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 History of First Baptist Church of Greenville

[This history is taken from Historia, 1858-1958, First Baptist Church, Greenville.  It was written by C. E. Arant, Sr.]

 J. R. Briscoe was born in Tennessee April 19, 1815.  He moved to Missouri about 1838, maried Rebecca Wray in 1840 and began to preach about that time.  He continued his labors for the Lord the remainder of his life. 
 In Dcember of 1845, he, with his wife, three children, his father, mother, six brothers and two sisters came to Texas and camped at Honey Grove.  He setled there and built a home.  About 1850, he moved from Honey Grove to where Rehobeth church now stands in Fannin County.  His wife was buried there in 1852. 
 He was the hardest working man I ever knew.  With his son, he would work all day and after supper wuld saddle his horse and ride all night to be at a place on Sunday to fill an appointment.  When he went to the arm in 1861 he was worth over ten thousand dollars. 
 Parson Briscoe, as he was familiarly known to the pioners, was among the first to preach in Hunt County.  Many chuches were instituted and among the first was the missionary church of this city.  First Baptist Church, Greenville, Texas was organized in 1858 with the following membersL L. W. Moore and wife Rebecca Moore, Martha Matilda Moore, Susan Moore, Judge Andrew McDonald, Mary McDonald, Ellen D. Langford, Mary Reneau, Margaret Mody, Nancy Hines, John Miller, Sarah Miller, Louise Moses, J. C. Moses, Julia Cole, W.A. Mattox and Mrs. W. A. Matox, W. M. Pickett and John R. Briscoe.  Thus the First Baptist Church was constituted.  Miss Tillie Moore lived and was active until 1927. 
 Mr. Briscoe was a true Christian and labored faithfully in the vineyard of the Lord.  His name shall not be forgotten by the people form whom he struggled and braved the privations of the early days. 
 The church met for some time in the Methodist building which was located on the present site of Perkins Store. 
 In the year 1860, the Masons erected a two story building on Stonewall street and our church used the lower floor for a place to worship.  The Mason building was where the Masonic Temple stands today. 
 The Rev. Wm. M. Pickett, father of Mrs. Ella Pratt, preached for several months.  The first person to be baptized was a negro woman, a slave who belonged to Mrs. Eggbert Stevens.  The first white person to be baptized was Mr. Tom Rattan. 
 The next pastor was Rev. W. R. Knight who was followed by Rev. M. C. St. Clair. 
 The war was coming on and because of many of the memebrs lived in the country, the church met at Center Point once a month.  During these stirring times not much was done in the way of church work, only a few names were added to the roll. 
 This was a missionary field with out a missionary. 
 After the war closed, Rev. Tatum, one of the pioneer heroes of our church, came and the sacrafices that this good man made and others who struggled along with him in the earlyh days ough to be lessons for the younger ones who have followed and are now reaping in the rewards of their hard years of service.  He preached for three years, riding in twice a month preaching Saturdays and Sundays.  He made no charge for his services.  He received thirty dollars and material for a new suit of clothes which waswas made by one of the good women of the church.  Rev. J.C. Sligh followed next as the pastor. 
 In 1871, the church decided it was strong enough to enable them to build a building.  A lot was donated by Wm. Arnold on the corner of St. John and Crockett.  A small frame building was erected.  The church was dedicated by Dr. R. C. Bucker.  It was at this time that Dr. S. J Anderson became pastor, coming from Sulphur Springs twice a month and preaching.  Following Dr. Anderson as pastor were Rev. L. J. Crutcher and Rev. Scruggs, Brother J. H. Boyett and J. A. Mansfield.  Rev. J. B. Daniels was pastor for several years. During his pastorate one of his meetings, about 1879 during the two weeks there were fourth additions, 30 for baptism, and the church debt of $125.00 was paid off. 
 Disaster came when the building was destroyed by fire about the first of January in 1886.  This made it necessary for the church to medet in the courthouse until anoter building could be erected.  In 1887 the lot, which is the southwest corner of the lot where the present church stands, was bought from a Mrs. Simpson.  T. J. Gee, J. C. Harrison, J. Wade, P. H. Spencer, and W. M. Arnold were appointed as a building commiee.  A frame building 40’ x 80’, was erected that fall.  In the early part of 1902, the pastor, Rev. R. F. Jenkins, reccommended a new building.  The church accepted the reccomendatin and appointed E. W. Harrison, W. C. Poole, G. H. Collins, F. W. Woods, R. A. King, and P. A. Boucknight as a building committee.  About Christmas of 1903 the new building which is the auditorium of the present plant was completed.  W. H. James, R. F. Jones, R. A. King and J. C. Harrison were selected as truesteed. 
 In July 1915, the church purcjased the northwest corner of the lot, located at Wesey and Pickett Streets from the Presbyaterians at a cost of $6,000.  Aditional Sunday school room was needed and in late 1917 Douglas King, Mrs. J. W. Rowell, and MRs. A. M. Gary were appointed on a finance committee and J. L. Collins, W. H. James, and L. A. Clark were appointed on a poperty committee and the first addition to the present building was completed.  This is where the office, library, the pastor’s study and the rooms above are now. 
 Later, a great wooden tabernacle was built adjoining the church and this was used for revivals and Sunday school rooms.  In 1943 the tabernacle was torn down and a beautiful two story edition was completed under the direction of the following committee: J. A. Norton, O. A. Evans, C. E. Arant, R. E. Tarpley, Rev. A. W. Reaves, Mrs. W. L. Wilbanks and Mrs. L. H. Daniel. 
 During the pastorate of Dr. C. B. Jackson, the church made some major improvements.  The auditorium was changed and the choir loft placed to the east, several rooms built in the basement, tne nursery enlarged and the offices made larger.  The annex on the north side was opened and connected with the main church building and.  This was done in 1937 and 1938 at which time Mr. C. W. Arant was chairman of the deacons and expenditures of more than $30,000.00 were made. 
 On May 14, 1947m under the direction of O. R. Edwards, chairman, Jesse Reece and Raymond Stevens, a parsonage was purchased for 12,500.00 on South Stonewall Street.  The first occupant of the parsonage was Dr. L. D. Ball and family followed by Dr. Richard Pass and at the present Rev. Neal T. Jones and family. 
 September 14, 1950 F. E. Shirley, chairman of the deacons and Clarence Pearce, secretary, negotiated for the east half of the block of our present property for $20,00.00.  In 1951 the contract was let for the erection of the two story educational building.  The building, furnature, air conditiong, and heating was in excess of $140,000.00. 
 Jack Finney, Edwin Ward, and Raymond Stephens were authorized by the church on June 29, 1954 to purchase the Faulkner lot, corner of Crockett and St. John; the price was $13,500.0. 
 On May 7, 1956, the church authorized Jess A. Norton, C. E. Arant, and E. L. Ward as Trustees to purchase the Mary E. Day southwest corner of Wesley anc Crockett 54’ x 108’ for $9,500.00.  Then on September 14, 1956 the church purchased the C. B. Lefan property which joined the Mary E. Day property on the south 55’ x 108’ for $12,000.00 
 Jack Finney, Edwin Ward and Raymond Stephens negotiated the deal for the deed for the church. 

