Part 2, The Old Macedonia Baptist Church
The pastors of the Macedonia church were Rev. Joseph Bird, 1880-81; Elder R. J. McNeil, 1881-82; Rev. J. F. Hillyer, 1882-83; Rev. Joseph Bird part of the time 1883 and 1884; W. B. Harmon preached some about this time for the church and also, Rev. E. K. Branch. In the autumn of 1884, the church called Rev. G. W. Johnson as pastor. Rev. C. B. Hollis was pastor during the year of 1886 and 1887. Rev. W. B. Harmon was called as pastor March, 1887, and served as pastor until July 1890. Rev. G. W. A. Latham was chosen pastor July, 1890 and served the church until August, 1891, when Rev. C. M. Hornburg was elected as pastor and served until October 1892, when Rev. J. N. Marshall was called as pastor and served for one year, November 1893. Then Rev. G. W. A. Latham was called as pastor again and served until December 1894. Rev. J. C. Dodges was called to the care of the church December, 1894, and he and Rev. G. W. A. Latham were pastors of the church until 1898, when Rev. Latham moved to New Mexico. Rev. Jay Dodgen was the pastor until August, 1899, when Macedonia church was dissolved by mutual consent, as so many of the members had moved away or united with other churches. J. V. Latham was elected church clerk August 1890. He was clerk for about two years. J. C. Hardin was moderator and church clerk pro tem often. Ed Hardin was the church clerk when the church disbanded in September, 1899.
Rev. J. C. Dodgen Many were the happy days that we spent at that old church and school-house with our grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and sweethearts. We would go in wagons and on horseback and take our dinners, good old chicken and hog meat. G. W. A. Latham, Hick L. Tate and Ben M. Gibson always made the coffer, regular cowboy coffee and it was good and strong, and that was the kind that Uncle George Latham always liked. Mr. and Mrs. Hick Tate were not members of the Macedonia church, but lived in that community and always did their part generously in everything. Mrs. Hick Tate was Miss Fannie Latham, a daughter of Wm. Latham, but was reared by her grandfather, Dr. V. G. Latham, in Rolla, Mo. She came to Texas with her father and grandfather in 1875, and her brother V. G. Latham, Jr. Mrs. B. M. Gibson was a daughter of William Latham. She, too, came to Texas with the Latham immigrants in 1875. I can remember what a thrill we children got when we saw the immigrants coming. There must have been about twenty covered wagons and some hacks and buggies.
My father had just had this house built and it was new and on a hill. We had not moved into it and we were living in a log house, but when we saw the wagons coming around the field, mother took all of us up to the new house on the hill and the immigrants drove around on the flat back of the house with their wagons and teams, great big old Missouri horses. We had been accustomed to the Texas cow pony. My father bought all that we had in Austin, sixty miles away. He bought cloth by the bolt and I think that four of us little sisters all had on a calico dress off the same bolt of calico, but my oldest sister, Annie, had traded a dress off this bolt of cloth to our cousin, Millie Green, for a ready-made dress, and our cousins from Missouri thought that it was a right stylish looking dress for one who lived so far out on the frontier. But those were good old days, when the grass grew green up around the door and the cattle and horses grazed on it. And there were no wire fences nor bank robbers. I have seen my father put a blanket down on the floor and pour out hundreds of dollars and count it out. I suppose he would bring it from Austin for himself and his neighbors. When brother Jim Latham was about ten or twelve years old my father sent him to Mr. Sam Tate to take five or six hundred dollars in a duck money bag, a distance of eight miles through the wilderness, not a house near the road. Jim rode his noted mount, Horace Greely, a little mule. Lewis L. Green said that the Little Hope Baptist church was organized under a brush arbor on Walnut Creek, and that the church practiced foot washing for awhile. We are sure that these old pioneers did not know the good seed that they were solving at that time but the song of the sower and the voice of the reaper will mingle together in glory by and by.
