Family Histories of Coleman County, Texas

Life of John Crumpler Averitt
By Ray M. Sparks

From A History of Coleman County and Its People, 1985 
edited by Judia and Ralph Terry, and Vena Bob Gates - used by permission


(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 Organized

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 1870s, 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 1870s, 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. Lydston.

In there early 1880s, 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 death.

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, 1936.)
(transcribed by Pam Sanders, February 2006.)

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