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Nance Church of Christ and the Nance Community (History)

In 1875, William W. Nance donated one acre of land on the southeast corner of present-day Nance Road and Tennessee Highway 152 for the construction of a school building for children in the Nance, Quincy, and Cairo communities. The school was first known as Nance Academy.

Worship services in the academy building began in 1890 with Sylvester Green, Jim Jones, Martin Nance, Smith Randle and their families in attendance.

In 1905, the academy building burned. In 1907, a new school building, constructed on the same site, was completed and worship services began again. Among families attending services at this time were those of Henry Conley, Will Corbett, Will Hunt, Jim Pittman, Smith Randle, Edd Stallings, and Frank Yearwood.

In 1913, the church appointed Dee Colvett, Will Hunt, and Smith Randle as its first elders. Due to increasing membership, the congregation soon decided to construct a building specifically designed for worship services. In 20 minutes, $1,600 was raised for the purpose. Claude Laman donated one acre of land directly across Nance Road from the school and a new, white-frame church building was completed in 1916.

This building was destroyed by a windstorm in 1933. It was rebuilt the following year but then was destroyed by fire in 1938. In 1939, the congregation completed work on a modern, red-brick structure with a large auditorium. In 1951, four classrooms were added at the rear of the building. (According to Jenny Gordon, the church was destroyed in 1938 by wind, not fire. She was a student at the time at the school across the road)

On a rainy Monday afternoon, April 29, 1963, the Nance community was devastated by a deadly tornado. The storm, approaching from the west, first touched down northeast of Maury City. Entering the Nance community at approximately 6:10 p.m., the storm killed three people, injured several others, completely destroyed 14 homes, and severely damaged the few homes left standing. The tornado demolished the Nance Community Center, site of the Crockett County Fair, located in the former school building.

The church building also was destroyed. Quickly, plans were made to rebuild the structure and work commenced the following summer on a new place of worship. At the invitation of the Alamo Church of Christ, the Nance congregation held services in the former Alamo church building on East Main Street while the new structure was being built.

The present Nance church building, of A-frame design, contains a spacious auditorium, seven classrooms, a baptistry, and children’s nursery. It was dedicated on April 19, 1964, with 501 members and friends in attendance. In 1993, a fellowship hall was added on the building’s south side.

Bro. W. A. Bradfield of Henderson, Tennessee, began serving the congregation as minister on a part-time basis in the 1950s. In 1965, Bro. Wendell Bloomingburg of Henderson began the church’s first full-time ministry. Bro. Logan Lewis of Humboldt and Bro. Bill Mitchusson of Jackson have served since then with Bro. Mitchusson being the congregation’s current minister.

The church has been an ardent supporter of Christian education through the years, in particular, the educational mission of Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson. Several young people from the congregation have attended FHU as well as other Christian colleges such as Lipscomb University in Nashville, the Memphis School of Preaching in Memphis, Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, and Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City.

The church also has supported such endeavors as the Mid-South Youth Camp in Henderson, children’s homes in Tennessee and Arkansas, and foreign missionary work in Aruba, Puerto Rico, Pakistan, Australia, Brazil, and other countries.

Today, Nance is one of 12 congregations of the Churches of Christ in Crockett County– the others being Alamo, Bells, Cairo, Cherryville Road in Bells, Cox’s Chapel in Coxville, Crossroads, Friendship, Gadsden, Koonce Street in Alamo, Lincoln Street in Alamo, and Maury City.

Nance Cemetery was established in 1935 just south of the church building on land donated by the Claude Laman family. The first burial, that of David F. Stallings, took place on June 5, 1936.

Over the next 50 years, many of the burial lots were spoken for and additional space was needed. In 1985, one additional acre of land adjoining the cemetery on its south side was donated to the community by Fred Colvett, Daniel Boone, Gene Castleman, Lonnie Colvett, and Jones Warren.

The oldest person buried at Nance is Zilphia Ann Ray, who was born October 4, 1860, and died August 3, 1951. Four other persons born in the 1860s also are buried there: James A. Pittman (1862-1952), Ellen Ann Pittman (1866-1948), William Dallas Thornton (1868-1950), and William H. Turner (1869-1956).

Twenty veterans of U. S. wars are buried in the cemetery including two veterans of World War I: John S. Pittman (1894-1993) and Sol B. Reece (1896-1983). World War II veterans buried at Nance include Daniel A. Boone (1910-1998), Frazier Churchwell (1923-1944), Horace Clinton Colvett (1907-1990), William Larimore Colvett (1916-1944), Otha Conley (1911-1992), Glen Warren Corbett (1924-1990), Freddie Dorance Hunt (1925-1964), Herbert M. Jones (1924-1998), Jim Henry Moore (1919-1989), George Joseph Nyland (1924-1987), Charles Hart Rice (1923-1990), Ellis Leon Rice (1922-1987), Paul Taylor Rice (1926-1945), Clarence E. Stallings (1901-1972), Horace O. Stallings (1910-1961), Paul Stallings (1915-1944), Philip Williams (1916-1985), and Willis Wilson Williams (1924-1991). In addition to his service in World War II, Daniel Boone was a veteran of the Korean Conflict and George Nyland served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

Four of the World War II soldiers buried at Nance were killed in action during the war: Frazier Churchwell, Larimore Colvett, Paul Taylor Rice, and Paul Stallings. Charles Leon Hunt (1923-1944), another young man from the Nance community, also died during World War II. A memorial marker for Leon has been placed in the cemetery although he is buried in Belgium.

In addition to the soldiers mentioned above, five other young men from the Nance community also died in combat during World War II– but are buried in other local cemeteries. They are David Marion Cotton, buried at Friendship Cemetery; Andrew Emison, buried at Alamo Cemetery; Billy Austin Harber and Everett Lewis Rogers, both buried at Crockett Mills Cemetery; and Tommy Redmond, buried at Providence Cemetery.

Today, there are 237 persons buried in Nance Cemetery. Surnames found most often include Hunt (16), Rice (16), Williams (15), Parker (10), and Turner (10). It is believed that there are no unmarked graves in the cemetery. The original plot map still exists and is maintained by the church.

This history is dedicated to the late Lynn Colvett of Alamo who provided much of the information in the establishment of the Nance community, church, and cemetery.

By Jeff Reece