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Tebo Baptist Church History Henry County Missouri

Historical Sketch of Tebo Baptist Association

Reprinted From: Inventory of the Church Archives of Missouri: Tebo Baptist Association

Prepared By: Missouri Historical Records Survey, Division of Professional and Service Projects, Work Projects Administration, St. Louis, Missouri, February 1941

This historical sketch is reprinted from the Inventory of the Church Archives of Missouri: Tebo Baptist Association. It is issued in response to demands received for a reprint of the history of the association for distribution to interested persons. - A. Loyd Collins, State Supervisor, Historical records Survey, February 3, 1941


Dr. John F. Herget, President, William Jewell College, and Missouri Baptist Historical Society

John G. Putz, President, Cape Girardeau County Historical Society

Henry C. Chiles, President, Lexington Historical Society

Prof. R. F. Wood, Associate Professor of History, Central Missouri State Teacher's College; President, Johnson County Historical Society

Dr. Ralph P. Bieber, Professor of History, Washington University

Dr. Uel W. Lamkin, President, Northwest Missouri State Teacher's College.

George Pohlman, President, Macon County Historical Society

Charles H. Whitaker, Sr., Editor, The Clinton Daily Democrat

Dr. C. H. McClure, Head of Division of Social Science, Northeast Missouri State Teacher's College

Dr. Jonas Viles, Professor of History, University of Missouri

Dr. E. A. Collins, Southeast State Teacher's College, Cape Girardeau, Missouri


Baptists in Missouri

The first known members of the Baptist denomination who located in Missouri were Thomas Bull and his wife and her mother, Mrs. Lee, who settled in what is now Cape Girardeau County in 1796. Although most of the early settlers in the territory were of the Catholic faith, there were a few Protestants in the region. This is evidenced in a report by Gayare to the Bishop of Havana on the religious situation in 1772, which mentions the fact that some Protestants and Jews had been expelled.

Reverend Josiah Dodge, a Baptist minister from Nelson, Kentucky, delivered the first protestant sermon known to have been preached west of the Mississippi River. It was delivered in February 1794 while he was visiting his brother, Dr. Israel Dodge, near Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

Elder John Clark, a "Baptist in principle" but a Methodist at the time, made several missionary trips from Illinois to St. Louis and vicinity in 1796. Three years later Rev. Thomas Johnson, an aged Baptist clergyman from Georgia and one time missionary to the Cherokee Indians, visited the Cape Girardeau district. While there he administered the ordinance of baptism to Mrs. Agnes Ballew in the waters of Randall Creek, which was probably the first Protestant baptism west of the Mississippi.

Another early Baptist preacher who visited and preached in St. Louis County as early as 1801 was Thomas R. Musick of Kentucky. He later became a citizen of St. Louis and was instrumental in the organization of Fee Fee Baptist Church in 1807.

Elder David Green, a native of Virginia, came to the territory from Kentucky in 1805 and did much to spread Christianity in early Missouri. He preached to a few Baptist families that had settled in what was known as Tywappity Bottom, about 10 or 12 miles south of where Cape Girardeau is now located. After having preached a few sermons to these families, Rev. Mr. Green returned to Kentucky, and some 8 or 10 persons organized the Tywappity Baptist Church in 1805 in what is now Scott County at the site of Commerce, Missouri. This church soon died. The following year Elder Green moved with his family to Missouri. Here at the home of Thomas Bull, 2 miles south of the present town of Jackson, Missouri, on July 19, 1806, was organized Bethel Baptist Church, the first permanent Protestant church west of the Mississippi River. David Green, minister, and George Lawrence and Henry Cockerham, deacons, officiated in the organization of the church. The constituent members were: David Green, Thomas English, William Mathews, Leonna Green, William Smith, Jane English, Agnes Ballew, Thomas Bull, Clary Abernathy, Edward Spears, Catherine Anderson, Anderson Rogers, Rebekah Randal, John Hitt and Frances Hitt. Thomas Bull was writing clerk, William Mathews was selected as singing clerk, and elder David Green served as pastor until his death in 1809.

