building were erected about three or four miles west of the Griggs’ home. The first pastor was likely Presley O’Keefe, who also taught school in Langford Cove.

In 1885 Sweet Home Baptist Church built the first church building in the town of Evant. Being paid for by subscription, the church was dedicated by Dr. R. C. Buckner on the second Sunday in May, 1892. Since services were held only once a month, the Baptist congregation shared their building with the Methodist congregation.

In 1913 the name of Sweet Home Baptist Church was changed to Evant Baptist Church.

llen Boone DeHart pastored this church from September 20, 1931, through August, 1935. Some of those who became members during his ministry were: Mrs. Josh Massingill, Mr. Charlie Massingill, Mrs. Monroe Smith, Miss Vollie Perkins, Mr. William McDonald, Miss Bernice Kinsey, Miss Jessie Massingill, Mildred DeHart, Doris Jean Sawyer, Iona Frasure, Van Dean Winters, Charles Curtis Longmire, Lawrence Lane, Mr. Putman Sawyer, Robert Norman Hamilton, Troy Massingill, Mrs. Mary Penson, Miss Fay Massingill, Mr. Charlie Huell, Mr. Happy Stewart, Mrs. Joe Griffis, and Mrs. John Henry.

P. W. Springfield was the first full-time pastor in 1943. His salary was ninety dollars a month plus rent and utilities. During his ministry an educational annex and baptistry were added. A second annex was added in 1948.

fbc_1In 1955 a new brick building was built with 7760 square feet. The first service in the new sanctuary which seated 300, was held on 2 October, 1955, when Billy Butts was pastor.

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Early pastors of Sweet Home Baptist Church were:

  • Presley O’Keefe–1878-1879
  • D. I. Haralson–1881-1886, 1886
  • D. W. White–1887, 1890–1897
  • G. W. Herrington–1888
  • J. C. Combs–1889
  • W. N. White, 1898
  • Pinkney Hawkins, 1899

Early church clerks were:

  • W. B. Wright–1881
  • J. W. Brooks–1882–1883
  • S. C. Smith–1884, 1886
  • S. E. Smith–1885
  • J. R. Carter–1887–1891
  • P. H. Young, 1892–1894
  • James White, 1895
  • J. R. White, 1896–1897
  • R. S. Griggs, 1898
  • A. T. Stamp, 1899

Early messengers to the association were:

  • 1878–D. W. White, J. W. Howard, and W. N. White
  • 1879–D. W. White, J. W. Howard, and J. P. Murphree
  • 1881–D. W. White, and J. P. Murphy; Elder D. W. White and W. B. Wright
  • 1883–W. B. Wright and D. E. Eliott
  • 1884–D. W. White, W. B. Wright, and George Griggs
  • 1885–D. N. White and W. B. Wright
  • 1886–D. W. White
  • 1887–Elder D. W. White, A. J. Culpepper, and J. W. Maness
  • 1888 and 1889–D. W. White
  • 1890– D. W. White, S. E. Smith, A. J. Culpepper
  • 1891–D. W. White, T. W. Kirkland, J. R. Carter
  • 1892–D. W. White, P. H. Young
  • 1893–D. W. White, W. N. White, P. H. Young, J. R. White
  • 1895–D. W. White, W. N. White, Dr. R. L. Howell, P. H. Young
  • 1896–D. W. White, W. N. White, J. T. White, P. H. Young
  • 1897–Rev.’s D. W. White, W. N. White, W. M. Howell, Brethren G. H. Singleton, P. H. Howell
  • 1898–Rev. W. N. White, Brethren P. H. Young, J. A. Sheffield, R. S. Griggs, G. H. Singleton
  • 1899–A. T. Stamp, P. H. Young, E. B. White, and Rev. W. N. White.

