and Union Hall Church
Williamson County, Texas
Union Hall, Texas. Union Hall was on the South San Gabriel River four miles east of Liberty Hill in western Williamson County. The site was first settled in 1846 by Greenleaf Fisk; some five families lived in Union Hall by the time of the Civil War, and at least twelve other families settled in the community between 1866 and 1873. The first school in the community, known as the Mathews school, was a private one established by John G. Mathews in 1873 to serve his children and those of other neighborhood families. A free public school called Union Hall was built in 1874. It had an enrollment of thirty-three students in 1903 and was eventually consolidated with Leander and Liberty Hill in 1949. A new schoolhouse, built in 1890, doubled as a Missionary Baptist church. By the 1970s the town had disappeared from the map, but the schoolhouse was still being used for church services' historical marker, erected in 1986, honors Union Hall Independent Missionary Baptist Church of Christ, the sole reminder of the former community.
Historical marker files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin (Union Hall Independent Missionary Baptist Church of Christ). Clara Stearns Scarbrough, Land of Good Water: A Williamson County History (Georgetown, Texas: Williamson County Sun Publishers, 1973).
The papers of the State of Texas have
had a considerable amount of early history of the state in their
columns during 1936 —that being the State's first centennial.
Our own county paper has had some very interesting articles
running each week.
Thinking that the people of the west end of Williamson County might be interested in the early settlement of the community now known as Union Hall, I am offering a few lines.
This community lies about 4 miles east of
Liberty Hill and 12 miles from Georgetown and is almost in the
shape of a triangle. It is bounded on the east by what is known
as the Johnson Hill which extends from the Hilly Johnson place
south to the South San Gabriel. The South San Gabriel forms the
south and west sides, ending at the H. S. Whitehead place. In
order to complete the triangle a line should be drawn from the
Whitehead place to the Billy Johnson place, the place of
Prior to the Civil War a row of homes
were established. These were: Billy Johnson, Ben Johnson, John
Schooley, E. Walker, and Greenleaf Fisk. These homes all joined
and were the only ones' in the valley except that of R.
Buffington on the Gabriel about 2 miles east of Liberty Hill.
During the Civil War and for several
years afterward emigration and settlement was at a standstill.
From 1866 to 1873 the following citizens bought and settled on
the following places: The first place up the Gabriel and joining
Greenleaf Fisk was Billy Wilson, Mr. Justice, Mr. Gee, Wig
Jennings, A. M. Leather-wood, J. G. Matthews, J. B. Fisk, Gus
Hornburg and H. S. Whitehead. These joined each other on the
Gabriel. On the north side of the triangle and several miles
from the Gabriel were L. G. Ford; W. R. Seward and J. H. Hodges.
By 1873 there were sixteen families
settled in this community. Almost every man had been a
Confederate soldier. A few were veterans of San Jacinto. These
homes were built of native material; mostly logs and stone and
located near a spring.
Corn, wheat and cotton were cultivated.
There was a cotton gin and corn mill at Bagdad and old Liberty
Hill, either place was about seven miles from the settlement.
They had their wheat ground either at Georgetown, Burnet or
The principal part of the trading was
done at Bagdad, Georgetown and Austin until 1872 when Liberty
Hill became a lively little town. About this time Tom Snyder
established a cotton gin at Liberty Hill and T. N. Bryson and T.
M. Barton established a mill on the Gabriel near Liberty Hill.
By 1873 there were about one hundred
children in the neighborhood, so it was necessary to establish
a school. The first school was conducted by D. Kirkpatrick in a
log house formerly used as a dwelling house on the J. G.
Matthews place The principal equipment was a big fire place and
some long heavy benches. By the next year there had been erected
new school house on the A. M. Leatherwood place. The first free
school in the neighborhood was conducted by Tom Foster. From
1873 to about 1885 the following teachers taught this school:
Mr. Veach, Mr. Seymour. Mr. Hayden, Mr. Draper, Mr. Hughes, Mr.
