The Vann Settlement, also known as Van,
African, and King Vann African Settlement, was a rural community on
Buckner's Prairie near what is now FM 521 and
. It is located 17.6 miles south of
. To reach First Berean, leave the
city limits traveling east on FM 457. At the crossroads of FM 457 and FM
521, turn right on FM 521 and travel west. Continue to
and turn right at the
sign. The red and white brick church is on the right.
Vann Settlement is situated on Buckner's Prairie in the William
Rabb League #46. By at least 1894, Vann Settlement had a school. The
school was held in a little white church building.
Cleveland Fletcher of Cedar Lake recalled when he left
Hawkinsville, he crossed Caney Creek and went northeast to Coulterville.
Passing Coulterville, he traveled across Buckner's Prairie on the old
road that connected with Matagorda. Buckner's Prairie had at least two
settlements. One was known as
where a post office and general store were located. They stood near
where the present
is now. Another settlement was located back in the woods to the
northeast called the King Van African Settlement.
The name Buckner Prairie came from Aylett C. "Strap"
Buckner. He was the son of Judge Aylett and Elizabeth Lewis Buckner of
. Stephen F. Austin granted Buckner title to a league and two labors of
land in the eastern portion of
in 1824. The area became known know as Buckner's Prairie.
appointed Buckner a captain in the militia to fight the Indians. The
census of 1826 listed Buckner as being single and having four servants
and one slave.
In May 1864, John Matthews of Caney recorded the number of calves
branded in the Buckner's Prairie area.
The 1894-1895 Matagorda County School Census listed the following
families as having children of school age attending the
: Scott Glascow, William Green, Sam Norris, Catherine Stanford, Watt
Edison, Joe Sorrell, Rose Gatson, King Vann, Ransom Edison, Sr., Jack
Edison, Hester Washington and Charles Gatson. The school had a total of
thirty-nine students in 1904.
, which was organized at Vann by members of
Shiloh Baptist Church of Cedar Lane
, held its first meeting in the school.
A few of the teachers at Vann were Feebe Allen, who was from the
Vann area, but lived in Bay City; Professor Harper from Yoakum; Rosa
Brown, who taught for one year and also taught at the Cedar Lake School;
and Professor Newton.
In 1937, the school called Van was part of the
district and had one teacher who taught Black students in seven grades.
By the late 1940's, the
district had consolidated with the Van Vleck Independent School
District. As late as 1952, a number of farms were still concentrated
along an unpaved road at Vann, the
and the cemetery.
is still shown on the 1989 county highway map. The church’s address is
P.O. Box 65,
Cedar Lane is situated in east-central
on Caney Creek and in the area where FM 521 intersects with FM 457.
In the early 1900's,
was on the route of the
and New Orleans Railroad (T&NO - Southern Pacific Spur) from Van
Vleck to Hawkinsville. The area to the north of Caney Creek was called
Bowieville. It was the site of the Bowie Plantation, the Bowie Store and
the plantation commissary in earlier days.
Ratliff operated a general merchandise store about a half
mile south of Caney Creek at the railroad. The road led to the ranches
and farms on Buckner's Prairie, the Live Oak Community and Coulterville.
When the trails became roads and the railroads followed the
roads, transportation provided a means of bringing the resources of the
larger communities to the settlement. Transportation also brought the
farm products and cattle to the larger communities thus expanding the
center of trade and industry.
Many of the past generations of the families now living in the
eastern half of
were brought to this area by the people who developed the plantations
and farms along Caney and Linnville Creeks. After the Civil War, the
people grouped together with their children and their families.
The first families of the settlements in the eastern half of the
county struggled to provide for their children. They tried to give their
children an education and a religious home life. The churches became the
centers of interest in the small settlement.
During the tenure of the late Rev. Anthony Martin, the church was
. The first church, situated in the woods, had wood benches for pews. A
wood stove heated the building and lanterns were hung on the walls to
provide light. Bro. Roosevelt Green's job was to light the lanterns.
Ceasar Van, the uncle of Rebecca Moore Cooper, was the church bell
The word Berean comes from the word
, a city visited by Paul and Silas on Paul's second missionary journey
). Berean means to preach the word and search the scriptures daily. The
named was changed to First Berean to differentiate from another church
with the same name. The deacons were: Odo Van, Charlie Gatson and Joe
Sorrell. C. R. Van was the first convert. A few years later, in 1896,
the congregation decided to erect a building. Deacon Odo and his wife's
sister, Fantoma Van, deeded one-half acre of land for the church site.
