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Some Early Grayson County Church Histories

Two global historical events, which happened hundreds of years apart, speak to me about how our country has employed doctrines of decency and theology to settle the wildness of the native United States. This article highlights the histories of some of Grayson County’s earliest Christian churches.

I do not, in any form or fashion, wish to debate theology, Christianity, or sins. I simply wish to inform readers about interesting facts in Texomaland’s church history. I plan on covering each county’s church histories of Texomaland in future articles. Today’s article focuses on Grayson County.

Constantine the Great

The first event of which I speak is of Constantine’s vision, who realized that Christianity was not going away anytime soon in the year A.D. 312. A battle between Constantine’s army and Western Roman Emperor Maxentius’s army took place at the Tiber River's Mulvian Bridge which rewarded Constantine the title of the Roman western emperor. The nature of what Constantine really believed is highly debatable and not the subject of this article. However, Constantine’s victory over Maxentius and the signing of the Edict of Milan with Eastern Roman Emperor Licinius in A.D. 313 ensured the growth of Christianity and began the end of Christian persecution in the Roman Empire’s long, geographical arms of sovereignty. (1)

The Territory of Wyoming in 1869

The second event took place in Wyoming Territory. On December, 10, 1869, Wyoming Territory’s legislative body gave women the right to vote. On July, 10, 1890, Wyoming became the 44th state of the U.S. On August 18, 1920, The U.S. Congress ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and women voted on a national level. It only took a half a century for our federal government to catch up with a territorial legislative victory.

There were many reasons why Wyoming became the forerunner for the federal suffrage statute. A territory had to show a population of 60,000 to qualify for statehood, and Wyoming had a population of 55,000 in 1888. Some of Wyoming’s territorial legislators believed that women brought with them the ambition to organize schools, libraries, charitable entities, and churches when they migrated west.(2)

Churches today still play a large role in how people shape their attitudes and ideals, and even how they vote in their communities the same as they did before Constantine’s victory and before “The West Was Won”. The following records brief histories of some interesting church origins in Grayson County.*

The Hopewell Baptist Church

What the Texas Historical Commission (THC) Marker # 71 says:

In 1874, this church was founded to serve the black community of this growing railroad town. Ministers of several Baptist churches in the county helped organize the fellowship. Some of the charter members transferred from St. John’s Baptist Church in Preston Bend. In 1877, fire destroyed the churches first meeting place. A frame building erected at this site was replaced in 1891 by a brick edifice. The present church was built in 1915. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall spoke here in 1950 when Hopewell was host to the NAACP Regional Convention. (1977) (3)

Other notes: The Hopewell Baptist Church has been demolished. Its historical marker sits on the site of the Terrell Griggs Marshall Legacy Park which is the original location of the church. Legacy Park is named after three distinguished and influential African-American men: Augustus H. Terrell, a Denison educational, community, and religious leader (1861-1929), Sutton Elbert Griggs, the son of Allen R. Griggs, a novelist who ministered in Denison at one time (1872-1933), and Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993). (4)

You may check out the extremely interesting Facebook comments at the following web address, but here are two:

“Doug Hoover Griggs and another man created the original group that evolved into the NAACP at the Hopewell Baptist Church. Karen Jones has the rare history book with the details.”

Jim Sears wrote: "In 1910 the Terrell family lived at 525 West Bond [Census]. That house is long gone." That land was part of the site of the first Hopewell Baptist Church, also long gone, and is part of the park shown above. Jim says, "I wonder how many of those present at the park's dedication knew that Augustus H. Terrell once lived with his family on its eastern edge."

Kentucky Town Baptist Church

What the THC Marker #009 says:

Founded 1853 by Kentuckians coming here by wagon train. Present building erected in 1904.(5)

Other notes: In 1852, Dr. Josiah L. Heiston laid out a town 18 miles east of Sherman, and named it Ann Eliza. That name did not suit the locals and it became known as Kentucky town. Kentucky Town Baptist Church lives on today.(6)

By 1855, the town had raised two schools, a church, a lodge, three saloons, and two hotels. A doctor and three lawyers also called Kentucky Town home. Quantrill’s Raiders also made their way through Kentucky Town. Dr. Heiston’s layout of this town gave it protection from Native American raids.(7)

The Sacred Heart is known as a lively, frontier type of Gospel singing that originated in Kentucky Town.(8)

This account of Reverend Cleophas Chumbley (1880-1943) by Joe Chumbley in 1975 gives a little hint of some of this church’s history. Rev. Chumbley was born in Naomi, Kentucky, and his family moved to Texas when he was 12-years old. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Dean shared their home with the Chumbleys’.

