Live Oak County Historical Commission
Live Oak County Historical Commission

First Baptist Church - George West

First Baptist Church George West (FBCGW) with new stucco finish Summer of 2020. Blooming Esperanza (Spanish word for hope) speaks to the hope sharing God's love emobodies in the church's mission: "Love God. Love People." FBCGW Texas Historical Marker has been installed. 


FBCGW Texas Historical Marker is a subject marker (as much about the people who were and are the church as the building itself), not a Registered Texas Historic Landmark. Nevertheless, when families and groups from within Live Oak County moved to the new City of George West in the early 1900's, the church organized without a building.


Soon, the Mikeska (pronounced Mikasky by native Irish families and descendants still living in Live Oak County) Community Church building was moved and became the FBCGW building. That building is still included within this structure. It is part of the educational area of the church. As many leave the auditorium and move into the educational unit behind it today, some revere and others are unaware of the historical past that surrounds them. Photo August 15, 2020 by John Walker.

First Baptist Church George West as it appeared at time of subject marker application to the Texas Historical Commission. FBCGW celebrated it's centennial early last year, 2019. Because of delay in THC's quest for a new marker foundry, the approved FBCGW marker was delayed. It has now been delivered. The church plans to place it near the front entrance. 



Marker Chair, Richard Hudson,​ wishes to thank the following people for all their help in providing resource materials and help during the Texas Historical Commission's Marker Application process:

FBCGW Marker Committee: Pauline Word, Chair

Nancy Davis, Marilyn Nance, and Liz Stewart.

FBCGW Pastor (1982-2019): Bruce Irving

FBCGW Secretary: Cindy Hatfield, and

Shari Wilson of Belton, Texas - Shari is granddaughter to W.E. and Minnie Lee Cunningham. Shari devoted much of her life to maintaining Minnie Lee's Campbell family history as well as her grandfather's Cunningham family history. 

Live Oak County Judge: Honorable Jim Huff

Live Oak County Historical Commission Chair: Ross Harris approved/Mary Margaret Campbell installed

LOCHC Marker Chair: Richard Hudson

Assistant Chair: Janis Hudson

FBCGW Sponsor: First Baptist Church George West

Date Unveiled: Sunday, April 18, 2021



FBCGW Narrative



First Baptist Church, George West, Texas

"Church with a Mission Heart"

Centennial 1919-2019


1.         CONTEXT

            Roger Williams bought land from the Narragansett Indians. He founded the Colony of Rhode Island basing its principles upon “religious toleration, separation of church and state, and political democracy”.[1] The tenets of America’s first Baptist church, The First Baptist Church of Providence, which Williams helped establish were: “acceptance of Jesus Christ as God’s son and man’s savior, believer’s baptism, priesthood of the believer, and security of the believer.”[2]

            Baptist beliefs spread as family members and converts moved West across America. Once independent from Spain, Mexico owned most of the land in North America westward from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Mexico, like Spain, established a Catholic State. They allowed no other church within their territory. Though Mexican law required only “Christians” could immigrate, Catholics were interpreted as the only “Christians”. Therefore, immigrants could not own property in Texas without practicing Catholicism.[3]  

             In 1835, Zachariah Nehemiah (Z.N.) Morrell was the first Baptist missionary to come from Tennessee to Texas. For years, Morrell carried the gospel throughout Texas.[4] Baptists called such ministers “saddle-bag” preachers, a Bible and pistol in one bag and a change of clothes in the other.[5] They depended on God’s guidance, nature (plant life and rabbits to beeves) and the good will of others.

Morrell called his Bible a “Jerusalem blade” and his Tennessee long rifle, which he fought with at San Jacinto, “a carnal weapon”.[6] Traveling with friends and a survey team from a campsite near where Live Oak County now stands, Morrell saved a Karankawa brave’s life. His act led to a treaty with Sam Houston and set a Christian example for perpetuity.[7] Morrell, exhumed from his original gravesite in Kyle, is buried in the Texas State Cemetery. A Texas State Hero obelisk and Texas State Historical Marker mark his grave.[8]  


II.  Overview

By 1912, when George Washington West began developing his Live Oak County namesake town, Oakville Baptist Church, at Oakville (then county seat), had an active ministry including their own community, Live Oak County, Blanco Baptist Association  (comprised of eleven surrounding counties), and the Texas Baptist General Convention. Like many churches, Oakville began when fellow believers met in prayer years before officially establishing a church. The actual date of Oakville Baptist Church’s origin appears to have been 1856, not long after the town was named county seat.[9] Six other Live Oak communities maintained at least part time Baptist church ministries in 1912.[10] Many members moved and made important contributions to the growth of the Baptist church in George West.

