Tennessee Records Repository

Decatur Co. TN

Religion and The People

Chapter VI

From Lillye Younger, The History of Decatur County Past and Present (Southhaven, MS: Carter Printing Company, 1978).
Special thanks to Constance Collett for permission to make these web pages.

In Memory of Lillye Washburn Younger 1912-1998.

Thanks to www.tnyesterday.com for contributing this transcription.

Probably the most cherished liberty enjoyed by the American people is that of worshiping as they please. The United States Constitution forbids Congress to deprive people of that liberty.

Religion has made a tremendous impact upon people down through the ages. The most savage tribes of North American Indians had their religions as did the wildest tribes of Africa. These religions were seldom connected with morals. Some Indians believed the ‘Great Spirit' wished them to be cruel.[1]

When the early settlers came across the mountains into Tennessee there was a dire need for the teaching of the Bible. However, many did not think so. There were lawless elements who respected nothing but superior force.

The first minister known to have preached in the Tennessee Country was Reverend Charles Cummings, a Presbyterian, who preached to the people in the Holston Valley as early as 1772.[2] It is interesting as to how he protected himself from the lawless group. He went to services armed with a rifle and plenty of powder and lead.

The first church built in Tennessee was probably in Sullivan County not far from Blountville before 1777.

It was no accident that the Presbyterians took the lead in religious work. Many of their leaders were graduates of Princeton College, later Princeton University. The early preachers taught as well as preached.

Even though the Presbyterian got that early start, the Baptist and Methodist grew much more rapidly. The reason was that the Presbyterians insisted that their ministers be well educated.[3]

At that time, it was different with Baptists. They did not insist upon educated preachers. If God called an uneducated man, it was not required that he be educated. Too, Baptist Churches were individual churches at that time.

The Presbyterian church belonged to an organization known as a presbytery, which controlled the ministers and the erecting of new churches.

The Methodist church was organized in America long after the Baptist and Presbyterian. There were very few Methodists in the Thirteen Colonies when the Revolutionary War began, but they started organizing. Their number increased tremendously during the next few years. The first Circuit-rider in Tennessee was Jeremiah Lambert. In 1783, he was appointed to ride the "Holston Circuit".[4]

They rode from community to community putting up at anyone's house where they were made welcome and preaching the gospel in brush arbors, barns, under a tree, or it might be a church, but rarely. Aside from the Bible and other books, they carried little as they traveled the countryside on horseback. Their chief concern was to preach the gospel and to win souls for Christ. Despite the fact that they oft-times buried themselves in the wilderness in pioneer days, they became servants who made Tennessee the stronghold of Methodism in the South.

From the work of these Circuit Riders stemmed the "Camp Meetings". These servants preached to very small groups where ever they stopped and as they told one group of another group they had a desire to meet. Thus, spiraled "Camp Meeting" during the summer.

The first "Camp-Meeting" recorded was about 1800.[5] Families came via wagons, buggies, horseback or on foot, bringing their food and clothing for the week or two.

When the idea took on, it developed into what they called a "Great Revival". Methodist. Baptist and Presbyterians joined together to win souls for Christ.

The principal church denominations in Decatur County in 1887 were the Methodist Episcopal South, the Missionary Baptist and the Cumberland Presbyterian. The Methodists were in the Decaturville Circuit, the Jackson District and the Memphis Conference.[6]

There were eight (8) churches organized in this Circuit and four local preachers served them. The 1885 report shows there were 755 members belonging to this circuit. Among the earliest churches of the denomination was Gray's Chapel which was constructed in 1853. The trustees at that time were W.T. Brasher, William Ivy, William Brigance, Henry Jackson, Thomas Mays, William L. McKenzie and Phillip Ivy [7]. New Liberty was built on the land of Curtis O'Neal in 1855. The trustees at the time of construction were LB. Stanfield, Lewis Garrett, S. Singleton, Henry Singleton, and Joseph Kelly. Aside from these churches the additional churches were constructed after the Civil War.

A Cumberland Presbyterian Church constructed at Liberty was built in 1958 [sic.] and the trustees of the church at that time were W.G. Rushing and John W. Bennett. Liberty had a membership of thirty-six (36). [Note: This is Campground Cumberland Presbyterian Church.]

The oldest and strongest denomination in the county at this time was the Missionary Baptist.

Mt. Joy Cumberland Presbyterian Church was constructed in 1848. The trustees of this church at the time of erection were L.E. Davis, William May and Robert Campbell.

In 1881 the Rev. AM. Gossett served the congregation and Elders were Robert Massily, William Lunsford, H.G. Woodard, C.A. Campbell, J.J. Wise, W.T. Dickey, A.B. Mays and J.H.Taylor.

J.W. Lewis and J.H. Taylor served as Session Clerks from 1881 until 1902 and Miss Fanny Taylor served the office from 1902 until 1906 Mr G L Taylor served from 1906 until 1912 and was succeeded by W.H. Long who served from 1912 until 1920.

Ministers serving from 1881 until 1923 were Rev. A.M. Garrett, W.L. Moody, C.M. Matlock and J.A. Seef. Mt. Joy had a membership of twentyeight (28).

Today the church is only in name. It was torn away.[8]

Trinity Tabernacle Assembly of God church is labeled a 20th Century Miracle by the founder, Rev. Ralph Duncan. The couple, Ralph and Diane moved to Decaturville December 13, 1967 to launch a crusade. From this beginning, this couple felt led to remain in the county seat town. The couple were planning a missionary trip to Africa when they received the call. The congregation first met in buildings until the new church was constructed.

In March 1968 the congregation borrowed money to erect the edifice. On August 31,1968, the pastor made the final payment at the bank.

The first Sunday in September the note for the property was burned and the attendance had reached fifty persons. Various money making ideas were launched. Construction began in January 1969. The congregation grew rapidly and by the grand opening day August 1,1969 the building was already inadequate.

Two classrooms were added. Despite growing pains the church added more space. In 1973 excavation began for a building to tie into the first structure making the floor space in both structures 20,000 square feet and bringing the total cost to approximately a quarter of a million dollars.

The young pastor is now 28 years of age and is continually making personal contacts with the lost ones.[9]

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was born in a log house which belonged to Mr. Samuel McAdoo in Dickson County, February 4,1810. It was not enemies of education; however, they did not demand that their pastors be highly educated.

The Methodist and Baptist churches split over the question of slavery with their Northern brethren. Yet the Southern branches of these churches remained much interested in the religious life of the Negroes. Slaves often attended church with their masters and were seated in special sections.[10]

Successful effort was made in 1939 when the Northern Methodist and the Methodist Episcopal South churches united and in 1968 the United Brethren united with the Methodist Church thus changing the name to the United Methodist.[11]

The Methodist Conference has been on record since May 22, 1840, when it was authorized by General Conference held in Baltimore, Md. Methodist activity in this area predates that action by around 20 years.

The geographical area covered by the Memphis Conference was purchased from the Chickasaw Indians by the government on October 19,1818 for the sum of 300,000.[12] The United Methodist Church, founded by John Wesley, composes the Methodist Conference, which meets yearly and places ministers as well as takes care of the necessary business.

United Methodist Churches in Decatur County include Decaturville, which ranks among the first, Parsons, Mt. Carmel, Mt. Lebanon, Concord, Yellow Springs.

At one time there was a Methodist Church at Bible Hill but it went down in the 1940's and was torn away in 1949.[13] It was located a short distance northwest of the Bible Hill and Long Cemetery.

Suttles United Methodist Church

Suttles Methodist Church was organized on January 8,1897 according to a deed from W.L. Jernegan and wife, S.T. Jernagan. No earlier deed is available; however, the old settlers think that the land was once owned by William P. Suttles for whom the church received its' name.

The first church was a one room log building with hewed log seats. This building burned and a small boxed building was built. This building served the community for a while and it too met its waterloo and was torn down to give rise to a larger building.

Rev. I.S. Atkisson served as pastor here during the new building program. During the building program, services were held in the home of Mr. & Mrs. John Newsom, once a month during the winter months, according to Mrs. Della Bawcum, daughter of the couple. At this time, the women sat on one side of the church and the men on the other side. Rev. Atkisson served here around 18 years. In 1909-1910, the enrollment was 23 male members and 29 females.

Salaries for the pastor in the early days were quite small. In 1913 Rev. Atkisson received $7.50 for the year; however, they were also paid with produce, hams, etc. In 1910 the pastor received $8.55 a year and in 1915 it had increased to $28.00. By 1928 the salary increased to $34.00 a year.

C.G. Robinson served as pastor here in 1926 and 1927. Custom then was to have a day set aside which they called "Children's Day" and the youth all took part in the program. It was a big day and always drew a large attendance for parents and relatives alike always came to see their youth perform. Services on this day began at 11:00 a.m.; however, the custom was to have services at 2:00 p.m. An old timey "Dinner on the Ground" was served after the program. Each family brought a bountiful meal which they spread on the ground and invited others to share their good food.

This church building was badly in need of repair and remained this way for quite a while. Services were not held here. Once a year they would have a homecoming for those who had loved ones buried in the adjoining cemetery.

On August 8,1976 the foundation was laid for a new building since the old one was beyond repair. It is about three fourths completed to date. The building is of concrete blocks, painted white, inside and outside. Block layers are J.C. Cordle, Truman Cordle, Lewis Johnson and Raymond Johnson. Painters included both men and women who gave their work. They are Edna Miller, Lorelle Smith, Noel Miller, Zulas Coleman, Thresa Coleman, Hurlet Bowman, Irving Smith, Silas Miller and Della Bawcum. Wiring was done by Chad Crockett.

Funds raised for the church from flea markets where clothing as well as jewelry and other trinkets were sold. Also there were some donations. Edna Miller is Chairman of the building Committee.

The early church served a twin purpose, that of a school during the week and church on Sunday. It was a subscription school where each pupil had to pay to attend.

The Ladies Society was organized on September 9, 1914 with ten members present. They payed ten cents each and met in the member's homes once a month.

The cemetery was cleaned off by the family of loved ones gone on before. This was done with a hoe. The graves were never decorated with bought flowers then. Someone might bring some garden flowers or crepe paper flowers which were used sparingly. The first person buried in the cemetery was William F. Suttles August 6, 1856. He was born January 30, 1776.[14]

Cedar Grove Methodist Church is another church which faded away. It was located near the John Garrett Yarbro farm in the south of Decatur County. The early church served a dual purpose, that of public school and church.

Parsons United Methodist Church stems from services held in the first school building in Parsons located at 413 Tennessee Avenue, South. The first church building was constructed in the early 1890's. It was located across the street from the present building at 109 East Third Street. This was a frame building with two big front doors and painted white).[15]

It was completed in the fall of 1893 according to an account in the Messenger Newspaper, edited by G.S. Barry. Henry Myracle, former land owner, donated the land for the church. Among the charter members were Mrs. W.G. Rains, Will Warden, Mrs. Laverne Warden, Sam Warden, Mrs. Tennie V. Arnold, Mrs. Ada Pettigrew, Mrs. Fannie Partin, Mrs. Minnie Rains, Mrs. Ethel Houston, Mrs. LizzieTerryand Mrs. Maggie Warden).[16]

Economic conditions improved to the extent that in 1920 a brick building located directly across the street was constructed. The contractor was a L.H. Nail and it was noted for its beautiful glass windows in the front depicting Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Matching stained glass windows, dedicated to members of the church was elevated and individual seats placed thereon. The front of the church faced the South and the morning sun grew quite bright during services. The Business Women's Circle draped the windows with a beautiful velvet drape.[17]

Misfortune befell this beautiful edifice when on a cold icey morning in December 1957 fire razed the building and it was completely destroyed. The shrill sound of the fire alarm in the sleepy town of Parsons on that memorable morning seemed a bit louder and word came that the Methodist Church was on fire. Despite the fact that firemen, as well as others, did all humanly possible, it soon turned into ashes, leaving only the memories of those who loved it so dearly. Rev. Stafford Dees was serving as the church pastor at this time. The Wesleyan Sunday School Classroom survived the blaze but was badly damaged.

