Shiloh Baptist Church History

Shiloh Baptist Church

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Charter Members
Pastors, Deacons and Clerks
R. E. "Dickie" Fortson
Founding Member
1954 Vacation Bible School Class Photo

Church History

The year was 1869. Ulysses S. Grant was President. The War between the States had ended just four years before and reconstruction of the South had begun. Hope was beginning to take root in the hearts of the people and life was beginning to return to some semblance of normality.

Rural life was hard in Madison County. Travel was difficult. The only roads were dirt and they were full of ruts in dry weather and in wet weather they turned into mud holes. The only mode of travel was by horseback or by buggies and wagons pulled by horses or oxen. The Bond Community desperately needed a church that was easy to travel to. The nearest Baptist Church was Providence and that was around ten miles away.

"0n July 15, 1869, after preaching by the Rev. J. M. Power, the body met at the Stand near the Madison Springs, Madison County. Called for delegates to request the Eldership to constitute this church. To Mill Shoal Church, Brother S. F. Beard; Rehobath Church, Brother R. E. Fortson; Zidon, Brother S.F. Beard and W.H. Queen".  This is the first entry in the Clerks Book of Minutes.

The Stand referred to was more than likely the store on Hwy. 29 that housed the Madison Springs Post Office. Most country stores were known as stands. This building is still visible from the road in the winter but is virtually falling down. It is located about a mile north of Zeb's Bar-B-Q on the right just before you get to the old Wildcat Bridge Road.

The second entry is one month later on Saturday, August 13, 1869. The body met again at the Stand "for the purpose of constitution a church." The Rev. J.M. Power preached and J.R. Stovall was appointed to the chair as moderator. The Presbytery consisted of the following names: Providence, J.R. Stovall and Z.D. Stephens; Zidon, E.H. Crow; Mill Shoal, R.E. Fortson and F.A. Fortson. The body called for their letters for constitution. The charter members numbered 140. There were 61 white men, 75 white females, two colored men and two colored women. Thus the new church was born. It was called "The Baptist Church of Christ at Shiloh." The name has never been changed, only shortened to "Shiloh." Their first official act was to join the Sareptha Association as a Missionary Baptist Church. November 15, 1870 they elected J.M. Power as their pastor.

They had a church, but they had no building to worship in. One of the members, J.E. Bond donated the land for the church as long as it remained a Baptist church. This land was up the road about two miles at the present day Bond Academy School House. The church was built on the hill between the school and Earl Sartain's house.

The original church burned in 1889. There is no record of how or why the church burned. For the first twenty years the building served as a school for the local children and when it burned Bond A cademy was built and the old timers say they went to Sunday School at Shiloh in the Bond Academy building after the new church moved to "Coonrod."

Many of the first members were buried in the grave yard in front of the early church. Some of the stones were still standing as late as the 1950's or early 1960's. They were broken by school children and later disappeared. There is no record of who was buried there.

Shiloh was a sister church of Providence, Zidon and Mill Shoal. This means the church had the permission and blessing of the other churches to form and they gave up some of their members to build up this church. The other churches realized the need of a church in the Bond community and did everything possible to help this new church get started. Shiloh elected a delegate, or "correspondent" as they called them, to go to each church to seek out information and instruction. The churches only met once a month and each met on a different Sunday so that members and correspondents could visit the sister churches. Many times the same pastors would serve all or at least some of the sister churches.

Between 1812 and 1850 the Baptists had split into two groups; the Primitive and the Missionary. In 1850 there were only five Baptist churches in Madison County. When Shiloh formed in 1869, she was the eleventh Baptist Church in the county. In 1883 Shiloh joined the Hebron Association.

Prior to the Civil War blacks and whites worshipped in the same churches. After the war the colored members were not forced out but permitted to go if they wished. Since they were not listed in the roll book with the whites, it is possible their roll book was lost. Shiloh had at least four black members. The blacks were, May McWhorter, Isaiah and Hagar Stovall and Jerry Stovall. The Stovall family called for their letter in 1873. Mrs. McWhorter called for hers in 1889, twenty our years after the war ended.

