Fannin County, Texas

The Little Bethel Baptist Church in Ladonia was organized on the second Sunday in April 1912 which was April 14, 1912. It was established because travel was difficult and there was no church for African Americans in the rural area in southeast Fannin County. Charter members of the congregation were S. A. Morris, J. Johnson, E. Lomacks, Moses Nettles, O. S. Sims, John Fuller, E. V. Marshall, Rachel Lomacks, Mary Nettles, Anna Davis, Ople Pruitt, Dorothy Doss, Huston Davis, Sam Johnson, Larry Johnson, Lewis Johnson, Lewis Gilbert, Mary Lomacks, and Irine Thomas.


The Little Bethel Baptist church was started in a small community called Stall Cup, north of Ladonia. The church was moved to town by Deacon John Marshall to 213 Wilson Street. He saw the need to move the church to town because of the road conditions and some of the members had moved their membership to another church. Little Bethel church branched off from several of the other churches in town. There were several Black Churches in Ladonia, Mt. Pisgah Baptist, Wesley Chapel, Pleasant Grove CME, Mt. Zion Baptist, Palestine Baptist and Full Gospel Pentecost. Some of the members that joined Little Bethel were the Hervey family, Coleman family, Lane family, Hilburn family and Cook family. The church was moved to town about 1932. This information was given by one of the oldest members at the time. The church later burned to the ground. In 1935 Mrs. Delia Kimbrough who had left Ladonia moved returned. When she first moved back to Ladonia she united with Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church. After being there for about a year, Mrs. Kimbrough was unhappy with some of the members, so she with other members decided to purchase land to build their own church. In March of 1938, she, Mary Cook and Grady Jane Woods purchased a spot of land from Ms. Kimbrough’s nephew to rebuild the church.(3) According to the records at the Fannin County courthouse the piece of land was purchase for $5.00 from Tilford Higgins who had inherited the land from Henrietta Higgins.


The piece of land was located at 120 South Wilson and there the church was built. The church was given the name Little Bethel because Bethel means a place to worship found in the Old Testament of the Bible. This church was a wood frame building 30 by 40 feet. The two restrooms were outside. The pews were made of wooden boards. The building was painted white. 


Little Bethel Baptist Church joined the Northwestern District Association in 1938. In 1987 the church along with 32 other churches, formed the Northeastern District Association under the leadership of the Reverend Charlie Phillips. In 1990, the Progressive Northeastern District Association was organized, and Little Bethel Baptist Church be came a member of that association of which it is still a member.


A list of former pastors of the church include J. M. Sims, Albert Phillips, C. H. Johnson, W. H. Gray, L. M. Green, Rev. Kirkpatrick, J. L. Brown, Moses Westbrook, George Scales, Charlie Phillips, and present pastor, Rev. Cecil R. Jones, who came in 1992. In 1994 under Rev. Jones’ direction, Little Bethel Baptist Church joined the Fannin Baptist Association, setting up a dual alignment with both the Progressive Northeastern District Association and The Fannin Baptist Association. The church remains today in those two associations.


Under Pastor Jones leadership, plans were made, and in June, 1997, the erection of a new church building was begun with the help of the Hagerman Baptist Church Mission Group of Grayson County. The new building is all brick and faces Hwy 34 instead of Wilson Street. It is all electric, with running water, inside bathrooms, and new walkway. The pews were donated by Boyd Baptist church, and the pulpit was donated by Hagerman Baptist church in Grayson County. The new structure was completed in September 1997 and was dedicated on the first Sunday in October 1997. The late Reverend M. D. Blaylock, pastor of New Home Baptist Church, Bonham, Texas, gave the dedication message. At the request of Pastor Jones and the deacon staff, a quarter acre was purchased next door to the church for future growth.  


For many years, the church was made up mostly of women and children with only one male member. Pastor Jones began a Brotherhood fellowship and male attendance has grown. In January, 2004, Freddy Roberts and Wister Godbolt, Jr. were ordained and added to the board of deacons. In May, 2005, James Wilson was ordained and added, and Billy Crosby was added to the board in July, 2010. Under Pastor Jones, leadership, the church has grown numerically, financially, and above all, spiritually.


