History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – May 2018

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell

“Reverend Wells Wild Ride”

  One of the most colorful of the early circuit riders was Lemuel H. Wells.  His circuit was in the northwest territories and was later a bishop in Spokane, Washington.  The Reverend seems to have a particular knack for getting into strange situations, or perhaps some poor decision-making on his part occasionally played a role. 

Quite possibly Wells’ most picturesque misadventure was one that was the hardest to believe, however, consisting purely of plain, unadorned Gospel truth.  It was one that he had in a small town in northern Idaho.  In the hotel there, he requested a bath, and was told a tub would be ready for him in the morning at the head of the stairs.  Upon coming out the next day, he found a tub of water, one of those old-style giant washbasins that one sometimes see miners using in old Western movies.  It was the dead of winter, and the foyer of the hotel was about 20 degrees; so, shivering in the chilly air, the Reverend leaped into the tub to get his morning ablutions over with as fast as possible, so that he might put clothes on and get warm as quick as possible.  He immediately made two unpleasant observations.  The first was the water in the tub was just above freezing, breaking through a skim of ice on his way into it.  It seemed the hotel owner had prepared the bath the night before, so as not to have to bother with it in the morning; so it had all night to get cold in the pre-dawn winter’s chill of the unheated hotel lobby.

But the second discovery made Wells forget all about the coldness of the water.  It seemed the tub leaked a little.  It had been leaking out onto the floor throughout the night, forming a small puddle which had frozen like a block of ice on a highway.  When Wells had hopped into the icy water, the momentum of his leap had set the tub in motion on that sheet of ice.  Majestically and inexorably it sailed straight toward the top of the staircase, and decanted its contents over its rim.

So the Reverend Lemuel H. Wells, shivering cold and stark naked and helpless in the hands of a cruel fate, rode a half-full washtub down the stairs of the hotel, tumbling with it to the bottom and ending up with the tub perched triumphantly atop his battered and shivering body in a great puddle of freezing water on the landing below. 

This was, of course, hardly a silent procedure.  The crashing and thumpings of the tub, and the terrified shrieks of its passenger, roused every person in the building and probably several neighbors to boot.  Luckily he wasn’t badly hurt.  He was escorted back to his room as discreetly as possible under the circumstances, where he tried to warm himself as best he could and get ready for a day’s preaching of sermons to people who had, a few hours earlier, seen him naked under the most undignified of circumstances. 

 Just another day on the job, right?


Sources:  Bromberg, Erik “Frontier Humor: Plain and Fancy,” Oregon Historical Quarterly, Sept. 1960; Wells, Lemuel H.  A Pioneer Missionary.


Last month’s question:  Because he loved Chapel Hill and Sequatchie Valley, what minister was returned to Chapel Hill Cemetery for burial?   Reverend Jacob (Jake) P. Ramsey, (1926-1971) Chapel Hill 1954-1958.  Reverend Jake Ramsey died in an automobile accident and was buried on 17 December 1971.  He was a U.S. Navy Veteran of World War II.


Next month’s question:  Who built the original wall of Chapel Hill Cemetery next to the highway?





History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – April 2018

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny G. Cordell
“The Boys of Summer”

     In 1958 Chapel Hill Church organized their first baseball team.  Some of the churches in Dunlap had previously organized a church youth baseball league in 1955, so when we entered the league we were the new kids on the block.  Over the years Chapel Hill Church had a substantial number of excellent young athletes who played at Center Point School and later exhibited their skills at the high school level.  However, during the first year of baseball participation, our young boys were making the transition from elementary school softball to church league baseball.  Our first coach for a short period of time was Lynn Wilson, who I think had some minor league time with the Chattanooga Lookouts.  He was very invaluable in the transition from a large ball lobbed to a hitter as opposed to a small hard ball delivered in an overhand method at speeds of 50 to 70 miles per hour from a distance of 46 feet. Needless to say, this transition coupled with competition against experienced teams, created a difficult situation winning games our first year.