Thomas Peter Bruce donated the land where the present church stands. Wood was cut from existing timber to help build the church. it was just a one room frame building with supporting pillars running down the middle isle. An outside toilet was on the east side. A well was dug in 1905. It was on the west side of the church and is now covered by Hwy. 174. The church had a potbellied wood stove for heat, oil lamps for light, open windows and hand held fans for air. There were deacon benches on the right of the pulpit facing the preacher. It was called the "Amen Corner."

When you read the early minutes of the church you get the feeling you are reading the proceeding of a civil court. The Eldership of the church took very seriously the church covenant and by-laws. I'm sure they were earnest in their endeavors of dealing with what they considered "in" in the church, but as you dig deeper into the church history you find family feuding with family.  Being a small community it seems that most of the members were related by blood or marriage and, as in all families, you will find friction.

The church rules were read quarterly so that they would stay fresh on the members minds. May 12, 1871, the first member was excluded from the church. A brother Murry was found guilty of "taking that which did not belong to him." A brother Cheek brought a charge against himself for using profane language.

For the next seventy-nine years the charges and exclusions continued. The charges were as follows: contempt, falsehood, profane language, using too much spirits, drunkenness, adultery, fornication, heresy (Joining a church of another faith), dancing, nonattendance, railing (fighting), cursing, gambling, and un-Christian conduct (not paying a debt). The charges of adultery were the result of a second marriage. This type of court ended by 1950.

In the early years of the church money as an exchange was rare. Most of the people were farmers and each family was self-sustaining. They raised and preserved their food and grew grain and corn for their bread and cotton for a cash crop. They also raised livestock including sheep. Their clothing was made from homespun and hand woven wool. Most transactions were by barter. Butter, eggs, milk and chickens were exchanged for needed goods.

Chappel Tyner had a store where the Fire Department stands now. He sold the necessary supplies that could not be grown such as cloth, thread, sugar, salt, stove pipes, lamps, matches, nails and coffee. When you realize how little actual cash money was available, you can better understand the ledger of accounts kept by the Church Clerk that reflected each members donation toward the pastors salary and church up keep. All members were listed in the ledger and it was totaled yearly. For the year 1907 with a membership of 108 people the grand total collected for the year was $95.93. The amounts given ranged from $0.25 to $5.00 with the average being $0.50. Four men paid nothing that year. Failure to support the church resulted in charges being brought and in some cases they were excluded from the church. A letter would not be granted until the member paid the church the arrears he owed.

The preachers of that early era were truly "servants of the Lord." They certainly weren't in it for the money. In 1889 the Rev. A.J. Cobb only received $18.90 for the entire year, but you have to keep in mind he was paid in many different ways by the members, as were all the preachers. Conference was held on Saturday night with preaching and regular services on Sunday. The preacher stayed as a guest with one of the members on Saturday night and had Sunday dinner with another member. He was usually laden down with jelly, fresh or canned fruits and vegetables or a chicken or two for his journey home.

The first "Sabbath School" was in 1883 with thirty members. By 1913 the membership had increased to eighty. The membership of the church increased also with the year 1918 being the peak year with a membership of 165. The August Revivals or "Protracted Meetings" brought in a lot of new members each year. August of 1913 brought in a record number. Twenty new people joined at that revival.

As money was always a problem, the Sunday School and the Church came up with various ways to raise money. In 1918 the Church brought an acre of land behind the church to grow cotton. In the spring the membership would plant and work the cotton and in October they would harvest and sell it. The profit would be divided between the pastors salary and the church. This practice lasted until 1949. It was called "God's Little Acre."

