This is an oral history given by Nell Marshall, 79 years young, for the Cedar Grove Baptist Church Dedication Celebration. Her grandchildren, Randy and Holly Marshall and Lauren and Lexi Phillips, interviewed her. Her daughter, Diane Phillips transcribed the audiotape. A copy is available at the East Texas Oral History Archive located in the LaGrone Family History Center on N. Shelby St. in Carthage, Texas. This interview was conducted in April 2001.
• What are your earliest memories of Cedar Grove church?
My earliest memories of the church were in 1947. I went out to Mr. Carl's and Mrs. Emma's [Marshall] to do my washing. She was fixing lunch for the preachers as their revival had started that morning, and they also fixed supper for them. I wasn't a member at that time, but later moved my letter from Longbranch Missionary Baptist Church in 1948. Bro. Thompson was the pastor then.
• Do you know anything about its organization?
I did not at that time, but later I learned that it was organized in 1905 at Old Six Mile Church. They met there until 1911, and then they met in the Methodist Church until 1912. Then they built their own auditorium.
• When you first began attending, where was the church located?
The church was located at the same place that it is now. The building was only one big auditorium built in 1912.
• Which pastors do you recall? Any particular stories about any of them?
Bro. Thompson was the pastor in 1949, then Bro. R.C. Pemberton was our next pastor. Bro. J.C. Howell was our next pastor, and Bro. James Strickland, and Bro. Martin Strickland was our pastor until 1960. Bro. Don Stiles until 1962, and Bro. Wayne Sage was ordained in 1962. Bro. Bazer was our pastor until 1967.
Our present pastor, Freddy Mason, has been with us since 1967—will be 35 years in November. I had the pastors all out at my house for meals lots of times during revivals, and they loved to eat, except one.
Then there was the one that told me that if I could not keep my child from crying, to just get out of the church!! And there was another that preached the noon service and then he said, “I won't be back,” and walked out, but I loved them all.
• Did you teach Sunday school, sing in the choir, or participate in church activities?
I taught Sunday school. In fact, I taught Grady Bill [Wedgeworth], and that's why he's so good! We didn't have a choir then.
I was a church social leader for many years, also cleaned the church, and watched the flowers, and anything I could do around the church.
• What major changes have you seen in the church in your lifetime?
At first we added two Sunday school rooms to the auditorium at the back, then we added two more in front. Then we put a baptistery and fellowship hall on the back of the auditorium. We then made the fellowship hall into Sunday school rooms. Then in 1997, we built our new fellowship hall. Then in 1999, we gave our sanctuary to a black church to be moved, and they are really enjoying it. By 2000 we had our new sanctuary and fellowship hall completed.
• Do you remember when there was no air-conditioning in church? How did you keep cool? How was the church heated in the winter?
We had window fans and hand fans and opened the windows. And we had a big wooden heater for heat and then later we got butane, and now we have Gary gas.
• What kind of church socials did you have back then?
We had Christmas parties. We had W.M.U. We had hayrides. We had Halloween parties. At the Christmas parties Bubba Clinton would dress up like Santa Claus and give candy and fruit to the children. We also drew names and exchanged gifts.
• Did people feel obligated to invite the preacher home for Sunday dinner?
Back then we had the preachers for lunch, and sometimes all during the weekend.
• How often did you have revivals? Did a lot of people come? Were many people saved, and how are revivals different from now?
We would have revivals in the spring and summer. Yes, lots of people came, and lots were saved.
• What was your own baptism like?
I was baptized in Mr. Worley's pond in Longbranch. There was seventeen of us that day, and it was at a revival. Bro. Walder was the preacher [at Longbranch]. I was thirteen years old, so that's been a long time.
• Was there church summer camp for kids or Bible School?
There were summer camps, but we didn't go. And a few Vacation Bible schools.
• How has the church attire changed in your lifetime?
Yes, it was a lot more dressy. They wore hats, gloves, and long dresses.
• If you could bring back any one element about church from the good old days, what would it be?
• When you think of Cedar Grove church, what one word immediately comes to mind?