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Clark Street Christian Church

FOUNDING

Clark Street Christian Church was organized by Elder Charles C. Haley in August 1865, on the present location, 1402 Clark.

At the time of the organization, members of the Wesley Chapel Colored Methodist Church and members of the Christian Church worshipped in the same building.  Later the Methodist congregation purchased a site on East Henry.

The Christian Church at that time was one-half mile from the Court House and the place was known as "Across the Thicked." Later it took its name from its location on Clark Street.

The first services were held in a one room school house.

The deed to the church property was dated September 12, 1883.

Rev. L.H. Crawford built the first brick Christian church on Clark St. in 1916.  This building was used until March, 1970.  A pavilion was built on the west side of the church and used for picnics, band concerts, carnivals and programs; proceeds helped the church indebetedness.

During the ministry of Elder S.J. Compton (1964-1966), a much stronger building program was initiated and a centennial homecoming was held.

The church was without a pastor during two periods in its history.  During 1963, Elder W.P. Fudgen and Elder Henry Payne volunteered their services to keep the church doors open. Again from 1966-1968, Elder Fudge [sic] and Elder Tommie D. Cole Sr. carried on the services.

The present pastor, C.L. Faulkner, came to the church in february, 1968.

In October, 1970, the church opened a new $60,000 building with visiting ministers and dignitaries speaking in a week of services.  The new structure has seating for 350 in the sanctuary, and also includes offices, a pastor's study, nursery, and choir rooms.

THE FOUNDER

The founder of Greenville's Clark Street Christian Church began life as a slave on a plantation in Platt County, Mo.

Charles C. Haley was born in 1838, and while still a young boy, was taken with his mother and brother to Memphis, Tenn. to be sold.  There the family was placed in a barbed wire compound with other slaves.

His mother was eventually re-purchased by her original master and was takenback to Missouri.  The two brothers were sold to a Mr. Reed who took them to Arkansas and changed their names to Reed.

When rumors about a possible Civil War began, the Reeds decided to move to Texas which had not yet joined the Union and still permitted slavery.  The wagons were loaded and the Reed slaves walked alongside them from Arkansas to the family's new home near Farmersville, Texas.

In spite of all the difficulties of the move, it proved to be a changing point in Charles Reed's life.  One of the Reed daughters, sympathetic to another young slave, Israel Dean, taught the boy to read and write through the sixth grade level.  As Dean learned, he taught his friend Charles to read and write.  Finally both boys began to take secret school lessons from the master's daughter.

They spent most of their evenings reading the Bible, and Charles became a minister while still a slave.

Texas joined the union in 1845 and fought with the southern forces.  IN June 1865, slabes were freed in Texas, and Charles, remembering that his black father in Missouri was named Haley, changed his name to Charles C. Haley.

Several months after being freed, he organized Clark Street Chrisitian Church.  He was the first pastor and his name appears as a trustee on the deeds to the church.

His wife, Katie Mae Haley gave birth to seven children. One daughter died in infancy, and later his wife died leaving him six small children to rear.

Continuing his ministry, Haley established churches at Cason, Dangerfield, and Center Point.  He rode a mule through all kinds of weather to pastor these churches.

His daughter later told how their father would be gone for a week at a time when they were small, preaching and counducting revivals.  When he returned, his mule would be laden with vegtables, meat, and a few dollars.  His children would rush out to greet him, to find that sometimes icicicles had frozen on his beard.

Haley was a skilled wood craftsman.  He made many types of baskets, axe handles, chairs, and chair bottoms.  He also split rails for 50 cents a day and eventually bought a 100-acre farm.

When the father was away on preaching missions, the older children cared for the younger ones, but as the family grew up, Haley decided he needed a wife and mother for his children.  His second wife, Mrs. Cornella (Cori) Haley, became the first president of the Texas Christian Missionary Society for Blacks.

Haley and his wife gave the first $25 donation to Jarvis Christian College, according to Jarvis president J.N. Ervin.  Mrs. Haley's picture hung in the Jarvis Chapel for many years in memory of their early gift.

Charles C. Haley died Feb. 12, 1914.  Both whites and blacks came to pay their final respects to him, and the Greenville Evening Banner in reporting his death stated, "He was one of the best men that ever lived in Hunt County regardless of color."

Descendants of Charles Haley include four ministers, one dentist, two nurses, four high school principals, one national Christian missionary worker, one musician, an artist, dean of a graduate school, and many church workers.

{Submitter's Note: This excerpt was taken from a 1975 issue of the Greenville Herald Banner honoring the 125th anniversary of the founding of Greenville.  This selection appeared Page 8 of Section G of the July 27, 1975 edition.  It is transcribed as written.}

Copyright 1998 Vince Leibowitz

 

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