The first annual meeting of the Elm Fork Association was held with the Lonesome Dove church, Friday before the first Sabbath in November, and following days, A.D. 1849. Introductory sermon by John A. Freeman. Eld. Jonathan Philips was elected Moderator, Chillon Smith, Clerk, and A. S. Harris, Treasurer. The following churches were represented, to wit: Lonesome Dove, Union, Wilson's Creek, and Bethel; aggregating 139 members. The Committee on Finance reported $3.75. This meeting was held near where the village of Grapevine, now is, then Navarro county, now Tarrant. Elds. Witt, Myers and Freeman filled the stand on Sunday. Christians rejoiced with joy inexpressible and full of glory; waste places were made glad and deserts blossomed as the rose. It was good to be there; the people were poor, humble and happy in the love of Jesus. During the session the Association agreed to raise $10 to pay for minutes, one of which is before me printed on one sheet of ordinary letter paper by the Dallas Herald office, Dallas, Texas. Our pioneer preachers were all poor and most of them taught school and worked hard for a meagre support. The Indians made frequent ravages upon the first settlers, killed some persons and stole horses at different dates. Nearly all the horses were stolen from the first settlers, and more especially in the crosstimbers. Our thoughts will often revert back to the days of yore. God was our refuge - a present help in every time of need. To him who loved us and washed us in his own blood be all the glory.
The Second Annual Meeting of the Association was held with Rowlett's Creek church, Collin county, Friday before the second Saturday in October, 1850. Introductory sermon by Eld. David Myers, Acts 20:28. Read letters from five churches and the following accounts were taken: Lonesome Dove, 93 members; Union, 63; Rowlett's Creek, 41; Mt. Gilead, 12; Liberty, 14; delegates, 23. During the year 64 were baptized; received by letter, 20; total membership, 223. Elder David Myers was chosen Moderator; A. S. Harris, Clerk, and Henry Suggs, Treasurer. Two new churches were received - the two last named. The Committee on Finance reported $11.15 contributed this year. Ordered that we have our Constitution, Articles of Faith, and Rules of Decorum appended to the minutes, and that the Clerk have 200 copies printed. On Sunday Elders J. A. Freeman and Eli Witt preached to the people, after which the Lord's Supper was administered. The congregation was large for a new country. Union meetings were appointed at Lonesome Dove, Union, Rowlett's Creek, Mt. Gilead, and Liberty churches The next annual meeting to be held with Union church. This annual meeting was held at the residence of Bro. Shade Jackson. Of the twenty-four messengers who composed the Association in 1850 all are gone but six; J. A. Freeman, of California; Eli Witt, G. S. Bacus, John Cook, J. M. Myers, and perhaps A. S. Harris, of California, are living.
The Third Annual Meeting was held with Union church in October, 1851. Eld. Eli Witt preached the introductory sermon; read letters from seven churches, as follows: Lonesome Dove, Union, Rowlett's Creek, Mt. Gilead, Liberty, Bethel, Friendship. Chose Eld. David Myers, Moderator; A. S. Harris, Clerk, and H. Suggs, Treasurer. Friendship church was received into the fellowship of the Association. Baptisms for the year, 43; received by letter, 10; total membership, 253. Eld. J. W. D. Creath, agent of the Baptist State Convention, was invited to a seat with us. The Committee on Finance reported $19.65 this year. On Sabbath Eld. Creath preached to a large and attentive congregation, from the text, "Ye are the light of the world." His theme was, "The Purity of the Christian church." After explaining the object of the State Convention he collected $8 in cash and secured $25 in subscription. At 4 o'clock Eld. Ledbetter preached an able sermon. During this session Eld. Creath started the missionary work, by pledging $50 each to Elds. J. A. Freeman and Eli Witt. At this date there was some opposition to missionary operations among the old members, but Bro. Creath conquered by love and kindness. He stated on Sunday that he got a bare support as agent, that he had been offered $1000 a year to teach school, but that he would preach Jesus if he had to live on bread and water, and as he said it the big tears rolled down his cheeks.