     Some of the players that year were Danny Wilson, Tommy Austin, Stanley Barker, Clinton Cox, Edward Barker, Steve Swanger, Hugh Barker, Ronnie Swanger, DeWayne Brown, David Fletcher and others.  Our first practice was at Center Point School and later practices were in a small field next to Aunt Sallie Barker’s house.  DeWayne Brown was our pitcher.  DeWayne was a big kid with a big arm and a blistering fastball.  No one could hit his fastball, but DeWayne had a problem with ball control, so consequently no one wanted to practice batting for fear of being beaned.  It was somewhat comical to watch players run out of the batter’s box when DeWayne started his wind up.  Nevertheless, DeWayne pitched our first game which resulted in good news and also bad news.  The good news was the opposing batters had a hard time getting a bat on the ball, but the bad news was Dewayne hit about every other batter, so we lost the game because too many opposing batters were put on base and into scoring position.  This went on for a couple of games   when it was decided that our team needed to recruit another pitcher.  I think everyone except me volunteered for a tryout.  Even though I was the softball pitcher, I did not want to be the baseball pitcher.  To make a long story short, I was eventually asked to tryout.  I did not have a blazing fastball, but apparently I was the only one who could get the ball over the plate in a controllable manner.  Regardless of how I felt about it, I was drafted on the spot.  We didn’t fare much better in the win column that first year, but our boys were learning how to hit the ball and play defense. 

     Our games were played on a baseball field located behind the Dunlap Elementary School.  On the right side of the field was a pasture occupied by Carlye Bryant’s cows.  The left side of the field was a large overgrown ditch which occasionally swallowed-up the baseballs and sometimes a left fielder.  A ball hit into the ditch was invariably a home run, so for right handed hitters, swinging for the “big ditch” was an attractive target. 

     The second year our first game was the First Baptist Church, their nickname was the Royal Ambassadors or R.A’s.  The R.A’s had beaten us rather badly the first year, showing us no mercy or love.  Having returned 90% of our team, decent pitching, and a superb defense, we returned the favor.  I don’t know if we showed any love in victory, but we sure loved beating the R.A’s.  We not only won the game, we went undefeated for the remainder of the season. 

     Somewhere during the course of the first year, our pastor Robert Boy agreed to take over the team as coach.  Reverend Boy was a young 25 year old preacher and really enjoyed working with the team.  During the course of a game, he would become very animated, scolding the umpires, and occasionally doing a little good humored Christian trash talking.  After every game he would also make sure that he apologized to all the opposing players and coaches.  I think Preacher Boy’s actions during the game were probably done to keep us focused and fired up, but whatever the reason, we loved it. 

     Pastor Robert A Boy was only our preacher for about two years.  He was a talented individual, and later became a volunteer secretary at the annual conference.  Brother Robert A Boy passed away in 1989 in Bristol, Tennessee.  In memoriam 2 Timothy 4:7

Last month’s question: what year did Chapel Hill organize a youth baseball team? 1958


Next month’s question:  Because he loved Chapel Hill and Sequatchie Valley. What Methodist Minister at his death, was returned to Chapel Hill for burial?

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – March 2018

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
Reminiscing of a Chapel Hill Youth

     I do not really remember my first time of attendance at Chapel Hill Church since I was a very small child.  My mother was of the Church of God faith and she did not attend church at Chapel Hill except on special occasions when the children were involved in programs.  She attended Fredonia Church of God when she could, but it was not very often, so my Dad was the one who brought us to church.  My mother was a God fearing individual and always made sure we were dressed and ready for church.  My first Sunday School Teacher was Miss Louise Johnson who taught us the familiar children’s Bible stories.  She was a dear saint of an individual who cared about her students outside of the Sunday School room.  As we became older and more rambunctious, we moved to Ms. Claudia Rogers’ Sunday School class.  Ms. Claudia was an active person, full of life, and not opposed to good natured humor and fun.  She drove a station wagon and always brought a load of kids from Dunlap to church.  Ms. Claudia started a yearly trip to Lake Winnepesaukah for her class, which later morphed until a large transit bus and basically allowing any child in town to participate.  In those days a lot of children had never encountered anything like Lake Winnie.  The rides were a nickel and you could eat a good meal for less than a quarter, so you could have a lot of cheap entertainment for a dollar.  The favorite ride was the “boat chute” which went through a dark tunnel, hooked to a pulley system and hoisted to a high point above the water and released down a steep track to impact onto the lake amid squeals and laughter as one usually got wet.  There was a rumor, that in the past a person had been bitten by a water moccasin snake in the tunnel, so there was no problem with everyone keeping their hands in the boat.  For some of the older boys, it was probably their first life experience opportunity, while in the tunnel, to strategically place their arm around the shoulder of a member of the opposite gender.  I think the trip was an event that everyone looked forward to each year.  I assume Ms. Claudia and possibly other adults in the church paid for the bus, but even a dollar was difficult to obtain as spending money. 

