Pilgrim Primitive Baptist Church

By: Samuel B. Hesler

Type: General Entry

Published: May 1, 1995

Pilgrim Primitive Baptist Church, the oldest Baptist church in Texas, was initiated by elder Daniel Parker, who came to Texas in 1833 to apply for a land grant and look over the political situation. He realized that a Baptist church could not be organized in Texas without breaking Mexican law. Therefore, he went back to Lamote, Illinois, where, on July 26, 1833, elders Richard M. Newport and Thomas Young, and deacons Richard M. Highsmith, William Grigg, Joseph Neal, Jesse Page, John Wood, and Fredrick Markley organized the Pilgrim Predestinarian Regular Baptist Church. Its members were Daniel and Patsey Parker, John and Pheby Parker, Sally Brown, and Julious and Rachel Christy. The constitution, articles of faith, and rules of decorum were adopted, and Julious Christy was appointed church clerk. The group then traveled by wagon train with some of their neighbors to Texas. The first church meeting in Texas was at Daniel Parker's home in Austin's colony on January 25, 1834; at that meeting the church voted to meet on the Saturday before the first Sunday of each month and on that Sunday. On April 5, 1834, Isaac Parker and Stephen Christy were called to serve as deacons. Because Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna was marching into Texas from Mexico, Pilgrim Church voted on April 2, 1836, to give the church minute book to the group that could continue the operation of the church. The congregation did not meet again until February 25, 1837. On September 2, 1837, Pilgrim Church gave elders Daniel Parker and Garrison Greenwood authority to organize Primitive Baptist churches and ordain ministers and deacons. The Baptist churches they established were Hopewell, Nacogdoches County, on September 17, 1837; Fort Houston, Houston County, on October 22, 1840; Bethel, Sabine County, on February 7, 1841; Bethlehem, Shelby County, on September 4, 1841; Mustang Prairie on July 30, 1842; Wolf Creek, Liberty County, on July 3, 1843; San Jacinto, Montgomery County, on June 12, 1844; and Mound Prairie on April 19, 1845. On October 17, 1840, at Hopewell Church, near Douglas, the Union Association of Regular Baptist Faith and Order was organized by messengers from Hopewell Church, Nacogdoches County; Mount Pleasant Church, Montgomery County; Pilgrim Church, Houston County (now Anderson County); and Boggy Bayou Church, Caddo Parish, Louisiana. Pilgrim Church had met in many different locations since 1834, and on February 19, 1848, the members voted to build a meetinghouse where Daniel Parker had been buried-at the present location of Pilgrim Church, 2½ miles southeast of Elkhart. Caleb Parker, Daniel's son, donated the land on April 17, 1852. In 1857 a box-type building was constructed, in 1890 a larger frame structure was built, and in 1929 the present one-room brick church was erected. In 1949 a full-sized replica of one of the early church buildings of the Pilgrim Primitive Church was built near the present church building. On September 1 and 2, 1933, Pilgrim Church celebrated its centennial.

Robert A. Baker, The Blossoming Desert-A Concise History of Texas Baptists (Waco: Word, 1970). Grace Jackson, Cynthia Ann Parker (San Antonio: Naylor, 1959). "Records of an Early Texas Baptist Church," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 11, 12 (October 1907, July 1908).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Samuel B. Hesler, “Pilgrim Primitive Baptist Church,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/pilgrim-primitive-baptist-church.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995