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Churches in the Alabama Black Belt 1875–1917

  • Glenn N. Sisk (a1)

Extract

This is a segment of local church history in the South in the transition period from the Civil War and Reconstruction to the modern period of World War I. The cross section described here was no doubt typical of most of the deep Southern region with the exception of such areas as the Catholic district of Louisiana. The manner in which the Baptists and Methodists had catered to pioneer needs in furnishing a highly emotional religion without the requirement of an educated clergy certainly contributed to their large memberships in the period covered here.

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References

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1. This is the usage of J. D. Pope, whose conception has become most generally used in scientific works and goveninient reports. Pope, J. D., “Types of Farming Areas,” in Alabama State Department of Agriculture and Industries, Agriculture of Alabama (Montgomery, 1930), pp. 53 ff.

2. Most of these belonged to the Southern Baptist Convention.

3. Most of the white members were in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, although there was a small Methodist Protestant membership. The African Methodist Episcopal Church accounted for the largest number of Negro Methodists.

4. The Presbyterian Church in the Ijnited States, although a smaller Cumberland Presbyterian Church was present.

5. Marengo News-Journal, 01 7, 1886; Linden Reporter, 01 4, 1889; Eutaw, Whig and Observer, 01 30, 1902, 01 12, 1905; Grayson, C. C., Yesterday, Memories of Selma and Its People (Pelican Press, Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana, 1948) p. 92.

6. Marion Commonwealth, 03 14, 1875.

7. Historical Sketch of Vine Hill Church, MS in “Presbyterian Church Histories in the Synod of Alabama” (State Department of Archives).

8. United States, Department of the Interior, Bureau of the Census, Eleventh Census of the United States, 1890, Report on Statistics of Churches in the United States at the 11th Census: 1890 (U. S. Government printing office, Washington, D. C., 1894), p. 52, cited hereafter as Report on Churches: 1890.

9. Computed from United States, Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census, Special Reports, Religious Bodies:1906, Part I (U. S. Government Printing office, Washington, D. C., 1910), pp. 294 ff., cited hereafter as Religious Bodies:1906.

10. Population figures for 1910, ehurch statistics for 1916. Computed from United States Census, Special Reports, Religious Bodies:1916, Part I (U. S. Government Printing office, Washington, D. C., 1919), pp. 238239, cited hereafter as Religions Bodies, 1916.

11. Crumpton, W. B., A Book of Memories, (Baptist Mission Board, Montgomery, Alabama, 1921), pp. 131, 140, 242.

12. Ibid., p. 198.

13. Report on Churches:1890, pp. 160 ff.

14. Religious Bodies:1906, p. 294. These statistics include both the Southern and the National Convention.

15. Computed from Ibid., p. 294.

16. Fifty per cent for the state; sixty percent for the Black Belt. Computed from Religious Bodies: 1916, pt. 1, pp. 238239.

17. Bigbee Baptist Association, Minutes of the Twenty-third Annual Session, Held with Livingston Church, Sumter County, October and 4, 1875 (N. P., 1875); Minutes of the Sisty-First Annual Session of the Cahaba Baptist Association, held with Siloan Church, Marion, Perry County, Alabama, on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, October 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st, 1878 (Marion, 1878), p. 19; Riley, B. F., A History of the Baptists of Alabama: From the Time of their First Occupation of Alabama in 1808 until 1894, (Roberts and Son, Birmingham, Alabama, 1895), p. 384, cited hereafter as Riley, , History of the Baptists, 1808–1894.