Demmitt, Mr. A.P. Smith, Mr. T.S. Reed. Following Mr. Reed the
lrdy teacher was in the person of Miss Ella Justice. The last
man teacher who taught in this place was Ike D. White. About
this time a new school house was erected on land donated by Ben
Johnson. This house was replaced about ten years ago by a modern
school house with the latest furnishings.
The first school house was also used as a
place of worship. Some of the pioneer preachers who preached for
the community were Rev. McDaniel, Rev. Rose, Rev. Homburg, Rev.
Bob Davis, Rev. J. D. Speegle, Rev. Turker and perhaps others
whose names I cannot now recall.
The history of any community is not complete without some knowledge of the social side of it
It was a custom of the men to meet at
neighbor's house and help him raise his log house or crib or
help to build fence of 'rails or rock’. The women quilted or
sewed which was done by hand. After the day’s work was over and
the new house was finished it was turned over to the youngsters
for an old-fashioned play party. Some of us older people can
recall what lively times we had popping corn and pulling
homemade candy in the good old days. Weddings were great events
in those early days usually the wedding invitations were
carried by a boy on a pony. He was instructed not to overlook
anyone in the neighborhood. Great preparations were made in
baking cakes and such other luxuries as the times afforded.
After all the guests had arrived and
assembled in the house, the minister took a position facing the
door. The bride and groom
now enter and march up in front of the preacher who,
after taking their
vows, pronouncing them husband and wife and asked a blessing
upon the newlywed couple, led the way to the table where a sure
enough wedding supper was enjoyed by all. The next day the same
guests were invited to meet at the home of the groom's parents
to partake in what was called an infare dinner. Weddings usually
were on Wednesday which was known as bride's day and Thursday
was known as groom's day. On the( afternoon of the second day
the bride and groom departed for their new home, usually on
horseback and the bride's dowry was usually was a horse and a
cow. I know of only two brides now living who were married in
the infancy of the settlement. I refer to Mrs. R. E. Allen and
Mrs. T. E. Martin. They became members of the first church that
was organized in the school house on the hill. They now hold
membership in that church. Both are rounding their four score
years, contented to be surrounded by their children and
Many other interesting things have happened there in the last 70 years to keep it on the map.
UNION HALL INDEPENDENT MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH
Rev. John A. Arbuckle of Burnet was
secured to do the preaching. A brush arbor was built on the
ground where the present church stands.
After a ten day revival a new church was
organized. The Rev. John A. Arbuckle was called as pastor, and
J. G. Ward was made church clerk and treasurer.
From this beginning a church building was built and the church prospered.
In 1903 the church building was
completely destroyed by fire. All the early church records were
In about 1888 five families, members of
this Liberty Hill Baptist Church withdrew their membership and
organized an Independent Missionary Baptist Church of Christ.
Families involved were: T. E. Martin (deacon) and wife Susie, R.
E. Allen (deacon) and wife Addie, A. M. Leatherwood and wife, J.
R. Williamson and wife, and Virginia Bainbridge - charter
The church called Brother G. W. Capps for
its first pastor and A.M. Leatherwood, Church Clerk. Woodard
Leatherwood was song leader for a number of years. (2 & 3)
When the church was founded they met for
services in a little log cabin school house near South San
Gabriel River on the J. N. Matthews place, in what is now the
Union Hall Community. (4 & 5)
In September 1888 two men who owned land
in about the center of the community of what is now Union Hall
donated land. Billy Johnson donated two acres and Ben Johnson
donated five acres - seven acres in all - to the County Judge of
Williamson County and designated it to be used for church and
Billy Johnson was a bachelor and wished
to be buried on this land, but it was not to be used as a public
cemetery. His grave is on one edge of the land. (6)
The people of the community got together
and built a one room school house on the donated land. They held
school in this building for a number of years. One of the first
teachers was Miss Cora Allen, eldest daughter of Mr. & Mrs. R.
E. Allen. All denominations held church services in this
building so they decided to name it Union Hall and this
community has existed up to the present time.
