“Build upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” -- Eph.2:20, 21, 22
It was the latter part of 1835 that Elder Z. N. Morrell came to Texas from Tennessee and sought a place in which to serve the Master. He rode miles preaching the wonderful Word to the many settler, finally settling at Washington-on-the-Brazos, and there organized the first Missionary Baptist Church in Texas. This first church appealed to sister churches in the United States to send aid into Texas. One Jesse Mercer of Georgia read the appeal and $2,500.00 was deposited with the Home Mission Society of New York, to be used for the support of Missionaries and work in Texas.
Mercer was informed that Texas at that time was infested with thieves, murderers and scoundrels who were refugees from justice. Christ had saved a thief on the Cross - and if some of those in Texas were great sinners, Christ being a great Savior could save them. They desperately needed the Gospel.
In 1841, the first Baptist preacher in Texas was ordained -- a Noah T. Byers at Washington-on-the-Brazos, and with others added each year, the evangelistic tide rose as these Godly men labored in this recently new field.
The first State Convention was organized in Texas in 1848 by Dr. Rufus Burleson. Few churches had been built, but much progress was being made as small congregations met in the homes of faithful witnesses.
By 1855, God had wrought wonders in this comparatively new field. Elders W. B. Eaves, W. N. Mason and McLain were all active in sowing the seeds of truth and their work was wonderfully blessed, as these and other zealous Missionaries cooperated with the Convention. This same year on November 9, the Little River Association was organized in Cameron, being made up of eleven churches, representing a membership of 565, from the counties of Burleson, Lee, Milam, Williamson and Bell.
In his book, “Fruits and Flowers,” Mr. Morrell tells us that four ordained and six licensed ministers were members of this body. At the time of the organization of this Association, the preachers were missionary pastors who traveled over Texas on horseback, encouraging the churches and even organizing new churches where and when they found a group of settlers of the Baptist faith.
The San Gabriel Baptist Church was constituted by Elder W. B. Eaves in October 1856, being a part of the Little River Association. As Elder Eaves traveled along Little River and its tributaries in the counties of Bell, Williamson, Burleson and Milam, he found another body of earnest working Baptists. Elder Eaves of Alabama, like many others, a real JONAH, had tried to avoid a work that the Lord intended he should do, but this voice of the noble and courageous man was heard for many years, calling sinners to repentance. He served as pastor to churches and as Missionary, and but few men were more successful. On one occasion, while out boring wells during the day not far from the city of Bryan, Texas, he preached at night and baptized sixty in one community alone.
After the San Gabriel church was constituted, Elder W. N. Mason was the first pastor and served until L. Autrey was called. L. Autrey helped organized the Sandy Creek and Black Jack Grove Baptist Churches in 1856. The first report of activities sent in to the Association by this newly constituted Church as San Gabriel showed a membership of 22. We have no record of the period of service that Elder Autrey pastored the church, but in 1861, Parson W. T. H. Beasley came to lead the church. The work was slow but the few laborers were determined ones and some new converts were added yearly to the membership. In the Associational minutes of 1861, Parson Beasley reported on “Ministerial Education: which reads:
“Your Committee on Ministerial Education would report that we regard this subject of vast importance. The minister occupies the most important position that man can occupy. How important it is then that his mind should be cultivated and deep learned for the arduous work. We would therefore recommend that every minister acquire, if possible, a liberatl (sic) education. Where he cannot have the advantage of school privileges, we would recommend that he read attentively well selected religious books, and especially to read the BIBLE--without a knowledge of which all other studies would be insufficient.”
Respectfully submitted: W. T. H. Beasley
By 1871, the San Gabriel Church had grown to a good number of 51, under the leadership of S. D. Kendall, who remained through 1873. Early pastors were not residents of the community - - nor even of the county, but only came to each church once a month to preach.
Our early minutes that are available show that erring brothers and sisters were visited by a Committee, who pointed out their sins to them and they were asked to appear before the next conference, confess their wrong doings and ask to be forgiven–which they rarely failed to do.
