202 Main Street
By Mary Sheeran and Mary Belle Ingram
Led by a pioneer Baptist preacher, Reverend William Henry Travis, the Missionary Baptist Church was formed on the Gulf Coast at the new town of Palacios, Texas, in January 1905.
The mile square tract of land was surveyed into lots in 1902 and the town of Palacios was born. By 1903, by paying a bonus, the Palacios Townsite Company got the Southern Pacific Railroad to extend its line to Palacios which enabled settlers from the North to come to Palacios, and thus the town began building.
Travis, a Canadian by birth, came to Palacios from the pastorate of the Oak Cliff Baptist Church in the fall of 1904 and began preparatory work for a college for education of men and women in which the students would raise fruits and vegetables to pay for their education. The school was called Palacios Baptist College but later named Palacios Baptist Academy. Reverend Travis with those of like faith and order in January 28, 1905, received the charter for the school and on January 30, 1905, organized the Missionary Baptist Church with seven charter members: D. D. Rittenhouse (1860-1938) and wife, Mary (______ - 1938), R. T. Riggs and wife, Reverend W. H. Travis, Mrs. Sam (Mary) Montgomery (1878-1964) and Dr. J. R. Elliott (1879-1934). The church members met in the first public school building which later became a residence. In October of that same year 1905, the church was accepted in the Colorado Baptist Association of Rock Island, Texas and the name was changed to First Baptist Church.
The college prospered for a few years, but with mounting debt and World War I on the horizon the school was forced to close in 1919. However the little church led by Reverend Travis grew and prospered. In 1906 it was learned the Texas Baptist Convention was looking for a summer retreat as their present site in La Porte, Texas, had suffered from a severe Gulf storm. The year old church at Palacios put its bid in for the Baptist Training union Encampment. The Palacios Townsite Company generously offered Hamilton Point (the picturesque southeast corner of the townsite) to the Convention.
Dr. George W. Truett, Brother Bob Coleman and other dignitaries came from Dallas to inspect the site and accepted the site. The first summer camp was held in July 1906 with large delegations coming from Dallas and elsewhere. The summer encampments through the years have brought outstanding missionaries and teachers who have inspired and encouraged First Baptist Church. Close ties have remained between the camp and church through the years.
In 1909 the Palacios Townsite Company gave the church lots 23 and 24 in Block 24 at the corner of Welch and Second Street to build a church. Previously the members had met in homes and at the encampment tabernacle. The members constructed a simple white frame building that served the church for many years with a seating capacity of 300. The balcony served as Sunday school classrooms.
In December, 1974, the church purchased lots 1-4, Block 24 and began plans for a new sanctuary. Trustees at that time were V. C. Sieglquiet, Vernon A. Bates, Sr., Hilda Hasley, Roger Lowell, Bryon Hamlin and Harold Hunt. On July 23, 1978, the present brick structure at Main Street and Second was dedicated. The old church which had served the congregation for 67 years was demolished. The cross from the former church was mounted into a tower and with the cornerstone at the foot of the tower is situated at the site. In 1986 the church built a Christian Life Center on Block 23, Lots 1-3, across the street from the sanctuary.
The church continued to grow and expand to include both an educational building and a Christian Life Center. During World War II the church ministered to soldiers at Camp Hulen with special entertainment every Thursday night. Many opportunities were used to assist soldiers’ families and find them wives.
The present church extends the use of its facilities for local civic services. For more than 20 years it has maintained a free aerobic exercise program three mornings a week for women of the town. With a paid full time music and choir director the church sponsors patriotic, Christmas and Easter programs.
First Baptist Church participates in the community ministerial alliance, which supervised local charities with many of the church members volunteering their time in the food bank. The full time youth director supervised the summer Joy Week for high school students and the many activities after football games, swimming, fishing and camping projects through the year. The Women’s Missionary Society sponsors missions locally and in Colorado and Mexico as well as financially through the state organization. Senior adults are provided many short and long trips of historical and denominational points of interest.
Pastors who have served this church over the past 100 years are: (Note: Many were connected with the Palacios Academy and the Baptist Encampment) Reverend W. H. Travis 1905-1906; M. J. Derrick 1906; Dr. M. M. Wolf 1907-1909, supplied the pulpit for a year while assuming the presidency of the Palacios Academy; George Sherman, 1909; J. W. Israel 1910-1914; R. T. Hanks 1914-1916; A. C. Gettys 1916-1917; Evander Ammons 1917-1918; Harry Echols 1918-1924; R. G. Frazier 1924-1926; J. A. Derrick 1926-1930; Carroll Ray 1930-1933; George D. McClelland 1934-1936; Lloyd Chapman 1936-1938; L. W. Crouch 1938-1946; Rayford Harris 1946-1969; J. W. Eves 1969-1971; E. Leon Maxwell 1971-1981; Ronnie Floyd 1981-1983; J. A. Gross 1984-1989; Stacy Hauser 1990-1992; Hollas Hoffman 1993-2002; Steve Tompkins 2003-2004.
In the year 2005, Palacios First Baptist Church celebrated its 200th anniversary and through those years has stood for progressive endeavors of this community. Through hurricanes, depressions, droughts and good times this church has led the way to better times. Through enthusiastic pastors and leaders, a worthy program has been achieved and received respect of the town and the denomination. The church is blessed by a band of dedicated Christians ready with a helping hand to those either here or in foreign lands.
The dedication of the Official Texas Historical Marker for First Baptist Church of Palacios, 2002 Main Street, Palacios, Texas, was held November 27, 2005.
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF PALACIOS, TX
THE REVEREND WILLIAM H. TRAVIS FORMED A SCHOOL AND MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH IN PALACIOS IN 1905. THAT YEAR, THE CONGREGATION BECAME KNOWN AS FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH. IN 1906, THE TEXAS BAPTIST CONVENTION CHOSE PALACIOS AS THE SITE FOR ITS BAPTIST TRAINING UNION ENCAMPMENT, BRINGING MISSIONARIES AND TEACHERS INTO THE COMMUNITY EACH YEAR. AT THE CORNER OF WELCH AND SECOND STREET IN 1909, THE CHURCH BUILT A SANCTUARY, HAVING WORSHIPED PREVIOUSLY IN HOMES AND AT THE ENCAMPMENT TABERNACLE. THE CONGREGATION GREW OVER THE NEXT DECADES. MOVING IN THE 1970’S TO A LARGER BUILDING AT THIS SITE, WHERE IT HAS CONTINUED TO GROW AND SERVE ITS COMMUNITY. (2005)
Copyright 2009 -
Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
Feb. 22, 2009
Feb. 22, 2009