On March 20, 1893, two colporteurs, C. M. Brimer and Mr. McDonald, arrived in Helena and began canvassing in the Helena area with the book Bible Readings for the Home Circle. Within three months they had orders for over 1,000 books. One family who had never heard of Seventh-day Adventists before this, began keeping the Sabbath and made plans to attend the upcoming camp meeting in Clarksville, over 200 miles away. Two black Baptist preachers and their families also began keeping the Sabbath (Brimer, 1893).
West Helena Church Organized in 1961
The Helena congregation began as a group of twelve in 1956. Sabbath keepers met in Dollie and J. C. Lunsford’s home to worship. Others who began meeting with them were Monte and Millie Jones, who sacrificed and worked to make sure there would soon be a church building where the members could meet. In December 1960, it was voted to buy one-and-a-quarter acres where the Helena members could build a church (Minutes, 1960). Adele Bromberger, who played the piano, joined the group, adding music to their worship experience. She also brought flowers for the church every week. West Helena was organized as a church on October 14, 1961, with twenty-eight charter members, under the leadership of Elder V. O. Schneider (Record, 1997).
One Pastor’s Dream
In 2001, Pastor Clarence Hoag came with a dream of a radio station so the gospel could go to the community and soon station KIHW (Keeping in His Word) was launched (Hoag, 2013b). “KIHW-LP (104.1 FM) is a radio station licensed to serve West Helena, Arkansas. The station is owned by Hope Radio. It airs a Christian radio format deriving a portion of its programming from Radio 74 Internationale. On April 4, 2008, the FCC granted KIHW-LP a construction permit to change broadcast frequency from 97.7 to 104.1 MHz with a slight increase in effective radiated power to 24.31 watts. The station was granted a license to cover this change on March 13, 2009” (Wikipedia, 2018). Pastor Hoag passed away in 2010, but the radio station he had dreamed of continued to be a light in the community (Hoag, 2013a).
West Helena Church Dedicated
The West Helena church was dedicated on April 21, 1973 (Kostenko, 1973).
(1960, Dec. 12). Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Conference Association. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
(1997, Jan. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 10.
Brimer, C. M. (1893, Jun. 6). Review and Herald, p. 365.
Hoag, Betty Latimer. (2013a, May 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 16.
In March 1884, Elder Dolphus Austin (“D. A.”) Wellman came from Michigan to hold meetings in the Little Rock area. His work was centered in Argenta (North Little Rock), where a gentleman who had a copy of Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation which he had read through four times, was thoroughly convinced of the truth. He offered Elder and Mrs. Wellman a room in his house to occupy free of charge for as long as they were there. At the close of the meetings, one person was baptized and Elder Wellman reported that several were keeping the Sabbath in Argenta (Wellman, 1884).
Little Rock Church Organized in 1889
Dan T. Jones, Missouri Conference president, reported in the May 17, 1887, Review and Herald that tent meetings were going to begin in Little Rock (Jones, 1887). In the summer of 1887, after a lot of labor in Little Rock, a few had accepted the truth and Elder Jones was able to organize a small company (Henderson, 1888). In August 1887, Benjamin Franklin Martindale began preparing a group of canvassers to go throughout Argenta and Little Rock to continue gaining interests (Martindale, 1887). A church of twenty-six members was organized in February 1889, when the conference headquarters were moved to the Little Rock area (Henderson, 1889).
Little Rock Church Reorganized in 1901
When the conference office moved to Van Buren in 1890, the Little Rock church floundered, but the opening of the Little Rock Sanitarium finally brought strength and stability. There were only two Adventists living in North Little Rock by this time, Mrs. Strange and Mrs. Potter. On December 26, 1900, Dr. and Mrs. William Clare Greene came to Little Rock from Battle Creek Sanitarium to take charge of treatment rooms which Greene’s brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Rawson Jacob Greene, had established. In April 1901, a young physician just out of medical school, Dr. A. W. George, came to work at the sanitarium. This small group of people organized a Sabbath school in Little Rock. A colporteur, Charles F. Parmele, and his wife also came in 1901 and were joined by another colporteur, Alex D. Valentine (Lewins, n.d.). On October 12, 1901, the church in Little Rock was reorganized with twelve members (Parmele, 1902). They met in the parlor at the Little Rock Sanitarium until the group built a church on Jefferson Street in 1908 (Gregory, 1908). On May 27, 1902, Charles Parmele’s younger brother, Rufus W. Parmele, held tent meetings in Little Rock hoping to have some good interests who would attend camp meeting in July (Field, 1902).
