WINFIELD BAPTIST CHURCH
The photos above, the first taken in 1981 and the second two in 1999, were contributed by David Eick whose Neff ancestors were members. The history below was contributed by Delaine Edwards. The history is from the files of the Scott County Historical and Genealogical Society. Unfortunately, no author is listed.
HISTORY OF WINFIELD (POTEAU) BAPTIST CHURCH
1868 THROUGH 1920
Scott County, with Waldron as County Seat, was formed on November 5, 1833. The counties around it were all formed later. It was the 29th county in Arkansas. The Western boundary of the State was not yet settled. The earliest account of a Baptist church in Scott County that can be documented was Brush Creek Church which sent as messengers Mr. J.A. Land and Mrs. J.S. Baker to Fayetteville United Baptist Association, meeting on October 5, 1860 with Salem Baptist Church in Crawford County. It with some other requested letters of dismissal which were granted.
With the stage of political development of the county sufficient to have it formed so early, it stands to reason that Baptist churches were formed before the Civil War. The church record books for Poteau Baptist Church before 1906 have been lost track of. In 1932, a brief history of the church was prepared but it also has not been available. In 1942 the Statistical Survey made by a Federal Agency stated that Rev. W.A. Bishop had record books from 1868 to that date.
The common tradition has it that the church was organized in the fall of 1868. At that time churches in the larger part of Western Arkansas, South of the Arkansas River and North of Mena, were in Dardanelle Baptist Association.
In 1871, Poteau Church was already a member of Dardanelle Association. Rev. A.A. Spiller was pastor; Mr. J.H. Smith was clerk. Messengers to that session from Poteau Church were A.M. Keene, J. Bently and T.R. McAnally. The membership was 49.
The next year, the church joined by petitionary letter Concord Association which had been organized in 1871. Rev. Spiller was still pastor; Mr. Smith was clerk. Mr. J.W. Condry was the only messenger to the Association. The records for 1872 were as follows: number of baptisms, 10; received by letter, 2; total membership, 59.
The Rev. Spiller served as pastor in 1873 to 1875. He was also pastor at Waldron. Mr. Smith also served as clerk those years. In 1873, Mr. Smith and Mr. Condry were messengers. Even though there were 3 baptisms, there were 14 dismissed by letter leaving a total membership of 56. The church gave $7.45 for missions, second in amount only to First Church of Fort Smith for that year.
In 1873, the church won favorable action by the Association against Mt. Nebo Baptist Church for restoring a Mr. B.F. Reese whom Poteau church had excluded. Mr. Benjamin Brown and Mr. Wilham Sehorn were messengers. No statistics are available for 1874 or 1875. Mr. McAnally and Mr. Condry were messengers those years. The church asked for the meeting of the association for the next year.
In 1876, the church entertained the annual session of the Association. Rev. N. Marshall was the pastor while Mr. Smith was still clerk. B. Brown, K. Strickland and J.H. Smith were messengers. The total membership was 72. The Rev. Marshall was pastor in 1877 and 1878, and Mr. Smith was clerk and the only messenger in 1877. The membership was 77. The messengers in 1878 were Mr. T.J. Condry, Mr. J.W. Tripp and Mr. J.T. Vise. There were 91 members.
The first mention of a Sunday School was in 1879. Mr. T.J. Condry was the Superintendent and there were 50 members. There were only 2 other schools reported among the 50 churches in the Association. Rev. Spiller was pastor and Mr. Smith was still clerk. The messengers included J.W. Condry, M. Strickland and A.N. Cleave. The membership reached 93.
Misfortune struck the churches of Concord Association in 1880. A Rev. F.M. Kregel, pastor of Greenwood church, came under fire over his past life in Virginia. He had been excluded and had his credentials withdrawn for fornication before he came to Fort Smith where he falsely gained membership and ordination. The majority of Greenwood Church held out for him and excluded the minority, including Rev. E.L. Compere who was moderator of the Association which met that year with Greenwood church. A group of churches agreed with the majority group and elected another moderator. The Compere group held a session elsewhere in Greenwood. Poteau Church was not represented in either session. From 1880 through 1889 two sessions of Concord Association were held each year but with different churches. North Concord Association met with Cedar Grove church in Scott County in 1881. Poteau Church did not send a letter. It was represented, however, in South Concord at Sharon Baptist Church in Logan County. It reported Rev. L.F. Patterson as pastor for the first time. G.W. Smith was clerk. Membership had reached 134, the first time it had reached 100. The church did not represent in each wing of the Association in 1882.