There were some good singers among the young men in those days. Ralph Haynes. Ed Hardin, J. V. Latham, J. Y. Latham and James Green Richards had a wonderful bass voice. Our hearts were made sad when in the autumn of 1885 four of our young men were called to their reward, and our church singing circle was broken. George A. Haynes, James G. Richards, Vance Richards, and Frank Yoast, and in June, 1886, Harry Walker, a member of our church was called home. Not many of the old settlers are left in that once prosperous community. Some of the old homes are standing in pastures while some of them have been burned. This dear old Macedonia church house was burned in the autumn of 1926, but the memory of the happy days we spent on that sacred spot will always remain with us. There is where many of us went to our first school. It was in that house that I taught my first school in the spring of the year and the valley was blue from buffalo clover blossoms. Many are the joys and sorrows that we have had there. But the many ties of love and friendship which were made there will mingle with our thoughts throughout the ceaseless cycles of eternity. And we are sure that many of those faithful ones who have gone on before, as well as those who still remain, will receive that blessed applaudit: "The fight you have fought Good service you have wrought. Well done, Faithful Ones, “Enter, in, for your work is done." When we think of these old pioneers and think what wonderful frontiersmen they were we cannot express deeply enough the respect and emotion which arises within us.
While Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Tate were not Baptists, they and their children attended the Macedonia church often and helped in a number of ways. They were members of the Methodist church and Christians. Mrs. Tate was a noble Christian mother and neighbor. Mr. Tate was a generous man and a staunch Mason. There was a Masonic lodge founded on his place as early as 1865. They were old time Southern hospitable people and the latch string always hung on the outside. They reared twelve children. John C. Tate, their oldest son was an old time trail driver.
My mother also reared twelve children and one day when I was at Mr. Tates they were talking something about paying poll tax, and I asked Mr. Tate, " Do parents have to pay poll tax on all their children?" Mr. Tate laughingly replied, "No, my child, if they did your father and I would soon go broke. "
I must admit that I was a number of years younger then than I am today. These old pioneer men did not know what day they would return home and find their wives and little ones murdered by the fiendish hands of the ever marauding Comanche, but they knew that they were in a good country and stayed with it and most of them became prosperous.
Mr. and Mrs. William Hardin united with the Macedonia Baptist church in July, 1884, on recommendation. Believe they must have belonged to the Comanche Creek Church when it dissolved.
"Uncle Billy" and "Aunt Mary" as they were lovingly called, lived in the Comanche Creek community. I believe that they lived on the place that was settled by George Hardin, the father of the Hardin brothers. Uncle Billy and Aunt Mary were well fitted for the strenuous times they had to live through. They lived out farther west, for awhile near the Saline, in Mason County, and endured great hardships. Joe Hardin also lived near them, and I am sure that I have been told that the Indians ripped up the feather beds and burned Joe Hardin's house. In the Comanche Creek country Uncle Billy and Aunt Mary lived in, a house by the aide of the road where they were friends to their fellow travelers and what Aunt Mary meant to the mothers of the community, God alone knows. Aunt Mary, though nearing the century mark, still lives in the old home with her youngest son, Lon Hardin. Her oldest son, J. C. Hardin, lives at Willow City, Texas. They reared nine honorable children, who will rise up and call them blessed Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Philips came from Fayette county to what must be Gillispie county now, near Hudson Mountain, not very far from Willow City. Mrs. Phillips was Mellisie Crownover, a sister of Rev. Arthur Crownover, who was a Methodist minister: Mrs. Phillips was a Methodist. I am sure that they moved from near Willow City on account of the Indians, as it was so sparsely settled. They settled on Pecan Creek, about one mile from where Macedonia church was afterwards built. They came to that country in an early day. Mr. Phillips was an old time soldier. I think that he fought in the Mexican War. And also, I think that he was in the fight with the Indians. At Plum Creek after they and robbed the store at Linnville down near Lockhart. If he was not in the fight he knew a lot about it, because he told me that the Indians had rubbed the store and gotten bolts of cloth and had tied it to their horses tails. Some squaws were along and they were riding along holding parasol's over themselves. And the chief had gotten what we called a Yankee overcoat, a big blue coat with large cape and trimmed in brass buttons. Mr. Chief had that on and it buttoned up the back, and I think it was in the summer time. Mr. and Mrs. Phillips our neighbors, and royal neighbors they were during those strenuous days of having to deal with the Indians. There was old Pecan Creek, which went in rather a circuitous route from our house to Mr. Phillips. It was densely timbered and one day when the Indians came to Mr. Phillips' barn and drove his horses away and Mr. Phillips and sons began shooting at them from the house. The Indians were shooting arrows at them and they were falling on the house and Mary Phillips, who was a plucky young lady, left the house and ran up the creek for about one mile and a half to tell their neighbor, John Backus, that the Indians were at their house. Mary Phillips married John Haynes and is still living in San Antonio. Those frontier women were as brave as the men and the wonderful deeds that they did. During the time that the Indians were up at his barn after the horses and he and his sons were shooting at them from the yard, Mrs. Phillips took her baby boy and went out into the field, which joined on to the yard, and tried to hide in the corn. I think the Indians got the horses and no one was hurt. Mr. Phillips told me that while he was planting corn in the spring that Mrs. Phillips told him that he was getting it too thick, but after she tried to hide in it that day from the Indians she told Mr. Phillips that "it seemed like the corn was mighty thin."
