CHURCH RECORDS AND HISTORY
Our ancestor, Rev. Jesse James, was born
1770-1780 in North Carolina, and arrived in Missouri Territory by
1815. In June 1816, the Missouri Bethel Baptist Association met
in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri and sent Elders Jesse James,
Benjamin Clark, and James Philip Edwards as missionaries to
Lawrence County, then Missouri Territory, for the purpose of
establishing the first Baptist Church in present day Arkansas.
The Bethel minutes of September 1818 state the church was
constituted that year with twelve members and was represented by
Elders Jesse James, Benjamin Clark and Richard Brazil. Dr. J. M.
Peck, the famous missionary, stated when he visited in 1818
Elders Jesse James and Benjamin Clark were the ministers and the
location of the church was on Fourche 'a Thomas, and the name of
the church was Salem. According to the Bethel Minutes of 1819,
Salem Church was constituted into another church named Union,
also located in Lawrence County on Cypress Creek, with fourteen
members and represented by Jesse James and Richard Brazil. The
Bethel Minutes of 1820 state Union Church in Lawrence County was
represented by Jesse James (not present), Richard Brazil and
Wilis Wilson. Rev. James was again a messenger from Union in 1823
but was not mentioned in later minutes. David Orr, who was sent
to Lawrence County by the Bethel Baptist Association in 1828,
stated that when he arrived Rev. James was enfeebled and
incapacitated for work.
1867 - 1913
This is a reproduction of a typed manuscript found in the Randolph County Library which was prepared by Francis L. and Carolyn Pratt. It was transcribed from the original church minutes which were in the possession of Abraham (Ham) Sutton. Since the Sutton Church burned years ago, no other record of the early years of the church exists, to my knowledge.
This document contains information on dates of death of members who have no tombstones or records of death. Hopefully it will provide the reader with informative and invaluable facts. The names in the document placed in parentheses, corrected spelling. I am sure there are names duplicated due to using initials or partial names throughout the book. Spelling of material typed as is, as well as wording used in the church minutes. The library manuscript has an alphabetical index. However, because of the numerous number of names, I am only listing surnames contained in this document.
SURNAMES: Adams, Andrews, Armstrong, Austin, Barnes, Barrett, Bates, Belk, Berry, Bryan, Butler, Cannon, Carroll, Carten, Carter, Collier, Collins, Dame, Davis, Dawson, Dildy (Dilda), Ferguson, Flannery, Gahagan (Gahagon), Glass, Glover, Griffith, Gwin, Hammon, Hancock, Harlow, Haw, Hevoner, Holder, Holderby, Holen, Hollins, Hutchison, Hufstedler, Hunt, Jackson, Jan ows, Jeames (James), Meames (James), Johnson, Keech, Kincade, Kingcade (Kincade), King, Land, Langley, Langly, Lewis, Lomax, Lownsberry, Lynch, Marthin, Martin, McClung, Means, Million, Morgan, Nickols, Noblin, Perrin, Persful, Persfull (Persful), Picket, Pickett, Pratt, Reeves, Richardson, Riggs, Riles, Robinson, Rogers, Seamans, Sharp, Shell, Shoffit, Smith, Steward, Sumner, Sutton, Suson, Thorneberry, Wagoner, Warm, White, Young
A United Baptist Church
On the 24th day of August 1867 several persons whose names appear hereafter were called together by Eld. J. R. Pratt and T. Reeves, and having been baptized before this on a profession of their faith in Christ Jesus, were formed in a United Baptist Congregation. They named their congregation, New Hope.
The parties going into the organization were: (males) J. W. Gwin, R. L. Holderby, Wiliston Bates, James Holderby, and William Keech; (females) Celia E. Sutton, Ann Sutton, Nancy Bates, Celia Noblin, Catherine and Louisa Holderby and Elizabeth Keech. Twelve members.
The old covenant used by them read as follows:
"This church covenants together to live as a band of brethren and sisters, and to use our upmost endeavors to promote the peace and happiness of the church and the interest of the Redeemers Kingdom to which we have signed our names. Also adopting the following abstract of principles as our uniform sentiment. It stops here. The principles are not given.
