History of Pisgah Baptist Church
Written by Emmett B. Wheeler and Richard L. Wheeler
The research for this history of Pisgah Baptist Church, has required diligent search of many old records, the most notable of the records examined are the records of Friendship Baptist Church at Fackler from 1827 to 1872. Friendship Church was, in fact, the mother Church of Pisgah. Pisgah Church is an outgrowth of Sand Mountain Baptist Church, which was established as an Arm of Friendship Church in July 1851. It continued as an Arm of Friendship Church until August 1861, when it was regularly constituted as an independent Church and the name was changed to Mount Pisgah Baptist Church of Christ. These records of Friendship were the source of much information contained in this work. Other valuable information was obtained from the original minutes of the Tennessee River Baptist Association, 1853-1935.
Every effort has been made to verify all data contained in this history, and it is believed that it will be found authentic.
The value of a history of this nature, is to review the events of the past, lest we forget the difficult struggle of our ancestors to build a foundation on solid rock, on which has been erected an arm of the invisible Church of Christ, that today, in its one hundred twenty first birthday, is still strong in the faith.
We, the authors, appreciate the honor and privilege of compiling this history of Pisgah Baptist Church. If it proves interesting and informative to those who read it, this is our recompense.
Emmett B. Wheeler
Richard L. Wheeler
PISGAH MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH
Formerly Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church of Christ Pisgah, Alabama
Pisgah is on Sand Mountain, in Jackson County, Alabama, twenty-two miles northeasterly from Scottsboro, the county seat. It is six miles north of Dutton and five miles south of Rosalie. Highway No. 71 lies 2 miles east of Pisgah, which is accessible from Highway No. 71 by County Roads Nos. 58, 88, 61 and 60. The geographical center of Pisgah is the intersection of County Roads Nos. 58 and 88.
The present Church building is on the west side of road No. 58 just north of the Pisgah Cemetery and south of the center of town.
EARLY HISTORY OF THE COMMUNITY NOW KNOWN AS PISGAH
When Jackson County was first created in 1819, it did not include Sand Mountain. This land still belonged to the Cherokee Indian Nation and was acquired in the cession of 1835, by the completion of a treaty signed at New Echota, Capital of the Cherokee Nation. The boundaries of the original Jackson County were defined as, "All that tract of country obtained from the Cherokee nation of Indians, lying on the north side of the Tennessee River, south of the Tennessee state line, east of the Madison County line, and of the Flint River after it has left Madison County."
That portion of Jackson County lying south of the Tennessee River and bounded on the south by the Marshal County line, on the east by the Dekalb County line and on the north by the Tennessee state line, was added to Jackson County in 1836.
During the time between 1819 and 1836, when Sand Mountain was not a part of Jackson County, many white men continued to move into the county from Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia and Georgia. They settled the more fertile lands of the many coves and valleys north of the Tennessee River. Sand Mountain, a wilderness, and isolated by the steep mountain side and Tennessee River, had not yet been settled by white men.
The early settlers of the community, later to be known as Pisgah, were also from North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Most of them made a short stopover in north Georgia before moving on to Alabama. They entered Alabama by the way of Big Wills Valley and climbed the more moderate sides of Sand Mountain which raises from Wills Valley. The first of these settlers reached Pisgah Community between 1840 and 1850. They came in small groups and settled on land which had not yet been homesteaded and was still public lands. They soon staked out claims, began to clear land and build log houses. Timber was plentiful, but sawmills were nonexistent. This made it necessary to hew the logs with broad axes and put them together with wooden pegs. Their food consisted of wild animals and fowl which were plentiful. Soon they were able to plant vegetable gardens and some corn. Before grist mills were built, dried corn was beaten into coarse meal from which they made corn pone.
It was not long before some of the enterprising settlers began to build water mills along the many streams in the community. The best known of these mills were, The Old Hill Mill, The Clark Mill, The Thomas Mill and the Estes Mill. Some of these mills were sawmills as well as Grist mills and these mills had a great impact on the growth and well being of the settlers.
THE NAMING OF PISGAH
The first business establishment in the community was a general store built and owned by Samuel C. Estes. Mr. Estes, on being asked what name he was going to give to the "town" replied, "Pisgah" as it reminded him of the mountain mentioned in the Bible, known as Mount Pisgah, where Moses was taken by the Lord to view the Promised Land and where he died and was buried. This is recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 34, V. 1-6.
