All posts by Becky

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – March 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
(continued from last month)

March 2019

This encounter with General Jackson would lean one to believe that Preacher Cartwright and General Jackson did not know each other, however in 1814 Cartwright was reportedly a Chaplin in the War of 1812, and present at the Battle of New Orleans.  Before entering the battle, General Jackson called his Chaplin’s together and exhorted them “to preach to the soldiers of the cause and assure them, if they die in battle, they would go straight to heaven.”  Cartwright replied, “General, I can’t quite go that far, but I can say I believe our cause is of God, and that any of them should be killed, God in that last account would give any of them credit for their sacrifices.”  Apparently in the 1818 church encounter, Jackson and Cartwright already knew one another, and imposing their little joke on the “city preacher” and his credulous congregation.

Rowdies often interrupted Peter’s meetings.  When one thug promised to whip him, Peter invited the man to step into the woods with him.  The two started for trees.  Leaping over a fence at the edge of the campground, Peter landed painfully and clutched his side.  The bully shouted that the preacher was going for a dagger and ran away.  Once, on a ferry boat, Cartwright overheard someone denounced him as a “Methodist horse thief” by a man who promised him a good liking should they ever meet.  “Come” said the preacher, making himself known, “I am the man you propose to trash.  Either whip me as you threaten, or quit cursing me, or else I will put you in the river and baptize you in the name of the devil.”  The sinner quailed, and became converted to Methodism under the grip of the compelling Cartwright.

Such events gave him a name.  A story spread that he even confronted legendary river boatman Mike Fink.  Cartwright claims this encounter never happened, but stories kept cropping up in newspapers and books from Georgia, to New York, to Illinois State Journal.  According to the article, Fink appears with his gang and attempts to disrupt one of Cartwright’s meetings in Alton, Illinois.  Cartwright soon grows tired of the rowdies and descends the pulpit in order to “make the devil pray.”  He quickly fells the riverman with a “prodigious punch of his herculean fist,” then pins him by the windpipe until Fink agrees to repeat the Lord’s Prayer after Cartwright, line by line.  Thereafter, the rowdies behave with “exemplary decorum” throughout the remainder of the meeting.  The story was repeated by James B. Finley, another gifted and famous Methodist circuit rider.

Peter Cartwright tells the story of two fashionably dressed sisters that attended one of his meetings in 1804.  Their brothers, who didn’t attend the meeting, but stayed outside, saw their sisters get the jerks.  This greatly disturbed them, and they determined to horse whip Cartwright outside the church.  They said they had seen him take something out of his pocket and give to their sisters and that’s why they got the jerks.  What they didn’t know was Peter Cartwright often carried a tin of peppermints in his pocket and would put one in his mouth before he spoke.  Peter, trying to diffuse the situation, answered them directly.  “I need not deny it,” he said, “Yes, I gave them the jerks and I can give them to you.”  Fear struck the brothers and they ran away yelling at him not to follow them or they would kill him.

Cartwright also demonstrates his humor when he relates a story of a woman in one of his parishes who often annoyed him by going off on a high key.  One day in class meeting, with her soul in ecstatic emotions, she rapturously cried out, “If I had one more feather in the wing of my soul, I would fly away and be with my savior.”  “Stick in the other feather, Lord” interjected Cartwright, “and let her go!”

(To be continued next month)

Sources: Dan Graves, MSL “Colorful Peter Cartwright, Circuit Rider”
                Robert Bray, Illinois Wesleyan University “Beating the Devil: Life and Art in Peter Cartwright’s Autobiography”
                Leewin Williams and Kenneth Alley: “The Encyclopedia of Wit, Humor and Wisdom”


2018 Mission Report

Mission Report for 2018


We added CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) to our mission project list for the first time this year. On January 14th Margie Clemmer spoke about the work of CASA and we collected $702.

Daniel Sukowski talked on February 11th about his upcoming mission trip with Campus Outreach to New Zealand and we collected $3,589 over several Sundays for his trip.

We continue to help the Ark Singers with their church, orphanage, and building fund in Ukraine. The Ark singers visited on March 4th and presented a concert and a visual update of their ministry. Our four quarterly collections this year and the love offering totaled $5,900.

On April 29th Pam Kiper spoke to our congregation about Feed My Starving Children, a non-profit Christian organization dedicated to feeding starving children around the world in body, mind and soul. We collected $906. Our church had 35-40 volunteers participating in packing meals at Ewtonville Baptist church on November 2nd and 3rd.

