A Genealogy Miscellany Henderson County III
Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith
Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 2001


(Page 62)

            Clarks Creek Primitive Baptist Church is one of the oldest Christian congregations in west Tennessee. It was an outgrowth, an "arm" to use the old-time term, of Middle Fork Primitive Baptist Church constituted August 12, 1823, in a location still in Henderson County. Several of the members there, the Arnolds and Shackelfords, were among the charter members of Clarks Creek Church. (The church's first minute book, page 6; in custody of Houston Carroll, present church clerk, Henderson, through whose courtesy the present writer was able to study the minutes for this sketch; hereafter cited as Min Bk l.)

            Location of the first meetinghouse and oldest burial ground at Clarks Creek:



(Page 63)

            For its first ten years this congregation met in a hewn log house constructed by John Vanlandingham on land owned by Jonathan Crook. In the summer of 1836 the membership decided that rather than repair this house they would accept the use of the frame building on Jacks Creek offered them by the school "public" commissioners, utilizing an arrangement common to that time use of a single building as a school and meetinghouse. This move was made in autumn of 1836. Vanlandingham allowed the old meetinghouse to be sold, which it was, for five dollars. (Min Bk l, pages 7, 8, 9)

            The congregation wanted to retain the land whereon the old meetinghouse stood because they had used some of it as a cemetery. "Brother Jonathan Crook agrees to make a title to the land whereon the meeting house now stands, according to former survey of sd. land and the title to be given to the officers of the church." (October 1836) (IBID., page 8) "Brother Jonathan Crook agreeable to promise at our last October meeting now makes this church a title to the land whereon this meeting house stands containing ten acres more or less." (May 1837) (IBID., page 10)

            In 1842 the congregation relinquished occupancy of the Jacks Creek building and moved into a new meetinghouse back off Clarks Creek; they took with them the pews used for several years, made by Jonathan Crook for which he was paid, moving them in mid-December of that year. Members James Hendrix, James Dodds, Jonathan Crook, Samuel Baker and Peter J. Cotton supervised the furnishing of the new meetinghouse. (IBID., pages 42-43)

            An improved meetinghouse was built by John Sanders, on the same location, in 1851, the congregation awarding him a bonus for having done extra work thereon. (IBID., page 103) The house was soon underpinned with rocks and weatherboarded.

            Charles Riddle was an early pastor as was Elder James Beaver, who with his second wife and family moved to Texas, asking for a letter of dismission in August 1857 (IBID., page 124). In November 1860 a committee of churchmen wrote a letter of commendation for Beaver to the church in Texas where he was then worshipping. (IBID., page 137) Jonathan Crook and his wife, Lucy, had gotten crosswise with the membership and were excluded but years later there was enough of a reconciliation that the Crooks received a proper letter of dismission in October 1856 (IBID., page 122). Shadrach Weaver, a church deacon, was given a letter of dismission at his request in November 1846 (IBID., page 78). People were coming and going as members in small numbers over the years.

            In February 1845, John M. Hart and John C. Trice, valued members, were authorized to clear a "right to the land" whereon the meetinghouse was located, with Richard Shackelford, on an occupant claim, so that a land grant could be cleared for it. (IBID., pages 65-66) This four acre tract was duly entered June 20, 1845, surveyed March 25, 1845 and issued as a land grant January 6, 1846. (West Tennessee Land Grant Book 2, page 562) This land was located in Surveyors District 9, Range 3, Section 7; for the specific location, see the map on page 35, this publication.

            In the church minute book, July 17, 1864 was recorded, "In consequence of our meeting house having been burnt by Federal soldiers" the congregation had to meet in the homes of members, specifically that of Nancy Allen, a devout member of this church. This was the arrangement until about 1867 when a frame house was erected on the same site. (Min Bk l, page 143)

            The old cemetery was maintained and used for many years although some of the membership buried their dead in family graveyards. In December 1923 the congregation bought an acre of land further to the south, at its present location, and the meetinghouse was rolled by logs to this new site. (Chester County Deed Book 30, pages 506-507; recorded March 1924) Further acreage was bought adjoining this parcel in March 1946 (IBID. Deed Book 43, pages 81-82; recorded March 30, 1946) The old cemetery had been largely abandoned by the turn of the century; a new cemetery is located on the church grounds of the 1923/46 land purchase.

           The Clarks Creek congregation affiliated with several other Primitive Baptists to form the Predestinarian Association in 1827 in which it remains to this day. The association met several times at Clarks including October 6-8, 1844 and September 25-27, 1870.