The Fourth Annual Meeting was held with Liberty church, Collin county, on the second Saturday in October, 1852, and following days. Introductory sermon by Elder John A. Freeman; text, "He must increase." Letters were read from seven churches. Elder David Meyers was chosen Moderator, A. F. Leonard Clerk, and H. Suggs Treasurer. During the year 30 baptisms were reported; received by letter, 29: total membership, 297. Wilson's Creek church was received. The Committee on Finance reported $24.30 this year. On Sunday, Elders Freeman and Watson preached at 10 o'clock, to a large audience. At 6 o'clock Elder David Myers preached from the text, "Behold I bring forth, that ye may know that I find no fault in him." At the close of the sermon the messengers and brethren were called around the table of the Lord. It was an interesting time; Christians rejoiced when they looked by faith to the time when they should sit down with the Savior in the kingdom and drink "anew of the fruit of the vine." Annual communion was practiced by the Association for several years. Union meetings were appointed at all the churches for the ensuing year. Correspondence was ordered with Red and Trinity River Associations; also with Union Association. Elders Freeman and Witt performed some missionary labor, but their reports were made to the State Convention. Twenty-seven delegates were in attendance at this session.
The Fifth Annual Meeting of the Association was held with Mt. Gilead church, Tarrant county, on Friday before the second Saturday in October, and following days. Elder J. M. Myers preached the introductory sermon. The former Moderator, Elder David Myers, having been removed by death, his son, Elder John M. Myers, was elected Moderator, A. F. Leonard Clerk, and A. S. Harris Treasurer. Eight churches were represented. Pleasant Grove and Bear Creek churches were received. During the year 46 were baptized and 40 received by letter; total membership reported by ten churches, 263. The Committee on Finance reported $27.55 contributed for minutes. On Sunday, Elder Ledbetter preached a missionary sermon, and collected $25 for missions. At 4 o'clock Elder N. T. Byars delivered a sermon with good effect. Some three or four hundred people were present. After the sermon by Bro. Byars, the brethren and sisters were called to surround the Lord's table. Christians rejoiced, and sinners wept and asked an interest in the prayers of God's people. The Association was divided into four districts, and union meetings were appointed. A committee was appointed to employ one or two missionaries to ride and preach within the bounds of the Association the ensuing year. Elders J. A. Freeman and J. M. Myers were employed at $1 per day, Sundays not included. This move may be considered the beginning of better days in Elm Fork Association. Reports in next minutes.
The Sixth Annual Meeting was held with Bethel church, Collin county, including the second Sunday in October, 1854. The introductory sermon was preached by Elder J. A. Freeman: Hebrews 8:5. J. M. Myers was elected Moderator, F. A. Leonard Clerk, A. S. Harris Treasurer. Spring Creek and Birdville churches were received, making eleven churches. Received during the year by baptism, 93; by letter, 82; total membership of all the churches, 483. Committee on Finance reported for Associational expenses, $36.45; for missionary purposes, $145.55. We here give a condensed report of J. A. Freeman and J. M. Myers, missionaries: We were employed by your committee to ride and preach, at your last annual meeting, in the bounds of our Association. Miles traveled, 1,194; sermons delivered, 131; exhortations, 47; baptized, 35; received by letter, 14; witnessed 100 conversions; ordained 5 deacons; organized 3 churches; labored 144 days, and received $104 for services rendered. On Sabbath, Elder Harris preached at10 o'clock, from Acts 26:28. At 12 o'clock J. M. Myers addressed the people from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15: "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren," etc. Having lost the former Moderator by death, a committee on obituaries, consisting of J. A. Freeman, Eli Witt and B. M. Henderson, was appointed. The historical sketch of Elder David Myers, sent from Union church, was approved and appended to the minutes. A ministers' and deacons' meeting was appointed; Bro. J. C. Dunn was appointed as colporter, and books were recommended. Union meetings were located. A committee, was named to raise means and place a missionary in the field for the ensuing year. Elder N. T. Byars was employed.