Even the fire could not dampen the hearts of these loyal Methodist and immediately services were held at Parsons Elementary School, located at 408 West Fourth Street in Parsons. Out of this tragedy grew the largest congregation known in the church's history. The attendance at night did more than triple and renewed interest was in evidence. Services were held in the school building until February 1,1959 when the new church building was completed.

Unlike the second church building, the Altar was placed in the opposite end and the pews of natural finish furnished the sanctuary. Modern stained glass windows necklace both sides of the sanctuary and the two pulpits and choir furnishings are matching.

The need was felt for a larger educational building and in 1960 Marbury Hall was added. This addition was dedicated to Reverend Pittman Marbury who served the church from 1959 to 1961, and who was dearly beloved by the majority of the congregation.[18]

Pastors who have served the church from the beginning are as follows:

1893 Thomas C. Stratton
1894 H. P. Lasley
1895 C. B. Warren
1896 T. H.Davis
1897 JO. Cason
1898 A. F. Acuff
1899 A. F. Acuff
1900 A. F. Acuff
1901 A. F. Acuff
1902 A F Acuff
1903 W D Dunn
1904 D C Johnson
1905 A. H. Delaney
1906 A. H. Delaney
1907 E. W. C rump
1908 T Foust
1909 W D Simmons
1910 W. D. Simmons
1911 F B. Jones
1912 F. B. Jones
1913 W H Collins
1914 W H Collins
1915 W H Oollins
1916 J. E. James
1917 T E Calhoun
1918 T. E. Calhoun

1919 J E Jones
1920 J. E. Jones
1921 E. W. Maxedon
1922 E W Maxedon
1923 E W Maxedon
1924 E W Maxedon
1925 H. W. Davis
1926 T E Hillard
1927 R E Hickman
1938 Pierce Troutt
1929 James T. Walker
1930 W. K. Lovett
1931 Marshall Sanford
1932 Raymond Council
1933 Raymond Council
1934 James A. Fisher
1935 James A. Fisher
1936 FE Bandy
1937 Charles Lee Bagby
1938 Charles Lee Bagby
1939 Charles Lee Bagby
1940 Joe L. Leggett
1941 Joe L. Leggett
1942 Joe L. Leggett
1943 J. M. Kendall
1944 J. M. Kendall
1945 T. C. Brown
1946 Henry E. Trevathan
1947 Henry E. Trevathan
1948 Henry E. Trevathan
1949 Paul Archibald
1950 Walter Lee Underwc
1951 L. L. Boradus
1952 Harold F. Wallace
1953 Harold F. Wallace
1954 Harold F. Wallace
1955 W. H. McSwain
1956 W. H.McSwajn
1957 M. S. Dees
1958 M. S.Dees
1959 Pittman Marbury
1960 Pittman Marbury
1961 Pittman Marbury
1962 Bill Edwards
1963 Bill Edwards
1964 Bill Edwards
1965 J. D. Willford
1966 J. D. Willford
1967 Wilson Jones
1968 Wilson Jones
2969 Wilson Jones
1970 Wilson Jones
1971 Willard Watson
1972 Willard Watson
1973 Willard Watson
1974 Willard Watson
1975 Willard Watson
1976 Willard Watson
1977 Jim Cooper [19]

Among those who have served as Superintendent of the Sunday School since 1929 were Joe Wheat, Mrs. Dora Jane Wortham, Lewis Welch, J. L. Davis, J. C. Partin, C. A. Palmer, who served five years, Joe Marshall served twenty three years and Jack Rushing who is presently serving in this capacity.

Members of the United Methodist Church have been honored with a special day in the church. Among those in the latter years were Mrs. Carrie Long, Mr. Joe Marshall and Mr. C.A. Palmer.

Outstanding years of service were recognized by Church members and a program was presented relating their service record as well as their place in the community.

The lase, to date, to be recognized was C.A. Palmer, who was honored on June 6, 1976. The proclamation reads as follows: WHEREAS, Mr. C.A. Palmer is one of our most loyal and devoted church members, and WHEREAS, his faith in Christ is unshakable and his prayers are a challenge to all who hear them and, WHEREAS, his wit and humor are unmatched and, WHEREAS, all people of this community love him dearly, Therefore, I, Willard L. Watson, Pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Parsons, proclaim this day, June 6, 1976 to be "C.A. Palmer Day" in this church. Signed by the pastor.

Those working for the church in 1976 are Mrs. Madison Scott, Chairman of the Council on Ministries, Members include: Willard L. Watson, Phillip Spence, Mrs. John Woodside, Mrs. E. J. Usery, Mickey Larkin, Terry Reid, Mrs. Terry Reid, Mrs. Zade Patterson, Joe Jetton, Mrs. Imogene Pratt, Mrs. Phillip Spence, Renae Strawn, Carey Scott, Leacey Greenway, Mrs. Sherry Leitch and Jack Rushing.

Trustees for 1976 are Ralph Boggan, A. C. Tuten. 1977 Trustees are Carolyn Sewell, Edwin Townsend and 1978 Trustees are Carl O'Cain and Robbie Latta.

Serving on the Pastor-Parrish Relations Committee are Terry Reid, Chairman, Phillip Spence, Harold Mclllwain, Jack Rushing and Blanche Tuten. The committee on finance are Joe Jetton, Chairman, Edwin Townsend, Tom Leitch, Gus Atkins, Robbie Latta, Peggy Chumney, Willard Watson and Mrs. Madison Scott.

Serving on the Committee on Evangelism are Terry Reid, Chairman, Mrs. Pearl Brasher, Mrs. E.J. Usery, Jimmy Jones, Mrs. Lucille Camper, Committee on Missions are Mrs. John Woodside, Chairman, Mrs. Jack Rushing, Mrs. Tom Leitch and Mrs. Willard L. Watson. The Worship Committee is composed of Mrs. C.W. Pratt and Mrs. Frank Floyd.

Church School teachers are: Men's Bible Class, Jim Shaw and Hardin Smith, Wesleyan Class, Bill Gilchrist, Dorcus Class, Mrs. Ruth Palmer, Golden Circle Class, Mrs. Alice Reid, Young Adult Class, Mrs. Mary Alice Usery, Busy Bee Class, Mrs. LilIye Younger, Primary I, Mrs. Jack Houston, Primary II, Leacey Greenway, Nursery I, Mrs. Louise Patterson, Nursery II, Mrs. Carolyn Larkin.

The Northern Methodist Church in Parsons was located at the intersection of Florida Avenue and Third Street. It was constructed in 1893 a short time later than the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, now known as the United Methodist. In a church news item in The Messenger Newspaper are found these remarks. "We now have two new churches going up, one for the Baptist and one for the Methodist E. Church South. They are nearing completion and will soon be ready for use. The Northern Methodist Church also has lumber on the ground for a church and will soon have it underway. This speaks well for our town." This was written by G.S. Barry Editor.[20]

A parsonage was built next to the church. The Church was a frame building and served the town until the two Methodist churches united. The late Mrs. Clyda Lollar Boose was the last pastor to serve the church, having served here in 1938 and 1939. She finished her high school education here and was the first woman ever ordained by the conference. After the unification of the Northern and Southern churches, she continued serving churches. She was ordained an elder at the First United Methodist Church in Memphis in 1946.[21]

Other pastors who served the Northern Methodist church were Rev. Walter Phillips and Rev. Frank Blankenship. A Rev. Faulkner was the first pastor and Mrs. Lena Gibson Steward served as organist.[22]

Some members were Mrs. Alma Ivy, Mrs. Leona Wilson, Mrs. Nan Clendenion, Mrs. Fanny Ivy, James Monroe Roberts and wife, Molly.[23]

Parsonages of the present United Methodist Church included one which was built directly behind the church building which was destroyed by fire. It was later sold to Ben Medearis and torn down.[24] The second parsonage was a frame building located on 600 Kentucky Avenue and the third building was a stucco structure built adjacent to the church. When the new church was constructed, replacing the one destroyed by the fire, this small parsonage was sold to Mr. and Mrs. C.V. Maxwell and moved and a new brick parsonage spiraled on Fifth Street. This parsonage was exchanged in 1969 with Dave Odle for his home at 308 East Main Street, which is serving as the present parsonage. The brick structure is considered among one of the finest parsonages in this section and pastors and their families enjoy the modern comforts as well as the spacious setting of this parsonage.

The First Baptist Church in Parsons was organized in the "Big Parlor" as they were called then in the home of Mrs. Mary Buckner. Charter members were Mrs. Mary Buckner, Mrs. Clemmie Coggins, Ike Buckner, Ollie Buckner, Mamie Buckner, Anna Fonville, W.G. Fonville, David Fonville, Mr. and Mrs. Edd Gooch and Mr. Jack Riggs. The first pastor was Rev. Nick Duke.[25]

From this beginning the congregation grew and began meeting in the freight room of the Parsons Depot for a short while. Then they met in the Masonic Hall until a building was constructed at 213 Tennessee Avenue by Mr. Ike Buckner.[26] The frame structure had a front porch and was completed in 1893.[27]

The church bell was purchased from funds collected by the youth of the town.[28]

The first organist was Miss Nettie Winston. Later Mrs. Kirk Jennings. After she left for college, Mrs. Ada Medearis became organist. She also attended college at the M.C.F. Institute in Jackson and Miss Exie Houston was organist. When she married, Mrs. NellieCarrington became organist.[29]

The organs were the pump type which took quite a bit of effort on the part of the organist. Before the church had an organist, a tuning fork was used to get in the right key and singing was acappella with a person leading the singing.

As the congregation grew, a larger building was constructed in 1919 at the present location, 319 Tennessee Avenue, South. Before the sanctuary was completed, members worshipped in the basement. C.S. Thomas was the pastor.

Under the pastorate of Archie L. Partain, an educational building was added in 1952.

On Sunday, September 26, 1965, a 75th anniversary celebration was held at the church. Billy F. Hammonds, pastor invited former pastors to attend. Speakers for the morning service were Wade Carver who served the church as pastor from 1947 to 1950 and R.K. Bennett who served from 1942 to 1946. Raymond Townsend, Church historian, compiled a church history for pamphlets which were distributed at the anniversary celebration.

A reception was held from 2 to 4 p.m. and a film was shown of the history of the church.

Despite the fact an additional educational building was built, more room was needed. Plans were formulated to construct needed space under the pastorage of Rev. Paul Shell. In April 1971, the pastor launched a building fund campaign called "Together We Build" to raise an estimated $225,000 for a new sanctuary. This dream became a reality when on Easter Sunday in 1972, the new building valued at more than $300,000 was dedicated. The steeple, towering skywards lights a path for the town. The opening prayer on dedication Sunday was given by 94 year old John Tinker, long time member of the church. This occasion marked years of labor, sacrifice and prayer and was truly a historical event.

On Sunday November 12, 1972 the first service was held in the new auditorium. Other rooms were in use for the dedication but the auditorium wasn't completed until fall.

Rev. Paul Shell labored faithfully at Parsons First Baptist Church in the role as pastor from 1967 until 1974 when he was called to Georgian Hills Baptist Church in Memphis.

His outstanding work in the community was greatly missed. He was a friend to the outcast, depressed and those in need as well as to his Church members.

Other pastors who have served this church were R.A. Kimbro, J.J. Ammerson, B.F. Bartles, B.F. Parlow, NB. Williams, AU. Nunnery, J.A. Carmack, Frank Boren, Fleetwood Ball, Floyd Crittendon, E.K. Chapman, OH. Huckabee, CS. Thomas, T.M. Boyd, R.L. Bell, l.N. Penich, Joe Jennings, C F Lowery, L.P. Flemming, Roy Keathley, G.G. Joyner, T.T. Newton, W R Belew, H.L. Waters, Joe Cruse, D. Wade Smith, R.K. Bennett, D. Wade Carve, Archie Partain, Floyd Olive, Bill Hammonds, James A. Overton, Paul Shell and Allen Carter, who is presently serving.[30] These pastors are not in the order in which they served.

First Baptist Church Decaturville

On September 11, 1901, a group of people met for the organization of a Missionary Baptist Church here in Decaturville.

The meeting was opened with the singing of "Blessed Assurance," and the first scripture, read by Elder T.F. Moore, was from the twelveth chapter of Romans with the late W. F. Boren leading the first prayer.

Back of this day's beginning of a new church must have been prayers and work on the part of those people interested in the establishment of a church building.