(Page 64)

            At the Association meeting held at Rocky Spring; Meetinghouse, in Madison County, October 6-8, 1838 the member congregations and messengers, i.e. delegates, were listed:

Clarks Creek, Elder C. Riddle, J.. Beaver, P. J. Cotton
Termons Creek, Elder E. Deacon, R. T. Patton, J. Beshears
Flat Creek, J. Shepherd, M. Scott, J. Smith
Cedar Grove, B. Murphey, J. W. Edwards
Friendship, No representation
Beth Pier, No representation
Middle Fork, C. T. Echols, J. Thomas
Rocky Spring, Elder J. C. Autrey, B. Robertson, W. Kendrick
Mud Creek, Elder W. Bridges, G. W. Grant, W. Hood
Rushings Creek, J. Barbour, J. White, J. Wyatt
Cub Creek, B. Epperson, A. Menzies
Shilo, Elder T. Hicks, G. Rogers
Pleasant Hill, W. Herndon, S. Wood, S. Altom

            The Association affiliates in 1861:

Larger image available


            As for the oldest membership lists, on page one of the minute book one, are those members who were slaves:

            Simon, servant of Isaac Stone, was admitted to membership, July 1844 (page 61) Patsy, a servant of A. McGee and Mariah, servant of "Mr. "Hart, were admitted as members, June 1851 (page 101). The slave Dorcas, was excluded in July 1836; restored in July 1838; early in January 1843 she ran away from her master, according to her for the reason that she wished to join her husband, for which she was excluded in February 1843 (page 45).


(Page 65)

Page 2 of Minute Book 1

            A list of the male members belonging to Clarks Creek Church transcribed from the old church book this September 1836.

CHARLES RIDDLE dismissed by letter September term 1840
JAMES DODDS Deceased this life December 1843
JOHN WHITE Excluded Oct. term 1840
GEORGE SHIPMAN dismissed December 1836
JONATHAN CROOK Excluded June 1839
SAMUEL BAKER Dismissed by letter
DAVID ATTOWAY Dismissed by letter December 1841
ANDREW GILBREATH Dismissed by letter Dec. term 1839
MOSES H. ALLEN Dismissed by letter December 18141
SHADRACH WILLIAMS Dismissed by letter Oct. term 1836
WESLEY WILLIAMS Excluded August term 1840
PETER J. COTTEN Excluded June term 1839
JOHN CONE Decd. September 1845
EASTON WEST Excluded November 183 (left blank)
JAMES STENNET Excluded June term 1843
WILLIAM RIDDLE Dismissed by letter Oct. 1839
JOEL GRISWELL Excluded June term 1839
SHADRICK WEVER Received by letter
JAMES LEDBETTER By letter January 1842
TERELL DUNCAN By letter May 1842
THOMAS WHEATLEY By letter May 1842
JOHN SANDERS June 1842 by experience
RICHARD SHACKELFORD June 15, 1842 experience


Page 3 of Minute Book 1

Broth. JOHN M. HART Received by letter April 1843
Dismissed P. J. COTTON and his wife LOUISA by letter October term 1843
SAMUEL BAKER Dismissed by letter November 1843
P. J. COTTON Dismissed by letter November 1843
Brother SHADRACH WEAVER Dis. by letter November term 1846
Brother TURIL C. DUNKIN Dis. by letter Nov. term 1846


Page 4 of Minute Book 1

            A list of the female members belonging to Clarks Creek Church transcribed from the records of the old church book September 1836.

MILBERRY RIDDLE Dismissed by letter September term 1840
RACHAL WHITE Dismissed by letter June term 1840
PEGGY SHIPMAN Dismissed December 1836
LUCY CROOK Excluded June term 1839
MARY GILBREATH Dismissed by letter December term 1839
ELIZABETH WILLIAMS Dismissed by letter Oct. term 1836
MARTHA DODDS Excluded Oct. term 1840
PEGGY BURTON Excluded June term 1839


(Page 66)

MARY ARNOLD Excluded March term 1840
MARY BARNES Dismissed by letter
PERMELA JOHNSON Dismissed September term 1839
LEVINIA CO'ITEN Excluded June term 1839
SARAH CONE Dead September 1844
MARTHA THOMAS Dismissed by letter
POLLY WOODRUFF Dismissed by letter December term 1839
MARY ANN SHACKELFORD Died March the 15th 1837
HANNAH HODGE Excluded May term 1839


Page 5 of' Minute Book 1

NANCY ARNOLD Excluded June term 1843 (page 49)
CATHARINE WEST Excluded December 1838
_____(blank) GUINN Excluded September 1838
PHEBE NEAL Dismissed by letter December 1836
NANCY J. COTTEN Dismissed by letter February 1842
EMELY RIDDLE Dismissed by letter October term 1839
ELIZABETH ALLEN Dismissed by letter Oct. term 1840
ELIZABETH GRISWELL Excluded April term 1840
MARTHA BEARD Dismissed by letter January term 1840
REBECCA GREEN Received by letter 1840 (page 32)
MILLA WHEATLEY Recd. by letter May term 1842
MARY TUCKER Recd. by letter May term 1842 & Dismissed by letter
Received Sister ELIZABETH HART by letter April 1843
Received Sister NICY F. HENDRIX by experience
LAVINA COTTON Dismissed by letter November 1843
SUSAN SANDERS Received by letter


            Note: Whatever minutes were kept from 1826 until September 1836 were apparently discarded as per these entries on page 7:


(Page 67)

            Note: When the agent of the Weston A. Goodspeed Company was visiting locally he heard about the oldtimers' recollections concerning Elder Charles Riddle; that he was a "Hard-Shell /Primitive/ Baptist preacher and a celebrated hunter. As game became more scarce he moved to Mississippi where it was more abundant."(W. A. Goodspeed, HISTORY OF TENNESSEE, Chester County, 1887, page 807)


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