     This was a surprising Baptist presence for a county begun primarily by Catholics in 1855. From George West’s earliest beginnings, Baptists who lived in or near George West traveled to one of the county’s seven Baptist churches at least once a month for designated Sunday preaching services. They met in small groups with like believers for prayer and worshipped with ecumenical groups the rest of the month.[11] Ministers in these early churches, pastored two or three small churches at a time alternating preaching Sundays. They received little for their services. One minister joked he received a pound of butter; it melted before he could get home.

Summer Brush Arbor Camp Meetings were still common in the early 1900’s. Families from many faiths traveled long distances often by horse and wagon while camping a full week or more at Oakville or another church and attended preaching three times a day. Annually, or seasonally, Baptist churches had a week long revival with evening worship and preaching services.[12]

When the San Antonio, Uvalde, and Gulf Railroad bypassed Oakville in 1913, it led to an election by 1918 where Live Oak County people voted to move their county seat from Oakville to George West.[13] During the time George West grew from a fledgling town to the county seat, new Baptist churches were established in Dinero and Three Rivers.[14]

The First Baptist Church of George West (FBCGW) founding meeting was held at 11:00 am April 6, 1919 in the printing office, building courtesy of George W. West. Local families of Baptist faith met to worship and organize. The meeting was presided by Blanco Baptist Associational Missionary, Reverend W. H. Engle [Spelled “Ingle” later.] County Judge William Wade (W.W.) Caves, of Oakville Baptist Church recorded minutes.[15]

Following a sermon, prayer, and singing hymns, eleven people living in George West presented for charter membership based on letters in hand or promise from respective churches:

Mary Murray, Good Hope Baptist Church, Live Oak County

H. Webb and Alice Rhode from First Baptist Church, Floresville, Texas

William Jackson (often called Bud or Billy) and Hulda Stewart with daughters, Margaret, Ellen, and Mary, Lapara Baptist Church, Lapara, Live Oak County

Florence Ida Johnson, T. Tate, and daughter, Bobbie, presented on promise of letters.

W.J. Stewart’s letter informed of his role as an ordained deacon of Lapara Church.[16]

            The George West church then voted to adopt Pendleton’s Manual.[17] Pendleton’s Manual quotes I Corinthians 14:40 , “Let all things be done decently and in order.” (King James version.) Pendleton’s was designed specifically for Baptist Churches. It gave a model for church related matters, meetings, and business orderliness.[18]

            At this very first meeting April 6, the new church members pledged collaborative mission donations to Blanco Baptist Association.[19] This attention to missions set a precedent followed ever since. Today’s mission statement of The First Baptist Church, George West is “Love God. Love People,” from the New Testament (New Living Translation), Matthew 22:36-39.[20] In so doing, this new church contributed to an even greater mission than they alone could fulfill. The First Baptist Church of George West has continued to be a collaborative mission driven church throughout its first one hundred years.[21]

            These first families continued membership in the church and had a great impact on the church’s development and the community as well. W.J. Stewart was not only the first deacon. Two Stewart daughters were among the first Sunday School teachers. A relative married the first choir and youth director. All three daughters were present for the fiftieth anniversary. One hundred years after the founding, another relative was the oldest living active deacon. He served many years on the deacon board and as director of that board numerous times.[22] 

            Webb and Alice Rhode were original George West pioneers. Webb was one of only two trustees for the first George West School begun in a small green one room building. Their daughter, Iva Lee, taught piano from their tent to other tent dwellers while the town and their homes were built. Webb and Alice were vital charter members, generously giving to missions. Alice’s namesake great-niece and her husband, a deacon, are active in First Baptist George West 100 years later.[23]

Florence Johnson brought other family members into the church soon. They became Sunday School teachers, deacons, and served on mission projects. Their descendants followed as stalwart members of the church. Third generation Johnson descendants volunteer to missionary throughout the world. Around 2004 the Fred Johnsons with Pastor Bruce Irving, led  a church awakening in Live Oak County for a worship place that celebrated its roots in cowboy culture.