About 1894 the newly organized
Independent Missionary Baptist Church of Christ with their
pastor, G. W. Capps, left their location in the log school house
on the J. N. Matthews place and moved to the school building in
the newly named Union Hall Community and became the Union Hall
Independent Missionary Baptist Church of Christ and are still
located at the same site at the present time. (7 & 8)
The church grew and prospered for a
number of years. Names of some pastors called: Brother A. A.
Hensler, 1895; Brother W. J. Newton, October 1897; Brother J. B.
Davis, February 18, 1899. (9)
The church supported missionaries during
this period - 1897, Brother Payne, Missionary to Indian
Territory; 1897, Brother H. H. Packer, Home Missionary. Also
sent clothing, and money to Buckners Orphan Home and did other
mission work. (10)
Church members met and built a brush arbor in the summer at revival time. They had week long revivals and people came from miles around in wagons, surreys, etc, driving mules and horses, also came on horseback. Some camped for the duration of the services. The mothers brought quilts and made pallets for the young children to sleep on during the service.
The preachers loudly proclaimed God's word. The organ was moved from the church building to the arbor and they sang the old hymns as: "How Firm a Foundation", "What
a Friend We Have in Jesus", "Amazing
Grace", "Nothing But The Blood", and numerous others. The
preacher and the choir could be clearly heard throughout the
Union Hall Community. (11)
In 1900 Brother E. H. Kennedy was called
as pastor and was with the church until December 1904, at which
time Brother L. W. Davis was called for pastor and served until
September 1905. (12)
In 1909 the church called Brother W.
Mound who was a much loved pastor. died while he was pastor.
This was a grievous blow to the church.
There is a break in the church records
here. There are no pastors recorded. The church experienced a
hard time but members continued to have services. (13)
In 1917 the church decided to hold a
revival meeting. Brother A. S. Poindexter did the preaching. At
that time Brother E. D. Roberts made application for membership
in the church on his profession of faith in Christ. Brother
Poindexter received a contribution of $49.10 for his services.
Still without a pastor the church experienced difficulties for several years.
After the deaths of Brother R. E. Allen
and Brother A. M. Leatherwood, Brother T. E. Martin and his wife
were so faithful to carry on the work. Some of their descendants
are still members of the church at the present time.
Brother Martin, his granddaughter, Myrtle
Butler, E. D. Roberts, Mrs. R. E. Allen and at times a few
others were faithful to meet and have services, claiming Jesus'
promise to us: "For where two or three are gathered together in
my name there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20 (15)
This continued until 1920 when Brother
Solon Vardeman was called as pastor for weekend service each
month. He came from Lampasas to Georgetown by train where he was
met by a church member and returned home on Monday morning after
preaching three services - Saturday night, Sunday morning and
During the winter months he was unable to
come, sometimes for several months on account of severe winter
This was a trying time for the church but
the faith of the members and God's wonderful mercy kept it
In 1921 Brother John Wilson was ordained a deacon and about 1925 Brothers
E. D. Roberts and Cecil Roberts were
ordained as deacons. (17)
In 1920, I, Georgia Roberts, was elected
teacher of Union Hall School by trustees of the school.
I began attending the Union Hall
Independent Missionary Baptist Church of Christ which was still
meeting in the one room school house where they still used gas
lights for light and wood stoves for heat. I met and married E.
D. Roberts in 1923. I became a member of the church in August
A new school building was built about 1930. (19)
The church began to grow in membership
and about 1924 the members met and agreed to build a larger
place of worship. It was built with the donations of money from
church members and a small bank loan.
