John Franklin McLendon and Josephine Holmes

(This information was provided by Paul Jauch, great-grandson of Rev. John Franklin McLendon and Josephine Holmes. Mr. Jauch has done extensive family research. This story was written by Jesse Heath McLendon.)

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My grandfather John Franklin McLendon was born July 28, 1839 in Louisville, Barbour County, Alabama. My grandmother Josephine Holmes was born November 14, 1846 in Dale County, Alabama. They were married on December 17, 1863 when he was 24 and she 17. He had blue eyes, freckled [face] and red hair, the prominent McLendon physical characteristics. She was of French descent.

I know little about the parents of my grandmother Josephine Holmes. Her father was Henry Holmes. My father, Henry Martin McLendon, was named Henry for him and Martin for my great-grandfather Martin Maxwell McLendon. Her mother was Martha Andrews.

My grandfather John Franklin McLendon joined the Baptist Church at age 14. At about this time he resolved to become a Baptist minister. He preached his first sermon when 16 and continued t preach for the remainder of his life. During the War between the States he served as Chaplin in the Confederacy.

In November, 1868, when he was 29, he moved his then young family from Alabama to Antioch and later to Clayton, Texas. He was accompanied by two brothers, Loami Grandberry McLendon and Ben Holmes and their families. My father was only six weeks old when they moved. The family consisted of my grandfather and grandmother, my father and his two older sisters, Florence McLendon and Ida McLendon. The trip was made by boat down the Mississippi and by wagons to Antioch.

In Clayton, my grandfather and grandmother purchased a farm which was their family home for many years. Here they reared ten children, seven girls and three boys. They had twelve children but two of the boys died when they were young. In the atmosphere of this home, they gave their children an education better than average of the time. On the farm they grew cotton and most of the food needed for their family. In their early years on the farm, Shreveport, Louisiana was their nearest market center. The distance was some sixty miles and they made the trip by wagon.

In addition to managing his farm, my grandfather served as a Circuit Baptist preacher for the surrounding area. He organized most of the Baptist churches in Panola and Rusk counties and served as their pastor for a number of years. He also helped to organize the Baptist Colleges of East Texas. For 28 years, he was Moderator of Mount Zion Association.

Grandmother Holmes died on July 6, 1901 at the age of 54 at Rosborough Springs, Texas. She is buried in the cemetery at Clayton, Texas which adjoins the Bethel Baptist Church.

After the death of grandmother Holmes, my grandfather married Mary Catherine Wills. She lived a number of years after he passed away. The family expressed their esteem for her in these words: "Mary Catherine Wills McLendon was beloved for her aid to her husband and her devoted upbringing of the younger children." Grandfather McLendon died on August 22, 1918 at age 79 at Clayton, Texas. He is buried with my grandmother Holmes.

I remember my grandfather John Franklin McLendon very well. When our mother died my sisters and I lived with him and our step grandmother until our father remarried. Later, when I was about 14, I would often spend the night with them. I recall conversations with him which, although I was young at the time, made lasting impressions upon me. To me, he was a stern, dignified, serious, extremely pious, and exceptionally well-informed man.

For many years our McLendon family had an annual reunion in honor of the grandfather John Franklin McLendon and grandmother Josephine Holmes. The reunion was held on my grandfather's birthday, July 18. Except for the first it was held at Clayton, Texas in the bethel Baptist Church which he had served as pastor for many years. The first reunion was held on July 28, 1909 issue of The Baptist Echo:

McLendon Family Reunion

On July 28th the children and a part of the grandchildren, together with a few old friends of the esteemed friend and brother, Reverend J. F. McLendon, met at his residence in Laneville to celebrate his 70th birthday.

Brother McLendon was born July 28, 1839 at Louisville, Barbour County, Alabama. He united with Bethlehem Baptist Church at the age of 14, was ordained to preach November 3, 1860. He was married to Miss Josephine Holmes, December 17, 1863. To this union were born twelve children, ten of whom are still living, as follows:

Mrs. J. R. Martin, Waelder, Texas
Mrs. Robert Hairston, Timpson, Texas
Mr. H. M. McLendon, Cushing, Texas
Mrs. G. H. Turner, Garrison, Texas
Mr. W. L. McLendon, Clayton, Texas
Mrs. g. E. Hairston, Timpson, Texas
Mr. B. H. McLendon, Cushing, Texas
Mrs. J. J. Carmichael, Laneville, Texas
Miss Mina McClendon, Laneville, Texas
Miss Mina McLendon, Laneville, Texas
Mrs. C. E. Summers, Cushing, Texas

His first wife died July 6, 1901, and on July 3, 1902 he was married again to Mrs. M. C. Wills of Fair Play, Texas.