Population of this land large county at that time was less than 12,000. Only two incorporated towns each hosted a population of around 2,000. Eight thousand lived on ranches and farms. These ranchers and farmers share Christian and multi-ethnic roots. Responding to the Johnson request, Pastor Irving, with the support of First Baptist Church George West congregation, took the lead in sponsoring The Brush Country Cowboy Church (BCCC). Eleven families, about 20 members, from FBC George West became founding members. “The Cowboy Church in Pleasanton, Oakville Baptist Church, First Baptist Church Beeville, and The Baptist General Convention of Texas provided funding and resources to help begin.” At the time of First Baptist Church George West Centennial, the Cowboy Church, is independent, has surpassed some parent churches in membership, and is one of the largest congregations in Live Oak County.[24]

            1919 was a time of rejoicing followed with travail in America. Live Oak County and those who met on April 6 were not untouched by that year’s historical events. World War I ended on November 11, 1918; by 1919, the Stewarts and Tates saw young men in their close families joyfully come home. W.E. Cunningham was not so fortunate when the Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919 came their way. J.W. Cunningham, W.E.’s missionary father originally from Tennessee and his youngest son (W.E.’s toddling half-brother), succumbed while the epidemic took more Texan lives than WWI.[25]

On Sunday September 14, 1919, one of the most intense Texas hurricanes in history struck land at Corpus Christi. George West, far enough inland to miss the Gulf’s devasting surge, experienced high winds and flooding affecting members of the church and their neighbors. Homes, crops, cattle and businesses were faced with clean up and heavy losses.[26]

The mission hearts of FBC George West responded. They labored with neighbors, gave food, clothing, and household provisions. The church came together in fervent prayer for each in need. While the church continued financial gifts to associational, state, and foreign missions, they carried the example from their forebears of hands-on giving. This financial and hands-on giving at home in Live Oak County and to faraway worldwide places is practiced to this day.[27]

            After the church’s founding conference, organization continued an important focus. On June 1, 1919, W.W. and Maud Caves, from Oakville Baptist joined First Baptist George West. Conference followed. The first business was a motion for the moderator to appoint trustees to “receive and hold the title to and to hold, control, manage and dispose of any and all property belonging to and hereafter acquired by and for the use and benefit of the church subject to control and direction of the church in regular or special conference”. W.J. Stewart, H. W. Rhode, and W.W. Caves were appointed.[28]

            Baptist church history shows that a designated time and place for meeting is vital to church growth.[29] FBC George West is faithful in building and maintaining facilities commensurate with their mission. A building committee of W.J. Stewart, H.W. and Alice Rhode, W.W. and Maud Caves were appointed to “select a site for a church house in the town of George West” and ascertain specifics. They were to report “with or without recommendations”.[30] The first Sunday in each month was chosen for regular meetings and “conference could be held at either the morning or evening worship hour at the will and pleasure of those present”.[31]

            George W. West donated two lots to the church in 1923.[32] The first building came when the Baptists of Mikeska Community Church donated their interest in that building. FBC George West purchased the other Methodists’ interest and moved the building.[33] The pastor’s home was built in 1927 on West’s donated land while H.H. Spillyard was pastor. Another lot was purchased by the church later for a new parsonage.[34] In 1940, while Reverend W.R. Underwood was pastor, the Mikeska building was moved to the back of the lot; the frame structure was raised and a basement was added for Sunday School classrooms. Afterwards, a brick veneer was placed on the entire structure. The Mikeska building is still part of the educational building.[35]