The exact site of the first store is uncertain, but it is certain that it was somewhere near the present center of the town of Pisgah. Also, the date of the establishment of the store is uncertain. The only written records concerning the Estes store is found in a record book of the old Davenport store in Valley Head. This store conducted a wholesale and retail business and it was from this store that Mr. Estes bought his supplies. The earliest entry in the book giving a list of supplies bought by Mr. S. C. Estes was in 1856. This would indicate that the store was established in 1856 or 1857.
The community served by the Estes store extended over a large territory, including the communities now know as Pleasant View, Deans Chapel, Rosalie and possibly Henagar.
THE BEGINNING OF THE CHURCH AT PISGAH
The first building that housed the first Church, was a combined Church and school house. It was located just east of the old Estes Spring, about 1/4 mile east of the site of the second, third and fourth buildings to house the Pisgah Baptist Church. Religion and education has long been of intense interest to the people of Pisgah since the very first. It was in 1849 and 1850 that efforts to establish a church at Pisgah began to make headway. The Friendship Baptist Church, in Fackler, Alabama, became interested in establishing a Church on Sand Mountain through the influence of some of its members, who had moved to Sand Mountain around 1848-50. The names of these families from Friendship are not all known, but the following are among the best known: Samuel Rorex, Isaac Derrick, and Jesse Starkey. There were doubtless others, but the foregoing names can be verified with written records or other means.
The Tennessee River Association was organized at Friendship Church in Fackler, October 1853. Among the ten Churches represented at the organizational meeting was Sand Mountain Church, represented by A. G. Hammock, J. W. Baker and Joseph Smalley Sr.
While Friendship Church acted as host to the meeting, it did not join the Association until 1854, because of the affiliation with the Duck River Association. The delegates from Sand Mountain Church were seated without voting privileges, as they were not representing a regularly constituted Church, but an arm of Friendship Church.
The Sand Mountain arm of the Friendship Church continued until 1861. Their worship services were irregular as they had no pastor but depended upon ministers sent by the Association as missionaries and other preachers traveling throughout the association territory, preaching and holding revivals at the scattered Churches. Preachers were scarce and services were held only when a preacher was available. Some of the notable preachers of the time who preached at Sand Mountain Church from 1854 to 1861 were, Charles L. Roach, Richard H. Taliaferro, Bailey Bruce and A. C. Howell. Elder Taliaferro traveled over 19,434 miles within the Tennessee River Association, he preached 1090 sermons, baptised 414 believers and aided in constituting five Churches—Pisgah being one of the five.
EARLY CONFLICTS AND DIVISION AMONG BAPTISTS
Dissension arose among Baptist in Alabama and prevailed for almost a generation. The basic factor in the conflict was a difference of interpretation of the doctrines of Election, commonly called "Predestination". The Hyper-Calvinists, or "Do Nothing Baptist" (as they were designated at the time), took the position that Jesus came to earth to save the elect only, and that they would be saved by him without any effort on the part of man. They opposed all missionary, educational or benevolent efforts to lead people to salvation in Christ.
Other Baptists, later designated as missionary Baptists, held that the Calvinistic principles included missions, education, and benevolences. Dissension increased, ultimately leading to a division in the late 1830's and early 1840's with the forming of two denominational bodies—The Missionary Baptists and the Primitive Baptists.
When the Tennessee River Association was formed, it adopted the principles of the Mt. Zion Association, which was a strong missionary association. Friendship Church had been a strong missions and education advocate, as evidenced by the adoption of the principles of the Duck River Association in 1827, and the principles of the Mt. Zion Association in 1854, when they joined the Tennessee River Association. As an Arm of Friendship Church, Sand Mountain Church (Mt. Pisgah) adopted these same principles and has adhered to them throughout its 121 year history.
SAND MOUNTAIN CHURCH BECOMES MOUNT PISGAH
BAPTIST CHURCH OF CHRIST 1861
The Sand Mountain Church continued as an arm of Friendship Church, and it was a struggle to keep the small congregation together. However, they continued steadfast in the faith and through the help of the Association and the mother Church, they had reached the point in 1861 where they felt that they were ready to stand alone and become a regularly constituted Church.