18. Riley, , History of the Baptists, 1808–1894, p. 434.

19. Minutes of the Sixty-First Annual Session of the Cahaba Baptist Association, 1878, pp. 24, 25.

20. Ibid., pp. 24, 25.

21. Riley, , History of the Baptists, 1808–1894, p. 376.

22. Alabama Baptist, 12 2, 1880.

23. Alabama, Baptist, 04 11, 1889.

24. Ibid., 1890–1899, passum.

25. Ibid., 1881–1885, 1896, passiin.

26. Alabama Baptist, 1881–1885, 1896, passiln.

27. Minutes of the Montgomery Baptist Association, 1910 (Montgomery, Alabama, 1910), p. 17.

28. Alabama Baptist, 01 12, 1899.

29. Ibid., 11 1, 1888.

30. Crumpton, , A Book of Memories, pp. 239 ff, 241; Darden, M. R, –1940” (unpublished M. A. thesis, Alabama Polytechnic Institute, 1941), pp. 4648.

31. Minutes of the Bigbee Baptist Association, 1882 (Montgomery, Alabama, 1882), p. 5; Alabama Baptist, 09 22, 1887, 06 17, 1897.

32. Riley, B. F., A Memorial History of the Baptists of Alabama, Being an Account of the Struggles and Achievements of the Denomination from 1808 to 1923 (Judson Press, Philadelphia, Boston, 1923), p. 360.

33. Ibid., p. 333.

34. Hobbs, H. H., A History of the Clayton Street Baptist Church (N.p., n.d.), p. 48.

35. This is based on the statement of a Sunday School organizer in the State Baptist headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama, August, 1947.

36. There were 72 members of the Dusk River sect in Sumter County. Religious Bodies:1916, pp. 238–239.

37. Minutes of the Alabama Conference of the M. E. Church, South, Held at Montgomery, Alabama, December, 1870 (Montgomery, 1871), p. 1.

38. Parish, H. D., The Circuit Rider Dismounts (The Dietz Press, Richmond, Virginia, 1938), p. 12; Religious Bodies, 1916, p. 463.

39. Report on Churches, 1890, pp. 160 ff.

40. Religious Bodies:1906. p. 294.

41. Ibid., 1916, pp. 238–239.

42. Report on Churches, 1890, pp. 160 ff.

43. Religious Bodies:1916, pp. 238–239.

44. Report on Churches, 1890, pp. 160 ff.

45. Religious Bodies:1916, pp. 238–239. The southern chureh, however, made far greater gains than did the northern. Ibid., pp. 238–239.

46. Report on Churches, 1890, pp. 160 ff.

47. Religious Bodies:1916, pp. 238–239.

48. Ibid., pp. 238–239; Report on Churches, 1890, pp. 160 ff.

49. Minutes of the Alabama Annual Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church, 1899 (Troy, Alabama, 1899), p. 9.

50. Ibid., 1884, p. 9.

51. Farish, , The Circuit Rider Dismounts, p. 66; Religious Bodies:1916, pp. 476, 493.

52. Baptists 240–622; Methodists 241, 813. Computed from Report on Churches, 1890, pp. 160 ff. The computations include statistics for the Southern Baptist Convention (white), the National Baptist Convention (Negro), and the six Methodist churckes above named.

53. Computed from Ibid., pp. 160 ff.

54. Computed from Religious Bodies: 1906, p. 294; Religious Bodies:1916, pp. 238–239.

55. Baptists: 240,622 in 1890, 518,706 in 1916. Methodists: 241,813 in 1890; 330,558 in 1916. Computed from Report on Churcheg, 1890, pp. 160 ff; Religious Bodies:1916, pp. 238–239.

56. Computed from Report on Churches, 1890, pp. 160 ff; Religious Bodies: 1916, pp. 238–239.

57. Computed from Report on Churches, 1890, pp. 160 ff; Religious Bodies: 1916, pp. 238–239.

58. Report on Churches, 1890, pp. 160 ff; Religious Bodics:1916, pp. 238–239.

59. Alabama Christian Advocate, 06 18, 1908.

60. Alabama Christian Advocate, 1890–1899, passim,06 18, 1908; Alabama Baptist, 1890, 1899, passim.

61. Alabama Christian Advocate, 1890–1899; Alabama Baptist, 1890–1899.

62. Minutes of the Alabama Conference of the M. F. Church, South, 1889 (Montgomery, Alnbama, 1890), p. 30.

63. Selma Weekly Times, 05 25, 1893.

64. Riley, , A Memorial History of the Baptists, 18081923, pp. 213, 467; Minutes of the Eighty-fourth Annual Session of the Cahaba Baptist Association, Held with the Medline Baptist Church, Perry County, Alabama, October 15th and 16th, 1902 (N.P., N.d.), p. 20.