The present auditorium was erected by Charles F. Newman of Kenedy at a total cost of $34,100 on a cost plus ten percent basis. Work began in July 1948 and completed in February 1949. Dedication and corner stone laying were held on April 29, 1949. Additional pews were made by W.R. Underwood. He and his wife remained in George West as members of the church after he resigned as pastor in 1946. He also built a new pulpit and Lord’s Supper Table. Walter Lamm aided in building pews. Pastor C.F. Griffin oversaw this effort.[36] The church purchased property behind the parsonage for additional parking in 1954.[37]

A new parsonage was purchased in the town’s Lamm Addition-Drake Subdivision at 903 Brown Street in 1958. Until the old parsonage could be moved to the church’s Mexican Mission, Intermediate and Young People’s Sunday School met there.[38] The church voted in November 1960 to hire architects for a new educational building, Contract was let approximately a year later for $52,000. The building, completed and dedicated in 1962, included space for banquets, classrooms, and a large kitchen.[39]

“The main church building and adjoining Sunday School classrooms were air-conditioned in September 1964. A plan for completely remodeling the church auditorium was accepted June 19, 1968, and work was finished in time for the fiftieth anniversary celebration, Jun 1, 1969.” In 1971, the church purchased the corner lots between the church and Highway 281 for additional parking space. Church site property then covered almost a full half block.[40]

The church family continued to grow. In June 1982 planning began for more educational space. Architect, Don Tew of Austin, was employed. A “Together We Build” program with the motto, “ Not equal giving, but equal sacrifice,” resulted in $536,000 of  a $640,000 goal before completion. Dedicated on March 23, 1986, the building increased space to 19,000 feet.[41] The church building complex now covers 21,000 feet.[42]

Since the eighties, numerous renovations have occurred: faceted glass windows, upstairs classrooms converted to a balcony increased auditorium capacity, and foyer size was increased. A perpetual care program keeps the church home facility sound. [43]

Christ commanded his disciples to “feed the flock”. FBC George West’s first mission was at home. They began with a place, time, order of worship, and regular conference for an inclusive multigenerational congregation. In 1919, Sunday School classes were often conducted as a regular Sunday event separate from preaching which met only once or twice among small part time rural congregations. By 1922, C.B. Beard served as Sunday School Superintendent before Sunday School was incorporated into the church program. In 1923, the church voted to take that responsibility, and asked Beard to continue with six classes addressing different ages. Men and women had separate classes. Beard was also superintendent of George West I.S.D. He and his wife, Birtie, who taught first grade at the school, were paid a combined $2,900 annual income. Later, Beard became County Judge.[44]

Plaque honoring Donald Maurice Cunningham, son of W.E. and Minnie Lee (Campbell) Cunningham. Maurice grew up in George West and its First Baptist Church. After Graduation from George West High School, Maurice joined the ROTC at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. When World War II began, he received his commission and became a pilot. Photo courtesy Richard Hudson.

Donald Maurice Cunningham Plaque is located on a special light pole on the East side of the Baylor Quadrangle leaving Old Main and the Pat Neff Building. Photo courtesy Richard Hudson.

W.E. (Elliott) Cunningham, Live Oak County Clerk, also moved his family from Oakville when the county seat moved to George West. He and his wife, Minnie Lee Campbell Cunningham, brought their membership from Oakville Baptist to FBC George West. He taught in the Sunday School and became its new Superintendent in 1925. Elliott served in that capacity until his death in 1952.[45]

Cunningham became City of George West Treasurer in 1946. He was the son of J.W. Cunningham, missionary to the Brush Country – pastor of Oakville Baptist and first pastor of Three Rivers Baptist. His brother, James was a charter member and deacon of the Three Rivers First Baptist Church. Elliott and Minnie Lee reared their children in First Baptist George West. Their son, Maurice, was killed as an Army Air Force pilot in World War II. A commemorative plaque on the Founders promenade in front of Baylor University Administration Building in Waco honors Maurice. John Elliott, also Elliot and Minnie Lee’s son, and Eva Grace Bishop, were married in FBC George West and remained devoted members of that church until their deaths.[46] Sunday School is still a key part of FBC George West ministry.[47]  

“Up until the late 1990’s the church had an active local Brotherhood (Now Baptist Men) and Royal Ambassador program that averaged between 30-50 boys and men. Many men have been involved in the Texas Baptist Disaster Relief and Baptist Builders in coordination with the Blanco Baptist Association.