It had been 10 years of slow growth, but a growth based on a deep abiding faith in the ultimate success for their efforts. Accordingly, the assistance of Friendship Church was requested in constituting a Missionary Baptist Church at Pisgah. This request was granted, and in August 1861, a number of prominent preachers of the Association including Richard H. Taliaferro from Paint Rock Valley, Bailey Bruce from Friendship Church, Charles L. Roach Sr. missionary, and William Raper of Bootsville Church in Dekalb County met with the Sand Mountain Church and aided in the organization of the new Church.
The Name of Sand Mountain was changed to Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church of Christ. This name was kept intact until it was learned sometime later that there was another Baptist Church of the same name already in existence. The name "Mount" was dropped but the date on which this action was taken is unknown. However, the minutes of the Tennessee River Association of 1872 shows Mount Pisgah making their first report to the Association.
No records can be found where the name was changed by formal action of the Church in Conference. It was evidently done in conference, but these records have been lost, and perhaps, destroyed by fire.
The newly constituted Church continued without a regular pastor until 1872. It had come into being at the outbreak of the Civil War and like all churches during that period, their meetings and services were irregular and they faced many difficulties. They did manage to hold the little congregation together and weathered the storms of war. Poverty had never been a stranger to these hardy pioneers. Many of the young men went into the Confederate Army and only the older men were left to carry on. It was indeed a condition difficult for the young people of this present age to envision.
The Tennessee River Association suspended all meetings from 1861 to 1865 due to the war. The Church building of Friendship Church was used by the Federal Troops stationed at Stevenson and as a result that Church held irregular meetings during the war period. A handwritten history of this period was prepared by Preston Brown in 1866 and is included in the records of Friendship Church of that date.
Very little is known concerning the membership of Mount Pisgah Church from the time of its organization in 1861, until the election of the first pastor, Preston Brown in 1872.
MOUNT PISGAH ELECTS FIRST PASTOR AND JOINS THE TENNESSEE RIVER ASSOCIATION 1872
The fifteenth session of the Tennessee River Association met at the First Baptist Church of Scottsboro with Preston Brown as moderator. He made the first report of Mount Pisgah Church to the Tennessee River Association. He reported a "Prosperous Sunday School, asked for assistance and prayers."
SECOND CHURCH HOUSE
The first Church building was destroyed by fire, but the date on which this happened is obscure. The date on which the second building was built is likewise unknown. However, there are some clues that indicate that the second building was started during the pastorate of Charles B. Roach Sr., which was 1878-1880. Τhis is determined by the date of the death of Margaret Marshall, wife of W. C. Marshall, which appears on the tombstone as 1881. She is the first person to be buried in the Pisgah cemetery, which is on land owned by W.C. Marshall until September 2, 1882, on which date W. C. Marshall deeded to D.R. Woodall 160 acres of land described as follows: "Ν. 1/2 of N.E. 1/4 of Sec. 24 T. 4. R. 7E., and S. 1/2 of S.E. 1/4 of Sec. 13, T.4R.7 E. with the exception of two acres in the N.E. corner of the N.E. 1/4 of Sec. 24 T.4R.7E."
*(The original description was in error-should be S.E. Corner).
Mrs. Marshall's grave is on the S.E. Corner of the N.E. 1/4 of Sec. 24 T. 4, R.&E". The second Church building is also on this land. This land was evidently set apart by Mr. Marshall at the time of, or before his wife's death in 1881. The earliest existing records of the conferences of Pisgah Church begin from the fourth Sunday of April 1882.
The second building was a two-story wooden frame structure. It was a combination Church and School building. It was not a free public school, but a school financed by subscription from the students' parents. The state or county made no financial contribution. It was essentially an elementary school, but a few high school subjects were included. During the pastorate of John J. Beeson, he succeeded in generating a great interest in education, and as a result the school became known as the Beeson Academy. However, this was not the Beeson Academy established by the Baptist Home Mission Board about 1914-1915.
A PERIOD OF GROWTH AND EXPANSION
At the close of the Civil War in 1865, the Baptist Churches, as well as other denominations, found themselves in a very disorganized condition. The people had suffered much loss of wealth and morale. The Mount Pisgah Church was no exception, and had it not been for the strong faith and undaunted courage of the stout-hearted Christians, the Church at Pisgah could not have survived.