An advertisement for the Little Rock Sanitarium (Record, 1906). In 1908, the sanitarium was moved to Wolfe Street.
A New Church in 1908
The first Adventist church built in Little Rock was on Jefferson Street. This church was sold in 1923 (Record, 1924).
A New Church in 1921
Property with an existing church at 1213 Marshall Street in Little Rock, was purchased in the fall of 1921. A house next door was remodeled to house the Conference headquarters (Taylor, 1921). In 1925, a baptistry was added to the church (Record, 1925). For years, the rear section of the Little Rock church had been a disorderly makeshift construction. Finally in 1942, they were able to tear away and reconstruct the back of the building and include several large and attractive rooms in time for several new members to join the church at the conclusion of an evangelistic effort that fall (Record, 1942b). Tent meetings were held in the summer of 1942. The attendance was about 700 white people and 500 blacks on the night the Sabbath was presented. Although they had a large tent, about 250 people had to sit outside the tent. The members were busy visiting the homes of over 300 people who requested literature (Garrett, 1942).
Soldiers Attend The Church
In September 1940, the United States instituted the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which required all men between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five to register for the draft. By 1942, fifty Seventh-day Adventist soldiers were located at Camp Robinson in Little Rock. These men were receiving Sabbath privileges and made a large addition to the Little Rock church attendance each Sabbath. The church was very open-hearted and every soldier had the opportunity of sharing the church’s hospitality throughout each Sabbath. The soldiers were very appreciative of this kindness and many of them took an active part in church services and set an example of courage and faith for the entire membership (Record, 1942a). In 1943, the conference executive committee voted to make a twenty-five dollar appropriation to the Little Rock Church to “assist in the entertainment of our soldier boys on the Sabbath” (Minutes, 1943).
Outgrowing the church
In the fall of 1953, Stanley Harris and Henry Barron held an evangelistic crusade in Little Rock. As a result, nearly sixty people were baptized and joined the church. Among this group was a former Pentecostal minister and his family. Several other individuals were preparing to unite with the church. The Little Rock church had already reached its capacity, and were making preparations to build a new house of worship (Record, 1954).
A New Church in 1956
Early in 1954, some of the new members began holding evangelistic meetings, growing the church even more. That year the Little Rock church purchased a beautiful two-and-one-half acre plot of ground at 3400 South Hayes Street (later renamed University Avenue), immediately across from the Little Rock Junior College (now University of Arkansas). On September 21, 1955, the grading of the property began for the new Little Rock School and Evangelistic Center. The building was to have a large auditorium with seating for 700 (Thurmon, 1955). The members needed to raise $35,000 before they could begin building so on January 9, 1956, a representative from a Seventh-day Adventist professional fund raising group flew in from Los Angeles to conduct a canvass of the church district. Just three weeks later the membership of the Little Rock church had willingly pledged $38,858.75 for the new church building program. On Sabbath, October 6, 1956, the members met for the first time in their new evangelistic center. Beginning the next day and continuing October 7 – 9, 1956, the conference ministers’ meeting was held in the new church (Scott, 1956). In 1959, it was voted to sell the church and property on Marshall Street (Minutes, 1959).
A New Church in 1970
Groundbreaking for a new Little Rock church on Rodney Parham Road was held December 23, 1969. A building with a seating capacity of 400 was planned for the plot that had been purchased three years before. Building the school had been the first phase and now the church was added to the eight-and-a-half acre property (Clark, 1970a). Members met in their new church for the first time on June 27, 1970, with 350 people enjoying the grand opening celebration (Clark, 1970b). The dedication of the new church was held on December 11, 1976. The church property on University Avenue was sold in 1977 (Richey, 1977).
