Churches of Fannin County, Texas

 

The Christian religion has followed, yea, went with, the English speaking people, whithersoever they have gone, and the early settlement of Fannin County by this class of people, has been no exception. If it did not soon manifest itself in the erection of elegant churches, it came and remained in the hearts of the settlers. To them, the broad canopy of heaven, or a grove of trees, did service as a church building, and doubtless served them as well and better perhaps than would our easy pews and carpeted aisles. While their facilities for public worship were meager, so far as buildings go, yet it appears that in proportion to their numbers, there were as many worshiping people as there are among us to-day.

The reasons are clear. First, temptations to do wrong were not so many as now. Second, they (the settlers) were so few and far between, and surrounded by so many dangers, that they naturally felt alone with their Maker, and entirely dependent on Him. When encompassed by immediate danger of losing life, the occasion for earnest prayer, and devout worship was urgent, and doubt-less these occasions presented themselves often enough.

Third, the zeal and earnestness with which the ministers represented their cause and the necessity of its adoption had a greater weight possibly.

An instance of the kind of religion professed and practiced by the early settlers was given to the writer from a reliable source, and offers an example that might be followed today. "A Methodist circuit-rider on his rounds, stopped all night with a gentleman who had never been convinced of the error of his way. During the night the books were called for, and for the first time, prayer was made in the publicans house. On the following morning, when breakfast was over, and the preacher ready to go, his host accompanied him to the front gate. Here the preacher pulled out his purse and offered to pay for his lodging. His host refused, but the preacher insisted, saying he never liked to owe anything, and would rather pay than not. The publican replied that he (the preacher) could remember him in his prayers. "Well," said the preacher, make it a rule in life to pay as I go. There is no better time to pay the debt in that manner, than right here and now." So down on their knees went both the preacher and the publican, and the latter got up a Christian, as his life in after years proved."

The Baptist and Methodist were for a long time the most numerous, after awhile came the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Christians, and other denominations in large enough numbers to organize churches. There are even unto this clay but very few Catholics in the county, probably enough to organize a church, of small membership, if they were all together.. And it is strange but true, as investigation will satisfactorily show, that the prejudice against f this denomination is deep-seated and almost universal. Whether it is because a majority of the people have not taken the trouble to investigate the profound doctrines of this sect of the Christian religion, or whether it is the effect of early education and the writings of bitter protestants, the writer is not prepared to say, but that it exists, there is no kind of a doubt.

The prevailing denominations are Baptist, Methodist, Cumberland Presbyterian, Presbyterian, Christian and Episcopalian. The colored population as a church body is Baptist and Methodist.
The people of Fannin County take hold of religion with a zeal not to be found in the "old states."

The churches support their ministers, not in luxury or affluence, but well enough, and the preacher has nothing to do but to preach. In all the towns and most of the villages, every church has its local preacher, and during the entire year the churches are visited by distinguished evangelists of different denomination, who conduct protracted meetings with telling effect. At these revivals the people attend en masse, and accessions to the churches generally reach an astonishingly large number.

Religious sentiment largely pervades the social world. Nearly all the spare time of the mass of the people is given to religious matters in some shape or form. Church service, Sunday schools, temperance movements, and orders of religious inclination, or moral tenderness, claim the attention of the great majority of the people during their rest from the callings of every day life. In fact Fannin County is essentially religious, not the "wolf in sheep's clothing" kind, but moral, worshiping, church going Christians. The stranger who comes here is soon impressed with the truth of this statement, and his admission to society, to some extent depends upon his religious inclination, it is not to be understood that there are no anti-church people in the county, for there are and many of whom are excellent people, but perhaps the majority are either members of some church or religiously inclined.

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