Mart Phillips was the baby boy that Mr. Phillips tried to hide in the corn. Mart told me, after he was a married man, that if he had not have been such a big baby the Indians would have gotten him that day, because his sisters tried to get hips to go up into the corn field at the back of the barn to get some roasting ears and he said he would not go. After the Indian left they went up to investigate to see where they had been and what they had done, and the Indians had been inside the field eating sugar cane, right where Mart would have had to have gone for the corn.
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Mrs. Phillips, although a Methodist, often attended the Macedonia Baptist church. She was lovingly called "Aunt Mellissie" by her friends and neighbors. And what her Christian life and influence meant to that community God only knows. She was often sent for in sickness and if there was a death the consoling and comforting words she would speak. In that part of the country there were no undertaking parlors and Aunt Mellissie, who nearly always wore black, would comp an d sit in the room where the corpse was and try to console the bereaved. She was a typical frontierswoman, and after she was old she said that she would enjoy moving West into a country where it was more of a frontier than the old Pecan Creek country was. Mr. Phillips passed away in November 1897. Mrs. Phillips went to her reward in January 1894. My father, George Washington Allen Latham, was born in Tishomingo county, Mississippi, Sept. 1, 1837. His parents were Dr. V. G. Latham and Nancy Wolverton Latham. They moved to Missouri when G. W. A. was a young boy, and settled in Pulaski county, but afterward moved to Maries county, to the town of Vienna. Dr. V. G. Latham's house was the second house built in Vienna, Mo. G. W. A. helped to build the first court house there. My mother, Sarah Jane Gibson, was born in Osage county, Mo., near Lyntown. Sept. 16, 1836, but was reared in Varies county. My parents were married October 7, 1858, and moved to Texas with their two young children, James V. and Annie, in 1861. They settled in Blanco county, and lived on Spring Creek for some time, then moved to the headwaters of Wright's Creek, where they were often molested by the Indians. One day while my father was away from home the Indians came into the pasture near the house. They threw a lariat on to the horse of a colored boy who Was living with my parents at that time and the horse came running to the house, mother knew that the Indians were near and while she was suffering from a severe attack of sick headache she donned some men's clothing, took a large rifle and walked around through the yard with the gun on her shoulder to make the Indians believe if they should come close enough to the house that they could see that there was one man on the place. We little children thought it was funny to see mother dressed up in men 's clothes, and we would laugh at her, but she said that she did not feel like laughing, as there was so much responsibility resting upon her. She had six small children. She would make us small children stay back by the beds. The negro boy was only thirteen years old. And if an Indian had come near, this plucky little Scotch-Irish frontier mother might have sent a bullet through him from her Enfield rifle, as she could shoot. The Indians stole a number of horses that day. One night, when the moon was shining bright, my father had just arrived home that afternoon from Columbus, Texas, and had brought sever - al head of horses with him. Uncle Ben Major Gibson was at our house and he and my father were taking turns guarding the horses. Sometime during the night they espied an Indian creeping up to a horse that had a rope on, but my father and uncle began to shoot at him. He jumped on his own horse and got away from there as fast as he could. My brother, J. V. Latham, said that he and sister Annie counted the Indians that night as they went over the hill and there were seventeen. These were the same Indians who had killed the Johnson women the day before and no doubt but what they had the little boy with them, they had captured the day before, when they killed the Johnson women and tortured Mrs. Friend, in Legion Valley, Llano county.
Ben Major Gibson It was in the summer of 1870 that my parents moved from Blanco county down on to Pecan Creek in Llano county, a distance of about twenty miles. My father never saw an Indian until the night he and Uncle Ben shot at them. Father rode in the woods most of the time while his brother-in-laws, Sanford and John Backues and Ben Gibson had fights with the Indians and killed them. My father would go with the scouts after the Indians, but just never happened up with them. He and J. P. Smith' were partners at one time. in the stock business and were prosperous. He was also a partner of Pleas Wimberley.
My parents reared twelve children on Pecan Creek there in Llano county. This is a picture of the house where they lived for twenty-four years and it stood like the house in the middle of the road and fed the rich and the poor. the lumber was hauled from Austin, 60 miles away in 1875. In old frontier days people raised large families, as the Hardins, Phillips, Tates, Harringtons, Lathams, Masses, Wimberleys, Wilsons and Crownovers. But why not rear large families? The woods were full of wild hogs and cattle and mavericks galore and the one that did not get the mavericks, well it was their own fault. And they did not have to feed their children out of paper bags and tin cans. The first canned tomatoes that. I ever saw Mrs. Samuel Tate put them up, and Mrs. Samuel Richards canned the first peaches that I ever saw in a can.
The noted Indian fight on Packsaddle Mountain in August, 1873, was the last Indian raid in Llano county. We children were taught to be vigilant and to ever be on the alert in regard to the Indians and if we saw horses or cattle running, unless we knew who was after them, we would know that Indians were near.
My mother, Mrs. George Latham, and her step sister-in-law, Mrs. John Backues, were neighbors and great friends. One Sunday Mrs. Backues, or Aunt Eliza as we called her, came to our house to spend the day. In the afternoon mother and Aunt Eliza thought they would take a walk around t h e place. The older children had gone up the creek, about three hundred yards away, to my Aunt Harriet Gibson's, and that left Cousin Mallie Backues and myself, who were only six and seven years old, to look after the younger children and the babies. We were doing nicely until we saw a red cow running toward the house. We grabbed those babies and little children and broke for Aunt Harriet's. Our mothers heard our screams and came running to us. They, too, had seen the cow and saw that she was running from the heelflies and were not frightened, but before we got to the creek with the children we saw Aunt Harriet and our older brother and sisters coming toward us. How happy we were! But I do think that Mallie and I did a real deserving deed to look out for the little children and not run off and leave them. However, I am sure that our 'mothers always taught us if there were Indians around to stay in the house, but we were too badly scared to think about that.
Wm. Cansler and wife united with the Friendship Church in Pulaski County, Mo., in 1850. Mr. Cansler was elected clerk. We have no record of where they were granted letters from the Friendship Church in Missouri, but the first Lord's Day, in Sept. 1856, they united with the Little Hope Baptist church in what was called Burnet county then, but now it is Blanco county. They settled on the waters of Walnut, and afterwards moved to Round Mountain, Texas.
Rev. R. G. Stone
Rev. R. G. Stone and Celia Scott were married in the state of Missouri before the year of 1845. They came to Texas about 1853, in company with Rev. John Gibson and family. In April, 1853, were granted letters from Friendship Church in Missouri. Rev. Stone was deacon and clerk of the Little Hope Baptist church and was ordained to the ministry, the fourth Sabbath in February, 1872. He moved to Mason county that same year, near where Loyal Valley is located. He was pastor for the Squaw Creek church, and preached in Gillespie, Mason and Llano county for a number of years. He went to his reward about 1896. When I was quite young I learned that old song "There is Rest for the Weary," from him. He sang it one night at my father's house at cottage prayer meeting. His beloved wife, Celia, lived to be more than ninety years old. He has several children living. Mrs. Eliza Johnson, Alamogordo, N. M., Mrs. Carolyn Yoast., Las Cruces, N. M. Mrs. Matilda Kidd, of Loyal Valley, Texas, died last year.
