Smith County, Texas

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HISTORY OF THE DEAN BAPTIST CHURCH

In the year 1854, Jacob Youngblood, William Hullum and other Baptists who had settled on what is known as the Seven Leagues, built a two-story log house near the mouth of Butler Creek for a church house and Masonic Hall.

Rev. J. S. Bledsoe and Rev. S. G. Baggerly were invited to organize the church.

The church was organized with 17 members in the early part of 1854. It was called Enon. It seems that Bro. Bledsoe was the first and only pastor. During 1854 and 1855 there were about 50 additions to the church by baptism. About this time there was a contest over the title to the land on The Seven Leagues. All the settlers were routed and the church went down.

In 1857 a few Baptists who had settled north of Indian Creek organized a church in a small house about six miles west of Tyler just north of what is now the Chandler Road. The charter members of this church were Silas Grammer and wife, William Clay and wife, H. S. Ellis, John Reaves, Turner White and wife, Edwin Adams and wife, and G. B. Green. The church was organized by John Whitmore and Robert Clay and called the Indian Creek Church. G. B. Green was soon ordained to preach and the church, though few in number and not wealthy, contributed of their means, bought a horse and sent Bro. Green out to do mission work in Henderson and Van Zandt counties. While we do not have the statistics to show his success, we feel sure that God blessed the efforts of this little church and pioneer missionary.

In 1859, the church was moved to a place on what is now the Dixie Highway near the home of the late Judge Beaird. There they built a very comfortable house and the church gained considerable numerical strength. Robert Clay was pastor of this church from the time it was organized until 1863. At this time all the male members were engaged in the war between the states, and this church went down. After the close of the war Brother John Barron, one of the members, made an effort to rally the membership, and get the church back to work, but failed. He then called upon them to meet and disband, which was done in the fall of 1866. Most of the membership went to the New Harmony Church a few miles further north.

The Indian Creek was then left without any religious service of any kind. In 1868 there was a small school house built near where Dean church now stands.

A Sunday School was organized and kept up for several years. Occasionally a preacher would come in and preach at the school house or a brush arbor that was used when the weather would permit.

In the spring of 1872 M. J. Dean, at his own expense, built the first meeting house for what is now the Dean Church. The 8th day of June was set for the organization of the church. John H. Rowland, pastor of the Tyler First Church, with J. H. L. Wesley and W. W. Graves, were invited to consummate the organization. After a sermon by John H. Rowland, the above named ministers formed themselves into a Presbytey; John H. Rowland, chairman, and W. W. Graves, secretary.

There were nine charter members. M. J. Dean and wife, W. W. Graves and wife, B. F. Dingier and wife and Mesdames Sarah Price and Jane Price and Jane Ellis. A week later Bro. Rowland returned and conducted a meeting for 10 days. At the close of the meeting the young church had a membership of 48; of this number 29 were received by baptism. Four of these: J. T. Dean, I. R. Dean, 0. W. Dean and B. F. Miller, afterwards became preachers.

The first deacons were B. Y. Walker who was baptized during this meeting, and M. J. Dean.

Soon after the organization the Tyler First Church presented them with a large pulpit Bible, some hymn books and a chandelier. The chandelier was a large tin ball shaped like a hornet's nest with eight wires soldered around the sides projecting out about 12 inches and a small cup on the end to hold a candle. The Tyler church had just discarded this and was using kerosene lamps.

An effort was made to get the Tyler church to release Bro. Rowland for one Sunday in the month that he might serve this church. They failed in this and the church went without a pastor until April 1873. The minutes show that they had a regular weekly prayer meeting and that all members lead in prayer when called on. W. W. Graves, who was living in the community, and John H. Rowland, visited the church several times and preached.

In April, 1873, the church called W. H. Dean, a young preacher who had recently moved from Alabama. He served 'til October 1874. During that time 34 were added to the church by baptism, 11 by letter.

The church has always been strict in dealing with disorderly members. The minutes will show where members were dealt with for dancing, swearing, fighting, working on Sunday, getting drunk and other things that were considered unbecoming to Christians. They either confessed their sins and were restored

to the fellowship of the church or were excluded. The record shows that there have been 73 of the members excluded, 19 of these were afterwards restored.