Elder G. D. Russell began pastoring the church 1874. Our records do not show his length of service as no church letters were sent to the Association for the years 1877 and 1878. The Church clerk in 1876 was J. F. Williams.
The period of Baptist History was brightened by the preaching of the evangelist, Major W. E. Penn, who held camp meetings throughout the State. He came to Milam County in 1879, and pitched his tent on vacant plots where-ever (sic) he could find suitable places. His meetings met with great success wherever (sic) he went. It was in 1884 that Major Penn held meetings on the San Gabriel River. People came from far and near and camped near the location of what later became known as the Penn campground. Many people found Christ during these services.
In 1879, Bro. J. N. French served our church as pastor. S. C. Pogue was Board Member. Following his pastorate, D. C. Barb, Missionary of the Salago Association began a meeting at San Gabriel, and all know members in good standing, met and renewed the church covenant. They next met in Conference with Bro. Barb acting as moderator. J. H. Fulcher and J. A. Kirkman were delegates to the associational meeting in Heidenheimer, August 4, 1893.
Bro. Barb was allowed to serve the church one fourth of his time, and his services were badly needed as the church had been without a pastor for two years. During his services, some of those coming forth to profess faith and join the membership were: W. H. Cast, Fannie Purvis, T. A. Fulcher, Jessie Locklin, W. H. Locklin, Mrs. Priscilla Locklin, W. P. Hardin, Sam Dotson, J. W. Davis, Era Guthrie, A. M. Jones, and Lou Richardson. This Missionary served the church for several years.
Among those being received into the fellowship in 1894 were: Bros. W. H. Jones, Morgan Jones, G. W. Jones and sisters M. J. Jones, Florence and Ella Jones, C. F. Locklin, D. Richardson, John White, Eleanor Locklin, Dora Gamble, Maud Purvis, Maud Locklin, Ora Fulcher, Will Lee, Carrie Jone, Ida Jones, Stella Fulcher, Mrs. N. E. Gilchrist, Mrs. E. E. Stevens, W. B. Lewis, Mary Stevens, A. L. Rose, Billie Edmondson, and G. B. Garner.
The Sunday School was recognized in 1895 with W. H. Jones elected as superintendent. Nola Locklin joined the church by experience and later became their first organist.
These names were added to the membership in 1896: Maggis Gast, J. J. Stigall, J. W. Lewis, A. B. Lovelace, J. W. Faulkner, J. Harwood, Willie Guthrie, S. A. Stewart, William Rozelle, Morton Barb, E. H. Barb, Tom Guthrie, Carrie Mckie, J. L. Daniel, J. W. Harrison, Rosa Harrison, E. W. Y. Kirkman, Elige Cast, Jennie Cast, Nannie Stovall and G. D. Stovall.
The first account of a regular weekly prayer meeting shows to have been in the year 1897. E. H. Barb was licensed to preach. The Pastor recognized Children’s Day. The Pastor was allowed to go to the State Convention in Temple.
R. W. Norton of Rockdale, Came to serve the Church in 1898. The value of the church property was listed as being $200.00. John Woody, Will Summer and Minnie Fulcher joined the church in this year.
It was not unusual for Committees to be appointed to visit members who were not lending their influence in any way for the cause of Christ, and to see that they were back in regular attendance.
In 1900, Theo. Fulcher was church clerk and E. W. Y. Kirkman a Board member, which position he held for several years. A. Barclay, Associational Missionary preached for the church sometime in this year.
Records show that a new church building was erected in San Gabriel, having been moved from a previous location across the San Gabriel River. Land for such a building was donated by G. W. and Maud Keen, same being deeded to trustees at that time being, W. H. Jones and N. M. Gilchrist, and their successors. The Keens were relatives of the Johnnie Moore family. Those who were responsible for soliciting funds were: Bros. Theo. Fulcher, T. J. Locklin, J. J. Stigall, A. B. Lovelace, and W. H. Jones.
The latter part of 1901, the Association sent Bro. Harold to lead the church, one-fourth time. Mr. and Mrs. Dunham united with the San Gabriel church in 1904.
