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History of Lookout Valley Church PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joyce Nell Beck Truitt   


Preface by Elder Gene Thomas

This particular church is located a little less that 60 miles from my home. Many of the ministers who have preached at this church are remembered by me. However, the origin of the church is dated too early. I do not like to contradict what is written, but this time it is wrong. It states that Union Church of Marion County helped to constitute Lookout Valley in 1800. However, I know that the Union Church was only constituted in 1820 and thus it could not have helped in the constitution of this church in 1800. My "educated" guess is that this Lookout Valley Church was constituted sometime after 1830. I am positive that it could not have been constituted prior 1830. I will try to come up with more accurate information, but it was an old church and had much history through the years. 

Take a good look at the ministers who had pastored this church and those who had visited through the years. Many of them I knew and heard preach (You see, I am an "ancient" Baptist)

Gene Thomas


Lookout Valley
Primitive Baptist Church
1800 - 1975

"The Little White Church At The Top Of The Hill Down In The Valley"

1136 Brown's Ferry Road
Route 8
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37409

Written by and used with the permission of
Joyce Nell Beck Truitt

    Prior to 1800, several citizens of the lower, or north end of Lookout Valley, Hamilton County, Tenn. attended church at Good Hope Primitive Baptist Church on Mountain Creek, near the place now the property of the Cement Plant. The land at that time belonged to the Sivley family.

    Good Hope Church was across Tennessee River from the northern end of Lookout Valley, thus these faithful members had to cross Tennessee River at William's Island to attend church.

    Good Hope Church "extended an arm" to lower Lookout Valley so church services could be held in that area. These first services were held in an old "Slave House," the property of one Thomas Boydston. This was a log house with a "mud and stick" chimney and fireplace. It stood at the foot of "Simpson Hill" on the little Sanders Creek.

    Therefore on April 24, 1800, the members met at the Church and constituted the Lookout Valley Primitive Baptist Church. Thomas Boydston acted as "agent" for the Services to be held at this old house.

    This Church was duly constituted by Elders and Deacons from Providence Primitive Baptist Church of Bledsoe County; Good Hope Primitive Baptist Church of Hamilton County; and Union Primitive Baptist Church of Marion County, Tennessee.

      In 1829 the members erected a new log house in which services were held until it was burned by soldiers during the Civil War. Lookout Valley is west of Chattanooga, and Cameron Hill. South of Signal Mountain; and north of Lookout Mountain. Thus she stood in line with Civil War signals from Signal, Lookout, and Raccoon Mountains, as well as from Cameron Hill, across Moccasin Bend from the Church.

    On the low ridges just east of the Church, soldiers dug breast works that are still there. Thus the little church was also on the Brown's Ferry Road that lead into North Chattanooga from Wauhatchie and northern Georgia. Soldiers built a pontoon bridge at Brown's Ferry and also one across the Tennessee River near Cameron Hill, for the great Moccasin Bend makes its great loop just east of Lookout Valley Primitive Baptist Church.

    War skirmishes were held along the old roadway, as both Federal and Confederate soldiers tried to by-pass Lookout Mountain in order to get into Chattanooga and Chickamauga beyond. Therefore several skirmishes were held in and around the church, and in these skirmishes, the church was burned. Battle of Wauhatchie and skirmishes were Oct. 28-29, 1863 around the front of the church. The only time services were not held at the Church, was at this critical period of the Civil War.

    On April 15, 1871, after church services had been held in the homes of the members, the membership decided to build another church house. Consequently a member Cavenaugh Boydston, deeded a tract of land to the Lookout Valley Primitive Baptist Church. This deed was witnessed by David Tittle and J. M. Cox, both members of the Church.

    The new house was finished in 1877. It was constructed of logs that had been salvaged from logs of rafts that had been wrecked in the Tennessee River on William's Island. These logs, having been lashed together by 2-inch wooden pegs that had been driven through a "strap" to hold them were hewn by hand with broad axes and adz. The two-inch holes some two feet from each end of the logs that had held the raft together, were left in the logs. They were conservative, and dared not lose four feet of each log, so the holes remained. Some logs were split and hewn and then used to make the floor, and the two-inch holes remained. Pews were also made of the split logs, and then school was also held in the same building.

    As the holes were so predominate in the new structure, it became known locally as "The Auger Hole Church" or the "Auger Hole School." However, this old church erected in 1877 with its quaint fireplace, burned in 1909. The old fireplace had been "logged in" and a large wood heater installed, with the flue extending up and out of the roof. The fire that destroyed the building started in this flue while services were being held on Saturday afternoon. Elder H. L. Gholston was the pastor at that time.  Everything was saved, and church services were held in a tenant house on the R. J. Massey farm until the new Church could be built. Clearing away the rubble, the new house was finished in the fall of 1909. This house stood until it also was leveled from sparks from a brush fire in 1956. Services were moved then to the home of Brother Mack Brown and wife until the new edifice was completed and dedicated on September 29, 1957. It would be well to mention that most of the descendants of the members of this little Church have moved to other areas, and that the village of Tiftonia has grown until now the area in and about the little Church has many fine dwellings, and has recently been annexed to the city of Chattanooga.

    The children and grandchildren and great grandchildren of the former members of the little Church, under the leadership of the late Elder L. L. Lewis, rebuilt the Church. They also had the help of many citizens of the community.

