The first land route between Black River and Current River crossed the latter at what is now known as Shoemaker's Ferry. The first town in Eastern Randolph County was at this ferry and was known as Cherokee Bay. Several years before the Civil War, as more settlers came into the area, a settlement was begun at what is now known as Old Reyno, one and one-half miles south of present day Reyno, which was originally called Needmore. Later, the town began to be called Cherokee Bay, as the post office had been moved from Shoemaker's Ferry to this place.
The name of Cherokee Bay did not last long, as it was changed to Reyno, a shortening of the name Reynolds. The founder of the town was Dennis Wells Reynolds, who is credited with building the first home in 1857, who had a mercantile business there, and who later became known as the father of the new town, which is located one and one-half mile south of the present town of Reyno. Among the first settlers were the Luttrells, Herrens, Watsons, Wisners, Owens, Jones, Bowdens, Fords, McCrarys, Womacks, Nelsons, Shavers, Sparkmans, Slavens, Winninghams, and others.
The second road to open in eastern Randolph County was from Pocahontas to what is now Corning, crossing Current River at what later became k nown as Sims Landing, a short distance above the present U.S. Highway 67 bridge between Pocahontas and Biggers.
During early years, a Baptist church was organized and was located on the east bank of Current River about one mile north of the bridge where U.S. Highway 67 crosses the river adjacent to the Old Brumley Cemetery and Brumley home. The church's name was "Liberty", but was known as "Yellow Hall" because of the building's color. People of the Old Reyno community who desired to do so, worshipped in this church. They finally secured a school house on the Joseph Herren land in the Old Reyno community on a plot called "Round Track", named for a horse-racing track which had previously been in operation there. This was near the northeast corner of the northeast of northwest Section 33, Township 20, Range 3E, near the west side of the pond where Joseph M. Herren lived. The church was known as "Round Track Baptist Church".
In June 1878, a group of 11 people met for the purpose of organizing a church, and the Presbytery chosen for this task was composed of Elder Arthur Conner, Elder Thomas Jefferson Watson, and John Magee, Deacon of the Shiloh (Clay County) Church. This new church was named Antioch Baptist Church, and on page one of its first record book is stated:
"Constitution of Antioch Church in Randolph County, Arkansas. Be it remembered that on the fourth Sabbath in June, 1878, P. H. Crofford, John Newbery, John Ketchem, Bicy J. Story, Elizabeth Story, Mattie J. Reynolds, E. A. Herren, Jane Newbery, Hester A. McCan, Arminta Bice and Mary E. Roads, members and believers in Christ assembled themselves together for the purpose of being constituted into a Gospel Church of Christ in order to keep up the Ordinances according to His commandments and after Devine services called a presbytery, Ordained Elders of the Gospel to wit: Elder Arthur Conner, Elder T. J. Watson, John Magee, and after examination of said Brethren and Sisters, we the presbytery, do find said members holding a Gospel faith and doctrine, where upon we convenant with each other to strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace, and for a better understanding of our faith and doctrine principle, we the members present to the presbytery upon examination of the members that are present holding an Evangelical Gospel faith and doctrine, do covenant to walk in and keep up the Ordinances of Jesus Christ in the church were-in the presbytery and brethren united in prayer, commend us to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen, and pronounce a Gospel Church in Order. Elder Arthur Conner, Elder T. J. Watson, John Magee, Deacon."
In 1858 a church of the same name existed in the Cherokee Bay community, as it was represented in the Bethlehem Association that year. However, no reference to a former church appears in the minutes of the 1878 organization of Antioch Church.
Elder Arthur Conner was the first pastor of Antioch Baptist Church, and served until August, 1883. Others who held memberships soon after the Constitution but are not listed among the charter members were Elder Thomas Jefferson Watson, Dennis W. Reynolds, Sidney McCan, Mary Mccan, Fanny King, Mary Hensley, Robert Deal, Washington Lansdill, Mrs. N. E. Deal, Susan Ketchum, James Hix, Nancy Gowen, Thomas H. Reynolds, Elmira Cherry, Joseph Herren, George W. Hensley, James S. Reynolds, Willis Jones, Mollie Jones, Jim Jones, Hattie Jones, Dode Blackburn, Emma Blackburn, Bessie Blackburn, Charlie and Hattie Blackburn, Hannah McGuire, Otis McGuire, Thomas J. Cherry, Avy Cherry Hatley, Nettie and Bettie Carter, Ella Adams, Mary Deckard Gearhart, Mrs. Pink Franklin, C. T. and Mattie McClure, John and Mote McCrary, Jim Reynolds, W. H. Tipton, Fannie and S. C. Tipton, Mary Gearheart Man, J. M. Naamon, Matt and Mary Hurst, Geraldine Reynolds, Lela Roberson, Mrs. Rhodes, Walter and Lucille McCrary, Tilda Hurst, Gus Meredith, Reva McClure, Iva Justice, Marvin and Lillian Justice, F. L. Deboard, Della Debord, Erma Adams, Ben and Joe Blackburn, John West, T. R. and Verneal Roberson, William Robinson, Jacob Reynolds, Dewey Carter, Mrs. Lee (Alta) Cherry, Leonard Whitehead, Hubert Johnston, Will Hambrick, Buck Casey, Lloyd and Eula Butler, Mrs. J. H. (Myrtle) Richardson, Nelle Adams Ballard, Neely Blackburn, Obel and Cleytus Blackburn, Nettie and George Crawford, Clara Reynolds, Erven Reynolds, Mr. and Mrs. E. G. Richardson, Wells and William Reynolds, Leota Seymour, Susan Hurst, Tracy Parker, R. V. and Helen Parker, Ellen Reynolds, Joe Herren, J. H. Luttrell, John A. and Maggie Luttrell, Mrs. And Mrs. P. H. Booth, Andy Rhodes, Margaret Rhodes, Mary Brown, Juley Lansdill, Mary E. Deal, and Mrs. J. R. (Edna Jones) Reynolds.