Our Hands-on Mission Project in May, coordinated by Dawn Jones, was to make up home buckets for Zimbabwe. We sent 26 buckets valued at $28 each including shipping – $728.

Delanie Sukowski spoke on May 21st about her upcoming training and gospel sharing experience in the Smokey Mountains this summer with Campus Outreach and we collected $1,103 to help with her expenses.

On June 3rd we collected for the Bishop’s Special Collection $293 (children from South Sudan in refugee camps in Uganda) and Change for Children $293 (needy children from the Holston conference)

The Gideons visited Chapel Hill on June 24th and $590 was given to their ministry.

Our July project was school supplies for Sequatchie County students to support the “Give a Kid a Chance” event coordinated by a group of local agencies. We collected $176 and 85 packs of notebook paper – we sent 300 packs of paper for the event.

Boo and Phylis Hankins, former missionaries from the Houston Conference to South Sudan, spoke at the morning service on Sunday August 26th and we collected $734 for South Sudan.

Many people at our church support the Next Step Resource Center (formerly the Women’s Care Center) by attending their annual banquet in March, sending in personal donations, or participating in the “Walk for Life” in September. Our church had 25-30 youth and adults on the walk.  Debbie Chandler, Director of the center spoke on August 19th at our morning service and $150 was collected.

September 30th brought us a guest speaker for the Hands of Christ, a medical mission in Honduras, run by John and Dr Ana Lamon. Sarah Hathaway gave us an update on the Women’s Clinic that is being built and showed pictures of the work done by the many medical teams that help serve the poor of Honduras. We collected $520.

On Sunday October 21st we collected $2,350 and on Sunday October 26th we collected $365 for UMCOR to help with relief after Hurricane Michael.

Our Local Food Bank, run by the Sequatchie County Fellowship of Churches, was our mission focus for November. Denise Kell came to our morning worship service on November 18th to give us an update on the program and we collected $257 to help fund the continuing work of the food bank. Our church also donated 496 pounds of food this year.

Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse – Thanks to the efforts of Ethel Powell, Lynna Griffith and the K-5 group of children, 20 shoe boxes were packed. The value of this donation is $500

The mission project in December involved providing Christmas gifts for 26 local needy children. Dawn Jones passed out names and collected the gifts. This was the largest number of children we have helped.

We continued our support of the Holston Home with $3,475 collected from 5th Sunday offerings and Sunday School Funds.

The Benevolence Fund is a special fund administered by our pastor to help families and individuals with emergencies. This past year $2,812 was dispersed.



Each year we hold a craft and bake sale at the October Men’s Barbecue to raise funds to finance mission activities.  We dispersed mission funds to be recognized as a Holston Conference Five-Star Mission Church. To be eligible, a church has to pay its fair share in full, which Chapel Hill pays from general church funds, and:

  1. Give to at least one International Advance (we sent Maria Humbane in Zimbabwe $150 and Helen Roberts-Evans in Liberia $150)
  2. Give to at least one U.S. Advance (we sent the Appalachian Service Project $150)
  3. Give to at least one UMCOR Advance (we sent $500 to UMCOR Disaster Response in U.S. to help after hurricanes Florence and Michael)
  4. Give to at least one Conference Advance (we sent Fred and Libby Dearing in South Sudan $500, Camp Lookout $150 and the Bethlehem Center $150)

The total for our Five-Star giving was $1,750.

We were also able to send $1000 to the Hands of Christ and $250 to Feed My Starving Children from our craft/bake sale funds. A total of $3000 has been dispersed from our craft/bake sale mission funds this year!

Thanks to the generosity of everyone at Chapel Hill our mission outreach for 2018 was approximately $28,443 and many volunteer hours of service. This dollar total does not include individual contributions to the Next Step Resource Center, food donations to the food bank or the cost of Christmas gifts for needy children.


History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – February 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
“The Lords Plowman”
February 2019

          During my time reading and researching Methodist circuit riders, one of the most colorful preachers was Peter Cartwright.  He was physically imposing, his face wrinkled and tough, his eyes small and twinkling, and his hair looks as if he had poked it into a bag of kilkenny cats, and had not had time to comb it.  He rode circuits in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, in a ministry that spans over fifty years.  Born in Virginia in 1785, just two years after the ending of the Revolution War, he was taken west to Kentucky.  There he became a tough guy in rough Logan County known as “Rogue’s Harbor” because of its swarms of badmen.  His Methodist mother pleaded and prayed for him.  Her prayers won.  In a camp meeting, sixteen-year old Peter was convicted of his sinfulness and need for a savior.  For hours he cried out to God for forgiveness until finally the peace of Christ flooded his soul.  At once he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Within two years he was a traveling preacher, bringing the gospel to the backwoods of the new nation.  His rough past and hardy constitution served him well, for he faced floods, thieves, hunger and disease, meeting every challenge head on. 