The Tennessee River Association, after suspension from 1860 to 1865, was reorganized. Delegates from eight Churches, representing a membership of 363 members and three pastors, met at New Hope Church in October 1865 and voted to continue the existence of the Tennessee River Association. From this point, the Churches began to revive. The Mount Pisgah Church began to attract new members and the Church started a slow but steady growth.
The membership of Pisgah Church increased from 25 members in 1861 to 104 members in 1882. [Click here for the membership list from that year.]
Mount Pisgah Church drew members from various parts of Sand Mountain, Coon Valley, Jones' Cove and the north side of the Tennessee River. They were attracted to Pisgah because of the school and the active Church under the leadership of able preachers, such as Preston Brown, William Derrick, Charles Β. Roach, J. J. Beeson and Charles T. Starkey. It became advisable to establish Arms of the Pisgah Church to obviate the great burden of traveling long distances to attend Church. Accordingly, on September 26, 1891, the Church in conference formally established an Arm of the Mount Pisgah Church at Shipps School, near Bellefonte. In November 1891, the Arm of the Pisgah Church at Shipps School House was formally constituted as a Church and they elected Charles T. Starkey, Pastor, and T. P. Patterson Clerk. All members of Pisgah Church, who lived north of the Tennessee River were given the opportunity to join the new Church, which was named Shipp's Chapel. A list of members of Pisgah Church who wished to transfer to Shipp's Chapel was presented to the Pisgah Church by T. P. Patterson on Saturday before the Fourth Sunday in November 1891, and on this date the list of thirty-seven members were granted letters of dismission to join the regularly constituted Church at Shipp's Chapel.
Sometime before August 1884, a congregation was formed in Jones' Cove. It was not referred to as an Arm of the Pisgah Church, but a large number of the congregation were members of the Mount Pisgah Church. The minutes of the Conference of the Pisgah Church in August 1884 contains a notation concerning a request of the brethren in Jones' Cove, that the doors of the Pisgah Church be opened for membership in Jones' Cove. The request was granted and Reverend J. J. Beeson and James McCloud met with the congregation in Jones' Cove and opened the doors of Mt. Pisgah Church for reception of members. Twelve members were received by experience and baptism. The minutes of the meeting are dated August 1884 and were written by A. A. Gay, Church Clerk.
The congregation in Jones' Cove continued very active and these members of Pisgah Church who attended Church in the Cove were excused from attending conferences of the Pisgah Church. No records of the establishing of this congregation as an Arm of the Mt. Pisgah Church can be found, but it is very certain that such action was taken and the records lost. As the population of Jones' Cove grew, the congregation grew into a strong, active group. About 1909 or 1910, a new building was constructed and a new Church was fully constituted and named Mount Olivet Baptist Church, with Reverend James McCloud as Pastor. A large number of members of the Pisgah Church, who lived in Jones' Cove, withdrew from Pisgah and joined Mount Olivet Church.
Despite the large losses in membership to the new Churches, Mount Pisgah Church continued to grow. Interest continued in education as well as the Church, and Pisgah began to plan an addition to the Church building to accommodate the growth in the school and Church. John J. Beeson who had served the Church since 1880, died in 1897 due to a heart attack. He was followed by John T. Richards, who served for one year, 1898-1899. Charles T. Starkey was elected Pastor in 1900. It was during the first year of his pastorate that the third building was finished. The second building ran east and west, the entrance facing north. The third building was, in fact, an addition to the second building. It was a one-story structure extending north and south, with the entrance through the second building. The pulpit was in the south end and the building had a seating capacity of 250 or 300. The heating system was unique, and consisted of two stoves, one at the north end, the other in front of the altar. The two stoves were connected by a long stove pipe extending below the ceiling, suspended with bailing wire. This was a real hazard to the congregation, as the pipes would become full of soot, and at times, fall at the most unexpected moments. The pipes fell one Sunday, during services, and emptied its contents on a young man, almost suffocating him. He was taken from the building and the soot cleaned from him before it was too late. He returned to the service and remained until the close.