The first meetings of the church were held in the various homes in the community. A log church building was erected on the farm of Thomas Bull in 1813, and John Hitt was appointed doorkeeper of the church.

From these beginnings in southeast Missouri, the Baptist denomination spread to St. Louis where Fee Fee and Cold Water churches were organized in 1807 and 1809 respectively. Other churches were soon established as the Baptist denomination moved farther west to Montgomery County, where some Baptist families settled as early as 1809. The Baptists gradually moved to the central, western, and northern parts of Missouri. Rev. Thomas Fristoe preached in the schoolhouses and log cabins in Chariton, Carroll, Linn, Randolph, Monroe, Lafayette, and Howard Counties.

Fishing River Association, embraced churches in Clay County and the surrounding territory, was organized in 1823. Blue River Association, consisting of churches in Central Missouri, was organized from churches dismissed from the Fishing River Association in 1834. This was followed by the organization of 10 churches in 1855 from the Blue River Association into a new association known as the Tebo Baptist Association. This association included 4 churches from Henry County, 3 from Benton county, and 3 from Pettis County.


The Tebo Baptist Association now comprises all the white Baptist churches located in Henry County, Missouri. They all belong to the Southern Baptist Convention and are affiliated with the Missouri Baptist General Association.

The first settlers came to what is now Henry County in 1830, and the first religious services were held that year at the cabins of the settlers by Rev. Addison Young, a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher. A Methodist circuit rider, Rev. Abraham Millice, preached in the county in 1831, and Thomas Keeney, a Baptist minister, preached to the pioneer settlers during the following year.

Elder Henry Avery, a minister of the Primitive Baptist (Anti-missionary) faith came to the county in 1831 and was the first resident minister in the county. He was born in Roane County, Tennessee, October 18, 1795. He united with the Big Fort Baptist Church in Tennessee in 1826, moved to St. Louis County, Missouri in 1830, and came to Henry County on July 10, 1831. He affiliated with the High Point Church in Johnson County and was granted a license to preach by that organization. The following year he was ordained by a presbytery of that church composed of Elders J. Warder, J. White, Thomas Ricketts and William Simpson. He traveled extensively over central and western Missouri and preached to both the Indians and whites until his death on September 26, 1845.

The first church in Henry County was organized on May 4, 1839 at a log school on Tebo Creek about 3 miles northwest of Calhoun, Missouri. It was of the Primitive Baptist faith and chose as its name "The United Baptist Church of Jesus Christ at Sardis". It was later known as Sardis Baptist Church. The constitution of the church rejected the missionary principle of preaching the gospel to the entire world by the following statement: "We declare that we have no fellowship for the Missionary Tract Sunday School Temperance Societies and believing they are inimical to the peace and harmony of the Church of Jesus Christ will not there fore tolerate any of our members in any of the above Societies, although any member has a right to dispose of his or her money as he or she may think proper in a lawful manner."

The second church was founded in Henry County in 1840 and was called the Tebo Baptist Church. It was organized in the eastern part of the county on Tebo Creek in Leesville Township. A rude log church building was erected which served two purposes, that of a church in which to worship, and a school in which to educate the children of the community. The seats were made of split logs and a large fireplace heated the building. The church was anti-missionary (Primitive Baptist) until 1863, when it entered the Tebo Baptist Association as a missionary church.

The third Baptist Church was organized in Henry County in 1844 and named the Mt. Olivet Church. It was located in the eastern part of the county about 10 miles south of Windsor. This was followed by the organization of the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church (later known as the First Baptist Church of Windsor, Missouri) in 1853, the Calhoun Baptist Church in 1854, the Bethlehem Baptist Church in 1854, and the Mt. Zion Church in 1855.

