[EDITOR'S NOTE - Most of the following article concerning the history of Barton Chapel Congregational Church in Robbins was compiled over the years by Mrs. Nora West, Mrs. Ethel Justice and Mrs. L. C. Stonecipher. However, the article has been updated to include the period from the 1960s up to and including the present.]
The First Pilgrim Congregational Church at Robbins was organized by a group of people who had come from the North and East to the hills of East Tennessee at about the time of the building of the railroad and the construction of the tunnel just north of Robbins. These were the A. C. Ellis family, the Adam Ott family, the St. Clair’s, the Correll’s, the Bickers, the McNamara’s, the Kincaids, the A. J. Robbins family and others. Mr. Robbins constructed the tunnel and the town was given his name, 'Robbins." Mrs. Robbins was a cousin of Mrs. Ott, one of the members of the welcoming committee who so graciously welcomed the first pastor and his bride.
|The Congregation Church in Robbins was established in the 1880's with William E. Barton as the first pastor. This building, Barton Chapel, was erected in 1926 with Barton laying the cornerstone of the church in October of that year.|
A large building, which was later known as the Big Barn, must have served as a community center. The Robbins family and the Ott family arranged light housekeeping rooms on the second floor. A grist mill, a thresher and a store were also housed in this building. Here, the first Sunday School was organized and held. It is not definitely known if church was held here; however, it is probable that the church was organized in this building, which was located on the opposite side of the school road from the Ernest Hughett house, on the property formerly owned by Jasper Hughett and later by Jesse V. Reed.
THE FIRST CHURCH
The first church house was built across the railroad from Barton Chapel, north of the present Baptist parsonage. The land and probably much of the lumber for the building were donated by A. C. Ellis. This white frame church, with its belfry and tall spire pointed toward the sky, was the only church building in the immediate town for several years; that is until the Baptist church was organized in 1906. Here centered many of "the fond recollections of the childhood" of many of the townspeople. School was held in the basement of this early church with Mrs. Robert Noble as the very able instructor while the first Robbins High School was being built. A pastor of the church, Ernest Jones, was instrumental in making a high school for the community possible.
This building stood until after the present Barton Chapel was built in 1926.
THE FIRST PASTOR
|William E. Barton||Esther Treat Bushnell Barton|
The first pastor of the Robbins Congregational church was William E. Barton, a native of Illinois. He had made a short visit to the Robbins church and had held services while he was a student at Berea College and shortly thereafter, upon his graduation (1885), he returned to Robbins to become the first pastor of the newly organized church and also a circuit rider, to serve various outlying churches including those of Deer Lodge, Lansing and Glenmary.
He immediately bought a building lot and, with the help of townspeople, built a small frame house, to which he brought his bride, the former Esther Treat Bushnell of Ohio.
They were given a very warm welcome by the ladies of the community, who had brought their supper, had stocked their pantry well and had attached to the porch columns a "Welcome" sign made of native ferns sewed to white cloth.
The members of the church and other townspeople were very anxious to make the young couple comfortable and they were also quite proud of the newly-built cottage. However, "Pride goeth before a fall" and much to the consternation of all concerned, when a fire was built the smoke curled into the freshly painted interior and no amount of coaxing would induce it to go otherwise. Finally, it was deemed necessary to take drastic measures and it was found that some bricks had fallen into the chimney while it was being constructed. When the bricks were removed, the chimney worked very well indeed. The smoke curled over the house rather than through it.
Here in this small white frame house, William E. Barton and his wife Esther made their home for two years. Here their first son, Bruce, was born, August 5, 1886. But all good things must come to an end. The young pastor had shown his potential ability, and his friends advised him to further his education. This he decided to do and he exchanged the neat frame house in Robbins for one, not quite so neat, in Oberlin, Ohio, where he would be able to attend a theological seminary.
The entire community stood on the station platform at Robbins to bid “good-by” to the Bartons, who were leaving at midnight on the fast train.
They were gone, but neither the Robbins parish nor the Bartons were ever forgotten by the other. The Bartons maintained an active interest in the Robbins Congregational Church throughout their busy fruitful lives, and of course the Robbins people reciprocated.
