Williamson County
Texas History

 

  First Baptist Church
Historical Marker
(sometimes called "The Old Liberty Hill Church")
Liberty Hill, Texas


located today at
15611 Hwy 29, Liberty Hill, TX

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A special thanks to the Williamson County SUN and
Barbara Barrier for this article on the church move 



1927 before remodeling


church family

bldg.-1


Tabernacle



 
  Marker Text
Successor to Zion Baptist Church and the Liberty Hill Missionary Baptist Church of Christ, which merged 1854, and met in a brush arbor or in Silent Grove School, 4 miles to the west. When Austin & Northwestern Railroad was built, Liberty Hill moved here, and this church was organized (1882), with the Rev. J.A. Arbuckle as pastor. Members erected their building on this site given by the Rev. W.O. Spencer. Evangelism, Sunday school, and other endeavors have prospered. The present church building, in use since 1904, was renovated in 1950. (1974)
 





  Liberty Hill Baptist Church "The Old Liberty Hill Church" 1882-1947
Historical Narrative by Miss Lelah Barton - - 1947

click on image for an enlarged view
Miss Lelah Barton

A brief outline history of the first Baptist church of Liberty Hill, Texas
and the liberty hill missionary Baptist church of Christ sometimes called
"the old liberty hill church"

Published by - The Liberty Hill Baptist Church Publication Committee W. C. Bowman, J. T. Spencer - Mrs. E. L. Chance

Preface
FRIENDS HAVE repeatedly requested that the historical data on the First Baptist Church of Liberty Hill, Texas, and also that on the Old Liberty Hill Baptist Church, which I have gathered for my own pleasure and for the information of those following me, be compiled and preserved in permanent book form.

Having no experience in writing, and realizing that it would be a hard and arduous task, I would gladly have passed the assembled information on to someone more capable than I of preparing it for Publication.

The material has been gathered from various sources. Former members and old church records Save furnished valuable information.

Conflicting opinions have been expressed in some cases concerning dates and church property, due to the fact that the first records of both churches have been lost. In such cases I have sought all the information possible to obtain and then used the most plausible.

I wish to express my appreciation to the church, to former members of these churches, and to all others who have given encouragement and support in the publication of this little volume.
LELAH BARTON

The First Baptist Church of Liberty Hill 1882-1947

In the summer of 1882 the Baptist people of Liberty Hill decided to have a protracted meeting in the village, instead of the annual camp meeting usually held with the Old Liberty Hill, Church, which was located in what is now known as the Silent Grove neighborhood four miles west of town.

Rev. John A. Arbuckle of Burnet was secured to do the preaching. A brush arbor was built on the grounds where the present church stands.

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Rev. John A. Arbuckle

After a ten-day revival, a new church was organized; the Rev. John A. Arbuckle was called as pastor, and J. G. Ward was made church clerk and treasurer.

A committee was appointed to secure grounds for the church building. The grounds on which the meeting had been held were donated by Rev. W. 0. Spencer. A building committee was appointed and work soon begun. During the construction of the building services were held under the arbor. By late fall or early winter the walls, roof and floor of the new church were in place. Window openings were covered with boards for several weeks, and temporary seats were made of nail kegs and long boards.

A Sunday School was organized with H. D. Boswell acting as superintendent. ( Mr. Boswell was the father of Rev. W. D. Boswell of Waco.) J. G. Ward served as secretary-treasurer. The First Baptist Church of Liberty Hill was now functioning, and at the next Austin Association meeting in August it became a member of that Association. This affiliation continued until the Williamson County Association was organized in 1916.

During these sixty-three years the church has been without a pastor for only a few months at different times. It has co-operated with the Baptist denomination at all times, and has stood for the cause for which it was organized—that of glorifying God and sending the Gospel to all nations. The Sunday School has at no time failed to function, even during those times when we were without a pastor.