The early church was generally a log building rudely furnished with log benches for seats and a crude pulpit at one end of the room for the preacher. The sermons were usually very long and full of the fear and wrath of God. Common subjects for sermons in the early days were Sin, Hell, Destruction, Death, Wickedness, Eternal Punishment, and the like. Just in front of the pulpit they had what was known as a mourners' bench, where people went to lament their sins and to be prayed for. The sermon was considered good if the mourners' bench was filled during the preaching of it.

Musical instruments were unknown in the early churches. Someone who could sing would "Line off" with a song, and then the congregation would sing it line by line as it was read off to them. The women sat on one side of the church building and the men on the other. "Experience meetings" were often held in which the different members of the church or those present would tell of their religious experiences, of what God had done for them, and how He had helped them in their many trials. Sermons were filled with death-bed stories and sentiments to arouse the feelings and passions of the congregation. People often became so excited during the service that they shouted.

The camp meeting, the most important gathering in the pioneer community, was common in the early days. It was an outdoor meeting generally held in the fall, and those attending would camp on the grounds until the meeting disbanded. Morning, afternoon, and evening services were held. A stand was built five or six feet high, and covered with dirt or sand. A fire built upon this platform furnished light for the meeting.

The Tebo Baptist Association was organized by representatives from churches of Henry, Benton and Pettis Counties, which met with the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church at Goodin schoolhouse in Henry County about half a mile south of the site of the present town of Windsor, Missouri, September 7, 1855. The following churches were represented: Mt. Olivet, Bethlehem, Mt. Zion, and Pleasant Grove from Henry County; Spring Grove, Mt. Pleasant and Warsaw from Benton County; and Elk Fork, Salem and Bethel from Pettis County. These churches had letters of dismissal from the Blue River Association for the purpose of organizing a separate association. Elder William A. Gray was chosen moderator of the meeting, and Elder C. J. Teas, clerk. The association was called the Tebo United Baptist Association, and the word United was eliminated in 1870. It was the early custom of the association to meet on Saturday and organize, hold worship services Sunday, and open their regular business sessions Monday morning.

The association adopted the abstract of principles known as the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, as set forth in the Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. This declaration of belief is set forth in the original minute book (abridged) as follows:

Declaration of Faith

1st - Of the Scriptures - We believe the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired ...

2nd - Of the True God - That there is one and only one true and living God, whose name is Jehovah, the maker and Supreme Ruler of heaven and earth ...

3rd - Of the Fall of Man - That man was created in a state of holiness ... but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state, and in consequence on which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint but choice ...

4th - Of the Way of Salvation - That the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace ... through the Son of God ...

5th - Of Justification - That the great gospel blessing, which ... Christ bestows on such as believe in Him, is justification; that justification consists in the pardon of sin and the promise of eternal life; that it is bestowed not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through his own redemption and righteousness ...

6th - Of the Freeness of Salvation - That the blessings of salvation are made free to all by the gospel, that it is the duty of all to accept them by a cordial and obedient faith, and that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth except his own voluntary refusal to submit.

7th - Of Grace in Regeneration - That in order to be saved, we must be regenerated or born again ... by the power of the Holy Spirit ...

8th - Of God's Purpose of Grace - That election is the gracious purpose of God according to which he regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners.

9th - Of the Preservance of the Saints - That such as are real believers ... endure unto the end.

10th - Harmony of the Law and Gospel - That the law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of ... moral government

11th - Of a Gospel Church - That a visible Church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the ordinances of Christ; governed by his laws; and exercising the gifts, rights and privileges invested in them by his word ...

12th - Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper - That Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water ... to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem our faith in a crucified, buried and risen Savior ... the Lord's Supper, in which the members of the church by the use of bread and wine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ ...

13th - Of the Christian Sabbath - That the first day of the week is the Lord's day, or Christian Sabbath, and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes by abstaining from all secular labor and recreation ...