The third building furnished the much needed room for the school which had continued to grow and had become too small to accommodate the greatly increased number of students. The second building was converted into an elementary school, grades 1 through 8. The third building was used for the more advanced grades. Two teachers were employed and many students came from a distance and lived within the community during the school season. Pisgah was a pioneer in education at the time. Outside of Scottsboro, it was the only school in Jackson County where courses were given beyond the elementary grades. The academies at Scottsboro benefited a very few of the children in the rural areas, who had no schools of any kind, except a few one-room schools, supported by tuition and incidental fees. Very few could afford the tuition, food and lodging required to attend the schools in Scottsboro. As a result of the lack of educational opportunities, a vast majority of the children in the rural areas grew up as illiterates. The early pastors of Mount Pisgah Church realized the lack of educational facilities and set out to help overcome the situation. William P. Derrick, the second pastor, was a teacher in the school at Pisgah for several years before the second building was constructed. Preston Brown, the first pastor, was not a teacher, but he was active in supporting the school. Charles E. Roach Sr., the third pastor, was an avid advocate of education for all. He encouraged the people to give their children the best education possible. John J. Beeson, the fourth pastor of Pisgah Church, was by far, the strongest and best known of the pastors in the early days of the Pisgah Church and School. He was pastor from 1880 to 1897 and during his pastorate, the Church and school flourished. Both the Church and school became widely known throughout the County and northern part of Alabama.
THE BEESON ACADEMY ESTABLISHED
The state of Alabama, from 1819, when it first became a state, had done very little, or nothing, toward the education of its common citizens. The economy of the state was based upon the growth and selling of cotton. This economy was dominated by the large slave-holding plantation owners, who could not have cared less about the education of the lower strata or "poor white trash" as they were called by the wealthier slave holders. The stronghold of this landed gentry was in, what is commonly called, "The Cotton Belt" or black belt section of the state. The children of these plantation owners were sent to private schools in the north and east. Some were sent to Europe.
Nothing, or little, was done to implement the Acts of the State Legislature, establishing a public school system in the state before 1907.
During 1900-1917, religious denominations established several academies which were designed to aid students to receive an education through high school. The Beeson Academy was one of these schools, but it was not opened for the students until 1914-1915. The land on which the Academy was built, consisted of eleven acres given to the Baptist Home Mission Board by the S. C. Estes family about 1912. The Beeson Academy was named in honor of John J. Beeson, the fourth pastor of Mount Pisgah Church, 1880-1897. The first principal of the Academy was J. M. Langston, 1914-15. The faculty consisted of the principal and one other teacher, Miss Burleson. Courses of study ranged from the first grade through the twelfth.
A dormitory was built to house students from a distance who could not live at home and attend school. It was a humble beginning, but certainly a giant step forward in education for the children of Pisgah and Sand Mountain. Many of the students at the Beeson Academy were enabled to enter college and complete their education. The Academy continued to grow until 1920, when the building was destroyed by fire.
Classes were continued until 1921 in the Church building with James H. Jarnigan as Principal. In 1921, the land on which the Academy stood, was sold to the Jackson County Board of Education as a site for Pisgah's first Public School. The present buildings of the Pisgah School stand on that land. Thus, a glorious chapter in the history of Pisgah Baptist Church was closed.
THE FOURTH CHURCH BUILDING
The fourth Church building was constructed 1926-1932 when Crawford L. Morris was pastor. It was located on the site of the second and third buildings. The second and third buildings were razed and Church services were held in the school building until the new building was completed. The fourth building is, now occupied by a printing plant. The fourth building soon proved to be inadequate for the needs of the Church. In 1949-1951 an addition was made to the building for the use of the Sunday School.
PISGAH BAPTIST CHURCH LEAVES TENNESSEE RIVER ASSOCIATION
On Saturday, August 31, 1935, the Church in Conference, elected W. B. Wheeler Sr., and Cal Gant, delegates to the Tennessee River Association with instruction to request a letter of dismissal from the Association in order that the Church could join the Sand Mountain Baptist Association. The letter was granted, and at the meeting of the Sand Mountain Association in October, 1935 at Dutton Baptist Church, Pisgah Church became a member of that Association. From 1851 to 1854, Pisgah Church was affiliated with the Duck River Association as an Arm of Friendship Church. From 1854 to 1861, Pisgah was associated with the Tennessee River Association as an arm of Friendship Church. From 1861-1872 Pisgah was not affiliated with any Association.
