In 1838, Isaac Reed and R. G. Green organized the Union Baptist Church (now called Old North Baptist Church), which met and meets about four miles north of Nacogdoches, Texas. Union/Old North in the oldest existing Missionary Baptist church in the state of Texas. Some churches were organized earlier, including Pilgrim Predestinarian (now called Primitive) Baptist Church (org. 1833) and a Missionary Baptist Church at Washington-on-the-Brazos (org. 1837). The Old Pilgrim Church was organized in Crawford County, Illinois and they arrived in Texas in January 1834. Pilgrim still exists, and so is the oldest Baptist Church in Texas, even though it was not organized in Texas. It is Primitive Baptist. The Missionary Baptist Church at Washington-on-the-Brazos did not live a long time, leaving the Union/Old North Church as the oldest Missionary Baptist Church in Texas (it was not called “Missionary Baptist” until a number of years after it was organized).
Isaac Reed organized several early Baptist churches in East Texas
- Union at Sparks Settlement in Nacogdoches County (1838)
- Buena Vista at Buena Vista in Shelby County (1839)[i]
- Bethel, Reed Settlement near Clayton, Panola County (1843)[ii]
- Border near Jonesville/Marshall, Harrison County (1843)
- Mount Olive (now called Old Palestine) near Alto, Cherokee County (1844)
- Macedonia near Carthage, Panola County (1845)
- Eight Mile (now Friendship) near Marshall, Harrison County (1845)[iii]
[i] This seems to be a traditional date. I am uncertain what documents support it. In the Timpson & Tenaha News, (Thursday, May 20, 2004, p. 6) they re-ran a news item stating the Buena Vista Church celebrated its 100th anniversary Sunday, September 4, 1938 – suggesting an 1838 organization rather than 1839. The article also states “After inactivity for some time the church was revived some 41 years ago” (circa 1897).
[ii] Reed organized several churches with the assistance of Lemuel Herrin (and vice versa), including Bethel, Border, Eight Mile, and Macedonia. Bethel and Macedonia were in Harrison County, before the creation of Panola County.
[iii] Various sources give 1843, 1844, and 1845, but 1845 is the preferred date, barring organization minutes or other reliable primary sources that give an earlier date. Z. N. Morrell wrote, “The Eight-mile church was organized in 1845, in Harrison County, by Elder Lemuel Herrin, with five members.” (Flowers and Fruits, page 263). This church first appears in the Sabine Baptist Association in 1845. Morrell does not specifically mention Reed in connection with this organization, probably indicating Herrin was the prime mover in this organization. In the Marshall News Messenger in 1990 we find, “Other records indicate a Friendship Baptist Church was reorganized 12 miles south of Marshall on July 14, 1869.” (Marshall News Messenger, Sunday, May 20, 1990, p. 2) Relocating twelve miles away rather than being at the original eight miles might have prompted the name change.
[iv] This seems reasonable, but I have not seen Shiloh Church in Rusk County in connection with other Reed-related churches. Later records (after Isaac’s death) show Reed family members at Shiloh. Josiah Johnson conveyed a six-acre tract of land to the Shiloh Baptist Church in 1857, but it is believed that the church was in existence before that time.