yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


compiled by Brenda Kirk Fiddler

Letter from Claude Roberts

[The following letter by Claude Roberts from Tyler, Texas, was published in The Lexington Progress, October 1, 1975. Additional information about the families included in this letter may be found in the "Roberts Family History" compiled by Peggy Roberts Busbee in 1989. The book is available in the Tennessee Room at the Everett Horn Public Library, Lexington, Tennessee.]

As a matter of historical record and value to all those who are descendants of the charter members, as well as all members of the church of Christ at Christian Chapel, I obtained a copy of the clerk's record of the church from the time it was organized until July 1914, and I would like to pass the information on to those interested.

The church was organized in a school house near the home of John B. Davis on the Sulphur Fork of Cub Creek, Henderson County, Tennessee, August 22, 1860. Matthew Wilson was called on to preside as elder. John B. Davis, M. W. Hendrix and John M. Selph were appointed elders. Willis B. Rogers and John B. Halbrook were appointed deacons. William Lovell was appointed clerk December 9, 1860. He was one of the first school teachers in all that section of the state of Tennessee. He was my mother's great uncle. My mother was Elizabeth (Betty) Lovell. W. B. Rogers was appointed treasurer January 13, 1861.

On August 29, 1861, Henry Sanders Wood and his wife, Jane (Altom) Wood were received into the church by the right hand of fellowship. On the second Sunday in August 1870, he was set apart to the work of an evangelist by the church, giving him a letter signed by the elders, recommending him as a preacher of the gospel to the brethren and friends everywhere. He was born February 13, 1824, and died December 29, 1903. He was the father of my grandmother, Eliza Ann (Wood) Roberts, who married William R. Roberts. My father's name was John A. Roberts. Henry Sanders Wood was a powerful preacher of that day and time. He was married the second time to Mary Frances Nichols, a widow, after the death of his first wife in 1893. Three daughters by his second wife still survive and live in or near Lexington. My grandmother Roberts was immersed by W. A. Johnson on the second Sunday in June 1867. My grandfather Roberts was received into the church on confession from the Baptist church by letter on the same date.

During the great political rebellion of 1860, the church continued to meet until sometime in 1862. Owing to the troubled condition of the country, the members thought best for their personal safety and well being to absent themselves until more favorable opportunity should offer, and there were no regular meetings until some time in the year 1865, when the members that survived began again to come together from their respective homes and endeavored to resume their regular meetings twice a month until about August 15, 1866, when W. A. Johnson held a two day meeting, resulting in the addition of six members. A meeting house was built about this time at its present location. On October 5, 1866, E. A. Land held a meeting with the addition of five members. Among them was Margaret A. (Ridings) Lovell, wife of William Lovell mentioned above. On August 11, 1867, Johnson and Land held a meeting for several days, resulting in 13 new members. Rachel M. Wood, daughter of Henry Sanders Wood, who married Henry Gibson, was one of the new members. She was my great aunt.

On the second Sunday in October 1868, 11 members received the right hand of fellowship. Among them were my aunt Sarah Dickerson, Daniel Small and wife, Rachel Ann (Altom) Small. Let me add here that all the descendants of the William R. and Eliza Ann Roberts, and the descendants of the Daniel and Rachel Ann Small are all related.

Henry Sanders Wood and Daniel Small married sisters, Jane and Rachel Ann Altom. Their parents were Spencer and Christina Altom. Daniel Small was the oldest son of Andrew and Polly (Seago) Small. He had three brothers and two sisters, John W., Thomas, Andrew, Mary Jane and Nancy. Daniel and Rachel Ann had eight sons and one daughter, Willis H., David, who died very young, William M., John Parker, Daniel (Dan), Andrew Jackson, James Henderson (Jimmy), Hill Patrick and Rebecca (Becky) Jane. John W. Small was immersed in June 1867. He married the first time Nancy Jane Wood, daughter of Henry Sanders Wood. They had one daughter, Mary Jane, and two sons, William Thomas and Alexander (Alex, the old time fiddler). The second wife of John W. Small was Sarah M. Lovell, the daughter of William and Margaret Lovell, who were mentioned earlier. Sarah was immersed on the third Sunday in May 1869.