Little Rock church on Rodney Parham Road in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In March 1970, the Arkansas-Louisiana conference president, E. Frank Sherrill, reported that they were looking for a Spanish pastor-evangelist to lead out in the work among the Spanish-speaking people in the New Orleans area (Sherrill, 1970a). In August 1970, Pastor and Mrs. Sergio Ortiz were welcomed to our conference. Pastor Ortiz, who had been serving as a district pastor in Puerto Rico, had two brothers and some other relatives living in New Orleans for whom he had a great burden. They had become discouraged because there was no Spanish-speaking Adventist church in Louisiana. Pastor Ortiz took a leave of absence from the Puerto Rican conference and he and his family moved to New Orleans (Sherrill, 1970b).
New Orleans Kenner Spanish Church Organized in 1972
Sabbath, May 20, 1972, the New Orleans Kenner church was organized with seventeen charter members. The pastor of the new church was Elder Sergio Ortiz. This was the second Spanish SDA church in our conference in Louisiana and in the New Orleans area. At camp meeting time, the Spanish churches of New Orleans were formed into a district with Elder Ortiz as the district pastor. Evangelistic meetings were then planned to help reach the more than 100,000 Spanish-speaking people in the New Orleans area. With the organization of this new church there were sixty churches in the Arkansas-Louisiana conference (Sherrill, 1972).
New Orleans Kenner Spanish Church Reorganized in 2001
Apparently the first Kenner Spanish Church disbanded along the way and members were absorbed into other churches. A group began meeting again and in June 1980 it was voted to organize a Kenner Spanish company (Minutes, 1980a) There were four lots of land located in Kenner that were appropriated for the use of the Kenner Spanish company (Minutes, 1980b). Early in 2001, Israel Sanchez, a member of the Metairie Spanish church in New Orleans, called the Arkansas-Louisiana conference office to say that a group of about fifteen to twenty Spanish church members were interested in starting a new congregation. The proposed site was in Kenner. By April, the conference had appointed E. Rodolfo Prieto to serve as pastor-literature evangelist for that area. After becoming acquainted with the members, Prieto held a revival series that resulted in three baptisms and the return of several inactive members. In September, Oscar Hernandez, international publications director from Pacific Press, held a two-week evangelistic series and five more were baptized. With an average Sabbath attendance of sixty to eighty, the conference officers decided that rather than grant this group a company status, the Kenner Spanish group would be organized as a church. On Sabbath afternoon, October 6, 2001, the new church was officially organized with forty-eight charter members (Canales, 2001).
A New Church
In February 2003, it was voted for the New Orleans Kenner Spanish church to purchase three pieces of adjacent property — one with a house that could be converted to a church, one lot for parking, and an additional house for a parsonage (Minutes, 2003).
The first efforts to establish a church in Lafayette were in 1969 and 1970, by Pastor and Mrs. Wallace Burns and Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Scoggins, as literature evangelists. In this strong Catholic community which Seventh-day Adventists had never been able to penetrate there was a major breakthrough that got the attention of high officials. In conjunction with a federation (now Adventist Community Services) meeting there, the Adventist group put on a mass-feeding demonstration at noon, at which time they fed more than 300 people in less than ten minutes. Afterward, they had a panel discussion with the Red Cross, Civil Defense, fire department, and city officials giving them information on what their agencies do and how Adventist could better cooperate in times of disaster. With newspaper and television coverage of the event, before the day was over the entire city knew of the community service work of Seventh-day Adventists (Voss, 1969).
Lafayette Company Organized in 1974
In 1973, a two-and-three-quarters-acre plot was purchased on which to build a church. Adventists living in the city at that time were a veterinarian and his wife, a male nurse and his family, a layman and his wife from California, and the pastor of the district, Keith McNabb and his family. Soon a couple from New Orleans joined them (McKnabb, 1973). The group was meeting in the Grace Lutheran church. On July 13, 1974, a covered-dish supper was held to celebrate their recent organization as the Lafayette company. About fifty members and visitors came to join the celebration (McKnabb, 1974).
