Skip to main content

A. J. Holt Collection

Identifier: A-0303

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of a song about Nacogdoches and and a miscellaneous speech.


  • Event: Donated before 1974

Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Adoniram Judson Holt, the first pastor of the First Baptist Church of Elgin, wrote the story of his life in a book titled 'Pioneering in the Southwest.' He was born in 1847, the son of Aaron Holt, a Yankee school teacher, and Miriam Buckner Holt, the sister of R.C. Buckner who started Buckner's Orphans Home in Texas. His parents separated while he was quite young and he lived in the home of his Buckner grandparents in Kentucky. His mother taught school and in 1858 decided that she and A. J. would move to Texas.

She settled in Red River County, Texas, and taught school there. When the Civil War started, A. J. fought for the Confederacy one year, had typhoid fever and was sent home in a weakened condition. When he recovered he went to Louisiana and worked in a book store and married the daughter of his boss. She was 16 and he was 19. He was converted and joined a Baptist Church and felt he was called to preach.

In the winter of 1869, the family made a trip in an ox wagon to Harris County, Texas where Mrs. Holt and children stayed with her sister while A. J. took the H. and T. C. railroad train to go as far as it went; then the stage to Perryville in Bastrop County. There he found a church without a pastor and was called to be pastor one Sunday out of the month. Going on to Webberville he was also called there for one Sunday out of the month and, also, at the Bethlehem Church, which was located out of the present Manor. Since the country churches did not pay their pastors enough to live, he taught school in Webberville. In 1873 his wife died, leaving two young children, so he wrote his mother to come live with him and help care for the children. The fact that he was now a widower caused many problems. He decided that he must get away so he asked his mother to keep the children while he went to South Carolina to a seminary. He was gone eight months and when he returned he wrote, “I cannot begin to estimate the everlasting benefit I derived from this session at the seminary. I learned more in the eight months than I had in the previous eight years of my ministry. When I returned to Webberville that old church organizer, Elder Noah Turner Byars, asked me to preach at the organization of a new church.”

Though Holt’s biography does not specify that it was the Elgin church that was organized, N. T. Byars was the organizer at that time and the 1910 ‘Courier’ tells that Holt was the pastor after organization. He would remain the pastor for about a year. In 1876 he began mission work among the Seminole Indians. At the 1886 State Baptist Convention in Waco he was elected State Superintendent of Missions, a position he later held in Tennessee. When A. J. Holt died in 1933, he was buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery, Arcadia, Florida. He was a Knights Templar Mason, joining at the age of 21. It is said that he memorized the entire New Testament, and his name was in the Who’s Who in America in 1933-34.

His two pastorates of the First Baptist Church in Nacogdoches were 1891-1893 and 1902·1905.


Davis, Nell. "1st Baptist Church Elgin Texas History."

Graham, Bolus Joseph Windsor, Editor. “Rev. A. J. Holt.” Baptist Biography (no.1, 1917), 201-204. Accessed March 19, 2018.

Holt, A. J. (1971) "A Brief History of Union Baptist Church (Old North Church)," East Texas Historical Journal: Vol. 9: Iss. 1, Article 8. Accessed February 22, 2018.

________. 'Pioneering in the Southwest.' Nashville: Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1923.

________. 'Miriam Heth: A Tale of the Times of Christ.' New York: John B. Alden, 1891.

Holt, A. J., et al. “Advertisement for Boscobel College." 'The Olympian' (vol.2, no.1), 117. Accessed March 19, 2018.

Parmer, William Tellis. 'Seventy-five Years in Nacogdoches, A History of the First Baptist Church, 1884-1959.' Dallas: The Dorsey Company, 1959.


0.05 Cubic Feet


This collection consists of two items described in one folder and housed with other collections in a banker's box.

Guide to the A. J. Holt Collection
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the East Texas Research Center Repository