The following are the names of all the charter members which are available:

Sam Ward
Rev. W. 0. Spencer
Fannie Roach
Mrs. W. 0. Spencer
Charley Roach
W. A. Spencer
R. E. Allen
H. D. Boswell
Addie Allen
Mrs. H. D. Boswell
(Mrs. R. E. Allen)
J. G. Ward
Mary Smith
Mrs. J. G. Ward
Mary Jane (Barton) Potts
G. I. Potts
C. F. Ward
C. A. Ward
Lila Ward
E. T. Hefner
Anna Ward
Nancy Margaret (Barton) Hefner
Sam Ward
T. A. Roach
T. C. Barton
Ellen Roach
J. A. Arbuckle
(Mrs. T. A. Roach)

click on image for an enlarged view
Rev. William Oliver Spencer
click here for more on William O. Spencer


Under the leadership of these people, with many others who were added to the membership from year to year, the church prospered, though laboring under many difficulties. In 1903 the church building was completely destroyed by a fire which also destroyed the school building. This was indeed a severe blow to a small-town church.

As the men fought courageously to keep the fire from spreading to nearby residences the women stood at a distance watching the flames leap into the heavens and wet, while the children at their mothers' sides or in their arms cried and asked, "Will God give us another Sunday School?" Well do I recall my father—with a courage like Gideon'' and a faith like that of Abraham—saying, "Yes. children, God will give you another Sunday School."

That night, while our heartsick fathers and brothers with many of their womenfolk watched the smoldering fire, they began making plans for rebuilding. While the cinders were yet hot the church held a business meeting: committees were appointed for the erection of another building. Before the debris had been removed sufficient money had been raised to begin building.

During the time we were without a church home the good Methodist people invited us most graciously to use their church for services two Sundays in each month, and the Christian people as generously offered the use of their church for our Sunday School. Thus the work did not cease.

In a short time the building was far enough advanced to make it possible to hold services there, although it was not finished for several months. A small debt was paid off a year or so later.

During the years that followed we often grew faint and discouraged. It was on an occasion like this when some ten or more women met in the church for a missionary meeting and prayer. We had a small debt, no pastor and few workers. One said, "It seems we can't hold out much longer." Then a faithful, devout lady, Mrs. C. L. Simmons, now of Snyder, Texas, sounded the note of faith and comfort when she said, "This church will continue to function until Christ shall come again," then added, If our dearly beloved layman and deacon, F. M. Barton, were the only man having a part in the building and on-going of this church, Christ would honor his labors by causing it to endure throughout all time and into eternity."

By 1907 the Sunday School had outgrown the building's capacity and it became necessary to provide extra space. Two rooms were added, giving space for a fully graded Sunday School.

In 1933 a primary department was added.

In the life of our church one minister was ordained—our own and dearly beloved Dr. J. H. Pace, now departed. Two missionaries were sent to the foreign field— the late and much-loved Rev. D. L. Hamilton and his wife, Mrs. Jennie Albertson Hamilton, who now resides in Waco. Deacons have been ordained from time to time, as demands arose.

The present board of deacons consists of W. C. Bowman, chairman, J. T. Spencer, Will Hunt, W. E. Creel, W. A. Hefner, V. C. Spencer, Joe Myers, John Shuffleld and Glen Shuffield.

Our pastor and church officers are :

George C. Griffith, pastor
J. T. Spencer, secretary-treasurer
Mrs. E. L. Chance, clerk
Finis Anderson, Sunday School superintendent

The following have served as Sunday School superintendents:

H. T. Pace
H. D. Boswell
E. A. Pace
C. C. Leatherwood
Otho Hefner
C. E. Leatherwood
W. C. Bowman, Liberty Hill
Joe Canady, Liberty Hill
S. R. Adams, Lampasas
W. H. Parker, Smithville
V. D. Wiley, U. S. Army
J. L. Perry, Austin
T. A. Bryson,
Austin Elisha Price, Liberty Hill
F. F. Anderson, Liberty Hill

This brief history of the First Baptist Church of Liberty Hill would not be complete without mention of the Woman's Missionary Society, which was organized not later than 1891. Mrs. Reece, the pastor's wife, was the first president, Sallie Barton was corresponding secretary and Mrs. Hattie Miller treasurer. The following were some of the charter members: Mrs. W. M. Reece, Mrs. C. C. Leatherwood, Mrs. Hattie Miller, Mrs. Eliza Hall, Mrs. H. D. Boswell, Miss Janie Williams, Miss Sallie Barton, Mrs. W. 0. Spencer.