     I remember that during the year I would collect empty coke bottles and redeem them at Wade Swanger’s Store for a penny a piece.  Sometimes I would spend the night with Uncle Frank Cordell and he would pay me a dollar to mow his yard.  I think because I worked for the money, I enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity for a day of jocularity and frivolous fun.  Also, I remember one year, for the March of Dimes, we walked from Dunlap to the Hamilton County line.  You have to realize that in those days, you might encounter two or three cars as we ascended the mountain on Highway 127.  For safety reasons and traffic density, you would not be able to do that today. 

     We have had some excellent Sunday School teachers who have provided outside activities over the years, but Ms. Claudia was my first teacher at that age level, and I appreciated the time, effort, and money that she contributed.  We, the boys, were a handful and personally I do not think I would have tolerated some of our antics and behavior that she had to endure. Ms. Claudia is no longer with us, but I’m sure if there are any raucous rowdy angels in Heaven, she has it well under control. 

Last month’s question:  Volunteers from this community (Sequatchie Valley) served in West Tennessee Units during the War of 1812.  Why were they not assigned to the East Tennessee Units?  In 1812 all territory West of Knoxville was considered the West.  There was no Middle Tennessee geographic region at that time.  Andrew Jackson of Tennessee was considered the first president to be elected from the Western United States.  

Next month’s question:  What year did Chapel Hill Church organize a youth baseball team?


History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – February 2018

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell

    In a previous article, I alluded to the partial dismantling of the original church (Henniger’s Chapel) by the federal troops in 1863.  They removed the outside planking and transported it to Bridgeport, Alabama to construct barracks or sleeping quarters.  This unfortunate act of church vandalism was apparently sanctioned by Major General Thomas L. Crittenden who was Commander of the 21st Army Corps.  I have often wondered if Henniger’s Chapel was targeted for a specific reason, or was this the accepted mode of military operations within enemy territory.  Was Henniger’s Chapel the only church in the valley to be exposed to wartime military requisitions?  After conducting research on other valley churches, I discovered that at least two other churches were utilized by federal troops to support military operations. 

   Another Methodist Church affected by the Civil War was McDaniel’s Chapel located at Shellmound, Marion County, Tennessee.  The church was built during the 1850’s on land donated by Goodson McDaniel who was a Methodist Circuit Rider.  During the war, the son-in-law of Reverend McDaniel, watched from the house and saw Federal Soldiers rip the planks from the Chapel with their hatchets and build a shelter for themselves.  In 1880 a larger church was built, but in the 1900’s church services were discontinued.  Today a silent graveyard and remnants of the church testify to the passing of a stalwart people and a beloved community that once rallied around McDaniel’s Chapel. 

   Whiteside Methodist Church has an interesting history due to the course of events during the Civil War.  This church was physically located in two different states, and this is not because of boundary lines being moved.  Before the Civil War, the Methodists worshiped in a building known as “Meeting House Hollow” located in Dade County, Georgia.  Then, during the war, the Federal Soldiers needed the building for their headquarters; so they moved it three miles over into Marion County from Dade County and placed it beside Running Water near the spot occupied by the present church building.  After the war, the Methodists came to the present church building in its new location and continued to worship. 