14th - Of Civil Government - That civil government is of divine appointment, for the interest and good order of human society ...

15th - Of the Righteous and the Wicked - That there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked; that such only as through faith are justified ... and are truly righteous in his esteem; while all such as continue in unbelief ... are in his sight wicked ... and this distinction holds among men both in and after death.

16th - Of the World to Come - That the end of this world is approaching; that on the last day Christ will descent from heaven and raise the dead from their graves ... that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment and the righteous to endless joy.

The association at its first meeting also adopted the following constitution for its organization and government, which is still in force:

Constitution of the United Baptist Association

Art. 1 - This association shall be known as Tebo Baptist Association, shall be composed of such Baptist churches as shall agree to the constitution and our "Articles of Faith".

Art. 2 - This association shall not be a legislative body; neither shall it exercise authority over the churches, which compose its body; but claims the right to reject any church that may become corrupt in practice or unsound in faith.

Art. 3 - This association shall endeavor to promote the union of the churches, give them advice in matters of difficulty, inquire why churches fail to represent themselves in this body, but will not sanction the reception by one church composing this body, the excluded members of a sister church, until the right of such membership shall have been expressed by a council from sister churches in the association.

Art. 4 - In case of difficulty between churches, we advise them to proceed as in individual offenses, (see Matt. 18), and if satisfaction is not obtained, the association will advise or finally decide the case if requested to do so.

Art. 5 - New churches may be admitted to this body, which agree to our constitution and "Articles of Faith", if constituted in regular order as a Baptist church.

Art. 6 - In the letters from the churches shall be stated the number received by experience and baptism, by letter and relation and by restoration; also the number dismissed by letter, exclusion, and death since the last association, with the total number in full fellowship.

Art. 7 - We concur in the tenth article of the terms of the General Union of Baptists as found in Benedict's Church History, page 822, that each church and association may keep their own government, as to them may seem best, and that a free correspondent and communion be kept between the churches.

Art. 8 - this association claims the right to adopt such By-Laws as it may deem necessary, and amend or alter the constitution or By-Laws by a concurrence of two-thirds of the messengers.

Art. 9 - The association shall hold its meetings at such times and places as it may from time to time appoint.

Art. 10 - The executive board shall be composed of the pastors of the churches of the association; one member duly elected from each church; and all the elective officers of the association.

The association passed a resolution endorsing mission work: "We deem it expedient to recommend to the churches which compose this association, the propriety of sustaining their ministers, and embrace all possible opportunities to supply the destitution during the present year, and that they send contributions (and purposes) to the next annual meeting, the necessity of which we beg leave to urge."

The aggregate membership to the churches forming the association in 1855 was 489. The following ministers were present at the organization: W. P. C. Caldwell, W. White, William A. Gray, B. F. Goodwin, Peter Brown and H. F. Thompson. Correspondence was opened with the Saline, Blue River and Concord Baptist Association, and a mission offering amounting to $12.00 was "taken up".

The second annual session of the association was held with the Mt. Zion Church on September 13, 1856. The introductory sermon was preached by Bro. Wm. A. Gray, moderator. At this session High Point Church in Johnson County, Missouri asked to be admitted as a member of the association; but this request was rejected and the church was declared to be disorderly because it had arraigned Rev. W. P. C. Caldwell for trial because he had joined a Masonic Lodge. A resolution was passed requesting the churches to recognize no baptism as valid which was not administered by regular ministers of the Baptist denomination.

Elder Wm. White was appointed as the first associational missionary in 1857, and his salary was set at $20.00 a month. The following year he summarized his services as follows: Labored five months and 25 days - preached 110 sermons - 20 conversions - baptized 10 - organized two churches - received for services $108.80, collecting $15.20 of the same upon the field.

