From Lillye Younger, People of Action (Decatur County Printers, 1983). Special thanks to Constance Collett and the estate of Lillye Younger for permission to make this web page.
Nestled among the giant Hickory shade trees, four miles west of Trenton, stands a lofty landmark, that has deep roots in the County's history. It's almost 119 years old.
Hickory Grove Baptist Church, so akin to pioneer churches and school combinations, was "Constituted" in the Jetton School House the fourth Sunday in October 1863. In November 1863, it was named Hickory Grove Baptist Church.
Despite the fact that the Civil War was in full swing, the need was seen for a "New Testament Church." The religious pioneers pushed ahead, not knowing whether the building might be destroyed by the enemies, as was homes during these battling days.
Matthew Hillsman was selected to serve as Moderator when the church was established, later became pastor, according to the church's history. Those who adopted a declaration of faith and church covenant were listed thus, Mark Clay, Miss Lizzie Harwood, Mrs. Mary M. Harwood, Miss Lavania Hillsman, Benjamin Lyle, Mary Ivie, Daniel E. Jetton, Isaac Jetton, J. W. Jetton, Sr., Miss Nancy Jetton, Mr. and Mrs. John M. Moore, George W. Moore, Mrs. Lennington Moore, Dr. and Mrs. W. H. Wilson, Misa Emma Wright. and Mrs. Violet Wright.
This frame building became inadequate and in the late 1920s the present brick structure was built to replace it. At this time Hickory Grove School stood on the grounds near by and during the erection of this building school children played on the church ground at recess and lunch period.
My Grandmother, Mrs. Charles S. Washburn, called "Miss Lizzie," who reared me. always attended morning services. During my first year of school, I was very unhappy and my teacher, the late Miss Agnes Whitson Benthall, told me if I left school and went home with my grandmother another day I would get a whipping. I did it the next day, and each day until the revival closed. Somehow I never got the whipping.
The active church has kept abreast of the times and at the church's one hundredth anniversary, October 1963, descendants of these founders assembled to commemorate the occasion. R. Houston Harwood, Gibson County farmer whose grandsire was one of the founding fathers, was leader of the commemoration. On this occasion, the past history of the church, which had been preserved in a booklet, designed by the Rev. W. R. Hill was given to the world by John W. Jetton, Deacon.
Serving as officers of the church at this time were the Rev. James T. Douglass, Pastor, R. Houston Harwood, Sunday School Superintendent, Mrs. Pauline Lancaster, General Secretary, Mrs. Nell Jetton as pianist, Robert M. Jetton, Training Union Director, Woodrow Walker, Asst. Director, Mrs. Nell Jetton, W.M.U. President and Mrs. Fay S. Claybrook, clerk.
Since this date the church has lost four of her beloved deacons: Harry P. Claybrooks, R. Houston Harwood, Russell Ingram, and John W. Jetton, Jr.
The church received a gift from a devoted member and Sunday School Teacher at her death. Mrs. John Benthall (known as Miss Agnes) died in 1970 and left her home and possessions, located on the Dyersburg road, to the church to be used as the membership wished. The members made the decision to use a portion of the gift to build the Agnes Benthall Memorial Fellowship Hall. It was dedicated in 1974 during Rev. Jerry Legg's pastorate.
J. D. Mathis, Deacon Chairman, appointed the following to serve on the building committee: Lee Claybrook, chairman; Mrs. Pauline Lancaster, Mrs. Judith Scpuggs, Jack Jetton and Richard Skelton.
Pastors who have served this church from 1965 are Rev. William E. Boyer, Rev. Willie D. Burns, Rev. Jerry Legg, Rev. Tom Latham, Rev. Eddie Spegal, and Rev. Robert Tipton who is the present pastor.
In 1977 Rev, and Mrs. Tony Latham left the church for Foreign Mission Service in the Philippines. Richard Skelton, member of this church, was licensed to preach in 1974 and ordained in 1976.
Present church officers are: Sunday School Director, J. R. (Snooks) Williams; Asst. Director, Charles Scrugga; Music and Youth Director, Chuck Carothers; Asst. Director, Tom Clabybrook; General Secretary, Mrs. Judith Scruggs; Asst. Secretary, Mrs. Joyce Claybrook; W.M.U. Director, Mrs. Neil Jetton; Pianist. Mrs. Jewel Cole; Asst. Pianist, Vickie Tipton; Sunday School Pianist, Beverly Claybrook; Organist, Mrs. Nell Jetton; Church Clerk, Mrs. Fay S. Claybrook.
Sunday. October 19. 1982. Homecoming Day was held at the church. The morning sermon was preached by the former pastor, Rev. Jerry Legg, and a bountiful meal was served at the noon hour. The afternoon service highlighted a historical report of the church, special recognition, tributes, etc. Those on the program were Frances Jetton. Woodrow Walker, Lewis Jetton. Mrs. Norma Bayer, Dee Cromley, Helen Claybrook, Marilyn Tyree, Bob Cox, Richard Harwood family, Rev. Woodard of Bells.
Mrs. Buck Wade. 95, the former Douglas Washburn and family were present for the eventful day. Mrs. Hazel Kinzer, former Gibson County Health Nurse, County Executive, Mr. and Mrs. Ronnie Riley and family and numerous others whom I did not know since I have been away for half a century.
This article originally appeared in The Herald Gazette, Trenton, Tennessee