“Over the years, FBCGW has been an active supporter of the South Texas Baptist Children’s Home in numerous ways. It is included in the church budget. Members have helped sponsor construction of a new cottage, collecting ‘Kans for Kids’ and the Annual Christmas Party. FBCGW youth have given their Saturdays to interact with the children there and work around the property. FBCGW Puppet Ministry gave presentations there. Dr. Jack Green, former Executive Director, served as interim pastor twice at FBCGW.

“From the beginning (1957) the members of FBCGW have been involved with Camp Zephyr, first known as Zephyr Baptist Encampment. The camp has been in the church budget from the beginning. First Baptist George West continues to participate in the summer camps and does a Ladies’ Retreat each year.”[48]

 In 1927,  Pastor Spillyard’s wife helped organize the first Women’s Missionary Society (WMS), with ten charter members, later Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) and now Baptist Women. These women met missionary goals regularly. The original WMS sponsored multiple organizations and projects often working with deacons. An important time honored project each year is a banquet honoring graduating high school seniors with “good food, fellowship, and an outstanding Christian speaker".[49]

Women-supported groups from WMS days to Baptist Women today include: preschool children activities, later Sunbeams now Mission Friends; Girl’s Auxiliary (GA’s Ages 9-12) and Young Women’s Auxiliary (YWA). Materials, sponsored by churches like First Baptist George West, for all Baptist organizations are printed in multiple languages, especially Cambodian, Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese for at home use and foreign missions.[50]

Over the years the church has had numerous devoted musicians to aid in worship services and special occasions. Wessie Hendrick was pianist and Sue Spross organist for more than 20 and 40 years respectively. Youth Directors often served as music leaders also. After about 1947, Youth Directors came usually from the University of Corpus Christi on Ward Island, then a Texas Baptist school until campus structure was decimated by Hurricane Celia in 1970. Texas Baptists donated all but 10 acres of the island to the City. By 1977, The South Texas School of Christian Studies (STSCS), now a Baptist seminary, began on the island. Students from there or volunteers often led in song. Youth directors from STSCS and other schools also serve FBCGW in summers and some during the year.[51]

By the late 1940’s and early 50’s the Mexican population living in and around George West on farms and ranches had grown.[52] In 1952, First Baptist George West voted to sponsor a Spanish speaking mission, Primera Iglesia Bautista. Pastor Clyde Griffin and Margie Kendall began teaching Sunday School on Sunday afternoons. Margie learned to play the piano for them.

Volunteers carried on until the next year when Pastor Andrew Duron was called.  Duron was there for five years. In 1960, the FBCGW purchased four lots in Block 7. The old mission building was moved to the new site along with the parsonage which had been donated from FBCGW. The parsonage is still in use today as the short L portion added to the main building donated by Clegg Baptist Church after they disbanded. The entire building is now bricked. “La Esperanza” (The Hope) is the name chosen by mission members when First Baptist deeded all property to them. First Baptist also sponsored a Mexican Mission in Dinero during the 1960’s.[53]

In keeping with the missionary goals of the church for home and abroad, many ministers have been ordained or supported in other ways by FBCGW. Ordinations include: Roger Hill, 1960; Zaragosa Gonzales, 1980; Dale Pugh, 1981; Tim Walshe, 1993; Balde Alvarado, 1994; Donald Martin, Jr., 2002; Chris Irving and Stephen Gaither, 2005; Robert Hatfield, 2011;  Bill Billett was ordained to the ministry in 1985. He and his wife were commissioned to the Foreign Mission Board that same year. Two missionaries, Dawn Cox, 1990’s and Sandra Hatfield to Ghana, West Africa, 2012 have been personally given support.[54]

In 1970, Hurricane Celia, was the costliest tropical cyclone in Texas History at that time. As in their beginning in 1919 and ever since, the church rallied for devastated Live Oak neighbors and others. Disaster relief has become an FBCGW focused mission. It has included a food truck serving first responders, repairing buildings, and other services needed. Some service sites have been: Macedonia after Croatia -Slovenia-Kosovo war; Honduras - Hurricane Mitch; Nuevo Laredo; Sri Lanka - Tsunami; Piedras Negra – flood; Nicaragua – Hurricane Felix; Iloilo, Philippines -Typhoon Yolanda; and Kurdistan, Iraq – war - two trips.