The members erected a church house and other deacons were added namely,
King Van, George Washington and Jobe Edison.
Later, Rev. Joe A. Wrenn was elected pastor. Willis Page, Green
Hawkins, Author Jones, Harrison Sorrell, Amos Franklin and Andrew Edison
were added to the deacon board. In 1934, Rev. Joe Wrenn resigned because
of failing health.
The next pastor was Rev. Amber White who was followed by James
Harrison. Tom Hawkins, Phillip Edison and John Moore were added to the
deacon board. Rev. White resigned after five years.
February 6, 1943 , Rev. J. B. Brown was called. Rev. Brown pastored until he was called
from labor to reward on
November 11, 1948
August 14, 1949
, Rev. R. A. Banks was called, and he answered the call on
August 24, 1949
. Under his leadership the church purchased one acre of land from the
late Deacon J. D. Collins for a church site. J. B. Sorrell and Wash
Franklin were added to the deacon board.
In 1951, the building was torn down and a new church was erected.
New pews, a piano, gas heaters, electrical lights and pulpit furniture
were purchased. The congregation first worshipped in the new building on
August 16, 1953
, and Rev. S. L. Rugeley preached the entrance sermon.
The cornerstone was laid
July 18, 1954
by the Gulf Coast Lodge #272 of
. Bro. Ikley Roberts was the Worshipful Master, Bro. W. W. Woods served
as secretary, and Rev. C. H. Brown, Sr. delivered the sermon.
The Rev. Rudolph Martin was called as pastor
April 5, 1972
and answered the call
April 18, 1972
. The installation service was held
June 4, 1972
. The Rev. L. R. James delivered the installation sermon. During Rev.
Martin's time as pastor, the church purchased an organ, an air
conditioner, a piano and a communion table. Rev. Martin resigned
January 6, 1974
The Rev. Alexander Sykes, who traveled from
twice a month, was called on
May 19, 1974
and installed on
December 1, 1974
. During his time as pastor, Wilbert Edison and William Franklin were
added as deacons and Harriet Spencer served as secretary. A new
cafeteria was built. Rev. Sykes continued as pastor for twelve years and
the congregation numbered 104 people.
Harriet Spencer, who had lived on the prairie most of her life,
located three cemeteries that dated back over 100 years. They are still
being used today by families living in the Buckner's Prairie area.
Edison Cemetery No. 3 is across the road where the old Van
Settlement School was located. The
is just north of Edison Cemetery No. 3. Another
is located southeast of the Spencer home and this is where her father,
grandparents and a brother are buried. This cemetery is also known as
the Williams, Lewis,
Ms. Spencer recalled that an old man named Joe Sorrell who was
103 years old when he died was buried in the
(now Edison Cemetery No. 3) across from the old school yard. He died
when she was a child. He was her sister's father-in-law.
January 7, 1987, Rev. Murry Griggs, Sr. was called as pastor and he answered the call
January 18, 1988. Ida Mae Emanuel became the church pianist and four deacons, Anthony
Edison, J. D. Gatson, Nathaniel Brinkley, and Ronald Scott, were added
to the deacon board.
Mary Lou Hawkins and Sarah Lee Brinkley were secretaries and
associate ministers were Rev. Larry Griggs, Rev. M. L. Boone and Rev.
Sunday, May 26, 1996
, the new church was dedicated. The church purchased carpet, ceiling
fans, central air and heat, new speakers, padded pews, parking space,
cement walks, a septic system and a water well. The church also
purchased one acre of land. The building is 3,192 square feet. There is
an anteroom at the front entrance, a sanctuary, pulpit area, baptistery,
restrooms for men and women, an office and the pastor's study. The
pulpit area consists of a communion and offering table, announcing
stand, piano, pastor seating, choir gallery and baptistry.
Berean has the following officers under the leadership of Rev. Murry
Gilbert Franklin, Rev. M. L. Boone, and Rev. Rodney Griggs who was
called to pastor another church.
Evans, Recording Secretary; Celita Wright, Finance Secretary; Millie
Wright, Announcement Clerk; and Wilma Carrel, Program Committee
Deacon Board Of Trustees:
Franklin, Anthony Edison, J. D. Gatson, Nathaniel Brinkley, and John
December 21, 1997).
Superintendent Of Sunday School: Anthony
Franklin, president; Dorothy Parks, vice-president; Lueretta Woodard,
treasurer; and Loretha Edison, secretary.