W. H. Coffield pastored the church in 1905. This year the church roll was revised. The churches of Lilac, Thorndale, Davilla and San Gabriel held a joint revival this same year, with Jeff D. Ray of Waco conducting the services at the Baird Spring ground. The organ was repaired.
In 1906, E. J. Eisenhowser of Waco came to pastor the church and remained with us until 1910. Bro. Eisenhowser was a Baylor student and married. He was loved by all. In this year, $226.65 was gathered and give for the cause of missions reported at the associational meetings Subscription of $128.50 was raised for the pastor’s salary for the year. This year, amoung (sic) those added to the fellowship of the church were Mary Bell Grantham, Edna Perry and Elbert Guthrie. During these years, the church Sunday School was changed from evening until morning and conferences changed to Saturday night instead of Sunday night. The church was reported as being out of debt and ready for dedication. W. C. Brown, E. W. Y. Kirkman and S. C. Pogue were ordained as deacons.
In 1909 the church pledged to pay Bro. Eisenhowser $150.00 a year. Frankie Guthrie united this year and Chester Gamble was licensed to preach. George W. Jones served as Church clerk. As near as we can determine the first W.M.U. was organized in 1910 with Mrs. T. J. (Bunk) Locklin as president.
Following Eisenhowser’s resignation, J. R. Caviness came before the congrgation (sic) and was unaminously (sic) called a salary of $175.00 per year. Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Middleton united with the church by letter. Bro. Caviness was followed by Rev. Watson in 1911, who at the time resided in Thorndale. He also served the Thorndale and Hare churches, devoting one-fourth of this time to each church, supplying the San Gabriel church the last Sunday in the month. The church seats were purchased during his ministry. Bro. Watson served two years at $150.00 or more per year. Delegates elected to the Association being Sallie Thorp, Ella Yeager and G. W. Jones. Harold Kirkman was received in the fellowship of the church.
Bro. J. A. Talley was called by the congregation in November 1912, and recalled the next two ensuring years. J. C. Moore was granted license to preach. 109 members were reported in 1913, and amoung (sic) those uniting in June of this year were: Misses Gladys, Clara and Hazel Moore, Hattie, Bettie and Monroe Lavelace. Those coming forth during the revival meeting in July of the same year were Misses Thelma Daniel, Annie Perry, Cora Kirkman, Iona Dunham, Myrtle Stapleton, Ed Guthrie, Jessie Locklin, Thelma Stigall, Mrs. John Cast, Della Tyler, Mrs. Sarah Locklin, Mr. and Mrs. Leon Daniel, John Cast, Gertrude, Lovie and Dora Locklin.
The First B.Y.P.U. was organized in 1913 by Mrs. Edna Felton with Miss Lola Kirkman serving as president. The following year, Tena Yeager, Lola Kirkman and Edna Felton were representatives of the B.Y.P.U. to go to the Encampment at Palacios, Texas. The San Gabriel B.Y.P.U. was again represented in Palacios in 1915 by Kate Yeager, Lola Kirkman and Edna Felton. This year the organization earned the second place banner for outstanding work accomplished. The Associational Missionary, a Bro. Hennington, preached several services for the church. During this year, the additions to the church were Misses Lee and Emma Moore, Mrs. John Heisch, Zelma Heisch, William Cannon, Miss Laura McMillan, Fred Stigall, Miss Pearl Bryant and Mrs. C. M. Dotson.
Through the years there had been a gradual growth, but by this time the brethren had been able to provide more liberal means for the cause of Christ and missions. God blessed the church and our minutes show an increase both by baptism and letter.
In 1915 and until the early part of 1916, Bro. Hunter pastored the church at a salary of $250.00 yearly. While Bro. Hunter was pastor of the church, he volunteered to come on the third Sunday, in addition to his regular preaching day, and this was accepted for the balance of his pastorate. In this year, Bro. Ed Kirkma was elected to go as delegate to the State Convention in Austin. In the same year, C. L. Hutson united with the Church. It was theought (sic) the efforts of this good pastor, Bro. Hunter that the church and the people began serving the Lord on one-half time basis.