          Crowds flocked to hear him.  Peter preached to host of men and women, three hours at a stretch, several times a week.  Women wept and strong men trembled.  Thousands came to Christ in meetings that sometimes ran day and night, adding them to the church.  He urged new converts to build meeting houses.  To meet a desperate need for preachers, he championed the creation of Methodist colleges.  Wherever he went he left behind religious books and tracts to convert and strengthen souls.  The joy of soul winning compensated him for all his hardships.  Hardships were many, several times Peter went days without food.  Once he returned from his circuit with just six borrowed cents in his pocket.  His father had to re-outfit him with clothes, saddle, and horse before he could ride again.  Traveling preachers were paid thirty to fifty dollars a year.  Nonetheless, Peter married and raised children.  Once when his family was forced to camp in the open one night, they were startled awake when a tree snapped in two.  Peter flung up his arms to deflect the falling timber, but unfortunately it crushed his youngest daughter to death.  In 1823 Peter sold his Kentucky farm.  He feared his daughters would marry slave owners.  Slavery, he felt, sapped independence of spirit, his family readily agreed to the change, and his bishop appointed him to a circuit in Illinois.  In Illinois, Peter braved floods, where once he had to chase his saddle bags which were swept downstream.   In every circumstance, the Lord brought him to safety.  In Illinois he ran for a seat in state legislative against Abraham Lincoln, beating him, but later Lincoln beat him in a race for U.S. Congress.

             Cartwright, unlike the preachers of settled denominations, possessed the needed qualities to survive the harsh and dangerous world of American frontier wilderness.  The circuit rider had to fight and preach, oftentimes dealing with ruffians, rowdies, and disrupters who attended their meetings.

             Once Peter, warned General Andrew Jackson that he would be condemned to Hell just as quickly as any man if he did not repent.  Another preacher apologized for Peter’s bluntness.  Jackson retorted that Christ’s ministers ought to love everyone and fear no mortal man, adding that he wished he had a few thousand officers like Peter.  (to be continued next month)


  1. Dan Graves, MSL “Colorful Peter Cartwright, Circuit Rider”
  2. Alfred Day



History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – January 2019

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
January 2019

I am writing the January article on December 7th which many of our older church members will remember as a day in “infamy”, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, eighteen days before Christmas.  One of our former deceased members, Commander Henry Hollingsworth, was probably the last surviving naval officer of that battle, however, there are a few Pearl Harbor enlisted personnel still living.  Many may not know that the Commander had requested that his remains be interred amongst the Civil War Soldiers buried at Chapel Hill Cemetery.  That request was granted.

By the time this article is published, Christmas 2018 will be over and 2019 will begin another year of potential resolutions.  The reason that I have mentioned Christmas is that many of our veterans since the birth of our nation have been absent from their families during this time.  From Valley Forge to Afghanistan, the home sickness and memories of family, community, and church  are basically the same for the many generations of veterans that have answered the call of duty.  I know that in my case, one of the comforting factors was my faith, remembrances, and loving affinity for the people of a small chapel sitting atop a countryside hill.  I suspect that many of our veterans within our congregation today can identify with this observation regardless of the church they attended.  In retrospect, I realize that some of my fellow comrades did not have these particular reflections in their life experiences, and thus had a more difficult time. 

Christmas of 1958 was a very difficult time for my family.  At the age of eleven and mid-December, our family home was totally consumed by fire including all contents.  It occurred at night and we were fortunate to have survived without any loss of life.  It was an old two story farm house which included hand split wooden shingles for a roof, providing perfect material for a gigantic bonfire.  When my Daddy realized what was happening, he yelled for everyone to “get out of the house.”  When we went outside, the second story was totally involved turning nighttime into daytime.  Years later momma told me what she did that night which we laughed about for years.  With the house fully engulfed, she ran back into the living room of the house and turned down the damper on the furnace.

