History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – December 2016

Compiled by Johnny Cordell

During the Civil War, the congregation of Henniger’s Chapel (Historic Chapel Hill), like the community as a whole, was evenly split on their sympathies regarding support of the Union and Confederacy.  In 1861, William Stewart of Henniger’s Chapel was appointed a captain of a company of Confederate volunteers from the community, many of whom were members of the church. In later years, after the war, William’s son, the Rev. John R. Stewart, recounts one of his experiences in his book, The Story of My Life when he was a small boy in the summer of 1863.

“This was the year when the Federal troops invaded Sequatchie Valley; it was in August.  Being nine years of age then, I have a vivid ineffaceable memories of those awful times  The first “Yankee” I saw was on my grandfather’s farm (present home of Mr. & Mrs. Jim Taylor Stewart, see footnote 1) where several men were harvesting wheat.  Anderson Stewart, about my age, was there also.  The men were standing in a group around a large walnut tree when four or five “Blue Coats” rode up.  Anderson and I made a dash for safety, thinking that perhaps the soldiers would use their guns on some or all present.  After we saw that the soldiers were talking in a friendly way with the men, we ventured back that we might get a close-up of these “terrible men” about whom we had heard so much.  Although I saw them under many trying circumstances afterwards, that was the last time I was afraid of the “Blue Coats.”

“In a very short while after this  a squad of soldiers came to our home (present farm of Sam Rogers, see footnote 2).  They came through a large gate at the barn and dashed up to the yard fence and the orchard adjacent to the yard.  Peaches were ripe and a lot of shoats (young hogs) were in the orchard eaten the fallen fruit and were fat and fine but were not large.  The soldiers helped themselves to them, liberally, shot down several; and one thing that we were certain not to forget, a soldier ran his bayonet through the neck of a small shoat and put his gun on his shoulder and walked off with the small porker kicking and squalling as he went.”

“The Federal soldiers were raiding our farm and after they had gone, we were unable to find two yearlings steers; one of which my father had given me and the other I had bought from Mr. Siah Rogers with the money I had made going to mill for neighbors whose horses were gone.  We had saved old Pats, while she was fat and good looking, she had more age on her than the soldiers liked.  I was not so fortunate as to my yearlings.  They had gone with the Yankees and I was dead broke.”

“I was sent to Uncle Jim Stewart’s store (present home of Mr. & Mrs. Sam Kelly, see footnote 3) for something, and when I was ready to start back home, Uncle Jim said, “John you had better go back through the field by your Uncle Joe Lamb; the Yankees are likely to take your mare from you.”  I acted on his suggestion and before I got to Uncle Joe’s (present home of Mr. & Mrs. Cue Wilson – see footnote 4), I met two Yankee soldiers armed.  They stopped me and ordered me down.  I sat still and argued with them.  One of them got me by the bare leg and started to push me off.  Just then the one holding the reign let go and I clapped by heels against old Pat’s sides and she sprang away from them in a dead run.  They cocked their guns but I went on and left them.  Uncle Jim said when I told him about it, “It’s a thousand wonders they didn’t shoot you.”

The author, The Reverend John R. Stewart, was one of six ordained ministers produced by Henniger Chapel/Chapel Hill Methodist Church.


  1. Currently home of Keith Pickett
  2. Currently owned by Mike Lamb
  3. Currently owned by Billy & Donnie Johnson
  4. Currently owned by Sue White Manning

Sources “Chapel Hill” Edna Susong Jackson

Next article will focus on a brief history of Methodism and current organizational structure