Sidney, president; J. D. Gatson, secretary; Ronald Evans, treasurer; and
John Roberson, assistant treasurer.
Usher Board President:
Moore, Percy Moore, Johnie Sidney, Eugene Sorrell, Roosevelt Green,
Clarence Parks, Michael Parks, Nathaniel Brinkley, LeDerrick Brinkley, Trevin Franklin and Jerimiah Evans.
Mae Emanuel, pianist; Ronald Evans, choir director; Seretha Young, Mass
Choir president; Ronald Evans, and Men's Choir president.
Edison, Delores Brinkley, Seretha Young and Pamela Young.
Oldest Living Members:
Lou Hawkins, 88; Louella Hawkins, 91; and Roosevelt Green, 84.
Anthony Martin; Rev. Joe A. Wrenn, resigned 1934; Rev. Amber White; Rev.
James Harrison, served five years and resigned; Rev. J. B. Brown,
February 6, 1943 - November 16, 1948 (died); Rev. R. A. Banks, called
August 24, 1949; Rev. Rudolph Martin, June 4, 1972 - Jan. 6, 1974; Rev.
Alexander Sykes, December 1, 1974 for 12 years; and Rev. Murry Griggs,
Sr., January 18, 1988 to present (2002)
the church purchased a new marquee and land for a new cemetery near the
church. The Gulf Coast Masonic Lodge #272 laid the new cornerstone on November 21, 1999.
All in all, the church has served as a school for the community,
a meeting place and a place for community communications. Years ago,
County Extension Agent Cleo Washington taught canning, food preservation
and mattress making.
The FirstBereanBaptistChurch, the red and white
brick church on Hawkinsville Road continues to save
souls and provide spiritual food for who so ever will come through its
Sunday School, Morning Worship, Mission, and Brotherhood services. It also provides spiritual
uplifting through its music ministries The church is associated with the
Lincoln Southern District Association.
Through the 105 years since its inception,
FirstBereanMissionaryBaptistChurch continues to
demonstrate Christ's love for others; introduce people to Jesus;
encourage joyful obedience; consistent spiritual growth and
exemplification of faith, hope, trust, belief and Love of God.
The marker wording for the FirstBereanMissionaryBaptistChurch is included here.
THE CONGREGATION OF THE
BEGAN FORMALLY MEETING AFTER EMANCIPATION IN 1865. MEMBERS HELD WORSHIP
SERVICES IN HOMES, UNDER TREES AND IN A
BEFORE BUILDING THEIR FIRST HOUSE OF WORSHIP.
THE CHURCH GREW AROUND THE COMMUNITY KNOWN AS VAN, AFRICAN, KING
VANN AND VANN SETTLEMENT, LOCATED IN BUCKNER'S PRAIRIE, WHICH WAS NAMED
FOR AYLETT C. "STRAP" BUCKNER (D. 1832), AN OLD THREE HUNDRED
COLONIST AND TEXAS FOLKLORE HERO. CHURCH MEMBERS ALSO CAME FROM THE NEARBY
THE CONGREGATION BUILT ITS FIRST SANCTUARY IN 1896 ON LAND SOLD FOR
FIVE DOLLARS BY ODO AND FATUMA VAN (VANN), BOTH BORN IN
BEFORE BEING CAPTURED AND SOLD INTO SLAVERY. THE CHURCH'S FIRST PASTOR WAS
THE REV. ANTHONY MARTIN. AT THIS SAME TIME, CONGREGATIONAL MEMBERS NAMED
AFTER PURCHASING AN
OF LAND FOR A NEW SANCTUARY IN 1951, THE
, AS IT WAS OFTEN KNOWN, HELD ITS FIRST SERVICE IN THE NEW STRUCTURE IN
1953. THE CONGREGATION INCORPORATED IN 1993 AS THE
MORE THAN 100 YEARS, THE CHURCH HAS PROVIDED THE AREA WITH AN ASSEMBLY
SITE, A SCHOOL AND A PLACE FOR COMMUNITY COMMUNICATIONS. AT THE TURN OF
THE 20TH CENTURY, THE CONGREGATION HAD NEW FACILITIES AND CONTINUED ITS MISSION
THROUGH ITS OUTREACH, EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS AND MUSIC MINISTRIES.
Marker photo courtesy of Jerrilyn Capers
Copyright 2004 -
Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved