Brown County Historical Scrapbook: Blanket area churches

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Donnie and Ronnie Lappe

At the intersection of Avenue F and Main Street in Blanket, there is the Methodist church. The church has been in Blanket for a number of years. There are references to a Methodist church in Blanket in 1881, with lists of membership rolls being recorded in the complete church register for the Blanket Circuit, Comanche District.

The congregation from the Methodist church at Blanket came from the congregation who met at Clio, Pleasant Valley, and the Gap Creek community. Some church records state that the Gap Creek and Pleasant Valley congregations were consolidated in 1888. Later that congregation, the Mount Valley congregation and the Mount Zion congregation became part of the Blanket congregation. Each notation lists members from classes that became part of the Blanket class. The church records refer to transfers of memberships from these classes to the Blanket class.

The deed records reflect that on February 10, 1893, W. T. Smith deeded five lots for a place of worship in the town of Blanket. Some people remember that a congregation at Turkey Peak also joined the Blanket Methodist church. The Turkey Peak area was a rough area at this time. Some of the men would sit on horses with rifles across their saddles during worship services to keep dangerous people from the area from breaking up the worship services. Later, some of these families moved closer to Blanket so the church moved to Blanket.

On the other side of Main Street at Avenue E is the First Baptist Church. This red brick building is also an old church, serving the community. The present building is about the third building that has served this church. The other church buildings were burned and rebuilt by local citizens. The present building has been at this location for at least 30 years.

The Blanket Baptist Church was organized August 12, 1876 by Noah T. Byars. However, the church seems not to have lasted very long because the Pecan Valley Baptist Association only mentioned the church in 1876. There is another reference in the church records which shows the church was organized April 2, 1893. Nine people met in the school house for the purpose of organizing a Baptist church. This church was to be known as the Missionary Baptist Church. Some stories say that his church soon ended, also, but there are records of another Baptist church being organized on August 24, 1896. Some records indicate this church which organized three years later was a continuation of the 1893 church. It wasn’t until the August 24, 1896 organization that the name Blanket Baptist Church was used.

On November 17, 1896, a committee was formed to select a lot for the church. They selected a lot near where the old school stood. On February 20, 1898, the members started raising the money to build a school at this location. No further mention is made in the church records of a building until May 9, 1901, when a conference committee was formed to build a pastor’s home. The parsonage was built in that year.

Improvements were made from time to time on the parsonage and the church. On March 19, 1908, it was reported that the church purchased new seats. In 1916, the pastor’s wife was cooking beets on a kerosene stove when the beets boiled over and caught the house on fire. The fire soon spread to the church and both buildings were a complete loss. Some people remember that it had a steeple and a bell. Luke Reeves rang the bell every Sunday at 9:00 a.m.

According to memories of people who attended the church, a new church building was almost completed after the old one burned, when this building also caught fire and burned to the ground. This fire was caused by paint stored in a closet. On July 9, 1916, the members voted to use the present ground to build another church building. The church was completed in 1917 and many improvements were made, but it also burned. However, it did not burn to the ground and was able to be rebuilt.

At this time, the church building was built larger and there wasn’t any room on the church grounds for a parsonage. The Whitehead House, south of the church, which later became the Luke Reeves’ home, was rented for the parsonage. However, it also burned on February 11, 1925. At this time, a committee was appointed to by another parsonage. On the 29th of May, 1925, the Ned Morris home was purchased for $1,000. The money was borrowed from the bank. That home is still the current parsonage for the church.

Some of the pastors of the Blanket Baptist Church were J.M. Haygood, R.C. McCulloch, J.B. Fletcher, W.I. Newton, A. Woods J.B. Henderson, Judson Prince, Herbert Christian, B.R. Stiles, R.M. McGinnis, Guy Self, Ed Russell, Robert Helsey, Jess Bigby and Billy Camp.

The Logan Valley Baptist Church is also called the Rock Church. It wasn’t directly on the road, but up on the side of the hill. A path or wagon trail led up to the church building. This church as created by Noah T. Byars. He is buried in Greenleaf Cemetery. He is honored by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, as a citizen of Texas. It was his blacksmith shop in Washington on the Brazos, where the Texas Declaration of Independence was written. Noah Byars came to Brown County to help set up the First Baptist Church of Brownwood and Howard Payne University. He was instrumental in setting up various Baptist churches in the area. After meeting with Baptists in the area, this church was set up in 1878. Five acres of land was given by E.B. Featherston, who later became the pastor in July 1880. A two story rock building was built on the land, and the church also became known as Rock Church because of the building.

People in the community still call the church and the cemetery Rock Church or Loan Valley. Up until just a few years ago, a brush arbor still stood near the location of the church building. It is now on private property. There is a question: Where are the rocks from this two story building? The building was torn down and the rock put into the roadbed where water seeps out of the side of the hill, just below the entrance to the church grounds. This happened after the use of the automobile became the mode of travel.

Logan’s Gap was in the line of hills along the Comanche County line, and was named for Thomas Logan, a Comanche County pioneer. E.B. Featherston was also known to have been involved in the fence cutting war in Comanche County. He was on the fenced in side. Upon hearing that his fence was to be cut, he waited for the wire cutters. He fired into their midst, wounding a horse. The owner of the horse swore that he would kill E.B. Featherston. Rev. Featherston was made deputy sheriff so that he could legally carry a gun. He even carried a gun to Sunday school. Rev. Featherston later wrote that for eighteen months he went armed night and day, expecting at any time that he might be fired upon, and that his fences surely would be cut.

He admitted that he preached at times armed with a rifle. Texas Rangers were called to keep the peace. The fence cutters soon broke up and the war ended. In 1885, the church showed to have 14 members. In 1888, they showed to have 53 members on the roll. Due to the later decline in membership, the church ceased to have services in the early 1970’s. The building and furnishings were sold in 1977, and all the proceeds were turned over to the Rock Church Cemetery Association. The land reverted back to the owner who had given the land for church purposes. Because of the restrictions in the deed that the land was to be used for church purposes and when it was no longer in this use, it reverted back to the family who gave it to the church.

On February 2, 1878, Rev. Noah T. Byars, a missionary, met with the scatted Baptists in Logan Valley and the men decided upon the construction of a Baptist Church building. A church covenant and constitution was drawn up. During the first conference of the church, there were applications for membership that were approved.

In 1882, the pastor of the church was B. Wilson, although it appears that he never even preached at Logan Valley Church. Rev. E.B. Featherston continued to serve as an interim until 1883, when F.M. Herring became the pastor. Later, in 1884, J. Milner became the pastor, but only served from March 4 to August 2, 1884.

The pastor, J.A. McClure, who had been pastor since 1885, died in 1891. According to some written stories about this pastor, he had been one of the biggest gamblers in the area before his conversion. There were some members who traveled from Comanche County to hear him preach, because they knew what he was before his conversion and believed that if he could make such a change in his life, he could make a change in other people’s lives. By 1971 or 1972, the membership had declined. The builders were sold in 1977 and all the proceeds were turned over to the Rock Church or Logan Valley Cemetery Association.

Taken from research compiled by Doris Teague.