PISGAH CHURCH ELECTS FIRST FULL TIME PASTOR
From 1851 to 1940 Pisgah Church never had a full time Pastor. The Young Mens Class, composed of Emmett B. Wheeler, Teacher, John W. Gant, Jerry Roden Jr., T. L. Patterson, Royce Callaham, Tom Ferguson, Riley Ferguson, Brinton Young, R. C. Smith, Virgile Smith, John G. Lester, Harvey G. Hicks, Ollie Turner and C. D. Roden, proposed to the Church in Conference, that they be permitted to search for a full-time pastor, at an annual salary of $600.00, for which they would be responsible. Much opposition was expressed, but the motion carried after an interesting debate between young John Gant and his grandfather, the late W. M. Gant. John won the debate as the Church voted in favor of the proposal.
Reverend James Waters was elected as the first full time pastor and the Pisgah Church has been on the upward move ever since. Soon after this incident the entire Young Men's Class entered the armed services. Two of them, John G. Lester and Harvey G. Hicks gave their lives in the service of their country.
THE FIFTH AND PRESENT BUILDING
In 1963, the need for larger quarters for the various activities of the Church became very evident. Plans for a new building were begun when N. W. Ford was elected pastor in 1963. It was discovered that the Pisgah Church never had title to the land on which the second, third and fourth buildings had been built. It became necessary to reorganize the Church as a legal corporation before the plans could be completed. It was necessary to appoint a Board of Trustees before they could enter into any transactions concerning the Church property. Through an error, the land, on which the second, third and fourth buildings had been erected, was deeded to a board of trustees by the John J. Beeson Heirs. The deed provided a self-perpetuating board, vacancies in which, were to be filled by action of the board, rather than the Church. This deed was found by the courts to be invalid. After further litigation, the records were cleared and a deed to the property was made to the Church by the court.
In 1964, N. W. Ford resigned and Reverend Tommy Banks was elected pastor. He continued the work where Reverend Ford had left off. The land on which the present Church was built, was purchased from Jerry Roden for a price of $4,000.00. A Building Committee was appointed. This committee consisted of Jack Brewster, John W. Gant and John L. Wheeler. A Planning Committee, consisting of Bill McGriff, John W. Gant, John L. Wheeler, T. L. Patterson, D. W. Wheeler, Mrs. L. B. Satterfield, John Fuller, Sam Wright, W. B. Wheeler, Lee H. Gamble, Mrs. M. J. Ferguson, and Brewer Rοberts, was appointed.
Under the leadership of Pastor Banks and these committees, the building was rushed to completion without further difficulty. From the standpoint of buildings, this was by far the greatest accomplishment of the Pisgah Baptist Church. It again demonstrated the power of faith, courage and dedication of God's people led by capable and dedicated leaders.
After the building was completed, Reverend Banks resigned and Dr. O. L. Minks served as interim pastor until 1969, when Reverend Lionel Patton was elected as pastor for an indefinite time.
A youth revival was held at Pisgah Baptist Church in 1970, with Reverend Malcom Stewart as evangelist. This was by far the greatest revival ever held by Pisgah Baptist Church. Reverend Stewart was assisted by a local Youth Pastor, Tommy Turner. As a result of this revival, many young people were converted and added to the Churches throughout the Sand Mountain Association. Also several young men entered the ministry.
There are no records available that indicates the date of the establishment of a Sunday School in the Pisgah Church. However, it is certain that a Sunday School was in existence for several years before 1872. In the first report made to the Tennessee River Association by Mount Pisgah Church, a prosperous Sunday School was reported. The Sunday School movement had its beginning in 1838, but the movement grew slowly, especially in the rural areas. This was due, in part, to the idea held by the adults, that the Sunday School was for children only. The Church houses were usually small unheated buildings and the country roads were almost impassable in the winter months. Services were held in the rural area Churches once a month and it was difficult to maintain Sunday School the remainder of the month. Notwithstanding these difficulties, a Sunday School has been maintained in the Pisgah Church since its early days. The Sunday School is now one of the strongest organizations in the Church at Pisgah.
Baptist Young People’s Union
The earliest records of the Baptist Young People's Union at Pisgah, is dated October 25, 1903. Volney B. Wheeler was President and Miss Allie Roden was Secretary. The minutes of this meeting is given below:
"The Baptist Young People's Union met Sunday October 25, 1903 at 3:00 p.m. Opened with a song by the Union. The 86th Psalm was read by the Leader, A. N. Varnell—then Prayer. The roll was called, each member answering with a verse of Scripture containing the word "mercy". A talk was then given by Rev. C. T. Starkey.