Rev. Chumbley grew up in the Kentucky Town Baptist church, He served as a Sunday school teacher, deacon, superintendent, and pastor. As a member and pastor, Rev. Chumbley made financial contributions to the church thoughout his tenure, including the cost of painting and repairs.

“During its annual session in 1944, the Grayson County Baptist Association dedicated the first page of its minutes to memory of . . .the beloved pastor, preacher, and friend who lived nobly and effectively in the Christian ministry . . .”(9)

Pilot Grove Baptist Church

What the THC Marker #012 says:

Founded in early 1850s. On Bonham-McKinney stage fine called Lick Skillet; renamed 1858 for J. P. Dumas' ranch. Site of Lee-Peacock feud 1865-1871, between ex-Confederate Capt. Bob Lee with his gold, and union supporter, Lewis Peacock. Although Lee was killed in 1865, his followers carried on the fight until Peacock was shot. (10)

Land was donated by Hezekiah Warden on June 3, 1848, to the United Baptist Church. The church was organized by Elder John A. Piars, Elder Benjamin Watson, and Elder George F. Calor. The congregation met in members' homes until funds were sufficient to build a sanctuary in December, 1876. Records show that on August 14, 1858, Adeline Marchman was the first to be received into the church by profession of faith.

The original building was damaged by a tornado in the early 1900s. In April, 1917, the structure now standing was erected. By 1850 Pilot Grove was one of the largest communities in Grayson County. It boasted a post office, two doctors, a blacksmith, grist mill, a drug store and one of the first cotton gins. The town community succeeded until WWII, when people left to join the armed forces and for defense jobs in larger cities. Pilot Grove Baptist Church still lives on with services and community interests.

Other notes: This congregation traces its history to the establishment of the United Baptist Church here in 1848 on 3.5 acres of land donated by Hezakiah Warden. Hezekiah (1805-____) and his wife Sarah Butler (1813-1859) are buried in unmarked graves in the Warden Cemetary. Their son, Joab. has a grave stone in the Old Pilot Grove Cemetary.(11)

“Early worship services were held in members' homes and in a local schoolhouse until a sanctuary was built in 1876. During this time and until the early 1970s, new converts were baptized in nearby Pilot Grove Creek.”(12)

Lick Skillet, Texas, or Pilot Grove, Texas, as it is known today, is found on FM 121 sixteen miles southeast of Sherman. The stage stop in Pilot Grove had such great food that the passengers licked their skillets clean. This Baptist Church was located at the southwest corner of Pilot Grove Rd. and Studebaker Rd. until 1917. (13)

Primitive Baptist Church of Tioga

What the THC Marker #035 says:

Organized in 1884, in Lone Star, moved to Tioga, 1893. Present church built in 1948. T. N. Cutler,

Organized in 1884, in Lone Star, moved to Tioga, 1893. Present church built in 1948. T. N. Cutler, first pastor. Sam Rayburn, Speaker of U.S. House of Representatives was baptized here in1956 by H. G. Ball. Elder Ball conducted Rayburn's funeral in Bonham, 1961. Five presidents attended.(14)

Author Unknown:

“There were twelve children in our family of which I was the youngest. Our family moved to Texas in 1896, locating near Gainesville, Texas. There were no Primitive Baptists in the country where we lived. . . In April of the year 1904 while in the field at work, my every thought seemed to be in prayer, not only asking, but begging the Lord for His mercy. . .I do not know when I was first asked to take part in a church service publicly, but I think it was in 1909, and possibly by Brother J. D. Burgin. To my surprise in so doing my soul became, for a time, at rest from the anxieties that had oppressed me. . .In May 1912, I was ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry by a presbytery composed of some of the most noble of the earth, Elders J. A. Paine, J. G. Webb, James Duncan, P. D. Ausmus, A. P. Johnson, J. W. Purefoy and H. G. Ball. . . Bro. Ball owned and operated his own insurance business and a grocery store in Tioga for forty-five years. His store was one of several in Tioga that allowed farmers to charge their groceries, chicken feed and other goods until crops were gathered.

