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THE HISTORY OF MARION CO AR|
Marion County Churches
By: Mrs. Benrice Johnson
RESPECT THE COPYRIGHT: This book is still under copyright of the Marion County Historical Association and may not be used for any purpose other than your own personal research. It may not be reproduced nor placed on any web page nor used by anyone or any entity for any type of "for profit" endeveor.
"Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching. them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19, 20. These words were spoken by Jesus as He was preparing his disciples for his departure from this earth. Many have followed this teaching and his followers have moved from place to place spreading the gospel.
Now as we celebrate our 200th year as a nation, we remember that many of our forefathers migrated to this country for religious freedom, and with the westward movement came the Bible and its teachings.
Before Arkansas became a state, religious services were being held. Among the early settlers in this area now Marion County were Methodists, Baptists and Christians.
The story is told of the Presbyterian missionary who came into the Newton Flat (now Bull Shoals area) area near the close of the 19th century. It was a hot day and the missionary, traveling on foot, stopped at the home of Uncle Billy and Aunt Sallie Hunter and asked for a drink of water. Aunt Sallie gave him a drink of cold water and some homemade molasses cookies. As he ate and drank, he asked Aunt Sallie if there were any Presbyterians in the community. Aunt Sallie replied: "I have never heard Billy mention any such varmint but if there are any Billy will have one of their hides on the smokehouse, as he is the best hunter and trapper in these parts."
The following is taken from the writings of W. R. Jones: "Near Crooked and Hog Skin Creeks in the vicinity of Corb Wood's and Dick Hurst's places, the Hurst and Woods children grew up. At the home of John Hunt, Jr., who married Nancy Wood, the first sermon ever preached in Marion County was delivered. It was by a Primitive Baptist minister, Elder Jesse Casey, grandfather of Jasper Casey, also a minister." Others mentioned as early preachers were Elder Henry Sasser, "Tosh" Seward and Elder Parmer, of the Missionary Baptist.
Mr. Jones states that "The two nestors of the Christian church were Elder W. B. Flippin of Flippin Barrens, and Elder W. C. Jenkins of Sugar Loaf. Other Christian preachers were Elders James Rose, Tom Nowlin and Joseph Boyd."
Among the Methodist ministers, Mr. Jones wrote that, "Old Parson Wade (J. H.) was the nestor of Methodism and that his son George and grandson Lynn Wade were also Methodist ministers."
(Page 482 Top) Mr. T. J. Estes in Early Days and War Times in North Arkansas tells of"'Parson J. H. Wade coming to Yellville and hoiding a meeting in a brush arbor. (This was probably after the burning of the church building when he re-organized the Methodist work in this area.) There were around one hundred confessions. He was assisted in these meetings by Parsons Shinn and Shook, two more of the pioneer preachers.
From Early Days in Marion County by Marion Burnes, this obituary was carried in the MOUNTAIN ECHO, written by J. A. Rose, an early Christian minister: "John H. Tabor, one of our oldest and best citizens has gone home. He came to Marion County when only a boy. He lived with the Indians and enjoyed hunting, fishing and living the life of the red-man. In 1868 he obeyed the gospel of Christ and was baptized by W. B. Flippin and lived a godly life."
The first church recorded was the Methodist church at Pleasant Ridge in 1848. The first Baptist church was established in Bruno in 1871. Prior to the erection of buildings, church would be held in homes and brush arbors. The really big meetings, camp meetings, were held. People walked, rode horseback, came in wagons and even in boats to reach the place where a meeting of some group was being held. These meetings provided much more than the preaching of the gospel. It was a great part of the social life. Many marriages and lasting friendships were made during these times.
It seems that our forefathers worshipped somewhat differently than we do today. All attended other groups' meetings and even, at times, helped in the services, Several men have been listed as early members in more than one denomination.
Revivals and camp meetings were events held after the crops were laid by. In many places brush arbors were used. The arbor was made by cutting small trees which were used for the outside frame and roof. The roof was then covered with tree branches. Benches were made from split logs.
Mrs. Mary Nichols, daughter of Joe and Eliza Clem, writes of her early life in school at Dry Hill and in church at Duren Valley on Greasy Creek. She recalled such people as Bro. Lee Carson, the blind preacher, Rupert Nanny, W. R. Jones, Brothers Lamb and Milum, the Cab and Dow Wolf's families, the Evans family and Uncle Will Clem-and of Orbie Clem being baptized after the ice was broken. She told of the wonderful meetings they had where God poured out the Holy Spirit and of the shouting that followed.
Mrs. Sam Duren told of the church known to most people in Yellville in the 1920's as Uncle Tom's Church. The church was just east of the Methodist church and was built by James Wickersham and given to the Presbyterians. After the Presbyterians quit using the building, Uncle Tom Wilson, having withdrawn from the Methodist church, preached in the building until his death. It was then known as the Congregational Methodist. In later years Arthur Hurst held services there.