Some of the pastors who served in the frame church thereafter were Gideon C. Clark, Edward A. Bridger, George Lusty, Mark A. Sumners, Chester W. Green, Henry P. Page, Ernest L. Jones, Balaam S. Oakes, James W. Davenport, Edward Schick, Reverend Koon, W. Stanley Rulon, John Henry Taylor, James W. Davenport and George L. Day.
Ernest Jones, as was mentioned earlier, was very active in promoting the education of the community.
The Reverend and Mrs. Oakes were an elderly couple who had grandchildren visit them in the old Parsonage.
Rev. Davenport came as a young minister and was ordained in the old church. He and Mrs. Davenport resided in the old Parsonage which is now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Satterfield, and one of their sons was born here. He and his family were with the church again in 1925-26. They were beloved by everyone.
Stanley Rulon and John Henry Taylor were both young and unmarried. A sister and brother of John Henry resided with him and attended Robbins High School.
Rev. Koon was here a short time with his wife and small children.
Mr. and Mrs. George L. Day, who were of English origin, came to serve as pastor and associate pastor in 1926. At that time, Barton Chapel was under way. Both Mr. and Mrs. Day were members of the English Established Church until they were grown. After they united with the Congregational church, Mr. Day served as pastor of the church at Walpole in Suffolk, England. In 1895, the Days went to Palestine and were engaged in missionary work for ten years. Mrs. Day spent one year teaching in Egypt. They came to the United States and spent several years in Minnesota, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee.
DR. WILLIAM E. BARTON
More than two score years after leaving, Dr. William E. Barton, now a nationally known figure, returned in 1926 to lay the cornerstone for the brick chapel erected in his honor. During this time he had been active in the field of religion and in other fields as well. He had served for twenty-five years as pastor of the First Congregational Church of Oak Park, Illinois, and had been a lecturer in practical theology at the Chicago Theological Seminary. He was the author of numerous books. The first and last years of his ministry were spent in Tennessee, for in 1928 he made his residence in Nashville, where he was lecturer at the Vanderbilt School of Religion and pastor of the Collegeside Congregational Church.
The son, Bruce Barton, became one of the several famous writers who are natives of Tennessee. After his graduation at Amherst in 1907, he became successively managing editor of the Home Herald, Housekeeper and Every Week, assistant sales manager of P. F. Collier and Sons, and Chairman of the Board of Batton, Barton, Durstine and Osborne, a New York advertising firm. He has also written several books, including the famous The Man Nobody Knows and The Book Nobody Knows. He has written many magazine articles and has been a prominent figure in the political life of New York.
The building of Barton Chapel was made possible by many generous gifts. The land upon which the church was built was given by Mr. Jasper Hughett. Dr. Barton gave $1,000 and Bruce Barton gave $500. The bricks for the church were donated by the Southern Clay Manufacturing Company from the brick plant at Robbins. The pews were a gift from the Evening Division of the First congregational Church of Oak Park, Illinois, in memory of Mrs. William E. Barton. The pulpit furniture was also a gift from the Oak Park church. It had been used by Dr. Barton until a fire destroyed the church building at Oak Park about 1912. This, the only furniture saved, was presented to Barton Chapel because of its association with Dr. Barton. The lighting fixtures were given by a Jewish friend in St. Louis. The first furniture in the building was also a gift. The piano was given by the Hargrove’s, a memorial to Lucile Ott, who was killed on the railroad here. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Ott and granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Adam Ott.
is how Barton Chapel and its parsonage looked shortly after its
completion in 1926. Very little has changed in this structure
which is on of just a few Scott County buildings on the National
Register of Historic Places.
|Front view (from west of U.S. 27) of Barton Chapel Congregational Church in Robbins, believed to have been taken in the 1930's.
The chapel, which is of Gothic design, with a wing which serves as a parsonage, was designed by Knoxville architects, Barber and McMurray, who gave their services free of charge. Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Hargrove gave generously of both time and money in finishing the church, the parsonage and the grounds and many other local people helped with money and time.