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Dry Fork  School
Dry Fork School

Dry Fork Community was about a mile northeast  of Olin Baptist Church between Turkey Branch and Dry Fork Creek.   Dry Fork of Honey Creek was a small branch of Honey Creek northeast of Olin.  Dry Fork Creek begins east of Olin and is parallel to US281 until it reaches Honey Creek north of CR 207.  It is near what is now County Road 239 and between CR206 and CR207. It is about thirteen miles north of Hamilton.

Dry Fork was one of the earliest schools in Hamilton County being organized in 1880 by the people of the community who built a log building to house the school and donated money to employ a teacher. Dry Fork was northeast of Olin on the Dry Fork of Honey Creek. near what is now County Road 239 and between CR206 and CR207.. It is about thirteen miles north of Hamilton.

Citizens of the Dry Fork School Community have included: Garland and Minnie Ables, Murrell and Daphna Ables, T. J. and Minnie Box, Elmer and Myrtle Bullard, D. C. and Alice Bullard, James P. Columbus, Lewis and Sarah Columbus, Jesse J. and Mattie Douglas, Giles and Emma Driver, Henry Giles and Mary Driver, B. W. Greer, M. R. Hedgpeth, Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Hicks, G. W. and Ila Hicks, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Johns, John and Susan Latham, Ed and Maybell Lively, O. D. and Emma Montgomery, W. E. and Virgie Needham, Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Seago, John and Mattie A. Smith, W. C. and Vienna Stark, Reuben Anthony and Sophia Jean Bullard Trantham, Robert Erwin and Rosa Ann Gallagher Gordon, Sr., and M. A. Vann. Jim Columbus, with his parents, came to the Dry Fork Community in 1880.

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Circa 2003 by Rev. David Keith

Circa 2003 by Rev. David Keith

On Saturday before the fourth Sunday in March, 1878, Carlton Baptist Church was organized. T. M. Byers was the moderator and J. M. Evans was church clerk. The first pastor was Rev. R. M. Cumbie and the first deacons were Dewey Pierce, J. A. Rowland, Martin Jones, and Joe Hicks. J. A. Rowland was the first Sunday School superintendent.

Charter members were F. M. and Mary Carlton, R. M. and Mollie Cumbie, W. J. and Nancy Hicks, J. M. and S. J. Evans, J. R. and Martha J. Nix, J. P. Nix, C. A. Miller, James Nix, Callie Center, William Miller, Bettie Smith, James S. Carlton, Cynthia Pierce, Drewry Pierce, Nancy Pierce, Napoleon Pierce, Penelope McCarty, and James S. McCarty.

R. M. Cumbie was born 1 January, 1849, in Barber County, AL.  Converted at the age of 20, he was baptized by D. B. Burt into the Damascus Church.  He came to Texas in 1870 and was licensed by Concord Church of Henderson County.  Cumbie was ordained by Carlton Baptist Church on the third Sunday of November, 1881.

Carlton Baptist Church was admitted to the Comanche Baptist Association prior to 2 September, 1881, when Carlton hosted the Comanche Baptist Annual meeting.

No rain fell in Hamilton County from January, 1886, until August 31, 1887; hence severe drought conditions prevailed.  The Saturday morning session of the Comanche Association  in September, 1887 adjourned to the river bank for a baptismal service.  Sixteen of those baptized were from Carlton.

On 3 December, 1885, R. M. Cumbie, Drewry Pierce, H. L. Lynch, J. E. Stringer, J. H. Everett, and J. T. Cumbie, Trustees of Carlton Baptist Church purchased for ten dollars from W. C. Murphree and wife, D. A. Murphree, a tract of land on which to build a church house.

The first church was a one room structure. Carlton Baptist Church was admitted into the Hamilton County Baptist Association on 14 August, 1891.

Interior of the auditorun taken around 1997.

Interior of the worship center taken around 1997.