An open tabernacle was built with church members doing the work. To name a few: John Wilson, E. D. Roberts, Cecil Roberts, Jewel Wilson, Bob Butler and others. The floor was graveled. (20)
Several years later when the tabernacle
roof began to leak very badly and it was impossible to keep dry
in service during a rain, the old school house church building
was torn down and part of the lumber used to wall up the
tabernacle and a new sheet iron roof added. With Brother John
Wilson taking the lead with the help of other church members
naming a few: Brother Andy Jennings, E. D. Roberts, Jewel
Wilson, Cecil Roberts, Bob Butler and others, church pews were
built. The organ was replaced with a piano. The church was again
without a pastor a while. (21)
Again a few members met for worship each
Sunday-names: John Wilson and wife Almon, E. D. Roberts and wife
Georgia, Lyda Whitted and at times others--again claiming God's
promise to us: "For where two or three are gathered together in
my name there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20. (22)
In 1937 Brother G. L. Derrick was called
to pastor for two Sundays each month. Brother Derrick commuted
from his home in Gatesville, Texas, and never missed an
appointment during his five years as pastor. The church
prospered, had good attendance, and great summer revivals with
many souls saved and additions to the church. (23)
In June 1944, the first wedding was
performed in the church. Alice Beth Roberts, daughter of Mr. &
Mrs. E. D. Roberts, and a member of the church, was married to
Cleo K. Rodgers, son of Mrs. M. E. Rodgers and the late M. E.
Rodgers of Gatesville, Texas. The ceremony was performed by
Brother G. L. Derrick, pastor.
Other weddings in the church later: Melba Jean Wilson, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Jewel Wilson, and a member of the church, married George Henry Adams, son of Mr.
& Mrs. H. H. Adams of Georgetown, Texas.
Brother George Brown of Temple, Texas, performed the ceremony.
Still later, Mary Ruth Wilson, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Jewel Wilson married Jimmy Johnson of Houston, Texas. Ceremony was performed by Brother Alfred Gould of Gatesville, Texas.
In 1979, Anthony Jennings and Mary Ward
were married after church services
About 1947: the Union Hall School was
consolidated with Liberty Hill and Leander schools. The building
was sold and moved away. (25)
When Brother Jack Pearce was called for pastor in 1946, the church continued to grow. The church floor was cemented in 1950. (26)
In 1950, the church began to support Maddox Avenue Baptist Children's Home
in Ft. Worth, Texas. The ladies of the
church met in each other's homes and quilted quilts and sent
with clothing and money, etc. (27)
The church also supported Brother Harry
Robertson on his radio broadcast on Sunday morning from the
Hamilton radio station. Brother Harry held several revivals at
the church. (28)
A church member, Brother Howard Wilson,
went to Gonzales, Texas, to the Texas Rehabilitation Warm
Springs Center and took treatment, and the church sent
offerings there for several years. (29)
In 1954 the church was redecorated. Raised over $2000.00 - enough to complete the work with members donating their labor and had enough money left to buy a new piano. (30)
Brother Jewel Wilson was ordained a
deacon in 1957. (31)
In 1959 six electric fans were bought and
installed. The church covenant was framed and hung in the church
in 1960. The church floor was covered with tile in March 1961 at
a cost of $286.00. About the same time the Sunday School house
was bought in Liberty Hill and moved behind the church building.
In 1962 the church agreed to support
Brother P. V. Zugg, missionary to Beruit, Lebanon, Holy Land.
Special offerings were sent to Brother Zugg to help build the
church building over there. At present the church still sends
offerings to Brother Zugg quarterly to support his mission
When Brother Jack Pearce resigned on
account of ill health, he had spent fifteen (15) years of
faithful service as a much loved pastor of the church.