Like trips have been made in the United States: Victoria, Texas - flood; Houston – flood; Mobile, Alabama - hurricane; Wharton, Texas - flood; Orange, Texas - Hurricane Katrina; New Orleans, Louisiana – Hurricane Katrina; Goliad, Texas - flood; McAllen, Texas – Hurricane Dolly; League City, Texas – Hurricane Ike; Miami, Florida – Hurricane Wilma; Connecticut – repair mission church; and Brownsville, Texas – mission outreach.[55] 

Mission teams travel throughout the United States putting on Vacation Bible Schools, revivals, and performing construction work in Alaska, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Mexico, Tennessee, of course Texas, Wyoming, and Wisconsin.[56] In recent hurricane situations such as Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, FBCGW members hosted evacuees in the church facilities with food and lodging for several days. In one instance, Sunday School was cancelled until Camp Zephyr had room for those misplaced.[57]

One of the most important foreign mission projects First Baptist George West ever participated in was the historic “Mission to Brazil”. Baptists throughout Texas areas partnered and worked with Baptists in 10 major cities of Brazil. Ministers and laymen paid their own way but lived with Brazilian Baptists in a soul-winning, church planting, and church building mission from 1978-1981. Deacons and members from George West volunteered and went while those who remained at home participated financially and in “Prayer Live” for Brazil. “Some 3,750 Texas Baptists served in Brazil, and about 95,000 conversions were reported.”[58]

Brazil’s foreign lay missionary involvement led First Baptist Church George West to reach out to other countries, especially in times of need. These include Australia, Belize, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Germany, Ghana, West Africa, Haiti, Italy, Jamaica, Moldova, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, South Africa, and Spain.[59] 

At home in Live Oak County, FBC people work in various efforts. A benevolence program answers grocery, clothing, medical, and occasional financial needs. They participate in a county jail ministry, serve senior adult dinners in cooperation with other churches, alternating once a month. During school, a youth dinner is served Wednesday evenings before youth meetings. Church members participate in fund raisers and special events of other churches and community organizations. The Brush Country Cowboy Church described earlier is an example of how First Baptist Church George West encourages their membership and cooperates with other area churches in long lasting Christian endeavors.[60]

            In the mid-1980s First Baptist Church GW joined with other churches of George West to sponsor a benevolence ministry named ‘Live Oak Outreach’. The original intent was to have one place to help people in need rather than each church doing it on their own. Bill Bain, along with several members of FBCGW, was involved in organizing the effort. FBCGW has been an active supporter of Live Oak Outreach since its inception providing financial support as well as members who work there and serve on the board. The church has also participated with other churches in Easter Sunrise Service, Community Thanksgiving, and Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship Angel Tree Ministry which provides Christmas gifts to inmates’ children in the area. On an international level, the church participates in Operations Christmas Child and Franklin Graham’s Samaritan Purse Project.[61]


III.  Significance.

First Baptist Church George West strength lies in their love for God and his Son, Jesus Christ. The second is their love for each other, family, friends, and neighbors worldwide. From its inception, the church demonstrated a collaborative mission heart. Their motto, “Love God; Love People” translates to local, community, formal association, state, and worldwide missions. Their mission offering made on First Baptist Church George West founding day yields benefits until today 100 years later.

Baptist groups spread throughout Live Oak County from the time of the County’s origin. Except for the flourishing Oakville Baptist Church in the county seat, these small groups had preaching from “saddle bag” ministers perhaps only once a month. Connected with ecumenical groups, Baptists shared buildings and community faith. Baptists in George West practiced their faith in those churches in like manner until the county seat moved to George West.