Early pastors were:

  • J. H. Vinson, 1891–1895
  • J. H. Cunningham, 1896–1897
  • J. T. Beam, 1898–1899
  • T. P. Speakman, 1901

Early church clerks were:

  • J. C. Finley, 1891-1900
  • W. McKenzie–1901

Early messengers to the annual association meeting were:

  • 1891–W. Graham, F. M. Richburg
  • 1892–W. Graham, J. W. Porter, F. M. Richburg, James Wilson McKenzie
  • 1893–J. H. Vinson, A. Boatwright, F. M. Richburg
  • 1894–J. N. Adams, J. W. Richburg
  • 1895–Warren Graham, James Wilson McKenzie, J. N. Adams, B. G. Richbourg, J. H. Vinson, J. W. Porter, Randolph Hunter “Randall” Gibson
  • 1896–F. M. Richbourg, J. C. Finley, Warren Graham, J. W. Porter, Randolph Hunter “Randall” Gibson
  • 1897–A. L. Fisher, James Wilson McKenzie, A. G. Bingham, Rev. Warren Graham
  • 1898–James Wilson McKenzie, R. Adams, V. B. Mitchell, J. M. Adams, Sisters Lou Mitchell and Orelia McKenzie
  • 1899–Revs. Randolph Hunter “Randall” Gibson, J. T. Beam, Warren Graham, and Brethren J. M. Adams, James Wilson McKenzie, F. M. Richbourg, W. S. Fisher
  • 1900–James Wilson McKenzie, Rev. Warren Graham, J. A. Rowland, Sister Orelia McKenzie
  • 1901–J. T. Gibson, James Wilson McKenzie, J. A. Rowland, J. W. Richbourg, Randolph Hunter “Randall” Gibson, M. L. Gibson

A new church building was completed in September, 1917 by J. L. Thompson. This was the last building Mr Thompson built before his death. The first couple married in the new church were Rev. Clarence Allen Morton and Miss Hallie Adams. The baptistry was added in 1945. On 25 October, 1953, an educational building was dedicated. The parsonage was remodeled in 1977.

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Front view of the church.

Directions: From the southeast corner of the courthouse square in Hamilton (intersection of Hwy. 36 and Bell Street) proceed east (toward Gatesville) 3 blocks.  Turn right (south) on Reagan Street which will also be FM 932 & FM 1241.  After 5 blocks FM 932/1241 turns left on Standefer Street for one block and  right on S. Dempster Street.  Four block later FM932/1241 turns left (east) and leaves Hamilton.  Almost a mile out of Hamilton FM 932 turns left to Aleman and FM1241 continues straight.  Stay on FM1241 about 3.5 miles.  Watch for a church-shaped sign (across the road from a tall faded-pink water tower) pointing to Blue Ridge Baptist Church.  Two gravel roads join FM1241 at this point. The west portion of the Blue Ridge Cemetery will be on the left side of the road. Take the gravel road on the left and proceed east to the end of the road.

The Blue Ridge Baptist Church was organized 10 July, 1880, as the Blue Ridge Missionary Baptist Church of Christ and my great-grandparents, James Lemuel Grisham, Sr. and his wife Margaret Amanda Jones Grisham were among the charter members. When Margaret Amanda Jones Grisham died 18 November, 1936, she was the last remaining charter member. Other charter members were William Robert Richey, Sarah Ann Wright Richey, and likely W. S. Stephens.

Church Deed

Church Deed

Apparently Blue Ridge was admitted to the Hamilton County Baptist Association in 1880 (one of only two years for which associational minutes are not available.) This church has the last remaining tabernacle (which was built in 1912) in Hamilton County. On 24 January, 1891, a lot was purchased from John Hannah Brown for the sum of ten dollars. (Hamilton County Deed Records, Book 6, Page 172.) On 30 April, 1892, James William Massie was given a contract to build a church building by the building committee which was composed of John Hannah Brown, Christopher Columbus Powell, James Marion Allen, L. P. Foster, and E. A. Willis. Massie would be paid $100 on 1 November, 1892, and fifty dollars in work. He was to construct a 44 ft by 26 ft building within three months. In 1923 the church was remodeled with a south wing added so that the building was “T-shaped.” A Delco power plant was added at this time to provide lighting. Electricity was added in 1939. A Sunday School room was added on the east side in 1976. In 1988 the Texas Baptist Men built a fellowship hall with a kitchen, bathrooms, and water.

