Rex Everett Callicott

His Early Years

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

The jar shown here was for Jack’s Cookies produced in Charlotte, North Carolina. These cookies sold 2 for 1 penny (ECU, n.d.).

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

Rex Callicott at his ranch in 1980. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

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

Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

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

Aerial map of the Argyle Plantation. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

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).


Citations

(1987, Feb. 4). Jack’s Cookie Co. founder Callicott dies at age 91. State Time Advocate, p. 36.

(No date). East Carolina University Digital Collections. Retrieved from digital.lib.ecu.edu.

Ancestry Family Trees. (2019, Oct. 2). Rex Everett Callicott. Retrieved from ancestry.com.

Beeler, Charles R. (1996). A History of Seventh-day Adventists in Arkansas and Louisiana 1888-1996. Keene: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 159.

Bendall, Richard W. (1987, Mar. 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 3.

Leach. B. E. (1981, Mar. 5). Review and Herald, p. 12B.

Ibid. (1987, Mar. 13). Southwestern Union Record, pp. 8, 9.

Saap, Dexter and Latiolais, Donny. (1980, Feb. 24). Effective Pastureland Management. State Times Advocate, p. 40.

Batesville Church Organized in 1901

Volner Brockway Watts

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

Urbanus Bender

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

William and Olga Ashton. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

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).

Church and community service center built in 1960 (Evans, 1960)
Three of the charter members L to R: Louise Howard, Olga Ashton, and Lola Lewis (Record, 1982)

A New Church in 1982

Those who took part in the ground breaking, from left, Pastor Charles Kohley; Frank Forshee, in charge of construction; Barbara Swaim, charter member; Weldon Fivash, church treasurer; and Doyle Shaver, in charge of electrical work (Rucker, 1981)
Leonard Forshee, building superintendent, surveying his crew (Fivash, 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).

Batesville church on Gap Road in Batesville, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton.

Citations

(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.

Rucker, Estell. (1981, Jul. 9). Ibid., p. 12F.

Herbert Clifford Hartwell

Arkansas-Louisiana Conference President, 1933-1937

His Early Years

Herbert C. Hartwell ca. 1902 (Globe, 1908)

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

Elder H. C. Hartwell ca. 1935. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference.

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).

Retirement Years

Elder H. C. Hartwell

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).


Citations

(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.

Louisiana Seventh-day Adventist History Begins in 1884

The first known Sabbath-keeper in Louisiana was Mary A. Nugent in New Orleans who was keeping the Sabbath at least by January 1866 (Review, 1866). She was subscribing to the Review and Herald and The Youth’s Instructor as early as February 1865. In 1866, a letter Mary wrote to a friend was published in the Review thanking her for the “Prophecy of Daniel” and other books, and wishing she could be with others of “like faith” (Review, 1866). New Orleans is also the site of the organization of the first church in the state (SDA Encyclopedia, 1976).

Photo: Mary A. Nugent ca. 1870 (Ancestry, 2019).

First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Louisiana Organized in 1885

Elder Robert Meek Kilgore opens a city mission in New Orleans. Photo courtesy of the Review and Herald.

In contrast to the rural beginnings of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Arkansas, the early efforts in Louisiana centered mainly in the city of New Orleans. Upon learning of the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition that was to be held in New Orleans in 1884 to 1885, and seeing the opportunity to contact many people with the gospel, the General Conference sent Texas Conference president, Elder Robert M. Kilgore, to open a city Mission in New Orleans (Haskell, 1884). The Mission served as an International Tract Society, and included a free reading-room and a book depository which served as a distribution center for books and publications. It was located at Pitt Street between Valmont and Leontine Streets, but the following year moved to Magazine Street (Yearbook, 1887, 1888). Unlike most city missions, the New Orleans Mission had no sponsoring conference (Beeler, 1996). A few Adventist laymen came from other states and busily visited ships, depots, and hotels, distributing literature, and giving Bible studies (Owen, 1885a). When the Exposition opened, people came from all over the world to this busy port city, and an exhibit booth for Seventh-day Adventist publications was rented with hopes of spreading the gospel. After the Exposition, some who had started keeping the Sabbath left, but a few converts remained, were baptized in Lake Pontchartrain, and were organized into a church by Elder G. K. Owen. By August 1885, about fifteen people had begun to observe the Sabbath and hold regular Sabbath services in New Orleans (Owen, 1885b).