With the coming of the county seat, came new people from Oakville and surrounding communities. This led to a Baptist church in George West. Among the charter and early members emerged leaders and a growing congregation. Baptists before them established a strong presence in the area and state. Associational connections to surrounding counties and the state supported opportunities for strong spiritual growth in George West also.

The Church’s resourcefulness in meeting their own needs and others is demonstrated in generosity, frugal investment, and faith that God will supply their needs. This church has supported Spanish language churches and cultural faithfulness to a strong country and ranch heritage. Far beyond that, from its own painful experiences in natural disaster and war, they have reached out around the world with disaster relief and the gospel. They are thankful for the bounty bestowed upon them and practice conservation of their resources. Their dedication multiplies opportunities for service.

Investment in multi-age, multi-ethnic, and ecumenical endeavors provides abundant support and opportunity. Five generations now serve their community through this church. Baptists have a rich Old World and Early American heritage. Texas Baptists have a unique history enjoined by that of other states and the world. This heritage supports continuing personal and denominational spiritual growth.

In a recent anonymous visual presentation, a member said, “Why do we do these things? Like the other communities of faith in George West, we work for the Glory of our Lord who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light. Buildings change, people come and go, but the purpose of our church remains steadfast till Christ returns."


IV. Documentation 


[1] Library of Congress. ”Roger Williams, Founder of Rhode Island, Arrive Boston February 5, 1631”. Accessed April 4, 2018 from

[2] Barry, John M. Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church State, and the Birth of Liberty. (Viking Press). 2012.

[3] Handbook of Texas Online, Margaret Swett Henson, "ANGLO-AMERICAN COLONIZATION," accessed August 4, 2018,

[4] Morrell, Z.N. Flowers and Fruits in the Wilderness. St. Louis: St. Louis. 3rd Ed., 1872. 1-16; Carroll. Ibid; McBeth. 6-53.

[5] Jones, Cora, (Mrs. Carroll R.) What God Hath Wrought: A History of Blanco Baptist Association 1873-1973. Waco: Texian Press. 1973.

[6] McBeth. 16,17; Morrell. Ibid.

[7] Morrell. Ibid.

[8] Handbook of Texas Online, Steve Sadler, "MORRELL, Z. N.," accessed April 3, 2018, from Texas State Cemetery. Z.N. Morrell. Accessed April 3, 2018 from (Appendix).

[9] Lindholm, Thelma. The History of the People of Live Oak County, Texas. Live Oak County Historical Commission – Self-published. 1982. 32; Dunn, Iris. More Than Conquerors: A History of the Oakville Baptist Church. Dunn reports that the first recorded existence of Oakville Baptist Church was written in 1871 at the time the church joined the San Antonio Baptist Association. She says it was also recognized that the church had been in existence sometime before that but did not make a written record before 1871. Jones repeats that same belief in “What God Hath Wrought”. Sparkman, Ervin. The People’s History of Live oak County Texas. Mesquite. Ide House. 97, 98. Sparkman draws from Pauline Campbell Gray and says 1856.

[10] Lapara (1877 - Later known as Cadiz.), Salt Creek Baptist Church. (1887 – organized in the Salt Creek Schoolhouse.), Votaw established in 1901 disbanded in 1903, Mikeska (Approximately 1902 – Two room school building used jointly by Baptists and Methodists.), Good Hope, (1903 - A mission of  Oakville, located at Armstrong – Community later called Good Hope.), and Mote (1912 – Included all denominations. Later called Clegg.). Jones. 83-84, 309, 334; Sparkman. 227-8, 185-6; Lindholm. 30-32.

[11] Hudsons, Richard and Janis. Interview in Belton, Texas, June 7, 2018.

[12] Jones.

[13] Sparkman. 125,126.

[14] Jones. 103.

[15] First Baptist Church, George West, Ledger. First minutes entered in this ledger written by W.W. Caves. Located in First Baptist Church, George West Archives, George West, Texas. (Appendix.)

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Pendleton, J.M. Pendleton’s Manual: The Reformed Reader Committed to Historic Baptist & Reformed Beliefs. Philadelphia: The Judson Press. 1867. Accessed on August 13, 2018 from

[19] First Baptist Church Ledger. First minutes. Ibid.