The first financial gift to the church was recorded in February 1901. A name seen often in the list of contributions was that of Mr. and Mrs. Curry P. Dennison. It is said that Mrs. Dennison and her untiring efforts were greatly responsible for the building.

Expenses of the building were paid by public donations and in the long list of contributors still on file are the names of several black benefactors. The largest individual gift recorded was $50.00 with gifts of 25 cents and 10 cent gifts.

In the "Paid Out" expenses list in February of that year, $50.00 was paid for the lot on which the present building now stands. The lot was purchased from the late Joe Jennings, a county official living in Decaturville at that time. Jennings later became pastor of the new church.

The entries on September 28, and October 4, show that $50.00 was paid each time for church pews.

Elston Tate, about 21 at the time, was contractor and the elevated floor was something to see and talk about. The church was a one story white frame building, 30 x 50 feet, with a two-door entrance.

At the first service in the building, T.F. Moore served as moderator for the group, and N.B. Williams was clerk.

Those who came into the membership of the church on that day were Mr. and Mrs. C.P. Dennison, J.L. Bray, Mrs. C.J. Powers, Mrs. Kittie McMillan, Mrs. JE. Yarbro, Ora Yarbro, Ella Lacy, Allie Dennison, Joe H. Jennings, W.R. Dennison and W.P. Maury.

Maury was elected deacon and Jennings was elected church clerk; Jennings and G.L. Dennison were elected delegates to the Beech River Baptist Association for that year.

The meeting adjourned, after planning a business session, Saturday Afternoon at 3:00 September14, 1901.

A note by the clerk at the bottom of a page says, "On account of rain, the church did not meet in conference on September 14,1901".

The group did meet in conference on Wednesday Night, September 19, and Elder I.N. Penick was selected to preach the dedication sermon on the First Sunday in October, 1901.

Coming for membership on that Sunday were Miss Nettie Winstead, Mrs. Rosetta Stout, and Mrs. Bertha Helton.

On the first Sunday of December of that year, Elder T.F. Moore was unanimously elected first pastor of the church.

Preaching in the early days of the church was usually one Sunday Morning and Evening service each month. One entry shows that the pastor was to receive $60.00 a year.

The first Sunday School was started in 1912. Records also show that members were excluded or fellowship withdrawn which is rarely done in present days. Reasons given were contempt of the church and heresy.

None of the charter members are now living. The last of these was Mrs. Kittie Dennison McMillan, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Curry Dennison.

The first religious survey was made on November 26, 1922 by four bands of brothers and sisters.

On October 22, 1922, Bro. Joe Jennings of Parsons was re-elected pastor, with a salary of $5.00 per trip or $60.00 per year. At that time, W.L. King was moderator and J.R. Rhodes was church clerk.

In 1924 records, J.A. Overton and Pastor J.Y. Butler were named messengers to the Beech River Baptist Association meeting at Mt. Gilead Baptist Church. The fifth Sunday meeting in November of that year was invited to the Decaturville Church.

With a very small membership, the church received financial assistance for several years from Baptist Home Mission Board. The church has been self-supporting since 1956, and contributes monthly to this program.

Pastors to serve this church from its beginning in 1901 until that church building was torn away were T.F. Moore, L.N. Pankey, E.Z. Newsome, A.L. Bray, G.S. Price, R.E. Guy, J.W. Barnett, Fleetwood Ball, A.U. Nunnery, W.L. King, Joe Jennings, J.Y. Butler, J.T. Bradfield, J.S. Bell, Earl Vaughn, L.F. Gassaway, A.M. Senter, C.B. Pennington, Woodward Bartholomew, R.K. Bennett, T.L. Maddux and E.H. McCaleb.

In later years, a missionary society was organized and the first Sunbeam Band was named for Florence Bennett, wife of the pastor, R.K. Bennett. During the summer Vacation Bible Schools were held.

Mrs. Elbert Smith, sister of pastor Joe Jennings, came into the church on August 31, 1923, and at one time a Sunday School Class was named for her. Mrs. Ollie Dennison Tolley, wife of J.W. Tolley was active in planning for the new church but died before the building started.

On January 15, 1947, the church voted to run a church bus, both day and night for an indefinite time. This was a school bus, and probably the first church bus in the county. In 1946, the church voted to add the church paper, Baptist and Reflector, for its members.

On March 16, 1947; the church voted unanimously that the lot back of the church building be purchased. Trustees appointed to transact this legal business were J.W. Tolley, Roy N. McPeak, Frank Scott, E.H. Wylie, and C.R. Avery. On April 23,1947, the church voted to set up a building fund.

In 1954, just before the old building was torn away, the church honored Mrs. Kittie McMilIan with "Aunt Kittie Day". She was the last living charter member and through her efforts and the cooperation of her relatives and friends, she raised more money for the new church building than anyone else. In December 1954, Aunt Kittie's funeral was the first funeral held in the new building.

The first services in the present building were in November 1954 with the young people and the children of the church singing "I was glad when they said," Let us go into the house of the Lord".

Rev. E.H. McCaleb was pastor during the building program. Pastor McCaleb's text on that day was, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us". In the afternoon service, Rev. W.L. King and Rev. R.K. Bennett spoke and Rev. Bennett sang, "Stand By Me". Rev. James A. Overton spoke on the progress made by the church since he was a member during his boyhood days. Rev. Overton preached in the first revival, beginning on that day in the new church.

Tommy Harrell was ordained into the ministry in this church in 1959 and performed the first marriage in the church—Jean Wylie and James Rogers Keeton on Sept. 17,1960.

Since that time, Terry Broadway, a former member, has been ordained to the ministry.

In 1966 during the pastorate of the late George Daigle, an educational building was added to the back of the 30 x 60 auditorium. A beautiful baptistry, with a painting done by Carl R. Wallace, a local man, was installed. Betty Gail Broadway Funderburk was the first person baptized in this new baptistry. Five Sunday School Rooms and two rest rooms were in this new addition.

Beech River Baptist Association met with the Decaturville Church in October 1969.

Records show that Sunday School attendance in October and November1965 had risen to 103 and 106.

Mr. J.W. Tolley is the oldest member of the church and Roy N. McPeak, Chairman of the Deacons, has been a member longer than any one else.

Pastors serving the church since 1954 were Rev. McCaleb, James F. Rogers, Grady Dozier, Edsel Pippens, Shelton Smith, George Daigle, James Smith, Don Evans and Bill H. Smith. At present, David Miller of Lexington is serving as interim pastor.

In 1971 a three bedroom brick home was bought on Highland Avenue. Pastor Don Evans and family were the first to live in this pastor's home.

The annual 1975 report to the Beech River Baptist Association shows 151 church members, total offerings of $22,533 and church property valued at $62,000 all debt free.[31]

The Beech River Baptist Association was established on Saturday before the Sabbath in October 1870. Delegates appointed to serve as the first at the convention were R.R. Dennison, W.M. Bray and E.H. Walker.[32]

The meeting was held at Union Missionary Baptist Church at Chesterfield, however, the church did not join the association at that time. This association includes churches in Henderson, Chester and Decatur Counties.

Churches belonging to the association in Decatur County to date are Bible Hill, Bath Springs, Beacon, Bear Creek, Bunches Chapel, Calvary, Cub Creek Hall, Decaturville First, Hopewell, Lone Chestnut, Mt. Zion, New Chapel, New Hope, Parsons First Baptist, Perryville First Baptist, Salem, Tomlin Chapel, Sardis Ridge, and Parsons Southside. Parsons First Baptist Church was admitted to the association in 1889.

Esco Carrington was elected in 1923 to serve as treasurer and served for 23 years succeeding his father, W.R. Carrington. In 1924, Joe Jennings became clerk and served 19 years.

A.L. Bowman made the first report on B.Y.P.U. as a separate report in 1920 at Hopewell.

In 1943 Joe Jennings was elected clerk emeritus with Woodard Bartholomew serving as active clerk. Rev. Jennings served as clerk for 21 years.

At Luray in 1946 the first layman to serve as moderator was elected. J.A. Tinker was elected. In 1949, C.R. Story succeeded Woodard Bartholomew as missionary.

Ruth Carrington was elected to serve as clerk in 1946 and has worked continuously in the capacity. Troy McCormic was elected as treasurer. At this meeting, there were three who had attended the association for at least 50 years, namely W.W. Jennings, 50 years, R.L. Rogers 53 years and Esco Carrington for 56 years.

By 1952, there were 31 preachers present for the session. Mention was made of the ravages of the cyclone that struck in the spring. One church, Bible Hill, was destroyed and eight members from various churches were killed.

In 1961 James Floyd Rogers began his two years as Moderator of the Association. Bill F. Hammonds was elected moderator in 1963 and served two years. Carl McNeill was elected moderator in 1969.[33]

There are other Baptist groups in the county that don't support the work of the missionary Baptist in the association.

It is regretable that all of these churches in the association did not submit a history of their church to be included in this history.

Presently serving as moderator in the association is Cletus Duke, representing the Bible Hill Church. Treasurer serving for the 30th year as clerk is Ruth Carrington from Parsons First Baptist Church.

Sardis Ridge Baptist Church

Sardis Ridge Baptist Church was an early church in Decatur County, constructed of logs and located west of the present church. There were only three churches in the county at this time.[34]

An early settler, W. Calvin Cole came to Tennessee in 1866 from Randolph County, North Carolina and bought a tract of land now known as the Crowell place. He built a double log house. He and his wife, Clarrisa gave five acres of land for the Sardis Ridge Church and cemetery on July 7,1884.

The log church was torn down and a new church built which was used for both church-schoolhouse combination. Ministers were Rev. Parsons, John Thomas and Rev. Holloway.

The "Sacred Harp" song book measuring 5" x 3" was used. It had words but no music.

Among the school teachers who taught at the school were Jack Moore, Vernon Striegel, Jula McMurry and Evan Hays. Ministers serving this church were Joe Jennings, Grant Tomlin, G.G. Joyner, Silas Smith and Gant Rushing.

In 1966 a new building spiraled of concrete blocks and the basement is used for Sunday School Rooms. The first service was held in this building on May 15,1966 with Rev. Roy Rushing of Jackson as pastor at that time.

The church has an enrollment of 50 and the present pastor is Rev. Nelson Renf roe.

Thurman [Turman's] Creek Primitive Baptist Church

Thurman [Turman's] Creek Primitive Baptist Church was established July 27, 1833.[35]

A log building was constructed. This time it was listed as being in Perry County due to the fact that Decatur County was established in 1845.

The land for the church building came from the H. B. Kelly's farm to the amount of three acres. It is located eleven miles south of Decaturville. Like so many of the early churches, it served as both church and school for the community and many an educator received their early learning at these combination church schools.

Serving as the first deacons were Temple Hicks, Elias Deaton and William Woolverton. They had a membership of thirteen members.

In 1912 a new weatherboarded building was constructed about one half a mile from the first building on the Brooxie Thompson Road. This building served the members until 1973 when a brick veneer building was constructed. The termites had damaged the weatherboarded building so badly it was beyond repair.

Services were held every fourth Sunday at 11 a.m. and on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. before the days of electricity. Now services continue to be held on the fourth Sunday at 11 a.m. but Saturday Nights rather than Saturday Afternoon. The church has never held Sunday School.

The new brick veneer building is approximately 36 x 50 feet with a concrete block basement which houses a kitchen for dinners. It is a beautiful modern building located in a picturesque section of Decatur County. Present deacons serving the church are Lealon Wyatt, Rural Brigance, Nathan Maness and the pastor is Priddy Smith of Henderson, Tennessee. The total membership presently is nine. Located near the church is Wylie Cemetery.

Bath Springs Baptist Church

Dr. J.F. Hancock, founder and early doctor at Bath Springs, was instrumental in erecting the First Baptist Church in Civil War Days. The one room, log church school combination was erected across Highway 114 from the Dr. B.M. Brooks home.[36]

Later, around 1880, the building was torn down and a yellow poplar building was built on Dock Davis' land near the present Baptist Church. It too served as a church-school combination. It was at this location that the church joined the Beech River Association and Rev. S.K. Hurst was an early pastor to serve the church.