As a young Marine in a foreign country during Christmas, I contemplated and treasured the memories of a church that responded to our unfortunate circumstances.  Our church family provided shelter for a few days until we could move in with another church member Elizabeth Johnson.  She was one of the older members of the church who was a widower living in a house with plenty of room for six people.  She was actually a cousin by marriage, but she insisted we call her “Aunt Elizabeth” which we did.  Aunt Elizabeth drove a “T-Model Ford” and I rode to church with her on many occasions.  The old house is gone now, but church member Janet Johnson currently lives in a home that replaced the old farmhouse.  Due to the generosity of the church and neighbors, we were able to rebuild within a matter of months.  I can’t name all the individuals who helped my family in our time of need, but I vividly remember the next day at school my teacher and church member Edna Jackson took me to Wade Swanger’s store and bought me a set of clothes.  The only clothes that I had at the time were the ones that I had on when I ran out of the house the night before.  That made quite an impression on me, and I have been blessed to “pay it forward” many times since. 

I can relate many similar stories, but space does not make that possible.  Many have passed on with their mortal remains being reverently entombed beneath a garden of stones adjacent to the old historical chapel, forever reminding me of these dear saints of a faithful and generous heart.  Recently departed President George H.W. Bush talked about “a thousand points of light”.   I can say today that unequivocally Chapel Hill Church is definitely one of those points of light; may it continue to be so.

Last month’s question:  What are the two oldest Methodist Churches in present day Bledsoe County?  Pikeville United Methodist church and Wesley Chapel (today the church is non-denominational and Ronnie Colvard is the current pastor)

Next month’s question:  What pastor instituted the first Christmas Communion at Chapel Hill?

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – December 2018

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
December 2018

“Christmas at Chapel Hill”

    In the 1950’s Christmas was a special time for the children at Chapel Hill Church.  About ten days or so before the Christmas program, one or more of the adults would select and harvest a large cedar tree to be located in front of the sanctuary behind the pulpit.  The tree would reach to the ceiling and the aromatic cedarwood fragrance would waft gently upon the air as it moved among the parishioners.  We knew that Christmas was just around the corner with the advent of traditional Christmas carols, the reading of the Christmas story about the Baby Jesus in the manger, and memorization of Bible verses and short stories to be recited in front of the congregation.  Also the secular songs such as Gene Autry’s “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman” were favorites on the radio, or Mel Torme’s  “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”.  The 1950’s unveiled a new medium with television featuring crooners Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, and Perry Como singing “White Christmas”, and who could forget the many poetic renditions of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”.  My friends and I had our own version of “Jingle Bells” which I remember went something like this:

Jingle Bells, shotgun Shells
Rabbits all the way.
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a brand new Chevrolet.

Oh well, we didn’t copyright it, so I guess we missed our opportunity for fame and riches.

     In those days all of the Sunday School Classes picked names to exchange Christmas presents.  Occasionally if a young child’s family could not afford a gift or the child would forget to bring a gift, the Sunday School teacher would always have backup presents so no child would be without a Christmas gift.  When Santa Claus was not able to personally attend   our program, one of the adults would don the appropriate attire as a surrogate Santa.  One of our favorite substitute Santa was T. H. Austin who I think enjoyed the activity just as much as the kids.  Some of the adults enjoyed the gift swapping as well, especially the class known today as the “Kenneth Wilson” class.  I always wondered what the merriment and laughter was about, but we were never allowed to see those particular Christmas gifts.  Maybe Liz Wilson and Betty Jones can enlighten us on that subject today?

    One year the Children’s Choir wore all white and red.  The girls wore white blouses and red skirts and the boys wore white shirts and red pants.  Claudia Rogers provided the outfits from her “Dress Shoppe”, and again those who couldn’t afford the apparel were taken care of in a quiet and respectful manner.  One year we were convinced that Santa was not an imitation and because there was a two inch snow on the ground, we rushed outside after the program to check for reindeer and sleigh tracks.  We could not locate any evidence on the ground so we checked the roof.  The heat from the church had melted the rooftop snow so we concluded that Santa must have utilized this area for his landing and takeoff.  The mystery was solved and all was right with the world.

    Today in a pessimistic and uncertain world, I harken back to those days and although Santa may not be a physical manifestation, he exist as certain as love, generosity, and devotion.  You know that they abound and give your life its highest beauty and joy.  As the New York Sun Editor Francis Church stated in response to a query to eight year old Virginia O’Hanlon, “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”.

    May he continue to make glad the heart of childhood!