The Liberty Hill W. M. S. was affiliated with the Austin W. M. U. as early as 1894. The minutes of the Austin Association show that we were represented at almost every W. M. U. meeting of that Association until 1916, when we became a member of the Williamson County W. M. U.

The following served as presidents or other leading officers: Mrs. W. M. Reece, Mrs. C. E. Leatherwood, Miss Janie Williams, Mrs. Hattie Miller, Mrs. Eliza (Miller) Hall, Mrs. J. N. Matthews, Miss Cora Bainbridge, Miss Emma Chapman, Mrs. Will Bowman, Mrs. T. A. Bryson, Mrs. H. L. Gill, Mrs. S. R. Adams, Mrs. Hudson Adams, Mrs. W. H. Parker, Mrs. E. R. Bryan, Mrs. E. M. Mears, Mrs. F. Mears and Mrs. J. H. Comer.

Mrs. W. C. Bowman is our current president, Mrs. J. K. Lane is vice-president and Mrs. E. L. Chance is secretary-treasurer.

Each year an offering is made for state and foreign missions, the Buckner Orphans' Home, Old Ministers' Relief, Christian Education and hospitals. Personal service among our own people is stressed, and much valuable aid is given. Miss Cora Bainbridge has been chairman of our Personal Service Committee for years, and her work and service cannot be excelled. She can truly be called our home missionary.

We have studied books on missions, stewardship, and personal service, while special emphasis is placed on Bible study. Our motto is "Laborers Together With God:- our song is

Lead On, 0 King Eternal:
Lead on, 0 King Eternal
The day of march has come,
Henceforth in fields of conquest
Thy tents shall be our home.
Thru days of preparation
Thy grace has made us strong,
And now, 0 King Eternal,
We lift our battle song.

'Lead on, 0 King Eternal
We follow, not with fears;
For gladness breaks like morning
Where'er Thy face appears;
Thy cross is lifted o'er us
We journey in its light;
The crown awaits the conquest;
Lead on, 0 God of Might.

At the wise suggestion of our Associational Missionary, Rev. R. C. McCullough, a man experienced in the financial problems of churches, we adopted the Weekly Offering Budget Plan in 1926.

`Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him"-1 Cor. 16:2

Revivals have been held at regular intervals, and the church has steadily increased in membership.

During the long years of tragic World War through which we have passed we have missed the presence and fellowship of our young men and women, but their letters of faith and courage have been an inspiration to us. Our church displays a service flag bearing the names of these young people. Thus strengthened, we have gone forward along all fronts. We have made offerings to all causes supported by the Co-operative Program, have met all local expenses, raised the pastor's salary and made improvements on the church building and on the pastor's home.

On May 27, 1945, our pastor and Sunday School superintendent, with a group of faithful teachers, organized a Sunday School at Hopewell, a community some eight miles west of Liberty Hill, with an enrollment of twenty-four. This Sunday School is growing in interest and enthusiasm week by week.

Few there are who seem to care,
And few there are who pray;
Melt my heart and fill my life,
Give me one soul today.

Lead me to some soul today,
O teach me, Lord, just what to say;
Friends of mine are lost in sin
And cannot find their way.

SOME PLEASANT MEMORIES

Memories! Memories! Down through the years, to the present time, so many happy memories have been centered around this church and its good people that it would be impossible to recount them all.

Perhaps no greater joy ever came to the members of this church than when on two occasions our own Bro. Julian H. Pace came back to conduct revivals for us, and on another occasion preached for us at a church home-coming. The visits of this beloved and gifted son to his home-town church were sources of deep joy to the whole community.

Another member of our church family, W. D. Boswell, later held meetings for us, at which times the church experienced great spiritual revivals.

Often our pastors have come to us as a direct answer to fervent prayer. These pastors have always been much loved and the church prospered under their leadership.

The coming of Mary Jo into the home of Pastor R. H. and Mrs. Mathison thrilled old and young alike. We loved them all.

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Pastor R. H. and Mrs. Mathison


Bro. J. C. Newman was not only a pastor but also a father to us all. Mrs. Newman's cheer drove away many a care, and her wise counsel and advice were freely sought.

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Rev and Mrs. J. C. Newman


Bro. J. A. Arbuckle was pastor during my childhood. No pastor was ever more deeply loved.

Bro. J. N. Marshall came to the church some years later, and his influence in molding the Christian character of the young people of the church, including my own, cannot be over-estimated.

