yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


(Author unknown; time of writing unknown)

(Location northern part of Henderson County, near Parker's Crossroads, near Flake Cemetery)

Strayleaf is probably the oldest congregation of the Church of Christ in Henderson County still in existence. One older congregation, Holly Hill, did exist within the boundaries of what is now Natchez Trace State Park. That congregation ceased to exist in the 1930s when the park was built.

Christian Chapel was the first congregation to build a building and has a fairly certain date of establishment around 1860. The beginning date of the Strayleaf congregation is less certain, but seems to date to between 1840-1850. The first Strayleaf church building was built in 1895.

Before 1895, the Strayleaf church met in what is called the Strayleaf meeting house. This was a building used for a school during the week and for religious services on Sunday. There was no regular preacher and anyone passing through the community who preached would be invited to do so. There was no religious name attached to the group who met there, but they seemed content to use only the Bible as the source of their teaching. During this period there seems to have been very little religious division in the area of Henderson County. This Strayleaf meeting house was located close to what is now the L. G. Lewis residence.

In 1895 there was a building built on land donated by Dr. Laws, a prominent resident of the area. Shortly after that, J. C. (Jim) Lewis came to Strayleaf to preach.

He was given a farm by Dr. Laws and a pair of horses by Joe Boswell in order to preach for the congregation. Jim Bercheen [sic] was the carpenter who built the building.

At the time the church building was built a new school was also built which was referred to as the Sheep Shelter. The church and school occupied different buildings from that time on.

At the time the building was built the congregation was made up of basically five families. Those were the Laws, Boswells, Pearsons, Adams and Lewis families. The church had adopted the name Christian church by this time and continued to use that until around 1918 when the name was changed to Church of Christ. The congregation at Christian Chapel had a similar history being referred to as Disciplines of Christ in its early years. The name changes of both congregations occurred at the time division began to occur across the country on the questions of instrumental music and missionary societies.

During the years the memberships of this congregation has varied considerably. It almost died in the years just before the building was built (early 1890s), increased in membership until the fifties and has again declined to a membership of under 20.

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