Last month’s question:  in 1952 Chapel Hill celebrated its centennial and Col. Creed F. Bates assisted in the church service.  What was his historical connection to Chapel Hill Church?  He was the grandson of John Henniger, the namesake of the original church.

Next month’s question:  What are the two oldest Methodist Churches in present day Bledsoe County?

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – November 2018

Compiled by Johnny Cordell
November 2018
(Continued from last month)

After Sunday dinner, the remainder of the day was invariably reserved for visitation.  Daddy would never do any work on Sunday except for normal farm chores, or unless the Biblical Donkey was in the ditch.  As I alluded to previously, Daddy enjoyed stimulating conversation and gospel music.  If there was “a singing” at another church on Sunday afternoon or evening, we would most likely be counted among those present.  Daddy sang in a quartet when he was a young man, and they traveled about the countryside whenever they could.  One time he said, “we even went all the way to Spring City”.  I guess in the 1920’s that was a considerable distance.

     Our visitations were normally confined to immediate family and sometimes cousins.  Family being Aunt Beulah and Uncle Hugh Mabry, Aunt Janie Hartman brood, Uncle Frank Cordell, Aunt Bessie Easterly, Momma’s brother George Smith and Aunt Ruth.  Aunt Ruth was also Daddy’s first cousin.  There are others too numerous to list, but we rarely missed our Hartman cousins when they were having dinner and music on Signal Mountain.  Earl Hartman, who sang many a solo at Chapel Hill Church was a product of those family musical productions, as well as Norma Narramore, who was one of the best piano players to ever tickle the ivories.  She played for many years at the Chapel Hill Homecoming Church Service each 3rd Sunday in May.

     The Sunday morning that we would have the circuit church service was rather normal for most of my friends and myself.  We would sit in the pews away from our parents when possible and pass notes to each other or surreptitiously play tic-tac-toe.  I enjoyed music, so I remember the old hymns such as, “The Solid Rock”, “Blessed Assurance”, “What can Wash Away My Sins”, “Into the Garden”, “Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb”, “Bringing in the Sheaves”, “The Sweetest Name I Know”, “Just Over in the Gloryland”, “Near the Cross”, “Take Time to be Holy”, “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder”, “We’re Marching to Zion”, and many more including Christmas and Easter songs.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about the content of the sermons, but that was probably normal for a pre-teen boy except on a couple occasions.  In those days the basement of the church was used to house the oil burning furnace and to collect whatever was not needed upstairs.  There was not a stairway to the basement, only an entrance on the south side of the building.  It was not locked, but that was not unusual since no door in the church was ever locked.  Since there was a ten or fifteen minute break between Sunday School and Church, a friend and I decided to spend our time in the basement during the church service.  Since we had not been under direct parental supervision for several Sundays, we felt we would not be detected, besides there were a lot of kids, so who would miss two of the flock.  We didn’t worry about the other children telling on us, because the code of “no tattling” was quite prevalent.  So, for a couple of those Sundays we pretended the church was a ship and we became stowaways within its hold.  We sat on an old short pew that had been discarded several years before.  The pew was located under a heating air ventilation opening, and we could hear plainly every word of the preacher’s sermon.   We listened intently so if questioned about not possibly being topside, we could quote scripture and verse.  During this time my mate (sailor slang) had a pen knife, so we scratched our initials on the pew so someday posterity would know of our great adventure.  I think my friend’s mother became suspicious, or we felt guilty, I don’t know, but it seems we were absorbing more from the ventilation duct than we were from the pews in the sanctuary.  However, I did pay more attention to the sermons after that, so maybe God does move in a mysterious way?

     Several years ago I discovered the old short pew in the small building next to the cemetery, and yes, it had the outlines of two sets of initials.  I will be refinishing the old pew and it will occupy a place in our mountain home.  And no, the initials will not be removed, and yes, God does move in mysterious ways!  Postscript:  My friend is still attending Chapel Hill Church, but I will not reveal his identity.  My advice to him is that Brother Jared is always receiving confessionals.


Last month’s question:  How many times has the original Chapel Hill Cemetery been enlarged? 
Four times – 1905, 1935, 1956, 1996


Next month’s question:  In 1952 Chapel Hill celebrated its centennial and Col. Creed F. Bates assisted in the church service.  What was his historical connection to Chapel Hill Church?

