Parker's Chapel Story

The Parker's Chapel Story

Submitted by Gwen Smith
Great Granddaughter of Mr. & Mrs. Sam Groves - Early Settlers
Vanesse P. Smith
Great Great Great Granddaughter of Sam & Lucy Groves - Early Settlers

The settlement had it's beginning with Sam and Lucy Coakley, who were ex-slaves, and their children from Robertson County. Years later they purchased land that was selling for fifty (.50) cents per acre. Jack Perdue and his family came from Virginia. Others to come in were Berry and Martha Smith from Smith County, TN. The Dye's, Hobdy's, Gibbs" and Groves' from parts unknown as of this writing.

As land was purchased and cleared, the settlers began church meetings in differents homes. The idea came about to build a church, therefore, more trees had to be cut and logs hewed out. From these logs the first church was built on the property (owned by Taylor) where the present church stands today. The Reverend Jim Parker was the first Pastor and the Church was named for him - Parker's Chapel Baptist Church. In later years, the name of the community was changed from "Old Taylor's Field" or "Old Field" to Parker's Chapel Community. Logs of the first church were still in the house owned by the late Roscoe and Carrie Smith until fire destroyed the home in 1968. Carrie was the granddaughter of Sam and Lucy Coakley, the first settlers in the community.

As the community grew, so did the church population and the need for a new structure.

The next building, a white frame that included the sanctuary only. A pot bellied stove, pews, and a piano were the only furnishings. Kerosene lights were used for night services and other activities.

In 1906, the church hosted the first session of the East Fork Association of Churches. J.Cornelius Coakley (grandson of the first settlers) attended these meetings and was one of the first deacons of Parker's Chapel Baptist Church. Others on the first Deacon's Board were John Gibbs, Abigail Denning, Prince Groves, Frank Dye and Lal Coakley.

The third church building was of asbestos siding and was built in 1957. It also included Sunday School rooms. Later the Church was bricked (1970 and remodeled to include a Baptistery (1977) and a Pastor's Study.

Drakes Creek, (off hwy. 52 East) served as the baptismal for many years. Remodeling continued through the years with the latest completion in July, 1995.

Some of the Pastors of Partker's Chapel Baptist Church in addition to Rev. Parker include: Rev. Douglas, Rev. Shawbrooks, Rev. J.C. Jones, Rev. Daniel Bender, Rev. G.L. Gilchrist, Rev. J.K. Alexander, Rev. Dwight Ogleton, Rev. Nathaniel Woods, Rev. James Harris, Rev. David Randolph and the present Pastor, Rev. C.L. Haynie.

The first homecoming celebration was held by accident on the second Sunday in July, 1884. Later it became known as the Rally or Homecoming Day. Family and friends from the area and out of town looked forward to coming home the second week in July. The events started with a picnic and ball game on Saturday before the Rally on the School House Grounds. For more than twenty-five years, the Indianapolis High Grade Singers (Mr. Charlie Hobdy's group) would furnish music and preaching for the Sunday Services.

The Parker's Chapel Church produced the following Ministers: Rev. W. Issac Dye, Rev. Art Dye, Rev. John Smith, Rev. Fred Rogan and Rev. Earl Viers.

Families that settled in the community during the later 1800's and 1900's included the Groves', Coakley's, Smith's (Smith County & Bethpage), Rippy's, Buntin's, Merrit's, Payne's, Brackins', Sarver's, Patterson's, West's, Johns', Lightfoot's, Hobdy's, Butler's, and Williams'. In later years other names were added through marriages and family ties. The Rogan's, Payne's, Smith's (Hartsville, TN), Jackson's, Padgett's, Baker's, Peacock's, Bell's, Walker's, Brewer's, Shaw's, Summer's, Randolph's, Fitt's, Vaughn's, Gamble's, Turner's, Covington's, Bank's, Viers', Rucker's, Hayes', Morrow's, McClains', and the Hammond's.

The first school in 1870's was held in the Church. The parents paid the teacher. Lucy Groves was the first teacher, followed by Florence Williams Hudson. A small one room school was built and later destroyed by a cyclone. The community had another school built in 1923. A two room Rosenwald School-Parker's Chapel, serving grades 1-8. The citizens of the community had to raise $600.00 and the Rosenwald Foundation donated $1200.00 and the county provided the land. Robert D. Smith, Effie Coakley and Gideon Dye of the Community were among the long listing of teachers.

A majority of the citizens owned land and farming was the principal occupation. Everybody raised strawberries, tobacco, and had a garden. Luther Coakley ran the blacksmith shop for the community. Grocery stores were managed at intervals by Jim Rippy, Cagie Coakley, Gilmore Coakley and Lucy Whiteside as a means for making a living. Many homes in the early community were built by the Coakley brothers.

From the roots of the early settlers, the Community produced Ministers, Doctors, Lawyers, Educators, Engineers, Assemby Persons, Musicians, Farmers, Nurses, Secretaries, Cooks, Hair Stylist, Barbers, Military Personnel, Social Workers, Business Owners, Mechanics, Sales Clerks, Hospital Personnel/Health Care Providers, Production Manager, Personnel managers, Domestic Workers, but more importantly Productive citizens who Love the Lord and show concern for each other.

Special thanks to the following for imput in this marrative-Pauline Coakley Walker, Berry Smith, Ruby Rippy Williams, Alice Gray Smith, Carrie Mai Coakley, Fayola Rogan Padgett and Vanesse Padgett Smith. The History will not stop with this presentation. We will continue adding information for later publications and we would your input.

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