Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

  Union Hall
and Union Hall Church
History
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.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

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).

Mark Odintz

 
 

 


Log Cabin/House by Frank Schooley
circa 1850

EARLY HISTORY
Historical Narrative
by J. N. Matthews

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 beginning. 

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 Florence. 

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 grandchildren. 

Many other interesting things have happened there in the last 70 years to keep it on the map.

 

 
 



July 12, 1987

Marker Text

Union Hall Independent*
Missionary Baptist church of Christ*

Five families withdrew from the liberty hill Baptist church to form an independent missionary Baptist church of Christ in 1888 .The Rev. G.W. Capps was called as the first pastor.
A one room schoolhouse was soon erected on donated land. Housing worship services of all denominations, the school was called the union hall. The community and this church both took the union hall name. A new sanctuary was built in 1924,and the church supported many missionary activities over the years baptisms were held in the South San Gabriel river.**

Texas sesquicentennial 1836-1986***



UNION HALL INDEPENDENT MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH
OF CHRIST OF LIBERTY HILL, TEXAS
Historical narrative by Georgia Roberts (Longtime member)

 "In the summer of 1882 the Baptist people of Liberty Hill decided to have a protracted meeting in the village, instead of the annual camp meeting usually held with the old Liberty Hill church, which was located in what is now known as the Silent Grove neighborhood, four miles west of town. 

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 destroyed." (1) 

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 members. 

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 school forever. 

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. (14) 

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 Sunday night. 

During the winter months he was unable to come, sometimes for several months on account of severe winter weather. 

This was a trying time for the church but the faith of the members and God's wonderful mercy kept it alive. (16) 

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 1925. (18) 

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 on Sunday morning. The ceremony was performed by Brother Ira Payne, pastor. (24)

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. (32) 

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 work. (33) 

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)

 In February 1973, three air conditioning units were bought and installed in the church. The old fans were sold to church members. (43)

 In June 1973, Brother Monty Martin of Weatherford was called as pastor after Brother Glidewell resigned. (44) 

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. (47) 

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. (49) 

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. (53) 

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. (56) 

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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