The Seventh Annual Session of the Elm Fork Association was held with the Friendship church, Collin county, on Friday before the second Sunday in September, 1856, and following days. Introductory sermon by Elder Eli Witt, 1 Timothy 4:16: "Take heed to thyself." Elder J. M. Myers was chosen Moderator; Elder Eli Witt, Corresponding Secretary; Isham Thomas, Clerk, and Noah Good, Treasurer. After the Association was organized and ready for business, Bethany and Mount Calvary churches were received on motion. Elders J. C. Portman, T. W. Cotton, T. B. McComb and David Elliot, accepted seats as visiting brethren and correspondents. Thirteen churches were represented by thirty-five delegates. Committee on Finance reported $75.80 for all purposes. Thirty-eight baptisms were reported, and thirty-seven received by letter; total membership, 495. J. M. Myers was appointed missionary for the next associational year. Report of Elder N. T. Byars, missionary for the year 1855: Sermons preached, 22; visits, 48; exhortations, 2; lectures, 2; baptized, 5; received by letter, I; miles traveled, 770, for which service he received $66.75. Letters of dismission were granted Lonesome Dove, Mount Gilead, Bear Creek and Birdville churches, accompanied by request that Elders J. M. Myers and G. W. Butler assist in organizing a new Association at Birdville, Tarrant county, to be called the West Fork Association. The Elm Fork may be considered the mother of the West Fork. We were loth to give up the above named four churches, they took a large proportion of our membership, and one of our best preachers, Bro. J. A. Freeman.
The Eighth Annual Meeting was held with the Liberty church, Collin county, Texas, on Friday before the third Sunday in September, 1856, and the following days. Eld. J. M. Myers preached the introductory sermon from Daniel 2:44, 45. The sermon was published in the first Texas Baptist edited by Eld. G. W. Baines. Eld. Eli Witt was elected Moderator; Eld. G. C. Butler, Corresponding Secretary; N. Good,Treasurer; Isham Thomas, Clerk. Nine churches were represented by letter and delegates; received during the year by baptism, twenty-two; by letter, thirty-five; total 346 of all the churches. The door of the Association was opened for the reception of new churches. A letter from Union Hill, Dallas county, was presented. On reading the letter it was found that the church held the doctrine of apostasy, and claimed the right for her pastor to teach and advocate said doctrine in our churches. The church was rejected. Eld. J. M. Myers was requested to prepare an essay setting forth the date of the constitution of our Association and churches, with a short report for the year 1856. Sermons delivered, 103; exhortations, 40; baptized, 14; received by letter, 21; witnessed accessions to the churches, 48; assisted in ordaining one minister and two deacons; labored 142 days. Missionaries were appointed for the ensuing year. Sunday was a rainy day and we had no meeting. Elds. J. A. Freeman, A. Dobkins, H. H. Ware and C. N. Pierce were with us as visiting and corresponding messengers.
The Ninth Annual Session of the Association was held with the Bethany church, Dallas county, Texas, on Friday before the first Sunday in September, 1857, and following days. Introductory sermon by Eld. Eli Witt, from John 18:36. Eld. Eli Witt was elected Moderator; H. E. Callahan, Secretary; N. Good, Treasurer; Isham Thomas, Clerk; twelve churches were represented. Kings Creek, McKinney and Mount Pleasant came in on petitionary letters. Statistics as follows: Received by baptism, 44; by letter, 43; total membership, 442; for minutes, $29.05. We here give a condensed report of missionary labor performed by J. M. Myers and G. W. Butler during the year 1857. Both were partly paid by the Baptist Convention of Eastern Texas. Sermons, 89; exhortations, 47; conversions and accessions, 74; received by letter, 26; organized churches, 3; ordained preachers, I; deacons, 2; traveled 1000 miles. Myers labored eighty days at $1.25 per day, amounting to $80, $65 of which was paid by the Eastern Convention of Texas. Butler was paid for his services $100, $35 of it by the Elm Fork Association. Historical and biographical sketches prepared by J. M. Myers were appended to the minutes. Elders J.C. Portman, Jacob Routh and J. M. Myers appointed corresponding messengers to the East Texas Convention. During the session we had preaching by Elds. Portman, Briscoe, Jenkins, Callahan and Ware. The services were closed by the writer. We remark here that Bro. Portman's old Kentucky brethren were delighted to hear his musical voice in the wilds of Texas; waste places were made glad, and blessed be the good old days of yore.