65. Report on Churches, 1890, pp. 160 ff; Religious Bodies:1906, p. 294; Religious Bodies:1916, pp. 238–239.

66. For most of the material on the Alabama Presbyterian church I am indebted to Reverend J. W. Marshall's manuscript in the State Department of Archives, entitled “The Presbyterian Church in Alabama, 1813–1898,” twenty volumes of source materials numbered in Arabic numerals, nine volumes of text numbered in Roman numerals, and one volume A. This work is a collection of text and sources garnered from various original Presbyterian records and pieced togéther to form a rough narrative of Presbyterian history. The work is cited here by permission of the author. In most cases further references to Marshall's material have been omitted from the footnotes.

67. Often separate ones for different sexes. “Historical Sketch Reported to the Presbytery of Tuscaloosa by their Request,” MS in “Presbyterian Church Histories of the Synod of Alabama”(State Department of Archives).

68. Minutes of Tuskaloosa Presbytery, Tuskaloosa, 12 4, 1894 (N.P., n.d.), p. 5; Cobbs, A. T., Presbyterian Women of the Synod of Alabama, United Slates (Heiter-Stark Printing Company, inc., Mobile, Alabama, n.d.), pp. 25, 26, 138, 256, cited hereafter as Presbyterian Women.

69. Cobbs, Presbyterian Women, p. 139.

70. Cobbs, , Presbyterian Women, pp. 23, 24; Marshall, , “Presbyterian Church,” vol. 1, p. 373.

71. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church had 215 members in the Black Belt in 1890 and 80 in 1916. The Colored Cumberlaiid Presbyterians had 1,413 members in the Black Belt in 1906 and in 1916 2,120. Report on Churches. 1890, pp. 160 ff; Religious Bodies: 1916 pp. 238–239, 513–514, 569.

72. Marie Reese, “History of Career of J. H. Kimbrough, Physician at Lowndesboro, Alabama.” MS, March 29, 1939, in Federal Writers Project, Work Projects Administration (State Department of Archives).

73. Whitaker, W. P., History of the Proteslant Episcopal Church in Alabama, 1763–1891 (Roberts and Son, Birmingham, Alabama, 1898), p. 49, cited hereafter as History of … Episcopal Church.

74. Ibid., p. 239.

75. Journal of the Forty-Eighth Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in the Diocese of Alabama Held in St. Paul's Church, Greensboro. May 14th, 15, 16th and 17th, A. D., 1879 (Mobile, 1879), p. 8.

76. Protestant Episcopal Church, Inventory of the Church Archives of Alabama, Alabama Historical Records Survey Project, Work Projects Admia istration, copy in Alabama State Department of Archives (Birmingham, Alabama, 1939), pp. 54, 80, 85, 99, 102; Spratt, H. P., ”History of the Town of Livingston, Alabama” (MS in public library, Livingston, Alabama), p. 31.

77. Protestant Episcopal Church, Inventory of the Church Archives of Alabama, p. 65.

78. Ibid., p. 73; Berlin Mission in Dallas County met a similar fate when, in 1929, the congregation moved its entire membership to St. Paul's in Selma.

79. Greene County where the Alabama and the Tombigbee rivers flow together.

80. Journal of the Sixty-First Annual Council of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in the Diocese of Alabama, Held in Christ Church, Mobile, May 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th, A.D., 1892 (Mobile, Alabama, 1892), p. 43.

