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PONTON, JOEL (1802–1875). Joel Ponton, early "Reformed Baptist" preacher, was born on July 3, 1802, in Virginia, the son of William and Isabella (Moreland) Ponton. The family moved to Missouri. Six years after his marriage to Sarrah Reavis in 1827, Joel followed his brother Andrew Ponton and his father to Texas. William and a companion, John Hays, were killed by Indians in 1834.

Ponton was versed in both religion and medicine and spent his entire life in the two professions; he confined his activity mostly to Lavaca County. He narrowly escaped an Indian attack in 1840 in which his companion Tucker Foley was killed. The same Indians were engaged by settlers in the battle of Plum Creek in 1840.

Ponton was probably the earliest of the "Reformed Baptists" preachers, as Alexander Campbell's movement was called, to preach in Texas. His association with these churches is first documented in 1842. His ministry continued until his death in 1875. A report by Henry Thomas, an Austin minister who visited Ponton's home on the bank of the Lavaca River in 1859, describes Ponton as "estimable and talented . . . a chaste, logical and eloquent speaker, and the only proclaimer, in the Christian Church, within sixty miles of this place." Forced to practice medicine to support a large family at this time Ponton preached very little. The Church of Christ at Ezzell was established by Ponton. He was married four times and had seventeen children. He was county judge of Lavaca County from 1866 to 1867. He died in 1875.


Paul C. Boethel, On the Headwaters of the Lavaca and the Navidad (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1967). John Holland Jenkins, Recollections of Early Texas, ed. John H. Jenkins III (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958; rpt. 1973).

R. L. Roberts

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R. L. Roberts, "PONTON, JOEL," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed December 01, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.