Blue Ridge Church with the Tabernacle to the left.

Blue Ridge Church with the Tabernacle to the left.

My father, Robert Verne Crain, was a deacon and treasurer in this church for many years. My mother, Clara Elsie Fergusson Crain, taught the ladies Sunday School and was Church Clerk for many years. I was church pianist during my years of high school

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Agee is a small community tucked between Fairy and Lanham on FM 1602 eleven miles northeast of Hamilton. It was named for Dr. William Absalom Agee, a medical doctor, dentist, merchant, and ordained Baptist preacher. Dr. Agee, an Alabama native, moved into Hamilton County at least in 1896.

The Agee Post Office was in the  home of Dr. William A. Agee from 11 September, 1897, to 14 October, 1905, and his wife, Narcissa Caroline (Freeman) Agee, was the postmistress.

Agee School existed for a several years. Presley Curry taught in the Agee School.  Before 1936 the Agee School consolidated with the Fairy School. In 1936 E. C. Allison drove the school bus from Agee to Fairy and Agee School board members were J. D. Patterson, C. M. Tinkle, and J. M. Blacklock

1900-1992, picture was taken around 1997.
1900-1992, picture was taken around 1997.

Dr. and Mrs. Agee, and a daughter, Mr. and Mrs. John Little Anglin, Sr., and Nanna Stockton were charter members of the Agee Baptist Church which was formed 1 July, 1900. On 15 June, 1901, John Little Anglin, Sr. and G. B. Covey, deacons of the Missionary Baptist Church at Agee received a tract of land as a gift from Isaac Massengill who gave the land “to further the cause of Christianity at Agee.” Massengill signed the deed with his mark. The deed was notarized by C. P. Woodward at Fairy, TX, and was recorded in Hamilton County Deed Book, Vol. 22, p. 60. The land was described as being situated in Hamilton County, and was a tract of land of the Isaac Massengill Subdivision of the John Riley Survey, on the waters of Leon River and on the Hico-Jonesboro Road.

The Agee Baptist Church disbanded in July, 1992, and  the building was used for a Spanish-speaking mission, Nueva Vision Iglesia sponsored by Fairy Baptist Church and the Tri-Rivers Baptist Association for several yeas.

Lanham Baptist Church apparently changed its name to Agee Baptist Church in 1900. Lanham Baptist Church was admitted to Hamilton County Baptist Association 16 August, 1900. The minutes of Hamilton County Baptist Association do not record the admission of Agee Baptist Church despite the fact that it actively participated in the association for over ninety years.

Early pastors of Agee Baptist Church have included:

J. T. Beam, 1901–1902

F. M. Walker, 1903

J. T. Adams, 1904–1905

Randolph Hunter “Randall” Gibson, 1906

John Seymour Deaton, 1907–1910

Early church clerks included:

John L. Anglin–1900 (Lanham)

John L. Anglin, 1901–1905 (Agee)

R. A. Driver, 1906–1910

Early messengers to the annual association meeting were:

1900–(Lanham) Rev. William Absalom Agee, John L. Anglin, Sr., John L. Anglin, Jr.;

1901–William Absalom Agee, John L. Anglin, Jr.;

1902–John L. Anglin, Jr.;

1903—William Absalom Agee, John L. Anglin, R. A. Barrett;

1904–J. P. Stockton, J. Jameson, John Anglin;

1905–Joshua Iredell Jameson, John L. Anglin, Jr., Willie Driver;

1906–R. A. Driver, J. A. Anderson;

1907–J. J. Vinson, W. T. Driver, J. A. Anderson

1908–J. J. Vinson, W. L. Franklin

1909–J. J. Vinson, J. S. Webber, R. A. Driver

1910–J. S. Webber, William Absalom Agee

1911–R. A. Driver, William Absalom Agee, J. M. Blakely, and J. J. Vinson — ECW

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