Source: “The Circuit Rider and Those Who Followed” by Mary Thomas Peacock

Last month’s question: True or False.  Chapel Hill community suffered greatly under Union Occupation during and after 1863 because Sequatchie County voted for succession.  False.   Sequatchie County voted twice on succession .  The first vote was in favor for succession, but the second vote was against.  Both votes were close. 

:  Generally soldiers were not interested in local politics but more about survival. 

Next month’s question:  Volunteers from this community (Sequatchie Valley) served in West Tennessee Units during the War of 1812. Why were they not assigned to the East Tennessee Units?

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – January 2018

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
“Francis Asbury comes to the Holston”

   When Francis Asbury settled to his annual circuit of reaching all sections, he was experienced, and his skill, integrity and authority were recognized.  The church grew with the country.  The migration of peoples flowed in streams and was to him a divine call.  Out of the heavily populated coastal plain, people were flowing into the Appalachian Mountains, reaching out into Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Western North Carolina, as well as into the North and South.  Soon he was to follow and cross those mountain walls, as he did again and again until he died on the way back to Baltimore. 

     The Holston country was named after a German settler named Holstein.  He built the first cabin in the region, on the three-forked river that yet bears his name and is a tributary of the Tennessee River which begins at the confluence of the Holstein and French Broad Rivers.  Jeremiah Lambert was the first appointed minister to the new Holston Circuit in 1783.  As settlements penetrated the wilderness, that circuit evolved into our present Holston Conference which at a previous time, encompassed all the present Virginia south of the New River in the region southward of Radford; all the portion of North Carolina and small part of South Carolina that lies west of the Blue Ridge; present Mercer and McDowell counties in the southern end of present West Virginia; all of East Tennessee; and a small portion of North Georgia.

     After one year Jeremiah Lambert died.  The mortality rate of these pioneer circuit riding preachers was high.

“They climbed the steep ascent to heaven,
Through Peril, toil, and pain;
Oh God!  May grace to us be given
To follow in their train.”

In 1785 Asbury made his first trip to Charleston, S.C.,  but he was listening to what scouts, hunters, and pioneers were saying.  Francis Asbury claimed and held this big Holston territory for nearly thirty years, 1788-1816.  He crossed and re-crossed it more than twenty times.  He always respected the high, and hard mountains.  Perhaps he was frightened a few times by the ruggedness and vastness of the forest and the swift deep streams, but he never let the challenge go unheeded.   He climbed the mountains, forged or ferried the rivers, endured the torrents of rain and snow, but went to reach the people.  He was a big factor in “Winning the West”, as Theodore Roosevelt so eloquently recognized.  He said that “the bishop left his autograph in hoof-prints.”  He always kept in sight of tides of needy and friendly people pouring into the west.  He was called to bring to them the word of God.

     When preaching places in any area began to multiply, it was the custom of Francis Asbury to visit in person, so in 1788 at forty-three years of age he planned to meet the Holston and Kentucky preachers at Keywood near present day Saltville, Virginia.  He had already been as far south as Georgia that year.  A conference had been held in Charleston , S.C. in March and another in Elberton, Georgia, in April.  This was followed by extensive travel and preaching in Western North Carolina.  After finishing his work in the Yadkin Valley in North Carolina, Bishop Asbury steered north to conduct the famous Keywood Conference in the wilds of Holston country.  This was the first conference west of the mountains. 

     There was some misunderstanding about the date of the Conference and none of the Kentucky preachers were present when Asbury arrived.  Asbury had learned about the armed conflict between followers of John Sevier and Colonel Tipton over forming a state in the new territory (now Tennessee).  Sevier and his friends were attempting to establish a state called Franklin.  Colonel Tipton felt the territory should remain in North Carolina.  Asbury was disturbed about the trouble, and since his preachers had not arrived, went to Jonesboro area to preach.  Years later the famed Tennessee historian, J.G.M. Ramsey, was to write about this disturbance, he indicated that Asbury’s preaching had helped to calm the spirits of the people and bring peace.

