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Written by J.H. Purifoy   


The Gospel Messenger—October 1889


The Hillabee and Wetumpka Associations are full of sound Primitive Baptists, and I am glad of it, because they are my own native Alabamians. There are some individual members who have a leaning towards the institutions of men, and some have been cut off for going with such.
When a church member shows more love and preference for a worldly institution than for the church it is better for that church to get rid of him as quickly as possible. The church is not the place for a man that has not the love of God in him. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”—l John, ii. 15. The man who can quit the church for worldly institutions reminds me of the man who will desert his wife or kill her before he will give up his concubine. “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” and the good that the institutions of the world work for the church is to fan the chaff out of her. I am glad, therefore, that we have the multiplied institutions of men in close proximity to the church of Christ. The first church I visited is located in the town of Tallassee, which is a manufacturing town on the Tallapoosa River. That night (Saturday) I preached to a good sized audience at the church in the town, after preaching I lodged for the night with Brother J. E. Kendrick, who lives near by the meeting house. On Sunday we had a large congregation of quiet, orderly people, except some youngsters, who did not behave well. And I venture to say that their conduct; was in keeping with their raising. People who are raised to behave at home generally behave well away from home. The name of the church at Tallassee is Salem, I believe, and has a membership of thirty-two, according to the last minutes of the Wetumpka Association. The pastor is R. B. Smith, T. J. Kittrel is clerk; post office Tallassee, Elmore county, Ala. I failed to obtain a full historical sketch of Salem. Three or four brethren from China Creek Church met me at Tallassee to convey me on. I met a large congregation there, and had a pleasant meeting indeed with them. This church is located in Elmore County, Ala., ten miles north of Tallassee, and was constituted Oct. 1, 1841, with ten members, by Elders Daniel Rowe and Ebenezer Nelson, the first of whom was their first pastor. First deacon was Benjamin Lacy; first clerk Henry Taunton; present pastor, Elder R. B. Smith; present deacon, B. F. Kelly; and present clerk, G. H. Parker who is also a member of the State Legislature from Elmore county. Present membership about 93. Regular meeting time, the first Sunday in each month and Saturday before.

Next morning Bro. Parker conveyed me to Mt. Gilead, a small church of twenty-one members, where a small congregation met me, but had a pleasant meeting. Elder Joel P. Sayers, the pastor, was present with me, and it was my privilege and pleasure to have him with me for the next three days. At Mt. Gilead Bro. D. J. Sayers took charge of me to convey me on to Bethel. Bethel Church is located in Coosa county. Elder J. H. Suttle is pastor, J. H. Johnson. clerk; present membership, as reported to last Association, sixty-five; regular meeting time 4th Sundays.

I should have stated before now that Mt. Gilead Church was constituted June 18, 1850 with eleven members, by Elders E. Nelson, J. W. Carter and Daniel Rowe; Elder Nelson was the first pastor, Bro. Allen Chappel first deacon, and Jackson Mimer first clerk. Elder Joel P. Sayers is her present pastor, and the present clerk is L. M. Parker.; regular meeting time, 2d Sundays.

From Bethel I was conveyed by brethren to Fish Pond Church, where I met a large congregation for a week day. This is the home church of Brother A. G. Holloway, our sweet singer in Israel. He has no superior in singing in our ranks, perhaps, none that I have ever seen or heard. At his annual singing, which is every spring, in May, there are, I was told, generally two thousand or more in attendance. Knowing that Bro. H. is a fine singer and teacher, I longed to visit Fish Pond, expecting to find a church full of trained singers, and hear the best singing of the whole tour; but how astonished and disappointed I was to find that the whole church had about turned all the singing over to Bro. Holloway. It seems that they so love Bro. H. and his singing. that they had much rather hear him sing than to take any part in it themselves, and have, therefore, gladly turned the church singing entirely over to him! Elder J. A. Suttle is the pastor of Fish Pond Church; Coosa county, Ala.; the membership is forty; regular meetings, 3d Sundays.

Bro. B. D. Towns met me with conveyance to Pleasant Hill Church. The turn-out at Pleasant Hill was not very large, but I hope some practical good was accomplished. For some time this church has been under the weather, so to speak, with internal trouble, but I hope that all will be well soon. May the Lord in great mercy visit Pleasant Hill and command order and peace, and restore unto them the joys of salvation. From Tallassee to Pleasant Hill I was in the bounds of the Wetumpka Association. The next twenty churches are all in the Hillabee Association. Bro Warren took me in charge at Pleasant Hill, and carried me home with him. Next day Bro. Warren conveyed me to Fellowship.