This church was affiliated with the Cherokee Association from the time it was organized until 1898 when it became one of the charter members of the Smith County Association which was

organized at Dean. Bro. C. J. Youngblood elected Moderator and Missionary W. R. Kendall as Clerk.

At the end of the first year in the Smith County Baptist Association total membership of the church was 76 members, Sunday School enrollment was 42 and the pastor's annual salary was $150.

The church has had many fine pastors. In 1926 the Church called a young man about 19 years old who had surrendered for foreign missions and was then in the seminary preparing himself to go. Under his marvelous leadership Dean grew into a great missionary Church, though small in number, yet tithes

and offerings above the average for the size of the Church. Bro. Underwood has since served in foreign lands as a missionary and is presently serving in Richmond, Virginia, with the Foreign Mission Board. There were 46 received by baptism and 26 by letter in 1937 while Brother Underwood was pastor.

One of the customs ooserved in our church is our birthday offering. In April, 1940, this was made official at business conference that each person pay a penny corresponding with each year of their age.

In March, 1944, our church attended a candlelight service at the Dixie Baptist Church in honor of the boys who had gone into service. The church purchased War Bonds during World War II. The church gave Christmas gifts to the sick and wounded soldiers at Camp Fannin.

In 1945 church voted to paint and put brick siding on outside of church and to build four Sunday School rooms.

In 1947 our church gave a donation to help the victims of the Texas City explosion. Church voted to build and furnish a parsonage, November 22, 1947.

In 1948, our church colected 59 pounds of clothing to be sent overseas for the World Relief Drive.

In 1950, church bought instruments for their first Rhythm Band. Church voted to include the bulletins in the budget. "Sunday, October 5, 1950, Brother Jones brought a message from several scriptures subject "The Most Beautiful Word". This seemed to be the beginning of a new day for Dean as there was a

wonderful attendance both morning and evening. Everyone seemed to be rejoicing in what the Lord had done".

In November, 1950, church voted to give all the money that was given that day to buy seats for church. People were urged to give all they could. When all the seats were paid for church doubled giving to Cooperative Program. When the new seats were installed in May, 1951, all of the money had been

collected so that they were paid for when installed ($1250.00).

In August, 1951, church purchased a new spinet piano for worship services. In early 1951 we had about fifteen young men of our church and community serving in the armed forces. Each Saturday night those who felt the real need to pray for these boys and others came together at the church and prayed.

These prayer servces were also for the purpose of praying for the Holy Spirit to be upon the services in a great way on the following day's services.

In January, 1952, church began construction on our present educational building, The church voted for L. C. Hester to make pictures as the building progressed. The Griffin heirs gave the church some property for which the church was very grateful In the year 1951, baptisms 12, by letter 10, total money received $10,469.49, pastor's annual salary $3,330.

Our church purchased a Pulpit Bible in October, 1952,which is still used today. The church gave $100 for Western Missions Offering. Our church sent Bro. Jones to State Convention and Evangelistic Conference. The church started Cradle Roll and Extension Department in April 1953, the pastor to be in charge.

In December, 1953, the church voted for Hayden Moore as Manager and Horace Clark as assistant Manager for the church basketball team. The church accepted a bell from the Cotton Belt Railroad on Wednesday, December 9, 1953.

In February, 1954, our pastor began to teach a Sunday School Class at Camp Fannin at the T. B. Hospital.

Church had a steeple built to put bell in and also cleared land that had been acquired to enlarge cemetery. Church gave $150.00 to Annie Armstrong Mission Offering.

In 1955 the church sent our pastor to World Conference in Fort Worth. Church bought a water cooler and built bathrooms. Our church observed a School of Missions, having a different missionary each night to tell of their work. Church made a study available for pastor.

The church again sponsored a basketball team.

In December, 1955, all our missionary organizations were reorganized and started afresh and anew to meet on Wednesday nights. This saw the Beginning of a Brotherhood and what a blessing to see men organized for the Lord. The first president of the Brotherhood was Horace Clark. The men of the church gave of there time in refinishing inside and out a building for the children of the church.

