Oliphant

and the Sister Grove Baptist Association

 

    William D. Oliphant settled in Fannin County near Sowell’s Bluff, “after freedom,” with Fountain Oliphant.


    The Masons of Constantine Lodge in Bonham remember him (1917):


    Col. W. D. Oliphant was born in the state of Mississippi and moved to Texas before the Civil War. He married Miss Belle Dupree, the wife of his first marriage by whom he had four children; three sons, Joe, Sam, and Willie; one daughter, Emma. He was married the second time to Miss Lora Lyday, the fruit of his second marriage being two sons: Henry and John, and three daughters, Eddie, Bessie and Lucile. He died at Paul’s Valley, Okla., a few years ago. He was at one time a large and successful farmer on Red River in this county, owning and cultivating the finest lands in that section upon which was produced some of the finest crops in the county. He was also, for a term of years, interested in merchandise in Bonham, conducting and supervising at the same time both enterprises. He was highly regarded and esteemed; was a noble and enterprising citizen, a generous friend, a kind husband and indulgent father; he was a man and brother who at all times and circumstances stood for the enforcement of law and order.

    He was an exemplary member of the Baptist church who encouraged education and all things that tended to the advancement of his country’s welfare.... He died away from his old home and associates, under changed conditions, but in his new environments he exhibited and maintained that calm dignity and manly bearing that was always a part of his life. He passed to a reward and to the bosom of his God and was called higher from the busy walks of men and from paths that he had so long trod, an example of a good and perfect life.


    Obituary, October 31, 1902:


    An Old Citizen Dead—Col. Wm. D. Oliphant died at his home in Paul’s Valley, I.T., last Friday and his body was laid to rest in the cemetery at that place.

    Col. Oliphant was for many years a resident of Fannin county, having moved to the Territory only a few years ago. Just after the close of the war, he was one of the most prominent and successful planters and merchants in this county. He owned a large plantation on the river, and for a time made much money. In later years misfortune overtook him and his property was swept away. No man was ever more honest and upright than he, and none who knew him failed to sympathize with him in his misfortunes. He was a man of considerable learning, and was a lover of good books. His library was one of the best collections of literary volumes in the county. He had reached a ripe old age, and now sleeps in an honored grave. Peace be to his ashes.


    During the Civil War ( in 1863) the Sister Grove Baptist Association’s school moved to Sandy Creek, near the Smith Plantation, but closed soon after because of “inadequate enrollment”. Reopened in 1867, it returned the next year to Ladonia (in Fannin County) where it was founded in 1860 as the Male and Female Institute, “because [the town] offered a two-story building and more than $2,600 in cash.” Gideon Smith was president of the school’s governing board in 1868 and stated, “The moral and religious influence of the community insures the highest advantage to youths entrusted there....”

    In September 1868 W. D. Oliphant was a member of the Association’s Finance Committee. “On motion” he was added to the Executive Board, joining Gideon Smith. “Brother John C. Smith” was Treasurer. The Association’s “Compendium of Faith”:


    I.   We believe in one only true and living God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and that these three are one, equal, co-equal, and co-eternal.

    II.   We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the word of God, and that they are the only perfect rule of faith and practice.

    III.  We believe in election according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth.

    IV.   We believe in the doctrine of original sin, viz., that man is totally incapable of retrieving himself from the fallen state he is in by nature, and if ever saved it will be by grace through faith in Christ, which is effected through the means of God’s appointment by the operation of the Spirit.

    V.   We believe that sinners are justified in the sight of God only by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

    VI.   We believe that every child of God will persevere in grace and ultimately be saved.

    VII.  We believe that Christian baptism is the immersion in water of a believer, in the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost; to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem our faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, with its effect, in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life; that it is pre-requisite to the privileges of a church relation, and to the Lord’s Supper, in which the members of the church, by the sacred use of bread and wine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ; preceded always by solemn self-examination.

    VIII.   We believe in the resurrection of the dead, and in a general judgment; and that the punishment of the wicked will be everlasting, and the joys of the righteous eternal.