It sent letters to South Concord in 1883 to 1889. The Rev. L.F. Patterson was pastor in 1883. That year, there were 51 baptisms, 35 received by letter, and four restored which was the largest annual increase in the period covered by this paper. That year was the last one for Mr. J.H. Smith as clerk. He had served as clerk for every prior year for which we have records. The membership reached 163. In 1884, there were 164 members. Mr. G.W. Smith served as clerk until 1889. In 1885, there were 48 baptisms and 161 members. The messengers were J.W. Condry, J.A. Singleterry, Robert Payne, R.M. Edwards and James A. Denton. The meeting day for preaching was the Saturday before and the third Sunday of each month. There was no report for 1886. Membership was 177 in 1887 and 175 in 1888. There was no report for 1889, although the Association passed a resolution to unite the two wings in the next meeting with Oak Bower church in Sebastian County.
In 1890, both wings met with Oak Grove Church in Sebastian County. Kregel was gone and although the session passed a resolution memorializing Alma church for accepting him as a member, the old differences were buried and with a warm handshake, matters were settled. The messengers from Poteau in that meeting were P.E. Windham, J.W. Condry, J.A. Denton and M.R. Denton. I.M. Hon was church clerk. The membership was 148. That year the church gave $5.00 for missions, the second highest gift for that cause among the 50 churches.
In 1891, South Concord Association (according to the constitution) but Buckner Baptist Association (according to the front cover of the minutes) met with Poteau Church, October 17 - 20. Rev. L.F. Patterson was moderator; C. Henderson was clerk and Rev. A.H. Autry preached the annual sermon. Thus in her own house, Poteau became a member of a fourth Baptist Association--Dardanelle, Concord, South Concord, and Buckner. She has entertained the annual session of Buckner Baptist Association 6 times--1891, 1895, 1912, 1921, 1927 and 1949. It entertained Concord one time--1876. The church clerk in 1891 was I.M. Hon. Messengers were Dr. James H. Smith, J.N. Forehand, B.E. Thomas and J.W. Condry. Thirty-five were received by baptism and fourteen by letter. Membership reached 193, the largest membership of all churches in the association that year. In 1892, there were 25 baptisms, 16 received by letter, and a membership of 207. In 1893, D.M. [sic?] Hon was clerk and T.W. Denton, W.O. Smith, T.J. Condry and L.F. Patterson were messengers. Membership was 206.
In 1894, 17 were baptised, and membership was 200 as it remained in 1895. I.M. Hon remained clerk until 1900 when W.E. Jones was elected. Baptisms were 14 in 1896 and membership reached the highest number in the period covered by this paper--215. In 1897, the first year reports on Sunday Schools were made since 1879, but Poteau church did not report one. The first report of church property of Poteau Church showed a value of $300. No baptisms were reported for the first time; however 20 were reported the next year and 24 were received by letter. In 1899, a gift of $300 to Associational missions was the first one ever reported. Value of church property of $1000 must indicate a new building in the past 2 years. No baptisms were reported in 1900. Membership had dropped to 155 in 1901; however a Sunday School of 10 teachers and 136 members were reported. $37.75 was given to Associational missions; and in 1902, $25 to Associational missions and for the first time a gift to State Missions $3.50 was made. There were 30 baptisms in 1903, but no report for 1904 was given for Poteau did not attend the annual session. In 1905, Mr. L.W. Pitchford had become Clerk. The membership arose to 186. In 1906, Mrs. M.J. Stone gave to Foreign Missions enough for one day's expenses of a missionary in Yoruba, Africa. The annual session of Buckner Association was highlighted by Rev. J.S. Compere, son of Rev. E.L. Compere. The father told of his choice of Western Arkansas and Indian Territory for his life's field of service over Africa and of his gratitude over his son's call to Africa. Rev. Otto Whittington was called as paston on August 5 but declined. Rev. W.P. Hall was elected pastor on September 6 but was excused on November 11. In December, Rev. P.E. Windham was called as pastor. William Lowry was elected clerk. The pastor's salary was $100, the first mention of a fixed amount. The value of church property decreased to $800; however a Committee to Build composed of W.J. Condry, B.L. Walker and William Lowry was elected. The church reported having a Sunday School but no details were given. Rev. L.A. Robertson held a revival beginning July 29 and running through August 5. Deacon M.S. Gist was received by letter and Adaline Welkley was baptized. Dr. Bevil and wife were granted letters. Rev. P.E. Windham, J.S. Gist, J.W. Condry and S.R. Walker were sent to the Association that fall.