The Brotherhood finished the inside of the pastor's new home in 1955. H. B. Clark, a paint contractor, supervised the work. It was all free gratis to the pastor and family.

Another organization of our church, the W.M.U., was first started March 3, 1937, with Mrs. L.M. Turner as president. That continued for about two years and in 1940 it was discontinued. In 1946, Mrs. Craven Beard met with the ladies of Dean for the purpose of organizing a W. M. U. Again, it did not function long. In March, 1948, a group of ladies met again to reorganize. The W.M.U. continued to function and grow until it was doing a worthwhile job. In February, 1952, the W.M.U. had 17 members. The organization has continued to function and is a strong part of our church, leading the way in missionn work.

Our church honored Dr. and Mrs. T. C. Gardner on July 22, 1956. For 40 years of great leadership in the Texas Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Convention, and the world we took great pride in honoring these two great Christian workers. Due to the fact that Mrs. T. C. Gardner had probably done more than any other one person to promote the children's church work, we named our new children's building "The Children's Church" in her honor, Dr. and Mrs. Gardner honored the church with their presence and helped in dedicating the building.

In 1956 our church started a Library. We also built a road to the cemetery. Church voted that we send flowers to church members and their immediate family, Mrs. Hayden Moore elected to take care of this.

Dean Baptist Church congregation voted in January 1957 to Build a new sanctuary upon the recommendation of the Building Planning Committee, with a turn-key job of $10,000. It is

easily worth many times the price and visitors are amazed to know that the building was built for this amount. It was true that contractor Raymond Arnold gave a bid that he could not receive more than his own labor out of. In two months time the building was completed and dedicated on April 7, 1957.

Dean won the Achievement Award for Smith County Baptist Association in 1956 and also in 1957 and second place in District 2 in 1957 out of 266 churches.

Baptisms, from 1950-1957, 68 and additions by 1etter 1950-1957, 70.

In 1960 church voted to increase gifts to missions as follows: 8 per cent of Sunday School offering to go to Cooperative Program and 5 per cent to Associational Missions. Church voted to hire a Music Director and Young People Leader, A. C. Brooks was chosen. We bought fifty new song books and had built a chain link fence around the cemetery. We had a G. A. Coronation in our church in 1960. Church approved a

W.M.U. project of collecting items for State Hospital at Rusk, Texas. Amount given to Annie Armstrong offering, $134.75.

In January, 1962 we ordained two deacons, Virgil Chamness and Lemmie Jones, Jr.

In 1963 our church sponsored a Sweetheart Banquet, for the Intermediates and Young People at the City Recreat1on Center. We sent a $25.00 donation to the Smith County Evangelistic Crusade.

Church voted to aair condition Children's Church in 1964 and put up Guard Lite

In March 1966, the church borrowed $5,000 to:

  • Air Condition Auditorium.
  • Air Condition and central heat Educational Building.
  • Install carpet in auditorium.
  • Construct paved walkways with roofs between auditorium and Children's Church.

In the spring of 1968, our church helped send our pastor to the Holy Land. We all benefitted from the beautiful slides the pastor made and showed us.

We added carpet drapes throughout our Educational Building in 1970. We paved our parking area in 1971.

According to the 1971 Associational Letter our church has a total memhership of 199. Total receipts for the year, $20,518. Gifts to State Missions, $350, Annie Armstrong Offering, $482, Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, $501, Cooperative Program, $490, and Associational Missions, $190.

The Clerk has kept a record of every service held in the church. If it was a preaching service, the name of the preacher, the scripture read and the text used. If a prayer meeting, the leader's name and scripture read.

In the cemetery nearby sleep many or those who were members of this church forty and fifty years and "They rest from their labors and their works do follow them". Many of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are now members. May they continue to work 'til Jesus comes again.

Copied from the Centennial Program of the Dean Baptist Church, Tyler, Texas, 1972.

Printed with permission from Billie Crabtree, Church Clerk, 1999.

 

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