FROM A SOMERVILLE, TENNESSEE, NEWSPAPER - 1940¹
Historic Church To Be
Remodeled By Money
Left By Whiteville Man
WHITEVILLE, Tenn. - When S. Walter Edwards, vice-president and director of the Whiteville Savings Bank died, in 1937, he bequeathed $7500 for remodeling and maintenance of a small country church which he attended as a child.
This was the Presbyterian Church of Dancyville, Tenn., ten miles north of here, and work which began this week, changes a landmark of Haywood County since 1853.
Eighty-seven years ago immigrants who had settled this section felt the need for a place of worship and ten of these made petition to the Presbytery at Memphis for the organization of this church. Construction of the building was begun early the next year.
Families promiently identified with the culture and progress of West Tennessee were among the founders and those whose contributions made possible the new church. And there are today a widely scattered host of their descendants who retain memories of this quaint country church and the services they attended there.
Signers of the petition of organization were: John Clinton, Agnes Clinton, David C. Russell, Martha L. Walker, Mary E. Walker, Jane R. Walker, S.R. Carney, Mary L. Thompson, Ann Spurlock and Martha Miller.
The Rev. R.E. Sherrill was called as pastor and John Clinton, recently come from Gatehouse, Scotland, and a grandfather of Mrs. C. L. Hunt of Whiteville, served as the first clerk of the session. The ten petition signers comprised the entire orginal membership, but records show that contributions were received from many interested in this church, and the list includes: Richard Halliburton, C.P. Talliferro, Alvin Ragland, T.B. King, A. Mann, John Currie, Isaac Dancy, A.I. Lownsberry, T.C. Coppedge, Felix McFarland, Solomon Payne, Duncan Calhoun, Samuel D. Bond, Joseph Peete, N. Adams and R.A. Shaw.
Between this time and the outbreak of the Civil War, a large party emigrated to and near Dancyville from Alamance County, North Carolina, and many of these were of Presbyterian faith. It is quite probable that the existence of the Dancyville church influenced these people who were to play such important parts in later history of Fayette and Haywood Counties, to settle there. Records reveal that a considerable number became members and added to the church roster such names as: Mebane, Crawford, Gilliam, Hunter, Bryson, Currie, Mathis, Hart, Campbell, Johnston, Albright, Edwards, Phillips, Middlebrooks, Freeland, Forrest, Dixon, Smith and Pickard.
The Rev. T.P. Yandell was pastor of the church during the war and financial statements of that period reflect the visissitudes of those trying times and the dark days of Reconstruction which followed.
James Monroe Crawford, 85, present clerk of the session, became affilitated with the church in 1882 and was elevated to the clerkship in 1919.
The Rev. J.W. Bryson of Brownsville is supply pastor, J. Shelby Dixon of Dancyville and Dr. Charles Freeland of Whiteville are the present deacons, with Mr. Crawford and Mr. Robert Dixon, both of Dancyville, and Dr. R.S. Russell of Whiteville as elders, the latter of which is a direct decendant of one of the founders of the church.
In remodeling, the perfectly preserved orginal building is to be left intact, with brick veneer on the outside and modern paneling for the interior walls. Plans also call for stained glass windows, a columned porch and new interior decorations throughout.
Mr. Edwards, whose bequest made these changes possible, was christened in this church in 1868 and became a communicant there in 1882.
¹This item was published in a Somerville, Fayette County Tennessee newspaper. The paper name was not included on the article used for the transcription. The only newspaper at the time would have been the Fayette Falcon. The date - 1940 - was determined by the age of James Monroe Crawford, mentioned in the piece. ed
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