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Terrell County Memorial Museum
First Baptist Church of Sanderson, built in 1927
First Baptist Church
Baptist work began in Sanderson in the 1890s with visits by missionaries. On January 10, 1900,
the Chapel Car Good Will made its way west to Sanderson to work with the railroad men and the few families that inhabited the small
town. Authorized and sent out by the Baptist General Convention of Texas, it was a passenger car outfitted as a church, complete with
pews, altar and organ. It had already established missions in Del Rio and Comstock.
On board were the Reverend
E. G. Townsend and his assistant T. Moffett. Townsend’s first wife had died in childbirth, but he brought along his new wife.
The Good Will was parked in the train yard between the roundhouse and depot and men and boys were encouraged to attend the meetings.
At the roundhouse, alone, 250 men were employed who worked around the clock, keeping the steam locomotives in good repair. There was
also a large crew of car knockers, men responsible for repairing the rail cars and providing routine maintenance. Add to that the
track maintenance crews, clerks, depot personnel, telegraphers, porters, depot restaurant workers and the train crews themselves...engineers,
brakemen, and conductors...there were upwards of 500 men working out of Sanderson. The public was not discouraged from attending the
meetings, but women’s and children’s meetings were held separately from the men. The pastor's wife, Elli Moore Townsend, was a gifted
speaker and stepped in to oversee that work. Since the men worked around the clock, meetings were held for each shift, and amazingly,
attendance was good. The few days that Good Will was in Sanderson, a fledgling mission church was established and the people were
greatly encouraged to continue.
The first building for the new congregation was built after the organization of the
county in 1906 and sat on the corner now occupied by the Frankie Cash Administration Building at 1st and Oak.
1927 the present building was built by the congregation, across the street and north of the old location. A parsonage was added
in the 1930s. The campus was completed by addition of a Sunday School and fellowship building to the west of the church.
Railroad workers gather around the Chapel Car Good Will for a group photo in 1900.
The Chapel Car Good Will, first dedicated church building in Sanderson.
Original First Baptist Church building at 1st and Hackberry, southwest corner, ca 1920. In 1927 a new building was built on
the northwest corner.