A Sketch History of the Primitive Baptists
in the State of Arkansas

The State of Arkansas was admitted as the 36th state in the Union, in 1836.

One source says that the first Baptist preacher to preach in Arkansas was Elder George Gill, who came from Kentucky, and preached in the territory in 1814, near the White River where Mt. Olive was later.

Elders Benjamin Clark and Jesse James, and others, organized Salem Church, near Pocahontas (in what is now Randolph County), Arkansas, in 1818, according to minutes of the Bethel Association (of Missouri) for that year. Salem Church is believed to have been the first Baptist Church organized in Arkansas territory.

The Spring River Association was the first association organized in Arkansas. It was organized in 1829 with four churches, viz., Spring River, New Hope, Richland, and Little Northfork, by Elders J. Williams, S. Frost, M. Baily, and William Street. It continued until 1840 when it was dissolved.

The Washington Association was organized in 1833. The Primitive Baptist Churches in the northern part of the state (north of the Arkansas River and west of the White River) first united with the Washington Association. Elder James Brewton was the first moderator and J. E. Mayfield was the first clerk.

In 1840, several churches were dismissed from the Washington Association to organize the Salem Association.

The South Arkansas Association was organized in 1841, and a sketch history was published in the centennial minutes of 1941.

David Benedict, the Missionary Baptist historian, says that in the early days the anti-mission (Primitive) Baptists pretty much had their way in Arkansas.

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