Beulah Baptist Church

150th Anniversary Program

Submitted by Jim Taylor, July 2005

 

The following is text taken from the program for the 150th anniversary of Beulah Baptist Church in Greene County, Alabama, and is presented here with the approval of Gail Leavelle and Jane Sellers, two of the authors.


[cover]

BEULAH BAPTIST CHURCH

1833 – 1983

[Photo]

One Hundred and Fifty Years of Serving the Lord


[page 1]


REFERENCE PAGE


Theses found in the files at the University of Alabama


Beulah Church record, which has minutes since the organization of the Church beginning in 1833 to present time 1975.


Paper written by the Honorable M. E. Curry, Pickens County, Carrollton, Alabama for the 100th Anniversary of the early Union and later Pickens Association.


Deed dates recorded in Probate Office, Greene County, Eutaw, Alabama.


This paper compiled by


[Mrs. M. P.] Jamie R. Smith

Greene County

Rt. 1

Knoxville, Alabama 35469

September, 1975

Up-dated to 1983 by Gail Leavelle, Jane Sellers and Sara Sudduth.


[Pages 2 - 7]



HISTORY OF BEULAH BAPTIST CHURCH


After the Revolutionary War, people began to move West. Those settlers from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia moved into the Southwest. The defeat of the Indians and the consequent land cessions excelled the migration. The invention of the cotton gin and the development of a high land variety of cotton sent thousands of people in this area seeking new cotton lands. The Union was growing and as people moved into the Southwest they moved and brought their beliefs, ideals, religions, and morals with them. In the States on the Seaboard South, the Episcopal Church was the established Church.


During the early years there were several nation-wide revivals of religion, one of which is known as the “great awakening”. These revivals were emotional in their appeal bringing religion to the great masses of people on the levels they understood. The Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians grew in great numbers, churches were organized and set in order almost as soon as the houses were built and the land cleared.


The settlers were usually very religious, such a group were those who left Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to settle in Pickens County, Alabama in an area known officially as Snoddy, but later called the Beulah Community.


Snoddy was a station for the exchange of horses on one of the old state lines. During the 1840’s this section was added to Greene County to become a Northeast corner and was included in the Union Voting District. It was an area of small farms and small slave holders. The land [was] red clay with pine and other timber in abundance. The farms while small were productive. The slaves did not outnumber the white population. The size of farms and the number of slaves were increasing until 1860. A Christian group of people in this community felt the need of a church so on February 23, 1833, a Presbytery consisting of the Reverend Robert Marsh, the Reverend Silas Dobbs and the Reverend William B. Stansel, examined and found orthodox the following: which they constituted into a regular Baptist Church of Christ: Ralph Tandy, Matilda Tandy, Albert M. Tandy, Luke Thornton, Sarah Thornton, Matthew P. Smith, John Leopard, T. J. Drummond, David Brooks, Elizabeth Brooks and Mary Leatherwood.


After constitutioning of the Church, Reverend Marsh was elected Moderator, Ralph Tandy and Matthew P. Smith having already been ordained, were chosen Deacons. The name Beulah was selected.


The first sermon was preached on April 27, 1833 by a Mr. Taylor. The text from Luke 19:6-10, “And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully”. During the business meeting, “Articles of Faith” and “Rules of Decorum” were drawn up as governing principles for the Church. Articles of Faith are Baptist Beliefs with Calvinistic teaching. Strict rules of discipline were followed and the Ordinance of the Lord’s Supper observed twice a year.


All members were required to attend regular Supper twice a year and were required to attend regular preaching services, or show why. Baptists were the most numerous denomination in Alabama from early days. The Baptist Churches were independent democratic units.


Beulah joined the Union Association at Bethany Church, Vienna, September 1835. Later in 1924, the name Union was changed to Pickens Association.


Richard Wilkins and Matthew P. Smith were prominent ministers who were instrumental in forming the Union Association from the Buttehatchee Association, October 10, 1834.
In the year 1860 Beulah ranked sixth in membership, and seventh in size of contribution for the associational purposes—Indian Missions, Foreign Missions and Missions in America.


The matter of Sunday Schools engaged the attention of the Association as early as 1842 and in 1868 there appears to have been quite a number.


Our forefathers and mothers did not neglect the spiritual welfare of their slaves. They attended church with their masters and mistresses, but did not sit together; a separate place in the Church was provided for the Negroes. After the War between the States and the Negroes were set free in 1865, the Association had 800 Negro members. These members were encouraged and assisted in organizing churches of their own. A noted Negro preacher of early days was Job, owned by Mr. E. Davis and a member of the Pilgrim Rest Church. Job was a true Christian and was respected by all who knew him.
The colored members of the Beulah Church were given letters of dismission on Saturday, before the first Lord’s Day 1873, and assisted in organizing a church of their own three miles west of Beulah. It was given the name of ‘Hopewell’. The Church is still active.


