yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


Mary Eugenie Rushing

(Presented at New Hope Church as part of bicentennial program, also presented at fairgrounds at Lexington as part of the Henderson County American Revolution Bicentennial Celebration.)

The early years of New Hope Church are lost or unknown except some vague memories among our elderly people, and memories of the log church vary. Mary Sefronia Thomas Smith, who lived 1854-1952, believed there had been two log churches here, but nobody has any memories of one burning or being torn down. We do not know how often "Aunt Fronie" came here, but her father is buried here, and she traveled the road past the church often she said, going from her home in the Cross Roads or Oak Grove neighborhood to Scotts Hill to trade. Sometimes she walked and stopped along the road to rest. She preferred the stores in Scotts Hill to those in Lexington--more choices of cloth she said. No doubt the building changed enough in outside appearance that she thought it was a different building, and it might have been. The first log structure was at one time a home, and the people either died or moved away.

E. E. Reed, Sr., remembered walking with bare feet into the old church, and the floor he was sure was dirt. My mother (Tinie Dyer Rushing) insisted in a conversation I overheard once that the floor was of boards. Since my grandfather, R. Dyer, during those years moved periodically from Shady Hill to Middleburg, it is quite possible that Mr. Reed remembered the church earlier than Mother remembered it even though she was older. Della Dyer Buck remembers a rough floor in the log church and split-log benches, but these were fancy split-log benches, and each was made with two logs, one on top of the other. At one time a shed or over-hanging roof extended across the back of the building, and the Negro people of the community worshiped there.

Two stories of this old log church have been passed down orally. In 1892 in the Christmas program nine children in the church were each five years old. They were Will Snider, Sarah Middleton Harrell, Tinie Dyer Rushing, Sam McCollum and Bobby Taylor. Four others are unknown. They each carried a letter of Christmas and said a small piece. None of them forgot theirs they said. The teacher of their card class and the one who probably directed the program was Mrs. Sallie Taylor, half-sister of Mrs. Bercie Smith and great-grandmother of Mrs. Jerry Hassell.

While the log church stood, one preacher, Brother England, stood out in all the people's memories, perhaps because of his invalid wife. She could use neither hands nor feet, and was always brought into the church by two men carrying her in a straight chair. Crowds were large and the church small, and Mr. Troy McCollum remembers only two very small windows which might have had shutters. Often Mrs. England would be gasping for breath, and somebody would fan her. The hospitality committee probably had problems because the custom was then as now that the preacher ad his family ate Sunday dinner with one of the families in the neighborhood. During Old Brother England's term this custom was extended, and the woman of the house fed the preacher's wife. Della Dyer Buck remembers that she had to be watered too. Della was big enough that she did that a few times.

Dr. McKenzie, the neighborhood doctor who lived at Shady Hill had married a teenage wife, and she dreaded very much her turn to entertain Old Brother England and his wife but was determined to do the job properly. Halfway through the meal Mrs. England burst out laughing and said, "Every time I open my mouth, you open yours."

The church and cemetery were here many years before Uncle Tommy Bird gave the land for a cemetery and a Methodist Church in 1875. Several dates on monuments are in the 1700s. David Bird, father of Uncle Tommy, was one of the first buried here. He lived 1788-1859. Jahue Deere was buried here in 1863, a Civil War casualty at age 16.

During the Civil War Jimmy Dyer and his son Robert who was only seventeen when the war ended, along with others in the community were draft dodgers, hiding from both the Northern and Southern armies. They hid during the day and sometimes at night in the church grounds. Big trees had been cut, and the thickets that had grown up made good hiding places. Also, the soldiers in both armies were somewhat afraid of graveyards after dark. None of the men were found. After the war there was not a sheet nor a quilt in the Dyer household. They had been destroyed or lost by the men in hiding. Perhaps this may explain why the women evidently enjoyed making the beautiful quilts they produced during the period of reconstruction following the war. One of these quilts is now on display in the Henderson County library.

We will notice that the first trustees of the church were not all Methodist. They were J. P. Davidson and J. L. Buck and also Martin A. Buck. The two Buck men were brothers and Presbyterians, sons of George and Martha Susan Buck who settled in Henderson County in 1824. Martin Alexander Buck is an ancestor of Howard Buck, Martha Jo and Shelia. Additional trustees on additional land given later for the cemetery were George H. Davidson, W. W. White and Thomas P. Bird. These were members of New Hope Church.

Mr. Will Snider is the only living person who remembers the building of the white frame church. He was a small boy of seven or eight and watched the work going on in 1894 and 1895. There is evidence that E. Treadwell was pastor during those years. The Odd Fellow Hall was built as the church went up and was not a later addition. W. W. Butler probably followed Treadwell as pastor.

Jimmy Dyer gave timbers for the white frame church in return for an oral agreement that Primitive Baptists could preach in the building. In the earlier years they often did. My mother remembers asking her father why Mrs. Youngerman (Mrs. Catherine Lofton Youngerman) always hurried down the aisle to shake hands with the preacher after the service, and he smiled and told her that that was the way to pay the preacher--pay him as you shake hands with him. He too was Primitive Baptist and no doubt had a small opinion of the collection-plate-passing Methodists. In the 1920s a Brother Tom Jowers preached here, it seems to me always on Saturday nights. I believe we came after we had our Saturday night baths. Brother Jowers tied his horse across the road; Mr. Troy Scott led the singing. There were always horseflies and bees buzzing around the swinging lamps, and Brother Jowers preached to the whole neighborhood. Uncle Isaiah Dyer and Aunt Caroline said they did not have to come to church; they could hear the service from their front porch. Mr. Ed McCollum hired him or invited him, I believe, but Mr. Ed was a Methodist.

Older people have said that "Grandpa Davidson" organized the first Sunday School here. If this is true, there was no Sunday School here until after the Civil War. We have a list of people who have served as Sunday School Superintendent through the years. These are Callie White Templeton, Dora Hart, M. Youngerman, Anderson Sego, Billy Reed, Sam Powers, Will Snider, E. E. Reed, Sr., Burgess Dyer, Eathel Middleton, Ernest Reed, Jr., Marvin Youngerman.

Marvin is our present superintendent. We are sure of the above names, for several of our older people have remembered them. These have been suggested as superintendents, or people who were active in keeping the church going on at one timeCook Middleton, Walt White, Sam Patton and Allie Belle Davidson.

Looking through an ancient Scotts Hill church book we found many people moving membership from Oak Grove to Scotts Hill, but only one, Estelle Horton Woody, moved from New Hope to Scotts Hill. There is evidence that New Hope has been on and off the Scotts Hill circuit through the years. Also in that book we saw some names marked "Dismissed," and we assumed they were, as we would say, turned out the church. E. Treadwell added 164 members to the Scotts Hill membership and many at New Hope, but we do not have that number.

Anderson Sego was what we now term a lay preacher as well as a singer. In 1922-1923 Mr. Sego was pastor on the Scotts Hill circuit. He did not choose to live in the parsonage, and Mrs. Ira C. Powers, Sr., remembers that she and her husband rented it for that year for five dollars a month.

Sometimes during the early 1920s an organ was put into the New Hope Church. Zula Reed Pafford, Maude Buck Snider and Ruth Waller Snider were usually the organists. Later in the latter twenties a piano replaced the organ, and Mrs. Helen Pafford Reed , whose father was a Methodist preacher, played the piano and taught two generations of us to love the ancient hymns of the Methodist Church.

In the year 1954 the present brick structure was finished. That story has been written by Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Reed, Sr., and has been published.

Go to New Hope Cemetery

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