[20] First Baptist Church, George West, Texas website. Accessed August 13, 2018 from

[21] Irving, Bruce. Pastor. Interviewed by Richard Hudson at First Baptist Church, George West, April 15, 2018.

[22] Jones. 283-284.

[23] Sparkman. 104, 117, 128. Jones. 283. Bassett, Alice Ann. Narrative notes.8-28-2018.

[24] Johnson, Rachel R. Wood. Memories are Forever. Dallas: Monument Press. 1987. 92-93; Johnson, Fred and Evelyn. Interview with Richard and Janis Hudson in the Johnson home outside George West. December 10, 2011.

[25] Sparkman. 67,68; Custer, Marie. Interview by Richard Hudson in Marie’s Three Rivers Home, July 20, 2012. (Marie was granddaughter of J.W. Cunningham and daughter of WE’s brother J.M. Cunningham.) While these events and the following one are not recorded in church history, they show the heart and culture of the people.

[26] Murray, Bill. “The Great Corpus Christi Hurricane of 1919.” Accessed on August 5, 2018 from

[27] Wilson, Shari. Interview with Richard and Janis Hudson in her Belton home. May 23, 2018. Shari is the granddaughter of WE and Minnie Lee Cunningham; Irving, Bruce. Interview with Richard Hudson in church office. April 9, 2018.

[28] Church minutes, June 1, 1919. Ibid.

[29] Jones. Ibid.

[30] Church minutes. Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

[32] West, George W. to First Baptist Church George West. Block 40, Lots 1-2. LOC Vol. 14. 268-270. 5-25-1923.

[33] Jones. 283.

[34] Stewart, Mary. Church minutes. 38; Jones.283; Block 40, Lot 3. LOC Vol. 66. 585-588. 9-3-1937.

[35] Jones. Ibid.

[36] Nance, Marilyn. A History of the First Baptist Church, George West. George West: Self -published. 2017.

[37] Jones. Ibid; Irving. Ibid.

[38] Word, Pauline. 903 Brown Street, Lot 2 and n/2 Lot 3, Blk 4 Drake Subdivision. LOC Vol. 178.121; Jones. 284.

[39] Word. 4-10-1971. Lots 4, 5, 6. LOC Vol. 231. 293-295; Ibid. 2-15-1991. LOC Vol. 274. 416-429.

[40] Word. 12-05-1971. Lot 4 Block 40. LOC Vol. 41.491.

[41] 1986 history (author unnamed). First Baptist Church George West. First Baptist Church George West Archives. 1986.

[42] Word, Pauline. Insurance coverage as of 2018.

[43] Irving. Ibid.

[44] Jones. Ibid. Sparkman. 55, 118.

[45] Jones. Ibid.

[46] Wilson. Ibid.

[47]. Irving. Ibid.

[48] Irving. Narrative notes. 8-29-2018.

[49] Jones. 283-285. Stewart, Elizabeth. Interview with Janis Hudson on April 9, 2018 at the James and Elizabeth Stewart Ranch outside George West; “WMU”. Accessed on August 20, 2018 from

[50] Jones. Ibid.; . “WMU”. Ibid.

[51] Davis, Nancy. Narrative notes. 8-29-2018; Accessed on August 30, 2018 from

[52] Canfield, Robert. Interview with Richard Hudson at his home in San Antonio. June 24, 2014.

[53] Word, Pauline. Lots 1,2,3,4 Blk 7, 7-1-60. LOC Vol 185. 415; Ibid. 4-26-2005. LOC Vol. 30. 770; Jones. 284;  Davis, Robert and Nancy. Interview with Richard and Janis Hudson in Davis home. November 15, 2011; Irving. Ibid.

[54] Jones.284; Hatfield, Cindy. Narrative notes. 8-29-2018.

[55] Myers, Jack. 1998-2016 Mission report to church.

[56] Irving. Ibid.

[57] Hatfield. Narrative notes. 8-30-2018.

[58] McBeth. 337-340. Iriving. Ibid.

[59] Hatfield. Narrative notes. 8-29-2018.

[60] Stewart. Ibid.

[61] Irving. Narrative notes. 8-29-2018.

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