History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
2019 July, Part 2
Civil War came to this area in full force in the summer of 1863 when the Union Army invaded the Sequatchie Valley. This area was utilized as a campground by troops under the command of General Crittenden. They cooked with fires built on the rock slabs that covered the early graves. They removed the planks from the church and transported them to Bridgeport to construct barracks. The remaining log church was burned by accident or on purpose, and the structure smoldered for over a week. After the defeat of the Union Army at Chickamauga, General Rosecrams was bottled up at Chattanooga where the federal troops were literally starving on a sustenance of one small piece of bread and one ounce of pork a day. The only supply route was East Valley Road and Anderson Pike which ran by this church. On October 2nd, Confederate General Joseph Wheeler sweeping down from the northeast on a cavalry raid surprised a union supply train stretching over ten miles, hence this area became the scene of the largest military raid of the Civil War. A skirmish took place here around this cemetery site, and the soldiers who were killed are buried in this cemetery. The citizens of this area endured unimaginable hardships as armies of both sides plundered and ravaged the countryside taking all animals and food. Most of the people survived on a cake like mixture of cornmeal and sorghum.
In 1864 a young girl was praying in her family’s apple orchard when she was converted by the spirit. When word of this experience spread throughout the community, a great revival broke out, and when it surpass the capacity of the house of Josiah Rogers, the meeting was moved to Liberty Union Presbyterian Church. It lasted for three weeks resulting in over 200 conversions. Although several years passed, this event led to the rebuilding of this church in 1884 under the leadership of Holston Conference Rev. Absolom Deakins Stewart. Since that time approximately 54 ministers have served this church now known as Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill was on a circuit with Dunlap and Welch Chapel until 1954 when Dunlap became a station. In 1968 Chapel Hill became a station.
The vestibule was added in 1930’s. For several years a non-denominational Sunday School was held at the Center Point School building and then they attended church services at Chapel Hill. However, due to an official ruling that the school house could not be utilized for religious purposes, Chapel Hill agreed to build Sunday School rooms and move Sunday School services to this building with the understanding that the Sunday School would continue to be non-denominational. This understanding has been adhered to and is still in effect. In February 1983 a steeple was erected. In 1984 additional Sunday School rooms and a fellowship hall was added. And now 167 years later Chapel Hill Church is embarking on a new vision with construction of a family life center and future sanctuary and fellowship hall on the drawing board. If our ancestors of 1852 and 1884 had not stepped out on faith, I obviously would not be here today in this church. But, I am here today and our circuit riders heritage and mission are still intact. Psalms 145:4 states that “One generation shall praise thy works to another and shall declare thy mighty acts.” One hundred years from now, what will our descendants say or write about us concerning our faith, determination and perseverance?
References: Chapel Hill by Edna Susong Jackson and committee
Sequatchie by Leonard Raulston & James Livingood
Military Records & Articles
Last month’s question: What military training does our current Pastor Jared Wood have? Jared graduated from Virginia Military Institute (VMI). Notable alumni of VMI are General George Marshall (WWII and later Secretary of State and Defense), General George Patton (famed tank commander WWII), and Marine Corps General Lewis “Chesty” Puller (Most decorated Marine in history)