It Takes Teamwork
In late 1974, the conference sent their dark county* team, Pastor Eugene Ryan and Tom Patzer to Lafayette as literature evangelists, determined to build a strong church in that city (Elder, 1975). They were assisted by students from Ozark Academy (now Ozark Adventist Academy) and Southwestern Union College (now Southwestern Adventist University) in conducting a Vacation Bible School. In the fall of 1975, an evangelistic team of Cline Johnson and Bill Tucker held a series in the Gabriel room of the Travelodge Motel. With an average attendance of 100 nightly and approximately forty non-Seventh-day Adventists the meetings continued for four weeks, with interests followed up by Elder Ryan (Record, 1976a).
A New Church in 1976
Early in 1976, the Lafayette members began building a church on their property just off Highway 167 on Rena Drive. The new church seated 125 with space for Sabbath school rooms and a fellowship hall (Griffin, 1976).
Lafayette Church Organized in 1976
On the afternoon of September 4, 1976, Elder Haskell officiated in the organization of the Lafayette church with thirty-three charter members. The nominating committee did a portion of its work during lunch, then presented a list of names for the principle offices and these were voted by the church members (Jackson, 1976).
*A dark county was an area where no active Adventist work was being done.
(1976a, Jan. 24). Southwestern Union Record, p. 8.
In 1946 a small home church school was being taught in Harrison by Mrs. Evelyn Winters. A few years later, in 1952 the Harrison church was ready to build their first church and the members included a classroom in the building. The Harrison school opened in 1960, closed in 1963, reopened for the 1965-1966 school year, and reopened again in 1968 (Report, 1959-1980). For the next few years, some of the teachers included Mrs. James Madison, Addie Lewis, Linda Malmede, and Lauel Burton. In the late 1960s, because of an increase in the number of students, the room in the church was no longer adequate so a school was built on property donated by Frank Cox, outside of Harrison in the White Oak community. Roby and Charles Hightower were the teachers at that time (History, 1981).
A Country School in 1974
Following the Hightowers, teachers included Richard Garver, Dale Williams, Dorothy Cox, Dr. Edwards, and Dr. Harlyn Blake. Dr. Blake bought a bus and his wife, Karol, transported the children to and from the school, as well as serving as an assistant teacher. A new school out in the country was completed by the 1974-1975 school year. During that time, Wilma Ritchey was in charge of the school library and Clarence Quarnstrom provided employment for some of the older students, packaging honey and making frames for his hives. From 1961 to 1978, Marion Allen Bearden was connected with the school, teaching much of the time, sometimes the entire term, other times part of the term, filling in, or as an assistant or as a substitute (History, 1981).
A New School in 1981
It became more and more difficult to have a church school so far out in the country, so after building a new church at Capps, a trailer house was purchased and converted into a school for two years. The teachers during that time were Betty Strout, Connie Hall, and Suzanne Boyer. Mr. Quarnstrom, Mr. Lauer and his family, the Allen family, and James Lanning helped in many other ways as well. Because of their dedication and work, a new school was built in 1981, with Arlin Monroe as the teacher (History, 1981). The school had abundant playground space, a large all-purpose room, kitchen, two restrooms and a classroom. An addition to the facility in 1997 gave additional classroom space, a separate library, a computer room, and a work area for the teacher’s aide (Hevener, 1998).
(1959-1980). Teacher’s Opening Report. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
(1981). History of Harrison church and school. Provided by Patti Castellano. Unpublished.
Hevener, Don. (1998, Mar. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 5.
In November 1906, Elder Griffin baptized a few people and organized a church of eight members at Lucky, Arkansas. The group had already built a little church in which they had begun meeting although it was not quite finished (Griffin, 1906). Almost immediately they realized they needed a church school for their children (McCoy, 1907). From 1907 to 1910, they had such short school years that the school was not reported in the SDA Yearbook for those years. For the 1910-1911 school year they planned to have a much longer and better year (McCoy, 1910), and they did, with twenty-six students taught by Dewey Kinzer.
