Irving Meek Evans was born on March 12, 1897, in Belmont, Ohio, to Anna May and William Clark Evans. He was the fifth of ten children, four girls and six boys. On September 15, 1915, Irving was united in marriage to Estella Mae Long. They had two daughters, Dorothy Virginia Evans and Mary Louise Evans (Ancestry, 2020).
Years of Ministry
For more than forty years Elder Evans served in various fields of leadership including field secretary in Ohio, New York, and the Southern Union, president of the Georgia-Cumberland conference and the Alabama-Mississippi conference, coming to the Arkansas-Louisiana conference in September 1954, where he served for the next nine years. During his administration many buildings and churches were erected. At Ozark Academy the dormitories known as Baker Hall and I. M. Evans Hall were completed. A new office building was completed and the headquarters of the conference moved from Little Rock to Shreveport (Times, 1975).
Retiring in 1964, Elder Evans was the longest-serving Arkansas-Louisiana conference president up to that time. Elder Evans and his wife moved to their place of retirement in Asheville, North Carolina (Minutes, 1963). Following a brief illness, Elder Evans passed away at his home on November 8, 1975.
(1947, Feb. 14). Conference Officers Elected by Adventists. Asheville Citizen-Times, p. 9.
In the 1930s, the church’s work was suffering from severe reductions in tithe and other income brought about by the Great Depression. The 1931 Fall Council of the General Conference Committee that met in Omaha, Nebraska, suggested extensive administrative and territorial changes in several unions across the United States. These changes reduced the number of Union conferences in North America from twelve to eight and the number of local conferences from fifty-eight to forty-eight (Record, 1932). It was at this time that Louisiana and its members and churches were transferred to the Southwestern Union Conference and joined Arkansas on February 23, 1932 (Ruf, 1932). Leaders in the Southern Union had visited about eighty-five percent of the Louisiana members, explaining the change to them. Although the members said they were willing to accept it, the change was still very difficult for them (Review, 1932). Elder R. P. Montgomery who was the Arkansas Conference president was designated president of the new organization until he took a call to Texico in June 1932, and Elder W. H. Heckman was called to take his place. Elder Heckman presided over the process of making the two states into one conference. In the new Arkansas-Louisiana Conference there were thirty-three churches, with 2,078 members, nine ordained ministers, three licentiates, eighteen teachers, and eleven colporteurs (Yearbook, 1933).
Arkansas-Louisiana Conference Rally Song
(1932, Mar. 2). Southwestern Union Record, pp. 1-4, 9, 12, 14-20.
(1932, Apr. 7). Review and Herald, p. 17.
(1933) Yearbook of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination. Washington, D. C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
Hartwell, Mrs. H. C. (1936, Feb. 19). Southwestern Union Record, p. 3.
William Harold “Bill” Elder was born on January 14, 1917, on a farm in Salina, Kansas to William Henry and Una Elizabeth Elder. Bill grew up as one of eight children. He was the third oldest of six boys and two girls (Ancestry, 2019). Bill attended public school in Saline County, Kansas. When he was around sixteen years of age he decided he wanted to be a pastor, but he didn’t have money to go to school. He worked as a cashier at a grocery store for two years and drove a taxi for a year to earn money for college. Elder waited a few years before going to college, then spent three years at Southwestern Junior College in Keene, Texas (Elder, 2018).
Bill met his wife, Mary Lee Eaton, in Keene, Texas, at Southwestern Union College. They married on September 6, 1942, in Sebastian County, Arkansas. After they married, he attended Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, and then graduated with a bachelor’s degree in religion from Pacific Union College in Napa Valley (Elder, 2018). The Elders, had two daughters, Donna and Mona. Bill and his family moved to Alexandria, Louisiana, where their ministerial work began (Record, 2010).
Years of Ministry
After Louisiana, the Elders moved to Arkansas and then to Pueblo, Colorado, and Lincoln, Nebraska. The Elders were invited to the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference to head the Departments of Sabbath School, Religious Liberty and Communications (Record, 2010). Five years later, they moved to Pennsylvania for six months, and he was departmental director in the Northern Union Conference. From that position he became the president of the North Dakota Conference. He moved from North Dakota to Shreveport in 1974 to become the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference president. In 1982, Elder Elder, as he was called, decided it was time to retire (Elder, 2018).
The Elders moved to Redlands, where he spent four years as the wills and trust director of the Quiet Hour. After leaving the Quiet Hour, Elder began writing the first of two books, in 1988. The book, Hearts in Harmony, centers around Samuel, Jonathan and David, from the Bible.“It’s a trilogy and how their lives intertwined and intersected,” Elder said. “It makes a wonderful story.” A second book was written in response to author Christopher Hitchens, who wrote a book called God Is Not Great. I read it twice and I decided to answer it,” Elder said. He wrote his book God Is Exceedingly Great, in two years (Elder, 2018).
The Elders, celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary in September, 2018. They had been members of Banning Seventh-day Adventist Church for sixteen years. Bill preached a sermon in the Banning SDA Church on his 100th Birthday and also on his 101st Birthday (Elder, 2018). Elder Elder passed away on December 22, 2018, in Loma Linda, California, just three weeks short of his 102nd birthday (Ancestry, 2019). He served a total of twenty-two years in the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.
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.
Herbert Clifford Hartwell was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 7, 1876, to Fanny Charlotte Hurst and Wilbur Fiske Hartwell. Herbert was the oldest of six children (Ancestry, 2021). He became a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1899 and entered the colporteur work. Herbert attended school at South Lancaster, Massachusetts, then began his ministerial work in 1901 in the Central New England Conference (Worker, 1960). On June 4, 1902, he was united in marriage with Sarah “Sadie” Elisabeth Jones, and to this union four children were born: Raymond Herbert Hartwell, Anna Pearl Hartwell, Hazel Fanny Hartwell, and Donald Clifford Hartwell (Ancestry, 2021).
Years of Service
Herbert C. Hartwell was ordained in 1905. Elder Hartwell became president of the Central New England Conference in 1909. When that conference was divided in 1910, Elder Hartwell served as the president of the newly formed Massachusetts Conference. Elder Hartwell served as president of the Western New York Conference from 1914 to 1916, then became president of the Eastern New York Conference. Elder H. C. Hartwell served as the Missouri Conference president from 1920 until 1933, when he became the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference president (Yearbooks, 1909-1937). Because of failing health Elder Hartwell retired in 1937, after more than 28 years of administrative responsibilities (Worker, 1960).
In 1938, he and Sadie located in Florida where he served as district leader for six years, after which he continued to visit in some 40 churches of the Florida Conference (Worker, 1960). In 1957, Herbert lost his wife of 55 years. He married Mabel Lee Head in September 1958 (Ancestry, 2021).
(1908, Jan. 18). The Tabernacle. Fall River Globe, p. 2.
(1909 – 1937) Yearbook of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination. Washington, D. C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
(1960, Feb. 17). Southern Union Worker, p. 17.
Ancestry.com. (2014, Sep. 21). Sarah ‘Sadie’ Elisabeth Jones. Retrieved from ancestry.com.
Ibid. (2021, May 19). Herbert Clifford Hartwell. Retrieved from ancestry.com.