Little Bethel Baptist Church has served and continues to serve the needs of Ladonia and the surrounding area African American community, not only its members but also others in the community having many needs, spiritual and otherwise. Members of the congregation go forth and serve, mentoring and providing leadership within the Ladonia community and the area. They are the eyes that see human needs, the hands that heal those who are hurt, and the love and forgiveness that fosters a progressive community. Some of the services that Little Bethel offer the community are; at Christmas we do a food drive to help some needy families, such as if a family has lost their home to a fire, or some other disaster, or the main person that supports the family has lost their job. We also have a toy drive to help Santa Claus with the needy children. Our Mission society visits with the sick and shut-in in the community and visit with the single moms in the town. Just this summer with the dry weather a house caught fire and burnt close to several other homes in town, Little Bethel church opened its doors for the fire fighters to have a place to cool off as they fought the fire.


The Little Bethel Baptist Church congregation is grateful to the men and women who have put their all on the altar for the church. The congregation will strive to continue the legacy left for them and will continue to write a history for Little Bethel Baptist Church in hopes of leaving a legacy that the next generation will be as proud of, as this generation is proud of the Old Saints who laid the foundation for the church. To God be the glory for the great things He has done through this church during the past 100 years.

Deacon Freddie Roberts, Rev. Cecil Jones and Mrs. Clemiel Adams

Bethel Baptist Church members and members of the Fannin County Historical Commission

The historical marker for the Little Bethel Baptist Church was dedicated on October 12, 2013. Rev. Cecil Jones, pastor, gave the invocation; Deacon Freddie Roberts welcomed everyone; then Charlene Crosby recognized Mrs. Clemiel Adams, the oldest church member and Ladonia Mayor Jan Cooper.


Larry Standlee, chair of the marker program of the Fannin County Historical Commission, gave a short history and then with Ms. Charlene Crosby, unveiled the marker.  Rev. Jerry Christopher, representative of the Baptist churches in Fannin County gave the benediction.


Little Bethel Baptist Church in Ladonia was organized April 14, 1912, for African Americans in the rural area of southeast Fannin County. Charter members of the congregation were S. A. Morris, J. Johnson, E. Lomacks, Moses Nettles, O. S. Sims, John Fuller, E. V. Marshall, Rachel Lomacks, Mary Nettles, Anna Davis, Ople Pruitt, Dorothy Doss, Huston Davis, Sam Johnson, Larry Johnson, Lewis Johnson, Lewis Gilbert, Mary Lomacks, and Irine Thomas.

The Little Bethel Baptist church was started in a small community called Stall Cup, north of Ladonia and moved to town by Deacon John Marshall in 1932 mainly because of the road conditions. The church burned and in March of 1938 Mrs. Delia Kimbrough, who had returned to Ladonia, with Mary Cook and Grady Jane Woods purchased land to rebuild their own church. 

According to the records at the Fannin County Courthouse, the piece of land, located at 120 South Wilson, was purchased for $5 from Tilford Higgins who had inherited the land and there the church was built. The church was given the name Little Bethel because Bethel means a place to worship found in the Old Testament of the Bible. This church was a wood frame building 30 by 40 feet. The pews were made of wooden boards. The building was painted white.

Under the present pastor, Rev. Cecil R. Jones, in June 1997, the erection of a new church building began with the help of the Hagerman Baptist Church Mission Group of Grayson County and was dedicated on the first Sunday in October 1997.

Little Bethel Baptist Church has served and continues to serve the needs of Ladonia and the surrounding area African American community and others, serving any with needs, spiritual and otherwise.

Ms. Charlene Crosby states in their application: “The Little Bethel Baptist Church congregation is grateful to the men and women who have put their all on the altar for the church. The congregation will strive to continue the legacy left for them and will continue to write a history for Little Bethel Baptist Church in hopes of leaving a legacy that the next generation will be as proud of, as this generation is proud of the Old Saints who laid the foundation for the church.  To God be the glory for the great things He has done through this church during the past 100 years.”

Marker Text:


Little Bethel Baptist Church was established in the community of Stall Cup, outside of Ladonia, on April 14, 1912.  At that time, there was no nearby church for African Americans living in southeast Fannin County.  Around 1932, Deacon John Marshall moved Little Bethel to Ladonia because poor road conditions were affecting the Church's membership.  In 1938, several members purchased the current property and a church building was constructed to replace the previous structure that had burned down.  For 100 years, the Little Bethel Baptist Church has served, and continues to serve, Ladonia and surrounding communities with charity, leadership, and spiritual guidance.

Little Bethel Baptist Church, Ladonia