81. Ibid., p. 42.

82. Journal of the Fifty-Third Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Diocese of Alabama, held in St. Paul's Church, Selma, May 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, A. D., 1884 (Union Springs, Alabama, 1884), pp. 4665.

83. Journal of the Seventy-Eighth Anneat Council of the Protestant Episopalcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama, Held in the Church of the Advent, Birmingham, May 5th, 6th, 7th, A.D.. 1909 (Anniston, Alabama, 1909).

84. Whitaker, . History of … Episcopal Chnrich, p. 254; Joaraal of the Fifty- Fifth Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama. Held in Grace Church, Anniston. May 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd. A.D., 1886 (Unon Springs, 1886), pp. 43, 45.

85. Whitaker. History of … Episcopal, Church. pp. 284285.

86. Journal of the Forty-Fifth Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama, Held in St. Paul's Church, Selma, May 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th, A.D.,1876 (Mobile. 1876), pp. 20. 21; Journal of the Sixty-First Annual Council of the Protestant Episcopal Church. in the Diocese of Alabama,… 1892, p. 26.

87. Whtaker, , History of … Episcopal Chureh. pp. 270272.

88. Report on Churches. 1890, pp. 160 ff; Religious Bodies:1906, p. 294; Religious Bodies:1916, pp. 238–239.

89. McQueen, Stewart. Rector, Church of the Holy Comforter, Montgomery, Alabama. in Church Record (Episcopal), XII (04, 1903), No. 4.

90. Ibid.

91. Alabama Beacon, 08 26, 1876; Entaw, Whig and Observer, 09 16, 1880.

92. Farish, , The Circuit Rider Dismounts, pp. 69, 75, 76.

93. Alabama Beacon, 08 26, 1876; Selma Weekly Time., 07 27, 1881; Christian Advocate, New Orleans, 10 21, 1880, 06 18, 1885.

94. Eutaw Mirror, 09 20, 1890; Hayneville Examiner, 06 2, 1881.

95. York Times, 12 6, 1890.

96. Montgomery Advertiser, 11 8, 1918.

97. Dernopolis Times, May 22, 1919.

98. Alabama Baptist, October 20, 1881, letter to the editor by four ministers.

99. Alabama Christian Advocate, 08 1, 1895.

100. Whitaker, W. C., Richard Hooker Wilmer, Second Bishop of Alabama, A Biography (G. W. Jacobs and Company, Philadelphia, 1907), pp. 244246.

101. Kroll, Harry Harrison, Waters over the Dam (Bobbs-Merrill Company, First Edition, Indianapolis, Indiana, and New York, 1944), pp. 163 ff.

102. Richardson, Simon Peter, The Lights and Shadows of Itinerant Life: An Autobiography (Barbee and Smith, Nashville, Tennessee, and Dallas, Texas, 1901).

103. Ibid., pp. 209–211.

104. A group which had broken with the Baptists; not to be confused with the Holy Rollers.

105. Marengo News, Demopolis, 07 16, 1891; Our Southern Home, August 08 16, 1905.

106. Instrument of the Southern Baptist Convention.

107. Minutes of the Cahaba Baptist As.qociatiom, 1878, p. 6.

108. Minutes of the Seventy-Seventh Anneal Session of the Cahaba Baptist Association, Held with Newbern Church, Hale County, October 17th and 18th, 1894, (Marion, Alabama, 1894), p. 4.

109. Minutes of the Presbytery of Tuskaloosa, 1880 (n.p.; n.d.), p. 11.

110. Tuscaloosa Presbytery, April 04 1887, cited in Marshall, , “resbyterian Church,” vol. I, p. 380.

111. Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Presbytery of South Alabama, Eufaula, Alabama, April 17–21, 1889 (Richmond, Virginia, 1889), p. 33.