He (Henry G. Ball) was the pastor of the Primitive Baptist Church in Tioga. He was a member of the Grayson County School Board and the Grayson County Draft Board. In the 1940s he served as Mayor of Tioga.

Elder H.G. Ball, 83, of Tioga who baptized Senator Sam Rayburn of Bonham on September 2, 1952, preached his funeral on November 18, 1961 with John F. Kennedy, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and future President Richard M. Nixon, plus 128 members of the U.S. Congress in attendance. Elder Ball died in Sherman with his funeral services being held in the Primitive Baptist Church of Tioga and with burial in the Tioga Cemetery (1970).”(15)

Central Christian Church

What the THC Marker #114 says:

This congregation traces its beginning to the late 1850s, when pioneer minister Benjamin Franklin Hall came to this area to preach and organize a church. Early meeting places included a brush arbor and a union meeting house at the local Masonic hall. A sanctuary was built in 1875 on the corner of Montgomery and Houston streets. A site on the corner of Travis and Cherry streets was acquired in 1905. A part of Grayson County history, this church has served the people of Sherman for over 130 years. (1987) (16)

The following is reprinted from: Texas State Historical Association Handbook of Texas Online:

“Hall, Benjamin Franklin (1803–1873). Benjamin Franklin Hall, minister and soldier, was born in Christian County, Kentucky, on June 13, 1803, the son of a Revolutionary War soldier and early settler of Limestone, Kentucky, and Martha (Foster). Hall was ordained by Barton Warren Stone, Sr., and preached with Alexander Campbell. He wrote numerous articles for Campbell's Millenial Harbinger (which was published from 1830 to 1870) and before coming to Texas was coeditor with J. T. Johnson of the Gospel Advocate, begun in 1835 in Georgetown, Kentucky. (This newspaper should not be confused with a later Gospel Advocate published in Nashville).

Hall was married three times, first in 1827 to Dorindo Chisholm, with whom he had twins and who died in 1830; in 1836 to Susan Ball, a widow, whom Hall described as a strong-willed and bitter woman. This troubled marriage ended in divorce after she abandoned him. Texas law permitted divorce after five years of absence by a wife. Not knowing whether the second Mrs. Hall was living, in 1863 Hall married Elizabeth Collins; this marriage subjected him to much criticism and finally a church trial at Mantua, which was decided in his favor.

Known as the "strolling dentist," Hall often took preaching journeys, principally in the South, where he established and nourished young frontier congregations. He also worked briefly for a New Orleans firm locating land on the Texas frontier and may have also studied law at this time. On his first trip in Texas in the winter of 1848–49 he traveled from Aransas Bay to San Antonio and visited Goliad and the Alamo.

He preached for churches in Kentucky and Tennessee before 1856, when he moved to Texas. His subsequent ministry was chiefly in Grayson, Collin, and Dallas counties. With Nathan H. O. Polly he started congregations in many North Texas locations. During the Civil War he was chaplain in the Sixth Texas Cavalry, organized by Col. Barton W. Stone, Jr., of Dallas. Chaplain Hall served for nine months and was in the battles of Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove, near Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The Dallas Herald (see DALLAS TIMES HERALD) stated about Hall: "As a scholar and pulpit orator he has but few equals. Deeply versed in the Sacred Scriptures, he proclaims their truths with telling effect." He died at his home in Kentucky Town, a Grayson County community, on May 1, 1873. He was a friend of Collin McKinney and is buried in the McKinney plot in the Van Alstyne cemetery.”(17)

*If you belong to or know of a Texoma church with an interesting historical origin, please shoot me an email at:

**If you have information about one of these churches, and I have recorded its history inaccurately, please let me know so that I can correct it.









8. Chumbley, Joe W. Kentucky Town and its Baptist Church. D. Armstrong, Houston. (1975)





13. Cannon, Bill. Texas: Land of Legend and Lore. Taylor Trade, Lanham. (2004) Page 155.



16. The “Baptist Trumpet”, October 1970, Little Rock, AR. Elder Henry Ball and wife Minnie


18. Handbook of Texas Online, R. L. Roberts, "Hall, Benjamin Franklin," accessed June 29, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

PICTURES: Top to Bottom

1. Hopewell Baptist Church
2. Kentucky Town Baptist Church
3. Pilot Grove Baptist Church
4. Henry and Minnie Ball
5. Dr. Franklin Benjamin Hall



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