Pastors of First Baptist Church, 1858-1958 

(From 1858 to 1874) 

J. B. Briscoe 
W. M. Pickett 
W. B. Knight 
M. C. St. Clair 
Brother Tatum 

J. C. Sligh, 1874-1875 
S. J. Amderson, 1876-1877 
L. J. Crutcher, 1877-1878 
J. H. Boyett, 1878 
J. A. Mansfield, 1878-1879 
J. B. Daniel, 1879-1880 
A. H. Norris, 1881-1882 
H. B. Pender, 1884-1889 
F. W. Carvey, 1890 
A. H. Mithcell, 1891 
S. F. Anderson, 1891 
A. H. Mitchell, 1897-1898 
W. M. Tardy, 1898 
R. F. Jenkins, 1900-1907 
E. L. Compere, 1907 
A. A. Duncan, 1910 
Raleigh Wright, 1917-1919 
W. H. Horton, 1919 
A. A. Duncan, 1919-1926 
W. R. White, 1927-1928 
J. F. Murrell, 1928-1930 
A. W. Reaves, 1930-1943 
Perry E. Evans, 1935 
C. B. Jackson, 1953-1946 
L. D. Ball, 1947-1951 
Richard H. Poss, 1951-1954 
Neal T. Jones, 1955-1958 
 

Copyright 1998-2012 Vince Leibowitz

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