112. Minutes of the Presbytery of Tuscaloosa, 1893 (n.p., n.d.), pp. 268–270.

113. Christian Observer, January 01 27, 1904.

114. Riley, B. P., History of the Baptists of Alabama,…1800–1894, pp. 379, 381, 432, 438, 444.

115. Minutes of the Sixty-Eighth Annual Session of the Cahaba Baptist Association, Held with Pisgah Church, Perry County, Alabama, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, October 14th, 15th and 16th, 1885 (Marion, Alabama, 1885), p. 9.

116. Minutes of Cahaba Baptist Association, Ninety First Session Held with Uniontown Church, September 29–30, 1909 (Marion, Alabama, n.d.), p. 19.

117. Christian Observer, December 13, 1893, cited in Marshall, , “Presbyterian Church,” vol. I, p. 420; South Alabama Presbytery, November 11, 1892, cited in Marshall, , “Presbyterian Church,” vol. II, p. 454; Marshall, , “Presbyterian Church,” vol 5, p. 1340.

118. Minutes of the Alabama Conference of the M. E. Church South, 1870, p. 10: Christian Advocate, New Orleans, March 22, 1882; Constitution, ByLaws and Address of the Alabama Bible Society at Montgomery (Montgomery, 1896); Minutes of the Alabama Conference of the M. E. Church, South, Held at Greensboro, Alabama, December 7th to 12th; 1887 (Montgomery, 1888), p. 23.

119. Alabama Christian Advocate, August 21, 1890.

120. Riley, , A Memorial History of the Baptists of Alabama, 1808–1923, pp. 235, 323.

121. Minutes of the Cahaba Baptist Association, 1878, p. 13; Minutes of the Cahaba Baptist Association, 1885. p. 9.

122. Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Alabama Conference, Greensboro District, Quarterly Conference Record, Green Circuit Charge, 1885–1889, (State Department of Archives) April 18, 1885.

123. Minutes of the Alabama Conference of the if. B. Church, South, 1887, p. 23.

124. Marshall, , “Presbyterian Church,” vol. 6, p. 1787.

125. Ibid., vol. 6, p. 1842.

126. Union Springs Times, March 12, 1869; Livingston Journal, July 9, 1880; Alabama Baptist, April 6, 1882; York News, July 10, 1888.

127. Livingston Journal, 07 9, 1880, March 30, 1883.

128. Union Springs Herald and Times, May 14, 1884; Alabama Beacon, May 27, 1884.

129. Marion Standard, April 27, 1887.

130. Ibid., June 6, 1895.

131. Wilcox Progress, August 7, 1895.

132. Sumter County Journal, July 22, 1921.

133. Alabama Baptist, April 29, 1897.

134. Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Mt. Zion Church, Church Conference Record, 1866–1877 (Alabama State Department of Archives), October 31, 1874, p. 42.

135. Ibid., October 28, 1876, p. 44.

136. Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Alabama Conference, Greensboro Dietrict, Belmont Charge, Minutes of the Quarterly Conference, 1880–1883 (State Department of Archives), February 28, 1880.

137. Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Mt. Zion Church, Church Conference Record, 1866–1877, October 28, 1876, p. 44.

138. Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Alabama Conference, Montgomery District, Court Street Charge, Quarterly Conference Record, 1879–1882 (State Department of Archives), November 18, 1882.

139. Alabama Christian Advocate, 1890–1899, pasthn, 06 18, 1908, Alabama Baptist, 1890–1899, passim.

140. Farish, , The Circuit Rider Disnwunts, p. 368.

141. Ibid., p. 368; Minutes of the Alabama Conference of the M. B. Church, South, Held at Mobile, Alabama, December 11–17, 1878 (Union Springs, Alabama, 1879), p. 9.

142. Methodist Episcopal Chureh, South, Alabama Conference, Greensboro District Conference Records, July 17, 1902, June 21, 1906, July 18, 1889 -July 4, 1895 (State Department of Archives), July 6–8, 1905.

143. Minutes of the Sixty-Fourth Session of the Alabana Conference of the Methodist Protestant Churc1, 1892(Montgomery, 1893), p. 10.

144. Marengo News-Journal, June 9, 1883.

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