Rev. John Gibson was my great uncle, and James Gibson, Sr., was my grandfather. His first wife, who was my own grandmother, was Miss Margaret Morrow. She was thrown from a horse and died on a road in the state of Missouri, July 17, 1848, leaving eight little children. My mother, Sarah Jane, who was the oldest girl, was eleven years old, and my uncle, Ben Major Gibson, was the baby boy. Grandfather James Gibson, Sr., soon married Eliza Backues, who had three sons, John, Mike, and Sandford Backues. The old church book states that Mrs. Eliza Gibson joined the Friendship Church by letter in February, 1849, then in 1856, James Gibson Sr. and wife, Eliza, were dismissed by letter, and that is the year they came to Texas. James Gibson and wife, Eliza, only stayed iii Texas for six months. They got their letter from Little Hope Baptist church to go back to Missouri in August, 1856. Then in April, 1859, they came back to Texas and joined what was called Pecan Creek by letter.
G. G. Hardin and wife, Cynthia Hardin, who were early pioneers in that country, I think came from Tennessee, in an early day in company with the Sugarts and the late Curd Cox. A man by the name of Wm. White came with them. Aunt Cynthia died about 1873. Mr. Hardin settled in the Comanche Creek community. There was a Baptist church organized there in an early day and I think that Mr. and Mrs. Hardin belonged to that church until it disbanded. Mr. and Mrs. Hardin had six sons who were brave good men. Amos, William, Butler, Joe, Robert, and Wash. They were citizens of Llano and Blanco county and William, Butler, Joe, and Robert were all members of the Macedonia Baptist church with their father during the 80's. A daughter, Hasseltine, married Aaron Crownover, a son of Rev. Crownover, and his daughter, Mary, married Clay Oatman.
JOHN ALEXANDER GREER
By L. W. Kemp
John Alexander Greer was born, July 18, 1802, at Shelbyville, Bedford County. Tennessee, the son of Thomas and C. L. Greer. Little is recorded of his early life but the fact that special dispensation was granted by the Grand Masonic Lodge of the State to allow him to join Harmony Lodge at Shelbyville, a deformed foot ordinarily disqualifying him from membership, testifies to the esteem in which he was held in the community. He rose to Master of the Lodge and later represented his Chapter in the Grand Lodge. On May 18, 1836, he was married by the Rev. Thomas Jordan Lambert to Adeline Minerva Orton, of Shelbyville, and soon afterwards the two moved to San Augustine County, Texas. At the resignation of Henry W. Augustine Nov. 24, 1837, as senator from the district composed of San Augustine County, Greer was elected to fill out his unexpired term, taking his seat, April 9, 1838, in the third session of the second congress. He was returned each succeeding session, serving longer than any other man in the congress of the Republic. On Nov. 21, 1842, he was elected president pro tem of the senate of the sixth congress, a position he was successfully elected to as long as the Republic lasted. On April 2, 1842, Governor James Pinckney Henderson appointed Greer mustering officer to inspect and muster into the service of the United States, to serve during the war with Mexico, a company of mounted riflemen, enrolled by Capt. Middleton T. Johnson in Shelby County. At a mass meeting of citizens held at the court house at San Augustine, July 3, 1847, he was nominated as a candidate for the office of Lieutenant Governor of the State. He agreed to enter the race and on Nov. 1, of that year was triumphantly elected, taking the oath of office Dec. 21. He was reelected Nov. 5, 1849, and continued in office until Dec. 22, 1851, having served through the administration of Governor George Thomas Wood and the first term of Peter Hansborough Bell. He sought to wrest the office of governor from Bell August 1, 1851 but was unsuccessful in the election held on that date.
Greer continued his activities in the Masonic field and in 1842 was elevated to the highest office of the order in the Republic, that of Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge. In 1851 he was Deputy Grand High Priest of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the State.
Mrs. Greer died August 26, 1843, leaving a little daughter, Catherine Adeline, who had been born Feb. 2, 1838, shortly after her parents moved to Texas. The child was sent to Shelbyville to be raised by the mother and father of Senator Greer. In 1853 Catherine was married to Dr. W. Bond Dashiell at Shelbyville, and they moved at once to San Augustine.
John A. Greer died July 4, 1855, at his home on his farm a few miles from San Augustine and was buried on his
land. His remains were removed and, on Dec. 8, 1929, reinterred in the State Cemetery at Austin, the State of Texas
erecting a monument at his grave. Greer County, Texas, now in Oklahoma, was named in his honor.
For more early Llano County Texas History see:
How Llano Came Into its Own
Indian Days of Llano County
Masonic Lodge Uncovers History of Llano