yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


from the First Baptist Church Vertical File, Everett Horn Library, Lexington, Tennessee

Lexington Progress
Wednesday June 21, 1989
Historical Notes
By W. C. Crook III

I endeavored some time ago on the beginnings of a history for First Baptist Church, Lexington, and have been somewhat remiss in completing it. However, a synopsis of some brevity can be pulled from the materials present.

First Baptist Church was constituted in January, 1842, the first church in Lexington, but Baptists had had congregations throughout the County for some twenty years prior. Middlefork Primitive Baptist Church had been formed in 1823, and Jacks Creek Church in 1828.

Seven members of the Collins, James, Brown, Lee, and Shrewbury families gathered to form the church, the Reverend Elisha Collins presiding as their first minister. Even though a city church, First Baptist met only once a month, in good ole Baptist fashion, but by 1886 were meeting on both the Second and Fourth Sundays of every month. This was in the time before people met three times on Sunday and once on Wednesday night, a habit I can't quite force myself into, but made up with their fervor what they may have lacked in frequency.

The first building was erected in 1845, a one room brick structure near court square. Collins served as pastor until 1852, when J. V. E. Covey took his place for a year. C. L. Cote served from 1853 till 1854, and Reubers Day from 1854-1856. The Rev. J. Cole took the mantle from 1856-1857, and was succeeded by M. H. Neal in 1858.

Neal still served the church when the War Between the States ensued, with a membership of 76 souls. In 1862, he was replaced by W. J. Hodges--and the congregation was replaced with the mules of the 3d Michigan Cavalry. War had come to Lexington, and even though Henderson County had voted to stay with the Union, Lexington was to be raped, pillaged, and burned for the next three years by her Yankee visitors. Southern Baptist shared a building with Southern Methodists during this time, and [met] as well as at the courthouse. But our friends with the 3d Michigan fired the courthouse, and the records of the church were lost to fire on February 5th, 1865. John S. Fielder, the church clerk urged members to send in their names when new church books were began, and are the present surviving records.

Whether the church house itself was burned or simply too badly mistreated to serve as a house of worship remains unclear, but the congregation refused to meet there even after the war was over. In 1868, the congregation, along with the local Masonic Lodge (Constantine #64 F&AM) met to consider a joint operation in building a new church house. The Elder W. J. Hodges delivered the dedication sermon in the new building from the 8th chapter of Kings, and Acts 28:22. This second house of worship was located on Fielder Avenue, across from the west side of Ms. Eva Pafford Helms. A photograph of the congregation gathered outside the church still survives to mark the event, the lot having been donated by John S. Fielder, who was an object of an article a few weeks ago. The next building was completed in 1911 on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. John W. Stewart, an ancestor of Mr. Virgil Stewart of Lexington. This lot was on the corner of Church Street and Natchez Trace Drive (formerly Adams Street), just below where Wood's True Value is presently located.

top · home · yesterday's · families · schools · links · what's new · memorial · about

This site was created by David Donahue and Brenda Kirk Fiddler.
This site is currently maintained by Jerry L. Butler
Copyright © 2004 - 2010, All rights reserved