     The preachers had arrived in Keywood during Asbury’s absence.  They had not wasted their time.  They had preached.  Among the results was the sound conversion of Madam Russell and her husband, who became able adherents of Methodism for years to come.  Attending this Conference were thirteen preachers, three elders, and Bishop Asbury.  They met in a cold upper room in the Keywood home.  As they made their reports it was discovered that the membership in the churches in the Holston area had risen from the original 60 to 743.  After the business and prayers were completed, the appointments were made.  This concluded the first visit of the “Prophet of the Long Road” to Holston.  After Conference, Bishop Asbury left Holston Country to visit again in North Carolina.  He was to travel many more weary miles and conduct five more Conferences, as far north as New York, before the year ended. 

Sources:  Holston Historic Heritage Vol 8 N0 1   Spring 2008

Last month’s question:  In the old part of Chapel Hill Cemetery is the grave of Bill Emery.  Why is this burial significant?  Bill Emery was an Afro-American and a former slave.  During this era of segregation, this would have been highly unusual.

Next month’s question:  True or False.  Chapel Hill community suffered greatly under Union occupation during and after 1863 because Sequatchie County voted for secession.

Next article will reflect on historical and sometimes humorous tidbits of Methodism


History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – December 2017

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell

“Methodism in Hoofprints” 
Francis Asbury

   In 1984, a little book was produced by Robert L. Hilten and Marvin Kincheloe based on the Journal of Bishop Francis Asbury.  The following are excerpts of that publication. 

    The main facts of Francis Asbury’s life are familiar.  Joseph and Elizabeth Asbury were humble working people in Staffordshire near Birmingham, England.  His sister’s death mellowed him greatly.  He had no brother.  He never returned to England, but did help support his parents in their later years.

    His formal schooling was meager, cut short by a cruel schoolmaster. Fortunately, he came into an apprenticeship to a godly Methodist iron worker.  Converted while praying in a barn, he was drawn to Methodist itinerancy.  His muscles had been hardened in the forge and his heart warmed with Methodist fervency. 

    He answered the call to go to America.  John Wesley sent him and Richard Wright in the fall of 1771.  Friends bought clothes and gave him ten pounds for his equipment.  The enticement of wealth he never knew.  He did know Wesley’s circuit plan developed in England. He was a circuit-riding evangelist and, he lifted it to a continent size.  Soon he was its leader, as he pushed the ministers out of the coastal cities to follow and find people.

    The Revolutionary War storm soon broke over him.  He sided with the colonies, though under suspicion because he was British.  He had to refugee about twenty months under the protection of Judge Thomas White and other friends in Delaware.  Forced to hide in a swamp and the woods a few times, still he was active in home worship services and winning souls.  He didn’t like for these years to be spoken of as inactive years.  From there he emerged as the recognized leader of Methodism in America.  He felicitated George Washington on his position as President of the United States with all of its responsibilities and pledged support for the highest interests of the New Nation.

    An Imposing equestrian statue of Asbury was placed in Washington, D.C. in 1925.  The rider in colonial garb with hat drawn tightly looks forward despite the elements and wilderness hazards, into new lands and new tomorrows, astride a tired horse.  Wesley said he looked on the whole world as his parish, Asbury believed and fulfilled those words. 

    The Christmas Conference, in 1784, in Baltimore set Asbury free.  He was appointed by Wesley, but he would not accept the superintendence until duly elected by his brethren.  The church spilled out the coastal towns of Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Norfolk.  Pastoral assignments were short, and Asbury was the leader.

    In the 1785-1789 period, Asbury tried a Council for governing the new church.  He said it was impractical, so he concluded that a delegated general conference would be best.  This grew up under his skilled directive hand.  The efficiency of holding fewer conferences, with wider range and greater number of preachers, was accepted in 1792-1795 period. 

(To be continued next month)

Last month’s question:  The house of Allen Kirklin, who donated land for the original church and early cemetery, is still standing.  Where is it located?  The house is located just south of the historical church and occupied by Lynn and Catherine Allen.