Around this time, the Jim and Genie (McConnell) Wilson family moved to this area with their seven children. Their concern had been to find and live near a church school. James, the oldest son, wrote, “There we found a home on a small farm of 60 acres. It was fairly level and not too rocky. There we grew corn and oats and peanuts for feed and cane for molasses. All kinds of garden truck to feed the family. Cows too, of course, for milk and butter. There were several acres in cultivation and we cleared some more. A crop that was new to us was cotton but we soon learned how to do that one, too. It was our principal money crop even though the price was disappointing sometimes….But that church school, how we loved it! Even though it was 2 miles from our home. We didn’t mind the walk. Took a lunch with us, of course. It was here that we began to prepare for some future line of service – teaching, preaching, colporteur work, mission service in some part of the world field. Our search for a church school was ended” (Wilson, n.d.)
The little community of Lucky no longer exists, but by 1931 the school became known as the Bonnerdale school (Hopkins, 1931).
A New School in 1937
The 1937 school year began in a newly built three-room school for the Bonnerdale students (Pound, 1937). In 1942, they went to eleven grades. Edith Ewing was the lower grade teacher and Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Ladd taught the upper grades (Pannell, 1942). The grade levels taught fluctuated with the needs of students.
A New School in 1980
At the end of 1976, Irvin and Evea J. Bainum donated property for new church and school. The school and Ewing Auditorium were built first. The church congregation met in the new auditorium for the first time on December 22, 1979 (Record, 1979). The 1980-1981 school year opened in the new school building which included the auditorium/gymnasium, a $150,000 gift from Irvin and Evea Bainum in memory of Evea’s parents, Albert and Florence Ewing (Shain, 1980). That school year marked the seventy-third year of continuous operation for the school. Enrollment was as low as eight students one year and as high as thirty-one students. The school and Ewing Auditorium were built first. The new school was named Florence Ewing Junior Academy, and in 2010 shortened to Ewing Adventist Junior Academy (Simpson, 2010).
(1976, Dec. 17). Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Conference Association. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
(1979, Dec. 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 12F.
(2010, Aug. 11). Ewing Adventist Jr Academy. Retrieved from eadventist.net.
Griffin, H. Clay. (1906, Nov. 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.
Hopkins, E. B. (1931, May 6). Ibid., p. 3.
McCoy, Ava L. (1907, Feb. 26). Ibid., p. 2.
Ibid. (1910, Oct. 11). p. 3.
Pannell, G. C. (1942, Jul. 29). Ibid., p. 1.
Pound, I. C. (1937, Sep. 22). Ibid., p. 8.
Shain, Jacquelyn. (1980, Oct. 2). Ibid., pp. 4, 5.
Wilson, James Orville. (No Date). An Ordinary Family Serves Humanity, pp. 20, 28.
In 1902, Edward Louis Pickney began canvassing in Pocahontas, returning again in 1904. Pickney reported that there were a lot of Catholics. They were very kind and bought a few small books but would not buy Bible Readings for the Home Circle unless their priest would recommend it (Pickney, 1904). In 1908, Mr. Comstock also canvassed Pocahontas, reporting good success (Oppy, 1908).
Story of Two Colporteurs
Edward Pickney wrote to the Arkansas Conference headquarters telling of his and his friend, W. A. Heathcote’s, experiences one day while they were canvassing around Pocahontas and into Sharp County. At the end of a week they started for home, but there had been a heavy rainfall on the previous day. When they reached the creek they found the foot bridge had washed away, so they took off their shoes and waded through. They did not know what the temperature was, but it was very cold. Then they came across a town quarantined on account of the smallpox. They went around that and found that the river had flooded and they had to wade through water up to their knees. They finally came to a stand still. Then a man came along with a boat and took them across to the hills. They reached home about 9:00 p.m., having walked about thirty-five miles that day. They reported that they were of good courage and praised the Lord for His care, and in spite of their experience, “were anxious to continue scattering the printed pages of truth amongst the people” (Field, 1903).