September 1881, by motion and second, Antioch Church appointed Thomas Cherry, Dode Blackburn, and James H. Luttrell as delegates from the church, to attend the ministers and deacons meeting to assist in constitution and organizing a new association to convene at that church on Friday before the second Sunday in October, 1881. Current River Baptist Association was organized at that meeting on October 7, 1881, with Elder Arthur Conner presiding.
Records further state that October 1881, a business meeting was held for the taxing of church members in order to have funds to pay the pastor's salary. Committee appointed by the moderator, Elder Arthur Conner, to collect said tax were Joseph Herren, R. V. Parker, and Thomas Cherry. A total of $49.50 was collected at that meeting. In June 1883, three members each gave 10 bushels of corn to the pastor, Elder Arthur Conner.
On February 21, 1885, the church granted Joseph T. McGloshon a license to preach the Gospel. In 1887, Knox Belew taught a singing school at the church.
About 1985 a new site was secured, and a new house of worship was built about one-half mile south of the Round Track schoolhouse in Old Reyno. It was completed and moved into December 22, 1888.
In February 1889, the new building was dedicated with Reverend J. H. Milburn conducting the services. Between January 10 and July 7, 1889, the name of the church was changed from Antioch to Reyno Missionary Baptist Church (records of business meetings for those few months are missing). At the July 1889 meeting, Brother Frank C. Neely was ordained into the ministry.
On December 28, 1891, the new church house was destroyed by a windstorm or tornado, and $750.00 insurance was collected. Additional money necessary for rebuilding was raised by subscriptions in notes to be paid the following November. Notes were made payable to Mr. Dode Blackburn, church treasurer. Mr. Blackburn transferred the notes to the Bank of Biggers, as collateral security, along with the note of the Building Committee.
The First sermon preached in the new house at Old Reyno was April 27, 1892, by the pastor, Brother Kime. His text was, "Keep the First Burning on the Altar."
When the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad built a line through Randolph County in 1901, the old town was soon abandoned, and the business houses and most of the residents relocated, many of who moved their dwellings along with their families. The church also moved and is still in existence as the Reyno Church. A house was built, and in 1907 the old home of D. W. Reynolds was bought as a pastor's home. The present building was constructed in 1927 under the pastoral leadership of Knox Belew. It is a redbrick building with an auditorium, which seats about 300 people; it has two Sunday School rooms, and a small basement and cost about $6000. New pews and other improvements totaling more than $1000 were added in 1946, at which time its membership was 115. This church entertained the association while it was called Antioch in 1881, 1885, 1888, and after the name changed to Reyno in 1890, 1904, 1905, and 1941.
The site of the present town of Reyno is built upon what is known on early land records as the Francis Surget lands. During the early days this Frenchman bought up thousands of acres of Randolph County land in its wild state, with the idea of improvement for speculation. Heirs of the original owner later sold this land to many different individuals and the Title was a matter of much litigation for years. This land was owned by Mr. D. Hopson, who sold the town site to the various citizens of Old Reyno who were the first citizens of the new town which was called Esselwood (or Estlewood).
Pastors who have served include Arthur Conner, E. H. C. Kenner, J. J. McGuire, H. C. Kirkpatrick, W. P. Kime, Frank C. Neely, Henry Slavens, Sherrod Winningham, Bob Carroll, Oscar Cunningham, John A. Allison, Henry L. Waters, J. A. Wheatly, F. S. Gibson, R. L. Lewis, Frank C. Neely (1911), H. Barney, J. W. Harvey, W. A. Cummings, A. J. Wheatly, Knox Belew, Frank C. Neely (1924), A. B. Constantz, L. F. Bain, W. A. Boyer, Alvin Allison, Harley Statler, David Patton, P. O. Freeman, Clay Roach, Brother Downs, K. S. Earley, Harley Statler, Barney E. Rickman, Ishmael Parker, Jack Sharbutt, Lester Thompson, Arnold Clayton, Charles Mayberry, Marion Berry, Alvin Tyler, Donald Smith, W. D. Lewis, Charles Abanathy, H. E. Williams, Jimmy Milloway and Steven Bailey. This list is current only up to 1978.
Many thanks to Paula Watson Williams for information contained in this history.
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