After the church was finished, Mr. and Mrs. Day moved into the new parsonage and endeavored to make the building a center of usefulness and social work for the community. Clothes were made by women working in the basement of the church. Money was raised by lecturers and through personal appeals to be used as an emergency fund and many dollars were spent for food, fuel, clothing, doctors and hospitalization. Children were carried to specialists and those with afflictions had special treatment. The church's young people's club and other local groups met in the chapel. The Day’s retired about 1935 and moved to Soddy, Tenn.
The Day’s were followed by a young man, Carl Dollar, who served for a short time, and by David L. White, who served for two years.
In 1940, Orval W. Sampson, of Michigan became pastor. He and his wife were very active with the young people. They promoted a club for the young people who were training at the brick yard site during the war. The basement was converted into a reading and recreation room and was kept open evenings. They remained here until 1943.
Charles C. Haun, who resided at Crossville, was pastor from 1947 to 1950.
The next pastor was William Schorman, presently of Iowa, who was also very active in the community. He and his wife and small children resided at the parsonage. His wife assisted as pianist.
R. H. Lasseter and Henry Weaver served very ably and endeared themselves to young and old alike during the period before the present pastor, Miss Annie Campbell, came to the pastorate.
A history of the church would not be complete without mention of some of the local members who worked so faithfully with the church.
Mr. and Mrs. Hargrove gave almost a lifetime of devoted service.
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Noble served faithfully for many years.
Mr. Jasper Hughett was faithful in attendance for many years.
Mrs. John Ott served faithfully as a teacher in Sunday School.
Many others, over the years have given freely of themselves and their talents.
The Congregational Churches and the Christian Churches were merged in 1931. At that time this church became known as "The Congregational Christian Church of Robbins." Now, since the union of the Congregational Christian and the Evangelical and Reformed Church, our national name has become "The United Church of Christ."
[NOTE: This concludes the early church history compiled by Mrs. West, Mrs. Justice and Mrs. Stonecipher.]
RECENT CHURCH HISTORY
Annie Campbell came to Barton Chapel to serve as pastor in 1960 and served faithfully the three churches in the Robbins Parish: Barton Chapel, Glenmary and Deer Lodge. She was affectionately called "Miss Annie". She was a great asset to the community as well as the church. She was always there when she was needed and was always willing to help in any capacity she could. She is still thought of in the community and throughout the county. She retired and went to Winter Park, Florida to take care of her sisters. She is missed by all who knew and loved her.
The next minister to serve was Lynn Gaylor. He came here from Alaska and served for a short period of time. He moved from here to Indiana.
Hugh Lassiter served as Interim Pastor between Lynn Gaylor and Larry Balleniene.
Larry Balleniene came from Wisconsin and served about a year when he married a girl from Scott County and they moved away. He is now pastor of a church in Wisconsin.
Rev. Mark Frey came in 1976 and left in 1983. He and his wife Margee moved here from Indiana. He served as pastor of both Barton Chapel and Glenmary churches. She taught school at the Plateau Home School in Morgan County and he served as the Director of Habitat. Their two children, Matthew and Meredith, were born during their pastorate here. They left Robbins to go to Zaire for two years as missionaries and to work as volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. We really miss them and are hoping that they will soon return to be with us.
|The Rev. Ralph Galt (left) poses with Judy West and Dr. William Schorman in May 1992 in the parking lot of Barton Chapel
||Gathering at Barton Chapel on Halloween in 1992 are, from left: Rev. Hubert Terry, Harry McCarty, and Pearl McCarty
Annie R. Campbell, who served as pastor of Barton Chapel in the
1960-1971 period, came back in June 1979 for a reception in her
honor. Pictured with her are Sonya Bowling, Nancy Jo Burton,
Rhonda Bowling, and Donna Marlow.
members of Barton Chapel Congregational Church pose in the church
parking lot. From left are Betty Robbins, Brenda Henry, Pearl
McCarty, and Lucile Norman.