The Work Continues
In 1939, the Clide L. Wickwire family moved from Colorado Springs to Pocahontas and were the first Seventh-day Adventists living there. In their hearts was a dream of an active church and school. With the passing of the years God blessed Pearl Wickwire’s ceaseless efforts and the little group of Adventists grew (Morton, 1955). By 1943, there was a small group of scattered believers who were very faithful in their Sabbath school attendance and missionary work. On June 13, 1943, Elder and Mrs. Herbert Hewitt and Charles Beeler held tent meetings in Pocahontas. Attendance was fair, but continued to increase, so the group attending Sabbath school started a building fund on June 26, in preparation for building a church in Pocahontas (Beeler, 1943).
Pocahontas Church Organized in 1946
Elder Herbert Hewitt and Leon Strickland organized a new church at Pocahontas on Sabbath, August 17, 1946. Several families had recently moved to Pocahontas and three new members were baptized the day of the organization, making a church of nineteen members (Wells, 1946). By 1947 the members had, purchased a lot for a new church building (Minutes, 1947).
A New Church in 1950
By the end of October 1948, excavating for a new church building had been completed. Most of the lumber for building was on hand, the sand for the concrete foundation was on the lot and the order in for cement, which was a little hard to get. They were delayed by a car accident and illness of the contractor, but things eventually came together and they were ready to build (Marshall, 1948). On Sabbath, April 30, 1949, the members met for the first time in their new church. In February 1950, the Pocahontas church had fully completed the main auditorium to their church. When the auditorium was completed, a porch and vestibule were added (Kretz, 1950). C. L. Beason, assisted by one of our church school teachers, Chester Jordon, and their wives began a series of meetings in a large tent in Pocahontas, Sunday night, July 18, 1954. The tent was pitched on the front of the church lot. Everyone knew it was a Seventh-day Adventist meeting, yet nearly one hundred attended the opening meeting (Record, 1954). The Pocahontas church was dedicated on Sabbath, September 5, 1958 (Evans, 1959).
(1947, Mar. 20). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
(1954, Jul. 28). Southwestern Union Record, p. 4.
Ancestry Family Trees. (2017, Apr. 30). Edward Louis Pickney. Retrieved from ancestry.com.
Beeler, Charles R. (1943, Jul. 7). Southwestern Union Record, p. 4.
The first services of the North Little Rock church were held on November 28, 1970, with thirty-nine present. The congregation was formally organized on January 23, 1971, and met through the years in a little building which the congregation purchased from the Jehovah Witnesses during the time Pastor Ernest Clark was the district pastor (Minutes, 1971). All activity stopped while the freight train went past, which was right as the 11 o’clock service began each week.
Sylvan Hills sDA Church
In 1976, the North Little Rock church decided to move out — not only to a more desirable building, but also farther out from the North Little Rock area into the Sylvan Hills Addition of the community of Sherwood. George Buchanan, local elder, said, “We were led to this land. Nothing was here except trees and one billy goat.” Ground was broken May 8, 1977, for the new church and they began building. Jack Williams, a new member in the fall of 1976, suggested the new name of the church, Sylvan Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church (Record, 1977). A brick-veneer building with seating capacity of approximately 250 was designed and built by an Adventist contractor, Emmet Head. In addition to several Sabbath school classrooms housed on the lower area of the building, an additional 1,400 square feet of the building was set aside to function as a community service center to serve the surrounding area of Arkansas. The members began to worship in their new church in November 1977, and the official opening took place on December 3, 1977 (Kostenko, 1978). The mortgage was paid in December 1984 and the church was dedicated the following summer.
A New Church in 2001
In March 1995, the Sylvan Hills church sold their property to the Northside Presbyterian church and were looking for a new piece of property. In 1998, they purchased land on Highway 107 in Jacksonville and around this time changed the name back to North Little Rock church. By 2000, the building plans and loans were in place and voted so they could begin the building project. They held their grand opening on December 15, 2001 (Newsletter, 2001).
Sherwood Community Church
At the end of 2011, the church members voted to change the name of their church to Sherwood Seventh-day Adventist Community Church (Mackay, 2012).