In 1919 and 1924 the Church had box suppers to raise money to put shingles on the church. In 1931 brother Scarbrough stated he had raised enough money to buy tools to dig graves and to buy two locks. in 1939 they had a cake walk at Norcross School and raised $17.52. The biggest project they had was a Christmas play written and directed by Bessie Tyner. It was given year after year and the proceeds went for repair of the church. One of our Deacons, Dwight Fortson, says his first memory of Shiloh was Miss Bessie's play. As he remembers, Henry Dove, Garland Fortson and Jewel Christian Rolling were some of the characters. From the minutes of 1934 we find that The Royson Record donated 250 programs. The expenses of the play were: stage, $5.55; wig, $0.75; electric lights, $0.30; pins, tacks, powder, kerosene, $0.30. The profit was $58.00. Electric lights? The church wasn't wired for electricity until 1939. As it turns out Mr. Garnet Tyner, who lived across from the church had a generator and he supplied the power for the lights. The play was also given at the Sandy Cross School. Dwight also says he remembers when wagons would be parked all the way to Marvin Fortson's house. They were tied to trees and other wagons.

In 1914 the church voted not to allow people to hitch to the trees in front of the church. The next year they "took action" against public vehicles parking on the church yard.

In 1904 the Eldership of the Church were invited to meet at Velpo to organize a new Missionary Baptist Church. Velpo School was originally near Stovall's Crossing. This church was Friendship and her first pastor was the Rev. Ransom King. He was also the pastor from 1892 to 1893 at Shiloh.

Few people were schooled beyond learning to read and write in those early years. This explains the difficulty in reading the church minutes. I'd like to offer these few examples. "Cesque (secure) a well for the church, case of a Dulres (adultery), case of dubul magreg (double marriage), call the roll for Absent Eves (absentees), take a collection for him (hymn) books." They tried to spell a word the way it sounded but the problem was that most of them spoke with a Irish brogue much like the people of the Appalachian Mountains.

Baptizing of members was done down on the old Fort Lamar Road about one fourth mile from the church on the left. The pool was fed by a creek. When there wasn't enough water in the pool other sites were used. Dwight Fortson said he was baptized at Hardy's Wash Hole up Hwy. 174 toward Ila in 1942 by Rev. A.D. Coile. Others were baptized at the rock quarry and at other churches. This continued until 1964 when the Church installed its own Baptistery. Some of our present members who were baptized at the pool on Fort Lamar Road include: Faye Adams Nash, Ellis Nash, Ruth Collins, and Betty Carey.

The church building has been through many changes and repairs. The church body voted times to build a new church, but after much investigation they decided to repair it instead. Timber from the church yard was used several times for repair and flooring of the building.

In 1951 new Sunday School rooms were built. Prior to that classes met in the sanctuary and curtains to separate the classes. The church installed gas heat in 1957 and in 1962 they installed the Baptistery, new pews, pulpit furniture, a new front door and roofed the church again. pews were donated by individuals or families that bear their name. By 1966 new windows put in, four more class rooms were added as were two restrooms. In 1969 the church was bricked and the churchyard was paved. Heat and air were installed in 1973 and in 1976 the posts in the center isle were removed. We built a fellowship hall in 1985 and in 1988 a steeple was placed on the church and stained glass windows were installed.

The first organ was purchased in 1905. It was a pump organ and cost $26.45 plus $5.00 In 1940 the organ was sold and a new piano was purchased. Otis Graham is the proud owner of our old organ. Our present piano was purchased in 1974. Ruth Collins bought the old piano and then loaned it to the church for use in the fellowship hall. Our present organ was purchased in 1977.

There have been at least two splits in the church. The first group left in 1962 and formed Community Baptist Church. The second split was in 1982 and formed the Trinity Baptist Church. Many issues have arisen through the years that have hurt the church but none so sensitive or devastating as that of our church doctrine. A few of Shiloh's past pastors have tried to bring in new doctrine that caused much division. Our church has struggled through much adversity and overcome each problem by God's Grace and His continued leadership.

It behooves the deacon board as well as each member to protect the sanctity of our pulpit doctrine other than Baptist.

To Raymond Tyner, because of his love, devotion, and dedication to his God and to all and for his ability to lead a church in crisis through its darkest hour, I dedicate this history.

Respectfully submitted,
     Charlotte Collins Bond


  Shiloh Baptist Church History written and submitted by Charlotte Collins Bond

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