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – October 2018

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
October 2018
Chapel Hill 1950’s

    I don’t remember the first time I ever attended Chapel Hill Church. I don’t remember the first sermon, but I suspect it was the   Reverend Carmack Morris about 1951. I do remember the short tenure of Pastor Virgil Hale (1952-1953), but I don’t remember any physical characteristics.  The first preacher that I distinctly remember was Jacob (Jake) Ramsey (1954-58).  He was a tall, dark haired, angular individual who had a commanding presence in the pulpit.  This bearing, poise, and confidence could have been affected to some degree by his Navy service in World War II.  His wife and partner, Evangeline, was outgoing, attractive, and extremely intelligent.  “Vangie” as she was called, had a talent, among many, for literacy composition, and I was told had a great influence in her husband’s sermons. Their daughter, Phyllis was in my Sunday School Class although I was about four years older.  Ms. Louise Johnson was our teacher and Phyllis had her own distinct personality and could be a hand full at times.  I suppose this would   bode well for her in the future since she followed in her father’s footsteps and became a minister in her own right. 

    One of the humorous episodes that I remembered involved one of Pastor Ramsey’s sons during the middle of his sermon.  I believe it was his oldest son, Scott, who was not behaving in the proper manner within the congregation.  Brother Jake, departed the pulpit, took Scott outside the church, administered a spanking, returned the repentant offspring to his pew seat, and without hesitation, strode back to the pulpit, continuing his sermon, not missing a beat or a word.  All this in full view of everyone.  This certainly had an effect on me and other children who might have had similar notions.

    During this time Chapel Hill was on a circuit with Welch Chapel and the minister would rotate each Sunday between the two churches.   If Chapel Hill had a morning service, then the minister would conduct an evening service at Welch Chapel.  The next Sunday this process would reverse.  A typical Sunday morning would be Sunday School at 10:00, however the members would gather first in the sanctuary, sing one song, followed by brief remarks from the Sunday School Superintendent, and then dismissed to respective Sunday School Class.  Sunday School would last about thirty-five minutes and then reconvene in the sanctuary, sing a song, and
dismiss about 10:50, with church service commencing at 11:00.  On the Sunday that there was no church service, many of the members would remain at the church after Sunday School and socialize.  My Daddy, who enjoyed good conversation, would stay as long as there was someone to talk with, which could last as long as an hour.  Sometimes I would get impatient and walk home.  If there was no one to converse with at church, Daddy would stop at Wade Swanger’s store where there was always a group of men regaling each other with stories and sometimes outright fabrications.  We usually returned home around 12:30 as Momma would have dinner ready.  (To be continued next month)

Last month’s question:  After the close of the Civil War, the oldest minister in the conference was appointed
to manage the reorganization of Southern Methodist Churches from Ashville, NC to Chattanooga, TN.  He
went further and spent time in reorganizing the Methodist in his own community of Henniger’s Chapel/Chapel Hill.  Who was this venerable and iconic minister?  Rev. Absolom Deakins Stewart.

Next month’s question:  How many times has the original Chapel Hill cemetery been enlarged?


History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – September 2018

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
September 2018

This is the final article in regards to circuit riders and ministers that served this community (Chapel Hill today) since 1807.  This final list begins in 1884, and continues to the present day.  In 1884, Chapel Hill Church became part of the Dunlap Circuit which included Dunlap Methodist and Welch’s Chapel Methodist.  In 1954, Dunlap Methodist became a station and Chapel Hill and Welch’s Chapel became a dual circuit. In 1968, Chapel Hill became a station.



W. C. Farris


A. B. Hunter


J. A. Sronce                  


J. W. Hammer


F. Alexander


H. B. Brown


W. E. Bailey


A. C. Wright


John Alley


C. W. Taylor


John Woosley, John Alley


F. H. Casy


C. M. James


H. N. Barker


John Alley


O. R. Tarwater, Jr.


H. C. Clemons


C. E. Tremtham


F. A. Treadgill


D. Carmack Morris


S. S. Carton, Jr., E. Spring


Virgil N. Nale


J. B. McAllister


J. P. Ramsey


W. W. Newberry


Robert A. Boy


S. A. Douglas


Brian H. Green, Jr.


J. A. Greening


Malcolm Jollay


J. W. Carnes


David Mason


J. L. Griffith


Kenneth Whittaker


H. B. Wilson


Alden Nichols


W. D. Farmer


Ray Tumlin


C. A. Pangle


Bob Sutherland


C. T. Gray


Bob Powers


O. C. Wright


Charles Copeland


R. L. Evans


Bob Lorrance


R. T. Houts


Mike Teague


J. C. Spurlin


Don Everhart


J. M. Putnam


Tom Tucker


E. L. McConnell


Jared G. Wood                         

These ministers and dates may not be 100% accurate.  If you find an error, please let me know so I can correct the list for future generations.