The Church, it seems, only met for business on regular calls, once every three months, but came together by special calls when needed.
The first meeting of which we have any record in 1868, was Saturday before the 4th Sunday in May. After the preaching, proceeded to business. One member was received for baptism, Viz., James Gahaga(o)n. Four were dismissed by letter Viz., Louisa, Mary J. and Martha E. Holderby and Eliza Hammons.
Met second time in August, Saturday before the first Lord's day. Nothing of interest transpired. Eld. J. W. Gwin presided as moderator and Wiliston Bates Sr. as clerk at both meetings.
Met third time in October same time as before. Nothing of interest transpired. Same moderator and clerk.
Met fourth time in December, Saturday before first Sunday. At this meeting two were dismissed from fellowship: Ja mes Gahaga(o)n for contempt and Virginia Hutchison for non-attendance and bad conduct.
Met first time in this year on 1st Sunday in March. Two were received for baptism Viz., Robert and A. L. Harlow. Regular appointment moved from eleven to three on Saturday.
Second meeting held on Saturday before 1st Sunday in June. It appears that some were received for baptism and a reference continued, but who and what not stated.
Met again on Saturday before 1st Sunday in July. Nothing new Transpired. Met again in August, same time. Received one member by recommendation, Viz., Matilda Lynch, and dismissed Jane Persful (Wagoner) for unchristian walk or bad conduct.
Met again in September, same time. A. L. Harlow was dismissed from fellowship for "disorderly walk".
Met in October on first Lord's Day. Mary Shell was received by recommendation.
Met in November at regular time. This time for the special purpose of electing a pastor. Bro. W. M. Keech was appointed moderator Pro-tem and Eld. James W. Gwin elected moderator to hold his office so long the church remained at the Sutton school house, and that he teach Bible doctrine the remainder of his life. The Missionaries began to attack Gwin for his General Baptist principles.
Met again in December. No business done on Saturday. On Sunday Eld. Richardson preached according to the request of the Association (Missionary Association). It seems the Association wanted the church to submit to reorganization and rebaptism by a "Missionary Baptist" preacher. The church came together and withdrew from the Association.
Met again at a special call on Christmas day, for reorganization. Nothing was done.
Met again in January, February, and March. Reorganization was considered in both January and February, but was never accomplished. In March A. L. Harlow was restored and Louisa Holderby and Mary Jane Harlow by relation.
Met again in May regular time. Received Silva Gwin by relation and Susan Collier and Henry Rodgers for baptism.
Met in June at regular time, William Griffith was received for baptism.
At the July meeting William Griffith was appointed to act as a deacon.
Nothing except regular services was done in August and September. At all these meetings J. W. Gwin was moderator and W. Bates, Sr. C.C.
The New Covenant September 19, 1877
State of Arkansas
County of Randolph
To all whom these may come greeting, we the undersigned do agree to enter into the following covenant having examined the articles of faith and constitution and rules of decorum i n the minutes of Social Band Association of General Freewill Baptists held with New Hope church in 1877, that we will meet together on Saturday before the 2nd Sunday in each month for the worship of God and the good of souls and for the mutual benefit of all.
And furthermore this church shall elect one pastor, two deacons and one clerk and it may elect a treasurer whose duty it is to hold the funds of the church and pay out the same when ordered by the church to do so and to report to the church when called on to do so. And further that we will see that our pastor is provided for and sustained while engaged in the ministry and further that it is our object to honor, glorify God and the salvation of (souls) (Here it stops).
The following names then appear (19 September 1877):
C. B. Dildy
Thomas J. Collins - dropped for failure of duty June 1883
The female members were:
The first business meeting held after they joined Social Band association was held on Saturday before 2nd Sunday in December 1877. Miles R. Langly preached from Acts 3:19 and G. A . Barrett acted moderator; J. N. Carroll was elected treasurer.
Next business meeting was held in March 1878. Eld. Barrett was still moderator and remained so for years. Eld. L. J. Throneberry preached at this meeting, his subject, "The New Testament". Received one member at this meeting.
Met again on Saturday before 4th Lord's day in April, sermon by Eld. Barrett. Two members were received.