There is an article in the clerk's record book of the organization of the Church of Christ at Antioch meeting house, seven miles northeast of Lexington, on Saturday, before the second Sunday in July 1871. Those who organized the church there and were members were Daniel and Rachel Small, John W. and Sarah Small, William R. and Eliza Ann Roberts, Nancy T. Small, David C. Altom, Arry Wilkerson, Ann McCarrel, Burrell Wilkerson, Levi Burkett, Matilda C. Burkett and Sarah Dickerson.

There were about 68 members worshiping at Christian Chapel in 1871. From this time until 1881, there were no records kept of the activities of the church. E. A. Land must have held a meeting there in 1881, as notation was made that S. P. Hendrix made the confession and was immersed by him September 6, 1881. Then Bro. J. C. Lewis held a meeting beginning September 4, and ending September 11, 1887, with 15 additions. In March 1888, Bro. Lewis agreed to preach for the church on Saturday night before the first Sunday and on the first Sunday of every month. In 1889 the record states that Bro. Lewis preaches for the church on the first Sunday of every month.

Those who held meetings for the church from 1888 until 1914 were: J. W. Johnson, W. J. Johns, James Henry, Bro. Smith from Lawrence Co., D. W. Cook, R. T. Cisco, E. E. Toland, R. P. Meeks, J. H. Hill, J. P. Litton, C. M. Gleaves, J. L. Holland, W. M. Ethridge, J. B. Trigg, W. A. Cisco, J. P. Lowrey, Bro. Brown and C. S. Austin. Bro. Austin's meeting is the last entry in the record. It began the fourth Sunday in July 1914, resulting in 18 additions to the church.

The church house was burned down April 1, 1893. It was rebuilt in January and February 1898. During this period of time the members evidently met and worshiped at New Bethel, [church meeting house in "Old Safford" community] as the record shows a Bro. Smith of Lawrence County began a meeting there on the night of March 22, 1894. There were also meetings held there each of the following three years. The church at Christian Chapel now has a new modern brick building on the site of the first one built there. May the Lord continue to bless them in their adherence to the truth of God's Holy Word.--Claude Roberts. Tyler, Texas

1871 Membership List

John B Davis
Clariser Davis
Sarah A. B. Davis
W. H. H. Hendrix
William Lovell
William B. Rogers
John H. Halbrook
Rebeca J. Haibrook
Chronicle S. Brandon
Elizabeth C. Eubank
Stephen G. Harris
Melvina Harris
Jane Hendrix
Henry Harris
Clarrisa H. Wilson
Martha G. Davis
Cynthia Wilson
Margret Hendrix
H. S. Wood
Jane Wood

Sarah A. Davis
Christina C. Wood
Lucinda T. Davis
Carroll Beasley
Ann Beasley
James A. Wilson
Margret A. Lovell
Paralee Hendrix
Joseph' Harris
Alfred Brinkley
David I. Davis
Mathew H. Davis
Gilbirt H. Wilson
Jane Wilson
Peachy Harris
John W. Davis
John C. Hendrix
Tennessee Hendrix
Eliza A. Rogers
Mendy? B.? Rogers

Rachel Wood
Elvey Johnson
Mary J. Halbrook
Mary J. Wilson
Alexander Rogers
Mary J. Rogers
Paralee Harris
Thomas Harris
Adaline Boyd
Thos. B. Boyd
Samuel W. Holmes
Mary J. Holmes
Martin R. Derryberry
Mary T. Davis
Sarah E. Halbrook
Elsia? J. Boyd
Eliza E. Boyd
R.? C. Harris
Key Hester

June 8, 1951
Lexington Progress

Christian Chapel Homecoming Set June 24

The elders of the Christian Chapel Church of Christ announced the sixth annual homecoming services for Sunday, June 24.

The young men from the Tennessee Orphans Home, Spring Hill, Tennessee, will conduct the 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. services. Dinner will be spread on the grounds at noon.