In 1907, the church showed growth and new life. Rev. Windham was pastor and William Lowry was clerk. Rev. L.A. Robertson again held a revival meeting, August 13 through 20. 41 were baptized, four others were to have been baptized. At 10:30 on Wednesday August 18, the following were baptized: Lula Barnes, Beulah Brown, C.F. Barnes, M.E. Bruce, Nora Brown, Allic Crutchfield, Callie Crutchfield, Jim Crutchfield, O.C. Crutchfield, Dorie Duncan, Will Dedmon, F. Dedmon, F.D. Denton, Bryan Denton, W.H. Denton, E.T. Denton, F.A. Forehand, Janie Forehand, Claud Hagan, Myrtle Hawthorne, Sallie Hawthorne, Blanch Merideth, Perlie Merideth, G.C. Mead, Frank Neff, George Nolen, E.M. Nolen, Ethel Nolen, J.D. Ponder, Robert Plummer, Birt Slocom, Lena Slocom, Robert Stewart, R.A. Taylor, Jim Taylor, Josie Taylor, Charley Thomas, Walter Thomas, Mattie Windham and Lindsey Windham. Rev. Robertson was elected pastor but declined. Rev. Windham was then reelected. William Lowry again served as clerk. A finance committee was then elected. 2 were received by letter but 17 letters were granted. The membership reached 136. Pastor's salary was $97 and the visiting preacher received $25.80. $19.18 was sent to Foreign missions. There was a Sunday School.
In 1908, Rev. J.W. Comer and J.E. Crutchfield were elected pastor and clerk respectively. Membership was 151. Pastor's salary was $120. In 1909, Rev. Windham was again elected pastor as was Mr. Crutchfield as clerk. Mr. T.J. Condry was Sunday School superintendent with 5 teachers and 65 members. Pastor's salary was $59.25. Other contributions were $23.50 for the visiting preacher, $89 for Sunday School expenses and benevolences, and $36 for Associational missions. Value of church property was $500.
Rev. C.L. Barnes was elected pastor in 1910 and served for 3 years. Mr. Crutchfield was reelected clerk, and Mr. Condry was reelected Sunday School superintendent. There were 6 teachers and 50 members. Pastor's salary reached $150. The church gave to all mission causes as follows: Associational missions $66.90; state missions $12.45; Home missions $12; Foreign missions $16.40; and Orphan's home $15.50. In 1911, Mr. W.A. Bishop was elected clerk. Pastor's salary reached $180.35, value of church property $1000. Total contributions were $507.85. Mr. Condry served as Sunday School superintendent with 6 teachers and 65 members.
In 1912 Mr. W.A. Thomas was elected clerk and Mr. Bishop was elected Sunday School superintendent and each served 2 years. The church contributed to all outside causes as follows: Associational missions $65.50; State missions $30.50; Home missions $16.50; Foreign missions $16.50; Orphan's home $13.13; Ministerial Education $26.50. The pastor's salary was $160. In the summer of 1913, two of my sisters were baptised.
No record of the officers of the church was at hand for 1914 or 1915. In 1914, however, Mr. W.A. Bishop served the association as evangelistic singer and personal worker. The church continued to contribute to all mission causes.
In 1916, the Rev. Patterson was reelected pastor. Mr. Roy Sehorn served as clerk in 1916; Mr. E.W. Denton in 1917; Mr. N.H. Holland in 1918 and Bernice Crutchfield in 1919 and 1920. Mr. E.W. Denton was Sunday School superintendent for 1916, 1917 and 1918. Mr. N.H. Holland served in 1919 and 1920. Sunday School enrollment reached 110 in 1918. That year led the churches in the Association in Home mission gifts--$172.23. In 1916, its pastor's salary was fourth highest in the Association. In 1919, total contributions reached an all-time high of $2373.33 and pastor's salary at $360. The value of church property reached $1500.
This survey, ending with 1920, revealed that the church was the only church in the Association that year to contribute to all outside causes. These included Hospital $56.06; Associational missions $95; State missions $95; Home missions $160.39; Foreign missions $168.15; Orphan's Home $50.03; Education $280.28 and other objects $65. The Rev. Patterson was pastor; Bernice Crutchfield was clerk; and Mr. Holland was Sunday School superintendent.
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