Met in May on Saturday before 4th Sunday, preaching by Eld. Throneberry who acted as moderator Pro-tem, regular pastor not being present. Received one member for baptism.
Held service the 4th of July, Eld. Throneberry preached again and gave an opportunity for the reception of members and received 12 for baptism and two by recommendation.
Met again the 27th, sermon by moderator from Heb. 12:22. Received one member. Wilson Collier, Cullin Noblin, David Pursful and G. W. Sutton was selected as messengers to the Association. Eld. Barrett was elected pastor again with Eld. Throneberry Ass't.
At the regular meeting in August, Eld. Barrett preached. Three members were received for baptism.
Met again in September, October, November and December. Eld. Barrett was present at each meeting. Clerk was absent in October and G. W. Sutton filled his place. Received two members in September, two in October, and three in November and three in December .
Missed three monthly meetings in this year - September, November and December. Pastor was absent in January, February, and April and Eld. Miles R. Langly acted in his place. Three members were received in March, one in April, and four in May, one in June making nine in all. J. N. Carroll, F. M. Sutton, Williston Bates, Sr., and W. H. Barnes were selected as messengers to the Association. Eld. Barret was again chosen pastor.
Missed four meetings this year, or at least no record of them - February, April, November, and December. Regular pastor was present at all meetings except one - March. Eld. Eliphaz Davis was present and served the church.
In January a committee was appointed to visit "Bro. Perrin". Committee reported in March and the charge against Perrin dropped. Two committees were appointed in March - one to visit Eli Adams the other to visit Elijah Young.
The first committee men were: Clayborne Riles, George and Marion Sutton. The second were Robert Milion, Wilson Collier, and David Pursfull. Charges were preferred against John Glover, but he submitted and asked pardon which was granted by the church.
In May the case against Adams was continued for next monthly meeting. Young asked pardon of the church which was granted.
At this meeting two new committees were appointed - one to see Manda Pershall, the other to see Mr. and Mrs. Jackson. The first consisted of Sisters Jane Pursfull (Persful) and Elizabeth Keech. The second of brethren G. W. Sutton and David Million.
At the meeting in June Adams case was taken up first and committee reported that he was sorry of his conduct and asked pardon; and the same was granted.
Called the Jackson case but the committee had failed to see them and the case was continued. Miss Pershall's case was then called and she excluded for immoral conduct.
The Jackson case was called July, but continued. After that nothing is said further of the case. The messengers to the association were chosen who were: Robert Million, W. H. Barnes, David Pursfull (Persful) and B. H. Bates. Eld. Barrett was again chosen pastor.
In August charges were preferred against "Sister" Keech and she was excluded for immoral conduct.
In September J. N. Carroll and David Pursfull (Persful) were appointed to see Elijah Young and the next month when committee reported he was dropped for immoral conduct. At this meeting (September) five members were received. Brother Berry was licensed to preach.
Only two meetings are failed of record during this year, January and March. Moderator was absent at five meetings during the year - in March when L. J. Throneberry served the church; and in June when C. B. Dildy acted and in October, November, and December; when Eld. M. R. Langly served the church.
During this year the church changed clerks, R. F. Million being elected to that position.
In April charges were preferred against John Lynch for profanity and a committee was appointed to visit him. Case was called in May but continued and a new committee appointed Viz; David Pursful (Persful) and G. W. Sutton.
Case was called again in June and again continued. The Jackson case was again taken up and Jasper and Robert Carroll appointed to see them. A committee was also reported to see Saphronia Hutchinson Viz; Jane Pursfull (Persful) and Jane Wagoner.
In July the Hutchinson case was called and she confessed her sin and asked pardon and was forgiven. The Jackson case was called but continued.
The John Lynch case was called and he dropped from fellowship. Seventeen members were received at this meeting. J. N. Carroll, J. F. Barnes, W. Bates, and W. P. Pursful (Persful) were appointed messengers to the association. Eld. R. R. Langley was elected pastor for next year. The Jackson case was taken up again in August and he was dismissed for immoral conduct. Received one member in August. The name of John Glover was dismissed.
