A History of the First Baptist Church of Holland
Compiled by Jay R. Thomas
Many years ago in the small communities of our land, it was common for the different Christian denominations to share a house of worship because there were not enough people to support separate congregations. Each denomination would usually take one Saturday or Sunday of each month and hold their respective denominational worship service. Sunday Schools were typically organized after a model known as a “Union School.” Sunday School would be held every Sunday with members of all denominations who shared the building meeting together or in “union” with all the others. This was the condition in Holland during the late 1800’s with all denominations meeting in union with one another in a church building known as “the Carmeline Presbyterian church house.”
A man by the name of Wilkerson, who had been excluded for an unknown offense from the Post Oak Baptist Church a few miles to the north of Holland, came to Holland to organize a Baptist church in 1882. Though successful in establishing a congregation in the Carmeline Presbyterian church house, the organization was considered illegal because no one could be received as a member of a Baptist church who had been excluded from another Baptist church until he or she was first reinstated by the excluding church. Mr. Wilkerson would not make any concession to the Post Oak Baptist Church nor ask their forgiveness. Therefore, he remained excluded which made the organization of the “first” Baptist church in Holland illegal according to the church governance of the day. This first organization was called the Holland Baptist Church.
In the early part of 1889, about fifteen Baptists in Holland (participants in the Holland Baptist Church) determined to have a “legal” church and a building of their own. In February of that year they made out their bylaws, constitution, and articles faith. By March they were holding services once a month, though we have no record of where these services were held.
A few years prior to 1889 Reverend Jeremiah Mickle arrived in Holland to do ministerial work from Goldthwaite where he helped to start the First Baptist Church of Goldthwaite. Upon his arrival he was called to serve as pastor of two congregations—the Dyers Creek Baptist Church (located 3 miles west of Holland) and the Holland Baptist Church. Each congregation met one Sunday per month. Reverend Mickle had been a Union soldier during the Civil War and as a result of a battle injury had his left arm amputated below the elbow.
The newly organized “legal” church at Holland began to seek him as their pastor, but he initially declined their offer because he was pastor of the other organization in Holland. In the meantime, according to documents obtained from the Bell County Courthouse the new church secured a lot in the city of Holland and made preparations for a building. The property was purchased for the amount of $100.00 on November 28, 1889. Interestingly, the name of the church included in courthouse records was said to be the Second Baptist Church of Holland.
About the first of June of 1889 Reverend Mickle recalled that the church “plead so hard with him . . . that [he] consented to take the work.” According to Reverend Mickle’s account of his calling to his new church they “went in with our coats off, sleeves up and ready for business and took the name of the First Baptist Church of Holland because there was no one around who considered the old Baptist church of Holland a legal Baptist church.” (pg. 69) Charter members were Mr. and Mrs. T.A. Upshaw, Miss Mollie Upshaw, Miss Sallie Upshaw, Jeremiah Mickle, Harriet Mickle (Reverend Mickle’s wife), Billie Mickle, Susie Mickle, Miss Betty Taylor, and a few others whose names were not recorded.
Work had begun on the church building and about the second week in July of 1889 it was enclosed and temporary seating installed. About the last week of July, a four week revival was held in the 30 x 46 foot building. At the end of the revival, membership climbed from fifteen to eighty with many of the new members coming from Post Oak and Dyers Creek Baptist churches. Services began to be held twice a month with weekly prayer meetings and Sunday School, “which was strictly Baptist.”
Reverend Mickle noted in his memoirs that “in the latter part of October or the first of November 1891, the church house that we had succeeded in erecting was not yet completed.” Reverend Mickle was contemplating leaving Holland to return to the North and wanted to see the church completed and dedicated as his “last work.” The Baptist church at Belton donated the lead and oil to paint the building inside and out. Their greatest problem, however, was permanent seating for the church building.
Reverend Mickle said they “couldn’t raise money enough to seat it with opera chairs” as were popular in that day, but they did, however, learn of a church in Galveston that had recently installed opera chairs and had removed their old seats. They arranged to buy these seats which were “common [in] those days, straight back seats” for sixty-five dollars plus freight. They raised the money easily enough for the seats, but “it was a hard pinch when the seats came to raise the money to pay the freight as the freight was nearly as much as the seats cost.” So, the church borrowed the money to pay the freight and installed the seats. They could not afford to plaster the roof so they chose to “ceil with good boards.” And by the last of November 1891 the church was “enclosed, painted outside, ceiled inside and ready for the paint inside.” Work on the church concluded with Reverend Mickle painting the inside and personally having “grained the pews imitation of oak . . . and varnished.” Reverend Mickle recalls, “the bills that were still back [for the building] were provided for. Everything was straight and the house was completed.” So on December 8, 1891 the building was dedicated to the service of the Lord. Reverend Mickle resigned as pastor on that day and left the next day to do mission work in the state of Michigan. In Reverend Mickle’s memoir he stated that the day the building of the First Baptist Church of Holland was dedicated “was a great day . . . because [he] had made a success through the help of the Lord in establishing a church there upon a solid basis which the strongest, ablest minister in the county at Belton, N.V. Smith, said could not be done, and while he himself threw on the wet blankets all he could, he wasn’t able to stop it at all.”
His final worship sermon was preached at the First Baptist Church of Holland on that Sunday night December 8, 1891. Reverend Mickle recalled how “the house was filled to overflowing. After preaching an hour, [he] called the members forward . . . then [he] stepped down from the rostrum with them on the floor. [They] stood together and sang a hymn after which [they] all kneeled in prayer and [he] lead the prayer.” Reflecting on that experience, he stated, “I think I have never known in all my life an hour that was so full of joy of thanksgiving and of sorrow and regret as that was that we spent together in prayer.”
Copyright 2010 First Baptist Church of Holland