Several hundred visitors from many sections of Tennessee and neighboring states are expected to be present for the occasion. All are invited to bring some dinner and spend the day.

The Christian Chapel congregation, which began meeting August 2, 1860, has recently completed a beautiful brick veneer building, one of the best in the county.

Charles L. Brown, a recent graduate of Freed-Hardeman College, and whose home is in this community is the present minister. H. A. Bradfield, preacher and principal of Wildersville Elementary School, lives in the community. Morgan Taylor, who preaches at Campbell, Missouri, and W. A. Poe in Memphis also hail from Christian Chapel. W. A. Bradfield, promotional director at Freed-Hardeman College, likewise, grew up here. He will do the preaching at the annual gospel meeting this year from July 27 to August 5.

Some of the other men who have preached at Christian Chapel in the past are John W. Jarrett, Hugo Allmond, Thomas C. Whitfield, Theatus Pritchard, R. L. Roberts, Luther Roberts, J. R. Stockard, Hubert Dill, W.N. Hudson, Joyce Hendrix, Coleman Overby, E. P. Watson, I. A. Douthitt, F. O. Howell, E. M. Borden, H. A. Brown, C. A. Ashlock, John C. Graham, Joe Cook Van Dyke, Harold V. Trimble, Darder K. Novack, Stoy Pate, Steve Hudgins, Paul Ayers, Stanley Jones, Earl Woods, M. B. McKinney, N. B. Hardeman, L. H. Pogue, Alonzo Williams, W. L. Denton and many others.

The present elders of the congregation are J.C. Stephens, Roby Fiddler and Troy Stephens.

Homecoming and Decoration at Christian Chapel Church of Christ. Photo-Brenda Kirk Fiddler.
Photograph from Henderson County, Tennessee: A Pictorial History
by Emily Davis and Brenda Kirk Fiddler

1953 Homecoming Article by W. A Bradfield

[Article written by W. A. Bradfield for Christian Magazine (1953) about Homecoming Day at Christian Chapel Church of Christ, Henderson County, Tennessee. Information about the author, W. A. Bradfield, states that he was the promotional director of Freed-Hardeman College and a product of Christian Chapel.]

Hazel Wallace Bradfield and W. A Bradfield with their daughter Linda
in 1957. Photo-Robby Wadley Wallace. Photograph from
Henderson County, Tennessee: A Pictorial History
by Emily Davis and Brenda Kirk Fiddler

On June 29th the editor of Christian Magazine was over at Christian Chapel near Wildersville, Tennessee for the annual homecoming. In the morning he spoke on "Why We Believe the Bible" and at night lectured on Europe and the Holy Land and showed some of the Kodachrome movies he made on his 1950 trip to Palestine. There were big crowds, including many visitors and a big "dinner on the ground."

The Christian Chapel congregation dates back to 1860, the second Lord's Day in August, when the congregation was organized with John B. Davis, M. W. Hendrix, John M. Selph and Matthew Wilson as elders. Ellis Rogers and John M. Halbrook were elected deacons. During the War between the States the congregation was forced to meet in homes and various other places. At that time the congregation took the name Christian Chapel which it has held for 87 years.

This congregation has a complete record of all meetings, baptism, etc., from the beginning. Beside the names of many members is the word "Deceased" but they, like Abel of Old, being dead yet speak.

Some preachers who have gone out from Christian Chapel are Morgan Taylor, Campbell, Missouri; Tenny Brewer, Humboldt, Tennessee; H. L. Bradfield, Wildersville, Tennessee, and W. A. Bradfield, Henderson, Tennessee The present preacher at Christian Chapel is Charles Brown. W. A. Bradfield held a good meeting last year and John Jarrett of Louisiana, Louisville, Kentucky, is in a meeting this month (September) there.

Homecoming is a big day at Christian Chapel. From far and near — even from other states — come cars full of people. The services are inspirational, the visiting superb and the fried chicken, country ham, cakes, pies and lemonade would make every little boy (and big one too!) wish for two stomachs. Some of the homecoming speakers have been: 1946, W. A. Bradfield; 1947, N. B. Hardeman; 1948, Stanley Jones; 1949, Tennessee Orphan Home Boys; 1950, Judge Sam D. Tatum; 1951, Tennessee Orphan Home Boys; 1952, George W. DeHoff. And, come the last Sunday in June, 1953, the Lord willing, it will be "Homecoming at Christian Chapel."