Fellowship Church was constituted Feb. 26, 1837, by the presbytery composed of Elder Helm Roberson and Deacon William Powell. Their first pastor was J. G. Eden, the next was J. Harlen, then R. W. Carlisle, then E. J. Wilson, (now excluded from the Primitive Baptist Church) then Benj. Flowers, then J. J. Cleveland and A. J. Whitten. The last two named have been serving the church since 1874. Total membership, as reported to last Association, is thirty-five; present clerk is A. F. Whitten; regular meeting time, 4th Sundays; yearly meetings 4th Sunday in July; post-office, Alexander City, Tallapoosa county, Ala.

I will here state, for the information of the general reader, that our churches, as a general thing, in the South, meet only once a month, holding their conference for church business, and the reception of members, on Saturdays immediately preceding the Sunday of their regular meeting time. Their annual and semi-annual meetings are their Communion and feet-washing meetings. The most of our churches commune and wash feet once a year, some twice a year, while others commune quarterly and wash feet once a year, and that at their annual meeting. Some Associations are divided into districts, so many churches to a district, and each district has a district meeting for appointing the time and place of the meeting of the Association a year hence; especially is the case in the district which in rotation is entitled to the Association the following year. The other business of a district meeting is similar to the business of an Association. These district meetings have no connection with the annual or semi-annual church meetings. In some places, however, where the Associations are not divided into districts, they have what are called union meetings, which are similar to district meetings, and are conducted pretty much on the same plan, except that union meetings usually close with communion and feet washing.

From Fellowship Bro. Cleveland conveyed me to Ephesus, which is located in Tallapoosa county, and has thirty-four members. A large congregation met me there, and we had a good meeting. I failed to get a historical sketch of any extent of this church. Bro. Jackson brought me near Bethlehem, my next appointment. The audience was not as large at Bethlehem as I expected it to be, but we had a pleasant meeting. Bethlehem was constituted Feb. 19, 1845, with seventeen members, by Elders John M. Person and James I. Dickson, the latter was their first pastor; their first deacons were William Brooks and V. D. Whatley; first clerk was William J. Saucy. Since constituted has excluded 29; dismissed by letter 184; restored 6; died 88; present membership 56. Present pastor, N. M. Cook; present deacons, L. R. Jackson and H. L. Hamlet; and Bro. T. J. Hamlet, jr., is now their clerk; their post-office is New Site, Tallapoosa county Ala.

Bro J. M. Blankenship conveyed me on to Bethany after spending the night with him. Bethany was constituted May 20, 1876, by Elders N. B. and E. Garrett, with five members; first pastor, A. R. Trible; first deacons, James Cardwell and Henry P. Lacy; first clerk, A. M. Conner. Since constituted, excluded to date, 12; dismissed by letter, 19; died, 7; present membership 18; present pastor, N. M. Cook; present deacon, W. M. Phillips; present clerk, J. M. Blankenship; has had four pastors; post-office, Ayrshire, Clay county, Ala. Bro. F. Nelson conveyed me from Bethany to my next appointment, Valley Grove. We passed by, or near by, a gold mine. After a good night’s rest at Bro. Nelson’s, I went on to Valley Grove much refreshed in my feelings, and found a large congregation waiting for us. As this church, as well as others in that region, had been troubled by some of her members joining the Farmers’ Alliance, I preached about idolatry that day, from the text, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Trusting in anything but God for eternal salvation, is idolatry, hence the idolatry of the day, in that particular, is in trusting in saying prayers, making a profession of religion, morality, etc., all are idolized, hoping to reach heaven thereby, Then to trust in anything but God to bless the labor of our hands, and give us success in temporal things, is idolatry, for God has laid down the rule for his people to work by to secure their temporal good. To ignore that and take up with something else is idolatry and rebellion, and stubbornness, which are as the sin of witchcraft, iniquity and idolatry.—1 Sam. xv. 22, 23. God’s rule is “Honor the Lord with thy substance,” etc., “so shall thy barns be filled with plenty.” “Trust in the Lord and do good, so shalt thou dwell in the land and verily shalt thou be fed.” “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” God demands obedience to him, and him alone, for both the temporal and spiritual good of his people in this world. They are to work out their own salvation from every false and idolatrous way; from error, and every way of disobedience, that they may see good and be blessed of the Lord in this world. No blessing is promised to the disobedient, idolatrous child of God. He will destroy all that go a whoring from Him. Their temporal peace will be destroyed, both in and out of the church; fellowship and communion with the saints will be destroyed, and the very way that seems right to them, the end thereof they will find to be the ways of death to their spiritual peace and joy, and to their temporal success and enjoyment. The Lord will surely stand by his faithful children who cannot endure idolatry and departures from his wise, unerring commands.