Elders who have served the little Church since its constitution are:

John Walker                 
W. J. Harwood
O. C. Lowery                
Jack Willis
Gabriel Sharp               
H. V. Massey
J. W. Clemons               
J. E. Douthitt
Reuben Reed               
Gilbert Birdwell
L. L. Lewis                 
M. A. Hackworth
E. J. Perkle                
H. L. Gholston
George Walker               
G. T. Hagwood
Gilbert Levi                
R. O. Raulston
J. G. Woodfin

Elders visiting the little church in the past are:

John Walker                  
W. C. Lomax
John Trent                   
Samuel McBee
John Thompson                
Chas. Tillman
C. J. Byrom                  
J. J. Akers
E. Roberts                   
G. M. Birdwell
B. G. Stevens                 
W. T. Hartline
Lee Head                     
W. J. Elder
H. L. Gholston               
W. M. Bullard
T. I. Pettus                 
George Walker
W. J. McCormack              
J. T. Stewart
B. M. Jarvis                 
L. F. Wallce
G. Chadwick                  
J. K. Phillips
W. J. Ball                    
Samuel Beene
H. C. Hawkins                
S. F. Bess
W. E. Brush                  
W. L. Murray
H. C. Hogan                  
Matt Hackworth
J. A. Cargile                 
W. J. Berry

In 1869 Lookout Valley Primitive Baptist Church "extended an arm" to Aetna Mountain, near the village of Whiteside. Another to Bennett's Cove In Marion County in 1874. Another in 1877 to New Union in Marion County, and another to Moccasin Bend in 1895, and also an arm was extended to Kelly's Ferry in 1909. From these "arms" many new members were added to the Lookout Valley Primitive Baptist Church. Sister Churches during the early period were: Suck Port, Stanley, New Hope, and New Union.

    In later years, the Church became a member of the Sequatchie Valley Association of Churches until about 1945. Since that time, the Church has not been affiliated with any association, but has diligently kept herself in fellowship with the Brethren. Even though much of the writing in the oldest Church record is very faded, such names of the members who constituted the Church are:  Cavanaugh Boydston, Sarah Boydston, John Boydston, Thomas Boydston, Tavner Martin, Cynthia Martin, George Harris, J. B. Fox, Wm. Beck, Joseph Hall, James Bower, John Williams, R. Gilbreath, John Hutcheson, James Cox, J. E. Douthitt, James Hutcheson, David Tittle, John Bryant, Washington Tittle; and many more whose names are faded beyond reading.

    At present "the little white Church at the top of the hill, down in the valley" has services each first and third Lord's Day, monthly at 10:30 a. m. Eastern Daylight Time.

    For one hundred seventy five years this little Church has been contending for the faith once delivered to the saints, as follows: The Bible teaches, and all men should believe:

That a "visible" church is composed of those who have "given" themselves to the   Lord and each other in a covenant of love, thus to keep a godly discipline.
There is One Triune God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Both the Old and New Testaments are the word of God.
The Scripture in the New Testament is the only rule of faith and practice for the true Church of God.
Election according to God's foreknowledge, and His sole purpose. That purpose being the sanctification and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ for the elect of God.
That Adam sinned, and that all of Adam's posterity thereby became sinners in the sight of God.
That man is totally and therefore completely unable to recover himself from his fallen state.
Sinners are only justified in the sight of God wholly by the imputed Righteousness of Christ, and that by the Holy Spirit.
All saints (children of God) shall be comforted, preserved in His grace and shall reach Heaven.
God gave only two ordinances to His Church - Baptism by immersion, and the Lord's Supper.
Christ gave an example to the disciples in that He so said when He washed their feet.
God has told His children to whom, by whom, and how the ordinances and the "example" should be kept.
Believers of God's truth, and that by faith, are subjects of baptism.
Baptism should be by Immersion upon the profession of that faith.
Baptism must be administered by a duly ordained, faithful minister of God's word, and one of such faith as that professed in the presence of the body . . . the elect bride of Christ.
The punishment of the wicked shall be everlasting and the joy and peace and happiness of the righteous shall also be eternal in Heaven.
God calls men to preach the Gospel. The bride (Church) recognizes the call, and thus ordains ministers by a duly appointed presbytery.
The Church is the Bride of Christ, and therefore she is duly vested with complete authority in all matters pertaining to the conduct of the members composing the visible Church in the world.
That there will be a resurrection of the body of the just and the unjust, and that there will be a general judgment.

    From about 1877 to 1914 some thirty persons were buried in the little cemetery just behind the church. A diligent search was made to determine their names, as only crude, un-carved stones had been set up to mark each grave.

    Inquiry and the search of records was of no avail, so the Church secured a suitable marker in 1973 for all who are buried there. It reads as follows:


Lookout Valley Primitive Baptist Church

    In 1974 a suitable scroll was prepared and placed in the church. This scroll contains the names of all former and present members; the names of former and present ministers; and the names of former and present deacons.

    The Memorial Marker and the Scroll were unveiled by the great grandsons of two of the founding members of the little Church.

    As one looks back over the long history of this little church, such an one will find that she has come safely through many wars, lost her place of worship many times, and yet has come from a "slave house" to a beautiful structure. The founders used candles and torches, and an open fireplace with a "mud and stick" chimney, while today there are rest rooms, electric heat, glass windows, paved roads, and yet the same fellowship that warmed the hearts of those who constituted the little Church one hundred and seventy- five years ago, still warms the hearts of each worshipper.

    May our Lord bless those who may read these pages, and instill in their hearts a desire to try to "keep house for the Lord" for another long, long period, or until our Lord returns. 

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.