Rev. Ralph Galt, who pastored the Barton Chapel Congregational Church
in 1983-84, is pictured at a recent Sunday School picnic
Rev. George Day was pastor at the Barton Chapel Congregational Church
in Robbins from 1926 through 1935. This photo was taken outside
Rev. Ralph Galt has filled the pulpit at intervals between our pastors. He is an ordained Congregational Minister and Missionary. He has been wonderful in every respect, filling the pulpit, and visiting throughout the community. Ralph was born in China of missionary parents - born in 1915. As a child he planned to be a rural missionary. He went to Yenching University at Peking, got the Bachelor of Divinity from Yenching University School of Religion in 1941. He graduated from Crinnel College in Iowa, also.
Ralph has been a rural pastor - a country preacher -in Oklahoma, Iowa, Virginia and North Dakota. His longest pastorate was on Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota - eight years. He also served as a college teacher for 12 years at Miles College in Alabama, and four years at Ysham Theological College in Taiwan.
Besides being a country preacher and a college teacher, Ralph was in the peace movement in Japan, China, Indiana, Kentucky, Iowa, Alabama, Tennessee and Nicaragua. He was in the civil rights movement in Mississippi and Alabama; in politics in Alabama, and in a prison ministry in Alabama.
Since 1961, people who have helped to keep the church functioning:
Mrs. Ethel Hughett Justice, Mrs. Nora Reed West, Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Edith Kiser, Mrs. Elva Hughett, Mrs. Gladys Hughett, pianist Mrs. C. Stonecipher, Lillie Goad, Mrs. Pearl Storey Lawhorn (now Mrs. Harry McCarty), and Flonnie Kline.
held for Robbins Chapel's Thrift Shop building. From left are
Mark Frey, unidentified, Lawrence Kline, Jimmy Tate, R. L. Robbins, and
gathered during groundbreaking ceremonies for the Barton Chapel Thrift
Shop are Margee Frey, Matthew Frey, Betty Robbins, Pearl McCarty, Irma
Jean Phillips, and unidentified.
|The Thrift Shop of Barton Chapel Congregational Church, located across U.S. 27 from the church.
||The Fellowship Hall of Barton Chapel Congregational Church in preparation for a Christmas dinner.
|Interior view of the chapel and alter at Barton Chapel Congregational Church in Robbins in 1994 photo.
McCarty, a deacon at Barton Chapel Congregational Church in Robbins,
has been a member of the church since 1932 -- longer than anyone else.
These women operated a thrift shop over the years in an old dwelling across the highway from the church. They helped with Christmas programs, taught Sunday School, supervised the youth group, and Elva Hughett and Pearl Lawhorn McCarty both served as superintendent.
The men who helped a lot were, namely: James Tate, Noah Lawhorn, Lawrence Kline, Charles Kline, John V. West, R. L. Robbins and James Lipscomb.
The present thrift shop was built under the direction of Ethel Justice, Lillie Stonecipher and Elva Hughett, who worked as a group. Betty Robbins, Judy West, Pearl Lawhorn McCarty, Lucille Norman, Jimmy Tate and Dorothy Lowe work there now.
The church members who work in the thrift store donate their time. Donations of clothing, bed linens, dishes, etc. come from cities far and near. The items are sold for low, affordable prices and a goodly portion of the goods are given freely to families whose homes have burned and to patients in nursing homes who are in need of clothing. Financial help is given to the local fire department and other civic organizations from the funds taken in by the thrift store.
On July 12, 1984 the Barton Chapel was named to the National Register of Historic Places.
In May 1987, Ella Kline donated an organ to the church in memory of her father, C. L. Kline.
For a small congregation, 25 active members, undertaking building improvement projects costing thousands of dollars are taken "right in stride." A new red, tile roof was accomplished in 1989; a new concrete basement floor was poured in 1991; asphalt was put on the parking lot in 1991; and a central heat and air conditioning unit was installed in 1992.
The large basement area, complete with kitchen and laundry, is used extensively by members for dinners and fellowship get-togethers. Attached to the church are comfortable living quarters for the use of the pastor and family.
Sunday School 10:00 am Sunday
Church 11:00 am Sunday
Bible Study 7:00 pm Wednesday
|Church sign facing U.S. 27 in Robbins.
This page was created by Timothy N. West and is copyrighted by him. All rights reserved.