Valley Grove Church was constituted Nov. 13, 1873, with six members, by Elders H. W. Carlisle, H. J. Cowsert and J. J. Cleveland. Their first pastor was Elder John T. Pace; first clerk, Irvin Jones; first deacon, D. M. Mosely. Since constituted five have died; dismissed by letter, 76; excluded 15. Most of those dismissed by letter went into the constitution of other churches. J. A. Nix is their present pastor; F.M. Nelson deacon; and B. F. Jarvis clerk; present membership twenty-four.

Bro. John F. Brown was with me to convey me on to Pleasant Grove, some ten miles from Valley Grove. They have no meeting house yet, but are about to build. Their meetings are held in a school house. That day the school house was full of people, and we had a good meeting. Bro. N. M. Cook is the pastor of Pleasant Grove. The church numbers twenty-nine; post-office is Bluff Springs, Clay county, Ala.; regular meeting time, 2d Sundays. I thought I had a full sketch of this church, but find I have not.

Bro. D. M. Sparks conveyed me on to his house for the night, on the way to Providence church for a two day’s meeting, Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday the audience was so large that the meeting-house would not hold the people, so the meeting was held outside of the house. Providence Church was constituted Dec. 16, 1859, with fourteen members, by Elders G. W. Lowery and J. H. Duke; W. L. Taylor was their first pastor; J. Stephens, W. H. Miller, first deacons; and J. H. Waldrop, first clerk. Since constituted, excluded 9; dismissed by letter 24; died 8; present number 26. Elder H. G. Harris is now the pastor; Bro. Morris, H. L. Duke and George Strother the deacons; and Hiram Duke clerk; post-office is Mellow Valley, Clay county, Ala.; time of meeting, 3d Sundays.

Bro. S. W. Pruet conveyed me on to Macedonia, where I was met by a large congregation, and all seemed to enjoy the meeting. The brethren here have built them a large new frame meeting-house. I saw very few good comfortable meeting houses anywhere on the entire tour. This church is one of the oldest in the Hillabee Association, and now the largest is number, having sixty-five members, according to last minutes of that Association. I tried to obtain a full historical sketch of Macedonia, but could not, on account of the loss of some of her records. Elder H. G. Harris is their pastor, and S. W. Pruet clerk; post-office is Ashland, Clay Co., Ala.; regular day of meeting, 2d Sundays.

Bro. John L. Carpenter, of Macedonia, conveyed me, in company with Elder Cook and Bro. C.’s daughter, to Poplar Springs. This church, once the largest in the Association, and apparently the most flourishing, is now in the worst condition of any of them. Jesus said that the “gates of hell shall not prevail against” his church, but Poplar Springs has suffered the Farmers’ Alliance to so far prevail against her as to capture quite a number of her members. No interest was manifested in my appointment there, very few of the members were present, no one went from there to meet me, and altogether it was, to me, a sad visit. I hope there are enough true Primitive Baptists there to save the church from total ruin; if not, God will spew them out of his mouth, and Poplar Springs will soon be no more as a Primitive Baptist Church.
Bro. Hay, of Mt. Zion, met me at Poplar Springs to convey me on to Mt. Zion, in company with Bro. Cook. Had a very large congregation at Mt. Zion, for a week day, and we had a good meeting. This church was constituted August 17, 1842, with sixteen members, by Elders John Blackston and Thomas Britton. First pastor, Silas Monk; first deacon, Wiley Wyatt; first clerk, D. E. Elison. Since constituted, excluded 28; dismissed by letter 143; died 29; present membership 37. Elder N. M. Cook is now the pastor; M. W. Hay deacon; and J. T. Willis clerk; post-office Ashland, Clay county, Ala.; regular meeting day, 1st Sunday.

