Centennial Celebration

Hood County News Centennial Edition – Sept. 23, 1971

The First Baptist Church of Granbury will be taking part in its third Centennial when it joins others in celebrating Granbury’s 100th birthday this week. The church marked its own centennial in 1961, helped Hood County celebrate its Centennial in 1966 and now happily joins Granbury in its important milestone.

Early records show that James Halford, a Baptist preacher settled on Rucker’s Creek about 1853. Two years later a small building was erected on Rucker’s Creek by settlers who came from other states. Meetings were held in the building by Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians and Disciples of Christ. Each denomination was given a designated Sunday in each month for their services.

Among the Baptist preachers was Joe Robinson, known as “Fighting Joe” because of his effective use of words to put over his message. He preached in homes and is thought to be the organizer of the church known as First Baptist, Granbury. No minutes back up this conclusion but research done a number of years ago by G.L. Tarrant, school teacher, County Judge and active Baptist layman, led him to this conclusion and one in which he put his confidence after talking to many old timers.

A well loved story among members is that of J.N. Chandler of Georgia, who was walking up Lambert Branch in 1866 when he saw a small frame house with a brush arbor in front of it, located on Lambert Branch in the area across from the Joe Nutt Home. He went in and took a seat in the back at what was a meeting of the Baptist Church. Among those present were J.F. Nutt and wife, J. Nutt and their mother. They were discussing dissolving the church and a motion and second had been heard. Chandler, 6 feet, four inches tall, rose and asked why they were dissolving the church. Mrs. Nutt gave the stranger a quick look and shot the question “Are you a preacher?” at him. “A sort of Plantation Preacher,” he replied and she asked if he could preach for them. Promising to do his best Mrs. Nutt turned to the group and said, “Boys, take your motion back.”

Mr. Chandler preached for the church from 1866 to 1882. Among others remembered and loved pastors were R.H. Whitehead, S.L. Tarrant, J.A. Stovall who was pastor when the frame building was erected on the site of the present church; M.M. Robinett, during whose pastorate electric fans were installed in 1913.

Mr. Tarrant’s history refers to the “church on the hill” which was sold for $450.00. A new lot was purchased for $150.00 with D.C. Cogdell donating another $150.00. The plan for the new church was presented to cost $2,000 with $1,000 in subscriptions, the building was started and ready for occupancy July 24, 1905. That was the frame building, with the stained glass memorial windows, which was wrecked in recent years to make way for the parking lot. It remained in use for a number of years after being moved to the back of the lot to make way for the building now used as the education building.

But to get back to early times, it was in March of 1911 that a piano was bought to replace the old organ. Mr. Tarrant didn’t record the cost of the piano but he did note that the organ, bought in May, 1951 cost $1,350.00

The present sanctuary was completed in August 1966. The church roll shows 880 members, with 610 resident members. Rev. Gene Hadley, pastor, Bill Bacon, Music and Youth director and the deacons, Dave Umphress, Roddy Carter, Willie Crossland, Melvin Gifford, Burton Hayworth, Harold B. Carter, Glen Hodges, Virgil Spence, Bill Walters and J.P. Lancaster are pleased with the attendance and dedication of several hundred active, working members.

The Templo Bautusta [sic] Baptist Mission, to serve our Mexican friends, is sponsored by the church. A bus has been purchased for church use and the church is generous with its gifts to the Cooperative Program which includes Foreign and Home Missions, radio and T.V. and other programs.

“We pray that First Baptist will continue to be an effective and constructive force in the life of Granbury for the next century as it has in the past,” Rev. Hadley says.