Huerfano County, Colorado
Bethel Baptist Church

Contributed by Karen Mitchell
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The second Primitive Baptist Church in Colorado territory was called Bethel. It was organized at Gardner, in Huerfano Co., evidently late in 1873, or in early 1874.

Bethel Church, at Gardner, took part in the formation of a Union Meeting in the month of September 1874, with Antioch Church. Elder James Dean moved from Green Horn to Gardner, in 1874. Elder J. T. Clank was also a member of Bethel Church.

Surnames of members: Clank, Hillbern, Miller (very incomplete list due to loss of records).

First Primitive Baptist Union Meeting in Colorado "Gardner, Huerfano Co., Col., Jan. 15, 1875. Much beloved Brother Goodson, and Fellow Laborers in the vineyard of the blessed Lord: I send you for publication the minutes of a Convention to take measures to organize a yearly Union meeting; the same is submitted to your judgment, and if it will not crowd out matter of more importance, you may give it a place in your valuable paper, the Messenger of Peace. In pursuance of a previous arrangement, the delegates from Antioch and Bethel churches of Regular Baptists, met in Convention with Bethel Church at the house of Brother G. E. Miller, Jr., in Huerfano Co., Colorado territory, on Friday, the 18th of September, 1874. There being a quorum of delegates present, they proceeded to business. Delegates from Antioch, Elders T. R. Rule, J. Dean, and Wm. B. Williams, Fremont County, Colorado; from Bethel, Elder J. T. Clank, and Bros. G. E. Miller, Jr., G. E. Miller, Sen., T. H. Dawson, I. D. Hillbern.

After organizing, proceeded to the choice of a moderator and clerk, by ballot; Elder Rule chosen moderator; Wm. B. Williams, clerk; Elder Rule chosen, and preached an introductory sermon, on Saturday, from Ephesians, 2nd chapter, 19th verse.

The next yearly meeting to be held with Antioch Church, to commence on Friday before the first Sunday in June, 1875. Elder Dean to preach the next introductory sermon, Elder Rule his alternate. Elder Dean to prepare a Circular Letter to be read at the next meeting. The moderator appointed brother G. E. Miller, Sen., and G. E. Miller, Jr., T. H. Dawson, and Wm. B. Williams, a committee to arrange the preaching for Sunday." - Messenger of Peace, Vol. 1, p. 100.

Early Primitive Baptist Ministers in Colorado Elders James Dean, Thomas E. Rule, and J. T. Clank were probably the first Primitive Baptist ministers to preach in Colorado territory. Elder Samuel J. Lackey, of Virginia, lived in Colorado during the latter part of his life, and died there on October 4, 1884, but nothing is known of his labors in Colorado. Elders J. J. Rowland, John Lovitt, William C. Perdue, and F. M. Watenberger, J. H. Hardy, and D. B. Nowels all arrived in Colorado around the turn of the present century, as shown below.

Elder J. J. Rowland was born in Morgan County, Illinois, and united with the church in that state. He later moved to Iowa, and was a member and pastor of Cedar Creek Church at Highland Center, Iowa, before moving to Santa Fe, Kansas.

Elder William C. Perdue was born in Franklin Co., Va., May 29, 1849, and died June 24, 1930, at Lamar, Colorado. June 3, 1875, he obtained a hope in the Lord Jesus Christ and united with Bethel Primitive Baptist Church of Franklin Co., Va., in August of the same year. In 1883 he left Virginia, locating in Cass County Mo. He moved to Colorado in November 1886. On November 14, 1897, he was ordained, at New Hope Church, in Ray Co., Mo., and soon afterward he organized Bethel Church at Lamar, Colorado.

Elder D. W. Owens, of Hersman, Illinois, went to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1899, for his health. He wrote back to his home church in Illinois, as follows: "Since I last wrote you, we have been reasonably well. I was blessed with the privilege of visiting the members of Bethel Church, (the only organized church of Primitive Baptists that I know of in Colorado) the fourth Sunday in December 1899. This was the time of their regular meeting, and I did not think best to write that I was going, lest I should disappoint them. However, for local reasons, the meeting had been postponed until the fifth Sunday; and Elder Perdue had gone one hundred and thirty miles away, into Kansas, to attend a meeting. The members were overjoyed to meet me, and I tried to preach for them Sunday and Sunday night. Many of them had not heard any Primitive Baptist preacher, except Elder Perdue (of whom they speak in the highest terms of praise,) and Elder Rowland (on two occasions,) for fifteen years. All joined in urging me to return, which I shall do (D. V.) when spring comes."

Elder J. H. Hardy was born near Greensburg, Mo., November 15, 1875. He was married to Sue Wheeler, July 13, 1897. Elder Hardy graduated from the American School of Osteopathy at Kirksville, Mo., in 1898, and in 1901 he located at Lamar, Colo., where he united with the Bethel Primitive Baptist Church in November 1902. Sister Hardy united with the same church in July 1903.

Elder D. B. Nowels was born March 5, 1856, in a log cabin near Rensselaer, Indiana. He married Sarah Burk in 1879, and they united with the Primitive Baptist church in Indiana. They moved to Lamar, Colorado, in 1900. Elder Nowels was ordained in 1904, by a presbytery consisting of Elders W. C. Perdue and J. J. Rowland, and brethren J. H. Hardy and G. W. Fetter. He also served Providence Church near Hatton, Kansas, as pastor for several years.

Reference: A Sketch of Early Primitive Baptist History in Colorado

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