The Tenth Annual Session was held with Spring Creek church, Collin county, Texas, on Friday before the first Sunday in September, 1858. Introductory sermon by Eld. J. C. Portman, from Timothy 2:15. J. C. Portman was chosen Moderator; H. E. Callahan, Corresponding Secretary; N. Good, Treasurer, and Isham Thomas, Clerk. Nineteen churches were represented and the following accounts were taken: Received by baptism, 19; by letter, 40; total membership, 439; for minutes, $33. The consolidated reports of missionaries give the following: Sermons, 257; exhortations, 78; miles traveled, 2327; baptized, 22; received by letter, 42. For the above named labor the missionaries received $26,80, principally paid by the Convention of Eastern Texas. On Sunday Elds. J. C. Portman and H. E. Callahan addressed the people. At the conclusion of Bro. Callahan's sermon a collection of $22.30 was taken up. Reports on Domestic Missions, on Destitution, on Publications, on Sabbath-schools, on Education and Progress of Religion, were all duly considered; correspondence was taken up and brethren appointed to the various bodies with which we correspond. Eld. J. C. Portman was appointed to preach a sermon at our next Association, on the history of the Baptist church. On Sunday, after lunch in the afternoon, Bro. Portman preached an interesting sermon, and administered the Lord's Supper.
The Eleventh Annual Meeting was held with the Rowlett's Creek church, Collin county, beginning on Saturday before the first Sunday in September, 1859. Introductory sermon was preached by Eld. S. L. Jenkins, from Matt. 5:14. Eld. J. C. Portman was chosen Moderator; Isham Thomas, Clerk; C. R. Breedlove, Secretary, and Noah Good, Treasurer. Petitionary letters were called for, and were presented from Bethlehem, Prospect and Big Grove churches. All were admitted into the Association. Eld. D. B. Morrill, agent for the Baptist Convention of East Texas, came forward and was cordially received and invited to a seat with us. Committees were appointed on various subjects and expected to report on Monday. Sabbath exercises: At 11 o’clock Elder Portman delivered an appropriate sermon upon "The Rise and Progress of Baptist Principles." On motion of Dr. Lair, the sermon was published in the old Texas Baptist. At 1 o'clock p.m. Eld. D. B. Morrill preached to a well ordered congregation; at the close a collection was taken, amounting to $33.40. Eld. Callahan preached at night a good sermon. Committee on Finance reported $33.55. Thirteen churches were represented. Baptized during the year, 97; received by letter, 56; total membership, 549. Report of Eld. S. L. Jenkins, missionary: Employed 50 days; preached 31 sermons; witnessed 40 conversions; 36 baptisms and 75 additions to our churches. Reports on Monday were received and acted upon;correspondence received and appointments made for another year. The services were closed with prayer, by Bro. E. Witt.
The Twelfth Annual Session was held with Wilson's Creek church, Collin county, the first Sunday in September, 1860. Introductory sermon was preached by Eld. J. J. Butler, from Rom. 10:15, first clause. Letters were read from twelve churches. J. C. Portman was elected Moderator; Isham Thomas, Clerk; C. R. Breedlove, Secretary, and N. Good, Treasurer. Letters were called for and Trinity and Scyene churches received. Correspondence was called for: J. M. Myers, J. A. Viars, W. M. Sewell and J. T. Johnson, agent from the Baptist Convention of Fast Texas came forward. All were invited to seats as corresponding messengers. Statistics were as follows: Baptized, 91; received by letter, 59; total membership, 851. The stand on Sunday was filled, at 10 o'clock, by Eld. J. C. Portman, and at 2 o'clock by Eld. J. F. Johnson. At the close of Bro. Johnson's sermon, $35 were collected for missions; $292 were raised in pledges to put missionaries in the field for the ensuing year; $44 for associational expenses were sent up by the churches. Elds. Routh and Sewell made the following report, condensed by the writer: Sermons delivered, 87; exhortations, 31; baptized, 16; days labored, 112. Bro. Routh's claim was $94.60; Bro. Sewell's claim was $116, for services rendered -- partly unpaid at this session. I can't find that all of the above debts ever were paid. The war between the States coming on was probably the cause. Up to this time the Elm Fork Association had gathered strength and talent, and was in every way doing well. ==============
[J. B. Link, Texas Historical and Biographical Magazine, Volume 2, pp. 7-13. - jrd]
Texas Baptist Index
Baptist History Homepage