Several of the small churches have closed their doors as few people live in the old communities since schools and post offices have consolidated and transportation has greatly improved. One such church is the little Brown Church about two miles southwest of Yellville. The information relative to (Page 483 Top) the Little Brown Church was supplied by Mrs. D. U. Morrow (Gladys Still). The Brown Church was built because of the desire of five young girls to have a place to attend church. Leona Still (Mrs. Leona Wickersham), Gladys Still (Mrs. D. G. Morrow), Berneice McEntire Mrs. Jim Sullivan, Beatrice McEntire and Helen Thayers (Mrs. George Buchanan) wanted to go to church but after walking to Yellville several times (wearing their old shoes and carrying their good ones as far as the Crooked Creek bridge where they changed and left their old shoes until they returned) they decided it was too far to walk and they had no other way of transportation. The only answer, as far as they could see, was to have a place in their own community where they could attend church. They decided to build a brush arbor and have someone hold a revival. B. F. Still (Uncle Frank) said he would find a preacher when the place was ready. Soon they were busy with hoes, rakes and axes and, with the help of others in the community, the place was cleaned off and benches were fixed for people to sit on. It was advertised by word of mouth and the first revival under the trees, held by Clum Hudspeth, was a success with 25 people being baptized after the revival. The idea was so successful, and met with so much enthusiasm by the people, that they decided to put up a building where services could be held each week with Sunday School as well as preaching. The people of the community with Uncle Frank Still as overseer (he notched the logs and made the shingles) were soon cutting logs and all other necessary things to get the building up. Money, material and labor were all donated and everyone (men, women and children) helped to fill cracks between the logs, papering and cleaning the inside, and getting the building ready for use. The first service was held on the first Sunday in October 1934. Carl Keeter, Uncle Frank Still, Tom Ott and Joel James were some of the early Sunday School superintendents. The preachers from the different churches in town came once a month to hold services. It was a growing, flourishing un-denominational church for years with singing schools and revivals being held and special all-day services on Mother's Day, Easter and Christmas. Uncle Frank Still was always there to open the door, ring the bell and, in winter, build fires. When World War II ended, the bell was rung to gather the people for a special thanksgiving service. Much real and lasting good was done while the church was active and it is a tragedy that the church stands empty today, decaying from neglect and misuse.
The Assemblys of God Church (Top)
Another little church building which has been torn down due to lack of use is the Mountain View Church. The community centered around the school and the church which met in the same building for some time. Brother Wesley Sullivan was the preacher most of the time.
In 1907 a brush arbor meeting was held with a Brother Kastning doing the preaching. A result of the meeting led to the building of a new building on land belonging to the Jim Rowden family. The building was used until around 1921 when it was moved to a new location where it stood until it was torn down in the early 1970's.
The building was built as a union church, mostly used by the General Baptist. Sunday School was held each Sunday with church about once a month. Association meetings or camp meetings were held here where families came together bringing their own tents, bedding and food-camping, preaching and enjoying the fellowship. This group practiced "Foot Washing" (Page 484 Top) showing humility as Christ washed the feet of his disciples.
Among those who were early worshippers were the families of Noes, Crit, Tom and a Doctor Noe, the Bob and Gid and Ambrose Estes families, the Al Beavers and Welches, the Sanders, the Briggs, the Pilgrims, the Eugene Johnsons and the Walter Moores. One of the youngest converts was Marion Briggs who became an ordained Baptist minister and was an active worker. He, doubtless, would have become a leading preacher had he not died while yet a young man.
The Assembly of God church came to Marion County in the early 1920's. The first church was established in Yellville spreading into other parts of the county. There are churches in Yellville, Flippin, Pyatt and Summit. Histories of the Flippin and Summit churches are in this History of Marion County churches.
The Assembly of God Church in Flippin was brought into being through a series of meetings held in brush arbors, in prayer meetings from house to house. About 1922, lots were purchased from H. F. and E. B. Wood on which to construct a building.
The first church was set in order and dedicated in 1925. G. B. Estes and P. W. Huddleston were the first deacons. Charles Peppers was the first pastor. Some charter members were: Mr. and Mrs. G. E, Estes, Mrs. and Mrs. P. W. Huddleston, Mr. and Mrs. Ancil Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hurst, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hutchinson,. Mr. and Mrs. Joe Hall, Aunt Mattie Mason, Granny Burns, and Mr. and Mrs. Rex Wood. Carrie Goff of Springfield had a great hand in organizing this church.
The first building (a cobblestone building) was torn down in the 1940's and the present building was erected. Hugh A. May was pastor. In 1966-67 Robert Gouge was pastor and the educational facilities, pastor's study, restrooms and kitchen were added. At the present time Charles F. Davis is the pastor and a new parsonage is in the planning.
Former pastors were: Billy Bolderjack, Vent Bolin, J. D. Chambers, Jewell Chancy, E. C. Ellis, M. Ray Frost, Jewell R. Freeman, James Hosier, Rev. Johnson, Jaccheus Lawness, Sister Lelah McKenney, Gordon Reed, Everett Roach, J. B. Rowsey, Sister Dollie Simnis, Sister Annie Skelton, Ralph Slapes, Mrs. Ralph Slapes after her husband's death, Otho Smith, Leroy Thompson, Oris Vincent, J. B. Westbrook and Jimmy Wiseheart.
(The rest of this chapter spans 31 pages - too much to fit onto one page. You may move directly to the history of a church by clicking on the link below or use the arrows (at the bottom) to move through the church histories in order. Clinking on a link below will open the history in a new window/tab. Linda)
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Linda Haas Davenport