During his pastorate Dr. T. C. Boykin, a Sunday School specialist, taught a class in the church introducing better methods in Sunday School work.

The visits of Bro. and Mrs. W. R. Hornburg with my father and mother were great benedictions to our home.

In times of financial distress of the church it is remembered how our hearts were made glad by the magnificent way in which men such as D. D. Foreman, D. L. Simmons, J. N. Davis, C. E. Leatherwood and others helped to lift the burden.

Working under the able leadership of T. A. Bryson and S. R. Adams, during the years they served so untiringly as Sunday School superintendents—another joy never to be forgotten.

A Mountain-Top Experience

This church enjoyed a mountain-top experience when, in the early days of the Buckner Orphans' Home, Dr. R. C. Buckner, the founder of that great institution, visited Liberty Hill in the interest of three small orphan children.

He was met at the railway station by my father and immediately driven to the humble home of these little children. Later, he spent most of the afternoon on the streets of Liberty Hill meeting and greeting the townspeople. The following day, Sunday, he spoke to a full house at both morning and evening hours. Other churches of the town canceled their services in order that all might go over to the Baptist Church and hear Dr. Buckner.

On Monday morning he left for Dallas with the three little orphans. Each child carried a parcel in which were the clothes that faithful "Dorcas" had made. Dr. Buckner carried a well-filled basket of fried chicken, buttered biscuits and cookies which "Martha- had prepared for their lunches.

Dr. Buckner had also a love-gift of more than $100.00. Christians of all denominations, as well as non-Christians, had shared in this gift.

Thus, the Buckner Orphans' Home became "Our Orphans' Home."

For more than half a century this church has had the joy of sending gifts of money, .food and clothing to this great institution, of which there is none greater.

For more than half a century the First Baptist Church of Liberty Hill has stood like a light-house beacon, guiding the destiny of her people over smooth and troubled seas, ever pointing them to a fuller and more abundant life.

In time, this small frame building will decay, the old bell in the steeple will rust away, but may the influence of this church go on and on forever and forever.

The following pastors have served this church:

1882-1892
J. A. Arbuckle
W. M. Reece

1892-1904
D. W. White
J. N. Marshall
W. E. Holman
J. E. Bell
C. C. Young

1904-1912
W. C. Garrett
C. R. Taylor
W. J. Durham*
W. R. Hornburg
R. A. Mobley

1912-1922

W. C. Slaughter
Rev. Talley
George Balch
F. W. Taylor
Neal Greer
W. A. Barkley

1922-1932
Geo. D. Wells
G. C. Lewis (2 months)
D. A. Jones
N. A. Sanders
J. C. Newman

1932-1945
R. H. Mathison
E. N. Sullivan
Geo. W. McGuire
R. C. McCullough
W. Joel Fergeson
Wilson Carwile
George C. Griffith



The Liberty Hill - Missionary Baptist Church of Christ

The old Liberty Hill Baptist Church was organized under the above name and was so called until the First Baptist Church at Liberty Hill was organized in 1882. It then became known as the -Old Liberty Hill Baptist Church." The exact date of its organization is unknown.
The Baptist people of West Williamson County began to have preaching services in 1854, in the home of W. 0. Spencer. Later they held their services in a small school house or under a brush arbor.

The original church records were filed away in 1869, and no trace of them can be found. The names of the charter members and of others joining up to that date are all that was transcribed in the next and last records. I am indebted to E. L. Chance, the last church clerk, for preserving and furnishing us with these records.

The W. 0. Spencer home was the community center, the post office, the church house and the lodge for early travelers.

In 1854, Postmaster General Rusk, with a group of United States soldiers, visited this section of the state with the view of locating post offices where these were most needed. After lodging overnight in the Spencer home and learning that these settlers were travelling twenty or more miles for their mail he decided to locate a post office at this place.

How Liberty Hill Received Its Name

General Rusk asked Mr. Spencer to give him a name for the new post office . Mr. Spencer pondered the matter a few moments and replied: "This is a free country; we are at liberty to do as we please, and my house is on a hill ..."

General Rusk took his memorandum book from his vest pocket and wrote: "Liberty Hill Post Office, Williamson County, Texas, W. 0. Spencer, Post master."

