Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Elder William Brittain

At this time I cannot document that William Brittain pastored in Rusk County. But he was a leading minister in the first United Baptist association in East Texas -- the Sabine Baptist Association (org. 1843). Sabine is often designated the "first missionary Baptist assocation" in East Texas -- as opposed to the Union Association (org. 1840), which was the first Baptist association in East Texas and considered "anti-missionary". Brittain's first fellowship with Texas Baptists was in the Union Baptist Association.

Facts about Sabine Association -- (1) most of the "descendant" churches did eventually become missionary Baptist; (2) the name "United" is associated with these churches, though not included in the official name of the association; (3) the association seems to have initially included a very mixed bunch of Baptists concerning mission methods; (4) in 1848 the association declared "non-fellowship for the Missionary Baptists" and Masonic Lodges; and (5) in 1849, after a motion to disband, many of these Sabine Association churches united to form the Eastern Texas Association of United Baptists.

William Brittain, a son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Brittain, was born about 1772 in North Carolina and died 16 Sept. 1850 in Shelby County, Texas. He married Rosanna Wright about 1800. She was born about 1782 in Surry County, North Carolina and died 29 Oct. 1856, in Shelby County, Texas.
William and Rosanna moved from the Carolina to Arkansas. They moved to Texas in 1837. They are buried in the East Hamilton Cemetery in Shelby County.

"...Rev. William Britton may be regarded as typical of the abler ministers that served the churches in this section of the Yadkin Association before 1840...The records of the Flat Rock Church indicate that Britton was a man of recognized influence and ability when he was received to the membership by experience at the August meeting, 1809...Britton manifested his gifts at once, by gifts meaning the ability to speak in church meeting and lead in prayer."

Paschal then excerpts the church minutes: "It was unanimously agreed that Brother Britton should go on in the freer use of his gifts as a preacher at any time or place where it may please god to call him...It was then agreed that application be made to the next Association for privilege of ordaining Bro. Britton as a preacher." (Sept 1809) According to Paschal, the Flat Rock church ordained Brittain in May 1810, with ministers from Deep Creek, Bear Creek and Grassy Knob helping. William Brittain assisted as pastor of Flat Rock beginning about this time -- Pastor Wiliam Cook being incapacitated. He was officially called in 1812, after Cook's death, and continued until 1823. He pastored Easton's Church from 1816 to 1823. "The last record of him is found in the minutes of the Yadkin Association for 1824, at which he was appointed to preach on Sunday...[he was] moderator for five years, 1819-1823."

Summary of Brittain and Flat Rock Church in Yadkin County, NC (constituted 1783): Received August 1809; "tolerated [licensed] to go on in the exercise of his gifts" in Sept. 1809; Ordained May 1810; Pastored 1812-1823. [from pages 91, 98, 123, 125 and 387 in the "Baptist History Collection" CD edition (Baptist Standard Bearer) of History of North Carolina Baptists, Volume 2, George Washington Paschal]

William and Rosanna united with the
Pilgrim Church 8 September 1838. In 1841, John B. Roberts, William Brittain, Thomas Starr, Jeremiah F. White, John Wilkinson, Thomas (a black man), and Rosanna Brittain were constituted into church capacity by Daniel Parker's Pilgrim Church. The Brittains remained in fellowship with the Union Association until sometime probably between October 1844 and October 1845. The minutes of the fifth annual meeting of the Union Association, 11 Oct. 1845, record "We are informed by the Bethlehem Church that Elder William Britain is excluded from their fellowship, and retains his credentials."

Hamilton Baptist Church was established circa 1846 by Elder William Brittain and Asa Wright (evidently no relation to Rosanna) -- "We the united Baptist of regular Faith and order, have agreed to unite in a Church capacity...Asa Wright, William Brittain" [Hamilton Missionary Baptist Church, Book No. 2, Shelby County, Texas, compiled by George J. Brittain, Jr.] William Brittain served as moderator of the Sabine Association in 1847.

Note: genealogical info is a combination of various information found on the internet. The last name is spelled variously Brittain, Britten, Brittin, and Britton in different records. An interesting story connected with the Brittain family is the
"Poisoned wedding supper."

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