Rex Everett Callicott was born in Lane, Tennessee, on January 23, 1896, to Leonidas and Fannie Fern Callicott. He was the seventh of eight children — five girls and three boys. His family moved to Texas when he was still a young boy. Rex met Maudine Curtis at Wills Point, Texas, and they married on September 21, 1922 (Ancestry, 2019). He began baking cookies in the backyard of his Dallas home the following year. By the end of the year, it was a thriving business that developed into a million-dollar industry by the time he retired as chairman in 1962 (Advocate, 1987).
Jack’s Cookie Corporation
Around 1925 Rex and Maudine moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where their two children were born. After 1935 the family moved to Houston where Rex opened a Jack’s cookie plant. By 1941, the Callicotts were living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Ancestry, 2019). Rex consolidated his operations into three large plants located in Charlotte, North Carolina; Mobile, Alabama; and Baton Rouge. During a bleak business period during World War II, Rex stopped making his vanilla wafers, which was his best selling cookie. The sugar shortage threatened to cause a substandard dough and he decided it was better to discontinue production than lower the quality. The vanilla wafer was the first cookie back on the market after the sugar shortage ended (Advocate, 1987).
Photos courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference
The RX Bar Ranch
During his early years in Texas, Rex had developed an interest in cattle ranching that carried over even into his retirement years. He became a member of both the Louisiana and the Texas Cattlemen’s Association (Advocate, 1987). In 1944 he purchased a 6,300-acre ranch in Pointe Coupee and West Baton Rouge parishes along the Mississippi River. Rex ran 3,500 head of Angus and Brangus cattle, along with thirty head of registered quarter horses, on the RX Bar Ranch. Using effective pastureland management led to improvement of his cattle herds creating a very successful business (Sapp, 1980). His ranch was his love and he would go every day during the week, if possible. “He loved to make his daily tour, talk with his ranch hands, or deliver supplies. When he drove up on the levee there was a view…of the cattle grazing and the birds on wing. It was breathtaking” (Leach, 1987).
Contributions for Young People
Rex became a well-known businessman in the south and in the Seventh-day Adventist church. He served on many boards and committees, including the Southwestern Adventist College (now University) board, the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference committee and the Union committee over the years. He was instrumental in getting the Spanish Voice of Prophecy to begin broadcasting in New Orleans in February 1971. He had a strong interest in helping young people get a Christian education and many young people received financial assistance through his generosity. One of his favorite ways to help was the Youth Action Line, operated by B. E. Leach, Wayne Shepherd, and Dick Bendall. Rex was the chief source of income for this life-line that young people could call when they needed help (Leach, 1987). On one occasion when this group was going over names of students who needed financial aid, Rex soon had contributed $20,000 and the Youth Action Line had pledged $7,000 but had no idea how they would get the funds to cover this amount. In a few days they received a check for $7,000 from Rex Callicott, with a note of thanks for helping the needy students (Bendall, 1987). “Before he died, Callicott provided for the same philanthropy to continue through the Callicott Foundation. Many students at Ozark Adventist Academy and Southwestern Adventist University are still helped by grants from the Foundation” (Beeler, 1996).
The Argyle Plantation
Rex Callicott will long be remembered for his accomplishments and his dedication to the Southwestern Union. He and his wife, Maudine, and their two children, Rex P. and Bettye, gave to this church the largest gift in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “Argyle Plantation is a name that will be blazed in the eternal Stewardship Hall of Fame. The land alone is worth millions. The value of the mineral rights cannot be estimated. Already a four-mile hole, costing sixteen million dollars, has been drilled; and there they found it — GAS — with the pressure so powerful they have had to order special pipe from Japan to handle it. Approximately 50% of the land and royalties are the property of the Southwestern Union Conference, Southwestern Adventist College, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference, and Ozark [Adventist] Academy. This is a tremendous event — unprecedented and unparalleled in the entire 130-year history of our church. Thank you, Brother Rex, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We’ll never stop thanking you. Praise the Lord! Elder V. L. Roberts (former treasurer, associate secretary and stewardship secretary of the Southwestern Union) is in charge of this project. He is known as landlord of Argyle Plantation. Rex Callicott now works for V. L. Roberts” (Leach, 1981). In the first six years alone, nearly six million dollars flowed into the church, supporting the Lord’s work (Leach, 1987).
