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Religion was not prominent in early pioneer days of Jackson County, Alabama

(Transcribed excerpt from HISTORY OF JACKSON COUNTY, ALABAMA
by John Robert Kennamer, Decatur, Al 1935:

Condensed by Josephine Lindsay Bass on July 26, 1996

All denominations met in the neighborhood meeting house

In the early settlement of the county, religion did not take as prominent a place as it did later. The average pioneer settler was not inclined to be strictly religious, but he was positive in whatever position he happened to choose. The neighborhood meeting house was built for all denominations to preach in and was also used as a school house.

The old Flat Rock High School in Jackson County, Alabama, owned by the Methodist Episcopal Church. 1930s (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Struggles between anti-mission and mission Baptist

The history of the earliest Baptists in the county was marked by a fierce struggle between the anti-mission and the mission Baptist. The Flint River Association was organized at Bradshaw’s Meeting House, Lincoln County, TN in 1814, and churches from the territory in Alabama were represented.

By 1821 the Mud Creek Association was formed at the Mud Creek Meeting House. This Association included all Baptist churches in Jackson and some in Sequatchie Valley, TN. The nine churches were located in Mountgilled, (Mount Gilead?) Mud Creek, Providence (Maynard’s Cove), New Hope, Hopewell, Blue Spring, Friendship, Paint Rock (in the valley), and Union, in Sequatchie Valley.

Isaac Reed was elected first moderator, Josiah Conn, Clerk. Delegates were John Kelly, Shadreck Herron, Samuel Wilson John Ham, Andrew Estes Hugh Gentry, John Owens, Levi Isbell, Elisha Blevins, Haden Willilams, John Belvins, David Bryant, James Dodson, John Jones, David Settles, Richard Wilson, Daniel and John Morris, John Williams, John Reed, Samuel McBee, Henry Gotcher, Jabez Perkins, David Kennamer, John Moon, Moses Maples, Joseph and William Maples, S. Stephens.

Some Baptist Preachers

Preachers of this church who were well and favorably known in their day are: John Williams, John Reed, Isaac Reed, Samuel McBee, Jabez Perkins, Wesley Sisk, Robert Chandler Elijah Berry, John J. Page, Peter Maples, Simeon Houk, Andrew J. Wann, John Butler, George F. Bulman, and his grandson George W. Bulman, M. R. Lyon, James Austin, Samuel Bean, Robert Morris, Lorenza Ivy, and son James Poke Ivy, and John Brannum.

Church of Christ in Scottsboro, Jackson County, Alabama ca. 1930s (Alabama Writers Project, Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Church of Christ, early leaders

Church of Christ has no creed but the Bible and has no organization larger than the local congregation. Its officers are the Elders and Deacons. The first church in the county was organized in Antioch, near Bridgeport in 1815. James Anderson was one of the first ministers of this church.

He began to preach in 1827. The Elders were Elisha M. Price, William King Andrew Russell. It is said the Antioch Church was started through the preaching of Barton W. Stone, E. D. Moore, and their associates. This no doubt is the first Church of Christ established in Alabama.

In 1846, the Antioch Church moved to Rocky Spring, the first building was of hewn logs, 20×30 feet, and had a stone chimney. It was destroyed by Northern soldiers during the Civil war. The following ministers preached in this house: Reese Jones, Tolbert Fanning James and Andrew Billingsley, Madison Love, and Sikes all from Tennessee, and Dr. Hooker of Georgia. George Washington Cone and Washington Bacon preached here before the Civil War.

Gray’s Chapel School in Paint Rock Valley, Jackson County, Alabama. ca. 1930s (Alabama Writers Project, Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Methodists of early Jackson County

In religious matters, the Methodists and Baptists have been keen rivals in the work of spreading their doctrines among the common people. With the organization of the Methodist Society, a central governing body made up of the bishops a definite policy could be carried to the frontier settlements. This led to the development of the circuit rider. The Jackson Circuit was named for this county. It was in the Tennessee District in the Tennessee Conference.d the circuit for 1823 – members 314 white, 22 colored.

Ebenezer Church, three miles east of Bryant, Alabama, on Sand Mountain near the Georgia line. ca. 1930s (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Slaves were members of the church of the whites

In 1822 Elias Tidwell and Richard Neely were appointed to Jackson, they reported at the end of the year 231 white members under their jurisdiction. Thomas A. Young and Greenberry Garrett were assigned the circuit for 1823 – members 314 white, 22 colored. It had all along been the custom to receive the slaves into the church of the whites, with the privileges of membership, not only by the Methodists but other churches.

From 1824 – 1832: James McFerrin and Arthur McClure, James was the father of William M. McFerrin, John B. McFerrin presiding Elder of the Florence District, Alexander L. P. Green, George W. Morris, Thomas M. King, James E. Brown, Richard Neely, George W. Morris, Samuel R. Davidson, Jacob Ellinger, Nathan S. Johnson, Issac H. Harris, Hiram M. Glass, Asbury Davidson, Elisha J. Dodson, and Robert Gregory. Jackson Circuit – 525 White and 38 colored. This church continued to grow until the division caused by the slavery question. The Southern churches were called “The Methodist Episcopal Church South.” The other part of the Methodist Church was called “The Northern Methodist Church.

Church buildings were often shared

The Northern Methodist in Scottsboro were provided for by Thomas J. Wood, who came here at a very early date, reared a large family, lived a long and useful life. His home was in Wood’s Cove, which bears his name. The Baptist, Presbyterian and Southern Methodist all used his house free. This was the first church house in the town of Scottsboro. It was burned in the great fire in Feb 1881.

The Missionary Baptist is a branch of the general religious body of Baptists. The great “split” or division came in 1836. The Missionary faction was not as strong as the primitives in Jackson County and for twenty years had only a few churches. In 1857 G. A. Mooring and Charles Roach organized the Tennessee River Missionary Baptist Association. The Free Will Baptists were merged in this organization. Emma Helton erected a Memorial Chapel at Pleasant Spring in 1900, staffed by Preston Brown and James Cox.

The Episcopal and Presbyterian church

The historian of the Episcopal Church in Alabama, Walter C. Whitaker, says: The first missionary work done in the county was in 1853 by T. A. Morris. Dr. Cary Gamble says: The work at Scottsboro was started by Dr. J. M. Bannister, who at the time resided in Huntsville. The Protestant Episcopal Church in America is the daughter of the Church of England, which came from the Roman Catholic Church, and claims Apostolic succession of their Bishops to the first church in New Testament times.

T.C. Blake the Presbyterian historian says: The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in Dickson County, TN, in a two-room log dwelling, Feb 4, 1810. The three ministers who organized it were Samuel King, Finis Ewing, and Samuel McAdow This church left the Presbyterian Church, originating in the great revival in Kentucky in 1800. In its government is the Synod, Presbytery and Church; and believes in an educated ministry. It has not grown as rapidly in the country districts as the Methodists or Baptists, but is a close rival in the towns.

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Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. Jim Nichols. Article on first church of Christ in Alabama

  2. Our ancestors were not as religious as we would like to think sometimes. The Second Great Awakening didn’t take hold until the 1820s and spread until the 1850s. In many families wei find men of that era with the first and middle names of “Lorenzo Dow “, such as Lorenzo Dow Marsh in my family. Lorenzo Dow was a traveling minister in the south during the early 1800s that stirred up a lot of “back to God ” feelings.

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