A. M. Wester, who lived in Thorndale, supplied both the church there and the San Gabriel church the following year for a salary fo $250.00. He also led in a good way, and progress continued.
A. M. Darby was called for one-half time following the resignation of A. M. Wester. It was this year that the church roll was again revised. The Darby’s lived in Thorndale. He was a good preacher and his wife was a very accomplished lady. They remained with the church until the latter part of 1919. C. L. Hutson served as church clerk for a while, and then resigned and Harold Kirkman served in that place.
It was in 1919 that the San Gabriel Church became a part of the Milam County Association. During the service of Bro. Darby, the church purchased their piano and some new song books. Bro. Springfield held the revival in this year with Bro. Partlow leading the singing and with our present pianist presiding at the piano. Bro. Darby resigned the church the latter part of 1919 and Bro. Ward from Baylor University supploed (sic) Dr. Ferguson was called by the church, and he served eight months, from December 2l, 1919 until August 15, 1920. Officers elected that year as Assistant Superintendent; Pascal Pogue, Secretary; and Zelma Heisch as pianist. The revival meeting was held in the San Gabriel school house this year.
J. J. Burke was called to the service of the church indefinitely on October 10, 1920. A religious census was planned with the following workers: Geo. W. Middleton, Della Woody, Mr. and Mrs. Kirkman and Miss Kate Yeager. Dr. John Held led in the revival meeting 1920 and nineteen decisions were made for Christ as a result of it. Prayer meetings date was set for Thursday night each month. Bro. Burke resigned the church in 1922, and H. Grady Sloan was called unanimously and served three years. The church building underwent remodeling, and the Junior and Senior B.Y.P.U. was revived. Miss Kate was church clerk. Six families subscribed to Denominational papers. Clara Moore, President of the B.Y.P.U. and Claude Cast, Sunday School Superintendent with James Paschal Pogue as Secretary.
Our next pastor was Philip C. McGahey, now of San Angelo. Who was well liked by everyone. In 1925, the B.Y.P.U. President was Pauline Moore. The church building was repaired in this year, the total amount of repairs being well over $1,000.00.
In 1927, V. B. Breazelle began his ministry of four years. He too, was loved by all and did a nice work. T. P. Guthrie was Sunday School Superintendent and Joe Williams was treasurer. In 1929, Banna Kirkman became treasurer. In 1931, Hicks Garner served as treasurer and Birdie Adams as W.M.U. president. Bro. Breazelle was followed by J. Kelly Simmons, who pastored the church for two years. He lived on the field and taught school in our community. About forty additions were added to the membership during which time four study coursed (sic) were held. He was a good pastor.
Joseph Underwood followed Bro. Simmons and remained here fourteen months. He proved another fine servant. J. C. Moore was Sunday School Superintendent and Bro. Garner, treasurer.
The church was without a pastor in 1937. In this year, Chester G. Watt, at that time pastoring a church in Taylor, held our revival meeting with good results.
Harold Fickett was the next pastor. He is at present with the First Baptist Church in Boston, Mass. Fickett was a fine fellow. He left us in 1938 and in 1939 another Baylor student, Ralph Brink came to us. He held his own revival meeting and led the church in a splendid way. J. C. Moore was our Sunday School Superintendent. Mrs. W. W. Smith served as church treasurer part of this time.
The next in lene (sic) was Bob Merrill of Waco, who was with the church for only a few months, from December 1943 until May of the following year, and was succeeded by J. C. Moody who resigned this place to give full time to evangelistic work.
W. C. Ruchti of Galveston was called to fill the vacancy left by Moody. He remained with the church and lead in a great way until 1949. During this period, revivals were held each year with inspiritional (sic) sermons preached by the different evangelists. We have successful reports from his work in another field. Mrs. Joe Yeager served the church as treasurer, which position she held several years.
On September of that same year, Robert Potter served the church until his graduation from Baylor nine months, later at which time he moved his family to his old home, Missouri.
The church called another Baylor student, Forrest Hawkins in October of 1950, paying him $60.00 per month. The steady growth of the membership continued through the years, but it was not until this year 1951 that the church people launched out on faith went full time for the Lord.