The association early took a definite stand against the use of intoxicating liquors. The Committee on Temperance in 1857 submitted the following report which was adopted:

"We believe an individual unfit for membership in the churches who will stoop to the degrading business of dram shop keeping, and that there is as much sin in dram buying and drinking as there is in dram selling, and while whisky may be good for snake bites and sick horses, it is far better to let the horses die and depend on the physician to cure the sick than to fill the State prison with convicts and the poor house with paupers and crowd the infernal regions with so many thousands of drunkards, for the Scriptures say 'no drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of heaven."

In 1858 the association adopted a report recommending it be made an offense for church members to make, buy, sell or use intoxicating liquors.

The association recommended the organization of Sunday Schools in the churches in 1858, and that the condition of the same be reported in the annual church letters. In 1868, the Sunday School Committee reported as follows: "We believe that God approves the work of the Sunday School and recommend that every member of the church be urged to attend, and that the pastors be urged to take an active part in the Sunday School." A District Sunday School Convention was organized in the same year as an auxiliary of the association.

By 1887, over fifty per cent of the churches had active Sunday Schools, and by 1904 there was only one church in the entire association which did not have a Sunday School. The dates of the establishment of the Sunday Schools in the various churches are reported in the minutes as follows: Bethlehem 1834?, Brownington 1884, Good Hope 1867, Quarles 1892, Stone Mission 1898, Hickory Grove 1904, Finey 1900, Clinton 1869, Mt. Gilead 1868, Mt. Zion 1901, Garland 1890, Pleasant Valley 1885, Windsor 1867, Calhoun 1884, Corinth 1896, Deepwater 1890, Hartwell 1879, LaDue 1904 and Montrose 1879. In several instances it will be noted that the date of the organization of the Sunday School preceded that of the church; in fact, in some cases the church itself was an outgrowth of the Sunday School.

The association undertook an educational project in 1858. Prof. Joel Townsend, principal of the Calhoun Academy, Calhoun, Missouri, tendered his school to the association, consisting of two acres of ground and a building 24 x 48 feet, provided the association would assume $800 indebtedness which was against the same. His proposition was accepted and the following board of trustees were appointed in 1858 for the management of the academy: A. D. Landrum, W. A. Gray, Joel Townsend, L. J. Bronaugh and A. Campbell. Rev. R. D. Lawler was made principal of the school in 1869. The next year he reported an enrollment of 90, including four ministerial students. The remaining indebtedness against the institution, $190, was finally liquidated in 1876.

Reports on the work of the academy were made to the association until 1877, when it ceased to exist. It was a difficult task to liquidate the indebtedness of the institution. Speaking of this problem in 1868, Peter Brown wrote: "It is a great pity that this concern did not long ere this burn down ... much money which might have otherwise done good was lost to the association, just to built up an institution of learning for a few citizens of Calhoun. May it be a lesson to us.

The work of the churches in the association showed marked progress and development each year prior to the Civil War, but practically all church activities ceased in the county during the war. Mt. Olivet and Tebo Churches continued to hold occasional meetings, but all the other Baptist churches were closed in the county for the duration of the war. Rev. William A. Gray held the Mt. Olivet and Tebo congregations together during the struggle between the North and South, although the work of both congregations reached a low ebb.

Rev. William A. Gray, stalwart religious leader, a native of Christian County, Kentucky, was born October 16, 1815, came to Henry County in 1836 and taught school for fourteen years. He was converted and joined the Clear Creek Baptist Church in Benton County, Missouri in June 1843. He was licensed to preach in November of the same year and ordained in January 1844. He served as pastor of the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church from 1844 to 1888; moderator of the Tebo Baptist Association from 1855 to 1894; and died September 28, 1895.