In 1913, Dr. B.M. Brooks donated the land which was located about 150 feet from the former building, and a church school building spiraled, replacing the earlier building. This combination progressed until 1929 when a new consolidated school was built in the community and the county sold the school here. Rev. Joe Jennings, who was pastoring the church at that time, bought the building to be used as a church only, as well as the land from the county and gave it to the congregation.[37]

Later in 1959, a modern block building was constructed with Sunday School Rooms and beautiful interior which is in use today.

New Hope Baptist Church

The building site for the church was deeded by John S. Sullivan in 1848. The acreage included six and the cost was $1846.

The Church Covenant was written and signed September 24, 1842, while Decatur County was a part of Perry County, with 86 charter members.

E. Blount was the first clerk and L.M. Stead the first moderator. L.M. Stead served as the first pastor until February 1848.

Among the charter members were E. Blount, Asa Rushing, James Lomax, Stephen Moody, William Myracle, William Griffin, John Bartholomew, James Deere, Elizabeth Myracle, Riley Johnson, Leroy Moore, Greenbury D. Rushing, and Jacob Smith.

E. Washburn served as the second pastor. The first Sunday School was organized in 1851. Disaster hit the church when it folded up in 1902; however, it made a comeback and it was re-organized on September 20, 1914 with 30 members. Sam Tolley served as clerk and W.F. Boren as pastor.

J.W.C. Gibson served as Superintendent of the Sunday School for 31 years and as deacon until his death in January 1974.

G.W. Ward was elected clerk in 1918 and served until 1959. He also served as deacon and Adult Sunday School Teacher until his health failed.

Willie H. Tillman was elected as clerk in 1959 and served until 1963.

The church went to half time preaching in 1953 with J.V. Reeves serving as pastor, beginning his role as pastor here. He served until 1956.

Myracle Ward was elected clerk in September 1963. Silas Smith served as pastor of the church from 1961 until his retirement August19, 1973.

Jeff Flowers was called to serve the church November 1973 and this was his first experience as a minister. January 1974 the church went to full time preaching. The present pastor is Bunis Smith, and this is his first church to serve. Louise Tolley has served as secretary and Treasurer for the past 26 years.

Beacon Baptist Church

The Beacon Baptist Church spiraled through the efforts of Rev. Wade Carver, pastor of Parsons First Baptist Church. It was in 1949 that the building, formerly owned by the Presbyterian Church was bought. Prior to this permanent home, Rev. Carter held services at 2 p.m. on Sunday to engender interest. It was called a Mission.

On May 25, 1950 a council of members of the Parsons First Baptist Church met in Beacon for the purpose of organizing a Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. Millard Evans had been serving as pastor of the Mission. The Council organized from the following, Rev. Wade Carver, Rev, and Mrs. Millard Evans, Rev. C.R. Story, Mrs. Nannie Barnett, Mrs. Lena Evans. Mrs. Blanche Dodson, Mrs. Ruth Evelyn Townsend, and Mrs. Ella Tranum.

Rev. Carver served as Moderator and Mrs. Millard Evans, clerk of the organization. Reasons were given for the organization of the church. There were seven charter members: Erby Sullivan, Mrs. Maud Todd, Mrs. Lillie Mae Harris, Mrs. Lucille Dennison, Mrs. Valada Wise, Mrs. Amealie Wallace and Mrs. Dorothy Wallace. Serving as the first church clerk was Mrs. Dorothy Wallace and Mrs. Maud Todd served as the first Church Treasurer.

It wasn't easy to get the church on the ground financially. It was through the efforts of the Baptist Association in Nashville, Parsons First Baptist Church and the efforts of the members. The women sold chickens and eggs and the men did their work free to renovate the old building which had been damaged in the 1942 storm which hit Beacon.

Rev. Evans resigned and was succeeded by Rev. C.R. Story. The first sermon preached in the church was by Rev. J.T. Todd. He served the church five years. Other pastors serving here were Rev. Darain Horn, Rev. Elmus Flowers, Rev. Tommy Harrell, Rev. Don Garrison, Rev. Doug Sanders, Rev. David Walker, Rev. Donald Bain and the present pastor is Rev. Charley Broadway. The salary was $40.00 per month for two Sunday's preaching.

Serving as the church's first deacons were Grady Laster, Mack Denison, Essa Higgins, Robert Pratt and Gaylon Yates.

The building has been completely renovated inside and out and is doing fine at the present. A contribution from the Houston family and others in the community who are not members, has been a great help.

Maud Todd served the church as clerk for 20 years and Memorial has been made for her by the Johnny Frost family of Darden.

Other Memorials have been presented to Rev. David Walker and Rev. Douglas Sanders.

In the church's history eight members have been lost by death, Maude Todd, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Box, Jewel Hays, Mr. and Mrs. Claude Wise and Mr. and Mrs. Bedford Powers.

The membership of the church has reached seventy one. Present deacons include Essa Higgins, Chairman, Theodore Todd, Mack Dennison, Robert Pratt, Gaylon Yates. Song leaders are Gaylon Yates, Theodore Todd and Jimmy Sanders. Pianists are Mrs. Jewel Sanders, Mrs. Fonda Yates and Miss Rita Sanders. Executive Board Member Billy J. Johnson, Church Clerk, Mrs. Dorothy Wallace, Church Treasurer Br. J.B. CaIdwell.

Serving as Sunday School Superintendent is Mack Dennison, Adult

Class teachers, Hugh Carrington, Essa Carrington, Dorothy Wallace and others are Elizabeth Brawley, Retha Yates, Mrs. Jean Harris, Mrs. Lillie Todd, Mrs. Lucille Dennison, Miss Gena Yates, Bulletin Board, Mrs. Carolyn Pratt, Sunday School Board Secretaries Misses Cathy and Carrie Yates. The R.A. ‘s are led by Gaylon Yates, Essa Higgins, Johnnie Sanders and Ricky Harris.

Rev. Wade Carver, who donated a piano to the church, returned to attend their homecoming and preached at the twenty filth anniversary. Recognition of charter members spiraled. Those attending from out of town were Erby Sullivan, Rev. Jeff Flowers, Mrs. Nancy Rogers, Mrs. Nancy Todd, Mrs. Valada Wise, Rev. C.R. Story, Rev. David Walker, Rev. Douglas Sanders. Some of these represented the deceased relatives.[39]

Bear Creek Baptist Church

Perhaps the oldest Missionary Baptist Church in Decatur County dated back to 1842, three years before the county was organized.

It is located one mile west of Parsons on the old freight line road. The land was deeded by Matt Houston.

The church received its name from the community it serves. Pioneer families from North Carolina and Virginia noted the large number of bears living in the cane thickets near the creek bank and named the little settlement "Bear Creek."

The original church building was a log structure about 300 yards from the present building at the old meeting spring. Used for a church and school, it was located near the present home of Olan Houston and the Houston family use the spring now to pump water into their house.

The second building was located at the present spot and also was a log building. In 1902, S.M. Houston bought the building when the members voted to build a new church.[40] He moved it and used it for a barn. The third building was a frame structure and also was used for a public school for a number of years. The church outgrew the building and in 1945, the present building was constructed.

Its outer walls are made from Decatur County Limestone Rocks. It has five Sunday School rooms in the basement and a large sanctuary upstairs.

The early church records date to August 1842. Ten rules were laid down for members to obey. One reads, "In all cases of dealing with members the word of God is to be strictly adhered to, no wife is to give in to testimony for her husband nor against him except voluntary and vica versa".

The first record in the yellowed cardboard back ledger is in August 1842. The first roll reveals 51 males and 51 females and dated from 1842 to 1953 [1853]. The ledger lists males on one side of the page and females on the other.

L.M. Stead was clerk in 1842 and James K. Hall moderator. The Clerk recorded these names with a goose quill. His penmanship is of excellent grade.

The first minutes start thus "Saturday before the third Sabbath in August 1842, the church met and after worship set in conference door open for members and two by letter. Jacob Conder and Polly Bray and four by experience, Samuell Bray, Catharyn Wilson, Harvey Fedda and Maude Turner" (The misspelling is as it appears in the ledger.[41]

These meetings were held monthly and each time members were added to the fellowship. Other pioneer members listed were Lastima Houston Sam Rains, Edmon Pettigrew, Issac Rains, Calvin Watson, Austry Hays, Daniel Brown, A.C. Rains, Henry Myracle and 11 salves, male and female.

In October 1842 a camp meeting was held near the old meeting spring and lasted two weeks. People from far and wide came and camped for the protracted meetings.

In December 1842, it is recorded that the members of the fellowship "met in peace". It was moved and seconded to choose deacons. Issac Rains and B. Graves were chosen.

One entry reveals that in July 1848 the church did not meet on account of smallpox in the neighborhood.

One of the early pastors mentioned was Brother T.W. Stark. He was chosen by request of the association for four churches to unite and pay him $150 a year and him to spend all of his time in the bounds of the four churches.

They agreed to pay $25 at Bear Creek and more "if it was cold". In 1849, the church chose Brother Balcom Rains as deacon. In 1850 Brother M.P. Green was called to state whether he whether he would serve as pastor. He accepted and was duly installed, the church pledging to sustain him so long as he sustained the scripture.

Several members were expelled from the church for having moved from the bounds of the church without calling for letters.

Other members had charges brought against them for dancing and gambling and their names were withdrawn.

On November 19, 1923, the late Joe Jennings was elected pastor of the church. It was voted to pay the pastor's salary in monthly payments. Records show that on April 8,1923, his salary was $3.35 for that Sunday.

A revival dated August 8,1926 was held by Brother G.G. Joyner of Beggs, Oklahoma. He received $46.42 for his services. Later he was elected as pastor of the church.

Others who have served are Rev. Bob Pettigrew, Rev. W.A. Moody, Rev. Floyd Rogers. The present pastor of the church is Rev. Wayne Vernon. Under his leadership the church has erected a parsonage, which was completed in 1973 near the church.

Active deacons in 1966 were Olan Houston, Troy McCormic, Roy Boyd, Fred Wilkins, Harry Turpin and Acey Gilbert, honorary deacon. December 11, 1966 two young men were added to the list of deacons, Jack Houston and Fred Gilbert. Since that date, Asa Gilbert has passed away. A new deacon, Roy Arrington was elected.

In 1966 the church had a membership of 200. A number of new members have been added to the roll since that date. The church claims good harmony, good preaching and good singing.

Among the outstanding singers who compose quartets to date are Opal Tolley, Beula Houston, Troy McCormic, Jack Houston, Fred Wilkins, Vernal Wilkins and Keith Conder.

Despite the fact that the church has continued to improve its interior with carpets, etc., the church at present is free from indebtedness.

Serving as Sunday School Superintendent is Jack Houston. Church Clerk, Fred Wilkins and Vernal Wilkins is serving as treasurer.

It has been said that this church has the best records of any Baptist Church in Decatur County.

Bible Hill Missionary Baptist Church

Bible Hill Missionary Baptist Church was organized in 1858.[42] It is located in the northern section of Decatur County, on a hill which perhaps added to the decision to name it Bible Hill. Bible Hill was one of the eight Churches which met at Union Church near Chesterfield to organize the Beech River Baptist Association. The following year Bear Creek joined the association.

First Methodist Church in Decaturville

The first Methodist Church built in Decaturville was in 1854.[43] The first trustees were L. B. Stanfield, Lewis Garrett, S. Singleton, Henry Singleton and Joseph Kelley. A description of the building is not available but supposed to have been log. Within the church's history, it has had four different locations, three of them which can be traced.

The second one was a two-story frame structure housing the church on the ground level and the Masonic Lodge on the upper level. This lot was purchased on November 29, 1871 from the Sons of Temperance and was located across the street from the present location and on the site of Decatur County Health Department on what was formerly known as the Decaturville-Parsons Turnpike.[44]

The church trustees negotiating this purchase were W. H. Johnson D. M. Scott, O. P. Trem, D. M. Funderburk and J. M. Porterfield. The pastor at this time was W. D. Stayton and the church was a charge church.

In 1910 the congregation moved to a new building located on a lot purchased from Decatur County Bank on June 18, 1909, on the West of Court Square. Decatur County Farm Bureau Building is now located on the site. It was a frame structure with intricate designs.