It was the Pastor’s suggestion that he serve the church every Sunday in the month for his same pay offered for half services. The Church did not agree to this, but they did decide to try full time and continue it if at all possible. Forrest, his wife, Nita and little girl remained with the church until his graduation from Baylor. He has since graduated from the Seminary in LA., and doing a good work. During his stay here, ten day revivals were conducted each year and in addition, week end revivals. He was responsible for bringing many talented speakers and musicians before the Church. D. B. Conn served the Church as Sunday School Superintendent. Forrest loves the Lord, and continues to serve him faithfully.
J. B. Perkins was called in October 1952. Under his leadership the church progressed rapidly. He launched a building campaign, and headed the drive to secure funds to build an educational building. But because of the faith of some of the younger christians, a greater vision was caught and instead of the amount needed which the pastor had already been able to get subscribed, these workers enlisted ten men (two not being members of the church at the time) to go on notes of $500.00 each to get additional money to build the entire unit of a new modern church, as it now stands, and which we are duly proud-debt free. Friends of the church and past members gave generously also. Ten deacons were elected by the church and ordained - - namely: D. B. Conn, Richard Heine, E. M. Case, W. G. Meyers, James Terry, William Stigall, Walter McCaniel, J. M. Morgan, Hugh McMillan and Holmes Pearce. The only deacon serving prior to this time being Hicks Garner.
During Bro. Perkins Pastorate, mid-week prayer meeting was revived, new classes were organized, training union re-organized, and the Men’s Brotherhood organized. The church participated in a Rural Church contest and was listed number ten in achievements accomplished in one church year. After serving the church for about two years and feeling in his heart that he had done all that he could do - - not being on the field, Bro. Perkins resigned his services. He was having to commute from Fort Worth upon his graduation from Baylor in order that he could get his schooling from the Seminary in Fort Worth. Bro. Perkins, his wife Huldah and the two boys were greatly missed by the membership. D. B. Conn and Richard Heine acted as Sunday School Superintendents during these years.
We feel that we were very fortunate in being able to have come to us in February of 1955, Rev. C. R. Perrin from the Manacho Baptist Church near Austin. He and his wife, Shirley are now in their second year with us and are accomplishing great things for the lord. In the last one and one-half years, the church has erected a new three bedroom parsonage. The church follows a visitation program. The Church was instrumental in being able to send all of the Vacation Bible Department heads to the clinic in Dallas in March. Last year the Associational Bible School Clinic met with our church. We had a very successful revival during 1955, with Charles Stewart as the evangelist. There were forty-six decisions made for Christ. Plans are now under way for our summer Vacation Bible School, which program has been carried on successfully down through the years. Our annual budget for the present year is $5,335.00. It is our aim in adopting the budget for a new year, that our offering for the cause of missions will be greatly increased. The oldest living charter members of the San Gabriel Baptist Church are Miss Era Guthrie, Mrs. N. E. Gilchrist and Elige Cast.
On June 3, of this year, Billie Joe McDaniel was licensed to preach, having surrendered for special service a few months ago.
An addition has been made to our Pastor’s family, and we are all proud of their little girl, Rebecca Gail.
Our present Church Officers are: Sunday School Superintendent: James Terry. Church Clerk - Miss Kate Yeager, Treasurer - Holmes Pearce, Pianist - Mrs. Nell Conn, Dhorister - (sic) Ira Payne (this place having been filled the past two years by J. M. Morgan) Training Union Director - Walter McDaniel. Brotherhood President - William Stigall. W.M.U. President - Mrs. Nell McMillan, Chairman of Board of Deacons - Richard Heine.
We are very proud of our Young People who are always willing to serve the Lord by Leading in prayer meeting, ushering, special music and Witnessing when ever they have an opportunity. We are very thankful for our entire membership for the way in which they have cooperated in service to our Master. Our prayer is that the Lord will continue to bless His people here and that they will continue to witness and work for the Lord.
We must say a special thank you to Jackie Morgan of San Antonio, Texas , for re-typing this index for use on the Milam County TXGenWeb site.
Created on 25 Mar 2004 and last revised on _____________