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Historical Marker Transcription:
Organized on Saturday before the 4th Lord's Day in September 1843 by Rev. Isaac Reed, a pioneer Baptist minister in his home two miles northwest. Moved to this spot in 1874.
The original minutes of organization are in the possession of this church.
Erected by the State of Texas 1936.
Reverend Isaac Reed was a pioneer preacher, establishing congregations in and around Nacogdoches, Texas, including the famed Old North Church in that city. Having arrived in Texas in 1834, two years prior to the Republic of Texas declaration of independence, these religious activities were illegal, all settlers in Texas being subjects of Spain, and later Mexico, thus required by law and bound by oath to adopt the Catholic faith.
Reed is often credited as being the first Baptist minister in Texas. He was killed by Indians in 1848 before the church moved to the present location. Rev. Reed is buried nearby in the former church location at Old Bethel Cemetery.
The original location was on the old wagon road stretching into Texas from river ports in Jefferson, Texas, and Shreveport, Louisiana. Early pioneers venturing into East and Southwest Texas used oxen to pull wooden skein wagons greased with pine pitch, lumber and other materials over the old wagon road as far southwest as San Antonio.
As paved highways replaced Indian traces and wagon roads of early Texas, the Bethel Baptist Church relocated in 1874 to the present site on Texas Highway 315.
Clayton Cemetery is well cared for. As the original cemetery has filled, a new section has opened to the north side of the entrance road leading into Bethel Baptist Church.