Trustees involved in this transaction were W. Stout, J. T. Rogers, J. H. Evans, J. A. CuIp, and G. E. Smith. Rev. W. D. Simmons was pastor.[45]

The frame building served the congregation until 1955, when a new brick building spiraled one block north of Court Square near the U.S. Postoffice.

The property was acquired in stages. In 1948 the church sold its interest in the Circuit parsonage to Mt. Lebanon, Mt. Carmel and Concord when the church became a station and purchased a house and lot comprising a part of the present ground from the late Madison Smith for a parsonage. Trustees at this time were H. D. Pevahouse, J. W. Stout and J. W. Wheat. One hundred (100) additional feet was purchased from the late Madison Smith on the south side of the parsonage in 1951 for the present church building.

Trustees in charge of the purchase were J. W. Blount, A. F. Hardin and H. D. Pevahouse. Rev. W. A. (Dub) Nance was pastor at this time and the fellowship hall of this church was named "Nance Fellowship Hall" in his honor.

When Decaturville church severed its ties from the three above mentioned churches and became a station, the Rev. H.A. Goforth was serving as pastor.

The last addition to the church property occurred in 1970 when a lot north of the parsonage facing the street, was donated by Mrs. Mary Weir and heirs of J.S. England in memory of Judge J.A. England and J.S. England, father and son who served as Sunday School Superintendent for more than sixty years. Mrs. Nina McMillan served the church over 68 years as organist and pianist. J.W. Blount served as secretary and treasurer for 40 years.

To date, fifty four (54) ministers have served this church. The late Rev. O. H. Lafferty having served the longest period of time.

Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church

The church had its first beginning in a tent until 1926 when Jess Tucker led the building program to erect a church building. Those working for this church were Jess Tucker, Eddie Tucker, Bob McClure, Ben Morgan, Andy Keeton, Jim Aaron, Reader Hopper, Will Barber and M. F. Adkisson. The original ground was that of Will Barber where the church was built.

Replacing the small frame structure in 1946 Fate Montgomery gave the ground and a larger modern concrete block building was built. It is equipped with Sunday School rooms, a kitchen, rest rooms, large sanctuary, wall to wall carpets, air conditioned and electric heat.

The Pleasant Hill Church is one of the four churches on the Bath Springs circuit. They are Keeton Springs, Mt. Nebo, Pleasant Hill and Center. The first pastor on the Bath Springs Circuit was Rev. A.G. Barnes. Others who have served the circuit were a Rev. Owens, F. A. Flatt, Guy Arant, James Bagby, William Scruggs, T. W. Steadman, Rev. Davis, Humbert Weir, C. B. Allen, John Archer, Charles Brinkley.

From 1956 the following pastors have served the charge. 1956, Rev. Benny Hopper, 1959, Phillip McClure. Others were David Haley, Charley White, Neal Hinson.

Serving here in 1929 were Rev. J.P. Troutt of Sharon and Rev. B.J. Crowder served from 1945 until 1948. The present pastor is Rev. George Barnes.[46]

Concord United Methodist

Ruben White in consideration of his desire to promote the Methodist Episcopal Church South, especially at Concord, deeded to Trustees Henry Welch, Corry Pettigrew, George W. Smith, John Coats, Nicholas D. White, David M. Scott and George W. Harrell two acres of land on which a church house was to be erected. He also guaranteed the right to have passageway to a spring on his land about two hundred yards from the site. Said deed was executed on August 7,1869 and recorded on page 370 of Book Number 6 at Registers Officer in Decaturville.

A log building was erected which served as a temporary place of worship. The present building was constructed of native yellow poplar. It was a one room building 30 x 40. Additions and improvements to this structure have been made as follows: In 1953, the building was lengthened 12 feet and two Church school rooms were built on each end with the inside redecorated and stained glass windows installed. In 1961, new pews were added. In 1964, the building was bricked. In 1973, a 24 ft. by 30 ft. Fellowship Hall was built on the North end of the church.

The first three preachers were W. D. Strayton, R.R. Nelson and William Hay. Many other good preachers have come our way, some of which were best known in our area, are O.H. Lafferty, Dr. F. A. Hall, W.F. Cooley and W. M. Vaughn.

On August 3,1969 Bishop Finger directed a centennial Dedication service which was also the opening of a revival that had the following preachers for the evening services of the week: Dr. F. A. Flatt, James R. Mulroy, Charles Leist, Dr. Frank Welch, Jerry Hassell and Jerry Bell.

Presently, the pastor is James W. Cotham who is accompanied in the charge parsonage by his wife, Irene and son, Rob.[47]

Nebo Methodist

Mt. Nebo Church building was erected shortly after Decatur became a county in 1845. It stemmed from a Brush Arbor revival held by a Circuit Rider.

Located 14 miles south of Decaturville, it was during the winter, after the crops had been gathered that the men went out and cut yellow poplar trees and hewed them into logs and by the next summer they had the first Methodist church constructed and named Mt. Nebo. William Hafford Boggan furnished part of the logs for the building.

The land for the church was deeded by John Akin in the amount of ten acres. Later the church deeded seven acres back to the Akins and kept the remaining three acres for the church.

This first church was about a 30 ft. by 16 ft. family room, undivided into Sunday School rooms. Each class gathered in a corner or on the front rows for their lesson when Sunday School was started some years later.

The benches were split logs with holes bored in them and wooden pegs set for legs. The shutters were made of wood rather than glass windows in the early days. The early church had a two-fold purpose, it served as a church-school combination.

In 1885 the log building was torn down and a boxed church building erected.[48] The logs were moved to the William Tuten place and made into a barn. In 1908 the roof was damaged by a hail storm. At this time, the roof was replaced and the building remodeled also. The building was again renovated around 1955 and modernized into a beautiful church building, with hardwood floors, gas heat, comfortable pews and a beautiful altar.

However, misfortune hit the little church and on March 1, 1976 it was destroyed by fire, presumedly caused from a gas combustion.

Among early pastors of the church were Rev. Clovis Chappell, Rev. O.H. Lafferty, Rev. A.G. Barnes, Rev. W.E. Gibson, Rev. B.I. Crowder who served from 1947 until 1952, Rev. Roy D. Williams, 1932, Rev. CV. Stacks 1933 and again in 1952, Rev. O.W. Brinkley, 1934, Rev. H. C. Jones, 1935, Rev. R. L. Prince 1936-37, Rev. John Davis, 1938, Rev. HumbertWeir, 1939, Rev. Tony Steadman, 1941, Rev. C. B. Allen, 1945, Rev. Charles W. Brinkley, 1954-55, Rev. John Archer, Rev. J.C. Agnew, 1958, Rev. B.D. Hopper, 1959, Rev. Phillip McClure, 1960, Rev. Robert Saywell, 1961, Rev. John Van Middleworth, Rev. John Churchwell, 1962, Rev. Charlie White 1967-72 and the present pastor is Rev. Neil Hinson. Others, date served unknown, were Rev. E.G. Gowan, Rev. L.A. Cruise, Rev. W. C. Baker, Rev. J. T. Banks, Rev. Torn Jones, Rev. J. J. Maynard.

Rev. John Davis who served in 1938 helped to erect the parsonage located next door to the church. An earlier parsonage was located at the W. H. Martin,Jr. home.[49]

The second parsonage was sold to Mrs. Jessie Lancaster and a new parsonage for the three churches, Nebo, Old Center and Keeton United Methodist Churches was erected next door to the Keeton Springs Church in 1971.

A new brick structure has been erected and the congregation moved into it in September of 1976.

St. Marks A.M.E. Church

The St. Mark A.M.E. Church spiraled in 1908 in the community known as Two-Foot in Parsons. It was a frame structure and served the black congregation until 1965 when a new brick building spiraled.

Located at 498 East Eighth Street in Parsons, the church has a membership of 38, who set out to replace their dilapidated frame building with a new brick structure and that is just what they did. It was a "pay as you go" plan.[50]

It was built for approximately $10,000.00. The building includes a large sanctuary, two classrooms and two bath rooms. It is finished on the inside with paneling and oak woodwork. The furniture is of light oak.

The corner stone was layed on November 24,1965, hosted by the Parsons Masonic Lodge No. 47, with Worshipful Master Roy Anders in charge. The presiding Bishop C.A. Gibbs of the 13th Episcopal district spoke at the 3 o'clock service.

Funds for the new building were by solicitation and the ladies of the church raised over $2,000 in bake sales.[51]

The building was constructed by DR. Price Construction Company of Parsons.

Rev. Willie W. Wortham of Jackson was serving as the church's pastor during the building of the new church. He served at Freeman Chapel A.M.E. Church in Decaturville prior to serving the Parsons Church. He also assisted in the construction of a new brick church here in 1964 by 42 member congregation.[52]

The United Pentecostal churches have played an important part in the religious life of persons in Decatur County. There are a number of churches located here.

In April 1949 a resolution to make the Southern District, consisting of the states of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, three districts was passed. W.M. Greer of Jackson was elected to serve as the Superintendent of the Tennessee District. Rev. A.D. Gurley made the resolution.

In 1950 the first plot of ground was purchased on "Holiness Hill" in Perryville, Tennessee for a campground site from E.O. Reed and wife of Madison County.

After the District Conference in Nashville in April 1951, the sound of the hammers and saws were soon heard as the construction of rustic buildings that were to serve as a dining hail and tabernacle began. Bro. J.W. Wallace served as builder. Soon a number of cabins were also erected, lights came to the "Hill" and in August 1951 the district started what was thought to be only a token camp meeting with the Paslays that turned out to be a history making event with hundreds in attendance at the great camp meeting.

In 1972, a vision was fulfilled when the erection of a home for the District and office building was erected and became a center for the promotion, planning and administering for the many functions of a growing organization.

The campground continued to expand with the acquisition of more land and more buildings being erected until today it is estimated at one half million dollars, which included the grounds and buildings. There is no mortgage on any of the camp property.

Rev. A.N. Graves was instrumental in getting this camp underway. He played an important part, not only in the building, but in supervising of maintenance afterwards.

Brother and Sister Norman Pasley were the guest speakers at the first camp meeting. From Memphis to Kingsport throughout the years, people have attended the camp meeting.

In 1954, Rev. W.M. Greer and the District Board organized the Ladies Auxiliary. The Board appointed Mrs. Lela Holland, President and Mrs. Benthal Crossnoe as Secretary.

In 1958, Mrs. Nana Benson was appointed as President and Mrs. Doris Moore as Secretary.

In 1951 Tennessee Board Members included J.H. Austin, J.O. Moore, E.J. Douglas, W.M. Greer, D.B. Williams, R.G. Jackson, J.W. Wallace, E.E. McNatt and W.T. Scott.

Sunday School as well as Junior and Senior Youth Camps have also played an important part of the camp. The annual revival is scheduled the first week in July and sometimes there are around 3,000 in attendance at these camp meetings. Rev. W.M. Greer is still serving as Superintendent of the Tennessee District.[53]

Church of Christ

Around 1908 a few old timers had, at some time and place, heard the gospel proclaimed by ministers of the Church of Christ.[54] These persons were instrumental in erecting buildings for the advancement of the Church of Christ movement in Decatur County.

Prior to the church buildings the ministers preached in school houses, brush arbors, groves and communities.

The interested citizens got together and saw the need of a meeting house. Frank Alexander agreed to give the land on which to build a meeting house as well as the timber from his farm. Volunteers rallied and Bill Elliott, who gave quite a bit of timber, had hands to help cut it, with team and wagon to haul the logs to mill. They set a day to begin cutting the timber.

Interested persons gathered with cross cut saws, axes, sledge hammers, wedges, files and saw sets and began felling and cutting trees into saw logs. They delivered them to the saw mill at Beacon, owned by W.J. (Jesse) Long. Mr. Alexander was an experienced sawmill man and he sawed the logs without any charges while others volunteered their services in operating the saw mill. Mr. Long gave them a big discount. Others gathered at the building site and began to lay the foundation. The crude building was poorly constructed and it was destroyed by high winds. These valiant men quickly went into action and another building was erected. Strangely and ironically this building was destroyed by high winds. It was located in the heart of Beacon, on the Beacon-Decaturville Road.

