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Founder of Over Sixty Churches and Five Associations

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 Cottonwood 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 in  Sketches and Memories  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 counties.

Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on May 17, 1808, Byars moved to Georgia as a young man. Then he moved to Washington-on-the-Brazos, 
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 included:

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 
attended by 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 Belton.

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) Association 

1858 - founded Brazos River Association (Mt. Zion Baptist Church--now First Baptist Church, Hico--was a member of this association.  

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 pastorate.

1884-1885 - again appointed missionary to the Texas Baptist Convention

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 Greenleaf Cemetery.  
Survivors were his three children and his second wife.

After his death, Pecan Valley Association established Howard Payne 
College (now Howard Payne University) in Brownwood.



"BYARS, NOAH TURNER." The Handbook of Texas Online. <

"BYARS' INSTITUTE." The Handbook of Texas Online. <>

"BRAZOS INSTITUTE." The Handbook of Texas Online. <>

"FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, WACO." The Handbook of Texas Online. <>

"TRICKHAM, TX." The Handbook of Texas Online. <>

"CONVENTION OF 1836." The Handbook of Texas Online. <>

"WASHINGTON-ON-THE-BRAZOS, TX." The Handbook of Texas Online. <>

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





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People and Places: Gazetteer of Hamilton County, TX
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Copyright March, 1998
by Elreeta Crain Weathers, B.A., M.Ed.,  
(also Mrs.,  Mom, and Ph. T.)

A Work In Progress