Brethren A. J. Blair and W. E. Garrett met me at Mt. Zion and conveyed rue to Shiloh, a distance of twelve miles. Spent the night near Shiloh with Elder M. B. Garrett. Preached to a good sized congregation at Shiloh. There they had excellent singing, which I greatly enjoyed. Shiloh has thirty-seven members; Elder M. B. Garrett is her pastor; the 4th Sunday is their meeting day; their post-office is Hatchet Creek, Clay county, Ala. Bro. John T. Jackson conveyed me to New Prospect. There was a good turn out at New Prospect, and we had a pleasant meeting. New Prospect has twenty-two members; N. M. Cook is their pastor; their post-office is Elms, Clay county Ala.

Bro. J. T. Crenshaw conveyed me to Hillabee Creek Church, where we had a two days’ meeting, Saturday and Sunday, May 11th and 12th. It was their regular meeting time and Communion season, with other preachers present. They have a large, good meeting house at Hillabee Creek, and it was well filled with an intelligent, orderly and quiet congregation on Sunday, who gave good attention to the preaching. This church was constituted Dec. 9, 1881, with nine members’ presbytery Elder J. J. Cleveland and Deacon A. C. house. Elder Cleveland was their first, and is their present pastor; J. C. Goza and H. C. Wells first deacons; Bro Goza was also their first clerk. Since constituted, excluded 5; dismissed by letter 34; died 2; present number 35. Present deacons, J. C. Goza and L. T. Crenshaw; Brother Crenshaw is now their clerk; regular meeting day, 2d Sunday; semiannual meetings, 2d Sunday in May and August; post-office, Hackneyville, Tallapoosa county, Ala.

I failed to procure a historical sketch of Smyrna, but it is the next largest church in the Hillabee Association, according to the last minutes of that body, having a membership of sixty. Elder M. B. Garrett is their pastor; post-office is Kelleyton, Coosa county, Ala.; the 3d Sunday is their meeting day.

Bro. J. L. Lecray conveyed me to Midway, where I met a large congregation, and had an enjoyable meeting. There I heard fine singing again. Midway was constituted Feb. 27. 1885, with eleven members, by a large presbytery, as follows: Elders H. W. Carlisle, J. J. Cleveland, J. A. Blackman, L. C. Peters, and Deacons J. B. Carlisle and A. J. Blair. First pastor H. W. Carlisle, present pastor, M. B. Garrett; first and present deacon, L. G. Blair; first clerk, J. L. Lecray; present clerk, J. H. House. Since constituted, excluded none, dismissed by letter, 5. present number, 14; regular meeting day, 1st Sunday; semi-annual, or communion meetings, in May and August, post-office is Mountain Meadow, Clay county, Ala.
A young man, the son of Bro. Hand, conveyed me from Midway to New hope Church. This is a newly constituted church, with only nine members; was constituted with six members, April 28, 1888, by Elder H. W. Carlisle, and Deacons E. J. Blair and Benjamin Jarvis. Elder J. A. Blackman is their pastor, and  Wm. Yancy clerk. We had a fair turn-out at New Hope, for a week day and a thinly settled neighborhood, and the meeting seemed to be enjoyed by all present. New Elope is in Clay county, near Holland, their post-office.

Bro. J. B. Carlisle conveyed me from New Hope to Mt. Pleasant, a distance of about ten miles. Had a good large audience at Mt. Pleasant, and it was a pleasant meeting and a pleasant time generally. I have no historical notes of Mt. Pleasant, but find, on referring to the last minutes of the Hillabee Association, that the number of members is twenty-three. Mt. Olive, in Coosa County, is their post-office; Elder J. A. Suttles their pastor; and the 2d Sunday is their meeting day.

Bro. Suttles met me at Mt. Pleasant, but Bro. Carlisle carried me on in his buggy to Liberty Hill Church. We had a large gathering at Liberty Hill, of many witnesses to the truth, who not only know, but who love the joyful sound thereof above all things in this world. The manifestation of that joy by them was a source of great joy to me, and always is. I never see such manifest knowledge and love of the truth when I preach to an Arminian church audience, and for that reason I do not relish preaching to them. Liberty Hill was constituted May 25, 1878 with eleven members, by Elders H. W. Carlisle, J. A. Blackman and L. C. Peters. Bro. Carlisle was their first pastor; T. A. Darman their first deacon; L. J. Gresham first clerk. Bro. John A. Suttle is now their pastor; A. J. Tarrel, deacon; and A. B. Jacks, clerk. Since constituted, three have been excluded, four dismissed by letter, and seven have died; the first Sunday is their meeting day; annual meeting, first Sunday in July; post-office, Hockford, Coosa county, Ala.

