yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


Helen Burress and Kenny Cavness

The information contained herein does in no way represent a full, indepth history of Wildersville Baptist Church. An attempt was made, however to honor those who not only went before us, but to call attention to those who continue the work of this church. We beg your indulgence in judging our efforts to be within the scope of the information available, the time we had after the thought was conceived, as well as no personal knowledge on the part of either of us as to what transpired in the earlier days of the Wildersville Baptist Church.

Helen Burress
Kenny Cavnes

The United Baptist Church of Christ worshiping at Mt. Pisgah met in conference and assembled at Wildersville on Wednesday the 15th of September 1871, for the purpose of constituting a church at Wildersville, Henderson County, Tennessee at which time 13 members were dismissed in full fellowship for this purpose. Those charter members included: John S. Watson, Newton Williams, Susan L. Williams, Lenora A. Sayle, Hariet Murphy, Gracy Murphy, Jo Ann Parker, Mary Watson, Elizabeth Watson, Tennessee Hood, Azilla Myracle, Martha Keeling, and Harrissus Hood.

The organization first adopted the Articles of the Faith and the Church Covenant. The church bible was presented by Gardner Webb, Elder at Mt. Pisgah. After being legally organized, the first order of business was to open the doors for new members, elect a pastor and deacons. The first pastor at Wildersville was G. D. Webb and the first deacons were John Watson and D. H. Williams. The first church clerk was James L. Williams.

At this time the church organized prayer meetings and Sabbath School and agreed to observe the Lords Supper twice a year--in May and October.

The meeting place of the Wildersville Baptist Church was located at the Wildersville Star College. This was during a period when Wildersville was located at what is known now as Wildersville Hill. Star College was located on land now owned by Fay Kizer and stood about 50 yards east of the Fay Kizer home, where the Wildersville Road is today.

In October 1895, the church voted t build a church and appointed a committee to report beck at the next regular conference. In the same meeting, a motion was made that Wildersville Baptist Church call for its letter from the South Western District and at the earliest possible date join the Beech River Baptist Association. At the next church meeting a vote was taken in reference to the building of a church at Wildersville or Parkers Crossroad. It was first decided, by one vote, to build at Parkers Crossroads. However, for some unknown reason, the church voted to hold the next regular meeting at Parkers Crossroads and then move to Wildersville.

The deed was made by Dee (D.E.) McCollum and the amount pledged to build the building was $215.25. In April 1896, services were held the new building for the first time. It is believed that this building was located at the site of our present church.

From available records, the early days of the church were of a dedicated membership, a membership attempting to adhere strictly to the Articles of Faith, the Church Covenant and to the Rules of Order. It is, therefore, not surprising to find that a real effort was made to discipline members, and to assist those who attempted to honor those requirements by preaching the truth, by assisting those in need and in furthering the spread of the gospel, as well as withdrawing fellowship from those believed to be untrue to the doctrines of the church.

It would be impossible for us to list all the names of those responsible for the organization and ongoin9 work of the church, but .from records we find many family names appearing over and over again, Sometimes in leadership roles, occasionally as a deacon or any member of the church. Again, be aware that all names cannot be listed because of limited space. In alphabetical order were the names: Anderson, Austin, Adazns, Azbill, Bolen, Britt, Burch, Butler, Bruce, Brewer, Carnal, Carrington, Cozart, Cunningham, Dodd, Dameron, Dickerson, Derryberry, Evans, Edwards, Fesmire, Finch, Franks, Fronabarger, Garner, Gilliam, Gordon, Howell, H&l, Hendrix, Harris, Horn, Hamilton, Uale, Halbuook, Jarrett, Jowers, Kizer (Kiser), Lewis, Lindsay, Leslie, Laws, Murphy, Maxwell, Myracle, Mincy, Meggs, Moore, Massey, Marlin, Nickles, Ozier, Olive, Parker, Priddy, Phelps, Pruitt, Rosser, Rush, Roberts, Renfr9, Reed, Scott., Sanders, Todd, Tate, Walker, Williams, Whitaker, Wood, Wallace, Wall and Waugh. This listing was taken from records through the 1930's. Many new names of those who stood by their churcn through the good and the bad times. Their names are written in the Book that really counts, but again, are not listed here for want of space. All those listed were not necessarily in leadership roles, but were at least they were member of this church.

For the younger members of our congregation, we present some information concerning the finances of the church. Many times the pastors were paid with produce from the farms because of the scarcity of money. Prior to 1900 several members pledged to pay 10 cents on every monthly meeting day for missions, some pledged 5 cents per month. An adequate number of minutes of action taken by Beech River Association cost as little as 50 cents up to $2.00 up through the 1930s. Records in some cases list names of those contributing to the pastor's salary. The most affluent members paid no more than $1.50 per month, some paid 50 cents and others, 25 cents. Totals during the Great Depression rarely were more than $12.00 to $15.00--(Note the page indicating that salary paid to Bro. Boyd in 1940). Things were beginning to look up as we note his salary was often a little more than that. This paid for a preaching service and business meeting on Saturday afternoons and sometimes a worship service on Sunday. (The Sunday service was not on a regular basis. It was during these Saturday afternoon services that many members found themselves being cast out from the church membership on charges ranging from heresy, drunkeness, swearing, non-support of the church, mistreating orphans or any conduct unbecoming to a christian. Each accused person was usually given an opportunity to deny the charges with acceptable explanations or were allowed to "make their acknowledgements to the church", which we interpret to mean confess and ask forgiveness of the church, to explain their reason for non-support or whatever the offense might be. In many instances, even after many, many years excluded members came back, asked forgiveness of the church, and were received back into full fellowship.

