The Poetry Baptist Church is the oldest Baptist Church in Kaufman County. Situated in a community near the Hunt County line, the church as an organization has had a continuous existence from 1855 to the present time. The church during its history has undergone a change of name, as has the community in which it is located. The area near the church location was formerly known as Turner’s Point. Before the coming of the railroads to Kaufman County port-Dallas Road. Here was the only center of business activity for a radius of about twenty-five miles.
Turner’s Point had its beginnings in 1845 when President Anson Jones of the Republic of Texas granted to Elisha Turner a league and labor of land (4,400 acres) for services rendered in the Texas War for Independence. Elisha Turner and his four married children settled on this land, and later sold small tracts to other families.
In about 1880 the Post Office Department required a change of names, and Turner’s Point became Poetry. The Poetry Baptist Church is the same organization as the early day Salem Church at Turner’s Point. Poetry is not mentioned as the post office of the church until the minutes of East Fork Baptist Association for the year 1880. In that year the church is designated as Salem Church at Poetry. The name Salem is used each year until the minutes of 1899, when, for the first time, Poetry Baptist Church is mentioned. From this date on for a few years the church is listed sometimes as Salem and sometimes as Poetry Baptist Church through 1909.
Nothing can be found that gives informa- tion about any early building site owned by Salem Church. Probably the church met in homes or in borrowed quarters during the Turner’s Point era. The deed to the present property bears the date of 1886. The existing frame building is the second church structure on the site, the older members agree that it was built about 1912.
Much of the history of the earliest years is lost. The church has no records dated before 1916. A search of early day associational minutes reveals nothing. If the church affiliated itself with any organized denomina- tional work, no record of such has been found. Beginning with the year 1868, recorded history traces the church rather well down to the present time.
In 1868 the Elm Fork Association met with the Spring Creek Church (now Plano) in Collin County. The minutes for that year show that three messengers from Salem Baptist Church of Turner’s Point presented a petitionary letter asking affiliation with the association. The messengers were S. B. Penry, B. T. Hudman and F. J. Reese. The church at that time was pastorless. The membership numbered twenty-nine and the fourth Sunday in the month was their regular day of meeting.
In 1900 Poetry Baptist Church was host to East Fork Association. However, in the statistical table the church is listed under the name of Salem. There are a few “old timers” who remember this stormy session, or re- member of having heard about it. For some years tension had been increasing in the Baptist General Convention of Texas, due to the agitation of Dr. S. A. Hayden. A new state body opposed to the convention has been organized and both district associations and local churches were being slit by the opposing forces. East Fork Association would soon be a victim to the stress of the times. At the session of the association, Dr. J. B. Gambrell and Dr. S. A. Hayden exchanged verbal blows that are still remembered.
J. W. Williford served longer than any other pastor with a total of eight years. Mrs. W. 1. Pemberton served as church clerk for 25 vears beginning in 1927. The church reached it’s peak in membership in 1886. One hundred thirty-five mem- hers forty-eight additions by baptism and twenty by letter. For most of the church’s history, once a month preaching has been the rule. In 1916 the church advanced to twice a month, but this was not permanent. It was in 1942 that twice a month preaching became established. In 1954 association minutes every Sunday preaching is indicated, and this has been the practice until the present time.