After meeting at Liberty Hill, Bro. Jacks took the care and conveyance of me to Pleasant Hill. We had a two days’ meeting and it was also the time of their semi-annual meeting. The attendance was small the first day, but the next the house could not hold all that came. Here I heard the best singing of the whole tour. The meeting closed with communion and feet washing, in remembrance of all that Jesus did, and all that be suffered to save his people from their sins. Pleasant Hill was constituted Oct. 27, 1871, with six members, by Elders H. W. Carlisle, J. M. Dykes, B. Garrett, J. P. Sayers and J. J. Cleveland. Elder Dykes was their first pastor; Francis Liveoak, first deacon; first and present clerk. John W. Liveoak; present deacons, Thos. J. Bazemore and Thomas Ezekiel. Since constituted, excluded 4; dismissed by letter 14; died 5; present number 9: meeting day, 3d Sunday; semiannual meeting, 3d Sunday in May and September; post-office, Weogufka, Coosa county, Ala.; present supply, John Lecroy (licentiate).

Brother. J. H. Hipshaw had the care and conveyance of me to Antioch, a distance of twenty-three miles or more. I failed to gather a single historical note of the church, but their last Associational minute shows a membership of fifteen. I think Elder Compton is their pastor; their post-office is Fayetteville, Talladega county, Ala.

Next morning Bro. Hutton went on with me to Mt. Olive church, near Columbiana, my last appointment. We had a good meeting that day, and a good attendance. Mt. Olive is in the Wetumpka Association, and was constituted Sept. 20, 1851, with six members, by Elders Hobert Martin and Sidney Chandler. First pastor was Hiram Tominee; first deacon, Ezekiel Simpson; first clerk, W. A. Scale. Elder J. E. W. Henderson is now their pastor; J. W. Thompson, deacon; and W. A. Talent clerk. Number of pastors since constituted, 7; baptized, 49; received by letter, 58; received on confession of faith, 11; dismissed by letter 58; excluded 18; restored. 4; died, 22; present number, 30; meeting day, 3d Sunday; annual meeting time, July; post-office, Columbiana, Shelby county, Ala.

I closed my tour with a night appointment in Columbiana, got on my train and was with my family by breakfast time, at home. I shall ever remember this tour, and the kindness of the brethren to me, with satisfaction and pleasure. May the Lord’s blessing rest upon them all; and I sincerely desire to be remembered by them in their prayers.

On looking over the notes of my tour I fine that Pleasant Hill Church, of the Wetumpka Association, was constituted Sept. 28, 1878, with five members, by Elders. J. J. Cleveland, A. J. Whitten, J. H. Shirley and H. W. Carlisle. J. L. Lambert was their first pastor; H. Y. Williams their first and present deacon; and B. D. Towns their first and present clerk. They have no pastor now. Since constituted seven have been excluded, twelve dismissed by letter, four have died, and the present number is eighteen; post-office, Bulger’s Mills, Tallapoosa county, Ala. Since I began writing up this tour, I have received a full historical sketch of Bethel Church, the most of which I will copy here: Bethel was constituted Sept. 22, 1838, with twenty-two members, by Elders Joseph Hill and James G. Eden. Have had six pastors in the following order of their names, viz.: Joseph Hill, Luke Haynie, Jas. G. Eden, R. W. Carlisle, Benjamin Jowers, and the present pastor, John A. Suttle. The first deacon was John D. Letcher; first clerk, William Blake. Present clerk, J. H. Johnson; present deacons, J. C. Blake and D. G. Willbanks. Have baptized since constituted, 114, received by letter, 144; received on confession of faith, 11; restored, 12; dismissed by letter, 1139; excluded, 41; died, 42; present membership, 59, annual meetings 4th Sunday in July. Brother Johnson writes me that there is one thing remarkable about Bethel, and that is that during her fifty years’ existence she has never raised a preacher. Well, if she failed in that, there is one thing she did not fail in, and that is, when she raised Bro. Blake to the office of deacon she raised a good solid one, to my certain knowledge.

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