Those instrumental in the initial movement here were Frank Alexander, Jim Myracle, John (Doc) Myracle, Bill Elliott, Tom Smalls, Frank Hays, Ike Hayes, B. Hayes, W.F. Bowman, G.W. Haggard, Jeff Steed, Milt Houston, and others.[55]

From this discouraging beginning, brethren from Beacon and Parsons got together and decided to construct a meeting house about half way between the towns. Henry Hendrix gave the land and the building was erected on the hill just west of Johnson's Creek and called Center Hill. This place served the congregation for sometime. Later the Parsons group began meeting in the abandoned Northern Methodist Church in Parsons, located at the corner of Florida Street and Fifth Avenue. In the 1950's, the Parsons congregation built a church on Tennessee Avenue, S. Instrumental in the erection of the building were Herman Rains, John Frank Alexander and George Jordan.[56]

Early members were Will Neely, Arthur Baugus, Will Jordan, J.C. Duck, Mrs. Betty Baugus and Mrs. Lena Jordan.

Pastors who have served the church are Willie Bradfield, Bro. Luckett, Joe Williams, Bro. Pogue, Bill Johnson, Lester Coats, Bobby Pinkley, Guy Hester, Joe Cook Vandyke, and James Hinkle. The present pastor is Earl Cook.[57]

Serving as elders are George Jordan, John Frank Alexander, Lewis Welch and Bob Adams and Deacons include Jerry Bell, Gary Hall, Obie Hendrix, Larry Lindsey, Larry Parrish, Harold Seagraves, Roscoe Stegall and Larry Tyler.[58]

The Beacon Congregation began to meet in the schoolhouse for a while. Later they built a one room small block building which still served the congregation. Sunday School rooms have been added and plans are to add a baptistry and other needed facilities to the block and brick structure. From this humble and mediocre beginning, there is now a very live and hard working congregation led by a fine selection of young Elders at Parsons.[59]

The Saul Paul Church of Christ

The Saul Paul Church of Christ was located two miles south of Hog Creek. It was constructed of Poplar lumber furnished by Dick (bunty) and William Cotham. M.P. Haynes furnished the two acres of land which underscored the church building and grounds. It was one big room which served for Sunday School services as well as preaching services.

Among the early members were Eason Frazier, George Spence, Bob Spencer, Jim Faulkner, Dick and William Cotham, Paul S. Spencer, Mrs. Carrie Baker, and Marvin Spencer.

Misfortune befell the building when it was destroyed by a storm in 1920. The building was never rebuilt.[60]

Another early Church of Christ was located one half mile south of Jeanette. It was a one story building constructed in the 1890's.[61]

Among the church leaders were Will Jordan, Arthur Baugus, Maggie Baugus, Mrs. Johnnie Spencer and Mrs. Betty Cotham Baugus. The church went down and members went to surrounding churches in the early 1900's.

Central Church of Christ, Decaturville

Central Church of Christ was established by Mr. and Mrs. Eldridge Stricklin, Mrs. Bonnie Davis, Mr. and Mrs. Teddy Myracle, Mrs. Betty Baugus, Mr. and Mrs. Max Townsend, Jerry and Marilyn Townsend, Mrs. Opal Kelley, Mr. Dennis Evans, Mrs. Lela Hayes, Mrs. Carolyn Patterson, Timmy, Jimmy and Dwight Patterson, Mrs. Paul Goodman, Paula and Jana Goodman, Mr. and Mrs. Eddie Alvey and son, Mrs. Freddie Brasher and children in April 1969.

Services were first held in an old service station building at the corner of 69 and 100 highway in Decaturville. Later they moved to the American Legion Building in Decaturville.

The church reached a milestone January 18, 1970 when they moved into their new $35,000 brick structure located in the northern edge of Decaturville. Trustees for the building program were Max Townsend, Eldridge Stricklin and Cleve Fisher.

The attendance for the first service was 51 with Jesse Lee Garner, Sr. of Lexington, father of Mrs. Judy Townsend, delivering the first message. Steve Miller responded to the invitation and was the first person baptized in the new building. The first contribution was $197. Sixty five (65) were present for the first evening service.

Dedication services for the new building were held on Sunday May 3, 1970, with Bro, Charles Thomson of Lexington delivering the message. Others taking part in the service were Jesse Lee Garner, Sr., Nat Evans, Coy Dyer and RoscoeStegall. There were 125 in attendance.

Those who have assisted financially and given moral support to the church through the years are Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Welch, Miss Dannie Houston, Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe Stegall and the Lexington and Scotts Hill congregation.

Organizers still associated with the church are Mrs. Betty Baugus, Mrs. Opal Kelley, Max and Judy Townsend, Mrs. Manly Townsend Goodman and children.

In the summer of 1973, the Decaturville Church of Christ united with the Central Church of Christ and that relationship exists today.

Ministers working with the church from its institution were Eddie Alvey, Jesse Lee Garner, Sr., Nat Evans, Sonny and Larry White, Charles Crump, Elgin Howard, Bob Prater, Richard England and Tom Scott. Cliff Bennett and Gary McDade are presently serving the church as minister and associate minister.[62]

Wesson Chapel Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Located in Sugar Tree, Wesson Chapel Cumberland Presbyterian Church dates back to 1896, and is named in honor of Captain Nathaniel A. Wesson, a Decatur Countian who fought with the Confederate Army in the Civil War. Captain Wesson and his wife, Sarah, set aside land for the church as well as the Wesson Cemetery located on the opposite side of Sugar Tree.[63]

The small frame church was built of timber, cut and planed by hand by members who didn't charge for their services. Among those who assisted were Joe Odle, John Farlow, Edd Walker, J.K. Agnew, Sam Robertson, W.G. Fry, and Tom Robertson.[64]

The church has undergone a number of renovations, enlarging it, adding Sunday School Rooms and recently it has been paneled, hardwood floors added and the entrance redone. One renovation occurred in 1959.

Serving as pastors of the church are W.T. Massey, 1897-1 899, J.G. Anderson, 1899-1900, G.W. Crutches, 1900-1901, J.G. Anderson, 1902-1903-1913, W.C. Sanders, 1913-1914, John Mclllwain, 1914-1922, T.H. Sundarth, 1922-1929, George Mclllwain, 1932-1937, W.D. Marlar, 1937-1941, J.J. Douglas, 1941-1944, Sam Nail, 1944-1948, John Ellis, 1949-1950, George Mclllwain, 1950-1952, Clinton Buck, 1952-1955, Hillman Moore, 1955-1957, Don McConnell, 1957-1959, Tommy Conblee, 1960-1961 Cardell Smith, 1962-1968, Don Laruee, 1969-1971, Tommy Walker, 1971-1972, Raymond Boroughs, 1973-1975 and Rev. Jimmy Messer is present pastor. Elders registered in 1897wereS.C. Robertson, J.K. Pagnew, C.W. Odle, W.G. Fry, M.B. Fisher, and serving in 1910 was R.J. Riley. R.T. Wesson became as Elder in 1915 and J.J. Odle and Bill Odle in 1918. V.A. Odle became an Elder in 1929 and H.B. Fisher in 1936 with B.B. Walker.

Clerks serving the church were M.B. Fisher 1887, S.J. Wesson 1899, Nettie Fisher 1922-1929, Opal Odle 1929 to 1975 and Ches Riley 1975.

Deacons serving in the early days were J. Farlow 1897 to 1913 and Joe Odle 1913 to 1919.

Treasurerwas C.W. Odle from 1897 to 1919.

Trustees M.F. Fisher, J.F. Farlow, D.R. Odle andJoeOdle.

Early members of the church were Sarah Wesson, T.C. Robertson, Robert Robertson, Will Robertson, S.C. Robertson, J.F. Farlow, J.K. Pagnew, S.J. Wesson, Joe Odle, C.W. Odle, H.L. Odle, D.R. Odle, MB. Fisher, W.G. Fry, Mrs. D.R. Odle, Mrs. MB. Fisher, Mr. W.G. Fry, who all joined in 1897. J.J. Odle became a member in 1899 and R.W. Wesson in 1904. Others who joined in 1897 were Mrs. Viola Odle, Mrs. Flora Odle, Mrs. Willie Odle, Mrs. Lillian Walker, Mrs. Nattie Fisher and Mrs. Sadie Farlow Robertson. Joe Wesson joined the church in 1922, Mrs. Mollie W. Farlow in 1897, Mrs. Herkie Thomas and Mrs. Lucy Odle in 1900. Mrs. Emma Odle Townsend joined in 1907 and Mrs. Maude Odle, Mrs. Bess Odle, and R.T. Wesson joined in 1915. Mrs. Suzanna Bray, 1899, Mrs. Dora Walker Wesson, S.J. Wesson in 1897, B.H. Maxwell and wife, Alice Maxwell joined the church in 1899.

Trustees were John Farlow, W.G. Fry and Tom Robertson when the church was quite young.

Serving as Elders presently are Bill Farlow, Ray Miller, Guy Stokes and Chesley Riley. Ray Miller is serving as Sunday School Secretary and Chesley Riley is serving as Church Secretary. Sunday School Superintendent is Jerry Miller and teachers in the church school are Mrs. Opal Odle, Adult Teacher, Mrs. Dean Stokes, Kindergarten teacher and Mrs. Diane Miller, Junior High Teacher.[65]

Today the church is a growing church. It stands as a Memorial to the dedicated family whose name it bears.

Camp Ground Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Between the years of 1840-1845 during a religious era, the people of what is now Decatur County began to congregate and camp together for the purpose of worship.

From this beginning Camp Ground Cumberland Presbyterian Church was born. The land was donated by Gill Rushing and a log church soon spiraled. It was constructed by 28 members in 1847.[66]

Located on the Decaturville and Beacon Road, this building was used for over a hundred years of worship. It had great meaning for those in the community as well as those who moved away and returned on Decoration Day.

In 1953 a brick building was erected near the old log church. Later, the landmark bowed its head and vanished as carpenters went about tearing it down. Members today have expressed the wish that the log building had remained as a landmark. It was used as a recreational center for the youth as well as adults for a few years after the new building was erected.

The new building was dedicated by the late Rev. H. C. Watson of Jackson, Tennessee with an all day service and dinner on the ground. The Rev. J. J. Douglas was serving the church as pastor at this time.

Through the years the church has never had a large membership but it still has members whose ancestors were the early founders of the church.

In the minutes dated March 4,1870 Rev. John H. Day, Rev. T. C. Bell and J. O. Lewis held a revival at the church. In 1879 Rev. J. W. Fitzgerald was serving the church as pastor. Elders serving at this time were Lawson Roberts, J.D. Rushing and B. W. Myracle. Wash Myracle was an early settler as well as Winnie Welch, Henry Welch, Mrs. Anna Chalk, Lois Roberts and H. G. Lacy were the only members of the first church who later became members of the reorganized church.[67]

Presently serving as Elders of the church are Alvin Myracle, Elco Teague, Lewis Welch and Fred Brasher. George Brasher is serving as Sunday School Superintendent, Mrs. Helen Welch Brasher is serving as Church Treasurer and the pastor is Rev. David Lancaster.

Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Beacon

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Beacon was organized by a Brother Gossett in 1893. Services were held in the school building prior to the construction of a new church. The foundation was laid for the church building in September 1893.[68]

The land was deeded by Kit Thomas. Elders of this church in the 1930's were C.R. Matlock, Thades Hayes, Murray Norman and Troy Alexander. Rev. Jessie Douglas served as pastor of this church in the early 30's. The membership at that time was around twenty-five (25) and it was going down so it was decided to move the church to Parsons.

In 1948 the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church was built in Parsons on Virginia Avenue. Members from the rural section assisted in the construction.

Parsons Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Rev. J.E. Flemming, Field man for the synod of West Tennessee visited Parsons and contacted a number of people who expressed an interest in having a Cumberland Presbyterian Church here.

Mr. I.M. Vaughn, stated Clerk of the Madison Presbytery, made a number of visits here, giving encouragement to the efforts of the people in the establishment of a church in Parsons in the years of 1946-47.

On April 28, 1947 a number of interested persons met at the Farmers Bank in Parsons and appointed a local committee on building and finance. The committee was composed of B.C Dailey, Chairman, Vernal Pettigrew, C.B. Livingston, Dean Livingston, Miss Edith Marchbanks, Miss Erlby Mae Marshbanks, Rev. J.J. Douglas and R.C. Livingston.

