History of Rehobeth Chapel

By Mrs. Eddie Hodge (Floy Crandall)

The definition of the word Rehobeth, a biblical name is "beautiful space surrounded by woods."  It apply describes the old sacred spot of Fannin County near the Hunt line, four miles west of Ladonia on Middle Sulphur.

Sunday, May 3, 1964, the Fannin County Historical Survey Committee presented a Historical medallion to the little octagolly shaped chapel built in 1888 with lumber from the original church which was erected in 1852.  This church was destroyed by a cyclone in 1888.

The old church record book kept by the Rambo family is still in good condition and gives in detail the organization of this Missionary Baptist Church on February 15, 1852.

The male charter members are listed separately from the females.  Males are: Decon Ansalem L. Terry, Julius C. White, M. White.  Females are: Christine White, Rebecca Stone, Nancy Carter, Elizabeth Carter, Elizabeth Davis, Henrietta Stone.  John Holmes was the early preacher.

The first settlers of this once thriving community were the Terry brothers from Jersey County, Illinois and Hardin County, Kentucky.  Ansalim L., born in 1800 in Virginia, and Andrew B., born in 1806.  They had married in Kentucky Rebecca and Margaret Waggonner, sisters from Kentucky.

These two brothers, with their families, followed their brother, David Waggonneer, and his bride, Sarah Rattan to Fannin County in 1842.  He had come in 1835-36 on his honeymoon to help fight for the independence of Texas.  After the war he took his league and labor (4605 acres of land) across North Sulphur and lived to old age there.

The families migrating from Illinois here in 1842 included two more Terry brothers, James F. and Robert N., the Rattans, Wileys, Woods and others.  As they passed through Clarksville, a note of their passing is found in the Northern Standard Newspaper of that date.  "There was a caravan of immigrants from Illinois going by in an endless parade." (It took several months to make the trip, so old times said.)

Ansalem Terry bought 640 acres of land adjoining now Rehobeth chapel on the west for $1,00 per acre from the original grantee in 1843 and lived there until he died in 1877.  His sons and daughters grew into manhood and womanhood and married into other pioneer families, the Gillispie, Nails, Henslee, Tiller, Waggonner, Crandall, and others.

The Masonic Lodge, now at Ladonia, was organized at Rehobeth in 1846.  It was designated Bethal Lodge #134.  it was moved to Ladonia in 1866.

An old deed in the possession of the writer, historian of Fannin County, gives this information:  "It is from Benjamin and Nancy Bourland, to the lodge, the Missionary Baptist Church and school at Rehobeth."  It is signed by Ansalem L. Terry, William Stone, David Partlow, Hampton Whatley, moderator, and Richard M. Pyle, Clerk.  It is dated January AD, 1855.  (Mrs. Hodge is the fifth generation descendent of A. L. Terry and Rebecca Waggoner Terry and has been attending the reunions all her life.

The annual reunions were begun in 1876, when James Hampton Whatley died.  He was the father of twelve children and his wife, Penelope survived him.  He made all of them promise him on his dying bed that they would be reunited each year here, where he had spent so many years in service to God and his fellow man.

On Sunday, May 3, 1964, many of his decendents were present.  One of them, W. B. Clements of Lubbock, read an excerpt from a sermon preached at the reunion in 1894 by the Rev. Joe Whatley, one of Rev. J. M. Whatley's sons.

There was a Whatley school house built northwest of Rehobeth later on the Ladonia to Wolfe City Road.

According to the minutes in the 112 year old secretary's book, being a church member in pioneer times meant more than just having the name on the register roll.  the following gives an idea how the moral conduct of each member was examined.  "R. J. Rambo, R. N. Terry, J. W. Rymer, J. J. Vaughn were a  pointed to investigate the conduct of members.

​October, 1881.  Brother J. R. Webb stated that he had been under the influence of intoxicating liquor and was very sorry and begged the church to forgive him. They did.

November 2, 1881.  Brethren Web and Clements had a difficulty - postponed.

1882.  Web and Clements still cannot agree to settle their difficulty.  B. B. Pyle was in some kind of trouble.  The same year a new pastor was selected.  Elder B. J. Smith and Elder Crain were to inform the old pastor that his services were no longer desired.  J. W. Whatley, moderator.  Pay for Brother B. J. Smith was settled on January, 1882.  it was $12.50 per trip and $372.00 paid in advance for the year.  Brother Sanders was withdrawn from fellowship for drunkeness and profanity.  James Smith and Sister Fannie Pyle were withdrawn from fellowship on charge of dancing.  Voted to build new church on site of old.  John Rymer, T. J. Spurlock, and J. M. Pyle to solicit funds for same.  Had a new pastor in August, 1883, Brother J. C. Price for $125 per year.

Heresy committee was appointed to wait on Brother Monroe Pyle, B. B. Pyle, and Haywood Mickman and J. R. Montgomery charged with disorderly conduct.

