The Presbyterian Churches in Washington County are members of the Presbytery of Washbourne, named in honor of the Rev. Cephas Washbourne (or Washburn), who was an early missionary to the Indian nations, and who was probably the first Presbyterian preacher to hold services in Washington County. The presbytery was first ordered by the Synod of Arkansas, convened at Pine Bluff, Ark., in 1883, and met on October 24, 1884, in the Presbyterian Church at Fayetteville. Rev. S. W. Davies, D. D., opened the meeting with a sermon from Numbers XI, 10-17. Those present were Rev. S. W. Davies, W. A. Sample, J. L. D. Houston and S. B. Ervin, and Ruling Elders O. C. Gray, of Fayetteville; M. G. Hearn, of Mount Zion; T. P. Allison, of Big Springs; J. D. Reinhardt, of Alma; J. C. Clift, of New Hope; J. F. Nolen, of Prosperity; S. W. Dinsmore, of Bentonville; J. A. Dibrell, of Van Buren, and John Smith, of Fort Smith. Revs. W. M. Crozier and D. C. Boggs were also among the number. Rev. W. A. Sample was chosen moderator.
The second meeting was held at Alma Church, April 16, 1885, and one was held with Bethel Church in October following.
Presbyterian influences gained an early foothold in Washington County, not only through Rev. Washbourne’s great labors, but they radiated also from the faculty of Miss Sawyer’s school at Fayetteville, although not so directly in ministerial work.
The Fayetteville Presbyterian Church dates its present organization from November 9, 1872, when a Presbyterial committee, composed of Rev. W. A. Sample, of Fort Smith, Ruling Elder A. W. Dinsmore, of Bentonville, assisted by Rev. D. C. Boggs, of the latter place, effected it. There had been services held here before the war, by Rev. Washbourne, in whose honor the presbytery is named, and among the members of this faith here at that time were Miss Lucretia Foster and Miss Mary T. Daniels, instructors in Miss Sophie Sawyer’s school; but the present church is the only complete organization, probably. The original members were Prior N. Lea, ruling elder; Mrs. Elizabeth Lea, Misses M. Lizzie, Laura J. and Emma Lea, Denton D. Stark, Mrs. M. C. Stark, H. M. Lyon, Mrs. Fannie Springer, Mrs. M. A. Harris, John Barnett, Mrs. Susan H. Barnett, Mrs. Mary T. Smith, Mrs. Lizzie Lattemore, Mrs. E. M. Cox and B. F. Cherry. In January, 1876, they completed and paid for a good frame church, costing $1,750, which is located on the corner of College Avenue and Spring Street. It was dedicated the following year, on February 18, by Rev. Dinsmore offering the dedicatory prayer and Rev. S. W. Davies, D. D., the pastor, reading a sketch of the organization. Rev. Davies has been their only regular pastor, and under his management the church has risen to a membership of eighty-three on the rolls, with the various societies connected with it in active operation.
The Springdale Presbyterian Church was organized May 1, 1882, at Springdale, by Rev. S. W. Davies, D.D., and Rev. J. L. D. Houston. Its first members under the organization were Elder and Mrs. A. G. Hill, Deacon and Mrs. J. G. Bratten, Deacon R. M. Huffmaster, Thomas M. Hill, Miss A. E. Hill, E. M. Bratten, Miss Belle Bratten, Miss M. F. Huffmaster, Mrs. A. A. Overton, James J. Fleming, Mrs. E. C. Fleming, Mrs. Cynthia Morgan, Mrs. Lavinia W. Phillips, Mrs. Emily Lichliter, Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Armstrong and Miss Mattie Armstrong. Their pastors have been the Presbyterial evangelists, Rev. J. L. D. Houston and Rev. A. W. Milster, the present pastor, under whose ministry their membership has reached twenty-three. They have a neat brick house of worship, which was built about 1883 at an estimated cost of $1,000.
The Big Spring Presbyterian Church was organized in October, 1880, at Big Spring, by the Revs. S. W. Davies, D. D., and D. C. Boggs and Ruling Elder O. C. Gray. The congregation began with the following sixteen members: Mr. and Mrs. T. P. Allison, Mr. and Mrs. R. O. Hannah, Mr. and Mrs. T. A. Hannah, Mr. and Mrs. A. V. Hannah, John Hannah, Miss Elizabeth Hannah, Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Skelton. The ruling elders were T. P. Allison and R. O. Hannah. Their church building is a neat frame structure, erected in 1881 at a cost of $500; and was dedicated during the following year by Rev. Dr. S. W. Davies, of Fayetteville. This is one of the congregations under the charge of the Presbyterial evangelist, Rev. A. W. Milster, who assumed his duties in 1888; his predecessor was Rev. J. L. D. Houston, whose ministry in the same office dated from 1880. The membership of the church numbers twenty-three.
Prairie Grove, Boonsboro, Cincinnati and Viney Grove all have small congregations, but have never had any organization, if Cincinnati be excepted, which had a church there before the war, but which was among the large number of societies broken up during those chaotic days. These places are under the charge of the Presbyterial evangelist, Rev. A. W. Milster, of Fayetteville, who holds services at each place at regular intervals.
Back to: Washington County, Arkansas History
Source: History of Benton, Washington, Carroll, Madison, Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian Counties, Arkansas. Chicago, IL, USA: Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.