(Images to be added)
(Following is an article from
a 1936 Coleman Newspaper)
Life of John Crumpler Averitt
Presided At Meeting Of Messengers At Time
Howard Payne College At Brownwood Was
The subject of this sketch was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, December
3, 1818, the son of Judge Averitt. His mother was a Miss Margaret
Autrey whose nephew perished with Travis in the Alamo. As a lad,
John Averitt helped his father in the lumber mill, making barrels for the
tar and turpentine industry of Wilmington. Another demand placed
upon the lumber mills was to supply boards for paving the roads as
the country was sandy and no cheaper pavement was obtainable in those days.
He united with the Baptist church in January 1835, and was ordained
as a minister February 2, 1842. He entered Wake Forest College, Wake
Forest, North Carolina, in 1846, receiving the A.B. degree in 1851, and
the A.M. in 1854. On December 18, 1851, he was married to Miss Helen
A. Crocker, the youngest daughter of Rev. Thomas Crocker and a personal
friend of Matthew T. Yates, the great missionary to China. In 1855,
J. C. Averitt moved to Tennessee and the next year to Texas, locating in
Tennessee Colony, Anderson Count. At various places in East Texas,
from 1857 to 1873, he pastured churches and taught in the Baptist associational
schools, being associated in this work with Dr. Henry L. Graves, father
of Mrs. T. J. White of Coleman. Mrs. Averitt taught music.
In the early 1870’s, Rev. Averitt settled in southern Brown county and
built the first house in those parts to have glass window panes.
During this time he pastured at Stephenville and other places. In
the late 1870’s, he lived some three miles west of the present town of
Valera, and kept the old Oak Vale post office and Stagecoach Inn.
This was prior to the coming of the railroad. Stages passed there
from Camp Colorado and Camp San Saba enroute to Fort Concho and Fort Chadbourne
and other points west.
The Coleman Baptist church was organized January 27, 1877, under the
leadership of Rev. J. C. Averitt who became the first pastor. Late
that same year, in December, he resigned, being followed by Rev. T. H.
In there early 1880’s, Rev. Averitt purchased an unimproved place a
mile or so south of the present site of Silver Valley. He improved
this land and made it his home for a number of years. While living
here he taught school several years and pastured the churches at Robinson
Peak, Camp Colorado, and Indian Creek in Brown County. His favorite
means of transportation to his appointments was on horseback. Many
times he rode through snow and cold to meet with his little band of members,
being paid largely in produce. Among his prized possessions was a
pair of woolen socks, knitted and given him by an elderly lady.
His wife died October 12, 1881, and was buried at Silver Valley.
Rev. A. R. Watson of Brownwood says; “One of the most beautiful poems
I ever read was one written by him as a tribute to his wife following her
On June 23, 1889, a group of Baptist messengers met at Indian Creek,
Brown county, to discuss the organization of a Baptist college. Rev.
J. C. Averitt was the moderator of this meeting. Howard Payne College
was the outgrowth of this meeting. J.C. Averitt was placed on the
list of the first board of trustees, but resigned in December when he moved
to Haydrick to accept work as pastor and missionary in the newly organized
county of Coke. He died of heart trouble December 12, 1895, at Robert
Lee, R. M. Cumbie Conducting the funeral.
The late Rev. R. M. Cumbie rated “as one of the most scholarly men that
Baptists had in the South, being versed in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.
His work all through the 53 years as a minister of the Lord Jesus was foundation
work.” Rev. A. R. Watson says; “As a graduate of Wake Forest
College, he was scholarly, yet modest and unobtrusive, while holding unswervingly
to what he believed to be right.”
(The above sketch is condensed from a longer biography being compiled
by the writer).
(Coleman Democrat-Voice, Coleman, Texas,
(transcribed by Pam Sanders,