In September William Langley was licensed to preach. Eli Hufstedler was excluded.
In December $1 was raised to buy a book for record which was bought.
Met first time in this year on fourth Saturday in February. Nothing new transpired.
Met again in March. Attended to usual business.
In April Bro. James E. ? was granted a church letter. No record of meetings in May and July. In August Brother David Million was elected church treasurer. In September 75 cents was contributed to pay for printing the minutes. Bro. William Langly was set forth by the church for ordination.
Met in conference fourth Saturday in February. Church sent Bros. G. W. Sutton and Fenis Riggs to council with Bro. B. W. Barns (Barnes) for breaking rules of the church. Committee was to report at next meeting.
No record of meeting in March and April.
In May the case of B. W. Barnes was brought before the church, and was layed over till next meeting.
In June B. W. Barns (Barnes) name was dropped from church book. Thomas Collins name was dropped for not complying with church duties. J. N. Carroll excluded for contempt. Bros. C. B. Dilda and R. F. Million were appointed as committee to see Bro. Albert Persful in regard to trespass and report it next meeting.
In July clerk and moderator were absent. Bro. W. Bates, Sr. acted as clerk and Bro. Barrett as moderator. Bro. Albert Persful was rec'd back into fellowship. Bro. David Million was elected deacon and W. H. Barnes and W. F. Riggs and T. R. Bates were elected delegates too the association with T. J. White alternate. Bro. Barrett was elected moderator for ensuing year.
In August $1 was contributed by the church to pay for printing of minutes. No record of meetings in October, November, and December. In September Bro. C. B. Dilda was given his old credentials.
Met first time in this year in April at regular time. No record of meetings in January, February, and March. There was a motion that the church hold communion at next meeting. Also that the clerk erase all names of members who join another church.
In May Bro. William Langly and sister, Julia Langly were given a letter of transfer to Water Valley Church of Free Baptists. James Shoffit was also given a church letter. No record of June meeting.
In July Bro. W. Bates, Sr., J. F. Barnes, and F. M. Sutton alternate volunteers as delegates to association.
In August a committee was appointed to again see Albert Persful and to report at next meeting.
No record of meetings in September, October, and November.
In December Albert Persful was excluded. A committee was sent to see J. A. Persful in regard to misconduct.
April is first meeting we have record of in this year. Wilson Collier was excluded at this meeting for profanity. Pardoned A. J. Persful. Alice Haws and Wayne Dawson were excluded.
A committee was appointed to see Julia Flanery, Elviry Holen, and Liza Dawson in regard to their misconduct. F. M. Bates was granted a letter of transfer to Springhill Church.
In May Elviry Holen and Julia Flannery were excluded. Eliza Dawson's case carried til next meeting.
In June Eliza Dawson was forgiven.
Nothing much except usual business transacted in July.
In August Thomas Bates requested his name to be taken off church book
No account of meeting in September.
In October Bro. D. N. King was called to be pastorate with Bro. James Carter assistant.
No account of meetings up til July. At this meeting G. W. Sutton was granted a letter of dismission.
(Seems that the church was in a dormant state for about two years.) This marked out (last sentence) -- (Old minutes missing). Met in this year in September. Elected James Carter to pastorate.
Came together first in this year in August at regular times. T. C. White, J. F. Barnes and J. R. Kincade were appointed delegates to the association with David Persful alternate. R. F. Million to write and bear letter. Bro. Carter was reelected to pastorate.
Nothing important done in September.
In November J. F. Barnes was elected deacon. All members were to be notified to be present next month.
In December names of all who claimed membership were taken down as follows:
The following church covenant was entered into May 17, 1891 at New Hope Church in Randolph County, Arkansas under the name of General Free Will Baptist.
Believing that the union of Christians in a visible church is sanctioned by the teachings of Christ and the practice of his apostles.
That it is adopted to promote piety and increase christian influence we do now heartily enter into covenant before God and with each other.