At a meeting of the Madison Presbytery, October 14, 1947 in Lexington, Tennessee a commission composed of B.L. Rochelle, O.J. Douglas and I.M. Vaughn was appointed to raise funds and proceed to construct a building in Parsons. At this time the Presbytery appointed $1800 in cash and authorized the commission to borrow a maximum of $3,000 to be used in the construction.

The Presbytery also authorized the moving of the church building from Saulsbury, Tennessee to be used in the construction of the church here.

On January 15, 1948, a meeting was held in the basement of the Methodist Church in Parsons. Thirty two (32) persons were present. U.N. Vaughn introduced the Rev. J.T. Buck, Field man for the Synod of West Tennessee, who spoke concerning his work with the local persons. The amount of $660 was subscribed for the building fund at this time.

Rev. Buck had charge as the leader, directing the local committee in its work, aiding in the purchase of the lot and assisting in the purchase of materials and services for the building.

The lot was purchased from Mrs. Exie Bohannon, at the corner of Buckner Street and Virginia Avenue on February 20,1948 at the cost of $800. The local committee furnished the money for said purchase.

Ground breaking ceremony was held on the lot July 10, 1948 with Rev. J.T. Buck in charge. The Honorable Will Long, Mayor of Parsons, delivered the address expressing the appreciation on the part of the officials and citizens of Parsons for the establishment of a Cumberland Presbyterian Church here.

The building commission of Madison Presbytery employed Mr. H.F. Matlock to be in charge of the construction. His crew moved here on July 20, 1948. The interior of the building was completed October 29,1948.

On October 31, 1948, Rev. J.T. Buck and Rev, and Mrs. Vaughn Fults began a revival in the new building. The attendance at the first service was 80. The Sunday School met for its first session, November 7,1948 with an enrollment of 60. The revival closed November 10 with fifty-one (51) persons enrolled as charter members. The people gave $165 to cover incidental expenses of the revival and presented Rev, and Mrs. Fults with an offering of $200 as their expression of appreciation.

On November 18, 1949, Vernal Pettigrew was elected as clerk of the session and R.C. Livingston was elected as treasurer of the church.

O.J. Douglas and R.C. Livingston were appointed to nominate the officers and teachers for the Sunday School for 1949.

The Presbytery met at Parsons on April 12, 1949 and Everett McIllwain was elected as key man from the congregation for the Presbyterian Laymen's organization. On motion, Rev. A.D. Salisbury was invited by the session to come on a prospective trip to the church relative to becoming pastor at a time suitable to him.

The charter membership includes R. C. Livingston, Mrs. Martha Livingston, Lester Marchbanks, Mrs. Byrda M. Pratt, Mrs. Lillian Walker, Mrs. Exie Bowman, Mrs. Charlie Kindle, Charlie Kindle, C. S. Livingston, Mrs. C. S. Livingston, Mrs. A.J. Dailey, Mrs. Wesley Dailey, H.L. Riley, Mrs. Roxie Miller, Mrs. Bonnie M. Hayes, Mrs. Annie Riley, Peggy Riley, Mrs. J. J. Odle, Rebecca McIllwain, Bonnie Dee McIllwain, Claudie Hooten, O. J. Douglas, J. H. Hays, J.W.P. Lewis, Mrs. J. W. P. Lewis, Opal Douglas, Doris Douglas, Thelma Douglas, Jack Goff, Mrs. Jack Goff, Lela McMurry, Mrs. Ida Lackey, Mrs. Lena Yates, Nell Farlow, Lorna Hooton Cotham, Mrs. Dorothy Greer, Bertha Taylor, W.E. Lackey, Everett McIllwain, Mrs. J. L. Cothem, Mrs. J.J. Spence, Harold Logan Spence, Vernal W. Pettigrew, Inez Davis Pettigrew, W. A. Tuck, Mrs. W. A. Tuck, Collins Wesson, Dean Livingston, Lawana Bohannon, and Miss Sue McMurray.

On November 14,1948 the Rev. J. T. Buck presided in the election and ordination of the elders of the church. R. C. Livingston, Lester Marchbanks and Everett Mclllwain were elected, ordained and installed. O. T. Douglas was elected and installed.

The first pastor to serve the new church was Marion L. Garrett. He was followed by Morris Clerk. Others who have served are J. Howard Scott, Vernon Burrow, Sam Wayman, J. W. Dancer, Julian Welch, Marvin Wilkins, Kermit E. Neal, Harold Reeves and the present pastor, Bill Herringlake.

Soon the church members outgrew the building and on November 18, 1951 at a session, the board of trustees were authorized to negotiate a loan of $4,700 on a 12 year plan from the board of finance to be used in purchasing a manse and in erecting an annex to the church. The Manse was purchased first and later an annex, which included a kitchen was added. Later in the 1960's a large two-story annex was added furnishing additional Sunday School rooms, nursery, fellowship hall, kitchen and pastor's study.[69]

Parsons First United Pentecostal Church

In the early part of 1944, three Pentocostal ministers living in the town of Parsons and knowing of several persons of this faith who were making their homes in or near town, felt the need of a place of worship. After much consideration, these brethren planned a revival during that year. Rev. E. J. Douglas, Rev. A. N. Graves and Rev. W. M. McClure contracted Rev. A.D. Gurley of Corinth, Mississippi who began a revival campaign in the month of September.

At the close of a two weeks revival, on Sunday, September 24, 1944, Rev. Gurley, who was also District Superintendent of the Pentecostal Church, Inc. organized the Parsons Pentecostal Church with twenty-five members. The congregation elected Rev. W. M. McClure as the first pastor of this new church.

Plans were begun at once for a church building, and on the day the church was organized some $1,800 was raised in pledges and cash.

The original officers of the church were Rev. W. M. McClure, Pastor, Mrs. Verna Taylor, Secretary-Treasurer, Rev. E.J. Douglas, Rev. A. N. Graves and L. K. Yates, chairman, Rev. E. J. Douglas, Secretary, Rev. A. N. Graves, Treasurer and C. L. Yates and Rev. W. M. McClure, members.

Weekly services were held in homes while the committee was in the process of finding a building site.

On March 12, 1945, in services being held in the home of Mr. & Mrs. Floyd Graves, Rev. W. M. McClure tendered his resignation as pastor. The congregation then elected Rev. A. N. Graves as pastor.

On May 1, 1945, a small house was rented for worship services, and the Parsons Pentecostal Sunday School was organized with much interest.

Due to failing health, Rev. A. N. Graves resigned as pastor on May 27, 1945. On May 30, Rev. E. J. Douglas was elected to fill the place as pastor.

With the building committee and Pastor working hard, a building site was purchased in the 800 block of Tennessee Avenue, South and a basement building was soon completed for worship services. The first service was conducted in this building on November 17, 1945 with Rev. Rexie Wilcox of Memphis as the main speaker.

In April of 1947, Rev. E. J. Douglas resigned as pastor and Rev. A. N. Graves was again elected pastor.

A parsonage for the church was completed in May 1951 with Rev. and Mrs. A. N. Graves as the first occupants. Rev. Graves continued to serve the church as pastor until his resignation on June 1,1952 and Rev. M.B. Ellis of Nashville was then called by the congregation to pastor the church.

On December 20, 1953, Rev. M. B. Ellis resigned as pastor and Rev. R. B. Boyd of Bemis, Tennessee was elected to serve in this capacity.

During the pastorate of Rev. Boyd, the main structure of the church was erected, being completed in the year of 1955. The building committee consisted of Rev. R.B. Boyd, Russell Graves, Osco Taylor, Jim Camper, C.L. Yates and Rev. A.N. Graves.

Rev. R.B. Boyd continued to serve as pastor until November 26,1961. At this time Rev. James E. Mead from the state of Arkansas was elected pastor and served the church until the summer of 1963.

On August 1,1963, the church called Rev. W. A. Singleton of Bemis to serve as pastor on a temporary basis. On June 20,1964, Rev. Singleton was elected as full time pastor of the church. He continued as pastor until October 8,1972 at which time his resignation was effective.

The church called Rev. Robert T. Miller of Herrin, Illinois as pastor in November 1972. Rev. Miller, his wife, Mary and two sons Phillip and Evan moved to Parsons and began his pastorate on December 28, 1972. They reside at 305 E. Fourth Street in Parsons and continue to serve the church to the present time.[70]

The brick edifice is a great addition to the town of Parsons, located across the street from Salant & Salant, Inc.

Other Pentecostal Churches in Decatur County include: Mt. Tabor Pentecostal Church, Mt. Carmel United Pentecostal Church, Beacon United Pentecostal Church, Decaturville Pentecostal Church, Rushings Grove Pentecostal Church, Iron Hill Pentecostal Church, Full Gospel Pentecostal Church and Sulphur Springs Pentecostal Church.

Keeton Springs United Methodist Church

The first church building here was on a hill, which served as church and school combination. A second building was built in a valley just below the hill. Robert (Bob) Keeton deeded the land for the church January 1,1900. A fine spring of cold water, known as the Clerdy Spring for the Clardy family was near by. The Keetons bought this farm from the Clardy family in 1851.

In 1911 Professor A. J. Veteto taught a vocal music school here and later John Weatherford taught music schools here. Beatrice Taylor, sister and brothers composed a quartet at this building.

ln 1946 the second building was torn down and services were held in Union Hall School House until the new building was completed in 1948.

Among some of the older members are B. B. Keeton, Ora Keeton, John Keeton, Hester Among some of the older members are B. B. Keeton, Ora Keeton, John Keeton, Hester Keeton Brigance, Ben Brasher, Hester Brasher, Oval Keeton, Flora Keeton, Sarah Emily Keeton Adkisson, Robert F. Keeton, Lonie Lafferty, Gabe Tucker, Lena Artis, Omer Butler, Violet Butler, O. C. Cordle, Floyd Johnson and Maynard Johnson.

Among pastors who have served the church since 1919 are Rev. Harvey Clark, Rev. J.P. Trout, Rev. A.G. Barnes, Rev. John Davis, Rev. Gibson, Rev. B.l. Crider, Rev. Jimmy Fisher, Rev. Jimmy Walker, Rev. Charles Brinkley, Rev. John Middleworth, Rev. John Archer, Rev. Phillip McClure, Rev. Charlie White, Rev. Bennie Hooper, Rev. Neil Hinson, Rev. Humphry Ware, Rev. David Haley and Rev. George Barnes who is presently serving as pastor.[71]

Cub Creek Hall Missionary Baptist

The Cub Creek Hall Baptist Church was organized in 1890 by the name of New Pleasant Ridge Church. In later years, the name was changed to Cub Creek Hall church for the community in which it was located.

The original one room log building was located just across the highway from the present church.

In later years John Quinn gave the land for a new two story building. The lower floor was used for church services and a school during the school term. The upper floor was used for the Cub Creek Masonic Lodge. It is located ten miles north of Parsons.

The oldest minutes to be found records the church held the fifty-fifth session of the Beech River Baptist Association. That was in 1925.

In 1961 a new one story building was erected and Rev. Donald Bain was elected pastor in 1976.

Among the early preachers who served here were A.U. Nunnery, W.H. Hooper, Nick Duke and Clarence Mullins. The oldest is believed to be Nick Duke.

New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church

The first building was a log structure and it is thought to have been in the late 1700's; however no date has been found. It was located in the north end of Decatur County near the Henderson, Benton, Carroll County lines which is called "County Corner".

In later years the log building was torn down and a one room boxed building was erected. This served the congregation for a while and in 1966 and 1967 a modern brick building was built.

The Southwestern District Missionary Baptist Association was held at this church in 1851 according to an old minute book.

Among the pastors who have served here were Clarence Mullins, Woodard Bartholomew and A.U. Nunnery. The present pastor is Holland Campbell who was elected in 1976.[72]

Hopewell Baptist Church

Hopewell Baptist church was formally organized on August 5, 1900. Although this was the first written record, old settlers say services were held in a one room log house close to the present church site.

The first pastor according to written records was Rev. J. B. Hayes. Bro. J. R. Lunsford was elected first church clerk. Among the first Deacons to be ordained by the church were W. T. Rhodes, Bro. Bill Goodman and Bro. T. J. Ashcraft.