After a few months Mr. Spencer received his official appointment as postmaster at Liberty Hill, Texas. The mail came weekly from Round Rock; the postman rode horseback and carried the mail in his saddlebags. Later a stage coach drawn by four horses was furnished the mail carrier and travelers paying a small fee were allowed transportation. This was a great convenience for this thinly populated country.

When the Baptist Church was organized, it was called the "Liberty Hill Missionary Baptist Church of Christ."

I am indebted to Mrs. Lizzie Spencer Hurley, daughter of Mr. W. 0. Spencer, for this information, for the list of the names of pastors serving the church prior to 1869, and other valuable data regarding the early years of this church.

The church and post office were located four miles west of the present site of Liberty Hill, on the Austin-Burnet road, now known as State Highway No. 29.

Following is a list of the membership, just as it is recorded in the constitution of the above-named church:

Male Members
John Russell, Deacon
T. P. Pool
B. F. Johnson
T. K. Wood
W. D. Wood
J. M. Spencer
Pleasant Queen
D. W. Thornton
W. W. Queen

Female Members
Nancy Russell
M. C. Spencer
Biddie C. Dycus
Elvina Ray
Ann E. Spencer
W. H. Thornton
Martha Queen
Elizabeth Queen
Judith M. Bryson
Mollie J. Thomas
M. E. Chamberlain
L. Myrack
Elizabeth Johnson
Nannie E. Wood

These people. for the most part, had recently moved to Texas from the Carolinas to establish a new home.

The church building was not constructed until 1870 or 1871. Rev. W. 0. Spencer donated the ground for the church.

John Russell, F. M. Barton and T. P. Poole made up the building committee.

The house was built of native rock, quarried by members of the church. The timber used was hauled by ox-teams from Bastrop, a distance of sixty-four miles. All work was donated by members and friends, except that of one stone mason.

The building was also planned to be used for school purposes, and the people of other faiths were liberal with their donations and labor. John Covington Parks, an elder in the Presbyterian Church, and his wife Rebecca gave freely of their time, labor and devotion.

Pastors serving prior to 1867 were Revs. Talky. Bacon, Grammar, Forbes and H. M. Burroughs. Those serving after 1876 were as follows:

D. D. Roach
T. A. Roach
G. G. Andrews
J. A. Arbuckle
D. D. Foreman
E. McDaniel
J. E. Hamilton
D. L. Hamilton
W. C. Garrett
J. E. Bell

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Rev and Mrs. D.L. Hamilton with son Luther

After 1907 the church did not have the services of a regular pastor. The pulpit was often filled by pastors of the First Baptist Church or by associational missionaries.

The church continued to function until June 12, 1910, when in conference it disbanded. Rev. W. R. Hornburg, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Liberty Hill, moderator, and E. L. Chance, church clerk. The trustees of the church were given power to deed all church property to the trustees of the First Baptist Church of Liberty Hill which was shortly done. Four years later, the old building was sold to F. E. Parks; the structure was wrecked and the material removed from the site. Two business houses in Liberty Hill were constructed from the rock in the old church. Thus, one of the oldest landmarks of this section of the state ceased to exist.

During the nearly half century that this old church functioned it enrolled more than two hundred members, most of whom it baptized. Deacons were ordained as demands arose. It ordained the following ministers: T. A. Roach, J. A. Arbuckle and W. H. Albertson, all of whom it had also received into the church and baptized. Rev. Roach and Rev. Arbuckle later served as pastors.

Items of Interest Gathered From Various Sources Dr. George W. Truett visited and preached to this church during his early ministry.

The Austin Association met with the Liberty Hill Baptist Church of Christ as early as 1870 or 1871. Delegates and local members alike brought tents and camped from Thursday until the following Monday morning.

The annual camp meeting was held in August or September. Often there were fifty or sixty tents on the grounds.

Literature for Sunday School consisted of Catechisms for the children and Bibles used exclusively for older members.

Sunday School usually met in the afternoon. It was difficult to keep the Sunday School going, as preaching services were held only once or twice a month.

Early Impressions
My first impressions of public worship were received in this church. I recall distinctly some of the early pastors; I know just how they looked; I can yet hear them read two lines of the hymn—after which the congregation would sing—read two more lines and the congregation would sing again. The pastor and one or two of the best singers had a book: There were no notes in the hymnbooks—they were simply marked "long meter," "short meter," or "common meter."

