No record has come to light about who was the first Baptist preacher to preach in the Granbury area, but it probably was J.M. Halford. He is known to have worked in cooperation with the missionaries, John Turner and Joseph (Fighting Joe) Robinson, who were missionaries of the Brazos River Baptist Association. The three of them, with one other, had established a church in Parker County in March of 1860.
The following account, unsigned but evidently written by Robinson May 28, 1860, appeared in the Texas Baptist [magazine]:
“Brother Turner and myself have made two or three short missionary tours. We visited the neighborhood of Comanche Peak in Johnson County on Saturday before the first Sabbath this month, in connection with Brother J.M. Holford [sic], at which time we organized a church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Missionary Baptist faith and order, consisting of six members, three others joined by letter the next day. We learned there were about 20 Baptists within striking distance of the said Bethlehem Church. Brother Holford [sic] will attend them the balance of this year.”
Saturday before the first Sabbath that month was May 5. Here then is a first-hand account of the organization of the First Baptist Church of Granbury, which was called Bethlehem in the beginning. The new church seems to have had a very difficult time from the beginning, perhaps barely surviving the stress of the Civil War.
In the spring of 1866 Elder J.N. Chandler moved from Georgia to Texas, settling near where Granbury is now located. One Sunday morning shortly after arriving he was out walking and came in sight of a small house with a brush arbor by it. A small group of people had gathered for a meeting. He entered and took a back seat. Uncle Jake Nutt, one of the blind brothers, moved that the church disband. The preacher arose and asked why they wanted to dissolve their church and was told it was because they could not find a preacher. The mother of the Nutt brothers looked at the visitor and asked, “Young man, are you a preacher?” He replied that he was a sort of cornfield preacher. She then turned to her son and said, “Take that motion back.” They then asked if the visitor would preach for them. He did, and became pastor for the next 16 years. The little house was soon torn down, and a better one was built on the bluff of the river not far from the present city square. The church worshipped here until a new house was built on the present location and dedicated in 1906, with Rev. J.M. Gaddy preaching the dedicatory sermon.
While Rev. W.W. Baker was pastor in the early 1950’s, the frame building was removed to the back of the church lot and a brick building erected. Some time later a smaller building with space for church offices and educational facilities was added. During the pastorate of Pat Cummings, 1954-1958, the present auditorium and fellowship hall were constructed with enclosed corridors connecting all buildings. The church has enjoyed remarkable growth since the coming of Lake Granbury. Rev. Gene B. Hadley has been the beloved and efficient pastor since 1968.
Paluxy Baptist Association Centennial Story
1880 – 1980