Farewell to a Friend
Rex Callicott passed away on February 3, 1987, but he still stands out because of his sincerity, his honesty, his close relationship with Jesus, and his humility. He loved his Lord and he had a great vision of a “land that is fairer than day” (Leach, 1987).
(1987, Feb. 4). Jack’s Cookie Co. founder Callicott dies at age 91. State Time Advocate, p. 36.
In 1901, camp meeting was held at Batesville. Volner Brockway (“V. B.”) Watts, a young farmer from Nebraska, along with his wife and two young sons, had come for a year to help in Arkansas (Field, 1902). Watts secured a nice grove handy to town, and had the tent all ready for meetings. The meetings began on time, with a fair attendance. There were about forty Adventists who traveled to camp there, in addition to those who lived in Batesville. Sunday, the last day of the meeting, eight were baptized. Elder Asa E. Field remained there until Thursday, September 12, 1901, when they met and organized a church of fifteen members. V. B. Watts was elected and ordained as the elder. There were several who desired baptism, but on account of rain this was postponed to be done later by Watts (Field, 1901).
A New Church in 1902
As a result of the work of V. B. Watts and another young man, Urbanus Bender, Batesville had a strong church and a new church building that was dedicated March 9, 1902 (Field, 1902). However, the September 5, 1905, Conference proceedings dropped Batesville from their list of churches, “there being no member living at that place” (Review, 1905). In January 1906, though, Urbanus Bender reported that he visited a few that were still faithful at Batesville (Bender, 1906).
Batesville Church Revives
In 1950, the Sabbath schools at Mt. Pleasant and Batesville merged and began meeting at the Mt. Pleasant Church (Kretz, 1950). Elder Kretz held a tent series at Batesville in 1951, but it wasn’t until 1958 that the little group revived when William M. Ashton, a retired postal worker from Texas, along with his wife Olga, moved to this area of Arkansas to dedicate their lives to missionary work there. They began showing temperance films to the community. This effort gained community support and rallied the church members in the whole area (Evans, 1960).
Batesville Church Reorganized in 1961
In 1960, someone donated a lot on Highway 11 where William Ashton could build a community service center (Jones, 1963). He also built a church and on January 21, 1961, the church was reorganized and the members were able to meet in their own building (Evans, 1961). Sabbath, January 4, 1964, the church at Batesville was dedicated. Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. William Ashton, who had worked so faithfully, there was a beautiful place to worship (Evans, 1964).
A New Church in 1982
By 1980 they needed a new church and in January 1981, the Batesville members ended a long search for a suitable building site. May 17, 1981, the members held a ground-breaking ceremony to begin construction on a new 7,000 square-foot facility to be built on the two-and-a-half acre plot located on Highway 69 East and Gap Road (Rucker, 1981). The first church service was held in the new building on January 9, 1982, although the sanctuary was not yet completed. In April 1982, the church celebrated moving into their new sanctuary by having special events three weekends in a row, and by giving a special plaque to Olga Ashton, whose husband had been so instrumental in reviving the church family in Batesville (Fivash, 1982). The Batesville Church was dedicated debt free on October 12, 1991 (Record, 1991).
(1905, Sep. 5). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.
(1991, Oct. 1). Ibid., p. 12.
Bender, U. (1906, Jan. 30). Ibid., p. 2.
Evans, I. M. (1960, Dec. 14). Ibid., p. 4.
Ibid. (1961. Jan. 4). p. 3.
Ibid. (1964, Jan. 15). p. 2.
Field, A. E. (1901, Oct. 15). Review and Herald, p. 675.
Ibid., (1902, Feb. 25). p. 122.
Fivash, Marilyn. (1982, Apr. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 8F.
Ibid. (1982, Aug. 19). p. 12F.
Hancock, J. Wayne. (1982, Apr. 1). Ibid., p. 8E.
Jones, Mike A. (1963, Jan. 28). North Pacific Union Gleaner, p. 1.
Kretz, R. L. (1950, Feb. 22). Southwestern Union Record, p. 4.