Next month’s question:  In the old part of Chapel Hill Cemetery is the grave of Bill Emery.  Why is his burial significant?





History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – November 2017


By Johnny Cordell

This month in honor of our Chapel Hill Methodist Veterans, I am submitting an excerpt from an article written by Glenn Smith, one of my fellow VVA lifetime members.  This is not your typical Veteran’s Day Tribute, but instead offers an insight into a Vietnam Veteran who was changed forever by the realities of an assassination and war. 

Warning:  This article may not be suitable for very young readers.

“Moon of the Falling Leaves”

   The Sioux call the November moon the “Moon of the Falling Leaves”.  Trees are bare and unadorned, like a human skeleton devoid of its flesh and organs.  Yet a tree, or even the entire woodland, still hints of life, still embodies hope for a new beginning.  A naked skeleton does not.

   In my youth, I watched war movies, cops-and-robbers movies, and movies with cowboys shooting Indians.  The killings were sanitized on the silver screen.  The good guys and bad guys went home at night to their families, then returned the following morning to make a new film.  It wasn’t real but it appeared so.  We played out those movies in our back yards, woods, and streets, good guys whooping in valor, bad guys falling and screaming in fabricated agony; then rising from the battlefield to do it again, just like John Wayne and Audie Murphy.  Death meant nothing to us in those days, but it meant much more to our fathers, who knew death yet rarely spoke of it.  We kept shooting and dying, clutching our bloodless wounds, feigning mortal injuries, and exhaling the obligatory last breath.  We were young and many moons to live.

   I was just seventeen when the world witnessed an assassin’s bullet strike down President John Fitzgerald Kennedy late in the “Moon of the Falling Leaves” in 1963.  This man seemed to have the world in his hands, answers to humanities problems, power to stop ogres, a smile to warm a chilly room, and visions of peace balanced with the carriage of a proven warrior.  Time seemed to stand still, maybe even reverse itself, without us realizing it, and moons whirled around us like a tornado.  Life as we had known it was different, less fun, more uncertain.  And in just a few more moons, the movies would come to life in a stifling, humid jungle eight thousand miles from home.  There, where suns became moons in a steamy mist and moons seemed rare, the agony and mortal injuries become real. The stillness of our fathers screamed in our ears and we wept.  In the jungles and rice patties of Vietnam, many were felled by senseless, impartial bullets; not on the ground of Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, or Shiloh, but on the distant shores of Da Lat, Hue, and Pleiku.

   For reasons that may never be understood, the youth of America; African American, Caucasian, Asian, Spanish, Native American, really just Americans in the end, fought and died in Vietnam for over ten years.  To what end?  My own sons did not have to go to war, and for that I am thankful.  But it is regrettably inevitable that the silence of falling leaves on hillside monuments or visions of full moons rising will not stifle war.

Compiler’s note:  After reading this article, I am again reminded of Matt 24:6

Source: “The VVA Veteran” September/October 2016 Vol. 36 No. 5

Last month’s question: What are the two oldest Methodist Churches in the Sequatchie Valley?  According to my research, the oldest documented churches are Welch’s Chapel (Thomas Chapel 1826, Nichol’s Chapel 1850, Welch’s Chapel 1883) and Chapel Hill (Henninger’s Chapel 1852, Chapel Hill 1884).  In the Sequatchie Valley, in the early 1800’s there were, at one time, 23 churches on one circuit.  What they were, and where, we do not know.  Undoubtedly some are lost in oblivion.  Churches have come and gone without a traceable record.  Some trails were long but have been closed forever.  “Methodist were so busy making history they were too busy to record the history they were making.”

Next month’s question:  The house of Allen Kirklan, who donated the land for the original church and early cemetery, is still standing.  Where is it located?

Source:  The Circuit Rider and Those Who Followed by Mary Thomas Peacock

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – October 2017

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree

Compiled by Johnny Cordell


Camp Meetings and Circuit Riders: Did you know?