They must have sung the following hymns at every service:


I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord
I love Thy Kingdom, Lord,
The house of Thine abode,
The Church Our Blest Redeemer saved With His own precious blood.
I love Thy Church, 0 God; Her walls before Thee stand, Dear as the apple of Thine eye, And graven on Thy hand.
For her my tears shall fall;
For her my prayers ascend;
To her my cares and toils be given, Till toils and cares shall end.
Beyond my highest joy
I prize her heavenly ways
Her sweet communion, solemn vows, My hymns of love and praise.
My Soul, Be on Thy Guard
My soul, be on thy guard;
Ten thousand foes arise;
The hosts of sin are pressing hard To draw thee from the skies.
0 watch, and fight, and pray;




The battle ne'er give o'er; Renew it boldly every day, And help divine implore.
Ne'er think the victory won,
Nor lay thine armor down;
The work of faith will not be done Till thou obtain the crown.
Fight on, my soul, till death
Shall bring thee to thy God;
He'll take thee, at thy parting breath To His divine abode.
Some others were From Greenland's Icy Mountains, In the Sweet By-and-By, Oh, How I Love Jesus and How Firm a Foundation.
I wish I might hear those old hymns sung today just as these dear old saints sang them more than half a century ago.
After singing these hymns, the Scripture was read, then, saint and sinner, old and young alike, knelt for prayer. I do not recall one word of Scripture read, one thing prayed for, nor a thought gained from the sermons, but the solemnity of worship was indelibly imprinted upon my mind.



Copy of
First Minutes
Recorded in 1876
Liberty Hill Missionary Baptist Church of Christ, Williamson County, Texas. October 21, 1876.

The church met for the purpose of holding a meeting. On motion, Elder McDaniel was requested to occupy the stand, which was complied with, by said Bro., delivering an able and interesting sermon. After which, the church was called to order in conference.
1st. Visiting members from sister churches were invited to seats with us to assist us in our deliberations.
2nd. An opportunity was given for the reception of members.
3rd. Minutes of last conference called for, read, amended and adopted.
4th. References called for, the question of the election of Pastor was taken up, and on motion
was deferred until after the 11 o'clock services tomorrow.
5th. On motion, Bro. H. M. Burroughs' resignation as pastor of this church was called to be read after the 11 o'clock services on tomorrow.
6th. On motion, conference adjourned to meet at early candlelight tonight.

D. D. Roach, Mod. Pro-tem
Attest: T. C. Barton, Church Clerk Extracts Copied from Minutes
June 20, 1880
All members of the church and others who desired it were requested to meet at this house to organize a Sabbath School, under the fostering care of this church.
T. A. Roach, Moderator
J. G. Ward, Church Clerk
July 14, 1877
Letter to Association read. Following messengers were elected: Elders D. D. Roach, T. A. Roach and W. 0. Spencer; Alternates F. M. Barton, M. Arbuckle and John Russell. Austin Association was invited to hold its session of 1878 with said church. $2.00 sent for associational minutes.

The minutes recorded many instances of the church disciplining its members for unchristian conduct or neglect of duty.

The minutes from 1876 to 1910 show that the church was strict in business, loyal to Christian duties and faithful to her obligations.

On October 10, 1882 this church granted twenty-eight of her members letters to become charter members of the First Baptist Church of Liberty Hill. Of that number Mrs. Nancy Margaret (Barton) Heffner, of Georgetown, is the only surviving member.

"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them, to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
Matt. 28: 18-20

**

Biographical History 1893 of William Oliver Spencer

 

William Oliver Spencer, a  successful farmer of Williamson  county, is a son of William and Rachel (Brooks) Spencer. The grandfather of our subject, Moses Spencer, was born and raised in New York, and after marriage located on a farm near Albany. His land was taken from him, however, by Van Rensselaer, who obtained a grant from the British Government, and he lost his entire possessions.

 

With a family consisting of a wife and one child, the father of our subject, he then emigrated to Pendleton District, South Carolina, where he remained until after the Revolutionary war, in which he served as a private soldier during the entire struggle. Late in the last century the family located in Barren County, Kentucky, where William Spencer grew to manhood, having been born in 1771.