The first Beulah Church land was purchased from Luke Thornton and was deeded in October 1859 to the deacons and their successors. Deacons at that time were Luke Thornton, Acquilla Hardy and W. J. Hamilton. In 1960 the Church acquired the adjoining Beulah School land, thus, enhancing the church property.


The Trustees accepting the new deed and map were Deacon M. Pickett Smith, Deacon E. Thornton Chambers, and Layman Herman Drummond.



 


Youngsters posed for this photograph taken
in 1890 in front of Beulah Baptist Church
which then served the dual purpose of
community school house.



The surveyor was Jimmy C. Jones, Jr. of Eutaw, Greene County, Alabama. We have had four buildings near the same spot since the Church was organized. The first one (meeting house) an ordinary log house of cheap construction, the second one was a frame structure of greater cost. There is no record of the cost or date when either of these was built. The third was a frame building erected in 1860 at a cost of $1,435.00 and burned some ten years later. Our present house the fourth was erected in 1872 at a cost of $1,282.00 besides a lot of labor donated by members. It was in 1948 that the Sunday School rooms were finished at a cost of $1,031.70 with member and friends doing the work. Since 1948 many improvements have been added to the church, cemetery and parking area. They are as following: addition of restrooms and nursery in 1973 at a cost of $3,500.00, installed new carpet and pews in September of 1976 at a cost of $6,600.00, asphalt church grounds in May of 1981 at a cost of $11,800.00, enlargement of church cemetery, clearing the area and addition of chain linked fence which cost $1,940.00.


On January 27, 1859, James W. Burnett and his wife Linnie M., conveyed land to Nehemiah Cobb, Luke Thornton, and John K. Turner, as Trustees of the Beulah Academy.


The original one room building was set on huge rocks, hand made desks and benches for the children to set on were used. Water was carried in a bucket from the Church Spring. The building burned March 15, 1932. A smaller room was built on the same site. In the 1940’s it ceased to be a school. The children are carried by bus to Eutaw.


The “school house” was remodeled in May of 1977 with the additions of bathrooms and in 1983 it was air-conditioned which cost $1,680.000.



[Photo]
School House – 1983



The Club House was built in 1934 from logs donated by members of the community. This was one of the many community building built through out Alabama from the C. W. A. program of President Roosevelt to provide work. Jess Drummond was the contractor for all the volunteer workers. The government supplied the cement while parties were held such as box suppers and ice cream suppers to raise money for the other building materials needed. Many community activities were held in this building such as Home Demonstration Club meetings, church socials, church youth parties and it was also used as a lunch room for the Beulah Academy.



[Photo]
Club House – 1983



Our Historical Marker was dedicated at the Sunday Morning Service of October 21, 1973. This marker was donated by Mrs. M. P. [Jamie] Smith, Mrs. E. Thornton [Mary Lou] Chambers, and Mrs. T. Harper [Vivian] Chambers in memory of their husbands who served for many years as deacons of Beulah Baptist Church.



[Photo]
Historical Marker – 1983



[Pages 8 - 9]

The following have served the church since its organization:

Rev. Robert Marsh 1833 - 1835
Rev. Matthew Pickett Smith 1836 - 1841
Rev. J. A. Hodges 1842
Rev. Matthew Pickett Smith 1843 - 1881
Rev. John E. White 1882 - 1885
Rev. M. M. Wood 1886 - 1888
Rev. C. G. Elliott 1889
Rev. John G. Apsey 1890 - 1892
Rev. John E. White 1892 - 1895
Rev. Jefferson D Cook 1896 - 1899
Rev. Jacob L. Ray 1900
Rev. John H. Curry 1901
Rev. Jacob L. Ray 1901
Rev. J. W. Dickinson 1902 - 1905
Rev. Jacob L. Ray 1905
Rev. L. S. Foster 1906
Rev. Alonzo R. Loftin 1907 - 1911
Rev. J. A. Dickinson 1912
Rev. Avery T. Camp 1913
Rev. W. B. Earnest 1914
Rev. Jefferson D. Cook 1915 - 1919
Rev. H. G. Johnson 1920 - 1930
Rev. J. L. Watson 1931 - 1935
Rev. E. B. Farrar 1935 - 1938
Dr. J. L. Watson 1938 - 1944
Rev. H. G. Williams 1944 - 1954
Rev. John B. Lane 1954 - 1957
Rev. Jimmy Walker 1957 - 1959
Rev. David Dyer 1959
Rev. Bennie C. Hayes 1960 - 1966
Rev. David Dyer 1966 - 1968
Rev. Robert D. Mayton 1968 - 1972
Rev. Dwight Geist 1972 - 1975
Rev. John W. Skinner 1975
Rev. Jack Clary 1975 - 1980
Rev. Jerry Hawthorne 1980 –
and as Assistant Pastors:
Rev. Mac Martin 1982 –


Of the above ministers Rev. Matthew P. Smith served the church the longest. by faith in Christ, he was baptized by Bro. Pace and was ordained a deacon. In 1835 he was ordained to the full work of the Gospel. He was pastor of Beulah Church 43 years. Through the great tragedy of the War Between the States and during the dark days of Reconstruction the church was held together by his untiring efforts. He served other churches and baptized many converts. He never ceased to work for the Master and went to his rich reward on January 7, 1883, near the church he loved so well.