             In most camp meetings, the focal point of the gathering was receiving Communion.  The circuit rider often over saw the preparations of the site for the camp meetings.  A site previously used could be “reclaimed” in a single day, and he would direct volunteers in clearing away fallen branches and making any needed repairs to the plank seats.  Preparing a new site, however, took three or four days.  Many camp meetings lasted six days or even nine days.  Eventually, four days became the fixed number, with meetings beginning on Friday afternoon or evening and continuing until Monday noon.  One saying was “The good people go to camp meetings Friday and backsliders Saturday, rowdies Saturday night, and gentlemen and lady sinners Sunday.”  Many people at the early camp meetings displayed unusual physical manifestations:  fainting, rolling, laughing, running, singing, dancing, and jerking (a spasmodic twitching of the entire body), where they hopped with head, limbs, and trunk shaking “as if they must…..fly asunder.”

          Camp meetings were one of the few opportunities for young people to meet future spouses since everyone they knew in the immediate community were relatives.  At some camp meetings, watchmen carrying long white sticks patrolled the meeting grounds each evening to stop any inappropriate conduct.  Enemies of camp meetings sneered that “more souls were begot than saved.”  After several days of courting at the camp meetings, many couples were married after the meeting concluded, or soon thereafter.

Experience taught circuit riders that “Christians enjoy those meetings most which cost them the greatest sacrifice.”  A fifty-mile journey was “a pretty sure pledge of a profitable meeting.”  An observer describing the preaching of James Mc Gready, an early leader of camp meetings, said “He would so describe Heaven, that you would almost see its glories…he would also describe hell and its horrors before the wicked, that they would tremble and quake, imaging a lake of fire and brimstone yearning to overwhelm them.”  Defending camp meetings, James B. Finley said, “Much may be  said  about camp meetings, but, take them all in  all, for practical exhibition of religion, for unbounded hospitality to strangers, for unfeigned and fervent spirituality, give me a country camp meeting against the world.”

           Methodist Francis Asbury (1745-1816) became one of the best know circuit riders in America.  Letters addressed “Bishop Asbury, United States of America were promptly delivered.  Plagued by illness all of his life, he continued to visit circuits even when he had to be tied to the saddle to remain upright.”  The early American Methodists asked four questions:

  1. Is this man truly converted?
  2. Does he know and keep our rules?
  3. Can he preach acceptably?
  4. Has he a horse?

          Methodist circuit riders were also book distributors.  Their commission on sales provided some of them the only cash they ever saw.  This helped spread Bibles, hymnbooks, and other religious material throughout the frontier.  Peter Cartwright, long time circuit rider, was twice elected to the Illinois legislature.  His one defeat was in a congressional race when he lost to a lanky opponent by the name of Abraham Lincoln. Beef or venison jerky was the circuit riders staple food because it would not spoil easily.  Riding a circuit was demanding on those who undertook this grueling ministry – half died before reaching age 33.  Yet many ministers thrived on the rigors of the circuit.

          Peter Cartwright likely held the record for endurance:  he enjoyed 71 years as an itinerant.  A circuit rider was to take good care of his horse.  The First Discipline of the Methodist Church said “Be merciful to your Beast.  Not only ride moderately, but see with your own eyes that your horse is rubbed and fed.”  When Francis Asbury came to the colonies in 1771, there were only 600 American Methodists.  When he died 45 years later, there were 200,000 American Methodists, largely because of camp meetings and circuit riders.

Source:  Timothy K. Beougher “Christianity Today, Issue #45”

Last month’s question:  What Methodist Civil War General helped to establish a well-known college within the Holston Conference following the War?   College was named after a U.S President located in East Tennessee.  Answer: Major General Oliver Otis Howard, who was known as the “Christian General.”  He lost an arm in battle in 1862, yet he continued to command and lead troops until the end of the war.  Helped to establish Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee.  Compiler’s Note:  If you ever occasion to be in the vicinity of LMU, I would recommend to visit the Lincoln Museum located on campus which houses memorabilia and history of the Lincoln Era.

Next month’s question? What are the two oldest Methodist Churches in the Sequatchie Valley?