    IX.   We believe that ministers and deacons are officers of the church of Christ, and that they have no right to officiate as such until they are regularly set apart by the church, and come under the hands of a presbytery duly authorized; the ministers first having given testimony of a call from God to that work, and of their usefulness to the church.

    X.   Any amendment may be made to the above Confession of Faith by the consent of two-thirds of the churches composing this Association, through their delegate
s, in an associate capacity assembled.


    ... Thus the Sixteenth Annual Session of Sister Grove Association distinguished for brotherly love and zeal for the Saviour’s cause, closed in peace and order, with the brethren, with sad hearts and tearful eyes, once more gave each other the parting hand.


“Statistical Table”

    Includes information on 33 churches in the Association. Sandy Creek (10th church to join) had J. W. Connelly for pastor and Gid Smith for clerk. (J. C. Smith was clerk at the Bonham church.) Sandy Creek reported no baptisms and no members “Rec’d by Letter.”  Twenty-six were Dismissed by Letter, 1 Excluded, and 3 Dead. 

    Among “Subscriptions for the Benefit of Sister Morrill and Family to be Paid in Annual Installments for Five Years,” Col. Gid. Smith and W. D. Oliphant pledged $50 each; seven others (including Dr. J. C. Smith) pledged $25 each.


   At the firm of W. D. Oliphant and Gideon Smith in Bonham, William Brownlee  sold a bottle of whiskey to A. J. Whisenhunt. The result in January 1870 was State of Texas vs. Oliphant and Smith. The charge: That the defendants “unlawfully” sold whiskey “in a quantity less than one quart, without...a License.” In a jury trial Brownlee stated he was clerking for the defendants. “I sold a bottle of whiskey, [like one displayed] round and sealed up with wax [for 75 cents, without] anything being said about a quart.” A licensed liquor dealer testified about the sizes and quantities of bottles. Whisenhunt: “I do not know how much it held...have never measured the bottle; I did not call for a quart of whiskey but called for a bottle of whiskey.” Oliphant and Smith were convicted in District Court and appealed to the Texas Supreme Court; due to an “error in judgment,” on January 23, 1873, the lower court’s decision was reversed.


    [Judge Evans writing:]  William D. Oliphant, with a brother, Joseph B., had a business on the north side of the public square in Bonham which continued up to the War Between the States. After the close of the war W. D. Oliphant engaged for a few years in farming, and made quite a handsome little fortune, but after so doing he again entered the mercantile business and lost about all that he had made. 

    [Joseph B. Oliphant came to Texas as a young man. Sometime during 1857 or ‘58 he married Miss Francis Doss, a daughter of J. W. Doss, of Bonham.]  He was an excellent business man, and no man ever had a kinder or warmer heart than he.... After the war he [Joseph] engaged in farming on Red River, and while at his farm was taken sick and did not get back up to his home in Bonham, but died at his river farm. When he passed away in the early seventies [July 1, 1870] Bonham lost one of her best citizens and many people lost a friend indeed.


    The Oliphant brothers’ “river farm” was located then in the northeast corner of Fannin County, near Monkstown. William (in 1888) will buy 686 acres from Nancy Smith adjacent to the “new” cemetery in today’s Mulberry.


    In January Term of District Court (1881) Francis Oliphant was suing her brother-in-law, William D. Oliphant. Joseph had died without a will; she was acting for her four minor children, claiming that their father had been owner of  “one undivided half” of certain lots in Bonham, including one on the “north side of the public square,” and 320 acres on Red River. When it was auctioned, William D. Oliphant purchased the property, but she never received her husband’s share: “one half of said sum which has never been paid.” William D. Oliphant “denied the facts and allegations.”


   Mrs. Francis Doris Oliphant died December 18, 1918.... One of Bonham’s most illustrious citizens...as one of Bonham’s fairest and best she left the paternal home when she became the bride of a husband who was a part of the imperishable name of Texas’ early history, a man beloved and respected for his noble traits, who was taken from her by the grim reaper of death in the bloom of a perfect manhood. Deprived of his love and companionship at a time when a perfect joy was beginning, she was left alone with four children to rear and care for. Multitudes know what she had done....