April, 1885.  Elder J. C. White, moderator.  J. T. Gillispie, Clerk, reported that Brother John Sanders was restored to full fellowship.

April, 1886.  Brother J. T. Gillispie was granted a license to preach.

August, 1886.  Fellowship was withdrawn from Elmer Jones for heresy.

March, 1887.  No preaching on account of inclement weather.  J. W. Whatley ordained.

April, 1887.  Revival meeting planned.  Must have seats completed, house fenced in, lamps provided, cistern cleaned out, and the cemetery cleaned off.

February 4, 1888.  A committee was appointed to locate the land line between Brother Foster and Tish Pyle.

A partial roll showing when members joined follows:

Lou Scott - 1878-

Mary Goodron - 1878

I. Al. Hall - 1883

M. J. Gillispie - 1883

Frances Wilhite - 1884

Margaret Blackwell - 1884

Lizzie Blackwell - 1884

Drucilla Harris - 1884

​Lizzie Rambo - 1885

Tiddle Spence - 1885

Mary Tallent - 1885

N. F. Kennedy - 1885

Emer Jones - 1885

Cora Doyle - 1885

M. S. Walker - 1885

Cora Hodges - 1885

L. J. Walker - 1885

Matilda Penn - 1885

Lan Pyles - 1885

E. J. Foster - 1885

Mahala, Lucy, Lou Greenway - 1887-1897

Mary and Meddie Wheeler - 1886

P. A. Smith - 1886

E. A. West - 1888

L. A. Fleming - 1888

T. I. Melton and Alice Melton - 1885-1887

Mary J. Wilcox - 1891

Martha Weeks - 1887

Martha and Lou Comer - 1889

Martha Rambo - 1895

Sarah Smith - 1890

S. P. Rambo - 1892

Eliza Butler - 1894

J. F. Jacobs - 1898

M. J. Cates, T. M. Richardson, Sue Welch - 1895

Vera and Fannie Terry - 1888

Nancy Thomas - 1901

Tennie and Maggie Graves - 1897

M. M. Starkey, I. D. Shadrick  - 1898

C. J. Gathright - 1897

D. M. Little and Lee Simpson, Minnie Green - 1900

Omie and Mertie Green - 1900

Minnie and Josie Tingle - 1908

Books closed in 1908.

Present at the 1964 reunion were descendents of many of these pioneer families who had lived in the Rehobeth Community in past time.  They were Mrs. Lee Morrow Little of Bonham and her brother Carl Little of Ladonia.  They are Whatley, Phyes, Gillispie descendants.  Mrs. Fannie Gilliam Farmer, who was born a short distance east of the chapel and heard the sermon preached by Rev. Joe Whatley in 1894.  Mrs. Frank Greenway was another who was present at that time.

Rehobeth had a good school as late as 1888 and Professor Verge Green was the teacher at that time according to a list of teachers of the county published in the Bonham Farmer's Review Newspaper at that date.  Jesse Green of Wolfe City is his son.  Richard Jesse Rambo was his family also.

The brothers James W. and Charles A. Fowler moved into this community in the early 1880's and have many descendents who have contributed much to the cultural life of Ladonia and Wolfe City.  Grady Fowler, the present president of the Rehobeth Assocation was superintendent of Ladonia schools for many years.  His sister, Mrs. Ernest (Ida) Alexander of Dallas is one of the most ardent supporters in the upkeep of the chapel and cemetery.  Elgin, the son of James W. Fowler of Ladonia is a faithful worker also.

The Runnions, Webbs, Merrills, Henslees, Holmes, Lights, Dunn, Stephens, James, and Griffiths are some more old timers buried there.

The cemetery has been kept like a lawn all the years.  The markers are in good condition and a strong fence surrounds it.  Since the May, 1964 reunion, a road has been graded and a bridge built on the south line so that people can get across to the old Terry Cemetery.  This has been cleaned off, a fence put around it and it is a beauty spot among stately old trees.  Most of graves were dug there before and during the Civil War.  No other place in Fannin County has contributed more worthwhile citizens to Texas than those who lived and labored in this once densely populated farming community.

Rehobeth Cemetery Chapel

Marker Text:

First house of worship in this part of Fannin County.  Place for camp meetings, burials, annual reunions since 1840  Chapel built in 1850 was ruined by tornado and rebuilt in 1885.

Location:  Take FM 34 west from Ladonia for 4.7 miles to Rehobeth Cemetery Road, then south for 1.3 miles to the cemetery.

The marker has sadly been vandalized and the old chapel is in poor condition.

Additional information is in Rehobeth, A Pioneer's Church and Cemetery.  Compiled and Published by Mrs. Frances Terry Ingmire.  2nd edition.  1976.

​More information on the cemetery is at the Fannin County GenWeb site.

Fannin County, Texas

History of Rehobeth Chapel

By Mrs. Eddie Hodge

Floy Crandall