A few representatives of the association met at Pleasant Grove Church in 1861, but they adjourned to meet at Mt. Olivet the following year. No business was transacted at the session in 1862. All they did was to hold worship service on Sunday and adjourn. No further attempts were made to hold a meeting of the association until 1865 when the representatives of the churches at Mt. Olivet, Bethlehem, Pleasant Grove, and Tebo met at the Mt. Olivet Church and reported a total of 359 members and 98 baptisms. "Great desolation was found to exist among the churches," but a period of reconstruction and renewed interest and growth soon followed. Ten new churches were added to the association at its annual session in 1867, namely, Pleasant Hill, Cedar Grove, Mt. Hope, Liberty, Wright's Creek, Osage, First Baptist Church of Clinton, Monegaw, Mt. Gilead and Pleasant Gap. Fourteen that were dropped for various reasons were Spring Grove, first Warsaw, County Line, Bethlehem, Harmony, Hogles Creek, Red Dirt, Mt. Hope, Deepwater, Brushy, Cold Spring, Panther Creek, New Salem and Union. In 1878 the association was composed of 50 different churches with a total membership of 1,874; and in 1881 there were 30 churches and 1,904 members. Tebo Association had 16 ministers and 28 churches in 1889 with a total membership of 2,299. Twenty-one churches were reported in 1933 with 3,547 members and 148 baptisms for the year.

The association has always been an active missionary organization. The minutes of 1883 state: "The Foreign Mission Board having appointed Miss Emma Young of Greenfield, Missouri, a graduate of Southwest Baptist College, to the Canton mission field in China, we the Tebo Association, adopt her as our missionary and pledge ourselves for her support."

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, several of the churches of the association have maintained organizations for their young people. The churches reporting Baptist Young People's Unions in 1906 were Calhoun, Clinton, Deepwater, Montrose, Mt. Olivet, Urich and Windsor.

The Association Board was incorporated in 1917 under the laws of the State of Missouri as a corporation, under the name of "The Associational Board of the Tebo Association." This board exercises executive control of the affairs of the association during the intervals between the annual sessions of the association.

Women's Work and Missions in the Association

The women of the First Baptist Church in Clinton, Missouri, under the leadership of Mrs. J. P. Kline, organized a Foreign Mission Circle in April 1875. The minutes of the Tebo Baptist Association for 1884 contain the following recommendation: "We also suggest, where practicable, that a Woman's Foreign Missionary Society be established in each church." Steps were taken by the women to organize their work in the association in 1887: "the Sisters of Tebo Association held an interesting missionary meeting Wednesday afternoon, at which Sister E. L. Foote was elected president and Sister S. A. Brown, secretary. The association requested Sister Brown to organize circles among our churches in the interest of Foreign and Domestic Missions." The following year the minutes read: "The Sisters of Tebo Association held a missionary meeting Wednesday afternoon and effected a permanent organization, of which Sister S. A. Brown, of Clinton, was chosen president." In 1899 a motion was made and carried at the Tebo Associational meeting to add to the standing committees of the association one on "Women's Work."

At the 1927 session of the association, held with the Baptist church at Clinton, Missouri, a district Woman's Missionary Union was organized, and this was supplanted by the present (1940) Tebo Associational Women's Missionary Union, organized at the associational meeting held at Urich, Missouri in 1930. The W. M. U. (Women's Missionary Union) sponsors mission study and takes special financial contributions to promote various phases of mission work. In 1938, under the direction of the county president, Mrs. A. Loyd Collins, the first camp for young people was held in the Reunion Park at Urich, Missouri.

The religious status of the Tebo Baptist Association according to the last official report of 1939 is as follows: Number of active churches 20, total church membership 3990, a net gain of 159 as compared with 1938; total Sunday School enrollment 2484; total average Sunday School attendance 1237; number of Baptist Training Unions 33; total enrollment in Baptist Training Unions 394; total number of Women's Missionary Unions 24; total enrollment in Women's Missionary Unions 410; total value of church property in the association $120,650; total amount of gifts to local church work $21,052.89; total amount of gifts to District Mission $915.31; total amount of gifts to Southwide Co-operative Program $2057.20; total gifts to all other missionary benevolence $1265.84; and total financial contributions for the year $25,291.24.

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