Edna Jackson “Chapel Hill     
Isaac Thomas Peacock “History of Methodism in the Holston Conference”
Mary Thomas Peacock “The Circuit Riders and Those Who Followed”
Rev. Roy Howard, past president of Holston Historical Society, TN
Jim Douthat, Editor of Mountain Press, Signal Mountain

Next month’s question: After the close of the Civil War, the oldest minister in the conference was appointed to manage the reorganization of Southern Methodist Churches from Ashville, NC to Chattanooga, TN.  He went further and stpent time in reorganizing the Methodists in his own community of Henniger’s Chapel/Chapel Hill.  Who was the venerable and iconic minister?



History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – August 2018

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
August 2018 (Continued from last month) 

   In 1852 Henninger’s Chapel was erected and named for John Henninger, who was a popular circuit rider who came to the valley in 1817, the same year that Marion County was formed.  It is quite remarkable that no Methodist Church had been built in this section before 1852, but the circuit riders were in the valley preaching somewhere.  The Methodists had a way of finding some place to deliver what they felt were important messages to the people, if not in some one’s home, or school house, then out under the expanding oaks, beeches and poplars, in God’s own temple of prayer and praise.  The “Methodism in earnest” in those days recognized few insuperable obstacles to their forward march.

   The following is a list of ministers who have served this community church from 1852 to 1884.  Although the church was destroyed by Federal troops in 1863, the community was assigned a regular pastor as part of the Jasper circuit until a new church was erected in 1884.  During this time Bible studies were conducted in private homes, and the circuit riding ministers probably met with the congregation at Liberty Church located about ½ mile south of the current East Valley Baptist Church adjacent to the old Austin Farm.  This building was also utilized for commission meetings after Sequatchie County was formed in 1857.  In 1852 Sequatchie Valley had two circuits consisting of Jasper and Pikeville.  The first year after the Civil War there was apparently only one circuit in the valley including both Jasper and Pikeville.  But since they appointed two men to the circuit, one could have had the northern part of the valley and one could have taken the southern portion, so this community could have been a part of the northern end which included Pikeville, or both ministers could have taken turns serving this community.  There is no proof of this, only speculation.  Chapel Hill became part of the Dunlap circuit in 1884. 

1852    R. N. Price 1860    Lawrence M. Renfro
1853    J. R. Long 1861    M. P. Swain (Civil War begins)
1854    J. R. Burchfield 1862    A. E. Woodward
1855-56    John Spears 1863    Wm. H. Moody (church burned)
1857    A. C. Copeland 1864    No appointment
1858   C. T. McDonald 1865    Wm. H. Moody (End of Civil War)
1859    Thomas F. Glenn 1866   F. White, and W. W. Pyott (one circuit)

Will list both circuits since Pikeville and Jasper circuit riders may have served this community at different times, however were officially assigned to the Jasper Circuit.

Pikeville Circuit Jasper Circuit
1867  W. Pyott M. L. Clendenen
1868  L. L. Carlock J. C. Delashmit
1869  J. C. Delashmit W. B. Lyda
1870  E. H.  Bogle W. P. Lyda
1871  W. L. Turner W. C. Carden & Lyda
1872  J. R. Stradley, S. T. McPherson  George T. Gray
1873  R. J. Only, J. I. Cash M. P. Swain, John R. Hixson
1874  J. I. Cash, J. R. Hixson M. P. Swain, D. H. Hickey, J. Alley
1875  John H. Parrott T. H. Handy, T. P. Darr, J. Alley
1876  J. R. Stewart G. W. Simpson, J. A. Bilkerback, R. M. Standifer
1877  J. R. Stewart W. M. Kerr, J. A. Bilkerback
1878  D. H. Carr, J. R. Stewart W. M. Kerr, R. M. Standifer, John Alley
1879  D. H. Carr J. W. Smith, R. T. Barton
1880-81  J. R. Stewart J. W. Smith, J. H. Parrott
1881-82  J. R. Stewart D. V. Price, J. H. Parrott
1882-83  W. H. Horton J. I. Cash, P. H. Fishburn
1883-84  L. K. Haynes J. I. Cash, J. H. Parrott, C. M. James

(To be continued next month)

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – July 2018

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell

     Several years ago Edna Jackson researched and compiled a very comprehensive article on the history of Chapel Hill Church.  Ms. Jackson was my grammar school teacher at Center Point 4th and 5th grades and part of 3rd and 6th grades.  She later transferred to the high school and I was fortunate to have two more classes.  Ms. Jackson presented a tough exterior to her students but on the inside had a deep compassion for those under her tutelage.  She kindled in me a passion for history that has remained with me for a lifetime.