New members were solicited and nineteen were received.
Program for next meeting: Subject "Blessed" Leader Leak Bain. Reading by—Pearl Whitworth. Talk by—Rev. J. Ε. S. Leek
Volney Wheeler, President
Allie Roden, Secretary"
There was much opposition to the B.Y.P.U. among a great number of pastors in Alabama during the early days of the organization. It was charged by some pastors and laymen that the B.Y.P.U. was a social organization, designed to furnish a gathering place for young people without proper supervision. Little interest was shown by the Baptist State Convention, and, as a result, there was no well-developed program designed for the young people. The Pisgah Church was fortunate, in that they had a group of young people capable of organization and devising their own programs. Some of the older adults objected to the B.Y.P.U., at first, but the opposition never reached serious proportions before it died out.
The B.Y.P.U. at Pisgah ceased to exist soon after 1934, when the name was changed to Baptist Training Union and it ceased to be a youth organization only. The program was widened to include adults of all ages. [Click here for the current Youth ministry]
Women’s Mission Society
Many of the more conservative pastors opposed the early work of the Women's Mission Society, on the grounds that it was contrary to the scriptural requirement that women keep silent in the Church.
When the small group came together in 1823 to found the Alabama Baptist State Convention, they were surprised that all of them had come, representing seven Mission Societies, four of which were Women's Societies.
The Pisgah Church has had a Women's Society for many years, even though there are no written records available to establish the date on which such an organization was started. At the present time the organization is active in the support of the mission work of the Church. There is also a group for the young girls, supported by the W.M.U.
The Brotherhood does not carry on a regular program, such as periodic meetings, but they sponsor an annual Laymen's Sunday program. They assist the program of the Church in many ways as called upon.
PROMINENT PERSONALITIES CONNECTED WITH THE HISTORY OF PISGAH BAPTIST CHURCH
Reverend Preston Brown was elected first regular pastor of Pisgah Baptist in 1872 and served through 1874. He was pastor at the time Pisgah Church joined the Tennessee River Association as a regularly constituted Church. He served several Churches before coming to Pisgah as pastor. He became active in the Tennessee River Association in 1858, when he was elected Clerk of the Association and served in that office in 1858-66-67-68 and 69. He became an Associational Missionary during this time and devoted much of his time preaching and organizing Churches throughout the Association.
He assisted in constituting the Pisgah Church in 1861. He wrote a history, describing the conditions among the Churches during the Civil War years. He was ordained as a minister of the Gospel at Friendship Church about 1855. He served as Moderator of the Tennessee River Association seventeen years between 1872 and 1900.
CHARLES B. ROACH SR.
Charles B. Roach Sr. was the son of Elder Charles L. Roach, who moved to Jackson County from Amherst County Virginia in 1819. Elder Charles L. Roach was a prominent preacher of his time, as well as a prosperous farmer and business man. He raised a large family, and Charles B. Roach Sr. was one of the sons who became a well-known preacher. He never lived at Pisgah but visited the Church quite often as a missionary of the Association. He assisted in organizing the first Church, in 1851 and also assisted in constituting the Arm of Friendship Church (Sand Mountain Church) as a regular Church in 1861. He served as pastor from 1878 to 1880. His son Charles B. Roach Jr., moved to Pisgah about the turn of the century, and served as teacher for several years and pastor in 1912.
JOHN JUSTICE BEESON
John Justice Beeson, born July 17, 1835, was the forth pastor of Pisgah Baptist Church and served from 1880 to 1897. The earliest record we have of Reverend Beeson is contained in the minutes of the 1860 meeting of The Tennessee River Association which lists him as a delegate from Beech Grove Church.
He served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and after the end of the war, he was present at the Reorganizational meeting of the Tennessee River Association in 1865 at New Hope Church. The minutes of this meeting lists him as pastor of Centre Point, and Shiloh Churches and as a delegate from Beech Grove. Reverend Beeson was appointed a Missionary of the Association at the meeting of 1866 and in this capacity he served for several years, preaching and organizing many churches. It was he who organized the Baptist Church at Scottsboro as a mission of Centre Point Church in 1868, and became its first pastor. This Church later became the First Baptist Church of Scottsboro. He served the Tennessee River Association for many years in various capacities and was known as a strong Gospel preacher.
