Friday, October 18, 2019

Mount Olive and Old Palestine

Marker Text for Old Palestine Baptist Church:
Organized 1844 by early preacher, Rev. Isaac Reed. First called Mount Olive, then Palestine. Worshipped in homes until 1854. Then small church (also used as school) was built on land donated by Capt. and Mrs. Henry Berryman. Third church now on site.
Old Palestine Baptist Church Texas Historical Marker (Number 6868, 1966), at the church meeting location on County Road 2610, Alto, Cherokee County, Texas

About a month ago, I found some information that was puzzling. Though the traditional information states that this church was organized in 1844 by Isaac Reed, I found a report from the church clerk in 1852 that stated the Palestine Church was organized in 1847. The report follows:

The Tennessee Baptist, Saturday, December 18, 1852, p. 1

I found the conflicting dates confusing, and searched for an answer. I have partially found it, though more information would be helpful. The partial answer is that Mount Olive and Palestine were originally two different churches in the same vicinity. Mount Olive was organized in 1844, and presented a letter of petition to the Sabine Baptist Association in October 1845.[i] Palestine was organized in 1847 and first appears in the roll of churches in 1847. Oral history says these churches originally met in homes. Perhaps migration from home to home brought them closer together. The letter of the Mount Olive Church to the 1849 Sabine Baptist Association states:
The Disolution of of the Palistine Church and the Union with the Mount Olive Church took place on the 4th Lords day in June A. D. 1849.[ii]
The letter also notes they received members “By union of Palistine Church – 16.”

Rather than Mount Olive simply changing its name to Palestine, the change began with the merger of the Palestine Church with the Mount Olive Church – originally under the name Mount Olive. If Z. N. Morrell’s information is correct concerning the organization of the Eastern Texas Association of United Baptists, the name had been changed from Mount Olive to Palestine at least by 1850.[iii] The Eastern Texas minutes of 1852 give the church name as Palestine.[iv]

I will hope to discover more in the future.

[i] In 1845, Mount Olive is stated in the minutes as located at Douglass in Nacogdoches County, but in 1847 and onward as in Cherokee County. (The 1846 minutes are missing.)
[ii] “Of” is duplicated in the original.
[iv] And the post office as Linwood, delegates Ben Selman, Jno. Cilgore, and Willis Selman. I have not seen the 1850 minutes, and not a table of churches from the 1851 minutes. “…during the Seventy Five Million Campaign, [the name] was changed to Old Palestine to distinguish it from the Anderson County Seat.” Tyler Morning Telegraph, Friday, January 16, 1970, p. 1

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