      In her article she was able to list all Chapel Hill ministers since 1881, so it has been my desire to research and locate all circuit riders who served this community since the arrival of the first Europeans. 

     By 1800 there were settlers within the current present day, Sequatchie Valley.  In 1807 Bledsoe County was established with a southern boundary in the vicinity of Brush Creek while south of Brush Creek was the Indian Lands of the Cherokee.  About 1790 William Stewart of Maryland settled on these lands near Looney’s Creek in present day Marion County.  Although Stewart had a sharecropping arrangement with a Cherokee farmer, it was still against Federal law to settle on Indian land.  In 1811 the United States Regular Soldiers burned William’s cabin and destroyed his crops.  He and his family then moved to Bledsoe County, north of present day Dunlap.  William’s son, William Deakins Stewart, was an early member of Henninger’s Chapel (Chapel Hill) in 1853 and later served as a Confederate Captain during the Civil War. 

      In the minutes of the Methodist Episcopal Western Conference for the year 1807, under assignments of preachers, the following entry is listed, “West Point to be supplied.”  According to Methodist Historian Isaac Patton, West Point was the first appointment between the Tennessee River and the Kentucky line.  In 1808 this was changed to “Tennessee Valley.” According to the Western Conference minutes, Holston District, the assignments read as follows:


Presiding Elder

1809 Milton Ladd

Learner Blackman

1810 William Young

Frederick Stier

1811 Thomas Hellum

Frederick Stier

1812 Williams B. Elgin

Frederick Stier

1813 Thomas A. King

James Axley

1814 Jesse Cunningham

James Axley

1815 John Manifee

James Axley

1816 William Hart

James Axley

1817 Hugh McPail, John Secton

John Henninger

1818 Thomas Springfield

John Henninger


From 1819 to 1832, the appointments to Sequatchy were part of the Tennessee Valley and included that territory that takes in Jasper and Pikeville.  In 1821 it was first written Sequatchy Valley.  The appointments were:


Presiding Elder

1819 James Porter

James Axley

1820 Sammuel Patton

James Axley

1821 John Kesterson, John Paulsaul

James Axley

1822 John Craig, John Bradfield

John Dever

Compiler’s Note: My Great-Great-Great Aunt Susannah Effie Bradfield Rogers was born in 1822 and named for Circuit Rider John Bradfield


Presiding Elder

1823 Thomas J. Brown, William Cumming

John Dever

In 1824, Holston Conference was formed and Sequatchy Valley became part of it under the Knoxville District.


Presiding Elder

1824 Abraham Overall, Robert Kirkpatrick

Thomas Stringfield

1825 John Bradfield

Thomas Stringfield

1826 Jacob McDaniel

John Henninger

1827 Isaac Easterly

John Henninger

1828 Isaac Easterly, D. Carter

John Henninger

1829 James D. Harris, S. Ernest

John Henninger

1830 Abraham Murphy, Rufus M. Stephens

John Henninger

1831 Oliver C. Miller, William Gilmore

John Henninger

1832 John Craig

John Henninger

In 1833, Sequatchy disappears from the conference minutes and Jasper and Pikeville are given.  Present day Chapel Hill Community was assigned to Jasper District.



1833 E.P. Childers

1842 G. W. Alexander, Jackson S. Burnett

1834 J.D. Harris

1843 M. Southward

1835 W. Burgess

1844 J. L. Sensibaugh

1835-36 E. Ekin

1845 J. R. Bellomy

1836-37 George W. Alexander

1846 Martin C. Robertson

1837 Francis Fanning

1847 John Alley

1838 J. Gaston

1848 Crockett Goodby

1839 T. Witten

1849 J. M. McTier

1840 A.M. Goodykoontz

1850 Newton C. Edmondson

1841 G. Baker, A. C. Mitchell

1851 W.C. Edmondson

(List of circuit riders to be continued next month along with next month’s question)

Last month’s question: What is the largest denominational faith organization for women? United Methodist Women.