 

He was married there to Lorania Snow, and they had three children, all of whom are now deceased. The wife also died. The father then moved to Illinois, locating near the Indiana line, where he married the mother of our subject, a lady of Irish birth. The family continued to reside in Illinois until 1861, when the mother died, and the children having married and left home, the father went to live with a daughter in Iowa.. He died there in 1857. Mr. and Mrs. Spencer were the

 

parents of seven children: Betsy, deceased; William O., our subject; Jane A., John M., James B. and Rachel, deceased; and Thomas C., a resident of Livingston county, Illinois. Mr. Spencer was a farmer by occupation, a Whig in politics, a Baptist in religious faith, and was a prominent man in his community. He served many years as a Justice of the Peace. During the war of 1812 he lived on the Wabash river, and by personal request of General Harrison, then Governor of Indiana, remained at home and took charge of the mills of that section.

 

William Oliver Spencer, the subject of this sketch, was born in the then Territory of Illinois, in what is now Lawrence county, September 2, 1810. In 1824 he moved with his parents to Fulton county, west of Illinois river, where he grew to manhood, and was there married. From 1838 to 1851 the family resided in Washington county, near Fayette, Arkansas. In 1847 they came on a prospecting tour to Texas, remaining in Bastrop about one year, and in 1849 returned to Arkansas. In 1851 they sold their possessions in that State, and again came to Texas, remaining in Bastrop until after the wife's death. Mr. Spencer thon purchased 653 acres of land at his present location, three miles above the present site of Liberty Hill, and was one of the earliest settlers in this part of the county. For several years after locating here, Liberty Hill was without a post office. One day General Rusk, a prominent figure in early Texas history, camped a short distance from Spencer's home, with a body of rangers.

He was invited to supper at the 1atter's house, and after the meal Mr. Spencer stated his desire to have a post office located in this part of the county. As General Rusk was a member of Congress and Chairman of the Post Office Committee, be sat down and began writing a recommendation that an office be located here, aid that our subject should be the Postmaster.

Mr. Spencer was asked for a suitable name for the office, and, thinking of the free and easy character of the people, answered, "Call it Liberty Hill, General." Mr. Spencer held Post office several years, and then resigned the position in favor of the first merchant that located in this section.

Mr. Spencer was first married July 19, 1829, to Amy Wilcoxon. They bad twelve children, only four of whom grew to years of maturity, viz.: Eliza Ann, widow of J. T. Miller, and a resident of Austin; Emily, deceased; J. M., of Belton, Texas; and Ellen, wife of J. W. Owen, also of that county. The wife and mother died in Bastrop, January 12, 1853. In. 1854 our subject returned on a visit to Fulton county, Illinois, and was there married to Airs. Margaret Spencer, who was born in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, May 4, 1826, a daughter of William B. and Mary (Reagan) Smilie. On the maternal side, the family located in the latter county from Wales before the Revolutionary war. The Smilie family are of Irish descent, the great-grandfather of Mrs. Spencer, John Smilie, having emigrated to America from that country. He was one of the first settlers of Fayette county, Pennsylvania,  and while there was prominent in public affairs, having represented Pennsylvania in the United States Senate. The grandfather, Robert P. Smilie, passed his entire life in that county. Mr. and Mrs. William B. Smilie had seven children: Weldon R., of Woodford county, Illinois; Margaret C., wife of our subject; Robert P., of Liverpool, Fulton county, Illinois; Harriet, wife of C. A. Babcock; Norvel, deceased; and Norman and David H., of Stella, Nebraska. Margaret Smilie was first married in Fulton county, Illinois, where her father had moved his family in 1841, in 1844, to James B. Spencer, a younger brother of her present husband. They had four children: Theodore, of Lovelock,, Butte county, California; Ann E., wife of J. M. Spencer, of Belton, Texas; Harriot E., widow of Jeff J. Miller, who lives with her parents; and William A., of Liberty Hill. Mr. and Mrs. .William O. Spencer have also had four children: Perry, deceased; Oliver, of . Liberty Hill; Lizzie, wife of M. C. Hurley, of Ft. Worth, Texas; and Tact', now Mrs. J. M. Grant, also of that city.

 



 

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Liberty Hill Texas