[Note: The annual homecoming date later was changed to the third Sunday in July.]

Church Records

The book, Christian Chapel Church of Christ Church Records, has been microfilmed by the Tennessee State Archives and is available at the Archives.

Brenda Kirk Fiddler has transcribed the record from the original book and made available her transcription to various persons including Laura Waddle, who created an index. The transcribed manuscript is available in the Tennessee Room at the Everett Horn Public Library. Also available in the Tennessee Room is the "Davis Family History" compiled by Mrs. Billie Jones which includes the John B. Davis family history and Brenda's transcription of the church record.

Following are selected excerpts from the record including the notes added beside the members' names.

A Record of the Meetings Helt at Christian Chapel

The under named Disciples of Christ convened at the School House near Brother John B. Davises on the Sulphur Fork of Cub Creek, Henderson County, Tennessee, on Wednesday the 22nd day of August in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixty and proceeded to organize into church capacity by calling Brother Mathew Wilson to preside as Elder who proceeded as follows to wit:

Article 1 at the instances of Brother Wilson as Elder, Brother John B. Davis was appointed Elder, at the instance of Brother John B. Davis, Brother M. W. Hendrix was also appointed as Associate Elder. At the instance of Brother Wilson, Brother John M. Selph was also ordered to the Eldership.

Article 2 At the instance of Brother John B. Davis, Brother Willis B. Rogers was appointed Deacon and at the instance of Brother M. W. Hendrix, Brother John H. Halbrook was also appointed Deacon.

Article 3 And that we do covenant not to forsake the assembly of ourselves together and that we take the scriptures of the New Testament to be our only rule of Faith and practice.

John M. Selph
Elisa J. Selph
John B. Davis (deceased)
Sarah A. B. Davis
Mervile W. Hendrix (deceased)
William H. Hendrix (Removed to Holly Hill)
Willis B. Rogers (deceased July 21, 1887
Jane A. T. Rogers (deceased)
Nathan C. Wilson (excluded)
John H. Halbrook (excluded)
Ephraim Hendrix (deceased May 28, 1862
Adonifer A. Wilson (deceased)
J. Wilson (excluded)
S. Brandon
Elizabeth E. Eubank

After singing and extending the right hand of fellowship, we were dismissed to meet on Thursday at eleven o'clock. Met and continued until Friday when Stephen G. Harris was added to this number of Disciples. Also Mary Hendrix (deceased) was added and also Lorcena Hendrex (expelled) was added on Thursday being the day before 23rd of August and 24th.

[Another excerpt copied from the church record]]

During the great political rebellion of 1860 we continued to meet until sometime in the year 1862.

Owing to the troubled condition of the country the members thought best for their personal safety and well being to absent themselves until more favorable opportunity should offer and was no regular meeting until sometime in the year 1865 when the members that survived the gun again to come together from their respective homes and endeavor to resume their regular meetings twice in every month until about the 15th of August 1866 when Brother Johnson held 2 days meeting resulting in the addition of six members as follows:

William T. Brinkley
Edith T. Brinkley
Christinna C. Wood
Lousanda T. Davis
Carroll Beasley
Ann B. Beasley

The fore named Christians that has been formally [worshiping] at the school house near Brother John B. Davis's having built them a house do agree that it shall be known by the name of Christian Chapel.

Additional information entered in the back of the church record book included the following record:

Contribution of the Church at the School House near Brother John B. Davis's and expenditures on Sunday same being assembled in church order taken up a contribution where upon there was contributed $1.65

payed Brother Hendrix .35
Leaving in the Treasury Funds $1.30
expended for wine .50
2 plates at .10
Report of Treasurer Jan. 27
Leaving in Treasury .60
Expended for wine .50
Reported for 2nd Sunday in May
August 2nd Sunday Contributed $1.65

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