Brother McLendon has preached continuously since he was ordained, having preached eight years in Alabama and in 1868 moved to Texas, where he began preaching at once and has continued in the pastorate for forty-one years. All of which work has been confined to Rusk and Panola Counties in the old Mt. Zion Association. Has been blessed with some long pastorates, having preached twenty-five years at Clayton, seventeen at Zion Hill, seventeen at Antioch, with at Carthage and at a number of other churches from two to ten years. During his ministry he has baptized approximately two-thousand persons. He, assisted by his faithful and devoted wife and his sweet, Christian daughter, Miss Mina, bid fair to accomplish much more the the Master's cause.

This reunion was indeed a happy meeting for it was the first time had had ever had the pleasure of seeing all his children together, and although the weather was extremely war, all seemed perfectly happy. It was a  complete reunion since all ten of his children together with his step-son Mr. W. O. Wills and his family of Fairplay, Texas were present. All were gathered at an early hour, and the morning was spent in conversation together and in preparation of the feast, which is always an important factor on such an occasion. The dinner was indeed a success. In the afternoon quite a number of young people were invited to help make merry this happy birthday. All came with light hearts and joined heartily into al the pleasure of this day, after which they were ushered into the dining room where refreshments were served. It was with regret that the time cam for our departure. It always seems that our pleasures are on wings, since they glide by so quickly, leaving only a sweet remembrance behind.

We trust that this good man may again spend such a day on the anniversary of his birth, but if it is the will of our Heavenly Father for them to never again be present at a family reunion on earth, they are looking forward to that happier, greater reunion by and by that will last throughout eternity.

The following is an exact copy of the original minutes of the organization of Bethel Baptist Church of Clayton, Texas. The original minutes are still in possession of the church. My grandfather John Franklin McLendon was pastor of this church for twenty-five years.

Republic of Texas, Harrison County
At Elder Issaac Reeds Dwelling house.

On Satterdy before the 4th lords day in September, 1843, we members of the united baptist order beeing met together in the feair of do, for purpose of Constitution the Church bethel and cald on Elders Isaac Reed and Lemuel Herrin as a presbathey, cald on Abner herrin as secretary and Clerk protem. The Church Covenet being Red and approved, Artickels of faith being red and Approved, and We whose names or under asigned ware pronounced by the presbathey the Church bethel we then opened a door for the Reception of members, Recved elder Isaad Reed by letter in to our fellowship, Recvd Elder Lemuel Herrin by letter In to our fellowship then concluded by prair.

Elder Isaac Reed                        Isaac Reed
Elder Lemuel Herrin                    Elizabeth Reed
henry Awalt                                Mary Herrin
John R. Hartsfield                       Amanda Reed
William Herrin                            Elizabeth Scrugs
John Moris                                 Elisabeth Carbee
Isaac Moris                                Preville Reed
Edward Swet                             Juley an Carbee
Charls C Scruggs                       frances moris
Jeary Swet                                 Kezia Herrin
Abner herrin senier                     Karon happuch herrin
John Carksdal                            Sarah Allred
Abner Herrin Jr.   

Note: In September 1943, my Aunt Mina McLendon representing our McLendon family attended the one-hundred-year anniversary of Church Bethel. She addressed the assembly on our behalf.

Since so may of our McLendon family, as well as my mother's, the Heaths, lived and are buried in Clayton, Texas, its history compiled by the Membership of Panola County's Circulating Book Club follows:

Two years before Texas declared independence, Reverend Isaac Reed of Tennessee moved to Nacogdoches and began to visit among the earliest settlers and preach although forbidden to do so.

In 1835, before the organization of Panola County, he purchased a league of land located near the present town of Clayton, moving his family with married sons and daughters to the new home. Here they build log houses and cleared farms.