We solemnly covenant before God that we will strive by his assisting grace to exemplify our profession by a corresponding practice. We covenant and agree as members of the church and as christians to watch over e ach other in love, for mutual upbuilding in Gospel faith endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. To be careful of each other's reputation. To confess our faults one to another to strengthen the feeble and kindly admonish the ____ _ and to labor together for the building up of the church, the denomination and the salvation of sinners. We promise that we will faithfully and constantly maintain secret and family prayer, and religiously instruct those under our care
We covenant and agree to use our influence to sustain the regular public worship of God contributing according to our ability and circumstances for the support of the ministry and other church expenses among us.
That we will be benevolent to the needy and especially to the poor of our own church.
We also promise that so far as we are able we will attended upon public worship the social meetings of the church and report ourselves regularly at the monthly conferences and missions. We will refuse all sanction to the sale and use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage and to those worldly indulgences and amusements which tend to lessen true piety in ourselves or weaken christian influence over others so that the cause of religion be not reproached, on our account we will every wh ere hold christian principle sacred and christian objects supreme counting it our chief business in life to spread christian knowledge and diffuse the christian spirit in society - and among all nations of the earth, constantly praying and toiling that th e kingdom of God may come and his will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven.
May he who has promised his help enable us to keep this covenant. Grant us grace to be faithful in all things, until he shall gather us to himself and crown us with final victory. Amen.
The persons who entered into this covenant were as follows:
R. F. Million - Dead
Names of members who joined the church since
E. A. Keech - Dead
Held conference in May for the purpose of electing a moderator. Bro. Steve Dame was chosen.
No important transactions in June
One member was rec'd in July.
In November G. W. McClung was received as a licensed preacher, granted J. J. Million a letter of transfer to Lee's Chapel Church. Regular time for conference meeting was changed to 11 o'clock on second Saturday in each month.
No special business in December.
Met at regular time in January and February.
In March a committee was appointed to visit some of the members in regard to immoral conduct, Viz. Thomas Nickols, Fenis Riggs, and Wiley Wagoner.
In April charges were preferred against two of the brethren, Fenis Riggs stated that he was not guilty.
In May W. Wagoner was excluded. J. Nickols case continued. Charges preferred against Thomas Hunt.
In June T. Nickols was excluded, Bro. McClung license was called in.
Nothing of much importance was transacted in July.
In August Bro. McClung was given back his license to preach. Two or three of the brethren were forgiven for fishing on Sunday.
Met at regular time in September and October. On October 15, Bro. W. C. Austin was chosen Moderator (at call meeting).
Attended to usual business in November and December.
Met first time in this year in February at this meeting a number of sisters and brothers were forgiven for dancing and drinking
Met in March at usual time
No record of April meeting.
Regular Conference in May
In June the church withdrew fellowship from J. T. Hunt. Bro. John Warm was chosen for one of the deacons.
Came together at usual time in July
In August Bro. W. C. Austin was called to the pastorate. J. R. Hancock and David Persful were chosen delegates to represent the church at the association. Closed in peace, N. B. Austin Moderator, and G. W. Sutton clerk Pro-tem
Met next time in October. R. F. Million C.C. being absent M. F. Bryan served in his place. G. W. Sutton, A. J. Million and R. F. Million were chosen delegates to the new association.
Also had service on the Fourth Sunday.
No new business was taken up in November and December
Church came together on Saturday before the second Sunday in January after divine service proceeded to business.
Bro. Ben F. Sutton confessed to getting drunk and asked the church to pardon him which was done, W. C. Austin moderator, R. F. Million, Clerk.
Met regularly in February, March and April. At the last named meeting it was decided to hold communion in May
Met in May. After divine service proceeded to business. There was a query as to how long the church s hould hold members before being baptized on motion it was continued. Some money was contributed for Sister Susan Keech who was sick and in distress
In June the matter as to how long the church should hold members without being baptized was passed by
No new business in July. In August Bro. W. C. Austin was chosen moderator for the next year. Bros. David Persful and R. F. Million were chosen as committee to see G. W. McClung in regard to adultery.
In September he was excluded and J. M. Warm and David Million were appointed to call in his credentials. The delegates were impowered to vote to change the present constitution of the association.