In 1963 Brother Harry Wyckoff was called
for pastor. The church was blessed with souls saved and
additions to the church. The first Vacation Bible School was
held in June 1964. Outdoor restrooms were built. (34)
Mr. & Mrs. Woody Patrick, only members
left from the disbanded Union Chapel Baptist Church, presented
the Union Hall Baptist Church with church pews in 1966. The pews
were refinished by church members meeting at night to do the
work. Brother J. B. Jennings took the lead as he was a
furniture finisher by trade. Church members enjoyed the
fellowship while doing the work. (35)
In April 1966, Sister Eunice James presented the church with pulpit stand and communion table in memory of her late husband and our departed brother, W. L. James. (36)
Brother Harry Wyckoff resigned as pastor,
July 1966, after three years service. He went to Alaska to teach
and organized a church there. (37)
Brother Arthur Davison from the
Independent Baptist College of Dallas was called for pastor in
October 1966. The church was blessed with souls saved and
additions to the church. Brother Davison with his family
commuted from the school each weekend and was a strong contender
for the faith. (38)
In November 1969, Brother James Glidewell
of Austin was called as pastor. He was ordained at the church in
March 1970, and served for two years, a faithful and much loved
pastor, having souls saved and additions to the church. (39)
Brother Cleo K. Rodgers was ordained a
deacon in November 1970. (40)
In January 1971, Brother Floyd Littleton
was recognized as a deacon having been ordained a deacon of Weir
Baptist Church of which he was a former member. (41)
In 1973, Sister Georgia Roberts presented the church with new song books in memory of her late husband and our departed brother E. D. Roberts, and her beloved granddaughter, Lisa Gay Rodgers, and our departed sister. (42)
At this time one pulpit chair was
presented to the church with the memorial fund of Lisa Gay
Rodgers by her parents, Mr. & Mrs. Cleo K. Rodgers. (45)
Brother Arthur Davison and family, our
missionaries to Africa, came home in 1973 - the door having been
closed on them there. They immediately made preparations to go
to Brazil as missionaries still receiving support from the
church. The church still supports their mission work at the
present time. (46)
In 1974, another pulpit chair was
presented to the church by Sister Alice Beth Rodgers in memory
of her late husband, Cleo K. Rodgers, and our departed brother.
In May 1975, remodeling of the church
began. The inside walls were paneled. Pastor Monty Martin and
Eddie Rodgers donated their labor on this. New lighting was
installed and Brother James Glidewell, with the assistance of
Brothers Bill & Steve Lackey, sprayed the ceiling in the church.
The front floor of the church was torn out and cemented.
Platform for pulpit stand was built by members - Pastor Monty
Martin, Brothers Eddie Rodgers, Sammy Johnson and Dale Havens.
The floor was carpeted. (48)
Brother Monty Martin resigned in 1975.
The church called Brother George Crow as
pastor in 1982 and was blessed with a number of souls saved and
additions to the church.
Up until now the church had always
baptized in the South San Gabriel River. Because it was now
severe winter weather, the church went to the Baptist church at
Liberty Hill and used their baptistery to baptize. Brother Crow
could not agree with the church on some vital issues so he
resigned in April 1983. After his resignation the church met and
appointed four deacons, Dan Child, Roscoe Faubian, John Isreal
and Bill Lackey. (50)
The church was without a pastor for
several months. We never missed a Sunday morning service during
that time. There were tryout preachers and preachers to supply
the pulpit each Sunday. Brother McHargue from Independent
Baptist College was so faithful to supply preachers. (51)
In May 1985, Brother Monty Martin, former
pastor, held a weekend revival. He helped to find a preacher,
Brother Mike Ledbetter from California. The church paid his way
to tryout, called him for pastor and moved he and his family on
the field. God just opened all the doors and the church was very
thankful to have a pastor at last. (52)
In January, 1986, the church began to
send support to Brother David Spieghts, Missionary to Thailand.
One of the main drawbacks to the church
in these many years of its existence has been the fact that it
has had no water. In 1985, the Chisholm Trail Water Supply
Corporation put in a water line which came by the church and
water was turned on in March 1986. (54)
Because of increased membership, the
members felt they needed a larger place of worship. As a result
construction of a new church building was begun in Feb. 1986 in
front of the old church building. The land was cleared of all
underbrush and a parking lot made. (55)
In February 1986, the County Judge of
Williamson County, Don Wilson, wrote a deed giving the land to
the Union Hall Independent Missionary Baptist Church of Christ.
When the building is completed, it will
be a beautiful place of worship and the old church building will
continue to be used for Sunday school rooms. (57)
Church families are giving memorials for
older members of their family who have gone to be with the Lord
to help on the expense of the building - their names to be put
on a plaque to be hung in the new church building. (58)
A loan was secured from Citizens State Bank of Georgetown by church members: John Faull, Roscoe Faubian, John Isreal and Monty Hicks. Brother John Faull, a contractor and his crew, with the pastor and a number of church members are doing the work on the building. (59)
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