In 1838 Reverend Reed organized Old North Church near Nacogdoches, the oldest living Baptist Church in Texas. In 1834 Lemuel Herrin came to Texas from Camden, Tennessee. Reverend Reed and Herrin were the first two Baptist ministers in Texas.

On Saturday before the fourth Lord's Day in September, 1843, these two ministers organized the Old Bethel Church in Reed's home. The original minutes of this meeting are still in possession of the Bethel Baptist church in Clayton. They located this church on the old Shreveport and San Antonio road near Reverend Reed's home two miles northwest of the present own of Clayton.

The early pioneers of East and Southwest Texas hauled with ox-teams and wooden skein wagons, greased with pine pitch, lumber and other materials over this road as far southwest as San Antonio from the boat landings at Jefferson, Texas and Shreveport, Louisianna.

This old Baptist church was the second Baptist church organized in Texas. This church later was moved to the present site in Clayton where "Clayton Home Coming Day" is held. The negroes now have a church on the old site.

 Reverend Isaac Reed was killed by an Indian in 1848 and was buried on the old church ground. Aunt Lizzie Reed as she is affectionately called by the citizens of Clayton said, "Isaac made camp at Old Bethel and one afternoon when he returned an Indian was in his camp. As he went in the Indian ran out and hid in some bushes from where he shot an arrow through Isaac's breast. Although Isaac shot and killed the Indian, he did not live long after receiving his wound."

Sometime about 1845 Jacob Cariker came from Georgia and steeled in what is now know as Clayton. Among his negro slaves he had one most faithful named Clayborne. Mr. Cariker wanted to name the place Clayborne after his "Old Faithful" servant, but there was already one place in Texas by than name. He called the place Clayton. Other setters had come from Clayton, Alabama, and some believe the name was given by these settlers.

Mr. Cariker's home stood just back of the present home of Dr. Sterling L. Davis. He and his nephew cleared about fifty acres of land including the place where the Clayton school now stands, and built a twelve rail stake and rider fence around it. Later on he built a horse power gin near the east side of the school ground and just back of the present home of Mrs. Ethel E. Carmichael. By hard work he could gin two bales of cotton a day.

The first store in Clayton was owned by Please Fite who also had the first saloon. This building was just east of the present Bryan's store. The second store was owned by George Cariker, son of Jacob Cariker, and was located where Britton's store now stands. Later other stores were built by John Ash, Bud Allen and others. Still later stores were operated by J. W. Cariker, son of Jacob Cariker, Brown Ross, A. W. Davis, Sr., Joe Nelson and others.

Among the first school houses was one located between the town of Clayton and the present home of W. H. Latham. Hewn and split logs were used for seats.

About 1876 a Baptist College was located on the present school ground. A two-story building was erected but later abandoned.

Among the earlier settlers in Clayton who pioneered business, church and school life for those of late yesterday and today were: Reeds, Carikers, Fites, Satterwhites, Hayes, Waltons, Sheppards, Morrises, Blacks, Guinns, Halls, Heaths, Hewitts, Pages, Phillips, Longs, Ashs, McLendons, Jarells, Banks, Nelson, Hairstons, Davises, Dukes, Carmichaels, Mauritzens, Rosses and other perhaps whose names we have been unable to get.

Among the first preachers were: Reverends W. H. Hays, John Franklin McLendon, and J. B. Mauritzen. The first doctors were: Drs. Hall, Carlton, Lassiter and Deason.

Descendents of these pioneers are adding honor and worthy appreciation to their forefathers through various vocations including ministers, doctors, dentists, lawyers, and teachers. They are now scattered throughout the United States as well as the Lone Star State.

Clayton is one of the oldest organized towns in Panola County. In no place will there be found a populace that has a keener interest in the church, school and community life. The community, in a conservative manner, keeps apace in all enterprises for substantial growth. Some of the county's largest farmers and most independent farmers are found near this little town of Clayton.

 References:    My grandfather, Henry Martin McLendon, author of this story
                       My great-aunt, Mina McLendon
                       History of Panola County by Membership of the County's Circulating Book Club 1935 - 1936
                       My personal knowledge

hatsoff.gif (734 bytes) Hats Off! to Paul Jauch of Sunnyvale, California for providing this information as it was written by his uncle, Jesse Heath McLendon, who lived with his grandfather for some time before he joined the Navy in 1917.)


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