Met at a special meeting on Sept. 11, 1894, for the purpose of looking over the names on the church book. The fol lowing names were dropped: Daniel Flannery, J. J. Summers, R. M. Pickett, G. H. Means, S. E. Means, William Martin, Nettie Martin, Birdie Robinson, and Lula Robinson. Rec'd three members at this meeting, their names are not given. Elected W. T. Shoffit as s't moderator for the next associational year.
Met at usual time in October, no record of meeting in November.
In December Eld. L. J. Throneberry was chosen pastor with W. C. Austin Assistant.
Met first time in this year in March. Charges were brought up against several of the young brethren for dancing. One asked pardon and was forgiven
Others were carried over, charges were also brought against three of the brethren for drunkenness.
At next meeting in April the cases of the brethren for dancing and drunkenness were taken up. First case continued and committee appointed to see the Bros. Second case was taken up, Thomas Nickols was excluded and committee appointed to see the others. Second Sunday in May was again chosen for communion day.
In May the case of James Lomax was still continued.
In June he was forgiven.
By motion G. W. Sutton was dropped from the body and sisters Margaret, Emma, Calla and Ida Hunt were granted letters of dismission.
March is the first meeting we have any record of in this year. After divine service proceeded to business.
Called for peace in the church, answered in peace and in token of same they joined in a general hand shaking of fellowship.
The next meeting we have record of was in July. David Million and John Warm were chosen as a committee to see John and Elec Bates and Pat Lomax. Said committee to report at next meeting. R. F. Million and S. T. Sutton were chosen as delegates to the association. S. A. Dame for moderator, Bros. John Warm, S. T. Sutton, R . F. Million and G. W. Million were chosen to draft resolutions in regard to paying in to the treasurer of the church, quarterly for the support of the poor and the ministry and to be used for any purpose a majority of the church may direct.
We have no record of the transactions of the church between the last named dates. Met in June, no new business mentioned.
At next meeting in August Bros. J. R. Hancock, David Persfull and R. F. Million were chosen delegates to the association
The next meeting we have record of was in June 1905. At this meeting J. R. Hancock was elected to serve as one of the deacons, D. M. Holder served as moderator and B. H. Bates as church clerk. No record of when change made.
Church came together on Saturday night before the first Sunday in July. Called to order by moderatory. Church clerk not being present G. W. Million served as clerk pro-tem. The following brethren were chosen as messengers to the next association, Viz. B. H. Bates, David Pursful, Cl ing Carter, with Perry Kincade and Ben Million alternates. B. H. Bates to write and bear letter. $1 was raised for printing minutes. W. T. Shoffit Mod., G. W. Million clerk pro-tem.
Met at regular time in August and November. We have no minutes of other meetings in this year. But we are sure the church attended in the usual business transactions and the minutes have been misplaced.
The association was held with New Hope Church in this year. Several delegates from other churches were present also brothers and sisters from various parts of the county (country). A grand revival was conducted by the several ministers present and many souls were saved. About 11 or 12 were baptized. Bro. G. W. Million served as pastor to the church and B. H. Bates clerk.
In this year Bro. Holder served as pastor to the church and conducted a revival. Met at each monthly meeting for Bro. Holder is always prompt.
Bro. Holder served again as pastor. Met at each monthly meeting. In September Bro. Johnson preached a series of sermons. A revival was begun but on account of sickness and nonattendance it was discontinued.
In October Bro. Holder being absent, G. W. Million filled his place. Preached on Faith, Hope, and Charity (But the greatest of these is Charity).
In November Bro. Holder filled his regular appointment. No important business transpired.
Bro. Holder served again as pastor of the church in this year. Met at each monthly service. In June Lou Janows name was dropped from church book for contempt and Birdie Bates name was dropped by request. Also at this meeting the fourth Sunday in June was the annual communion and feet washing. Bro. Geo. Million preached in the fore noon and Bro. Holder in the afternoon. Bro. B. H. Bates serves as church clerk i n this year. On the fifth Sunday in August Bro. Holder and Bro. Sharp began as series of meeting which continued a week. Did some excellent preaching but no addition to the church.
Record of the church stops here.
Compiled by Francis L. and Carolyn Pratt, St. Louis, MO
Typed by Bridgette