The 1884 World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition in New Orleans.

Challenges of the Work

Meanwhile, an interest was growing in Marthaville, a small city in the west central part of Louisiana (Beeler, 1996). Word of this reached Elder Thomas H. Gibbs, who had come from Kansas and at this time was leading the Mission in New Orleans. He immediately went to Marthaville and preached for about six weeks (Review, 1886). Sixteen adults took a firm stand for the Sabbath. Elder Gibbs did report some challenges, however. He said, “Pork is the principle article of diet, and tobacco—oh how the people are bound by this monster—men, women, young ladies not excepted, and small children!” (Gibbs, 1886). Another challenge in developing the work was the instability of the membership. After joining a small church, people might lose employment or suffer a crop failure and move elsewhere. Almost everywhere, the new Adventist churches with inexperienced members and infrequent pastoral visits, faced fierce anti-Adventist propaganda, which resulted in a loss of members (Beeler, 1996).

Church Growth

The principal factors contributing to church growth were annual camp meetings, canvassing, and tent crusades and the few workers in Louisiana were constantly involved in one of these methods of spreading the message. By 1887, there were two churches, New Orleans and Marthaville, neither of them very strong. Although there were only two canvassers, I. Q. Reynolds and his wife, for the entire state, they reported 1,073 visits, 124 Bible Readings given, and 116 sermons preached over a one-year period ending June 1888 (Yearbook, 1889). By the end of 1889 there were three successful companies, which were located at Shreveport, Hope Villa, and New Orleans. These were the direct result of the canvassers (Eldridge, 1890). At the General Conference proceedings in 1889, six more canvassers were asked to go to Louisiana (Yearbook, 1889). Other early churches that were established in Louisiana by 1901 when the Louisiana Conference was organized, were those in Mansfield (The Daily Signal1901) and New Orleans No. 2, a black church. Sabbath schools and companies included Bastrop, Hammond, Lake Charles, Shreveport, and Welsh.

First Seventh-day Adventist Church Built in Louisiana in 1890

Hope Villa was the first SDA church built in Louisiana. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

The first Seventh-day Adventist church built in Louisiana was at Hope Villa in 1890 on some land donated by the Broussard family (Evans, 1958; cf. Encyclopedia, 1996). This later became the Hobart church, and in 1958 the congregation became the Gonzales church.

First Seventh-day Adventist Black Church in Louisiana Organized in 1892

The first black church in the area of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference was organized at New Orleans, Louisiana, on June 4, 1892. This was the result of the work of Charles M. Kinny, a pioneer black minister, who had found six black SDA’s in the city on his arrival the preceding October (Kinny, 1892). He later reported the newly founded church as the fourth black church in the denomination and the oldest church in the Southwest Region Conference, when it was organized in 1950 (SDA Encyclopedia, 1966a). For many years this was known as the New Orleans Church No. 2. In 1946, it was voted that the term “Colored” be used in church names instead of the No. 2 designation, so this became the New Orleans Colored Church (Minutes, 1946). Black churches in Louisiana were part of the Louisiana Conference, then the Louisiana-Mississippi Conference, and later the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference until 1947.

Louisiana Conference Organized in 1901

Crowley, Louisiana, where the Louisiana Conference was organized. Crowley was about thirty miles from Welsh, the nearest church.

