NOAH TURNER BYARS
Founder of Over Sixty Churches and Five
On July 4, 1877, Rev. Noah Turner Byars presided
over the convention which
organized the Hamilton County Baptist Association (now the Hamilton
Baptist Association) at
Springs near the present locations of Fairview
and Evant. I
In 1876 Byars had been the only ordained
Baptist minister in Hamilton County. Hamilton County Baptist
Association was the last of five associations which Byars
established. Earlier ones were the Trinity River Association in
1848, the West Fork (of the Trinity) Association in 1856,
the Brazos River Association in 1858, and the Pecan Valley
Association in 1876.
Robert Sledge Griggs penned his family's involvement in the
founding of Sweet Home Baptist Church in his parents' home
of My Family.
Missionary Byars came to stay with the Griggs
while he preached in Hamilton County. When Byars had been
appointed the first missionary of the Texas Baptist Convention
in 1848, his mission field extended from the Brazos River to
the Trinity and northwest to Palo Pinto and Young
Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on May 17, 1808, Byars moved
to Georgia as a young man. Then he moved to
Texas, in 1835, where he established
a gunsmith and blacksmith shop. On January 21, 1838, Byars
married Sophia A. Lowden; they had three children.
Noteworthy events in Byar's life
1835 - Moved to Texas--Washington-on-the-Brazos
1836, March 1 - The Washington-on-the-Brazos unfinished
blacksmith shop of Noah T. Byars and his partner Peter M. Mercer was
rented for the Convention of 1836 which wrote the Texas
Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the Republic of
Texas and established an interim government.
The blacksmith shop
was the only building in Washington-on-the-Brazos large enough for
the convention and was leased by businessmen in Washington for that
purpose--but they never paid the rent.
1836--appointed armorer and blacksmith of the Texas Army
1837-1841--sergeant-at-arms of the Texas Senate
1837 - Charter member of the first Missionary Baptist
church established in Texas. Z. M. Morrell. established this church
at Washington-on-the Brazos
1838, January 21, - married Sophia A. Lowden
1839-1841--associate judge of Travis County, TX
1841, Oct. 16, - ordained to the Baptist ministry.
His ordination was
President of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar
and his cabinet.
Byar's first pastorate was in Burleson County where he was
appointed notary public for the county by the President of
the Republic of Texas
1843 - was a manager on the first Board of Managers of
the Texas Baptist Educational Society which
functioned in connection with the Brazos River Association; this society
established Baylor at Independence in 1845. Baylor split in 1886 into Baylor University
in Waco and Baylor Female College (University of Mary Hardin-Baylor) in
1848 - appointed first missionary of the Texas Baptist
Convention with a mission field from the Brazos River to the Trinity
and northwest to Palo Pinto and Young counties. It covered the territory
of thirty present-day Texas counties.
1848 - founded Trinity River Association
1851- founded First Baptist Church Waco on May 31,
1851. On June 1, 1851, he was called as their first pastor.
1856 - founded West Fork (of the Trinity)
1858 - founded Brazos River Association (Mt. Zion
Baptist Church--now First Baptist Church, Hico--was a member of this
1858 - Brazos River Association established Brazos
Institute at Golconda (now Palo Pinto). Byars assisted in raising
money to establish the school and Mrs. Byars was a teacher. Civil
War chaos closed the school in 1861.
1867 - Byars encouraged the Baptists of Tyron Baptist
Association to open a school--Byars'
Institute at Byars' Bluff near Cedar Bayou in Chambers County. Tuition for this school was three dollars per month for elementary
students and five dollars per month for secondary students. The
school had residential facilities for thirty students. Byars taught
all of the high school classes, while two elementary teachers provided
instruction for elementary students. Byars was also pastor of a nearby
Baptist church. This school was short-lived after Byars returned to
Mississippi in 1868.
1876 - founded First Baptist Church, Brownwood
1876 - founded Pecan Valley Association
1877 - Married again
1877, April 12 - Organized Sweet
Home Missionary Baptist Church in the home of Mr. and Mrs. George W. Griggs who lived in Hamilton
County about six miles northeast of the present town of Evant.
In addition to Bro. Byars and Mr. and Mrs. Griggs, other
adults present were Mr. and Mrs. Dave W. White and Mr. and Mrs. Donahue.
1877, July 4 - established Hamilton County Baptist
Association--now Hamilton Baptist Association
1877 - Was a trustee of Live
Oak Cemetery, Hamilton County, TX.
1878 - founded a Baptist church at Trickham, the
oldest community in Coleman County
1881-1882 - pastor of First Baptist Church, Brownwood
1884 - Clear Creek Church, Brown County was his last
1884-1885 - again appointed missionary to the Texas
April 18--July 18, 1888 preached one sermon a month in
the Coggin Academy Building in Brownwood
July 18, 1888 - Died in Brownwood and buried in
Survivors were his three children and his second
After his death, Pecan Valley Association established
College (now Howard Payne University) in Brownwood.
"BYARS, NOAH TURNER." The Handbook of Texas
"BYARS' INSTITUTE." The Handbook of Texas
"BRAZOS INSTITUTE." The Handbook of Texas
"FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, WACO." The Handbook of
Texas Online. <http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/FF/ibf3.html>
"TRICKHAM, TX." The Handbook of Texas Online.
"CONVENTION OF 1836." The Handbook of Texas
"WASHINGTON-ON-THE-BRAZOS, TX." The Handbook
of Texas Online. <http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/WW/hvw10.html>
Griggs, Robert Sledge, Sketches and Memories of My
Family, p. 18
Tidwell, Donavon Duncan, "A History of Pleasant
Valley Baptist Church, October 25, 1959."
Tidwell, Donavon Duncan, "A History of Pleasant
Valley Baptist Church, 1876--1976."
Tidwell, Donavon Duncan, "History of the Baptists
in Erath County, [TX]" October, 1937, Fort Worth, TX
Annual Minutes of Hamilton County Baptist Association
Student League and Alumnae Association, Baylor College,
Belton, TX, After Seventy-Five Years, 1920