The Pisgah Church called him as pastor in August 1880, which call he accepted and shortly after moved his family to Pisgah. It was during his ministry that Pisgah Church became well known. Reverend Beeson's interest in education, as well in preaching the Gospel, made Pisgah an early educational center. Students came from all parts of Jackson County to attend the school at Pisgah.
The Beeson Academy, founded in 1915, by the Home Mission Board, was named in his honor.
While preaching at Centre Point, he collapsed and died of a heart attack in the pulpit Sunday October 31, 1897. He and his wife Fannie are buried in Centre Point Cemetery.
CHARLES Τ. STARKEY
Reverend Charles T. Starkey, born August 7, 1865, was the son of Jesse Starkey, who moved to Sand Mountain from near Fackler in 1850, and was one of the organizers of Sand Mountain Church in 1851 as an arm of Friendship Church. He was also instrumental in the constitution of Sand Mountain Church as an independent Church in 1861, and the renaming this Church Mount Pisgah Baptist Church of Christ.
Charles T. Starkey was baptised by J. J. Beeson, the 4th Sunday in August 1882 and was ordained as a minister of the Gospel, Sunday, September 27, 1891. After his ordination, he was elected pastor of the newly formed Church at Shipp's Chapel, near Bellefonte. He was elected pastor of Pisgah Church in 1900 and served until 1907. He was again elected pastor in 1912 and served until 1915. After leaving Pisgah he pastored several Churches within the Tennessee River Association. From 1914 to 1929, he served nine years as moderator of the Association.
In 1930, he moved his family to Oklahoma, but remained there only a year or two when he returned to Scottsboro because of ill health. He died September 9, 1936 and was laid to rest in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Scottsboro. His personality, ability and general good nature made him a beloved pastor. The Pisgah Church flourished under his leadership. It was during his first pastorate that the Third Church building was completed.
James McCloud, born 1854, was left an orphan when he was a small baby. He was taken into the home of the Haas family where he grew to young manhood. His education consisted of a few months a year in the school at Pisgah. In spite of his lack of formal education, James McCloud developed into one of the most effective and eloquent preachers of the Gospel in North Alabama. As a Bible student, he was excelled by no one of his time. He was a master of the English language, despite his lack of formal training. He believed that "The Gospel of Christ is so simple that a man, though he be a fool, need not err therein." His formula for salvation was simple, easily understood by the educated, uneducated, rich and poor. It was simply to "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."
The ministry of James McCloud was unique, in that he preached and ministered to the poor rural Churches, who otherwise would have been deprived of the hearing of the Word. He walked hundreds of miles to fill his appointments at many Churches, including, Mount Zion, Unity, June's Cove, Bethany, Macedonia and others.
He became a member of Mount Pisgah Church of Christ by experience and baptism in 1882. His service to the Pisgah Church was varied, serving as Clerk for several years and on committees and interim minister as the need arose.
His ordination took place on the fourth Sunday in January, 1883. After his ordination, he served the Arm of Pisgah Church in Jane's Cove for several years and in 1908, when the Arm of Pisgah Church was constituted as the Mount Olivet Baptist Church, he was called as pastor and served, with the exception of a few years, the entire life of that Church. Most of his service was without pay, and it can be said of him, "He served where he was most needed."
FAMILIES ACTIVE IN PISGAH CHURCH
Space does not permit a detailed account of the activities of all individuals in the history of Pisgah Church. The following is a partial list of the families who have been active in the support of the Church. Some of these families were represented in the early days of the Church. Their services were varied, but nonetheless vital to the life of the Church:
Starkey, Rorex, Derrick, Gay, Dodd, Wheeler, Marshall, Patterson, Clark, Hill, Stogsdil, Thomas, Bain, Ambrester, Thornberry, Roach, Wann, Thornhill, O'dell, Chambers, Whitworth, Estes, Gamble, Smalley, McCloud, Henderson, Haas, Clifton, Wilson, Gant, Lewis, Woodall, Hogan, Newberry, Jarnigan, Tinker, Surratt, Brewster, Bobo, Hayes, Milligan, Chisenhall, Beeson, Brown, Callaham, Jones, Roden and many others whose names have been last in the passage of time.
This is not meant to be a complete list, and omissions are not intended as a downgrading of the services rendered by those whose names are not included.