History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – September 2017

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell

Did you Know?

     There are at least 23 other churches in the United States that have the same name as Chapel Hill United Methodist in Dunlap, TN.  The following list may not be complete, but If you know of any more Chapel Hill United Methodist Churches, let me know.

Alabama Chapel Hill UMC Decatur
Georgia Chapel Hill UMC Rome
Indiana Chapel Hill UMC Indianapolis
Kansas Chapel Hill UMC Wichita
Kentucky Chapel Hill UMC Henderson
Michigan Chapel Hill UMC Portage
  Chapel Hill UMC Battle Creek
  Chapel Hill UMC Sodus
  Chapel Hill UMC Kent City
Mississippi Chapel Hill UMC Pope
  Chapel Hill UMC Ackerman
  Chapel Hill UMC Sandersville
  Chapel Hill UMC Duck Hill
North Carolina Chapel Hill UMC Chapel Hill
  Chapel Hill UMC Denton
  Chapel Hill UMC Reidsville
  Chapel Hill UMC Statesville
Ohio Chapel Hill UMC Mansfield
Oklahoma Chapel Hill UMC Oklahoma City
Tennessee Chapel Hill UMC Chapel Hill
Texas Chapel Hill UMC Farmers Branch
  Chapel Hill UMC San Antonio
West Virginia Chapel Hill UMC Buckhannon


Last month’s question?  What event in 1864 eventually led to the rebuilding of the Church in 1884?  The convicting religious experience of a young girl praying in an apple orchard.  Her testimony caused quite a sensation at school the next day.  The teacher Mr. Stewart sent word by his students that there would be a prayer meeting that night at the home of Josiah Rogers.  This meeting was led by chief lay leaders Stephen D. Thurman, Josiah Rogers, and William D Stewart.  A great crowd assembled and the prayer meeting continued all night with 15 young men and women converted.  The meeting then moved to Liberty Church (located next to the Austin Farm where James Burch once resided) The meeting lasted for three weeks resulting in over 200 conversions.  This revival prepared the people for the trying times of Civil War Reconstruction and eventually paved the way for construction of a new church in 1884.

Question: What Methodist Civil War General helped to establish a well-known college within the Holston Conference following the war?   College was named after a U.S. President located in East Tennessee.











History Leaves of the Methodist Tree – August 2017

History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell


Did you know?

   There are a dozen churches in the Holston Conference named for women.  This may be an incomplete list, so if you know of any more UMC Churches, let me know.

Addilyn Memorial, Bristol, TN
Elizabeth, Teas, VA
Elizabeth Chapel, Bluff City, TN
Ester Memorial, Bristol, TN
Hunt Memorial, Bristol, TN
Kathleen Chapel, Narrows, VA
Lou’s Chapel, South Pittsburg, TN
Mary’s Chapel, Grainger County, TN
Madam Russell, Saltville, VA
Smyth Chapel, Emory, VA
St. Mary’s, Monroe County, TN

There have been at least a half dozen which have closed.

Doing historical research inevitably leads to genealogy information.  Some people are fascinated by genealogy while others have no interest in this area.  Others are hesitant that they might uncover some physical traits they might inherit at an older age.  For this folks, this short poem is for you!

I saw a duck the other day.
It had the feet of my Aunt Faye.
Than it walked, was heading south.
It waddled like my Uncle Ralph.
And when it turned, I must propose,
Its bill was formed like Aunt Jane’s nose.
I thought, “Oh no! It’s just my luck,
Someday I’ll look just like a duck!”
I sobbed to Mom about my fears,
And she said, “Honey, dry your tears.
You look just like me, so walk with pride.
Those folks are all from your Daddy’s side.”

Sources:  Holston Heritage Vol, Number 2 Fall 2001

Last month’s question:  Chapel Hill Cemetery is a Church membership and community cemetery.  Community being the 5th Civil District and part of the 3rd Civil District.  What family name is most represented within the cemetery since 1849?  The Barker Family

Next month’s question?  What event in 1864 eventually led to the rebuilding of the Church in 1884?