[Photo]
Rev. Matthew P. Smith



[Page 10]

Beulah has served as a first pastorate for many of our former Ministers. We were especially fortunate to have Jimmy and Charlotte Walker on our church field for two short years before leaving Beulah to prepare to serve on the Foreign Mission Field. At present [1983] Jimmy Walker and his family are still serving as Foreign Missionaries in Africa.



[Photo]
The Walker’s
Charlotte, Cherri, Cindy, Carol, Colleen, Jimmy



[Page 11]

Ordained deacons serving the church since the organization, to the present time are:


Ralph Tandy 1833
Matthew P. Smith 1833
T. J. Drummond 1836
Cecil Brewton 1836
P. M Brewton 1837
Ben H. Lamb 1838
Luke Thornton 1841
William Hamilton 1841
Acquilla Hardy 1844
W. J. Hamilton 1850
Nehemia Cobb 1854
Elijah Sellers 1854
T. J. Nix 1869
G. W. Edwards 1869
E. W. Henderson 1877
[by letter]
N. B. Durrett 1877
[by letter]
R. C. Chambers 1888
H. G. Thornton 1891
[by letter]
S. S. Thornton 1907
J. E. Henderson 1907
H. C. Chambers 1907
W. B. Durrett 1907
J. Matt Taylor 1911
Harper S. Ellis 1911
J. C. Roebuck 1931
M. Pickett Smith 1931
J. W. Rhodes 1931
T. Harper Chambers 1831
J. J. Roebuck 1945
E. Thornton Chambers 1945
Havord Drummond 1945
Edward W. Taylor 1945
Judd Burroughs 1964
Hargrove Drummond 1964
Herman Drummond 1964
Morgan Sellers 1971
Charles Spencer 1971
Alvis Storey 1971
William Lee Drummond 1976
Milburn Lamb 1976
Robert Eugene Pearce 1981





The following members have served as church clerks:
Rev. Matthew P. Smith 1833 – 1836
Cecil Brewton 1836 – 1842
Edward Willis 1843 – 1844
James M. Chambers 1845 – 1847
E. H. Lamb 1847 – 1889
W. B. Smith 1889 – 1892
E. W. Henderson 1893 – 1899
W. B. Durrett 1899 – 1930
J. Curry Williams 1931
Mrs. M. P. [Jamie R.] Smith 1931 - 1969
Mrs. Charles [Melba] Spencer 1969 -

[Page 12]

The first Sunday School was organized in 1877 with T. J. Nix as Superintendent. The next Superintendent was S. S. Thornton who served faithfully for thirty years. He was succeeded by W. B. Durrett who served eleven years. Charlie Henderson served in this capacity for six years and was succeeded by T. Harper Chambers 1931 – 1964. Alva Richardson was the next superintendent, with William Lee Drummond following and William Ray Drummond serving as our Sunday School Superintendent for the past two years.


We have so great a heritage and are thankful to the early settlers; our forefathers and mothers who came to Alabama. They planned and built well in Snoddy and Beulah Community. From the early descendants we have Christian leaders in all walks of life in various places in the world.



[Photo]
OUR PRESENT PASTORS – 1983
Jerry Hawthorne Asst. Mac Martin
1980 - 1982 –
 


[Pages 13 – 15]



AVAILABLE PICTURES OF PAST PASTORS

[Photo] J. L. Watson 1934 – 1935 1938 – 1944
[Photo] Dr. H. G. Williams 1944 – 1954
[Photo] John B. Lane 1954 – 1957
[Photo] Jimmy Walker 1957 – 1959
[Photo] David Dyer 1959 1966 – 1968
[Photo] Benny C. Haynes 1960 – 1966
[Photo] Robert D. Mayton 1968 – 1972
[Photo] Dwight Geist 1972 – 1975
[Photo] John W. Skinner 1975
[Photo] Jack Cleary 1975 – 1980


[Pages 16 – 28]

[Photo]

The following is a list of the known buried in Beulah Cemetery according to the markers:

Note: this list is not included in this section, but will soon be available in the cemetery section of this website.