Other pastors who have served the church during the years include Bro. W.M. Wood, Bro. Alvis Moore, Bro. Z. R. Overton, Bro. T. J. Park, Bro. C.V. Jones, Bro. T. H. Boyd, Bro. Richard Rogers, Bro. W. L. King, Bro. A. U. Nunnery, Bro. C. L. Haggard, Bro. G. G. Joyner, Bro. J. T. Todd, Bro. Silas Smith, Bro. Donald Franks, Bro. Eamel Broadway and Bro. G. C. Roper, Jr.

Among the church clerks who have served during the years are J. R. Rhodes, Willie Elvington, J. T. Rhodes, J. W. Campbell, L. E. Rhodes, W. H. Wilkins, Sybern Riggs and Lounell Moore.

At one time the church served a two fold purpose, that of a church and public school; however, that was eliminated in the 1940's.[73]

Corinth Methodist Church

(written by Blanche Tuten)

The Corinth Methodist Church, which is located between Scotts Hill and Saltillo, dates as far back as the early 1830's. It first came into existance after my great, great, great grandmother, Mary Dougherty Creasy with her four sons, Stephen, John, Jeremiah and Ambros Ranson and two daughters, Judy and Polly, traveled in a covered wagon from Goose Creek, Virginia to Decatur County about the year 1830. They were believed to be the first settlers in the Thurman community; therefore, more than likely they founded Corinth Church.

There has been a total of five different church structures and four building sites since its founding. The first church structure was located between Thurman and the Point Pleasant Road.

My aunt Pafford Thomison remembers that the second church was built on the hill at the end of the road across from Corinth Spring. She states that the "sleepers for the structure were on the same side of the road as the Pearson place near where the church now stands."

The third church house was built by the cemetery on November 12, 1890. The land was deeded to the church by Lewis Goff and C.N. Creasey and consisted of two tracts of two acres. The trustees of the church at this time were C.N. Creasy, C.B. Creasy and G.B. Conder.

This building was also used as a school house during the week. One of the teachers was my great uncle, C. Perry Patterson, who later became a very educated man and was a Professor at the University of Texas. He had also started his school days in the Old Corinth Church. Two of his nieces that attended school under his teachings are still living; one is my mother Hattie Alexander Strawn of Bath Springs and my aunt Pafford Alexander Thomison of Saltillo.

In 1921, a new Corinth church was erected in the same location as the third one. All of the labor was donated by the people of the community. It was made of framed weather boarding and had 8 to 10 windows. Inside there were homemade pews with a platform which extended all the way across the front part of the church. The pulpit was in the center with choice pews on the right side and the "Amen" corner on the left side. The piano was also on the platform. Heat in the winter was provided by a wood stove. The first pastor of this church was Rev. Deshazo.

In 1968 the 5th Corinth church was erected to replace the frame one. It was constructed of concrete blocks with hardwood floors and electric heat. The walls were paneled. At the entrance of the church there is a foyer which has a Sunday school room on each side. A platform extends across the front on which the pulpit and piano is located. The choir pews are also on the platform on both right and left sides.

A major portion of the construction was done by the people of the community, especially Rev. Neal Hinson, who donated all his time to lay all the concrete block structure. The structure was financed on a "pay as you go basis" until the finishing part was reached. My husband, A.C. "Bud" Tuten, was hired to finish and wire the building.

The first church service was held on December 15, 1968. Following services a potluck dinner was spread around the wood stove in the old frame church and was enjoyed by everyone.

Bishop H. Ellis Finger, Jr. held the dedication service in the year 1969. The pastor at this time was Rev. Neal Hinson and Mrs. Agnes Wyatt, my sister, was the Sunday School Superintendent. The chairman of the building committee was Genie Wyatt and other members were Alf Shannon and Mrs. Neva Sue Delaney.

Improvements have been made since it has been built. The church now has central heat and air-conditioning and is carpeted.

Corinth Church is a circuit church with services being held every first and third Sundays. Sunday School is held every Sunday. Names of some of the pastors that have been associated with Corinth Church is Sandusky, Tom Newt Smith, Bill Dickson, White, Cromwell, Hartley, Crill, Stacks, Frank Bulle, Jack Britt, Ruel Chumney, Elbert Phillips, Fred Blankenship, George Wilson, Frank Blankenship, and Alan Rainey.

Decoration day and dinner on the ground is held every third Sunday in May. This is the time for many persons to come home, decorate their loved ones graves, and re-new old acquaintances. This day is still highly observed by many persons.

Corinth Cemetery is beautiful and well-kept on a dead-end road next to the church. There are approximately 450 graves. Corinth has one of the most unusual graves in the county. It is the grave of a small child, some say the first person buried here.

I've heard several stories about the child's grave. One is that a pioneer family named McIntyre was traveling in a covered wagon across the country and camped for the night. During the night the baby died and the next day they buried the child with simple rites and each of the six remaining members of the family planted a cedar seedling to mark the grave. Some of the hearby settlers told of the incident and from then on people began burying their loved ones close to the tiny grave.

Early citizens tended the young cedars. Gradually people began to come regularly to clean off graves and hold memorial services. The little grave is now marked by those cedars which have grown very tall and straight and on decoration day the tiny unknown grave is always decorated by the members of Corinth church.

I have traced back and I believe there are 8 generations of my family that have attended Corinth Church. It is believed to have been started by my great, great, great, grandmother Mary Daughtery Creasy. Next was her son, Ambros Ramson Creasy. Ambros had 13 children and most of these made up the third generation of church attenders. Mary Ann Creasy Kincannon Young Patterson, my great grandmother was one of his children. She was very active, a staunch Methodist and donated her time and money for Corinth Church. She helped in the construction of church number four and hers was the first funeral to be held in this new church. She was also the mother of the great educator, C. Perry Patterson.

The fourth generation to attend Corinth was my grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Young Alexander.

Hattie Alexander Britt Strawn makes the fifth generation. She is now 83 and the oldest living member of the church.

Her daughter and my sister Agnes Britt Wyatt was the sixth generation of the Creasy group. Agnes is now deceased but while living she was a very hard worker in the church.

Her son, Billy Joe Wyatt, and his daughter, Misty, now attend church there. This is the seventh and eighth generations.

Most of the families that attend Corinth are direct descendents of the first believed settlers of the Thurman Community. Some of these families that help give their time and effort to keep Corinth Church strong are Pafford Thomison and her children, Genie Mapul Wyatt, Oneava Mitchell, Faye McBride, the Tommy Wyatt family, Betty Kincannon Montgomery and family, Maggie Kincannon, the Gilbert Wyatt family, the Charles D. Creasy family and others.

These families are to be commended for their hard work toward the upkeep of the church and cemetery. Circuit churches are slowly fading, however and Corinth Church is still very strong and active.[74]

Mt. Tabor Pentecostal Church

The Mt. Tabor Pentecostal Church, located on the Old Decaturville Road near Parsons, has roots deep in Decatur County's history. Not far from the present church location once stood a log structure that was built in 1840. This building was used as both a school and as a church. A Methodist congregation worshiped here and was pastored by a "circuit rider".

A revival was held near the log building in 1918. The evangelist was Rev. E.J. Douglas, one of the first Pentecostal ministers to have visited the area. Services were usually held outdoors under a "brush arbor", but when inclement weather came, they were conducted in the old log school and church. At the close of the revival, Walter and Francis Herndon, Jim and Bertha Graves and Will and Ethel Graves signed a deed donating property for a new church. A building was started immediately and is still in use today, making it one of the oldest Pentecostal churches in Tennessee.

The founding pastor was Rev. E.J. Douglas. The first trustees were: Rev. A.D. Gurley (later to become one of the most renowned evangelists and respected ministers in the United Pentecostal Church International), Walter Herndon and J.A. Graves. Others attending the new church were: Antha Graves, Georgie Graves, Ruby Graves, Otis Graves, Carrie Gurley, Clyde Gurley, Grady Gurley, Mittie Herndon, Ester Houston, Mollie Lancaster, Eliza Mclllwain andAntha Stone.

Today, the Mt. Tabor Pentecostal Church still worships in its original building, but the founding fathers might never recognize the structure. Several additions, a columned porch, a bricked exterior and a complete interior renovation have vastly altered and improved the building. A parsonage stands nearby and beautifully maintained, community cemetery borders the church property.[75]

Herndon and J.A. Graves. Others attending the new church were: Antha Graves, Georgie Graves, Ruby Graves, Otis Graves, Carrie Gurley, Clyde Gurley, Grady Gurley, Mittie Herndon, Ester Houston, Mollie Lancaster, Eliza Mclllwain and Antha Stone.

Today, the Mt. Tabor Pentecostal Church still worships in its original building, but the founding fathers might never recognize the structure. Several additions, a columned porch, a bricked exterior and a complete interior renovation have vastly altered and improved the building. A parsonage stands nearby and beautifully maintained, community cemetery borders the church property.75

  1. The History of Tennessee 1952 publication, Parks and Folmsbee
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. The Story of Tennessee by Parks & Folmsbee
  5. Ibid.
  6. Goodspeeds History of Tennessee
  7. Ibid
  8. Sue McMurray and Goodspeed's History
  9. Taken from ‘TheTrinityTabernacle Story' by Betty McCarty
  10. The Story of Tennessee Parks & Folmsbee
  11. Rev. Willard Watson, Pastor of Parsons United Methodist Church
  12. Mrs. Ernest Frizzell
  13. Mrs. Ernest Frizziel
  14. Compiled by Edna Miller & DorothyTyler from Church journal.
  15. Lewis Wheat
  16. Mrs. Will E. Yarbro
  17. Author's knowledge
  18. Author's knowledge
  19. C.A. Palmer
  20. CopyfromArchive Building in Nashville.
  21. Jackson Sun Newspaper
  22. Addie Fonville Hefley
  23. Marjorie Alexander
  24. Allene Baker
  25. Mrs.Addie Fonville
  26. Carl Partain
  27. The Messenger Newspaper
  28. Mrs. Addie Fonville Hefley
  29. Ibid
  30. Carl Partin, RaymondTownsend
  31. Compiled by E.H. Wylie
  32. History of the Association by Ruth Carrington, present clerk.
  33. Ibid
  34. Mrs. Rhonda Quinn, Vernon Striegel and Mrs. Vet Conder
  35. Lealon Wyatt
  36. W.K.Brooks
  37. Martin Brooks
  39. Dorothy Wallace
  40. Olan Houston in a personal interview
  41. 1842 Minute Book
  42. Ruth Carrington
  43. Goodspeeds History
  44. Register's Office, R. L. Haney researcher
  45. Ibid
  46. Horance Eugene Troutt
  47. Weldon Welch
  48. Article, News Leader June1972
  49. Information from Mrs. Eula Martin Rogers
  50. Roy Anders
  51. Mrs. George Pettigrew
  52. Jackson Sun clipping 1965
  53. Information contained in the booklet printed 1974 commemorating the 25th anniversary of the district, which belonged to Mrs. E.C. Holland.
  54. A.H. Hayes letter, Jan. 10, 1976
  55. Ibid
  56. Mrs. Hilda Welch
  57. Ibid and Obie Hendrix
  58. Obie Hendrix
  59. A.H. Hayes
  60. George Cotham, Jackson, Tennessee
  61. Mrs. Lois Duck, Decaturville
  62. Information from Judy Townsend
  63. Elder and Mrs. V.A. Odle
  64. Mrs. Opal Miller member
  65. Mrs. Opal Miller
  66. Emma Lou Teague from Church Record
  67. Mrs. Orpha Lacey
  68. The Messenger Newspaper, Parsons, Local Mentions
  69. Session Church Records
  70. Information by Rev. Robert T. Miller
  71. Compiled by Beatrice Taylor and copied byTim Keeton
  72. Dorothy Taylor and Edna Miller
  73. Compiled by Mrs. Jeanette Rhodes
  74. Compiled by Blanche Strawn Tuten assisted by daughter Nancy Tuten Jones.
  75. Compiled by Nathan Boyd, Rev. R.B. Boys, Colleen Weatherford, Clara Lancaster Hayes.

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