The Elizabeth community and the Methodist Church are located in the northwest corner of Crockett County, seven miles northeast of Friendship, Tenn. and three miles west of Eaton near the Forked Deer River.
In 1857-1858 Obediah Vernon and wife, Elizabeth Jane, with their five children set out from Rockingham County, North Carolina for West Tennessee. They traveled this approximately 500 miles in a covered wagon trailing cows to provide milk for their children, who were all less than seven years old. The 1860 census lists Obediah Vernon in Dyer County, Tennessee as “Overseer” for a wealthy neighbor, T. C. Mitchell. Obediah owned a cotton gin in Crockett County in 1887. In 1873 a plot of ground was purchased (and tradition says Obediah put up the necessary $50.00) on which a log church was built and the name Elizabeth was given it in honor of his wife. This church became a part of the Central Tennessee Conference. The charter members were: E. B. Curtis, Mr. and Mrs. John DeShazo, Mr. and Mrs. Obediah Vernon, Mr. and Mrs. R. F. Woodside, John Woods, Mr. and Mrs. R. N. Vernon, W. O. Vernon and Charley Vernon.
About 1903 the log building was replaced with a frame building, which was built in an “L” shape.
In 1923 a storm damaged May’s Chapel Church located a few miles away, so part of its members united with the Elizabeth Church.
In 1928 a concrete block building with a sanctuary and two classrooms replaced the frame building. After unification with the Methodist Episcopal Church South, in 1939 Elizabeth Church was transferred from the central Tennessee Conference to the Memphis Conference in the Dyersburg District on the Friendship Charge with Mt. Zion, Tigrett, and Friendship Churches. As the church grew in membership, two Sunday School rooms were added in 1953. Then, in 1963, a Fellowship Hall which also serves as classrooms was added.
The Church has been blessed in many, many ways with God calling a number of its converts to serve Him in the upbuilding of his cause and kingdom on earth. The names of those who went out to serve the Lord are: G. B. Vernon, Sr., Raymond King, Luther King, Holland Vernon, O. B. Vernon, Jr., W. D. Burke, Harry Burke, Oakley Woodside, Eugene White, John Wesley DeShazo, and Thomas Hockaday.
Pastors who have served this Church over the years are: John DeShazo, Virgil Pafford, Bro. Florence, John D. Holland, Bro. Albin, Sam Hartley, Bro. Clayborn, R. R. Smith, Bro. Fesmire, Joe Bedford, Jr., E. M. Trammel, W. L. Drake, A. L. Mayers, C. L. Frey, Joe Wofford, H. L. Bartlett, L. A. Smithmier, John Britt, Charles Brady, W. C. Howard and Lewis Walker.
In the early morning hours of April 25, 1969, the church was totally destroyed by fire. Immediate plans were made to build again a house devoted to God’s service and worship on the same location. The building committee was composed of Rev. W. C. Howard, Floyd Ferrell, Wilbia Vernon, Emmett Smith, Lloyd Young, and Bobby Stallcup. During the year it took to rebuild, the members continued faithfully to worship God in the auditorium of Friendship High School.
The present church is a beautiful brick building consisting of five large classrooms, two of which serve also as a fellowship hall, two restrooms, a vestibule, two halls and beautiful, carpeted sanctuary with open wood beams. Many pieces of furniture, all of the pews, and the organ were given in memory of loved ones. The value of the church at this date is estimated to be $70,000.00.
The new church had its Consecration services one year later on April 26, 1970, with V. H. Burnett, the District Superintendent, delivering the message.
With many donations and the cheerful giving of the members, the church debt was paid in the fall of 1973. The building was dedicated for the worship of God on May 26, 1974 and the note of indebtedness burned. The present District Superintendent, Walter Mischke, delivered the dedicatory sermon.
Those of us who have known any part of the joy of laboring to present this building to the Lord are very happy. But we are not ready to stop here; it is our hope and prayer that we can move on into greater service and continue to build for the glory of God.
The preceding article was contributed, with permission of the Crockett County Historical Society, by Natalie Huntley.
This information was compiled and written by Mrs. Wilbia Vernon and Mrs. Floyd Ferrell, and published in the book Crockett County Courthouse Centennial, 1874 – 1974, prepared by the Crockett County Historical Society.