The first Louisiana SDA camp meeting was held in a grove outside the city limits of Alexandria in July 1898. A second camp meeting followed in 1899 at Welsh, Louisiana, and a third in 1900 at Marthaville. Louisiana was listed as a mission field of the General Conference until the fourth camp meeting, held in Crowley in 1901. Crowley was chosen because the Adventist message was new to the area, so meetings continued after camp meeting ended. Members came from Welsh, Marthaville, Mansfield, Shreveport, Hope Villa, Lake Charles, and New Orleans. It was at the conference session at Crowley that the Louisiana Conference was organized and became part of the Southern Union Conference. The conference headquarters were in New Orleans, with the official beginning date August 1, 1901 (Horton, 1901). At that time there were six churches and one company, 178 members, and two ordained ministers (Statistical Report, 1901). Camp meeting continued to be held every year except in 1902 when it was thought best to postpone camp meeting and the conference session until after harvest, and in 1905 when it was cancelled due to an outbreak of yellow fever (Review, 1905).

(Daily Signal, 1901)

Headquarters for the Work

The General Conference recognized that New Orleans, as the “commercial and cultural center of the South” and the “gateway to Central and South America” needed to have a stronger denominational presence than just a local conference office and a couple of small churches. In 1905, the General Conference, the Southern Union Conference, and the Louisiana Conference joined together to purchase a two-story twelve-room house at 810 Jackson Avenue in New Orleans. The building was to house offices for the General Conference Transportation Department for missionaries arriving and departing, and the Religious Liberty Department. Southern Publishing Association maintained a book depository there and a missionary training class used part of the building (Beeler, 1996). The local church met there from 1907 to 1912 and both a black school and a white school met in the building from 1916 to 1920 (Times-Democrat, 1907; Yearbook, 1917-1920).


Citations

See arklasdahistory.org for citations.

George Charles Dart

George Charles Dart, who served as principal of Ozark Adventist Academy from 1996-2002, died March 3, 2012, in Loma Linda, California. Born July 8, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, Elder Dart served the church for more than 50 years as pastor, educator and administrator. He is survived by his second wife, Connie Stewart Dart (his first wife, Naomi Vartenuk, pre-deceased Dart in 1996); four children, Chuck (Sherri), Cheri (Alan), Jed (Lee Lee) and Jolene (Kent); and grandchildren Chad, Kristi, Caroline and Heidi.

Elder Dart started his ministry in Sandusky, Ohio, where he was a singing evangelist. He later became pastor of the Mansfield church and Bible teacher at Mt. Vernon Academy. In 1957, Elder Dart became principal of Blue Mountain Academy in Pennsylvania. In 1964, Elder Dart was called to Texas to pastor the Keene church, and then served as president of the Texas Conference. In 1975, he became principal of Milo Academy in Oregon and eventually superintendent of schools for the Oregon Conference.

“Papa” Dart as he was known by the Ozark Adventist Academy students.

After his retirement, Elder Dart served as principal of Ozark Adventist Academy. In 1986, Elder Dart accepted a call to be president of the Southern California Conference, where he served until he retired again in 1993. This retirement was short-lived, as he accepted a call to again serve as principal of Milo Academy. Two years later, Elder Dart moved to Ozark Adventist Academy, to serve again as principal. When he finally retired for good in 2002, Elder Dart and Connie moved to her hometown of Parkersburg, West Virginia, where he volunteered at the local church. In 2005, the Darts returned to California.

Louisiana-Mississippi Conference Organized

Capitol Street in downtown Jackson, Mississippi.

On December 8, 1920, delegates of both Louisiana and Mississippi met for an organizational meeting at which they voted to unite the two states into a new conference beginning January 1, 1921, with headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi (Cole, 1920). Louisiana brought thirteen churches, 673 members, four ordained and two licensed ministers, eight teachers, and seven church schools (Encyclopedia, 1996). Mississippi brought seventeen churches, 471 members, four ordained ministers, and four teachers (Yearbook, 1921). Elder W. R. Elliott was called from the Tennessee River Conference to the presidency of the new Louisiana-Mississippi Conference (Worker, 1920). Most of the growth over the next eleven years was in the city churches. Small town and rural church growth fluctuated frequently with very little significant change in number of members.