It would be most interesting to wonder what such a Saturday afternoon session as they practiced in those days would do to our membership.

Plans were made for the annual "big meeting" often referred to as the "protracted meeting" by requesting the pastor to "get someone to preach and someone to lead the singing". Whether or not we are right about the word "protracted" is in question, but we have been told that it meant that a starting date would be set but the closing day would be left to the leadership or the Holy Spirit which would be evident evident in the interest of the people.

In 1917 a collection was taken to have the church roof repaired, and at about that time some mention was made regarding the possibility of having the building insured. A total of $212.50 was collected for the repairs. The first mention of regular mission giving was made in 1906. On what appears to be an annual undertaking, a box was prepared to be sent to the Orphans' Home. During these early days of the church the Church Clerk would be requested to bring the Church Book to the next meeting and call the roll of the membership.

It was customary also during those years to call the preacher for a period of no longer than twelve months. Bros. Ball, Nunnery and Boyd were among those recalled year after year for several consecutive years.


G.D. Webb, 1871-1873
J.R. Hall, 1873-1877
J.A. Long, 1877-1877
J.P. ArnoId, 1877-1880
D.W. Perkins, 1880-1882
J.F. Towns, 1883-1886
J.R. Hall, 1886-1887
F.L. Dupont, 1887-1889
W.F. Dorris, 1899-1890
J.T. Nowell, 1891-1892
J.R. Hall, 1892-1895
W.S. Frizzell, 1897-1897
W.H Petty, 1897-1898

Some o. the Church Clerks during this same time period include: James Williams, D.H. Williams, A.H. Fronabarger, J.R. Hall, S.L. Carnal, J.W. Murphy, M.L. Carna1, T.J. Parker, M.C. Carnal. M.C. Carnal served as Church Clerk from 1897-1945.


T.F. Moore, 1899
W.H. Petty, 1900
W.F. Savage, 1901
Fleetwood Ball, 1902-1905
C.H. Bell, 1905-1907
Fleetwood Ball, 1908-1912
T.M. Boyd, 1913-1916
A.U. Nunnery, 1917-1933
No letter to Association 1934
E. H. Martin, 1935
T.M. Boyd, 1936-1940
W.A. Mcody, 1941-1946


G.G. Joyner, 1947-1948
J.O. Smothers, 1951-1953?
H.B. Burress, 1954-1960
James Dennison, 1961-1964
Doyle Fagan, 1966-196 7
Richard Tapscott, 1968-1970
Howell Gossett, 1970-1973
Wilford Hunter, 1973-1981
Eugene Egbert, 1981-1984
Mitchell Metcalf, 1984-Present

Church Clerks serving during this period include J. H. Franks, Anna Gray Franks, Judy Owens, Betty Walker, and Arlie Bee Kizer.

The following list of names is of those who have been members of this church for many years and for the most part, still attend and play active roles in it's work:

Ethan Bolen, 1911
Ester Bolen Pratt, 1915
Annie Louise Britt, 1926
Lucille Derryberry, 1939
Lewis Evans, 1933
J.H. Franks, 1937
Brytte Fronabarger Gibson, 1926
E. L. Horn, 1932
Vera Kizer, 1916
Myrt1e Kizer Parker, 1926
Thomas Parker,1928
Claude Roberts, 1938
Elgar Scott, 1940
Mrs. Dennis Todd, 1942
Glen Walker, 1921
Fay Kizer, 194l
Raymond Fesmire, 1941
Tollie Derryberry, 1942
Larry Todd, 1948
Jeweldean Myracle, 1941
Neva Derryberry, 1943.
Eva Derryberry, 1941
Zelma Webb Reynolds, 1941
Annie Gray Franks, 1942
Opal Olive, 1942
Qpal Soloman, 1948

Some of the church records for the period of 1940's-1960's have been misplaced or lost.

Some of the more recent historical events include:

1966--Ordained 3 new deacons: John Nowell, Willie Bowman and Leslie Atkinson, Jr.

1968--Church organized Training Union

1970--Added a fellowship hall to the church.

1971--Church licensed 5 members to the ministry, ordained one to the ministry. Total of 51 baptisms.

1972--Raised Cooperative Program and association monies from $75.00 to $100.00 per month.

1978--First Senior Adult Day. First Gideon speaker.

1979--Ordained 4 new deacons: J.C. Halters, Denver Pratt, Randy Crowe, and Johnny Lee

1981--Purchased new church pews. Church sponsored the first Halloween Haunted House with money being sent to the Baptist Childrens Home.


This is a brief history of Wildersville Baptist Church. How thankful we should be for the records that were kept by our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. Their dedication was great. We hope this short account of the early history will inspire someone to dig even deeper and publish a real "History of Wildersville Baptist Church". We feel sure there are several of you out there who have written accounts as well as personal recall of other events in the history of this church. We hope you will share this information and pictures to be used at a later date.

[Note: The history as originally issued included several pages of photographs. The copy this web page is being made from is several generations away from the original and the photographs are much too poor to scan. A list of photograph captions follows.]

First Photo Page:
Second Photo Page:
Third Photo Page:
Fourth Photo Page:
Fifth Photo Page:
Sixth Photo Page:
Seventh Photo Page:
Eighth Photo Page:

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