First Baptist Church, Silverhill, Alabama - History Page 2

1899 - 1949


         On April 27, 1903, Mr. Joseph Johnson was put in charge of building the sanctuary. His salary was $1.75 per day. The lumber was purchased from Oscar Johnson, who owned a sawmill. Most of the labor was donated. The church, built of long leaf pine, was 34 feet wide and 54 feet long, with a seating capacity of 225. There were two class rooms. Total cost when completed was $911.63.

         Mr. C. J. Johnson was elected to solicit funds to help pay for the new building. He brought back money, paint, or whatever the good people were willing to contribute. There was a balance of approximately $100 due when the church was completed.

Pictured is the Baptist Church about 1905.
Click to enlarge.

         Rev. Charles Palm, a representative of the Swedish General Conference, came from Chicago to dedicate the new church in December 1903. As the General Conference treasury was low on funds, he traveled at his own expense. The dedication service was held on December 6, 1903, with dinner and supper on the grounds. There were several speakers, musical numbers by choir, quartets and soloists, shorts talks from members and friends from the Misson Church who had dispensed with their services for the day to join with us. The Mission pastor, Rev. Jacobson, also had a part on the program. The Lord's supper was commemorated, at which time four new members were welcomed into the Church.

         Rev. Palm remained another week for special meetings every night except Monday - that was the day they went fishing - and on Saturday the meeting was held in the afternoon. The second Sunday in December, Rev. Palm's last day here, a large group of young people gathered and formed a young people's organization. The Spirit was present at all of the meetings, and Rev. Palm prayed to God to continue to bless the people in Silverill so that much could be accomplished. Rev. Palm was instrumental in encouraging many good families to move to Silverhill. The following new members were received: Mr. and Mrs. Charles Pernstrom, Mr. and Mrs. C. P. Nelson, Miss Olga Nelson, David Nelson, from Chicago, Mrs. Johanna Israelson and Mrs. Regina Johnson from Denver, Colorado; Mrs. Louisa Rickman, Miss Ellen Rickman, and Miss Lisa Rickman from Englewood, Illinois.

         As the Church had no regular pastor during the first months of 1904, Mr. C. J. Erickson, who moved to Silverhill from Evanston, Illinois, was asked to conduct the services, assisted by Pastor Seaholm, who was here for health reasons.

         By this time many families had moved to Silverhill: The Chiladys, Gustauf Peterson, N. P. Lindens, John Gustafsons, August Olsons, N. P. (Iowa) Pearson, Lyrenes, Charles Normans, Peter Johnsons, Agnetta Lind.

         Rev. Karl Arry arrived on November 1, 1904, to serve as Pastor. He served faithfully until his departure the latter part of 1905. Mr. August Olson was then elected Chairman of the Church.

         The Olson family had recently moved to Silverhill, August Olson -- better known as "Plaster Olson" -- was a brick mason. In the absence of a pastor he would bring the message on Sunday mornings. This writer remembers when he forgot the twelve o'clock hour and just kept on preaching. There were several laymen in the Church who could supply in the absence of the Pastor. Mr. Olson was the father of our own Bill and Oscar Olson and Mrs. Ruth Pearson.

         In 1905 a pump organ was purchased by the Church and Alva Gustafson was elected organist. A special dedication service was held for the occasion with Mr. Chilady in charge. Mr. Chilady was an inspiration to the community, writing a poem for every special occasion. David Nelson, who was working in Mobile at the time, came home to take part in the dedication. Alva Gustafson Pearson (mother of our Dorothy Kanne) was the oldest of the Gustafson children, who have contributed to the music program in our Church. Her brother Walter, played the violin, and Helen, Alice and Violet have been faithful at the piano and organ.

         Rev. Frank J. Liljegren was called as Pastor in 1906. He served until September 1909 during which time much progress was made. On October 1, 1906, Mr. N. P. Linden was elected Treasurer of the Church. (He served approximatedly twenty-five years as Treasurer.) Mr. J. A. Edfelt was Secretary and Mr. Chilady Sunday School Superintendent.

         A hurricane in September 1906 cause some people to pull up stakes and leave Silverhill.

         It was in 1907 that the Church voted to build a parsonage. N. P. Linden was elected to have charge of the construction, and Pastor Liljegren solicited funds.

Pictured is the Baptist Church and
the parsonage about 1915.
Click to enlarge.

         John Gustafson was elected Sunday School Superintendent in 1908. Paster Hjertstrom held two weeks of special meetings during 1909. The Beckmans moved to Silverhill from Omaha, Nebraska, in 1909.

         Following is a brief summary of the years from 1899 to 1909:

  • Pastors during this time:
    • Rev. A. P. Sword,
    • Rev. Karl Arry
    • Rev. Frank J. Liljegren

  • Church Chairmen:
    • J. A. Edfelt
    • August Nelson
    • C. A. Johnson
    • August Olson

  • Church Secretaries:
    • Carl Ostrom
    • Mrs. A. S. Sten
    • J. A. Edfelt

  • Church Treasurers:
    • C. J. Olander
    • N. P. Linden

  • Sunday School Superintendents:
    • J. A. Edfelt
    • A. Chilady
    • John Gustafson

  • Total contributions for 10 years:
    • $5,626.04
    • Property valued at $3,000.00

  • Membership:
    • 75 enrolled
    • 4 deaths
    • 36 left by letter or for other reasons
    • 35 active members remaining

The Early Days, continued...

Published November 17, 1974 to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the church.
The first 50 years translated and written by Robert "Bob" Linden